This is the latest installment in big jonny’s TGIF posts. Yeah, someone needed to bat clean-up on the workweek. And I’m your boy. One in from my man Tom F today. A bit dated, truth be told, as he sent this to me in October (!). I know, I know, things get lost from time to time in the draft pile. Better late than never, right? I’m swinging yard, folks. Yard.
It seems there is a strong contingency of racers & riders that love to wait until the last minute to get their gear together before a big ride or event. Some are warranted in that they truly have very busy lives or they really did just get all the needed supplies. Others have simply procrastinated. I’m a blend of the two…a lot of emphasis on the later trait.
The night-before-scramble is a common theme that every one of us has experienced. It’s become part of the culture of bike racing for me. I watched this complicated, unavoidable, well choreographed stumble unfold before the 2011 Pines to The Mines event in Flagstaff AZ. My teammate built a top-drawer bike for the event, a ground up total build. It’s a big part of his employment, and not his first one by any means. Depart times were stalled, urgency & stress embraced, favors were asked. There we were @ Revolution bikes after hours the night before the event (THANKS CJ & crew for hanging). Slap that wheel on & call it good!!!!………..” Uh, did you feel how soft that front break feels?”….” Where is the bleed kit at?” And so it goes.
Build-ups & tech stuff aside, rolling out to the event on time is also a common challenge amongst riders. My crew was unloading the car @ 6:56am, the event is supposed to depart 7am. I confess, I was moving at the speed of smell. Luckily the event also likes to roll slow….7:10-ish start. Sometimes I think I could never do it any other way. This time was really pushing it. An appropriate saying “Poor planning on your behalf is not an urgency on mine.” I truly empathize with the punctual friends, family, victim volunteers & organizers of the events we crash with our slack.
After the “neutral” wander through neighborhoods & intersections we eventually hit the dirt road that signifies the start of whatever pace you wanna be a part of. Local favorite Brad Johnson lead out an increasingly fast pace. I tucked up on his wheel & listened to the respirations of my chest climb to an unsustainable rate……hmmmm I should have warmed up from 6:58am to 7am. Just one more little hill and we’ll settle in…..POP!! Time to regroup, shit shouldn’t hurt this bad this early…got 80miles to go. Amateur. My mate & I settled into a rhythm and we let Brad, Adam Cornette and others get outa sight. We scooped up a few more riders & set a brisk pace line that felt appropriate. A few hills were crested quickly, kept that momentum pouring on the downhill….sweet. Had two close calls w/ 18-wheeler cattle trucks coming at us fast. Fuckers shoved us into the gutters. Swear they smiled, waved, and centered their bumpers midroad, & increased speed as they nuked us w/ ¾ mile rooster tails of dust. Cattle urine/ fecal odor compliments of the cargo bitches!!!!
Just as my legs and head felt optimistic about the day I started to question the length of our dirt road stint. My teammate took a peel down the line & shot the dreaded observation as he slipped by…..”I haven’t seen any other bike tires in a while”. The I-phone confirmed our status. We took a dead end road to a postcard view of Sedona & it was cliffs and 2000ft drops all round. “Oh well, we’ll get some long miles in”….I’m very grateful that my companions were cool with it. We eventually jumped onto 89a north of the switchbacks & rode that all the way to Jerome Gold king mine. 95 mile day with already prepped food & cold beer @ the end of the rainbow. Not bad. We still hit the climb into Jerome hard & I was pretty worked over.
After cleaning up & eating we enjoyed the company of Flagstaff’s bike culture. Good people. Congrats to Brad for taking the overall. Thank you Scott Miller & everyone else who helped with this awesome ride.