The Wheatgrass group of about fifty riders pushed up past the golf course. Golfers unloaded their expensive bags filled with implements of frustration. Where the road hits a long descent the speed picked up. Everybody got in single file. I didn’t see the kid I had yelled at last week. Perhaps he had a big test on Monday and was studying for it. Perhaps he was mad. Perhaps his parents had told him to quit riding his bike.
At the bottom of the Reservoir Climb a single figure shot out from the pack. It was the kid. He was making a statement and he was making it in all caps. “YOU THINK I’M A WHEELSUCKER? SUCK ON THIS!”
The gap he opened up was instantaneous and huge. Kenny passed by and took the bit between his teeth, stretching the pack, which had momentarily bunched, into a long strand of pain. By the first turn the chain had snapped in various places. The lead line had about fifteen riders and Kenny was storming to close the gap. I sat second wheel. We came around the second turn and Kenny kept on the gas. He was going to close the gap and then detonate. The kid had slowed down a lot.
Kenny popped. There were about 100 yards between the kid and the remaining ten riders. The moment my front wheel got within five feet of his, the kid looked back. He leaped out of the saddle and kicked it hard, harder even than his first attack. Everyone was pinned. All we could do was watch him open up another huge gap. When I had closed to within ten yards or so, Dan Martin attacked. Everyone watched. The kid jumped with Dan, but couldn’t hang on. Dan rolled away.
When the kid was finally overhauled, two turns from the top, he had given it his all. “Great riding,” I said as we passed.
Clodhopper punched it up Better Homes, followed by Marc Mansolini. The Wily Greek came by, slowed down, way down, and let me grab his wheel. He towed me to the base of the climb to the Domes and then rolled away, easily. We regrouped at the water fountain and Cyclist FilAm got it started on the Glass Church climb. Three-quarters of the way up, the kid appeared again, jets blazing, shedding the entire group except for one or two riders.
This day it was the old, wheezing guys desperately trying to hold onto his wheel. That of course is the proper order of things. He went so hard and spent so much time out in the wind, I don’t even think he noticed the wrinkled shrapnel in his wake. The next time I have a mind to give someone advice about bicycle riding, maybe I won’t give them any.