I carefully went over my race plan with Derek on Saturday night. “Look, Wanky,” he said. “Don’t be an idiot.”
“That’s a tall order. Sears Tower tall.”
“I know. But you can do it. Here’s the deal,” he said. I was so excited because I love talking pre-race strategy. Not that I ever implement it, but it’s fun. “You have to wait ’til halfway. Don’t smash yourself at the beginning.”
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Yeah. Halfway through everyone will sit up.”
“Yeah. And they’ll be tired.”
“Yeah. Because of all the knuckleheads who’ve been killing themselves from the beginning.”
“Yeah. But not you. You’ve waited until … how long are you gonna wait?”
“Halfway!” I shouted.
“Exactly! And because it’s halfway and all the knuckleheads have been attacking from the gun, you’re gonna be fresh.”
“Yeah. And that’s when you’re gonna attack. One time. And make it stick.”
Derek shrugged. “Cross that bridge when you come to it.”
On the morning of the race my teammates were really happy to have me there. They were as excited as I was. “Hi, Eric!” I said. Eric is our team leader and super fast guy. He and I are pals. I said hello a few more times and he turned around.
“Oh, it’s you.”
“Yep. Here to work for the team!”
Eric came over to me. “Look, Wanky. Do two things.” He looked kind of upset.
“Yeah. One — stay out of my way.”
“Two — don’t chase me down. Got that?”
“Yep! It’s gonna be a fun race, huh?” I don’t think he heard me because he had already turned away. Then I saw my other best friend, Josh. “Hey, Josh!” I said. He didn’t answer for a few minutes but I kept calling his name and since he was standing next to me he finally heard me.
“Yeah?” he said.
“Well, ol’ pal, it’s gonna be a fun race today, huh?” I said.
“Look, Wanky, I don’t have time to fuck with your bullshit today. If you chase me down again in another race I’m going to kick your ass with a tire iron.”
“Did I chase you down last time?”
“No. You chase me down every time. And we’re all sick of it.”
“If someone would just tell me what to do.”
“We yell at you until we’re hoarse and you still chase us down. So cut the crap.”
“Okay, pal,” I said. “I’ve got a special plan for today anyway.” The rest of the team kind of glowered, but it was a happy, friendly sort of glower.
Soon the race started. Just like Derek said, the idiots all attacked from the gun, but not me. I did exactly what he said and waited until I was halfway through the first lap. Then I attacked. However, no one had sat up and no one looked very tired. In fact, they all looked quite fresh because they were all on my wheel. So I moved over and waited for another lap. “Maybe he meant halfway through the second lap,” I thought, and so I attacked again, but no luck. “Well it must have been halfway through some lap,” I told myself, so each time I got halfway through a lap I attacked I but never got anywhere except really tired.
Finally, about halfway through the race, everyone sat up. I was pretty beat from all the attacking, but I attacked again and they let me go. After a while out there I got even more tired. The wind was blowing and my bike wasn’t going very fast and I had all kinds of breakfast stuff gurgling up into my mouth. Yuck. Then some guy bridged up to me and I remembered the winning advice given to me by Daniel Holloway, 3-time elite national champion, which was this: “Be the second strongest guy in the break.”
That was gonna be easy since there were only two of us, except the guy I was with must have heard the same advice, as he kept trying to be second to me, and me second to him, until before long we were going about twelve miles an hour and another guy came up to us, a teammate, and then three more guys, including Josh. I was so happy to see Josh because he is a hammer. “Hey, pal!” I said happily.
“Don’t you dare chase me down. Or Ino, either,” he said, pointing to the other teammate.
“Oh, I won’t!” I promised.
“And remember, the fastest guy in the race is Eric and he’s back there, and none of us three can sprint so we’re not going to win out of this break, so let the other wankers do all the work so that either Eric can bridge and win or one of us can attack at the end when the others are all tired. Whatever you do, don’t fuggin’ work hard.”
I tried to remember all of what he said but it was too darned complicated and plus being in a break is the most exciting thing ever so I just went to the front and hammered as hard as I could. There was a young kid who had also bridged who never took a pull and sat on the whole time, but I didn’t pay any attention to him. Lazy kid. He was probably thinking about his math homework.
Josh kept yelling at me something about sitting in or sitting down or sitting duck but I was too tired to understand what he said. Towards the end someone attacked hard and opened a big gap; it looked like the winning move but thankfully I shut it down with a superhuman effort, then I realized it was my teammate Ino, darn it.
Then the lazy kid with the math homework who’d done nothing the whole break leaped away with one and a half laps to go. For a little punk he went fast. Somehow I caught him and then everyone slowed down. Next thing I knew our ringer Eric had bridged with 3/4 of a lap to go. He looked fast and primed for victory.
Then things got confusing. Some guy who looked pretty sprintworthy jumped hard right before the last turn. I got on his wheel and then some other things happened, I’m not sure what, but afterwards I heard some people saying that perhaps I had exploded in the middle of the sprunt and blocked all my teammates so that the lazy kid actually won. Not sure that’s true, by the way, but after the race none of my teammates would talk to me.
I think they were just tired.
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