Time Trial

“It’s a study in brinkmanship, really. One has to concentrate on a few things. Keeping the stroke round, keeping the cadence adequately high, relaxing into the straightest line. But holding oneself as close to the limit as possible, for an hour, without going over the limit, that’s the bigger challenge.”

“And there is always music in your head?”

“Always, and never pre-planned. Upbeat, obviously. But I’ve never pre-planned it, and I can’t really recall specifically what’s popped into my head in the past. The La’s probably. Maybe Zeppelin. Maybe I should pre-plan.”

“That would be unlike you.”

“I plan every other aspect of it. The psych prep. The bike prep. Not always well, but I’m not oblivious to planning. I pre-ride the courses.”

“Plan a soundtrack then. How do you think that will go?”

“You know me a bit too well at times.”

“I know how earworms work, and you’ve brought up your earworm issues many times.”

“I have no recollection of whether I’ve had a song in my head prior to blast off or whether they just come to me.”

“Well,  start paying attention to that in place of some other aspect of your psych prep.”

“I hear you. I still wonder how much closer I’d have come to Baker if I’d been more aware of gearing. I still remember feeling complacent, just for a moment, when we crossed after the turnaround. He hadn’t taken much out of me at that point. Maybe a little. And I thought about my fifty five, and I thought I had an advantage, even on my vintage bike.”

“Tell me again,” she said smiling.

“He had the new compact drive…well, new to me. So I knew he had no bigger than a 52 up front. Lots of gentle downslope after the turnaround. I never considered the rear end. Lack of prep. I rode it on the edge all the way home, but I still think I’d have gotten another half minute on him if I’d felt more desperate.”

“Or crashed trying.”

“Considering that I’d expected him to pass me, I was pleased at first that he hadn’t. Fifteen years younger, fit and a bit crazy? I’d suggested a four minute interval at the start, hoping to hold him off, but he wanted two. My ancient reputation?”

“Could be.”

“Crossed the line and started counting. One thousand seventy when he hit the line. Fifty seconds out of me. I went from happily un-passed to a bit disappointed, and fairly quickly.”

“And then you did the math.”

“Not for about a week, but I did it. With the fifty two up front and an eleven in the rear he had almost a one hundred twenty five inch gear. My fifty five thirteen left me with just under one twelve.”

“You know that now. You won’t forget.”

“Never should have thought about it on the course. It was a lapse.”

2 responses to this post.

  1. Sorry, I’ve been otherwise engaged and then away from home.

    Sport’s thought to be muscle and related things like stamina and lunatic commitment (beyond what was previously thought possible). All matters of the moment, all irretrievable after the event.

    The amateur recalls the contest in emotional terms and usually makes a hash of it: depending heavily on meaningless qualifiers (“very”, “real”, “incredible”) eventually fading away into mere sounds: “It was so-o-o… you kno-o-ow… oh-oh-oh”. And then a series of what are fondly imagined to be expressive gasps.

    The pro (or the dead serious enthusiast) knows better. Figures, properly used, are eloquent because of their neutrality. “A 52” evokes speed and the effort needed to achieve that speed to those who know; and those who know are the target audience. Who the heck wants to talk to those who don’t know?

    The figures lay the groundwork for the final stark judgement: “It was a lapse.” See, we don’t need adjectives, do we? The truth is usually pared down.

    But the trick here is in choosing the subject and then the treatment. Comparatively modest handclapping from one who knows – modest so that I can keep it going for a while. If I counted the handclaps per minute I’d have a working definition of modest. Which you would probably to. We both know, don’t we?


  2. Penultimate sentence. Insert “agree” between “probably” and “to”.


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