Here’s the latest installment, though I’m getting long winded, and distracted by bike racing, my real fear is that this shows my bias towards Anglos. If you ride, formally, with clubs and packs check this for realism and send me a line. And of course, if you want to start from the beginning, go here.
The man on the bridge with the tight clothes who rode earnestly up the bridge before dawn, wasn’t in a hurry to tell his Manhattan club about the guy on the bouncy bike who passed him in the darkness over the East River. He rode his older bike, a classic Reynolds Raleigh with a Campagnolo grupo, a bike that a serious cyclist of the 1970s might have ridden. At 30 Mike was becoming as much a hobbyist as a bike racer, his wins becoming more and more infrequent. But, generally speaking, he was in excellent shape and was rarely passed by other bicycles.
He met the rest of this morning’s pack on the hill above the bronze cougar on Central Park Drive East where the races start and end. George, the alpha rider in their club had set this as the place to meet because Mike would always beat him up every hill and if they started atop a hill there’d be one less place for him not to shine. As they waited for the rest of the guys they made small talk about their commutes to Central Park as they unwrapped Mylar covered treats to fuel their laps this morning. Careful to fold the wrappers up and put them in their rear pockets in keeping with their idea of themselves as environmental warriors, they complained about the taste of the various nostrums of Goo, chewy power bars and crumbly Cliff Bars (because salt was, of course, the magic ingredient).
The buildings on the east side of the park had started to grow halos in the minutes before dawn as they set off in the pack. It was agreed that they would stay together for the first three laps, working on drafting and their cohesion as a “pack.” George, to try to wash the tar of primadona off his kit, led for the entire first lap, though they all knew that Mike could have taken them up the hills much more quickly. As he followed with his wheel six inches off of George’s, not passing to keep the peace in the pack, he kept thinking about the kid with the basket. George’s alpha status was contingent on beating, soundly and humiliatingly, at least once a ride each of the other men on his team. He had been riding harder on the bridge than he was here, even accounting for the fact that he was drafting off of George’s tight ass. His specialty was hills and to have been passed near the summit of the Queensboro Bridge by a guy on a dual suspension delivery bike with a basket was surprising and a little humiliating.