68 miles later…
Happy Friday everyone!
On Tuesday, I thought we had a pretty exciting cycling practice, and I was literally thinking about what to write here while I was pedaling along North Road.
To start with, we rode past a mysterious dog who seemed to like to sprint more than most riders on the team (for any who have seen the film “American Fliers,” this dog was pretty much exactly like Eddie). We rode past him again, because North Road is an out-and-back ride, and this time, he knew we were coming. Ben was almost sacrificed in the process of sprinting away from what can only be described as the most overenthusiastic fan of GA cycling that I have ever encountered.
In addition to exciting animal encounters, we were riding in the rain on wet pavement, which is always more of an adventure than one might hope. It completely messes up the drafting system because if you ride directly behind the person in front of you, you get sprayed directly in the face by their back tire. This is mostly just unpleasant, but Ben pointed out that it can be dangerous, too, when he said “Marcello, if I hadn’t spit out every drop of water you’ve been flinging into my mouth, I probably would have drowned by now.”
So anyway, I had this glog all planned out: it was going to be all about how interesting it is to ride bikes in the rain: how much it changes the dynamic of the sport, pros and cons (mostly cons) of group riding when the pavement is wet, and how seeing who complains the least shows how tough the team is.
Then Wednesday happened. Game changer.
Riding 26 miles on North Road on wet pavement in sprinkling rain seemed like nothing compared to the A group’s 3 hour exodus up Grafton Notch and back down. There are so many riders on the team this year that we don’t all fit in the van that Southam usually drives us back down the notch in, so those who were deemed able got to ride back to Gould. It was a nice 42 miles.
And by “nice 42 miles” I mean 42 miles of rain, hail, sleet, semi-trucks, frozen toes, and lactic acid buildup. So much rain. So much hail. So much lactic acid buildup.
Grafton Notch is our home race course. One day a year, we make all the other teams drive up here to Bethel to race through 23 miles of scenic hills, waterfalls, and moose, and almost make it all the way to New Hampshire. In short, it’s a fairly grueling race, and although days like Wednesday seem to really suck while you’re in the middle of your sixth hill climb and it starts hailing through the vents on your helmet, we need days like that to prepare us for racing those same hills. The upshot of it all is that the Grafton climb isn’t even the worse race on our circuit. In reality we should probably just train on bike treadmills that are constantly angled up to prepare ourselves for the amount of climbing that awaits this season.
Needless to say, this is Maine, and it will continue to rain. Riding in the rain is what separates the weak from the winners, or so I like to think in my head when I’m being pelted head to toe with sharp, staccato raindrops. The moral behind this story is: don’t mess with Gould Cycling. We’re more hardcore than all of the other sports combined.
Everyone should also closely follow our sport this year — despite the excitement, oxygen deprivation, and crash potential in cycling, it’s somehow not quite the spectator sport of choice here at Gould. Let’s change that. If you want to see some carnage and some feats of inhuman endurance, stamina, and courage, come watch us in action.
Here’s to dry roads and tailwinds,