Thursday, April 23, 2009

He Ain't Heavy

Lucas flatted early on yesterday's Trek store ride. It was his fourth flat on the same tire in about as many rides. Something ain't right with your tire there, buddy.

When a cyclist flats on a group ride, there's no standard group protocol.

It's been my observation that if the group is less than eight, then everyone stops for a breather. Most mask their gratitude with smart-ass suggestions on how to fix the flat better/faster. Jerks.

But in a larger group, the chances are greater that most (if not all) will continue onward. I don't know why this is, but I have some theories. For one, there's a higher probability that you will not know everyone that you're riding with. As a result, subsets form within the group based on familiarity. If that flatter is not among your subset, then she/he's not your problem. Move along. Yet again, cyclists can be elitist jerks.

Another theory is based on group-think mentality. In a peleton, it's easy to transfer individual identity for that of the larger mass. If the pack is going light and easy, you are too; when you sense the pace picking up, you follow. If someone drops, the herd is being pruned. That sort of stuff. You become a collective hive, a sort of commune. Cyclists can be communist jerks.

So when Lucas called out his flat and slowly descended backwards through the pack, I took note but kept pedaling. I looked over my shoulder and saw him drift onto the side of the road without much more than a passing thought about stopping. In fact, at that very moment, the collective (commie-bastards) was just kicking up the tempo for the first hill climb at N. 108th St.

Just as I was thinking that a hammer and sickle tattoo would like nice on my ankle, Shim drifted back to ask what happened to Lucas. After relaying the details, Shim said not to worry as Lucas would be more than able to catch up later.

Shim was right. Lucas is as strong and quick as a thoroughbred horse. I had no doubt that he could bridge. Yet while I climbed the hill, I kept thinking how sucky it is to have to time-trial on what was supposed to be group ride. So after cresting, I disengaged and let the pack go ahead. I was going to wait.

Fr. Flannagan would have been moved to tears from such fraternity.

Ten minutes pass. Finally, a rider appears on the horizon. As he approaches, I drop into the small chain ring and start spinning to get my heart rate up. But after a quick glance over the shoulder, I realize that it's not Lucas. I let him go.

A few more minutes pass. Along comes another rider. Small chain ring, spinning. Again not Lucas.

Two more riders appear. Repeat above.

Another rider dots the horizon. Not Lucas, but this one mistakes me for CAT 1-2 rider Kent McNeil. Kent must ride a yellow bike, I think to myself.

Just as I was suspecting that Lucas had yet another (5th) flat, here comes the Calvary. Yes, it's Lucas alright, and he's mashing like a madman while motioning to me to get going. Crap!!

Now when two riders need to make up lost time, they typically share leading/drafting to conserve energy. That didn't occur last night. What happened was that I became fatigued and drafted him. For 90 minutes. To be fair, there were a few very short mercy-pulls where Lucas slipped behind my wheel, but by and large, it was a VO2-Max burn just to hang on. In fact, my heart rate monitor registered a BPM max of 188, topping my previous cycling high watermark of 186.

We never did meet up with the group. They turned left at Ft Calhoun while we incorrectly guessed to the right. The truth is that I hoped that we wouldn't catch a glimpse of them a mile or so down the road. Yes, it would have been easier once regrouped, but closing the gap while chasing Lucas' wheel would have been utter hell.

Finally, even more ironic than a failed bridging assistance was the mistaken belief that I could offer mechanical help if needed. Mistaken because my saddle pack was strapped to the TT bike back home. Fortunately, it wasn't needed.

Ha! Glad to be of assistance, Lucas.

Next time, kindly remember: I ain't heavy, I'm your brother.


  1. So,here is what really happened....We slowed down a lot and did the soft pedal for about five to ten minutes. Even though I am supposed to be in charge of the ride, when the group wants to pick it up, they pick it up. Anyway, so we went pretty easy until we hit the Omaha Trace, since we wanted to do the whole loop we had to sacrafice Lucas (and you) in order to get the full loop in. If we would have had more day light we would have probably sent back some help, but no one seemed to want to volunteer.

    As you may have heard we have also gone back for a rider earlier this year when we didn't know what happened to him, to find out later that he simply had enough and turned for home.

    P.S. I'm a strong capitalist.

  2. You only hit 188? I've hit that already and I'm 6 years older than you and my heart's a pumpin like a big ole' grapefruit.

    Due to my travels, March 2009 was my least mileage since i bought my Tarmac in 2007, and in April I'm only going to go over 100 today with an afternoon ride. It sucks to travel so much, but its what I do.

    I'll be ready to lead MIGBRIH though....

  3. Hey I did think you were Kent because of the yellow bike. If I knew you guys were coming back I would have waited and rode with you. I asked Lucas if he needed anything and he said no. I wasn't sure he was with the group so I kept on.

  4. Shim, thanks for reminding me about the Chief Yellow Tablet list that had been tucked away in my Franklin planner all these years. Printed in heavy-handed blank ink are these indelible words:

    ..etc ...etc ...
    3) RONALD REAGAN (oops. no upd since '04)
    2) MY MOM
    There you have it, man. You're totally square in my books.

    As for the ride, I have no issues whatsoever with the group moving along. In fact, I'm quite sure that if Lucas (any rider) had asked for help, some would have gladly stayed behind. He didn't. I chose to volunteer. What I found funny was the sense of conflict I felt about it. On the one hand, I was content to just to sit in and let Lucas deal with his own problem. Yet on the other hand -- when I felt a stronger altruistic pull to sit up & wait -- my assistance was not only unnecessary, but quite nearly became a liability as I was nearly dropped and didn't have a saddlebag.

    Murphini: Yes, 188 is my max bike BPM. Running is 192. Seeing pictures of Bryan Redemske's crash: 220 BPM.

    Anyway, don't worry about missing out on some biking time due to traveling. You've got fresh legs. Better times around the corner. Looking forward to MIGBRIH.

    Flanders - Thank you for the comment and clarification. Also, I didn't know Kent has a yellow bike, but I'd be willing to bet that it's not a 1999 GT ZR-4000 frankenbike with a smashing yellow powdercoat.

    I'll look to introduce myself to you at the next ride.

  5. Oh Brady...I am not an imperialist but it pisses me off to see people idiolise a rascist murderer and claim he was an individual for freedom. Rather than being for freedom he was rather for his own freedom without helping his people. He was opposed to hippes and university students - the very americans who made him become an icon after his death.

    Now Brady, come on let not get carried away...(Plagiarized by Shim.)