Thursday, June 3, 2010

Autumnal meanderings

I went on my favourite easy two hour ride this morning, the cold morning air and thick cloud cover gave the morning that still “European” feeling to it.

While I was cruising down a short descent on an undulating road popular with local cyclists I was passed by a rider in full Live Strong regalia thrashing away as he was tucked onto his clip on aero bars. Whenever I see somebody descending past me on aero bars it makes me shake my head in disbelief (and gently apply my brakes). I watched as he slowly gained distance with his daredevil downhill plunge half expecting him to hit an unexpected dip in the road at any moment which would send him flying, thankfully this didn’t happen.

I continued on at my own leisurely pace. I was around 20 metres behind him when he looked over his shoulder to see if I had decided to take up the chase. Of course I hadn’t and wouldn’t, if I had wanted to get involved in some kind of tough guy half wheeling slug fest I would have gone for a ride with a particular friend of mine (we all have one) but as it happens it was Thursday and I just wanted to enjoy an easy cruise. Of course the inevitable happened and as I was half way up the next short hill (still cruising at my own comfortable pace) I caught him. I rode by at 20kmph as he wrestled with his aero bars and started changing (mashing) gears in an attempt to slot into my slipstream. I’m not sure how much of a slipstream I was creating at 20kmph, obviously not enough because the sound his steam train like breathing, creaking bottom bracket, jingling tools, clicking gears and mucked up chain faded off into the distance behind me. I make it a point never to look over my shoulder when I pass someone in these types of situations, doing so is akin to making eye contact with a crazy person on public transport. It’s a validation for them to begin some sort of discourse with you. In this case the discourse is a race. I am actually all for chatting to strangers out training if you both happen to be headed the same way and are travelling at the same pace and are both in the same non racing frame of mind.

I rolled along enjoying the beginnings of the day as it unfolded around me but in the back of my mind I knew what was going to happen, sure enough before too long the steam train breathing and the unpleasant sound of a poorly maintained bicycle was looming behind me. Mr Live Strong was on my wheel. I remember thinking please, please just leave me alone, I don’t want to be anywhere near you let alone race you. Just leave me in peace! I had set out with no intention of going outside my comfort zone but I found myself so agitated that I could think of nothing else but riding away from this guy. Then the internal conflict began.

Option 1: If I ride away from him (however effortless I may try and make it look) it may confirm (in his mind) that we are engaging in some sort of race thereby swindling myself out of my easy ride.

Option 2: Let him past and wait for him to ride away till I can continue unmolested thus altering my planned uncomplicated morning ride, in doing so it may also give him the impression that we are racing and even worse that he is winning!

I was in a quandary, either way I was entering into a situation which was ruinous to my intended solo meditative training ride. These days I struggle to maintain some sort of training routine and it bothers me when outside factors force me to deviate from it. Excitement is for Tuesday and Wednesday mornings not Thursday!  It was then that the answer came to me.

I turned left and took a detour. Thankfully he didn’t follow.

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