Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interbike 2010 - Outdoor Demo

"Hey, they're just starting!"

That was me, crying out in shock, thinking we missed the ride when in fact they'd just started.

Kevin knew how I felt about the ride, its importance to me. He looked at me. "I don't care about riding, let's just get you out there!"

I jumped out of the truck. My foot slipped a bit as Kevin was still parking it. My anxiety got the best of me. I waited impatiently as Kevin straightened up the truck.

I tossed my sneakers in the back seat, slipping on my Sidis. The jersey went on quick, with just my wallet and phone for my pockets.

Kevin started fiddling with the front wheel of the bike. I remembered that the pump hung from the bar.

"Just rip the pump off!" I cried, thinking of the promised Mavic support.

I grabbed my helmet and went to the back of the truck. My bike was together. I figured the air pressure would be "good enough", breaking my long standing rule of checking the pressure every time I ride.

I hit the power button on the ContourHD, knowing it took a few seconds to boot up. While I zipped up my jersey I peeked around the truck, up the hill. About 100 feet away I could see the intersection, slightly blocked off by cones.

The first turn of the Tour de Lake Mead.

And the group still streamed around the corner at the bottom of the hill.

I still had several seconds to get ready.

No gloves, no Halo headband, no food. Water from Colorado in one bottle, from the ride a couple days ago. That would be enough.

Had to be enough.

"Go! Go!"

I hopped on the bike, clipped in, and rolled up the hill. I remembered to turn on the ContourHD; a comforting "beep" indicated good status. The Mavic support wagon, a Jetta Sportswagen, rolled across the intersection, followed by a Mavic motorcycle.

I rolled in behind them. I'd have to "chase through the caravan", even if it was just two vehicles long.

Then came the long run through the riders in front of me.

I started going hard, surprised at the speed I hit. Slight downhill. A hard left and the road descended more sharply. I felt a bit of softness up front.

Right. I was probably low up front.

On the hill I ran into another slight problem. I ran out of gears.

My "non-aero" wheels roll with a 12T, not an 11T, so I had to spin a bit more than normal. I rolled hard, a compact group visible at the very head of the extremely strung out line of cyclists in front of me.

I wanted to be in that group.

After a mile or so of descending I realized that chasing might be pointless. My lungs started getting raw, my breathing ragged, not good for just starting a ride.

I started to ease.

Then a small group caught me.

Obviously faster than me, they must have started a bit late.

And one of the riders in the group? A tall, thin rider in a Quick Step kit. On an Eddy Merckx bike.

A pro?

I couldn't resist, accelerating to sit on the wheels.

A couple guys seemed to be playing domestique for the QS guy, and when they sat up, blown, he rolled past them. I pounced on his wheel as he started spinning up his cranks.

We dove into a left turn, hard. Again, the front tire seemed soft, and I eased a bit to reduce the risk of sliding out. I jumped as the corner eased, regaining the QS wheel.

He rolled along, steady, not too hard, not doing anything crazy or weird. A guy just riding pleasantly hard.

I could barely breath, gasping, at the limit.

When we hit some rollers, my legs went.

And that was the end of the fast part of my ride. I struggled along until I saw the group coming back, turning around to see if my friends were in there. They'd called me just before the start, asking where I was, telling me they wanted to lead me out.

Lead me out for what?

But that wasn't the point. Two friends, one from California, the other from Texas, and both who'd been in Connecticut a long time ago, wanting to ride. My only goal for the day was to film my California friend, and I would skip part of the ride to do so.

I didn't see either, although I saw some big hitters in the front group.

When the road started heading back up, I headed straight out the back.

At some point I managed to get some footage of my California friend, climbing the long hill into the wind.

And that was the ride.

I'd made the trip this year to Interbike to do some work, new for me, but hopefully something that would mesh well with my personality. A dream for me, really, something so absurdly cool that I couldn't talk about it until it happened - I was afraid it wouldn't be real.

Today, although I didn't know it, I'd start earning my keep. I thought I'd just tag along for the day, learn the trade, and ply it the next few days. Instead, diving into the deep end, I took some tentative initial steps. With a lot of friendly tips and advice from others, I started feeling better about my work, thinking of things to improve, thinking of things I wanted (or didn't want) to do.

I'll write about it more, but for now, I need to get to sleep.

So, till tomorrow, good night. I hope tomorrow to have a cool link or two.

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