Friday, November 27, 2009

My Thanksgiving Day ride

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and that means a it is a time for traditions. You have the tradition of spending time with your friends and family to give thanks. The tradition of eating way too much even though last year you promised yourself you would never eat that much again. Of course, we can’t forget football, whether it’s watching or playing. For me, you have to add the tradition of cycling.

This was the second year I joined the NorCal Annual Thanksgiving Day Ride. Last year I got the chance to participate thanks to a heads-up from my cycling buddy Jeff. This year my invite came via Facebook.  I must be moving up in the world.

There was one big difference for me this year. Last year I recognized about 10 people and personally only knew 4 of them. This year, I knew 30 or more of the 100+ riders. That’s the kind of year it’s been. I have made it to some great rides and met a tremendous number of local riders this year. I even met a new friend on Thursday after he realized the coffee was not free. As he started to his car to see if he had cash I simply said, “It’s on me” as I paid for both of us.

At 9:10, we roll out. Last year, we stayed fairly mellow until we hit the hill on Pine Flat. What would this year bring? Well, once again we started out at a mellow pace. As we head out town I noticed a young lad (he was 8) riding with his father. He was holding the pace well and I was impressed with his determination. I also enjoyed listening to dad give advice on how to move within the peloton. Then someone up front yelled “car up!’ and we began to bunch up.

As we were slowing, I let the young lad in front of me as his father guided him to the right. Just as his back wheel cleared my front wheel something happened and he simply went down. I am now heading straight for the small of his back as he lays on the road and thinking, “Sh!t!, I cannot run over this kid!” Fortunately, I was already breaking because of the slowing pack and managed to stop literally (not an exaggeration) inches from his back. So, first I breathed a sigh of relief and then I braced for impact.

The first bike from behind collided with the rear derailleur while the handle bar and brakes from a second bike struck my leg with decent force. Everyone else managed to stop so it wasn’t too bad. The lad was fine and no one was upset because in cycling accidents happen. I fixed the dropped chain and the rubbing back brake and headed out. Then I noticed the front brake was also rubbing. By the time I fixed all of this the peloton was nowhere in sight. Even my little guy that crashed had already gotten back on the bike and was once again pedaling down the road.

So the chase was on. There’s only one problem. I’ve spent the last 5 weeks doing nice easy rides and now I want my body to crank out the watts at maximum effort. It said no. Also, the pack I am chasing is faster then me anyway so, really, what’s the point?  So, I settle into a good rhythm, meet up with some friends at a regroup spot and then form a nice train the rest of the way to Pine Flat.

I managed to climb very well Thursday. I decided to lift my cadence about 10 RPMs above what I originally planned. I was able to hold this pace to the pond where I decided to stop. Actually, many of the day’s riders planned on stopping there so we regrouped and got ready to head home. Just then, some of the big guns, led by Odessa Gunn, came screaming down the descent. We joined the fun and for the next 10-minutes enjoyed the roller coaster descent that only Pine Flat can offer.

This same group of riders stayed together all the way to the finish. As we rolled along, people began to peel off and pedal towards the rest of their day. Me, I got home right on time, ate left over cassoulet as a recovery meal and watched a little football before going to dinner with the family. It was yet another great day for which to give thanks.

Lastly, I always end my T-day blogs with a reminder to not wait until the 4th Thursday of November to give thanks. Take a minute everyday to be thankful and to thank those around you who make your world a better place. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.


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