Sunday, January 16, 2005

Snowy Scene and About Us

Our ride group in Williamsburg today included those who completely ignored snow forecasts and packed up the gear. Janice, BJ, Lance, Mark, Nick, Frank, and Laura drove from Virginia Beach; Sally, Pam and I from Norfolk; and Carol and Mandy from Hampton. The snow flurries at the beginning of the ride fell with hardly a comment, and it was then I realized that very few of us knew how truly miserable this 55-mile loop could be. Pam, Carol, Mandy and I are the only ones who had ever done the loop, and only Carol and I remember the time a group of us got caught on the loop in bitter cold as it started to rain.

Anyway, we left from Bike Beat after making some adjustments on Mark’s bike (I must apologize to those who seemed to think I implied women are not mechanical, don’t have tools, etc. As Mandy said, “Just because you are not mechanical does not mean the rest of us aren’t”). Ok, whatever, one thing is for sure, the women on this team (along with Pam of JRVS of course) are the most awesome group of people to ride with ever.

We managed through the first 25 miles of the course backwards without incident. We did some rotating pace line on the wide-open spaces, but mostly stuck to single line format. The snow continued to fall, but the temp stayed in mid-to upper- 30’s, so there was no accumulation and no one really got too cold. Carol and Mandy usually go out backwards for 90 minutes and then return for 90 minutes, so when we got to the point in the loop that Carol is not familiar with, she called out to me, “OK, you’re on your own with the turns.”

Naturally, that is where the trouble started. We almost missed a critical turn onto Rt. 600 at about the half way point, and it was then as I consulted the map that I realized I would be one of the few in the group who could even read the map. Every time I asked someone to look with me, she would say, “Oh, I can’t see that, I don’t have on my glasses.” As one who does not (yet) wear glasses, I never considered that any spec wearer who rides would leave the frames and contacts at home while riding. Gosh, doesn’t everyone need to be able to see in front of her while in a tight pace line? What else can’t these people see, I wondered.

14-year-old Nick did have on his glasses, but I did not get him involved in our navigation issues. Nick did a great job despite having just recovered from the October accident that left him with a broken tibia, fibula and collarbone. I heard Janice talking with 13-year-old Mark about how someday when he wins the Tour de France, he will tell the world that he started out riding with a bunch of old women. Mark is quite talented and very hard working, so this scenario seemed quite believable. This was Janice’s last ride with us for a while since she will return to England for the next 6 weeks to visit her daughter’s family. Janice’s background includes back-country mountain biking where she and her husband have done land-navigation courses. She did her first competitive race this year at the Virginia State Time Trail.

Three of the newest members of TriPower, BJ, Laura, and Sally, have all been riding with the group for about a year now. Laura ran cross country in college, started swimming way back when, and has been cycling for several years. She had a stellar 4th place in VA Duathlon (W30-34) this year. Sally comes from a cycling family (also British). Her father Pete is one of the strongest 60+ cyclists in the area, and her brother Nick has long ties with our team (did 24 Hours of Canaan with the old guard led by Pat Quinn) and is now living in England. Sally spent a couple of years in the Peace Corps where she had the only mountain bike in the village.

BJ was a local standout runner turned cyclist who is one of the strongest cyclists I know. She started out just a year ago when she showed up for the Saturday ride on a recumbent. Apparently, Ruberio realized immediately how ill-suited the recumbent was for this very competitive woman, so he hooked her up with a road bike and the rest of us have been chasing her ever since. She CLAIMS she was first intimidated by the Saturday rides, but none of us have any memory of her being intimidated about anything. Her husband Bob and oldest son Justin ride also. The latest addition to her bike collection is a cycling tattoo on her—well, ask her about it and she’ll show you.

Pam, Carol and I have been doing this stuff forever. I heard Pam telling someone today that she started exercising in the late 70’s when she weighed nearly 200 pounds. She said she stopped smoking on the same day she started running. Mandy and I agreed that we did both in unison for a while way back just so that we were not rushing into things. Carol of course started cycling on the mad streets of Brazil in the early 90’s and was the U. S. Navy’s first female rescue swimmer in the mid-90’s.

Between Pam, Carol and me pointing out turns, things went pretty smoothly after the Rt. 600 missed turn. We did the section of road affectionately named the “Paris-Roubaiux” since it is narrow and bumpy, saw the place where legendary cyclist Camilla Buchanan went off the road, and sited the “old tree” that has reportedly been on the roadside since colonial times. After that point, things fell apart a bit. The bathroom breaks started to split the group and as it turned out several missed a turn near Waller Mill. I was glad to be in company with Mark, BJ, Janice, Sally, Nick and of course the only map as well as the only set of eyes who could read it. We somehow all ended up back together in Williamsburg, about 3 miles from the starting point but utterly lost.

Williamsburg is clearly not laid out on a grid, and the map showed a different street pattern than the current pattern. Since we were doing the course backwards, I was very turned around, and every person we asked was a visitor in town (clearly, tourism is doing just fine in W-burg). The most helpful person was an Aussie (I thought Brit but Sally said firmly he was Australian) who pointed us back to Monticello Ave. For the last several miles both Pam and Nick had slow leaks and we were working very hard to avoid tire changes so close to the finish. Big recognition goes to Lance (who incidentally drives the ultimate cyclist vehicle, the VW van) who again put up with all of us for yet another long ride.

Afterward, Frank and Nick returned home as the rest of us convened in Starbucks across the street. Mark heard a few things he probably shouldn’t have, Carol showed us her new Vision tri-bars, BJ shared her homemade sports bars, and we lamented not purchasing stock in Starbucks, at which point we were reminded that it was time to get back to the other lives we lead.

1 comment:

lv2ride said...

It is much easier to see someone’s butt or rear wheel in front of you than to read a map that has been reduced to a size 4 font!