Thursday, October 13, 2005

Draftigious Canttouchthisious

(L-R BJ, Liz, Carol, Laura, Sally, Steph and Mandy pose in MD mud. Photo by Janice Risley.)

If I told myself the truth about some things, I’d never get out of bed. Take the Seagull for instance. I would have stayed right in that overpriced Days Inn in Salsibury had I not lied to myself. Certainly, I reasoned, with heavy rain and 30 mph winds no one will want to ride 100 miles. These women are tough, but they ain’t that tough. Once mud starts going up their noses and aquatic life takes residence in their shoes, it will be short cuts upon short cuts to get the hell back to the cars. So I got out of bed, ate stale muffins, drank very weak coffee and lived the lie.

The U4 and U4.5 teams met on time, but weather was clearly going to hamper our sub 4-hour and sub 4.5 hour goals. Both groups combined and decided to ride a steady pace and “enjoy” the day. Funny that it needed to pour rain for us to enjoy and not compete. From the start, Tim, Tom and Gilmer couldn’t help themselves. They picked up the pace early. A second group formed: BJ, Carol, Sally, Laura, Jay, Harlan, Paul, Art, and me. It got ugly at times. Laura went blind every time rain flooded her contacts, my hipflexers hurt like crazy from new pedals, Carol's knee flared up, we just missed sliding out on top of crash victims. The usual I guess.

But it was with this group of 9 that I pedaled to the gut of what this sport is really all about. It takes extreme weather to remind me that we live and die by the draft. As Hosang in the academic journal TriPower Listserve said:

“They use their cunning ability to help each other shelter from the howling wind and needle-like rain with a rather prehistoric method, only seen in the imagination of our ancestors. This method is called "Drafting" named after the mythological creature (Draftigious Canttouchthisious). This 'drafting' helps create a lesser work load for those behind a lead cyclist, normally, in these conditions, called a 'dummy.' For millenniums these indigenous creatures have roamed the earth with an unknown purpose, but today we can clearly see; they are trying to get from point A to point B.”

The group pivoted on the strongest draft bodies. Harlan, Paul and Art were those most capable. So the five highly outspoken women were transformed into indecisive followers. We’d just look at each other every time Harlan and Paul presented us with shortcut options. At one point we could have made it a 40 miler. Again, 60. Laura would ask Sally, what are you doing. I would look at Carol just knowing she wanted to take the shorter loop but she had little to say. BJ, yes BJ, was strangely silent. That part actually scared me a little. I found myself quite without an opinion because I knew my decisions had to be made by the strongest ones, even though I was absolutely soaking wet.

At mile 70 we were forced to choose. We could follow Paul and do 80 or follow Harlan and do the full 100. I think it really came down to the fact that Harlan is physically a better draft than his slight son Paul that we all eventually joined Harlan to complete the entire 100. Paul even joined back and took his place up front. We were true creatures of natural selection while echeloning behind Harlan, Paul and Art on the causeway into Assateague, rain and wind in a serious uproar. I felt warm and safe but NOT dry.

Things became less primordial once we arrived at civilization on Assateague. We picked up Austin, Pete and Woodhouse. Hosang, K-Dog and Brent chased to catch us at the 80 mile mark after their late start. Our ride time was a respectable 4:50. Tim, Tom and Gilmer finished in 4:30. Frank and Nick finished in the 7 hour range, and Frank H and Arthur also finished. Mandy and Steph opted for the metric century.

Maybe people can comment on some of the fringe stuff . . . !

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had to be quiet on the ride otherwise I would have drowned! To be honest I just got in my zone and pretended like I was time trialing to pass the time and was hoping that the showers at the end still had hot water. I look forward to Between the Waters on the 22nd and hope the rain and clouds give way to sunny skies.