Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bicycle baby face.

Lately it may have seemed as if I've left this blog to die of exposure like a post-partum sow rejecting the runt of the litter. I wish to confirm that this is simply not the case. It's just that like said sow's teats, I've been extremely busy, sore, and engorged. To summarize from March to nowish, I have ridden some odd rides, took (and passed) multiple exams, resumed bike-shop work, signed up for and backed out of my first race, signed up for and raced poorly in my first race, accrued a few new scars, moved my place of residence, and built up no less than two new bicycles. The next few posts will shoddily attempt to catch up.

To ensure that Spring would indeed sloppily erupt, I had to endure the final Philadelphia Spring Classic. With my last sorry attempt haunting me like a ghost from Pacman, I knew I had to release the spirits by tending to unfinished business. No matter how brutal the pain, how crappy the weather, or how bad of a hair-day I was having that day, I vowed to finish the next race.

The day started out atypically. It was a confounding fifty degrees (a heat wave by Classics standards), and even more shocking, I kept up with the pack and even felt somewhat physically capable. I should have known better and sensed that the fates/pacman ghosts had something sinister in store for me. But I didn't. I rode fast, clueless and joyously, so oblivious in fact that during a swift descent which went under a dark bridge I completely neglected to register a large and quite deep pot-hole. In the darkness of the tunnel, my front wheel dove. I was launched over handlebars into opposing traffic, landing fingers, arms, shoulders, and hip onto the gritty and decidedly hard pavement.

Terror and confusion jolted me upright. I shooed the tweeting birds flying in circles over my head away, and swung one leg over my bicycle attempting to clip back in. It was then that I noticed my bars pointing to nine o'clock, my brake levers at opposite angles, and the lack of skin on the left side of my body. I hobbled to the side of the road pushing my bike in defeat and saw Big Al, in his pink-clad heroic glory, coming to the rescue. He was wide-eyed and feared for my safety, but as feeling or sensation hadn't returned to my body yet, all I could focus on was my crumpled and disfigured bicycle. I presented it to him, which he dutifully whisked away to straighten out while I limped uphill walking off the stun of the crash. After a few minutes of tinkering, my bicycle was again road ready. Al was still terrified, but I had a seriously awesome endorphin rush which was goading me to keep riding.

We made our way through the tangle of wood which leads to Pennypack park, a planned stop along the way. While we regrouped, my endorphin rush dissipated. I was left with multiple aching bits and pieces and the pervasive sting of sweaty road rash. At this point the Classic was at the half-way point; riding home defeated would have taken as long as finishing the race, and would have been infinitely more boring. So when everyone started to leave, I resolved to follow.

Dan and Big Al towed me the next 14 miles to the liberty bell, the final stopping point, and where I ended the previous Classic. I didn't know the route from here, so it was dire that I hang on. However I wasn't aware that this last section (from the Bell to "the wall", through Forbidden Drive (4 miles of dirt), and to the finish) is treated as a ten mile sprinting party. As I was not wearing my party dress, I hopelessly fell off the back and watched the pack drift rabidly away from me, like a lycra-clad reenactment of my high school years.

I knew that the ride had to go west to ride up a large hill, "The Wall", before doubling back east and dropping onto the dirt path, so by my calculations I figured that by cutting that out, I'd meet them somewhere on Forbidden drive. I turned out to be entirely correct, and after being engulfed and spat out by the lead group, I was able to hang on with some stragglers all the way to the finish.

At the finish there were barefoot, candy-colored spandex wearing exhausted sweaty people rolling in grass, imbibing alcoholic beverages, and confusing passers-by. It was my kind of social gathering. The winner was awarded a highly coveted Bicycle Baby kit, and social good times were had by all. For team spirit, Al also awarded me with bicycle baby regalia (leftover kits that wouldn't fit anyone else).

Happy riding.