Tuesday Night Hustle – The Night I Was a Nail

June 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

I first heard about the Tuesday Night Hustle last year on a Saturday Pronto ride. The Pronto rides are usually A level rides with some B+ riders, and depending on who shows, a few A+ and A++ level riders who are willing to put the hammer down every once in a while. It all depends on who shows up. In more cases than not, the Pronto Ride is not a hammer-fest. This essay is about The Tuesday Night Hustle, and not The Pronto Ride. In any case, I had heard about this ride that once it leaves the confines of Red Bank over the still-temporarily-structurally-standing Front Street bridge, it opens up into full-on-hold-on-for-dear-life and whatever you do, don’t get dropped.

I will talk more about the nature of the TNH (aka Tuesday Night Smack Down, aka Tuesday Night Torture) another time. What I wish to talk about now is last nights’ ride. I was able to make it this week, not having stayed too late at work, and not having a call of nature move me just as I attempted to leave, and letting the dog out back and productive, I was able to get out of my driveway with more than enough time to be on time.

It was immediately apparent that the effects of efforts made this past weekend were still lingering deep in the solid muscle tissue of my aging legs. Couldn’t be sure though, because until you get into the ride and really loosen up, you just really don’t know how it will go. Suspect the worst, and hope for a little better. I didn’t want to push it getting over there, so I took Branch Avenue in and practiced my new art of “Taking the Lane” when the road surface rivals that of a hunk of rock from space. Aided by a tail wind, I flew up Branch in the middle of the lane thinking “No honking? This ain’t so bad” until I crested the small rise, and looking back couldn’t see a car at all. They were all stuck at White Road. Better for me.

I rolled up to Red Bicycle (Official start for an unofficial ride) to find Derek out front. There was at least one hammer that was going to put the hurt in. There were a couple of guys I hadn’t met before, and then a new friend John came out and I started to suspect we had something developing. Some of the characters from last year I haven’t see Tuesdays, so it seems like a crap shoot who you are going to get.

Pretty Boy rolled out his door “Biiiiiiiird! Where the el av you been?” and rolled off. The ride commences when Pretty Boy starts. Already there was something about this edition of the TNH that was already strange. Rolling down West Front Street there wasn’t a gauntlet of exiting cagers that couldn’t wait to get outta Dodge and get home. It was rather uneventful. We picked up a couple more riders I didn’t recognize and we turned onto Hubbard to begin the meaty part of the ride.

At this point I am feeling okay. Perhaps I can be one of the hammers on the whole ride and lay some hurt into the crowd. There are a lot of unknown faces for whom I don’t even have first names, and certainly I don’t have anything more to judge their abilities than the radness of their kit and the quality of their ride. Still we are just rolling along, nothing special, and nothing like last year. I just rolling with it until I finally roll to the front right at the point we cross Normandy Road and Nutswamp (Yeah it was Hubbard but now it is Nutswamp! Welcome to Jersey!) starts to gain elevation, so I do my best to maintain speed and put that first stab of the knife into the belly of the beast.

A short but sweet hill it is, and soon we arrived at Middletown-Lincroft with a small gap and the line strung out a little bit. We got the green, made the left, Pretty Boy took the lead and soft-pedaled for a short ways, and then handed it off to me again. Figuring the soft-pedaling let everyone get on, and we now had a slight downhill into the wind, I dropped a few gears and started to put down some effort. Still feeling like a hammer, I didn’t want to use all my matches so I only pulled halfway down the road and pulled off, and sure enough we were all pretty much together. I slid back and back and back until I reached the end, slid in and when new friend John came back, I gave him a “Last!” so he knew the end of the train was there, and we rolled into the right turn onto Bamm Hollow Road.

This is usually where a big effort is started which should be the first real separation of the chafe with a slight elevation gain all the way to Crawford Corner Road. The quality of the road surface isn’t terrific, but it supports speed, and though the effort didn’t start strong, I saw an opportunity to move up on some wheels, and then when I pushed through I added some effort and again put out some hammering, but thinking I needed to save, I pulled off and there were only 3 of us, so not too much rest time. Reaching Crawfords and making the right, and I was on the front again, and we had a bit of a tail wind, so I hunkered down and decided to see if I could carry us all the way to American Way. I was feeling okay until the road angled up ever so slightly and as I gained that ever so small amount of elevation, I could feel that I wasn’t going to make it all the way to American. I started counting out the rotations “1-2-3-4! 1-2-3-4!” and a quick mental calculation told me there were going to have to be about 7 more of those to crest American Way, so I pulled off and let John come through, and I slid into the back for recovery.

As seems always to be the case we caught the red light at Red Hill Road, and this allowed a re-grouping, and an opportunity to gulp some air, some fluids and to recover a little bit. Light turned green and we were into the rollers of Crawford Corner with a shitty road surface. We picked up some good speed, took our turns, I got another turn at the front, and drove some more, and not long after tagging onto the end, the shitterfuck that should have sent at least 4 of us to the hospital happened. Personally I wasn’t looking that far ahead as I was simply watching the line, but suddenly the line split, brakes applied, wheels skidded, I locked my back wheel as I approached the rider in front of me, and then I noticed the silver car that had cut across the lane and turned right in front of us thinking it could beat us. I never saw the driver. What the fug were they thinking? Don’t they have the slightest clue how fast we were traveling? 30-35 mph at that point. It is a fuggin miracle that no one got hit, hit anyone else, nor did anyone crash. We lost some tire tread, but no skin, and the car sped away up the street. Why I didn’t have my GoPro I cannot say, well I can say, I was lazy, and now I don’t have anything to examine.

After that the ride, for me wasn’t the same. The reality is I burned a lot of matches, and as it turned out, I didn’t bring a new book with me. So as we approached Holmdel Road I was straining to hold wheel, and I knew right there and then that I had just dropped my hammer, and I became a nail. The road rose, and the gap opened, and I pushed my legs, and the gap got wider, and then I caved. A cracked mortal broken yolk. fried already and not even halfway through the ride! At that point the ride was over. The remnants are strung out so far I couldn’t even see all of them, so I pretty much finished up the ride by myself glad simply to have all my skin still attached firmly to my body, and alive to fight another day.

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