The Tuesday Night Hustle – Some New and Some Returning Faces

July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

I got home early today. This week is VIP week at Fort Dix and I figured I would be tied up all day every day, but so far, this week is easier than the last two weeks! Once the VIPs come through, we can close up shop, and so we did and I was home by 4 o’clock. I have to admit, that today was pretty damn hot, and the humidity stuck to me like a wet drape. I wasn’t sure I was in the mood to go out into that mess and hammer for an hour.

As it came time to get ready, I checked my phone for any text messages, and Dougie had left me a “It’s too hot today. I think I’ll go out and do something easy”. So no Dougie, so at least it won’t be a killer pace this week. It was still only two weeks since I made my rant, and since I was the one to open my big mouth, I should make sure I was there just in case.

Out in the garage I recalled that I still had CO2 in my rear tire, or at least I thought I did because the last time I rode, Saturday morning, I lost all the air in my rear tire after I had descended the maintenance access road to Rocky Point in Hartshorne. This is a hard packed gravelly descent that brings you to the rear portion of Hartshorne Ave along a relatively unknown and least traveled dead-end road. As nice a route as it is, it isn’t traveled much, and when I set about to shoot some goo into my flat tire I realized pretty quickly that the tire I had on my rear was not one of those types of tires. Those types of tires are Tufos and they are tubular clinchers that have a removable stem into which you can squeeze some goo which will seal small punctures. I forgot that my last Tufo experienced catastrophic failure when I rode it about 500 miles too far and I had to replace it to get home. Normal tire with a tube was the only option, and now I was screwed. I had to get home, it was early, no one was going to answer their phone, and I was a mile from the old stone church in Navesink and I had to walk in my cleats. There is no riding a tire like that when it is flat. Tufos are great because you can ride them flat. They will NOT come off your rim.

I smiled at a jogger who recognized how fucked I was, and was descending the road when I spotted a cyclist climbing towards me. Lucky Me!! He almost rode straight by, but I think my tears caught his attention and when he told me to breath deep and relax, I knew he would have an extra tube. I could almost sense his gander at my under seat tool bag that is large enough for a six pack, three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two bananas and a few tools, and wonder to himself how I could NOT have a tube in there as well. Because I was obviously so stupid, he even offered to help me install it, but I assured him that while I might look really stupid, I indeed was stupid, but I could change a flat pretty quickly. I practice on all my friends bikes!

So I took down my bike tonight and as expected the tire was flat. The tire was flat because CO2 is thinner than O2. Actually CO2 is thinner than the normal composition of air, so it is tiny enough to leak through the same tube that would actually hold normal air. It takes time, but since I hadn’t ridden the bike for 4 days, all gone. I let the rest of the air out, and filled it with fresh air. There was a part referenced earlier about me being stupid, and I further reinforced that again by allowing my bike to roll while I was attaching the pump thus bending the seal screw in the valve. What this seemed to do was when I was done pumping the 120psi into the tire and pressed the relief valve on the pump to make it easier to detach, air at 120 psi shot into my index finger and almost drew blood. Weird I know, but it also felt pretty stupid. I licked my finger all the way to the start of the ride.

Arriving at The Red Bicycle Studio in Fairhaven I found Jim, and Joe. Soon Tony showed, and also Paul. With me that would be 5 and after giving Ray Villa a chance to not show up we took off. Here I am thinking, well, Tony was a little tired last week and therefore not too bad to follow. Doug wasn’t coming so that meant batshit-crazy fast was more than likely out. We have some new folks, and Paul is pretty strong, but I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months. Maybe we have a nice Hustle ride.

It’s the middle of Summer, and it was a hot evening after a hot day, and it seemed like everyone wanted to get to their beach club for an evening of social fun, and so it was kind of cluster-fuckish there at the intersection of 520 and Rt 36, and the lanes past the North Sea Bright beach clubs was thick with SUVs so we had to temper it a little before we could get things going. Once we cleared the hazard we settled into a nice 30mph pace with the wind behind us. Jim took a really long pull, raising the game a little, and brought us within sight of the Hook entrance when Tony took over. He might have been tired last week, but was on fire this week. “I see your 200 and raise you a 1000!”. Pretty soon we are flying along at 35mph pretty much doing the speed limit. Tony took us onto The Hook and handed us over to Joe who maintained a reasonable pace until we reached the first parking lot and then he stuck out his hand to turn in there. Huh?!? The Hustle Crew never went in there before, and while I continued straight, everyone else followed Joe in. Turns out, I forgot that it was mentioned that we would meet Jack and Bobby on The Hook. This was an attempt to hook up with them, however, I was sure, once explained to me, that we would only see them out at the end for our return trip.

We reconvened, I took the lead, and when we were all together I dropped my chain into a higher gear and pushed hard. I counted to 4 many, many times, and then on 3 I pulled left and gave a flick of my elbow and Paul took over. Paul was all in with full stakes betting and completely put me on the rivet just to hang on. I was at the back, with a tail wind, and maximum draft advantage, and I was struggling to hold wheel. Joe had enough and I had to fight to get back onto a wheel to have a chance. Once Paul pulled off a little bit of sanity returned, but the psychology of the cyclist is that when the bar is set high, we try to get over that bar even though we know the bar is too high. Dwindle, dwindle, dwindle. The next to drop off was Tony and that happened about a half mile from Atlantic where I pulled off going into the turn. Paul took over and I just got on Jim’s wheel when Paul dug a little harder and I realized at that moment, that it was indeed pretty hot out, and I was totally fucked. Tony had managed to get back on, and shot around me to pick up the wheel and off those three went to the end.

I was lone man in the middle and tried to push myself, but every attempt to push my limit was met by myself pushing back. Police flashers up ahead seemed strange, and as it turned out when I came through the chicane in that section of road there was a tow truck, another police car, a passenger car, and a stuck in the sand passenger car, and I wasn’t expecting any of that when I came through. I slowed immediately and then short-cut across the hook to intercept the leaders.

As expected, Bobby and Jack were at the end of the hook, but so was Doug. They had picked up Joe and we set about trying to get off The Hook. The wind was pretty fierce, and even the slightest acceleration told me that I just didn’t have it today. Nope, no way, no how.

Sometimes you are the hammer, and sometimes you are the nail. Again I started out hammer, and ended up a ten penny nail. We broke into 3 disparate groups coming off and regrouped at the end. Joe was missing so I sent everyone off and I went back for Joe. Didn’t want him to be discouraged.

What to do next week? I think it is time to take my own advice and save my energy. Short pulls and go to the back and hold on for dear life if I can. It is probably my only chance to finish in the end. Next week Derek will be back, and I expect that he is just simply 3 weeks stronger than the last damn time I saw him. A shattered collarbone made him mortal.

We shall see.

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