White Rabbit

June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

The clock was ticking. I was finishing up some work when I saw 5 o’clock slip by. “No problem” I thought. I can still get home with plenty of time to change and catch the Tuesday Night Hustle ride. Then it was 5:15 and I knew I was running out of time. Had to wrap things up and get out of there. As my machine was shutting down, I realized I hadn’t taken care of my time sheet, and today was submission day as well. No problem, as I could handle it all using a phone app. With that taken care of I was out the door and in my truck. However there was HUGE problem when I got out to Industrial Way. Traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see West with east-bound traffic (my direction), and not only that, but the west-bound lane was backed up as well! Quick thinking and I realized I had to go West first, then loop around North and around, and actually catch 35 South to West Park Avenue where I can double back East and North to get home. While that did work for me, there were many areas where traffic was just a pain in the ass thick.

Fortunately, my dog walker girl texted me that the dogs had been out and both had taken care of business, so all I needed to do was get in, dress, grab some water, shoe up, grab the bike and go. Which, is pretty much how it played out, and I rolled to the front of The Red Bicycle in Red Bank with just enough time to say hello, and introduce myself to some new people I hadn’t met before. “Are you guys hammers or nails? Will you be driving the train, or attacking out the back? Do you apply the Shellac, or do you get Shellacked?” Derrick the destroyer was there, and so was Louie Louie Louie . I had no plans for the ride other than to see how it plays out, and try to hang. Derrick would rip my legs off eventually, but until that happened, I could play my part.

We rolled out easy. Red Bank 6 PM is Red Bank rush hour, and the traffic is thick west bound on Front Street.I was leading, and maybe perhaps took advantage of some tight squeezes, but I didn’t run any lights. I was simply peddling along and I knew there was no one with me. I wasn’t pushing it, but I wasn’t waiting either. I was only one person, and once they grouped up on the bridge, they would catch me. I simply rolled along to the traditional start, and I thought “Hey, why not make them catch me?”, and so I started working hard. At first I was simply looking back every once in a while, and I wasn’t looking hard or far. Just put my head down and pushed a 90 inch gear as fast as I could. Pretty soon I was on the Nutswamp hill after Normandy Road, and I still didn’t see anyone behind me. I caught the light at Middletown-Lincroft Road, and dropped it to a 104 inch gear and hammered down the slope to Sunnyside. I still had a lot of game, and there was no one in sight. Sunnyside starts pretty flat, but then has a false flat kind of rise over the next 3/4 of mile until Crawford’s Corner/Everett  Road. Again, I was still clear, so I made the right and kept the pressure on. If I could make the lights at American, and Red Hill / Middletown Road, then I could keep my momentum, and maybe those guys would get unlucky.

I caught both greens, and had some great momentum going still. Crawford’s is a great rolling roadway, and the wind wasn’t terribly bad today. However the meaty part of the ride was coming up. Holmdel Road is the first real climb of the ride, and I had been pushing hard, so I wasn’t sure how well I could hold my momentum. Holmdel road is a double ramp with a little recovery break in the middle. If I could push that, I would have time to recover on the downhill side. Up and over fairly strong, and down the other side I hammered away. Again, luck was on my side as there was no opposing traffic, so I was able to left turn onto Hillcrest at speed. Hillcrest has brand new pavement, and is downhill all the way to South Beers Street where I usually meet my maker on this ride. South Beers has a rise that then eases, but is still has 300 yards of up ramp before you can recover. This is where Derrick the Destroyer usually looks back, unsheathes his dagger, and rips open my guts creating a smorgasbord for local carrion. Today? Different story. Still no one behind me.

By the time I made it to Van Brackle I was really suffering. I hadn’t taken a single sip of water, and I was spitting basketball sized cotton swabs out of my mouth, and breathing very heavily. My heart rate must have been 170 for the last 40 minutes solid. I had to drop to the small chain ring to get up this ramp, but as soon as I crested the top where it eased, I slammed it back onto the big ring and picked up speed again. I swung onto Holmdel Road south, and pushed a decent cadence up that long ramp and went over the top with good speed. Now I had a mile of downhill to recover again. If the light at Roberts favored me, then I stood a great chance of staying away. Unfortunately the light changed. I had to wait before it was safe to proceed which was about a full light change, but I was still alone, so hammer away again I did. Roberts starts with a nice downhill, and provides enough ramp to make the hill on the other side. This is followed by another down-up and you can power all the way back to Crawford’s Corner.

This was going to be the key to success. This section was the longest piece of exposed roadway, and if I could get through that section without them seeing me, then I had them. If they saw me, then that would be just enough inspiration to give them new wind. As it turns out, they saw me, but I didn’t know that yet. I hit Crawford’s Corner, and again that road is a great rolling power road, so I powered along as best I could. A right onto Middletown Road, and I could push a big gear on this road. It begins was a favorable slope, to American where there is a little ramp that you can power up, and then you have power roadway for the next mile. The only issue is narrowness, and uneven surface, but traffic was light, and I was able to power all the way to McCampbell.

McCampbell has a slight rise to it, which at this point in the ride, I am an hour on the rivet, and feeling it. I can’t look back, so I put everything in, and hope the downhill will give me something. I know they must be getting closer, and I am pretty sure that they haven’t taken a break, so they have to be going all out to catch me. I reached the stop sign at Crawfords, and had to wait for a couple of cars and just as I was about to move, Derrick the Destroyer pulls up and looks completely gassed. I pushed out into the street, clipped in, and knew I could pull away while they gasped in air. Two others rode up as I clipped in, but they too didn’t get an immediate start. I simply pushed my gearing and made it back to Sunnyside and turned right onto this lovely down favoring slope. I knew I could hammer this and stay away till Middletown-Lincroft at least.

At ML, my luck ran out a little, as I had to slow enough to wait for the road to clear, and I wasn’t gifted with any cars to delay my chasers, however I still had a lead, and somewhere I dug deep and found some new strength for the long power climb back to Nutswamp. I thought for sure I would get re-caught here, but soon the top was in sight and I was still hammering along. I was pretty gassed going over the top, and recovery didn’t hit me immediately, but it wasn’t until I reached Normandy Road, that Derrick, Tom, and Brian(?) went past me. I dug again and jumped on the back, Brian might have been driving, and handed off to Derrick. Derrick put in a huge pull and handed off to Tom (?) who himself was simply hanging on, and the pace slowed. I thought I was feeling recovered, and when Tom pulled off, I took a pull, but this was a mistake, because when I pulled off, I had nothing left to get back on, and that was it for me.

Derrick the Destroyer eventually established a gap and finished off the ride in first place. Tom, Brian or Brian, Tom and then myself brought up the next finishing places, and we rolled back into Red Bank together. “How did you like that for something different?” I shouted out when we stopped for a light at Hubbard and Front St. “A Rabbit! I like it!” Derrick responded enthusiastically. “That was a lot of fun!”.

We rolled back to the Red Bicycle and awaited the stragglers. Louie Louie Louie finally rolled in with a giant smile on his face. “That was awesome! I am hooked now and will be back next week!”

I may have started something that I can’t ever live up to again, but for about 70 minutes tonight I was on top of the world.

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