Hey! You are going backward!

The Tuesday Night World Championships shaped up last night to be lots of fun. The weather was great and there was a good crowd on hand. The old legs were feeling pretty good and I even had a little bit of time to warm up for a change before the ride started in earnest. Little did I know I would finish out the evening riding alone and backward on the course.

As usual things started out just a little slow. A small group started off right away to attempt a break. However, by the time we passed the golf course and headed for the turn onto 3M hill, John James started to move up toward the front with me on his wheel. On the hill itself Eric Christophersen went to the front to close down the gap. By the time we were reaching the next turn there was a lot of close racing. You could feel a little bit of nervousness in the group. It made it fun, but a little scary.

Things sorted out and the first lap was finished without incident. We were certainly up to speed by that time and now more people were making moves in an attempt to get some separation. The main field wasn’t having it and for much of the second lap the small gaps that would form got shut down in a hurry.

We were nearing the railroad tracks and I was in the front group of the field. A sizable group was beginning to form a gap. One by one another rider would bridge up the lead group. None of the riders in the front group were from POA. However, there were three of us in the front of the field.

My thoughts were that this early in the ride the break would probably not survive. However, I wasn’t sure exactly who was up there. If some of the better riders were up there they could use the group as cover to attack off the front and build more of a gap on us. Of course, it was the job of one of us to represent the team in a possible break, so I started to bridge over myself.

I hit the railroad tracks hard and immediately began to hear a strange thumping sound coming from my bike. I was still rolling so I didn’t think about it much and just kept spinning away to get on the back of the group in front of me. I got there soon after we reached the smooth pavement after the tracks.

It was then that the sound started to get on my nerves. My initial thought was that perhaps I had broken a spoke. Ahhhh, then I realized what it was. The speed sensor for the iBike had gotten knocked askew and the magnet hit it with each revolution.

Knowing it wasn’t a structural problem, I first decided to just keep going. The field had followed me up to the break and now I was on the front with some pretty heavy hitters. Now as we were beginning the third lap, a lasting break could possibly form. I was in a position to get into it.

Now I was on the point and setting the pace. I started to look down to assess what was going on with the sensor. The thumping was getting worse. Boyd Johnson rolled by and I heard him say, “You have the sensor turned the wrong way. That is your speed sensor making that noise.” For a second it crossed my mind to slow and reach back and adjust it on the roll. Nah, that would be stupid. Then I considered just going on with the thing banging away. However, I didn’t want to mess up the sensor — or possibly the bike.

As we neared the fire station, I went to the yellow line and slowed. My decision was to stop fix the sensor and then ride slowly until I was overtaken again by the A group. I could then at least get in at the rear of the field and get some good laps even if I wouldn’t make a winning break. I guess I should also mention it did cross my mind to fix it and then attempt to chase back on. That thought didn’t last long!

I adjusted the sensor and started off. Looking at the iBike I realized it wasn’t reading correctly. So, I had to stop again reposition the sensor once more. Finally, it was working and rolling along. Now I just had to wait to get caught.

Just as I reached the golf course I could see the pace car of the B group coming up behind me. At this rate, I could be back around to the railroad tracks before the A group caught me. I guess I would be well rested when I got back in!

Thinking about how I was going to get out of the way of the groups coming behind me, I noticed a number of riders off in the distance with similar red kits. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself. “Why are all those Hincapie riders going the opposite direction?” I then started looking down and playing around with the iBike computer and checking periodically behind me to see how the B group was progressing.

The next time I looked at the group coming toward me, they were almost next to me. I realized it wasn’t a group of Hincapie riders. It was a number of my POA teammates. What were they doing? Maybe they had plans for an alternate ride? John was one of them and he yelled to join them. Well, that wasn’t the plan, but he was now dropping back to pick me up and I was curious what was going on.

I turned and then caught up with them. Turns out they were just finishing out the evening going backward around the circuit. I looked at my clock. I still had nearly an hour and a half to go in order to meet my training goal for the evening. Maybe I would just hang with them until the A group came by and then jump in.

Of course, we then got caught up in conversation and I was discussing iBike issues with Eric as the break off the front of the A group went past us. It crossed my mind that I could have been in that group. The field followed and I just let them go.

The next lap most of the other riders dropped off and it was just Thomas Woodson – a Gamecock Team rider – and myself. Once again we passed the break and then I saw the field with Rodney Dender near the front trying to pull them back. Billy and Reece were also still in there. I was feeling some pangs of regret that I wasn’t there helping them out.

There was nothing to do about it now. I just had to get another hour of riding in. Finally, Thomas also dropped off and I ended up doing a couple laps alone. By the time I reached the parking area the sun was starting to drop on the horizon and there were hardly any cars left.

I did ride past Steve Sperry talking to Rodney as he was driving out. I overheard, “… and your team is going around backward…” I only caught that phrase and I could only assume that Rodney was talking about the effort he put out toward the end and the fact that he had no teammates to help him out. The pang or regret hit again. Yes, I had a “mechanical” that was a reasonable excuse for stopping. However, fact is, I could have gotten back in.

Oh well, that is just the way it worked out. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race聽 and then an opportunity to redeem myself next Tuesday night!