I was in a bad mood as I prepared to meet with my Thursday evening riding buddies. Several things had happened over the few hours before the ride that had me operating with some negative vibes. It might be that I infected the other guys or it could just be that we are all suffering from Tour De France Fatigue Syndrome. Whatever the case, it made for some interesting group dynamics!
Quite a few of the POA Cycling Team riders where there. Luis, Matt, John, Billy, and myself were wearing the red and graphite kits. Tyler Crotts was there with a wheel set and power tap that belonged to someone else. Art, Gary, and Bob rounded out the group. We were soon joined by Julian who had never ridden with us, but did more than keep up!
I was still in my funk and was either off up front or off the back for a good portion of the first 15 minutes or so. Then we started up Meece Bridge Road. Maybe I just needed a good sprint to get me out of my bad mood.
I led out the train with the idea of moving over to let some guys come through and then attacking closer to the finish. Before my plan could be put into practice, Matt and John came up behind me yelling about a flat and that we needed to slow our pace. Turns out Tyler had a flat. We slowed and ended up at the finish without a sprint.
We waited and waited until we finally saw them in the distance moving up the road. Turns out Tyler didn’t have any spares or tools with him. Thankfully for him, Luis and Art did. They caught back up to us, but it set us back by a good seven minutes.
We would have to skip the quarry road and head toward Paris Mountain a bit earlier than normal. The pace was pretty high. It was putting a hurt on some of the guys. Then on Little Texas Road it all came to a head.
I’m not sure exactly what happened ahead, but I believe Art slowed dramatically as we started a climb. Julian got moved to the right as he came up on him. I was right on his wheel and rode right up the right side of his bike jamming my front wheel against the heel of his shoe.
Everyone was on edge. We sorted things out from that instance and continued to pick the pace up again. Up ahead of me I heard some commotion and looked up to see John having an animated conversation with Tyler. Then I saw John knock Tyler’s water bottle out of Tyler’s hand.
Well, if I have things straight, I believe Tyler was making some point about the pace and John was giving him a hard time about it. Tyler brake-checked him and that didn’t make John very happy. All the rest of us were steering clear. I’m sure Julian was wondering what he had gotten himself into!
Next up was the mountain. Julian took off and left us in the dust. I knew it wasn’t going to be a good night, so I just decided to go up steady. Before long it was just Matt, John, and myself. For the whole second half of the climb, I could glance back between my legs and see two wheels following me… Matt and John.
I knew they were just toying with me. They could have easily come around and left me panting. When we got to The Wall, I stood to do what I could. John looked over at me and told me that he wasn’t going to do anything to me after sitting on my wheel all that time.
Matt continued on beside me and started urging me to put out to reach the top. I wanted to tell him he didn’t have to do that since I knew I was way outside of a good time, but I didn’t have the breath to tell him! It just made me feel all the worse that he was able to yell so clearly so late in the climb.
Bob and I came down easily afterward and came up to the rest of the guys talking in the parking area of the gas station at the base of Altamont Road. They were discussing the “John vs. Tyler” incident. By the time we all pulled out of the parking lot, things had been pretty much worked out.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. We hung out a bit in the lot after we all got in. The laughter and kidding had returned and the tenseness was not so noticeable. The evening had been saved.
I got to thinking that we might have all been on edge because we have been staying up late watching the Tour De France. I know I am tired from following the whole saga. It has been a great Tour, but it is wearing me down. Don’t think I could survive another week of it. Just imagine how the riders feel!