For a good chunk of my first year of racing – long ago by now – I lined up against a college kid probably 10 years my junior. While I was fit and coming from five or six years of running fitness, he was young and strong and … well, 10 years younger.
He put a good three or four minutes on me in a time trial, then followed my wheel as I attacked the group in a road race, only to out-sprint me at the end. The next time, I again set up the move and he again got past me for the win. Same with the crit, after which he put another few minutes into me. It was great fun. No matter what I did, I could not get past this guy.
I think you know where this is going. He turned into my white whale. I didn’t care where I finished, as long as it was ahead of him.
The next season, when my running legs finally turned into cycling legs, I handled him easily. He was my minute man in a 9-mile time trial. I passed him after mile 2. Ouch. (This is where I note that he had mono – twice! – over the winter and hadn’t touched his bike.)
Anyway, fast forward a bit: Spring, 2011. He’s back on form, 30 pounds lighter and back on the podium. And over the weekend, he lined up right beside me.
When he rolled up, I remembered our first frustrating battles (frustrating on my end, at least). Then I remembered everything that’s changed since then: fitness, race smarts, etc. A lot of miles have been pedaled in the interim.
And after the whistle sounded and we took off, I didn’t think about him again until checking out the results. After checking out where my teammates and I placed, I scanned down the rest of the way. There he was.
Five years ago, having my name listed above his was the sole motivation for racing. Now, having my teammates’ names atop the list is king, and if I happen to end up in a good spot, all the better.
But I gotta admit, it was pretty nice having to scan past my name to find that of my old nemesis … on both days.
And what of Velo Jones Jr.’s race? He took off like a bat out of hell, gawked at the crowd, gave high-fives at the turnaround and left a skid mark when he stopped. That’s my boy.
Random link time:
- Get on with it, already!
- Silly season usually doesn’t fire up until the Tour, but it looks like we’re getting a head start.
- Nick Legan is back with another Tech Q&A. Always a good read.
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