November-December 1999 Newsletter
Second Time Around
by David Stewart
I can remember my first ride with the Club. It was a Monday night
ride that started at Big Rock, went down to River Road and came
back. It was going to be a long ride. The schedule said ten miles.
I knew it was more than ten miles. But I thought I could do it.
And I had a quarter in my saddle pack in case I had to call Sweet
Deborah. I was uneasy standing there in my running shorts, holding
my hybrid. There were all these people around me talking. They
were dressed in real bike clothes. They were holding road bikes.
And they walked funny in their bike shoes. I was pretty nervous.
We got our talk about bike handling. I raised my hand that I was
a new rider. Then we took off. There was this rush of color as
people pushed off into the street. The initial clacking cacophony
of shoes clicking into clipless pedals reminded me of a mainsail
going up on a sailboat. That sharp, cluttered sound of beating
canvas and grinding winches. Then powerful silence as the boat
fell off and the wind filled the sail. Suddenly, I was
surrounded by cyclists moving easily down the road. Everyone
seemed to be having fun and I began to relax. I thought I could
do it after all. And when I got back, I had done it. The ride,
and my achievement, was exhilarating.
I went bicycle racing this summer. I lined up with real racers.
Now I had the Lycra and road bike, too, but I was just as
uneasy as I had been on that first Monday night ride. The
officials whistle blew, there was the same sound of
riders clicking into their pedals and then, again, sudden,
powerful silence. No, actually I noticed this time there
wasnt silence. There was the sharp whisper of stressed
chains and the mingled hiss of tires. Like foam rushing by the
hull of a sailboat with its rail on the water. Its a
Confidence, someone once said, is what you have until you know
the facts. So, at first of a race, I thought, “I can win this
thing.” Then, down the road a ways, I began to think, “I can
stay with the middle of the pack.” And finally, “Ive got
to find at least one person to come in ahead of.” Guess what I
did? I finished with the pack. Most of the time. I finished
ahead of other people. Most of the time. And I had a wonderful
time. Just like that first Monday night ride, it was tremendously
Now the weather is turning cooler and Ill not do any more
races this year. Im not pushing as hard on rides and I
can feel the burnout that hit me in late summer begin to lift.
As is the case with cycling, I have time in the saddle to think.
To reflect on the season past. To decide what I would do
differently. And to decide that I want to do it again.
Here are my thoughts:
- I used a training program. It worked great. I rode stronger
and longer than I have ever ridden before. But I planned to peak
too early. By mid-August, training and racing had ceased to be
fun. This year, Ill rest longer. Next year, Ill race
- I dont need much outside help to stay motivated.
Its the way I work and its the way I play. I set
goals, track my progress and meet my goals. But it was a comfort
to go to races where I knew other people. I enjoyed riding with
Scott Anderson to and from races. It gave us both a chance to
talk out a few of the butterflies.
- I enjoy the success of the people I race with. I remember
the slow-voiced, soft-spoken man with the full beard from
Eastern Kentucky who talked with me at the start line before
a crit as 40 of us sat on our bikes waiting for the official
to decided if he would race the 50+ men with the 40+. My
friend was a wild man when he rode, just the opposite of his
pre-race manner. I remember the heavy-set guy in the yellow
jersey that I knew I could beat who out-sprinted me at the
Indy Fairgrounds. It has been great seeing Michele Miller
grow stronger and stronger. I used to be able to keep up with
her. She and Denise Everett will be the ones to beat next
season. Scott Anderson has always been a great wheel to hang
onto on the flats. This year, hes stepped it up a notch
on the hills. You have to hustle to hold his wheel on a climb.
If you can manage it. Ive watched Bill Sanders get
faster and faster on the road. Not bad for a guy that plays in
the dirt as much as he does. This fall Ill learn a
little mountain biking from him. Next year, I plan to beat him
in the Time Trials. And Ive learned to set my own “bar”
higher watching experienced riders like John McCormick and
Walter Lay. Ive learned a lot from each of these folks.
They taught me the value of persistence and experience.
Theyre the ones who made me realize the importance of
- If youre a woman, a junior or a 50 plus racer,
theres not much action in this region. If youre
male, in the 18 to 45 age group, there are some good crowds
out there to race with. At the right venue.
- Ive heard mixed reviews about the Indy Racing Series.
Without dealing with any of the criticisms, I do know that Dan
Daly puts on a lot of races that are attended by a lot of
racers. Driving two hours to Indianapolis is a nuisance. But
without that series, it would take a lot more driving to race
every weekend. For the good of “local” bicycle racing, the
criticisms need to be addressed and Dan needs to be
complimented for his persistence. And we need a promoter like
Dan in this area. The right person with the right approach can
make a difference in racing around Louisville and Southern
Indiana. They can make some money, too.
- We need more racers. That applies to all the teams from
this area. That applies to Juniors, Citizens, Masters and all
the others. I ride with a number of people who tell me they
would like to race. Many of these are people who could race
and beat me. I want to encourage all these people. I suspect
that all of us who race bicycles, whatever our ability, faced
the same hurdles at first as these people who are tempted but
havent taken the plunge yet. I think each one of us who
races needs to mentor someone who has expressed an interest.
Talk about the issues. Take them to a race. Show them the
ropes. Cheer them on. It doesnt matter if theyre
the same category, the same sex, the same age. It matters that
they are interested in bike racing. The more people we can put
on a course, the better it is for the sport. Lance
Armstrongs win at the Tour de France will be a powerful
incentive for bike riders in general and racers specifically.
We need to make the most of the moment.
- The worst part of racing, Ive decided, is shaving my
legs. Its bad enough keeping my face smooth. I lost more
blood shaving my legs than I did racing. It makes showers a lot
longer. And if I didnt shave my legs often enough, Sweet
Deborah would fuss when I climbed into bed. Then, if I wore
shorts when I left the house, my kids didnt want to be
seen with me. At least I didnt feel compelled to do
piercings and tattoos. At my age, you have to draw the line
So, Ive learned to deal with the butterflies. Ive
learned to get over the embarrassment of not doing as well as I
wanted to do. Ive had good times. Im faster than
I was and Im healthy. Ill race again next season.
What does it all add up to? Sounds like a win to me. A win
whether I crossed the line first or simply the attempt and
finished. Either way, a win. That is what counts, after all.
Wont you come race with me?
PREVIOUS ARTICLE |
LBC home |
Copyright ©1999 Louisville Wheelmen. All rights reserved.
Web posted: 17 October 1999
last updated: 18 October 1999
by Duc M. Do