You can run, you can hide, you can duck like a chicken...
But that lowracer's gaining – he's zoomin'; he's kickin'
Big time butt on those roadies you barely squeaked past.
Damn, he makes it look easy; this guy's really fast.
He's around them and now you can sense that he's trying
Hard for you to be next; he is practic'ly flying.
You're ahead maybe two hundred meters or three,
But there's four miles to go, and you're not quite home free.
Then you notice he's slowed, and he's sipping his bottle,
So you might gain some ground if you get on the throttle.
As you drink from your Camelbak, you pedal hard,
In the desperate hope that you've caught him off guard.
For a moment it works and you seem to be gaining,
But you know it won't last; with your energy draining,
You begin to slack off to your previous pace.
Soon the lowracer's back, and he's winning this chase.
You are sixty miles out and you can't help but wonder:
Where the HELL did he come from? Will he maybe blunder
Taking one of the upcoming corners or curves?
Or is he only cruising with lots of reserves?
Did you pass him as he munched bananas and cookies
At that final SAG stop where you'd just caught ten rookies?
You blew past with the pack, though you wanted a break;
When you passed them you knew it was not a mistake.
That was then (five miles back); this is now, and you're aching,
And you know if you'd stopped, this huge effort you're making
Almost surely would never have entered your head.
You'd be ten minutes slower; who cares? YOU! – unsaid.
You've been riding a tailwind awhile, but you're turning,
And you know from the feel of your weary legs churning,
There's a quartering headwind here now, plus a hedge
That will give the lowracer a definite edge.
He is getting much closer now, nearer and nearer
And you watch him get bigger in your rear view mirror.
Still nobody has ever said you were a slug,
And this guy won't get by with a smile and a shrug.
Plus there's one other thing that you have in your favor,
Which is knowing this course; if this guy's a young shaver,
There's a chance you can save your leg muscles some strain
Just by using a different muscle – your brain.
So you ride hard and fast to a left pointing arrow;
After turning you know that the bike lane is narrow,
And the traffic is thick; it'll be hard to pass.
You hang on, though you damned nearly run out of gas.
With a tailwind again, and a speed somewhat risky,
You race – too close to cars. Will your foe feel that frisky?
No. You sneak a quick peek, and can see that you've gained
Back some space, but your pace simply can't be sustained.
The next corner, you know, has to be... well, respected;
There's a low place where runoff is often collected
In a puddle that's marked with a big yellow sign,
But you hit it real fast, 'cause you know the right line.
In the turn you lean hard, praying dearly for traction,
Then spin up to gain speed and get back in the action.
You look back in the hope that you've widened the gap,
But suspecting you won't have the time for a nap.
In your mirror you see that your shadow has bobbled.
First a pretty wild slide, then he waggled and wobbled.
Though he managed to catch it and keep it upright,
He has lost precious time in his dangerous fight.
Heading into the wind, to the west now, you worry...
This is where you'll be passed unless you really hurry.
But with two miles to go now, you may have a chance;
Well... unless your pursuer is someone named Lance.
Then you notice a light up ahead you'd forgotten.
If it's red, then it's over... you know you'll feel rotten,
But at least if you're caught at a light in a race,
Though you would have been anyway, you'll save some face.
But the light's staying green, so with legs made of Jello
You keep flying along; then it blinks and turns yellow.
You are three or four seconds ahead of your foe.
There's a chance you can make it – you grunt and you GO!
As you fly through the light you hear somebody beeping,
But it's too late to stop, and there's no point in weeping.
Did you make it? Well, almost... it could have been red.
It's so hard to be sure once you've lowered your head.
But the lowracer stopped! So you have an advantage;
You'll be tough now to catch... but that guy may still manage.
If he does you'll need strength for that final contest;
You relax and slow down now to let your legs rest.
As you turn left again, you look back; so depressing...
'Cause the lowracer's there, very swiftly progressing...
Backing off had felt good, but it cost you some lead;
With a mile yet to go, maybe more than you need...
But you get one more break, or you sort of get lucky;
At the corner a cyclist is poised, feeling plucky.
Now he takes off behind you and rushes up fast,
Then he catches you, smirks and he snidely rides past.
It's apparent that this kid's a showoff, a local,
Does he think he'll impress you – the doofy young yokel –
By outrunning you now, when his legs are all fresh,
While your own are dehydrated, worn out, tired flesh?
But you see an advantage; you're happy to take it.
You know drafting this goober is going to make it
A lot easier holding a high rate of speed.
This smug jackass, in fact, may be just what you need.
You hang onto his wheel, though he's drifting and swerving.
At one point on a bridge where the road's gently curving,
He goes over the line, gives some driver a scare;
You can tell that he's pooping, but hey... you don't care.
Then the kid's slowing down, and he's suddenly braking.
He is turning; you know that the route he is taking
Isn't going your way, so you're back on your own.
As you pass him you check: is the lowracer gone?
No, he isn't! The guy has been steadily closing;
His endurance and speed are both very imposing.
And with odds much more even this last quarter mile,
You are all too aware this will still be a trial.
As you race for the finish, you glare at your mirror,
And you see who you're racing; the image gets clearer.
Yellow skinsuit, a sleek yellow helmet; he's slim
And he's tucked in so tight that it makes you feel grim.
And the image is growing, it's getting much larger,
Of the bright yellow knight on his untiring charger.
Since the start of this ride you have sucked a few wheels;
Now will you get a taste of the way that it feels?
But you're close enough now that you dare to start sprinting,
As you shift up two gears and bear down, aching, squinting.
Things are almost a blur as you race to the line...
And you do somehow manage to WIN! IT FEELS FINE!
It's a ride, not a race, as they're so fond of saying,
But I think we all know that some cyclists aren't playing
When they go on these rides; they aren't out there for fun.
They just want to kick butt on (almost) everyone.
That's exactly what you had in mind on this ride.
And you've done it; you feel an intense burst of pride.
You are one of the first riders back to the park,
And to beat that lowracer's just one extra spark.
You keep coasting to clear the big crowd at the finish,
And to let your poor hard-pumping heart rate diminish.
The lowracer pulls up and you get a small shock –
Not your typical twenty-ish, hard-bodied jock.
You are forty years old, and you hoped the lowracer
Was much younger than you, but your diligent chaser
Is in fact not a kid. Thirty-five? Yes, at least,
And a kind, gentle manner... not quite a wild beast.
"What a great, perfect day!" The lowracer is speaking:
"You were hauling some booty out there. You were streaking!
I was trying as hard as I could to hang on
At the end when you sprinted, but you were just gone."
Kinda slim and not buff, cyclist's legs, all sleek muscle;
Which enhanced by the skinsuit made you have to hustle...
But you're staring, which certainly isn't polite,
And it might even seem like you're flirting... "OH! RIGHT!"
'That was stupid' you think to yourself, and stop staring;
Then you try to recover by quickly declaring,
"I mean yeah, it was fun." Your response is so lame
That you sheepishly grin as you give out your name.
"Hey. I'm Chris." The reply's very friendly and open.
With the awkwardness over (at least you are hopin'),
Chris's smile matches yours; you stand up and admit,
"I was sure you would catch me, but I couldn't quit."
Trying hard not to sound like a jerk condescending,
You gasp, "Man, you are fast; I was humping, expending
My reserves to keep going right there at the last.
I was sure at some point that you'd roar right on past."
You get off of your bikes, then you're stretching and walking.
Chris's family meets you, all laughing and talking.
There's a cute teenybopper who walks beside you,
And she hands you a bottle of something that's blue.
And you hope you sound gracious, like maybe a brother,
As you say, "I'm surprised that we both missed each other
Till the finish. I know I was one of the last
Guys to leave, so I think that I must have gone past...
"At that last SAG stop, maybe? While drafting some guys,
When they blew right on by it and raced up that rise,
I kept dogging their tails till they crested the hill,
Then I passed going down; that was really a thrill!"
"I don't think so," Chris said, and you swap subtle smiles,
"I suspect you were leading the whole sixty miles.
To avoid all the traffic I started off late,
Then I flatted while crossing that damned cattle gate."
And you blush, 'cause you know now who really is faster,
Who's the novice, the tyro, and who is the master.
It's almost a relief when you hear the girl ask,
"Can you guess how old Chris is?" You take on the task.
You are weary and much more concerned with your hunger,
As you answer, "My age or a little bit younger,"
Which was tactful but credible, maybe, you think.
But the girl starts to giggle, and gives you a wink.
Then you choke on a gulp of that blue tinted water
When she says, "Oh, do you have a ninth grade granddaughter?
FIFTY-SEVEN!" she giggles; Chris laughs, "Not so loud!
That is not a statistic of which I am proud."
"Please just shoot me," you groan, "I was already bummin'
Ever since I discovered that CHRIS IS A WOMAN!"
Folks, no matter how proud you may be of your speed,
Here's a bit of advice which I hope you will heed:
You can run, you can walk, you can squawk like a guinea,
You can ride carbon fiber or frames sorta tinny.
You may be NUMBER ONE – with your name on a plaque;
But your ego may still get a sharp little whack.
You'll encounter a cyclist who makes you feel humble,
And who may give your pride a tumultuous tumble –
Some old geezer, a girl or a hand-powered trike...
It's just something you face when you're racing a bike.
Last updated Sep 14 2005