Thursday, March 19, 2009

Being Yaroslav Popovich

Ride my wheel like a Tandem.  Don’t take a pull.  Let me know when you’re hurtin’.  When I pull through, I’ll make room and just move over with me.  Those were the loose rules when I convinced my wife, Mrs. Biker, to skip our planned noodle and instead ride with the regular Tuesday Night Rampage racer type ride out of the Lunken Airport terminal parking lot.  She’ll be the first to confess, work has infringed a bit on her race training.  She doesn’t consider herself race fit yet, and I was asking her to come out on with a group of mostly Cat 3/4 men.  She was hesitant in the least.  I quietly feared that I totally blown the opportunity for a good sunny warm chatty evening ride with my wife and now faced an argument looming somewhere on the Ohio River horizon between Cincinnati and New Richmond.  In the backs of our heads, I think we both knew she needed a good beatdown.  Success would bring confidence, a rare commodity when you’re off the back or last up the climb.  When she saw some people she knew in the parking lot, I could see her self doubt subside.  She clipped in, rolled out, like a champ.  I was Popo.  She my team leader.  She did it, crushed it with the testosterone fueled double paceline all the way out to New Richmond, a good 25 minute section at 26mph.  Proud doesn’t quite say it.  It was sweet A+ riding on her part.  I’ll take that over a podium step any day. 

It was testimony to riding smart, riding as a team, how someone obviously outmatched can equal the playing field, how one rider can protect another.  Sure we didn’t participate in the paceline the whole way out and back, but, this is road racing training.  We skipped pulls and sat on.  That’s the name of the game.  If you’re at a disadvantage, gain some advantage.  Make the other guy work harder.  She felt bad that the person behind us in the paceline had to come past an extra rider and the guy before us had to sit out in the wind long enough for two riders in tandem to come over.  Ah, they’re big boys, they can deal with it, I thought.  It’s good for them.  We’re doing our share.  We held the pace steady.  All they had to do was ride steady for an extra couple of seconds and all would be smooth.  Judging that we probably dropped 6-8 people on the way out, most stronger than Mrs. Biker, I think more new or less fit riders should learn how to sit on and ride smart. 

There’s an art to sitting on the back of the double paceline without disrupting the pace at the back or making the last rider have to overcome a gap.  When we sat-on, I positioned us just to the left of the last rider in the left-hand fall back line.  That way, when the last fall-back lane rider looked right to see when it was his turn to come over, he didn’t see us and confuse us for the last in line.  When that rider moved over to the pull line, we’d smoothly move up to hang left and back of the next rider in the fall back lane.  When our heart rates came down after 8 riders or so, we’d jump back in the paceline for another round.  Steady.  Strong.  Beautiful.

When we hit New Richmond and the pace slowed for the turn-around through the Ohio River views of its downtown, we looked back.  Whad’ya know (NPR), there was a handful of riders that could no doubt out ride her head to head, dropped from the group.  Mission accomplished.  Race confidence up.  Trust in hubby restored.  I’m so proud to be her Popo.

1 comment:

zanne said...

Great post - rides like that definitely do wonders for the ego & its nice to have a husband or teammates' wheel & protection-

my husband always says the same to me: ride smart. funny how that always makes for a more successful ride!