Thursday, June 20, 2013

Handlebar to Handlebar at 30mph

“Let me get the door for you Premium Rush,” my witty coworker greeted me as I wheeled my Niner mountain bike off the elevator and into my office.  I work at a radio station full of clever creatives.  I get it all the time.  I have to say, it made me chuckle.  He was the morning show host of our sister station.  After a day at work making commercials, in anticipation of a 6 hour race this weekend, I had planned to hit the dirt of Versailles State Park for a fast pre-ride yesterday.  Maybe his comment was a premonition, because I never made it to Versailles.  The day turned out to be a rush, but I rolled with it.

In bike racing things rarely go as planned.  Anywhere else it’s ugly old adversity, we call it the beauty of the sport.  Fitness, finesse, courage are balanced with luck, mechanics and nature.  We add grams to our side of the scale by learning, through experience, to put ourselves in the best possible position to succeed.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always a plan b.  We look ahead.  Calm, we find clear-headed serenity handlebar to handlebar at 30mph.  We note which wheels to trust, which to avoid.  We learn to read breakaways, counting the riders and teams up the road, anticipating who will attempt to bridge or bring them back.  We put wheels in the pit and pack a tube.  We pre-ride mountain bike courses to know ahead of time where we’ll need to lay down the power and where we can afford to coast and reach back into the jersey pocket for a GU.  Those same adaptive skills transfer into everyday life.  I’m convinced, athletes make better employees.

So between projects, with my mountain bike blurred out of focus in the shadow of my computer monitor, I checked the Hoosier Mountain Bike Assn. website waiting for a “green light” on the trails at Versailles State Park.  After a brief, but heavy rain the evening before, the trail status was a cautionary “yellow,” but with a warm less humid day to dry, I hoped it would change over 24 hours.  Plan B, was to make the 7pm mountain bike time-trail at England-Idlewild Park only 20 minutes from work.  Back and forth I went, mixdown Adobe Audition session to stereo 128Kbps 44100Hz mp3, check trail status.  “It’s pretty light commercial-wise here today,” I let slip to a coworker. 

Knocking on wood is bullshit paranoia.  What’s real and true is that if you ever let your lips slip out loud about how you haven’t had a flat tire in months; you will get a flat tire within the day.  Can a bike brotha get a “truth” high-five?  Smack!  A similar law applies at work.  Never mention how easy it is, a challenge demon lurks under the mixing board waiting to pounce at your words.

At 4:30pm the demon, or our chief engineer, crashed the computer.  Not my computer, THE COMPUTER.  The computer that holds every song, every commercial, and every jingle on every single one of four radio stations, took a big electronic demonic dump.  With no music or commercials, the DJ’s scrambled for words live on the air.  They filled with traffic, weather, and entertainment news, anything while someone grabbed some CDs. 

From the frantic rumble of voices in the hallway outside the main studio, my boss cracked the door to my studio directly across the hall.  “We’re going to miss some commercials,” she said.  As calm as if I were handlebar to handlebar at 30mph, I told her I had already notified the department that does the scheduling and was in the process of seeing if my system was operational.  Over the next 2 ½ hours we reverted to back up and re-did all the commercials since the last back-up on Monday. 

Right around the time the computer was restored, my wife texted that she was leaving for her ride, alone.  Bummed, I checked the HMBA website again.  Still yellow.  I looked at the clock, nearly 7pm.  It’d be fruitless to drive an hour only to be turned around by muddy trails.  Completely outfitted for a mountain bike ride, but too late to make the time trial, I rushed home by 7:20pm.  I left the Niner in the car, switched into my road shoes, jumped on my road bike and pedaled up to the local crit at Cincinnati's Ault Park.  A friend pinned the number on my back at 7:52pm, and by 8:01pm I was at peace at my first road race of the season, handlebar to handlebar at 30mph.

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