by Kerry Duggan

Stop and Smell the Tarmac

Well, the summer season is gone. Musty tights and nylon windbreakers are being unwadded and held at arms length. P - yew! Nine months of humid storage has taken its toll.

The morning air is just chilly enough to make your nose run and eyes go teary. Your feet are always cold. Your knee problem is threatening to return.

The flavor of Gatorade, like champagne this hot summer, is now just a repulsive, sticky goo deposit around your bottle's squirter nipple.

Yet, for the racing cyclist, this is only the tip of the iceburg, because as racing season ends and fitness levels plummet, the tourist cyclists get stronger! Oh the unfairness of it all! No longer are group rides short, intense theaters of pain. No longer can racers dominate the peleton from the front. La course en tete is simply a movie again.

Now the rides go on and on for mile after bum - numbing mile. Rides once civilized to 35 to 45 miles completed in an hour or two now drag on for six or more. This is completely unfair. The average bike race in Florida is one hour, tops. A racer's endurance is completely drained in two. His butt in three. There is absolutely no need to do a century.

Yet, of course, we do as many as humanly possible. How else are we going to learn to like our bikes again? How else are we going to escape the unwashed hoards clammoring for our precious free time? Where does that highway lead to?

We are slaves to the road, driven to boldly go where no bike has gone before--at least recently.

At any rate, the racing crowd inevitably flows lemming-like to the usual GCC starting places where they are forced to endure the company of fit, cheerful people who always ride their bikes strictly for recreation and fun.

So the point here is simply that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Slow down a bit. Raise your eyes from your front wheel and look around. Learn the ways of the kinder, gentler crowd. Stop and smell the tarmac. And if you really dare--just s t o p.

Stop at some pretty spot. A river crossing or pasture. Stop and sing to some cows. Stop at a Jiffy Mart and eat some bad food - you've earned it. Yes, I know there are those who will circle around you screaming that they'll stop on a training ride only when bike races stop for coke breaks. Answer them with a smile and another bite off your Nutty Buddy Cone.

This is the off season --- burp!

Gainesville Cycling Club Web Site