Monday, May 9, 2011

On Your Marks, Get Set.....

Mississippi 'Red
 In a scene remeniscent of "Planes Trains and Automobiles", a van pulls up beside three of us still cranking away into the wind.  With the passenger window wound down, an older gal yells out the window "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!".  Moments later, she pulls to a stop and emerges from the vehicle in a bit of a panic to inform us that we have gone way too far past the 15km. check point and that we need to turn around.  My two riding companions groan in disgust and I try to put a positive spin on the situation by declaring that "Well, since this is a training ride - we've just gotten more training!". They don't buy it.

There is nothing that makes you shake your head more than a person who is so confidently wrong.  We had been pedalling uphill for quite some time and I was just beginning to wonder how far away this rest stop was when at the top of the next hill we see a cyclist all togged out in matching red shorts and jersey standing and signalling everyone to turn left.  It was four kilometers down that left turn that the van driver pulled us over.

Since I had been drafting the young lady ahead of me, I had tons of energy to turn around and head back the way we had so recently struggled to pedal.  The lady in the van had told us to ride to the last intersection before Highway 60 and turn left.  When I reached the turn I discovered that we needed to turn right not left!  Once again, someone had confidently given us the wrong directions.  In an effort to be gallant, I stood at that corner to make sure that all the cyclists behind me made the correct turn and when they had all passed and I made it to the check stop, I saw that I was the last one to arrive.

After using the facilities and putting some air in my front tire I discovered that the rest stop was now closed and the two marshalls who were "Sweeping" were patiently waiting for me to get my a** in gear.  One of the marshalls - Al, rode in front and the other marshall rode right behind me.  Al is strongly built and since we were heading into a south wind, I tucked in behind his rear wheel and enjoyed having the wind broken for me by his powerful body.

I expressed some consternation at being last and Al assured me that we would soon catch up to the slow riders and it wasn't long before we began shouting over the traffice noise "On Your Left!".  I couldn't help but wonder what these riders must have thought of us when they saw a marshall decked out all in red and right behind him was an older guy in last year's MS jersey and right on his rear wheel another marshall dressed entirely in red.  Was this some sort of honourary vanguard?   Who is the dude in the middle?  Does he have MS and that's why he has an escort?  There wasn't too much time to contemplate the slower cyclist's thoughts as all three of us in our miniature precession encouraged the slower riders with "Keep 'er going!  Almost there!  You can go it!" and other lame expressions.

Stu from United Cycle
 Once back at the starting point, it was reassuring to have Stu Hutchins from United Cycle josh us over the sound system by asking us if we enjoyed the extra "Training Loop" and knowing we had successfully completed the training experience.

Al (the marshall) and Stu

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