my friend bill quite possibly saved my life when i was seventeen. i was climbing a cliff face in new hampshire, and near the top the rock began to crumble. he lowered a branch, and i was able to make it the rest of the way up. why was i clinging to a sheer rock face fifty feet up with no ropes, helmet or training of any kind?
im not really sure. it was summertime in new hampshire, though.
while on tour with an old band, the brakes went out in our van. in the thirty seconds or so that it took for us to plow down the embankment, across the dirt road and up the next shallow hill the van was completely silent. in spite (or perhaps because) of the blizzard of gear, bodies and unwashed clothing swirling around the cab we didnt say a word. the screaming began when we started rolling backwards down the little hill that stopped our initial tumble. why, after paying 2500 dollars, did i drive the same van four hundred miles to play a show in another crappy little town i had never heard of?
again, im kind of at a loss to explain.
through a combination of questionable life choices and surprising durability, i have amassed an alexandrian libray of oh shit moments that span my thirty-odd years on this planet. ive broken 52 bones, have bits of cartilage floating around in the sinus behind my nose, and have had so many stitches ive taken to just gluing shut any opening that leaks anything except air, water or crap. somehow unable to quit while still ahead (read: still alive), i have most recently begun racing bikes on the road.
which brings us to this weeks edition of "too stupid to quit, too mean to die".
the crit this week was markedly faster than last. for the first few laps, there was a man on the front seemingly intent on crushing the spirit of each and every person in the field (i say "person" - kudos to the wells folks for having co-ed races). this did some damage, alternating the nature of the group between a jumble (car on the course) and a long line of hurting, panting racers praying to god for the bell. our average speed, according to someone whos computer was actually turned on, was around 22 mph. considering the nature and composition of the c race at wells, this is an alarming pace. on the last lap, the field wound up early (is 1000 meters too far for the sprint?) and the lead group of riders created a substantial gap. i was in this group, sitting comfortably on the back. i felt good - i had a teammate or two with me, my legs felt fresh, and the guys in front had been there the whole race. just before the last turn, someone apparantly needed to get from about three feet from my left to about three feet to my right, cutting across my wheel and causing the most amazing not-crash i have ever had. using my left foot (and sadly, my almost-new spd sl cleat) and a sense of balance derived from the mental image of being run over by 50 charging neophyte racers i was able to stay upright. i finished the race in that group, though i wasnt exactly well placed to contest the sprint.
after the race, i thought my friend nick wasnt feeling good, as he pulled off a few laps before the end. when i asked him if he was ok he said: "are you kidding? i know what happens during the last three laps at wells".
hmmm. and now i know.