To shift down, first shift up. In fact, shift up twice. Then shift down once.
No, this isn’t retreating to move forward. And no, you don’t end up where you started.
This is riding my TT bike—one without basebars, skewers or fully functioning brakes—at 35 mph with a screaming tail wind while only inches away from three other riders.
And at these speeds, time reveals its fluidity. Minutes seem to drag on for hours only to snap and disappear with the speed of seconds. On a good day, your body begins to pedal to a beat. Every action and movement goes according to script. It's part of the TTT time bending magic.
And things were musically magical. We were cruising in the low 30s after the first turnaround. Rounding the s-bend, we hit the long crosswind stretch before the final turnaround. Our echelon was perfect. We were down a man, but riding possessed. Victory was within grasp. We were pedaling to a beat.
A pebble stares at me. It’s round. Maybe the size of a acorn. It poses no harm. It’s perfectly smooth. In the face of this feeble "danger," I do not veer from my path.
I have minutes to change course. But this pebble can do no harm. Without doubt, the impact is devastating. Releasing all 120 psi in a second’s time, the tire deflates. A perfectly round body has slashed my sidewalls.
A pebble has ruined my day. A pebble has ruined our race.
The wind blows a warm breeze. Looking out from my six foot three window, I see acre upon acre of corn. The plants ripple in the wind.
But I stand still. I am besides the road. Somehow, the bike's top tube is supporting my impressive weight. I rest and wish I had brought with me some water on this too warm day.
Reeven rides past. I exhort him on. Another team goes by.
Finally, Lowell appears. I raise an arm, signifying my front flat. As Mr. Koch runs out of the car, I yell for my Y-tool. My super duper aero skewers take minutes to remove.
Back on the road, I settle into a fast rhythm. For seconds that last minutes, I dream of catching the team, taking a long pull and propelling us to victory. But this does not happen. Unlike Lance, I don't believe in miracles
Up the Road
The remaining three power on. As they hit the tracks, their speed suggests a time capable of winning the race. Despite my flat and them needing to wait for Reeven to latch back on, they’re flying.
And then Kyle hits something. Out goes his tire. So he slowly rolls in.
At the car, we trade frowns. Naturally, I curse Hincapie. Brach claims the name of our team is to blame. (We registered as IsCorp/Pro Wanker.) Someone else blames the team Canadian.