new year's day ride 2007; upstream swimmers
We were up late last night, which meant we got up late this morning. It was raining pretty steadily on the back deck, so I ate my oatmeal and took my time starting my day. I never bothered to shower, but lolled about the house in fleece sweats until it was time to put on some cycling togs and get ready for the new year's first ride.
It was still drizzling, and I wondered for a moment if I should take my rain cape. I decided not to, instead choosing my yellow nylon shell that is somewhat water-resistant, worn over a wool undershirt and my tattered, 20-odd-year-old Cinelli jersey with the repairs and patches it got after I crashed my Bianchi Pista in 2000. My good old Sergal leg warmers and a headband under my helmet completed my ensemble as I pulled Julius off the rack and fitted a bottle and a frame pump.
I made decent time, arriving at the fountain right at 1:00 p.m. Bradley was there, as was John Campbell Lake and David Strawhorne. I hadn't seen him in ages. We were actually in the lot across Court Avenue from the fountain, but we're talking less than 20 yards here. Ainsley rode up from his office aboard the Death Trap.
I asked how he was doing, and he mentioned he'd had a long night Saturday. When I expressed my curiosity, he removed his jacket and his long-sleeved jersey and pulled up the left sleeve on his T-shirt.
"Wow!" I said. "How long did that take?"
"Oh, about four hours," he said.
It was a most impressive tattoo, particularly coming in the wake of a conversation Ana and I had the night before. I had mentioned that the two things I had considered and ultimately rejected were piercing my left ear to wear a big shark tooth dangly earring and getting a tattoo.
The koi, Ainsley explained, had special significance. According to Japanese folklore, if a koi successfully swam upstream and back up the falls to the source of the river, it would be transformed into a dragon. Apparently, the tattoo artist had been impressed by Ai
nsley's calmness during getting his first ink - especially when it took four hours.
"I told him some folks think I'm a glutton for punishment," Ainsley said.
I thought about some of our fixed-gear excursions, and how Ainsley had recently ridden fixed in the Spartanburg area, and decided that was an apt description for a fellow upstream swimmer.
We waited for Jim Cox to show up. He had been most insistent that the ride start at 1:00, rather than 10:00. There were cell phone calls, and some driving to and fro, but no dice - or rather, no Jim. While we waited, the drizzle stopped, the clouds starting rolling off, and layers of clothing were removed and tucked away. After waiting half an ho
ur (I looked, and I'm not exaggerating), we headed out.
Strawhorne had never ridden the Wednesday night ride, so we gave him part of that in reverse, riding out through Wisewood out to 225 and thence to Scotch Cross Road. My 67-in fixed gear meant I got to spin like a banshee going down the long hill. Near the bottom I was going 30 mph, which is the fastest I've ridden a fixed-gear less than 70-inches.
We took the John Lake Loop out towards Star Fort, swapping stories and joking. Bradley snuck away to go for the city limits sign, prompting first Strawhorne and then Ainsley to try to run him down. I don't think either of them managed it, though. After the usual turn out past the high school and up to town near the Hardee's, we turned into the wind and headed home.
I started joking with Ainsley about Jim's occasional non-communicativeness.
"I mean, I get it. We're guys. We're not supposed to be too communicative. But seriously, I wonder if this is getting out of hand," I said.
Ainsley allowed as that might be the case.
After a moment, I realized what the problem was.
"Of course, the information could be so confidential he has to keep it a secret from himself," I said.
We worked our way back up L
ebanon Church Road, avoiding dogs (though we did encounter a bad pitbull on Golf Course Road on our way out of town) and other problems. Once on the Canadian Mist Highway, Bradley took off again. This time, only Ainsley pursued. I sat in behind Campbell Lake and took shelter from the headwinds while discussing hub bearing adjustment with Strawhorne.
Eventually we made it back to town, where we learned Jim had come looking for us after we left and had then headed on. On that note, I rode home, winding up with a bit over 30 miles for the day.