I scored five points on this night, with that attack I wrote about, but no matter how good that felt, when I started writing I realized it was not among the most remarkable things that happened.
I can’t say all that happened because I never am able to anyway, and when the racing is hard enough I can hardly remember anything. But this is something that happened. Marty Nothstein was there, who I hadn’t seen in a long time on a bike. He said it was his fifth time out all year. I said certain things never go away. He said something, I don’t know what because he had created a hole in the riders ahead of us and put his shoulders on either side of it and opened it up wider and gone into it and out the other side then the hole was not there anymore and never had been. That is a way some around here are able to ride. I used to think of them as spoonbenders. After enough years I stopped thinking of it that way and just thought of it as riding. On this evening, some of the guys who I once would have thought of as spoons were not exceptionally happy about being bent. Later, after the finish, I would hear a few of them talking about it, and before I could say that Marty was just riding how he rides, another rider said it for me.
This is something that happened. Every time we came to what felt like a near standstill in the worst wind at the top of the little hill, I knew I wanted to attack right before that, at the base, at the start of the slowing, and be going as hard as I could by the worst of it, but I knew to have any chance of making it stick I had to wait for enough people to be tired, and the only way I would know that time had come was if I was too tired to attack.
This is something that happened. From the finish straight through the S-turns then up the hill and off it, you had to switch sides four times to stay out of the wind. It was a wind that could bend spoons. I kept switching sides. Every lap. Sometimes I would be too tired to care about switching sides, to go through putting my front wheel or my shoulder or my whole bike where it needed to be to move or keep someone else in the wind, but I did it anyway. I don’t know why, except because that’s just how you ride.
This is something that happened. When I was too tired to even imagine attacking anymore, with just six to go, a bell lap, for points, I attacked. There was just too much wind between me and the finish, but sometimes that can be just enough.
This is something that happened. Andy had been in or around or tracking or chasing some kind of attempt to get away, one I was too tired to register except to know that the pack had come back together after some disturbance, and when I made my move he was still at the front at the start of the rise of the hill and was coming over left to make sure anyone who passed him would have to do so on the right and take the wind. He sensed or felt or saw without seeing that he was about to close the door on an attack, then he sensed or felt or saw without seeing that it was me, then he left a gap in the door barely thin enough to fit a spoon through, then he took his hand off the bar and made a little motion that I should go through, and all of this occurred impossibly at once.
This is something that happened. I rode with riders who make mistakes on a bike that are more beautiful than anything I do right on a bike, who can do nothing on a bike better than I will ever do anything.
This is something. I rode with those riders. It’s just something, I know, but, I mean, it really is something, at least for me, all of it—the riding that happened out there and, too, the riding that happened by never happening, and the parts of either kind that I can’t remember or never knew about or just can’t say right or understand.
Originally published in The Selection, April 25, 2014