Another week, another bike ride with Marathon Man Lenard. His days in Colorado are winding down, so we are trying to squeeze in as many trips as time allows. Gonna miss that mangy skinny-assed raw piece of leather Texan, even if he does kick my butt every damn time.
This was to be a rematch of our rematch race up Log Hill. More to the point, a race against our best times because we have already determined that I'm no match for his hot buttered grit.
This time he was serious. On the starting line at the bottom of Log Hill, Leon pulls out his stopwatch. Oh boy, I'm in for it. He's confident, has that look in his eye, the same look an Eagle has just before its talons plucks a salmon from a river.
I'll spot ya 90 seconds this time, he drawls.
You're on! I reply, with all the bravado of a Christian as lions are being released into the Colosseum.
Leon's shooting for a time under 20 minutes, which would better his Personal Best by 30 seconds. I'm shooting for anything under 22 minutes, which would take 57 seconds off my Personal Best... a huge chunk, but I like to dream.
It's hot. I unzip my jersey as far as it will go; roll pedal pusher length bike pants just above the knees; chug a half bottle of Gatorade; Zero out my Casio's chronograph; remove my helmet and backpack. This is ritual macho acting out. If it were mating season there would be blood all over the highway.
Three, two, one, go!
Now in my defense, I had just ridden from Lovely Ouray to Ridgway... 10 miles and change. And I did it in record tying time, 31 minutes and 45 seconds. Leon, however, choose to meet me in Ridgway... save his energy for "the hill." Some would call this "cheating." I'll leave it up to you to decide.
My goal was to hold off Leon until the last sweeping turn, about half mile from the finish line. But as I neared the one mile mark of our 2.2 mile race, I hear him breathing... more of a rhythmic groan, really, and the infernal clicking of his over-clean gear-set. I've been had. He breezes by in tuck form, startles a deer which leaps across the road right in front of me. I swerve, and release a string of obscenities that would make a salty old Third Class Petty Officer proud.
I hang in behind Leon's contrail for a while, hoping he shot his wad trying to catch me. Then he gets his second wind and pulls away. Now it's just me against the clock... which is in reality me against myself. Sweat comes off in streams. I question my sanity; wonder what the recommended max heart rate is for a 65.5 year old geezer; if this is worth dying for and what people would be saying at my memorial service... if they would think I was courageous, or just another dumb jock trying to beat back Father Time.
I don't look at my watch. It wouldn't do any good because I am maxed out. Finally, the last curve. I see the metal post that serves as our finish line. Time slows to a freaking standstill. I never did like sprints.
20 minutes, 57 seconds. Two minutes off my P. B.. Leon? 18 minutes and 19 seconds. As soon as he can speak he's already figuring out loud how to shave off 19 more seconds. Me? I'm just happy to be alive.
Below, one last panorama from Red Mountain One's fiery ridge line. Scroll left to take it all in...
|“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein|