Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July is About Bike Racing

... It blew right through me, then... instantly and decisively... At 37 mph, my elbow and handlebar tapping against a guy I knew little else about except that he was called Ray and he was fast, and both of us trusting our health and our $5,000 bikes to a guy in front of us with an avian nickname, I understood bicycle racing.

You were nothing without the pack. Alone, lacking context, you were neither strong nor weak, not stupid or savvy, not inexperienced or innocent or wobbly or feral or graceful or heavy like unfinished statuary. Two months ago, I was slow because the pack was faster. Tonight I was fast because my pack was slower. The pack created its own context and within the pack that was the only context that mattered. I had eaten sh*t. Paul Pearson, the legendary Animal, was pushing fifty and just a few weeks ago had been telling me how he was picking up cash by temping as a stonemason's assistant. Gibby the Bear, the beloved villain of an entire nation, who'd sown fear and awe into the best professional keirin racers in the world, found himself terrifying Cat 5s in a training race for a shot at a free pizza once a month. The pack didn't care. We were nothing to the pack except the things we did that day.

...For the first time in my life I belonged to something. I was ready to score points.

~ Bill Strickland, Ten Points

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