I don't race. I am not sure why I have never tried, I guess it just never occurred to me. However, the other day I found myself participating in a race of near epic proportions. At first I didn't realize I was racing but it soon became evident that the other guy was on the attack and racing to the top of the hill as if it were the Alpe d'Huez and he was Fausto Coppi. I was in no position to counter that attack as I was riding the Panzer with fully loaded panniers and 6 psi in the tires. The Mukluk is not an agile bike nor does it respond immediately to the mashing of the cranks especially with low psi.
I saw the man riding towards me, then I turned right. I paid little attention to him since I see people on bikes regularly. But then he blew past me as I started up the hill, looking back as if to say "let's see what you got." Without trying to sound judgemental he did not strike me as the racing type. He was somewhat shabby in his appearance wearing cheap white sneakers that were well worn. His blue jeans were dirty and worn. His coat was clearly wrong for racing, a long parka gray, dirty, and dingy. It was unzipped flowing like superman's cape as he reversed the rotation of earth to turn back time in order to save Lois Lane. He is clearly a risk taker based on his choice to go without a helmet. His steed......a trusty Schwinn Varsity! Ironically, this bike probably weighs as much as my Mukluk with out panniers, but that is neither here or there.
I briefly thought about pursuing him but settled on the "little engine that could" strategy. It quickly paid off, about 200 meters into this brazen attack, he pulled off into a parking lot, dismounted and began to walk. "Slow and steady wins the race" I thought as I passed him. Then no more than 60 seconds later he blew past me cresting the hill a mere second before I did, glancing over his shoulder as he passed as if to say "take that." I did and I thought it was over......but it was not.
We were stopped at a four way stop and when it was our turn to proceed, he sprinted looking over his shoulder to see if I was going to pursue him. I did not, the Panzer doesn't sprint. The street narrowed some and there were cars parked which made it difficult to race and we found each other at a major intersection with a stop light. I travel this route regularly and I have found that it is safest to stay in the lane with traffic, otherwise there can be problems with traffic turning right. So there I was in the middle of the road, waiting for the light to change when I glanced over and saw Fausto at the crosswalk. He looked at me as if to say "I got you now sucker" and before the light changed he bolted through the cross traffic. When he crossed he looked back at me and I know he was thinking "you lose!"
By the time the traffic light changed and I crossed through the intersection he was gone and the 1.5 mile race was over. After 36 years of not racing I was out cranked, out gunned, and out maneuvered......defeated by some dude on a Schwinn Varsity. I have been thinking about this lately, looking for some sort of lesson. A message about life or the world at large.
I can't find one.