This is my story as an aspiring professional Bike Commuter Racer (BCR). I envision this becoming a recurring feature, much like the training diaries feature, where I offer my BCR training advice, experience and wisdom. Away we go...
The other day, as I was leisurely riding my bike to work, I heard a shrill whistle from far behind me. I thought nothing of it, until I heard again, this time much closer. A woman's voice harshly yelled, "On your left! Hold your line! HOLD YOUR LINE!!!". Shocked, I nearly fell over, but given my impeccable balance, I was able to stay upright. At that moment, a fast moving peloton of a mother on a cargo bike (fully loaded with 3 kids), 2 other kids on Mickey Mouse bikes, a young man on a Capital Bikeshare (CB) bike, and an old guy on an S5 with Zipp's struggling to stay on the pack of the pack flew by me at what seemed a rather unreasonable speed. I was confused by what I had just seen. I did a little bit of research at work, and discovered that there is a thriving bike commuter racing scene, and I had just seen one of the area's top commuter racers, known simply as Mom.
I knew that if I wanted to rise to the tops of the commuter racing scene, I would need to dedicate myself to training. That night, I got home and hit the training hard. I soft pedaled on my trainer for 20 minutes and immediately followed the grueling session with a beer or two to promote quality recovery. I woke up this morning, feeling great, ready to race.
The hardest part about commuter racing is that you never know who your opponents are, and when the race will start. I kept my head on a swivel, looking for Mom. As I made my way down Florida to 16th Street, I passed a guy on a CB bike, who immediately hopped onto my wheel. It was on! I dropped the hammer, but he stuck with me. Crossing 16th, and waiting at the light, he came up next to me. Then a girl rode up. We all made eye contact. It was go time.
As soon as the light turned green, I was off. I got the lead, and was flying down New Hampshire, going at least 11.5 mph. I put the pedal to the metal (meaning I did a totally sweet power slide across a metal grate) just to show them who was boss. I kept the hammer down, and won the intermediate sprint through 17th street. I snuck a quick peak behind me, and there was a chase group of guys in suits forming, chasing hard. Right behind them was another chase group of young children on Huffys, and a woman in a dress and high heels. I knew if I wanted to hold them off, I would have to give it everything I had.
I raced hard, harder than I ever have before. My internal speedometer said I was pushing 300+ mph, but I bet it was more like 13 mph. I looked around at the nonplussed crowd that had gathered, thinking they were in awe of the display of cycling prowess they were witnessing. I even heard one fan yell, "Hey dickhead, watch where you are going!". I might try and find him later to give him an autograph.
Anyway, I pushed to my limit, and then passed it, barely holding off the charging chase group of business professionals. We made the turn through Dupont Circle, and onto the pave of the construction zone of New Hampshire south of the circle. As the dust swirled, I continued to push, allowing a brief peak behind me to see the chase group closing.
As we neared the finish line (which I arbitrarily decided was K Street because I was exhausted), I knew it would come down to a field sprint. The only thing I didn't know was if anyone else knew that we were racing. At that point, as my vision began to blur and my legs felt like jelly, it didn't really matter. I gave it everything I had, and was able to sneak across K Street just as the light turned yellow, winning my first ever Commuter Race! I soft pedaled the rest of the way to work, in a daze. I am exhausted, but elated. I will be back again, hoping that I run into the feared Mom. Back to training, until next time.
And then you woke up, right?
-Andy Sovonick of Gaithersburg
Love it. I'm wondering if I should upgrade to an aero helmet to offset the drag from the milk crate lashed to my hybrid?