Monday, April 2, 2012

Come and Take It

In college, twice between semesters, I drove to Cool, Texas to attend a hole-in-the-wall bull riding school. It consisted of a few hours of in-livingroom instruction before we slid on some spurs and straddled a bull. Of course, there was mechanical bull in the yard, but it was over a concrete pad and anchored with free weights and, of all things, an anvil. The actual bulls seemed safer.

After getting tossed ass over teakettle about seven times, I finally stuck it out for the full 8 seconds. [Full disclosure: This last ride may have been on a mean cow.] At the time, I could think of few things more wild or more likely to throw my butt into the dirt than a bull after that gate swung open. But then I'd never ridden a sliver of carbon fiber, my heart beating 200 times a minute, inches away from fifty other souls, half of them going deaf or blind from the effort, down some nameless Hill Country back road into a Texas headwind.

Some days you get bull, but today, at the Come and Take It road race in Gonzales, Texas, I got the horn. After missing the break, my teammates and I worked to bridge up to the fifteen lead riders. The effort shattered the pack and sent half the field home to try another day. Of the five or so left were me and my teammate Jordan. A few miles in to the chase, I crossed wheels with the rider in front of me, crashed and slid across the road.

Unbroken, and bike still functioning well enough, I got back on and kept riding. The break and the chase were both out of sight, but Jordan who had stopped to make sure I would be okay, was only a minute or so ahead. Thirty minutes later, riding alone in the heat and into the wind, I made it back up to Jordan (who would do the lion's share of the work for the next hour) and together we caught and passed the remnants of the chase group, including the wheel I crashed on. I can't remember ever riding so hard.