The Bike and Other Stories
Cycling adventures around London, New York City, and Berlin.
Geoffrey Armes
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Competitive Interlude
Geoffrey Armes - 2020-07-03 22:17:57+02:00

He was on one of the smaller hills when I spotted him, working, but not hard enough as I overhauled him on the false flat after the climb. I actually slowed a little there and he decided to latch on, which I thought was fine although I gradually upped the pace into the valley and then the next, longer hill. I figured the peak would sort us out; either he was faking and resting and would come round me there, or, well, I didn't expect much else. I hit the lower slopes fast, and found that I still had good legs, and setting a steady tempo figured he'd sprint round soon enough. Halfway up I got out the saddle and started hammering, and still he clung there, not coming through, not saying anything, not going away.

I freewheeled the descent, to see if he'd get impatient. He didn't, so I decided to attack at the bottom, sprinting out of the curve, figuring I'd drop him there as I was now annoyed at my silent not quite partner. He held on. I stopped the attack as I was starting to gasp anyway, but decided to keep the pace steadily high, grinding away into the wind, figuring he'd be there till one of us turned. He wouldn't work. I kept speeding up incrementally, often a recipe for dragging someone to a finish line only to see them sprint past. I figured I'd blow up on the last slope anyway, that is a series of short vicious little mounds that'll break your heart if you don't respect them.

I slowed a little, so did he, I turned to see him, he kept his eyes firmly on the road. The road roamed ahead, a dark challenge under the trees, and then suddenly - he was gone. Just like that. I turned to check again, and he was already metres behind. I worried a little for him as his exit was so spectacular. After a few more pedal strokes I looked again. Yes, he was still on the bike, still moving, in fact out the saddle - all was well. I stood up myself, waved, then sprinted the last little hummock alone, heading towards the long straight track of the Krone and home.