Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Goon Fever With a Side of Cowbell

So I’m rolling out of the house yesterday to go for my ride, and I’ve got the ipod switched on and I’m putting the stupid key card against the stupid reader so the stupid garage door will open and let me out, when what beautiful noise should fall upon my ears but – COWBELL! Yes, the fine little midget dj in my ipod was letting me know that this was no time to fear the reaper.

Listening to music while riding is something people seem to fall really hard onto one side of or the other. I listen almost always riding alone, and never when riding with a big group. If I’m out with a smaller group of guys I know well for a long boring endurance slog, it’s on. Last night I broke that rule during the goon ride, but it doesn’t count since I had no expectation of doing the ride. I didn’t even know it was still on, they just showed up while I was going down Beach Drive, so I latched on.

The goon ride is a funny deal. It’s mostly peopled with pretty hard core guys, and the pace is generally really fast - probably too hard to be useful for most people most of the time, certainly too fast for me most of the time. A couple of goon rides this year are particularly memorable. The first is from early in the season, I had posted some good race results and feeling strong. The Swede was leading the bunch down Beach, with only a few guys taking pulls. I took my share, and couldn’t believe the pace. When we turned up onto Ridge and began the climb, all of these guys who had been sitting in just shot forward. I tried to hang as well as I could, but the freaking Swede countered and dusted them. It was nuts. By the time the whole scene was played out I’d been dropped pretty hard, but that guy must have some hidden reserve of anger to be able to pull that stuff out.

Another was just a great gut check a few weeks later on. The pace was typically high, and Win Elliot and Sean Ross were animating things. For two guys who were 4’s at the time, it was pretty impressive. We got to Ridge in the typical large group, and Win went off the front. Sean shot up around me in chase. I knew I’d explode if I matched their pace, so I just tried to keep them and the other chasers close. A bunch of guys cracked on the false flat, but shockingly I didn’t, and dragged a group up and onto Ross Road. By the time we were halfway down Ross, it was all back on.

Sometimes rides just go like crap. I was having one of those where everything feels funny, and the whole way down Beach, everything was out of whack. I almost just bailed and went home, but in a stroke of luck Super Dave’s wheel became available. It was like a shaft of sunshine on a cloudy day, and I just hung with him. Then I hit a pothole so hard that my bars rotated down so far that my brakes locked up. It wasn’t to be.

Then there was the fight. Some donkey who I’d never seen before was riding like an ass, just making stupid cuts back and forth and making everyone nervous. A bunch of people, myself included, asked him to chill out and ride straight. Finally, a guy from ETS had enough and brake checked him. The guy went APE SHIT, and started throwing punches at the ETS guy. Quick as you like, a line of guys cut between the two and sort of surrounded the idiot. He got the picture really quick, it was all over and the guy pulled over and left. The ETS guy stayed pretty cool through the whole thing, with plenty of guys letting him know that if it had come to that, we all would have jumped in on his side.

They don’t call it the goon ride for nothing.

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