Monday, March 7, 2011

Escort Service

The Tim Johnson ride on Washington for Bikes Belong is underway. As the word got out and the first of many related emails began to cram my inbox, there was a request for "Fighter escorts" i.e. a local crew to meet up with the group ride and usher them in and out of Hartford with some local navigating savvy. Salem, Brendan, Gerry and I stepped up for the Friday afternoon ride-in. I wisely forewent my usual Yuba mount-- I was already likely to get dropped on every climb as it was, no sense in handicapping myself further. I opted instead for my Breezer Venturi road bike, a late autumn acquisition that I was eager to ride after waiting out the road salt season.

Brendan, Gerry and I met up downtown after lunchtime and set off. We made our rendezvous with Salem in front of the Rockville Public Library in good time. The sunny weather and high 30s temps made for nice riding but chilly waiting, especially on the stone steps. We warmed and amused ourselves with some freestyle banister sliding until the Johnson expedition arrived in a burst of color and high-end componentry.

People were in pretty good spirits for that point in the day, with introductions and banter continuing as we headed west. The pace was just brisk enough. I determined that the perfect time for me to join a group ride was after the rest of the group had already ridden 100+ miles or so. We swept through semi-rural South Windsor as the shadows grew long and saw the group to the Sheraton on the East Hartford side of the Founders Bridge.

Friday evening's reception saw the Red Rock full of riders and well-wishers. Speeches were made, officials represented, swag tossed, food eaten and beer imbibed. I bailed around 10 or so, having volunteered to escort the ride out of Hartford early Saturday morning. Naturally, I had a terrible night's sleep (Blasting soca at 3 AM?! Really?! Thanks, neighbors!)

Saturday morning, Gerry and I met up in the hotel lot at 6:45 and went in. There was a bit of foot-dragging as everyone got ready and did some last-minute noshing. The neutral support vehicle (which was actually in "park" at the time) provided me with a toe strap to mend and secure my 1970's-era saddlebag, which had broken free and drooped onto my rear wheel as I rolled into the parking lot. Hooray, Volvo full of bike parts!

I planned on doing one of two things for Saturday's ride. Plan A: ride with the group to the planned Fairfield stop, where I had an opportunity to catch a ride back to Hartford, or Plan B: ride along for 20 miles or so and turn back toward Hartford when Gerry did. I figured I would make the call at the 20 mile mark based on how my still-healing recently-sprained thumb was feeling and how well I was keeping up with the pack.

Somewhere southwest of downtown New Britain, I realized I had but a very faint idea of where we were. On consultation, it seemed Gerry was in the same boat. I knew that we were bound to cross Route 10 at some point, so I proposed it as a known (if unlovely) route back home. My personal assessment around the 15 mile mark indicated a moderately throbbing right hand and increasing gaps between me and the rest of the riders on the uphill bits. We eventually hit Route 10 at a red light in the Southington area and had our good-byes, well-wishes and handshakes in time for the green. We headed north, and the group continued to press on southeasterly toward their next stop in Bethel. I was a little bummed about bailing out, but my hand gently reassured me that I had made the right decision. I enjoyed the time I spent riding along with everyone and I wish them all the best for the cause and for the rest of the ride.


Erik Jorgensen said...

Yazoo! Road salt season is over (all washed away by today's rain)!

Is that the Breezer in the second picture? Light blue with leather saddle?

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