* Thanks to Balls Pedersen for the sonograph.
life, from my perspective
Every Tuesday, Midweek Mayhem hosts criterium races at the Research Park at the University of Calgary. In a criterium, cyclists ride around a circuit for a set period of time (in this case, 25 or 30 minutes) and then a bell is rung, indicating there are a set number of laps remaining (in this case, 2). Over the course of the race, riders will 'attack' (try to break away from the pack by riding faster and hoping that some others will not keep up).
In my experience as a spectator, men seem naturally competitive enough to do this to each other for no other reason than bragging rights. Still, to prevent any risk of a lazy race, there are 'prem' laps in which incentives (often prizes or cash, or points, the value of which is directly correlated with pride), are awarded to the first one through the line.
The majority of participants at the Tuesday crit are men, but there is a small contingent of women. In contrast to men, women, at least at my level, are not as predisposed to attacking each other. I attribute this to i) an aversion to disrupting the peace, ii) fear of failure, and iii) an emphasis on safety.
This week I tried the race for the first time. Cindy was there (which is the only reason I found the guts to try it), along with a handful of other girls. Coach Pedersen (aka 'Balls') rode behind to give us tips and spice up the race. Only a few laps into the race, Balls insisted that one of us should attack. That's when the fun started. There was an attack every couple of minutes, or so it seemed. As soon as one of us felt that anaerobic feeling of nausea subside, we would hammer down and try to pull away. The pace kept rising until there were only three of us (four, if you include Balls) remaining, Cindy, Caitlin, and me.
The last lap was an all out sprint. I'm talking an all out effort. The kind that makes your lungs feel like they are going to bleed. Like you could fail at any moment, but you keep trying anyway. All the way to the finish, where nobody was even keeping a record. The only audience that mattered was ourselves. It was exhilerating.Afterward, Cindy, Balls and I rode to Jimmy's A&A Falafel house. It was kind of late for dinner, and a school night, but it was a beautiful evening and it seemed like a fun thing to do. Coach Pedersen earned his nickname of Balls with an agressive (but legal) traffic maneuver. In a misunderstanding that involved a Borat impersonation and almost resulted in severe injury to Balls, I earned the nickname of Thighs. We laughed and talked about bikes until it started to get dark. We talked about race strategy as though racing were our livelihood. I felt like a kid.