Friday, March 4, 2011

TdA Stage 39. Catching the Pauls-y

79km. Moyale to Bush Camp.
Rigid bicycles have a notable disadvantage on this road. Some patches of corrugation are manageable. Others leave you with nothing to do but laugh at your naive ambition. The frequency of the bumps starts mellow and you think that you can float over it if you pin it.
And then the wavelength extends ever so slowly.
bup buup buup buuup
Until suddenly your bike is slamming the ground.
And your bike starts bucking like a wild horse, which, of course, is a bit thrilling when your motor control is impaired on account of fatigue from consecutive days of riding. It was a good chance for me to test out my skin brakes. They work. I don't plan to test them again soon.
The drama in the men's race is providing a steady source of entertainment. A peloton is like a community; you give and take from it as you can and need. The collective cooperation allows the group to be stronger than the individuals, and there is a sort of unspoken expectation that every member of the community participates in both the give and the take. So, when the perception develops that someone is freeloading, the community breaks down (especially when it is the guy who is in first place). This is what has happened to the men's race.
Some men have dropped out of the race. Others have resorted to sneaking out to the road in order to avoid pulling the guy all day. None of these grown men seems prepared to deal with the issue by way of a direct conversation.
So, the 'fast group' has shrunk to two people. The first and second place riders (both named Paul). Today, the second place rider effectively went on strike and rode as slowly as he could in order to try to compel the first place rider to take a few pulls. No dice. So, they rode together. Slowly. All day.
Where the humour comes in is when the recreational riders pass 'the Pauls' and come into camp glowing that they really rocked the day. 'Dude, I love my mountain bike and I think that I'm getting a lot stronger. I passed the Pauls like they were standing still!'.
On a slightly less funny note, one of my friends found out that he contracted Typhoid and will be leaving sooner than expected. It started with being suddenly and violently ill in the market the other day. Ill enough to be taken to the hospital. Antibiotics seem to have cleared things up enough that he joked that it was 'totally worth it' just to have this as a travel story. Perhaps. But it won't be as fun without him around.


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