Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Approaching The Edge of a New Vista

I'm in the middle of my third season. Improvements, both physically and mentally, are evident. I am stronger, more confident and proud of my accomplishments. Yesterday was a pivotal day.

After one year of hanging onto my wheel wherever I rode, my son, Andrew (15), who begins his high school career in just a few short weeks, expressed an interest in racing. So as I thought about how to proceed with this request, I upped Andrew's efforts. I increased our pace, I furthered the distance and every now and then, even tried to surprise him with sudden sprints. We joined a weekly group ride out of the Brielle Cycle Shop and pace lined through beautiful farmlands in central Jersey. He excelled on all counts. It was time to hand him off to the professionals.

The Colavita Racing Team, with an international presence on the racing scene, has a wonderful junior program right here in New Jersey. I found them through a link on the Van Dessel website. Van Dessel, Colnago, Cervelo, I can't decide, but that's a story for another time.

I contacted the team, I set up an intro ride. The days leading up to the ride were filled with the unknown. Are we fast enough? Had we put in enough base miles? Will we get dropped? No, no, yes.

This group of "juniors" is a poised, serious, well-conditioned team. 12 to 19 years old, going on 30. MPH that is...
They flowed down the road in a seemingly effortless undulation that looked like ballet. The coaches encircled Andrew and set about nurturing him to be a part of that ballet. At least I'm pretty sure that's what they did, you see, I was 'bout a half mile back at any given time... gasping for air.

Well Andrew, on the other hand, never left that group. Sure, he dropped behind a few times on the climbs, but the coaches pulled him right back up to the group. He doesn't quit and I think he performed remarkably well. I knew he was hurting, way out of his zone, as I was, but determined.

For a brief stretch, just after cresting a hill where I fully expected to see snow caps, one of the coaches rode next to me to chat. I was clearly in another league, pushing beyond my limits, speaking in one word sentences, but all I could think of was how after a few weeks of this, I'll be only a quarter mile behind the group, or maybe right behind!

The coach said to watch for Andrew's reactions after the ride, listen to what he says and how he says it. It will be the indicator of whether or not he'll continue. Andrew was hard on himself. He expected to be on par with who we came to learn, were State Champions and Nationally ranked riders. But his disappointment could not mask the exuberance. He is on the cusp of the next level and he knew it. His face was beet red, his legs were weak, but his eyes sparkled. Andrew's gonna be a racer.

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