This summer, me and the boys have spent some time in the farm country north of New York City, in the hills and valleys outside of Poughkeepsie, where there's a farm house that needs scraping and painting and strong, undermployed young folks to pay to do so, and lots of sweeping country roads for evening rides.
Tired from working and tired of training, we went out one evening for a fun ride. No spandex, no helmets, no big ring, just fun. "Can you do a 180 degree skid?" Sure! I wound up destroying my race tire. Oops.
We got into a fierce debate about aerodynamics and descending skills (aided by the post-work, pre-ride beer), so we set about articulating the rules of a contest:
1. We start from a stop atop a crest, in the same gear, and allow ourselves a single pedal stroke to clip in and gain a roughly equal momentum.
2. Drafting is allowed.
3. The winner is the person who goes the farthest.
We line up and push off and clip in and enter our best aero tucks, rolling along at seven or eight miles an hour and slowly gaining speed down down the road. We're wobbling with the low speed of it all but we pick it up until we're descending, still at unimpressive speeds, but crouching as low as we can and casting fierce looks at each other.
Three of the four of us are not satisfied with the results competition so we continue to pedal and shittalk until we come to the next part of the road that provide a good starting line, and, rolling at the same speed, begin the competition.
This time, we get up to some more speed and are flying down the road, grimacing with the effort of holding the smallest, tighest aero tucks we can conjure up.
Suddenly, Al cries out from behind me, "Dear up!" and in front of me, William yells out, "Gear up? WE SAID NO SHIFTING OR PEDALING!" but before he completes his sentence, a deer runs out from the woods next to the road, across our line, practically brushing William's nose.
If his tuck was a hair more aerodynamic he'd have run smack into its flank, into the fury of its lanky legs and sharp hooves. Instead it clattered off to the road and disappeared into the underbrush on the far side of the road as we, wide eyed, sat up on our bikes.
A sphincter-clenching moment, to be sure.