Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ridin' with Hondo. Volume 4

This column is intended to keep the reader abreast of ongoing training efforts that Eki and his partner experience as they move toward the holy grail of bike races, the Trans Iowa V.6. Any and all similarities of said training partner to humans acquainted with or related to the reader are purely coincidental. The writer deeply apologizes for disturbing qualities that may exist between others and the 'partner'.

The alarm came too soon and after rolling out of the sack I asked the question, "Are you really ready for this?". It wasn't the ride I was asking about (as this was the 3rd weekend in a row that included an 8 hour effort), but in fact it was Hondo that weighed on my mind. Could I really put up with all that he has to offer for another large block of my life on the bike? I'd have to gut it out. After all, these rides are about mental toughness just as much as they are about physical training.
I rolled into the usual meeting place a few minutes early to find three small lights milling about by the stern of the great vessel. I pretended to not notice them as I fumbled with an equipment adjustment allowing the group lead by Hondo to approach me. The first words out of his mouth as he came into view were, "Who is it?, Who is that?". Dear Reader, Hondo has scored hundreds and hundreds of riding hours with this writer, yet the start of every ride seems to be the first time we have met.
A fresh face showed itself in the group which was inspiring. Dave Schuneman who had been logging hours previous to our 6 a.m. start had hooked onto the ride and he intended on escorting us out of town as well as provide Rich, Jeremy and myself a buffer to the effects of the ageing Hondo. Some good natured chatter stared the morning as we headed north up the shore of the Gitchee Gumme. It wasn't long before a flat struck the group, this time it was the front tire of the confused one. I took this opportunity to unleash a flurry of derogatory comments directed his way as 'pay back' for last week's experience where I endured a 15 minute tongue lashing. I even managed to get this unique picture to capture the moment.

Soon enough we were back on the road heading toward Rich's favorite coffee shop, the Mocah Moose (sp?). Upon our arrival a mere 25 minutes out from the incident depicted in the picture Hondo announced, "I'm getting another flat!". Frustrated, the group pushed on into the parking lot 10 minutes before opening time. This would surely allow the 'cagey veteran' ample time to repair the damaged wheel. However, as he has staved off his admittance to a nursing home thus far, it became clear that he was definitely in need of some professional assistance. While attempting to fill the tube with air it was observed that he had affixed the pump to the stem at an angle that could only spell disaster. Yes, it happened, he sheered off the stem rendering the tube useless. The group milled about nervously as it was apparent he was losing his mind. I took a few steps away from the scene in the hope that none of the absurdity would rub off on me. Then, the colossal Hondo moment happened. He actually placed a patch on a perfectly good section of the tube and was then confused as to why the tube wouldn't hold air. Jeremy Kershaw rose to the occasion with the patients he employs at his work place (appropriately a hospital) pointing out that the puncture was 1/4 inch to the right of the patch. A tense energy entered the group as glances were exchanged regarding Hondo's condition. Thankfully, he carries the equivalence of a bike shop on his back and ultimately Jeremey was able to assist in the final repair while the crazed one rambled on about needing glasses.
After some of our group devoured a full breakfast complete with decaf espressos (which confused me) we were finally on our way, serving our intended purpose - a bike ride. The miles began to tick off and we formed a pace line driving hard into the wind. Surprisingly, not receiving obnoxious instruction from Hondo as there's a chance he was humbled by his display back at the coffee shop, but I doubt it. I did however become concerned as I'd watched on more than one occasion Hondo blindly follow Jeremey's wheel as he pulled off allowing Hondo to come through and take a turn. This misstep caused the pace line to lose momentum as a chain reaction occurred due to Hondo's failed realization of the functions of an effective pace line. We shook our heads and continued to worry about him - poor guy.
We laughed, chased Rich up the climbs, coached Jeremey through a sick stomach and dried Hondo's tears as he told stories of what he used to be able to do.
More to come...


Rich said...

Man . . . You are one funny writer!

Charlie Farrow said...

Lies...all lies...You will be hearing from my lawyer!!!

Jeremy Kershaw said...

I was feigning illness only waiting to give someone "the Look" later on going up the Strand Hill.