10 November 2012

Race Day on the Burke Gilman Trail (written in 2006)


I was out on the Burke Gilman Trail a week or so ago, riding as hard as I could, just trying to get the last few miles in so I could make my goal for the week, pulling along with a nice little late afternoon tail wind, when out of nowhere, this little kid on a mini-Schwinn with streamers and training wheels pulls in behind me. Red hair, freckles, and sneakers with no socks. No helmet, no mom or dad anywhere to be seen. I look behind me and he's giving it all he's got to stay on my wheel. I sped up a bit, he sped up a bit; I slowed down, he slowed down. I didn't know what to do, so I shrugged it off and just continued to ride my ride. About a block and a half from my finish line, the kid sprints out in front of me. Now I'm peeved. I don't mind pulling somebody along, but now they want to embarrass me? I kick it up a gear and ride hard to catch his 16" wheel, but he looks around at me, sticks his tongue out and gives me a raspberry, while turning on the afterburners.

Slowly, I manage to pull along side of him and we're neck and neck for a minute, but by now my quads are burning up. I've been on the bike for over a half hour and he knows I'm about to bonk. BAM! He kicks it up a notch. I kick up another gear and stand, but now I'm starting to cramp. No matter, I'm not gonna let this wheel sucker ace me out of my glory. He follows suit and is out of the saddle, pedaling his single speed K-Mart special with white knobby tires for all it's worth.

Just about that time, outta some shrubs to the left, here comes a dog. And he's coming fast. I hesitate for just a moment as this distraction causes me to lose cadence and as the kid crosses the finish line a wheel length in front of me, he whistles, yells "c'mon boy", and slowly turns down the sidewalk and into his driveway. I lower my head and slink off to my truck, carefully remove the front wheel from my light weight imported race bike, ease my bike onto the Yakima rack on top of the car, and slowly, ever so slowly drive off. As I turn the corner out of the park and sneak a peek while driving by the kid's house, there he is in the window, a smile on his face, petting his loyal friend on the head and eating a peanut butter sandwich.

Someday, I'm gonna beat the pants of that 5 year old.

Donald Boothby

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