Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mind the Gap

As much money as I earn as the primary blogger of Team Two Wheel and in my post as Ambassador to Two Wheel Transit, I have decided to continue working in my "regular" job. Think of it like the janitorial engineer who wins the Powerball-Mega-Sweepstakes-Winathon and still decides to show up for his regular job of scraping up gum, emptying trash cans and cleaning up the urine where guys misfire. I'm kind of like that guy.

Why should you care? You shouldn't. But the last couple of weeks and until the end of the month, I have extra gum, trash and urine to deal with, so it has and will limit my attention to this beloved blog. Rumor has it that Rider One might contribute and we might vote as a team (we are a democracy; we tried being an oligarchy and I really wanted to set up a theocracy, but in the end we agreed to be a democracy) to make Rider Two do something other than show up in those videos wearing an outhouse on his head. Just because those two ride bikes fast and strong doesn't mean they shouldn't pull part of the load here, right?

Anyway, I digress. Again.

Cyclists, I suppose like every group, hobby, sport, avocation or oligarchy, has its own lingo and catch phrases. I read one last night, reading, as I often do, anything related to cycling as I drift off to sleep (then wake up, get off the couch, throw away the beer bottles strewn about the floor and then go to bed), which reminded me of my ride yesterday and today. That phrase, as you may have guessed, is "Mind the gap".

This is not actually anything you hear said very often, because having someone say it to you is a) a bit insulting usually and b) something screaming in your head if you have any pack sense. For the uninitiated, this phrase is used when a pack is rolling along and a "gap" begins to open from one rider or part of the group to the next rider or part of a group. Yesterday I saw a gap open just as I was rolling along mostly in a 2x2 line because two guys were having a conversation and their attention drifted for a moment. That kind of gap is usually "minded" quickly because when the guys notice the gap opening one or the other will bear down and catch up, not wanting to split the pack.

The difficult situation is in a race when the gap opens, not because of a moment of inattention, but because a rider is at his limit and can't keep up anymore. The hesitancy is always to figure out which is going on, because racers don't want to waste the energy of going around, in the wind, and closing the gap if the person in front will step on it and close the gap for you. The downside to waiting, and it is more of a danger the faster the gap opens or the windier it is, is that the gap will open up enough that you can't catch back up to the group in front.

In big races this is known as "making the selection", since some riders will keep up and will be in the hunt for the podium places later, while others will drop off and will have to wait to fight another day. In a group ride this process is much more fluid, friendly and less fraught with consequences. Today, for instance, I managed to make up a 10 minute gap on a group ride just because the pack up front slowed down dramatically. How did I end up with a 10 minute gap? A flat, a wheel change, waiting for someone else? No. Frankly, is it any of your business? Did I mention that I am an "Ambassador" and not a racer?

Anyway, when you are riding, Mind the Gap.

Also, I wanted the Spokane cycling community to know that Dee has not given up riding, as we have all suspected for so many months and maybe years.

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