Fatigue Limit – 8

Bobby Walthour, six-day champion

A rider spurted from the pack. Kirk Olivero, a racer who performed well in local contests, had visions of being crowned “king of the hill.” Let the chase begin. Lungs and muscles responded to willful attempts at picking up the pace. We started to hurt. Lactic acid turned muscles hard as rock. Grunting and gasping for air, we hammered on the pedals. Gone was the friendly banter. There would be no mercy given until the top of the climb where the winner would be decided. Beating the pack into submission had a animal appeal to it, like an alpha ape ruling over its shrewdness.

Gary responded. He would show us what he was capable of when challenged. Spinning his pedals like they were free of earth’s gravity, he quickly reeled in Kirk and built a gap between himself and the other riders. We flailed the cranks. We were no match for the young champion. He pulled out of sight on the tight turns of Martinez Road [Alpine Road] as it climbed through the wooded hillside.

We scrambled up the final yards to Page Mill Road, gasping for breath, sweat dousing our frames — a caustic salt brew that rusted steel. Gary waited, already recovered from the effort, and smiling. That beaming grin made him all the more appealing. It disarmed you. He never uttered a boastful or condescending word. He treated us as though we were his best friend. Was there anything about Gary to dislike? I hadn’t seen it yet.

Carl suggested we ride to La Honda and take the stage road, but nobody expressed his support for the longer route. We all wanted to enjoy the descent on Page Mill, two thousand feet down a road that twisted and turned. The road had a reputation. It was so steep that highwheelers stayed away. Only with the introduction of the safety did cyclists begin to take on the road. This was our day for a fast ride under ideal conditions.

Fatigue Limit home

One Response to “Fatigue Limit – 8”

  1. Ted Says:

    Good stuff Ray

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