What a season we have had. Though I have no objective data to back this up, and I may well be accused of looking through the rose colored Rudy Projects of middle age, it seems to me that we have just finished our best season ever. The numbers were good, and it would be an interesting winter project to compare numbers from recent years, but I am calling superlative the quantity and quality of riders in this season’s peloton, a group so large that it became a tactical necessity to stay near the front. You could forget about sprinting from anywhere near the back. Gutter-to-gutter finishes at WestWinds and Scotch Ridge--even at BG--and we’ll be talking about that final sprint at the last Colton race for years.
It all began somewhat melodramatically. Would Team Saturn control everything in the mass-start races and then sit up in front of the hapless Wheelmen sprinting for championship points? Us against Them. Good verses Evil. A struggle we now see, after Tony Gwin and John Walter so eloquently set us straight, as more Quixotic than Melvillean. Errant Knights who compulsively follow the European scene and ride their immaculate machines into battle against arch enemies on Thursday evenings. A few rode their Rocinantes into the blades of whirring windmills. Your hasn’t-crashed-in-years author is one such. I began the season with my left side scarred, ended the season with my right.
Then, 11 September 2001. The Scotch Ridge race on the 13th was mine to direct. Two of our club champions were on a mountain top, one on the Emerald Isle. In a funk, like everyone else here, I never thought to call my three volunteers to confirm, never imagined and event 600 miles away could affect our Thursday night. But Dave Bartholomew, Tim, Defrain, Scott Loehrke were all there. Dave Barnes was there with his camera and stat sheet, and Brian Geffe volunteered impromptu. Thirty-two riders rode three times through the clay-clogged home stretch, then a cool, steady rain began to fall as we sorted out the finish. I don’t know how anyone else felt, but it was nice to escape the surreal reality, even if it was for just a moment.
Talk about a paradigm shift, an event that caused an entire nation to reexamine that which really matters. Which is not to suggest that cycling even makes the list, but it is a reflection of our American way. This sport is expensive and time consuming. Most of us have careers and family. Where else but in the good old U. S. A.? And wherever cycling fits into any of our lives, the cycling we enjoy here in Northwest Ohio is pretty darn good. And the reason why it is so darn good is because of the people in our club. I realize that I am one who takes 13th place way too seriously, and that I don’t come off as much of a people person, but I do know how much I enjoy this sport, and I have no illusion as to what makes it all work. It’s all of you.