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Article #15
The Doctor is In

- SlingShot

I had made a mistake...a bad mistake. It was sound logic that brought me to it, but it was a mistake all the same. I knew that now.

I drifted through the Middletown traffic lights. My head was motionless. My eyes didn't move in my head. Only the traffic lights and road signs moved. My arms and legs drooped motionless, sometimes a slight twitch to work a pedal or the steering wheel as I drove east on Route 211. I approached the intersection by the fairgrounds near what used to be Lloyds. I was facing an odd blue sky with swatches of clouds that were just beginning to drain the reflected the colors of dusk coming up behind me. The lights, cars, pedestrians, drug deals and road signs all the way from Maryland Avenue had compressed into flat 2D graphics that flowed over me. Not quite in the right order. I heard only the monotonous whine of a high pitched sine wave.

I was disoriented and couldn't really say if I'd been there before. Of course part of me knew I'd been there hundreds of times, but I couldn't quite resolve it into familiarity. There was only this strange series of disjointed and flat images, an oddly sunlit expanse of highway that could have been Anywhere, USA.

I half expected to dissolve into Leary Clear Light as I reviewed the process that had brought me there.

Recently I stopped being dropped by the rides I was going on. I used to count on being dropped then spinning myself to a nub while trying to latch back on. Now the rides were all becoming accessible. I was routinely hanging on for the full ride, sometimes I would even find myself at the front. Winning a sprint had ceased being totally uncommon. A, B, Poker, it mattered little. That is not to say that even the Orange County Bicycle Club's so-called Poker Rides are not without their moments of challenge. You know the drill. Take the slowest poker in the Club and post them at the door to your local grocery store. Now, assuming you can stop anybody in their headlong dash toward sugar laced fat; have the Ultra Poker casually mention what they do on Saturday morning. I'll guarantee 9 out of 10 of the slop bucket junkies sauntering in to pick up their fix will mouth in quivering disbelief, "You go how far? On a BICYCLE?"

I mean, cyclists are just superior sorts of creatures...all of them. Still the rides were becoming doable, Saturday morning's quick little climb up Ridgebury notwithstanding, so I was carefully led into the false logic of my horrible mistake.

Wasn't it time for me to show up for a faster ride, one in which I could reclaim my proper position as slowest rider and begin again getting faster by riding with faster riders? That was the logic. I'll admit to my character quirk that makes me rather to serve in hell than rule in heaven, but it sounded reasonable at the time. Now in the dizzying fragments of my trek home I was thoroughly dis-enjoying the aftermath. It was impossible to move, hard to think...easier to hear only an internal 1000 hertz test tone and let the traffic signs drift through me.

The ride is called The Grind and it starts on Maryland Avenue in Middletown on Tuesdays at 5:30 pm.

Legend has it that the ride was started, maybe six years ago, by former OCBC President, Paul (Peek-a-boo) Levine, aka Paul (Serotta) Latrine. It starts where it starts because that's where Paul used to live, and bikers' habits die hard. The location is a continuing consternation to new riders who show up and ask, "No really, SOMEBODY has to live here!"

"No we just start here because this is where we start."

The ride is probably more often called The Bicycle Doctor Ride, because it has traditionally been organized and held together by (Doctor) Rich Cruet, owner of The Bicycle Doctor bike shop.

Please don't confuse (Doctor) Rich with Dr. Art (chiropractor, rider extraordinaire and regular contributor to this rag) nor, more specifically, don't tie the nom to anything resembling a medical degree. This is a matter of pure bicycling science and (Doctor) Rich's credentials were earned in the college of hard rides.

So I pulled into Maryland Avenue to find that only three other riders had shown up for the ride. At first I was dismayed there might not be adequate drafting opportunity to suit my taste (and keep me hanging on), then I noticed one of the riders was, well, as they say in the parlance of the land "gravitationally challenged." By that I mean he was a few pounds over the approved "fast and furious climber" limit. He looked to be subject to all sorts of gravity traps1. However I'm glad to report that once I start down the path of false logic, I am wont to continue to the bitter end. This guy, Rob Woods, turns out is a major force in biking here 'bouts.

To put it in context, when I mentioned my last Sunday ride up Eagles Nest Rob retorted, "Oh yeah, I do that ride three times a week." Suffice it to say that, after we started the three mile (or something) climbs  (first up Prospect Hill then Guymard Turnpike), I only once got closer than my standard 200 yard offset, and that was when Rob and Rich attacked the severe incline at the bridge just before Guymard Lake. I only got closer then because I was not yet on the severe slope. I'm never one to shirk on the continuation of false logic, so I thought, "Oh, good. They're sprinting. We're at the top!"

Not hardly.

By the way, the other rider who showed up was Frank Doty. He's only been riding for three years, so of course on the big hills he just jumped up and went on ahead then waited for us at the top. When Rich, Rob and I finally bailed out of the Prospect Hill loop at Franke Road, Frank (there's an irony) had already continued up the section that is the analog of the infamous Kain Road, for those of you who know. He would join up with us again on the loop back down.

It is always nice to go out for an easy Tuesday spin with a beginner rider.

You're probably wondering why these people don't have club noms. When I asked (Doctor) Rich he said, "Well they're not really club riders." I assume that's because they disdain contact with flatlanders such as we.

I was so lost on that ride I had to check a map when I got home. I traced the probable route best I could, then showed up at The Bicycle Doctor next day to check with Rich. I showed him the map and said, "I think my problem was that we went back and forth across this relatively empty area here, labeled Shawangunk MOUNTAINS??

"Right," said Rich, "There are two ridges that run down both here."

"How convenient. I guess you use that little ride to sell triple chain rings and 29 tooth cogs," I slyly intoned.

In any case, it turns out this wasn't even the regular Grind ride. It's just one of the alternates they do when attendance is light. If the typical crowd shows up, they avoid confusion by doing the normal route that is, "?a little flatter, but faster."

Oh good. I can't wait.

I've been told by a very strong rider that he was once standing on his big ring and 11 cog, sprinting all out while being dropped on the rising rollers of the regular ride.

Look, I really hate that ride we did. In fact I hate it so much I'm going to have to go back every Tuesday just to make sure I never forget how MUCH I hate it.

But don't take my word for it. To make your own assessment call (Doctor) Rich at The Bicycle Doctor  for directions: 845-344-1414.

You might like to bring along a designated driver for the car ride home.

1. Thanks to R& re: (Crazy) Mike for the "gravity trap" conceit.



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this page last updated:
02/01/2015 10:38:46 PM

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