25 things I love about the bike – #21

Sprints.

They’re everywhere – getting off the interstate, the instinct is to gun it to edge one car closer to home. Grabbing the last copy of a new video at the rental store. Heading back to the beginning as storm clouds linger. Curfew for a 17 year old on a Saturday night.

Sprints are all about a result concentrated into a few, brief, intense seconds. The build up to the the sprint is irrelevant once it begins, and as soon as someone crosses the finish line first, second place becomes irrelevant may as well be last.

Cycling has sprints of all sorts – the catty positioning for a track sprint – riders slowing to a track stand to try to force the other rider into the leading position approaching the line. The Saturday morning club ride sprint to the (county, city, state) line to see who gets free coffee. The commuting sprint to catch a light before it turns yellow. Kids, newly freed from training wheels, sprinting from driveway to driveway pretending to race cars.

But nothing compares to a ProTour group sprint. Nearly 200 riders approaching the end of a day’s racing at speeds over 30 miles per hour, knowing that there’s only a half dozen guys in the bunch with any hope of adding to their palmares. The coordination of the leadout men, reaching way down into oxygen debt to get their guy that much closer to the line. Fans pounding on the barriers, gears clicking, shoulders rubbing – wow.

Regardless, it’s there inside all of us. The pressure to eke out one last bit of performance when we think we’re tapped out. We’ve all got it – a last reserve, another punch, another turn of the cranks.

The sprint is about figuring out who can grab it when it counts.

Do you have it? Right now?

If so, BRING IT.

‘Cause it won’t matter in five minutes.

5 thoughts on “25 things I love about the bike – #21

  1. Quick story here that didn’t quite fit with the narrative:

    One of my riding buddies in Houston was an old frat brother, Troll. He, like me, was a little bit more fond of beer and good food than fitness. We dug the riding, and were hackers, but both carried a little bit of a belly.

    In any case, one of the recurring themes of our rides would be my suffering for most of the ride and the Troll pulling my butt along at the outside range of my tolerance for pain. Then, as we would approach an agreed area near the finish, I’d dig down, bury my pain, and give everything I had to try to squeak around the Troll.

    Usually it didn’t work

    But it was fun.

  2. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME edit.

    yeah, mcewen, point at yourself as you cross the finish, we all know you won. we get it.

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