Thursday, June 9, 2011
Chuck Drops Me, MABRA, World
Last night I had one last chance to hang in a break with Chuck Hutcheson. It was only Greenbelt, and there were only 27 of us, but those kinds of details have never mattered to Chuck, who attacks noon rides like Jens at le Tour. And they don't matter to me. A win is a win, and a not-droppage by Chuck is a not-droppage by Chuck. No Spinnervals DVDs were on the line, but it's still important.
I hadn't seen him in a while when, two weeks ago, he showed up at a Tuesday goon. Within five minutes, I was in a break with him, killing it. He broke away from us by riding the wrong way, directly into traffic, up the narrowest, most serpentine part of Beach Drive. Of course, only a lone delusional idiot tried to follow him; the rest of us understand the concept of oncoming traffic.
When we caught him, only three of us hung, and then I was dropped. The group caught Chuck, but then he attacked again and dropped us again.
And this was OK, because it has taken me a while just to get to the point where I can be dropped by Chuck.
To be dropped, you first have to hang, and three year ago when I first started riding a bike, I couldn't hang. Chuck would simply leave, and I would be there in my sleeveless tri-jersey.
For instance, the first time I raced against him, two years ago at Fort Ritchie, he lapped my field. I pulled over before that happened; I wasn't even dropped.
Last Fall, I could finally hang on his wheel for brief spells. This Winter, there were dozens of Saturday 7am and 10am rides where I hung with him until Brickyard, and then he inevitably dropped me.
I hung for 10 miles with Chuck and Rugg before they dropped me at the first Battle of Bull Run.
Chuck dropped me seven times in a row on a ride at Haymarket's camp. I'd catch him, he'd look back, then jump, I'd grind it out and catch, and he'd wait for me, then jump again. I think he was trying to make me stronger, but I suppose he has a little ticker in his head that dispenses dopamine every time he drops someone. Or maybe the refrain from It's a Wonderful Lifeexplains it: every time Chuck drops someone, an angel gets its wings.
I never found it anything but inspiring. I can't think of a reason, other than jealousy, maybe, to dislike Chuck.
There are a lot of great riders in MABRA, strong guys with ridiculous power, but Chuck's the best bike racer we've had for the past few years. Winning the BAR for the last few years is just evidence of that.
That doesn't mean getting dropped by him doesn't get old; I want nothing more than to at least refuse his droppage, if not drop his old ass.
Last night was my last chance, since Chuck's done with his stint in the Army and is leaving DC.
A break of six went in the early laps. I didn't think much of it, since Chuck wasn't in it. But then he went, so after maneuvering to the front, I bridged up.
The break whittled down to four. Then just Chuck and me.
"I won't attack you," he said. "Just sit in."
I hung on for a few laps and tried to take a few pulls. Every time we hit the incline, though, he stood, and I was at my limit. And there were still ten laps to go.
We came up on the back of the B race, just Chuck and me, and I knew it was over for me when he stood. There was no one behind us as far as I could see, and I knew I had a certain second place if I could just hold his wheel on that damn climb.
But I lost the wheel, and Chuck looked back as he passed the Bs, as if to say, "What would you have done with yourself if you'd ever managed to hang on my wheel?"
In the end, you dropped us all. Yeah, it pissed us off, but it also made us stronger, and we wish you many more years of it. Thanks for being a part of MABRA, and, even more, for serving our country.