In the slipstream of superstars

Happy Victoria Day! The first of the Suburu series races got underway today with the Victoria’s Duathlon in Waterloo and a great race by Jenn Eberman in 3rd place! While I didn’t race this weekend I did get in an amazing 5 hour ride on Saturday. We were joined by the remarkably fast duo Darko Ficko and Merrill Collins who took the pace to that place where your legs start to shake. I love those 2–they are not only outstanding athletes, but beautiful people and genuine, passionate advocates for the sport. As an endurance competitor, I’m not in a whole lot of drafting scenarios so am, admittedly, not the most comfortable sitting super tight on someone’s wheel. However, Darko has made it a project of his to get me over that…on the last few rides with us, Darko has taken to pulling me out of the pack and up to the front as he proceeds to ride a his “comfy” 49km/hour…ok, even on his wheel like glue, that’s HARD…and so I fall off, quads shaking, lungs pounding and LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!! But of course, fall off and you fall right out the back door–never fun. But Darko’s determined in his project (me), and I’m enormously grateful even if, when he taps his butt–the sign for me to stick tight on his wheel–and says “Suzy–get up here”, I get mildly terrified. That though, is the kind of fear we as athletes love. In fact, at somewhere around 4 hours, Eric (who, poor thing, had been sick all week so was bonking), said, “If we were normal people, we’d be sitting on a patio having brunch” but we aren’t “normal” because none of us–not even Eric as he was bonking, would have given up that ride for eggs over easy and a Bloody Ceasar. There’s somewhere we go when we’re out there riding hard–somewhere that seems interdimensional…where we are kind of present but not–kind of in the future and the past, wherein our thoughts are on solving the problems of our everyday even as we are alert to avoiding the glass on the road ahead, kind of resentful but thrilled, kind of tired but invigorated, kind of hot, kind of cold, kind of wishing we were done, but never even dreaming of cutting it short…kind of alone but exceedingly together. On Saturday I felt so privileged that both Darko and Merrill were teaching me, lending me their slipstream (for as long as I could ride it) and doing so so freely, offering up their years of knowledge and experience with generosity and enthusiasm. I confess though, I did sigh a tiny little sigh of relief when they had to turn off early to get to work… and the pace came down a touch:)

And, because he’s so patient and his helpfulness suggests a belief in me, I’m determined to master Darko’s wheel (even if only in increments), AND learn to LOVE riding in a pack.



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