Friday, June 16, 2006

Do the Loco Motion...

Well, my good friend Loco, aka Fred, is moving in a few weeks back to Florida, where he got a promotion with his company. While he has been here he's been in search of a few things, nothing crazy, just a few things he'd like to do or obtain - call them personal quests if you will. Well, the stars must have aligned in his favor this week, because he accomplished two of his goals, both of which have up until this point, proved elusive.

First off, we eat a LOT at one of our favorite local watering holes, Harvest Moon. They have their own twist on french fries, called rojos. They are these little round potato medallions, similar to a potato chip, but thicker. Fred always orders them well done, usually asking the wait staff for "burnt rojos". They rarely ever come out the way he orders them, but it doesn't deter him from trying every time. Well, Monday night, we went for chicken wings, rojos and beer. Fred ordered his rojos extra crispy, as always. They came out not only just light golden in color, they were also cold. This was on top of the very disappointing batch he received Friday night when we ate there - that batch was greasy, undercooked, and looked terrible (I told you we ate there a lot). I took pity on Fred this time around, and told our very pleasant waitress that not only were his rojos cold, they weren't cooked like he asked. She immediately took them back to the kitchen, and came back a short time later with the BEST plate of rojos we have ever received - it was rojo heaven. Congrats to Fred for acheiving rojo bliss, if only once, before you leave town. Way to stay the course and not get discouraged by all the just average batches you went through to get what you ordered.

Secondly, we all ride bikes together. Suzy, Fred and myself try to ride several times a week, weather and schedules permitting. During the week, we typically ride the same route, as it's convenient, and it's just the right length to get done after work and get back before it gets too dark. Well, I gave Fred his nickname Loco in part because of his bike riding. I told him it meant either he was crazy for hanging around with us, or that it was short for locomotive, meaning he almost always is out from "pulling" for the rest of us. Now, being out front in a pace line while riding is hard. You set the pace, but you also are subject to much more resistance from the wind. It is said that if you are drafting someone (technical term for riding very closely behind another rider, taking advantage of them blocking the headwind) you use up to 30% less effort than the rider at the front of the group. We've gotten really spoiled by this. At first I used to feel guilty drafting most of the time, and would come up to the front to give Fred some relief. Well, he'd either just ride beside me, or after a few minutes, pass me and get back on the front. In time, I just came to accept the fact that he liked to be out front. Works for me, as I will take my share of the effort on the front, but I don't really like the extra effort required to stay out there for long periods of time. At the end of our normal route, there is an area that is the final sprint zone. It's right before we turn off the main road into the neighborhoods and do our cooldown ride back home or to the bike shop. Now Fred and I have different riding styles. He's a low rpm kind of guy, pushing a big gear at a slower pace, and I prefer to spin a higher cadence, in a lower gear. Same results, just different riding styles. I am guilty of taking advantage of Fred pulling the majority of the route, and waiting until the end to zip around him and out-sprint him to the line, almost every time we ride. My riding style helps me in this, as it's easier for me to spin up high rpms relatively quickly for short, high effort distances, which is what sprints are. It takes Fred longer to get up to speed, because he uses a bigger gear, at a lower rpm, but at a higher resistance. Well, after getting beat to the sprint line time and time again, Fred started trying to devise a tactic that would let him win a sprint. He would sometimes make me pull on the final stretch, tiring me out some, so I wouldn't be as much of a threat. Most of the time, I still managed to win. Then he started cranking the pace up farther and farther back, making me expend more effort earlier on, in hopes that I would run out of gas on the sprint. These distances keep getting longer and longer, and it really hurts to have to in effect, sprint for twice or three times as far for me. Hey, if he can't beat me, might as well make me suffer for my win, right? Well, his Kosmic Karma (yes, I know that is a pizza name at Mellow Mushroom...) was with him Thursday night. On the final stretch, Fred jumped early and I didn't chase him. Suzy was tired, and was falling off the back of the group, so I came around her and pulled her back up to the pack. One of the other riders went off after Fred, and caught him, so they were riding together a good distance up the road ahead of me. Well, me being the creature of habit that I am, and liking to win the sprint, I set off in pursuit from way back. I was riding as hard as I could, but he did it. His jump from way back was enough for him to beat me to the sprint line. I caught and passed the other person that was in the breakaway and beat him across the line, but I couldn't catch Loco.

So Bravo, Loco. You have achieved two of your personal jihads in one week. Take care and godspeed, we sure are going to miss you around here, man.

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