Friday, August 16, 2013

Sailing lessons

On the first morning of Super Brevet Scandinavia the mood should be overflowing with optimism, energy, even bravado. We do have those things. Hey, ordinarily I would not think of hanging onto a small pack at 34 kph. No idea how fast that is but it's hard to focus on anything but the wheel of the next rider.

The sky is full of low grey clouds, probably the same clouds that left rain all over the road during the night. The air is not neutral; it's blustering in our faces and from the right, probably 12-15 mph. There will be plenty of time to convert to kilometers. For a hundred miles to Aarhus we are going to fight it.

When you drop off the back, weary from ducking the tire spray and staggering against the crosswind, its force is unmistakeable. Strong, almost laughable.

What do you see all over Denmark? Well, sailboats in the harbor, like at Saeby. Windmills on a hill way over there, the hill between us and the ferry at Aarhus. The massive blades are spinning. They do not stop spinning.

Riding a bicycle along the east coast of Jutland is not cycling at all, it's sailing. Working the whole system. Gauging the angle of bodies and bicycles and wind. Constantly making small adjustments. Pushing and hoping for progress. This morning there will be no leveraging the wind but with luck we'll survive. Word is that after the ferry the wind will be more at our backs.

We're working together, first the fast pack, then just me and a rider from Japan, then the huge green group from Edense to Mariager. Finally, me and two Danes to the second control at Aarhus. In rolling farmland, taking the full brunt.
Imagine this rider trying to draft off me...

Not possible to talk much. Instead there is mental math; distance to Aarhus versus time remaining to the first ferry. By definition this makes us wild optimists. At one point I ask "is the ferry ever late"? Neither Dane says a thing. A half hour later one of them says "back off, we've missed the ferry" and so we do, gladly. My jersey is soaked with sweat.

At 12:45 the huge cranes of the port come into view. We'll take in calories and cool down for an hour, waiting for the second ferry. You can't even feel the big diesel engines start up.

This may not be the most efficient way to ride a brevet but I refuse to feel guilty. It's good to sit down and eat meatballs and rest.
Leaving the big ferry at Sjaellands-Odde

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