the human baton

April 2, 2007 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Cycling | 11 Comments

the continuum of wisdom flows from elders to youth…and when youth become elders the baton pass continues… never has this reigned so true for me as in yesterday’s ride to new jersey. a brand new member of the major taylor iron rider crew with prideful energy coursing through my arteries, the chorus of tupac’s classic –ambitionz az a ridah” – became my theme music; in my head steadily on repeat…

“i won’t deny it/ i’m a straight rider/ you don’t want to mess with me…” (radio version)

what began as a casual 20 mi ride to northvale (multi-tiered for riding level) became a grueling journey defining character, humility, brotherhood, snotty noses, teary eyes and achy (pride) muscles.

needless to say, i made it back alive and safe. normally i would take the 17 mi ride up to the george washington bridge and then head back to bklyn [reason: fitness level; the cold air ripping through my non-cycling gear], but this day i saw the “jersey side” of the “g-dubbs” and rode with the crew. i promised myself every ride i would do a little bit more, unbeknownst to me that i was in for it. after it was all over, this ironrider had to take the iron horse (the “a” train) back home, licking my wounds all the way. my fellow -more seasoned – ironriders held me down. mad love and respect yall. see you on the wednesday night ride in the park. my pride should be nursed back to health by then. but for now here’s the play by play…

8:17 am: riding a little late, i caught up to the ironriders as they made an unprecedented turn off flatbush to bergen. normally (as in all 2 rides i’ve experienced) we ride out to livingston and then turn. i wouldn’t even had known about this had i not been so close behind. they left out from propsect park @ 8:15 AM.

8:50 am: “seat ride low, ride low”. greg noticed that my cadence is restricted because my bike seat is too low. “for every rotation we make, you take 3 because your knee is not stretching out to give you enough power”. at the next stop they readjusted my seat 3/4″. felt the difference immediately and i was faster. “…i won’t deny it….”

9:25 am: i beat the hill. there’s this crazy hill on 165th st. (right off of the harlem river drive) – murderation on me everytime. i die a thousands deaths on it – but not today. the kid attacked it made it up (not without oxygen debt) but i hung with the pack.

9:29 am: gw brigde. in past rides to piermont (cue sheet), this is were i part ways with the crew. from propsect park to the george washington bridge is about17 mi. with cold weather, inadequent cycling experience and -did i say COLD weather – i turn back around. however, i make it a point to go a little further each time. last time i rode across the bridge and came back, whereas, the prior ride i just stopped at the bridge. but today, i ate my oatmeal and fuji apples for breakfast, not to mention my new cannondale l.e. bib tights (ah! thank goodness for chamois) were holding me down. “oh! so, this is what the other side of the bridge looks like?”

9:58 am: we met up with the jersey & bronx siblings of the major taylor cycling enthusiasts. we were officially 20 bikes deep, i felt like i was in a machine double laned formation up route 505. the feeling was invigorating…and i was keeping up.

10:40 am: “the ‘illest’ downhill i’ve ever seen”. we were taking the back roads (to our demise) throught streets lined with mansions, lawns so green and large it could support livestock…by the way i could have sworn i saw sheep grazing! anyway, we were flying ~40 mi/hr down this hill. flying past cars until one silly motorist decided we were having too much fun and tried to edge us off. a fellow rider fell of the bike, another shimmied – front and back tires , and me, i was going a little too fast for brakes to work they way i needed. i swung/skidded out into the on-coming traffic lane -thankfully w/out the on-coming traffic and floated the momentum out. besides a little tear in the mtir unifrom shorts, a handle bar that needed a little adjustment – everybody was fine.

11:30 am where are we?

11:50am ok, where the hell are we? turns out the scenic route was new, lovely and all that good stuff, but nothing beats a working “human” gps. we were following the cue sheet, but mixed the going and coming directions at the same time. no wonder we never found livingston. we were in nj but some how ended up in new york again…we passed river vale, a county called bergen. man. mind you, not since my solo adventure mission from poughkeepsie to peg leg bates in kerhonsonk last june had i ridden this long without a recoop. i was setting up to hit a serious wall. cycling is nothing like running, boy!

11:52 am: lets go back: we were at least 6 miles past our planned rest stop, the northvale diner, and the diretions from locals were as cryptic as greek spoken in a bajan accent. the decision was made to go home. find 9w, straightforward route that will lead us back to gw bridge 20 miles away. man, i gotta pee!

12:07 pm: i gotta piss like a race horse! the healthy fear of police encounters tend to expand exponentially while driving on the highway, but what about when cycling on the highway and stopping because you simply MUST relieve yourself? well, nature called and i and a few other answered. i understand now that the bib tights could be a challenged when its time to take a leak, but i managed.

12:10pm: refreshed with my tasty hazlenut & choclate and spirulina & cashew raw revolution bars; a few swigs of my miracle reds powder mixed in some pomergranate juice and water drink, i was ready to roll. but that was easier thought than done…

12:12pm: the pushing begins. my leg muscles are like, “what are we doing”? i could no longer keep up with the pack. these seasoned cats were moving at the normal pace and so far behind was i that down hills didn’t even help to bring me closer to them. gregory came back to give me emotional inspiration which progressed impromptu resistance training for him. while riding, he would push me uphill with his right hand. this went on until down hill. finally catching up to the (awaiting) pack he encouraged me to keep with my momentum because they would definitely catch up.

12:17pm: finally a rest stop. i grabs two bagels one for now and one for later. the new recoop spot was a corner deli about 15 mi out from the bridge. back in jersey and close to the palisades pkwy reference, my anxiety to get back to the 168 st. a line is rising.

12:30pm: state line hill. who the %&*$ engineered this hill. greg’s last bit of inspiration for this side of 9w ended with , “when we get to state line hill youre on your own”. and i understand why. one of rockland county’s shortest cycling route hills , but after riding all morning you need to dig deep to get up this half mile 167 ft rise. not

12: 43 pm: of course i’m rolling dolo right now. as hard as i was peddling, i felt like i was rolling backwards. i had to get off the bike a walk up a little. not a good feeling. when my legs felt up to it, i began riding and no sooner than 2 mi i see van come back for me so that i could ride in his slip stream to catch up to the pack.

1:15pm the burn. this hurts man. the almighty cycling burn, steadily taking over ever fast-twitch muscle in my legs. even in the slip stream with a hand in my back. i don’t feel like have anything left. they only reason why i have balance atop my bike is probably do to the exchange of helping hand pushing me forward. im throughlty embarassed and glad at the sametime. if these cats had left me – i would be out here ALL DAY and its gettting cololer by the minute.

1:30 pm: how am i even still alive.



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  1. Hey Maurice,
    What a great summation of the ride and your experiences. As I said in my notes from the ride. you are just beginning to develop your riding skills. Many of the Brothers that you were riding with have been riding for over 20 years! We have all had to pass through the same “Valley of the Death” as you had and we have done it many times. Serious cycling can be one of the most demanding sports out there. But it can also be so richly rewarding. You can tell by looking at the physiques and dispositions of the riders who are old enough to be your father. Our club elders are looking forward to passing the baton on to the next generation of riders. Even thought we had a good laugh at your trying day, we are that much more excited about bringing you into the family.
    Stay Strong
    President Major Taylor Iron Riders

  2. What a great initation into a community! I am inspired.

  3. Damn man…. i felt like I was there with you. Very interesting!

    I almost… for a few seconds… started to consider getting a bike….then 10:40… almost got hit by a car!!! I’ll stick to the treadmill.

  4. Welcome aboard Maurice! You rode well. Keep putting in your road work we all went through it.

    See you on the next ride.

    Be well,

  5. Engaging read! I know your tenacious spirit and I know you’ll perservere! Hearing about the elders in the crew makes me want to join…almost :-). Keep the words flowing on the blog.
    Blessings bro,

    as always,

  6. maruice maurice you are a true athlete: body mind and spirit. i always knew it especially when we went to the park and the next thing we knew you were in the tree looking beyond the forest of life. vision, my son. vision is the breakthrough for all accomplishments. i am forever proud of you inside and outside. it is not about being special, its the free spirit to let your spirit be free and open to freedom. i could imagine the snot running from your nose just as i remember you letting the snot run down your nose while looking out of the car window so that everyone could see and that was fun to you so just as biking is also fun the same snot returned to greet the onlookers smile. just keep on blogging .you are a true messenger and your sister is close behind. soon the messages will be collective and delivered in sequence ………………………..! reach for the baton and make it soar through the universe with. -unconditional love and respect mommy!

  7. Wow! What an amazing experience. I almost felt as if I was there. Very Inspiring! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  8. You did well keep on training; you will see and feel the difference.

  9. my body is aching just from reading about that 5 hour ride. proud to know you ’cause you’re definitely a solidier to have endured such a journey.

  10. Man
    Maurice its been a while since I checked in on the blog, but this was truly satisfying. Your gift for story telling is finely honed, I am inspired to maybe try to ride my little dusty bike one day, and gain some stories for myself.
    Take care and ride on!

  11. thanks all for coming through and showing the blog some love. i keep you up to date to my exepriences out there on the road. all of these hard work should pay off, but not without a few laughs first…

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