Thursday, September 21, 2006

Friday morning is the morning for the "Gentleman's Ride". A bunch of older ex-racers meets on the Greenway for a thirty mile easy pace spin on bike trails, greenways, and LRT walkways. Lately, a couple of the active racers from the Flanders Brothers Cycle "A" team have been on the ride. One of these guys is Scott Flanders, who at age 48 won the Senior category of the 2005 Minnesota State Championship Road Race. I reckon some folks would immediately think that the level of competition is low if an old guy like Scott could win against all comers 18 years and older. I don't think so. Scott has won hundreds (yes, hundreds) of road and criterium races over the years. He is seriously fit and may actually have more experience racing than the rest of the racers combined. In his youth he rode for the national team in races in South America. It is an honor to ride with him and needless to say he regards the Friday morning ride as a rest and recovery ride. I had seen him very early one Saturday morning a couple of weeks before going the opposite direction than I on the Greenway. When he was on the Friday ride I asked him about that because it was an unlikely place for me to have seen him. He said that he rode solo to Duluth that day and he had maintained an average ride speed of 21.5 mph. Duluth is 150 miles from where I saw him. He said he felt really good that day and he thought it was a good effort for him. I remembered that he had won a state border to border race one year (in the mid-1980's) where he rode solo for exactly two hundred miles and finished in eight hours flat. Of course, that day he had a prevailing tail wind so it was easier. Still, I have ridden centuries with these guys in the past. Riding a hundred miles is hard, even with a group to help pace and shelter you. On days like that I carefully planned how I was going to do nothing for the remainder of the day except lie about whimpering and sipping cool drinks. It boggles my little mind to think about doing some of the rides Scott does on a regular basis. Scott's older brother Jim is the ride leader for the Friday ride. Jim is also a former State Road Champ and winner of LOTS of races and a former US national team member. I met Jim and Scott in 1980 and I have always cherished their friendship and I feel pretty lucky to learn from them and to spend time riding with them.