posted by millie milton (THE mom)
I think it’s about the fashion statement. Why else would a 15 year old adolescent girl want to peel herself out of a nice cozy bed on a chilly, dark late-November morning and ride a bike around for an hour or so? ESPECIALLY if that means hanging around with her MOTHER all day? That quite possibly might not be cool, righteously bordering on UNcool. Race mornings at the Miltons can be dicey. It has taken us nothing short of months to work out most of the kinks and we still manage to bumble around a lot. Our clothes get mixed up (?she’s a bean, I am not.. how does that happen?). I can’t find my: ( fill- in-the-blank ) , and she has no clean under layers. She takes mine. Equipment gets switched around (mines’ better and she wants it??), registration numbers get goofed but I don’t always mind that- better for me!..)
The night before, Anna has packed food. She is better at that stuff than I. Her breakfast is fresh fruit and oatmeal. I am eyeing the double glazed cider doughnuts. She directly mentions what I also know—they’re not good race food. I concede to a dry bagel with peanut butter. What I really want to say is “you’re not the boss of me” but—I can’t– that would be very immature of me.
I pull rank with the radio on the way to the race. She likes hip-hop/rap something or other…Lil” Cudi Whiz Kid Blah, Blah Hot Chilly Pain Cruz whatever. I DO NOT–my radio, I win. This morning it’s a medley of ramped up remixes/covers classic vintage tunes. Try a few of these to get your heart rate going: Alien Ant Farm-Smooth Criminal, Blue Man Group version of Go Ask Alice, Or BAMA Boys take on Sweet Home Alabama
I catch her singing right along, with feeling.
As always, the goal is to get to the race 2 hours before launch time. That seems more than ample time to register, -pre-ride, chit-chat and warm –up. Somehow it never is. Between the parking, unloading, gearing up and pre-ride review we manage to fritter away an hour+. I want to take a look at a few lines again, we talk through different parts of the course and “strategize”. That means I say out loud what I wish I could do and she should do it. Sounds simple enough.
The course is gong to be fast today. It’s warm and dry for the first time in years. My long-neglected bike has been recently refitted by none other than Sara Bresnick of Pedal Power and overhauled/tuned-up by our new best friend magician/mechanic Oscar Jimenez of ROTI Custom Cycling Services. It is handling like a dream. Anything that does not go well during the ride will clearly be operator error. On this course there is nothing too technical or scary. Not one thing I can conjure up to worry about for Anna. She’s good, strong but has not had a lot of technical experience. The flyover atGloucester made me a little nutty on that front. We get a full lap in and my pre-ride comes to an abrupffffft end on the pavement section. That rear wheel that has been resuscitated a couple of times is now unquestionably dead, in a tubular way. Oscar sets me up with a substitute wheel while we warm up. It’s 8:45– T minus 45 minutes and we’ve got Rebecca Wolski(LadiesFirst team mate), Carrie Mosher(CycleLoft) and Anna all spinning at the tent. They are animated and talking music, not MY kind of music. Anna is allover this. And that yellow and black LadiesfFirst kit ensemble is quite fetching on her. She’ll be oh-so- thrilled when she realizes that, coincidentally, we have the exact same yellow and black checkered socks on. We’ve been mistaken by the judges on occasion and she’s usually not to happy to hear about her “sister” who is also racing.
At staging, the call up of “Milton” for a third row start has me dreaming. “Which one?”, I ask (meekly)… “ANNA” I’m assured in a manner of tone that leaves no room for confusion neither now nor ever in the future.
Oh well, I tried. “Good luck,honey-be safe-ride smart!” are the words she gets from me as she rolls off to her spot.
The start line antics are always a bit unnerving for me. Every collision has me looking for a mix up of black and yellow. This race has two crashes in the first few minutes. One right out of the gate and the second at the first twisty chicane set. No black/yellow down and I manage stay clear of both events. I get glimpses of Anna as the course folds around on itself and greatly appreciated updates from several knowing spectators. In the meantime I focus back on my “racing”, I ride with the cool kids at the back of the bus. For some reason, on the second lap I got the urge to do a little landscaping/course revision/redesign and tried to move the chain link back stop fencing by the ball field. It was frighteningly unsuccessful. Despite repeated,multiple,involuntary contact attempts along the entire blessed 45 feet of it…It DID.NOT.BUDGE. Maybe some Cat equipment could work with it next time. I’ve loosened it up for them. Wobbling perfectly forward, still upright, bike working, body parts accounted for and nothing leaking anywhere, I’m good to go. Some pedaling effort and ringing cowbells (in my head?) had me back with my racing people. I hunkered in behind Peggy Gioso and Carrie Mosher. How was Anna doing? I really hope she’s having as much fun as painfully possible. I AM. I cannot think of any other activity where I can make a complete fool of myself and have such great/so much company!
Lap 3 (of 4) has me talking out loud, to God, whomever. I’m apologizing for things I have not done, yet. The steep RUN up is now a TOTTER up. There is a significant amount of coercion that goes into delivering a not-25-year-old body across a not-close-enough finish line at this point. The long dreaded feeling of UNfun has shown up at my door and plans to stay for a bit. Still hanging with Peggy and Carrie, the 3 of us rotate leads. Halfway through the last lap we pass closely by the finish area and I tune in to listen for any announcement on Anna. She’s ahead by a good half lap, solidly battling it out with 4 or 5 others throughout the race, and it’s coming down to full sprint finish. A thin, fuzzy line of black and yellow streaks by. “C’MON ANNA, YOU GO GIRL!!” I know she hears me despite the prevailing adolescent claim not to. She is done, and not soon enough I will be. Peggy rides hard and solid, Carrie challenges me to keep up and I try to stay focused and upright. We finish within seconds of each other and I couldn’t ever feel better than at that particular moment when I see the blurry white line pass between my wheels.
What are my goals for each race? Have fun, ride hard, don’t crash, don’t cry,and don’t EVER quit . 4 out 5 this time— I’ve left some wiggle room, the size of a gymnasium, for improvement.
So for Anna, is it the fashion? The Music gab-fest with more cool company than myself? or could it just be that there’s a rather large population of BOYS at these races?..she IS a teenager, after all!
Fyi—I opted out of the sunday race… my short lived landscaping career left me with a thumb/wrist thingie the size and color of a small eggplant…. I JUST LOVE CROSS