The ride started off like any other, Paul gliding up and taking the lead, "Troika it is, but to correct you, my friend, Seven Hills is my favorite to point my steed."
Up Thorpe and then Four Lakes, the wind pushed back as hard as the group pushed fore; Two abreast, eight riders in sync, waiting for the turn where the tailwind would help us soar.
But first an echelon of death, each hanging on wondering where our bodies would finally come to rest. Paul's pull, inspired by the cemetery, nearly killed us but finally we had all passed the test.
Relief, finally with the wind behind, but alas it became high-speed rollers one after another. Pressed to the limits, we each rode on, trading leads and tapping reserves, no one wanting to lose the tether.
Finally, into the park and the end was near. A few more small hills and finally relief, but for one the price was simply too dear. The man with a hammer came to collect his due, and suddenly for one the road seem to be covered with glue.
Slower and laboring through the final paces, three comrades carried him as best they could. Pedals moving slower, head hanging down, though moving forward it didn't looking good.
But finally Canon Coffee was in sight. The promise of an affagoto was the only thing to make it seem right. 50-some miles and a frightening pace, eight riders finally finished and only one losing face.
To ride, to climb, to pedal with heart, these are the things that set the cyclist apart. To do so with friends is certainly a privilege, one to enjoy as long as it lasts. For one day we will each finally hang up our cleats and all of this will be in our collective past; but for now let's rest, recover and put aside the woe, for soon it will be time for us to go.