For the last couple of weeks, I have been riding with 75-year-old Bryant McKinley. Bryant was a bicycle racer, bike shop owner, European sports car and classic motorcycle aficionado.Subsequently, we have a lot to talk about. He is a funny guy, that is, if you listen closely. Subtle and dry is the humor he employs. We talk a lot while we ride. I can never drop him despite the 25 years he has on me. No matter what, he is right behind me.
In the late ‘70’s Bryant was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retinitis_pigmentosa RP is a degenerative eye disorder that slowly takes the vision of those affected. Bryant has not let this slow him down. A couple of times a week he runs the stairs – all 20 flights- in the Bank of America Bldg downtown. He also runs the Centennial Trail. Whenever he can get a captain, he will ride one of his three tandems.
Bryant put the word out that he was looking for someone to not only ride with, but to help him achieve his goal of getting to the Master’s Nationals road race this September in Bend, OR. I thought, 'too bad I am not in race shape so that I could help him'… Yeah, too bad. He called me up and suggested that we ride together to achieve his goal. I asked a lot of question about the workout plan we would do, financial obligations I would encounter, total tedium, etc., - basically I was looking for a way out. I had ALL of my concerns assuaged so that tactic didn’t work. Then my wife Tess was behind me saying “Do it!” as was my boss. How could I say "no" now?
Bryant and I first rode together 3 Mondays ago. It was a shaky ride. I don’t think that I have been on a tandem in 25 years. Apparently, he had faith that my tandem skills would re-emerge!
Many challenges till await: Getting used to pulling my right foot out at red lights, getting a pile of base miles, going from <60 miles a week to 250 to name a few. But I chose to take on these challenges head on and full steam. I told myself that if I am going to do this I am committed to complete it. Every spare moment is spent training or recovering. I had forgotten how tired I can be.
Well now the honeymoon is over, a couple hundred base miles behind us, nothing but intervals and hill repeats to occupy our “short days”ahead. Our once a week “Long Slow Days” involve 60~100 miles at a moderate pace.
This installment was a bit lengthy due to the background needed - we will keep you posted – in shorter segments a we get closer to the race.
Tomás Kelley Lynch