Last year, on the fourth day of DALMAC, I hit a monster pothole and broke the bottle cage that was holding a tool keg on a saddle mount. I needed a new cage so I could carry my tools and thankfully the first stop of the day was at a bike shop in Harbor Springs… Unfortunately, with all of the activity, it took them quite a few minutes to mount a new one on the seat tube and then mount the one on the seat tube on the saddle mount. The group I was with headed up the road but my two best friends, Mike and Phill, hung back to pull me back to the group. They worked their asses off to get me to the next stop in enough time I could fire down a quick burger before we headed out for the final 25 miles.
I don’t know as I’ll ever forget that.
This year Phill was struggling to hold on with the group after the bike shop stop (no potholes or busted cages this year!). There are some gnarly hills coming out of Harbor Springs and Phill was losing contact on every one. I, on the other hand, was feeling quite lively. I could have, had I felt like it, been among the first three guys up every hill and I was working back and forth in the group to take photos and fill gaps for guys. The group waited for Phill twice, but after the third time he dropped on a hill, they kept rolling.
Entering the tunnel of trees at the start of 119, I held back and waited for my friend to catch up. I pulled for him the entire 8 miles up to the next stop and even caught a few other stragglers from the group who hopped on. I even managed to snap a few photos along the way…
At some point, Phill said that I didn’t have to wait, that he’d make it eventually. I replied, “I seem to remember a friend of mine doing this exact same thing for me last year.” I can’t describe the feeling of usefulness and good that comes with helping a friend like that, hopefully that comes through in the recounting of the day.
We made excellent time and had plenty left to scarf down some good food. In Good Hart, MI of all places.
Now this is one of very few times you’ll ever see me admit this flat out on this blog, and I only offer this to emphasize its importance…
Several people who have commented on some of my posts lately have noticed that, to me, cycling is much more than just riding a bicycle. Cycling is about friends and family sharing a wonderful experience and staying fit together. My cycling friends are just as important to me as my AA friends.
If I don’t have my cycling friends, included in that group are my wife and daughters, cycling would be diminished to a workout, a trip to the gym. Cycling is vastly more than just a way to build muscle and health. Cycling is belonging to a great family, the vast majority of which are exceptional people.
After we hit the finish line yesterday and were headed to the showers, my friend found me, came over, and thanked me for sticking with him.
I offered that it was my pleasure and thanked him for letting me return the favor. He would have had to knock me off my bike to get me to leave him.
That’s just how we roll.
Love this post Jim. As one who often requires the support of others when cycling, I can tell you the gift of sticking with someone who is struggling is immeasurable.
This I definitely know! Thanks Sue.
Great post. I totally understand. I feel that way about my running friends. They are the only ones who get that big and weird part of my life. I love these pics. I’ve been reading a lot about that stretch in Harbor Springs. Now that we live near there we need to make a fall trek.
You absolutely do! Start at the bike shop, or the main drag in the photo along the water, and follow the D’s and the arrows. It’ll take you straight to 119.