When I was a kid playing baseball, I’d fantasize that I was in the big moment, with a roaring crowd looking on, even if the reality was my back yard, with the short right field “fence” of forsythia bushes.  In my mind it was Fenway Park, ninth inning, two out, a runner on second (perhaps Ted Williams, who had just hit a double), and two strikes.  “Bradford at the plate.  The crowd roars.  One on, two strikes, two out.  Sox down by one.  Here’s the pitch . . . it’s a long drive to deep right field!  That ball won’t be caught!  It’s gone!  The Boston Red Sox win another one against the Yankees!”  Unlike Ted, I always tipped my cap to the crowd.

On today’s bike ride I was heading west on a chilly, breezy Saturday.  On the long uphill stretch of the W&OD between Hunter Mill Road and Michael Faraday Drive (just east of Wiehle Ave.) I found myself overtaking rider after rider, mostly weekenders who hadn’t touched their bikes since last October from the look of it, and the following dialogue started running through my head, off and on for the rest of the ride.  It sounded a lot like Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen as they narrated past Tours de France:

Phil:  Now Bradford’s picking off the remnants of the early break one by one.
Paul:  Just maintaining that steady pace, tapping out that high cadence.
Phil:  He’s on a mission today, Paul, and the remaining leaders of the breakaway group are just ahead.
Paul:  One of his chief rivals has just had a mechanical problem.  It looks like a ringing cell phone.   Yes, she’s had to pull off to the side of the road to answer it.
Phil:  Well, that is bad luck.  You can tell she’s a dangerous rider, fit and doesn’t look a day over fifty.
Paul:  Bradford can’t wait for her; he’s riding on with power and determination.
Phil:  And now he’s past the lead group, and he isn’t even attacking!  He just upped the pace a little, and he’s riding the best climbers in the world off his wheel here on L’Alpe d’Reston!
Paul: Bradford’s secret, Phil, is his recovery from that severe bout of the flu he had last week.  For a day and a half he emptied his body of every bit of solid and liquid waste.  And now he has just the same power as before, but he weighs less.
Phil:  Yes, and he’s been taking those multi-colored energy pills too.
Paul:  I understand they’re Easter Jelly Beans, Phil.
Phil:  Indeed!  He utilizes seasonally available nutrients in his special training program?  Well, if he takes this climb, does a good job on the intermediate sprint, and finishes strong on Academy Street, what can he do but win the day?
. . . .
Paul:  The Intermediate Sprint at Eldon Street is just ahead.
Phil:  And there’s not a second to spare!  It’s going to be desperately close!  The time is counting down . . . nine . . . eight . . . seven . . . six . . . five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . ze—and he made it!  He crossed the line just as the Red Hand came up.
Paul:  He’s just unbeatable!
. . . .
Paul:  Bradford’s hammering down Jackson Parkway.  He drops a couple of gears and take the sharp right-hander onto Academy!  He’s out of the saddle!
Phil:  And Bradford’s roaring up the finishing straight like a Jaguar XK-120 Roadster, or at least like Thomas the Tank Engine.
Paul:  He’s a Very Useful Cyclist, Phil.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2013.

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