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Diary Of A Wheelsucker I
by Dave Teall

Findlay, Ohio, Hancock Horizontal Hundred, September 1975: Eager to collect another LAW Century patch, I took the early bird start. About fifteen miles into it I heard an "on your left!" Looking down at my front wheel, I jerked my Schwinn Superior over to the curb just as a train of twelve roared by. Wow! Later in the ride, I tried hanging with other fast riders as they caught up with me. I told one such about my encounter with the train. "Racers," he explained. "In a peloton." "You mean there's racing 'round here?" I asked incredulously. "They travel: Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Dayton, Windsor..."

And I do day trips for these cloth patches. "They're all licensed racers. "License. I gotta get me a license.

Monroe County Michigan, November 1975: At a chance encounter on Whiteford Center Road, I met up with a licensed racing cyclist, Dave Skiver. He arranged some training rides on which he vowed to teach me the basics, including art of riding in a slipstream. Can't wait.

Fallen Timbers Monum
ent, March 1976: The mentor, satisfied with his protégé , brought me to a weekend ride organized by a handful of students, hippies, and middle-aged professionals who called themselves the Maumee Valley Wheelmen. I draw the following critique from these Wheelmen: you ride too close, hold a straight line; you're gonna take us all down, back off to a foot to a foot-and-a- half. I worked hard to improve my line, getting positioning tips from Mark Tyson. The wheel distance, I compromised, six to eight inches.

Stitt Road Race Course, April 1976:
Racing at last! Well, MVW club racing. Major crosswind on the long backstretch. It came down to Dauer, Skiver, Tyson, Shyrock, and me. We staggered our formation into the crosswind, front wheel to rear wheel. They called it an echelon. I stuck my front spokes into Gary Dauer's Campagnolo Record rear derailleur. Burrrrrret! A little string music, Gary. No? ...No, Sorry Mister Dauer. I know, a foot and a half distance.

Columbus Ohio, May 1977:
Heard some rumblings about Ted Waterbury riding unregistered in the cat 3&4 road race. He just wanted to sit in for a couple of laps and loosen up for the 1&2 crit the following day. Ted Waterbury, National B Team, Colorado Springs camper, sat in the middle of the 24-mph-pack spinning his smallest gear, a 42 X 19, I think. After he'd gotten bored with making his legs disappear in a 140-plus-rpm blur, he geared up for a little fun. As it turned out, we were all in for a treat, an incredible display of bike handling skill. Waterbury got behind the District Rep., Chuck Winkleman. Ted overlapped Chuck, slightly. Then he did the unimaginable. He leaned over and steered his front wheel into Chuck's rear wheel. Like a blacksmith grinding an edge on a scythe, he steered back and forth, on and then off of Chuck's tire. He kept at it; Chuck finally told him to knock it off. Ted made one final pass at his grinding wheel and moved on. What a show! How close is too close? I guess that that answers my question.

Dearborn Michigan, August 1977:
My breakthrough victory. I finally listen to Tyson's advice, sit in near the front, and win the cat 4 race at the Fuji W.E. Given's Criterium. It was easy. The only work I did was to maintain position here and there and sprinting at the end. Now I know how to race.

Bancroft and Talmadge, September 1977
: Today I waited at the traffic light with Super Commuter. A Polo shirt covered his paunch. He wore cargo shorts, knee socks, a pair of Beta Bikers, a white Bell helmet, and a mirror mounted on his eye glasses. I had passed this guy a few times on my ride to work. Today we said hi and exchanged nice bikes. His was a Raleigh Touring: triple crankset with a wide- range freewheel; front and rear panniers loaded to the max; Dia-Compe cantilevers; fenders; reflectors everywhere; oversized foam handlebar grips with a clip-mount can of Halt on one side of the stem and a mechanical bell on the other. Sure, he's saving gas; President Carter would be proud. But is this really cycling? I did a time trial start off the light and rode to work as fast as I could.

Fort Meigs, July 1979:
The final race of the MVW-sponsored USCF time trial series was a major disappointment. In the race of truth, the stop watch doesn't lie. So how can all these guys I dust off so easily in the mass-start races beat me so soundly in time trials? All of my specialized training, the track tires and 28-spoke wheels, didn't help. I'll continue to work on this weakness of mine--in training. In races, I'll concentrate on my strength.

Michigan International Speedway, July 1988:
Rosie finally got me up here. We stood next to the wheel fence in turn four and I saw The King go by. I can't believe I used to think that road course was real auto racing and that NASCAR wasn't. Number 43, Richard Petty, 51 years old, broke most every bone in his body, but sans doute, from what I saw today, he is the greatest pure racer--in any sport--I'll ever see. He didn't finish the race, but when he was out there did he ride the draft. Rosie's a Darrell Waltrip fan. The Tide Ride--what a joke! He was either out front by himself or in the middle by himself, always leaving enough room for an 18-wheeler to slip in front. Not Richard Petty. Not The King. There were times when you couldn't slide a racing program between his front bumper and which ever car was in front of him. He didn't care who it was; everybody out there knew who was King. He made that one move. In the space of a few laps, The King went from the back to near the front, without exposing the front of his car to the wind. The crowd went wild!

Toledo Ohio, June 1997:
The bicycle is a cruel invention. On a bicycle you can push yourself harder and longer than by any means where you have to push, pull, or carry your own weight. It's so efficient that aerodynamics is its most limiting factor (at least in Northwest Ohio). I've learned how to cheat aerodynamics over the years (some studies report by 20 to 30%) and that has made cycling, for me, a cruel sport. I've got to have a wheel to ride. Even the smallest gap has become a bridge too far. And my equipment, clothing, and accessories are obsolete. So I must ask myself, just as I questioned the possibility of becoming another Super Commuter some 20 years ago, is this really cycling? You bet.

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