It was impossible to predict the drama of competition, and the growing friendships that would develop between Momof4greatkids and Merckxduerks after meeting and competing on Bikejournal.com. Both hailing from Ohio, noticing the other neck in neck in the stats, they begin friendly banter back and forth, who will log the most miles for the year? Though Mom the rookie girl can hardly hope to compete w/Merckx the master cyclist (or can she?)
Merckx nails the TOSRV double century in May, Mom counters w/regular 25-65 mile rides through the month.Merckx rolls thru the summer months with Jun - Aug miles of 420, 766, and 778. Mom sticks 654 in June, then, backs off with 546 and 562 for July and August. It starts to get really serious.
In the first chance to size up the competition, Mom and Merckx meet as Mom is moving her daughter into the dorm at Defiance College in Merckx home town. Mom is dispirited after meeting Merckx, as 30+ years of cycling have left him in top physical condition, and Mom's a middle-aged rookie on a hybrid. What to do? Upgrade the bike of course!
But what bike? Merckx rides a beautiful custom titanium Serotta. Mom chooses a Serotta Fierte in steel, and she going farther and faster than ever before!
But the family calls out for help, "mommy please don't get on the bike! Stay home and feed us, we haven't eaten in weeks", laundry piles reach never before seen levels. Mom hears the lonesome cries of her husband whose affections have been alienated by new steed affectionately dubbed "Ray". Will the insanity ever end?
Merckx, the master cyclist, is eager to offer helpful coaching tips to Mom, the rookie. For instance, did you know you can improve your cycling strength by adding a small parachute to the back of your bike to increase wind resistance? He also advises, to improve cadence and balance, always pedal two strokes backward for every 5 strokes forward.
Merckx is eager to offer style pointers too, suggesting Mom add a playing card attached with a clothespin to the rear wheel stay of her new Serotta. He assures Mom this will garner the attention and envy of all the cyclists in her club. Thinly veiled threats about the other contestant taking some time off….you need to rest, wash your children's clothes, or go on vacation (without the bike). "You are gonna take a some time off, you understand?? OR my friend Vito is gonna come over and breaka some a you spokes, and you cant'ta ride with no broken spokes!!" Voodoo dolls are crafted. Rides are planned.
The Hancock Horizontal 100 in Findlay Ohio is the place. Sept 9th is the date.RAIN! But, that won't stop to competition. Traveling through a dark rainy morning to arrive, neither one would give in to the weather and call it off, 50 miles of rain and still going. They finish the Century, neither gaining advantage this day.
In October Merckx pulls ahead by 162 but Mom counters and recaptures the lead. Mom and Merckx meet again to ride the "Red Flannel", the traditional end-of-the-season ride in Ohio.The ride starts within 10 miles of Mom's home, and Merckx graciously agrees to make the long trek from Defiance to Lorain county. Sunday early morning, they ride to the beginning of the Red Flannel Metric Century. The day is cool but pleasant, the route is scenic with a couple challenging hills tossed in, and the food is fantastic. No advantage to be gained today for either competitor TRUCE! Friendship is more important that competition today. They and their families share a meal at mom's house, post ride. Goodbye's, hugs, and a trip home, with warm thoughts of a very special day of cycling,
After riding with Merckx this day, Mom the rookie is faced with the undeniable realization of the strength a cyclist like Merckx has gained in 30+ years of cycling, and a rookie's enthusiasm, no matter how determined, can be no match. Merckx flies up the hills, Mom slogs up the hills. His bike handling and hill climbing abilities could so easily have left Mom in the dust, but he waits at the top of the hills, or, taunting her, rides back down the hills and has another go at the "fun" while blowing past Mom for the second time.
Now it's crunch time, December, the final month, and the weather is getting downright lousy. After 5000 + miles it's coming down to the final 100 or so miles to see who 'wins' this little contest. Merckx builds a sizable lead over Mom and thinks he's nailed it. Feeling pretty confident he call "mom" to see how she is doing, and to his chagrin, Mom reports she's getting ready to log a metric century. What can Merckx do? Get out and ride! Merckx posts another 16.6 early evening. Mom posts another 14.4 as a December nite ride. Merckx checks stats Holy Cow!! Merckx posts another 14.2 (8 on the tandem IN THE SNOW at 10:30 PM).It's 11:30 now---Are we done for the day?
Ligget and Sherwin commentate, "I don't believe I'm seeing this ... Mom has been in the back for the whole year and Merckx is in difficulty now.This is where you have to race ... and Mom is gone!Indeed, a big move by Mom and there's no denying it, Merckx has no answer to this acceleration by Mom.So Mom has been holding everything under those legs until the last week and now she has launched the attack......or maybe it will be a sprint finish? It looks like Zabel, O'Grady, McEwen, and Boonen ... but wait! Here comes Merckx and Mom on the outside! It's Merckx and Mom, Mom and Merckx. One will be wearing the green jersey tonight!
Mom checks in with Merckx at 9pm on New Years Eve, he's put in an amazing, strong effort, sitting comfortable at 25 miles ahead of Mom. He swears he's done for the day, having logged over 50 miles, in addition to a full day on the job, he's ready to settle in and bring in the New Year in comfort relaxing with his beautiful wife. Mom’s son looks at her with expectant eyes, and says "Can you do it?" Mom, remembering her afternoon ride, feeling like she hit the wall battling a dispiriting 10-12 mph headwind that felt like a hurricane, replies, "No, heck no, double heck no!", ready to concede, feeling very tired. But her son, Patrick, says "Mom you should do it". What could she do, but suit up and head out, w/the help of the best domestiques a Mom could ever have, her enthusiastic son and husband. She logs another 27 miles, and pulling ahead by a mere 2 miles to take the victory, pipping Merckx at the line.Congrats "mom" you passed Merckx at the line. Well done, ALWAYS sprint to the finish line.End of story?? I don't think so, 2008 is another year!