It was the third day of our Caribbean cruise and I was out riding. Yesterday had been a frightening 3 ½ ride on Aruba with the last hour filled with heavy traffic and roads with jagged sloping soft shoulders falling to wheel grabbing sand, and no passing room for the aggressive islander drivers.
Today was different, better. 4 hours into my ride on Curacao I was returning from a long, lone foray into the wild reaches of the windward side of the island – desolate stretches of broken coral, windmills, cactus, and heavy breakers from the Atlantic. Despite the heat and the long ride, the light winds kept me fresh and I attacked the return down the puddle cratered dirt road with vigor, headphones on, alone.
Then, around a corner and I was on them – an entire pack of local competitors – 50, 60 or 70 of them, in the usual shape of the peleton – a narrow lead group, a fat middle, and a trailing line of followers. They were drifting – they didn’t know that a race was upon them.
I latched on and declared an arbitrary sprint point ahead – a street sign sprint – would they recognize that the game was on?
I dodged and weaved and then caught the draft of the rear-most participant, and then quickly accelerated around. The group drifted left and right and I followed the eddies, staying protected from the wind. I had now been seen and they accelerated: seems all nationalities and types know the significance of a street sign sprint. I moved up.
I entered the bowls of the pack and bodies shifted all around me dodging into and out of my way but I plowed on, certain now in my sprinter strengths, my little rocket power to crush the opponents.
Sure enough, despite last minute attempts to thwart my progress, and the sudden appearance of a giant, I hammered through the middle and shot into the clear blue sky, hands in the air.
Another end-of-season victory in the Netherlands Antilles and my first win on Dutch territory.
Too bad they were just goats…