I was in trouble immediately for not having my phone, then my keys, then my
stopwatch, then my head, but that was reasonable considering.
Crackhead Ryan had shown up early for his big attack on the All Time
American Road Cycling Record for the Kain Road Climb (plus a shot at
winning a pair of red "Eat Me" cycling socks if he beat Widder's time), and I was
I was nervous because Ryan is the head of the local high school music
department, and I am myself a musician of some renown having spent many years
performing and teaching music privately.
In fact my renown is so great that somebody once said to me, "You know, every
time I run into a good guitarist, vocalist, or pianist around here, they
eventually mention that they studied with you."
However, the truth be told, I am not worthy to lick Ryan's valve oil spattered
boots, considering the impact he is having on many more young musicians than I
ever dreamed of, and in ways that will affect their lives, not just their
By impact I mean in real ways such as eventual college credits and
careers, not just, "My, don't they place nice," ways.
I have always believed the affect of doing something good extends beyond the act
itself, and in fact spreads out in somewhat the shape of a megaphone with a
certain inertia attached to all deeds which means every action should be
considered in how its effect will megaphone down through the ages.
Therefore, due to the fact Ryan is daily involved in countless little acts of
importance that will have greater impact than we can ponder at this point, the
fact that I did
not wish to impede him in the slightest by standing in the way of a successful
assault on Kain is understandable, and my forgotten phone, keys, stopwatch, and
head is forgivable.
In any case, when I finally went back upstairs for the final time, Ryan had left
for his warmup, and I only felt guilty for a moment thinking, "It's too bad this
is going to be straightforward, serious, and real... nothing like the standard
American Road Cycling nonsense. This will simply be a real attempt at a serious record."
Of course, I only thought that for a moment before everything went to shit.
Ryan had taken the first turn out of town, and we had taken the second, so we
got ahead of him and figured he went on out straight to come into the trial
start from the opposite direction.
We were driving and he was cycling, so not seeing him on the road made us drive
faster, and we got to the starting line in plenty of time to talk to the Town
road crew who were just beginning the oiling and graveling of Kain itself.
We confirmed with them that they were rushing to get the job done before the
rain started, so I left Widder (in charge of starter's pistol and photos)
at the starting line and drove off down the already oiled road we expected
Ryan to appear on.
Just when I thought I would never find him to cancel the event, Widder
called to say he was there.
It took awhile for me to get back to the start, and by then it had rained a
little, and the crew was ready to take the oil truck up Kain and had stopped
car traffic on it.
The oil truck was already starting up the hill, so maybe we weren't going to be able to time Ryan, but he was allowed to go up on his own
if he stayed in the left lane where they hadn't graveled yet.
Frustrated I blurted, "Go on up, and time yourself."
Ryan clicked his timer and took off just as I realized I had missed clicking my
own, so I started begging the work guys to let us follow to at least get pictures, and
As we started driving up the climb Widder quipped, "Look at that asshole
Ryan. He's already going too fucking fast. And standing right from the start.
Shit, he's standing but still turning over a 100 rpm cadence. What a loser. I
thought he knew this road. Not only will he never beat my time, he won't even
finish the climb."
I agreed, and when I pulled up beside him while passing on the already graveled
side of the road I shouted, "You don't have to be working so fucking hard."
Then I thought, "Shit, he's still spinning way too fucking hard. He's starting
to stagger. No way will he make it to the top," and I was sad.
Maybe we could at least get a video showing some of his climb, so I told
Widder to lean out the window as I slow paced in front of him.
Halfway up she was still filming, and I looked back and was horrified and
Ryan was still working hard, spinning fast. He didn't have a chance at getting
to the top, let alone setting a good baseline time for himself.
The Kain Road climb is a brutal .7 mile, but at the .5 mile mark there is about
50 feet of an actual downhill break, so I stopped the car in that little gully
and told Widder to let me know when Ryan's head popped over the slope,
"At least we'll get a shot of him blowing."
When she said, "He's here," I took off and looked back in the rearview with full
knowledge I was about to see the saddest rider I have ever seen, but Ryan
swooped over the top of the hill and actually shifted up one gear harder!
The MOTHER FUCKER WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!
And he did it with an elapsed time 6 min 23 seconds... more than a full 3
minutes faster than Widder and a new All Time
American Road Cycling Record for the Kain Road Climb.
It is a record that is likely to stand awhile too, because Kain Road is now
freshly tarred and chipped.
Regarding the loss of her own record climb, Widder said... well actually she
didn't say anything, but I said, "At least you had it for a day."
Of this epic climb (which is not only an American
Road Cycling record but all things considered a World Record)
Ryan quietly said, "All I could think about all the way up was how
that gravel truck was coming up behind me throwing down gravel and
oil. I had no choice but to keep going."