I fell in love with biking all over again this weekend.
I’ve done triathlons and mountain bike races, but this weekend’s road bike race was a whole new animal for me.
The Cal Miller Bike Race in Perham, Minn. has been going strong for 16 years. The ride is named after Cal, a Perham cycling enthusiast who passed away unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm. To keep his memory and passion alive, his family organizes this race every year. They do a nice job.
Although Sunday’s ride was a race, it was also a celebration of a man who cared about the continuation of the sport. Not too many rural communities can boast a road race around some of the state’s most beautiful lakes. We all gathered that day because of a passion we shared with Cal.
The race itself was eye opening for me. In triathlons, drafting is frowned upon. In road races, that’s how it goes. Halfway through the first 12-mile lap, a man rode alongside me and offered to move in front of me. “You’ve been working too hard,” he joked. I didn’t realize it, but he had been drafting off me. His timing was perfect, and as I got my energy back up to speed, I switched spots with him.
I understand this isn’t how the top notch dudes (women included) in the front would roll, but for us, it was all about the teamwork – the give-and-take. The small pack that we formed soon turned into 5, sometimes 6. We fell into the swing of things, taking turns leading the pack. I was blown away with our method, all of which was created without any conversation beforehand or careful planning on the road. It was a representation of how life should be. The silent “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” seems to be missing from our society. If it is implemented, it seems there’s a careful plan – and skepticism – that goes along with it.
The last part of the race, we did go our separate ways, for the most part. A couple rode ahead, a couple fell behind. But we all finished knowing that the race was more than a testament of our ability to ride our bikes – it was a testament of the strength that comes along with teamwork and cooperation, things this world could use a little more of.