1996 was my make or break year in cycling. I decided focus on the “Fresca Cup” which was a national race series for riders without pro contracts. My strategy was to race as many of these races as I could, place well in them, and finish somewhere in the top 10 overall. It was an ambitious goal and one that I thought would help me to secure a pro contract.
Mono popped open the thermos and poured out the last little bit of espresso for us to share. We were listening to the Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever for our own cabin fever, slowly working our way through our combined collection of tapes and CD’s, waiting for the road to open again and for our drive to New Mexico to resume.
We had already been in the car for hours, driving out of the snowy northeast just days after the biggest blizzard in a hundred years. And now we were stuck on the turnpike somewhere in Pennsylvania until a combine harvester could clear the ten foot high snow drifts from the highway.
Then we were rolling again and my old VW – 95,000 miles with a broken speedometer, packed full of our bikes and gear – accelerated back up to 3,000 rpm, roughly highway cruising speed. At least the tachometer worked. We made the Ohio border by dusk.
In Columbus, we ate chicken fried steak for breakfast at a Bob Evans and drove west on I-70, headlong into another snowstorm. We drifted and slipped on the VW’s balding tires. Mono was still learning to drive stick, admittedly nervous as we passed the dozens of cars that had spun out or careened off the side of the road.
“Just keep going straight and keep us out of the ditches,” I told him.
“I’ll try,” he muttered.