We’ve all heard that phrase. I’ve heard it end with a period, a simple declaration of something so obvious it needs no inflection. By the simple clarity of my role as a support rider, such a statement needed none of the flavor added by punctuation.
Each time I’ve heard someone yell, “Close that gap!” I’ve felt a visceral shock of desperation. I can tell you that even today that exclamation point was cut from adrenaline. Sometimes the call went up as response to a broken rubber band in the peloton, the over-stretched accordion. Other times it was the nascent breakaway that threatened to change the calculus of the day.
There were the admonitions from more experienced riders, those times in a paceline when they’d look at the four feet between me and the rider ahead and judge my distance as great enough to be a disruption to our centipede of locomotion.
There was the day on a farm road somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley where I looked at the distance to the two escapees and then at my teammate and tacked on a question mark—”Close that gap?”
For all the times I’ve heard that phrase, there is only one way I hope to use it in the future—with the word “let’s” sharing the load. As in “Let’s close that gap; you won’t have to work so hard.” Or “Let’s close that gap on the descent.” Maybe a, “Let’s close that gap, now that we’ve fixed the flat.”
That simple period washes away all the desperation, fear and dread, the things that make riding our bikes more like real life, and less like fun.
Image: Jorge “Koky” Flores, JustPedal
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