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  • A little after 3am I shouted, Turn! Turn! Baleen woke up with a start. Fine, I'll turn over, but you don't have to shout so loudly, she said. I was dreaming, I said. I was coaching our son's soccer team and I was yelling at our forward to turn with the ball. That was it, Baleen was wide awake, no longer interested in what I wanted, which was to sleep, and full of questions: what was he like, was he fast, was he tall, and why wasn't he the forward turning toward goal?

    Three hours later I was following St Nick and Subway up the Start. Christopher Robin was in bed, resting for bigger climbs now that he's a recognized racer. His absence meant that I could podium and maybe, just maybe, shoot for second. But I had to stay on their wheels. At the False Flats, the three of us kept cranking, but not quite like we would have had Christopher Robin been there. I pushed to the front. I cut the wind for as long as I could, which was just short of the Circle, and watched Subway and St Nick pass me by.

    The final ascent is my bete noire. I can hang with the hummingbirds, usually as the last wheel, until I reach it, and they take flight. This morning gave me hope, and it might be the false hope of two strong riders easing up without their carrot, Christopher Robin, but it's hope. And hope keeps me going, thinking that next week, I can find four seconds to meet Subway at the top, and maybe even a fifth to just barely pull in front.
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