Authors: PD Singer
Warning: this book contains adult language and themes, including graphic descriptions of sexual acts that some may find offensive. It is intended for
mature readers only, of legal age to possess such material in their area.
This book is a work of fiction. All characters, companies, events, and locations are either products of the author's imagination, are used
fictitiously, or are mentioned as historical fact. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright (c) P.D. Singer 2013
Cover art by L.C. Chase and P.D. Singer
Edited by Eden Winters
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law,
or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Rocky Ridge Books
PO Box 6922
Broomfield, CO 80021
Great thanks are due to the team who helped me to the finish line:
To Eden Winters, Angela Bendetti, Amelia C. Gormley, Jo Niedermeyer, and TD O'Malley, for constant encouragement, advice, and the occasional
To Zahra Owens, for language and cycling help, and Elisa Rolle, who kept Luca from sounding illiterate in his native tongue.
And to Bruce, whose great love of cycling got the whole project started.
September 27, 1984 - May 9, 2011
Caddero sulla strada inseguendo un sogno de Gloria. Che raggiunsero nella luce del sacraficio delle loro giovani esistenze.
Many of these terms are French, which I used because of the greater familiarity of the
Tour de France
for US readers, but there are equivalent
Breakaway/break: one or more riders escaping from the front of peloton, usually as the result of a sudden acceleration.
Commissaire: a race official with the authority to impose penalties on the riders for infractions of the rules.
Directeur sportif: the on-the-road manager of a bike team.
DNF: Did not finish
DNS: Did not start
Domestique: literally, servant, but in racing parlance, the riders who support the GC by chasing down breakaways, collecting water from the team car,
yielding equipment, and otherwise putting their GC into a position to win. A super-domestique or lieutenant stays with the GC during critical times, and
may win stages or other honors.
Draft: to ride in the aerodynamic slipstream of another rider at great energy savings.
Fuga bidone: a break that gets too far ahead of the peloton to be caught.
GC: General Classification. The ranking of the accumulated time or placements, whichever basis the race uses to determine its winner. The GC of the team is
the rider considered most able to achieve the best ranking, and the other riders support him to achieve this at the cost of their own individual
Gruppetto: the stragglers following the peloton, trying to make the time cut-off to stay in the race.
Hors categorie: "Beyond category.
An extremely difficult climb. Climbing routes are graded by steepness, length, and
the distance already covered when the route reaches the climb. Category 1 climbs are next most difficult, followed by categories 2, 3, 4, and 5.
KoM: King of the Mountains, a title gained by accumulating points by being one of the first riders to summit the defined climbs in a race or stage. The KoM
is awarded a prize jersey, usually red or polka dot, and in a stage race may wear it on the next stage. In Italian: Gran Premio della Montagna.
Lanterne rouge: the red lantern, as in the lamp on the back of the train. The last rider in the race or stage.
Moto: a motorcycle, generally with a cameraman riding on the back, with a driver skilled enough to weave through the unprotected cyclists.
Musette: a feed bag with a long handle that can be collected on the fly.
Palmares: a cyclist's list of accomplishments, including wins, stage wins, KoM, and intermediate sprints.
Peloton: the main group of cyclists riding in a bunch.
Soigneur: a staff member who takes care of the riders, a combination valet, masseur, and racing support. One soigneur may take care of two to six riders.
Stage: a race may be run in segments on consecutive days.
Time limit: in order to remain in the race, a racer must finish a stage within a certain percentage of the winner's time. The percentage varies
with the specifics of the stage.
Time trial: a race by an individual or team against the clock. Riders start at intervals.
1.HC, 2.1, 2.2, etc. Race classifications. The first number indicates the number of stages (1 is a one day race, 2 has two or more, up to twenty-one) and
the second number indicates the quality of the teams expected to ride in the race. A 2.2 stage race may have mix of a few pro teams and more continental
and regional teams, whereas a 2.HC, such as the Giro d'Italia, will have pro teams and a few other teams invited because of their strength.
The big silver sedan blew past close enough to touch, and he damned near did. Christopher Nye shook his fist at the receding vehicle, once he'd
wrestled his bike under control.
"Stupid gas-burner!" Stu Fallon made his point with a one-fingered salute. "There's a whole other lane they could
have used--why'd they have to nearly run us down?"
"Most people around here give bikes enough room." Christopher shot a wary glance behind lest some other three thousand pound weapon
guided by a moron was sneaking up on him. "There's enough cyclists on the road, you'd think they'd all
"I'd like them to get sucked into a slipstream and then ask if they had enough room," Stu grumbled, but he'd
already gotten to speed again, and Christopher wouldn't waste the breath to help him complain. At least this bright, crisp January day
didn't have the additional hazard of snow, which made it perfect for a brisk run out to the wide spot on the road that was Hygiene, Colorado.
Still a couple of puddles at the side of the road, though.
Bright jerseys and spandex leggings dotted the roads in and around Boulder. Fewer than in June, a rainbow of cyclists hugged the roads'
shoulders, even in winter. Christopher and Stu would have less traffic to worry about once they reached the north edge of town. Then they
wouldn't be run off the road every mile or so.
Close to thirty miles of gentle rolls and near flat called to him. Christopher had just tightened his chain and adjusted the derailleurs, his leggings were
comfortably worn in and the chamois lining greased heavily; nothing on man or bike would chafe. He had layers he could peel down if the breeze dropped, but
the mid-fifties temps probably wouldn't persuade him to remove the arm warmers he'd put on with a short-sleeved jersey. With a last
tweak to his helmet and sunglasses, Christopher followed Stu up the road.
"Checking out my butt again?" Stu called, once they made the turn onto Jay Road.
"It isn't any more attractive than it was last time. How you can ride so many miles and still have such a scrawny ass is beyond
me." Christopher sped up and around Stu, who dropped back to trail in Christopher's wake. They'd take turns fighting the air,
letting the other draft. It wasn't the same degree of relief as riding in the midst of a peloton would be, but even one rider to create a
slipstream made a huge difference in how hard they had to work.
Christopher didn't like thinking about the peloton, that massed group of cyclists riding only inches apart. His last race had gone smash when
he'd been hemmed in on all sides. Someone had thrown an elbow at a rider in front, sending a ripple of motion sideways until someone
hadn't reacted fast enough or accurately enough. Wheel caught wheel then, handlebars caught hips, and twenty cyclists had gone down in a tangle
of metal and rubber. Christopher had gotten off lightly for meeting the road and someone else's bike, leaving some skin on the pavement and
taking a cleat mark on his chest, but he'd shied from riding with a lot of people since. The pros and the group I/II riders could probably have
stayed upright and possibly even disciplined the elbow-thrower, but the group IV riders like Christopher didn't have those skills yet. And if he
couldn't make himself get back into the peloton, he never would.
But the season was young--he didn't have to apply for his racing license again for another month or two. Training was enough, even with
the inadequate scenery perched on Stu's saddle. He had zero interest in that particular ass anyway. Stu was a friend, straight, and the best
matched riding partner Christopher had. Thinking boner-inducing thoughts while trying to maintain tempo for two hours was only going to interfere with
getting fit after a month of holiday indulgence and weather-enforced idleness.
They'd swapped off the lead again after they'd reached the true country roads, letting Christopher look around more than at the road
ahead. Enough breeze came off the hills to their west that he and Stu both zipped their jackets to the throat. Cottonwoods along the creek beds made brown
lace against the fiercely blue sky, and last year's grasses at the side of the road whispered drily at their passage. He felt good, swinging
along at seventy rpm in a gear that wasn't his tallest, but that would be for later in the season. For now, maintaining his pace without
challenging his anaerobic threshold was the goal. That, and enjoying himself.
The road grew narrower, the Ute Highway being on the same scrawny side as Stu's behind, but the reservoir to their right sparkled in the sun. One
pickup truck had gone around them since they'd made the last turn.
"Coming up on the left!"
The yell was upon them almost as soon as the riders were--a pack of fast-moving cyclists zipped by, a blur of turquoise and black.
"Let's catch them and draft!" Stu's enthusiasm had to be twice his speed, which picked up substantially.
"Fat chance." Christopher accelerated too, even though the other riders were pulling away without looking like they were working for
"Are those the Garmin-Sharp guys?"
"Nah, they wear blue with black and white trim." Christopher had cheered the Boulder-based pro team in the
Tour de France
every other race he'd been able to see.
"Wow." Stu dropped back to their previous pace. "They passed us like nothing and that one guy is sitting up to take his
jacket off." The team hadn't stopped, but one of the backs now sported unbroken turquoise instead of a black V.
Wow, indeed. The bike handling and speed that had just blown by on what had to be an easy training ride made Christopher feel like he'd barely
graduated from a tricycle. Those riders could have cut their racing teeth as juniors, with decent equipment and some support from their family. Or town, if
any of them were Belgian--Belgian riders grew up on bone-rattling cobblestone streets where every passer-by could assess their form. Maybe some of
them were from Italy, where small boys dreamed of growing up to be the next Fausto Coppi or Gianni Bugno. Or France, where a three week stage race was
practically a national holiday and a stage winner never had to buy his own drinks again. A few might be Americans, but they didn't learn to race
on a discount store bike with five unusable gears.
He'd started years too late to dream of belonging to the elite, but he could expect to get from Boulder to Hygiene and back in under an hour and
a half. Christopher pulled back into the present, adjusting his grip and his expectations.
Once home, Christopher opened a new document on his laptop, thinking back to the dozen riders who'd sped past him.
Antano-Clark may have just arrived in Boulder, but they
re already blowing the locals off the roads. Looking for the advantages of living and training at altitude, this newly formed team hopes to make stars
out of such workhorses as Luca Biondi, formerly of Duclos-Wurth, who finished a surprise sixth in last year
s Paris-Nice stage race, and Rolf Knecht, from Kastibank...
He finished the article, built mostly from press releases, some scuttlebutt, and what he'd seen that day. Should he save it for Stu to proofread?
Maybe not this time--he could do without the shit Stu would give him on the subject. His editor could find the stray commas for once. Emailing it
, Christopher considered that his other great dream, seeing his byline in print, had been a lot more achievable and even built upon his
cycling. His parents never chided him about his expensive journalism degree turning into tiny articles and an evil day job in a shop: he'd get
there. Maybe he should start carrying the Nikon currently gathering dust on the bookshelf.