At the championship cycling race during my senior year in high school I planned a breakaway with two other riders with the hopes of riding away at the start.  We had already race three stages over two-days so all the competitors were a bit fatigued.  We had confided our plans with a member of another team who we asked to join our efforts to eliminate other contenders by surprise them from the start.  He agreed and we dispersed ourselves across the front of the starting line.  Since the final road race was 60-miles there was no real urgency to race from the gun.  The starter’s pistol sounded and the two other riders accelerated forward.  I clipped into my pedals and then proceeded to unclip immediately.  I hesitated, attempted to rengage the cleat and pedal only to flail.  After three attempts I was finally secure but the element of surprise was long gone and my two conspirators were on their way.  I found myself completely paralyzed, having prepared to race full out from the start I was now sitting in the middle of the pack obsessing over the failed shoe and pedal routine.  My breakaway companions were eventually caught more than halfway into the race, clearly missing an additional partner to share in the effort of staying off-the-front.  The pack stayed together to the end and the sprinters rejoiced in the mass rush to the line.

The experience stays with me as a reminder of the importance of being prepared if a fast start is your strategy.  The small details of clipping into a pedal separated me from participating in what would have been a memorable adventure.

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