This was initially written for the now-defunct Performance Bike Shop blog back in Winter 2018.
I had the pleasure of racing the 2017 collegiate season wearing the #13. Pinning on that cursed number (upside down always) is liberating - you know it won’t be an easy race, anything can go wrong, so you have to go out and create your own luck. That’s what I did. As a solo rider without teammates all season, I knew no result would be gifted, I’d have to be aggressive, force breaks myself, and not be afraid to fail. And though I did fail plenty, I also stepped on the podium and it was all the sweeter knowing that I did it despite wearing that unlucky #13.
About halfway through the season, I cracked my frame during a training ride. But my weekend ITT wasn’t going to ride itself. #13 teaches you not to make excuses. So I did what any competitive idiot would do: find a replacement bike, no matter how ill-suited for the task. In this case, a 3.1 mile uphill time trial with average grade of 9% and peaks of 20% in some of the switchbacks. The bike? A beautiful pistachio green 1987 steel race frame with Dura Ace 7400. Great bike, wonderful to ride, but to say the 42x21 lowest gear was ill suited for a hill climb might be an understatement. But hey, if guys could win the Tour de France on single speed bikes 100 years ago… I did not finish last in my field, coming in 21 out of 31 in Men’s A, +1.50 down from the winner. Not the best result, but one I’m most proud of. When you’re wearing #13, you just take what the world throws at you and keep on turning those pedals.