Top of the Mountain

Growing up in rural Connecticut as a kid, my childhood was pretty simple. Filled with memories of pond hockey in the winters and swimming in the summers and endless days riding my bicycle around the neighborhood. We always rode our bikes around for transportation back and forth, no helmets, computers or carbon fiber in those days. As I hit my teens when I didn’t want to be home, I’d spend my time at the local bicycle shop learning about girls, bikes and on occasion I saw a few bicycle racers in their wool clothing, wooden shoes with nailed cleats and hairnets. (a leather cycling helmet) stop in the shop. This bicycle shop which still exists today’s more focused on road cycling and there were a few dedicated men that had a knack for riding together on Saturday mornings. As my interest in cycling grew around the age of 13, I finally was able to save enough money for a proper ten-speed bicycle. It was a Motobecane Mirage, one water bottle and a pair of toe clips. I started out riding thru some local towns and quickly discovered my new found freedom suddenly got bigger with all the new gears. The cycling bug had caught me at last and I expanded my solo cycling routes, I occasionally would see another cyclist and offer a simple wave as they turned over the pedals in the other direction. I began to consider the idea of riding with the big guys, as a pre pubescent young boy that was intimidated to see how I stacked up with the the guys I waited until an well seasoned Scottish man named Dave Hulmne asked me if I would join them on a weekend ride.
I was excited and nervous at the same time. I cleaned my bicycle that week and got my cycling shoes and helmet ready for my maiden voyage with the EXPO Wheelmen cycling team. I remember arriving to the parking lot early, eager with anticipation and gradually the guys arrived, some by car with bikes on the roof, others rode over I was in heaven. I listened to the stories and slowly we stared our journey. I wasn’t really sure where were were riding, never thought to ask, but it felt so excited about the maiden voyage to ride in a group and hear the chatter of the guys, clicking of gears and forward motion as the pedals went around and miles ticked by..About halfway thru the ride, we climbed over a local mountain slowly and gradually I rolled up until about halfway I began to feel a fatigue I’ve never felt before. To this day I recall being so physically exhausted and could hardly push the pedals. This is there David Hulmne said in a heavy scotch accent said "come on Hutch, lets keep going" and he placed his hand on my back and pushed me to the top of the mountain. Then over and over again he nursed me home. I never forgot that help and how he was able to assist me, then over the years he helped guide me along in local races and give me his advice on what to do in races.
Then one day in 1988 while training for the Olympic Trials I was in the best cycling shape of my life, 22 years old and 148 pounds at 6’2 I set out on a typical training ride and looking for some mountains I knew just the one as I set off from Central Connecticut to Rhode Island where my parents lived, it was about 65 miles one way. I had a couple of water bottles full of gatorade, a extra tire and a few dollars. This ride would typically take me about three hours and I was flying. I was riding my bicycle in these days almost without effort on the hills and when I came to the climb I was in my big chainring just smashing the pedals with my fullforce. It was about halfway up I began to think about the first time over this hill and as I looked up the road I could see another cyclist. Ahh I had my carrot was just ahead, time to go a little harder and catch him beforethe summit. I began to close the gap on the one lone sole ahead one pedal stroke at a time. As I approached him I could see the rocking motions that this guy was getting tired, had visible signs of fatigue. The closer I got the more familiar he was and as I quickly approached his pedaling style looked vaguely familiar. When I caught him, alas it was my cycling mentor David Hulmne I reached over with my hand after we laughed a bit and pushed him up the to the top of the hill. He and I spoke of the race along the way and I told him that I was grateful for the help nearly a decade before on the very same climb. As we got to the top, we said our goodbyes and we both continued our ride.
After riding hundreds of thousands of miles Cycling is more then a sport for me, its a way of life, a way to connect with others, or sometimes just a way to escape.

Thank you for allowing me to reflect and share this memory.

Michael Hutchinson Cat 1 Masters
5x Masters National Champion
12X Northern California Champion
3rd World Mater TT Championships