Every good, long, hard ride needs to have at least one gas station stop for water, slurpies, Swedish Fish, gummy bears, Snickers, beef jerky, joe-joes, a deep fried burrito, or what have you. Depending on how tired and hungry you are, this can really add up. A Snickers at a gas station out in the country is a buck, at least. A medium slurpy is $1.39, unless it’s at Circle K in Tucson where they’re 89 cents for any size. Swedish Fish were a $1.50 today. A bag of gummy bears or hot tamales is sometimes $2. A doughnut is cheap, usually 50 or 75 cents. Beef jerky can be a small fortune. A hot dog is $1.19–sometimes (rarely) two for a buck if they’re having a sale. You get the picture. It’s dangerous to head into a gas station with an empty stomach, crossed-eyes, and a debit card. But there is another way.
The Ride Sponsor can be anyone really. They can’t be slow, but they don’t have to be super fast. They need to just barely be able to keep up with you (and your teammates if you’re riding with them) on a non-interval/hammerfest day. They might get dropped on some of the longer, steeper climbs, but you’re not in such a hurry you can’t wait three minutes for them to catch up at the top. Look for one on your next ride. He’s usually an older guy (40’s to early 50’s). He’ll likely be on a Cervelo or decked out Cannondale/ Trek. Maybe a Time. He can either catch up to you after seeing you from a side street, or you can pass him and say ‘hello how’s it going?’– an easy invitation for him to sit on your wheel. We’re not looking for leaches here, so if he isn’t friendly/talkative, give ’em the old heave-ho and drop his ass ASAP. What we’re looking for is a rider with some dough (a job) and someone who wants some fast company to draft off of. I personally wouldn’t want to spend three hours sucking air behind a stranger who’s nose-breathing, unless they’re on a moped, or it’s one of the Colavita chicks. But lots of other people do, especially if you’re riding with a couple teammates and you’re all in matching kits/bikes and smell good from your new deodorant/embrocation sponsor. Our appeal has been especially high here in Park City since everyone knows about the Tour of Utah, assumes we’re here for it, and wants a chance to talk shop about the race–and also to get the inside scoop on Levi/Hincappie/whoever (not that we know anything about any of them). But of course you don’t need to be in Park City. The Ride Sponsor can be found wherever bikes are ridden.
So now you’ve got your ride sponsor. What’s next? Only thing left to do is ride hard enough to make them come very close to bonking or cracking, then stop at a gas station and load up. Don’t worry, it’s on them. It always is.