A Revolutionary’s Revolutions
As Ben Franklin approached the exit point of the swim, Thomas Jefferson was changing into the bicycling attire he’d purchased from a vendor serving the race. He sported a bright-red, tight-fitting Spandex jersey, its zipper pulled down to his stomach, white Spandex shorts, and baby-blue bicycle shoes. And he fielded tips from his new cyclist friend.

“Stay in a pretty easy gear,” he was told, “so that you can do as many revolutions as possible.”

Jefferson nodded, “I rather like revolutions.

“In fact,” he told Abigail, sotto voce, “a Revolution now and again, to replenish the Tree of Liberty with the blood of patriots, is a Good Thing.”

“Remember,” continued the cyclist, “this is a triathlon, not the Tour de France, so drafting is not allowed.”

“I would think,” Jefferson responded, “there’ll be plenty of draughts and toasts after our victory.”

The cyclist shook his head, while Abigail Adams laughed at her friend’s confident, cavalier attitude in the face of a difficult challenge.

“And take this,” said the cyclist, handing Jefferson his space helmet. With the helmet, the red, white, and blue attire, and a black cape draped down his shoulders, the former President cut a striking figure.

Then Franklin came running up from the water, with surprising speed for his age and portly physique. He expected Jefferson to take the timing chip off his ankle, but the ex-President was already on his bike, poised to go. Abigail kneeled down to tear the chip off Dr. Franklin’s leg, and attached its Velcro strap to Jefferson’s leg.

The latter took off, eager to protect the lead. He tried to maintain, as the cyclist had told him, an even, circular motion with his pedaling, and found his old habit of horseback riding had built up his core strength and stamina. Meantime, Franklin and Abigail trotted over to the nearby Washington Monument, and took the lift to its windowed top floor, which afforded a superb view of the bike course.

Abigail borrowed Franklin’s powerful, portable telescope, and told Jefferson through his radio headset the location and relative speed of the nearest cyclists. She also spotted four of his pursuers whom, she was angered to see, were cheating, by drafting behind one another. Manipulating his radio set, Franklin broke in on the race officials’ chatter, informing them of the transgression, which led officials patrolling the course on motorcycles to find and penalize the cheaters.

Dr. Franklin, examining the weather radar on his tablet, warned Jefferson of an incoming storm front, with heavy winds, near the course’s hairpin turnaround at Hains Point, a spit of land close to the Tidal Basin. The lanky Virginian got into an almost horizontal position, on the “aero bars” protruding from the bike’s frame, and reached 30 mph, holding on determinedly at the banked swerve of the turnaround.

As the storm front hit, a 40-mph tailwind benefited him, while a 40-mph headwind buffeted his pursuers still approaching the bend, practically stopping them in their tracks. Seizing advantage of the gust, Jefferson stood up on his pedals and, cycling without hands, grabbed ahold of his cape, held it up like a sail behind his helmet, and picked up even more speed, sailing past the Jefferson Memorial on the route back to the finish.
Atop the Washington Monument, meanwhile, a watching Abigail murmured, “A bravo performance, Thomas.

“But how come my husband John doesn’t have a memorial too?..”

Franklin had brought his swim kite with him, and thought about making a parasail of it to glide down from the Washington Monument, but a wary Abigail vetoed the notion. After taking the lift back down, they obtained Capital Bikeshare rent-a-bikes, and quickly rolled back to the transition area.

At the bike finish Jefferson, as he’d often done with his horses, dismounted in one seamless action, and dramatically held out a leg. Franklin ripped off the timing chip and strapped it to Abigail’s ankle.