I went on a small group ride today — just two other guys, Bret and Eric. The ride demonstrated a weird social dynamic in cyclists: we gathered together to do a ride none of us wanted to do. Specifically, we were climbing “The Zoo,” a three-mile brute of a road up Cougar Mountain.
The other weird thing I observed was myself: I knew this was a group ride, and that the right thing to do was ride as a group. But I couldn’t help myself. I kept pushing the pace, kept seeing if I could find my inner alpha male. I managed to make it to the top first — barely — completely fried. I was pleased with myself: I had meted out my effort nicely, and had emerged victorious. “Hey,” I said to myself, “the Fat Cyclist may have a gut, but he’s also got legs.”
And that brings us to a word of caution: be careful when you ride with people who are demonstrably 95% smarter than you. Ie, Eric’s a widely-respected computer language guru, I’m known for being fat and riding a bike.
Witness a snippent of conversation Eric and I had:
Eric: “I thought leg strength would be the limiting factor for me today, but it turns out aerobic capacity was the real inhibitor.”
Me: “I gotta hurl.”
Why is that important? Because while I was engaged in a one-move show of brute force (climb this hill fast, then feel free to blow up), Eric was engaged in a chess game. When we got back to the bottom of the hill, Eric said, “I know a great little loop that starts here — are you good for another 10-12 miles?”
What could I say? We started on the loop, and I held on the best I could. And for what it’s worth, Eric was right: it is a great little loop. But he cleaned my clock. After we split up, I soft-pedaled home just fast enough to avoid having pedestrians pass me.
I bet you anything, though, that Eric would claim it was just a friendly ride — no tactics at all involved.
Update: To be clear — all three of us finished the climb, and within a few minutes of each other.
My Cyclingnews.com Story Is Posted
Back before I raced the Leadville 100, I pitched a story to my favorite cycling website, Cyclingnews.com. You can get the long version of the idea here, but basically I was going to bring a voice recorder with me on the race and record my conversations with other racers — let them tell the story of this big ol’ endurance race (100 miles on a mountain bike, 12,000 feet of climbing, all at an altitude between 9000 and 12,600 feet).
Well, I finished writing the story last Thursday and sent it in — and now it’s posted! Click here to read “Endurance MTB Socialising, Part I.”
Part II — hey, it’s a long race and I tend to ramble — should be posted tomorrow; you can bet that I’ll link to it in tomorrow’s blog entry.
A big “thank you” goes to Steve Peterson, who let me use his beautifully-done photographs in this story. Thanks also to the guys at Cyclingnews — I’ve read their site for years and years; it’s a blast writing for them now.
Pull the Trigger, Matt
My friend Matt and I went road bike shopping yesterday afternoon. We went to three different shops, and both of us finally gravitated to the Specialized Allez — in a great-looking powder-coated black. I’m astounded at how much bike you can get for under $1000 now. Matt says he’s close to making a decision.
Do it, Matt. All the cool kids are riding bikes these days. You want to be a cool kid, don’t you?
Today’s weight: 161.4 lbs. — but that was after the bike ride today, the final hour of which I had no water whatsoever. In other words, today’s weight has no bearing on reality.
Bonus “What’s Your Story” Amazingness: For those of you who have wondered what happens to your blog traffic when you’re featured on MSN’s What’s Your Story page, well, it’s kind of astounding. Thursday and Friday didn’t seem too out of the ordinary — I went from my usual 2000 or so pageviews per day to around 3500 per day. But today — wow! I just crossed 50,000 pageviews for the day and it’s only 1:30 in the afternoon. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!