Jake and I have been on several of the same rides this year. We were both at the Leadville 100. We both rode the Zoo. We both did the Issaquah Alps. Until last Saturday, though, we hadn’t ridden together.
Saturday, Jake took me out on a cyclist’s tour of Seattle. I started from my house, arrived at our meet-up spot (a coffee shop, as is required by law in Seattle), and told him that since he knew the area much better than I do, he was in charge of the ride. "Wherever you like," I said. "I’m not fast, but I can ride pretty much all day without tiring."
Famous last words.
Control is Power
I’m about to say several nasty things about Jake, so I should problably make it clear up front: Jake took me on a great ride. You see, I usually head off into the country on my road rides, because it’s impossible for me to get lost if the road never turns. Jake, however, knows Seattle inside and out, and so we took off toward the ocean.
So now, after having lived in the area for 1.5 years, I can finally say that I’ve ridden my bike from my home (Sammamish) to the waterfront. We rode along bike trails at Elliot Bay, we rode by the stadium where fans were gathering for the Huskies / USC game, we rode on Mercer Island, we rode by Queen Anne, we rode through numerous parks, up and down short, steep windy hills.
And for the first twenty-five miles or so, I was fine. In fact, I can’t remember having such a nice ride in a long time. The weather was good, Jake’s a great guy to talk with, we ride at the same pace, and I was seeing stuff I hadn’t seen before.
Then, at about mile 25, we were headed along what I thought was going to be a nice, long, gentle downhill…when Jake took a right turn ahead of me and started climbing.
Man, I just wasn’t ready for that.
I’m no complainer, though, nosirree. I shifted down and started churning up, just wondering to myself, "aren’t we headed away from home now?"
Jake, meanwhile, happily spun along.
Then, a few minutes later, he did it again. And then again. He kept turning uphill whenever he could. "He’s messing with me," I thought, as I dropped into my granny and struggled to stay with him. But what could I do? This was his ride. And I had, after all, billed myself as the "Ride All Day, Never Get Tired" guy.
So I smiled, told Jake what a great ride it was (because it was in fact a great ride — it was me who wasn’t so great), and drafted behind him whenever I could.
Exploit the Advantage
This is not the first time the Home Court Advantage riding technique has been used against me, either. For some reason, knowing the course is an important part of how strong I’m going to be throughout the ride. 142 miles on desert doubletrack on a mountain bike over the course of 18 hours? Done it, and could do it again. Three hours on moderately hilly roads in Seattle, Washington? Totally wiped me out.
I’ve observed this effect on other people, too. In particular, I once took Rocky out mountain biking at my old favorite trail in Utah: Frank. He had ridden Frank before, and so knew what to expect; Rocky had no trouble at all staying with — or often, riding ahead of — me. When I switched things up on him, though, by turning onto a 4.3 mile brutal uphill climb called Squaw Peak (a long paved climb that leads to an exquisitely intense technical downhill), Rocky discombobulated. He hadn’t factored the Squaw climb in. I had used the bait-and-switch, combined with the Home Court Advantage, to soundly defeat a cyclist several notches my superior.
It’s a technique I plan to use again. Preferably, on Jake.
Today’s weight: 163.2
PS: I’m double-plus-happy to have the Banjo Brothers along as a sponsor of the Fat Cyclist. What does it mean to be a sponsor of the Fat Cyclist? Nobody seems to know, but we do know that it will involve me giving away a cool Banjo Brothers Seat Bag (you know, the tiny little pouch that fits under your bike seat) for each of the next few Wednesdays, at least.
PPS: Thanks for the Nalgene water bottle, Rocky. For the first time ever, I finally have a water bottle that tastes like nothing. Fits great in the bottle cage, too.
PPPS: Sometime yesterday afternoon, this blog crossed the 500,000 page view threshold. Huzzah!