I haven’t talked much this year about how much weight I’ve lost, nor have I talked about how much fitness and speed I’ve gained.
That is because, quite simply, I haven’t lost much weight, and I haven’t gained much fitness.
But I have improved a little. Enough that I am no longer on the fence between XL and Large jerseys; size Large fits comfortably (but I am nowhere close to a size Medium). And enough that I have started doing my “I am Ullrich” chant on the climbs again.
Of course, it’s easy for me to start thinking of my modest losses and gains as giant, quantum leaps in power and speed.
Which brings us to this morning’s ride.
Yesterday afternoon I sent out an email to the group of people who regularly show up for the early morning mountain bike rides at Corner Canyon. I proposed we meet at the usual time (6:30) and at the usual place (the top of Clark’s), but that we mix up the route a little bit: down the Hogg’s Hollowe chute, back up the Hogg’s Hollowe climb, then Jacob’s Ladder with a possible Ghost-Falls descent and Brock’s climb.
The thing is, I climb Hogg’s Hollowe three times or so per week, where I meet the Suncresters and North-of-Suncresters, who climb up Clark’s. We meet where our respective climbs cross and then go from there.
As a result, Hogg’s Hollowe is the climb I know better than any other. And today, they would be climbing it with me. This, I thought, would be a good opportunity for me to put my stamp of authority on the climb. Ha.
After a surprisingly non-bloody descent down the Hogg’s Hollowe chute (with a group of more than five, it’s rare that nobody wrecks), we began the climb. Brad and Rick went to the front and picked up the pace.
Briefly, I considered taking my rightful place at the back of the pack. But decided against it. I got behind them and held on as best as I could.
About halfway up, Brad dropped back to chat with other riders. Which left me hanging on to Rick’s wheel for dear life.
Then Rick spun out on a gravelly ledge, putting a foot down. I passed, and promptly entered my pain cave, from which I would not exit until the top of the climb.
But it was worth it, because it was working. I was leading.
I. Was. Leading!
And then Brad rode up to my side, casually took a camera out of his jersey pocket, and snapped a picture of me, as he rode one-handed. Later, he would say, “Nice work, Elden. You were going so fast I nearly had to put my camera away!”
Yes, that’s right. I am now so freaking fast that I am almost able to force Brad out of his dawdle zone.
PS: By popular request, Brad’s photos. Here’s me, ahead of Rick for the first time in my life:
And here’s me, wearing my WaltWorks jersey while riding my SingleFly. Sorry, Walt! Sorry, Gary!
PPS: These are actually really good photos. Thanks for taking them, Brad.