Wildcat Is MINE

05.15.2013 | 10:17 am

I don’t get angry easily, and I never remain angry long. I assume good motives on everyone’s part, occasionally past the point that I should. When someone argues with me, I’d much rather try to understand their point of view than persuade them of mine. I go out of my way to turn confrontation into consensus.

I am, in short, an easygoing person with a personable demeanor and — let’s face it — a heart of gold.

But don’t you dare try to take my Wildcat KOM on Strava, or I will show you the meaning of wrath.


It’s entirely possible that you don’t know what I’m talking about in that last paragraph. In which case I recommend you read a post I wrote some time ago, called “I Have Created a Monster.”  Just in case you can’t be bothered with that, though, here’s a quick description of Strava, which I have carefully and lovingly copied and pasted from my “Monster” post: 

A few months ago, my friends started using Strava a lot for their rides. (Strava is an online social network of people who upload their bike ride information from their GPSs, giving them the ability to compare how they’re doing against themselves and each other, as well as to comment on their friends’ rides. For more info, click here.)

Why? To compete against their own previous best times, sure, but also to compete against each other.

One of the features of Strava is that anyone can define what is called a “segment,” which is an arbitrary stretch of road or trail somewhere. Basically, you’re setting a start line, a finish line, and a route, and then giving it a name. Then, whenever someone rides that segment and uploads their ride to Strava, they can see how they’ve done against their previous efforts, as well as see where they stand on the all-time leaderboard.

In my history of using Strava, I have created only one segment — a little stretch of singletrack in Lambert Park, about a mile from where I live: the Wildcat Climb


It’s not a long climb: just 0.4 miles. The climbing profile looks like this:


That’s deceptively mild-looking, though, because the Wildcat Climb averages a 10.5% grade, and it never eases off. 

In short, it’s 0.4 miles of challenging non-technical singletrack climbing, right at one of the entrances to Lambert Park. 

Back in July of 2012, noticing that nobody else had defined a Strava segment for this trail, I went ahead and did it myself, simultaneously making myself king of my brand-new mountain, with a time of 2:43.

For many months, this KOM stood. And I was content.

The Wildcat Drama Begins

As you may have heard, I have been working just a little bit (ha) on losing weight and improving my speed this year. By the time the end of March rolled around I was down to 158 pounds, at least five pounds lighter than I was at the end of the racing season in 2012.

I thought it was time to see if I could improve on my Wildcat time. 

Taking out my Specialized Stumpjumper Single Speed (the S4, as I like to call it), I knocked out a fantastic, focused climbing effort. I didn’t know by how many seconds, but I was confident I had set a new personal record.

When I uploaded my GPS record to Strava, I found out I was right. 2:34. I had bested myself by nine seconds.

I had also — without knowing it — triggered a drama that I suspect has yet to entirely unfold.

Ryan Gets an Email

When you supplant a current KOM (or QOM) on a Strava segment leaderboard, the former king of that mountain gets notified that he has been deposed. That usually takes the form of an email starting with the subject line “Uh-oh!” 

Strava has a little bug, however. If the current KOM sets a new, faster time, the second-place person on the leaderboard gets one of those emails, telling them they have lost the KOM of a segment they never actually had. 

Depending on your personality, it can be a relief to discover you haven’t actually lost anything at all, or it can be a gentle reminder that your second-place is now even more second-ier. 

As it happens, Ryan B was the person who had been second on the Wildcat Climb leaderboard. And as it further happens, Ryan B works with The Hammer.

“So I was sitting in church yesterday and got an “Uh-oh” email on my phone,” he said, then went on to explain that he had seen my new-and-improved Wildcat Climb record. 

The Hammer was not sympathetic.

“Sounds to me like the thing you should do is go and see if you can take it back for real,” she taunted poor Ryan. Which is one of the top reasons why I love that woman so much.

Fatty Gets an Email, Then Ryan Gets an Email

If there has ever been a motivation for someone to go try to capture a KOM, Ryan had it. On April 3, I received an “Uh-oh” email of my own. I was no longer the King of the Wildcat Climb. Ryan had bested me by two seconds (if I recall correctly — I can’t look that far back in other people’s records).

This aggression will not stand, man,” I said, and — even though I had already been on a ride that day — I suited up and headed out, with one goal and one goal only:

To take back that which was mine. 

As I rode toward the I was a little worried about whether I would be able to beat Ryan’s time, I relied on one important fact: the last time I had gotten this segment, I had done it at the end of a long ride. This time, I’d be attacking it from the get-go.

Adrenaline surging exactly as much as if I were in an actual race — as opposed to being all by myself, trying to beat a guy who had no idea what I was up to — I attacked the Wildcat Climb, going so hard that by the time I reached the top, my chest was constricting painfully. 

I looked down at my bike computer. Had I beat Ryan’s time? I had no idea, because I had forgotten to look down at the computer at the beginning of the climb. 

I did a quick downhill loop and uploaded my effort to Strava, naming the ride “Hi, Ryan!” — a juvenile taunt befitting the juvenile thing I had just done.


The Wildcat Climb was mine again. The crown was home, back where it belonged. 

Fatty Gets Another Email, This One at an Unfortunate Moment

For a time, there was peace in the Kingdom of the Wildcat Climb. 

That peace was (alas!) destroyed on the afternoon of April 12 this year — The Hammer’s birthday — as The Hammer and I were driving to St. George for a training weekend. 

I got an email with a subject line of “Uh-Oh!” Someone with a ridiculous name — Stewdizzle Goodwizzle — had taken the KOM of my beloved Wildcat Climb.

No, wait. On further inspection, Goodwizzle had tied my best on the Wildcat Climb.

Share my kingdom? Share my kingdom?!  Never.

I had a new nemesis.

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about his treachery. Not while I was hundreds of miles away for the weekend. 

But Goodwizzle’s time would come. Oh yes, as soon as I was back and had rested from the weekend, I’d be reclaiming my throne. 

I hoped.

The Final Attack

On April 17, I made my assault. As I rode toward Lambert Park, my stomach turned somersaults. 2:25 was a good time. A fast time. I was not sure I had a better time in me.

But I did have one hope. One reason I thought I might be able to improve on my previous best. 

As I mentioned earlier, the last time I had attacked the Wildcat Climb, I had done it after having previously done a ride that day. My legs were already spent. 

This time, however, I’d be doing it fresh — the first climb of the ride. After a rest day. After weighing in at a new record low. 

By the time I hit the base of the climb, I was already at top speed. There would be no ramp-up this time. 

By the time I got to the halfway point, my legs hurt. As did my lungs. 

As did my soul.

And then my phone rang. It was The Hammer’s ringtone. She has an uncanny ability to sense when I am engaged in an all-out effort on my bike and call then. 

This time, she would have to wait. I would call back.

I weakened toward the top, with the final fifty feet a struggle to even turn over the cranks. 

I looked down at my computer. Had I done it? I thought so, but was not sure Strava is an enigmatic judge, sometimes giving gifts, and other times withholding them. 

I forced myself to continue riding, as opposed to going straight home and seeing how I did. 

And also, I returned The Hammer’s call. “Call me back when you’re not breathing so hard,” she said. So I went home and uploaded my GPS to Strava.

I had done the Wildcat Climb in 2:17, besting Stewdizzle’s — and my — best by eight seconds. 

The Unbearable Temporariness of Kingliness

And so, again, I am King of the Wildcat Climb. I have been for nearly a month. Which I think may in fact be my crowning lifetime achievement.

Which is why I am terrified of posting this story.

I know — yes, know! — that because I have written this story that Stewdizzle will amass his considerable strength and make an all-out attempt to make Wildcat Climb his own.

Or, worse: one of the locals who is genuinely fast — like, pro-fast — will see or hear about this and go stomp out a sub-two-minute time on this climb, moving it out of my reach forever and ever, reducing me to the status of former-king-in-exile, telling stories of my glory days.

Until, of course, I find a new, even more obscure, climbing section to obsess over on Strava.


  1. Comment by dug | 05.15.2013 | 10:26 am

    ““This aggression will not stand, man,””
    you mean NAKED aggression will not stand.

    when the pros come to down all bets are off. many shubs and zulls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a sloar that, er, wait. i mean many of us lost our top tens on AF and suncrest downhill segments on august 11 of 2012. weird that the pros had strava running during the tour of utah.

  2. Comment by Geo | 05.15.2013 | 10:34 am

    Set a Strava segment of your driveway. Then if anyone beats your time you can have them arrested for trespassing.

    (and I’ve avoided Strava because I’m not that fast and don’t want to know just how not fast I am)

  3. Comment by Tom in Albany | 05.15.2013 | 10:49 am

    I’m in the same boat as Geo. No Strava because “I can’t handle the truth!”

    And, a belated happy birthday to The Hammer. I’ll always remember her birthday now. She shares it with my 7 year old son!

  4. Comment by TK | 05.15.2013 | 10:52 am

    Yep, you can kiss Wildcat goodbye now that you’ve made it public. All the fast dudes at the top of the Clarks trail segment will probably be paying your segment a visit soon. R.I.P. King Fatty.

  5. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 05.15.2013 | 10:56 am

    I may have to break down and get all techie geared up (my old Cateye monitor still works just fine, however) so I can provide myself some motivation to get out there, instead of sitting here reading blogs. It does sound fun. Good rides, both of you!

  6. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 05.15.2013 | 11:11 am

    You forgot humble :)

  7. Comment by kyle. | 05.15.2013 | 12:00 pm

    those “someone is faster than you” emails are the worst. i don’t have any cycling kom’s, but i do have a few course records for runs.

    unfortunately one of them is on a path that is super popular for cycling so once a week or so i get an email that someone has beaten my time only it turns out they were riding and not running. over and over it happens.

  8. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.15.2013 | 12:12 pm

    For those of us in the ‘back of the peleton’ we look for our KOM’s where we can find them. Alas no strava alerts for segments in the 55-64 age category, but I’ll take a first where I can get it. http://app.strava.com/segments/764168 I’m 10:22 behind the KOM , but only 1:05 behind the QOM. Is there an age limit for Gender Reassignment Surgery? and should I tell Wife#1?

    Curse you Strava!

  9. Comment by Jacob | 05.15.2013 | 12:25 pm

    It’s pretty easy for me to keep my KOMs. I’m one of only three people in my area to even use the site and when I first started using it I went and attacked a couple of segments another user had created in the county. There’s a hill near the airport that has a 3% grade over a half mile and I beat his best time. He ended up deleting all of his data. No one has ever attempted any of my segments.

    Honestly, I wish there were segments within 90 miles of my house that are regularly ridden, but there aren’t.

  10. Comment by Jolene | 05.15.2013 | 12:31 pm

    I always thought Wildcat was built to be a downhill trail. Silly me. Have fun with your KOM!

    Wildcat’s fun both ways. – FC

  11. Comment by J | 05.15.2013 | 12:34 pm

    You are not alone FC. Many of us locally play around with trying to get to the KOM on segments. On tight single tracks that are near paved sections, those of us loose to those who ride the paved portions with a roadie. Talk about a demoralization!

  12. Comment by Drewskey | 05.15.2013 | 1:30 pm

    You can get more indepth with your obsession, Fatty.


    Wow. – FC

  13. Comment by bikemike | 05.15.2013 | 1:40 pm

    With your Hollywood connections you should contact George R.R. Martin. This story could be worked into an episode or chapter in A Game of Thrones.

  14. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.15.2013 | 1:57 pm

    @Drewskey You are a very BAD, BAD, BAD, MAN!!!!

    Thank you.

  15. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.15.2013 | 2:11 pm

    OK! Drewskey’s/Jonathanokeeffe’s app is the coolest thing EVER! No more work will be accomplished today!

  16. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.15.2013 | 4:45 pm

    I told you nothing would get done today. Elden have you seen this? I have no idea what it means, but you’re the analyst:

  17. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.15.2013 | 4:46 pm

    so there was no image??? try this:

  18. Comment by Lonster | 05.16.2013 | 7:20 am

    Strava gets interesting when the pros show up. Horner has 6 minutes on the next closest rider for Palomar.


  19. Comment by owen | 05.16.2013 | 12:15 pm

    Congrats Fatty for taking the KOM back. Do you always ride the same gearing on the S4 on this segment?

    My policy is to ride the same gearing on the S4 for the whole season. This year, that gear is 34 x 18. – FC

  20. Comment by NDE | 05.16.2013 | 3:25 pm

    For Garmin/Strava do you use the GarminSync.com site to auto transfer your data? I just got the Edge 510 with the cell phone auto upload combined with Garminsync, I don’t have to plug into the computer at all. Everything is loaded to both sites right after I complete the ride.

    No, I just upload straight to Strava. What you’re describing with the 510 sounds really cool, though — in fact, you just put forth the first interesting argument I’ve heard for upgrading from my 500. – FC

  21. Comment by Matthew | 05.19.2013 | 10:28 pm

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just see your segment results as you rode them?

  22. Comment by Lonnie Thaler | 05.25.2013 | 7:26 am

    Hi FC,

    I like Strava but a friend cyclist told me that Strava interest starts high, peaks quickly, and then plummets. I think I’m in the peak stage right now. I wish I can maintain my interest.

  23. Comment by Stewart Goodwin (aka Goodwizzle) | 05.28.2013 | 1:00 pm

    Great Post. This segment amassed a lot of talk between Ryan and I. A fun challenge. It’s been a while since I’ve been out to Lambert…


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