Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Climbers are jerks. That's what I'm told, at least.

Riding a bicycle, you can be fast in three ways: You can be a sprinter, which means you can go extremely, explosively fast for 30 seconds or less. There are time trialists, pursuit riders, and roleurs, all slight variations on folks who can go very quickly in a straight, consistent line for a long time.

There's also Paolo Savoldelli, who can go exceedingly fast down hills, but we'll ignore that singularity for the moment.

Then there are Climbers. Climbers go up hills fast.

Climbers make everybody mad.

Every group ride I go on, somebody calls me a jerk. It's not my fault, I promise!

Caveat Lector: There are lots of faster climbers in the world than yours truly. If they would come on some group rides with me, it would make my life a lot easier. Doug?

99% of any ride, a sprinter is not sprinting. When they do, they blow by you like you're standing still for 30 seconds, and then it's over.

When a flat-course fast guy starts going fast, unless the differences in power are absolutely enormous or he's going completely flat out for a long time, the benefits of drafting means you can just stay on his wheel. When the very fit guy that shows up for the flat rides on his super-aero racing recumbent and pins it at 50-some kilometers and hour, I'm just hanging onto the wheel, as they say.

But going up hills is hard. It's hard for everyone, but for some people it's hard faster than others.

Hills (to speak nothing of mountains) are the great equalizer among riders. It takes exponentially more power to defy gravity, and the advantage of drafting becomes almost nothing at the speeds you're talking. While once you were just chatting along doing 30, 35 kilometers an hour, now you're eyeballs are exploding out of your toes and you're doing 20 or less.

If you're the fastest at going up a hill in your group, you have two choices when you get to a hill. You could blow everyone away, so by the time they get to the top you're already chilling out, recovered, eating some fig newtons or something. Then they call you a jerk. Or, you can hold back, ride the same speed as they do. That means their eyeballs are exploding, and yours aren't, and then they'll call you a jerk.

The only way to not be called a jerk is to fake something. Anything is fine -- maybe you think you have a tyre going down. Maybe you've dropped a bottle. Anything to make sure you're well down the hill from them, and then you have to catch them up. It's still a show of force, but at least it's from the back, and you're tired by the time you get up there. If you start acting like you're hurting when you're not, well,

That only works once.

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