Climber?

The local hammerhead ride down here is called the Destroyer. Strong riders pound away for around 40 miles and try to grind everyone in their wake into red smears on the pavement. It's not an explosive ride. People don't throw long range attacks, charge the "hills", or otherwise make large efforts in the middle of the ride. The heavy influence of triathletes in the area have shaped it (and most other rides) into a more steady-state affair.

That's perfectly fine with me. This is their show and I'm just happy to tag along. Every group ride is pushing me to hold on a little longer, fight just that little bit more to resist the incessant pounding they're throwing down. Maybe I'm getting stronger by hanging on. Maybe I'm doing irreparable damage to my muscular systems. I'm not too bright, so I just don't know.

I've done three rides with the group. The first was a rainy affair that was lightly attended because of all of the lightning and thunder crashing around the vicinity. Not being too bright and wanting to test out my new titanium lightning rod, I fell into line with the couple guys brave (stupid) enough to ride. As it turned out, we only saw a little rain and nobody got fried. The rain cooled me considerably, and apparently it allowed me to ride better than I had been. I was having a blast, and unintentionally dropped the other guys a few times on the rollers that make up the middle of the route. They killed me on the flats, but I had them on the 50' cols of Southern Mississippi.

The second ride was an unofficial training ride, and the big guns put the spurs to me. The only way I could finish was to drop to the back of the pack and wheel-suck. I felt bad about not pitching in, but between my sinus infection and the heat/humidity, I couldn't take a meaningful pull. I was out of my league, and was glad they didn't dump me in a bayou somewhere.

The third ride was another lightly-attended affair, as the triathletes were all tapering for a big weekend of races. The ride leader greeted me and said, "I hear you're a big climber".

Um.

If you mean I'm a fat guy who climbs hills slowly, then yes, I'm a big climber.

If you mean a good climber, with actual ability when it comes to climbing hills rapidly, then no. Everyone in Anchorage drops me on Potter Valley or any other climb of note. Fatty is not a climber.

When we got to the rollers, I threw in a dig. They dropped back, flailing wildly out of the saddle. I sat up at the top, and we regrouped. Each hill was the same. I could up the cadence a bit and breeze by. Then I got cocky and went too far, cramping up at the top. I paid for that for the remainder of the ride. Served me right.

As it was well past dark, I bailed a little early to take a shorter route home and cry alone. My trusty Walmart Coke machine served me well again on the way back, providing the little bit of kick I needed to do the last five miles.

So, now I'm a climber. That makes me giggle.

This week, when the triathletes come back from wherever it is they do whatever it is they do, I probably won't attack. I'll probably be chewing on my stem or in a ditch by the side of the road. The ride will return to its normal steady-state of pain and attrition.

It's their show.

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