Land of the Diesel.

If I had to characterize the Gulf Coast cyclist, I'd say they can just grind out the miles.

I know a lot of riders that can ride me off their wheels. Chug, chug, chug... and pop! I'm off the back. I realized a few years ago, after years of fruitless flailing, that of all the road cycling disciplines, time trialing only trails climbing as something I'm not suited for. Maybe it's lack of slow-twitch muscle. Maybe it's lack of willpower. Doesn't matter. I suck at it. I stopped doing countless extended efforts at or above functional threshold, which made me suck at time trialing more. I did just enough to keep myself somewhere in the middle of the pack during stage races, then focused on making myself a mediocre sprinter. For me the math added up. Beats being a crappy diesel.

The riders down here, robbed of anything taller to climb than an overpass and surrounded by vile salt water and sand, generally become triathletes. Triathletes generally work on steady-state efforts. Work on them long enough, and those efforts can get really fast. Not really explosive power, but extended power. Lots and lots of extended power.

If you can keep up and wheel suck, usually sprinting around stronger triathletes isn't hard. Until they figure out your strategy and grind you off their wheel long before the finish. Being triathletes, it takes a while to sink in, but eventually they catch on.

I climb better than the triathletes down here. Guys with 0.2% body fat and lean, rippling muscles should be able to tear up the whopping 300' of vertical they might encounter on a 50 mile ride. Instead, I ride right by them. Fatty shouldn't be able to do that. Everyone climbs better than I do in Anchorage. Then again, what they consider a climb around here Anchorage riders consider a false flat. In all fairness, what Anchorage riders would consider a death slog through liquid air in blast furnaces riders down here consider a very pleasant day, so there's that. Environment certainly influences what kind of rider you develop into. The culture that is influenced by environment (among other things) plays a large part as well.

If I just hang with these guys while I'm down here, my diesel will get better. It can't possibly get worse. My top end will suffer, but I have the entire winter to rebuild it. Base miles are what I'm getting down here, and a lot of them. This week was the least amount of mileage I've done since getting here, and it still was over 250 miles (in 5 days of riding). Next week will likely trump that by a wide margin. I will get faster.
This is something that I should have done last fall/winter, but didn't have the discipline for. I prefer short, intense pain over extended suffering. I just don't have the attention span required. Group suffering helps, because at least I can try not to avoid public humiliation. Doesn't always work, though. 


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