Friday, July 3, 2009

On the rivet

There’s nothing quite like being the focus of a blog post read by 15,000 readers a day to apply a bit of pressure. Especially when that post declares in no uncertain terms that beating me is the objective at the weekly Alpine Loop ride, and probably every other ride in between.

It started out innocently enough. I had mentioned before that one of my goals was to make it from the fee booth to the summit in under an hour. Fatty asked me as the ride began whether I planned on trying for that today. “No,” I said, “I don’t have any ambitions of going hard this morning.”

That being said, I wasn’t going to back down, either, since Steve and, as of last Tuesday, Elden are pretty much the only people in the entire world that I care about beating. I figured we’d take it pretty mellow since Steve’s friend Matt was running late but could catch us if we didn’t go too hard.

Matt never caught us. Elden set a pace that can best be described as blistering. At first I thought, this is quick, but that’s OK. Then when we saw Chad and Chris on the side of the road changing a flat, I was glad to stop and have a breather. Back on, and we were at it again. I was in the pain cave and wanted desperately to get out. Elden and Steve were just riding and chatting with no indication that they were hurting. This was not going to be sustainable.

Then, just after Pine Hollow, Elden sat up and said “I can’t keep this up today. Or any other day for that matter.” I was relieved. I suspected he had gone out hard in an effort to break me. I thought he didn’t know how close he was to succeeding. I relaxed a little but kept up the pressure.

Two minutes later, though, Elden was back on. I can sustain a heart rate of 165 for as long as I need to. 175 is painful, but I can hold it for short periods. I was at or over 180 most of the last several miles.

With a mile and a half left, I was nearly done. I decided I’d hang on for another half mile, and if Steve and Elden were still pushing it, I was letting them go. When that half mile was up, Elden was clearly suffering. I rode past him and up next to Steve. He was breathing as hard as I was. I never hear Steve breathe.

I knew we had beat each other up and we were all on the rivet. I maintained my tempo and slowly rode away from Elden. Any sprinting to the summit would begin well after mile marker 18 (half mile to go). It came and went. When I thought we had about 100 meters left, I could tell Steve was hurting, so I dropped two gears and went. I read the landmarks wrong—we had 200 meters to go, and I was consumed. Steve easily overtook me.

At the top, Steve asked me if I’d timed the ride from the fee booth. I hadn’t. “Well I have a moving time of 1:02 from my car.” He parked at least two minutes and probably three or four from the fee booth. It’s not an official time, though, especially since we stopped to talk to Chad and Chris. Trouble is, as much as it hurt, I’m reconsidering whether I want an official time.

Matt caught us a few minutes after we got to the summit. I’m really, really glad he wasn’t in the mix for fear of how much worse it may have been. Scott had the maturity to let us fight it out, and he rode his own pace but made it up by blitzing the downhill in a way that would make Dug proud. I would seriously love to see those two start the descent with the pros when the tour of Utah rolls through and see who gets to the bottom first. My money would be on Dug and Scott.

I don’t think, however, that Scott realized the importance of the sprint to the fee booth, as he led the entire descent. Steve and I both wanted to make up for Dug and Elden beating us last week and used Scott as our leadout. Steve may have taken the KOM points on the day, but I won the green jersey. And green is, after all, the new yellow.

Ski Bike Junkie 1-0 Fat Cyclist

(Not that anyone’s keeping score.)


  1. Sounds like I picked a good day to sleep in and miss the Alpine Loop ride (as if I'm a contender). Nah, even slow and last the Alpine Loop is worth the early morning wake up. It's been a rough week for me and I need to catch up on some sleep this morning. My sights are set on next Friday.

  2. four more pounds, man. four more pounds.

  3. Mark,
    First it was nice to meet you and Steve. Always good to see FC. I'm a daily reader. Good to put a face to the name. And yes your calves are monsters.

    Second, I timed you talking to us for a good 7 minutes. You must have FLOWN up the mountain.

  4. My best Alpine Loop time is 1 hour 6 minutes and I'm positive you did it faster - had to be sub 1 hour.

    MOCougFan - go check my blog, I've got a photo of you from last week.

  5. Nice job. I just watched Elden's little movie and it's a beautiful climb. What's the length and average gradient?

  6. Kris, outside chance I'm racing Saturday and will skip this week.

    Fatty, you aren't the only one who can diet.

    MOCougFan, 1:02 was moving time--doesn't count the stop. Wish we could go that fast.

    Groover, I think it's about 11 miles @ 6% or so--a little below 6% for the first half, a little above for the second. There are spots where it's 8 or 9%, but nothing too terribly steep.