Last spring, the first time Steve and I did a real ride together, we climbed up the south side of Suncrest. I was able to hang with him all the way up (he may have let me), and then when we pushed it at the top, I managed to pull away. As the season progressed, we traded blows, but he had the advantage more often than not—especially when it counted—dropping me en route to wins at Little Mountain and Tour of Park City, and a runner up at Lotoja. I outpaced him at Leadville, but he doesn’t even own a mountain bike, so I’m not sure if that one counts.
We’ll see if it’s even close this season. Yesterday we pre-rode the course for the Bikes 4 Kids circuit race, which includes a four mile climb from Daybreak to the entrance of Kennecott. He was at the top—relaxed and with his foot on the ground—by the time I got there. I can’t be certain, but he may have prepared and eaten a peanut butter sandwich while he waited.
For now, I’m going to pretend that I was just having a bad day. I’m going to pretend that since Steve loses weight in winter but gains it during cycling season while I do the opposite, that these things will balance out. I’m going to pretend that things could shake out differently in an actual race environment, even though I know that on race day Steve summons the Eye of the Tiger better than any racer I’ve competed against. In other words, I’m going to delude myself into thinking that the starving, suffering, and sweating I’m just starting to endure will eventually bear fruit.
After yesterday’s ride, I came home and watched coverage of Milan San Remo. I saw Cavendish suffer as he dangled at the back on the Cipressa climb before the final thread snapped and he knew he wouldn’t catch back on. I like to think that I know that feeling. I’m just hoping I also come to experience the feeling of redemption he had to have had today when he took the stage at Catalunya.
Yes, I realize that it’s exceptionally lame to compare one’s self with a professional athlete, especially one of Mark Cavendish’s caliber. I can’t help it. Cavendish gets dropped on a lot of climbs. I can relate to that. He also wins a lot. That gives me hope. And if we don’t have elusive hope, what have we got?