Thursday, June 16, 2011

Humility... best served with a smile

River Road, just outside of NYC
A few days ago, I managed to get out of work early and decided to go for a threshold workout up 9W. (Around NYC, 9W is a great road to do an extended workout on because it is slightly uphill from the city and has essentially no traffic stops for 15 miles or so.) I was excited to get a good workout in... the weather was nice and I was feeling good. I figured my legs would be up for a good thrashing and I obliged. After 30 minutes at threshold, I was happy with my effort and turned around to come back home.

On the way back down 9W, an older cyclist (white hair, probably around 60 or so) pulls onto the road from a driveway riding a beautiful steel bike. I was already at speed at this point so I pass him and just keep going. I wasn't going that fast... maybe around 19mph or so. Soon after the pass, I hear his rear cog freewheeling behind me so I know he's caught my back wheel.

Feeling good about myself and wanting to test my legs a little more, I thought "Okay, that's fine. Let's see if I can drop him." So I start pushing the pace a bit. We're on a flat section as I increase my cadence and the speed rises to 22mph. He's still there.
23mph. Still there.
24mph. Still there.

We hit a slight downhill and build up to 30mph but he's hanging tough. At this point, I'm getting the sense that he's stronger than I anticipated. But I'm enjoying the challenge... and admittedly my ego goads me on. We hit a few rollers and on every incline, I press the pace to see if I can dislodge him. But he's persistent. Finally, after about 8 miles of this, I'm starting to tire out and I slow down. At which point he pulls up, says with a friendly grin "I'm a little better than you thought I was, eh?" and goes on his way.

That's what I get for feeling good about my workout and a little cocky about my legs. Humility served with a smile by a friendly cyclist on 9W. At least he was nice about it. Lessons learned:
- It is highly likely that older cyclists who ride immaculately maintained vintage steel frames will kick my ass.
- I may be stronger than I was last year... but I'm not as strong as I'd like to be.

Now where's my lanterne rouge jersey?....

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