Tag Archives: Kings Mountain

Marcus- nice guy or cruel sadist?

I had expectations of a kinder, gentler ride this morning. Why not? It was Thursday (and Thursday rides are supposed to be easier-paced than Tuesdays), Kevin (my son, not the pilot) was home with a cold, and at the start of the ride, it’s just me, Eric, Karl & Mike, picking up Marcus along the way and Millo further up the hill. The dynamics of the group are such that Marcus and either Karl or Mike might key off each other and bolt up the hill, so I did have some understandable fear & trepidation.

Since it’s a Thursday we did the through-the-park option, delayed slightly by the bottom gate being closed, requiring a dismount & squeeze (not for everyone though; don’t remember, might have been Marcus that deftly squeezed through the narrow spot to the right of the gate without getting off his bike). It was a moderate pace to the upper park entrance, just a few seconds over 10 minutes (by contrast, it takes 7:45-9:00 minutes the “normal” way). We quickly regrouped and were off again, this time with me sitting on Marcus’s wheel. Why? Good question. Partly defensive; if I’m on his wheel, someone faster isn’t, so there’s less incentive for him to really push the pace. Nevertheless we gradually pulled away, with me wondering how long I could hang with him before blowing up.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Marcus rides very smoothly, and if he’s not trying to ditch you, and notices you’re falling off a bit, he doesn’t just sit up and wait, but instead slows down just a bit, allowing you to claw your way back up to him at your own speed. You could say he’s allowing you to perfect your Levi skills (Levi Leipheimer is known for getting dropped during hard accelerations on steep grades, but instead of becoming discouraged or working too hard and blowing up, he grinds away at a sustainable pace and catches up to those who dropped him. This works because the hard accelerations that allowed the other guys to drop him also put them into their reserves so deeply that they have to slow down and recover).

In the end my time was 28:16, which if I extrapolate for the normal route up the hill, would have been a darned good time. Could not have happened without Marcus (and the new, lighter me probably helps a bit too). –Mike–

Big group on the Tuesday ride

Big group at Old LaHonda & Skyline. Left to right, Kevin J, Mike (not me), Kevin S, Chris, Eric, George, Karen, Todd, Marcus, Mike (not me again) & Karl. Missing (turned off earlier) is Jim.

So now I go to bed the night before the Tuesday/Thursday ride wondering how badly I’m going to get beat up… by my son. I knew this was coming, but I didn’t realize how rapidly he would progress. It was only a couple months ago (literally) that Kevin finally broke 30 minutes up Kings and could actually ride with our group without holding us up. And now, he can squeeze off a 26-something time more reliably than I can.

But today I never got to find out how badly he might beat me. Maybe a quarter mile before the start of the climb, one of my two computers came off the handlebar, without me noticing, but Karl let me know he’d seen if fly off and hit the side of the road. OK… I briefly considered whether it was worth sacrificing the climb for a computer… maybe it would still be there when I got back… but it might be tough figuring out exactly where it had landed later, so I watched the others head on up the hill while I made a u-turn and retrieved the computer. Did anyone offer to stay behind and ride up with me? Er, no, but Chris was a late arrival and was coming up behind, trying to catch the group. Yeah, sure, I can just have Chris pace me back up the hill. Right. For about 100 meters or so, and then he vanished. Poof. Gone. Didn’t see him again until the top of the hill.

Eventually I did catch up to Kevin, Todd & Karl. Yes, Karl, who’s recovering nicely from his latest collarbone/clavicle issue. They had been soft-pedaling for a while, actually having conversations, while my lungs are searching for every available atom of oxygen (I was going to say “molecule of air” but is air a molecule? Apparently yes.) I was dying; probably 27:20 or so, a lot of time to be thinking about everybody else already well ahead of me, riding faster, finishing soon.

Very big group this morning. 12 at least, given that there are 11 in the photo plus me, and there might have been one guy who turned off before then (yes, there was one more, Jim I think). A bit foggy at the top, fairly cool, and just damp enough to give me the creeps descending (Kevin doesn’t seem to have such trouble, but then Kevin doesn’t have the years of experience descending that I have, some of those descents ending up on my side instead of my wheels).

For the final sprint it was all Chris. Kevin wasn’t anywhere in sight; obviously, it’s time I get him back to sprinting again (since maybe emphasizing sprinting will slow him down on the climbs).