Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Filthy Several Hill Climb
When I was a kid, I saved up my money for a BMX bike, then entered a race at Rosedale Park. After, in the car on the way home, Mom asked me if I understood what a race was.
She might not have asked exactly that, but she was trying to figure out why I had just casually ridden through the course after the pack had dropped me like a bad habit right out of the gate.
I think I started out standing on it, mashing pedals, but by the time I'd gone maybe 50 or 75 feet, it was obvious that there wasn't just one of the slowest riders, I was absolutely, and by a wide margin the slowest rider.
Street Cred is a series of four informal races that combine to be Kansas City's alleycat title. More people turn out for Cranksgiving and for Pub N Pedal, with probably the majority of riders not bothering so much with the competition as with having fun and being social.
My personality and riding style haven't much changed since that BMX race in Rosedale Park circa 1980, but I figured I can get up any hill this city has to offer. I joked that I was competing for heaviest load, which is a category at Cranksgiving. I did have some home of being competitive in the overall Street Cred, with four races a lot of riders don't make it to all of them, and it's about total points. And the 12ºF weather, it stood to reason, would keep some riders out for week one, the 'Filthy Several Hill Climb.' If only two other guys showed up to climb, I could actually get third place points, right?
As I said, though, this isn't your average alleycat, this is the one people who care about such things really seem to take seriously, and about twenty riders showed up. We met at the Rosedale Arch, then went down to the bottom of the hill that leads up to the arch and raced to the top. I tried to stand up on the pedals and mash my best, and overextended my cardio capacity, had to stop and catch my breath. It's a terrible idea to stop when climbing a steep hill, I'd have done better to just granny gear the whole thing, which is what I did after my brief fit of gasping ice-cold air.
When I finally reached the top, they were getting ready to ride to the next hill, which was in Rosedale Park. They rode at a casual pace, chatting as they went, but these guys were all so much faster than me I couldn't even keep them in sight. Corinna held back a bit to connect me to the pack, but eventually that meant she lost sight, too, and I didn't know for sure which hill they were going to attack next but I thought it might be Puckett. I caught up with Jones at the top of Rosedale Park Drive, which leads down to Puckett, and he'd decided he'd had enough abuse. When I got to the bottom of Puckett, they were coming back down after climbing S. 8th Place from Seminary Road, which is at least as manic a hill as Puckett.
At this point I decided to bail. Corinna was having head injury symptoms that told her not to keep competing, my friend Phil who'd come along to watch was ready to move on, and I figured if I can't even keep up with the group going from hill to hill, there isn't much point.
I know it's the excess weight I'm carrying that is hindering me. My heavy bike doesn't help, the stuff I feel the need to carry (such as my Nikon), that doesn't help either. But I don't believe those things matter until I drop, say, 80 lbs off my body. Which is something I need to do anyway, for general health reasons, and I actually have something like a plan for how to start heading that way.
And I know that RAGBRAI, BikeMS, and just my commute to work will all go better as the weight comes off.