The chase

February 9, 2015 § 23 Comments

I showed up for the Sunday Wheatgrass Ride. There were a lot of people, and I was tired. When we hit the bottom of the reservoir climb Dutchie attacked and then shelled himself. Chatty Cathy took a hard pull. Uglyfoot took a hard pull. Aston Martin took a hard pull. I sucked wheel and suffered.

We crested the climb and not many people were left. We descended and then started the Better Homes climb. Aston Martin hit it again, followed by Uglyfoot, who was raging. I sucked some more wheel, along with Strava Jr., who’d also been sucking wheel the whole time, but unlike me he was waiting to pounce.

He did and shed everyone except for me and Uglyfoot. They took turns beating me up, then flicking me to come through, but I refused. Before the final bend up to the Domes I cracked. My legs really hurt.

Instead of waiting for the wankoton I descended and headed home. I was too tired for coffee and it was a cold, overcast morning, very humid and gray.

Up the bump past Terranea a tri-dork sprunted by me, then melted. I passed him out of pride, pedaling harder than I wanted to pedal. I turned right at Hawthorne, hoping he wouldn’t follow me. The last thing I wanted was a 2-mile uphill battle. I wanted to go easy and finish the ride.

Hawthorne is long but not too steep except for a brief bump at the beginning, after which it becomes a false flat, and then a steep wall section. After the short wall it turns into an easier grade, but you’ve been climbing for a long way so it doesn’t seem that much easier.

As I hit the false flat I saw a guy some way up ahead. “I won’t even have to speed up to catch him,” I told myself as I slightly sped up. I admit I was going slow and I was tired.

He got closer, but after a while I realized that he was going at a pretty fast pace, so I upped it a bit. And sure, it was not very fast. But still … About a hundred yards or so before we hit the wall he had ten seconds on me. Not like I was timing him or anything.

Ahead of him was a rider in a blue jersey, flappy pants, and tri-bars. The guy I was chasing — Andrew was his name as I found out later — pulled away from me as the road kicked up. I couldn’t believe it.

Then, he overtook Flappy Pants and blew by him. My jaw was scraping the pavement.

I got out of the saddle and started pushing it. He had eighteen seconds on me now, and at the next checkpoint he had twenty-five. He’d opened the gap easier than a can of beer. Sure, I was tired, and sure, I wasn’t going very fast, but still … are you kidding me?

I flew by Flappy Pants and rounded the curve, stomped the pedals over the last part of the little wall and hit the rolling section. Now that I had a head of steam going and the wall was past there was no way that Andrew would hold me off. I slammed it into the big ring and chased him down, chewing up the gap in no time at all.

I pulled up next to him, breathing hard. “Dude,” I said, “that’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been chasing you for over a mile.”

He smiled. “Practice, he said.” He was breathing hard, his arms swinging easily and efficiently by his side, but he never slowed his powerful stride as his running shoes kept up their relentless tattoo on the asphalt.



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§ 23 Responses to The chase

  • Runners Kick'n Riders Ass says:

    Good Lord! He was on foot??? Man, that could drive a guy to drinking…

  • Paul Tober says:

    Very funny.

    Similar story: Years ago riding the Terrible Two I was climbing Ft. Ross Rd. up from the coast, a gnarly, narrow, rough, damp 15 – 20% outrage that comes at about 160 miles. I was winching myself up this in 30×26 when I started hearing footsteps behind me. Soon I was passed by another cyclist walking and pushing his bike.

    At least he could not claim to have ridden the TT.

  • Serge Issakov says:

    Ha ha ha! Reminds me of the time I led the La Jolla Half Marathon in 1985. The cyclist’s job is simple: know the route and stay a bit ahead of the lead runner so he didn’t have to worry about route finding. The hardest part was going slow enough to not ride away from these guys. However the route went up Torrey Pines grade, inside the park. This used to be the only road between SmellA and San Diego. In the visitor center they have a photo of a car going backwards up the hill in the 1920s, because the only gear on the car low enough to make it up the steep parts was reverse. But as we started the climb it didn’t occur to me that there might be an issue since it had been so easy to stay ahead up until then. I just kept riding and holding the gap where it needed to be. However it kicks up to 14% or so right away and at some point I noticed I had to push pretty hard to hold their uphill pace. About halfway up I was really struggling and had to stand up. As we approached the crest the footsteps kept getting louder and I could do nothing about it. He passed me and the spectators loved it. They cheered even louder. A race within a race! Italvega vs Nike. I panicked. My job was to stay ahead! And he was pulling away! At this point if you or Brian Williams was giving the account you would add that spectators started running alongside me and pushing. At any rate, the humiliation was shortlived – 10 or 20 seconds – but apparently I’ll never forget it.

    • fsethd says:

      When the grade kicks up, great runners can put you in the box. In my case, I was also being strafed by jihadists.

  • bejoneses says:

    Would it have been easier if he was on an E-bike?

  • Schincat says:

    Had this happen on my mountain bike a couple of months ago. I passed an Ethiopian runner while descending on my way back to Sullivan from the hub. I did not give it a second thought. Then I started up the last climb and this guy runs past me like I am standing still. Finally I caught him on the downhill heading toward the Nike station. I asked him if he was a world class runner and indeed he was and he ran for the prestigious Santa Monica Track Club. I am still amazed at how fast he could run.

    • fsethd says:

      When the runner passes the bicyclist, the “Are you a world class runner?” question pretty much answers itself! There’s a guy here in PV who I call “Rocket.” He is blindingly fast.

  • Michelle Landes says:

    Have you seen the club-Ed group run up zumaya at a 5:45 pace Unreal!

    • fsethd says:

      No, but I’ve had to match pace with one of those guys. They will put you in the hurt box and leave you there.

  • A-Trav says:

    Ha! Those runners are cray-cray. Ever seen the old Asian cat that runs up and down Stunt and Piuma barefoot? Not completely crazy, though.
    He carries his shoes for later in the day when the pavement gets hot.

  • CX stories are so cool! Thanks.

    I’m just glad you didn’t pass someone and then peel off the route. You know, and not give the guy a chance to respond.

  • Steve says:

    I had a similar experience on San Vicente, the mecca of slow runners training for the LA Marathon. I rounded the corner from 26th and said to my buddy “running is stupid” as we were about to pass a dude running with traffic in the bike lane.

    And then we realized we were going 15mph and werent catching up to him. He barely looked like he was working.

    Needless to say I had to scrape my jaw off of the pavement.

  • channel_zero says:

    Long ago, absolutely destroyed by a woman (!!!) running while my group was riding up the Mount Wilson toll road.

    We passed each other on the lower parts, but she held her pace while my group just flailed a bit, stopped, then flailed a bit. We got progressively slower, she didn’t.


  • Dan K says:

    It’s crazy how long I can put myself in the hurt locker running (at least 45-50 minutes, maybe longer) vs. cycling(10?). If I could figured out how to transition the mental toughness to cycling, I’d be happy.


  • LesB says:

    I’ve never been up against a pedestrian, but I wonder how I’d do vs that unicyclist I saw coming down Vigilance Dr. one time.

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