I used to be a lot heavier....330 at my heaviest (late December 2007). Now I am 253...lots of gym work outs, cutting back on food and riding. Anyway, I was doing the ride around Lake Tahoe ("America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride") early this month...72 mile loop. I trained pretty well for it...lots of hills and long rides. But I was still around the 260 mark weight wise. It was my first time riding this event but my boss had some friends that do the ride every year for like the last 7 years. It was my boss' first time also.
Anyway, we show up in the morning to meet the crew and I have my cold weather gear on (I'm allergic to cold so even with antihistamines I can't take too many chances). They are all in their sleek stylish kits and look at me like I just got off the short bus. Anyway, while I am talking to one of my co-workers who was also making her maiden voyage, one of my boss' friends motions at us and says to him quietly, "I really want to ride today, we don't have to hang back with these guys do we?" My boss said, "Well, the lady there does ok but you will drop her on the hills, she's not too strong on climbs. But that guy over there (referring to me) is a strong rider. Don't worry about him." The guy replied, "No ******** way, no way someone that big can be a really strong rider." My boss said, "Trust me, I have ridden with him a lot and he can ride!" The guy repeated his skepticism. I didn't hear any of this...my boss told me afterwards.
So we start riding and I am sticking with them no problem. Climbs start....no problem. Shed some clothes at the first drop site and hit the road again this time with the guy who said the stuff. We chat (seems like a good guy) and keep riding together. I kept hearing about some "tough climbs" like "Spooner" but they were a piece of cake compared to what I had been training on.
I ride with a group of the better riders, just staying behind them and cruising. They keep looking back over their shoulder and they seem shocked each time I am right there. A few of them fall behind as we keep riding. After 60 miles it's just me and this guy....cruising along chatting and enjoying the beautiful views. My boss catches up for a brief time but he soon drops back again. Then at around mile 66 there is a slight down hill straight away and I realized that the end of the ride is coming soon. I turn to the guy and said, "hey do you mind if I just blow out some carbon here?" He says, "Go for it!" So I kicked it into the highest gear and just went balls to the walls. I was flying just passing people like they were standing still. Came to a long light and the guy finally caught up with me. We rode from that point in and were the first to finish among the group.
After the ride there was a lunch buffet so we were all hanging out and having a good time. I went to go to the rest room and this guy just looks over at my boss and shakes his head. My boss knows what he is going to say so he jumps in, "I told you he could ride!" The guy said, "you weren't joking, he's amazing." When I returned to the table I gathered up my family who met me at the finish and we were getting ready to leave when this guy says, "Hey Todd, are you going to ride the Marin Century in August?" I told him I had to check because I might be on a camping trip that weekend with some other families. He said, "Man I sure hope you can make it, it was great riding with you today."
He wasn't a bad guy at all. He just jumped to conclusions based on how I looked and how I was dressed. We all do it to some extent at different points in our lives. But it still was sweet changing this guys world view.
The thing I also continue to get surprised by and then delighted by, is how pissed off "serious" riders get when I pass their butts on these organized rides. Some try to tough it out and pass me but they can't hang. It surprises me I guess because I am not there to battle other folks for bragging rights or some kind of make believe competition. I'm riding for, and at times racing against, myself. I usually forget I am a Clyde, until I pass some wafer thin guy on a $5,000 bike and they get tweaked. I will say that riding my bike with 77 less pounds on board makes things MUCH easier. No 'under carriage' to bounce my knees off with every pedal stroke. I highly recommend it!