When it happens, it feels so good. So how about some stories? Hereís one to start.
First, a little background: Iím 60 years old, with a grand total of 8 months road biking experience. I love the fitness aspect of cycling and work hard to improve, one ride at a time. But how many times have I been really getting after it Ė cadence up, sweat dripping off my nose, heart rate pushing into the stratosphere - only to be humbled by some guy (or gal) passing me as if I were pedaling backwards? And theyíre not even breathing hard! Obviously they had a gear in their legs that I did not.
The Fort Roots Hill is a favorite training run Ė about a mile long with several switchbacks leading up a four hundred foot elevation gain. Though a modest climb by most standards, there have been many times I did not think I would live to see the top while creeping up in my granny gear. But ever so slowly I improved - to the point that I can now ride it a few gears higher, maintaining 9 to 12 mph along the way.
So one dayÖ when Iím about to make the turn up Fort Roots road, I noticed a much younger rider approaching from the opposite direction, about 100 yards away. He was outfitted like most of the young bucks Ė wearing a multi-colored jersey and riding a hot bike - obviously fresh off The Tour.
When I hit the second switchback into the climb, I heard a sound and turned to find this guy just off my rear wheel. We were now on the longest pitch of the hill, leading to a final sharp turn just before the top. I gritted my teeth and decided to give it my all, although I expected him to blow by me any second.
Breathing in gasps, I just concentrated on stroking the bike, my body too stressed to even glance behind. When I finally reached the top and looked back, I couldnít believe it - he was not in sight! I caught my breath, sipped water and was most of the way around the circular road at the top before he finally crested the hill.
At last - I was able to celebrate a small, quiet victory, unnoticed by the rest of the world - and know that at least on that day, I was the one who had the extra gear.