Written by Jose Mendez Tuesday, 11 August 2015 14:57
The way I look at it, part of cycling is promoting the sport and encouraging others to grow within it. Sometimes, not always, it means getting dropped by the ones you encouraged early on. For me, this was one of those weekends.
I did not race this weekend – even if it felt like it. Instead, I took out my 15 year old son and some of his junior racing friends to ride up Ft. Mountain just east of Chatsworth, GA. The mountain pass provides a nice venue to ride a road bike up and over and over again, a great out and back, double whammy climb.
The west side of the mountain offers a nice 8 mile climb to the top with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s shallow enough that you can really power up most of it. The back side on the other hand has long 11% graded sections that seem to run forever up the 5.5 mile climb. It’s not a matter of “will I run out of gears?”, it’s just a matter of “when?”
So last Saturday I found myself taking out four juniors, none weighing more than a buck twenty, to do this ride as they prepared for the River Gorge race in TN a couple weeks down the road. The ride was great. A solid 14 mile warm up before hitting the climbs. Pleasant enough, but knowing the pain was soon to come. The kids are chomping at the bit waiting for the turn. The climb. I know where I stand in this group, but I am optimistic nonetheless.
Right before the turn my 15 yr old son tells me he is pulling off to work on his Stages power meter that is acting up. God forbid climbing that mountain with out the benefits of staring at your power!
We make the turn and off we go; everyone is off to the races. A hard tempo pace to warm up for the attacks to come. The road winds upward in fairly dense woods helping counter the sunshine with some nice humid shade.
I am feeling good and even take the lead at one point to pace the kids, keeping my posture relaxed, but solid as to not appear weak or in pain in front of the kids, even if I was ;) A mile goes by and everyone is still holding behind me. “Wow, I must be keeping a good hard pace” I thought to myself. That thought was dashed as all of a sudden, my son, who I had left at the base of the climb to work on his bike, zips by like I was standing still! Adding insult to injury all but one of the kids I had been pacing basically said goodbye and stormed around me to chase him down. It wasn’t more than a couple minutes before they were all out of site.
The sad but great part about it is that I am not slow. I still put in my 150-200 miles per week. I do intervals. I race Endurance mountain events at the Expert level. Now, I am not the fastest these days, but I'm not slow and consider myself to be a pretty decent climber. These kids are just so fast! They have been working hard for years now and it shows. They are now winning Cat 3 races and some even winning national level junior races. It is so incredible and exciting to see their progress. It is humbling for me but at the same time so fulfilling. I still remember when I put slicks on my then 12 year old son’s mountain bike so he could get some speed on the rails-to-trails path. Our big ride goal back then was to crack the 20 mile distance threshold, no matter how slow. Now, if we have average less than 21mph average for a 50 miler, it is disappointing. Lol.
So this post is not about a ride, it’s about a moment. The moment when you are reminded how much of a difference you can make in your children’s lives, other kids’ lives, and even other adults’ lives. Remember that and encourage someone to go ride. Take them out on a 5 mile ride. Then a 10 mile ride. You never know, you may be creating a cycling beast that will drop you soon enough. Getting dropped will never feel so good.
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