Sunday, August 7, 2011

Eatin' some humble pie on GMR...

So, last weekend I recounted how I had a seemingly especial good day while climbing Glendora Mountain Road. Looking to duplicate that, I hit the road up again yesterday morning; the ten mile or so ride over to the bottom of GMR had gone well, so I was looking forward to a good climb, though with limited time, I knew the ridge saddle would be my turn around. Shorter than I would like, but at least it is the steepest part of the climb. At the first ramp up, by the Forest Service station, I passed one rider and easily came up behind another; at that point we had topped the ramp just past Dalton Canyon, and I figured I would back off and wait for the real climbing to commence. Strategy. Yes, this is how I think when I ride on days like these. Competition. Trying to predict what may happen up ahead. Looking for any advantage. Whether the competition is real or imagined, if you are up the road on me, the race is on.

Segue for just a minute now for some context; this second rider I had come up behind looked more like a football player (an in-shape footballer, not one of those overweight ones), or body builder. Maybe even a track racer. Big, muscular upper body, not just filling out the jersey, but looking to burst the seams. Clear enough? 

Anyway, somewhere around the big yellow gate, or the forest boundary, he markedly slowed, and I couldn't help but catch and pass. He gave me a bit of a surprise by grabbing my wheel right away; he was really breathing heavily at this point, so I guessed he was riding at near maximum and I applied a little more pressure to the pedals to shake him. Didn't work, he was still there. We make the 180º at the bottom of Monroe Truck Trail (MTT) and I get my second surprise - he comes around. I think, "alright, I'll play along", and I let him get a little gap, knowing that I could close it down at any time. We continued along upward through the switchbacks in the same order, passing a handful of other riders, and those first fingers of doubt started tickling my brain. I couldn't close the gap. Not only that, but he was slowly pulling away. My hope now was that he was overextending himself and would blow up at any time. How could this be happening; I was climbing well, but falling away regardless. Damn. By the time I reached the Kevin Unck memorial, I knew there was no chance of coming to terms before reaching the saddle. Approaching the pine trees, marking the spot of my turn around, I had a good view up the road where I could watch him motor past a couple more riders and disappear around a bend in the road, view obscured by some high growing brush and trees.

I have more than enough experience to realize that you should never underestimate someone's ability, but  carelessly forgot that lesson today. So, hats off to you, who ever you were. Good effort.

1 comment:

  1. Great story. Sometimes you feel invincible and can back it up with performance. Other times your feel invincible, and maybe a little cocky, and there is some one there to bring you back. To humble you.


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