Christmas, Winter and the Five Per Cent
There was no cycling over Christmas other than two outings with Titanium Man – more on that later. Actually there was some other cycling – cycling from one table to the next, each a groaning board of delights. I now need not carry a spare tyre, I have one that is self-installed. The remaining holidays after Christmas were spent at the cottage, hewing wood and drawing water.
Christmas brought a few cycling-related items. A clock of note is made of recycled bike parts – the clock face is manufactured from a chain rings and the pendulum is a rear cog. There was also the book The Eagle of Toldeo, The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes by Alasdair Fotheringham. Per the cover and according to Eddy Merckx, Bahamontes was “one of the greatest cyclists ever”, possibly “the greatest climber in cycling history”. I’ll know more after I’ve had a chance to dip into it.
Back to Titanium Man. My first outing with him this year was at the last year’s default pace. We rode my favourite route (Tory Hill to Paudash Lake). I came out of it soaked in sweat, exhausted but happy – I had handily beaten the brute. There was a feeling of great self-satisfaction.
For our second outing I gave him a break, or rather I gave him a few extra watts. Our course was a bit shorter but harder with sharper hills both up and down. He was merciless. A couple of times I managed to build a lead of over 50 metres, and then on a benign downhill slope he would sneak up from behind and shoot past me. I didn’t even hear him coming. In the end I prevailed by less than 3 seconds, but only with extensive standing and by burning myself up.
The point of this is that the difference between the first and second ride was not significant – it amounted to little more than a five per cent increase in wattage. And that, apparently, is the advantage a doping cyclist has over a clean one. It is the difference between leading at the front of the pack and being stuck the middle. Five per cent didn’t sound like much until I tried riding it. Here’s some “Respect!” for those middling but clean riders.