Apparently there’s rumor floating about that I am the best draft in the cycling peloton. As a big guy 6’3″, 205 lbs, I try to forget how much bigger I am than my cycling teammates and competitors, I sort of pretend I am 150 lbs too but then Sir Isaac Newton and his “laws” come to play. Every time I line up, whether for a friendly competitive group ride or a race, my size is an issue.
I have come a long way on my feeling about being a big guy on the bike. I did not have the good fortune to discover cycling or running until I started my business career and realized that I was getting obese. I took up commuting on my bike to squeeze some exercise into my hectic days. I started timing myself and the rest is history. One of the first major challenges I undertook was the Leadville 100, before Lance did it and it became crazy popular. That’s also when I discovered what it meant to be a big guy on the bike. I was training for Leadville and made a trip out to Colorado a few months before the event to test things out and see how I did at altitude. I came across another rider on the trail that day and we exchanged pleasantries for a bit. Then he asked me why I was there and when I told him I was training for Leadville he literally laughed out loud and explained plainly that the laws of physics simply prevented me from finishing that ride in under 12 hours, the cut off to be counted as an official finisher. It infuriated me. Even worse, he was right and I dropped out of the race at mile 76.
The entire next year I was focused on proving some guy I would never meet again wrong. I trained harder and despite blowing out my rear shock at the starting line (I rode the entire distance on a fully compressed shock) and getting caught in a nasty storm, I finished in 11:52.
I took that victory and I have come a long way since, taking up the road bike and moving through the race categories. If it weren’t such an ordeal to get into Leadville, I’d like to see if I could get under 9 hours now.
The laws of physics, especially gravity, are still something I contend with but I have developed a respectable sustained power output and know when to put it to good use, the cross winds. As a racer in Oklahoma, the wind is often as much a factor as the climbs (yes, we have hills and some are big – ish). So I’ve learned to look forward to those moments when I get to strike my revenge on the little guys. It’s the moment when they can’t sit behind me in my vacuum-like draft.
Not much is going to change about my size, I’ve just learned how to use what my momma gave me.
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