Like greyhounds chasing rabbits

The curse of competitiveness.  Once switched on, it seems impossible to switch off.

You’re out on an easy recovery ride.  You rode hard yesterday.  Or you raced.  Or maybe you have a race tomorrow.  In any case, you don’t want to go too hard, so you’re just spinning around at 18mph.

Someone passes you.   With hairy legs. You remind yourself you’re out on a recovery ride.    If he were one of the local racers, you’d let him go, knowing he’s on his program and your on yours.  You prove yourself in the race, not on a  training ride.

There’s something about the way the guy passed you — with the body language that says “ha, I’m going faster than you”.

You just can’t resist.   You have to chase him down and then drop him.  It doesn’t matter if it messes up the ride you planned. This is the road racer’s curse.

How do I know it’s not just me?  I got this report from Tris, my teammate:


So, I go riding last night (wow, was it gorgeous out!).

I’m riding down in the valley, content to just spin along at 20mph (+/-). Then, some dude passes me. At first, I don’t care – I’m just out to enjoy the ride, my legs are feeling a bit tired & sore from running this week, etc., etc.

He’s wearing a Dirt Rag (MTB-oriented mag) jersey. My competitive side takes over.

I raise my pace to keep up, but not enough to draft – about 15-20 meters behind. He’s going pretty well at about 23mph. On a little roller, his pace drops, but I stay the same distance behind.  Then I ramp it up and pass him, digging in hard on a false-flat section. I go up over 30mph before getting to the railroad crossing. I slow to cross the tracks and glance back to check for cars. He’s there, drafting me. Grrr! Actually a little surprised he hung on.

I hold a steady hard pace of about 26 – 28mph all the way to the hill by the quarry. On the lower section, I stay in the big ring and slam it hard up the hill. He’s out of my draft, but he claws back on the short false flat before the longer part of the hill. My HR hits 174. I’m feeling knackered but jump again after the incline starts.  Out of the saddle, I keep going hard all the way to the top. Believe me, I was hurting.

I had planned to go up Major Rd as part of my route, so I glance back again to check for cars so I can make a left turn. He’s about half-way up the hill.

I cracked him.

Satisfied, I clamber comfortably up Major Rd and finish out my route. Thinking about it later, I’m not sure if all I did was prove what jerks roadies can be. One thing is for sure, those 10 miles were much, MUCH, harder than I was planning to ride last night. It was a great workout and, hopefully, he enjoyed being pushed to his limits as much as I did.


My comment: I imagine he’s got a good story to tell now too, maybe how he was able to hang on to this guy’s wheel going 30+ mph.  He must have been a pro.  Maybe even that Paul Martin guy he’s read about in the newspaper.

Anyone else have a good ‘racing on a training ride’ story?


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10 responses to “Like greyhounds chasing rabbits

  1. ds

    I had an experience like Tris’s last night, except that I was able to refrain from the urge (which is not normal for me, especially on a solo ride). Heading north on River Rd. in Gates Mills on an easy ride, some non-racer guy passed me (largely because he had the green light at Mayfield and I had just gotten back up to speed after the red light.) I sensed a feeling of delight in him as he passed me. I refrained from catching and dropping him. Am I getting old and soft?

    Man, are we jerks.

  2. Brian

    Getting soft? Maybe getting smart? Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

  3. Bill Marut

    Tony and I had a very similar experience when out on a hilly loop of ours. On a long cimb we saw a rider up the road and eventually caught him and just rode steady. We did not attack him once we caught him, just sat in and said hi. We had never saw the guy before either. He was working pretty hard too by the tone of his response and was riding at a decent pace. Anyway, I took the pull after he pulled over, then Tony pulled. When it was his turn to pull again he tried to attack us and drop us! We stuck to his wheel and when he was gassed we attacked him again and that was it. We kept the speed at pretty much tempo and rode out of his sight. The nerve of that guy!! lol

  4. I was on the tail end of a pretty hard solo ride (easy pace for all you guys, hard for me) a few weeks back when some triathlete blew past me and gave me a smug smirk.
    I had been making mental excuses for dogging it at that exact moment on what had been, and was supposed to be, a hard ride. Whether or not his move was a throwdown, I decided to make it hard again.
    With a quick burst, I caught him and sat in his draft at 28 mph. “On your wheel,” I said calmly. He looked back. I smiled. A crestfallen look immediately crossed his face.
    He hammered for a minute, then began the tired guy’s weave. So I pulled alongside him; saw he was blown, and looking seriously disheartened.
    So, with complete insincerity, I said, “Grab my wheel and take a rest.” He said, “Damn, you’re not even sweating!” Heh.
    Naturally, my jackass instincts are as strong as y’all’s, so I gave him no rest except my (considerable) draft; I kept pushing at 28-30 mph (redlining for me, now that I was on the front) for a mile or so and looked back. He had been spit way off.
    As I waited at the S. Woodland stoplight, he caught up. He was lean and fit; you probably know that I am at least 25 lbs. too fat. But he pulled up to me and said, “Wow — that was GREAT! I hardly ever get to ride with a real racer!”
    If any “real” racers were around, they would’ve busted out laughing at that description being applied to a Cat-4 imposter like me.
    But all things are relative, aren’t they? And even nefarious motives can produce positive results.
    In this case, both of us were re-energized. I slowed down enough to tow him along at a good pace til we hit Shaker Rd., where we parted company and said our goodbyes. He smiled and thanked me again, then turned around to head back toward Chagrin Falls. I pushed hard up the Shaker Rd. hill toward home, satisfied that someone had shaken me out of dogging it.
    Maybe both of us acted on jerky instincts. But it turned out to be enjoyable for each of us — whether or not either of us deserved it.

    – JN

  5. P.S. to Bill M.: Maybe that guy just didn’t have much paceline experience, and he pulled through too hard when the wind hit his face — like beginners tend to do.

  6. Bill Marut

    Negative Jimmy, he was just trying to be a hero because he probably saw the Team stuff that we had on. We all know the type.

  7. Mehul

    I was riding in the park a few years ago (on the road) at about 20mph and a guy on roller blades passed me (also on the road)! I was surprised by this and decided that a guy on skates wasn’t going to pass me today.

    I decided to pick up the pace and pass him. Now the skater is drafting me very comfortably at about 25. I was actually quite impressed, however I didn’t think that he should be able to go that fast…on skates. So, I kept bumping up the pace and he kept just hanging on. I was getting tired as I am known to do, and was saved by a stop light.

    The skater and I chatted a while and I was at least a little happier when I found out this guy was tired too! It was actually kinda fun to see this guy chasing a bike on skates!

  8. Brian

    I’ve come across skaters in the North Chagrin reservation, and was shocked at how fast they can go. I remember thinking the same thing — no way was this dude going faster than me. There is a bike vs. skater race on YouTube somewhere (probably more than one).

    With triathletes, and I feel a little bad in saying this (but not too bad) … they don’t have much top-end. So if you get up above 25mph you’re golden.

    I think most everyone likes to be pushed a little bit. I figure when I eventually hang up the racing shoes, racing you guys on training rides will be all I’ll have.

    My favorite story is racing the tourists riding on the Worlds course in 2006 in Salzburg (from my old site):

  9. Woo-hoo, an official write-up in the “Über die Brücke” blog! 🙂

    What can I say? We are guys. Guys can’t help the testosterone / adrenalin rush that comes whenever we feel even a little challenged.

    For some reason, I don’t like when someone starts drafting me uninvited. I find it annoying. At that point, I will go as hard as any race just to be rid of the pilot-fish that has attached itself to my wake.

  10. Keller

    last year my buddy dave and i were taking an easy mtb ride on the bike and hike trail … we decided to go easy that day since we needed a light day from all our training for the iceman cometh mtb race .. somewhere in penninsula we get passed by a girl on a road bike .. it wasn’t that bad until she screams at us to single file .. ringing her bell at us .. see we really don’t get passed on the bike and hike trail so we don’t really pay attention .. she was rather rude and body language said she was all that and a bag of chips .. i was letting it go and enjoying our ride, when dave just couldn’t let it go .. so there we were tracking her down on mtb going 23mph .. we blow by her with a smile on our face and I am sure body language that states there is WAY TO MUCH testosterone in our blood stream .. afterwards at the car we were both thinking .. man, that wasn’t very cool .. we probably scared her to death when she saws us coming up on her .. for all she knew we were crazy psycho killers or maybe worse — road racers !! HAHAHAHAHAHA

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