I went for a decent ride the other day with a group of about twenty other riders, most of whom I’d never met before in my life.
Things started out reasonably flat and fast. But towards the end we all knew the morning’s work would head skyward and involve some pretty serious climbing, roughly 15km with gradients averaging between 6% and 18% in different places. This is not terrain for the feint-hearted. Which is why I had no hesitation leaving my aero-at-speeds-above-35km/h-but-heavy-on-the-hills wheels at home, and also why I was more than a little surprised to see some of the beast-like high speed weaponry and outrageously deep rims on display on several of the other bikes in the bunch as we set off. Had I misread the course outline?
No, I hadn’t.
Things went pretty much according to my expectations for the first 30km or so. We sped along at the start, smashing out the kms pretty much without a care in the world. But come the hills it was a very different story indeed as smiles were quickly replaced with a range of contorted grimaces that would do Thomas Voeckler proud.
Now as I’ve declared before, I’m no mountain goat and, yep, I suffered on the ascents. But nothing like the poor bastards on their high-speed crit bikes. For suffer as I did, I still left these guys for dead as they struggled to haul their 2kg+ wheelsets and aggressive riding positions up the unforgiving ramps.
Did I feel sorry for them? A little. But then again they paid the price for vanity. Everyone knows showing off with the latest bike bling comes at high cost. But, as they learned the hard way, it’s not always financial.