My buddy John gave me a call having decided to start commuting on his bike to work. A great idea if you ask me. And it makes even more sense for him as he lives in San Anselmo and works at Larkspur Landing. This is a 5-6 mile commute that is almost entirely flat … except for the fact that Jon lives at the top of one of the highest hills in San Anselmo. Couple that with the fact that John did not have a bike and he had not been on one in about ten years. But John is a total stud, runs a lot and works out like a champion. So this was still doable. I suggested that he should ride up the hill a few times before just dropping four-figures on a new bike. We coordinated that he would come to our place and borrow my mountain bike – the MTB is my only bike with a triple, and he would certainly need the extra gears going up that hill – ride to work on his own and then we would ride home, facing the hill together.
On our soft pedal from his office, I did my best to psyche John up for the hill. He assured me that it was going to be no problem, that he had run the hill dozens of times. He claimed that the hill was just under a mile and it wasn’t too steep. Having driven the hill in my car previously, I agreed with the mile-ish claim, but the steepness was one to question. I told John that I assumed the ride would take 15 minutes at a pretty reasonable pace – four miles per hour up the one mile hill was a pretty safe bet. John scoffed at my estimation and told me that he could run up the hill faster than that. I didn’t doubt that claim but knew that the ride would be pretty slow. So I offered a bet of over/under 13 minutes for his time and took the over for a round of drinks at Marinitas. Again, John sneered and eagerly took the bet on the premise that he could get there under 13 minutes with the caveat that he could either ride or run to the finish line. I agreed that the finish line stood fixed and he could ride or run so long as if he ran, he brought the bike with him.
As we approached his hill, I reset the Garmin, we rested for a few minutes to give him his best lungs and then we took off. I dropped him within the first few hundred yards, but that was to be expected. I got in to granny gear and recited my pain mantra as I pedaled. Today, the song in my head was ‘Humps to the Boulevard’ by Rodney O and Joe Cooley. There were come crazy steep parts to the hill, several short stints north of 20 percent grades. A few times, my pace slowed to that uncomfortable 0% grade where I am going too slow for the Garmin to do the math to register the grade on the computer dashboard. And I had forgotten that the last few houses on Oak Street were located behind a locked mechanical gate. And John neglected to give me the code to the door. So as I approached the top, I had to dismount the bike and carry the bike (in my clipped shoes) around the gate through a dirt path. I jumped back on the bike to gut out the final few hundred yards.
Not knowing exactly where the Strava segment started and stopped, I rode through the finish line that John and I agreed to just to be sure that I got it all. I then pedaled back to the finish line with the Garmin reading somewhere in the 11 minute range. I was worried that I set the bar too low and was going to lose the bet. But I took the Garmin out of the holster and held it up so John could see the times when he crossed. After soe time passing, I began to hear John panting coming around the bend. And then he surfaced, on his feet, running as hard as he could, wheeling the bike next to him. I held the Garmin out and he read the time as he crossed, 13 minutes 23 seconds. Sweet Magaritas!!
My Strava time turned out to be a mixed blessing. It seems that Oak Street is a popular course for mountain bikers, and not roadies – no surprise. I took the King of the Mountain with a time of 10.33, a full 1.13 ahead of the guy in second place. But Strava is not too well represented on Oak Street, my being only the third person to trip the segment. But I will take it … my first KOM, number one out of three. I guess I should hit the hill again to see if I can best my previous time. Otherwise, I will leave 10.33 for John as something to strive for. Reach higher that the FatGuy, Johnny.