by Grizzly Adam
I’m not a roadie.
I’ve never done a traditional road race with breakaways, a peleton, and insufferable snobs telling me to pull more often*. The closest I have come to anything resembling a road race is LOTOJA. I rode that once, in 2004. And while I realize that technically it is a race, the group I rode with did not treat it as such. It was, in every respect, a group ride.
*It’s a joke!
I’ve ridden a few of the Sundance Hill Climbs. But those always had more resemblance to a mountain bike race—go hard, and alone—than a road race. And anyway, I only ever entered those as a “citizen” rider. I seem to have some kind of aversion to racing licenses. I’ve never owned one.
So, like I said, I’m not a roadie.
However, that is irrelevant to the fact that one of my very favorite things to do on a bicycle involves skinny tires and pavement. Just so long as that pavement winds its way up and through the mountains. Long and boring “training rides” on a road bike are long and boring. But nothing is better than climbing a mountain pass, or through thick forests under the shadow of Timpanogos on a road bike. Fast. Smooth. Fast and smooth—like Billy Dee Williams.
And of course, the clock is always ticking.
Fatty has pointed out the local yardsticks—as he calls them—The Alpine Loop, Suncrest, Squaw Peak… And they are all on their own rather spectacular. To say nothing of the crown jewell of Wasatch road riding, the Nebo Loop. Stringing several of these rides together is a fantastic indulgence in sefl-conflageration. Very quickly a “ride” can start to look like some warped and nonsensical creation of a Grand Tour, complete with uncategorized climbs and white knuckle descents. And they hurt… these rides. A wonderful, all-encompassing pain that leaves legs mushy and minds numb. They are, by all standards, brilliant.
I love the high-paced panic of trying to hold the wheel of a rider whose abilities and fitness are just beyond my own. The heart races, the legs scream and burn. The inches between wheels become feet, meters… panic. Mind the gap! The speed associated with a paved climb and skinny tires is unequaled on dirt or fat, knobby tires. Technical skills are meaningless. Only legs and lungs matter. Pedal, dammit!
But what makes these rides truly amazing are the unofficial, unsanctioned, unlicensed and unbelievable group rides** that happen throughout the summer.
**And by rides, I mean races. Even if it’s not a race.
And those races rides begin tomorrow morning.