Humiliating loss in the great rat race

I don’t normally worry about how fast I am compared to other cyclists, but sometimes you have to draw the line.

On the final 5 miles of my commute in on Tuesday, I caught someone hunting me down in my mirror. I was maintaining a brisk pace because I left late for work, so I wasn’t expecting to be overtaken by commuter bicycle traffic.

This guy was gaining on me, his bright yellow jacket flapping in the wind. When I’m on a fast bike, people sometimes hunt me down. If I feel sporty, I try to make that challenging. I felt sporty. And I didn’t feel like getting passed by a what appeared to be an ordinary commuter when I was on my hot rod. I was already doing 22mph, so I figured that if I picked up the pace just a bit, his legs would burn up quickly.

I boosted my speed to 24.5mph. Still gaining. My muscles were protesting a bit at 26.7mph but he was still closing the gap. At this point, I was impressed since few people can generate that sort of speed with fat tires and poor aerodynamics. Between his steady speed, his smooth stroke, and the fact he’d been gaining on me for a mile, it was obvious this guy had a lot more power than me. But I wasn’t ready to concede.

I pushed it up to 29.4mph. I knew I couldn’t hold this level of effort to the edge of town which was still more than a mile away — though I intended to give it my best shot. No dice. My commuting friend was now only 50-60 feet back and still reeling me in.

I knew it was over and that he was going to pass me at over 30mph. I pulled over to acknowledge my humiliating defeat and let him through.

Then, I noticed he was looking a little too relaxed for the pace we’re going. Nice electric bike he’d built…..

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