Posted by: fizzhogg | February 13, 2011

Up, Up, And Away

Okay, stay with me here, folks. It’s math time!

Between the time I got the Hal 9000 and my journey to Cycling Mecca, I made exactly 20 rides. Get it? 20 rides, all but four of which were in St. Louis, the others being in Tucson.

Of those 20 rides, one was the El Tour de Tucson, which featured over 3,100 feet of climbing. Another one was my second assault on Mt. Lemmon, which clocked in at 4,360 feet of climbing. So, 2 of the 20 rides totaled just over 7,500 feet of climbing. You with me?

Now, my total elevation gain for those 20 rides, including the two biggies, was 16,246 feet. That’s how much climbing I did in 20 rides, including El Tour and Mt. Lemmon.

16,246. If we remove Mt. Lemmon and El Tour, it comes down to 18 rides and 8,717 feet of climbing.

Since I have arrived in Cycling Mecca, I have ridden 12 times. Twelve. That’s what, 60% of what I rode before getting here? I suck at math, but I do know that twelve is eight less than twenty.

My total elevation gain for the 12 rides I’ve done in Cycling Mecca is… wait for it… wait…


No typo there, I checked.

19,483 feet of climbing in 12 rides. An average climb of 1,623 feet per ride. If you average my St. Louis-only rides since Hal’s arrival, it comes out to just over 600 feet per ride. And the St. Louis rides average almost ten miles more than the Cycling Mecca rides.

When I look back now at my posts about Hog Hollow, the TdC Hill, and all the others, I laugh. Are you freaking kidding me? THOSE are what gave me trouble? And hey, it’s not like I’m suddenly Joe Climber – I’ve only been out here for 12 rides. And I suffer on these rides. Lord, do I suffer.

But going back to the theme of 2010 – IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD.

You are capable of so much more than you think you are. If you just leave your comfort zone now and then. You can do so much more.

You CAN climb more than you think.

You CAN ride longer and farther than you think.

You CAN eat food you think you can’t eat.

You CAN find time to ride your bike.

You CAN control your calorie intake.

It’s all in the head, dear readers.

I cannot wait to get back home this summer and ride the “climbs” around my house. Ha! Ha, I say to you, you smarmy little mole hills.

By the way, I think I now get “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” It’s a cycling thing!


Now, I want to talk about riding in a group. I know most of you who read this are like me, and have, for the most part, ridden alone. I had no one to ride with last year. I rode alone. I know most of you do, too. But I want to go on record now and tell you that finding a group to ride with is AWESOME. It is AMAZING. It is a thousand times better than riding alone.

But wait. I hear one or more of you saying, “I don’t do well in social situations. I’d rather have my iPod and just go where I want when I want.” To that I say, “Nay, nay.”

I was the same way. That’s why I never worked too hard at finding a group to ride with in StL. I checked out some web sites/message boards of some groups and always found an excuse not to go out and ride with them.

Then I moved to Cycling Mecca, and I more or less forced myself into the Conejo Valley Cyclists club. I was using them to find housing and good places to ride, and through sheer guilt, joined. I was incredibly nervous the first time out with them. Now, after almost a month of weekend rides, I have new friends – like, real friends – and I know at least two dozen cyclists by name, and would smile and talk with them if I ever run into them in the non-cycling world. Now, sure there are some dopes in the club – like anything population – but I either just avoid them, or I laugh about them along with most of the others, because the dopes are the incredible minority in the club. And everyone knows who they are.

I can’t tell you how cool it is to roll up on Saturday or Sunday morning at the meeting/start place and see everyone in their kits, on their bikes, all of us sharing the same passion. There are super fast, wispy guys on $8,000 bikes, and there are 280lbs Clydesdales on steel frame Wal-mart bikes. There are 3% body fat women on sleek Trek WSD’s, and there are 60-year-old grandmas on Raleighs. But guess what?

No one gives a crap. Sure we all talk bikes, we all “Ooo” and “Ahh” at the fancy ones, but no one looks down at anyone’s ride, no one treats a Fatty any different than a 140 lbs-er. We are all just there because we love to ride.

And here’s the thing – when you have a commitment to show up somewhere. When people are expecting you, you are much more likely to go than if it’s just you sitting around in your Barcalounger thinking, “I should go ride.”

Another great thing about riding in a group, besides learning all about pacelines, and etiquette, and having folks point out junk in the road before you roll over it and flat, besides all of that, it is much safer. What do you think is easier for a motorist to see – you out on your bike, all alone, cranking along, or a pack of 10 or more riders, all in bright kits, all rolling along together?

And here’s yet another great thing… you ride better. BETTER. As in farther, harder, faster, longer. When you ride with others, you don’t do that thing that ALL OF US have done…


There is no quitting in the group ride. And not because people will get on you, or yell at you, but because they understand, and they help you. Everyone is out there for the same reason – to ride. It’s like a Band of Brothers – We will leave no man behind.

Even on the so-called “drop” rides, the faster group waits at certain points for everyone else to regroup. And guess what? The very last person to arrive, the heavyset woman on the hybrid who didn’t bring any food or gels, and only has one water bottle, and doesn’t understand how to use the freaking Granny gear, even she is treated the exact same way as the guy in the Lampre kit on the R5 Cervelo who’s been waiting for five minutes for the next rider to arrive.

And that woman? She’s you and me. And I guarantee you that she (us) would have quit long ago had it not been for the group. So now, she is doing things she never thought possible.

So, please. Find a cycling club in your area and JOIN. You don’t have to ride every single time with them. But I promise you – if you try it, group riding will become as addictive as cycling itself.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Join a club.



Watch out for the road idiots.


  1. Ahh, cycling clubs. The problem with cycling clubs for me is that they’re full of cyclists. Maybe it’s different Stateside, but most of the cycling clubs around where I live are full of the most badly dressed ignorant Barstewards on the planet.

    There’s definately a snobbery attached to it here.

    I’ll pedal alone or with a couple of mates.

    I’m glad you’ve found success with them though! 🙂

  2. It sounds like you fallen into a great situation – congratulations! I’m excited for you and look forward to more of your exploits. You may a compelling case for group rides. I’ve managed to find a group about 15 miles from my house and intend to link up with them once or twice. I’ve ridden in pacelines before and you’re right – they’re awesome!

    I must point out one small correction – I have never quit anything in my life. I’ve been utterly beaten, passed out from heat exhaustion, and bested by those better than me, but I have never quit while I had an ounce of strength to continue. I’m just not wired that way! 🙂

  3. Great post…it felt like you were speaking directly to me. I have never done a group ride, but really will consider it.

    I am still trying to discern what will best establish some lifelong habits for me. The cycling is fun, but requires a bit more time and distance than my more recent habit of running. So, I am doing a bit of both and enjoying it. It is mid-February, I suppose sometime soon I should establish some goals for this year.

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