James Selman, long-time friend and Rapha Continental rider told me some years back something to the effect of “You don’t get out of the saddle until April.” To him winter and early spring are for building, so you sit, climb and strengthen.
After being on the road away from the bike the whole month of January, strength is something that I am very much lacking right now. Actually anything resembling fitness currently escapes me. So when I hit the base of a small rise (presently posing as a major hill) on a quick lunch spin on a sunny Portland winter day I thought of James when I saw a rider standing and stomping up the climb.
Wearing a classic Lemond long-sleeve team jersey and riding a lovely metallic purple Lemond of the same era, fully fendered for winter riding in Portland, I liked this gentleman’s style. Still it’s February 2nd, too early to be pouncing uphill.
Rolling by him with a simple “how’s it going”, I was immediately amused and understanding of his response.
Me: “How you doing?”
Lemond rider: “Fat.”
Not a “good”, or “alright”, nor silence—just “fat”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I know that I am in fact not fat by any standard of American scales, but with a full month layoff coming on the heels of two weeks of post-cyclocross season blues, I am fat. For a cyclist. For me anyway. I can blame my slow pace on my lovely winter training Ira Ryan bicycle all I want but I don’t have to pinch too hard to know the problem doesn’t lay with the bike, but rather the rider.
Good news is that I also know the solution.