Friday, November 04, 2005

Just let me cut you off

Another informal bike race today. This time it was with a Japanese guy about 50 years old. When I first saw him, he was going at a decent pace on an old steel framed bike with fenders. He was wearing sweats. Now I know that these are the guys who can occasionally be very, very tough. The young guys on nice bikes are usually posing and acting pretty. When it gets tough, they fade and drop almost immediately.

I passed this guy even though I hesitated at first. I am getting out of top shape now---a big reduction in mileage and very little focused training since August. He was going just fast enough to that I knew if he challenged me that I would have to really hustle much more than I wanted to today.

I passed and he was on me fast. I held at 22-23 and he did not drop. I did several short sprints to try to drop him at 25-28 mph, but he got right back on me. Even up a few "hills" he held--unbelievable for most around here. This was tough today as my heart rate was hitting 184bpm--when I am in top shape it rarely hits this high with that ammount of effort. Then we entered a curvy populated area for a kilometer or so and could not really do much and had to slow.

After about 1 mile of this (2.5 total), we were headed toward a switchback and he cut through the grass to get in front. Immediately, the pace slowed even though we were in an open area now, but he still was going over 20 mph. At first I thought he was taking a very un-Japanese turn at the front letting me draft instead of just leeching off of me. I was on his wheel for maybe 2 kilometers. (There is a HUGE difference between ridng behing another rider in the draft and being in front. I would guess the energy required drops 15-20% at times.)

Suddenly he sat up---a sure sign of tiring---and then he looked back and waved me by saying that it was dangerous. I laughed at that and stayed on his wheel. I knew if I passed I would be doing all the work again and he would be sitting back there leeching off of me until the end. No way. Strange that it wasn't dangerous when he was drafting me.

Anyway, we came to a split in the road and I went uphil to the street and he stayed on the river bike path. We rode parallel for a while and he was hammering to keep even with me, but ultimately backed off. (Nobody to pull him?) I went up the road another 2-3 kilometers and turned around to go home and saw him on the way back.

It would have been a nice day and nice little run if it hadn't have been for the gutless "abunai yo" hypocracy he pulled at the end. Usually, most Japanese just reach for their water bottle and pretend to be overwhelmed with thirst when they give up.

I wonder if he thought just cutting in front of me was all he would have to do. Did he figure I would just give up and stop or slack off? That is common in Japan. People cut in front of you all the time then slow way down. It seems all they want to do is cut you off and the block your path. This happens just walking down the sidewalk or jogging or anything. People will kill one another to be the first out of a train and as soon as they are out the door they will stop and block everyone else who is trying to get out. They seem to do this without thought. Apparentely, all you gotta do is jump in front of people and you have acheived whatever you are trying to acheive. Maybe it is away society bangs down the nail that is sticking up . You are going somewhere? Faster than me? Well, let me cut you off and slow you down like me.

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