Saturday, November 14, 2009

11-14-09 Hills of the West Coast Sacrificial Lamb

Miles: 56 Climbing: 2500’ Route: Downtown—Mercer Island—89th—Coal Creek—Jones Rd.—196th climb—224th—Soos Creek Trail—Downtown Renton—Seward Park—Downtown Attrition Rate: 20% (1)

Of our group of five today, four were members of Team High Performance Cycling, and three of us were wearing our team kit winter jackets. Not only was it nice to see the jackets, it was a great day for a cold weather test, and the jackets worked great. Our non-member was Lee, who recently moved to Seattle from Oklahoma, so we’ll work on him. Yesterday I posted an invite for team members to join the ride on the team message board, promising that riders would adhere to the “lower winter pace.” Who wants to ride hard on a cold mid-November day anyway? All five of us!

Had we had some new faces on the ride, we would have complied with the promise, but given our small group, we only had responsibility to ourselves, and we rode pretty hard most of the time. That didn’t stop us from conversing just about the entire ride. Traffic was light, and we covered topics ranging from the best running shoes to the state of the economy.

Jeff led the ride today, but the true protagonist was Steve H., who went to the front and picked up the pace anytime we got a little too chatty. Warren was game as always to ride hard, but it was Steve who drove the ride. Rolling home up Lake Washington north of Seward Park, Steve was at it again. Since he had done so much work on the front already, we encouraged him to finish it out and pull all the way to the hill leading to the I-90 tunnel overlook.

Steve’s almost always willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the group, and he said, “Sure, but you guys will just drop me on the hill.” To which I replied, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll make a deal with you—you do the pulling and we will ride up the hill with you.” A quick consensus formed that this was indeed a great strategy late in the ride. When we got to the hill, Steve just kept the hammer down, and no concession needed to be made. We did ride up the hill with Steve, but not at an “I’m cooked” pace.

One of my pet peeves is what I call the “Sacrificial Lamb” syndrome. An example: Some brave soul on a HOWC goes to the front as we drop down onto the I-90 Bridge for our return trip. The bridge has a lot of traffic, and this person winds up doing all of the pulling across the bridge, by choice or not. We all hit the grade on the west side, and bang, there goes the whole bunch rocketing by our now tired little lamb. Give me a break! It’s a “group” ride, and is that any way to thank someone for keeping you out of the wind? It’s not like a big climb with a re-group where we all hammer up and the group splits.

I like the concept of fair play. I’ll be throwing out proposals like today’s on the ride next year. If people still go around, at least we’ll have an idea of who has class.

I hope to see you on the (dry) road.


SuperLukerBee said...

Nowhere do we see the proverbial sacrificial lamb more than the I90 return.

In some cases, I think it is just the cost of doing business - particularly if 'the lamb' is too spent to be functional on the grade. Like many of the HOWC regulars I have been 'the spent lamb' on this spot. I think it is fine if some riders blaze past up front. A few "good pull" calls as they continue forward is best practice. As well, a few riders should always stay back to shepard the lamb back to the fold.

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