Unlike Phil Gaimon who captures KOMs (King of the Mountain segments) on Strava then makes videos of his efforts, I can barely sniff one. And at my age, everyone is younger and faster than me so I realize that I might see another.
But only five days ago I saw I was 2nd overall on a segment called Dam to Waterway at 1:20. That was accidental – I was just riding along with no idea this was a segment. And yet, here I was second overall. But the top of the leaderboard was a 0:59 which looked pretty unobtainable.
The leader was a rider named Sam Kristy. Don’t know if that’s a real name or not. Can’t tell his age but his Strava profile picture makes him look to be quite young – in the 15-25 age range. Figures.¹
My 1:20 came without knowledge so three days ago I decided to improve my own time. I got it to 1:10. At that point, I just put more separation between me and third place (HokieQB Athlete).
Two days ago I tried again and finished at 1:07. Although the record was 0:59 when I first looked, I will swear on this day the record was 1:05 – my time to beat.
Yesterday I came through in 1:03. Garmin showed I had a new PR but no KOM. I checked later and, sure enough, the time to beat was 0:59, not 1:05 which is what I thought.
At this point at least I can say I wasn’t getting slower. I thought I was on pace for another PR when a car saw me coming and pulled out anyhow. It slowed my momentum.
The late Paul Sherwen, on the Tour de France broadcasts, often said “you don’t need good luck (to win the TdF), you just have to avoid bad luck.” And on this attempt, I had bad luck.
I took my granddaughters for some bike riding/training. On my way home I did the dam segment again. This time I came in at 1:01. Another PR but those two seconds were alluding me.
There always seemed to be a breeze in my face. I was resigned to the fact that I would need a helpful breeze – a tailwind. Hey, most PRs or KOMs come with a natural assist.
This morning, I came through in 1:01. Ugh. The segment itself is on a slight rise about 2/3 of the way and then a slight downhill. What makes it more difficult and even dangerous, is it appears that it ends right at the intersection with Waterway Drive. There is a stop sign there and a blind intersection coming from the left. One cannot see if the intersection is clear and maintain the speed into the intersection. A handful of brakes is necessary.
After I got home and showered, my granddaughters decided they wanted to go for a bike ride. I rode to Forest Park High School and we rode about six miles before I rode home. I had decided I would try again. I thought this time I would stand and sprint at the beginning before settling into a sitting position. I kept in my big gear heading the voice of Fränk Schleck yelling out “bigger gear, Barry, bigger gear!” (He did that in France, last year.)
Only when I was losing momentum did I downshift a little. Once over the rise, I was pushing it. I could see I was 0:04 seconds ahead of my PR (which was 1:01). I kept the push until the end although grabbed the brakes a second before I had to.
I looked left and saw no cars and rolled into the medium of the intersection before nearly collapsing on my handlebars. And up it came – KOM – 0:58.
Wow. I got a KOM. Those are so rare that I will celebrate and even blog about one. And now I hoped that it held.
With Strava Live Segments, what is on the screen needs to be verified. It’s almost as if there are cyber-referees with the real time. But at 0:58, I figured the worst it could have been was 0:59 which was tied for first.
When I got home and uploaded the ride, the official time was displayed – 0:57. I got it and with two seconds to spare. So I’m going to be proud. I don’t expect it to hold. If Sam Kristy sees he’s no longer the KOM he might go and destroy the record. Oh to be young. I wish we had Strava when I was young. But even if he does, I am still the Local Legend (according to Strava).
Distance: 0.34 miles
Speed: 21.9 mph
¹ There is a Sam Kristy on Facebook. If it is the same Sam, he is almost 19, is a bike racer, and will destroy this KOM if he wants it. I am sure his 0:59 was set just riding along. You can have it back, young man, but thank you for letting me dream young for a day.