Before you read on, believing you have found a blog about gigantic horses famous for pulling the Budweiser cart in Super Bowl commercials, I feel I must tell you what this is all about. The term “Clydesdale” is a cycling term used to symbolize a heavy cyclist, whether on the road or on the trail. It is a name worn with pride by those addressed in such a way. I am a larger than average man standing roughly 6’2″ tall and weighing in at 109kg or about 240 pounds. I am also an avid road cyclist who, when I am not swamped down with graduate work or teaching, tries to ride 100+ miles per week.
The thing about the sport of cycling is that it is and always has been dominated by smaller men. This is because the smaller person rides down the road with less resistance and carrying less weight. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t believe I was at a disadvantage on a bike because of my size. I am a former college football player! I thought that my strength would even the playing field and I would be climbing some of the hardest grades on the Palouse as fast as any rider, big or small. I was wrong.
My first awakening came on a ride in Northern Nevada up the Lamoille Canyon grade with a friend of mine and his Father. Both of these gentlemen were much more experienced than I and were much smaller in stature – both standing below 5’10” and weighing no more than 150 pounds. I was a relatively new cyclist and had been logging some miles on the weekends but I felt like I was headed for the next Grand Tour. These two guys invited me on the ride, a 30 mile loop up the canyon and back down climbing roughly 3000 feet in elevation throughout the ride. No problem.
For the first part of the ride is was no problem, the rider was relatively flat and we were spinning (pedaling fast with low resistance) enjoying the company and conversation when the climb started. We decided to get into a line and take turns pulling (To pull is to ride in front and take the wind resistance off the riders behind you) and rotating every minute or so. The pace, for me, was blistering and no sooner than we had begun, I was pedaling alone while they conversed their way to the top of the canyon. Before you berate them for leaving me behind, it is common in cycling to drop slow riders on a climb because climbing is based on rhythm and pedal cadence. it is hard to ride faster or slower going up a steep grade, so you normally wait for them at the top.
We finished the ride together after we met up at the top of the climb and I had a few minutes to lay on the cold pavement questioning all the hours I had spent doing squats in the gym. I immediately went home and started googling why the smaller guys had beaten me so severely. I found a study done that determined a rider can save roughly 3.2 seconds per mile of climbing for every 2.2 pounds extra a rider weighs (http://cyclinguphill.com/time-saved-weight-loss-bike/). This news was earth-shattering but also made sense. Why don’t the heavier sprinters with the Tour D’France when they are the fastest and the strongest? It’s because they are usually the heaviest and cannot keep up on the hills.
Now that you have the background, let me tell you what you can look forward to reading this blog. First, You will get to hear more stories of my shame and failures stemming from my size and lack of research. Second, you will get advice on how to overcome the weaknesses all large riders suffer that I have learned through my struggles and from talking with other Clydesdales. Third, you will see digital creations detailing the life and struggles of the heavier rider!
Some of the digital creations that I have planned are a logo for clothing and riding gear worn by the heavier rider who wants to represent the Clydesdale Scene. I also plan on creating a video documenting a climb in the Palouse area where I detail the pain of pedaling my heavy body up a giant hill!
Some of the influences I have for this blog are Vlogs such as
The Global Cycling Network – http://www.globalcyclingnetwork.com – Not a heavy rider blog but they do detail lots of great cycling tips and training videos!
A great blog with lots of information for beginners and experts alike!
I look forward to sharing my experiences and stories with all of you!
Hank – The 110kg Phenom