Riding along today, I kept hearing a loud ratcheting buzz, after looking down at my gears and rear hub (a Dura-Ace hub whose freewheel is nearly silent, thanks to my having filled it with automotive 80W 90 gear oil) I realized it was another bike coming up behind.
He overtakes, we exchange pleasantries and he pulls through. His pace isn’t uncomfortable for me, so I follow his wheel. I was unable to draft too closely as he was apparently enamored of his freewheel’s buzz and coasted quite frequently. Despite this I was enjoying the draft and a bit saddened by the knowledge that he’d probably drop me for good on the upcoming descent.
Now, I consider myself a pretty good descender, it’s my biggest (only?) strength on the bike. The problem is, at 135 pounds I can’t keep up downhill with similarly skilled but heavier (gravitationally gifted) riders. Anyway, I figure my compatriot here has at least 30-40 pounds on me, so I don’t hold out much hope.
So anyway, as he crests the hill I let the gap open. As I roll over the top (see map) and shift to the big ring he’s sitting up, glancing back at me. Never one to waste a good downhill run, I crank hard a few times, drop into my best aero tuck and shoot past. There was a touch of a headwind, so I barely broke 38mph (the other side of 40 isn’t unusual on this hill). As the road levels out, I glance back, trying not to be too obvious about it, and don’t see him. I repeat my glance-stealing several times and don’t spot him, nor do I hear his raucous freehub (a fact which I later happily attribute to him not coasting at all, pedalling furiously in a futile attempt to close the gap).
Finally, after I’ve made my right turn back in the general direction of home I look back again and see that he’s about 10-15 seconds back and continuing straight on Washington Mill Road.
Wow, I think to myself, even with me slowing to let him catch up he couldn’t close the gap I opened on a short little downhill run; a rare “victory” on the bike for me! Beggars can’t be choosers so I’ll take ’em however I can get ’em. Whether it’s dropping timid descenders or out-sprinting little kids; a win is a win!