A few weeks ago, Bret, one of my PM friends (well, I call people like Bret friends since they're people that tolerate my presence), told me he was looking at my bicycle climb site and and saw a climb named "The Zoo". One day, he said, "I think I'd like to climb the zoo - let's set up a time and go up it together".
I should perhaps step back a bit and explain a bit. The Fat Cyclist has written at length (and at more length) about how to size up cycling competition. While such guides are useful if one wants to avoid human interaction, if the rider in question lives on the Eastside of Seattle, you can get all the information you need with a single question:
"Have you ever done the Zoo?"
There are three answers you get:
- What's the zoo?
This rider really isn't worth your time. Even if they can drop you on the flats, they haven't suffered sufficiently, and therefore any of their achievements can never rise to your level.
This rider is no competition to you. No matter what happens on the ride, you have tried and triumphed, and therefore possess an inner strength that they are lacking. This is great consolation when they ride away from you on their big chainring.
- Yes. It's pretty steep.
Beware this rider. Not only have they tried and triumphed, they are playing mind games with you. The zoo is "pretty steep" in the same sense that on Oxy-Acetylene torch is "pretty hot", or Everest is "pretty tall".
Cyclists have this weird thing about shared suffering. Hard climbs are always better when somebody else is suffering along with you, and if you can sucker in an unsuspecting rider who doesn't really know what they're in for, all the better.
So I was happy to set up a time to ride the Zoo with Bret. Happy... No, that's not it, what's that word again? Ah, that's it. Disturbed. I was disturbed about it. But there's nothing to be done about it - if you've ridden the zoo, you can't wimp out when somebody else wants to try it.
The weather this morning was perfect. About 60 degrees, and sunny. On the ride there, I toyed briefly with saying that it had been a little cold when I rode up it early this morning, but I decided that that would be too cruel. Okay, that's not really truthful. I just didn't think I could pull it off.
The ride was about as good my first trip up it last year. In other words, 25 minutes of suffering, but not as bad as before. Bret suffered well and made it to the top, all 1200 feet of it.
Oh, and we had a surprise companion with us. More on that later...