I remember earlier this year, a few weeks after the start of lockdown in the Uk when the roads were dead. I was out on a long-ish ride. I was coming through a small village, and reaching the hardest part of the ride. As you leave the village, the road tilts up, and it’s a 2k slog into the prevailing wind at 3-4%. Then it turns sharp right, giving you a few hundred metres of false flat, before turning sharp left and hitting a ‘proper’ climb (6-7% for a little over 3k). It’s a tough 5-6k stretch, especially when you’ve got a few km fatigue in your legs.
Anyway, as I was a few hundred metres into the first drag, I saw someone pull out of a side road just before the road turns right, and immediately set my mind on catching them. He probably had a 300m headstart. On the false flat section I seemed to be gaining steadily, though I did note his low cadence seemed odd. Up the proper climb I killed myself - I think I’ve only ever gone about 5s faster up there - and took 50 metres at most out of the guy.
Just before the road reaches the top there’s a car park (and a small nature reserve). I see this guy casually dismount and wander over towards the ice cream van. He’s 60 if he’s a day. He’s barely out of breath. As I slog past him, gasping for air, thinking about jacking it all in, I see it… he’s on an ebike