Brainy brawn beats brawn

When publishing my last Strava Segment Series video, I was pretty happy with myself. I told the story of losing my KOM on a segment in Cleveland Park and then tying for it the following day. At that point, I didn’t see how anyone could go much below the 40 second time set by Nathan Race and myself. Well, the next day that record fell.

Ron Babington is there on the left.

Ron (left) helping his friend Matt attempt Everesting .

Ron Babington is a certified stud. You have to be when you do the Tour Divide on a single speed! I’ve also come across him helping a friend attempt to climb Mt. Everest on a bicycle. Okay, so the attempt was to climb the equivalent of the height of that peak in the Himalayas… but still, that’s a lot of suffering.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he would give me a run for my money on the Woodland Way Sprint Climb segment. However, I didn’t expect it to lose it by 5 seconds! Yep, Ron thrashed us by covering the .2 mile distance in 35 seconds.

I just had to take a look at his attempt and try to figure out how he pulled it off. This can be done by pulling up Strava and utilizing the Strava Effort Comparison feature that you find on each segment leaderboard page. It was easy to see that by the time we crested the initial kick about halfway through Ron had a 3 second gain on me. At that point, things kind of leveled off until the very end when it shows Ron picking up another second.

Click image to access Strava page.

Click image to access Strava page.

Well, he definitely schooled me on that one. That lead me to take a closer look at his effort. I could see that he averaged 784 watts. On my attempt with 40 seconds I averaged 901 watts. It was going to be really hard to overcome that. The only way I would be able to beat Ron would be to 1) become a monster able to average 1200 watts plus for 35 seconds, or 2) find out how I could go faster without using as many watts.

Then I noticed something. I entered the segment at around 24 mph. Ron hit the start at over 35 mph. While it would not explain the entire 4 seconds, it certainly helps explain that initial jump of 3 seconds and some of the lower average wattage. Momentum is a wonderful thing!

That raised another question. How did he do it? How did he get up to 35 mph in that short run up from the stop sign to the segment start point? You would have to ramp up your wattage pretty high to hit that and then you would be going right into the climb. You would think that would have led him to burn out more toward the end.

Then an idea hit me and I confirmed it by going back to trace Ron’s route on Strava. What he did was to come off Washington Street which would have given him more distance to build up speed. Plus, it is a natural ramp that would help him get up to speed without having to put out as much power. He was using gravity to help him gain momentum.

Now, all that does not explain the burst of power toward the end of his attempt. Gravity would definitely be working against him at that point and any momentum gained by his rolling start would have been scrubbed off yards before. That can only be chalked up to a hard man giving it a go when his legs are rocks and his lungs looking for that next gulp of oxygen!


Bottom line is that Ron bested me with his brain and his brawn. The fastest person isn’t always the strongest, but when you combine strength with synapses… that is a hard man to best. So, kudos to you, Ron.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go out there and give it a go. I figured Ron learned a little about how to attack the climb from my video. I can at least attempt to return the favor by learning from his Strava profile!

Strava gives us a chance to better ourselves and compete against our friends. That’s what makes it fun! That, and Ron’s cool facial hair.