It takes a little power
B.B.’s Mama was a large woman, well over 200 lbs. Until this particular day I had never seen her move very fast. She was 39, walked slowly and would work in the garden leisurely. She appeared terribly overweight and extremely out of shape.One afternoon B.B. and I were visiting Mama, and she had been drinking. She said something very rude to B.B., and I mentioned to her that kindness could go a lot further. I was standing pretty close to Mama when I made the comment and she caught me with the back of her hand like someone catching flies in the air. There was nothing slow in the movement she made.I was shocked. Coming from my white-bread suburban background, domestic violence on any level was unknown. I jumped back and started to question this type of behavior. Mama wasn’t in the mood for questions; she started coming for me. I failed in my quest for grace under pressure. As a white boy caught in a violent situation on the wrong side of the tracks, I did what came naturally – turned and ran.It is true if you run from an attacking bear you can trigger a predatory response. I bet I would fail that test, too. I ran out the back door with Mama on my heels. I ran through the backyard and down the alley.To give you a visual, think of an angry Queen Latifah chasing Harry Potter.I glanced over my shoulder and Mama – running in her bare feet – was gaining on me. Fortunately, B.B. was at the end of the alley with our VW Bug and thank god the side door was open. I dove in and B.B. hit the gas, and Mama just missed grabbing my shirt.B.B. was simultaneously laughing and crying, and she turned to me with obvious pride in her voice.”Mama almost caught you,” she said. “I think she would have with 5 more yards.” I turned to her and replied, between wheezes, “I didn’t know Mama could move so fast!” B.B was still giggling when she replied, “She could beat Preston and the cousins in sprints till a couple of years ago.”A quick calculation in my head meant she was beating them in sprints when they were in their middle teens. That didn’t seem possible.”Well, what do we do now go to the police or the church elders?” I asked between breaths.”No, we’re going home. It never happened. Mama will cool down,” B.B. responded.B.B.’s response had just as much of an impact on me as did Mama’s emotional outburst. That subject would have to be addressed in another column in a different section of the newspaper.One thing was certain: B.B.’s Mama had power. It was not visible at first glance, but she had a tremendous amount of it nonetheless. I’ve seen a similar phenomenon with local downhill skiers who appear to take carbo loading as a serious nutritional requirement for every meal. These are men and women who have amazing power when downhill skiing, especially when their huge body masses get pointed in the right direction.The first time I rode the Slickrock Trail, just outside Moab, Utah, in the late 1980s, I was having trouble riding short steep climbs – and this was after developing years of good bicycle fitness. I seriously lacked the necessary power. We were at one very challenging climb when three riders came up behind us to tackle the same climb. All three looked they had just set down their Budweisers, grabbed their bikes leaning against the trailer and said, “Let’s go hit Slickrock!”They could ride up and down anything, and all three had these wonderful looking beer guts, which caused them to do everything by Braille when they stopped to urinate. Yes, they had technique and power, and that’s just what they needed to get up those short intense climbs.Power like that can be developed in the weight room or by doing sprints. It helps to have a coach to push you through the pain of lactic acid development.Lance Armstrong had similar power before his cancer; he just had to reconfigure his body to channel that power to become a Tour De France winner.After a season of downhill skiing or snowboarding, a lot of locals have developed power in their legs – now they just need to get on their bikes to reacquaint their bodies to doing a different exercise. Hopefully they have kept up on their cardio training in some fashion during the winter so now they can use that power. Ron lost all of his power a short time back when he turned 35. Give him some advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.