I went on a long mountain bike ride this last weekend. My first of the year, which is unfortunate and a bit sad, but true nonetheless. I also went on a long hike this weekend. With my bike on my shoulder, but that is part of the story to come later.
In the meantime, I ran across this great online Bicycle Power Calculator (http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/ProdDiss/Bicycle/bikecalc1.htm). It is a bit intimidating at first, because there are so many variables, but spend a few minutes to put in some basic information and it is a really cool tool to learn some practical reality of what it takes to move your bike.
For instance, I read someplace years ago that dropping your bike weight one pound was the same as dropping your own weight six pounds. It turns out that this is not completely true, but not too far off, except that what you really see is that dropping either or both of these doesn't make much difference until 1) you start going uphill and 2) when you are going uphill you try to go fast. On flat ground, the weight of the bike makes very little difference. Similarly, on flat ground, even good size weight differences make very little difference in the number of watts it takes to move a bike at any given speed.
That explains my ability to keep up on flat courses or if people are moving slowly uphill. When it gets steep, however, my weight is so much of a detriment that I can't ever overcome it with more strength. So, the age old lesson of focusing on the engine instead of the equipment is sound advice.
Look for me at Jenny Craig for lunch, Weight Watchers for dinner and hoisting a beer to congratulate myself on dropping some lb's. In the meantime, check out the calculator.
Also in the meantime, a couple of pictures from the Three Summit Adventure.