You can’t say that, No. 2

December 18, 2014 § 21 Comments

Incredibly, his mother forgot to tell him that something can be both a favor AND forbidden.

“I threw the bag in the suitcase without covering it. It was mixed with clothing. I didn’t know I was doing anything forbidden, just a favour.” Mexican racer Jose Alfredo Aguirre, busted at the Alicante airport in Spain with EPO and human growth hormone in his carry-on baggage, allegedly given to him by his coach. Cycling News, December 16, 2014.

***************

For example, he would totally dispense with that “getting caught” stuff. And the kidney failure.

“I wouldn’t dope, or I’d at least do it differently.” Disgraced, banned, and self-admitted “idiot” Riccardo Riccò at his book signing, explaining what he’d learned from a career that ended when he almost killed himself due to a botched home-job transfusion. Cycling News, December 17, 2014.

***************

But then, goshdangit, they made him pee into that little cup-thingy after the race.

“After having served a suspension in 2011, I never expected to find myself in this situation again.” Old fellow Todd Robertson, 51, after receiving an 8-year ban as a repeat doper at masters nationals in Bend. USADA sanction list, May 14, 2014.

***************

Or, it could just be the rather pedestrian story of another cheating dirtbag.

“I am confident that this will soon become a dramatic story about professionalism and family, with the outcome of the results of the counter-analysis that will be demanded by my lawyer.” Matteo Robattini, just prior to the counter-analysis demanded by his lawyer that confirmed he had in fact doped with EPO. TuttoSport 24-Ore, September 17, 2014.

END

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Wankmeister cycling clinic #26: Winter training

December 17, 2014 § 10 Comments

Dear Wankmeister,

I am hoping to get a pro contract next year and want to start the season strong, without losing fitness over the cold months. I live in Los Angeles, where it can be very hard to train during the winter. As I write this the weather has plunged to 65F, and scattered showers (20%) are predicted throughout the day. It’s been like this since Monday, and I can’t afford to lose any more fitness. I’m 37 and just upgraded to Cat 2, so this is my last shot at the big time.

Anxiously,
Andy Armpit

Dear Andy,

Your concerns are well founded. You begin losing cardio fitness after 24 hours, and muscle begins turning into beer after a week of inactivity. Southern California is a challenging place to stay fit in the winter, with anywhere from six to ten days of overcast skies and an average of 1-2 inches of rain from October – March. Winter lows can hover in the high 50’s, often for weeks at a time. Having the right equipment will make the difference between getting a ride with BMC in 2015 and having to beat me again in an upgrade crit. Get an indoor trainer like this. All the pros use them.

Perspiringly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister,

I bought that trainer like you said but after thirty minutes it was so boring that I jumped off and smashed out all the plate glass windows in my house. Is racing at the pro level really this hard? Also, I posted my trainer ride on Facebag, Strava, and emailed it to all my friends but no one has “liked” or “kudo’d” it yet. Any ideas?

Stunned,
Andy Armpit

Dear Andy,

Sorry. I forgot to tell you, you also need to buy the entire library of these. You probably didn’t send the training file to enough people. Try Twitter, Linked-In, and Pinterest. People actually really enjoy poring over trainer files, so keep sharing. And pro racing isn’t nearly as hard as riding on a trainer for thirty minutes. If you can get up to 1-2 hours you will have simulated Roubaix or a climbing week in the Tour.

Forgetfully,
Wankmeister

Hey, Wanky

I got the library and am up to 3 hours a day. My FTP has increased 20% and I am rolling like a monster. But the software on the videos compares my wattage to the actual wattage in a pro race, and there is still a gap. For example, the winner of the Ronde averaged 350 watts for seven hours, whereas I’m averaging 175 watts for my first thirty minutes and dropping off significantly after that. Thoughts?

Curiously,
Andy Armpit

Dear Andy,

You are definitely pro material. Sorry, but I forgot to mention that you need someone to help structure your workouts. There are a lot of quacks out there claiming to know how to get you to the next level, but these folks are the best of the best. Get ‘r done, buddy!

Encouragingly,
Wankmeister

Yo, Wanky!

All the floorboards in my house have rotted through due to the sweat from my indoor trainer. Also, I go through three tires a day, and at $70 a pop we’re having to cut back on electricity, water, and Rapha. I’m up to fourteen hours a day now, though. FTP is up another 5%! Getting “R” done!! Any ideas for the floorboards??

Creakingly,
Andy Armpit

Dear Andy,

I forgot to tell you that you need one of these, too. All the pros have one; it’s where Lance hangs all his yellow jerseys. Also, fourteen hours is good. You might be ready to go to the next level, details here.

Commitmentedly,
Wankmeister

Dear Mr. Wankmeister,

We have been directed to you by the wife of our client, Mr. Andy Armpit, may he rest in peace, who indicates that you will be responsible for the bills pertaining to the memorial service and hand-carved urn for his cremains. We accept all major credit cards.

Respectfully,
Green Garden Happy Lawns of Foreverness Funeral Home

END

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Kids these days

December 16, 2014 § 15 Comments

I carefully went over my race plan with Derek on Saturday night. “Look, Wanky,” he said. “Don’t be an idiot.”

“That’s a tall order. Sears Tower tall.”

“I know. But you can do it. Here’s the deal,” he said. I was so excited because I love talking pre-race strategy. Not that I ever implement it, but it’s fun. “You have to wait ’til halfway. Don’t smash yourself at the beginning.”

“Yeah?” I asked.

“Yeah. Halfway through everyone will sit up.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And they’ll be tired.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Because of all the knuckleheads who’ve been killing themselves from the beginning.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. But not you. You’ve waited until … how long are you gonna wait?”

“Halfway!” I shouted.

“Exactly! And because it’s halfway and all the knuckleheads have been attacking from the gun, you’re gonna be fresh.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And that’s when you’re gonna attack. One time. And make it stick.”

“Then what?”

Derek shrugged. “Cross that bridge when you come to it.”

On the morning of the race my teammates were really happy to have me there. They were as excited as I was. “Hi, Eric!” I said. Eric is our team leader and super fast guy. He and I are pals. I said hello a few more times and he turned around.

“Oh, it’s you.”

“Yep. Here to work for the team!”

Eric came over to me. “Look, Wanky. Do two things.” He looked kind of upset.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. One — stay out of my way.”

“Okay!”

“Two — don’t chase me down. Got that?”

“Yep! It’s gonna be a fun race, huh?” I don’t think he heard me because he had already turned away. Then I saw my other best friend, Josh. “Hey, Josh!” I said. He didn’t answer for a few minutes but I kept calling his name and since he was standing next to me he finally heard me.

“Yeah?” he said.

“Well, ol’ pal, it’s gonna be a fun race today, huh?” I said.

“Look, Wanky, I don’t have time to fuck with your bullshit today. If you chase me down again in another race I’m going to kick your ass with a tire iron.”

“Did I chase you down last time?”

“No. You chase me down every time. And we’re all sick of it.”

“If someone would just tell me what to do.”

“We yell at you until we’re hoarse and you still chase us down. So cut the crap.”

“Okay, pal,” I said. “I’ve got a special plan for today anyway.” The rest of the team kind of glowered, but it was a happy, friendly sort of glower.

Soon the race started. Just like Derek said, the idiots all attacked from the gun, but not me. I did exactly what he said and waited until I was halfway through the first lap. Then I attacked. However, no one had sat up and no one looked very tired. In fact, they all looked quite fresh because they were all on my wheel. So I moved over and waited for another lap. “Maybe he meant halfway through the second lap,” I thought, and so I attacked again, but no luck. “Well it must have been halfway through some lap,” I told myself, so each time I got halfway through a lap I attacked I but never got anywhere except really tired.

Finally, about halfway through the race, everyone sat up. I was pretty beat from all the attacking, but I attacked again and they let me go. After a while out there I got even more tired. The wind was blowing and my bike wasn’t going very fast and I had all kinds of breakfast stuff gurgling up into my mouth. Yuck. Then some guy bridged up to me and I remembered the winning advice given to me by Daniel Holloway, 3-time elite national champion, which was this: “Be the second strongest guy in the break.”

That was gonna be easy since there were only two of us, except the guy I was with must have heard the same advice, as he kept trying to be second to me, and me second to him, until before long we were going about twelve miles an hour and another guy came up to us, a teammate, and then three more guys, including Josh. I was so happy to see Josh because he is a hammer. “Hey, pal!” I said happily.

“Don’t you dare chase me down. Or Ino, either,” he said, pointing to the other teammate.

“Oh, I won’t!” I promised.

“And remember, the fastest guy in the race is Eric and he’s back there, and none of us three can sprint so we’re not going to win out of this break, so let the other wankers do all the work so that either Eric can bridge and win or one of us can attack at the end when the others are all tired. Whatever you do, don’t fuggin’ work hard.”

I tried to remember all of what he said but it was too darned complicated and plus being in a break is the most exciting thing ever so I just went to the front and hammered as hard as I could. There was a young kid who had also bridged who never took a pull and sat on the whole time, but I didn’t pay any attention to him. Lazy kid. He was probably thinking about his math homework.

Josh kept yelling at me something about sitting in or sitting down or sitting duck but I was too tired to understand what he said. Towards the end someone attacked hard and opened a big gap; it looked like the winning move but thankfully I shut it down with a superhuman effort, then I realized it was my teammate Ino, darn it.

Then the lazy kid with the math homework who’d done nothing the whole break leaped away with one and a half laps to go. For a little punk he went fast. Somehow I caught him and then everyone slowed down. Next thing I knew our ringer Eric had bridged with 3/4 of a lap to go. He looked fast and primed for victory.

Then things got confusing. Some guy who looked pretty sprintworthy jumped hard right before the last turn. I got on his wheel and then some other things happened, I’m not sure what, but afterwards I heard some people saying that perhaps I had exploded in the middle of the sprunt and blocked all my teammates so that the lazy kid actually won. Not sure that’s true, by the way, but after the race none of my teammates would talk to me.

I think they were just tired.

END

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When being completely lazy isn’t enough

December 15, 2014 § 30 Comments

You might think that Louis Zamperini, Michael Brown, Milton Olin, this weekend’s CBR upgrade crit, and the midterm congressional elections are unrelated.

You’d be wrong.

Louie Zamperini was the poster child for the Greatest Generation, the men and women who fought World War II and made the world safe for democracy. Michael Brown was the unarmed man gunned down by a killer cop. Milton Olin was the bicycle rider mowed down by a deputy who wasn’t paying attention, and who wasn’t even prosecuted. The CBR upgrade crit this weekend was a bicycle race that about a 10% increase in participation from 2013.

There’s a reason that Americans love WW II stories like Louie’s, the story of an Olympic runner from a tumbledown house in Torrance, CA who crashed in the Pacific while flying as a bombardier, survived 47 days in the open ocean on a raft, and then somehow made it through more than two years of torture in various Japanese POW camps. Americans love these stories because World War II is the last time this country did anything good for the world commensurate with our resources and our capacity. Since then our achievements have been defeats in Korea and Vietnam, defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a national government that thinks torture is a good thing. Maybe they need to read Unbroken to remember why it isn’t.

World War II was a war for many things. One of those things was democracy, which is the right to choose our own form of government and to have a voice in the laws that we decide to abide by. Twenty years after the war, almost 50% of Americans voted in congressional midterm elections, a high watermark in modern midterm voter turnout. It’s no coincidence that this happened alongside the civil rights movement, and it’s no coincidence that we more opportunity and more equally distributed wealth than we do today.

Michael Brown was killed and the killer was no-billed by the grand jury. He walked. People responded with riots, protests, and fury. But they didn’t respond with votes. The midterm turnout in 2014, when Americans were outraged enough to riot over our police state, was 36.4 percent, the lowest in 70 years.

Milton Olin’s killer wasn’t prosecuted because the district attorney chose to ignore the evidence and protect a member of the police. She’s an elected official, but doesn’t have to worry because she knows that angry cyclists will vent their fury on Facebook, chat forums, and listservs, but they won’t vote. And she’s right. Less than 30 percent of the electorate bothered to vote.

This weekend’s CBR upgrade crit grew ten percent over last year. Once reason it grew is because various people in the bike racing community did something more effective than jizzing over Strava, or posting sexy bike photos from the latest group ride. They actively encouraged their friends to show up and race.

Is there a lesson here? There is.

The most satisfying thing is to vent, whether it’s by burning a few cars, smashing out a few windows, marching in solidarity while chanting chanty chants, or bashing race promoters because their races are too boring/too expensive/ too far away/ too [fill in your complaint here]. But the most effective thing isn’t always the most satisfying thing, at least not in the beginning.

The most effective thing is voting. It may be hard. There may be huge barriers to doing it. They system may be set up to keep you away from the polls. But you know what? People were willing to die to cast a vote in Afghanistan’s presidential election this year. I’m pretty sure that whatever’s keeping 70% of the electorate from rolling off the couch and signing up for a mail-in ballot isn’t as challenging as the risk of getting your brains blown out by the Taliban.

Bike racing is the same. It’s only by encouraging people to race that they will go race. If we want a robust racing scene, it’s on us. And if we think that a 10% increase is nothing, imagine that 10% compounded every six months or every three, something that’s totally doable if everyone who claims to like racing takes the time to call, prod, and push. In two years’ time we’d have full fields, every category, every race.

That’s the same with voting. I respect the right to march and to voice discontent. Hell, I agree with it. But until we’ve voted, or urged a buddy to come out and race, we haven’t really done anything. Social media protests give the illusion of action, but really they just turn us into one more yammering idiot who’s got all the energy to bitch, and none of the conviction to back it up. A ten percent increase in voter turnout over two or three election cycles would revolutionize this country without firing a shot. But to do it, like encouraging people to go race their bikes, we have to do something more arduous than firing up Facebag and hitting “like.”

The Louie Zamperinis of World War II took action. Maybe we should, too.

END

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A crappy blog

December 14, 2014 § 30 Comments

I was reading an article yesterday about hippo ecology and their poop. We don’t know much about hippos, apparently. Closely related to whales — yes, whales — they spend most of their time underwater and are hard to study for two reasons.

  1. They hate people and kill them.
  2. They all look alike.

Yep, no one’s ever figured out a way to tell Hippo A from Hippo B. You can’t put a radio collar on them because they don’t have necks. You can’t tell them apart based on scars, nicked ears and such because they are underwater all the time, and if you get in their river they will kill you. The only time they come on land is at dusk and at night, to eat and poop. Hippos also display male dominance by madly swishing their tails as they poop, spraying it into the faces of the junior males.

The magazine, a respected scientific journal, actually called it “poop.”

I’m no hippo scientist, but I’ve been to plenty of zoos with hippo pools, and I can tell you one thing. It isn’t “poop.” Hippos shit, folks. Hugely massive endless streams of stinking shit. It’s not feces and it’s not crap and it’s not manure. If you doubt me, go to a hippo pool and take a whiff, then tell me if it smells anything like what’s in your baby’s diaper. If it does, you need to get another baby.

I have a lot of stress in my life. I used to think the biggest stress was the 27 years of marriage to Mrs. WM (28 in four more days, as she reminded me at a party last night). But it’s not. The biggest stress is wondering what I’m going to put in the blog each day. If I were smart I would write it the night before, when things have just happened and are fresh in my mind, except at night I’m too tired.

So I wait until four a.m. or so. I don’t need an alarm clock anymore thanks to the blog; it wakes me up very early and asks me, “Do you have it yet?” The answer is always “No.”

Great newspaper columnists like Mike Royko and terrible ones like Lynn Ashby, giants who had to write a new column once every single week (how did they survive?), used to keep a “spare” in their desk drawer in case, at deadline time, the well was dry. Me, I have no backup.

Worse, I don’t even have a formula because I hate formulas. BikeSnob can troll through the Internet or his mailbox, pick out a half dozen weird things and make fun of them. The beginning doesn’t have to have anything to do with the end, and it doesn’t. Sit, copy, paste, type, done. Boom. Get on with the day. How awesome is that? Very awesome.

Me, by five o’clock if there’s no theme or story, I have to start writing anyway.

“Why five o’clock?” you ask. “That’s awfully early. Why can’t you organize something, do a couple of drafts, and get started at, say, six or seven?”

“Because,” I say, “cyclists are already pooping by then.”

In addition to writing on a theme every day and my marriage, I have my third biggest stress: Helping my readers poop. I wish that every cyclist who has come up to me and said, “I love your blog, dude. I read it every morning on the shitter,” loved me enough to click the “subscribe” button in the upper right-hand corner of the blog’s home page. I would be a hundredaire by now.

Similar to the absence of research on hippo poop, most of the major cycling publications don’t write much about cycling and shitting. Joel Friel and Training Peaks don’t yet have a data input for TPD, turdage per day. I’m not sure why this is, since shitting is not only one of the most enjoyable parts about cycling (and life in general), but it’s something of particular concern to anyone who rides a bike. Nothing is worse than getting all your stuff on, airing up your tires, preparing for the “big ride,” and then getting that instantaneous feeling of “someone dropped Willy the killer whale in my colon and now he is yearning to be free.”

That’s “now” as in “if you wait another ten seconds we’re gonna have a city-wide brownout.” The pre-ride dump is why so many cyclists show up five minutes late, in fact. That’s how long it takes to rip off everything, uncoil the cookie dough, slaughter half a roll of toilet paper, and get dressed again.

Dump preparation is also the reason that most riders make sure to get up long before the ride. They don’t want to get caught with their pants down, so they form a routine.

  1. Make coffee, which enhances crappage.
  2. Eat high fiber cereal or other crap inducer.
  3. Wait around, usually 30 minutes.
  4. Lunge for the throne.
  5. Enjoy.

As I have found out, for many of my friends, #5 is accompanied by my blog. Yesterday G3 rolled up to me at the beginning of the Donut Ride. “Dude,” he said. “How come your blog was late this morning? It didn’t pop up on my phone ’til I was almost done shitting.”

I didn’t ask him why he had his phone on the toilet, but since he is a subscriber and therefore a customer, and since the customer is always right, I apologized and asked him to send me a text called “morning dump” so I would remember to blog about it. At the same time, I tried not to imagine him seated there, his hairy belly poking out, his legs spread open as his organ dangled down into the black recess of the potty, the glazed-over, blissful grin spreading over his face as each charge hit the water, and the proud review and detailed size/shape/composition analysis of his morning creation before he flushed. I say I tried not to imagine it, but you can see that didn’t work.

So the next time you think you’re having a shitty day, think about me and the pressure I have to not only write on a daily basis, but to also serve as the Internet’s most important cycling laxative. I suppose the whole shit thing could be worse. At least I’m not required to display — or worse, be subject to — male dominance the same way as a hippo.

END

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Slow learner

December 13, 2014 § 8 Comments

In thirty-three years of riding and racing, I’ve gotten two good pieces of advice, which makes for an average of one about every seventeen years.

The first one was from the Fireman. I was pounding my brains out on the front of some stupid group ride. A few people got unhitched, but most didn’t. Towards the end I faded and could barely struggle home, much less contest the sprunts. The fresher rides beat me like a rug on cleaning day.

“Dude,” said Fireman, “just remember. You race like you train.”

“Huh?” I said.

“Yeah. You train like an idiot, and you’re gonna race like an idiot.”

I thought about that, and he was right. Fireman trains smart, and every year he wins a couple of very hard races. The races that he targets, he almost always places in. He’s not the best climber, the best sprinter, the best breakaway rider, or the best time trialist. But he trains smart, and he races even smarter.

It was good advice, but useless, because I love to pound on training rides. “Everyone gets shelled,” is my motto, so when it’s my turn I accept my beating, almost joyfully. Almost.

The second good piece of advice I got was from three-time national crit champion and all-around hammer and good guy, Daniel Holloway. I had watched Daniel work over the Gritters brothers earlier this year on the third day of the 805 Crit series put on by Mike Hecker. It was two against one in a three-up breakaway. Daniel had to go fast enough to stave off a lightning fast pro field, but not so fast that he burned himself out when it came time for the sprunt. With one lap to go he attacked the Gritterses and soloed.

“How’d you do that?” I asked one day when we were coming back from the NPR.

“Easy,” he said. “I followed the breakaway rule.”

“The breakaway rule? As in, ‘Don’t ever be in one?'”

He laughed. “No, that’s the wankaway rule. The breakaway rule is ‘Don’t ever be the strongest guy in the break.'”

“Huh?”

“Yeah. If you feel great, don’t ever show that you’re the strongest. If you’ve got the legs to win and you’re up the road with three or four other guys, always be the second strongest guy in the break. Never the strongest.”

“What does that mean, you know, like, in reality?”

“Don’t take the hardest pull, take the second hardest pull. Don’t take the longest pull, take the second longest pull. When the ‘strongest’ guy takes a monster pull, show that it hurt you and rotate to the back, even quickly.”

“Then what?”

“You saw the 805 Crit, didn’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s the ‘then what.’ When it’s time, you go. And the ‘strongest’ guy who’s been out there crushing it for the last hour suddenly isn’t the strongest guy anymore. You are.”

I memorized every line of this conversation and swore I would put it into practice. On a few of the Donut Rides I’ve managed not to completely spend myself in the first ten minutes and have actually done respectably on the climbs. One time I even beat Dave Jaeger. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Daniel showed up for our new Thursday AM beatdown ride on the Flog Course around the Palos Verdes golf club.

On the first lap the Wily Greek strung it out, dropped all but ten people, and stuffed the rest of us deep into the hurt locker. After hanging out for a few moments in that close, uncomfortable space without enough air, I got dropped. Then I felt a hand on my ass and a strong push. It was Daniel, grinning, and the fucker wasn’t even breathing hard. “Suffer, old man,” he laughed, easily throwing me back up to the leaders.

On the second lap he attacked and only Wily and Derek could answer. The rest of us melted into a loose coalition of hapless chasers. Forgetting everything he’d told me, I rode like a madman, the strongest guy in the four-man chase. By the sixth and last lap I was a puddle of guts. When I hit the 20% final climb up La Cuesta, my chase group companions roared past. Daniel was coming down the hill. He saw me, turned around, and rode up next to me, about to offer me some key advice.

“Don’t say it,” I said.

“Don’t say what?” he asked.

“Advice. Don’t give me any more advice.”

“How come?” he said, grinning.

“Because it’s not seventeen years yet.”

He looked at me funny and easily pedaled away.

END

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Louie Amelburu and his letter from USADA

December 12, 2014 § 48 Comments

I came across this Dec. 10, 2014, Facebook post by Louie Amelburu: “I know that many of you are aware I was targeted by usada and tested—for the fourth time in one year—at the Mt. Charleston Hill Climb this year. I am sorry to report that unfortunately my test results were such that you will have to race the Hispanic that creates panic for yet another year. For all my supporters, teammates and family, thank you. I would never let you down. As I always say, there is no substitute for hard work. If you ever have a doubt as to what my results are attributable to, you have an open invitation to train with me. Just turn the cookie and make it crumble.”

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I thought it was a strange post. First, there’s some pretty obvious anger at having been “targeted” four times this year. According to Louie, he was tested twice at nationals in 2013, once at the Pan-Am Games, and once at the Mt. Charleston hill climb where he beat former elite men’s champion Chris Walker. Why the indignation at being tested? At the 2013 masters nationals Louie got a bronze medal in the mixed-tandem road race, fourth in the time trial, 11th in the road race, and 12th in the crit. At the Pan-Am masters cycling road race in Guadalajara in 2013, Louie won the road race. The top three finishers at nationals and at major international events are always highly likely targets for testing. Instead of scorn at being targeted for a test, anyone who’s been around the block knows that being tested is how results are validated. It’s not that the organizers think you are a cheat, it’s that they know cheating occurs, and this is one way of trying to root it out.

Even stranger is the proud publication of his USADA letter. Dude, newsflash: A certain former professional now banned for life claimed to have been tested more than 500 times and never turned a positive result. He’s got a library of letters like that. The absence of a doping violation doesn’t prove you aren’t doping, it just means that your test was negative and you get to keep your plastic medal and box of Clif bars. Cycling is a sport where some people dope, and if you win there are people who will suspect that you cheat. Get used to it. I’ve heard so many whispers about so many people that if all the rumors were true everyone would be a doper, including the refs, spectators, and their dogs. Self-righteous publication of your non-positive letter will never convince those who think you’re a cheater, but it will make people who’ve never thought about it one way or another start to consider the matter. It’s like screaming from the rooftops, “I don’t beat my wife!”

Really? I didn’t know people said that you did. Hmmmmmm.

Strangest of all is the proud declaration that your results are attributable to your incredible work ethic. Do you really want to say that? Because if your results are solely attributable to how hard you train, it means that no one trains as hard as you, and we’ve heard that somewhere before. How do you know you train harder than all of your competitors? And since when does the hardest trainer in bike racing win the race? The real message about “how hard I train” is that you are simply better than everyone else, not just because you train harder, but because you’re smarter, quicker, more tactical, and genetically superior. The problem with that explanation is that in your SoCal category, the leaky prostate division of 50+ riders, you’re racing against former Olympians, Tour riders, classics campaigners, and elite national champions. You’re smarter and more genetically gifted than they are AND you train harder? Really?

In truth, your results are suspect for two simple reasons.

First, everyone who wins a big bike race, a whole bunch of races, or often even a small one, is suspect. That’s what the sport has become. Get secure in your skin, man, because if you want to stand on the top step people are going to accuse you of cheating, and it’s not because you’re Hispanic. It’s because doping is still a big part of the sport today, cf. Pro Team Astana.

Second, you have a resume that some find incredible. Ten top-five places, and an astounding twenty-one first places in 2014 including a national championship, according to the USA Cycling web site. 2013 wasn’t a bad year either, with 25 victories and a slew of podiums.

In 2012 you “only” had 19 victories, but you kind of made up for it with 15 top-five finishes. Then there were 14 wins in 2011, 10 wins in 2010, 17 wins in 2009, 9 wins in 2008, and 6 wins in 2007. Before that, things weren’t quite so stellar, at least by your standards, with 3 wins in 2006, 1 win in 2005, 1 win in 2004, 1 ‘cross win in 2003, one win in 2002, and no wins at all in 2001.

I’m no statistician or sports physiologist, but you have gone from being a pretty solid bike racer to the dude who, as you say, creates panic. I remember one year at Devil’s Punchbowl when you had a mechanical on the first climb. I’d already been shelled, and I passed you as you fumbled with your chain or tire or whatever it was. You caught me on the backstretch and I sat on your wheel for about three miles until you just rode me off it, and then chased down the pack which was in a different time zone, and then you attacked and caught the break. I think you won that year.

Some people might point to the fact that you almost doubled your wins between 2006 and 2007 in what is one of the most competitive racing categories among masters as evidence that you’d started putting something special in your Wheaties. However, although I’ve wondered about it in the past, after thinking about it and looking critically at your results I’d argue that your trajectory fits pretty well with a talented athlete who starts cycling as a masters racer, begins as pack fodder (2001), and over the course of thirteen years develops into a skilled and elite competitor. It’s not as if you went from fodder to unbeatable in a season, to the contrary — you’ve been working doggedly at this for years and years and years, racing against the best, learning, improving, and above all, racing. You’re a middle school health teacher and seem to have plenty of time to train.

Moreover, your wins tend to come in hilly road races or stage races. The champion masters doper profile of “wins TT’s, crits, stage races, hill climbs, road races, and everything else” doesn’t fit your resume. Also, your supposed dominance isn’t really all that dominating because much of your racing is in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona where fields aren’t as deep or as fast as they are in California. And although you put the wood to plenty of the best SoCal roadies, you’re by no means a shoo-in. In fact, the deeper the field the more normal (for an excellent bike racer) your results become. Tour of the Gila, 18th in the road race. In the SCNCA district championships this year you didn’t win the 50+ and you got 13th in the 40+. You got 3rd at the hilly Vlees Huis RR and could “only” manage 9th in the nationals road race and 10th in the crit. Your big wins were stage races, which makes sense because you excel at road racing and time trialing. Although the sheer number of wins is impressive, when you break them down they really do fit a narrative about ability, dedication, and focus on one or two disciplines.

But since it’s masters bike racing we’re talking about, there should always be a degree of skepticism. Check the USADA list of sanctioned athletes and you’ll find plenty of old cycling farts who thought they could dope their way to victory and never get caught. Welcome to 2014, where if you aren’t somewhat skeptical, you’re a fool.

With results and performances like yours, not to mention the personal humiliation of having you crush and destroy countless fragile egos, some people will always suspect that you cheat. This is where, instead of being offended, you need to shrug and say, “I understand where you’re coming from.”

People also suspect that LBJ killed JFK, that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, and that Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was done in a Hollywood movie studio. Get comfortable with your results if they’re legitimate, and don’t lash out at the testers who are not only doing their job but who are also validating everyone’s results, including yours. If possible, don’t hold it too much against the “haters” who’ve been around the block a few times and view your performances as suspect. It’s hard to have stars in your eyes when they’ve been previously poked with a stick.

I’ve seen you race plenty, and as near as I can tell you’re flat out better than the people you beat on that particular day. You don’t win every race, you don’t dominate every discipline, and people I know and respect vouch for the intensity of your training and the depth of your commitment. And if you ever do test positive, it won’t have ever affected me. I was fighting for 45th place.

END

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