November 8, 2013 § 39 Comments
Dear Southern California/Nevada Cycling Association:
Thank you for making Ontario the site of the 2014 masters state criterium championships. I know you had a chance to also designate the 805 Crit in Santa Barbara County, but that course blows.
Ontario is the crit course that masters love best and you guys “get it.” For starters, Ontario is biker heaven. Some folks call it a shit hole covered in puke, but they are just jealous. Four-turn biz park courses with huge turns that are big enough to pilot a small naval warship through are the true test of crit skills. Whiny bitches say “it’s too easy for a championship” and “it’s not a crit, it’s a yawnfest,” but who cares what they say?
Real crit racers know that the best test of crit skills is a course so stupidly easy that you can sail through the turns with your eyes closed. You guys get that. Respect.
Also, the 805 Crit is put on by Mike Hecker and fuck that dude. In 2013 his race was a total joke. It only had 10k in prize money and the races were so fuggin hard that no one could do more than one race. Who wants a hard race? Bike racing is for showboating and not cracking a sweat. If you have to bleed sperm out of your eyeballs in order to win, what’s the point?
Also, that Hecker Wanker dude fugged the pooch because he put his races in downtown Lompoc/Buellton. The Ontario race is in a cool office park where you can look at really awesome square buildings filled with angry managers who fondle their secretaries and then get sued. That’s America, and SCNCA gets it!
Plus, Hecker Wanker got a fuggin beer company to put up beer tents. That really sucked. When I sit outside all day to watch idiots race their bikes in blindingly hot weather, I want to drink a glass of toasty warm mik. Cold beer by Firestone Brewery is so lame. At Ontario you can also top off your day by driving home on the 10. That rocks, whereas in Santa Barbara you have to fuggin stay overnight and then take your old lady to some froo-froo winery. Fugg that shit.
The other thing that sucks about Hecker Wanker’s races is that people actually enjoy them. Bike racing is about making people miserable, and Ontario’s crit course is the most miserable place west of the Mississippi, except for Lubbock. More mad respect. I hope they triple the entry fees because if it’s not a complete rip-off then it’s not worth doing.
But best of all, by putting masters states at Ontario you telegraph that guys like Hecker Wanker don’t matter. Who gives a rat’s ass if he’s promoting the sport in far-flung communities by putting the race down-fucking-town, in areas where SoCal racing is usually absent? Fugg that dude for being so ballsy. He needs to get in line and wait his fuggin turn. I propose taking a serious look at the 805 Crit in 2052. Seriously.
Finally, and I know that you guys get this, the worst place to ever put a big race is in the middle of a downtown. If you do that, ordinary people learn about bike racing, and as USA Cycling always says, FUGG THAT! Bike racing is for fancy rich awesome middle-aged douchefarts, not for regular people. If you put races in small town downtowns, then small town kids will get interested in racing bikes. FUGG THAT! Bike racing is for old people, for sure.
Anyway, good job, SCNCA. Keep putting our marquee races in Ontario. That place is the kind of shit hole that bike racers love best. Hidden from ordinary people. Keep the control in the hands of the old boy network. Water bottle primes. You fuggin get it.
November 7, 2013 § 12 Comments
The 2014 Belgian Waffle Ride is upon us. The date has been irrevocably carved in stone as April 20, or April 27, or some other date that won’t offend the Catholics.
In between now and then, I thought I would explain how to BWR for all the people who are thinking about doing it, including those like Prez who did it but still don’t quite “get it.”
There is only one rule, affectionately known as The Rule. It goes like this: Don’t cut the course.
“But I didn’t cut the course! I’d never cut the course!” you wail and moan.
Right. We learned in 2012, the first year of the BWR, that people actually would cut the course, and did. So in 2013 riders were asked to create a Strava account and upload their ride upon completion. Predictably, most did, but many conspicuously did not.
That’s okay, to the extent that this is a free country (sort of), and to the extent that once you pay your entry fee you can do whatever you want. However, by not uploading your data you are surrendering all credibility and, what is more important, bragging rights. You cannot brag that you “did the BWR in 2013″ without ride data, or rather you can brag that you did it, but after checking Strava everyone will roll their eyes.
It’s the same with Paris-Roubaix. You have to finish the race within the time cutoff to be able to claim that you finished it. No hard feelings, but you either did it the right way or you didn’t.
So as you develop your plan for 2014, be sure to include your Strava file, if that’s what’s used, or a timing chip, if that’s the method. If you’re afraid that your iPhone battery won’t last, borrow a pal’s Garmin and use that. Otherwise, you are just another flailer drowning his sorrows in the delicious beer at ride’s end. Which, you know, isn’t actually a bad thing.
November 5, 2013 § 19 Comments
The latest stick-and-tell exposé about drugs and cycling by Michael Rasmussen, “Charging While Charged,” has unexpectedly caused all pro cyclists, past and present, to admit to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
“When I read that Chicken had implicated everyone on the entire Rabobank team, my first reaction, you know, was to demand a retraction and a public apology and threaten litigation,” said three-time world road champion Oscar Freire. “But then I was like, fuck it. Who am I fuggin kidding?”
When asked if this was an admission to doping, Freire said, “Only when I cycled.”
Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d’Italia who had never stood on a grand tour podium in fifteen attempts, concurred. “Drugs, brah. Every fuggin day.”
The next domino to fall was Chris Horner, the first 75-year-old to win a grand tour, and the first winner of a grand tour to ever be booted off his team for winning one. “Yeah, man,” said Horner. “Only so long you can keep up the ‘cheeseburgers complete me’ bullshit. I fuggin doped from Monday to Sunday.”
But it wasn’t until the greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx, confessed to a life of cheating that the rest of the peloton also confessed. “Look,” said Merckx. “It’s just not my fault that everyone is stupid. I did what I had to do.”
When asked what he “had to do,” Merckx said this: “Drugs. A merde-load of drugs. Drugs up my ass. Drugs up my nose. Drugs in my coffee. Drugs down the pie-hole. Drugs in my drugs. Drugs in the baby food. Why you fuggin think Axel turned into a top Belgian pro? Wasn’t the fuggin famous Belgian food.”
When asked about his lifelong denial of drug use, Merckx said this: “I was lying.”
Cascade of confessions
With Merckx’s public confession, the rest of the pro peloton quickly fell into line. First to step up was 2013 Tour winner Chrissy Froome. “Volcano doping. Like Eddy, up the ass.”
Retired pro Greg LeMond, long a champion of the anti-doping movement, likewise threw in the towel. “I’m tired of this fuggin charade,” he said. “Yeah, I doped. Now can I have a beer and will you please go away?”
Jonathan Vaughters, owner of Team Garmin and Prancing Pricks Who are Holier Than Everyone, Especially Thou, gave up the ghost as well. “Yeah, we’re fuggin filthy,” he confessed. “Drugs. It’s what’s for fuggin dinner. Not to mention breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.”
David Brailsford, another proponent of clean cycling through Team Sky, hung his head in shame, frustration, and disgust. “We. Fuggin. Dope. What about that do you not understand?”
Bryan Cookson, UCI president and sponsor of the “Can’t We Just Get Along Reconciliation and Handholding Mission to Restore Faith and Trust in Something That Never Had Either,” convened a meeting in which all cyclists in the history of the sport attended and confessed their sins. In a gigantic auditorium they all chanted in unison, “We fuggin doped. We are fuggin dopers. Now leave us the fugg alone, especially Steve Tilford you whiny little bitch.”
Time for change
At a press conference following the mass confession, which was presided over by the Pope and Pat McQuaid, who was forced to additionally confess that he was “a doper AND an asshole,” Cookson explained the reason for the unified admission.
“The whole thing became undeniable. ‘Breaking the Chain,’ by Voet, ‘Rough Ride,’ by Kimmage, ‘We Were Young and Carefree,’ by Fignon, ‘Seven Deadly Sins,’ ‘Cycle of Lies,’ ‘Wheelmen,’ ‘The Secret Race,’ ‘Dog in a Hat,’ ‘From Lance to Landis,’ ‘L.A. Confidential,’ and of course everything ever written about Coppi, Bartali, Anquetil, or anyone who’s ever set foot in Belgium … we all just decided to say ‘Enough. We’re a bunch of lousy, doped up, cheatfuggs.’
In order to make the confessions as thorough as possible, numerous deceased cycling stars were exhumed and had placards hung on their remains. “Dopey Coppi,” and “Tranqui-til” were two of the most popular exhibits set up around the bones of Fausto Coppi and Jacques Anquetil.
Cookson was optimistic that a corner had been turned. “Now that we’ve admitted what everyone knows, there’s no one left to punish, except, of course the fans. We’re going to be asking fans to voluntarily confess to drug use as well, and masturbation. We will clean this sport up once and for all.”
November 4, 2013 § 37 Comments
I’ve done tons of group rides in my life, century rides, memorial rides, fundraising rides, whatever. I’ve never done anything like the Nosco Ride, nothing even close.
Let me tell you about it.
This guy, Mike Nosco, died in a car accident. He was a Navy vet who did two tours in Iraq and an employee of Amgen. I’m not even sure he rode a bike. His brother Jack, a cyclist and Ventura County firefighter, was devastated. He decided to grapple with his grief by helping other people, so he put on a memorial ride. Jack asked for donations, and he gave the money to sick people.
This year was the fifth running of the ride. I don’t like charity rides because they remind me how fucked up our healthcare system is. We’re the only “advanced” nation that has to help people defray crippling medical bills with bake sales and bike rides. It makes me sick to my stomach.
But my good friend Suzanne Sonye threw up a last minute plea on FB the night before the ride. “This one is worth it,” she said.
I looked at the ride’s details, and it didn’t look like a very good ride for me. Rather than preparing with a solid one-month block of climbing (the ride covers 9,500 feet of elevation in 81 miles), I’d been preparing by doing 45-minute ‘cross races and the occasional high-speed crash on my head.
Nor was I thrilled about what I was sure would be a pretty expensive donation.
I showed up the morning of the event and learned that it was free. You could donate if you wanted, or not. “What size t-shirt would you like?” asked the wonderful young lady at the registration booth. You see, you got a t-shirt and a swag bag whether you donated or not.
“What kind of asshole would come to an event like this and not kick in, at a minimum, the equivalent to a race entry fee?” I wondered.
Answer: Bike racers.
In addition to those who brazenly signed up and accepted the swag and donated little or nothing, many others pirated the ride, waiting a few miles up the road and hopping in, where they got to spend the day lapping up the energy drinks and snarfling down the food at the incredibly well-stocked rest stations.
Reality check redux
There is no easy way to describe the Nosco Ride, except to say it’s mind-bendingly difficult. Whereas Solvang and any number of other rides shoot for the lowest common denominator in terms of difficulty, the Nosco Ride reflects the kind of person Mike Nosco actually was. Gritty, tougher than nails, up for the biggest challenge, and ready to give it his all.
The ride started with a 600-person lemming rush from Borchard Community Park to PCH, and from there the huge swirling wankoton rushed at max speed to Deer Creek Road. This is the one big climb in the Santa Monica Mountains I’ve never done because one time Dave Jaeger told me that it was “Really hard.”
“Harder than Las Flores?”
“By a long shot.”
So I scratched it off my list.
Starting a group ride of 600 people up Deer Creek is unfathomable. It has an average pitch of 72%. It is 43 miles long, unpaved, and goes beneath several pillboxes that are manned with live .50-caliber Browning machine guns. When the group hit Deer Creek, the same group that had been fighting for inches and scrapping for every single position on PCH, it was complete mayhem.
You’ve heard the expression “blew apart the race”? This blew apart the race. The total climb was over five miles long and was so steep that my 39 x 28 wasn’t nearly enough gear to climb it well. That, and my weak legs and puny lungs …
There was a sag station at the top of the climb and people were hurling themselves at the bananas, BonkBreakers, and water bottles. Others were just hurling.
Several miles later we descended Yerba Buena back down to PCH, got a brief respite, and then climbed Mulholland, all nine miles of it. It wasn’t that steep, but after Deer Creek people were completely wrecked. The only course I’ve ever done that is tougher than Nosco is the BWR, and it’s almost fifty miles longer and has an additional five thousand feet of elevation.
Atop Mulholland there was again mayhem at the sag stop. I ate bananas and pb sandwiches and almonds and watermelon and doused myself in water and then went through the food line again.
It isn’t over until about midway through
We next descended Encinal back to PCH, where I fell in with a group who kept a nasty tempo all the way to Latigo. This is one of my demon climbs. Nothing good has ever happened to me on it, and today was no exception. Crushing my best-ever time of 46:19, I managed to finish it in 59:00 flat, and that was only after Lee Adams towed me for the first seven miles of the ten-mile climb. I won’t get into a FB war with her again.
At this next-to-last feed station people were zombie-like. I ate a fistful of sliced bananas and realized only hours later that I’d neglected to remove the peels. The remainder of the ride was rolling, with a few short climbs, not enough downhill, and a filthy headwind the last five miles.
At one point a rider was lying on the roadside with a CHP officer hunched over him. “You okay?” asked the cop.
“I’m fine,” said the downed rider.
“Why are you lying in the road then?”
“Cramps,” he grimaced.
I pedaled on.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore
Back at the park we were served unlimited amounts of delicious Mexican food. Free. And we were served unlimited amounts of Sierra Nevada beer, your choice of Pale Ale or Torpedo. Free. In case you didn’t get that last part, let me repeat: Free.
Then there was live music, an auction, free massages, a bone marrow donor registry, and support from top to bottom by Road Bike Action magazine and Robb Mesecher, who did so much to make this event what it was: unforgettable.
November 3, 2013 § 33 Comments
An article came out in Bike Radar a couple of days ago that reasserted what pros have known for a long time: quit gronking.
Gronking, of course, is the pedaling style of 99.9% of all bicycle riders everywhere, except for those who “super gronk.” I passed one of those dudes on the Donut Ride today, buried in the most intense super gronk I have seen in a long time — no helmet, rusted out MTB from 1989, and going up an 8% grade at the astounding gronk rate of about 20 rpm. I could count the hairs on his leg, he was pedaling so slowly.
Spin to win
We’ve all heard that stupid line. Has it helped? Hell, no. We keep gronking away, shoulders swaying so far from side to side on steep grades that they scrape the pavement, knee joints popping, IT bands snapping, and the only one who’s winning is the physical therapist.
So instead of “spin to win,” which plainly motivates no one, I’m urging you to “spin to beer.” The more you spin, the sooner you’ll get to the end of the ride and beer. You won’t win shit, and you won’t care.
The science of gronking vs. spinning
“Everything happens for a reason, and the reason is usually physics,” a wise woman once said. With regard to cycling, everything happens due to physics and, of course, drugs, tainted beef, and volcano doping, but today we’ll just focus on the physics.
“There is an optimum torque for a given individual, much like there’s an optimal torque range in a car,” says Allen Lim. “Generally speaking, there is good research that shows that as power output goes up, the most efficient cadence for that power also goes up.” Lim, of course, is the former trainer of dopester Floyd Landis and employee of the now completely disgraced dopester team RadioShack during the Armstrong era.
If anyone should know about power output and the variables that affect it, it’s Lim, who’s now doing penance for his association with the dopesters by selling healthful nutrition for athletes.
But back to gronking …
What Lim is saying is that you, essentially, suck, and that in order to reduce your suckage coefficient you can either train harder and smarter (har!), volcano dope (not happenin’ with the kids’ orthodontia, etc.), or raise your cadence.
Why we gronk
Our terrible, inefficient, power sapping, esthetically unappealing cadences are a function of laziness. Intuitively, our bodies know that the faster we pedal the more tired we will get. This is the same body that tells us to have just one more for the road, to give crystal meth a try, and to invest in penny stocks.
In other words, our bodies and minds are clueless and delusional. Doubt me? Look at all the people who have purchased an Elliptigo. Or a unicycle. Or lottery tickets.
Your body, although generally stupid, is simply operating based on the data you provide it. When you were a little kid, you noticed that the faster you ran, the more exhausted you got. When you graduated to bicycling, you noticed that the faster you went, the more pain you felt in your legs. Your body then did the arithmetic and concluded that “the more pain you feel, the faster you’re going.”
Never mind that you are a slug, and never mind that external data contradict your internal arithmetic: even though you’re slow as shit, as long as you’re feeling discomfort as a result of mashing harder than a Tennessee bootlegger, your body concludes that you’re “going fast.”
So while your body is telling you to lapse into that laboring, soul-sapping gronk, physics is telling you to find an easier gear and spin. More importantly, fashion is telling you that when you gronk and slog and mash and grind, you look like you’re giving rectal birth to a watermelon.
For years, the compact crank has been regarded as the old man’s dying wheeze or the refuge of sissies. That’s still true. However, by replacing your current 56-47 chainring configuration with a more svelte 50-34 you will not only cease showering the bunch with the juice from your exploding knee joints, you will go faster.
To add even more kick to the likker, you can abandon your corncob and hit mountain bike ratios on your cassette. SRAM offers a 12-32, a 12-36, and, for those who are unreconstructed gronkers with a penchant for double IPA’s and cheeseburgers, SRAM also offers a 15-75.
So the next time I see you on the road, let’s quit gronking and “spin to beer.”
October 31, 2013 § 23 Comments
Former cycling professional and Tour de France contender Michael Rasmussen has released excerpts from his forthcoming autobiography that reveal the existence of widespread doping practices in the European pro peloton during his career. Co-authored with Danish sports journalist Pastry Kierkegaard, the book, “Charging While Charged,” exposes the use of banned substances among elite athletes.
According to Rasmussen, professional cyclists regularly used EPO and other drugs to pedal faster than they would have been able to without the banned substances. This little known fact has rocked the normally staid Danish Cycling Federation. “If what he says is true, this means that a great fraud has been perpetrated on the Danish sporting public,” said federation director Njal Saga.
“The drugs were used in such a way that we could avoid detection,” Rasmussen explains. “We took them secretly so that we wouldn’t be caught.” Athletes in other sports have expressed dismay at this revelation.
“If what Rasmussen says can be corroborated, then it means that other athletes might be using banned substances, too,” said Manuel Ortega de Coronado Castillo y Leon, president of the Argentine Football Society and Committee to Re-elect the President.
Descent into doping
In addition to his own drug use, Rasmussen claims to have taught doping methods to Ryder Hesjedal, the first Canadian winner of the Giro d’Italia. “I taught Ryder how to use EPO. When he used it, he rode a lot faster,” says Rasmussen.
Several doping experts, however, question this claim. “Its not 100% sure that drugs can always make you faster,” said Paolo Derrigade. “One cannot turn a donkey into a racehorse. However, if true, this could mean we’ve been hoodwinked by a lot of unethical sportsmen.”
In addition to EPO, Rasmussen reveals that professional cyclists used a combination of steroids and other illegal substances to go faster. By using these drugs, he says, the athletes hoped to win races that they could not otherwise win. “You could say they were cheating,” he admits.
Explaining his reasons for using banned drugs, Rasmussen goes on to say that “I took the drugs to go faster.” In this tell-all, provocative expose, the author also claims that doping has been in pro cycling for a long time. “Doping has been in pro cycling for a long time,” he writes.
These explosive allegations have already had consequences, with some questioning whether the Tour de France victories of fellow Dane Bjarne Riis, as well as victories by Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong could have also been achieved through the use of banned substances. Brian Cookson, head of the UCI, commented that “We can’t say anything until we’ve completed our own internal investigation, but if drugs were involved in those victories, there will be consequences.”
Rasmussen’s detailed description of what he terms “doping doctors,” or physicians who provided the illegal substances and administered them to willing athletes, suggests even broader patters of doping. When asked in a telephone interview if he believed that other athletes in sports such as football, baseball, soccer, and chess were also doping, Rasmussen answered, “Yes.”
Not everyone was shocked by the revelations, and some commentators were openly skeptical. According to Phil Liggett, a veteran reporter of the Tour, “I don’t believe it was widespread. Maybe the odd cheater here and there, but that’s it. The vast majority of the pro peloton is, and has always been, squeaky clean.”
October 30, 2013 § 24 Comments
It happens to everyone, usually after a massive crash. It goes like this.
Day 1 (en route to hospital with full morphine drip): How’s my bike?
Day 2: When can I ride again?
Day 3: I guess I can’t ride this weekend.
Day 4: I guess I can’t ride for a few weeks.
Day 5: I guess if I can’t ride for a few months.
Day 6: I wonder how much of this is gonna be covered by insurance?
Day 7: I wonder if I’ve still got a job?
Day 8: If I ever mention “cycling” again I’ll be divorced. Again.
Then the rehab begins. It’s worse than the accident. Or, you spend a month posting stickies on the fridge because even though you didn’t break anything, your closed-head injury has left a few too many open spaces on the fill-in-the-blank test.
“Remember to pick up milk.”
“What is milk?”
“Remember to wake up.”
“Remember to write down name on back of hand for easy reference.”
Somewhere between the shuffling return to work and the final hundred sessions of physical therapy (“Okay, today we’re going to practice bending your elbow two degrees. It’s really going to hurt until you scream and beg to be put to death, but just bear with me,”) everything changes. A flood of questions spring up.
Questions like this
“What was I thinking? I’m too old to be dressing like a Circque d’Soleil reject.”
“My dog, I could have died in that crashtacular fredsplat that’s gotten 54,000 hits on YouTube. Then what would I have done?”
“All the money I’ve been spending on … bicycling? Really?”
“I just can’t bear the thought of dying so young and leaving all that cold beer in the fridge. It needs me.”
“Even the thought of getting back on a bicycle terrifies me. Not to mention what it does to my friends who have to ride behind me.”
“All the years I’ve wasted on bicycles, my whole life has passed me by! And for what? Strava?”
Answers like this
Fortunately, I’ve seen this happen to lots of people, and they solve the problem rather simply: they quit cycling and go back to being normal people. However, a few really do sit on the fence and angst over it. “Should I quit cycling? But I love my friends! But how can I do something so dangerous? But it’s so fun! But the thought of riding makes me break out in hives. But I like hives!” Etc.
So, to sum up, here’s a handy-dandy set of answers that will fit every catastrophe that has resulted in the soul searching question, “Am I really cut out for this?”
- In life, high risk equals high reward. In cycling, high risk equals little to no reward and/or life-altering disasters. Choose accordingly.
- The older you get, the more it is going to hurt when you fall six feet off the ground onto your head, even with a helmet.
- The faster you go, the more likely it is that something will surprise you and cause you to fall six feet off the ground onto your head (see No. 2 above).
- Most people prefer to die in degrees behind the wheel of a car rather than in one fell swoop on a bike, being taken out by a car.
- There are no answers in life, except for in cycling, where even though there are lots of answers, they are always the wrong ones.
- If you have to choose between your life and your children, it’s time to sell the the bike and turn parent or sell the kids and turn pro.
- Cycling is not a metaphor for life. It is life. And a pretty bad life, might I add.
- No matter how badly you were hurt, no one really cares. I mean they do, but actually, they don’t.
- Best tip for not getting in high-speed crashes: avoid them. And sign up for the world famous Marina del Schenectady cyclocross skills class offered by “Inches” Polnikov.
- No matter how crazy you think your cycling addiction is, you’re right.
- If you got smashed flat tomorrow or wound up in traction, the NPR would still go off at 6:40 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But after the ride I’d sure as heck bring you coffee.
- Life is not about conquering your fears or achieving great things or being happy. It’s not “about” anything.
- For every person who gives up cycling, fifty other middle-aged idiots will blindly take it up with power meters, electronic shifting, and disc brakes. And they will crash spectacularly. Cf. David Hollande and virtually everyone on Big Orange. And Prez.
- The only difference between your weird cycling life and your weird normal life is that in cycling no one cares about how weird you are because everyone is breathing too hard and trying not to crash or get dropped on the Switchbacks.
- Your friends are your friends, two-wheeled or not.
- And get well soon.