The Pull

October 17, 2013 § 39 Comments

I get angry often, despite the beer, but then I remember:  Every person has to learn all of human history anew. So, here is an explanation of that most complicated, subtle, and elusive act of cycling, the pull. Commit this shit to memory, yo.

The pull is the essence of cycling. It reveals your character. It defines your ride. It makes you a person or a non-entity. It defines you. So here is what you need to know about the pull. What is it? When to do it? How to do it? Would you like fries with that?

  1. The Tri-Dork Pull: The Tri-Dork Pull is done at 35 mph until everyone on your wheel melts into a puddle of goo. To paraphrase Yoda, “There is no ‘why.'” There is no reason or rhyme to this pull; Tri-Dork pulls at the front, forever, because he can. Tactics don’t matter. Races don’t matter. Physics don’t matter. You sure as fug don’t matter. Whether it’s five miles or five days, the Tri-Dork Pull is the immaculate conception of pulling. It happens, purely, because it can. It is the Sir Edmund Hillary of pulls: “Because it is there. And because those behind you will quit.” The Tri-Dork Pull plots a declining IQ to infinity on the x-axis, and time on the front on the y-axis. Current practitioner: There is only one Tri-Dork.
  2. The Thurlow Pull: This pull is done to split the field, to crack the will of the feeble, to demonstrate physical and mental superiority over the herd. It is repeated and relentless. In the words of the Black Knight, “None shall pass.” And none ever do. This pull is only done by the truly cruel. It is knowing, conscious, and designed to ruin. Most often, it is employed on rides like the NPR and Swami’s in order to crush the barking seals and watch them choke on fresh sardines as the split rides away on Lap One. Current practitioners: Rudy, MMX, Ryan Dahl, Brian Zink, Phil Tinstman.
  3. The Racer Pull: This is calculated time on the front, just enough to make the wanker on your wheel spit up a lung, but not so hard that you can’t catch back on. Do this pull when you’ve been ordered to the front to keep the enemy’s balls in a vise, or when you’re in a break and trying to stay away, or when you’re on the NPR and you’ve been ordered to club a brace of seals before the World Way Ramp. Current practitioners: Josh Alverson, Eric Anderson, Dave Jaeger.
  4. The Fireman Pull: This is the most noble and complex and difficult pull of all, because it combines ability to go fast with ability to hurt with loyalty to the team in the face of certain extermination. This is the pull that drags a teammate across the infinite empty space to the break, and, once accomplished, you fall to the wayside like the spent undercarriage of a three-stage rocket. This pull is pain with a purpose, perfectly executed. The executioner is held in eternal awe by all who sit on his wheel. Current practitioners: John Wike, Greg Lonergan, Harry Martinez.
  5. The Self-Immolation Pull: This is the top o’ the heap in the world of wanker pulls. The self-immolator knows not why he pulls and blows, and cares not. He only grits his teeth into the wind, the rain, the muck, or the hopelessness of defeat, and makes those behind him wish they were having their livers gnawed out by cannibals. The self-immolator’s single goal is that someone out there hurt as badly as he hurts. Current practitioners: Bull Seivert, Dave Miller, James Cowan, Sven that Dude from Norway Who Has Thankfully Gone Home.
  6. The Faux Pull: This pathetic effort is barely worthy of mention, except that its practitioners are far better than those human dregs who never even reach the front. The faux pull is a cheap, weak, worthless, infinitely fake “effort” at the front designed only to act as a placeholder while earning some kind of equally faux respect from those who actually pull the train. It is typically done 2-3 mph slower than the rider who swings over. Usually only happens after you’ve been shouted at, cursed, or repeatedly yelled at for doing #8 below. Current masters of the genre: Spivey, Wankmeister.
  7. The Glory Pull: This piece of shit effort only occurs when there’s a camera, video, or finish line somewhere in the offing. It consists of a feeble, fake, weak, worthless half-second at the front that is designed to garner a few clicks of the camera shutter and perhaps a photo by Danny Munson or Phil Beckman or Kristy Morrow. Current master practitioner: Brad House.
  8. The Gap Pull: This is possibly the lamest pull of all time. To do it properly you rotate up to the guy who is on the point, then, when he swings over, YOU swing over. This pusillanimous, sniveling, shitass pull puts the person behind you in the hellish position of having to pass two wankers to get to the point, weakens him, and costs you nothing other than the pride you were obviously never born with. You’d be ashamed, but you’re shameless. The only possible redeeming aspect of this awful pull is that, sitting second wheel on a fast ride, you’re at least doing more work than the wankers behind you. Current practitioners: Hockeystick, others.
  9. The Top 10 Pull: Now we’re getting down into the real shit-pit of wankerdom, and you know who you are. The Top 10 Pull is where you keep yourself in the top ten, usually ninth or tenth, and never move up in the rotation, constantly gapping out, swinging over to catch the wheel rotating back after a real rider has done a hard hit, then sneaking back up again. The benefit to this is that it keeps you out of the Freddy scrum, where tires rub, shoulders and bars bump, and clogstacles tump over at turnarounds and stop lights. It also gives you a pretty sweet draft and, depending on the ride, allows you to pedal with the good riders. The down side is that, done repeatedly, this tags you as one of the worst riders in the group — happy to live off the efforts of others, never willing to contribute, yet refusing to make room for those who are actually trying to move up in the line. Current practitioners: Multiple.
  10. The Glance Pull: Although this is usually a function of weakness, and therefore not worthy of much scorn, the glance pull is effected by swinging over to the edge of the pack (you’re in the middle), and glancing up the road to see who’s up front. You should be so far back that you can’t see, and this distance justifies your decision to slink back into the scrum, as it would be altogether too much work to pedal all the way up to the point and actually do some work. Current practitioners: Lots and lots.
  11. The Neverpull: The neverpull is practiced so much by so many that it requires little elaboration. What’s interesting is that people go for years and years never taking a pull. These welfare leeches are often the same folks who vote Republican and who can’t stand it when people in the real world get something for nothing. Yet they hide in the group, day in and day out, refusing to even try to share the work. They always have an excuse for shirking, but no one cares what it is. Current practitioners: Zillions.
  12. The FB Pull: If there’s anything lamer than the neverpull, and trust me, there isn’t, it’s the Facebag Pull. You execute this move when you’ve been caught out on video or when someone complains about your wheelsuckery on social media. Simply go to your keyboard and tell people how hard you pulled that one time on Lap Three.

Okay, kids, any questions? No? Good. Class dismissed.

The Taco Hour

October 11, 2013 § 12 Comments

First KK set the hour record, then Fukdude set the hour record, and suddenly everybody was “training for the hour record.” But I wasn’t, because the only thing I know about it is that Eddy considered it the hardest thing he’d ever done. When I saw Fukdude get off his bike after an entire season of starving, training, intervaling, waxing his chain, and boring out his hair follicles for extra lightness, I knew the hour record wasn’t even in my imagination, forget actually doing it.

However, there are others who dare to dream big dreams, and no one dreams bigger than Hockeystick. Caught up in the excitement of watching a drained, depleted, dazed Fukdude get peeled off his bike, Hockeystick declared that he was going after KK’s hour record, as it was in his age group. This was shocking.

KK is only vaguely human. He’s one of a handful of people who can crawl into the pain box, shut the lid, and throw away the key. He’s got the perfect mix of athleticism, discipline, ability, and work ethic to take on cycling’s biggest test. But Hockeystick? Our dear, beloved Hockeystick? He of the happy-go-lucky smile, last to a fight, first to a feast, belly up the the bar and devil take the hindmost, when the going gets tough Hockeystick gets a note from his mom, why train when you can talk about it, I don’t like road riding because the sun is bad for my complexion, THAT HOCKEYSTICK? THAT HOUR RECORD?

No fuggin’ way.

I ran across Hockeystick on the way home from a race a couple of months ago. “‘Sup, Hockeystick?”

“Training for the hour,” he said.

“You? You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Man’s gotta dream big. Have challenges. Never give in to aging..”

“Never give in to aging? Dude, you look ten years older than you are. Your gut sags lower than your pecker. You’ll never set the hour record — KK has that.”

“I’m on a program. I’ve got a coach. My way, like the song says.”

“So tell me about the plan.”

“Long miles on the weekend. Steady cadence. Defined interval work on the velodrome.”

“What about diet? You still look like you’re hung over from Christmas.”

“Anquetil was a hard partier.”

“Anquetil was a multiple winner of the Tour, classics winner,  hour record holder, the greatest time trialist the world had ever seen. What does that have to do with you?”

“Ya gotta dream big to stay young.”

“Dude, you can’t stay young. Everyone gets old. And some get older than others, quicker.”

“My way, baby.”

We parted ways.

An hour record hopeful walks into a bar …

A few weeks ago I was in a bar for a party, and who should I see on the high stool but Hockeystick. “Yo, Hockeystick. What the fuck you doing here?”

“Having a little snack.”

“Snack? That’s three plates of tacos in front of you. And a pitcher of beer. How many pitchers so far?”

“Two.”

“Dude! What happened to the hour record?”

“Nothin’. I’m going for it.”

“Impossible. You look like the Pillsbury doughboy’s fat grandmother. With his hour record attempt eight weeks out, Fukdude looked like a coathanger on a diet. KK was down to tendons and gristle. You look like an elephant seal getting ready for an Arctic winter.”

“I got this.”

“Got what? The bill?”

“The record. I got this.”

“Talk to me, bro. The only thing you got so far is arteriosclerosis.”

“I decided not to go after KK’s record.”

“Well, that’s a fuggin’ relief.”

“But I’m still goin’ after an hour record.”

“Which one? 210-lb. plus category? I didn’t know there was one.”

“Naw, I’m goin’ for the Eddy Merckx hour record, age 50+.”

“The what?”

“Merckx style. No aero. Just me, drop bars, spoked aluminum box rims. Mano a mano.”

“You’re fuggin’ kidding me.”

“Nope. I figured I couldn’t beat KK, so I looked it up and there’s this Merckx category that no one’s done in the US before in my 50+ category.”

“So all you fuggin’ have to do is ride around the track for an hour?”

“Yep.”

“And no matter how slow you go, you set the record?”

“Yep.”

“Like, you could pull a taco out of your skinsuit and drink beer out of your water bottle?”

“Yep.”

“And still get to tell people you set the hour record?”

“Yep.”

“Hockeystick?” I said.

“Yeah?”

“You’re a fuggin’ genius.”

He shoved the last giant taco into his mouth as a burst of sour cream and salsa drizzled down his chin. Then he drained his one-pint tumbler and smacked his lips. “Yeah,” he said. “I know.”

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