I’ll have another bag of sand, please, with an extra dollop of cream on top

March 21, 2014 § 46 Comments

The most recent South Bay cycling kerfluffle and 24/7 Facebag drama was a beaut. The facts, such as they weren’t, went something like this: Gimme Mah Trinket, a super fast live-to-ride badass MTB racer showed up at the Third Annual Fredfest and Dorkathon Cross Country Bicycle Race in Scratchypits, CA. Having won the Leadville-qualifying Barburner, and having completed Leadville itself once and sort-of-but-perhaps-not-really completed it a second time, Gimme signed up for the beginners’ Cuddly Puppy Division race.

It was a full cuddly puppy field with six or seven riders, all of whom except for Gimme were excited to be racing their first ever, or second ever, or whatever MTB cross country race. Now I must insert here that I didn’t even know that you raced cross country on a bicycle. I thought cross country was a kind of foot race, so when I was told that the controversy occurred at a cycling cross country race my first reaction was “Fugg’ yeah, I bet those runners were sure pissed at getting beat by the bikers. I would be, too.”

But not.

The cuddly puppies lined up with battle-hardened, steely legged Gimme Mah Trinket and got devoured. How badly did they get devoured? Gimme stomped their dicks by seven minutes. She finished so far ahead of the puppies that race officials temporarily lost contact with her ACARS.

The cuddlies struggled in across the line, puppy butts covered in dirt and briars and brambles and sweat and gel packs that had exploded in their jerseys and drizzled down into their buttcracks. And they did what puppies do when they get their noses rubbed in their own shit. They whined. And the whine they whined was the greatest, most famous, most oft-repeated complaint ever made anywhere by any wanker in the history of the USCF: Gimme Mah Trinket is a SANDBAGGER!

Gimme didn’t really care. Her license listed her as a Cuddly Puppy despite being one of the strongest South Bay women on the road and in the dirt, she’d raced her category, and most importantly, she got her trinket. It was a beautiful, hand-carved, antique, hand-decorated water bottle from 1998 made during the Chee’ Pass Dynasty in China. Then she went to the official and upgraded to a Cat 1. Apparently you can go from a Cat 3 to a Cat 1 in MTB just by saying, “Gimme a one, please.”

Who knew?

Let the wailing begin

The cuddly puppies were outraged. They’d trained hard. They’d committed millions of dollars to this fine sport. They’d hired a coach, given up smoking meth, and told all their friends at work that they were going to do a “bicycle race.” How unfair that a pro, a superstar, a hard woman, a ruthless, toothy, shark-blooded killer with a zillion miles under her belt would sandbag the Cuddly Puppy division? At the Scratchypits race, no less! The outrage!

A measure of just how much of a beginners race it was bubbled to the surface merely by airing the “Sandbagger!” complaint. If USA Cycling were a book with a subtitle, it would be this: “USA Cycling: Sandbagging for Fun and Trinkets.”

The whole purpose of categories is to allow for organized sandbagging. If bikers wanted a real bike race, here’s how it would be run:

  1. Men, women, mutants, cuddly puppies, ex pros, current pros, leaky prostates, loose bowels, juniors, seniors, and almost-corpses would line up together.
  2. The ref would blow a whistle.
  3. The first person across the line would be declared the winner.

This would result in a genuine bike race with genuine results. The winner could say, “I was the best racer that day.” The down side is that races would have only thirty or forty riders, all of them would be in their late 20’s, and the same three people would win every single race. In other words, hardly anyone would get a trinket. The bigger down side is that USA Cycling and the various race promoters wouldn’t be able to promote races, because with entry fees from thirty riders you can’t cordon off a street, supply ambulances, promote the event, and hire a couple of cheap plywood boxes for a podium.

This is why cycling has zillions of categories, groupings, rankings, and divisions, so that no matter how weak, feeble, inexperienced, or strategically stupid you are, there is “some” chance that you’ll get a trinket. Trinkets get spread more democratically, race promoters get paid, and USA Cycling gets to send out another surly, obese, ill-tempered official to scream at you on a motorcycle.

Think of race categories for what they really are: Affirmative action for the weak, slow, and stupid. Without cycling’s affirmative action program, 99.999% of all racers would never experience the thrill of getting a $20 prime, or enjoy the glory of standing on a plywood box in the blazing sun, or posting their “results” on Facebag. Our society would be poorer as a result. Moreover, at least in the SoCal crit scene, without affirmative action no white people would ever win anything, and we can’t have that.

Do you really want a bike race?

The Scratchypits kerfluffle, if anything, proved that trinket racing really works, and it’s not the first time that a veteran sandbagger has been booted upstairs to a harder division due to whining cuddlies. The most famous sandbagging case in SoCal history was the Great Prez SoCal Cup Upgrade and Meltdown, where our hero sandbagged as a Cat 3 for several years. Just as he was on the cusp of winning the SoCal Cat 3 Cup, some cuddly puppy’s angry mom complained to the refs. “Prez is a sandbagger! Little Pookums can’t win anything! Upgrade him!”

Prez got force upgraded, and so emotionally destroyed that the trinket was so rudely snatched away despite being within inches of his sweaty grasp, that he dropped out of racing for an entire year. Worse, now that’s he’s back as a Cat 2, he is forced to race with the 35+ Masters division, the biggest category of sandbaggers in the entire sport. These are the guys who are for the most part Cat 1’s, Cat 2’s, and ex-pros, but who’d rather win most of the time than lose all of the time. However, unlike the Cat 3 races, riders like Prez go from winning sandbagger to pack meat, as it’s often difficult to finish and impossible to win. No more trinkets for Prez.

G$ tells a similar story about his own history of sandbagging. “When I was a Cat 3, I never wanted to upgrade. But after winning four out of sixty races, they force upgraded me. Some junior’s mom complained and said me and Roadchamp were dominating everything. Boom. Cuddly puppy upgrade. But I was like, dude, I’m forty years old. How’m I gonna race with the Cat 2’s? Their road races are a hundred miles long. I have a job, sort of. But they upgraded me anyway.”

G$ went on to collect plenty of trinkets, but only as a masters sandbagger. In sum, the category system is there for you to sandbag. You pick the race you think you have the best chance of winning, and the race you can most likely win is always the one against the weakest field. The weakest field is always the oldest or the slowest or the least experienced category. This is how trinkets are won, how juice boxes are collected, and how well-practiced podium poses are executed for the three adoring fans.

Any other system would result in a bike race, and no one in their right mind wants one of those.

Least of all the cuddly puppies.

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Heeeeere’s Johnny!

August 11, 2012 § 59 Comments

Jonathan Vaughters has publicly admitted what we already knew, just in time for USADA’s supplemental briefing for Judge Sparks, which will almost certainly identify the eyewitnesses who will corroborate Lance Armstrong’s use of all kinds of nasty shit to win the TdF against dudes who were using the same nasty shit. Want to bet that JV will be on the list?

Too bad he doesn’t read my blog. I posted three form doper apology letters yesterday, and he could have sent in the “apologetic doper” form and saved himself a lot of work. He could have also saved himself some embarrassment. You know, the embarrassment from saying totally ridiculous shit that makes him look like a liar and a hypocrite, and that makes us look like tools for taking the time to read it.

Sigh.

Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to doping

Doping and drugs are fine if you want to do them. It’s a form of cheating, just like changing your line in a sprunt, cutting the course, lying on your upgrade request, entering a race while serving a suspension, racing in a category other than one stated on your license, or telling your wife that you’re not fucking your secretary.

And although I’d rather finish last (and often do) than cheat, it doesn’t bother me terribly that others break the rules any more than it bothers me that some happily married people are happiest in another woman’s bed. In fact, the hacker who beat me out for 56th thanks to his high-octane EPO protocol is probably a much nicer chap than some undoped asshole who intentionally chops my wheel and tries to take me down on a fucking training ride.

Which brings me to my next point: as Michael Creed so eloquently put it, even though doping wasn’t for him, he didn’t judge someone as a bad person for doping. There were plenty of dopers who he’d have been glad to have as neighbors, and other clean athletes who were complete douchebags.

So you’re condoning DOPING? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhgh!

No. But I’m not condemning it either. If you dope in some cheeseball masters crit and win $50, that doesn’t bother me. I wasn’t going to win it no matter what you did or didn’t take. If you dope in some big stage race and make millions as a cancer survivor while viciously destroying the lives and careers of people who call you a doper…that’s different. That’s evil.

But back to JV, and his sob-story about the evils of doping and how we must never again allow children’s souls to be killed through doping. Yes, he really said that.

I’ve bulleted his stupid anti-doping arguments, which he should have summed up by saying, “It’s cheating. Cheating is bad. So don’t cheat.” But nooooooooooooo…

  1. “Doping takes away childhood dreams.” Dude, childhood dreams die with childhood. Life is a nasty, brutish affair that ends horribly for everyone. No exceptions. It’s like the first time a young woman sees a big ol’ penis and gets told, “This is going in there.” Whoa! Major childhood dream massacre! Why should bicycle chasers be exempt from harsh reality? Answer: They shouldn’t be, and they aren’t.
  2. “Doping forces you to lie.” Whaaaat? Doping doesn’t force you to lie, being human does. Humans are liars. Batfuck, dishonest, conniving, duplicitous shits who will say anything to advance themselves. They may also tell the truth when it’s convenient, but hate to tell you, JV, people were lying long before EPO.
  3. “Doping forces young athletes to abandon their sport if they choose not to dope.” Wait a minute…that’s a negative? Trading in your stinky bibs for an Armani and a cubicle at Goldman-Sachs? Sign me up! Cycling is a cul-de-sac, and the only people in it are broken, or deluded, or drug-addled, or all of the above. The more young athletes who give up this ignoble pursuit as a profession and go get real jobs, the better. You can bicycle chase on the weekend.
  4. “Doping can make the difference in the TdF between 1st and 100th.” Not exactly. When most of the peloton’s doped, as it still is, the difference between first and one hundredth place is in your teammates, your tactics, your bike racing skills, the sophistication of your microdosing, and your ability to train far from the testers.
  5. “Riders who refused to dope, and walked away, were punished for following their moral compass.” Okay, everybody take off your stupid hats if that made sense. The whole point behind morality is to do what’s right, regardless of the consequences. In fact, it is only by taking the punishment of an unjust system that morality makes sense. You’re never punished for taking a moral stand, you’re rewarded for it because, asshole, morality is its own reward. Which is the main reason it’s so unpopular.
  6. “We’ve made huge strides. Just look at these Olympics!” No. I will not watch four Jamaican dudes run faster than the rest of the world combined and call that a celebration of clean sport. The only sport nastier than track and field is professional soccer, football, baseball, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing, basketball, horse racing…etc.
  7. “Athletes only dope because they just want a fair chance, a level playing field.” That’s like those dorks who say they want to win the lottery so they can make the world a better place. Next time you see them, they’re broke, drunk in a gutter, and covered in venereal sores. Athletes hate fairness. They want an edge, a leg up, a lighter bike, faster wheels, cyanide in their opponent’s coffee, anything to get ahead of the competition. Cycling was a cheat-filled sport long before EPO, and it will be one long after.

Conclusion

What I really wanted to write about was Mighty Mouse, Tree, Katie, and the other badasses who did Leadville today, not to mention their trusty sidekicks who made sure they were well fed and watered for this grueling event. Oh, well. Maybe tomorrow.

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