July 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
Aaron “Hair” Wimberley reached down into his shorts and pulled out a big, honking win in the Cat 2 race at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. Not bad for a guy who, a couple of years ago, told me that he was “a Cat 3-level rider in terms of threshold power.”
Aaron’s now been booted upstairs to Cat 1, and he won this race with style, speed, caginess, courage, and flat out skills. It’s terrible talking to Aaron after a race (or before one, for that matter) because it’s like listening to a physics professor describe why a ball drops when you let go.
“Great race, Aaron!” I innocently said.
“The other guys in the race were singing your praises.”
“Well, on the last corner you had to know the line and understand that the barriers were going to be on the lateral twice-removed plane of motion that would give you the acceleration at about ninety degrees, and given my weight and the wheels I was running and the rotation of the Earth plus those farts that the Surf City dude was blowing, you could figure that acceleration times mass plus the torque on the lateral angle of spin would put me about eighteen degrees under the first guy’s wheel, and … “
I dozed off, and woke up just at the point where he was explaining how the moon’s tidal pull had moved enough of his voluminous, luxurious hair to the inside of the curve and given him enough kick for the win.
“Wow,” I said, wondering when I could ask for five bucks to buy a beer.
There’s not a lot you need to say when someone pulls out a signature win at one of the biggest races in America, but there’s a shit-ton you need to say when they pull out (another) win at the least-known race in SoCal, the TELO training crit.
Aaron wins this thing almost every week, and he wins it after attacking into the wind, dropping the field, riding breakaways for the entire race and beating his breakaway companions or, if caught, winning the field sprint. He’s amazing.
On Saturdays, the chubby dude who used to come unhitched at Trump is not twenty pounds lighter and wins the Switchbacks, out-climbs the climbers, and pokes a stick in your eye when you’re on the rivet by saying, “Why so serious, Wanker?” On the NPR he smokes the sprint, rolls with breaks, and hits the front at speeds designed to crack your spirit, which it does.
Unlike other SoCal fastmen, Aaron doesn’t have a huge team to help him. His supporting cast usually includes one or two guys, which sounds kind of thin until you learn that his wingman is usually Derek Brauch, a canny, lethal weapon who usually makes the split or who can be counted on to excel in road races and hard, challenging crits.
I’d congratulate the bastard in person, but since he’s already pretty sure he’s awesome, why bother? Saying it here on the Interwebs is enough. You rock, wankstar.
July 9, 2013 § 20 Comments
I went to the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix yesterday to do a bike race. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve gone to a bike race to spectate, and I was shocked to see how many people had no fucking idea whatsoever about how to do a bike race. As a public service, here’s Wankmeister’s Ten or Eleven or Thereabouts Commandments on How to Do a Bike Race.
1. Thou shalt not fucking scurry around. I was amazed to see how many people, especially racers, went to the bike race just to race their bike. That’s crazypants stuff, like going to a rock concert just to listen to music. Yo, wankers! A bike race is a place to go spend the entire day, not get there ten minutes early, race around in circles, then rush back home to mow thy lawn or beat off on thy couch. The race itself, if thou art a racer, is a brief chance to punish thyself for a fee. The rest of the time thou art supposed to chill, mix, rub shoulders with the little people, and drink beer. Wives/husbands/significant others who don’t race: This is thy opportunity to find out who’s fucking thy wife/husband/significant other on the side.
2. Thou shalt fucking bring a tent. Bike races without tents are like sex without condoms. They are risky, messy, and leave thee all red and blistered. The tent protects thee from the hot sun. It also provides the little space under which thou canst sit on the grass and chat, for hours, over beer and bread. A long time ago, before iPhones, people sat around all day and chatted. That’s how they became friends, or at least learned the details about who wast fucking thy husband on the side.
3. Thou shalt not fold up thy tent after thy fucking race. Some people who think they are pro have these elaborate tent get-ups with rollers, trainers, massage tables, and other shit to help them prepare for the race. That’s fine. But after thy race, clear all thy shit out, break out thy lawn chairs, crack open thy cooler, and relax. We only got to see thy sorry ass go by ten times, and each time thou wert a tiny speck in a mob of a hundred other idiots. Now’s the time thou canst regale us with how hard it was, how much bumping there was in the turns, how thou wert fifth wheel going into the last turn except for that dude who drove thee wide and thou hadst to decide to go down or slow down and thou art too old to die for 3rd place in some master’s crit, etc.
4. Thou shalt scream like thy balls wast in a vice. Get thy sorry fucking ass up to the barriers and scream, for dog’s sake. Charon’s pretending he don’t hear thee, but he does. They all do. Scream so fucking hard thy throat starts to bleed. Why? Because the only proven way to stop a throat hemorrhage is with beer.
5. Thou shalt not bring shitty beer unless it’s for thy own cheap ass. The bike race is the perfect place to make friends, except that bike racers are a fucked up, socially awkward bunch of dorks who can’t get through a conversation without saying “carbone” or “power meter” or “Lance.” In order to obtain semi-normal convrsation, thou must have beer, and a lot of it, and it better not be cheap shit because no one ever made friends with cheap beer unless they were from Texas. (I’m from Texas, so I will drink all of thy cheap beer, and appreciatively.) Also, don’t give me that “I’m counting my calories” bullshit. Thy fucking diet sucks, so double down on the Double IPA. It will cost thee a few extra bucks at the checkout stand but thou shalt get drunk twice as quick and people will love thy tent twice as much while they make plans to get into thy boyfriend’s trousers while thou art getting sloppy drunk, after which someone will get into thine.
6. Thou shalt not get pissy when people rub up against thy bitch. Thy old lady is smokin’ hot, we can see that, and it’s not our fault thou hast brought her to the race in hotpants and no bra. So we’re going to want to sit next to her and tell funny stories and hug on her ass when she gets up, sits down, says hello, says goodbye, etc. And thou need not be such a jealous paranoid prick. We’re not fucking her. Yet.
7. Thou shalt tell every wanker they raced great. I don’t give a shit if they wound up with their ass smeared across ten feet of asphalt and their bike is a smoking piece of melted plastic. They got their ass out there, paid their fee, pinned on a fucking number, and raced. If they got hurt, or barely managed to finish, or got kicked out the back, tell ‘em they looked good and give ‘em an extra cold one.
8. Thou shalt watch the finish. Does this need explanation? Watch the fucking finish, for dog’s sake. It’s fifteen feet away and means thou hast to stand in the heat for, like, twelve seconds. Thou canst do this.
9. Thou shalt visit every fucking booth. That sadsack dude with the new invention that’s gonna revolutionize the whole bicycling industry if he can only sell ten million of them at this bike race paid money to be here. Even if he didn’t, he took the time to drive, set up his booth, and liven the place up. What, art thou so fucking busy thou hath not the time to stop by and say hello and learn about what he’s doing? Thou mightest even find something thou must needs buy, and next thing thou knowest, the vendors may increase and pretty soon thou willst be able to buy all thy PED’s at the race itself without having to import from some shady lab in China.
10. Thou shalt cheer like a crazypants equally for everyone. That fat-ass Cat 5 dude dangling off the back? Cheer thy guts out! That spindly chick who’s going through turns with both brakes locked up? Cheer thy guts out! That mid-pack hacker who’s making his one and only appearance on the front? Cheer thy guts out! The race goes to the swiftest, but the memories go to everybody, so help make the memories great.
11. Thou shalt help the broken. When some schmo chews up a yard of pavement, he’s gonna need help. Drag his bike off the course for him; if he gets taken off in the meatwagon make sure someone is with him. Some poor flailers go to these races alone and have no one to look after them if they get hurt. Be the Good Samaritan.
12. Thou shalt cross-pollinate. Just because thou art too drunk to walk straight doesn’t mean thou must needs stay under thy tent the whole fucking day. Go stagger over and collapse under someone else’s tent, and talk to some of the other teams, if for no other reason than to check out their girlfriends/wives/eligible daughters. I was amazed at how people just hung out on their own turf, as if the other teams had cooties or something. Which they probably did.
13. Thou shalt be nice to lonely people. Every race has a few people who are there because they have nothing else to do. Canst thou imagine a life so boring and lonely that the only alternative to staying inside and watching porn is to go watch a bike race? I can’t. Anyway, when thou seest someone aimlessly wandering around or leaning by himself against the fence, call him over to thy tent, offer him a beer, and give him a reason to think that bike races are worth going to. Thou couldst be the person who encourages him to bring his whole crazypants clan with their loaded gun collection to the next race.
14. Thou shalt thank the promoter. Even if it’s Crazypants Lotts, these people deserve a “thank you.” They may also deserve a swift kick in the ass, but thou canst do that later. At the race, take a second to thank them for the thankless job of getting up at 3:00 AM, setting up the race course, and generally providing a place where thou canst go spend an afternoon with thy worthless friends. Same for the officials, even the ones who make up rules as they go along, and the announcers, no matter how clueless they are about the race.
15. Thou shalt bring thy kids. Kids know how to have fun, even if thou dost not. Learn from them.
16. Thou shalt offer tired racers a beer. And asketh them about their race. And pretendeth to be interested when they explain the complexities and difficulties and crucial differences between 16th and 17th in the Cat 4 race.
17. Thou shalt hang out with thy teammates. After thy fucking race is done, and especially if thou livest in Manhattan Beach or nearby the racecourse, thou shalt fucking hang out with thy buddies who drove up from San Diego or down from Santa Barbara or even farther away, like Burbank. At a minimum, thou shalt drop off several cases of good beer and some hearty bread.
18. Thou shalt be really fucking nice to old people.
Got it? Okay.