She told two friends, and she told two friends, and …

December 10, 2014 § 14 Comments

There are three kinds of people with racing licenses.

  1. Racers. They race pretty much every weekend.
  2. Sorta racers. They race a few races each year.
  3. Fakesters. They have all the stuff, but none of the “stuff.”

If you promote bicycle races, aside from your obviously miserable financial judgment, your need for public abuse, and the strange satisfaction you get out of dealing with angry/stupid/selfish people, you have one really big need on race day, and it’s that people show up and race. For the most part, we expect you, the promoter, to promote your race. We’ll come if we feel like it, maybe.

This is a stupid model. Sure, the promoter should do his best to get people to race. He’s a fuggin’ promoter, for fugg’s sake.

But full fields have as huge a benefit to bike racers as they do to promoters. Full fields increase prize money. They increase sponsorship. They increase spectatorship. And most importantly, they help the promoter turn a profit, which encourages him to keep living in a tent and to promote more races next year. It’s my belief that fuller fields rather than emptier ones can be accomplished by the bike racers themselves, and in 2015 I’ll be giving my theory a shot. Here it is:

People who fit into category #1 above are the backbone, the meat and potatoes of racing. Guys like Brauch, Tinstman, Wimberley, and Charon are just some of the riders who show up week in, week out, with no prodding or encouragement. They live to race. More about them later.

People who fit into category #3 we can forget. They will never race. It doesn’t matter why; the fact that they’re on a race team, that they have team race gear, that they love to talk and read about bike racing is irrelevant. They would rather do a hundred group rides, team training camps, and century rides, than sign up for a single 45-minute USA Cycling crit. Forget them.

People who fit into category #2 are the rest of us, and we hold the key to successful turnout on race day. Sorta racers make annual race calendars, target certain races, and do lots of actual training. Sorta racers are sorta fit in January and sorta wrecked by late April. Sorta racers have no trouble putting in 15-20 hours a week on the bike, but lots of trouble doing more than a handful of races. Sorta racers have detailed excuses for not racing on race day, even when they’ve planned to race. Sorta racers think a lot about racing early in the season, and focus on kiddie soccer games, “work,” honey-do’s, “the high cost of racing,” safety, and butt pimples as reasons to stop thinking about racing later in the season.

In short, we sorta racers are fence sitters. We wanna, but most of the time we don’t.

The difference between a felony conviction and staying at home is often the difference between a buddy saying “Let’s do it!” and not. Same goes for racing. As any salesman knows, the customer has to be asked to buy. And as any good salesman knows, “No, thanks” is simply an opportunity to ask again with greater skill and persuasiveness.

My best race in 2014 resulted from Derek B. asking me to go race with him. I didn’t really want to go, it was the last race of the season, I’m not good at crits, at age 50 I don’t belong in the 35+ superman category, I was tired from Saturday’s Donut Ride, I didn’t have a good set of race wheels, the entry fee was too high, the race was too short, and my butt pimples were suppurating.

All of those objections were overcome by the simple act of being asked because being asked to go race your bike with a friend is flattering, and it also puts you on the spot. The super excuse of butt pimples sounds awesome when you’re talking to yourself, but not so great when you have to mouth it to someone, especially someone you respect, as a reason for not lining up and actually using your $10k in gear and your 25 hours a week of profamateur preparation.

In short, the people who are committed to going to a race can boost race attendance by sending out three, or five, or ten emails, or even more outrageously by actually telephoning, or even more extremely by asking a pal face-to-face to sack up and go race together. If you’re one of the people who’s a dependable ironhead, make sure you ask a couple of other people to go race, and for dog’s sake don’t limit it to your teammates.

Why ask non-teammates to race? Because one of the reasons that guys who aren’t on big teams don’t race is because they hate rolling alone against the big teams and they need extra motivation to go out and get crushed. Again. Asking non-teammates shows that you value their presence, and it stimulates smaller teams to get their act together. A powerful motivator for people to race is having a rider complain to his teammates that he’s the only fuggin’ one in the race, so please come out and help.

Another reason that sorta racers don’t race is they simply forget. I’m going to this weekend’s CBR race because yesterday, on a training ride, I asked EA Sports, Inc. what he was doing this weekend. “I’m racing, dude. And so are you.” It wasn’t a question. It was an order, but it was also a reminder as I’d completely forgotten about the race.

If you’re one of the sorta racers who sorta races, on the days when you’re actually committed, make sure you ask several friends to go race with you. This locks YOU in when it comes time to scratch the b.p.’s and prevents you (hopefully) from bailing at the last minute, and it will encourage one or two other riders to join you. (Hint: Asking others to race with you can also involve sharing rides, splitting gas fees, and saving money!! If it’s a CBR race in LA, it means having someone to ride over to the race with.)

Finally, if you’re the leader of a team, have you reached out to every single rider via email and encouraged them to line up? Have you made two or twelve phone calls to the sorta racers who have hogged all your swag and been conspicuously absent on race days? No? Well, get callin’!

So, does it work? I think it does. I’ve sent out about ten emails and had one buddy confirm that he’s in. His comment? “I’m not very fit, but it’s been over a year since anyone asked me to go race, so, hell yeah.”

If you tell two friends, and he tells two friends, and he tells two friends, well, who knows? The “problem” of declining race participation might simply vanish.

END

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Wankology

December 8, 2014 § 43 Comments

It is kind of complicated every time I meet an English person. They sound funny right away and I always try to guess where they’re from and I’m always wrong. I figure it’s got to be one of the former English colonies like South Africa, New Zealand, Austria, or even England itself, but I always pick wrong and the person is always mildly annoyed.

Then when they say they’re English I try to show that I’m a knowledgeable fellow and so I say, “Oh, really? What part?”

Then they get this look like “This bloke [that’s an English word meaning ‘fellow’] isn’t going to have a clue where my little corner of England is,” but they go ahead and tell me in order to be polite, somewhere like Leeds, or Glasgow, or Cardiff, or Dublin or one of the other major cities in England.

Of course I’m never sure where any of those places are so then they’re still trying to be polite and they’re like, “So have you ever been to the U.K.?” and I’m always like, “No,” and I explain how I’m not good with foreign languages and I’m always too embarrassed to ask them what’s the difference between the United Kingdom and Man United.

It’s also pretty awkward when I ask them what’s their favorite football team (that’s to show I know it’s not called “soccer” in England) because they kind of already know I don’t know anything about it and it’s probably the 400th time this conversation has happened this week, usually at the checkout stand or while buying some coffee, but most of the time I don’t tell them that I’m related to the queen.

However, one guy I sometimes ride with, Nancy, really can’t stand English people. “Fucking I hate ‘em,” Nancy will sometimes say if an English dude shows up on a ride. Of course he tends to say that to anyone new, but he specializes in English people because the ones that hang out over here tend to be complete badasses on the bike and they drop him immediately, which he doesn’t much care for.

“Really? How come?” I asked him one day.

“Fucking arrogant bastards, that’s why.”

“Arrogant about what?”

“Fucking act like they invented the fucking language.”

“Well, didn’t they?” I asked.

That didn’t sit very well with Nancy. “They act like they fucking know everything,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said, “I kind of see where you’re coming from. But you know, they have a pretty badass tradition of being, you know, pretty smart.”

“Smart about what?” he snarled.

“Not that it’s a lot, but you know, Shakespeare, Dickens, the first novel, pretty much all the books worth reading in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries that weren’t written by Mark Twain, and I’m pretty sure they discovered DNA, oh, and the Rolling Stones.”

Nancy got livid. “The Rolling Stones? Those fuckers stole our music!”

“Our music?”

“Fuck yeah! They just ripped off our American blues masters and commercialized it!” Nancy is super white.

“You mean the music of the black Americans who Elvis ripped off and commercialized?”

“Yeah!” he yelled.

“Seems to me that the English did what everyone else was doing on that score, they just did it better.”

“What the hell are you? Some English lover? I bet you drink tea.” About this time a group of riders pedaled by in the other direction.

“Man, that’s a pretty big group of wankers,” I said, trying to change the topic.

Nancy went ballistic. “Don’t you ever use that stupid fucking word around me again!” he screeched. “Do you even know what it means? It’s English talk for a jerk-off! It’s the worst thing a British person can say about someone! I hate that fucking word and now it’s everywhere because somebody on a stupid fucking moronic blog started using it like a cutesy word and now it’s wanker this and wanker that and wank the other and it makes me so sick I could kill someone! It’s like calling everyone ‘cum-face.’ You think that’s cute? Plus it’s English and it makes me fucking sick so for fuck’s sake don’t ever use that word again!”

Nancy’s veins from his excessive drinking had popped out all over his face and teeth and he was shivering from anti-imperialistic fervor. About this time Rodley pedaled up, as we had stopped at a red light so that Nancy could take his seizure pills. Rodley is the nicest guy you will ever meet. He put his foot down and smiled the friendliest smile. “Hey, wankers!” he said. “What’s up?”

I’m not sure what happened to Nancy because he got off his bike and began moaning, and a couple of English guys I know rolled by and they started explaining that the U.K. wasn’t a football (soccer) team. I hope Nancy is okay.

END

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Astana launches doping investigation, discovers doping

October 18, 2014 § 19 Comments

UCI Pro Tour team Astana launched an investigation into team doping practices after Maxim Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO during the fourth stage of the Tour of Belgium. Within forty-seven minutes of the announcement, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov announced that “doping had been discovered” within the team.

“I’m very sorry to announce that doping has been discovered within Team Astana,” Vinokourov said at a press conference held at the world famous tourist resort and secret rendition destination known as Kyzylorda-sur-Waterboarding. “The dopers have confessed and been properly disposed of.”

Despite the most vigorous anti-doping program on the Pro Tour, a program that includes asking riders to report if they dope and that makes extensive use of self-graded questionnaires to root out potential drug problems, Astana has suffered a shocking number of doping positives, beginning with general manager Alexandre Vinokourov’s 2-year suspension for doping in the 2007 Tour de France.

“After getting caught for doping, I made sure that my team would have a very strict anti-doping policy,” said Vinokourov at the press conference. “People like me would no longer be welcome on the team, and after I retired it was my goal to make sure that no one like me would ever be associated with the team again.”

Vim Vandy Pants, cycling journalist and noted notary public, questioned Vinokourov regarding the team’s policy. According to Vandy Pants, “Shortly after Vino was busted, Matthias Kessler, another Astana rider, received a 2-year doping sanction. How do you explain this?” he asked at the press conference.

“Kessler was an aberration, an anomaly, a synonym for ‘one-off.’ None of his self-reported doping exams or questionnaires ever indicated drug use,” said Vinokourov.

Wham Wankypants, yet another famous cycling journalist and an even more widely noted notary public, followed up by asking Vinokourov about Eddy Mazzoleni, the former Astana rider who was banned for two years in the infamous Italian oil-for-drugs-and-old-jockstraps sting carried out by the Italian anti-doping agency, CONI-BALONEY. “You say zat no doping inna Astana, but you, Kessler, and Mazzoleni all was doping onna banana.”

“It’s true that Mazzoleni was a doper,” said Vinokourov. “But his program was very sophisticated, very clandestine, very secret. We asked him about it one night when he was very drunk, and he simply shrugged and said ‘I no doping.’ There was no way we could have known.”

Vinokourov was then asked about Andrey Kashechkin (banned for doping in the Tour of Turkey), former rider José Antonio Redondo (banned for testosterone), Vladimir Gusev (fired from team for sort-of-doping), Valentin Iglinskiy (banned for EPO), Maxim Iglinskiy (brother of Valentin, also banned for EPO), and llya Davidenok (busted for steroids and general stupidity).

Vinokourov was unapologetic. “These were isolated incidences, coincidences, outliers, random occurrences. We could never have known about such team-orchestrated doping despite our focus on self-reporting and questionnaires. However, now that we have launched a full investigation we have in fact uncovered doping. It is unacceptable and in the future we will insist that all riders on Astana refrain from doping or cheating in any way. Or else.”

END

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Clawing turkeys

November 23, 2012 § 10 Comments

Iron Mike and I knew it was going to be bad, and not just because we made our first pre-ride pee stop at the elegant planter and walkway entrance in front of the Police Department.

“Can we piss here?” I asked, incredulously.

“Sure. Do it all the time.”

“What about the cops?”

“You see any cops?”

“I see a big entrance to the police department that we’re standing in front of.”

“I asked if you see any cops,” he said, casually uncoiling the hose and helping spruce up the vegetation.

I had to admit I didn’t see any, so I followed suit.

We’d gotten to the start of the Holiday Ride early. It was chilly but the sun had already burned off the mist. It was going to be a perfect day. Every idiot in the South Bay with a bike would be there. Rather than start with the foaming crowd we kept pedaling. After about ten minutes they caught us on Vista del Mar. Rather, they rolled over us like a tsunami.

Did you say THREE HUNDRED?

Remember, this is an unorganized, unsponsored, casual ride that has been happening for years on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, July the Fourth, and Labor Day. But whatever the critical mass was, it somehow got reached. Well over three hundred turkeys strutted out of the woodwork to test their legs in the race up Mandeville Canyon.

And a test it would be. Stathis Sakellariadis, Tony Manzella, Rahsaan Bahati, Diego Binatena, Dan Cobley, Greg Leibert, Cory Williams, Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, and a slew of Helen’s strongmen were all there spoiling for a fight.

Which was fine and as it should be.

What was not fine, and what was not as it should have been, was the outright war for position that began the moment the swollen cancer left Manhattan Beach. Going down Mt. Chevron, some idiots braked for the reflector dots and took their feet out of the clips. The idiots following too closely and watching something other than what was in front hit and went down.

No one cared, apparently because this was a race to the death.

I’m not easily frightened

Well, actually, I am. I’m a cowardly, fearful, trembling wussmaster when it comes to crashing, pain, danger, or getting hurt. And the second we were overtaken by the cancer, my terror level went through the roof.

People who don’t race, who have never raced, who have no intention of racing, and who wouldn’t know how to pin a number on a mannequin were fighting for position like pros approaching the Tranche d’Fuckenberg. Tiny little space between two bikes? The Turkey Pros shot through.

Both lanes filled, curb to center lane? A Turkey Pro would jump the yellow dots, sprint into oncoming traffic, advance ten positions, and dive back in.

Can’t move up by riding in the wrong lane? Watch the Turkey Pros hop the right-hand curb and race up the sidewalk. That nice lady pushing a pram with twins will understand later how important it was for them to be properly positioned, even though she’s drizzling terror pee now.

Only a couple of people figured out the solution, one being Miles Irish. Miles bulled to the very front and kept the gas on all the way to San Vicente while Turkey Pros crashed and burned behind him. Downside? The plumes of smoke coming out of his ears once the road tilted up. Upside? He never planned on winning on Mandeville anyway.

Towards the front, but never on it

The main ploy behind the Turkey Pros was to hop, squeeze, slide, and push their way towards the front, but to never actually get into the wind. It’s a clever tactic worthy of a protected Euro pro in a big race…but it’s a wanker move par excellence for the Holiday Ride.

When we hit the left turn on San Vicente, Hair looked over. “Why the serious face?” he laughed. Dude fucking always laughs, is fearless.

“I’m trying not to crash.”

Hair laughed. “Better spend that energy trying to hang on.”

And he had a point, because when we hit Mandeville Canyon, Josh Alverson opened up the throttle. Tree Perkins followed, with me glued to Tree’s wheel. I held the speed for thirty seconds or so, then swung over. Done.

As the wankoton blew by, I counted. For ten solid minutes riders passed me. I stopped counting at 298, and there were dozens who’d never even turned up Mandeville as well as dozens who had u-turned and gone back before passing me.

Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, back at the Center of the Known Universe

Long before I reached the summit a cadre of South Bay wankers including Joe, Gus, Marc, and Doug came blasting by. They had made the sensible choice not to wait for the endless stream struggling up the hill, and to ride back in a smaller, safer group.

For some reason, however, the closer they got to CotKU, the more ridiculous things got. Dudes who hadn’t been in the same zip code for Mandeville honors were now gunning it, devil-take-the-hindmost, to be first in line for coffee.

The only thing that got in the way of their fun was a Cadillac Escalade, and although they hit it full tilt, the 4,000-pound vehicle amazingly didn’t crumple from the impact of the flesh-and-bone-wrapped-around-some-plastic-tubes.

It did lose a tail light, whereas Carey D.’s entire frame broke. Doug busted a brake, and Marc got an ouchy on his saddle bag.

Back at CotKU they compared notes, trying to understand why their forceful bodies hadn’t been able to easily thrust aside the Escalade. No one could figure it out until King Harold, who happens to be an engineer, explained it to them.

“Mass times velocity,” he began, as the wankers’ eyes glazed over at the word “mass.”

Then he re-started. “Look here, dorks.” Everyone looked at his foot, where a doodlebug was trundling by. He lifted his foot and lowered it quickly on the hapless bug.

“You, dorks, are the bug. The Escalade is the foot. Get it?”

A light went on in the formerly befuddled and confused faces of the crash victims. “You mean…?” said one.

“That if it’s a witch…” said another.

“And it’s heavier than a duck…” said a third.

“Then we burn it?” said a fourth, as the other three nodded vigorously.

King Harold shook his head. “No, no, no,” he said. “I mean that this Holiday Ride thing we just did…”

“Yes?” they asked in a chorus.

“It’s perfect for you. Just perfect. See you on Christmas Day.”

Whoa!

September 10, 2012 § 14 Comments

It’s not every day that you get to see Ryan O’Neal groggily collecting his morning newspaper on PCH well past noon, looking like he lost a knife fight to a gallon of cheap tequila and shouting “Whoa!” in surprise as the speeding South Bay wankoton barreled by within two feet of his chintzy velour bathrobe and plastic slippers.

But then again, it’s not every day that you get up at 5:00 AM, have your first cup of coffee, prepare for the 115-mile beatdown with a small bowl of oatmeal, and rendezvous with 38 other wankers at the Center of the Known Universe amidst gorgeous weather offset by the rich blue of the placid Pacific Ocean.

Rules is rules

There were really only a couple of rules, and they were badly needed as the group had swelled to over seventy by the time we reached PCH. Rule 1: Don’t pollute the stunning oceanside panorama of the coast highway with an ugly outfit. Rule 2: Don’t show up on the group ride with shitty tires.

The “Looks Like a Pro Transformation Prize” was instantly awarded to Arkansas Traveler, he of the baseball cap-under-a-helmet-with-bloody-ass-hanging-out-from-shredded-shorts-fame. ArkTrav had put away the gimmecap with the 7-inch bill and replaced it with a svelte and stylish and old school cycling cap.

Fashion point one, check.

Next, he had discarded the old saggsalot jersey with spare pockets ample enough for a backup radiator, and had jettisoned the Brad House “wear ‘em ’til the bunghole shows through, then wear ‘em some more” bib shorts.

Fashion point two, check.

Finally, he had kitted up in what I still maintain is the best looking, most elegant, and well fitting kit on the road anywhere: The SPY weekender kit, which is cleaner and more rad than the racing outfit. It’s no surprise that both are the creation of Joe Yule, who has done more to beautify the highways and byways of California than the entire roadside garbage pickup division of CalTrans.

Now, about that shitty tire rule

The first tire casualty of the day was Cary the Elder, who flatted near Pepperdine and would have been left for dead had the Pilot not stopped to help change the flat, but more importantly, to tow him back up to the group…38 miles later.

The second tire casualty of the day was “She’s just now got good and broke in,” otherwise known as Ol’ Wrinkles, the man famous for using equipment until it either becomes so obsolete that tools no longer exist to repair it, or until it disintegrates from overuse and age and falls from the frame in a powder of rust. Ol’ Wrinkle’s first flat came on account of a “slice in his tire.”

Close examination revealed that indeed the tire was sliced…as are most tires with over 25,000 miles of heavy road wear. Closer examination revealed that the slice was actually about fifty slices, all of varying length. Closer examination still revealed that of all the tire products available to the cycling consumer, he had opted to go with the Trojan Papershell, a tire advertised by its Indonesian manufacturer as “Smooth and Thin as Your Second Skin.”

“Damn, Wrinkles,” several people said as they watched him insert the wrong kind of tube. “What are you riding a premium crit tire for on a road like this?”

“They’re the best cornering tire made.”

“Yeah, but when’s the last time you went around a corner at anything over 5 mph?”

After successfully loading the tube, the group got together to chase the main pack for the next hundred yards or so, when the tire flatted and he replaced the wrong tube with another wrong tube. After cleaning out the grupetto of their last CO2 cartridge and last spare tube, Ol’ Wrinkles did a u-ey and headed home.

Pearls before swine

Elron is one of those dudes who knows more about bike fit than you do, and consequently he never gives advice. Pros like Matt Goss get fitted by him when they come into town, so unlike all the other advice sausages out there, he feels zero need to show off.

Once in every rare while, however, he sees something so wrong and so bad and so fucked up that he can’t help himself.

About thirty miles into the ride, he came up to me. “Dude. Your saddle’s too low.”

“Oh really? It does feel kinda low. But I like a flat stroke at the bottom.”

“You should raise it.”

“How much?”

“Start with about three inches.”

Since I never travel with a wrench, we waited until our first stop at the Rock, where Elron raised my seat. “Man,” I said, “that’s a lot.”

“You’ll get more power on the down stroke now that your knees aren’t under your chin.”

And he was right.

Put your junk into the wind

After Cross Creek, our group yo-yo’ed with the tentative uncertainty of various people on the front, none of whom understood the key point behind being on the front: If you’re comfortable, everyone behind you is expending zero energy because of the draft. This contributed to a horrible accordion effect that was also occurring because the leaders didn’t know how to pick a steady pace and maintain it.

It was more mayhem and crossed wheels and raggedy bunchedy herdball bike slop than you see when they let loose the 150 kiddies at a crit for the one-lap children’s event. To make matters worse, when we rolled through Trancas someone dived into the parking lot at the filling station, even though it wasn’t an approved stop.

Sheep being sheep, we all followed until Douggie yelled “What the fuck? This isn’t an approved stop!” So those of us who hadn’t hit the head or gone on a candybar marauding mission turned back onto PCH, effectively splitting the group and losing a handful of our most trusted leaders, which included Knoll and Pablo.

In order to steady the pace I wound up in front, this time with Junkyard at my side, plodding into a stiff 20 mph headwind. We reached the Rock in tatters, getting help from Bucks, Kramer, and Long Beach Freddy Wayne. Wayne, who was fresh as a daisy towards the end of my 20-mile headwind effort, chirpily asked, “Hey, Wankster, there’s gotta be a story behind those pink socks!”

“Ungh,” I grunted.

“Let’s hear it!” he said, chirpily.

“I’ll…tellya…another…………time,” I said.

We all dismounted at the Rock, with half the contingent dashing off to the chainlink fence to pee and the other half assaulting Legit Girl when they found out she was traveling with 25,000 calories of energy food. I crawled to her on my knees. “Got food?”

“Gosh, yes! What would you like?”

“Anything.”

“What have you had so far?”

“Water.”

“But what have you been eating?”

“Water.”

“You can’t do a 120-mile ride on water! That’s unhealthy!”

I didn’t argue, but voraciously scarfed up the two little chocolate protein ball thingies that she flung my direction.

He who is always near but never quite at the front

By the time we got back to Marina del Rey, our group was down to about a dozen riders. At first I thought I was hallucinating when on the bike path Jensie, our German transplant, got on the front. A collective gasp went up, as one of the biggest shirkers in the wankoton not only hit the front but took fifteen or twenty pedal strokes.

“Oh my Dog!” shouted one rider.

“Quick! The camera!” shouted another.

“Call NBC News!” screamed a third.

Unfortunately, this was the one day I’d decided to ride without my GoPro, and before long Jensie had melted back into the anonymity of riding behind girls and elderly fellows with helmet mirrors. Inspired by this brazen display of on-the-frontery, a mere one mile from home, and after sitting in for a hundred miles, Eric of the South Bay Wheelpersons took a pull on Vista del Mar, ramping up the speed so that it kicked a couple of struggling, bonk-addled bikers out the back.

Once we reached the safety of the Center of the Known Universe, the survivors quaffed cold espresso drinks and reflected on another day in paradise. I’m sure it could have been better…maybe if it had been Tatum in that flimsy bathrobe instead of her dad?

In their own words (sort of)

August 2, 2012 § 4 Comments

This morning’s New Pier Ride was a wankfest deluxe, replete with a dozen different flats, a founding NPR wanker who tumped over on his side at 2mph and trashed his frame, a cement mixer swooping by at warp speed, four hundred thousand medium-sized rocks scattered along the 2.5 mile western leg on the Parkway, bar-bumping, shoulder-rubbing, hollering, hiding, sprunting, attacking, crumpling, wheelsucking, and of course Going to the Front.

The clarion sounded last night, announcing on the Internets that MMX would be coming up from North County to work off his hangover; that Fukdude would be gracing us with his national champion presence; that Prez would be there in a new lime green kit; that Erik the Red would be on a scalp-collecting mission, and that every newbie, oldbie, dumby, and Gumbie would be flailing and flogging in a mad attempt to not get kicked out the back on the first lap.

The wankers answered the call in force. Promises of an audience with the Godfather, promises of sunny weather, and promises of a merciless beatdown resulted in seventy wankers rolling out from the Pier, with an additional 30-40 getting picked up along Pershing.

How was it, then…?

“Today was a dynamic one for me, filled with highs and some lows. I slept three hours and rolled up to the Pier still drunk. I was pumped at the prospect of an exciting, solid ride.”

“I got there early and rode up the bike path. There were lots of people. and they kept coming and coming, like roaches to a pile of fresh puke.”

“Wow, a big ride for Marc’s birthday. Not that anyone knew.”

“WM has cultivated an impressive ride. Blew me away how it kept growing and swelling all the way to Pershing and then along the Parkway.”

“It was cool to see people I haven’t seen in a while.”

“This ride and Wankmeister’s crazy blog got me back into cycling. I’ve been doing this ride for two months and it just gets harder even though I’m getting fitter. Today was the fastest ever.”

“From Pershing I left the wankoton and moved to the front of the class. Got in a nice hard slap at the front after the overpass.”

“Had Wankmeister on my wheel for a long stretch, pulling into the wind. At the front I felt fantastic and never anaerobic, I could have danced all night.”

“I kept waiting for the pace to quicken, but it never did.”

“Did a few rotations and drifted back five or ten wheels, then repeat.”

“Seemed like the first first real acceleration was the second lap, when one or twenty numb nuts let Eric and a couple others go down the road. I had to chase like a motherfucker.”

“Is this ride always this hard? I used to be a bowler. Bowling’s just not this hard.”

“King Harold did a wonderful flat back pull up toward the u-turn, start of Lap 3. I was third wheel. Harold flicked an elbow and the second wheel sat up and moved right, like a total fucking wanker, leaving me to bridge that little gap and then pull all the way up to the turn. Fucking wankers. Don’t they read your blog? Go to the fucking front.”

“Finishing up the 3rd lap I hit a huge rock no one pointed out and nearly lost control. Pinch flatted, which took me out toward the start of the last lap. Major bummer; I was so primed and ready turn on the jets. I think there were twelve flats today.”

“Is there a slower B ride?”

“I kept trying to Go to the Front, but just ended up Going out the Back.”

“Strava flail. How hard was this ride, anyway?”

“The New Pier Ride is incredible. Props to Douggie, Trey, and the other wankers who thought this up. Never seen a regular ride like it, or even heard of one. Fantastic stuff.”

“This ride is a fredfest. Saw two fucking freds almost murder each other and take me out.”

“Won’t be doing this again. Fast enough to tire you out, but not fast enough to make you faster. Fucking trucks and rocks and lights and traffic and crazy people on their first bike ride. This NPR shit blows.”

“People of all stripes come from all over. Its amazing. Really inclusive, which is unusual for road cycling.”

“I didn’t get my coffee this morning because we had a power outage at my apartment. Needless to say, OTB.”

“There were the usual fast guys and lots of new guys who think they are fast until they get near the front and melt like ice cream in a reactor core. I watched a number of guys near me who never took a pull. Now, granted, some of these guys are the guys who were waiting for the sprint (as though this was a race)–we know who they are. But there were others who never got to the front but would linger near it, kind of like a dude with a naked chick who sticks his face down near her crotch and sniffs but won’t drop trou and start humping. I don’t like these people. Hump or go home.”

“I noticed you on the front numerous times, Wankmeister, but I think your legs were zapped. Good posing, though, even though you slowed us down every time you pulled through, you wanker.”

“I saw Eric on the front a few times, including that attack I had to chase down. He’s a badass.”

“The guy in the SBW was awesome. Is that the Dennis Herrera dude you were telling me about? Driving the front. I loved riding with him.”

“Awesome all the other girls out. Makes me feel good to have other girls riding nearby. And they’re strong and getting stronger.”

“Bull would pull but he would get so gassed he’d let gaps open up after, only to come back to the front for another pull. Relentless = awesome.”

“Returning to the South Bay, you had the typical wankers hitting the gas, even though they had all been wearing invisibility cloaks on the Parkway. WTF?”

“Fucking endless list of riders who never pulled, not even once. That Pischon dude took a monster hit westbound on Lap One. Beastly. Prez got the bit between his teeth once, too.”

“Fast guys are fast: Lonergan, Hair, Davy, Eric, Big Steve.”

“So many people do this ride, get dropped and jump back in make it scary. I especially don’t like the guys who get dropped and then when the lead group catches them they feel compelled to jump towards, but never on, the front. Scary bunch of wankers.”

“Ride is awesome because when you get shelled you can hop back in. I’ve gotten hella stronger in six months and can almost finish the ride.”

“Post ride festivities indicate there is a real community feel that has developed from this ride. Kudos.”

“People taking care of each other is a good sign. The camaraderie is apparent and it’s contagious. This is beautiful. Saw people always stopping to help with mechanicals and flats. Just don’t see that much.”

“I wish I could do NPR more often!”

“Thanks to all the SB wankers for creating such a great ride and for making me feel a part of it.”

“Is this a regular ride? What time does it start?”

“Can you dig all the westsiders who come down for this? Legit.”

“Huge turnout, largest I’ve ever seen. Wanker to hammer ratio was decent.”

“Lots of fresh faced wankers I don’t know. Not so fresh faced at the end, just rent with shrapnel and had the look of the black plague about ‘em. They’ll toughen up.”

“Does this ride always have all these rocks? I fricking flatted. Yo, wankers, point shit out and help thy fellow rider, that is if you’re not riding over your head and can remove your hands from the bars without crashing out thirty people.”

“Great pace, not too fast, not too slow.”

“Fireman brought it home over Hair in a nail biter.”

“Great to see MMX out and briefly catch up. Dude’s riding strong.”

“Fuck that was a giant group festering at the pier before ride. The last time I saw that many idiots in one place was when I watched a joint session of Congress.”

“Every lap I poked my nose in the wind and soon thereafter thought I would be dropped.”

“The ride was incredibly hard. However I noticed several dingleberries at the ass end who were neither poo nor hair  yet were stubbornly there. Someone oughta shake them loose.”

“Post ride coffee looked like a class reunion. I almost got a phone number. These biker chicks are smokin’ hot.”

“Dave Perez likes having his picture taken. And why was he lying on the ground at Fukdude’s feet?”

“My favorite part of the ride:  Some wanker shouting ‘Stop riding on the rocks,’ as if those little pebbles were a problem. Pussy needs to ride a few miles in rural Madison County. He’d be praying for rocks. Our roads are paved with possum teeth, the bones of Republicans, and small bore bullets.”

“This Cancellara looking dude I’ve never seen in my life goes, ‘Hey is this the last lap?’ and I go ‘Yeah,’ and he goes ‘Then you lead it out, I’ll jump on your wheel and take the vee, ok?’ Uh yeah, sure, and you wanna pork me in the ass afterwards as well?”

“It was the fastest NPR to date, 24mph + average speed, not counting the boulders flying everywhere, fucking pachinko cycling at its finest as Trey flailed in the corner and broke his bike. Not that he cares, ’cause now he has an excuse to get a new one.”

“My legs are still sore in weird places from racing San Marcos with my fit all fucked up!”

“Can you introduce me to that cute chick I was riding behind? She is so hot.”

“I came to ‘sit-in on a social ride,’ because ya, SPY MMX is here, let’s be social because they are the BEST!”

“Ride started out super chill…seemed extra slow to the base of Pershing. Then people started flying and others started gasping, I was like, wow, do these hackers have medical clearance to be out here?”

“Can you introduce me to MMX after the ride? I’ve always wanted to meet him.”

“I set a PR on the whole ramp section meaning it was the fastest in a long time.”

“This just wasn’t even a social ride, I mean nobody really seemed to be in social mode unless that meant look to the person behind you and give them the ‘Noooo, you go!’ look or look ahead at where you can go to make everyone else have to go faster.”

“What’s wrong with people? Might as well attempt to take a pull, why not?”

“Surfer Dan told me to go to the front today and tell people he told me to. Of course he wasn’t there. Surfing.”

“I took a short pull that clearly seemed slow to everyone else because someone quickly came by me. Thanks.”

“Everyone seemed to be hurting a lot after about Lap 1. Wankers!”

“I went to the front when I could. Problem was that I kept jumping on wheels of people that liked to act like they were going to the front and then slow down like five wheels before it. Guyyyysss, that’s not the front!”

“After four laps we had completed what Strava records as the fastest total time for the four laps I have ever done with two laps being the fastest ever. So it was a damn fast four laps. Anybody who thinks it wasn’t hard was in the caboose.”

“I actually wanted to sprint, but I had never heard so much yelling, cursing, and wheels going squiggly! But, I was close enough to the front to see the people that were legitimately sprinting and I must say it was damn impressive!”

“When we turned off the Parkway a SPY guy, Perez, and a couple others went back to hammering. I followed. Another PR.”

“Ramp…fastest ever. Four laps…fastest ever. Return to Imperial…fastest ever. There was no fucking break.”

“They should call this the Lots of Rocks, Flats, Yelling, and Gasping Ride.”

“It was a huge ride that became much smaller once the gas got turned on. Props to everyone who kept getting back in the mix!”

“I felt like my head was a giant pimple that was about to burst!”

“What a bunch of whiners! Why would you come on a ride that is supposed to be a total beatdown and then complain when you get an awesome workout?”

“I say thank you to people after they get me through a workout that I never could have done alone. You just got stronger without asking for it!”

“Wanker crashed out turning onto Imperial on the way back. It looked like he pulled a Tink and just fell over. Hope he was okay.”

“NPR as of late and especially today: more LADIES, and all the ones that have been coming regularly are getting stronger and stronger!”

“The Pier almost sank from the weight…of bodies, not bikes.”

“NPR participants will lobby Manhattan Beach planning committee to widen the alley.”

“More horsepower today than the Arkansas Tractor Pull Championships. But not as many IQ points.”

“Big names, astonishing jerseys, 110 wankers. Doesn’t get much better than this!”

“Can your Tuesday AM ride do this?”

“Burlap Jack, Mountain Mouse, Pippy Aus-Stocking, the SPYfia family shooting the place up, guns blazing, bodies everywhere, blood gushing from new orifices, but afterwards everybody friendly as hell. Even Daniel.”

“In order to make the World Way overpass in the top 10 required having the tip of the saddle touching the lower intestine. Fuck that hurt.”

“Getting back to Westchester, the tip of the saddle was now rubbing the pancreas.”

“First lap was like a fuck’n MMA cage fight, with 20 dudes in the cage at once who only knew how to groin kick and eye stab. Nasty shit.”

“Second lap, beside the white boulders… there were flashes of white light…and fifty wankers pedaling triangles in the gutter as their heads spun around like Linda Blair. Hope they got their demons outed.”

“The so-called sprint was more like Custer’s Last Stand, minus the surprise. All the wankers knew the killing was going to happen. Scary shit.”

“Wankmeister, you’ve taught a lot of people that beatdowns are to be valued. Now could you teach them to Go to the Front?”

Help for the clueless

March 27, 2012 § 12 Comments

On this morning’s New Pier Ride I slid to the back on the third lap around the Parkway and was, again, amazed. So many bicyclists on $10,000 rigs wearing hundreds of dollars of the latest clothing doing nothing but soft pedaling. No hard breathing. Tons of shelter in amongst the bodies. No ambition, desire, or motivation to move even so much as a bike length towards the front.

“What a bunch of wankers,” I thought. “Why don’t they go to the front? There’s no workout back here. What’s the point of all that carbon, of getting up at dark-thirty, of smearing your balls mistakenly with fiery ointment, of all those shaving cuts around the groin just to cozily coddle yourself in a big lumpish peloton?”

Then it hit me. They didn’t know they weren’t at the front. They would finish the ride, deem it a good workout, and get on with their day. Most would think they’d been on the front at some point in the ride. They’d be…satisfied.

So I’ve come up with a little primer to help you get “at the front” and to become a better cyclist.

1. What is “the front”?

This is conceptually difficult for most NPR riders to grasp, but here are some key pointers that will unequivocally tell you whether you’re “at the front.”

–There is no one in front of you.
–Everyone is behind you.
–It is very windy.
–The big fat walrus dude with the backpack is nowhere to be seen.
–Your eyes are watering.
–Your legs are screaming.
–You want to vomit.
–There isn’t enough air in your lungs.
–Your heart feels like it’s going to lunge from your chest.
–Your HRM has gone from a series of quick beeps to a sustained alarm.
–Sheets of drool and snot cover your lips, chin, and cheeks.
–You don’t think you can withstand the pain for even another second.
–No one is screaming at you to “pull through.”
–When you finish your turn “at the front” the next person in line says “good job” or is blown off his bike by the headwind.

2. Do I belong “at the front”?

After firmly grasping #1 above, it occurs to 98% of the NPR participants to ask whether or not “the front” is a place where they indeed have any business being. Unfortunately, they mostly seem to conclude that “at the front” is a place where other people belong in order to keep the speed high while they, the “not-at-the-fronters,” can chattily spin at the back. If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you unequivocally belong “at the front.”

–You have said, in the last ten years, that you “race bikes,” “want to race bikes,” “used to race bikes,” “train with a state champion,” or that “Paris-Roubaix is such a hard race.”
–You have spent, in the last fiscal year, more than $200 on any cycling item advertised as “carbon,” “aero,” “performance,” “bladed,” “lightweight,” “tested in a wind tunnel,” or “as used by xxx,” where “xxx” is someone who gets paid to race his/her bicycle.
–You belong to a cycling club, any of whose members call themselves “bike racers.”
–You have ever held a USA Cycling racing license.
–There is any point during the NPR when you do not feel like puking.
–You have two legs, both of which are long enough to reach the pedals.
–You have a penis.
–You have a vagina.
–You have a penis that used to be a vagina, or a vagina that used to be a penis.
–You have ever contested a sprint on the NPR, where “contested” means “finished within 1,000 yards of the fastest rider.”
–You have ever owned, thought about owning, or are planning to someday own a power meter.
–You have ever met professionally with Ron Peterson.

3. How long should you be at this alien place called “the front”?

Now that it’s become obvious where the front is and that, in fact, you belong there, there’s a third issue:  Since only bad things seem to happen to those who dwell there for long, and since you are a firm adherent of the pleasure principle, it is important to know how long you’re expected to spend time “at the front.” Answer these handy-dandy questions for a rough guideline.

–Can you talk? Go to the front.
–Can you breathe? Go to the front.
–Are your legs still attached to your hips? Go to the front.
–Is the walrus dude with the backpack within 200 yards of you? Go to the front.
–Are you holding on for dear life? Go to the front.
–Are you at least 30% over your functional threshold? Go to the front.
–Are you about to cry? Go to the front.
–Is this the most horrific pain you’ve ever experienced outside of childbirth? Go to the front.
–Have you just been shelled? Do a u-turn and wait until the pack overtakes you. Then go back to the front.
–Is your cheek mashed against your stem? Go to the front.
–Has G$, Hair, Canyon Bob, Tree, Prez, Davy Dawg, G3, or Vapor just finished a pull so nasty and fraught with pain that you’ve shit all over yourself? Go to the front.
–Has the ride just started up Pershing and your legs are stiff as boards? Go to the front.
–Is Tinkerbell shredding you like cheese through a grater? Go to the front.
–Are you waiting for the sprint? Go to the front.
–Are you not at the front? Go to the front.

4. Okay, I’m “at the front.” Now what?

After you’ve mastered #1-3, you’ll need some instruction as to how you should behave now that you’re at this new, alien place called “the front.” Follow these steps and all will be well.

–Hammer. This is done by pressing down on the pedals with maximal force until you can no longer press down on them any more.
–Really hammer. This is done after you’ve passed the point where you think you can still stay upright on your bike.
–Hammer your fucking nuts off. This is where you no longer care about anything. Everything is numb except for the pain, which is unendurable.

Well, I hope this helps. See you on Thursday.

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