Last man lag

July 17, 2019 § 4 Comments

I learned this from Fields and the Dickson brothers. In bike racing it’s often called “taking someone off the back.” It has a lot of variants and is a key bike racing skill.

Here’s the way it works: There is someone in the break who you don’t want to be there. Sometimes the rider is a threat. Other times he is a lame wheelsuck who can only make it to the line by doing zero work in the break. Still other times he is just a weak blabbermouth.

In the traditional last man lag, you drift to the back, where LW is sipping tea, and you open up a gap. LW notices the gap, then sprunts around. It’s the only effort he has done all day, or intends to do. He latches back on and resumes his wheelsucking. Of course when he sprunts by, you grab his wheel so he tows you up to the group.

You then reshuffle yourself in the break so that LW is again on your wheel. You open up a gap, again. LW sprunts by to close the gap, and tows you back up. Now LW knows what’s up and he’s winded, huffing and puffing. Sometimes, LW is so dumb that he doesn’t even know what’s going on.

You reshuffle again, get in front of LW, and open up a gap a third time. This time, though LW is mad. “Fuck you!” he either says, thinks, or both. Now he has decided not to close the gap. The gap opens, and opens, and opens. Pretty soon LW realizes that if he doesn’t do something, the race is over. But it’s too far for him to close the gap because he’s a lame wheelsuck. You then kick it hard, drop LW, motor back up to the break, and he’s gone.

The key to making last man lag work is that you have to be strong enough to close the gap. Alternatively, you have to be content with simply drifting all the way back to the peloton or the chase group. The key is to neutralize LW, to get him out of the break because he doesn’t belong there. Last man lag is always accompanied by lots of histrionics, shoutypantsing, and mean words, which you are duty bound to ignore. What makes last man lag so painful is that it exposes LW’s complete weakness, and therefore you don’t want to try it with someone who is better than you. They will simply let you drift way off the back, then come around you so hard that you’re the one who gets dropped, and they will happily reattach.

A second version of last man lag, and by far the more emotionally painful one for LW, is the disruptive non-rotation.

In this version, you refuse to rotate through. LW and others will shout at you and get very angry. Don’t worry, though, it’s bike racing, and the iron rule of breakaways is this: If you can’t drop a rider out of the break, you can’t drop a rider out of the break.

Once the frustration reaches a pitch, someone will start attacking in order to get rid of you. This part can be briefly painful, because you’ve targeted LW and want to make sure that he’s not part of the final mix, and you may have to actually exert yourself as you follow LW, who is going to try and not get dropped. LW is typically a clueless dunderhead and has no idea that any of this is transpiring. A better scenario is that he is a 99% clueless dunderhead, knows what’s happening, and knows he can’t do anything about it.

LW or the other breakmates will cover the move and you will resume your non-rotating, engendering more shoutypantsing. Sometimes it even takes the form of wheedling. For example, LW, who hates your fucking guts, will sweetly say, “Come on, buddy, just rotate through.” It’s important that even though you want to get off your bike and laugh hysterically, you maintain your poker face and refuse to work.

The anger pitch resumes, along with the attacks. The attacks are of course the one thing that LW can’t respond to, so gaps open up. In the melee you have to get on LW’s wheel, which is like taking candy from a baby. Once you’re there, you’re golden, as he will pedal mightily, jersey zipper popping as his tummy jiggles hither and yon, yearning to be free.

Then LW will do the elbow flick of the century and swing over. You will swing over with him. Under no circumstances will you pull. He will say some unkind things about your mother. About your childhood. About your lack of manliness. But no matter, because you and he are now off the back with one or two other riders and the race is up the road.

The key to making this version of last man lag work is silence and 100% fixation on LW’s rear wheel, because in addition to swerving, taking you to the curb, and trying to knock you down, he will also make one super-human effort to get back up to the break. Of course because he is LW and the jump will immediately deflate and peter out, this move will fail–you just want to make sure that you don’t get gapped out and actually have to pedal.

After a while you will either go back to the field, or better yet, get lapped. LW will be so angry that he goes slower and slower until, if you’ve played your cards perfectly, you’ll both be pedaling at about 5 mph. LW will really lay into you then. But the insults will be confused and jumbled and sound like the playground taunts of that kid in third grade who was really bad at spelling. DO NOT LAUGH. Just keep pedaling until the race ends or you get pulled.

The payback to being DFL with LW is of course the hilarity and mirth that result when you regale your teammates with the details after the race. It will be something to giggle and laugh about for weeks, if not months, and if it happens in a training race where you don’t have to pay an entry fee, and if LW is especially lame, you can do it again, and again, and again, taking turns with other riders in successive weeks.

So there.

Don’t say you never learned anything here about bike racing.


END

Bike shit I have wasted money on

July 10, 2019 § 30 Comments

MY TOP TEN:

  1. Power meter. All it told me what was I already knew: YOU SUCK.
  2. Deep dish wheels. Deep dish belongs on pizza. Period.
  3. Anything ‘cross. Everything ‘cross. Cross is my personality, not my bike.
  4. Masters race entry fees. Subsidizing other people’s drug problems? I don’t think so.
  5. GoPro. I am not a pro. I can barely go. So, no.
  6. The Stravver premium subscription. Kidding. Even I’m not that lame.
  7. Turbotrainer. I had one of those in 1984. Still haven’t recovered from the extensive brain damage.
  8. Skinsuits. I already have skin. Suits I wear to court. Ergo, bad combo, like “fun interval.” Nup. Nah. Nuh-nuh. Nopey nope nope.
  9. Track bike. Do road or do track, doing both is like cross dressing. It only impresses a few weird people.
  10. Aero bar extenders. When you have the form of a pig hunching a greased football, them bar extenders don’t mean squat.

Yours????


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Did you do the NPR?

July 9, 2019 § 8 Comments

There has been a lot of discussion lately about what the NPR actually is. I am not good with flow charts and stuff, but what follows might help you out if you are wondering whether you really did the NPR.

Did you start at the Manhattan Beach Pier?

NO — You did not do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you leave at 6:40 AM?

NO — You did not do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you turn right at Imperial?

YES — You did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you wait for the group at the top of Pershing?

YES — You for sure did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you get dropped, cut across the Parkway, then hop back in with the group, a/k/a Hop-in Wanker?

YES — Don’t even think about saying you did the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you run a red light?

YES — You might have done the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

When you ran the red light(s), were you in a breakaway or solo OTF?

NO — You didn’t do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did Elijah yell at you?

NO — You need to do more action to get noticed.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you peel off on Lap 3 so you could watch the finish?

YES — You did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you complete all four laps plus Pershing plus VdM plus the Alley?

NO — You didn’t do the NPR. Sorry.

YES — Go ahead, post it up on the ‘Bag, the Gram, and the Stravver. You did the NPR.


END

Girls v. Boys

July 8, 2019 § 6 Comments

I showed up for what I thought was going to be a mellow Cali Riderz group cruise on Saturday. I was still tired from the Holiday Ride beatdown and hollerfest.

When I got to the parking lot, George said, “You ready to race?”

“Race who?”

“The women!”

“What women?”

“This is the annual Alameda Corridor race.”

“What’s that?”

“We give the women a five-minute head start and then chase them all the way to O Street and PCH along Alameda. It’s about 13 miles. Whoever gets there first gets bragging rights for the year, and the smack has been nonstop since they beat us last year.”

“What about all the lights?”

“You gotta stop for ’em.”

“Five minutes is huge over 13 miles. Do the guys ever win?”

“They haven’t in several years.”

About this time Michelle rolled up. She was crying.

“What’s wrong?” George asked, alarmed.

“I’m so sad,” she said.

“What happened?”

“Nothing yet.”

“Then why are you crying?”

“I’m just thinking about how sad you boys are gonna be when we kick your butts again this year.”

I didn’t know what to say. I’d obviously wound up in the middle of a war. “This thing been going on a long time?” I asked.

“Decades,” George said. “Decades.”

We rode a long way to the start, picking up riders along the way. When we got to the restaurant parking lot where the festivities were going to begin, there was a crowd of riders. Part of the crowd included Travis and Joselyn, on a tandem.

“What are they doing on a tandem?” I asked George.

“Travis is going to pace the women.”

“We’ll never catch him.”

“It’s better than their Plan A,” he said.

“What was Plan A?”

“To get paced on a motorcycle.”

“How does this usually work?” I asked George, getting nervous.

“Last year we didn’t go hard enough at the start because of all the lights. After the 91, there aren’t any lights and you have a clear shot, but there’s only five miles or so left, so if you aren’t picking up stragglers by the 91, you’re never gonna catch the leaders.”

“So we sprint after every light?”

“We have to.”

“What about the other riders in our group?”

“What about ’em?”

“Got it.” I realized the fact. This was gonna hurt.

The women left, timing their departure perfectly with a green light. Five minutes later we started and rolled immediately into a red. From there we sprinted after each light for what seemed like forever, more than ten or fifteen full-gas efforts from a complete stop. After a while it was just me, George, and Michael.

By the time we got to the 91 we could see a few rear blinky taillights. We went even harder. With less than a mile to go we saw Travis and Joselyn and Shermadean. The rule was that you have to finish with at least two women if you’re on the women’s team, and with two men if you’re on the men’s team.

With a quarter mile to go they broke up. We barely passed them at the end.

After we caught our breath the women advised us that it didn’t count. “The real race is in November,” they said. “When we have all our strong riders.”

“What was this?” I asked.

“Just a little warm-up. To let you feel good about yourselves.”

I don’t know how good I felt. My legs just ached. It was, however, one of the most fun rides I’ve done in ages, seasoned with plenty of spicy smack. I tried to keep my mouth shut, which is hard. November is way too close.


END

July 4 Holiday Ride recap

July 5, 2019 § 9 Comments

  1. Shut up already about “safety.” You were 1 of 250 idiots racing full speed in an illegal, un-permitted street race, endangering the lives of pedestrians, the lives of fire hydrants, and the lives of each other, all for the glory of getting dropped on Mandeville.
  2. Yes, that is a traffic light. Like a coop of chickens smelling a fox, every time we approached an intersection, half the wankoton cackled “Light!” “Slowing!” Are you fucking kidding me? Anyone who can’t see a traffic light or notice that people are going from 30 to 10 IS ON A DIFFERENT RIDE. And … “Crack! Hole!” on Vista del Mar?? THAT STREET IS A SOLID 3-MILE CREVASSE, MINEFIELD, AND RUBBLE PILE. Stfu and pedal..
  3. Start is start. The Holiday Ride starts at CotKU. If you were a hop-in wanker somewhere along the route, please note that on your Stravver.
  4. Pull like Keith. Shirtless Keith drove the front and blew up repeatedly all the way to San Vicente. I know it sucks to get sweat on your $250.00 custom team jersey, but it sucks even more to be on a bike ride and NOT RIDE YER FUGGIN’ BIKE.
  5. How the West won. Why were all the South Bay wankers shelled in the first 500 meters up Mandeville? Why was the leaderboard populated exclusively with Westsiders? Because the South Bay is a) Old b) Soft c) Weak. d) All of the above. [Hint: Correct answer is “d.”]
  6. Kit winner of the day: Shirtless Keith. Of course. Best boots and Pop-Tart strap-on outside a prison work gang.
  7. Butter on a griddle. That’s what the peloton looked like when Rudy Napolitano took a 23-mph pull all the way up San Vicente. Number of pretty boyz/gurlz who followed his example and took a pull: 0. Number who decided suddenly that this was a rest week: 50% of the peloton.
  8. Riders killed or horribly maimed because helmetless: 0.
  9. Blowhard #socmed heroes who were obliterated in the first 1/4 of the climb despite never taking a single fuggin’ pull: All of them.
  10. Best Gram videos: Baby Seal and Ramon, of course!

END

Get up and boogie

July 2, 2019 § 1 Comment

Nobody “deserves” to be in the Olympics. With few exceptions, you begin playing a game years before, the Olympic Game. It’s the contest that inexorably leads to your inclusion or exclusion from the biggest sporting stage on earth.

The battle isn’t just with splits or with successive triple axels or points or wins or or or or or. No, the battle is at every level, from breakfast to training, from personal issues to whether or not your country is at war, from getting on with your coach to getting sent to the competitions that matter, from tearing the legs off your competitors to tearing ligaments in an unfortunate fall.

The Olympic Game doesn’t end until you’ve either made the squad or you haven’t.

And even though the Olympics are so near that Tokyo has completed the stadiums, spit-polished Ueno Station, painted the city with English signs and ripped out the squat toilets, for the athletes the Olympics are still a thousand years away simply because anything can happen between now and then, and by “anything” I mean “anything bad.”

Yet the Olympics are dazzlingly close, too, because at least in the world of track cycling the pool of candidates has winnowed considerably, and there are only a handful of races left that will put contenders on a competition trajectory to participate in the most important events leading up to the Games.

Your chances of getting picked if you’re not winning? Slimmmmmm.

Your chances of getting picked if you’re not at the biggest races in the next eleven months? Zero.

One of the biggest forks in the road if you’re a U.S. bike racer trying to qualify for the Olympics is happening this week, it’s happening in Carson, and for many of the riders, everything is on the line. A crushing performance here will likely send you to the Pan-Am Games, and a strong showing there will propel you into the upcoming events in the World Cup.

A catastrophic showing in Carson and your Olympic campaign will likely come to a halt, the kind of halt that happens when someone takes out your front wheel with a bulldozer. So if you’re wondering what to do this week, I recommend you take a few hours of your time starting Thursday and mosey down to the Carson velodrome to watch some hard core pre-Olympic knife fighting in the mud.

And no, I’m not going to backtrack on my opener, that no one “deserves” an Olympic slot. But I will say that at track nationals this year you’ll get to see the best, most astonishing, most accomplished, most interdiscplinary bike racer we’ve had in this country for years. Of course I’m talking about Daniel Holloway.

How good is Holloway? He has won the national elite crit title five times. He’s a two-time national elite road champion. How about this: he’s held a national title of some type every single year … since 2014. And on top of that, for a couple of years he was wearing national titles simultaneously in three events. Name a national caliber crit and he’s not only won it, but chances are he’s won it multiple times. Athens? Yup. Snake Alley? Yup. Speed Week? Yup. Tulsa Tough? Yup, yup, yup.

The only reason that he doesn’t still dominate the national road and crit scene is because he’s trying to make the Olympic track squad, period. He has raced six-days in Europe for years, and brings the same intellect, bike skills, and tactical genius to the boards that he brings to road racing. Explosive, canny, tenacious, he’s the kind of rider who quickly exhausts your thesaurus when you’re trying to explain that HE IS A BADASS KILLER OF A BIKE RACER.

But in addition to all that, he has another skill, one that truly puts him at the pinnacle of the sport: The ability to polish off a giant stack of homemade sourdough pancakes topped with butter and maple syrup and not even whine about the calories. In fact, when I offered him this healthy post-ride snack before we went for a pedal the other day, all he texted back was, “Sounds like gluten. I’m in.”

So my advice is that you boogie on down to the Carson velodrome sometime this week to watch some crazy great bike racing. You’ll see some people here in your hometown that, twelve months hence, you are for sure gonna see on TV.


END

“How do I get in the blog?”

June 30, 2019 Comments Off on “How do I get in the blog?”

People never ask me that. What they do ask is, “You’re not gonna put that in the blog, are you?”

But I was on the Bahati 100 kits ride, a few miles after Charon had towed a group of 140 riders out PCH from Santa Monica to Pepperdine, and that’s exactly what Nigel de Sota asked. “How do I get in the blog?”

We were right where Piuma starts to kick up, and I said “It’s pretty easy. You kick me out the back like the worn out old shoe that I am, and boom, you’re in.”

Nigel has of course kicked me out the back so many times that he was probably wondering “How many kickings do I have to administer to this old grandpa?” but by then I was off, dashing up the hill on a fool’s errand to get to the top first. Nigel chased.

The first guy who caught me and dropped me I don’t know. But after a while along came Jason Meidhof with two kids, one of whom blew up as they passed me. They caught the leader and made short work of him. The kid who blew, I think his name was Barker, recovered, caught me and dropped me, but then blew up again and so I caught and dropped him. As I passed I offered him some #fakeencouragement as he was pedaling squares.

“C’mon! It’s just around the corner!”

When you are blown, it might as well be a thousand miles away. Squares is squares.

I glanced back and saw Bahati. He was barely pedaling, and catching me so fast that I knew I was cooked. I sprinted hard around the last turn, hoping he wouldn’t catch me before the finish only to realize that the last turn wasn’t. He breezed by and to make it really sting he wasn’t even breathing. Then, triple sting: “Good job,” he said.

When you want to really make it hurt, say “Good job!” as you pass because it means “Good job but not good enough.” At the top of Piuma I dashed off into the brush to pee and relieved myself, I later discovered, in a vigorous patch of poison oak. All I can say is, if you touch poison oak and then you touch your equipment, you are in for a rough patch.

We waited for the rest of the group as this funny burning sensation started to blossom in my shorts, and then we descended to the left-hander at Scheuren. I was ahead and pulled off after making the turn so that the riders who didn’t know the route wouldn’t overshoot it and go all the way to the dead end at the bottom of the steep canyon. D-Mack got his eyes crossed, took the turn too wide, and barely missed plowing into me.

Foxy hit the divots before the turn to avoid hitting D-Mack, ran into the curb and had a bicycle falling off incident. It was a pretty exciting morning.

Back at Giant Cycles in Santa Monica I was looking forward to the pizza, but the 130 locusts who had flipped it at Pepperdine and gotten there a couple hours earlier left nothing but a soggy strip of dead pepperoni. I didn’t complain, though. It tasted bonk good.

Nigel came up to me. “Man,” he said, “I tried to follow you going up Piuma.”

Charon and Rahsaan busted out laughing. “Rahsaan said. “Don’t ever follow Seth,” Rahsaan said. He just goes hard early and blows up and then there’s nothing but pieces all over the road, and if you’re with him you’re blown up, too.”

Nigel shook his head. “I ain’t ever following you again,” he said. “I learned that.” Then he paused. “Don’t put that in the blog.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I won’t.”


END