November 14, 2016 § 18 Comments
November 13 would be deep into the off season, if there were an off season in SoCal, which there isn’t.
Thanks to marginal gains, old people with tons of time, global warming, Thorfinn Sassquatch, and lots of complete all-carbon that is 100% pure carbon, there are so many bikers rolling around this time of year who are race-fit that it’s scary.
Of course everyone, almost, pays lip service to the off season, but for the most part those are people who are smart enough not to have racing licenses. The only racer who told me on a particularly brutal off season seal clubbing, a 17-year-old kid, that there was no need to do a hard effort because it was the “off season,” got a serious talking to. More about Bader Aqil later.
Anyway, hats off to Jeff Prinz and his wife, who recently bought the CBR race series and got things going with three kick-butt, off-season upgrade races.
Yesterday was the second race, and over 250 racers showed up, paid entry fees, and battled for points and … cash. Yes, cash. There was $2,500.00 in cash primes on offer for off-fucking-season upgrade races, and the racers swarmed like bees to honey or pigs to, uh, mud.
Priscilla Calderon drove home with $300 in cash. Kristie Fox claimed another $200 and her first ever win. Look for her to smash the fields next year, her second year as a bike racer. Shaun Bagley and his assassin-in-crime from Ventura hauled home another $500 or so. And in what I think was a historic first in the HISTORY OF BIKE RACING, a Cat 4 got $100 in cash primes in a Cat 4 race.
I don’t know what it was like when you were a Cat 4, but these racers, who are by definition the future of the sport, typically get the worst treatment of any category. So it was amazing to watch beginning racers get rewarded with gas money, lunch money, and most importantly, this line that they could take home to their boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands when asked “How’d the race go?”
Which brings me to my Monday point.
I can’t fix the problems with bike racing. They are complex and they go deep. I can’t fix the problems with misogyny and discrimination in bike racing. They are complex and they go deep.
But I can tell you this, after a few hundred bike races since 1984: Bike racers like money and will race for it. And I can tell you something else: If you put money into the hands of the racers–not just the same five guys and gals who win every week–you will get more people to show up. In tune with a great vibe at this past weekend’s race, there were numerous vendors including Richard Hiraga’s GQ6, Augie Ortega and JL Velo, Bike Shift mobile bike repair, and several others.
So far in 2016 I’ve donated $20,000.00 in cash to CBR, Vlees Huis, Adrenaline Promotions, and Carlsbad GP. The only condition has been that the money be given out as primes and that it be given directly to bike racers. It’s not a lot of money … but it is for me, and when doled out in $50 or $100 increments, it is significant for the racers who take the time to show up and race. Imagine what bike racing in SoCal will be like when there is $200,000 on offer every season in cash primes.
Jeff Prinz has put something in place now that focuses on what has to happen if bike racing is going to survive:
- A safe, convenient, reasonably-priced race.
- A fun environment where people are happy to show up.
- The possibility that everyone can go home with cash.
I know that there are other problems with the sport, but I also know I can’t fix them. What is certain is that without some financial incentive to race, cycling will continue to dwindle–last year there was a 30% drop in race entries, a cratering that no normal business could withstand. Without riders showing up, promoters won’t promote. And without sanctioned racing, the sport will be a shell of grand fondues, Strava fantasy competitions, and group rides where everyone’s a winner except they’re not.
There’s one more race on the calendar for 2016, on December 11. There will be the standard $2,500.00 in cash primes on offer for those who show up. Hope you can make it, and if you can’t, feel free to bitch and complain, just make sure you show up when the “real” race season gets started in January!
Oh, and remember Bader Aqil, the kid who told me it was time to “rest his legs” and “not go hard”?
Well, he won two primes, won the field sprint, and did three entire races, including his first Cat2/3.
So maybe it’s not quite the off-season … yet.
October 17, 2016 § 12 Comments
If you haven’t noticed, you will soon: The iconic grass roots race series affectionately known as “CBR” or “California Bicycle Racing” or “Pain in USA Cycling’s Ass” is being run by Jeff Prinz.
That’s right, and you heard it here second if you already noticed Jeff’s name on the latest CBR race flyers. Chris Lotts is no longer the promoter for CBR.
When you look up the word “controversial” in the dictionary, there’s a long entry, about twenty lines long, and at the end it says, “for a complete and thorough definition of the word in all its permutations, see ‘Christopher Lotts.'”
Some of Chris’s dust-ups were epic beyond epic, like the time he took on the entirety of women’s racing, or the time he got into a years-long battle with the Schroeder Iron/BBI riders, or the civil war that erupted when he lost control of the Tuesday racing in Eldorado Park. If you wanted to get into hand-to-hand combat, all you had to do was send him an email or, better yet, a Facebook message giving him advice about how to run his races. Add in a dash of complaining about prize money or the start time for your event and you would quickly upgrade from civil war to nuclear.
But Chris’s most epic act was the slow, drawn-out, 20-year consistent promotion of local bike races right here in our backyard. Like him or hate him, and I always liked him, Chris could be counted on to deliver what he promised, when he promised it, at the agreed-upon price. And to do that he had to fight USA Cycling, the local SCNCA organization supposedly dedicated to helping promoters, the disarray of local bike clubs, the petty bullshit of butt-hurt racers, the risk of bad weather wiping out an entire day’s event, and That Which Defines Every Bike Racer Who Has Ever Lived, i.e. “Gimme Something For Nothing.”
Chris could have made things easier, and he could have made his races more successful, but then he would have had to have been a different person, and a different person wouldn’t have persevered through thick and thin for the better part of twenty years to put on hundreds of fast, fun, local races. As people quickly found when dealing with Chris, save your advice for when you’re the one whose ass is on the line.
Whatever else Chris was, he wasn’t a philanthropist. His races had to turn a buck, and this past year not only revealed the writing on the wall, it was revealed in ten-foot, blood-red letters: Road racing in Southern California is on life support and the ICU nurses are out doing shots and meth in the alley behind the hospital.
SCNCA had a 30 percent drop in race entries for 2016. For any legitimate business, you’d fire the CEO and everyone else, you’d board up the storefront, sell the inventory, and get into a new line of work. It’s easy to point the finger, but it proves what Chris has said for decades. Our organizing body is killing the sport, and the people in charge of developing new racers and helping promoters have failed, because in tandem with the death-spiral of race entries we are also losing races on the calendar.
And what promoter would want to continue in this environment?
Answer: An experienced optimist with a new plan. Folks, I give you Jeff Prinz. He has his work cut out for him, but if yesterday’s CBR Upgrade Races are any indication, there’s life in the ol’ gal yet. He drew 200 entrants and has plans for two more races before year’s end. Not having any of Chris’s baggage, and being open to new approaches, being a proven relationship builder and an experienced bike racer who understands what cyclists want out of an event, Jeff is taking on a huge task but he’s taking it on with the tools to succeed.
I for one plan to support him 100% in his efforts with time, resources, and cash on the barrelhead. I hope you will make the “effort” to make sure he succeeds, if only because, you know, if you’re going to call yourself a bike racer, you really do have to actually race your bike.
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September 23, 2016 § 19 Comments
The most fertile or febrile part of your year is here. It’s the time when you can do other things than cycle. You can explore new activities and develop new skills, strengthen your weaknesses and strengthen your strengthiness. You can give your legs, and most importantly, your feeble mind a rest. You can relax a little bit and even try out sports that you’ve always been a bit interested in but have never had the time or energy to squeeze in between your 3-a-day interval workouts.
You can do all of that and more. Don’t.
Specifically, don’t do the following:
- Tell me about how you’ve started running. Running is for runners. You are an old worn out shoe of a fake bike racer doper who dribbles pee at night. Running will improve none of that and only hurt your knee. Plus, you will never be a runner. You are a jogger. If you can say, “I’ve taken up jogging in the off season!” with a straight face, okay, go ahead.
- Post gym selfies. The gym is a place where insane cycling delusions go to get pumped up on steroids. Lifting weights only improves your ability to lift weights. Doing squats only helps you squat down better with a chest of drawers on your back. You are not a lifter, you are a weight-obsessed worn out old shoe and lifting even a carton of milk gains useless muscles and hints to your S/O that you might be able to do something useful around the house. Strava Jr. tosses his water bottles, cell phone, and socks at the base of the Switchbacks and whips you like a pissed off wench in a dominatrix show, and he ain’t lifting no weights.
- Sign up for yoga. Yoga will help you live a better more fulfilling life, ergo it’s stupid as fuck. Mindfulness is the enemy of the crafty, shrewd, back-stabbing instincts that will allow you dominate the 55+ mid-pack position in every crit finish. And shut up yesterday about flexibility. You should look the same way off the bike as on: hunched, bowbacked, goofy-kneed, crany-necked, and as unsteady on your pegs as a drunken sailor. The more permanently hunched you are in real life, the more aero when they pry apart your arms and legs to set you on the bike.
- Hit the pool. You know how many people drowned in pools between 2004 and 2014? 3,536. You know how many people drowned on bikes since the beginning of time? One. And it was a triathlete (of course) who got the order mixed up and biked off into the ocean at Kona.
- Base miles. The only thing you had better be doing with the word “base” in it is “freebase.” Bike miles are for hammering. If you don’t hurt, why are you even alive? Rest when you’re dead.
- Training camp. If your clubteam has a training camp, change clubteams. Training camp implies a) You haven’t been training and b) You think roasting marshmallows over a burning tire and crapping in a trench is fun. If a), get the hell out of the yoga gym pool, slap it in the big dog and go knock out six consecutive 700-mile weeks that are heavy on sprints, 20-minute threshold efforts, 1-hour time trials, standing starts, and hill repeats. If b), sell your bike and become a scoutmaster.
- Cyclocross. Cylocross will leave you exhausted, injured, slow, and in the possession of a bike that’s so bad for riding you have to carry it. The only thing ‘cross has going for it is that it’s fun, and nothing ruins a road season, a road racing mentality, or life in general as thoroughly as fun.
- Group rides. These will wreck your season because you will get to know, like, and appreciate your clubteam mates. Nothing sucks away your ability to lie, cheat, betray and crush a person like friendship and empathy. The only acceptable group rides are ones you advertise as “no drop, beginners welcome” and begin at 32 mph into a stiff headwind.
That’s all for now. Gotta go do some intervals. It’s already Sepfuckingtember.
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August 27, 2016 § 4 Comments
I haven’t done Eldo in several years because it’s too far away in Los Angeles County miles. A Los Angeles County mile is unrelated to the standard English measurement of 5,280 feet. An LAC mile is measured not in distance but by the hour of the day.
For example, a Texas Panhandle Mile measured between Pampa and Canadian (this unit is kind of like West Texas Intermediate Crude, the world yardstick for oil), which is also 5,280 feet (the mile, not the oil), takes roughly one minute if you are traveling 60 miles per hour. There is some math here but I can’t explain it. Ask your father.
However, the same “mile” in Los Angeles County, although theoretically the same distance as a Texas Panhandle mile, changes drastically based on the hour of the day. An LA County mile between Palos Verdes and Long Beach on Tuesday around 5:00 PM has a time value of about 10 minutes rather than one.
I can’t explain that math either but I can explain this: I haven’t done Eldo in Long Beach in years because even though it’s only 20 minutes away measured in standard Texas Panhandle miles, it take about 300 years in LA County miles. Plus, here in the South Bay every Tuesday at exactly the same time we have the Telo crit which, I’m real sorry to inform you, is a lot fucking harder than Eldo. You can laugh all you want, but that just means you’ve never done both.
Eldo has gone through some changes in ownership, but what has continued without interruption is a first-rate bike race that stretches back decades. The difference in the new management and the old management is that unlike old management, there’s no screaming and cursing and hollering and berating, and more importantly it’s a USAC-sanctioned race where you can get upgrade points and huge bragging rights, and most importantly it attracts some of the best crit racers in SoCal like Charon Smith and Dave Koesel, and most-most importantly it has categories for Cat 4’s who can have their own forum for massive braggage and victory salutage and Facebag postage. Cf. Ivan Fernandez.
But most-most-most importantly, the Eldo Under New Management has, for the last three years, provided a forum for the development of junior bike racers, for which we have two people to thank.
One of them is Gil Dodson, a very old marine who is old enough to be your grandfather’s grandfather. He’s so old that when he takes off his helmet you wonder if he remembers the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But then he puts his helmet back on and drops about half the riders who are one-fifth of his age and you STFU. Gil’s foxhole buddy has been Steve Hegg, gold and silver medalist at the 1984 Olympics and current holder of the Genuinely Nicest Guy in Long Beach Award.
Gil has poured money into Eldo by paying for every single junior rider’s entry fee for three years and ending each season with a free bike frame giveaway to the junior at the top of the standings. It’s been a huge investment and it has paid huge dividends. Eldo provides the only regular venue for young riders to compete, earn upgrade points, and sharpen their skills before being tossed into the shark pit. Thanks to Gil, or rather no thanks to Gil, we now have a crop of young riders who show up at other group rides and smash their elders with glee.
The other person who has made Eldo a success is David Wehrly. Like Gil, he has provided significant financial support, without which the race simply couldn’t continue. Unlike Gil, Dave is so far in the background that you might think he’s with the Israel cyber ops NSO Group. But like all of the good works that David does, although he himself may be deep cover, the results and the beneficiaries are out in the open for all to see.
I’d better stop here. This is starting to sound way too happy.
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August 10, 2016 § 10 Comments
The IOC announced this morning that after conducting a total of over 15,000 doping tests leading up to and during the first week of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the first athlete to fail a doping test was a woman track cyclist from Team USA, whose name is being withheld pending confirmation of her B sample.
“It’s incredibly disappointing,” said Slovic Bracentz, IOC spokesman for doping protocols, the official liaison between the game’s organizers and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which conducts the tests. “We’ve tested thousands and thousands of samples, and for us even one failed test is a black mark. We hope it’s the last one.”
The athlete spoke on condition of anonymity pending testing of the B sample. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “I did everything right. There’s no way I failed that test. The B sample will absolutely vindicate me and I can put this nightmare behind me.”
According to confidential sources who contacted CitSB via email late last night, the athlete who failed the test was seen shopping in a pharmacy nearby the Olympic village the night before the test. “She knew she was in trouble,” said the source, “and was trying to find doping products that would allow her to pass the test. She’d obviously been tipped off that she was going to be tested and was terrified that they wouldn’t find anything. Whatever she took, it was too late to show up in her urine. When they analyzed her sample she was clean as a whistle. Her only hope now is the B sample.”
IOC President Thomas Bach immediately took to Twitter to defend the integrity of the Games. “One failed test does not a clean Olympics make,” he tweeted, adding “IOC testing will always catch the cheats.”
Given the thorough testing before and during the Games, analysts are scratching their heads how the clean athlete made it through, especially in a drug-riddled event such as track cycling. “We don’t know how she could have failed the test. Clean athletes never make it out of regional competitions. We’re that rigorous.”
The athlete agreed. “The B sample will vindicate me. I’ve taken every drug offered by the team, the coaches, even that bald guy in the gym with the ball-bearing testicles. There’s no way my sample was drug-free. No way.”
Movement for Credible Cycling immediately applauded the IOC’s announcement in a press release. “People have said for years that you can’t catch the clean riders, but this shows you can. Each one of these cheats takes away from the hard-purchased results of young men and women who dedicate their entire lives to finding the right pharmacological enhancements that will allow them to compete with Russia. We support lifetime bans for athletes caught competing clean.”
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August 3, 2016 § 25 Comments
Or “PEE” as I like to call it.
A couple of months ago I ordered the new SRAM electric wireless shifter thingies from my ace mechanic, Boozy P. One day he called. “Yo, Wanky, you still want that stuff?”
“Bring it,” I said. “It’s about time for me to crack the top 10 out at Telo, and what’s a couple grand if it guarantees me a placing or two?”
A week later there was a family car crisis which led to the purchase of a Chevy Volt. It was the most awesome car in the world for seven days, but after one full week of flawlessness it quit working and it’s been in the shop ever since. “Part’s on back order,” Service Dude said.
That was July 18.
So I called Boozy P. “Dude,” I said, “I bought a new broken Chevy Volt and we have some financial issues and I have to choose between the SRAM electrothingies or food.”
He waited, wondering what the problem was. “Yeah?”
“So I’m going to have to pass on that stuff I ordered unless it puts you in a bind, in which case I’ll take it and lose that last 35 pounds.”
“Nah,” he said, “I can return it; actually I got a great deal and several people have been asking about it. No worries.”
Shortly thereafter I got 2nd or 3rd in the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016, which is the best I’ve ever done there in eight years but who’s counting? About that time Boozy P. stopped answering my phone calls and texts which was disturbing because he’s super responsive. Unbeknownst to me he had taken a five-day trip to the Sierras, going up to 12,000 feet with nothing but beer to sustain him.
I had no idea he’d gone Jeremiah Johnson on me. I thought he was mad because I’d crawfished on the PEE or perhaps somehow because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?
I interrupted Manslaughter’s vacation in Hawai’i to see if he could intervene. “Boozy P. isn’t mad,” Manslaughter assured me. “He’s never mad. Take a Xanax.”
Then I called EA Sports, Inc., who was excited to hear from me but not that excited. “Dude, it’s 2:00 AM and you woke up the whole family. What’s up?” I told him the sad story about how I’d crawfished on the PEE and Boozy was not taking my calls or texts because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?
EA Sports, Inc. advised me to get some sleep. “Boozy probably dropped his phone in the toilet. He’ll get back to you once he gets a new one.”
Finally I called Dawg. “Don’t ever call me at 3:00 AM again,” he said. “Even if you’re in jail. Especially if you’re in jail.” He hung up and I didn’t even get a chance to tell him about how I’d crawfished on the PEE and how maybe Boozy wasn’t taking my calls or texts because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?
After I’d given up all hope, Boozy P. returned from the Sierras. “Yo, Wanky,” he said. “I saw you called me 473 times and left a thousand text messages. What’s up?”
I went over to the shop and apologized for crawfishing and for the 2nd or 3rd Place Controversy (my best Telo finish ever, btw). “No worries,” he said. “You still want the SRAM wireless? I was going to take it back today.”
I thought about the Chevy Volt which was still in the shop at Martin Chevrolet and how the part was on back order indefinitely although they’d promised to speak with the subcontractor factory in Vietnam to find out when the part might be manufactured and how Mrs. WM was going to kill me when she found out I’d bought something that I couldn’t even explain what it was or what it did. That’s when I looked at the SRAM electrothingy box.
“You know,” I said, “my PEE has been grossly exceeding my dedication since I swapped a SunTour derailleur, Sugino cranks, and Dia-Compe brakes for Campy Super Record back in 1984. And I can’t possibly afford it but that box is so sweet so yeah, put that shit on.”
For all you tech heads out there, the first key performance difference between SRAM electrothingy and Dura-Ace mechanical is overwhelming, dominating, extraordinary beyond words: The second you post a picture of the cool boxes on Facegag, it breaks your fuggin’ timeline.
If you’ve always been in the running for awesome Facebag posts but have never been able to crack the podium, SRAM electro is the real deal. You gain, on average, 150 extra likes, 50-ish smiley faces, and envious posts from Ol’ Grizzles that don’t even mention guns or how our great nation was built on easy access to suicide and firearm accidents in the home.
The SRAM electro interfaces incredibly well with FB and is easily uploaded to your timeline, where it simply outperforms any other PEE, even wheelsets that are full carbon with extra carbon and photos of Charon. I’ll admit that it’s a costly Facebag upgrade but it’s worth it for the hour or two that you eclipse all of the stories about Trump until he beats up another squalling infant, calls the mother of a dead soldier a fat cow, or urinates on a TV interviewer.
When I actually got to ride the new electrothingy stuff, it was better than watching the ads in my timeline that said “Batshit Crazy Republicans So Fucking Terrified of Trump That We’re Voting for Hillary.”
Less importantly, I also got to use the electrothingies while actually riding, and got to test the PEE out at Telo last night, which kind of broke the rule of “Never try new stuff out for the first time on race day.” After 50 minutes of an amazingly brutal race, Headdown James attacked for the 25th time into the wind after Dawg had brought the break to within view. Everyone was screaming friendly advice to me.
“Pull through, you bastard!”
“You wheelsucking piece of shit!”
“Damn you, Wanky, you asshole, pull through!”
However, in addition to being really tired I am a really bad person, so I hunkered down until Headdown James launched. He is really tiny and accelerates like a gnat but I managed to latch on. He glanced back and saw that it was Sir Deadweight. He knew better than to flick his elbow, and not just because Heavy D., who was up the road in the break, had admonished me the week before.
“What is wrong with you, you nut?” he had asked.
“What do you mean?” I fake answered.
“You chased me down ten times during the race!”
“I did?” I fake said.
“Hell yes, you did. Every time I looked back you were driving the front with ten guys on your wheel!”
“Really?” I fake said. “I thought I was bridging,” I fake excusified.
“You were, with everyone else. Please don’t do that next week. It’s bad racing and bad etiquette. I’m your teammate, dude.”
“I won’t,” I fake promised. Heavy D. didn’t know that I love nothing more than chasing teammates. It’s not out of hostility, it’s because I like them and want to BE with them and if they’re up the road the only way I can be with them is to chase.
However, with my new PEE I had sworn not to chase and I didn’t. Headdown James rode like a demon and got us to the break. I was so tired and happy to see my friends that I cried. Heavy D. had been monitoring the situation and knew that I hadn’t dragged up the field. “Good work, Wanky,” he said. “For once.”
Out of the six-man break I put in an amazing effort and convincingly beat everyone in the chase group for an impressive 6th, which was three or four placings less than the 2nd or 3rd I’d gotten the week before in the Great Controversy when I was using the D/A mechanical.
“How’d you like it?” asked Boozy P. after the race, who had gotten second and scorched me on a bike and components that had, frankly, zero Facegag performance edge.
“Its Facebag game is strong,” I said. “But its on-the-road performance hasn’t translated into a Wanky training crit victory yet.” I watched as Emily pulled on the winner’s tunic, an awesome StageOne production given to the women’s weekly winner at Telo.
“Yeah,” he said. “Maybe you need some new wheels?”
My stomach rumbled as I thought about facing the next couple of weeks eating nothing but water washed down with H20. “You’re right.”
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August 1, 2016 § 17 Comments
The Telo training crit has been around for decades. It’s an informal gathering of riders that, like hundreds of similar events across the country, takes place on Tuesday when cyclists get together to test their legs against riders. Why is Tuesday such a common day for a training crit? Because we rest on Monday!
These informal gatherings come and go; there’s no promoter and no organization–sometimes the rides fade away (as Telo did two years ago), and sometimes they reform. Earlier this year, StageOne Sports came up with a winner’s jersey that was awarded each week to the first-place finisher. Since there aren’t any refs and it’s an unorganized ride, it’s all done on an honor system … which mostly works!
Telo is without question the hardest Tuesday training crit in California; nothing else even comes close and it’s all thanks to the battering 20-mph head/crosswind that springs up every afternoon and blows into your face for half of each and every lap. Where other training rides have big groups (think Eldo or NPR or MAMO) that allow any reasonably fit cyclist to sit in, Telo allows no such luxury. Large fields are halved after a few laps and as the season wears on Telo always ends in a small one, two, or three-man breakaway.
The ride is so bitter and brutal that most participants do it only a handful of times a year, even though it runs every week from the spring to the fall time change. I’ve skipped it for years at a stretch.
The only bad part about the weekly winner’s jersey is that the winner is always a man. Because it’s not a sanctioned race or event there are no categories. You show up, assume the risk, and ride. And because men are lumped with women, no woman has finished first.
That’s when StageOne donated design services and we got together to make a winner’s jersey for the women. Telo is so tough that the women who come out and do it should have the chance of pulling on a victory tunic. Here’s what StageOne came up with. It’s a beaut!
The jerseys arrive today, Monday, August 1, and the first winning woman will get to wear her gloriously awesomely beautifully comfortably designed tunic after the Tuesday, August 2 ride. If you’re a woman and you’ve avoided Telo for whatever reason, henceforth it won’t be because there isn’t a jersey for you!
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