Business plan

June 30, 2018 § 7 Comments

Here’s the USAC bike racing value proposition:

Day of the week: Saturday/Sunday

Wake up time: 5:00 AM

Departure time: 7:00 AM

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Entry fee: $40.00 (“service fee” if you pre-reg, late fee if you sign up day-of)

Drive time: 2-3 hours on LA freeway weekend traffic

Return time: 3:00/4:00 PM

Gas: $20.00

Lunch: $20.00


For all this you get:

45 minutes of bike racing

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Lifetime achievement and garage sale

June 21, 2018 § 24 Comments

Anyway, FOR SALE: Less than one year old Fuji SL1 frame with e-Tap and new FFWD F3 all carbon clinchers, mostly new Conti 25 mm front/rear with tubes, along with 12 size S jerseys, most of the jerseys are the last two years of Team Lizard Collectors, great condition, a couple of La Grange jerseys, 12 size M bibs (TLC/La Grange/plain black), 3 TLC skinsuits, 3 Wend Wax combo short/bib one-piece size M, 2 long-sleeve TLC jackets, 3 Pearl Izumi tights one of which is old and ratty, 1 pair Giro Empire road lace-ups (white), 1 pair Giro Empire (cross), 1 spare set of new Shimano cleats, 32 pairs of CitSB socks, 1 Giant TCX 2017 (size L) with FFWD disc wheels, SRAM Force,, 4 pairs long-fingered Giro gloves, assorted bike tools (lightly used, you can bet), assorted arm and leg warmers, 3 pairs of shoe covers, 2 rain jackets, one Stage 1 and one Specialized, two vests  (one Rapha, size S, one TLC size M), full light set including Diablo 1300-lumen headlights x 2, ApaceVision rear lights x 2, Cygolite 150 rear x 1, 2 wheel bags, 6 tubes, 6 tires (25 mm, Conti and Vredestein), 3 Wend Wax sets with wax and cleaner, Cask Proton helmet size M, G3 tripod bike stand, 1 gallon of Simple Green, 3 rolls of shop towels, 25 shop rags, 1 Lezyne steel floor pump, assorted water bottles, 5 CO2 cartridges.

Yours for one dollar.

IMG_2859

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I never read your stupid blog

June 16, 2018 § 20 Comments

There is a guy in our community who used to regularly tell me, apropos of nothing, “I don’t read your blog.”

I always applauded his discriminating literary taste, although he did strike me as a person whose lifetime exposure to long sentences and big words was a bit on the thin side, just as I was struck when he recently advised me that a particular (unread?) post here was “garbage.”

It is quite a phenomenon in the South Bay, where hardly anyone reads this lowbrow, badly written blog, yet somehow its contents are known by all as soon as I hit the “publish” button. I am researching how this occurs without resort to the technique known as “reading” and will let you know what I find when O.J. learns the identity of the real killer.

In addition to the aforementioned discriminating reader of the Great Books and Twitter, it is rumored that another presumed assiduous non-reader of this ratty publication copied and posted photos from here onto his Instabrag account. Perhaps he skipped the text and went straight to photos?

As another example of non-readership, I predict it will instantly be known and howled about when I remark on the absurdity of a four-man TTT at districts today reportedly putting about nine minutes on second place and recording the fastest time of the day among all categories by six minutes, when all of the riders on the winning team were over 50, and two were closer to 60.

One sad and plainly unfit rider averaged a measly 421 watts for 53 minutes, good for third place.

Please move along, folks. It is a scientific fact that the older you get, the faster you go. That is why 80% of the field in this year’s Giro was over the age of fifty, and a quarter of the field was over sixty-five.

Non-reading readers can always post comments anonymously, of course.

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Wheelsuckery

June 15, 2018 § 2 Comments

We were all leaning on our bikes in the Flog parking lot, having just completed a breathless loop around the golf course when Goggle said, “Wanky, you’re the biggest wheelsucker in the South Bay.”

This really hurt my feelings. On Lap 1 I had only sucked wheel the whole way until I got dropped.

On Lap 2 I had only sucked the lead-out goat’s wheel, then sucked Goggle’s wheel, then sucked Medium Banana’s wheel, and just as I was about to win the sprunt Ol’ Father Time, who had been sucking my wheel the whole way, dusted me like a mop. I thought there was honor among thieves, er, wheelsucks, but I guess not.

On Lap 3 I sucked Goggle’s wheel until he faded and then sat on Medium Banana the whole way and sneaked around him for the win, only being in the wind for those last few seconds. Except for that I had hardly done any wheelsucking.

The remaining three laps I sat in a lot more and sucked Goggle’s wheel all the way to about 1/4 of the way up La Cuesta, when he shed me pretty good, like a snake leaving behind its worthless old skin. Aside from all that, I hadn’t sucked wheel at all.

Back in the day

“Before I was old I didn’t used to suck wheel hardly at all,” I told Goggle.

“Like, what mythical era was this?”

“Back when I was, you know, 50 or 51. I never sucked wheel then.”

Goggle rolled his eyes. “I rode with you then. You were an inveterate wheelsucker. Less finesse than now, but I sure never saw you from the behind. You’d be stuck to whoever was in front of you like a piece of toilet paper on a lady’s high heel walking out of the shitter.”

“Maybe I did suck wheel once or twice, but when I was in my 40’s I was always on the front.”

Goggle hadn’t started riding a bike back then because he was only four, so he didn’t say anything but he looked pretty skeptical, and with good cause. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. I was a pretty awful wheelsuck, and always had been. The only times I ever found the front were either by mistake or because I made the wrong move at the wrong time or I had quit or flatted or all of the above.

Wheelsucking for fun and profit

Of course my proclivity to hide has never correlated with success, but there aren’t any riders who’ve ever done well in the sport at the elite level who haven’t mastered the art of hiding for as long as possible. The strongest rider never wins, it’s always the smartest strong rider, or the strongest smart rider, and “smart” almost always means hiding until you absolutely can’t any more.

As G3 once told me after he had dropped me going up to the Domes, “This, Wanky, is a sport of conservation.” Apparently I hadn’t properly conserved.

The more I thought about it, the really good riders suck wheel all the suckin’ time. Destroyer is a fuggin’ ninja wheelsuck, until he isn’t and you are by yourself, going backwards as he vanishes on the horizon. Strava Jr. sucks wheel like a baby on a bottle until it’s Go Time, and then he’s usually alone. Same for G$. Even Daniel Holloway generally hides and hides and hides so that you forget he’s there, then suddenly he crosses the line first. Whazzup with thaaaat?

Eddy Merckx? He had a whole team of disposables who he would burn through until the time was ripe to hit the jets. Salbutafroome? A veritable wheel leech except for those last few kilometers, which, I’m told, are when it matters. Lance Drugstrong? Never hit the wind if he didn’t have to, and he made sure he hardly ever had to.

And please don’t tell me about Jacky Durand or those other epic conquerors who soloed from Kilometer 1. They’re the exception that proves the effectiveness of good pharmaceuticals, and they are outliers. Most of the time if you want to survive among your peers you had better scurry like a rat to the fattest, widest wheel you can find.

Oh, the shame of it all

Yet, it is shameful to cower and hide, abusing the person in front of you for his or her girth and superior wattage, only to dump him later or simply to tag along like a tick stuck in a damp, awkward crack, free riding the whole dang way. There is something noble about being the dumb loser who pushes the wind endlessly only to get swarmed at the end, the tough rider who shoulders the load while others make themselves tiny at the back.

“Go to the front!” we used to say in the South Bay, something that we said a lot more often than we did, except perhaps for Head Down James.

In fact, Destroyer once told me I was ruining an entire generation of racers by telling them to go to the front. “If you want to win, pounding the front is the last place you should be,” he said. “Towards the front, for sure, but grinding on the front? Dude, that’s how you lose races.”

“Yeah,” I’d say, “but we aren’t racing.”

“Wanky,” he said with a fatherly smile even though he was ten years younger, “you race like you train.”

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How do I sprint?

June 13, 2018 § 9 Comments

At the world famous Telo training race every Tuesday night, there is huge variety with the same outcome. The variety lies in the the various breakaways that get established, the antics of the riders careening through the turns as they avoid steel plates, loose gravel, orange warning cones, oncoming traffic, and the wobbly person ahead of them, all things that seem like they might lead to a different outcome but almost never do.

The outcome is like this: Frexit, EA Sports, Inc., or Hair win the sprint.

Every blue moon or so it turns out otherwise, like last week when Medium Banana ganged up with Team Lizard Collectors and stuck it to The Man, but the exception proves the rule: You can’t sprint, you ain’t hardly ever gonna win.

That’s what happened this week, too. EA Sports, Inc. banged open the door about three or four laps in, waltzed away with Medium Banana, was joined by Surfer and Ivan the Terrible, put 40 seconds on the field, cat-and-moused towards the end, then led it out and won by a gazillion bike lengths.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Hair, who was still recovering from bubonic plague, kicked it hard from the front out of the last turn and booted Sockman out the back with the ease of a FedEx dude dumping a clunky box off at the curb. He finished so far ahead he looked like Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes.

After the race one of guys who got pureed asked Hair, who should know, “How do you sprint?”

Hair shrugged. “It’s pretty simple,” he said. “Pick good parents.”

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Dogpile

June 5, 2018 § 7 Comments

It is very hard to beat EA Sports, Inc. in a bicycle race. There are a lot of reasons for this, but here are the main ones:

  1. Ninja pack awareness and handling.
  2. Knows how to hurt.
  3. 1500 watts on the flop.

At today’s Telo #fakerace, we had about twenty-five members of Team Lizard Collectors and a smattering of other riders. As we did the first courtesy lap I advised my fellow collectors that “We need to attack early and often, and sit the fuck up if EA Sports, Inc. is with you, or bridges, because we couldn’t generate 1500 sprint watts if we pooled the output of our five fastest lizards.”

The attacks came early and often, and at ten minutes in I shouted at Pornstache to “Hit it!”

He didn’t really know what I meant, or he didn’t think I was talking to him, or he thought it was another diabolical Wanky trick to get him to expend a bunch of energy to my sole benefit, but after the fourth yell, he stood up and went.

Pornstache has the acceleration of a fully loaded bus going up a steep grade, but once he hits a certain speed he launches like an exploding zit, and it happened into the headwind. Everyone was winded from the wind except for Medium Banana, who hopped on.

The Hun was dawdling at the front; he’s one of the strongest lizard collectors we have. “Go, Hun!” I shouted, and while everyone gasped, the Hun jumped, caught on and pedaled away.

EA Sports, Inc. saw the gap, and saw it grow. Magically, all 300 lizard collectors sat up. No one chased. Were we witnessing the mythical #fakerace unicorn … of … team tactics?

The handful of nonaligned riders, including Greensox, tried to make common cause, but Team Lizard Collectors marked every move, chased every attack, and interfered with every organized chase. I felt kind of bad, riding like a complete wanking clogstacle until I reflected that I am in fact just that, and even more importantly, Team Lizard Collectors was finally going to pull off the unbelievable: A #fakerace win through teamwork, wits, and the Jack from Illinois (not his real name) technique of “work together.”

Despite a dozen or so 1,000-watt efforts, EA Sports, Inc., finally resigned himself to the field sprint. I had my post-race apology well burnished by the time the race ended and the three-man break finished with a solid 20-second gap on the field: “Hey, buddy, sorry to ride like a worthless wheelsucking POS clogstacle, but it’s about time that Team Lizard Collectors won a Telo #fakerace. We need this for our team.”

I figured he’d say something like, “Whatever, dude,” but instead what he said was “Uh, I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think what?” I said, having delivered my speech perfectly.

“I don’t think you guys won.”

“We didn’t?”

“No, man, Medium Banana dusted your two guys in the sprint like a housewife working a rugbeater.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I’m not.”

I looked over at Medium Banana, who had the look on his face of, what’s that called? A winner.

END

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Racer development

May 30, 2018 § 2 Comments

Team Lizard Collectors was established to promote sanctioned amateur bike racing. Since 2009, the club continues to churn out new racers, many of whom continue with the sport, making it an integral part of their lives. I’m not saying that’s a good thing …

At the same time, the racing topography gets tougher and tougher as fewer racers attend fewer events. If you belong to the generation of racers who remembers when Cat 4 events were full, thousands of people spectated at local events, and “master” meant a character in the Karate Kid, and if you haven’t completely given up on the idea that bike racing really is a net positive, here is one thing that might help your club: Excitement.

Not an oxymoron

I know it sounds absurd to suggest that anything related to bike racing is exciting, but that’s your cynic gene talking. Remember back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you did your first bike race? Remember the clenched gut? The puckered rectum? The three toilet trips before leaving the house and the four more visits to the port-o-potty once on site?

Remember your legs quivering on the line? Remember your life flashing before your eyes as the ref read the instructions?

Remember the thundering rush of adrenaline when the whistle blew, and your ears roared with the heaving, clacking, whirring sound of riders launching off the line?

Of course you don’t, you can barely remember how to tie your shoes, that’s why you wear sandals. But all those things once happened, I promise, and they were exciting as hell.

Bike racing can be boring to watch when put in the hands of the appropriately brain-dead announcers (“Here they come again …”), but for the beginning participant it is like the birth of a galaxy, and you’re the center of it.

Enter the lizard

Here at Team Lizard Collectors we are fortunate to have numerous members who like to race their bikes. But among this collection of nutjobs, one group stands out: The tent elves. These are the people who do the hard work making our team tent magically rise every race, sprouting all kinds of things necessary for the care and maintenance of #profamateur bodies and #supertender egos.

Among our elves, none stands out more than Chief Elf.

Chief Elf is actually not very elfin, towering over everyone at 6’3 or so and riding a bicycle big enough to make waves in a circus, but he is very elf-like in that he goes about the business of getting TLC ready on race day in a quiet, unassuming way. He shows up before the sun rises, quietly puts on his loudest assortment of AC-DC noise, puts up the Team Lizard Collectors tent, plants the TLC sponsor flags, hangs the TLC sponsor banners, sets up the TLC lizard recliner chairs, stocks the table with food and drink, sets up the rollers and the trainers, gets the number spray ready, and makes sure that when the first bleary-eyed racer staggers to the venue that he/she is greeted with comfort, camaraderie, and excitement.

Because Chief Elf really is excited about the race, and about your race, not mention about his. Chief Elf is of course buried six feet deep in #profamateur racing delusions, so he fits right in with the rest of us. He’s ready to talk about stragety, about the course, about lessons learned, and about what you might need to make sure your loins are sufficiently girded before battle.

Some say he is gentle and soothing like sandpaper, others that he is deft and unnoticed like shaving your privates with the shard from a broken bottle, but all agree that it is his enthusiasm and commitment to the cause that make the big tent of TLC a truly Big Tent, where everyone’s welcome regardless of speed or of creed.

Self-test

If your race-day club set-up involves a pair of brokedick, sad sack schmoes standing around the car trying to borrow a couple of safety pins, that might be a message about the excitement of racing you really don’t want to convey. The message you’re looking for is wild-eyed, enthusiastic, completely delusional BIKERACER NUTJOB.

You may be fifty, but if you race hard enough and train hard enough you are gonna make the Tour next year or at least get your Cat 4 upgrade, and even if you don’t, you will have a ton of fun trying.

Fun and excitement. They work.

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