August 27, 2015 § 44 Comments
When I decided to contribute some cash primes to our backyard CBR crit, I figured that the first week I’d donate to the P123 men’s race and the master’s 40+ category, and then the following weekend I’d donate to the P123 men’s race and the P123 women’s race. It made sense to donate equal amounts to the men’s and women’s races because I’m an old school feminist.
But everyone didn’t see it that way. A few people suggested to me, privately of course, that it was silly to give equal amounts to men and women. “Women won’t show up, you’ll see.”
A variation on this theme was, “Prizes should be awarded in proportion to participation. The men’s field will have 120 racers and the women’s field, if you’re lucky, forty. Prizes should reflect that.”
This is the way prizes are apportioned throughout cycling. ‘Cross Vegas puts up half the prize money for women that it does for men.
Aside from the participation “issue,” people — almost always men — will tell you that women’s racing is boring, that it’s slower, that it’s less tactical, less exciting, less EVERYTHING than men’s racing. This attitude is entrenched on the pro level and it is a given on the amateur level, where women are lucky to have a category in many races. And since it’s so “less” everything, the implication is that it deserves less money.
I’ve often wondered how people would react if you substituted the word “women” for the words “African-American” or “Hispanics.”
My take on women racing is different. Women deserve the same opportunity as men to compete regardless of the numbers who show up. This is such a basic principle that if you are a university and you don’t offer equal opportunity in athletic dollars to women pursuant to Title IX, which was passed in 1972, you will lose all of your federal funding and essentially be forced to close up shop. Universities long ago dispensed with the canard that women don’t want to compete in sports and focused on doing the one thing that matters most in increasing women’s participation: Funding.
Naturally, as the funding ballooned, so did participation at the college level of women athletes across virtually every sport. In other words, you can’t use participation to justify low funding because it’s the funding that holds back the participation. It would be like going to a country where women don’t receive an education and denying them funding for schools because they don’t go to the school. This is the kind of circular reasoning at which cycling excels, not limited to women’s racing.
Cycling hasn’t yet caught up with August 26, 1920, when U.S. women got the right to vote, so of course cycling still thinks that participation can be addressed without providing equal opportunity. They are wrong. One elite woman racer told me that when she sees a flyer offering half the men’s purse to the pro women, she crosses that event off her list. Her list must be covered in black marks.
Truly equal opportunity means that funding isn’t contingent on equal participation. If there is $1,000 in cash primes on offer and only four women show up, the small turnout doesn’t diminish the opportunity or mean that the people who raced got more than they deserved or justify excluding equal prizes from future races. To the contrary, it emphasizes that people who make the effort to race are treated the same regardless of gender.
As Title IX proved, over time equal opportunity in terms of funding means that participation will grow exponentially. It will be nice when cycling graduates to the early 20th Century, but even better when it reaches the modern era of 1972.
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August 25, 2015 § 9 Comments
We used to call him “Prez.” Or “Frankendave.” Or “Wanker.” Or just plain “Get the fuck away from me for fuck’s sake!”
But not any more.
After his stellar, superhuman performance at the CBR Crit and Fake Wanky Monopoly Money Primefest, our very own South Bay bomber from Puerto Rico redefined human performance on a bike.
Henceforth he shall always be referred to simply as “Leadout.”
It all started like it always does. When Leadout asked his team the race plan, they gave the usual answer: “Don’t get near me or I’ll fucking kill you.”
“Hang out at the back until one to go, then hang out there for two more laps.”
“Who are you and why are you wearing our team kit?”
But Leadout wasn’t deterred because he never is. It was late August, when most racers, having begun in January, had already hung it up for the year, but not Leadout. He was peaking for the last two parking lot crits of the year and he was going to deliver Team Boss, the fastest human in America not seated in an airplane, to victory.
Here is the video of this crushing, devastating performance by Leadout which gifted Team Boss with the win. Since it is one of the most complex and amazing sprint performances in cycling history, it requires detailed narration. The genius of Leadout isn’t always clear without a roadmap.
00:18 Terrible music coming into Turn 4 with one lap to go. Red Socks is the first designated man in Team Boss’s leadout train.
00:22 Scrum tightens into and out of Turn 4. Everyone wants to be near the front but not on it. Red Socks begins to assume the position.
00:23 Leadout is on the left of your screen, squeezed between bright green bike on the right and black kit on the left. Overlapped wheels don’t scare Leadout. Leadout’s teammate Orange Bike, on right of green bike, is the No. 2 designated pilot fish in Team Boss’s leadout train.
00:27 Still kind of scrum-ish as the sharp end of the peloton approaches the start/finish and the bell signals one lap to go.
00:32 Red Socks to the right, and 300-year-old Bustemup Bart in the bright green bike on the left, with a giant, swollen blue whale in the slot that looks suspiciously like a race promoter we all know and love.
00:44 Red Socks punches through on the outside. It’s showtime, and Orange Bike slots in behind him, assuming the position for real.
00:47 Just off Orange Bike and slightly to the right, Team Boss slots in. The trifecta is now complete. Red Socks will accelerate to terminal velocity, Orange Bike will drag the Team Boss grenade through the final corner, and it will detonate across the line leaving vitrified dreams of glory in its wake.
1:07 They’re approaching Turn 3. Team Boss is on the right, tucked in behind Orange Bike. The cameraman, Sausage, is wondering what Debbie’s going to say when he breaks the same shoulder on the same course on the same Turn 3 in the first race back since his surgery.
1:09 Red Socks explodes as they approach Turn 3, about to jam through the turn and deposit Orange Bike for the final glory pull.
1:18 BUT WHAT’S THIS? LOOK, THERE ON THE RIGHT! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S A ROCKETSHIP! IT’S A WANKER! NOOOOOOO …….. It’s Leadout!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1:19 Leadout explodes up the right hand side coming into Turn 3 with Team Boss on his wheel! Well, Team Boss isn’t technically on Leadout’s wheel, it’s Sausage, the guy with the camera. But it’s the thought that counts.
1:21 Team Boss is off to the right. “WTF?”
1:22 Leadout has blasted up the side and created a perfect, wide-open alley for Sausage and a handful of other fresh riders, all glued up to Leadout’s rear wheel.
1:24 Coming through Turn 4 Leadout is fourth wheel and Sausage is now neatly tucked in behind him. Too bad ol’ Team Boss missed his own train, heh, heh. Shoulda checked the fuggin’ schedule!
1:45 Orange Bike is approaching Turn 4 at warp speed. The victory train has derailed. Leadout has led out five fresh riders and Team Boss is nowhere in sight.
1:53 But wait! Team Boss isn’t done! After the fantastic setup by Leadout, he’s not about to waste his chance! Team Boss, despite being boxed in, punches a hole through the concrete wall with his fist! Time to thank Leadout for all his hard work bringing those five, no six, fresh guys through the last turn and getting rid of pesky teammates Red Socks and Orange Bike.
1:54 Five riders, including camera-ready Sausage, gallop to the line! It’s only three hundred yards away! Bustemup Bart is going to win for the first time since they invented the seed drill! All of Leadout’s great work leading out other team’s riders is paying off! Sucks to be you, Team Boss!
1:57 Out of gas, out of real estate, out of cards, and out of luck, Team Boss decides, with only two hundred yards left to catch five fresh riders who have almost crossed the line, that it’s time to pedal his bike because even with a super pro leadout like the one he got from Leadout, it ain’t over, baby, ’til it’s over.
2:01 Team Boss nails it at the line, and after the race throws his arms around Leadout in a big friendly hug that looks like a punch to the face. Couldn’t have done it without Leadout!
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August 23, 2015 § 18 Comments
The nomination period for the fantabulous 2015 South Bay Cycling Awards closed last week, but some folks who felt that they’d been wrongly left out or who had been nominated for the wrong category weren’t going to take it lying down.
Okay, some of them were.South Bay phenom and pro Kristabel Doebel-Hickock won a Wanky in 2013 for QOM, and another in 2014 for Best Female Racer, so it was no surprise that she found herself again on the short list for best racer after posting impressive results on the domestic and international road racing circuit.
What was shocking to me is that she felt so displeased with her nomination for Best Female Racer of 2015 that she decided to make a full-blown run at the 2015 Crashtacular Fred category despite an already strong field and despite the fact that the nominating period had closed. Keep in mind that this year’s nominees include some of the biggest crash dummies in SoCal cycling, to wit:
- Front-runner and heretofore shoo-in Jay Laplante, a/k/a Manslaughter. The nickname alone tells you that this is a legit contender, and over the years he has proven that he is a threat to crash every time he rolls out of the driveway. What’s so impressive about his crashtacularity is that far from being a poor bike handler, he’s practically a magician when it comes to threading needles on a bike. So why all the crashes? Obviously, he’s just nuts.
- Super heavyweight contender Chris Gregory. Chris never met a crash she didn’t like. Different from boring nominees who’ve tried to eke out a Wanky with broken collarbones, shoulders, hands, and traumatic head injuries, Chris took crash anatomy to a whole ‘nother level in 2015 when she fell on the bike path going 12-mph (10 points), flopped off into the sand (10 points), still doesn’t know why she crashed (10 points), and shattered her humerus in three places, a bone that, in more than 30 years of riding and racing, I’ve never heard of anyone ever breaking, even when hit by a car.
With this kind of competition it’s hard to see how Kristabel could have thought she had a chance, even though she also has a rich history of amazing fred-like bike falls, like the time this year she mowed down a pedestrian (10 points) while practicing her TT bike on the bike path (10 points) and cracked her femur (8 points).
Still, “Tink” as she’s known far and wide, wasn’t about to cede the field, as she still had something in her back jersey pocket: In 2014 she went from icon to legend when she actually crashed at the start of a time trial coming out of the starting house. No one had ever heard of such a thing and when the story broke many refused to believe it.
Starting behind the 8-ball in the 2015 Wankies, however, Tink showed up three days ago at America’s premier stage race ready to do battle with the world’s best women racers, but more importantly to announce that she wanted a Wanky. As the video link above shows, it will be hard for anyone to beat her:
- No one to blame for taking her out or causing the crash (10 points)
- Crashed in America’s biggest pro race (100 points)
- Video proof (300 points)
- Crashed in the safest part of the race (400 points)
- Pulled an ultra-Fred move as an elite pro (500 points)
- Crashed by running into a sign that says “Healthcare” (12,000 points)
- Crashed while her start was being commentated by Phil Liggett (1,000,000 points)
- Got up, finished the TT, and the next day almost won the road race (1 billion points)
So although I don’t recommend this kind of extra-curricular lobbying and politicking just to get a Wanky, sometimes it works.
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August 19, 2015 § 16 Comments
Mark was one of the best elite amateur bike racers Southern California has ever seen. Today he has a particularly nasty form of leukemia.
I remember the state road race a few years back in Bakersfield. Mark, who dominated in every discipline in the sport, had been injured and was far from fit, but he decided to do this grueling race to help out his teammates. He attacked on the first lap and stayed away until the final lap, when the other teams had to throw all their weapons into the fray to reel him in.
The moment he got caught, teammate Roger Worthington went with a counterattack and finished third if memory serves. That was pure Mark — thrilled to sacrifice everything he had for his buddies.
Mark’s friends and erstwhile teammates from Labor Power have rallied ’round, but no matter the support and love, it’s ultimately a battle that Mark has to fight alone. To no one’s surprise, he’s giving it everything he’s got, which is ten times more than anyone else.
Here are some thoughts from three of his closest friends.
From Roger Worthington, teammate, team boss, friend:
Few riders typified the combination of Labor generally abhorred prettiness. Our mantra was “Gritty Not Pritty.” Then came G-Spot. G-Spot did use cocoa butter. He did shave his arms. He did refuse to wear his Labor Stars and Bars because it was the wrong shade of blue. So why did Labor rally around this erstwhile Pritty Boy with the boyish smile and monster legs? Because he may have been pretty but even more so he was gritty. We’re talking all caps GRITTY. He’d go off the front. He’d bang with the baddest. He protected his mates. He feared no one. When nutjobs all about were losing their mind, he’d keep his cool. And no matter how hard, or cold, or hot, or nasty, he wouldn’t complain. This is the character trait that’s serving him now as he’s battling cancer. Just as my money was on G-Spot coming out of that last corner, it’s on G-spot now as he takes on a force a thousand times nastier than a bar-banging scrum. He’s focused. He’s resilient, and in his words, “It’s all good.” We believe him, and we believe in him.
From Charon Smith, friend and understudy:
Mark Scott … I’m not sure where to begin because he has been such a big part of my development as a rider and racer. I have raced with so many talented guys and have had the pleasure of being teammates with talented racers, too. Mark in my eyes stands at the top of the mountain simply because he was the guy who wasn’t afraid to reach out like a father leading his child through the valley and pointing out all the small details that a child would overlook or couldn’t see simply due to lack of experience and knowledge. He taught me how to stay calm, relaxed, and how to always stay in the moment. He would say read the race, monitor the situation, and that everything you do as a racer should have a purpose. Over the years I have stored these things in my hard drive, you will rarely see me doing something just to do it in a race to look good, because it is never about the look but always the process and the finish. Often I see guys doing things in a race that don’t benefit the team or themselves, but they do it because they like to show their strength. Mark would never do that. “Everything, all the time, has to have a purpose.”
In our race meetings Mark would always lay out the plan and he did it with such calmness it made you feel like everything was going to be fine and so often it was; he could control and dictate a race single-handedly when he put his mind to it. I recall him doing things in a race to cause a reaction so he could get the field to react so he could set up the situation he wanted or needed to give our team an advantage. Over time I learned to sit back and watch him work his magic and I was always smiling because I knew that what he was doing was to set us up for the win.
He would often grab me and say “Get on my wheel!” It was like I was out on a leisure ride and not in a race. It’s a hard and delicate job towing a sprinter around, very few riders can actually do it well. Some guys just speak your language on the bike and words are not needed. Mark and I were this way off the top but this simply came from his gift and his huge heart. He could win races but he was not interested in that, he was more interested in molding me and shaping me because he saw something that I could not see.
I recall speaking with Dave Worthington after Mark became ill and he said “You know here’s something I never shared with you. When you started winning I told Mark, ‘Charon is there,’ and Mark replied “No, he’s not there yet there are still some things he has to learn.’ This moment made me smile because while he was teaching and showing me the way he had a bigger plan and vision for me and I never knew it.
That’s he was like a father leading his son through the valley. I recall the first race I did with Mark and he told me out of the blue “I am going to sit this one out.” I couldn’t figure out what he meant, but he wanted to slowly let me fly on my own, and whatever magic he had, it worked because I crossed the line first that day. Over the last four years I have averaged 10+ wins per year all while my teammates are winning as well. This was Mark’s teaching: always give and share the success. The good things that have happened to me and my team all come from the foundation laid by Mark. In our meetings, my ideas come from the plans and visions Mark embedded in me years ago. He also taught me to never allow anyone to try to break you. I’ll never be able to thank him enough. He may not know it but I think of him almost every day because I am on my bike almost every day and that is where we became so tightly connected.
Thanks for allowing me to share my feelings and words about my friend and Captain Mark Scott AKA G-Spot! GB
From David Worthington, former Labor teammate and friend:
Early on I was impressed how Mark could get his workouts in and still have the balance to give back and enjoy Life. So much resolve and charisma in this man. When he worked for my firm he lived blocks away so we rode together constantly. Even though I was in great shape and though I thought I was Bad to the Bone, I didn’t last three weeks on his training program.
I felt no shame sitting on his hip for 15-mile pulls in the headwind on Coast Highway. We forged a tight bond there, a trust that never flinched and always rolled over to race day. We raced as teammates from here to Wisconsin to Mexico, and made a lot of friends on the way with whom we still share laughs and unpurgeable memories.
“Here’s a cycling champion motor pacing me, the climber.”
“I knew at an early stage in our brotherhood, that the diva Mark Scott was a closer with the bite of a tiger shark and and the patience of Abraham and the generosity of a saint.”
“Many people have never seen ‘Brian’s Song,’ but I love Pic in that movie. Mark is a is a cinematic giant like the James Caan character, or that genuine earth shaker and world beater Cool Hand Luke.”
“Mark is oh so silky on the bike.”
“He’s generous and he has the secret, like a CSN song, his message is to love the one you’re with.”
“He doesn’t give a fuck about credit and relishes the hard work, the sweat the grit required to deliver optimal performance.”
“Work is his religion.”
“He’s not a cheater he’s a grinder with a sapphire smile, and if yf you moan about the burdens, the superficial loads of crap that everybody steps in, and you get too wordy about it all making no sense he may sorta brush the dander off the airspace and simply suggest, ‘Davie, you think ya might be over-thinking this thing?’ To which we pause and know … He’s right.”
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August 6, 2015 § 31 Comments
I hope you’ll put these two races on your calendar:
Why? Because it’s your last chance in 2015 to win some good money in a SoCal crit. I’m donating $2,000 in cash primes for the 8/23 race, and an additional $2,000 in cash primes for the 8/30 race.
For the 8/23 race’s P/1/2/3 event I’m donating eight $100 primes and one $200 prime on the next to last lap. Same for the 40+ masters men’s race. Good luck prying those dollars out of Surf City’s mouth!
For the 8/30 race, $1,000 in primes will be up for grabs in the P/1/2/3 event, and ditto for the women’s P/1/2/3 race, with the elite women getting exactly the same prime payout as the elite men.
The cash primes, which will be cash, will all be paid out in cash.
I support Chris and Vera’s efforts because year in, year out, they put on quality races that are easy to get to, that are run on safe courses, and that respect the efforts of the participants. Everyone doesn’t get a medal but everyone gets treated with respect, at least if you consider getting called a “cupcake” respect.
As just one example of the way Chris listens to his customers, this year he gave the 50+ racers one hour races for virtually the entire year. As far as I know, that’s the best in the country for our age category.
There is so much that is messed up about amateur bike racing that it’s incredibly important to support the quality events that we do have. I wish I knew how to make bike racing more popular and more inclusive, but I don’t.
What I do know is that beefy primes thrown in every few laps can up the ante, change the riders’ calculations at varying points in the race, encourage attacking, and give a lot more riders the chance to win even though they may not win the race.
See you there!
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August 4, 2015 § 10 Comments
Before we get started with the recap of Sunday’s Brentwood Grand Prix Bicycle Race and Bicycle Falling Off Contest, let’s observe a moment of silence as we take in the awesome magnificence of this truly incredible photo and its stupendously impressive subject:
(Photo credit: Phil Beckman, pbcreativephoto.com)
This is, in fact, the apotheosis of life imitating art: The subject, who appears to be either winning something or on the verge of doing so, is in fact un-handily placed about 55 riders back. The fierce look of determination that suggests an indomitable will to win is actually a gasp of dismay at being momentarily forced to take a pull on Lap Two. The aggressive posturing so suggestive of a podium in fact adumbrates a very-close-to-DFL finish.
And how could it be otherwise? This race honors the memory of Raymond Fouquet, a man who only wanted people to enjoy cycling, and it honors him by throwing vicious, bloodthirsty psychopaths into a treacherous, winding, undulating, windswept course that tears everyone to shreds.
The only race that I had any chance of winning was the one to the starting line, and even there I got 29th place. Immediately to my left were the usual gang of assassins and pretend-friends, but one stood out. Like a hemophiliac Hapsburg passing on self-destructive genes to hopelessly inbred family members, the awful chromosomes of Labor Power again reared their head in the shallow and twisted gene pool of the 50+ Leaky Prostate Masters Race.
No matter the jersey, no matter the sponsor, the terrible hereditary vices of SoCal cycling’s most nefarious team would rise from the sepulchre once again as Genghis Hahn brought to the table no knife and fork but rather a chainsaw and a belt of hand grenades. His prospects looked grim midway through the race when he washed out his front wheel in the 180-degree turn, skidded across the pavement like a badly thrown newspaper, and unraveled several yards of hip and thigh skin over the asphalt.
It looked like this, only worse, except perhaps for the gentleman with splayed legs who is now officially a woman:
(Photo credit: Chad Moston)
While those who still had delusions of victory smiled a happy smile at Genghis’s early and violent demise, and others wildly leaped over his head, crashed into his spine, or skidded on his face, Genghis had only one thought, and it was the same thought he’d had when the race began: “I will crush all you motherfuckers and make you as miserable as if you’d had to eat fifty yards of your own shit.”
Genghis limped over to the wound care and bike replacement tent, got a new bike and a new leg, jumped back into the fray, made the split when the race finally came apart, covered the last-gasp attacks and wrenched victory from the snarling, snapping, frothing, ebola-spewing jaws of defeat as blood oozed from his ass and the wretched howls of the vanquished filled the air.
When interviewed after the race and asked to say a few words about his sponsor and to perhaps thank the promoters for putting on a fantastic event, Genghis spat blood, laced with shards of tooth and herpes onto the fawning crowd below and said, “Labor.”
And he meant it.
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June 30, 2015 § 18 Comments
I attacked and got away with five laps to go. Woof-Woof came with me. I had been going pretty hard throughout the race trying to cause a split, and he started taking some really solid pulls, which hurt bad. I would come through on the downhill/crosswind section, which was tough but not as tough as the turns and the uphill section, which he was taking full throttle, intent on sticking it out to the end.
Woof-Woof started yelling at me to “work” and “not be a pussy,” thereby violating the first law of sales and bike racing: If you’re explaining, you’re losing.
I started laughing as he got angrier and angrier. His best line was “If you want to ride with the big dogs you better work, goddamn it!”
“Arf, arf!” I said.
“He is one of the funniest people alive,” I laughed to myself, so much comedy wrapped up in so much seriousness over a bicycle race being fought between grandpas.
Then when Woof-Woof’s brother, THOG, and Genghis bridged to us with my teammate tucked in neatly behind, Woof-Woof began screaming and banging his handlebars in fury and frustration. His likely first and guaranteed second had just fizzled to fifth, at best.
I began laughing so hard at Woof-Woof’s curses that THOG mistakenly thought I still had more gas in the tank. This was a fatal error because I fizzled badly in the finish, and THOG had to come around a slowly imploding Big Blue Bus rather than a clean, fast lead-out.
In the end, Woof-Woof’s brother beat him (again) and Woof-Woof barely nudged by me for fifth. Afterwards he was still so angry that he came up to me and said contemptuously, “After all that work I did you were still gonna try to beat me in the sprint, huh?” Implication: Does the mouse challenge the tiger?
I smiled and congratulated him. “Good racing,” I said. “What a schmo! And such a serious schmo!” I thought.
Of course he’d been Invisible Violet until the moment of the breakaway, and I had fired several shells too many. As we cooled down THOG humiliated him in front of everyone. “Wanky’s a classy rider,” he said, looking at Woof-Woof. “Always takes his pulls.”
Compliments like that are a rare thing from the guy with the rainbow stripes on his sleeve, compliments to be treasured, even when — or especially when — you’re last in the break.
Best day of racing, maybe ever.
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