THOG chum

February 19, 2018 § 1 Comment

I knew it was gonna be a great day at the CBR crit because when I peeled off my skinsuit in the port-a-dumpster, the right long sleeve slipped down behind me and dangled straight into the brown hole of death, but I was miraculously able to jerk it out before it touched any of the burrito/coffee/egg sandwich mixin’s stewing in the bottom of the tank.

It was obvious before the race started that it would end in a bunch sprunt, which was great because I’m still recovering from The Influence, and after so many years of doing this I have a sixth sense about when a race will end with a breakaway and when it will end in a mass gallop. My race plan was simple. Sit for forty minutes, race for ten.

As I rolled up to the line scanning my competition the only possible fly in my ointment was Thurlow Rogers a/k/a The Hand of God a/k/a THOG. Incredibly, there are still people, all newbies, who don’t know who Thurlow is. I explain it like this: “I first saw him destroy a pro-am race in 1983. He’s the best living active bike racer on earth.” If people don’t get that, after watching him race, they do.

Archibald & Rufus, CBR’s crack announcers, had warmed up the crowd with their unique blend of edutainment, teaching the audience about the race while also talking about their Valentine’s Day gift exchange of dead flowers, a roast dog, and several anonymous calls to Crime Stoppers naming the other as a felon. Anyone who thinks that it’s boring to watch a bunch of tired old farts in their underwear pedaling around an abandoned parking lot windswept with dirty diapers and used condoms has never listened to a race get lit up by Archie and Roof.

It’s money time

The race began rather animatedly, with Dandy Andy firing off the front. I sat comfortably in 67th place and sighed. “Hopeless. No break is going today.”

Sure enough, they brought him back.

Next went G$, stomping away from the field and opening up a healthy gap until the field realized that sitting out in the wind for 45 minutes was something that Money was not only willing to do, but that he had done countless times before … for the win. I sighed though. “Hopeless. No break is going today.”

Suddenly THOG shot out of the pack with a couple of riders in tow. This animated all the sitters, none of whom was interested in racing hard, but all of whom were interested in chasing THOG. There is a beauty in cycling because even though you may personally suck, with a little bit of effort you can ruin someone else’s day who is really good.

I sighed as I watched the hopeless move. “No break is going today.” It occurred to me that one reason I was so convinced no move was going today is because I was weak, tired, sick, and desperate to do a few parade laps then go home.

WTF? I said NO BREAK TODAY

Once the bunch was back together, G$ glanced around and kicked it. This time he opened up a small gap and three other riders bridged up, Dandy, Jaggs, and No Pull Dude. The field watched, everyone keying on THOG and waiting for him to do all the dirty work. THOG slunk to the middle of the field and the break really started to pull away.

I sighed. “Not today, wankers. No break is going today.”

I checked my watch and we were a mere 25 minutes into the 50-minute race. I still had fifteen minutes to sit, which was good, because I wasn’t feeling it. Suddenly the pack had slowed and my momentum carried me far towards the front. At about the same moment, THOG attacked.

When other people attack it’s sometimes unclear whether they’re attacking or whether they’re imitating a fully loaded city bus pulling away from the curb while dragging a building behind it. When THOG attacks it is pretty clear that the only thing worse than being a toilet roll in the CBR port-a-dumpster is being a crank or pedal on THOG’s bike. The viciousness of the smashing and the acceleration hurt to look at, and then you don’t have to look at it any more because he is gone.

After half a lap THOG was a tiny speck. For some silly reason I attacked, city bus style. The peloton yawned and hell began. I was a dangling worm on a hook, stuck between the group and THOG, which is like having your head crushed between a grand piano and a concrete wall, only worse.

Three laps passed, but after two I was a solid two hundred yards back from THOG and couldn’t make up an inch. It was a matter of minutes before I detonated and floated all the way back to the peloton. At that very moment my pals Archibald & Rufus screamed over the microphone, “Davidson is bridging to Thurlow!!”

“He is?” I thought, wondering who this Davidson guy was and watching Thurlow get smaller and smaller as smoke began issuing from the cracks of my everything.

What goes around

One thing I learned the hard way is that when you are in a break with Thurlow, you pull your fucking guts out. He is the greatest. You are shit. If you wind up on his wheel it means something epic is happening, and now isn’t the time to be clever or cutesie or calculating. It’s time to beat the pedals so fucking hard that you think your knees will come unhitched. The times I’ve been in a break with Thurlow he’s never had to say “take a pull” or “quit dicking off” or wheel-chopped me and sent me flying into the ditch.

Most importantly, when there’s prime money or a finish on the line, he has always dispatched me with the facility of a large hammer removing one’s front teeth. In other words, breakaway chum.

And when Thurlow heard the announcers say “Davidson is bridging!” he looked back, and what did he see? He saw chum. THOG chum. Tasty, fresh, bleeding THOG chum. So he eased off the pedals for a few seconds and waited. By the way, Thurlow never waits. If you are too weak to bridge, sucks to be you. But in my case, if you do bridge, then it really sucks to be you. I struggled onto his back wheel, and the beating commenced.

In a few moments I’d recovered and was able to pull, and that’s the beauty of being in a break with Thurlow. You go harder than you ever thought you could. Who cares if you get dropped, who cares if you lose, who cares if your feet fall off or you scrape a pedal and impale your head on a fire hydrant? The only thing that matters is DON’T BE A FLAILING WANKER.

With the added chum power, we pulled far away from the wankoton until they were invisible. All the while in the real race up ahead, G$ was tossing his breakmates into the paper shredder as they sat on his wheel begging for mercy. With a couple of laps to go the RuggedMAXX II kicked in and G$ left his unhappy companions to fight for scraps, but none of that mattered to me. I was covered in sheet snot and could care less about the race; I was barely even aware I was in one. All I knew is that we had two laps to go, and until the moment that Thurlow rode off I was all in.

We hit the next to last turn, uphill and into the wind, and I wound it up, sprinting from corner to corner, taking the final turn, and giving it a dozen final smashes. Then I sat up and Thurlow breezed by, hardly even pedaling, and frankly rather bored with the whole thing. Fifth for Thurlow is an embarrassment. Sixth for me is a tattoo on my forehead.

After the race my cheering section ran up. “Why did you quit sprinting?” they asked.

“That’s Thurlow,” I said. “If you’re not sprinting him for the win, you sit the fuck up and pay your respects.” Which I did.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Davy sprunt good

February 1, 2018 § 3 Comments

Another Sunday Telo World Championships took place, and although I was unable to attend, CitSB’s trusty field reporter, Corporal Fox, took on the massive job of recording comprehensive race notes and, most importantly, stocking the tent with hot pizza and cold beer. Jason Morin of Shift Mobile manned the pits to help racers who needed a last-minute tune-up, derailleur adjustment, chain lube, or fresh leg shave up in that crease where you can’t get it yourself without turning half-backwards and usually slipping in the shower and slamming your head on the tile.

Here’s how it went down:

Lap 1: Neutral. There is nothing neutral in any bike race, ever. Significant preen attacks, flex jumps, and strut pacelines occur.

Lap 2: Ivan Fernandez attacks and is off the front by four seconds, following the maxim that if you are going to immolate yourself, start early and use a big torch. Kevin Nix and Lane Reid hammer to close the gap, nearly shelling Brent Davis, who, if he ignites and melts, will gap out the rest of the peloton. The fuse however sputters and Brent lives to get dropped another day. Lap. Jon Davy and Greg Leibert  swap recipes or phone numbers in the back. Stathis Sakellariadis and Abraham Mohammed are already spit out, enjoying the Telo delicacy of 58 finely seasoned minutes alone in an awful wind.

Lap 3: Junior rider Alex Mainvielle leads the group, flunking the first lesson of successful bike racing, which is “Cower & Hide,” but completely acing the Wanky Rule, the one and only Wanky Rule of “Go to the front!” Alex brings back Ivan, who still is dangling a few feet off the front. This lap appeared to be fast without the aid of a timer or an atomic clock because the group was strung out in a single line, with many people teetering, tottering, asking themselves weighty existentialist questions, and otherwise manufacturing superb reasons to gap themselves out. One Orange is dropped, after having been nicely peeled.

Lap 4: There is a major change-up as Geoff Loui smashes to the front, head down and in the drops, with Ivan right behind him. Jose is dropped like that guy in 2001 A Space Odyssey when he got kicked out of the airlock by Hal and spiraled off into space forever. 

Lap 6: As they come around the west corner, Jon Davy, who either attacked into the wind or who frightened everyone by flexing a bicep, is 10 seconds off the front, with Geoff Loui chasing hard behind. This move causes Greg Leibert to start moving up. Savvy cyclists know that when Greg a/k/a G$ begins to move up, it is a good time to stand down and submit your application to dentistry school. Danelle decides that it’s time to recalibrate, and she recalibrates off the back. 

Lap 7: Kevin Nix, Greg Leibert, and Ivan Fernandez catch Jon and establish a breakaway, opening a 6-second gap on the field. Brandon Sanchez leads the chase at a hammering pace that has the field wondering if there is a new solitaire app for their phone, the riders strung out and immobilized like dead coyote skins nailed to an outhouse door. At the back, Kevin Salk, Joey Cooney, and Nick Fruth observe a precarious gap begin to yawn and gape in front of them. Although some racing experts believe that races are won from behind, that falsism is not bearing itself out today. Reece Sylvester releases his grappling hooks and falls off the rampart onto the windy plain below, where he is trampled to death by sharks and giant squid and dragons.

Lap 8: Meanwhile, back at the raunch, or back at the back, or back at the waaaaay back, Stathis and Danelle join up for a steady TT around the course, each lap even less fun than the already miserable one before. 

Lap 9: This is prime lap number 1 and it is scooped up by Ivan Fernandez, with Greg Leibert right behind him. “Right behind” a prime winner = “You lost, dude.” Ivan’s attack for the water bottle, or rather the bottle of water (Hint! Water) leaves the group in whatever is rattier and more tore up than tatters. Some would call it a peloton but they would be lying. At this point it is just riders sharing the same road. However, this allows Kevin Salk and Nick Fruth to make up some ground and stay in a little longer before their untimely fate is also decided by the neutral laws of physics.

Lap 10: Something happens, perhaps.

Lap 11: Ivan regains his breath, and the 4-man breakaway regains its 8-second gap. Peyton Cooke, legendary legend who seems to last longer and longer each week as he beers his way back into fitness, decides to beer his way backwards and gets punched out the back like a fresh pop-tob tab flicked by a thirsty lumberjack.

Lap 12: This is prime lap number 2, and Ivan Fernandez wins with another monster sprint as Brandon Sanchez continues to batter away on the front, perhaps counting his matches but if so in dire need of remedial arithmetic. Kevin Salk and Nick Fruth decide that sometimes it’s better to put your head down, suck it up, and get ready for MONEY TIME, but not today which is IDGAF TIME. They are dropped. Meanwhile, in the first or second fragment, Joey Cooney joins the Stathis/Danelle duo, and Stathis finds his legs stapled to a tree, then drops Danelle and rides away with Joey. Any sign of Stathis gaining fitness depresses everyone for miles around. 

Lap 13: The efforts from the two prime laps prove too much for Ivan, who zips up his suitcase of courage and decides to check it and send it overland by camel, and he parachutes out of the breakaway and is now with the ragamuffin group. The breakaway has increased their lead to 15 seconds, and is doing a rotating pace line with no apparent attacks.

Lap 14: Someone does something, for sure. 

Lap 15: The dwindling group of fragmentarians loses two more, Nick Fruth and Geoff Loui, as each rider decides that the better part of wisdom is to never ever racing your fuggin’ bike again. Only 10 fragmentarians remain, in addition to the breakaway. 

Lap 16: This is prime lap number 3, and G$ wins it for the A group, devastating his breakmates with his tremendous power, but the prime doesn’t seem to be a priority for Nix or Davy, who are focused on achieving the incredible success and acclaim that will come from winning this most important race of their cumulative careers. Alex Mainvielle wins for the B group, with a huge gap between himself and the rider behind him, as the prime effort causes the group to accordion (out of tune and played by a drunken street vendor with a dead monkey on his shoulder) while riders sway and struggle to stay in like drunks tottering on a broken barstool placed in a minefield.

Lap 17: More very important things happen somewhere, but not here. 

Lap 18: The A group looks strong, still rotating steadily, replete with heroes whose names will ever bedeck the golden halls of time, giants among men whose exploits will earn them everlasting rest in the Elyisan Fields and if not that maybe another bottle of Hint Water. The last prime effort has taken the fragmentarians in the B group and turned them into molecularians as they are about to be lapped. Robert Cisneros takes the last thrust of the harpoon into his mighty side, rolls over in the water, shoots up a spout of gore, and, dropped, sinks beneath the waves, all the way down to the pizza and beer underneath the Telo tent, where he is covered with a hot layer of pizza cheese and cooled with bubbly beer. 

Bell Lap: At one lap to go, the break begins trying to figure out how to beat Davy. Nix hands G$ a set of brass knuckles and G$ shares a brace of pistols with Nix. Despite repeated blows to the spine and close-range gunshots to the head, Davy’s most important organs remain unscathed as, rounding the final corner, Nix discovers that the grenade he’s been chewing lost its pin and G$ discovers what the stars ordained many millennia ago: Davy Sprunt Good.

And of course Danelle for the women’s trophy!

Heroes who showed up and raced their fuggin’ bikes:

Andy Rodriguez, David Shaw, Connie Perez, Jose Godinez, Peyton Cooke, Stathis Sakellariadis, Carlos Ristorcelli, Brent Davis, Jason Mark, Gregory Cooke, Reese Sylvester, Courey Burkhardt, Steve Thorpe, Jon Davy, Ivan Fernandez, Brandon Sanchez, Danelle Doernbrack, Abraham Mohammed, Joey Cooney, Kevin Nix, Robert Cisneros, Greg Leibert, Jason Morin, Nick Fruth, Geoff Loui, Kevin Salk, Ken Vinson, Alex Mainvielle, Stacy Gremminger, Someone from Ironfly, Long haired guy in pictures, Eric Arentsen, Guy in tye dye kit, Lane Reid, David wells on his motorcycle who could have easily won but didn’t.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About Cycling in the South Bay: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

 

 

Bike racing lessons

January 24, 2018 Comments Off on Bike racing lessons

I did two races on Sunday and finished mostly last in the first one and relatively last in the second. In the first race I attacked a bunch, got brought back a bunch, and sat up with a lap to go because one of the most basic bike racing lessons is “Don’t go where you don’t belong,” and I don’t belong UP THERE at the end of a crit that’s finishing in a bunch sprunt.

In the second race, being gassed from the first one, I sat at the back for forty minutes and then jumped free for a few laps in a doomed breakaway that was caught, swarmed, and discarded like so much used toilet paper. Again, it always pays to follow that most basic of bike racing lessons, “Don’t go where you don’t belong.” And by “pay” I mean “go home with all the skin you came with.”

Why does everyone sit?

During both races I watched while 90% of the field simply sat. A handful of people animated the race, and ten people placed in the top ten, but everyone else was content to go around in circles and then sprunt for placings 11-100. In case you think there’s a difference between 2nd and 100th, let me suggest that there isn’t.

But it’s more complicated than that and since I’ve witnessed the same imbecilic behavior in every crit I’ve ever been in, now seems like a good time to break down this whole bike racing thing, not so that anyone will ever do anything differently, but so that I won’t have to repeat myself the next time someone asks me about crit racing.

Bike racing lessons for the industrial park, 4-corner, crit wanker

Every race is different, and the biggest factor in how you place is who shows up, period. That’s why a local 70-year-old flailer who has never lined up in a mass start race calls himself a “world champion.” One other wanker showed up for the time trial, and the “winner” rode 2,000 meters faster than the “silver medalist.” The bronze medalist was an empty space.

For real bike racers, though, your competition is the most significant factor, and at CBR, where primes are generous, courses are wide and safe, the weather is good, and the atmosphere is fun, the riders who you cannot and will not beat, ever, are guaranteed to be there. From this we can take home the first lesson of industrial park crit racing, and the most important: YOU WILL NOT WIN, EVER.

Read that as often as you need to. Once you understand it we will move on to Lesson 2, and please don’t give me any “If!” and “But!” and “My coach says!” and “My Strava!” and “But wattage!”

I don’t GAF. You–yes, you–cannot win a CBR crit. Neither, of course can I, and please don’t remind me of that time last year when it was raining meatballs and I beat one other dude who quit midway through. That wasn’t “winning CBR,” that was “riding in the rain alone.” The reason you will never win a CBR crit is really simple. There will always be someone faster than you.

How do I know this? Because the same kinds of people have been winning this race, and races like it, for decades. You are not one of those kinds of people.

Understanding your crit racing limits

You may be wondering how I can be so certain that you aren’t ever going to win at CBR. Well, there are two reasons. One, you are too slow. “But my wattage!” you cry. Okay, perhaps you have the wattage. Perhaps you really do have enough power in the last 300m to win at CBR. But there’s a second reason you will never win, which is way more important than your power: You don’t know how to get in the right position, and stay there, on the last lap.

These two limitations, your speed and your position, can never both be overcome. This is because you are a fraidy cat slowpoke, and because at CBR there are at least a dozen riders who are consummately skilled at positioning, and who have a better sprint. And you could race and train and pay coach until the heavens go black forever, but you will still never come around Cory Williams, or Justin Williams, or Charon Smith, or Steve Gregorios, or Tommy Robles, etc. etc. etc.

I can’t overestimate the importance of understanding how hopeless your outlook is. It’s like walking on the surface of the sun, or breaking the two-minute mile, or chewing with your mouth closed. It will never happen, and it’s not until you accept that fact that we can proceed. By the way, if you think I might be talking about you, I AM.

Understanding everyone else’s crit racing limits

Once you accept defeat it’s time to study another of the important bike racing lessons, which is that none of the other racers can win, either. All those people around you? They are as hopeless as you are. You and they are one, together, joined at the hip. They, like you, have spent all that money and time on Facebook but they will be going home with something other than first place. This is called losing. You and they will lose.

Now don’t get me wrong. Coach will find something to praise you about and your numbers will be a navel for infinite gazing. Someone may have a photo of you charging around a corner and you will one day win a prime, or at least know someone who did. But you and they will still have lost and be losers. Remember this when you observe the field. “We are losers.” Repeat this as often as you need to.

However, sprinkled in among the losers are potential winners. You are not one of them and it’s pointless to speculate who they might be. It doesn’t matter; they are not you and you are not they. And since this kind of thing goes better with real names, I will give you a few from my own club. Ryan Dorris, Dave Holland, Anthony Freeman, Scott Torrence …

These racers can potentially win at CBR because they have top-end speed and the ability to position themselves on the last lap. There are other racers like them who can also win, but again, none of those racers is you, and never will be. It’s important to recognize that your team may have one or two potential winners in a bunch sprint and that you will never be one because this is the beginning of the process through which you can answer the key question about bike race participation: What the fuck are you doing out there if you’re not there to win?

To sum up: You’re in a bike race and your chance of winning is zero. Why are you there?

Breaking down purposeful racing

Leaving aside the only explanation for every junior racer ever, “My dad made me do this,” there are only four reasons for any human being to ever join a four-corner industrial park crit that is going to end in a bunch sprunt. Here they are:

  1. I’m here to win (this doesn’t apply to you, ever).
  2. I’m here for the training.
  3. I’m here to help my teammate win.
  4. I’m here to entertain the spectators.

There is no fifth reason to be in a four-corner industrial bunch sprunt crit. If you can’t peg yourself to #2, #3, or #4, it’s time for you to go into therapy. But first, go home because you don’t belong here, ever, and the pavement hurts.

I’m here for the training

This is actually a great reason to sit in the middle of a big pack, do nothing, and pedal hard the last lap so that you can get 58th. Bike races with lots of racers go fast, and speedwork is speedwork. Joining the bike race to improve your cornering, get used to racing in proximity with other imbeciles, and learning to bunnyhop body parts is all part of the skill set you will need if you plan to continue racing, which, by the way, is a bad plan.

However, in order to get much of a training benefit from crit racing where you ride around in the pack like a broken potato, you need to do more than one race. You need to do three, four if you can stand it. The additional races cost a measly fifteen bucks, and you will be absolutely frazzled if you put in three hours of crit racing, even if you just sit there like a wart.

The corollary is that if you only do one or two races you are not getting much training benefit from imitating a toenail. So once you accept that you will never win, if you decide that your goal is training, then do three races and make sure when you get home you can barely inject a steroid. That’s how tired you should be.

I’m here to help my teammate win

While this sounds like a good reason to do a four-corner industrial park bunch sprint, it’s usually not. Why? Because if your teammate is Ryan Dorris or Dave Holland or Anthony Freeman, they don’t need your help. At all. Not even a little bit. That fantasy you have of driving the pace on the final lap and dropping them off gift-wrapped with 200m to go is like the Tooth Fairy. Nuh-uh.

The most obvious reason this won’t ever happen is because if you had that kind of speed and that kind of positioning, you’d be capable of winning yourself, but as we’ve seen you have one or neither but not both. The less obvious reason and the sad one that your teammates won’t tell you is that they don’t need or want you anywhere near them on the last lap.

Your teammates are looking for a good wheel to latch onto, not yours, and you are violating that most crucial of bike racing lessons, “Don’t go where you don’t belong.”

It is painful to realize that you are worthless when it comes to helping others, but like gravity it is also a fact. You are a clogstacle, an object that gets in the way at precisely the wrong time, leading to crashes, bumps, shrieks of terror, and having thirty people pass you in the last hundred meters. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a wide-eyed new racer tell me how he was getting fit so he could “help the team” by “leading out Ol’ Grizzles,” and me never having the heart to say “Ol’ Grizzles wants you as far back as you can get without being in Montana.”

So now is a great time to take that fantasy of you driving the leadout train behind the woodshed and shoot it. Actually, you don’t even have to shoot it because it is already dead.

Meaningful help

But don’t despair! There is a way that you, a loser, can help your teammates, who might be winners. It’s not glamorous or glorious and you may well DNF, but since you’ve accepted that you will never win, and have decided that you don’t just want to ride around in circles like a greasy donut doing nothing, you can be a helper.

Here’s how.

Your sprinter dude teammates at CBR are waiting for the end. That’s it. They know who they have to beat and how they have to beat them. What they are hoping is that their competition is just slightly more tired at the end than they are because unless you’re sprinting against Charon Smith the differential is often not that great. This is where you, lowly wanker, can actually attack.

Attacking is simple. You wait until the pack bunches up, then squirt up the side pedaling as if you are being chased by facial herpes. The pack has bunched up because it is going slow; you are squirting up the side because you are going fast. When you hit the front you will keep going and they will watch you go, in amazement, perhaps sprinkled with a few giggles at your awkward pedaling syle (pull your left knee in, please).

“Who is that wanker?” they will all wonder, but you won’t care because you will be off the front and pretty soon instead of wondering, they will have to chase. Don’t ever think, even for a moment, that they will not chase and you will somehow solo to glorious victory. They will, and you won’t.

Key point: This attack helps your sprinter/potential winner. You will get caught of course and there will likely be a counter and you could well get punched out the back of the field, dropped for good, pulled by the ref, and forced to tell your wife that you DNF’d a stupid crit, but you will have done something far more interesting and useful and bike-racerish than going around in circles like a turd swirling the drain. What’s more important is that if you have teammates who are also doing the toilet swirl thing, they can do these attacks, too.

Each attack, though weak and doomed to failure and instigated by a complete flailer (you), results in someone having to expend energy chasing you down. That is often one of the potential winners and your teammate will be back there chortling. Make a note of this: DOOMED ATTACKS ARE GREAT TEAMWORK AND HELP YOUR SPRUNTER. Even more incredibly, you are not limited to one of these attacks. You can do two, three, or even seventy, as many as your legs can stand. And another bonus is that it is good training. So the next time you are in a crit simply going around in circles waiting for your inevitable 58th placing, for fuck’s sake make an effort, and then another, and then another.

Here’s another fact. If the 90% who never do anything all did one hard effort, the races wouldn’t end in a field sprunt. They would break apart and an actual bike race would occur. However, this is impossible.

I’m here to entertain the spectators

It is easy to understand why you wouldn’t want to attack repeatedly to help your teammate. Most teammates aren’t worth helping at all, even a little. In fact, most teammates are best served by being chased down like scurvy dogs. There are few feelings in life as enjoyable as watching a teammate in a successful break, and then helping the enemy bring him back. Betrayal and treachery rule.

So it’s not necessary to carry out senseless attacks so your superior teammate can bring home yet another winner’s mug and $50 check while you have to show up at the water cooler on Monday and explain that you “helped by losing.” No one will understand. The only thing they will understand is “I won,” which you will never get to say, and even if you do, they will immediately forget because it is a ridiculous thing that causes their brains to stop the minute you say “criterium.” No matter what they say they are all thinking “What the fuck is a criterium?”

The final and only sane reason to be at the bike race, since you can’t win and you don’t want to train and you wouldn’t help your teammates on a bet is to entertain the spectators.

Keep in mind that although for you bike racing is a mortally serious event contested between serious adults displaying the ultimate in mental acuity, reflexes, endurance, fitness, and speed, to the rest of Planet Earth you are a middle-aged man slowly and anonymously riding a plastic toy in circles in his underwear clownsuit while his pot belly sags over the top tube and a few bored family members eat tacos and hope you don’t get killed or, depending on your insurance policy, that you do.

Although studies have shown that some activities shut down the brain more completely than watching a bike race, such as being dead, for the most part industrial park crit racing is the worst. Fortunately, at least at CBR, Kris and Jeff Prinz had the foresight to hire Archibald & Rufus to do the race announcing. These two guys are funny, witty, insightful, experienced racers and pro commentators.

The catch?

Something has to happen in the race. Even Archibald & Rufus can’t make chicken salad out of chickenshit, and it’s up to you to bring the chicken. A well timed attack, a badly timed attack, a hopeless surge for a lost prime, a mad dash for a pair of socks or some nutritional supplement that you don’t need, anything that is dynamic and noticeable and that distinguishes you from the other sods stuck in the middle of the peloton counting down to 58th place is exciting! And the announcers will either say your name or, less thrilling, your race number.

“Here comes Number 607 on a hopeless attack destined for failure!” Rufus will roar.

The crowd will wake up. They will look. They’ll note your determination, your focused drive, your matchy-matchy socks, and they will admire your effort, because no matter how silly you look, punching off the front in a solo move is hard and looks impressive, especially to the ignorant and ill-informed, and especially with Archibald & Rufus comparing your daring to Eddy Merckx.

In other words, if all else fails, at least put on a show. You got this.

Conclusion: Bike racing lessons that work

I hope you’ve been able to identify yourself. I know I have. Industrial park crit racing can be gratifying but you have to get out of the blob. Everyone can’t be a winner; it’s not a lottery ticket where the chances are equal. But there’s more to life than winning. Just ask Charlie Sheen.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

 

Archibald & Rufus

January 22, 2018 § 1 Comment

Today was the 2018 debut of Archibald & Rufus, the South Bay’s most infamous, mouthy, and ass-crackingly funny bike racing announcers on Planet Zebulon. It was also the first of six crits in the CBR race series, which brought more cockroaches, fleas, termites, lice, bedbugs, tapeworms, earwigs, maggots, and blowflies to the surface than the Black Death.

In other words, race season had begun!

The pre-race warm-up consisted of physically warming up, as the thermometer was barely breaking 36 degrees no matter where you stuck it. Iron Maiden did her pre-race laps in a down jacket; I chattered around the course in tights, undershirt, speedsuit, long-sleeve jersey, and a hoodie. As I warmed up I passed Dandy, who had driven up from San Diego for this edition of the Clash of the Infirm and Loose Bowels.

“What’s the plan, Dandy?”

“Fuggit, it’s so cold, attack from the gun.”

So we did.

The Brit and the hipster

Dandy and I have raced for decades and we raced together on Team Concentration Camp for four years, so we understand each other perfectly and we know crit racing even more perfectly. A mentally defective four-year-old can easily understand CBR crit rules, and so can even a few of the racers.

  1. You have zero chance of winning.
  2. You have zero chance of getting on the podium.
  3. Take all of your skin home with you.

Dandy and I, having fully internalized #1 and #2, set about punishing ourselves with a series of pointless attacks and accelerations that exhausted us, achieved nothing, and set the table perfectly for Steve Gregorious to mop the field with his can of Whoop.

In addition to setting up Big Steve, we also had to set up announcers Archibald & Rufus–without some silly antics on our part they would have nothing to talk about, an inexcusable crime since Archibald had worn his best British overcoat and wool ivy cap, and Rufus had donned his finest overcoat, wool fedora, and de-fingered punchemup gloves. These gentlemen dressed better than any bike race announcer anywhere, ever, commensurate with the stature of this great sporting event.

Archibald & Rufus & the turkey’s behind

As Dandy and I mashed through the start-finish, dragging the field behind us in stylish Cat 5 fashion, a pair of hammers launched for the prime. “The thermometer has now popped out of the turkey’s butt!” roared Archibald, “just in time for Thanksgiving!!!”

The two people in the crowd roared, and Rufus followed up with his trademark line: “With mayhem like that in the field, it’s raining meatballs!!!” Several spectators looked up, and one even grabbed a fork.

By the time the pack had absorbed us and rotated us to the back, Dandy and I had pretty much packed up our empty lunch pails and begun heading for the door. As we slunk shamefully to the shade of our respective team tents, Rufus called out our heroics. “That race was sure animated by those two guys who don’t know how to race!” Dandy and I stripped off our numbers and pretended that we didn’t know who they meant.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

CBR Crit #1: Big bang theory

January 17, 2018 Comments Off on CBR Crit #1: Big bang theory

If you look at the SoCal bike racing calendar, it is pretty slim pickings for road racing. The first road race of the year, Tuttle Creek, got torn off the calendar, presumably to be rescheduled, where “presumably” means “if Steve gets around to it.” After that there is the Santa Barbara road race, famed for the dude who flipped off the bridge and miraculously survived with a Spidey save, the UCLA road race, and the Victorville road race. Everything else is basically a crit. The CBR crit series is especially like a crit. Having a race calendar with nothing but crits is like having a sex life with nothing but handjobs. You may get good at it, but it leaves a lot be desired.

However, Jeff and Kris Prinz have charged into their second year as owners of the CBR crit series. They have done an amazing job with it. The team area now sports a plethora of colorful tents and racers instead of its former aura, which was more reminiscent of a holding tank filled with alcoholic suicides. When the CBR races take off, they do so under a big inflatable banner that makes you feel like you’re special and not some dork in his underwear about to fall on his head fighting for a candy bar prime.

But most importantly, the CBR crit series is like a necessary encounter with a proctologist’s latex finger: Smooth, unpleasant, and over quickly. That’s crit racing, folks, so get used to it. Of course it is vastly superior to a 2km ITT where a pair of 70+ gentlemen fight for a world chumpionship jersey so that they can put rainbow stripes on their business cards and compare their exploits to Peter Sagan.

Go ahead and register now!

The CBR crit series is a lot of fun and I plan to be at all of them; I did a bunch last year, and the year before, and the year before … Now that I’m in the RFO (really fuggin’ old) category of 55+, it means that I can race three races all before noon, which is good, because in this category anything that happens after twelve gets hunted down and killed by my mid-day nap. But there are a lot of other great reasons to race the CBR series, for example:

  1. You’re supporting people who are doing their damndest to keep a niche, weird, socially awkward sport alive, and it’s cheaper than rehab.
  2. Bike racing is fun as hell when you’re not crashing, getting dropped, getting chopped, giving up, or having all your hair fall out and testes shrink down to green pea-size nuggets because of the steroids.
  3. Although losing sucks, and losing is basically all you’ll ever do at a bike race, the odds are better than PowerBall.
  4. Jeff and Kris have a cool podium you can stand on when you win (See #3).
  5. Madcap announcers Dave Wells and David “Raining Meatballs” Worthington are more fun to listen to than a drunk family squabble over who gets to eat the last Eskimo Pie.
  6. You can’t be a bike racer if you don’t race yer fuggin’ bike.

Especially, especially, especially #6. See you there.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

Here comes the Hun

January 16, 2018 Comments Off on Here comes the Hun

There is a nasty part of every day recently, and by recently I mean since about 2011, when it dawns on me that I have to sit down at the computer and write something that will offend enough people to get them to read the first paragraph, but not so many that I will be beaten to a pulp the next time I show up at a bike race or group ride or social mixer, raging inside at not being able to douse my soul in suds but insanely proud at resisting the call of the demon drink, like water torture infused with cocaine.

Today I pretty much knew what I was going to write about, which is a way of saying I had no fucking idea what I was going to write about because I am possessed by a mean bastard who waits until I hammer out the slug and then rips up the rails and sends me down a blind, bleeding, raucous, raw rabbit hole filled with mines, razors, concertina wire, and chocolate. I can handle everything except the fucking chocolate.

It was a simple story, really, about a bike racer whose nickname is “the Hun” not because he is an invading, one-man-horde of death and ruination, but because he is a Magyar, an Eastern European man born and raised in the Kingdom of Hungary, from whence the Huns originally were spawned and issued forth to ransack, pillage, burn, and upturn the citadel of Rome before giving into the weather, the art, the women, the boys, the poetry, and the wine, especially the wine, which, once hooked upon, turned them into the same soft and easily eaten cronuts of the emperors they’d only recently disemboweled and whose heads they’d set tastefully on bloody pikes.

I was going to talk about Attila the Hun and what a badass he is, and it was going to be complimentary and kind and a gentle revelation of a decent father and son, but what is the fun in that? Who wants a fucking fairy tale on the eve of MLK Day, when our Racist-in-Chief is celebrating the enslavement of a race by whacking golf balls, way over par and tipped in at the last minute by his lying henchmen who have stolen our national wealth and sold our fake democracy to the Russians? Who wants a happy ending, well, everyone who hasn’t been to China recently, I guess, and hasn’t seen that the iron fist of George Orwell has been increased 5,000% in size through daily workouts at Gold’s Gym and clothed in lululemon yoga gloves to make the rusty nails protruding from the knuckles look sexier, that’s who.

So, no happy story with a pretty ending for you today. It’s Tuesday and the job is in full meatgrinder mode, and even if you can’t keep your fingers clear, try not to stick your tongue into it.

This morning’s Tuesday Horror Story started on Sunday at noon at Telo, the world’s worst training crit ever. Even if you like wind and pain, even if you get wet and weak inside when you think about having someone stand on your left eye, nah, even then it was a shitty day. The whole idea behind moving Telo from Tuesday to Sunday was a stupid idea; “On Sunday there’s no traffic,” “We need a training crit between January and March, when Telo is SUPPOSED to start up,” and the dumbest fucking lie ever told, “It will be fun.”

Newsflash: Bike racing isn’t fun unless you’re doing the fake old supermaster jagoff World Championship 70+ ITT where you compete against one other idiot so that you can scurry home and brag that:

a. I’M A WORLD CHAMPION JUST LIKE PETER SAGAN and

b. I’M GOING TO PUT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STRIPES ON MY BUSINESS CARDS

For everyone else, bike racing is a nasty, painful, disappointing, sadistic exercise in masochism and deflation and delusion that runs aground on physics, physiology, and mental decrepitude, and nowhere are the shoals as sharp and shark-ridden as Telo.

On Sunday it was a horrible contingent of actual bike racers. Not fake-fuck posers who buy all the fancy shit and wear all the fancy clothes and wouldn’t get near a number and a safety pin for all the trinkets on Strava, but actual people who raced actual bikes against actual other people for no other reason than the misery and disappointment of physical and mental collapse.

Prime among this tribe of angry people was Attila (his real name), “the Hun,” (not). With a paltry field, we started, took the first lap easy, and began attacking. After thirty-five minutes everyone was ready to call it a day, a week, a lifetime, anything but “not over,” yet for all that it was not over. Jon Davy seized the exhausted moment, kicked it hard in its tender private parts, and Attila followed. By then the minuscule field of a dozen had dwindled to six, with various collapsed and beaten competitors doing lackluster laps, randomly hopping in and out, unsure why they were there or what they were doing.

Dog knows I don’t know.

After a couple more laps Derek Brauch sprang free, Greg Leibert followed, and as I waited for Josh Alverson to do something, anything, they rode away and that was that. Derek was finally dumped, Greg bridged to Jon and Attila, and they took turns attacking Jon. Attila got free and soloed for an ugly win, not as ugly as the wreckage and destruction that the Huns had visited on Rome, but close.

Afterwards everyone sat around in the heat, dehydrated, sunstroked, in shock at having done something so hard and stupid when, for a mere $45, we could have spent six hours on I-10 doing a real 60-minute race in Ontario with racers who were not only more real than we but also way smarter. The Hun didn’t care. As he has done so many times past, in road races and in crits, he came, he smashed, he won ten dollars and a loaf of bread, and he went home happy, the skins and heads of his victims stapled to his jerkin.

No one is sure if Sunday Telo will ever happen again. I hope it doesn’t. But in the meantime, the demon has let me out of his clutches and this particular post is done.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

Bike rule breaking

January 14, 2018 Comments Off on Bike rule breaking

Steve Tilford had a great list of 101 Bike Racing Rules. I liked them so much that I hand wrote them out and taped them to my top tube. People would ask what they were and I would tell them. Interested, they would read, and they would be disappointed.

“Everyone knows that!”

Or “Duh.”

Or “If you have to write those down you’ve lost before you’ve even started.”

I maintain that if you can consistently do even the first five of Steve’s bike racing rules you are going to win a race. And they are damned hard to do. Why? I’ll tell you why.

1) Never be in the front pulling for no reason. This is the single most important bike racing rule there is. It’s hard not to be on the front if you have the legs to win a race because you want to show you have the legs, first. Second, if you have good legs you will usually be towards the front, and as people start to fry and as moves start to happen, you will wind up on the front. Third, showboating. How awesomely fun is that? Fourth, some people get on the front and just love to hammer. Until they fry. And are dropped, or miss the move, or quit, or flat just get beaten.

2) Always know which direction the wind is coming from. First, wind directions change. Second, you tend to do what others do, and especially in cross winds some riders will echelon wrong. Third, often the wind isn’t that strong and you expose yourself on the sides thinking it’s not that bad. Guess what? When other riders aren’t taking the wind, it really is that bad and you’ll pay for it shortly.

3) Know the course. Understand the layout, the start, the finish, and picture where the strategic points, hills, and wind direction occur. First, when you’re excited you are worried about your 100% carbon wheels that are full carbon and whether your number is pinned on right and whether everyone notices your trick new tubulars. Second, even on the same course that you’ve done a million times, the strategic points change due to wind, temperature, field size, and especially field composition, so you tend to take your course knowledge for granted and fail to reanalyze. Third, even if you think the course through, after a few laps you tend to stop. The great racers reevaluate the course ever single turn, every single lap, using these bike racing rules to come in ahead of you.

4) Constantly ask yourself if you’re in the right position. Positioning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, especially at the end. It’s a race, remember? First, people often don’t know where the right position is because they haven’t spent time on #3. Second, positioning takes constant attentiveness; going in circles dulls you into complacency. Third, often the best position requires fighting to get there and even more fighting to hold it.

5) Know when to do a single pace line and when to ride a double echelon. First, you tend to do what everyone else does. Second, you don’t practice either very much. Third, you’re in the rear clump of the peloton where there is only clumping, not pacelining.

6) Don’t shout at other riders telling them what to do. It just pisses them off and makes them want you not to do well, and it gives them crucial information that they will use to beat you. First, nervous energy. Second, anger issues. Third, fear. Fourth, shouting is fun.

7) Don’t look back to see what’s going on behind you. First, the fear of getting caught. Second, uncertainty about whether your move was a good one. Third, lack of commitment.

8) Don’t show off in races. Races are judged by who crosses the line first. First, showboating is the best and therefore the hardest not to do. Period.

9) Always observe and rate the guys you’re racing against. First, you tend to assume that people you know are always the same from race to race. They aren’t; fitness and doping regimens change! Second, you tend to gloss over the top guys and focus on the ones you’ve beaten before because it’s kind of a bummer to look at Charon’s legs and realize you couldn’t beat him with a motor.

10) Know where the finish line is and where you plan to sprint from. First, most racers never intend to sprint. Second, it’s hard to plan the end from the middle or the beginning, and stick to it. Third, self doubt.

Steve spent a lifetime coming up with these bike racing rules. They work!

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Racing category at Cycling in the South Bay.