Rapha severs ties with Team Sky, cites “Market saturation”

November 5, 2015 § 24 Comments

Rapha announced today that it would end its partnership with Team Sky at the end of 2016. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Chauncy Chalmers, CEO of Rapha, to talk about the divorce.

CitSB: What was it? Irreconcilable differences?

Chauncy: Oh, far from it. We’ve both benefited immensely from the partnership and are leaving on the best of terms. We plan to remain friends, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without Team SKY.

CitSB: And where are you today?

Chauncy: We are the dominant player in the pretentious bicycle clothing market. $345 for a pink plastic vest. See? We OWN it.

CitSB: Yes, but there’s more to your success than that, isn’t there? Rapha is regarded as one of the best fitting, most superbly designed clothing manufacturers in the bike industry, combining the understated English qualities of Savile Row with the hardman exploits of volcano dopers. That’s what they say over at Red Kite Prayer, anyway.

Chauncy: Don’t believe everything you read; that guy was nominated for Wanker of the Year. Our stuff is made by the same underpaid Chinese garment workers as every other label. And get this–the average Chinese worker makes $19.81 per day, just under $2.50 an hour. Pretty sweet mark-up, I’d say.

CitSB: Schweet, for sho. So why the break-up with SKY? Seemed like a match made in heaven. Pretentious British label hawked by marginal gains volcano dopers with funny accents that sound vaguely aristocratic to the untrained American ear, which can’t distinguish between the Queen’s English, Ozzie Jibberjabber, and Pig Latin.

Chauncy: Yes, the American market is what we’ve always referred to as “gullible.” And it certainly has paid the bills.

CitSB: So why the breakup? Faux English tailored cycling kits with a vaguely 70’s design in updated 21st Century Pink; volcano dopers who talk funny and millions of tubby Americans who think Rapha’s been around since Eddy Merckx.

Chauncy: The market is saturated.

CitSB: How can that be? There are ten new baby seals on the NPR every week, ripe for clubbing and for new Rapha kits and for 100% full carbon parts made of pure carbon. It’s only just begun!

Chauncy: Our market research shows that with the exception of New York, Los Angeles, and parts of North County San Diego, the pretentious asshole demographic is saturated and shrinking.

CitSB: Impossible.

Chauncy: It’s true. Most people who ride bicycles aren’t snobby twits who crave approval by being treated rudely and looked down on. What’s worse, most people who ride bicycles don’t really care what their bicycle clothing looks like.

CitSB: Blasphemy! How do you know that?

Chauncy: We took our team of designers to the Tour of Palm Springs last year to examine the market first hand. Three of our designers are still in therapy. It gets worse. We randomly sampled riders, asking them if they liked Wiggins better than Froome. The answer blew our mind.

CitSB: What did they say?

Chauncy: They all said the same thing: “Who?”

CitSB: Shocking. And so you’ve pulled the plug. What’s Team SKY going to be wearing for 2017 then?

Chauncy: It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it off the record.

CitSB: You can trust me.

Chauncy: They’ve hired one of your local guys here in LA to do their kits. Apparently one of the designs here has really caught their fancy.

CitSB: Which one is that?

Chauncy: Big Purple, or Orange, or something.

CitSB: Big Orange?

Chauncy: Yes, that’s the one. You know them? They must have a pretty understated look to catch Team SKY’s eye.

CitSB: Nope. Never heard of ’em.




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The right way

November 4, 2015 § 20 Comments

The path of truth is straight, but lined with razors and thorns.

Reading about George Hincapie got me thinking about Steve Tilford. You couldn’t pick two people who are more different. One is quiet, dishonest, and makes his living on the back of ill-gotten gains that he earned through a career of cheating.

The other is garrulous, honest, and makes his living by playing fair and giving it his all. I’ve been meaning to do a write-up of Steve’s visit to the South Bay a few weeks ago, when he flew in from Kansas to give the keynote speech at the 3rd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards.

Copyright Phil Beckman, PB Creative. Used with permission.

Copyright Phil Beckman, PB Creative. Used with permission.

But I haven’t been able to do it because each time I sat down to type, the job seemed too immense. This evening it seems even more impossible, and not just because there’s a pot of Cajun beans and pork bubbling on the stove, infusing the room with a smell that screams “Eat me now!” without pause.

Big job or not, here goes.

Steve flew out and we met him at the Hotel Shade in Manhattan Beach. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve ridden with lots of pros and cycling icons, and for the most part they are really disappointing in terms of personality. Something about endless miles seems to make the top tier of riders mute, or stupid, or bland, or some tasteless combination of all three.

Not Steve. From the minute we started pedaling, he was talking. Friendly, funny, and more stories than you could ever remember. Riding next to him was like leaping off into a bottomless pool of anecdotes and cycling history. If we had been expecting a bitter old curmudgeon, we would have been sadly surprised. As Steve said, “I’m not anti-doping, I’m pro-cycling. And that means I reject cheating in all its forms.”

Surrounded by us, the clueless clods of the South Bay, Steve never missed a beat, never looked down his nose at anybody, and politely followed the etiquette of the ride–an etiquette that ended with him stomping the collective dicks of some of SoCal’s strongest riders. Smiling, game for a hard ride, happy to cruise, he made us all feel like champions even though the real champion was he.

It’s impressive to watch great athletes do their thing, but the beauty of cycling is that you can sometimes participate, however briefly, in the performance. Finishing a hundred yards back from Steve the first time up to the Domes and right behind him the second time was better than any masters race, even though he was obviously going at quarter-throttle. Later in the ride, when he pulled out the stops going up Via Zumaya, no one could hold his wheel. No one. And where we were all wrecked after the ride, he had coffee and then went out for another “easy” 30 miles.

But his athletic performance was nothing compared to his keynote speech at our award ceremony. He literally graced us with his presence, speaking with conviction, with passion, with honesty, and with hail-fellow-well-met good cheer that turned a special night into an unforgettable one. Sincere, funny, and happy to hang out with the crowd after speaking and knock back a few beers … this is what every champion should be, but hardly any of them are.

The path of truth may be a hard one, but seeing people like Steve Tilford should give everyone hope and inspiration that it’s not simply a path we can take, but one that we should.

Brazilian wax. Or San Diego.

November 3, 2015 § 33 Comments

I went down to San Diego last Tuesday to get my legs plucked off by Ryan Dahl, among others. While we were sitting in the coffee shop waiting for the plucking to begin, we chatted a bit because once the ride starts the only conversations you’ll ever hear go like this.

“Hey, Bill.”

“Hey, Sam.”

“How’s it going?”

“Good. You?”


Ryan and I had been teammates on SPY, which is like me saying that I was teammates with Tom Brady because I bought a Patriots jersey. [Note: I had to close my eyes and strain for thirty seconds to come up with the name of a single famous football player who isn’t named Earl Campbell, and then another ten seconds of scrunched up forehead to remember Brady’s team.]

I had seen Ryan wearing a new kit called “Wend,” and had seen on the ‘Bag that he had a new bike shop called Wend, except from the Facegag pictures it didn’t look like one.

“So what is ‘Wend’?” I asked. “Facebag says it’s a bike shop but it looks like a candle factory.”

Ryan laughed. “No, it’s actually not a bike shop or a candle factory.”

“What is it?”

“It’s the family business. Wend has been making ski and snowboard specialty waxes for over forty years.”

“Then why were there a bunch of bikes turned upside down?”

“It’s a sideline I’ve gone into.”

“Upside down bike waxing?”

“Sort of. Do you know about using paraffin to lube your chain?”

Unfortunately, I did. The week before Fukdude had set the 40-y/o hour record at the Carson velodrome, he had given me a lecture about chain waxing. This was three years ago, and you had to send the chain(s) to a guy in Colorado who dipped them in paraffin and sent them back all waxed up.

“What the fuck for?” I asked Fukdude.

“Dude,” said Fukdude, “you fuckin’ dip your chain in and it saves 1.5 watts per mile. Fuckin’ glides over the teeth like a lubed condom.”

“How much does it cost for those 1.5 watts?”

“About $25 a dip.”

“How long does it last?”

“About 200 miles.”

“Ouch,” I said.

“I know. Fukkin’ expensive shit,” said Fukdude. “But I’m not gonna set up a fuckin’ crock pot in my bathroom and fuckin’ boil wax before every ride. Wife thinks the whole fuckin’ bike thing is fuckin’ crazy as it is.”

I relayed this to Ryan, who laughed. “We’ve kind of solved that problem. Let me send you a sample.”

The next day, after getting a new pair of legs at Legs ‘R Us, a package arrived. In it was a bottle of cleaner and a bar of roll-on underarm deodorant. I pulled off the cap and saw that it was actually wax.

Cool Wend socks!

Cool Wend socks!

Cool Wend rag!

Cool Wend shop rag!

Chain cleaner stuff!

Chain cleaner stuff!

Wax-on (I also tried it as deodorant and it was awesome.)

Wax-on (I also tried it as deodorant and it was awesome.)

GQ6 recovery drink.

GQ6 recovery drink photo on my iPhone 2 (gonna upgrade to 3 any day now).

Something I found on the table for Mrs. WM.

Something I found on the table for Mrs. WM.

Ryan had also sent a link to a YouTube video showing how to clean the chain and apply the wax. Apparently the whole process would take less than two minutes.

Calculating my usual ten-thumbs factor, I set aside four hours in the morning to get the job done, and another two hours I’d likely need to clean the wax from the sofa, toilet seat, paper shredder, and nose hair trimmer. Amazingly, the whole thing took less than two minutes, which is a lot less than it takes to kill the smell of my armpits:

  1. Wipe the chain.
  2. Roll the wax on the chain, just like you roll it on your armpit.
  3. Voila, your chain is now waxed.

I’ve ridden it twice now. My normally nasty and noisy chain is quieter than a Scientologist stalking a confused college freshman. This stuff is amazing. Plus, on my first Wend wax ride I almost beat Derek going up the Switchbacks.

No more lube for me, and after you use this stuff, it’ll be no more lube for you, either.



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In George’s words

November 2, 2015 § 27 Comments

Craig Hummer’s book, The Loyal Lieutenant, does a great job of revealing the character of George Hincapie. The book is filled with quotes by Lance Armstrong, Jonathan Vaughters, Frankie Andreu, Christian Vande Velde, Michael Barry, and Jim Ochowitz to name a few.

So what kind of guy was silent, loyal, smiling George?

“When we as a group made that decision to play ball, George and I, along with the others on the team, crossed over that threshold together.” Lance Armstrong, who wrote the Foreword to the book.

“I honestly felt I would never have to deal with my drug use.” George Hincapie.

“Milan-San Remo ended up being the final straw where [a number of us] decided we’d do it.” Lance Armstrong.

“I couldn’t compete on a level playing field without some assistance.” George Hincapie.

“I felt it was my only choice.” George Hincapie.

“I didn’t reach these decisions without careful consideration.” George Hincapie.

“I could tell from his tone and his protestations, that he’d already taken the infamous step, and that moment produced an epiphany for me. I had to do the same.” George Hincapie.

“Back then, those seemed like the only choices.” George Hincapie.

“I don’t have a choice. We have to do it to survive. Everybody’s doing it now. I don’t have a choice.” Frankie Andreu.

“I felt a little guilty.” George Hincapie.

“The thought of cheating never crossed my mind.” George Hincapie.

“I couldn’t make eye contact as I told them it wasn’t mine.” George Hincapie.

“I nervously asked for the drug.” George Hincapie.

“I exited the bathroom a changed man. I felt completely at peace.” George Hincapie.

“I also felt proud that I’d committed to the next level.” George Hincapie.

“I always tried to take the bare minimum.” George Hincapie.

“Where other teams had been good at simply cheating, we strived to be better at being professional in all aspects as required to win the Tour.” George Hincapie.

“I didn’t take any EPO that Tour because I started with a high hematocrit, or red blood cell count (my mother suffers from polycythemia vera).” George Hincapie.

“What also made Jonathan different, however, was that he was actively searching for new and better ways to dope.” George Hincapie.

“From a self-preservation standpoint, I felt it was important to know if there were any side effects.” Jonathan Vaughters.

“The biggest result of the 1999 Tour was that we started the gradual process of teaching a new generation of Americans about the sport, what it entailed, and what it took to make Lance the best.” George Hincapie.



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Presidential bicycle candidates

October 30, 2015 § 15 Comments

If you ride bicycles a lot you don’t have time to do things like vote, especially since all your time off the bike is spent playing fantasy football. However, you may have heard that we’re about to elect a non-cyclist as president, which basically means that you don’t have a way of evaluating a candidate for our nation’s highest office, i.e. “What’s the dude’s FTP?”

So even though we don’t have any bikers on the slate, which means we’ll spend more trillions on killing people and buying $35 billion airplanes that don’t work and fighting over whether it’s worse to have no health insurance or to pay to have bad insurance instead of spending $1 trillion on cool policies like “a carbon wheelset made of 100% full carbon in every pot.”

This doesn’t mean that the candidates have been silent on cycling, so I’ve ranked them for you based on their cycling politics. The higher the ranking the more deserving they are of your vote.

1. Donald Trump. Sponsored an actual bike race to the tune of $750k, the Tour de Trump, which he named after a handsome, sexy, clever guy who actually said,  “This is an event that can be tremendous in the future, and it can really, very much rival the Tour de France.” Trump lost a few points in the Wanky Presidential Poll when he attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for falling off his bicycle and breaking a leg in a “race,” when in fact was simply a Fredathon. Had he gotten his facts straight and called Kerry out for being a Fred, he’d get our vote for Galactic Emperor.


2. Martin O’Malley. Super stud photo on MTB, but demerits for riding it in jeans and keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Although not as strong an advocate as fish cyclist Sarah Palin, O’Malley gave $44,500 dollars to a Baltimore bike safety program. “Whether for tourism, recreation, exercise or commuting, our message is that Maryland roadways welcome bicyclists,” O’Malley said in a press release. “Our state is evolving to include bicycling as a more environmentally beneficial and healthy way of commuting, and to continue those efforts we need bicyclists and drivers to know and follow the basic rules of the road for everyone’s safety.”


3. Hillary Clinton. Rode a bicycle with her husband on the beach and never told him to slow down, complained about her sore crotch, or asked him “if cycling will make my butt look big.” (He reportedly answered, “Yes, but it will make the rest of you skinny,” just before he was rushed to the hospital for some emergency dental work.)


4. Barack Obama. Best bicycle president ever after George Bush. Ineligible for a third term, Obama, despite amazingly dorky bike outfit, shows that you can have your finger on the nuclear button AND your feet on the pedals at the same time. Note nuke-carrying bar attached to seat post for dragging the suitcase around on shopping errands, which is boss.


5. Marco Rubio. Jumped on a bike in full Fred mode and rode at the front of a pack of weaving, swaying, out of control wankers. Obviously, going to the front makes Marco a potential presidential winner, period, and if he’d just worn a pair of stretchy shorts that highlighted his bagels and bone and hadn’t insisted on riding on the top tube, we’d start playing “Hail to the Chief” right now.


6. Jeb Bush. The field gets pretty thin after Marco, and to his discredit the portly Jeb has never said or done anything related to bicycles. However, his brother, a former president, is unquestionably the greatest leader America has ever had. He not only rode an MTB, shelled the secret service wankers whose job it was to protect him, fell off his bicycle and chipped his face before a big meeting, but he invited Lance to the White House just so he could beat the shit out of him on some singletrack. I believe in guilt by association, so the Jebster ranks despite his terrible cycling resume.


7. Rand Paul. Now we’re deep into douchebag territory. Once called the most interesting man in American politics by Time magazine, which proves that Time’s writers will say anything, Paul went on a harangue against highway enhancement funds for bike paths. So far so good, since eliminating all bike paths and making cyclists ride their bikes in the streets where they FUCKING BELONG is something I totally agree with, but he fell off the rails when he equated bicycle infrastructure with “turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries.” Anyone who would insult turtles by comparing their needs to cyclists’ will never get my vote.

8. Sarah Palin. Although America’s dumbest politician hasn’t thrown her bra in the ring yet, Palin gets an honorable mention for her famous quote that “I need NOW’s defense like a fish needs a bicycle,” after Bill Maher called her a “dumb twat” and the National Organization of Women came to her defense. Palin’s advocacy for bicycling fish, however admirable, wasn’t strong enough to get her any higher in the rankings as she hasn’t yet officially declared. palin_harley

9. Bernie Sanders. One of our biggest disappointments. Bernie, who believes in “enough for all,” who thinks education and health care are more important than war and guns for toddlers, who supports a living wage, who believes the environment is the leading issue of our time, and who thinks that diplomacy must involve negotiation rather than kneejerk war, doesn’t have a single Internet photo of him riding a bike. What’s worse, the only thing even approximating Bernie on a bike is him standing at an outdoor barbecue with a bike in the foreground. Shame on you, Bernie! If you ain’t ridin’ you’re hidin’!


10. Rick Santorum. Makes the list because he hates bike paths along with Rand Paul. Santorum’s jab at cycling came in a 2011 Sac City, Iowa speech: “There’s no federal interest in bicycle paths. Is that a federal government responsibility? It is not.” He added “Local money should be spent on local projects.” Santorum’s anti-bike rhetoric was especially meaningful to the denizens of Sac City, which was named a RAGBRAI stop in 2012.



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Something to love about Mark Zuckerberg. Finally.

October 29, 2015 § 14 Comments

When the Great History of Bad People is written, Mark Zuckerberg will get a chapter, if not his own page. The hypocrisy of making billions by scraping people’s personal information via social media while fanatically protecting his own private life is terrible, let alone his bare knuckled and successful assault on the mostly dead U.S. right of privacy. The unfettered access that business and government has to us all the time is in large part thanks to him.

Bad Mark Zuckerberg. Bad, bad, bad Mark Zuckerberg.

And then Mark exploded last year on the stage at Tsinghua University, dazzling the crowd with his beginning Chinese in a performance that recalled a spoiled child mangling a novice piano piece for the indulgent relatives. Zuckerberg was so pleased with himself in this performance, and so doted upon by his audience, that to the non-Chinese speaker you might actually think he sounded good.

Alas, he doesn’t. His raw combination of misplaced confidence, horrible pronunciation, and supreme pride at being able to butcher a simple conversation, most of which had been thoroughly rehearsed, shows the gaping cultural chasm between America and China. When Jack Ma of Alibaba speaks in perfect English, no one bats an eye. How the hell else are you gonna make money here if you can’t speak English? When Harvard drop-out Zuckerberg hacks elementary Chinese to pieces with a claw hammer, the audience cheers and acts like they’ve been given a golden calf, or treated to the most amazing mental wizardry since Einstein figured out the universe.

Surfing the Jaws of his Chinese debut, Mark grabbed the rail and dropped deep into the hole a couple of days ago when he doubled down, giving a full-length speech, again at Tsinghua and again in Chinese. This time the pronunciation was still horrible, the overweening pride was still oozing out of his pallid face, and the sad picture of a billionaire practicing Chinese on a forced audience was still there.

But …

The content was deeper. The fluency was greater. And this time the gap between confidence and ability, though massive, was much less than his first foray.

All of this is part of Zuckerberg’s charm offensive to try and get Facebook out from behind the Great Firewall of China. In addition to stomping through the Chinese language with heavy steps, he met with President Xi Jinping and made the horrendous cultural gaffe of asking him to suggest a name for Zuckerberg’s first child. Xi declined, and hopefully someone advised Mark that asking the most powerful man in the world to name your kid is like asking the top surgeon giving a speech at a conference to please take a look at this funny lump you have growing on your butthole.

But …

Despite the bad pronunciation, and despite the naked self interest, and despite the bold faced lie of wanting to learn Chinese so he could “communicate with his wife’s grandmother”–which sounds lots nicer than “I want to scrape the shit out of Chinese computer users’ data and make billions there, too,”–despite all that, Mark has struck a blow for America in the 21st Century. We finally have the CEO of a big ass company who believes that the best weapon for business is actually understanding the target market in its language, in the context of its culture, and meeting the competitive challenges by putting himself in their shoes, and understanding it from the very top of the corporate hierarchy.

Because that’s what speaking in a foreign language does. Zuckerberg may have looked and sounded foolish at times, but you know what? He also looked incredibly nervous and exposed and vulnerable. It was the most intimate view of him you’ll ever have. You could even say that he pissed away all his privacy protections in a pair of twenty-minute videos. He was up there naked. Anyone who’s tried to fumble a few phrases of French to an impatient Parisian waiter knows that when you’re speaking their language YOU’RE ON THEIR TURF.

You think public speaking is hard? Try it in a foreign language that you’re not very good at in front of a global audience. The criticisms poured in, of course, how could they not? “Glad there were English subtitles for his Chinese,” wrote one Chinese commentator. Well, fuck those commentators. Zuckerberg will never be anywhere close to native pronunciation, but so what? He already knows more about China and the Chinese with five years of language study than many entire U.S. corporations who are actively seeking to do business in China.

The rest of the world takes it as a given that if they want to compete in the U.S. market they must master English first. As a result, not only has the world mastered English, it has mastered us. We still send out ambassadors who can’t speak the language of the country they’re assigned to, we still have military brass running wars in the Middle East for more than a decade who can’t speak any version of Arabic, and we still have presidents whose sum total of fluently spoken languages is one, and if Trump gets elected, it will be zero.

Whatever else Zuckerberg is, he’s a realist, and he’s exposed the lie that “Everyone speaks English” so commonly used by lazy Americans to avoid doing the heavy lifting that’s required if you really want to have a chance in war, business, politics, or diplomacy. When the guy at the top is a monolingual clod, so is the organization. He’s put himself out there, arrogant, self-satisfied, and shrewdly manipulative perhaps, but he’s clearly doing the hard work that it takes to speak a foreign language, hard work whether you’re trying to give a speech in Mexico City or in Beijing–and he’s offering himself up to a billion Chinese critics, each one of whom is supremely qualified to tear his language skills apart.

The beauty of it is, of course, that they don’t. People appreciate it when you make the effort, and they respect the hell out of the courage it takes to speak in public in a foreign language. Mark may scramble his tones, but the only message he really cares about is coming across loud and clear: YOU MATTER TO ME.

Hats off to the sorry-assed scoundrel. In this regard at least, I wish him the very best, and hope that more Americans in every walk of life follow his lead.


Uphill better

October 28, 2015 § 25 Comments

I’ve been climbing better this year than at any time since, well, a long time ago. A good friend asked me why. “Sobriety?” he wondered.

Keep in mind that “climbing better” doesn’t mean much in the big picture. I’m still an aged, hairy legged flailer who’s easily dispatched by the real climbers. Still, finishing with the leaders over and over on the Donut Ride’s big climb is an improvement by orders of magnitude, especially when it has occasionally involved whipping people 25 years my junior who I’ve never out-climbed before.

So I thought about it and here’s what I’ve concluded.

  1. Sobriety. Basically, the outcome of not drinking has been non-drastic weight reduction and, what’s even more important, weight maintenance. In the past I always found that losing weight was fairly easy, but maintaining it was impossible. I’ve averaged 150 lbs. per month since March, down from 167-170 in November when I had my last drink. Training and racing at the new weight has made it the “new normal,” and sobriety makes it easier to get back on track after a couple of extra trips down the buffet line. Sobriety also excises out all of the gratuitous eating that goes along with being slobber drunk. I no longer have to diet or count calories, I eat three solid meals a day, and I quit when I’m full.
  1. Climbing on the drops. I’ve been developing this technique a-la Pantani and Leibert for two years. It has increased my power significantly on the climbs, perhaps 10%? Maybe more? And since I’m on the drops I don’t get much in the way of an air drag penalty, which you do when you climb on the hoods. Drop climbing allows me to use my arms, shoulders, and back to supplement my legs and give them a bit of a break. Drop climbing also gives me acceleration uphill when trying to catch attacks. If you have a power meter, which I don’t, it would be interesting to see what your power output looks like drop climbing vs. seated climbing vs. climbing out of the saddle on the hoods. I can now climb on the drops for up to 30 minutes without sitting.
  1. Following wheels and sitting in. I’ve spent 30 years dragging my butt to the front and thrashing around with lots of riders on my wheel only to fall off the pace early. I watched a certain shirking wheelsucker this morning in San Diego and was impressed with how he’s always on a wheel, never in the wind, and seems to always be with the leaders. I’m trying to ride more like him, especially on climbs when the difference between getting shelled and making the split last year in Punchbowl and Castaic was only a handful of pedal strokes.
  1. Showing up for climbing rides fully rested. I ride better fresh than stale and have finally made rest an integral slice of the performance pie. It’s as important as intervals, and given my age, probably even more so. The biggest part of rest has meant riding less. A lot less. I probably did 5,000 miles last year, maybe not even that much. In previous years, 10k was on the low side. I’m no longer compelled to do hundred-milers, or to ride endlessly for hours to improve my “base,” whatever that is. After 33 years of cycling, if I don’t have enough of a base to do a couple dozen races a year, riding all day on PCH isn’t going to do the trick.
  1. Picking a target. Instead of trying to be first, which I’ll never be, I pick someone who’s marginally better than I am and make it my goal to beat that person. Trying to be No. 1 is too defeating when I’m up against Stathis and Derek and Julien B. every Saturday. Better to pick someone who’s always in the split but who sometimes gets dropped than the guys who can ride me off their wheel at will.
  1. Not going for every summit or sprint point. This fall, with one or two exceptions, I’ve gone full gas to the Domes and soft pedaled the rest of the ride. Better to have one super effort with a satisfying result than a bunch of mediocre ones. More importantly, those full gas efforts followed by slowness keep me out of the dreaded “middle” zone, which I define as too fast to rest but not fast enough to improve.
  1. Golf course intervals. Although it’s not climbing a-la Donut, the Thursday Flog Ride has 5-6 minutes of undulating uphill, repeated six times, and there are not really any races in SoCal with climbs that require more than one or two 6-minute, 100% efforts. I guess I don’t need a Latigo or Deer Creek to improve my climbing capacity. In fact, I’ve concluded that those long, killer climbs actually hurt me since at age 51 it takes days to recover from that type of effort.
  1. Purchasing speed. In 2007 I was still wearing a wool jersey, riding a steel frame, and riding 36-spoke aluminum rims. I now ride a frame that is full carbon and is 100% carbon, with all-carbon 404 Fast Forwards for training, ceramic BB, and super light 100% carbon FFWD climbing wheels for racing that are made of full carbon. Also re: aero: Losing weight has shed a bit of wind resistance. Not a lot, but when I’m clinging to the good climbers it doesn’t take more than a few pedal strokes either way to kick me out the back or keep me attached. Every bit helps.
  1. Not going hard out of the chute. A very good racer told me that most riders aren’t patient because they get too anxious. As a general rule, the longer you wait to hit it hard on a climb–up to a point–the better you’ll do. I practice waiting on the Donut now, except on occasions like last Saturday when, well, I didn’t.
  1. Let the quarry move first. My usual M.O. has always been to attack, then attack again, then attack again. Then attack again. This always sets up other riders to easily drop me because my attacks are too feeble to drop anyone, but intense enough to tire me out. Now on a climb I pick my quarry and wait until he tries to shed me. If he fails, I wait to see if he’ll try again. If he does and can’t, I can usually shed him, and then out of the diminished group choose another “beatable” foe.



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