June 13, 2013 § 27 Comments
You, dude, are a clogstacle.
Look it up, Merriam-Webster’s New Dictionary of American Cycling: “Clogstacle: A bicycle racer who clogs the lane in a finishing sprint, then rapidly decelerates so as to become a deadly obstacle to the real sprinters who are still accelerating to reach maximum speed.”
I can hear it already. “Me? A clogstacle? No way! I’m a sprinter!”
Uh, no, dude, you’re not. Take this handy-dandy (not to be confused with Dandy Andy) quiz and you’ll see what I mean.
YANAS: You Are Not A Sprinter
YAS: You A Sprinter
YUNT: You A Sprunter
YANK: You A Wanker
Step 1: Sprinting Self-Evaluation Quiz
1. You are sitting on Jon Davy’s wheel at 35 mph with the finishing line in sight. You say to yourself:
a. “What am I doing here?” = YANAS
b. “There’s no way I can come around.” = YUNT
c. “Faster, motherfucker!” = YAS
2. You come through the final turn with 500m to go. John Wike is on Ivan Dominguez’s wheel. You want the wheel, so you muscle over onto John. Wike hooks his left elbow under your arm as you lean against him, and says to you in a voice as cold and steely as a sharp knife shoved into a warm belly, “You move one more millimeter and we’re both going down, buddy.” You say —
a. “Sorry, dude.” = YUNT
b. “Eek!” = YANK
c. “See you in hell.” = YAS
3. In a race there is first place and ______.
a. A participation ribbon = YANK
b. A hot contest for 57th = YANAS
c. Nothing else = YAS
4. The crazier the finish, _______.
a. The happier I am to make it home alive = YANAS
b. The more I prefer giving a good lead out = YUNT
c. The better = YAS
5. You’re in a two-up break. The other rider turns to you and says, “How much do you want? My wife and kids are here, this is my biggest race of the season, and I’ve never won before.” You say —
a. “And you won’t today, either, motherfucker.” = YAS
b. “$500, but we’ll have to make it look close.” = YANAS
c. “$5,000, ’cause I haven’t, either.” = YANK
6. You’re in a two-up break. You turn to the other rider and say, “How much do you want? My wife and kids and grandparents and boss are here, this is the biggest race of my life, and I’ve never won before.”
YOU ARE NOT A SPRINTER, PERIOD.
7. You’ve had closed-head and spinal injuries in previous sprint crashes. You’re the sole breadwinner and have five young children. You speed through the final, twisting turn when suddenly Twitchy MacGruder goes sideways and the domino effect starts, with the sprint train on the left starting to brake and rub tires and scream and curse. You can brake and stay upright and still get second place and $500 bucks or you can gun it through a rapidly closing, impossibly tiny window of daylight which, if it slams shut, will send you headfirst into the pavement at 40 mph. The last thing that flashes through your mind is —
a. “Nuh-uh.” = YANAS
b. “My family is too important for this nonsense.” = YANK
c. “I’ve GOT this.” = YAS
8. It’s the bell lap, there’s been a pile-up in front of you, and you’re now 75th wheel with three turns to go. A superhuman effort with balls-out risks will net you a top-ten finish, so you —
a. Give it all you’ve got because it’s a great workout. = YANK
b. Give it all you’ve got because it’s gas money to get home. = YUNT
c. Get off your bike and throw it into a pond. = YAS
9. When someone slams you hard in the middle of a full-on sprint, you —
a. Steady yourself to keep from crashing. = YANAS
b. Slam them back. = YUNT
c. No one ever fucking gets anywhere near you in a sprint and lives to tell about it. = YAS
10. The key to winning sprints is —
a. Core strength and workouts in the gym. = YANAS
b. Having a good lead out train. = YUNT
c. Being crazier than a shithouse rat. = YAS
Step 2: Textbook racing advice for clogstacles
If you took the above quiz and selected any answer other than one that led to “YAS,” you are by definition a clogstacle. And although you will never win a sprint, all is not lost for your cycling career, although, frankly, it pretty much is. Below are some rules for what to do and what not to do now that you know your chance of ever winning a sprint is zero or much less.
Cat 5 Clogstacle Tactics and Strategy
As a Cat 5, every pedalstroke of every turn of every race is fraught with potential carnage. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what you do. Bull your way to the front, or hang onto the tail of the whip, the risk factor is the same. So, on the bell lap, you should go all out no matter where you are in the field. The worst that can happen is permanent debilitating injury or death.
Cat 4-3-2 / Masters Clogstacle Strategy
Now that you’ve left the 5’s, it’s evident that you will never be a sprinter. This means that on the last couple of laps of every crit, your goal is the same: Get home alive, get out of the way, and leave the bike racing to the bike racers. This means you should ease off on the pedaling, drift to the back, and put as much space as possible between yourself and the field. Quitting is fine, too. Below is a list of things you should not do under any circumstances:
1. “Lead out” your teammate. If you’re not good enough to sprint, your pathetic lead-out attempt will get you far enough forward to really gas you, make your head droop, and smash into the curb, endangering everyone else as well as yourself.
2. Go for a podium spot. This is madness. Those spots were reserved long ago by people with last names like Williams, Smith, Bahati, Wike, etc. Go to the back of the bus. Now.
3. Take a flyer. If you were too weak to ride off the front with Tinstman and DeMarchi, why would you suddenly be strong enough to hold off a field charging at 35 with Danny Kam, Tomo Hamasaki, John Slover, and Kenny Rogers driving the train? Answer: You won’t be. What will happen is you’ll get out there, blow, and then become a wobbling, weaving, rapidly decelerating lump that everyone else has to swerve around in the finishing turns.
4. Follow the wheel of anyone named “Charon” with five laps to go. Dude! 85 guys want that wheel, and sixty of them are ex-pros. What are you thinking? Aaron Wimberley will bust you off that wheel with two to go easier than taking a wallet from a corpse.
5. Join a gym. You are wasting money, son. It’s not about the strength in the core, it’s about the craziness in the head. You ever see Johnny Walsh or Aron Gadhia hanging out at a stupid gym? ‘Course not.
6. Ask Bahati for “sprinting tips.” He will tell you everything about sprinting, but you will still suck. When it’s showtime, go to the back and stay there. He’ll respect you for that lots more than crashing out thirty people in a mid-field sprunt where everyone else has sat up and you’re still charging for the line like a bull with his balls in a vise.
Any questions? Good. Now get out of my way. I’m going to win me a sprint on Sunday.
April 28, 2013 § 131 Comments
USA Cycling hates black people.
You think that’s an exaggeration? I don’t. And in fact, it’s hardly surprising. African-Americans have been discriminated against in the sport of cycling since its very inception. The greatest American bike racer of all time, and one of the greatest athletes ever, Major Taylor, was a black man. Virtually every race he ever started began and ended with racial epithets, threats of violence, and race hatred of the worst kind.
Cycling’s hatred of black people was global. When Taylor went to Europe and destroyed the best track racers in the world on their home turf, founder of the Tour de France Henri Desgrange, a noted racist, was so incensed that he refused to pay Taylor’s prize money in banknotes and insisted that he be paid in one-centime pieces.
Taylor quit the sport he dominated because he couldn’t take the relentless racial hatred. He died a pauper.
White people succeed, black people are a threat
The history of most major American sports goes like this: White people create the sport and set up the rules so that black people can’t play. African-Americans begin playing in segregated leagues, and they are so good that some white team somewhere decides it would rather risk the wrath of segregationists than keep losing, so it recruits a star black player.
The black player stomps the snot out of the white players, sets records, and generally blows away the competition. All the while he’s doing this, the athlete deals with death threats, constant harassment, segregated facilities, inferior wages, and grudging acceptance.
Finally, other teams begin recruiting blacks, and the African-American becomes much more highly represented in the professional league than he is as a percentage of the population. White people call this integration. Blacks call it having to be ten times better to get a fraction of the wages and benefits of their white counterparts.
Cycling’s no different
Like NASCAR, competitive cycling remains an extremely white sport in the U.S.A. Unlike stock car racers, though, there are tens of thousands of black recreational cyclists. Cities like Los Angeles have large and thriving African-American cycling clubs and riding groups. But when it comes to competition, there are few black racers compared to the number who ride recreationally.
One reason is likely cost. Unlike baseball, basketball, and football, which either have low equipment costs or are available through the schools, cycling requires kids to purchase expensive equipment that is beyond the reach of most working families.
Another reason is USA Cycling. In addition to having no blacks on its board, the organization does nothing to promote cycling among blacks. To the contrary, it goes out of its way to discourage them and to pass up opportunities to get poor children on bikes.
Remember Nelson Vails?
USA Cycling’s favorite way of passing up opportunities is by ignoring the sport’s black spokesmen. If you started racing in the 1980’s one of the guys you probably admired was Nelson Vails. In addition to his silver medal in the 1984 Olympics, he and Mark Gorski were the dominant track sprinters of their day.
Nowadays Nelson crisscrosses the country marketing his brand of cycling products and participating in “Ride with Nelly” events that bring together black cyclists as well as any others who want to chat and ride with a living legend.
USA Cycling’s interest in working together with Vails, or highlighting his contributions to the sport, or using him as an ambassador to the black community, or working with him to get more inner city kids on bikes? Zero. Vails does it on his own.
Contrast that with the old boy network at USA Cycling, an organization whose board is whiter than a Klansman’s bedsheet, and how it deals with other stars of the 80’s. Jim Ochowicz was head of USA Cycling for four years during Dopestrong’s heyday and as recently as 2012 was saying that Lance Armstrong “earned every victory he’s had” to anyone who would listen.
Mark Gorski worked for USA Cycling as director of corporate development, and Chris Carmichael, another white hero from back in the day, worked for USA Cycling from 1990-1997 as national director of coaching. Carmichael is infamous for the forced injection of drugs into junior national team cyclists, a despicable act that led to litigation and a confidential settlement in 2001.
Nelson Vails? The charismatic, gregarious, friendly Olympic silver medalist who travels year-round promoting cycling all over the USA? Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Why? In my opinion, it’s because he’s black.
Letting black racers know they’re not wanted
This policy of ignoring great black cyclists and turning a blind eye to the development of cycling in the black community isn’t limited to ignoring old heroes. The best black bike racer in cycling today, Rahsaan Bahati, former national champion and perennial force in big national crits, continues to be singled out by USA Cycling because he’s black.
Two years ago Bahati was deliberately crashed out at the Dana Point Grand Prix. The video is breathtaking. After the accident, Bahati slammed his sunglasses to the ground in anger, for which he was fined and suspended. [Update: Readers noted that Bahati actually threw his glasses at the oncoming pack, and later took responsibility for his fine and suspension.]
The rider who crashed him out received no penalty at all, even though the whole thing was on video and is one of the most brazen examples of evil and malicious bike riding you have ever seen. Check the video here if you don’t believe me. Seconds 39-42 are unbelievable, but not as unbelievable as the fact that the rider who got punished was Bahati.
Similarly, at an April race in Florida, a spectator reported Bahati as having caused a crash. USA Cycling suspended him, but not before telling him that he could “appeal” if he paid a $300 fee. As a courtesy, they provided him with the provisional ruling. Hint: After we take your money we’re still going to suspend you. Bahati has now missed three of the most important and potentially lucrative races on his calendar.
Get it? Someone intentionally crashes out the black dude and the black dude gets suspended. Someone reports that the black dude caused a crash, someone not even in the race, and the black dude gets suspended.
Get it? The black dude gets suspended.
The travesty goes beyond the obvious. Bahati is one of the few successful pros of any color who spends significant time and money spreading the cycling gospel. In Milwaukee last year he visited an elementary school to fire up black kids about cycling. USA Cycling, rather than lending a hand, prefers to designate him as Public Enemy.
Race and the local crit
The irony is that black bike racers don’t get into the sport to make a political statement. They do it because they like racing bikes. What’s even more to the point, among local racers in Southern California there’s relatively little racial friction when blacks race with whites, although the Rule of Black still applies: You better be twice as good as your white counterpart if you want their respect.
Respect, of course, is exactly what riders like Justin Williams, Corey Williams, Charon Smith, and Kelly Henderson have earned. Guys like Rome Mubarak in NorCal, and Mike Davis and Pischon Jones in SoCal are just a few of the black bike racers who mix it up in the group rides and races every week, but for every one of them there are a hundred more black cyclists who should be racing and winning.
USA Cycling’s approach to growing the black base? Suspend the most charismatic spokesman and ambassador of fair play in a kangaroo court.
Tell ‘em how you feel
If you think that your voice doesn’t matter, you’re right. If you think it does matter, you’re right.
USA Cycling deserves to know that you find its treatment of Bahati and its failure to support black cycling despicable. Email their CEO, Steve Johnson, at email@example.com with this simple message: “Free Bahati.”
And you can tell him I sent you.
February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m 40 now and thinking about upgrading but am afraid that it will be too hard and I won’t get a lot of podiums in the 3’s like I do now. Should I stay Cat 4 or should I go?
Upgrading is a serious step, and you should carefully weigh the pros and cons before rashly leaving the safety of the 4’s. I’m assuming, of course, that your idea of “safety” is to be surrounded on all sides by crashing idiots who think it’s normal to fall down heavily on the concrete every three or four races. Once you leave the 4’s, it’s a whole new ballgame: think Quidditch + pole dancing. The pressure in the 3’s is immense. You’re surrounded by athletes of the very highest caliber who, like you, have lofty goals. The commitment level is much higher. To really “make it” as a “pro” Cat 3 will require the hard sacrifices that come from hundreds of hours in the gym, 300-400 miles per week on the bike, serious weight loss and nutrition management, a (more expensive) personal coach, fully integrated power training techniques, and the investment in a bike “arsenal” that will allow you to select the optimal $15,000 rig for each race. You’ll also need to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your employer so that he/she knows your new priority is success as a “pro” Cat 3. You’ll have to get your significant other on the same page, too. For a few years, indeed, the foreseeable future, he/she and your children will have to accept that they’ll be seeing less of you. Much less. Which might be a good thing.
I just turned 45 and am really looking forward to racing in the 45+ category. It’s been rough sledding in the 5’s and I’m looking forward to kicking butt in some of those old man races. Any tips?
These races are very easy to win. There is an old fellow named Thurlow Rogers who typically shows up for these races. Just hop on his wheel and do whatever he does. Then at the end, pedal very hard until you go flying past him. You’ll win every race!
Ever since I started racing masters 35+ I can’t seem to frickin win anything. There’s this black dude who wins all the races. What’s up with that? I’m not a racist or anything, but how come he gets to win all the time? Can I downgrade or something? This frickin sucks.
That “black dude” is named Charon Smith. Don’t feel bad. White people can be successful, too. Sometimes. But there are barriers and obstacles they must first overcome. In your case, you must overcome the fact that you are slow and he is fast. For a wanker such as yourself, I recommend a lot of drugs and maybe a leg transplant. Next, you must overcome the fact that he is tough and savvy and you are pussy-ish and stupid. Finally, you must change the fact that you are are usually late for work due to hitting “snooze” four dozen times, whereas he’s usually up at 5:00 a.m. doing workouts in PV, up and down the Switchbacks. Plus you have to stop beating off so much.
I’m considering switching from Oakley’s top of the line Dorkus Buttscratcher frames to SPY Optic’s uber-rad Diablo performance cycling sunglasses. Thoughts?
SPY is to Oakley what Scott Dickson is to a first-time century rider.
I want to upgrade to Cat 2 so I can race against that Bahati guy. I’ve heard he’s not really that fast.
You don’t need to upgrade to test your legs against Rahsaan. Just show up on the Pier Ride and let him feel the sting of your Cat 3 legs. And you’re right. He’s not really that fast. He can be easily beaten by almost any stock unmodified motorcycle.
December 4, 2011 § 7 Comments
7:50 p.m.: Air up brand new Continental Hardshell bulletproof tires. Marvel at how beautiful and new and un-flattable they look. Fill water bottle. Charge Garmin. Lube chain.
8:28 p.m.: Go to bed.
1:00 a.m.: Wake up and wonder when it’s going to be 5:30.
5:30 a.m.: Why the fuck is it 5:30 a.m. already?
5:35 a.m.: Slather on Mad Alchemy embro. Fumes make me gag and wake up the old lady. Old lady highly unhappy. Says to “get that smelly crap out of the bedroom.” Accidentally get a dab on the chamois and dance around for a few minutes until I can wipe it off with soap and cold water. Hoo-hah. Wide awake now, yes, sir!
5:45 a.m.: First hot bolt of coffee begins coursing through Wankmeister’s veins. Oh, yeah! Where’s my testosterone gel and super-oxygenated blood bag with IV needle?
6:00 a.m.: Make list of excuses for upcoming flail. 1–Rode too far the day before (117 miles, 4k feet of vertical). 2–It’s the off season and I’m still in build mode. 3–Don’t want to whip everyone on their home turf and make enemies.
6:30 a.m.: Begin drive to Tustin Market Place. Stylin in the Prius Pimpmobile with the scarface gash on the right door so they know I’m for real and don’t give a rat’s ass about purdy. Uh-huh.
7:25 a.m.: Arrive at Tustin Market Place. “The ride starts at Tustin Market Place” is about as precise a location as “the ride starts in Texas.” This place is huge. All this asphalt just so OC bimbos can buy shoes and edible thongs. Jeez, what a waste. Well, the shoes anyway.
7:30 a.m.: Spy a few SUV’s with open rear cargo doors parked in the corner of a lot. That smells like cyclists. Drive over and confirm; it’s the Monster Media team. Goodness. Those gentlemen look fit. And tan. And ready to rumble. Feel a bit of quakey bowels.
7:35 a.m.: Hit the Panera for another cup of coffee and a deposit in their porcelain facility.
7:45 a.m.: Suit up in SPY Optic team kit. Realize it’s still fricking cold and I don’t have any shoecovers.
7:47 a.m.: KB, Labor Power legend and 2011 dominator at Dana Point and Tour de Murrieta, is fishing for a valve extender. I lend him one hoping that he’ll have mercy when the whip comes down. He thanks me. I realize my selfish altruism isn’t going to help me at all. These guys look like they had rusty nails and glass for breakfast. Try to look tough but my fucking knees keep knocking together.
8:00 a.m.: We join the 150+ idiots who have massed along Jamboree for Roger’s Cup, run concurrently with the Sunday Como Street ride out of Tustin without the inconveniences of that silly insurance, or having any of those unnecessary ambulances and EMT’s on standby.
8:10 a.m.: Drift back through the swelling throng, feeling like a fat tasty mackerel in a school of hungry sharks. There’s Critchamp, there’s Glass Hip, there’s Thing Two, RB, MJ, RM, and about a dozen other people with stars and stripes on their sleeves or state champ jerseys. “Como Street virgin?” asks Glass Hip.
8:12 a.m.: AF comes up and says, “Hi, teammate,” because I’m wearing SPY. “What’s your name, buddy?” I have to admit I’m just a poser, wearing a gift kit, gift specs, and that although he doesn’t know me, I remember him from De Vlees Huis RR, where he towed me around for a lap before dropping me, and from Ontario in 2008, when he dragged me around in a breakway that stuck ’til the end. He shrugs like he just touched someone else’s booger and pedals off.
8:30 a.m.: Glass Hip gives me the course rundown. “Hairy descent after the neighborhood. Lots of cracks, good place to go down hard and have 200 idiots run over your dick.” Feel overwhelming urge to piss. And cry. And go home. And crawl back under my warm blanky. In no particular order.
8:45 a.m.: MJ warns me about the descent. Sit on his wheel for a way, marveling at all that muscle squeezed into those Assos shorts, and how much it’s going to hurt when they flex. All the other sharks get out of the king shark’s way when he cuts through the school. Think I will tag along for a bit.
8:53 a.m.: Group stops to hear a little speech about Roger’s Cup. Thirty bladder-bursting bikers jump off their bikes and rush to the hedge, which is only knee-high. More sausage on display for the passing cars than a pepperoni pizza cook-off in Chicago.
8:54 a.m.: Glass Hip comes pedaling by howling at the top of his lungs, “Who wants this baby? Who WANTS it?” He’s holding the massive trophy. It’s bigger than America’s Cup, although it has a tad more plastic. I’m impressed that Glass Hip doesn’t tip over.
8:55 a.m.: Chit-chat with Thing 2, who’s wearing the pink jersey of “Lider” given to the winner of the 2011 edition of the Tour of Guadalahara. He’s a fricking beast.
8:57 a.m.: Speaker speaks about the race and the cup and the felled cyclist for whom it is named. Husband of a recently killed cyclist gives a short speech but begins calling us all sinners and telling us to repent and that this should remind us that the hour of judgment is near and that we must accept Jesus as our savior. A couple of people say “I’m not a sinner!” and the Jewish/Buddhist/Muslim/Atheists among us kind of feel uncomfortable.
8:59 a.m.: We remount, and it’s game on. Quick flurry as riders shuffle to the front, and a few guys launch, including Herndy-Doo from Big Orange.
9:00 a.m.: I find a stars-and-stripes wheel and edge towards the front as we begin speeding up Santa Margarita Parkway. “Hmm…windy up here.”
9:00:30 a.m.: “Hmm…painful up here.”
9:01:00 a.m.: “Hmm…really windy and painful and fast up here.”
9:01:45 a.m.: “Holy fucking shit this fucking hurts!”
9:02 a.m.: “I’m gonna…get off…this…wheel…and go…a little farther…back…”
9:03 a.m.: Massive whack and smack as my rear wheel rolls over a small boulder. I pray for a catastrophic rear wheel failure, or at least a flat.
9:04 a.m.: Pain gets worse despite dropping back to the shelter of the group.
9:05 a.m.: 405 watts, now sustained for about a mile. Speed 16.5 mph. Pain has gone well into the intolerable zone.
9:05:14 a.m.: Realize I can’t hang on anymore.
9:05:15 a.m.: Realize this is only the first climb of the ride.
9:05:16 a.m.: Realize this isn’t even a climb.
9:05:17 a.m.: Realize how much I hate racing.
9:05:18 a.m.: Realize how much I hate cycling.
9:05:19 a.m.: Realize how much I hate Orange County.
9:06:00 a.m.: Somehow make it over the first hump.
9:06:01 a.m.: Start to think that OC isn’t so bad.
9:06:02 a.m.: Start to think cycling isn’t so bad.
9:06:03 a.m.: Start to like cycling again, a little.
9:07 a.m.: Rear tire begins to feel soft. Yes! A flat!!! I fucking love this sport!
9:07:02 a.m.: Raise right hand and slowly angle to edge of field. Entire group of 10,000 idiots comes flying by. Very awesome because they all see I have a flat tire. Ironclad excuse to claim that I woulda coulda shoulda mighta oughta was gonna if not for that darned flat.
9:08 a.m.: Stop for a leisurely tire change, planning to make sure enough time goes by that there’s no way in hell I could justify chasing. Labor Power team car stops to ask if I need help. “No, thanks! Got it! All cool here! Hurry up there where you’re needed! Have a nice day!”
9:20 a.m.: Complete tire change, but flail with CO2 cartridge so only get the tire about halfway inflated. Realize I have no fucking idea where the route goes or how to get home.
9:22 a.m.: Flag down rider from Coates Cyclery. Kindly offers me a cartridge, tells me the route. Resume riding.
9:32 a.m.: Hit the dangerous descent that Glass Hip and MJ warned me about. Learn that at the bottom, at the bridge, long after the danger had passed, some knucklehead attacked the pavement with his forehead and took down four other riders. Frame snapped in half, body flung onto the guardrail…ah, the joys of rogue racing.
9:33 a.m.: Wending my way through the beautiful oaks on Trabuco. Stop to bleed the lizard just off Hunky Dory Road. Yep, Hunky Dory road. Urinate under a tree where someone has discarded a black Halloween mask and has half-buried several beer bottles. Smells like teen spirit. Keep an eye out for used condoms. Hate to track one of those back home on the heel of my cycling shoe. Worse than toilet tissue.
9:41 a.m.: Turn off onto Santiago Canyon Rd.,and eventually overtake a wanker in a neon yellow windbreaker. Wanker sits about thirty yards off my wheel for a long time. I “practice my spin.”
10:00 a.m.: Wanker evaporates somewhere in the canyon. Far ahead I see another wanker and try to spin my way up to him.
10:10 a.m.: Wanker in the distance is fucking hammering. Or, I’m a bigger wanker than he is. I choose the former explanation.
10: 30 a.m.: I prepare to pass Irvine Lake. Am very excited to finally see a lake in Southern California.
10:31 a.m.: I pass a dirty puddle with a small dock and some sickly birds floating in the muck. This must be the wetlands before you get to the lake.
10:31:30 a.m.: I see a sign proclaiming the tiny mudpit as “Lake Irvine.”
10:36 a.m.: I catch and pass my wanker carrot on the hill leading up to the 241. He weighs 300 pounds and is going about 2 mph.
10:58 a.m.: I pull back into the Market Place parking lot. The Monster Media guys have showered, shaved, changed, and completed the last three chapters of their novel.
10:59 a.m.: “I saw you flat back there,” says KB. Yessss!!!
11:00 a.m.: I get the rundown on the race. Final group of 30-40 make it to the end. No one can escape in the canyon due to the headwind. Meeker smokes everyone in the sprint. Again.
11:05 a.m.: Head back home to L.A. County, polishing and staring fondly at my perfect, shiny little excuse for not finishing with the group.
11:06 a.m.: Reflect on this, the definition of a perfect bike race: 1) No entry fee. 2) Don’t crash. 3) Mechanical that takes me out of the race before getting dropped. 4) Minimal pain. 5) Beautiful weather. 6) Home in time to take the wife for an afternoon coffee overlooking the ocean.
November 23, 2011 § 4 Comments
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp the Holiday Ride ride rolls out from the Center of the Known Universe. The weather forecast: perfect, so expect 150-200 knuckleheads all stuck together like a big ball of wax by the time the ride hits San Vicente. In order to ensure the perfect ride, I’ve compiled a list of strategies that should help you rise to the very top of the septic tank.
1. Be ready to roll out at 7:57. Even though the ride leaves exactly at 8:00, that’s only for G$, DJ, King Harold, and a couple of others who always get there late and have to chase like crazy the entire ten miles to Santa Monica. Everyone else gets anxious and leaves early, ignoring Roadchamp who’s always screaming at the top of his lungs, “It’s not eight yet! It’s not eight yet!”
2. That guy wearing the jersey-skirt with the four cases of donuts plastered to his stomach, neck, back, and hips? Don’t glue yourself onto his wheel and then complain when he slams on the brakes and sends you off into the bushes.
3. Choose your plan early, i.e. cower, dodge, pray, and wait (“codpaw”) or drill on the front (“drotfro”).
4. If you’re going to codpaw, prepare to be scared shitless from the moment you start turning the pedals. You’ll be penned in on all sides by people who are at every stage of learning how to instantly and without warning knock down other people. You’ll be able to let your mind run wild with all the possibilities of chain collisions from so many overlapped wheels, swerving bikes, and happily yakking yahoos who’re paying no attention at all to the road or the idiot in front of them.
5. If you’re going drotfro, prepare to be completely wrecked by the time you reach San Vicente, not least because you’ll have wanted to make G$, DJ, and King Harold suffer like dogs for the entirety of their chase.
6. Once you hit San Vicente, find a wheel toward the front and prepare to vomit as Bahati gradually brings the pace from 17mph up to 42mph over a span of about ten seconds. Uphill. If you opt for codpaw and the relative shelter of the clump at the back, you’ll need windshield wipers to clear off the snot, sludge, and barf bits from everyone who’s now wishing they’d done a different ride.
7. Pace yourself at the bottom of Mandeville. You do this by riding like a fucking maniac to get as far forward as possible, resulting in total exhaustion when you nudge in about tenth wheel. If you’re not already cracked, you’ll soon shatter because at tenth wheel it will be in a single line, in the gutter, and there will be nowhere to hide, except at the back. When you gap out and get screamed at by fifty other idiots who are also on the rivet, you’ll drift back to the back and find that there is no “back,” only onesie-twosie clumps of similarly blown wankers.
8. Whatever you do, don’t get on King Harold’s wheel theorizing that he’ll pull til he blows and then you’ll be able to launch with the remainder of the leaders as everyone else will have been put to the sword. The problems with this theory are manifold. First, you’ll be one of the very first turkeys who gets carved up when he begins flatbacking. Second, even if you did survive until his 3-mile effort ends, you’d be lucky if you still had the energy to find a ditch, lie down in it, and summon the strength to suck your thumb. Third, the pain you’ll experience will give you lifelong nightmares.
9. Don’t implement the “Follow G$ Strategy.” This misbegotten plan ferments when you’re lying in bed the night before, fantasizing about sending Stern-O an email detailing your exploits on Mandeville, and it occurs to you that all you’ll have to do is follow G$’s wheel and come around him at the end. As with the King Harold strategy, this one seems stupidly simple, when in fact it is, if possible, even dumber. First, G$ never gets more than about three wheels back, and sitting on his wheel provides the draft of a large paperclip. This means you’ll essentially be on the point, which equals early shatterage, followed by massive blowage, crackage, and terminal wankage. Second, about halfway up, sometimes earlier, G$ launches the first of a dozen of what in the cycling world is called an “attack.” You know those pet chimpanzees that like to tear off their owners’ faces and throw their bodies out the window? That’s kind of what it will feel like if you really follow through on this whackananny plan, only it will hurt lots worse and the grimaces from the pain will make your face look even uglier than the chimp owners’. Third, even if you make it with him up to the final wall (say, for example, he’s only riding with a rear wheel), he’ll still have plenty of kick left to kick your ass.
10. Whatever you do, don’t take a pull. At dinner, when you’re bragging to the old lady about how you’re going to throw down with the big boys, somewhere between the fourth beer and the bottom of the tequila bottle it may occur to you that, since you’re going to get shelled, you might as well drill it at the bottom of Mandy and make the heroes earn their pay. First, remember that your “pull,” even in the best of scenarios, is kind of like a 2 year-old towing his little red wagon. Second, remember that even though the heroes will be at a disadvantage, as they’ll be out of breath from laughing at your piddly display of impotence, they will also be drafting. Drafting = resting. Resting = incalculable pain when they finally launch.
11. Avoid the temptation to ride up to Bahati, Rudy, or any of the other pros and say, “Hey, man, how’s it going?” like they’re your friend. They’re not. They don’t even know you, although they may remember your bright yellow, two-sizes-too-small outfit and the enormous swatches of belly and butt that it doesn’t quite cover. Instead, quietly ride up behind them and tuck a $20 bill in their pocket. They’ll never know it was from you, but you can tell your friends that you paid some of the local pros to ride for you in a big SoCal almost-race.
12. After you’ve been completely wrecked on the climb, throttle it back to 4 or 5 mph and wait for the first couple of guys from the lead group to appear as they descend Mandeville. Quickly whip your bike around and follow them. You’ll reach the bottom more or less at the same time, and way before the other wankers who foolishly labored all the way to the top. They’ll have been too gassed on the climb to realize you were miles behind them, ergo “bragging rights.”
13. When you get home, post the following to Strava: “Fucking Garmin (or iPhone Strava app) quit working at the bottom of Mandy. Fucking had a course record today. Fuck.” Throw in a few extra “fucks” as needed.
Enjoy the ride!