April 20, 2019 § 9 Comments
A friend sent me this dreadful link to these dreadful tips designed to make me hate riding my bicycle. You would think that it’s hard to make someone hate riding a bicycle, but there is an entire industry built around it. The idea is that if you hate riding a bicycle while knowing it’s good for you, you will spend a lot of money trying to force yourself to ride, i.e. gear, coaches, magazine subscriptions, and etc. Lots of etc.
This is like the food industry, which has taken something awesome, food, made it dreadful, and then created the diet charlatindustry to help you not lose the weight so you can eat more of the dreadful food. Everyone wins except the one who was born every minute.
I have come up with a sure-fire list of ways to make you love riding your bike. Some of these tips are very edgy and will singe the eyebrows of the bicyclitally correct, but they work.
- Ditch the helmet. There, I said it.
- Don’t record anything. No one cares or is impressed by how far you rode, least of all you. In fact, you are depressed by it because no matter how far you rode, SOMEONE RODE FARTHER. Let your activities vanish into the ether as soon as they are complete, residing only in your memory.
- Ride alone. You’ll be amazed at how much you see and hear when some jackanape isn’t prattling on about his w/kg ratio, complaining about [—], or shit-talking all your mutual friends.
- Post your ride and all the details on social media. Not.
- Ride with two good friends and ride real fuggin’ hard. Do a workout, the three of you, and make sure that when you’re done everyone is cross-eyed.
- Delete your weight log. If it’s paper, shred it. Then toss out your bathroom scales. Guess what? After four years of meticulous record keeping, I weigh 153 pounds. That’s it. Some days a tad more, some a tad less, but my average is 153 pounds and that’s what it’s always gonna be. Same for you. The daily weigh-in works if you are a hog prepping for slaughter, but otherwise it’s a silly and meaningless routine you’ll be happier without.
- Refuse to set goals. Goals are for winners, people who succeed, hard-chargers, and the sad fact is that in cycling you can’t win, can’t succeed, and can’t charge hard anywhere, at least not for long. Cycling is a long-term affliction that equates with happiness and peripheral health if you’re lucky, and that’s it. It doesn’t make you superman, doesn’t extend your life, doesn’t stop global warming, and isn’t the red badge of courage. Get. Over. It.
- Shave your face. Guys, why spend so much time honing and glossing your legs when your face looks like you just pulled it out of a sawdust bin? For fuxake, take three minutes and shave. It won’t help your cycling but it will help everyone who has to look at you.
- Fire your coach. And if you have to hire another one, make it your nice Auntie Maude who lives in Topeka and whose passion is baking brownies.
- Refuse to explore your motivations. Who cares why you ride, least of all you? Go out and ride and let your motivations be as whimsical as possible. “Today I’m riding in order to be a flounder.” “Today I’m riding to free the world’s microchips.” “Today I’m riding because pancakes.”
- Sneer at someone’s fancy bike or pretty clothing. Nothing takes the fun out of cycling like stuff. Cycling isn’t about stuff. It is about non-stuff. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you are clearly not yet a flounder.
- Aspire to mediocrity. Excellence goes before a fall. Mediocrity is safe, comfortable, predictable, not demanding, and well within your means. Embrace 13 mph average rides. They don’t mean you are a horrible person who should be executed, no matter what Bicycling Magazine et al say.
- Explain to an expert that you don’t care. Whether the advice sausage is telling you about gearing, braking, cornering, dieting, flubbering, or flummadiddling, tell him you do not GAF. Calmly and politely say in an enraged voice, “I am not listening. Please go die now.”
- When the going gets tough, acknowledge you are a cupcake. Why? Because everyone loves a cupcake. No one loves a saucer of nails and broken glass.
- Plan a group ride and don’t show up. This will rekindle your joy of sleeping in on a Saturday morning instead of rolling out bleary-eyed and grumpy to meet a bunch of smelly friends who haven’t shaved. Then you can ride after brunch. If it’s sunny.
- Flick off technology. Look someone in the eye who is recommending disk brakes and tell them to fuck off. “Disc brakes are stupid,” is the way to finish the conversation, preferably with no elaboration.
- Bail hard. Think about an awesome, challenging ride/race/event you’ve always wanted to train for, and then admit to yourself that it’s a horrible idea and you’d rather eat the Cookie Monster cupcake with the blue icing down at Becker’s. Plus it is cheaper.
- Focus on the past. You used to be young, attractive, and optimistic. Go back to that period in time and stay there.
- Sign up for a gym membership. Go the most expensive gym you can find, like Equinox, and sign up for the most expensive program they have, along with 6 months of daily personal training. Add in the nutritionist consult, blood workup, and full pre-workout evaluation. Then call the next day and cancel everything. It won’t cost a penny and you’ll have been the center of everyone’s attention for the better part of an entire day.
- Put your cycling last. Why angst about getting in your workout early? It can fuggin’ wait, and if it can’t? Too bad, so sad. Tomorrow, as she said, is another day.
- Punch someone in the face. Do it the minute they say, “You should race.” Then tell them, “You should see a dentist.”
- Decide not to color coordinate. You are not Elijah Shabazz, so don’t even try. It’s okay to wear gray with ochre and purple and yellow and green polka-dot sprinkles. Or an old t-shirt and flip-flops. Or better yet, let your inner Shirtless Keith rage.
- Explore your family tree. Ask yourself, “What would my great-grandfather say about this?” If your great-grandpa was like mine, you wouldn’t get past the word “diet” before he shot you.
- Quit buying into other people’s b.s. Do you like riding around the block and then eating a tub of ice cream? Then do it. Yes, this means you, Baby Seal.
- Write yourself messages. However, make them honest rather than fake-inspirational/motivational b.s. For example: “No one cares,” or my favorite, “Later.”
- Treat life like a meter that is almost out of time. In other words, don’t go murder yourself on a horrible cycling ordeal; order another round.
- Get up early. How early? So fuggin’ early that it’s almost the day before.
- Don’t sign the waiver. Anything that requires you to give away your rights is stupid and hates you. Refuse to do it. Instead, demand that they sign a waiver on your behalf and see how they like it.
- Never, ever, ever talk about your workouts. Not to your spouse, S/O, and dog forbid at work. It makes you look like a tool and it violates the cardinal rule of cycling, which is that the rest of the world hates you.
- Encourage your non-cycling friends to not get into cycling. They will thank you for it.
- Laugh at consistency. Go all in one week, then put away your bike for three years like Boozy P. and focus on surfing, beer, and motorcycles. Balance is for gymnasts, and with a gut like that, trust me, you ain’t no gymnast.
- Sit on the couch and read a book. It is safer, cheaper, will make you smarter, and help you sleep.
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November 20, 2018 § 3 Comments
How are things after a week or so of Project Less Sleep? From your blog it seems you went down to 6.0 hours per day. Bold! Dumb, but bold. Didn’t we talk about getting pre-approval before you launch off on stupid shit? Sigh.
I see you are looking at increasing your riding load/volume. A few thoughts:
- Don’t add too much, too soon. It’s a boring and buzzkill cliche, but also packed with truth. Let your mind guide you, but feeling like “Oh, man, I could have done more” is much better than feeling shellacked early in your comeback. Not that you are doing a comeback, since you’ve quit racing. More like a “goaway.”
- I’ve found that increasing an hour a week is about all that a fit and dedicated athlete can add, and you’re neither. Taking a rest-ish week every three or four weeks is good to absorb your training, pathetic and half-hearted though it is.
- Speaking of absorbing the training, that’s THE GOAL Training puts stress on your body sufficient to stimulate the training adaptation (growth) you want. Think about it like this: You suck, right? And you’ve given up, right? Hmmmm, this is going to be harder than I thought.
- In other words, you want to prompt your body to be doing its best growing, not limited to the ugly nose hairs and spiny tufts growing out of your ears. Ecccchh.
- You are seeking the best adaptations. Growing muscle. Tolerance of lactate. Capillary beds (with hemoglobin comforters and oxygen pillowcases). Mitochondria that look like mini-elephant erections. Heart stroke volume without the cranial stroke. Red blood cells. Those last four are all aerobic fitness components. The nasal hair, not so much.
- The goal of training isn’t to wreck yourself and be a training hero, unless being a training hero is your goal, e.g, Head Down James. Nothing wrong with that, but actually, for you it’s impossible because HDJ already is the training hero and that twin bed ain’t got room for two.
- You have one goal, to have your body growing to the best of its ability, as much as possible. Think of it like a bank account. Do you want it to grow smaller? Heck, no. You want it giant, engorged, veiny, and purple with cash. The purpose of riding hard is to induce stress and adaptation, not to be a destroyed and worn out old shoe.
- Frequently people think it is heroic to go for a monster ride. They have never had to cut off the heads of enemies with a machete or charge a machine gun nest. Bicycles aren’t heroic, they are silly. Fun, but silly. And monster rides aren’t usually great for training unless you’re Eddy Merckx, and you know how you can tell whether or not you are Eddy? See if anyone talks to you in Flemish. That’s a good place to start.
- Monster rides keep you from doing the training you need in the subsequent days, to keep pinging your aerobic system to develop, for example. In other words, when you are destroyed and swallowing fistfuls of peanut butter cupcakes, you’ll find that you can’t work out from the couch. So you’re likely better doing three-hour rides than a 12-hour beatdown that takes three days to become ambulatory and two weeks to get your bowel movements back.
- With monster rides, you’re so wrecked that you can’t go hit your system again the next day or two. And your body will keep growing and strengthening its systems only if you stress those systems, which is why I generally avoid days off. Days off are for losers. So you might want to take them. A lot.
Anyway, I only had five minutes to dash off this superficial note. I’ll send you something more detailed and substantive when the check clears, or when the credit card numbers you keep giving me actually work.
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September 2, 2016 § 27 Comments
I admit it.
I’m tired, tired like a worn out shoe. (*Note: In Chinese “worn out shoe” is colloquial for a prostitute, so as Knoll would say, there’s that.)
I’m not just physically tired from cycling, blogging, and blogging about cycling, but my brain is also pooped. Focusing on withholding Strava kudos has been tough this year (0 given so far), not to mention the exhausting self-recriminations that come from failing to analyze a single byte of data.
Mostly, though, I’ve been ground down by my charging schedule. Every day I’ve had to swap and recharge batteries for the rear-facing GoPro, recharge the Serfas Retinakiller, recharge the NiteRider Eyeblinder, recharge the Diablo Seizure, recharge the Cycliq Collisionwitness, and every Saturday power up the front derailleur battery and then the rear derailleur battery, and make sure that the wireless earbuds are also fully charged so that I can hear bits and pieces of Lesson 26 (“You Are Almost Becoming A China Hand”–true title) in between the howling gusts of non-CatEars-blocked-wind that chop up the recording.
When I think back on the records I didn’t keep for this past racing season, it’s clear that I rode too much, achieved too little, and was blatantly snookered out of several top-20 finishes at Telo, including the infamous lap-cheating incident that resulted in me getting into an argument with a person posing as a dog on Faceboook.
But there are more indicia that it’s time for a break. Death threats from the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, Molotov cocktails lobbed into the apartment swimming pool, and suspicious packages covered with white powder have gotten me down, not to mention having to listen to angry Crest residents complain about “domestics” getting their windshields broken by the heads and bodies of oncoming cyclists.
Fortunately, now is the perfect time to rest and I began my off-season on Wednesday, coinciding with a viral infection that has kept me prone and covered in funny-looking sores. During this time I’ve been able to plot the perfect off-season schedule. If you’re suffering from burnout, take a look and feel free to copy if you want to. It may be just what the witch doctor ordered.
- Wednesday: Sleep. Eat ice cream. Light 1-hr. spin on the trainer for off-season recovery.
- Thursday: Sleep. More ice cream. Make a special energy shake with peanut butter, almonds, milk, raw eggs, cocoa powder, and bananas. Run to bathroom. Light 1.5-hr. spin on the trainer for off-season recovery. Run back to bathroom.
- Friday: Get up at 5:00 to prepare for 5:30 AM German lesson with Silke. Learn the different ways they say “whipping cream” in Austria. Moderate 2-hr. spin on the trainer for off-season recovery.
- Saturday: Attend Swami’s ride as team soigneur. Drink coffee. Read confusing articles about Chinese grammar, in English. Alternate light-medium-intense 2.5-hr. session on the trainer, conclude with 30-min. cooldown for off-season recovery.
- Sunday: Birdwatching + coffee. 3-hr. session on the trainer. Easy except for last 115 minutes, spin at the beginning for off-season recovery.
- Monday: Holiday Ride. Full gas, 3.5-hr. cool down for off-season recovery.
- Tuesday: NPR. 2-min. intervals x 30, light 4-hr. spin on the trainer for off-season recovery.
- Wednesday: Return to normal race preparation of 18+ hrs./week profamateur full-gas training schedule + intervals, sprunt workouts, long distance/high intensity mileage.
I’m already feeling pretty rejuvenated and it’s only Friday. Take a page from the training Bible and pray. Hard.
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May 22, 2015 § 14 Comments
I don’t care what anyone says, 28 years of marriage is a long time in the dentist’s chair, and if you think things are still as fresh as they were 27.5 years ago, you are in the advanced stages of senility. We used to have a deal where Mrs. WM would put up with me for nine months and I with her, and then during the summer she would waltz back to Japan with the kids.
It was great for her. Going home meant someone else cooking, someone else cleaning, and someone else minding the Small Ones Who Choose Never To Mind. It also meant speaking her real language, and of course PARTEEEEEEEEEEEE, every single day. How do I know this? Because when we’d speak on the phone it went like this:
Me: How are things going?
Me: Just “okay”?
Me: I suppose you’re dying to come back already?
Her: Yes, very much. Too bad I have to wait onna twelve more weeks. So sadly.
And you know what? She always came back refreshed, ready for nine more months of drudgery and interminable tales about how Wanker McGee attacked, but I was ready for him and countered, and then Billy Bumfugg followed, and then we were away, but the field pulled us back, and then I went again but this time Wanker followed, then countered, and Smedley Offalnipple touched wheels and BAM! he went down, so Billy bunnyhopped Smedley’s skull, mostly, and then … I need to buy a new frame and some wheels, okay honey?
For me it was equally awesome. Much as I loved my wife, I really loved her when she was gone, and not just gone around the corner for a jug of milk. I’m talking nine thousand miles gone. Gone through a dozen time zones. Gone where toilet lids could stay up, pee could sprinkle on the rim, toothbrush caps could remain unscrewed, new life forms could mutate in the sink, farts could waft blissfully up through the covers, and underwear could be worn over and over and over and no one would ever say squat.
I could wake up, ride my bike all day, come home to a quiet hovel, go to floor for nine hours, and do it all over again.
“But Wanky! You must have been miserable! She’s such a great cook! How did you survive without all that fresh bread?”
How did I survive? Let me tell you about something called Van Camp’s Pork & Beans and Spam and peanut butter and bananas and coffee and beer and eggs and salsa and tortilla chips. If you can’t live like a prince on that for three months, then you aren’t trying.
Did I miss the great home cooking? Of course! Did I miss it enough to want to go back to fartless nights under the covers and sitting down to piss? No way!!!!
Then, somehow, poverty went from being an abstraction to a concrete thing as the children grew, we ran out of hand-me-downs (the boys never liked having to wear their sister’s dresses anyway), and summer schedules became intractable. We ran out of money, we ran out of time, and we ran out of them simultaneously.
So, Mrs. WM stopped taking her refresher trips, which was hard on me, hard on her, and probably hardest of all on her seven or eight ex-high school boyfriends back in Japan. And along with our straitened situation, the spark and sizzle started to go out of our boring and totally predictable marriage. That dull lump of last week’s tasteless meatloaf we called marriage had lost the excitement and flair that it never had.
You can imagine how amazed I was when we both looked at each other and realized that for the first time in ten years her summer wasn’t going to be tied down by kids. The tickets were bought in a flash, and the minute that they cleared the four credit cards we had to cobble together to run the charge, the old meatloaf flared up a little. It was still cold leftovers, but with a little something extra.
Then, as each day passed and the day of departure neared, the cold meatloaf warmed up and the flavor returned. One morning as I stood there scrubbing a thick crust of cold bacon grease off the skillet, I thought of my sweetheart, still in bed and probably not even farting. A golden warmth spread throughout as I anticipated dropping her off at the airport and saying “See ya!” for a full fiscal quarter.
But before I brought her coffee in bed I got on the computer and did a quick cost comparison for a new frame, and maybe some wheels, too. She hadn’t even left, and I missed her already.
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May 21, 2015 § 60 Comments
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but if you want to do it quickly, hop on a triathlete chat forum. A friend sent me this link, which better judgment and common sense urged me not to click, but I am the reason that viruses, trojans, and clickbait always work.
Here it is, I dare you not to click, but be forewarned … it is a lethal computer virus that will infest your hard drive, your soft drive, and your sex drive as it vacuums up all of your personal data and sells your SSN, DOB, and bank accounts to Russian Internet thieves and Oleg Dickov for $2.99.
Clicked yet? Yes?
Then you have seen that an anonymous tri-dork self styled as “Duffy” has written a nasty little diatribe about one of the local West Side heroes who dared to take the lane on PCH while Duffy was hurrying to his cat testicle shaving appointment. Now before we get into the substance of Duffy’s complaint, which is that Our Hero should have been in the bike lane (there isn’t one, as the sheriff can now tell you), let’s all take a minute to appreciate Duffy’s online presence in Ye Olde Tri-dork Chatte Forum, and we might as well begin with his self described occupation as “Murders and Executions.” (Viewable, along with his profile pics, to members only).
So you see, Duffy is funny.
But he has a serious side, too, and since it focuses on vulvas, what better way to proclaim his passion to the world than with a profile picture of a woman’s crotch? Detached from a body or a face, Duffy’s idea of a woman is apparently a vulva in a miniskirt. I’ll take a wild leap here and guess that Duffy is single, and not by choice. Unusually for me, I will take the high road and not post the picture.
“Gosh,” you’re probably thinking as you touch yourself gently, “that’s probably someone who is known to law enforcement.” What you’re probably not thinking is, “There’s the profile picture of someone who is knowledgeable about traffic laws.”
Of course, it’s possible to get the wrong impression, and Duffy spares you that error by using a second profile picture, where he veers from dirty old man to straight up sicko.
By now we have lurched so far down the rat hole of Internet crazy that there’s not much more to add. How can you improve on the headline “Ignorant Pervert Cager-cum-tridork Who Fantasizes Over Shaved Cat Dicks Berates Law Abiding Cyclist”?
Answer: You can’t.
What you can do, though, is briefly scroll through the forum comments, where Duffy, in good company, finds much support for the proposition that cyclists on PCH should ride in the non-existent bike lane and/or in the rubble-filled gutter, or else face getting honked and screamed at by cager cat dick fanciers, and possibly run over, too.
What’s most shocking about the supportive comments is that most have at least three words with more than one syllable, and that “Duhhhh” is used sparingly. Is it really a tri-dork forum?
What’s sad is to see the Helen’s team name dragged through the mud until you realize that these are anonymous Internet trolls who don’t shop at stores, who don’t ride on roads, and whose main pastime is, well, shaved cat dicks. The bright spot, about 26 comments down, is the reasoned voice of Club La Grange’s El Presidente Robert Efthimos, who puts together coherent thoughts, proper punctuation, correct orthography, and effective reasoning to defend the Helen’s rider’s right to take the lane while he diplomatically points out that Duffy is a maroon.
Best of all, El Presidente presents the rider’s side of the story, a rider we all know and highly respect, which gibes exactly with the facts you’d expect: Mr. Cat Dicks began the confrontation by blasting the horn although the rider was legally in the lane coming down from Pepperdine at 42 mph. The aggressor then sped away, and when the rider caught Cat Dicks at the light, the cager began his lecture with The Opening Phrase That Marks You For All Time As An Asshole, i.e. “I’m a cyclist too, but … ”
No, Duffy, you’re not a cyclist. You are in a car harassing cyclists, which makes you a cager. You spend your cage time leaning on a horn, misstating the law you haven’t bothered to learn, and threatening us with death. That makes you not a cyclist, but an enemy, and if the worst you get out of encounters like this is an angry middle finger from a calm and accomplished cyclist, consider yourself lucky and go back to the shaved cat dicks, at least until we turn you in for animal abuse.
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May 20, 2015 § 30 Comments
Rarely, very rarely, someone will ask me a serious question about fitness or training or racing. These are terrifying moments, aware as I am that of all the people with zero value to share on such topics, I am certainly the largest negative integer in that department.
This person asked me about getting a coach. Now, I have lots of friends who are coaches, but that number will be greatly reduced after today because here is what I told my friend:
Unless someone experienced in both fields has evaluated you and advised you that you can make more money riding your bicycle than you can getting an MBA, coaching is stupid. Why?
Because the basics behind cycling improvement haven’t changed in 100 years.
- Eat right
- Lose weight
- Ride more
- Ride with those who are better than you
Once you’ve done these five things, and it generally takes 5-10 years to reach the right balance, you can start seeking advice. The good news is that when you’ve spent a decade doing #4 and #5, your coaches will be the people you regularly ride and race with, and they will gladly share what they know as well as point out what they think you do well and where you can improve.
Training plans, power meters, heart rate monitors, coaches … get over it. It’s a scam designed to obfuscate the harsh realities of 1-5 above, and to take your eye off the Reality Ball, which says you are old and slow and will continue getting older and slower until you die, which will be incredibly soon relative to your expectations.
In fact, when it comes to speed, your best investments are aero, carbon, diet, and winning the battle of the bed. Aero speaks for itself. Get a Sausage-approved Aero Pro Fit p/b Daniel Holloway and you will go noticeably faster.
Get as much 100% carbon stuff that is full carbon and you will go faster still, especially if it’s aero carbon, as if there were any other kind.
Diet is trickier, but in a nutshell here are the basics:
- Toss the radical weight loss plan. 143 pounds is not good for a six foot frame, and constant ravenous hunger is an unhappy way to live, although it sure sharpens every single faculty.
- Make incremental changes. Shave a bit here and there, and mostly rein in dinner. If you’re a 3-plate eater, first go from 3 servings to 2, and then from 2 to 1. Even if it’s sometimes a big serving, shoot for a norm of “enough to make me feel full but not stuffed.”
- USE SMALLER PLATES.
- Eat at home more often and put everything on a plate, except ice cream, which goes in a bowl. A small one.
- Chop the legs off of your enabler. He/she is the person who asks you 10 times a day “Do you want … ?” or “Do you want to go out for … ?” Cure the enabler by saying “Yes, but since you asked me, I’ll pass.” The enabler will be very angry for a while and no sex, but when you’re shedding pounds who has the energy for that anyway? Don’t waste your time telling the enabler to quit asking, just let the enabler know that no matter what it is, if the enabler recommends it, you’re refusing no matter how hungry you are. Pretty soon you’ll be back in control of what you eat and when you eat it. Plus, what hungry human can say “No” ten times a day? I can’t even say it once.
- Read “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. The protagonist’s only skills are “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” These are incredible qualities to develop in cycling, and in life if you have one. (I don’t.) Keep in mind that while it’s not good to be ravenous all the time, it is good to endure a few pangs during the day. It’s not normal to always be full or to sate yourself every time you feel hungry. It’s like expecting to race well without ever training hard.
The biggest fitness obstacle, however, is the bed battle. Everyone can testify to the difficulty of twisting yourself out of the clutches of the warm sheets, especially when the only thing on offer is a guaranteed 60-minute beatdown on the Flog Ride, cf. Joseph Y.
The bed battle cannot be won with multiple alarms or with pre-percolating coffee timers, and it certainly can’t be won when the person next to you is warm and cuddly and not very interested in your morning bicycle ride. The bed battle can only be won the night before, by going to bed early, airing up your tires, laying out your superhero outfit, and promising a friend that you will meet him at a time certain.
There. That’s all I know, and most of it is wrong.
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May 19, 2015 § 33 Comments
I had to choose between doing the Torrance Crit and going to my daughter’s law school graduation. She made law review, completed law school in two years, made the dean’s list, was a dean’s fellow, and received a full scholarship. So it was go and celebrate her accomplishments or hustle down to the Telo office park and see if I could win twenty bucks or not crash.
I didn’t tell family about the bike race. Relatives and friends had come from far away to celebrate my daughter. We went to commencement Sunday morning and it was awesome. Then it finished around noon. I still didn’t say a word about the crit. We ate lunch. Everyone was tired and wanted to go home or back to the hotel and nap.
I got home just before three. The race started at four. “Where are you going?” Mrs. WM asked.
“Just out for a little pedal.”
“Be home in time to leave for the graduation dinner at 6:10.”
“No problem,” I said, realizing that it would take a miracle to get me home in time. I sauntered out, leaped out my bike and sprinted to the office park. The leaky prostate division had drained off hours ago and the only race left was the Fakepro-1-2-3 race. I hadn’t done one of those in a couple of decades. “How hard can it be?” I asked myself. “Plus, it’s 75 minutes, which is more racing!”
I watched the racers warm up. They had smooth skin and no fat and their faces were filled with hope and no one had told them what a terrible waste of life bike racing was and they all looked younger than my kids. That’s because they were.
Still, I had been killing it on the NPR and the Donut Ride, and that’s pretty much the same as doing a Fakepro-1-2-3 race, right? Right?
Wily Greek rolled up next to me at the start. “This is gonna fuggin’ hurt.”
I blinked big watery cow eyes. I’ve never seen Wily in even mild discomfort. “Oh, no,” I thought as Robert Pellegrin blew the whistle.
The young fellows were in a big hurry. They were in such a hurry that instead of waiting until five minutes before the finish to attack like us elderly gentlemen always do, they waited four or five seconds before the first turn to attack into the chicane and into the headwind, which they followed with another faster attack into the headwind and through the right-hander which was followed by two more attacks, each attack faster than the one before.
Since I was already going as fast as I had ever gone in my life after the first attack, when we hit the tailwind stretch I got ready for a bit of relief, but that never came because the attacks in the tailwind made everything else look slow in comparison. Unlike the leaky prostate division, where there are three attacks, a break rolls off, and everyone sits up and finishes reading the paper, in the Fakepro-1-2-3 division everyone keeps attacking until no one can attack anymore except the people who haven’t yet attacked who are actually the true strongmen, and then they take turns attacking while the tired attackers are resting at the back and then when the strongmen roll off the front the rested primary attackers re-attack until they chase down the strongmen who have seen the chase coming and thus slowed a touch so that when they are reeled in they can attack the attackers who were attacking them for having attacked.
Somewhere in there the race went from being Fakepro-1-2-3 to Fakepro-1-2, and the seventy or so starters became forty or fifty gaspers and ten people actually racing to win.
Fortunately every time I whizzed through Beer Corner my trusty mechanic Boozy P., who had re-twisted my derailleur hanger a few minutes before the race with a monkey wrench and a beer can so that I could keep ‘er in the 11 and not have to worry about my chain skipping into those wussy gears, along with Hooffixerman & his hot wife, New Girl, Frenchy & Frenchymom, Canyon Bob, Strava Reid, Fintech Quant, Tyler, Mr. Rubdown, and the usual gang of Strand Brewery drunks hollered and screamed encouragement at me each time I bounced over the pavement and within inches of death up against the curb.
“You suck, Wanky!”
“Go to the front!”
“Get off the front!”
“Close the gap!”
“Get off your brakes!”
“Roll your tongue back in!”
And other helpful bits of coaching were offered each lap.
In addition to being very afraid of all the bicycle riders who whizzed by me brushing my bars and hips, I was being “that guy” who, clearly out of his league and even more out of breath, would dash towards the front, hit the turn at Mach 12, clench the brakes with max panic grab, and listen to all the Fakepro-1-2’s scream, curse, and grind to a halt behind me, then be forced to accelerate from 1 mph back up to 35 after passing me in the corner.
They all appeared very tired out from this, and also somewhat sad.
Unfortunately for them, as soon as they passed me I would “do the Derek” which is racetalk for “pass every rider once.” With this logic you eventually win. However, in order to pass anyone there were only three options. Option 1 was to thread my way through the pack while getting completely protected from the wind, but I was too afraid to do this.
Option 2 was to rocket up the gutter in the leeward draft, but I was too afraid to do this either because the gutter is just a few inches wide and filled with death.
Option 3 was to go up along the safe edge of the peloton into the wind, which takes about 1300 or a million watts to move six places. Eventually I would get up to the first few wheels and then hit another turn, come flaming in hot, burn off a few centimeters of brake pad, turn the face of the guy behind me black from carbon brake dust, lose 49 places, crash out a few hapless sods, and start all over again.
It was very tiring, but soon we were on the bell lap. I could tell this because up until then we had been going so fast that time had come to a standstill (it’s a relativity thing), but now the pack briefly bunched up. I saw my final opportunity to launch a searing attack up the side, catch the field unawares, get a gap, and win.
I punched the pedals with everything I had, just at the moment when the pack punched it with about 20% of what it had, and I found out that on the bell lap my 100% was about half of their 20%. I latched onto the end of the train and at that moment Wily came up and tapped me on the hip. “Yo, Wanky,” he said. “Better give yourself a couple of bike lengths, just to be safe. You aren’t winning today, you know.”
I looked at the 48 riders ahead of me, calculated the 1300 watts I didn’t have times eight, and eased off. We hit the straightaway and a trio of riders, locked in a death struggle for the honor of 29th place, touched wheels and hit the pavement with amazing violence and bounciness. Their bikes broke into pieces, blood and skin and helmet pieces flew everywhere, and the air was rent with moans and screams and one of my SPY teammates who wailed as I rode by, “Why do they let these fuggin’ Cat 3 idiots into these races?”
I crossed the line and realized that I only had twenty minutes to make the 35-minute ride home. Fortunately, EA Sports, Inc., was outside his house as I rode by. I explained my predicament, he tossed me into the back of his pickup, put my bike up front, and drove me home. I walked in the door at 6:09.
“How was your ride?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Uneventful, and therefore okay.”
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