First trimester summary

March 24, 2014 § 3 Comments

In SoCal, the road racing season starts Jan. 12 with the Ontario Shitfest Grand Prix, and ends September 7 with the Droopy Breasts and Leaky Prostate Old Persons’ National Championships. That’s nine months of racing, about the same amount of time it takes to gestate a baby.

We’re fast approaching the end of the first trimester, so I thought it would be a great time to do a mid-season analysis of who’s doing what, when, how, where, and why, and maybe even make a few predictions for the rest of the season. It’s the time of year that you start to hear the rumbling and grumbling of “Are WE the next Labor Power?” And it’s as good a time as any to say, “No, you aren’t. You are to Labor Power what a dingleberry is to a dinosaur turd.”

To be clear, the bar set by Labor Power is unattainable, so quit trying to be its heir. What do I mean?

  • Labor Power rode the ugliest kits ever. No matter how stupid and repulsive your outfit is, Labor Power’s was worse. If Roger and Chris couldn’t sublimate an abortion, no one could.
  • Labor Power was the cheapest team ever. Your team spends more on water bottles than Roger spent on his team car, race entries, and kits. Labor Power was so tight with money that even bike racers considered them cheap.
  • Labor Power won more races in a season than most teams today even enter. In 2002 they had 110 first place finishes in everything from crits to road races to stage races to track events to circle jerks. They were so dominant that if you finished 2nd or 3rd no one cared. At all.
  • In 2003 they only won 103 races. Get it? “Only” 103. So quit bragging about your string of ten wins.
  • In 2004, they won the ELITE men’s national championships with Chris Walker putting everyone to the sword. This isn’t the shrunken and leaky prostate division, folks, it’s the full-sized, covered-with-dog-hair testicle race. And Labor Power won it.
  • From 2005 to 2007, the year that Roger imploded with a full brain-and-hip replacement, no one from Labor Power wound up in prison.

So just in case you’re wondering whether your string of seven or eight victories puts you in the “Labor” class, the answer is “No. It doesn’t. Not even close.”

Is there any hope for this younger, weaker generation?

Yes! Great things have been accomplished so far in 2014. Let me tell you about them.

  1. Jessica Cerra is the best all-around racer in SoCal, if not the USA. She wins hilly, windy, brutal road races. She wins four-corner crits. She time trials. Best of all, she’s always ready with a smile and encouragement before she tears your ego out and pops it in the shredder. Plus, she makes a mean Harmony Bar. Word on the street is that sooner rather than later she’ll be snatched up by a pro team.
  2. Rahsaan Bahati has confirmed (again) that he’s the fastest and best crit racer in America. 2014 has seen Rahsaan absolutely tear things up in the pro crits, and the only people who’ve been able to give him a consistent run for his money are Corey and Justin Williams. Over the last decade Rahsaan has remained the single best crit racer in America. And he still shows up on the local Tues/Thurs NPR in L.A. to smack down the locals. Sometimes, literally.
  3. Charon Smith’s legend keeps growing. What began as a wanker who couldn’t glue on a tire (crashing at Eldo thanks to a rolled front tire on the last lap) has metamorphosed into the most consistent winning masters racer in SoCal. Charon’s always there to encourage, to lift up, and to laugh — unless you’re muscling for the sprint, in which case you’re going to learn the disappointment of second place.
  4. Surf City Cyclery has put together premier masters crit racing club. Along with Charon we’ve seen Kayle Leogrande, Ben Travis, and other SCC riders keep a stranglehold on the SoCal crit circuit. Will they ever venture out from the safety of four corner crits? I’m guessing … no.
  5. Kings of the road? That title goes to Monster Media and the Troublesome Trio of Phil Tinstman, Gary Douville, and Chris DeMarchi. These three musketeers have dominated in the hardest, most grueling masters’ road races that SoCal has to offer, taking impressive wins at Boulevard, Punchbowl, and Castaic. If you plan to win a 35+ road race, take a ticket and stand in line. A long line.
  6. Biggest contingent of women racers? That’s Monster Media again, with Emily Georgeson, Patricia Calderon, Suzanne Sonye, Shelby Reynolds, and a host of other strong women riders taking wins and letting promoters know that women race and they race in numbers.
  7. Best all-around team? That’s SPY-Giant-RIDE, of course. Not just one-trick crit ponies, the SPY team has won races in every division from women’s to extremely old and mostly brokedown 50+ geezers. (That’s you, DJ.) With two big wins against the Surf City machine — Derek Brauch and Aaron Wimberley — SPY has also taken stage race victories in the 45+ division with Greg Lonergan, as well as stage wins with Kyle Bausch. However, SPY’s strongest division is the pack-fodder category, topped by Wankmeister, who is able to convincingly defend 52nd place against all comers. SPY’s dominance in ‘cross is also unparalleled, and SPY promises to again put riders in the top-1o of the hardest road event in America: The SPY Belgian Waffle Ride.
  8. The top of the mark in the Pro/1/2 division seems pretty much occupied by the Jakroo/Maxxis team. However, since they’re all under the age of 40 I don’t really pay much attention to them and assume that the weakest rider in that category is faster than me by a factor of ten.
  9. You’d be crazy not to acknowledge that the one team that is over-the-top in terms of filling categories with its riders and therefore PROMOTING the sport of bike racing is Big Orange. This South Bay conglomeration of wankers packs the fields in every division. Hats off to a club whose emphasis isn’t just on racing, but on encouraging people to get out there and have a go.
  10. Young punk getting outta town? That would be Diego Binatena, who, after an early season of consistent top-10 finishes and a few key victories has been invited by Team USA to storm the beaches of Normandy for a Euro campaign.
  11. The Ageless One: That would be Thurlow, still ripping the legs off of young, snot-nosed punks in the 45+ division. Rumor has it that The Hand of God a/k/a THOG is going to celebrate his 400th birthday this year, but we know that’s a lie. He’s older than that.

Did I leave you out or forget to mention you? Better fill out a “Hurt Butt Report” and submit it to Chris Lotts for public comment and review.


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Year in review’s stellar performers: Diego Binatena

November 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

Wake me in a day or two.

It was barely a year ago that Diego, at the tender age of 14, finished Day One of Team Ironfly’s MT III, the 500-mile epic slog from San Jose to Redondo Beach. We had just finished 70.3 miles and almost 8,000 feet of climbing when we rolled into Santa Cruz. Diego was a tad, shall we say, tired? He checked into his hotel room, collapsed on the bed in his salty, nasty, smelly kit, and went to sleep. For fifteen hours straight.

Somewhere between curling up in a fetal ball on the floor of a cheap motel room in 2010, and the slopes of the Switchbacks in 2011, Diego found an even stronger pair of legs. It was a Saturday in March or April, and there was still a group of about five left before the third turn on the Switchbacks. Diego, who was sitting on the front, launched. We all looked at each other, and since none of us was riding a motorcycle, he continued on, gradually disappearing from sight to take the KOM without, it seemed, breaking a sweat.

As Charlie Sheen would say…Winnnnnning!!

Diego got warmed up in 2011 by nailing second in the Valley of the Sun Stage Race, third in the UCLA Road Race on the gruesome Devil’s Punchbowl course, fourth in the Callville Bay Classic’s crit and fourth in the crit at the San Dimas Stage Race. With his legs sufficiently warmed, he launched into late March by winning the crit and road race at the Madera County Stage Race. In April he stood atop the podium again at the San Diego Cyclo-Vets crit.

For the vast majority of us, any one of those results would justify a season. For Diego? Just getting started.

At the Sea Otter Classic Road Race in a stacked field containing the top junior racers on the West Coast, our boy from Playa del Rey pulled off a win that can only be described as epic. With twenty miles to the line he hit the gas, gapped the field, and pulled away with one other rider. They worked together until 3k to go, when Diego decided that company at the finish line was not going to be on the menu that particular day. He accelerated, dropped his breakaway companion like a 200-lb. bag of Redi-Crete, and put more than two minutes into second place over the final 1.8 miles.

In April, Diego beat back all challengers with a decisive win at the LA Circuit Race to claim another win for 2011. In May he nailed third place at the Barrio Logan crit, and followed it with a win at the Ontario crit in June. When he got home, he noticed a small corner on his trophy shelf that didn’t have anything on it, so he made the trip to Bakersfield for the state championship road race, won that, and is now in the process of building a new shelf.

Ik bin wielrenner

As part of the 2011 USA Cycling 15/16 European Development Camp, Diego and five other Americans hit the Belgian cobbles in August. Their race schedule included four kermesses and a stage race. The four-day West Flanders Cycling Tour was over the top in difficulty, as Diego found himself thrown into an aggressive, fast, no-holds barred style of racing. Unlike American races, where many of the riders are pack fodder from the beginning, and they know it, in Belgium it seemed as if every single guy was going for the win.

In the Heestert Kermesse, with the rain pouring down on a cold afternoon, Diego launched from the field in the 63k kermesse with 3k to go and tore victory from the teeth of 97 other disappointed competitors. Being part of the team in the West Flanders stage race meant that Diego saw action supporting his teammate Geoffrey, who won the prologue to claim the yellow jersey.

After stage two, the leader’s jersey shifted onto the back of another member of the American squad. Diego went down in a crash and flatted, but exhibited the same toughness he’d shown on MT III by chasing his way back to the peloton and finishing with the leaders.

The third stage of the tour was even more brutal. Since the U.S. riders had the leader’s jersey from the first day on the Belgians’ home turf, no one amongst the enemy had anything to lose. The attacks were constant and relentless, as each of the twenty-five European teams worked together to stymie the hopes of the Americans. By the end of the third day of racing, the hometown Euros had the jersey.

In the end, though, Team USA fought back to reclaim the yellow jersey. On the final day, an attack with 10k to go brought American Logan Owen to the finish with enough of an advantage to win the overall. The teamwork earned a first-ever victory in this tough European stage race for a U.S. National Junior Team. Diego summed it up thus: “Racing in Belgium changed me forever.”

In other words…watch him light it up in 2012.

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