January 11, 2013 § 20 Comments
[Private message sent out to lucky invitee participants of Dave Jaeger’s Annual and Legendary Southern California French Toast Ride Beatdown and Smacktalk Session]
By now you’ve checked the weather forecast. Rather, you’ve been compulsively checking it for the last month, hoping for rain, or snow, or even heavy clouds, anything to make Jaeger call off this nonsensical affair.
The bad news is that in Camarillo tomorrow it will only be partly cloudy with no snow or tsunamis in the forecast. The worse news is that when we roll out it will be 35 degrees. The worst news of all is that you have no idea what to wear.
Leg warmers? But what if it doesn’t warm up in time?
Tights? What if it gets too hot? Isn’t the high supposed to be 58?
Shoe covers? But aren’t they heavy and won’t they slow you down? Plus, they’re too bulky to put in your jersey, right? And they look clunky. But you hate cold feet. You bonk when your feet get cold, remember?
Maybe you should wear toe covers? But toe covers won’t do anything in 25 degree weather. Twenty-five degrees? Right, twenty-five, because with the wind chill you can knock off a good ten degrees, and that’s assuming the wind isn’t already blowing straight into your face, which it did last year for the first ten miles. If it does that tomorrow at 35 degrees, you’ll be dead by mile six. How will you keep warm?
Embro? You haven’t used it all year because you’ve been golfing and cooking Cornish hens in your new, oversized George Foreman Cooker like Harry, or sleeping ‘til noon like Yuletide, or not riding at all like Toronto. If you use embro now you could end up with hot parts, like Skeletor did two years ago. Hot parts for seven hours is a long, hot time.
Punkster, I can’t believe you’re coming back for this ride. Thirty years younger than the next youngest rider, you’ve failed to ever distinguish yourself except as fodder for the first easy attack into Fillmore. After that you’ve been crushed, beaten, dropped, and ground up by people old enough to be your grandfather’s grandfather, or older than Stern-O, even. Well, not older than Stern-O.
G3, your excuse of loose bowels is finely honed and we’ve all been led to expect that you’ll just barely be surviving, but we know it’s cover for the fact that you’ve logged 14,000 base miles this winter squiring the whole pack of Big Orangers up and down PCH at 13 mph on no-drop rides. We know that secretly you’re going to make a surge after sucking wheel the whole ride, sandbagging to the very end and then, if you flail, blaming it on the bowels, but if you succeed, rubbing salt in the wound by saying you did it “At 50%; imagine if I hadn’t been sick.”
Bull, you’ll avoid blowing up in the first mile, maybe, and will do everything in your power to “ride strategically.” However, there’s no “strategy” for getting a boxcar of lead up Casitas and Balcom without a hoist, and the closest thing we had to a hoist in terms of weight, girth, and immobility was Oldman, and he’s quit in order to replace his La-Z-Boy reclinacouch with a triple wide version and built-in brewpub. So you’ll lug yourself up on your hands and knees and promise to do better next time. Hint: you won’t do better until you learn to say “no” to the fifth trip up the buffet line at those 1-percenter conferences you attend every other week.
Überfred, I’m lumping you with the other Long Beach Freddies as toxic material barely worthy of mention. The entire pack will be pedaling madly to stay away from the cadmium/mercury/radioactive isotopes that all you guys carry on your skin. And frankly, they won’t have to pedal very hard to do it. We’ll see how late into the ride you keep yelling for everyone to “take a pull.” My prediction is that you’ll be silently sucking wheel the entire day, praying that no one sends you into the wind.
Becker Bob, the last time you did this ride you got the award for Dude Who Rode Longest With Fewest Training Miles. That was honorable then, but it’s been two years and you should have ridden your bike in the interim. This year you will be coyote fodder. The Circle K has been boarded up, though, so if you carry a hammer you can pull a few nails, climb in, and at least have somewhere to spend the night.
Bones ‘N Skin, I remember like it was yesterday when you made that acceleration on Lake Casitas, followed by a major engine rupture and rapid reversal of motion. Will 2013 be any different? How? Why? You need to get off the Toronto/Yuletide/Becker Bob training program and increase your mileage to at least three donut shops per week. Really.
Skeletor, you’ve trained for this and this alone for the last three years. Quit pretending otherwise. We’ve followed you on Strava and know that you’re peaking. There will be no excuses this year, no “Wankster blew at the bottom of Balcom after our pee stop attack and collapsed on the guardrails” excusifying. Nope. No broken back, cracked necks, laminated skulls, infected intestines, or anything else. Pressure’s on. Everyone’s got a beautiful, well-polished, handcrafted excuse except you. Welcome to hell.
Anonymous, you’d deserve lots of smack talk except that you’re always hiding so well that I frankly couldn’t pick you out of a crowd of two. Maybe this year you will nose to the front and show your true colors…and as long as they’re not those awful corpse-gray colors you were sporting last year, it will be a good thing. Did you eventually burn those kits? I think they were the ugliest thing in the peloton ever. Until you came up with those checkered things. And Wehrlissimo’s plaid shorts. Yuck!
Gil, you get a pass for saving that dude’s life in the car. But next year, forget it. The bulls-eye will be so big a blind man could hit it.
Turtle, you’ll cower and shrink again on the 101, unable to pull through, barely able to hang on, a testament to the ill effects of too much beer, too many cheeseburgers, too many videos, and too little time spent riding something other than Überfred’s 26-mile “hammerfests” in the mountains of Long Beach. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll all be watching.
Harry, what can I say? As long as you get on my wheel once, I have the medicine to punish you for your insolence. You inhaled it once on Encinal. You will inhale much, much more tomorrow. I’ve been snacking on a special variety of double-fermented cattle offal kimchee for you and you alone. And no cheating this year on Casitas, you cheating cheaty cheater.
DJ, your efforts on Casitas will be marked. By me. I will drop you just like two years ago, when you flailed, struggled, and surged, only to get kicked out the back at the end at the end of the climb. Okay, so you caught up and dropped me later on the second mini-peak, but that’s because I let you. Tomorrow I will simply let you dangle, then garrot you with an attack of such speed, power, and wild abandon that your last memory will be of a pink flash traveling at the speed of light. No manner of home remodel excuses or fan thingy routing or placement of the urinal (Next to the bed? In the kitchen?) will earn you anything other than a merciless drubbing.
Yuletide, you know you shouldn’t be doing this. You’ve not been riding. You’ve had surgery. Big surgery. Massive surgery. You’ve had kidney failure. Potassium depletion. Erectile dysfunction. Echinaea of the postpartum. And worse. Even without those things you’re a first-class wanker. But your foolish pride and desire to be with the boys is forcing you do something that even Oldman recognized was folly. Repent now, and give your spot to Tink. She’ll ride better, punish more people, and get more out of it than you, who will be in the passenger seat of the sag wagon come mile fifty.
Toronto, as the only person weaker and less trained than Yuletide, people are counting on you to act as a cushion for their own flailing. That would be Fussy, who was, in fact super depressed to learn that Oldman was bailing because he’d pegged Oldman as the one rider who, even mathematically, had no chance of finishing ahead of him. Marc, you had so many great excuses! Too much work; romancing a lovely lady; trips to Rome; ballet lessons. Why not cash in on them now? You’ll crawl up the climbs and be lucky to make it to the top, and I’m just talking about that little bump after we leave the Jaegers’ driveway. Really. This is madness. Quit while you’re still behind.
As for me, I’ve shaved 76 pounds off my normally large frame and now have a power-to-weight ratio of Huge : Tiny. There will be no mercy. I’ve logged more miles than G3 and more intensity than all of G$ and Roadchamp’s big ring workouts combined. I rode one-legged around the peninsula yesterday in a 30-degree sleetstorm wearing only a Speedo and t-shirt. It took fifteen minutes.
I’ll be pre-fueling tonight with a special kimchee combo for Harry, and will be bringing the magic dates-and-almond rocket fuel for in-ride power boosts and speed enhancement. In short, there’s nothing any of you will be able to do in the face of my awesomeness, other than take photos (from a distance) and post cool things on my FB page like “You’re the best!” and “Like” and “Über like.”
Free autographs to the first five who finish after me, $45 each for the rest of you.
There will of course be fine, warm, tasty French toast prior to the screaming beatdown, but here, too, your choices are fraught with peril. Eat too much and ride like you’re dragging a railroad tie. Eat too little and no amount of in-ride fueling will feed the beast on the 101, let alone Casitas and Balcom. But with all the clothes you’re bringing, will there be pocket room for food? How many Gu’s can you force into your jersey? And what’s the best food to take out and eat without having to shuck off three layers of clothing to get to it? And what about zipping and unzipping while you ride? What if you’re not so good at that, and you have to stop to zip back up? What if you get dropped, or if you’re already dropped? Toilet stops? What if the cold makes you pee more than normal? What if “normal” is as often as our leader’s tender prostate, one-urination-per-kilometer?
Oh, and how’re you going to climb Casitas with twelve pounds of wool clothing tied to your waist?
Let’s not forget that your S.O. has a honey-do list for you tonight so you won’t get to bed before one o’clock. Then you’ll toss and turn. And you have a hard time riding on insufficient sleep. I suppose you can keep hoping that maybe it will snow, like it did this week in Palestine for the first time in recorded history.
Well, it’s been fun. I’m going to start my taper now. Say your prayers, if you believe in that sort of thing. The only one who’ll be listening is the stony slope of Balcom Canyon.
September 26, 2012 § 10 Comments
It’s been simmering for months now.
One group of idiots wants to take the bike path. Another group of idiots wants to take the alleyway.
And today, it all boiled over.
Advocates for the bike path
The bike path has everything going for it. It allows for a slow and measured pace out to the dickstomping grounds of Westchester Parkway. It provides panoramic views of the beauty that is Santa Monica Bay, with Malibu, the mountain peaks, blue skies, and gently breaking waves as a backdrop. It meanders. It is devoid of angry drivers seeking to start their day with a bit of fresh cyclist roadkill. It’s traditional, and it lets you start your day, whether winter, spring, summer, or fall, with a crisp reminder of all that is good and lovely and wonderful about Southern California. If there’s a swell working at El Porto, you may even get to see one of Dan-O’s Danc surfboards shredding the glassy face of a tidy little beach break.
Advocates for the alleyway
The alleyway has nothing going for it. It’s ugly. Cars dart out of garages and cross streets with only inches to spare. Gnarly drainage culverts whack your rims every few hundred yards. The landscape is a gloomy ass-end of homes and condos, blotting out the sky, the sun, the ocean, and the early morning thongage. The occasional pack of grim-face runners will swoop by, looking like runners everywhere look: miserable and in pain.
Like a cheap whore, the alleyway is fast, boneshaking, and gets straight down to the business of going from the Pier to the beatdown in the shortest possible time. At the end of the alleyway, there’s a short jaunt over to Vista del Mar, where the peloton picks up a mashing head of steam, blasts down Mt. Chevron hill, and pounds it hard all the way to the Pershing death launch.
Why would anyone choose the alleyway?
First, because people are sheep, and they will follow where led, even, and especially, to the slaughter. Second, the bike path is often strewn with sand, which creates ickyness inside the links of $250 Campy chains and fancy Chris King freehubs. Third, although the drowsy morning commuters lurching forth pose certain hazards, the bike path features large numbers of the dreaded pathalete, a species of biker/runner/rollerblader/walker/stroller pusher/surfer/skateboarder/razorer who careens along the narrow strip of asphalt, often threatening to bash head-on into the rolling peloton.
Of course, the bike path is luxuriously wondrous for viewing if you’re on the point, but everyone else (except Hockeystick, who’s always got his head turned sideways) has to focus intently on not crashing due to slowing, extremely tight quarters, and the numerous turns that are studded with sand.
But the biggest strike against the bike path is that it’s pleasant and leisurely, so when the nasty reality of the Pershing bump appears, numerous wankers find their kneecaps blown off by the sudden hard surge.
When the voice of the South Bay speaks
…you listen. And this morning, G$ began the ride thus: “Assembled wankers! Today we ride the bike path! It is spoken!”
No one’s voice has the strength of G$’s, and when he pointed his bike down the path, all but six of the massed riders followed. I headed for the alleyway with SBW Eric, Patricia, Canyon Bob, Jens, Pistol Pete, and one or two others. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, I was trying to fuel a controversy. There’s a difference.
By the time we reached Dockweiler, we could see over onto the bike path from Vista del Mar, and the wankoton was far ahead. Eric and I rolled steady, trying to make up ground, and apparently we succeeded, attested to by his deep gasps and the strings of snot trailing along my upper lip and around my neck. At the Pershing launch site, Canyon Bob sprunted up the hill. Bucks and a handful of others saw us coming and wrongly assumed we were the main group.
Canyon Bob kept mashing, I clung to his wheel, and by World Way ramp at LAX we had a flailaway group that included Chris Stewart, Dan Luzier, Chris Cooke, and four or five others who all died an untimely death by the time we dropped down back onto Pershing. At the turn onto Westchester there were just four of us. The main peloton was far behind and apparently not willing to chase. After a while Dan crawled into the gutter and rolled up in a fetal position. We soldiered on.
One for the record books
Of the many incredible benefits of doing a clusterfuck like the NPR, none surpasses this: If you flail, you can blame it on the lights or on the speeding peloton working together to rein in your heroicism. If you prevail, you can chalk it up to your general greatness and wonderfulability on the bike. Conversely, if you’re in the pack and someone escapes, you can blame it on the lights you had to stop at, or the traffic you had to wait for at the turnarounds, or on the unwillingness of the dawdling peloton to work together to rein in those OTF wankers.
In short, there’s a plausible excuse for everyone, and you can always tell your wife how awesome you were and how everyone else sucked.
Today saw the first time in the history of the NPR that a breakaway stayed away for the entire four laps around the Parkway. The victors chalked it up to their speed, their ability to work together (as Jack from Illinois [not his real name] would say), their canny sense of timing, their hardness into the wind, their incredible ability to endure pain that would destroy mere mortals, and their fancy bicycling outfits.
Grumpy wankers in the peloton saw it differently, as this menu of comments suggests:
Prez: You were off the front the whole time? I thought you had a flat and got dropped.
Black Sheep Squadron: You didn’t win the NPR, dude, you cheated by taking a shorter route.
Hoss: No one bothered to chase. Didn’t you see us soft-pedaling and laughing at you each time you passed on the other side of the Parkway?
Stathis the Wily Greek: We let you have it.
Ol’ Bollix: Dude, you sneaked away on Vista del Mar and hammered before anyone even knew you were gone. Then you ran all the red lights except one, and you only stopped there because of the cop car. Finally, it’s the fuggin’ off season and the only people on the point were the schmoes who use this as their one chance all year to go to the front. What a fuggin’ joke. You guys are a sneaky bunch of cheatbag wanktards.
As I said, there’s a plausible excuse for everyone. Which begs the question, now that the wankoton has seen that a well-timed, well-placed, well-stoplighted breakaway can p*wn the group, when faced with the choice of bike path vs. alleyway on Thursday…
…which one will it be?
August 15, 2012 § 5 Comments
High levels of molybdenum can interfere with the body’s uptake of copper, producing copper deficiency. Symptoms include diarrhea, stunted growth, anemia, and achromotrichia. On the other hand, not having enough causes high levels of sulfite and urate, and neurological damage. So it makes sense that in order to get just the right amount, you’d go to Leadville, CO for the weekend, a scenic little village known for its molybdenum production.
What makes less sense is that you’d go there for a 104-mile bike race. It’s located at 19,324 feet, which is higher than Mt. Everest, although slightly shorter than Via la Cuesta (per Nancy). Leadville is an old mining town, which is tourist-speak for “run down, polluted shit-hole that is unbearably cold in winter, too far from everything fun in summer, and populated by people who, after four generations, all look the same.”
It took a visionary like Ken Chlouber, a former mining supervisor, to revive the town on a tried-and-true concept: There’s a sucker born every minute!
The night before the race
Nothing is as nerve-wracking as the night before a big race, and our hero from the South Bay had made the trek determined to succeed. He had prepared. He knew the course backwards and forwards. He had memorized every single rest stop, poop stop, waystation, halfway house, IV drip station, and custom coffin manufacturer. There would be no surprises.
He’d prepared all year to be the best HUB at the Leadville 100, the hand-up bitch to beat all hand-up bitches. It would be a huge responsibility keeping Mighty Mouse and Tree fueled for this epic race, but he’d grown a three-foot beard. He’d bought a crumpled cowboy hat. He was wearing an orange skirt. G$ was ready.
That’s “MISTER” Hand-up Bitch to you, pal
Leadville is an out and back course and has featured some of the finest cyclists in the world, men with stuff in their veins that doesn’t qualify as blood, but can’t properly be called ice water, either. Lance, Levi, and Floyd have all taken on this legendary course, and have set course records that have yet to be struck down by an appeals court, an arbitration panel, or a post-judgment ruling.
The race begins at 10,200 feet. This is twice as high as Denver, but only about one-hundredth as high as Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver in 1985, when I saw the Dead there. Arriving a week before the race to hone her altitude fitness, Mighty Mouse remarked, “Dog, I’m out of breath just climbing the stairs!”
G$, who was there to polish his HUB skills, turned to her that first evening and said, “Honey, I’m winded just brushing my teeth.”
The dawn of the day of the damned
Mighty Mouse knew she was in select company, as she lined up with only 3,000 cyclists, a fraction of the number who’d come out on the NPR the week before to see if Prez was really going to wear a lime green jersey and purple shorts (he did).
She was parked in the third starting corral, with 800 people in front, which, though daunting, wasn’t nearly as bad as Puddsy Osterknocker, who was in the 187th corral and had 2,999 wankers he’d have to pass. Or not.
At the start of the race a wanker on a purple bike with skinny tires, a month of razor stubble, triple that amount of B.O., and a big booger stuck to his mustache turned to Mighty Mouse and said “This is going to be an epic day!” She closed her eyes and prayed that she wouldn’t fall off a cliff, and if she did, that B.O. Boy wouldn’t fall anywhere near her.
Neutral start with a twist of lemon and a slice of battery acid
Mighty Mouse stared at her front wheel, body tensed, mind focused on the task at hand as an overwhelming feeling of excitement flooded through her, tingling her extremities and making her think of…never mind…that’s in the Fifty Shades of Leadville, a sequel coming next month for which you’ll have to pay.
The starting shotgun fired, a few birds fell from the sky, and they rolled out on a neutral start through Leadville. For each neutral pedal stroke of the neutral start, neutral wankers neutrally fought for every neutral millimeter of position, neutrally clawing, bumping, rubbing, headbutting, and threading impossible non-openings to gain any neutral advantage for the first climb.
Scrambling and gasping and pounding as hard as they could, the wankoton hit St. Keivens, and the gradual pace fit perfectly with Mighty Mouse’s grand plan, which was first not to die, and second, not to fall off the cliff with B.O. Boy. After climbing a few miles, she came onto pavement only to discover that Murphy’s Law of Bike Racing applies even in Leadville: The crazy/dangerous/stinky dude you’re most desperate to avoid in the 3,000-strong peloton is the wanker you’ll be with the entire race.
B.O. Boy’s preparation had been less than ideal, and he was hanging onto Mighty Mouse’s wheel making awful moaning sounds that frightened the small children lining the route. She decided to lose the stinker with a fast descent around Turquoise Lake, then pounded up Hagerman’s Pass to Sugerloaf Mountain to the top of Powerline. The climbs were standard 6% grade with a few puddles here and there, until you realize that six percent is enough to turn you into a melted marshmallow after four or five minutes of hard effort. B.O. Boy had found his second wind and sprunted off ahead, but never so far that the awful smell didn’t drift back to the followers.
More power to the engine, Mr. Scott!
Picture a 30% grade that’s about eleventy twelve miles long. Okay, there’s something wrong with you if you can picture that. Then picture the bottom part with hard packed sand, two foot ruts, sharp turns, and no consistent line unless you’re driving a bulldozer. Oh, and the top half is covered with jagged rocks, human skulls, tiger pits, and angry motorists with rifles. You’ve just pictured the Powerline climb.
It gets its picturesque name, oddly enough, from a power line. Those Leadvillains may be dumb, but they sure are stupid.
As Mighty Mouse overtook B.O. Boy, eyes tearing up from the effort, several of her co-workers began the first series of crashes, as they would get stuck in between ruts, while at the same time more skilled riders were rocketing down, more or less out of control (usually more), on both sides of the trail.
The carnage was awful to behold. Wankers flopping on their sides. Wankers flying over the handlebars into the ruts at speed. Wankers tipping over and cracking their noggins on the rocks. It was like the biggest fred ride in the history of the universe interspersed with some of the best, fastest, most skilled MTB riders in the galaxy. It was the NPR after a gravel truck spill, on steroids. (Uh, maybe not a great analogy).
Mighty Mouse let the wankers fold, picked a great line, and pounded her way down. On the downhill she careened around fallen riders, leaped tall trees, and generally got down in one piece. The last time she saw B.O. Boy he was begging a kid spectator for a drink from the kid’s coke can while the child frantically dialed 911.
If it’s called “Pipeline” then you can surf it
Mighty Mouse hit the pavement and sat for a few minutes while the smallish wankoton looked about, each rider hoping the other would stick his nose in the wind. No one wanted to pull.
Putting her exceptional NPR training to good use, she Went to the Front and began stomping the snot out of the limpish appendages hanging out of various male bib shorts. This got the paceline going, and they reached Twin Lakes in roughly 3 hours. To put this in perspective, a normal person would do the same route in three days, give or take a month.
At Twin Lakes, Mighty Mouse’s hand-up bitch churned to the fore, stepping on the heads and internal organs of other, less experienced HUB’s. Blowing into the feed zone at 20 mph it was first hard to spot G$ among the hundreds of screaming people all trying to find their rider. It seemed like half of them were there for B.O. Boy, but even the Army of Stink was no match for G$ in his full-on hand-up bitch mode.
With some HUB’s clinging to his beard, others latching onto his Stetson, he shook them loose with kicks, bites, and scratches as he refueled the mighty tank of the Mighty Mouse.
The Columbine beatdown
This 10-mile, 3,000-foot ascent up the face of one of the toughest climbs in the race, summiting at 12,500 feet, was destined to bring even the hardiest wankers to their bloodied, quivering knees.
Picture a gravel-covered Fernwood for five miles, and then the climb gets really nasty. It goes from gravel to loose rock, to even looser rock, and gets steeper as you climb higher before it ends in a rusty guillotine, under which your head is placed. The blade, dulled from the rust, simply hammers your head two or thirteen times until the agony in your temples makes a migraine look like headache relief. That’s what happens when you run your body through hell with no oxygen. That’s why people die on Everest. And that’s why you and I are reading about this in the comfort of our beanbag chair, smoking a doobie and ordering more pizza.
Mighty Mouse reached down to swig from her bottle, but hardly had the oxygen to swallow. Chewing her GU rubber thingies required so much oxygen for her jaw muscles that she had to do Lamaze just to get down a bite.
Obi-wan Kenobi tells the Jedi that The Force is with them
Just as the Lamaze breathing seemed as if it would induce delivery, Mighty Mouse looked up to see the Leadville founder, the Zen master of MTB, the karmic spirit of the greatest MTB race ever, the tantric sex god who invented the “Triple-hold Reverse Battering Ram,” Ken Chlouber himself, the man who knew so much about mountain biking that he wasn’t about to do this stupid race again, at treeline yelling “Dig deep! You’re tougher than you think you are! You can do more than you think you can!”
Mighty Mouse was so inspired she would have cried had she not been trying to keep from vomiting.
With the words of Chlouber ringing in her ears, Mighty Mouse was able to ride to the goat trail about 1/2-mile from the top of Columbine where she had to get off and walk. And so the death march began. If you think riding a bike to exhaustion is awful, wait ’til you have to follow it with a ten-minute bike push up a 300% grade paved with glass and dead people.
This marked the turnaround! The survivors had their numbers recorded, thanked the volunteers, sobbed on their shoulders, asked where the taxi stand was, and upon learning that there wasn’t one, they began the epic descent down Columbine.
Easy for you to say
Incredible as it sounds to think that 3,000 wankers would ride their bikes up a mine shaft on top of Mt. Everest, it was more incredible when Mighty Mouse saw that, as she bombed down the mountain, there were thousands of people walking up.
Where were they from?
What were they doing?
Why were they doing it?
Did anyone have a stretcher?
As she blew by, the enthusiastic spectatewalkers shouted, “You’re almost at the top!” and “Keep your tires rolling!” and most terrifying of all “Rider up! I’m on your ass like buttfloss!”
After the Columbine descent, Mighty Mouse’s HUB reappeared, handing her food, drink, and a healthy helping of encouragement. She quickly grabbed more stuff, and headed back to Pipeline.
The next ten miles were into a brutal headwind. She was alone. She was tired. She was hoping that Sasquatch might show up and give her a push. She remembered that one mile on an MTB is like a thousand miles on a normal road bike with no air and square wheels.
In the out door, or up the down climb
Part of the horror of Leadville is that everything you encounter on the way out, you encounter on the way back. The nasty climbs are hairy descents, and the hairy descents are nasty climbs. Mighty Mouse climbed the first steep section of Powerline, her legs feeling like Leadville, her lungs starting to burn holes in the bottom, and strange bits of phlegm, blood, and esophogeal tissue coming out her ears
It was now Mile 80, her legs crumpled, and she dismounted. After a respite, she hopped back on and rode the rest of the way up. A few false flats made the job easier, but like everything else in this race, as soon as something got easier it got lots harder. In this case the flats had loose rock, which made it hard to gain traction.
Down the rocky, technical, terrifying, death-defying section onto Turquoise Lake Road, then another fast descent, and then a climb up the back side of the lake. This was the point where the living were separated from the dead.
With each pedal stroke a mash of agony, Mighty Mouse couldn’t believe her luck when a young, muscular, tanned, fit young Adonis with perfectly moussed hair ran up along side her. “Hey,” he said in a baritone. “Mind if I sample the goods?”
“Smart shoppers always do,” she said as his strong, sinewy, powerful palms pressed against her aching ass. He pushed, then caught up to her, then pushed again. He was strong, and each shove sent her flying up the road, allowing precious recovery before her legs kicked back to life.
“Was it good for you?” he shouted as she pedaled off. “It was awesome for me!”
Hand-up Bitch to the rescue!
Having gnarled her way through one hundred miles of freds, ruts, crashes, hypooxygenation, mental fatigue, and physical collapse, Mighty Mouse had only a few miles to go, but her tank was so dangerously low that she didn’t see how she’d conquer the final four-mile Boulevard Climb. This vicious stinger on the end of the ride was inhuman: lined with the bones of last year’s decedents and covered with nails and soft sand, Mighty Mouse knew her race was at an end. Nothing could get her up this final hill.
In the run-up to the climb she’d hopped onto a paceline, and it was rolling fast, even though everyone knew they’d crack and quit two hundred yards into the climb. And then, there on the side was G$, armed with the Special Hand-up Bitch Bottle…but the speed! He’d never get her a hand-up at 25mph!
Trained as a track star, and the recipient of countless high-speed hand-ups, Mighty Mouse’s HUB knew exactly what to do. He spun and began sprinting as if shot out of a gun. His brief burst hit maximum speed as MM raced by, arm outstretched. She grabbed the bottle perfectly!
And no ordinary bottle was it! This was G$’s last reserve of Ruggedmaxx Endurance IV, which had the effect of slinging Mighty Mouse up the last four-mile climb like a rocket and giving all the men in a four-mile radius erections that lasted for two days.
All’s well that ends well on the Leadville 100, especially if it’s someone else doing it
As she approached the finish line children were scattering, cowbells were ringing, and babies were crying. A feeling of amazing accomplishment came over her as she rolled onto the red carpet. A Leadman himself placed a medal around her neck. She was so happy to get off her bike and be done, especially because there was a cool 85-mile trail ride she wanted to do the following day.
She started to tear up as she realized what she had accomplished, and how lucky she’d been to have the best hand-up bitch in America there when she needed him most.
For him, too, it had been an amazing day, hanging out on the trails, drinking whatever was left in castaway bottles, snacking on the numerous mashed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and best of all, running up and down the trails with the four and five-year old kids. He was definitely the only kid with a three-foot beard.
After the race, the two champions, each successful in their own way, enjoyed a candlelight dinner over hamburgers while drunken Leadvillains played banjo love songs to their next of kin.
Until next year, all hail the Mighty Mouse!
June 14, 2012 § 4 Comments
Your morning begins like this, his morning begins like this, her morning begins like this, and my morning begins like this: “Fuck. Is it time to get up already?”
Shortly after the get-up-now-you-fucker ringtone, I got a text buzz from Hair, who had planned to meet me at the top of VdM, from whence we would pedal to the ride. I didn’t even have to look at the screen. The only reason a riding buddy texts you at 5:20 AM is to say, “I’m a lazyfuk and not coming. See you at the Pier,” which is exactly what it said.
Strap it on, bitch
I got up. I put on my undershirt. I put on my bibs. I put on my jersey. I put on my armwarmers and socks and gloves and helmet. I put my tire lever thingy and spare tube and plastic wallet and shit into my back pocket. I aired up my tars and I filled my water bottle, the one that says CalBikeLaw.com just in case some fucker runs me over and I need to dial up my lawyer’s website while I’m bleeding out in the gutter.
I opened the hall closet and rummaged through the shoes that were all dumped on top of each other, looking for my stomp boots. The big red ones with gnarly ridges on the soles so that when I get to stomping on somebody’s dick and it gets caught in the soles the ridges hook onto it good. The big red ones with 47 eyeholes for lacing it up with thick leather laces. The big red ones with the left foot pointy steel toed for drawing blood, and the right steel toed one for just kicking the shit out of something until it’s blunt too.
I laced up those motherfucking stomp boots good and tight.
Then I got my GoAmateur camera and bolted that motherfucker onto the rails of my bike seat using a mos-def K-Edge GoAmateur Seatcam Rail Clamp. It sounds like an antivenin for venereal disease, but it isn’t.
I strapped that bitch onto my bike seat good and tight.
This hero sandwich ain’t got no beef
We got to Pershing and I hit the jets up the little riser. Then I fizzled at the little bend and Hair came stomping by and gapped everyone. Then G$ came stomping by and gapped everyone. Then I drifted back into the wankoton and sucked wheel. I had flat legs and was going to have to sit in and hide from the front like all the other wankers on the NPR usually do.
And you know what I learned? It’s ridiculously easy. I barely cracked a sweat. What a fucking joke. No wonder everyone’s always smiling and chatty and catching up on the news and complimenting each other’s thick, luscious eyelashes and shit.
So then I went and took a pull and felt really terrible, so I stopped doing that. There was a passel of wankers who had steel in their eyes and fire in their bellies and they were determined to get up to the front and lay it down. But they were having difficulty finding the front. I overheard ’em.
“Hey, Wanker #3491, where’s that there front?”
“I was gonna ask you the same thing!”
“Is that it up there?”
“I think so!”
“Let’s go up there, then!”
And off they went and I followed for a way, but sure enough, they got lost and couldn’t find it. I felt sorry for them and tried to help. “Hey, you pussy motherfuckers! The front’s up there! Where all that open space is! And where there’s ten guys in a single line! And where the wind is blowing that steel flagpole double! Get up there and take a pull you lazy motherfuckers!”
They doubled up their efforts and charged up towards the front, but just where the double-wide draft of Pischon and the triple-wide draft of Big Steve and the quadruple-wide draft of Fr8 Train stopped, that’s where they got lost again and drifted back to the back.
Save your bullets, especially when they’re BB’s
On the beginning of the third lap Paul Che attacked into the headwind. Stathis the Wily Greek and Ryan Begley and some other Big Orange dude went with him, and I struggled up to the rear. We had a good gap but got stopped at the light. Just when we put our feet down the pack caught us and the light turned green and there I was in the thick of the wankoton again.
Everybody was so darned happy and the pace was so damned slow, the pack spread out five or six people wide. What a wankfest. It strung out a little with the tailwind, but if you cowered behind Big Steve you got up the little climb without hardly turning your legs, much less hurting. On my right was Hockeystick. On my left was Gooseman. What more proof did I need that it was easy?
Please momma, I promise I’ll stop wetting the bed
On the beginning of the fourth lap I attacked into the headwind. G$ and Don the Referee Dude went with me. We flailed along for a while until the wankoton sort of gave up. G$ took a big pull. Don the Referee Dude came through and flailed, then cracked. I saw he was hurting, and he really seemed like a good guy and I liked him and respected his effort, so I put the knife in his nuts and turned up the pace a couple mph when I came through. He fell out through the bomb bay doors and was gone.
G$ hunkered down and adjusted the “kill” setting on his stomp boots and began to kick the shit out of his pedals like they were made of dicks. It was all I could do to hang on. The wankoton had gotten a big ol’ mouthful of headwind and was choking on it like a dog trying to swallow peanut butter, and we had a gap of 40 or 200 nautical miles. At the turnaround we were about twenty seconds up.
G$ sat up. “I’m going back there, Wanky. You got this one. Get it!”
This was like when my mom used to drop me off at the Harmon School in Houston, before she got my my stuffed tiger, Georgey. I wanted to cry. “Please don’t leave me, mom! I promise I’ll stop peeing in my bed! I promise I’ll stop chewing the liners in your dress shoes! I promise I’ll quit feeding ammonia and aspirin to the dog!”
But it was all to no avail. G$ left me to my own devices, just like at the Harmon School when I had to walk through the gate, sobbing bitter tears as the evil pack of cruel bullies gleefully waited their turn to rip me to shreds. So I wiped my eyes and put my head down and kept stomping the pedals. Pretty soon I was up the riser and had crossed the bridge.
No one in the history of anything has ever been chased down by Prez
You know how when you meet a nice girl and in the first few seconds you kind of hit it off and you both get that good vibe without having to say anything, and then before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself she says, “Look, I don’t do anal unless we’re married”?
Well, that’s how it is with Prez. Prez don’t do chasing (not sure about the premarital anal). So you can damn well bet I was chagrined to get caught 100 meters before the finish line, which is the start of the third traffic island, and to have Hair pass me at 40mph, followed by Erik the Vicious, followed in turn by Prez. I checked my post-ride video and there was Prez, leading the chase and leading out Hair and Erik to pimp me after a five-mile breakaway.
I could tell you that I stopped at the stoplight because it was red and because there was a cop there and because I’m a noble and honest dude who doesn’t believe in cheating to win something as silly as a group ride that you can’t even win anyway, but you’d call bullshit and say I was a lying, cheating, underhanded fuck who would stop at nothing to win, including spiking my water bottle with RuggedMAXXX2 and running all the lights, because that’s the kind of bastard I am.
And you’d be mostly right.
June 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
How many times in your life do you get to compete for a championship? I’m not talking an NFL championship, or an NBA championship, or even an NHPA or an NTL championship. Those last two are National Horseshoe Pitching Association and the National Tiddlywinks League, and no, I don’t make this shit up. I make up other shit.
The fact is, you don’t often get to scrap for a championship, especially when you’re old, gizzardy, brokedown, brokebacked, when you piss too often, crap too seldom, are creaky in the morning and wore out by mid-afternoon. Nope, championships are generally for the young and the restless.
Once a year, though, if you are a bicyclist, you can compete for a state bicycling championship, where you pedal your bicycle as quickly as you can to win a prize. Then, if you win the prize, you can buy an even more special prize, to wit, a poorly made, ill fitting jersey in someone else’s size with a bad design that, ugly though it is and fitting as a potato sack though it may be, bears the words “State Champion” and the year of your championship.
This is a prize worth fighting for.
The course of snakes, stinging insects, drunk truckers, and champions
Today is Friday, June 1, 2012. It’s two days before the 45+ Elderly Fellows’ State Championship Road Race in Bakersfield, California. The race covers three 25-mile loops around a hilly course in the desert that has one moderately long climb and numerous short, punchy climbs designed to sap your legs, drain your fluids, and crush your will to survive. As I write this, a friend has Facebooked the current temp there, a moderately warm 105 degrees.
Although you would think that a desert course like this is destined to be hideously ugly, it isn’t. The hills are beautiful, and the desert has the rugged beauty of places where rain is scarce. The visual appeal of the course, however, can only be appreciated in a fast-moving car with the window rolled up and the air conditioner cranked up to “ten.”
Once you are pitched out from the cool security of the car like a fledgling forced to make its first flight, distanced from easy reach into the cooler and its mother lode of cold water, cold soda pop, and cold beer, the desert racecourse that has been designed by the Bakersfieldians is not beautiful at all. Its lack of beauty is only partially caused by the fact that the searing heat is so intense that your corneas begin to roast off the surface of the eyeball.
The true source of the course’s hideousness is the pounding sense of terror and desperation as you flail and pedal and struggle your way out, praying that you will make it back in. This isn’t a sprinter’s special, where well oiled, handsome, kitted up Adonises leisurely pedal for 54 minutes and pedal hard for one.
This is a course where the cowering starters start slowly, knowing that most will quit halfway through, and where the group will only pedal faster when some idiot attacks, or accelerates, or behaves like he’s in a bike race. The pain and torture of the heat, compounded by stinging flies, bee swarms, and poisonous snakes along the roadway to bite those unlucky enough to collapse from heat prostration make Bakersfield truly a place for others to call home.
The field will be half-filled with Big Orange, a smattering of SPY-Blue, and onesy-twosy riders from other teams. Although the bragging rights to the winner are galactic in scope, realistically hardly anyone has a chance of winning. Better to stay home and race another crit than suffer the expense, exhaustion, and humiliation of a beatdown so far from home.
What follows is a list of contenders, beginning with the odds-on favorite.
1. Wankmeister. Let’s face it, I’m the favorite here. First off, I grew up in Texas, so 105-degree heat is nothing. Average summer temperatures where I grew up were 140. At night. It’s true that I suffered a few issues at Punchbowl and got dropped rather quickly, finishing next to last. It’s also true that I got dropped on this same course a couple of months ago, finishing next to last. It’s also true that I’ve never even come close to winning a race in more than twenty years. However, I had Chinese food last night, and after the ER doc pumped my stomach I remembered that my fortune cookie had said this: “Time is a mirror of your desire.” So, that’s pretty clear. My jersey size is small. Thanks.
Pluses: Blogability. No one out-blogs the Wankmeister in a hilly road race. Plus I’ve got a cool helmet cam.
Minuses: Kind of lacking in the speed, strength, and endurance department. But I’ve got a day to come around.
2. DQ Louie: Unless he gets dq’d, which frankly is most of the time, there’s no one who can beat him in a hilly road race. Blazing speed. Relentless attacking. Strategic wheelsucking when necessary, full-on TT mode when he’s off the front. Always has a vicious kick at the end.
Pluses: Tininess. He’s got a drag coefficient of .00000002, which is about the same as a newt or a flea. His power-to-weight ratio is 3 gigawatts per kilo. So you’re basically fucked.
Minuses: Cheatyness. The officials love to dq DQ Louie. Why? He’s from Nevada, that’s why. The races are in California. He’s the dude on the freeway doing 80 who gets pulled over when everyone else is doing 100. Sorry, dude. But not really.
3. Roadchamp: He won last year, and he won two years before that, and he had a creditable showing at Vlees Huis even though they’d removed all twelve lower teeth for implant surgery the week before the race.
Pluses: He’s so skinny that he has to safety pin his socks to his calves. He’s focused. He’s all about winning. He hasn’t had sex in months, ergo mucho ferocityness.
Minuses: Everyone will be gunning for him; carries around old trophies from previous road victories as a talisman; has been known to crumple in the extreme heat. The pressure of not having won yet this year may be too much.
4. Invincible: He’s won this race before, he’s got national crit titles to his name, he sprunts, he climbs, he time trails, and he has more wins in the 45+ this year than everyone else combined.
Pluses: Dude always fucking wins. What more of a plus could you want? Best all around tactician in the game. Knows who to work with, how to control a break, how to kick out the shirkers, how and when to pull out all the stops.
Minuses: Sneakiness. He makes DQ Louie look positively forthright. Plus, he’ll be isolated in the race. THOG is recovering from a major injury. Glasship got his fill of Bako heat at Vlees Huis and is on sabbatical to the beer capital of Deschutes County. So, he’s by himself…yeah, I know. So what?
5. G$: This is one title that’s always eluded him, either due to bad luck, or poor luck, or inferior luck, or luck that wasn’t quite right, or fuckaluck. That’s too bad, because he’s one of the top guys in any category, and built to succeed on a course like this. He has specially prepared snake stomping boots that were made just for this race. With a huge B.O. contingent, he will likely let attrition do its nasty work, and only get to stomping dicks in earnest at the end, when they’ve all gone limp and stretched out from the heat.
Pluses: Time trails. Climbs. Attacks. Makes cool interview videos. Deep and wide team support to control the race or protect a break or send guys up the road. You know he’s got to be frothingly hungry for this jersey. He’s been tapering on the local rides, and has even cut back to five burgers ‘n fries a week. Serious shit.
Minuses: He’ll be dogged by Invincible and DQ Louie. If they get up the road with him, he’s got slim chance in a sprunt. Also, his team is so strong that Roadchamp, Kalashnikov, Capture the Flagg, Thing Two, Herndy Doo, or Hottie could wind up on the podium.
6. FTR DS Jaeger: The smartest rider in the bunch, always goes with the right move. Conserves when he has to, churns out the watts when it matters, never gets dropped on the hard climbs. Missed the vee at states by the narrowest of margins a couple of years ago, this could be his year.
Pluses: Savvy. Tenacious. Experienced. The best in the peloton at making up with savvy and smarts what he lacks in the legs, which frankly isn’t much.
Minuses: Can’t sprunt. Small team, and partially weighted by the anchor teammate from hell, a/k/a Wankmeister.
7. Kalashnikov: Super strong, fast, and clearly on form, Kalashnikov has the benefit of his Big Orange teammates to further strengthen his hand. He will likely play the role of agitator, forcing the other teams to waste valuable energy chasing, a strategy that has worked like a charm in the past.
Pluses: As stated above.
Minuses: If he has to go early, the bitterness of the course could spell doom.
8. Your name here. I’m sorry I left you off. You deserved to make the list, as you’ve got the right stuff, the training miles are there, and it’s finally your year. On the other hand, it’s almost 8:00 PM on a Friday night and I’m blogging about a stupid bike race for old men out in the fucking desert, for dog’s sake. This is enough, even for me.
May 28, 2012 § 15 Comments
It’s hard to explain to people what it’s like riding with the leaders up the climb on the Holiday Ride. “Um, it’s hard,” or “Well, you see I was gassed and then Billy Boozles made a sweep up the right-side gutter while Arnie Aspartame swung off and then…”
Thanks to my new GoPro helmet cam, I got the chance to video the thing and let you see for yourself. Click here to watch the Mandeville Canyon climb all the way to the top with the leaders. Don’t tell me that it’s “blurry” or “fuzzy” or “dogshit quality video, dude.”
It seems that I stuck my finger on the lens cover and smudged it. Still, remind me again, how much did you pay for this? Exactly.
My ride commentary, with video documentation, is below.
#1. The video don’t lie
It’s amazing how much people lie about what they did during a ride. By the time they get done, they’ve fabricated a narrative that is so distorted that you wonder if the dude telling you the story was in the same century as you, much less in the same breakaway.
This video quickly punctures some of the biggest whoppers that bubbled up immediately after the climb. G3 complained, after getting caught and dropped, that his teammates had chased him down.
They all denied it. Vehemently. “We wuz riding tempo so you could stay away!” “I’d never chase down a teammate!” “Some dudes from another team reeled you in, dude, I swear!”
G3 was brought back by a well-oiled machine consisting exclusively of his own teammates. I know it won’t make you feel any better, Greg, but this is exactly how I feel when you chase me down on the Wheatgrass Ride, or when you chase me down at TELO, or when you drop me going up to the Domes. The only difference is that we’re not teammates. On the other hand, I know you’d do it to me even if we were.
Plus, there was no way in hell you were going to solo the canyon vee. Unless, of course, your teammates hadn’t chased you down, in which case, well, who knows?
#2. The dude taking the video is a wheelsuck deluxe
Yep. I sat on the whole way. Never took a pull. You’ll see Surfer Dan look back a couple of times and invite me to take a turn. You’ll see me refuse.
“Wow,” you’re thinking. “This is the guy who’s always telling everyone to take a pull? What a douche.”
As I like to say, “If the nozzle fits…”
I was gassed and too afraid of Surfer Dan to do anything other than suck wheel and pray that no one attacked hard enough to drop me, which is what usually happens. That’s how it is when you’re a wanker.
#3 The dude who won the hill is an even bigger wanker
Yeah. Sitting on your teammate for the entire canyon climb and then blasting by him with totally fresh legs after assisting with the earlier chase, catch, and drop of G3, who is also your teammate? What’s up with that?
Answer, and I quote: “That’s MY wall.”
Those who don’t know Tree well will know this much after watching this video: It’s all about Strava. He will sit, chill, and torch anyone, teammates included, if it gets him closer to a Strava record. In this case, he didn’t get the KOM, but he moved up the leaderboard to fourth. And he got the KOM for something called “Westridge to White Picket Fence.” So there’s that.
Attacking and dropping your teammate who tows you all the way to the end and being labeled a wanker is a small price to pay for an incremental gain on Strava.
Those of you who think this is just sour grapes because he blasted by me so fast and hard I couldn’t have hung on with a tow rope…you’re right! Of course, if I have to get my ass handed to me on a plate, Tree’s my first choice as server, because even after I called out his wankage he smiled back and said, “Good effort out there, Wanky!” Some people are nice no matter what. Go figure.
#4. Dave Jaeger is a total badass
The dude is 51 years old. Remembers Armistice Day. Helped Caesar cross the Rubicon. Was one of the first users of the new invention, dirt. Nonetheless, he attacks the breakaway. Gets reeled in by Surfer Dan. Attacks again and dusts off the remaining hangers-on. Gets reeled in.
Still finishes with the break for fifth. Tells me after the ride, “You rode smart for once.”
Me: “I wasn’t riding. I was holding on for dear life.”
#5. The real artillery was either home getting oiled or out doing a real race at CBR
Kalashnikov and G$ started the ride, which was about 150 strong, but parted company in Marina del Rey to go and do a real bike race instead of a kit parade w/15-minute hillclimb effort + frappucino at CotKU. Roadchamp was home, resting after a hard weekend of riding and putting the finishing touches on his afterburners for the state road race next weekend in Bakersfield. King Harold, Launch, Vapor, Critchamp, et al. were racing, placing, or winning.
#6. Tink is amazing
Check out the first part of the video where she winds up the pace and keeps the gas on. You can’t see the wreckage in the rear because I’m too busy sucking wheel to look back and catch it with my helmet cam, but she’s causing mayhem and destruction behind her. She sheared three minutes off her Mandeville PR and finished just after the first chase group. She now holds the QOM for Mandeville and sits 20th on the men’s leaderboard. This girl is simply incredible.
#7. The camera makes your butt look fat
It’s a 170-degree wide angle, and my nose is pretty much stuffed up your rear end, further magnifying the ginormousness of your hindquarters. Trust me, in real life your derriere is svelte, lean, muscled, and the stuff of magazine covers. It’s the fault of the camera that we all look like candidates for a bovine butt porn shoot.
#8. Surfer Dan is a total badass
Yesterday he went up to NorCal and got 8th in the state road race. This morning he turned on the jets going up San Vicente and kicked most of the holidayers out the back. On Mandeville he ramped it up, led the vicious chase to reel in his teammate, chased down Jaeger twice, shrugged his shoulders when Wankmeister cowered in the rear, and drilled it all the way to the top. He was gracious and not in the least bit miffed by Tree’s finish line antics or by my wheelsuckage, proving that the really good guys just go do their ride and never bitch about the result, while we wankers run home to our keyboard, uncork and savor a vintage 1876 whine.
May 17, 2012 § 13 Comments
Okay, so when people want to know what to wear, Wankmeister isn’t on speed dial. I get that. But I do know a thing or two about fashion. Just because I always wear that black t-shirt, ratty jeans, and those Vans with the holes in the back doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s what.
For example there’s a difference between chick fashion and dude fashion. Chick fashion follows “TPO,” which means “Take my Panties Off.” Dude fashion follows “FOMI,” or “Focus On My Income.”
In other words, chick fashion is sexy, whereas dude fashion is all about brand recognition and money. Cycling fashion, however, is a unique blend. Tight, slinky, revealing stuff that is also designed to make you remember names and buy shit while hopefully not drawing too much attention that your junk is really tiny. Cycling clothes were gay before gay was the new straight.
Got that? Good.
A brief history of cycling fashion
A long time ago, cycling fashionistas wore wool shorts with real leather pads that scrunched up around your groin and acted as involuntary butt wiping rash inducers. You’d pull off the shorts along with a pound or two of brown crud. Yeccch.
Shorts were black. Shoes were black. Socks were white. Jerseys had a couple of sponsors’ names in big letters. Primary colors all the way, except for the occasional gay Italian ice cream sponsor who liked lime green and purple.
And that was pretty much fuckin’ it.
Modern cycling fashion
Then someone realized that plastic fabric was better than wool. It tore up easier. It was less comfortable. It didn’t breathe at all. And the synthetic chamois was originally a variant of sandpaper. But unlike wool, when you sweated it didn’t smell like an old tampon. So it prevailed.
The other thing that happened with cycling fashion is Adobe Illustrator. Every moron with a computer now had a 56-million color palette and the template for a bike outfit. At about the same time, local clubs realized that they could defray some of their beer money by selling ad space on their kits.
Real estate became scarce. Good taste became scarcer. Legit fashion and design skills became extinct. Pro and amateur teams alike wore whatever vomit some junior high school pre-accounting major with a laptop threw together. Design wasn’t an afterthought. It was an afterbirth.
Bicycling magazine recently posted a list of the best cycling kit designs in the Amgen Tour of California. It’s a shame that so little thought went into the piece, which could have shed light on some of the mechanisms behind the grotesquely ugly kits that generally blotify the pro and amateur pelotons, not to mention the “ride jerseys” and club outfits that litter our beautiful California landscape.
As a public service announcement, I’ve decided to review their list and comment on it. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I can sum it up thus: Get Joe Yule and StageOne to design your stuff. It’s really that simple.
1. Black proves you can’t design
“These lads know how to dress. Black jersey, black shorts, and stealthy black bikes—it’s all so punk-rock.” Uh, are you fucking kidding me? Black is the ultimate non-test of design. ANYTHING looks good in black. It’s the default color for slimming a double-wide butt, for repositioning curves that are in the wrong places, and for lifting saggy belly lumps that belong above the belt line…Black is such an addicting and easy color to design and dress with that once you get used to it, it’s hard to wear anything else, kind of like a vampire. But the problem isn’t that it’s “punk rock,” it’s psychotically depressing. It’s what people wear to funerals. It’s the color of religious clothing, judges’ robes, executioners’ masks, Ozzie Osbourne. Worst of all, it demonstrates zero design skill, because it goes with anything. Black bike. Black helmet. Black jersey. Black tires. Black deep dish rims. An occasional red highlight if you like the police car look, or a yellow one if you fancy bumblebees. Boom. You’re done. For cycling, as a design motif black sucks because it’s a slow and boring color. That’s bad, because for spectators, cycling is already a slow and boring sport. You want excitement on two wheels? Watch a fucking formula motorcycle race or some dirt bike action. Manorexic weenies with spindly arms who are clad head to toe in slow black women’s clothing? I’d almost take NASCAR. Almost.
2. If you’re even thinking about Orange, you’d better be nicknamed “G$”
“Those orange stripes! So swoopy! Swoopy is good, in case you were wondering. An orange and black pairing often evokes thoughts of Halloween, but on these Optum Orbeas, orange and black mean fast and stylish” Wow. Someone really wrote that, someone who supposedly wasn’t smoking a crack pipe. Her name is Jen See. Jen, the orange stripes aren’t “swoopy, swoopy.” They’re buttlicking ugly, especially with the lightened orange squares and slashes blended in with the regular orange. The other problem with this nasty looking kit is that you can hardly read the sponsors’ names even in a still photo. Are we really supposed to tell what this says at 35mph? Which brings us to the “money and brand” part of the design package. On a pro bike kit, you sure as shit better be able to read the sponsors’ names. And what brand of LSD was it that suggested the black/white/orange combo would look good with…green lettering…yellow shoes…bright red bottle? Kill the mutant now, doctor, before it spreads.
3. Everything looks good on a winner, right? Wrong.
“Does it matter what color a four-time Paris-Roubaix winner wears? The sea-foam and white jerseys are paired with black shorts—never a bad choice.” Actually, Jen, sea-foam is always a bad choice, unless you’re in a Jello marketing focus group or unless you happen to actually be an ocean. This color is so fucking ugly that it wasn’t even popular during the 70’s disco boom. The idea that winning makes everything pretty is doubtlessly true if your objective is to give Tornado Tom a fangirl fucking, but all the pave trophies piled up in a heap don’t make sea-foam green anything other than fugly. The epaulettes, arguably the most valuable real estate on the kit, have a tiny-ish red “S” for Specialized and a completely illegible scrawl for “innergetic,” along with some squiggly shit on the world champion sleeve striping. Poisonest of all, the sea-foam is really similar to the Astana “Blood Doping Blue” made famous by Vino, Tainted Meat, and a whole host of crooked drug cheats. When all you’ve got is a nasty coke habit like Tom, you don’t want to wear colors associated with dopers.
4. Garmacuda was styling when Jen See was still calling pale orange “swoopy”
“But with this year’s kit, the Garmin-Barracuda boys have hopped on the style train.” Jen has dealt out a true left-handed compliment, but at least she gets that the Garmacuda kit designed by Joe Yule is badass. In fact, Garmacuda has been on the “style train” from its inception. The last two years in particular have seen forceful, noticeable color combinations that do an extraordinary job of highlighting sponsors’ names and looking fantastic. This is shit you’d wear to a job interview. To a first date with a rich girl. To your fucking wedding. And it’s not “swoopy.” It’s “leg rip-offy,” Jen.
5. Your kit is boring and blah, but I love your Pinarello.
“How did Bissell get on the most stylish list? Two words, my friends: Pinarello and Campagnolo.” At first I thought, “Shit, this girl is funny.” Then I realized she was serious. Yep. Your kit is stylish because of your bike frame and your Campy gruppo. So, like, you could just ride naked. Jen, honey, your LinkedIn profile says you fucking went to Claremont College, Georgetown University, UCSB, you have a Ph.D., you speak French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Dutch…and your critical analysis calls the Bissell kit stylish because of the BIKE FRAME? Our country is so fucking doomed it’s not even funny. Note to the computer programmer who designed the Bissell kit: That red and white swooshy thing on the ass that looks like a tuning fork or a toothless barracuda’s jaws…drop me a line when you finally figure out what the fuck it’s supposed to be. Thanks.
6. Just because it’s a color doesn’t mean it looks good
“Quite simply, this team oozes style from head to toe…Liquigas is all about color, lime green to be exact. The color isn’t for everyone, but the men of Liquigas totally own it.” No, Jen. The men of Liquigas don’t “own it.” They are contractually obligated to wear it. There’s a difference. You are sort of right when you say lime green isn’t for everyone, but to get it exactly right you should probably say “lime green isn’t for anyone.” For starters, it’s a total JOC, or “junk outline color” as we say in the trade. This means that it totally highlights each dip and curve of your package. For bike racers, who are scrawny little fellows with scrawny little toolboxes, that’s bad. Lime green doesn’t go with anything, but it especially doesn’t go with blue. Now I know what you’d say, Jen: “Does it matter what a four-consecutive-stage winner of the ATOC wears?” And again, we’d say, uh, yeah, it matters. Like, it really matters. And if you don’t believe me, try googling images for something called “Mapei.”
And when you get around to looking at the rest of the peloton, check out Spider-Tech. Shoulda been number two, after Garmacuda. Ciao, baby.