What gloves around, comes around

June 24, 2016 § 15 Comments

I was at the San Marcos crit several weeks ago retiring from a fabled amateur cycling career that was filled with fables. As I retired before doing the 45+ Grandpa Low T race, I ran into a gal who I will call Ms. J.

Ms. J. had begun bike racing this year and was doing really well. She had made a couple of podiums and already understood the fundamentals of bike racing, fundamentals that to me often seem like math equations that fill a chalkboard (Note: I failed Mrs. Morcom’s Algebra 1 class and had to retake it in summer school in order to graduate from Jane Long Junior High).

As we chatted about bike racing and I picked up from her what useful information I could, I noticed her hands, and how small and lovely they were. When she got to the part where she was going to tell me something that might actually help me win a race, I interrupted her. “Hey,” I said, “I hate being an advice sausage but I’m really old and I’m a grandpa and I can’t help noticing your beautiful hands and I gotta tell you something.”

She paused. “Yes?”

“You gotta wear gloves.”

“I do?”

“Yes. All the time. Long-fingered ones.”

“Why?”

“Because whether you have pretty hands like yours, or ugly old nasty things like mine, it’s super hard to pick your nose without any fingers. And all it takes is one good bicycle falling off incident or getting doored while training and your hands will be all garfed up for good. Ask Charon. He used to be Mr.-Tom-Boonen-Gloves-Are-For-Sissies until he slid 400 yards along the asphalt on his palms.”

She looked at her very lovely hands. “I think I’ll get some, but my race is about to start.” Off she went and got on her podium in one of the hardest races on the calendar and I didn’t see her again.

A few days later I got an email telling me about her race. “That’s great,” I said, “did you get the gloves?”

“Well … ” she replied.

So I went online and got her a pair, like the ones I use, the Giro Somethingorothers. I’ve got a couple of pair and even after years of use they are ragged but still in great condition. They are long-fingered, incredibly comfortable, warm in winter, cool in summer, stylish, and thick enough to save your hands when you need it but thin enough to give you great touch on your bars. I mailed them off, because grandpas hate it when young people dilly-dally around with important stuff like HANDS.

Then a funny thing happened.

There is this woman who rides in the South Bay named Michelle. She’s a great rider, sure, but more than that she’s a great person. Positive, earnest, fun, and always finding the bright side of things. If Michelle’s around you’re going to be in a good mood unless of course you’re Eeyore, which, sad to say, I often am.

I went out to the mailbox and there was a thick mailing envelope. I opened it and inside it was a pair of my very favorite Giro Somethingorothers, only in an even more stylish color than my tan ones. And along with the Somethingorothers, gloves that she had carefully noted on my hands and found the exact make, model, and size for, was a note. This note:

heart

END

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Year in review’s stellar performers: Greg Leibert

November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

Okay, I admit it. I have a big ol’ crush on Greg. Man-crush, woman-crush, Orange Crush, whatever…he’s a titan of the South Bay, and while it’s sort of pointless to pick one particular year for his outstanding performances on the bike since he’s at the top of his game year in, year out, 2011 was nonetheless stellar. The fact that he didn’t smash half his ribs and waste half the season in traction didn’t hurt…

There are lots of guys who win bike races, but as with so many things in life it’s not simply the fact of the win, it’s the way of the win. Three characteristics typify G$’s racing: relentless attacking, sacrificial teamwork, and eagerly crawling into the pain cave.

Attack, attack, attack: At Boulevard this year he beat out two perennial champs, Rich Meeker and Roger Worthington, by simply attacking them into submission. Meeker and RGW scored victories over Big Red in other races, to be sure, but Boulevard was a classic case of the old Bernard Hinault maxim, “If I can breathe, I can attack.” G$’s solo victory after being marked the entire race by the entire field says it all.

There’s no “fuck you” in “team”: In the 2011 State Road Race category for Elderly Gentlemen Who Do Not Yet Have Prostate Problems Sufficient To Prevent Them From Racing, G$ played the loyal dog, snapping at the heels of the enemy, riding into the teeth of the wind, and fouling up the chase so that teammate Jeff Konsmo could line ’em up and knock ’em down in the sprint finale. How many riders out there of G$’s caliber are willing to play the selfless teammate when bragging rights for a state road title are on the line? Exactly.

It’s Only Pain (It Drives Me Crazy): In the 2011 State Individual Time Trial, Greg placed 4th with a time of 48:37, averaging more than 29.2 mph. How fast is that? Well, it’s pretty slow compared to a motorcycle, and it’s not even plodding along compared to a jet or the speed of light. But for a bicycle, when it’s just you, the road, the wind, and the clock? It’s blazing fast. Then when you figure that he’s almost fifty, and that he is factor in road races as well as crits, it gets kind of scary. If that’s not enough to give you stomach upset, take a look at some of his Strava times, especially the record he holds from Via del Monte up to Paseo del Sol…then you start to grasp, if only a little bit, how deeply G$ is able to crawl into the pain cave, roll a boulder in front of the entrance, assume the fetal position, and not come out until the job is done.

Honorable mentions: Greg delivered a thorough thrashing at the San Marcos Circuit race, where he dragged two hapless victims around the course for 35 minutes to win easily in a very tough field. He delivered a very large rolled-up newspaper to the pups’ butts at the Torrance crit as well, which this year was a glorified Telo and about as home turf for the man as it gets.

UP NEXT: I SAID HE’D KICK ASS IN 2011. HIS NAME IS CHARON. I WAS RIGHT.

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