So, um, what’s your plan?

June 5, 2019 Comments Off on So, um, what’s your plan?

That’s what I was thinking forty minutes into Telo. There were four other riders in the break: Julien Bourdevaire, who had sat on the front for 30 minutes and ridden most of the field out of the race. Peter the Hungry, who was either sitting in for dear life or planning a vicious attack. Chatty Cathy, whose game plan is always Hammer and See What Sticks, and Aaron.

Aaron.

Aaron.

Aaron.

That name kept bouncing around in my head, because with him in the split, there was no method to me winning. He was gonna win.

The small fry had already tossed themselves into the wood chipper, most notably Ivan the Terrible, reduced for the day to Ivan the Droppable. He’d correctly id’d Julien as the wheel to sit, and at the 30-minute mark when Julien drifted to the back had rolled up beside me and nudged me off of Jules’s wheel in the first turn.

“You should have just asked,” I thought, but no worries. I’m not committed enough to fight for a wheel, and it gives 20-something beginners a sense of satisfaction to push the old and infirm out of the way. I’m a giver.

Plus, I was laughing to myself. “Let’s see how well you like Jules’s wheel in about two minutes.” Because after decimating the field, Julien was taking a breather before doing what I predicted was going to be something really painful.

It had been an eventful Telo so far. About fifteen minutes into the race, the chain whip in the middle of the turn that we kept running over finally flipped up and into Emmy’s front wheel, exploding it with a massive bang. It’s easy to blame motorists for throwing trash onto the street, but it was hard to come up with an explanation of how a motorist in an office park would have dropped a chain whip.

Couldn’t have been a cyclist.

Two riders had gone up the road, and when we hit the tailwind, sure enough, Julien launched. Ivan the Droppable, who was perfectly positioned to follow the perfectly telegraphed move, opened up a huge gap as Jules sprinted away. I was on Ivan’s wheel, laughing as he desperately tried to close the widening gap. When he blew, I came around, then hit my own mini-wall.

Aaron came around me, bridged to Julien, and they were poised to join Peter the Hungry and Chatty Cathy. I grunted, put in an ugly effort, and latched on. Ivan was back in Gardena somewhere.

Our five-man group rotated easily away from the shards and pieces of the chasers, but still I kept thinking … “Aaron.”

Because as things stood, I was going to get fifth, and since I was showcasing my new Bahati kit, that wasn’t going to be enough. As is always the case at Telo, if Aaron is with the leaders at the finish, he’s going to win. Coming around him is about as success-proof a plan as coming around Charon Smith.

So I attacked with seven laps to go.

Unfortunately, several lapped riders fell in with the chasers, who also slowed, allowing Ivan & Co. to claw back on. This gave me a bit more distance, but it also meant that it was a matter of time before they started chasing in earnest, and nine riders against one old, slow, fading grandpa was a foreordained outcome.

Still, with five to go I had a gap. With four to go, a gap. With three, with two, and finally with one to go, I had a gap. The impossible looked like it was going to happen, except that each time I glanced back I could see Ivan, Wes, Brandon, and Chatty Cathy throwing everything they had into the chase.

Did they not understand that they were with Aaron? What did they think was going to happen in the sprint if they reeled me back? Why, instead of trying to bridge, were the motorheads working together to catch me in order to set up Aaron for the win?

All of these questions were duly explained afterwards by Baby Seal. Caught and shelled with half a lap to go, I was despondent. “Look, Wanky, there are three types of riders in the chase. The first are the ones who are just happy to be there. They may be lapped, or they may have lucked into it, but they don’t care about anything other than being where they are. The happyheads are irrelevant and ignored.

“The second ones are the swivelheads. They simply hammer and follow every move, without thinking about why, about the composition of the group, or about the finish. They are the ones that Aaron is playing like a banjo, using them up as they pointlessly squander their watts in the waning moments of the symphony. They include ‘teammates’ who chase, lapped riders who rested for ten minutes and now have a few more efforts to throw down, as well as arch-enemies whose idea of a win is seeing you lose. Bottom line, they are Aaron’s bitches, they just don’t know it, and probably never will.

“The third ones are the winners. Julien is back there laughing. He likes you and isn’t going to chase. But Aaron? He’s there to win. And he did.”

“What about me? Which type am I?”

“You,” he said, “are the hopeless flailer who sets everything up for Aaron. Either you stay in the break and help power him to the finish, or you launch, inducing your ‘teammates’ and the other swivelheads to chase you down, thereby giving Aaron a bunch of corpses to gently step over in the last 400 yards.”

“But why don’t the other riders calculate that as long as Aaron is there, they lose? Why don’t they attack him until one of them gets away?”

Baby Seal shrugged. “Calculate? It’s Telo.”


END

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Good legs, bad legs

May 29, 2019 § 5 Comments

It is pretty well known that racing on slightly tired legs is a sign of fitness. I’m not sure about that, but what I know is that racing on slightly tired legs makes me conservative. Sit in as much as possible, focus on positioning, and wait for someone else to make the decisive move … then follow if you can.

The only times that racing turns out well for me is when I race cautiously, and I’m only cautious when I’m tired, because getting dropped sucks.

The only race I do anymore is our Telo #fake #trainingrace because it is hard and uncategorized. You’re racing against young strong people as well as gimpy geezers, not simply doing a trinket dance apportioned among other 55-59 y/o leaky prostates where evbo gets a ribbon.

My legs felt great so I went out hard for the first half hour. Peter the Hungarian jumped in several laps after the race had begun, and threw in attack after attack. Wes, who has graduated from shellee to hammer, chased, attacked, and animated. It was funny to watch him take a monster pull, flick his elbow, and then get mad when no one pulled through.

Welcome to the front, Wes! It’s lonely up there!

The man to mark was Chatty Cathy, and sure enough, with about 20 minutes left he followed another attack by Peter, accompanied by Wes and Ivan the Terrible. Ivan got the win, with Peter, Wes, and Chatty Cathy filling up the invisible podium. Everyone hesitated at the decisive moment except me, because it’s not hesitating when you are too shot to follow. The break rolled.

A lap later the Left Behinds realized that they’d been left behind, and Hair kicked it hard and took a couple of riders with him, including Ram-Ram, who’d won the #fakerace NPR that morning and was in the lead for the Telo Shoe Giveaway powered by Bike Palace. That left the dregs chasing the chasers: Heavy D., Smasher, Boozy P., Lapped Dude, Brandon, Turbo Tom, and I.

When you’re more than a minute down and have no hope, there are two options: Parade & preen, or rotate your guts out.

I cast a vote for parade & preen, but was overridden by the others. Smasher and Heavy D. pounded, along with Brandon, who took one pull so hard into the headwind that he pulled himself right off the back. Lapped Dude sat in and enjoyed the scenery, such as it was.

The last fifteen minutes were pretty miserable, proving that you can still have a great time on the bike even when you are completely rancid pack meat. In the sprunt for eleventy-ninth place, Smasher yanked a pedal as he came around me, causing his foot to kick the chain off and then, as his other foot unclipped, causing his left heel to kick open the rear quick release. I tensed as I heard the horrible sounds off to my right and waited for the inevitable smash and skid of breaking carbon and thudding body parts, but in an act of magical bike handling, he stayed upright as I was soundly beaten by Lapped Dude.

I’d go so far as to say it was the most satisfying of my many, many eleventy-tenth finishes. All of which have happened with … good legs.

__________________________

END

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Lifetime achievement and garage sale

June 21, 2018 § 24 Comments

Anyway, FOR SALE: Less than one year old Fuji SL1 frame with e-Tap and new FFWD F3 all carbon clinchers, mostly new Conti 25 mm front/rear with tubes, along with 12 size S jerseys, most of the jerseys are the last two years of Team Lizard Collectors, great condition, a couple of La Grange jerseys, 12 size M bibs (TLC/La Grange/plain black), 3 TLC skinsuits, 3 Wend Wax combo short/bib one-piece size M, 2 long-sleeve TLC jackets, 3 Pearl Izumi tights one of which is old and ratty, 1 pair Giro Empire road lace-ups (white), 1 pair Giro Empire (cross), 1 spare set of new Shimano cleats, 32 pairs of CitSB socks, 1 Giant TCX 2017 (size L) with FFWD disc wheels, SRAM Force,, 4 pairs long-fingered Giro gloves, assorted bike tools (lightly used, you can bet), assorted arm and leg warmers, 3 pairs of shoe covers, 2 rain jackets, one Stage 1 and one Specialized, two vests  (one Rapha, size S, one TLC size M), full light set including Diablo 1300-lumen headlights x 2, ApaceVision rear lights x 2, Cygolite 150 rear x 1, 2 wheel bags, 6 tubes, 6 tires (25 mm, Conti and Vredestein), 3 Wend Wax sets with wax and cleaner, Cask Proton helmet size M, G3 tripod bike stand, 1 gallon of Simple Green, 3 rolls of shop towels, 25 shop rags, 1 Lezyne steel floor pump, assorted water bottles, 5 CO2 cartridges.

Yours for one dollar.

IMG_2859

END

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TLC strikes (itself) again!

May 23, 2018 § 7 Comments

Two weeks off. Fresh legs. Telo start. Small field, 20-ish. Hitters King Harold, Frexit, Brexit, EA Sports, Inc., Baby Seal, Heavy D., Medium Banana, Chase.

Heavy D. Lap 2 launch. 4 riders. Brought back. Stayed towards front. Pulled through. Ten minutes in field relaxed. Frexit chilling. Greensox and Heavy D. at the back. EA Sports, Inc. watching. Baby Seal flapping flippers.

Chad attacks. Followed. Took turns, him into the headwind, me on the tailwind. Good gap four laps. Felt the chase. Heard a noise while on the front. Never looked, just sprinted. Right reaction; Frexit. Barely grabbed on.

Full Frexit death mode. Hang on for dear life. See rear shadow. It’s Chase. Chad got him to within striking distance, Chase closed, Chad couldn’t get across. Another lap. Joined by EA Sports, Inc. Glad I’ve got teammate Chase with me.

Chase sandbags with baby pulls. Break established. Frexit and EA Sports, Inc. not pulling hard, thinking about the sprunt. I fear getting caught. Keep digging hard. Chase sandbags.

Five to go. King Harold, Baby Seal, Medium Banana six seconds back. EA Sports, Inc. senses the chase. Revs it up. Frexit throws down monster pulls. Can barely come through. Gap reopens. Chase loading more sandbags than a citizen volunteer crew before a hurricane.

One to go. Headwind section. EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit eyeing each other. Chase loading more sandbags for the sprunt.

Slowly roll away. Gap. Head down. Go almost all-in. Gap grows through chicane. Out of chicane, might stick this one.

Chase realizes teammate is up the road. EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit shrug. We ain’t chasing Wanky just so the other guy can outsprunt me. Chase sees teammates, does the arithmetic:

Do nothing = Teammate wins

Chase = Probably catch teammate, lose to EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit.

Therefore, third and fourth for TLC better than a win.

Chase chases.

EA Sports, Inc., Frexit laugh. Everyone knows they can count on Chase to chase.

Chase chases.

Chase catches at the last turn.

EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit leave Chase like overturned manure wagon in ditch. Chase beats Wanky for third. TLC strikes (itself) again!

END

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The changing complexion of a bad rash

April 25, 2018 Comments Off on The changing complexion of a bad rash

Another Telo went off last night. There is something weird in the air or maybe in our water bottles, because tonight’s Telo was the biggest I can remember in ten years. What a few years ago was tagged, put in the cooler, and later autopsied (the heart and lungs donated to those needing a transplant, the rest of the body donated to science, and the brain thrown away due to its small size and surfeit of abnormalities), has come back like one of the Undead.

Which proves:

  1. Racing ain’t dead.
  2. If you take pictures of it and post them on the Internet, they will come.

The last three weeks have seen successive growth in racer turnout. There were forty racers all in all, including at least four women. The big pack has transformed Telo from a training crit into a bike race. Unlike the typical Telo edition, where Evens Stievenart rides everyone off his wheel, or whittles down the field into a tiny break and crushes his breakmates in the sprunt, today and last week there was actual racing involved with lots of racing stragety.

Although the 39 members of Team Lizard Collectors were unable to deny victory to arch-rival Methods to Whining, TLC mounted a number of valiant efforts which, at one point, forced MTW ninja-of-the-peloton Destroyer to single-handedly pull back a lethal TLC combo of David Ellis, Greg Seyranian, and David Wells. TLC refused to chase its own teammates (whaaaaat???), and worker-bee Knuckles happily rode up to the front and blocked.

It was a beautiful thing to see a break with no MTW riders in it, and even more beautiful to see MTW chase hard, although in the end MTW rider Aaron Wimberly incinerated the field with a fierce sprint, finishing so far ahead it was like swatting a fly with a flamethrower.

One of the things contributing to the difficulty of Telo is the prevalence of Hop-in-Wankers, riders who get lapped, hop back into the peloton refreshed, and then lend a hand with occasional chases, not to mention acting as clogstacles on the last lap as they sprunt for 15th among the non-lapped riders. Some people don’t like the H.I.W.’s but I do: It’s a frigging training race and people get stronger when they get shredded, jump in, and then put down another series of hard efforts.

Avoiding clogstacles on the bell lap, and moving up through a field of gassed riders is also much easier than doing the real thing on race day, so it’s great practice.

Kudos to all who came out and raced, and kudos to Tom Duong and Yasuko Davidson, who spent the entire hour cataloging this nonsense. Most of all, kudos to Joe Yule, the guy who brought Telo back to life–all hail the mighty Junkyard!

END

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What’s all the fuss?

April 18, 2018 § 2 Comments

After having my timbers shivered on Sunday at the Belgian Waffle Ride, I decided to take the week off. More accurately, my legs decided for me.

It was angsty when 5:00 Tuesday rolled around. That’s when you pull on the clown suit and pedal down to Telo, where hell awaits. I got twitchy and it felt weird, compulsively feeling like I should be airing up tires or eating a handful of almonds.

Instead I went down to the race course, kind of like I do in the beer aisle now, wandering lustfully in front of the multi-colored cans and bottles that spell my doom. The race started and you know what? It looked so easy.

After a few laps people were obviously in trouble but it looked so easy. We stacked up in the corner to take photos with our phones and people buzzed through in full lean. But anyway, it looked so easy. You could feel the incredible howling headwind in the backstretch, but of course, it looked soooo easy.

Then we went over to the start/finish and the long tailwind section, where Evens Stievenart and Eric Anderson punished the peloton with a nasty two-man breakaway that stuck to the end. The field had a lot of horsepower but not enough to bring them back.

Why didn’t they JUST PEDAL HARDER? It looked so easy.

I got home and scrolled through the pictures taken by Yasuko. Then I zoomed up on the faces, mouths gaping like trophy bass. It didn’t look easy any more.

There’s a lesson here, about the difference between watching and doing.

END

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Clash of the moderately-sized titans

April 11, 2018 § 6 Comments

The history of Telo is a bit foggy, or rather windy. It has been going on for over thirty years. Fifteen years ago it sported huge turnouts of 50-60 racers every week, sometimes more. With the downward spiral of road racing, Telo completely died about four years ago, and so dead was it that I actually listed it as “R.I.P.” on my South Bay Rides page.

Then Grandpa Joe, Junkyard, the resident creative genius of the South Bay stepped in. With a little cajoling and a few exquisitely tailored, beautifully designed winner jerseys, he brought Telo back to life. There are few things as important to the development of grass roots racing as having a regular weekly training crit. Training crits give people a place to race during the week, give new riders a chance to learn under less pressurized circumstances, and impart a vibe of competition that is part of, not apart from, camaraderie on the bike.

This past week Grandpa Joe’s heart, after close to six decades of hard work, decided to take a few beats’ vacation, and next thing we all knew our spiritual leader was being whisked off to a hospital to have his ticker frozen, the jumper cables attached, and to hopefully have his battery restarted. Dire prognostications were made about the Man of Junk, the Big Banana, and we all began writing obituaries that began with “That tough bastard …” or “That sonofabitch …” or “Who’s gonna design my kits NOW?”

Fortunately, they got the right ends of the cables hooked up to the right battery terminals, and after scraping off a whole bunch of battery acid and a few false starts, Junkyard’s battery was completely recharged. There was concern about lasting damage to the fermented brain lodged in Junkyard’s sweat-lodge of a cranium, but his first words were “I’m selling all my bike shit and spending the rest of my life wandering through museums!”

Relief was all we could feel hearing these oft-repeated words, uttered every time he regained consciousness in a hospital, because it meant for sure that he was not more than a month out from doing NPR, and two, perhaps three from suiting up at Telo.

Last night we had a massive turnout in his honor. The field was littered with hitters, and it took about forty riders to keep Evens in check. At the end, Methods to Winning demonstrated a method to winning, i.e. start your leadout with Destroyer, then follow it with Hair, then with Youngdude, then Rahsaan, and then put E.A. Sports, Inc., in the closer slot. Of course, even though it wasn’t the third quarter, he closed. Or rather, slammed the fuggin’ door shut.

I staggered home to lick my wounds. Another windy beating. Another vicious mauling. Another day of infamy metamorphosed into an evening of despair.

Another Telo. Thanks, Junkyard.

END

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