Thrill of the chase

May 25, 2016 § 11 Comments

When your face is mashed against the stem and there is a 33-mph sweep up the left side and you’re already pegged trying to close a 3-foot gap just to get up to a wobbly, about-to-detonate wheel so you can (with much prayer) leapfrog over the next gap that is going from a bike length to a football field, when the pain is shooting up your legs into your lungs and rasping like a giant file on a block of concrete, when you’re at that point in the race when you have found THE WORD and THE WORD is “QUIT!” and you’re already making up reasons why QUIT is brilliant and clever and CONTINUE is for insecure insane people because WHAT DO I HAVE TO PROVE and HOW AM I GOING TO PROVE IT OUT HERE are the dominant models in your mind’s dialectical discourse re: the philosophy of not giving up, when all that is happening it is hard to feel fun, much less see it.

That was my Telo last night, a huge turnout with mighty hammers of enraged wrath swinging in the fists of Evens Stievenart, Josh Alverson, Evan Stade, Sam Warford, Dan Cobley, Garrett Olsen, Peyton Cooke, Dave Wells, and a host of other characters who found the front for long enough to dump a bucket of boiling pain down the throats of the suffering convicts who were chained in hell to the unrelenting single-file line of pain.

But one rider stood out, even among that throng of ill-tempered criminals. He was slight, he was small, he was young, he hadn’t really learned how to ride in a straight line or how to keep his head up when sprinting full bore in the middle of a pack, but he had this: He had the magic.

This kid went with every surge, attempted every breakaway, tried to bridge to every move, bounced around in the pack like a ping-pong ball, tore at his pedals to not get dropped in the back straight, launched off the front fearlessly in the draft of the big fast men, pushed his way to the point only to get batted to the back, surged, blew, attacked, blew, followed, blew, sprinted, blew, launched, blew, blew, blew, blew, recovered, hit the gas as hard as he could and did it all over again.

Bader the Bad made his mark not only with his tenacity, but with the effect he had on the aged, the grizzled, the cynical, the broken, the jaded, and the crusty old farts trying to decide whether it was worth hanging on. In sixty minutes this kid showed us why we first raced: For the abandon and complete immersion into the moment, where age doesn’t matter, gender is irrelevant, name/rank/serial number/national origin/sexual orientation all blend into the necessity of the moment, “Can you hang, and if so can you WIN?”

Bader didn’t win, but on the last lap with the pack in tatters and even the iron-legged titans feeling the burn, he leaped, he attacked, he gave it his all for the hundredth time, and he didn’t stop pedaling until he had crossed the line.

He he gave us hope, he gave us a bike race, he made us hurt, and best of all, after the gasping was done, he made us smile.

END

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Stupid sport for stupid dumbheads

April 13, 2016 § 21 Comments

Now that I have quit bike racing except for last weekend and next Sunday I realize what a stupid sport for stupid dumbheads it is. Can you imagine? Old people putting on underwear and racing around in circles or over tall mountains so they can pat themselves on the back and further the delusion that they’re not teetering on the edge of the abyss?

Dog, what a stupid sport. Now that I have quit it completely I don’t miss it at all. What was I thinking? How many years did I waste? All that time I could have spent with my family or in prison, spilt, Onan-like, on the asphalt, never to be put in a productive furrow.

It’s so embarrassing.

Today was Telo, the local Tuesday nighter and a really stupid training crit. Extra stupid, in fact because it is hard and windy and windy and hard. What maroon would voluntarily go down there and flog himself for an hour for NOTHING? Stupid dumbheads, that’s who.

I knocked off work at 4:00 and hadn’t done any exercise so I figured I would go down to Telo to check it out as a new, sober ex- racer. It just so happens that I have a completely idiotic skinsuit that’s practically brand new so I went ahead and put it on because otherwise, what a waste.

Also, my race wheels have perfectly fine tubulars in perfect condition and I thought I might as well give them a ride even though I’d only be pedaling for a lap or two at a snail’s pace while laughing at all the stupid idiot dumbheads racing like crazy shooting through parked trucks and oncoming traffic like dumbheads.

Also, I took off my extra bottle cage because who needs that? And there were some other things, unneeded, which I also removed, and there was my stupid, overpriced, aero helmet but why not wear that? And the stupid dumbhead shoe covers. I mean, I own ’em, might as well use ’em.

The race started and I pitied the poor fools, stupid dumbheads every one, acting like any of it mattered. I was going to pedal for two laps but since I was already there and it was super slow I kept rolling around, watching them attack and ride like fools, fools. After about fifteen minutes Destroyer put in a hard effort and it was SOOOOOO stupid I was watching him and shaking my head but what the heck? So I pedaled up behind him, but it was only going to be for a lap until we got caught by the other stupid dumbheads, then I’d quit and have a good laugh at their expense.

The two of us rode around a few laps and I looked back and no one was in sight so I figured “What the heck? It can’t hurt to do another lap or two until we get caught plus we’ll pass that wanker Brad House a dozen times and it’s always fun to watch him with smoke coming out of his ass as he flails around pretending he’s here for some reason other than to make a buck at his annual bike race with its $200 prize lists and dirty jockstrap primes.”

The stupid dumbheads didn’t catch us because they were going so slow, so I pedaled some more. Pretty soon it had gotten really stupid, so just before I quit I figured I’d do another lap but then it was five to go, and who quits with five to go? So I chuckled at how stupid it all was, dog knows it made no difference to me who won, and I pedaled a bit more and soon it was two laps to go.

Now I didn’t want to win at all, it didn’t mean anything to me. I’ve given up on bike racing it’s STUPID. Still, I felt sorry for Destroyer who obviously was desperate to win so I rode a little bit more until one lap to go. Well, with one to go you have to go to the end, even when you don’t care, right?

I didn’t go that hard but it was hard enough to feel moderate sensations of discomfort, and that’s exactly when we got caught by the pack and passed quicker than a plate loaded with casserole surprise. Of course it made no difference to me, I couldn’t have cared less just because I got next-to-last because I had planned on quitting anyway.

So glad I’m done with it except for this coming Sunday and I think there may be a couple more on the calendar that I’m doing out of a sense of obligation, that’s all.

END

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Don’t attack from the gun

April 7, 2016 § 18 Comments

Every time I ride Telo I roll away on the neutral lap.

There are no neutral laps.

This time I repeated all the way there, “Don’t roll off on the neutral lap. Don’t jump and follow any early attacks. Don’t be an early attacker. Sit on Destroyer. Destroyer never misses the split. Today thou shalt rest.”

Telo is too hard, too windy, and too hotly contested for a rider or a pair of riders to stick it for a full sixty minutes. But I am too boneheaded and impatient to pay attention to silly facts and I never like to rest.

Grandpa Joe waved us off. Evens Stievenart, two time French national TT champion, rolled away with Evan Stade and Dan Beam. “I’d love to go with you suckers on a futile suicide mission of dumbness,” I chuckled, “but today I am going to save my bullets and win. And I am going to rest.”

I had my special winning speedsuit on and my full carbon everything including my fully carbonized water in my carbon water bottle.

After five minutes Destroyer unleashed the bridge attack from hell that no one can ever follow. I chortled, chortlingly, easily following his searing acceleration until he sat up. I refused to pull through and slunk to the back, resting. The group regrouped and we pedaled some more. I rested.

The wind wasn’t as windy as it normally is. “But still, there’s no way those three guys are going to stick it. No one has ever held a 60-minute breakaway from the gun.” I watched a couple of hard efforts and smirked, resting.

Pretty soon after a very long time it was only a few laps to go. Destroyer began taking massive pulls and suddenly the break was in sight. Then they were closer. Then they were a lot closer. With one lap to go we could see the browns of their rear eyes. I sure felt rested.

Destroyer took a shuddering pull and swung over. So did the rest of the tattered remnants. I still felt fresh and rested. The break was all but caught.

Take note and put special emphasis on the word “but.”

As we checked each other out and tried to come up with plausible excuses for not making the final effort without having to say “I was too tired” or “I was too weak” we instead focused on “Evens is our teammate, yeah, that’s it, and we’d never chase a teammate except at San Dimas.”

The break pulled away. And we never caught them.

But I sure was rested.

END

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Training crit

March 31, 2016 § 22 Comments

We have a training crit called Telo. No one is sure what it trains anyone for, but on Tuesday at 6:00 PM we do it anyway.

Telo, pronounced “this really fuggin’ sucks,” has one main feature, wind. Huge buckets of it sweep off the coast every afternoon without exception. Yesterday the buckets were Rubbermaid Industrial Sized; I’m guessing 25 mph.

The course is a long tailwind section, a short right-hander, then a long headwind section, a chicane, more headwind, another right-hander, and back to the tailwind part. You would think that the headwind section is the worst part and you would be right.

One of the great things about the Internet and being really famous is that when you announce you’re going to be at Telo a ton of people show up. So I announced my presence and got to see what kind of weight I pull in the South Bay as a tiny group of maybe twenty-five riders appeared.

telo_march_29_2016-2

The only thing that makes Telo harder than huge wind buckets is a small field. Yesterday the field included Evens, Smasher, Fireman, Destroyer, Surfer Dan, SB Baby Seal, Hair, and Family Jules. Clearly the worst thing to do would be to attack from the gun. All I had to do was mark Destroyer and I’d make the split, which is exactly like the old Aesops’ fable of Belling the Cat. All the mice have to do to stop the cat from eating them is put a big bell around his neck. Yep, that’s all.

Junkyard, who showed up to flash lap cards, waved us off. By refusing to participate, he once again proved himself the wisest person there, although as he scampered back and forth across the course with riders whizzing by he almost achieved the Trifecta of Bike Crashes: Falling on the Road, Falling on the Track, and Getting Run Over at a Bike Race While Not Even Riding.

I attacked from the gun, if “attack” is what you call dangling 50 yards ahead of everyone on the neutral lap. However, it served its purpose, which was to make sure I felt droopy and lacticky when the real attacks began, of which there was only one, and which came from Evens, and which was into the headwind, and which everyone could simply look at and drool hangdoggedly “You go.” “Nuh-uh. You go.” “Fugg tha, you go.”

The field had about fifteen people left and they all appeared to be small and thin and useless for my purposes, which was finding a good wheel to gasp onto.

I followed a couple of hapless moves and never slipped back more than fourth wheel, all the while wondering “Where are Destroyer and Smasher? Where are Smasher and Destroyer?” Nothing would happen without them, except what had happened, which was that the winning break of one had morphed into the winning group of five and I wasn’t in it.

Fireman, though, was. He had told me before the race, “Just follow my wheel and you’ll make the split.” So I followed several other wheels while he made the split and I didn’t.

As I took a few ineffectual pulls I kept wondering, “Where are Destroyer and Smasher? Gee I’m tired and exhausted and tasting that salty sour bitter stuff in the back of my throat and my legs have that ‘stop’ feeling but where are they? What are they doing? Smasher is always patient and waits until the first 30 seconds to attack but not today. Is he tired? Weak? Sick? Too much Cal-Mex queso before the ride?”

Of course I could have looked, but it’s hard to turn your head when you’re rollicking through massive pavement cracks dodging oncoming angry cagers and delivery trucks whipping out of industrial park driveways and 25-mph gusts that stand you up when you slam from the sheltered short top section into the wind and your eyes have switched sockets.

If I had looked back I would have seen D&S chillily sitting in the back not having yet pedaled. Which would have been a bad thing to see.

“When are they going to attack and bridge?” I wondered. So I slipped back and got on Smasher’s wheel, who was on Destroyer’s wheel. “Okay fuckers,” I said. “Do your worst and drag me up to the break.”

On cue, Destroyer hopped hard on his pedals and Smasher hopped with him. Surfer Dan slotted in ahead of me and it was just the four of us. First we went fast. Then faster. Then really fast. Once we hit the apex of this-hurts-so-bad-if-we-go-any-faster-my-face-will-come-off, Destroyer started going fast.

Surfer gapped, which was great because now I had an excuse. IF ONLY HE HADN’T GAPPED ME OUT I WOULD HAVE MADE IT. REALLY, MOM!!!

I watched the two of them pedal merrily off, satisfied that I now had an excuse and, since we’d slowed down, could breathe again and uncross my kidneys.

Ten riders came up to us. Everyone else who hadn’t already been dropped got dropped.

We rode the next forty minutes in a single line. Each time you got within three riders of the front the pain was unendurable. My pulls went from weak and ineffectual to lightning-brief cameos where my pull consisted of one pedal stroke, a 5-mph decrease in speed, and a wildly flapping elbow.

One by one the group shrank. Every couple of laps someone shuddered and quit. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6.

This is what it must have been like to be stuck in a life raft with nothing to eat but each other, and nothing to drink but blood, salt water, and urine. When SB Baby Seal melted into a wet stain and slithered off the back with only a couple of laps to go I knew things were bad. With Hair, Boozy P., Jay L., and Surfer Dan the only people left in our pitiful chase group that wasn’t really a chase group so much as it was a don’t-get-lapped group, and with us all broken the only thing left of the glorious dreams from 60 minutes earlier, we each struggled across the line, downcast, downtrodden, filled with futility, defeat, and the reality that no matter how bad you are on a bike, racing will make you worse.

Up ahead the shenanigans had been vicious. Heavy D. and Brokeback Brokeleg had been ridden out of the break. Fireman had been worked over. Family Jules had been denied his second Telo victory despite cagey wheelsucking, sagging, pull skipping, and work avoidance of every kind. Evens had ground everyone up into fine powder. Destroyer and Smasher had attacked every lap the last five laps until one of them beat everyone else.

However, I finally realized that I had gotten it all wrong. Telo isn’t a training race. It’s a funeral train. And you’re the guest of honor.

END

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In memoriam: Telo Training Crit

August 4, 2014 § 34 Comments

Born to Sam and Josephine Wannamaker sometime in the late 1980’s, and affectionately known as that “ass-pasting sorryfuk headwind beatdown in an office park,” Telo passed away peacefully on July 29, 2014 in Torrance, California at 6:00 PM when, for the first time in over 30 years, no one showed up.

Not even Brad “Elbows” House.

Telo was an incredible father to his several thousand lycra-clad children, all of whom showed up with dreams of victory and, for the most part, went home beaten and defeated. The unluckier ones went home with road rash and several thousand dollars worth of equipment damage.

Telo worked in the Tuesday Night Training Crit industry for over 30 years. He was truly a bike racer’s bike race, and left many an aspiring rider choking on his own puke, particularly after getting into an ill-advised break with Hair or Rudy. However, true to his training crit roots, Telo punished wheelsuckers just as much as those who braved the front. Every week for over thirty years countless wankers sat in the back “waiting for someone to bring back the break” only to find themselves part of a three-man flailaway, deserted by all and forced to quit early and take the shortcut home.

Telo’s greatest love was spending time with his family and friends, stomping on their genitals, and offering up a fun and rollicking 30-mph headwind on the backstretch. Telo loved nothing more than to watch a group of riders drill it on the tailwind, fantasizing that they were monsters, only to roll over and die when they hit the wall of wind half a lap later. Telo lived life to the fullest and he was always laughing and smiling at the misery of others.

Telo began to have health problems three years ago, when the already anemic South Bay racing community simply couldn’t “get it up” to go pound their brains out on Tuesday nights. Some pointed the finger at Telo’s nemesis known as NPR, a younger, more handsome and sexy group ride that took place on Tuesday mornings and seldom left any but the toughest with enough energy for Telo.

Still others claimed that Telo’s decline was the result of the Major Motion Tuesday Ride on the Parkway, which attracted bigger crowds, was slower, had lots of stop lights, and in which those who were shelled could sneak across the road and hop back in.

As Telo’s health declined, by 2014 the only people still showing up were Hair, Marco, Brad House, and one or two others. Telo leaves behind a void in our hearts that can never be filled, but he leaves us with his zest for life, spunky spirit and the ability to live life to the fullest.

Telo is survived by countless riders throughout California who left a little piece of their self-respect on Telo’s hallowed tarmac. A celebration of Telo’s life will be held wherever wankers are found and cold beer is served.

Things that people did at Telo today

April 4, 2012 § 11 Comments

Telo is an ordinary business park, you know, a place where businesses go to play on the jungle gym, where businesses sit under the trees and sip lemonade, where they loll in the grass on lazy afternoons and, in summer, where businesses plunge into the cool inviting waters of the business park swimming pool. You can go to Telo any old time and see the businesses having fun as they cavort along the sidewalks, wave at the passing vehicles, and generally behave like the happy-go-lucky, free spirits that businesses almost always are.

Except on Tuesdays at 6:00 PM. That’s when it becomes “Telo Tuesday.” When the checkered flag drops, and the business park transmogrifies from a happy inviting series of prettily paved streets into an asphalted, unforgiving meatgrinder from hell. The timid businesses pull up their skirts and make way for the brigade of amped up cyclists who appear out of nowhere to race for an hour or until Brad thinks one of his Big Orange teammates might be in a winning break, in which case he stops the race early.

Here are the things that people did at Telo today:

Greg L.: Showed up and turned the meatgrinder on “high.” Much pureed pink slime spewed out as a result.

Dom F.: Sliced through corner after corner after corner, proving once again that he’s the best bike handler around.

Jay Y.: Sometimes you’re the hammer…but not today!

Marcel H.: Rarer sighting than an Eskimo Curlew.

Suzanne S.: Never more than ten wheels back, charging off the front again and again.

Kristabel D-H.: Not phased at all by the morning slugfest on the NPR, at it again in the PM, mixing it up with the boys and, of course, taking her turn “at the front.”

Jon D.: Can you say “anger management”? Pounding like a jackhammer.

Christian C.: Never ever took his foot off the gas.

Sarah M.: Tucked into the rolling mass, held her own and then some.

Cary A.: Gave me the “Gig ’em” sign while leaning against his maroon-colored truck.

Greg S.: Two hundred and seventy three point nine attacks.

Harold M.: Can you say “counter” followed by “crying blood”?

Derek B.: Cooled his jets until he taxied for takeoff, then “boom.”

Nick B.: Hiding, hiding, hiding, wheelsucking, hiding, wheelsucking, hiding…

Carlos R.: Nicely placed. Can I send you a map so you can find the front? [Update: after reviewing a list of references provided by Carlos, WM sort of retracts this calumny with the following revision–“Worked like a superman at the front for most of the race, dropping the weak and feeble at will, and won the race by twelve bike lengths.”]

Alan M.: Crazy careening throughout the field like a bowling ball amongst the ten pins. Didn’t knock any down, though.

Simone M.: Always says “hi” like she means it!

Dave A.: Chopped by Wankmeister in the chicane…sorry, buddy! Monster pull with four to go, an entire lap and a half.

Andrew K.: Zinging to the front, zinging to the back, easily spotted with those red shoes.

La Grange Wanker in Green: Pulled a boner at the end and earned the wrath of Davy.

Helmetless Dude in the Bubbles Outfit: There was a time when no-helmet meant “you’re rad.” That time passed. Long ago. Long, long ago.

Walrus Dude not Wearing the Backpack: It was a tough half lap before the harpoon pierced your throat, but at least you were out there trying, which is a hell of a lot more than hundreds of alleged South Bay “racers” can say.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner Japanese Dude: You only got lapped twelve times, but you are, like, a hundred years old and have only been cycling for a couple of years and it takes balls to get out there and flail.

Peta the Brit Chick: Said “hi” to me in that cute Britty talky voicey thing, and held on for what seemed like a long time. Did you finish? Tell me you did.

Southbay Wheelchick: I don’t know your name, blondie, but you rode great.

Anonymous Big Orange Dudes: With, like, all 3,000 of your teammates out there, do you think you could have, like, let someone other than G3 and G$ do all the work? Never mind.

Heroes who sucked wheel for 55 minutes and made their cameo on the final lap: You will always suck, no matter how highly you place. There is a place in hell for people like you. It’s called Temecula.

Toronto: Never very far back, but never quite far enough ahead. Go to the front!

Major Bob: Thrashing, attacking, blasting, crushing, recovering, going again. Doing the NPR/Telo Tuesday double. Tired just watching you.

Manny G.: It’s not Telo without you, buddy! Heal up and hurry back.

Dan C.: UCI Rule 1982.39(a)ii(4) says that “Telo results shall not be validated without at least one hairy-legged monster surfer wanker showing up and kicking everyone in the teeth.” Where were you???

Fireman: Where…were…you?

Fukdude: I know this doesn’t fit in with the mathematical plan of victory calculated to the nearest .000001 gigawatt, but, since you practically invented Telo, and since people still come up to me on the street and say, “Who’s Fukdude?” you need to show up. Or not.

Neumann: NEUMANN!!! I didn’t get a note from your mother! Where were you?

Paul C.: Scary fast, in all the breaks, today just wasn’t your day. Or mine.

Wankmeister: DFL. Took one or two mousey pulls then scurried back to the protection of the swirling vortex. Some days you’re the giant wheel on the semi-tractor trailer. Some days you’re the asphalt smear.

Marco C.: Rode cannily, made a couple of nice escapes that were ultimately doomed to failure.

Joe Y.: You get an eternal Telo pass, or until the bone is completely absorbed by the metal and you become the Terminator.

Tara U.: Now. I’ve seen you go out there and shred. And. I expect you to come out and do it again. Never mind that I only make it to Telo once a year.

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