Or: Lame post-race excuses for getting your head staved in
[Boulevard Road Race Results 2011 and Boulevard Road Race recap]
I like to get places early. In fact, there’s not really any such thing in my book as “too early.” This includes getting to bike races. However, like sharing a motel room, when you take up someone’s offer of a carpool, you have to go with the flow. And when the person offering the carpool is Jeff K., you can forget toodling up to the event two hours beforehand in a compact and fuel efficient Prius.
You’ll be arriving in the Bling Machine
The full-size 2010 Cadillac Escalade comes with diamond-encrusted, 18-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers that hold your balls when you drive, xenon headlamps, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a power liftgate for your 350-lb. spouse, rear parking sensors that make a cute “splat” noise when you flatten whatever’s behind you, a triple-zone automatic climate control that lets you be freezing cold, steel smelting hot, and perfectly cozy all at the same time, leather upholstery that’s nicer than your living room couch, heated 14-way power front seats that are hot enough to blow dry your hair, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a crisp set of officer’s whites, power-adjustable pedals, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity so that you can drive without having to put your hands on the annoying steering wheel, OnStar to track your spouse’s trysts, a Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-disc CD/DVD changer so that you’ll finally have a use for that $15,000 collection of OBSOLETE compact discs, and a navigation system with real-time traffic updates so that you’ll know–surprise–that the 405 is at a standstill, and a built-in rear view camera for close-ups of the outraged drivers you chop in traffic.
This is all standard, along with the recessed hidden pockets for caching dime bags and related paraphernalia.
Butt Jeff K. doesn’t do “standard”
Why? Because “standard” is another word for “sucker.” Step up to the luxury model and you get hardware upgrades including 22-inch chrome alloy wheels which are bigger and therefore better, a more sophisticated adaptive suspension (Magnetic Ride Control) so that you can sleep even more comfortably when you fall asleep at the wheel, auto-dimming, high-beam headlights that can illuminate the high school football field in a pinch, and a sunroof, or rather a moonroof for when you cruise the ‘hood making sure your girls are working. Inside you’ll find heated and ventilated front seats for ultra fast fart dispersion, directional fans that let you point the flatulence over to whichever passenger has earned your ire, a heated steering wheel that forever renders obsolete the need to warm your hands by sitting on them, a power-release feature for the second-row seats that doubles as an eject button, and a blind-spot warning system for hitting blind people in just the right spot. The premium trim level adds power-retractable running boards for gang-banging on the fly and a rear-seat DVD video entertainment system with a ceiling-mounted screen so that your kids can watch the latest porn while you take them to their pole dancing lessons. Top-of-the-line Platinum versions of this growling beast throw in all the bells and whistles including LED headlights, heated and cooled cupholders, and a DVD entertainment system with dual screens mounted in the front seat headrests.
People who, after deciding on the luxury model, still feel skimped, can pick from options that include different styles of 22-inch alloy wheels–square and triangular–and a 60/40 split-folding second-row bench seat that lets a passenger bend over while maintaining the maximal degree of pelvic arch.
These, of course, are simply the creature comforts to make sure you hit the line well rested and spitting bling. For all the dopes shuttling their bike crap to the race in rusted out turdboxes that cost less than a good set of racing rims, eat your hearts out because there’s one honking badass car bolted underneath this moving luxury hotel room.
The SUV that gives Hummer fuel economy a good name
The obscene 6.2-liter V8 that puts out a sick 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission and a manual-shift feature will ensure that you’ll never get anywhere without gas stations evenly spaced at 300-yard intervals. The only downside to the power train is that the all-wheel-drive system lacks a low-range transfer case and features a default 40/60 front-to-rear power split that’s mainly intended to provide added peace of mind when road conditions turn ugly. “Ugly” in this case doesn’t mean four-wheeling like some low-rent plumber in a 4×4. It means “ugly” as in having to run over smaller vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and anything else cluttering up your pavement. When trying to outrun the cops on a crack run, this baby will take a mere 7.5 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph, a relatively impressive number for a vehicle this size and for a car that, once it reaches 60 mph, can neither be steered without a rudder nor stopped without a concrete blast wall.
New cylinder-deactivation technology that seamlessly shuts down and restarts half the engine’s cylinders to save fuel is now standard, even though Escalade engineers snickered throughout the entire design process, as EPA estimates stand at 14 mpg city/20 highway for the 2WD Escalade. This is a number which, if believed, makes you a potential investor in a Madoff fund which guarantees annual returns of at least 25%. Properly equipped, two-wheel-drive versions can tow a healthy 8,300 pounds or your mother-in-law, but not both.
Did these poor bastards take their Geritol?
We got to the race and it was pretty pathetic. Since I’ve revolutionized my training with the use of a power meter, doing build weeks that focus on intervals and endurance, and including the appropriate amount of rest, it was pretty much foreordained that I was going to destroy the field. I felt sorry for the sods pedaling around the campground in a futile attempt to warm up.
In fact, I considered ditching the 45+ race completely and just doing the pro-1-2 race. What kind of satisfaction would I get out of smacking the crap out of these old farts? There was poor old Roger W., looking older and slower and weaker than a homeless man after a Chicago ice storm. There was pathetic old Haluza, at 6’4″ and 185 way too big for a hard man’s climbing race like Boulevard. Who was he kidding?
And of course I’d ridden up with Jeff K., who, although admittedly on form, was going to get a big slice of manure pie shoved down his throat when I opened up the jets. Tired, sick, and mentally defeated Dave J. had emailed at the last minute to say he was going to race, so we’d gracefully allowed him to tag along. I spent my warm-up time trying to pick just the right speech to deliver from atop the podium.
I was having difficulty deciding to begin with “And thou, vanquished warriors” or “Good try, pathetic losers.”
At the sign-in I calmly unrolled my training log and power meter data and showed it to the guy handing out numbers. “See this, Freddie? You can just give me my medal and my money now and save these other bastards the misery of having to get spit out the back.”
He looked at me funny. “Who are you?”
“Davidson. Cat 4, 45+. You’ll know my name after today, pal.”
He rolled his eyes and gave me my number.
Lap One: victory in the making
I made sure to start on the very front row. Long experience had taught me that starting on the front intimidates everyone else, as there’s nothing more demoralizing than seeing someone courageous and fit enough to elbow his way to the head of the field before the race even starts. I felt their mutterings of fear.
We rolled out and hit the first little wall. This was the place last year that had caused me so much difficulty a mere two minutes into the race. Today it was effortless, as if a pair of bionic bolt-on legs had been attached at the hip. We crested the bump and began the long rolling downhill that takes about 25 minutes before you hit the first real climb of the day. Staying towards the front but cannily out of the wind, I watched three no-hopers leap off the front. “Fodder for us hardmen who’ll sweep them up like broken teeth after $1 shots in a Texas bar with fifty roughnecks and only one hooker,” I thought.
Before long we crossed the railroad tracks and began the first climb. It took 5:25 and required 322w, and I made it over in fine form. After a brief respite we started the second section. The pace on this climb alone shelled twenty or more of the 65-man field, with Hector Saldana driving the pace like a madman.
The second section of the climb took 6:47, killed off another clump of the feeble and the lame, and required 233w. However, halfway through the second section I noticed with some alarm an unpleasant burning sensation in both legs, a feeling that is often followed by getting dropped. Shortly after the feeling stabbed all the way into my lungs, I found myself in a single file, desperately trying to hold on. Still confident of the win, I nonetheless had to acknowledge that this degree of pain so early in the race was troubling, particularly since the rest of the field was chatting and stretching and eating and finally putting away the morning paper.
At 41 minutes into the race we turned onto the big hill, a steep, jagged 5.2 mile climb that rears up out of the earth like a tooth from the lower jaw of Charlie Sheen. At this moment Mike Haluzka attacked, smashing the group, shelling remnants out the back and forcing the remainder into a bitter single file. It took 706w to follow the attack, and 302w to make it to the top of the climb, although halfway up I got puked out the back with ten or fifteen others. Haluzka’s pace was so bitter, however, that at the slight declivity midway through the climb the leaders sat up, frightened at what they’d unleashed. I and my group struggled back onto the lead pack, where I took a few moments to re-evaluate my victory speech. “It is with great honor that I accept these spoils of victory” or “I can’t believe I beat you guys after that thrashing on the first lap”…either one would be appropriate.
Lap Two: it’s not an endurance event until 90 minutes have elapsed
Everyone knows that my forte is endurance. This is really where I shine. So it was only a minor inconvenience that I got dropped and had to time-trail back onto the leading group. Once back with the peloton I could re-evaluate my competition. There was Meeker, looking older than a bristlecone pine and clearly not up to the task at hand. There was Haluzka, plainly cracked and hanging on for dear life after that pointless beating he administered on the big climb. There was Jaeger, surviving, but just barely. There was JK, looking good but only because I had yet to unleash my Attack of Black Death.
Over on the side was Worthington 1, wondering how he was going to hang with the big boys. Over on the other side was Worthington 2, uncomfortable and out of his element. Pomeranz was swerving and wheel chopping, stuck in last year’s glory of his states victory. Hotten obviously didn’t have the legs, and Leibert glanced over at me with what can only be described as the “glance begging for mercy where none will be shown.” No, there was only one rider in the field who was up to the task at hand, and that was me, because it’s not an endurance event until you hit the 90-minute mark. This must have been how Ghengis Khan felt when looked down onto some modest city filled with plump victims and soft defenders who’d never faced the horse and the cruel edge of steel.
At 1:22 there was a 721w surge as we hit the bottom of the climb. I laughed to myself and found a good wheel. The next time I checked my clock it read 1:30. “There it is,” I said to myself with glee. “Get ready to hurt, suckas!”
We were 869 feet from the summit of the climb, my GPS has informed me after the fact. JK had been drilling it full bore for the last 3:27. I looked down to check my wattage, when suddenly it broke. The “it” unfortunately was not the display or the power meter, but me. In a few short seconds the pack had left me behind without even pausing to appreciate the intensity and fury of the Attack of Black Death I was preparing to unleash. “Ungrateful bastards!” I cursed.
55 seconds later I crested the hill, put my head down, and time trailed again back up to the pack. This time there would truly be no mercy as I shot to the front and put down the most fearsome and searing attack of the day. 1:19 later the entire field was gasping in fear and exhaustion and pain, strung out in a wide group 4 abreast, sipping water and looking at their watches. I relented, satisfied that I’d made my point. Worthington 1 rolled by. “Good pull,” he said, trying to hide his fear with a friendly smile.
When we turned for the second time up the big hill, I decided that they’d had enough. “Why punish these idiots any further?” I said to myself. “I’m going to have to see them again next week, so no need to rub their noses in it.”
With that, I let them ride away, this time for good. I re-evaluated my podium speech for a third time. “I dedicate this DFL to my mother, my wife, and my children.” Sounded pretty good to me.
The lead group became a tiny dot. Once they were out of sight, I heard a noise like a sonic boom, later to learn that it was Leibert who had attacked from the rear, catching the competition with their pants down, and flying the coop for good. I was proud of him, as that was exactly what I had planned to do, only harder and faster. He time trialed the entire third lap, winning the race by more than two minutes. Jeff K. and the rest of the Orangemen shut down the chase attempts by Meeker and Worthington 1, though JK could have easily bridged.
At the finish, Meeker threaded a line between a hapless clump of 35+ers who had arrived at the same time, to take 2nd. JK got 3rd, Roger W. got 4th, Haluzka got 5th, Pomeranz 6th, and Dave W. 7th. Jaeger, who had ridden the entire race on twelve minutes of sleep and a bottle of Nyquil, got 15th, and continued his streak of never entering a race with me and finishing less than 30 minutes ahead.
Lap Three: this is how puppies feel when you rub their nose in it
Once I had magnanimously decided to let the others fight it out for the win–who cares about a stupid bike race anyway–the rest of the race was a blur. I ended up in a four-man wanker brigade: Scott from Coates Cyclery, who looked like he was a hundred but rode like a man twice his age; Steve from BL Bicycles, whose redeeming quality of being willing to pull endlessly was offset by his 4’11” frame that provided zero draft; and Dean from Bike Religion, who had found God and was force-feeding him to my soul via my aching, screaming, bleeding thighs. We traded pulls, battering miserably, senselessly, stupidly, and hopelessly until we crossed the tracks and began the final climb. We were broken old men, clawing our way through the desert for the grand prize of not being DFL. And it would be a fight to the death.
My temporary teammates left me in the dust after the tracks and I dragged on, broken and alone, one mile from the Mexican border and ready to take the next left and try my luck with coyotes and drug smugglers rather than finish the race DFL. On the bright side, when you’re shelled and cracked and straggling alone uphill to the finish line, you get to take note of the countryside and scenery. That’s normally my favorite part of getting dropped, but this part of California is barren and ugly and studded with shrubby, spiny, desert vegetation. It’s as if God leveled His cannon and shot the whole landscape with a shit pistol. The sun beats down hot and dry unless the wind happens to be blowing at 30 below. I noted that the road had gone from black to vomit green, and pondered the road crew that had paved California’s only green highway.
“Say, Bill, pour me some more of that asphalt, willya?”
“Aw shit, Terrence we’re damn shore all outta asphalt.”
“Well hell we gotta pave it with something.”
“My old lady’s still sick in the back of the pickup from last night at the Golden Acorn.”
“Let’s just scoop up them puke baggies and dump it into the hot mix. Nobody’ll ever know.”
Midway through this reverie I passed a poor sap from the 35+ race who had started long ahead of us. He was cramped and unable to pedal. There is nothing that gets me more motivated than someone going more slowly than I am, unless it’s someone who’s hurting and wrecked and from another race. “You okay?” I pretended to care.
“All cramped up,” he moaned.
“You’ll make it,” I soothed him. “The finish is just another 15 miles away, uphill with a headwind. But at least it’s not raining like last year.” He moaned some more and made as if to unclip and go lie on a cactus.
“Take one of these,” I said, and handed him a Hammer anti-cramp capsule that had been given to me before the race by a buddy. Just as he reached over, it slipped from my hand, and I’ve never seen a cyclist intentionally lunge harder or faster for the pavement. He scooped it up and washed it down.
“You do massages?” he shouted as I dwindled in the distance.
Going for the glory
Imagine my shock when, a couple of miles from the line, I was overtaken by a group of 10 or 15 wankers from the 45+ field who were apparently even bigger wankers than I. In addition to ensuring that, with a little strategy, I wouldn’t be DFL, I immediately saw that I could make an impressive showing in the final run to the line.
There is an unwritten rule in cycling that at the end of a race in which you are wanking pack fodder, it is unseemly to sprint. Of course there’s an even bigger rule which is that rules exist to be broken.
Team Wanker rolled by me, blathering loudly about their heroics during the first part of the race. They included three of the guys who had been in the no-hope breakaway that stayed out for well over a lap before splatting on the windshield of the hostile field. As we approached the line, one of them turned to me, seeing me start to shift. “No, you don’t,” he warned.
A second wanker wheeled alongside. “We’re not going to sprint for 30th are we? You’re kidding me, right?”
All he got in response was my steely-eyed glint. Poor bastard didn’t even know we were actually sprinting for 27th.
Easy as taking raw meat from the jaws of a pitbull I unleashed the Sprint of Black Death and cruised over the line with bike lengths to spare. The spectators watched, slack-jawed that a racer with such speed and power was not racing with a squad from the Pro Tour. I heard them whisper as I roared by, “That’s his first 27th placing of the year!”
My mission accomplished, I reviewed the day’s successes:
1. The only people who beat me were the ones who were faster, stronger, shrewder, and better at bike racing.
2. My name was on everyone’s lips, pretty much.
3. I got to save my victory address for next week.
4. [Best of all] Jeff K. and Jaeger were still in the parking lot when I finished so I didn’t have to walk the 180 miles back home.
Best of all, I confirmed that with proper training, smart nutrition, and the use of a power meter, I can spend more time and money and do even worse than I used to do with a steel bike and wool jersey.
Just wait til next year.