If you’ve ever ridden much with Aaron Wimberley, and you don’t like him, you’re probably an asshole. On second thought, scratch “probably.” You are an asshole.
I’ve always admired him, and not just because he’s fast, and tough, and has great bike handling skills, and always fights fair. And not just because he’ll talk your ear off. And not just because he’ll talk trash and laugh good-naturedly when you talk it back.
Those things are all great qualities, but the thing I admire most is that he shares.
Dude, you really suck
A few weeks ago after a brisk beatdown on the NPR, he came up to me while we were sipping froo-froo coffees at the Center of the Known Universe.
“Dude,” he said with a laugh. “You know what I’m gonna start calling you when you attack?”
“Lightning?” I asked hopefully.
“Fuck, no. I’m gonna call you the Big Blue Bus ’cause you pull away so fucking slow that everybody, including that dude on the skateboard, has time to jump on your wheel.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling pretty tiny and cockroachish.
“Yeah,” he continued. “Just like the Big Blue Bus, dude, everybody’s parked happy in their seat and staring out the window while you flog yourself into a pile of meat and sweat, and then they all blast by in the sprint, dumping you quicker than a turd from Montezuma’s Revenge.”
“Well, I’m just slow.”
“Fuck no you’re not slow. You got power galore and you go fucking fast when you get up to speed. But like the bus, it takes you too long. All these wankers have time to climb aboard, read the paper and get a peddy. You need to work on your snap. Here’s how.”
He proceeded to give me some solid advice about how to become, if not Greased Lightning, at least a turbo bus.
There’s another guy who’s a regular on the NPR, Trevon Salazar. He’s young and incredibly quick, but he never manages to make his way to third or fourth wheel in time for the finish. He’s always choking on someone’s fumes.
Aaron took him aside, too, and although I wasn’t there, the conversation must have gone something like this.
“Dude, your sprint positioning sucks balls. And your top end looks like you bought it at Wal-Mart.”
“Oh…” [Feeling very, very tiny.]
“Yeah. Get your ass out on the Parkway one of these evenings with me and Derek and a couple of teammates and we’ll practice giving you leadouts. You gotta be on the right wheel and then when your competition kicks, you’ve gotta have the top end to pass. It ain’t fucking rocket science.”
Take notes. Do as told. Watch good results flow.
On this morning’s NPR I didn’t do a single Big Blue Bus curb attack. Instead, I waited and hit it hard, springing free so that even though I got reeled in, the chasers had to actually chase. Each time there were nice gobs of snot and spittle hanging from the mouths of the chasers, and when they caught, there was never any counter.
After the second effort Aaron grinned over at me. “Good job, Bus. That’s how to do it!”
In the finale I grabbed Aaron’s wheel and actually made it to third in the field sprunt, my best ever.
But the most impressive thing was watching Trevon after a week of working with Aaron. Today, even though I was locked on Aaron’s wheel, with 400 yards to go Trevon just took it from me. When the last leadout man pulled off, Aaron unleashed, and not only did his understudy hold the acceleration, but he came by him neatly and with a bike length or two to spare.
“Good job, dude,” Aaron said.
How many people do you know in bike racing who’ll train their competition, and then congratulate them on a job well done?
Not very many, I bet.