As I reflect on the past week at nationals, it was an incredible experience competing on the big stage and seeing such amazing people like the Shimano neutral support dude who thought Rudy had ridden off on the spare bike, so he ran over to the Time team and said, “Where’s my bike?” and the Time dude who was pretty chunky himself got all pissy and said, “Look here, fatso, you’ll get your bike back!” and it looked like it was gonna be a clash of the rubber tummy bumpers because Rudy, who had had his winning solo break brought back after riding so hard he’d broken his seat post, was in despair and had pedaled away on the neutral support bike to phone the suicide hotline.
Before the two fat people could tummy bump, however, the longest running junior high school girls’ catfight in SoCal cycling history, a vicious spat between Michelle Johnson and Joncy Abate, erupted into a violent stream of name calling and insults about each others’ lip gloss. The combatants almost came to blows until Michelle’s skirt got hung up on Joncy’s strapless bra and they were both ejected from the post-race festivities for indecent exposure. Michelle’s BFF, Crystal “Meatballs” DiMarchi, separated the two girls.
“Michelle!” he said, “Quit spitting on Joncy and let’s all go watch Sharon crash out with 13 laps to go.”
The three girls clasped hands and skipped over to Turn One just in time to see Sharon do a backflip over the barricades and into a bush.
In addition to the high level of name calling competition and tummy bumping, nationals showcased USA Cycling’s extraordinary marketing savvy. Having held nationals in Bend for three consecutive years, USAC’s marketing machine ensured that each corporate sponsor received maximal exposure for their significant investment in masters racing.
Everywhere we went in Bend, we’d tell shop keepers and town denizens that we were there for the national championships.
“Of what?” they invariably replied.
“Really? Here? In Bend?”
“Yes. Racing’s been going on all week.”
“Wow! I had no idea!”
In addition to their stealth marketing, USAC made sure that race finishes were packed with dozens of spectators. In my entire life there has never been anything as exciting or thrilling as finishing an arduous road race to the enthusiastic cheering and applause of three spectators and a small crying child.
On a serious note
Despite the dickbag disorganization of USAC and the kindergarten hairpulling dramas, nationals was the best racing I’ve ever done. The quality of the field is so high, except perhaps for Mr. Poopypants. No matter how much we brag about the quality of racing in SoCal, a week at nationals confirms how many great riders there are, even though SoCal racers claim their share of podium spots, the rest of the country and NorCal make every race a hard fought battle.
The competition raises your game and gives you a clear measuring stick regarding how good you really are. The road races are stacked with great roadies. The crits are filled with sprint monsters. The time trials are loaded with pain merchants, and the tandem events are packed with butt snorkelers.
Most of all is the team camaraderie that we built by spending a week together completely drunk. On our final night we celebrated at Deschutes Brewery and then slept on a park bench. As a team we’re already making plans for nationals in Ogden, the polygamous child-bride capital of Utah. Training begins today.