Does he even know who I am?

January 4, 2014 § 35 Comments

We rolled out from CotKU and this fucktard, from the very beginning, sneaked to the back. You know the type. Everyone takes a turn at the front but fucktard never gets anywhere near it because, you  know, it’s our job to drag his sorry ass around all day.

When we hit PCH and the light at Topanga, the deck reshuffled again and he opened up a gap next to Bull and started slinking to the back.

“Hey, fucktard,” I said in a jovial way. “Get your sorry fucking ass back in the line and take a fucking pull.”

He hesitated and gave me a nasty look. Polly and Roadchamp were on the point, Bull was behind Roadchamp, and Fucktard had opened a space next to Bull, obviously waiting for someone else to fill it as he slinked to the back. “What?” he said, surprised.

“Get your worthless fucking ass back in the line and take a fucking pull when it’s your turn.”

He gave me the Look of Hurt Feelings. “But you guys are all stronger than me,” he whined.

“You think you’re gonna get stronger sucking wheel on the back while we drag your double wide ass up the coast? Get the fuck in line and take a fucking pull.”

“You guys are all younger than me!” he whined some more.

“Like that’s my problem? You don’t like our group go fucking ride somewhere else. This isn’t a welfare state. If you’re gonna stick your face in the hog trough, then you better take a fucking pull.”

What is it with people?

Fucktard reluctantly sidled up to Bull and sat behind Konsmo and Polly for six or seven long miles. When it came time to take a pull he went to the front and took one. We weren’t going fast and we weren’t going hard. It was totally doable and, surprise, he did it. All the while he was chatting, with great animation, to Bull.

After  less than a mile the dude next to me flatted. We stopped and Fucktard helped with a snappy tire change. I went behind a fence and urinated on the fender of a very expensive Ferrari. When I came back, he stuck out his hand and aggressively introduced himself. I smiled and responded in kind. Then we hit Cross Creek and he turned around.

“Hey,” said Bull. “That guy didn’t like you very much.”

“Him and 6.5 billion others,” I said.

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him to take a fucking pull and quit slinking to the back like a wanker.”

“He was pretty upset.”

“So what? At least he took a pull. What did he say?”

“He said, ‘Does that guy know who I am? He can’t talk to me like that!'”

“Who was he?”

“Some crit racer from the 80’s.”

“Ohhhhh … then it’s okay. He raced bikes in a hairnet so he should be allowed to sit in and have us tow him around all day.”

Bull laughed. “Something like that.”

Some rules of the road

Here’s the deal with group riding, especially in a small group. No one gets to sit in. If you’re too old, too weak, too overweight, too undertrained, too inexperienced, too nervous, or too lazy to take a pull, then go away. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Wow, I’d like to tow someone around all day, especially someone I don’t know and have never ridden with.”

Think about it like this: If someone has more money than you, do you go up to them and demand they subsidize your rent? Okay, bad example. We’re talking about bike racers after all.

The thing about taking a pull is that it ennobles you, even if you crack, crumble, and get shelled. Everyone respects someone who tries. No one respects someone who, without asking, sucks wheel and never takes a pull. Taking a pull isn’t just a thing you should do on bike rides, it’s a metaphor for life. There’s a kid on the NPR named Ronan who, at age 13, has more guts and courage and personal responsibility than guys who’ve been doing that ride for decades. He can’t wait to charge to the front, take a hard pull, and stick his nose in the wind. He doesn’t care if he gets shelled, he just wants to taste the front and test his legs AND DO HIS SHARE.

So when some dude “from the 80’s” refuses to do anything other than glom onto the back and refuse to do even a fraction of his share … he’s going to get a talking to.

As Garrett, one of the witnesses to the whole affair said, “Well, that was another motivational talk from the Wankmeister. Spreading the love.”

You’re goddamned fucking right.


Note to reader: Did you know that you can now subscribe to Cycling in the South Bay in order to keep this invaluable stream of time-wasting nonsense coming on a daily basis? For a mere $2.99 per month you can pay money for something that you could otherwise have for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner … and thanks!

§ 35 Responses to Does he even know who I am?

  • bill stevenson says:

    Nice Seth. Yesterday you were a therapist; today a teacher. Thanks. Your posts always (nearly) make my day better.

  • ipdamages says:

    with all due respect, why do you care if there is some guy sitting on the back of your group? if he’s making your ride unsafe because he’s overlapping a wheel or screwing up your rotation with uneven or all-over-the-road pulls, or getting gapped, sure – I say burn the sum-bitch. may he rot in hell. hit him so hard you kill him and his family. but sitting on the back of your group of five(ish) does absolutely nothing to you, does it? … that is, other than its affront to your values as the WM, which I completely understand, given that it is your tagline (go to the front!). all that said, I agree that there is no different standard that applies if you were formerly a strong rider, or miss teen USA 1975. I say ride safely and don’t get into my shit. other than that, peace be with you, and hopefully you will have fun and maybe in time you will be strong enough to take some pulls. and if you want to, WM, pull harder so he blows out the back, like mmx does every time he gets a good stretch of open road(although some of your ride-buddies might not appreciate it). just my $0.02…

    • Some gassed wanker says:

      It’s part of the social compact of a group ride. Ass, grass, or pull. Nobody rides for free.

      • fsethd says:

        Basically, that’s right. If you’re hurt, or sick, or bonked, or have a mechanical, or have flat run out of steam, you’re always welcome to hide and seek shelter. We all do and have done it. But there is an unwritten social compact — each according to what he can. And if you’re so completely weak that you can’t even make it to the front once, maybe a) you’re with the wrong group or b) you can take a pull, get shelled, and get a little stronger for next time.

    • fsethd says:

      You know, you’re not too far off, except for a couple of points. When the ride starts, introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Bill. I used to race and am just getting my fitness back. Mind if I tag along? I’m probably not going to be strong enough to do much work.”

      However, on this particular ride, he was clearly strong enough to do plenty of work, he just didn’t want to. This bothers me just like when someone goes out to dinner and doesn’t offer to pay his share. If you don’t have the money, say so before you order. We’ll cover it and it will be no big deal. But there is a pathology in cycling where people think that because they’re not hurting anyone, they should be able to tag along and not contribute. That pisses everyone off. “Who’s that guy? Why’s he never taking a pull? How come he didn’t introduce himself? How come when he gets one wheel from the front he swings out goes back to the back?”

      It’s bullshit riding and on this particular ride it was even more so because it was a relatively small group of friends, and everyone was doing something. There’s etiquette in our peloton, and that’s part of it. It may be different in other places, but everywhere I’ve ever ridden you’re expected to contribute if you can. This is completely different from bonking, being trashed, or begging for help. It’s the idea that I can show up, sit in, and contribute nothing to a group effort that tows me happily along at 24 mph that chaps my ass.

  • joe demunk says:

    imho it really all depends on the size of the group – a big group – 10+ sit on the back all you want – like dangles says.. “ride safely and don’t get into my shit. other than that, peace be with you” – however, when the group gets smaller – < 6 – come through – not every rotation but enough to spell someone who's working or to show that you appreciate the group's effort, just don't cook yourself and get dropped… ah yes, the subtle etiquette of riding in the bunch – if he was someone in the 80's he'd have know this..

    • ipdamages says:

      Good points. I generally agree. But if someone has no clue what they’re doing I really don’t want them making my 6-person ride unsafe by rolling through with a big gap, taking a pull that is way too fast or too slow, not going to the back safely and smoothly, and generally making a mess of things bc they aren’t strong enough. To your point about big group rides, on the Donut today on the way to the first climb I’d say 15% of the group spent some amount of time on the front. And I was fine with that. The rest can stay in the back and out of the way. The problem is when they come to the front and don’t know what to do or get spooked or brake too hard or … And then I’m on the ground bleeding and all my training is for shit, right before Boulevard. And I have to call my wife and tell her to meet me at the hospital.

      • fsethd says:

        Yep, the type and nature of the ride is key. This was a small ride that was going to be long, nasty, and punishing after we hit Encinal, and everyone was conserving as we intentionally throttled it back on PCH. So to have this yahoo sitting in bragging about sew-ups and hairnets was annoying.

      • Winemaker says:

        That part about calling your wife to meet you at the hospital really blows, Ugh.

    • fsethd says:

      You’re right, the group size and type of ride are very important. This was a small group of eight guys by the time we hit PCH, not going hard, and he absolutely new the score. All it would have taken was a word, “Hey guys, mind if I sit in?” and I would have said “Yes, I mind. Go to the front when it’s your turn.”

      It’s especially so when you show up unknown and uninvited, don’t introduce yourself, and then brag about how “well known” you were “back in the 80’s.” I’ve found that “back in the 80’s” is code for “something unappetizing is about to be said.”

  • New Girl says:

    Love & RESPECT. Thank you for writing, signed NG (who had her nose in the wind for five pedal strokes for the first time ever on NPT Th (before Junk told me to get off NOW!!!)

    • fsethd says:

      Yes, you go to the front, take your knocks, and head on back to safety, as a baby seal should.

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Cycling etiquette, at least pull through. Don’t fuck up the pace line.

  • Deborah says:

    I was all on board with your post, having been there, commented that (perhaps with less profanity but as pointedly), but when you went NPR, I had to give you props. Because really, nobody wakes up thinking, “I’m going to suck wheel on this ride; screw those other people with whom I ride.” And to those who do wake up thinking that: Fuck off. I don’t want to deal with you.

    • fsethd says:

      Yep. The nature of the ride is important, too. When it’s 29 mph into a headwind and you’re in prayer mode, that’s very different from showing up on a long PCH ride in a small group and refusing to every pull through, then getting angry when you’re told to do your share. And of course this guy turned around at Cross Creek after having taken exactly one pull the whole morning. I should feel guilty about not being sweeter about it, but I’m just not very sweet. If he were a kid or a beginner I wouldn’t have been quite as rough, but when I’m on my bike I get yelled at and pushed around and I somehow manage to get over it.

  • anytime someone use the phrase “do you know who I am” there’s going to me cosmic karma balance adjustment coming very soon. WTF…

    What I love more is when the guys sit in the back, never pull but contest town-line sprints… Sorry didn’t realize I was your lead out…

    great stuff.


    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, Vanderbacon!! Yeah, “Do you know who I am?” is right up there with “I was famous in the 80’s.”

      The whole Belgian Waffle Ride was created to force people to go to the front and do their share. Sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s about being your best, and that always means giving at least as much, if not more, than you receive.

  • johnny says:

    i think you are jesus

  • Arkansas Traveler says:

    Do you know who I was?

  • Dan says:

    Well done sir! You didn’t address the guy who sits in until there is a strava section and sprints off to get the KOM with no shame. We have one of these on our Saturday beatdown.problem is, we are to civil to berate this jackass. Guess if no one says anything we deserve what we get. On another note davis phinney used the “don’t you know who I am” on me during the busstop ride in boulder in the 80s. Haha

    • fsethd says:

      Difference is, he was actually somebody. Regardless, the proper answer to that question is always, “No.”

      Yes, you have to tell people, politely or rudely, to follow the rules or they will flaunt them with impunity.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    That 80’s “crit” that fuktard raced in wouldn’t have been the turdy france now would it? It would mean the world to me if it was.

    Another awesome column. Read your book on a long flight and loved it.

    • fsethd says:

      Hey, thanks!!!

      I will quiz him more carefully if he ever shows up again about his palmares.

  • Seth says:

    Wow. Talking like a republican. Or are we a double talker? Spoken like a true man of convenience.

    • fsethd says:

      I like it when people pretend that fairness is the domain of Republicanism, but somehow can’t see or give a rat’s ass about all the veterans in downtown living on the street.

      To each according to his means. That’s the opposite of the modern Republican Party, which stands for this: “Everything for me, nothing for you.”

  • Seth says:

    Well spoken! You hit the nail on the head! Just look in the mirror a little closer…..yes, it’s you. Self-righteous wanker.

  • David Huntsman says:

    Last spring a few of us 80’s crit guys rode down the coast and when we got to around Ventura we looked back and saw a bunch of 70’s time-trial guys sitting on. You could tell by the swollen knees. We didn’t really want them to pull through, but neither did we want this contrail of older farts sweeping along behind us, reverse-echeloning as we were in the right lane but they were trying to stay on the shoulder. So, I faked a flat and when we pulled over they rode past us. By the time we were done fake-fixing the flat we noticed one of us 80’s crit guys had gotten in the car line at the In-n-Out Burger across the street and was ordering burgers and shakes by the bagful. Then we painfully rode to Santa Monica, bumping handlebars all the way.

    • fsethd says:

      Yeah, I was on a ride like that, except the 70’s time trialists were being followed by 60’s stage racers who, in turn, were being stalked by 50’s madison racers. Amazing stuff happens out on the road.

What’s this?

You are currently reading Does he even know who I am? at Cycling in the South Bay.


%d bloggers like this: