Helping the younger generation

May 26, 2014 § 16 Comments

One of the things most important to me is helping young folks, especially young bicycle riders. Although I have never coached anyone, whenever I ride I keep an eye out for young, impressionable minds who might need a bit of help with regard to learning the ropes in this complicated and demanding sport.

We started this morning and chugged along towards the base of the reservoir climb. The Wheatgrass Ride, held every Sunday, is an amalgamation of old and slow people who either have an AARP card or soon will. One or two tough guys such as the Wily Greek regularly show up, but for the most part it’s our one chance to beat up on other old people, or to avenge the wounds suffered the day before on the Donut Ride, wounds inflicted by young, strong, fit riders who lack the chub and flab and other indicia of age and inability.

I hit the bottom of the reservoir with a vengeance. Halfway up there was a gaggle of nine or ten riders on my wheel from the original group of about thirty. I swung over and Canyon Bob charged through with a very young rider tucked in behind. A slight gap opened and I hopped in behind Young Pup.

Bob mashed and smashed, shedding a few riders, and swung over. Young Pup swung over, too.

I pulled through and pounded the few IQ points I had left in a mad surge to the top of the climb. At the top I wobbled over to the side, wasted, and Hoof Fixer Man pounded through.

I clawed onto the back and coasted the long downhill all the way to the foot of Better Homes. Hoof Fixer Man accelerated up the hill and there was only a group of five or six left.

Ugly Ankles, who never takes a pull but who is also close to 90, attacked. I strained to bridge, towing the gaggle with me. As I started to fizzle and pop, Young Pup bounded by, dropping us easily, closing the gap, and fastening onto Ugly Ankles’s wheel like a suckerfish attaching itself to a dugong.

Now the chase was in earnest. With four riders on my wheel I pushed and groaned and flailed, and after five desperate elbow flicks Chatty Cathy finally, reluctantly, barely pulled through. He was no match for Ugly Ankles, however, who easily kept the distance.

Young Pup sat tucked in behind the dugong-draft, stick-like legs merrily spinning away.

The climb flattened and then reached the base of the longer, tougher climb to the Domes. Young Pup jumped hard and dropped Ugly Ankles on the first steep ramp, dropped him like a heavy turd from a tall horse.

I jumped too, and was now chasing Young Pup alone. Except for the brief respite by Canyon Bob and Chatty Cathy, I’d been mashing for the entirety of the morning’s climbing. Young Pup couldn’t get any farther away, but I couldn’t claw him back, either. He kept looking back to make sure I was in check, and I was.

Then the Wily Greek came by. He’d spent the better part of the morning twiddling his thumbs, and he overtook the elderly fellows and the elderly me with ease, gliding by on the climb hardly breathing. As he raced up the road, Young Pup jumped on his wheel and held it for a couple of hundred yards before blowing. Still, he’d increased his distance, putting my effort further out of reach, and his insectan recovery rate meant that within a few seconds he was racing off again.

At the top of the climb Young Pup wheeled around to watch us straggle in. I was the next finisher, a long way back. I pedaled up to him.

“Can I give you some advice?”

“Sure.” He was pleased to accept whatever tidbits I had to offer, seeing as how he’d bludgeoned me into a bag of broken dicks.

“When you suck wheel on a gang of old farts, most of whom have children old enough to be your parents, and then at the very end jump by them, fresh as a daisy after they’re worn to shit … no one’s impressed.”

His face fell and his lip quivered.

“If you’re good enough to smush us like a bug — and you are — then you’re good enough to attack early, or take a fuggin’ pull, or do something classier than suck and jump. There’s no honor in strategically out-riding your granddad.”

He looked like he was going to cry, but he didn’t. He clipped in and coasted down the hill.

A buddy came up. “That was a bit harsh, don’t you think?”

“I hope it was. If they learn chickenshit riding when they’re young, they’ll ride chickenshit all their lives.”

“It was pretty good tactical riding.”

“Yeah, except this isn’t a race and there’s no one here on his level except the Wily Greek.”

“He’s just a junior.”

“I’m just an old man.”

We regrouped at the bottom of the Switchbacks and the group rolled at a stiff pace to the bottom of the Glass Church hill. Davy ramped it up the long roller with Young Pup on his wheel. Davy swung over and Young Pup charged ahead. It was a vicious, long, thoroughly nasty headwind pull that instantly put everyone into the red.

He swung over and I came through, trying to match his effort. When I finished my turn, I looked at his face as he hit the front again. His mouth was twisted open in agony. Chunks of spit caulked his cheeks and face. He was gasping as if he’d been harpooned.

Still he hit the front and, after stuffing us in the hurt locker, punted the hurt locker off the cliff.

I would have told him “good job.” But I couldn’t.



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§ 16 Responses to Helping the younger generation

  • Bob says:

    you should have

  • christian tregillis says:

    Is young pup Jules? Or Gavin?

    While I kinda understand not pulling through hard if you’ve never done a climb before, both of them know Crest inside out. And I don’t mean this in a negative way, but both of those guys are in such good shape right now that they both could easily have done some work with you.

    I guess he maaaaaaaaaybe could have been waiting for a move from Stathis (giving the extreme benefit of the doubt). Stathis and Jules rode in a break together on the Donut a few weeks ago and Jules had all he could handle with Stathis. It was those two and Marco and me (though I turned around early as it was a pre-race ride for me). Four tiny stick figures (though Jules is growing larger by the day).

    Speaking of which, Stathis cruised the first hill up PV East yesterday, but man was his homes and domes fierce! He has really raised his game in the past few months. I sometimes wonder why he does Wheatgrass as there seems to never be anyone there that offers him any challenge. But the same could be said for the Kettle.

    Maybe LaGrange. I know a few good guys who do that ride. So I go there when I want to simulate a RR. Hard first hill and then hard rollers, fighting to hold on or attack the rest of the way. I’m not the strongest guy there, so it always pushes me to my limit.

    But for Stathis it’s gotta be almost boring to ride the same climbs 5 times every day, either at talking pace or alone. A nice problem to have, though!

  • spinner says:

    You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch! You have, all by yourself, made Young Pup into a pulling machine!!!! Wish I could come and watch the pain…..

  • SrGeezerJohan says:

    Great work coach! Hopefully you just turned a promising young pup into another gullible rider/racer incapable of thinking on their own, who thinks cycling should be “fair” and who jumps, pulls or chases whenever an older rider yells. Old wise guys thank you. Although now it’ll probably take many years of therapy to turn the pup into a wise dog.

    • fsethd says:

      As long as I can beat him, I don’t care if I’ve ruined his career. In fact, that adds to the satisfaction.

  • Wily says:

    Chris, the reason I do the Wheatgrass ride is because on Sundays if I’m not home by 1pm, my girlfriend will beat me up.

  • dan martin says:

    The lad was looking so torn and abandoned after the schooling. He just stood there by himself, head down. I gave him a pat on the back as I coasted back down. He got it.
    It was beautiful.

    • fsethd says:

      There’s a time to be nice and understanding.

      I’m still waiting for that time.

  • Vlad says:

    Good job, Seth.

  • oldfatguy says:

    As a coach and parent, I have learned that every kid has a story of why and how he does what he does, as an athlete and as a person. The fact that Jules or Gavin didn’t tell you to go f$#@ yourself says a lot about the man he will become and your whining says a lot about the asshole that you are.

    • fsethd says:

      Awwww … I’m getting all warm and fuzzy.

      As a coach I’m sure you make sure every child gets a juice box, and as a parent I’m sure your children are examples of the best that McDonald’s has to offer.

      And if you were enough of a rider to have been present, you’d know better than to toss up the names of people who weren’t even there.

    • Winemaker says:

      You’re wrong. Too soft is bad, too hard is bad; this wan’t too hard, it was just real. I had a teacher and coach who, when I was 13, told me,
      “Get over your dad dying, It’s time to grow up.” He couldn’t coach for shit, but he bought us all lunch most weekends. He was soft and weak, then way too stern and nasty. What he taught me is that a well placed comment is invaluable and most of the other crap is worthless. It’s just too bad he never had any well placed comments, but I got a lot of Jumbo Jacks out of him.

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