February 9, 2015 § 50 Comments

Before the first waffle has been eaten, the first sausage scarfed, or the first ale quaffed, the 2015 Belgian Waffle Ride has its first bona fide controversy: Catgate.

On the online entry form, riders were asked to list their USAC racing category. Mistakenly thinking that their starting position would be determined by their racing category, some registrants took the opportunity to misstate their category and thereby get placed ahead of the lowly Cat 5’s, public, and “unranked” riders, not a few of whom are absolute beasts. Unfortunately for the sneaks, each registrant was checked against USAC records, and several riders were caught red-fingerboarded.

Since the “ride” will go off in three waves, some riders apparently believed that there was an advantage to going in the first wave even though it’s a timed event, with each wave starting at 0:00:00. A lively discussion of Catgate ensued on Facebag, where various punishments were discussed. Although I offered to do the beheadings, that option was not selected, and the fate of the would-be cheaters remains undecided.

Choices on the table include public shaming, relegation to the last wave, being banned from the ride, and having a note sent to your mother.

On the other hand, if there’s one thing about bikers you can count on, it’s the certainty that given the chance they will cheat. Actually, they will cheat even when they aren’t given the chance. Why?

Because cheating is fun.

The whole concept of the bike race is little more than organized cheating. You hunker behind the rider with the biggest butt to cheat the wind; you descend pell-mell or bang bars in the sprunt to cheat death; the winner of the race is the one who forces everyone else to work more while he hides like a thief in the night, waiting to slit the throats of those who ride with courage and honor. What could be more natural for a cyclist than cheating on a registration form, or cheating your way to the finish of a fun ride?

Moreover, the Belgian Waffle Ride was quite literally born amidst the pangs and throes of cheating cheaters who love to cheat. I will never forget the inaugural 2012 BWR, when a certain South Bay rider showed up and pirated it from beginning to end, eating the free breakfast, stopping at each aid station to gobble the food and drink, and enjoying the post-ride festivities to a fare-thee-well.

I caught up with him the following week and said, “Don’t you feel bad for being such a thieving, cheating, Delta Bravo, and generally worthless POS?”

“Nope!” he happily smiled. And he meant it.

Other infamous characters stamped the first BWR with a miscellany of misbehavior. One wanker held onto a truck for miles at a pop over the deathly dirt section of Country Club Road. Another cut the course. Another infamous cheater whose mendacious misdeeds were rewarded with the dreaded purple card not only cut the course but sneaked past Double Peak at the end of the ride, zoomed into the start-finish area, changed into his bicycling lounge suit, and displayed an “I got here first!” grin while those who had manfully done the ride struggled in beaten and exhausted wondering “How did that brokedown wanker beat me here?” — then he topped it off by disappearing with his finisher’s swag once people got suspicious and started asking to see the stamp that every honest rider received for passing the checkpoint atop Double Peak.

Your cheatin' heart!

Your cheatin’ heart!

The invention of the purple card, in fact, was an acknowledgment before the ride ever started that bicyclists are some of the scurviest, cheatingest, least reliable mendicants known to man. Before the first BWR ever rolled out, a series of Freddie Freeloader cards were printed and handed out to the ride’s “Secret Police,” who were ordered to patrol the peloton and punish the perpetrators for their purplish pecadilloes.

In the second edition, even though there were no purple cards awarded, numerous riders who claimed to have completed the entire course failed to upload their required Strava data to confirm that they did in fact finish the route. You would think that having GPS data would be sufficient to deter the cheats, but no — if forced to choose between cheating and not, cheating wins out every time.

Last year the noose tightened a bit, with timing chips making it impossible for veteran course-cutters to ply their trade, and wholly eliminating the ride pirates, but misdeeds abounded. The most egregious included vehicle assistance at critical points in the ride.

Short of sailing a cargo ship bound for the Horn of Africa to smoke out the pirates, there’s no way to run a cheat-free event. And that’s a good thing.

For 99.9% of participants, the ride is so hard that whatever advantage you might eke out from marginal gains cheating is nullified somewhere around Mile 80, if not far sooner. And while it’s patently untrue that cheaters never win, especially in cycling, no cheater has ever won the BWR. To the contrary: In the inaugural event the leaders went off course, which couldn’t be detected because there were no chips being used, and rather than hop back on course they retraced their route to the point where they left the course, got back on, and finished — even though it cost them the win as Dave Jaeger, who had made all the right turns, beat them to the line and claimed the yellow jersey.

Neil Shirley, two-time winner of the non-race, is regarded as one of the cleanest, most honorable guys in the sport. No matter how many places in line you try to jump, you still have to pass Neil. Good luck with that.

The BWR is beautiful because it showcases the best and also the worst. You get to ride with champions and chumps, heroes and whores.

And at the end, if you’ve done it right, you finish with a satisfaction unlike any other. So go ahead and cheat your little heart out. If you dare.



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§ 50 Responses to Catgate

  • DangerStu says:

    So what you are saying is there are two types of cyclists, those that cheat and those who lie about cheating?

    • fsethd says:

      And of course those who lie about cycling, i.e. EVERYONE ON STRAVA.

      • DangerStu says:

        Well most people assume Strava is Swedish, but it’s actually Esperanto for deceive will engaged in physical activities

        • fsethd says:

          I thought it was Finnish for “Give up!” until I learned that there is no concept of giving up in Finnish.

  • leif says:

    Dang, that’s wild west.

  • Brian in VA says:

    Wasn’t that Weird Al Yankovic’s version?

    Love the Purple Card! You know, you really make this ride sound almost fun. Or at least, less death-marchy.

  • Cheat Ur Ass off says:

    Rules were meant to be broken. Just ask an Attorney. Good for business. 😉

  • Winemaker says:

    Cheating is to cycling like fur is to New York socialites….you fell kinda bad doing it but then, aw hell, I look great and want to be seen (win)!

    In fact, cheating is so far developed (like, version 8.9) that cycling now has a whole generation of cheaters saying things like, “Even playing field” and “Everyone is doing it” or “I was an ass…I’m sorry, but I would do it again…Trek is happy.”

  • BigBug says:

    I am going to crush the BWR.

  • Crashgybe says:

    One of my mates threatened to purple card me last year, until I reminded him, that he would likely have to backtrack at least 50 miles to give it to me!

    • fsethd says:

      In Year One, one of the three Purplers was actually trying to get it. He liked the cool jersey and glasses …

  • It’s easy to eliminate most cheating. Eliminate support on the ride. No team cars. You’re on your own with mechanicals and need that team doctor? Well looks like you shouldn’t have been on that ride. 😦 Chips are a great way too. Also review GPS data with in a few hours. Eliminating water in water bottles should be pretty easy too. Man you guys are lucky I’m not running this sausage fest!

    • fsethd says:

      The best way to eliminate cheating is beheading. True fact.

      • I like the idea of beheadings, as long as there’s an Islamic State or Jordanian governing body. If we had a US governing body the offenders will just end up dying of old age.

        Another thing too is that with the right peeps in charge, the beheading could be bigger than the race!

  • A-Trav says:

    You shouldn’t defame your Southbay (or LA) brethren like that- we all know “LA Bandit Cheap-ass Fuckstick” (aka #65/Mystery Rider/BWR2012) is really from Culver City. BTW- he asked me to see if you could put in a good word for him with MMX. Maybe get his entry comped?

    • fsethd says:

      Hahahahaha! I’d be happy to put in a good word for him as long as “Fuckstick” is considered a good word. And Culver City is for sure South Bay. The South Bay, in a cycling sense, includes everything from the cadmium and heavy metal swamp of Long Beach to the botoxed edges of Marina del Rey, going inland for about 20 miles.

  • LesB says:

    To capitali$e on this trend organizers need to use the techy methods like strava n timing chips to mark cheaters. Then make 2 categories, cheaters and non-. And the nons would have their oun awards presentation and include an awards for innovation N debauchery. The competition for these honors would be fierce.

  • stefanovich says:

    Oh! I thought you meant my STRAVA category…shit!! I go to front 😦

  • Woody Foster says:

    I f@#kin’ hate cheaters, freeloaders, liars and crims. Ban them, behead them, push them off, run them over and leave them lying in the ditches. Then behead them again.
    There is no better pleasure than to race against a down low filthy cheat, beat them anyway, fair and square and then call them out on it. Publicly shame these pussies.
    Make an upload of GPS data a requirement of the race. No data, no beer.

  • 900aero says:

    As the old saying goes; you’re really only cheating yourself.
    If you cheat on a bicycle, where do you stop? Its a slippery slope that leads to toupee’s, platform heels and leasing BMW’s while living with your mum. Don’t do it to yourself.

    • fsethd says:

      What you have against my mum?

      • 900aero says:

        Well, admittedly, I would not know your mum from Heidi Klum and I certainly don’t wish any ill upon her.

        As a general concept – particularly for those bicycle-racers who being to experience or demonstrate “ethic-creep”; living with your mum as a grown and capable adult is generally a sign that you really should get a grip on this whole life thing….toupees are a giveaway too.

  • wolfsbane says:

    Wait this is a grand fondo? Why is anyone trying to cheat? Pride and honor people. Or are you trying to be funny? I can never tell.

    • fsethd says:

      It’s more like a grand fondue. People are trying to cheat because they ride bicycles. It’s what bicycle riders do. Also, I never try to be funny. It just sometimes comes out that way. Quite terrifying, actually. I’ll hit “send” thinking I’ve delivered a sober sermon on something important and people will email me saying “That’s the funniest most ridiculous shit I’ve ever read.” So, I cry a lot.

  • Winemaker says:

    That pussy Lemond lapped me at Nevada City once, and then went again (blew everyone away)…I got dropped about 3/4 of the way through the race…just fuggin’ EXPLODED….and the USCF zebras tried to pull me from the race….I told them I wasn’t cheating, just finishing….they kinda didn’t know what to say…and for once, I was speechless… just went to the car and blew chow. I shoulda cheated…there were so many alleys and sidewalks with which to chop the course, would’ve been easy.

  • Pleurisy says:


  • channel_zero says:

    I have the solution: make it a claims race.

    The rule would be, if found cheating, then you must sell your bike for $5 to the promoter.

    Give the joker his $5 and smash his bike to bits right there. Or, auction the bike and use the funds for craft water or whatnot.

    Caning should be considered. Look at how great it works in Singapore.

  • DangerStu says:

    I just had a thought, followed by a cold sweat, two loops = 2 x double peak…

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