Turning back the clock

January 5, 2016 § 27 Comments

One of the recurring themes here at CitSB is the crushing inevitability of age, decay, and death, with an especial emphasis on the fact that cycling doesn’t make you young and that if you feel better at 50 than you did at 25 you must have felt like a warmed over dunghill when you were 25.

Despite this grimly realistic view of the impersonal impact that physics have on our random existence, for some strange reason I am unable to accept the truth no matter how hard I preach it. Hence my decision to submit an upgrade application to USAC last year.

Now, then. The last time I was a Cat 2 was in 1986. For most of the rest of that century I lived in Japan and Germany, and the bike racing I did didn’t require a US license. When I finally returned to the US and tried to get my old Cat 2 license back, they said, “Sure. What was your old license number?”

“I dunno.”

“When did you last have it?”


“Oh … ”

“Oh, what?”

“When we changed to USAC from USCF we also changed computer systems and lost all our old records. But give us your name and we’ll look.”

Turns out I never existed, but after begging and pleading  with the SCNCA district rep they agreed to let me start off as a Cat 4 and skip the certain-death Cat 5 events for the almost-certain-death Cat 4 ones.

What amazed me was how hard the racing was, and how weak I had become. Once I upgraded to Cat 3 and could do masters racing, I was amazed even more. The “ex-everything” masters category here in SoCal, which includes ex-pros, ex-elite national champions, ex-world champions and Olympian medalists, is also rife with current age-graded national champs, world champs, and pharmaceutical champs.

After several years of careful point-hoarding I finally submitted my upgrade request last year, which was promptly denied. “Your results are a fuggin’ joke. ZERO points for your 2nd place finish at Tuttle Creek RR because it only had TWO FUGGIN’ ENTRANTS you sandbaggin’ sack of Geritol.”

“Fuck it,” I said, “who cares? It’s not like I’ll ever do a Cat 2 race. Even I have too much self-respect to get smeared by grandchildren.” In fact, word on the street here has always been that Cat 2 racing has all of the disadvantages of racing with Cat 1’s (living with your girlfriend or your parents or in a shopping cart) and none of the benefits of racing with Cat 3’s (beating up on weak and defenseless people who have real jobs except for Surfer Dan).

So I went on my merry way.

Imagine my surprise today when I got an email from my club’s race coordinator. “Dude!” he wrote. “I just downloaded all of our riders’ racing info from USAC and saw you’re a Cat 2! Congrats!”

Knowing that there must be some mistake I looked it up. Sure enough, there it was: “Road: 2.”

I tried to jump up and down to celebrate but my cracked pelvis which hasn’t healed hurt too badly to manage more than a slow-motion hop. Then I forgot what I was celebrating. Finally, Ms. WM came in to tell me to stop making such a racket.

“You onna jumpin’ itsa gonna make runny bowels again,” she said.

I sat back down and looked again at the computer screen. Would I actually enter a Cat 2 race now, with, like, you know, actual young people? Or would I do what every masters profamateur does, which is cat up strictly for bragging rights while continuing to do the leaky prostate events?

Easiest decision I’ve had to make all year.


1986 … it was a very good year.



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§ 27 Responses to Turning back the clock

  • Pablo Maida says:

    too early for this shit.


  • Glenn M says:

    dude, that happened to me too – the USAC thing from USCF thing where I hadn’t raced since 1988 and was a Cat 3. Now at 50, everyone is faster than me..boo hoo! congrats on your Cat 2. You can race the Master’s 45+ races 🙂

    • fsethd says:

      You mean the ones I’ve been racing all along? Sweet! Cat 1 bragging certificate, here I come.

  • dan says:

    fat kid second row third from the left?

  • Tom Paterson says:

    I looked up “sandbagger”. The synonyms (please excuse formatting, the coffee-roaster lookups wore me out): banditstarburglarstarcon artiststarcrookstarlooterstarmarauderstarmuggerstarpickpocketstarpiratestarraiderstarrustlerstarshoplifterstarswindlerstarthiefstarthugstarbrigandstarbuccaneerstarcardsharperstarcheatstarchiselerstarcorsairstardesperadostardespoilerstarfencestarforagerstarfraudstarhijackerstarhousebreakerstaroperatorstarpilfererstarpillagerstarplundererstarprowlerstarpunkstarsafecrackerstarstealerstarstickupstarcat burglarstarcattle thiefstargrafterstarholdup artiststarsecond-story operator

    Yeah yeah, but I wanted the *antonym”. Scarce pickin’s:

    law, police.

    Hmmm, I don’t see all that much “enforcing” in the future, sad to say.

    OK, OK, maybe it’s “sand bagger”, two words? Nope, the definition is “a machine used for filling bags with sand” and there apparently isn’t a machine that empties them, at least by common name.

    Looks like a lonely road ahead, I’m afraid.
    –TP, 1982 Cat III Forever (or until I re-up at least, when I’m gonna forget both my old rider numbers, and pretend I just never happened.)

  • Waldo says:


  • Paul Thober says:

    Upgrading was one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments for me. Becoming cat 2 was my goal and I did that in my first season of racing in 1978. It was badda bing, badda bang, badda BOOM! – all of a sudden I was “racing” against Bob Cook, Ron Kiefel, Davis Phinney, etc. I had risen to the level of my incompetence. Bike racing was no longer fun. That was my first thorough lesson in humility.

    • fsethd says:

      Bike racing has always been fun. It’s nothing but endless losing punctuated by rare moments of light.

  • Michelle landes says:

    Congtat’s! Love your hair did you have a perm lol😂

  • dan martin says:

    Howcome everyone in the back is standing around picking their nose, except wide eyed happy Wanky?

  • dangerstu says:


  • deanabt says:

    Harmony in the universe, congrats. I noted at crit nats this year in our “MYSO” category, (mushy & yet still older, 55-59), one dude with no fewer that two national crit titles (!) retains his cat 3 status – rebel.

  • 900aero says:

    Well done mate. Road racing category “ups” sound only mildly less difficult than a job application to the Jedi Council – and certainly no less arcane.

    Enjoy the racing!

  • dG says:

    Your success, though amusingly self-parodied, deserves serious credit. But ridding your system of old-grandpa-cough-medicine sure took the brakes off, didn’t it? Congrats, buddy.

    • fsethd says:

      It helped me see the gnashing teeth and closing jaws of death, which frightened me enough to pedal just a tad harder.


  • YUP!!! #GameTime!!

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