Blame the customer

February 2, 2016 § 28 Comments

I went to a road race on Saturday with a barely-mended cracked pelvis. It was pouring when we arrived, and raining when the race started. The field had 70 riders, the roads were slick with mud, the race started with two fast downhills, and the back side of the course was on badly paved road that sported lots of potholes.

And, I was scared.

Let me repeat that: I was scared.

And lest anyone misunderstand, I am scared pretty much every time I race my bike. Why? Because bike racing is scary.

It is fun and exhilarating and challenging, but especially it is scary.

Some people aren’t scared by bike racing. They are easily categorized:

  1. Monumental idiots.
  2. Young people (often same as #1).
  3. People with no dependents and seasonal employment (often same as #1 and #2).

Everyone else finds the act of getting on a bike and scrumming, bar-to-bar, with highly excitable people possessing questionable skills at high speeds, frightening. In fact, most people find it so frightening that they never race. Others only toe the lie after great internal struggles and psychological battles of the worst sort. No one races, year in and year out, without repeatedly questioning whether it’s worth the risk, and upon concluding “No way,” shrugging and racing anyway.

I say all of this because after Saturday’s fright fest there was a crit on Sunday. The weather forecast was a 100% chance of rain. The TV weather maps showed an angry red colossus sweeping everything in its path. If you raced on Sunday you were going to get wet.

This caused a lot of people to stay home because they were afraid. Why were they afraid? Because when you race 100% of the time in sunny Southern California on dry roads, going really fast on wet ones that are often coated with oil takes the normal amount of anxiety and ramps it up to “unbearable” on the Scare-dee-Meter. In other words, it’s not fun.

There’s another reason people stayed home. Bicycles nowadays are rather expensive. One fall that busts your wheels is an easy $2k. Frame, $3-4k. Helmet, $250. Most racers don’t like to trash their equipment, and even if you don’t crash it, filthy wet races leave you with a nasty, dreckish bike that takes time and effort to clean. What a fun way to spend Sunday evening after sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 101 …

So I was a bit surprised to read a nasty takedown on Facegag today by a guy in the 65+ category (really), sneering at all the masters pansies and weaklings who got scared off by a little rain. Several other idiots chimed in, lamenting how weak and cowardly the profamateur SoCal masters racers are. And then of course there was the criticism about “not supporting the promoter,” because everyone who chose to stay home was somehow an enemy of amateur bike racing.

Of course this particular critic was also saying “Look at me and how tough I am.” And I kind of disagree. If you’re 65 years old and still trying to prove that you’re tough, you’re about as weak and insecure as they come. The schoolyard taunt of “chicken” loses its jab for most people by about age 15. Any time some wrinkled “master” in his underwear is calling a bunch of other wrinkled masters in their underwear “cowards,” well, we have the subject of a funny SNL skit.

The fact is that the older you get the more carefully you weigh risk and count nickels. For a lot of people, especially those who slogged through Saturday’s shit fest, a Sunday spent pretending that we’re all 20-something Belgian pros just didn’t match up against the risk of spending a Sunday afternoon in the ER getting a new roll of Tegaderm and neck x-rays from three angles.

You may not like it, but masters racers are customers. If you think that calling them names and abusing them and treating them like shit will make them want to show up and race the next go ’round when the weather is nicer, you may be in for a surprise.



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§ 28 Responses to Blame the customer

  • Bart says:

    Hence the reason I entered battle at the Iowa Caucuses. Besides, I like my skin attached and my bones whole.

  • Edwin says:

    You masterfully avoid stating whether you rode on Sunday regardless of being scared or whether you stayed home.

  • Sausage™ says:

    There is also the pesky matter of families, jobs and other commitments outside cycling. Many
    soft SoCal Amateur Hobbyist Recreational Racers have a hard enough time selling an entire Saturday (and for many, Friday night) away from the wife, family, girlfriend, domestic partner, dog or cat after a long work week where they barely saw each other, much less an entire weekend away racing bicycles in Lycra costumes.

    • fsethd says:

      Give it a couple of decades. She’ll be thrilled to be rid of you. Oh wait, no, she won’t.

    • channel_zero says:

      Pfft! You are SOFT!! A Masters profamateur is a monk!

      Eat. Cycle. Weigh yourself. Eat. Weigh yourself. Sleep.

      That’s the definition of tough. (and an eating disorder) Family? Pets? Money in the bank? Relationships? Weakness.

  • sorta_TX_racer says:

    Mandelbaum…Mandelbaum…Mandelbaum…IT’S GO TIME.

  • Worldchamp says:

    I don’t race in the rain because I don’t train in the rain. I WOULD train in the rain if it rained enough, but it doesn’t. So there’s no way to be “good” at it here. That makes a race in the rain a crap shoot for almost everyone. I take calculated risks and my calculations say “stay home when it’s raining.” Although, I’ve heard women races often end up a bunch of people TT’ing by themselves. Which sounds safer, but not very fun.

    • fsethd says:

      Yup. Rain riding is a whole ‘nother skill set. Racing in the rain is a whole ‘nother mental illness. And a best selling novel.

  • Helicomatic says:

    Pretty sure that guy was Winning my yoga class this morning. He was totally stuffing the breathing thing. I was pack fodder.

  • conneeps says:

    Love this post…it’s spot on and I knew exactly what this was going to be about when I saw the headine.
    I’m one of those guys who raced in the rain and mud on Saturday’s RR but bailed on Sunday’s crit. As an east coast native, I am no stranger to racing in the rain, mud and on incredibly shitty, shitty (emphasis on shitty) pavement. However, since I am not 45, masters was not an option and Cat 3 was where I intended to race. After seeing the bike handling (or lack of it) in the Cat 3 CBR race the prior week in pristine, dry, warm conditions, lining up for more on the same on wet tarmac wasn’t super exciting. In the end, my (and several others that I know of) decision to bail was more based on 101N being flooded, covered in mud and reduced to one lane in the morning for some time (video below). Of course, I could just be a big pussy and need to ‘man up’.

    • fsethd says:

      The whole thing about toughness and manliness is so tiresome. Perhaps it comes from watching too many Eddy videos, or getting beaten up as a kid, or not having been breastfed.

      Can you imagine any other business shaming its customers because they aren’t tough enough? It says everything about the d-bag who started this, Doug Knox, who must think he’s the toughest guy alive.

      So is he doing Rock Cobbler next week? Is he doing the 144-mile Belgian Waffle Ride? Was he at 6/5 Hours of Temecula? Does he eat nails and broken glass for breakfast? Does he have a really small penis that his wife makes fun of?

      The biggest irony is that the original promoter cancelled because of the terrible weather prospects. Hecker picked it up knowing that weather was bad enough, potentially, to cause a long-time promoter to give up. And now people are surprised that there was bad weather, and the bad weather affected turnout? And that somehow we’re to blame? What a sad commentary on customer-hating. Of course no one got a pat on the back or had their asses wiped for surviving Saturday, but hey, just because you are tough one day I suppose you are a cupcake the next.

      I for one thank you for racing anywhere. That’s what matters, because apparently we can’t all be made of fine Belgian steel like Douchebag Doug.

      • Doug KNOX says:

        If you actually read my FB post, it contrasts the attendance (or lack thereof) of the so-called Masters “Elite” super teams with the turnout of Junior boys and girls (some pre-teens) in the rain at the criterium Sunday. At no point do I mention that I raced (which I did, in the 45+), nor do I criticize any other riders and/or teams (other than the “Masters super teams”, which I did not name) for deciding not to race. I’m sorry that you feel that you must resort to name-calling.

        • fsethd says:

          Why don’t you post it here so people can see it? It was the most offensive, insulting, chest-beating pile of shit I’ve seen in a long time. You dumped on everyone indiscriminately. Who are these super teams you were referring to? Surf? MMR? Clowns like you love to insult people generically and then deny having had a specific target.

          Anyway, great job pissing everyone off and making them not want to support anything you’re involved in.

      • Doug KNOX says:

        You are amusing! For anyone that would like to read my original post, you can find it at the Southern California Nevada Cycling Association Facebook page, “Visitor Posts”. You’ll see that the post has been misrepresented on this blog. You are amusing, fsethd, I’ll give you that!

  • dangerstu says:

    Always a top tactic if you want someone to vote with there feet, or in this case wheels.

    The whole riding in the rain = hardman b.s. Always makes me laugh, and reminds me of the old Yorkshireman sketch.

  • Spinner says:

    HUMMMMM…I have just learned a new tactic: insult the shit out of fellow riders when they don’t race. Then when the “insulted” come to the next race they will kill themselves trying to beat me. I will, very simply, follow their wheels and out sprint them. Think this will work???? I must be a genius!

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