How hard WAS it?

February 19, 2016 § 11 Comments

I was talking with Major Bob about road racing the other day. “It’s funny,” I said. “The races that we profamateurs admire the most are the really hard races. Flanders. Roubaix. The Tour. But when it comes to actually doing hard races, people flock to crits and avoid the monsters like UCLA, Boulevard, Tuttle Creek, and anything that says ‘NorCal’ … why?”

“Because people,” said Major without missing a beat “don’t like to work.”

“Really? Like Congress?”

“Look at the peloton. Same old faces taking the hard hits, making things happen, riding the breaks, while everyone else kind of hangs around towards the back hoping they get lucky.”

That reminded me of a day-long argument I had with G3, followed by several terabytes of email discussion in which we fought tooth and kneecap over whether the leaky prostate 45+ category at UCLA was harder than the Cat 3 race.

“Dude,” I said. “The fuggin’ old farts’ race had a faster overall time, ergo harder. Plus, THOG.”

“Nope,” he said, after analyzing various sections of the course for different racers who’d won their category. “The Cat 3’s climbed faster on two of the laps. Old farts were faster overall, but Cat 3’s suffered more, ergo harder.”

“How can you say they suffered more? They are all young and stupid and recover in 30 seconds and can enjoy conjugal relations the night after the race. That’s not suffering. Suffering is being a worn out shoe, getting stuffed in the box, staying there for 2.5 hours, then drinking Alleve six times a day for the next week until you can get out of bed without groaning.”

The argument was put to rest by Leibert, the guy who actually won the race, and his logic was impeccable. “Would you two please shut up?”

It is kind of odd when you think about it. Road races, especially hilly ones, may be harder to finish in terms of watts and carbon and weight weenies and 100% carbon wheels and Chris T. doing a 50-mile race on half a water bottle to save a few grams.

But crits are more difficult to win because they require actual bicycling skills like cornering, positioning, maneuvering in tight places, timing, fakery, coordination with teammates except for Prez, preening, fist-pumping, and cauterized nerves in the finale. So you could argue that as a complete package, crit racing is actually harder.

Then I got a great idea. Why not call up Filds? It was 2:00 AM, which meant it was only 4:00 AM in Milwaukee. With any luck he’d still be on the third bottle of Cutty.

“Hey, man, it’s me, Seth.”

“What do you want?”

“Is it harder to win road races or crits?” Filds had won them all.

“You called me at four in the morning to ask me that?”

“It’s for the blog, dude.”

He chewed his cud for a second. “Listen up.”

I listened.

“There’s no such thing as an easy win.”



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§ 11 Responses to How hard WAS it?

  • dankroboth says:

    If it was easy, it wouldn’t be #winning

  • Glenn M says:

    WTF? What’s wrong with NorCal races? too hard? haha Races in bumf*ck Snelling and the Bariani Road Race are easy for us Cat 6 profamateurs!

  • Jeff Cozad says:

    Ah…. The wisdom of Sluggo

  • Winemaker says:

    I have watched enuf of the 45+ Masters scene in Socal over the last ten years to understand it. Y’all go harder than any group, probably even faster than de pros sumtimes. It is a sick and twisted thang. There are three, maybe four, really good cyclists in the 45+ field. THOG, JK, Klasna, and G$. Those dudz should be whipping up on the 1/2’s and schooling some o dat yung sheet. Well, except for thingz like work, family, and ….

    All that said, it is clear to me that there are probably 5 or 6 that animate the races, same with the 35+, same with the class of 1/2 Pros. It is also clear to me that there are others who animate all of those races but are doped. They don’t count.

    It escapes me why there is a 35+ class anyway….and I have really thought about it (at least for ten seconds). That stuff is fine for Natz, but in local stuff…40+ should be one class, and younger than that should go with the Senior 1/2/Pro. And if you are older, just start with the 40+ and form your own grupetto…nothing wrong with that…..

    Is it time for Syrah or Red Wine primes for the older fellows?

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