Why you’ll probably never, ever win a bike race

It’s not because you don’t put out enough power, or don’t have a good enough bike, or don’t have the right coach, or aren’t on the right drugs.

It’s not because you have a job, because this is just a hobby, because you take your family obligations seriously, or because you can’t leave work early or start work late.

It’s not because your legs are too short, your tummy’s too round, your neck’s too stiff, or your body is better at “endurance” than “short” events.

It’s not because you drank too much beer the night before, or you had to service someone, or they served you gluten pancakes by mistake, or the ectrolytes in your bottle were frazzy raspberry instead of chunky chocolate.

It’s not because you’re mostly a climber, or mostly a rouleur, or mostly a time-trailer, or mostly a lead-out rider, or mostly a sprunter but only from 100-yards with a lead-out train.

It’s not because your FTP is low, your HR is high, your VO2 is average, or your prostate is prolapsed.

It’s none of those things.

It’s because you aren’t Aaron Fucking Wimberley. And guess what? You never will be.

Aaron is of course a metaphor, but he’s a metaphor writ large. He’s been off the bike since last summer, logs a hundred miles a week if that, works 50 hours a week, has an actual personal life, and when stuff gets busy, as it has for the last year, his bike sits in the corner and gathers dust.

But on race day, which yesterday was, when Aaron came out to the Telo crit, the famed crit that now offers a champion’s custom jersey and SEVEN WHOLE DAYS of undisputed bragging rights, when he showed up along with Jules Gilliam, Rudy Napolitano, David Wells, Josh Alverson, Jon Davy, Francis Hardiman (omit the “i” and you’ll know all you never need to know about that dude), Alex Barnes, James Doyle, Chainbreak, Casey Macguire, and an entire throng of pack fodder, with every single rider planning on getting that jersey, and Rudy launching artillery rounds every lap and Josh countering with bunker busters and Jules slashing everyone with a machete and the group gradually reducing to its barest essence like a fine French consomme, and the pace so torrid most of the time all you could do was grit your fuggin’ teeth and curse blood, and Aaron, the guy with the least miles and the least fitness, hiding, thinking, suffering, thinking, following, thinking, waiting, and thinking until all the body blows had been landed and all the howitzer shells had been spent and the machete blades had broken off and the last lap was tear-your-cheeks-off-fast and people crumpled and folded like bad origami and with a thousand long yards to go whenJules sprang free, he had it he had it he had it he had it until he didn’t, which was about the time that Aaron gave it one perfectly planned and immaculately thought out hard kick, the only kick he’d given all day because it was the only kick he had, and he’d been saving it like North Korea with its one functioning nuke, and the timing was perfect and the power was perfect and the line was perfect and the acceleration was perfect and all everyone else could do was slump and sigh and groan as their jersey dreams went up in a puff of smoke and bad bong water.

Because winning bike races takes legs, but what it really takes is brains.

END

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16 thoughts on “Why you’ll probably never, ever win a bike race”

  1. “…or mostly a time-trailer, …”

    Time-trailer describes my competitiveness exactly. Never quite had a name for it. Thanks.

  2. LONG LIVE HAIR!!! As good a bike racer as he is, an even nicer human being is he. (And quite a snappy dresser!) I love it when you highlight one of us in the peloton. Thank you for writing.

  3. One guy among scores has brains…?

    Just want to make sure I understand: If you have brains you win bike races and if you don’t have brains, you write about how to win bike races?

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