A series of unfortunate climbs

February 9, 2017 § 14 Comments

A long time ago when I had little kids there was a book called “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I’d occasionally flip through it but I only remember the author’s name, Lemony Snicket, and the premise, which was a couple of hapless kids having terrible things happen to them.

I don’t remember if there was an evil person pursuing them but they were mostly homeless, always running from something, and invariably in trouble.

So last night I was running over the pre-registration list for the ultra-leaky-prostate-category in Saturday’s UCLA Road Race, and I came across a bunch of new names, which is weird, because by the time you’re this old and slow you pretty much know who’s going to show up where and who isn’t.

Then it hit me. These guys normally race Boulevard as their super hilly road race and skip UCLA, but Bouelvard’s been taken out behind the outhouse and shot, so they’ve decided to make UCLA their season opener.

That is brave. Misguided but brave. You see, UCLA has nothing in common with Boulevard. Whereas in Boulevard you get to pedal for two laps entertaining visions of glory or maybe even sticking your thumb in the peloton’s eye once or twice before you suddenly notice that your legs fell off at the railroad tracks, UCLA isn’t like that.

UCLA is a series of very unfortunate climbs, beginning about .25 miles into the race. In other words, now is a real good time to cancel your registration and try to get a refund because if you are an old leaky prostate and you haven’t done this race before but are thinking it might be a good season opener, you are making a mistake along the lines of “Maybe I can clip my toenails with this here wood chipper.”

Of course your idea of a great time may be getting dropped immediately, in which case this is the perfect course for you, and you will have lots of company. Or your idea of a great time may be getting dropped two miles in, in which case you’ll have even more company. But if you’re thinking of using this as a way to eke out a top-10 placing and see where your fitness is, let me help you out:

  1. You’ll only get top-10 if numbers 11 on down quit.
  2. Your fitness is for shit.

In addition to a course where the only thing harder than the impossible starter climb is the downhill, UCLA also has a series of unfortunate weather events. Have you been riding on the trainer during all this rain lately? Have you failed to toughen up adequately for racing in the 40’s? Of course you have, and UCLA is going to offer up a series of terrible weather events to punish you for your laziness. At 5,000 feet elevation it will be cold. It won’t rain but it may sleet or snow. And if it doesn’t do any of that, it will force you to choose between too many clothes at the start, only to melt and collapse because it heats up unbearably later, or start with too few clothes so that you tip over and freeze to death on the first lap.

There are a lot of free-range dogs on course so at least your carcass will be recycled.

Anyway, I’m mostly kidding about all this. It’s a great, fun race. You’re gonna kill it. See you there.



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