February 25, 2017 § 18 Comments
We pulled up at the world infamous Rosena Ranch race course, where teammate Dave Ellis had just finished racing. “How’d it go?” I asked.
“Great,” he said. “I was in a good position the whole race, stayed out of the wind, and didn’t kill that guy.”
“The guy who fell down in front of me.”
“Dude had a bicycle falling off incident and put his head in front of my front wheel going 35. I had to bunnyhop it.
“What happened after that?”
“I’m not sure. I think the other riders all ran him over.”
“Oh yeah, I think I saw the emergency medical services U-Haul rental pickup.”
“The one with the hay bales in back and the loose bottle of cheap tequila bouncing around in the bed?”
“That one,” I said.
Major Bob, Surfer Dan, Baby Seal, Congressional Quarterly, the Hun and I had driven up in Major’s unmarked Mercedes van. We were champing at the bit to race our bicycles and hopefully not fall off of them.
My race, the combined 45+/50+ leaky prostate division (raced together, scored separately), went off at a torrid pace, so torrid in fact that after my first fruitless flail I fell back into the pack, caught my breath, and then moved back up by conveniently hopping over the bright yellow line.
I think that even may have been the yellow line we were advised about by the moto ref prior to the start. “Gentlemen [lie], do not cross the yellow line or you will be immediately dq’ed. No exceptions. This means YOU.”
No sooner had I moved over the yellow line and advanced fifty places than the moto ref came up next to me and screamed, pointed, and sent me to the back without any supper. Was I dq’ed? Who knew? What I knew was that Klasna, Kirk Bausch, and the Hun were dashing up the road in the first serious move of the day, and it was time to chase after them.
Soon enough we had a break of nine, including Major Bob, which was fortunate because it meant that he now had a reason not to drive home without us. We lost a rider, and after much pedaling Klasna and KB pedaled harder than we did and pedaled away up a hill and around a corner and they were not seen again until many laps later, a/k/a after the race finished.
However, unlike other sports where the first person across the line is the winner and everyone who is not the first person across the line is a loser, leaky prostate bicycle racing has a number of clever conventions to make sure that many people can be winners even if they technically are losers. The most perfect of the conventions is the “raced together, scored separately” convention.
This means (and you will need a notebook here) that if you have a 45+ and a 50+ race together, some people will register as 45+ and others as 50+, and the first person in each of those categories is the winner, in other words, you could have a situation where you had, for example, a breakaway of eight people, and seven of them were 45+, and they all finished ahead of the 50+ entrant, but since the 50+ entrant was the first 50+ entrant he would be declared the winner of his race and get fame, acclaim, worship, and the $45 winner’s check while the 45+ riders who finished in places 2-7 would all be losers even though they finished ahead of the 50+ winner.
If this seems simple, there is something wrong with you (number one), and you should get a job as a bike race official (number two) because a scrum of people rushing past is hard enough to score in the proper finishing order, much less the proper age category. This is actually great because it allows for the second great thing about leaky prostate bicycle racing, which is known as the “results protest.” Experienced masters racers always bring extra wheels, gasoline, and a pitchfork. More about that later after you wake up.
Anyway, there I was in a chase group of six while Klasna, who is over the age of 50, and KB, who is older than 45 but less than 50, were up the road. So it seemed like the best I could hope for was 2nd place in the 50+ category, since everyone else in the chase group was in the 45+ category.
However, another great thing about leaky prostate bicycle racing, in addition to its multiple opportunities to declare yourself the victor, is the odd fact that you will occasionally have a rider who is over 50 and racing in a combined 45+/50+ field, but who has registered as a “45+” rider. So just because a rider is over fifty and riding in the 45+/50+ race, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has registered for the 50+ category, since by definition anyone who is over 50 is also over 45 and can therefore choose either category.
So why would an older rider choose a younger category? Can you say “vanity”? The answer is simple: To the leaky prostate racer himself, there appears to be a huge difference in age between 45 and 50, and even though the rest of the world simply sees a bunch of wrinkly old balls going slowly around in circles, the wrinkly old balls would rather be 45+ than 50+ because it seems younger and not quite as wrinkly and potentially in need of fewer illegal testosterone supplements.
Therefore, the only way to tell whether a particular racer is 45+ wrinkly balls or 50+ wrinkly balls is by looking at his race number, since the clever race officials give a different number series to the 45+ to distinguish them from the 50+. In our race the 45+ number series began with prime numbers divisible by seven, and increased in half-integers up to the square root of pi. The 50+ numbers all began with the number 8 billion. So it was pretty easy to tell the difference if you were paying attention and had an advanced degree in math.
Unhappily, when Klasna and KB rolled I neglected to look at Klasna’s number, but rightly assumed that he was an aged 50+ wrinkly balls like me and therefore he would win and I would get second, since all the remaining numbers in the chase were prime numbers divisible by seven. We continued to race, which is another way of saying that everyone screamed at everyone else to “work together,” invoking the spirit of Jack from Illinois (not his real name) as no one worked, and certainly not together.
I finished the race and went over to Klasna to congratulate him on his win, only to notice that his number was a prime number divisible by seven, which meant that I, who had finished last in the chase group, was the only rider who had a number that began with 8 billion, making me the winner of the 50+ race. It was a glorious if complicated victory indeed and I savored the thought of how I would spend my $45, minus the $35 entry fee, minus the $15 fee for the second race, minus the $15,000 in gear.
So I sauntered over to the stinky toilets, which was appropriately where they posted the race results, and saw that I was nowhere on the result sheet, and that Dandy Andy, who had finished in the second chase group, had been declared the glorious winner and was entitled to the $45 emoluments appertaining to race victor.
Now the real race began, otherwise known as the “results protest.” I and fifteen other disappointed riders went over to the officials’ station to complain about having been left off, misplaced, or given 56th place instead of 57 1/2. Many tantrums were thrown, grown men challenged one another to duels, statements were made about various people’s mothers, and the obligatory money changed hands in order to make sure that the integrity of the process was properly respected.
In other words, I was crowned 8th place finisher champion winner, given the $45, and went proudly back to Major Bob’s van only to see that in his race Surfer had experienced a bicycle falling off incident so severe that it left his 100% carbon bicycle, made of pure carbon, broken into fifteen pieces, seven of which were the fork alone.
Much sadness and gnashing of teeth were had, particularly since all agreed that the shards and remnants qualified as “Even Fireman Can’t Tape That Back Together And Resell It On Craigslist As Like New.”
Eventually someone asked Surfer Dan how he was, and of course he was fine since he only landed on his head at about 40 mph. Baby Seal’s race had been uneventful, and Congressional Quarterly had decided after eight laps that he should probably return to the van and check to make sure his coffee thermos was still there, which thankfully it was.
Happy and brimming with confidence at my eighth place championship victory I started the 35+ race and immediately made my mark by quitting some few hundred yards after the starting line. It was just as well, since Karl Bordine was feeling particularly ill-tempered and rode by himself for 15 laps until he won and everyone else did not.
I returned to the stinky toilets and took the obligatory podium photo with Dandy Andy, who is also a strict adherent of “Don’t Raise Your Arms On The Podium Unless You’re Holding A Bouquet And Are Surrounded By 100,000 Screaming Fans On The Champs-Elysees After Winning The Tour.”
We piled back into Major Bob’s van, promised to send him gas money through PayPal, never did, and got home tired and hungry and happy, except for Surfer Dan, who had agreed to list the bike’s condition as “Fair” after he got it back from Fireman.
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King of Rosena
Master of all I survey.
“… I started the 35+ race…”.
This is the fundamental problem with “aging”, in the world of bicycle racing at least: You can enter more and more races, but you get slower and slower, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
Every year, at least a step slower, until “recumbent”.
Used to be, Wolfgang Freitag or one of them other gnarly Vets would take prizes from the IV’s and Juniors (and women). That was before the Internet, of course.
The Gods and Goddesses of Cycling sometimes mock us, even as we nobly contest for glory on fields of honor.
Thus, “Wear your flat shoes to the podium, don’t give them a cheap shot”.
The best way to change the aging process is to die and I’m working on that, but unfortunately it is the only aspect of aging that I appear to do more quickly the older I get.
Indeed, the acceleration is pretty incredible. The expression “downhill in a hand basket” comes to mind. Double-pull brakes, anyone?
I appreciate you taking the time to make entertaining, that what would have be expressed by a younger man “I won, I won”. Congratulations on both.
Many tantrums were thrown, grown men challenged one another to duels, statements were made about various people’s mothers, and the obligatory money changed hands in order to make sure that the integrity of the process was properly respected.
Yet astutely hilariuos.
BTW Did not know you minored in Fuzzy Math. Congrats.
One of my many subspecialties.
Do I understand this as you are riding less, and winning more?
I am riding less, and making up more fiction.
Wow. Exhausting read. Congrats on the “win” Wankie, and moreover, in the great the scheme of things – the DNC. Never been much into crit racing, and sure as hell won’t be from here on out as I sit here 8 weeks removed from shattered collarbone surgery w/o a pedal turned other than on the trainer. I leave you with a some wisdom from a man who understood speed, rules, and risk…
“Rules are made for people who aren’t willing to make up their own.”
“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.”
Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
And of course when you quit not giving up, you give up.
Where is the third place guy (gal)? Did you win a race with only two entered? Maybe you’re taking the picture of 2nd and third…. Don’t matter: a win is a win….
I have both won my age group and finished last in the same race (one entry…me).
Well done and congrats!
Third was ashamed to be seen in my company.
They run age group world championships the same way. My friend is a worlds bronze medalist in women’s 70+. Her age group raced with 60+ and 65+. The 70+ winner was a former East German Olympian, who finished over half-hour before the humans in her age group.
But I digressed. Congratulations with a yuuuge victory. I assume it will lead to another race season-ending retirement.
Bigly so. And that East German? Sad.