Buried somewhere in Steve’s thousands of Internet pages of wisdom, I came across this gem. It’s a list of ten rules for bike racing. I call them the Ten Commandments.
What’s so amazing about these rules is that they completely sum up what you are supposed to do during a race. If you could master even half of them you’d never need a coach, a power meter, a heart rate monitor … nothing. And because they’re so succinct they’re easy to remember.
As I read through these rules I realized why I’m such a shitty bike racer. I don’t follow any of them. In fact, the more I thought about it, I pretty much am the Antichrist of bike racing. I break all the commandments every time I race. Wow. No wonder I suck.
So I decided to annotate the rules with examples from my racing past.
FIRST COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt never be in the front pulling for no reason.
This is my bete noir, the Pointless Pull. Go the front, hammer, feel like a champion, revel in the pain being inflicted, suddenly feel a wee tired, drift to the back, there goes the winning move never to be seen again.
SECOND COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt always know which direction that the wind is coming from.
Wind? What’s that? Derek the Destroyer flies big jets and used to surf a lot. He knows where the wind is before he even gets on his bike. My Cousin Vinnie wouldn’t know the wind if it had a business card–that’s how well he hides from it. But me? Unsure about where it’s blowing from or how to avoid it, and therefore always smack out in it.
THIRD COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt always know the course, at least in thy mind, before the start and picture where the strategic points, hills and wind direction will occur.
“Before the start” means “chat with others about the condition of the port-a-potties.” Then be astounded when the race starts on a 30% climb. Astounded, followed by dropped.
FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt constantly ask thyself if thou art in the right position. If thou are not, thou shalt get there.
I have BPHR, Bad Positioning Homing Radar. Always stuck behind “that guy.” What am I saying? I am “that guy.”
FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt know when to do a single pace line and when to ride double echelon.
SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not be shouting at other riders telling them what to do. It just pisses them off and makes them want thee not to do well.
Okay, finally one that I often get right. Because it’s hard to shout and get dropped simultaneously.
SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt never look back for what’s going on behind thee. If thou really needest to know, thou shalt drift back through the field subtly.
A few weeks ago I went to the neck doctor. “Doc, I got a crick in my neck.” “You have Rider’s Crick,” he said. “What’s that?” I said. “It’s a joint problem caused by spending hours looking through your armpit backwards.”
EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not try to show off in races. Races are judged by who crosses the line first.
All I can say about this is, wow. Talk about taking all the fun out of bike racing.
NINTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt observe and rate the guys thou art racing against. Watch how they pedal, climb, corner, etc.
This is easy to do but not so useful for me because almost every race starts with the realization that I’ve never beaten anyone to the left of me, never beaten anyone to the right of me, and never beaten anyone behind or in front of me. And the way they pedal is “faster.”
TENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt know where the finish line is and where thou plannest to sprint from.
Anyway, these commandments are so good and succinct you could almost trim them down and paste them on your top tube. And since it’s January 1st somewhere, now is a great time to make a new year’s resolution.
Which I’m going to do now.
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