Racer development

Team Lizard Collectors was established to promote sanctioned amateur bike racing. Since 2009, the club continues to churn out new racers, many of whom continue with the sport, making it an integral part of their lives. I’m not saying that’s a good thing …

At the same time, the racing topography gets tougher and tougher as fewer racers attend fewer events. If you belong to the generation of racers who remembers when Cat 4 events were full, thousands of people spectated at local events, and “master” meant a character in the Karate Kid, and if you haven’t completely given up on the idea that bike racing really is a net positive, here is one thing that might help your club: Excitement.

Not an oxymoron

I know it sounds absurd to suggest that anything related to bike racing is exciting, but that’s your cynic gene talking. Remember back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you did your first bike race? Remember the clenched gut? The puckered rectum? The three toilet trips before leaving the house and the four more visits to the port-o-potty once on site?

Remember your legs quivering on the line? Remember your life flashing before your eyes as the ref read the instructions?

Remember the thundering rush of adrenaline when the whistle blew, and your ears roared with the heaving, clacking, whirring sound of riders launching off the line?

Of course you don’t, you can barely remember how to tie your shoes, that’s why you wear sandals. But all those things once happened, I promise, and they were exciting as hell.

Bike racing can be boring to watch when put in the hands of the appropriately brain-dead announcers (“Here they come again …”), but for the beginning participant it is like the birth of a galaxy, and you’re the center of it.

Enter the lizard

Here at Team Lizard Collectors we are fortunate to have numerous members who like to race their bikes. But among this collection of nutjobs, one group stands out: The tent elves. These are the people who do the hard work making our team tent magically rise every race, sprouting all kinds of things necessary for the care and maintenance of #profamateur bodies and #supertender egos.

Among our elves, none stands out more than Chief Elf.

Chief Elf is actually not very elfin, towering over everyone at 6’3 or so and riding a bicycle big enough to make waves in a circus, but he is very elf-like in that he goes about the business of getting TLC ready on race day in a quiet, unassuming way. He shows up before the sun rises, quietly puts on his loudest assortment of AC-DC noise, puts up the Team Lizard Collectors tent, plants the TLC sponsor flags, hangs the TLC sponsor banners, sets up the TLC lizard recliner chairs, stocks the table with food and drink, sets up the rollers and the trainers, gets the number spray ready, and makes sure that when the first bleary-eyed racer staggers to the venue that he/she is greeted with comfort, camaraderie, and excitement.

Because Chief Elf really is excited about the race, and about your race, not mention about his. Chief Elf is of course buried six feet deep in #profamateur racing delusions, so he fits right in with the rest of us. He’s ready to talk about stragety, about the course, about lessons learned, and about what you might need to make sure your loins are sufficiently girded before battle.

Some say he is gentle and soothing like sandpaper, others that he is deft and unnoticed like shaving your privates with the shard from a broken bottle, but all agree that it is his enthusiasm and commitment to the cause that make the big tent of TLC a truly Big Tent, where everyone’s welcome regardless of speed or of creed.


If your race-day club set-up involves a pair of brokedick, sad sack schmoes standing around the car trying to borrow a couple of safety pins, that might be a message about the excitement of racing you really don’t want to convey. The message you’re looking for is wild-eyed, enthusiastic, completely delusional BIKERACER NUTJOB.

You may be fifty, but if you race hard enough and train hard enough you are gonna make the Tour next year or at least get your Cat 4 upgrade, and even if you don’t, you will have a ton of fun trying.

Fun and excitement. They work.



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