This morning we went down to the Donut start and had a cup of coffee. Joann met us there with son Colin and his girlfriend Julia. Colin is smarter than everyone else in the coffee shop put together, which is not saying much, but he’s one of those Pomona science kids who has a taste for the hard stuff and still manages to be kind, respectful, and more importantly, amenable to being sucked into wasting his Saturday helping out with a bike ride.
And not just any bike ride.
This morning was a special edition of Joann’s FDR, a/k/a Fun Donut Ride, which came about as an alternative to the Donut Ride on which everyone eventually gets dropped and fun is minimized. It was a special edition because Phil Gaimon had selected this day to go for the trifecta:
- Take the Switchbacks KOM.
- Get people to sign up for his Cookie Fondo.
- Raise money for the No Kid Hungry foundation.
The bait was several hundred dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and the VeloFix entourage running tech support, sag, and PR for Phil. Paparazzi snagged cameo photos of Enduro Breader before the ride, snaring down donuts.
Land of the Lost
The Stravver, dislike it or hate it, is where much of modern bike competition resides. KOMs are precious things to a great many people, and the Stravver allows riders to simultaneously live in Delusionville and to keep tabs on their training data.
When Phil’s pro career ended and he took up KOM collecting full-time, it created a bit of a sensation. You see, Stravver KOMs for the really iconic segments are owned by about four percent of the people on the Stravver. Ninety-six percent of the people on the Stravver cannot stand the other four percent. The reasons are complex, but in a nutshell it boils down to this: Your local Stravver hero is quite likely an insufferable dick.
Does anyone remember Thorfinn-Sasquatch, the Stravver KOM collector who was busted hawking PEDs? Right. And while I’m not saying that big time KOM collectors all dope, we are familiar with the chicanery that these big fish employ: Favorable winds, leadouts by friends, pacing by motor scooters, and any other number of questionable tactics.
Bottom line is that Phil has made a nice retirement out of going out to the local iconic climbs across the country and wresting them from the treasure chest of That Guy, who typically then turns to the Internet to complain about the injustice of having his KOM “stolen” by someone who was, uh, faster.
Of course the 96% peanut gallery loves it …
Taken under cover of night
When Phil heads out to take a big deal KOM, the locals don’t always welcome him with open arms, and by “locals” I mean the riders who fancy themselves the biggest frog in the local pond. No mind. Phil straps on his camera and has a go, and more often than not he collects the KOM. But it’s a bit of a solitary undertaking, soldiering out into hostile territory to wrest the crown from the local prince.
Enter Joann’s FDR.
For whatever reason, perhaps because she hasn’t been cycling long enough to know that you’re supposed to resent “outsiders,” rather than meeting Phil at the gates of the South Bay with an armed vigilante squad, she put out the call and close to 70 riders answered.
Line the Switchbacks and cheer Phil on in his attempt to snatch away the title of fastest rider on our most hallowed hill.
He was taken aback. As he began the assault, the entire route was lined with riders from Big Orange, South Bay Wheelmen, and random riders in the area eager to witness and cheer a pretty gnarly physical feat: The Switchbacks has been ridden over 8,000,000 billion times, and the current KOM as of Saturday morning was Eddy Merckx, who set the record shortly after setting his one-hour world record in Mexico City in 1968.
I talked with Phil afterwards.
“What was it like being cheered?”
“It was weird. No one has ever done that before.”
“Good weird or bad weird?”
“It was awesome. People screaming for me, urging me on … that just doesn’t happen in Stravaland.”
“Did you get the KOM?”
“What was your time?”
I don’t know what Merckx’s time was, but obviously it was slower than Phil’s.
The next item on the menu involved a big party at the Bike Palace in San Pedro, where local San Pedroian delicacies were served to the ravenous bikers, and where generous donations poured in for the No Kid Hungry foundation.
It was a great day thanks to Joann, Bike Palace, VeloFix, and donuts. Not cookies. Donuts.
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