It was a sad day for bike racing in SoCal when Robert Efthimos stepped down as president of Velo Club La Grange, but probably not a sad day for President Sausage. After four years of handling the grit, the nit, and the shit that comes with being the figurehead of the biggest racing club in the U.S. and the one with the oldest pedigree on the West Coast, there is no way on earth he can possibly regret not having to deal with emails like this:
Yo, Sausage. My kit that I got two years ago and only have 20,000 miles on has a thread loose on the left inside lower leg panel. Can I get these defective bib shorts replaced?
How do I know he got emails like that? Easy. Because that’s a copy of one I sent.
Of course it’s not true that being El Presidente is thankless. Everyone who knows what the job entails thanks their lucky stars that it was he, not they, who was on a firing line where every shit pistol was loaded, cocked, and aimed at your inbox.
Different people will appreciate different aspects of what Robert brought to the job. Some will praise his diplomacy, pointing out that in four years he never shouted, screamed, pulled hair (his own or others), or tossed anyone out of a window.
A different executive would have had heads on platters if someone had tanked up the bitchin’ Mercedes-Benz Sprinter customized race van with gasoline instead of diesel, but not President Sausage. He realized that to err is human, but to colossally fuck up is simply in the nature of bike racers borrowing someone else’s car/bike/race wheels/spouse/etc.
Others will point to President Sausage’s skillful ability to manage and organize teams. Under his watch VCLG’s racing results skyrocketed and race participation blossomed. The women’s racing squad got every bit as much attention as the men’s, and more when it was called for.
Robert always knew how and when to say “thank you,” how to give credit to others, how to leverage the goodwill and dollars of sponsors, how to make sure that the club contributed to broader social and cycling advocacy issues, how to integrate safety and education into the know-it-all culture of competitive cycling, how to have opinions without being judgmental, how to pump up club events like the legendary La Grange Cup, how to accommodate non-racers in a racing club, and how to show respect and appreciation to every member regardless of how fast they rode or what kind of rig they pedaled. Oh, and he was a kick-ass herder of cats.
That’s all well and good. So thank you, President Sausage.
But for my part I appreciated something else.
Watt’s it all about, Alfie?
Robert Efthimos was — and is — a fuggin’ bike racer.
He is a nice guy, sure. Diplomatic, yes. Sharper than any razor. Hell, yes.
But in the competitive sphere he always brought his very best, and as president of a racing club, that is what made the difference. Whether on NPR, Amalfi, the NOW ride, sojourns to the South Bay’s Donut Ride, Telo, or racing the weekend crits, Robert was a fuggin’ bike racer, and a good one.
My best recent memory of him was this year when he magically appeared on the Flog Ride after a 2-year absence. Unbeknownst to me, he was a week away from a state TT attempt and wanted to put the final edge on his blade. He shredded the course (and us) and set a top-10 overall time on a segment that has been raced full gas by national champions.
Not sure how he did in the TT, but I don’t care. He never hesitated to do the hard rides and do his cutthroat best to win.
In my opinion this is part of why he had such credibility and respect among racers and non-racers alike. Ultimately if you are the head of a racing club and you don’t race, everything you say will be heard with an asterisk.
When President Sausage spoke–always in a normal tone of voice, with patience and perspective, there was invariably an exclamation mark at the end, the explanation mark that you can only write with your legs.
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