I drove sag for the Circle of Doom ride on Saturday. It’s the first time I’ve ever done this and I wondered where the word “sag” came from.
No one knows, of course. Some say it means “support and gear,” some say it comes from “supply and grub wagons” from WWI, and some say it is to support “sagging riders.”
On Saturday, “sag” referred to the physical and mental status of me, the driver. If I hadn’t been sagging before the ride, I sure would have been after watching the cyclists ascend the 30-mile climb up to Crystal Lake.
When you sag a ride it is pretty awful in the beginning. All the happy cyclists stage and roll out and everyone is FRESH and HAPPY. You feel like you’re in kindergarten and you can’t play during recess because you wet your shorts or you spit on the teacher. But then when you see people falling apart at the seams a few miles later it doesn’t feel bad at all.
Like a dream, where images of the King of Sardinia are mixed in with images of your parents, a cow, and a flock of termites, after the ride there was an amazing admixture of stories. Every single person had a tale, not unlike Sausage, who pithily said “This ride had two phases. Pre-cramp and post.”
One rider almost got taken out by a huge boulder that bounded down the mountain, another got a bee sting in the belly, etc. Like every fondo, people go way too fast too soon, and you could see them hit the bottom of the climb full gas, after which there was 2.5 hours of shrapnel and grimaces all the way to the first feed station.
Sorry, I meant to say “Bacon Station,” because the Flawless Diamonds were at the top of the pass frying up endless pounds of bacon and potatoes. I heard one guy say he was vegan. “Well, sonny, those pigs ate nothing but veggies their entire lives, so chow down.”
Dan Chapman was everywhere snapping pictures, including one of my sagging gut and droopy chest which he sent me as a memento. Methodist Winning and VC La Grange were everywhere. On the trip down the hill I passed Dan Funk battering the brains out of a small group that was trying to hang onto his wheel.
Sag means giving back but you also feel like a coward. People ride by and they are either on a mission (often unclear to anyone, including them, what the mission is), or they are happy and grinning and high-fiving. Sag also means appreciating the skill with which a hangry cyclist can scavenge a couple of crates you have told him is “empty” and come up with a bottle of pickle juice and a half-emptied packet of drink mix.
Sag means encountering a bunch of different attitudes. Grateful, angry, happy, miserable, cheerful, demanding, kind, confused, energetic, nine toes in the grave. Most of all, when you’re doing water sag, which I was, you realize that Water is Life. And maybe you also think of truly dreadful music like this.
For some reason lots of riders took to the pretty rough road with their ultralight, supple crit tires, inflated to 140 psi. It is pretty satisfying to see the look on some guy’s face as he is bent over in a cactus-filled ditch, T-rex arms flailing as he tries to air up his tire with a mini-pump, and then you hop out with a floor pump.
After the ride there was a massive lunch and party at the Mercedes-Benz of bike shops, Velo Pasadena. More stories were told, and people got progressively happier as the food and beer were served up.
It was weird going home from a big ride and not being exhausted, cracked, destroyed.
I kind of liked it.
I am gradually getting into the sag way of things, at least for October. Please consider subscribing to this bastion of free speech … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!