You don’t have to ride a bicycle very long to come across Badass Syndrome, sometimes called “B.S.” for short.
Here’s what happens.
You are riding along slowly, recovering from a) intervals b) yesterday’s 200-mile ride c) intense #socmed sessions. Suddenly you hear the sound of an approaching cyclist, quickly followed by the “whoosh” of a punishment pass.
The badass, one knee pointing to Rome, the other to Paris, flails by five mph faster than you, which brings him up to 19 or 20. Elbows out as if he’s fighting for toilet paper on Aisle 6, head down like every bit of wind resistance matters, tummy in full droop, body rocking like a baby in a cradle on a mechanical bull, Badass briefly takes a hand off the drops to “wave,” causing serious wobble, before righting the U.S.S. Badass and pounding on.
So far, so good.
You were going slow. Badass was killing it on that slightly downhill section of Hawthorne past Granvira Altamira, where you can hit 30 with almost no effort. You got passed cuz Badass was jus bein a badass. He don’t no no nother way to be.
But then a few seconds go by. Badass is still only a couple hundred feet ahead of you. Badass, having passed you, now feels his enthusiasm start to flag. Badass realizes that the plus side of passing someone is the feeling of awesome TdF victory, but the bad side is the sudden terror that Badass is now out of gas and going to get caught.
Badass burned through one of those jumbo Strike Anywhere matchboxes to pass you and has nothing left. So Badass begins scanning for somewhere to turn to avoid the ignominy of being passed. On yesterday’s ride, Badass did the famous “I was just hammering up to HERE,” and veered left across four lanes of traffic into a street where he could slow down, hide, and retch, only to discover that it was a super short cul-de-sac.
Oops, he did it again.
Another variant is the traffic signal pass, where Badass gets hung up at the light 200 yards later. Then and only then does he shamefacedly say “Hello!” and try to pretend that he wasn’t being a dick.
But my favorite is the Badass Re-pass, where you were pedaling slowly to recover from a hard effort, and about the time you got badassed it was time to re-start your engine for the next interval. That’s when Badass gets passed and left for dead.
Except it doesn’t always work out that way.
The galactic center for badasses is North County San Diego along PCH. There are more badasses in $800 kits and $10k bikes there than anywhere, ever. I was riding the coast highway a couple of months ago on my commuter bike with a backpack and tennis shoes when I got badassed. This one was in his 20’s and pretty fit. He immediately slowed after the pass, so I caught on and then did the one thing that drives badasses crazy. I sat and refused to get dropped.
I have never seen someone work so hard to both pedal fast and simultaneously pretend that there was no one on his wheel, even though my fat tires sounded like a truck. We hit the bottom of Torrey Pines and about halfway up the differential between his age and mine, and his 20-mile ride and mine of 130 began to tell.
We were both pinned, and with a hundred yards or so to go, I cracked. It was unfortunate because just as I cracked and came off, he blew, too and slowed hard.
Then he realized I’d been dropped and the adrenaline rush he got from it was visible. Magic recovery oxygen came from nowhere and he pulled away. I kept him in sight as he did the eventual “this is the end of my ride” pull-off into the UCSD campus, badass activity complete despite humiliation of having to tow along grandpa and despite the near-cataclysmic humiliation of not being able to drop him and the backpack on the hill.
I still had a client meeting and another 130 miles to get home.
Read this far? Then maybe it’s time to Go ahead and hit this “subscribe” link. Thank you!