Good legs, bad legs

May 29, 2019 § 5 Comments

It is pretty well known that racing on slightly tired legs is a sign of fitness. I’m not sure about that, but what I know is that racing on slightly tired legs makes me conservative. Sit in as much as possible, focus on positioning, and wait for someone else to make the decisive move … then follow if you can.

The only times that racing turns out well for me is when I race cautiously, and I’m only cautious when I’m tired, because getting dropped sucks.

The only race I do anymore is our Telo #fake #trainingrace because it is hard and uncategorized. You’re racing against young strong people as well as gimpy geezers, not simply doing a trinket dance apportioned among other 55-59 y/o leaky prostates where evbo gets a ribbon.

My legs felt great so I went out hard for the first half hour. Peter the Hungarian jumped in several laps after the race had begun, and threw in attack after attack. Wes, who has graduated from shellee to hammer, chased, attacked, and animated. It was funny to watch him take a monster pull, flick his elbow, and then get mad when no one pulled through.

Welcome to the front, Wes! It’s lonely up there!

The man to mark was Chatty Cathy, and sure enough, with about 20 minutes left he followed another attack by Peter, accompanied by Wes and Ivan the Terrible. Ivan got the win, with Peter, Wes, and Chatty Cathy filling up the invisible podium. Everyone hesitated at the decisive moment except me, because it’s not hesitating when you are too shot to follow. The break rolled.

A lap later the Left Behinds realized that they’d been left behind, and Hair kicked it hard and took a couple of riders with him, including Ram-Ram, who’d won the #fakerace NPR that morning and was in the lead for the Telo Shoe Giveaway powered by Bike Palace. That left the dregs chasing the chasers: Heavy D., Smasher, Boozy P., Lapped Dude, Brandon, Turbo Tom, and I.

When you’re more than a minute down and have no hope, there are two options: Parade & preen, or rotate your guts out.

I cast a vote for parade & preen, but was overridden by the others. Smasher and Heavy D. pounded, along with Brandon, who took one pull so hard into the headwind that he pulled himself right off the back. Lapped Dude sat in and enjoyed the scenery, such as it was.

The last fifteen minutes were pretty miserable, proving that you can still have a great time on the bike even when you are completely rancid pack meat. In the sprunt for eleventy-ninth place, Smasher yanked a pedal as he came around me, causing his foot to kick the chain off and then, as his other foot unclipped, causing his left heel to kick open the rear quick release. I tensed as I heard the horrible sounds off to my right and waited for the inevitable smash and skid of breaking carbon and thudding body parts, but in an act of magical bike handling, he stayed upright as I was soundly beaten by Lapped Dude.

I’d go so far as to say it was the most satisfying of my many, many eleventy-tenth finishes. All of which have happened with … good legs.

__________________________

END

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Masters of none

May 13, 2018 § 21 Comments

My grandfather used to get up early every morning, shave, get dressed nicely, put on his porkpie hat with the little feather in the band, and drive his ’62 Chevy Impala down to Pearson’s Rexall Drugstore in Daingerfield, Texas. By 7:00 AM there would be a small group, five or six retirees sitting at their stammtisch, drinking coffee, and gossiping.

That’s all they did. Gossip. When the news was especially big, like the time the embalmer at Nail-Haggard Mortuary (a real place) ran off with a teenager to live in a shack in the woods, the old gossipy men in the drugstore would shamble out at a fast trot in order to be first home with the news.

Although the town looked at those old codgers affectionately, they were anything but. All they did was sit around and talk shit about people. They weren’t leaders in their community, in their church, or in any of the town’s charitable institutions. They didn’t get involved in youth activities, never ran for office, and never donated so much as a dime unless their wives forced them to. They were mostly stingy, selfish old men, arch conservatives, deeply racist hypocrites who railed against taxes and big gummint even as they benefited from it more than anyone else. They were often drunks whose only hobbies in life were cards and horse racing.

Eventually their little cabal faded away because they all died. They never brought younger people into the circle, and one by one they were laid out at Nail-Haggard, buried, and forgotten. The Rexall eventually shuttered, too.

Team Lizard Collectors revolt

The handwriting has been on the USAC wall so long that people no longer pay attention to it, like graffiti you pass daily until it blends into the landscape. Here’s what the handwriting has said for the last twenty years: “Masters racing is killing sanctioned amateur bike racing in the U.S.”

Of course there are other forces at work. Strava, a crappy product, instant gratification, selfie-cycling, and fun > achievement have all helped snap the mainmast and drive USAC onto the shoals.

But few things have been as destructive as masters racers. Simply put, they are spoiled, entitled, whiny, narcissistic, stingy, arch-conservative old gossips, just like the geezers who used to huddle at the Rexall in Daingerfield. What’s so incredible is that even among cyclists they stand out for their delusions.

Team Lizard Collectors has long been a collecting pot of dorks. You can’t belong to TLC without being a dork. If this sounds harsh, it isn’t. TLC is one of the only racing clubs that acknowledges the truth: Dressing up in a plastic clown suit and prancing around town on a child’s toy for which you have paid thousands of dollars is dorky. This includes Peter Sagan, sorry.

And TLC has succeeded because of its “Open Dork” policy, which welcomes every rider regardless of age, ability, or delusion. Virtually no experienced racers sign up with TLC. Instead, the team’s racers, with maybe one exception, are beginners who were initially dorks writ large, and who, through practice and falling on their face at the Mothballs Crit in Santa Barbara, eventually became somewhat competent bike racers. Of course this competence didn’t come in a vacuum. Team Lizard Collectors won the Team Championship Trophy for the CBR Crit Series last year, and has been active enough that the squad has had more race entries the last five years than any other team in SoCal, by a huge margin.

You would think that dorks would never forget their dork roots, and would always remember that no matter how many times they got third at the 50+ crit in Ontario, it was only a couple of years ago that they, too, were floundering off the back, or floundering over the handlebars face-first at Mothballs.

But if you think that, you understand nothing about human nature and road racing.

Enter the #winners, I mean #whiners

After a couple of seasons of getting third or tenth, it naturally came to pass that at least one of these ex-dorks suddenly adjudged that the other 200+ members in TLC were the true dorks. Why weren’t the other 200+ members racing? Or more accurately, why weren’t the other 200+ dorks helping Mothballs get that elusive win?

Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what the rest of us see, i.e. a droopy, worn-out old shoe, the #winners looked into the mirror and saw unrecognized potential. Raw talent that just needed a little bit extra in organization and teamwork to bring home The Biggest Prize of All, i.e. first place at Ontario … or anywhere, for that matter.

And so, in a process as old as time, it is possible that the cream of the wrinkled, saggy, dessiccated 50+ crop will break away from TLC and form a new, wonderful, amazing, success-studded team of … leaky prostate masters chumpions. Sadly, it never occurred to Team Masters of None that they are doomed to fail.

Because they are.

The metrics of masters racing

In Southern California, America’s mecca for masters bicycle racing, there is exactly one “elite” masters team that has been around for more than four years. It’s called Monster Media, it’s in San Diego, and it has four of the best, winningest racers in SoCal across all disciplines. If you don’t know Phil Tinstman, Karl Bordine, Dave Koesel, and Chris DiMarchi, you haven’t ever raced here much as a master.

Every other masters squad is either new, i.e. less than two years old, or it has accepted the reality that you cannot succeed over the long term as a racing team without also including crappy racers, or even non-racers. Why is that? Because elite masters racers, the majority of whom are anything but, are notoriously cheap and unwilling to join a team unless it can offer a substantial “deal.”

Sound crazy?

Don’t worry, it is. Because a “deal” means free equipment, steeply discounted pro clothing, steeply discounted bikes, tents, nutritional support, race fee reimbursement, lots of #socmed glory, and a customized team van if you can swing it. Did I mention that elite masters were cheapskates? They expect all of this to be provided to them, and incredibly, on every single masters team that has been around for long, IT IS.

But the providing never comes from the prima donna members, rather it comes from the working stiffs who own companies, who own law firms and accounting practices, who have succeeded in the real world even though they never have and never will succeed as a #socal #profamateur. It’s these “failures” along with the rank-and-file membership who pay the bills and do the heavy organizational lifting for the elite masters wankers, and leaving aside for a moment the craziness of all that money going to narcissistic old men rather than into junior racing development, masters race teams must have this type of financial support in order to survive.

If there weren’t free shit, why would a leaky prostate, delusional #profamateur join? Why would any of these selfish old men want to belong to an organization just to promote cycling, help newcomers, build community, organize grass roots events, and do a few races with friends at their own expense? Crazy talk, yo.

Enter the lizards

Team Lizard Collectors is, I’m sorry to say, the best racing deal ever. You get deeply discounted bikes. You get ALL YOUR RACE ENTRIES 100% REIMBURSED. If you’re Cat 1 or Cat 2 you get two free full kits valued at $245/apiece (one if you’re a lowly Cat 3). To help you with that arithmetic, you pay $45 and get up to $490 back. Complex, I know. Throw in my $483.00 race reimbursement from last year and it almost starts to look like I’m getting paid to race my bike.

You also get free/deeply discounted nutritional products from Beachbody Performance, an acknowledged world leader in the field. You get full race support at every race, in every category. This means a tent stocked with free food, drinks, coffee, and a professional masseuse. Yes, you read that right. And as a racer you don’t have to lift a finger. The race day elves magically put it all up before daybreak, and take it all down, hours after you’re home in bed touching yourself in special places as you relive that 35th place finish at CBR.

Yet … nothing is free in life, and nothing is free over at TLC, either.

To get all of this you have to pay the outrageous sum of $45 a year. But it’s even worse because you have to endure the humiliation of being surrounded by non-racers. By social butterflies. By weaklings who, although they think you’re awesome, fill your water bottle, like your #socmed fakeface, organize fun parties, plan social rides, and idolize you, they obstinately refuse to be awesome racers in your mold. And this is what’s intolerable, apparently.

The thought that you, a hero among droopy prostates, would have to wear the same uniform with the same logo and design as the social butterflies, who, although they bring new members to the club, although they slavishly work the events, and although some of them actually even race, are simply too dorky for you now. At the end of the day, there are only two kinds of people: Those who can get you the vee, and those who can’t. You ain’t got time for that second kind.

Here is the mentality that has led to the revolt: “I appreciate you helping me through med school and raising the four kids and working those two jobs, but now that I’m a big deal and making seven figures, you’re not good enough for me anymore. Good-bye. And here are some green socks.”

Don’t go away mad, just go away

Of course every big club has mass defections every one or two years. It’s the nature of the beast. A small group of disgruntled riders gets mad because their awesomeness isn’t appreciated, so they form a splinter club where like-minded “real racers” can focus on the business of winning, unencumbered by the losers who only like fun rides, tent set-up, and paying for stuff.

These splinter elite race teams never succeed. The first reason they fail is because once they form, they realize that they really only have one good rider–and by “good” I’m using their metric of winning races. And they quickly find themselves working for that one guy, which is what’s known as #buzzkill. Reducing team size also reduces excuse size. With a truly small, elite team, you’re only left with one excuse for losing: You suck.

The second reason these teams fail is that talk about doing a bunch of races is different from actually doing a bunch of races. When you are over 50 years of age, you are mostly dead. The only way you can race to win 20 or more races a season is by having no other significant responsibilities of any kind. This describes no one except maybe the good guy who you’re now having to work for all the time. So what happens is that the first three or four races you have full team participation, which means half of the ten-man squad shows up, and the rest of the year it dwindles and dwindles until it’s just you two.

This leads to Massive Race De-bonerization, where instead of looking forward to race day, you dread it. There’s no tent. There’s no swag. There are no idolizing non-racers to fill your bottle, or coo over you for not having won again. Instead, you’re getting beaten by the same people who have always beaten you and who will always beat you, and you don’t even have an awestruck groupie to explain how if you’d just gotten better position in the last turn you would have come around Tommy Robles. Right …….

The final reason your team fails is that you get slapped in the dick with the economic reality of having to do a full race program without the financial support of a 200+ membership club and the myriad financial resources they bring to the party. It’s when wifey says, “You just spent $1,200 in race entry fees last year!” that shit gets real.

And of course the final final reason is that you are an old, worn-out shoe. You aren’t Phil Tinstman now, just like you weren’t Thurlow Rogers then, and just like you won’t be Greg Leibert tomorrow. Your best years are so far behind that you’d need a telescope to see them, unless of course you aspire to be one of those 70+ “racers” at the velodrome who devotes their entire life to a fake world champion jersey they can wear at home, in the yard, and in the shower.

The final final final reason you’re gonna fail? Because every human community requires youth and mentoring to thrive. People, it turns out, get old. And the older they get, the more they die. Prior to dying they take crazy left turns like illness, insanity, senility, incontinence, and zero-T, which all result in No More Bike Racing.

Just like my grandfather’s little group of nasty old gossips, the narcissistic little world of masters bike racing has just drawn the walls in that much closer by excluding the young, the enthusiastic, the inexperienced, and those with the resources of time, money, and good will. Rather than being mentors, teachers, and advocates who realize that their best competitive years are decades behind them, yet another clique of Baby Boomer Trumpers will steal away to stroke their shaved legs in secret, praying for the lead-out that, unfortunately, ain’t never gonna come.

END

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Clash of the moderately-sized titans

April 11, 2018 § 6 Comments

The history of Telo is a bit foggy, or rather windy. It has been going on for over thirty years. Fifteen years ago it sported huge turnouts of 50-60 racers every week, sometimes more. With the downward spiral of road racing, Telo completely died about four years ago, and so dead was it that I actually listed it as “R.I.P.” on my South Bay Rides page.

Then Grandpa Joe, Junkyard, the resident creative genius of the South Bay stepped in. With a little cajoling and a few exquisitely tailored, beautifully designed winner jerseys, he brought Telo back to life. There are few things as important to the development of grass roots racing as having a regular weekly training crit. Training crits give people a place to race during the week, give new riders a chance to learn under less pressurized circumstances, and impart a vibe of competition that is part of, not apart from, camaraderie on the bike.

This past week Grandpa Joe’s heart, after close to six decades of hard work, decided to take a few beats’ vacation, and next thing we all knew our spiritual leader was being whisked off to a hospital to have his ticker frozen, the jumper cables attached, and to hopefully have his battery restarted. Dire prognostications were made about the Man of Junk, the Big Banana, and we all began writing obituaries that began with “That tough bastard …” or “That sonofabitch …” or “Who’s gonna design my kits NOW?”

Fortunately, they got the right ends of the cables hooked up to the right battery terminals, and after scraping off a whole bunch of battery acid and a few false starts, Junkyard’s battery was completely recharged. There was concern about lasting damage to the fermented brain lodged in Junkyard’s sweat-lodge of a cranium, but his first words were “I’m selling all my bike shit and spending the rest of my life wandering through museums!”

Relief was all we could feel hearing these oft-repeated words, uttered every time he regained consciousness in a hospital, because it meant for sure that he was not more than a month out from doing NPR, and two, perhaps three from suiting up at Telo.

Last night we had a massive turnout in his honor. The field was littered with hitters, and it took about forty riders to keep Evens in check. At the end, Methods to Winning demonstrated a method to winning, i.e. start your leadout with Destroyer, then follow it with Hair, then with Youngdude, then Rahsaan, and then put E.A. Sports, Inc., in the closer slot. Of course, even though it wasn’t the third quarter, he closed. Or rather, slammed the fuggin’ door shut.

I staggered home to lick my wounds. Another windy beating. Another vicious mauling. Another day of infamy metamorphosed into an evening of despair.

Another Telo. Thanks, Junkyard.

END

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No second chances

March 14, 2018 § 1 Comment

You always get another shot, right? That’s what I was thinking after finishing the 6:50 today, manhandled by lokalmotor Eric Anderson who, with the help of teammate Greg Lonergan, easily bested the five members of Team Lizard Collectors.

We had our trademark teammate chasedown stragety going full bore with half a lap on the Parkway remaining. I was stuck to Eric’s wheel like a dingleberry while Lonergan dangled at the back, gassed from the four-lap rotation.

Eric “Wall Street” Bruins jumped away, opening a nice gap, and the other Eric had no choice but to chase, or so he thought. Without warning, a lizard collector jumped, dragging Eric, the rest of the Collectors, and gassed Lonergan up to Wall Street. A couple of other fruitless lizard launches ensued, easily covered by Anderson.

With Wall Street, G$, Baby Seal, Surfer Dan, and I, it seemed like sensible tactics would have been to keep launching individual attacks and forcing Eric to cover, but we are Team Lizard Collectors, and we don’t do sensible. That’s when down-for-the-count Lonergan exploded up the side, opening such a big gap so quickly that he was going to win the imaginary sprunt for the #fakewin if someone didn’t chase him down. Note: That someone wasn’t going to be his teammate Eric, who clearly hadn’t graduated from Team Lizard Collectors’ tactical school of self-immolation.

A couple of hard efforts later and TLC had shut down Lonergan, but we were all tuckered out and Eric was fresh as milk from a cow’s teat. I did the pointless pull to the line, figuring that with three lizard collectors in our four-man group, surely someone would get second, and we did!

All the way home I consoled myself with the thought that there would always be another chance. When I arrived, clattering along the walkway, I noticed a small but unnatural brown lump on the narrow branch of a small tree. The branch was hanging out directly over the fake stream that funnels leaves and junk through our complex.

I looked at the lump again, then stopped. Something atop the lump was moving. I walked closer. As the covering leaves above and the ones below resolved in my line of sight, I saw that it was no ordinary brown lump, but rather an extraordinarily tiny nest, and the moving items atop the nest were two baby hummingbirds, not more than a couple of days away from their first flight.

I’ve watched birds all my life but have never seen a hummingbird nest up close. The fledglings looked at me anxiously and fidgeted in their nest. That’s when I noticed the deep (for them) and treacherous (for them) stream. Pretty soon their mom would be unable to feed them and they’d have to launch from the nest.

In turns they would stand on the ledge of that tiny brown refuge, lined as it was with soft feathers, and flitter a few feet away, trying to master the extraordinary complexities of flight, landing, and return to the nest. A momentary miss and one or both would end up in the stream. I watched them for a long while, and they watched me.

Then I walked away, gutpunched, pondering nature’s lesson.

No second chances.

END

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Fear factor

March 12, 2018 § 2 Comments

I am just as aware as the next racer of the rapidity with which things can go sideways in a bike race, and most of the time it doesn’t get to me. The race is the risk, the risk is the race.

So when I drove out to the Tour de Murrieta on Saturday in a lightly pelting rain, of course it didn’t simply cross my mind, but rather it parked there, the knowledge that wet races add a dimension of risk, a dimension of danger, a dimension of some other idiot sliding out and knocking me off my bike, a dimension of me picking a bad line and eating a tree trunk “and etcetera,” as Billy Stone would say.

We got there fresh on the heels of Bad Mom Day. You’ve had those occasionally, I bet. I’ve had them since I was born. Bad Mom Day usually begins with some unasked-for meeting or visit or encounter, full of smiles and happiness and maternal love, but within a few hours it degenerates into mean, nasty, brutish brawling, with the offended mother harumphing back to her Texas lair to brew up a new strategem for sewing discord, discontent, and emotional dsytrophy.

Bad Mom Days usually leave a thick residue of anger and resentment that bike racing either provides the perfect outlet for, or it provides the perfect opportunity for a bicycle falling off incident a/k/a BFOI.

Word on the street

We pulled up and parked. I got out in the rain and walked over to registration. On the way I saw Racer X, sopping wet, dismantling his bike and shoving it into the car. He was wearing bitchy pissedoff meanface. “How’d it go?” I asked.

“Fucking sucked.”

“How come?”

He pointed to a lovely fracture on the rear triangle. “$3,000.00 race entry fee, that’s how come.”

“You okay?” I asked, belatedly realizing that no bike racer is “okay” when he has a trashed full carbon frame that is all carbon and made of 100% carbon.

“Fuck no, I’m not okay,” he grumbled. I walked on.

A bit farther I ran into Daili Shang, the effervescent, full-gas Cat 4 woman who has had some great results in her first racing season. “How’d it go?” I asked.

She answered with a hug and a big smile. “Great except for my crash.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, but my shoulder really hurts. I’m going to get it x-rayed.”

“How’s the bike?”

“Fine, I think. I got back up, took my lap, and finished.”

“Damn, good job.”

She smiled and offered me a cup of coffee from the La Grange PX. I took it and ambled on. Next I ran into Chris DiMarchi, Phil Tinstman, and Superdave Koesel, who had finished racing a few minutes ago. These guys would have a hardened, steeljawed look at a baby shower; coming out of a rain-soaked, high-speed, shit-spewing crit they looked like cavemen ruminating on the skulls they just beat in with a club.

“How was it?” I asked.

They looked at me for a minute, mulling over the dumb question before answering. “Well,” said Chris, “80 psi. Tell everyone in your race 80 psi.”

“Yeah?”

“For sure. Guys running 100, 110, were bouncing all over the place, sliding on their asses like drunk ice skaters.”

“How’d you guys do?”

They pondered this second stupid question. “Phil let me win,” Dave said.

“I went with five to go,” Chris added. “They came by me solo on the last lap.”

“Any tips for the course?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Phil said. “On the corner where there’s the alternating brick and asphalt, make sure you stay on the little patch of brick and don’t roll over the asphalt or you’ll get introduced to Mr. Curb. And there’s a nasty grate you want to avoid.”

“Guys’ rear wheels were catching all kinds of air when they hit it,” Chris helpfully added, coloring in the picture of danger and mayhem that I’d already sketched out in full.

“Did you have any problems?” I asked Phil.

“No,” he said.

“How come?” I asked.

The quota for stupid questions had been reached. “I picked good lines,” was Phil’s response.

The more you know the less you go

About this time the women’s P/1/2/3 race was wrapping up, with Esther Walker twenty-five seconds up on the field, flying through the turns. The pack charged hard for the line with Shelby Reynolds easily taking the field sprint. None of the women seemed the least bit perturbed by the rain; just another day at the office, pal.

We drove over to the Sckubrats where I had a coffee and a #fakechicken sandwich. An hour later we returned to the course. It was still raining but now the P/1/2 men’s race was going off. I watched it for a few minutes. Single fucking file. Full fucking tilt through the turns. People hanging on for dear life. A bunch of riders already down, or out, or IDGAF and homeward bound.

Suddenly I felt afraid. Not concerned or mildly worried. Afraid.

I got back in the car. “What’s wrong?” Yasuko asked.

“Not today,” I said.

END

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Pointy-sharp

September 7, 2017 § 16 Comments

I had lunch with a guy today. He’s sixty-two years old and looks like most 62-year-old dudes. Not in the best of shape, maybe drinks a bit more than he should, doing okay but definitely on the down side of the power curve.

He was talking about young people, a favorite topic of old people. Young people, however, don’t ever talk about old people. In fact, they hardly are even aware we exist. “Yeah,” he said, “I tell my kids that if they can just show up on time and look presentable, they’ve already won more than half the battle. Don’t matter what the battle even is.”

It made me think about my bike rides, which always start on time. I’m fond of telling people the start time and then adding “pointy-sharp.” With few exceptions, when it’s time to ride, I ride. If you get left behind because you had a flat or an extra cup of coffee or got up late or changed arm warmers at the last minute, well, hopefully you know the route and are familiar with something called “chase.”

In cycling, it’s funny how people who show up on time with their equipment and clothes in superb order often correlate with people who ride well. Lots of examples come to mind. Daniel Holloway, for instance. He’s always early, his kit is always spiffy, and his bike is always immaculate. Or Evens Stievenart, the lokalmotor who just set the world-fucking-record for 24-hour racing … he’s another person who’s punctual, and whose equipment always looks like it just got cleaned. I suspect this is because his equipment just got cleaned.

There are exceptions, of course. I have one friend who is lethally good but who is the enemy of the punctual and whose gear isn’t always in the finest working order. But even he, when it’s race day, gets there on time and makes sure his stuff is race ready. And in his day job he’s invariably on time for meetings and looks like the professional he is.

At the extreme end of the spectrum there are people like Iron Mike and Smasher and Stern-O, for whom timeliness and especially cleanliness are religions. Hair and Charon are two other riders who always look GQ and who ride even better.

Of course showing up on time and having clean equipment doesn’t magically equate to great riding skills. But on the other hand, it’s hard to have great riding skills and also be careless about time and the condition of your junk. Possible, but hard.

Being on time sounds easy, but it isn’t. All the stuff has to be in order. You have to get up early enough to eat, to covfefe, to have the right clothes on. Air in the tires. Kayle Sauce in the bottles. In short, you have to be organized, which is exactly one of the things that it takes to ride well, having the ability to do a bunch of things simultaneously in a group of people also doing a bunch of things simultaneously and not wind up on the pavement or off the back. In other words, if you can’t get your shit together enough to roll out the door on time, how well will you be able to perform in something like the individual pursuit, where meaningful differences are fractions of a second?

I’m continually amazed by people who are always late, and who regularly show up with mismatched socks, threadbare tires, uncharged batteries, helmet askew, empty bottles, and who are totally unprepared for all the totally predictable things that happen when you ride a bike. Even when they ride me off their wheel I can’t help but observe how much better they’d be if their tires actually had air in them.

Jeff Fields, the guy who invented bike racing in Texas, was a detail fiend when it came to showing up early, having his bike in perfect working order, and looking like he just stepped out of a cycling fashion catalog.

And you know what? He won a whole bunch of races.

END

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7 reasons I love Kayle LeoGrande

August 30, 2017 § 30 Comments

When USADA issued the official death certificate for the profamateur racing career of Kayle LeoGrande, it listed the seven banned substances found in his pee-pee. They were: Raloxifene, ostarine, ibutamoren, GW1516 sulfone, RAD140, LGD4033, and andarine.

The news came down about the same time I was lying in bed wondering how I would ever win my first Telo World Fake Profamateur Training Crit Championship. I had a host of fourths, a couple of thirds, but victory proved elusive, even with Frexit out of the picture.

It was 3:00 AM. The phone rang. “Hello?”

“Hello,” said a heavily accented voice, which I instantly recognized as Stanley O’Grande, the infamous doping Chihuahua. “You wanna win the Telo?” he said.

“Yeah,” I admitted quietly. “I do.”

“It’s gonna cost you.”

“I’ll pay anything.”

“You test positive I don’t know you, okay?”

“Anything.”

“All right,” he growled. “Get ready for the dark side.”

An hour later I was in a dark alley behind the PVE faux estate of palm frond manager Robert Lewis McButtchaps, Jr. It was silent except for the babysitting service which had come over to McButtchaps’s home to burp him and change his didy. I spied Stanley O’Grande next to a bush.

“You got the stuff?” I asked.

“Here,” he said gruffly, thrusting out his paw. I took the large plastic sack, tucked it under my arm and dashed away.

The next day was Telo. Before rolling up to the start I opened the plastic bag. Inside was the miracle tunic! One of Kayle LeoGrande’s old jerseys! I quickly shucked off my Team Lizard Collectors kit and squirmed into Kayle’s jersey, which was strangely damp.

At the bottom of the sack was a note, written by Stan: “This is the only miracle tunic left from the batch we custom fitted Kayle with. Straight from Shanghai. Zip that baby up and let the ointments in the fabric do their thing. Chapeau. Or sombrero, as we Chihuahuans say.”

As the form fitting garment clung to my skin I could feel the magical elixirs begin to soak in. In seconds I went from meek, compliant, fearful Wanky McWankster to Kayle Jr., a/k/a Cabbage. As the chemicals from the soaked jersey coursed through my veins, I knew it was indeed my day to win Telo.

Destroyer sidled up to me. “We’re on the same team now,” he said. “Me and Smasher will get you the win today. With that tunic, everything is possible.”

“Even for me? I thought you can’t turn a donkey into a racehorse, even with drugs.”

“A donkey, no. But a Wanky? Maybe!”

The race was off. Destroyer, Buckwheat, and G3 rolled and opened a massive gap. I sat easily on Smasher’s wheel, knowing that my new teammate would do anything to help me win. Eventually the break disappeared, but I never worried. Why?

Because the 1st reason to love Kayle was taking effect, i.e. Mr. Raloxifene. It immediately began selectively blocking estrogen uptake receptors, resulting in immediate flows of extra testosterone that would have otherwise been converted to estrogen. My legs were pistons of steel.

Once the break was reeled in, a series of counter-attacks took place. In kicked Reason to Love Kayle #2, Mr. Ostarine. I easily went with the counter as my ostarine, which research has shown to have fewer androgenic properties, exerted less influence on the development and balance of my male hormones, including testosterone. While  not yet approved for human use, ostarine did away with the negative side effects of steroids and effectively helped me avoid muscle wasting diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, and hypogonadism. The peloton had greatly thinned. Thanks, Mr. Ostarine!

Now we were halfway through the race and there were a flurry of unsuccessful attacks. It was my time to launch, and thankfully I had Mr. Ibutamorin at my disposal. Reason #3!!! This non-peptidic, potent, long-acting, orally-active, and selective agonist of the ghrelin receptor and a growth hormone secretagogue, mimicked the growth hormone (GH)-stimulating action of the endogenous hormone ghrelin. By sustaining activation of GH-IGF-1 Axis and increase in lean body mass but no change in total fat mass or visceral fat, it allowed me to attack so hard that none could follow.

Soon I was brought back and would have been decimated were it not for Reason to Love Kayle #4, GW1516 sulfone, or Endurabol. This PPARδ receptor agonist, although abandoned in 2007 because animal testing showed that the drug caused cancer in several organs, brought my dead legs back to life much as the 2007 research showing that high doses of GW501516 given to mice dramatically improved their physical performance. Endurabol might cause cancer in lab rats, but Kayle and I were no lab rats, we were sewer rats, and I hung tough.

Catching my breath I attacked and bridged up to Hector Morales thanks to Reasons to Love Kayle Nos. 4-6, i.e., RAD140, LGD4033, and andarine. These three SARMs kept my testosterone hugely massive, better than Obama’s, and the break stuck for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, the race had twenty-one minutes left.

Buckwheat, Smasher, Destroyer, Rudy, and others hunted us down despite my best doped efforts, but proving that drugs are stronger than pan y agua, I miraculously outsprinted everyone but Buckwheat for second place with the help of a massive leadout by Destroyer.

Was it worth it? How did I feel about cheating my friends? What about my incipient ovarian cancer? Would I feel like an idiot when USADA put me on its Most Wanted list?And most importantly, could I keep the miracle tunic?

I don’t know the answers to those things. But I know I’ve learned to love Kayle.

END

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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.

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Heartbreak Hotel

August 9, 2017 § 38 Comments

With one lap to go I was a few minutes from achieving the only thing I have ever desired in life, that is a victory at our local training crit a/k/a Telo.

The field was a mishmash of gizzards, car parts, tree roots, defective Morton-Thiokol O-rings, broken razor blades, bald tires, and sunken galleons on the Spanish Main, as the pack had disintegrated shortly after re-entry, leaving only Frexit, Head Down James, Hair, and me in three-man-one-robot breakaway.

With seven laps to go, Frexit had urged me “Easy, easy!” as we came through Turn 4, which in bikeracespeak means “Ouchy!” So I waited a lap and attacked, shedding my unwelcome partners in an honest effort to toss them onto the garbage pile of discarded racers.

My hands were tied. If I sat in the break until the finish I would certainly get fourth. If I attacked I would [certainly – .0000001%] get fourth. So I had to go with the percentage shot.

Five laps to go and the gap held steady.

Four laps to go and I started pulling away.

Three laps to go and they clawed some of it back.

Two laps to go and it held at ten seconds.

One lap to go they were eight seconds back. Dreams of victory danced through my windshield. A lifetime of groveling was about to be rewarded with a few seconds swallowing a deep draught of the elixir of victory. Repeated beatings at the hands of unpleasant people was about to result in the bootheel landing on their neck instead of mine. Revenge would be sweeter than a diabetic dessert.

I rehearsed my victory speech, remembering to thank the little people who had made me who I am, thanking my parents, my deceased dog Fletcher, Phil who sold me my first bike, Fields, and then moving on to my wife, children, and a brief explanation of the dedication and hard work it had taken to reach what to the casual observer looked like an overnight success.

My speech, however, failed to account for the bitter hatred that Head Down James felt deep within his soul. Even though I had mentored him as a beginning cyclist by shouting epithets at him, screaming at him to lift up his fucking head, and trying to intimidate him at every turn, he apparently had forgotten all those little kindnesses and was now hell bent on revenge.

With Head Down James preferring to drag Frexit and Hair up to me so they could smear him in the sprunt rather than seeing me walk off with a glorious, life-altering victory that I would mockingly hold over his head for all time, he buried himself and closed the gap with only a few hundred yards left to go. Head Down James knew that the ignominy of being dropped out of his own breakaway and then beaten by a solo move at the hands of the leakiest, braggiest, un-cagiest racer in America would put paid to his professional athletic career. Frexit also knew that a Wanky defeat before his assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Velo would cause an emotional collapse from which he might never recover. Hair didn’t care; he wasn’t getting higher than second no matter what and he knew it.

Head Down James’s effort was enough. Aaron and Frexit buried him, and worse, they buried me. I praised them insincerely afterwards, congratulated them while secretly wishing that each were slowly beheaded by a rusty table saw, and pedaled home, crushed.

And although you may not give a damn, my dear, tomorrow is another day.

END

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French beast connection

August 7, 2017 § 18 Comments

A great way to become a better rider is to ride with people who are better than you. It won’t make you faster or stronger or smarter or more successful in racing. However, with the clever use of an iPhone or GoPro you will be able to snap pics and show them to your friends on Facegag, upload them to The Stravver and etcetera, proving that you are heroic and tough enough to ride with Titanic Crusher ergo you are almost as good as Titanic and if you only had more hours to train and dope to ingest and motors to install you would be as good as he.

It’s important that the footage not show how Titanic Crusher is barely breathing whereas you sound like a medicinal advertisement for sleep apnea.

The first time I saw Frexit was on the New Pier Ride. He was humbly pedaling along in an ugly bicycle outfit trying to fit in among all of the perfectly attired, matchy-match profamateurs on the Tuesday morning preenfest. He was doing a terrible job of it because despite his ugly outfit he had a smooth pedal stroke, a relaxed demeanor despite being squeezed in the middle of an idiot sandwich, and worst of all, he was smiling as if a morning ride with friends was for enjoyment rather than for huge expressions of serious seriousness topped off with seriousity.

Before we hit Pershing, the life and death battle had begun as the idiots jostled for position, which in the South Bay does not only means “place where you can be nearest the front with the smallest risk of having to be on it,” but also “place from which you can solicit new riders to join your fake race clubteam.”

Velo Club LaGrange, a historically fake clubteam, had won the last several recruitment contests, and even as they jockeyed for position I came up hard on the inside, threw an elbow, and began the finishing sign-up sprint.

“What’s your name?”

“Evens.”

“That’s weird. Did someone add an ‘s’ by mistake when you were born?”

“No, I am French.”

“What’s your last name?”

“Stievenart,” he said.

“Oh,” I nodded. “So you’re actually Belgian.”

He laughed as we hit the bottom of Pershing. “You should join Big Orange,” I said. “We are a bunch of dorks also know as Team Lizard Collectors or The Asphalt Magnet Gang, but we will reimburse your entry … ” I couldn’t finish because he rode away. And away. And away.

At the end of the ride I offered to wash his bike if he would join Team Lizard Collectors, and he agreed. Thus began Frexit’s association with a club that would be shameful for him but glorious for us.

It turned out that Frexit had won a bunch of French national time trial championships, and had won a big stage race several times called Tour Encaisseur des Lézards and was training for the 24 Hours of Le Mans bike race. Frexit won that race last year, by the way, destroying his competition by a huge margin as he came in first among over 3,800 insane people.

In the process, Frexit became known as a terror on two wheels, riding crazy distances at crazy speeds, and more importantly, showing up at our local training crit to give us all a chance to take selfies with him and sit on his wheel for half a lap or so. In 2017 he returns to Le Mans as defending insane person and with the twin goals of winning again and cracking the mythical 900km mark over a twenty-four hour period. Naturally, we’ve been helping him at Telo by offering up copious quantities of fresh seal pelts for repeated clubbing.

Best of all, you can be part of Evens’s 2017 Le Mans quest on Wednesday, August 16, when he will be out at Westchester Parkway doing a tune-up ride from 6:00 AM until about 5:00 PM. In order to simulate the attacks and surges of the race, Frexit has kindly invited other cyclists to come out for any period of time to ride with him and spice things up. It should be about as fun as having rusty nails pounded up into your gums, maybe more.

But as long as you get a few selfies to show to your friends, it will all be worth it. See you there. Briefly.

END

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Idiot gets ticket punched

August 2, 2017 § 26 Comments

Almost two months ago I wrote about James Doyle, local buffoon, jerk, kook, pinhead, fool, tool, dunderhead, tosser, wanker, clod, goof, whackjob, lameass, numbskull, numbnuts, jackass, and all-round horrible person, and I wrote about him here.

James knocked down John Walsh in a bike race. John got badly hurt. A video camera captured James’s maneuver. A hue-and-cry ensued. And yesterday USAC suspended Doyle for one year and put him on the Bad Boy List. This basically means that if he pulls this crap again he can have his license revoked, even if it happens in a non-competitive venue.

Since I know the victim personally it feels really good to learn that the aggressor got punished. A lot of people think the punishment wasn’t nearly stiff enough, and they’re right. I was suspended for a year back in 1986 for simply cursing out the officials and writing mean letters to the USCF protesting my punishment. If you could get a year’s suspension for causing butthurt, you should be able to get a lifetime ban for almost killing someone.

Still, it’s progress after a fashion. Who can forget the way that USAC has historically ignored this type of attack? In 2011, Rahsaan Bahati was deliberately crashed out at the Dana Point Grand Prix. The video is breathtaking. After being knocked down, Bahati, the victim, was fined and suspended for throwing his glasses at the pack in anger. Rest assured that USAC didn’t take two months to render its decision.

The rider who crashed Bahati out received no penalty at all, even though the whole thing was on video and is one of the most brazen examples of evil and malicious bike riding I had ever seen prior to the Doyle takedown. Check the video here if you don’t believe me. Seconds 39-42 are unbelievable, but not as unbelievable as the fact that the rider who got punished was Bahati.

 

In any event, it’s encouraging to see that USAC is finally willing to take some responsibility for policing the hostile and dangerous riders in its ranks; what’s discouraging is that there is hardly anyone left anymore in the ranks. The Doyle-Walsh takedown sent a loud message to racers, and a screamingly loud message to their significant others: It’s not worth it. Doyle may have a year off the bike, but Walsh has injuries that will take a very long time to heal.

Those grand fondues and fun rides keep looking better. And better. And better.

END

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