Poke the bear

October 11, 2019 § 6 Comments

There are lots of rules in cycling. One of those rules is, “In the sprunt, get out of the way.”

This is the rule for 99% of riders. If you are not leading someone out or getting ready to unleash your killer sprunt, you are in the way. You are a “clogstacle.”

As a career clogstacle, I understand how this works. On the last lap of the NPR #fakerace, I tenaciously grab the wheel of EA Sports, Inc. People try to horn in but I elbow them out of the way.

With 1k to go the pace goes from torrid to unbearable. People are now fighting like mad for any shelter from the wind and are ready to kill in order to latch onto the wheel of EA Sports, Inc.

This is when I stand up, take my briefcase off the overhead rack, and quietly shuffle to the back of the bus while the real racers do their thing, i.e. risk death and catastrophic injury for the massive jolt of hormones that are released when you kill the mastodon with your sharpened stick.

Fortunately, there is constant churn at the #fakerace, and someone is always having to learn the Rule of Clogstacles. Last Tuesday the scholar-in-training was Aaron Somebody in a USC team kit.

There were a mere 400 meters to go and hardly anyone was left in the tattered front group. EA Sports, Inc., was locked onto the wheel of Dante Young as Davy Dawg wrapped it up so that the tires were whining like a cur getting beaten with an iron rod.

At this very inopportune moment, the USC rider decided that where he really wanted to be was where EA Sports, Inc. was, and physics not readily allowing two bodies to occupy Dante’s wheel at the same time, USC Boy did what any self-respecting sprunter would do. He leaned into EA Sports, Inc. to nudge him off the wheel.

Unfortunately, dense masses of muscle and ice cream do not nudge easily, and EA Sports, Inc. nudged back, sending USC Boy off on a somewhat different line of travel.

Undeterred, USC Boy came back to the buffet line to see if he could get another helping. This time the nudge was more of a hard bang, but dense muscle and ice cream and a 20-lb. weight advantage and a 150-lb. meanness advantage weren’t impressed.

EA Sports, Inc. moved his bars forward and then drifted back a few inches so that now the two gentlemen’s handlebars were locked together. “What do you think you’re doing?” EA Sports, Inc. politely inquired.

“That’s my wheel,” USC Boy said.

“I don’t see your name on it,” EA Sports, Inc. replied.

As the speed hit the mid-30’s and the actual sprunt was about to occur, and as EA Sports, Inc. was in the clear position to slightly twiggle his bars and send USC boy somersaulting atop the pavement, USC Boy relaxed on the pedals, the bars unhooked, and EA Sports, Inc. went flying around Dante for the immortal, unforgettable, legendarily mythic NPR #fakerace #fakewin.

I quit observing, folded up my Hubble telescope, and caught up to the scraggle at the light. EA Sports, Inc. and USC Boy were having what is often called an animated discussion but in cycling means “almost coming to blows” about who did what when how and why.

USC Boy tried to explain that he wanted to improve, that he was seeking instruction from the master, that he only wanted to rectify misunderstandings, but at the same time was insisting that EA Sports, Inc. had opened up a bit of a gap that he was merely trying to exploit.

“Dude,” EA Sports, Inc. said, “there was a massive gap all right.” He pointed his thumb at me. “But it wasn’t at the sharp end of the spear.”

USC Boy considered that for a moment, nodded, and went off to the university for what was presumably his second round of schooling for the day.

END


Cheaper than a Lambo!

Dogpile

June 5, 2018 § 7 Comments

It is very hard to beat EA Sports, Inc. in a bicycle race. There are a lot of reasons for this, but here are the main ones:

  1. Ninja pack awareness and handling.
  2. Knows how to hurt.
  3. 1500 watts on the flop.

At today’s Telo #fakerace, we had about twenty-five members of Team Lizard Collectors and a smattering of other riders. As we did the first courtesy lap I advised my fellow collectors that “We need to attack early and often, and sit the fuck up if EA Sports, Inc. is with you, or bridges, because we couldn’t generate 1500 sprint watts if we pooled the output of our five fastest lizards.”

The attacks came early and often, and at ten minutes in I shouted at Pornstache to “Hit it!”

He didn’t really know what I meant, or he didn’t think I was talking to him, or he thought it was another diabolical Wanky trick to get him to expend a bunch of energy to my sole benefit, but after the fourth yell, he stood up and went.

Pornstache has the acceleration of a fully loaded bus going up a steep grade, but once he hits a certain speed he launches like an exploding zit, and it happened into the headwind. Everyone was winded from the wind except for Medium Banana, who hopped on.

The Hun was dawdling at the front; he’s one of the strongest lizard collectors we have. “Go, Hun!” I shouted, and while everyone gasped, the Hun jumped, caught on and pedaled away.

EA Sports, Inc. saw the gap, and saw it grow. Magically, all 300 lizard collectors sat up. No one chased. Were we witnessing the mythical #fakerace unicorn … of … team tactics?

The handful of nonaligned riders, including Greensox, tried to make common cause, but Team Lizard Collectors marked every move, chased every attack, and interfered with every organized chase. I felt kind of bad, riding like a complete wanking clogstacle until I reflected that I am in fact just that, and even more importantly, Team Lizard Collectors was finally going to pull off the unbelievable: A #fakerace win through teamwork, wits, and the Jack from Illinois (not his real name) technique of “work together.”

Despite a dozen or so 1,000-watt efforts, EA Sports, Inc., finally resigned himself to the field sprint. I had my post-race apology well burnished by the time the race ended and the three-man break finished with a solid 20-second gap on the field: “Hey, buddy, sorry to ride like a worthless wheelsucking POS clogstacle, but it’s about time that Team Lizard Collectors won a Telo #fakerace. We need this for our team.”

I figured he’d say something like, “Whatever, dude,” but instead what he said was “Uh, I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think what?” I said, having delivered my speech perfectly.

“I don’t think you guys won.”

“We didn’t?”

“No, man, Medium Banana dusted your two guys in the sprint like a housewife working a rugbeater.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I’m not.”

I looked over at Medium Banana, who had the look on his face of, what’s that called? A winner.

END

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The seven stages of Telo

June 28, 2017 § 6 Comments

It was a nasty little evening. Hot. Windy. And a full roster of seal clubbers … Frexit … EA Sports … Tothenstein … Destroyer … the Hun … Heavy D. … Bader the Bad … Alx Bns … various members of Team Lizard Collectors … various members of Le Bleu Blow …

And then we started. Lap One, chatty, easy, leg-stretchy.

Lap Two, Frexit attack, four-man break for three laps.

Lap Six, absorbed by the gassed wankoton.

Lap Seven, a handful of weak accelerations.

Lap Eight, Frexit attack, shattered the already broken field, and the six-wanker break was firmly established, quickly putting 1:30 on the crushed and hope-deprived chasers. The break consisted of Frexit, Tothenstein, Destroyer, EA Sports Inc., Bader the Bad, and Wanky.

After we settled in, Bader the Bad began shirking pulls. I rode up to him. “Dude,” I said.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“This six-man break only has room for one worthless, weak, lazy, scheming, shirking, no-good piece-of-dung rider. And that rider is me. Everyone else, especially the 19-year-old unemployed dude who isn’t in school and who rides full time, has to take their fuggin’ turn at the front.”

Bader the Bad shrugged and took a half-hearted pull before going to the back of the bus. EA Sports, Inc. was none too pleased, and he showed his displeasure with a 1500-watt explosion that detonated the breakaway. We struggled up to his wheel, and he swung over. Everyone made it across except for The Bad, who was kicked out the back like a reporter at a White House press conference and sent to the chase group to reflect on his errant ways.

However, what looked like a race that would end up pitting EA Sports, Inc. against Frexit and Tothenstein in a sprunt finish, was not to be.

Various lapped members of Le Bleu Blow fell in with the chasers and it was all legs on deck as Heavy D., the Hun, and Alx Bns undertook Mission Highly Unlikely: Bring back the break! With Foxy whispering the gap times so that it sometimes sounded like we were 50 seconds up and other times 5 seconds down, disarray reigned as everyone waited in vain for Frexit to tow us around at 30 mph.

The Hun and Heavy D. bridged across with three laps to go, and then the entire remnants of the chase caught back on. Everyone sighed as we waited for the “new” formulation of the race finish, which would, instead of pitting EA Sports, Inc. against Frexit and Tothenstein in a sprunt finish, would now pit EA Sports, Inc. against Frexit and Tothenstein in a sprunt finish.

With half a lap to go, Heavy D. and the Hun tiredly put a few bike lengths on the twelve-man wankoton, but no one cared. The real finish would unquestionably involve Frexit, EA Sports, Inc., and Tothenstein.

As we rounded the last corner and Frexit opened up the sprunt, a wave of terror spread through the field! Heavy D. and the Hun were still out front, if only by a few yards! Even the rockets of the fast finishers weren’t enough to close the gap, with the Hun pipping Heavy D. for the glorious win and the adulation of three people, especially me.

As we sat around and moped, complaining about how unfair it was that a group of chasers rode smart, worked together, never gave up, utilized the efforts of the Hop-in-Wankers, reeled in the break, then countered and won in a bold move, it occurred to Foxy that we were in fact going through the seven stages of Telo grief, set forth below.

  1. SHOCK & DENIAL. You will react with numbed disbelief as you witness the field shatter on Lap Two, and you, of all people, get kicked to the curb despite your awesomeness. You will deny that they are faster than you and that the group is gone for good. You will be shocked that you drove all the way down from Santa Monica only to participate for five minutes. You will deny that your poor training, absence of stamina, weak resolve, and general worthlessness had anything to do with it. You will tell yourself that “It’s all coming back together in a lap or two and I’ll have a second chance!”
  2. PAIN & GUILT. You will feel excruciating pain everywhere and feel profound guilt at having abandoned your work and family obligations simply to get your head staved in and your precious seal pelt stripped shamelessly from your back. If you are in the break you will feel pain at sitting on Frexit’s wheel and feel waves of guilt at being a leech who sits on the back doing nothing (unless you are The Bad). The pain will crescendo if you’re in the chase and people begin berating you or worse, attacking you and causing you to utterly fail and get lapped.
  3. ANGER & BARGAINING. You will shout back at your oppressors and strike crude bargains in the break to allow them to allow you to hang on. “I promise I won’t sprint,” “I’ll give you ten bucks,” “Do you like my wife?” and other nonsensical trades will be offered, all of which will be ignored. If you are in the third chase group or have been lapped you will feel rage at everyone who races by. If you are in the first chase you will feel fury at those whose inattentiveness allowed that fuggin’ break to roll away.
  4. DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS. After doing five laps solo you will feel sad, very sad, and people standing on the sidelines will note your sad facial expressions. You will reflect on the stupidity of the endeavor, the slowness of your legs, the dullness of your talents, and the incredible stupidity of spending $2,000 on full carbon wheels, made 100% of pure carbon, only to get dropped five minutes into a training race, which is itself an oxymoron. If you are one of the chasers you will feel great loneliness as you do all the work and your wheelsucking chasemates wait for the opportunity to dump you and bridge solo to the break.
  5. THE UPWARD TURN. Now the chasers will catch sight of the break! Suddenly it will all make sense. You were doing this for a reason! The carbon wheels and 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit were worth it! Your wheelsucker douchebag chasemates are pals after all! Just a few more laps and you’ll have reeled them in!
  6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH. Now the breakaway, caught, gassed, and thoroughly chastened, works through the steps that led to its demise. What could we have done better? Why did we start soft pedaling? Now that we’re all back together, it’s time for a new strategy. Perhaps it’s time to do some more TT intervals or buy a different (but more costly) set of carbon wheels that are 100% carbon. Hey, it’s only a training race.
  7. ACCEPTANCE. Everything happens for a reason. The Hun is a sorry sonofabitch but he rode tough and outsmarted everyone. That bastard Heavy D. acts friendly but is actually a badass. It’s okay to lose sometimes. I am who I am. Telo is Telo. Plus, just wait til I get that shipment from China. Then I will flay some sealskins for realz.

END

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South Bay round-up

May 17, 2016 § 8 Comments

Lots happening in the South Bay and environs, especially, say, France.

  1. How do you say “asskicking” in French? Big Orange rider and French transplant Evens Stievenart won the Route de l’Oise, a stage race just north of Paris that has over 200 racers and that includes the town of Compiègne, best known as the starting city for Paris-Roubaix. Evens is best known in the South Bay for riding everyone off his wheel on training rides; what’s less known is that he has only been racing for six years and already has close to 50 Cat 2 wins in France to go along with his most important victory, a win at the local Telo training crit a couple of weeks ago. Congrats, Evens!
  2. Blazingly fast! VC La Grange junior rider Ivy Koester won a state crit title at Barrio Logan Grand Prix on May 8. She is super fast, super smart, and has one of those smiles that let you know she’s having fun.
  3. I’ll have some victory on those pancakes, thanks. Southbay Wheelmen might consider changing its name to “Wheelwomen” thanks to junior rider Makayla Macpherson, who continued her batteringly good year in Bakersfield a couple of weekends ago, winning the Jumpstart crit, the road race, and then placing second in the women’s open 3/4 San Luis Rey road race. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that she’s 13.
  4. For a fistful of dollars. Big Orange junior  Bąđĕŕ Āqîł got his first race win on the challenging tough guy course out at Rosena Ranch this past weekend. Hats off to a dedicated and hardworking young man.
  5. Over the moon. Swami’s junior racer Ryder Moon Phillips picked up two more wins in what has been a breakout year, with victories in the time trial and crit at the Kern County Stage Race. We’re all looking forward to more great things from a talented competitor.
  6. The nerds strike back! Local South Bay riders were assaulted by a cager in a McLaren and they took what is now becoming the default defense for cyclists who are fed up with the casual violence directed against them: They went to the police, in this case the Palos Verdes Estates PD, and filed a complaint. The police not only took them seriously, but they opened an investigation. This clown’s world is about to get a lot more complicated. Please take a minute to read this post to see what you can do to defend yourself when you’ve been buzzed with a deadly weapon.
  7. Return of EA Sports, Inc. Rumor has it that the most feared sprunter in the South Bay, and the nicest guy anywhere, Eric A., is back on his bike after rebuilding his house from the nails up. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
  8. Watering the grass. Joe Yule of StageOne Sports, a company otherwise known for making the best fitting, most comfortable, most stylish apparel in the cycling world (go suck an egg Rapha, ThorfinnDopesquatch, etc.), has single-handedly revived the venerable Torrance institution of the Telo training crit by posting a leaderboard, keeping track of finishes, rustling up sponsorship with the generous help of Dave Perez and Samsung, and has now even created a weekly winner’s jersey (I wear a men’s S, thanks). Telo now regularly hosts the best riders in the South Bay, including Evens S., Smasher Alverson, Derek the Destroyer, Paul Che, and any day now, YOU.
  9. People who make a difference. If you don’t know Joann Zwagerman, you will. A California native, she has come back home from the East Coast and thoroughly embraced cycling. She has singlehandedly created rides that focus on fun, friendliness, and welcoming people regardless of ability (whatever that is) who share the passion to pedal. Her legendary FDR Saturday ride in the South Bay, a wholesome alternative to the Donut Ride, is massive and actually features real donuts. More than that, her smile, her selflessness, her pro knack at getting the best selfie angles, her toughness (did the BWR Wafer ride without a hitch and finished it smiling!), and her willingness to help get done whatever needs doing are unmatched. One Joann has sent out ripples of kindness and enthusiasm that have, at last count, touched thousands.

END

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A bad time gone worse

October 30, 2014 § 17 Comments

For three years we enjoyed the New Pier Ride. But last week, a mortal blow was dealt to this mainstay morning ride in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Massive construction along Westchester Parkway meant that in addition to the normal avoidance of cars, crap in the road, and other bikers, we had to negotiate giant earthmoving equipment, massive trenches, construction workers, steel plates, ripped up pavement, plastic cones, and an entire parkway shrunk down to one tiny, narrow lane.

Many people, including me, decided that they would be taking a hiatus from the Tuesday-Thursday beatdown until the construction was finished. Some folks suggested a return to the Old Pier Ride, a classic urban fustercluck that included countless stoplights, lots of aggro morning commuters, and a deathly, screaming pedal along a narrow bike path in the marina.

Naaaah.

Then I got a note from Junkyard. It said something like, “Yo, Wanky. New route on Thursday around the golf course in PV. Four laps. Neutral descent. Finish on La Cuesta, with its 3-minute, 15% grade. Be there.”

At first it seemed crazy simply because it is so different from the NPR, which is flat. The loop around the golf course has three short, very punchy climbs, and that’s the opposite of what NPR aficionados want. In fact, the NPR is a place where pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness, can hang on due to the sucking draft of the 80+ riders barreling along a wide, flat parkway.

The illness of Junkyard’s route was that there would be nowhere to hide. The climbs weren’t long enough to select for “climbers,” but they weren’t easy enough to let the big and the lazy simply cruise over the difficulties by leveraging position and momentum.

At 6:35 AM we rolled out from Malaga Cove. One or two geniuses had left their headlights at home, but no matter. The crew consisted of Junkyard, Toronto, Tumbleweed, EA Sports, Inc., Cookie, Davy, Tregillis, South Bay Baby Seal, and me. “Let’s ride the first two laps neutral until we’re familiar with the course,” Junkyard advised.

We did in fact start at a neutral pace, but a hundred yards in we were going full-gas up PV North. Cookie made a groaning noise and popped. The next time anyone saw him, he was hanging over his top tube in the parking lot with his eyes spinning backwards in his head. When we crested the third and final riser at the golf course on lap one, only three riders were left. We regrouped and did another lap.

This time Davy and a couple of others opened a gap on PV North. Toronto closed the gap and then made an opportunistic attack at the bottom of the last climb. But then the transmission fell out of his chassis, a rod when flying through his engine block, and we didn’t see him again for a while.

By the end of the third lap Tumbleweed and Cookie had left in order to [go to work/ ride according to their proper off-season training plan/ do yoga]. Junkyard was shelled. Toronto was shelled. I was cracked.

On the final lap we hit the first climb up PV Drive hard. Then on Via Campesina, EA Sports, Inc. accelerated. Davy had taken a sabbatical and now I was about to do the same. Tregillis rolled by to bridge and I clawed onto his wheel. EA Sports, Inc. made it first to the top of the golf course, but unfortunately we had the beast of La Cuesta waiting. Tregillis hit the ascent and floated away, then caught EA Sports, Inc., and kept on floating.

I was so blown that even with EA Sports, Inc. paperboying up the climb I still couldn’t catch him. Atop La Cuesta we struggled and gasped and heaved.

Toronto joined us after a while. “My cleat kept wanting to come out of the pedal so I had to pedal just right,” he said, implying that but for the cleat issue things might have ended differently. Then he added, “Plus, I already rode hard and did some big climbs before we started.”

Junkyard trailed in, face and chest covered in sheet snot, eyes crossed, and strange sounds coming out of his mouth that sounded like English as it is spoken by wildebeests.

After a few moments we all agreed that it was a great course except that no one would ever want to do it. “Can you imagine the NPR crew showing up for this?” asked Junkyard.

“No,” I said. “I can’t.”

“And the whole thing was only 36 minutes,” he said. “Next week we’ll add two more laps. But the first lap will be neutral.”

We all looked at each other.

“Really,” said. “It will.”

END

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