How hard WAS it?

February 19, 2016 § 11 Comments

I was talking with Major Bob about road racing the other day. “It’s funny,” I said. “The races that we profamateurs admire the most are the really hard races. Flanders. Roubaix. The Tour. But when it comes to actually doing hard races, people flock to crits and avoid the monsters like UCLA, Boulevard, Tuttle Creek, and anything that says ‘NorCal’ … why?”

“Because people,” said Major without missing a beat “don’t like to work.”

“Really? Like Congress?”

“Look at the peloton. Same old faces taking the hard hits, making things happen, riding the breaks, while everyone else kind of hangs around towards the back hoping they get lucky.”

That reminded me of a day-long argument I had with G3, followed by several terabytes of email discussion in which we fought tooth and kneecap over whether the leaky prostate 45+ category at UCLA was harder than the Cat 3 race.

“Dude,” I said. “The fuggin’ old farts’ race had a faster overall time, ergo harder. Plus, THOG.”

“Nope,” he said, after analyzing various sections of the course for different racers who’d won their category. “The Cat 3’s climbed faster on two of the laps. Old farts were faster overall, but Cat 3’s suffered more, ergo harder.”

“How can you say they suffered more? They are all young and stupid and recover in 30 seconds and can enjoy conjugal relations the night after the race. That’s not suffering. Suffering is being a worn out shoe, getting stuffed in the box, staying there for 2.5 hours, then drinking Alleve six times a day for the next week until you can get out of bed without groaning.”

The argument was put to rest by Leibert, the guy who actually won the race, and his logic was impeccable. “Would you two please shut up?”

It is kind of odd when you think about it. Road races, especially hilly ones, may be harder to finish in terms of watts and carbon and weight weenies and 100% carbon wheels and Chris T. doing a 50-mile race on half a water bottle to save a few grams.

But crits are more difficult to win because they require actual bicycling skills like cornering, positioning, maneuvering in tight places, timing, fakery, coordination with teammates except for Prez, preening, fist-pumping, and cauterized nerves in the finale. So you could argue that as a complete package, crit racing is actually harder.

Then I got a great idea. Why not call up Filds? It was 2:00 AM, which meant it was only 4:00 AM in Milwaukee. With any luck he’d still be on the third bottle of Cutty.

“Hey, man, it’s me, Seth.”

“What do you want?”

“Is it harder to win road races or crits?” Filds had won them all.

“You called me at four in the morning to ask me that?”

“It’s for the blog, dude.”

He chewed his cud for a second. “Listen up.”

I listened.

“There’s no such thing as an easy win.”



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Please, insult my religion

September 20, 2012 § 26 Comments

There’s been a lot of fuss about criticizing religions lately, so I thought I’d offer up mine. Go ahead and laugh or call it stupid or whatever. It won’t bother me at all.

1: In the beginning Dog created the bike and the road.

2: And the road was without stoplights, and traffic; and darkness was upon the faces of the murderous drivers on their way to church. And the Spirit of Dog moved upon the pedals.

3: And Dog said, Let there be lycra: and there was lycra.

4: And Dog saw the lycra, that it was good and tight: and Dog divided the lycra from the darkness.

5: And Dog called the lycra Kit, and the baggy pants he called Fred. And the jogging shorts and the saggy athletic socks were the first object of his derision.

6: And Dog said, Let there be thighs in the midst of the lycra, and let them divide the wankers from the peloton.

7: And Dog made the peloton, and divided the wankers which were hanging on for dear life from the peloton: and it was called Off the Back.

8: And Dog called off the back Purgatory. And the group ride was on the second day.

9: And Dog said, Let the cyclists be gathered together unto one place of abundant coffee and jelly donuts, and let hammers appear: and it was so.

10: And Dog called the hammers Leaders of the Pack; and the gathering together of the wankers called he Category 5: and Dog saw that it was good as long as they didn’t go too far forward and gap everyone out.

11: And Dog said, Let the group ride bring forth pain, the pain yielding misery, and the misery yielding defeat, whose seed is pain itself, so that it may beginneth all over again: and it was so.

12: And the group ride brought forth pain, and pain yielding misery, and the misery yielding defeat especially when the road tilteth up, whose seed was in itself pain, after his kind: and Dog foresaw a vast market for nutritional supplements.

13: And the USCF races were the third day.

14: And Dog said, Let there be wankers in the peloton so deluded as to think they have a chance of victory, and let them and their entry fees be for the beer money and rent of Charon and Meeker and Rudy:

15: And let them be purchasers of aero wheelsets and bladed spokes and other overpriced gewgaws: and it was so.

16: And Dog made two great tours ; the greater tour to rule the French, and the lesser tour to rule the Italians: he made Flanders also, that even the slow-witted Belgians would also have a field of battle upon which they might win.

17: And Dog set in the roadways of Flanders and Northern France great cobbles, to give misery and suffering untold upon the pedalers,

18: And to rule over the cobbles and the French and the Italians, and to divide the bull from the shit, Dog created Merckx: and Dog saw that it was good.

19: And the circular road made of wooden planking were the fourth day.

20: And Dog said, Let the circular planking bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life but no brain other than to ride in circles, and fly around the planking like a complete imbecile, and they shall be called Trackies.

21: And the rock and tree studded mountain were the fifth day. And Dog created insane creatures minute of brain, who hurled splattingly into the trees and rocks without thought down the great mountains, which the mountains brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fool after his kind: and Dog saw that it was good.

22: And Dog blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and multiply over and over, and over and over, as ye Bikers of the Mountain will for the most part have thy brains dashed against the stones and require much and frequent replacement, and he made them the most fecund of all.

23: And the pit of mud and barriers of wood and rope were the fifth day.

24: And Dog said, Let these living creature be the dumbest of all, and the creepingest of all things, and beasts of the earth who shall half-run, half-cycle in a stupor of pain: and it was so.

25: And Dog made the ‘cross racer after his kind, smallest brained of all his creatures: and God saw that while it was good, it wasn’t as good as the others, but it was already Friday and he was getting tired.

26: And Dog said, Let us make cyclists in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the roads, and over the angry motorists en route to church, and over the drunken truckers, and over all the traffic police, and over every stop sign and traffic control signal upon the earth.

27: So Dog created cyclists in his own image, in the image of Dog created he them; male and female he created alike except that the female was much cuter to observe from the rear.

28: And Dog blessed them, and Dog said unto them, Wear helmets, and lights at night, and replenish the energy drink when it runneth low in the bottle, and subdue the wankers who are overconfident: and have dominion over the race officials who judge but dare not race themselves, and over Officer Knox, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth but most especially thy non-cycling spouse who would withhold precious gold for purchase of badly needed powermeters and such.

29: And Dog said, Behold, I have given you every bicycle, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every wheelset and electronic shifter, in the which is the path of least rolling resistance; to you it shall be to pedal.

30: And to every chubby motorist who commuteth in a rage, and to every traffic jam, and to every thing that creepeth slowly upon the 405, wherein there is only a semblance of life, I have given every cyclist superiority over thee: and it was so.

31: And Dog saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good, especially when washed down with a craft beer brewed in small batches. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day, and Dog created the hangover.

32: Thus the bikes and the roads and the mountains and the tracks and the mud pits were finished, and all the host of cyclists too lazy to work but full of energy to ride, of them.

33: And on the seventh day Dog ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

34: And Dog blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work and recovered from his hangover of the fifth day and was now ready for the group ride.

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