Wankmeister cycling clinic #31: 7 habits of successful masters racers

January 20, 2019 § 6 Comments

I came across this excellent bit of racing advice that every aspiring masters racer will do well to peruse, then peruse again. It contains many important secrets to help you achieve your silly delusions athletic goals.

However, there are seven OTHER habits of successful masters racers that are just as important as the ones cited in this article, perhaps more so. Wanky lays it out there for your benefit, ‘cuz no one else will.

  1. Drugs. Winners cheat, and cheatin’s the new black, so wear your cheat with pride, like a Kayle LeoGrande full body tat.
  2. Fashun. You can lose the race and still win the runway. In other words, if every day ain’t New Kit Day, you’re spending way too much money on junior’s college education.
  3. The ‘Bag. You can lose the race but you cain’t ever lose the #socmed throwdown. With the right camera angle you can make that 2-second pull you took going into turn four on the third lap look just as juicy as the dogs who were actually sprinting for the win, 45 minutes later.
  4. Stuff. You can lose the race, but you better not lose it with last year’s neutronium frame and nuclear fusion-powered drivetrain. Whatever drops in December better be bolted on and powered up when you pin on the number in January. Losing’s cool. Looking like a loser ain’t.
  5. Scusifying. No one loses who has a great excuse, and you’ll be rolling up to the line already blabbing about your season-ending case of gonorrheal gingivitis. “Just here to support the team with my doping violations,” a/k/a Strickie, yo.
  6. Micro-fields. Y’know how you’re a Cat 1 but haven’t entered a Cat 1 race since 1997? Don’t let higher math trick you into doing a race that matches your category. Instead, find the oldest races with the tiniest fields, get on the podie in a field of four, and turn that shit into ‘Bag-‘Gram gold. Wanky has done that hisself more times than he can count.
  7. Thassit. There ain’t no number seven. You lock up 1-6 and you have your masters career soiled. I mean nailed. Down.

_______________________________

END

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

———————–

It’s called “the truth” because it usually hurts. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

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

———————–

It’s called “the truth” because it usually hurts. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

The root of all evil is not enough money

October 16, 2015 § 35 Comments

People wonder why masters racers have hijacked SoCal amateur bike racing, as shown by the incredible explosion of anger over the burning question of the day:

  1. Should masters categories be 35/45/55? OR
  2. Should masters categories be 40/50/60?

Wrinkly trinket-hungry cyclists went ballistic over this life-or-death issue and forced the opaque, shifty-eyed, self-serving SCNCA board to hold an emergency late night telephone conference, reverse their earlier vote, and then come up with a new vote that satisfied the angriest of the old people who, by the way, were angry indeed.

So now bike racing has been saved. Horrible declines in participation, non-attendance by anyone other than angry S/O’s and resentful children, fewer races, and a smaller pie to squabble over are all going to be remedied because the needs of several hundred greedy trinket hunters have been shifted down five years. Riiiiiiight.

Showing how inane the whole thing is, one upset fellow posted that since he’s going to soon be thirty, “WHAT ABOUT ME?” This perspective perfectly defines the modern masters racer: The unfairness of it all! 30-year-olds having to race with 20-somethings! Pretty soon the 12-year-olds will be outraged that they’re racing with the thirteen-ers, and so on down to swaddling diaper pre-racers.

None of this is surprising because the only thing on offer in bicycle racing nowadays is  the faux glory of a few seconds on an ugly podium, hands raised in a stupid salute, a quick posting of the photo on ‘Bag and ‘Gram, and a 5,000-lb. bag of entitlement.

No one’s fighting for money because there is none. The best racer in America, Daniel Holloway, goes from year to year without any long term security even though he wins more big races in a season than any other elite US pro will win their entire career. What would Rahsaan Bahati’s pro career have looked like if he’d made six figures as a bike racer? Why is Hilton Clarke looking for work?

If there were money on offer for actual bike racers, cycling would be a different game. People who could make a living at bike racing would throw the dice and try it as a career, the pool of athletes would grow, and the ripple effect of more races, more spectators, more sponsors, more fans, and more junior racers would grow the sport. It would take several years, but a million dollars on offer in prize money each year in SoCal would turn the region into a global center of cycling.

“A million dollars????” I can hear the screeching laughter now. What a ridiculous idea! What an absurd amount of money? For prizes that go to actual BIKE RACERS? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?

Yes, but that will never happen of course. The people who have a million dollars to invest aren’t about to put it into the checking accounts of cardboard box-dwelling bike racers because it’s not an investment, at least in the sense that they’ll ever get their money back. It’s more of a Bernie Madoff type investment, and they’d rather have a new beautiful second home, a new airplane, a new boat, or a new investment vehicle that will turn the million into multiples of a million. And no group of ten affluent cyclists would dream of kicking in $100k each to revolutionize the sport. It’s not for a shortage of dollars, though, you can be sure of that. We ride with stock brokers, real estate moguls, millionaire lawyers, independently wealthy businessmen, super rich doctors, and a variety of people for whom a hundred thousand bucks would mean absolutely nothing at all to their big picture or even their small one.

As a case in point, the suckers who dumped $19 million into the USA Pro Challenge wound up with the same raw assholes of everyone else who tries to fund the sport through the well oiled USAC graft machine. The money goes everywhere except to the one place that matters most: The hands of the men and women who turn the pedals. As soon as you pump money into an event or a team, it gets hoovered up immediately by everyone except the riders, who are expected to ride for free or close to it, and be damned glad of it.

The sad thing is that the donor/investor always has good intentions; he wants the sport to prosper. But as long as the employees who make the show happen are starved, insecure, broke, living at home, and paying for health insurance through Medi-Cal, it never ever will. There may be a sucker born every minute, but they play the lottery or go to Vegas. Hardly anyone is a big enough gambler to stake a career on bikes.

And why should donors pour money into the sport they profess to love? What has cycling as an organized activity ever done for anybody? Because of USA Cycling’s pervasive and long-term support of doping, cheating, and shunting rider funds to programs run from Colorado Springs, the governing body is toothless, stupid, greedy, lazy, and mean. It hates grass roots wankers with big bellies (the guys who fill the lower ranks and pay the salaries in ‘Springs), and it thumbs its nose at any pretend racer who doesn’t hit “the right numbers.”

And that’s why Strava is so devastating. It provides competition and it provides value; USAC provides limited competition, and does so at ridiculous cost with zero financial reward. Our recent survey showed that, surprise, people are afraid of crashing. No fucking shit? You mean people are afraid of falling off their bike at 30 and getting their balls run over by ten other riders? Who’d be afraid of that? Worst that can happen is that you die, dude. Man up.

By choking development, ignoring obvious problems, and by creating a culture that makes any potential investor loathe them, USAC is now having the rotten, digested fruits of its corrupt labor shoved down its throat in the form of lower numbers, lower license revenue, lower salaries for the staff who grew up living on Lance and who are now finding out that in addition to being petty and greedy, the masters racers now calling the shot are all that’s left and they happen to be the cheapest most cantankerous bastards alive. I know I am.

And now the new godfather of USAC has declared that the organization will never hire another doper, but he’s silent about what really matters: How is he going to put money into the hands of the people who race bikes? How is he going to make any rational person want to take a chance on the sport? No answers there, sorry.

So it’s left to a handful of leathernecked race promoters to develop a profitable system with no support, no investment, no safety net, and no incentive to hang onto the few races we do have. The reward from USAC? Paying more fees, of course. Bet you didn’t know that the bigger your prize list, the more the promoter pays USAC, did you?

The other reward is having their paying customers, the cranky and greedy and perennially dissatisfied old farts, clamor and complain when races are set up that don’t revolve around them. Young racers are filled with loathing at the actions of us, their elders, and they either smarten up and go back to school (always the best choice, by the way), or they wait to age-grade up and become the overlords.

Sane parents on the sidelines shake their heads in disbelief and encourage their children to chase his dreams anywhere but in cycling. All of the junior summits and SCNCA board deliberations and age category machinations won’t mean shit until there’s enough money in the sport for athletes to make a living at it. Until then the economic engine will be retail sales of high-end bikes to mid-40-ish people who can afford them, and as long as that demographic powers the engine, USAC and race promoters will do as they’re told.

This bankrupt policy is why so few new riders are coming up. The day’s not far off when the fight over how to split the tiny little masters pie will be a fight over who’s going to promote the three races left on the calendar.

Half of any given masters race has people who make their living through “the industry.” We know where they stand on age categories. What about the same level of activism, backed with money, when it comes to putting dollars into the hands of the young men and women who actually have something called a future?

/END RANT/

The root of all evil is not enough money

October 16, 2015 § 35 Comments

People wonder why masters racers have hijacked SoCal amateur bike racing, as shown by the incredible explosion of anger over the burning question of the day:

  1. Should masters categories be 35/45/55? OR
  2. Should masters categories be 40/50/60?

Wrinkly trinket-hungry cyclists went ballistic over this life-or-death issue and forced the opaque, shifty-eyed, self-serving SCNCA board to hold an emergency late night telephone conference, reverse their earlier vote, and then come up with a new vote that satisfied the angriest of the old people who, by the way, were angry indeed.

So now bike racing has been saved. Horrible declines in participation, non-attendance by anyone other than angry S/O’s and resentful children, fewer races, and a smaller pie to squabble over are all going to be remedied because the needs of several hundred greedy trinket hunters have been shifted down five years. Riiiiiiight.

Showing how inane the whole thing is, one upset fellow posted that since he’s going to soon be thirty, “WHAT ABOUT ME?” This perspective perfectly defines the modern masters racer: The unfairness of it all! 30-year-olds having to race with 20-somethings! Pretty soon the 12-year-olds will be outraged that they’re racing with the thirteen-ers, and so on down to swaddling diaper pre-racers.

None of this is surprising because the only thing on offer in bicycle racing nowadays is  the faux glory of a few seconds on an ugly podium, hands raised in a stupid salute, a quick posting of the photo on ‘Bag and ‘Gram, and a 5,000-lb. bag of entitlement.

No one’s fighting for money because there is none. The best racer in America, Daniel Holloway, goes from year to year without any long term security even though he wins more big races in a season than any other elite US pro will win their entire career. What would Rahsaan Bahati’s pro career have looked like if he’d made six figures as a bike racer? Why is Hilton Clarke looking for work?

If there were money on offer for actual bike racers, cycling would be a different game. People who could make a living at bike racing would throw the dice and try it as a career, the pool of athletes would grow, and the ripple effect of more races, more spectators, more sponsors, more fans, and more junior racers would grow the sport. It would take several years, but a million dollars on offer in prize money each year in SoCal would turn the region into a global center of cycling.

“A million dollars????” I can hear the screeching laughter now. What a ridiculous idea! What an absurd amount of money? For prizes that go to actual BIKE RACERS? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?

Yes, but that will never happen of course. The people who have a million dollars to invest aren’t about to put it into the checking accounts of cardboard box-dwelling bike racers because it’s not an investment, at least in the sense that they’ll ever get their money back. It’s more of a Bernie Madoff type investment, and they’d rather have a new beautiful second home, a new airplane, a new boat, or a new investment vehicle that will turn the million into multiples of a million. And no group of ten affluent cyclists would dream of kicking in $100k each to revolutionize the sport. It’s not for a shortage of dollars, though, you can be sure of that. We ride with stock brokers, real estate moguls, millionaire lawyers, independently wealthy businessmen, super rich doctors, and a variety of people for whom a hundred thousand bucks would mean absolutely nothing at all to their big picture or even their small one.

As a case in point, the suckers who dumped $19 million into the USA Pro Challenge wound up with the same raw assholes of everyone else who tries to fund the sport through the well oiled USAC graft machine. The money goes everywhere except to the one place that matters most: The hands of the men and women who turn the pedals. As soon as you pump money into an event or a team, it gets hoovered up immediately by everyone except the riders, who are expected to ride for free or close to it, and be damned glad of it.

The sad thing is that the donor/investor always has good intentions; he wants the sport to prosper. But as long as the employees who make the show happen are starved, insecure, broke, living at home, and paying for health insurance through Medi-Cal, it never ever will. There may be a sucker born every minute, but they play the lottery or go to Vegas. Hardly anyone is a big enough gambler to stake a career on bikes.

And why should donors pour money into the sport they profess to love? What has cycling as an organized activity ever done for anybody? Because of USA Cycling’s pervasive and long-term support of doping, cheating, and shunting rider funds to programs run from Colorado Springs, the governing body is toothless, stupid, greedy, lazy, and mean. It hates grass roots wankers with big bellies (the guys who fill the lower ranks and pay the salaries in ‘Springs), and it thumbs its nose at any pretend racer who doesn’t hit “the right numbers.”

And that’s why Strava is so devastating. It provides competition and it provides value; USAC provides limited competition, and does so at ridiculous cost with zero financial reward. Our recent survey showed that, surprise, people are afraid of crashing. No fucking shit? You mean people are afraid of falling off their bike at 30 and getting their balls run over by ten other riders? Who’d be afraid of that? Worst that can happen is that you die, dude. Man up.

By choking development, ignoring obvious problems, and by creating a culture that makes any potential investor loathe them, USAC is now having the rotten, digested fruits of its corrupt labor shoved down its throat in the form of lower numbers, lower license revenue, lower salaries for the staff who grew up living on Lance and who are now finding out that in addition to being petty and greedy, the masters racers now calling the shot are all that’s left and they happen to be the cheapest most cantankerous bastards alive. I know I am.

And now the new godfather of USAC has declared that the organization will never hire another doper, but he’s silent about what really matters: How is he going to put money into the hands of the people who race bikes? How is he going to make any rational person want to take a chance on the sport? No answers there, sorry.

So it’s left to a handful of leathernecked race promoters to develop a profitable system with no support, no investment, no safety net, and no incentive to hang onto the few races we do have. The reward from USAC? Paying more fees, of course. Bet you didn’t know that the bigger your prize list, the more the promoter pays USAC, did you?

The other reward is having their paying customers, the cranky and greedy and perennially dissatisfied old farts, clamor and complain when races are set up that don’t revolve around them. Young racers are filled with loathing at the actions of us, their elders, and they either smarten up and go back to school (always the best choice, by the way), or they wait to age-grade up and become the overlords.

Sane parents on the sidelines shake their heads in disbelief and encourage their children to chase his dreams anywhere but in cycling. All of the junior summits and SCNCA board deliberations and age category machinations won’t mean shit until there’s enough money in the sport for athletes to make a living at it. Until then the economic engine will be retail sales of high-end bikes to mid-40-ish people who can afford them, and as long as that demographic powers the engine, USAC and race promoters will do as they’re told.

This bankrupt policy is why so few new riders are coming up. The day’s not far off when the fight over how to split the tiny little masters pie will be a fight over who’s going to promote the three races left on the calendar.

Half of any given masters race has people who make their living through “the industry.” We know where they stand on age categories. What about the same level of activism, backed with money, when it comes to putting dollars into the hands of the young men and women who actually have something called a future?

/END RANT/

The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 13: The sitting muscle

July 8, 2015 § 12 Comments

I don’t know if he ever really said it.

But.

Rich Meeker is supposed to have said something like this: “Masters racers train too hard and ride too much.”

Now, then.

Please check in all nasty comments about Rich at the door to the Internet, or refer to one of my earlier posts and pile on there. Just because someone cheated doesn’t mean they aren’t smart about their sport.

For over 30 years people have been telling me variations of “You train too hard and ride too much,” to which I always politely smiled while thinking, “WTF do you know? Where were you on the Donut Ride?” Right, Elron?

Of course on race day those know-it-alls are on the podium and I’m DNF because “no legs today.”

Turns out, they knew a lot. Masters racers, apparently, train too hard and ride too much. “Oh, yeah?” I can hear you Wankophizing. “Too much for what?”

Too much to do well at races, that’s what.

“Well, who cares about racing?” I can hear you shout back.

“Only the people who pay entry fees and show up to race.” In other words, ME. And YOU.

Of course it doesn’t matter what people say to me. My mind is ten million impermeable layers of granite, especially when it comes to cycling. I know everything, and what I don’t know isn’t worth knowing.

“Yeah,” Fields once said, “but the problem is that what you know isn’t worth knowing either.”

Then one day a very helpful pro (“What does he know?”) suggested that masters racers train too hard and ride too much. I ignored him while nodding wisely in assent.

But something made me listen, even though it was a few weeks after the fact. My 51-year-old body, whose recovery slows each year like a tiny pebble rolling uphill through a massive pit of wet cement, refused one morning to do what I demanded of it.

“I wonder if I’m tired? I mean, like, permanently.” I thought about an old blues musician from New Orleans who, in his 80’s, was asked how he felt as he sat on the corner strumming his guitar. He considered the question briefly, and looked at the eager tourist who was desperate for the aged musician to utter some reaffirming words about a life fulfilled from singing the blues.

“I reckon,” the man said, “that I feel like an old worn out shoe.” Was I, too, becoming a Converse All-Star that had been to one hipster convention too many?

I tried to ride my bike that morning and did so, without vigor. And from that point on I started exercising my sitting muscle. Throughout the race season, which in California runs from January 1 to about December 31, I have only ridden hard once, maximum twice, during the week, to wit:

  • Monday: Nothing or easy pedal
  • Tuesday: One 5-minute effort on the NPR or full gas 1-hour effort
  • Wednesday: Coffee cruise
  • Thursday: 60-minute full-gas Flog Ride, or 60-minute easy pedal depending on what I did on Tuesday
  • Friday: Coffee cruise
  • Saturday: Race or Donut with full sprinkles and choco pain glaze
  • Sunday: Easy Wheatgrass cruise

My results are as follows:

  • Still feel like racing in June, as opposed to weakening in Feb., cratering in Mar., and giving up after the BWR in April.
  • Legs feel fresh
  • Reduced reliance on Chinese doping products
  • A baby’s handful of good race results, i.e. a single top-50 and no crashes

They say less is more, which is definitely not true for money or penis length. But for masters racing, ol’ Meeker the Beaker may have known what he was talking about.

END

————————

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and learn how to be a faster bike rider by not riding. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget to take the 2015 Bike Racing Survey here.

The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 13: The sitting muscle

July 8, 2015 § 12 Comments

I don’t know if he ever really said it.

But.

Rich Meeker is supposed to have said something like this: “Masters racers train too hard and ride too much.”

Now, then.

Please check in all nasty comments about Rich at the door to the Internet, or refer to one of my earlier posts and pile on there. Just because someone cheated doesn’t mean they aren’t smart about their sport.

For over 30 years people have been telling me variations of “You train too hard and ride too much,” to which I always politely smiled while thinking, “WTF do you know? Where were you on the Donut Ride?” Right, Elron?

Of course on race day those know-it-alls are on the podium and I’m DNF because “no legs today.”

Turns out, they knew a lot. Masters racers, apparently, train too hard and ride too much. “Oh, yeah?” I can hear you Wankophizing. “Too much for what?”

Too much to do well at races, that’s what.

“Well, who cares about racing?” I can hear you shout back.

“Only the people who pay entry fees and show up to race.” In other words, ME. And YOU.

Of course it doesn’t matter what people say to me. My mind is ten million impermeable layers of granite, especially when it comes to cycling. I know everything, and what I don’t know isn’t worth knowing.

“Yeah,” Fields once said, “but the problem is that what you know isn’t worth knowing either.”

Then one day a very helpful pro (“What does he know?”) suggested that masters racers train too hard and ride too much. I ignored him while nodding wisely in assent.

But something made me listen, even though it was a few weeks after the fact. My 51-year-old body, whose recovery slows each year like a tiny pebble rolling uphill through a massive pit of wet cement, refused one morning to do what I demanded of it.

“I wonder if I’m tired? I mean, like, permanently.” I thought about an old blues musician from New Orleans who, in his 80’s, was asked how he felt as he sat on the corner strumming his guitar. He considered the question briefly, and looked at the eager tourist who was desperate for the aged musician to utter some reaffirming words about a life fulfilled from singing the blues.

“I reckon,” the man said, “that I feel like an old worn out shoe.” Was I, too, becoming a Converse All-Star that had been to one hipster convention too many?

I tried to ride my bike that morning and did so, without vigor. And from that point on I started exercising my sitting muscle. Throughout the race season, which in California runs from January 1 to about December 31, I have only ridden hard once, maximum twice, during the week, to wit:

  • Monday: Nothing or easy pedal
  • Tuesday: One 5-minute effort on the NPR or full gas 1-hour effort
  • Wednesday: Coffee cruise
  • Thursday: 60-minute full-gas Flog Ride, or 60-minute easy pedal depending on what I did on Tuesday
  • Friday: Coffee cruise
  • Saturday: Race or Donut with full sprinkles and choco pain glaze
  • Sunday: Easy Wheatgrass cruise

My results are as follows:

  • Still feel like racing in June, as opposed to weakening in Feb., cratering in Mar., and giving up after the BWR in April.
  • Legs feel fresh
  • Reduced reliance on Chinese doping products
  • A baby’s handful of good race results, i.e. a single top-50 and no crashes

They say less is more, which is definitely not true for money or penis length. But for masters racing, ol’ Meeker the Beaker may have known what he was talking about.

END

————————

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and learn how to be a faster bike rider by not riding. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget to take the 2015 Bike Racing Survey here.

The decomposing dinosaur

August 15, 2014 § 35 Comments

Word on the street is that USA Cycling has become very concerned about the precipitous drop-off in the number of idiots who participate in masters racing, and they are going to convene some kind of meeting to identify the problems and propose solutions.

That’s too bad. They should have just called me. But since they didn’t, I’ve written this very helpful little post to guide them on their way.

First, let’s understand the landscape of masters racing: It is dead and, like T-rex, is never coming back. Rather, it is laying in a big heap and decomposing while those who can stand the stench still saddle up and pedal around the rotting corpse.

What killed masters racing?

  1. De-innovation. The only difference between bike racing today and bike racing in 1984 is … nothing. Imagine a business model that is the same today, with the identical approach to the customer, service, product, and cost, as it was in 1984. There’s a way to spell the name of companies like that: “b-a-n-k-r-u-p-t.”
  2. Taxation. While the promoters’ and riders’ costs rose, USA Cycling continued to take larger and larger pieces of the pie. That USA Cycling officials are paid even a penny is a sorry joke. They should volunteer and do it for the love of the sport or get the hell out. Oh, wait a minute … what love of the sport? Many of them don’t even ride.
  3. Cost. In 1984 you could race the best equipment for the equivalent of about $4,000 in 2014 dollars — including kit, shoes, spare wheels, and a bike that was essentially unbreakable, with wheels that were likewise difficult to damage. A top race bike now retails for about $9k. Kit and shoes another $1k. Oh, and it’s all disposable and very easily broken. Dog forbid you crash, because those Zipp 808’s retail for about $3k. And let’s not forget tires, which can cost more than new tires for a car and last for a fraction of the time. What business model triples the cost and actually lowers the value to the consumer?
  4. Poverty. In 1984, a solid middle class income was $27,393. In 2014 dollars, that’s $63,019. Today’s middle class income in that same bracket? $64,582. Yep. In thirty years the biggest consumer for bike racing has seen his income go up less than $1,500, while the cost of bike crap has gone up (conservatively) $6,000. Let’s see. Should I pay for food, rent, healthcare, education, or … bike racing? Tough decision for a few. But only a few.
  5. Buzzkill. The professionalization of masters racing has made it very serious. Serious people like to yell and shout and create heaps of drama at races. Not-so-serious people, which is pretty much everyone else, don’t really like spending their weekend getting yelled at or abused. So they stay home while a few self-important pricks strut around as if what they did in a Sunday crit really mattered.
  6. Hopelessness. In the 1/2/3/4/5 categories, there’s always a shuffle. Someone younger is always coming up through the ranks and knocking off the older riders. It’s the cycle of life. But not in masters racing. Once you race an age category, the same people who win will always be the same people who win — from age 35 to age 75 — so you have forty years of getting beaten by the same people over and over and over and over again. Good times!
  7. Time. We have less of it, bike racing requires more. Why do we have less time? Because of poverty. We’re working more to pay for essentials, and masters bike racing isn’t an essential.
  8. Rewards. What are they, again? There’s no money. There are no trophies. No one gets a juice box. It’s just the “fun” of competition. Well, that works for two kinds of people: the perennial winners who like staving everyone else’s head in, and the perennial losers who don’t mind losing. That’s a customer base of about 12 people, by the way.
  9. Cheating. Masters racers cheat, and promoters, who are taxed to the teeth by USA Cycling, and struggling under huge operating costs, can’t afford drug testing. So the cheaters get away with it, and the non-cheaters blame everyone who wins on “doping.”
  10. Safety. USA Cycling races are horribly dangerous compared to other leisure activities available to elderly men with leaky prostates. USA Cycling encourages risky behavior when its PAID officials fail to aggressively enforce rules against chopping, dive-bombing, elbow throwing, bar banging, post-race face-punching, etc.

However much all of these factors have brought low the mighty dinosaur, none has inflicted the mortal wound. The true killer not just of masters racing, but of bike racing in general, is Strava. And folks, Strava is here to stay.

Strava offers everything to the competitive cyclist except reality. It is free. It rewards you. It lets you set up special courses and categories that YOU can win, or at least get “on the leader board.” It is safe. Unlike USA Cycling, whose officials in SoCal don’t do squat for race safety, Strava bans segments that are reported as dangerous.

Plus, with Strava you don’t have to travel, and every day is a bike race. Strava lets you brag to your friends, compete with little “I stole your KOM” tits-for-tats, and doesn’t require any bike handling skills. On Strava, everybody’s a Cat 1.

The only downside to Strava, of course, is that it’s completely fake and that it eliminates the one thing that makes a bike race a true competition: Everyone has to race at the same day on the same course at the same time. But it’s the virtual, inauthentic nature of Strava that real bike racing can’t compete with.

And the icing on the cake? When’s the last time your wife ever complained about you going out to take someone’s KOM?

RIP, masters racing. It was sort of nice known’ ya.

————————-

Additional participants in the mercy killing:

11. Cost Plus. In addition to the cost of a road bike, you now also need a time trial bike if you’re going to do 3-day races with a TT. Add $10k. Also, you will need a power meter ($1k – $4k), a computer ($500), and a set of race wheels to go with your training wheels ($2k). And a coach, because you can’t beat guys who train 30 hours a week just by riding hard. Trust me on that last one.

12. “The Competition.” In addition to Strava, whose value proposition overwhelms yours, in the last 30 years there has been an incredible proliferation of fun, challenging, “non-race” rides that are effectively unsanctioned races. In LA alone you can do the NPR on Tuesday morning (always race pace), the Major Motion ride on Tuesday evening (always race pace), the Amalfi Ride on Thursday morning (race pace, but with stops), the Rose Bowl Ride (pure race), the M500 (pure race), the Donut Ride (race), the Montrose Ride (race with stoplights) … and that doesn’t even count the Grand Fondos, century rides, and countless other road rides where you can mix it up without paying a fortune, driving across the country, and paying a fortune. Did I mention paying a fortune?

13. “The Competition” v. 2. Other types of racing have increased in popularity and they compete with USAC road events. That’s cyclocross and mountain bike racing. They have a better vibe. More interesting venues. More spectators. Better officiating. Safe courses. They’re cheaper and closer to home and at least for ‘cross the equipment is a lot cheaper and there’s less of it.

14. Pain. Road racing is too hard. People on training rides cut the ride, do a “B” ride, refuse to do new challenging additions. Why? Because they are weak and lazy and entitled and they don’t want to get their nuts pounded off with the handle of a chisel. The San Marcos crit (35 starters in the 35+, 19 finishers), was so miserably awful that I contemplated quitting every lap. And I was in the 45+. Road racing is worse and harder. It’s grueling and it goes on for hours. People don’t want that anymore. They want something that hurts a little bit, but not too much — certainly they don’t want to submit to 30-degree sleet at Devil’s Punchbowl for 2.5 hours, with 6k of elevation per lap, riding alone. The most important thing is that they look good, don’t wind up in the ICU or a wheelchair, and that for dog’s sake they don’t break their equipment. Because unlike brains and body parts, an expensive bike nowadays can’t be replaced.

How to hose off “masters” racing

November 25, 2013 § 68 Comments

  1. Quit calling it “masters.” A master is someone who has reached the pinnacle of his craft after years of study and accomplishment. If you were a “master” of cycling you’d race the Pro Tour. If you were a “master” of cycling you would need more than a license and a $35 entry fee to be recognized as such. Suggestion? Start calling it “Old Folks Racing.” Part of the problem with masters racing is the delusion that’s reinforced by calling yourself a “master.” You aren’t, so quit lying about it.
  2. Scrap the prize money. You don’t deserve one red fucking cent for winning an Old Folks bicycle race. Prize money fuels the delusion that you’re a pro. You aren’t. You are an old person racing a bicycle masquerading as a young person. Yes, you. If don’t want to be classed with the old people, race with the young ones, you know, the punks who line up in the P-1-2 race and can kick your sorry ass from here to Sunday and back. Let’s see how many of those 120-mile hilly road races you win, Ace.
  3. Test. Drug testing works. It may not catch all the cheats, but it catches some of them and scares away a bunch of others. Instead of wasting our money on officials, waste it on drug testing. Officials who don’t want to volunteer for free like every other person who helps out in a bike race should go ride their bikes. And spare me about how professional all of the paid refs are, thanks. If we have to race without officials, I bet the promoters and riders can live with it just fine.
  4. Increase the length of bans. Two years is a joke for Old Folks racers, or didn’t you get the memo that 90 is the new 20? Make it ten for a first offense. You drank some contaminated herbal tea? Sucks to be you. PS: Next time you drink a special herbal tea that you bought from a company that advertises in a weightlifting steroids online forum where everyone uses a nickname, maybe you better think twice.
  5. Permanently ban dopers from certain events. Once you test positive, you’re forever banned from national and district championships. Whaaa? Yeah. But at least you won’t have to explain to people what an “Old Folks Racer National Champion” is.
  6. Permanently note doper status on licenses. Indicate on every license, in bold black letters beneath the rider’s category, that he has been “Sanctioned for doping.” Welcome to the race.
  7. Allow promoter discretion to deny entry. Give promoters the right to unilaterally bar a sanctioned rider from the race even after the ban has expired. Sanctimonious, self-serving liars who refuse to come clean about their sordid cheating will have to drop the facade and live with permanently brown noses for as long as they want to race.
  8. Require nicknames. Assign mandatory demeaning nicknames to busted dopers, which names must be used whenever their names are announced or printed in the official results. “Douchebag Danilo,” “Lame-ass Lance,” etc.
  9. Assign a unique “scumbag” series. Dedicate a certain number series that may only be used by busted dopers, such as the 900’s. “There goes a Niner!” people will say. No matter what you do, your past as a drug cheat will not be forgotten.
  10. Limit the damage. Put a limit to the number of ex-dopers you can have on a single team, and make the number “1.”

Do all this, or even most of it, and we’ll go back to what we once had when we were called “veterans.” We’ll have old folks who enjoy life during the week, race on the weekend, and take geriatric competition for what it is, which isn’t very much.

Roxanne! (You don’t have to turn on the red light)

November 22, 2011 Comments Off on Roxanne! (You don’t have to turn on the red light)

When USADA announced that Florida masters racer Michael Diamond, 63, had been suspended for refusing a doping control, the reaction was uniform: “What an idiot!” “He was fifth out of nine in a 60+ TT…what a loser!” “Why would anyone dope for the chance to win a salami and a can of Velveeta? What a dork!” “It’s a stupid fricking bike race! How could he?” Etc., etc.

A few weeks earlier, Michael Miller of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, was slapped with an 8-month ban after he tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine at masters track nationals in Trexlertown. Stack that on top of Roger Hernandez, 45 (refusal to test), Josh Webster, 38 (meth/phen), Peter Cannell, 37, (‘roids), Alberto Blanco, 30 (test), and Andrew Tilin, 46, (non-analytical positive), and you have a nice little group of busted, past-their-prime dopers. This doesn’t include the 2011 crop containing Joe Papp, Juan Pablo Dotti, 27, David Clinger, Phil Zajicek, and Lisban Quintero, “normal” dopers who were either pro or young cheats.

If you listen to the South Bay and SoCal scuttlebutt, there are quite a few old farts out here mixing and matching poisons to produce results that range from first place to pack meat. What the fuck is going on?

Get this straight at least: it’s not crazy

As much as our community likes wrinkling its nose and scoffing at the creaky losers like Mike Diamond, even as we like ridiculing them for choosing drugs as a vehicle to cycling mediocrity, the thing that’s strange about these gray-haired cheats isn’t their crappy results. It may be shameful because they’ve been unmasked as cheats, but the aged wankers juiced on ‘roids so that they can win the state TT are doping from the exact same motivations as Floyd, Lance, Jan, Ivan, and all the other guys who’ve stood on the podium at the TdF.

“Yeah,” you say, “but those guys are pros and they actually stand to win something by cheating. The Florida state TT for 60-69 masters racers? Risk your health for an ill-fitting jersey that you’re still six minutes out of the money for? Gimme a fucking break.”

This kind of criticism implies, of course, that whereas Diamond’s futility in a lame field for a “who-cares” title is laughable, your endeavors in the 30+ masters, or the Cat 2 field, or with the regional semi-pro team (bikes at a discount, gas money, entry fees, and a couple of spare kits) are legit. This reminds me of sex when I was a teenager. Many’s the time I’d look at a woman in her late 30’s and think, “Goddamn, how could anyone that old have sex?”

Then, in my late 20’s, I’d look at a woman in her late 40’s or early 50’s and think, “Man, that’s just too old. They should retire.” Pretty soon, here came the late 40’s , and suddenly I was discovering a whole new world of beautiful and alluring women to look at–forty, fifty, and up seemed downright normal. Many of my peers have friends or relatives who’ve had to put elderly relatives into nursing homes only to learn that lots of people in their 80’s and 90’s are still screwing like there’s no tomorrow, perhaps because for many of them, there isn’t.

The point is graphic, but easily grasped: it’s easy to understand how young athletes dope for a chance to win an Olympic medal, and to kid yourself that older people don’t take it just as seriously. As you get older you realize that the desire to win burns just as brightly among many an oldster, and just because people age doesn’t mean they become honest or ethical. Don’t we see that daily with the U.S. Congress?

Get a life? YOU get a life.

The other faux explanation for masters doping is that these clueless clods don’t “have a life.” They are so wrapped up in the silly, unreal, insignificant world of USA Cycling events that they somehow lose their perspective on what’s important in life. Hence they plunge off into the dangerous, expensive, and bizarre world of doping.

Is masters cycling such a weird, distorted place? Of course it is. But would we be better off spending the weekends at NASCAR? Or buried on the couch from Saturday morning ’til Monday night watching football and swilling beer? Is golf a healthier or a cheaper obsession? X-Box? Porn, anybody?

For people who say that the obsessed masters racer should be spending time with his family, I say this: what if he’s been married so long that he doesn’t want to? What if the kids are grown, or if they’re at the age where they think dad’s a dork, or what if there are no kids? What if dad or mom is holding together a miserable, crumbled marriage as best they can, and the time away from the family is the only thing that keeps it together?

There are a lot of masters racers in California with successful careers, loving families, and accomplishments in their other avocations who simply love to race their bike. It’s their thing, they love it, and they do it because they want to compete and to win. I think it beats the hell out of most other pastimes for 40-something men, and is a lot cheaper even when you throw in the $10k bike. Priced a Ducati or a Harley lately?

And what if we’re not married or attached to anyone at all? What if, at age 45, we discovered a healthy, fun, social pastime that lets us travel, train, compete, and meet new people? What if we’ve found the bike, just in time, as a surrogate for a terrible alcohol or drug addiction? What if bike racing is the activity fending off other, deeper emotional problems? Is racing a bike such an obviously imbalanced, distorted thing? (Okay, of course it is.) Still, I don’t think you can really say that it is without knowing quite a lot about the person in question. Unlike some other adult leisure activities that come to mind, this one is pretty harmless.

Drugs are just another piece of the puzzle

Just like I don’t believe that people automatically lose their will to win when they realize they’ll never be UCI pros, and just like I don’t believe that people who are obsessed with amateur cycling are by definition imbalanced, I likewise refuse to believe that there’s anything abnormal or strange about doping to improve performance among masters racers.

If you’ve made it to age 21 you must have come to grips with the fact that it’s both normal and predictable for people to cheat, lie, and steal. That’s what lots and lots of people do. Not all people, and not all the time, but the possibility of cheating, lying, and stealing must be taken into account any time you deal with another human being. Cycling’s no different.

Masters racers who have invested huge amounts of time, money, and emotional energy into their avocation have every incentive to dope. There’s little if any risk of getting caught. There’s an endless online database in the form of websites, forums, and chat rooms where you can greatly minimize the dangers posed by using drugs. There are numerous doctors, particularly in L.A., who specialize in “anti-aging,” which is shorthand for drug dispensation to achieve any number of non-medical needs. Want to go faster longer? There’s a protocol for that. Want to go faster shorter? There’s a protocol for that, too. Just add the tail of newt, venom of scorpion, and web of spider. Want to raise your aerobic capacity? Can you spell E-P-O?

People in their forties are likely to have the time to train and the disposable income to afford the drugs. After putting together the top-end equipment, hiring a pro coach, logging the miles, and doing the races year in, year out, it’s natural to look for that extra edge whether you’ve been winning, almost winning, or pack foddering. Put another way, what’s left? In track disciplines where the margin of victory may only be a second or two, the right drugs incorporated into the right training plan can push you up onto the top step of the podium. At least, that’s the theory…63 year-old Mike Diamond didn’t do much to prove it, as his only USA Cycling results showed a desultory level of participation and awful results his entire career.

The bottom line is that doping is another logical and readily available weapon in the racing arsenal, just like aero wheels, ceramic bearings, slick shoe covers, aero helmets, and aero fabrics. Why not use it, especially when, without question, there are successful competitors in SoCal amateur races who are?

That darn “cheating” thing

Since the verdict is out regarding the long term health effects of a doctor-prescribed, carefully monitored, moderate doping protocol, the only real reason not to dope is your internal sense of right and wrong. If you grew up believing that cheating is wrong, you’ve got a pretty good firewall that will keep your hand out of the cookie jar. If you have a wife like mine, who combs through every receipt and credit card statement with a fine-toothed comb, and who would raise holy hell at a $2,500 monthly bill for drugs and doctor visits, your firewall is stronger still.

But even if you believe cheating is wrong, you may not believe that doping is cheating if you also think that most of your competition is doing it. I don’t know where I fall on that argument, but it’s moot because I really don’t think that most masters racers dope–so for me, doping is pretty clearly cheating. In any event doping requires you to lie, so that makes it even more repugnant.

Your band of improvement

Those pesky moral imperatives–don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t even dream about hiding money from your wife–make the issue pretty clear cut. Yet there’s another reason that masters doping doesn’t really add up…for me. Since I started using a power meter, I have learned, more or less, my physical limits. The best 20-minute power I’ve ever put out is 325w. It was on July 17, 2011. Almost all of my other best 20-minute wattages have been in the 300-310w range.

To take it a step further, my three best 1-hour outputs have been 280, 285, and 295 watts. I may be capable of more, but not much more. Given my age, my ability, and a host of other limiters, this is pretty much as good as I’ll ever be. Drugs may be able to significantly boost these parameters, but so what? Take away the dope and, with lots of saddle time, I’ll still be a 295w FTP kind of guy, give or take a few watts.

Everyone’s different, but for me, knowing that my band of improvement is only a handful of watts beyond 295 makes the allure of drugs nil. It’s a kind of self-awareness and self-satisfaction, that is…enough. If only the men and women trying to find something extra through cheating and drugs could understand that whatever capabilities they have in their undoped state, it’s enough. If only.

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