Santa Claus in March

March 19, 2018 § 5 Comments

I was sitting in the car trying to stay warm before the race began, wondering where our fearless leader G$ was. He always gets to races with plenty of time to warm up, but we had ten minutes to go and he was nowhere to be found.

Where he was, was racing madly across the frozen wastes of San Bernardino County, trying to make it to the race on time. He had whipped into a convenience store with all the time in the world to take care of his pre-race business, but clean heated bathrooms being clean heated bathrooms, and G$ being a man who likes to take his time, by the time he got through with the 400-yard roll of Charmin the race was about to begin.

This was the most important race of the century, the second 2018 edition of the Rosena Ranch Circuit Race, masters 55+ division (combined with the 60+), and the field was massive. I had given up on G$ and pushed my way through the pulsing, nervous throng, elbowing my way to the front. The six other riders in the race, three of whom were in my category, grudgingly let me through.

“Hope I make the top-ten,” one rider wisecracked.

“I got something for you after the race,” said my other teammate, Rob, who had fallen behind on his $2.99 blog subscription.

“I got something for you during the race,” said Hard Knocks with a snarl.

I knew it was going to be a tough, bitter day. As El Rey de San Bernardino, I had the record for most wins at the Rosena Ranch Circuit Race, and the citizens in the South Bay had been clamoring all year for me to bring the crown back home. Today’s race featured forty miles on the hilly course, with a howling 20-mph headwind in the finishing 500m. In order to beat the three other grandpas in my category, two of whom were on walkers, I’d need to ride the race of my life.

Cavalry to the rescue!

Just before they blew the whistle, G$ came sprunting to the line, a white tassel of Charmin stuck to the bottom of his cleat. I heaved a sigh of relief knowing that I’d have a teammate to help me in my bid to take home an unprecedented fourth win, as it had been G$ who had gifted me with my second Rosena Ranch victory back in 2015. I had no doubt that with a little begging and pleading, and a whole lot of luck, he might do it again.

The race began at about the pace you’d expect from a small group of timid old farts like us, only slower, and when we hit the howling wall of headwind, our slow hit the brakes and ratcheted us down to crawl.

I attacked from the front at a blazing 8 or 9 mph, but the field had its eyes on G$, knowing that as a member of Team Lizard Collectors it wouldn’t be long before he chased down his own teammate in the finest TLC tradition, dragging the field up to the breakaway.

I roared through the start/finish to cheers of “Go, Seth!” and “Are you fucking crazy?” and “Noooooooo!”

“What are they upset about?” I wondered. “This is easier than stealing dentures at a rest home.” For two laps I cruised, opening a bigger and bigger gap, and figuring that completing another eighteen 2-mile laps would be a cinch.

On the fourth lap it seemed like either the wind was stronger or I wasn’t quite as fresh. On the fifth it seemed like the hills were steeper or I was slower. At the turnaround I saw a streak of orange as G$ unleashed his patented “None Shall Follow” attack.

“This is awesome,” I thought. “Once G$ gets up here I can take a rest and beg for him to let me win while he does all the work. This solo shit is for the birds.”

Misery loves company

Rosena Ranch is an out-and-back course with two 180-degree turns, so you can see how much distance you have (or don’t have) twice a lap. My gap on the field had been pretty big, but imagine my surprise when I saw G$ had sprung free and was bringing Hard Knocks with him.

“WTF?” I wondered. “Hard Knocks is a fuggin’ sprunter and neither I nor G$ can sprunt for crap.”

A lap later and there were three of us. As they passed me in the howling headwind I thought I heard G$ say, “He’s going for first.”

“Of course he is,” I thought. “And of course you brought a sprinter up to the break. We’re the Lizard Collectors and chasing our teammates is what we DO!”

I sat on the back in disbelief as they did all the work. G$ of all people. The most selfless teammate alive. The guy who never brings company up to a break. The master solo bridge artist. And he dragged Hard Knocks up on this epic day when I was poised to set cycling history?

To make matters worse, Hard Knocks hit the stairstep climb on the backside of the course each lap with a vengeance, gapping us both out and seeming to get stronger every time. Ten laps in I couldn’t hold back my frustration any longer. I rolled up to G$. “He’s a sprinter, you know.”

“I know,” said G$.

“And you aren’t. And I’m not.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I know. I told you already.”

“I heard you. Why’d you bring a dude who’s going for first?”

“Who?”

“Him.”

“Hard Knocks?”

“Yeah. That’s what you said.”

G$ laughed. “No, man, you know I’d never do that. I said ‘He’s good for third.'”

Punchin’ the clock

As soon as I heard that, a huge rush of power filled my legs. All was not lost! In a fit of enthusiasm and desire to help I took really short pulls, all on the downhill tailwind section, making sure to hit the wind only when we came in view of the announcer’s stand.

“Look at Davidson!” the announcer roared. “He’s been off the front from the beginning and hasn’t gotten off! A monster! A machine! A true strong man of the peloton!”

No sooner were we out of sight than I’d sneak to the back just in time for Hard Knocks to hit the hard section, and later to batter into the headwind. He didn’t seem to care. “Dude’s not getting tired,” I thought. And then it dawned on me. We’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book. Hard Knocks, sneaking up to the break, was going to drive the pace, wear us out, lap the field, and then once we reconnected with the pack (is four riders a pack?), attack and solo for the win.

The harder that G$ and Hard Knocks rode, the more I helped by pulling from the back and soft pedaling the front during the tailwind downhill section. Sure enough, with four laps to go we caught the beaten and flayed geriatric remnants who were spinning along with one foot in the crypt.

“Here it comes,” I thought, as Hard Knocks took another monster pull up the hill.

Shovel in the coal

With one lap to go, Hard Knocks pulled so hard that the pack detritus threw down their walkers and gave up. G$ and I hung on for dear life. “This is embarrassing,” I thought, wondering how I’d explain getting third to my tiny grandson.

Just then Hard Knocks eased up. “You ready?” he asked.

“For what?” I said suspiciously.

“I said I had something for you during the race,” he said.

“I hope it’s a lead-out.”

“In fact, it is.”

“Try not to do one of the lead-outs where you ride me off your wheel, dude.”

G$ ramped it up and swung over as we hit the wind wall one last time. Hard Knocks shoveled on the coal until steam started coming from the top of his helmet, timing himself to detonate almost exactly a hundred yards before the line.

“Here comes Davidson!” the announcer roared. “He’s been pulling the entire race and is still so strong he’s devastating his breakmates in the sprunt!”

The crowd of seven cheered somewhat wildly. My wife snapped more pictures. I tried to raise my hands in victory but a huge gust of wind caught my front wheel, almost hurling me to the pavement and forcing me to abort my raised hand salute so that it was more like a mini-gesture of terror.

I didn’t care. #fakewin or not, #giftwin or not, #grampswin or not … I’d won.

Epilogue 1: G$, Yasuko, and I went to celebrate at Panera, where we ate #fakebread and broke down the key elements of the race where G$ had done all the work and I’d done nothing. After 40 miles of windy, hilly nothing I was trashed. G$ finished his #fakebread and headed back to the race, where he did his second race of the day, a 50-miler, hauling teammate G3 to victory in the 50+ (G3 is NOT G$; it’s complicated), hauling teammate Ryan Dorris to victory in the 45+, and getting second himself. Just another day in the life of Santa Claus.

Epilogue 2: Team Lizard Collectors distinguished itself and broke its long history of chasing down teammates. In G$’s second race, Attila the Hun blocked and refused to bring back his own team’s break. In the Cat 3’s, once Wall Street was up the road, Baby Seal rode the front and blocked for fifty miles, ensuring a glorious silver medal for Wall Street on this toughest of toughguy/toughgal courses.

END

———————–

Kind of amazing that for all that superb bike racing I didn’t win enough money to retire on! But you can help me afford a luxury retirement cardboard box with a subscription to Cycling in the South Bay! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

 

Santa Claus in March

March 19, 2018 § 5 Comments

I was sitting in the car trying to stay warm before the race began, wondering where our fearless leader G$ was. He always gets to races with plenty of time to warm up, but we had ten minutes to go and he was nowhere to be found.

Where he was, was racing madly across the frozen wastes of San Bernardino County, trying to make it to the race on time. He had whipped into a convenience store with all the time in the world to take care of his pre-race business, but clean heated bathrooms being clean heated bathrooms, and G$ being a man who likes to take his time, by the time he got through with the 400-yard roll of Charmin the race was about to begin.

This was the most important race of the century, the second 2018 edition of the Rosena Ranch Circuit Race, masters 55+ division (combined with the 60+), and the field was massive. I had given up on G$ and pushed my way through the pulsing, nervous throng, elbowing my way to the front. The six other riders in the race, three of whom were in my category, grudgingly let me through.

“Hope I make the top-ten,” one rider wisecracked.

“I got something for you after the race,” said my other teammate, Rob, who had fallen behind on his $2.99 blog subscription.

“I got something for you during the race,” said Hard Knocks with a snarl.

I knew it was going to be a tough, bitter day. As El Rey de San Bernardino, I had the record for most wins at the Rosena Ranch Circuit Race, and the citizens in the South Bay had been clamoring all year for me to bring the crown back home. Today’s race featured forty miles on the hilly course, with a howling 20-mph headwind in the finishing 500m. In order to beat the three other grandpas in my category, two of whom were on walkers, I’d need to ride the race of my life.

Cavalry to the rescue!

Just before they blew the whistle, G$ came sprunting to the line, a white tassel of Charmin stuck to the bottom of his cleat. I heaved a sigh of relief knowing that I’d have a teammate to help me in my bid to take home an unprecedented fourth win, as it had been G$ who had gifted me with my second Rosena Ranch victory back in 2015. I had no doubt that with a little begging and pleading, and a whole lot of luck, he might do it again.

The race began at about the pace you’d expect from a small group of timid old farts like us, only slower, and when we hit the howling wall of headwind, our slow hit the brakes and ratcheted us down to crawl.

I attacked from the front at a blazing 8 or 9 mph, but the field had its eyes on G$, knowing that as a member of Team Lizard Collectors it wouldn’t be long before he chased down his own teammate in the finest TLC tradition, dragging the field up to the breakaway.

I roared through the start/finish to cheers of “Go, Seth!” and “Are you fucking crazy?” and “Noooooooo!”

“What are they upset about?” I wondered. “This is easier than stealing dentures at a rest home.” For two laps I cruised, opening a bigger and bigger gap, and figuring that completing another eighteen 2-mile laps would be a cinch.

On the fourth lap it seemed like either the wind was stronger or I wasn’t quite as fresh. On the fifth it seemed like the hills were steeper or I was slower. At the turnaround I saw a streak of orange as G$ unleashed his patented “None Shall Follow” attack.

“This is awesome,” I thought. “Once G$ gets up here I can take a rest and beg for him to let me win while he does all the work. This solo shit is for the birds.”

Misery loves company

Rosena Ranch is an out-and-back course with two 180-degree turns, so you can see how much distance you have (or don’t have) twice a lap. My gap on the field had been pretty big, but imagine my surprise when I saw G$ had sprung free and was bringing Hard Knocks with him.

“WTF?” I wondered. “Hard Knocks is a fuggin’ sprunter and neither I nor G$ can sprunt for crap.”

A lap later and there were three of us. As they passed me in the howling headwind I thought I heard G$ say, “He’s going for first.”

“Of course he is,” I thought. “And of course you brought a sprinter up to the break. We’re the Lizard Collectors and chasing our teammates is what we DO!”

I sat on the back in disbelief as they did all the work. G$ of all people. The most selfless teammate alive. The guy who never brings company up to a break. The master solo bridge artist. And he dragged Hard Knocks up on this epic day when I was poised to set cycling history?

To make matters worse, Hard Knocks hit the stairstep climb on the backside of the course each lap with a vengeance, gapping us both out and seeming to get stronger every time. Ten laps in I couldn’t hold back my frustration any longer. I rolled up to G$. “He’s a sprinter, you know.”

“I know,” said G$.

“And you aren’t. And I’m not.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I know. I told you already.”

“I heard you. Why’d you bring a dude who’s going for first?”

“Who?”

“Him.”

“Hard Knocks?”

“Yeah. That’s what you said.”

G$ laughed. “No, man, you know I’d never do that. I said ‘He’s good for third.'”

Punchin’ the clock

As soon as I heard that, a huge rush of power filled my legs. All was not lost! In a fit of enthusiasm and desire to help I took really short pulls, all on the downhill tailwind section, making sure to hit the wind only when we came in view of the announcer’s stand.

“Look at Davidson!” the announcer roared. “He’s been off the front from the beginning and hasn’t gotten off! A monster! A machine! A true strong man of the peloton!”

No sooner were we out of sight than I’d sneak to the back just in time for Hard Knocks to hit the hard section, and later to batter into the headwind. He didn’t seem to care. “Dude’s not getting tired,” I thought. And then it dawned on me. We’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book. Hard Knocks, sneaking up to the break, was going to drive the pace, wear us out, lap the field, and then once we reconnected with the pack (is four riders a pack?), attack and solo for the win.

The harder that G$ and Hard Knocks rode, the more I helped by pulling from the back and soft pedaling the front during the tailwind downhill section. Sure enough, with four laps to go we caught the beaten and flayed geriatric remnants who were spinning along with one foot in the crypt.

“Here it comes,” I thought, as Hard Knocks took another monster pull up the hill.

Shovel in the coal

With one lap to go, Hard Knocks pulled so hard that the pack detritus threw down their walkers and gave up. G$ and I hung on for dear life. “This is embarrassing,” I thought, wondering how I’d explain getting third to my tiny grandson.

Just then Hard Knocks eased up. “You ready?” he asked.

“For what?” I said suspiciously.

“I said I had something for you during the race,” he said.

“I hope it’s a lead-out.”

“In fact, it is.”

“Try not to do one of the lead-outs where you ride me off your wheel, dude.”

G$ ramped it up and swung over as we hit the wind wall one last time. Hard Knocks shoveled on the coal until steam started coming from the top of his helmet, timing himself to detonate almost exactly a hundred yards before the line.

“Here comes Davidson!” the announcer roared. “He’s been pulling the entire race and is still so strong he’s devastating his breakmates in the sprunt!”

The crowd of seven cheered somewhat wildly. My wife snapped more pictures. I tried to raise my hands in victory but a huge gust of wind caught my front wheel, almost hurling me to the pavement and forcing me to abort my raised hand salute so that it was more like a mini-gesture of terror.

I didn’t care. #fakewin or not, #giftwin or not, #grampswin or not … I’d won.

Epilogue 1: G$, Yasuko, and I went to celebrate at Panera, where we ate #fakebread and broke down the key elements of the race where G$ had done all the work and I’d done nothing. After 40 miles of windy, hilly nothing I was trashed. G$ finished his #fakebread and headed back to the race, where he did his second race of the day, a 50-miler, hauling teammate G3 to victory in the 50+ (G3 is NOT G$; it’s complicated), hauling teammate Ryan Dorris to victory in the 45+, and getting second himself. Just another day in the life of Santa Claus.

Epilogue 2: Team Lizard Collectors distinguished itself and broke its long history of chasing down teammates. In G$’s second race, Attila the Hun blocked and refused to bring back his own team’s break. In the Cat 3’s, once Wall Street was up the road, Baby Seal rode the front and blocked for fifty miles, ensuring a glorious silver medal for Wall Street on this toughest of toughguy/toughgal courses.

END

———————–

Kind of amazing that for all that superb bike racing I didn’t win enough money to retire on! But you can help me afford a luxury retirement cardboard box with a subscription to Cycling in the South Bay! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

 

Teamwork!!!

February 26, 2018 § 5 Comments

I woke up on Sunday morning, sore everywhere. Back, neck, legs, arms, shoulders, throat, eyelids; they all hurt. And no wonder. I’d make the mistake of entering, and the achieved miracle of finishing, two 30-mile races on the windy, hilly, beatdown Rosena Ranch course in San Bernardino.

The first race was a bad idea that quickly turned terrible. The 45/50 category racing in Southern California is pitiless. Sure, everyone is old and slow and weak and staggering with one foot in the grave. But before they put the other foot in, they race their bikes hard, and too bad if you’re older, slower, and weaker than they are.

The race began with attacks, after which the old folks would sit up for a minute, gather their wits, and attack again. The size of the field and its depth meant that nothing was getting away early, and nothing did. Chris DeMarchi, Norwegian Dude, Greg Leibert, Michael Marckx, and others kept the attacks coming until midway through the race a seven-man break rolled and the pack couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.

Once they got clear I jumped and tried to bridge, and would never have made it across if they hadn’t hit the slight uphill, windy section just as I was barreling down the tailwind, slightly downhill part. I caught on barely and took stock. This was for sure the winning break with DeMarchi, Norwegian Dude, Marckx, Leibert, and my other teammate, Greg Cesarian.

Fortunately, as the break was falling into a steady rotation, I looked back and saw our teammate, Chase, dragging the peloton after us at full speed. There is nothing quite so awesome as having a teammate riding his little heart out so that he can catch up to his buddies in the breakaway, and it’s even more heartwarming to see him bring so much company.

DeMarchi turned and looked at me. “Team Big Orange is too big.”

Chase chased us down and happily sat up, pleased to be with his friends again. We sure were glad to see him, too. We hit the turnaround and Leibert attacked, opening a big gap. The field responded, caught him, and I countered, springing free, possibly for good, or at least until another couple of riders could bridge up.

Luckily, I glanced back and saw Chase on the gas, leading the chase up to his Team Lizard Collector buddy. He killed it! After a short while Chase had brought everyone up, and the peloton’s approval was awesome and loud. “Good job, Lizard Collectors!” they cheered us.

By then the race was in its waning phase, and the attacks relented as everyone read the big neon flashing sign evident to anyone who cared to look that said, “Bunch sprunt.”

And it was. The Norwegian dude, not content with all of his country’s gold medals at the winter Olympics, snagged a local wankfest circuit race to add to the medal tally. After the race we sat around beneath the team tent, excitedly reviewing our great race tactics.

“That was awesome how Chase chased!” we enthused.

“What’s even more awesome is the way he does it pretty much every race!”

“I love racing with Chase!”

“It would sure be terrible if he left Team Lizard Collectors and went to another team!”

“Wouldn’t it?”

“Things just wouldn’t be the same without ol’ Chase.”

“Thankfully,” I added, “even if he gets a better offer from another club that has full race reimbursement, two free pro kits to all Cat 2 and above riders, full race support, and a great vibe, we’ll probably be able to groom another teammate to take his place.”

“Yeah,” they agreed. “But I sure hope he never leaves.”

END

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Ride the Ranch

February 21, 2018 § 3 Comments

This coming Saturday, Alfie Sanchez is putting on my favorite race in SoCal, the Rosena Ranch Circuit Race. It’s a unique race and one that deserves our participation and support.

Unlike most races in SoCal, it’s not flat, it’s not a 4-corner crit, and you cannot win it by sitting in and sprinting, or by sitting in and giving it one hard effort the last part of the race. Rosena Ranch rewards aggression, early moves, and pain. It does not reward passiveness.

The course itself is amazing. It’s held on a closed circuit and the road is extremely wide and smooth. It has two 180-degree turns at either end of the course, both of which are safe, slow, and easy to navigate no matter how many people are taking the turn.

The race starts on a fast but gentle descent, then hits a very deceptive false flat made uglier by wind, followed by a small riser and then another false flat until you hit a brief downhill to the turnaround. The point about these false flats and minor riser is that they start wearing you down immediately.

After the turnaround you go from zero to a long but not-too-steep grade, usually guttered due to the wind. Then you catch a side-tailwind and a blazing downhill that is not steep but is very, very fast. The loop ends in an endless very slight uphill; most people start their sprint way too soon because the finish line is visible from so far away and it’s not until you start to fade that you realize you went about 300m too soon.

Hard racing

The best thing about Rosena Ranch is the difficulty–not technical difficulty, but the physical challenge of the course. I have never seen this race end in a bunch sprint in any category because the course always rewards initiative and suffering. Sometimes the break goes on the first lap, sometimes on the second or third, but never much later than that, and once the break goes it’s impossible to bring back because there’s not that big of an advantage riding in the peloton.

Unlike some crit courses that will suck you along, or create unstoppable momentum for a huge field such that it can pull back a break pretty easily, at Rosena Ranch you have to be positioned for the break, ready for the break, and in it when it goes. Attempts to bridge are rarely successful.

Race diversity

Rosena Ranch is really important to our race calendar because it is so different from the crit offerings that fill up most of the year. It’s one of the very few races where you actually have the combined effects of course, tactics, topography, a little climbing, and a little sprinting all rolled up into one event. If you don’t get smart and/or lucky with each one of those parameters, it’s almost impossible to do well. In short, it’s bike racing.

Putting on a bike race is hard work and always risky. All it takes is one bad weather event and the promoter is staring at empty fields and unpaid bills. I hope you’ll support this great race, whether it’s your “profile” or not, by coming out and racing. The same way that we non-sprinters come out and get drubbed week in, week out in flat crits by the speedsters, it would be awesome for the the fast twitchers to come and support this race, too.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos that show you what the action looks like:

Video 1
Video 2

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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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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Easiest sixth place ever

April 11, 2016 § 14 Comments

  1. Put on tubular race wheels which are made of much carbon.
  2. Request Mrs. WM to drop me off at the Hun’s.
  3. Check weather.
  4. Note rain with extra rain and some more rain.
  5. Remind self: heavy SoCal rain is a light sweat.
  6. Develop killer race strategy to propel Team Lizard Collectors to glorious victory after glorious victory in road race at San Dimas that involved much chasing of teammates.
  7. Arrive at race and lie to teammates. “Tired legs. Dead, very.”
  8. Note presence of Bad Bart. Borrow chain lube from him.
  9. Huddle with and lie vociferously. “I will cover everything and block for you.”
  10. Build undisclosed plan to hide, cower, chase teammates when in promising breaks and encourage organized chases from other teams when teammates appear to be getting away.
  11. Fill bottle with new energy fluid never tested before.
  12. Wait ten minutes.
  13. Feel uncomfortable bowel fullness.
  14. Curse the micro-thin potty tissue where your finger pokes through. Yeccch.
  15. Hurry to line and start racing.
  16. Chase teammates vigorously.
  17. Rest.
  18. Get cursed at by other riders. “You dumb fuck, you’re chasing your own teammates!”
  19. Advise cursers to imagine that every Lizard Collector rider is wearing a different colored jersey.
  20. Endure additional oaths.
  21. Advise cursers to study difference between “team” and “club.”
  22. Chase some more.
  23. Rest.
  24. Rest.
  25. Rest.
  26. Rest.
  27. Watch winning break go with two teammates.
  28. Chase furiously, dragging field behind.
  29. Rest.
  30. Assist other teams with chase.
  31. Rest.
  32. Rest.
  33. When field sits up, scamper away with plan to solo up to break or better yet take other non-team Lizard Collectors riders along.
  34. Establish four-man chase.
  35. Let non-TLC riders in chase group chase their brains out.
  36. Endure curses for refusing to pull.
  37. Watch in amazement as “sprinter” Bad Bart pulls his brains out for three laps.
  38. Plot to drop Bad Bart in last minute attack because he is so fucking fast in a sprint.
  39. Execute last minute attack.
  40. Chase down the Hun who has been dropped out of the break.
  41. Furiously chase other teammate with one lap to go.
  42. Note that Bad Bart is still there.
  43. Drop teammate who had worked valiantly.
  44. Start sprunt too late. Proper timing to beat Bart would have been to begin sprunt last Thursday.
  45. Watch Bad Bart scamper away from me like a Scientologist avoiding the IRS.
  46. End race.
  47. Receive glorious sixth place medal and dowsing rod.
  48. Drive back with the Hun.
  49. Tell him how hard I worked to block.
  50. Answer “Nothing” when the Hun asks what I’m doing that afternoon.
  51. Answer “Nope” when the Hun asks if I mind if we stop for a minute so he can pick up some groceries.
  52. Wait in the car for an hour and a half.
  53. Observe crazy lady in the parking lot of the Gonzales Ranchero Mercado tip over her shopping cart, prize the anti-theft wheel locks off with a giant screwdriver, and gaily push it off the lot.
  54. Get home.
  55. Go to bed.

END

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Easiest sixth place ever

April 11, 2016 § 14 Comments

  1. Put on tubular race wheels which are made of much carbon.
  2. Request Mrs. WM to drop me off at the Hun’s.
  3. Check weather.
  4. Note rain with extra rain and some more rain.
  5. Remind self: heavy SoCal rain is a light sweat.
  6. Develop killer race strategy to propel Team Lizard Collectors to glorious victory after glorious victory in road race at San Dimas that involved much chasing of teammates.
  7. Arrive at race and lie to teammates. “Tired legs. Dead, very.”
  8. Note presence of Bad Bart. Borrow chain lube from him.
  9. Huddle with and lie vociferously. “I will cover everything and block for you.”
  10. Build undisclosed plan to hide, cower, chase teammates when in promising breaks and encourage organized chases from other teams when teammates appear to be getting away.
  11. Fill bottle with new energy fluid never tested before.
  12. Wait ten minutes.
  13. Feel uncomfortable bowel fullness.
  14. Curse the micro-thin potty tissue where your finger pokes through. Yeccch.
  15. Hurry to line and start racing.
  16. Chase teammates vigorously.
  17. Rest.
  18. Get cursed at by other riders. “You dumb fuck, you’re chasing your own teammates!”
  19. Advise cursers to imagine that every Lizard Collector rider is wearing a different colored jersey.
  20. Endure additional oaths.
  21. Advise cursers to study difference between “team” and “club.”
  22. Chase some more.
  23. Rest.
  24. Rest.
  25. Rest.
  26. Rest.
  27. Watch winning break go with two teammates.
  28. Chase furiously, dragging field behind.
  29. Rest.
  30. Assist other teams with chase.
  31. Rest.
  32. Rest.
  33. When field sits up, scamper away with plan to solo up to break or better yet take other non-team Lizard Collectors riders along.
  34. Establish four-man chase.
  35. Let non-TLC riders in chase group chase their brains out.
  36. Endure curses for refusing to pull.
  37. Watch in amazement as “sprinter” Bad Bart pulls his brains out for three laps.
  38. Plot to drop Bad Bart in last minute attack because he is so fucking fast in a sprint.
  39. Execute last minute attack.
  40. Chase down the Hun who has been dropped out of the break.
  41. Furiously chase other teammate with one lap to go.
  42. Note that Bad Bart is still there.
  43. Drop teammate who had worked valiantly.
  44. Start sprunt too late. Proper timing to beat Bart would have been to begin sprunt last Thursday.
  45. Watch Bad Bart scamper away from me like a Scientologist avoiding the IRS.
  46. End race.
  47. Receive glorious sixth place medal and dowsing rod.
  48. Drive back with the Hun.
  49. Tell him how hard I worked to block.
  50. Answer “Nothing” when the Hun asks what I’m doing that afternoon.
  51. Answer “Nope” when the Hun asks if I mind if we stop for a minute so he can pick up some groceries.
  52. Wait in the car for an hour and a half.
  53. Observe crazy lady in the parking lot of the Gonzales Ranchero Mercado tip over her shopping cart, prize the anti-theft wheel locks off with a giant screwdriver, and gaily push it off the lot.
  54. Get home.
  55. Go to bed.

END

————————

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Yeah, but did you have fun?

February 22, 2016 § 5 Comments

“Dude,” G3’s text read. “Can you give me a ride to the church?”

“Sure,” I wrote back. “I’ll snag you at the curb in front of your house.”

Ms. WM needed the car that day, so she drove me over to G3’s in the Prius. He was standing on the curb with his bike, a set of wheels, the team tent, and his race bag, which weighed 80 lbs. and was five feet long, stocked with everything he’d need for 50 minutes of racing and six months in the wilderness and a complete bike overhaul.

“Uh, how’m I fitting my stuff in that?” he asked.

“In what?” I replied.

“Your midget Prius. There are already two people in it and a bike, and the back seats are folded down. Where am I going to sit?”

“Are you blind? In the front seat.”

“But Mrs. WM is already sitting in the front seat.”

“Are you calling her fat?”

G3 sputtered. “Dude, no one’s calling anyone ‘fat.’ That’s a tiny Prius passenger seat and a full grown adult is already sitting in it.”

“You just called my wife fat.”

“I did not!”

“You sorry turd,” I said. “She is not fat.”

“I never said she was fat!”

“She has a very narrow ass.”

“Look, Wanky, I’m sure she has a very narrow and a very firm and nice ass. There’s no dispute about that. But I have a somewhat wider ass and our two asses won’t fit in that single seat. Plus, there’s only one seat belt.”

“There you just called her fat again. And now you said she’s too fat to wear a seat belt.”

“I did not!”

“We’re going to be late  for the race.”

“My stuff won’t even fit in the back. This is crazy.”

I sighed, popped the hatch, and showed him how to surgically insert his bike atop mine, then wedge the tent along the side, then cram his massive pack on top of his full carbon rear wheel, which groaned.

Mrs. WM opened the door. “Get in. There’s plenty of room!”

G3 exhaled and squeezed in next to her. Half of his right haunch hung out of the car. “Now what?” he said. “The door won’t close.”

“If we were on the Marunouchi Line at rush hour, here’s what the little man in the uniform and white gloves would do,” I answered, gently pushing the door against his dangling buttock and then mashing it as hard as I could.

“Ouch!” he said.

“That’s just your fat being pinched,” I said. “It’ll grow back.”

We hurried over to the megachurch on PCH where the Hun and Major Bob were waiting for us in his rad Mercedes van with leather captain’s chairs. “Where’s Dr. Whaaat?” I asked.

“We’re going to get him at the usual pick-up spot,” said Major Bob.

A few minutes later we got on America’s busiest and most dangerous freeway and exited at Culver Boulevard. Crossing Culver, we prepared to re-enter the freeway. Dr. Whaaat? was standing on the entrance ramp with his bike. The only thing missing was a big piece of cardboard that said, “Full-time Employed Teacher: Broke! Dog Bless!” and a tin cup for donations.

We bundled him into the van, almost getting smeared by the whizzing traffic, and hustled off to the Rosena Ranch circuit race, which is located at the hypotenuse of the Meth Triangle that comprises Palmdale, Riverside, and San Bernardino. All the way there we plotted strategy.

“It’s simple,” said G3. “We will have eight guys and Major Bob, so we attack every lap.”

“Then what?” I asked.

“Eventually we’ll tire everyone out and then Money can hit the gas and ride off in a break. We’ll have three or maybe even four guys in the move who can either act as clogstacles so that Money escapes on the last lap, or we can activate the Team Lizard Collectors’ asphalt magnets, which will pull a few of us to the ground and impede the others while Money dashes to victory.”

It seemed like a great plan until we got to the starting line, where we were greeted by Meatballs. “Oh, fuck,” I said. “Are you 45 now?”

Meatballs grinned. “In fact, I am.”

Meatballs is kind of a bummer to race with, because he always wins. He clumbs, he sprunts, he time trails, and he attacks. Especially, he attacks. Like, over and over and over until your legs turn to mush and your eyeballs droop and your gonads swelter and you decide that today wasn’t meant to be your day anyway as he goes from being a massive meatball in your viewfinder to a tiny speck up the road to invisible to a massive meatball standing on the top step of the podium taking your gas money and case of Clif bars.

On the plus side, my coach had given me some winning advice:

  1. Don’t do anything.
  2. Rest.
  3. Sit in.
  4. Expend zero effort.
  5. Avoid the wind.
  6. Be patient.
  7. Wait.
  8. Don’t be over eager.
  9. Don’t get sucked into meaningless early attacks.
  10. Save your bullets.
  11. Conserve.
  12. Let the race unfold.
  13. Hide.
  14. Cower.
  15. Duck.
  16. Be invisible.
  17. Then, after doing 1-16, while positioned in the 15th slot or so, wait for the hard, decisive attack that is certain to come, follow it, and you’ll have made the winning split.

However, I slightly modified coach’s plan so that after the 3rd lap my race plan looked like this:

  1. Attack from the gun.
  2. Follow every move.
  3. Chase everyone.
  4. Attack again.
  5. Hit the front from the rear coming up the right-side, into the wind.
  6. Lead up every climb.
  7. Flex.
  8. Do at least a dozen max 30-second efforts.
  9. Scornfully stare at everyone.
  10. Attack some more.
  11. Then, after doing 1-10, while positioned at the very front after a futile acceleration and while exhausted and gasping for air on the hardest part of the false flat, I waited for the hard, decisive attack that was certain to come and did, tried vainly to follow it, failed to latch on, and watched the winning split go up the road.

Sure enough, Money had made the split, which was created by Meatballs, who had attacked from the back in the draft of the group before sling-shotting off to the far left side of the road, forcing chasers into the gutter, at a speed that was horrible to even think about following.

No one on Team Lizard Collectors could do anything other than check to make sure their asphalt magnets hadn’t been switched on by mistake and pray for a typoon or swarm of mosquitoes carrying the Zika plague or other natural disaster that would somehow stop the breakaway. At one point in the race, TLC organized a chase, determined to bring back our team leader since it was clear there was no way he could win the sprint.

However, the chief problem with bringing him back so that we could counter and get another breakaway going with perhaps a better composition, was that he was going a lot faster than we were and in order to catch him we’d have to go faster than he was going, which proved difficult since, as mentioned earlier, he was going faster, and as it turned out, a lot faster, really an extra super whole lot faster.

Another problem was that even though Money isn’t known for sprunting, the rest of TLC isn’t known for winning, and even if we had been able to re-shuffle the deck, it would still have included Meatballs (unbeatable) and Fireman (unbeatable by anyone except Meatballs). So instead we attacked each other, with Dr. Whaaat? rocketing away and finishing a glorious ninth.

In the end, Meatballs ground up the breakaway into little pieces of gristle and shit by accelerating every time out of the u-turn, crushing it up the climb, then shattering the group into a few manageable morsels of charred flesh at the very end and handily winning the sprunt.

Back in the van we all hung our heads, cursed our fate, and yelled at each other.

“Douchebag!”

“Asshole!”

“Sandbagger!”

“Republican!”

Finally, as we were about to all get kicked out of the van by Major Bob and be forced to walk the seventy miles home, Surfer Dan from Team La Grunge stuck his head in the side door.

“How was the race?” he inquired with his trademark smile.

As we all scrambled to get in our version of how our teammates had ruined it for us, he held up his hand. “Guys,” he said. “Did you have fun?”

We looked at each other and released our fingers from each other’s throats. Because in fact, yes, we did.

END

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Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl.

February 23, 2015 § 60 Comments

After the CBR crit last week I was rolling around with G$. He had fired a thousand artillery shells and I’d fired a hundred mortar rounds in our vain attempts to get away. Robb M., who had fired a dribble from his tiny squirt gun, came by as we were chatting. “Are you guys dating?” he snarked as he passed.

The following week was Rosena Ranch, a nasty, hilly, miserable little 2.7-mile circuit with two stinging climbs and two ripping downhills. I looked around at the start line. G$ was there, but Robb was apparently busy that weekend.

G$ broke away on the fourth of eleven laps with Jaycee Cary of LaGrange. I clawed onto their rear wheel as teammates Alan Flores, Harold Martinez, Dave Jaeger, Jon Edwards, and Jon Nist clogged the front like avocado pits in a garbage disposal.

After a couple of laps Jaycee sat up, brains oozing from his knees and a soft moaning sound emanating from his armpits. It was just me and Greg. I thought briefly about Coach Holloway’s two injunctions:

  1. Always be the second strongest guy in the break.
  2. Have a plan to win.

The first injunction was easy. G$ ripped through each lap like a sailor on shore leave rips through a whorehouse. I did my share of the work, and Greg did the other 99%. But the “have a plan to win” part wasn’t turning out so well.

As G$’s efforts put more and more time on the subdued and demoralized field, it was simultaneously subduing and demoralizing me. But at the beginning of our breakaway how different it all had been!

For years I had fantasized about riding a break with Greg. How good it would be, just him and me as we punched our way to victory. And now here I was, having finally taken all the clothes off that cute girl in high school I’d been dreaming about. She was right there in front of me, buck naked, offering up her soft yet firm breasts as her erect nipples stood to attention under the gentle caresses of my tongue.

I pressed myself on top of her as she spread her legs, trembling with excitement as I hovered on the verge of plunging myself into that hot and welcoming refuge of ecstasy.

But then, WHAM! She was pounding my nuts with a hammer.

Then, WHAM! She was stomping my dick with giant hob-nailed boots.

Then, WHAM! She was beating my teeth out with a brick.

Then, WHAM! She was stuffing a roll of barbed wire up my butt.

How could something that had begun so right be going so wrong? In the midst of my agony, as G$ wasn’t even breathing, he turned back to me and smiled. “Dude,” he said, “if we stick this out to the line, this win is yours.”

Anyone else would have understood this as the perfect winning plan. But I had a much worse one, so I shook my head. “Fuck you,” I said. “I don’t want any gifts. No gifts!” I had forgotten that you’re only supposed to proudly repudiate gifted wins a-la Pantani on Ventoux after you cross the line.

G$ shrugged as we hit the bottom of the climb. “If you say so.” He punched it so hard that all of the other beatings seemed like loving caresses. I fell off the back then clawed my way back to his wheel, gasping.

He looked back as we hit the turnaround and attacked again. I flailed as hard as I could and reattached to his rear wheel. “Hey, man,” I said. “You know how you were saying about me winning? Is that deal still on the table?”

He answered with another punch to the gonads, then settled into a pace that was harder than a fourth-grade word problem.

On the bell lap we crested the final climb before the roaring descent, which turned into a gentle kicker to the line. G$ looked over at me. Then he reached down and slowly took out his water bottle, smiling.

“What the fuck is he doing that for? GO NOW!” I shouted to me, and go I did. Full gas. Nothing held back. The gap was instantaneous and big, but somehow he closed it with 200m to the line.

“Sprunt!” I shrieked to myself, cranking out the massive 450-watt finishing effort that has made me a watchword the world over. “I’m winning!” I continued to yell internally. Somehow, G$ wasn’t coming around! I was beating him! I was awesome! I was the greatest! I had done it!

The line flashed by, and you know what? A picture is worth a thousand words. Oh, and a question: If his hands are off the bars, does that mean he wasn’t really sprinting?

Friends let friends think they're actually sprinting for a win. Photo courtesy of Lauren Mulwitz, 2015, used with permission.

Friends let friends think they’re actually sprinting for a win. Photo courtesy of Lauren Mulwitz, 2015, used with permission.

END

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