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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Plenty meat on them doggone bones

February 25, 2018 § 3 Comments

There was a musician from the 40’s and 50’s named Joe Williams who played a nine-string guitar and who wrote really good songs. One of my favorites was “Long, Tall Woman,” and the line I liked most was “I want a big fat woman, plenty meat on them doggone bones.”

The whole thing about weight loss and improved cycling performance is of course ridiculous. James Stout, wherever he may be now, wrote a great article three years ago about eating disorders in cycling. And although he was writing about the pervasiveness of eating disorders in the pro peloton, he missed, or at least failed to dwell on, that the extreme skinniness of modern racers is one way they’ve compensated for not being able to dope as copiously as in years gone by. The extra power has to come from somewhere, right?

But the real crazy train with regard to weight and cycling isn’t among professionals and elite amateurs whose jobs and Olympic hopes depend on a win, but among the fatty old hackers at weekend races whose only skin in the game is the tender skin of ego. I know; my ego is as bloated and sensitive as the Hindenburg, and dog knows I’ve gone down the rat hole of the Wanky Diet at least once.

Still, for virtually every racer out there who is doing it for all that nonexistent fun we hear about, you’ll race better with plenty meat on them doggone bones.

Exhibit 1? Dandy Andy.

Dandy showed up fat and happy for the Rosena Ranch beatdown yesterday, gleefully gripping in his right fist a thick strip of bacon around his stomach that would have fed a camp full of hungry cowboys. “I need to lose weight!” he said, stretching out the bacon far enough that the zipper on his jersey shrieked at earsplitting decibels.

“Dude,” I said, “I hope you do. Because maybe it will slow you down. And if that zipper goes, someone’s getting hurt.”

Dandy and I rode together for years on Team Concentration Camp, where I experimented with the Kimchi Diet, consisting of salted cabbage and oxygen, and Dandy carefully weighed his oatmeal grains with a scales calibrated to micrograms. Neither of us raced worth dung.

Then a couple of years ago Dandy threw the scale in the dumpster and focused on the loves of his life, a/k/a the Three B’s, Bread Butter & Bacon. And his bike racing results went through the roof. Last year he manhandled most of the field at Rosena Ranch to get second, and this year he smashed the field in the second Ancient Duffers Category in CBR, riding a hard as nails 4-man break for 40 minutes to also climb on the podium.

Yesterday was a Dandy Tour de Force. He missed the winning two-man move, then punished the field for nine laps with repeated hammerings on the riser and into the wind on the backside of the course, then blew the field apart with two laps to go. A friend described it as “There was the break, there was Dandy’s four-man chase, and then there were bits and pieces wondering when the agony would end.”

Rolling into the headwind finish, Dandy attacked his break companions like a hungry shark and rolled in solo.

After the race he came up to me and grabbed the bacon. “Dammit Wanky, I gotta lose this stuff.”

I stared glumly, ruing the abuse he had rained down upon me for the past thirty miles. “Whatever, Dandy,” I said.

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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Head hopping

February 25, 2017 § 18 Comments

We pulled up at the world infamous Rosena Ranch race course, where teammate Dave Ellis had just finished racing. “How’d it go?” I asked.

“Great,” he said. “I was in a good position the whole race, stayed out of the wind, and didn’t kill that guy.”

“What guy?”

“The guy who fell down in front of me.”

“What happened?”

“Dude had a bicycle falling off incident and put his head in front of my front wheel going 35. I had to bunnyhop it.

“What happened after that?”

“I’m not sure. I think the other riders all ran him over.”

“Oh yeah, I think I saw the emergency medical services U-Haul rental pickup.”

“The one with the hay bales in back and the loose bottle of cheap tequila bouncing around in the bed?”

“That one,” I said.

Major Bob, Surfer Dan, Baby Seal, Congressional Quarterly, the Hun and I had driven up in Major’s unmarked Mercedes van. We were champing at the bit to race our bicycles and hopefully not fall off of them.

My race, the combined 45+/50+ leaky prostate division (raced together, scored separately), went off at a torrid pace, so torrid in fact that after my first fruitless flail I fell back into the pack, caught my breath, and then moved back up by conveniently hopping over the bright yellow line.

I think that even may have been the yellow line we were advised about by the moto ref prior to the start. “Gentlemen [lie], do not cross the yellow line or you will be immediately dq’ed. No exceptions. This means YOU.”

No sooner had I moved over the yellow line and advanced fifty places than the moto ref came up next to me and screamed, pointed, and sent me to the back without any supper. Was I dq’ed? Who knew? What I knew was that Klasna, Kirk Bausch, and the Hun were dashing up the road in the first serious move of the day, and it was time to chase after them.

Soon enough we had a break of nine, including Major Bob, which was fortunate because it meant that he now had a reason not to drive home without us. We lost a rider, and after much pedaling Klasna and KB pedaled harder than we did and pedaled away up a hill and around a corner and they were not seen again until many laps later, a/k/a after the race finished.

However, unlike other sports where the first person across the line is the winner and everyone who is not the first person across the line is a loser, leaky prostate bicycle racing has a number of clever conventions to make sure that many people can be winners even if they technically are losers. The most perfect of the conventions is the “raced together, scored separately” convention.

This means (and you will need a notebook here) that if you have a 45+ and a 50+ race together, some people will register as 45+ and others as 50+, and the first person in each of those categories is the winner, in other words, you could have a situation where you had, for example, a breakaway of eight people, and seven of them were 45+, and they all finished ahead of the 50+ entrant, but since the 50+ entrant was the first 50+ entrant he would be declared the winner of his race and get fame, acclaim, worship, and the $45 winner’s check while the 45+ riders who finished in places 2-7 would all be losers even though they finished ahead of the 50+ winner.

If this seems simple, there is something wrong with you (number one), and you should get a job as a bike race official (number two) because a scrum of people rushing past is hard enough to score in the proper finishing order, much less the proper age category. This is actually great because it allows for the second great thing about leaky prostate bicycle racing, which is known as the “results protest.” Experienced masters racers always bring extra wheels, gasoline, and a pitchfork. More about that later after you wake up.

Anyway, there I was in a chase group of six while Klasna, who is over the age of 50, and KB, who is older than 45 but less than 50, were up the road. So it seemed like the best I could hope for was 2nd place in the 50+ category, since everyone else in the chase group was in the 45+ category.

However, another great thing about leaky prostate bicycle racing, in addition to its multiple opportunities to declare yourself the victor, is the odd fact that you will occasionally have a rider who is over 50 and racing in a combined 45+/50+ field, but who has registered as a “45+” rider. So just because a rider is over fifty and riding in the 45+/50+ race, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has registered for the 50+ category, since by definition anyone who is over 50 is also over 45 and can therefore choose either category.

So why would an older rider choose a younger category? Can you say “vanity”? The answer is simple: To the leaky prostate racer himself, there appears to be a huge difference in age between 45 and 50, and even though the rest of the world simply sees a bunch of wrinkly old balls going slowly around in circles, the wrinkly old balls would rather be 45+ than 50+ because it seems younger and not quite as wrinkly and potentially in need of fewer illegal testosterone supplements.

Therefore, the only way to tell whether a particular racer is 45+ wrinkly balls or 50+ wrinkly balls is by looking at his race number, since the clever race officials give a different number series to the 45+ to distinguish them from the 50+. In our race the 45+ number series began with prime numbers divisible by seven, and increased in half-integers up to the square root of pi. The 50+ numbers all began with the number 8 billion. So it was pretty easy to tell the difference if you were paying attention and had an advanced degree in math.

Unhappily, when Klasna and KB rolled I neglected to look at Klasna’s number, but rightly assumed that he was an aged 50+ wrinkly balls like me and therefore he would win and I would get second, since all the remaining numbers in the chase were prime numbers divisible by seven. We continued to race, which is another way of saying that everyone screamed at everyone else to “work together,” invoking the spirit of Jack from Illinois (not his real name) as no one worked, and certainly not together.

I finished the race and went over to Klasna to congratulate him on his win, only to notice that his number was a prime number divisible by seven, which meant that I, who had finished last in the chase group, was the only rider who had a number that began with 8 billion, making me the winner of the 50+ race. It was a glorious if complicated victory indeed and I savored the thought of how I would spend my $45, minus the $35 entry fee, minus the $15 fee for the second race, minus the $15,000 in gear.

So I sauntered over to the stinky toilets, which was appropriately where they posted the race results, and saw that I was nowhere on the result sheet, and that Dandy Andy, who had finished in the second chase group, had been declared the glorious winner and was entitled to the $45 emoluments appertaining to race victor.

Now the real race began, otherwise known as the “results protest.” I and fifteen other disappointed riders went over to the officials’ station to complain about having been left off, misplaced, or given 56th place instead of 57 1/2. Many tantrums were thrown, grown men challenged one another to duels, statements were made about various people’s mothers, and the obligatory money changed hands in order to make sure that the integrity of the process was properly respected.

In other words, I was crowned 8th place finisher champion winner, given the $45, and went proudly back to Major Bob’s van only to see that in his race Surfer had experienced a bicycle falling off incident so severe that it left his 100% carbon bicycle, made of pure carbon, broken into fifteen pieces, seven of which were the fork alone.

Much sadness and gnashing of teeth were had, particularly since all agreed that the shards and remnants qualified as “Even Fireman Can’t Tape That Back Together And Resell It On Craigslist As Like New.”

Eventually someone asked Surfer Dan how he was, and of course he was fine since he only landed on his head at about 40 mph. Baby Seal’s race had been uneventful, and Congressional Quarterly had decided after eight laps that he should probably return to the van and check to make sure his coffee thermos was still there, which thankfully it was.

Happy and brimming with confidence at my eighth place championship victory I started the 35+ race and immediately made my mark by quitting some few hundred yards after the starting line. It was just as well, since Karl Bordine was feeling particularly ill-tempered and rode by himself for 15 laps until he won and everyone else did not.

I returned to the stinky toilets and took the obligatory podium photo with Dandy Andy, who is also a strict adherent of “Don’t Raise Your Arms On The Podium Unless You’re Holding A Bouquet And Are Surrounded By 100,000 Screaming Fans On The Champs-Elysees After Winning The Tour.”

We piled back into Major Bob’s van, promised to send him gas money through PayPal, never did, and got home tired and hungry and happy, except for Surfer Dan, who had agreed to list the bike’s condition as “Fair” after he got it back from Fireman.

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END

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Chasing the $

February 18, 2015 § 31 Comments

Scattered observations on a Tuesday afternoon, scattered because earlier today Outlook slammed shut and the .pst data file got corrupted. That’s okay! It’s only 15-gigs and it only has 99,000 files!

Fortunately, MicroStupid has the Outlook Inbox Repair Tool and his name is Bill Gates. You turn on the repair tool and it scans the .pst file, except the word “scan” doesn’t quite fit. When I was kid I learned that “scan” meant to quickly look over something, but in MicroStupidese “scan” means “pull out the Sunday Times or Thomas Mann’s ‘Magic Mountain’ in German because it’s gonna take a while.”

After scanning, or shall we say trundling, the Tool indicated that my file was corrupted. Was I surprised to learn that something associated with me is corrupt? No. So I hit the “repair now” button and it did what MicroStupid is famous for: Hanging.

“Perhaps there’s a repair tool for the repair tool?” I wondered. So I googled “repair tool repair tool” and it took me to http://www.bighairytools.com. I won’t hyperlink; you’ll have to find that fifty-first shade of grey on your own.

Like an idiot I then reinstalled MS Office and since we apparently have the Cox Discount Internet Package, where electrons are hand-carried over to my apartment one by one in a wheelbarrow, it’s going to take a while. And we won’t mention the unhappy fact that after it’s reinstalled, the .pst file will still be corrupt.

Anyway, scattered.

Chasing the money

On Sunday I was scattered, too. Scattered from chasing Greg Leibert a/k/a G$ as he attacked nonstop for fifty minutes at the CBR Crit #2 over in Carson. Greg didn’t win but he rode a real bike race while almost all of the eighty other riders in the field hunkered down, did nothing, and waited for the sprunt.

The mere act of following G$’s attacks makes you feel like you did something worthwhile, even though all it got me was worn out. And in their defense, the reason that most of the other wankers didn’t attack is because they couldn’t.

This is gonna be gnarly

Lots of social media howler monkeys have shrieked with glee upon hearing the news that Drugstrong got popped for a cool $10m when he lost his “I perjured myself like a fugger but a crooked deal’s a deal” defense at the SCA arbitration. He’s also being sued for the balance in state court, and the Feds + Floyd are about to give him the Sodom + Gomorrah treatment in the whistleblower suit as they seek $300m in damages. With an estimated net worth of $125m, Drugstrong is going to look back on 2015 as the year he moved back in with his mom.

I know that gives a lot of people pleasure. It’s fun to watch rude and mean people get hammered, I suppose. I have to confess that when he first got dethroned I thought he was going to make a clean breast of things and that he would take the noble route and be a noble guy. Color me garishly stupid. But none of it makes me particularly happy, any more than it makes me happy when a convicted killer gets life without parole. Mostly I just feel sad. Sad for the victims, sad for the perp, and sad for Betsy.

Bikes still make kids happy

On a super happy note, Matt Smith’s appeal on this wankerish blog netted a bunch of free bikes for his high school’s new MTB team, as well as clothing, equipment, and donations. What a wonderful bunch of people you are. You’ve made a difference in the lives of these kids. They’ll remember what you did long after you’ve forgotten. Too bad you have such lousy taste in reading material.

Tri-dorks heart Bike scum

Speaking of lousy reading material, I was blown away that my tongue-in-cheek rant about triathletes and bike weight got posted in the biggest tri-dork chat forum, Slowtwitch. Not surprised that they picked it up, but surprised that a bunch of them made friendly comments. Most of the time when something I write winds up on a forum it gets burned to the ground because apparently a lot of people think that I write news, or that I report facts, or that I really think I know anything about the subjects I write about.

Anyway, thanks to all you tri-dorks you got the joke, even if it was a pretty lame one. And thanks as well to the one tri-dork on the forum who took it all very seriously and was outraged that I’d be so outrageous and that I was also wrong and a hypocrite. That dude spends way too much time on my sister publication, Red Kite Bore.

Golf is “Flog” spelled backwards

Mega-props to Emily Georgeson, the “sprinter” who got 2nd at Punchbowl behind Katie Donovan, the quintessential twiggy climber type who sprints like a battleship, corners like a city bus, but climbs like blood pressure at the Heart Attack Cafe. Emily’s success is down to hard work, smart riding, and a great coach-riding partner in Aaron Wimberley, but the meat and potatoes of her climbing prowess is our Thursday Flog Ride around the Golf Course.

That ride turns everyone into shrapnel. It’s tactical, there’s nowhere to hide, there are no stoplights, and it’s flat fuggin hard.

Skinned sausage

Speaking of hard, Robert Efthimos took a nasty tumble leading out the Cat 3 sprunt at CBR on Sunday and separated his shoulder. What’s worse, he also separated his carbon seat stays which are full carbon. Heal up, Sausage! And the next time you get the bright idea to do anything in a Cat 3 race other than NOT SIGN UP, don’t do it!

For those who don’t know it, Robert is the president-elect of La Grange, one of the oldest and most venerated racing clubs in the U.S. He is doing everything right to refocus the club back on racing, and his efforts have resulted in a strong La Grange presence at races. Guys like Robert and Greg Seyranian, who have an open door policy and who emphasize racing for people who JOIN A FUGGIN BIKE RACING CLUB are the key to the grass roots development that saw such amazing turnout at the races on Sunday. Hats off, Sausage. Hope you’re herding the frogs there for years to come.

The eyes have it

On a related note, Ronnie Toth called me the other day to talk about his MB Grand Prix crash that I’d written up several months ago. I expected a tongue lashing but got nothing of the sort. He was funny, polite, intelligent, and slightly butthurt (his words), and in the end we saw eye to eye regarding his terrible collision and the danger of the ubiquitous steel barriers.

Had Ronnie not been wearing his SPY shades he would have lost an eye, perhaps both. He’s had titanium reconstruction on part of his skull, and his nose was rebuilt with bone and cartilage from a rib. It’s amazing that he’s recovered so quickly, and when he told SPY about the sight-saving effect of the glasses, they gave him glasses … for life. Lots of reasons I support SPY, but nothing exemplifies it like this kind of stuff.

Huge props to Ronnie for getting back on the bike.

First blood

My good friend Michelle L. did her first bike race on Sunday. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, on the bike or off, and before she got into cycling she ran a lot and she ran fast. Michelle took the plunge and had a blast. She had a lot of encouragement which outweighed all the wankers who said “WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT????”

Answer: Because it’s thrilling and kind of dangerous and hard as hell and fun. Michelle rode towards the front and then rode AT the front for the last five laps and still snagged seventh. Welcome to the sorority, Michelle! [Note: Michelle is also one of the riders who does the Flog Ride, and there’s no way any crit is as miserable as that.]

Happy Camp

SPY Optic is having its grand opening on Friday, Feb. 20, from 10:00 AM to whenever at their full service retail outlet in Leucadia, located on the 101. There will be a happy hour and live music and male strippers and female porn stars and President Clinton and celebrity cyclists such as Greg LeMond, Sean Kelly, Jacques Anquetil, and Pee Wee Herman. So don’t miss it.

Upcoming races

Rosena Ranch Circuit Race is this Saturday. It’s the best, most awesome, challenging, technical, impressive, wonderful, and truly incredible race course in the history of the sport even though it’s in San Bernardino. Cycling fans will recall Rosena Ranch as the place where I broke my 30-year jinx and rode to solo victory against a field of midgets and a corpse. However, a win is a win, and if I can win there, so can you. Plus, there is lots to do in the surrounding areas, like meth and stuff.

Okay, looks like Orifice has been reinstalled, and as expected the .pst file is still corrupt. Time to plunk down $199.95 for DataNumen Outlook Repair. I’m sure everything will be fine.

END

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Wanky Fever

February 10, 2015 § 20 Comments

This past weekend saw me rise to my loftiest heights ever: With first, second, and third place finishes in SoCal road races, I am now the top racer on SPY-Giant-RIDE p/b GQ-6. As a result, after consultation with my agent and my attorney, I have decided to tender a request that SGR renegotiate my contract to reflect my significantly increased value to the team.

I’ve retained a forensic economist to formally evaluate the financial impact that my results have brought to my team and sponsors. In sum:

  1. After my win at Rosena Ranch, “Wanky Fever” has overtaken the SoCal, NorCal, and crappy-little-towns-in-DesertCal cycling scene.
  2. Facebag posts mentioning “Wanky Fever,” “leaky prostate,” and “he must be doping,” all affiliated with team SGR, have increased 2,504,882% over this time last year.
  3. The Twitter hashtag #wankyfever has appeared on cross-platform marketing campaigns as diverse as Pepsi, McDonald’s, and RuggedMaxx 2 organic male enhancement supplements.
  4. Share prices of SPY Optic rose 5.6% after Rosena Ranch, 3.4% after CBR Crit #1, and 2.9% after Tuttle Creek Road Race.

Although my success has resulted in some intra-squad strife, with other higher profile team riders somewhat perturbed at having their thunder stolen and replaced by Wanky Fever and its occasionally uncomfortable rash (red spots with occasionally open sores in embarrassing places), it makes sense that management carefully consider my demands. Competing teams have already begun to make inquiries as to my availability — Wanky Fever yellow wristbands have begun popping up on training rides.

The only real issue in my contract demand concerns the events at the Tuttle Creek Road Race this past Saturday. Although it was a decisive, powerful, emphatic second place podium spot, detractors are characterizing it as “totally fuggin’ lame” and a “last place finish” simply because there was only one other rider in my category.

In fact, here’s how it all played out:

Manslaughter and I made the 3-hour drive to Lone Pine, a cozy community located at the foot of Mt. Whitney, in about an hour and a half. We got to the parking lot and asked a question you normally don’t have to ask at bike races. “Where are the racers?” followed by “Where is race registration?” followed by “Is there a race today?” followed by “Goddammit Wanky, are you sure it’s the right day?”

After a while Motoman drove up in his white van and took out a card table. The bitterly cold wind mixed with freezing rain was sweeping down from Mt. Whitney, which at 14,000 feet was still covered in snow. Motoman disappeared and a couple of other cars with bikes on top drove into the parking lot.

One of them parked next to us and out jumped a rotund fellow wearing a yellow flappy rain jacket. “You here for the race?” Manslaughter asked.

“Yep,” said Flappy. “I’m doing the 35+.”

“You’ll murder that porker,” I snickered to Manslaughter as Flappy hopped on his bike to check out the 12-mile course.

About that time a rider dressed head to toe in Rapha, and obviously a rank beginner, began prancing around in the parking lot. “Oh, jeez,” I said. “That poor dork is gonna get destroyed. He should be trying to upgrade from Cat 5 at a crit, not out on a man’s course like this.”

I had preregistered earlier in the week, and as of the night before I was the only rider in the 45+ category who had signed up. So the odds of “there’s no way you can lose” were looking good, even for me. Motoman walked over to the car. “Hey, Wanky,” he said, sticking a number into the window. “Just put your number in your back pocket. I know who you are.”

“Is this race actually going to happen?” asked Manslaughter.

“Oh, hell yes,” said Motoman.

“I’m doing the 35+,” Manslaughter continued. “How many riders are you expecting?”

Motoman paused and thought. “About 15.”

“Twelve riders in the 35+? Are you kidding? That’s nothing.”

“Who said anything about the 35+?” asked Motoman. “I’m talking about the whole race.”

“How many in the 35+?” asked Manslaughter.

“About three, maybe four.”

“How can you run a race with only four people in it?”

“Easy. All the categories race together. Better get warmed up. Race starts in thirty minutes.”

We assembled our bikes and got changed, but decided against warming up because the weather was so miserable, so instead we got back into the car, turned the heater onto “steel smelter” and ate a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. Then we were still hungry so we had a couple of Harmony Bars, some fruit, and bunch of energy drink. Pretty soon we had to get out of the car because of the farts.

At the starting line Motoman gave a rambling speech, telling us about each curve, each turn, each cattle guard, and each pothole on the course. “And for everyone who finishes, we’re getting together across the street at Bubba’s Pizza — and the pizza’s on me.”

There appeared to be no one in my category, which meant all that I had to do was finish and I’d win. But at the last minute a craggy, wrinkly, haggard, spindly, broken down old man rolled up to the line. “What the hell is that?” I wondered. “An entry in the 100+ category?”

“Hey, man,” I said, sticking out my hand. “You doing the 45+?”

“Yep,” he said with a friendly smile. “Sure am.”

“Great,” I said. “Me, too.” What I didn’t say is that I intended to break him in half like a matchstick, kick him out the back on the first climb and leave him for dead. “Have a good race,” I said.

“You, too,” he said as Motoman blew the whistle.

Manslaughter was riding next to me as our peloton of fifteen idiots pedaled off at a pace that would barely have kept up with a Friday coffee cruise. Flappy had returned from his reconnaissance mission and was hanging at the back. A group of Black Star racers in the P/1/2 field were at the front, chatting.

I looked at Manslaughter. “This is the stupidest joke race ever.” He nodded. “I guess we’ll do a couple of laps and then maybe heat things up a bit. No need to do anything ’til then. If these wankers want to hold hands and pedal like grannies that’s fine with me.”

After about five minutes we came to a slight rise. It was very short, only a couple of hundred feet, and the road twisted away behind a rock wall so you couldn’t see where it went. The scenery was spectacular, the most beautiful backdrop I’ve ever seen at a bike race and the road was perfectly free of cars.

We went up the little rise, twisted off to the right and went up a little more, and then a little more, and then suddenly it wasn’t very little any more. The hand-holders got out of the saddle and punched it as the road climbed; in seconds I had gone from comfy to gasping.

The climb turned out to be the hardest one I’ve ever done in a bike race. It was three miles long and constantly switched between a moderate gradient and short, steep pitches. By the time we were halfway up there were only seven riders left, and then as I massively cracked, only six.

One of the six was, of course, Great Grandpa a/k/a Scott McAfee a/k/a Antivirus. Manslaughter developed a terrible pain in his hamstring, which spread to his muscles, arms, back, lungs, heart, and brain, and quit the race. As I struggled alone, Rapha Boy, who was indeed a Cat 5, came charging by. I jumped on his wheel and he viciously towed me back up to Great Grandpa, who had been shelled along with one of the Cat 2’s from the leading group.

“Now all I have to do is hang onto Great Grandpa,” I muttered, “and crush him at the end, preferably by driving a wooden stake through hit head.”

Rapha Boy never swung over, bulling his way up to the top of the climb, then turning onto the next three miles of rolling climb, then turning onto a final nasty half-mile headwind uphill pitch, then turning onto another endless series of rollers to the long 55-mph downhill that gave us an entire two or three minutes of rest before hitting the beginning of the loop and starting the entire miserable thing all over again.

Rapha Boy had obviously misunderstood the whole category thing, because he was in a fury and riding faster than anyone in the race except for the P/1/2 leaders, who had vanished long ago. As we approached the beginning of the climb he jumped hard. Great Grandpa and I followed. He jumped again, rested, jumped again, rested, and jumped again like a poisonous jack-in-the-box being wound up by a sadistic child.

Halfway up he jumped again, and I de-jumped. Great Grandpa went with him, breaking me in half like a matchstick, kicking me out the back leaving me for dead as he crushed my by driving a wooden stake through my head. With two and a half laps of utter misery to go, the freezing rain seeping into my crevices, the thin air shredding my throat and lungs like sandpaper, and the hellish climb making every stroke worse than declining German nouns, I soldiered on knowing that it would still be second place if I finished.

As I slogged through the finish at the end of Lap 2, Motoman yelled at me encouragingly. “Go to the front!”

At the bottom of the climb on Lap 3, a hairy Cat 2 dude with a beard like a Russian Tsar’s charged by and didn’t even say “hello.” A minute later I was caught by Tristan, another Cat 2 who was a tad large to be contesting such a bitter climber’s course, and Flappy, who was so happy to catch me he couldn’t contain himself.

He looked over at Tristan. “That’s the benefit of being an experienced time trialist,” he said. “I really know how to pace myself.”

It was bad enough to get shelled by Great Grandpa. It was worse to get abused by Cat 5 Rapha Boy. But to be chided by Flappy was more than I could take, so when Tristan upped the pace I went with him. Flappy ended up pacing himself backwards for the rest of the race and we didn’t see him again.

Tristan then hunkered down, creating a massive draft, and towed me around for the remainder of the race. We finally caught and dropped Tsarbeard, too. I angrily reflected that if I’d registered for the 35+ I would have won, and considered asking Motoman to retroactively change my category. But unlike me he’s a guy with integrity, so I didn’t bother. Great Grandpa had beaten me by well over five minutes.

In sum, the race was challenging beyond belief. The scenery gorgeous. The roads devoid of traffic. It was one of the best races I’ve ever done, and certainly the hardest. So I think my sponsors will understand it when my agent demands more money, a fluffer, and hotel rooms that always look east. It’s the least they can do for me.

END

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