Tink kicks ass, doesn’t bother taking names
January 12, 2019 § 6 Comments
Local rider and professional cyclist Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, voted 2018’s Rider With The Hardest Name To Spell, stood on the podium at the end of Stage Two in the Women’s Tour Down Under yesterday.
Although she refused to credit her victory to her three or four rides with shadow coach Wanky, the editorial board here at Cycling in the South Bay was determined to take credit for her success whether it was due or not.
We called Kristabel in Australia, waking her up from a deep slumber a few hours before she had to get up and start preparing for the crucial Stage Three. “Who is this?” she asked.
“It’s me, your shadow coach.”
“How did you get my number? And why are you calling me in the middle of the night?”
“I wanted to interview you about how I trained you into the racer you are today.”
The line went dead, but I was not deterred, so I began calling my sources in the South Bay, riders who had played a pivotal role in developing Tink into one of the most feared riders in the pro peloton. My first call was to Chief, the man who had discovered Tink one day as she pedaled along the bike path.
“Yo, Chief, Wanky here. Did you see the story about Tink?”
“I did, indeed.”
“Could you say a few words about how you discovered her?”
“Sure. I’ll never forget it. She passed me on the bike path one day and I immediately recognized world class talent, so I rode up to her to give her some advice.”
“What was the advice?”
“I was going to tell her she was talented and should join a development club like Team Lizard Collectors.”
“Then what happened?”
“Nothing. I was breathing so hard when I caught up I couldn’t talk. She saw a greasy old man sweating last night’s hangover profusely out of every pore, and sprinted away.”
“Got it.” Next I phoned up the rider who had taught her more than anyone, Team Lizard Collector’s legendary Dear Leader, G3. “Yo, G3. Tink killed it at the Tour Down Under yesterday. Any quotes about how you taught her everything she knows?”
“Of course, of course. First I put her on a rigid schedule. Mondays off. Tuesdays LT efforts for 2 hours. Wednesdays big ring intervals up Via del Monte. Thursdays NPR with sprints. Fridays easy spin. Saturdays Donut Ride. Sundays 2 x 2 pacelines to the Rock at 75% of threshold.”
“And then what happened?”
“I dunno. She did the Monday day off that I advised and then got a coach. I only rode with her a couple of times after that.”
“And is that when you shared your wisdom with her?”
“Sort of. But she kept dropping me so I couldn’t really talk much.”
“Check. Thanks, bro.” Next I called up Psycho Mike. “Yo, Mike. Wanky here. Didja see the news about Tink?”
“Any choice quotes about how you helped her become the great rider she is today?”
“After the restraining order I couldn’t really help her that much.”
“Oh, right. Thanks.” Finally I rang up G$. “Yo, Money. You see the news about Tink?”
“Can you give me a coupla quotes about how you trained her to be one of the world’s best?”
“Wanky,” he said. “Genes.”
June 5, 2018 § 7 Comments
It is very hard to beat EA Sports, Inc. in a bicycle race. There are a lot of reasons for this, but here are the main ones:
- Ninja pack awareness and handling.
- Knows how to hurt.
- 1500 watts on the flop.
At today’s Telo #fakerace, we had about twenty-five members of Team Lizard Collectors and a smattering of other riders. As we did the first courtesy lap I advised my fellow collectors that “We need to attack early and often, and sit the fuck up if EA Sports, Inc. is with you, or bridges, because we couldn’t generate 1500 sprint watts if we pooled the output of our five fastest lizards.”
The attacks came early and often, and at ten minutes in I shouted at Pornstache to “Hit it!”
He didn’t really know what I meant, or he didn’t think I was talking to him, or he thought it was another diabolical Wanky trick to get him to expend a bunch of energy to my sole benefit, but after the fourth yell, he stood up and went.
Pornstache has the acceleration of a fully loaded bus going up a steep grade, but once he hits a certain speed he launches like an exploding zit, and it happened into the headwind. Everyone was winded from the wind except for Medium Banana, who hopped on.
The Hun was dawdling at the front; he’s one of the strongest lizard collectors we have. “Go, Hun!” I shouted, and while everyone gasped, the Hun jumped, caught on and pedaled away.
EA Sports, Inc. saw the gap, and saw it grow. Magically, all 300 lizard collectors sat up. No one chased. Were we witnessing the mythical #fakerace unicorn … of … team tactics?
The handful of nonaligned riders, including Greensox, tried to make common cause, but Team Lizard Collectors marked every move, chased every attack, and interfered with every organized chase. I felt kind of bad, riding like a complete wanking clogstacle until I reflected that I am in fact just that, and even more importantly, Team Lizard Collectors was finally going to pull off the unbelievable: A #fakerace win through teamwork, wits, and the Jack from Illinois (not his real name) technique of “work together.”
Despite a dozen or so 1,000-watt efforts, EA Sports, Inc., finally resigned himself to the field sprint. I had my post-race apology well burnished by the time the race ended and the three-man break finished with a solid 20-second gap on the field: “Hey, buddy, sorry to ride like a worthless wheelsucking POS clogstacle, but it’s about time that Team Lizard Collectors won a Telo #fakerace. We need this for our team.”
I figured he’d say something like, “Whatever, dude,” but instead what he said was “Uh, I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think what?” I said, having delivered my speech perfectly.
“I don’t think you guys won.”
“No, man, Medium Banana dusted your two guys in the sprint like a housewife working a rugbeater.”
I looked over at Medium Banana, who had the look on his face of, what’s that called? A winner.
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May 30, 2018 § 2 Comments
Team Lizard Collectors was established to promote sanctioned amateur bike racing. Since 2009, the club continues to churn out new racers, many of whom continue with the sport, making it an integral part of their lives. I’m not saying that’s a good thing …
At the same time, the racing topography gets tougher and tougher as fewer racers attend fewer events. If you belong to the generation of racers who remembers when Cat 4 events were full, thousands of people spectated at local events, and “master” meant a character in the Karate Kid, and if you haven’t completely given up on the idea that bike racing really is a net positive, here is one thing that might help your club: Excitement.
Not an oxymoron
I know it sounds absurd to suggest that anything related to bike racing is exciting, but that’s your cynic gene talking. Remember back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you did your first bike race? Remember the clenched gut? The puckered rectum? The three toilet trips before leaving the house and the four more visits to the port-o-potty once on site?
Remember your legs quivering on the line? Remember your life flashing before your eyes as the ref read the instructions?
Remember the thundering rush of adrenaline when the whistle blew, and your ears roared with the heaving, clacking, whirring sound of riders launching off the line?
Of course you don’t, you can barely remember how to tie your shoes, that’s why you wear sandals. But all those things once happened, I promise, and they were exciting as hell.
Bike racing can be boring to watch when put in the hands of the appropriately brain-dead announcers (“Here they come again …”), but for the beginning participant it is like the birth of a galaxy, and you’re the center of it.
Enter the lizard
Here at Team Lizard Collectors we are fortunate to have numerous members who like to race their bikes. But among this collection of nutjobs, one group stands out: The tent elves. These are the people who do the hard work making our team tent magically rise every race, sprouting all kinds of things necessary for the care and maintenance of #profamateur bodies and #supertender egos.
Among our elves, none stands out more than Chief Elf.
Chief Elf is actually not very elfin, towering over everyone at 6’3 or so and riding a bicycle big enough to make waves in a circus, but he is very elf-like in that he goes about the business of getting TLC ready on race day in a quiet, unassuming way. He shows up before the sun rises, quietly puts on his loudest assortment of AC-DC noise, puts up the Team Lizard Collectors tent, plants the TLC sponsor flags, hangs the TLC sponsor banners, sets up the TLC lizard recliner chairs, stocks the table with food and drink, sets up the rollers and the trainers, gets the number spray ready, and makes sure that when the first bleary-eyed racer staggers to the venue that he/she is greeted with comfort, camaraderie, and excitement.
Because Chief Elf really is excited about the race, and about your race, not mention about his. Chief Elf is of course buried six feet deep in #profamateur racing delusions, so he fits right in with the rest of us. He’s ready to talk about stragety, about the course, about lessons learned, and about what you might need to make sure your loins are sufficiently girded before battle.
Some say he is gentle and soothing like sandpaper, others that he is deft and unnoticed like shaving your privates with the shard from a broken bottle, but all agree that it is his enthusiasm and commitment to the cause that make the big tent of TLC a truly Big Tent, where everyone’s welcome regardless of speed or of creed.
If your race-day club set-up involves a pair of brokedick, sad sack schmoes standing around the car trying to borrow a couple of safety pins, that might be a message about the excitement of racing you really don’t want to convey. The message you’re looking for is wild-eyed, enthusiastic, completely delusional BIKERACER NUTJOB.
You may be fifty, but if you race hard enough and train hard enough you are gonna make the Tour next year or at least get your Cat 4 upgrade, and even if you don’t, you will have a ton of fun trying.
Fun and excitement. They work.
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Masters of none
May 13, 2018 § 21 Comments
My grandfather used to get up early every morning, shave, get dressed nicely, put on his porkpie hat with the little feather in the band, and drive his ’62 Chevy Impala down to Pearson’s Rexall Drugstore in Daingerfield, Texas. By 7:00 AM there would be a small group, five or six retirees sitting at their stammtisch, drinking coffee, and gossiping.
That’s all they did. Gossip. When the news was especially big, like the time the embalmer at Nail-Haggard Mortuary (a real place) ran off with a teenager to live in a shack in the woods, the old gossipy men in the drugstore would shamble out at a fast trot in order to be first home with the news.
Although the town looked at those old codgers affectionately, they were anything but. All they did was sit around and talk shit about people. They weren’t leaders in their community, in their church, or in any of the town’s charitable institutions. They didn’t get involved in youth activities, never ran for office, and never donated so much as a dime unless their wives forced them to. They were mostly stingy, selfish old men, arch conservatives, deeply racist hypocrites who railed against taxes and big gummint even as they benefited from it more than anyone else. They were often drunks whose only hobbies in life were cards and horse racing.
Eventually their little cabal faded away because they all died. They never brought younger people into the circle, and one by one they were laid out at Nail-Haggard, buried, and forgotten. The Rexall eventually shuttered, too.
Team Lizard Collectors revolt
The handwriting has been on the USAC wall so long that people no longer pay attention to it, like graffiti you pass daily until it blends into the landscape. Here’s what the handwriting has said for the last twenty years: “Masters racing is killing sanctioned amateur bike racing in the U.S.”
Of course there are other forces at work. Strava, a crappy product, instant gratification, selfie-cycling, and fun > achievement have all helped snap the mainmast and drive USAC onto the shoals.
But few things have been as destructive as masters racers. Simply put, they are spoiled, entitled, whiny, narcissistic, stingy, arch-conservative old gossips, just like the geezers who used to huddle at the Rexall in Daingerfield. What’s so incredible is that even among cyclists they stand out for their delusions.
Team Lizard Collectors has long been a collecting pot of dorks. You can’t belong to TLC without being a dork. If this sounds harsh, it isn’t. TLC is one of the only racing clubs that acknowledges the truth: Dressing up in a plastic clown suit and prancing around town on a child’s toy for which you have paid thousands of dollars is dorky. This includes Peter Sagan, sorry.
And TLC has succeeded because of its “Open Dork” policy, which welcomes every rider regardless of age, ability, or delusion. Virtually no experienced racers sign up with TLC. Instead, the team’s racers, with maybe one exception, are beginners who were initially dorks writ large, and who, through practice and falling on their face at the Mothballs Crit in Santa Barbara, eventually became somewhat competent bike racers. Of course this competence didn’t come in a vacuum. Team Lizard Collectors won the Team Championship Trophy for the CBR Crit Series last year, and has been active enough that the squad has had more race entries the last five years than any other team in SoCal, by a huge margin.
You would think that dorks would never forget their dork roots, and would always remember that no matter how many times they got third at the 50+ crit in Ontario, it was only a couple of years ago that they, too, were floundering off the back, or floundering over the handlebars face-first at Mothballs.
But if you think that, you understand nothing about human nature and road racing.
Enter the #winners, I mean #whiners
After a couple of seasons of getting third or tenth, it naturally came to pass that at least one of these ex-dorks suddenly adjudged that the other 200+ members in TLC were the true dorks. Why weren’t the other 200+ members racing? Or more accurately, why weren’t the other 200+ dorks helping Mothballs get that elusive win?
Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what the rest of us see, i.e. a droopy, worn-out old shoe, the #winners looked into the mirror and saw unrecognized potential. Raw talent that just needed a little bit extra in organization and teamwork to bring home The Biggest Prize of All, i.e. first place at Ontario … or anywhere, for that matter.
And so, in a process as old as time, it is possible that the cream of the wrinkled, saggy, dessiccated 50+ crop will break away from TLC and form a new, wonderful, amazing, success-studded team of … leaky prostate masters chumpions. Sadly, it never occurred to Team Masters of None that they are doomed to fail.
Because they are.
The metrics of masters racing
In Southern California, America’s mecca for masters bicycle racing, there is exactly one “elite” masters team that has been around for more than four years. It’s called Monster Media, it’s in San Diego, and it has four of the best, winningest racers in SoCal across all disciplines. If you don’t know Phil Tinstman, Karl Bordine, Dave Koesel, and Chris DiMarchi, you haven’t ever raced here much as a master.
Every other masters squad is either new, i.e. less than two years old, or it has accepted the reality that you cannot succeed over the long term as a racing team without also including crappy racers, or even non-racers. Why is that? Because elite masters racers, the majority of whom are anything but, are notoriously cheap and unwilling to join a team unless it can offer a substantial “deal.”
Don’t worry, it is. Because a “deal” means free equipment, steeply discounted pro clothing, steeply discounted bikes, tents, nutritional support, race fee reimbursement, lots of #socmed glory, and a customized team van if you can swing it. Did I mention that elite masters were cheapskates? They expect all of this to be provided to them, and incredibly, on every single masters team that has been around for long, IT IS.
But the providing never comes from the prima donna members, rather it comes from the working stiffs who own companies, who own law firms and accounting practices, who have succeeded in the real world even though they never have and never will succeed as a #socal #profamateur. It’s these “failures” along with the rank-and-file membership who pay the bills and do the heavy organizational lifting for the elite masters wankers, and leaving aside for a moment the craziness of all that money going to narcissistic old men rather than into junior racing development, masters race teams must have this type of financial support in order to survive.
If there weren’t free shit, why would a leaky prostate, delusional #profamateur join? Why would any of these selfish old men want to belong to an organization just to promote cycling, help newcomers, build community, organize grass roots events, and do a few races with friends at their own expense? Crazy talk, yo.
Enter the lizards
Team Lizard Collectors is, I’m sorry to say, the best racing deal ever. You get deeply discounted bikes. You get ALL YOUR RACE ENTRIES 100% REIMBURSED. If you’re Cat 1 or Cat 2 you get two free full kits valued at $245/apiece (one if you’re a lowly Cat 3). To help you with that arithmetic, you pay $45 and get up to $490 back. Complex, I know. Throw in my $483.00 race reimbursement from last year and it almost starts to look like I’m getting paid to race my bike.
You also get free/deeply discounted nutritional products from Beachbody Performance, an acknowledged world leader in the field. You get full race support at every race, in every category. This means a tent stocked with free food, drinks, coffee, and a professional masseuse. Yes, you read that right. And as a racer you don’t have to lift a finger. The race day elves magically put it all up before daybreak, and take it all down, hours after you’re home in bed touching yourself in special places as you relive that 35th place finish at CBR.
Yet … nothing is free in life, and nothing is free over at TLC, either.
To get all of this you have to pay the outrageous sum of $45 a year. But it’s even worse because you have to endure the humiliation of being surrounded by non-racers. By social butterflies. By weaklings who, although they think you’re awesome, fill your water bottle, like your #socmed fakeface, organize fun parties, plan social rides, and idolize you, they obstinately refuse to be awesome racers in your mold. And this is what’s intolerable, apparently.
The thought that you, a hero among droopy prostates, would have to wear the same uniform with the same logo and design as the social butterflies, who, although they bring new members to the club, although they slavishly work the events, and although some of them actually even race, are simply too dorky for you now. At the end of the day, there are only two kinds of people: Those who can get you the vee, and those who can’t. You ain’t got time for that second kind.
Here is the mentality that has led to the revolt: “I appreciate you helping me through med school and raising the four kids and working those two jobs, but now that I’m a big deal and making seven figures, you’re not good enough for me anymore. Good-bye. And here are some green socks.”
Don’t go away mad, just go away
Of course every big club has mass defections every one or two years. It’s the nature of the beast. A small group of disgruntled riders gets mad because their awesomeness isn’t appreciated, so they form a splinter club where like-minded “real racers” can focus on the business of winning, unencumbered by the losers who only like fun rides, tent set-up, and paying for stuff.
These splinter elite race teams never succeed. The first reason they fail is because once they form, they realize that they really only have one good rider–and by “good” I’m using their metric of winning races. And they quickly find themselves working for that one guy, which is what’s known as #buzzkill. Reducing team size also reduces excuse size. With a truly small, elite team, you’re only left with one excuse for losing: You suck.
The second reason these teams fail is that talk about doing a bunch of races is different from actually doing a bunch of races. When you are over 50 years of age, you are mostly dead. The only way you can race to win 20 or more races a season is by having no other significant responsibilities of any kind. This describes no one except maybe the good guy who you’re now having to work for all the time. So what happens is that the first three or four races you have full team participation, which means half of the ten-man squad shows up, and the rest of the year it dwindles and dwindles until it’s just you two.
This leads to Massive Race De-bonerization, where instead of looking forward to race day, you dread it. There’s no tent. There’s no swag. There are no idolizing non-racers to fill your bottle, or coo over you for not having won again. Instead, you’re getting beaten by the same people who have always beaten you and who will always beat you, and you don’t even have an awestruck groupie to explain how if you’d just gotten better position in the last turn you would have come around Tommy Robles. Right …….
The final reason your team fails is that you get slapped in the dick with the economic reality of having to do a full race program without the financial support of a 200+ membership club and the myriad financial resources they bring to the party. It’s when wifey says, “You just spent $1,200 in race entry fees last year!” that shit gets real.
And of course the final final reason is that you are an old, worn-out shoe. You aren’t Phil Tinstman now, just like you weren’t Thurlow Rogers then, and just like you won’t be Greg Leibert tomorrow. Your best years are so far behind that you’d need a telescope to see them, unless of course you aspire to be one of those 70+ “racers” at the velodrome who devotes their entire life to a fake world champion jersey they can wear at home, in the yard, and in the shower.
The final final final reason you’re gonna fail? Because every human community requires youth and mentoring to thrive. People, it turns out, get old. And the older they get, the more they die. Prior to dying they take crazy left turns like illness, insanity, senility, incontinence, and zero-T, which all result in No More Bike Racing.
Just like my grandfather’s little group of nasty old gossips, the narcissistic little world of masters bike racing has just drawn the walls in that much closer by excluding the young, the enthusiastic, the inexperienced, and those with the resources of time, money, and good will. Rather than being mentors, teachers, and advocates who realize that their best competitive years are decades behind them, yet another clique of Baby Boomer Trumpers will steal away to stroke their shaved legs in secret, praying for the lead-out that, unfortunately, ain’t never gonna come.
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Just beneath the surface
April 27, 2018 § 3 Comments
Team Lizard Collectors is a pretty big outfit. It has about three hundred members, most of whom I’ve never met. There’s another contingent who I kind of know by sight but have never ridden with, or I’ve ridden with them briefly and talked to them briefly-er. Especially there’s a dude who sometimes shows up at Telo and rides around in a TLC jersey and a floppy black pair of shorts.
Last night I was at the Team Lizard Collectors Prayer Circle, which was being held in the Chapel of Beer at Strand Brewing Co. One of the dudes there was Floppy Black Shorts Dude. He was normally attired. As I nursed my craft water we started talking and exchanging the pleasantries that bike riders always do. “How’s the riding going?” “Got any carbon?” “Are we friends on the Stravver?” and etc.
It started out pretty normal but then took a hard left turn.
“I’m going pretty well,” he said. “Upgraded to Cat 4 and I’m pretty pleased with that.”
“You should be,” I said. “It’s hard to be that deranged and that old all at the same time.”
He laughed. “Well, I’ve come a long way.”
“We all have,” I agreed. “I came from Texas. I bet you haven’t come that far.”
He laughed good-naturedly. “Thirteen years ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever come out of the ICU.”
“Really? What happened?”
“I was at work one day in my boss’s office and I felt something go pop in my head, then I felt kind of light headed, and then I sprawled across his desk, cleared it off like a broom, and collapsed on the floor.”
“Dang. I bet he was surprised. Most people just say, ‘Can I have a raise, sir?'”
“Right. I lay there and fortunately he was ex-military and in a few minutes EMS was there and the next thing I knew I was in the ICU.”
“Not the best ending to a Monday.”
“Or any day. Because I had something called an arteriovenous malformation, or an AVM.”
“I’m no doctor, but anything with ten syllables or more sounds real fuckin’ bad.”
“Yeah, it is. It’s basically a malformed network of blood vessels in the brain, and if it’s your unlucky day, a vessel breaks and you stroke out.”
“Dogdamn. I guess you lucked out then?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“You didn’t have a stroke. I mean, you look fine and everything.”
“I totally stroked out. When I woke up I couldn’t move the left half of my body. The docs said I’d never walk again.”
“How long ago was this?”
“About thirteen years.”
“I said ‘fuck that’ to the prognosis and decided I’d come back, even if I had to learn everything over again, which is what I did. First day of rehab they put a ball in my hand and I couldn’t even move my fingers. It took hours and days, man, just to be able to close my fingers around a ball, and once that happened, I had to learn the other thing.”
“What other thing?”
“How to let it go.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I’m not. It was like that with everything. Standing, walking, using the left half of my face to talk, every possible use of my fingers, arm, hand, leg, foot.”
“How long did it take?”
“But I saw you out at Telo the other day, hammering like a madman. You look great.”
“I’ll never be 100% on my left side. My ankle is all messed up and never really recovered, so I have a bit of a limp and can’t run anymore. But I don’t care. I can walk. I can ride. I got my life back.”
I looked at him for a second. He had this incredible smile on his face, the smile of someone who has been where you never have, and returned from it alive. Someone whose toughness and fortitude go out to the very limits of human endeavor. Someone who appreciates the simple act of breathing in and breathing out, the true gift.
“You know the best part?” he asked.
“What?” I said.
“I work for the government, so in order to really get up into higher management, some degree of significant brain damage is mandatory.”
“You know it!” he grinned.
After a few minutes the Prayer Circle started and we all began praying to the deity of Leibert. But Floppy Shorts Dude, I’m pretty sure, was praying to something else.
Statistics prove that there is a higher percentage of amazing people among cyclists than occur in any other subset of the human population, with the possible exception of cottage bakers. Their stories need to be heard (and the bakers’ wares need to be eaten) Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
The changing complexion of a bad rash
April 25, 2018 Comments Off on The changing complexion of a bad rash
Another Telo went off last night. There is something weird in the air or maybe in our water bottles, because tonight’s Telo was the biggest I can remember in ten years. What a few years ago was tagged, put in the cooler, and later autopsied (the heart and lungs donated to those needing a transplant, the rest of the body donated to science, and the brain thrown away due to its small size and surfeit of abnormalities), has come back like one of the Undead.
- Racing ain’t dead.
- If you take pictures of it and post them on the Internet, they will come.
The last three weeks have seen successive growth in racer turnout. There were forty racers all in all, including at least four women. The big pack has transformed Telo from a training crit into a bike race. Unlike the typical Telo edition, where Evens Stievenart rides everyone off his wheel, or whittles down the field into a tiny break and crushes his breakmates in the sprunt, today and last week there was actual racing involved with lots of racing stragety.
Although the 39 members of Team Lizard Collectors were unable to deny victory to arch-rival Methods to Whining, TLC mounted a number of valiant efforts which, at one point, forced MTW ninja-of-the-peloton Destroyer to single-handedly pull back a lethal TLC combo of David Ellis, Greg Seyranian, and David Wells. TLC refused to chase its own teammates (whaaaaat???), and worker-bee Knuckles happily rode up to the front and blocked.
It was a beautiful thing to see a break with no MTW riders in it, and even more beautiful to see MTW chase hard, although in the end MTW rider Aaron Wimberly incinerated the field with a fierce sprint, finishing so far ahead it was like swatting a fly with a flamethrower.
One of the things contributing to the difficulty of Telo is the prevalence of Hop-in-Wankers, riders who get lapped, hop back into the peloton refreshed, and then lend a hand with occasional chases, not to mention acting as clogstacles on the last lap as they sprunt for 15th among the non-lapped riders. Some people don’t like the H.I.W.’s but I do: It’s a frigging training race and people get stronger when they get shredded, jump in, and then put down another series of hard efforts.
Avoiding clogstacles on the bell lap, and moving up through a field of gassed riders is also much easier than doing the real thing on race day, so it’s great practice.
Kudos to all who came out and raced, and kudos to Tom Duong and Yasuko Davidson, who spent the entire hour cataloging this nonsense. Most of all, kudos to Joe Yule, the guy who brought Telo back to life–all hail the mighty Junkyard!
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Doping on Team Lizard Collectors?
April 15, 2018 § 6 Comments
So, imagine this: A USAC licensed racer on Team Lizard Collectors comes up to an unlicensed rider and says, “Here, put this in your water bottle. You’ll go faster.”
Freddie says, “What is it?”
Doper McDopefuck says, “It’s like 5-hour Energy. It will speed you up.”
McDopefuck stuffs a handful of small packets into Freddie’s trusting hand and moseys off. Freddie mixes the powder with water and the next day takes off on a ride with a friend. Freddie notices unusual speed and power and extreme stimulation. After an hour Freddie’s heart feels like it’s about to rip out of the ribcage.
Freddie, who has high blood pressure, gets off the bike and lies down. Freddie can’t breathe and thinks a cardiac event is about to kick off. “What’s wrong?” Friend asks Freddie.
Freddie tells Friend about the powder and after recovering enough to make it home, goes online and checks the label on the packet. Surprise! It’s a legal supplement that contains a relative of DMAA that is on the WADA list.
Shit just got real.
Dopers in the mist
The first part of the problem is simple: What to do about Doper McDopefuck and any other buddies who are loading up on DMAA and its banned cousins?
Answer: Report them to USAC’s clean cycling program and get on with your life. They will hopefully be surprised one day with a pee-pee test and get run out of the sport.
And don’t tell me it’s the board’s job to out people. Only USADA/WADA/national anti-doping bodies get to sanction dopers. That’s why Chris Froome is still racing and about to enjoy a big win in the Giro and another in the Tour.
For those dopers who don’t race and who dope to win group rides or Strava, well, they are fucked up, but as Thorfinn-Sasquatch taught us, recreational doping is a very real thing. Pity the cycling club that starts to weed out its non-racing members who are taking drugs, because the vast majority of cyclists take some kind of drug at some point that is on the WADA list.
Inhalers, pot, ecstasy, amphetamines, viagra, testosterone, and a plethora of legal drugs are regularly consumed by members of your cycling club. So what? They may be using it to get an edge on the group ride, or they may be using it for the purposes that it was prescribed. The first purpose is hardly illegal, and the second may well be medically necessary.
Anyone who joins a cycling board and wants to play narc is going to find himself in a full-time Inquisition, resulting in a club roster of 1.
The problem I have is with the Doper McDopefuck who pushes the drug onto the unknowing recreational rider. Those riders can suffer serious health consequences. The licensed racer taking a banned substance and passing it off to another rider deserves to be invited to go away and never come back.
I’ve never heard of a club that has a drug education policy. We need one, and your club does, too. In the same way that we advocate for safety, for nutrition, for good training techniques, and for fair play, we need to advocate for drug health. That means talking with our members about doping, about why it sucks, and about why it doesn’t comport with the goals of our club.
The next time an unsuspecting rider takes a drug pushed off on him by someone who is doping, and that unsuspecting rider dies or gets horribly hurt, it won’t be enough to say, “We didn’t want to harm the reputation of our club.” To the contrary, doping is everywhere in cycling and in life, and we have a duty to educate so that people can make informed decisions.
For those who think that the reputation of their entire club has been harmed because they admit to having a doping problem, well, your reputation is going to be harmed a whole lot worse when someone dies or winds up with a USADA sanction like Meeker or LeoGrande. Tackle the problem head-on, don’t sweep it under the rug. It’s easy to be smug when someone on another team gets caught cheating, less so when it’s your own group of friends and riding pals.
For those who dope to cheat others in sanctioned races, rat them out and send them packing. There’s no shame in having lying, cheating, sonsofbitches in your midst. The shame is not doing anything about them.
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Kicking and screaming
March 15, 2018 § 6 Comments
I get all kinds of email. Letters from Nigerian princes, potions that can make my parts young again, natty neckties and charming colognes, screaming discounts on Conti clinchers, you name it. Yesterday I was lucky enough to get this email from a friend:
“Every day I get a suggestion from FB to friend you, with a prompt that tells me how many mutual friends we have. And every day that number rises. Today we’re up to 37. Apparently these people don’t know that this is the Seth who is only here to host a work-related Facebag presence.
“As I was cruising around the golf course yesterday I was thinking about how, as you have observed, people come into and depart from the local cycling scene. They also come into and depart from the somewhat similar cycling #socmed world. The entries into these worlds can be temporary or intermittent, or in some cases lifelong, like a really bad prison sentence.
“And these people’s presence can be loud, with lots of contributions, being outspoken, driving the front, posting lots of selfies from coffee rides, or quiet, sitting in, sucking wheel from the posts of others. Their contributions vary as their cycling or #socmed time and emotional illnesses ebb and flow. And of course some of these “contributions” are not positive, those who glorify unsafe riding, being a dick, racing triathlons. Thankfully you still pillory such people, such as Rider X, whom you described in a blog post a few months ago. I hope the defamation suit comes out okay.
“But there way more good eggs than rotten apples. EA Sports, BoozyP., the Chocolate Rocket, Mr. and Mrs. Hair, Manslaughter, Smasher, Wily Greek, Surfer Dan, G3, Shirtless Keith, The One And Only Michelle, the French Connections, Skier Girl; enough to fill a madhouse. They all show up on occasion for bike rides or #socmed rides, sometimes they are consistent, but they can be gone for months or years. For me, when they’re around, I like it. They add a lot to rides, two-wheeled as well as the rides made exclusively from 1’s and 0’s.
“In the #socmed cycling world, some show up and can add a lot, and it’s generally a positive influence. Like JZ. For some reason Team Lizard Collectors really pulls people in, where people are so suddenly and addictively a part of this scene that it’s almost like a drug. They feel accepted and part of a group, a group that has common interests (lizard collecting, chasing down teammates) and often they discover new interests such as Strava, riding in PV or along PCH, Strava, enjoying beautiful scenery, getting fitter, carbon, 100% carbon, pure carbon, Strava, and getting to hang out with Greg Leibert, or at least claim to. (Please don’t let Yasuko join Strava.)
“Team Lizard Collectors isn’t like a club of IT support employees or an AA group; there’s too much exertion involved, so people get excited about it and go whole hog. It’s a common pattern, and it’s generally not sustainable, like doing intervals past the age of 50. You can’t spend four hours a day doing rides and taking pictures from the lookout on Del Monte as well as from Yellow Vase, and then three hours more on Facebag uploading and liking and commenting and emojiing. We’ll call that a verb.
“Toss in hours spent hitting the gram and more hours working the Twitter and pretty soon you are flat out #socmed overtrained.
“I say you can’t do it, but some people apparently can. However, the candle, not very long to begin with, shrinks quickly, burned as it is with a blowtorch on both ends. So eventually people get to a more sustainable place, or at least they gyrate to a sine wave with lesser amplitude. And that wave may be a large amount of ride time with minimal #socmed, or less-to-hardly-any ride time with bagsfull of Facebag. Or neither. I mean, there are other things in life like family, work, hobbies, and other interests. I’ve been told this by people I trust, even though I googled “other interests” and frankly FOUND NOTHING THERE.
“So does that mean that you, Wanky, have found your right mix, with a healthy amount of riding and no #socmed? Maybe. Or maybe for now. But it can change. You are nothing if not predictably unpredictable. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In your case, you departed with a bang, a grand announcement and some pretty impressive blogfare, moralizing, chest-thumping, and grand pronouncifying. So does that make your return rather shameful? I hope not. I for one wouldn’t think any less of you if you were to have some #socmed presence, and let’s face it: Hardly anyone thinks anything of you to begin with, so what have you really lost? If a Wanky vanishes from Facegag and no one cares, did it really happen?
“Is it possible you could Facebag in a non-binary way, more measured, kind of the opposite from the way you ride, write, talk, travel, read … live? I don’t know. You’re a pretty big character, and you tend to throw yourself into things fully, even though it does sometimes seem that you don’t always recognize the difference between a swimming pool and a septic tank until it’s too late. But I don’t see you often, and I wish I saw you more. Maybe your “new old new Facegag” presence will give me a little bit more of the Wanky that I crave. I’m not really a stalker, but I think about you a lot. I think that’s what they called a friend way back when.
“My other point is the old “out of sight out of mind.” In the case of your blog, I fear that it is out of people’s minds if they don’t see you on #socmed. Of course, you have the data, and are probably aware that with only seven readers, an additional three or four aren’t going to put you on the list of America’s billionaires. You know how many page views you’re getting. I hope. Of course, you also are intelligent, your blog notwithstanding, and you walk the walk as a cyclist, a racer, a lawyer, and an advocate. And your financial support of the local racing and cycling community is exceptional.
“So would some #socmed involvement for you be better than none? Maybe. Can it fit within the jet-setting life you live, hopping from one desolate hellhole and a cheap motel to the next, always flying coach? Maybe. You’re the best judge of that. But if you do flow back a bit into #socmed world, it might not be all bad. My $0.02, which you can add to my $2.99. And with that, it’s off to PV for some cycling.”
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No second chances
March 14, 2018 § 1 Comment
You always get another shot, right? That’s what I was thinking after finishing the 6:50 today, manhandled by lokalmotor Eric Anderson who, with the help of teammate Greg Lonergan, easily bested the five members of Team Lizard Collectors.
We had our trademark teammate chasedown stragety going full bore with half a lap on the Parkway remaining. I was stuck to Eric’s wheel like a dingleberry while Lonergan dangled at the back, gassed from the four-lap rotation.
Eric “Wall Street” Bruins jumped away, opening a nice gap, and the other Eric had no choice but to chase, or so he thought. Without warning, a lizard collector jumped, dragging Eric, the rest of the Collectors, and gassed Lonergan up to Wall Street. A couple of other fruitless lizard launches ensued, easily covered by Anderson.
With Wall Street, G$, Baby Seal, Surfer Dan, and I, it seemed like sensible tactics would have been to keep launching individual attacks and forcing Eric to cover, but we are Team Lizard Collectors, and we don’t do sensible. That’s when down-for-the-count Lonergan exploded up the side, opening such a big gap so quickly that he was going to win the imaginary sprunt for the #fakewin if someone didn’t chase him down. Note: That someone wasn’t going to be his teammate Eric, who clearly hadn’t graduated from Team Lizard Collectors’ tactical school of self-immolation.
A couple of hard efforts later and TLC had shut down Lonergan, but we were all tuckered out and Eric was fresh as milk from a cow’s teat. I did the pointless pull to the line, figuring that with three lizard collectors in our four-man group, surely someone would get second, and we did!
All the way home I consoled myself with the thought that there would always be another chance. When I arrived, clattering along the walkway, I noticed a small but unnatural brown lump on the narrow branch of a small tree. The branch was hanging out directly over the fake stream that funnels leaves and junk through our complex.
I looked at the lump again, then stopped. Something atop the lump was moving. I walked closer. As the covering leaves above and the ones below resolved in my line of sight, I saw that it was no ordinary brown lump, but rather an extraordinarily tiny nest, and the moving items atop the nest were two baby hummingbirds, not more than a couple of days away from their first flight.
I’ve watched birds all my life but have never seen a hummingbird nest up close. The fledglings looked at me anxiously and fidgeted in their nest. That’s when I noticed the deep (for them) and treacherous (for them) stream. Pretty soon their mom would be unable to feed them and they’d have to launch from the nest.
In turns they would stand on the ledge of that tiny brown refuge, lined as it was with soft feathers, and flitter a few feet away, trying to master the extraordinary complexities of flight, landing, and return to the nest. A momentary miss and one or both would end up in the stream. I watched them for a long while, and they watched me.
Then I walked away, gutpunched, pondering nature’s lesson.
No second chances.
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November 20, 2017 Comments Off on Playin’ possum
I have been feeling kind of sorry for my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ lately. He has gotten super old. I think he’s at least 56 or a 100. I can tell because he doesn’t go that good on the climbs anymore. G$ used to be the fastest climber anywhere, but I have ridden with him a few times lately and he is over the hill.
It’s a sad thing to see, a good buddy who’s a darn good ath-a-lete, one day going gangbusters and the next day all creaky-kneed and slow and hobbling around on a walker drinking pumpkin spice latte. I felt extra sorry for my good ol’ buddy ol’ pal because today was the second leg in the Big Orange a/k/a Team Lizard Collectors First Ever Annual Forevermore Galactic Championships, an amazing competition modeled after a bad haircut that includes a 1k TT, a hillclimb up Latigo Canyon in Malibu, and ten laps around Telo.
Today was the Latigo stage and like I said, it was bittersweet to see ol’ G$ show up, a shadow of his former self but still high-fiving and backslapping and being full of good cheer, like an old dog licking its master’s hand right before you take it out and shoot it. Latigo Canyon is a 40-minute climb if you are really fast, and ol’ G$, my good ol’ buddy ol’ pal, still has top 6 on one of the segments; the overall is owned by “Cookies” Gaimon, who stole it away from Doper McDopeface Levi Leipheimer.
It was a mass start and the thirty or so starters were nervous as they should have been because I had some fiery good legs and was not going to be taking any prisoners. My plan was to start slowly and then gradually ramp it up until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal. I didn’t want to drop him too quickly because if there’s one thing you learn over a lifetime of bike racing, it’s to show respect to your friends even when they are kind of broke down like one of Lee Iacocca’s K-Cars.
I had told Mrs. WM, who was traveling in the lead car to photo-document my impending victory, that I would be shattering the group at the ten-minute mark, so be ready.
The gun went off and Eric Bruins raced off the line like someone had stuck a string of lit Black Cats in his shorts. It was much faster than my plan stipulated, but I hopped on his wheel and waited. He is young and not too smart, so as soon as he blew up I would take over the pacemaking until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal.
After a few minutes Eric got really tired, exhausted and on the verge of collapse, actually, but he is one of those guys who likes to try and fake you out with fake toughness so he didn’t slow down at all. Then at about the time I was ready to gradually ramp it up until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ executed a silly, pointless, hopeless, very amateur, desperation attack.
It was everything he had (which wasn’t much), he went all out, which was kind of sad but I also respected it at the same time. He was going to splat but at least he would do it with panache. Eric hustled onto his wheel, still pretending not to be tired, and I hustled onto Eric’s wheel breathing kind of hard not because I was in the box but because I wanted them to know I wasn’t fooled. Behind me were four other riders, which meant seven, total.
I laughed to myself, because my plan had been to whittle it down to five or six, not six or seven, and we had one wanker too many. About this time poor old brokedown, creaky-kneed, a-little-bit-confused ol’ G$ did another fake attack, this one about as hopeless as the first one. I could see people get worried, but I didn’t get worried at all. I just figured I would let them all go and catch up to them later because I wasn’t quite ready to ramp up my tremendous power yet. Plus, it would make my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ feel good to have a little bit of a glory pull by himself with all those 20-and-30-year olds glued to his wheel with their faces all twisted and looking like they were giving a rectal childbirth.
About the time they all disappeared, if only for a moment, Mrs. WM came by with her camera. “Are you winning?” she asked and of course I nodded.
After what seemed like a few hours, along came Hiroyuki, Penta, and Maxson. They were going at a good clip because Hiroyuki was doing all the work while Penta and Maxson skulked at the back. I figured I would help them skulk so I jumped on. I would catch my breath before powering up to my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ and attacking him with my tremendous power.
For some reason, Hiroyuki decided not to slow down which made it very hard for me to gather my tremendous power. Penta and Maxson kept trying to skulk onto my wheel but I started playing possum, breathing like a dying man, wobbling, asking for my mother, and refusing to move so much as an inch towards that nasty and awful place filled with bad memories known as “the front.”
Penta and Maxson were not too pleased so they attacked me on the downhill, giving Hiroyuki a few moments’ rest and scaring the bejeezus out me. Hiroyuki then went back to the front and continued to stymie my tremendous power as I, Penta, and Maxson rolled over each others’ tongues, livers, and breakfast. Fortunately, about a quarter mile from the end I began to feel lively and fresh at just about the time that ol’ Penta and Maxson and Hiroyuki, tired from doing all the work, began to do the Bike Racer Arithmetic of “How do I not get last out of the grupetto?”
I jumped hard, throwing down a tremendous 200 watts or maybe 205 and sprunted past them, when up ahead of me, Ivan the Terrible, who had been dropped from the leaders way back in September, looked back and saw me coming on. No matter how tired he was, the thought of being pipped by cranky Gramps in the last hundred yards put the fear of dog into him and he took off like someone had put the other string of lit Black Cats in his shorts.
I almost caught him and would have if the road had been longer, which is Biker Speak for “he beat me,” and when I crossed the line, there he was, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$, having dropped everyone on the way to the top and completed the 40-minute climb in 37 minutes.
“Not bad for a guy who’s all washed up,” I said.
“Thanks, ol’ buddy ol’ pal,” he said. And he meant it.
Awesome photos courtesy of Geoff Loui and Yasuko Davidson.
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