Archive for April, 2011


New Team Orders

FROM: ‘RacerX’
DATE: 04/10/xx

Not much to report here, Basil, except to tell you that those freakin’ little Frenchmen have got it exactly right. Bike racing can sometimes be called “The Race of Truth.” And we certainly were on the receiving end of an ass-load of “Truth” during this weekend’s race, weren’t we Basil?

So far this morning, the Truth seems to be a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a large coffee with extra milk. I know this, Basil, because that is what I am eating right now, very late on Sunday morning, 24 hours after we both got our butts kicked in yesterday’s road race. I’m tired and disgusted, my legs feel like lead, and I plan on eating several more of these doughnuts just as soon as I finish the chocolate cruller that I am presently chewing.

Yes, Saturday’s race was that bad.

It all sounded so good when we signed up to do this race, didn’t it, Basil? Yessir! We were entering the “All-American Road Race” right outside of Washington, D.C., the Nation’s Capital. It was almost our patriotic duty to try our luck in something like that, wasn’t it? Getting our one-day licenses and signing up to ride the CAT 5 race just seemed the thing to do.

Okay, so neither of us has raced much, but we have been really tearing up our club’s Sunday morning club A-ride lately, haven’t we? With preparation like that, my friend, a competitive outing against a pack of jejune amateurs would seem to be a walk in the park for us, wouldn’t it, Basil?

Especially with you, our club’s strongest rider, as our team leader for the weekend.

Basil, how could we have failed so publicly, so horribly, with a line-up like that? We are, after all, men of substance: professionals and family men. Mature men. Victory? That was almost a formality. It all sounded so…. possible.

Too bad we forgot to look at the map of the racecourse, eh Basil?

If we had looked, my friend, we would have discovered that there was 900 feet of climbing per lap. Seven miles per lap, for five laps, equaled thirty-five miles of near-constant climbing at a race pace. You’re not a climber, are you Basil? Two hundred pounds is an awful lot to pedal up such steep hills, even for such a strong fellow. My apologies for being so unthinking when I cajoled you into entering this race. And for the sake of our friendship I will erase from my memory all of those awful names that you called me while we struggled together up those cruel, cruel hills.

At least we started strong, Basil. Remember how, on the first lap, we were trying bravely to keep the team colors up in contact with the lead group? Things quickly unraveled from there, didn’t they my friend? On the second lap we were doing our best to keep contact with the peloton. By our third (and, for us, our final) lap we were merely trying to stay in touch with our dignity. You succeeded admirably there, my bellicose friend, first hurling your water bidons and then the contents of your stomach into a rather rude crowd of jeering spectators as we left the race.

There is no need to apologize now, Basil. They were getting rather tedious with their constant calls for us to “Move Up!” Our race was run at that point, but you impressed us all with the way that you handled the situation with equal measures of belligerence and panache. Our club sponsors will be proud.

Ahhh, but Basil, you must remember that you were not suffering alone – I too was suffering like a sow on those hills. And while neither of us finished the bicycle race, but we did discover where we stand with respect to our fellow competitors in our own personal ”race of Truth”, didn’t we, my friend?

The Truth is that I was not ready to do this race at all. The Truth is that my body and my mind have assiduously avoided real suffering on the bike for quite a while. The Truth is, if I want to keep racing as something other than CAT 5 pack fodder, I will have to suffer and put in the miles, more miles than I have been willing to ride in a long time.

These are the unavoidable Truths that I took away from Saturday’s race, Basil. That and a powerful hunger for doughnuts.

The bottom line, Basil, is that we will need to train harder. And when I say that ”we” will need to train harder, what I really mean to say is that we will all be looking to “you” to work especially hard in order to provide better support for our new team leader. That would be me, your loyal friend.

I know, Basil, that the idea of voluntarily signing up for more suffering, more intervals, and more hills is not an attractive prospect to you right now. Especially since you will be riding in the service of others and not for yourself.

No one said that bike racing would be easy.

But let me be blunt here, Basil. I fully expect that the brutal ass kicking that was delivered to both of us this past Saturday will provide special motivation for you, my dear friend, to even greater efforts for the team. You are not a quitter, Basil. But I won’t attempt to sugarcoat it, my friend, for what I have in mind here will require that you undergo countless hours of training in order to ensure our redemption as racers of note.

But you will be working your ass down to a nub for the purest reasons of all: the greater glory of the team. And, as I am sure that you yourself have realized by now, Basil, the surest path to success for our club is to assemble a strong pack of riders such as yourself to pull me, your new team leader, to victory in these long, gruelling races.

You know how these things are, Basil. Victory can only go to one rider, and it appears that I alone have the equanimity and even temperament to be a successful team leader. Be truthful now, we found out all about that aspect of bike racing from your performance as team leader this Saturday, didn’t we? We as a team cannot depend upon an ill-tempered leader who drops out at the mid-point of a race covered in vomit, spewing obscenities, and hurling water bottles at surly spectators, can we? Our sponsors would think that we were, well, unreliable.

We all salute your combative spirit, Basil, but something had to be done.

So I know, Basil, that you will understand this new division of labor within the team because you are, after all, nothing if not a team player and a consummate professional in all of your endeavors. Including bike racing. Especially bike racing.

So Basil, my friend, get out and train more. The team is depending upon you. More to the point, I am depending upon you. And I swear that the next race that we do will be flat. Like a pancake.

And we will win, Basil. I promise. Or die like champions trying.

Your New Team Leader,


No Free Food, And Other Reasons To Hate The Seagull Century


3:15 AM: Alarm goes off. Out of bed, stumble to kitchen. Jam something into mouth and chew. Continue chewing and trudge downstairs to find bike clothes. Bike clothes located and donned. Finish chewing. Back to kitchen and fill waterbottles with sports drink. Grab tools, shoes, helmet and toss in the car. Start to get behind the wheel and suddenly realize that this is likely my last opportunity for a very long time to use a restroom that has been cleaned sometime in this decade. Go back to house.

4:07 AM: Todd and I are sitting in our cars, parked in front of JT’s house. The plan is to pick up JT, and then meet Big John and Pete at the shopping center so we can caravan over. Our target is to be in Salisbury in time for a 7:00 AM start.  We have to cover 150 miles in the car to get there.

The light is on in JT’s kitchen.

4:12 AM: JT emerges from his house. “Have you guys eaten breakfast yet?”



“Go get your bike.”

“How can you guys eat this early? We’re gonna have to stop somewhere to get something to eat.”


“And use a restroom.”


“Do you want some coffee?”

4:14 AM: Todd checks his phone. There is an e-mail from Pete with a time-stamp of 3:57 AM. Big John is down with an injury and can’t make it. He’s broken his…..toe.  He tries, but he can’t get his bike shoes on.


Since Big John has decided to bail, we need to rejigger the car situation.  Big John was going to take Pete.  Now someone needs to give Pete a ride.

4:20 AM: JT and his bike comfortably ensconced in Todd’s car.  After an exchange of text messages, we caravan over to the shopping center to meet Pete.

4:28 AM: Pick up Pete at the shopping center. JT announces yet again that he will have to go to the bathroom en route to the ride.

“I’m on a schedule, man. My system is like clockwork. This waking up at 4 AM crap is throwing me off my game, if you catch my meaning.”

6:05 AM: Easton, Maryland. Stop at a Burger King for coffee and, yes, to use the restroom. A couple of cars are in the parking lot, most with bikes on them.  JT hops out of Todd’s car and trots into the restaurant with a purposeful stride.

“Alright, if we are going to make a 0700 start time, we need to be efficient here – so fan out. We’ve got some unfriendlies within the perimeter, and that means that we have to lock down the primary assets first if we want to hit our target and make a clean exit. Greg, you’ve already eaten so you cover the coffee while I recon the area and secure the crapper. Todd and Pete, you will neutralize the threat from intruders. Back me up once I’m inserted into the target area to make sure that no one jumps the line for the bathroom. Follow me in one at a time after you hear the flush. One, two, three, and we’re out. Got it? Again, the key word is efficiency. Let’s move….I’m going in.”

“Dude, by the time you’re done that restroom will be a toxic waste dump. I’ll drink my coffee and wait a bit for the fog to clear before I go in, thankyouverymuch.”

As it turns out, one of the other patrons — another cyclist heading for the Seagull — did in fact jump the line to use the bathroom while we weren’t looking. He paid the ultimate price for his impatience, emerging from the rarefied atmosphere of the JT-befouled men’s room with a set of collapsed lungs and a greenish pallor.

6:13 AM JT is out in the parking lot, counting heads and edging back toward the cars. Todd is missing.

6:15 AM Still no Todd.

6:18 AM Todd emerges from the restaurant.

“Dude, where were you?”

“I had issues.”


“The toilet paper dispenser in the crapper only gives you a square at a time. It took me a while to have enough to, um, work with.”

“Surprises like that waste time. Securing the necessary supplies in advance is mission-critical.  When you are on a schedule there is no downtime while in the men’s room. Multi-task if you have to. I spotted the problem early and used my time efficiently.”

“Gee, thank you Mr. Time Management. You should give a seminar.”

7:19 AM: Arrive in Salisbury, Maryland. Parking is a mess, as only it can be when 6,000 coffee-hyped road cyclists simultaneously converge on an area containing only 2,000 parking spots. Any pretense at courtesy is completely out the window, as even the cops directing traffic are being dissed while the competition for a prime parking space spins wildly out of control. Maryland cops take no crap, so I expect to see a TASER in use before the morning is out.

7:25 AM: JT announces that, yet again, he needs to find a restroom, and something to eat. He is ignored.

7:42 AM: We start. The four of us – JT, Todd, Pete, and Yr. Hmbl. Scribe – are each riding fixed gear road bikes. Todd and JT are riding a 46 x 16 gearing, while Pete and I are riding 48 x 16 gearing.

7:55 AM: As is tradition at the Seagull, we are surrounded by what can charitably be described as riders of “mixed abilities and experience levels.” Because the Seagull is totally flat and pacelines abound, it is relatively easy for even a new rider to keep up an impressive pace. This, however, can (and often does) result in mayhem when a newish rider gets in over their head. The four of us make a pact early on to not let other riders into our little group, and to be discerning in any paceline that we may hook up with.

8:25 AM: Our progress is impeded by a rider we quickly name “The Great Pumpkin”: 275 lbs of fat idiot stuffed into a skin-tight orange jersey. We first see him in the middle of a fast paceline, sitting up and riding no hands. Solo he is just as erratic. We try and stay away from him, but he unfortunately he spots us and is intrigued with our fixies. For the next 30 minutes, it seems that no matter what we do he can’t grasp the notion that we don’t want to ride with him. The only solution – stop and take an unscheduled pee break.

8:55 AM: Oh, we are making LOTS of friends now. Our group of four is working smoothly, taking 3 minute pulls. Looking back at one point we must have 40 or so riders drafting off of us.

10:00 AM: We meet the Worst Rider Of The Day, a solo guy on a tri-bike with a squeaky chain that I’ll call Mr. Weaver. Erratic doesn’t begin to capture it. Locked down in his aero tuck, Mr. Weaver nonetheless seems fixated on the prospect of people coming up from behind and surprising him. So every ten seconds he looks over his shoulder, causing his bike to weave wildly. When a faster group tries to pass him, he pedals harder, throwing in an occasional weave just to spice things up. We roll by, but it seems to be a point of honor with him to stay with us. At one point Pete yells at him to “Hold your line, a$$hole!” which, ironically, induces the biggest weave yet.

10:25 AM: We pass the 50 mile mark, and JT wonders where the rest stop is.

“You said that the rest stop was at 50 miles. I could really use some food and a portajohn.”

“Hey, what do I look like? A cue sheet?”

10:42 AM: Good deeds are rewarded. A tandem that had been drafting off of us for a while decides to give us a tow into the rest stop at Assateague island, which is at mile 62. We wind it up and go.

11:04 AM: Back on the road, we decide to take it relatively easy to the next checkpoint, which is the justly-famous pie and ice cream rest stop. The temperature is climbing into the mid-80’s and it is getting hot. We run across Mr. Weaver again; he gets the ol’ stinkeye from everyone in our group as we roll past.

12:00 PM: Pie and ice cream stop. It’s freakin’ hot – about 90 degrees. I contemplate stuffing the ice cream down my shorts to cool off my nether regions.

12:20 PM: Back on the road. This stretch of the ride always sucks. My legs are cramping, which is hell if you are on a fixed gear and can’t coast.

“Stand up…it will help stretch your legs out.” I try it. They cramp harder, nearly causing me to pitch off of my bike.

“Thanks! That worked GREAT.”

1:14 PM: We finish.

“Let’s hit the food. Where are the free munchies? I could use some water.”

“Uhhh….I don’t see anything here that would qualify as “free.” They have beer and some burgers for sale over there in that tent but, no, I don’t see anything that is free.”

“Are you telling me that I paid $55 bucks to ride in this atrocity and I don’t even get a bottle of water at the end of the ride? What kind of sh%t is that?”

“Apparently, given the number of riders who have signed up and the long lines to get a burger, it is some fairly lucrative sh%t.”

“I’m going back to the car. This sucks. I can’t believe that there isn’t any free food at the finish.”

And we all did go back to the car because, yes, it does kind of suck that you don’t get some sort of a free munchie to eat at the end of a century ride.

2:12 PM: Sitting in a Subway restaurant in Easton, Maryland.

“Can you tell me why we signed up for that?”

“Uhhhh…tradition? We do it every year.”

“No, really. Think about it; we just paid a lot of money to get up at 3 AM and drive hundreds of miles in order to ride a perfectly flat century through a bunch of smelly chicken farms and they don’t even feed you at the end. Do you want your chips?”

“Yes I want my chips.”

“You know what, screw it. No more organized centuries; no more t-shirt rides. We can do better by ourselves.”

“Sure, next year we can invite all our friends to our “YOU WILL AT LEAST GET A F*&KING BOTTLE OF WATER AND BAGEL WHEN YOU FINISH” Century. We’ll dig up day-old baked goods from the dumpster behind the Safeway. Now THAT will be a good time.”

“Still, don’t you agree that’s the last Seagull Century that we’ll ever do? From now on we’ll find something better to do the first weekend in October.  It it a deal?”




“Do you want that pickle?”

“Are you going to keep this up all day?  Go buy another sandwich if you are so damned hungary.”

“Hey, I still haven’t gotten my free food.  It isn’t a century ride without free food.  Can’t blame a guy for trying, can you?”

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