Friday, February 19, 2010

On modesty, Part 1: Fitness

Ok, cycling is a group sport and we all want to be accepted, if not admired by our peers.  We look up to professional cyclists because they are ridiculously strong, and we recognize that their ability to suffer and their physical fitness are way above ours.  We also would like some of that admiration to be given to us, because we suffer too.  Like the Lemond quote about it never hurting less...  although I feel like Jens has felt more pain than any of us ever have or ever will, and he just keeps on destroying.

But I digress; nobody is going to admire your efforts unless they know about them, so it becomes necessary to inform your peers of your achievements so that they can tell you how cool you are.  Nobody appreciates boasting however, so it becomes tricky business getting your awesomeness across without being a dick.  Above all, don't be a dick.

Really, you should let your riding speak for itself.  If you do well in a race, news will get around.  If you do well in a race that nobody knew about, then bragging about it is just going to get you ridiculed.  We admire strength and suffering, not the will to show up and fork over $25 when nobody else did.

If you can't do well in races, then your next best chance for ego stroking is group rides.  The key to these is to do the best you can but only expect people to care on the day of the ride.  This week, nobody cares if you won the group ride sprint last week.  So if you win it this week, soak it up.

Don't tell us all how you dropped a known stronger rider.  There is a reason they are stronger than you.   Bragging about it makes you look desperate.  Nobody cares if you put in "big miles" on the trainer this week or did intervals so hard that you puked.  First off, we don't believe you, and secondly, plenty of people faster than you found some way to get fast without puking, so you should too.

If you can't shine in group rides or races, you really should just not be a dick.  Not being a dick can go a long way, and most of us would rather ride with a nice guy than a slightly faster guy who can't shut up about how fast he is.   This goes for girls too, if not especially.

Really, the keys to the clubhouse just come from being safe on the bike, and being cool.  "Being cool" involves congratulating other riders' achievements.  A lot of these rules can be broken without ill consequences if you're just an otherwise nice person.   Be safe, train hard, ride well, and be cool, and we'll all want to be friends with you.

Next post is about how to get recognition without fitness:  buy cool shit!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What you can and can't carry with you on the bike.

We wish we were all getting paid to do this, and were getting followed by our directors sportif in Audis with spare bikes mounted to the roof.  In reality this isn't the case, so we need to be prepared for the inevitable mishaps that are going to happen when you ride a bike over road debris for 90 miles at a time.

Minimalism is the acme of the competitive cyclist, but worse than being the dork with the seat bag is being the dork who has to borrow (and never return) a tube from the guy who was smart enough to bring one.

A (very small) seat bag is acceptable, indeed recommended, if you are riding without a support car.  This seat bag should have at least:

1 tube. ( a new one please, carrying along patched tubes is embarrassing.  I'm embarrassed to be with you if you're too cheap for a $3 tube.)
1 tire lever (1 more is acceptable)
1 inflation device (CO2 or a micro pump)
1 small multitool is acceptable but not necessary.

That's it.  Your seatbag should look like a small, tight pack under your seat, not a huge swinging testicle.  You don't need another tube in case your first replacement needs replacement.  You don't need a spare tubular (triathletes do this, and they don't know how to change tires in the first place... odd. )  You don't need a new set of spokes, a torque wrench, or a frame pump.  Your goal is to be able to get yourself home with the most likely mishaps taken care of, not to be a rolling bike shop.

You do NOT need a mirror of any kind.  Not on your helmet, not on your sunglasses, not the impaling weapon that mounts on your handlebars.  If you are incapable of turning your head or using your ears to get a sense of your surroundings, stay the fuck away from me and any other bikers you see.

If you are riding with somebody who doesn't know the rules, you should give him(her?) your spare tube, but feel free to be as smug as you can about it.  Don't expect to ever see your tube returned, but you can hold a grudge if you'd like.  As with any of the rules, just make the offender feel as awkward as possible, and you're doing the right thing.  We all thank you, good sir (madam?).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Slow = dangerous.

I wish I were able to make this post witty but I can't.  This is just how it is, so I'll try to keep it short.

Group rides are supposed to be fast.  Especially flat ones.  If the ride gets slow, people bunch up, and weak inexperienced morons start riding too close to each other.  This leads to unnecessary contact, some hairy moments, and possibly crashes.

If the pace stays high, then the weaklings are just hanging on for dear life in a single file line behind you.  It's much harder to lock handlebars with someone if there is nobody riding next to you.

I've crashed on the bike twice, and both times were because some moron though it would be a good idea to move up through the field by sprinting on that crack on the side of the road between the asphalt and the curb.  Granted that the people tho do this are just morons, but if the pace were faster and we were strung out, then they would either be to weak to move up, or atleast they would have some space on the road to try to sprint around us.

In a race, there's a lot of other stuff to worry about, but in a group ride;  Keep it fast.  If others don't want to keep it fast, then attack.  If they catch you, and slow down, attack again.  It's really the safest way to ride a bike in a group.

That is all, maybe I can think of something more entertaining later.

Monday, February 8, 2010


and I don't even know how to spell plagiarized...
 Check out rule #6 (the rest are stupid anyway.  Rules about the proper way to wear a $70 scarf?  please.  Rule #1, don't spend $70 on a fucking scarf)
Anyway, also note that their rules are posted a mere 15 days AFTER my post about the same thing, and just about a month after I PIONEERED the entirely original idea of blogging about rules on the bike in the first place.

Thanks to the diligence of BSNYC for noting this blatant ripoff and reporting it to me by way of his own blog.  Like I really needed another reason to hate Rapha (which until last week I honestly thought was called Ralpha, like the sound you make after a few 3 minute intervals)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

LANCE: Hate the lovers, not the player.

Lance Armstrong is sort of a big deal.  Discussing him is a task better left to his own twitter.  I'm here to talk about how he pertains to amateur competitive cyclists.

Sure he won le Tour 7 times, he may or may not have been on drugs (like EVERYONE else), and he had cancer.  He's also sort of a douche.  He has that "win at all costs screw you" thing going on, and he only trained for 1 race a year, while other greats (Mercx, Hinault, Lemond...) won everything in sight.  But that's fine.  Win the hardest race in the world 7 times in a row and you can be a douche and not race other races.  What pisses me off about lance are his fans.

I was lucky enough to compete in a non-professional category at the SRAM Tour of the Gila in 2009.  Worth mentioning is that Lance has a lot of money in SRAM, and he's essentially responsible for the race not getting cancelled ITTET.  Because of an interesting set of circumstances (broken collarbone, in the country before the Giro), both Lance and Levi showed up to this race to participate.  As a result, MILLIONS of Lance fans (Here after referred to as Lanceholes) migrated to Silver City, New Mexico, in order to catch a glimpse of the god among mortals.

Lance in the Pance

I think Lance is just a symbol of everything American.  He's rude, he gets to bonk celebrities, and he beat the french at something nobody cared about until he did it. His not for profit foundation raises lots of money for cancer awareness (I think we're all pretty aware by now??) so he's managed to get one of those yellow bracelets on the arm of every douchebag and pornstar in the country.   As a result, we, as cyclists, don't have a problem with lance per se, our problem is with his Lanceholes.

Rules Regarding Lance:
DO NOT display anything having to do with Trek, USPS, Discovery Channel, or anything Astana related unless you're Vino.  In addition, although yellow is the color of the jersey given to the leader of the Tour de France, it has since been assimilated by Lance, and will be forever known as "Lance Yellow".  Don't get Lance yellow shoes, sunglasses, or bracelets.  I respect the Schlecks as bike racers, but I'm not going to go out and buy all the shit they happen to be getting paid to ride.  Doing the same for Lance makes you an idiot.

We don't hate Lance, but we hate you for being so in love with him.