Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great Moments In (Local) Cyclesport

The Tour de France is in full swing. As I’ve said before, I have no intention of commenting on the race. However, as the exploits that will become tomorrow’s legends and scandals unfold, I think it is important to remember that the roads of France are not the only backdrop for excitement. Countless dramas unfold in every local race as well. Here are just a few examples of beautiful moments of triumph and defeat taking place in our own backyard that rival anything in the Tour:

--6:00am, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. A rider on a $900 wheelset rolls up to the registration area with a $2,000 wheelset strapped to his back. We can only imagine that later today he will put on a suit to go to the grocery store and then change into a tux to do some barbecuing.

--A nine-man team wearing matching kit and riding custom-painted matching bicycles with SRMs discusses tactics as they line up to start in one of the lower category races.

--Lap three. A few riders go off the front. From the rear of the pack a rider just barely hanging on summons his last bit of breath to bravely shout, “Close that gap!” He is then dropped.

--A rider on a carbon-fiber Pinarello risks his fingers to adjust the hockey puck-sized computer sensor on his wavy Onda fork. He is apparently more concerned with closing gaps in his training data than with closing gaps in the actual race. He nearly takes out three other riders but manages not to sacrifice a digit to his bladed Zicral spokes. Reconnected to his life-giving data stream, he resumes not racing.

--On the big-ring “climb” during a lull in the action, a rider inexplicably blows up, sits up, and moves backwards diagonally, nearly taking out half the pack in a 7/10 split.

--A rider with no visible race number adjusts the volume on his iPod.

--The group laps one of the lower-category fields just as they are finishing. The matching nine-man squad has begun their leadout, jettisoning their water bottles in perfect synchronicity. However, as the two fields combine, there is some confusion as to which field should be neutralized. After the race, the protests will continue well into the afternoon. At stake for the lower category riders: pride, fulfillment of sponsorship obligations, and a tin novelty medal on a red, white, and blue nylon ribbon. At stake for the higher category riders: lunch money.

--One lap to go. All places up the road in a breakaway. A rider demands a bottle from his teammate and proceeds to shower himself like the Maillot Jaune on Alpe d’Huez. But the joke is on him. The bottle is filled with Cytomax.

--The guy on the $2,000 wheelset punctures and is out of the race.

--The marshals whose job it is to keep the park road clear have gotten impatient and gone home. A guy on a hybrid gets the scare of his life when 80 riders in lycra suddenly appear around him, screaming at him to “keep right.”

--Final lap. Five riders go down in the sprint for 19th place. $5,000 worth of carbon fiber shattered.


Anonymous said...

Now that's what I call entertainment. Well done!

prcrstn8 said...


But the joke is on him. The bottle is filled with Cytomax.

Reads too good to be true but wotthell, wotthell, LMAO anyway.

Anonymous said...

god damn you are a mean, bitter sob. But that was hilarious so all is forgiven!

David Benoff said...

Ahh, same as it ever was.

Its been six years since I left NYC, but this brings back so many memories of bleary eyed mornings in the park...Greg Avon announcing a $20 prime, followed like clockwork by a massive pileup on the next lap. I'd estimate the damage from that one probably exceeded the value of the prime by a factor of 500.

Chunk said...

the jettisoning of the water bottles was a nice touch. very PRO.

Anonymous said...

That is the saddest race story I've ever heard. I'm trying to scrape together the cash to build the new scandum cross frame my team gave me, and i think its going to be built with 105 and parts from the spare bin. But I'll be damned if I'm not going to ride that thing like I stole it.

I feel for those who might lose their lunch money.

alliwannadoisbicycle said...

nail on the head!

welcome to NYC bike racing. gotta love it

Niki said...

Hahaha, I actually laughed out loud (lol'd, in internets parlance) at the cytomax shower.

I was in that race (in the Cat 5 field) and yeah, the confusion caused by the 1/2/3 break passing us was frustrating. But hey, that's racing.

To all the cat 5's who were pissed - what would you have done if you were in a break away group that was being slowed down by another field?

Although I'm pretty sure everyone in that break was DQ'd for passing the pace vehicle.

Which reminds me, the drivers of the pace vehicles really need to pay attention. It's pretty unfair for a break to be DQ'd because the driver didn't notice them approaching.

Anonymous said...

Bike Snob, I'm afraid you are going to burn yourself with all these well written posts.

Unknown said...

Wow, this tops them post yet.

Anonymous said...

You are the coolest bike dork of all time.
Thank you.

Unknown said...

In the races we do here, CAT5 runs separate from CAT3/2 and Pro 1/2 runs separate.

iPod in a race?!

Don said...

having done that race a few times, may i add the following:

--on the gentle descent on the back stretch of the loop, traveling at 30 mph, a rider in the middle of the pack grips the handlebars near the stem, puts his crotch on the top-tube, and descends in a full tuck like he saw on TV

--when the 5 race passes the 4 race, the cat4 riding lanterne rouge gets the surprise of his life when one of the lead 5's smacks him on the ass (this happened in June)

nick said...

this is so fecking funny. i stumbled on your site yesterday and read it all while i should have been working.

keep up the good work, so i don't have to.

Anonymous said...

That's why roadies suck

Anonymous said...

This and other postings have been a real blast to read. Good blog. I'm a self-serious, low-cat roadie and, as often as I can, I get out there and dress in my dinky lycra uniform without much of a clue on how to race. This piece has got it down to a T. Probably didn't all happen in one race and some of it may be embellished. But who cares? Very funny.

There are three other common occurrences that I see in races among us lycra-clad weenies that really go to show how uptight yet clueless we tend to be.

1. The pack takes a corner hard. About 4 peloton lieutenants all yell, "Hold your line!" We are, we're trying, believe me. Even better, is when we're not all cornering and I'm desperately searching for a wheel to grab and then I hear "hold your line!" Folks, you're allowed to move around laterally in the pack. Besides, whoever is yelling clearly isn't working hard enough.

2. Someone endowed with meerkat genes screams "GRAVEL!" on sighting a solitary and rather humble pebble; "HOLE!" at every crease in the road; and "SLOWING!" at every change in pace.

3. At the start of the race as we start to roll out, about three guys in front look down at their feet as if it's their first salsa lesson. Is it really that hard to clip in?

Anonymous said...

I guess, if it's come to this, that biking is now no longer cool so. Guess I'll be selling mine.

Miriam. said...

Favorite race goofiness:

Early season race, Women's Cat 4, Someone at the back yells "car back". The peloton proceeds to move right. The car back is the follow car.

Anonymous said...

Best blog you've done yet!

Anonymous said...

Don't know if it counts but....

During a collegiate Crit they hold a cruiser bike race, much to my dismay primarily attended by guys killing time between the collegiate race and the Cat 1/2 on carbon fiber bikes that they had slapped cruiser bars on. After half a lap 4 racers (that is counting the 2 on a tandem) move about 15 feet in front of the pack. Some guy in the back (read: in front of me) yells "get them or we're done for" or some such nonsense.

rapidrifle said...

Roadies suck only if you ask them to nicely!

Anonymous said...

oh man...I was literally laughing out loud at this. amazing post.

- stu

Colin R said...

when the 5 race passes the 4 race, the cat4 riding lanterne rouge gets the surprise of his life when one of the lead 5's smacks him on the ass (this happened in June)


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention something about a rider "digging into his suitcase of courage!"...

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