You don’t come to this blog to read about “results”; if it was results you wanted to read, you’d probably go to some blog with a .pro address, where you’d then be bored by a massive list of 1st Places and a few terrible moustaches.
Instead, you probably come here to read about all the fun stuff that happens while the winners are stressing about performing their winning duties.
Sure, every once in a while I stumble across a winning breakaway and have enough cash in my bank account to bribe my other breakmates into letting me win, but by and large…I lose bike races.
So do the rest of you. Think about it: in any given race, one guy wins, and about 95 other guys lose. Bike racing is a losing proposition.
However, unless you’re some kind of sociopath, I doubt you attend criteriums in office parks solely to win. It just doesn’t happen very often unless you’re a 2011-vintage Logan Loader (Verizon), so you probably attend bike races for the peripheral joys: the camaraderie, the competitive spirit, the “holy shit this feels like flying” sensation, the hot chicks everywhere*…the list goes on and on.
Tonight, I’ll be telling you a few anecdotes about these peripherals, seeing as my alphanumeric placings from this weekend’s Brisbane crit and the Cherry Pie crit are “DNF” and “DFL,” respectively.
Saturday: Brisbane Crit
No offense to the Pilarcitos crew, but I simply cannot refer to this race as the “Ronde van Brisbeen” as they so desperately intend. I apologize…it’s an awesome race with a totally cheesy name.
As I was pumping up my tires and checking myself out in my car’s reflection, I was approached alternately by Chris Turner (Perpetually On A Different Team Each Time I See Him) and his girlfriend Shea.
Turner is a great guy: he’s funny, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he is pretty fast. Chris also tends to disconnect his brain when he’s racing, which is a lot of fun when you’re in a break with him, and is probably the only reason he’s not winning every other weekend.
Anyway, my interaction with Chris himself consisted of my usual, “Dude, why do you even bother showing up to these things anymore; you know you’re gonna lose,” to which he shrugged and said, “Definitely, but I love losing.”
He did, for the record.
However, my interaction with his girlfriend was far more entertaining. Somehow, we ended up talking about Turner’s facial hair; the how and why is not important. The point is that — according to Shea — Brad Pitt once shook Chris’ hand and said, “Hey man…dynamite beard!” You can be the judge of the dynamiteness, using this photograph as a reference.
Typically, “Hey man…dynamite beard!” would be construed as a great compliment, but coming from a guy whose beard looks like this, I don’t know that it’s of much value.
Alternatively, maybe I’m just bitter because all I can muster is five-o-clock fuzz.
Anyway, the race started with a most-unusal, “OK, whenever you guys want to go, you’re welcome to do so,” from the Chief Referee — usually we get a whistle, if not a Burlingame-esque cannon fire.
After the awkward start, we rode around in circles, and it hurt a lot…pretty much the way criteriums go as a breakaway rider. I bridged to a break containing my teammate Hendrik about 10 minutes into the race, and the eight-man group lapped the field.
Sadly, heading into five laps to go, I felt my front wheel bottom out against a botts dot — flat tire.
As I rolled around the course, grinding my beautiful Williams tubular wheel along the broken pavement, I prayed there would still be free laps available. Sadly, as I approached the pit the announcer exclaimed, “Oh, and here comes Rand Miller of the Webcor team with a flat tire! Too bad there are no more free laps! What a bad stroke of luck!” over the PA system.
Naturally, I was crestfallen, but my reaction was stoic compared to that of my three fans waiting on the sidelines, who were incredibly caught on film the instant my misfortune was announced.
That’s Jessica Layman, Darien Reed and Mary Maroon from left to right, and their expressions read as follows:
Mary: “Aw, hell no. I should kick that official’s ass. What a bullshit rule.”
Darien: “Aw, man…that sucks. He worked so hard…I feel bad for him.”
Jessica: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! OH, GOD, NOOOOOOO! HOW CAN I LIVE NOW?
I wish that I cared that much about my results — I don’t — but it’s still nice to know that others are so bummed to see my race end because of an errant piece of glass.
My teammate Hendrik, a very intense German guy whose only goal for the race was “to ride so hard I vomit,” stayed cool, kept his stomach under control, and finished 3rd to Logan Loader (Verizon) and Pat Briggs (Yahoo? Masters Cycling Team). Thank God for strong teammates, eh?
Sunday: Cherry Pie Crit
The Cherry Pie Crit is always a fun race because it’s the first time everyone in the district drops the whole “it’s the early season, so I’m not actually trying right now” nonsense and rides like a real bike racer.
I showed up at the venue in Napa early enough to pick up the first installment of coffee from my new caffeine sponsor, Relegate Coffee. I’ll be talking more about that later…for now, just note my proximity to the Vanderkitten Racing tent, which automatically increases my sex appeal.
Just before the race, I happened across Cody Tapley (Whole Athlete) and Jack Maddux (Specialized Juniors), two young kids with enough attitude and swagger to buck the “cyclists are dorks” stigma; however, both of them race hard enough that they stand a solid chance at making it big in the sport. Tapley was kind enough to lend me his ridiculously neon-colored Oakley Radars for my race which, when paired with my green kit, provided the crowd with a clinic on clashing cycling apparel. At best, I figured the electric shades would power me to victory; at worst, I’d look awesome getting dropped.
The race was fast this year — fast enough to convince nearly everyone in the race that a breakaway was futile. No matter how hard riders attacked, no breakaway could get more than about ten seconds on the field, regardless of composition.
To the dismay of breakaway riders all over the world, the race came down to a field sprint, led out by Kirk Carlsen (Garmin-Cervelo), and was won by…wait for it…Logan Loader. I rolled in well after the bunch with Pat Briggs, both of us complaining loudly about the sketchiness of the field and the lack of coherent teamwork which led to our respective poor finishes.
Congratulations to Logan for doubling up on the weekend. That dude is flying right now.
The true winner of the day, however, was Specialized Junior David Benkoski, who showed up to the race so impeccably stylish, I couldn’t resist asking for a picture with him.
The photograph speaks for itself, but what you can’t see is that David has paired his popped-collar track jacket, Oakley semi-Aviators and jeans with a pair of leather shoes. That’s right, leather shoes. At a bike race. Not only that, but he pulled off a 4th place finish on the day. What a pimp.
Alright, it’s time for me to get some sleep…which is going to be hard, because I’m wired on sponsor-approved coffee beverages. Goodnight, cycling world!
*Good luck with that one.