Blogging, like bike racing, does not always go according to plan. Work, life, fun, and hardships all get in the way. I’m about a week and a half behind on my writing — and far more on my training — but I’ll do my best to highlight the entertaining parts of my life.
The last time I raced, I split the weekend between Folsom and Sacramento; in between, I drank some spectacular liquor out of a temperature-controlled cabinet the size of my apartment*.
There were ups and downs to the weekend, for sure: the wine cabinet above was certainly an up, and Saturday’s criterium in Folsom was a major down. In the Bicycles Plus Folsom Criterium, I placed 3rd out of a break of nine which contained three Webcor riders. Statistically speaking, that means my team placed last in the break and, though I’ve grown accustomed to botching opportunities for wins, I don’t enjoy it.
Instead of belaboring negative results, I think I’ll talk about my ridiculous reentry to collegiate cycling at the UC Davis Collegiate Crit.
OK…let me back up a bit, because I’m sure that photograph of my friend Justin twiddling my nipples in a damn-near translucent pink jersey must have you a bit confused. Perhaps not; now that I think about it, this kind of behavior is pretty commonplace for me. Maybe I’m confused…
Anyway, where should I begin?
I’ll start by mentioning that I raced for Stanford University when I was younger and far less disillusioned. Notably, my final “regular season” collegiate race, near the end of my senior year, was held at Land Park in Sacramento. Many of my collegiate cycling contemporaries will remember that about two weeks later, my team would go on to win the Collegiate National Road Cycling Championships in Lawrence, KS.
What many of them won’t remember, however, is that the UC Davis criterium in Land Park — the final race of that fateful 2007 collegiate season — was the site of one of the greatest athletic disappointments of my life. Having been in the lead of the year-long points standings for the bulk of the year, I lost my lead in that final criterium by four points to Jared Barrilleaux (Cal Giant). Four points was approximately 1% of the total point tally for the year, and I was heartbroken.
I got over it, trained my balls off for two weeks, and helped my team win a National Championship, but I’ve always felt that the UC Davis Land Park Collegiate Crit owed me something.
That’s part of the reason I found myself at William Land Park on a Sunday afternoon when I should have been contesting a P/1/2 event back in the Bay Area.
The other reason is that my Webcor teammate and good friend Justin Fraga recently enrolled at Stanford as a graduate student and wanted to try collegiate cycling on for size. Incidentally, he tried my old-school Stanford skinsuit on for size as well.
Sure, he twiddles my nipples and we share one other’s spandex…but I swear, we’re just friends.
Given that my current graduate institution does not have a cycling team, per se, and because it lacks a dedicated cycling kit, I chose to wear Jessica Layman’s (of Jessica Layman Day fame) pink “Trashy Cat” jersey emblazoned with my school’s logo via Sharpie pen.
I arrived at the race venue and sauntered up to registration as incognito as I could muster, expecting that no one would recognize me and expecting not to recognize anyone else; instead, seemingly half the people at the race knew I was coming and about half the Men’s A field was comprised of P/1/2 riders I see every week. John “Chamois Boy” Bennett (Cal Giant/Cal Poly) and Joe Iannarelli (Yahoo?/Sac State) were notable breakaway fiends whose presence promised to complicate my plans to roll off the front incognito-like and solo to victory. Hell, even my Webcor teammate Justin became a sworn enemy as soon as he donned his ridiculous candy-cane Stanford kit.
So much for an easy day beating up college kids, eh?
Only shortly before the start was it brought to my attention that I actually had a teammate at the race. As it turns out, a charming dude named Musa had recently started medical school at my institution and had founded a collegiate cycling team on his own. Sweet, free teammate!
Musa is shown here in the white skinsuit — his take on our team’s kit was significantly less effeminate, and therefore significantly less awesome than my own — apparently groping Cody Tapley, who also recently found his way onto my blog. Man, this sport is incestuous.
With a newfound collegiate teammate in the field, my odds of a team win were doubled, and I was feeling confident. So confident, in fact, that I started rubbing my nipples on the start line.
Right about this time, the chief official came up to me and said, “You know, your number is pinned way too high.” I responded, “I know, I’m sorry…this is the first time I’ve pinned a women’s jersey.” He chucked and said, rather loudly of course, “That’s OK…I don’t need your number because I’m just going to write you down as ‘Big Pink’!”
As you can imagine, my new nickname became Big Pink for the remainder of the day.
The race started and soon enough Fraga and I found ourselves in a breakaway as always.
Chamois Boy was in there, as was Iannarelli, and we were joined by a few Davis kids, a UCSB guy, and another Stanford guy who was pretty strong. I occupied my time marking Fraga and Bennett, posing in my cool pink jersey, and letting my armpit hair flow freely out the bottom of the petite sleeves.
In the end, Fraga attacked the group with three laps remaining. I know Justin pretty well, and he usually doesn’t exhibit a whole lot of cardiovascular talent, so I thought to myself, “Ah, I’ll let him dangle, he can’t hold that to the line.” I relaxed for a while and waited for Justin to falter and come back to the break.
I was wrong, and he didn’t.
Fraga won the race alone, giving us a fleeting glimpse of class and panache before he proceeded to perpetuate the “all Stanford students are pretentious assholes” stereotype by pointing to his chest as he crossed the line.
Well played, Fraga…well played. That facial expression is priceless.
In the end, I didn’t fare particularly well in the sprint and finished around fourth overall. At least my old skinsuit won the race and salvaged some of the honor I lost on that course four years prior.
I’ve been taking some flak for my weak blogging and dearth of racing of late, offenses for which I apologize profusely. Having finished a bout of focused labor in the lab, I’ll be returning to the racing scene this weekend in Merced. I hope to see you there.
*This wine cabinet belongs to my hosts for the weekend, Justin’s good friend Darin and his wife Tamara. Thanks to you both for supplying tremendous company, endless stories, a place to sleep, and bottomless booze. Next time, give Justin one more glass of scotch so I can win instead.