Friday, March 31, 2006

Survival of the Wittest

This time of year reminds me of when you're eating ribs. You know how when you're eating ribs, you do so much gnawing, wiping, gnawing, wiping, then runnin' for more napkins, then more gnawing and wiping, so it's like you really never get full so much as at some point you just get tired of eatin'.

Staying on the bike this time of year is a bit like that, except you just get tired of the gear. You get so tired of pulling, zipping, tucking, strapping, zipping, adjusting. And you get tired of the cognitive process part of it all as well. What's the temp now compared to what it'll be two hours from now? Is there a chance of rain? What's the wind? How much daylight? So it's like with eating ribs. It's not that you don't want to ride, you just don't want to have to fuck with so much shit. You just wanna go fer Chrissakes.

So this time of year, you find yourself either over- or under-dressed about half the time. And just when you're sure you've thought of everything and you've got it about right, you reach down and there's no water bottle. But if you had a water bottle, you'd get exactly halfway around your loop and sure as hell that's the time you'd remember that your seat pack is on the other bike.

All of these things have happened to me at least once in the past few weeks--even the getting tired of eating ribs part. I even forgot my license on the way to a race in Lawrence. Luckily the registration people were hooked up online and they whisked me right through. And that's the way things should be. For bike racers, March and April should be the forgetful months. We should get a pass on remembering anything during these months, cause we're just worn out from having to remember so much shit during the winter.

During March and April, we should get a pass on birthdays, anniversaries, appointments and staff meetings. Our minds are on detail overload. We have to rebuild our bikes. For months we've been remembering all the gear and all the stuff to avoid colds and flu and stress. In March and April we need to make an effort to forget more and remember less. It's self preservation kicking in--survival of the wittest.

This way, you'd forget how much certain people have their little irritations. You'd forget that the dude already told you that story five times and you'd appreciate his fresh approach to it this go-round. You might actually ask Josh to do his billy goat imitation or put you down just for old time's sake. You'd see Tracy and yell, "Haaaaay." You might feel compelled to buy Zoom a tank of gas even though you didn't ride with him. You might just keep on talking to Fish even when he got that fifty yard stare about halfway through your second sentence. You could actually laugh when Luke shows up for a ride and going on and on about how tired he is and then immediately dropping the hammer. You wouldn't be a bit bothered that Beefcakes looks so much better than you do on the bike--even before he clips in. You'd be glad that Andy doesn't talk on the bike. It would be no biggie that Pam does not take a pull until you hit the biggest hill at which point it's like she's pulling your lungs out of your nostrils. You'd listen closely to one of Nolan's diatribes, you'd let Luke Jr. con you out of your last pack of GU, and you'd make Jan say something.

See? Here in BOCOMO we really do have a lot to be forgetful for. But what the hell, it's springtime and I ain't forgettin' that. Later.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What don't kill ya

Man, I use to hate springtime racing. Trying to do a warm up ride is the definition of an exercise in futility. Freezin' your ass off on start lines while they do shit like call the roll--like they'd ever miss you if you didn't make it back. When they can't determine who got fifth place, makes you wonder what they could do for a straggler who got sucked up into either a spaceship or the grill of a Suburban. And don't get me started on cold morning sit-downs in porta-johns and public outhouses--the cold seat is nothing compared to the wind that whips up from some indescribable location and homes in on your brown eye, which then puckers up so hard that it almost defeats the objective.

And springtime races are usually always road races. That means they are way the hell out in the middle of nowhere at some half-ass lake or church with enough parking for about ten cars. So you pull down gravel roads or out in a field where you might get buried up to the axles in mud. And you do all of this so you can suffer on your bike against the absolute worst element you ever encounter on a bike--the hawk. The all-mighty hawk. The wind.

So this past weekend an entire vanload of us chose to spend half of our weekend in pursuit of all the afore-mentioned amenities. To make matters worse, we headed out to the spot where all killer wind is born. When someone talks about tough wind in some race in, say, Germany, then the wind they are talking about probably was born in Kansas.

So Sunday morning we lighted out for one of the annual spring races over at Lake Perry (really, a pretty nice course and event, thanks Trudi) just north of Lawrence. It was the inaugral trip for the flamin' van. It was Ethan and his band of guerrilla juniors, Pam and me and her friend Jessica. Jessica is just starting to ride for MU and this was her first away game. And this is one of the things that was cool about this trip. Jessica and the juniors are all new to the game, so everything is novel to them. Hence, they don't bitch and moan like seasoned cat I and II racers, whose egos won't let them stay at home, but who would really rather still be in bed curled up in a fetal position with a little warm drool falling on the pillow. But these kids were so ramped up that Jessica chose to go even though we told her there wouldn't be room for her bike. She wanted to go just to check it out.

Ethan had torqued his back and wasn't racing, but he wanted to take his bike anyway just to stay loosened up while everyone else raced. So he insisted that Jessica use his bike for the women's fours race. She had brought her cycling shoes on the chance that there would be a bike she could use. So Ethan unscrewed his cleats and screwed them onto her shoes and set his bike up for her so she could do the women's fours race (who said he was an asshole?). She got second and probably could have won if she'd just known how to do that sort of thing--when they topped the hill on the first lap, the girl out in front looked like death while Jessica was actually managing to smile, which is something all beginning racers think you must be able to do when you go through the start/finish line, and they're positive the people dropping them are doing it easily.

The BOCOMO Jr's were the only ones to line up in that race, so Ethan stepped out in faith and signed them all up in their first 3/4's event--a decent-sized field of mostly three's. We really didn't know what to expect from these boys, given the fact that all of last year they sort of needed training wheels to stay upright. But the days of looking like bear cubs with boxing gloves on are now past for these little dudes. They took it right to 'em. After several attacks, Nolan and Luke got off with a pretty strong VeloTek guy and they stayed away for the win. I'd have to say that anyone from BOCOMO would have been proud of the boys. They all rode a good race. Nolan won, Luke took third and Jan did his part back in the pack and finished with the leaders in the top ten. Ethan was so consumed with pride that every picture he took he tried to include the entire state of Kansas in the background. I gave him shit about it, but his boys came through for him and in a big way.

My race lasted about two laps. They put the girls in with the masters and part way into the second lap, I heard Pam saying something in distressed tones. Turned out she had a flat. She was in the running for something akin to some decent shwag, unlike me, so I told her to pull over and I gave her my rear wheel. Then I gave her a totally shitty wheel change, which necessitated her stopping and straightening it out a couple hundred yards later. But she managed to chase down second place and take that, so it wasn't a total loss.

Luckily I'm really cynical when it comes to road races and I always pack a spare tube and CO2. That's one of the things I've learned about road races, especially in the spring. Nothing's worse than freezing your ass off in the middle of nowhere waiting for the follow vehicles of another category. Better to busy yourself changing the flat, cause half the time there's never any room in one of those wheel vehicles, anyway. The other thing I've learned about these springtime races is that you just have to learn to appreciate all the uncomfortable aspects. You just give yourself over to them and realize that they define you on this particular day. It is those irritating conditions that make you a player. The dudes back in their warm beds? They also get defined by these conditions: posers, pussies, wanna-be's, has-beens, spectators, couch potatos, etc. Take your pick. So when you look at things that way, then the springtime road races are tolerable. Hell, they may even be valuable. Later.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A one-hand standing O

A ride of note took place in BOCOMO this past weekend. This ride pointed out many of the more vexing questions confronting the empirical, the theoretical and the paranormal scientific communities. It is rare that any phenomena ever unites such diverse, some say complete polar opposite, schools of thought. What happened was that Butthead was the only person who showed up for a noon ride, and he did 4.5 hours alone.

Such an event just may have made BOCOMO the focal point of the cosmos this past Sunday. If any of you dudes or dudettes suddenly felt a jolt in your lower regions and found yourself looking for something to do with the uncontrollable urge just south of your belt buckle, then now you know you have Butthead to thank for it. If dogs began howling, fire alarms tripped, or the lame bolted upright and started sprinting, then this would explain it.

Even stranger than those things, however, is that all over the county, no doubt guys on computrainers started spontaneously doing Beavis impersonations. As their wives got struck by a randy urge to wander into the garage where their man was doing intervals, they saw their man's nostrils flared out and heard him doing that crazy nasal laugh: Uhh-hah hah hah, hah hah hah, hah hah hah. Then the guy'd say something like, "Power--TAP," with the emphasis on tap, then the laugh again.

All this was set in motion by a tsunami wave of cosmic debris washing over the county from the wake of Butthead's silence vacuum. If Arjuna was here he could probably describe this, but basically nature abhors a vacuum and loves predictibility. So all the natural forces depend on things happening naturally, which is to say, as they naturally do.

So essentially when the noon ride went off with no one for Butthead to yell at and no one to drop, it was just fucking unnatural. If those assholes at FEMA had any sense, they would be on this in an instant, but of course their incompetence is legendary, so it is up to the BOCOMO peloton. It is encumbant upon all of us to make sure that Butthead has someone to razz, belittle and poke fun at for every ride. So if you can't make the noon ride, at least call him on his cell phone and offer up a really lame excuse why you need to ride rollers or train alone. Only through such vigilance can we ever expect to keep this from happening again. Remember, a one-handed standing ovation is a terrible waste to mind. Later.