Friday, March 28, 2014

Where my candy at?

Alright, I've been nice long enough.  I know you all come here for the #hardcandy.  So I'm bringing it now, biznatches.

I see a lot of complaining online* about how masters racing (at least at the Masters 1/2/3 level) is lame.  Interestingly this often takes the form of "the problem is that Team X just stacks the field".  Last year it was the Garage.  This year it's the Garage and Cucina Fresca (my team).

Now I will say up front that our plan from the start at CF was to stack riders into the same race during the early season so that we could work on our race tactics and getting to know each other.   We also have made riskier tactical decisions so that our riders can get used to different scenarios and see how they react, for example, to being in the early break.  And the team has improved a ton for it.  That's going to change over the next month as we start focusing on riding 6-man squads.

And you not what?  The same guys complaining that the problem is we are over stacking the races will still be complaining about something.  Because, you know what?  There are no gifts in cycling.  It is a hugely unfair sport where for 90% of the starters the odds are stacked against you before you even line up.

So to the complainers:  Instead of complaining take Reed Homies advice and focus on learning to how to race your bike.  Figure out how to improve your chances instead of expecting to do well because you've earned it by gracing us with your presence.  Cause, you know what -- effectively asking other teams to handicap themselves isn't going to work.  If you don't know what to do here's a pro-tip: ask someone who does.  If you don't know who is who then that's your first assignment: learn who people are.   Not just because it'll help you know who can advise and mentor you but because in order to read a race you need to know who the riders are.

Here's some free unwelcome criticism feedback from last Tuesday nights race:  what's the end game in sitting on the back, letting Matt Hill, Mark Mirante, Nicos & Landon go up the road what's the end game of sitting on the front and pulling?  Or fighting me for 4th wheel but not actually pulling through?

I don't know your guys individual strengths and weaknesses (although it appears a couple of you think you're sprinters) but I can't think of a single scenario were waiting for a break to establish and then pulling so hard you can't react when other teams immediately counter is a solid plan.

Either get on a team, form a combine or figure out who are the riders most likely to form a solid break and make sure you cover them.

Right now there are 3 teams willing to mix it up: Garage, CF and SBUX.  This is a great scenario for other riders.  Step up and take advantage.

*Except Andrew Martin who is just trying to work the refs
*And the 1/2 guys who come from a field that is a) more tactically sound, b) has more riders and c) has more teams and the imbalance of numbers can actually make the difference between one team winning and the other.

Where my riders at?

I'm off to rock get pummeled at the Gorge Roubaix and don't have much to blog about.  But I know at least 2 people are hitting that refresh button repeatedly and I feel guilty for the resulting frustration the feel getting nothing but Tim Hanks popping up for the last few days.

So for your amusement here are some rapid thoughts about the state of cycling (all of which I have actually thought about but am too lazy to go old skool 538 on)

  • Why is the road scene shrinking?  Well two basic thoughts:
    • Is it shrinking or does it just seem that way because we had a huge spike in participation *and* we have more fields?  I remember when the 1/2/3 race at Sequim was combined..... 
    • For the vast majority racing road requires a willingness to suffer for long periods of time for the reward of watching some else win.  Or to put it another way the pitch is "hey come spend your day riding super hard so I have someone to ride with before I crush you in the finish"
  • Why does USACycling suck so bad?
    • Do they suck?  As a promoter I can say that I've seen a lot of attempts to make things easier and better for cyclists and promoters.  The challenge is they are huge and don't always have a good grasp of what life is like for your average promoter.  To be clear, I am not your average promoter.  I am not doing it for a living but I promote enough that I'm sort of a professional amateur.  The tools & rules being developed are great for me and likely awesome for truly professional promoters.  Teams putting in one-off races?  Not so much.
    • I don't think USACycling as a whole understands that it's the team doing one-off promotions that are the backbone of the sport.  I'm not making a normative statement; I'm making a positive statement.  They just are.  Increasing the barriers to promotion is great for professional promoters in CA and CO were there are plenty of races and competition for a large pool of racers.  But for the rest of the country promoters aren't making enough money for a rent-based system.

As you may notice, my default is to question the premise.  Have at it in comments or teh facingbook.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Win

We didn't win Tuesday night.  Instead, Tom Hanks did.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Matt Hill, perhaps not talking about me, mentioned that old dogs can learn new tricks.  Last year I learned to sit on because whenever I was in a break there were like 506708 Garage riders with me.  That doesn't mean I like that new trick.  I hate sitting on. Hate it. Hate it.  Hate it.  But guess what?  Now that we have a full squad I don't have to anymore.

Am I tipping my hand?

And I don't care if I end up attacking myself out of the race!  I likely will regret it Sunday at Ephrata but YOLO!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

To Attack or .. actually just attack

Saturday begins the road season proper as we get a steady diet of weekend and weekday events to feast on.  As a public service I want to make sure everyone knows when the best time to attack is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Left Lane Movin'

"You know what makes me safer?  Blocking 15 cars that are going to try to take risks to pass."

I first heard of the Left Lane movement last year when a rider was hit by a bus on Hwy 101.  The report was quickly overwhelmed by Left Lane riding advocates flooding the comments with assertions that had the riders been riding to the left then the bus would have been forced to move into the opposite lane of traffic and the accident never would of happened.  Despite video that showed the issue was low visibility and no solid evidence that riding to the left would have changed that.  Or any evidence that riding to the left*, perhaps more accurately described as taking a full lane, is actually safer.

But Holy F^%$sticks that doesn't stop dudes from being militant about it.  There are two types of bike commuters I regularly run into that drive me nuts -- eBikes and LeftLaneLarrys.  The eBike guys are a menace because for the most part they use their bikes as scooters and don't have the skills or awareness to ride with other bikes.  The Larry's though not only cockblock cars they cockblock other cyclists too.  And they get angry about it when you try to get around them.  

Hey I get that sometime following the rules isn't the safest option -- I strategically break the rules too.  But there's a difference between making an individual decision to break the rules and forcing others to adopt your personal riding preference. 

Riding in the left makes the rider squeeze by on the right (which apparently is what Lefty's expect) or go into the other lane to get by increasing their risk.  It also means the rider behind you is the one closest to irritable cars.

But what makes it especially annoying is the personality type of every Lefty I've ever encountered is not someone who is a solid bike rider making a thought out decision on how to increase their safety.  Every single one (caveat: anecdote is not the same as data!) has been a low-skill rider who isn't comfortable riding without 4 feet of space on either side *and* they are alphas who just hate being passed at all.  

So to all you Lefty's let me say: F&^% you.  I'm sorry you aren't comfortable on your bike.  I'm sorry you aren't strong enough to win the tour.  But I don't want to be part of your movement and I'm not going to adapt my riding to make you more confortable.

*The study most generally used to support left laning is this one:  Interestingly it does not actually address Left Lane riding.  It does, however, note that riding against traffic is a significant risk factor for cycling accidents.  If you where going to draw a conclussion that isn't directly addressed from this study about Left Laning it seems to me it would be that it's more dangerous since it puts the rider closer to oncoming traffic.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Blog or Go Home

I post one blog...... and now I feel so pressured.   Really the OBRA guys let you all down by not being completely stupid.  I can usually get a good 3 posts out of one PR (nee SIR) just off of OTB or BikeSale (oh snap!)

Just kiddin'!

The good news is that PR starts this month.  So maybe it's as good a time as ever to raise the bar and call out the 1/2 field.  Hey 1/2 field!  Guess what?  We're coming for you.  We don't care if we win. All we care about is catching you.  And lapping you.  Yes, this will happen.  Get your excuses ready for why a bunch of old guys completely pwned you (is that still a cool word?)

It's coming.

Monday, March 03, 2014

I'm sorry, I didn't know how this bike racing thing worked...

What's better than an off-season of unusually dry weather?  Torrential rainstorms once the season starts of course.  With all this rain of course I had to find a race to do and OBRA did not diappoint with the Dirty Circles #1 RR.  At a svelte 30 miles for the Masters 1/2/3 field it seemed the perfect way to get my suffer on.   Of course Frank & Randy told me to f&^^ off  excitedly agreed to join me in the adventure only to bail out once they realized there would be some slight humidity.

Luckily I hacked Velez's phone so he thought the forcast in Woodland WA was for 80 degrees and sun.  Sucker!  I think he knew something was up when we parked in the sand pit parking lot and he noticed a couple puddles.....

Hater McHaterson from Hatersville

Some observations on the race: while the 20 year old me would be online complaining about the short distance it seemed way more humane to my 43 older self.   Also, for a flat race with only 2 real turns dudes sure had a hard time riding in straight line.  Also some guys freak out if you take your jacket off in a race .. cause I DON'T CARE THIS IS A F&^^ING CAT 1/2/3 RACE.  Seriously, if someone taking there coat off is gonna cause you to crash maybe consider you are riding in the wrong category?????

Anyway, a fun way to get the season started!