Tag Archives: cycling

I could get used to this (not being last)

26:38, 26:17, 26:46. Those would be my times for my last three trips up Kings (the regular way, not through the park). And the week before I left for France, another 26-something.

Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!
Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!

The past 6 years, I’ve had at most 3 sub-27 times up Kings (each year), and almost never back-to-back. I’ve finally reversed the slow decline in my climbing times since 2006! But the faster guys on my ride… well, they just keep getting faster, and I don’t quite get that, since they’re getting older just as fast as I am. But at least I’m regaining a bit of lost ground.

There’s a stark contrast between this year and last; the 2012 Tour de France trip saw me completely collapse on both the Tourmalet and Peyresourde, climbs that should have been well within my capabilities to ride hard. This year, the climb I really wasn’t looking forward to, Ventoux, went very well. Alpe d’Huez, no problem. Back side of the Semnoz, again, no issue, felt good!

Kevin arrives a bit late to the party
Kevin arrives a bit late to the party

Nice not being the last person up the hill anymore!

It makes me wonder how much last year was affected by that mortality thing, knowing that I was getting close to the age where my father died. My improvement on the bike really did start immediately after passing that milestone. Strange, the way your mind can harass you. Jens says “Shut up, legs!” Guess I should be saying “Shut up, brain!”

Big group this morning, too many to get right but definitely had both Kevins, Mark E, Marcus, George, Keith, JR, Karen, Karl… at least one other I’m forgetting. Lots of trash talk from George, saying that he never sees me at the front heading down 84 towards West Old LaHonda. This is not true, or maybe it’s just on Thursdays (when George isn’t with us) that I’m at the front.

Hate it when this happens. I'm off the back on the final pull up West Old LaHonda.
Hate it when this happens. I’m off the back on the final pull up West Old LaHonda.

Or maybe I’m just sitting 3rd wheel most of the time. Whatever, I went to the front fairly hard and stayed there for a while, after which I got more grief from George because I was “in the drops” which he thinks I never do.

Pilot Kevin pointed out that he’s seen more before (in the drops). Clearly, to put George in his place, I’ve either got to get really strong, or George will have to suffer from something really debilitating, like owning a business. Neither is too likely to happen.

Dinosaur Days Remembered

In a private Facebook group, a collection of voices from bicycle racing back in the early 70s (called the “Dino” group, as in Dinosaurs), one of the legendary riders from back then spoke of how special things were, how we changed the cycling world, and by inference how much better than today. Below is my response-

I think we do lose something as the sound-byte generation lacks the patience to understand something that has a flow and a history to it. There’s only the here and now, which may help to explain the prevalence of doping.

Me again, second from left, 16 years old in my “bicycling as lifestyle” days. Jenny, second from right, my first long-term girlfriend. Cycling truly was a community, a place to be.

The other thing is that, for us, back in the day, it wasn’t just cycling. It was a lifestyle. It defined us. And I think it’s important to consider it was counter-cultural. Your class-mates didn’t understand you, why you were riding a bicycle everywhere you could, instead of driving. Your teachers put up with you, for reasons unknown, when you’d ride in on a rainy day, smelling like a rat. Your father, who was the sports editor of the newspaper, didn’t quite know what to make of a kid who had the common sense of thinking that running *towards* a high speed projectile (football, baseball, tennis ball) was a bad idea, but had no issues hurtling downhill at high speed in the rain.

That’s why I relate so well to Dave Stoller from the movie Breaking Away. I *was* Dave Stoller. Except that I was so counter-cultural I didn’t shave my legs, because that was expected within the counter-cultural world of cycling.

Me in my “serious” days as a bike racer. Hardly a day goes by I don’t miss racing, and, by extension, the early-70s. Still wondering if I’m a has-been or never-was

I met some of the greatest people through bike racing. People whose skills were generally far beyond mine, like Lindsay Crawford and Bob Tetzlaff. I remember as a junior, soaking in every single word that BT said at a training camp, especially how to throw a punch and not get sanctioned. Yeah, as a junior, you actually have to be told not to be stupid like… who was Emily K’s husband, that started a fist fight at the Redwood City Criterium as they came past the finish line on a lap?

I miss it, so much. I miss traveling to races in a a fellow racer’s beat up Rambler station wagon that had to stop every 20 minute to manually pack more grease into the wheel bearings. I miss discovering what a great guy Tom Ritchey’s dad was when we hitched a ride back from Tahoe because the Rambler wasn’t going to make it. I miss my father, who came to me in a moment that I took for granted at the time, telling me he was sorry that we didn’t have enough money for him to support my racing like the other dads could (I was working 32 hours a week during high school).

For more musings on my past, including some embarrassing stories and examples of my writing in Competitive Cycling, see this older web page.