Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Mish-Mash Of Doping News

So there has been several different doping stories that I have been following lately. All from different angles of the problem.

Contador finger banging his way to the top. But did he have synthetic help?
 The first is the Alberto Contador saga. You can catch up on all the finer points here.

I guess my main gripe with the Contador case isn't so much with Alberto himself. But with the way the Spanish Cycling Federation, WADA and the UCI are dealing with this whole mess.

The fact that his federation let him off because of a convincing court case in and of itself is okay. But why hasn't any of this convincing information really come to light? I know his defense team were putting out all their info in Spanish and English just so there were no miss-interpretations along the way. Which is smart. But why haven't any of the bigger cycling media outlets picked through it to see why his defense was so convincing to the Spanish federation? Or is it just to time consuming (Don't get me wrong. I don't want to go through it either. But surely someone has.)?

And why the hell are WADA and the UCI filing separate law suits with the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS)!? That's like taking something complicated and multiplying it be 50. It doesn't make any sense. Since both of them are involved in the case from the same side/angle why don't they just go in together to get it done faster (Perhaps its because neither one plays well with others.)? And what if one gets the results (A ban of some type.) they want while the other is still in process? Do they just drop it and call it good? Or is this some type of divide and conquer technique against Contador's legal team? And why am I asking so many questions?

One thing I will say is that I approve a great deal more of is how WADA conducts themselves with the media. They pretty much just said. Yup, we are pursing this with CAS and that's all we have to say about that.

 I like it.

 It's almost like they are a professional outfit. Which is pretty damn rare in cycling.

UCI on the other hand have been whiny little media whores as per usual. Seriously. Pat McQuaid pretty much makes me want to punch kittens.

Wheres a tabby!?
I really don't know about Alberto's innocence or not. I'm kind of indifferent. But the whole process is just so screwed up. I think they need to tear it down and start over again.

Contador and his big puppy eyes...

The second story as of late is good old Riccardo Ricco. I am glad that he appears to have made it out of the hospital okay. Even if it was induced from a pour blood transfusion (Allegedly). No one should die because of sport. At any level, it's just not worth that kind of price.  All that being said. If Ricco is in fact guilty, he has to be the biggest retard in the world!

Look at his weezily little face! He makes me want to punch kittens too.
 You can get him contradicting himself here.  Where he says that he doesn't remember anything. But he for sure didn't say anything to make them think it was a blood transfusion gone bad. And then a little later he requests a little time for his legal team to get their crap together (Big surprise there. After all the talk he's been spuing. That guy it a real tool. Regardless of what happens he says he's never racing again. And that he wants to go be a barista. I'm sure Starbucks is hiring. And I here they still have a good health plan. He may need it....

"The Man."(As in, the man is bringing me down.) With in the coffee world.

The last story is a little more up lifting. Tom Zirbel is back from his two year ban for testing positive for DHEA early. He was originally scheduled to finish out his suspension by September. But because of some help he gave the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) with two other cases he was able to be reinstated 8 months early. You can read the full spiel here.

I'm happy about this for several reasons. Firstly, I never really felt like he was a doper (But I have been wrong in the past...). And what he was busted for is not direct dope. But a masking agent at a tiny amount. The kind of amount that it seems highly unlikely that it anything more than some supplement or food contamination (I'm beginning to see a pattern here.)

Secondly, I have it on good authority from several super secret sources that he is a very good, clean rider. From people in the know, you know.

Thirdly, even the powers that be (US Cycling and USADA) both made comment at different points that it really did look like he got caught by the letter of the law (I.E. The inflexibility of the rules). Not so much the spirit of the law.

So welcome back Tom. I hope the system didn't rob you of your best years...

He won't have to make this constipated  face any more.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Really Cool Thing About Cycling

This is the main reason I've was away from the blog last week.
First I just wanted to say that I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. My family and I have bought a new (Well, new to us.) dwelling. And I've been working feverishly to get it dwellable. So the posts maybe spotty still for a little while. But I'll try to be a little more active on here. And thank you for your support....

I was pondering another cool thing about cycling this last weekend while I was painting yet another room in our new house. Are the wonderful people I never would have met were it not for cycling.

It's not that I'm some sort of social hermit that hides in my hermit hole never wanting to see the light of day. Okay, maybe that is true. But I know I never would have met some of the best people ever were it not for cycling. We just don't run in the same circles.

People like Johnny P, Martin, Dr. Mark, the Lewis's, the Francis boys, Kenny, JP, Mark H., Kathy, Beth, and Adam. The list really could go on and on (It really could).

And then of course there are the two most important people I met through the cycling. My lovely wife and my father-in-law. Those two people were truly life changing. I'm not sure where I would be without having gotten to know them.

But then there is still more more people like J. Who hornswaggled my fat ass into going out with the group in the first place. This was back when I was fat, out of shape and in a really bad place emotionally in my life. He taught me how fun and motivating it can be to ride with the pack.None of that would have ever been possible without cycling.

Cycling had been the peanut butter in the sandwich of my life (Very Zen I know).

It lets me go out and be sociable during the ride. Maybe go have a beer and something to eat afterwards and talk about the ride or the subjects of the day. And it just makes me feel a little more grounded in the here and now. Which I always thought I was until I discovered how much I really wasn't. You know what I mean?

It also taught me the meaning of suffering. Not bad suffering (Although that definitely happens too.) But the  good kind. The kind that lets you know you are alive. That you can survive just about anything and come out of it a better person. And these wonderful people help me in doing that.

They give me a carrot to chase up the road. A reason to hop on the saddle on those days when it's pissing rain and I'd much rather stay at home eating chips and watching TV.


I am grateful for all that. I often say that there are maybe half a dozen rides a year that I would have been happier to stay at home. But 98% time I'm so glad I did. Not only to feel better physically. But emotionally as well.

So thanks guys.

A lot.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Race Report: Willamette Capitol Criterium

Brison at the startline.
 This weekends race was a good one. We really lucked out with a good field and some good weather. And like I said before, the races were in the afternoon. Which made all the difference in the world.

Brison and I warmed up down at Scott's Cycle. Then headed down to the race area which was only a few blocks away. After having Hollie go to the registration area with Brison's OBRA card (I guess they were given strict instruction that they had to see the card. Evidently some mouth breathers have been trying to race without paying for either a one day license or an annual membership.) Brison and I took a few laps around the course so he could get the lay of the land. We also talked a little tactics. Crit racing is a lot different than road racing. Everything seems to happen a lot faster in a crit. So you have to be on your toes or you could miss the winning move (Since his field was small I figured a couple guys were going to breakaway and that would be that.).

Once the juniors were lining up at the start line for their race. I talked with a few of my teammates about tactics for our race. We had a very large contingent of riders. Myself, Steven, Thomas, Phil, Tim and Utaka. This was both Utaka and Tim's first race with the team so that was a very exciting thing to see.

Once the juniors got started I was shouting encouragement to Brison who appeared to be doing pretty well. A selection had been made with two kids off the front with a strong lead by lap 3 (Same to kids that took first and second last weekend.). I was told later (And take this with a grain of salt because I haven't confirmed it.) that one of those boys is a time trial champion. So that didn't bode well for Brison and the rest of the guys.

This probably lap three or four. The duo had already flown the coupe by now.

 As the two kids had flown up the road there had been selections made all the way down through the peloton. Brison had ended up in the third group on the road. And he was in a bit of a pickle. The other kid that he was with had a teammate in the second group so he wasn't going to do any work to help Brison bridge the gap. It's one of those tactical problems that you run into from time to time. And especially when you are to knackered to bridge the gap on your own. All you can really do is just maintain the course and hope they either get tired and you close it. Or the guy your with relents and helps out.

But as they got closer to the finish it became apparent that they gaps were going to be maintained where they were. And Brison would be duking it out for fifth. But then a weird thing happened.

They rang the final lap bell for the two leaders but for no one else in the race (It may have been because there were kids all over the course with varying lap numbers). So when Brison's group went by no one knew it was the last lap. In the final stretch I thought they were each track standing out there to force the other one to lead. But as it turned out they just rolled across the line. With Brison in the lead of his group. It was only afterward did they learn what happened.

 That being said I don't think that B would have had a hard time out sprinting the kid he was with. He out did him last weekend. So....

Brison trying to bridge a gap.

The boy working hard...

Our raced started much like any other crit would. With a balls to the wall for couple of laps.

There are always some of  the guys who try and break away after a few laps. But end up failing and getting brought back into the fold.  But what is a rare occurrence is to have someone in the race that's strong enough to do it by themselves. And still stay away. Pat Jackson from Buy Local cycling team (Also a friend of many member's of Cap Velo.) is one of those people. (If he doesn't move up the ranks soon I may start crying.)

Pat took a solo flyer up the road after a couple of laps. Developed about a third of a lap lead and held it. In the mean time other teams were in hot pursuit. And while after a few more laps they were eating into his lead a little. I think it was more Pat's decision to come back into the fold to rest up for another more decisive attach later.

During Pat's time in the first breakaway myself, Thomas, Steven, and Tim were just surfing towards the front of the group. Thomas and Steven looked particularly strong. I never really felt out of my comfort zone either.  It's one of those little blessings to have a teammate up the road. You're not obligied to do any work at the front (Unless you're trying to disrupt the flow, i.e. "Blocking".).

We seemed to have a pretty good group of racers this time around as well. Not having any real wiggy guys out there makes everyone relax a little more and enjoy the racing.

Once we had about six laps to go Pat took another flyer off the front and took one guy with him this time. And I had the feeling that that was the winning move. I kicked myself a little for not trying to go with him but I was to far back with in the group and on the wrong side (Asleep at the wheel I guess). So I settled in my brain that I'd contest the field sprint with the rest of the guys.

My feelings about Pat's move were turning into reality as the final laps ticked down. They were holding their lead  with out giving up any distance between them and the main group. So as a team we tried to get ourselves set up with a lead out train with Tim at the lead. Myself as the second. Then Thomas and Steven behind me. As we were rounding the second to last corner I told Tim to give everything he had left. As we neared about 400 yards to go I punched it up the inside line (Because it was on the non-windward side.). As I started to gasp for air and my legs were screaming at me to stop Steven and Thomas flew by me. I kept going with what I had left. Hoping to still have a top ten out of the deal. And we did it!

It felt really great to have some semblance of "team" in a race like this.

I found out later the Pat had gotten nipped at the line for the win. But it was still a really impressive effort. And damn close too (Like a tire's width.). But that's racing. I'm sure we will be seeing breakaways from Pat later in the season that can be measured in miles, not inches.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Me towards the front of the main group.

The guy with the ironic hipster mustache leading our group.

Why didn't someone tell me those tights make my ass look big!?

The guy in the front with the blue kit is Patrick. I'm jealious of his power and ability. 

At the front here at the turn is Utaka. He rides a lot with the group. I believe this was his first race. It was great to see him out there.

The Ironclad guys really tried to animate the race quite a bit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Willamette Capitol Criterium Cup On Saturday

This was from the race last year. It pissed rain from the minute we rolled to the line to the moment we stopped.
The Willamette Capitol Cup Criterium is tomorrow in downtown Salem around the capitol (Isn't funny how names work out sometimes.) They have collegete racing in the morning and then the categorized racing in the afternoon.

I believe I have Brison convinced to do the juniors race at 2pm and my race (The category 4/5) is happening right after his at 2:30.

It's going to be kind of wierd to be racing so late in the day. I'm used to waking up at the butt crack of dawn. To drive somewhere in the dark. Then line up with all the other poor schmucks just as the sunrises.

But this will be almost human! I get to sleep in. Have a real breakfast. Get everything ready the day of (For the most part anyway.). This is all exciting and new. I feel like one of the big boys out there.

I'll have pictures and hopefully some video posted up by the end of the weekend.

 Please come out and support some grass roots racing if you can. The racing will be going on for the whole day. And the Cat. Pro 1/2 races are always fantastic. Thanks so much!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bike Porn Part 2: Just When You Thought It Was Safe!

Just like all bike porn out there. Once you've had a taste you've got to come back for more. And so I have (I just can't seem to help myself.). This time with a host of new pinups for you to ogle at (And whatever else you do behind closed doors. You naughty, naughty boy.).

 Because lets face it. I'm as bad as anyone out there when it comes to this stuff. If I were a millionaire I'd be lined up with all the other wealthy douches. Trying to grope at these hotties.

As per usual I'll throw my two cents in with the pictures. I hope you enjoy. And please, clean up after yourself. Thank you...

Shelly Horton asked her husband to get her a $500 town bike to ride with the couple's four-year-old son. Months later, this is what she got.
So this townie bike was built by Bishop Bikes for a famous bicycle collector's (Brett Horton) wife. And almost every single thing on this bike is an original piece. In other words it's almost completely custom. From the hubs, brakes, saddle, bars, chain guard (frame and fork of course). Everything.

Vanilla's show bikes were somewhat more subdued at this year's NAHBS but no less beautiful to look at, such as this grey lugged steel roadster.
This is a bike from Portland's own Vanilla Cycles (Sacha White).  No look at bike porn would be complete without at least a couple rides from Vanilla. His immaculate work and amazing aesthetics are second to none. This particular bike may not be screaming pink. But I would happily ride this for decades to come. Very nice.

Krencker's cyclosportive bike includes carbon tubes and an integrated seatmast.
This cyclosportive bike has some of the coolest pin striping that I've seen on a bike. I love cars (Hard to believe I know.). And that work on the wheels and frame totally remind me of a Von Dutch pin stripe job.

Cherubim claims the arcing dual top tubes and seat stays lends more comfort to the rider on rough roads.
This is a frame that I posted a different angle from last time. It's by the builder Cherubim. But I wanted you guys to get a good ass shot. I think the top tube/seat stays on this thing are exceptional. Just beautiful lines.

Remember that image of the junior racing lining up with a full-custom carbon fiber rig with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, 650c Lightweights and an aero helmet? Yep, same bike, made by KirkLee in Austin, Texas.
This is a "kids" carbon road bike built by KirkLee. With Shimano Di2 and LightWeight carbon wheels this is nicer that 99.9% of the bikes already out on the road. Must be nice to have parent's who can just throw money at you...

San Francisco bicycle collector Brett Horton commissioned this amazing bespoke town bicycle with the frameset custom built by the folks at Bishop Bikes and nearly every other part fabricated as a one-off.
This is another of Bishop Bike's creations for Brett Horton. Just as custom as the other bike I was showing you. Really neat detail from every angle.
The track bike is a more recent addition to Vanilla's Speedvagen line with hugely oversized steel tubes, an integrated seatmast and a custom one-piece bar and stem. New for this year is an oversized head tube using Chris King's latest InSet hidden-cup headset.
This is another Vanilla bike form their Speedvagen line. It's actually steel tubing. Even though they look over sized enough to be aluminium. Along with the one piece bar and stem. The seatmast and new to the market integrated Chris King headset. It's as pretty as it is fast.

Pegoretti frames are notable for their performance but they're more easily recognizable by their wild paint schemes.
This is a Pegoretti bike that has one of his trade mark paint jobs. Its always like a present when you see one of his bikes. You never know what you are going to get.
Pegoretti's booth at NAHBS was filled with oversized steel road bikes using both lugged and TIG-welded construction.
This very understated (For him anyway.) Pegoretti bike is a sleek and sex ride. I'm normally not a huge fan of orange. But I think on this particular machine it's just amazing.

There are a few more to peruse and imagine what it would be like to ride. If you want to see the full Monty go to Cyclingnews  for a really good selection of what the NAHBS had to offer this year.

So there you go you randy boys and girls. Remember, if you look at this stuff to much will you go blind. Or at the very least have a serious case of hairy palms. You may start to even look like this~

You've been warned...

Rubber side down,

Big E


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Race Report: Banana Belt #2

It was a cold 44 degrees when I got there at just before 8 in the morning. It had been steadily pissing rain the whole drive up filling me full of dread for the up coming 2+ hours of pain.

When I rolled into the parking lot I half expected (Wished...) to see a sign tacked to a pole asking us if we were all crazy and that we should just go home and sleep off that early morning's time change (I'm looking forward to more sun at night. But damn, did it hurt to get up that early to go race.). But the parking lot was filled with people already so I walked down to sign in.

Grabbed a couple bananas just because I could (Probably the most expensive bananas I'll ever eat.) and head back to the sanctuary of my car.

I had been going back and forth about what to wear since I left the house. I finally decided to go with the long sleeve jersey with a wind vest over it. I was glad I made that choice.

By the end I had frozen feet (They took about an hour to thaw out after the race was done.)and hands but at least my core had some semblance of feeling in it by the end.

As we lined up for the start I was surprised and happy to see both Tony and Patrick rolling up as well. Misery loves company as they say. And I was just happy to see some friendly faces. We were given the usual talk and started out.

 Patrick was feeling strong (As always.) and started out driving the train. Although saying it like that makes it sound like he stopped at some point. And I have to say that he never really discontinued. After about two laps he got tired of us and shot up the road. And I firmly believe if it wasn't for an accident (Slippery expansion joints on one of the bridges.) that I heard about later (I was dropped by then.) I'm sure he would have won.  But I digress...

As we started out it was pretty obvious that no one was in the mood to put the hammer down anytime real soon. So with the exception of a few digs most everyone kept it at a hard tempo.  Which was good for me. I was having a hard enough time as it was. I think the saying is; There are different horses, for different courses. And what I can tell you is that I'm the wrong horse for that course.

It's not to say that I don't want to do well, work hard for myself and my team. But I feel like I can just survive in a race like that. Which I did. It wasn't pretty. And at certain points I felt like a monkey humping a coconut out there. But I finished. Not with the group mind you.

At the base of the finish hill I was towards the back of the pack and one of the smaller climbers tried to give it a go. And I just couldn't answer.

It's one of those classic cases of if you can't keep up, you can't catch up. There is nothing more frustrating than putting it all out there and it still not being enough. But I will live to fight another day (Hopefully on a track that suites me a little better.)

Enough of my sob story! Lets get on to the really cool stuff.

Brison's first road race....

Hollie, Luke and Brison arrived at the staging area around noon (One hour before Brison's race.). I was almost thawed out sitting in my car by the time they got there. We went down to get him signed in and got his bike out, bottle on, and tires pumped up.

We had some time before the start so we drove the course so I could show him the dangerous parts (There were a ton of pot holes out there. All covered by water. One of them they put a cone in because it was so huge. And the damn thing covered half of it.).

 I was talking to him about a few of the areas to look out for tactically. In his race I knew that there were two teams that made up the majority of the field. So I wanted to be sure that he was mentally prepared for what could happen.

Once that was done we headed back to the staging area. We got his numbers pinned on and he started to do a little warm up.

I think Hollie was more nervous than Brison. She kept standing and pacing.

Luke was having a grand old time. He was smelling someone cooking in the parking lot. And he was quite convinced that if we went down to them and asked. They would probably share. (LOL)

The lady called them up to the start and gave them the usual talk. Brison looked a little nervous. But I think it appeared to be a healthy amount (Not freaking out. But concerned.). She blew the whistle and the were off!

Brison is a strong kid. And I knew in my gut that this course would suit him just fine. So after they took off we headed down to the finish area to catch them on the end of their first lap (Of two. 22 miles).

I would love to say that the clouds separated and the sun came out. But that would be a straight up lie. It dumped just as much in the afternoon as it did in the morning. I don't even think it got any warmer (Maybe a degree or two. But not much at all.).

As the juniors came through the finish area for their first lap Brison was looking good mid pack.

He gave his Momma a smile and stuck out his tongue. It looked like he was having fun. Which after all (Even if the report of my race didn't seem very giddy.) is why we do this. And I am more happy for that than anything.

Brison going by after his first lap.

We watched a few of the other groups glide through on their perspective laps. All with the same grimes on their faces. Something that was fresh in my memory as well.

And then we saw the lead car for the juniors come by. I got my cell phone out to video the finish. Two Beaverton Bicycle Club kids flew by in first and second place. And then we waited...  It seemed like an eternity but it was probably less than a minute.

All of a sudden we saw another lead car. And a couple of people accelerating down the hill right after it. It was Brison and the rest of the group! They had gotten held up by another category. They came flying through and I could see Brison coming around the outside. It looked like it was going to be close. But he pipped the other kid at the line for third!

Hollie and I were yelling for all we where worth! It was awesome. I couldn't have been more proud (Can you tell?).  It was a great first race! I just could feel in my gut that he was going to do well. And he delivered it. Just fantastic.

As we walked with him back to the car he told me about the tactics of the other teams and how smart they raced.  It just made what he did all the more sweet.

So that's what happend. We all finished. Came out of it totally stoked. And I think we maybe got one more kid hooked on this awesome sport.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, March 11, 2011

Banana Belt #2 This Weekend

Banana Belt Series 2011

So this weekend is the second race in the Banana Belt series. It will also be the second race of the year for me. You can read how it went in this post.  Needless to say this course is a little tough for me. But I shall prevail!

I'm looking to just go to the front on every lap and threaten all the little climbers that if they drop me on the hills that I will find them in the parking lot afterwards (Not really. But I wonder if that tactic would work? Hmm. Something for the memory banks. JK).

The really exciting piece of news ( for me ) is that my ((Step) I always hate using that term. These boys are like my son's so I just call them that.) son Brison has decided that he wants to give road racing a try and he's signed up! I'm trying really hard not to be that guy who gets all excited about one of their kids trying out what they love to do. But it's hard.

After a little discussion with Omer Kem (My coach and the juniors team coach for Capitol Velo.) We decided that putting him in the juniors race would be the best fit. So then I went to work.

I got his OBRA licence. I got him signed up with Capitol Velo to race under their colors. And of course got him signed up for the juniors race.

I'm pumped! Can you tell?

Anyone who had ridden with Brison before knows he's a strong kid. And he has taken to cycling like a fish to water. He doesn't have a ton of endurance yet (Although I'm sure that will come with time.). But he can already out climb me (Not that that is hard.) and he's a pretty fair sprinter.

Regardless of what happens out there this weekend I'm proud enough to burst my buttons. He's a fantastic kid (Along with his wonderful brother's.). I know he'll do great whatever place he comes in.

So hopefully I'll have a couple good photos from his race to put up here for the race report. Along with a synopsis about both our races. Until then,

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is It Just Me, Or Is The No Radios Thing Working?

I 'm not really going to go on and on about the UCI's decision to ban race radios with in the pro peloton. I think that particular line of questioning has been done to death. But...

I got to say that at least from the fairly limited (And comfy.) view point of my arm chair. It seems to be working.

And me likey...

Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) celebrates the biggest win of his career
Sebastan Langeveld held the peloton (with some help) for 50k to take the win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) held off the bunch to win.
Thomas De Gendt held off the surging group just at the line (With a lot of help from Jens Voigt.) of the first stage Paris-Nice.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) takes home the stage win in Paris Nice
Thomas Voeckler snags the win from another break away.
 So they (the pros) can argue about safety all they want to. But if this is the result of the radio ban. They are going to have a really hard time winning people over to their side of the argument.

That's all for now.

Tomorrow. I wanted to talk about this weekend's race and a really cool thing that's happening along with it. Until then.

Rubber side down,

Big E 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Couple (Elitist) Observations

First, I want to say that I am a bike snob. (Hi. My name is Big E and I'm a bike snob. Hi Big E!) And in being a bike snob there are certain rules that I hold myself up to. And I tend to judge other's by these rules.  It's not to say that this judgement completely encompasses my view on someone. But I must admit that it is a large factor in the process.

I also want to say that the stuff that I'm about ready to say is strictly in the context of bicycle racing.  All the event riders, group riders, commuters, MTB and everyone else can pay attention. But in my mind at least, these rules don't always apply to those other areas. So that being said. Here we go...

When I rolled up to the start line I noticed a plethora (Didn't know I knew so many big words did you?) of cycling faux pas.

Would you say I have a plethora?

Hair legs: I not talking a little stubble because they haven't shaved in a while. I"m talking full blown fur. Now I'm a hair guy (I mean Sasquatch kinda hairy.). But I still shave for racing. Why? Glad you asked!

1. If you get into a wreck you can actually clean the wound. Ever had an open piece of road rash that's all nice and oozy that has hair matted in it? No fun. So shave. You don't have to make it a big deal about it. But just do it.

2. It makes massage a whole lot more pleasant. But I don't get massages, you say. Well you should. If you don't go to a professional massage therapist like Connie at  Emerging Massage (She's wonderful by the way.) Then you should be giving yourself self massage at home. It will make your legs happy. And happy legs are fast legs.

3. You become part of the tribe. And regardless of what you say. Everyone wants in on this one.

4. It looks good. Theres nothing cooler than a clean pair of muscular shaved legs with an awesome cyclist's tan.

Saddle bags still on their bikes. Really!? Is this a randonneur (Not that theres anything wrong with that.) event!? No. So leave the saddle bag at home. No one wants to see your dangly bag bouncing around in the breeze. If you get a flat there are usually neutral wheels. And if there aren't any of those (And you don't have your own pit wheels.) left. Then that's the breaks of racing and you hitch a ride back to the start.

A clean bike.  I know maybe I'm being picky. But race day is a special day. It's the day you train for for the rest of the week. Treat it like a date. And what's one of the fundamental things we do when we go out on a special date? We wash our car. So do the same for you bike.

It also gives you a chance to look the bike over. To make sure there aren't any repairs or problems that need to get fixed before the race.

Personal hygiene is also very important. I've had several races where there is someone in there that either hasn't bathed in a really long time or hasn't washed their kit (Ewwww!) in a really long time. No one else in the group wants to smell your B.O. dude. So wash up and put some pit stick on for God's sake. Sheesh.

There is also a little subset of this group that have the chainring tattoo (Grease mark on your leg.) from not paying attention while your mounting/ dismounting your ride. This could be avoided by following the washed bike rule. But if in the event that you do get a mark, wipe it off. It's not that hard and not to be mean. But, it makes you look like a Fred (A neon jacket, rear view mirror, huge saddle bag, very large gutted newbie. I was one of these guys at one point too. Well, minus the rear view mirror...).

And lastly...

Fenders.  I can't believe I actually saw a guy racing (I don't believe he was in our category to be fair.) with full fenders on his bike.

 Please don't get me wrong. I'm pro-fenders. In fact I'm one of those guys on a group ride in the rain that complains when people don't have full fenders with a "buddy flap" (An extra mud guard on the end of the rear fender to keep road spray out of the face of the person behind you.). But they have no business being on a race bike during a race.  All that says to me is that they are to lazy to take them off. Very un-PRO in my opinion.

I know all this may sound a little mean. And maybe in some ways it is. But someone has to give the tough love speech.  And I guess today it gets to be me.

I would also like to say that one or two of these things I have been guilty of in the past. So I'm not saying I was above it. But I lived and learned. And now it's these guy's turn to do the same.

Rubber side down,

Big E