Thursday, February 11, 2016

Frozen = Fast; The Last minute Pantani Ride FAQ for the self-loathing


Mostly unrelated, shameless plug here: BUY IT. 
But also, my real point is this: naked = dead.  So dress warm.  Let's just start there.

We're two days out from Il Pantani, and here at Pantani HQ, preparations are well underway.  Preparation H that is.  It's not like I'm actually out marking the route, or training, or making myself a pair of DIY electronic heated underoos, or doing anything that might actually be useful.

No, indeed, I'm committed full-stop to the very basics of peak endurance performance: carb loading, denying reality, and tying orange pieces of tape to the loose parts of my bike so if they happen to fall off they'll be easier to find.

And panicking.  Because it's never too late for that.  I should have just paid the big bucks and gotten a  hardass, insult-slinging coach.
And it would seem that I'm not the only one.  No, indeed, the seedy underworld of seedy underworld races (Facebook) is abuzz with questions that I have no answers for, which in turn get re-directed to my email where I have successfully continued to be unable to clear them up.  Fortunately, most of what you want to know has already been addressed in years past.  And I'll link you to that sort of thing here, here, here, and also over there once upon a time.

But for the sake of adding an additional layer of murkiness to what's already not been said, let's dig into the questions as I see them here at this moment, Feb 11th, in this icy cold year of our Lawd, 2016.

Is the event moving forward despite the chilly weather?  
To me, when I see the word "chilly" I think "light jacket."  I see what you've done there, and I applaud your obfuscation of the truth.  But let's be clear about this: the forecasted high on Saturday is 27 degrees here at the Rancho Relaxo, which is probably somewhere in the upper teens out there atop the pop.  And windy.  This is no-bullshit, leave your kids at home, divorce-making cold, and you should take the appropriate precautions if you choose to ride your bike in those temperatures.  If you don't know what those precautions actually are, then you probably shouldn't wing it.  Potentially helpful youtubage from yesteryear:
http://blueridgeracing.blogspot.com/search?q=happy+pantani+feet

But also, yes, we're still rolling at 11.  Actually, the high of 27 happens right around that time, and then it'll just sort of crack a beer and hang out for the day.  I like that about this cold front.  A steady 27 degrees that you can sort of count on is way, way better than a starting temp of 27 that proceeds to abandon you when you step in the creek while trying to pee and you really need it.

Gravelocity was 27 and puking snow for the first hour.  Can you guys hang?
Oh hell no.  Gravelocity in its first year pulled like a gazillion people to push their bikes in the snow.  In the first year of Pantani we had exactly 2 attendees, and I didn't even bring a bike.  So no, Gravelocity is clearly off and running in a legit, event-like direction, while Il Pantani can hardly decide on a name for itself.  Perhaps we'll copy it, and name ourselves Gravelopolis or something like that, and just hope that people confuse us for them in the future and show up.

Is it better to burn out or to fade away?

What you're witnessing here, as I understand it, is a custom, DIY electronic heated insole handcrafted with rush-delivery Kazakh heater tape and some other mail order shit in his basement by Sam Lindblom, Human Fireball.  I love ingenuity.  The mark of a man is the ability to fend for himself, and really Sam, I dig that about you.  But I'll take "burn out" for $1000, Alex.

Hey, bro, I heard this ride has some steep climbs.  I'm thinking about swapping out my 9 speed 11-32 for a 10 speed 11-36 and just using a campy shifter and some rubber bands to get the spring tension right, and also dousing the whole thing with hot glue.  Will that work?  
Look, I'm no Leonard Zinn.  You can surf up a fair amount of cross-compatibility shit over there, if you're into that sort of thing.  My advice though is that now is not the time to get creative with your drivetrain.  You might need it once or twice for this ride.  No, indeed, wait until Saturday morning, show up at Shawn's house with your rush-delivery UPS package straight from Bikeparts.com, and see if he can put it together for you lickety-split.  Trust me here, he LOVES that.  And conveniently, you can take a dump in his sock drawer while he pulls the whole experience together for you.

Singlespeed gearing?  Talk to me.
I can't and I won't.  Typically, when confronted with this kind of question, I link people to Kev29ers much-heralded internet pillar of knowledge, The Gear Doc, and that confuses them long enough for me to escape before they realize I lack the math skills to be a legit singlespeeder.  But in this case, I'll come clean, admit that's not my bag baby, and hopefully Kev29er will chime in with a real, based-in-science recommendation about what single gear could possibly be rewarding enough to ride for 47 miles in a row.  Wilson too?  Others?  By all means, talk amongst yourselves, you simpletons.

Do I need shoe covers to ride in the cold?  
You see, this is what I'm talking about.  Seriously, be responsible people.  And do this.




Will there be reliable neutral support for nutrition on course?  
I'm actually having trouble responding to this one because, quite obviously, the world that you live in is so different than my own.  I can tell you this: we've got a van, and a half-way committed veteran of bonks of all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells that may or may not be cruising around out there with the sort of medicine to fix what ails you.  That's not to say that he will be in any way reliable.  Nor is he actually all that neutral - he's a foof local, after all.  So if you're up there behind someone wearing pink, you'll have to wait your turn.  I can't actually say he's necessarily all that supportive, and the food that he may or may not be providing isn't what the FDA considers nutritious or safe for consumption in any way.  And for that matter, there's not actually a course anyway- this is just a bike ride with recommended routes and a grossly overstated notion of glory.  So, the short answer is no, there will not be whatever it was you wondered about.  Just a guy in a van who might be able to help.  But maybe not.    

What's the start location?  Where should I poop?
Parking, pre-game shit talk, the start line, and all of the space you could possibly wish for to set up your trainer and your cooler of High Life will be right here:
5420 Markwood Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
Where to poop though.  Where, indeed.  We're way, way below the applicable temperature to use a port-a-potty, and it's much too late to get one ordered anyway.  What I usually do is just pull up to Shawn's house, let myself right in, go upstairs, find his bedroom, open his sock drawer, and let 'er rip.  Then, I close it tightly, reverse course, and try to act normal.  That's not necessarily what you should do, of course, but you read it here so at least you can claim genuine confusion if you get busted.  Or just track me down at the start, explain your desperation in fragmented sentences and grunts, and I'll point you to the shovel or my house.
So Aero.
Will there be an option to just ride the Paranormal loop instead of the Pantani loop?
Yeah, we've gotten that question a lot.  It would seem that the cold has people in the mood for a ride where they might be able to simply jump back in their car and start it if the reality of riding sub-zero temps on Saturday turns out to be different than the very funny idea of doing so that you have on Friday afternoon on your couch.  So yes, you can do that.  It isn't marked, but it's pretty much dialed, and if you put in 9 laps or whatever like Petrylak did 4 months ago, you'll probably be able to follow it by memory.
Also worth noting, extra hard woman points if you can muster a Paranormal Loop PLUS a Pantani Loop.  I've done that only once, and I had to take a break at mile 50 or so to cook a steak.
It's a hard ride.  Not, like, a Mark Smith sort of "I rode here from Kentucky and did the Paranormal and then ate all the food in your house and rode home" kind of a hard ride, but hard nonetheless.

How will the course be marked?
Technically, there is no course.  That's because a course requires a race, which requires entrance fees, insurance, and a general sense of accountability, which quite obviously I don't have.  So there's no tape either.  What there is, though, is a route.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12119374
Not such a bad idea to print that, put it in a little plastic tupperware that your tears can't penetrate and ruin, and tuck it away in case things go awry.

What do I win when I win?
Since there's not actually a race happening, we ALL win.  Even me, and that's being very generous given my lack of fitness and 47% body fat.  However, there's an awful lot of shwag to be had.  Ellen's kick ass, form-fitting knitted Pantani breeches.  Metro usually brings some dad-booze to award the first finisher who has kids.  The SS winner gets to stick their mangled, blistered feet into some sweet, pink socks.  And in the spirit of equal pay out for mens and women's fields, the coveted Maillot Pistachio will this year be awarded to the first lady to cross the line.  Not that there's actually a line, but you know what I mean.  The downside of this is that you'll have to track down Qwadsworth to claim what is rightly yours - a task that even Chaz Michaels has yet to successfully complete.  But I promise you, it'll be worth it when you do.

If you had to guess where I'm going to get lost, where would that be, and what should I do about it?
There are two really common wrong turns, both coming late in the ride.  That would be #17 and #20 on this here queue sheet.  Go right on the first one and left at the second.  If you fail to do that, the first thing I recommend you do is fucking panic, drop everything you have, and get in the river.  But hopefully our reliable, neutral, supportive, nutrition-providing, bong hitting van of good will manages to roll by before you do that.  Otherwise, consult the map.

Can I cheat?
One word: Motors.  I'd be disappointed if you had one and didn't use it.  For $4,000, if I had one you better believe I'm cheating even if I'm just riding to the bar.  And if you lack the $4k to be truly loathsome, there's always the cheaper journeyman options for cheating, including but not limited to shortcutting the course, taking a tow from a team car, EPO, etc.  

Dude, don't you have syphilis?  How are you going to ride Pantani with syphilis?  
Shingles.  I came down with Shingles in late January.  Not quite as dirty as syphilis, but more painful.  There were a few days there when it was pretty much all-consuming.  My policy on the matter: stay up to date with all of your vaccinations, and try not to touch me with your genitals.  But that's my policy on everything, actually, so just stay the course.  As for me, I'm on the mend, and I actually have ridden every day this week, and I feel surprisingly OK.  I'm hoping for the best.

And I'm hoping for the best for you too, but really, that is quite enough of all of this.  Prepare yourself for greatness, and dress like you mean it.

Up, up, up.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Pantani Prep

OH MY GOD.  That Pantani Ride is in 8 days, and I don't even have an excuse picked out yet.  This has really gotten away from me this year.  Even the most basic shit - road conditions, weather forecast, picking the winner's name out of a broken, sweaty helmet - I haven't done any of that.  I also haven't fully addressed even what the Pantani Ride actually is for those newcomers to the non-scene that is Il Pantani.  So snuggle up, buttercup, pour yourself a nice hot cup of HTFU, and read on if you need something to distract you from the truth, the awful truth, that you'll be climbing brokenback 8 days from approximately right now.

 What is the Pantani Ride?  What, indeed.  Wait, I've already done this.  Read all about it here:
http://blueridgeracing.blogspot.com/2015/01/what-is-pantani-ride.html
Clear as mud, then.  Wait, except for the fact that the date is Saturday, Feb 13th, and we will go live as a hoofshot horse at 11 AM.  As your attorney, I advise you to arrive early, get on the trainer, and self-medicate on your own interval.  This thing goes out hot.

What bike should you ride?  What, indeed.  To answer this question - and I've answered it many a time mind you - I might quote a younger, stronger, wiser-assed Gordon Wadsworth back when he was on a peyote-induced vision quest for greatness:
We're in the spirit world, asshole, they can't see us.
"The Pantani course is a lot like this sex dream I keep having about Joan Rivers.  It starts off pretty hot, she's young, I'm into her, she's digging me.  But then I get her up to my room, and all of the sudden it's more like one of those naked at a public election dreams, but Joan is still there, and holy shit, she's way older than I thought, and then the whole dream goes Sci-Fi, and she's got this huge green lizard tail growing out of her tits.  And then it gets really violent, and I have to escape, and I won't go into details, but it's moments like that when you're glad you're not on a road bike.  That's how the Pantani ride is."

If Buschi has to walk this, I'm going to need a harness 
I could also just cut to the chase and tell you to ride your hardtail mountain bike, but that would be cheating you out of a potentially really terrible, life-altering, I-saw-bigfoot experience in the mountains, which is what makes a story, so I won't do that.

Road Conditions: So, as of today, it's buttery smooth and clear, top to bottom, front to back.  OK, well, the back might have a little crust on the fringes and what not, but who doesn't.  It's Wyatt Mountain after all, and anything better than post-holing through thigh deep snow back there counts as clean this time of year.  But, it bares repeating - that's TODAY.  It's a different world back there, and some rain in town could be a Donner party devouring blizzard in the wilds of Greene County.  So dress warm and watch the sky.

Weather Forecast provided by Jim Cantani



Forecast: Well, it's a long way from here to Pantani day, but The Weather Channel now offers a no-bullshit, 100% accurate 15 day forecast, and here's that for Greene County.  https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/USVA0239:1:US
From where I sit, that says snow showers on Tuesday the 9th and then clear and sunny after that (but cold.)  I'd estimate that's about normal.  But again, you know that they don't actually know, and they know that, so they give you the lies 15 days in advance because screw you, you don't believe them anyway.  I'll prove it.  Watch the sky.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner: The talent that is joining us this year will likely outperform the combined level of talent we've had if you combined all of the past 10 years into one mashed up substance, put it in your pipe, and smoked it.  You'd get higher this year.  JB is coming, it's been whispered on the obscure edges of big blue.  Chaz Michaels, winner of yesteryear, is a maybe.  How 'bout Bryan Lewis, past KOM winner who was once outsprinted for the win in a devious move by Qwadsworth himself?  Or newly BRC-stickered pro, Keck Baker?  Ben King, according to Strava, has been riding the ever-loving shit out of his trainer indoors as his leg heals - so will he show up and hand out beers or show up and hand out beatings? Our own Will Leet?  And many others...If you put all of those guys into a cage match in their current forms, and spun the thing at 140 rpm, who would emerge victorious?  My pick: John Petrylak.  He's my guy, and he's Foof after all.  You just can't be 2nd as many times as he's been 2nd and not eventually come up aces.  Plenty of wrong turns, feral pets, and empty bottles out there to dismantle any of the arguably superior competition enough for Petrylak to get over the line first.


That's about all I have for you at this point.  Remember, that sense of panic you're feeling when you're considering that you haven't actually climbed anything more than 200 feet in the last 4 months is normal, useful, and a vital part of the survival instinct that is naturally supposed to kick in when you're faced with something terrible.

Ignore it.

Keep looking for that right hander onto brokenback mountain rd, and up, up, up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Motors 2

Soooo, check out my new cyclocross bike:

Just picked 'er up at the shop last week, eh.  It's a little loose in the back, but like, whatevs.  Who wants to race me so I can prove my superiority and further stoke my lifelong dependency on the opinions of others to overcome my own deep-rooted lack of self worth?

Because, fuck you guys, I'm Fast.

Motors, eh?  Fascinating shit.  I was actually a little surprised by how many people were surprised by this.  Industry insiders have been writing about this stuff in the quasi-mainstream internet news for a long time, thus informing industry sort-of-halfway-connected-but-not-really dudes who in turn wrote on their blogs, prompting those of us way out in the fringes of internet newsland to write as much on our own.  So I thought that pretty much everyone was ready for this.  But no, it's with utter shock and disappointment that we have faced up to the hard truth that some chick in Belgium and/or her entourage put a motor in her bike to try to help her win Worlds.

Thus proving once and for all that a good muddy 'cross race can and will fuck up anything on your bike, even your sneaky, well-hidden, $2,000 engine that you claim to know nothing about.

"It's my friend's bike," as an excuse, sounds an awful lot like what we meth-heads here in the south like to shout, "That shit ain't mine!" when the feds finally come pouring in the back door, and oh no, you're the last person we'd expect to be cooking up the nasty brew in the back of your white trash trailer park, you cheating, incorrigible fuck.

I have so many questions though.  One detail in these news stories, which of course are still evolving, is about Femke's "Entourage" having deceived the Belgian federation, and I think that's the one that I find most engaging.  I see the words "Cyclocross Entourage" and I just can't read enough.  How has this happened, that we have arrived at a point in the developed western world where an upper-midpack U-23 Cross racer has an entourage?  Presumably, an evolution has transpired that I was black-out drunk for and can't remember, but why?

Also, the fine ($200,000) is something that I can't mentally grasp yet.  Like, for example, how in the fuck is a U-23 upper-midpack cross racer ever going to pay that fine when she's got a whole entourage of hangers-on suckling at the superstar teat of fame and fortune to worry about paying for already?  They're bleeding her dry, I assume, so how the fuck is that fine ever going to work?  Will she have to do hard time if she can't pay it?

But look at the big picture: the entourage, all of this cheating, the epidemic levels of beer throwing and spitting on the sport's greatest stars and you know what I think we've finally arrived at?  A sport people actually give a shit about and want to win.  So congrats, 'cross.  You have officially arrived.  Good luck dealing with the ramifications of finally almost making it.


It happens to the best of us.
Keep your head on a swivel, and up, up, up.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Misnomers



Jeremiah Bishop is reportedly coming to the Pantani ride.  Ben King, evidently, has volunteered for beer handup responsibilities.  I read all of this on big blue, so I know that it is 114% true.

I don't think I ever expected Jeremiah to turn up for the Pantani.  Not because he isn't into a disorganized, underground 50-miler with low expectations for signage, support, and so forth, but simply because he was actually, tangibly, financially the victim of the sort of drug-sport that Pantani represents.  I've written a few times about the nature of drugs in cycling and the long-term benefits that an athlete might derive from EPO, and I've sworn to never utter the words Ryder Hesjedal on this blog ever again.  But I'm breaking rank here in order to make a point about The Pantani Ride that I think is relevant: that "Pantani" is sort of a misnomer for what it is we're trying to do out here in a couple weeks.

I don't guess Jeremiah ever met Marco Pantani.  Different eras, for the most part, and different disciplines as well.  I could be wrong about that.  But the culture that Marco was a core member of - EPO and doping in elite professional cycling  - was certainly one that hurt JB.  Indeed, JB's incredible bike handling skills and engine weren't quite enough to get him over the hump from pro mtb racing into pro road cycling in the late 90's, not when the likes of Roland Green, Hesjedal, and a bunch of Canadian dopers were stealing the wins, the money, and the limelight.

It's worth pointing out, I suppose, that JB did manage to win some races against those guys - largely the technical, muddy, West Virginia-sort-of tracks where his handling could give him enough of an edge to actually win.  But on a clean course with a bunch of climbing, for the most part, dope always wins, and for sure guys like Hesjedal, Roland Green, Seamus McGrath took advantage of that, took advantage of guys like JB who weren't willing to cheat, and while JB stayed back in the USA and a part of the mountain biking circuit that we look back upon with much nostalgia now, guys like Hesjedal made the upgrade to Europe, to the road, and most profoundly to the money.
because cheaters like to party too.  
So Jeremiah Bishop coming out for the Pantani ride is a little unexpected.   Ditto that for Ben King, though he probably is not as directly limited by Pantani's bullshit behavior as JB was, he sure knows the type.  He's had to fetch Hesjedal some bottles.  He had to tow that cheating fuck, Ivan Stevic around in the break in Richmond for 4 hours or so back in September.  So handing out beers at the top of brokenback at a ride called "Pantani" is a stretch, I would imagine.  I guess the boredom you can achieve by breaking your fibula will make you do some weird things.

Though it goes without saying that such a role is absolutely vital:


A name is just a name, and I get that.  But sometimes, and for some people, a name actually represents something else.  Like, for example, what if we called it "The Hesjedal Ride"?  Would JB still come?  Would anyone?  Would I get a letter from Ryder's attorney, demanding that I either pay him royalties or change the name?  Would that letter have a return address?  Would it be possible that I could take a shit in an envelope and mail it to that address?  Inconvenient, sure, but I'd be willing to charge everyone attending $1,000 if it meant that it would get Ryder's attention in such a way that I might receive SASE from Ryder Hesjedal that I could defecate in and mail back to him.  And your $1,000 means that you can shit in it too.

At some point, you have to admit that you're just carting around a bad idea, prodding it along even though the usefulness has pretty much expired.  Pantani was a cheating fuck.  I loved his courage, I loved his defiance, I loved the way he stood up to Lance Armstrong, and simply refused to back down, but still, Pantani is no hero.


The Pantani Ride, on the other hand, is a free celebration of our local dirt, early season fitness (or lack thereof), blowing up on 20% inclines, and getting to rub elbows with some local guys that happen to have once been cheated out of an entire lifestyle.   When Shawn and I first started this thing, it was just the two of us, and Pantani had been dead for only a year, and I don't think we ever considered that his iniquities had actually affected people that we knew.  Greene County is a long, long ride from Italy.  But not too far, it turns out.


Continuing to call what we're doing out here "Pantani" is starting to feel a little bit like Weekend at Bernie's, where we are just sort of propping up this dead idea of Pantani and carting him around in a way that isn't accurate (or healthy.)  So I think this might be the last year we call it that.  Pantani 11 will be the last Pantani.  Not sure what we'll call it next year, but it'll be year 12, so it'll have to be Whatever12.  Not Whatever12, specifically, but you know what I mean.  I just can't watch the future of the sport - talented kids like Charlie Ormsby or that newly minted pro Bryan Lewis - trudge up brokenback if it's in Pantani's name.

So that's about that, then.  Oh, right, the weather.  Whole bunch of snow still out there atop the pop as of today, but it'll be 60 degrees and sunny all weekend so that stuff is on limited time.  How limited?  Like any misnomer, you just never know how long a thing will hang around.

Only way to find out is to keep moving forward, keep looking up, up, up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

If Trump rode Pantani

"Pantani is so popular, I could stand in the middle of brokenback mountain road and literally shoot someone, and you people would still insist on riding up it."  
up, up, up there.
"I'm calling for a total and complete shutdown of people going up brokenback until we can get a handle on just what the hell is going on up there."

"There are sections out there, radical sections, and the Police in greene county are afraid for their own lives to go up there because sections of brokenback are so radicalized and steep."

"Look at that face!  Would anyone really ride up that?  Can you imagine that as the face of our next spring classic?"  

"Gordon Wadsworth.  Sadly, he's no longer a 10.  You can see that there's blood coming out of his eyes.  Blood coming out of his...wherever."  

"It's like in golf.  A lot of people - and I don't want this to sound trivial - but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters.  Very unattractive.  You see these great riders with these really huge wheels, because they just can't ride downhill anymore.  And i hate that.  I'm a traditionalist, and I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, really, but I'm a traditionalist."

"We just got 30 inches of snow out on top of the pop.  Biggest snow dump in years.  Is our country still wasting money on this global warming hoax?"  

"When Richmond sends it's people to the Pantani ride, they're not sending their best.  They're sending people who have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems.  They're bringing drugs.  They're bringing addiction.  They're bringing crimes, rapists, and some, I assume, are good people, but most of them aren't."

 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nor'Easter

First, this:
Return of the MAC?  Or Still the MAC.  You decide.  

Moving on, briefly, from my amateur photoshopping skills (but never for long), let's look at the weather.

Forecast for Friday through the weekend says 20" of snow via a Nor'Easter that is neither hitting the north nor is it actually occurring on Easter.  But directionally speaking, and by character, it's packing enough wallop to bury Pantani in snow up to his very ears.  Like The Stelvio.  Like addiction.  But better to get that out of the way now, I suppose, than later.

Also a forecast, also Pantani relevant, also disheartening - Quadsworth ain't coming.
Sad but True.  He got called up from the minors to race legit pro level shit at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo out in AZ that very same day.  He's the 5th man on a 5-man pro team racing for Pivot Cycles. Never mind, for a moment, what kind of universe we live in where Quadsworth is the #5 man, and an alternate at that.  But good for him and good for Pivot to turn the 'stache loose in the desert and see what happens.

My advice in that scenario?  Don't pass.  That's how Kobe made it big.  Just keep coming through hot, keep the baton tucked in your shorts, and tell those bitches to sit back and drink some water - it gets hot in the desert.  You'll be big time in no time.

What does that do for the Pantani dynamic, and for that matter, Calf vs. Quad?  Well, it's a different race without Gordon, of course.  But is he justified/required to send a proxy to race on his behalf?  And if Will trounces said proxy, will there always be an asterisk in the trophy case?  These are all questions that we in the sporting press are not yet prepared to address, as the shock of the whole thing is still sort of sinking in.

Whatever it may be, and whatever lurks around the corner - be it Pantani, Arizona, or just your run of the mill January malaise, I say get out and get after it while the gettin' is still good.

Up, up, up.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Duel

There can only be one wearer of the Maillot Pistachio.  Like Aaron Burr vs Alexander Hamilton.  Tyson vs Bowe.  Han Solo vs Grito.  One man walks away the winner and the other man hangs his head, dispatched, and drunk on the pain of it.

So it is 1 month from tomorrow, Feb 13th, Calf vs Quad will come to pass.  Stereotypes come in all shapes and sizes, and in this case those shapes and sizes are a slightly less than malnourished mountain biker - a gifted climber by nature who also enjoys dieting vs. a Cat 2 Roadie sprinter who'd make short work of that little squirt on anything remotely flat or paved.  But this ain't that.  This is Pantani 11, and the stakes, as always, are downright low.  And steep.  Even Mr. Calf has admitted he's the underdog by a not insignificant long shot.  But anyway, who will come away from this thing with the Jersey?  And, for that matter, can Will Leet even fit in that Jersey?

Let's have a closer look at these two gentlemen racers in an apples to apples comparison, whatever that is.

The Quad
Height: 5'7"
Weight: Neglible
Reach: Also negligible, but he likes a 150mm stem for whatever reason.
Discipline: Mountain.  Like, the tall, steep kind.  Gears not required.

The Calf
Height: 6'2"
Reach: 37.5"
Weight: 2 hundge?  Probably less, but I like round numbers.
Discipline: Road.  Specifically, a hard, flat, sprint finish.  1,000 watts.  Your mom.

Here's the thing about apples to apples comparisons.  If you're the superior apple, you don't have all that much to worry about.  Show up, look shiny, flash your gratuitous quads a time or two for the ladies/cameras, and boom, you shoot off the start line like a rocketship (with a mustache) and never look back.  But when you're the inferior apple, the key is basically this: don't be an apple at all.  Show up to an apples to apples comparison, but come armed, making it more like an apple to AK comparison, and there you go.  If nothing else, the apple is confused, that sassy little shit.

Then you seize the moment.

A list of things you might try to dethrone the mostly undisputed Pantani Champ:

1) Bribe an official.  It always works until it doesn't.  The chance that Saturday the 13th will somehow be the moment it doesn't work is actually really low.  So, cash in then.

2) Aerobars.

3) Alliances.  Look, you're local, Calf-Man.  Qwadsworth lives in like Texas or something these days.  Make yourself some friends in low places that will block, take a pull, bully for, pass you their last bottle, and otherwise aid and abet your bid for an upset victory.  See also, Tom Bouber.

4) Prepare to do the morally unsavory.  Whatever it takes.  Did I say the word cheat?  No.  Ok, yes, I did.  But that's only because Pantani would either win that shit or die trying and who are you really trying to impress anyway?  Yourself?  I think not.  When Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, the story goes that Hamilton actually outdrew him, but he shot in the air on purpose out of some bizarre sense of honor.  And Burr put him in the ground.  So put him into the gutter and get on with it.

5) Practice running up 20% grades with your bike.  Stairs will also work for this.  So will the Stairmaster at the gym, but be advised you'll get some funny looks from the New Year's Resolution crowd.  This is a unique skillset, of course requiring massive cardiovascular ability, but also technique.  It's not easy to not bang your left pedal against your right kneecap repeatedly, especially at 200 beats/minute with the edges of your vision starting to fold in.  So practice is key here.  In your favor,  one muscle group that this technique obliges: calves.  I think this is where you make your move.


6) There is, of course, that tiny detail that Quadsworth isn't actually the reigning Pantani Champ anyway.  That's Chaz Michaels.  So technically, if you can distract Quad long enough and keep his focus on you, then Chaz might have a chance to slip up the road when the going gets steep and Quadsworth stops to take a dump.  And you will have effectively de-throned Quadsworth even though you're not actually the champ yourself.  That's still a win in my book, which is written in Italian and always evolving.

Now, for our readers at home, I know you're wondering "what does any of this have to do with me?"  The answer?  Everything.  You and I both know you haven't trained for this shit yet, and the fact that it's 1 month out pretty much guarantees you a spot with me at the very back of the pain train.  Bravo.  But these tried-and-true techniques are just as valuable to you as they are to Will Leet.  Which is to say, probably not at all, but look, there's no sense in crying over spilled milk here.  You didn't train, and that's ok, unless you NEVER train, and you always show up sort of drunk and inept, and this is just another example of self-destructive behavior that you can't seem to shake, in which case, that's not worth crying about either.

Is this the very definition of white privilege: trudging up Brokenback in a sublime amount of pain with a $5,000 mountain bike but without the legs to actually pedal it, swearing you're going to stop doing this to yourself but you never actually do.

Maybe it's time to cat up, up, up.