Friday, February 24, 2012


I was riding up brokenback in my granny gear, cold, tired, cussing a little, late in the game on Sunday, and I got to wondering how many times I’ve climbed that thing.  100 times?  Less?  Certainly not as many times as, say, C-Ham, or Captain America, whose residence at the base of the beast lends itself to more frequent trips up the mountain.   But a substantial number nonetheless, I keep going up it and it doesn’t really get easier.  I tend to forget just how hard the Pantani ride is.  47 miles or so.  5200 feet of climbing. Not so bad on paper.  But the reality of brokenback changes your mind about that when you keep turning the corner into another 100 yard, 20 degree pitch – again and again for 3.5 miles. 

In short, it’s amazing. 
I really just can't get enough pictures of Todd humping this sign. 

I wondered, somewhere about Stone Mountain Vineyard (whose owner recently passed away of a heart attack) about the effect Marco Pantani (also technically a victim of a heart attack) has had on my life.  And maybe it was the proximity to all of that dying young that made me acknowledge that Pantani, despite his own radically unhealthy obsessiveness, has made me a healthier person.  In a way, the pain that he put himself through inspires me to go out and ride anyway, whatever that anyway might defy.  Cold.  Rain.  Snow.  Sleep deprivation.  Too busy with work.  Too lazy.  Every winter, when I might otherwise tuck inside for a while, the notion that on the Sunday after Valentine’s day I will have to climb brokenback with very little left in the tank reminds me I should probably get off my ass and train a little. 

But every man experiences the Pantani ride his own way.  More details here and here and here, and perhaps my favorite of all way down at the bottom, here.  Among other places. 

Onward, but still on the topic of training through the winter instead of just honing mint lattes and cupcakes down your neck, might I suggest a little Sherando. 
Or a whole lot of Sherando

50 rugged miles.  Torrey, Kennedy, Slacks, Mill Creek, a little wintergreen sting in the tail, and then, perhaps most importantly, a Beer Garden.  That's where they grow beer.  New Belgian Beer to be exact.  

As my wife asked me, “Do you think people know what they’re signing up for when they sign up for something like that?” 
Firm answer, “no.”  And thank God for that.  Otherwise they wouldn’t do it.  And by they, I mean, we.  Scare hours after you have suffered cramped and bonked your way down Torrey ridge, you can barely remember just how bad you felt in that moment.  The glory overshadows the pain, and yes, oh yes, you were radical coming down the final section to the Furnace. 

Now drink your Fat Tire.  That’s what counts.

Keep climbing.
Up, up, up.   

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pop on Fox

Pop on Fox
Fox on Pop
Pop wears warm socks on Fox
Fox drops lots of pops who don't train lots

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pantani Ride Q&A and General Misinformation

Let's get this out of the way early:
The Pantani ride is happening this weekend, blizzard or not.

A little snow doesn't scare me.  A lot of snow scares me a little, but that's the thing about the peloton - it rolls on, with or without you.  And, let's face it, we've been in this situation before

And it was awesome. 

With that said, and for the sake of real, genuine misinformation (much of it remarkably outdated) let's dig into the mailbag and see what's so hard to understand. 

Let's start with the basics:
Q: Is the great Pantani ride happening this weekend?
A:  Yes.  Sunday at 11 AM, so not technically ALL weekend, but this weekend nonetheless.  But just a quick caveat to that statement, the only person one Earth with the panache, dedication, and heart to make the Pantani last all weekend is IN.  So, quite possibly, we'll be here until Monday. 

Q:  Really?  I'm in, but what time is it?  Your website says 10 and the blog says 11.
A:  Vague, yeah?  Technically, we are rolling at 11 AM Sunday on the big bulbous nose, but arriving by 10 AM or so in order to fix your flat tire, adjust your jock strap, align your compass, and generally screw your head on straight is probably a good idea. 

Q:  I can't seem to find the registration page on BikeReg.  How do I sign up?
A:  You'll need to write, print out, and sign a legal document proclaiming your intent to race the esteemed Pantani race and also claiming coverage under some kind of  team-sponsored, multi-national insurance policy; have it notarized, emblazoned with silver, and then laminate it.  Then, show up on Sunday, come to the start line, and shove it directly up your ass.  And you're in.  Easy as that. 

Q:  You mentioned that your pre-race interview with C-Ham was mostly fictitious.  But I have it on good authority that C-Ham does actually have Chlamydia. 
A:  That is not technically a question, but we'll allow it because it's awesome, and also a great reminder to you kids out there to think before you become grossly intoxicated and use a public restroom.  Thanks for the reminder. 

Q:  Speaking of which, that pre-race interview is no longer available?  What gives?
A:  Another smidge of cycling history, devoured by the internet. 

Q:  Hey Boss is the starting address still 551 Allen Road 22936? Pantani goes live at 11am right? I'm kicking around bringing the cross bike, what do you think would the MTB be the safer bet due to road conditions?
A:  That's at least three questions, actually, but again, fine.  Yes, we'll start from 551 Allen Rd at 11 AM.  The Cross Bike vs Mountain Bike vs Road Bike theory has been kicked around and tested to the point of breaking.  I'll say that the first half of the course is a good cross bike ride, but the lollipop loop at the top is really not.  By the time you come off Simmons Gap on the final push home, you'll probably see an even mix of bikes around you.  But you won't see *Bob Anderson*, no matter what he's riding.  He's already done. 
*speaking of which, someone please send off a homing pidgeon or a smoke signal or a flare or something to let Bob know about this ride. 

Q:  What do I do if there's inclement weather?  My smartphone says it'll be 37 degrees and snowing on Sunday at 11 AM. 
A:  Never mind, for a moment, how smart your phone may or may not be, or its merits as weather prognostication technology.  Never mind the fickle nature of February weather.  Never mind your lack of grit.  Marco Pantani would go.  If you can admit, at least to yourself, that pain is a part of why you ride and a part of what makes it good, then bad weather is actually something that will enhance the experience.  But please bring a winch if you have one because parking could get a little soft. 

Q:  It's going to be wet, cold, and determined on Sunday.  Is C-Ham still your pick?  Thomas Bouber is Belgian. 
A:  That's more like it.  Great question.  C-Ham is, indeed, still my pick.  But your point about Bouber's nationality, as well as the implied conclusion derived from it, are both entirely valid.  Mental note to try to spend some time on Bouber's 6 if he doesn't torch me in the first mile. 

Q:  Will there be a KOM category? 
A:  Hmmmm.  As much as I'd like to discard this question as irrelavant and needless change, I have to admit that Marco Pantani would dig a KOM category.  Really, the fact that we've had no KOM category to this point is sort of an oversight.  But, when you think about it, every ride you've ever been on has a KOM category.  Polkadotted jersey or not, there's always that one guy on every ride who has to get to the top first, bonk, crash on the descent, and repeat until he winds up at the finish mid-pack in a drippy mess.  So yes, unofficially-offically, there is a KOM category.  Prize to be determined.  But consider yourself to be grabbing a point if you're the first one over Fox mtn , the gap above Blackwells Hollow on 810, Mission Home, or the mailboxes at the top of brokenback either time you go past them.  That's 5 points up for grabs, I suppose, but if you've got sufficient bloodflow to your brain that you're able to count them, then you're doing it wrong. 

Q:  Better provision:  bear spray or cell phone?
A:  Toss up. 

Q:  OK, I'm in.  But I'm pretty sure I'll get lost and that intimidates me.
A:  Relaaaaaax.  Come on, think about it, what's the worst that could happen.  goooooood.   Now, take all of those thoughts, and flush them down the toilet with your EPO suppository.  Better?  Gooooood.  Now print these maps and this queue sheet, place them in a dry plastic baggie so your blood and tears don't render them soggy and worthless, and rest up so you can just tuck in with a fast group and not worry about navigation anyway. 

That's about all I can do for you at this point, folks.  If things are still too cryptic or undefined for you, then chances are The Pantani Ride isn't for you anyway. 

Just in case, though, here are some Q&A links from yesteryear:

It's a mighty fine Friday, sunshine peaking in the window like the weekend from right around the corner.  So that's about that. 

Until Sunday, be kind to each other, relax a bit, and put your money where your mouth is. 

Up, up, up. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Budgetary Shortfall in Q4?  No worries.  Just keep Pedaling. 
 Behold, the latest in meeting (and cycling) technology:  The ConferenceBike

It's a meeting on wheels.  How many wheels, I'm not sure. 

Work-Life balance just got a little better. 

But does it come in a 29er version?  (You see, the larger wheels actually roll over obstacles better...blah, blah, blah.)

Gearing choices?  2X10?  Can a team of 7 really pedal this thing up Brokenback without a granny gear?

Do they make a ti version? 

XT or XTR?

Fender and pannier options?  I'd like to pedal this thing down the Tour Divide. 

Which ConferenceBike model is best for hucking?

And so on. 

First person to photoshop Shawn's face onto the guy in pink gets to wear the Maillot Pistachio on Sunday. 

Pantani Ride Q&A tomorrow.  We've got some doozies. 

Up, up, up. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Global warming, or just freakishly terrific weather for February 1: it does not matter.  Pantani would be punching it up something steep right now either way. 

And so, it turns out, would The Rooster:

This just in:
Cock-a-doodle friggin' doo!
Count me in
with another douche bag or two.

The Rooster will see you now. 
Yeah, it's like that when you're in Richmond and it's 80 degrees in the dead of a Winter - which is to say, very much alive.  Judging from the size of the needle, I bet that dude is monster fit, and if he's rolling up here with who I think he's rolling up here with, they'll be off the front by the time we hit Markwood rd.  Welcome to Droppedville - population: Me. 

You know what I've been pondering more of lately?  Not just the whole global warming scare, which is tough to really squawk about too much when you can sunbathe in January, but instead, Global Dimming - basically, the idea that, through pollutants in our atmosphere allowing less sunlight through to the Earth, things are just a little darker than they used to be.  As a metaphor for humanity on this planet, that's strong and at least worth considering. 

You know what else is strong and worth considering?  C-ham winning the Pantani Ride.  I put a considerable amount of thought into this, and without really knowing who will show up fresh on 2/19 in what is likely to be radically cramp-conducive early season conditions, C-Ham is my pick.  Nobody cramps and rallies like C-ham. 
ouch face.

 Lots of naysayers, perhaps, on that subject, and the forthcoming installment of our now-annual, mostly fabricated, pre-race interview will probably not convince them either.  But, just remember who knows the sneaky way down from the top the best. 
this way
 That's about all I've got time for.  In fact, no, that's way, way more than I had time for.  But a man's gotta say his piece and stick to it sometimes, and here's mine: 


Which, if you're C-ham's size, is just over 13 feet. 
Chime in with your picks, but don't forget -  keep your cards close to your chest, especially if you've got an ace or two, and don't play 'em until we hit Brokenback. 

vile, yet delightful. 

Up, up, up.