Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pantani 2013 recap and a title yet to be claimed

Remember that time Dee Dee crushed the Pantani Ride and I claimed her data as my own?

I am proud to call that lady a teammate (and steal her fame.)

Yeah, so The Pantani Ride happened.  Big start - maybe 60 or so riders rolled out down Allen Rd under sunny skies, dodging latecomers and dead possum on our way west.  Good things happened out there.  I'm not really sure what.  I made it into the lead group, which was fun for a while, but then I blacked out and came to around the base of Brokenback, suddenly dehydrated, crawl-riding with Saul and Panzaboonen.  Panzaboonen cramped, popped, and I feared for his safety but I pressed on behind Saul, who was slightly disoriented and wondering aloud if we'd just come down this road.  Moments later, Saul was gone too, and I clung to my granny gear, over the summit, and on to the finish. 

But that's more than enough about me.  It's a little difficult to be certain what happened at the front on Sunday given that the most official timing mechanisms were word of mouth, the angle of the sun, and Strava.  I believe as many as half of the sixty or so riders that started got lost, which is about average for The Pantani ride.  But from where I was sitting, which was admittedly very, very far back, it looked like Wadsworth got the win, Wittwer got the KOM, and David Reid once again brought home the dad-booze, all despite some navigational challenges that are par for the course, especially this course, but again I don't know.  It's actually possible that Frank Yeager took all three of those spots, so maybe I'll just trail off here and assess that the guys at the front were going remarkably fast, uphill, with gearing that I'd have trouble pedaling around the block. 
OK, if you really want it, an eyewitness account from the front of the race is here.

First place lady?  I'm not certain.  Might have been Dee Dee, in which case, I'll claim her prize just like I claimed her performance data.  And I'll have that in beer please, whatever it was. 

As for the masses, plenty of stories of mud, fun, and pain.  It's such a big, unique loop on varied terrain that everyone experiences the ride in different ways, but only some of them involve creek-drinking and days of lingering diarrhea.  Fun fact:  If you misspell diarrhea badly enough, Firefox auto-correct will recommend replacing it with the word "warhead."  Good times. 

Plenty of pictures floating around out there. I believe it was the largest Pantani ride so far.  So thanks for coming out and doing your part to making cycling look even more masochistic to your friends and family who simply don't understand why you insist on doing this sort of thing to yourself.

And yet, we're still missing a champion.  So far, I don't think the singlespeed title has been claimed, and with it remains an unclaimed bounty worthy of a pirate.

I say so far with considerable purpose.  Just because no one finished on Sunday doesn't mean that the clock isn't still ticking.  Indeed, showing up at about 10AM sometime next weekend, easing around the course, stopping for a glass of wine at Stone Mountain, a sandwich in Dyke, and even some cookies at the Mission Home Bakery, then cruising in half-sauced by about dusk would, technically, net you a time of something like 6 days and 15 hours, and a heavily asterisked win in the questionably penned singlespeed history books.  I'm just saying, the title is still up for grabs.  Think of the pink socks as a bounty, although in fine pirata form, I believe Metro may have pocketed the goods and run for the River City, so you might need to hunt him down to claim your prize after you claim the title. 

In short, despite a pretty tense race at the front on Sunday, the race is still on.  Get your game face back from the cleaners and saddle up, buttercup.  Those socks aren't winning themselves. 

Up, up, up. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

All clear atop the mighty Fox

All clear to the top of Fox Mtn. 
A little chunky here and there, some new gravel on Wesley Chapel, a pine tree down, and some tree branches strewn about.  But no snow.  All in. 

Past that, I have no idea.  I do imagine the back side of Wyatt mountain is, if nothing else, greasy as hell. 

Getcher game face pointed up.

all clear atop the mighty fox
too early to poop here. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fridays, also, are for thirsty.

If you do what I do on the weekends, which you obviously do or you wouldn't be reading this, then Friday's are also for thirsty.  Maybe stay away from the dairy products at this point though.  Whatever, I'm not your mom. 

On the subject of thirsty, two preponderances have left the Pantani Ride tifosi thirsty for knowledge, those being:
1)  The Rooster is inThe Rooster is not in.  The Rooster is...?

The Rooster is doped

2)  Rather than a dusting of snow, we got a few inches, and it stands to reason that the little piece of Canada that exists on high out in Greene county may have gotten a touch more. So how's the course? 

Well, to answer # 1 first, since it's absolutely the more important question, unfortunately no, judging from chronology, I don't believe the Rooster will be in attendance.  It's sad.  Though he has been a media focal point of past spring classics, and even at one time a podium threat, The Rooster is still serving the tail end of his two year ban for "suspicious hematocrit results" after the Ferry Roubaix of 2011.  I won't go into the science therein, because I fear science, and I fear the comeback wrath of the Rooster.  Think Alberto Contador, but taller, and fiercely intoxicated. 
We'll miss ya, Chicken.

On to the weather, and the course, and the conditions, it's a little tough to tell at this point.  Yes, it's true that we got about 3 inches out here on the north end, (insert dwarf porn joke here).  But the mercury hit 50F by about 1 pm, and since then the sun's been shining and the birds have been chirping.  More of that tomorrow, and I'm pretty sure we'll have a snow-free Pantani course save for a little slop out atop the pop. 

I'm wrong about that sort of thing more than I'm right, though.  So as you rifle through your tire collection tomorrow night and contemplate psi, tread patterns, and tubular glue tolerance when faced with wild dog attacks, keep in mind that the backside of Wyatt Mountain gets very little sunlight this time of year, and it doesn't take much for the downhill over to bacon hollow to turn into a luge. 

The fun thing about the Pantani course, whatever bike-tire-shoe booty combination you choose, it will be wrong for a pretty significant portion of the ride.  How wrong is really up to you.

Meanwhile, over on the big blue informational superhighway of Facebook, there's enough chatter to keep you distracted well into the workday, which, if you're like me, will be concluding around 4 PM so I can take a proper beating from my kids before I abandon them on Sunday.  There's a poll, a bunch of links to this blog, some shit talking, and even a wee diagram to categorize the day Phil-and-Paul style as if we were professionals riding our $7,000 road bikes on pavement on TV.  Which, in a  healthy dose of irony, some of us do.

Climb data for THE Pantani Ride
average grade vs. maximum grade.  A quotient worth pondering. 

The list of really legit riders there on big blue (notice I don't call them registrants - it's facebook, not bikereg) gives me a moment of pause, and I'm proud to say that this thing called the Pantani Ride has sort of taken off, at least as much as a disorganized, gravel group ride in February named after a cheating road cyclist can.  Goes to show what the winter will do to you.  My money's still on Quadsworth to ride the Maillot Pistachio right into a repeat win, but if I had to pick the whole podium I'd be hard pressed to choose between about 15 very hard men.  And anyway, Bob's not on facebook, so what the hell do I know. 

Anyway, about tomorrow.  Every year the day before the ride, I roll out to the top of Fox Mountain to take a few photos, contemplate my lack of fitness, weep a little about what I'll have to do to myself on Sunday, and post such results up here.  This year will be no different.  So tune back in tomorrow if you'd like the latest semi-frozen, half-mud, half-ice informational scoop.

And if you realize you're better off not knowing, we'll just see ya Sunday.

Up, up, up. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursdays are for Thirsty

Over the hump, into the downhill side of the week, hit the weekend with a little zip in your step.  It's Pantani week, and Sunday at 10 AM the mayhem goes live. 

Well, around 10 AM that is.  Likely a few minutes after. To be perfectly concise, whenever Quadsworth is done stretching his gigantic, creamy hamstrings, we will roll.  And if you're into all of that on the weekends, then Thursdays are for thirsty.  Hydrate, bitches. 

Also, given that it's Thursday, it's safe to say that the weather forecast for Sunday is at least 25% accurate by now, and she's showing 49 and sunshine.  Not a bad day to go ride in the mountains. Not a bad weekend to not be in New England

Snowfall Forecast Through Saturday
the little fish that could cripple Boston but has little to no relevance down thisaway.
So then, the official Pantani Course Weather forecast: A few flurries tonight, some rain tomorrow to soak it in proper, sunshine Saturday, and pain on Sunday.  Dress accordingly.

And as long as we're making last minute preparations, let me post up those maps again.

Never a bad idea to print those, put them in a waterproof container of some kind so they won't be rendered soppy and useless by your sweat and tears.  Although I've had some feedback that there's a turn somewhere around Nortonsville that isn't accounted for on the queue sheet, in which case just point it downstream to where civilization usually exists and hope for the best. 

Also important at this, the 11th hour, it's a good time to change your bike set up.  Maybe even wait until Saturday for that.  But a really last-minute, hurried attempt to a) change your wheels and cranks b) pull a proper cross bike together c) rethink gearing and install new cables and housing, etc is always, always the right call.  In fact, what the hell, Shawn owns a bike shop, and the race starts in his yard.  Might as well just show up 15 minutes early with a box full of shambled parts and have him put it together for you.  No time like the present. 

As for me, it's with a heavy heart that I have to say this is the first Pantani ride in quite some time that Betty White won't be making it around the course.  No indeed, Betty's days out there at the top of Brokenback are behind her, and she's been given a soft desk job with the occasional responsibility to pull the kiddie trailer around the block.  What can I say - even the Mona Lisa's falling apart. 
Madonna, on the other hand, is lean, mean, and more ripped now than she was in her, ummm, prime?

Steel is real scary

That's about all I've got for you.  I'd summarize in some way, but I didn't really have that much to say in the first place anyway.  Show up before 10 AM, dress warm, pack a lunch.  The rest is up to Pantani.  

 "Looking back, there was always a fatalism in Marco's riding. He won or lost through foolish, inspired deeds with little sense of strategic calculation. The tangible holding-at-bay of the night in those unforgettable late-afternoon victories at Montecampione and Les Deux Alpes was always there. For others, stage-racing has always meant weighing up the potential of stages to come, and riding accordingly - riding, it might be said, in the future tense. Marco had no future tense. His style, in life, like his cocaine use and death, was lyrical, not narrative - a losing himself in time - and, in time (or outside it), the forces that had allowed him to live, consumed him as they consume us all." - Matt Rendell, The Death of Marco Pantani

 Up, up, up.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock Sox

One brief mention of a pair of pink, fuzzy, handmade, warm, thoroughly awesome socks to be awarded to the first singlespeeder to cross the line on Sunday, and the entirety of singlespeed nation seems to be thrown into a sudden, manic tailspin.  Straight to the mailbag, where I'm not kidding, the very essentia of riding one-geared bikes now seems called into question. 

Badass socks!  But I'm actually a size 13.  Can the hem be adjusted? 
Can I run a flip flop hub? 
Is there a prize for the first guy to finish on a fixie? 
What SS gearing do you recommend?
I'm a sure win.  Can I preemptively wear them for the ride on Sunday?
How long did it take to make those?  Are they wool?  Are they machine washable?  Do they come with a warranty?
I'm thinking about switching from gears where I have no chance to win anything, to SS where maybe the competition will be thin enough that I can actually win.  What do you think?  How many singlespeed registrants do you currently have?
If I win both the overall and the KOM and I do it all on a singlespeed, and I'm a dad that has to go home and take care of his kids afterwards, do I win the jersey, the chapeau, the socks, and the highly-caffeinated booze?

Shhhhhhhh.  This level of stress, in the week leading up to the most important non-race on the international singlespeed non-calendar, is not conducive to having good legs on race day.  Let's back into these answers one delicately crafted, politically correct answer at a time. 

If I win both the overall and the KOM and I do it all on a singlespeed, and I'm a dad that has to go home and take care of his kids afterwards, do I win the jersey, the chapeau, the socks, and the highly-caffeinated booze?
It's important to have dreams, I get that.  Dreaming big, it's been said, is the only way to dream.  But it's also a pretty good way to disappoint yourself and those around you that listen to your drivel.  So to answer your question directly: yes, prizes and categories are cumulative.  It's sort of like the Tour De France, where a guy could, technically, win the KOM, the Maillot Jaune, the Green sprinters jersey, and the best young riders jersey after one very unlikely, chemically-altered 3 week race.  But around here, we'll also throw in a 5th and 6th prize for that sort of behavior - a healthy ass kicking and a swirlie dip in the icy waters of the teventrails portajohn.  You're officially on notice.  Take your skinny, sandbagging ass to Europe where it belongs. 

I'm thinking about switching from gears where I have no chance of winning anything, to SS where maybe the competition will be thin enough that I can actually win. What do you think? How many singlespeed registrants do you currently have?
Technically, that's 2 questions.  And in a lot of ways this sort of rationale has brought the once-nearly-extinct Professional Singlespeeder subspecies of cyclist back to the flourishing, rapidly breeding population that exists today.  But lucky for me I only need one answer:  this is not a good idea for you.  I like your enthusiasm, and it's swell to see how inspired you are to have warm, fuzzy feet on the way home, but like most long singlespeed rides, the idea of such a thing and the reality of limping your swollen knees and hurty toes up brokenback mtn rd are just really different things.  Leave the singlespeeding to the people who can actually speed. 

How long did it take to make those? Are they wool? Are they machine washable? Do they come with a warranty?
Momma T whipped up these hand-knitted, machine washable, cotton puppies in about 40 hours of continuous, forced, hard labor in the newly anointed Teven-sweatshop.  She was allowed 3 short breaks for water and stale bread.  Your future thoughts on kinder labor conditions are welcome, but in case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of little teven-feet to be socked these days, and little time to do it.  So the beatings will continue until sock production increases.  Warranty void upon purchase.  Not valid with any other offer.  Singlespeeding is inherently dangerous and will cause hemorrhoids.  Don't eat the yellow snow. 

I'm a sure win. Can I preemptively wear them for the ride on Sunday?
You won't get your greasy, sweaty blisters into these Pink bunnies until you've earned them.  Work for it. 

What SS gearing do you recommend?
This kind of technical question starts to get outside of the scope of my own expertise, but I can tell you with pretty good authority that no one gear is the correct gear.  On brokenback, for example, 22X34 is a little tall, but the obvious shortcomings that one gear would produce going down the rollers on Wesley Chapel makes it really not an option.  I believe I once saw Kev 29er climb Simmons gap all the way to the observatory (3,000 feet or so) on 33X19 or some such nonsense, but today he's a wheelchair-confined, hydrocephalic narcolep with very little to live for.  So I can appreciate your question about this given the severity of the consequences, and I'm sorry I don't have a better answer.  Maybe Kev29er himself can chime in here and offer some insight. 

 Is there a prize for the first guy to finish on a fixie? 
I'll refrain from my full soapbox diatribe on this subject and just say that, as a culture of cyclists, we cannot continue to divide and subdivide ourselves as a whole to try to better-define ourselves as individuals.  No one cares that you don't have a freewheel, and you look only slightly more silly than the rest of us.  Not that it's not cool.  Riding fixies is very cool.  But your reward for being the fringe of an already fringe activity is the process itself, which is the entire point for most of us anyway, with an added bonus of the worst chafing you can possibly imagine. 

Can I run a flip flop hub? 
Again, this sort of falls outside of my knowledge of what's acceptable and not acceptable in the societal hinterlands where singlespeed competitions exist.  But I believe the correct answer is yes, you can run it, but if you actually flip it, or flop it, or whatever you do to change the gearing, you're technically shifting, and you'll be disqualified, disbanded, and beaten with a sack of old, Phil Wood hubs.  The only flipping that's permitted is the over-the-bars variety on steep, icy downhills. 

Badass socks! But I'm actually a size 13. Can the hem be adjusted? 
I don't actually know what a hem is, but I think you're in luck.  The model in the photo above is Pappa T, a size 11 if memory serves me, and he's got some room to breathe in there.  So those with big, singlespeeding feet are still invited to try to hurt themselves and reap the rewards, and those with smaller feet will probably need an undersock, if there is such a thing. 

Whatever happens, someone's gettin' paid in pink socks, and that's worth fighting for.  Just remember, the socks aren't actually yours.  No, indeed, just like the jersey and the chapeau, you're the caretaker of the socks for a year, and if you can't make it back next year you'll have to rinse the booze and puss out and mail them back in to Pantani ride HQ in time for the next champion.

Believe in yourself.  But don't blow up, up, up.