Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ten Day Forecast

Well, the Ten-Day Forecast - which now almost includes the Pantani Ride - is in.

You can find that here, I think.  Although if you're reading this tomorrow, that's actually yesterday's forecast. Or if you've gone back in time to read it yesterday, it's tomorrow's.   No, wait, come to think of it, I think that puppy will dynamically update (whatever that means.)  So if you read it in, say, July 31, 2017 it's the 10 day forecast for the next week and a half in August of that same year, assuming we haven't bombed ourselves off the planet by that time, which is 50/50 at best.

My point here:  don't read that shit.  They don't know.

But if you're really curious because you're trying to make a tire selection for The Pantani Ride from here -10 days out - or maybe you just love the drama, then I'll allow Kev29er to chime with his salacious rumors:

From Kev29er:
I hear talk of blizzards on Pantani weekend.
 There was some crazy future-casting image on facebook...maybe bullshit, but someone said it married up w/ the almanac...also maybe bullshit, but accuweather long term IS calling for snow on friday-saturday.
 Maybe it could be one for the books. Sounds epic.

Let me explain something about the 10-day forecast.  It's a lot like 10-day foreplay.  It pretty much has no bearing whatsoever on action 10 days from now.  Show me a forecast for the next 20 minutes, and I'll buy into the fact that you might score, or we might have a blizzard.  But 10 days out?  Come on.  No one has that kind of stamina.

Well, maybe not no one.  Captain America did check in with the local snowfall totals from Superduperstorm Leon on Jan 28th:

From: Captain America
About an inch. It is crazy weather around here. Ready for spring r u? Unfortunately, I won't be making the Pantani this year due to duty at the school over at Snowshoe, but be assured that I will be training over there. The fears that others might have had about me on Simmons Gap can rest in peace for another year.

Now THIS is news worthy of your attention.  Namely because:
1)  There's not so much snow out there atop the pop that the next 3 days of fine wine and sunshine won't melt the whole thing out, thus resetting the ruler to 0".
2)  You don't have to worry about the Captain running you over while you're climbing up Simmons when he's already on his way down it.  That's humiliating and debilitating, and now, luckily, out of the question.

And if you're really worried about the weather, worry less.  We've got Jim Cantore on our side, after all:

The badassery of Cantore no-look kneeing someone in the nuts aside for a just monent, there is something familiar about him that I can't place.  The toughness?  The resolve?  The ears?
I can't forecast the weather, but I can spot long lost brothers when I see them.
Mother nature, you are officially on notice:

You mess with Pantani, and Jim Cantore will fuck you up up up.

Monday, January 27, 2014

That's what happens when you try me with a sorry ass receiver like Crabtree.

That's the result you gonna get:
Oh to have speed like Quadsworth.  The shit that I would talk...
Let's get into it, why don't we.  It's Monday, 13 days out from Pantani go-day.  And early season fitness is, as always, a strange bird.  Typically, whoever is standing atop the box at races like Snotcycle and the recent CAMBC RTF TT Circumnavigation (an acronym worthy of some Plaid) is likely to be at the front on Pantani day.  
Photo: FOOF champ!
My prediction: at the front and extremely well-dressed.
Later in the year?  It's hard to say.  But be advised, dudes are fast in the winter these days.  

The rest of us, not so much.  Proper training rides are always a little hit or miss when the mercury dips below 10, and some things are just hard to replicate on a trainer.  But the stalwarts are out there anyway.  And it's those dudes - the ones getting after it in a proper man vs. nature format - that really tend to shine when it's go time.  
Unless we start early and leave them in the porta-john.  Not cool.  

Also proper early season activity: bike fitting.  In particular, dial in your q-factor.  In the snow.  Good times.  

What else?  What else?
Well, still no word from The Manimal about the whereabouts of our precious KOM chapeau.  In fact, the whereabouts of The Manimal himself are largely unknown.  Last time I saw him, he was puking his very soul out in the tent next to me at the Giro, and though he was in the care of the finest Giro-nurse a man could hope for, perhaps he didn't actually pull through.  If that's the case, I hope the KOM chapeau was top-of-the-list when they read off his palmares at his funeral, and that she made it into his casket.

I'll sure miss riding with him, which for me technically meant watching him start and then sometimes finishing in time to see him up on the podium.  Mostly just watching him start though.

But!  We won't have to miss the Chapeau.  There's a newer, better prize to be awarded to the KOM this year, and it's Giro pink for style points.

Chapeau, fit for a king.
Fox Mountain KOM: 1 point
Blackwell's hollow KOM: 1 point
Mission Home KOM: 1 point
Simmon's Gap KOM: 1 point
Brokenback KOM: 1 point

No points for second place.
So you might not have big mountain fitness just yet, but if you're dashing enough just to get over mission home in first place, you might very well limp yourself to the finish in a shamble of snot and drool and don yourself some pink victory.

Speaking of big mountain, speculations have been rolling in, around, and back and forth regarding the condition of The Lollipop and what it will be like on race day.  Rest assured: it's a complete mess right now.  And with a hard freeze settling in tonight and lasting through, oh I don't know, next Tuesday or so, chances of it really being rideable are pretty minimal.
Of course, that doesn't mean we're not going up it.

Fatbike: check.
Crampons: Check.
Fitness:  ...

That pink hat just keeps looking better.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwing in the towel already

The gun for the Pantani ride goes off in exactly 17 days.  In my world of cram-training before an event, that's an eternity.  But already, some people are throwing in the towel.  Maybe it's the cold.  Maybe it's the harsh reality of riding the trainer.  Maybe it's the micro-tearing in your creamy hamstrings that you can't seem to stretch your way out of (you can't, I've been told.)
Though you can use better posture when you're fixing your chain, at night, in the freezing cold, while wearing shorts.  
Heal up, Kev29er.

Even the Godfather of Montebello himself pulled the plug already, citing poor winter fitness, opting instead to drive to the tippy-top of the pop and heckle and offer beer handups. Interesting side note, if you're ever feeling your age and looking for a reason to not ride, The Godfather sent me this:

"It's not your fault, you can't throw the bottle like a football."

No idea who to credit for that creation, and if there's one thing in this world that I don't comprehend, it's road racing in Florida.  But that is absolutely brilliant.

On the other hand, it would seem some folks have opted for the opposite end of the training spectrum, where you make sacrifices, endure the pain, push through the cold, and maybe even have yourself a stravagasm for a few days before someone takes it back.

Not to draw undue attention to this fella' if he wants to ghost into the breakaway without anyone really knowing he's a threat, but that's some pretty serious wattage.  So when the wedge gets driven going up Fox Mountain this year, I anticipate someone will need to tell me about it.  Because I'll be way too far back in the trunk to see it.  Maybe take a picture.

More to come soon, hopefully regarding the whereabouts of our beloved, cherished KOM Chapeau, last seen at Pantani 2012.  Now paging Zach "The Manimal" Morrey to the red courtesy phone for questioning.

Up, up, up.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's 3 weeks until the Pantani Ride; do you know where your legs are?

As you probably know, if a thing is not on big blue, it doesn't exist.  So in a very figurative sense, shit just got real.

Of course, Pantani X was pretty real before that too.  In fact, it was real enough that plenty of folks were out doing recon over the weekend, gauging the course conditions, evaluating proper gearing, and planning their amphetamine doses for the most tactically advantageous moments.  All solid ideas.

A bit concerning, sometime yesterday morning Wilson from the RIC checked in with the following:
"About to SS some Pantani Pre- Ride. Gordon Kevin Dave Shawn. Is the 34-19 on 29x1.75 too small? I'll report back."

So far, no report.  And I saw some 1.75-ish tracks heading towards Simmons Gap at the far side of Fox Mountain yesterday, but none actually heading back this way.  So it's possible that the answer is actually no, 34-19 is not adequate, and Wilson is still out there.

Similarly, Scotty checked in with the following "I rode the Simmons Gap climb yesterday, and it's sloppy in places and snowy/icy in places."

Soon after that, Scotty no-showed for our group gravel ride at noon.  So maybe he's with Wilson somewhere out there, spooning for warmth, waiting for sunrise.
(Warm spooning, not pokey spooning.  There's a difference, and shame on you for judging because you weren't there and you don't know how cold it got.)

Anyway, it's been done before.  
Onward, the forecast is a little ominous this week.  Looks like the top of the pop might get 4 or 5 white, fluffy inches tomorrow (insert gratuitous Scotty/Wilson spooning joke here).  And it's gonna be cold.  So course recon might have to take a back seat this week in favor of, say, fixing the frozen pipes in your basement.  But relax.  Think of it as tapering, and we've got 3 weeks for the weather to take a turn for the warm, and these things always seem to work out in the end anyway.

Or they don't, and you've got to pokey-spoon with some guy you barely know just to stay alive.
Either way is a good story, and that's what matters in the end.

Also, as I watch the declarations of intent (note I don't call them registrants) roll in over on big blue, I'm struck once again by the level of real, pro-level firepower signing up to take part in this largely disorganized non-event.  Pantani X has the potential to be a big one, and a big one usually equates to a fast one.  So I'll throw this out there:  if the 3 hour mark is broken, we'll change the course for next year.

Why?  Well,  I'll answer that with a little description of Henri Desgrange, co-founder of the Tour de France from Road to Valor:

Desgrange famously said that his ideal Tour would be so herculean that only one racer would manage to finish it.  After the success of the first Tours, he tinkered with the race route constantly, making each year's race seem more arduous than the last.  In 1910, the Tour entered the high mountain ranges of the Pyrenees for the first time.  The course was so challenging that the riders nearly revolted.  A French racer named Octavio Lapize, who had won various stages in 1909, was forced to get off of his bike  several times because the weather conditions were so dreadful and the road gradient so steep.  As race officials watched from the stage finish line at the top of the Aubisque, Lapize screamed at them "Murderers!"
-"Road to Valor", Aili and Andres McConnon

"Herculean".  Use it in a sentence today.  Be cool.

Up, up, up.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pantani X FAQ, Q&A, and other acronyms.

30 Days until The Pantani Ride goes live.  If you're a real superhePro, I imagine that's about 27 rides from now. So relax, you've got time.

But if you're like me and that really means you've got about 6 rides to shape up before all hell breaks loose, then let's get to the FAQ and cover just what The Pantani Ride is all about before the panic can even set in, shall we?

First, allow me to link you to a few FAQ's from years past.  That would be:
and even over here.
Chances are pretty good that whatever you're wondering about has either been answered before, or it just doesn't have an answer.

All that aside, the mailbag is brimming with virtual mail the likes of which I've never seen.  It would seem the kids these days are into things that I just don't understand.  GPS data.  Watts.  Heatmaps.  Fatbikes. The bike world, it would seem, has made a serious jump forward whilst I was dallying about, changing diapers, and eating honey stinger waffles in my basement (which I happen to be doing right now.)  Nonetheless, I'm committed to you, the kids, to make it back to the front, if for no other reason than to see the fireworks start at the bottom of Simmons Gap, then fade away.

So let's go in.  To the Mailbag for the annual Pantani Ride X Q&A:

1)  Hey there math major, this is year number 9.  Pantani died in 2004, God rest his soul.  You didn't make it back from Colorado for the first ride until Valentine's day, 2006.

Though not a question, I thought we'd lead off with this one because it appears to actually be correct.  This will be 9 years of Pantani Ride riding, suffering, and remembrance.  Thanks for bursting my bubble, you jackass.  But we're calling it Pantani X anyway, as we'll do next year, and quite possibly the year after that.  Also, I hope you double flat on a live skunk.

2)  What sort of gearing would be adequate to ride the Pantani loop on my Singlespeed Fatbike?
OK, so, this has been in my inbox for a few months.  And I didn't know the answer when it arrived.  But since I've been spending a fair amount of time lately on a Trek Rig, and I recognize that Fatbikes are the very future and soul of hardcore mountain biking, and since I really don't have anything to do anyway; I committed myself to figure this out.  For months, I've been grinding out some steep climbs on the Rig, trying to figure out what's possible if one has drumsticks like mine vs. drumsticks like Quadsworth's.
Photo: Quad off.
marginal differences in power here.
Also, I spent an inordinate amount of time on Shawn's Fatbike this week.  4" tires, lots of love, and a penchant for the sort of steep terrain that most bikes back away from.
Surly:  always innovating for new terrain.  
So, after considerable research, here's your answer:  I have absolutely no idea.  The Fatbike is an amazing thing.  Though I'm still not really sure if it's a mountain bike, a bar bike, the spawn of the devil, or something else altogether.  Bender keeps growling at it when he has to walk by it, so there's definitely something different going on there.  But I can offer you this newfound fatbike wisdom:

a)  if you're going to try to hump a SingleSpeed Fatbike around The Pantani Loop, you should simple strap a barf bag onto your handlebars.  Because reverse-eating your breakfast of champions onto your polished, white race shoes gets a little tiresome after the 3rd or 4th time you do it.  
b)  I should leave all future SS gearing questions, fatbike or not, to the immense Singlespeed Wisdom of Kev29er, whom I hope will chime in here with some of that, as he has in years past.  This is officially not my territory.
c)  Bless your heart for trying.  Take your phone.

3)  When does the ride start?  10 or 11?  I see both on blog posts from the past.  
That's a reasonable point.  This has sort of gone back and forth for some time.  This year, we'll roll right on the pointy second of 11 AM, with or without you.  So get there at 10, pump up your tires, have yourself a cocktail of some kind, and keep convincing yourself that you really want to do this until the gun goes off and you don't have a choice anymore.  

4)  How long does it take?  I've got a thing back in Richmond at 3:30.  
Yeah, you're not making that.  I believe our winner last year threw down a course record of something roundabout 3:16.  That's smoking fast (which is to say, he probably doesn't smoke) and probably not a time accessible to the average human masochist.  Also, consider that for the next few hours after an effort like that, you'll probably be incapable of driving your carcass much of anywhere but to the porta-potty and back.  So, if you're coming, I would make arrangements to not be in Richmond at 3:30 PM, and also pack some extra-soft, triple-ply toilet paper.

5)  OK, so I checked out Strava.  It appears to have about 15 different routes taken which represent last year's Pantani Ride.  Does it matter which one I take?
So, you can have a gander at that here.  And let me explain everything you need to know about Strava: it doesn't make any sense.
It does, however, matter which route you take, although let's be honest - it doesn't matter that much.  Look, we're just going for a ride here.  But if you do want to stand up on the proverbial podium and dip you big, fat mitts into the jackpot of Pantani Ride loot, then following the course is a prerequisite.  And it goes a little something like this:
Or here:
Or here:

6)  Will there be flower-baring Podium Girls to smooch me when I finish?
Great question.  Yes.  Hottest chicks you've ever seen.

7)  What do I win if I win?  
 We're talking about the universally-coveted winner's Maillot Pistachio, the KOM Chapeau (which has been alarmingly missing in action for about 2 years), some Metro-supplied dad-booze of his own choosing for the first Dad to finish and then leave to take care of his kids, and the most amazing pair of Giro-pink socks you've ever stuffed your swollen, singlespeeding, bleeding stumps into.

All of which are American Dreams.
All of which are American Dreams.
All of WHICH are American Dreams.  

8)  Is there a cash payout for pros?
At this time, I'm unable to confirm.  The Pantani Ride financial plan for 2013 was to make C-Ham gain about 300 pounds, enter him into The Biggest Loser, and bet on him in Vegas to take the W.  And though he is in his current state absolutely enormous; his application to The Biggest Loser has been heretofore rejected with some amount of disdain.  Consequently, The Pantani Ride coffers do not have the necessary reserves to pay you in the cold, hard cash that you so crave and deserve.  But keep after it - above all else, race mountain bikes for the money - and I'm certain you'll be rich soon enough.  

9) I'm not sure I understand...why exactly are we riding steep gravel to celebrate the life of a doping roadie?
As for the matter of saluting a doper, this is a fair question and something I've pondered quite a lot.  For certain, Pantani was no saint.  I guess all I can really say is this: the more I learn about Lance Armstrong, the more I like Pantani.  See here.

So thanks for that, Lance.  I guess it really WASN'T about the bike.
As for why the route is gravel, it's mostly about pitch.  The United States has a pretty appalling lack of paved roads with 30% inclines.  Gravel, though?  We're overstock.  

10)  What bike should I ride?  Road bike, Cross bike, or mountain bike?
"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. "  - Gordon Quadsworth, Professional Racer and Radmaker

11)  Who's your pick for the win?
Alas, it's still January.  I'm all about betting big and betting young, but this is pretty far in advance to properly gauge the size and talent of the field.  Nonetheless, I'm prepared and ready to do so, if only because with one name I get 3 horses, and it's hard to find better odds than that.
I'll take Wittwer.  Any of them.  Giddyup.

12)  Will there be an interview?
An interesting proposal.  In years past, Oprah or I have always conducted an interview with the winner from the prior year to assess his overall fitness, motivation, and cup size.  This year, though, I think this might not be necessary since we're talking about a repeat champion who also has his own blog.  So why don't you surf on over there, read your heart out, and if there's anything you still want to know but are too afraid to ask him, let me know and I'll ask him for you.  Then I'll write you a phony response.

13)  What's the deal with Brokeback mountain?  I thought that was a Heath Ledger film.  
That's BrokeNback, Mr. Hollywood.  And I'll see your movie reference, and I'll raise you another one by way of an explanation.
If The Pantani Ride were "Full Metal Jacket" (which thank God it's not) then Brokenback would most definitely be the sniper scene.  Take a look around at the start of the thing.  Not everyone you see will be there at the top.

Photo: Sat. Gravel ride. Didnt see much gravel.

14)  What kind of training should I be doing?
Again, already  However, I'll add that Mr. Mark Smith has been championing a Wednesday night MTB crit that meets at Ohill at 6 PM every week.  The course is "short, fast, and very flat."  So that's not exactly a dress rehearsal for The Pantani Ride, but I think it could at least get you in the right mindset, so why not.

15) Can I get the GPX file and cue sheet?
You can and you should.  Voila:

That is 100% of the knowledge that I have, which represents 95% more than I knew about what the kids are doing these days before I started this project.  So rest assured that all bases are covered, and if they're not, then they're probably vital and we're going to have a serious problem.  

Much to follow in the coming weeks, I imagine, so stay tuned.

Up, up, up.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pantani X (with a possible measuring variance of plus or minus 1 year.)

Pantani X.  Let's get busy.

By X, I mean the Roman X (that's 10 for you Athenians) not some kind of single-X, late night Cinemax experience.  But presumably, we'll have that too:
Metro: in.
Hard to think that it was 10 years ago this February that Shawn and I trudged up Simmons Gap in remembrance of Marco Pantani, then decided to do it again the next year and invite all of our equally misguided friends.  And really, that might have only been 9 years ago.  I tend to lose track because we've done it every year since.  So, officially, this is "Pantani X with a possible measuring variance of plus or minus 1 year."  Pantani X for short.

So what exactly is The Pantani Ride?  Like most things Pantani Ride, I'm largely unable to say more or better things about it than what I've already said, so I'll have to link you to a few explanations from times gone by and hope that will suffice.  

That would be:
and even Here.

You'll notice, if you click-read-repeat, that those links actually link to other marginally explanatory links, which in turn link to facebook, other blogs, strava, each other, a photograph of Todd humping The Rooster at the base of Brokenback mountain circa 2009, and possibly eventually right back here.  So the information you may or may not seek is out there, you've just got to be flexible.  

To be perfectly non-concise, this year we'll be doing exactly what we did then, just on February 9th, 2014 at 11 AM.  
And with more syrup.
So mark your calendars.

If all of that still doesn't quite do it for you, I suppose you might think of The Pantani Ride as the sort of ride that would exist if The Superbowl Ride and Monster Cross (on closely adjacent weekends, mind you) met up one torrid February night, had a love child, and that child was raised by wolves.

fast, bald wolves
I'll get an FAQ up again in the coming days, so check back in if you're still in the dark.  The kids already have all kinds of questions in the queue about strava segments, GPS file details, fatbike accommodations, and the like, most of which I know very little about.  So please let me know if something is more unclear than you reckon it should be. and I'll do my very best to murky the waters even further.

Other than that, consider yourself notified, and a vital part of the grapevine that spreads the word about non-events like this to the sort of rapscallions that might appreciate it.  5 weeks from yesterday, get here.  

Do work, son.

Up, up, up.