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.  


  1. SS: there are steeps unlike anything @ the SM. That said, gear for the SM and walk the worst. I’ve done some of the hills in out there in 34x19 on a 29er (back when I was young and foolish). That said, 34x19 would be miserable and spinny at times. Such is the nature of gravel rides on a Single. I’m clueless on the correlation between 34x19 on a 29er w/ 2.2s and a fatty boom batty SS.

    Good luck to you in all your future endeavors.

  2. is there a promo code to print the map and que sheet? Whedbee :D

  3. The Strava's definitely wacky. Gordo beat me last year, but the Strava says otherwise. Joe and Greg would have beat me if they didn't take wrong turns. I'm planning on coming this year, but this time on my MTB. If I can descend faster on that than on the CX bike I rode last year, I'll give any of these guys hell.

  4. Did a little reconnaissance on Simmons Gap and Wyatt. There's snow up there, and some of the climbs/descents are slick. What's not frozen was squishy, so it'll be an interesting, nay, EPIC climb if we've got frozen and soft gravel conditions. See you in a couple weeks at the start line, suckas!