Monday, January 26, 2015


The Pantani looms large out there on the horizon, I reckon that's a hair under 3 weeks from 8 hours ago plus or minus 45 minutes or so.  As such, and in usual fashion, I've received plenty of feedback from the world at large regarding their individual preparations and sacrifices being made leading up to the big day.  
Sacrifices such as putting 40 cc tires and an XT derailleur with a 11-36 on your road bike.  Sam checked in with this one.  By my estimation, this is how most road bikes should be set up, pretty much year round.  But, when it comes to changing the world for the better, I'll accept my small place in the grand scheme, and at least February will be awesome.  

Also, not quite bike-related, but certainly requiring an enormous amount of sacrifice, Ellen checked in with a little teaser of the KOM prize-to-be.   You see, most years Mamma T dials up something warm and comfy for the winner of the KOM, usually pink.  But this year, she's been out of commission with a hurty paw, so Ellen stepped in and took the crochet needles by the proverbial throat, and she produced something that may or may not look like this:
Like a mitten for your genitals.
I just made that up.
Snow, sunglasses, and model sold separately for your convenience.  But if you manage to get yourself over 3 of the 5 KOM summits first, you'll be a step closer to fashion nirvana (also known as Dyke, VA.)  So thanks for this Ellen.

OK, so let's go ahead and get right to all of the noise about the Route, because I know that's what you're here for anyway, and that picture of the teenager in the knit mankini was just bonus.

The route will remain the same this year.  
I know, I lose all credibility and authority here, because I threatened that there'd be a longer, harder route due to Gordon and B-slow blowing the course away in under 3 hours last year.  But for a variety of reasons, which I'll expand upon below, I feel a change is not in order:

1)  I really don't have all that much credibility or authority in the first place.  The Pantani is her own beast these days, I'm just a puppet.  So no harm done.

2)  After 9 years, Charlie only just figured the route out, and it's my belief that - even if he gets dropped on the way up Brokenback - as long as he can just stay on course this year, he'll charge back up to B-slow and Qwadsworth by the finish line and blow their doors off coming back down Allen rd.  Changing the course would set him back another 9 years, and I just can't do that.

3)  Any route change would be wholly and fully B-slow and Qwadsworth's fault.  And the obvious route change would be to hang a left and go back up and over brokenback from the southwest before finally rejoining 810.  Basically that would add a 6th serious climb, and it would be the hardest one, and it would come last.  And if, by folly or circumstance, Qwadsworth flatted or something went wrong mechanically or otherwise going back up Brokenback on climb 6, and C-ham were to catch up to him there in a moment of angry and delirious poor judgement, strangulation could occur.  And no one wants that.

4)  My wife is attempting the Pantani for the first time this year, as I've mentioned before.  And it would be somewhat cruel to alter the route for the worse in this, her first attempt.  Plus, when I DNF this year and she finishes in fine form on the traditional route and starts talking enormous amounts of shit, I'll be able to decry her feat as irrelevant because it's not on the "Big Pantani Course" whatever that may someday be.

5)  It's already hard enough, as evidenced by the photo above which clearly shows Buschi pushing his bike on foot.  Seriously.  I mean, for the masses, in February, The Pantani is a damn hard thing to ride.  I've witnessed good friends bonk badly enough that I feared for their safety.  I've been unable to do it myself.  Just because Qwadsworth and B-slow can whip around the thing in sub 3 doesn't mean much of anything for the rest of us.  There's an enormous amount of non-racing happening at any moment, and The Pantani - though arduous - is no different.  So party pacers, know that you are still welcome...

Unless they do it again.
I'm serious this time, which will actually be next time, but I know that you know what I mean.

Up, up, up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exercise vs. Exorcise explained as a Venn Diagram

exercise: (verb) Physical activity intended to improve strength and fitness.

exorcise:(verb) To rid a person, place or thing of an evil spirit

Demon, I command you: up, up, up.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Pantani Ride Goes live in 1 month, 2 hours ago. Fatbike sold separately.

In exactly one month, you'll be 2 hours into the Pantani Ride, or 2 hours late to the Pantani Ride, or 2 hours deep into your midday bottle of booze, or whatever it is that you'll be doing midday on February 15th.  If it's the Pantani Route that you happen to be on at that moment, that will likely put you somewhere between Fox Mountain and Brokenback, unless you're Qwadsworth or Bryan Lewis and you're, instead, already on your way back down Simmons Gap in an effort to once again ruin the experience for the rest of us.

In any of those scenarios, of course, I applaud your good work.

Without further delay, let's go to the great cesspool of hate mail and viagra spam that is my email inbox where it is, apparently, the middle of fatbike season.

From: Well-intentioned fatbike shredder
Will there be a fatbike cat at The Pantani this year?  

This is not an easy question to answer, and it seems to become less clear every year what exactly constitutes a mountain bike.  Categories by which to race notwithstanding, I've gone ahead and given my firm blessing to the Fatbike hooligans that will soon take over this once-skinny tired sport and make it into some kind of multi-suspended Blutopia (see what I did there?)  Fatbikes are the future, even Chris Cocalis is on board now, and there's no point fighting the inevitable.

So green light, kids.  Run us the fuck over.  It probably won't even hurt.

Aaron Chase Gets LES Fat at Highland from Pivot Cycles on Vimeo.

But here's where I can't get on board with the whole fatbike movement.  As a social group, cyclists - and by that I mean if you mass roadies, mountain bikers, fixsters, singlespeeders, racers, non-racers, freeriders, soulriders, pros, tri-geeks, fatbikers, the 29+ contingent, people who still ride a Specialized, and the elite few people who can do LSD and still race the Giro -  into one big group; we're still not actually all that big, and we're only slightly more popular than, say, motocross bikes, which are already banned from more wild and natural places than they can readily keep track of.  Not that I fear some kind of fatbike-exclusive ban (though don't rule that out...).  My point here is really more about the implicit safety in numbers.  And if we continue to divide and subdivide ourselves as a group in an attempt to better define ourselves as individuals, the pieces of the pie become too small, and we're easier to pick off one at a time from the back.

And in my case, on a fatbike, I'm way, way off the back.

So no, no fatbike category this year.  Feel free to ride your fatbike of course, you just won't be entitled to the minimal, internet based accolades you feel you deserve for inhibiting your ability with a 4.5 inch-tired handicap.  But rest assured you'll probably get some weird looks.  Also, if you do happen to have an actual CAT (feline) that happens to ride a fatbike , by all means, bring him.  That's the sort of display that can really define an event, and I'd be honored.

And as a compensatory effort, though no fatbike category will exist, C-ham has filed a motion for a buffalo category, and that's approved, of course, based upon the obvious merit therein, so feel free to do whatever is happening here.

 So you can do that anyway, whatever that is, which though it's not a fatbike category per se, it's still something, and it has 8 million views, which also supports my previously unstated but firm belief that the internet has simply gotten too big, and it must be stopped.

Next installment, I'll answer all of your route change questions before strokes start to happen and the thing comes off the rails.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Upon consulting the mailbag this week, I have the usual pre-pantani ride chitter-chatter.  What bike should I ride?  What time does it start?  Can you move the date?  Normal stuff.  I won't waste your incredibly busy Tuesday morning timewastage on that sort of thing, because I'm going to do that on Thursday anyway.

However, I will draw your attention to this little gem, which I found in the mailbag this morning, which has become more common that you might think:

From: (Wannabe) Pro Racer
Subject: Pantani Miss
Sorry to report I can't attend the Pantani Ride.  I've got some big goals this year on the bike.  My coach has a pretty strict plan shooting for a late-season peak for SM100 this year, and I also have no sack.  So I'm bowing out, even though I really would rather be there than riding base miles.  

Look, I don't know how to say this nicely, and I'll use an acronym in the future: FYC.
But seriously,


For a variety of reasons, and in a variety of ways, you are making a mistake.

First, you're really not that good.  And I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I'm simply trying to give it to you straight.  I applaud your 10 hour goal for our local hundo, which I cherish myself, and I'm wholly behind you making the most of your time. But you're not pro.  You are paying to ride your bike, not vice versa.  So the whole thing should be working for you, and not the other way around.

Skipping things that you want to do in favor of some training plan a coach you're paying $150/month to bitch at you via email once per week put together doesn't actually make your life better.  This whole coaching business has morphed into a fucking racket, like the Amway of modern recreational bicycle racing.  If you want to buy into their shit, fine, and maybe it's a valid way to spend your money to give you more structure to make your life better.

But I have noticed something.  As human beings in the modern digital age, we seem to have become really prone to this for whatever reason.  We skip today in favor of tomorrow.  Could be the prevalence of online calendaring.  September LOOKS really close.

Don't get me wrong: I understand investment.  And if you actually don't want to do the Pantani Ride, by all means don't.  For God's sake, there would be little worse than forcing that sort of torture upon yourself if you're not in the mode for it.  Blaming your coach for it?  I suppose that's OK.  You are paying him after all.  So if that's the case, then bless you, good luck training, and I'll see you at SM100.

But if you really want to ride Pantani and your coach says no, seriously, Feb 15th, FYC.
Write that down.

Certain life experiences outweigh the disadvantages of consequence. New Years Eve.  Procreation.   Las Vegas.  These are all things worth doing, despite what happens after the deed is done.  And it's not like you're going on a coke binge, or buying a hooker or something.  You're riding your bike at an event with your friends, potentially riding it pretty hard, potentially folding under the early-season weight of it all.  By some rationale, I think dodging your coach's approval for this one is OK.  Your legs might pay for it the next week, and your coach might (only MIGHT) take notice of the marginal drop in power, but you can't buy more heart with some bullshit online training plan.

And fun is absolutely free.

Again, this shit is everywhere.  We mortgage our current state of being on some future self that, purportedly, is an improvement.  We work extremely hard at it.  But the you right here today misses the absent you that has so fully banked on the future, and you seem to have forgotten that - unless you are the really select few (you're not) - riding bikes is not work.  Come back to planet Earth, where the dirt is frozen, the sun sets at 5, and the riding is still pretty damn good.

In a lot of ways, The Pantani Ride is a celebration of that.  Pantani himself isn't really a legend for his achievements - but it's the way he rode that makes him legendary.  Feb 15th is an invitation to absolve yourself of the future tense. All of your commitments to your IRA, to your career, to the marginal gains on your powermeter can take the day off.  As biographer, Matt Rendell put it, PANTANI HAD NO FUTURE TENSE.

"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 comsume us all."  -  Matt Rendell, The Death of Marco Pantani


Up, up, up.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What is the Pantani Ride?

The deep, bothered, very fringe of the internet is where the magic is, and lucky for you, that's exactly where you've arrived.  This also happens to be where all of your questions regarding the upcoming Pantani Ride will be addressed with a maximum of vagueness and a minimum of actual substance, which will be frustrating for both of us, but somehow, we'll all come away from this slightly more content than how we started - which, as a metaphor for the Pantani Ride, I find very strong.

So let's get to it.  For starters, What Is The Pantani Ride?

This year, just like last year, just like most years before that one, I'm pretty much unable to say more, better, or clearer things than what I've said in the past.  Indeed, my best years of writing, riding, and existence on this planet are all well behind me.  But the beauty of the blog world is that you can always go back.  So let's do that:

The Pantani Ride is THIS.

It's also this.
And it's been this, this, this, this, and also this once or twice.  

For but a single person every year (and only one such person since 2011), it is this:

For others, it is really just a whole lot of this:

For the exclusive few, it is this:

And the very first time, it was just two of us, and a lot of this:

So that clears it up, right?

Possibly not.  But assuming you're comfortable with that level of obscurity, you'll be just fine.
If not, and if clicking all of those links, and the links that they link to, and the links beyond that which may have taken you over the very edge of the great flat planet that is internet, and you're still not sure, I'll just say this:

It's a bike ride.
Except for the potentially substantial amount of time when, depending on your tolerance for 25% gravel climbs, it's a bike hike.
And it all starts at 11 AM on Sunday, February 15th from out here at the Rancho Relaxo.
Where is that exactly?  Look, life - this thing we're all doing right now - requires you to find your own way sometimes, and this is one of those times.  But I hope you'll be here.

Coming up next time, I'll see if I can address more than one deep, very bothered, existential question about the fatbike category, or the possibility of a route change, or the current rapidly developing state of fitness that my brother is whipping himself into, or my prediction for an upset this year.

So stay tuned.  Or actually - tune out, go pedal something steep and hurty, and then tune back in.

Keep looking up up up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Conditions atop the mighty fox...immediate consciousness

My bride's ride on the mighty Fox this morning  
"In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV.  You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone.  You're completely in contact with it all.  You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.  That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from the immediate consciousness."

-Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Look, I know you've got questions.  Is the pop snowed in?  Is the route changing this year?  Will there be a fatbike category?  And on and on.  And naturally, like everything in life, I have all the answers.

But while you're at home trying to find a reason to panic, which there are plenty, my wife is out there racking up the hard woman points and preparing to kick your ass.

Which is a fine reason to panic in and of itself.

Details coming on all fronts.  More than you can appreciate in one sitting.  5 weeks and counting.
In the meantime, better find a way to get up, up, up.