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.