Thursday, January 28, 2016


Jeremiah Bishop is reportedly coming to the Pantani ride.  Ben King, evidently, has volunteered for beer handup responsibilities.  I read all of this on big blue, so I know that it is 114% true.

I don't think I ever expected Jeremiah to turn up for the Pantani.  Not because he isn't into a disorganized, underground 50-miler with low expectations for signage, support, and so forth, but simply because he was actually, tangibly, financially the victim of the sort of drug-sport that Pantani represents.  I've written a few times about the nature of drugs in cycling and the long-term benefits that an athlete might derive from EPO, and I've sworn to never utter the words Ryder Hesjedal on this blog ever again.  But I'm breaking rank here in order to make a point about The Pantani Ride that I think is relevant: that "Pantani" is sort of a misnomer for what it is we're trying to do out here in a couple weeks.

I don't guess Jeremiah ever met Marco Pantani.  Different eras, for the most part, and different disciplines as well.  I could be wrong about that.  But the culture that Marco was a core member of - EPO and doping in elite professional cycling  - was certainly one that hurt JB.  Indeed, JB's incredible bike handling skills and engine weren't quite enough to get him over the hump from pro mtb racing into pro road cycling in the late 90's, not when the likes of Roland Green, Hesjedal, and a bunch of Canadian dopers were stealing the wins, the money, and the limelight.

It's worth pointing out, I suppose, that JB did manage to win some races against those guys - largely the technical, muddy, West Virginia-sort-of tracks where his handling could give him enough of an edge to actually win.  But on a clean course with a bunch of climbing, for the most part, dope always wins, and for sure guys like Hesjedal, Roland Green, Seamus McGrath took advantage of that, took advantage of guys like JB who weren't willing to cheat, and while JB stayed back in the USA and a part of the mountain biking circuit that we look back upon with much nostalgia now, guys like Hesjedal made the upgrade to Europe, to the road, and most profoundly to the money.
because cheaters like to party too.  
So Jeremiah Bishop coming out for the Pantani ride is a little unexpected.   Ditto that for Ben King, though he probably is not as directly limited by Pantani's bullshit behavior as JB was, he sure knows the type.  He's had to fetch Hesjedal some bottles.  He had to tow that cheating fuck, Ivan Stevic around in the break in Richmond for 4 hours or so back in September.  So handing out beers at the top of brokenback at a ride called "Pantani" is a stretch, I would imagine.  I guess the boredom you can achieve by breaking your fibula will make you do some weird things.

Though it goes without saying that such a role is absolutely vital:

A name is just a name, and I get that.  But sometimes, and for some people, a name actually represents something else.  Like, for example, what if we called it "The Hesjedal Ride"?  Would JB still come?  Would anyone?  Would I get a letter from Ryder's attorney, demanding that I either pay him royalties or change the name?  Would that letter have a return address?  Would it be possible that I could take a shit in an envelope and mail it to that address?  Inconvenient, sure, but I'd be willing to charge everyone attending $1,000 if it meant that it would get Ryder's attention in such a way that I might receive SASE from Ryder Hesjedal that I could defecate in and mail back to him.  And your $1,000 means that you can shit in it too.

At some point, you have to admit that you're just carting around a bad idea, prodding it along even though the usefulness has pretty much expired.  Pantani was a cheating fuck.  I loved his courage, I loved his defiance, I loved the way he stood up to Lance Armstrong, and simply refused to back down, but still, Pantani is no hero.

The Pantani Ride, on the other hand, is a free celebration of our local dirt, early season fitness (or lack thereof), blowing up on 20% inclines, and getting to rub elbows with some local guys that happen to have once been cheated out of an entire lifestyle.   When Shawn and I first started this thing, it was just the two of us, and Pantani had been dead for only a year, and I don't think we ever considered that his iniquities had actually affected people that we knew.  Greene County is a long, long ride from Italy.  But not too far, it turns out.

Continuing to call what we're doing out here "Pantani" is starting to feel a little bit like Weekend at Bernie's, where we are just sort of propping up this dead idea of Pantani and carting him around in a way that isn't accurate (or healthy.)  So I think this might be the last year we call it that.  Pantani 11 will be the last Pantani.  Not sure what we'll call it next year, but it'll be year 12, so it'll have to be Whatever12.  Not Whatever12, specifically, but you know what I mean.  I just can't watch the future of the sport - talented kids like Charlie Ormsby or that newly minted pro Bryan Lewis - trudge up brokenback if it's in Pantani's name.

So that's about that, then.  Oh, right, the weather.  Whole bunch of snow still out there atop the pop as of today, but it'll be 60 degrees and sunny all weekend so that stuff is on limited time.  How limited?  Like any misnomer, you just never know how long a thing will hang around.

Only way to find out is to keep moving forward, keep looking up, up, up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

If Trump rode Pantani

"Pantani is so popular, I could stand in the middle of brokenback mountain road and literally shoot someone, and you people would still insist on riding up it."  
up, up, up there.
"I'm calling for a total and complete shutdown of people going up brokenback until we can get a handle on just what the hell is going on up there."

"There are sections out there, radical sections, and the Police in greene county are afraid for their own lives to go up there because sections of brokenback are so radicalized and steep."

"Look at that face!  Would anyone really ride up that?  Can you imagine that as the face of our next spring classic?"  

"Gordon Wadsworth.  Sadly, he's no longer a 10.  You can see that there's blood coming out of his eyes.  Blood coming out of his...wherever."  

"It's like in golf.  A lot of people - and I don't want this to sound trivial - but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters.  Very unattractive.  You see these great riders with these really huge wheels, because they just can't ride downhill anymore.  And i hate that.  I'm a traditionalist, and I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, really, but I'm a traditionalist."

"We just got 30 inches of snow out on top of the pop.  Biggest snow dump in years.  Is our country still wasting money on this global warming hoax?"  

"When Richmond sends it's people to the Pantani ride, they're not sending their best.  They're sending people who have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems.  They're bringing drugs.  They're bringing addiction.  They're bringing crimes, rapists, and some, I assume, are good people, but most of them aren't."


Monday, January 18, 2016


First, this:
Return of the MAC?  Or Still the MAC.  You decide.  

Moving on, briefly, from my amateur photoshopping skills (but never for long), let's look at the weather.

Forecast for Friday through the weekend says 20" of snow via a Nor'Easter that is neither hitting the north nor is it actually occurring on Easter.  But directionally speaking, and by character, it's packing enough wallop to bury Pantani in snow up to his very ears.  Like The Stelvio.  Like addiction.  But better to get that out of the way now, I suppose, than later.

Also a forecast, also Pantani relevant, also disheartening - Quadsworth ain't coming.
Sad but True.  He got called up from the minors to race legit pro level shit at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo out in AZ that very same day.  He's the 5th man on a 5-man pro team racing for Pivot Cycles. Never mind, for a moment, what kind of universe we live in where Quadsworth is the #5 man, and an alternate at that.  But good for him and good for Pivot to turn the 'stache loose in the desert and see what happens.

My advice in that scenario?  Don't pass.  That's how Kobe made it big.  Just keep coming through hot, keep the baton tucked in your shorts, and tell those bitches to sit back and drink some water - it gets hot in the desert.  You'll be big time in no time.

What does that do for the Pantani dynamic, and for that matter, Calf vs. Quad?  Well, it's a different race without Gordon, of course.  But is he justified/required to send a proxy to race on his behalf?  And if Will trounces said proxy, will there always be an asterisk in the trophy case?  These are all questions that we in the sporting press are not yet prepared to address, as the shock of the whole thing is still sort of sinking in.

Whatever it may be, and whatever lurks around the corner - be it Pantani, Arizona, or just your run of the mill January malaise, I say get out and get after it while the gettin' is still good.

Up, up, up.

Monday, January 11, 2016


There can only be one wearer of the Maillot Pistachio.  Like Aaron Burr vs Alexander Hamilton.  Tyson vs Bowe.  Han Solo vs Grito.  One man walks away the winner and the other man hangs his head, dispatched, and drunk on the pain of it.

So it is 1 month from tomorrow, Feb 13th, Calf vs Quad will come to pass.  Stereotypes come in all shapes and sizes, and in this case those shapes and sizes are a slightly less than malnourished mountain biker - a gifted climber by nature who also enjoys dieting vs. a Cat 2 Roadie sprinter who'd make short work of that little squirt on anything remotely flat or paved.  But this ain't that.  This is Pantani 11, and the stakes, as always, are downright low.  And steep.  Even Mr. Calf has admitted he's the underdog by a not insignificant long shot.  But anyway, who will come away from this thing with the Jersey?  And, for that matter, can Will Leet even fit in that Jersey?

Let's have a closer look at these two gentlemen racers in an apples to apples comparison, whatever that is.

The Quad
Height: 5'7"
Weight: Neglible
Reach: Also negligible, but he likes a 150mm stem for whatever reason.
Discipline: Mountain.  Like, the tall, steep kind.  Gears not required.

The Calf
Height: 6'2"
Reach: 37.5"
Weight: 2 hundge?  Probably less, but I like round numbers.
Discipline: Road.  Specifically, a hard, flat, sprint finish.  1,000 watts.  Your mom.

Here's the thing about apples to apples comparisons.  If you're the superior apple, you don't have all that much to worry about.  Show up, look shiny, flash your gratuitous quads a time or two for the ladies/cameras, and boom, you shoot off the start line like a rocketship (with a mustache) and never look back.  But when you're the inferior apple, the key is basically this: don't be an apple at all.  Show up to an apples to apples comparison, but come armed, making it more like an apple to AK comparison, and there you go.  If nothing else, the apple is confused, that sassy little shit.

Then you seize the moment.

A list of things you might try to dethrone the mostly undisputed Pantani Champ:

1) Bribe an official.  It always works until it doesn't.  The chance that Saturday the 13th will somehow be the moment it doesn't work is actually really low.  So, cash in then.

2) Aerobars.

3) Alliances.  Look, you're local, Calf-Man.  Qwadsworth lives in like Texas or something these days.  Make yourself some friends in low places that will block, take a pull, bully for, pass you their last bottle, and otherwise aid and abet your bid for an upset victory.  See also, Tom Bouber.

4) Prepare to do the morally unsavory.  Whatever it takes.  Did I say the word cheat?  No.  Ok, yes, I did.  But that's only because Pantani would either win that shit or die trying and who are you really trying to impress anyway?  Yourself?  I think not.  When Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, the story goes that Hamilton actually outdrew him, but he shot in the air on purpose out of some bizarre sense of honor.  And Burr put him in the ground.  So put him into the gutter and get on with it.

5) Practice running up 20% grades with your bike.  Stairs will also work for this.  So will the Stairmaster at the gym, but be advised you'll get some funny looks from the New Year's Resolution crowd.  This is a unique skillset, of course requiring massive cardiovascular ability, but also technique.  It's not easy to not bang your left pedal against your right kneecap repeatedly, especially at 200 beats/minute with the edges of your vision starting to fold in.  So practice is key here.  In your favor,  one muscle group that this technique obliges: calves.  I think this is where you make your move.

6) There is, of course, that tiny detail that Quadsworth isn't actually the reigning Pantani Champ anyway.  That's Chaz Michaels.  So technically, if you can distract Quad long enough and keep his focus on you, then Chaz might have a chance to slip up the road when the going gets steep and Quadsworth stops to take a dump.  And you will have effectively de-throned Quadsworth even though you're not actually the champ yourself.  That's still a win in my book, which is written in Italian and always evolving.

Now, for our readers at home, I know you're wondering "what does any of this have to do with me?"  The answer?  Everything.  You and I both know you haven't trained for this shit yet, and the fact that it's 1 month out pretty much guarantees you a spot with me at the very back of the pain train.  Bravo.  But these tried-and-true techniques are just as valuable to you as they are to Will Leet.  Which is to say, probably not at all, but look, there's no sense in crying over spilled milk here.  You didn't train, and that's ok, unless you NEVER train, and you always show up sort of drunk and inept, and this is just another example of self-destructive behavior that you can't seem to shake, in which case, that's not worth crying about either.

Is this the very definition of white privilege: trudging up Brokenback in a sublime amount of pain with a $5,000 mountain bike but without the legs to actually pedal it, swearing you're going to stop doing this to yourself but you never actually do.

Maybe it's time to cat up, up, up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


These are divisive times, my friends.  The POTUS speech yesterday might be the thing that - in my lifetime - has most evenly divided rooms full of smart people into two very separate groups, who see this particular issue the opposite way, with a clear line drawn down the middle - and they are now undergoing the process of learning to really hate each other.  This is not good.

I've written on this blog multiple times about the nature of divisiveness and our American tendency to divide and subdivide and sub-sub-divide in an effort to define ourselves as individuals.  Even as we're increasingly dependent on each other as a collective group (the connection economy as defined by the power of this here internet-thingy) we seem to be putting up bigger and firmer walls against those who don't see the world like us.  For example, Cyclocross.  Also for example, Triathletes, but they don't count.  See what I mean?

I'm in the early stages of trying to plan a trip to ride in SSUSA this year.  It's in August, in PA, a singlespeed-only "race" you might call it if you observed it from really, extremely far away.  Up close, it's not what you'd think of as a "race" or "exclusive" in any way, but then again gears are not permitted.  What else would you call it then?

The temptation is there, as it has always been, to cut yourself, de-friend those who think about things the other way.  And now, conveniently, doing so is a click away.  I'd like to see the Facebook numbers on this phenomenon and compare them to the average 7th grade cafeteria.  My suspicion is that the number of friends lost on Facebook this week, per capita, is about 10 times worse than the questionable emotional patterns of a bunch of 7th graders.   Facebook has that data, of course, but it's embarrassing, and they ain't sayin.

I say, don't do this.  Keep the dialogue and the trails open with as many other user groups as you can.  It's when they can carve us out into small enough groups that they'll finally close in for the kill.

And also, think of all you might miss.  For example, the things we can all agree upon: #hippopotopotus.

And, of course, VOTE.  Which is the only voice you have that actually counts, and always has been.

One thing I've learned from racing: always, always keep the process moving forward and your eyes looking up, up, up.