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.
Reach: Also negligible, but he likes a 150mm stem for whatever reason.
Discipline: Mountain. Like, the tall, steep kind. Gears not required.
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.
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.