Friday, February 3, 2017

The Vacuum

I simply don't understand how this has happened.  At a time in our lives when we need profound, firm, and heroic leadership, when it feels like we're on the cusp of disaster or greatness at the same time, when it seems like, at any moment, the explosions might start and never stop, when the dream we've been chasing for so long is almost within reach and we just need a little clarity, a little guidance to get ourselves to the next step, we've got...a ruthless void of leadership.

I'm talking, of course, about The Pantani Ride.

Il Pantani is February 12th, which somehow has become only 9 days from right now.
Holy shitting big rings.  I think I just cramped.

How does this always happen?  Every year, it's like January is too early to just start wailing on yourself on the steepest gravel climbs in The GC (Greene County, of course) but then, suddenly, it's a week until Pantani day, when you'll be doing just that, and you've done none of that, and it's not good.  Emphasis on wailing.  The kind, though, where you've been throttled, not vice versa.

And yet, out there where you'd imagine there'd be hope, re-assurance, updates on course conditions, positive affirmations about the existence of the event itself, etc....nothing.  I did, however, nominate Marky Mark for Secretary and Dark Overlord of the Posterior, but his confirmation hearings have been delayed for a thorough character assessment.

So in all the places and ways that your lost, weak soul needs soothed, there's a vacuum.

sssshhhhhhhhhh.  You can almost hear it.  Being and Nothingness.

But enough of that.  Let's get into the heart of this before the heart goes tock.

1)  The Pantani Ride is Sunday, February 12th, at 10 AM.  It's really happening.  If you happen to see Justin Beck, who notoriously was left behind one year for arriving at 10:01 AM, please remind him that the ride goes live at 10AM right on the frostbitten nose.  And ask him to pack me some extra tubes.

2)  The Pantani Ride is not an official event with things like a sign up link, insurance policy, registration, support, supportive people, supportive anything of any kind.  It's a group ride, if you can call getting dropped and left on the side of some godforsaken gravel road in the GC being a part of a group.  But it's not organized or official or sponsored by or anything of that nature which might imply an officiating body and person really in charge.  No indeed.  There might be a waiver this year, but that's about it.  Let me be perfectly clear about this: if you fuck up, you'll be left for dead and eaten by  cannibal hill people and their feral pets.  So do your best not to fuck up.

Pretty good chance we'll have a heckler with booze to hand out somewhere they should probably not be doing that, and we'll almost certainly have the dedicated Pantani restroom available:
3)  It's 48 miles or so, the first half of which is lovely, rolling gravel, but done at a hail mary pace the likes of which you've never imagined.  So it sucks.  The 2nd half,  on the other hand, was drawn up by some complete, nihilistic asshole with very strong calves, but it'll be taken at approximately the speed of smell, maybe slower.  Really, you can smell the guy behind you.  That's how slow you're going.  So it sucks too.

4)  The right bike is a subject of hot debate in the shady netherworlds of the dark net where such things get sorted out (Facebook.)  General consensus is that any bike you might choose will be inadequate for at least a lot of the ride.  The good news, is the route has been done freakishly fast on all manner of bike - mountain bike, road bike, cross bike, dedicated gravel bike, etc.  The overall winner, for as long as I can remember, has done so on a hardtail mtb.

5) Weather.  We delayed Il Pantani once upon a time because the weather was cold enough to be scary.  But last year, we rolled in 20 degree frigidity, and it was fine.  So it's on, rain or shine, especially since the current, 9 day, 100% reliable forecast from at this time says 55 and perhaps a shower.  In the universe of Pantani Ride Virginia February weather, that's like a birdie.

6)  Current Conditions - right now, 2/3/17, the whole thing is smoother than a sweaty, steel top tube.  If ever there were a year to try it on a proper road bike, it'd be this year if those conditions hold up.  But it's important to understand that they probably won't hold up.  Around this time, every February, the county gets to work out there grading, digging, dumping gravel, and generally turning a glossy semi-paved road into a monster truck pit, rendering your 23c road tires flacid and worthless.  So make your decision on that stuff about a week from now, not right now.

There are route maps up on ridewithgps, strava, mapmyride, google, etc.  But here's a pretty good one with a queue sheet to print, wrap in aluminum foil, take with you, and hang onto until it's dark, late and you realize you're going to have to eat it for dinner because it's all you have left.

And here's a map that's not so good, but remarkably, it tastes exactly the same.
When you get right down to it, it's like any other ride, where your best chance for survival is to just find some friends, all of you get behind Will Leet or Thomas Bouber or one of those proportionately gifted individuals, draft at all costs, and wait for the fireworks.  

Because the Fireworks are comin'  


A week from Sunday.  

Up, up, up.  

1 comment: