InSufferableFest

Not every overly challenging ride involves climbing 10,000 ft in the space of 10 miles, with a sticking brake and a wicked case of the crabs.

Holding on for dear life in a pack in order to move up the boards in Strava drive some. I like beer. I ride on the rivets nowadays in order to get to the liquor store before it closes. I can make up ground pretty quickly through traffic when the spirit and the specials at The Bottle King move me. It is only truly a sufferfest if the doors close right in front of me. I can be inconsolable during these moments.

Some rides are so sorry that midway through you just turn the computer off. Sometimes it’s just better to forget.

I ride with every level of rider. A’s to C’s with varying results. On terrain better suited to me I can suck wheels, give horrible pulls and eventually get shot out the back. No worse feeling than to know that 21mph will only allow you access to no-mans-land. Too fast for the B’s and too slow for the A’s. No-Man’s-Land sucks. You went too deep, too early and your date left with the captain of the chess club. Yeah it feels that bad.

So the last group ride I was on involved all levels. I was the sweeper (aka Waste Management). If I drifted back to see you, I wasn’t inquiring about your passion for Dutch porn, I was keeping you company and providing a wheel to suck. Take that wheel in deep. I love to see riders bust their asses to keep pace or at least not fall off into the abyss. So long as I see the effort, I can table my own desires. The problem lies when C-Rida (no relation to Flo-Rida) gets dropped by the C’s. A new class now exists on the road. This new species has yet to be categorized. I stay with him. I choose to use the rollers as a pump track. Absolutely no aggression in my pedal stroke. Shit! No pedal stroke. I turned around to see that I had dropped him without a stroke. I wish I were bragging. This ride had started out wonderfully on the flats, disintegrated on the hills and become insufferable on the descents. I turned the Garmin off. I deleted about 40 miles with a fair amount of climbing with it. At that point the stats did not matter, only the agony and the knowledge of the fact that to get home, there was still more agony to be had.

In the end the ride was done (Yogi Berra influenced). I hope that the rider builds on the fitness that was gained and comes to the next gunfight with at the very least a butter knife.

Treat ‘em Right

If your local grocer is fresh out of liquid nitrogen, there’s no better way to ice your balls post ride. Your heart rate decreases fairly rapidly if you aren’t one that washes down a rack of ribs with a pint of lard and your muscles bounce back from fatigue in hours. Your balls–or Middle Earth for you sci-fi lovers–take days before they ready to be subjected to carrying the load of your body while contained in a lycra casing. You want terrorists to reveal secrets? Have them don a pair of bib shorts with no chamois cream and let them ride for a couple of hours. Fuck That! I know I’d squeal before the first mile.

Chamois Butt’r with menthol is my go-to choice during the summer. It feels like 100′s of black people blowing Newport smoke on my genitals. Its true. I don’t think the company can use that as a testimonial. Change it up by referencing people of other nationalities as well. Yeah…That would work.

One tube per season should do you. Be liberal, yet conservative. Remember, Middle-Earth is at stake.

10610724_10153073803063761_7520952093370944775_n

Still The Best Medicine

I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little better than shit, but not by much. I had a ride to co-lead. It’s a job. I’m back to lying on my back for cash. Brings me back to my old messenger days. Much like a prostitute, I put on my tightest clothes and went out to make money for daddy. In return I believe daddy gave me 40%, told me I was his top bitch and promised to only put his Sidi’s in my ass on Tuesday’s.

My ride was 45-50 miles to someplace in Jersey. Doesn’t matter because I didn’t want to go anyway. At 5:00am I heard rain and rejoiced that the ride might be cancelled. At 6:00 the rain stopped. At 7:00 I began swearing and lubing up my thighs. Friction is real. I loaded up my gear, coughed up some phlegm and headed to the start of the ride. North Jersey ain’t Iowa. You can’t go too far without climbing. I sucked it up and upshifted the rise going into Eagle Rock. My legs were defiant in their refusal to work. My head agreed. My heart is usually the matriarch of any effort, regardless of height of climb or speed of descent. The heart like grandma gets shit done. Not today. I coughed up more phlegm and kept turning the pedals. The weather threatened to rain again. I was not happy. I figured that I’d ridden feeling worse. Cold medicines only mask the symptoms. If I didn’t die in the saddle, the mere action of generating energy would begin to cure and not mask my cold. The weather cooperated by allowing me to sweat and for my heart to reconsider it’s decision to sit this one out. 30 miles in I felt the pangs of the cold still very much present. I upshifted to increase my cadence. Concentrate on the pedal stroke as opposed to my lungs being a housing tenement for phlegm. Expel more phlegm. All of that heavy breathing continued to bring the gross stuff out of my lungs. Beats an expectorant any day.

pre-ride

Cycling has always been a cure-all for me. Be the journey from one state to another, through the woods or merely around the block. It not only clears the lungs, but the mind. Problems tend to get left behind. They’re always waiting for me when I get back, but for a few hours the only issue worth confronting involve forward motion, avoiding tree’s and playing a personal favorite of mine called, “Car Door Dodge”. I feel as though I’m the focal point in a Zoetrope with the countryside as my frames. The fluidity of motion in a greater sense keeps the universe healthy. I have noticed over the years a correlation to my own health. Life is motion. Cycling is motion which in turn is life.

The Greatest Battle For Second Happens in July

What the tour has meant to me over the last several years has been, “Which rider has what it takes to take second?” The last time the tour winner just eeked one out was Cadel Evan’s win in 2011. It took Andy Schlecks overwhelming show of weakness in the time trial to keep him from celebrating on the Champs. Celebrating from the can upon learning of Alberto Contador being stripped of the title lacks the panache of doing so in Paris, unless of course he was on the can in Paris when he became the defacto winner. Paris just makes everything more special.

Winning the tour in court is like not winning the tour at all.

Chris Froome dominated early in 2013 making the last week almost unwatchable. Nairo Quintana saved the tour for me. The year prior to that, the drama came from two teammates in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome being on the same page, but reading different editions of the same book.

Contador and Armstrong dominated tours prior. When they rode, The fight was always for second. Its not those two riders faults that the drugs combined with their gift was far better than the other riders drugs and similar gifts.

As much as every fan loves their team to dominate, legacies tend to take away the anticipation of seeing something different. Beyond any allegiance that I have to a team, I want to see a great match. If a team I support dominates another team, I don’t enjoy it as much as seeing both teams trying to dig just a little deeper than their rivals. I want to sit on the edge of my seat and sweat it out. That’s sport.

This tour is at this point no different. Unless Vincenzo Nibali crashes out, or we get a good old fashioned (but not old enough) blood test that shows that his awesome form isn’t really his, the race is already determined. I’ve followed him since the days of him carrying Ivan Basso’s, drugs and believe him to be clean.

If the directors weren’t so busy targeting races other than the greatest race on the planet, we could actually get a really good show. I can’t imagine in any other sport, teams shelving their best players or players using the a championship as a tuneup for another lesser race. I want Quintana, Wiggins, Millar, Gilbert, Boonen, Cancellara,Betancur (Columbian dude). Seems like cycling on that level would call for giants of the sport. I’ll always be enthralled with the desire that it takes to punish yourself like that, regardless of who lines up, but if the product could be better and I can see that; I have an issue as should most fans.

Life In a Bike Shop

I see all kinds of bikes pass through the hallowed doors of The Bikery in Montclair. Everything from state of the art bikes better suited for riding grand tours than the streets of NJ, to bikes that have no monetary value, but the owners have been to hell and back on them. I love a good story before I send the customers down to our service department where I’m sure the story gets repeated again with maybe an added embellishment. Not only do I sell bikes, but am like the other people on the sales staff the unofficial greeters. Sorta like the old guy in the Home Depot that’s just happy to be something with his remaining years besides waiting for that old triple bypass to finally fail.

I don’t just value cycling as a way to ramp up the speed, put on hot pants and talk bullshit about the European pro circuit . That’s just one minor piece of the whole 2 wheeled puzzle. I like bikes. For the last 25 year’s of my life they have fed me, got me laid, kept me in shape and gave me a reason to shave my legs and blow snot rockets. You just can’t get that type of love from playing squash.

A guy came into the shop with his bike for repair. I saw him and thought nothing of him. There was nothing remarkable about him. Your average Joe. Just another guy in between beers. I looked at what he was holding and walked outside to get a better look. This guy had a US Postal Team Edition Trek 5200. The bike that delivered Lance Armstrong to the mountaintop of nothingness. The bike that helped guys feel a little less gay about shaving their legs up to their balls. Some guys go for the entire mane, but for me….Its just not that serious. The guy was having it tuned up to give to his son. I told the kid just how lucky he was. To him the US Postal Team is no more important than the actual US Postal system. To his dad and I, US Postal was the shit. Seeing Lance destroy his rivals and then miraculously do it again the next day? It almost seems to good to be true. That team was as much a part of the 90′s as was steroid use in foosball. For cycling in general in this country that team is owed a debt and that bike was part the reason. I don’t know if the other staff members quite understood the importance of that bike on their current existences, but I couldn’t not appreciate in part what that bike has meant for me.

10460447_10152993933173761_2938999790589583011_n

C-Rider Dopes In Hopes Of Becoming B-Rider

C-Rider Dopes In Hopes Of Becoming B-Rider

The world of competitive recreational cycling is fierce. On every Sunday in every state in the country you can see the rivalries play out. Traffic light drag races, 3% grade climbs that go on for thousands of feet and the empty stretches of road where reputations are won, lost and reflected upon at the 7-11.

Cheating in the professional ranks has been well documented. The reasoning for all was to play ball or find another job like Chinese food delivery guy. Lance Armstrong was not going to be the guy to deliver your beef and broccoli, though as a career move, maybe he should have. Doping was an accepted way of life amongst the sports greatest athletes.

With technology, fashion and beer great, results trickle down. Every chic item that goes down the runways of New York, Paris and Paterson, NJ eventually find their ways into the Wal-Marts of the world, available to the average consumer. With beer in the US for decades, if you asked what was on tap, the tender would say, “Beer”. With the advent of smaller breweries came choice. My grandpa would die if he wasn’t already dead, if saw everything that has been done to beer today.

Why should the advancements in cyling be any different? The same bikes that you see the pros ride are totally available to you, if you have 12 grand to lay down. If so, come in the Montclair Bikery (http://www.montclairbikery.com/) and tell them Kenny sent ya. The drugs that the pros use aren’t exclusive to them either. More and more the drugs have been finding their way into the bodies of the cyclists that won’t see the tops of Ventoux, but the atop the likes of climbs like Francisco Ave in Little Ferry, NJ.

Louis Dempsey (Clifton,NJ) was a fledgling cyclist that had been attracted to the sport because of it’s power, beauty and rampant use and acceptance of performance enhancing drugs. Like most cyclists Dempsey hadn’t ridden a bike since childhood.

“20 years ago, I used to wrestle in high school. I hadn’t done much since, but I figured that, that was a pretty good fitness base to build off of.”

He wasn’t sure if the sport was for him, so he decided to enter the sport with a Pinarello Dogma with a full Sora grupo. After joining a local ride it was apparent that no matter how many times he listened to Survivors spirited, “Eye of The Tiger” that it was impossible to keep up. No amount of oatmeal, Hammer Gel or organic brown rice balls dipped in almond butter could help. A B-Rider pulled him aside one ride after noticing his desire to pull himself inside out to keep in contact with the peloton when the speeds reached the mid teens. “I was beside myself. I wanted to reach the next level. I had been riding for 2 weeks with nothing to show for it”. Dempsey claimed the other cyclist then offered him HGH (Human Growth Hormones) and claimed that if he wanted to be a true B-Level Rider that he was going to have to make the sacrifice. “After the load period, I began to notice results. 17-18 mph on -1% grades. I was addicted to the power. Not only was I keeping up, but I was pulling the group down the road. There’s a lot of prestige in pulling into the parking lot of the Quickcheck first”.

The governing body for competitive recreational cyclist, STRAVA saw that Dempsey was ascending the ranks at an unnatural pace and intervened. Dempsey blood was tested and he was found to be on PED’s. Not only was be banned from uploading his stats for 3 weeks, but he was also stripped of his KOM on Broad St, Clifton,NJ and Upper Mountain Road in Montclair,NJ.

“Was is it worth it? I’ve lost everything. For 3 weeks, I was on top of the world. Untouchable. I thought about what next season may hold. Maybe the Tri Boro ride in NY. I made a mistake. I want to prove to the world, that I can ride clean. I want to inspire other C-Riders with aspirations of glory to do it the right way. Maybe I can reach someone.”

-Kenny Mac

The Longest Day 2014

The Longest day bike ride (photo/Brian Branch Price)The Longest Day 2014 (217 miles)
“Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ”

Pat Fudge/Lisa Perry/Gina Bullock/Sallie Hagens

Cycling In Black America At A Glance

Cycling means different things for different people. At a time it was as simple as a ride around the corner to sweet shoppe, pulling up out front, engaging the kickstand and getting a bag of Red Fish for a quarter. For others a ride with a group of friends out to take in a little fresh air and expel a few calories. For others, a contest of power, endurance and sheer will to go just a little faster than the next person. African Americans are ingrained as part of the lore of just about every sport in this country. From Jack Johnson to Gabby Douglass, our mark on society is indelible.
We have had successes in cycling dating back to the late 1800′s with Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, a world champion track cyclist. Our successes have been few in the years since. Part of the reason is the actual finance to own and maintain a bike. With the costs of bicycles ranging from from several hundred to several thousand dollars, interest has been slight. Combine that with basketball and football maintaining the lions share of our athletes, cycling has suffered more. That said, cycling in black communities is gaining in popularity. Rahsaan Bahati is a racer from Compton, CA and is amongst the top national cyclists. He not only races because he loves the sport, but to raise awareness of the sport amongst inner city youth. Thousands of African American’s have incorporated the sport into their lives today. From diet, to training, to purchasing competitive gear. In the largest cycling event in the world, The Tour De France, Team Europcar has fielded a squad containing two members of the African diaspora, Yohan Gene (Guadeloupe) and Kevin Reza (France).

The Longest Day Double Century

The Longest Day is a ride hosted by the Central Jersey Bicycle Club, that starts out in Port Jervis, NY and ends in Cape May, NJ. The event name, “Longest Day” is a misnomer. Months of sacrifice and dedication go into taking an impressive bit of cycling mileage and then doubling it. This voyage to madness started in June of 2013. I had just completed my 4th effort and started thinking of ways to improve upon the experience. My answer was to help take a group of riders and turn them into a team. Then take that team and turn them into a family. One that trained together, encouraged and supported one another and like any other family, occasionally fought. A true family, not Mansons nor Cosby’s. Somewhere safely in between.
Our club, “Major Taylor Cycling Club of New Jersey” has a varied membership of riders that stem from the average racer to the average Joe. We also have our fair share of not-so-average Janes. Twelve women began the journey and through circumstance whittled down to four. These four women mothers, grandmothers and professionals. They trained through frigid temperatures, freezing rain, their own doubt and life in whole. The elements are far easier to overcome than what one believes they can actually do and soccer practice.
The training had to match the terrain of the actual event. The northern part of New Jersey is sprinkled quite liberally with undulating rollers and valleys content on making you work to escape their bellies. The central and southern parts of the state are mainly flat. Above anything that the road had to offer, the concept of working as a unit had to be paramount. Pacelining is a method in group riding where the cyclists ride single (or double) file in an effort of having the lead riders break the wind ahead to cause a draft for the riders behind. These women have near 10 years of riding experience between them, so the concept was not foreign but the execution of riding to improve efficiency over an extended period of time still had to be practiced. Believing in the wheel ahead of you takes a willingness to trust that the rider ahead of you is not only competent, but conscientious of the people they steward behind them.
On June 14th at 3:19am the culmination of their efforts was to begin. Top athletes have bad days and usually at the most inopportune times. I believe that the heart and dedication these ladies put forth wouldn’t allow for anything short of a collective success. That is what a team does. That is what a family does. They were one anothers rocks.
The pace set out of the gate was fast. The hills of the first 70 miles were of no consequence. With every turn of the crank every hill gets reduced. Tap out a sensible cadence and recharge on the descents. They rode in unison. The climbers set the pace and the others responded. On the back half of the ride the work was shared with work-woman like precision. On a ride of this distance, fatigue will eventually set in, fatigue will welcome in it’s buddy doubt. Doubt found no refuge, just 4 women with an objective of reaching the Atlantic
Cyclists do events for every reason under the sun and then some just do it because. I asked these athletes a few questions about their reasoning in attempting to complete the event, their motivations, inspirations and their methods:

I just wanted to stay in contact with the rest of the group. So my push was to be able to keep up. In regards to my motivation to do 208 miles…. I didn’t think about it. It’s too much to conceive so I just focused on getting stronger.
-Lisa Perry.

“I’ve tried different ways to complete this ride over the last 4 years. Either I started my training too late, or my training wasn’t varied enough or I wasn’t fully committed to training or something would prevent me from being ready. I’m turning 50 this year. Enough with the trying, I just wanted to get it done. Happy 50th Birthday to Me!
-Pat Fudge

Wanted to accomplish what seemed to me the impossible!
-Sallie Hagens

I just wanted to see if this was doable for me
-Gina Bullock

The methods involved A LOT of riding, accompanied by strength training and relearning their bodies. “During the winter months I would take indoor spin class 3 days a week and 2-3 days I would body resistance exercises & calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, jacks, lunges, squats etc)”, Gina Bullock. Long distance riding involves not only training for the actual purpose of propulsion, but for that of fatigue; physically and mentally. “Whenever the going got tough, we compensated with a commitment to our goal and then overrode it”, Pat Fudge.
These women in the end refused to let one another fail. They found strength within themselves, their faith, family and inevitably themselves. That bond maybe greater than anything else, helped them to push just a little bit harder. They started out as cyclists, mutated into a team and eventually flowered into a sisterhood, joining the ranks of the few crazy-cool enough to have ever accomplished a goal and then pushed further.

 

 

 

 

Kevin Reza

kevin-rezaI talked with a young man about cycling at its highest level. He wondered if anyone we knew could compete on the same stage as the big tour riders. I explained to him that the fastest people we know are the slowest people on the tours.

I continued to explain that our hardest efforts are what they recover at. That if I was ascending some 5 mile climb averaging 15mph, that I was either in great form, on drugs or dreaming because of drugs. I think he began to understand the magnitude of what those athletes were capable of.

Anywhoo… Props to Kevin Reza of Team Europcar on earning his share of the King of The Mountain Jersey at The 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné.

The Tour de Politics

I respect the other championship matches in other sports, though those games generally tend to lack the overall excitement of The Tour De France.

Football

The Superbowl is a giant result of marketing execs. When the game tends to take a backseat to the actual competition, I tend to lose interest. There are millions that devour the platinum experience, I like the basic package. A couple of guys in tight pants duking it out for supremacy and not getting on, the least. Uh huh…

The Other Football

I don’t think anything quite compares to the frenzy around the World Cup. Nothing bad ever came out of nationalism…Nope. Not that I can recall. These Iron Cross cufflinks just complete the suit and nothing else.

Baseball

Baseball post-cocaine, post-steroid, post-hgh, post-steroid, post-bull testicles use, is still a pleasure to enjoy even though half the players will be outed for PED’s before next spring training commences.

Basketball

My second love right after my moms breasts. 7 games and it’s anybodies guess. The last 5 minutes of the games tend to be the most engaging. Which superstar in this team sport will the game be decided on?

Triple Crown

Honestly the horses don’t give a shit, so why should I?

The Tour De France

Here’s where all the players come to play. The best riders on the planet going head to head for weeks on end. No true tournaments to speak of. If your team has the legs, the cash, the euro’s or whatever in the fuck the Greeks are using, you can play. You do need to be invited.

This year’s offering so far is causing me a little concern. Some of the best riders in the sport won’t be competing. Columbia’s Nairo Quitana who placed second in last years tour won’t be participating, Australia’s Cadel Evans who is a champion of the tour won’t be riding as well as Britain’s Bradley Wiggins. Granted the tour has talent upon talent to fill those voids, but the greatest riders make one of the planets greatest sports even greater. Personally I just want to see Laurens Ten Dam, slobber uncontrollably as he’s solidifying his top 20 finish, but will miss the outputs of the aforementioned. Quintana was a sure lock to contend for the title again but Movistar went with Valverde who is a sure lock to not contend for the podium. Strange brew. The politics of the sport tend to outshine the actual sport. I guess that’s life when someone else is footing the bill. Cadels experience will be wasted as will Bradley Wiggins. Big name riders deserve to ride in big name events. It’s what the sport deserves, it’s what the fans deserve.

Bizarre Cycling Traditions

I’ll admit it. I was never one to hoist his bike over his head. I guess it goes back to my days as a messenger. If I made it through the day without being killed and to the bar afterwards before happy hour ended, that was adulation enough. In my later years, I never graduated up to bibs which would have made any showing of belly un-pro. I think pros celebrated their victories by getting extra pellets back in their team busses. For those that do enjoy the hoist, what mileage marker is the minimum for such a showing of victory? My season has been pretty abysmal, so if I were to make it down the block after about 3 gel packs, I would be apt to hoist and then need oxygen and compression garments.

If there is such a minimum mileage what would it be?

pict231