are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm a Punk Rocker, yes I am

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As i was waiting at the line for the race to start, with about 70 guys behind me, I thought never again.

No more beer sessions in smokey squatter bars with 70s punk, and 80s post punk, until 2AM the night before a race.

While I was busy making this resolution to myself, one of the local hard men pulled alongside. I used to refer to him as van der Moser, because he has a similar profile, and is strong as hell. He made some small talk that was nigh impossible to understand. This was partly due to the fact that i was still groggy from my late night, partly because it was in Dutch, and partly because this is a guy of very few words, Which made it all the more surprising that he was saying anything at all to me.

He was asking if i was a conservative/smart rider. I asked him how do you say 'rhetorical' in Dutch, because we had spent 20+ mins off the front together the week before. It was an odd chat, maybe he was trying to say something to me?

The race started and, for some reason, I attacked 1 meter from the line.

I almost always ride a few meters off the front at the gun, to test the legs. It's easy to do because this race always has a sluggish start.

My initial impressions were pretty good. Surprisingly good. I looked over my shoulder, expecting/hoping the field to be right behind me. Nope, but there was someone riding up to me. Yep, it was van der Moser.

We started working together, I figured "what the hell, we'll be caught soon enough". Incorrect.

The prospect of spending the entire 1 hour plus 6 laps of the race on the pointy end of the stick was not really appealing, but I figured that as much as it sucked to be out in the wind, it was better to be out in the wind with a gap, then out in the wind with a bunch of schmucks sucking your wheel, which would have been the case if I was in the field. After that thought passed through my head, I thought of advice that I've been told, and have given, about situations like this: DON"T THINK, RIDE. So, whenever I started thinking of the situation I was in I started singing the Teddy Bears (featuring Iggy Pop) "I'm a Punk Rocker" in my head.

Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.

20 minutes into the race, I saw that there were some riders coming out of the corner of my eye. Hmmmmm... relief. Now I can hide in the field. Incorrect.

One of the two is the best sprinter in the category, and has obviously done some good winter training because 2 weeks ago he rode away from an 8 man break I was in with 2 guys on his wheel, never to come back. The other guy I had noticed just before the start, only because he was there with what looked to be his parents. They were both... well fed, and had cigarettes dangling from their mouths. Seeing as it's been 14 months since I quit my beloved smokey treats, the cigarettes are what caught my attention. I could smell the smoke, and found myself tempted to ask for a drag.

So, there we were, four of us, off the front. That's when I started to realize that this might work.

We were working well together, apart from the occasional overzealous pull by van der Moser. At 30 minutes we heard that we had a 30 second gap, and my kidneys hurt a little.

Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.

There was a prime, and surprisingly one of the 4 said that we should ignore it and keep working. Shock horror, someone was actually thinking besides me.

I started taking some heart at the sight of guys OTB. They were spread around the course, in groups of 2 to 5. Some just soft-pedaling back to the strip, some trying their best to catch the field again. At one point one of them jumped on to the back of our group. The four of us kept taking our pulls, and the guy just sat there. Finally, i turned around and shouted (in English) - "Work or Fück Off!" In retrospect, not the smartest thing to do. It threw off my concentration, and for some reason I found myself rolling off the back, almost getting dropped. Then I realized that I was yelling at one of the guys in the break.

Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.

At 50 mins, we were told that we had 1:40 on the field. We kept working.

Time passed, we kept it rolling. There was one stretch where we would go from 43-44 kph to 47-48 kph, then turn, hit a wall of wind, and then grind up a 20 meter long walll, which I've heard is 22% (not sure why anyone would ever measure the percentage of bridge that spans a single car lane). The wind, and the hill, were starting to grind me down a little. A couple of times I almost lost contact, not in the wind, and not on the hill, but just as we crested the hill, and rolled down into more headwind. I kept digging, thinking of a line I read on a cycling internet forum, that went along the lines of 'even when you think you don't have anything left, you do'.

We passed the start/finish and I noticed that a friend who was in the race was now watching. There's a Dutch saying "twee vingers in de neus", or two fingers in/up the nose. It basically means that "it's easy". On the next lap, as I rode by, I stuck two fingers up my nose. WTF - it's not like I was getting paid to be there.

At one hour we got the signal that there were 6 laps to go. Surprisingly there was no Mickey Mouse stuff going, and we kept working together. That was all good by me. I started throwing up a little in my mouth with 5 laps to go.

With three laps to go I started skipping pulls. I'd like to say it was because I was being tactical. It was, and it wasn't. I was shattered, and my calves started cramping a little. Nothing major, just warning signs. Why did I have so many beers the night before?

Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Coz I'm a punk rocker yes I am.
Well I'm a punk rocker yes I am.

Two laps to go and I was letting a gap open when van der Moser was pulling, because he was so strong, and the sprinter was behind me. I didn't want him entirely fresh for the end.

On the last lap, van der Moser tried an attack. Man was he fast after spending well over an hour in the wind. The sprinter caught on, and I was gapped. I dug deep and bridged back on, while the FNG with the chain smoking parents then proceeded to sit on me.

We hit the last wall of wind, and the last climb, then it was 500 meters to the finish. I was on the sprinters wheel, sitting pretty, thinking that I just might be able to pull this off.

Wait... wait... wait... wait... wait...

And that was the problem. I waited too long. Should have gone myself. The sprinter jumped, and I had his wheel, then the FNG, who was on my wheel, jumped past me.

Fück me. Blew it. Blew it so bad, that even van der Moser - the worst sprinter ever - even managed to get past me.

Only managed 4th for the day, after 1:22 off the front, finishing 2 minutes ahead of the field.

In the words of Beck:

Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?

That is all.


CyLowe said...

Yeah. First comment. Blogs are boring and you are full of yourself.

Punk rock and shaved legs. That's a fun combo.

Why does the Husker Du live version of the Ramones' "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" keep rattling through my brain like a superball in an empty factory?

J Fischer said...

Great race report. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed that blog. I relish beer nights and a smoke from time to time, so I could relate...


Anonymous said...

fcuk! The lattice of coincidence gets really spooky at times.

Mad Cobra --> Cobrastyle --> Teddybears --> Punkrocker --> here.

Cobrastyle is #1 on my roller mix.