Monday, February 9, 2009

PBS Special

I joined a group of 13 riders for a group ride this past Saturday. It was pre-billed as mixed tempo. With a group that included some of Nebraska's stronger riders, it was only a matter of time before the hammers came out.

Usually, it's the strongest rider who chooses the route. Saturday's ride was notably different as no one was sure who the alpha male was after the winter off-season. So what happened next was not unlike a National Geographic Nature documentary about the rites of spring...

The Fauna
Proudly displaying vibrant cycling kits from different social packs, the riders including members from Bike Masters, High Gear, Team Kaos and a smattering of a few renegade nomads. As for colorful mounts, I saw Cevelos, Felts, Madones & LeMonds. One brazen chap even rode a yellow bike without any markings.

An important aspect of evolution has been the ability to vocalize pecking order. Be it talking, yelling, grunting -- the voice plays an important role in a group ride. Often, it involves bluffing your opponent so as to make them believe you're something other than you are -- stronger, or in many cases weaker so as to deliver an excruciating defeat in conquering them, or to have a convenient excuse after they rip your legs off. What I heard was a lot of people claiming that they hadn't been on the trainer but had been stuffing their pie holes with cheeseburgers and beer. Yet only minutes earlier, those same liars were spreading chamois butter over saddle sores like thick layers of spackling on rotted dry wall. Only the very brave have claimed --blogged-- to have been on a strict diet while grinding away on the trainer for days on end.

The (Marked) Territory:
As mentioned, it's typically the alpha male who chooses the route. I don't know who chose it this time, but we gathered at Kohl's parking lot on 72nd and Pacific. Now normally the starting point is a coffee shop, where there are amenities like coffee and public bathrooms. These are nice to have, but not necessarily requirements for a ride like this. At least it wasn't for Shim. For the record, he was facing 72nd street while marking his territory along the Keystone trail.

The pack then mounted up for a light warm up spin on the Keystone. Nobody knew where we were going. It was more like we were instinctively migrating along familiar territory. In this case, it was the Wednesday night Trek Store route.

Positioning, Attacking, Thinning the Herd
The Omaha Trek store route has a mix of long flats and rolling hills, the first of which is a half mile ascent up a 5% grade just north of town. It's usually at this point where the pace quickens. But this past weekend, the pack was still positioning tenaciously for the first to attack. It never happened. Instead, some of the group dropped off the pack, causing the pace to fall back to conversation speed. Confusion and darting looks ensued while the group reassessed. Finally, someone called out that there was a bike failure. Shortly, it was revealed that Bryan's rear derailleur hanger had blown up.

It was as if the prize stag had lost his trophy rack: Bryan was officially out of the ride.

A collective sigh of exasperation followed. What I gather is that Bryan's blogging had seemingly set the high bar on training during the off-season and the group was going to measure up against him. So with Redemske out of the mix, the pack's pent up energy was about to be unleashed elsewhere.

Let it be known that I heroically fought through wicked up-tempo pace lines and savage attacks led by the likes of Limpach and Brackenbury, of Shim and Spence. And while I can't lay claim to being the alpha male, I am able to declare that I hung with the pack* and witnessed the hammering of rams, the power struggle of bears and the running of bulls in what has become my own PBS special.

Queue: National Geographic Theme Song & Credits
*I was officially dropped twice; the third time I had already declared the ride a wrap so I didn't count it.


  1. You are my superhero clad in a spandex-nylon blend!

    When will we dine on oats of the steel cut variety together?

    Looking forward to hitting the road with you and the other fasties!

  2. Very funny and creative. Classic WSCG material.

    You know, I'd think someone was making up the sighting of a plain yellow beast with no markings if I hadn't seen one myself once. They must be exceedingly rare.

    However the one I saw must have been molting or shedding, as it was missing a rear wheel where it was resting. I guess they grow back after a while.

  3. Hey man, it's all about the wholesome steel-cut oats. Next time!

    Scott: I believe that you are referring to this. I shot that with my blackberry curve, no flash.

  4. For the record, the route was discussed in a civil manner between Mr. Brackenberry and myself, we each offered several routes and ended up selecting the one we thought would inflict the least amount of pain (after all it was the first weekend of February).
    Nice write up, very entertaining, but you did forget your reference to "That Guy", as in don't be "That Guy". Maybe in a future edition.

  5. Ah! Alpha male! There - you see it?!

    Originally, the script had a little diddy about "that guy" - comparing him to those old PBS shows where the narrator says, "Uh-Oh there's that bear again!" but it just wasn't working. In truth, union fees and royalties were also a bugger for the law department to workout. In the end, it was celluloid on the cutting room floor.

    But who knows, sequels abound. How's this pitch - Coming soon on WSCG: "PBS Special 2: Uh Oh - there's that guy!"

    Let's see how the Shim action figures sell first.

  6. I'd like to a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom style show. Somewhere you can put a "Jim" in harm's way for the sake of a good shot.

    "Watch now as Jim attempts to catch up with the speeding cyclist, tackle him, and apply the marker tag to his ear. Ouch! That's gotta hurt, Jim!"

  7. Great stuff. I do and don't wish I was there. I do, because it was crazy nice out, but I don't, since I would have been dropped many more than 3 times.

    There will be many more episodes in which I plan to be a part of, however.

  8. I don't know ... me as the standard for fitness at any point in the season seems like a stretch, especially because of my standing in that group. Lots of big-time palmares there. Me? I was third in the Cat. 4 Cornhusker State Games time trial.

    I'm just a guy with a bike and a blog compared to some of those guys. But I'm getting there.

  9. Pop some corn, Redd-Shift: click clack click click whhhhiiiiirrr

    Get that trash out of your head, Munson. You'd be fine - there were only three hills and anyway nearly everying in PBS special is embellishment (except for the part about the chap on the yellow bike)

    It's also time for you to dump the trash, Mr Hunt'n Peck. How's the finger today? Look here, Bryan, you're as fit as any of them right now. Palmares, as you know, is also part raw talent and experience. Raw talent you have no control over and (cat3) experience will come with time. As for fitness being an obstacle to success? Yeah. Whatever. Now stop reading this. It's time for you to prepare for a three hour training ride with a broken pinky.

  10. I don't see 3 hours happening in my current state. Two, maybe.

    Oh, and the finger is good. Very blue and purple. That's good, right?

  11. good stuff. The key is to find a group of freds that are Beta's and Gamma's so you-your-ownself can be the alpha.

    I like to ride with the island of mifsit toys-- I then feel like the Great German Beast Jan Ulrich mixed in with the attitude of Mario Cippiolini until our group got passed like we were standing still by the SKC team here in KC.

    Fallen Cat-5's ain't no match for Cat 3s coming off cross season.