Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Race Face: AKA Basso's Bluff

Many weeks ago, I made a comparison of myself to professional cyclist Tom Boonen. If you recall, it wasn't to his fine sprinting skills, but more to that of his disproportionate torso to leg ratio.

Now I find the need to compare a trait I have in common with another professional cyclist, this time Ivan Basso.

I like Basso. I like him not because he's riding more human like post OperaciĆ³n Puerto, but because he's always smiling when he does. He rides like he's enjoying every minute of it even though you know he's burying himself in immense suffering. It doesn't matter if he's drilling it at the front of the pace line, or climbing a 6% grade for 20K with a 14% kicker at the end: Basso's all yippy-skippy when he rides. I bet he even hums a snappy tune from time to time. And the more intense it gets, the more you see him grinning. See for yourself as we walk down some finer moments of his career:

Yes, Ivan Basso is a good bluffer. He's the only one who appears to be on a bacon ride among the suffering faces around him. Either that or he's a total masochist.

As for me, the quest to become a better bluffer started a couple years ago when my brother Murphini commented that I winced when I ran. Um, who doesn't? Have you ever seen anyone looking like they're enjoying running?

Brady wincing during the IronmanKansas 70.3

After brother John's revelation, I began working on my race face during practice runs.

Now a lesser man would have practiced it during a recovery run. Oh, not me. I cut right to the chase and began working on Basso's bluff during 800m track repeats. That's right: rapid flat foot strikes, aligned hips, high arm turnover, steady breathing and a stupid ear-to-ear grin on my face. Truly, a running fool if there was one.

The end result is that I mastered it. Mom was right. You continue to make a face and it may stick that way.

photo credits: Dan Farnham

Let it be known that while it looks like a pleasure ride in the park, there's not a whole lot of happiness going on inside.

I love bicycle racing.


  1. No, I said Brother BRENDAN always looks angry when he ran and I always smiled in photos because I wasn't worried about not coming in first. I was a participant in races, not a contender.

    You must be confused because I never talk about you, only about myself, or my attempts to get OTHERS to talk about myself. In this case (score), it worked since you referenced me in your blog!

    Now I will talk about you. I think you are smiling because you seriously put others in the Hurt Locker. That's a deviously delicious feeling. No wonder you are cheesing. I ride with lame phreds to get that feeling, not Cat4 racers. You should be smiling.

  2. Hurting in a bicycle race is really annoying. But you know, given the right set of circumstances & mood, annoyances can also be very funny.

    Next time Brendan's preparing a fantastic dinner in the kitchen, do a little jig in front of him and watch him simmer. (Be prepared to duck if he takes a swing at you.)

    HA! I'm laughing thinking about it now.

    Hi Brendan. You know I love you, kid.


  3. Brady,

    You're riding REALLY strong this season! What's your secret? Training with Shim? New bike? Off-season training plan? All the above?

    Keep hammerin'!


  4. Thanks Gary.

    The Madone has nothing to do with it. Yes, it's smoother and a little lighter, but I sure miss railing that bucket of bolts, Old Yeller. Sigh.

    Shim has had something to do with it. I rode a lot of winter base miles with him, Kevin Limpach and Mark Savery to name a few. That and staying consistent with the Wednesday night Trek Store rides this past Spring has helped.

    The final secret I'll reveal is my hard ride recovery food: Blue Bunny's Premium Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate Ice cream. I'm pretty sure that the protein to carb ratio could be better optimized, but life's too short to worry 'bout that.

    Mmmm. Ice Cream. Mmmm. Blue Bunny

  5. Brady,

    I'll have to work on that. It's a fine line between a sheeyat-eating grin and the DEATH MASK. I wore the latter during the Kansas 70.3. No one else to bluff. Just me and my inner demons. I'm gonna practice grinning at you when we top the Surfside Hills together at WNWs. BTW, travelling to DC this week on Wednesday, so won't show up for WNW. I'd be total pack FODDER even if I did show. Next Wednesday looks good. Cherry Chocolate, eh? Ah, so! That's the secret.