Friday, June 6, 2014

The Cunning Fox

Due to an enormous storm that pushed through Omaha on Tuesday evening, the local Wednesday Night Worlds (WNW) swelled to some 30 riders this past week. Most of the influx was from Green Street Velo (GSV) riders. It was good seeing the GSV team. Some were familiar faces who knew the terrain, but I'm sure there were a few who had never ridden WNW before.

Large groups tend to have wide a range in riding abilities. These differences can create paceline instability. In smaller, more civilized rides, the ride leader will take command of this situation and cull the group back together with verbal instructions, like telling what direction we will rotate through the pace line, who's pulling through too hard or not hard enough, etc... Wednesday Night Worlds is not like that. Why? Because it's Wednesday Night Worlds.

As a result, WNW newbies are at a disadvantage. Newbies don't necessarily know the course, or when the attacks come, or which riders are the strongest to choose a wheel from.

Years ago, my friend Barry gave me some good advice the first time I rode WNW on my entry level aluminum racing bike and wheels.

"Carbon fiber race wheels. That's how you'll succeed on this ride," Barry said to me shortly after I regrouped at Fort Calhoun. I had been dropped during a blistering tempo upswing a few miles back and had solo'd in alone. Although it was a little after 7pm, the temperature was well over 90 and the humidity would make a tropical rain forest feel like the Sahara. A river of sweat was pouring down my face.

Barry wasn't even sweating.

"Carbon fiber race wheels? I can't afford those. And this is a training ride. I thought you kept race wheels for racing," I objected.

A wry smile formed on Barry's face.

"Racing? This is Wednesday Night Worlds. It has the best KOMs around. You capture a KOM and you're a local legend."

His tone straddled the fine line between admiration and cynicism.

"Anyway, I wasn't talking about you, kid. I was talking about the others. Pay attention to those riding race wheels."

As he said this, I scanned a couple dozen bikes leaned up against the convenience store's walls. I counted five bikes on deep dish carbon wheels.

"OK, I get it," I said. "You want me to mark those guys because they're the fastest riders, right?"

"No. They are not the fastest. The fastest riders do not show up on racing wheels for a training ride. They ride heavy training wheels."

Barry's logic was dizzying. Or maybe it was the heat. I suddenly felt the urge to take a nap.

"So why am I to mark the race wheels then?"

"Because those riders are the most cunning. They're like the opportunistic fox who hunts by using a sudden pouncing technique that can quickly overwhelm its prey. Their timing is impeccable, sensing best when to launch their attack to score their kill."

I could almost hear Jim Fowler's voice narrating this passage.

"Identifying the alpha fox will reveal to you the identity of the fastest rider whom he's chasing. When he pounces, you pounce a moment later. That is how you win Wednesday Night Worlds."


As an aside, it's been said before that Shim's a feral child who was raised in the forest by a den of foxes. Somebody -- Rafal -- call the Discovery Channel. There may be a story here.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.


  1. hey remember that one time we went on ride with SHIM and Leah.... YPG

  2. Grasshopper is coming of age
    with the wisdom of the wheel
    But yet how can one so sage
    still not yet pounce on feel?

    He marks the carbonite
    as his penultimate quarry;
    to be in the attack-suite
    of my brother Barry