Category: Race Relations

Josh’s Trip to Unicoi

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The MSG cyclocross series is a brutal test of physical prowess, mental acuity and suppressing the latent cannibalistic urges that are associated with the dreaded hill people of eastern Tennessee (for further reading, see: Hale, Andy). Josh was able to overcome his taste for human flesh and ride his way to back to back second place finishes this weekend in the cultural mecca of Unicoi (their Flying J now stocks pornography in hardback editions!). While Josh savored his podium, it gave Bloggy no pleasure to remind him that a) second place is merely first loser and b) the Sun will turn into a red giant in 5.4 billion years, swallowing the Earth and rendering his second place finish and everything else totally meaningless (see, “Ecclesiastes”). Nevertheless, congratulations to Josh. Maybe he’ll finally quit delaying the inevitable and cat up. Here are several photographs of Unicoi

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Mayhem ensues in the death spiral. Also, things get wacky on the cyclocross course!

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josh’s dilworth/NoDa crit adventure

Waking up in a strange place is always a disconcerting experience, but waking up astride a bicycle in the middle of a race must be indescribably weird. One must wonder if that’s what Hawley’s very own Josh was thinking Saturday afternoon as he was carried along in a peloton during the Cat 4 race, a sleepiness to his eyes and a sluggishness to his um, legs? Rumor had it Josh was up very late the night before. Rumor also had it he had imbibed alcoholic beverages. That was disappointing to Bloggy’s ears as he had driven up specifically to see Josh carry his Ring of Fire form to a Dilworth podium. Such is life, full of hyperbolic disappointment and imagined slights. All kidding aside, Josh rode well and rode even better the following day at the NoDa crit. According to Josh (regarding his NoDa race):

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“All the fast corners people would hit the brakes and quit pedaling. I would just go to the outside, and pedal through the turn, and come out about 3 mph faster than most everyone else. It was pretty fun until some ___ kid couldn’t hold his line in a turn and drifted from mid course to the outside edge. So I was of course outside trying to get around. I locked up the back, jumped a curb, and ended up in someone’s front yard but managed to keep the bike on two wheels. I think I had worked myself up to the top 20 at that point but after that I was done so I jumped in the next group that came around. Finshed 39th out of 72… I just saw grass and I thought that was the best place to wreck. I have NO idea how the bike didn’t go down. Almost hit 3 people too who were on the corner, probably waiting to see someone wreck”

A collection of photos from Dilworth with pithy descriptions:

Start line populated, nay, infested with junior racers. Can’t these kids do something else on a Saturday afternoon?

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The rabble from the backside.

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Josh finds himself midpack, and considerably taller than those around him. Genetics.

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Wouldn’t be a proper crit without the geared-out race official on the blingy dual sport. Cargo box contents? A human head.

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Lap 4 Josh is still with the group but the backside climb begins to take its toll. He raced with a giant black arrow above him as well.

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As per tradition, I found Troy Whelan’s doppleganger (far right, purple jersey) yet again. He was wearing a Massage Envy kit and riding well. Also, please return Troy’s face to him!

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Found him again. We were obsessed.

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Josh crossed the line, parched and expecting the worst from my post-race thrashing. Josh is a gentleman and always insists on picking his own switch. Then the thrashings began.

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Camelbak bottle product placement. Check.

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Highlight of the day for me was listening to the Chemical Brothers’ “Dig Your Own Hole” in its entirety through this unnecessarily large speaker. That album has not aged well. Anyway, let’s just say it was difficult concentrating on Cane Creek Eric’s interminable stories when you have “Block Rockin’ Beats” rattling your cerebral cortex.

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Paris Roubaix: Toddler Waffle Frenzy

Adam was kind enough to invite a rabble of Hawley folk over to his house to watch Paris Roubaix this past Sunday. After watching Charles (product manager) defile Adam’s hand soap in the guest bathroom, I made my way to the couch and claimed a comfortable bit of acreage. My viewing was enhanced by Patrick’s (product manhandler) homemade beer and a plate of Jose’s top secret Belgian waffles. Then Matt showed up with a baby and all hell broke loose. Not sure what it is about a baby, especially one that resembles our Shimano product manager that makes watching Paris-Roubaix that much more exciting, if not deadly. I asked Matt if his baby (12 weeks old) could speak. Matt started answering me with something like “No you clod!” when out of nowhere, his baby said “Silence father!” It was creepy but it was good to see Matt receive his comeuppance. After a few more hours, we watched Cancellara have a quick conversation around the 3km mark and then win the race in the sprint. Did he offer cash to Vanmarcke in exchange for a victory or was he calling dibs on his favorite shower stall? We shall never know. Such is racing, such is Paris-Roubaix. Prepare for photos of Hawleyites in a social setting:

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You’re correct, Charles is drinking a Mimosa

Oh yeah, this happened. I have titled it, “caught slippin”

Vos in Translation

Marianne Vos won the women’s version of the Tour of Flanders Sunday. In keeping things in an Inner Ring spirit, here is “the moment the race was won”

May 13, 1987; ‘s-Hertogenbosch, North Brabant Hospital:69499261

So OK, that was some pretty succinct analysis right? I wish it was more of a joke but sadly, Marianne Vos may turn out to be the greatest cyclist in ALL disciplines EVER. That’s not technically sad, but it’s sad for her competition because by all accounts, it doesn’t seem like she’s even peaking. We’re witnessing true, competition-suffocating greatness gentle readers. Well not really because they didn’t broadcast the women’s race. Such is life, but nothing could take away from Vos’s triumph. Oh wait, I forgot about that reptile in bib shorts, Peter Sagan. Poor Vos and Cancellara, upstaged by a half-witted man child with a penchant for misogyny. Here’s an idea. For this week only shop owners, use this moment of cycling awkwardness and gender disparity to promote useful items like HALT spray (A humorous tagline such as “Not just for dogs anymore” with a photo of Sagan underneath with comical stinklines drawn under his face for comic effect would suffice) or a Park Tool frame/fork straightener, otherwise known as the “Ultimate Beat Down Stick”. Include a humorous word bubble under your counter top display with the following, “Somebody getting all gropey? Remove their head from their body with cleanliness and accuracy”. Wouldn’t hurt if you had a small tape deck playing Drowning Pool on continuous loop. But in all seriousness (which usually means the exact opposite), Bloggy was forwarded a video about the Afghanistan women’s cycling team and the woman who risked her life to make it happen, which should get rid of the foul taste of Sagan from your collective blog minds. Truly great work from an amazing person that should humble us all…

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Get In The Van: Racing Q & A With Clayton Walker

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Henry Rollins’ memoir of his touring days with Black Flag or with noted cyclist Adam Myerson’s use of it on “the Twitters” in contexts related to endless, cramped roadtrips back and forth to races, “Get in the Van” is an idiom that connotes a long drive for little financial reward but for the betterment of one’s inner self through friendly competition (whether with drunken bar rabble or fredded-out pack fodder).  For the rest of the “season”, we’ll be following our newest inside sales grunt Clayton Walker in his own metaphorical van and his quest for Cat 3 road racing glory. We’ll stick with a “Maximum Rock and Roll”-styled Q & A format to keep things pithy yet interesting. Although Clayton doesn’t drive a van and probably couldn’t name ONE Black Flag LP or the year Adam Myserson won the national collegiate road championship, he plans to race every weekend and let us into the dank, fetid, inner recesses of his “race mind”. Saturday and Sunday were the road and crit stages of the Blythewood Omnium. Take it away young man…

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Bloggy: What races did you do? What categories?
Clayton: I did the 3/4 race Saturday and the 4/5 race Sunday.  I opted out of the time trial due to a severe lack of fitness.  After the demoralizing whoopin’ I took Saturday in the 3/4’s I thought it a better idea to race with the slower crowd Sunday

Bloggy: Going into these races, please describe your training and goals for each race.
Clayton: What is this “training” thing? I have been willing myself to ride the trainer as of late and have only done all of two intervals in as many months.  My goal for the race Saturday was to not die which was a resounding success.  Sunday was slightly different  with a goal of finishing.  I ended up succeeding once again, crossing the line with two of my comrades alongside me.

Bloggy: How many teammates did you have and what tactics did you employ?
Clayton: Saturday saw a record Massage Envy crowd with 5 in my race.  The majority of the team mates were from our Myrtle Beach faction.  We went into it with the idea of seeing who survives the onslaught to the final last laps and help the strongest rider left.  The problem with this plan is that you must first make it to the end of the race.  Of the original 52 racers, only 18 survived to the end.  My team mate was averaging 25.5 and was lapped after 8 laps. Similar tactics were employed on Sunday with better results. We had a Myrtle Beach team mate take 2nd in the morning race.

Bloggy: Name some of the sketchier/scarier instances from the race(s)
Clayton: There were a surprisingly low number of crashes throughout the weekend.  There was a minimal amount of skin left on the pavement from the varying categories by the end of the day.  There was a fun instance in the road race Sunday where a tired racer decided he wanted the inside line in a corner.  The only problem with this is I wanted the inside line in the corner.  Since it is quite difficult for two racers to occupy the same space at the same time, he ended up on the sidewalk but miraculously kept the bike upright.

Bloggy: Any team kits stand out as particularly offensive (design, color, sponsors, etc)?
Clayton: The Hincapie devo team kits seemed more bland than their previous setup.  They were also wearing the new Giro air attack helmets which I still cannot take seriously.

Bloggy: Did you get a chance to see Mountain Khakis rider Adam Myerson? If so, what were your impressions? Ruggedly handsome? Mysterious?
Clayton: I did get to see him from afar.  He reminded me of the strong silent type.  He may have finished at the back of the pack, but he led his Khaki armada to a W.

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Bloggy: What was your race set up? Bike, tires, wheels, shoes, nutrition helmet, sunglasses, chamois cream.
Clayton: I am currently rocking a Cannondale CAAD 10 with Sram force. It came stock with a set of FSA energy wheels which are a good but loud wheelset.  For rubber I am running Michelin Pro 4 service course tires.  For shoes I’m wearing Giro Trans HV.  They are a bit flexy, but look pretty nice.  I got jacked up on GU and sport legs before the race Saturday. Those are my go to nutritionals.  Ive been wearing a pair of tifosi torrents for way too long. They have been on their last leg for months now.  As for chamois cream, I only trust Belgium Budder for my unmentionables.   

Bloggy: Did you listen to music before the race warming up? If so, names some of the artists.
Clayton: My team mate Ryan Swaim always rocks out at the races.  He brought out a HUGE stereo and we kicked it to everything from beastie boys to flogging molly.

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Bloggy: Was it nice not racing with Tipper in your category or did you miss the permanent feeling of dread and anxiety? Please elaborate.
Clayton: I missed the Tip Tip.  Its always nice having another tall skinny dude in the pack.  All the short people are so hard to draft.

Bloggy: Do you have any tips for extremely tall racers like yourself? Is it difficult drafting behind shorter riders? How tall are you?
Clayton: My advice would be to get as aero as possible.  You can use your height to your advantage during the race.  If you want a wheel, the small riders are pretty easy to move out of your way.  When their handlebars are only as tall as your lower thigh, you can push em around a little bit.  As for drafting, forget it.  Always plan to ride as though you were on the front breaking the wind yourself. I am a mere 6 feet 6 inches tall.  This would not be a hindrance during a race if I had more than 160 pounds to  help push that height.

Bloggy: If you could be any kind of bird, what would you have done differently to prepare for your race?
Clayton: I would have tried to live up to the nickname “the flying chickin” better.  Hill repeats should have been on the menu, but were sadly left out of preparation.

Bloggy: Is it important to continue racing now that you don’t work in a shop and are part of the “inner sanctum”? Can you change three letters from “sanctum” and create a new and inappropriate word?
Clayton: It is vital to continue my campaign in the racing circuit.  Although I have virtually no speed, It is fun seeing everyone at races again.  After some time thinking about this I believe I am stumped on creating a new word. (Ed. The word we were looking for was SCROTUM)

Bloggy: Do you have any racing nicknames? For example, Flash, Stretch, Professor Necrolizer the Befowler of the Dearly Departed, The RZA, etc
Clayton: Flamingo, the flying chicken, wide load, shorty, lanky crusher, stork,

Bloggy: Are you planning on doing any other races this season?
Clayton: April will see me in full swing with every weekend seeing a new event.  Rock hill is first, followed by a team training camp, then Charleston for the state crit champs, then finally to Athens to try my hand at making it into the amateur twilight race.  Later  season events will include the state road race and french broad.

Bloggy: What is your favorite post-race food and beverage?
Clayton: Post-race food has to be a honey bun.  As for beverages it is a tie between sierra Nevada pale ale and a coke
Bloggy: Do you think Doug will race with you this spring? Do you think it’s smart to beat your boss in a race?
Clayton: Hopefully I can get him back on two wheels.  This transition of Hawley employees from cyclists to runners is quite disconcerting.  I will hopefully be able to get him and others (Tipper and J.T.) back on some rides.  If Doug does decide to race, then I will give him a run for his money but bow out gracefully.

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Thanks for your help Clayton and we (Me and Richard in shipping) wish you the best of luck this season!

Taking A Flyer

This past weekend, Adam raced cross in Winston Salem, Bloggy raced cross in Spartanburg, Matt and Teenwolf ran 33 miles at FATS,  but nobody made it up to Unicoi, TN… because we’re not crazy. That being said, if you’re looking for some hot cyclocross action this Sunday in the cradle of facial hair and Subaru’s, make your way to Asheville for the third race of the autumnal AVLCX series. Throw down with cyclocross glitterati like Justin Bristol, and that guy who always comes to his races and drinks!

Keeping with the “social drinking” aspect of today’s post, if you’re in Columbia, stop by the Handlebar Happy Hour and start your “When are they going to extend the Wheat street bike lane? Crimony, it’s such a tease! It last two blocks then ends for no reason!!!” filibuster around a horde of like-minded individuals. Fuel your passion for cycling advocacy after you fuel your passion for world class liver-pickling. Patrick will be giving the keynote address, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Weekend Cyclocross Ruminations

Bloggy found himself an hour from the first round of the NCCX in Sandhills so I figured I’d give it go, then meet up with Teenwolf the following day in Raleigh for round 2. I showed up late and had time for a quick warm up lap to scout the course while I wolfed down a cold bagel. Lots of sand including a loose downhill whose line I wouldn’t solve until the penultimate lap of my race. It was chilly, my skinsuit was in the bag and my warm wear was nowhere to be found. I then remembered I grabbed a bottle of the new-for-Hawley ELITE warming oil (BODY8070, not online yet, but it WILL be) from Patrick last week. It’s not embrocation but a light, somewhat slick oil with capsicum that provides instant warmth without the moisture activated heat from regular embrocations. I worked it into my legs and arms in the most non-erotic method I could muster without titillating any of my fellow parking lot compatriots. Needless to say, the oil was pretty awesome and my parking lot compatriots seemed unnerved by the spectacle. I didn’t look like a hot oil wrestler and it warmed me up for the standard 10 minutes of standing around at the start line. The start went horrible as I found myself in the back being gapped from the start. I would spend the race yo yo-ing with a group of racers until I found myself with two fine fellows who seemed content to ride together. Feeling frisky, I tried to gap them on the pavement leading into the final lap. My gap achieved, I bonked in the grassy power section and finished 10-15 seconds behind my cohorts I had attacked only a few minutes earlier. As usual, the combination of American Classic tubulars and Challenge Grifos were “jam up jelly tight”. Sadly, I’m pretty sure Stephen Hawking could handle a bike better than me right now. Ugh, makes me sick to think of how much time I lost on that sandy downhill. Oh well, lesson learned. This was the new Hawley kits debut at a race so if anybody has pictures of me almost eating it in the sand pit, shoot me an email. Here are some random pics I snapped from the race…

The sand in the pit. It was deep, thick, lustrous. A few of the pros tried to ride it, but most ran it.

One of the Shields twins goes nuts and attempts to ride the pit, which she did until the hairpin…

Super-fresh Ibis in the Masters race. Alpha Q fork, ahhh gone but not forgotten.

The leading women’s duo prep for dismount.

Men’s race starts with the customary trackstand.


Yet More Pictures From Charm City

I ate three curried beef chalupas washed down with a 64 ounce Diet Mountain Dew a few minutes before my race to provide the fuel my body would need. As luck would have it, there was a fresh porta-john near the staging area waiting to be desecrated with my spicy innards. No regrets baby, no regrets. Stink fumes are barely visible.

During the race, there was a particularly drunken group of hecklers who were giving out drug-laced Twizzlers to unsuspecting riders and children alike. While I enjoy the works of Carlos Castaneda, I have no interest in living through them, let alone racing in them. I prefer my psychedelic desert landscapes like everybody else, airbrushed on the side of a Chevy van outside my Uncle Chico’s house.

The Twizzler crew, chased from the tree barriers make camp on one of the climbs. I asked them for a beer and heard audible gasps of disbelief. Prudes!

I passed this fellow on both days. I nicknamed him The Ogre. The racer next to him was six foot ten inches tall, 290 pounds. They say the Ogre’s frame was fashioned from leftover Alaskan pipeline materials and welded together by a wizard. There is also a good chance he tried to kill me and eat my bones on lap 2. But keeping my wits about me, I escaped the ogre on a right hand turn and left him to the hapless Twizzler hecklers.

The tree barriers were treacherous for many a racer. Their height made traversing them a choice between climbing over them or leaping while their width made portage a tricky affair. Needless to say, I made sure to approach these with caution.

As I alluded to yesterday, I made the mistake of passing a gentleman close to the finish, thus setting myself up for an embarrassing sprint finish. As luck would have it, I found a picture of the intrepid racer and opportunist. Those curried beef chalupas were banging outside the proverbial gates and I had no time for last place glory.

And just as my race started in the proverbial crapper on the 98th row, it ended in the proverbial crapper too! You can’t plan on these things happening folks. Once again, thanks to Jose and American Classic for helping me procure the Carbon 58 wheels. Also big ups to Paul S. for welding a frame I’m not worthy to race on!