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