Not even that Mad after Mead Roubaix

I smashed my legs real good this past weekend. I’ve put in a great block of training over the past two weeks and the weather has been perfect for it too. A lot of intensity and a lot of hours, which will either pay off in some good form or a sinus infection. I’ve been drinking kiefer though, which has been proven to boost the immune system, verified by many independent tests paid for by the dairy industry.

I capped off last week with a race yesterday, the Mead Roubaix up north of Boulder. I was facebook chatting a friend on Friday night when he informed me there was a race on Sunday. A road race no less, not a crit! So I did what any rational person would do and signed up for it immediately without thinking about any prior engagements I might have had. A few hours later I remembered that I work on Sundays, so I spent the next day pounding my head against a wall for throwing $45 away on a race that I wasn’t even going to get to do. To punish myself I did a hard day of intervals on Saturday, which Sam had planned for me. Sunday would be a group ride if I could find one or just a long ride with a lot of climbing. Still good trainings, but I was mad at myself for wasting money on the race.

But, long story short, the restaurant let me take the night off so I could race. I love them people! I woke up on Sunday and realized that Saturday’s ride had left me requiring quite a bit of caffeine to get through the race that day, so I made a quadruple pot of coffee. The race was half dirt and half pavement, falling in line perfectly with all the other fake cobblestone wanna-be races this time of year. The race website excitedly proclaimed that there would be “no sand traps this year!” Sand and gravel do not equal cobblestones! Whatever, they’re still cool though and I figured I’d flat no matter what I did so I decided not to invest too much emotional energy in the race since I’d likely flat out right before the finish line.

My rear tire has gotten pretty thin, so I changed it after I had breakfast. I’d pulled a newish tire out of someone’s garbage can a few months ago. It was a Continental grand prix 4000, lightly worn. I put it on my rear wheel and started patching a couple spare tubes to take with me. There would be no wheel support whatsoever at the race. Just a sag wagon, so I planned to come prepared for flats with three brand new multi-patched patched tubes. It was the first time I’ve raced with a saddle bag and a frame pump.

Within five minutes of putting the new tire on, I saw that it had gone flat. Shit. I took the tire off and inspected it, finding a huge gash in the side wall. I assumed there must have also been some invisible wire or piece of glass that had jabbed the tube too, so I threw it away and put my old tire back on. It was getting close to my designated time of departure, so I hastened my work. As I patched my third spare tube, the rear tire suddenly started hissing and let out all the air I’d just put in. So now there was an invisible piece of glass or metal in my old tire?–That for some reason hadn’t flatted the day before, but now decided to while the bike was just sitting there immobile in the garage? Okay then. With the clock ticking, it was time to get desperate. I still had to get my kit on, grab food for the race, chug the rest of my coffee, then ride 25 miles to the race. So I stole the tire and tube off of my roommate’s rear wheel and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get a third flat in the garage because I was running out of tubes and time.

The wind was in my favor and with a bit of hard riding I got to the race with 20 minutes to spare. There was a small turnout with only 30 something guys in the 1-2 field. But what few guys were there were strong, so I figured it would be somewhat of a hard race, especially with all the dirt and gravel. The course had two gravel sections per lap and five laps total. As we rolled off the start line I finished eating a bar and sat at the back. No reason to move up for a while. That decision proved wrong, as we came upon the first gravel section sooner than I’d anticipated. Mayhem erupted as we hit the extremely loose gravel. Guys swerved off to the side of the road, never to be seen again. The tiny peloton bust apart, with me near the back closing large gaps until I finally got to the front bunch before the road turned back to pavement. The hard packed dirt roads I’d heard about were more akin to riding atop sand dunes.

The group was down to less than 20 riders five miles into the race. Two guys had gotten up the road in the first couple miles and still held an advantage of 30 seconds. We soon hit the second, longer and harder, gravel section. This time only seven of us made it out together and quickly caught the two up the road to make the ‘peloton’ a group of nine. Here’s the run-down on the rest of the race:

Lap 2: Our group of nine remained together despite some attacking and poor cooperation. One Competitive Cyclist, one Optum, three Juwi Solars, one Cal Giant, two Primal Racing, one Tokyo Joe’s, me.
Lap 3: I was at the front and crashed on the second gravel section, taking out the guy behind me, completely my own fault. My front wheel just washed out in one of the many deep sand sections. Someone ran over my arm, which hurt a little. I made it out fine with a sore elbow/arm and some minor road rash. Both me and the guy I’d crashed made it back to the main group eventually. My derailleur hanger was seriously messed up though and I had trouble shifting for the rest of the race.
Lap 4: I attacked on the first gravel section, which helped get our group back down to around nine guys. I’d aided a small group of chasers get into the lead group when I’d crashed. Someone counter attacked right after I did and I hurt really badly for the next five minutes.
Lap 5: I began getting tiring and tried to do less than my fair share of work to bring back two guys that had gotten up the road at the end of lap 4. We caught them on the second gravel section and with five miles to go there were just six or seven of us left. I flatted. I cursed the race and the lack of wheel support. I changed my flat tire and rode in for 10th place.

I’ve never raced on such sketchy, loose gravel roads and I’ve never spent so much time Tokyo drifting. I imagine a large part of the reason that the Tokyo Joe’s guy won was because he’s used to that sort of maneuvering. The race, while touted by some as being too dangerous, in my opinion was fine as long as you didn’t mind risking a crash (it’s gravel after all so it’s a soft landing). Riding in that terrain was pretty technical and there was no way you could sit in if you didn’t have the legs or the balls. In fact I think it really helped my bike handling skillz. What I didn’t think was right was the lack of a wheel car. Seriously? A race that’s half gravel and you don’t have a single support car? Come on that’s just stupid and extremely lazy.

My roommate, Kim, came by to watch the second half of the race and check out the beer garden, which I think was probably a better time than racing. It was a beautiful sunny, hot day and the start/finish was right in the middle of the town park. Perfect conditions to watch a bike race, drink a beer, and eat a hot dog. I almost got a hot dog after the race but my stomach was a bit queazy, and we had plans to stop by the frozen yogurt place on the way home. So instead of riding back and making the day’s total distance 120 miles (probably too long), I got my road rash cleaned up, drove the car home, and ate frozen yogurt. Not a bad day at all despite losing another race due to a flat tire. And as an added bonus, since Kim crashed on her face the other day our house is well stocked with Tegaderm.

Back to it in Boulder

First off, I’d like to acknowledge the hard work my computer has done and the outstanding performance it’s had over the last five years. Yeah that’s right, this here laptop has been plugging away since before I even started this blog. The keyboard is so nasty now that it requires a bi-monthly cleaning by a colony of ants that lives in the walls of my room. They come in at night and exit in the morning when I turn the computer on, seeping out of the keyboard like black sand, if sand could walk. Okay I guess not like sand at all, more like small insects that resemble sand. Like ants. Anyways, they need to come back soon because there’s jam all over the letter C and buggers covering the space bar. I don’t even want to say what’s covering the number 7 and letters M, U and C.

While inanimate objects like my computer wear out over time, life will always find a way. Shit, I’ve been watching too many movies, sorry for the Jurassic Park reference. What I mean to say is that I’m always amazed at the willingness of the human body to respond and adapt to hard work and continue to repair and make itself better. If you bash your head against a wall long enough, you’ll get a callous. And brain damage, but that’s beside the point.

After a bitter cold winter of suffering through hard rides, the constant uncertainty of whether I’ll make enough money to survive out here or if I’ll have to retreat home, a terrible start to the season with sickness and bad luck, I’ve come back to Boulder even stronger than I was a few weeks ago. On Tuesday I hit some VO2 intervals with power numbers that were on the verge of being what I can do at sea level, which is pretty damn good for me. Coming after all the travel I’ve done recently and all the stress I’ve put myself through with my own lofty standards, it’s hard for me to understand how this is possible. How can our cells keep on going like this? Replenishing themselves and growing stronger all the time? Don’t they get tired? Don’t they question when this madness will end? Of course we eventually start breaking down over the years, but even when we’re 70 our cell growth continues. It’s mind baffling to me. Nothing else repairs itself like this. Glaciers melt, mountains crumble, and stars eventually go dim. A cyclist’s legs grow more veiny. (Note: I do realize that glaciers, mountains, and stars all grow at some point, but if you take a hammer to a rock it will never glue itself back together by itself).

Yesterday I rode for five hours, exploring a section of road that I’d never been on. I rode up to Estes Park, an amazing town up in the mountains that’s populated by pine trees, ravens, and Subways and surrounded by gray cliffs, white peaks, and quiet, switch-back roads. Sometimes in order to enjoy the wilderness you’ve got to build a parking lot. It began lightly snowing after I refilled my bottles and began the climb out of town, which itself sits at 7,500 ft. I got up to around 9,000 ft before the road headed back down to earth and I zipped my jacket up for a cool one-hour-long descent. The sweat in my gloves and arm warmers that had been locked in from my jacket became ice cold, but my core stayed warm from riding hard. I passed a meadow where I’d seen three gigantic moose a few months ago. I passed a semi truck, my speed rising to 51 mph, not quite fast enough to blog about, but whatever. I passed a line of cars. The cars passed me back when the road leveled out. It’s one of those awkward descents that requires pedaling. It’s not quite steep enough to coast and definitely not mellow enough to pick a nice big gear to ease mash. It was one of those descents that you ride in your 11 and spin at an annoying 110-120 rpm, tuck and coast for a few seconds, then start spinning again, and I hate spinning that fast. My legs began feeling the effort from the previous three and a half hours of riding, and I was looking forward to getting to a flat road again.

When I got home I had roughly 15 minutes to eat, shower, put on clothes, eat, stare into the fridge for a few minutes wishing I had more food to eat, and get to work without being more than five minutes late. I took 25 minutes. The next six hours were spent standing up, speed walking to and fro in the restaurant, taking orders, bringing food, seating people, cleaning the tables, de-icing people’s water glasses that I’d just brought them–for some reason they can’t just drink water with ice in it (joke’s on them, I just take their water back to the kitchen area and let the ice melt for 10 minutes, then bring them the same glass of water). When it was obvious that I was tired Abesha, the other waiter, told me to take it easy and slow down. I told her that wasn’t possible. If I’m gonna be here, I’m gonna do it fast and hard.

I began fading at around 8 o’clock. It wasn’t busy enough to keep me energized and it wasn’t slow enough for me to sit down at the bar and rest. It was sort of like that long descent on the mountain earlier on my ride. By 10 o’clock my eyes were fuzzy and stinging red, then the last customers finally left. After cleaning up and shutting the place down I got out of there at 10:30 and rode home with $32 in tips in my pocket. That should be enough to feed me for…1 day. I came home, tired but not exhausted–because only weak people get exhausted–and I stayed up way too late watching Benjamin Button on TV while I ate bits and pieces of my roommates’ food. A little ham and cheese here, a little cereal there, nothing to be missed. Only problem is that my roommates are gone for days at a time or don’t eat some of each item of their food every day like I do, so what seems like unnoticeable amounts to me becomes an entire bag to them. I kept telling myself I should just go to sleep, but my hunger and laziness to go downstairs and pump up my air mattress kept me awake. It’s hard for me to go right to sleep after a long day like that. I don’t know why. It could be that despite my mind being mush, it’s still ticking loudly. Or maybe it’s from all the coffee.

Right now I’m harnessing the energy to go ride my bike for an hour or two and get the junk out of my legs for the next two-day block. I’m thinking positive thoughts for my nervous system, glycogen stores, adrenal glands, and muscle fibers, thinking about how they’re repairing themselves and super compensating with just that tiny extra 0.001%. It adds up over time. Next up is Joe Martin and Tour of the Gila, both of which I leave for on Tuesday. The hard part is over, now all I’ve gotta do is ride the last 50 meters in first position.

Battenkill 2012

Thoughts before racing:

This is gonna be hard
That one hill is STEAP!
The gravel is gonna be sick
The whole race is gonna be sick
I get to eat a lot of food today
I probably won’t crash or get any flats
I’m probably gonna win

Thoughts during Battenkill:

Thoughts immediately after the race:

Kennett tired
Kennett REALLY thirsty
Kennett hate this race and I doesn’t care if two spectators walking by at the finish hear just how pissed off he is

Race stats:

Distance: 124 miles (two laps of a 62 miles course)
Gravel sectors: 14 (7 per lap) –note, they’re called sectors not sections.  Big difference.
Elevation gain: just under 9,000 ft
Calories I brought with me: 3,200 (though I only ate a measly 2,700)

I decided I hated the race right about the time I got my second flat, which was on the most crucial part of the course on the first lap.  I’d been riding 5-10 guys back at the front on the Becker Road gravel sector, the first of three gravel sectors in a row that make up a nine-mile stretch of dust, pain, and are home to many race-ending chunks of gravel larger than limes.  And much sharper too.  One almost broke Ian’s arm in half.  If one had hit Steve he likely would have suffered a broken torso.  If one had hit David he probably would have assumed it was a gnat.  If one had hit me it actually wouldn’t have hit me but would have instead hit my bike and broken it and Allan would have been PISSED.

I’d been feeling superb the last couple days since we got to New York, riding with that wonderful sensation in my legs that makes you question whether your power meter is reading way too high or something.  The race got underway at noon, Sunday, under sunny skies and 70-degree, muggy air.  We’d ridden parts of the course the two days before, though almost half of what we’d ridden had been sections of the cat 1/2 race, which I’d mapped for the turn-by-turn using Ride With GPS.  For some reason the website liked to call the cat 1/2 race the pro race as well, which made the route-finding extremely difficult, considering there were like 32 different maps on the website and half of them had “pro route” in their title.  Anyways, we knew that there were two main sections of the two-lap course that we NEEDED to be at the front for.  25 miles into the race there was a super steep stair step climb, in total about a five or eight minute effort, which was immediately followed by a fast descent and then a fast, false flat downhill gravel section.  The other place that was crucial to have good positioning was at the start of the 9-mile gravel sector (three separate sectors separated by two short stints of pavement).  The lead up to this gravel sector was hard in itself, located right outside of a “large” town that involved some turns and a few short steep hills.  Both of these crucial sections of the race had feed zones right before them, which made feeding extremely difficult and risky.

I got my first flat roughly 15 miles into the race right after the third gravel section.  Ironically I didn’t flat in the gravel sector itself, but right after it on a corner that had like five pieces of gravel on the pavement.  I thought that it was a bad place to have a mechanical, since the pack had broken up over the last couple miles and was strung out in the crosswind with gaps.  I kept riding hard for a minute in the strung out line I was in, in order to make it to the top of a little riser so that I’d be able to get some quick speed for drafting the caravan back to the pack once I got the wheel change.

The Mavic neutral support got to me fast and had me rolling again in no time.  Five minutes later, with the hardest effort of the race in my legs so far, I was safely in the group, which was now bunched up into some headwind.  Crisis averted.

Leading into the Jim Bean climb (that really steep one I was talking about earlier), the pace went way up as the sprint for the base of the hill ensued.  I found Gabe’s wheel somewhere near the front and he went up the left side with me right behind, making it to the very front just in time to start the climb.  I knew how important it would be to not directly follow any hard accelerations, since there were so many kickers at the top, plus a possible strong crosswind up at the top there as well.  I did most of the climb riding in the top 5 or10 wheels, then slowly let a few guys pass me once we got to those rollers at the very top so I didn’t have to jump quite as hard during Mancebo and the other fast climbers’ attacks.  David and Gabe were right up there with me as we crested the top and barreled down the backside, heading into the fourth gravel sector of the first lap.

Once we hit the gravel, hands were going up all over the place, signaling flat tires.  I prayed my rubber was strong and wouldn’t break.  It held, for the time being.  The peloton had been shredded like cheese behind me at this point, from the climb, the gravel, and all the flats on the gravel, but it came back together pretty quickly once we hit the next flat headwind section.  It was the perfect time to attack, but Steve beat me to it.

He went with Competitive Cyclist rider Max Jenkins and they immediately stretched their lead to two minutes as the peloton scratched its groin and looked around for someone to do the work.  They stayed off for a good chunk of that lap but were reeled in on the 9-mile gravel sector.  A few miles after Steve had gotten away, Optum and Kenda took charge of things as we came into the town of Greenwhich.  Being the designated Map and Route Finders for the past two reconnaissance rides our team did on Friday and Saturday, Steve and I had thoroughly warned everyone to be at the front after we went through Greenwhich, 40 miles into the race and a few miles before the fan got shitty.

I worked my way up, using some energy on the hills outside of town to guarantee myself a spot at the front.  I found David just before the last couple turns and we both began the 9-mile gravel sector right at the front.

Moments into gravel I realized that I was hurting.  The road seemed flat and the gravel wasn’t even that thick here either.  Why was this hurting so much?  I finally came to terms that it was, indeed, uphill, which made me feel better about the suffering I was doing, which in turn made it feel like I wasn’t suffering that bad after all.  The gradual climb turned to a descent and we took a breather.  I think I saw Jesse barrel past in the thickest part of the gravel without blinking an eye.

A mile or two later, once things were flat again and we were almost out of the first of these three gravel sectors, I was still right up at the front and feeling good.  This didn’t last for long, for I suddenly realized my rear wheel was bouncing.  I panicked.  This was not the time for a flat.  I looked back and there was carnage.  The lead bubble at that point was only like 25 guys, followed by a strung out line of riders that stretched back into the ever-increasing dust storm.  I kept riding hard in the group until my tire was completely void of air.  I kept looking back hoping to see the yellow Mavic car or one of the motorcycles coming up behind us so I could get a super fast wheel change.  This was not to be, and I ended up dismounting when I couldn’t keep a straight line any more and waited for quite a while on the side of the road.  By the time the wheel car got to me and had the new wheel on, I was minutes down on any sizeable group.  Joe found me and began pacing me back up through the caravan and the chaos of the other dropped riders.  The dust thickened to the point of me not being able to see more than a few cars lengths up the road.  I weaved in and out of cars and other riders, all while hoping to avoid the largest of the rocks in the road.  A small hill presented a cyclocross situation during an especially thick sand pit and I had to dismount and run up the hill 15 meters before I got back on again.  I continued to pass a lot of people and slowly made my way through the caravan.  If I could make it all the way through this and the final gravel sector in the caravan I had a chance at pacing back on when it became pavement again and the pace at the front let up (not sure if it did).  But I had to do it before the peloton got to the last gravel sector of the lap, which had a big hill in it.  If I wasn’t at least within a cyclist’s stone throw of them at that point, it was game over.

I took a long power feed from Joe and a final draft on his bumper and passed him on a descent (still in the gravel).  I barreled down the hill, my thin road tires buried in the loose stones, Tokyo drifting but not caring.  I was going to get back in the race, God damn it.

I heard a hissing sound.  I was not making it back in the race.  My rear tire was flat again, the third and final flat of the day.  I was furious now and screamed fuck multiple times as loud as I possibly could as I came to a stop.  The riders whom I’d just passed a few minutes ago went by me.  I’d only been riding for 10 minutes and my wheel was already flat again.  This was due, in part, to bad luck, but also to the neutral support’s failure to put more than 60 PSI in the tires they’d given me.

Joe screeched to a halt at the bottom of the hill behind me when he saw me get off the bike.  He jumped out of the car (jumped is a loose term) and replaced my rear wheel.  I got back on and hammered.  Joe passed and I was on my own, off and on for the next 15 miles as I burned passed lone riders and groups of weaklings.  I’d pull with them for a few minutes, see that they’d already given up, and I’d leave them behind for the next group up the road.  I couldn’t believe people were willing to call it quits already.  I smashed up the final gravel sector climb and caught my teammate Gabe near the top.  He and I took turns until the start/finish line, going by other deflated groups on the road like they were standing still.  It was all for nothing.  A race official blew a whistle at the finish line and motioned to us to stop and that our race was over.  The peloton, I learned later, had only been 3-4 minutes up the road (uncatchable but still no reason to cut us).  Honest Gabe stopped, but I continued on in defiance, out of anger, out of hope that I’d be able to somehow catch back on, but also due to the sheer fact that I’d eaten a monumental amount of food the night before and the morning of the race and there was no way I was racing less than five hours today.

So I did the last 62 miles of the race completely alone, going close to as hard as I thought I could hold for the next three hours.  I felt like I could also use the intensity that a high altitude athlete can only get from riding at sea level.  It was a lonely and futile pursuit and I really couldn’t be considered a part of the race at that point, but I wanted to get my money’s worth of hurt.  I felt sooooo strong!  Too bad I was 20 minutes down.

I’d only had three bottles and by now I was 90 miles into the race.  I became increasingly thirsty.  I scanned the ground for bottles and feed bags, the sides of houses for hoses and water spickets, I even thought about stopping at a creek.  I eventually broke down and stopped on the side of the road to pick up a bottle that had been tossed in the grass.  It was less than half full and contained as stranger’s spit, and it was delicious.  It saved me.

I crossed the finish line just under 5.5 hours, pretty well spent, but not in the race intense way that I’d hoped for, like the three finishers on our team (Steve, Ian and David).  David and Ian were our top finishers at 20th and 22nd.

Conclusions about the race after I had a day to think about it:

The race is awesome.  I just had terrible luck, like a lot of people.  Sometimes you make your own luck with flats and crashes, though this was not one of those cases so I have nothing to take away in terms of lessons learned from this weekend.  Basically all I can say is that shit happens and at least I had good legs.  There’s always next year.  It’s just a shame that we don’t have more races like this in the States.  We have a thousand crits but only one classic.

More pictures to come. Maybe.

Pre Battenkill ramblings

Last weekend I went to Quinn and Allie’s wedding in Portland.  Being the first wedding I’d been to since I was six, and the first formal event I’d partaken in since prom, I had no suit to wear.  This problem was resolved on the way home from the airport, as my dad had a particularly good Salvation Army in mind that was on our route.  The suit I chose was maroon, tight, and smelled extremely old.  It still does, even after I put it through the washing machine.  It actually made all my other clothes in the wash smell bad and old too.

The wedding was a lot of fun, and it was especially nice for me since I hadn’t seen a lot of them peoples in half a year.  I danced hard, ate a lot of good food, and even got some great training advice from Mel, Jacob’s mom.  But back on track, the food being served was buffet style: a make your own salad with lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, raspberry sauce, crumbled feta blue cheese, and red olives.  Then there were fried potatoes, bread, a spiral pasta dish with some sort of cheese sauce and SALMON.  There was SO much salmon in that pasta dish it could, in fact, be called a salmon dish.  Half salmon half pasta.  It was amazing.  Then there was steak with two kinds of sauce to dip/pour on: a wine cheese one and a brown one that was sweater.  I ate so much food that I was still eating during all the toasts and speeches.  I was still eating when Allie fed Quinn cake.  I was still eating when they had their first dance.  I ate so much food that I only had room for one small piece of wedding cake.  I was extremely angry at myself for this.  But in some strange butterfly effect, the universe granted me another piece of cake a few days ago at the Ethiopian restaurant.  A group of people had brought their own chocolate cake to the restaurant to celebrate someone’s birthday.  When they were done with everything and I was getting them the check, I somewhat jokingly asked if they needed any help with the rest of that cake.  They laughed and said, “sure, you want a piece?”  I’m not sure they were being serious, but my smile faded instantly and my face turned ashen.  “Yes.  Yes I would,” I replied.  And it was delicious.

It feels like forever since I last raced.  I can’t really count the races I’ve done in CA this year as race days, since I lasted like 2.03 minutes in each.  I’m heading to Battenkill right now, which is a one-day race in Cambridge, New York.  It’s the only “spring classic” we have in the states, and involves numerous gravel sections and some steep rolling climbs.  It should suit me well and I’m extremely motivated to crush it here since it’s one of the courses I feel that suits me perfectly.  I was hoping for cold rain, but it looks like it’s going to be 70 degrees with a chance of showers.  So we might get some mud if we’re lucky.  (Sidenote: maybe it’s good that it won’t be cold, since on the first segment of my flight I was so cold I tucked my arms into my track jacket like a middle schooler.  Why does everyone immediately turn the air on, blasting them in the face and creating a human fridge in the cabin?  I think everyone is secretly scared, and therefore sweating and needing the air to cool and calm them down.  I always cross my fingers for a plane crash, because that would be a really cool way to die.  And if I survived it would be an awesome story.  In fact if this next plane is as cold as the first one I think I’ll just open the hatch and jump out, which would be an even cooler way to die.)

Wise Guru Coach Sam Ginsing has been packing on the sprints and hard intervals during the last week.  I’ve done so many sprints I have a bruised forearm where my arm presses up against the top part of my handlebars.  It’s only on the right side, so it’s obvious I have some unequal thrashing of the upper body going on.  But to even things out I gouged a large wound in my other forearm while attempting to loosen my pedals—the shark teeth of the large chain ring got me.  Battenkil should prove much more painful, and I hope it lives up to the expectations we all have for it.

Some sports are about teamwork, having fun in the sun, some require specific technique or skill, etc.  Bike racing is some of all of those, but it’s mainly about suffering.  And by suffering, I mean making other people hurt and feel bad about themselves in ways that may or may not make them decide to quit the sport and pick up crocket or something.  I think most of us were born with an extra large batch of evil in us that needs a way to get out, and inflicting pedal pain on our rivals is the best way to relieve the pent up meanness.  A pickup game of basketball has an entirely different feel than a group hammer fest ride, with one involving high fives and the other involving tearing oneself apart to make sure everyone else is hurting at least the same or hopefully more.

Bike racers are a lot like those religious fanatics who whip themselves on the back for Jesus.  As a bike racer you have two whips, one in your left hand whipping your own backs, and another in your right hand whipping someone else’s.  And there’s actually a third whip in the mix, held by someone else who’s whipping you.  So, depending on the size of your whip, I guess you can only inflict half as much pain on others as you yourself are experiencing.