The Racers Edge

Well, winters end is in sight. All over Gainesville cyclists are crawling out of their caves, sniffing the wind and grunting in disgust at their pale, flabby, maggot-like legs. It's now time to reawaken our bodies to many hours of gleeful soreness desperately believing next week we'll actually enjoy Mebane Hill.

Assuming Roger and Craig actually print this drivel, I wish to offer a few tips to new riders to help them through the difficult spring training period.

1. Start slowly. Real slowly. Ride to Bageland with the latest VeloNews. Argue with the boys hard enough to activate your monitors A.T. beeper. Order one plain bagel and decaf. Take one bite and go back for the cream cheese and real coffee. Time trial home in the small ring.

2. Your next ride should not exceed 18 mph. Cruise out drag-strip road (nice and flat) for about three hours. Carry two pop-tarts and gulp down a 46-ounce fountain coke in La Crosse. Pick up a tailwind and rage home. What an animal you are!

3. Now pick group rides large enough to hide in. Avoid taking pulls at all costs. Surf the back where its nice and warm. Mumble vague excuses about skipping gears or too much beer last night. Fake a hacking cough and blow your nostrils; riders will insist you stay on the back now. If one of the Homeboys rudely insists its your turn at the front, arrange it just before a stop sign. When everyone bunches up, quickly sink to the back again. Ahh!

I'd now like to say a few words about safety. Early season rides often include beginners unfamiliar with the inherent dangers of group rides, new-fangled equipment, and impatient Homeboys.

Never show up on a group ride with tri-bars. Not only are they as dangerous as marbles on a waxed floor, they mark you as a tri-head squirrel. Although most triathletes are OK bike handlers, this is a road ride, not a techno parade. Tri-heads belong at the back usually ending up there anyway. If you want to bolt a jungle gym to your bike, find another playground.

Eventually people start sprinting for signs. Any city or county limits sign qualifies for these wilting, lemming-like surges. Be ready for them. Live in fear of them. Avoid them at least until you've watched a few. As the green sign looms on the horizon you'll suddenly notice people nervously tightening their velcro and twitching their gears up and down. Some move nonchalantly to the outside to have a clear line. Ka Pow! Somebody stands up and rockets off the front and an insane conga line streaks forward and then fans out across both lanes.

Now, sign sprints are fast, furious, and fun, but also dangerous. Momma always taught me to look both ways before crossing the street, but few cyclists bother to in the heat of a sprint. Assume there is a car trying to pass you from behind. Assume the driver gives a rats ___ whether or not you win Bland, Florida.

Next issue, Just who is a Homeboy and why are they so rude?

Gainesville Cycling Club Web Site