Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Ringer

Let old Blanco Suave tell you a little cross racing tale. See, the Suave is what you might call a cross aficionado. I’ve been into it for way too long, and paid my dues. I’ve raced the mountain bike short-track on the drop bars and persevered until the local yokel heathens saw the cross light and started realizing what fun a real cross course is. Not just a jungle cross-not that jungle cross isn’t fun- but a real, honest to goodness, actually can pass someone, shorter than three mile, sometimes even bits of pavement, cross course.

Of course I’ll take the credit for that, not all the publications, web sites and industry types touting the cross scene as the next big thing. No, it was Blanco Suave out there pimping to the unwashed masses.(And by masses, I mean the same dummies that show up every year to finish in roughly the same order, regardless of the course or equipment in cross.)

So anywhoo, the Suavesters done all the requisite cross pilgrimages and immersed himself in the cross culture. I’ve started in the traditional cross story by building a frankenbike on the cheap and worked all the way up to multiple bikes and carbon tubulars. I am unabashedly a cross whore and Blanco Suave doesn’t give a shit what you think. I’’ll buy and acquire any type or quality of equipment and race on it and be damned happy it helped me to 7th overall in the men’s B field. I like it, so I have it. Suck on it, Patsy.

Anywhoowhoo, with all of the blinging gear that exists in cross now, it’s easy even for me, Blanco Suave, to get caught up in the arms race and want the newest, latest, greatest, shit. Couple that with an industry job, and the parts aren’t so unobtainium. Having Portland’s cross scene, access to cost of goods way below wholesale, and a magazine and web site fetish only adds fuel to the Blanco fire. Yeah, that’s right. I’m sporting the shit. Spare me your old school rant on how back in the day, blah blah blah whatever. I’ll ride what I want to ride. If you have questions, please refer to the last sentence in the previous paragraph.

Moving on with the story for real this time. I forget sometimes that not everybody rolls the Bentley gear come cross season and that sometimes, they even sport the odd ATB. WTF? didn’t everybody get the memo two years ago about how cross is the new whatever, and how your only cool if you have enough gear at the races to make Sven Nijs blush, even though your only competing for 12th out of 10 in the old, slow, fat, and employable division?

Long story short. (For real, I promise!) Blanco Suave hasn’t been riding nearly as much as he did last year or no way close enough to justify his gear. Mrs. Suave gives the Kitchen Pass to travel to Redding to race some December cross. Picture this, Blanco and Ale-Prop roll to the start/finish area of the race with multiple bikes and not only multiple wheels, but glued on and sewn-up multiple wheels that most of the local crew on their ATB’s have never heard of. Of course there are a couple of local hotshots that recognize the gear from an article in VeloNews and decide such foreign(probably Belgian) gear signals the showing of a (and I’m quoting the actual verbiage used) “Ringer”!

Well, Blanco Suave’s been called lots of thing, but ringer ain’t one of them. I figure the best plan of action is to walk the walk before I have to talk the talk. So I walk the course sans bike, ride it way slow and early on, and then warm up on the trainer until race time so as to maximize the psyche-out. I mark the guy in the only other skinsuit and then the gun goes off and it’s on like Donkey Kong. A few bumbles and stumbles and Blanco needs Ale-Prop to reel in the big fish and haul his ass back into the fold. Luckily, Ale-Prop is all about riding hard and blowing himself up in his first year of A’s, and I bridge back. I trade a few blows with Skinsuit and Niner Noel and finally finish in second. It’s an awesome course, and the racing is tight. Alessandro Cristacchi hooned on the locals until his 45 minute legs were riding into the last bits of his 65 minute race. The kids gonna wind up wailing as soon as he gets the whole cross suffering/masochism/suppression of survival instincts/ self doubt down. Even Blanco Suave made old Niner Noel barf and was able to look back on a pretty good day of racing. Redding is just lucky that the whole Blanco Suave training program basically consists of not drinking at lunch plus treachery and deceit. Wait ‘till next year when the fitness catches back up with the smack talk. I’m gonna go all Sven Nijs on their asses. Let’s see what Mr. Skinsuit has to say, then.

Oh Yeah, I don’t feel like posting any pictues right now. Deal with it.

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