ma vie en rouge

Here’s a story about hubris and the 2014 Rouge Roubaix.

Given that I was planning to scratch from the race on account of knee pain just 24 hours before it began, I’d say my 21st place finish was fair. Given that I suffered a major mechanical at the foot of Big Bertha when my chain was spit off the bottom of my cassette and jammed between the spokes and cassette, I’d say my 21st place finish was inspired. And given that I rode off course and got lost for a good few minutes, I’d say that my arrival at the finish at all was astronomically improbable.

Of course I didn’t feel this way upon finishing. Despite knowing I had severely overtrained myself in California the week before, climbing 11,000′ in 3 days and 120 miles, I failed to manage my expectations for this race. I saw my decision to ride and subsequent performance as all or nothing; either the pain would be too much to ride at all, or I would clip in and set the world (or at least the area north of Baton Rouge) ablaze. Unfortunately my optimism was blocking me from realizing that my control of the situation ended at deciding to race. My performance would be what it would be, despite the emotional investment I had made in believing I could shine if I got lucky.

When my performance turned out to feel subpar, I wasn’t exactly surprised. But when my drivetrain went to salad, I felt not only unlucky, but heartbroken. Even following a knee-electrifying bridge back up to the group after having to take an involuntary nature break, I managed to hang on to a competitive position at the final climb, the real climax of the race. I had come so far against such odds. It was a Cinderella Story until the pumpkin carriage exploded its transmission. The wheel truck guys offered a poor prognosis for dislodging the chain, and offered me a ride. I politely declined, insisting “I’ll break this wheel before I quit!” My tenacity paid off, as I dislodged a couple bights of chain and tackled the climb. Again there was a shred of hope. A frayed strand of knee tendon, barely visible in the light, but a shred nonetheless.

The shred tore away, figuratively, when I meandered off course after the climb. I quickly realized I had made a mistake when I couldn’t see ANYBODY ahead of me. It seemed like a fittingly hopeless ending to a hopeless race, and started to weigh on me. I was drowning in despair and without a drop of water to drink. Fortunately for my soul, and my more corporeal extension, Wes appeared in classic deus ex machina fashion. He filled my spirit with vigor and my bidon with water. Together we rode in to the finish.

I was glad to have completed the race of course, but was unable to help but feel pretty bummed because of all that had gone wrong. I should have enjoyed this moment a lot more. I made the mistake of focusing on the turd sandwich moments when I should have been gazing upon the whole enchilada.

You can wear the rose colored glasses, if you like. If you prefer, you can see red. Either way, you’re not seeing the race in living color and that’s the only way to view it if you want to set achievable goals. And if you are like me, and tend to put so much motivational value in success, to the point of an emotional investment, you really need to be honest with yourself and keep your head straight.


YYR Turns One!

Rougly one solar orbit in the past, when the Earth was in this same general location and position, I was sitting down with Boedi at a coffee shop to discuss a possible pet project collaboration. Boedi and I had met and become friends the summer before, ripping around on tarck bikes, racing alleycats, and once even showing up for the Tuesday Time Trials on the lakefront on said tarck bikes.  Quickly it became apparent that we had a similar vision for what the biking scene in New Orleans could be, and how we could use our powers to make it better.

So we sat down to lay the foundation for what would become Yeah You Ride. We had no budget, and only the most nebulous of ideas about what we would do with a blog; what type of content we would create, who our audience would be, how we would promote it, etc. But one thing was clear. Boedi and I were both competitive, and racing was going to play a big role in what YYR would be. Before we had a name or a web domain, we had a plan for an alleycat race. That race, Spring Brake Yrself, was a huge success in our eyes and shaped what was to come in many ways. We had no idea at the inception of YYR just how far we would delve into the world of racing, or how many possibilities this project would present us.

Here we are, a year later. 300+ beautiful followers on the Facebooks, and going into our first real road season as part of a USAC team. We never dreamed we would be here on that cold winter day that YYR was born. We never thought we would do a lot of the things we did this year, like ride a bike with gears and brakes, shave our legs, or refer to ourselves as ‘cyclists.’ It’s been a year of firsts, and hopefully a few lasts, ups, downs, ins, outs and all around excellence.

Before we say anything else, we’d like to say Thanks. That’s capital-T Thanks to everyone who is reading this, who has ever read any of this banter, and especially those who have read it and despite better judgment will continue to read it as long as it may pervade the internet. Thanks to all the racers who have come out to our alleycats, goldsprints, cross races, and other cycling fiascoes. Huge thanks to the shops and businesses that have sponsored and supported our events. Not only would YYR be impossible without your attention and support, it would be utterly pointless. We love you and can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

But before we rush headlong into this annum novum, lets take a pause for the cause and reflect on the madness that was Year One.

Spring Brake Yrself 2013
Our maiden voyage in alleycat planning, or really doing anything organized, for that matter, was pulled off without a hitch with a lot of help from awesome volunteers. We managed to draw out a crowd of 67, including 2 tandems and a pedicab, on a beautiful April afternoon. The race seemed really well received by all competitors, and we believe enforced a standard for how rad an alleycat should be. One of the greatest measures of success, in our estimation, is the afterparty. People stuck around 12 Mile Limit for a long time, mingling, putting away more than 200 free New Belgium beers, and chowing some choice BBQ. This is what we wanted to see from jump. Strangers coming together over bike racing and having a bitchin’ time. This was when we first started believing we could make something happen with YYR.

YYR Goes Quasi-Pro
When we started tooling around on road bikes, I don’t think there was any real endgame or primary objective in sight, aside from the deep seated urge to always get faster. Being part of a real racing team hardly seemed like an option for a bunch of greenhorns like ourselves, but soon we realized how necessary banding together was for winning, and we like winning. Drawing on some great friendships formed through Semi-Tough Cycling Club’s “Tuesday Loops” training ride, and some solid advice from our new friends in Austin, Beat The Clock, we laid the groundwork for what would become our team. All that was missing was a sponsor, and in typical fashion, the universe did provide. Wes McWhorter of Rouler had been harboring a dream for many moons of having a race team to call his own. With Rouler’s social mission of lowering the bar to entry for competitive riding, and YYR’s background as ex-messengers and track bike goons turned legit racers, our visions seemed to dovetail perfectly. Before we knew it, we were part of a real, live USAC recognized team. While I never dreamed it would happen, it is a dream we have been living since early last fall.

The Mud and The Blood and The Beer
“I don’t know if this cyclocross business is for me. . .” I told Robinson one day while we were slaving over transforming an abandoned golf course into a CX field of dreams. Fortunately, we were too invested in greenskeeping by this point for me to back out. Boedi and I fell madly in love with CX. Everyone involved with DSGP worked really hard, and it proved to be a really awesome opportunity to make new friends and rivals across the LAMBRA district. Next season promises to be even more exciting, with an expanded racing schedule, including the possibility of double-header weekends and night races. This has been, and will continue to be a project we are stoked to work on.

It has been a peach of a year and we dug every minute of it with you. Keep your eyes on us in the year to come, as we put together some top-notch events and continue to bring you all the dirt on bush-league racing in New Orleans.

Rich + Boedi