Winning (one of my secrets)
In the end cycling is about racing. Being faster than the next guy. Be it to the line or the coffee shop. Winning is everything. Losing is for…erm … well …. Losers!!
A key component of winning is to recognise anyone at ANY age who may represent a threat and begin to deal with them immediately. On or off the bike.
How does a wise old head like me deal with this rash of new cashed up corporate wannabes??? Well, conversation for a start.
Let me fill you in about a much loved tactic I have employed recently.
Tactic One: The Compliment
Sometimes I spot a bloke who looks like he might present a problem. He might be fit, on a good solid bike and have some handling skills BUT crucially he will be new to cycling.
First of all I would slide in the odd compliment at the end of a pace session or after he had done a turn. Win his trust. Have him think you have his best interests at heart and you want to share your experience.
Next I would try to end up next to him and chat about things on a ride. It is most important that you start in with suggestions at the right speed. Don’t be too eager. “You know… you look like you could do a good kilo….” Steer him into going into track, offer to coach or help. Here’s the thing, only suggest he swap to track in the middle of the road season. Have him start with lots of Gym work, standing starts etc. This is especially good if you don’t have a nearby velodrome, having him driving for hours to get to the track should really slow him down.
Finally as the track season starts, change tack and convince him that long road races are his thing. What you have to do is have him preparing for the next season but never doing it.
Last of all, in Australia, you should be able to finish him by convincing him cyclo-cross is where he will find success. By then he could own a road bike, a track bike, a road going fixed wheel bike, a mountain bike, a road time trial bike and be considering buying a cyclo-cross bike. The strain on his finances, time and personal life should keep him from being competitive at your local crit. Job done!
Tactic Two: Position, Position, Position
Similar to the above but not everyone has that sort of money.
With this tactic science is your friend. Begin by asking about who “set him up” on his bike. Appear worried. Again, offer to help except this time it will be constant changes to his position on the bike. You need to win his trust first, it is sickening but worth it for the win.
Raise the seat, lower the seat, seat forward, seat back!
Longer cranks, shorter cranks. (make sure he sells the ones he removes because he will “never need them again”)
Long stems, short stems, deep bars, shallow bars, wide bars, narrow bars.
Don’t get me started on cleat shims to make up for his legs being different lengths.
The key is don’t let him get comfortable.
The other benefit here is you may be able to offer to buy some of his discards as a favour. Hardly used cheap bike parts! Gold for you or ebay!
Tactic Three: Telecommunications
This is the hardest. Ring him all the time. Ring at 4am to remind him of the 5:30 ride. Ring him five times on Friday night to change the meeting time and location for the Saturday morning ride.
Ring at 5:00 am on Thursday to invite him on a previously unmentioned ride at 6:00. Always advise the opposite. If the group will be out for hours, say it is short. If it is a hammer session, say it is a roll. (Never let on, talk about what a nice steady pace it was on Sunday even if everyone was on the rivet).
This can be hard because you have to be awake yourself to do it. The difference is you know what you are doing … I’ve never managed to do this for more than six months. He moved to another city. Victory.
Some may be shocked at how cold all this is but in the end a win is a win is a win… no matter what. I had it done to me so you can expect… never mind.
ABOUT THE CRANK BY JOHN CASKEY
The Crank is the embodiment of archetypal cranky veteran bike riders, whose worn out bike riding stories are embellished each time they are recounted. Hard as nails The Crank is a devious scoundrel who rides roughshod over anyone who has the misfortune to meet him. This Crank story by John Caskey.