Time Machine Tuesday

Over at Teh Twitters yesterday a gent praised a non-rant I’d written way back in 2002, saying it was one of his “all-time favorites.”

I had forgotten about it — these things vanish from my consciousness about a nanosecond after I hit the “Send” button — so I looked it up, and y’know, I kinda liked it myself. Even an old blind dog finds a tasty Milk-Bone now and then, it seems.

Written when we still lived in Weirdcliffe, it was prompted by a reader’s complaint (one of many, actually) that my stuff was too negative, which it can be. That my VeloNews.com column was christened “Friday’s Foaming Rant” didn’t help. A label like that tends to set a certain tone, and when I wandered off the Rantinista reservation other critics would jeer, “Call that a rant?” You can’t win.

But if two of us liked it, it must not be entirely lame, so here it is, reprinted in all its faded glory for your entertainment.

Friday’s non-foaming unrant: Let’s roll

“How about something positive to say — about anything? You wear me down.” — a critical e-mail from VeloNews.com reader Cary Smith

By Patrick O’Grady

I love a good, long road ride, especially one of those midweek flights of fancy that gobbles up the better part of a perfectly good workday while the proletariat slouches in its cubicles, staring forlornly into space, like trailer-park mutts on short chains.

When I lived in Colorado Springs, and had teammates who were either entrepreneurs or slackers and thus could set their own schedules, I could count on two or three of these rides a week, generally on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thursday’s ride was the best, because it drew a small group with a keen appreciation of getting away with something. Anybody can do a long ride on the weekend, but it takes a little Tom Sawyer DNA to slam the till, flip the “Open” sign over to “Closed,” and meet your buds for a four-hour ride with hot java or strong drink afterward.

One of our favorite rides from back in the day went south on Highway 115 to Penrose and back.

One of our favorite rides from back in the day went south on Highway 115 to Penrose and back.

We’d hook up at 10 a.m., usually at Boulder Park at the corner of Boulder and Hancock, then head out, spinning little gears and shooting the shit. Sometimes we’d ride east on Highway 24 for some relatively flat pedaling in the plains, occasionally veering north into the hilly Black Forest for lower temperatures and higher gradients. Or we might roll north to the Air Force Academy, home to the ’86 road world’s, for the good pavement and even better climbing, drifting later into Gleneagle and Black Forest, this time from the west.

More often than not, though, we’d ride out Hancock toward the defunct horse-racing track south of Fountain, now Pikes Peak International Raceway, a playground for motorheads. It wasn’t a difficult ride, just a few rolling hills, but we’d spice it up with road-sign sprints, impulsive attacks, gleeful counters and grim chases.

First we’d noodle along Hancock to Astrozon, which looped over to the shoulderless single-file of Drennan, hang a right onto broad-shouldered Powers, then a left onto Bradley toward the first sprint of the day, a fast downhill whose finish line was the “Begin County Maintenance” sign, which also served as the “Begin Peeing” marker for the overcaffeinated.

Remounting, we’d head south on Marksheffel for a short, flat spin toward the second road-sign sprint, which always caught someone by surprise, probably because it popped up like the Tour’s Devil after a blind right-hand turn.

My sprint was and is non-existent — I have fewer fast-twitch muscles than a three-toed sloth with a bad smack habit — so instead of waiting for the final 100 meters, I’d launch these absurd, big-gear, Viatcheslav Ekimov assaults from a kilometer out, especially on the short hill on Link Road that prefaced the third sprint, another fast one, and slightly downhill.

Mostly they didn’t work, any more than Eki’s did, because anyone with a pulse and a brain stem learns to recognize the bozo who starts winding up his sprint from a different time zone. Still, they were a giggle, especially once I realized I could shut off the alarm on my heart-rate monitor and thus preserve what little remained of the element of surprise after riding with the same mob on the same routes for several years: “Aw, Christ, there goes O’Grady again….”

My favorite venue for this sort of idiocy lay on the return leg, the long, gradual ascent of Marksheffel back to Highway 94, where we’d turn left for the final road-sign sprint of the day. We’d start winding it up just past Drennan, the paceline humming along like the Enterprise speed-shifting through the warps, until one by one, guys skipped their turns at the front, then slipped off the back, squeaking woefully like asthmatic Tribbles.

I think it was Bill Baughman who christened this ruthless thin-the-herd scenario “The Marksheffel Plan,” but I can’t recall who drafted it, if anyone. Marksheffel was just one of those perfectly set up, 180-beats-a-minute-til-you-spew, team-time-trial grinders that a guy could use to break his friends’ legs, if he had a solid pair of his own and a sadistic streak to drive them. It was tailor-made for the sort of cruel bastard who writes 750-word rants for a living — short, ugly and painful for all concerned.

As often as not, of course, it was me getting spit out the back like a chunk of stale PowerBar. But no matter how thorough my schooling on any given Thursday, I’d be up there forcing the pace on the next, trying to find out who had the legs that day, hoping it was me.

The Marksheffel Plan was one of the things I missed the most when we left the Springs for Custer County back in 1996. And six years later, as I roll off for another solo mountain-bike ride on the trails of Bear Basin Ranch, I miss it even more.

So I was secretly delighted when my wife’s new dream job turned out to be in Golden, west of Denver. She doesn’t have to pull a nine-to-five in the office, but the honchos would like her a little closer than three hours south by southwest and 3,000 feet up, so we’re going to be looking for a place somewhere near what passes for civilization in these parts — and I’m lobbying for Colorado Springs. I could stand to add some road mileage and lose some weight, and I know just the place to do it.

Mr. Baughman, execute The Marksheffel Plan. Warp factor nine.

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35 Responses to “Time Machine Tuesday”

  1. David R Says:

    You’re right – it IS good. Not negative enough for me though…

  2. sharon Says:

    I loved the Foaming Rant. Always looked forward to reading it. How many of those guys you used to ride with are still riding. Over the years, I’ve lost so many riding pals to other hobbies. But the good news is that I always seem to find new ones too.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Sharon. Like you, I’ve lost a lot of riding pals — some to moves, others to schedule changes. Most of my rides are solo now because my schedule (and fitness/personality, or lack thereof) doesn’t mesh with the traditional weekend-riding model.

      But hey, now I never get dropped. …

  3. khal spencer Says:

    180 beats per minute? Hmm…I remember those days and they are increasingly long ago. Nowdays, if I can hold 165 bpm for any length of time and surge to 170 or so for brief interludes while headed up Camp May Road or into the Jemez on Route 4, I feel like its a good day in BombTowne.

    So Early Geezerhood officially greets me on Friday. Can’t wait for the flurry of AARP stuff to show up in the Inbox. Hopefully, it will be warm enough for me to hang out the Closed sign around lunchtime and do a celebratory ride up the ski hill before the official roast starts whenever my significant other has planned it. Rumor has it my mass spec teammates are chipping in for a bottle of Grecian Formula, a cane, some old man vitamins, and a walker….

    Miss those Foaming Rants, too, Patrick. They always brought a bit of glee to my Friday, being the evil sarcastic bastard that I am.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      Happy B’Day Khal. 60 is no big deal, at least as much as I can remember about it.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Thanks, Patrick. I’ll hoist a beer to all here.

        Maynard Hershon was just down in Santa Fe. He said he just turned 72. He looks as light and lively as ever. If one takes care of #1, #1 takes care of you….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, I used to time-trial at 180-185 bpm. I recall hitting 202 once on a hill sprint in training (I went totally cross-eyed and nearly fell over).

      You gonna ride your age in miles or drink it in beers?

      • khal spencer Says:

        Kinda depends on the weather in these parts. If its warm enough, I might do a ride, but probably not sixty….might have to split it up between miles and beers.

    • Sharon Says:

      Happy Birthday on Friday Khal. Oh heck, enjoy this whole week, you’re as young as you will ever be – that deserves a little celebration or two…or three…

  4. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    Count me as one more fan of the Foaming Rant. Hell it’s how I eventually wound up here.

    But I have to say…weekly 4 hourish rides? And now you’re stoked for a once a week 90 minutes? Oh how the mighty fall….you’re not giving me much to look forward to with the eventual dotage days.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      This was nearly 20 years ago, mind you. I just checked my 1995 training log and I was doing 200-300-mile weeks … in January. But in those days I raced cyclo-cross through December and started up road and multisport stuff in February (Skyline Drive Time Trial, Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon).

      It helps to ride with other people when you’re logging that kind of saddle time. I don’t think I could do it solo.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        Well I’m only 15 or so years off your schedule and I just logged 3.5 hours of “saddle time” to wind up with 20 miles.

        Admitted we were on fixed gears and looking for chelada beers (one good thing from badwiper). All missions accomplished and despite below 20 temps, I was never really cold. Now I’ve got a free Neko Case CD to jam before bed. Thanks Kelli!

  5. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    I enjoy great writing, seasoned by exceptional wit and humor, whether a rant or not. That is why we are here.

  6. Larry T. Says:

    The Foaming Rants are usually great. Non-foaming can be good too. I remember rides like these from my SoCal daze. Now I get to do some of those in Italy with paying clients if they go slow enough for me to keep up, otherwise I’ll catch up when they stop to look at the directions or I’ll chase back on when the road tilts downhill.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The more I did ’em, Larry, the quicker I flamed out every year. It’s hard to maintain that level of outrage for any length of time. It’s like doing intervals every day.

      “Mad Dog Unleashed” isn’t much better as column names go, but at least the BRAIN columns are only 18 times per annum. That “Foaming Rant” beast popped round every friggin’ Friday.

      • Derek Lenahan Says:

        Andy used to have a race series that used High drive and gold camp road. I saw a squirrel take out twenty plus riders once. The race started at the top of Cheyenne Canyon in the parking lot, went through the gate and up Gold Camp road to hook a right onto the single track up to the top of the ridge and then right and down upper Captain Jacks then it hooked right again and went down the “wrong side” of High Drive. that is where the rodent took out too many people but did not fare so well himself. Great courses. Never got better than fifth, some snotty cross country skier from Team Telemark who could also ride a bike beat the snot out of me all season. You know who you are. Andy at the time I thought your races were the next step to the Olympic thing, as I had already been a wrench. Alas rest censored by wife.

  7. veloben Says:

    Man I miss Friday’s Foaming Rant. It motivated me to work for a private office. The uncontrollable laughter from my cube was killing everyone else’s end of week buzz.

    Oh to work my group back up to four hour rides.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Ben. I’ve been thinking about trying to pull together a collection blending the Foaming Rant and Mad Dog Unleashed, but most of the stuff was so fixed at a certain point in time (bad old newsie habit) that it doesn’t hold up well. I need to spend a few days puttering around in the archives, see if there’s enough stuff that still pulls the giggle-trigger in the 21st century.

  8. John Dallager Says:

    60-plus degrees here in the Springs today…no replies from OG for quite a while…..bet he’s out on a 4-hour bike ride!

  9. James Says:

    Loved those rants PO’G. They were the best, but then again so was Velo Snooze back in those days. At least we all have your witty writings, cartoons and insight here. Thanks for the chuckles and the rants – both are greatly appreciated!

  10. Debby in Longtucky Says:

    Still a good read after all these years! I used to enjoy the Penrose rides. Never could do a Thursday ride being a cubicle slave. The IT industry did not favor telecommuting then and still does not today, for the most part.

    The Marksheffel Plan perfectly describes most of my roadracing efforts. I had a pretty good sprint but could not climb to save my life. When the course went uphill I’d watch my HR start climbing along with the grade. When it hit 190 I knew I’d be riding solo soon. My best races were flat industrial park crits. I wished I could do the hilly races but I just didn’t have enough of those slow twitch muscles I guess. I could usually hang in ok on the Penrose rides though, at least to Penrose anyway.

    Used to enjoy the Foaming Rants too!

  11. bromasi Says:

    Ah the days of youth, I was like that once, I was going to say something else but I forgot what I was going to say,huh.

  12. TominAlbany Says:

    Unlinke a poorly-poured beer, your foaming is a good thing and one of the reasons I stop by.

    Happy Birthday to Khal!

    Finally, quoting that most unparalleled of rock bands, They Might Be Giants,

    “You’re older than you’ve ever been. And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older. You’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older. And now you’re older still.”

    Have a good day, all!

  13. John O Says:

    That damn Baughman would just sit on or fat asses after the turnaround. Then once we’d hit the single lane to the ranch he’d wind it up and I’d lube my chamois in not a good way.

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