I t’s 2:45 in the morning and I’m so tired I’m going insane, so I will have to keep this short. Because, like I said, I’m going insane already and I don’t want to make it worse. It’s hard enough to talk with my outloud mouth words to the other people in this room let alone create electronic paper words with my hands. These transfers are dix, we had to drive to San Luis Obispo and so we didn’t start working on today’s post until like 9:30. I’m sad we’re leaving Southern California for Sacramento Valley California; nothing against the Sacramento Valley, I’ve had some of the best tacos of my life in the Sacramento Valley, it’s just that it’s ugly and hot and the air quality is dumb, which are enough in their own right, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that Los Angeles and the surrounding mountains and oceans and Cuban food places called Versailles are sooo excellent. Anyhoo, today’s theme is super positive, like almost too positive, and coming on the heels of yesterday’s borderline unseemly degree of positivity about BEN KING I wanted to kick this off with some polarizing comments about the residents of Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Lodi, Modesto, etc.
If you’re a reader and consumer of Manual for Speed (or in other words if Manual for Speed is in your personal Fan Club), and you read these Race Reports, then you may (understandably) be confused about how much we actually like the institution of Professional Bike Racing. We complain a lot. About lots of stuff. Honestly sometimes I don’t even know how much I actually like the institution of Professional Bike Racing. I’m confused. And it changes. It’s definitely variable. But listen, I don’t think we have the time, and I know I don’t have the energy, to properly unpack this together so that’s not gonna happen, but what I can offer, what we can do here and now is talk about the Big Feelings I had today. I think it’s relevant to this conversation. I think the easiest way to communicate the significance of my Big Feelings is for me to just list out all the things that happened in the moments before my Big Feelings arrived. I think they will provide context and insight. Fingers crossed, here goes:
- On the way up Gibraltar (in a car) we passed and subsequently talked with Simon Mottram, the owner/creator of Rapha. He was riding his bike.
- We also passed Kelli Samuelson. She manages LA SWEAT. And races on the team. She was riding her bike.
- The fog parted. The Ocean below appeared. The sun came out. The road climbed. There were switchbacks, and points and promontories and rock walls and a stunning array of uniquely Californian vegetation.
- We saw Rapha Tim, Tim Johnson and CJ. Kyle, who went to college in Santa Barbara, ran into several friends he hasn’t seen or spoken with for years.
- But most of the people we passed were strangers. Friendly, enthusiastic, excited strangers.
- All riding their bikes up the mountain.
- To wait and watch professional athletes do something which is similar to riding, but which is ultimately much bigger and larger-than-life, so much so that just watching it, whatever it is, just being in the presence of it, is transformative and exhilarating.
- We parked, we walked, we bought coffees, we clowned.
- We got recognized as Manual for Speed A LOT. Maybe more than ever. And people said nice things. Positive things. Things like, “We love Manual for Speed.”
- We photographed, we videoed, we chatted, we met, we waited, we waited some more, I got sunburned as fuck and ran out of water, the race came.
- The front was fast and hard.
- The middle was steady and unrelenting.
- The end eventually came bearing laughter, smiles, high-fives, slingshots, peace fingers, etc.
- And. In spite of my deep deep deep disdain for unbridled enthusiasm, the vibe was such, the energy was such, I succumbed—on the inside!!!!!!!!, only on the inside!!!!!!!!!—to it.
And that’s it, that’s when I started to have my Big Feelings. About how cycling is a community based around the love of riding up a big-ass World Class mountain on a steep and twisty road even though or maybe because it hurts, and it’s sweaty, and you pant, and breathe too much, and it hurts, with friends, against friends, to get to the top, to stop, to wait and watch the greatest Spectacle on Earth come past. And Manual for Speed plays what would appear to be a very welcomed and widely lauded part in that. So yeah, I got pretty fucking emotional today. I mean, really, this whole big story that’s wasting your time and making me even more insane, hopefully not permanently (it’s now 3:52am), it just a long circuitous way of saying this:
Dear fans of Manual for Speed, and just plain old fans of Road Cycling even if you have no idea what Manual for Speed is, Thank You. Thank you for being a part of the Greatest Spectacle on Earth. It wouldn’t be the same without you. I hate clubs but I’ll be in your stupid club I guess. Because dude, did you see Peter charging up the mountain? And faaaaaaauck, Lachlan was in second when he came past, he looked blasted, but but but but but but he was in second! And that dude Gregory Daniels on Axeon got a jersey, he’s cool, I think his jersey is blue.