Length: 60 minutes
Day 1 of 3: Friday, June 6
Time: 8:50 PM
Neighborhood: Blue Dome
Weather: 95 degrees, 136% humidity, no wind
In an effort to get all the way embedded into American Criteriums, Manual for Speed participated in Tulsa Tough. Beyond publicly and personally demonstrating our commitment to #critlife, participation provided two insights, both of which are worth discussing, and both of which will be discussed momentarily. But first, a statement followed by an announcement followed by two insights.
The Statement: Manual for Speed is aware that generally speaking nobody is interested in discussing and/or reading about amateur bike racing for any reason and in nearly every context/circumstance. Not fans, not other amateur racers, not even family members including but not limited to wives/husbands and mothers. In short, nobody wants to talk about “the Cat 3 race” because the conversation is embarrassing for everyone involved.
The Announcement: Manual for Speed is currently, and cautiously!, considering a project the purpose of which would be to publish a study of the phenomenon known commonly as CAT 3 For Life or #cat34life. While (see above) it’s generally agreed this particular subject matter is categorically devoid of relevancy, it’s our contention the phenomenon may in fact have a substantial impact, ripple effect-style, on the culture of Professional Road Racing. More on that later.
Manual for Speed’s two insights:
- Tulsa is in fact, tough. While that may sound trite or obvious or simplistic, it’s the truth. I can personally attest to it’s toughness; furthermore, I asked several dozen professional athletes all of whom said, yeah it’s a totally tough race.
- Tailgunning, if properly executed, is more than just a bad thing, its a good technique.
HOW I LEARNED ABOUT TAILGUNNING, BY DANIEL WAKEFIELD PASLEY
I don’t want to make excuses but I had less than a month to train. And the night before the race I slept less than three hours because I had an early morning flight, ugh! Speaking of my flight, I was still high on Xanax when the race started. It was hot and I don’t do well in the heat. I think it was pretty humid too. Look, I was mess. Oh yeah, I’m fat. Anyway I made it five laps, I would have made it six or maybe even seven laps but some dude chopped my wheel in the third turn and I accidentally skid-hopped my rear wheel, which freaked me out and I lost all this speed, and anyway seriously guys it was like Africa hot. Plus I was on my friend’s bike which is lighter and stiffer and in better working condition than my bike, which was all weird and like, the seat was probably too high, or maybe too low, shit was crazy, #fubar.
Before the race I did practice circles with Jason and Chris, two of the three dudes racing for a team on which I was a surrogate for the weekend. The third dude, Steven, sat in the shade adjacent the start line while we warmed up. After forty minutes of practice, Jason, Chris and I lined up well before the start in order to secure a good position at the front of the race. It was hot and there was no shade, and we stood there (#broiling) penned animal-style for nearly thirty minutes. Meanwhile, Steven continued to sit in the shade and drink iced coffee beverages. I’m fairly certain that when the gun went off or the whistle was blown or whatever, Steven was still seated in the shade. Because the start was all cleats and brakes and low speed crashing, I imagine he just kinda cross-mounted his bike right to the back of the race with little to no hassle and no real need to pedal much. After quitting the race I found Steven’s chair in the shade near the start/finish line and sat in it. For the first thirty minutes nothing really happened, except for meanwhile I drank several ice cold cokes and stripped down to my bibs. I couldn’t help but notice that Steven was riding in the way back, the yo-yo bit that everyone talks about as being essentially the worst possible place to be in a race. But every time the train-shaped field came around, there he was, in the way back. At this point it’s worth mentioning that Steven is an ex-national champ or something, I can’t remember what he was but he was something. Point is, he knows how to race bicycles. Also, it’s maybe worth mentioning, Steven has gained 20-30 pounds since the last time I saw him which was three years ago, and at this very same race. Which race he won or came in second or something like that. Anyway, he’s a little bit overweight and way off the back for the whole race until two laps to go when he starts to move up, all the way up. The next and last time he comes around the far corner he’s in the lead group and sprinting, rather effectively. He got fourth. Sure it’s not first or second or third but still fourth is something. And seriously, nobody, I mean nobody in that race was as supremely expert in the management and expenditure of energy and effort as was my new hero, Steven.
After the race I asked him what’s up with riding in the back all jersey open and belly out style. All bored looking. And then boom, you basically walked to the front of the whole thing and almost won it. Your indifference or strategy or whatever it intoxicating. He goes, “You mean Tailgunning?, it’s nice back there, no stress, no crashes, no hassle. Also, you probably know this already but a lot of all that posturing and whatnot doesn’t really matter, there’s no prize for staging or looking good.”
The first time I saw a perfectly executed Tailgun I was 15. My friend and teammate Jared held the last position all the way to the bell, the next time I saw him he was in the front. He won that day. From the point forward our crew made that move our thing—we cared less about coaching and more about a mindset. Keep in mind, while we were called the Bacon Boys a la “bringing home the bacon” aka we won races/prize money, we were were considered by many to be the Bad News Bears of road cycling. You know, listening to Body Count and 2 Live Crew in the parking lot before the start, eight dudes one van, nudity, etc.
To be perfectly clear, I don’t recommend Tailgunning. It goes against sound coaching advice the likes of which has been widely taught for generations. And it requires a particular skillset. First, you need to have speed. Second, you need to know what you’re doing. Bottom line, if you don’t understand how a rider goes from last place to first place in less than a lap, and/or if you can’t physically move from last place to first place in less than a lap, then you don’t have the skillset yet. Also, Tailgunning is riding in the back with intention—riding in the back without intention is something entirely different and whatever it is does not lead to winning.
My secret is basically this: Train for acceleration then spend every race actively minimizing any and ALL accelerations. Except the finish of course. Conservation of energy is key. Also use smaller gears to conserve leg strength because cardio recovers in like 2 minutes while muscular strength takes several days.
STEVEN CATE’S PALMARES
- 1996 – 2nd – Amateur National Racing Series Overall (NRC)
- 1996 – 3rd – Joe Martin Stage Race Overall (NRC)
- 1997 – 1st – U23 National Road Race Championships
- 1997 – 5th – Tour Gila Overall (NRC)
- 1998 – 4th – U23 National Road Race Championships
- 2000 – 1st – Elite National Road Race Championships
- 2000 – 1st – Snake Alley Criterium
- 2001 – 3rd – Elite National Criterium Championships
- 2001 – 1st – Joe Martin Stage Race Overall
- 2003 – 3rd – Elite National Road Race Championships
- 2003 – 4th – Joe Martin Stage Race Overall (NRC)
- 2003 – 2nd – Joe Martin Stage Race Criterium (NRC)
- 2003 – 2nd – Joe Martin Stage Race Hog Eye RR (NRC)
- 2003 – 2nd – Mercy Classic Criterium(NRC)
- 2003 – 2nd – Tour Gila Criterium (NRC)
- 2003 – 2nd – Tour Gila Inner Loop RR (NRC)
- 2004 – 33rd – US Professional Championships (15th American)
THE PROS & CONS OF TAILGUNNING, BY PETE MORRIS, TEAM CLIF BAR CYCLING
Based on the quality and nature of our exchange with Manual For Speed’s temporary teammate, Steven Cate. And our proximity to working professional athletes, we’re happy to announce a new MFS initiative called PROS & CONS. It’s basically an advice column featuring guest Human Athletes. Below is the first installment.
- First and foremost, it’s just easier. Any race that is hard in the field can be made more manageable by going to the back.
- You get to see all the lines for each corner totally unobstructed. And you are able to watch the field bunch and swell going through these same turns to see which ones are actually going to be usable in the race.
- Watching the field will enable you to spot the crashes that need to be avoided and to show you what line not to take through that sketchy corner everyone is bottlenecking on.
- It takes all the outside factors of the race and eliminates them, it calms everything down and turns it into your own private race.
- The reason it works so well is because it makes you ride smarter and use as little energy as possible until you decide to flip the switch.
- You get to shoot the breeze with the other tailgunners. You’re able to appreciate the crowd, location, and straight up magic of crit racing.
- It’s guaranteed to backfire, eventually. All that sweet tailgunning action comes at a price when the field splits, or a crash demolishes everyone, or field gets angry and you are all of a sudden unable to hang on any longer.
- You are totally useless to your team. You can’t cover any moves, you can’t talk with anyone, you can’t even impart all the wisdom you’ve gained from tailgunning until you move up through the field.
- It’s really hard to get in that early move from last wheel. Whenever you decide to tailgun, know that the chance of the break going in the first 15 minutes and sticking it until the end goes up at least 50%.
- You aren’t perfecting your pack skills, especially when there isn’t a single solitary person around you. The only time you get to bang elbows and shoulders is when you are moving up.
- Most obviously, you will not win from the back. It’s impossible to win from back there. You aren’t even really racing, just hanging on and doing as little as you can.
A BRIEF LIST OF FACTS ABOUT TULSA BY KLAUS
- Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma
- Its population is 393,987
- Nicknames: Oil Capital of the World, Tulsey Town, T-Town, The 918
- It was known as the “Oil Capital of the World” for most of the 20th century.
- Motto: A new kind of energy
- Tulsa was first settled between 1828 and 1836 by the Lochapoka Band of Creek Native American tribe
- It has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Art Deco architecture
- People from Tulsa are called “Tulsans.”
- In 1925, a Tulsa businessman named Cyrus Avery began efforts to build a route to link California to Chicago. He’s known as the “Father of Route 66
- Tulsa is sometimes considered the “buckle of the Bible Belt”
- Food chains headquartered in Tulsa: RibCrib and Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe
- RibCrib has five locations in Tulsa
- A RibCrib Harlem Shake video posted in April of 2013 has 448 views.
- RibCrib’s slogan is “Keep it Saucy”
- The city’s zoo, the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum, was voted “America’s Favorite Zoo” in 2005
Estimated median house or condo value in 2011: $119,400
- Tulsa is ranked #49 (74103) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Bulgarian first ancestries”
- Tulsa is ranked #57 (74120) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Alsatian first ancestries (pop 5,000+)”
- Tulsa is ranked #58 (74145) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Icelander first ancestries (pop 5,000+)”
- Tulsa is ranked #71 (74145) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Ugandan first ancestries”
- Tulsa is ranked #77 (74135) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Jordanian first ancestries (pop 5,000+)”
- Tulsa is ranked #81 (74128) on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the largest percentage of Dutch West Indian first ancestries”
- Gary Busey grew up in Tulsa.
- Larry Clark also grew up in Tulsa, and published a book in 1971 entitled Tulsa which documented the lives of himself and his friends, young drug addicts in town.