March 2nd ushers in the first race of the season. With two weeks to go I invited my friends over to use my shop for pre-season tune-ups. There’s something about combining men, tools and Pabst that inevitably leads to shit-talking.
The dialogue begins with questions attempting to size one another up, “So, you been ridin’ much this winter?” Followed by the persistent reply, aimed to protect your lack of fitness, or—if you have been covertly getting in base miles—hide your advantage, “Nah, not really, I’ve been sitting on my ass, I’m so out of shape.”
After a few more PBR-fueled posturings, the conversation shifts to riders outside the present company. We trade assessments and queries of other racers: who has put on weight, who switched teams, who’s riding what bike, who's sandbagging and who’s overrated?
Then we guestimate the wildcards, those racers that—like a Mongol hoard—sweep down upon our fair state to invade our local races from the foreign lands of Nebraska and Iowa. “I read on his blog that he had a kid. I don’t think he’s been able to do much riding.” Or the always-false assumption, “Those guys don’t ride through the winter like we do.”
Each year it’s the same: the same questions, the same replies. It’s an important ritual that fosters a sense of camaraderie and serves to motivate riders who’ve spent the winter doing more drinking than pedaling that it’s time to get back in the saddle.