Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Indy or Bust: The Highs and Lows of Privateer Cyclocross

Only an experience of the proportions of my travels to the UCI Major Taylor Cross Cup in Indianapolis could revive this blog. I have raced nearly double the amount of UCI races this season, mainly because for once, I believe I belong there. I have had good luck and bad, but broke into the payout and scored PROCX points for the first time ever. I even managed to lead lap the C1 at Charm, passing half the field on the way up from the back row. 

2 weeks ago Chab walked up to me at a race and asked "Do you want to go to Indy and get UCI Points?!?" I was instantly in. A rare 3 race UCI weekend in America meant diluted fields and a better chance for an elusive UCI point, or worst case, enough PROCX points to make it to elite nats.

Transfer Day:
Chab showed up at my house in the morning. I had just finished replacing a brake caliper that I hamfistedly broke while swapping to my race wheels. I scrambled to pack up and we hit the road. I worked from the car (I love my job) and Chab got acquainted with the R32. "Can we change the screen off something other than the gas milage?"
We made great time and decided to stop outside of Indy for the night. 

Photo: Dan Chabanov
Day 1: 
We awoke to grey skys but the sun showed up as we arrived. Racing a 4:10pm meant a full breakfast. Luckily every single exit we stayed at had a Cracker Barrel. Both of us were a little nervous to see what the track would be like. We passed on NBX to do this race, and knew NBX was an amazing one.
In short, it was rad. Great use of off cambers, hop-able barriers, steps, crazy descent into some jumps. Terrific. 

Traveling with Chab has its perks. We met some nice folks at Mid West Devo who offered to pit for us. It was incredibly kind and helpful. 

The Racing (1): It went well for both of us. I moved up from the back and found a group containing the mid teens to "you get nothing". Nieters left us with 1. to go and I couldn't get it all the way across without pulling the hater train with me. It came down to a 4 up sprint. I lead out and got bested by 1 rider. We nearly picked up Nieters at the line, but he was safe and he knew it, 17th.
Chab fucking crushed it and got 5th.
Photo: Joe Vond

Photo: Joe Vond
We hit dinner hard. We found some buffalo burger place and racked up a dinner bill slightly higher than we both anticipated. Our motel was not as opulent. I guess one would assume a Penn State vs Ohio game would not be in Indiana? Well you would be wrong, and you would also be paying out the ass for a relatively bleak Motel 6. 
Procuring soap (which I forgot in the brake replacement scramble) and toothpaste was impossible. Leaving the motel seemed illogical. We were both done wearing real pants for the day. I cleaned my skin suit in the shower with a bar of soap and hung it to dry. Glamorous. 

Day 2:
We awoke to more grey. Radar showed we were going to get wet, but we had known that. 
More Cracker Barrel.
It took us both a little longer to get motivated today. I finally got my attitude adjusted to race levels around noon. Then the rain came. At first it stayed dry. The rain fell lightly. 2 pm it had rained harder and the conditions were degrading. On my last practice lap I realized I would be running a lot. Toe spikes go in. Mud tires go on. Pressure set to "lower". The Mid West Devo guys invited us into their double tent with walls. 

And then it got real. I did my warmup outside in rain paints and a rain jacket. I stayed dry, but I got cold. This mistake proved to be fatal. The gun went off and I found a lane and moved up closer to the front. We rounded the first few turns. I made some crafty passes. We lined up for the first long straight. I applied some watts in an effort to move up.

Nothing happened. I was frozen. Literally and figuratively I was frozen. I felt the cold spray hit my back, chills went deep into my core. Positive self talk.
"Focus, you can do this."
"This is cyclocross, you are made for this" 

"Go. Burn it now." 
"You have to do this."
"You want to go to Natz, don't you? Hit it"

By lap 2 I was shaking. I ran as hard as I could up the run up losing contact with my group on the slick slope. I remounted and my eyes met with my garmin. HR was in the 140's, 40 beats lower than my normal working HR. Um.

Indy, we have a problem. 

I gassed it one more time. I felt ok. Then I descended a slick bumpy descent. I realized I couldn't feel my hands. Breaking was difficult. I awkwardly slid down the hill, barely making the turn at the bottom.

20 minutes in and I was cracked. The weather broke me. 

Like you would expect, I did the conservative thing. I abandoned. It stung. I handed my dirty bike to the Mid West Devo guys to clean. Rode my B bike to the car, grabbed my stuff and retreated to the locker room to change. I got back to the car. It sank in. I wasn't racing my bike. I probably wasn't going to elite natz. I had quit. 

Then I got out of the car, wearing a coat, puffy vest, pull over, and undershirt, and after 30 seconds, resumed violently shaking. I retreated to the car. I ate a donut.

Chab finished 10th and immediately rode to the locker room. I got out to help him. The noises I heard of suffering in the locker room were surreal. I kept pressing the buttons on the hand dryers to make the room warm. I gathered people's belongings for them. 

We finally got clean. We got in the car, with a few extra pounds of mud from the track on our bikes and clothes. We started driving. First to Mcdonalds, then to a shady self serve car wash to clean bikes, lastly to the highway. I managed to scare Chab a few times with my lane changes around left lane hogs.

Things always get worse before they get better:
We arrive at the Motel 6 (fool me once...) in Somewhere Outside of Dayton, Ohio. We unpack. There is a black trash bag with our start line clothes in it. Missing from the bag are all of my clothes. In the bag are a pair of jackets and a pair of rental car keys.

Enter Puke Feeling.

The guys helping us mixed up the coats and somebody in Indy is having a very bad night. I email the promoter. We do a load of laundry, drink some Coors beers and go to bed. 

Transfer Day:
"Does the sun ever shine here?" Chab pondered as he pulled back the worn curtains. "Is it time to go to waffle house yet?" I replied. Luckily it was.
Photo: Dan Chabanov

After a pleasant meal we hit the road. I had to fire up the laptop and do some work while Chab learned how to make the R32 make loud exhaust noises. On our trip out he was conservative trying to save fuel. Now he's redlining 2nd, slamming gears on highway on ramps. 

I sorted out the Clothes/ Keys dilemma from the car. A few boxes and trips to the post office later and all parties are on their way to being made whole. 

My mood improved as the day went on. I thought a lot about the weekend on the car ride back. I made peace with the failure. The problem with goals, good ones, is that sometimes you don't get all the way there. Shitty goals are the ones you can meet 100% of the time. My time in Corporate America has taught me how to make a good goal. 

We hit the PA line. The sun came out for the first time in 3 days. 

I have one Hail Mary left to make my way to a Sunday start line in Hartford. Let's see what happens? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

How to be Awesome at Cyclocross.

2014 has been my 3rd year of paying the UCI a handy sum of money to race cyclocross bicycles. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing. 2 seasons of getting beat on pretty badly have taught me how to have a bit more fun. Here are my ways to turn lemons into... less sour lemons.


The Bike(s): Have 2 if you can. Swapping brake pads or race wheels is for plebes. Having a bike you ride 20 hours a year is baller. Bonus points if you have 2 of the same bike. Here is the tricky part, if you have two of the same bike, how will you tell them apart? Stickers, obviously. Step 1: Name them. Mine are named #yolo and #swag. Redbubble.com sells ridiculous stickers. Buy some. Step 2; Headtube badges. My Cannondales say Cannondale on them 35 times. Covering one logo is ok. Buy something like this: STICKER
Slap that guy on the front, watch hilarity ensue. The reactions you get are priceless. 

Tire Pressure: Prepare to be asked what pressure you are running, all of the time. Your weight is obviously a huge variable here but nobody ever asks your weight, they will just silently judge your fatness. 

You: Train a little. Life is way more fun with fitness. Ride your cx bike. Your mtb will make you forget cantis don't stop. Your road bike will make you forget how to turn. The internet has some really simple workouts that are kind of dare I say fun... go to a cross practice once weekly if you can. Take it seriously but don't take it seriously. Recover. It took me too long to learn this. Burning out sucks. 

Beer: Obvious right? Beer makes everything better. Sometimes its tough to drink DURING the race... those officials are everywhere... but make sure you have something cold for later. If the race is unsanctioned or for fun (Kuhn's Intergalactic CX Relay)... you better be drinking by the end of lap 1.

Make your significant other race too: Back in 2009 I forced cyclocross on Lauren like a hover parent forces pee wee sports on little 4 yr old Susie and Timmy. She learned to like it, I think that's called Stockholm Syndrome. Either way we race bikes together, and I get the added bonus of having somebody to work the pit for me. Thanks babe. Pro Tip: this may eventually lead to divorce (for you, not me and my lifetime ho) so look into the Pre-nup jump off. 

Signature Move: I have written about this one in the past. You need a signature move. I do x ups. Craig does blue steel. He used to roll tires... but he seems to have sorted that. Whatever it is, make sure it looks cool in photos. Then get as many pics as you can of you doing said move. 

The Race:

Things are going to go wrong, and it might not be your fault. 
There are so many variables in cross. You will have good days and bad. I typically DNF at least 1 race a year. Even when your day goes to shit, win the day. In 2012 at Town Hall race, everything went bad. I couldn't turn, I got stuck in the tape countless times... finally I bagged it. I stopped for an illegal beer handup, took a picture with a clown, waited for a teammate then just messed with him for 4 laps. The point is a bad day racing is still better than a lot of stuff you already do (work).

UCI Races: Congrats, you're relatively fast. Sorry, you're probably just waiting to turn 35 so you can race masters. 
80% Rule: Oh have I ranted about this before. I have been pulled with 1 lap to go twice now. It sucks. Ride 50 more feet and nobody will ever catch you, because they are finishing. How do you make it more bearable? #SELFIES
Borrow a friend's phone run back over to that official and snap, Also nicely let them know how dumb the rule is with 1 to go. Mimi is a good sport. 

Last but not least, don't be a jerk. Maybe you don't chop that wheel 15 minutes into the race when you are in 45th place? Maybe you don't ram into somebody riding a section while you are off your bike running it. Neither of these things are illegal, but there will be a time when you are the nail and not the hammer, and the former nail is the one swinging... you're going to see these people... a lot, remember that. 

Enjoy and see you out there. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How To Be Awesome at The Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic

Once again my last week of May was dominated by the awesomeness that is TSE. This post is going to read a lot like the last installment in the How To Be Awesome Series. It will not contain too much race report content as you can read race reports at cyclingnews.com and on the TSE blog. Instead I will offer you, my misguided reader, an insiders look into what exactly it takes to rock out at TSE. 

First off:  Know what the hell you are getting into. I am not talking about the courses, reading doesn't make you better at rocks, sadly riding road bikes doesn't help either, but we'll get to that. Instead look for info on how to win the week. For example, whats the best lodge? Where is the nearest beer store? Do you know how to 'rassel a rattlesnake? I didn't think so. Fear not we will go through it all in this IPA, Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout induced guide. 

Rimney: It is scary there. Wissell is there. He beat me in a wrestling match and pushed me in a lake. Fear the Wissell. 
Eagle: Dicky is there. Not scary per say, just, well, Dicky. Don't do it.
Single cabins: The really cool Panama riders took them this year. Seems like an ok idea. 
FEMA/Katrina trailer: Reserved for Kuhn and the Louisianian black mold that shipped with it. Has AC.
Tent: I don't do tents. No advice here, you dirty hippy. 
Go back to college dorm life. Flips flops on at all times when inside. Lodges get "dank" as Lindine would say.
Chillin at the Eagle. A E Landes/TSE
Now that you are sufficiently screwed on lodging, lets talk about food. 
Meal Plan: I have never done the meal plan at TSE as I like to escape camp for a bit and go to State College to eat sometimes. Every night I walked into the dining hall for awards and regretted my decision. Desserts EVERYWHERE. I love cookies.
No Meal plan: Get some friends (preferably one with a Costco membership) buy some stuff and plan meals. Works very well. Only problem is noted above.
Snacks: Bring too much. Share.
Breakfast: Chocolate Chex. Whatchu know about this chocolate cereal game playboy? Nothing. There will be at least one coffee snob in your lodge, make friends with them. Hit the redbull lounge to supplement. 
Pizza: Nobody delivers to the scout camp, at least that Lauren and a smart phone could find and she "procures" things for a career. 

State College: Safest bet but also 15 miles away but has a drive-thru beer store. Even after all of PA's stupid blue laws, you can drive-thru for beer. An experience not to be missed by the out of stater. 
Brownies: 2 miles from camp, use only if desperate  If you want a "I'm going to get shot" moment, go there. I asked for 30 "kinda cheap" beers. When the bartender asked me what cheap was, I answered PBR. 3 locals started screaming at me in central PA English, explaining how PBR was the most expensive beer they had. Bartender can't add 9+7. Be warned. Dont go with ID -less Derek Bissett.

Create a Catch Phrase:
This year was dominated by "piece" such as "Yo check out my new LEFTY piece" Or "Hey lemme get one of those beer pieces." Laughs were had when a warning of  "Don't look this way or you might seem my D piece." was cast when changing pre stage.
Lodges can have catch phrases too. "EAGLE" was heard every time a Eagle lodge member climbed the podium during awards. If racing duo, every time you assist your teammate, like passing the salt at dinner, state "Duo" as a form of bonding,

Picking a Duo teammate: 
I already stake claim to Craig "Imma Do Me" Lebair, so you are already at a disadvantage. You can't have my Craig piece, but you can do the following:
Find somebody who faster at stuff you suck at. I went down a cliff 3 min faster than last year because I knew Craig would make fun of me if I sucked. Motivation. 
Drop in to win. Craig only had time to pee this year on R B Winters penultimate descent, instead of the nap he took in 2012. A E Landes/TSE
Racing Etiquette: 
Don't be an asshat:  
A) Let the GC women's leaders do their thing if they are faster than you, they probably are and they have cash one the line. 
B) Don't yell at people. Yelling when you can ride a section but 9 people are walking in front of you makes me angry. Matt Harris pre-oatmeal angry. 
C) Don't pass unannounced or in stupid place. Finish times are over 17 hours 1 second isn't going to kill your week. A crash might. 
D) Be fucking nice. Say thank you. Say good job. We all ride bikes. Chill, ha. You will see these people again.
E) Have respect for those better than you. You will be amazed at some of the things you see people ride. Learn from it.

Unofficial Stages:
Wednsday Night: Go up to the field and join in the Hammer Nutrition (they buy the beer) Wed night stage 4a. Wheelie contest (Props to Gunnar Bergey) skid contest, relays for socks, bunny hopping, lighting shit on fire... go hang out. Don't get pissed when lights out is not at 9:30. You are not pro, you are sleeping in a tent, dirty hippy. 
Ripping up on my coach's bike. A E Landes/TSE
Stage 8 Three Beer Derby World Cup Eliminator" DJ will shoot fireworks at your head, the race promoters will break all of the fine print of their insurance policy, and Sue Haywood (dressed as batman) will DQ your team if you don't finish your beer. It will be filmed, embrace it. 
#YOLO, DJ. #YOLO.  A E Landes/TSE out of the line of fire. Coward. 

Watch more videos on CyclingDirt

Make friends with Abe Landes. Not only is he really really funny and an all around awesome dude, he will make you look way cooler than you really are in pixels. Looking cool leads to all sorts of other cool things. If cyclingdirt interviews you, have a personality. Dig deep. You got this. 
Get a signature look. I do x ups, Craig Lebair does Blue Steel. Perfect it, do it all week. 
Blue Steel captured by A E Landes/TSE
The X Up (while complaining) burden on A E Landes/TSE
The Actual Racing Your Bike Part:
Pedal hard, have fun. This is probably your vacation, enjoy it. Race for the pictures. Tell your cube life coworkers you rode a 20 hour week and see their faces as they look at you with puzzlement. In this case being the 1% (that races bikes) is a good thing. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How To Be Awesome at Iron Cross X

Iron Cross is one of those races where I have to do a bunch of things I don't like to do to race it.
You have to get up at Dark:45 to get there. 
You have to put water bottle cages on a cross bike.
You have to worry about flatting 52 times.
You have to worry about dying since your longest ride in weeks has been 2 hours with intervals. (not 4+)

Still. I go. Why? Kuhn makes me. Also when you "beat" all of these dumb things you don't like to do, it makes it all the better.

To add to the excitement, the weather guessers guessed the weather would be in the 40's and raining. Luckily they were only half right. It only kinda sorta rained for a minute, making the conditions chilly but dry. This also kept the chances of hypothermia down. 

Blue Steel. Photo: AE Landes

Craig, Steve and I treated the race as some kind of weird TSE like trio. We held on to the lead group for a bit, then eventually let the balloon of crazy pace go and settled into our own pace.

What that really meant was riding hard, but easy enough to be able to talk. What that really means is annoying the living shit out of everyone around us. I thought most of the topics of discussion ranged from "Purple Drank" to solving complex global issues like the economic decline in Greece. Some mentioned we were solving complex high level math as they rode by. 

So now that you know how it went down, Here are my secrets to Iron Cross X.

How to be awesome at Iron Cross:

Training: Train for 'proper' CX. sprints, barriers, off cambers. Do not ride over 2 hrs. Ever. Race 2x a weekend.
Tires: If Cross Bike, run like 60 psi. If tubeless on cross bile, run like 40.If MTB, you missed the memo it was called Iron Cross.
Brakes. They don't work. Prepare to ride singletrack in the drops so you can brake. You'll get the hang of it. Remember Cross tops? Yeah those nerdy break levers from 6 years ago everyone seemed to have on cx bikes, well Craig had them and they seemed to work. Disc brakes might be nice here.
Nutrition: Eat cookies at the aid stations. Drink PBR at Larry's Tavern. That should do it. Recover with potato chips.
Chips. Photo: AE Landes

Gearing: Don't change your cross bike gearing from your normal race setup. 36x25 will leave you second guessing what the hell you got yourself into on the first slight uphill singletrack. Riding in the drops at 45 rpm at 6 mph is an interesting experience everyone should know. It wont get old, I promise.
Key Course Features:  The run up. Its steep, and very very long. Bring a set of crampons and a Sherpa  Your back is going to hurt. There is a sand pit early on. Sand at high PSI is always funny. There are a few gravel descents that may kill you. You got this.
Cresting the run up. Photo: AE Landes

Coaching: Fire your coach mid race. I do this a lot.
Photo Credit: Mike Kuhn, who I was in the process of firing. 

Getting Rad: Its ok to jump stuff or take a log over that has a clear bail out option. Its ok to wheelie on the climbs. Just remember, you're basically on a road bike which means, any small trick you do will seem way cooler than it actually is, and secondly, any small trick you do may actually kill you. Don't get dead.

Remember folks. Do Iron Cross, it will make you famous on the interwebs.

Watch more videos on CyclingDirt
Watch more videos on CyclingDirt

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I am going to skip right to the end of the Cat 3 Yellow race. I stayed near the front, I kept out of trouble through the graded sand pit sections, I made the splits. I kept air in my tires... everything was splendid. 
ksj photo (Meeting House Rd)
Mile 56: Entering Stage Rd, the last dirt climb, 1 guy took a flyer and got maybe 20 seconds. The group was going pretty slow at this point. I saw the "Red Barn" which is Newport's landmark to "If you are not in the top 15 you are screwed" I was 5th wheel. There were a few base attacked and I just sat and followed wheels making sure to not get gapped out. I stayed 5th or 6th up the climb. The flyer guy came right back on the climb and were racing to win again. 

There is always exactly 1 moment at Battenkill where I nearly die. This year it was at the very top of Stage Rd, right as the dirt ended. 2 riders crossed wheels in front of me, as I was surging to gain a spot or two before the descent. One went left directly in front of me. His bike spun like a top, and ran it over with my front wheel as I dabbed to stay up. The 8 man group went down (literally) to 6, and I had 30 ft to make up to get to the 3 leaders. 
17 mph with a foot in the dirt.
Here comes my excuse... in the crash my front wheel came way out of true from striking the bike and my brake twisted. I didnt realize this at the time... I chased for 10 minutes but could not get back 10 seconds to 1/2/3. 4th left us and I couldn't stick the wheel, leaving me and 6th to sprint. I beat 6th, and nearly caught 4th, but was not able to close it fully. I knew how hard I was going and well, it all makes sense after learned how messed up the bike was. Oh yes. My legs. Those were cooked too... 
Feeling a bit dizzy.
Battenkill is always fun for me for as its a bit of a spectacle. The race itself is interesting enough, but the entire town shuts down for this thing, and there are spectators out on the course and climbs. 

Its also a special race because I am related to a 3rd of a nearby town (Mechanicville) My Grandpa and various Aunts and cousins always come out to cheer and call me crazy. I think I had the loudest cheering section!

I crushed the chicken pot pie at the Cambridge Hotel and got sufficiently buzzed off a single beer. Thanks to Dave Pryor for handing me a beer every time I saw him this weekend. Thanks to Fred Brown for buying me some chocolate milk since I missed my own by a few seconds. Thanks to Laur and Emmy for the feeds. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Relay.

My mountain bike skills are slanted towards the twisty and rooty side of the spectrum. Rocks and straight have never been a strong suit. TSE and Bear Creek have done a fantastic job in reminding me of how wide a range of skills are required to be a complete bike racer.
Luckily "the farm" was built for me. Fast, flowing but difficult corners, logs, and plenty of Nintendo style combo moves... those are the skill efforts you make when you have to say, set up for a turn, while hopping a log over, while thinking about braking for the next turn, while planning an acceleration out of it all. Plenty of linking little moves together in the pursuit of fast. These things are the most fun for me.
Steve gave our relay team a great start and came through with 3 or 4 guys ahead of him. I got the handoff from him.
In 14 minutes and 33 seconds I unleashed every ounce of harbored anger and frustration I had stored up since August 21st. I translated every frustrating minute on the trainer. Every second of doubt I maintained regarding my fitness, every missed race, every time I questioned my capabilities and ability to regain what was taken. I wanted every missing watt back, right then. Revenge on time off. Revenge on a man who I wouldn't trust using a pencil let alone a 4000 lb car, revenge on time wasted with insurance companies, revenge on every little twinge and ache we feel. 

For 14 minutes and 33 seconds I fought my bicycle as if it were at fault. Admittedly I focused less on line choice and more on applying the most force to the pedals as I could. My heartrate closing in on a few ticks shy of 200 bpm on the second climb I knew I was at full gas. 

I crossed the line, threw Craig into his lap as hard as I could (with the good arm). The funny part was at the time, I wasn't thinking about any of this. In reflection upon the efforts did I realize why I was doing what I was doing. Motivation is a huge thing in bike racing. Often times the most fit rider does not win the race. Sometimes the more motivated prevail. Here's to hoping I didn't drain the entire tank in less than 15 minutes. See you out there.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lauren and Mike Go Boom.

Many of you know already what happened to Lauren and I, but we were involved in a car/bike accident last Sunday.
We came down to Virginia to visit with Lauren's family before cyclocross took over our weekends until Thanksgiving. 
On Sunday morning Lauren and I headed out with no defined route in mind, we just had the simple goal of having a nice relaxing ride before our 5 hour car trip home. We had done field tests the day before and were both tired. Lauren killed her test, I did well on mine... at least we will have baselines for our comebacks...
We were about 40 minutes into the ride when we stopped for a minute to check the smart phone and pick a direction home. We were to hop on RT 46 for a minute before turning off to get on another fun road home.
We never made it off RT 46. Lauren and I were riding single file pretty close to the gutter of the road. Lauren thought she saw my brake rubbing. I peaked back to check and thought it did look funny. I decided to start to pull over to check. 
I started to communicate to Laur that we should stop to check. We were still lined up single file. Mid sentence I heard a crash, a pop, and Lauren yell. A split second later my rear wheel got washed out from under me. I closed my eyes and started to fall left. On the way by I felt the car brush past me as my hip hit the asphalt. I remember tucking up and sliding on my arm and hip. Gravel was flying everywhere. I remember squinting as it hit my face. 
The next thing I knew I was standing, with no idea where my bike was. It wasn't until then I had realized we had been actually hit by a car. I turned to see Lauren laying on the grass under her bike. Her arm was wrapped up in the broken frame. I peaked down the road to see the driver stopping, but some distance away. After making sure Lauren was not going to try and move, and getting the bike out from cutting into her arm, I ran down to the car. The driver had stepped out. I instructed him to call the police and snapped a picture of the plate before running back to Lauren.

Between then and now, hundreds of folks have directly helped us or sent prayers and messages our way.
In no order, 
Both cars that stopped to help us, the couple, and Randy the EMT. The Ambulance staff, The Helicopter crew, The VCU ER team, both mine and Lauren's. The entire staff at VCU. Dr Zuezler, Dr Johnathan, All of Laur's nurses. Lauren's Family. Everyone that sent us and email, facebook, or phone message, we are extremely grateful. 
It doesn't look like either of us will be racing bike any time soon. Lauren has broken vertebrae and ribs, and I have a broken humerus/displaced shoulder that will be operated on next week. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why I dont like Bus Drivers.

I held off on writing about this because I had a court date to go to and the event wasn’t resolves yet, but since we wrapped everything up yesterday its time to blog. Here is the story of how I got whacked back in April.
The background:
I set out for a nice easy recovery ride with Lauren. 95% of my rides start at my house and head down Devon State Road a 1.5 mile descent headed towards Valley Forge Park. Lauren and I were both doing around 30 headed towards the series of stop lights on our way to the park. I am leading, Lauren is maybe 15 feet back in my draft, we are riding maybe 6 inches off the white line on the side of the road. All of a sudden Lauren yells, immediately after the mirror of a white van flicks my left shoulder as it passes me. The rest of the bus is no more than 6 inches away from my bars as it passes me I manage to stay upright and not skip off the van. There is nobody coming up in the oncoming lane… I realize with the lights are ahead and if I gas it I can probably catch the van. Sure enough at the second light the van, which I now realize is a school bus for a local bus company is stopped in the right lane behind 3 or 4 other vehicles. The road in this location is two lanes on each side.
The Confrontation:
I approached the van on the driver’s side and gently tapped on the driver’s window to alert of the driver of my presence. Here is the fun part… The driver of the van was a middle aged Caucasian woman with short white hair. As I tapped on the window, the driver turned toward me, seemingly irate, and banged on the glass with her fist. The driver proceeded to scream profanity at me through the window. I stood there a bit shocked for a moment… is this woman serious… I think I asked in a confused voice “what the hell are you thinking”… While doing this the traffic signal turned green and the vehicles in front of the van began to move forward. The driver of the van then proceeded to swerve to the left hand lane while I was still located on the left hand side of her vehicle. She basically tried to run me over. A car expecting a clean lane and a green light had to slam its brakes to prevent from hitting both of us. I got the plate and the bus number, lowered my heart rate from about 190, and circled back to find Lauren, who at this point had caught almost all the way up and seen most of the incident.
Calling the 5/0:
Of course I don’t have my blackberry to call the police. We stop at the middle school on the same road and ask to borrow a phone; one of the teachers gladly lets us after we tell them I was just hit by a school bus. The local cops show up and I give them the story and the bus number. 2 days later I get a call from the responding officer letting me know he talked to the bus driver who claims she didn’t hit me and feared for her safety and the child on the bus (didn’t know there was a kid on the bus till now) so she felt just in trying to run me over. Ok so I paraphrased that last part. The officer agreed to write her up for careless driving, which would basically get her fired, if I agreed to come testify as a witness when she pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The court date gets set for early May. The best part is they made the driver pay a bond so she would show up in court. Something comes up a week before the hearing and I ask to have the date postponed. I have successfully pushed this whole thing out to July 7th. I am pleased.
The Day in Court:
I show up to the court which is literally less than a mile from my house. I arrive a few minutes early. In walks the bus driver and another man who I later learn is a rep from the bus company she works for. They are a fashionable 10 minutes late. Unfortunately the fashionable 10 minutes was completely erased by the jean shorts, t shirt white sneakers and tube socks the driver was wearing. The other lob at least had his (short sleeve button down) shirt tucked into his pants. They sit down near me and whisper to one another, “is that him” I find this comical, continue to smirk and tap out emails on my blackberry.
We are called into court and they realize they have been sitting next to me the entire time. Priceless.
The cop pulls me outside and to talk to me to see what my intent is here. He basically tells me if I take this all the way I can probably have her removed from her job as she would lose her special bus driver license if found guilty of this offense. I am an asshole, but I am not a vengeful person. I don’t want anyone to lose their job, chances are she would go on welfare or something and I would indirectly be paying for her anyways. I agree to allow her to plea down to basically a slap on the wrist and a couple hundred bucks in fines. I explained to the officer I just wanted the driver to be aware of what happened and to be held accountable. The important part is that neither my wife nor I were injured.
Go Back to Your Trailer:
The officer comes back in and explains to the driver and her crony that I have basically gifted them a plea bargain here, knowing that she could lose her job, etc. After explaining that the driver was going to get a “failure to obey traffic signal” he suggested that this was a much better option for her than to go to trail and have me testify. Merry Christmas in July. Here is where its gets fun. The bus company dude goes into a ramble about how professional his driver was. He made two comments that almost sent me yelling. 1) “My driver is so professional that she brought with her today an award (as he lifts a box with a pin in it) that she earned for years of service we came prepared today to go to trail and tell our side of the story”
2) “The fact that my driver did not report this event must mean that it was a minor incident and not worth reporting”
Number two really pisses me off; she didn’t even bother to tell her bus company about this. Number one is just poor logic. At this point I am overwhelmed by the arrogance of the pair. They continue to contemplate whether or not they want to take this to trial. I am praying they do at this point as I would have relished the chance to flat out embarrass the dumbass. The bus company guy then pushes further, “what traffic signal did she disobey exactly” “that doesn’t seem right” the cop tried his best to stay professional and not get frustrated. He explained that she didn’t obey any traffic signal and the court was basically giving her a break… I think this jarred the empty space from between the ears of them both because they realized that they could basically pay a nominal fine and keep her job. Geniuses.
I walked out with the cop and said “a bit on the arrogant side no? He agreed and made a comment in line with not believing what just happened. If the driver had done anything less than try to run me over, the story ended at the traffic light. A simple I’m sorry I passed to close ended the entire situation… like this time I got hit.
Cliff Notes:
I got hit by a bus, I didn’t get hurt/
The Bus driver tried to kill me after she hit me.
I called the cops.
We get a court date, I postpone it, the driver has to pay bond.
We go to court; I agree to let the driver plea down so she doesn’t lose her job.
The driver immediately makes me regret the act of kindness.
I made her stew over this for 3 months and hopefully ruined her holiday weekend.
She left with a lighter wallet.
Watch out for Krapf Bus 304.