Monday, November 9, 2009

Cycling's Ultimate Sacrifice, Bike Race Carpool Domestique

(Driving cheap-wad cycling buddies to the next race/ride? Print 3 copies of this and put them in the seatpockets of your car)

Dear Bike Race/Ride Carpool People,

It has been brought to my attention by The Best Bike Blog Ever* that not all cyclists are tighter than a fresh out-of-the-shrink-wrap skinsuit. So, when the car pulls up to the pump on the way home, it is highly encouraged that you kick-in a couple extra bucks more than the minimum amount on the gas pump gauge divided by the car’s occupants. It may be called “gas money,” but it’s oh so much more than that.

While you may not perceive it, there is a real value in being able to nod off on the way home from the race and having the freedom to install toe-spikes on mountain bike shoes while en-route to the race. On the way home, you may not realize it, but the driver wants nothing more than to put his head down and take a little snoozy nappy nap at 75mph. However, the fear of crashing the car with four friends and a fortune of carbon fiber on the roof in Nowhere County USA keeps him in a higher state of nervous alertness than riding a cliff-side trail in Moab.

So, feel very lucky to be traveling in this race carpool. The driver is a highly skilled bike race driver. Over the course of many years of racing he precisely knows how get you to the race with time to spare, while avoiding tickets and running your carbon fiber frame into the overhang at the out of town ATM. Essentially, it’s encouraged to tip your driver, simply for driving. For example, while a trip from Cincinnati to Lexington and back may only cost $23 worth of gas, I heard the guy who writes The Best Bike Blog Ever was very thankful to his teammates and riding companions to have $28 in his wallet Monday Morning and yummy burrito leftovers from a free lunch at El Mariachi. In fact, the next day he all but forgot that he missed the podium at the race, but had a great time with friends.

Ya see, while your still in a morning fog and sipping from the coffee mug you won last week, the driver of the carpool is fully alert and spending energy which otherwise might be used on the race course. In short, it’s cycling’s ultimate sacrifice. Like a road race domestique, the driver is using his reserves in order to get you to the race in time to comfortably take care of business, accidently pin your number on the wrong side and, if it’s a cyclocross race, make the open course window.

You may not have realized it, but before you even stuffed your oversized duffle in the back, the driver put in at least an hours worth of work researching the route and printing off maps. He also back timed the departure time to account for a pee & coffee stop, the transfer of bicycles, and to navigate the idiotic circle freeway system of the race town. Plus he likely pre-programmed the GPS, cleaned the fast food wrappers out of the car and brushed the dog hair off the upholstery the night before the race. Kindly, he also packed his own pump, tool box and bike stand, so you wouldn’t have to bring yours.

While the driver is well aware of the safety of your bike and person, keep in mind, in order to buy you a few extra minutes in case of a long line at the single godforsaken race venue port-a-poddy, he’s also driving at 11-19mph over the speed limit while keeping his eye out for angry State Troopers that got stuck working on Sunday morning in Nowhere County USA. He may appear as calm as the cows in the meadow on the side of the road and might fool you with a few jokes in conversation, however the driver of the race carpool is also uncomfortably ultra aware that there is approximately ten thousand dollars worth of bikes on the roof. During the course of the trip the shocking thought will cross his mind at least three times that he isn’t quite sure if there were to be a mishap with a drive thru window overhang what his insurance would actually cover, what the deductible would be and if the incident would mess up an otherwise great friendship.

So please, if the pump reads $34.58 when we make our gas stop, and there are five stinky souls in the car, do not consult your cell phone calculator and start the division. Just round it up to the next highest ten dollar amount, divide by the amount of passengers, hand over $10 and say, “thanks for driving.”

What, you didn’t bring cash? No worries. The driver realizes that some occupants don’t routinely deal in cash transactions. If that’s the case, paying for the driver’s post race lunch is highly encouraged and can take the place of the ante for the gas. Another nice gesture is to meet the driver before he swipes his card at the pump and offer to put the first ten bucks on your card.

Thank you and enjoy your race day,

The Management


brighton velo said...

Awesome post - you've written the catechism for the carpool.

SMB tech geeks said...

I'll forward this to my step-dad, who has the misfortune to own a nice big van, just perfect for four bikes & their respective owners to pile into on race day!! He's also the one who has to get to the airport at three in the morning to check everyone's bike bags onto the flight to training camp & events... ;0)