Monday, February 25, 2008

Racing - Ordering Team Kits and Dinner

Now that I'm no longer my own team, I have to order my kit through a "real" team's "kit ordering procedures". All the teams I've ever joined had slightly different versions of this, and all of them had the same complaints, protests, requests, demands, everything. This was one of the reasons why I liked being my own team - I did the order, I paid for it, and I did whatever I wanted.

Of course, that's done now. None of this "Let me buy a bunch of stuff in my size and use whatever people don't buy" business.

But the team's procedures were pretty mellow, as long as you knew what you wanted and had the money to pay for it. Luckily I now know what I want from a racing kit. My first few years I spent literally days thinking about one or two jerseys, one or two shorts, should I get a skinsuit, so on and so forth.

Would have driven the missus bananas had I been like that with the team clothing.

In my ultimate knowledge, I decided to buy two short sleeve, one long sleeve, two bib shorts, and one bib knickers.

No vest. I forgot it at the time and I'm wondering if I'll need one. Probably.

But for now it's staying off the list. We actually had a team meeting (haven't been to one of those in about 10 years). We tried on clothes. I didn't, I know what I need.

One size larger than I should, two sizes larger than I did.

I laid out quite a bit of money for that stuff, but, when I think of it, it's a lot less than the $4 or $5k or so I laid out for the three team orders I made over the course of a season.

We had a short team meeting, then caravaned around town looking for a place to eat. We found one in the next town over on our second try. Or was it our third? I don't remember.

That "next town over" is a very chi-chi town, and, as I pointed out to my friend's girlfriend when we got the menus, "This doesn't seem like a menu for unemployed people." She leaned over conspiratorially and told me the burgers were pretty good.

And they fit the correct budget range - "the cheapest thing on the menu", but still more expensive that what a 16 year old girl would order. In other words, I wasn't going to get some small fries to split with my three friends, and drink water. And hang out for 2 hours, gabbing away, eating up potential revenue for the waiter.

(This happened to our favorite waiter in Avon, or is it Simsbury there? Where ever, he was funnily unhappy about that situation when he described it to us).

At that meeting, and more over dinner, I met a bunch of guys I hadn't met before. I mean, I met them, yeah, but they were in lycra and helmets and sunglasses and it was a bit chaotic. Dinner is so much more... civilized.

It's the main reason I went, because if I really wanted to, I could have just emailed a list of clothing I wanted to order. I knew what I needed, after all, and it's not like my email doesn't work.

I mean, unless I don't want it to. But that's a different story.

The teammates, though, they were key. I joined the team based on the people I met, but that was maybe 5 or 6 people. I wanted to meet more of them, see what made them tick, check out the group dynamics, things like that.

One was a really modest guy. Guys kept pointing to him and saying "Cat 2" like it was a joke, so I was like, "haha, he's a Cat 2."

Then, when someone asked him to pull out his '08 license (to check out a new 2008 license), I peered at it.

Cat 5 on the track. Ha! I'm a Cat 4. And I only raced two days, five races! Grandfathered in, but, hey, I'll take that.

Cat 3 for cyclocross. Hmf. I'm a 4 there. Never done one though, and unless something weird happens to me, I never will.

And for the road?

Cat 2.


Dag, he really is a 2. I handed back the license with a little more reverence, a little more respect.

Mister Unemployed (moi) had the very good, very inexpensive $10 burger. I sipped water, waiter or no waiter. I didn't want to up my bill by 50% to get a soda or beer or something. I couldn't.

I needed money for something else. I read somewhere, probably Reader's Digest (because if I don't remember where I read a nice story, it was probably Reader's Digest), about a kid buying some ice cream. It goes something like this:

The Kid and the Ice Cream Story

Little kid walks into an diner. He has a bunch of coins tightly gripped in his hands. Sits on a stool, barely able to see over the counter. A waitress comes over, asks him what he'd like to have.

Kid responds in a quiet voice. "How much is the ice cream?"

Waitress responds, "$3.00 with tax for a double scoop. $2.25 with tax for a single scoop. And hot fudge is included."

Kid looks in his hand. Concentrates, moving his fingers just a bit, double checking exactly what coins he has in there. Does some math with his fingers and stuff.

He looks up at the waitress.

"I'd like a single scoop please."

Waitress smiles, gets the ice cream, brings it over, placed a napkin down, and hands the kid a spoon.

"Thank you," came from the kid.

Waitress watches the kid slowly eat the ice cream, savoring every mouthful. Finally he's done. He wipes his mouth and puts the spoon down.

"You all done, hon'?" asks the waitress.

"Yes ma'am, I'm all done."

"Here's the check, thanks for coming by." And the waitress walks off.

The kid carefully counts out quarters, dimes and nickels. Leaves it on the tab. And steps down to the floor and walks out the door.

Waitress walks over, picks up the check, picks up the change. She goes to the register and starts counting it out.

There were three dollars in coins there.

The End

Anyway, I always have to make room for a tip. So I did. I knew I was staying at my dad/brother's place, and the fridge there is always full. And I didn't ride today or yesterday, so I wouldn't have to eat that much. Ultimately I pitched in $15 for the tab - hopefully that was enough because that's every penny I had in my pocket.

Luckily it wasn't in change.

The dinner ended up the most fun. I didn't really know virtually any of the guys but a couple of them actually read the blog. One even told me his favorite story. I in turn revealed who the ex-pro was who features in a number of my stories. This got a lot of unexpected conversation going, not because of the stories, but because of the ex-pro's identity.

He happened to be at the table with us.

In fact, it was his girlfriend that suggested the burger.


Colin R said...

Never done one though, and unless something weird happens to me, I never will.

You have no idea what you're missing.

Anonymous said...

The USA Cycling racer categorization system is a JOKE! Riders cry to Diane F. for a upgrade ... and they get it. A rider from Cheshire has one podium finish in a Cat.3/4 race, applies for Cat.1, AND GETS IT! Riders boast of their Category instead of their performance.

Aki said...

The Cat 2 in question earned his upgrade where he lived until now - in the mid west.

USAC's categories are pretty fair, and I think they lean towards sandbagging, i.e. they tend not to upgrade people that ought to be upgraded (National Champions as Cat 3s? If they're the best in the country, what about all the 2s and 1s in their age/sex).

If someone wants to be a Cat 1, more power to them. If they don't deserve to be a 1 then they'll just have a miserable time. If you name a name, then I'll believe your story, or post under a real name, not anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Aki - Definitely try cross its a blast even if you finish last and on a Mtn Bike,. It will serve you will in your crit bike handling skills also.

See you at the races and dont let JP give you any slack on the new team :).