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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Team Lardbutt at the All American Road Race

Cyclingnews gets all kinds of emails in among the hundreds upon hundreds of messages that fill our inbox each day. And sometimes we get emails that we shouldn't, emails that were sent to Cyclingnews by accident. Yesterday, we received an inter-team communiqué from the Lardbutt Team Leader to one of the riders.

Sorry guys, but we had to publish it.

TO: Basil.Duke@Lardbutt.com
FROM: 'RacerX'
DATE: 08/19/02

Not much to report here, Basil, except to tell you that those freakin' little Frenchmen have got it exactly right. Bike racing can sometimes be called "the race of truth." And we've certainly got a butt-load of "truth" to sift through after this weekend's race, didn't we Basil?

So far this morning, the truth seems to be a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a large coffee with extra milk. I know this, Basil, because that is what I am eating right now, very late on Sunday morning, 24 hours after we both got our asses kicked in yesterday's road race. I'm tired and disgusted, my legs feel like lead, and I plan on eating several more of these doughnuts just as soon as I finish the chocolate cruller that I am presently chewing.

Yes, Saturday's race was that bad.

It all sounded so good when we signed up to do this race, didn't it, Basil? Yessir! We were entering the "All-American Road Race" right outside of Washington, D.C., the Nation's Capital. It was almost our patriotic duty to try our luck in something like that, wasn't it? Getting our one-day licenses and signing up to ride the CAT 5 race just seemed the thing to do.

Okay, so neither of us has raced much, but we have been tearing up the team's Sunday morning club A-ride lately, haven't we? With preparation like that, my friend, a competitive outing against a pack of jejune amateurs would seem to be a walk in the park for us, wouldn't it, Basil? Especially with you, our club's strongest rider, as our team leader for the weekend.

Basil, how could we have failed so publicly, so horribly, with a line-up like that? We are, after all, men of substance: professionals and family men. Mature men. Victory? That was almost a formality. It all sounded so.... possible.

Too bad we forgot to look at the map of the racecourse, eh Basil?

If we had looked, my friend, we would have discovered that there was 900 feet of climbing per lap. Seven miles per lap, for five laps, equalled thirty-five miles of near-constant climbing at a race pace. You're not a climber, are you Basil? Two hundred pounds is an awful lot to pedal up such steep hills. My apologies for being so unthinking when I cajoled you into entering this race. And for the sake of our friendship I will erase from my memory all of those awful names that you called me while we struggled together up those cruel, cruel hills.

At least we started strong, Basil. Remember how, on the first lap, we were trying bravely to keep the team colours up in contact with the lead group? Things quickly unravelled from there, didn't they? On the second lap we were doing our best to keep contact with the peloton. By our third (and, for us, our final) lap we were merely trying to stay in touch with our dignity, weren't we Basil? You succeeded admirably there, my friend, first hurling your water bidons and then the contents of your stomach into a rather rude crowd of jeering spectators as we left the race. There is no need to apologize now, Basil. They were getting rather tedious with their constant calls for us to "Move Up!" Our race was run at that point, but you impressed us all with the way that you handled the situation with equal measures of belligerence and panache. Our sponsors will be proud.

Ahhh, but Basil, you must remember that you were not suffering alone - I too was suffering like a sow on those hills. And while neither of us finished the bicycle race, but we did discover where we stand with respect to our fellow competitors in our own personal ''race of truth'', didn't we, my friend?

The truth is that I was not ready to do this race at all. The truth is that my body and my mind have assiduously avoided real suffering on the bike for quite a while. The truth is, if I want to keep racing as something other than CAT 5 pack fodder, I will have to suffer and put in the miles, more miles than I have been willing to ride in a long time.

These are the unavoidable truths that I took away from Saturday's race, Basil. That and a powerful hunger for doughnuts.

The bottom line, Basil, is that we will need to train harder. And when I say that ''we'' will need to train harder, what I really mean is that we will be looking to "you" to work especially hard in order to provide better support for our new team leader. That would be me, your loyal friend, RacerX.

I know, Basil, that the idea of voluntarily signing up for more suffering, more intervals, and more hills is not an attractive prospect to you right now. No one said that racing would be easy.

But - let's be blunt here, Basil - I fully expect that the brutal ass kicking that was delivered to both of us this past Saturday will provide special motivation for you, my dear friend, to even greater efforts for the team. You are not a quitter, Basil. But, I won't attempt to sugarcoat it, my friend, for what I have in mind here will require that you undergo countless hours of training in order to ensure our redemption as racers of note.

But you will be working your ass down to a nub for the purest reasons of all: the greater glory of the team. And, as I am sure that you yourself have realized by now, Basil, the surest path to success for our team is to assemble a strong pack of riders such as yourself to pull me, your team leader, to victory in these long, gruelling races.

You know how these things are, Basil. Victory can only go to one rider, and it appears that I alone have the equanimity and even temperament to be a successful team leader. Be truthful now, we found out all about that aspect of bike racing from your performance as team leader this Saturday, didn't we? We as a team cannot depend upon an ill-tempered leader who drops out at the mid-point of a race covered in vomit, spewing obscenities, and hurling water bottles at surly spectators, can we? Our sponsors would think that we were, well, unreliable.

We all salute your combative spirit, Basil, but something had to be done.

So I know, Basil, that you will understand this new division of labour within the team because you are, after all, nothing if not a team player and a consummate professional in all of your endeavours. Including bike racing. Especially bike racing.

So Basil, my friend, get out and train more. The team is depending upon you. More to the point, I am depending upon you. And I swear that the next race that we do will be flat. Real flat. And we will win, Basil. I promise.

Your Team Leader,