Rule 43: Don’t be a Jackass

Rule 43: Don’t be a Jackass

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Not being a jackass seems simple enough in spirit but can be difficult to operationalize. Waving to another cyclist because they are on a bike and not ‘the right’ kind of bike reduces your jackassness. But what if that cyclist is clearly riding his daughter’s bike to work because he probably got a third DUI? Taking the time to at least say hello to, if not get to know, everyone in your Tuesday night group ride is another. Especially if you’re the guy who lays the group to waste. The one I struggle with is not escalating tiffs with jackass motorists.

And yet another is living La Vie Velominatus by organizing events, building community, and providing cyclists opportunities to do what they love, en masse, simply because you love it when people ride bikes. Chris Skogen, the organizer of Minnesota’s Almanzo 100, is such a Velominatus. I do not know Chris and only briefly met him and saw him in action this past weekend, but he’s the type of person who exudes stoke for cycling (especially Gravelling) as one of the ambassadors of the Midwest’s gravel scene. Along with the other organizers of the Ragnarok 105 and Heck of the North, Skogen, the lead on the Almanzo 100, Royal 162, and Gentleman’s Ride, is a key figure in an extraordinary series of races.

This year was my fist entry into the Almanzo. One thing that sets it apart from the Heck of the North is that entry is not limited by numbers of riders. It seems anybody who signs up via postcard between the specified dates gets a slot, whereas the Heck is limited by lottery. Planning and budgeting for this must be a challenge as the race is totally free. Yes, read it again, free. Free stuff is good but when stuff is free expectations have nowhere to go but up. What Skogen offers in terms of support, SWAG, and hospitality could easily come at a premium and often does at races. He has done a fantastic job garnering sponsors and community supporters who all make the racers feel welcomed and appreciated. I can only hope that other riders expressed their gratitude to the locals as well.

I’ll spare you a race/ride report. Instead, I’ll try to provide you with a sense of the place the race occurs. Imagine the farm fields of Flanders periodically dipping down into numerous pastoral river valleys. Add to that the white gravel roads of Tuscany raced over in Il Strada Bianche and you’re pretty much there. These are not intermittent sectors of gravel but a continuous network of crushed limestone endemic to the area that intertwine for what must be thousands of miles. Over the course of the race I’d estimate not more than 10k were ridden on tarmac. The deep little river valleys are beautiful and thrilling places to descend into and provide really challenging climbs as they peter out onto gently rolling farmland above. This is especially true given the loose gravel. Comfort climbing in the saddle is a prerequisite to prevent tire slippage. Furthermore, the rolling farm land was no respite from the steep little climbs on race day as the wind was blowing at a sustained 40kph and gusting to 55. I was pushing the 34-17 on my ALAN to go downhill at times and nearly blown over or off the road several times.

The gravel is loose and deep compared to the more compacted gravel I’m used to in the northern part of the state. This early in the season it has also been freshly graded and added to by the local municipalities after a punishing winter. I had arrived the night before the race with my lucky Open Pave’s from the Keepers Tour mounted to my cross bike. After the pre-race Spaghetti feed I decided to recon some of the local gravel. Thankfully I’d thrown my Michelin CX-Jet tires in at the last minute as skinny road tires were much less than confidence inspiring. Descending these roads at 50+ and cornering would be downright sketchy so I hurried to remount my “fatties” before dark. I heard several first time riders who’d ridden road tires after the race comment that they wouldn’t be doing that again.

But back to not being a Jackass. In addition to an extremely well organized and SWAG’d-out event, Skogen seemed to be everywhere. He greeted everyone at the door of the spaghetti feed, welcomed each rider to the start line (before leading the entire field in a chorus of Happy Birthday to his 6-year old son, Jack), was seen at numerous places on the course encouraging riders, and welcomed each of us to the finish line with a handshake and a smile. His countless army of red-shirted volunteers were warm of heart and always smiling. He commented to me before the start that he felt terribly that he’d only rented three porta-potties as we looked at the line of 50 or so waiting to relieve themselves pre-race. I laughed and said I’d just come from the line and heard nothing but easy banter and a laid-back aesthete. He walked over and apologized to everyone in line anyways. It was apparent to me that the Almanzo is truly a labor of love for Chris and he approached it and the riders with kindness and humility.

There are so many things that we can step back and say cycling is about. The Bike, Rule #5, tradition, culture, the list goes on.The Almanzo covers all these bases handily. I ‘d posit that perhaps, though, it is really about Rule #43. If we really want people to enjoy riding bikes let’s not start by telling them to Harden the Fuck Up, shave their guns, or remove that fugly YJA. They will choose that path for themselves in due time. Let’s start by not being a jackass. If being kind is too much for you, you can at least not be a jackass. We could stand to take a lesson from Chris Skogen and welcome all comers – hard or soft, shaved or hairy. We’re not telling you to go out and create a badass race requiring heaps of Rule #5 that attracts some pretty strong riders on cool-ass bikes. We’re just saying that however you engage with cycling – including on this site – don’t be a jackass.

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Here’s a link to some great photos of the race.

I Strava’d my ride but my phone battery shit the bed at Km 118. Have a look if you care to here.

 

// Racing // The Rides // The Rules

  1. @Marcus
    Don’t tell me you missed rubbing elbows with them at the All Antipodes Rocket Science Convention.

  2. @Marcus
    heh, well you DID call me a boy genius earlier in the week…

  3. @Marcus

    @Nate

    It’s rocket surgery, you nongs…

  4. @brett

    @Marcus
    @Nate
    It’s rocket surgery, you nongs…

    Is that what the kids call it these days?

  5. @Nate

    @Marcus
    Don’t tell me you missed rubbing elbows with them at the All Antipodes Rocket Science Convention.

    The Aussies tried to launch a rocket, but they couldn’t design one that fit that big chip on their shoulders.

  6. @frank

    @Nate

    @Marcus
    Don’t tell me you missed rubbing elbows with them at the All Antipodes Rocket Science Convention.

    The Aussies tried to launch a rocket, but they couldn’t design one that fit that big chip on their shoulders.

    It simply costs far too much to lift a payload that huge into LEO…

  7. @frank

    @Nate

    @Marcus
    Don’t tell me you missed rubbing elbows with them at the All Antipodes Rocket Science Convention.

    The Aussies tried to launch a rocket, but they couldn’t design one that fit that big chip on their shoulders.

    The propulsion system is also a serious roadblock. Infinite Improbability is out, as it was infinitely improbably that a bunch of fair skinned miscreatants from the British Isles would set up a penal colony in the same place that brought us wombats, platypuses and box jellyfish.

  8. @frank
    Not bad Fronky. We are well balanced down here. Chips on both shoulders
    @Nate
    You couldn’t even name three native Aussie creatures (box jfish ain’t particularly ours)? The ignorance of Americans never fails to astound me. But then again I shouldn’t be too surprised – it was you and your ignorant countrymen who didn’t understand adjustable rate mortgages which started all this shit. And then it was the stupid Europeans that bought them all. Fucking idiots the lot of you.

    Thank Christ for the Chinese.

  9. @Marcus
    The box jellyfish might not limit themselves to tormenting your countrymen but they’ve been doing so for at least 100 years. Although maybe the Northern Territories don’t count? While I do not and never have had an adjustable rate mortgage I will admit to being ignorant on the finer points of intra-Australian prejudices, stereotypes, etc. although thanks to you I will avoid Canberra should I ever visit your fair country.

  10. @Nate
    To continue your edification box jellyfish aren’t the big problem, bluebottles are – in NSW and Queensland. They r fucking everywhere, sting thousands of people every year (google tells me between 10,000 and 30,000 per year) make many beaches in far north Queensland unusable during summer (truly) and mean that many kids (nippers) up there wear full length bodysuits when swimming. And from personal experience they fucking hurt.

    When you and your buddies go to the Northern Territory and Qld you can avoid this problem by swimming in rivers and saltwater swimming holes. You will be safe from stingers there.

  11. @Marcus
    So I can become lunch for a crocodile instead I suppose?

  12. @frank

    @Nate

    @Marcus
    Don’t tell me you missed rubbing elbows with them at the All Antipodes Rocket Science Convention.

    The Aussies tried to launch a rocket, but they couldn’t design one that fit that big chip on their shoulders.

    Brilliant, and so true.

    @Marcus

    @Nate
    To continue your edification box jellyfish aren’t the big problem, bluebottles are – in NSW and Queensland. They r fucking everywhere, sting thousands of people every year (google tells me between 10,000 and 30,000 per year) make many beaches in far north Queensland unusable during summer (truly) and mean that many kids (nippers) up there wear full length bodysuits when swimming. And from personal experience they fucking hurt.

    When you and your buddies go to the Northern Territory and Qld you can avoid this problem by swimming in rivers and saltwater swimming holes. You will be safe from stingers there.

    Yet stupid fucking Aussies still go to the beach. “It’s a stinking hot day, think I’ll go where there is no shade, sit on sand that gives me 3rd degree burns, then jump into the bluebottle pool to cool down.” Never ceases to amaze me the fascination with the beach.

    Good advice on the rivers though…

  13. @brett

    Going to the beach is the natural, if unrecognized (sort of a Lizard-brain instinct thing), struggle of the Aussie to leave the penal colony that is their country.

    Getting to the beach and into the bluebottle pool is as far as most of them get, however, as they run out of Fosters and are forced to turn back.

  14. @mcsqueak

    Except even Aussies aren’t stupid enough to drink Fosters…

  15. Marcus tried to tell me that before, still don’t believe it. The name Australia is forever linked to that brew.

  16. @mcsqueak
    Once again -THEY DONT SELL FOSTERS IN AUSTRALIA

    @Nate
    About one (very stupid) person a year – usually a tourist – dies this way. On such matters. I almost got very lucky last summer. My mother in law was having a nap out in the backyard, she wakes up and there is a tiger snake a few feet away from her. In what I can only imagine was a gesture of professional respect between reptiles, the snake just slithered away. And then made her son in law go out looking for the little tiger snake she just saw.

  17. @Marcus

    @mcsqueak
    Once again -THEY DONT SELL FOSTERS IN AUSTRALIA

    How do you explain this?

  18. @Marcus

    @mcsqueak
    Once again -THEY DONT SELL FOSTERS IN AUSTRALIA

    Don’t they just water it down and sell it to aussies at a premium as a “crownie”

  19. @Marcus

    @Nate
    To continue your edification box jellyfish aren’t the big problem, bluebottles are – in NSW and Queensland. They r fucking everywhere, sting thousands of people every year (google tells me between 10,000 and 30,000 per year) make many beaches in far north Queensland unusable during summer (truly) and mean that many kids (nippers) up there wear full length bodysuits when swimming. And from personal experience they fucking hurt.

    When you and your buddies go to the Northern Territory and Qld you can avoid this problem by swimming in rivers and saltwater swimming holes. You will be safe from stingers there.

    However, you’ll be eaten by a crocodile…

  20. @Nate

    @Marcus
    So I can become lunch for a crocodile instead I suppose?

    Arse – Should have read down a bit before I posted

  21. @mcsqueak

    Marcus tried to tell me that before, still don’t believe it. The name Australia is forever linked to that brew.

    I can’t believe no one’s made the “it’s like sex in a canoe gag yet”…

  22. Or this. Surely this is authentic Australian cuisine:

  23. @Marcus

    @frank
    Not bad Fronky. We are well balanced down here. Chips on both shoulders
    @Nate
    But then again I shouldn’t be too surprised – it was you and your ignorant countrymen who didn’t understand adjustable rate mortgages which started all this shit. And then it was the stupid Europeans that bought them all. Fucking idiots the lot of you.

    Thank Christ for the Chinese.

    Actually, the banking system understood them very well. So well, in fact, that they shifted most of the risk offshore, which is why this has become a global crisis rather than just an American one.

    It was brilliant, really. You’re welcome.

  24. @Marcus In what I can only imagine was a gesture of professional respect between reptiles,

    Come on, there has to be a badge or something for that! (Goes to find cloth to wipe spilled drink of kevboard)

  25. whole wheat bread with buttermilk

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