[Attacking. It's the only way bike races are won, yet how and
when to do it are among the most elusive skills. Unless you race for
Battley Harley-Davidson, anyway. They pelt competitors from a ceaseless
hail of attacks, as if the black skies opened up and into a torrential
painstorm. They attack so hard that the course climbs into the sag
wagon. They attack so fiercely that that Chuck Norris is rumored to be
in negotiations with the team, offering to trade his roundhouse kick
for their VO2 max. They attack while the early bird is dead asleep, and
after the fat lady has sung.
This installment of Not Like a Wussy is attacked by three members of the Battley Harley-Davidson team: Chuck Hutcheson, Russ Langley and Dave Fuentes. See Part 1 here and Part 3 here.
How to not attack like a wussy
Part 2: How to "Turn the Screw"
by Russ Langley, Battley Harley-Davidson p/b Sonoma
What does the term turning the screws mean? To me it's the torturous pace that's set for the pure enjoyment of knowing whoever is on your wheel has been put into a world of pain. The goal isn't to drop someone - it's to crush their spirit. If you wanted to drop someone you would attack not like a wussy and be done with it. You want people sitting on your wheel thinking "how is it possible he's going this fast" and right when you've got em' on the ropes you up the pace.
It starts with the image which is part of the intimidation factor; you need a tough sounding nickname, for example "The Muscle". Don't go and give yourself a nickname because that's gay (no offense gay biker dude). You have to earn your nickname. Mine was given to me by Eddy Van Guise the announcer at the Super Week races eight or nine years ago "Russell The Muscle". Back then I was a bit stockier so the name was more appropriate. Over the years I've thinned down a bit so I'm not sure if it still applies (one year for Halloween I went as The Hulk but everyone thought I was sprout - ho ho ho Green Giant).
The next thing you have to work on is a really, really, really mean look. For me it was easy - I was born with a mean look. At times I look in the mirror and scare myself but then I remember I'm the muscle. As you work on your look you have to implicate it and you can do this in your daily life, the grocery store, at work or even at home with your family. You'll know when you've succeeded with the look because everyone will despise you, try to fight you, or you'll get called an a## h*** on a regular basis.
The last thing, and this one is optional, is a mean looking tattoo or tattoos. I say optional because tattoos are permanent and some of you will only perpetrate this image for a short period, others this is a life time goal and whole fully goes along with the hate and despair that we wake up to on a daily basis. Skulls, flames, daggers, animal like characters with horns are just a few options but highly recommended.
Now that you've got your image dialed in it's time to implicate the term and turn some screws. We'll use Chuck as an example as he was the last victim to this term and he's a good sport.
10 A.M. ride Saturday out of Rock Creek. Not a big group but a solid group of strong riders which is good in this case because it doesn't leave a lot of room for someone to hide. As we're rolling out Chuck and I are blabbing away, "yeah I'm pretty tired, yeah I'm somewhat injured, yeah I did the 7A.M"., all of these excuses although somewhat valid are part of the lamb to the slaughter. Chuck feeling comfort in the fact that we're both not 100 percent but we're still two of the stronger riders out there proceeded to jack up the pace at a point were it's usually fairly casual. Me I'm sitting second wheel in a nice comfortable spin waiting... waiting... and then I see a gap to the pack. This is where you start to turn the screws a bit, not by crushing it but by stretching it out with the guy you're with. Don't crush it yet, it's not time. What you're doing is staying in front of everyone else and making them chase; when they catch you they'll be gassed and you'll be ready to crush 'em.
At this point most of the guys are hesitant and not willing to pull through except for good ol' Chuck. Chuck and I are slogging away towards what most people think is a red light but I know it's about to change. We have a slight gap as most of the guys are taking a deep breath thinking they have a respite coming. The light turns green and I hit it, hard! Chuck was able to stay with me but couldn't pull through; this is when you turn around, no matter how much you're hurting, give a smile and up the pace. I dropped him on the down hill.
Now you're out front, what do you do? You go hard, not hard enough to blow yourself out, but hard enough to stay in front.
A few miles later, a few rollers later Chuck put in a big effort on a down hill to catch on. Knowing the ride is very important, so as soon as he caught on we made a right hand turn and started the hardest hill of the ride (he didn't know the route). This was were I wanted to make him bleed though his eyeballs. I put my head down and went as hard as I could (I hurt myself but I knew he was hurting more) and as I crested the top I looked back and could barely see him in the group behind. Unfortunately I didn't know he wasn't on my wheel so the effort I put in was somewhat in vain (a beautiful waste of energy).
At the half way point they caught me and I pulled through like it was no problem but I was hurting; show no pain. After the ride everyone is talking about where they cracked, where they dug deep, how they were just hanging on, you just sit there with the look of a Buddhist Monk and smile contently. The Muscle feels no pain, at least that's what you think.