I ate oysters on Friday.
Oysters, as seen here, not to be confused with clams which is the subject of this blog entry. Read on.
Every four years we the people of the United States are provided the opportunity to vote for a new leader of the modern free world. At our historical peak, four out of five citizens turned out to vote. That was the hotly contested defeat of Martin Van Buren by none other than William Henry Harrison. Oh man, an instant classic! Nowadays, we’re shooting just above 50% of our population, which is reason enough for me to try hard to be as abrasive as possible and stir the pot when it comes to conversations that steer down the political path. This time of year, and especially as a New Hampshire denizen, I love playing devils advocate whenever conversationally possible. Donald Trump makes that painfully easy. Where am I going with this? Don’t mess with Senator Leahy.
Is this a political blog? Not a chance. Let’s cut to the order of business. #TamSlam.
A few weeks back during what one might call the BBWE (ahem, best birthday weekend ever) I had the pleasure of riding with Ed, an accented British bloke turned San Franciscan, who invited me and some friends on the Tam Slam. Being the new guy to town, I have no idea the history of the Tam Slam, but it has it’s own hashtag and therefore instant legitimacy. What is the Tam Slam? It’s a group of cyclists who gather on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge, then pedal across to Marin, rip through Sausalito, next into Mill Valley, turn left through town, at which point the pace then shifts from fast to ludicrous speed as they race the final frigging 18km to the top. Then home.
And why? Because there is a plastic, comically large toy clam at stake, duh. A Tam Slam Clam, if you will.
Mind you, this is a Wednesday morning ride. It’s monthly, give or take, because this ride is supremely taxing. Whereas other “Wednesday World Championships” rides roll out at the more reasonable time of 9am (I’ve discovered that work is optional in both Marin and Boulder on Wednesday mornings, which is a fantastic work ethos I can get behind) or 5:30pm, these Bay area folks are go-getters and that involves starting the ride at 5:45am. Yes, AM. Geezum crow, merely waking up to be on a bike, let alone riding at that hour is taxing.
So thankfully it’s not obligatory to sign in at the south side of the bridge and prove your attendance at the start of the Tam Slam, because I sure as crap am not riding 30km before 6am. I did a little mental and geographical calculation whereupon it was concluded that a 5:30am wake up would be adequate. My homestead is a literal stone’s throw from the course so rather than a warm-up of any variety, I thought a 2 pedal stroke coast to Equator for coffee would be a far smarter move. I had the fortune to step into Equator at 6:00:03 and my buddy Jordan was already ordering a coffee. We caught up for fifteen minutes before jumping headlong into the hard charging Tam Slam peloton.
First at 6:16am and again at 7:16am, here’s the very startling realization of the Tam Slam: a 2 pedal, 2 minute coast followed by a 15 minute casual coffee and conversation is akin to a kick to the throat and eating a bag of Twinkies at the start line of a criterium. Nay friends, this pre-race routine I indulged upon today was not the best segue into an hour long smashingly hard hill climb. Live and learn.
Thankfully after seven years of racing in the ProTour and not a single interval completed since I hit retirement, I have a smidgen of tactical wherewithal. That allowed me to see the peloton dwindle from, ehh, 40’ish to say 6’ish, whereupon I recorded this sweet vid from my Cycliq Fly12, chucked it in the gutter on this blastingly windstrewn section and guillotined the remaining group in half.
What heck is the point of all this? It’s that bikes are awesome! It’s that waking up at 5:23am is completely ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination. But still completely worth it. It’s that racing doesn’t need to involve a number pinned to your back nor racing for a $25 preme. It’s for showing up to work at 8:30am full of energy and fading hard by 3pm. Racing isn’t for the results (unless you win). No, it’s for bragging rights and laying claim to a plastic clam for a full month.
Yup, bikes are awesome. Thanks again Ed.