Names have been changed to protect the innocent
(Kennett Peterson is an Oregon-based road racer with the Hagens Berman amateur elite squad that competes at national pro/am events around the country, winning the team GC competition at the 2010 Mt. Hood cycling Classic).
By Kennett Peterson
I’ve been awarded three nicknames this season: Ferdinand the Bull, Big’uns and Catfish.
Ferdinand was my first nickname, given to me at our team training camp way back in March. I tend to break things quite frequently, like a bull in a china shop. Plus, occasionally I’ll say or do something with the IQ equivalency of a very dull bull. Although the story of Ferdinand The Bull has nothing to do with the reasons I was given the nickname, Ferdinand stuck.
The second nickname, Big’uns, is in reference to my “big guns” and my overall large size. I’m six-foot-one and 165 pounds, which may not seem that big, but to a bunch of 135-pound guys it is. The name was given to me by our team’s host family in Bend during the Cascade Cycling Classic. The host family spent a few grand trying to feed me for a week.
And finally my most recent nickname was earned at the Tour of Utah stage four criterium. I was dubbed “Catfish” because I looked like a catfish while I was hurting my way up the Main Street climb: mouth gaping open like a catfish struggling to breath out of the water.
Now, to show you how I put these nicknames to use on the bike and in everyday life, here is a report on the Sanpete Road Race in Spring City, Utah:
I woke up at 6:15 a.m., about five or six hours earlier than I like. I got a ride with a friend and a guy named John who I thought I’d never met. I made a fool of myself by introducing myself to John. I had forgotten that I met and talked with him a few days before. FERDINAND.
We drove to the race and I kept getting whiffs of urine. Either the dogs at my current host house had peed on my jacket, or I was wearing an unwashed pair of race socks that may or may not have gotten doused with a bit of my own wee a few days earlier. FERDINAND. We got to the race. I accidentally dropped my bike on the ground. FERDINAND. I also still hadn’t cleaned up the vomit all over my frame left over from the final stage of the Tour of Utah. FERDINAND.
The race started at the blasting of a Civil War canon. I followed an attack or two in the first mile. We were all in our biggest gears with a heavy tail wind pushing us from behind at 35 miles an hour. After a slew of hard attacks and some short-term guttering, I launched a counter attack and got away with two other guys. We drilled it for 20 miles while the peloton slowly but surely lost its 30-second grasp on us. We got out of sight and built up about four minutes. One of my breakmates was working hard with me. The other guy was just pulling through and immediately sliding off the front, just going through the motions. He may have been the smart one. After all, there were a lot of miles left to race. I was not thinking of this. I was drilling it. I was sucking air. CATFISH.
The course was 98 miles of super heavy wind and small rolling hills. I was right at home. But while the lead car was off getting a cup of coffee or something, we took a wrong turn while I was on the front and temporarily got lost. FERDINAND.
We doubled back and got on track, but in the process lost a few minutes to the chase group behind us. About 10 guys bridged to us at the halfway point in the race. Our group was too big now. We all messed around for a bit, attacking and sitting on and what not. I covered all the moves. There were two large teams present, both with three or four guys in our 15-man group that each took turns trying to get away. Eventually five of us got away in a strong headwind portion of the course. Both the large teams had successfully gotten two guys in the move. Being teammate-less and off the front from mile one, the odds weren’t in my favor. Despite this, we all worked evenly together. After 20 more miles of riding in the wind I was sucking more and more air. Thoughts of sitting on occurred to me but I pushed those thoughts away, deciding to suck more air instead. CATFISH.
Another 20 miles and my new breakmates were starting to look more and more like catfish themselves. In fact, we started to resemble a bayou fisherman’s successful catch of five large catfish on a muddy Louisiana riverbank, wide-eyed, sucking wind with gaping mouths, flopping aimlessly in a confused attempt to get back to the water. I fought off the catfish face, dug through my pockets and plunged down my mouth fist-fulls of nasty, sticky Swedish Fish and black liquorish, which I had stupidly coated in sea salt the night before. FERDINAND.
Twenty more miles and we were crawling along in the headwind at 12 miles an hour, the peloton behind us having given up at last. With seven miles to go we reached a very gradual climb about a mile long. One guy attacked. I followed a wheel up to him as the gap was closed. Another attack and it was just down to three of us, our other two previous allies now good and dropped. I started breathing extra heavily, trying to trick the guy in front into thinking I was about to pop if he kept up the pace. He kept going hard. The fool!
He slowed a bit as he began to crack and I attacked with everything. I broke him and the guy on my wheel like my first bike frame this year (airline’s fault not mine), like my second bike frame this year (pavement’s fault not mine), broke them like my multiple rear wheels, like the 11 tubes I’ve flatted during races this year, like the three times I’ve broken my power meter this year, like my ipod, like my laptop, like the five spatulas at host houses I’ve burnt on stoves, like all the windows I broke this year, like all my lady-friends’ hearts (OK, that may be an exaggeration), but the point is I broke them like frail old twigs, gave a Lance look-back, and soloed the last six miles to the finish line … where I gave a one-armed flex as I crossed under the finish banner. BIG’UNS.
After the race I feasted on greasy chicken at the free barbecue. I also chugged a bunch of really sweet canned juice, then threw up orange liquid all over the grass right in front of a long line of people waiting to serve themselves food. FERDINAND OUT.
“How I got that job,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 17, 2010