Manual for Speed is finally launching a training blog experience called Amateur Animal Cycling Krew (AACK). AACK will be written by Chris Duroy, Patrick Newell and Daniel Wakefield Pasley, three of Amateur American Road Cycling’s preeminent aficionados and adherents. But this project isn’t just another tired example of armchair commentary and re-hashed training data. AACK is an interactive multi-media experience. It’s a training blog and an informational resource specifically catered to those who want to be a part of putting the animal spirit back into Road Racing.
Animal Spirit? What’s that mean? It means you take the algorithmic race plans and modern, science-based strategies and you throw them in the trash. You take power meters, athlete food, sound racing strategy, and all the common sense that has lead road cycling to the banal “control the race”, “watch your power meter”, “stay in your zone” style of riding that has surgically and methodically removed any and all excitement from the sport, and you throw them in the trash. Then you dump a Sunday afternoon county fair Porta Potty on top of it, crash into it with a gas station refueling truck and fire a few dozen flaming arrows into the middle of the huge, stinking pile of rubbish. Now that you’ve got this garbage fire roaring take a look at yourself in the mirror; what you see reflected back at you is the Animal Spirit. Now you know.“AACK is concerned with guts, with panache, with style, with winning the race from the front, talking trash, eating horse meat, tanning beds, hair gel, and mid-thigh tanlines. AACK is about injecting excitement back into the sport of road racing. If this means controversy, antagonism, and strife, well, so be it.”AACK
How do we intend to accomplish this? We intend to use the the powers of the internet, we intend to use crowd psychology, we intend to use the competitive spirit that is hardwired into humanity, the competitive spirit that has been stifled by the tyranny of strict adherence to results results results. Hey, we still GIVE A SHIT about winning, don’t get me wrong, it’s the point. We just think winning is holistic. If you look like shit doing it, have no style, and drain the fun out of winning in the process, you’re doing it wrong.
We told you what it is already. It’s an interactive online blog experience written by Patrick, Chris and Daniel that features advice, insights, hyperbole, POV, conflicts, shit talking, comments, veiled threats and unveiled threats about the only shit that matters in cycling:
Chris DuRoy, I have a longer name but it’s not necessarily germane so we can move on. I’m a Libra, my favorite color is blue and I am 46 years old. Like DWP, I’m definitely in that second window of time in my life where my girls are able to feed and clothe themselves.
I’m from Oklahoma. I grew up in Ponca City; a smallish town near the border with Kansas. Farmland and ranchland for miles. Parties on the sandbars of the Arkansas River. When I was 14, I saw Greg LeMond threaten to punch a reporter in the face during a five minute recap of a week’s worth of Tour de France racing on Wild World of Sports. It was the bellwether event in my sporting life. I knew nothing about cycling or the cycling culture other than from the BMX Action magazines I read as a kid, but this was different. This wasn’t shaky plywood jumps stacked on whatever unstable products I could find in the garage. This was exotic. This was 100+ mile bike races finishing in the mist on top of some mountain. This was Bernard Hinault finishing the stage in Ray Bans with a broken nose. I had thought that the fun of cycling ended when you got too tall and your knees started banging against the handlebars on the way to the jump. I didn’t know you could take a bicycle up the side of a mountain and then fly down the other side so much faster than any car could a’la Urs Zimmermann chasing LeMond down the side of an Alp.
The guy across the street had a Peugeot PX10 hanging up in the garage that he never rode. It was centimeters too tall for me, but I bought it from him and then instantly experienced the freedom that the bicycle provides. There wasn’t any cycling equipment to be had in Ponca City, so it was a tank top, Umbro shorts, Patrick leather soccer shoes, a baseball cap and a Walkman. Winning Magazine telling me in August who won the Giro in May. Years came and went. I got married, had two girls, worked on my career as a psychologist and all along there’s been the bike. Since the first day I rode that Peugeot, a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t thought about cycling.
Someone had to do it. Someone had to pick up the torch. Shit was getting weird out there. People are training and racing like their heroes Froome and whoever else is staring at their power meter every single second. It started with Boardman and it’s gone downhill since. Couple that with playing professional amongst the amateurs and the sport has jumped the shark. Team camps and matching everything and coordinated pop up tents and controlling the race and leadout trains instead of just racing it. The thrill of the individual in an everyone-against-everyone cage match is gone. What happened to Thunderdome? What’s left for the guy who doesn’t have a chance to outrun the tempo machine at the front of the race working for their captain? Well, I think AACK has the answer. Maybe it doesn’t have to be about the last lap. Maybe laps 3 and 7 and 12 and 15 are just as important. It’s time to race during the race and enjoy what you did. That’s what AACK is about.
Well, not much in 2016, but hopefully in 2017 you can expect AACK to be the mission statement for amateur cycling. It’s the manifesto. Racing your own race. Being the cyclist you want to be. Not worrying about your role on the team because you are the team. Racing the equipment you select based on your needs and your own sense of speed fashion. Hopefully during the year, through our own journaled experiences and insight, AACK can become that manifesto that others take up and expand on by making it their own. Taking the gems that work for them and leaving the rest behind.
Patrick and I have known each other long before we knew each other. He’s one of the progenitors of a team in the region where I have raced for years. As I remember them, they kind of shook up the scene a little bit. Irreverent as I recall. Fun loving and out to have a good time. Maybe an early team version of AACK. A group of racers who didn’t take themselves too seriously and who were out to make sure that the race was a good time. Their name, Wooly Mammoth, didn’t hurt either. It’s a little strange that Patrick had to move from Austin to Portland before we really became personally acquainted, but yeah, he’s been on the radar for a long time. I can’t wait to give him the shiv during the inaugural knife fight.
Daniel Wakefield Pasley and I go back to the Continental. Somehow, while perusing the Rapha site I came across the write-ups of the first five or so Continental rides and I read them all in one sitting. The ethos of those rides was what I had been looking for in cycling. I was tired of going in the same old circles with the same old people year in and year out. I sent my job application in for a spot as team rider that night. I didn’t know it was DWP to whom I was writing, but he was who wrote back. We corresponded about riding gravel, writing and the future of cycling. The next year brought the Oklahoma Continental Ride, the Boulder Continental Ride and the Gentleman’s race where I brought my own team after inviting ourselves by building a website and publicly accepting the invitation before it was issued. After that was Manual for Speed and the near annual meet up at Tulsa Tough along with Cyclocross Worlds and the USA Pro Challenge and on and on. We’re the opposite sides of the same coin. He’s the Cagney to my Lacy or the Stevie Wonder to my Paul McCartney. He’s known affectionately as Brad to my girls.
Being most animal is about coming into the event ready for the fight but with a plan that is no plan at all. Being physically ready for everything. Keeping your head on a swivel Jack. Sweep the leg. Anticipate the attacks before they come. Be prepared for the attack, absorb the blow and then use that energy as the launching pad for your own counter attack. AACK is the Jeet Kune Do of bike racing. It’s Bruce Lee slapping you on the head when you look at the finger pointing at the moon. Be the water my friend. Tear down the rock. Be everywhere but nowhere at the same time. Being animal is the externalization of the internal fire. It’s Drew Barrymore causing fires with her mind. When you are most animal you are never the drop off guy in the leadout train. If it comes down to the leadout you didn’t do your job on your team of one. You weren’t animal. And you need to go home and do some serious reflecting on that.
Probably because I got to go first and it wasn’t taken. I mean, obviously when you think about what’s most animal, then the natural image that comes to mind is a cheetah wearing a fighter pilot helmet. A beast that is a lean, efficient killing machine with the speed and single minded focus of a cold hearted killer combined with the modern accoutrement of a fighter helmet. The cheetah and fighter pilot have one purpose; attack and defeat as efficiently as possible, using speed and the element of surprise as their main weapon. When you line up for the knife fight and roll off the line hoping for the best, you might just find yourself in the same position as an unsuspecting African Kudu or Russian Mig or some combination of the two, that of realizing far too late that the cheetah with the fighter helmet is right behind you. ‘Going to guns Goose…’
Born and raised in Austin, TX, I grew up sprinting BMX bikes at curb-cuts while blasting punk rock and metal on a walkman. Travel and BMX dominated my late teens and early twenties, and I built my life to facilitate going fast and carving abandoned pools and full-pipes all around the country while working as little as possible.
I picked up track bikes when I settled back down and started messengering (my only stint as a professional cyclist). Quickly realizing the speed potential of big wheeled bikes and after renegading a few local charity rides, I became fixated with road cycling and acquired a series of ill-fitting race bikes. At work I’d dodge city buses wrapped in US Postal imagery of local racing hero Lance Armstrong, and at night I’d roll up to the training races around town in haggard white spandex from eBay Italia. Those open training rides were blisteringly fast and dominated by LA’s devotees aboard custom Treks and clad in all black and yellow lycra and topped with Oakley M Frames. Inundated by LA everything, I cultivated an affection for his nemesis Jan Ullrich, the most obscenely large Rudy Project sunglasses money could buy, and simultaneously became obsessed with any Euro in the pro peloton without a Livestrong bracelet and who didn’t speak english.
This burgeoning disgust at the style and attitude of the road racing scene in ATX in the early 2000s motivated me to found a cycling team with my best friend that strived to celebrate the romance, tradition and ultra of European bike racing… in central Texas. Wooly Mammoth has been competing for the last 15 years—the longest running amateur professional joke bike racing team since the Neolithic period.
At this point in my cycling life, I’m returning from a few years away from serious competition due to actual, legit career changes, raising a human child, and forays into MTBing and cycle touring. Over this time, I’ve used coaching to stay involved with friends who were getting into racing for the first time, or who are getting serious about getting fit.
For me the term Coach is one of reverence. In my eyes, to be called Coach, (I gave myself the title and require my athletes to refer to me thus) raises my status to that of a doctor, lawyer or any other professional.
Bear in mind… I have no formal schooling or sports science degree whatsoever, and most of my advice is based on hearsay, some obscure passage in a long forgotten Eastern Bloc training guide, or from countless personal experiences obtained during hours of training and racing. I’ve read most of the Cyclist’s Training Bible, but def skipped some tables and graphs and maybe the last half?!
It’s ok though, my best friend has an exercise science degree from some University in Colorado—he was ALMOST a middle-school P.E. teacher. Sometimes I’ll text him for consultation.
Also, it’s important to note I am not taking on any new athletes, I charge all of my clients 95% of their salary, and I’m wealthy beyond measure.
I embraced amateurism from a very early age. I’ve been renegading rally rides for years, forming bandit teams since I was a young’un, and throwing alleycat races before Red Hook was some fixie kid’s wet dream. I love all types of two-wheeling, and encourage everyone to ride whatever makes them happy, but if you’re gonna dip your feet into the discipline I enjoy most—the road—and you’re gonna ask my opinion, I’ve got some strong viewpoints. I’ve been termed a Puritan, a Traditionalist, a Campyphile, and of course out of touch. Fine. I’m happy to be out of touch with marginal gaining, Zwifting, and anatomic bars. The old methods have worked for a hundred years and we all know they would still be working if Pros weren’t putting motors in their bikes for the TTs at Le Tour.
I view it as a training blog where we get to explore some of the old methods of preparation (mostly non-pharmaceutical in nature). I think of the ideas I intend to share as gifts to the road racing community that are the antithesis to the mainstream self-help writings and videos. There is plenty of content on GCN about how to calibrate your power meter, but where’s the video on how to calibrate your PMA and not get dropped on lap two of your local crit? WHERE is the vid about how best to rip legs off and make tons of enemies at your local events? Racing is never fun unless you’re in shape, which this blog will make you. Guidelines to turn you into scrawny, bloodthirsty lunatics. That’s what you can expect.
Daniel is my greatest work in progress. He’s technically my number four athlete, but he’s def needed the most attention over the last year. He’s a neighbor, riding partner and he introduced me to Willie who is a lizard brain mountain animal who will make you puke four times in a one hour workout. DWP and I are very opposite in some of our opinions, but equally passionate about our displeasure with the current state of road cycling. I think we view things from a similar background, skateboarding and BMX culture, and therefore are confounded by people who miss the passion and style in cycling and have gravitated to it so they can crunch more numbers and train like robots.
Chris and I met in battle ages ago, and I’ve been impressed with the animal I’ve refound in the last few days. I can’t wait to see the total psy-ops warfare the dude will bring to the table, which is why I’m hoping to learn as much as possible from him and his mental game. That dimension is hypercritical to successful destroying the morale of your opponents.
Attack from the gun. If you’re caught, sit in and collect yourself and either attack or counter whatever is happening at the front of the race. Race from a pure, loving place… the purest love of hurting everyone around you and yourself and honoring the greats—Eddie Merckx wasn’t called the Cannibal for nothing. Sacrifice is not a strong enough word for the type of animal efforts required to pacify the Cycling Gods above when it comes to honoring them.
Mainly it’s about doing the unexpected. Lobbing that grenade in the group five miles into a 100 mile day, not sitting in, the only strategy is to do what is fun, memorable, and what will earn you the reputation of animal. Try to get in breakaways, save nothing for the sprint, work together when it makes sense to hurt more legs behind you, but never ever save and suck wheels in a break. Never sit in complacently. Basically everything your coach at Training Peaks tells you to do in order to win? Do the OPPOSITE. Being animal is firing that coach and hiring me or coaching yourself.
The statements, “I never saw that guy all day, and there he was with 100meters to go?!!”, or “He played it smart and rode wheels for the last few laps and then attacked the last corner,” will NEVER apply to an animal. Murmurings of, “Fajjkk, not that guy again?!!” and audible groans as you sprint off the front and stretch the field into oblivion should be the norm.
Golden Eagles was the runner up name back when we coined Wooly Mammoth, but it was deemed too serious. This is going to be a serious blog, so I thought it applied. I love the history in cycling, and most of my favorite riders came before sport glasses, rocking aviators and zinc oxide instead. And I never smoked a single Pall Mall or rolled a funny cigarette in my life, but I still think smoking looks nonchalant, I don’t give an F, COOL, so why not have my avatar do it? Wool jerseys and short shorts will always be in style. Timeless and pure, they enhance the best attributes of an in-form cyclist, his darkened rippling legs, while hiding his emaciated chest.
Okay so my name is Daniel Wakefield Pasley. I’m forty-four years old, which as you know is old as fuck, but also if you know anything then you know that old guys get a second window after their kids finally get old enough to starting having their own lives. That’s where I’m at, I’m finally looking into that second window and I’m ready to jump through it.
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and no I didn’t go to the Naval Academy and no I don’t own a sailboat and/or a golden retriever. Maryland sucks. Hey Maryland if you’re listening, you suck. The oshun, ambalances, balmore, wooder, all of it, it all sucks. Anyway, when I was 15 I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in professional skateboarding. And I almost made it, I was sponsored, I almost went pro and but then I kept hurting my knee because I’m chronically fat. The last time I tore my ligament the doctor said I need to strengthen the muscles around the knee, he recommended cycling. That’s when I discovered mountain bikes, which led to closeted road cycling, which eventually led to plain old regular road cycling and racing. Eventually I moved to Portland, Oregon to pursue a career in writing and being poor. And drinking. Ten years later I accidentally had two children and invented gravel road riding, but that’s neither here nor there. Oh, I also co-invented Yonder Journal and Manual for Speed.
The way I see it Skateboarding is still cooler than cycling because of the tricks. I love doing tricks. And believe it or not in the future I think tricks will be play a fundamental role in road racing. In the meantime, science is boring and so are science tricks like micro gaining. I want to foster, promote and nurture a revolution wherein we usher new and old tricks back into the sport. I think AACK is the start of that revolution. It’s time we found the antidote for science. It’s time we put heart back into our sport. It’s time we let the animal out of the cage. That’s what we’re doing here, we’re letting the animal out. Who, who, who let the animal out. We did, AACK did.
AACK is basically a training blog and a resource for anyone and everyone looking to put some animal back into their road racing. It’s recipes, interviews, ideas, trick tips, playlists, dialogue, thought provoking opinion, stories. It’s a community and an exchange of culture. Animal culture. Also, point blank, if you read it, and you follow our principles, you will be the strongest, best looking dude or lady in the peloton EVERY TIME. Let me tell you what AACK isn’t, it isn’t idle chit-chat or arm chair theories. It’s field tested principles. You want to lose weight and ride good so good you win at everything. You want to be Cat 1 at life and a solid Cat 3 on the bike, stay tuned because this revolution WILL IN FACT be televised.
Well first of all Patrick has been my coach for the last three years. I’m one of his original student-athletes. So in effect I’m already following his training advice except when I’m not. We can come back to that later if you like but basically we strongly disagree about a few things like Campy, yoga, flour, disc brakes and the nutritional value of popcorn. Mostly I think Patrick’s teachings are amazing. He gave me my training mantra: “Listen to your body, ignore your body.” And his devotion to the principles of PMA is truly inspiring.
I’ve known Chris for a long time, we met each other during the Rapha Continental and have been friends ever since. Our relationship is in some ways built around the idea that opposites attract, I think? I mean, basically over the years I’ve come to rely on his unflinching, unyielding, absolute, nearly fundamental commitment to pragmatism. I’m not sure what he gets out of it but basically I call him, I spazz out, I have extensional crises, I share with him the problems of being financially insolvent, I freak-out about my lack of success and problems with obesity, and invariably he responds with absolute deadpan pragmatism and logic. I don’t get it, I mean, he’s not a computer either. It’s not cold or without life, but it is basically practicality incarnate.
What are my personal philosophies? Read the blog dude, read the fucking blog. JK. Listen, there is so much to get into, I mean, I could write a book, in fact I will mostly likely write a book when AACK finally becomes fully realized. But I get it, you want a teaser, consider yourself teased!
- Lose all the weight. Become so skinny people think you have the HIV or cancer. You know you’re there when people start pulling your partner aside to offer him or her their condolences. When Get Well cards start showing up for no apparent reason, you’re almost there.
- Hot Copy Body; to achieve a HCB you will need full body fitness. All the muscles and weight you gain in your pursuit of an HCB will have a devastating effect on your speed. See above. Deal with it. Figure it out. Reconcile the unreconcilable. Do Yoga, do Body By Pete, never stop running. A cyclists body is an embarrassment to God.
- Currently, my daily Whole Foods salad bar price tag is averaging less than six dollars. And that includes protein.
- Corn and Potatoes are for poor people. If you want to win at being poor, eat corn and potatoes.
- Listen to new music and read books. ALL THE TIME.
- Just ride a lot, pay no attention to where and when and how far. Just time. Spend all your time riding. At least 15 hours a week. Don’t do anything specific, don’t try to put shape on it, or do like intervals or whatever, just miles and time. But don’t count the miles. Count the time. In the spring, start riding with groups twice a week. Don’t get beat.
- Attack early and throw all kinds of punches. If they catch you near the top it’s because you’re a fat piece of shit: mentally, physically and spiritually. In fact you should probably stop reading this, close your laptop and go eat something.
- If you DO get beat, it’s fine, just keep attacking. Eventually one day you won’t get beat. And there you are. You’re fit.
I run VERY emotional, and I can be a bit of a wild card, that’s why I chose an Arctic Grey Wolf competing in the Biathlon to represent me. As I’m sure you know AGWs are devilishly erratic and driven almost entirely by intuition. The skis symbolize my approach to cycling (pretend it’s something else cooler like skateboarding, mountain biking or at the very least cross-country skiing) and the best way to win a knife fight isn’t with a punch it’s with a Nosler M48 TGR 2010 and a Bushnell Elite G2 scope.
The Amateur Animal Cycling Krew is made possible by:
GIF Illustrations by Steve Hockett.