Bed time story



helmutRoole2

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Making the Team
By
Helmut Roole


ME

This guy has mad talent. Mad talent. I tell everyone I meet that he's the real deal. The next Ian Crestwell. Anyone who will listen. The kid's name is Jeff Michaels. Here's his background. Crazy stuff.

He finished third at the Foot Locker High School Cross Country Championships in 1999. Was a scholarship athlete at the University of Oregon -- top-shelf running institution. In his freshman year he gets a stress fracture in his femur. Very rare place for it. Usually it's the foot. It takes six months to heal and he returns to training for three weeks and, boom! He's injured again. Same thing. Can't run until his sophomore year. To stay fit he's running in a swim pool with floatation devices on his arms and he's riding a stationary bike and lifting weights.

Six months go by and it's just eating at him. I mean, this guy was a competitor on the grandest of scales. He raced the 3,000-meter steeple-chase at the world-junior championships. Did the world-junior cross-country championships. Raced in the junior Golden Mile at the Bislett Games in Oslo. He's used to some top-notch events but now he can't even do a local charity road race.

But he hunkers down, gets into his studies, hits the pool, the gym, tries to swim, runs in the water, rides the stationary bike and still, when he gives his leg a little test -- maybe hop up a flight of stairs or a little trot across the street to beat traffic -- he feels it. The same hurt. Same location. Same exact pain. And after, what? A half dozen steps?

And he hasn't run more than 50 miles in the past 18 months. This is a guy who used to do 80-mile weeks. It's eating him alive. He's 20-years-old. He reads about his teammates winning the Pac-10 cross-country title, getting on the podium at the NCAAs, guys meeting the qualifying marks for the Olympic Trails on the track. He reads the results from the NCAAs or the PAC-10 or SEC meets. The agate print in the back pages of the sports section, and he's sees the names of guys he has no idea who they are and then he'll see a guy finishing fourth or third or second. Sometimes it's the guy who won and he'll recognize the name. It'll be a guy he beat at the Foot Locker or Golden West or a guy he beat out of a spot on the world-junior team.

It's maddening.

The start of his sophomore year some of the guys on the cross-country team don't even know him anymore. I mean, sure, he did some great results, he has some history, but compared to his teammates? At the University of Oregon? At that school he's average. Less than average even on his best day. The only people who know him at this point are his old high school coach, his girlfriend and his mom and dad. The track and cross-country athletes, they come into the athletic trainers room to be iced down after some speed work or a brutally long run and he's on a table getting muscle-stem or ultra-sound and they have no idea who he is. Coaches hardly speak to him anymore. And here he is, a world junior team member, high school All-American, six-time state champion. And no one has any idea. No one even cares enough to ask.

Midway through his sophomore year they move him out of the athletic dorms and in with the normal kids. No big difference. Still a bunch of jackasses running around, drinking, smoking until all hours. There was no real change. The rooms were about the same size. He had to share with some guy. No difference. The coaches said it was just until he got back to competing, you know, like he'd be back in the athletic dorms the following year, but really he could tell it was something different. Like with the athletic trainers. It was the same thing there. Every time he tried to schedule an appointment for treatment, they're booked or sometimes they just didn't show. He said -- and it was probably a fact -- that the coaching staff gave up on him. The dorm, the treatments with the athletic trainer, his meal card refused at the athletic cafeteria... it was like they were sending a message to give up.

So he does. He detaches. He just drifts away. He stops going to the athletic trainers for treatments and stops visiting his friends at the athletic dorm. Stops checking in with the coaches. It's like breaking up with a girlfriend. Hard feelings. He's done with it.

He told me once they sent him to a chiropractor his freshman year. The guy tells him he's reached maturity and that his muscles and the forces they exerted during peak performance are too much for his bones. The chiropractor says it's rare but he's heard of it before. Read about it in a journal. He compares it to a gymnast who's out-grown her greatness. He says Jeff has out grown his. He says it happens sometimes.

Well, at first the kid thinks the chiropractor was full of it. Like I said, he got that diagnosis his freshman year, but when the months turn into years and people are like, Jeff Who? it turns into the only logical explanation he can hang his hat on. He finally takes it to heart one day early his junior year when he's wearing a pair of Nike Zooms with the USA colors. He's eating in a dining hall on campus and this kid comes up and asks about the Zooms, and -- come to find out -- those shoes were in a big bag of Nike **** he got when he made the world's team and the other kid says, Hey, I was on the worlds team last year and Jeff says, I was on it back in 2005. I used to be good back in those days.

Back in those days. He said when he uttered those words he knew it was over. He said he had banged his head against the wall long enough and it was time to move on. He said it was a kinda relief.

He stays on scholarship. School pays for his education. Full ride. They can't take his scholarship away if he has a medical explanation for not competing. They don't fight it. Did a press release. It appears in the school newspaper as a sports-brief that his athletic career is done. Not one notices.

Then one day he's in the dorm and some kid comes clomping down the hall in cycling shoes with a bicycle slung over his shoulder and Jeff becomes interested. There's a cycling club on campus and so he joins. He's got some money saved up and someone on the club has a bicycle for sale and he gets them down to $300. It's an old Myatta with down-tube shifters. They have no idea what they're unleashing.

So, this is where I come into the picture. We're at a bicycle race near Corvallis, Ore. It's called Piece of Cake Road Race. First race of the year. Flat, cold, it's like a Belgium classic without the cobbles. They've got a gravel section instead. Anyway, were standing around and I'm telling my guys -- I'm the manager of the Mell's Muffins/Portland Bicycle Centre team -- and I'm giving them the lay of the land: the gravel section, the crosswinds, this really narrow part of road with potholes where it makes more sense to ride on the shoulder, who our protected rider for the day is... things like that -- when this kid comes flying by us. He's all alone. I'm thinking, Okay, some guy out warming up particularly hard, when about five minutes later the entire CAT4-5 field comes blowing by into the finish. I look around and I see the kid leaning on the hood of a car drinking a coffee.

So I ask him, Hey, did you just win that race? And he says, yeah, like it's no big deal. I mean, the kid isn't even breathing hard. He's standing there with coffee in hand and I half expected him to light up a cigarette he's so nonchalant. So I ask him how long he's been racing and he tells me it's his first race. I take interest. I ask him if he's riding for a team and yes he is -- the UofO club team.

I take note. Get his name. I know Russel Stevenson, the faculty adviser for the university club so I call and I ask if it's okay for Jeff to join us for a training ride. He says no problem. So later that week I get home from the training ride and dial Russ up and ask if the kid can join us down in SoCal for Sea Otter and Redlands as a guest rider.

Now, I don't want to play up Mell's Muffin's/Portland Bicycle Centre too much here. We're a regional team but with a national presence. We've put six riders into the pro ranks and we're pretty well funded and highly thought of by the USA Cycling. We put Heath Mahaney into the pro ranks with Jelly Candies and Timothy Christopher on the national team and later with Prime Institutions before they went bust and now he rides for Jittery Jack's, so we've got some street cred. And so, it doesn't surprise me when Russel says yes. Yeah, you bet, man. It'll be a great opportunity for him to ride with your team.

Anyway, to make a long story short, we get down there, to SoCal, and Jeff laps the field twice -- twice! -- in a CAT4 crit and they bump him up to CAT3. The next day at Redlands he solos to a win in the CAT3 road race. He's off the front most of the race. The field marks him the next day and he finishes in the pack. At Sea Otter he drags a break of six guys around a crit course and finishes last in the sprint. The last day he wins the hill climb with the eighth fastest time on the day. Eighth fastest time including the pro riders. He beats guys who have done the Tour de France.

And he's been bicycle racing for six weeks. Six weeks at that point.

Well, we get back to Oregon and they cat him up. He's a CAT2 now. First couple races he takes his lumps. Some because there's two or three guys who really are just as strong, but mostly because he's making colossal mistakes. Stuff like dragging around a break of 10 guys just because he can or sitting on the back of the group in a crosswind. Big mistakes. Nothing subtle about it. The type of mistake you make once; twice if no one is around to point it out. That's really all he needed. Stop making the colossal errors. After two months his technique locks in, he gets race fitness, he figures out Race Tactics-101 and then no one can touch him. He wins the state road championships in early June. Alone. By two minutes at the top of a climb. They cat him up to CAT1.

He started racing in February as a CAT5 and less than five months later he's a CAT1.

Stuff of legend.

IAN CRESTWELL

Bob Hans was the CEO in charge of marketing at CBS television. He sat behind a massive oak desk, a view of downtown New York City through the tall windows behind him. He liked wood. The naturalness of it. His floors were bamboo and the chairs and the giant conference table and coffee table were made of massive beams and slabs of bleached oak. The furniture was bulky. Hand crafted. Rustic. Everything else in the office was sleek. Aerodynamic. Low profile electronics, laptop, desktop phone. He picked it up.

"Marcie, has Ian Crestwell arrived?"

"No Mr. Hans."

"Okay... Well, show him directly in when he gets here."

"Will do, Mr. Hans."

Hans looked over to his new Trek Madone road bike. He just outfitted it with the carbon fiber deep-dish Bontregger wheels. Leaning next to it a six-by-10-foot hardback laminated poster of Ian Crestwell at the top of Mont Ventoux. Exhausted. Foggy. His arms, eyes cast upward in triumph. The words Making the Team are above his head. His hands, through the magic of Photoshop, are a layer above the letters that spell out the name of the new reality show. Drop shadows for effect.

The big oak door to his office opened. A petite, pretty, business suit secretary stopped at its threshold.

"Mr. Hans, Mr. Crestwell is here to see you."

Mr. Hans stood. Crestwell entered. He strode across the bamboo floor, hand extended. Hans noticed his size as the champion stood in front of him. Smaller than on television. He noticed Crestwell rocking on the balls of his feet. Forward and back. Forward and back. Hands stuffed in pockets. His storied barreled chest pushed out with each nervous bob on his Nike running shoes. Designer jeans. Designer t-shirt. It's an honor, Hans said.

"The pleasure is all mine," Crestwell said. "So, I understand you've got a reality program you want to pitch me? I didn't get a chance to read the synopsis you sent over. Just scanned it. It sounds interesting. Making the Team?"

"Yes. I think this project is perfect for you."

"Well, it would be just about impossible to make it without me."

"Eh, yes... I've heard you are a tough negotiator."

... continued
 

helmutRoole2

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ME

I don't want to come off as some holier-than-thou team manager. The job is not that hard. I mean really, you only need adequate organizational skills to pull it off.

You have to secure sponsorship each year, which takes some salesmanship but Mell's Muffins/Portland Bicycle Centre -- we call the team Mell's for short; most do -- has been lucky enough to have the same sponsors for five years and they've upped the ante each of them so I haven't been challenged in that department as of late.

You also need to shore up all the equipment for the year and find a place to store it. It overflowed my garage last year so we're looking for rental storage. Some years I've recruited riders to fit certain sized equipment and clothing instead of the other way around. First year I pretty much pieced together the team like that. Much of the equipment is in exchange for advertising space on the team uniform. We'll sell every inch if we can. But still, some years you run out of tires, some years it's frame-sets, wheels, clothing. We've run out of everything at some point but you take note and get better at not over- or under-purchasing. It turns into a science. Frees up money for other things.

Personnel. You need to find people who will work for free: at least one mechanic each race; a massage therapist when we're traveling; a cook, meaning someone who can walk into a grocery store and put together five-to-six tasty nutritious meals for the athletes and staff on the cheap. It always surprises me. A lot of people will work for free. Everyone has their reasons. It's nice. Usually we come up short on personnel each trip but I can usually fill in -- like as a mechanic or massage therapist. It seems there's almost always enough people that, if we pull together, we can get the athletes fed, rubbed down, put up for the night and their machines dialed in for the next day of racing without much trouble.

I don't know. There's other things too. I mean, it helps to have some high-level racing experience only because it lends credence to your observations. I raced as a CAT1 throughout North America, did a short stint on the national team, raced in Europe and won a handful of races. No one really remembers them now but it's in the books. Athletes respect your opinions more if you've done it yourself, but at some point you have to stand on the results you get as a director sportif, that is, someone who directs the action on the road from the team car. Like most sports, it's not brain surgery. Mostly it's a matter of knowing your athletes and the extent of their limitations on any given day. I'd say in cycling, like most things, it's important not to over react to what you're seeing. On the road, things take a while to unfold.

It's also important to have a job. I say this half jokingly, but you it's rare for people to make a living doing this. Maybe at the highest levels in Europe it's a good living. At the highest levels in North America it's hardly a living. Where I'm at it's not a living. I'm fortunate because I work with a bunch of cyclists. Purchasing agents in a construction company. We e-mail results to each other. Most of the guys race on the weekends and we have our favorite pro teams and riders. There's even an office pool for the Tour de France. The owner is an avid masters racer. He cuts me a lot of slack. I miss a lot of Fridays and Mondays but he loves the team and the kids on it. He's a secondary sponsor.

Of all the things I like most about managing a team, identifying talent gives me the most satisfaction. I think I've been pretty good at it over the years. I'll watch the lesser categories. If I see a kid who looks athletic I might take note. Keep an eye out for him in results. If he's making progress I might ask him to come out for a training ride with the team. If his personality is right we'll take him over to Steve Higgins and get him tested. Costs about $300 so if it comes to that we're pretty serious. There's some numbers that have add up before we can consider signing a kid. Straight forward stuff like VO2max, cardiac output, lactate threshold, sustained wattage. They're all related. Say what you will about the determination of an athlete, in this sport an athlete is limited by his or her ability to use oxygen as fuel and mostly that's determined by lung capacity. It's a sad truth but it's a truth. You need to be blessed a set of lungs that will get you up on a pro-level playing field. Some guys have these hidden talents like they can fight like dogs of war in the last laps of a crit or they can hide in a field and conserve energy and appear like a ghost right at the end, but if they don't meet the VO2max cut off -- I won't say what it is for my team -- then nine times out of 10 they won't be there in the final.

A good example of this was one kid I had my eye on from British Columbia. Been watching him for quite some time. I saw him and right off I thought he's got it. Silky smooth. Beautiful technique. Thin boned. Young. Just 17-years-old. I saw him at their national championships and took note. He was 12th in the cadets. The beginning of the next year, still 17, he was third at their senior providential championships and I contacted him. We brought him down to Portalnd. Everyone loved him. Great kid. Real nice and respectful to the older riders. We tested him out and the numbers didn't add up. I had to send him home. I felt horrible at the time. That was six years ago. These days he's a good local rider and sometimes he'll get a place in big regional races but he can't compete at the national level. You have to be able to do that to ride for Mell's. That's the talent threshold. Every team has one.

When we tested Jeff, Higgins said he couldn't believe the numbers. He meant that literally. He said to come back in a week after he re-calibrated he equipment. No charge. I asked him what the numbers said and he just shook his head. Said if they were right we were looking at a possible Tour contender. Then he said to come back next week.

IAN CRESTWELL

Ian Crestwell wrapped his knuckles on the thick oak conference table. Over Mr. Hans' shoulder was New York CIty. Crestwell didn't much care for the big cities of the world. Too crowded. Too smoggy. No roads to ride. He longed for his homes in Tuscany, Solvang, White Rock. He looked at Mr. Han's Trek Madone and wondered where the man rode it. Cycling -- the movement of it: the bumping of shoulders in a sprint or the give-and-take cadence of the machine rocking under him tipping over a climb -- was never far from his mind even two years after his retirement. He loved riding. If there was no money in it he'd still do it. He knew that. There's was none when he started. He was 35 now. He wondered sometimes if he had hung the wheels up too soon. Whether he had another year or two left in his legs still.

"So that's basically it," Mr. Hans said. "It's like American Idol but with cyclists."

"Isn't it more like America's Next Top Model but with cyclists? Or how about Rock of Love Tour Bus with cyclists?"

"You don't like it."

"Absolutely wrong. I love the idea, but we're going to need a tour bus. Make that two. At least. This is a big country and the races are spread out all over. Can't sit in cars the whole time."

"Right, but it would be a panel of judges, like American Idol..."

"And America's Next Top Model..."

"True."

"Who would select the riders?" Crestwell said. "And what type of riders are we looking for?"

"Well, we're looking for the next American Tour de France champioin... that would be your area of expertise... as assistant producer."

"No. I want more control if I'm going to do this."

"Okay. Producer..."

"Producer. I pick the team staff. I pick the judges. I pick the races. And I pick the riders."

"And you get final say over who goes and who stays at the end of each episode."

Crestwell nodded his head.

"Sounds like we might have something here," he said. "Let's turn it over to the lawyers and see what they come up with."

... continued
 

helmutRoole2

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I really love what I do. I mean, managing a cycling team. I feel honored to have the opportunity to do it. When I started it, if you were to ask me how far I'd get managing teams, truthfully, I would have told you that after eight years -- that's how long I've been at it -- I would have said that I'd have a team in the Tour de France by now.

But things change. Priorities shift. When I first started I was alone. Then my wife walked into my life and then our little baby April came along. April was born the day after I met Jeff at that Piece of Cake Road Race. The day after. I used to think that was an omen. At races my wife carries April in a Boppy. People say it's a family affair. She can't hand up water bottles in the feed zone like she used to with baby April in the Boppy but she does a lot of other things, like cooking and making sure everyone is signed in for the start and if they're where they're suppose to be before time trials. She does all that with baby April slung around her shoulder and a pen behind her ear and a notepad in her hand.

Blake Thompson's been on the team since the start. I consider him family at this point. He's about four years younger than me. I guess we went to the same high school in Portland together. He said he knew me but honestly I can't remember him. I put him on the team because he was tall and I had a 60cm frame just sitting around. I gave it to him. He's never let me down. Won a couple races. He's a real good bike handler. Real good. Good track rider too. Not a lot of jump in his legs but a good sustained top end and he's always fit. Smart too. He gets a good read on races. I always thought he'd be managing his own team by now.

Anyway, it seemed to both of us that Jeff's strength far outstripped his experience and bike handling skills. We didn't want to send him out to the National Calendar races until he could handle his bike better and figure out tactics before they unfolded. If a race is too hard for an athlete it's nearly impossible for them to absorb things mentally. They're observing their environment on a micro scale. Their head's usually down watching and following wheels. Can't really learn anything like that. When the pace is easier a rider's head is up and their mind is clear to take things in on a macro scale. They get a better sense for tactics when it happens that way.

Anyway, we both thought it would make sense to race him locally for a couple months. There's a big difference between a local Pro/1-2 race and a professional race on the national stage. Around here, in the Northwest, there's probably a dozen local riders who can actually race on a national level. Actually, like something other than following wheels. The rest of the local talent is talented weekend warriors. Maybe they had professional aspirations at one point but then compromises set it. No judgments. To race professionally you really can't do anything else. Relationships, jobs, everything has to take a back seat. Has to. Most guys who try it -- I mean seriously give it a go -- they'll spend six months to a year sleeping on someone's couch or in someone else's basement. I've put guys up like that. Several at a time. After a year they'll either give up and get a job or they'll have made it far enough so they can afford rent. I'd never want baby April to try it, but if she did I guess I'd support it the best I could. I think, though, if she wasn't making headway we'd have to have a conversation about futility and the meaning of trying hard and when it makes sense to stop trying so hard. No shame in that. No one ever had that conversation with me. Sometimes I think it might have helped to hear it but I doubt I would have listened.

Anyway, Blake stayed home with Jeff to shepherd him around the local races. Jeff was real good at following directions. You see that sometimes with kids who've done sports at a high level. At some point they realize there isn't that much talent separating them from the rest of the guys they're competing against so they start listening to anyone who seems to know what their talking about.

Blake said at he first he'd make suggestions to Jeff about what to do but after a while he realized the kid didn't mind being yelled at if the situation called for it so Blake just starts telling him where to be and what to look out for. He really took him under his wing.

We were at this road race up on the Washington Peninsula. Grim weather. Always is up there in April. Cold and rainy. Guys dropping out because they can't feel their hands in their cold soggy gloves. Anyway, I'm listening to the team radio driving behind the race. Listening to Blake tell Jeff what to do. He says stuff like, Jeff, see the guy in front of you? See how he's all over his bike? That means he's on the rivet. Find another wheel. Another time he said, Jeff, when we make this turn up here, what direction will the wind be blowing? It'll be blowing from left to right. So where do you want to be before the turn? To the right near the front. Because? Because the wind is going to push everyone into the right gutter single file once we make that turn.

It was really fulfilling to see how fast Jeff progressed. He couldn't have picked up on things much quicker.


IAN CRESTWELL

Friday night at the Las Vegas Bicycle Show. There was literally electricity in the air. An enormous replica of an electric bike from Europe 20 feet above the convention center floor trickled sparks from a broken cord that once helped suspend it. Red cones and yellow tape detoured the crowd around the hazard. The thousands perusing the hundreds of booths featuring the latest cycling gear and paraphernalia don't seem to mind.

Ian Crestwell walked in the building through a side door. Immediately he is recognized. His presence creates a buzz. Word travels the show floor. People start pushing in his direction. A near riot as seemingly everyone wants an autograph. He's escorted through the throng by security guards to the main stage. Making the Team in giant block letters outlined in glittering neon awaits him. A giant Trek logo off to one side. Ford Cycling Team on the other.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome one of the greatest athletes of our time, Mr. Ian Crestwell."

The gathered go crazy. After quite a while they settle down. Crestwell begins to outline the concept of the new show although many already know about it. Weeks before, it was leaked by a gossip columnist. Links to her column from cycling chat rooms and blogs followed. Velo News made mention of it. Time Magazine ran a brief.

Mic in hand, Crestwell began the introductions of Team Making the Team: the director sportif, the five mechanics, the three masseurs, the team doctor, the team nutritionist, a gourmet chef, several people whose titles seem nonsensical and out of place like chief controller and CEO of auditing services. They were greeted with applauds reserved for rock stars. It seemed the decimeter could climb no higher when Crestwell introduced the Making the Team Judges Panel. It's a Who's Who of American cycling and includes one Giro and one Tour de France champion and three Olympic gold medalists. Heading the panel is Ian Crestwell. He stands center stage. The panelists line up shoulder-to-shoulder behind him. He is the President. They are his cabinet.

In the crowd, in the cheering mob of cycling fans, a man in a double breasted Armani suit yelled to Mr. Hans. "He really brings the electricity, doesn't he?"

"He sure does," Hans shouted back. "When he talks, people listen. Larry King, Good Morning America, Hanity's America, Fresh Air with Terry Gross... He's got the ear of the nation at the tips of his fingers. Anything he touches is gold."

"Can it get any louder?"

"It might. Watch this."

At that moment Ian Crestwell, with a Price is RIght wave of the hand, motioned to a giant curtain. It opened. Behind three Making the Team tour buses. Wrapped around much of is his likeness. Hands over his head. Victorious. The engine rumbled to life. Crestwell offered everyone a tour of the tour buses that will one day hold the next American champion of the Tour de France.

Many wait in line for hours on the convention center floor for the five minute tour.

... continued
 

helmutRoole2

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After Jeff won the state road race he won a couple more races and then we took a break. Waited for the National Calendar to come to us. July in Bend, Oregon is the Cascade Classic. It's a big one. I figured this would be a good place for Jeff to test the waters. I was planning on throwing him in to see if he could swim or not.

I thought there might be some friction on the team going into it. I wasn't sure. Billy Hadley is...

I'm sorry.

Billy Hadley was my best rider. He's 21-years-old. Super kid. Parents raised him right. Polite. Thoughtful. A kid you'd hope your own kid would turn out like.

Anyway, Billy is a heck of a stage racer. He's one of those little guys who just fights like a pit bull. I really thought this would be his year to sew up a pro contract. Still might be. While we were back home racing Jeff locally, Billy and a handful of other Mell's riders were hitting the national events. Billy did real well. He didn't win, but he was in a bunch of breaks and got a few places and one podium. He may get a contract yet. I've been making calls. Trying to find him a place where he can fit in and continue to grow.

Billy's not deluded. He knows if he were going to win the Tour or some such thing he'd be on a higher plane by now. He's a GC guy. They're generally the best athletes. It's a tough racket. I wonder why he keeps at it but I guess when I was his age I kept at it and then kept at it for quite a while longer. He really is a smart kid. He could be an engineer or a lawyer or pretty much anything he set his mind to. Sometimes, with kids like Billy, the more I help them in cycling the more it seems I'm hurting them in life.

I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing him any favors with this. If he doesn't get a contract this year I might have to have a conversation with him about futility. I'm not looking forward to that. Going out and racing all the time is no kind of life. I mean, it is but only up to a point. No matter how important you think racing a bicycle is you find out later that other things are even more so and they're passing you by while you're spending six, seven hours a day riding your bike and weighing your food, doing yoga and such.

Anyway, Cascade is a big one around here. It's a tough one too. Can be hotter than the devil's pitch fork. It's in the high desert mountains of the Cascades in eastern Oregon. The queen stage is a run over McKenzie Pass. It's a bear of a climb. Highway grade climb for four miles to the switchbacks that lead to the top of the pass another five miles further up. Steep. It crosses a lava field at the top. Looks like a Martian landscape up there.

At the hotel I'm with the team in a room the night before the prologue. I haven't talked with Billy yet. I wish I could say it's because I was running around doing a bunch of other things but the fact is I was scared of it. Should have done it though. I knew that when we all sat down to talk about the race.

I said I wanted to put Jeff in the position of our protected rider. I said that's what we were going to do and I looked over to Billy first and he looks me straight in the eye and shakes his head okay. I babble on for the next 15 minutes about how it'll be tough and how we'll all have to pull together as a team and all the other usual ****. I can't look at Billy during any of this.

After we get up and start going our separate ways, Billy comes up to me and gives me this little punch in the shoulder and says, Don't worry. I understand. I say, I should've said something before, and he says, It must have been a hard decision. I probably showed a little emotion right then because he gives me this big hug and says, I can tell you struggled with it.

Oh boy. I cry every time I think about it. He just let me right off the hook. He really did. What a great kid. I hope our little April turns out so well.


IAN CRESTWELL

Ian Crestwell sat at a conference table in skybox overlooking the Las Vegas Convention Center floor. Below the crowd is still abuzz from the red carpet unveiling of Making the Team. A long line at the entrances of the Making the Team tour buses. At the conference table in the room are three flabby white guys, suits and ties. They appear in their mid-50s. Crestwell reaches across and shakes their hands.

Nabisco, Proctor and Gamble, and General Mills. They want to sign on to the the show. The contracts, they say, are a formality. They're impressed with Crestwell. They've heard his story. They followed his Tour victories. They want to know how he's going to find the next American champion of the Tour de France.

"We're looking for guys who have potential but aren't established," Crestwell said. "Young guys who haven't been at it for very long. Then we'll see how fast we can bring them up. They likely won't be ready to race the Tour by the next year, but you never know. This is going to be an intensive search. We'll isolated the best cycling talent this country has and give them access to the best coaching, nutrition, equipment and racing. I say it's not likely, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the winner of this reality show race the Tour the next year and then, the year after that, be in a position to win it."

"And what about the helper riders?" one man says. "The, eh, what is it? The word. What are they called?"

"Domestiques?" Crestwell says.

"What is it?" another man says.

"Doe-mes-teek," Crestwell enunciates.

"Right. What about these do-mes-teeks?"

"We'll use established riders there. Bring in guys with experience. They'll be part of the staff. Guys who can show the younger kids the ropes. Help nurture their GC aspirations."

"GC aspirations?"

"GC... general classification..."

The men look at Crestwell blankly.

"The yellow jersey," Crestwell says. "The leader."

"Yes, of course. The man in yellow."

... continued
 

helmutRoole2

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ME

It's funny how sometimes two guys who look alike, when you put them together for a while, they start acting alike. I don't know the psychological mechanics behind it but I've seen it happen before. Happens with younger people quite a bit. That's the way it was with Billy and Jeff at Cascade.

Billy and Jeff are about the same size. They're both light complected too. Billy has red hair but Jeff has black. Both have kinda small features. They're about the same age. They both read a lot and I guess they like the same music -- they swap back and forth on their i-Pods. My wife's got an i-Pod. When we're traveling from one race to another she plugs it into the team car stereo and plays baby music for April. I feel for the person who has to ride with us but it's either The Sounds of the Midnight Forest or Baby April being crabby much of trip.

Anyway, the first time I noticed it -- Billy and Jeff acting alike -- was when I saw them walking side-by-side in downtown Bend. They were both bouncing along with the same cadence and the same bebop in their step. Soon after, I noticed it on the bike. I've studied Billy's technique quite a bit. I've probably spent over 100 hours watching him train and race. I've always appreciated the way he handles a bike. He reminds me of the great French champion Bernard Hinalt. Hinault did Paris-Roubaix once and won it. They call that race The Hell of The North it's such a miserable thing. Cobbles. Wind. Mud. Crashes. He did it just to shut his critics up. His nickname was the Badger. He rode like it too. So does Billy. Fierce. He does this give-and-take thing with his bars when he climbs out of the saddle, rocking the bike under him. You don't see that much anymore. Not soon after, when Jeff started riding with Billy, Jeff started doing the same thing -- rocking his bike out of the saddle. He just glommed onto Billy's style in a matter of a couple days. You couldn't tell them apart from behind it got to be so uncanny.

They were inseparable too. Sometimes when they were deep in conversation it seemed like they were studying themselves in a mirror. One would be talking and the other would have this epiphanic look like they were about ready to learn the meaning of Einstein's Theory of Relativity or something but in fact they would be talking about the best way to store whole-bean coffee. Definitely not in the freezer if it's air sealed. Room temp. If the seal is broken then yes in the freezer.

Anyway, the team was in Bend a week before the race started and by the third day Jeff and Billy were fast friends so we decide to room them together. Blake said he'd let someone else try to talk some sense into Jeff for a while. Blake's got a dry sense of humor. It was pretty funny when he said it. He's got real good timing with stuff like that.

Well, I haven't said much about the race. It's kinda painful to talk about. Saddens me on a couple levels. Come to find out, during the race, Billy is really on form. Best form I've seen him have in the three years he's been with me. Now that I look back I think he could have gotten on the podium at Cascade had Jeff not been there. He blistered the time trial. Finished fifth. Best TT result for him in a National Calendar event. Jeff finished 12th. He said he couldn't get comfortable on his bike. I drove behind him. It looked that way. He fidgeted on the saddle most of the time. Prologues are normally short. This one was three kilometers and you really need to come out of the start house full throttle. Waiting to find a rhythm isn't really an option.

When the team lined up for the McKenzie Pass stage a couple days later I could see that Jeff was going to have a good race. I like to think of myself as a person who is good at predicting performance on a day-to-day basis. In most of Europe, betting on sporting events is legal. I remember signing in at a Belgium Kermese once and having these crusty old men look me over like I was a thoroughbred in the Kentucky Derby. I half expected them to check my teeth but I found out later that they do that at horse tracks looking for the identification number tattooed on the pony's gums. I've often thought I'd be good at betting on the ponies because I can predict performance in cyclists. I think it's the same skill set. With cyclists I look to see if their blood vessels are dilated and if they've got a good sheen of sweat covering their skin after warming up and if their eyes are steady and focused and not lit up and nervous. Most importantly I think I have a keen eye for ease of movement. I can tell when an athlete is moving fluidly. Jeff had the sheen of sweat, the focused eyes, the dilated blood vessels, but when I saw him throw his leg over the bike and take that first pedal stroke I knew we were in business. No wasted motion right down to his fingertips. Billy had it too. They both looked ready.

So a break rolls off the peloton early. Eight guys. Highest placed guy by happenstance is our own boy Blake in 25th. I didn't figure on it. I just sent him up there so we'd have someone in the move. As it turned out, we didn't have to do any work in the peloton because of it. Anyway, they hit the foot of the climb and it all falls to pieces. A quarter the way up Blake's break is caught and a group of about 15 guys separates from the rest of the peloton crawling up the impossibly steep pitches.

Billy and Jeff both make the lead group. About one kilometer before the top of McKenzie five guys go clear. I know all but two of these riders. Two Mexican kids. I'm looking at the group Billy and Jeff are in -- its compilation of athletes; the ability of it -- thinking they'll bring the Mexican-group back. I even said that to Billy over the team radio. I told him not to worry. There was something like 12 guys in his group chasing the five in the Mexican-group. Billy wasn't so convinced. He said he didn't like the way the Mexicans rolled away near the summit. He said they weren't even trying when they did it. He said they made it look too easey. I told him to stay calm.

Well, those Mexican boys turned out to be pretty good. And the other riders too. They wasted no time on the decent. I was talking to another team manager who said they almost went off the road a couple times going down McKenzie they were trying so hard. When they came off the pass and hit the 30 kilometer flat section to the final four-mile climb and the finish, I guess they really got down to work. The gap opened up to over three minutes.

Three minutes is a pretty good-sized gap near the end of a race. Rule of thumb is, the peloton can recover one minute on a break of riders for every 10 kilometers of racing that remains, but that rule didn't apply here. First off, it wasn't the peloton chasing. It was a 12-man group. And the five up the road were very coordinated. I could hear the head race official Max Scheffler on the radio. He's at most every race in the Northwest. You get pretty comfortable with his voice. He's real calm. Isn't prone to hyperbole. He's more like a fighter pilot. Just says a few words that aren't open to much interpretation so when he said, Looks like a team time trial, I knew we were in trouble. I'd been hearing the time splits getting bigger. I could see the group getting smaller and smaller in the distance. It was one of those decisions that you don't think out verbally before you make it. Knee jerk in a way, but not really because I'd been studying the situation for quite some time when I just picked up the radio and said, Billy, whatcha' got, buddy? I didn't think of the implication when the words left my mouth, that I was asking him to pretty much throw his race away.

He just said, I'm good.

I saw him go up to Jeff and pull him close. He said something in his ear. It was probably something like, Find a wheel and hang on. There were twelve guys in that group chasing the Mexicans. Of them I'd say five were taking good pulls and for every pull they took Billy took three. At one point there was a rotating echelon of six guys with six sitting on in single file and Billy would hit the front and slowly ramp up the pace until it was single file behind him and he'd hold it there -- 31, 32, 33 mph -- for a minute or so and then let it settle back down to 29, 28, 27 mph before pulling over.

The whole time Jeff was just sitting in. Conserving.

The Mexican-group -- now one Mexican and one kid from Pennsylvania -- hit the foot of the climb with 17 seconds on the chase-group whose number whittled down to seven. I expected Billy to be blown at this point but he wasn't. Jeff was sitting on his wheel. Billy closed the last 17 seconds on the climb to the Mexican and the kid from Pennsylvania. I could see then that he had run out of gas. He towed Jeff and one other kid from Los Altos, California across the gap and ran out of steam. That's a terrible feeling on a climb. It's tough to recover because there's no place to hide, no wheel to grab on to. If he had taken smaller bites he'd probably caught them before the end and held on better but it didn't work out that way. Didn't matter. He did what he was suppose to. When he caught them he looked over at Jeff and told him to punch it.

Jeff did.

Once he got far enough away from the other riders, Max let me pull along side Jeff in the car. I was watching him and he'd do this thing where he'd focus his eyes on the ground in front of him for about 40 pedals strokes and then he'd glance up and survey the road to the next turn and then back down looking at the ground between his brake hoods again. It's a thing good endurance athletes do when they've committed to a move. They become internally focused and break that focus only to figure out how much further they've got and then re-judge the effort. He flew up the mountain like that until he hit the top. The next guy came across 37 second later.

The next was 47 seconds. Three guys came across at about a minute. Then a trickle of guys at about 1:30. Billy was at about two minutes. He rolled across the line and unclipped. With one foot on the ground bent over his handlebars he asked how Jeff did. I said he won it. He just shook his head and said, good.

I wish the race could have ended right there but it didn't. The next evening was the downtown criterium. It's a formality. A parade. Not an opportunity to gain time. Jeff was in the leader's jersey. This crit was a one-kilomter course, six corners. It's a race directors dream. At least 20,000 spectators lining the streets. Perfect weather. The cafes are booked weeks in advance. The people in Bend, this is their race and they're very proud about it. It's a small town so the race is front page news every day. Everyone studies it. Tries to understand it. The night time criterium is one of the best I've seen. Best I've done. Been that way for years. All the best crit guys of their day have won it.

The night of the race, like I said, is a race director's dream, but it turns into a race director's nightmare. The yellow jersey is at the bottom of a pile-up and is taken away in an ambulance. Broken collar bone. He crossed wheels and went over the bars. Very common injury for that kind of crash. He'll need surgery later in the week. Fortunately, Jeff's health care is provided by the college. Otherwise, he's paying for the ambulance ride and everything else out of pocket and hoping it heals without surgery. I've heard of riders going into bankruptcy after bad crashes. It's a shame that the lesser pro riders aren't covered by USA Cycling. You'd think they'd have something for them but they don't.

In the ambulance I said to Jeff, Looks like you'll be back to running in the swimming pool again. Strange. He didn't seem to mind it. Seemed to steeled himself for it.

... continued
 

helmutRoole2

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IAN CRESTWELL

"You are an American hero, sIr" Fox News' Sean Hannity said. "A real credit to the American spirit and drive and someone every American can be proud of. To come back from where you were. Everyone counted you out, even the French team you raced for. They rescinded your contract, isn't that right? Couldn't you have taken them to court?"

"Yes, but I'm not here to talk about me," Ian Crestwell said. "I'm here to talk about Making the Team."

"You're really excited about it. I can tell."

"I'm excited about the prospects of finding the next great American cyclist. In Europe, they have an intricate club system and a multitude of levels and gates leading up to the top tier professional ranks. I'd say on a whole, our system in the states is woefully inferior for identifying talent. I'm hoping to change that. We've been at a big disadvantage to the European nations in cycling for many years."

"Yes, but you persevered. You beat them at their own game."

"Sean, we know how proficient the mechanisms of basketball are in this country for identifying talent. You've got kids scrutinized as early as 8-years-old. Their progress charted through middle school, AAU ball, high school, college and then the NBA. This elaborate system is designed to do one thing: locate and foster basketball talent in the United States. That's what's in place over Europe for cycling. Children before the age of 10 are being identified as talented cyclists and are being funneled into top cycling programs. Do you realize that in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, their Athlete of the Year last year were cyclists?"

"Well, you were Athlete of the Year here in America."

"Yes, but that was an anomaly. Every year at least one European country will name a cyclist their Athlete of the Year and it's usually the man who wins the Tour de France."

"Like you did. "

"Yes. Like I did, but..."

"Ian, we're running out of time but I'd love to have you back to explore this topic further. It is truly fascinating."



ME

Did I mention that I still ride? I do. Nothing serious. Mostly it's to and from work. My wife, she's says I'm doing my part for the environment, but truth be told, it's the only time I have just to myself. I love being around my family, but pedaling helps clear my head sometimes. I don't usually ride with anyone. I'm done with that. I usually put in some ear buds and turn the volume down to where I can still hear the traffic.

I don't have an i-Pod. I guess I should go out and buy one. They're awfully small though and I'm afraid I'll end up losing it so instead I use this Sony Walkman I've had since the late 80s. It should probably be in a museum somewheres.

After Cascade I took a break from managing the team. That race just broke my heart. My wife was worried about me. She said as much. I handed the reigns over to Blake. He took the team up to British Columbia for Super Week while I stayed home and tried to figure out what normal people do on the weekends. Jeff called almost everyday. He's weighing his food now. Billy is into nutrition. He weighs his food too. I guess it rubbed off on Jeff.

Jeff started riding the wind trainer a couple days after he got back from Cascade but he said the pain was too much. He could feel the bones rubbing together and it made him throw up. The next week he had his operation. Two weeks after, he got back on the wind trainer. He told me he put in two six-hour rides that week. He was doing intervals too. I hate to imagine six hours on a wind trainer, but then again I never broke my collar bone. Never really got injured at all. Just lucky in that respect.

Anyway, Jeff said it hurt like hell, riding the wind trainer with a broken collar bone. He said pretty much everything hurt like hell. Getting in and out of bed. Taking a shower. He said tying his shoes was particularly agonizing. Eating a sandwich. Drinking a cup of milk. He went down a list. Opening a door. But he still managed to ride at least two hours everyday.

In total he was off the bike completely for four weeks. Then another six weeks on the wind trainer. It was nearly the end of the season before he was able to put weight on the shoulder enough to stand on the pedals and still be able to steer the machine. By the time he was ready to race again the season was nearly over.

I was thinking about that, riding my bike home one day, listening to the radio on my ear buds. I was listening to NPR when Terry Gross started interviewing Ian Crestwell and what he's doing in retirement. I stopped, turned up the volume and listened. It was pretty interesting so I called Blake and told him about it. A reality show about cyclists. We should submit Jeff's name to it.


IAN CRESTWELL

Ian Crestwell looked over the data with his coach and longtime mentor Thomas Maxler. In another room sitting on a stationary bicycle was a shirtless athlete warming down. Pools of sweat on the floor. Physiological monitoring equipment surrounded him. Tubes. Patches of tape on his chest. Wires. Electrocardiogram.

"What's this kid's name?" Maxler said.

"Jeff MIchaels from Eugene, Oregon," Crestwell said.

Maxler looked at the sheet again. He shook his head in astonishment.

"We haven't seen numbers like this since... Well, since you."

"His hematocrit is low," Crestwell said. "But he still puts out the wattage. Efficient."

"I noticed that. Thirty-nine hematocrit. That can be fixed."



ME

The other day baby April pulled a bowl full of salad off the dining room table. She can walk now. She's more than a year old. She does this thing where she stumbles around, her arms over her head with this great big grin on her face. She'll take a bumbling step forward and then another one back and then she'll plop straight down on her bum bum and just sit there with this surprised look on her face. Cracks me and my wife up to no end.

Anyway, the salad bowl incident was pretty funny. Lettuce and chopped tomatoes all over the floor and she's just sitting in the middle of it with that look on her face. But the salad bowl incident made us wonder. Our apartment is pretty well baby-proofed, but what if the salad bowl had been a pot of scolding soup? Things like that make you think. Today it's a salad bowl. Likely something else tomorrow. I doubt it'll ever end. I guess we'll worry about her until the day they put us in the ground.

When baby April was still inside my wife, those were troubling times for me. Nervous. I never mentioned this to anyone but a few people do know and anyone who wanted to find out could. Likely any cyclist who raced professionally in Europe during the 80s understands. After my stint with the national team I signed a contract with an Italian pro squad. It wasn't a big deal. Didn't even do the Giro, Italy's national tour.

Well, not soon after I got my kit, the team doctor checked me out and at the end of the exam he handed me a bag of about 100 syringes and 70 ampules, a bunch of tablets and capsules. I expected this. Heard about it from other riders. I had no idea how to use the stuff but by way of my broken Italian and one of my roommate's broken English, I figured out how to inject myself and with a calendar he explained dosages and scheduling. It was Sustanon250 stacked with Deca. Very common for athletes of that time. A testosterone blend and a steroid. Pretty simple by today's standards. But it made a big difference. I went from a kid who could finish races and help the team to a kid who could contest races and impact the outcome of the finish.

When our pediatrician handed over the ultrasound of baby April I studied the heck out of it. Counted her fingers and toes where I could see them. Looked at her nose. It wasn't until recently -- when she started walking and babbling and smiling and stuff -- that I reached the conclusion that she was fine. Just a normal little baby. I felt lucky. Not that it would've made any difference in how much I love her but I just want what's best for my little girl. I guess that's normal.

A while back I was watching Hannity and Colmes on Fox News. They were talking about that fella William Ayers, the terrorist who was friends with Barack Obama. They were comparing him to Joe The Plumber and weighing the media scrutiny each got. Hannity pretty much shut Colmes up when he said something like, You don't see the media camped out in front of William Ayers' home with their satellite trucks making his life impossible. His point being that this was another example of liberal media bias. That the media was going after Joe The Plumber.

I agreed with Hannity at the time, but I've come to develop a different take on that situation based on my own recent experience. If memory serves me, Ayers wasn't granting interviews so the media didn't camp out in front of his home for long if even at all. I mean, how many times can you broadcast or publish a guy saying no comment. Joe The Plumber, on the other hand, was granting interviews. A bunch of them, according to my recollection.

It was a month after the first episode of Making the Team when my phone rang. I figured it would. It was a reporter from the New York Times wanting to know about Jeff's positive drug test. He asks me if I thought it was true, that Ian Crestwell used Jeff as a guinea-pig for what he thought was an undetectable form of the red blood-cell booster EPO because he, Ian Crestwell, was thinking about coming out of retirement. I ask him where he heard that from and before he answered I told him no comment. I said no comment about 20 more times over the phone to reporters during the next couple days and then the calls stopped. That first week most every day I'd peep through the the living room curtains just to make sure the media hadn't set up shop on my neighbor's lawn with their satellite trucks and all. Never saw a one.

Then one day the phone rang and it's Melvin Murphy from Mell's Muffins. He wants to talk about the team and it's direction. I look down at baby April playing with some blocks in front of the television. She's got a pretty good stack going. Three of them. One right on top of the other. My wife, her tummy pooching with April's yet-to-be-named sister, picks April up. She helps her wave to Daddy. Hi Daddy. I wave back. Hi baby girl.

I tell Dale how much I appreciated his support over the years and how much I hoped to see him out on the bike paths soon but he'll have to talk with Blake about the team. I tell him Blake is running things now.


###​
 

Bro Deal

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I only skimmed it, but it looks good. I'll have to go back and read it more slowly. I like the little details. My first impression is that it reads like a magazine article.
 

Geoff Vadar

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Can someone write a summary for me? My index finger cramped just scrolling down to post this.
 

Bro Deal

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So, HR2, this is what you have been doing with your time? If you ever need motivation buy a copy of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Read a few passages and then think about the stacks of money she is making for horrible, bad, bad, unbelievably bad, just terrible writing. Stephen King even felt the need to publicly diss her.
 

helmutRoole2

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Bro Deal said:
So, HR2, this is what you have been doing with your time? If you ever need motivation buy a copy of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Read a few passages and then think about the stacks of money she is making for horrible, bad, bad, unbelievably bad, just terrible writing. Stephen King even felt the need to publicly diss her.
I'm pulling together a couple short stories about cycling. This one. I hear you about Meyer, but she hooked into an original idea, like the guy who wrote Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. I read Fight Club and thought it was pretty clumsy, but I did read it. The movie was better. Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men was better than the movie, believe it or not.
 

Bro Deal

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helmutRoole2 said:
I'm pulling together a couple short stories about cycling. This one. I hear you about Meyer, but she hooked into an original idea, like the guy who wrote Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. I read Fight Club and thought it was pretty clumsy, but I did read it. The movie was better. Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men was better than the movie, believe it or not.
This reminds me of an interview with John Grisham I saw on the Charlie Rose show a while back. He talked about the process he used to write The Firm. It was as far from an artistic endeavor as you can get. He read best sellers, taking note of common elements, pacing, subject matter and what not, and he then set out to write a book purely for its commercial potential.

It was similar to how the independent horror film Reanimator was made. The producers and director had never made a horror film before. In fact I am not sure they had ever made any film before. They spent a lot of time at one of the producer's house watching successful independent horror films. In the end they made a movie that is now considered a classic.

Grisham's method of writing also reminded me of Robert Ludlum's. He makes a very extensive outline before starting the actual writing. I remember reading somewhere that Ludlum does a series of progessively more detailed outlines until the last one is about half the length of the final book.
 

helmutRoole2

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Bro Deal said:
Grisham's method of writing also reminded me of Robert Ludlum's. He makes a very extensive outline before starting the actual writing. I remember reading somewhere that Ludlum does a series of progessively more detailed outlines until the last one is about half the length of the final book.
It's important to know to a degree where your going with your story. Most stories use some form of conflict/point of insight/resolution. I've done outlines but I find them tedious. The stories I've written, the characters start to evolve and the story changes. Like with the above story, the conflict isn't clearly stated. Not concise. The resolution is. I mean, it's a story about a guy who decides cycling isn't as important as he thought it was. It's about a guy who kinda loses faith in the sport but finds salvation in his new family.

Short stories are a little different than novels. I don't think a clear conflict/resolution is as important.

Did the story work for you?
 

thunder

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helmutRoole2 said:
It's important to know to a degree where your going with your story. Most stories use some form of conflict/point of insight/resolution. I've done outlines but I find them tedious. The stories I've written, the characters start to evolve and the story changes. Like with the above story, the conflict isn't clearly stated. Not concise. The resolution is. I mean, it's a story about a guy who decides cycling isn't as important as he thought it was. It's about a guy who kinda loses faith in the sport but finds salvation in his new family.

Short stories are a little different than novels. I don't think a clear conflict/resolution is as important.

Did the story work for you?
vivid plausibility :cool:
 

Drongo

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helmutRoole2 said:
It's important to know to a degree where your going with your story. Most stories use some form of conflict/point of insight/resolution. I've done outlines but I find them tedious. The stories I've written, the characters start to evolve and the story changes. Like with the above story, the conflict isn't clearly stated. Not concise. The resolution is. I mean, it's a story about a guy who decides cycling isn't as important as he thought it was. It's about a guy who kinda loses faith in the sport but finds salvation in his new family.

Short stories are a little different than novels. I don't think a clear conflict/resolution is as important.

Did the story work for you?


It worked for me, mate. I liked it. Strong sense of the characters, although
I reckon you could flesh out Ian Crestwell if you wanted to. Show him in a context outside of sport or TV, just to see what he thinks of himself, not just what others think of him ... I dunno, say, a queue for a nightclub in Baustin, I mean Boston (j/k).

The 'Me' story is particularly strong. I notice you don't go back to talking about Jeff except through 'Me', though. In a sense that's important: the denouement relies on Jeff having made a decision that you don't know he's made. But something more to indicate how he feels about all this winning again might be useful, even if it's reported conversation. Because that's the snag, isn't it? After all the bollocks he's had to deal with, this is his ticket to winning.

A couple of typos early on. If you want me to, I'll proof it and PM you those.

Good stuff, though. Kept me from working for a while, which is bad--but in a good way.
 

helmutRoole2

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Drongo said:
It worked for me, mate. I liked it. Strong sense of the characters, although
I reckon you could flesh out Ian Crestwell if you wanted to. Show him in a context outside of sport or TV, just to see what he thinks of himself, not just what others think of him ... I dunno, say, a queue for a nightclub in Baustin, I mean Boston (j/k).

The 'Me' story is particularly strong. I notice you don't go back to talking about Jeff except through 'Me', though. In a sense that's important: the denouement relies on Jeff having made a decision that you don't know he's made. But something more to indicate how he feels about all this winning again might be useful, even if it's reported conversation. Because that's the snag, isn't it? After all the bollocks he's had to deal with, this is his ticket to winning.

A couple of typos early on. If you want me to, I'll proof it and PM you those.

Good stuff, though. Kept me from working for a while, which is bad--but in a good way.
Yes... do send those.
 

Drongo

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Helmut,

Some little proofing changes and suggestions. I didn't use track changes, but have instead highlighted changes (in grey) and used strikethrough/underline as appropriate.

I haven't tinkered with the text otherwise.

I'll delete the post when you confirm you've read this and have the files.

Cheers,

Drongo