I did my first road race last weekend, the Town Mountain Hill Climb, a five-mile time trial straight up the side of Town Mountain on the edge of downtown Asheville. It’s a popular mountain for roadies looking for an in-town workout, and my riding buddies and I usually pedal it once a week. We do a number of mountain bike races as a team (Team Skippy Titsworth; Are You Titsworthy?) but this was our first foray into the bizarro world of road racing, where bikers wear spandex and worry about things like “nutrition” and “winning.” And the Town Mountain Hill Climb usually attracts the most serious of the lot– fast, skinny racers in sleek time trial helmets and shaved legs.
In order to insure there would be no misunderstanding about our intentions, Team Skippy Titsworth showed up wearing cut off jean shorts and PBR tallboys stuffed in our water bottle cages. Needless to say, we were the only bikers dressed like idiots. But the message was sent: Skippy Titsworth was here to ride bikes, drink beer, and look sexy doing it. Event volunteers posed for pictures with us while the other racers dismissed us off-handedly as jokesters that posed no threat during the race. We’re like the chubby but affable guy you encourage your girlfriend to spend time with because he’s no threat whatsoever.
For a brief moment, poised at the starting line, I thought maybe, just maybe, Skippy Titsworth could surprise the road biking world and dominate this race. I envisioned having our photo taken while holding one of those big “Price is Right” checks. The legend of our cycling prowess would spread through the land and cut off jean shorts would be the new race attire of serious bikers.
Alas, race domination was not in the cards for me or the other members of team Skippy Titsworth. One team member finished second to last and two team members were bested by a guy riding a unicycle. But we rode in style, drank PBR’s at the top of the mountain, and showed the roadies that there’s more to biking than just riding fast. And maybe, just maybe, our jean shorts and beer cages inspired some kids to take up the sport of cycling.