Thursday, September 18, 2008

Caution: Biker Behind The Wheel

Recently Recounted Random Tale You May Or May Not Find Interesting:

A couple weeks ago C-Mac and I decided to cruise up to Glenwood Springs to do a little canyon riding. As we’re heading west through the Rockies, this little, scraggly-haired guy in an Audi with two bikes in the back comes tearing up the slow lane on I-70 at about 100mph, only to maniacally swerve within 5 feet of my front bumper and back into the left lane when his path was cut by a truck going 50.

After a rare F-Bomb by yours truly, C-Mac (in an even rarer display of disgust) goes, "What a Bleep."

To which I immediately respond, "I think that was Roberto Gaggioli. I knew he was kind of crazy I bet he gets pulled over. I guess he drives like he used to race."

After a couple more choice exchanges, I then educated C-Mac on R-Gag's career and how he was one of the first Italians I could recall that came over and feasted on American Crits back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Rocking red shoes and looking more like the lead singer for RATT than a professional bike racer, R-Gag tore it up back in the day. No question about that.

I then recounted my memories of him winning in San Rafael when I was 12 years old, over the likes of Eric Heiden, Tom Schuler (the reigning USPRO Champ) and the rest of Team Slurpee and Team Tooth (Crest). On a side note, I recall Marianne Berglund winning the women’s event that day – and gaining many male fans in Marin along the way. I also remembered something about a rather shocking post-race assault later in Gag’s career as well. Oops. Dude, it’s all fun and games until someone gets assaulted with a wooden two-by-four.

Anyway, no more than a mile down after we got through the Eisenhower Tunnel, we see the Red and Blue Flash behind that very same Audi that nearly swept my front wheel back in Georgetown. NAILED.
I guess some people never stop shooting the gaps. Or getting involved with Five-O for being reckless. Or nearly killing me and my fiancĂ© by driving like there is a cash prime at the next exit. I clapped louder when I saw that cop than I did back in San Rafael twenty years ago. Risking lives to get ahead is not cool – in a bike race, after a bike race or on the highway.

Not to preach too much, but I believe that how you drive is a clear reflection of your respect for life. Your own and those of everyone else out there with you. It’s not Pole Position and the risks of driving like a moron always outweigh the benefits. There is rarely a prize for being the fastest guy on the highway. Just an increased probability of a speeding ticket at best and a vehicular manslaughter conviction at the worst. Thankfully, R-Gag only has to deal with the former and not the latter – this time.


Sebastian said...

hey! i was at that san rafael race. good times.

also, the ratt analogy is more than apt. back in the day, my cousins and i went to a small, evangelical high school in the hills between napa and pope valley. my cousin ryan, who was a few years older than me and getting into racing in his teens, brought back a t-shirt from that (or another) race, with an image of roberto gaggioli underneath the call letters of a radio station that sponsored it. now our school had a strict no-rock-shirt policy, and no matter how hard ryan tried to explain, none of the relevant authority figures would believe that the image of this gnarly long-haired dude underneath k-something-something-something was anything less than a heavy metal t-shirt. so yes, roberto gaggioli: the only european cyclist badass enough to get an american high school student suspended for wearing his shirt.

Nathan Rand said...

I remember R. Gagioli in the late 80s at a race in Mt Adams in Cincinnati. The Blue Ash Dash. The day before that race was a close course hill climb up Mt Adams. I was just about to start (as a junior) when a police officer was chasing Roberto up the closed course yelling to him that the course was closed. In typical R Gagilioni fashion, he yelled back "I dont understand English" and kept going to preride the course.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Great post J.... Funny...? Yes. Suprising...? No! Keep up the great work!!! Dave Towle

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

Great post.

rg said...

A friend of mine email me this calirado post. I normally don't like to waste my time on bloggers, but this one is really funny. Thank you for the few compliments about racing back in the day. I was wondering if you were implying that the man in the Audi was me. I don't have an Audi and as a cyclist I would never drive crazy and put the lives of other cyclists in danger. I just got back from Italy where I spend all summer and from there I was in Wisconsin last week. Seem like next time you may want to look a little better.

Anonymous said...

Here is a case of a slow driver getting passed by someone else and having a problem with it!

If someone passes your slow ass just keep trying to get faster!

What a fag!

CaliRado Cyclist said...

I thought about deleting the prior comment but decided to leave it up as an example of the world we live in.

Just as I sadly marvel at the willingness to foolishly risk lives on the road, the desire to post anonymous insults on blogs never ceases to depress and amaze.

Just as we must be aware of those who drive recklessly, we must also acknowledge the reality of aggressive ignorance.

This is the world we live in.