Sunday, August 02, 2009

From the PCC Archives - Ye Olde Club

Introduction - by C. P. “Gramps” Svoboda (founding club member)

[Editor's Note: this material comes from the archives of the now-defunct Pittsburgh Cycling Club.]

You see, in my day, we didn’t have generous “sponsors”. We had to eats lots of sugar, yep, and get cavities, and go to the dentist. Then we’d sell all the gold fillings just for entry fees, uh-huh. And our bikes…well, our bikes didn’t come from some “bike-shop” much less a fancy-pants “frame-maker” like DEAN … no, we had to take apart sinks and washing-machines and weld those pipes together and when our parents would ask what happened to the washing machine, we’d tell them we didn’t know … but they’d always catch us cause our bikes would spring leaks on the floor. And our races didn’t go on for just a few hours … no sir, a few DAYS more like it! Uphill the entire way and there weren’t bridges in those days, so we had to just ride through the rivers, y’see?!? These kids today are just too darn lucky!!!

Lucky Bike Club by C. Paul Svoboda
Okay, so maybe Gramps is over exaggerating a bit; maybe it was never quite that difficult being a bike racer, but as every member of this team knows, it takes major dedication and time not to mention lots of hard work and sacrifice. Our efforts, this year, have been made so much easier by our graciously supportive sponsors … but it hasn’t always been this way! As a way of thanking you, our sponsor, I would like to offer, on behalf of this club, something of a “vignette” that peers into our world and explains just a little bit of what we’ve done, where we’ve been, and maybe even gives you something to chuckle about.

My Favorite Race & Neil’s Nose Goblins
Olean is, or was, by far the best race I’ve ever done. I only finished ever as high as 25th overall in this three-day grueler but it was a race that was always unpredictable and eventful; always an event that really brought the team together and started the summer stage racing off at breakneck speed! The first year I did the race, we stayed at the Castle Inn. But, of course that’s where we stayed…we stayed there every year … where else is there to stay in Olean, NY?!? It was always the most luxurious race because of that hotel. Where else could we get in a round of par-3 golf (I use “golf” generously), shuffle-board, bocchi ball, and still have time to take a dip in their not-so-Olympic-sized-pool before retiring into the Elvis Anniversary Suite (I don’t know if they actually called it that, but if they didn’t, they should have…we did) for a log-like slumber?!?

I cannot remember, due mostly to extensive therapy, how many team members we managed to squeeze into that suite every year, but we are students, and if there was a patch of carpet showing, then the room wasn’t full. And forget getting a glass of water in the middle of the night … that kind of misguided venture was a sure way to put a team member out of commission. And so it came to pass that for three days every June, the Castle Inn was our own little resort.

Every Saturday afternoon during that annual weekend, we would find ourselves poolside in varying states of consciousness. Upon one particularly fateful Saturday afternoon in June at the pool of our resort, our omnipresent 27-year-old-going-on-teenager member, Neil (we’ll call him that for anonymity’s sake) thought it a good idea to make friends with one particularly blonde, particularly bored (and young) lifeguard. It must be understood that his logic had been reasoned in the midst of a post-race delirium brought on by 75 miles of hot tarmac, fast racing, and four impecably long and steep climbs. Of course, the post-race Jolt cola and Twinkie merely served to put Neil over the edge.

A former model, Neil collected his charm and swam with all the grace of a dolphin over to his all-too-suspecting prey. He brought himself out of the water forcefully and dramatically, sure to allow time for the sun to glint off of his toned and awkwardly tanned body (the stark lines on a cyclist’s arms and mid-thighs belie a rider immediately to his trade). Lest I forget to mention before I describe our fair guard’s reaction, Neil cautiously thought it a good idea to clear his nose of any offending hangers-on. Quite absent-mindedly, Neil went off toward his objective without clarifying, among friends, his nostril-status.

And so it might already be clear that as our glistening and savvy teammate made his way from the water, an equally glistening string of the most graceful mucus imaginable had made its way across his cheek, striking an elegant arc from his upper lip, just below his left-nostril, to well below his pronounced chin and up, disappearing across his right cheek somewhere before his ear lobe. Possibly, it was our laughter upon his return or maybe something that his would-be water nymph said to him, but Neil retired quite soon thereafter for a nap and some aloe lotion (both for his sun-marked nose and his charred ego, no doubt). Since then, pocket tissues have become a popular item among team members of that era.


  1. Awesome! I those are some great pics and stories. Who is that lab rat riding the bike? I would never do that again! Come to think of it, I am unemployed now - anyone know of some studies i can participate in for cash?

    All the best to my PCC teammates!

  2. Dan, I have a lot of digital content from that era, including a few photos, and as time allows I'll try to post some of it. Would you let the others (like Paul) who I simply don't know how to contact know that this is up, and more will follow?



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