Saturday, May 30, 2009

No More Sandbagging

This year I got in the Bike Omaha Commuter Challenge from the beginning and devised a strategy to stay in first place on my employer's team. I already know that I can ride everyday, despite foul weather, so in order to take the top position, I need more miles than other consistent riders. I would take the long way to work and the long way home.

I mentioned this to Rafal during a long way home ride along the Omaha Riverfront Trail and he teased me saying I was "sandbagging" the Commuter Challenge. I, a cheater? No way. I'm an honest guy. But I figured I was heading home, and not really participating in a group ride to artificially gain miles. Rather, I would opt for wide loops home that might give me a 15 mile home instead of the usual five.

I'd never heard the term "sandbag" used like this, but I inferred from the context what Rafal meant. However, the relevant definition from Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day (5/1/2009) is:

to conceal or misrepresent one's true position, potential, or intent especially in order to take advantage of

And some explanation:

In the 19th century, the verb "sandbag" began to be used to describe the act of bludgeoning someone with a small, sand-filled bag -- a tactic employed by ruffians, usually as a prelude to robbing their victims. The verb went on to develop metaphorical extensions, such as "to coerce by crude means." By the 1940s, it was being used of a strategy in which a poker player with a good hand bets weakly, in order to draw other players into holding on to their hands and raising the bet. The use of "sandbag" has since evolved to refer to a general strategy of playing down one's position in order to gain some sort of advantage.

I posed the question to our team leader and he said that during the BOCC organizational meetings that this topic actually came up. The consensus was that riders should log no more miles than "the safest route home." The safest route home might be a little longer than the most direct route home, but for me, that wouldn't be more than one-half mile over my five mile trip.

So being an honest guy, I will only be reporting 50 miles each weak for the remainder of the BOCC.

Even though I can't count the long way home rides, I did have a nice one yesterday. I ran into Wes J. in the locker room before heading out yesterday. I asked if I could ride out of downtown with him on his way home to Millard. Jeff D. rides a similar way so I thought I might show Wes how Jeff gets to the Keystone Trail and Harrison Street. Plus, bike rides are always fun with company. I assumed that Wes was riding his hybrid bike and that I might be able to keep up with him.

When we met outside to mount up and pedal off, I noticed he was on his full carbon racing bike with itty bitty cogs and gigantic chainrings. There's no way I would be able to keep up with him. However, Wes is very gracious and stuck with me on the way up Farnam/St. Mary's, and then Leavenworth on to Elmwood Park and then finally the Keystone to my exit at Grover. I felt bad for slowing him down, as he told me he only gets the chance for a bike commute a few times a year. However I enjoyed the ride, and I think Wes liked the path out of downtown to the trail.

I hope to get a more serious road bike in the future and have a better chance and hanging on with the fast folks when opportunities like these come up.


RD said...

i was kidding no reason to put me on spot...
jeeez :D

Scott Redd said...

From now on you shall be known as "Rafal The Enforcer."

BTW: I think I saw your coworker, Gail, this morning out walking dogs. I wasn't sure if it was she whom I saw, but I gave a wave anyway.