Monday, October 5, 2009
Beer hand-ups 101 ... Why he's the King of Kross
Study this picture. Zoom in and slowly scan the varying nuances of what has been digitally captured here at this precise moment of time. Think iconic action photos like that of Michael Jordan in mid-air coiled for a highlight dunk or Bobby Orr splayed out horizontal like Superman just after he releases a shot to find the back of the net. Yes, look closely my CX brethren. Are you seeing it ... no. no. no, not the bike, not the jackass on the bike ... What you are seeing is perhaps the perfect hand-up.
Puzzled? ...Let me explain. First we should note that the guy offering the hand-up (technically called the "hander-upper-er") is known as the King of Kross. For the uninitiated, CX (or KX if I may in deference to the King) is more than just the bike race itself. You see, KX is the alpha, and the omega of cycling. It is not road biking, it is not mtb'ing, it is neither and it is both and the hand-up is the path to KX enlightenment.
So now let me help you take the first steps on your personal path via the KX hand-up with a detailed examination of this picture.
(1) To start, the hand-up is within close proximity to the golden elixir dispensing station. Think easy access, minimal transport, readily available and steady supply.
(2) The hand-up is occurring at a location where the rider's (receiver's) speed is relatively slow as he comes out of a technical chicane onto a straight section. In this manner, the receiver can most easily disengage a hand from the bars and prepare for a transfer. Please note that a hand-up right before a super technical section or a power climb is a waste of golden elixir -- both hands are needed on the bar and the golden elixir cannot be properly protected for consumption. Any waste can be easily detected in the form of spillage or vomitization.
(3) The transfer vessel contains approximately 3-4 ounces of golden elixir. Any less and you have to ask why bother. Any more and you risk spillage or vomitization as technical sections approach. Also note that in this case a lighter style of elixir (Witte or Hennepin) was chosen. Heavier elixirs (Abbey Ale, Three Philosophers) are best for post race consumption.
(4) The hander-upper-er has clearly identified himself ... in this case in an Ommegang cycling cap. It can become difficult to decipher hecklers from hander-upper-ers in the heat of the battle.
(5) Plastic cup. Should be a no-brainer but let's consider hitting a root with a glass bottle in hand -- can you say dental visit? Also the plastic cup can be harmlessly and easily discarded in the direction of a heckler or let's say some Catskill hillbilly in a Banana Republic sweater he found in the trash. Firing bottles off from the bike is just not cool or enlightening, especially if you don't see it coming.
(6) Zoom "way-in" on the exchange of the vessel of golden elixir. You will notice the hander-upper-er has left the bottom 2/3 of the vessel exposed for a smooth and efficient transfer. Additionally, the cupped grip the hander-upper-er has over the top of the vessel helps to maintain stability and limit potential spillage.
(7) Perhaps the most subtle aspect of this transfer, yet a very advanced technique, may not even be noticeable unless specifically pointed out. What is it you ask? ....Notice how the King (the expert hander-upper-er in this case) has just the slightest of bend in his elbow. This is key; I cannot emphasize this enough. The very slight bend allows for a firm yet flexible exchange of the vessel containing the golden elixir. A locked elbow, or overly bent elbow will significantly magnify any seemingly minor misalignment of the transfer with the potentially devastating result of spillage.
It is unlikely you will find similar instruction at any 'cross or KX clinics so consider yourself fortunate. You have been granted insight to a powerful and exhilirating part of the KX world that many are scared to explore. Go forth my friends, my consumers of golden elixir, and hander-upper-er wannabe's, explore and discover your inner KX through the process of the hand-up.
Note: Drumroll is available for group or personal hander-upper-er training. Please do not hesitate to contact him through this website. While open minded, Drumroll explicity requires a true Belgian hand-up experience, and cash up front.