The Kulaks were landowners and business operators in early Stalinist Russia. They operated profitable farms and fed a lot of people. They were small holders - not the elite, nor were they the serfs, not exactly. They had been serfs, who decided they could do a better job at running a farm than others could. Thanks to the 1906 land reforms, they bought their land, usually on credit, from some larger land holder. It was a nascent middle class by 1920, and the Kulaks didn't fit into the scheme of downtrodden proletarian worker, the moon faced agricultural lumpenproletariat agricultural serfs, or the wealthy bourgeoisie.
So trouble was brewing for the Kulaks. They were a tiny class of people, stuck somewhere in the middle of the economic spectrum. At some point, they got deemed an enemy of the people - I think it had to do with an economic downturn and mass starvation in the old Soviet Union. More realistically, they were a handy scapegoat; you could point to them as supposedly being of the lower classes, yet at the same time you could point at them as possessed of undue wealth considering their serf-y pretensions. So the elite could piss on them, and the serfs could shake their fists at them. Ultimately, the Kulaks were given an opportunity: conform or die. Drop back into serfdom, shut your mouth, work on the collective farm, give over your personal wealth, or be labeled an enemy of the people and essentially outlawed.
The Kulaks were abused horribly by the government and their peers starting in the early 1930's, which is about when Stalin began his purges. Most of them didn't have that much in the way of assets, but they had working farms, an amazing thing to the lower class serfs who were basically sharecroppers. But they were a handy scapegoat - it was easy for kommisars to talk about Kulaks, enemies of the people, destroyers of agriculture and the economy. It was all bullshit, but class warfare as a weapon worked very effectively as a diversion to keep the yokels distracted from what the government was actually up to.
If a lower class racer like me showed up on a set of dream wheels at a Cat IV race, I'd be labeled a Kulak, ostracized, and probably shot, or at least have nasty looks shot at me. Worse than being shot, people would look at me like, "hey, what's that fat bastard doing on those (fill in the blank)s? Doesn't he know he's over the weight limit?" Nothing would work for me. If I tried a break, the lumpenproles of the Cat IV pack would kick my ass. If I tried to set up for a sprint, wheelsucking for dear life, the elite would point out that I am an enemy of the people, a parasite, and I'd get blocked in by their running dog helpers. Sure, *they* can rock the 1200 gram Nimble Flys... but I can't. I'm not on my way into Cat III any time soon, and I wouldn't be fitting in well with the pack, which, though blingy to the casual cyclist, is outfitted with good but modest Ksyriums and Easton EA 50s and the like. It's all good stuff, but bare entry level luxury bling. Ultimately, I'd be dead, at least in that race. You can't show up the neighbors and epect they will keep their dog from crapping in your garden.
So I can't realistically buy my dream wheels. Ain't going to happen. I'd only draw negative attention to myself, be labeled an enemy of the people, and meet an untimely demise in the gulag of Cat IV crit racing, the back of that long string that accordions through each turn, eventually snapping the rearmost riders off the back with a whiplash.
But if I did...
There's really only one choice. In the best racing shape I've gotten to, I roll at 250. 225 would look thin on me in a way that is comparable to how most of y'all look at 145. It's just how I'm built; it's a contact sports body. But after being laid up over most of the winter... I'm closer to 28o right now.
I also like an aero wheel. I can handle a little extra weight as long as it rolls real well. I'm not a climber, never will be, so light weight doesn't matter much. I do like rolling along in a fast little pack at 30 or 32 MPH. It's not that tough because power: frontal section area is a lot more favorable to me than power:weight. So aerodynamics matter a lot. Then there's the raw power bit, and my weight. The legs aren't the only problem; I wrench on the bars when I sprint, and I've bent them. Busted chains, chainrings, derailers, and Cycling Peaks charts litter my training and racing history. So my dream wheels have to be strong like booool because I throw stuff at them that is so nasty, that all the little cherubic cone wrenches and chain whips and tire irons in Wheel Heaven weep bitter tears over it.
But what could I buy? There are so many good wheels on the market.
After thinking about this for a couple years, it has occurred to me that, like the Highlander, There Can Only Be One.
They are the Zipp 404 Clydesdales. No weight limit, the aero features make them downright Zippity Doo-Dah, and they are sheer carbon goodness. The clincher version is 1782g, while the tubular (which I might almost be talked into) is a mere 1354g. They retail for $2100 but I suspect I could finesse a team deal on a pair.
Yes, it's true: I have boogers that weigh more than the clincher version of this wheelset.
What keeps me from buying them? Well first, they cost more than my whole roadbike did, at least when I bought it new, somewhat discounted.
Second, were I to go with these wheels, they'd really be more like $3000. That's because I'm not buying wheels this sweet, only to break them out for races. Nope, I'd be putting a wireless Powertap on the back, and using them every day. Come to think of it, I'd probably have to upgrade to SRM, because who wants to weigh down such a lovely, light set of wheels? So really the wheelset would be more like $4000 by the time I was done with them. Still, they'd be awfully nice.
Yeah, I could probably afford them if I really wanted them. It would be do-able. But there I'd be, a fat, money-flaunting, slow-on-hills Cat IV / Masters racer, on this wheelset that costs more than a lot of cars you see on the road. You all would know I'm a good guy, and my kid would know I'm a good guy, but to the pack?
Yep, I'd be just another Kulak.
So I think I'll keep my head down for now, stick to my modest, working class wheels, and dream about how nice it would be to rock these bad boys. And if I start doing well in races, well, then maybe I'll consider them.
Y'know. Just to piss off the proles.
Note: I'm off to Coppi Camp on Thursday AM, and probably won't blog for a few days. See y'all on Monday.