Wankmeister cycling clinic #25: Training vs. Racing

November 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

Dear Wankmeister:

I know some dudes who are great racers and some other dudes who are great trainers but they’re not usually the same. F’rinstance, there’s a bunch of dudes who are killing it in October and November on the group rides and the dudes who win all the races are at the back or off the back, and then later in the year the training beasts aren’t doing so hot and the racing dudes are smashing everyone’s face in. What’s up with that?

Curiously,
Pudsy Pudknocker

Dear Pudsy:

Racing and training are different. I’ve broken it down for you below.

1. Training: You get to stop when you’re tired and then start again after a latte, a potty break, and a chat with your pals.
Racing: You get to stop once, at the end, or when you fall off your bicycle, which then becomes the end.

2. Training: Looks matter.
Racing: Legs matter.

3. Training: Everyone’s a winner.
Racing: There is only one winner. And it’s not you.

4. Training: Your buddies help you.
Racing: Everyone tries to kill you, especially your buddies.

5. Training: Mileage matters.
Racing: Winning matters.

6. Training: Strava matters.
Racing: Winning matters.

7. Training: The best rider doesn’t always finish.
Racing: The fastest rider always wins. [Note: I’ve said this before and been ridiculed. Now re-read it and STFU, unless it’s one of those races where the winner crosses the line last.]

8. Training: You can tell your wife you killed it.
Racing: Results are posted on USA Cycling.

9. Training: You can’t lose a training ride.
Racing: You can lose a race, and you will.

10. Training: Respect is earned by showing up, shit-talking, wearing a fancy kit, riding at the front, blogging, buying lunch for others, etc.
Racing: Respect is earned by winning.

11. Training: You might be able to hang with Daniel Holloway, Mark Cavendish, or Taylor Phinney on a winter SoCal training ride.
Racing: I don’t need to say this one, do I?

Hope this helps.

Competitively,
Wankmeister

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Is my friend doping?

November 22, 2014 § 11 Comments

Admit it. You’re wondering. Click on the flow chart to enlarge.

is_my_friend_doping

 

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New Armstrong biopic sheds light on worst human ever

November 21, 2014 § 26 Comments

A new documentary about Lance Armstrong, following hard on the heels of the eye-popping biopics “Stop at Nothing,” “The Armstrong Lie,” and “Child Murderer at Dawn,” tells the never-before-told story of Armstrong’s connections to the mafia, the Yamaguchi-gumi, Barrio Azteca, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and Chase Bank.

While known mostly as a thief of childhood dreams and Betsy, not to mention being a colossal asshole who can’t drink a beer and run a mile, this new movie, entitled “Lance: Spawn of Satan,” details Armstrong’s complicity in some of the worst crimes and human rights abuses in history. Snoopy O’Flummigan, an independent filmmaker from Lancaster, CA, took three entire weeks to produce this riveting expose.

“Most people think that Lance was just your typical Texas Delta Bravo with a tiny wanker,” said O’Flummigan. “Few people know that he was worse than Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Rick Perry combined.”

The movie shows that in addition to masterminding the assassination of John F. Kennedy a full eight years before he was born, Armstrong set up a prison gulag system in the Texas Panhandle where dissident cyclists and Betsy were interned and deprived of Facebag, the Twitter, and access to online bicycle chat forums.

“It’s common knowledge that Armstrong stole the childhood dreams of millions of young children, children who simply wanted a chance to get brain cancer in order to have Lance send them an ‘attaboy’ and a signed t-shirt, only to find out that their hero was stealing their dreams and selling them on eBay. But hardly anyone knows about his work at Abu Graib, his legal treatises that legitimized torture, and his behind-the-scenes manipulations that brought Citizens United and Hobby Lobby to fruition as Supreme Court decisions that helped turn the U.S. into a far-right oligarchy. And you remember the dick-pic that Brett Favre sent to his masseuse? Lance did that, too.”

Whereas most books and movies currently detailing the “biggest fraud in sporting history” tend to focus on Armstrong’s drug use and the scorched earth tactics he employed to take down his detractors, O’Flummigan found the story to be more nuanced. “Lots of people think cheating is bad, and it is. But you have to balance that against Armstrong’s use of sarin gas against unarmed civilians in Syria, his human experiments on twins, and the way he set up extra-territorial renditions as a way to keep people quiet. His invention and aggressive peddling of mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, along with his lobbying to gut Sarbanes-Oxley and deregulate the banking industry are what single-handedly destroyed the world economy,” adds O’Flummigan. “He was a very bad boy.”

Leaders in the the Lance hating community have showered effusive praise on the biopic. “O’Flummigan has done what no filmmaker to date has dared,” said Tootsie Pookums, weekend cyclist and noted notary public. “He has proven that Lance was the gunman on the grassy knoll.”

When asked how Armstrong could have assassinated someone before he was alive, Pookums cited to the important work of John Stewart Bell and his proof of quantum entanglement theory. “Paired electrons exert an instantaneous effect on each other even when they are no longer paired,” said Pookums. “Lance’s electrons killed JFK after the fact.”

The Lance Jocksniffer Support Society, headed by a major cycling publication in Los Angeles, immediately condemned the documentary. “Lance didn’t do anything that Hitler didn’t do, and Betsy. Holding Lance to a higher standard than Hitler is unfair, and is making him a scapegoat. We demand that this trial-by-media immediately cease, and that he be allowed to shoot himself in a bunker 30 feet underground near the Reichstag in Berlin.”

The documentary will open in theaters throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 28.

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How to race crits (better)

November 20, 2014 § 7 Comments

Our team leader sent us all a link to an article about how to improve our crit racing. Here’s the link.

Now, our team leader knows what he’s talking about because he’s won a ton of big crits, so it makes sense that he would send us advice about how we can win, too. Unfortunately, his optimism is clouded by the massive cumulonimbus of reality. The only people who are ever going to win crits are the ones who already win crits. Instead, I wish he would have sent us an article about crit strategies for people who are hopeless and who have zero chance of ever crossing the line first.

I googled “tips for hopeless crit racing wankers” and got no hits except for a profile on some dude named Chris Lotts. So I thought I would type up some hopeless wanker crit racing tips and share them with you, because let’s face it, you ain’t ever gonna fuggin’ win a crit. Ever.

  1. Don’t fuggin’ crash. This is the number one rule for crit racing. If you’re a winner, you will sometimes fall off your bicycle because you have to take risks, bang bars, check timber, and see who’s testosterone is the stinkiest. Everyone else doesn’t have a fuggin’ chance, especially you, so don’t go home with your nuts covered in road rash. When you have to choose between taking the aggressive line or falling back 30 places, you sure as fugg better cower, brake, and give way. “How come your balls are all skinned up?” is not the question you want to have to answer when you get home.
  2. Don’t fuggin’ sprint. Are you in the top five coming through the last turn? Of course not! You’re a fat fuggin’ wanker who’s lucky to be in 65th place with his epidermis intact. Sit the fugg up and coast. Let the other knuckleheads battle it out for 64th place, ’cause one of them is going down. On his face. And his name is Prez.
  3. Don’t fuggin’ attack. You know who attacks? Winners, that’s who. Chubby, stub-legged wankers on $10k bikes are not going off the front for more than 10 yards, and if they do it’s on Lap 3. Go to the fuggin’ back of the bus where you belong. Even if you did get into a break, you’d be shelled. Instantly. Save your energy for the Internet chat forums after the race where your handle is “CritStud” and nobody fuggin’ knows you’re a greasy-fingered Cheetos addict with a saggy ass and a Cat 5 racing license.
  4. Don’t fuggin’ wait. You know the idiot who burns all his matches drilling it at the front in the first four laps? Sure you do, because that idiot is YOU. Let’s face it, when the screws get turned on the last five laps you’ll be so far back that your girlfriend will need a fuggin’ telescope to see your saggy ass. So, the time to do the glory pull is NOW. Early and often, then sink to the rear and soft pedal. All you need to be able to say is “Didja see me?” and get a cool head-of-the-field glory shot by Danny Munson or Phil Beckman. Fuggin’ winning.
  5. Panic like a motherfugger. When the race starts you should already have crapped four times and be nervouser than a tuna fish at a sushi cooking class. Veer like a crazyfugg from right to left, bounce off other racers like a pinball, charge the fuggin’ inside line on crowded, tight turns, and scream at everyone like you’ve got Ebola and can’t wait to share it. It’s the only way you’ll move up. To 55th.
  6. Complain about the fuggin’ prize list. So what if you finished 84th? Let the fuggin’ cheapass promoter know that if he’d been giving out hundred dollar bills instead of old socks you would have lapped the field. If he’s giving out hundred dollar bills tell him he’s a sellout fugghead for commercializing our pure sport and you finished 98th as a protest. If he punches you in the face it’s because you fuggin’ deserved it.
  7. Tell the officials they fuggin’ suck. Even a genius like you can’t win when the game’s rigged, and the game-riggers are the fuggin’ cheatfugg officials. Tell ‘em! Remind the zebras about how when you rode bandit in the Ol’ Scratchynuts Century where there were NO fuggin’ USA Cycling officials, you finished in the money, and her name was Zelda.
  8. Make the winners fear your fuggin’ gap. So what if you corner like a battleship with a broken rudder? There’s no reason the winners should benefit from that. Hustle towards the front and do your patented full-brake-plus-gap-out pedal stroke into the turn, opening up 12 bike lengths that everyone else has to sprint around. Are they mad? Do they yell and bitch? Does it make them tired? Sucks to be them, fuggers.
  9. Bounce your fuggin’ check. The d-bags promoting your event don’t deserve to eat, so always pay for your race with a bad check. They’ll never turn it over to the D.A., and the joke’s on them for taking money from a guy like you with road rash on his nuts anyway. It’s more fun than banditing a century, because the promoter has to pay a bad check fee to boot. Sucks to be him, fugger!
  10. Piss in the fuggin’ bushes. Just because the fuggin’ maroon promoter paid to have 15 port-o-potties doesn’t mean you have to use them. Whip out Mr. Business when the bag is full and whizz anywhere you want, especially if it’s near little kids or first time wives who’ve come to see their man race. If they think it’s a family affair, they got another think coming, especially when they see what a big ol’ handful of veined-up purplish manly wood looks like while they’re feeding animal crackers to the kids and grandma.

Anyway, I hope this helps all you aspiring crit racers out there. Good luck!

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The strange pull of cycling

November 19, 2014 § 18 Comments

I first saw the old elephant about three years ago. He was gray-headed and busting out at the seams as we flew past him on the Donut Ride. He’d gotten a good ten-minute head start but we overhauled him long before the first big climb. He huffed and puffed and mashed for about ten pedal strokes, trying to hang on before he was blown out the back.

As we passed him someone said, “Good job, Bill,” and then we were gone.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s Backintheday Bill,” the other rider said as he filled me in on Bill’s career as a top local pro and general two-wheeled wrecking ball.

“He looks terrible,” I said. “He’s gotta weigh over 250.”

“Yeah, I haven’t seen him in fifteen years, maybe more. His race weight was 140.” From that Saturday on I saw Bill every weekend and always said hello when we passed. Over time he stopped taking head starts and began rolling out with the group. And he was getting smaller.

At the beginning of the year I noticed that he was sticking with us up the first hard surge, and although he was still a pretty big fella, he was certainly under 200, and his kits didn’t look like they were about to unravel and kill someone with the force of the exploding seams. Now he’s visibly getting thinner by the month, and sticks with a much younger grupetto all the way over the first big climb. All of his kits are new because the old ones flat out don’t fit anymore.

Bill’s one of many, many riders who come and go and then come back. They leave for all the right reasons — racing is dumb, cycling is costly, pedaling is dangerous. Some leave for all the wrong reasons, too. My buddy J.C. had found Miss Right through cycling.

“Can you imagine anything better?” he had said. “A girlfriend who loves to bike?”

I didn’t say anything, because I could imagine a lot of things better, like a girlfriend who loves to cook, who earns seven figures, and who loves you to bike while she perfects her home brewing recipe. But I didn’t say anything except “Nope.”

They married and six months later she quit cycling. Then six more months later she told him to quit cycling. Then six more months later he was single again, and back, of course, on his bike.

Some dudes quit for spiritual enlightenment, like The Buddha. Tony used to be one of the most feared racers in SoCal. Then he started growing a big bushy beard, and worse, reading books, long books with hard words. They ruined him, of course, and one day he announced on Facebag that he was “done.” Now he’s a Buddhist adept, spreading love instead of dishing out the pain, but mark my words, he’ll be back. As nice as it is to make the world a better place, it’s even nicer to watch people crumble.

Sometimes when a guy sells his bikes and is “done” you’re kind of glad, but other times it’s a sinking feeling of genuine loss, like when Todd quit coming to the rides, then sold his bike, then vanished from view. Everybody loved Todd. He never had a bad word to say, he was one of the funniest guys alive, and he was always up for a beer. If you had a problem he’d give you the shirt off your back, even if what you really needed was a pair of trousers.

But as a cyclist, he was the guy who made your ride fun. You know how when someone pedals up and everyone kind of moans inwardly, as in “Why’d that buzzkill show up?” Todd was the opposite. Punctual-departure-Nazis would sit around for ten, fifteen minutes, gladly waiting for him even though he was always late and didn’t show up despite blood pacts the night before about “being there no matter what.” Todd was the brightest jewel in the crown of South Bay cycling fun, and then one day he was gone except for the occasional post on Facebag, which always made me sad.

Then yesterday Fireman texted me a photo. “Just finished our ride,” the message said, and next to the words was a picture of him and Todd draining a fermented recovery drink. There was a huge smile on Todd’s face, and I bet it was mostly from being back on his bike.

But his smile wasn’t nearly as big as mine.

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SLO-est of them all

November 18, 2014 § 17 Comments

As we settled into our lawn chairs around the blazing fire, one of our guests from the previous night appeared. She was not in Hecklebitch’s contingent, and so we welcomed her. After a couple of beers, she started to cry. “You can’t believe what Cora’s had to go through,” she said.

We sipped on our beer. She sobbed some more. Then T-Dub said, “Uh, who’s Cora?”

“She’s the transgender racer who raced with the women today.”

We looked at each other. “You mean that dude down at your camp site?”

“Cora is not a dude!” said Tammy. “She is a woman!”

We sipped on our beer some more and no one said anything. Three old guys who just finished recovering from a bad race and a worse hangover who are chilling around a campfire after a good dinner usually have a hard time getting it up for a meaty discussion on gender politics. Rob sighed and tried.

“So, what did Cora have to go through?” he asked.

“Some of the other women are complaining about her, claiming that it’s unfair for them to have to race against a man,” said Tammy.

“They kind of have a point,” said Mike, which sent Tammy off onto another crying jag.

“But she’s a woman!” wailed Tammy.

“Is she?” I asked.

“Of course she is! She’s taking all of the treatments!”

This was clearly one of those deals where our desire to slowly get plastered was going to be thwarted by arguing about whether or not Cora was a he or a she. “Tell her to come on over and have a beer with us,” I offered.

“This isn’t about beer!” wailed Tammy some more.

By now it was pitch dark, and it looked like we were in for the night from hell. I’d been mercilessly heckled. I’d finished DFL. I had the slowest lap of the day except for a kid in the 12-year old boys’ race. My new drunk hadn’t completely chased away my old hangover. My legs, neck, and shoulders hurt, along with my internal organs and most of my skin. And now we were stuck with someone who wanted us to argue about something that didn’t really matter to us. We were just guys having a beer.

And then magic happened. Someone said, “Well, we’re dudes racing in the dude division, so I guess you girls will have to work it out yourselves,” and Tammy ran off, sobbing.

After a few moments of silence, people began wandering over to our campfire, and by “people” I mean two beautiful women, and one of them sat next to me. Now, when you are an aged, wrinkly, stinky old dude who hasn’t bathed for two days after a hard race in the dirt, and you’re still wearing the same crusty underwear from Thursday, and you haven’t brushed your teeth, cleaned your ears, or combed the food out of your beard for 48 hours, the last thing in the world you expect is to have two beautiful women join your campfire. Hecklebitch, sure. These two? Nooooooo way.

So we all perked right up and thanked dog that it was too dark for them to see us properly. In addition to bringing themselves, which was gift enough, they also brought beer, good beer, which we swilled right away. As things started getting better and friendlier, the cute blonde next to me reached into her coat pocket and brought out a bottle of Fireball, a delicate mixture of cinnamon, gasoline, sulfuric acid, and whiskey. “Last time I drank this shit, someone got married,” muttered Mike as the sledgehammer started to hit.

Then a couple of guys came up to our fire. “Hey,” said the tall one, “can you give us some firewood?”

We only had a few logs left, perhaps enough to last past midnight, and we’d had to fork out good money and carefully tend our fire all night long. “Fuck no,” I said, “but pull up a chair and you can have a beer.”

“Thanks,” said Tallboy, and they sat down.

This was the mistake of the night. He took a swig of beer and began to brag, but not before telling the lovely brunette that “psychology is crap.” She was training to be one, of course.

When Blondie told him she used musical therapy to work with disturbed children and adults, he informed her that that, too was “crap.” In other words, he knew everything, which was impressive since he was only 21 and a chemical engineering student at Cal Poly there in SLO. He was camping for the weekend with some friends and they had obviously run him out of their campsite due to his incredible talents as an instant buzzkill.

The one thing he hadn’t learned much about in engineering class, though, was ‘cross racing, and in particular about aged, wrinkly ‘cross racers with crusty underwear who had just gotten through a conversation about gender equality, three cases of IPA, most of a bottle of rotgut, and were very focused on talking to pretty women. Within ten minutes he had done the unthinkable: Thanks to him, our women got up and left. Our two other guests left. Mike the cop had wandered off to retrieve his spare wheels from the pit and to keep from busting Tallboy in the face.

A brief pause ensued as Tallboy gathered his breath to tell us more about how much money he had, about how smart he was, and about all of his worldly success. “Son,” I said, “hold that next thought, would you?”

“Sure,” he said. Our voices carried over the entire campground, and people were listening.

“Because I want to tell you that you are the most obnoxious, arrogant little fuck I’ve ever met.”

“I am?”

“Yeah. You come to our campsite. You drink our fuggin’ beer. You insult three old dudes, one of whom’s a cop, the other works for the power company, and the other is a former middleweight boxer. You run off our fuggin’ women. So you know what happens next?”

“What?”

“If you were my son, I’d hang my head in shame and ask you to change your last name. But since you aren’t, someone, probably the ex-boxer there, is probably gonna get up and knock out all your fuggin’ teeth.”

Tallboy stood up, his lower lip quivering. “I don’t like the way this conversation is going,” he said, as he strode off into the darkness.

“We didn’t like the way it started, asshole!” someone shouted after him.

The campground’s silence was broken by the sound of muffled laughter coming from various tables, benches, and tents. After five or ten minutes, people began appearing out of the darkness, laughing and pulling up a chair. Miracle of miracles, our two beauties returned as well.

As the fire died down to its embers and the Fireball whiskey burned down to our entrails, we looked up at the stars and beheld the brilliance of the Milky Way. “This ‘cross racing,” said Mike, “is pretty darned good.”

No one disagreed.

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Take it SLO-er

November 17, 2014 § 7 Comments

It’s been scientifically demonstrated that when a group of strangers assembles around a blazing campfire in the wilderness surrounded by unlimited beer the evening will result in fisticuffs, fucking, a mind bending hangover, or, if you’re super lucky, all three. Mike and I only achieved the hangover part, and we staggered out of the camper the next morning wildly looking for the water bottle and, on the off chance we might find it and kill it, the cat that had spend the night crapping in our mouths.

“Dude,” I said.

“Yeah?”

“No beer for me the rest of the weekend. I feel terrible. It’s gonna take a couple of days to recover from that.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “I’m done drinking, too.”

We glanced over the embankment to see what had become of our campfire teammates, and they were even worse off than we were. You know that slow staggering zombie gait, half bent-over, that people use the morning after a night that ends with no one even looking anymore at the label on the bottle? Their whole campsite looked like it had been occupied by the zombie apocalypse.

The blonde girl who had spent the night shouting at us and complaining that she “couldn’t understand it why no guy would stay with her for more than a year” was trying to get the zombie campers down to the race course because it had dawned on them that in an hour or so they would all be required to engage their hangover muscles in a vicious, relentless pain fest around the worst ‘cross course ever designed by someone who hates bicycles. Then memory fragments of the previous night came trickling back like pus from a freshly lanced infection.

“What time are you racing?” I had asked the blonde girl, who had looked like she was about thirty.

“I fucking hate bike racing,” she snarled.

“Did you notice you were at a bike race with a bunch of bike racers?”

“You don’t look like a bike racer,” she said, staring at my stomach.

“Good point,” I conceded. “So what are you doing here?”

“I’m the team heckler.”

“The what?”

“The team heckler. I’m the best fucking ‘cross heckler in NorCal and my team takes me everywhere to heckle.”

“You do kind of have a loud voice,” I offered, reflecting on her noisy, grating, and jarring manner of speaking.

“Shut up and keep drinking,” she said, so I did.

Thankfully my race didn’t start until noon, and Hecklebitch and the Zombies (I think they’re also a garage punk band) had gone down to do the women’s race. Mike and I ate several plates of dirt to keep the Gatorade down, cleaned our already clean bikes, and rolled down to the course.

Once there we did what everyone at every cyclocross race does; which is to say we began asking people about tire pressure. In ‘cross it’s all about tire pressure, and even though you run the same TP virtually every race, it’s terribly important to talk about it. At the sign-in table, which was a quarter-mile away from the opposite end of the course, we heard a terrible howling sound, like what you would hear if someone were trying to warn someone about a bank robbery, or if their child had been stolen, or if their balls had been sauteed and drained with a hundred safety pin punctures. It was a yammering, screaming, banshee of a yowl, and despite the distance it made our skin crawl.

“Who’s being tortured?” I asked.

The sign-in gal shook her head. “I don’t know, but it’s been going on all morning.”

“We’d better go take a look and kill it.”

“Kill what?” she asked.

“The poor animal that’s caught in the steel trap. That’s the only thing that could howl so miserably.”

Mike and I pinned on our numbers, asked a few more people about tire pressure and ignored their responses, and then did the only other mandatory thing that you have to do at a ‘cross race. It goes like this. “Hey dude,” you say to a bystander, “is the course open for a pre-ride?”

“No. There’s a race going on. The course is now closed.”

“Okay, thanks.” Then you go to a spot where no one is looking and hop onto the course. We did, and our punishment was immediate. The SLO ‘cross course had been laid out by a blind person. Not the usual blind person who does ‘cross races, but the blind person who, before beginning the all-day job of marking the course with with twelve miles of tape, begins the job with the tools of the trade (hammer, PVC pipe, steel spikes, and post-hole digger) as well as twelve cases of light beer.

This means that after about a quarter of the way through the course the blind dude with the hammer is himself hopelessly hammered, and the course becomes a mishmash of what you’d expect to see after several cases of beer in the hot sun: A fog of senselessly twisted barrier tape.

The course had a turn every twenty or thirty feet, which, of all the weaknesses in my ‘cross skill set, and there are about 3,350 of them, played to the weakest weakness of all — my inability to turn a bicycle. As we pre-rode the course, gradually approaching the backside, the banshee screaming increased and sounded more horrible, until we hit the small series of uphill turns that were pleasantly lined with massive gopher holes that ate your front wheel whole and jarred your bones so hard that it felt like your testicles would jounce out of their sack.

I checked my service revolver so that I could quickly shoot the trapped animal until we saw that it wasn’t a trapped animal at all, rather it was Hecklebitch. The noise was deafening. She had built her own heckling bell contraption, two thick pieces of metal that had giant steel cans welded to them. She would clang the cans together and it was so frightening that your first urge was to crap, your second to run away. Accompanied by a howling yell to “Pedal your ass faster!” and “Get at it, goddammit!” it was scary enough.

But what was truly beyond the pale was Hecklebitch’s incredible physical strength. Standing between the lanes on the sharp uphill section of the course, she would run parallel to her riders and scream at them while clanging the crazy cans of hell. Clanging the crazy cans took amazing Amazon strength, but doing that while repeatedly running a 4-minute uphill mile over a vale of gopher-style sinkholes and screaming like a drill sergeant easily made her the fittest person at the event.

To top it off she was dressed in black yoga pants and wearing a huge black floppy hat that obscured everything except her beady, red crazy eyes so that you actually thought hell had opened its gates and let out its worst denizen to suck your blood and eat you for lunch if you didn’t “Pedal faster, goddammit!”

And her teammates did in fact pedal faster; by the look on their faces it was evident that she was the best legal performance enhancer anyone in the race had.

“I’m not surprised she has trouble keeping a guy for more than a year,” said Mike.

“I’m surprised she’s ever kept one for more than a day,” I agreed. “If only because it probably takes her a full day to eat them.”

My race began and I attacked off the back, figuring I would catch everyone on the final lap and pass them in the beer tent. This course was so terrible that my technique of brake-hard-in-the-middle-of-the-turn-while-taking-the-widest-line put me way, way OTB. This was good because it meant I didn’t have to worry about being near any other pesky riders, but it was bad because my conspicuousness brought me to the attention of Hecklebitch.

By now she had been yelling and running and clanging nonstop for hours, and she was worked up into a frothy, sweating rage, making her earlier exhortations look like the peeping of mice. “Pedal your fucking bike you lazy, candy-assed sandbagging sonofabitch!” she cursed as I casually pedaled by combing my hair.

Unfortunately the taping meant I had to go back and forth like in a queue at Disneyland, passing her five or six times before advancing down the course. With each passing her rage mounted, and her teammates, who had finished, joined her in a knot of screaming abusers. They were so amazed at my slowness and apparent lack of effort that they reached new heights in insults and abuse, many of which were inventive and funny to everyone except me.

“Hashtag don’twannasweat!” screamed one.

“Hashtag don’tgetmyglassesdirty!” howled another.

“Hashtag allsmacknosack!” roared Hecklebitch.

As the abuse got more intense I began to fume, until on the third lap as they took their collective breath to heap additional insults on my head, I slipped in “Hashtag whycan’tIkeepaguyformorethanone year, and Hashtag becauseI’mbatshitcrazy.”

That shut up the entire heckling section for one full lap, but their lusty insults had provoked such amusement that a small clot of other hecklers had formed farther up. One guy kept yelling, “It will go faster if you pedal it!” until the final lap he offered up the worst insult ever as I rode by — because it was so sincere. “Quit sandbagging!” he said. Then he said “Hey, dude you’re just warming up, aren’t you? Sorry for all the heckling.”

By then I was moments away from being lapped and getting to beer early.

After the races were done for the day we regrouped at the campsite with T-Dub and Rob only to realize that we’d forgotten about our morning hangover, we’d forgotten our promise to stay sober, and most importantly we’d forgotten to re-provision the beer and wood for the campfire.

We jumped into T-Dub’s minivan. “This is a great bike race car,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, “but it’s not so hot when you’re meeting a chick for the first time who you met on Match.com.”

In SLO we drove around looking for cold beer and toured the city’s main attraction, a couple of walls down a narrow alley that were covered in chewing gum. Apparently people chew their gum and stick it to the wall so in addition to being nasty it is really, really nasty. “Do they have a booger wall here, too?” I asked.

No one answered because we had found the liquor store.

Back at the campsite we ate dinner, stoked the fire, settled into our chairs, and expressed our gratitude that Hecklebitch and the Zombies had gotten butthurt by my hashtag comment. As night closed in, a different group of crazy people began to trickle in, lured by the warmth of the flames and the enticement of free beer.

And shortly thereafter shit got, as they say, real. Very, very real.

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