Curious cyclist inquires about crushed eyewear

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear Wankmeister:

I was pedaling behind you on the Pier Ride yesterday morning when I saw your glasses start to edge up out of your jersey pocket. Little by little they inched up until they fell out; it looked like a couple of pairs of glasses, maybe some regular eyeglasses and a pair of sunglasses? Anyway, when they hit the pavement I totally ran over them. Sorry about that!! I saw you turn around and go back. Hope there was something there to salvage. It’s really a bummer when something like that happens.

Sorrowfully,
Sammy Sodbuster

Dear Sammy:

It was perfect timing, actually. Spy Optic is in the process of making me two new pairs of prescription cycling glasses: the Quantum with clear lenses and the Diablo with dark gray. I didn’t mind at all having a $450 pair of rx Oakleys bite the dust. It’s only money, right? And Oakley is so “Greg LeMond” 80’s, anyway. As of 2012 if you’re not wearing Spy, you’re a dork. As for the other glasses, they were nothing special, just a pair of prescription Throttle Gargoyles. A buddy hooked me up with the frames; all told they probably didn’t cost much over $600. Thanks also for watching them slowly inch out of my jersey pocket. That’s a pretty cool way to kill time on Vista del Mar, the South Bay’s most boring stretch of road! I’m glad you didn’t say anything to disturb me while Padraig and I were discussing strain gauges. I might have missed the part where he explained the equation that transmits the strain gauge reading to the ANT+ receptor. And don’t worry about smashing both pairs of glasses into bits. If you hadn’t destroyed them, someone else would have. Well, anyway, I look forward to seeing you on the next Pier Ride!

Cheerfully,
The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve been training since January to raise my FTP. It was about 265 at the beginning of the year (I weigh 195) and after nine months of intensive, structured workouts I’ve brought it up to about 270. For 2012 I want to increase it even more. I’m kind of a “rouleur” as you can tell from this photo. How many watts do you think I can raise my FTP with a Coggan/Hunter type program and a commitment to serious weight loss?

Wondering,
Wally Whacker

Dear Wally:

About three.

Optimistically,
The Wankmeister

Tour de Hippy Stoners in Cardboard Hats

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had never been to Berkeley before. But I knew I was there when Banker Bob pointed out the stoner in sandals walking by the cafe in nothing but jeans and a cardboard hat with the crown cut out. A few minutes later he came by barefoot. We left before he decided to prance by again, fearing the next article of clothing he might decide to shed. Bob and I go back a long way, to junior high, in fact. We started cycling together in college when I got my Nishiki International and he got his maroon Fuji. Six cogs on the back. No lazy brakes. Very big deal. Last year we got together for a two-day ride in Solvang that included Mt. Figueroa. It was such a blast that we decided to do another ride this year, a Half a Man Tour of sorts.

The majesty of California

I got up at 3:30 on Friday, slammed a nasty sludge-cup of fork-thick coffee, loaded my bike into the car and set off for the untamed northern lands. Iwas so excited to finally get to see the beauty of this great state. As the coffee started to wear off around Bakersfield, I was awakened at the wheel by an overpowering stench of pig shit that roared into the open window as I zoomed by the first in an endless slew of hog farms.

In addition to the punishing reek of concentrated sewage, the air brought hit after hit of hydrogen sulfide, which at high concentrations can lead to brain damage. In 1998, the National Institute of Health reported that nineteen people died as a result of hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure pits. On the plus side, driving alongside several hundred of these stink factories for mile after mile ensures I was wide, wide awake. It almost felt like drafting behind Stinky T., minus brain damage.

Soon enough the sun rose, and I was greeted with the true beauty of California: endless expanses of barren land interspersed with monoculture crops of pistachios, presumably raised to fill the coffers of CBR prize lists. The soil seemed especially fertile for Republicanism, as every mile or so the good earth had sprouted a hate-laced billboard blaming “Boxer, Costa, and Pelosi” for the “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” It felt so much like Perry Country I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t back in Texas.

New School is the New Cool

The first thing I did after Bob and I hopped on our bikes for my maiden pedal around Berkeley Hills was to make fun of his 1984 Colnago. The Iron Nag is rusted through in various, has a carbon fork (?!?), and is one of the sorriest looking bicycles I’ve ever seen anywhere. Nor is Bob a slave to fashion, unless it was fashionable among Deadheads at Manor Downs in ’78. I razzed him for failing to upgrade to the latest and greatest stuff, and paid particular attention to his bright yellow Silca frame pump with the Campy head.

“Dude,” I scolded. “You could at least join the 21st Century for tire repair. These are the bomb!” I flashed my CO2 cartridge. “Change a flat in seconds and not have to look like some pervert fucking his wheel with that frame pump.”

Bob smiled. “Pretty, handy, huh?”

“Fuckin’ amazing. Plus, I put on some new Velox rim tape and a couple of new Conti Hardshells. They’re the best. One flat per decade, dude. Get yourself a new rig, some cartridges, a slick wheelset, and leave those dork blues behind. Trust me, bro.”

The mill of the gods grinds slowly but it grinds exceedingly fine. Except when it grinds quickly. Then it’s even finer.

Now Bob has ridden the Iron Nag a couple billion miles, and a whole bunch of them he’s ridden with me, and he learned long ago that whenever I start talking shit, the Karma Gods listen with particular care. So he wasn’t surprised when I flatted halfway into the ride.

“Is this the decade?” he asked pleasantly.

I ignored the jibe as best I could, which wasn’t very well. “You’re getting ready to see how the pros do it, dude. Quicker than a Texas virgin slaps on a condom.” We pulled over onto the shoulder and I got busy changing the tire. Bob stood in the shade, leaning comfortably against ol’ Rustbucket, watching with interest, and apparently prepared for a leisurely stop.

“That new tire looks pretty tight,” he observed, as I’d practically lost a finger getting the bead off the rim.

“Nah, piece of cake,” I retorted, my hand dripping in blood from the torn nail. I was, however, having flashbacks to yesterday, when Josh at PV Cycles had put on the tires for me. Josh has hands the size of a catcher’s mitt. He has forearms that are larger than my thighs. He has muscles in his wrists, fingers, and palms that could pry the bark off an old-growth redwood. His calluses are the kind they warn you about getting in Sunday school. And even with all that, Josh had broken a sweat getting those tires seated.

Bob raised an eyebrow as I got ready to pop the tire back onto the rim. “You doing that with your bare hands?”

I shrugged. “Nothing to it.” Truer words were never spoken, because after fifteen minutes of mixed martial arts with that fucking tire and wheel, there was still nothing to it. I was bleeding at the nails, had scuffed up my elbows, somehow gotten grease and dirt all over my face, and was panting. The tire now had me in a quarter nelson, and was prepared to deliver a front body scissors and double-leg grapevine just before I tapped out.

Bob leaned the Nag against a tree and ambled over. In a few effortless moves he’d seated the tire perfectly, then used a trick he’d learned from VeloNews to guarantee a no-pinch change. He handed me the wheel to air it up. “Why don’t you show me how the pros do it now?” he offered.

Dom wouldn’t have done it like this on the cobbles in Belgium

I had recovered my cool and slapped the CO2 to the valve, but mistakenly released all the gas without properly sealing the canister. It was my only canister, and now I got to stand next to my tire with frostbite on my bleeding hand. But I wasn’t concerned because I still had my “I sure am one stupid fuck” look to keep me company. “I guess this is the part where the pro doesn’t get his contract renewed,” I said.

Bob handed me the Silca frame pump. “Remember how these work? Just pretend you’re fucking the wheel.”

I aired up the tire to a solid 100 psi and off we went. We were quiet for a few minutes. “Didn’t you ride a steel bike until a year or so ago?” he asked.

“Um, yeah.” I said.

“And use a frame pump?”

“Um, yeah.”

A little more silence. “There’s a place online where you can buy them pretty cheap.” He looked over at me and grinned. But it was the grin of a friend.

South Bay cycle news

September 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Always on the sharp end of the spear: Former South Bay rouleur and current Cat 1 ‘cross racer MMX chalks up another stellar weekend of results. Podium this week and last dominated by Spy Optic.

Putting money where pedals are: Spy Optic is beefing up the profile of cyclocross racing in Socal. Interest and participation are growing. Spy is pushing it ahead, building on the solid base of long-time promoters like Brad House.

I never thought I’d see him pin on a number: Padraig is back in the mix after a nine-year racing hiatus, laying it down…where else?…in this weekend’s ‘cross race. Welcome back, and enjoy your Zinfandel spoils of victory!

Best looking peloton in America: CG looking good in the group, surviving the Pier Ride in style and modeling those sexy legs on FB in shitkicker boots. How good is her taste? Only StageOne, thanks. KH riding fast and looking unbelievably fine in her Helen’s kit…when do we get to see that state champ jersey??? VV and all the pretty gals galore, nice!

Flatback on the Parkway: King Harold leaves everyone choking on his fumes as he dusts the group on Westchester this morning. Whiners say, “Why are you hammering? It’s the OFF-SEASON!” King Harold says, “I didn’t realize you had a pro contract,” and “Aren’t you the same ones who never make the break at Telo?”

It’s not a royal court without the King: Pier Ride feels about 10mph slower when RB isn’t there showing off his Skilz and “Can’t Beat the Meat” bib shorts.

French Toast shakedown: DJ drag races/chases down the lone break into the Marina sprint. That boy goes faster when he’s unfit than most people do with a personal coach.

Get ready to brag about who you train with: KP is fit and in the zone for elite nationals at the Home Depot Velodrome this Friday. He races the team pursuit at 7:00 p.m. with local legend JW, world champion KK, and young matador CB. Show up for some barbecue, beer, and local pride.

Ironfly lays it all on the line: Davy Dawg and Hockey Stick represent the South Bay at elite nationals as well. Look for the Dawg to burn up the boards in the kilo. However well he does, no one will have more fun at nats than Hockey Stick. Guaranteed.

Goofball alert: Every Saturday the cream of the South Bay crop has been rolling out PCH to the Rock at Point Mugu in search of MT4 fitness and general fun. 100-plus miles, steady pace, and the occasional Freddy who has to be disciplined. 10/1 at 6:00 a.m. from the center of the known universe, a/k/a MBSB. Knoll, DP, Iron Mike, and one or two others do the honors.

Trading mush for asphalt: Local hammerhead, star shaper, first-rate guitarist, and missing tooth surfer boy showed up for the Pier Ride this morning. Everyone loves Raymond, but everyone really loves Danc, furry legs and all.

Go ’til you blow: Gooseman lit it up on the Parkway for 3 minutes at 30mph trying to haul in King Harold and his erstwhile breakaway partner. The explosion was seen as far away as Riverside. That boy never met a futile effort he didn’t like!

Chief returns to happy hunting grounds: JK is back from his Boys on the Loose in Utah walkabout, where participants stagger through the sagebrush on peyote for four days until they see a vision, after which they receive their name. “Two Dogs Fucking While the Trash Blows By” was deemed unfit for a man of his stature, so we’re keeping “The Chief” until next year.

MT4 Day Three: Dropping your tranny

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

The service people at DCH Torrance Toyota are so helpful. My wife brought in our cherry 2002 Camry for a check-up, which only has 188,000 miles on it, a few cubic yards of rust and a dent or two. A nice Japanese lady bringing an old car to the dealer to “see if everything is okay” is like bringing a suitcase of cash to an Orange County loan mod company and asking if they can “get your home loan modified.”

A couple of hours after she dropped it off, we got the call, replete with the serious, official voice of someone calling to tell you of a death in the family.

“Hello, ma’am. I’ve got some bad news about your Camry. What with all that high mileage, your transmission seals have given out. It’s leaking fluid and we’re going to have to replace them. Unfortunately that means we’ll have to pull out the entire transmission.”

My wife was frightened; the only seals she’d ever seen were at the zoo. How had they gotten into our transmission? I had more practical concerns. We had just sold our youngest son’s French horn and laptop computer to pay for my new set of Zipp 404’s, so money was tight. “What’s that going to cost?” she asked.

“You’re looking at about $1,800, ma’am.”

The phone was on speaker and she saw the color drain out of my face as I thought about not being able to get the 2012 Ironfly kit and special-edition StageOne bib shorts with matching jersey. “Can we call you back?” she said.

That tranny ain’t broken, sir, but the car sure is a P.O.S.

Next day I was on the phone with Luis, who runs Auto Express, just behind the carwash on Hawthorne and Spencer. “Sure, I can take a look,” he said. “Replacing the seal will run you about $900.” That afternoon he phoned back. “Well, sir, I’ve looked it over, top to bottom, and your transmission is fine. There’s no leak, the fluid level is full, and the transmission is functioning perfectly. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to charge you $90 for the work. But the car, you know, it’s not in the greatest shape.”

I shelled out that $90 so quickly that it gave me paper cuts, and shook his hand as I trembled for joy. I could now tell my wife that he’d replaced the seals, then pocket the car repair money buy the kits, and still have money left over for important cycling goods. It occurred to me that the contrast between Luis and DCH couldn’t be more stark: He worked on Sunday. They were closed. He charged half. They charged double. He supported his business through honesty. Their business model was based on something less noble. About that time I noticed that the a.c. was no longer working.

Your transmission is fine, but the rest of you is not

Day 3 of MT4 is different things to different mantourists. For those who have logged the miles and put in their saddle time, it’s the first day the legs start off a bit heavy. For those who just did the minimum, the legs haven’t recovered from Day 2, and it’s going to be a tough slog. For those whose first hard ride of the year was two days before, the morning of Day 3 brings the nasty, grim, sickening realization that you’re stuck in a hinterland hundreds of miles from home, you’re sore, angry, filled with self-pity and loathing the prospect of looking at another man’s fat, sweaty ass for the next three days.

Day 3 leaves Big Sur Inn straight up a long climb that begins rather hard and quickly becomes intensely painful. Sta-Puf hits the bottom of the gradient and after the first 500 feet begins to sweat a strange, unhealthy looking substance resembling mucous, blood, urine, and beer. Everyone sprints by Sta-Puf so that they don’t get hit by the slime when he explodes. Adding to the humiliation, MT4’s 75 year-old human prune dances atop the pedals, easily outdistancing those who are forty years younger and a hundred times more hung over.

Cheeseburgers, fries, and collapse at Ragged Point

After cresting the first climb, the road rolls up and down along the coast for 55 miles. With steep pitches, short drops, and one long, leg-breaking ascent before the rest stop at Ragged Point, this section of MT4 is perhaps the toughest. So far. The only food items at the rest area are burgers and lard, and everyone is so tired and famished that they bolt first and cramp later.

The dismal group remounts, cold and stiff, and the real slog begins. The problem, people start to realize, isn’t the transmission, it’s the overall vehicle, which is shot. For another forty miles the mantourists push into the wind, sour, tired, cranky, angry at themselves for signing up for the punishment, and angrier at their wives for letting them. By the time the thoroughly beaten contingent rolls into Morro Bay, no one cares that it’s beautiful beyond words. No one cares that some poor bastard had to sit on the front and drag their sorry asses all the way in. No one cares about anything except the heated iron pole that fees like it’s been shoved up their ass, the burning creaks in the knees, the incipient Shermer’s neck, and the horrible deprivation of having to spend seven hours in the saddle without beer. They are so tired they’ve even stopped telling lies about their ex-girlfriends.

“Man Tour” doesn’t mean you can’t whine like a spoiled brat

The filthy, salt-stained, stinking, bitching, whining, dessicated, exhausted mantourists reach Morro Bay in a foul mood indeed, but the beer deprivation part they remedy immediately. Miraculously, the mood improves. Sta-Puf’s ooze turns to ordinary blood. Gonzo’s head sprouts giant redwoods again. Ol’ Prune tells us what it was like as a boy growing up in South Africa, when he was so poor that he had to milk stray dogs to feed his family. By the fifth case of Milwaukee’s Best, the worst of the day is forgotten, and the living hell that will be Day 4 has been put off for what seems like eternity.

Angry local cyclist challenges peloton authoritarianism

September 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

I recent went on a SaturdayRide to the Rock you were the “ride leader.” Know what? You suck, asshole! Who fucking died and made you dictater? You think you own the road well FUCK YOU! And fuck your stupid rules and your stupid fucking two-by-two bullshit. You act like some superbike hero I never saw your fucking picture on Velonews jerkoff! I looked you up on USA cycling and you’re a cat 4 Masters LOSER!! You’ve never even won a RACE!! My granny’s dick could be a cat 4, you LOSER! YOU SUCK!! PLus you cant ride straight and you look like a sex change that somebody confused with hemmeroid implant operation. FUCK YOU! YOU SUCK! Andif I ever see your fucking ass on the road and i’m in my car I will run your fucking ass over until you are dead 100 pursent. If Im in a race against you i will kill you you fucknut. So fuck you, fuckhead.

Fuck you again,
Jizua Jerginson

Dear Jerkingson (may I call you Jizz?):

I’m sorry to hear that you’re a triathlete. However, you can obtain immediate relief from either of these two sites: HelpingTriathletes and OneRoundSolutions.com.

Helpfully,
The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I really love your blog. You are the coolest. Plus, you are really funny and clever and smart. I’ve checked you out with the South Bay crowd and everyone thinks you’re totally awesome. This one rider was telling me about how you’re just, like, the best. I named my dog after you, can you believe that? “Wankmeister” is the coolest name for a Rottie! Sounds so tough and German, like he’s from Germany! Anyway, I’ve read all your stuff about MT4 and was just wondering, like, how I could do it? It seems really cool! And the way you write about it is uber-funny! I’m pretty sure I could “hang” with the “big boys,” you know? Anyway, you’re the best, Wankmeister!

Jus’ wonderin’,
Tommy Tippler

Dear Tommy:

Thanks for the kind words. You obviously have no taste and are a moron and a brown-noser. But that’s okay. There’s a place for tasteless, brown-nosing morons, too, even though it’s usually prison or century rides that go through Long Beach. As for your ill-disguised attempt to get a coveted MT4 invite, all I can say is–and I mean this not personally, and with no intent to offend–go fuck yourself. Just kidding. Sort of. But not really. Still, it’s a good question, and I get hundreds of emails a day asking that very question. So here’s “the secret”: 1) Don’t be a dork. 2) Buy an IF kit. 3) Lie in bed at night dreaming about getting an MT invite. 4) Die bitter and disappointed.

Jus’ sayin’,
The Wankmeister

MT4 Day Two: The big country of the south

September 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

When large numbers of overly aggressive, underly fit old farts get together to compete, strange things happen. At yesterday’s Texas-UCLA beatdown, for example, we showed up to our seats with two large chicken burritos apiece, a plastic tub filled with Indian curry, four containers of fries, extra-large cups of lemonade, a blanket apiece (not necessary in the 90-degree heat), and an assortment of satchels, backpacks, and oversized handbags. We fit barely into the tiny Rose Bowl seats, kind of like that extra dollop on the taco that makes all the grease and beef and juice dribble out the end when you bite into it. The season ticketholder (50-yard line, Row 10) sitting in front of us watched our arrival in horror and disgust. These were literally the best seats in the house, and there was more orange than blue in the surrounding seats.

“I didn’t get season tickets to be surrounded by Texans!” she snapped. This lady, who I’ll call Nasty Bitch from Hell with a Sorry Fucking Attitude, or just “Nasbitch” for short, was in her late fifties and obviously trying to recapture her glory sorority days when she was the floor whore at her house as a UCLA undergrad.

Look before you leap

Unfortunately for the ex-dorm queen, we attended the game with my mom, who grew up in a small Texas town, is in her 70’s and takes no shit from anyone, especially rude women with an attitude.

“We’ll do our best not to bother you, honey,” Mom said in her sweetest Texas twang.

“You’re already bothering me!” Nasbitch said. “Where did you get your tickets from, anyway? Stubhub? And you’ve got too much stuff!”

“Now don’t you mind us, honey,” Mom said. “We’re just going to be quiet as church mice. Where did you get that pretty bracelet, honey? That is so cute.”

“I didn’t get it at Wal-Mart,” Nasbitch snarled as she turned back for kickoff.

Mom then accidentally kicked what was left of the curry off the little ledge and it spilled into Nasbitch’s very cute $1,500 Vuitton bag that she had tucked under her seat. “Oh goodness me, honey, look what I did! I’m so sorry!” Nasbitch went berserk just as the Texas contingent began to roar at the first interception of the game. “Oh honey, look! Everyone’s cheering!”

“Yeah, mom. Texas just got a touchdown!”

“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked in a stage whisper.

“It’s awesome, mom. It means we scored points and are going to beat the crap out of UCLA.”

“Don’t talk ugly. And it’s not their fault that they can’t play football very well. They are from California, after all.”

For the next two quarters I roared “Hook ‘em!” and “Stuff him like a cheap taco!” and “Good job, UCLA Ruins!” and “Touchdown!” and “Fumble!” and “Another Texas beatdown!” and “Chokers!” and “Score!” and “Barbecue the bastards!” and “Touchdown!” and “UCLA sucks!” until Nasbitch picked up her stuff and left.

Santa Cruz to Big Sur: rum, sodomy, and the lash

Day Two of MT4 is kind of like that football game…one long-ass, miserable, never-ending beatdown.

“Big Sur” gets its name from the region’s original Spanish appellation, “El país grande del sur,” which can be roughly translated into English as “The great southerly land where Chief realizes he should have gotten in more MT4 training miles.”

In addition to stunning natural landscapes, Big Sur boasts endemic plants such as wild orchid, and a small population of California condors. The native Americans of Big Sur were largely exterminated by the Spanish, who through through slavery, pestilence, rapine, torture, and murder taught the heathens the gospel and virtues of Christ.

Day 2 of MT4 relives the enslavement by the early conquistadores, as the gang leaders flay the weak, sick, and frail, driving them mercilessly from Santa Cruz to Monterrey with a hail of oaths and strokes of the cat o’ nine tails. Driven like hogs to the slaughterhouse, the tour goes through one of the most beautiful places on earth–Carmel, California. But the bloodied and weary Roman galley slaves never see it, as their sweat-filled eyes are glued to the wheel in front, suffering like dogs with each stroke of the lash that goads them on to their destination.

Mixing the waters of the earth

Weary, beaten down, and ready to quit many hours ago, the sinners shackled to the train of pain roll onto Bixby Bridge, one of the great iconic structures in California. The road-weary wankers dismount stupidly and fumble for their shrunken wrinkly, sometimes for minutes, as they hurry to pee into the Pacific Ocean before the train thunders off again.

Woe unto the stragglers who fail to land their plank in the Roman galley before the vessel of woe sets sail! The next ten miles are uphill, rolling, and windy beyond belief. What was once the misery of being beaten and thrashed by heartless taskmasters has become something even worse: hanging onto the end of the taut rubber band, wondering when it’s going to snap and leave the broken oarsmen stranded on their own, battering helplessly for mile after mile into the teeth of the ferocious coastal gale. Just as things seem like they can’t get any worse, they do! A series of hard accelerations splits the small group that has launched off the front, and the New Mexican Fireman drives a stake through the skulls of the hangers-on, flying home alone to the sprint finish in Big Sur itself.

Beer, medicinal herbs, slabs of steak, more beer, potatoes slathered in butter, and more beer will presage an evening spent howling and crying at the massive leg cramps that twist the downtrodden mantourists into new yoga postures of pain. MT4 Day Two: in the books.

MT4 Day One: Blood on the saddle

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Day One of Man Tour goes from San Jose to Santa Cruz. It is an epic day for some, a rude awakening for others, and leg-breaking batterfest for all. Day One of Man Tour is rife with tales of glory and preludes to crushing defeat. Last year, Pretty Boy spanked all comers on the climb out of the state park, proving that a summer spent training in the French Alps and a kit change every time he got sweaty could overcome three dozen elderly slackers on stone cold legs and tummies filled with barbecue roast beef.

Day One saw Gonzo’s chain snap at the bottom of the first climb. It saw the entire peloton come within inches (a very few inches, actually) of getting arrested in Cupertino when we stopped to gang-piss in the shrubbery along a major thoroughfare. Day One saw certain mantourists dismount on the climb and walk. Others were rumored to have hitched a ride with the sag. Day One in years past has seen the likes of Knoll set a blistering pace for two days that no one could match, only to crack and crater on Day Three such that he was bundled into the follow car and unable to complete the Tour. Mostly, though, the significance of Day One is discovered on Day Two.

Those who have prepared properly will finish up with the 6000+ feet of climbing, 80-mile day with a big meal. They will stroll through quaint and scenic downtown Santa Cruz, carefully stepping around the spirited youth who line the sidewalks smoking meth, shooting heroin, and puffing away at the local pot crop. After the meal, they will settle in for a long, refreshing sleep. They will wake up the next morning and enjoy a modest breakfast of eggs, bacon, oatmeal, toast, jam, butter, biscuits, wagonwheel gravy, link sausage, flapjacks, maple syrup, more butter, a large fruit bowl, cereal, and two tankards of pitch black, triple-bitter coffee laced with a cup of sugar and heavy whipping cream. Once on the bike, they’ll note some residual poison in their legs which flushes out by mile 10, and, ant-like, they will happily soldier along the flat-to-rolling terrain of Day Two. Life is good. The road is open. It’s a beautiful place to be, and no one’s telling you to lift the toilet seat or put down the lid.

My body’s a temple, and I pillage it regularly

Not so pleasant is Day Two for the lazy grasshoppers who fiddled away the summer. Those whose MT training consisted mostly of cheeseburgers and beer find Day Two to be a whole old day. Even though it’s much flatter and rather scenic, Day Two to these recalcitrant grasshoppers feels almost exactly like Day One, only worse. There’s no euphoria at rolling out of San Jose Intergalactic Airport hundreds of miles from responsibility with fresh legs, a happy heart, and the silly smugness that comes from wearing the same outfit as everyone else. There’s no wonder and awe at the majesty of this great state. There’s no spryness or spring in the legs. Rather, from the moment they’re awakened by their partner’s groaning snores at 2:00 a.m., they have the sickening realization that the deep-bone aches, the cramping calves, the stiff neck, and the painfully sore back are only going to get worse. Much, much worse.

As the grasshoppers pedal out of Santa Cruz, the first ten miles feel okay, not nearly as bad as the night presaged. By mile thirty, they’re ready to call it a day. By mile fifty, the whole thing, which they knew deep down was a bad idea, has become a poster child for what happens when bad judgment mates with fantasy and sport. By mile sixty, the grasshoppers have gone from miserable to angry. By mile eighty, they’re whimpering. When the group rolls into Big Sur, the grasshoppers are fused into a permanent hunch over their bikes and have to be pried off with sticks, blows to the head, and open bottles of cheap beer wafted under their noses.

Day One, then, sets the tone for the rest of the tour, a kind of rectal exam that tells the doctor whether or not you’ll need a colonoscopy or whether you’ll get to put your shorts back on and go home with a clean bill of health. You’ll never feel better than you feel on Day One, but you can assuredly feel a hell of a lot worse.

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