The halcyon days of our youth

March 31, 2012 § 4 Comments

I met this dude on the bike a few days ago and he already knew who I was, which was super flattering, and he started asking me how it was I had had such an extraordinarily successful career as a bike racer. “Is it just all genetics?” he asked.

“Far from it, sonny,” I told him. “I was fortunate to receive physical training from a very early age that later equipped me for my career as a cyclist, and to engage in activities that developed the athleticism and competitive fortitude of a successful cyclist, skills that were molded in the hot crucible of the variety of sports I participated in as a kid growing up in Texas.”

You see, when I was a boy we didn’t have video games, cable, or daytime television programming, so we’d often get to school early, and stay after the bell rang to play with our friends. It was there on the playground that we learned the meaning of “friendship,” i.e. a temporary relationship in which the more powerful one exploits the weaker one while the weaker one seeks an even weaker one who he can exploit.

Back in those days, this constant downward cascade of exploitation and abuse found its outlet among young boys in a number of heartwarming and fun playground games, games typically founded on the most bestial sort of violence imaginable. The apogee of playground fun times was always “Kill the Man with the Ball.” In other, less politically correct jurisdictions, it was often referred to as “Smear the Queer.”

Cycling training: learning to get ahead of the field and stay there at all costs

It’s hard to explain to my kids why it was that I would wake up early to go and play Kill the Man with the Ball. First off, they don’t really get the “wake up early” part.

“But how do you play the game?” they ask.

“Well, someone has a ball, see? Like a kickball. And they hurl it as far away as they can, and everyone chases it.”

“That sounds stupid.”

“Oh, it’s just getting started. The first one who gets to the ball picks it up and then runs with it.”

“Okay, so you’re playing rugby without any rules. Big deal.”

“And then the pack overtakes whoever has the ball and beats the shit out of him.”

“What?”

“Yes. The pile of ten or fifteen boys fall on top of the ball carrier and kick, punch, slap, gouge, twist his balls and smear his face into the dirt, hopefully until he cries.”

“That’s awful!”

“Yes, but they have to stop as soon as he lets go of the ball.”

“Well what idiot wouldn’t do that? I mean, can’t you just drop the ball before they catch you?”

“Of course. But one ever does.”

“Why not? That’s suicide!”

“Exactly. The point is to hold onto the ball as long as possible, sustaining as many punches, kicks, gouges, and head smashes as you can.”

“Then what?”

“Then the ball finally squirts loose and someone else picks it up and runs off with it. Usually the ball carriers are little skinny kids who run fast and are the easiest to beat up, so when the herd catches them it’s always out of breath and angry at having to chase so hard and makes the pounding especially vicious and satisfying.”

“So the game is just a whale-fest on the weakest kids?”

“Pretty much.”

“So why do they play? What a stupid game.”

“They play because it’s fun. There’s nothing in the world as terrifying as picking up that ball and being chased by fifteen of your best friends, knowing that you’re only a few steps from the worst pummeling of your life. Which is inevitable.”

“Friends? Those people aren’t your friends. They hate you!”

“Exactly. And for those few moments that you have the ball and are ahead of the mob, you experience omnipotence. You control everything in the universe. All the good in the world, and all the evil, is at your heels. You are perfectly free. Of course you’re also panting from terror, with your eyes rolled back in your head and your tongue lolling out like a fox about to be overtaken by the hounds. But that’s part of the fun.”

“So how does the game end? When all the skinny kids are dead?”

“Kind of. Finally, after the fleetest and weakest have had the living snot beaten out of them, the ball gets picked up by Igor.”

“Igor?”

“Yes. Igor. He’s the kid who’s flunked a couple of grades, has a mustache and hair on his balls, is about fifty pounds bigger than everyone else and just under six feet tall.”

“So all the weak kids band together and beat up the big guy?”

“Hmmm. No. Not really. Igor picks up the ball and then stops running as he turns to face the running mob. The mob then really slows down.”

“They do?”

“Sure. Because they know what’s coming.”

“What’s coming?”

“Igor’s going to saunter towards them and beat the shit out of the entire third grade class. He will bash each kid and knock them all senseless. Then, once they’re all bloodied and bruised, Igor rolls the ball off a few feet.”

“And it starts all over again?”

“No. The kids migrate over to the slab and start a game of foursquare. They don’t play Kill the Man again until recess.”

Cycling training: speedy reaction times that teach you to anticipate and respond to unexpected attacks from the field

It wasn’t all about terrific violence and ferocious beatings just on the playground, though. From spring to early summer we played baseball, an organized sport where “organized” means “all the strong people on one side” and “sport” means “beat the shit out of the weak ones.”

I was on the Angels. Coach Widowski was a chain smoking, beer swilling Walter Matthau without the profanity. My role on the team was to sit patiently for seven or eight innings until the game was either out of reach or decisively won. Then, and only then, would assistant Coach Crosby pull his son Blaine out of right field and allow me to go stand around for a while amidst the dandelions, so far from the action that only a miracle would involve me in a play.

One season, either in third or fourth grade, a karate craze went through the elementary school. All of the kids who were already the best basketball, football, and baseball players signed up for karate lessons so that they could augment their already formidable ass-whipping skills with moves like David Carradine’s in “Kung Fu.”

At the beginning of baseball season that year I walked up to the group of kids who were going to be on the Angels again this year. My buddies and friends, each and every one. “Hi, guys,” I said.

One of them, a kid named David, unleashed a series of kicks, punches, and blows upon my chest and head, collapsing me in the dirt before I even knew what had happened. As I lay there on the ground staring up, they all kept talking as if nothing had happened, which, I suppose, hadn’t. To them.

The rest of the season I became an expert in kung fu kick and punch avoidance. With no formal training whatsoever I developed reaction times, speed, and reflexive defensive moves that you would have thought were born out of years of martial arts training, or perhaps a sixth sense. I also twitched a lot when I slept.

Cycling training: risking life and limb with crazy suicide moves to frighten and intimidate the pack, or “Calling Dr. Love”

By junior high school I had developed all the core qualities of a bike racer, but there was something missing…a willingness to take the worst risks imaginable, to throw down with little chance of success, and to meet the hardest part of the race with a fierce abandon, stacking pain and danger atop the already towering mountain of agony and risk.

Enter Robh Ruppel.

Through our 7th Grade English class with Miss Recently Divorced Sarah Crippen of the Platinum Coiffe and the Heaving Boobs to Die For, Robh and I became friends. He was on the swim team, and I was on the smoking dope while waiting for the bus team. One day in 1978 that I still remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, he said “Come over to my house. You gotta hear a couple of my records.”

His bedroom was a world of Spider Man comics, artwork, and colorful weirdness that amazed me. I’d left comics behind in elementary school due to dad’s frequent admonitions that “Comics are crap,” and “Comics rot your brain,” and “TV rots your brain,” and “Read books,” admonitions which finally overpowered the sugar-like addiction that Marvel and DC once had on my childish mind.

Robh had no such prejudices, and seemed perfectly content with a brain that was rotted through and through with puerile comics of every kind. In fact, at age fourteen he seemed to have never read anything but comics.

“These guys,” he said, handing me a record, “Fucking rock.” It was a Kiss album. At first I didn’t even realize it was a record, having grown up with my parents’ living room collection of the Beatles, Woodie Guthrie, Leadbelly, Janis, and (yes…yes…) Buffy Saint-Marie. Records had people on them. These people were cartoon characters.

“Listen to this shit,” he said, putting on “Rock and Roll All Night,” and following it up with “Calling Dr. Love,” and finishing with “Love Gun.”

“Wow,” I said, thinking that it mostly sounded like three chords all played at the wrong time between shrieks, but not having the heart to say anything. None of it held a candle to “Red Cross Blues” or “You Can’t Lose Me, Cholly.”

“Yeah, these guys totally rock. But you know what’s even cooler? They breathe fire. Check this shit out.” He pulled out a magazine that had numerous concert shots of Gene Simmons blasting fire out of his mouth. “Doesn’t get any cooler than that. Come on. Let’s go do it.”

Crazy rock music was something that I could take or leave. But breathing fire? That meant inflammables, and maybe explosives, too. Where did I sign?

It turned out that Robh’s lawnmower gas can was empty, so we pedaled over to my house on Braeburn. As we rode, he explained it all to me. “See, I practice during swim team. You fill your mouth with water and you practice blowing a perfectly fine stream of liquid, almost vaporized like something spraying from a little perfume squirter thing.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You don’t want to try it with gasoline right away, first you gotta practice with water until you get the spray part just right. ‘Cuz if you fuck up, the gasoline ignites inside your mouth and blows your fucking face off or just burns up your head and brains from the inside out.”

“Cool!”

At my house we checked to make sure no one was home, got the gas can and went into the back yard with my cigarette lighter. Cool as cool he filled his mouth with gasoline, held the lighter as far from his mouth as he could, and shot out the spray into the flickering flame.

What followed was as awesome as anything I’ve ever seen in my life, including my first porn flick at the Academy Theater down by Rice University when I was 17, which, frankly, was pretty awesome. A fireball erupted a foot or so from his lips and turned into a shooting flame of incendiary light and heat. I watched the fire trail dangling out in front of his lips, trying but never quite managing to trace its way back to his face, which would have been instantly burned off of his skull.

He switched off the lighter and the flame went out. “Cool, huh?” he grinned.

I spent the rest of the summer practicing at the swimming pool in the morning, and blowing gasoline flames from my mouth in the afternoon. Although my face never caught fire, I went through so many cans of gasoline that I started to get these gnarly blisters on the inside of my cheeks, along my tongue, and even down my throat, as I’d occasionally swallow a sip or two over the course of a session.

The blisters made eating really painful, and they reacted like electric jolts with orange juice or picante sauce or salt but the brief agony was worth it for the fun and thrill of, quite literally, breathing fire.

So there you have it: staying at the head of the field, anticipating attacks, and breathing fire. Don’t fucking even think about racing your bike without it.

Off the grid

March 29, 2012 § 18 Comments

I used to be off the grid, you know, no speedometer or HRM and certainly no power meter, just riding in a fog on a steel bike pounding like an idiot until I couldn’t pound anymore and then slacking off until I could hear myself pant and then whaling away again at the pedals until I was gagging and crosseyed and had my face covered in the sheetsmear of snot and spit and then back it off until my eyes could focus again and then just pound and flail away to a fare-the-well. The thing about this methodology is that, often times, after a while there would only be one or two, or sometimes even no idiots left.

Other times, though, I’d just crack, fade, and watch the peloton whoosh away.

So I figured that I needed to take advantage of modern training methods, and along with a super pro doping regimen of corticosteroids, masking agents, blood boosters and coke and amphetamines and shit I would get a speedometer and a Garmin and a power meter and a copy of TrainingPeaks and then I’d read a bunch more shit and analyze my numbers and track my FTP and learn about my power-to-weight ratio and understand how many matches I could burn in a race and then periodize the whole shebang and, along with the drugs and the new carbon bike and the carbon wheels and the computer technology I would be bad ass, just like I imagined I used to be back in the day, when in fact I wasn’t really bad ass at all, and was pretty much just half-bad ass, or really mostly nice and obedient ass.

Problem is, I couldn’t afford the drugs or understand how to use them without killing myself or growing a third eye, and even the new bike and wheels took a one-year no-interest payment plan from Specialized, and by the time I’d added the power meter I was flat fucking broke-er than I’d ever been before and was having to seriously consider starting the year with something less than $900 in new kits designed by Joe Yule and StageOne.

Other problem was that after close to three years of data and power analysis, I still sucked. The numbers didn’t lie, and although they’d occasionally whisper sweet nothings in my ear (“Today’s 20-min power was the best in six months, you powerful cycling stud and overall sexy dog!”), those occasional sweet nothings were invariably drowned out by the raucous jeering of race day results: “YOU–YES, YOU!!–SUCK! Go home now! You’ve never been any good and you never will be!”

Strava to the rescue

Somewhere along the way I discovered Strava, which was kind of an antidote to race day suckage in that I could always go create a special segment that went from, say, from the garage’s electronic gate that no one can get behind without a buzzer, to the entrance by the apartment tennis courts, and then I could own the shit out of that segment. KOM all fucking day, poseurs. Eat my bytes.

That brief bit of consolation turned to gall and wormwood when GregBot sniffed out my KOM’s and one by one took them all away, often teaming up with Wankers Deluxe like Douggie and Fireman. And because GregBot has a Ph.D. in psychology he was even able to reprogram the garage’s electronic gate. The one segment I was sure I’d own until doomsday is now his. You can look it up if you don’t believe me: Lowridge Apartments Garage Gate to Tennis Courts, RPV, California. Eleven seconds. KOM: GregBot.

The final straw, though, was sixteen days ago. I’d forgotten my Garmin for the first time ever. It was the morning of the New Pier Ride, and without my computer I was lost. How many rpm’s was I doing? How close was I to my threshold? How fast was I going? What time was it? How many kilojoules had I expended? What was the current lap time, lap power, three-second power, and total elapsed time? What the fuck was I supposed to do?

As we hit Pershing I fell into the Old Way. The Way before power meters, before carbon wheelsets, before plastic bike frames, before brake lever shifters, before calculations and analysis and review and segments and training regimens and all that other shit.

The Old Way of Hammer

According to the Old Way of Hammer, one simply hammers without regard to anything other than how long one can continue hammering. The only limiter to the Old Way of Hammer is pain. You are not slowed down by wind, power, heart rate, spoke count, lack of aero equipment, hills, dirt, rain, gear ratios, strategy, distance, size or quality of field, red blood cells, glycogen, oxygen, water, time or space. You are only slowed by pain.

As I fell into the Old Way things felt suddenly better. It no longer mattered how many watts I wasn’t producing, because ultimately I would run out of oxygen, my legs would seize up, and I would spin off to the side like a jettisoned rocket booster. It no longer mattered how fast I was going because, until someone came by, I was going faster than everyone else. It no longer mattered how badly it hurt, because once I could no longer tolerate the pain I would stop, and then the pain would go away, and I could hammer again.

Many years ago my granny made me an Afghan blanket that says in the bottom left-hand corner in her neatly embroidered hand, “1974, For Seth With Love.”

Every time I pull that blanket over my knees, curling up to write nasty political diatribes to strangers on FB I feel all cozy and warm, from the soft texture of the wool yarn but also from the comfort of that familiar blanket. That’s how I felt rolling up Pershing in the Old Way, wrapped in a warm, familiar, sweat-soaked, snot-covered, heaving, choking blanket of pain. Welcome back, Kotter.

Moderation is a sign of instability

No matter the side of the fence you’re on, whether you’re Beachbody or ViSalus, Amway or HerbaLife, Ambulance Chaser or Insurance Whore, you’d better be all in. People who try to find the best out of various alternatives end up as appealing as a rum-soaked Christmas fruitcake with fifteen different kinds of dried fruit. Like Jesus? Spread the fucking word and don’t take “Sorry, I’m Jewish,” for an answer. Think Ron Paul is the answer to our problems? Tell the world, adorn your ass with his bumper stickers, and don’t be deterred by the fact that he’s a crazy, right-wing, mysogynistic, racist whackdoodle. As Mark Bixby said, “Go big or go home.”

So when I realized that the Old Way was really the best way for me, I sent TrainingPeaks to the recycle bin, then stripped off all the data measuring devices from my Specialized Scratch and retired them. PowerTap hub and Zipp 404’s to Ebay. Garmin to The Box Where Used Bike Parts Go To Die.

And the more I thought about it, the happier I became, which was almost reason to put them all back on again. The numbers never really told me anything anyway, at least nothing I could use. On the other hand, they constantly reminded me of how hopelessly out of reach true ability on the bike would always be. Cycling, the ultimate sport of fantasy, where everyone can be a winner if he just ignores all the people around him, had become like golf: cold, hard, numerical, unwinnable, and impregnable to the prodding penis of fantasy.

You know how no doctor has ever said, “Well, Joe, you should take up golf in order to get a handle on this high blood pressure”? That’s how biking had gradually begun to feel. It was like golf without Tiger’s tawdry tabloid stories, which frankly were the only thing that ever made golf seem remotely like an activity that might appeal to me.

Best of all, this newfound love of the oldfound way has allowed me to do the one thing that makes the entire cycling endeavor worthwhile: buy new stuff. Without the PowerTap Zipps I needed a new set of wheels, and it just so happened that the bike shop had a brand new pair of Mavic Open Pro 32-hole clinchers built up on–gasp, sweat, palpitate, throb, swoon–Chris King hubs. My very first day going commando on the new wheels in the Old Way, I got that rarest of rewards, an NPR vee thanks to a hard effort and an auspiciously timed red stoplight.

This weekend is the Torrance crit. I’ll be off the grid and, after a thorough Old Way flail, likely off the back. But I be listening to some liquid crystal display tell me how badly I suck. I’ll be listening to that mellifluous, deluded inner voice telling me I just won the Tour.

Cycling advocacy: building a better tomorrow TODAY

March 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

I rarely read VeloNews online because it is such a worthless piece of shit. Plus, they fired the only people who know how to write. Plus plus, they put little bios after each writer saying things like “Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth on…” Cut his journalistic teeth? What, is he a tiger cub?

And then they get these li’l wet behind the ears pups like Nick Legan who, we learn, “jumped into wrenching straight from college” after studying French and journalism at the University of Indiana. They make it sound like he joined the Marines instead of being hunched over some greasy bike stand for minimum wage listening to a rich douchebag customer with a $12,000 bike drone on about alloy spoke nipples.

Why can’t they just say, “Facing unemployment, huge student loans, and no demand for French speakers in Indiana, he took whatever job he could get”?

Whatever.

Occasionally, though, someone posts a link to a VN story and I read it, always expecting the worst, and never being disappointed. Until today. VN has come up with a checklist for how to be a responsible road cyclist. It is flat fucking awesome. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety, with a few little additions of my own to grout in the cracks.

1. Be courteous and share the road. Being courteous gains respect and helps make the roads safer for all cyclists.

–Wankmeister adds: Be sure to smile and wave at the crazed asshole/texting bimbo/roadraged teen stoner as they smear you all over the pavement. Respect! It has to be earned!

2. The law allows you to ride two abreast, but it may not be the courteous or safe option. If you hear a vehicle approaching from behind, ride single file. Don’t ride three abreast.

–Wankmeister adds: Courtesy is key! Safety is sexy! You never get a second chance to make a first quadriplegic.

3. If you’re blocking a whole line of cars and there’s a place to safely pull off be courteous and stop.

–Wankmeister adds: Again, courtesy is key! Cars are often in a hurry and can be frustrated by little fleshy organisms on plastic bikes that make them late for their mid-morning adulterous tryst. After pulling over, wave at each motorist and bow your head slightly in a downward direction so they know you didn’t mean to hold them up. [Note: don’t “pull off” where people can see you as this is a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions.]

4. Don’t wander all over the road. Try to ride predictably and as far right as safely as you can. This does not mean to ride in an area that is littered with road debris or places you at risk.

–Wankmeister adds: However, if you do have to ride over rocks, glass, gravel, barbed wire, fence posts, car axles, sheared off rubber strips from 18-wheelers, land mines, or broken penises, do so with a smile and a wave. Also, “road wandering” refers to people who do ginormous figure “8’s” in the middle of PCH during rush hour. This is bad and discourteous. Unsafe is unsexy.

5. Do take the lane if it safe to do so if there is a blind corner, high-risk junction or narrowing of the road.

–Wankmeister adds: When “taking the lane” do so with a smile and a courteous wave to the livid motorists you’re now blocking. They will calm down shortly after impact.

6. Use common sense — don’t pee in people’s yards or hang out across the entire road if you’re waiting for a regroup.

–Wankmeister adds: Peeing in yards is a no-no, however, No. 2 is occasionally unavoidable if you had the Arby’s Double Cheese Beef Bomb with Onions and Chili Sauce the night before. Reminds me of the time that Hector G., a buddy from Texas, was forced to answer his gastrointestinal distress in a farmer’s dirt driveway. There he was, crumping a hairy beet, when ol’ Farmer Bill came around the bend. Things got ugly. And stinky. But that’s a different story.

7. Stop at stop signs and signals. By law, cyclists must obey all traffic control devices.

–Wankmeister adds: Har! Good one!

8. Signal your intentions if you can safely do so. If you are turning, point in the direction you plan on going. If you are slowing, put your hand out behind you.

–Wankmeister adds: The proper hand signal when communicating with a motorist is always a raised middle finger.

9. If you wave a car around you, don’t get impatient. Remember that it is their decision to make as to whether it is safe to pass.

–Wankmeister adds: Also, remember that they can kill or maim you easily with little or no harm to them or their vehicle. And don’t think that just because you’re with Stern-O you’re off the hook. As soon as some big goon jumps out with a tire iron, Stern-O will already be on his third latte at the coffee shop.

10. If you’re in a group, take leadership, set a good example and do your best to make everyone ride courteously.

–Wankmeister adds: Groups are sheep-like and must be driven with a whip of oaths. “Pull through, you sorry fuck!” and “Hold your line you fucking idiot!” will establish your position as the chief douchebag and make everyone live in terror of being called out. Be sure to smile when cursing.

11. Pay attention! While it is the responsibility of drivers to avoid hitting you, ride defensively to minimize risk!

–Wankmeister adds: Adding exclamation marks to little lists like this is an excellent way to make you remember them and understand how important they are!!!

12. Remember the 5% rule. 5% of drivers are jerks. Don’t let that 5% get to you. Take a deep breath and move on.

–Wankmeister adds: Remember the 95% Corollary to the 5% Rule…95% of all cyclists are complete morons, so if we could somehow get the 5% jerks to run over all the 95% morons, and then have the police incarcerate the 5% jerks for manslaughter, it would be paradise.

13. Be friendly. If someone is courteous to you and does the right thing, wave and smile. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for doing the right thing.

–Wankmeister adds: Hugs are even better. When someone fails to act like a complete numbskull, give them a little hug. People also like a little peck on the cheek, especially women, and especially accompanied with a friendly tap on the fanny. But you know what people really like? Full-on, leatherclad, bullwhip-toting biker sex with chains and a hammer. The next time someone does the right thing on the bike, acknowledge their behavior with a tie-down and an ol’ fashioned humping. But only between consenting adults.

Help for the clueless

March 27, 2012 § 12 Comments

On this morning’s New Pier Ride I slid to the back on the third lap around the Parkway and was, again, amazed. So many bicyclists on $10,000 rigs wearing hundreds of dollars of the latest clothing doing nothing but soft pedaling. No hard breathing. Tons of shelter in amongst the bodies. No ambition, desire, or motivation to move even so much as a bike length towards the front.

“What a bunch of wankers,” I thought. “Why don’t they go to the front? There’s no workout back here. What’s the point of all that carbon, of getting up at dark-thirty, of smearing your balls mistakenly with fiery ointment, of all those shaving cuts around the groin just to cozily coddle yourself in a big lumpish peloton?”

Then it hit me. They didn’t know they weren’t at the front. They would finish the ride, deem it a good workout, and get on with their day. Most would think they’d been on the front at some point in the ride. They’d be…satisfied.

So I’ve come up with a little primer to help you get “at the front” and to become a better cyclist.

1. What is “the front”?

This is conceptually difficult for most NPR riders to grasp, but here are some key pointers that will unequivocally tell you whether you’re “at the front.”

–There is no one in front of you.
–Everyone is behind you.
–It is very windy.
–The big fat walrus dude with the backpack is nowhere to be seen.
–Your eyes are watering.
–Your legs are screaming.
–You want to vomit.
–There isn’t enough air in your lungs.
–Your heart feels like it’s going to lunge from your chest.
–Your HRM has gone from a series of quick beeps to a sustained alarm.
–Sheets of drool and snot cover your lips, chin, and cheeks.
–You don’t think you can withstand the pain for even another second.
–No one is screaming at you to “pull through.”
–When you finish your turn “at the front” the next person in line says “good job” or is blown off his bike by the headwind.

2. Do I belong “at the front”?

After firmly grasping #1 above, it occurs to 98% of the NPR participants to ask whether or not “the front” is a place where they indeed have any business being. Unfortunately, they mostly seem to conclude that “at the front” is a place where other people belong in order to keep the speed high while they, the “not-at-the-fronters,” can chattily spin at the back. If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you unequivocally belong “at the front.”

–You have said, in the last ten years, that you “race bikes,” “want to race bikes,” “used to race bikes,” “train with a state champion,” or that “Paris-Roubaix is such a hard race.”
–You have spent, in the last fiscal year, more than $200 on any cycling item advertised as “carbon,” “aero,” “performance,” “bladed,” “lightweight,” “tested in a wind tunnel,” or “as used by xxx,” where “xxx” is someone who gets paid to race his/her bicycle.
–You belong to a cycling club, any of whose members call themselves “bike racers.”
–You have ever held a USA Cycling racing license.
–There is any point during the NPR when you do not feel like puking.
–You have two legs, both of which are long enough to reach the pedals.
–You have a penis.
–You have a vagina.
–You have a penis that used to be a vagina, or a vagina that used to be a penis.
–You have ever contested a sprint on the NPR, where “contested” means “finished within 1,000 yards of the fastest rider.”
–You have ever owned, thought about owning, or are planning to someday own a power meter.
–You have ever met professionally with Ron Peterson.

3. How long should you be at this alien place called “the front”?

Now that it’s become obvious where the front is and that, in fact, you belong there, there’s a third issue:  Since only bad things seem to happen to those who dwell there for long, and since you are a firm adherent of the pleasure principle, it is important to know how long you’re expected to spend time “at the front.” Answer these handy-dandy questions for a rough guideline.

–Can you talk? Go to the front.
–Can you breathe? Go to the front.
–Are your legs still attached to your hips? Go to the front.
–Is the walrus dude with the backpack within 200 yards of you? Go to the front.
–Are you holding on for dear life? Go to the front.
–Are you at least 30% over your functional threshold? Go to the front.
–Are you about to cry? Go to the front.
–Is this the most horrific pain you’ve ever experienced outside of childbirth? Go to the front.
–Have you just been shelled? Do a u-turn and wait until the pack overtakes you. Then go back to the front.
–Is your cheek mashed against your stem? Go to the front.
–Has G$, Hair, Canyon Bob, Tree, Prez, Davy Dawg, G3, or Vapor just finished a pull so nasty and fraught with pain that you’ve shit all over yourself? Go to the front.
–Has the ride just started up Pershing and your legs are stiff as boards? Go to the front.
–Is Tinkerbell shredding you like cheese through a grater? Go to the front.
–Are you waiting for the sprint? Go to the front.
–Are you not at the front? Go to the front.

4. Okay, I’m “at the front.” Now what?

After you’ve mastered #1-3, you’ll need some instruction as to how you should behave now that you’re at this new, alien place called “the front.” Follow these steps and all will be well.

–Hammer. This is done by pressing down on the pedals with maximal force until you can no longer press down on them any more.
–Really hammer. This is done after you’ve passed the point where you think you can still stay upright on your bike.
–Hammer your fucking nuts off. This is where you no longer care about anything. Everything is numb except for the pain, which is unendurable.

Well, I hope this helps. See you on Thursday.

Tour of California douches can kiss my ass

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was in a great mood until about 2:03 PM on Tuesday afternoon. I opened my account on the NPR with an extraordinary solo victory, attacking on the westbound side of the last lap with fellow wanker Canyon Bob as the listless and lazy peloton watched what they thought would be another doomed-to-flailure effort. Having already charged up the bump on laps 1-3 and been easily reeled in by a barely breathing group of slackers, it made perfect nonsense to try the same hopeless maneuver on the fourth and final lap.

People were still amazed by what had happened on lap two, when Prez sneaked away with me and Canyon Bob, and then, in addition to risking a 3-up breakaway (extra sweat badly stains the immaculate white panels on his kit), Prez took a monstrous pull the entire last third of the way up the bump. A man walking his dog on the Parkway who had stopped while his puppy was pooping dropped a sympathetic log in his own shorts, so amazed was he to see Prez hammering on the point.

Anyway, there it was, lap four, Canyon Bob lighting the match on the suicide vest, then falling off the back like the burnt-out stage of a Saturn rocket while I toiled to victory. By the time I crossed the invisible finish line up by the trees, the chasers were so far back I could hardly see them. My dominating victory had nothing to do with the traffic light that had turned red shortly after I passed it and forced them to all stop and wait for ten minutes.

Raining on my parade

In addition to this glorious victory on the New Pier Ride, truth be told, our team has been in extraordinary form. We have new, very rad kits. This year alone I’ve upgraded to Cat 3, finished in the top 100 in every race I’ve entered, and am on schedule to upgrade via participation from Cat 5 on the track. Even the slightly skeptical would be forced to admit that this is THE YEAR, and that’s not even taking into account the overall domination of the team. Veggiemite, our meatless teenage wonder, has upgraded to Cat 4. Our 35+ guys are consistently rated the best dressed racers in SoCal by their wives. In short, this was the season of all seasons. We could feel it.

So imagine my shock, then outrage, when I learned (via Twitter, no less!) that we’d been bypassed in the team selection process for the Amgen Tour of California. WTF? Are you kidding me? I was like, “Okay, I get Shack and Omega Pharma and Liquigas, and probably BMC. But Pissell? Bontrager Liveweak? Colombian Cartel? Come on!”

Where were those losers two weeks ago at the CBR crit? Where are they every Tue/Th when we’re dusting it up mano-a-mano on the New Pier Ride? Don’t give me that Paris-Nice crap, either.

Taking matters into my own hands

So I called up race director Jim Birrell. “Yo, Jimbo. Wankmeister here. You’ve got some explaining to do.”

“Hello? Who is this?”

“Wankmeister.”

“Who?”

“Wankmeister. Team Ironfly. Quit playing stupid.”

“Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are. What can I do for you?”

“Do for me? Do for me? You can put my team in the fucking AToC, that’s what you can do for me!”

“Is this Team Jelly Belly? Look, I know you guys have been with us every year for the last seven years, since our inception in fact, but your team no longer fits our marketing demographic.”

“What?”

“Yeah. For years we thought people who ate jelly beans were fat, pre- and post-diabetics who used our most popular product, Sucreeze, which suppresses the overproduction of insulin in the islets of Langerhans.”

“Huh?”

“But our post-tour research showed that the only people who really eat that crap are super-fit bike racers, in-line skaters, and hot lululemon yoga soccer moms. Exactly the people who never get diabetes.”

“I don’t think you understand, asshole. This is Wankmeister. The Wankmeister.”

“Oh, you’re that guy with the CompetitiveCyclist.com team. Nah, you wankers never had a chance.”

“Wankers? Why, you…”

“Don’t get me wrong. I get it. You’ve won like a zillion US races with Francisco Mancebo, and if that’s not a huge plug for our EPO product and its effectiveness with masters racers, nothing is. We get that.”

“Look, asshole, …”

“Problem is, masters racers will continue to buy our EPO product no matter how many busted pro dopers stay in the domestic pro peloton. The shit works. They know it. Messaging on that front is done. You could even hire David Millar. Wouldn’t make any difference.”

“This ain’t no fuckin Competitive Cyclist wanker, dude, this is…”

“Chad? Chad Thompson with Kenda-5 Hour Energy? Dude, you guys were never even on the short list.”

“What?”

“I know, you inked a two-year sponsorship deal with us, thinking it would squeeze you in under the wire. Doesn’t work that way. We take your money and then fuck you in the ass. That’s pro cycling. Just like a CBR crit, without the entertainment of a Chris Lotts.”

“Why, you sorry…”

“Oh, it wasn’t just that. I mean, we still don’t even know what the fuck Kenda makes. Motor oil? Condoms? We went to the team web site, clicked on the ‘sponsors’ link, and all it said was ‘information coming soon.’ C’mon, Chad. What if we invite you guys and it turns out you’re a bong manufacturer? The Internets today are all about content.”

“And you really think…”

“I know, 5-Hour Energy, look we get that. But it’s kind of a competitor with our main product.”

“Which is what?”

“Epogen a/k/a EPO.”

“And 5-Hour Energy competes with you how?”

“That shit is like a triple caffeine suppository. It costs a buck fifty per bottle and will make you burn through a 45-minute crit faster than Thurlow Rogers going for a $75 purse. Epogen costs $700 per regimen, clots your blood, causes rectal cancer, will get you banned for life, and, if you’re popped using it as a masters racer, will get you a humiliating blurb in VN–’75 year-old masters racer places fourth out of five in Wyoming state TT, returns analytical positive for EPO. Which one would YOU choose?”

“Well, I’m not with any of those wanker teams. I’m with Team Ironfly out of Redondo Beach.”

“Ironfly? What the fuck is that? Reinforced zippers?”

“Internets development web sites and shit, and it’s fucking rad. Plus our kits are very rad. StageOne. Ring any bells?”

“Look, Mr. Spankmeister. We’re full. Sorry. Send us your team resume and we’ll take a look at it next year.”

That dude’s living in fantasyland. We’re skipping his cheapass event and sending our paperwork straight to the Tour. Yeah. Because that’s how we roll.

A very serious post

March 13, 2012 § 5 Comments

By now you’ve committed to the Belgian Waffle Ride. There’s still time to turn back, but not really, because you’ve gravely overestimated your fitness and ability to suffer, and no number of sanctimonious, finger-pointing blog posts will ever penetrate the concrete cast of fantasy surrounding your cycling psyche. The other reason it’s too late is because, even though you know deep down that this will end badly, you’ve told too many people about having earned one of the coveted Hardman invites, and rather than swallow your pride now you’ve elected to have it violently shoved down your throat later.

Several people, a handful, actually, have kept up with the emails and blog posts and concluded that despite having been honored with an invitation, this simply isn’t the ride for them. They aren’t tough enough. They’re the ones who, after being invited to the king’s ball, realize they own no tuxedo and have never eaten with a salad fork, so instead of showing up in jeans and flipflops with a big wooden spoon, they’ve politely declined. They are to be respected, for they, above all others, know and respect the truth.

Hell of the North...County.

Everyone else will be a finisher or a quitter.

Out of the estimated 150 riders who will toe the line, most will sit precariously on the border between quitter and finisher. Some few are certain finishers. The rest? Touch-and-goers. What follows is for the touch-and-goers; those who have a chance of finishing but will need every bit of luck, strategy, common sense, multiple diaper changes and divine intervention to do so. DJ, I’m talking to you.

Unlike other hard rides, wanking at the back will not get you to the finish. Not only will freddy freeloading earn you the opprobrium of a purple card, but after a while there will be no more back at which to wank. No one will tow you. You’ll either be doing your share in a beaten down grupetto or you’ll be on your own.

Here are some basic rules you should memorize and follow if you’re a potential quitter. I know I am.

This is all that matters. Finishing with honor.

Rules of Survivorship

1. Let the fast people go the moment the hammer drops. Shortly after the neutral zone there will be a massive acceleration, followed by a sprint, followed by a bone jarring, gut-wrenching climb over gravel and dirt. Now is your time to say “good-bye” to these folks. Many of these idiots you will see later, babbling incoherently as they sit on the roadside, sopped in their own sweat, urine, and bloody stool as they mumble pre-recorded phrases like “HTFU” and “Shut up, legs.” Your goal is to finish and to do so without poopy drawers. That will be glory aplenty for this day, or for any day.

2. Play to your weaknesses. If you’re better on the uphills, go easy on the climbs, because the course has mile after mile of rolling terrain. If you’re better on the rollers, don’t make huge efforts there, because the course has over 9,000 feet of climbing, much of it on dirt.

3. Don’t put more than 90 psi in your tires. Steep unpaved climbs and long roads in soft dirt will fuck you up if your tires are too hard. You’ll roll just fine on the asphalt at 90 psi, and still get enough traction in the soft stuff so that you can power through without dismounting. If you are seen pushing your bike, or clumsily tipping over in the sand, you will be the subject of heckling, catcalls, and embarrassing YouTube video posts.

Corollary to #3: Run new tires. This is not the day to try and get an extra 122 miles out of those fucked over, worn out, multi-booted, threadbare pieces of shit that you got third-hand from Adrian. Slap on a pair of heavy duty training tires, use cloth Velox liner, and ride them several times to make sure everything’s copacetic.

4. Start eating on Thursday. The ride is too grueling to be completed with a big dinner the night before, waffles for breakfast the morning of the ride, and a pocketful of candy bars. Eat and eat big. Doesn’t matter what.

You'd rather see all manner of stars than even the slightest flash of purple.

5. Do not sit in. If you don’t know what this means, you’re good to go. If you do, pull through when it’s your turn. And it’s always your turn.

6. Don’t take hero pulls. Not even one. If you simply rotate through for eight hours you will still be absolutely crisped. If your M.O. is “macho,” now’s the day to learn moderation. Your finisher’s jersey depends on it.

7. Eat and drink throughout the ride. Ingest food every hour. Drink liberally.

8. Prepare for the 90-mile collapse. At the 90-mile mark there is a nasty, steep little wall called Bandy Canyon. It’s the gateway to the true toughness, technical difficulty, and ball-breaking ascents of the BWR. Continually ask yourself as you try to pace your efforts, “How am I going to feel when all hell breaks loose at 90 miles?” Unless the answer is, “Like Superman,” ease off. Then ease off some more, as there are vicious climbs again at miles 100, 107, 109, and 112.

This is not for you. Or for me. But that's okay.

9. Don’t dream of glory. Dream of honor. The big prizes are for someone else. The coveted King of the Waffle jersey? You don’t have a prayer. Hardman? You’re the jellied donut, he’s the marble slab. Sprint champion? Green has never been your color. All you want is to acquit yourself with honor, which is to say you rode every inch of the ride and you DID YOUR SHARE. That is everything. That is all.

10. Remember that cycling is all about degradation and defeat. When Magic Johnson said, “The goal is winning, of course you want to have fun but we compete to win,” he wasn’t talking about you. He was talking about champions. Ring-wearers. Bearers of the rainbow stripes. Those with the indomitable will to conquer and hoist themselves atop the bloody mound of the vanquished and the dead. You are not Magic Johnson. You couldn’t even carry his peewee jockstrap from elementary school. At best, you’re a marginally successful masters wanker who wins the occasional race against old people. At worst, you can’t even do that. Knowing this, you will be better prepared for the bottomless chasm of hellish agony into which you are about to plunge.

11. Review the ride map over and over. When you’re done, review it again. Imagine it’s the detailed product description for the newest Zipp rim on CompetitiveCyclist.com, or some other cycling blathersite on which you gladly waste hours of your time. Know the course intimately. If you’re unsure, reach out to other victims for information. If you don’t know any of the other riders, give up now.

Even if you secretly love purple, you don't want this jersey.

**Pre-ride checklist

1. Life insurance premiums current?

2. Next-of-kin information left at the ride sign-in?

3. Significant other knows where you want the organizers to ship the corpse?

4. In the unlikely event you finish, have you reserved two weeks’ worth of sick days beginning March 26?

5. Cab money? There are no cabs, but you may be able to pay for a hitchhike.

6. Recited your prayers?

7. Kissed ass goodbye?

You’re ready to ride!

***Pre-ride course notes

  • As of last week, additional challenging sections have been added with steep, shorty, punchy walls and rapid descents.
  • Some of these new sections include dirt and gravel, with a particularly nasty section after the Couser Canyon climb.
  • After this series of morale crushers, where some will fall off their bikes or grind to a halt as they flailingly try to navigate the uneven surface, there is a new, long component of dirt roads.
  • One of the new unpaved sections has a “special surprise.” Remember when you were a kid and you loved surprises? Well, you’re not a kid anymore.
  • One of the unpaved sections goes for a while, hits a kicker toward the end that will cause many to flail on and dismount or tip over.

The baby dolphin slaughter

March 12, 2012 § 8 Comments

Wankmeister got a text message from New Girl, who had just checked in with Fussy, Blondie, Pilot, Canyon Bob, and Junkyard at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara. “We’re so excited about the Solvang Century tomorrow!” she texted. “Where are you staying?”

“Fess Parker’s was booked by the time I called,” Wanky replied. “That’s the place named after the movie star who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, right?”

“Right!”

“It’s, like, swankville, right?”

“Yep!”

“Well , the only place I could get was at Fess Haggen’s.”

“Fess Haggen’s? Never heard of it.”

“It’s a smallish place named after Festus Haggen, the illiterate, dirty, alcoholic deadbeat who played Matt Dillon’s deputy in Gunsmoke. They offered me their last room, out behind the dumpsters. I had to pass. So I’m flying in tomorrow with Wehrlissimo & Co.”

“The same guys you did Palm Springs with?”

“Same bunch of wankers.”

Culture and fitness, all rolled into one

Solvang, CA is the picturesque Danish town made famous by Lance Armtwister and the US Pestal Team when they won twelve consecutive Tours without ever doping. Remember when 190-lb. “Twiggy” Hincappy beat 115-lb. “Tubs” Pereiro on the 15th stage of the Tour in 2005, climbing 35,000 vertical miles over two hundred major Alpine passes? That was thanks to the hard efforts the team spent in their Solvang winter training camp, and neither he nor Armtwister ever tested positive, despite being the most-tested athletes in the history of athletedom.

Like any other ethnic “town” (think “Chinatown” in San Francisco, or “Little Tokyo” in LA, or New York’s “Little Italy,” or Houston’s “Cheap Hookers and Meth Village”) Solvang introduces people to Danish culture without the inconvenience and expense of having to actually learn Danish and go to the Faroe Islands to watch a baby dolphin slaughter.

“What’s this?!?” you say. “Danish people don’t slaughter baby dolphins! That’s Canadians. And they only slaughter baby seals. Danish people bake yummy butter cookies and have that precious statue of the Little Mermaid!”

Solvang does in fact promote the enticing aspects of Danish cuisine, and numerous places in town exist where you can enjoy a yummy frokost of pickled herring, smoked eel, fried onions, smoked herring with raw egg yolk and saltmeat. For middag you can look forward to more salted fish, boiled potatoes, cabbage, rødgrød, and an appetizer of hot porridge.

Yet, despite the great food, the high point of the town’s celebration of Danish culture remains the annual baby dolphin hunt, carried out in the guise of a century ride.

South Bay baby dolphin killers boarding the “Slaughter Express”

The baby dolphin round-up

As with the Faroese dolphin hunt, Solvang first attracts the baby dolphins with offers of great weather, beautiful scenery, a memorial patch, and lots of overpriced $5 beer with outrageously overpriced $20 barbecue in the sunshine. When the leathery whalers stepped off Wehrlissimo’s turboprop, “The Dolphin Slaughter Express,” and pedaled into Solvang from the Santa Ynez airpark, it was evident that the round-up had been a huge success.

Thousands of baby dolphins milled around the sign-in area, greedily looking through their goodie bags, happily taping their numbers to their handlebars, and proudly admiring the new “Solvang 2012″ patch that they would never arrive home with to sew onto their jerseys. Some happily munched on the free nutty Clif bar that only cost $65, while others adjusted their tummies to rest comfortably on their top tubes. None was aware of the predators in their midst or the mayhem that would shortly ensue.

As the cold-eyed hunters from the South Bay hungrily gazed out at the roiling ocean of clueless cetaceans, some took the opportunity to sharpen their sóknaronguls, checking to make sure that the steel point of the gaff would sink quickly through the blubbery skin and into the brain of the prey. Given that their brains were tiny indeed, the hunters’ aim would have to be true. DJ, the Chief Hunter & Drunk, looked grimly at what would soon be a mass of lifeless corpses.

King Harald Bluetooth, slightly more humane, had opted to bring his blásturongul instead, preferring the blunt-edged gaff as an easier way to hook the unsuspecting baby dolphins by their blowholes, drag them to shore, beach them, cut their dorsal fins, and slice their spinal cords with an heirloom grindaknívur, handed down from father to son to bond the generations with the joyous, bloody murder of squeaking baby dolphins.

Baby Dolphin disguise

As the harpooners donned their own baby dolphin ID numbers, the better to blend with their victims, they noticed out in the parking lot a particularly plump batch of chubby little dolphin children. Clad in Long Beach Botulism Taco outfits, they huddled together, comparing swag sack goodies and admiring each others’ night-before boastful emails.

“Heh, heh,” squeaked one baby dolphin. “I told the South Bay fakers about my one-hour massage and carbo loading! Katy bar the door!”

“Ho, ho,” squeaked another, who had called in from Long Beach on his iPhone because he was too weak to make the swim. “I’ll post a funny blog afterwards when someone tells me about the ride I was too weak and craven to join!”

“Har, har,” squeaked the last, “they’re about to find out how the Long Beach baby dolphins ROLL!”

Over-ripe baby dolphin bait hanging out of WM’s pocket.

How the Long Beach baby dolphins roll

Under the guidance of their Chief Hunter & Drunk the whalers left the safety of Solvang Bay and headed out to open sea with the group of tubby Long Beach dolphins in tow. The hunters of steely mien included Wehrlissimo “Gorm the Old,” Major Bob “Sweyn Forkbeard,” King Harald Bluetooth, Li’l Douggie “Sigrid the Haughty,” Triple “Olaf Hunger,” Polly “Cnut the Great,” ProBoy Alex “Sigrid the Dainty,” and Cap’n Levi, “He Who None Shall Fuck With Ever.”

By mile four the rotating paceline of South Bay whalers had already hooked, beached, and severed the spinal cords of several thousand baby dolphins, most of whom were wobbling along in ill-defined schools led by someone wearing a jersey that said, “Winner–California Triple Crown of Cycling

By mile five the Long Beach cetaceans had already begun to swim in a panic mode, with Dr. Dave wildly squeaking out “Flat! Wheel! Mechanical!” The largest of the blubbery mammals, a juvenile female pilot whale named Martijn the Feeble, called the school to a halt while everyone gathered around the quivering Dr. Dave. No one was able to find a flat or any problem whatsoever, but he insisted. “The wheel was wobbling! I swear!”

Harald Bluetooth looked scornfully and said, “The wheel’s wobbling because your arms were shaking, dude. Okay let’s go. Just don’t get behind this baby dolphin on the downhill.”

The cold bite of the lance

At mile 37, one of the fattest baby dolphins, after taking numerous pulls, swung over to the side, his flippers quaking from the effort. “Thar she blows!” roared Gorm the Old as he took out his long harpoon and sent the steely blade of death piercing directly to the heart of the blubbery mammal. Gore coursed from his mouth, then from his eyes and nose as the helpless creature rolled over, white belly to the sun, jaws agape in the final shudder of death. No more to enjoy the depths of the ocean blue! No more to swim among the chubby schools of baby dolphins, spouting boastful emails! No more to carbo load the night before being driven onto the beach to be pitilessly slain by the tip of the harpooner’s lance!

By mile 40 practically the entire pod of Long Beach baby dolphins had had the sharp end of the gaff driven through their blowholes, with the exception of Martijn the Feeble, Ross the Tenacious, and Craig the Dubious, the latter two of whom were more swimming reptiles than fish. The entirety of the South Bay whaling contingent remained, save Cap’n Levi, who had stayed back to gut and strip the flesh from the fallen prey. At one point in the hunt King Harald Bluetooth dropped back to assist Gorm the Old, whose boat sprang a leak and needed a tow back up to the main fleet. Tube Top, one of the smaller hermaphroditic baby dolphins whose penis was not large or well formed enough to differentiate his genitalia from that of the females, made the fatal mistake of holding onto King Harald’s tow line even after Sigrid the Haughty had driven the tip of the harpoon deep into Tube Top’s innards, penetrating his uterus and coming out through his left flipper. As he sank beneath the foamy brine he was heard to cry, “Why am I so weak?”

Parasites of the deep

Though the Long Beach dolphins had for the most part been easily dispatched owing to the high concentrations of cadmium and mercury in their livers, a vile and thoroughly inedible group of Simple Green invertebrate suckerfish, along with a trio of Canyon Verde gasbag puffer minnows had latched onto the fast-traveling whaling vessel.

Although Martijn the Feeble tried to dislodge them with shouts of “Pull through, you pussies!” it became clear that you cannot appeal to the pride of parasitic life forms who have none. At this very moment a stiff sea breeze sprung up in the form of a howling crosswind, driving the frenzied fish into the troughs of the waves where they could easily be isolated and where the bloody point of death could easily be driven through their miniature brains. They were not seen again.

The hunters stopped at the halfway mark in Santa Maria to re-sharpen the gaffs, and a small contingent of mortally wounded baby LB’ers floundered in, trailing blood and entrails. They would expire shortly after the hunting resumed.

As the sailors left the harbor, it became apparent that many of the sturdy South Bay harpooners, tired after such a bloody and successful harvest, were less than eager to begin rowing again in earnest. Worse, the skulking and resilient female pilot whale, despite her sagging tummy and poorly attached feminine hygiene pads, was proving difficult to kill.

Wankmeister saw an opportunity, and easily rowed away, confident that Martijn the Feeble would never close the gap, especially since the remaining heroes were almost exclusively from the South Bay. For thirty miles he toiled, now alone, now rowing with other castaways, now joining a soon-to-be-wrecked armada.

Unfortunately, the unthinkable had occurred. The Chief Hunter & Drunk had made a pact with the devil and he, the Feeble one of the Sagging Paunch, Ross the Reptile, and the remaining whalers now joined forces to row down their valiant and heroic companion. As with most perfidious plans, this one caused terrible destruction within the South Bay contingent, as the catch came just before the Straits of Foxen.

Calamity in the deep

Although the baby dolphins had long ago been harpooned, skinned, doused with spit and piss, and consigned to ignominy, catastrophe now overtook the hunters, as one by one they dashed in their hulls and floundered in the pounding surf. Wankmeister rowed valiantly but to no avail as the Paunchy One, the Chief Drunk & Traitor, and ProBoy Backstabber made their escape.

Once through the straits, however, and despite the fatigue of his godlike 30-mile escape, WM overtook ProBoy and, rejoined by Harald Bluetooth, began a furious chase. But who of this world can run down the Chief Hunter & Drunk when he rows in anger knowing that beer is near at hand, even when he is dragging the useless and snot-encrusted baggage of the Feeble One?

Just as Wankmeister contemplated the futility of the chase, they hit the Foxen Shoals, a devastatingly rocky passage just beyond the straits. ProBoy leaped ahead followed by Harald, as WM was humiliatingly passed by a chubby husband and wife who had set out the night before and were wearing matching Google outfits.

Stung by the triple mortification of losing to the Feeble One, being dropped by ProBoy, and facing death at the hands of two baby Googlefish, WM nutted up, rejoined Bluetooth, then caught and shelled ProBoy, who now as punishment has to go race the Tour of India and the Criterium Nationale de Burundi.

King Harald Bluetooth, Wankmeister, and an Orange Zebra from San Clemente poured on the coal, coming to within 150 yards of the Chief Traitor and the She-whale, who were easily tracked by the trail of snot that the She-whale had left upon the billows. The chasers’ efforts came to naught. Once through the last reef, the Chief Traitor opened up a gap so huge and in the middle of such a vicious crosswind that the chasers simply gave up, beaten in spirit, exhausted of body, and wholly incapable of reeling in the dastardly duo.

Coming in some two minutes adrift with broken oars and tattered sails, the Traitor and the She-whale laughed in contempt. “You,” crowed the whale, “are WEAK!”

Truer words, on this day at least, were never spoken…at least by her.

____________________________________________

**An alternative version of this epic slaughter of the weak, sick, and infirm, conjured up by a non-participating delusional Long Beach WNP (Wanker Nonpareil) is also available here. I deny everything.

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