The taste of bitter, Devil’s Punchbowl 2012, Part 3

April 30, 2012 § 4 Comments

By the time we hit the right-hand turn onto the stairsteps of death, Wankmeister’s golden legs from the previous week had turned to silver. Barely hanging onto the back, I noticed that Ol’ Gizzards had been shed. Fatty the Pimple, the balloon dude with the red outfit and rainbow striped sleeves that made him look like a zit about to pop, was huffing and puffing like a Code 4 cardiac patient.

At the top of the stairsteps my legs of silver had turned to bronze. Fatty the Pimple popped. On the long crazy downhill I recovered, then recovered some more on the rolling section leading to the hard right turn, where the organizers had thoughtfully placed lots of sand and gravel across the off-camber, high speed, right-angle intersection. “Careful!” they yelled, which was lots cheaper and easier than sweeping the deadly turn with a broom. Fatty had toiled his way back on, and of the forty or so riders who had toed the line, only about twenty remained.

As we began the climb up to the start-finish, we passed the giant sign pointing out the San Andreas Fault. Now at least I knew who to blame for that vaguely familiar taste in the back of my mouth. The taste of bitter.

A three-man suicide break was already up the road. Axena had attacked with Purple Parks, and Steelhead bridged to complete the threesome. Our main chase group came through the start-finish, turned left, and began rolling up what is in effect the second section of the climb that began at the sandy intersection.

DQ Louie had decided to bring back the leaders, and the moment he upped the pace my legs of bronze turned to legs of wood, then plastic, then overcooked spaghetti. This was it. The dreaded moment of droppage. The moment when the hardest, gnarliest, most painful and relentless contest in Southern California goes from being a road race to a time trail.

Fatty never came off, which made me hate him even more, and made the bitter flavor stronger still.

Oh, no, Mr. Bill!

On the descent I formed a group with Mr. Bill from Big Orange, Bill L. the Pool Guy, and some dude from Schroeder Iron. His name was probably Bill too, but I was too tired to ask, and the way he hung his head and sagging gut as he rotated through told me that he was too tired to answer. None of them was climbing worth a shit, which made it even more humiliating when they effortlessly rode away from me the third time up the big climb.

As I flailed along by myself I passed C.U. Tomorrow. “Good job, C.U.!” I said as I passed.

“Fuck you!” she waved.

The next chick I overtook was Irish Lassie. “Good job, Lassie!” I said as I passed. “Shut up and give me a push!” she yelled.

The next gal was Gangstachick, who I passed just as we began the downhill. How was it that these three teammates were spread equidistant along the climb? “Good job, Gangstachick!”

“Your advice about wheels sucked! There’s no wind at all! I should have brought my 808’s. YOU SUCK!” she called out as I passed.

By now I had formed another flail group, this time with Cat 4 Shon Holdthebroom. We lumbered on for a long way, with him occasionally moaning, “I can’t pull through. No more gas, dude.” Fortunately, his tank magically refilled after the final turn as he and his Cat 4 buddies left me in the dirt, sprunting up the final mile to the finish. I crossed the line with yet another impressive moral victory in the bag. Dropped, defeated, and spanked by a couple of Cat 4 wankers at the end, it had been another day that began with high hopes and ended in the rubble of cruel reality. I rolled my tongue around in my mouth, collecting small clumps of salt. And bitter.

The real race, for the real racers, however, had ended much differently.

[Tune in tomorrow for “How Devil’s Punchbowl 2012 Was Won Through Trickery, Treachery, and Deceit, and How Fireman Borrowed My Rear Tire but Lived to Regret It and How Mighty Mouse Learned the Importance of Checking the Race Flyer for Starting Times and Never Trusting the Most Notoriously Late Racer in the State to Tell Her When Her Race Was Supposed to Go Off and How Tink Listened to Wanky and How Roxy Almost Broke Her Hoo-Ha”]

The taste of bitter, Devil’s Punchbowl 2012, Part 2

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone. Beauty soon fades away, but ugly holds its own.”

In nature, few things seem to have been as graced with beauty as the blossom of the pear. In the Golden State, few places look as if they have been repeatedly shot with a large caliber shit pistol so repeatedly as Pearblossom, CA. Studies confirm that few places outside of Lubbock are as pitilessly ugly as Pearblossom.

The name came from the multitude of local pear farms along the southern ridge of the Antelope Valley. A few still exist today, but most of those farms are now abandoned and have returned to the snake-infested desert landscape or have been overridden by tract housing developments, most of which are rotting and empty after the mortgage meltdown.

Perhaps it’s the first big sign that greets you when you turn onto Pearblossom Highway that says “Dumpsters for Rent!” Perhaps it’s the giant billboard in Little Rock that says “We Get You Off!” and shows a picture of a traffic citation with a red strike through it. Perhaps it’s the sign announcing a “Gentleman’s Club, Opening Soon!” or the paralegal services office in a broken down shack with burglar bars, or the billboard that says “Animals Are Children, Too. Don’t Abandon Them!” The children? The animals? (PS: No, Pearblossomites, animals are not children.)

Maybe it’s the signboard for the “opening soon” Pearblossom Fitness Club, or for the torque converters, or the flags of all nations (“Hey, Mom! Let’s stop in and get a flag of North Korea!”), signs for used tires, a psychic reader, a thrift store…all the things that are “coming” and “opening soon” juxtaposed with the filthy, broken down, impoverished, trash-strewn, meth-addled community fixtures that have already come and opened long ago to the apparent benefit of no one.

Team Helen’s Dev Chicks and Occupy Pearblossom

Fact is, Wankmeister showed up to this nasty little hell-hole to win a bicycle race. His form had been confirmed at Vlees Huis RR the week before by none other than Glass Hip, Roadchamp, and G$, each of whom pulled him aside and said, “Yo, Wanky, you almost didn’t suck today. Good job!”

That day, that epic, unforgettable day in the anus of the Central Valley, Wankmeister had had golden legs, or, as Jack from Illinois (not his real name) suggested, “A good enough day of racing to fuel the delusion for another fifteen years that you’ll win something.”

Wankmeister’s system was coursing with the three bottles of aspirin he’d taken that morning to thin his blood. His veins were chock full of sausage, pancakes, butter, and heavy cream. The stool he had whipped up and deposited in the porta-potty was not only aesthetically perfect, consisting of a gigantic two-foot long curling brown slug coiled in a nice tight pile and topped with a curly-poop at the end, but its fumes were lethal enough to overwhelm the three gallons of Blue tumped in the bottom of the turdbox.

It was showtime, and Wankmeister was the show.

And then the Team Helen’s Dev Chicks showed up, and all heck broke loose.

Fifteen minutes before my race began, an out of control black SUV careened down to the Positively No Cars Allowed area and tried to run over the sheriff’s deputy. “Get your car out of here!” the frightened officer roared.

The Dev Chicks, assuming that they could just drive to the front and get the car valet parked like they did at the Springsteen concert, were surprised, but not for long. Gangstachick did a u-turn, ran over $30k worth of bikes, knocked over a portapotty, and squeezed the SUV into a tiny gravel spot hardly big enough for a Prius.

I pretended not to know them and continued warming up. With ten minutes to go, Irish Lassie flagged me down. “Oh, dear sweet Wankmeister! We have a mechanical problem. Could you help?”

Wankmeister was amazed. Not known for his mechanical aptitude, this chick might as well have been asking him to help with her orgasm, another area where he’d been known to clumsily fumble around unsuccessfully trying to properly adjust tiny, hard-to-see parts to the mutual frustration of all parties concerned. “Uh, sure. I guess. What’s wrong?”

“My chain fell off.”

“Well, fuck, that’s easy. Here, let’s put the motherfucker back on. I gotta race in five minutes so let’s hurry.”

Gangstachick paused to watch the proceedings as she pinned on C.U. Tomorrow’s number upside down. “Upsidedown, rightside up, who gives a fuck? It’s not my jersey,” she said.

Soon, however, Irish Lassie’s chaindrop problem became more complex, same as with the female orgasm. “What the fuck did you do? Put the goddamn bike upside down on the bike rack and drive it for 300 miles over cattle guards?” The chain had done the impossible–it had fallen off the chain and then somehow fallen through the chain guard. Now the chain guard was blocking it from being put back up on the small ring.

Fortunately, Irish Lassie kept her bike well maintained by dousing the chain in two quarts of motor oil before each race. Within seconds, Wankmeister’s dainty fingers, and soon his nicely turned wrists, were covered in thick black oil and protective sand. And no matter how many times he shouted “You sorry motherfucker chain guard piece of shit,” the chain wouldn’t come back on.

Irish Lassie made helpful suggestions such as “I hope this doesn’t make you late for your race. You can chase on, though, can’t you?” and “Have you ever done this before?” and my personal favorite, “Why don’t you push it the other way?”

Wanky finally gave up, but not before Gangstachick gave him a moving blanket that she keeps in the back of her SUV next to some pillows for, uh, moving, and he vainly tried to rub off the filthy, oily slime. Suddenly, Irish Lassie cried out “I think I got it!” Wankmeister turned just in time to see the chain hovering exactly in the perfect position to get under the guard.

“Don’t fucking touch it!” he yelled. With a few gentle, careful, tender, loving touches, each one gradually increasing in emotion and intensity, the chain finally slipped with a crescendo back under the chain guard and onto the chainring.

Irish Lassie wilted, and Gangaschick wiggled her cute butt in appreciation.

Wankmeister raced to the line, his heart pumping, his hands covered in grease, and ready to tear some legs off. Game fuckin’ on!

[Tune in tomorrow for “Ol’ Gizzards and Fatty Throw Down at Pukebowl]

The taste of bitter, Devil’s Punchbowl 2012, Part 1

April 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

Humans receive tastes through sensory organs called taste buds, concentrated on the top of the tongue. There are about 100,000 of

them. According to Wikipedia, the sensation of taste can be categorized into five basic tastes: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami. “Umami” is originally the Japanese word for “meaty” or “savory,” or more commonly, “vagina.”

Cycling in general, and bike racing in particular, are filled from top to bottom with bitter. Occasionally, after a hard race in some godforsaken shithole that is strewn with blowing trash and meth whores, a rider will describe the event as “bittersweet.” This is because he got second when he could have won, or almost didn’t get dropped on the climb when he got dropped on the climb, etc. However, mostly all the time it’s just plain old bitter.

“How’d you do?” “Bitter.”

“How was the Bakersfield course?” “Bitter.”

“What does your wife think about all the time and money you spend training that supposedly makes you fit but in reality makes you too tired to have sex on the rare occasions when she wants it?” “Bitter.”

Sometimes, but not often, cycling actually tastes like “umami,” or “vagina”

My buddy Filds once went to race in Belgium for a while. His Iowan parents didn’t quite understand. When the locals back in Tipton asked “So what’s Filds up to?” his mom would say, “Oh, he’s riding his bicycle around Europe.”

Yeah, he was just riding his bike around good ol’ Europe on little ol’ group rides like Het Volk.

What’s more to the point, though, is that before doing the Spring classics, he spent the winter training with locals who rode out of Ghent, characters such as Johann van der Velde and Jan Raas. Whatever you do, pretend you know who they are.

The winter Filds spent in Ghent he was accompanied by his girlfriend, who stayed back in the flat during the long hours that Filds rode in the cold, wet, Belgium winter. The Belgians and Dutch thought it was funny that a guy would bring his girlfriend to Europe while he trained to race. It was a sign of weakness, as if Filds couldn’t endure the hardness without having a woman back home so that he could “lick de pussy” as they said in their broken, laughing, heckling English.

When the whip comes down

One day in early January Filds met up with his training partners, including Raas. It was just above freezing. A hard rain was pelting down. The cobbled roads were treacherously slick. The wind was blowing at gale force. No one said a thing as they rode out of Ghent. As they completed a loop back into Ghent, a loop containing 80 of the hardest, coldest, wettest, most miserable miles that Filds had ever endured, all he could think of was his heated flat, something hot to drink, hot food, warm clothes, and the hours it was going to take to thaw out his broken and frozen body.

Filds was counting the pedal strokes until he could turn down his street. He moved over to the left as he saw his turn up ahead. “Wat you doing?” asked Raas.

Filds looked over. “I live over there. My apartment is over there.”

“I know dat,” said Raas. “So wat? We going make anudder loop.”

“Another loop? Are you kidding?” No sooner had he said it than he saw that no one was kidding. The hard part hadn’t even begun.

“Ja, you wanna ride bike in Belgie or you wanna go back to de house to lick de pussy?”

The other guys started to laugh. “I can’t, Jan. I’m completely done. Completely. I can’t go any farther.”

Raas turned to the bunch. “He’s going back to de house to lick de pussy!” They all howled. “American boy going back to de house to lick de pussy!”

Filds slunk home in shame. He was broken, frozen, exhausted, defeated, and crushed by the knowledge that the outer limit of his physical and mental endurance was barely half that of the men against whom he would have to race in a few weeks’ time. Whether or not he went home and licked de pussy is unknown. But it is certain that the aftertaste of the ride was bitter mixed with umami.

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wanky Eats Sand and Thinks It’s Bitter, but Not As Bitter As Drinking from the Pukebowl”]

Don’t want your panties in a wad? Take off your damn panties. Devil’s Pukebowl race prep for chicks, Part 2

April 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Okay, listen up, girls. Yesterday we sort of reviewed the “Whazzup?” aspect of Pukebowl. Today, Wankmeister is going to offer some straightforward advice, from one girl to another, about how to conquer this monument of the SoCal cycling calendar.

1. Aspirin: Take two tablets daily in the week leading up to the race. “WTF?” you’re saying. “It’s already Friday!” Sorry. At least you’ll be ready for next year. But whatever you do, don’t take fourteen pills the night before the race. “How’d she do at Pukebowl?” “She died of a nosebleed.” Uncool. One champ who has won the shit out of Pukebowl swears by aspirin. So I did some research on Al Gore’s Internets, and a dude whose handle is Fukn Danger Beast on the Bike Nutz forum says that aspirin “thins your blood” which “helps you fukkin hammer at alatude.” Can’t get more scientific than that.

2. Hydration: Pukebowl can be devastatingly hot, but the forecast looks good. Remember how they predicted rain all week here in LA and it was totally sunny? Like I said, the forecast looks good. The chick races go off at 10:00 and 10:05, so it will probably start in the 60’s and finish in the 80’s. Subtract ten degrees for the wind chill and you’ll probably be good with an undershirt and armwarmers. And shorts. Don’t forget your shorts. Even if the heat from hell doesn’t materialize, the altitude and desert will dry you out much more quickly than the bar you spend most of your time lying about your age at, so hydrate like hell and take two water bottles.

3. Warming up: The terrible thing about Devil’s Pukebowl is that it starts in the middle of a climb, follows a false flat for a short way, and then juts upward into a nasty punch in the breast. Before you know it, you’ll be sucking wind, and just when you think you’re over the hump you’ll turn right and face an endless stairstep climb for another couple of miles, usually into the wind. It fucking sucks. I always get shelled before we turn onto the stairstep. You will, too. The main reason for the droppage is our suckage. However, the other factor that will cause you to come unhitched quickly is muscular stiffage, because the race starts full bore. You don’t get a 5-mile warm-up like at Vlees Huis. No, this fucker demands that your legs, arteries, lungs, and heart be completely lubed and defibrillated and ready to hammer from the gun. If you don’t have rollers, make sure you’ve done a solid 20-minute warm-up on the road, finishing as close to the starting time as possible. Doing a great warm-up and then sitting in the back of the car checking porn sites for an hour won’t get you there. Well, it may get you “there,” but not there.

4. Turn off the “Stupid” switch: This is the switch that controls impulses like “attack,” “hammer,” and “pull the group.” As a pre-ordained flailer, your goal is to survive with the lead group to the end. That’s highly unlikely, as your true destiny is to get shelled and then struggle miserably around the windy, mountainous course by yourself, but success becomes mathematically impossible if you launch an attack early or midway through the race. Suck wheel, conserve, and then, when you’ve husbanded as much energy as possible, suck wheel some more. If you’re with the leaders at the finish, which you won’t be, and you’re not confident of your sprunt, hit the gas midway up the last hill. If your fellow survivors look like cadavers covered in salt stains, drill ‘em in the final 200 meters.

5. Practice saying “Okay!”: If you’re hanging midway through the race, and even more incredibly, find yourself in a small breakaway, the more experienced bitches will tell you all kinds of shit. “Work with us to stay away!” or “Pull through!” or “If you help, we won’t sprunt you at the finish!” You should say “Okay!” with an enthusiastic smile no matter how much ridiculous, self-serving pabulum they come up with. But don’t pull through. Don’t help. Don’t lift a finger. When they say, “You fucking bitch! You better work!” just say, “Okay!” and hunker down. If they offer you a “deal,” just say “Okay!” and kick their asses at the line. You won’t go to hell for being a lying, conniving little bitch, because you’re already there.

[END]

Don’t want your panties in a wad? Take off your damn panties. Devil’s Pukebowl race prep for chicks, Part 1

April 26, 2012 § 11 Comments

If you are a chick biker you have been thinking, “Shit, with all the training I’ve been doing, I ought to try and race Devil’s Pukebowl this Saturday.” Then, after thinking that for a few seconds, you follow it up with, “Who am I kidding?”

Then maybe you pull on your biker outfit and go stand in the mirror and say some shit to yourself like, “God, these make my ass look big,” or “I wonder if this jersey makes my boobs look [too small/too big].”

Well, before going any farther, here’s some facts. Fact 1: Mirrors exist to make people feel like shit. So stop looking in ‘em. Fact 2: Chicks on bikes in tight shorts look smokin’ hot and most of the guys pedaling behind you would have a boner if they weren’t gay or all the blood hadn’t rushed to their ankles. Fact 3: No matter how your boobs look, Devil’s Pukebowl is gonna kick your ass.

Only two kinds of people ride Devil’s Punchbowl: Winners and flailers. Since you’re a first-timer, you’re going to get lumped into the flailer category. “But how can you be sure I’m a flailer? I’m a good climber!!” is the kind of crazytalk you’re likely saying to yourself, followed by “What if I win!!??” You know, the same thing you said when you spent $50 on those Powerball tickets, uh, investment.

But Wankmeister is still glad you asked. Here’s a self-evaluation quiz to see if you’re going to flail on your virgin Pukebowl outing:

  1. This is my first time to race Devil’s Pukebowl. [YES/NO]
  2. I’m a very good climber. [YES/NO]
  3. I generally do better on the flats. [YES/NO]
  4. I can climb Latigo in under 40 minutes. [YES/NO]
  5. My training tends to be flatter/more rolling than climbing. [YES/NO]

Did you answer any of these questions “YES” or “NO”? Then you’re going to flail like that crazy fat dude with the hairy belly outside the MB Starbucks who screams obscenities at the passersby until the cops pick him up and take him up to Hermosa, where he blends in better and frankly kind of looks like the mayor. Only a total cheapskate flailing wankette consumed by self-doubt while desperately looking for last-minute free tips instead of hiring a legit coach in order to avoid crushing defeat would bother reading this crap.

Now that we know you’re going to flail, let’s analyze the course

Pukebowl poses unique challenges among all the races on the SoCal cycling calendar. Each challenge is designed so that you will crack, crater, and go home feeling worthless and defeated. This has been written to help biker chicks everywhere, even in Lubbock. Well, okay. Maybe not in Lubbock.

  1. Altitude. Devil’s Pukebowl starts at 5,000 feet and goes up from there to about 72,000.98 miles. This is not far from the moon, or Jupiter. Since you live in the LA Basin, which is the moral and altitudinal equivalent of hell, your brain and heart simply cannot adjust to the radical atmospheric swing from the high pressure in hell to the low pressure at the top of the first climb. You will get horrible headaches, in addition to the migraines and PMS and other head-related shit that you pretend to have in order to avoid having sex. Except it will be for real.
  2. Wind. The only time wind is a factor is on the downhill. You’re going about 60 mph. The wind is blowing about 40 mph. From the side. Even an idiot knows that 60 + 40 = 6040. Which is fucking fast. Now I know, some sausage told you that those deep profile Zipp wheels would make you go faster. This is the same person who told you to eat salt and prunes before your first century ride. Remember that ride? You shit for twelve hours before the start and cramped in the first mile and nearly died from dehydration. The only difference is that when the wind catches those 808’s and lifts you off the road and deposits you into a barbed wire fence you won’t “nearly die.” You’ll just plain old die.
  3. Pain. You know how when you were a little girl and you asked your granny how childbirth felt, and she chewed the stub of her corncob pipe for a few minutes, farted, furrowed her forehead, looked out at you from under those bushy eyebrows, gave Ol’ Yaller a pat on the head, and then said, “Well, sweetie, I reckon it feels ’bout like shittin’ a watermelon.” That’s how Pukebowl feels. Except the watermelon is filled with nails and explodes when it gets halfway out.

[Tune in tomorrow for “Beating the Odds: How You Can Go from Wankette to Winner on Your First Trip to the Pukebowl”]

The Hand of God, Part 4: Capture the Flagg

April 25, 2012 § 9 Comments

Incredibly, Wankmeister’s legs were golden this epic day at Vlees Huis Ronde as he pedaled madly in his Spy Blue team kit through the anus of the Central Valley. Perhaps it was the blinding heat mixed with the nasty particulates and suffocating ozone that make Bakersfield’s air the most polluted in North America, a combination of stench, pain, and discomfort that can really only be approximated by growing up in Texas or living near Amarillo, boxes that Wankmeister has ticked off his gut-bucket list with the fattest Sharpie out there.

Perhaps it was Wanky’s new “Grind Over And Thrust” climbing technique which he has begun using to compensate for the VO2 maxiness of his betters.

Perhaps it was Wankmeister’s decision to go off-grid and just begin following the advice of his coach, Captaintbag, who, after telling Wankmeister that he should give up racing, also told him that if he insists, then JUST GO HARD.

Most perhaps of all, though, it was likely the visages of misery, suffering, despair, and disbelief mixed with the expressions of failure, humiliation, and defeat that were scrawled across the faces of everyone remaining in the lead group. Wankmeister had never lasted so far forward into a hard California road race. Here he was, surrounded by the most recidivist of the forcats de la route, and they looked like shit.

Golden legs. Brutal course. Smothering heat. Everyone else all fucked up. If the legs held, with a smattering of strategy Wankmeister could be a factor in the finish. If not, smoking all this crack sure had been fun.

We will show you mercy. Then after you look at it we will put it back in the box and kill you.

As the leaders sped up the first big climb on the second lap, Flagg of No Quarter attacked and gapped the field. Knowing that my legs couldn’t possibly hold out for a 20-mile breakaway, and that cleverness mandated conservation, I chose suicide by surging from the group and bridging the gap. We worked mightily together, with Flagg taking huge, mile-long pulls up the climb, and me taking brief, four-second pulls on the descents until the field was out of sight and a distant memory.

As Flagg of No Quarter upped the pace, I muttered, “Urgh,” or perhaps it was “Gurgle.” Whatever the sound your vocal cords make when your throat has been slit and the blood mixes with the final exhalation of air…that’s the sound I made. Flagg looked at me as I took my final, puny pull. “No worries,” he said. “You did your best.”

Then Flagg of No Quarter did his best, and vanished up the climb.

The Hand of God smites the unworthy

The field, which had once been a distant memory, now became a visible, living, breathing, fast approaching mob of the undead, with the Hand of God leading the chase. Ten thousand hundred million billion years old, white-haired, bent from the weight of the universe, bedecked in the 456 million-colored sleeve stripes on his champion of the universe jersey, THOG pushed, then pulled, then thrust the group forward until, after my ten mile breakaway attempt, I was swallowed up.

A series of droppage and catchage ensued, where I came off on the climbs and chased back on the downhills, usually with the help of Darling Todd. As we made our second and final ascent up Leibert’s Corner, the Hand of God looked back and saw the cluster of unworthy dingleberry sinners still entwined in the hairs on his rear.

THOG took out his giant Paddle of Doom and carefully inspected it for giant, rusty nails protruding from the end. Finding none, he reached into his jersey pocket and inserted several of the largest and rustiest. Then, with one mighty swat of the Paddle of Doom, THOG smacked the living shit out of the dingleberries who had, ’til then, tenaciously clung to his ass.

We were pounded loose with that one whack. The fire in my stove had gone completely out, and try as I might I couldn’t even reignite the pilot light. The other dingleberries rolled slowly up the road, dislodged from the leaders, while THOG led the remnants back onto the main road, capturing the Flagg, and bringing everyone back together.

In a matter of two miles I was 3:30 down.

The Hand of God meets the steel-toed boot of Satan

With four miles to go, G$ launched an attack into the headwind. None could follow save THOG and DJ. As the large gap filled with even more real estate, some sprunter dude gave the mother of all efforts and bridged. Just as he latched on, he took a second to catch his breath. In that second, G$ unleashed a mighty kick from the steel-toed boot of Satan.

Sprunterdude panicked and threw a chain, with G$ now hitting the bottom of the 1k climb to the finish. THOG waited for DJ to bridge, apparently unaware that the only time DJ bridges is when there are three other players at the card table and it’s his bid.

THOG unleashed the thunderbolt of doom, but too late to fend off the blow to the skull by the pointy, steel-toed boot of the devil. In a reverse of the 2011 finish, it was the devil first, the Hand of God second.

List of the casualties.

I dribbled in four hours or so later to secure 19th place, the exact same result from 2010. What a difference two years of training, a $15,000 bike, and experience make!

Back at the Suburban, Roadchamp was stitching his gums together with some baling wire, wondering why, after a 12-hour surgical procedure and losing two pints of blood, he’d not had the legs to go with the leaders. “Must have been the heat,” he concluded, carefully draping a towel around the meat cleaver trophy in the hopes that no one would notice.

King Harold came in later that night and immediately called his girlfriend to sob about the heat, the misery, the thirst, the hills, and most of all the massive cramps that soon engulfed him. We changed his didey, gave him a Wankmeister pacifier made out of granite and barbed wire, and headed home.

No one told any stories of epic danger, death, and courage in the face of utter destruction, however. We’d all just lived through one.

[END]

The Hand of God, Part 3: Bee swarms, poisonous snakes, and the fiery orb of death

April 24, 2012 § 14 Comments

DJ got the bikes loaded up and we went to pick up Roadchamp. He was waiting at the curb with four sets of spare wheels, a 75-lb. bag, and his trophy from Vlees Huis Ronde 2010. This enormous sculpture consisted of a giant block of wood with a meat cleaver embedded in it. “What’s the trophy for, dude?” I asked.

“It’s going with us. To let the competition know what they’re up against.”

“Like, somebody attacks and you’re going to brain them with it?”

Roadchamp was unfazed and loaded the thing in the Suburban, which listed a few degrees starboard as a result. We next picked up King Harold, who, not to be outdone by Roadchamp, had a bike bag heavier than Roadchamp’s, filled as it was with his igneous rock collection.

The drive was a pre-race bullshitting contest, with each person telling a more outlandish tale of stupidity than the one before. DJ led off with his famous “lost a tranny towing a boat outside Vegas story,” which I easily topped with my “running the Alpha Spider sans oil ’til the engine seized tale,” followed by Roadchamp’s “we got lost riding mountain bikes and spooned overnight in a briar thicket after jumping across a waterfall until we were almost rescued by the sheriff narrative,” followed by DJ’s “broken femur on Bronco epic,” which I had to totally p*wn with “the time I bow and arrow target practiced one day on the public golf course legend” which totally shut everyone the fuck up, except King Harold, who admitted that he’d never “had an adventure, gotten lost, been arrested, sunk a boat, crashed a car, killed anyone by mistake, or been in jail” although there was one time when his dad fell out of a chair and all the kids laughed really hard.

When we got to Bakersfield it was already 107 degrees. We parked next to G$, Axena, and Mighty Mouse, who were trying to put up a tent with half of its legs broken. Fortunately, King Harold, DJ, and Roadchamp are all engineers, so by the time we finished the canvas was torn and the other half of the legs were broken. I slammed a tuna sandwich and a couple of bananas, loaded up with three water bottles, and we rolled to the line.

The ref began with, “The center rule line is permanently enforced for all eternity by cement trucks and crazed pickups going the other way and by angry people with loaded guns. Cross the line and you will be relegated to the coroner’s office. Also, at the bottom of the first climb there is a massive swarm of stinging bees. Close your mouths. Finally, when you pull off the side of the road to quit or just to die, watch out for the poisonous snakes that are everywhere. Riders ready! Go!!”

Pain is intelligence leaving your body, or, what doesn’t kill you makes you pretty much an invalid

Vlees Huis Ronde, which in Dutch means “How’d you like getting fucked in the throat with a sharp stick while having your balls slowly roasted over a campfire?” has quickly become a place that racers avoid with a passion. Its first year, the 45+ field had 30 finishers. Word spread that it was a brutal and nasty race, and riders flocked to test their mettle in 2011. Forty finished. This year, everyone who’d wanted any had gotten a taste of this beastly desert beatdown, and barely 45 racers signed up. Twenty-three finished.

The soul-destroying heat and relentless climbing whittled the field down by half in short order. Somewhere up the last steep climb on the first lap, I think it was after the second turnaround coming up the backside of Leibert’s Corner, I realized I was up to my old tricks again: glued to the wheel of the craziest dude in the race.

This hairy-legged wanker was riding a vintage 1980’s steel DeRosa with “Diamante” tubing (Srsly? Diamond tubing?) and downtube shifters, and each time we hit a climb he would plunge from deep in the red zone into the purple zone and from there into the wobble off into the gravel zone. With me on his wheel, stupidly, of course.

By the second lap our tightly knit group of people who all hated each other was feeling the effects of the heat. Roadchamp’s stitches from his 12-hour oral surgery the day before the race had come loose, and every time he exhaled, a spray of blood blew out like spit fired from a misting machine. The steel bike dude had received a brief graveside service where everyone threw their empty water bottles and GU wrappers at his corpse as we rode by. Giants of the road such as Thing 2 had pedaled off into oblivion. King Harold had turned the ride into a solo pedal through purgatory.

The only people left were the gritty, the tough, and those who can only be called “too stupid to quit and/or so poor that it’s worth a $15,000 hospital bill for the chance to win $37.” However hard up and miserable we all were, though, it was about to get that much worse.

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wanky Learns the Difference between Self-Preservation and Self-Immolation”]

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