The Hand of God, Part 2: The Happy Birthaversary deal

April 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

When you’re a dude, there is nothing more poisonous to your racing plans and to sex for the next four months than forgetting a birthday or anniversary. Of course, I’ve only been married twenty-four years, so it’s not like I’m expected memorize all these fucking dates overnight, but still, it didn’t take a genius to see that things were about to take a hard left down the “Exit: No Bike Race for YOU” lane.

[Click here for The Hand of God, Part 1]

Being a dude, though, I’ve learned to think quickly, so I put on my best “warm and fuzzy” smile coupled with my “I’ve got something up my sleeve” smile, and said, “I know it’s your birthday. There’s a really cute little In ‘N Out just outside Bakersfield on Panama Drive that we could stop at to celebrate after the race. Double cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes! Sound fun?”

Mrs. Wankmeister scowled and said she didn’t think it sounded fun plus Bakersfield was still a shithole as far as she was concerned. So there things were, looking pretty bad, but, ever the optimist, I packed my bags and texted DJ that I’d be over at his place at 8:30, and went to bed hoping for the best.

Are you Mr. Wankmeister?

The alarm went off just before six and I got up to make my coffee, trying to make enough racket so that Mrs. WM wouldn’t be able to sleep and then hopefully she’d not remember too much that it was her birthday and maybe make me some pancakes and eggs and sausage so I’d be ready for the race in case I got to go to the race.

She finally got stirring, and started her morning routine, when a miracle happened.

“Ring-a-ling,” went the doorbell.

“What the fuck?” I thought. “Who’s ringing my doorbell at 7:00 AM?” I opened it up and there stood three very pretty and extremely bashful junior high school girls. I’d never seen a one of them in my life.

“Are you Mr. Wankmeister?” they asked.

“Uh, yes.”

“Is today Mrs. WM’s birthday?”

“Why, yes, it is.”

“Here’s a cake we made for her,” they said, and presented me with a gorgeous chocolate birthday cake.

I stood there trying to figure this out. Who were they? Why were they here at 7:00 AM? Why were they giving my wife a cake? So I started with the first one. “This is so sweet. Now who are you girls?”

It turned out that they live in our apartment complex, and are friends with my youngest son, and in addition to being very sweet kids were also angling to get in good with Mrs. Wankmeister, the controller of the schedule and general gatekeeper, as they wanted to go hang out with Jr. later in the day.

Only problem was that I couldn’t call Mrs. WM to come get the cake because she was still in her pajamas and otherwise occupied by cracking one out on the shitter, so I stalled a bit, then hurried into the bathroom and lit a magnum incense candle bomb and turned on the ceiling fans. Soon enough the coast was clear and we could stop breathing through a wet towel, and the girls presented their gift, and Mrs. WM was so happy and thrilled that she whipped up a breakfast and told me I could go to Bakersfield.

Vlees Huis Ronde road race 2012? Game on!

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wankmeister Gets What He Wished for Which Turns Out to be Radically Different from What He Thought He Wanted”]

The Hand of God, Part 1: What day is today?

April 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Words can’t describe the brutality of the 2012 Vlees Huis Ronde, held in Bakersfield. Oh, wait a minute. Yes, they can.

It started off the way that bike races this time of year always start off. “Hey, honey, I’m racing in Bakersfield tomorrow. Want to come and hand me up water in the feed zone?”

“Bakersfield? Is that the really hot ugly place with no shade?”

“I don’t know if I’d call it ‘ugly.'”

“I would. It’s that sandblown, windswept, terribly hot place with bad air and oil derricks everywhere. I hate that place. Aren’t the races there really long and, like, the bikes only come by once every hour or something?”

“Oh, honey, it’s not that bad. I mean, yes, you’re right, but for Vlees Huis we actually come by once every hour and a half or so.”

“Well, I hate that place and it stinks and the dry dirty air hurts my throat and it’s bitterly hot and I hate it and there’s trash everywhere and every third person is driving a pickup or has meth mouth. If Maggie hadn’t been there with me that time I would have killed myself.”

“Okay, aside from all that, is there like a REASON you won’t go. I really need water in the feed zone. They say it’s going to be in the high 90’s.”

It’s pretty much always in April. On the 21st.

“Since you ask, yes, there is a REASON I don’t want to go.”

“What’s that?”

“Tomorrow’s my birthday.”

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wanky Dodges a Marital Dissolution”]

You’re totally screwed now, Charlie Brown

April 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a re-print from the UCLA 45+ Road Race in 2010. I had an archive of stories on FB and WordPress before deleting them all in a mad frenzy. My buddies on Big Orange posted this to their page in 2010, where it remains.

Feed the beast

The most important part of a bike race is pre-race nutrition. Before we arrived at the race course, Mrs. Wankmeister wanted to stop and sample the barbecue at Charlie Brown’s in Littlerock. It was only 10:30, but we went in. The thought of barbecue was appealing, though eating it in combination with a tough, hilly, windy road race was not. But the flesh is weak, and the smell of barbecue was strong. We both ordered brisket sandwiches with beans and cole slaw.

My sandwich was heaped with slabs of greasy meat and giant slivers of pure fat. The whole thing dripped sugary, oily barbecue sauce, and the chunks of meat and fat were so tender they slid down my throat without even needing a chew. After each bite I tried to stop, telling myself that the race would be unforgiving, but I couldn’t. There was so much grease around my mouth after finishing that it took two napkins to mop up; both looked like they’d been dipped in a deep fryer after I was done.

The gnome’s revenge

The snarling, amped up gang of elderly racers toed the line at the infamous Punchbowl race course, primed for a slugfest that would pit the entire Big Orange road crew against DQ Louie. The laps had been shortened so that we would be climbing the big hill four times rather than three.

I was already traumatized by my experience at Punchbowl two years ago, when I was shelled like a bad pecan on the first lap of the first climb, and spent the entire race crawling and cramping with Polly for what seemed like a month. Whereas others in the relatively small field of about 30 dreamed of victory, my goal was simple and carved in stark relief: don’t get blasted out the back on the first lap.

We started at a reasonable pace, nothing like the Punchbowl of 2008, where the pack had split in two before the left turn, and into shards and fragments by the first hill, and into a final winning group by the end of the stairstep. Nonetheless, it was plenty hard, and I concentrated on staying low and staying out of the wind.

We hit the downhill section and immediately got blown from side to side by a howling crosswind that blew my tightly cinched helmet onto the back of my head. We reached the bottom and turned right, when DQ Louie drove to the center and strung everyone out into a single line, unable to echelon because of the center line rule. I didn’t see a single rider cross the yellow line, with the exception of DQ.

After about a mile he rolled off the front with G$, and before they’d gone fifty yards the ref’s follow car came roaring up with a tiny, bearded gnome screeching and screaming in such a hysterical panic that I could only think, “My God, the Japanese must have bombed Pearl Harbor again.”

Then the unthinkable happened. Mr. Gnomes commanded the entire peloton to stop and dismount. He got out of the car, pulled on a shiny pair of knee-high jackboots, adjusted his armband and Obersturmfuehrer cap, took out his riding crop, and went on a rant that left us all slackjawed.

“Ve haf ways of making you talk!” he screeched.

“Talk about what?” we asked.

“Ze yellow line! You haf all crossed ze yellow line!” He whacked one of the poor Cal Pools guys with his riding crop and made him clean the lint off his boot. “If you cross ze yellow line again, all riders vill be kaputt! Disqualifiziert!”

“Yo, numbnuts!” said one of the Big Orange heroes. “Are you going to admonish the breakaway? There are two guys up the road who have been pedaling full bore while we’ve been sitting here listening to your screed.”

Mr. Gnomes looked nonplussed, then hopped in the car and sped off. “You are all being vatched!” he hissed. Needless to say, we never saw G$ or DQ Louie again, and Mr. Gnomes’s antics had neutralized our best weapon, which was having the break in striking range for Thing 2, who could have bridged and combined with G$ to put DQ in difficulty. In theory, anyway.

In fact, though, we got going again with Steve, Bill, Todd, and other Big Orange riders patrolling the front to make sure that no chase effort developed. This controlled pace was the only way I made it over the hill on the second lap. Towards the top, however, the first big surge of Charlie Brown’s barbecue fought its way up to the lower reaches of my throat. Brisket doesn’t taste better the second time around.

Midway through the stairstep, Thing 2 hit the gas with a guy in the ugliest kit of the day, a green concoction that must have been modeled after a late night sidewalk splat found outside of a bar in Hermosa Beach. They pedaled off.

You can’t have your brisket and eat it, too

Thing 2 and Fugly Jersey couldn’t hold off the chasing pack on the descent, as they were hitting speeds of well over 50mph, and by the turn they had been brought back. As we turned onto the gentle up-tilt towards the finish line, a thick worm of fat chugged up into the back of my mouth, all rubbery and greasy and eager to be free. I swallowed hard just as we began climbing the big hill for the third time.

Either the race was really slow, or there really is a god, or barbecue is the secret food of champions, because I somehow made it up a third time. DQ Louie and G$ were so far ahead that no matter what happened, they would have had time to complete a coif, cuticle treatment, and pedicure by the time the pack crossed the line. We turned right after the downhill and I rolled away from the pack with a Cal Pools guy. Thing 2 bridged up to us and pretty soon the baked beans kicked in.

Cal Pools began to whimper and apologize for not pulling through, which only invited the eleven. The break established, I was totally psyched. The worst I could do was fifth. My secret barbecue weapon, which had been tweaked with a mug of thick coffee sludge fifteen minutes before the gun, had turned out to be the perfect race nutrition.

We turned again onto the road leading to the start finish, and as I swung off, the cole slaw blindsided me with a vicious attack. My right leg shot straight out and went into rigor mortis. Thing 2 and Cal Pools looked at me, and were gone. The pack came by, I struggled on the back, and we began our last time up the big hill.

A few hundred yards before the turn to the stairstep, the cole slaw attacked again, crushing the beans and overpowering the last chunks of grease. Purple Parks and I came unhitched. As we watched the pack roll away on the stairstep, he grinned and let loose with a one-liner that almost made me fall of my bike. “You think they’ll wait for us?” he cracked.

It’s not over till the fat lady cramps

We turned onto the stairstep, I put my head down and somehow bridged back up to the group. What seemed like a good idea at the time seemed like a bad idea a few moments later, as Veins began drilling it into the brutal wind all along the stairstep. It was nastier than a dirty movie with a hairy woman. At the top, Veins sat up, my beans and brisket counterattacked the cole slaw, and I readied for the finale.

At about that time one of the guys in our group who must have been at least a hundred, and who had spent big chunks of the race on the point, attacked on the downhill. In addition to being older than dirt, he was big. He passed us like we were standing still, seated on the top tube and ready to risk death and destruction. No one had the legs to follow.

We turned right at the bottom of the descent and echeloned as Veins strung it out in an attempt to bring back Methuselah. He swung over for me to pull through, and the cole slaw, which had made a secret deal with the one remaining chunk of pure fat, came roaring up the side of the brisket in the form of two simultaneous, full leg cramps. I dropped off and got off my bike, a feat in itself because neither leg would bend.

Crying and moaning and promising not to eat any more brisket sandwiches finally did the trick. I remounted just in time for Purple Parks to come blazing by. I labored in for thirteenth. You might think this sucks, and you’re probably right, but I’m pretty pleased just the same.

Thing 2 crushed the two riders who had bridged up to him for third. G$ was outkicked by DQ Louie, earning another great placing for a year that has so far been packed with palmares for Big Orange, and proving the wisdom of Mr. Gnomes’s canny bit of officiating wisdom: if you can’t beat `em, cheat `em. Had Thing 2 been at G$’s side, one of them would surely have put DQ in second, or, as they like to say in Texas, “If grandma had balls she’d be grandpa.”

Punchbowl’s only three weeks away. I’m already preparing my excuse for why I won’t be racing it.

Wankmeister cycling clinic #9: Why should I go to the front on the NPR?

April 20, 2012 § 5 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

Would you lay off with the “go to the front” bullshit already? It’s, like, boring. The only time Thurlow, Glass Hip, G3, Hippstar (may his soul rest in peace), Fukdude, and Hair ever go to the front it’s to attack like a bat out of hell and either escape or break the field. Sitting on the point like a fucking clodhopper is for wankers. Oh wait, you are the King of the Wankers. I didn’t upgrade to Cat 3 on good looks. I play to win.

Scornfully,
Devlin Mizjones

Dear Devlin:

First, do us all a favor and stop comparing yourself to the above-named racers. They are badass and they win (well, I guess you can go ahead and compare yourself to Hair). In short, you should go to the front on the NPR because there are only five people–at most–who have a snowball’s chance of winning the sprint. You’re not one of them.

Bearerofbadnewsily,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

Going to the front on the NPR is stuppid. Racing is conserving like how when you fuck you try to hold it all til the end not blast away in the first twevle secunds like some fukkin tenager in the back seat of Dad’s Chevy. That’s how you win.

Holdin’ back,
Billy Doublebags

Dear Billy:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, being “strategic” to conserve energy is stupid. Conserve it for what? Watching porn on the couch after the ride? It’s the same kind of tactical fail as taking condoms on a trip to the supermarket with your grandparents. On a training ride you got to fire the cannon, same as H.L. Mencken’s election strategy: “Vote early, vote often.”

Electorally,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

WTF do I want to go to the front for? I’m just in it for fitness, dude, and for the shot at winning the sprint. Who gives a shit what you think? Lay off, already.

Annoyedly,
Wally Watercooler

Dear Wally:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you need to understand that you build fitness at the front, not nestled in the middle of the pack behind that goober with the pot belly and the the knees that go out at right angles wearing the size M shorts on a size XXL derriere, shorts that are old and threadbare and right in front of your face while you pedal under the awful gaze of the evil brown eye and try not to barf all at the same time.

Theexpirationdateonthoseshortshaspassededly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

You really don’t get it, do you? NPR isn’t a “race.” I just want to improve my bike handling. I could give a shit about hero pulls. Plus, there’s no harm in seeing what I can do in the sprint and maybe claw me a “vee.”

Critically,
Cam Corners

Dear Cam:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you’ll become a better handler by riding in proximity to the best riders, who ride at the front, not by tailgating the crazy lady with the penchant for throwing herself over the handlebars.

Voiceofexperiencedly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I work long hours at a very stressful job. For me, the NPR is chance to get in a good workout before the grind begins, and maybe score a win against the “big boys.” Going to the front seems suicidal, frankly.

Notintosuicidally,
Leta Lovinlife

Dear Leta:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you need to understand that if you are comfortable, it’s not a good workout. It’s not even a workout. Look at the wankers who, year after year, muddle along in the middle of the pack and never take a pull. In order to get a good workout you gotta go to the front and take your medicine. And it will hurt.

Brutally,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

For me, the NPR is all about street cred. I spend a lot of my disposable income (okay, all of it) on bike shit. My cyclaholism has cost me three marriages, two residential evictions, and numerous job displacements. I want “the boyz” to see I’m serious about this shit and to ogle my new Crumpanator Carbon wheels, which are rad, plus maybe get lucky and ding ‘em in the sprint.

Thisistheonlylifeigottedly,
Goosey Grabass

Dear Goosey:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, the quickest way to be seen and earn “cred” is by going to the front. No one cares if you flame out. Everyone cares that you made the effort. There’s a recall on those Crumpanators, BTW, something about rim failure at speeds over 21 mph. You’re probably safe, but just in case.

Consumerprotectively,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m still not convinced. My goals are simple…get home in one piece, and maybe be in position towards the end to sneak one by the sprunters. How’s this “GTTF” crap going to help me?

Skeptically,
Dow Ting Thomas

Dear Dow Ting:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, please believe me when I say that sitting at the back with the pack going 35 mph is a bad idea. Why? Because when the pack slows, the wankers at the back who are mashing like madmen just to hang on, with their heads down and eyes glued to their front tire, will slam on their brakes at the last second. You’ll slam into them. Crushed orbital bones sound like fun? Get thee to the front. Or to a nunnery.

Hamlettly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m all about winning. I’m a winner. There are winners and losers. The winner comes in first. Everyone else is a loser. Same in life. You’re a winner or a loser. Winners are rich. Losers write blogs. So how does this “go to the front” shit help me win? Sounds like some moron ploy to make me go do all the work and some other goof gets the glory. That blows. FYI, I’m the dude who helps himself to seconds first. Invite me to your party and I’M the present I bring to the host. Get it? There’s a universe out there, and it rotates around me. So rotate this shit, Wankmeister, and explain yourself some more. ‘Cuz I’m not buying it. How’s this GTTF crap going to make me good in a fast crit?

Selfishandproudofitly,
Neville Gazer

Dear Neville:

Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, in order to hang in a tough crit, you have to practice in a group where the pace is high, like in real races. The only way this happens is if people take turns at the front. It may look cool to be dawdling along at 21 and then watch Hair launch an attack at 35, but in reality his races are never like that. They’re incredibly fast, and they stay fast. Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, as I may have mentioned, perhaps it’s time you were introduced to the concept of doing your share. This is common among people who have integrity. They hate to see the same people doing all the work, so out of a feeling of duty, fairness, and honor, they drag their sorry asses to the front to give some a rest and the others a pounding. Knoll is a classic example of this. No matter how many custard pies he’s eaten in the last six months (and it’s usually a lot), he will motor his way to the front and pull like a motherfucker, even if he blows and pops his eyes out of the sockets. Fireman is another sorry motherfucker who will stick his pointy fucking elbows out and beat the goddamn pedals like a farmer going after a rattlesnake, doesn’t matter if he’s just gotten off an overtime shift at the firehouse where he’s had to drink beer and fart in the TV room for three days straight. St. Johns is another worthless fuck who will climb up to the head of the peloton and rip your goddamn heart out, even if he craters and rolls over in the ditch after taking his pull. MMX, before he got too high and fucking mighty for the South Bay and went off to become the King of the Hell of the North, was another two-bit bastard who’d mash it at the front until his dick fell off rather than Freddy freeload at the end of some lameass paceline. Jaeger? That weak turd will pull and pull hard until he pops and drops, and he won the fucking BWR. Uberfred’s another has-been goober who will nose his way into the wind even when his paunch is hanging down to his ankles, just because he can’t stand being lumped with the wheelsucking, freeloading, cheapassing, dingfucking shirkers. Surfer Dan? Same fucking thing. Put him in a fast group and he’ll be out on the point tying your dick into knots because FAIR is FAIR, and SHARE is SHARE. Bull? Go ’til you blow, baby, and don’t come off the front until the road tilts up. King Harold? Sonofabitch invented the flatback, puts pain-inducing medicine in his intravenous drip, and thinks rear wheels are for him to pass and you to follow. USC John? Piece of shit grits his teeth and attacks, pulls, accelerates, and thrashes so much at the front that it makes my taint sore just watching him. These are just a few of the lions of the NPR peloton, and I haven’t even mentioned Vapor or G$ or Davy Dawg, much less the Tinksters, Suzesters, Mousesters, Tongsters, Mattesters, Dukesters, Gangstas, Christinestas, Supergirl Kelly and the other chicks who push their way as far forward as they can even when surrounded by guys. Do your share. You’ll be sorry you did, but happy, in a beat to fuck, miserable, pain infested kind of way.

Tiredofyourbullshittedly,
Wankmeister

Letter to the Editor: Why I think the Wankmeister is a douchey blowhard

April 19, 2012 § 5 Comments

It’s rare that anyone reads this blog, filled as it is with much sound and fury, signifying nothing. It’s rarer still that someone takes the time to dress Wankmeister down for his blustering, mouthy satires that amuse no one but himself, and sometimes don’t even do that.

The recent publication of Tuesday’s New Pier Ride recap was met with scorn and derision by one of the mightiest people in the peloton, and someone whose delusions of cycling greatness occasionally get tangled up with, and therefore become hard to untangle from, reality. Wankmeister can relate!!!

Below, reprinted sort of with permission but actually probably not, is “The True Unvarnished Unadulterated Unexpurgated Pure Tale of What Really Happened on the Tuesday NPR and Why Wankmeister is a Poser Douchebag but I Love Him Anyway and Can I Have a New Nickname Please” by Aaron “Hair” W.

So I show up at Telo today and someone says to me, “So Perez beat you in the Pier Ride this morning?”. To which I respond, “Hell no! No one was even in the same zip code!”. To which they reply, “That’s what it said in Seth’s blog”.  My response, “what the fuck is Seth’s blog!?”. So I read it for the first time tonight …dude, you are one bad ass writer! But your killing me with the whole, “Me have big swinging dick, me take so many pulls”. It’s redundant, and people are just gonna tell you to stop whining. So let me help ya out with the taking a pull thing …if your taking that many pulls, your not pulling hard enough. When I take a pull, it’s to break mother fuckers off. It ain’t to keep the pack speed at some certain average speed. People don’t respond well to hard accelerations …and that’s what I like to give them. And if it don’t break shit up, well, it took all the pop out of their legs for the finish. So change the mantra …fuck pulling, attack bitches! Attack over and over and over until we break the bitch in two!  

Now let me give you the final finish, since it seems you were unable to pull through that section ; ) At the turn around by Sepulveda, 5 Big Orange guys got off the front, and Leibert sat in front of Derek, Mark-Paul (our other teammate), and myself to block. This part is comical …even with Leibert soft pedaling, these guys were not pulling away. So I said to Leibert, “Tell them you can’t go any slower!” …I could see Leibert was disappointed.

Anyhow, Derek, MP, and myself took over at the top of bridge before Loyola and were on the front all the way to the finish. And when the sprint happen, I can assure you Perez was nowhere near me (or in front of me for that matter). So reprint that shit bitch! ; ) And tell these weak dick mother fuckers to start attacking more! When the group slows up, it’s cause their hurt’n …so fuck’n hit ‘em again!

Now don’t get all teary eyed, and take any of this shit personal …cause you big dick swings too low for that.

And for Christ Fucking Sake, come up with a better fucking name than “Hair” …maybe something like,

“Giant Swinging Dick” or “Totem Poll Dick!  

…you’re one of my favorite dudes, seriously.

and thanks for all the other compliments in some of your post. 

-AaronW (GSD)

Now I know what you’re all thinking. “Does he have any idea how hard people are going to laugh when this goes up on the Internet?” and “Does he even know what the Internet is?” And I can answer that for you: “No, and no but he soon will.”

However, it has now become necessary for Wankmeister to defend his honor, and since he has none to defend, he will go try and borrow someone else’s at least for a few minutes. So listen up, Hair.

You’ve broken a bunch of rules with this noxious missive, which is awesome. You are fast and smart and tough and you train hard and you win races (I’m making that last part up). But there are some rules that even you can’t get away with breaking. Here they are:

  1. Don’t ever ask for a nickname. Nothing good will come of it. Ever. Just ask the dude who wanted to be called “Cheap Trick” and is now known as “Nancy.”
  2. Don’t ever ask for a “better” nickname if one has already been bestowed. It’s like being a crippled dude with syphilis and telling people not to call you “Gimpy.” The only possible replacement is going to be worse, unless you’ve always fancied being called “Skankdick.”
  3. No matter what, don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (and you can toss in a couple more “evers”  just for emphasis) tell anyone what you really want to be called. Especially me. It will make the consequences of #1 and #2 above look positively benign.

So, you’ve fucked up, and now you’re going to be punished. Henceforth you shall only be known as Super Heroic Radically Impressive Manly Penis Yeoman Doing Incredibly Crazy Kermesses. But since that’s a mouthful (so to speak) and takes too long to type, we’re just going to call you by the acronym. Or, we could go back to using “Hair.” Your call, buddy.

Nicknamedly,
Wankmeister

PS: After you get through strumming that totem pole…go the front, you sandbagging wanker.

Fear and loathing in North County

April 18, 2012 § 14 Comments

When our small pack of starving, drought-ravaged, beatdown wankers hit the second rest stop at mile 65.4, it was pandemonium. Fistwads of BonkBreakers, heads doused in cold Coke, unpeeled bananas devoured whole, and all the while smokin’ hot SPY babes making hashmark soup of our numbers to ensure we were credited for reaching the checkpoint, and me boring straight for the water, refilling my bottle, and jumping back aboard while most of the others were still gobbling PowerBars, sticking a finger down their shorts to see how egregiously their stinky diapers needed changing, or just rolling in the dirt and softly moaning.

A hundred yards past the transfusion station it hit me: whenever your ride involves a half-naked woman in her 80’s wielding a broom and threatening to kill you with it, you’ve just crossed the threshold from epic and wandered over into the batshit crazy realm of the surreal.

In fact, my last encounter with a crazy octogenarian woman during a bike ride didn’t involve one who was half-naked or carrying a broom, it involved one who was completely naked and barefoot, and ten miles from the nearest farmhouse.

Spit and Spanky Muffins

Spit&spankymuffins, or Clanghorn Leghorn as he was also known, had been whooping it up on the side with this little package from Granger, the only town in Texas that still had a Czech newspaper, and as far as I know, the only one that ever did, or for that matter, wanted to have one.

I don’t remember her name because I always just called her Czechmate, and that particular morning in July of 1984 as I rolled up the frontage road along I-35 to pick Clanghorn up at his house for a ride, I could tell from a distance something was amiss. For one, in front of his little white rental shack there was a silver Z-car, and the only person I knew who drove a silver Z-car was his fiancee, the little ballerina, who I always called “Bally.”

For another, from the distance and angle I could see a maroon Ford pickup parked out on the back lot, obscured by the mesquite and the brokedown storage shed. Clanghorn didn’t own a car, and the only person I knew with a maroon pickup was Czechmate.

For a third, I could see the side window that abutted Spit&spankymuffins’s bedroom, and it looked like a head was sticking out, a head with long brown hair, which was odd because Clanghorn always had a crew cut. For a fourth, even from that distance I could hear the godawful pounding on his screen door and see a highly agitated Bally making more racket than a 92-lb. ballerina ought to be able to make.

The only thing that meant we weren’t going to need a homicide detective was that Bally had approached from the north and thus couldn’t see the truck out behind the house, and that Bally didn’t carry a handgun. Most days.

By the time I got up to the fence Spit&spankymuffins was slowly opening the screen door, in tandem with Czechmate falling clumsily out of the window in her panties and hopping like a crazy woman through the goatheads and fire ant mounds to the safety of the thorny mesquite and her pickup, where she carried a handgun every single day of the year.

Bally jumped inside the house and was yelling so loud that she never heard Czechmate drive away. I played dumb and added a little more to the distraction while Clanghorn did a disappearing act with Czechmate’s clothes that would have made Houdini blush.

No country for old women

Clanghorn finally convinced Bally that nothing was amiss, and she was never the wiser until the big shindig the night before their wedding, when I raised my glass and made a toast that more or less wandered off onto the topic of Czechmate and how glad I had been that Bally had left her .45 at home that morning. That, along with their subsequent divorce after the world’s shortest marriage, is another story.

THIS story is about how Spit&spankymuffins and I decided that Bally was going to be laying in wait for most of the day, so the only way to throw her off the scent was to go do a nice long 120-miler, the only problem being that it was now 8:00 AM and the temperature was already 104, and if we waited much longer it was going to get hot.

Clanghorn thought he knew a couple of routes that would at least take us near a convenience store where we could get water, so off we went. By mile 90 we were both delirious. The temperature was well over 110, and the ambient air temperature four or five feet off the asphalt was easily 130. Clanghorn got turned around and we missed the convenience store, so we now had to either get something to drink or die.

By some miracle we hit a low water crossing that was mostly filled with nasty green stuff from a dairy farm upstream, but we were pretty sure we didn’t have to worry about brain damage, as no one would notice, and so we filled our bellies and bottles on that nasty green sludge, which, if I say so myself, was the sweetest and best tasting water I’ve ever had in my life, notwithstanding the cramps that night followed by the vomiting and diarrhea that ensued for the next three weeks.

As we rode out of the shade from the water crossing, ten miles from the nearest farmhouse, we saw a figure approaching us in the distance. As we got closer, we saw it was a woman. A very, very old woman. Naked. Barefoot. Walking on that frying pan asphalt looking as starry-eyed batshit crazy as we felt.

At first neither of us could believe it. “You see that?” I asked Spanky.

“Uh-huh.”

We pedaled slowly by. “Hi, ma’am,” I said.

She never looked to the right or the left, and I couldn’t help noticing that her body was perfectly brown all over, with nary a tan line anywhere. “Hey, Wankmeister,” Clanghorn said after we passed.

“Yeah?”

“Why don’t we just pretend that never happened?”

“Deal.”

No country for lycra-clad whackjobs on the BWR

While I’d been downing plasma and EPO tabs at the transfusion station, a group of about twenty riders had taken the hard right turn down the dirt road that led to the quagmire of mud and water and slop and hell known by the bitterly ironic name of Country Club Road. As I made the right turn in their wake, I was surprised to see them all coming back again, pedaling pell-mell and screaming at the top of their lungs: “Turn back! There’s a crazy lady with no teeth and a broom barring the way!”

Well, all the motivation I needed to go full steam ahead was the chance encounter with a crazy toothless broom Hilda. Within seconds the SPY broom wagon came up, shouting the same thing. On I went until there in the distance I could see her, hopping up and down in a blue fury, one-piece burlap sack jostling about her skinny frame, three-foot breasts slinging thisaway and that like two bad dancers, one of whom wants to tango and the other of whom wants to do crossword puzzles.

“No blog,” I thought as I got closer, “will ever top this.” Then, as I saw her making some pretty fair batting cage slices with the broom, cuts that, if they connected, would at least be good for a ground rule double, it hit me: Crazy half-naked lady with three-foot breasts doing major league swings with a broom can only mean that her son, who is probably also her husband and the father of her grandchildren, has finally pulled on his burlap bag, loaded the guns, and drained the rest of the turpentine bottle prior to going out on the porch to see which raccoon or possum or skunk or crow or lizard or trespasser he’s going to have to shoot the legs off of.

“Fuck blogalistic integrity,” I thought. “I’m outta here.”

The surrealistic hell of the North County

After a mad dash I connected with the pack that had flown from broom Hilda, a completely different amalgamation of wankers than the dead and dying who I’d left at the doping station. The inaugural Belgian Waffle Ride was already an unmitigated nightmare of British proportions. The last thing I could clearly remember was the sight of MMX churning away at the front on Green Canyon Road, with zombie The Bone battering away, and freakish K. Strychnine grinding up each roller with the nasty efficiency of an industrial food processor.

As I struggled at the back, bladder almost bursting, I could only think enviously about the pee stop at mile 20, when MMX had urinated while riding his bike, splashing a fine, 12-foot film of hot piss along the public bike path and most of his hand. “Why can’t I do that?” I wondered. Several miles later, when I watched him absentmindedly wipe his nose and mouth, I wasn’t quite as envious.

By mile 39 the lead group had less than fifty riders, many of whom were already gassed from the 100mph run-up to the first sprint followed by the inhuman attack up the mile-long gravel road that looked like it had been paved with artillery shells.

The schmoes who had showed up uninvited to bandit the ride had long ago been crushed and shat out the back, and those who had shown up with minimal preparation were already well into the most miserable day of their lives, including the first time they ever rode an aluminum road bike.

During the neutral portion I had found myself next to a giant dude in a purple jersey. “Name’s Fred,” he said, with a perfectly straight face. “I’m a track racer from back in the day. Mounting my comeback.”

I looked at him to see if this was part of an elaborate joke. It was and it wasn’t. “I don’t think there’s a velodrome on the route today,” I offered.

“Yeah,” he muttered. I never saw him again.

The crazies come out when it’s muddy

My next companion was the guy who would have won the psychedelic batshit jersey if one had been on offer. In preparation for the 124-mile deathfest and its 9,400 feet of climbing, he had shown up with his hairiest legs and his best single-speed bicycle. “I’m a ‘cross dude, dude,” he said.

“Really?” I thought. “I mistook you for a retard.” He turned out to be very much the badass.

But the most amazing person of all was the rider from Los Angeles who had shown up to bandit the ride and shamelessly help himself to all the goodies. He too was quickly shed.

Legs burning as I hung on the back, I realized that I could either force myself to hang for another fifteen or twenty miles and then be completely wrecked, or I could drop off the back and pee so that my bladder didn’t rupture. It’s amazing how easy a hard ride becomes when you get off your bike.

After remounting, I settled into my own pace, and the remnant grupettos from the wanker rear guard began to pass me, first in ones and twos, and then in small groups. Like the old sailor in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I tried to warn them of what awaited.

“Yo, Swami’s dork! Have you done this course before?”

“Nah. Why?”

“Because you’re going too hard. You will implode at mile 80, or before, and have to cheat to finish. Ease up now, while you’re still behind.”

They nodded and zoomed off. I saw them all again, of course, many miles later, in varying states of collapse and disarray.

The end of reality bleeds over into the impossible and false

Keeping my own steady pace I hit the bottom of Couser Canyon, and three quarters of the way up the climb realized my bottles were empty. With less than a quarter mile to go to the top, I spied a blue support pickup parked on the side of the road. “Got any water?” I called out.

“Sure do!”

I hesitated because I was carrying my rad CalBikeLaw.com bottles. I didn’t want to give them up, but I didn’t want to carry them empty, and I didn’t want to collapse from heat prostration. As I slowly rolled by I reluctantly handed the guy my bottle. He thrust the replacement in my hand. It was icy cold. I glanced at the logo. It said CalBikeLaw.com.

Before I could fling the bottle away like some talisman from the Twilight Zone, the two dudes were giving me a mighty push to restart me on the climb. The water was life giving. The bottle was brand fucking new. I never saw them again. I recounted the story to Junkyard, who smiled, rolled his eyes, and made the loopy finger motion around his ear.

Fast forwarding to the post-broom Hilda faux turn, the grupetto turned left onto DIRT ROAD at mile 66.98. With the exception of the lead group and a few other individuals, most of the BWR victims missed this turn. They were easy to spot because their bikes, legs, and shoes were devoid of thickly caked mud and slime at ride’s end, and because the first words out of their mouths on completion wasn’t “Oh my fucking Dog, that dirt road with the 18% sandy wall and the narrow, deep river crossing with a rock ledge drop off and trench mud embankment on the other side followed by 1.5 miles of the nastiest, bitterest, slidingest, badassedest unpaved mud pit known to man was AWESOME!!!”

Instead, they would say in a very purple jersey sort of way, “Oh, yeah…I, uh, did that. It was the wide water thingy, huh?” or “I dunno I just followed everyone else.”

I just followed everyone else

Problem is, my everyone made the turn. We launched down the mud to the rock ledge and mayhem ensued. People slid to a halt, fell off their bikes, toppled over, yelled, cursed, and rode exactly like you’d expect roadies to behave when greeted by wet mud.

Except for Singlespeed Nutter and Purple Jersey Andy. These two dirt dogs flung themselves into the water, hammered up the other side, and quickly gapped everyone else by a hundred yards. As I hurtled down the embankment, unable to see the water, I only thought one thing, back from the day that Filds tried make me a ‘crosser going around the golf course, and me trembling every pedalstroke of the way: “Just go fast!!!”

So, fast I went. So fast, in fact, that the only thing I heard when I launched into the river was “Holy fuck!” from some wanker who was lying in the mud and whose head I almost took off with my rear wheel. I landed full force on my front wheel in the water, and to my shock the bike of its own accord rocketed up the other side. I pedaled. The bike went faster.

There aren’t many times in your life when everything around you stops except you. It happened that day. The wankers up ahead just froze. I picked their perfect line and as my bike jumped and jolted up behind them I muttered, “Coming through!”

Purple Jersey Andy looked back in terror. “Holy shit!” he yelled “That’s his breathing!”

The noise coming from my lungs was so deep, so racking, so nasty, so fraught with spit and snot and spray and flecks of flesh that I fully expected to have to get off and poke my lungs back down my throat. But I didn’t. Wankers 1 and 2 vanished. I hit the wall and just went harder. Before I could even vomit it was over, and the crippled, broken remnants that were still wiping the mud off their asses might as well have been in Waco.

It’s the only badass thing I have ever done on a bike. It’s certainly the only badass thing I did on the BWR, because the rest of it was a nasty slog to the finish, overtaking one shattered rider after another until I hooked up with Mad Stan and Daffy Dave from the Wolfpack. They worked me over for miles, their shiny bikes proof that they’d avoided the muddy test of mettle, and despite shellacking them on Questhaven, they rode me down after Double Peak and we finished with A Day in the Life of Ivan Stefanovich, the long-haired Swami’s dude who had knocked over twelve bikes and three helpers at the last feed station as he fought off the LA Bandit Cheapass Fuckstick for the last swig of Coke and the last fistful of pretzels. He had passed me on Double Peak like a man on a mission.

Only the strong survived

The BWR got its inspiration from Dave Jaeger and his annual French Toast Ride, a 118-mile death march held every January before Boulevard RR. No one in the SoCal peloton exemplifies the qualities of toughness, fairness, good humor, and great perspective as well as Dave. So it’s fitting that when The Bone, Lars Boom, and Shirley Temple crushed everyone into fine bits of powder and then, like Cat 5’s getting lost on a square office park crit, wandered off course and failed to complete the entire route, it left Jaeger et al. to claim the winner’s jersey.

Nonetheless, the way The Bone, Lars, and Shirley dispatched everyone else who even pretended to contend, and the fact that their deviation was completely unintentional, earned them all the coveted King of the Waffle jersey and matching SPY waffle shades.

Rules still being rules, this meant that the next group of three finishers were the actual wieners of the event. That Dave was able to pull on StageOne’s incredibly beautiful yellow jersey, a jersey nicer than anything you’ve ever seen at the TdF, was proof that there’s a force for transcendental fairness and goodness in the universe. Nice guys sometimes rip your nuts off by the roots, stuff them down your throat, and, yes win.

Steve Klasna and Brent Prezlow joined with yellow jersey wiener honors, Phil Tintsman took the points jersey, and the hardman jersey was shared by MMX, Tintsman, and Zinc Oxide.

The color purple

The Belgian Waffle Ride started with a basic tenet: There will be winners, losers, finishers, and non-finishers, and they will be determined by relying on each rider’s honesty, sportsmanship, and personal integrity. After the laughter subsided at the ridiculous notion that a bunch of scuzzball cyclists would do anything other than lie, cheat, and steal when swag was at stake, it was emphasized that the concept of “It’s okay if it’s MY dog” doesn’t apply. Follow this link for the instructional video. This was of course ignored.

The Belgian Waffle Ride was also unique because on the one hand it was billed as a true hardman event, but on the other it counted Stern-O as a participant. Those who have ridden with this softman of cycling know that despite having been banished from California and sent to live with the horse people of Santa Fe, a city whose cycling community has in turn banished him and forced him to ride in the desolate wasteland of Albuquerque, no cycling event exists at which Stern-O cannot garner the lion’s share of the attention. Worse, his time spent trawling the tumbleweeds, saguaro, and meth shacks between Lower New Mexico and the cultural epiphany that is Tucson mean that when he shows up he’s in particularly fine form.

Whether by chasing down beginning cyclists and berating them for their choice of bicycle/color of jersey/pretensions to athleticism, by instigating a confrontation with a violent motorist and then leaving the mayhem for others to deal with, or by simply whining about his back surgery/broken teeth/brain replacement therapy/AARP membership status as the reason he flailed and got dropped, when Stern-O rides, people take notice.

The BWR was no different. In an event designed to rely on the integrity of the participants, the Man in Purple floated to the top like the very biggest and smelliest chunk, while the participants could only stare in shock like a hapless economy class passenger stuck next to the toilet door on a 13-hour flight. Some observers noted that Stern-O had been strangely absent along the muddy road of death. Others remarked that although he rode manfully through the water after the third water crossing, he fell into the mud after crossing it in the manner of a complete dirt noob, resulting in a boo-boo to his knee. Stern-O’s reported comment? “That ought to get me the hardman jersey!” Still others noted the fact that he actually rode up on G$’s wheel later in the ride was proof positive that he’d shorn at least a hundred and twenty-four miles off the125-mile route, as the day that Stern-O chases down the Gazelle of SoCal is the day that a one-legged sloth outruns a Secret Service agent to a Colombian whorehouse.

While wildly claiming to have completed the course ahead of his betters as he swooped in to snare his finisher’s tee-shirt, his finisher’s bottle of commemorative ale, and his finisher’s BWR jersey, Stern-O failed to produce his number with the proper hash marks, and, what was worse, claimed to have assaulted Double Peak when he was seen sneaking past the turnoff to this bitterest of climbs while glued to the wheel of…oh shame!…a triathlete. In a later document entitled, “Affidavit and Declaration under Penalty of Perjury Regarding the Performance of Stern-O on the Belgian Waffle Ride,” he was even audacious enough to claim that after slinking away from the finish area before being awarded the ignominious purple jersey in absentia, he went off in search of Double Peak in order to find it and climb it.

Unfortunately, he was unable to locate this mysterious hidden landmark, as it’s only the highest point in San Diego County and looms 1,666 feet over the city of Carlsbad like a single rotten tooth jutting out from the sunken gum off an ogre. Plus, he had to hurry back to New Mexico in order to spend time with his family.

As a result, Stern-O received the dreaded purple jersey, an item of clothing reserved for the lamest rider of the entire BWR. On the plus side, it comes with a matching pair of purple sunglasses. If you ever want to see the whole ensemble in action, though, you’ll have to head out to the byways of America’s desert meth labs, as rumor has it that Purple Freddy Gregg will not be invited back.

So how hard was it, really?

Compared to the recon ride, which was shorter, which I failed to complete, and which had no unpaved roads, the BWR was oddly enough a piece of cake. Had I just failed to adequately nourish that fateful day back in March? Had my legs been unprepared for the rigors of the course that fateful day? Had it been a terrible mistake to match efforts with the likes of MMX, Victor, and Purple Parks? Yes, yes, and yes.

The real secret to finishing this grueling course turned out to be simple: Eat lots of cheeseburgers and fries the day before, and realize that I was a wanker amongst men with no hope of following the leaders, and ride accordingly by never going into the red. Towards the end, after the last heart and lung transplant station, I fell in with a guy named Scott who, with the exception of the purple-clad Wawansea wankers, had the ugliest jersey in the peloton. We stayed together through Bandy Canyon, the place of my earlier undoing, and Via Rancho, the place of my spiritual death, and through most of Elfin Canyon, where the battering of the Wolfpack duo finally kicked him out the back. I would have felt a shred of sympathy had he not drilled nails into my head the last forty yards up Bandy.

More than the difficulty, this ride was memorable for its striking natural beauty, for its snow-encrusted mountain peaks, for its leafy green Spring foliage, for its streams, its chiseled rock faces, its piercing blue sky, and most of all for the mob at the last aid station that frantically fought for food as their last ebb of strength and morale failed them before the longest, hardest, most brutal and unforgiving part of the ride was to pitilessly crush them into broken and whimpering fools.

To SPY and the people who made this great event happen, including the wearers of the yellow, green, blue, polkawaffle, and hideous purple jerseys, I’d say thank you. Once the tubes have been removed and I’m well enough to get out of bed.

For further reference:

Nicole Duke’s BWR blog post

Complete results (I’m #131 and not at all bitter about all the cheaters who cut the course and finished ahead of me).

Official recap by MMX (prepare to be scolded by Dad, who is disappointed that you cut the course, took the swag you weren’t entitled to, and in general proved yourself to be a lying, cheating, thieving little turd).

Wheelsuckery beats gotothefrontery on the NPR every single time

April 17, 2012 § 6 Comments

NPR round-up…

Prez wins by a country mile. Takes one hard pull on the first lap. Sits in the rest of the ride. Pfffffft. Still, you can’t deny the boy is fast, because he smacked the shit out of all the other wheelsuckers, too. Go to the front, Prez!

Motorhead attacks, pulls, lives at the front, and still gets top four in the sprunt. Of the top five, only he took more than one pull. And he took a fricking bunch of them. Props, dude, especially after the beatdown you administered on the Donut. Now ditch the black and white kit and join up with SPY or Ironfly or Big Orange.

Fireman launches an attack on the last lap midway up the climb to the bridge in a hopeless bid for glory. Reels in the two Big O dudes hoping he’ll have some help only to find they’ve flamed out, dropped their booster rockets and are plummeting back to earth. Fireman discovered repeatedly at the front, battering like a madman.

Tree, perhaps still suffering from PTSD as a result of his collision with the vegetation at Boulevard, fails to take a single pull despite constantly posting Strava records demonstrating his awesomeness. Go to the front, Tree. Stay there until you puke.

G$ attacks, pulls, brings the pain bucket and dumps it all over everyone’s head. Coming off the World overpass he pulls so hard that the vomit string goes back forty riders. 300 people queue up on his wheel expecting that he’ll led them to glory in the sprunt, only to be disappointed! G$ ain’t your bitch, bitches!

Mighty Mouse goes to the front over and over, hammers as wussy-like dudes with no shred of self-respect hang onto her wheel and let her carry the water, chop the wood, and bury the axe in their feeble, cowardly heads. Good job, MM. Now go back to the front!

Tink goes to the front. Good job. Now go back. To the front.

New Girl gets blown out the back, hops back on, overcomes Wheelsuckophobia and does some excellent maneuvering towards the front for a couple of laps. Wankers, are you taking notes? Chick was closer to the point than most of you have ever been. NG, now that you’re a master of pack riding…go to the front!

Gooseman returns to NPR with crushed elbow, dented skull, and electric green bike that is uglier than an assboil after BWR. His first move? Goes to the fucking front. Pulls til he blows, swings over and finishes the ride. What’s with all you SBW wankers? The dude was in intensive care for, like, six months, had a brain transplant and a full skeletal replacement. No one gives a shit if you crack and blow. Go to the front like Gooseman, wankers!

Douggie sucks wheel the entire ride, then informs all on the bricks that it was faster than last time by 1 mph. What’s up with that, Douggie? Go to the front!

Davy Dawg mashes and bashes, takes one nasty troll up the hill on the way out that hooked all kinds of junk fish, beer cans, spare tires, and a brokedown outboard motor. Gets bollixed in the sprunt when he picks G$ for the shake & bake and winds up with nothing but the shake. Good job! Now go to the front!

Junkyard says he felt good after BWR and that he had no problem sitting in on NPR. Sitting in??? Go to the front!

Brazilian Wax makes his presence known in the last 400m. We don’t care if tree look taller when bush is trimmed. Go to the front!

Big Dude in Bahati Kit chills and soft pedals the whole frickin way. What’s up with that? Your kit says “Bahati,” dude! Bahati don’t sit in! Go to the front and hammer til you crack and flail and collapse and drool all over yourself with snot, spit, and a bloody stool!!

Really Big Dude fights me like a pit viper for Davy Dawg’s wheel on one of the ascents to the bridge, but wanks and tanks when it comes his turn to hit the wind. What are you afraid of? Dying? Die, you sorry fucker! But before you do that, go to the front!

Hair takes one or two hard pulls, disappointing since he should have taken fifty. Go to the front, Hair!

Derek the Destroyer sits in the whole time like he was racing for money or saving his legs for Telo or filming the fifteenth installment of a business park crit featuring all the usual suspects with his GoPro, which we’re told he sleeps with. Enough with the videography, you hammer! Go to the front! And given your ability and speed, stay there!

Somo and Big O Wankers at the turnaround on Lap 2 ignore the giant car traveling 100mph in its own lane, zip in front of it, almost get t-boned, then do the u-ey ignoring the storm of oncoming traffic. Irony: they were going to the front. Nonirony: they were only at the front because the rest of the pack had slowed to 3mph to let the car go by. Reality: as soon as the pack caught them, they slunk back into the safety of the rolling cocoon. Go the front, wankers…but safely!

Rodley drills it on the way out to the World Parkway overpass, takes a nasty pull up the hill on the return section of Lap 1. Good job, Rodley! Now go back to the front!

Gangstachick shows up late, joins the ride, participates fully in post-ride coffee smacktalk at CotKU. Next time, get here on time, and go to the front!

MORAL FOR TODAY’S NPR, AND FOR ALL FUTURE NPR’S…GO TO THE FRONT!

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