Bicycle cage fighting

October 8, 2012 § 14 Comments

I stood in the dirt up against the barriers, watching Mike Hines power by, blood gushing from two large gashes in his arm, and his left leg raspy and raw from what was obviously a hard fall at high speed. “Go, Mike!” I yelled. “Have fun! Good luck!”

After the race I asked him “How’d you fall?”

“I passed a guy on the third lap. He got pissed and came up behind me. As he passed he completely buried his shoulder into my side. I never knew what hit me.”

“You’re joking.”

“No. I hit so hard, never saw it coming. When I stood up he had ducked off the course and quit. I would have chased him but I wanted to win. But I made up some time and got third. Never could catch the leader.”

Round Two of the Bicycle Cage Fighting Series a/k/a SoCal Prestige Cross Series had begun in earnest.

Would you please hurry up there?

Standing in the long line waiting to repair the mistakes made in pre-reg, the numbskulls around me were hopping mad. “This is so fucked up!” said Numbie One.

“Fucking bullshit!” said Numbie Two.

“We’re standing out in the fucking sun! It’s so fucking hot! This is such bullshit!” said Numbie Three.

“This heat is draining!” said Numbie One.

Numbies Two and Three sighed and stamped their feet and rolled their eyes in agreement. Numbie One looked at me. “Fucking bullshit, huh?”

“You think the race will be much harder than standing in line for a few minutes?” I asked, nicely, with a smile.

They stamped some more and rolled their eyes some more until we got up to the sign-in table. The harried dude at the table was drenched in sweat, paper flying everywhere, with five or six other volunteers who had no idea what to do peppering him with questions. He was gentle with everyone. “Hi, there,” he said to Numbie One.

“This is ridiculous,” Numbie One answered with a snarl.

Harried Dude stopped. “What is?”

Numbie One waved his hand. “This. I’ve never seen such disorganization.”

Before Harried Dude pulled out his .357, I tapped Numbie on the shoulder. “Hey dude,” I said. “This guy here with the papers, you know what his name is?”

Harried Dude looked at me, wondering how I knew him. “No,” said Numbie.

“His name is Volunteer. Bill Volunteer. He does this shit for free because he’s a nice guy so douchnozzles like you can ride for a lap and crash into the barricades. So you might want to lighten up.”

We all got signed in without further ado.

Don’t ever say “crash” before a race

This course was completely different from last week’s course in Costa Mesa. Whereas Costa Mesa had been narrow, dangerous, dusty, terrifying, technical, impossible, and short, the Downtown LA course was narrow, dangerous, dusty, terrifying, technical, impossible, and long.

The night before, a group of merry pranksters had dropped acid and built a giant wooden bridge that we would have to ride over and then drop down off the face of into a sand trap, followed by a tight, narrow left turn. Ha, ha, ho, ho, merry pranksters are we.

Then there were some stairs. Then there were some barriers. Then there were some mini-barriers on a short run-up. Then there were several thousand acres of wood chips. Then there was mud. Then there were more sandy, twisty, tight turns. Then there were bumps and ruts and holes and muddy tracks that ensnared the tires of the unwary. Then there was a howling headwind.

“This will be a good course for you, dude,” said Hatchitt. “It’s fast. Just like a road race.” I looked at him like he was crazy.

“This course is terrible for me. I’ll be lucky not to die. Plus, every time people tell me that a course is ‘good for me’ it’s my worst fucking nightmare. Fukdude told me ‘This is a good course for you’ the first time I did Punchbowl. I got dropped on the first climb of the first lap.”

Practice makes overconfident makes injuries to your parts

I learned the week before that ‘cross requires “skills.” This means that when you come to an obstacle, you must smoothly dismount, get over the obstacle, remount, and resume pedaling in one smooth motion. I learned all this from last week’s heckling.

“Hey, Wankmeister, you’ve come to a complete stop you jackass!”

“Hey, Wankmeister! You look like you’re fucking a pig when you remount!”

“Hey, pink socks dude! You’ll go faster if you quit falling down!”

And my favorite: “You suuuuuuuuuck!!!!!”

In order to live the ‘cross maxim of “going fast by going smooth” I had gone down to the neighborhood kiddie soccer field yesterday to practice my dismounts and remounts. There on the smooth, flat, slightly damp grass I totally became SuperPro. Sure, I took out a kid or two, but that’s the price of perfectionism.

I couldn’t wait to use my polished skills on this course, and so we did a practice lap. I noted that it had nothing in common with the soccer field. Atop the first run-up I confidently leaped onto my saddle. Somehow, though, my left foot whacked the ground, hard. There was a grinding and a ripping noise inside my thigh, and I was sure I’d torn my epiglottis or perhaps even sheared off a hypotenuse.

I staggered around the course, with my hamstrings screaming as if they’d been charleyhorsed with a brick.

Skills. Some folks have ‘em. Other folks never will.

Huddling for shelter

It was another SoCal Belgian wintry day. High 90’s, smog thick enough to eat with a fork, choking dust everywhere, and three stunted trees near the staging area. Elbows flew as riders tried to hog shade while waiting for the call-up.

I’d already seen what happened to those who braved the course. Bruce got pummeled in his race. Natty Hnatiuk had been dismembered. Hines had been gored. Chris D. had quit. Gangsta Chick had been swallowed in a sandstorm but somehow stormed back. Hazelblind had staggered across the finish missing an arm. Dutch had thrown a rod. Tiff had been plowed under, but came out from the grave to claim fourth. Emily had suffered like a dog despite her great result. What hope was there for me?


Fortunately, prospects were much brighter for my team. MMX had a chance to advance in the overall. Chef Boyardee, same. Hatchitt was going to bury the hatchet…in someone’s head. Bako Jim was looking for revenge after last week’s mechanical meltdown. Bill and Randy were ready to have a go, and our 35+ team looked even better. Dave McNeal would try to replicate last week’s win, and Garnet Vertigo would try to better his third place standing.

Before I could remind everyone to be nice and not go to hard, the whistle blew, the cowbells rang, the hecklers heckled, and a few of us dropped a bit of chocolate in our chamois in the hustle and pandemonium off the line.

This was definitely not a good course for me

Like pigs in a slaughterhouse, we raced full tilt down a straight chute and then made a hard, sandy left across the remains of an exploded minefield. It didn’t take long before the peloton was smashed into bits. The turns that had seemed somehow doable at a slow and careful pace were suicidal, insane at race speed.

Gagging on the sand, panting from exhaustion, front tire ripping and jumping and kicking and straining to flop over onto its side or to throw me over the bars, I realized that a ‘cross race is truly lost in the first two minutes…and for me, those were the two minutes after getting out of bed this morning.

MMX was already locked in a duel to the death with Backbreaker Mac and some other evil rival, while Chef Boyardee, Hatchetman, and the rest of the SPY-Giant crew swarmed the front.

After half a lap there was only one other rider visible, a Sho-Air wanker who was as frightened and bad at bike handling as I was, only marginally less so. I finally chased him down, and then passed a huge lummox in green who appeared to be having a cardiac event. There. I was no longer last, or even next-to-last. I was now officially next-to-next-to-last. Take that, fuckers!

Just as I flushed with the thrill of Less Than Utter Defeat, though, I hit a turn in full granny mode, but even that was too fast for my sloppy skills. Over I flopped, banging my leg again and getting gummed up in the sand and muck. This, sports fans, is how you get sand wedged up your butthole in ‘cross.

Sho-Wank bunny hopped my head, and I watched in one of those “I’m glad this isn’t me” out-of-body moments as the gear teeth on his big ring slowly spun about an inch away from my upturned eyes, nose, and chin. Then, as the sawteeth slowly passed, here came the spinning tire, so low that there was no way it was going to avoid skidding atop my face and grinding my nose down to the roots. But it didn’t.

I disengaged from the mudpit and then put into effect my kiddie soccer field remount. Wham! Nuts on the top tube! No sex this trimester! Fortunately, a roaming beautiful camera lovely from Cycling Illustrated had her 1000mm Canon lens trained squarely on my twisted face as the nutsack smacked the carbon. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Although it took a lap, I reclaimed my position as next-to-next-to-last from Sho-Wank.

Hey, Wanky, let’s go!

Coming through the pit area, Bako Jim was exiting after getting a wheel change. Texas Randy had already flatted and quit, MMX was battling with the leaders, and the rest of the field was spread far and wide.

As Bako Jim came up behind me, he hollered. “Yo, Wanky! Let’s go! Let’s reel that dude in!”

There was another floundering lummox about 200 yards ahead of us. I grimaced and latched onto Bako’s wheel. Jim had no fear. He had skills. He was in a flat fucking hurry.

We went through a couple of turns at angles that I know, mathematically, do not work. Shortly we had Lummox No. 2 in our sights. Lummox looked back and saw Bako Jim bearing down. This was sweet. I’d actually get to pass another rider!

The sight of a hard-charing Bakersfield crazy, however, was too much. Lummox leaped off his bike and crawled under the barrier rope. Bako Jim powered away.

It’s great being famous

Each time through the barriers, up the two run-ups, and through the shaded areas, I got heckled.

“Go to the front, dumbshit!”

“You can catch them! You’re only two minutes down!”

“Pedal harder!”

“Go, Wankster!”

But it all melded into one stream of noise that sounded like “Mmmmgggargghpfllggtheppp!”

Like a root canal, the race finally ended. Our 45+A team had held its ground, placing 4-5-6, and Dave McNealy had won again in the 35+.

My hamstring charleyhorse was so bad I couldn’t straighten my leg. My right knee throbbed from all the jumping and running. My neck hurt from last week’s crash. I was covered in filth and had sand in my shorts. My bike was a mess. I’d finished DFL, after the minister officiated at a graveside service for Sho-Wank.

MMX ambled up. “So you’re you liking ‘cross?”

“Fucking love it, dude.”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “I know.”

Have fun and good luck

October 7, 2012 § 5 Comments

Before a race people often say to me, “Have fun!” and “Good luck!” Sometimes the same person will say both. Although I’ve never, ever, ever told someone to have fun at a bike race, I do sometimes wish them good luck, which is stupid and insulting and absurd.

Bike racing isn’t fun

The theory of bike racing, however, is. A bunch of people get together on the weekend. They generally know each other as they all attend the same races, so it’s fun to see friends. They enjoy healthy competition doing what they love, i.e. racing bikes. They enjoy friendly banter beforehand, and discuss the post-race over a friendly beer. They leave satisfied, exercised, and ready to get on with the rest of their weekend.

The reality of bike racing is different.

Before the race you’re tense and focused if you plan on winning. Pre-race small talk is for losers. Show the game face. Smile out of politeness if you must, but be sure and show the fangs.

Pre-race encounters are of three types:

  1. Encounters with teammates. Seriously discuss some faux plan that no one will stick to while you try to gain confidence from the similarity in uniforms.
  2. Encounters with other entrants in your race. Show a steely mien or curtly nod at them. This is more serious than death and taxes combined.
  3. Encounters with everyone else. Ignore their fucking existence. If you wanted to talk to friends you’d go to a bar.

Bike racing still isn’t fun

So you can see that there’s nothing fun about the pre-race if you’re planning to win, but there’s nothing fun about it if you’re planning to lose, either. The entire time you’re wondering, “Why the fuck am I here?” and “What a colossal waste of time and money,” and “I hope I don’t die or break my dick in four places.”

Post-race is no fun, either. If you win, everyone hates your stinking guts, especially the people who bother to congratulate you. If you lose, which you will, you will be plunged into depression, anger, or amazement that you did this of your own free will. The fun post-race analysis with “friends” will be a series of bitter recriminations and accusations.

  1. Why the fuck did you attack me after I towed you for six laps, you douchenozzle?
  2. You chopped my wheel, you stinktard.
  3. Those guys are all dopers.

You can forget “enjoying the race atmosphere,” too. What’s to enjoy when you’re consumed with anxiety, filled with despair, riven with regret, despised by everyone, or covered with road rash?

Don’t you ever, ever, ever fucking wish me good luck

Luck is what you find in casinos, and it’s uniformly bad. Sure, every once in a while someone will stupid into a million dollars or win a lottery ticket or learn that they’ve inherited something they neither deserved nor knew about.

That shit is luck.

Luck is a serial non-attendee at bike races. “Huhhhh?” you wail. “There’s all kinds of unlucky stuff happens at bike races!”

Before you list them, let me preempt this loser line of discussion.

  1. If you crash it’s your fault. What’s that? You were crashed out by a dork? Then what the fuck were you doing riding near him or in his category, you sandbagger.
  2. If you crash often it’s because you aren’t a very good bike rider. That isn’t luck. It’s lack of skill.
  3. If you roll a tire it’s because you didn’t glue it on properly.
  4. If you have a mechanical it’s because your equipment wasn’t cleaned, checked, and in excellent condition before the race started.
  5. If you flat and get dropped out of the break it’s because you didn’t put a spare in the follow car or were too weak to bridge after the wheel change.
  6. If you miss the break it’s because you’re too weak to bridge, or you were inattentive, or your positioning sucked.
  7. If you get hacked in the sprunt it’s because you’re following the wrong wheel.
  8. Etc.

There’s another reason luck has nothing to do with it, and it’s this: The same people win all the time. They’re not “lucky.” They’re better than you. It’s the same reason that any fool can win at slots, but no fool ever beat a grand master at chess. Luck doesn’t live there any more, and really, never did.

Which leads to the obvious question…

If it’s joyless and there’s a mathematical certainty that you’ll lose, why the fuck are you doing it?

Because it’s fun, and with a little luck, I just might win.

Any questions?

October 6, 2012 § 33 Comments

Below are the interim results of my de-ostrichization program, which was specifically begun to remove the plumpy cummerbund of adipose straddling my waist.

The first picture is from the time that Jack from Illinois (not his real name) was here, about the first week of August. The second one was taken today.

No jokes about the boxer shorts, please.

Yes, those are long johns from Academy.

Wankmeister cycling clinic #14: Getting ready

October 5, 2012 § 6 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

Have you ever noticed how some people are always fucking getting ready? But they’re never ready. I got a buddy always wants to race but it’s like, not this weekend, I’m not quite ready and shit. What’s up with that?

Foot tappingly,
Ready Freddie

Dear Freddie:

One of the greatest blues heavies of all time did an album called “Getting Ready.” The irony is that Freddie King was already the fuck ready. He took another drag on the cigarette, stubbed it out in the ashtray, plugged in the fucking guitar and laid down some immortal fucking tracks.

“Getting ready” doesn’t mean waiting until you’re perfectly fit, on the upside of the power peak but not over it, at the ideal weight, have the right amount of base miles, completed enough training rides, logged enough hours going around the trees and hopping aboard without racking your nuts.

That shit’s not “getting ready.” It’s putting shit off because you’re a chickendick wanker. So tell your buddy to pay the entry fee, pin on a fucking number, and toe the line. “Almost ready” is “never.”


Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve wanted to do bicycle racing all year. But I’m a triathlete. We sign up for stuff like a year in advance. Most of the bikers I know don’t decide if they’re going to do a race until the morning of, usually after checking the weather report or calling around to see who else is going. “Early planners” might make up their mind the night before. WTF?? I’m more methodical than that and need time to get ready physically and emotionally. Help!

Theresa Trigal

Dear Trigal:

How long does it take you to whip off your underwear and straddle your man after a night of fine wine, fine dining, and a new pair of crotchless panties?

That’s how long it should take you to “physically and emotionally” be ready for a bike race.

About Tensecondsly,

Dear Wankmeister:

Thorough preparation is key. It is highly irresponsible of you to suggest that people simply “line up and race.” Down that path lie injury and madness. Especially since your readers tend to be older, rash decisionmaking without a solid base of fundamentals is reckless. You should be ashamed. Preparation + Dedication = Readiness. Memorize the formula, please.

Internet Coach Bill

Dear Internet:

Wankmeister is indeed ashamed, but it’s because of some indiscreet photos that are floating around on the Internet that purport to show me in a chicken suit butt chugging wine from a box. My readers are of all ages, and are already well down the path to madness. Racing their bike will only get them a tad more quickly to the money shot, which is explaining to friends and neighbors why they’re in traction after trying to do what the neighbors call “riding your bicycle and winning a prize.”

Don’t worry, though. Your scam where you bleed insecure wankers dry with exorbitant training plans over a multi-year period so that they can be “ready” for their first race is safe with me.


Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve never done ‘cross, but it looks fun. I’ve actually never even done a normal bike race, but I borrowed a pal’s bike and rode it a couple of times up and down the driveway. Am I ready to enter the next race in the SoCal Cross Prestige Series?

Freddie Fracture

Dear Freddie:


In certitude,

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m sorry but your philosphy is stuppid. If your not ready your not ready and the only way to know your ready is having everything be ready your fitness and bike and the right course etcetarra. Jumping in before the gun has cocked will get you a stitch or nine in no time.

Helen Reddy

Dear Helen:

“Ready” never happens in bike racing, although I understand that in the country music business during the early part of your career every dude with $20 and a back seat did in fact get Reddy.

Something’s always all fucked up in bike racing. You’re sick, you’re fat, you’re a newbie, you’re creaky, the field is too fast, the course is too hilly or not hilly enough or too technical or too long or not good for a rouleurspruntertimetrialistclimber like you, your equipment sucks, whateverthefuck it is, you’re never ready.

General George B. McClellan wasn’t ready, either, when he marched his stupid fucking Army of the Republic around in circles while Robert E. Lee tore the Union a new asshole because even though he had the men, the materiele, the plans, and every military advantage known to mass killing, McClellan was missing the integral part.

A backbone.

Same with Hooker and all the other yahoos until Grant came along. Grant wasn’t ever fucking ready. He just whiskeyed up every morning and marched forward until he cleaned up the nasty nest of racist, slaving, buttfuck Southerners like a wasp’s nest going into the maw of an industrial ShopVac.

He didn’t slap down the rebellion because he was ready. He slapped it down because he moved his armies into position and started killing people.

There’s a message there for you somewhere. Go dig it out.


Dear Wankmeister:

I once read that “ready” is the enemy of “do.” What does that mean?

Stompy Nubbins

Dear Stompy:

It means you should quit preparing, which is just another word for “excusifying,” which probably isn’t even a word.

Come out for the race on Sunday. So what if you’re scared and unfit and wet behind the ears? So is half the fucking field.

What you’ll find out is what people find out the world over when they finally throw a leg over and roll out from the start line: You’re as ready now as you’ll ever be, and the corollary, you’re also as ready as you’ll ever need to be.

Sack up.


On your Marckx!

October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Michael Marckx is one of the top 45+ cyclocross racers in the state. He also takes this shit way too seriously, which apparently is just the right amount. He gently encouraged me to give the sport a try, and I’ve almost forgiven him. Although we both started the same race this past weekend in Costa Mesa, he remained at the front, I at the back. What was it like up there? What really happened?

Rather than a narrative, I’ve bulleted it, as it was sort-of-but-not-really retold to me by him.

  • The season opener was held on dirt and grass in 90-degree weather. ‘Cross should be in some mud, grass, and should feature sand and a bridge, and it should be dreary, cold, rainy—typical fall weather in Belgium. So while waiting for Belgian weather to start up in SoCal, the race got underway.
  • Last year the 35+ and 45+ A races went off together. This let the leaders rail it, rather than making the old fucks start behind the young fucks and then spend the rest of the race trying get around them.
  • Last year, sending the categories off together ensured that the job of weeding through all the lapped flailers happened later in the race when it was all strung out and the leaders could navigate through the detritus of the field’s rear end one wanker at time.
  • When sent off at two-minute intervals, though, the faster old dudes had to filter through multiple clumps of flailers; dangerous on a narrow course like this one, and it artificially depressed the speed, letting slower riders who would otherwise be shelled rally back up towards the front.
  • The Costa Mesa half-grass/half-BMX track served as the season opener, replete with jumps, whoops, a dangerous downhill sand section, a clogged run-up, and single track that made passing impossible. This was hardly a real ‘cross course, and one that catered to racers with experience racing dirt bikes. It was a course for them to lose.
  • At the start, someone had already pushed the dysfunctional chaos button. “Chaos precedes great changes,” so the saying goes, but also precedes great clusterfucks. Behind schedule. Revised schedule. Not enough timing chips. There was a deep field of riders, both 35+ and 45+. In the 45’s there were multiple state champions including Lance Voyles, Jim Pappe, Mike McMahon, and Johnny Dalton, just to name a few.
  • Jeff Sanford, a guy with a strong moto background, lined up fit and ready to rumble. Victor Sheldon was also racing in 45+ A’s this year instead of sandbagging in the B’s. Victor had spent all summer racing his MTB and was in the best form of his bike racing career. With his moto background, he joined Sanford as the other favorite.
  • The series promoter changed things up on the starting line, opting to let the 35’s go in front of the 45’s. This became a huge factor, as the old dudes, on the whole, are faster than the 35’s, meaning the 45 leaders would eventually have to thread the needle through the anus of the 35’s on a course as wide at times as a string bean.
  • The 45’s finally took off, sprinted the first turn, settled into a line for the next two right turns and entered the dirt with Voyles, Sanford, MMX, and McMahon in the lead while Anderson, Hatchitt, Pappe, Sheldon, Stephenson and the rest chased.
  • The BMX section was a breeze for Sanford, so the power section of the grass was the only place MMX could do any damage. Unfortunately, his whole game plan was about to change.
  • On the second lap they hit the crazy downhill sand section and its chicanes at the bottom, which then led to the dismount and run-up. Sanford neatly scooted around an entire gaggle of flailing 35’s, with the leading 45’s now gapped by Sanford and at a standstill as the 35’s fumbled their way through the chicanes and run-up, blocking the course like a clogged artery.
  • Behind the wall of wankers, Sanford made good his escape. MMX then got taken out by a knucklehead (this happens a lot in ‘cross, apparently), and broke his right pedal. Now Voyles had passed him along with an entire group of 35/45 riders. MMX settled into the awkward motion of pedaling with his heel for the rest of the race, at a disadvantage throughout the numerous sections where the riders were airborne or close to it.
  • Anderson and Sheldon rejoined to make a SPY-GIANT threesome, along with Voyles. Sanford was gone with the wind, while the chasers ripped through the body parts and dangling participles of the wretched shellees.
  • Anderson put in a monstrous two-lap tow, with Voyles in the easy chair while SPY did his work for him. Who said there’s no hiding in ‘cross? Oh…MMX did.
  • Anderson sat up, and Sheldon attacked, leaving Voyles with the devil’s dilemma of towing the other two riders up to their teammate or watching second place ride up the road. On the dirt section, Sheldon was in his element, and he tightened the screws.
  • The chasers slowly pedaled away from the hapless finishers littering the course like bodies after an “Over the top!” trench charge in WW I. MMX capped off his race on the last 180-degree turn by sliding out and crashing, giving the hecklers plenty to laugh and heckle about in between swizzles and swozzles on their beer nozzles.
  • McMahon finished 30 seconds behind MMX, followed by SPY rider Hatchitt, and the rest of the field trickled in looking even sorrier than they’d placed. SPY rider Wankmeister held the distinction of being the only rider to actually be lapped by everyone at least once, including the nice old lady in the lawn chair drinking tequila shots.
  • Pappe had a mechanical and DNF’ed; otherwise he would certainly have had a strong race. SPY had three of the top five spots and four of the top seven. In the 35’s, SPY missed a 1-2 finish when Ryan Dahl rolled a tire.

That’s pretty much it. I know because I was there, even though I wasn’t really, you know, “there.” Tune in next week for Round 2.

Let’s get tinyful

October 3, 2012 § 10 Comments

Junkyard and I were pedaling back from the NPR this morning, comparing manorexic dieting notes.

“Down three in three weeks,” he said.

“That’s awesome.”

“Slow and steady.”

“That’s what works.”

“I’ve whacked out all bread and milk products.”


“You have no idea. Me and pastry, we’re like, man…” His eyes wandered off into the distance in a happy, loving trance as he envisioned chocolate croissants made of infinitely thin layers of buttery, hand-kneaded pastry dough.

“With the first ten pounds you can pick the low hanging fruit,” I said.

“Yep. That’s pastries and yoghurt and bread. What was yours?”

“Trader Joe’s extra heavy thick double arterial clotting whipping cream. Put that shit on everything. Coffee. Fruit. Black tea. Salad. Gyoza.”

“Heavy whipping cream on gyoza? Gross.”

“That was my other low hanging fruit. Gyoza. Mrs. WM would fry up four skillets-worth of those little boogers, sop ‘em in vinegar, soy sauce, raiyu, and garlic, and I’d go to town. Hell, between the gyoza and the cream, that was ten pounds the first week.”

“Yeah, I bet.”

“But the hard part’s coming.”

“How’s that?”

“After the low-danglers, each pound is a zillion times harder to lose than the one before it.”

“Hmmm. Kind of like when you start getting fit.”

“How’s that?”

“Going from flubbery sloth to your first century, you know, that’s a huge performance gain in a short time, right?”


“But once you’re race fit, those last few watts are exponentially harder to come up with.”

“You’ve got a point.”

“Hell, yeah. Intervals. Monastic celibacy. One beer per trimester. Over the course of a year, that’s maybe ten watts. If you’re lucky. What are you at now?”

“I bottomed out at 148, but am back up to 154. Fried shrimp for dinner last night, enchiladas with guac and beans and rice on the menu tonight, will be pushing 158 by the weekend. New Girl caught me eating a scone after NPR this morning and called me out in front of everyone sitting on the bricks. ‘Wanky’s getting fa-a-t, Wanky’s getting fa-a-at.’ Dangit.”

“No plans to get back down to the 140’s?”

“Plans, sure. But it’s not looking good. What about you?”

“A few years ago I hit 135.”

“Yeah, and a few years ago I had all my hair and most of my original teeth. But now?”

“Maybe crack the 140’s. That would be nice. I think I can do it if I just up the mileage.”

“That won’t help.”

“Why not?”

“‘Cause if it were just a matter of upping the mileage, Thomas Dekker would be in fighting trim for next year’s Tour. As it is, he’s already whining in CyclingNooz about needing to lose five more pounds, and the dude’s almost 6-2, weighs 154, and he trains 600 miles a week. So what hope is there for you?”

“Riding more won’t cut it, huh?”

“No. The only thing that will cut it is eating less. Which you can’t really do, because you’ve already cut out the low-danglers. Shit that’s left is the real food.”

“Man, I’m munching on stuff all day. It’s all healthy, low cal stuff, though. Organic oatmeal blossoms fertilized by free-range goat turds. Coconut water filtrated with reverse osmosis purified carbon filters. Special oxygen tanks filled with air from the Himalayas. Sugar-free sucrose, even.”

“Yeah, you’re hosed. You can’t lose weight by eating.”

“But it’s all healthy!”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t. I just said you can’t lose weight by eating. With the dark and awful place you’re trying to reach, the only path is cutting back. Living with the hunger. The wretched hunger.”

“You’re pretty fucked up, dude.”

At that very moment we were passing by Fukdude’s house. “Hey, let’s see what Fukdude’s up to.”

Fukdude was parked in front of his computer, surrounded by fourteen bikes, two stacks of C++ and .NET programming manuals, a home gym pull-up bar rig, and an upper spine-neck traction rig. “Hey, dudes, what’s up? You dudes want to buy some old programming manuals?”

“I’ll pass,” I said.

“Trying to quit,” said Junkyard.

“What’s with the neck traction rig?” I asked.

“Fuck, dude, I’m selling it on eBay.”

“You break your neck?”

“Fuck no. I had it hooked up to the ceiling and secured to my chin with this cup-holder deal, then filled this bag with 40 pounds of water and suspended it from a rope through that pulley there.” He pointed to a pulley that had been screwed into the ceiling.

“Jesus,” I said. “What’s it for?”

“Aw fuck, dude, I was having neck pains. Got it at Save Rite Drugs on a clearance sale. It was rad except for you had to perch on the edge of your chair and not move when you’re typing. You fucking move it’ll shift the weight hanging off the rope and jerk you off the chair by your chin, fucking hang you to death. Fucking rad way to die, dude.”

“Did it work?”

“Fuck no it didn’t work. Why do you think I’m selling it?”

“Did it at least help?”

“Fuck no. I was working a couple days ago and the fucking bag sprung a leak. Forty pounds of fucking water on my servers, and suddenly the weight goes to zero and I’m fucking falling backwards off the chair with my chin hooked up to a rope on the ceiling. Fucking fell against that stack of programming books, kept me from hitting the floor. Fucking saved my life, dude, but one of the books flopped down and sheared off that new SRAM rear derailleur. Fucking shit’s expensive dude. Cheaper than a funeral, though. Had to get new servers, too. Sell you the neck rig and the books, and throw in a reconditioned derailleur for $250.”

“Can’t, man. I’m broke.”

Junkyard nodded. “Me, too.”

“So what’s up?”

“We were just talking about losing weight.”

“Aw fuck, dude, you don’t need to lose weight. Why you want to lose weight for? You already look sick. And I mean that in a bad way. Terrible way, actually.”

“Trying to up my power-to-weight ratio.”

“Fuck dude, you need to up your suckitup-to-whinyquitter ratio. You can’t fucking win bike races when all’s you do is give up. Why not just eat an extra tub of ice cream and deal with it? You suck. No one gives a fuck. Life’s too fucking short to be fucking passing on the baked donuts just so you can go from last to third-from-last.”

“I’ve got plans for next year,” I muttered.

“Fuck dude, plans for what? You can’t even beat Jules on the Switchbacks. He’s thirteen, dude. You’re almost fifty. In dog years, that’s like 300.”

He was making a lot of sense. “But I’m working out at the gym, too.”

“Gym? You? What the fuck for? Nobody ever won a fucking bike race at the gym. Gyms are for people who can’t race. Go push around a bunch of fucking steel plates and think you’re getting somewhere, while the break rolls up the fucking road. ‘But I got a six-pack!’ Dude, no one gives a shit. Eat the fucking donuts. Want a beer?”

“It’s nine a.m.”

“So? You’ll lose your next race whether you start drinking now, start drinking after dinner, or don’t drink anything at all, ever, until you die.”

“I think he’s right,” Junkyard offered. “And he does kind of know what he’s talking about.”

Fukdude had just won the national masters scratch race championships, and the previous weekend had beaten a stacked field in the masters points race, after which he did an 80-lap madison with several US Olympic team members racing, and managed not to finish dead last.

“Maybe I will have a donut, if you’ve got any,” I said. “But just one.”

Fukdude laughed. “I don’t have any fucking donuts, dude. I’m on a diet. Jules beat me on the Switchbacks on Saturday. Gotta up my power-to-weight.”

I think she hates me

October 2, 2012 § 54 Comments

I often forget how many people hate me because I ride a bike.

They are, however, everywhere. They don’t mind hurting or killing cyclists who get in their way. To these people, bicyclists deserve whatever awful thing happens to them. It’s the deserved price bicyclists pay for taking up space on the road.

The only good cyclist is a dead cyclist.

One such hater is Cher. Worth an estimated $600 million, and one of the most successful female recording artists of all time, she belongs to the vocal Hollywood celebrirati who passionately and aggressively promote their political views.

Despite this noble pedigree, I think she hates me, per the song.

Cher believes that cyclists don’t belong on Pacific Coast Highway, or at least the part of it that runs by her house. In her words, she hates them. They are “FKRS.” They live in a different universe. They are dangerous, and their act of riding bicycles is akin to Russian roulette.

Of course, it’s okay for the front of her house, which faces the ocean, to be constantly blocked with cars and service vehicles so that cyclists have to leave the relative safety of the shoulder and get out into the lane. And naturally, it’s okay for her to tweet and text and talk and drive.

Her sentiments are not restricted to the domain of a few rich celebrities. Read the comments in this thread, if you can. It will remind you that your life is worthless, and that you are more contemptible than an Escalade.

If you think this ersatz liberal cares about you and your bike, think again. Because, you know, “She’s got you, babe.” In her gunsights.


Double wow…

Triple wow…

Quadruple wow.

Why Cher matters

So it’s easy enough to write off, right? Just another super rich person telling everyone else to fuck off, kind of like a presidential campaign.

Except that, you know, it’s really not. Terence Connor, drummer for a Brooklyn band, died this morning in a hit and run accident while riding his bike. Whatever universe he was in, he’s in a different one now. As Cher might say, he played Russian roulette and lost.

A tad closer to home, Scott Folck was struck and killed by a motorist while riding early in the morning in San Diego County. Scott was 35, and as they say, he left behind a wife and two young children. As Cher might say, “Sic of these IDIOTS!”

Sara Leaf, age 29, was run over and killed by a stake-bed truck driver who turned right onto her a couple of weeks ago in Newport Beach. Oops. Cher might want to add “Cannot say enough about these Insane fks!”

Dr. Catherine Ritz, 57, an esteemed physician also from Newport Beach, was killed by a hit and run driver on September 15, the same weekend as Sara Leaf. She was recognized in her community for having treated thousands, yes thousands, of patients over the course of a distinguished career dedicated to helping the sick. In the words of Cher, “I HATE THEM!”

Two days ago, an unidentified cyclist was seriously injured, again by a hit and run driver in San Diego. Police are searching for the driver, whose license plate was identified by witnesses. Sometimes when you run over a human being, you know, you just keep going. It might have been a curb. To quote Cher, “omg Urrr! Yuck.”

And the list goes on and on and on, throughout the country, this country, where people in cars hate people on bicycles for being on bicycles, hate them so much that they kill them. Omg. Urrr! Yuck.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Where Am I?

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