June 27, 2013 § 24 Comments
I rolled into the velodrome on a flat rear tire, an empty stomach, and the beer needle buried on “Empty.” The first person I saw was Plotkin.
“Hey, Plotz, you drink beer?”
“Take me down to the supermarket so I can get a sixpack.”
“Nah. I want to stay and watch the races.”
“You’re kidding, right? The 55+ 2k ITT? Hockeystick’s the only entry anyway. Even with that ol’ beer belly, he still has to win.”
“Come on, Plotz.”
Plotz is a (beer loving) devoted Christian. “I’ll do it if you say ‘I believe in God.’” He gave an impish smile, settled back in his chair, and got ready to reconcentrate on Hockeystick.
“I believe in God. There. Let’s go.”
Plotkin jumped up. “You do not!”
“Do not what?”
“Believe in God! You’re an atheist!”
“Yeah. So? Let’s go get some beer. I upheld my end of the bargain. I’ll buy the beer anyway.”
He was really upset. “You were just saying it! You don’t really believe it!”
“Hold on, pal. You didn’t say I had to believe anything. You just said I had to say it.”
“It was implied!”
“That you had to actually believe in God, too!”
“Well, that’s mighty Christian of you. Promise to do something in exchange for something, then crawfish on me when I uphold my end of the bargain.”
“You’re a liar!”
“So? Was it also implied I can’t be a liar?”
“I only meant I’d do it if you really believed it.”
“Okay, you win.”
Plotkin settled back, still flustered.
“I believe in God. With all my heart. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior and I believe the Bible is the literal truth, even Leviticus 19:7.”
“Yeah, the law against cutting your hair or shaving. You’re going to hell, by the way, for that Gillette look you’re sporting.”
“You do not believe any of that.”
“I don’t now, but I did a few seconds ago. C’mon, let’s go get some beer and argue about whether or not we’re going to have stone Fukdude to death during his hour record attempt for violating Leviticus 19:19.”
“Which one is that?”
“The law against wearing clothes of more than one fabric.”
Plotkin waved me off like a pesky gnat and went back to the race.
Tiptoeing on needles
I had arrived two and a half hours before Fukdude was going to try and break the U.S. national one-hour speed record for left-handed myopics with astigmatisms in the right eye under 6’3″ but taller than 5’11 1/2″ PBF-insufficient men aged 40-45 Category. As Fukdude had said earlier, “It’s a small pool but everyone in it is fukkin insane, dude.”
Before long Fukdude himself showed up. I was incredibly respectful of the awesome pressure I knew he must feel, and stayed away at first, not wanting to unbalance his finely tuned mental condition, which was almost at fever pitch. After all, he’d invited the press, rented out the entire velodrome, paid for three USA Cycling officials, paid for the college educations of the children of his coach, his dietician, his chain-lube dude in Colorado, and the entire stateside staff of Fast Forward Wheels, USA. Plus, he’d invited his friends and family, including the Bonganator and Fireman, both of whom were guaranteed to show up with a pony keg apiece jammed down the leg of their jeans.
However, just to make the pressure absolutely unendurable, he’d also invited Greg St. Cinema and Smokin’ Hot CU Tomorrow, he a pro Hollywood cameraman and art photographer, and she a smokin’ hot babe in tight jeans with unreal skills as a sports photographer. Any possible flail on Fukdude’s part would result in photographic evidence (half-life of digital images = 3.4 trillion years), and worse, looking bad in front of an entire gallery of bike babes tricked out in tight pants and chesty t-shirts.
The fever pitch
I finally walked over to Fukdude, nervously, hoping not to disturb him. “Hey, man,” I said timidly in an obsequious voice, my eyes averted so as not to rattle him.
“Hey dude!” he said.
I jumped. “Don’t want to bother you, I know you’re getting into the zone, but…”
“The zone, I know you’re doing the athlete visualization focus thing and…”
“What the fuk you talking about, dude? Hey, check out my chain. Rad, huh?” I was shaking out of nervousness as Fukdude threw his bike up on the rollers. What if he crashed off the rollers and broke his collarbone?
Fukdude was instantly pounding away. “So hey, dude, hope I don’t fukkin flail. That would be lame, huh?” At that instant his bike wobbled on the rollers and skittered off the edge. He laughed, yanked it back, and kept going. I almost fainted.
“How’re the legs?” I asked.
“Fuk, who knows? Doesn’t matter now, does it?” He grinned and continued his warm up. So much for the finely-tuned, highly strung athlete.
It’s a screamathon
Shortly after 4:00 PM, Fukdude left the starting gate. The velodrome, which is normally not even full for World Cup events featuring the greatest track riders on earth, wasn’t full for this, either, by a long shot. Still, the legion of Fukdude Followers had made the trip and were already pretending to be interested in watching a grown man with the shoulders of a pre-pubescent junior high school girl ride around in circles by himself, drenched in sweat and suffering like a dog for an hour.
Hockeystick was at the mike, and even though Motoman, Bonganator, and Fireman had showed up with liberal quantities of cheap beer, dispensed for free, it promised to be boring beyond belief. Every once in a while Hockeystick would chime in with an anecdote about Oscar Egg’s hour record attempt in ’29 or remind the crowd that Fukdude’s favorite singer was Doris Day, but aside from those fascinating bits of commentary, people were nodding off.
Then Hockeystick’s wife leaned over to him and said, “Tell people to come down to the rail and cheer, for goodness’s sake!”
Whatever Hockeystick thought about the suggestion, he didn’t dare gainsay it, so he began to call folks down to the balustrade. And they came. Within moments the morgue-like atmosphere of people so bored they wanted to kill themselves became a screaming, frothing, wailing, clapping, and sideboard-banging house of mayhem.
At a relentless 19-second-per-lap tempo, we began screaming ourselves hoarse and pounding our palms into swollen lumps of meat every time he came by. With half the crowd on the far side, half on the other, and the other half completely drunk, the place was electric. Down on the track G$ and MM screamed and gesticulated like people having a seizure. Brian G. had handed out several cowbells, and as Fukdude buried himself into his 28 mph+ pace the entire velodrome went from Bleak House to Fire on the Mountain.
The pain in the brain
By the time Fukdude hit the 45-minute mark his face was distorted into the look of someone who’s pulling his own teeth out with a rusty pair of pliers and doesn’t know why, but can’t stop. At one point he lost focus for a split second and shot up to the blue line, then over-corrected and clipped a foam cushion, but with that exception the electronic “beep” of the timer told us that he was right on schedule. That certainty didn’t dim the screaming and yelling one bit.
With a handful of minutes to go, Fukdude sunk an already buried needle as deeply as it could go and from some dark, unhealthy, generally-to-be-avoided place within himself he cranked it up another couple of miles an hour for the remainder of the hour. When the timer marked one hour he sat up to thundering applause, drunken screams, clattering cowbells, and the silent fantasy of Hockeystick at the mike, imagining himself as the next Hour Record Holder By The Dude With The Most Massive Beer Gut Ever.
Davy Dawg peeled Fukdude off his bike, and for an instant that sweat-soaked, frail, girlish, wispish, 145-lb. waif held barely together with a few stringy muscles and even stringier tendons, looked even frailer. We all peered into his eyes, trying to grasp, even for a second, what he’d endured in this event that Eddy Merckx swore had taken years off his career, if not his life.
Dawg thrust the mike up to Fukdude’s quivering lips. “Any words for the crowd, Kev?” he asked.
Brief pause. Long breath. Drizzle of sweat pooling on the floor. “Fuck, dude,” said Fukdude. “That was hard.”