Start list for MT4

October 20, 2011 § 6 Comments

Fuckdude: Spiritual leader of cycling in the South Bay. Strengths: Climbing, time trails, sprinting, herding cats, babysitting, total mastery of the word “fuck” in all its forms and declensions. One national championship in 2011 and multiple state titles. Weaknesses: Less than 150 road miles leading up to MT4. Prediction: May spend part of Day 4 in the paddywagon.

Fireman: Mops up the end of the peloton, changes flats, hands out spare diapers, tells the crybabies to “Man up, you pussy.” Strengths: Sprinting, wheelsucking, utter and total fearlessness. The only MT4 participant who has an actual man’s job and doesn’t earn his living tapping out crap on a computer. Weaknesses: Beer. Prediction: Will likely take the win at the county line and at the bar.

Davy Dawg: Breaks wind at the front for hours at a time. Not that kind! Strong as an ox, friendly, patient, handsome, best tattoo, never whimpers. Strengths: Sprinting, time trailing, climbing. Weaknesses: Too nice to his enemies. Prediction: He’s bailing after Day 4 due to his alleged job, so will be expected to rain down punishment, especially on Days 2, 3, and 4. Battle to the death with Fireman for the Big Sur sprint.

Gonzo: Renders medicinal care to those in need of herbal remedies. Earned his star in the MT Hall of Shame when his chain exploded on the first climb of the first day on MT3. Strengths: Climbing, steady and strong in a paceline. Weaknesses: Chains. Prediction: He’ll check that fucking chain so many times on Tuesday you’ll think he’s practicing to become a metallurgist.

Woodenhead: Marches to the beat of a different drummer, and her name is Mrs. Woodenhead. Earned his star in the Hall by sprinting up and over Topanga on Day 5, jettisoning the IF WHQ celebrations and victory parade in order to change poopy diapers. Strengths: Anything involving lots of gravity. Weaknesses: White shorts, hills. Prediction: His cell phone will “break” on the afternoon of Day 1.

Bluebeard: Earned the fury of the Fireman on MT2 by dyeing his beard orange. Earned the fear of the LA-San Jose Southwest flight crew and everyone else on MT3 by dyeing his beard and hair blue. “Had to match my kit,” he said. Strengths: Beer cubed. Weaknesses: Cold, rain, mud, training, anything before 9:00 a.m. Prediction: He’ll enjoy every second off the bike.

Randommeur: Annually voted “Most Likely to Die in a Fiery Crash” by those who ride near him, Randommeur is famed for the random unpredictability of his bike handling. Friendly, tough, and recovering from a busted hip (lost focus for a second, whoops). Earned his star in the Hall by bringing his wife on MT2. Shamefulness heightened when she rode better than most of the alleged men. Strengths: Endurance. Weaknesses: Straight lines. Prediction: He will take the lid off at least one can of whupass. Whether he can get it out of the can without crashing remains to be seen.

StageOne: If Fuckdude is the spiritual leader of South Bay cycling, StageOne is its insignia. StageOne, also occasionally called “Junkyard” due to the numerous metal parts in his skeleton from previous crashes, is beloved by all. Strengths: Grit, good humor, toughness, Apple products. Weaknesses: Poor eyesight, recovering from a full elbow rebuild. Prediction: A prescription set of cycling glasses would be nice.

Hockeystick: Happiest guy in the history of cycling, ever. Has “happy” moments where he fiddles with his buddies’ brakes before a gruesome descent and similar brainfarts. Would ride his bike to the ends of the earth if you gave him an unlimited beer gift card, a cell phone, and King Harold to change his flats. Strengths: Real estate. Weaknesses: Leaps before he looks. Prediction: Will be just as happy on Day 5 as he was on Day 1.

Pratfall: Loves to ride his bike, but usually opts for work instead. Responsible, successful, tall, handsome, and the kind of stand-up guy any woman would love to have. Unfortunately, we’re not women and his dedication to work means that by the middle of Day 2 he will be one hurting puppy. Strengths: Mortgages, tuition. Weaknesses: Well, yes. Prediction: Last to a fight, first to a feast.

Peachfuzz: On MT3, when he was 15, Peachfuzz finished Day 1 one by collapsing on the hotel room floor, curling into a fetal ball, and sleeping for 12 hours straight in his sodden, salty, smelly bike suit. One year later he’s kicking ass on all comers up the Switchbacks, winning races in Belgium, and using MT4 as a leg stretcher prior to the national team training camp in San Diego. Strengths: Youth. Weaknesses: None. Prediction: Everyone else will be racing for second.

Hairball: Father of Peachfuzz. Quiet, solid, steady, last year he was a chaperone, this year he’ll be holding on for dear life when Peachfuzz hits the climbs. Strengths: He can slow down Peachfuzz by threatening to withhold his allowance or making him do his math homework. Weaknesses: Peachfuzz can beat him up and take the money anyway. Prediction: We’ll hear a lot of “That’s my boy!” for five days.

Breathanarian: 17 year-old junior racer on his first Man Tour. Breathanarianism is a subset of veganism. Its adherents only eat food products made from air. He weighs twelve pounds and is 5’11”. Strengths: Climbs rather quickly. Weaknesses: Bogs down in LA, where there hasn’t been any air for the last few decades. Prediction: Overwhelming hunger and survival instinct will have him gnawing raw bacon by the end of Day 3.

Iron Mike: As he’s the only adult on MT4, he’s been assigned to look after Breathanarian. Iron Mike limits his consumption to food items that never had a face, and has the rather unusual trait of always doing what he says he’s going to do. Strengths: Endurance. Weaknesses: Kindness and basic human decency. Prediction: Thorough preparation with several 118-mile rides under his belt, he’ll be as strong on Day 4 as on Day 1. Remember last year? I do…

M8: The only MT4 participant with a personal assistant, M8 got in all his MT4 training miles during MT3. He was spotted once this year on the Pier Ride, albeit briefly. M8 still holds the record for the worst hungover, least fit mantourist who still got up and rode the next day. Strengths: None observed, ever. Weaknesses: Too many to list. Prediction: M8 will still be the most popular guy on the ride, and after a few Advil and a hearty barf or three, he’ll be good as new.

Dr. Jekyll: Part of the IF Norcal contingent, by day Dr. Jekyll invents new drugs for a major pharmaceutical firm. By day off, however, he’s Mr. Hyde of the hills. Skinny, fit, and a lover of punishment, Mr. Hyde is the bastard who came up with the route for Day 1 of MT3 which saw a selection of mantourists bundled into the paddywagon in order to get over the second big climb. Strengths: Uphills. Weaknesses: Got to be careful here, he’s my roomie this year. Prediction: He’ll be battling out the 2nd place KOM with Pretty Boy (1st already reserved for Peachfuzz).

Canyon Bob: The nicest guy there is. Simply that. Oh, and he’s been doing all the Saturday rides, so he’s got the legs to rip yours off. Strengths: Funny jokes as you’re buried in the red, effectively popping you off the back; climbing; time trailing; pacelines; CPR; helping you change your flat as the group rides off in the distance. Weaknesses: Canyons. Prediction: Canyon Bob and Iron Mike will duke it out for honors as to who changes more flats for lazy cheapasses who showed up with threadbare tires.

Pilot: If there’s one guy you want at the helm when you’re plunging off a cliff, it’s the Pilot. He’s so good that he could literally steer your sorry ass back up onto the lip of the cliff, get you out of the gravel and back onto the road. Wicked sense of humor matched by a nasty, brutal, punishing, ugly, vengeful pair of legs. Strengths: Life vests, seat belts, oxygen masks. Weaknesses: First 30 miles of Day 3, MT3. Prediction: He will be rolling like a fast fucking freight train.

Chief: The Internet doesn’t have enough space to list the accomplishments of the Chief, formerly master of all he surveyed. Each year Chief obtains the maximum score on the inverse proportional scale of training to enjoyment. Prepares for MT  exclusively with excessive libations of firewater, Chief has never met a hill he couldn’t say something nasty about. Strengths: Hard liquor, client development on coffee/PCH rides in the middle of the workday, delegation. Weaknesses: CMC’s, paperwork, hills, anything over 15 mph. Prediction: Chief will form a rearguard contingent with M8, Sta-Puft, Woodenhead, Bluebeard, and one or two others ensuring that no one gets left behind.

Pretty Boy: Dresses only in Rapha, with lots of white. Changes kits twice daily so the icky sweat doesn’t build up on his Rapha undershirts. Pretty Boy is a radiologist, so when anyone needs to have their MRI or x-ray film read on the tour, he’s always available. If you’re bleeding or hurt, though, tough shit. Pretty Boy trained for 6 weeks prior to the tour in Austria, where he reports that “the default gradient seems to be 18%.” Strengths: Climbs like a beast; KOM’d MT3 to my eternal chagrin. Weaknesses: The front of the peloton, icky dirt, non-premium cycling kits, poorly manicured toes and feet. Prediction: He’s the only one who will give Peachfuzz a true run for his money.

Silenttreatment: We rode together for five days last year, and have ridden together a couple of hundred miles in 2011. I still can’t tell you the first thing about him. Dude is quiet, which is obviously his strategy to avoid having anything posted about him on the world-famous PV Cycling blog. Strengths: Keeping his mouth shut. Weaknesses: Voicing his opinion. Prediction: Lots of 1 and 2-day pauses between sentences.

Methuselah: Living proof that despite what’s written in the Bible, the earth is more than 4,500 years old. Methuselah was raised in impoverished South Africa, where the only way a man could make his way in the world was through hard work, dedication, clever business skills, hustle, and the forced labor of 25 million humans deprived of basic human rights. Methuselah trains 600 miles per week. On MT3 he took inordinate pleasure in watching his 40 y/o son slink into the paddywagon while he sturdily pounded through every stinking mile. Strengths: Perseverance in the face of adversity. Weaknesses: Perseverance in the face of common sense. Prediction: He will persevere.

Illtrainlater: Happy-go-somewhat-lucky son of Methuselah, he has carried on the family tradition of thriftiness, hard work, dedication, and self-sacrifice except on days of the week that end in “day.” He was a no-show on MT2, but trained hard for MT3 by showing up with a case of bronchitis. Illtrainlater recovered and on Day 5 shattered the group with a 37-mph tow into the headwind, leaving dear old dad choking on the fumes. Strengths: Tomorrow. Weaknesses: Today. Prediction: He’ll show up ready to drill it on the flats.

Bigbowls: Never stops for anyone, never waits, and always gets a head start by sneaking off ahead of schedule. Famed for tackling the hardest rides around: the Death Ride, Son of Death, Mt. Everest Challenge, Breathless Agony, Gonad Pulp-Crusher, Smashed Liver of Misery, etc. Great sense of humor, never whines or complains, and is of the “Happy to be on My Bicycle”  tribe. Seen all over the South Bay at all times of the year, and will show up for the tour in fighting trim. Strengths: Tough as hell, endurance, labor disputes. Weaknesses: Leaving on time. Prediction: He’ll sneak off early out of Big Sur, but we’ll catch him anyway.

Timidator: Younger than Methuselah, but still older than dirt. Timidator is famed for putting his head down and gutting it out. He’s the quintessential guy without a quitting gene, gotta bury him to beat him. Quiet and thoughtful, I’ve talked with him before about the tattoo on his leg. It’s a moving and powerful story, and shows the depth of his love as a father. Do yourself a favor and ask him about it sometime. Strengths: Tough but gentle. Weaknesses: He’s hanging out with us. Prediction: He’ll finish up this man tour just like he’s finished the others, and we’ll enjoy every minute of it we spend with him.

Twigman: Often puts family, job, and financial independence ahead of cycling, unpaid bills, fucking off, and swilling beer with Fireman, M8, Fuckdude, and Gonzo. Twigman would roar up the climbs if he rode more than twice before Man Tour, but as they say, if grandma had balls she’d be grandpa. Strengths: Suffering, hanging out. Weaknesses: Day 3 onward. Prediction: He’ll suffer like a dog, and love every minute of it.

Rocky: First-timer on Man Tour, Rocky hails from Colorado and is coming down to the flatlands to show us how real men ride bikes. Since none of the Man Tour vets are real men, no one really wants to know. No intel on Rocky, unfortunately. Is he wide of girth? Twiggy of leg? Saggy of gut? Iron of will? Strengths: Better be hills or he’ll get a star in the Hall. Weaknesses: Unknown. Prediction: He’s our wildcard.

Triple: Bad news for Triple haters out there…he ripped my fucking legs off on Sunday going up the Reservoir to the Domes. He’s lean, mean, and has obviously had the sex spigot turned off for a while. Either that or he’s wearing a testosterone patch the size of a blanket. Strengths: Uphill, endurance. Weaknesses: Wine. That last time at King Harold’s they had to pour him into the car. Prediction: Those who’ve been slacking off on the hills will be put to the sword.

Coupe DeVille: A former marathoner and Man Tour veteran, Coupe DeVille is tough, fit, fast, and has been logging his MT4 miles religiously. In the Pilot/Canyon Bob category of “great guy to ride with,” he never fades and never whines. Strengths: Long efforts, pacelines. Weaknesses: Wine. Prediction: Get him and Triple a box of Napa’s finest and they’ll be no trouble at all.

Douggie: Made the fatal mistake of asking not be nicknamed “Douggie.” Otherwise, overall he’s one of the fittest and best-prepared Man Tourists of 2011. He logs the miles, does speed work, gets in the climbing, and frankly could have done MT4 in August with no problems at all. Strengths: Climbing, pacelines. Weaknesses: Doesn’t like to sleep on the rollaway cot in Big Sur. Prediction: His train will run on time.

Coolhand: Never flustered, even when he’s flatted and is twenty minutes off the back with me on Day 4 before we hit the 101. Takes a back seat to no one in the beer department, never complains, just puts his head down and takes his beating like a man. If he’s there at the sprint finish, he’ll pop you. Strengths: Sprinting, chugging. Weaknesses: Pasta. Prediction: Fast finish in Big Sur.

Fishnchips: Originally from Wales, which is a small town in England filled with stupid people, Fishnchips spent his first years in America unlearning Welsh and learning how to speak proper Americlish. He can now be understood by most adults before his second beer. When he’s not learning to talk English goodly, he’s pounding on the bike. Strengths: Language. Weaknesses: Near-sighted senior citizen motorists. Prediction: He will spend much of the time wondering if the tradeoff of good year-round weather in California for intelligent company in the UK was really worth it.

Gritty: By day a boring accountant, and by night an even more boring accountant. Ugliest pedal stroke known to man. However, he backs up the ugly stroke with some killer speed and unbeatable toughness. Loves nasty riding conditions. He’s pegged a silver in the national men’s elite crit champs before, and knows how to ride a bike. Came within a tire of taking the LA County Line on MT3, and is as cagey as he is tough. Strengths: Last-second kicks, caginess. Weaknesses: Beauty. Prediction: He’s ALWAYS in shape.

Stay-Puft: Used to ride outdoors, but nowadays he trains religiously indoors. Unfortunately, his religious discipline is a tad spotty, so in the last six months he’s only logged half an hour or so of prayer time. Strengths: XXL. Weaknesses: Uphills, fast speeds, pacelines, endurance, sprinting, time trailing, etc. Prediction: MT4 will be a living hell.

Toronto: Deprogrammed triathlete, Toronto is fit year-round, even the winter he spent in Canada when he wore out the local gym’s spin machines. Never out of shape, always competitive, Toronto spanked me badly at last year’s club time trial. I’ve gotten over it, but not really. Cheerful, has a thing about pain. Likes it when it hurts. Strengths: Time trailing, endurance, pacelines. Weaknesses: Butter, lard.

Bigsurf: Biker, big wave rider, multi-sport athlete, and MT4 official photographer, Bigsurf drives one of the paddywagons and helps the mantourists change flats, air up tires, get a snack when they tummies hungwy, and makes sure the rolling entourage works flawlessly. There would be no Man Tour without him and Anchor. Well, actually, there might be, but it would be an unmitigated disaster.

Anchor: Twigman’s dad, Anchor, like Bigsurf, holds the whole thing together. He drives the other paddywagon and provides Kleenex, Band-Aids for booboos, and sanitary napkins for the mantourists who are habbing a bewy hawd day. Anchor is there for you, whether you’re rolling like a stud or, like Major Bob, smashing into someone else at 35mph.

Artiste: Famed for his artistic creations, Artiste sees everything slightly differently. Nonetheless, he’s always a blast to pedal with, and is one of the many South Bay cyclists who also have surfer cred. He’s generally known for not doing wild-ass crazy shit on the bike, and doing his turn when it’s time. Strengths: Dark blues, pack-dwelling. Weaknesses: Pitchers that still have anything left in them. Prediction: He’s known for getting in his MT miles, so it should be a relatively painless slog. Relatively.

Postal: I’ve not ridden with him much, so am going to have just make this up. He’s um, well, uh, known for, ah, his overwhelming, uh, and his impressive, er, things that he’s done while cycling in the, um, places he’s been known to ride, and is often considered to be, well, one of the people who, uh, everyone thinks is the best, um, one who does the things he’s good at. Strengths: Ah, climbing, and, um, sprinting. Weaknesses: Er, time trailing. Prediction: He’ll, um, sort of, well, you know.

Cadillac Draft: Cadillac is much beloved on group rides of every kind due to his large presence and ability to create the Rolls-Royce, or rather the Cadillac of all drafts. Once you tuck in behind him, your wattage will drop to zero. He’s tall, he’s wide, he’s happy, and as Bob Seeger once sang, provides “shelter against the wind.” Strengths: Pushing away massive amounts of bothersome air. Weaknesses: Tends to tire out sooner rather than later. Prediction: Fistfights will be breaking out from Day 3 onward to see who gets his wheel.

Wankmeister: Adherent to the “Three Ups” training method of Build Up, Blow Up, and Give Up. Currently in build phase. Blow phase typically happens middle of Day 1. Give phase runs from November-September, with a brief training valley reserved for Jaeger’s FTR in January and a thorough drubbing at Boulevard and Punchbowl. Strengths: Typing, Facebook, procrastinating. Weaknesses: Success. Prediction: Will annoy the shit out of everyone and come up short. Again.

MT4 Day Five: The end of innocence

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

By day five, if we were tomatoes in the produce department, we would be bruised, spoiled, and after the briefest inspection by the produce boy, tossed in the dumpster. Sunrise, heralded by Hallmark cards as “The first day of the rest of your life,” rings in a dull, aching misery for what you can only hope will be the last day you ever, ever, ever see a bicycle.

The clever roomie with whom you so gaily chatted on Day 1 is a boring, grating twit whose every utterance unleashes a barely restrained, primal urge to strangle. The lovely scenery of California, so awe-inspiring in Carmel and Big Sur, has become a blurred, hostile moonscape of asphalt, road striping, and flat tires changed at inopportune times. The bravado and heroic imagery of the Man Tour has had its chintzy veneer stripped away, revealing what everyone else saw from the beginning: a creaky bunch of saggy, wrinkly, balding, ill-tempered, pot-bellied drunks who are too cheap to vacation in Italy.

And a hundred nasty miles still await.

Making matters worse, the biggest prize of the entire tour, the one that carries bragging rights, eternal glory, and spiteful resentment from everyone else until next year, sits at the sixty-mile mark: the L.A. County Line on PCH. There will be a fierce attack somewhere in SLO, perhaps earlier, where the group shatters and a breakaway emerges. From the entrance onto PCH, past the Rock at Pt. Mugu, and all the way to the county line there will be a surging, pounding, frenetic race between a handful of wrung out, surly survivors.

However, a nasty surprise awaits those who aren’t following this blog: the county line sign has been stolen, and all that remains is the wooden post itself. The only way to recognize the finish line is by the abrupt change in pavement color, where it shifts from the thrifty Ventura County road department’s hot mix of dirt, holes, straw, glass, nails, and warm tar into the firm, dark, hardened paving of Manly Los Angeles County. The canny victor in 2011 will be the one who lunges for the line while the other peckerheads are sitting back, craning their necks to the side in vain to spy the nonexistent green sign. Will the Wankmeister claim his second consecutive victory, or will the Fireman douse his parade with the Lethal Hose of Sprint Fury?

Come on pretty boy, gonna make you a man

The group of weary warriors regroups for lunch at Trancas and then pushes on towards home. The familiar landmarks become sharper–the funny bump in Malibu just past Cross Creek; the big cracks in the road near Moonshadows; the nasty bump in the road just over the hill past the Getty; the grate on the shoulder at the last light before Temescal…and with each landmark the exhaustion fades and the singularity of the accomplishment begins to sink in and rejuvenate tired legs, except for Woodenhead, whose wife has been calling every thirty minutes for the last two days telling him that he’d better quit fucking off and get home and help change the poopy diapers.

Suddenly it’s a victory parade all the way to the Ironfly World Headquarters. Friendships re-blossom. Well-wishers like G$ meet us on PCH or at Will Rogers and escort us back through the Center of the Known Universe and on to WHQ. Knoll tips a cup of Peets in our direction. Lies that, a few hours ago were mere middle of the road whoppers become full-blown fields of bullshit. The longing for beer wells up in the back of one’s throat again, and it’s just in the nick of time, as Mel has tapped a fresh one at the World HQ. The arthritis, achey prostates, and Ben Gay joint rubs are an ancient memory, at least until we get home. MT4…in the books!

MT4 Day Four: Stick your fork in it

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Day 4 rolling out from Morro Bay is very hard. Last year it was cold, and it rained mud. Cold mud. No one sprang out of bed, there was just one long, creaky ass-drag down to the dining room. Our bodies had gone into survival mode, which meant that unlike Day One, when people picked and chose their way around the food, no one much cared what was on the buffet line. How hungry were we? We cleared out an entire giant tureen of oatmeal. No one eats oatmeal, a staple of prisons, who has a choice. By Day Four, no one had a choice, except Old Dirt, who grew up so poor in rural South Africa that oatmeal was considered fancy food.

Day 4 is also called the Queen Stage, but not because of our celebrity dresser, Pretty Boy, who never wears the same Rapha kit twice. It’s called the Queen Stage because by now your ass feels like it’s been violated by a gang of angry queens, and because it’s the longest day–120 miles–with a hard climb to get over to the coast followed by a 30-mile hammerfest along the 101 all the way into Santa Barbara.

By now it’s the crybaby tour…

Day 4 is the day that, cold and wet, no one pretends to be happy they came. No one is enjoying the cool teameraderie of wearing color-coordinated cycling kits. No one is enjoying the freedom of the open road. No one thinks this is fun. Chief has begun speed-dialing his associates to find out which one will be driving up the coast to pick him up. Gonzo’s herbal medications no longer medicate. Even the happy people are miserable.

With so many people so wet, so cold, so unhappy, and so dirty, what could be a better time than Day 4 to attack the exhausted group and make a solo break for the coast? No time, that’s when. So there we were, with three guys splintering the field, up the road in a breakaway, when Major Major slammed into the back of my bike, shattering his fork and showing everyone why, when you ride a bicycle, it’s important to wear those stupid little gloves: because if you don’t you’ll be skipping along the pavement on your skinless palms.

I’ve been told that carbon fails catastrophically

Major Major didn’t die, but everyone stopped, the epic breakaway came to naught, and we regrouped again at the 101. The final 30 miles were sheer hell. Cars blowing by at 90, nails, rocks, cracks, loaded diapers, glass, wind, rollers, and a nasty, furious chase all the way to the hotel. Iron Mike flatted a couple of times just to test my tire-changing skills (they suck). The threesome of him, Fuckdude, and I flailed along for miles until Fuckdude threw in the towel. We never caught the main group.

The only thing I remember from that evening was the nasty sight of fifteen stinking old men piled into a tiny outdoor hot tub filled with tepid water and gonorrhea. I sat twelve feet away, but wound up with a funny drip just from looking at them. Dinner was an enormous chicken burrito for three wrapped in a green tortilla. I had two of them. Urp.

Weekend South Bay cycling notes

October 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

I'm talking to you, shithead!

Ride Single File You Asshole Lawbreakers Dept: Rolling down PCH early Saturday morning you certainly expect the occasional hostile and ignorant motorist who is returning stoned from the Friday night bash that just ended, and upset that you’re taking up a few inches of the six wide open lanes. What you don’t expect (not so much, anyway), is the CHP patrol car going in the opposite direction who turns on his PA and screams, “Single File! Cyclists Must Ride Single File!” Uh, no, Gomer, we mustn’t.

D'oh, I did it again!

Sometimes They Jump Left, So I Swerved Right Dept: A clever PV housewife avoided one of the dreaded “leaping trees” that jumped out in front of her on PV North this morning, forcing her to hit another tree that was camouflaged on the side of the road as, of all things, a tree. Sometimes you can’t win for losing, especially when you’re a loser. Who knew that sexting while drunk on the way to church could be such a pain?

But I Told the Guy in Front of Me Dept: Yes, but he’s a wanker and doesn’t know your name, which is why, when you flat on the big heroic ride to the Rock on Saturdays you need to shout, preferably at the top of your lungs, “Hey you motherfuckers, I flatted!” Someone will (maybe) wait for you, at a minimum the group will soft pedal, and you’ll avoid a 15-mile TT back to the peloton. Moral #2, don’t get too cozy at the back, thinking about how effortless it is. Bad things happen there, and it’s well known that Bike Karma for Lazyfucks does most of her damage to those who purposely dwell far from the front.

Gotcha covered.

Wingman Dept: Manly, meaty pulls at the front by MJ, CL, and the uber-Wingman, Knoll. Even Cedric got into the action at the end of the ride, when it was needed most, after someone shouted, “Get the fuck up there next to Craig and take a pull, you sorry sonofabitch!” The uncouth shouter has yet to be I.D.’d but we’re working on it. To his credit, Cedric pulled like a champion all the way from the Marina back to the Center of the Known Universe. Kudos to CG and VV for a ride well done.

Objective Proof that You Suck Dept: A 12 year-old showed up on the Donut Ride and placed top 10 on the Switchbacks. Everyone present was either deeply impressed or incredibly humiliated, or both. He was about as tall as the seat on my 58 cm bike, weighed about 65 pounds, and laid the wood to what are now some badly bruised egos. Way to go, Peachfuzz! Send us a text when you reach puberty so that we can sell our bikes and take up golf.

Worst Endorsement of a Bike, Ever Dept: JW bragging at the Home Depot Center about how the new Venge was so good that he “dropped the field on the descent at the Pedro crit.” Note to JW: you hold the land speed record for descending in California, in excess of 55 mph on Tuna Canyon. When you drop people on the descent, it’s not because of the bike you’re riding, it’s because of the crap building up in the chamois of everyone trying to follow your wheel.

Next year they'll have strippers.

Smartest Bike Marketing Idea Since the Yellow Jersey Dept: The Home Depot Center sold beer at elite nationals. I hope I don’t have to explain this one.

Gave It All We Had Dept: Davy Dawg, Hockey Stick, Fuck Dude, Old Fuck, Lets Fuck, and CB all acquitted the South Bay with honor at elite track nationals. Kudos to you for having the guts and the legs to throw down with the best in the country.

Pedaling for a Cause Dept: G$ and a host of other South Bay worthies joined the MS 150 ride this weekend to raise money for them to go out and fuck around all weekend on their bikes, er, I mean, to help raise money for a worthy cause. MS is a devastating illness that afflicts about 300,000 people in the US alone. Click here to donate. The efforts of our local cyclists have raised tens of thousands–thanks, all!

Comin' at you!

That Big Black Thing You’re Behind is an 8-Ball Dept: Several zillion miles have been racked up in anticipation of MT4, with certain unnamed individuals now customizing their base miles with sharp, intensive hillwork in and about the PV Peninsula. If you’re just now getting around to thinking about swearing off the Saturday morning beer, there’s still time to join us for our weekly roll out to the Rock. Downside is you’ll have to get up and be on your bike at a time usually known to you as R.E.M. Upside is that when MT4 begins, rather than dying a thousand horrific deaths you’ll only die, say 973 or so.

MT4 Day Three: Dropping your tranny

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

The service people at DCH Torrance Toyota are so helpful. My wife brought in our cherry 2002 Camry for a check-up, which only has 188,000 miles on it, a few cubic yards of rust and a dent or two. A nice Japanese lady bringing an old car to the dealer to “see if everything is okay” is like bringing a suitcase of cash to an Orange County loan mod company and asking if they can “get your home loan modified.”

A couple of hours after she dropped it off, we got the call, replete with the serious, official voice of someone calling to tell you of a death in the family.

“Hello, ma’am. I’ve got some bad news about your Camry. What with all that high mileage, your transmission seals have given out. It’s leaking fluid and we’re going to have to replace them. Unfortunately that means we’ll have to pull out the entire transmission.”

My wife was frightened; the only seals she’d ever seen were at the zoo. How had they gotten into our transmission? I had more practical concerns. We had just sold our youngest son’s French horn and laptop computer to pay for my new set of Zipp 404’s, so money was tight. “What’s that going to cost?” she asked.

“You’re looking at about $1,800, ma’am.”

The phone was on speaker and she saw the color drain out of my face as I thought about not being able to get the 2012 Ironfly kit and special-edition StageOne bib shorts with matching jersey. “Can we call you back?” she said.

That tranny ain’t broken, sir, but the car sure is a P.O.S.

Next day I was on the phone with Luis, who runs Auto Express, just behind the carwash on Hawthorne and Spencer. “Sure, I can take a look,” he said. “Replacing the seal will run you about $900.” That afternoon he phoned back. “Well, sir, I’ve looked it over, top to bottom, and your transmission is fine. There’s no leak, the fluid level is full, and the transmission is functioning perfectly. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to charge you $90 for the work. But the car, you know, it’s not in the greatest shape.”

I shelled out that $90 so quickly that it gave me paper cuts, and shook his hand as I trembled for joy. I could now tell my wife that he’d replaced the seals, then pocket the car repair money buy the kits, and still have money left over for important cycling goods. It occurred to me that the contrast between Luis and DCH couldn’t be more stark: He worked on Sunday. They were closed. He charged half. They charged double. He supported his business through honesty. Their business model was based on something less noble. About that time I noticed that the a.c. was no longer working.

Your transmission is fine, but the rest of you is not

Day 3 of MT4 is different things to different mantourists. For those who have logged the miles and put in their saddle time, it’s the first day the legs start off a bit heavy. For those who just did the minimum, the legs haven’t recovered from Day 2, and it’s going to be a tough slog. For those whose first hard ride of the year was two days before, the morning of Day 3 brings the nasty, grim, sickening realization that you’re stuck in a hinterland hundreds of miles from home, you’re sore, angry, filled with self-pity and loathing the prospect of looking at another man’s fat, sweaty ass for the next three days.

Day 3 leaves Big Sur Inn straight up a long climb that begins rather hard and quickly becomes intensely painful. Sta-Puf hits the bottom of the gradient and after the first 500 feet begins to sweat a strange, unhealthy looking substance resembling mucous, blood, urine, and beer. Everyone sprints by Sta-Puf so that they don’t get hit by the slime when he explodes. Adding to the humiliation, MT4’s 75 year-old human prune dances atop the pedals, easily outdistancing those who are forty years younger and a hundred times more hung over.

Cheeseburgers, fries, and collapse at Ragged Point

After cresting the first climb, the road rolls up and down along the coast for 55 miles. With steep pitches, short drops, and one long, leg-breaking ascent before the rest stop at Ragged Point, this section of MT4 is perhaps the toughest. So far. The only food items at the rest area are burgers and lard, and everyone is so tired and famished that they bolt first and cramp later.

The dismal group remounts, cold and stiff, and the real slog begins. The problem, people start to realize, isn’t the transmission, it’s the overall vehicle, which is shot. For another forty miles the mantourists push into the wind, sour, tired, cranky, angry at themselves for signing up for the punishment, and angrier at their wives for letting them. By the time the thoroughly beaten contingent rolls into Morro Bay, no one cares that it’s beautiful beyond words. No one cares that some poor bastard had to sit on the front and drag their sorry asses all the way in. No one cares about anything except the heated iron pole that fees like it’s been shoved up their ass, the burning creaks in the knees, the incipient Shermer’s neck, and the horrible deprivation of having to spend seven hours in the saddle without beer. They are so tired they’ve even stopped telling lies about their ex-girlfriends.

“Man Tour” doesn’t mean you can’t whine like a spoiled brat

The filthy, salt-stained, stinking, bitching, whining, dessicated, exhausted mantourists reach Morro Bay in a foul mood indeed, but the beer deprivation part they remedy immediately. Miraculously, the mood improves. Sta-Puf’s ooze turns to ordinary blood. Gonzo’s head sprouts giant redwoods again. Ol’ Prune tells us what it was like as a boy growing up in South Africa, when he was so poor that he had to milk stray dogs to feed his family. By the fifth case of Milwaukee’s Best, the worst of the day is forgotten, and the living hell that will be Day 4 has been put off for what seems like eternity.

MT4 Day Two: The big country of the south

September 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

When large numbers of overly aggressive, underly fit old farts get together to compete, strange things happen. At yesterday’s Texas-UCLA beatdown, for example, we showed up to our seats with two large chicken burritos apiece, a plastic tub filled with Indian curry, four containers of fries, extra-large cups of lemonade, a blanket apiece (not necessary in the 90-degree heat), and an assortment of satchels, backpacks, and oversized handbags. We fit barely into the tiny Rose Bowl seats, kind of like that extra dollop on the taco that makes all the grease and beef and juice dribble out the end when you bite into it. The season ticketholder (50-yard line, Row 10) sitting in front of us watched our arrival in horror and disgust. These were literally the best seats in the house, and there was more orange than blue in the surrounding seats.

“I didn’t get season tickets to be surrounded by Texans!” she snapped. This lady, who I’ll call Nasty Bitch from Hell with a Sorry Fucking Attitude, or just “Nasbitch” for short, was in her late fifties and obviously trying to recapture her glory sorority days when she was the floor whore at her house as a UCLA undergrad.

Look before you leap

Unfortunately for the ex-dorm queen, we attended the game with my mom, who grew up in a small Texas town, is in her 70’s and takes no shit from anyone, especially rude women with an attitude.

“We’ll do our best not to bother you, honey,” Mom said in her sweetest Texas twang.

“You’re already bothering me!” Nasbitch said. “Where did you get your tickets from, anyway? Stubhub? And you’ve got too much stuff!”

“Now don’t you mind us, honey,” Mom said. “We’re just going to be quiet as church mice. Where did you get that pretty bracelet, honey? That is so cute.”

“I didn’t get it at Wal-Mart,” Nasbitch snarled as she turned back for kickoff.

Mom then accidentally kicked what was left of the curry off the little ledge and it spilled into Nasbitch’s very cute $1,500 Vuitton bag that she had tucked under her seat. “Oh goodness me, honey, look what I did! I’m so sorry!” Nasbitch went berserk just as the Texas contingent began to roar at the first interception of the game. “Oh honey, look! Everyone’s cheering!”

“Yeah, mom. Texas just got a touchdown!”

“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked in a stage whisper.

“It’s awesome, mom. It means we scored points and are going to beat the crap out of UCLA.”

“Don’t talk ugly. And it’s not their fault that they can’t play football very well. They are from California, after all.”

For the next two quarters I roared “Hook ‘em!” and “Stuff him like a cheap taco!” and “Good job, UCLA Ruins!” and “Touchdown!” and “Fumble!” and “Another Texas beatdown!” and “Chokers!” and “Score!” and “Barbecue the bastards!” and “Touchdown!” and “UCLA sucks!” until Nasbitch picked up her stuff and left.

Santa Cruz to Big Sur: rum, sodomy, and the lash

Day Two of MT4 is kind of like that football game…one long-ass, miserable, never-ending beatdown.

“Big Sur” gets its name from the region’s original Spanish appellation, “El país grande del sur,” which can be roughly translated into English as “The great southerly land where Chief realizes he should have gotten in more MT4 training miles.”

In addition to stunning natural landscapes, Big Sur boasts endemic plants such as wild orchid, and a small population of California condors. The native Americans of Big Sur were largely exterminated by the Spanish, who through through slavery, pestilence, rapine, torture, and murder taught the heathens the gospel and virtues of Christ.

Day 2 of MT4 relives the enslavement by the early conquistadores, as the gang leaders flay the weak, sick, and frail, driving them mercilessly from Santa Cruz to Monterrey with a hail of oaths and strokes of the cat o’ nine tails. Driven like hogs to the slaughterhouse, the tour goes through one of the most beautiful places on earth–Carmel, California. But the bloodied and weary Roman galley slaves never see it, as their sweat-filled eyes are glued to the wheel in front, suffering like dogs with each stroke of the lash that goads them on to their destination.

Mixing the waters of the earth

Weary, beaten down, and ready to quit many hours ago, the sinners shackled to the train of pain roll onto Bixby Bridge, one of the great iconic structures in California. The road-weary wankers dismount stupidly and fumble for their shrunken wrinkly, sometimes for minutes, as they hurry to pee into the Pacific Ocean before the train thunders off again.

Woe unto the stragglers who fail to land their plank in the Roman galley before the vessel of woe sets sail! The next ten miles are uphill, rolling, and windy beyond belief. What was once the misery of being beaten and thrashed by heartless taskmasters has become something even worse: hanging onto the end of the taut rubber band, wondering when it’s going to snap and leave the broken oarsmen stranded on their own, battering helplessly for mile after mile into the teeth of the ferocious coastal gale. Just as things seem like they can’t get any worse, they do! A series of hard accelerations splits the small group that has launched off the front, and the New Mexican Fireman drives a stake through the skulls of the hangers-on, flying home alone to the sprint finish in Big Sur itself.

Beer, medicinal herbs, slabs of steak, more beer, potatoes slathered in butter, and more beer will presage an evening spent howling and crying at the massive leg cramps that twist the downtrodden mantourists into new yoga postures of pain. MT4 Day Two: in the books.

MT4 Day One: Blood on the saddle

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Day One of Man Tour goes from San Jose to Santa Cruz. It is an epic day for some, a rude awakening for others, and leg-breaking batterfest for all. Day One of Man Tour is rife with tales of glory and preludes to crushing defeat. Last year, Pretty Boy spanked all comers on the climb out of the state park, proving that a summer spent training in the French Alps and a kit change every time he got sweaty could overcome three dozen elderly slackers on stone cold legs and tummies filled with barbecue roast beef.

Day One saw Gonzo’s chain snap at the bottom of the first climb. It saw the entire peloton come within inches (a very few inches, actually) of getting arrested in Cupertino when we stopped to gang-piss in the shrubbery along a major thoroughfare. Day One saw certain mantourists dismount on the climb and walk. Others were rumored to have hitched a ride with the sag. Day One in years past has seen the likes of Knoll set a blistering pace for two days that no one could match, only to crack and crater on Day Three such that he was bundled into the follow car and unable to complete the Tour. Mostly, though, the significance of Day One is discovered on Day Two.

Those who have prepared properly will finish up with the 6000+ feet of climbing, 80-mile day with a big meal. They will stroll through quaint and scenic downtown Santa Cruz, carefully stepping around the spirited youth who line the sidewalks smoking meth, shooting heroin, and puffing away at the local pot crop. After the meal, they will settle in for a long, refreshing sleep. They will wake up the next morning and enjoy a modest breakfast of eggs, bacon, oatmeal, toast, jam, butter, biscuits, wagonwheel gravy, link sausage, flapjacks, maple syrup, more butter, a large fruit bowl, cereal, and two tankards of pitch black, triple-bitter coffee laced with a cup of sugar and heavy whipping cream. Once on the bike, they’ll note some residual poison in their legs which flushes out by mile 10, and, ant-like, they will happily soldier along the flat-to-rolling terrain of Day Two. Life is good. The road is open. It’s a beautiful place to be, and no one’s telling you to lift the toilet seat or put down the lid.

My body’s a temple, and I pillage it regularly

Not so pleasant is Day Two for the lazy grasshoppers who fiddled away the summer. Those whose MT training consisted mostly of cheeseburgers and beer find Day Two to be a whole old day. Even though it’s much flatter and rather scenic, Day Two to these recalcitrant grasshoppers feels almost exactly like Day One, only worse. There’s no euphoria at rolling out of San Jose Intergalactic Airport hundreds of miles from responsibility with fresh legs, a happy heart, and the silly smugness that comes from wearing the same outfit as everyone else. There’s no wonder and awe at the majesty of this great state. There’s no spryness or spring in the legs. Rather, from the moment they’re awakened by their partner’s groaning snores at 2:00 a.m., they have the sickening realization that the deep-bone aches, the cramping calves, the stiff neck, and the painfully sore back are only going to get worse. Much, much worse.

As the grasshoppers pedal out of Santa Cruz, the first ten miles feel okay, not nearly as bad as the night presaged. By mile thirty, they’re ready to call it a day. By mile fifty, the whole thing, which they knew deep down was a bad idea, has become a poster child for what happens when bad judgment mates with fantasy and sport. By mile sixty, the grasshoppers have gone from miserable to angry. By mile eighty, they’re whimpering. When the group rolls into Big Sur, the grasshoppers are fused into a permanent hunch over their bikes and have to be pried off with sticks, blows to the head, and open bottles of cheap beer wafted under their noses.

Day One, then, sets the tone for the rest of the tour, a kind of rectal exam that tells the doctor whether or not you’ll need a colonoscopy or whether you’ll get to put your shorts back on and go home with a clean bill of health. You’ll never feel better than you feel on Day One, but you can assuredly feel a hell of a lot worse.

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