October 11, 2013 § 12 Comments
First KK set the hour record, then Fukdude set the hour record, and suddenly everybody was “training for the hour record.” But I wasn’t, because the only thing I know about it is that Eddy considered it the hardest thing he’d ever done. When I saw Fukdude get off his bike after an entire season of starving, training, intervaling, waxing his chain, and boring out his hair follicles for extra lightness, I knew the hour record wasn’t even in my imagination, forget actually doing it.
However, there are others who dare to dream big dreams, and no one dreams bigger than Hockeystick. Caught up in the excitement of watching a drained, depleted, dazed Fukdude get peeled off his bike, Hockeystick declared that he was going after KK’s hour record, as it was in his age group. This was shocking.
KK is only vaguely human. He’s one of a handful of people who can crawl into the pain box, shut the lid, and throw away the key. He’s got the perfect mix of athleticism, discipline, ability, and work ethic to take on cycling’s biggest test. But Hockeystick? Our dear, beloved Hockeystick? He of the happy-go-lucky smile, last to a fight, first to a feast, belly up the the bar and devil take the hindmost, when the going gets tough Hockeystick gets a note from his mom, why train when you can talk about it, I don’t like road riding because the sun is bad for my complexion, THAT HOCKEYSTICK? THAT HOUR RECORD?
No fuggin’ way.
I ran across Hockeystick on the way home from a race a couple of months ago. “‘Sup, Hockeystick?”
“Training for the hour,” he said.
“You? You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Man’s gotta dream big. Have challenges. Never give in to aging..”
“Never give in to aging? Dude, you look ten years older than you are. Your gut sags lower than your pecker. You’ll never set the hour record — KK has that.”
“I’m on a program. I’ve got a coach. My way, like the song says.”
“So tell me about the plan.”
“Long miles on the weekend. Steady cadence. Defined interval work on the velodrome.”
“What about diet? You still look like you’re hung over from Christmas.”
“Anquetil was a hard partier.”
“Anquetil was a multiple winner of the Tour, classics winner, hour record holder, the greatest time trialist the world had ever seen. What does that have to do with you?”
“Ya gotta dream big to stay young.”
“Dude, you can’t stay young. Everyone gets old. And some get older than others, quicker.”
“My way, baby.”
We parted ways.
An hour record hopeful walks into a bar …
A few weeks ago I was in a bar for a party, and who should I see on the high stool but Hockeystick. “Yo, Hockeystick. What the fuck you doing here?”
“Having a little snack.”
“Snack? That’s three plates of tacos in front of you. And a pitcher of beer. How many pitchers so far?”
“Dude! What happened to the hour record?”
“Nothin’. I’m going for it.”
“Impossible. You look like the Pillsbury doughboy’s fat grandmother. With his hour record attempt eight weeks out, Fukdude looked like a coathanger on a diet. KK was down to tendons and gristle. You look like an elephant seal getting ready for an Arctic winter.”
“I got this.”
“Got what? The bill?”
“The record. I got this.”
“Talk to me, bro. The only thing you got so far is arteriosclerosis.”
“I decided not to go after KK’s record.”
“Well, that’s a fuggin’ relief.”
“But I’m still goin’ after an hour record.”
“Which one? 210-lb. plus category? I didn’t know there was one.”
“Naw, I’m goin’ for the Eddy Merckx hour record, age 50+.”
“Merckx style. No aero. Just me, drop bars, spoked aluminum box rims. Mano a mano.”
“You’re fuggin’ kidding me.”
“Nope. I figured I couldn’t beat KK, so I looked it up and there’s this Merckx category that no one’s done in the US before in my 50+ category.”
“So all you fuggin’ have to do is ride around the track for an hour?”
“And no matter how slow you go, you set the record?”
“Like, you could pull a taco out of your skinsuit and drink beer out of your water bottle?”
“And still get to tell people you set the hour record?”
“Hockeystick?” I said.
“You’re a fuggin’ genius.”
He shoved the last giant taco into his mouth as a burst of sour cream and salsa drizzled down his chin. Then he drained his one-pint tumbler and smacked his lips. “Yeah,” he said. “I know.”
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.”
June 16, 2013 § 26 Comments
Fukdude woke up one day with a completely crazed obsession, which was completely different from the completely crazed obsession he’d had the previous year, or the year before, or the year before.
“I gotta fukkin do the hour record,” he said to himself.
So he went down to the velodrome, hopped on his bike and did a practice hour record ride. He missed setting a new mark by 300m.
With zero preparation, coming so close to the mark on a test ride would give mere mortals cause for celebration. All it gave Fukdude was a case of raw sack.
“My fukkin left nut was out of position, pushed up against a nest of hairs on the inside of my thigh.” (FD is extremely analytical.) “Those three or four hairs rubbed up against the sack nonstop for one fukkin hour. Like scraping your balls with a wire brush. Fukkin saddle sore on my nut was the size of a small fukkin Frisbee. Couldn’t wear underwear for two weeks and had to soak my balls in an avocado-linseed oil poultice. Shit fukkin hurt.”
Why are bicycle riders insane?
This is what I was asking myself, having swung by FD’s place to pick up a copy of “The Hour” by Michael Hutchinson, an insane British bicycle rider who had misguidedly taken aim at the most holy record in sports, and predictably failed.
“You gotta fukkin read this book if you’re gonna blog about my attempt,” he said. “Then I can tell you about bearing friction and chain drag coefficients and tire thread counts and crr and Cda. Pretty cool shit, actually.”
“It is?” I asked.
“Fuk yeah, dude.” Then FD reached down onto a shelf and pulled out a bag with a chain in it. “Imported from Japan, dude,” he said with pride.
“Like my wife?”
“No, dude, this is special. Bro deal.”
I nodded. “Any other special stuff?”
“Fuk yeah. Check this shit out.” FD reached into another shelf and pulled out a box, in which was a bag, in which was a cloth sack, in which was a plastic covering, in which was a monstrous 55-tooth chainring that looked bigger than the reported Frisbee on his nutsack.
“Wow,” I said.
“Fukkin Japanese dude makes these things. Imported from Japan. Japanese. Fukkin rad shit, huh? $200 bucks, dude.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s some coin.”
“No big deal. We just dial back the hot water, gas, and electricity for six weeks, slash the food budget and drink more water. It’s healthier, actually. Good for your fukkin hour record diet too, dude.”
When the fad is bad
This whole hour record thing got started in SoCal by Keith Ketterer, otherwise known as “KK,” “Superman,” or just plain “Sir.” A quiet, unassuming guy, KK did his preparation and set the hour record in two separate age divisions.
His successful assaults were the picture of suffering, and when he finished his second record ride he was pulled off the bike looking like a corpse that was way past its expiration date. The epic nature of his ride and the unspeakable nature of what he endured lit the fire of emulation under many who saw him.
Fortunately, most of the emulators did a few trial laps at speed around the velodrome and instantly realized the folly of their fantasy, and more importantly, the unspeakable pain of riding so fast even for a lap. So they quit and went back to the events that required something less, like ice hockey, drinking beer, and of course the most popular cycling event, Talking About Cycling And Spending Money On Bike Crap.
Not Fukdude. For him, the pain and the flogging and the obsessive attention to every possible detail made the fire burn brighter. It didn’t hurt that he has long been one of the best amateur bike racers in the state, and owns a pair of national titles on the track.
I found out about it through a Facebook invitation to the event that FD had sent out.
“It’s gonna be fukkin boring beyond belief,” he enthusiastically assured me. “Some dork riding in circles for fifty minutes, dude, people will be looking at each other going ‘This is some boring shit.'”
“Yes,” I tentatively agreed.
“It’s not ’til the last ten minutes if you’re on track that the misery and agony and suffering and flogging and hell sets in. That shit’s fun to watch. Dork goes from ‘I’m kicking ass’ to ‘I’m about to get totally fukkin humiliated in front of my family and friends plus waste all that money on tires and chains and shit from Japan,’ and then he fukkin goes balls out and flogs himself and you can see the fukkin fear of failure scratched all over his face like a bad tattoo. That’s when it’s fun to watch.”
“Oh,” I said.
“I mean, bike racing is a fukkin niche sport no bigger than a termite’s ass. And track racing is a fukkin tiny crevasse in the crack of the termite’s ass, right? And the fukkin hour record is a fissure in the crack of the termite’s ass’s microniche. Like, who fukkin cares?”
“So why are you doing it?”
“I’m obsessed, dude. If I don’t have a fukkin goal I’ll be eating a dozen baked chocolate donuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and drinking beer by the keg. Gotta have goals in life, right, dude?”
Preparing for the flogging
If I had done a practice run and only missed the new record by 300m and some raw skin, I would focus my training exclusively on proper nut positioning and maybe do a couple of intervals to sharpen up for the real day of reckoning.
He assembled a team to conquer that last 300 meters that was truly incredible. Roger Young, former Olympian and curmudgeonly genius track coach feared by all, but who is really quite talkative on Thursdays between the hours of 3:00 and 3:15 AM. Philip Goglia and his eating program in Santa Monica, who is The Man for pasty, skinny dudes like FD who want to look even sicklier without losing leg power. Thanks to Phil, FD was able to develop entire new vein displays on his abdomen and thigh.
Roger put together a training plan that included things like eight 10-minute threshold sessions with 3-minute rests between intervals; three 40-minute threshold sessions (done three times a week); two 30-minute climbing intervals on a 9% grade at 350 watts…etc. Experts agree that if simply reading through the workouts doesn’t physically exhaust you or make you sob uncontrollably, you have what it takes to attempt the record.
Phil put together an eating plan that was based on the concept of gaining strength and power while losing weight and eating everything out of a Tupperware box. No more baked choco donuts. No more entire loaves of French bread. No more buckets of ice cream. No more Five Guys. In short, no more fun.
FD, however, was quick to point out that this had nothing to do with fun. “Fukkin starving yourself on lettuce and spending the best part of your adult life on an indoor trainer, dude, that’s fucked up. Which is why we do it. Right?”
“Uh, right,” I agreed, secretly planning to swing by the donut shop on the way home.
“Okay, cool dude. Nice talkin but I have to get back on the fukkin trainer. See you next week?”
“Wouldn’t miss if for the world. Hey, one question — “
“What happens if you do the hour record in, say, 59 minutes?”
*NOTE TO READER (singular): FD attempts the hour record in the 40-44 year-old age category at the VeloCenter in Carson, CA, on June 23 at 4:00 PM, immediately after which we will celebrate his NEW hour record with lots of fermented liquid electrolytes, chocolate donuts, more fermented electrolytes and awesome tales of how awesome he is. Which, in fact, he is.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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.”
August 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
This morning’s New Pier Ride was a wankfest deluxe, replete with a dozen different flats, a founding NPR wanker who tumped over on his side at 2mph and trashed his frame, a cement mixer swooping by at warp speed, four hundred thousand medium-sized rocks scattered along the 2.5 mile western leg on the Parkway, bar-bumping, shoulder-rubbing, hollering, hiding, sprunting, attacking, crumpling, wheelsucking, and of course Going to the Front.
The clarion sounded last night, announcing on the Internets that MMX would be coming up from North County to work off his hangover; that Fukdude would be gracing us with his national champion presence; that Prez would be there in a new lime green kit; that Erik the Red would be on a scalp-collecting mission, and that every newbie, oldbie, dumby, and Gumbie would be flailing and flogging in a mad attempt to not get kicked out the back on the first lap.
The wankers answered the call in force. Promises of an audience with the Godfather, promises of sunny weather, and promises of a merciless beatdown resulted in seventy wankers rolling out from the Pier, with an additional 30-40 getting picked up along Pershing.
How was it, then…?
“Today was a dynamic one for me, filled with highs and some lows. I slept three hours and rolled up to the Pier still drunk. I was pumped at the prospect of an exciting, solid ride.”
“I got there early and rode up the bike path. There were lots of people. and they kept coming and coming, like roaches to a pile of fresh puke.”
“Wow, a big ride for Marc’s birthday. Not that anyone knew.”
“WM has cultivated an impressive ride. Blew me away how it kept growing and swelling all the way to Pershing and then along the Parkway.”
“It was cool to see people I haven’t seen in a while.”
“This ride and Wankmeister’s crazy blog got me back into cycling. I’ve been doing this ride for two months and it just gets harder even though I’m getting fitter. Today was the fastest ever.”
“From Pershing I left the wankoton and moved to the front of the class. Got in a nice hard slap at the front after the overpass.”
“Had Wankmeister on my wheel for a long stretch, pulling into the wind. At the front I felt fantastic and never anaerobic, I could have danced all night.”
“I kept waiting for the pace to quicken, but it never did.”
“Did a few rotations and drifted back five or ten wheels, then repeat.”
“Seemed like the first first real acceleration was the second lap, when one or twenty numb nuts let Eric and a couple others go down the road. I had to chase like a motherfucker.”
“Is this ride always this hard? I used to be a bowler. Bowling’s just not this hard.”
“King Harold did a wonderful flat back pull up toward the u-turn, start of Lap 3. I was third wheel. Harold flicked an elbow and the second wheel sat up and moved right, like a total fucking wanker, leaving me to bridge that little gap and then pull all the way up to the turn. Fucking wankers. Don’t they read your blog? Go to the fucking front.”
“Finishing up the 3rd lap I hit a huge rock no one pointed out and nearly lost control. Pinch flatted, which took me out toward the start of the last lap. Major bummer; I was so primed and ready turn on the jets. I think there were twelve flats today.”
“Is there a slower B ride?”
“I kept trying to Go to the Front, but just ended up Going out the Back.”
“Strava flail. How hard was this ride, anyway?”
“The New Pier Ride is incredible. Props to Douggie, Trey, and the other wankers who thought this up. Never seen a regular ride like it, or even heard of one. Fantastic stuff.”
“This ride is a fredfest. Saw two fucking freds almost murder each other and take me out.”
“Won’t be doing this again. Fast enough to tire you out, but not fast enough to make you faster. Fucking trucks and rocks and lights and traffic and crazy people on their first bike ride. This NPR shit blows.”
“People of all stripes come from all over. Its amazing. Really inclusive, which is unusual for road cycling.”
“I didn’t get my coffee this morning because we had a power outage at my apartment. Needless to say, OTB.”
“There were the usual fast guys and lots of new guys who think they are fast until they get near the front and melt like ice cream in a reactor core. I watched a number of guys near me who never took a pull. Now, granted, some of these guys are the guys who were waiting for the sprint (as though this was a race)–we know who they are. But there were others who never got to the front but would linger near it, kind of like a dude with a naked chick who sticks his face down near her crotch and sniffs but won’t drop trou and start humping. I don’t like these people. Hump or go home.”
“I noticed you on the front numerous times, Wankmeister, but I think your legs were zapped. Good posing, though, even though you slowed us down every time you pulled through, you wanker.”
“I saw Eric on the front a few times, including that attack I had to chase down. He’s a badass.”
“The guy in the SBW was awesome. Is that the Dennis Herrera dude you were telling me about? Driving the front. I loved riding with him.”
“Awesome all the other girls out. Makes me feel good to have other girls riding nearby. And they’re strong and getting stronger.”
“Bull would pull but he would get so gassed he’d let gaps open up after, only to come back to the front for another pull. Relentless = awesome.”
“Returning to the South Bay, you had the typical wankers hitting the gas, even though they had all been wearing invisibility cloaks on the Parkway. WTF?”
“Fucking endless list of riders who never pulled, not even once. That Pischon dude took a monster hit westbound on Lap One. Beastly. Prez got the bit between his teeth once, too.”
“Fast guys are fast: Lonergan, Hair, Davy, Eric, Big Steve.”
“So many people do this ride, get dropped and jump back in make it scary. I especially don’t like the guys who get dropped and then when the lead group catches them they feel compelled to jump towards, but never on, the front. Scary bunch of wankers.”
“Ride is awesome because when you get shelled you can hop back in. I’ve gotten hella stronger in six months and can almost finish the ride.”
“Post ride festivities indicate there is a real community feel that has developed from this ride. Kudos.”
“People taking care of each other is a good sign. The camaraderie is apparent and it’s contagious. This is beautiful. Saw people always stopping to help with mechanicals and flats. Just don’t see that much.”
“I wish I could do NPR more often!”
“Thanks to all the SB wankers for creating such a great ride and for making me feel a part of it.”
“Is this a regular ride? What time does it start?”
“Can you dig all the westsiders who come down for this? Legit.”
“Huge turnout, largest I’ve ever seen. Wanker to hammer ratio was decent.”
“Lots of fresh faced wankers I don’t know. Not so fresh faced at the end, just rent with shrapnel and had the look of the black plague about ‘em. They’ll toughen up.”
“Does this ride always have all these rocks? I fricking flatted. Yo, wankers, point shit out and help thy fellow rider, that is if you’re not riding over your head and can remove your hands from the bars without crashing out thirty people.”
“Great pace, not too fast, not too slow.”
“Fireman brought it home over Hair in a nail biter.”
“Great to see MMX out and briefly catch up. Dude’s riding strong.”
“Fuck that was a giant group festering at the pier before ride. The last time I saw that many idiots in one place was when I watched a joint session of Congress.”
“Every lap I poked my nose in the wind and soon thereafter thought I would be dropped.”
“The ride was incredibly hard. However I noticed several dingleberries at the ass end who were neither poo nor hair yet were stubbornly there. Someone oughta shake them loose.”
“Post ride coffee looked like a class reunion. I almost got a phone number. These biker chicks are smokin’ hot.”
“Dave Perez likes having his picture taken. And why was he lying on the ground at Fukdude’s feet?”
“My favorite part of the ride: Some wanker shouting ‘Stop riding on the rocks,’ as if those little pebbles were a problem. Pussy needs to ride a few miles in rural Madison County. He’d be praying for rocks. Our roads are paved with possum teeth, the bones of Republicans, and small bore bullets.”
“This Cancellara looking dude I’ve never seen in my life goes, ‘Hey is this the last lap?’ and I go ‘Yeah,’ and he goes ‘Then you lead it out, I’ll jump on your wheel and take the vee, ok?’ Uh yeah, sure, and you wanna pork me in the ass afterwards as well?”
“It was the fastest NPR to date, 24mph + average speed, not counting the boulders flying everywhere, fucking pachinko cycling at its finest as Trey flailed in the corner and broke his bike. Not that he cares, ’cause now he has an excuse to get a new one.”
“My legs are still sore in weird places from racing San Marcos with my fit all fucked up!”
“Can you introduce me to that cute chick I was riding behind? She is so hot.”
“I came to ‘sit-in on a social ride,’ because ya, SPY MMX is here, let’s be social because they are the BEST!”
“Ride started out super chill…seemed extra slow to the base of Pershing. Then people started flying and others started gasping, I was like, wow, do these hackers have medical clearance to be out here?”
“Can you introduce me to MMX after the ride? I’ve always wanted to meet him.”
“I set a PR on the whole ramp section meaning it was the fastest in a long time.”
“This just wasn’t even a social ride, I mean nobody really seemed to be in social mode unless that meant look to the person behind you and give them the ‘Noooo, you go!’ look or look ahead at where you can go to make everyone else have to go faster.”
“What’s wrong with people? Might as well attempt to take a pull, why not?”
“Surfer Dan told me to go to the front today and tell people he told me to. Of course he wasn’t there. Surfing.”
“I took a short pull that clearly seemed slow to everyone else because someone quickly came by me. Thanks.”
“Everyone seemed to be hurting a lot after about Lap 1. Wankers!”
“I went to the front when I could. Problem was that I kept jumping on wheels of people that liked to act like they were going to the front and then slow down like five wheels before it. Guyyyysss, that’s not the front!”
“After four laps we had completed what Strava records as the fastest total time for the four laps I have ever done with two laps being the fastest ever. So it was a damn fast four laps. Anybody who thinks it wasn’t hard was in the caboose.”
“I actually wanted to sprint, but I had never heard so much yelling, cursing, and wheels going squiggly! But, I was close enough to the front to see the people that were legitimately sprinting and I must say it was damn impressive!”
“When we turned off the Parkway a SPY guy, Perez, and a couple others went back to hammering. I followed. Another PR.”
“Ramp…fastest ever. Four laps…fastest ever. Return to Imperial…fastest ever. There was no fucking break.”
“They should call this the Lots of Rocks, Flats, Yelling, and Gasping Ride.”
“It was a huge ride that became much smaller once the gas got turned on. Props to everyone who kept getting back in the mix!”
“I felt like my head was a giant pimple that was about to burst!”
“What a bunch of whiners! Why would you come on a ride that is supposed to be a total beatdown and then complain when you get an awesome workout?”
“I say thank you to people after they get me through a workout that I never could have done alone. You just got stronger without asking for it!”
“Wanker crashed out turning onto Imperial on the way back. It looked like he pulled a Tink and just fell over. Hope he was okay.”
“NPR as of late and especially today: more LADIES, and all the ones that have been coming regularly are getting stronger and stronger!”
“The Pier almost sank from the weight…of bodies, not bikes.”
“NPR participants will lobby Manhattan Beach planning committee to widen the alley.”
“More horsepower today than the Arkansas Tractor Pull Championships. But not as many IQ points.”
“Big names, astonishing jerseys, 110 wankers. Doesn’t get much better than this!”
“Can your Tuesday AM ride do this?”
“Burlap Jack, Mountain Mouse, Pippy Aus-Stocking, the SPYfia family shooting the place up, guns blazing, bodies everywhere, blood gushing from new orifices, but afterwards everybody friendly as hell. Even Daniel.”
“In order to make the World Way overpass in the top 10 required having the tip of the saddle touching the lower intestine. Fuck that hurt.”
“Getting back to Westchester, the tip of the saddle was now rubbing the pancreas.”
“First lap was like a fuck’n MMA cage fight, with 20 dudes in the cage at once who only knew how to groin kick and eye stab. Nasty shit.”
“Second lap, beside the white boulders… there were flashes of white light…and fifty wankers pedaling triangles in the gutter as their heads spun around like Linda Blair. Hope they got their demons outed.”
“The so-called sprint was more like Custer’s Last Stand, minus the surprise. All the wankers knew the killing was going to happen. Scary shit.”
“Wankmeister, you’ve taught a lot of people that beatdowns are to be valued. Now could you teach them to Go to the Front?”
May 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
All my friends call me “Lefty Wobbly,” even though my name is Herbert. I got this awful nickname because every time I look over my left shoulder to see what’s going on behind me, you know like cars or who’s on my wheel or checking for cops before I blow through the stop signs in Hermosa, my bike kind of veers off to the left. I’ve tried everything to fix it. But no matter what, as soon as look over my shoulder, I head off to the left, which is really dangerous because it takes me out into the lane and stuff. I get majorly honked at when this happens and usually almost killed to death, plus chop wheels of whoever’s behind me and crash out all my bros. They don’t like that too much.
I want to be rock solid straight like all the good chick riders and dudes and get rid of this sorry ass nickname. “Lefty Wobbly?” What about “Straight Hard Iron Tough Dude Like Fukdude?”
Annoyedly and frightenedly at the same time,
Wankmeister sifts through eighty zillion emails a day from his reader, so when this one hit the inbox it positively made my day. Finally, a legit question. Admittedly, the asker’s a total wanker, but the question is rock solid, unlike your lookback technique. So instead of reviewing some dumb book or some dumber bike race, Wanky’s gonna put on a clinic. Strap on your seatbelt.
The reason your bike veers left (aside from the fact that you’re a goofball) is because the turning neck muscles slightly pull on your left shoulder when your head spins around. The slight motion tenses your left arm, the muscles contract a tad, and that “tad” moves the bike to the left. The muscles on your left side also tighten because your turning head, which weighs about 10 pounds hairless (and much less with the typically atrophied cyclist brain), swings out to the left, kind of like if you had a giant watermelon on your shoulders that suddenly leaned off to one side. Of course it’s going to pull everything with it.
So the whole point is to stop the muscles in your left shoulder and arm from tightening up when the watermelon goes looking for whatever it’s looking for. There are four ways to do this.
1. Get a dork mirror. There are zillions of kinds of these. They all work perfectly, which is to say they make you look like a perfect dork. The big drawback is that everyone will laugh at you and say, “Yo, dork!” This is a small price to pay for not getting run over by a car. Unfortunately, even if you go big and get one of those whomperdaddy motorcycle mirrors, or one of those massive adjustable four-frame deals they hang from the window of an 18-wheeler, at some point you’re still going to have to turn around and look, which kind of puts you back to square 2, which is next.
2. Let go with your left hand. If you’re riding on the tops, just let go with your left hand. Your right hand is plenty to stabilize the bike and keep you from crashing, and with your left hand off the bars, your rotating watermelon will still pull your left shoulder and arm, but since the hand isn’t connected to the bars, who gives a shit? The bike will go in a straight line. You can then gaze over your left shoulder for hours, or until you smash into a parked car, whichever comes first. There’s a great example of this in the 2001 Paris-Roubaix video, where Romans Vainsteins turns back to see what’s behind him. He drops his left hand to his side and turns all the way around on the bike. Of course, if you have the 2001 P-R video and know what I’m talking about, you can do this shit in your sleep.
3. Right bow bend. Maybe for some reason you don’t want to let go with your left hand. Like, you’re on the NPR and there are thirty idiots in front and thirty idiots behind and you’re scared out of your fucking mind, but you still want to see if that cute chick you invited to the ride is on your wheel. In this case, with your hands on the tops, relax your right elbow so that it droops. When you spin the melon, the droopy right elbow compensates for the pulling on the left shoulder and arm, and the bike stays straight. This works because the drooping right arm pulls the bike to the right, and the turning head pulls the bike to the left. The two movements cancel each other out, kind of like when you say “Blow job?” and she says “Chick flick?” and so you end up doing nothing.
4. Chin tuck. Sometimes you have to do a super quick check, like when you’re firing through the turn in a crit with two turns to go and you’re setting up to get 78th in the sprint, ahead of that dude who beat you out for 75th last week. Turn your head, but rest your chin on your shoulder. This keeps the watermelon from flapping in the wind and from hanging out over the edge of your shoulder and starting the death spiral of veering to the left. If you want to be completely rad, you can do the bow bend with the chin tuck simultaneously.
So there. Don’t say I never taught you anything.
April 20, 2012 § 5 Comments
Would you lay off with the “go to the front” bullshit already? It’s, like, boring. The only time Thurlow, Glass Hip, G3, Hippstar (may his soul rest in peace), Fukdude, and Hair ever go to the front it’s to attack like a bat out of hell and either escape or break the field. Sitting on the point like a fucking clodhopper is for wankers. Oh wait, you are the King of the Wankers. I didn’t upgrade to Cat 3 on good looks. I play to win.
First, do us all a favor and stop comparing yourself to the above-named racers. They are badass and they win (well, I guess you can go ahead and compare yourself to Hair). In short, you should go to the front on the NPR because there are only five people–at most–who have a snowball’s chance of winning the sprint. You’re not one of them.
Going to the front on the NPR is stuppid. Racing is conserving like how when you fuck you try to hold it all til the end not blast away in the first twevle secunds like some fukkin tenager in the back seat of Dad’s Chevy. That’s how you win.
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, being “strategic” to conserve energy is stupid. Conserve it for what? Watching porn on the couch after the ride? It’s the same kind of tactical fail as taking condoms on a trip to the supermarket with your grandparents. On a training ride you got to fire the cannon, same as H.L. Mencken’s election strategy: “Vote early, vote often.”
WTF do I want to go to the front for? I’m just in it for fitness, dude, and for the shot at winning the sprint. Who gives a shit what you think? Lay off, already.
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you need to understand that you build fitness at the front, not nestled in the middle of the pack behind that goober with the pot belly and the the knees that go out at right angles wearing the size M shorts on a size XXL derriere, shorts that are old and threadbare and right in front of your face while you pedal under the awful gaze of the evil brown eye and try not to barf all at the same time.
You really don’t get it, do you? NPR isn’t a “race.” I just want to improve my bike handling. I could give a shit about hero pulls. Plus, there’s no harm in seeing what I can do in the sprint and maybe claw me a “vee.”
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you’ll become a better handler by riding in proximity to the best riders, who ride at the front, not by tailgating the crazy lady with the penchant for throwing herself over the handlebars.
I work long hours at a very stressful job. For me, the NPR is chance to get in a good workout before the grind begins, and maybe score a win against the “big boys.” Going to the front seems suicidal, frankly.
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, you need to understand that if you are comfortable, it’s not a good workout. It’s not even a workout. Look at the wankers who, year after year, muddle along in the middle of the pack and never take a pull. In order to get a good workout you gotta go to the front and take your medicine. And it will hurt.
For me, the NPR is all about street cred. I spend a lot of my disposable income (okay, all of it) on bike shit. My cyclaholism has cost me three marriages, two residential evictions, and numerous job displacements. I want “the boyz” to see I’m serious about this shit and to ogle my new Crumpanator Carbon wheels, which are rad, plus maybe get lucky and ding ‘em in the sprint.
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, the quickest way to be seen and earn “cred” is by going to the front. No one cares if you flame out. Everyone cares that you made the effort. There’s a recall on those Crumpanators, BTW, something about rim failure at speeds over 21 mph. You’re probably safe, but just in case.
I’m still not convinced. My goals are simple…get home in one piece, and maybe be in position towards the end to sneak one by the sprunters. How’s this “GTTF” crap going to help me?
Dow Ting Thomas
Dear Dow Ting:
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, please believe me when I say that sitting at the back with the pack going 35 mph is a bad idea. Why? Because when the pack slows, the wankers at the back who are mashing like madmen just to hang on, with their heads down and eyes glued to their front tire, will slam on their brakes at the last second. You’ll slam into them. Crushed orbital bones sound like fun? Get thee to the front. Or to a nunnery.
I’m all about winning. I’m a winner. There are winners and losers. The winner comes in first. Everyone else is a loser. Same in life. You’re a winner or a loser. Winners are rich. Losers write blogs. So how does this “go to the front” shit help me win? Sounds like some moron ploy to make me go do all the work and some other goof gets the glory. That blows. FYI, I’m the dude who helps himself to seconds first. Invite me to your party and I’M the present I bring to the host. Get it? There’s a universe out there, and it rotates around me. So rotate this shit, Wankmeister, and explain yourself some more. ‘Cuz I’m not buying it. How’s this GTTF crap going to make me good in a fast crit?
Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, in order to hang in a tough crit, you have to practice in a group where the pace is high, like in real races. The only way this happens is if people take turns at the front. It may look cool to be dawdling along at 21 and then watch Hair launch an attack at 35, but in reality his races are never like that. They’re incredibly fast, and they stay fast. Since you have zero chance of winning the sprint, as I may have mentioned, perhaps it’s time you were introduced to the concept of doing your share. This is common among people who have integrity. They hate to see the same people doing all the work, so out of a feeling of duty, fairness, and honor, they drag their sorry asses to the front to give some a rest and the others a pounding. Knoll is a classic example of this. No matter how many custard pies he’s eaten in the last six months (and it’s usually a lot), he will motor his way to the front and pull like a motherfucker, even if he blows and pops his eyes out of the sockets. Fireman is another sorry motherfucker who will stick his pointy fucking elbows out and beat the goddamn pedals like a farmer going after a rattlesnake, doesn’t matter if he’s just gotten off an overtime shift at the firehouse where he’s had to drink beer and fart in the TV room for three days straight. St. Johns is another worthless fuck who will climb up to the head of the peloton and rip your goddamn heart out, even if he craters and rolls over in the ditch after taking his pull. MMX, before he got too high and fucking mighty for the South Bay and went off to become the King of the Hell of the North, was another two-bit bastard who’d mash it at the front until his dick fell off rather than Freddy freeload at the end of some lameass paceline. Jaeger? That weak turd will pull and pull hard until he pops and drops, and he won the fucking BWR. Uberfred’s another has-been goober who will nose his way into the wind even when his paunch is hanging down to his ankles, just because he can’t stand being lumped with the wheelsucking, freeloading, cheapassing, dingfucking shirkers. Surfer Dan? Same fucking thing. Put him in a fast group and he’ll be out on the point tying your dick into knots because FAIR is FAIR, and SHARE is SHARE. Bull? Go ’til you blow, baby, and don’t come off the front until the road tilts up. King Harold? Sonofabitch invented the flatback, puts pain-inducing medicine in his intravenous drip, and thinks rear wheels are for him to pass and you to follow. USC John? Piece of shit grits his teeth and attacks, pulls, accelerates, and thrashes so much at the front that it makes my taint sore just watching him. These are just a few of the lions of the NPR peloton, and I haven’t even mentioned Vapor or G$ or Davy Dawg, much less the Tinksters, Suzesters, Mousesters, Tongsters, Mattesters, Dukesters, Gangstas, Christinestas, Supergirl Kelly and the other chicks who push their way as far forward as they can even when surrounded by guys. Do your share. You’ll be sorry you did, but happy, in a beat to fuck, miserable, pain infested kind of way.