The taste of bitter, Devil’s Punchbowl 2012, Part 3

April 30, 2012 § 4 Comments

By the time we hit the right-hand turn onto the stairsteps of death, Wankmeister’s golden legs from the previous week had turned to silver. Barely hanging onto the back, I noticed that Ol’ Gizzards had been shed. Fatty the Pimple, the balloon dude with the red outfit and rainbow striped sleeves that made him look like a zit about to pop, was huffing and puffing like a Code 4 cardiac patient.

At the top of the stairsteps my legs of silver had turned to bronze. Fatty the Pimple popped. On the long crazy downhill I recovered, then recovered some more on the rolling section leading to the hard right turn, where the organizers had thoughtfully placed lots of sand and gravel across the off-camber, high speed, right-angle intersection. “Careful!” they yelled, which was lots cheaper and easier than sweeping the deadly turn with a broom. Fatty had toiled his way back on, and of the forty or so riders who had toed the line, only about twenty remained.

As we began the climb up to the start-finish, we passed the giant sign pointing out the San Andreas Fault. Now at least I knew who to blame for that vaguely familiar taste in the back of my mouth. The taste of bitter.

A three-man suicide break was already up the road. Axena had attacked with Purple Parks, and Steelhead bridged to complete the threesome. Our main chase group came through the start-finish, turned left, and began rolling up what is in effect the second section of the climb that began at the sandy intersection.

DQ Louie had decided to bring back the leaders, and the moment he upped the pace my legs of bronze turned to legs of wood, then plastic, then overcooked spaghetti. This was it. The dreaded moment of droppage. The moment when the hardest, gnarliest, most painful and relentless contest in Southern California goes from being a road race to a time trail.

Fatty never came off, which made me hate him even more, and made the bitter flavor stronger still.

Oh, no, Mr. Bill!

On the descent I formed a group with Mr. Bill from Big Orange, Bill L. the Pool Guy, and some dude from Schroeder Iron. His name was probably Bill too, but I was too tired to ask, and the way he hung his head and sagging gut as he rotated through told me that he was too tired to answer. None of them was climbing worth a shit, which made it even more humiliating when they effortlessly rode away from me the third time up the big climb.

As I flailed along by myself I passed C.U. Tomorrow. “Good job, C.U.!” I said as I passed.

“Fuck you!” she waved.

The next chick I overtook was Irish Lassie. “Good job, Lassie!” I said as I passed. “Shut up and give me a push!” she yelled.

The next gal was Gangstachick, who I passed just as we began the downhill. How was it that these three teammates were spread equidistant along the climb? “Good job, Gangstachick!”

“Your advice about wheels sucked! There’s no wind at all! I should have brought my 808’s. YOU SUCK!” she called out as I passed.

By now I had formed another flail group, this time with Cat 4 Shon Holdthebroom. We lumbered on for a long way, with him occasionally moaning, “I can’t pull through. No more gas, dude.” Fortunately, his tank magically refilled after the final turn as he and his Cat 4 buddies left me in the dirt, sprunting up the final mile to the finish. I crossed the line with yet another impressive moral victory in the bag. Dropped, defeated, and spanked by a couple of Cat 4 wankers at the end, it had been another day that began with high hopes and ended in the rubble of cruel reality. I rolled my tongue around in my mouth, collecting small clumps of salt. And bitter.

The real race, for the real racers, however, had ended much differently.

[Tune in tomorrow for “How Devil’s Punchbowl 2012 Was Won Through Trickery, Treachery, and Deceit, and How Fireman Borrowed My Rear Tire but Lived to Regret It and How Mighty Mouse Learned the Importance of Checking the Race Flyer for Starting Times and Never Trusting the Most Notoriously Late Racer in the State to Tell Her When Her Race Was Supposed to Go Off and How Tink Listened to Wanky and How Roxy Almost Broke Her Hoo-Ha”]

The taste of bitter, Devil’s Punchbowl 2012, Part 2

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone. Beauty soon fades away, but ugly holds its own.”

In nature, few things seem to have been as graced with beauty as the blossom of the pear. In the Golden State, few places look as if they have been repeatedly shot with a large caliber shit pistol so repeatedly as Pearblossom, CA. Studies confirm that few places outside of Lubbock are as pitilessly ugly as Pearblossom.

The name came from the multitude of local pear farms along the southern ridge of the Antelope Valley. A few still exist today, but most of those farms are now abandoned and have returned to the snake-infested desert landscape or have been overridden by tract housing developments, most of which are rotting and empty after the mortgage meltdown.

Perhaps it’s the first big sign that greets you when you turn onto Pearblossom Highway that says “Dumpsters for Rent!” Perhaps it’s the giant billboard in Little Rock that says “We Get You Off!” and shows a picture of a traffic citation with a red strike through it. Perhaps it’s the sign announcing a “Gentleman’s Club, Opening Soon!” or the paralegal services office in a broken down shack with burglar bars, or the billboard that says “Animals Are Children, Too. Don’t Abandon Them!” The children? The animals? (PS: No, Pearblossomites, animals are not children.)

Maybe it’s the signboard for the “opening soon” Pearblossom Fitness Club, or for the torque converters, or the flags of all nations (“Hey, Mom! Let’s stop in and get a flag of North Korea!”), signs for used tires, a psychic reader, a thrift store…all the things that are “coming” and “opening soon” juxtaposed with the filthy, broken down, impoverished, trash-strewn, meth-addled community fixtures that have already come and opened long ago to the apparent benefit of no one.

Team Helen’s Dev Chicks and Occupy Pearblossom

Fact is, Wankmeister showed up to this nasty little hell-hole to win a bicycle race. His form had been confirmed at Vlees Huis RR the week before by none other than Glass Hip, Roadchamp, and G$, each of whom pulled him aside and said, “Yo, Wanky, you almost didn’t suck today. Good job!”

That day, that epic, unforgettable day in the anus of the Central Valley, Wankmeister had had golden legs, or, as Jack from Illinois (not his real name) suggested, “A good enough day of racing to fuel the delusion for another fifteen years that you’ll win something.”

Wankmeister’s system was coursing with the three bottles of aspirin he’d taken that morning to thin his blood. His veins were chock full of sausage, pancakes, butter, and heavy cream. The stool he had whipped up and deposited in the porta-potty was not only aesthetically perfect, consisting of a gigantic two-foot long curling brown slug coiled in a nice tight pile and topped with a curly-poop at the end, but its fumes were lethal enough to overwhelm the three gallons of Blue tumped in the bottom of the turdbox.

It was showtime, and Wankmeister was the show.

And then the Team Helen’s Dev Chicks showed up, and all heck broke loose.

Fifteen minutes before my race began, an out of control black SUV careened down to the Positively No Cars Allowed area and tried to run over the sheriff’s deputy. “Get your car out of here!” the frightened officer roared.

The Dev Chicks, assuming that they could just drive to the front and get the car valet parked like they did at the Springsteen concert, were surprised, but not for long. Gangstachick did a u-turn, ran over $30k worth of bikes, knocked over a portapotty, and squeezed the SUV into a tiny gravel spot hardly big enough for a Prius.

I pretended not to know them and continued warming up. With ten minutes to go, Irish Lassie flagged me down. “Oh, dear sweet Wankmeister! We have a mechanical problem. Could you help?”

Wankmeister was amazed. Not known for his mechanical aptitude, this chick might as well have been asking him to help with her orgasm, another area where he’d been known to clumsily fumble around unsuccessfully trying to properly adjust tiny, hard-to-see parts to the mutual frustration of all parties concerned. “Uh, sure. I guess. What’s wrong?”

“My chain fell off.”

“Well, fuck, that’s easy. Here, let’s put the motherfucker back on. I gotta race in five minutes so let’s hurry.”

Gangstachick paused to watch the proceedings as she pinned on C.U. Tomorrow’s number upside down. “Upsidedown, rightside up, who gives a fuck? It’s not my jersey,” she said.

Soon, however, Irish Lassie’s chaindrop problem became more complex, same as with the female orgasm. “What the fuck did you do? Put the goddamn bike upside down on the bike rack and drive it for 300 miles over cattle guards?” The chain had done the impossible–it had fallen off the chain and then somehow fallen through the chain guard. Now the chain guard was blocking it from being put back up on the small ring.

Fortunately, Irish Lassie kept her bike well maintained by dousing the chain in two quarts of motor oil before each race. Within seconds, Wankmeister’s dainty fingers, and soon his nicely turned wrists, were covered in thick black oil and protective sand. And no matter how many times he shouted “You sorry motherfucker chain guard piece of shit,” the chain wouldn’t come back on.

Irish Lassie made helpful suggestions such as “I hope this doesn’t make you late for your race. You can chase on, though, can’t you?” and “Have you ever done this before?” and my personal favorite, “Why don’t you push it the other way?”

Wanky finally gave up, but not before Gangstachick gave him a moving blanket that she keeps in the back of her SUV next to some pillows for, uh, moving, and he vainly tried to rub off the filthy, oily slime. Suddenly, Irish Lassie cried out “I think I got it!” Wankmeister turned just in time to see the chain hovering exactly in the perfect position to get under the guard.

“Don’t fucking touch it!” he yelled. With a few gentle, careful, tender, loving touches, each one gradually increasing in emotion and intensity, the chain finally slipped with a crescendo back under the chain guard and onto the chainring.

Irish Lassie wilted, and Gangaschick wiggled her cute butt in appreciation.

Wankmeister raced to the line, his heart pumping, his hands covered in grease, and ready to tear some legs off. Game fuckin’ on!

[Tune in tomorrow for “Ol’ Gizzards and Fatty Throw Down at Pukebowl]

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