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 paĆ­s 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.

The Rock and roll, chicks conquer all

September 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

The game plan was 100+ miles out to The Rock at Point Mugu. MT4 miles. Steady out, steady back. No attacks, no single-file death drills, no sign sprints. Just try to average 19mph and be home before noon, with a pee stop, a fuel stop, and time budgeted for the inevitable couple of flats. Everyone welcome, including our local bike chicks.

Of course, as soon as that message went out, a single complaint came in.

“The chicks are coming? Aw, man, we’ll be waiting all day for ‘em. It’s too rolling on PCH for the chicks to keep up. They’ll fade off the back and we’ll do in seven hours what we can do in five. Hope you know what you’re doing. Chicks on the ride means sloooooow.”

I considered these various objections and dealt with them as politely and diplomatically as I knew how: “Have you ever thought about going and fucking yourself and the bike you rode in on? Chicks are welcome. Chicks are just as tough as any of us, and most of them are tougher because they have to put up with small-peckered athletic men who can’t stand to admit that women are their equals, causing the insecure guys to make the extra effort to push the pace to shell the chicks.

“This is a steady pace ride. Our women can hang and they’ll benefit from the miles and steady pace just as much as we will. Money in the bank for those of us doing MT4, money in the bank for the women doing the MS 150. It will be hard for everyone, and if they get into trouble on the rollers they’ll have to pace themselves back up to the group. No hand holding and no baby coddling, but no deliberate ass-kicking accelerations, either. Anyone who doesn’t like it can ride the fuck with someone else’s group.”

MT4 Celebrity Checklist

The 6:00 a.m. meet-up at MBSB featured a singular assortment of the very best that Ironfly has to offer, true heroes of the South Bay: the Chief, sitting primed on the stoop, Paul D., Doug P. Dave A., Neumann, Big Mike, Marc, and Yuletide. Other celebrity guns included Haaron W., Chris J., Jim M., Jens, Robert M., SB Wheelmen Tom, Taylor and Renee, Vicki V., Jonesey, King Harold, and Occidental Dan. At the Ocean Park toilets Matt J. and Santa Monica’s most renowned County of Mayo Irishman/Ukrainian Jewish therapist joined the ride as well.

A couple of riders were chagrined to learn that a 6:00 a.m. departure means, oddly enough, that the ride departs at 6:00 a.m. This entailed a bit of chasing until they overhauled us at the toilets. Elderly prostates were relieved at Ocean Park, and Jens took the opportunity to flat. This brought into play Rule #2: Make sure you’re not joining the group ride on a pair of paper-thin, worn-to-the-thread tires, and the Good Tire Rule’s corollary–don’t bring the deep dish Swagmaster two-spoke wheels with the high tech CO2 gun if you don’t know how to remove the tire or use the gun. I learned this the hard way back in 2009, when I switched from tubulars to a pair of Zipp clinchers and flatted going up Seven Minute Climb with Joe Y. and Rudy. They watched in amusement as I tried to put the tube atop the tire…Joe reminds me of it at suitable intervals.

We had all expected German precision and a quick tire change, but Jens ended up admitting to Big Mike that he had no idea how to use the CO2 gun, and moreover he had brought a tube with 48mm stem for his deep dish Swagmasters. This left a tiny little penis tip of a protrusion around which he fumbled the cartridge, prematurely releasing most of the gas. We all hoped that his tire change methodology wasn’t a metaphor for his sex life. Big Mike introduced him to the intricacies of the valve extender and we were on our way.

Manly Men and Their Many Manly Meanderings

When we hit PCH at Will Rogers State Beach, the wind was blowing straight into our faces. By the time we hit Trancas, it was clear that the “chicks” were going to hang, and hang tough. Dave, Jonesey, and Noel took long turns on the front, and the final five-mile slog to the rock saw Doug hunker down on the point and motor into the teeth of a sapping and relentless headwind. We stopped briefly at The Rock, had a candy bar, and turned around.

Noel came to the front and battered on the point all the way back to Santa Monica. “I like to be where the pain is,” he said as he ramped it up to 27 and held it for most of the return from Cross Creek. It was only my repeated whimpering that caused him to back it off in the last few miles to Temescal. The women displayed impressive grittiness as we tackled each successively steep roller, ascending the sharp walls out of Ventura County Line, Trancas, and the roller before Latigo. When we hit the bike path at Temescal and ratcheted back the pace, we all looked at each other and realized that the exhaustion and fatigue wasn’t a gender thing…it was a bike thing, and the bike thing is an equal opportunity ass-kicker.

MT4 Training ride out to the Rock at Point Mugu

August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Click on this link to see the MT4 training ride route for Saturday, September 3, 2011. Everyone is welcome. The ride leaves at 6:00 a.m. from the Starbucks at Manhattan Beach. It will be a non-hammerfest. No one gets dropped unless you just completely give up. Expect stops to pee and take on fuel. This is not an organized or sponsored ride, there will be no sag support or road closures, so you’ll be riding at your own risk, facing the normal hazards of cycling on the open roads and pedaling in a group. It came out to 118 miles last week, ending at the top of the hill in PV; average speed was just under 19mph.

Here’s a nice post that was forwarded to my by Mark regarding group rides, why they usually suck, and why they didn’t used to suck as much as they suck now. Click on this link and cogitate.

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