Crazy little thing called “love”

August 15, 2012 § 5 Comments

High levels of molybdenum can interfere with the body’s uptake of copper, producing copper deficiency. Symptoms include diarrhea, stunted growth, anemia, and achromotrichia. On the other hand, not having enough causes high levels of sulfite and urate, and neurological damage. So it makes sense that in order to get just the right amount, you’d go to Leadville, CO for the weekend, a scenic little village known for its molybdenum production.

What makes less sense is that you’d go there for a 104-mile bike race. It’s located at 19,324 feet, which is higher than Mt. Everest, although slightly shorter than Via la Cuesta (per Nancy). Leadville is an old mining town, which is tourist-speak for “run down, polluted shit-hole that is unbearably cold in winter, too far from everything fun in summer, and populated by people who, after four generations, all look the same.”

It took a visionary like Ken Chlouber, a former mining supervisor, to revive the town on a tried-and-true concept: There’s a sucker born every minute!

The night before the race

Nothing is as nerve-wracking as the night before a big race, and our hero from the South Bay had made the trek determined to succeed. He had prepared. He knew the course backwards and forwards. He had memorized every single rest stop, poop stop, waystation, halfway house, IV drip station, and custom coffin manufacturer. There would be no surprises.

He’d prepared all year to be the best HUB at the Leadville 100, the hand-up bitch to beat all hand-up bitches. It would be a huge responsibility keeping Mighty Mouse and Tree fueled for this epic race, but he’d grown a three-foot beard. He’d bought a crumpled cowboy hat. He was wearing an orange skirt. G$ was ready.

That’s “MISTER” Hand-up Bitch to you, pal

Leadville is an out and back course and has featured some of the finest cyclists in the world, men with stuff in their veins that doesn’t qualify as blood, but can’t properly be called ice water, either. Lance, Levi, and Floyd have all taken on this legendary course, and have set course records that have yet to be struck down by an appeals court, an arbitration panel, or a post-judgment ruling.

The race begins at 10,200 feet. This is twice as high as Denver, but only about one-hundredth as high as Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver in 1985, when I saw the Dead there. Arriving a week before the race to hone her altitude fitness, Mighty Mouse remarked, “Dog, I’m out of breath just climbing the stairs!”

G$, who was there to polish his HUB skills, turned to her that first evening and said, “Honey, I’m winded just brushing my teeth.”

The dawn of the day of the damned

Mighty Mouse knew she was in select company, as she lined up with only 3,000 cyclists, a fraction of the number who’d come out on the NPR the week before to see if Prez was really going to wear a lime green jersey and purple shorts (he did).

She was parked in the third starting corral, with 800 people in front, which, though daunting, wasn’t nearly as bad as Puddsy Osterknocker, who was in the 187th corral and had 2,999 wankers he’d have to pass. Or not.

At the start of the race a wanker on a purple bike with skinny tires, a month of razor stubble, triple that amount of B.O., and a big booger stuck to his mustache turned to Mighty Mouse and said “This is going to be an epic day!” She closed her eyes and prayed that she wouldn’t fall off a cliff, and if she did, that B.O. Boy wouldn’t fall anywhere near her.

Neutral start with a twist of lemon and a slice of battery acid

Mighty Mouse stared at her front wheel, body tensed, mind focused on the task at hand as an overwhelming feeling of excitement flooded through her, tingling her extremities and making her think of…never mind…that’s in the Fifty Shades of Leadville, a sequel coming next month for which you’ll have to pay.

The starting shotgun fired, a few birds fell from the sky, and they rolled out on a neutral start through Leadville. For each neutral pedal stroke of the neutral start, neutral wankers neutrally fought for every neutral millimeter of position, neutrally clawing, bumping, rubbing, headbutting, and threading impossible non-openings to gain any neutral advantage for the first climb.

Scrambling and gasping and pounding as hard as they could, the wankoton hit St. Keivens, and the gradual pace fit perfectly with Mighty Mouse’s grand plan, which was first not to die, and second, not to fall off the cliff with B.O. Boy. After climbing a few miles, she came onto pavement only to discover that Murphy’s Law of Bike Racing applies even in Leadville: The crazy/dangerous/stinky dude you’re most desperate to avoid in the 3,000-strong peloton is the wanker you’ll be with the entire race.

B.O. Boy’s preparation had been less than ideal, and he was hanging onto Mighty Mouse’s wheel making awful moaning sounds that frightened the small children lining the route. She decided to lose the stinker with a fast descent around Turquoise Lake, then pounded up Hagerman’s Pass to Sugerloaf Mountain to the top of Powerline. The climbs were standard 6% grade with a few puddles here and there, until you realize that six percent is enough to turn you into a melted marshmallow after four or five minutes of hard effort. B.O. Boy had found his second wind and sprunted off ahead, but never so far that the awful smell didn’t drift back to the followers.

More power to the engine, Mr. Scott!

Picture a 30% grade that’s about eleventy twelve miles long. Okay, there’s something wrong with you if you can picture that. Then picture the bottom part with hard packed sand, two foot ruts, sharp turns, and no consistent line unless you’re driving a bulldozer. Oh, and the top half is covered with jagged rocks, human skulls, tiger pits, and angry motorists with rifles. You’ve just pictured the Powerline climb.

It gets its picturesque name, oddly enough, from a power line. Those Leadvillains may be dumb, but they sure are stupid.

As Mighty Mouse overtook B.O. Boy, eyes tearing up from the effort, several of her co-workers began the first series of crashes, as they would get stuck in between ruts, while at the same time more skilled riders were rocketing down, more or less out of control (usually more), on both sides of the trail.

The carnage was awful to behold. Wankers flopping on their sides. Wankers flying over the handlebars into the ruts at speed. Wankers tipping over and cracking their noggins on the rocks. It was like the biggest fred ride in the history of the universe interspersed with some of the best, fastest, most skilled MTB riders in the galaxy. It was the NPR after a gravel truck spill, on steroids. (Uh, maybe not a great analogy).

Mighty Mouse let the wankers fold, picked a great line, and pounded her way down. On the downhill she careened around fallen riders, leaped tall trees, and generally got down in one piece. The last time she saw B.O. Boy he was begging a kid spectator for a drink from the kid’s coke can while the child frantically dialed 911.

If it’s called “Pipeline” then you can surf it

Mighty Mouse hit the pavement and sat for a few minutes while the smallish wankoton looked about, each rider hoping the other would stick his nose in the wind. No one wanted to pull.

Surprise.

Putting her exceptional NPR training to good use, she Went to the Front and began stomping the snot out of the limpish appendages hanging out of various male bib shorts. This got the paceline going, and they reached Twin Lakes in roughly 3 hours. To put this in perspective, a normal person would do the same route in three days, give or take a month.

At Twin Lakes, Mighty Mouse’s hand-up bitch churned to the fore, stepping on the heads and internal organs of other, less experienced HUB’s. Blowing into the feed zone at 20 mph it was first hard to spot G$ among the hundreds of screaming people all trying to find their rider. It seemed like half of them were there for B.O. Boy, but even the Army of Stink was no match for G$ in his full-on hand-up bitch mode.

With some HUB’s clinging to his beard, others latching onto his Stetson, he shook them loose with kicks, bites, and scratches as he refueled the mighty tank of the Mighty Mouse.

The Columbine beatdown

This 10-mile, 3,000-foot ascent up the face of one of the toughest climbs in the race, summiting at 12,500 feet, was destined to bring even the hardiest wankers to their bloodied, quivering knees.

Picture a gravel-covered Fernwood for five miles, and then the climb gets really nasty. It goes from gravel to loose rock, to even looser rock, and gets steeper as you climb higher before it ends in a rusty guillotine, under which your head is placed. The blade, dulled from the rust, simply hammers your head two or thirteen times until the agony in your temples makes a migraine look like headache relief. That’s what happens when you run your body through hell with no oxygen. That’s why people die on Everest. And that’s why you and I are reading about this in the comfort of our beanbag chair, smoking a doobie and ordering more pizza.

Mighty Mouse reached down to swig from her bottle, but hardly had the oxygen to swallow. Chewing her GU rubber thingies required so much oxygen for her jaw muscles that she had to do Lamaze just to get down a bite.

Obi-wan Kenobi tells the Jedi that The Force is with them

Just as the Lamaze breathing seemed as if it would induce delivery, Mighty Mouse looked up to see the Leadville founder, the Zen master of MTB, the karmic spirit of the greatest MTB race ever, the tantric sex god who invented the “Triple-hold Reverse Battering Ram,” Ken Chlouber himself, the man who knew so much about mountain biking that he wasn’t about to do this stupid race again, at treeline yelling “Dig deep! You’re tougher than you think you are! You can do more than you think you can!”

Mighty Mouse was so inspired she would have cried had she not been trying to keep from vomiting.

With the words of Chlouber ringing in her ears, Mighty Mouse was able to ride to the goat trail about 1/2-mile from the top of Columbine where she had to get off and walk. And so the death march began. If you think riding a bike to exhaustion is awful, wait ’til you have to follow it with a ten-minute bike push up a 300% grade paved with glass and dead people.

This marked the turnaround! The survivors had their numbers recorded, thanked the volunteers, sobbed on their shoulders, asked where the taxi stand was, and upon learning that there wasn’t one, they began the epic descent down Columbine.

Easy for you to say

Incredible as it sounds to think that 3,000 wankers would ride their bikes up a mine shaft on top of Mt. Everest, it was more incredible when Mighty Mouse saw that, as she bombed down the mountain, there were thousands of people walking up.

Where were they from?

What were they doing?

Why were they doing it?

Did anyone have a stretcher?

As she blew by, the enthusiastic spectatewalkers shouted, “You’re almost at the top!” and “Keep your tires rolling!” and most terrifying of all “Rider up! I’m on your ass like buttfloss!”

After the Columbine descent, Mighty Mouse’s HUB reappeared, handing her food, drink, and a healthy helping of encouragement. She quickly grabbed more stuff, and headed back to Pipeline.

The next ten miles were into a brutal headwind. She was alone. She was tired. She was hoping that Sasquatch might show up and give her a push. She remembered that one mile on an MTB is like a thousand miles on a normal road bike with no air and square wheels.

In the out door, or up the down climb

Part of the horror of Leadville is that everything you encounter on the way out, you encounter on the way back. The nasty climbs are hairy descents, and the hairy descents are nasty climbs. Mighty Mouse climbed the first steep section of Powerline, her legs feeling like Leadville, her lungs starting to burn holes in the bottom, and strange bits of phlegm, blood, and esophogeal tissue coming out her ears

It was now Mile 80, her legs crumpled, and she dismounted.  After a respite, she hopped back on and rode the rest of the way up. A few false flats made the job easier, but like everything else in this race, as soon as something got easier it got lots harder. In this case the flats had loose rock, which made it hard to gain traction.

Down the rocky, technical, terrifying, death-defying section onto Turquoise Lake Road, then another fast descent, and then a climb up the back side of the lake. This was the point where the living were separated from the dead.

With each pedal stroke a mash of agony, Mighty Mouse couldn’t believe her luck when a young, muscular, tanned, fit young Adonis with perfectly moussed hair ran up along side her. “Hey,” he said in a baritone. “Mind if I sample the goods?”

“Smart shoppers always do,” she said as his strong, sinewy, powerful palms pressed against her aching ass. He pushed, then caught up to her, then pushed again. He was strong, and each shove sent her flying up the road, allowing precious recovery before her legs kicked back to life.

“Was it good for you?” he shouted as she pedaled off. “It was awesome for me!”

Hand-up Bitch to the rescue!

Having gnarled her way through one hundred miles of freds, ruts, crashes, hypooxygenation, mental fatigue, and physical collapse, Mighty Mouse had only a few miles to go, but her tank was so dangerously low that she didn’t see how she’d conquer the final four-mile Boulevard Climb. This vicious stinger on the end of the ride was inhuman: lined with the bones of last year’s decedents and covered with nails and soft sand, Mighty Mouse knew her race was at an end. Nothing could get her up this final hill.

In the run-up to the climb she’d hopped onto a paceline, and it was rolling fast, even though everyone knew they’d crack and quit two hundred yards into the climb. And then, there on the side was G$, armed with the Special Hand-up Bitch Bottle…but the speed! He’d never get her a hand-up at 25mph!

Trained as a track star, and the recipient of countless high-speed hand-ups, Mighty Mouse’s HUB knew exactly what to do. He spun and began sprinting as if shot out of a gun. His brief burst hit maximum speed as MM raced by, arm outstretched. She grabbed the bottle perfectly!

And no ordinary bottle was it! This was G$’s last reserve of Ruggedmaxx Endurance IV, which had the effect of slinging Mighty Mouse up the last four-mile climb like a rocket and giving all the men in a four-mile radius erections that lasted for two days.

All’s well that ends well on the Leadville 100, especially if it’s someone else doing it

As she approached the finish line children were scattering, cowbells were ringing, and babies were crying. A feeling of amazing accomplishment came over her as she rolled onto the red carpet. A Leadman himself placed a medal around her neck. She was so happy to get off her bike and be done, especially because there was a cool 85-mile trail ride she wanted to do the following day.

She started to tear up as she realized what she had accomplished, and how lucky she’d been to have the best hand-up bitch in America there when she needed him most.

For him, too, it had been an amazing day, hanging out on the trails, drinking whatever was left in castaway bottles, snacking on the numerous mashed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and best of all, running up and down the trails with the four and five-year old kids. He was definitely the only kid with a three-foot beard.

After the race, the two champions, each successful in their own way, enjoyed a candlelight dinner over hamburgers while drunken Leadvillains played banjo love songs to their next of kin.

Until next year, all hail the Mighty Mouse!

Heeeeere’s Johnny!

August 11, 2012 § 59 Comments

Jonathan Vaughters has publicly admitted what we already knew, just in time for USADA’s supplemental briefing for Judge Sparks, which will almost certainly identify the eyewitnesses who will corroborate Lance Armstrong’s use of all kinds of nasty shit to win the TdF against dudes who were using the same nasty shit. Want to bet that JV will be on the list?

Too bad he doesn’t read my blog. I posted three form doper apology letters yesterday, and he could have sent in the “apologetic doper” form and saved himself a lot of work. He could have also saved himself some embarrassment. You know, the embarrassment from saying totally ridiculous shit that makes him look like a liar and a hypocrite, and that makes us look like tools for taking the time to read it.

Sigh.

Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to doping

Doping and drugs are fine if you want to do them. It’s a form of cheating, just like changing your line in a sprunt, cutting the course, lying on your upgrade request, entering a race while serving a suspension, racing in a category other than one stated on your license, or telling your wife that you’re not fucking your secretary.

And although I’d rather finish last (and often do) than cheat, it doesn’t bother me terribly that others break the rules any more than it bothers me that some happily married people are happiest in another woman’s bed. In fact, the hacker who beat me out for 56th thanks to his high-octane EPO protocol is probably a much nicer chap than some undoped asshole who intentionally chops my wheel and tries to take me down on a fucking training ride.

Which brings me to my next point: as Michael Creed so eloquently put it, even though doping wasn’t for him, he didn’t judge someone as a bad person for doping. There were plenty of dopers who he’d have been glad to have as neighbors, and other clean athletes who were complete douchebags.

So you’re condoning DOPING? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhgh!

No. But I’m not condemning it either. If you dope in some cheeseball masters crit and win $50, that doesn’t bother me. I wasn’t going to win it no matter what you did or didn’t take. If you dope in some big stage race and make millions as a cancer survivor while viciously destroying the lives and careers of people who call you a doper…that’s different. That’s evil.

But back to JV, and his sob-story about the evils of doping and how we must never again allow children’s souls to be killed through doping. Yes, he really said that.

I’ve bulleted his stupid anti-doping arguments, which he should have summed up by saying, “It’s cheating. Cheating is bad. So don’t cheat.” But nooooooooooooo…

  1. “Doping takes away childhood dreams.” Dude, childhood dreams die with childhood. Life is a nasty, brutish affair that ends horribly for everyone. No exceptions. It’s like the first time a young woman sees a big ol’ penis and gets told, “This is going in there.” Whoa! Major childhood dream massacre! Why should bicycle chasers be exempt from harsh reality? Answer: They shouldn’t be, and they aren’t.
  2. “Doping forces you to lie.” Whaaaat? Doping doesn’t force you to lie, being human does. Humans are liars. Batfuck, dishonest, conniving, duplicitous shits who will say anything to advance themselves. They may also tell the truth when it’s convenient, but hate to tell you, JV, people were lying long before EPO.
  3. “Doping forces young athletes to abandon their sport if they choose not to dope.” Wait a minute…that’s a negative? Trading in your stinky bibs for an Armani and a cubicle at Goldman-Sachs? Sign me up! Cycling is a cul-de-sac, and the only people in it are broken, or deluded, or drug-addled, or all of the above. The more young athletes who give up this ignoble pursuit as a profession and go get real jobs, the better. You can bicycle chase on the weekend.
  4. “Doping can make the difference in the TdF between 1st and 100th.” Not exactly. When most of the peloton’s doped, as it still is, the difference between first and one hundredth place is in your teammates, your tactics, your bike racing skills, the sophistication of your microdosing, and your ability to train far from the testers.
  5. “Riders who refused to dope, and walked away, were punished for following their moral compass.” Okay, everybody take off your stupid hats if that made sense. The whole point behind morality is to do what’s right, regardless of the consequences. In fact, it is only by taking the punishment of an unjust system that morality makes sense. You’re never punished for taking a moral stand, you’re rewarded for it because, asshole, morality is its own reward. Which is the main reason it’s so unpopular.
  6. “We’ve made huge strides. Just look at these Olympics!” No. I will not watch four Jamaican dudes run faster than the rest of the world combined and call that a celebration of clean sport. The only sport nastier than track and field is professional soccer, football, baseball, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing, basketball, horse racing…etc.
  7. “Athletes only dope because they just want a fair chance, a level playing field.” That’s like those dorks who say they want to win the lottery so they can make the world a better place. Next time you see them, they’re broke, drunk in a gutter, and covered in venereal sores. Athletes hate fairness. They want an edge, a leg up, a lighter bike, faster wheels, cyanide in their opponent’s coffee, anything to get ahead of the competition. Cycling was a cheat-filled sport long before EPO, and it will be one long after.

Conclusion

What I really wanted to write about was Mighty Mouse, Tree, Katie, and the other badasses who did Leadville today, not to mention their trusty sidekicks who made sure they were well fed and watered for this grueling event. Oh, well. Maybe tomorrow.

A 15-minute video is worth an hour of excusifying

May 28, 2012 § 15 Comments

It’s hard to explain to people what it’s like riding with the leaders up the climb on the Holiday Ride. “Um, it’s hard,” or “Well, you see I was gassed and then Billy Boozles made a sweep up the right-side gutter while Arnie Aspartame swung off and then…”

Thanks to my new GoPro helmet cam, I got the chance to video the thing and let you see for yourself. Click here to watch the Mandeville Canyon climb all the way to the top with the leaders. Don’t tell me that it’s “blurry” or “fuzzy” or “dogshit quality video, dude.”

It seems that I stuck my finger on the lens cover and smudged it. Still, remind me again, how much did you pay for this? Exactly.

My ride commentary, with video documentation, is below.

#1. The video don’t lie

It’s amazing how much people lie about what they did during a ride. By the time they get done, they’ve fabricated a narrative that is so distorted that you wonder if the dude telling you the story was in the same century as you, much less in the same breakaway.

This video quickly punctures some of the biggest whoppers that bubbled up immediately after the climb. G3 complained, after getting caught and dropped, that his teammates had chased him down.

They all denied it. Vehemently. “We wuz riding tempo so you could stay away!” “I’d never chase down a teammate!” “Some dudes from another team reeled you in, dude, I swear!”

No.

G3 was brought back by a well-oiled machine consisting exclusively of his own teammates. I know it won’t make you feel any better, Greg, but this is exactly how I feel when you chase me down on the Wheatgrass Ride, or when you chase me down at TELO, or when you drop me going up to the Domes. The only difference is that we’re not teammates. On the other hand, I know you’d do it to me even if we were.

Plus, there was no way in hell you were going to solo the canyon vee. Unless, of course, your teammates hadn’t chased you down, in which case, well, who knows?

#2. The dude taking the video is a wheelsuck deluxe

Yep. I sat on the whole way. Never took a pull. You’ll see Surfer Dan look back a couple of times and invite me to take a turn. You’ll see me refuse.

“Wow,” you’re thinking. “This is the guy who’s always telling everyone to take a pull? What a douche.”

As I like to say, “If the nozzle fits…”

I was gassed and too afraid of Surfer Dan to do anything other than suck wheel and pray that no one attacked hard enough to drop me, which is what usually happens. That’s how it is when you’re a wanker.

#3 The dude who won the hill is an even bigger wanker

Yeah. Sitting on your teammate for the entire canyon climb and then blasting by him with totally fresh legs after assisting with the earlier chase, catch, and drop of G3, who is also your teammate? What’s up with that?

Answer, and I quote: “That’s MY wall.”

Those who don’t know Tree well will know this much after watching this video: It’s all about Strava. He will sit, chill, and torch anyone, teammates included, if it gets him closer to a Strava record. In this case, he didn’t get the KOM, but he moved up the leaderboard to fourth. And he got the KOM for something called “Westridge to White Picket Fence.” So there’s that.

Attacking and dropping your teammate who tows you all the way to the end and being labeled a wanker is a small price to pay for an incremental gain on Strava.

Those of you who think this is just sour grapes because he blasted by me so fast and hard I couldn’t have hung on with a tow rope…you’re right! Of course, if I have to get my ass handed to me on a plate, Tree’s my first choice as server, because even after I called out his wankage he smiled back and said, “Good effort out there, Wanky!” Some people are nice no matter what. Go figure.

#4. Dave Jaeger is a total badass

The dude is 51 years old. Remembers Armistice Day. Helped Caesar cross the Rubicon. Was one of the first users of the new invention, dirt. Nonetheless, he attacks the breakaway. Gets reeled in by Surfer Dan. Attacks again and dusts off the remaining hangers-on. Gets reeled in.

Still finishes with the break for fifth. Tells me after the ride, “You rode smart for once.”

Me: “I wasn’t riding. I was holding on for dear life.”

#5. The real artillery was either home getting oiled or out doing a real race at CBR

Kalashnikov and G$ started the ride, which was about 150 strong, but parted company in Marina del Rey to go and do a real bike race instead of a kit parade w/15-minute hillclimb effort + frappucino at CotKU. Roadchamp was home, resting after a hard weekend of riding and putting the finishing touches on his afterburners for the state road race next weekend in Bakersfield. King Harold, Launch, Vapor, Critchamp, et al. were racing, placing, or winning.

#6. Tink is amazing

Check out the first part of the video where she winds up the pace and keeps the gas on. You can’t see the wreckage in the rear because I’m too busy sucking wheel to look back and catch it with my helmet cam, but she’s causing mayhem and destruction behind her. She sheared three minutes off her Mandeville PR and finished just after the first chase group. She now holds the QOM for Mandeville and sits 20th on the men’s leaderboard. This girl is simply incredible.

#7. The camera makes your butt look fat

It’s a 170-degree wide angle, and my nose is pretty much stuffed up your rear end, further magnifying the ginormousness of your hindquarters. Trust me, in real life your derriere is svelte, lean, muscled, and the stuff of magazine covers. It’s the fault of the camera that we all look like candidates for a bovine butt porn shoot.

#8. Surfer Dan is a total badass

Yesterday he went up to NorCal and got 8th in the state road race. This morning he turned on the jets going up San Vicente and kicked most of the holidayers out the back. On Mandeville he ramped it up, led the vicious chase to reel in his teammate, chased down Jaeger twice, shrugged his shoulders when Wankmeister cowered in the rear, and drilled it all the way to the top. He was gracious and not in the least bit miffed by Tree’s finish line antics or by my wheelsuckage, proving that the really good guys just go do their ride and never bitch about the result, while we wankers run home to our keyboard, uncork and savor a vintage 1876 whine.

BMiB3

May 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

We went out yesterday evening and saw MiB3. It’s a movie about these badass dudes dressed in black, and they fight aliens and shit. They bust the shit out of the aliens with weird weapons and blast them into pieces and in the process they almost get killed themselves.

At the end of the movie the world gets saved and everyone was happy except me, who had to part with $24. I liked those twenty-four dollars and I already miss them a lot.

So I was sitting there watching this badass dude smash the fuck out of this freaky alien and the alien crumbled into bits and I was thinking “What the fuck am I paying money to watch some badass dude in black and a black badass dude beat the fuck out of some alien when I just spent my whole fucking Saturday watching badass black men in black beat the fuck out of a bunch of wankers on bikes? And it didn’t cost me no 24 fucking dollars.”

Badass black men in black, coming soon to a public toilet near you

We got to the Ocean Park toilets this morning and picked up Guns, Bucks, Vapor, and Critchamp. Except for Bucks, they were all pretty much dressed in black. I was thinking “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB beatdown.”

Then up rolls a white dude in mostly black, Launch, and we were all like “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB + WMiB beatdown to the tenth degree.”

Of the assembled wankers, most of us were thinking variations of what Arkansas Traveler said: “This doesn’t look good.”

Or the boys from church: “We don’t see much in the way of a blessing here.”

Or Prez: “I rode all the way from Pedro to be part of a massacre?”

Or the Dentist: “Are we drilling it all the way back from Encinal?”

From Ride to the Rock to the Highway to Hell Ride

Last August we started doing a Saturday ride from the Center of the Known Universe out to The Rock on PCH. It was in preparation for the annual Ironfly ManTour. The good thing about the ride was that it got you an easy hundred, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was the perfect wanker ride.

The down side to the ride was that it was easy, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was a terrible ride if you wanted any intensity.

Earlier this year I heard Tom Danielson talk about how great a climb Decker Lane was. Decker is one of the climbs we pass on the way to The Rock on PCH. So several weeks ago we put together a new route that tried to fix some of the shortcomings of the other route. We still did the steady, social, 2 x 2 paceline all the way to Trancas, with people getting a chance to warm up, chat, and get that good vibe you can only get from an organized, steady, longish ride.

After Trancas, we then climbed Decker. Decker is such a steep, vicious, long, and nasty climb that you can’t do it at an easy pace. It’s a true legbreaker. Fortunately, just before you reach Decker, we also pass Encinal, which is a longer, much  gentler climb that merges with Decker at the top, so everyone has a choice. Ride so hard you want to vomit, or get in a steady power climb, the choice is yours.

At the top of Decker, we regroup, and descend Encinal to PCH.

From there, it’s game on. We start as hard as we can, immediately fall into a rotating paceline, and people fry off the back. By the time we climb out of Trancas on PCH, and certainly by the time we get over the roller before Latigo, the group is left with its final members, who continue drilling it all the way back to Temescal Canyon in Santa Monica. The total drillfest is about 24 miles.

MiB set out to destroy the aliens

We got started on the PCH return trip, and before going too far we overtook Prez, who had been separated from the group due to a navigational error. Originally intending to climb with the power group up Encinal, he mistakenly turned with the homicide group up Decker. When Tree, Launch, and the Dentist took off, Prez found himself last man in the wanker group that included me, Arkansas Traveler, Tumbleweed, and Sophia Loren. As Sophia pedaled by him, he made a u-turn and returned to PCH.

However, no one at the top knew that Prez had turned around, so after waiting for a while, Launch, Dentist, and I partially descended Decker looking for him. Ouch. We concluded that he’d pulled an Abandy Schleck, and went back up again.

When we passed Prez on PCH, he hopped into the rotating paceline, and when his turn came he took a monstrous pull. It strung the group out into a single file as he mashed the pedals in fury. When he finally came off the point and started floating back, I advised him, “Dude, you better take really short pulls. The MiB are getting ready to take out their reverberating carbonizers, and if you don’t wanna get vaporized, you better save a few blasts in the De-Molecularhazard Excell 12.” Unfortunately, I should have taken my own advice, as Launch, Vapor, and Critchamp began blasting aliens right, left, and center.

Launch uses the Cosmic Integrator coming out of Trancas

By the time we hit the bottom of the hill coming out of Trancas, the MiB had blasted, wasted, toasted, and roasted a host of aliens. Some of their stray shots had also, unfortunately, blasted a few of my fellow wankers, who were now cut adrift on PCH and forced to suffer home alone.

With the exception of Launch and the Dentist, everyone started skipping pulls. As we hit the bottom of the hill, Launch took out the cosmic integrator, a device used to meld body parts of the best aliens onto his own body. The result was an extremely powerful Launch, who melds on three additional lungs, two extra heart chambers, and a third leg. A cracking and rending sound is heard as the remnants of the wankers split and break on the climb.

Over the top the group has been whittled down to Launch, Dentist, Vapor, Vapor Jr., Critchamp, and later by Tree and Checkerbutt, who’ve chased and caught. I’m absolutely on the rivet and just managing to come through as Vapor, Launch, and Critchamp take turns with huge pulls. Launch drags us halfway up the stinger that leads to Latigo, and Tree uncorks with a jump so hard and fast that he springs completely free of the group.

I was barely hanging onto Launch’s wheel when he spotted a Remoonian and whipped out his atomizing blaster. It was the last hundred meters my entire body had begun to shudder. This happens when I’m on a wheel and about to get dropped, but have pushed it too far into the bottomless pit of red. First my legs started to shake, then my arms, then my head, then my eyes wobbled, and finally a massive, sharp pain stabbed my heart like cardiac arrest plus lung failure plus a golf club thrust into my chest cavity with the fury of an AT&T phone service rep after losing an argument with Mrs. WM over a one-cent charge on our four hundred-dollar phone bill that didn’t belong there.

Alien colonies vaporized on Pepperdine Hill

I looked up just in time to roll over the crest, still attached to Launch’s wheel. Everyone was now suffering from radiation sickness from the atomizer, and the only riders who remained were Launch, the Dentist, Critchamp, me, and Vapor Jr. The Remoonian’s head had been shot off and the road was littered with green eyes and what looked like green ham. I wondered if he hadn’t shot a Seussian by mistake.

Launch dragged us all the way to the bottom of Pepperdine Hill and the turnoff to Malibu Colony. He must have spied an advance patrol of the Arquillian fleet, because he accelerated up the hill like a spaceship. There was a crackling sound as Critchamp imploded, followed by a dragging sound as the Dentist’s drill suddenly stopped working, followed by a whine and moan as I began to sob.

The Dentist let me get on his wheel and towed me to the top of the hill, where Launch was pleasantly waiting, hardly having cracked a sweat and surrounded by the rubble, blood, goo, alien body parts, and broken machinery of the devastated Arquillians. We waited for seventeen or eighteen hours until Critchamp and Vapor Jr. caught up. From then on it was merciless.

Checkerbutt, who had sneaked along the Malibu Colony Rd. and stolen a shortcut, thereby avoiding the two sections of Pepperdine Hill, reattached himself at Cross Creek. After a few rotations Vapor Jr. was spit out the back. After a few more rotations everybody was gassed except Launch, who kept pulling through as if it was his first pull of the day. I didn’t skip any pulls, but towards the end pulls were so slow and weak that everyone looked forward to them as they were “recovery pulls.” Critchamp and the Dentist never wavered, and Checkerbutt, with copious resting and turn skipping, came through each time full tilt.

In the run-up to Temescal, Launch spied an evil Kylothian and opened up a gap on the rest of us as he rushed to vaporize it and protect the aliens on the LA beaches from the aliens of outer space. I sprinted for a couple hundred yards to get on his wheel, and then found out the terrible truth: the only thing worse than getting ridden off Launch’s wheel was being on Launch’s wheel. I suffered terribly, and then two seconds later gave up.

We regrouped on the bike path, and shortly thereafter my legs cramped. I got off my bike just in time for a chick on a beach cruiser to hit me from behind and careen off into the sand, upsetting her bikini top and partially spilling the goods, which was nice of her.

At the Peet’s in Santa Monica people rolled in until we were all reunited. I thought that my ride nutrition, consisting of a cup of coffee, a Dr. Pepper, and a BonkBreaker midway through the ride was inadequate for such a terrible beatdown, and certainly wouldn’t get me the last 20 miles home + climb up to the top of PV. So I had another coffee and a cup of oatmeal.

Launch was still smiling and relaxed. Then it dawned on me. Was he the alien? Was he?

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