The Hand of God, Part 4: Capture the Flagg

April 25, 2012 § 9 Comments

Incredibly, Wankmeister’s legs were golden this epic day at Vlees Huis Ronde as he pedaled madly in his Spy Blue team kit through the anus of the Central Valley. Perhaps it was the blinding heat mixed with the nasty particulates and suffocating ozone that make Bakersfield’s air the most polluted in North America, a combination of stench, pain, and discomfort that can really only be approximated by growing up in Texas or living near Amarillo, boxes that Wankmeister has ticked off his gut-bucket list with the fattest Sharpie out there.

Perhaps it was Wanky’s new “Grind Over And Thrust” climbing technique which he has begun using to compensate for the VO2 maxiness of his betters.

Perhaps it was Wankmeister’s decision to go off-grid and just begin following the advice of his coach, Captaintbag, who, after telling Wankmeister that he should give up racing, also told him that if he insists, then JUST GO HARD.

Most perhaps of all, though, it was likely the visages of misery, suffering, despair, and disbelief mixed with the expressions of failure, humiliation, and defeat that were scrawled across the faces of everyone remaining in the lead group. Wankmeister had never lasted so far forward into a hard California road race. Here he was, surrounded by the most recidivist of the forcats de la route, and they looked like shit.

Golden legs. Brutal course. Smothering heat. Everyone else all fucked up. If the legs held, with a smattering of strategy Wankmeister could be a factor in the finish. If not, smoking all this crack sure had been fun.

We will show you mercy. Then after you look at it we will put it back in the box and kill you.

As the leaders sped up the first big climb on the second lap, Flagg of No Quarter attacked and gapped the field. Knowing that my legs couldn’t possibly hold out for a 20-mile breakaway, and that cleverness mandated conservation, I chose suicide by surging from the group and bridging the gap. We worked mightily together, with Flagg taking huge, mile-long pulls up the climb, and me taking brief, four-second pulls on the descents until the field was out of sight and a distant memory.

As Flagg of No Quarter upped the pace, I muttered, “Urgh,” or perhaps it was “Gurgle.” Whatever the sound your vocal cords make when your throat has been slit and the blood mixes with the final exhalation of air…that’s the sound I made. Flagg looked at me as I took my final, puny pull. “No worries,” he said. “You did your best.”

Then Flagg of No Quarter did his best, and vanished up the climb.

The Hand of God smites the unworthy

The field, which had once been a distant memory, now became a visible, living, breathing, fast approaching mob of the undead, with the Hand of God leading the chase. Ten thousand hundred million billion years old, white-haired, bent from the weight of the universe, bedecked in the 456 million-colored sleeve stripes on his champion of the universe jersey, THOG pushed, then pulled, then thrust the group forward until, after my ten mile breakaway attempt, I was swallowed up.

A series of droppage and catchage ensued, where I came off on the climbs and chased back on the downhills, usually with the help of Darling Todd. As we made our second and final ascent up Leibert’s Corner, the Hand of God looked back and saw the cluster of unworthy dingleberry sinners still entwined in the hairs on his rear.

THOG took out his giant Paddle of Doom and carefully inspected it for giant, rusty nails protruding from the end. Finding none, he reached into his jersey pocket and inserted several of the largest and rustiest. Then, with one mighty swat of the Paddle of Doom, THOG smacked the living shit out of the dingleberries who had, ’til then, tenaciously clung to his ass.

We were pounded loose with that one whack. The fire in my stove had gone completely out, and try as I might I couldn’t even reignite the pilot light. The other dingleberries rolled slowly up the road, dislodged from the leaders, while THOG led the remnants back onto the main road, capturing the Flagg, and bringing everyone back together.

In a matter of two miles I was 3:30 down.

The Hand of God meets the steel-toed boot of Satan

With four miles to go, G$ launched an attack into the headwind. None could follow save THOG and DJ. As the large gap filled with even more real estate, some sprunter dude gave the mother of all efforts and bridged. Just as he latched on, he took a second to catch his breath. In that second, G$ unleashed a mighty kick from the steel-toed boot of Satan.

Sprunterdude panicked and threw a chain, with G$ now hitting the bottom of the 1k climb to the finish. THOG waited for DJ to bridge, apparently unaware that the only time DJ bridges is when there are three other players at the card table and it’s his bid.

THOG unleashed the thunderbolt of doom, but too late to fend off the blow to the skull by the pointy, steel-toed boot of the devil. In a reverse of the 2011 finish, it was the devil first, the Hand of God second.

List of the casualties.

I dribbled in four hours or so later to secure 19th place, the exact same result from 2010. What a difference two years of training, a $15,000 bike, and experience make!

Back at the Suburban, Roadchamp was stitching his gums together with some baling wire, wondering why, after a 12-hour surgical procedure and losing two pints of blood, he’d not had the legs to go with the leaders. “Must have been the heat,” he concluded, carefully draping a towel around the meat cleaver trophy in the hopes that no one would notice.

King Harold came in later that night and immediately called his girlfriend to sob about the heat, the misery, the thirst, the hills, and most of all the massive cramps that soon engulfed him. We changed his didey, gave him a Wankmeister pacifier made out of granite and barbed wire, and headed home.

No one told any stories of epic danger, death, and courage in the face of utter destruction, however. We’d all just lived through one.

[END]

The Hand of God, Part 3: Bee swarms, poisonous snakes, and the fiery orb of death

April 24, 2012 § 14 Comments

DJ got the bikes loaded up and we went to pick up Roadchamp. He was waiting at the curb with four sets of spare wheels, a 75-lb. bag, and his trophy from Vlees Huis Ronde 2010. This enormous sculpture consisted of a giant block of wood with a meat cleaver embedded in it. “What’s the trophy for, dude?” I asked.

“It’s going with us. To let the competition know what they’re up against.”

“Like, somebody attacks and you’re going to brain them with it?”

Roadchamp was unfazed and loaded the thing in the Suburban, which listed a few degrees starboard as a result. We next picked up King Harold, who, not to be outdone by Roadchamp, had a bike bag heavier than Roadchamp’s, filled as it was with his igneous rock collection.

The drive was a pre-race bullshitting contest, with each person telling a more outlandish tale of stupidity than the one before. DJ led off with his famous “lost a tranny towing a boat outside Vegas story,” which I easily topped with my “running the Alpha Spider sans oil ’til the engine seized tale,” followed by Roadchamp’s “we got lost riding mountain bikes and spooned overnight in a briar thicket after jumping across a waterfall until we were almost rescued by the sheriff narrative,” followed by DJ’s “broken femur on Bronco epic,” which I had to totally p*wn with “the time I bow and arrow target practiced one day on the public golf course legend” which totally shut everyone the fuck up, except King Harold, who admitted that he’d never “had an adventure, gotten lost, been arrested, sunk a boat, crashed a car, killed anyone by mistake, or been in jail” although there was one time when his dad fell out of a chair and all the kids laughed really hard.

When we got to Bakersfield it was already 107 degrees. We parked next to G$, Axena, and Mighty Mouse, who were trying to put up a tent with half of its legs broken. Fortunately, King Harold, DJ, and Roadchamp are all engineers, so by the time we finished the canvas was torn and the other half of the legs were broken. I slammed a tuna sandwich and a couple of bananas, loaded up with three water bottles, and we rolled to the line.

The ref began with, “The center rule line is permanently enforced for all eternity by cement trucks and crazed pickups going the other way and by angry people with loaded guns. Cross the line and you will be relegated to the coroner’s office. Also, at the bottom of the first climb there is a massive swarm of stinging bees. Close your mouths. Finally, when you pull off the side of the road to quit or just to die, watch out for the poisonous snakes that are everywhere. Riders ready! Go!!”

Pain is intelligence leaving your body, or, what doesn’t kill you makes you pretty much an invalid

Vlees Huis Ronde, which in Dutch means “How’d you like getting fucked in the throat with a sharp stick while having your balls slowly roasted over a campfire?” has quickly become a place that racers avoid with a passion. Its first year, the 45+ field had 30 finishers. Word spread that it was a brutal and nasty race, and riders flocked to test their mettle in 2011. Forty finished. This year, everyone who’d wanted any had gotten a taste of this beastly desert beatdown, and barely 45 racers signed up. Twenty-three finished.

The soul-destroying heat and relentless climbing whittled the field down by half in short order. Somewhere up the last steep climb on the first lap, I think it was after the second turnaround coming up the backside of Leibert’s Corner, I realized I was up to my old tricks again: glued to the wheel of the craziest dude in the race.

This hairy-legged wanker was riding a vintage 1980’s steel DeRosa with “Diamante” tubing (Srsly? Diamond tubing?) and downtube shifters, and each time we hit a climb he would plunge from deep in the red zone into the purple zone and from there into the wobble off into the gravel zone. With me on his wheel, stupidly, of course.

By the second lap our tightly knit group of people who all hated each other was feeling the effects of the heat. Roadchamp’s stitches from his 12-hour oral surgery the day before the race had come loose, and every time he exhaled, a spray of blood blew out like spit fired from a misting machine. The steel bike dude had received a brief graveside service where everyone threw their empty water bottles and GU wrappers at his corpse as we rode by. Giants of the road such as Thing 2 had pedaled off into oblivion. King Harold had turned the ride into a solo pedal through purgatory.

The only people left were the gritty, the tough, and those who can only be called “too stupid to quit and/or so poor that it’s worth a $15,000 hospital bill for the chance to win $37.” However hard up and miserable we all were, though, it was about to get that much worse.

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wanky Learns the Difference between Self-Preservation and Self-Immolation”]

The Hand of God, Part 2: The Happy Birthaversary deal

April 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

When you’re a dude, there is nothing more poisonous to your racing plans and to sex for the next four months than forgetting a birthday or anniversary. Of course, I’ve only been married twenty-four years, so it’s not like I’m expected memorize all these fucking dates overnight, but still, it didn’t take a genius to see that things were about to take a hard left down the “Exit: No Bike Race for YOU” lane.

[Click here for The Hand of God, Part 1]

Being a dude, though, I’ve learned to think quickly, so I put on my best “warm and fuzzy” smile coupled with my “I’ve got something up my sleeve” smile, and said, “I know it’s your birthday. There’s a really cute little In ‘N Out just outside Bakersfield on Panama Drive that we could stop at to celebrate after the race. Double cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes! Sound fun?”

Mrs. Wankmeister scowled and said she didn’t think it sounded fun plus Bakersfield was still a shithole as far as she was concerned. So there things were, looking pretty bad, but, ever the optimist, I packed my bags and texted DJ that I’d be over at his place at 8:30, and went to bed hoping for the best.

Are you Mr. Wankmeister?

The alarm went off just before six and I got up to make my coffee, trying to make enough racket so that Mrs. WM wouldn’t be able to sleep and then hopefully she’d not remember too much that it was her birthday and maybe make me some pancakes and eggs and sausage so I’d be ready for the race in case I got to go to the race.

She finally got stirring, and started her morning routine, when a miracle happened.

“Ring-a-ling,” went the doorbell.

“What the fuck?” I thought. “Who’s ringing my doorbell at 7:00 AM?” I opened it up and there stood three very pretty and extremely bashful junior high school girls. I’d never seen a one of them in my life.

“Are you Mr. Wankmeister?” they asked.

“Uh, yes.”

“Is today Mrs. WM’s birthday?”

“Why, yes, it is.”

“Here’s a cake we made for her,” they said, and presented me with a gorgeous chocolate birthday cake.

I stood there trying to figure this out. Who were they? Why were they here at 7:00 AM? Why were they giving my wife a cake? So I started with the first one. “This is so sweet. Now who are you girls?”

It turned out that they live in our apartment complex, and are friends with my youngest son, and in addition to being very sweet kids were also angling to get in good with Mrs. Wankmeister, the controller of the schedule and general gatekeeper, as they wanted to go hang out with Jr. later in the day.

Only problem was that I couldn’t call Mrs. WM to come get the cake because she was still in her pajamas and otherwise occupied by cracking one out on the shitter, so I stalled a bit, then hurried into the bathroom and lit a magnum incense candle bomb and turned on the ceiling fans. Soon enough the coast was clear and we could stop breathing through a wet towel, and the girls presented their gift, and Mrs. WM was so happy and thrilled that she whipped up a breakfast and told me I could go to Bakersfield.

Vlees Huis Ronde road race 2012? Game on!

[Tune in tomorrow for “Wankmeister Gets What He Wished for Which Turns Out to be Radically Different from What He Thought He Wanted”]

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