All about Man Tour 4: A tale of manly men and their manliness

September 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

People ask me all the time, “What’s the Man Tour like?” I always direct them to the web site Imagine their surprise when, after the MT4 organizers cash their check, they get a flight itinerary that starts in Long Beach and ends in San Jose. Then imagine their surprise when, instead of a teen hooker from Bangkok, they find out that their roommate is an overweight guy in his early 50’s with shaved legs, a hairy ass, and the world’s worst case of sleep apnea.

Man Tour began as a way for bike deadbeats to run away from work and family in exchange for a few days of biking, drinking, and sleeping mixed in with drinking, sleeping, and biking. Now in its fourth year, it has evolved into a five-day excursion where deadbeats of all types, not simply bike bums, can run away from work and family while doing nothing but biking, drinking, and sleeping.

Don’t bogart that joint, my friend (hand it over to me)

Although the main focus of Man Tour is promotion of the healthy cycling lifestyle through beer and cheeseburgers, and although certain participants train year-round, and in fact peak in late October to be able perform at the highest functioning levels of alcoholic stupor, I always tell people not to assume that Man Tour is simply a convocation of drunks.

One among our crew is actually a Cat 1 dope smoker, and his medical condition requires a pot prescription of such powerful medicinal qualities that the weekend warrior can quickly find himself in trouble trying to stay on the pace. On MT3 a couple of our Cat 5 recreational dopers took up Gonzo on his offer of a smoke. Gonzo rolled out at tempo, with Tweedle and Twaddle latching on, determined to match the blistering pace. Pretty soon Gonzo upped the power by 2500 watts with a load of California Skunk, immediately putting Tweedle and Twaddle into the red zone, followed quickly by the purple haze zone. What had started out as an easy groove gazing out on the sequoias lining Big Sur River became an intense, all-out effort as the redwoods seemed to be growing out of Gonzo’s head.

Round the bend, and they hit a Hors Categorie doobie of Ganja Dwarf mixed with New York Diesel. Tweedle blew at the third hit. His last words before being shelled out the back were, “Do we have any pizza? Why is that tree growing out of my head?” Twaddle hung on for the first part of the ascent, but collapsed when Gonzo accelerated on the Diesel with a water bong. Gonzo sat up at the top and waited for them, but they had given up and gone back to the cheap beer.

If it looks like a pig, sounds like a pig, smells like a pig, and acts like a pig, it’s probably a pig

Man Tour participants put lots of emphasis on the manliness of Man Tour. It’s tough. It’s hard. It’s crusty. It’s a time for male bonding, rough talk, overcoming the elements, digging deep, and suiting up for a hard day’s labor in the saddle over rough terrain and mind-boggling distances. It’s a time of stamina, adversity, and manly grit. It’s a time of muscle, sinew, and brawn.

It’s also a time when grown men put on skin tight clothing and spend five days prancing around like ballerinas. It’s a time when these same men stare at each other’s asses for up to ten hours a day. It’s a time when adult men share a small, cheap hotel room and walk around naked in front of each other. It’s a time when, after a few days on the road and no women folk to ogle, some of them fellers start lookin’ kinda cute. It’s a time when, as the Man Tour brochure brags, “a Bro-mance can blossom.”

Of course, the Man Tour Bro-mance is heavy on beer farts, beer belches, indigestion, bloating, bad gas, razor stubble, hangovers, carcass breath, b.o., smelly t-shirts, toe fungus, earwax, scabs, boogers, and skidmarks in the jockey shorts, but as they say in prison, sometimes you have to take your partner as you find him. Welcome to MT4.

It means “loser” in Italian

September 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

Humanity seems to spend half its time dreaming about the afterlife, and the other half dreaming up ways to pointlessly waste the precious few moments we’re actually here. This includes things as meaningless as arranging a protest march for a cause you believe in, to cleaning your comb, to blacking in the teeth of people in magazine photos, to–incredibly, but truly–compiling a list of the 1,000 worst ways to waste your time and posting it on the Internet. Yes, you can click on that link, but at your peril.

Most of these ways, however, are thought up by amateurs. In order to really waste time, and to waste it for huge numbers of people, you need a former Stanford prof, a math/computer genius from MIT, and a good marketing campaign during the TdF. That’s how you get, which, translated from Italian, means “he of weakened brain who pedals.” And unlike traditional time-wasting methods, Strava sometimes compels its members to kill themselves, which, as the link shows, helps clean up the badly muddied gene pool that is hobby cycling.

Like a well-oiled Clodhopper

Today our contingent massed at the Domes and discussed our battle plan: beat Douggie’s Strava record for the “Rollers” segment, which begins at the bottom of the Switchbacks, goes through Portuguese Bend, past the glass church, and finishes just before the Lutheran church at Hawthorne. Douggie set the record on January 8, 2011 on the Donut Ride with a group of heavies, laying down 29.4 mph over the 4.9-mile stretch. We argued about whether he’d set the record sucking wheel or had done it on the sharp end of the spear, hurling the fat gear into the teeth of the wind.

I was prepared to put his record to the sword, and had assembled an elite team of assassins for whom team trailing was second nature. The anchor of our team was Clodhopper, a massive individual whose sheer body mass guaranteed that we’d hit a land speed record rolling down from Trump. Next was Junkyard, the man with more metal in his body than the space shuttle. Junkyard was just coming off a six-month pause occasioned by a bust-up that had resulted in the docs replacing his elbow with a titanium bottom bracket, so he wasn’t necessarily at his sharpest. Third wheel was Iron Mike, fresh as a daisy after having completed a 120-mile beatdown on PCH the day before–his third in three weeks. The team was rounded out by Twinkles, Spindly, Flyboy, Biker Chick, and Kamikaze, who got his nickname earlier in the morning by going straight at the entrance to Better Homes and damn near killing the entire assemblage. “It was never a problem,” he assured us afterwards. “I’m a neurosurgeon.”

Strategy + Teamwork = Domination

Unfortunately, though, Bad Planning x Boneheadedness = Shipwreck. Clodhopper, who often requires the same thing be shouted at him three or four times, was instructed that, as the plunging anchor who would use girth and gravity to get the train rolling, he would need to gradually wind up the speed going down Trump in order that we could all stay together. No massive, full-bore jumps, please. Clodhopper nodded eagerly, having fully understood the plan. The moment we turned off the Switchbacks he leaped from the saddle and instantly split the group into shards.

“Clodhopper, you crazy bastard!” I yelled, “Gradually, goddammit!” He slowed down for a pedal stroke, looked back at the tattered remnants of the group, and then charged full steam ahead as if an army of yellow jackets had gotten loose in his shorts. I managed to get his wheel before gravity took hold, and looked over my shoulder to see Iron Mike uttering a mighty oath. Junkyard sprang across the gap, latching on just in time to be completely fried by the effort. Clodhopper hunkered down and beat the pedals with the fury of a dog trying to scratch a major flea infestation off its balls.

Not today, Freddies

I glanced back to see that the wheels had come off our well-oiled time trail machine. A massive gasp and shudder issued from Clodhopper and he was done, like an expiring sperm whale whose heart has been pierced by the steely point of death thrust home by Queequeg’s trusty harpoon. Junkyard thrashed out a couple of manly pulls before giving up the ghost. I flogged a bad gear alone to the finish, eking out 4th place on the Strava leaderboard. I’d managed a mere 28.1 mph and was still 26 seconds adrift of Doug’s badass effort, though only four seconds out of second place. As we regrouped for the slog & flail up Hawthorne, everyone politely reminded Clodhopper not to “take off like a crazy bastard, you sonofabitch.”

Clodhopper, who is a former world record holder in the distance medley relay, (no shit, you can watch the YouTube video here) and whose name is engraved on the Hall of Fame at the Penn Relays, chuckled. “We’ll get it next week,” he said. And it wasn’t a question.

It doesn’t smell exactly like teen spirit

September 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

Standing next in line for the Starbucks crapper on a sunny Friday morning is always an anxious thing. You’re there fidgeting because the bran muffin and strong coffee have stomped on the sensors hidden deep in your bowels, and the only real question is whether the person currently in the lockbox is there for a li’l freshen-up or for a seat-clenching full body purge. In my case, the door opened and a plump, middle-aged lady exited. That’s usually a good sign, because for some reason Manhattan Beach women seem embarrassed by leaving major detonation fumes when there’s a line. Perhaps it’s because there’s something that conceptually clashes with a $400 pair of yoga pants and a corn-studded, 14-karat bowl buster, or perhaps it’s because when they open the door everyone goes, “Eeeeeewwww” and looks them over with what is quite literally the stinkeye. Or perhaps it’s just that everyone knows that fully accessorized women don’t shit boxcars in public.

I stepped into the toilet and immediately realized that the ol’ gal before me had dispensed with embarrassment and answered with a hearty “Amen” what must have been a mighty loud call of nature. “Fuck you,” I thought, “game fucking on.” Yes, it would be a battle of the toilet gases, and no chick in a pink leotard was going to overwhelm the mighty issue of my crack if I had any say in the matter. Plus, everyone thinks their own shit smells good, so the sooner I let loose the sooner my vent would overpower hers, or at least neutralize it.

The cranking and rumbling and grumbling that ensued must have struck terror into those waiting outside. Combined with not one, not two, but three industrial flushes that shook the door on its hinges, the poor bastards outside were being put on notice that the next person inside the closet of doom would likely suffer permanent brain damage. With the bran muffin leading the charge, I fired off a reverse burping growl and plunk that sounded like a logging truck had dumped its cargo off a 40-foot cliff into a very deep lake. The folks in line were bathed in a cold sweat. When I finished, I boldly threw open the door just as a kindly old fellow looked up with a stir stick in his mocha latte. The eyes of everyone in line were glued to my hands, hoping and praying that I’d washed them before touching the handle (I hadn’t). The elderly fellow dropped his stir stick as the fumes triggered long repressed memories of mustard gas in the trenches at Passchendaele. I strode proudly out into the sunlight, a spring in my step, five pounds lighter and ready for the day.

Genius where you least expect it

Much as I had been surprised to see that sweet lady in the pink leotard unabashedly doing what she had to do, living in the South Bay cycling scene is likewise a life of continuous surprises. Sometimes it’s the surprise, shock, and awe at the sheer genius that resides in our midst. Over the last few years a seed has germinated here, grown into a mature plant, and spread its seeds quite literally across the globe. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the look of cycling has changed, and continues to change, and to change for the better, thanks in large part to Joe Yule.

Joe’s work is glaring for its simplicity and elegance. Although since the 80’s, cycling attire has been synonymous with “ugly,” for decades before that the cycling jersey motif was classy and attractive. Think Faema, Molteni, Peugeot…designs that were used when a team only had one sponsor and the real estate of the jersey didn’t have to be shared with fifteen other logos. In the hyper-modern world of cycling where everyone can have a team kit, where everyone can have his logo on the team kit, and where everyone can have input into how the kit should look, it’s no surprise that designing an attractive kit is hard to do.

Through his design and production company, StageOne Sports, Joe has done the impossible: he has made cycling clothing look good again, reconciled the noisiness of multiple sponsor logos, and effectively muzzled well-intentioned would-be contributors who are nonetheless fashion idiots. Would you let the cleaning guy advise your surgeon about which clamp to use? Joe’s genius is that he can accept your input and not make you feel bad that your idea is stupid and ugly and that he’s not going to use it. His work is a triumph of art, of will, and of gentle, skilled diplomacy.

You can see the effect that Joe has had on cycling’s new look by watching the various clothing iterations of the Garmin team. Although the Red Bull-crazed designers at RadioShack and BMC have still not grasped the Universal Law of Fashion, “Red Only in Small Amounts, Especially in the Crotch Area,” they have clearly adopted some of Joe’s theories of simplicity. Leopard-Trek’s designers might have done an internship with him. HTC-Highroad, unfortunately, is still using the teenage kid who’s a “whiz” with PhotoShop and who does those great montages where he can put a shark’s head on a cricket’s ass.

The effect of Joe’s genius is more glaring on local rides, however. Leaving aside that most new club kits coming out of the LA area are designed by him, the people who are still “rolling their own” have taken a cue from his lines, his simplicity, and his powerful use of understated color. The effect is that summertime airborne visual pollution is way down, and that fewer children wind up in the emergency room needing their stomachs pumped after accidentally ingesting the view of a passing peloton. One of my favorite companies on Planet Earth, Spy Optics, has rolled out its 2012 team kit designed by StageOne that is–to use the proper artistic term–motherfucking unbelievably fucking awesome. And you can quote me on that.

MT4? Gran Fondo Dorkola? MS-150? Gitcher miles here!

September 7, 2011 Comments Off on MT4? Gran Fondo Dorkola? MS-150? Gitcher miles here!

It’s that time of year when people come up with silly goals to help them forget about the sillier ones they made back in January and spent the year not achieving. Got a 137-mile slog in the Sierras on your fall hit list? Planning to join 5,000 of your best friends on a Gran Fondo flailfest? Hoping to raise money to pay the salaries of MS Society administrators? Regardless of your windmill, in order to properly tilt at it you’ll need to log some miles. The last two Saturdays people have been showing up at the center of the known universe and riding out to the Rock at Point Mugu for no apparent reason. Sound pointless? Then you should consider joining up. Here’s a brief recap:

Week 1-Saturday, August 27: Eight guys left Manhattan Beach Starbucks at 6:00 a.m. and rode to the Rock at Point Mugu and back. They kept a steady pace the whole way, and ended up with a 100 mile round trip back to MBSB, and 118 miles back to the Hill. Everyone was home in time for a scolding, lawn work, and youth soccer, well before noon. We took a couple of brief stops to pee and take on fuel. The average speed was just under 19mph.

Week 2-Saturday, September 3: Word got out that the ride was steady and solid. 20+ riders showed up. We rode two by two the whole way. Some people turned around at Cross Creek or Trancas. Most did the whole ride. No one got dropped. We had two flats, a stop at the Ocean Park toilets on the way out, and another stop at the Cross Creek Chevron on the way back in. The average speed was 19.0 mph. There were no attacks, accelerations, sprints, or bitterly hard pulls that strung out the group. Participants professed to enjoy the ride and to be fairly whipped by the time it finished.

Week 3-Saturday, September 10: It will likely be the same ride, same route, same departure time, same pace, and the same focus on steady riding, fun, conversation, and
fitness. I’ve had several people say they were going to join the ride this coming Saturday, so it’s possible that there will be an even bigger group. If there are more than twenty people, we likely won’t be stopping for flats, so make sure your tires are in good condition and you’ve brought a spare. We’ll stop at the Ocean Park toilets on the way out, at the Rock, and at the Cross Creek Chevron on the way back in.

Ways you can help make the ride a success

1.      If the group starts to spread out and get ragged towards the rear, tell the flailers to ride two by two. Don’t be afraid to teach the rules. It’s not necessary to call out unsafe riders as “worthless, no good, goofballs who are screwing up the ride,” but I’ve found that doing so often gets their attention. If you’re uncomfortable shouting insults, let me know and I’ll see if I can find someone who is.

2.      When the group descends the rollers, don’t take this as your opportunity to “break free” and go whizzing away from the group in a faux race tuck. Yes, your beer consumption has given you a gravitational advantage, and yes, we’ll catch you at the bottom, but it’s unsafe, it teaches bad riding habits, and it splits up the group. The goal is to maintain the same two-by-two formation for the duration of the ride. If you hear someone on the front roaring that you’re a “dumb clod” who should “get his sorry butt back into the line” you can safely assume the epithets are being directed at you.

3.      If you’re looking for a ride where you can blaze away from the pack, put your enemies to the sword, intimidate those who aren’t as fit for you, make up for all the races you didn’t show up for this year, or otherwise toss grenades into the group, you should probably do the Donut or any one of a zillion other SoCal Saturday rides. Better yet, pin on a number, pay an entry fee, and test your mettle against those who are similarly inclined at a CBR crit. This ride is for fun, general fitness, and saddle time only. And of course once you’re on PCH you can ride away in a group of your own or hit any of the great canyon climbs that line the coast.

4.      If someone tails off on the rollers despite the moderate pace, drop back and give them a push or lend them a wheel to pace them back up to the group. We will be ratcheting back the pace on the rollers, and going easy across the tops to give people a chance to latch back on.

5.      Don’t expect the ride to leave at 6:05 or 6:10. We’ll roll out at 6:00 a.m. sharp, so be there on time unless you want to chase all the way to Santa Monica.

6.      Understand that this isn’t an organized or sponsored ride, there’s no sag or support, and understand that no one on the ride is taking responsibility for your safety, for your mistakes, for the mistakes and negligence of others, for the messed up roadways, for the trash and glass atop the asphalt, or for the crazy drivers who often seem hell-bent on running over cyclists. It’s incumbent on you to ride safely, obey the traffic laws, and assume the risks that come with riding your bike on PCH, a busy highway with significant amounts of weekend car traffic. Those risks include death and permanent, catastrophic injury. You’re free to ride as you please, but everyone will appreciate it if we’re all on the same page. You’ll likely live longer to boot.

Waffling reader can’t make up mind about power meter

September 6, 2011 § 4 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve been cycling for three years now. I started with a hand-me-down Nishiki that my brother used in college, and have gradually worked my way up to a new Specialized Venge with Zipp 800’s and Shimano Di2. I started doing the Donut Ride about a year ago and although the first part is tough but doable, I have a lot of trouble when we hit the bottom of the Switchbacks. I’ve also done some USCF road races and tend to come unhitched when the road tilts up. After reading Coggan’s “Training and Racing with a Power Meter,” I’ve almost made the decision to up my game and get one, but it’s a tough sell on the home front as my wife doesn’t really “get” why I need a power meter after buying such an expensive bike. I’ve tried to explain power to weight ratios to her and stuff like that, but her eyes just glaze over, she starts talking about the kids’ orthodontics, and then I don’t get any sex for a couple of weeks. Any suggestions on how I can make my case? I’m primed for some serious training this winter and an upgrade to the 4’s in 2012.

Tired of Talking to the Hand,
Billy Budd

Dear Billy:

Pardon me while I puke. There, I’m almost better. Dude, you haven’t “gradually worked up” if you’ve gone from a Nishiki to a Venge in three years. That’s like getting triple D breast implants before you’ve even reached puberty. Back in the day you had to ride a shit bike for three years just so you could upgrade to 32-spoke GP4’s, you spoiled little showoff snotnosed sonofabitch. Your letter indicates that on the Donut, prior to hitting the Switchbacks you’re already in trouble, which should be a Wanker Alert of the first order: the Donut Ride should be a fucking cakewalk until you hit the climb. If you’re so much as cracking a sweat before then, your problems have nothing to do with a power meter, and everything to do with power, of which you apparently don’t have much. Getting a power meter to increase your power is like getting a longer tape measure to increase your height. And by the way, your wife’s not the only one who doesn’t “get” it; I don’t, either. You’re getting shelled at the bottom of the climb on $10,000 worth of bike? You need to study Newton’s First Law of Cyclodynamics, which is that idiots can never be created or destroyed, they can only change bikes. And if you feel stupid flailing off the back on the equivalent of a Ferrari, think how stupid you’re gonna feel when you introduce your friends to your kids and their teeth are growing down into their chins. IT’S A FUCKING HOBBY, MORON, NO MATTER HOW MANY PARTS AND KITS YOU OWN THAT LOOK JUST LIKE FABIAN’S! Plus, the fact that you can even think about sex is proof that you’re not logging the miles, and are logging something else instead.

The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve done some reading on tubulars v. clinchers. Which do you recommend?

Glued to My Inbox,
Sammy Snuffles

Dear Sammy:

A long time ago, when hard men with names ending in a string of unpronounceable consonants plied the cobbles between Compiègne and Roubaix, there were good reasons to use a tire that leaves you covered up to your eyelids in glue, that falls off the rim when it’s too hot resulting in catastrophic accidents, that can only be repaired by a master seamstress, that requires you to carry an entire other 2-lb. tire for flats on the road, and that costs ten times more than a replacement clincher inner tube. That time was long before you were born, during a Golden Age of Cycling when it was honorable to be stupid. Now, the only reason to use a tubular is if you’ve purchased every possible component and whacky invention to increase your speed (think elliptical chain rings, Power Cranks, etc.), yet you still suck. They won’t make you any faster, but you’ll take out the field when you rip through the state championship crit on the last lap and roll a tire.

The Wankmeister

Holiday to Hell

September 5, 2011 § 3 Comments

Holiday: [From the New Intergalactic Panlinguistic Dictionary] n. “A period in which a break is taken from work for rest. Many holidays of the world tend to occur at the approximate dates of more ancient, pagan festivals.”

In the South Bay, the Holiday Ride occurs every Monday on which there is at least a 3-day weekend commemorating a national holiday. Unlike other “holiday” events, which in America generally focus on beer or working overtime at the office, the Holiday Ride, far from being a break from work, is a celebration of suffering, akin to having nails driven into your eyes, or beating your knuckles over and over with a hammer. It coincides with the ancient pagan festival of Huitzilopochtili, in which a living human heart was ripped from the ribcage of a sacrificial victim and offered to the Aztec god.

You Actually Get to Keep Your Heart. Sort of.

The Holiday Ride always begins at 8:00 a.m. sharp, and leaves from the center of the known universe in Manhattan Beach. In decent weather, such as we had today, it easily draws 150+ deluded idiots and an even smaller handful of the truly crazy. Blocking traffic and often spilling out into the opposing lane, it lazily rolls through Santa Monica and makes a right turn onto San Vicente, where infuriated motorists have alerted the Santa Monica police, who in turn lay in wait, praying that someone is foolhardy enough to run a yellow light.

This morning we moved up onto San Vicente in a giant clump, and after a few seconds the sound of a squad car’s PA spewed out over the whirr of chains, cogs, and echoing carbon rims. “Single file,” an idiot bellowed, unaware that one of the men in the group was Rahsaan Bahati, the undisputed King of the Peloton.

“Single file?” Rahsaan mused. “We can do that.” In a matter of seconds the clump turned into a single file of idiots, wankers, pretenders, dreamers, schemers, wannabes, couldabeens, shouldadones, and gonnatries. Thirty seconds into Bahati’s effort, the scab-like, globular accretion of  cyclists became a tight wire line stretched to the breaking point before, of course, it broke. Egos shattered with the force of eggs on marble, dreams came crashing down onto the rusty and pointed nails of reality, and tales of Holiday Heroism, carefully rehearsed for the wife and kids, became labored, grunting, panting wheezes as each drowning rat lunged for the life-saving slipstream of whatever wheel lay immediately ahead. We hit the red light at 26th Street with five guys. The remainder of the group caught up and exhaled a collective heave, reminding everyone that the climb hadn’t even started, and that it was going to be a hard, nasty, unpleasant, ratfucking business.

“Game On.” Make that “Game Over.”

We queued at the light before Mandeville Canyon Drive, the tired and nervous group waiting for the execution. The light turned green and Noel slapped the snot out of the peloton with a hard jump. Those who were still hoping for a gradual windup were sorely disappointed, as he drilled the first mile full bore before blowing up in a shower of sparks.

Rahsaan’s subsequent acceleration at the front after he pulled off unleashed the mother of all wind-ups. More than a hundred hopeless souls were instantaneously consigned to the hellfire and damnation of an 800-watt acceleration that scorched the lungs and incinerated the spirits of all but the hardiest.

The hardiest, of course, included Devon, King Harold, DS Jaeger, Stathis the Greek, and Doug P. I brought up the rear of the group, making sure that bits of puke, lung, and blood were deposited in the appropriate places. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sit on the wheel of a national champion or of a guy who’s won the Athens Twilight Criterium along with a slew of other major pro domestic races, all I can tell you is that I don’t really know. There’s a feeling of helplessness and pain, of defeat mixed with gagging, suffocating, despair, and of course the sensation that every elephant in India has decided to step on your legs at once…other than that…

He’s the Teacher, and You Just Got Schooled

Rahsaan towed the struggling line of hackers for most of the climb, swung off, and watched as a small group detached itself and rolled up the road. Doug P. then sat up and waved me ahead as his deuterium isotope fused with his tritium isotope, setting off one of the more memorable blow-ups I’ve yet to witness on Mandeville. Unhappily, as I sprinted through the fallout to catch Rahsaan’s wheel, the fallout from Doug’s blast contaminated my drinking water and set off a chain reaction in which my lactate ions fused with my crack-and-whimper ions, leaving me adrift between the break and the wanker brigade. Just as it appeared things couldn’t possibly get worse, Rahsaan sat up, finally spent from his superhuman effort. The break was in sight, now comprised of King Harold, Devon, and DS Jaeger. But they were gone.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over. And it was Over.

As we hit the final 300m wall that concludes the canyon climb, I was tucked on Rahsaan’s wheel. The three leaders were wobbling and weaving with a massive gap on the chase. The Man jumped out of the saddle, and despite having towed the entire group up the entire climb, rocketed up, caught and dropped the leaders, and reached the gate first. South Bay Tom, Jay the River, and Doug P. blew by me and even took time to kick sand in my face.

On the way back we stopped at the off-center of the known universe, Peet’s Coffee on Main Street in Santa Monica. Shreds of self-respect were carefully scraped together as we all sat in a circle around Rahsaan, hoping that some of his greatness would rub off on us, but knowing deep down that it wouldn’t.

But that’s okay. There’s always another holiday.

The Rock and roll, chicks conquer all

September 3, 2011 Comments Off on The Rock and roll, chicks conquer all

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.

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