February 29, 2012 § 10 Comments
Yah, the New Pier Ride is a huge improvement. Instead of being a demented free-for-all nutfuck crazyass fredfest mass sprint of death filled with homicidal drivers and chugholes and steel plates of quadriplegia, there are no longer any chugholes or steel plates.
So, yesterday…Hair wins the sprint. I think. I was four time zones back. But here’s what really matters: Hair was constantly either on the attack, chasing breaks, or drilling on the front to keep the pace high. THEN he took the sprint. MD, absentee from doing any work whatsoever, muscled out a strong 2nd. G$, who finished with 400 attacks, got third. Vapor, who burned through twelve tanks of rocket fuel, finished up there somewhere after towing the entire peloton repeatedly and burning enough matches in his repeated attacks to light a bonfire.
Douggie and Suze briefly escaped on the third lap after making the turn. It was lovely to see such good friends working in harmony on the bike. Canyon Bob took one long pull on the finish of the second lap then sat in until the very end, when he dragged the entire pack up to the lone flailing breakaway on the hill on the last lap so that it could end in a sprint, Bob’s forte. How’d that work out for you, buddy?
Here’s what else matters: on the New Pier Ride, as in life, there is a group of the usual suspects who work, attack, chase, recover, and attack again, again, and again. I’m talking about Vapor. G$. Hair. Wehrlissimo. Fireman. Tree. G3. Davy Dawg. Beef Freeman.
And now, some commentary: What’s with the other 79 sausage strokers who show up on this stupid training ride and take somewhere between 0 and 1 pulls? Like, are you in contention for the sprint? And it’s the first time you’ve seen the front? On the fucking Pier Ride? Are you kidding me? I don’t care if you’re a girl, or a boy, or somewhere in between, take a fucking pull, and then, when you’re gassed, recover and take another. Repeat until you barf up your entrails.
The worst that can happen is you will get shelled, but that’s the beauty of the new route. Just stuff your parts back in your pants, take a few deep breaths, and hop back on when the group comes by on the other side. You may not get any stronger or better looking, but at least you won’t be considered a contemptible piece of shit by the people who are out there animating the ride.
New Pier Ride wrap-up from last Thursday: After an endless series of leg-breaking, spirit sapping, trauma inducing attacks and counterattacks, Fireman, G3, and I escaped on the rise to the overpass after the turn beginning the fourth lap. G3 was killing it, and us, and had been riding like a madman. Fireman beat me for the vee by the the width of a tire + 400 or so meters. Afterwards everyone complained about “cheating,” “running the last red light,” and similar sore loser remarks, to which I replied, “Cheaters sometimes win, whiners never do.”
February 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
*Wankmeister has entered into a collaborative agreement with Pritzy Q. Lonelypants, the famed dating and romance advisor. She will be periodically contributing to Cycling in the South Bay with gobs of cotton wadding.
Dear Miss Lonelypants:
No matter how often I do the South Bay group rides, I can’t get a date. I’m fit, I’m fast on the bike, and I look pretty good in lycra. What am I doing wrong?
Would you shop for a dildo in a place that specializes in refurbished alternators? Of course not. So don’t go man-hunting on the local group rides. First off, no matter how good you look, the sausages will try to drop you. Second off, if you’re really fast you’ll drop the sausages, and they’ll hate you forever. Third off, the only thing you look in lycra is cheap.
Dear Miss Lonelypants:
I’m on my third South Bay cyclist boyfriend. What a loser. No job. No money. Rides all day. “Date night” means watching a video from last year’s Pro Tour, ending promptly at nine, after which it’s lights out, a smooch, and a river of snores. How do I hook a guy who’s into cycling AND who’s responsible/romantic/solid potential for changing poopy diapers?
Getting fed up,
The same way he gets a super-hot rich girlfriend who puts out whenever he wants. Detailed explanation of the procedure can be found by clicking on this link.
Mathematically not going to happen,
Dear Miss Lonelypants:
My new BF and I go for long rides together. I really want to talk with him, but he’s so intent on riding and pedaling and watts and heartrates and such that we just don’t get to TALK talk except for “Car up!” and “Hole!” and “How’s your saddle sores?” and stuff like that. But no real TALK. How can I get him to be more communicative?
First off, don’t expect the sausages to talk on bike rides. For them, it’s the only time during their hectic workweek that they can focus on Strava. Then, once he’s off the bike, ask him about his daily training plan for 2012-2014. He’ll really open up.
Yo! Miz LP!
My old lady’s always pissed when I spend all day Saturday on the Donut pre-loop, the Donut proper, and the 2-hour post-Donut coffee cool down, and all day Sunday when I’m giving her paycheck to Chris Lotts and Charon down at the CBR races. I took her to watch me bust up the Cat 4 race but I got confused at the end and started my sprint with two to go instead of one which meant I got LAST. The old lady was not real happy. Ennyhoo, why’s she gotta always be so pissed? I let her watch all my Pro Tour videos if she wants to but fuckit man, she doesn’t WANT to. I let her take out my TT bike any time she wants but fuckit man, she doesn’t WANT to. I would dump her in a minute but I’ve been out of work since the economy crashed in ’92 and she’s got a pretty good job.
Help a buddy out,
You should understand that it’s not the cycling she hates. It’s you.
Dear Miss Lonelypants:
There is a very aggravating jerk on all of the local South Bay rides. He is skinny, obnoxious, unpleasant to look at, has a little pot belly he’s always hiding with a tailored jersey, always cursing at people, a bad racer, a worse rider, and all he ever seems to do is ride his bike and blog about it…you can’t imagine what a complete jerk this guy is! Does he even HAVE a job? Anyway, I think I’m in love. Any tips?
You poor thing. You’ve discovered the Wankmeister. Fortunately, he’s married, so he can only make one woman completely and utterly miserable. The rest of us are just partially miserable from having to be around him when he shows up on the Kettle or Donut. If you’re still hot to trot, though, you can forget about it. He’s all blather and no lather. And don’t worry–like a bowel movement, this too will pass.
February 26, 2012 § 13 Comments
Now is the time to just turn around and walk away. This ride isn’t for us. By admitting it now we will be branded cowards, weaklings, and complete frauds. By admitting it later we will be branded all of those things plus we will aspirate our own vomit.
120 miles. 9,200 feet of climbing. The most brutal and unforgiving part of the ride begins at mile 90. Less than ten miles from the finish you have to climb a dirt cliff that turns into a paved wall that turns into a 2-mile overhang.
We can’t do this. We don’t have the base, the experience, or the mental fortitude to endure such an epic beatdown. Simply put,we will crumple and fold long before mile 90. It’s that hard.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But I was invited! I was invited because I can DO it!” Or, you may be thinking, “I weaseled my way in by shamelessly begging and cajoling and texting and emailing and phoning and pleading! I was allowed to weasel in because I can DO it.”
To you, Sir Wanker, no, that is not correct. To you, Mr. Weasel, no, sir. That is is not correct, either.
So why am I on the start list then?
You are on the start list because you have been embroiled in one of the most diabolical plans ever spun from the mind of a madman. But before I explain, let me begin by identifying the fundamental errors in your calculations about the first annual SPY Belgian Waffle Ride. As you must know, a calculation that flows from flawed assumptions will be incorrect, no matter how accurate the successive reasoning.
Conceptually, you saw the distance and thought “Aha! A century ride with extra credit!”
We’ve all done century rides. They are heterodox affairs. A few riders drill it without rest for the entire ride. (That’s never been me.) A few more riders push it hard with one or two stops. (Nope, not me, either.) The overwhelming majority start hard, crumble after an hour, and spend the rest of the day hopscotching from one to the next all-you-can-eat GU and banana rest stops. (ME! ME! ME!)
Everyone gets a t-shirt with an ugly logo and a memento that proclaims their toughness to the world. The century ride is studded with kindly grandmothers at each rest station who dab away the sweat, fawningly admire my toughness and dedication, and add to the nurturing, comforting, self-esteem building environment that makes me feel like a champion and makes me want to sign up again the next year. It’s youth soccer for old people.
So when I saw the Belgian Waffle Ride invitation, I couldn’t help but associate the things I know–wankfests and kindly grannies–with the things I don’t–springtime Belgian classics.
And then of course there’s the name: “Belgian Waffle.” Who doesn’t like those? Heaped with whipping cream, syrup, and strawberries…sides of sausage…pots of hot coffee…and it’s all free! And best of all I’ll get to eat it with my friends, because it’s invitation only! Of course there was all that language in the invitation about how hard the ride was going to be, etc. etc., but that was just typical cyclist bullshit to make me laugh and make it sound like a really tough ride.
Even though I’m a wheelsucking creampuff, a freeloading freddy, a never-take-a-pull wanker, a ride-til-it-starts-to-hurt-then-quit cupcake, yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of freddom, the concatenation of “Belgian” + “waffle” + “coffee” + “free t-shirt” + “buddies” + “beer afterwards” + “I’m not doing anything else that weekend” all added up in my mind to “I’m INNNNNNN!”
Why I was really invited
The purpose of the Belgian Waffle Ride, however, is not to have fun. It is to crush and destroy people. More specifically, people like you, and people like me. Let me explain.
The group ride is a microcosm of life. Some people do most of the work. Everyone else benefits from their labor, contributing little or nothing. We non-contributors love this arrangement. The producers do not.
So the idea was to develop something that was the antithesis of the group ride, century ride, fill-in-the-blank ride where everyone gets a medal, even we leeches who never did a fucking lick of work the entire day. The idea was to hand out medals to one kind of person only: those who were tough enough to finish, and to finish by putting in their fair share of the work.
How to achieve such a goal? Simple. Devise a course that was bitterly hard, but that did not favor any particular kind of specialist. Throw in lots of elevation, but not stacked in two or three huge climbs. Make it long. Make sure it would include lots of wind. Make the entire ride hard and put the most punishing part at the end. The only people who finish would be the worthy ones. All others? Bundled back home in the sag wagon or forced to ignominiously skulk their way back to the barn via shortcut.
3.25 × 10^25 drops of water make an ocean. 675 short climbs make hamburger meat.
I started out with seven other riders to do a recon ride of the course. The others were MMX, Todd Parks, Victor Sheldon, me, Jim Miller, Alain Mazer, Steve McWankerston, and Ian McWanksalot. The ride left the Starbucks on La Costa in Leucadia, headed for PCH and rolled north to Oceanside, past the house they used in the film “Top Gun,” and onto the San Luis Rey bike path. On the day of the ride, at the end of the bike path the neutral zone will end.
We got onto N. River Road, pushed the pace for four miles until MMX pointed out the first sprint of the BWR: it’s a yellow 15 mph sign before another yellow sign for “sharp curve.” After the sprint sign we jogged left and then turned left to climb a little bump called Valle del Sol-Puerta del Sol, which in Spanish means, “nasty dirt and gravel shitfuck road from hell that tears your legs off, bangs the shit out of your spine, and cracks your frame as you wheeze and gasp and slide and pray like hell you don’t get shelled.”
This lung-searing segment defines the BWR: an endless series of brief, hard climbs. None is hard enough to tire you out. Combined, they wear you down until, softened and weakened and addled and slightly delirious from the relentless accelerations, you are flipped over on your back, your soft underbelly exposed to the sun as you flail your arms and legs helplessly in the face of the sadistic young child who smiles with glee as he prods and pokes your bleeding entrails with the end of a sharpened stick.
Does this sound like “fun”? Does this evoke the joy of friendship and banter and happy times on the bike? No, it does not. Keep this imagery in mind and understand that, out of 150 riders, you are destined to be the one with the belly exposed, and someone else will be the boy with the stick.
More rolling misery in backcountry beauty
After the sharp dirt drop, we hit Olive Hill Rd. and turned left to climb some more. It was brief, and we turned left onto Morro Hills Rd., for a series of rollers punctuated by a stabbing stinger of a bump at the top. Jim was starting to fade. McWankerston was riding with the bravado of someone who still knew the shortcut back home. Alain had that “Don’t wait for me, guys!” look. McWanksalot was in his own private hell, so far back we had to send out a pack of rescue dogs.
My legs felt numb and achey after less than forty miles of riding. Victor looked fresh. MMX looked fresher. Todd looked scary.
We turned onto Sleeping Indian Road. More rollers. Then back onto Olive Hill Rd. and…more rollers. We got a brief respite on Mission Rd. and then turned onto Green Canyon for several miles. From the moment we left the bike path the scenery had been extraordinary. Rolling hills and greenery at every turn, and off in the distance we could see successive lines of mountain peaks as if we were in the Eifel, or the Ardennes, or the Mosel.
Green Canyon was the first stretch of road that was essentially flat, but it only lasted for a few miles. The rolling terrain started again on Alvarado and then leveled out for several more miles of oak-canopied, back country riding along Live Oak Park. At Mission we crossed under the freeway and followed Old 395 up a long, one-mile grade that took us to Rainbow Valley, further sapping my already weary legs. More short rollers deposited us onto a screaming downhill along Rice Canyon Road, followed by the harsh reality of Couser Canyon.
This nasty, 3.8-mile serious climb awakened, if it had ever been dormant, the realization of how exhausting all of the previous undulations had been. Todd dusted us off like so much unwanted dandruff. McWanksalot had already been sent home with a note to his mother telling her that he wouldn’t be allowed to play outside until his Ebola virus symptoms retreated. McWankerston rocketed out the back as if he absolutely, positively, had to be there overnight. Jim and Alain flailed and flogged, but at 56 miles in–not even halfway–their DNF resume had already been proofed and sent to the printer. Before it could be distributed, however, they somehow found the guts to complete all but five miles of the course. They can be reached at Scripps ICU, Rooms 1 and 2, with visitation between the hours of 2 and 3 p.m. only. Donations to Flogawanker requested in lieu of flowers.
Victor dropped MMX and me, and I finally clawed my way past MMX, leaving him to flail and crack on the climb as Victor towed me the final few yards to the top. Parks was puffing his third cigarette and had finished overhauling the movement in his Swiss watch.
MMX came up a few seconds behind us, and I liked what I saw. He was hurting. He was tired. He was starting to feel the effects of the first 56 miles of driving at the front. The shoe was now on the other foot, and it didn’t appear to fit too well.
“Take that, you sadistic fucker,” I laughed to myself. “The next act in this drama’s going to feature you getting dragged behind a race car over a minefield in front of the smoking barrels of giant artillery.”
The detritus of our now wasted group pedaled easily over the summit, indicating that they’d given up and were now only waiting for permission, or directions, or both, so that they could call it a day and go home. I could tell that Alain and Jim were thinking, “How many people have to work for a guy who wrings it out of them at work Monday through Friday and then staves their fucking heads in on the hardest road course in America on the weekends?”
Since, however, this was the BWR, I neither acknowledged their pain nor offered any pity. They would be crumpled like an empty wrapper of GU and tossed thoughtlessly by the wayside.
After the bitter pill of Couser Canyon we hit Lilac and immediately hit another long, grinding climb. At the summit we all agreed that a stop was in order, as we were out of water and Jim and Alain needed a place where they could get I.V. drips inserted without fear of infected needles.
We chose an inconvenience store on Valley Center Road where the inmate was behind six inches of bulletproof glass, no toilet was available, and the inmate scanned our purchases THROUGH THE GLASS. “Nice neighborhood you got here,” said Todd.
“Yeah,” the inmate laughed.
“Why all the triple security?”
One of the customers, a rough-handed gentleman with scars on his face, tousled hair, and a case of Ol’ Pissmongers in hand, said, “It’s to pertect ’em from all you rowdy shavelegs. Har, har!”
We laughed along with him, as the alternative seemed to be a fierce and brutal beating, until the inmate broke the awkwardness. “The hood’s cool, man, it’s all the gamblers on the way back from Vegas.”
“I don’t see no slots here,” said Todd.
“Naw, man, they come here on they last ten bucks, put in some gas, and they look at me like I’m a fucking jelly donut, you know, they figure they can stick me up for a couple hundred and then head back to Vegas and try they luck again.”
We thanked him and stood out in the parking lot drinking our water. We were exactly half way. Alain was mumbling about getting a different gear ratio. Jim was mumbling about getting a new identity. Victor looked tired. MMX looked grimly satisfied. Todd looked like he was on vacation. “I hate that motherfucker,” I said to myself.
When tempers fray
The first sign that you’re too deep in the hole is when you begin ardently hating everyone and everything. For example, that fucker MMX. I hated him. That fucker Parks. I really hated him. That sorry no good fucker Victor. I hated him worst of all because he’d only been cycling for a few years. Those really sorry no-good fuckers Jim and Alain. I hated them for coming out and cracking. That inmate. I hated him for scanning my water through the window glass. That convicted murderer with the case of Ol’ Pissmongers. This parking lot. Those hills. These roads. Them trees. Those clouds. That sun. Fuck them all to hell.
Soon enough we were back on our bikes. Alain and Jim had called a Life Flight as they faded off the back to spend the rest of the day in their own private hell. This really earned my undying hatred and envy, as I was stuck with Todd the Hammer, Victor the Roleur, and MMX, who just gets stronger as the road gets longer.
Woods Canyon Road was, surprise, more rollers. They weren’t steeper or longer, but they hurt exponentially more, and all I could think was “Half way. We’re just barely half way.”
From North Lake Wohlford Rd. we got another short climb followed by the only legitimate downhill of the day. MMX had now come to life and began pushing the pace…again. I was choking on his wheel as he put our noses up against the grinding wheel and turned it on high. The worst part was just beginning…MMX waking up. But Parks attacked on the descent, I followed, and MMX got left behind. Sweet! With a few hard accelerations and a few unconscionable risks on the descent I finally had Victor and Todd hanging on for dear life. “Take that fuckers! Chase, you fuckers! Fuck you, fuckers!”
At the bottom we regrouped and I surveyed what was left. Maybe this ride wasn’t going to be so bad after all. They were as tired as I was, maybe even more so. With one or two short climbs towards the end, they’d feel the sting of my accelerations. This was going to be fun.
When things that are going to be fun turn out not to be fun at all
No sooner had I surveyed my strong position than we hit a road named “Summit.” Hint: roads named “Summit” often include an uphill segment. This one was no different. MMX attacked, shed Parks and Victor just before the top, and put me deep into the red, a depth from which I would not ever return. After many more miles of rollers we hit even more rollers, this time along San Pasqual Valley Road. As we took turns along the road, bit by bit I stopped turning. Sagging at the back. Letting the other three guys take much longer pulls. Flicking my elbow almost immediately. Before I knew it, I had melted down into a puddle of wankaflail, the most detested and despicable substance known in the cycling world.
MMX looked at me. Through the din of “Fuck you, I hate you, fuck you, I hate you,” that was resonating through my head, I dimly heard him say something. It sounded like this.
“Hey, man, are you okay?”
“Fuck you!!” I screamed, but nothing came out besides a frightened and whimpering noise that sounded like, “Yeah, I think so.”
“You sure? Your face is kind of blue and green, and sort of yellow.”
“Sunscreen,” I mumbled.
“Okay. Because we’ve got kind of a steep bump up ahead.”
“Up ahead?” I thought. “Why is he telling me this? Who is he? Oh, that’s MMX, the guy I hate. Fuck him.” As I mustered up the energy to make my lips form the proper shape, I realized that Parks had been pulling relentlessly for the last mile. I looked up and saw the giant rise of the Bandy Canyon climb.
On a normal day it wouldn’t have been intimidating at all. Today, it wasn’t intimidating either. It was soul crushing. Spirit destroying. The end of time.
We were only 90.7 miles in.
When you’re done, you’re done
Todd ripped off an attack at the bottom of the climb, and Victor followed. MMX was initially gapped, but as I watched, a strange thing happened. He stood on the pedals, caught Victor, shelled him, and caught Parks. Then they were gone. All of them.
This was the point at which I realized what I must have already known. MMX was eminently suited for the ride and every bit up to the challenge. Once the distances creep up over 90 miles his engine really fires. Over 100 miles and it roars. Over 115 and he’s the last one standing.
I cursed a bit, clueless as to my whereabouts or how to get home, knowing only that there were at least thirty miles left, sixty if I had to find my way back through trial and terror. Over the climb I chased for a while until I overtook Victor, who had sat up to wait.
Patiently, he allowed me to get on his wheel and started The Drag. With slowly increasing velocity he reached a pace that was just miserable enough to make me want to vomit, but not so rapid that I came off. After miles and miles and miles we caught Todd and MMX, neither of whom was pedaling. Or sweating. Or looking very tired. They were, in fact, chatting amiably.
“At least,” I thought, “I’ve avoided the ignominy of having to ride in by myself and at least I’ll get to claim that I finished ‘with the group.’ Plus, MMX lives near the hospital.”
“Hang tough, man,” said Victor. “The next 20 or so miles are hilly and windy.”
He, Todd, and MMX rode off and I found myself alone on Via Rancho Parkway. The next 3.1-mile vicious, bitter climb to Del Dios resulted in an impressive placing on Strava: 105th out of the 135 idiots who have uploaded their time. There was a fat guy in a billowing yellow jersey with a bright red flashing light a couple of hundred yards ahead, laughing at me, thumbing his nose at me, daring me to catch him. I couldn’t. I didn’t.
Will you marry me?
Somewhere on Del Dios, Victor was waiting again. My hatred for him had blossomed into love. Rather than letting me die out here somewhere near Escondido, or worse, leaving me to spend the next six hours trying to find Leucadia, he had decided to wait. In my 30+ years of cycling no one has ever waited for me in a similar situation. To the contrary, the last time I found myself in this predicament was outside Sealy, Texas, with Russell deBarbieris and Hector Gonzalez, and they had attacked and left me to crawl on my hands and knees for the last 25 miles along the edge of Interstate 10 in 110-degree heat.
That was part of the fun. The friendship. The camaraderie of cycling.
Eventually we reached the Iglesia de Dios that’s the first stop on the Swami’s ride, and I wondered why they had to add the “de Dios” part. Without it would someone have mistaken it for “Iglesia del Diablo?”
We filled our water bottles and lay on the cool grass. Victor, whose back had been in knots since mile 50, twisted on the turf doing Tantric yoga pose #876, “Crippled Dog Writhing in Pain Before Owner Puts Bullet in Brain, Ending Misery for All Concerned.”
I ate the last of the four candy bars MMX had given me, and the thought occurred to me that two Starbucks oatmeals, a cup of coffee, and a few candy bars were probably not ideal nutrition for this type of ride. We got back aboard, and Victor looked at me. “We should probably skip Questhaven Road.”
I knew that what he meant was, “You should probably skip Questhaven Road.”
“Why?” I asked. “What is it?”
“It’s a dirt climb. Kind of tough.”
“Is it on the BWR route?”
“Then we have to do it.”
I can sometimes read people’s minds. He was thinking, “You have no idea what you’re talking about. But then again, you’re an idiot, so why should you?” Then he thought, “Okay, tough guy, get ready to rue the fucking day you were born.” Of course I was already rueing that day, so his thought didn’t bother me at all.
“Okay,” he said. “We’ll do it.”
When the second wind blows strong
Something in that last candy bar reawakened me. It couldn’t have been the downhill. It surely couldn’t have been the tailwind. No, it was a resurgence of strength and power as I towed Victor along Elfin Forest for the handful of miles to Questhaven. I was feeling my second wind, and it was good.
Until we turned up Questhaven. Then, my second wind was replaced by my second crumble. The road jerked up, my bike bucked in the soft sand, my legs strove to push hard enough to keep enough momentum to keep from falling over, in a panic I jumped out of the saddle which caused the rear wheel to break free, sat back down and almost tipped over again, flailing and flogging in a blue panic until the adrenaline alone got me to the top.
Victor was already in the next county, and at the top I was greeted by a hard left on good asphalt and a sickeningly steep climb that lasted at least half a mile. Down through a neighborhood, freezing from the cold, sweating from the heat, my body’s essential thermoregulatory functions had become a confused mass of fucked up electronic nerve signaling that my brain couldn’t interpret and my body couldn’t execute. Can a pancreas cramp? Do intestines feel pain? What’s all this blood coming out of my anus?
One last long climb up to the stoplight at San Elijo, and Victor, my angel, my beautiful Victor, was waiting for me. He gazed at the broken, shivering, vacant-eyed lump of wankaflail and showed me the kindness of all kindnesses: he turned left.
To truly ride the BWR we would have turned right and finished off the day with a 2-mile steep cliff climb up to the peak at Twin Oaks Valley, but in addition to finishing off the day, it would have finished off me. We dropped the last five miles down into Leucadia, passed Todd at the Starbucks–he’d been there for half an hour, at least–and I rolled on back to MMX’s place.
MMX was making some eggs and slathering a piece of dark break with manly chunks of hearty Belgian cheese. “Hey, dude!” he said cheerily. “How was it?” He looked fine, as if it had been out for a casual ride around the block.
He had powered his way in with Todd, trading blows, keeping the hammer down until the very end. Towards the finish, Todd had even begun to crack, and with a few fewer miles on his legs than MMX, and the road stretching on, the writing on the wall come March 25 will likely be blood red for the vast majority of starters.
I collapsed on the couch. “How….” I mumbled back, “…was what?”
In case you think none of this applies to you
So, bottom line: Hardest ride I’ve ever done. The actual BWR will be significantly harder and will include the final climb up San Elijo and Twin Oaks Valley. But you’re still thinking about doing it? Even after reading this? Even after the email that went out last week gently encouraging you to embarrass yourself now by quitting rather than suffer the beatdown and still not finish? Still think this is just Wankmeister killing electrons because he has nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon?
Well, you’re right about that last part. The other parts? Here’s a handy-dandy self-test to see if you should quit now and give up your space to someone who’s got what it takes, i.e. a man with a giant, hairy nutsack encasing balls of steel.
BWR Self-Evaluation Readiness Quiz
- I am considered a pussy by other hardmen cyclists. YES/NO
- I average 100-150 miles training per week or less. YES/NO
- I’ve never been invited to do FTR. YES/NO
- I thought FTR was hard. YES/NO
- I ride a compact. YES/NO
- I dislike it when people disparage “freddies.” YES/NO
- In a ten-man pacline, I tend to pull 0-.000003% of the time, or less. YES/NO
- I don’t have a single KOM on Strava. YES/NO
- I upgrade by participation. YES/NO
- I don’t drink beer. YES/NO
- I hate riding in the rain. YES/NO
- I hate riding in the cold. YES/NO
- I hate riding in the mud. YES/NO
- I always clean my bike after a ride. YES/NO
- I need lots more than strong coffee and a GU to get me through a hard ride. YES/NO
- ‘Cross and cobbles are too dangerous. YES/NO
- I used to be a triathlete. YES/NO
- My wife gets angry at me when I ride my bike too much. YES/NO
- I’m often sick, which prevents me from riding/racing. YES/NO
- I have more than one road bike. YES/NO
- I was really fast back in the day, not so much now. YES/NO
- I’m particular about my equipment. YES/NO
- I try to avoid sex before a big race or ride. YES/NO
- I have a tiny penis. YES/NO
- I’d rather be a well rounded, happy, successful person and loving father than a jackhammer merchant of death on the bike. YES/NO
- My marriage is more important to me than my biker buddies, who all hate me. YES/NO
- I like French things. YES/NO
- My favorite eyewear is Oakley. YES/NO
- Even though I love to cycle, my work and family always come first. YES/NO
- I always get dropped with the fist comes down. YES/NO
- You can judge the quality of a man by his wine collection. YES/NO
- It’s okay to sit in if you win the sprint. YES/NO
- Pulling all the time is for idiots. YES/NO
- I read girls’ fashion magazines. YES/NO
- I think Mark Cavendish is a hardman. YES/NO
- I prefer to ride on the track. YES/NO
- Justin Bieber has some good tunes. YES/NO
- Pre-race nutrition is very important to me. YES/NO
- I check my pulse in the morning when I wake up, and if it’s abnormal I don’t ride that day. YES/NO
- I train according to power zones. YES/NO
- I never ride when I’m too sick to stand up. YES/NO
- I have a coach. YES/NO
- I do what my coach says. YES/NO
- Most of my underwear is pink. YES/NO
- When I time trial I prefer to use aero equipment. YES/NO
- I can’t help slowing my pace when I pass through the perfume and cosmetics section of a department store. YES/NO
- Cycling is an important way for me to make friends. YES/NO
- On a hard ride or in a race, I’d rather be liked than hated. YES/NO
- I can’t respect someone who is doped to the gills. YES/NO
- Eddy Merckx wouldn’t be as dominant today as he was in his era. YES/NO
- I’m not sure how to spell “de Vlaeminck.” YES/NO
Scoring: Each “YES” answer counts for one point. 1-3: Hardman. You’ll acquit yourself with honor. 4-7 points: Softman. You’ll finish but rue the day you were born. 8-10 points: Pussyman. You don’t belong here, even if you’ve got a million personal invitations and MMX is your “best bud,” sponsors your club, and gives you free shit. 10 points or more: Triathlete/MTB rider/Cross-dresser. If you show up you will be shot on sight and your equipment sold for scrap value.
So…that’s it. Needless to say, with a score of 37, I won’t be there. Have a nice fucking day, and don’t bother me with the details. I’ve done it. I know.
February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Douggie sent out the Word via FB: new Pier Ride route. We’d be axing the Marina death race through the stop lights, the crazy acceleration along Admiralty from a standing start to Mach 12 in four seconds weaving through the honeycomb of massive cracks in the bad pavement as we spilled into the neighboring lane, chock-full of angry commuters, the short but too-long-but-pointless-non-sprint sprint along Via Marina where the first person to throw up his hands gets the V, the massive chughole on Pacific that took down VV and left her with enough road rash to bump the stock price for Tegaderm by 15%, the stealth bike killers lurking behind each of the stop signs on Pacific en route back to Washington, the semi-pothole right there at the turn back onto Via Marina where, if you’re not careful, you’ll smack the shit out of it and torch a rim, then back onto Admiralty for the true crazy-ass fuckfest of gnarly steel plates and their upjutting lips of carnage, the giant ripped up shards of broken pavement, stripped down dirt studded with gravel big enough to chew up a brand new Gatorskin, furious traffic, more stoplights, and the final insane dash back down Fiji Way where it might be Big Steve, or Davy Dawg, or Tree, or Eric, or Hair, or for sure Rahsaan or Danny Heeley or some pro who dropped into LA for the weekend, ramping it up to 40 mph or maybe 45 depending on how big a sucker you look like when the story’s being retold at the coffee shop, to the big-ass finale finish that, again, no one quite knows where it is, but is definitely there, somewhere, decided again by the first pair if hands to lift off the bars, and back onto the bike path where you dodge the UCLA crew knuckleheads blocking the path with giant sculls, furry-legged Bike Path Racers putting the wood to Greg and Marco and Bernard and Eddy and Lance IN THEIR FUCKING DREAMS and almost colliding with us in the process and of course the high point of all high points, Asshole Number One locking arms with Asshole Number Two as they stick their pedestrian elbows out into our faces as we pass, then over the steel plate on the bridge where Perez likes to slip, fall, and crack his forehead every now and again, and picking razor sharp shells out of your tires that the gulls have dropped onto the path in winter, through the narrow rebar poles, either one of which if you hit will kill you, back onto Pacific, maybe past the multicolored fatboy Mapei team all the way to the triangle, then left…..
All that shit gone with one simple message on FB. Dog bless you, Douggie, and we knew it was real when Rahsaan posted the magic words: “Sounds good to me.” Because you know, if it sounds good to Vapor, it’s fuckin-A good enough for me, and you, and you, and you, and you. And you. Not to mention you, Taylor Swift, you fucking hillbilly, and I don’t care what anyone says it DID look like a fucking KKK rally at the Grammy’s, or at least the lead-up to one.
Preparation is key
I timed my departure perfectly. Alarm at 5:30. Slam the coffee. Slam the raisin bran. Dash to the toilet to drop my morning steamy Santorum, along with a couple of smaller Gingriches. Lube the legs. Pull on the kit. Dance around for a few minutes as the embro puts the fire on my balls. Ratchet down the Specialized S-Works Pro Road Shoe which, for $360.00, still doesn’t fit right or stay ratcheted down. Hop on bike. Notice rear tire is flat. Say, “Motherfucking goddammit shitfuck to hell!” Throw down bike. Wake up Mrs. Wankmeister. Timidly say, “Sorry, sweetie! Nothing! Everything’s fine, snookums!” Whisper under breath, “Goddammit motherfucking shitfuck pissit crapwad to hell!” Yank off rear wheel. Yank out tube. Check clock. If not out door in five minutes, no way I’ll make the ride. Only have one spare tube. Take it out. Partially inflate. Throw on floor. Run into kitchen. Run back. Notice tubes are tangled. Can’t remember which one is new, which one flat. Both have a little air. Whisper some more “shitfucks” under my breath. Take a gamble and pick the one on top. Stuff it onto rim. Pop on tire. Grab floor pump. Floor pump tips over, smacks the Scratch, makes hellacious racket. Sweetly say, “Sorry honey sweetums!!” Whisper a dozen more motherfuck goddamn shittohellandbacksonsofbitches. Pump up tire. Tire deflates. Rip out tube. Rip off another string of oaths. Is “dicksnot” a real cuss word? Is now. Put in other tube. Pinch shit out of finger. Stab palm with plastic tire iron. Run out of cuss words. Embro, coffee, and panic have lathered me into a steaming sweaty foamy froth. Get tire changed. Air ‘er up. Dash out the door. Get down to parking garage. Forgot garage door opener buzzer. More gods get damned, mothers fornicated with. Go back upstairs. Go back downstairs. Hop on bike. Freezing morning air ices everything inside jersey and shorts. Cuss some some. Check Garmin clock. Ride leaves at 6:40 sharp. Thirty minute ride from the apartment to there. It’s now 6:30. Probably not gonna make it without a time machine. Hammer all the way to Westchester.
The goose is loose
As I’m trolling up the parkway, off in the distance I see the mass of riders approach. I do a u-turn just as the point comes rolling through, with the Goose Man on the point, all Rapha-ed out in black and nasty pink, to hell with tearing out a page from the Perez fashion manual, he’s taken the whole damned book.
They let me squeeze in just as Wehrlissimo rolls by, there’s Davy Dawg, there’s Big Steve, there’s Tree, there’s G$, there’s Vapor, there’s the Fireman, there’s Southbay Eric, there’s Tink, there’s Surfer Dan, there’s Hair, there’s Suze, there’s Methuselah Tim, there’s Douggie, and then in a long ragged line there’s every wannabe, couldabeen, gonnado, and oughttatry in the South Bay. Instead of the Old Pier Ride, where we just do one loop, the New Pier Ride features three nasty laps around the parkway, and I’ve intercepted them at the end of the first lap.
We do the first turn, Vapor turns up the heat and the popcorn starts popping as the wankers, tankers, whackers, and hackers fry off the back. We crest the rise up to the overpass and a yellow city truck comes blowing by at fifty, and with the entire left lane to himself decides to get closer and grazes the charging peloton, missing me by inches. G$ uncorks an acceleration so hot that the blue stripes on his knee-high SPY hosiery turn green, Wehrlissimo chases and melts, and we make the second turn. I charge off past the light with Flapper Brad and a fellow IF wanker. The group blasts by, with Goose Man leading the flail.
Vapor takes over at turn 3 and it’s another long line of hurt, misery, despair, desperation, self-loathing, and clawing to stay onto the wheel in front of you. The pack has dwindled considerably, with many of the hackers deciding that they’d be more productive at work or on a gurney than out flailing in the middle of this beatdown, and we hit turn four. Last time up the hill there’s a small break, I’m stuck with the flailers and the harder I pedal the slower I go. The break explodes, everyone sits up, and the flailers reattach.
The final push for the sprint comes, and unlike the Old Pier Ride, where the sprinters are fresh and rosy-cheeked and flexing and ready to wreak havoc, they are for the most part so fucked over, tired, and roasted from the three laps of death that they can only watch as Vapor, who could win every one of these wankfests at will but instead prefers to lead out the children to give them a workout, turns on the jets and with Hair tucked on his wheel and Davy Dawg tucked on his wheel blows out a contrail of pain and misery and speed so fierce that the only one who can come around is Hair, who switches to glide and pulls away with the victory, the money, the fame, and the glory of being the first ever winner of the New Pier Ride being his and his alone.
Meanwhile, back at the flat
On the last lap I’d hit a rock full force and been forced to do the entire thing, I found out later, on a slowly deflating rear tire. Surfer Dan, G$, and Tink stopped, Dan gave me a tube and assisted with the change. I explained that but for the flat I would have probably ridden 25 mph faster than everyone else. They all nodded and rolled their eyes.
On the way back we discussed the New Pier Ride. Better? Yes. Safer? By far. Roastier? No comparison. Plan on going back to the Old Pier Ride once they finish their strip mining project/core to the center of the earth experiment on Admiralty? Noooooo way. The Pier Ride is dead. Long live the Pier Ride.
February 19, 2012 § 6 Comments
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. The definition of bike racing is getting beat down over and over again, and doing it over and over again.
The UCLA Road Race holds its annual road race on the Devil’s Punchbowl course, far from all those Asians in the library whose parents come and do their laundry. In fact, Punchbowl was recently rated the Least Asian-friendly Road Race Course in America, beating out Gruene, Texas, and Bakersfield, California, by a wide margin. You can listen to the UCLA Road Race Asian Theme Song here.
This was my fifth run at a race held on the infamous Devil’s Pukebowl course, a windblown, trash-strewn, barren wasteland of cactus, rusting trailer homes, sand, grit, meth incubators, and bad memories. I knew it was going to be bad this year, too, because the most famous UCLA bike racing Asian, Kwaan Lu, had graduated and wouldn’t be there to laugh as the howling wind picked up and blew away the sign-in tent. UCLA Road Race without Asians? Whaaaaa?
I also knew it was going to be bad because none of my teammates would ride to the race with me. Bike racers, in addition to their generally unscientific approach to racing (“I heard this beta carotene will stop cramps,”) are terribly superstitious. Once word gets out that you’re a bad luck racer, even your teammates will stop offering you rides. In my case it had gotten so bad that the entire Ironfly contingent refused to attend the race. “Dude, you’re fucking snakebit. The blogging shit is funny and all, but you’re fucking rat poison in the birthday cake. We’re gonna ride the track and go drink some beers.”
Tri-Dork to the rescue
Fortunately Tri-Dork knew nothing of this, and since, like most triathletes, he doesn’t do great with long words and has therefore never read this blog, he agreed to give me a ride. It was his first road race and in exchange for taking me to the race I promised to advise him on tactics.
As we got underway I began with Rule 1: Proper nutrition. “You had lunch, dude?”
“Isn’t it kind of early? It’s only ten and we don’t start until 1:30.”
“Dude, it’s probably too late. A triple cheeseburger and fries take almost four hours to properly digest.”
He laughed nervously. “You’re joking right?”
“Yeah. Two hours is plenty.”
“We never ate cheeseburgers before triathlons.”
“And how many did you win?”
“Only a couple, actually.”
“There you have it. Hey perfect timing. There’s an In-N-Out.” He still thought I might be joking. “Stop the fucking car!” I ordered. Tri-Dork swung into the parking lot. Now he was scared.
As we sat down to our triple meat with onions and large Coke, I explained. “Look, dude, you have zero chance in this race. You weigh 191 pounds, not counting the five you’re about to add. This fucking race has 6,000 feet of climbing over a 50-mile course and the next heaviest guy in the race is me at 165.
“Glass Hip is here. 150. G$. 155. Baby ‘DQ’ Louie. 125. You are going to get dropped immediately, even faster than me. You’re probably not even going to finish once you’re out their flogging by yourself up the face of a cliff in a howling sandstorm. So, knowing that it’s hopeless and that you suck, your only recourse is to drown your sorrow in greasy food. Chow down.”
Rule 2: Proper race psychology
As Tri-Dork guided the fully loaded Prius and the even more fully loaded us onto the highway, he asked me about race wheels. “These new Ksyriums are really light. I’m hoping they’ll make a difference on the climb.”
“Dude, that triple cheeseburger you just ate weighed more than your frame. If you want to do well in this race, which is impossible, you need to have the proper mental preparation.”
Tri-Dork smiled. “I’m pretty good in that area. The year I got fifth at Kona I did an entire course on race psychology.”
“Look, Kona is for pussies. It’s a fucking coffee blend, for Dog’s sake. Triathlon has all the strategy of beating off: start out easy, build up gradually, and make sure you save the final spurt for the end. Any fifteen year-old can figure that shit out.
“But you’re bike racing now, Dorky. The mental aspect is completely different.” I could tell the analogy had hit home.
“Okay. So what should I do?”
The bike-rama sutra
“If triathlon strategy is wanking, then bike racing strategy is sex. Which means a couple of simple things. First, you gotta have the right equipment. Second, what you do depends on what the other person does. Third, you have options: suck wheel, pound from the front, come from behind…it’s complicated. Takes practice. Sometimes you think you can shoot through the hole, but you have pull back and go for a different opening.
“You also need to get in the right frame of mind by distrusting everyone in the race. Just like casual sex. Assume your partner has every disease in the book.”
“Even my teammates?”
“Especially them. Your only possible role on a team is to work for the riders who are better than you. Which is all of them.”
“Okay. So then what?”
“Once you recognize that the world is your enemy you must never take a pull. Ever. Sit on wheels. Hide from the front. Save everything for the two big moments of the race.”
“What are those?”
“The first is when you get dropped. Save all your energy for making a lunge to close the gap.”
“So I can get back on?”
“No. You’ll never get back on. When they accelerate at the top of the climb physics will overcome fantasy and you will become a giant millstone heaved off into a very deep lake.”
“So why do I need to save my effort for that if I’m just going to get dropped?”
“So you can tell me after the race how close you were to hanging on. ‘I was THIS close!! Just a bike length!!’ By the way, ‘just a bike length’ when getting dropped on a climb is approximately equal to the distance that light travels in one year. Just so you know.”
“This is pretty complicated. What’s the second big moment?”
“The finish, where you put yourself through agonies unimaginable to the average 45 year-old gentleman as you risk life, limb, and fifteen thousand dollars in race equipment to beat out some other wanker for 47th place.”
Ol’ Gizzards and Comeback
We pawed the dirt at the starting line as I surveyed the competition. Glass Hip, looking relaxed, fit, and intimidating with his new death row crew-cut. The more he smiled and smalltalked with Baby ‘DQ’ Louie the more I realized how bitter this beatdown was going to be. G$ casually straddled his top tube, looking like a giant heart and lung with two long legs attached as an afterthought. Klasna sat calmly, fresh blood from the roadkill he’d just eaten still dripping from his fangs. Fatty Flagg, who at 170 pounds was the true beast of the race, looked coolly at the race official.
Then I pinched myself. These guys weren’t my competition. My competition was Bumblebee, the newt in a black and yellow-striped Halloween costume. My competition was Ol’ Gizzards, the stringy, misshapen wanker who kept falling off his bike at the start line. My competition was Comeback, the 52 year-old who’d had a run of Cat 3 wins back in ’79 and wanted to resurrect the glories of his racing career. These were the losers I’d get to know intimately over the course of the day.
Our field had 53 riders, including Skankdaddy, a twiglike specimen doomed to flail, who bulled his way up the middle of the group, elbowing Herndy-Doo in the process. I shook my head. Why would anyone try to pass Herndy-Doo in the first minute of the race? Herndy always makes the split and he benches 350.
We climbed up the first couple of miles to the right turn that leads to the infamous “Punchbowl Staircase.” This is a series of three climbs, each followed by a brief plateau. Like a staircase, you can see each section stretch endlessly off in front of you, and also like a staircase, it hurts like a motherfucker when you get thrown off it.
By the turn I was redlining, Comeback had gone back, Ol’ Gizzards was frying in the pan, and Skankdaddy was now trying to tweezle his way across the gap between him and us. Tri-Dork looked great, which was troubling.
There were less than thirty of us left at the top of the Staircase, and we pointed our bikes down the screaming crosswind descent. After the race everyone lied about how fast we went, with the biggest whopper coming from DQ Louie, who claimed he’d hit 60. Even so, it was a solid 45-50 for the entire 5-mile descent.
I almost didn’t get dropped
After the descent there’s a rolling 3-mile stretch before making a sharp right and doing the climb again. As the climb began I felt great. Thirty seconds in I felt not so great. Forty seconds in, the entire group detonated as G$, DQ Louie, Fatty Flagg, and Glass Hip crushed it. I would have stayed with them if I hadn’t gotten dropped, no question about it.
As I settled back with Gilligan, the Skipper, and the other castaways, I watched the leaders pull away. Tucked safely in their midst was Tri-Dork. All 191 pounds of him.
[Insert incredibly stupid, boring, “I”-centered recount of every dumb move, every retarded struggle, every adjective designed to impress readers with how tough it was, every reference to grit and power and climbing and hammering for every bump, climb, descent, pull, flail, and flog of the remaining 38 miles.]
At the end of the third lap we overhauled Tri-Dork, as he, Veins, and I dropped our contingent of wankers on the last time up the big climb. We hit the downhill and Tri-Dork demonstrated his mastery of the Egg. This is where you sit on the top tube, put your hands on tops of the bars, curve your spine, and tuck your head. When you’re almost 200 pounds it means that you easily go 55 mph.
It also means that your nuts are smashed flat on the top tube, a minor point, and that you lose 95% control of your bike, a major point. This is no problem when you’re a triathlete, and blunt trauma force to the head leaves the internal cement undamaged, but when you’re a nerdy bike blogger it’s kind of a different deal, and rather worrisome. All this was going through my mind as a big farm truck with a trailer full of unused IQ points flipped on its blinker and made as if to cut across our path, with Tri-Dork in full tuck, and Veins and I cowering in his draft.
Thanks to dumb luck we avoided the side of the trailer, and thanks to the Egg we caught what was left of the main field, which consisted of the saddest, fucked-overest, tiredest, beatdownest, sad-sackest bunch of wrinkled old shits you’ve ever seen. And they were the fresh ones, everyone else having quit, except for Tree, who had dropped his chain at .5 mile into the race and rode the rest of the race alone.
The race for first
We found out after the race that Glass Hip, Klasna, Baby Louie, Fatty Flagg, and G$ had shellacked the field at the turn onto the Stairstep on the second lap. You’d think that with three Big O riders represented in the group it would be an easy win, but the Orangemen were able, just in time, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Unfortunately for them, Glass Hip was on form. That means something different than it does for most people. When he rode for the U.S. Olympic team, Glass Hip was tested along with the other elite racers. In every parameter he failed miserably. His VO2 max was 19.5 ml/kg/min. His functional threshold power was 185 watts. His torso measured twice the length of his longest leg, which was six inches longer than the other one, such that neither foot could reach the ground without a short stepladder.
However, in one critical parameter, he outscored everyone ever tested at the U.S. Olympic Center, except for Hacksaw Jim Duggan, in the category of “Hammer Thumb.” This is a test where they tie your hand onto a board and the tester smacks the shit out of your biggest digit with a ball-peen hammer. Electrodes are wired to your brain to record your ability to withstand pain, but are rarely used because after the first whack the testee usually shrieks in agony, and after the second one passes out.
They not only hammered Glass Hip’s thumb, but they hammered all his fingers and toes as well, culminating with a four-minute session on the end of his pecker. The tester finally passed out from sympathetic pain sensations, kind of like guys who go into labor when their wives get pregnant. When they read the computer print-out after scanning his brain, it said, “No brain detected. No brain, no pain.”
In short, no matter what they threw at him, and they threw it all, Glass Hip took it on the chin, shook it off, and braced himself for the next blow. Pretty soon, like the testers at the Olympic Training Center, his adversaries found themselves in a weakened and addled and terrified state. As the five heroes approached the line, Glass Hip bent over, gently took the candy from the babies, and rocketed across the line effortlessly.
Baby “DQ” Louie opened up his sprint for second close to the gutter, then came all the way across to the center line, shutting the door on Klasna and earning himself yet another yellow card, relegation to fifth, and a note that he had to take home and get his mother to sign acknowledging his bad behavior.
The race for fifteenth
Tri-Dork and I, locked in mortal combat, engaged in a battle for the ages. He, doing his first road race on a course suited for tiny bony people, was matched against me, a tiny bony person who had done about a thousand hilly road races. It was only by using every ounce of cunning, skill, strength, ability, tactics, and him throwing a chain at the bottom of the climb that I was able to claim the coveted spot of Number 15.
On the way home we re-hashed the race. “At first I thought you were bullshitting me about the hamburger and fries. But that shit really works. Thanks, Wankmeister.”
I, for once, didn’t know what to say.
February 17, 2012 § 7 Comments
The city of Rolling Hills Estates had a city council meeting on Tuesday night regarding their proposed “bike path” project. Uncle Sam kicked in a mil and some change. The state kicked in another half-mil or so. RHE emptied a couple of jars filled with loose change to come up with the “matching” 200k. Voila–2.6 miles of bike path along PV North, running from Crenshaw over to the border with Palos Verdes Estates.
This is a meeting I wouldn’t have been caught dead at, except that someone sent out an email saying that the horse people at Rolling Hills Estates were opposed to the bike lane. If you’re like me, you were probably wondering “What’s with all these fucking cities on the Hill named ‘Estates’?” And then, if you were like me, you were probably wondering, “Who could possibly oppose a bike lane? And why?” Then, if you were really like me, you figured, “I gotta go see this in person. There’s going to be some funny shit going down.”
The horse people didn’t disappoint.
We’re a rural, equestrian community
The city of Rolling Hills Estates became a municipality in 1957. As their web site says, “…its new citizens were united in their concern over maintaining the community’s rural atmosphere and equestrian lifestyle, characterized by rolling hills, white fences, bridle trails, and vast open spaces.” In other words, even back then they were worried about having blacks, Jews, trailer trash, Mexicans, Asians and other non-horse people infiltrate their community.
The fiction that RHE is a rural community could, of course, only be propagated by people who’ve never actually lived in one. Rural communities are shitholes. The people are poor. They don’t have health insurance or full sets of teeth. They smoke a lot. They drink a lot. They fuck a lot, a positive mitigating factor, but they do it mostly with each other, cf. Hapsburgs and congenital birth defects.
Rural communities are also narrow-minded, stupid places where people who don’t read books make decisions about things that require you to have read lots of books. Rural communities think that contraception is “funny” and that if a “gal” doesn’t want to get pregnant she should hold an aspirin between her legs. Rural communities don’t think it’s funny if you tell them that you can also achieve contraception by ramming aspirin up the man’s penis.
Rural communities hate government and welfare, which is why they are the nation’s largest recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements as a percentage of their population. They call themselves “conservative.” Other people call them “minimum wage employees” and “hypocrites.”
Rural Californians have less access to healthcare, less access to the Internet (so they can’t watch as much porn), and are more likely to have heart attacks, cancer, and/or to be drunks. I learned all this on the Internet, which never lies. Also, rural communities are mean. They hate outsiders, which are generally defined as anyone who doesn’t have grandparents in the cemetery. Most of all, rural communities are defined as thinly populated places stuck out far from civilization that no one in his right mind would live if he didn’t have to.
Is RHE really a rural community? Many of its residents are certainly mean enough. But the fact is that PV North gets over 22,000 cars per day. RHE is butt-up against Torrance and Harbor City, and five minutes from a minor, back country road called Interstate 110, which got 286,000 cars per day…in 1993. Sound rural? Uh, no.
So that leaves us with the horses.
What the fuck is an equestrian community?
Even Google was stumped with this one, so I had to actually sleuth around, make up some stuff, and rely on my background as a Texan and former denizen of the Panhandle, where I never rode any horses. However, my great-grandfather Edward was a real Texas rancher and owned a small spread between Alpine and Fort Davis, and my granddad Frank cowboyed as a young man. Plus, I once did the photography for a guy’s web site that offered surrogate mare embryo implant services. So I figured that standing around for several days watching a guy with his entire arm up a horse’s uterus made me pretty much a horse expert.
Combining these various sources, here is what an “equestrian community” means as it relates to RHE:
–You own several horses but hardly ever ride them.
–You are fat and out of shape.
–You drive everywhere.
–Your daughters ride horses as little girls and ditch the habit once they get a boyfriend.
–Your house smells like horseshit because it’s next to the barn.
–You own a $130,000 horse trailer that you use to trailer your horse instead of riding it.
–Your husband is into “roping,” which is where he sits on a rail fence in Wranglers and boots and gets drunk on beer while you screw the pool guy.
–You don’t want anyone new on the Hill.
–You absolutely hate spandex-wearing cyclists.
Democracy is won by those who show up
The city council and mayor called the meeting to order. The council chambers were packed with about seventy or eighty people. Half were cyclists, many of whom lived on the Hill. The other half were mad: Mad horse people, mad senior citizens, mad taxpayers, mad insane people.
The city manager gave a presentation on the project. It was intelligent. It was clear. It addressed the concerns of pedestrians, hobby cyclists, fast cyclists, horse people, motorists, and tree lovers. Best of all, the project was paid for. We learned that the city had been working on the project for years and years, and that painstaking study had gone into its development. We saw from the their demeanor that the mayor and council members took their jobs with extraordinary seriousness.
And then the freak show began.
The first speaker was Crotchety Bill Snuffins, who had lived in RHE since the invention of dirt, and he remembered how it used to be pretty and quiet and peaceful and bucolic and horsey before cars and airplanes and telephones and radios. His gripe about the project? “At this grave time of financial peril, it is irresponsible to be taking money from the federal government.”
Of course! A patriot! I waited for him to follow up with the statement that he was going to quit cashing his Social Security checks, quit paying for his Depends with Medicare, quit accepting prescription drug Part D discounts, and quit accepting senior citizen discounts at all his favorite shops. But he never said any of that.
Next up came Molly Broadwaddle, who had lived in RHE since the invention of igneous rock, and she remembered how it used to be pretty and quiet and peaceful and bucolic and horsey, back in the days of eohippus and the early Eocene. Her gripe about the project? “I’m VERY concerned about the trees. What will happen to the trees? That’s what I want to know.”
I thought about telling her that the trees would still be able to cycle in the bike lane same as they always had, but kept my mouth shut.
Then we had a run of bike advocates. They were pitifully boring. One of them talked about how this plan balanced competing needs. Another discussed the demographics of cycling on the Hill. A third thanked the council for taking on this great project. A fourth reviewed statistics on bike commuting, weight loss, and property values. A fifth talked about how cycling decreases vehicular traffic and increases air quality. Ted Ernst stood up looking like he was forty, reminded everyone that he was a few months shy of eighty, and talked about the importance of balancing competing needs.
Would the lady in the red plastic garbage bag please shut up?
Finally a horse woman came storming up. She was pissed. She was wearing a giant red outfit that looked like it was made by Hefty. “I came here in 1972,” she proudly proclaimed. “And these bikers are ruining our rural equestrian community! They terrorize us! They swarm by us in big packs! They run stop signs! And you know what else they do? They snarl traffic! Because of them my maid was two and a half hours late! Two and a half hours! Late! This project is terrible!
“And let me tell you something else. Any parent who would let their child ride in one of these bike lanes with all these cars around is crazy. I wouldn’t. It’s dangerous.”
She said a lot of more things with the same inverse relationship of passion to facts, but I couldn’t focus because I was trying to find out where the little bag-ties on her trashbag outfit were. Then I got to wondering who in her household was strong enough to haul her out to the curb, and then what kind of hydraulic arms would it take on the trash truck to get her up over the sides without tipping over…and and as I was wondering, the master of ceremonies said, “Er, next speaker is, um…Mr. Wankmeister?”
I bounded to the podium. “Howdy, folks,” I said in by best Texas twang, knowing how much the country folks in RHE love their rural Texas brethren. “I’m the Wankmeister. My friends call me ‘Wanky,’ or just ‘Fuckhead’ for short. I live up in the apartments on top of the Hill with all the other poor folks and smart Asians and just wanted to come give my blessing to this great project.
“Now I understand that you horse people have done gone and got your Wranglers wedged up too high between your cheeks, but that’s okay. My family was horse people and I know what a hard-headed bunch of bastards you are. I remember when they tried to get my old great-granddaddy to get on the electrical grid back in the 30’s.
“‘What in tarnation’d I want THAT for?’ is what he said. And then they tried to get him to install indoor plumbing so’s he wouldn’t have to shit outdoors in a shed and wipe his ass with a Sears catalog and so that he could maybe bathe more than twice a year. ‘What in tarnation’d I want THAT for?’ is what said then, too.
“Pretty soon they come along and told him that if he’d re-route one of his cattle tracks they’d seal the highway out by the ranch so that every time it rained the damn thing wouldn’t turn into a deathly raging torrent and then a bog that swallowed cars, trucks, and horses whole. ‘What in tarnation’d I want THAT for?’ is how he turned them folks away.
“Thing is, his wife, who wasn’t a horse woman, hated the damned idiot critters, and in fact thought electricity and being able to see after sundown and before sunup was a great idea. So they got it. And she thought that a regular bath without having to haul water 500 yards from the well and heat it over a wood fire was an even better idea. So they got indoor plumbing, too. And you know what? She didn’t give a damn about horses getting swallowed in the bog, but she sure cared about her car. So she gave the okay for the paving project.
“Sooner or later the horse idiots always lose out. And they will on this one, too, thank Dog.”
She who snarls last snarls best
What with the council laughing, and the bikers guffawing, and even a couple of the RHE people who had a sense of humor chuckling a bit, the horse folks were routed. I went out of the chambers to go home and up runs ol’ Pigfarmer lady in the red trashbag. “I’ll tell you why you’re so poor and why we have so much money! Because we SAVE our money!”
Before I could observe that she clearly wasn’t pinching pennies at the all-you-can-wear dessert bar, she dashed back in. So there I was, poor as I’d been when I first showed up, but for all that, maybe a little bit richer than that lady knew, after all.
February 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
Feeling kind of thankful today, so in no particular order, and with no claims to thoroughness or completeness…
Thank you Stern-O for teaching me what a clean bike really looks like.
Thank you Filds for the trip down memory lane…at 2:00 AM.
Thank you UnklPhil for inviting me on that very first Thursday shop ride.
Thank you Joe Yule for making the world a more beautiful place, literally.
Thank you G$ for summing it all up: “I just wanna go faster.” And for the burger and fries.
Thank you Maggie for always making me smile…and everyone else.
Thank you Bob Reback for always treating me like a peer, even when I’d only been licensed for a month and you were going on your 38th year.
Thank you Chris Lotts for being the best bike promoter ever, and for encouraging me to say what I think. Because I was shy before I met you.
Thank you Martin Howard for building a bastion of Freddiedom in Long Beach.
Thank you Wehrlissimo for your generosity and good cheer.
Thank you Dave Jaeger for the FTR.
Thank you Scott Dickson for asking me that deep philosophical question 3/4 way up the brutal climb outside of Lago Vista.
Thank you Dad for watching all my baseball games, and for letting me figure out on my own that I sucked.
Thank you MMX for giving so much more than you receive.
Thank you Sup Cat for your excellent Japanese + cycling + Twitter combo.
Thank you Rahsaan for saying the things you believe, even when it makes people uncomfortable.
Thank you Tim Roach for coaching me, even though I’m uncoachable.
Thank you Johnny Walsh for showing me how to ride up to the rail and a zillion other things.
Thank you Glasship for discouraging me to be a lawyer, and thereby encouraging me to be one.
Thank you Mom for teaching me how subtle and varied and enjoyable are the many tastes of bitter…and for the world’s most sardonic sense of humor.
Thank you Barbara for being my best friend.
Thank you Gussy for remembering everything that ever happened and every person who ever did it.
Thank you Norris for being a truly virtuous man.
Thank you Kathy for putting up with Michael’s strange friend from Texas.
Thank you Howard Hughes of the South Bay for your eternal good cheer and friendship.
Thank you Jack for being able to make fun of everyone and everything, and for the awesome puppet movie with Kim Jong Il.
Thank you Jack Pritchard for being the first modern day cycling blogger, before there were blogs.
Thank you Jay Aust for always cutting me a deal.
Thank you Frank Shurer for creating an institution, and caring for all its inmates.
Thank you President Obama for granting us that interview when you were still a senator.
Thank you Ralph Yarborough for the Big Thicket.
Thank you Uncle Phil Davidson for your unforgettable performance in “The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia.”
Thank you Allis for inviting me to Japan.
Thank you Miss Sessions for being the prettiest kindergarten teacher ever. I still love you.
Thank you David Johnson for Bellaire Debate, even though you were a complete asshole.
Thank you Rob and Jonathan for being my debate parents.
Thank you Annalee for wearing that tight white button-down shirt.
Thank you Banker Bob for all the great bike rides then, and for all the ones we’ve yet to do.
Thank you Cathy for taking such good care of Banker Bob.
Thank you Hillel for offering me acid, and not taking it amiss when I declined.
Thank you Rick the Rocket for all those great meals at Good Eat’s and for all those fun rides, especially that one where we were sprinting for the sign into Dripping Springs and I almost killed you.
Thank you Kevin Callaway (the good one) for making me laugh nonstop. I still hum “Teakwood” to the tune of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
Thank you Cathy Devaney for the unforgettable trip to New Orleans and for our flail performance in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and for making fun of Jim Ayres, who was also an asshole.
Thank you Russell dB for always making fun of idiots on bikes and crushing the aspirations of wannabe wankers. Not so much thanks for dropping me outside of Sealy that day in the 110-degree heat, though.
Thank you Mel for being the other half of Ironfly, keeping Fukdude in line, and keeping the Tiger Mom street cred real for us white guys married to Asian chicks.
Thank you Toronto for the ride down to SD that day. I learned a lot.
Thank you Dave Perez for always taking a joke, and for giving as good as you get.
Thank you Charon for praying for me, even though it’s not going to do any good, and for being such a stand-up, wonderful guy.
Thank you Noel for having in depth, endless conversations with me on hundred-mile rides where we don’t even need to speak.
Thank you Canyon Bob for surviving.
Thank you Craig for your wit and good cheer and friendship.
Thank you Fukdude for all the training advice, for not minding that I’m a dork, and for always being in a good mood.
Thank you Fireman for yelling at me and for giving me the two consecutive sprints at the county line and for the unforgettable attack on the 101.
Thank you Davy Dawg for tearing the crank off, something I hadn’t seen done since Callaway did it in ’84.
Thank you George Agin for the mushrooms in Colorado.
Thank you Harold Doty for not putting up with my bullshit.
Thank you Granddad Jim for the card games, Gunsmoke on TV, firecrackers, and most of all the fishing. RIP.
Thank you New Girl for always putting me in the best of moods.
Thank you Evan for being the senior-est guitar wizard of the Davidson clan.
Thank you Josh for being one of the best bluesmen alive.
Thank you Adam Lima for forgiveness.
Thank you Garen Evans for the same, and I hope we get to ride together some day.
Thank you Rosie Rodriguez and the junior high school crush I had on you.
Thank you Aileen for letting me give Dave a hard time.
Thank you Brad for your advocacy, and one day when you actually see Victoria, Texas you’ll see what a Ron Paul-led America would look like.
Thank you G3 for the parties and for always kicking my ass. May I have another?
Thank you King Harold for the world’s first, last, and best reverse attack at Telo.
Thank you Polly for the OTB chat at Punchbowl three years ago.
Thank you Tree for not dying at Boulevard.
Thank you BT for your stalwart membership in the Pedal Mulisha and Men’s Lactation Group.
Thank you Todd for steering me to the Hill and away from those apartments on 7th Street across from Ports o’ Call.
Thank you Chelsea for not going off to Germany.
Thank you Suze for always giving the guys hell and making them grind their teeth in humiliation when you drop them.
Thank you Anne Freihoff for tutoring me past that godawful German university entrance exam.
Thank you Liz Mendoian for helping me pass the bar the second time around.
Thank you Rolf and Krista Kurz for the hospitality in Munich!
Thank you Gabi-chen for all of the fun at Studentenwohnheim Rheinallee.
Thank you Jan Volek for the night-time ride to Berlin on the night the Wall came down.
Thank you Kayoko for treating me like your son. And for being the best cook in the world, ever, no exceptions. (Sorry about the bamboo…)
Thank you Takanori for treating me like your son. And for Nandaimon!
Thank you Kihachi for letting me be a part of your family. RIP.
Thank you Sue for so many years of cooking mochi on New Year’s Day.
Thank you George Haynes for hiring me at the UAC.
Thank you Brenda K. Comer for advancing me $100 when I worked at Houston Interviewing so I could buy a wetsuit.
Thank you Bill White for showing me what “shred” looked like.
Thank you Robert O’Quinn for Mazatlan.
Thank you Mike Martin for reinventing “cool.”
Thank you DanC for the early Donut breakaways. My tooth first, yours is next.
Thank you Dom for daring me to race in Belgium. I’m 99.9% gonna do it, which is another way of saying I’m not.
Thank you Amsterdam Hammer for knowing you were better but not making a big deal out of it.
Thank you Douggie for yelling at me to not hammer all the time when I first came out here. It’s sinking in…slowly…and that damn Rollers record on Strava…crap.
Thank you Laurie for the big hug every single time we meet, and for the inspiration NOT to be a runner.
Thank you Gerald for the extraordinary Italian hospitality and cuisine.
Thank you Greg Hall for showing me that it’s possible to just stop. I’m getting there.
Thank you Chief for showing me that in order to be a cyclist one need not necessarily cycle. Very much.
Thank you Matt McPhail for never agreeing with anything I ever thought or said but always being a loyal friend.
Thank you Richard Turner for showing me what a triathlete could do when he focused on cycling. RIP.
Thank you Dan Gammill for the job moving pianos and for teaching me so many important things, for example: “When a customer calls you up, and they remember you but you don’t remember them–that’s a really bad sign.”
Thank you Mr. Cornelius for showing me and my brother what it meant to “slip me some skin.”
Thank you Greg St. Johns for sharing the angle.
Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr. for believing in the equality of all people. RIP.
Thank you Marvin for the unforgettable ass-flap and for being the world’s most liberal redneck. You’re my fuckin’ hero.
Thank you Jay Yoshizumi for the shutter clicks and Snoopy. Who knew those two went together?
Thank you Roadchamp for the occasional compliment, and for the numerous times you’ve let me hang. Let.
Thank you Miles Sr. for the great lunches, and the full-on approach to everything. Now I know what “world record holder” means, a little.
Thank you Miles Jr. for scaring the shit out of me, and cracking me like an egg every time the road tilts up.
Thank you Diego for riding like a man on the Man Tour.
Thank you Peter for stomping me and Fukdude on those intervals, then recovering after, like, 15 seconds, and doing it all over again.
Thank you Kat for the fun in Houston. It seems like a long time ago…because it was.
Thank you Adrienne and Emilio for being there in our hour of need.
Thank you Bill and Loralee for standing together during the Great Water Wars against T. Boone Pickens and his Evil Empire. And for helping drain more than a couple of boxes of wine!
Thank you Teda for making everything and everyone better who comes into contact with you.
Thank you Joe Bill for always, always, telling it like it was. RIP.
Thank you McFreelands for the soccer games and New Year’s parties in Austin.
Thank you Stormin’ Norman for always hitting the front, and hitting it hard.
Thank you Dan for the tickets to the Texas-UCLA beatdown.
Thank you Manny G. for always lighting it up, then flaming it out.
Thank you Jeff Bryant for staying in triathlons for so long. Sucks that you’re killing us all on the bike now.
Thanks Jim Miller for moving over to SPY, even though you had to leave the South Bay to do it.
Thanks Artiste for the tattoos on the calves. It’s not often we get to watch art while we ride, over and over and over again.
Thank you Malouf for teaching me the true meaning of Christmas, every single year.
Thank you Therese for keeping Malouf in line.
Thank you Salem for leaving your corner of the world a better place than it was the way you found it.
Thank you Laurie Brown for personifying integrity.
Thank you Judge Vernon Cook for always greeting me with a hearty handshake and a sincere smile, even though I went to Texas.
Thank you Jim Bill Anderson for helping the prairie chickens.
Thank you Ted for showing me the natural world.
Thank you Mary for living the Christian life that many preach but few follow. RIP.
Thank you Ted Sr. for the lunches, the beer, and the skiing on Lake Austin.
Thank you Kiyoshi for educating me in just big enough bites that I can swallow, and not minding that I don’t get the technical stuff.
Thank you Kim West for seeming like an anarchist, or at least an atheist, or at the very least a Midwestern biker dude.
Thank you Larry Rubin for your eternal good nature.
Thank you Dogbait for the world’s best nickname, and for being the other half of the team that won PBP.
Thank you Hockeystick for the optimism and doing more than your share.
Thank you George Pomel for convincing me that I not only can ride until I’m 100, but that I should.
Thank you Marcel for that one magical day motoring out to Ragged Point. And for humoring me in my attempt to learn Dutch.
Thank you Dave Kramer for always taking the time to show up and be the rational one.
Thank you Nancy Aguilar for helping me get my career started!
Thank you Sharon for always, always following through.
Thank you Granny for never getting angry, not even once. RIP.
Thank you Nicole Keshishian-Modic for coming up to me that one time and saying, “So you’re the infamous Seth?”
Thank you Rudy for hauling my ass up to the Domes that one time on the Donut and not dropping me. And for laughing when I changed my first clincher. Fucking inner tube just wouldn’t go on over the tire.
Thank you Patrick for finally putting your real name on your blog. See?
Thank you Amy Hutner for telling the world about the one time I had to call my wife for a ride home from RB because I was too pooped to make it up the Hill.
Thank you Granddad Frank for teaching me how to water ski. You were a very patient man. Very, very patient. RIP.
Thank you GEA for taking me under your wing.
Thank you Tobin for the constant help. Gotta serve an SOD with a demand for punitives. Finally got it.
Thank you Paul Che for helping so many other people.
Thank you Cary for thinking I was Jewish. High praise, indeed.
Thank you Mrs. Smith for being such a good 3rd Grade teacher, even though you nicknamed me “Mouth.”
Thank you Mr. Harsch for not expelling me on the final day of school, and instead letting me graduate and become someone else’s problem in high school.
Thank you Sue Kidwell for telling me it was okay to drop out of law school for a year and study at the University of Bonn.
Thank you Dean Sharlot for telling me I was an idiot but if I wanted to take 21 hours including Chinese, French literature, and advanced German grammar my first semester of law school, go right ahead.
Thank you Steve Shackelford for being my best friend in law school. You died way to young, buddy. RIP.
Thank you Peter and Trudi Schindler for seeming like old friends.
Thank you Albert Lagunas for the invite to the madness; count me in in 2013.
Thank you Grandma Sarah for all the banana cream pies. RIP.
Thank you Phil Carter, or should I just call you “roomie”?
Thank you Steve Carre for handling it the way you did. No one could have done it better.
Thank you Renee for always rocking it on the bike and always holding your own. With a smile!
Thank you Kelly for the boundless good cheer, the speedy bike skills, and for knowing that Peet’s really is better than SBX.
Thank you Elron for trying to help. But Tim Roach can tell you that it’s hopeless.
Thank you Major Bob for serving. And for not killing yourself when you smashed into me on MT3.
Thank you Roberto Pascani for being able to call me every name in the book, have it thrown back at you, and still be friends!
Thank you Rodley for doing your best to laugh at most of my jokes. Well, some of them, anyway. Okay, a few. Much appreciated.
Thank you Sarah for constantly crushing Cary on the bike. It really does my heart good to see that.
Thank you Taylor for dropping me in all the hilly road races. It really makes me feel like a climber, you know?
Thank you Hoverhawk for the merciless beatdowns. One day I will finish a road race within ten minutes of you. Naaaaah….
Thank you Mike Hotten for those three laps in the snow last year at UCLA Punchbowl. Sorry I cratered and quit on the fourth lap.
Thank you Shana for inviting me to such an unforgettable wedding, and for sharing pictures of Philip on FB. His images and your commentary are priceless!
Thank you Seiji for quitting smoking!
Thank you Tomoko for all of the travels and good times! Lubbock, Oklahoma, Yokohama, Mito, Tokyo, Mashiko…next…LA?
Thank you Mitoji for the great drinking escapades. I’ll never forget that trip in the back of the truck to San Antonio.
Thank you Danny Martin for your friendship. RIP.
Thank you Todd Sweeney for “Sepp Had a Little Hen.”
Thank you Torazo for lurking on FB and still not being too frightened to marry into this family.
Thank you Will Chesebro for the inspiration and for proudly representing the USA.
Thank you Vicki V. for getting so many men into skirts!!
Thank you Captaintbag for your fuggin hilarious shit.
Thank you Ian for doing what every big brother should do: beat the crap out of his little brother, and challenge him to be his best.
Thank you Joy Aoki for your brilliant sense of humor and use of the right word in the right place at the right time. Even though I know you won’t come back to FB, I wish you would.
Thank you Tony Sells for inspiring me to finally replace Ol’ Yeller, and for advising me that there are only two kinds of fathers as regards the female friends of one’s grown-up children: creepy and cool. Tryin’ hard to be cool!!
Thank you Tom Allen for the great tattooed vibes of reverberating goodness that you send my way with every post.
Thank you Tara for teaching me how to ride the tarck better.
Thank you Woodrow for being my beautiful, wonderful son.
Thank you Hans for being my beautiful, wonderful son.
Thank you Cassady for being my beautiful, wonderful daughter.
Thank you Yasuko for being a saint.