October 19, 2012 § 17 Comments
7-time Tour strippee Lance Armstrong stormed across the finish line in Austin, Texas tonight, showing flashes of the combativeness that made him the most feared competitor of his era, but doing little to dent the commanding lead taken in the previous mountain stage by USADA.
“The team was there for me when it mattered,” said an obviously knackered Armstrong. “And now…let’s have a helluva good time tonight!”
Surrounded by his teammates, most of whom have been at his side for each of his previously stripped Tour non-victories, the mood was defiant, even though the win in Austin took back only fifteen seconds from USADA’s overall advantage of more than ten minutes.
Teammate Gerry Goldstein, a criminal defense lawyer who has had his hands full of late, gave a blunt response to reporters after the stage who questioned how Goldstein could support someone whose charity was built on the back of history’s greatest sporting fraud. “I’m a big fan of what he has done. Overcoming cancer and doing what he did, who gives a fuck about anything else? That’s so much more important as a role model and a human being. Quit whining about it. This is the 21st Century. The ends justify the means.”
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who donated a pair of cleats to the silent auction, said he wants to continue supporting Livestrong. “Obviously, some things have a left a little scar, but people think it’s still important to come out and support Livestrong,” Guthrie said. “Charles Manson left scars too, but you know what? He’s helped a lot of people through his Minister for Life Prison Ministry.”
Experts question whether there are enough stages left for an Armstrong comeback
“They’ve only got two big mountain stages left,” said veteran race strategist Betsy Andreu. “The UCI stage into Aigle, and the Livestrong stage. He’s got strong teammates for the Aigle stage in McQuaid and Vergruggen, but USADA’s beefed up its mountain team this year with that 1,000-page dossier, eyewitness testimony, and the three new riders from Lausanne, Padua, and Montreal.” [Ed. note: Andreu was referring to the three new team USADA signings of Jean-Paul Cas, Benedetto Roberti, and Emilio Wada.]
USADA refused to say the race was over, pointing to Armstrong’s history as a 7-time strippee. “He’s the favorite. We’ve done our best. The hay’s in the barn, as G$ would say. All we can do from here is race smart and hope our team does what it’s been hired to do.”
Armstrong saw it differently. “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation.”
When asked if this is the toughest race he’s ever ridden, Armstrong smiled wryly. “I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse. ‘Unaffected’ was probably not the best choice of words,” he added, referring to a tweet immediately after USADA attacked on the lower slopes of the Col d’Lifetimeban, which put the cycling star into difficulty without obvious recourse to his stalwart suitcase, which former teammates now claim contained something stronger than courage.
Livestrong stage could be pivotal
If Armstrong manages to regain time in Monday’s stage into Aigle, commentators believe that the race will boil down to the final mountaintop finish on Plateau d’ViveForte. “Even if he takes back five, six minutes, it will still be extremely difficult on the final stage,” says crisis management expert Bud Packington.
Adds Packington: “His key climbing allies have either crashed out or have gone home in the broom wagon for finishing outside the time limit. Nike, Trek, SRAM, Anheuser-Busch, all gone, and Oakley getting shelled with every acceleration. Who’s he got left? Robin Williams?”
Smedley Turkins, brand manager for Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, and Charlie Hustle, concurred. “Read his statement when he stepped down as chairman of Livestrong: ‘To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.’
“What the fuck does that mean? It’s an admission that the controversy has affected Livestrong. Fine. What negative effects, and spare the foundation from what? The impact hasn’t been financial; donations have actually increased since he walked away from arbitration. It hasn’t been legal; no one’s suing Livestrong for fraud. Yet. What’s left? It’s the negative effect on the board from all the people who support and fund the organization who are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. We will not have the organization we cherish headed by a cheat.’ For now it’s a shrill voice, it’s a minority, and it’s only within the organization. But if he gets creamed at the stage going into Aigle, if McQuaid and Verbruggen crumple and fold, then that internal dissension will increase. He’ll risk going from chairman to board member to out the door. This was a prophylactic feint, and it’s a hint of things to come.”
It ain’t over ’til it’s over
“Don’t you believe it,” laughed George Hincapie when asked about Armstrong’s prospects for the remainder of the Tour. “He’s toughest when cornered. He’s got options galore.”
When pressed, Hincapie said this: “He’s going to confess. It won’t be a full confession, and it will be carefully worded by the leadout train. Herman will string it out in the last 3k, Fabiani will get him to the last kilometer, and Garvey or Ullman will deliver him to the final 200 meters. It will be a polished, nuanced admission that doesn’t even admit to much. You’ll see.”
Others were less sanguine. Joe Papp, CEO of Felons for Clean Sport, was tersely dismissive. “Never happen.”
Tardstick Ludington, loathesome Internet troll, was even more direct. “Wankmeister is a sociopath bully who lives in his parents’ basement,” he said in between electroshock treatments.
Before getting on the team bus, which was being pelted by angry Canadians who’d paid $35,000 apiece to be dropped and insulted by Armstrong on his annual “Jocksniffer Special” to Lake Louise, he evaluated his prospects thus: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
Then he climbed aboard the bus, with not so much as a smidgeon of egg on his face.
October 19, 2012 § 21 Comments
“Yowwwww!” I screeched.
“Why you gonna wake me up with a yammering onna leg cramp?” It was 1:30 AM, and Mrs. Wankmeister was not amused.
“Yowwww-owwww, owwwwww!” I caterwauled, doing the double pretzel with a reverse back-arch.
“I told you you gonna leg cramp if you don’t drink more water instead of coffee,” she groused, covering her head with the pillow. “Is alla other biker wifes have a yammer husband onna night leg cramp instead of good whoopie? When I gonna get a good whoopie?”
This, however, was no ordinary leg cramp. In fact, it was no leg cramp at all. It was my first ever gikkuri-goshi.
Injuring your way to fitness
A key part of any gym and cyclocross winter routine for older fellows is to get good and injured. Fukdude had made that clear from the start. “Dude,” he said. “You’re gonna fuckin kill yourself racing cyclocross.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yeah, you sure fucking are. And what you don’t ruin falling headfirst into some fucking mudpit or splitting on some fuckin barrier, you will for sure wreck forever in the gym.”
“So far I’ve done okay.”
“Okay? Fuck dude, you’ve crashed in both your ‘cross races, smashed your new bike, scraped up your left leg, hurt your right knee, and pulled your fuckin hamstring so bad you couldn’t bend over for a whole week.”
“I’m better now.”
“You think you are. But in order to really get fucked up you gotta fuck yourself up in the gym. Heavy shit twisting all the fuck over on spindly old dude arms, backs, and knees. Try squats or box jumps. That way you’ll just fuckin cripple yourself and be done with it.”
Finally got my big gym injury…outside the gym, of course
Last night I was waiting for dinner and figured I’d do a few sit-ups and maybe a couple of curls and play with my medicine ball to dull the hunger. I was more vigorous than usual, but it was the same set of Jane Fonda routines I always do.
I felt fine.
I ate dinner.
I felt fine.
I went to bed.
I felt fine.
I woke up screaming with indescribable pain in my lower back. Mrs. WM finally realized that this was more than the usual late-night cramp dance in bed. “You okay, sweetie honey?” she asked. When she breaks out the “sweetie honey,” it’s flat fucking bad.
“My back,” I grunt-moaned. “My fucking back just went out.” The slightest motion other than completely flat and still sent pangs of all-consuming pain radiating throughout my body. It was worse than my first day of calisthenics at Jane Long Junior High in 7th Grade, with Coach Castoria berating us as we lay on the slab, melting in the fiery August heat. A thousand times worse.
I panted, not moving. “Dunno. But my back is killing me if I move.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, I’m gonna tell you an advice then.”
“What?” I panted.
“Don’ move.” Then she rolled over and picked up her iPhone. “You was doin’ onna exercises before dinner, huh?”
Tap, tap, tap. “Okay. It say right here onna doctor Google you gotta gikkuri-goshi. It’s a gonna go away.”
“What the fuck is ‘gikkuri-goshi’? And I’m sure it will go away. Everything goes away after you die.”
“Itsa Japnese back problem. You just gonna have a big pain and then be better if you don move no more.”
Why her strategy was doomed to fail
“Honey, I have to move. I have to pee something fierce.” I tried to roll onto my side to get off the bed, but the pain was unbearable.
Now Mrs. WM was in full alarm mode. “Don you pee onna bed!” she yelled. “Hol it for a minutes I’m gonna get you a pee bottle.” She dashed into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and I heard the milk being poured down the drain. She rushed back in. “You still got the pee inside?” she was frantic.
“Dog, yes, it’s killing me. And my back, oh, dog, my fucking back!”
“Here!” she commanded. With a firm grip she jerked me over onto my side.
The world was plunged into pitch black punctuated by roman candles of pain. “Ahhh fuck! Ahhhh fuck!” Next thing I knew she had yanked down my shorts.
“Now stick it inna nozzle hole!” she commanded.
This was usually a procedure I excelled at, but tonight I fumbled under the dim lamp on the nightstand trying to wedge Prong A into Opening B. However, and I swear I’m not bragging here, my Prong A was not the right size for the plastic milk jug. “It won’t fit!” I wailed.
Mrs. WM reached down and with a sharp yank and a push poked it into the empty bottle. “Owwww!” I roared, as the corrugated inside threads on the plastic neck scraped and nicked.
Mrs. WM relaxed. “Okay, sweetie honey. Now you can pee onna bottle.”
Unfortunately, all the shoving and thrusting and poking and rubbing, combined with the excess fluid build-up in my bladder, had caused a certain phenomenon to begin. “Ahhhhhhh!” I cried in pain, as I’d already been tightly wedged into the nozzle..
“Itsa okay! I can get it out!” She reached over to yank the jug but I slapped her hand away, sending massive waves of pain up and down my spine and concentrating in my dick.
“Don’t you touch that fucking jug!” I yelled.
“Itsa okay!” she said, still afraid that the hose would come loose and pee on the sheets. “Imma call the 9-1-1!”
There was nothing on earth that could have made me sit bolt upright except that phrase, and the mental image of an EMS team showing up in my bedroom.
I could see the EMS dude talking into the mike. “Roger, home base, we got a white male, late 40’s, penis wedged in a milk carton with a back injury and sopping with sweat. Proceeding with Code 7. Bill, hand me the penis-bottle removing tool. And stabilize his neck and spine.”
“Honey, don’t fucking call 9-1-1. I can get it off.” With care I extracted Prong from Opening. Now I was really getting ready to lose it.
I heard her clattering around on the balcony. “Hold onna pee! Hold onna pee!” She rushed back in with the giant mop bucket that I use to clean my bike. I had fallen back onto my side, gasping in pain. “Pee inna bucket!”
Holding the giant plastic bucket in position, I slowly drained the tank, and it’s a good thing the milk carton hadn’t worked: I would have overflowed that sucker and then been banned from the house forever, gikkuri-goshi and all.
Mrs. WM looked on, proud of her quick thinking. “Thatsa good ol’ pee bucket,” she said with satisfaction. Then she wrinkled her nose as the pungent reek of ammonia filled the bedroom. “But thatsa stinky ol’ pee you doin.”
She carried away the sloshing bucket and dumped it in the toilet.
“Now be still, honey sweetie!” she commanded. “An no more peein!”
Somehow I drifted off to sleep.
The alarm went off at 5:00 AM, and I could move. Somewhat. Without total debilitating pain.
Gikkuri-goshi? I can check that shit off my list. And once I can walk again, I’m gonna race ‘cross. Hopefully tomorrow.
October 17, 2012 § 186 Comments
Lance is getting ready to confess. He’ll make the announcement in the next few days, or he’ll wait until the UCI strips him of his titles and announce it then.
I’m predicting the former.
Armstrong is the ultimate in realpolitik. He showed his hand when he walked away from the arbitration hearing, betting correctly that there was no way he would beat the testimony of his closest confidantes.
Like an expert chess player losing pieces as strategically as possible to slow in the inexorable march to checkmate, Lance first lost the cycling world, then the triathlon and running worlds, then the sponsored spokesman world, and finally the queen on his chessboard, the chairmanship of Livestrong.
When Nike announced that Lance had misled them for over a decade, and that it believed he cheated to win, the game unofficially ended. Trek, HoneyStinger, Anheuser-Busch, Radio Shack all bravely reversed course after defending him to the bitter end. The only pawn left to mop up is Oakley. They’ll walk when he confesses or when the UCI strips or when they’re the last sponsor standing, whichever comes first.
The text of his confession
What’s most predictable is the text of his confession. He will admit to breaking the rules. He will admit to using performance enhancing drugs. He will apologize for having misled fans.
However, like Leipheimer and Hincapie, drug addicts whose entire careers were built on cheating, he will never admit that his actions were morally reprehensible. He will insist that he had no other choice. He will justify it with the oldest line of all: “If you weren’t there, you’ll never really understand it.”
He will never apologize for tearing down those who opposed him or who rightly tagged him as a drug cheat. He will never say he’s sorry for the damage he did to Emma O’Reilly, Betsy Andreu, Paul Kimmage, David Walsh, Greg Lemond, Tyler, Floyd, or any of the others he tarred as disgruntled liars, media hacks, serial perjurers, prostitutes, and worst of all, as ugly fat people.
There will absolutely be mention of his family, and of the difficulty he had in speaking about it with them. And there will be a brash, unrepentant sortie into the guns of his accusers with a bold statement about his real life’s work–curing cancer and helping those affected by it–and how nothing will ever stand in his way of fighting to achieve these things until his dying breath.
He will thank those who stood by him, without naming names due to their upcoming arbitration hearings and/or possibility of criminal proceedings in their home countries.
He will mention the doping culture in which he developed as a racer, without calling it a drug-crazed free-for-all that, at his apogee, he directed and ruthlessly managed for extraordinary personal and professional gain.
He will, if he’s the Lance of old, possibly issue a call to arms to clean up the sport once and for all, and name himself leader in the fight.
And if the captain’s Tecate is plentiful enough, he may even ask that those who so strenuously oppose doping take a hard look at all professional sports, and see if it’s any different from cycling.
He will reflect proudly on his victories.
He will make reference to the fact that without the drugs he would have won anyway.
And then he will tell everyone to get out of his way so that he can go fight some more cancer.
The end game
Lance’s dilemma is unique, because being branded a doper exposes him to significant litigation and because it chokes off the revenue from his nonathletic endeavors, which are vastly more important than his sporting income.
He knows all of this, and by now he’s simply reviewing the numbers. Mark Fabiani and Tim Herman have told him point-blank that it’s over, that no one who matters believes him anymore, and that soon, the people who matter least of all–the cancer patients, hobby triathletes, and Livestrong Kool-Aid freaks–won’t believe him, either.
“How much is my exposure to SCA?”
“Potentially ten million, without punitive damages. But there’s no guarantee you’ll lose at arbitration, and most importantly, that exposure is there whether you confess or not.”
“Payback to sponsors for breach of contract, fraud?”
“They won’t want the bad publicity of having blindly supported a drug cheat. Minimal risk, but, as with SCA, that exposure exists whether or not you confess.”
“Same. They’d have huge statute of limitations problems and would be open to equitable defenses like laches and unclean hands.”
“You’ll make less since you’re no longer the chairman. But you can still charge the foundation for appearances and the usual stuff. However, there’ll be less of it the longer you hold off on the confession. Nike’s statement that they’re dumping you but keeping Livestrong may be the way forward for a lot of people on the board, and you need to stop that before it starts. You do not want the organization to conclude that it doesn’t have to have Lance to thrive. The longer you deny, the more uncomfortable the foundation will become as people begin asking THE question: ‘What’s the board’s position on his drug use, and why is a career cheater sitting on the board?'”
“Bottom line: What’s my financial risk to confessing now versus confessing after the UCI strips me versus not confessing at all?”
“Confess now, earn a little goodwill, take the heat off your supporters who are having to defend you against popular opinion, facts, and common sense. Active damage control and repositioning can begin immediately. Levi and George are still getting love even within the cycling community and are being called ‘brave’ and ‘courageous.’ Confess after the UCI strips and you’ll look like a shotgun groom. Don’t confess at all and you’ll look like a sociopath. Your value will go to near-zero. You’ll be marginalized, then pushed off the board. And that last part may happen anyway.”
How can you be so sure, Wankmeister?
I’m sure because the only two alternatives don’t fit the facts or the history. The first alternative is that he will never admit the truth because he’s a sociopath in denial. This looks like a good fit at first until you understand that he’s trying to minimize damage. A sociopath such as Bruyneel or Ferrari would have fought the charges in arbitration.
The second alternative is that he’ll never confess because he’s principled. We saw how that played out when he copped to USADA’s claims by abandoning his right to arbitration.
Most importantly, doping in cycling at such an advanced level raises questions about other sports, and the involvement of Nike and the whispers regarding its having acted as the conduit to pay off the UCI’s cover-up of Lance’s positive test in the 1999 Tour mean that real journalists–the kind who rarely cover cycling–may take the same kind of vigorous approach to football, soccer, and track and field that Paul Kimmage took to Lance’s shenanigans.
In short, the most expedient thing for him to do is to stop the bleeding and reassure the world that this kind of stuff only happens in cycling.
And nowhere else.
You got that?
October 17, 2012 § 6 Comments
I knew the NPR was going to be a smashfest this morning when, before we’d done half a lap on the Parkway, someone groused “We’re going as fast as if it were January.”
But this isn’t about Prez’s amazing jam 400m from the line, or about Erik the Red’s devastating smackdown in the sprunt, or about Davy Dawg’s pain-laced wind-up, or about USC John’s bitchslap pull up to the bridge on the last lap.
Nope. It’s about the clash of the new kits.
Bull and I had just dropped down off the Hill, joining with G$ and Mighty Mouse as we pedaled from Redondo to Manhattan Beach. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, Roadchamp appeared.
“Check it out!” he said, maw gaping like a bass going after a worm.
“Check what out?” I asked.
“Teeth, dude! I got teeth!”
Indeed he did. The half-year process of ripping out his corroded teeth and nailing posts into his jaw was now complete. Roadchamp would no longer talk or look like a biker from a Red State. But Roadchamp’s new teeth weren’t the only new thing on the NPR.
Young bucks from Trojan U. model their new StageOne kit
Once we were joined by the mob on Pershing, one thing stood out: The kids from USC were sporting their new kit, just as the ride’s regulars had unveiled their new NPR kits the week before. Although both were stylishly designed by Joe Yule, it became obvious after a few pedal strokes that it would be a contest of fashion on today’s ride.
No quarter would be given as wearers of the new kits dared each other to outstyle the other. A flurry of NPR kit attacks came early, even as last-year’s-kit-wearers from Big Orange and SPY vainly tried to keep up with the torrid pace. With each powerful surge of the Euro-cool outfit, the pack got thinner.
On the second lap, after biding their time, the attractive USC kits made their move with a series of searing fashion attacks. John Tomlinson’s perfectly tailored fit, followed by Ben Rudolph’s snappy thigh panels, laid waste to the peloton. Even the USC wanker dude who always makes a valiant stab before getting clubbed like a baby seal was pushed far forward, almost to the front, by the natty design of his new outfit.
Sterno-O flails with the all-black get-up
Down from the goat shacks of New Mexico to enjoy some SoCal sunshine, Stern-O, the one and only Stern-O, the legendary Stern-O, the man, the myth, the goatshack refugee, Stern-O himself showed up for his inaugural NPR.
Twice, or in some cases three times the age of other riders, Stern-O immediately showed that even though he was older than the hills, older than dirt, older than DOS even, he wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out in the back. Pounding off the front a couple of times and never hesitating to test his legs in the wind, Stern-O embarrassed all the wankers who, after more than a year of NPR’s have never made it to the front one single time.
Unfortunately, his escapades were accomplished wearing an all-black kit, and this year’s cycling fashion ensemble, although heavy on the black, requires certain bright colors in order to really contend for the fashion sprunt.
The bitter fashion pace sheared away a chasing wankoton composed of riders wearing clothing from 2011, 2010, and the few hapless sods whose gloves and socks didn’t have the same logo. Phlegmy O’Donnell, who, in the morning rush, had put a Big Orange jersey over an SBW pair of bibs, was pushed into a curb and left for dead.
The one fashion design you never can beat
In the end, the NPR kits ruled the day, even though the official sprunt finish was taken by Erik in a very last-year SPY kit. Davy Dawg’s wind-up was greatly hampered by his last-season Ironfly ensemble, and Big Steve, fresh from major back surgery, simply couldn’t contend with the amazing design sensibilities expressed by the NPR kit.
Several riders could be seen banging their bars in frustration at the slowness of their clothing, and Gimpy Sloots went so far as to dial up his team’s designer after the finish. “Mostly black with a dash of color, you hear me, dogdammit!” he screamed into his dumbphone.
Even though the USC outfit rode strong, in the end all were vanquished by the one quality of the new NPR kits that blew away the field: Their incredible tummy and butt-slimming effect. Numerous NPR regulars who had heretofore been known as “Cadillac draft,” “Barn door,” “Vacuum party,” and “Dallas-sized Ass” appeared, simply by pulling on an NPR kit, to be svelte, narrow hipped, and 30 pounds lighter.
NPR riders who were already narrow across the gunwales looked Schleck-thin. Roadchamp was barred from donning an NPR kit because of the general fear that its slimming properties would make him disappear altogether.
Unfortunately, Joe has saved his most devastating fashion release for last: The 2013 SPY-Giant kit, recently modeled by MMX on Facebook. Possessing roughly double the thinning properties of the NPR kit, and splashed with just enough color to make it stand out in the crowd, this is the outfit that could lay fashion waste to the field for the entirety of 2013.
Tune in next Tuesday to find out how the Battle of the Bike Kits goes down!
October 16, 2012 § 16 Comments
My phone rang at 5:30 this morning. “Hello?”
“Hey, WM. Have you heard anything?”
“Who is this?”
“Thunky. Thunky Sneedles.”
“Oh, it’s you again. No, man, I haven’t heard anything since your last call two hours ago. It’s five-fucking-thirty, dude.”
“I just thought you’d maybe, you know, gotten some offers or something.”
“No, man. Crickets.” I’d agreed to act as Thunky’s agent in the off-season, and even though the trades had started in earnest, Thunky was still out in the cold, and he was nervous. “Look, let’s go over it again. I know you’re nervous, but you have to be patient. These things take time. When some of the bigger fish get their contracts, it’ll loosen up the purse strings for the domestiques like you.”
“But what if I don’t get an offer from anybody? What if I have to stay with Team D’oosh next year? My career’s too short for that, man. I’ve only got a couple of good years left, and I need to ride for a winner.”
“I know, I know. Nobody said being a professional masters racer was easy.”
“Fuck, ain’t that the truth.”
“Why are you so down on Team D’oosh? You fit right in.”
“They suck and their bro deal is so lame.”
“Really? Even with that bike and those five free kits and the travel reimbursements? And don’t they cut you in on the winnings even if you’re OTB?”
“Yeah, it sounds great. But it sucked this year. I mean, no one ever fucking wins. They suck. And the frame? It was the Specialized SL4 instead of their top of the line Venge. Charon gets the Venge on his team. How’m I supposed to take that dude on riding an SL4? It’s like bringing a full set of teeth to a dicksucking contest.”
“Are the bikes really that different?”
“Hell yeah. The Venge has this really cool paint option. It’s so fuckin’ rad.”
“Well, at least getting the whole $8,500 rig with Di2 on loan for a whole season and then swapping it out for a new one in ’13 saves you some money.”
“Dude! It’s not about the MONEY. It’s about the wins. You get the wins, the money flows. That’s how the pro scene works.”
“Even in the men’s 35+?”
“Well, what about the kits? That’s a grand right there, easy, free. You gotta be happy about that.”
“Those kits were so last year. The leg elastic band was at least 1/4 inch shorter than the pro stuff Paolinetti was wearing on Monster. Like I’m gonna take that guy on with short elastic bands? And the design was, like, puke.”
“I guess they screwed you pretty bad, huh?”
“I’ll say. The travel reimbursements only kicked in after you’d done five races. I fuckin’ told ‘em that I was gonna do a full schedule, but for me that’s four races, including our Team D’oosh club time trial in January. They have to understand that if you want results, you gotta be rested between races. Real rested. Recovery is just as important as training, prolly more so, even.”
“Look, Thunky. I’m gonna try to get you on Amgen this year. You’ll be a domo for Thurlow, Meeker, Brett, Strickie, Malcolm…the big boys. But you gotta bring something to the table. What do I tell them about you?”
“What do you tell them? Duuuuude! Aren’t you my agent? Fuckin’ tell ‘em about what we did this year! Tell ‘em how the race went down when Clunky Thunky brought the A-game and stuffed the clowns into the hurt locker! Tell ‘em that!”
“Ah, what race are you talking about, Thunks?”
“What race? San Dimas! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten San Dimas?”
“Was that the one where you launched off the road and hit that parked car? At, like three miles in or something?”
“You always gotta bring up the fuckin’ parked car. Fuck the parked car! Dude, I stretched the field like a teenage dick on its first handjob. Ask ‘em, man, any of those dudes’ll tell you about the Thunky Beatdown. Thurlow was there. Meeker was there. Worthingtons were there. Fuckin’ Leibert was beggin’ for mercy I had everybody on the rivet.”
“Okay, maybe I’ll remind them of that later, you know, like when we’re talking signing bonuses and stuff. What else happened in 2012?”
“I did that one 35+ race and laid the fuckin’ wood to Tintsman and Paolinetti.”
“Phil Tintsman? You? Really? That’s pretty awesome, cause those two guys are the real deal. Which race was it?”
“Hellz. It was at Ontario, I think. Maybe CBR. I attacked from the gun like always.”
“Then you got in a break with Phil and Jamie? Sweet!”
“Nah, I didn’t get in no fuckin’ break. I’m a sprinter kind of rouleur. You know, a puncheur climber type time trialist, all ’rounder with an emphasis on track and ‘cross.”
“So what happened?”
“It was like on the second or third lap. I was fuckin’ railin’ it, dude, 54-11, hittin’ the headwind section like a fuckin’ freight train. Field was comin’ apart at the seams, everybody strung out in the fuckin’ gutter, dudes frying off the back like fritters in a fryolator. Tintsman and Paolinetti were in the hurt locker. The pain cave. Beggin’ for fucking mercy, they were my bitches, dude. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.”
“I finished my solid half lap and then Tintsman and Paolinetti and Charon and a bunch of other dudes, I think Brauch and Wimberley, and you know, five or six other Monster dudes, and a few other guys rolled off in a break. There was like sixty of ‘em. No way we were bringing them back. But you can ask Tintsman, that shit wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t softened ‘em up.”
“Sixty dudes? In one break?”
“Yeah, man. It was fucking righteous. Me and Stimp Twitchers–you know him? Rides for Soft Longies, he’s a badass. Me and Stimp fuckin’ motored with the field on our wheel the rest of the race.”
“How many guys were left in the field?”
“About seven or eight. Coddles McGee, Woodenhead, Dorcas Johnson, Tubbs, you know. The dudes you can count on.”
“Okay, I’ll make the pitch for you. What should I tell them your goals are for 2013?”
“My goals? Do you even have to ask? Tell ‘em this: I’m comin’ for Charon if they can find me a Venge just like his. Black shorts, with the cool elastic thingy like Paolinetti and Tintsman have. And $10k in travel reimbursements. Up front, Jan. 1, like in the pros. And a cut of everything everyone wins, even if I have to miss the race because of my Saturday yoga class. And free massage sessions–and I pick the fuckin’ masseuse. Don’t give me some hairy dude named Jacques. I want a smoking babe who only works nekkid or in a thong. Happy ending for Thunky, you got that? And a 401k and a team car. That’s my starting offer. See what you can do from there.”
“And what can they expect in return?”
“I’m gonna take Charon down next year. I’m gonna ride Tintsman off my fuckin’ wheel. I’m gonna give Meeker a sprint clinic every fuckin’ weekend. You tell ‘em that, Wanky, and you tell ‘em Thunky sent you.”
The phone went dead.
A few minutes later it rang again.
“Yo, it’s me again. Any offers?”
“Not yet, buddy. But they’re comin’ any minute. Any minute.”
October 16, 2012 § 23 Comments
Ever since we relocated to apartment heaven atop the Hill of Death, I’ve commuted to work whenever possible. It’s usually possible.
With the late sunrise and global warming mornings, the day begins in blackness, the sharp beam jutting forth from my headlight, the panicky red flasher in the rear strobing at cars not to hit me as I roll out of the parking garage, pick up speed, turn left to get out of the driveway, then stand out of the saddle and pump sharp, quick, and hard to accelerate up the steep pavement before ejecting onto Highridge, downhill, immediately hitting 40 before the light at Hawthorne.
Those first few pumps today came at the expense of sluggish and tired legs from yesterday that had been put in the service of a ride to Carson, a 60-minute crit, then a return ride that took me up the Hill and over to the coast, and finally up the Hill again at Hawthorne, then what-the-hell-why-not Whitley Collins, and home.
I was tired.
Thankfully, it’s all downhill to the office, save for a minor bump or two in Redondo and Torrance. I cut out of the office at eleven and worked out for an hour at my new gym, then tacked on extra miles by avoiding VdM and instead taking Paseo del Mar, Hawthorne, a descent and re-climb up Calle de los Suenos, then Crest, Whitley-Collins, and home.
These were penance miles. I’d been a bad, bad boy.
Long fall from a tall wagon
I didn’t just fall off the wagon last Friday, I pushed the motherfucker off into a ravine filled with dynamite.
Two years and nine months of sobriety? Gone.
Two and a half months of disciplined dieting and weight loss and exercise? Flushed.
An entire day and night spent wallowing in alcohol, food, alcohol, food, food, dessert, coffee, alcohol, and more food? Followed by food? And alcohol?
That might have been me.
It’s all Mrs. Wankmeister’s fault
We had driven up to Monterey for the annual State Bar Convention. I was scheduled to give a presentation called “Social Media and Blogging: Don’t Put on the Net What You Don’t Want Your Colleagues to Know,” but they cancelled my session when the organizers vetted my Facebook page and blog postings and were predictably outraged.
So on Friday Mrs. WM and I strolled down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Like every place called “Fisherman’s Wharf,” there were no fishermen, only expensive trinkets at cheesy souvenir shops, and mercury-laden fish flown in from Chinese aquaculture farms.
But the weather was gorgeous. And even though romance wasn’t in the air (yet), there were a couple of fat barking seals humping each other on one of the pilings while giant brown pelicans shat enormous streams of bird poop onto the boats below.
“Let’s a you getta some beer,” she said.
“Honey, you know I don’t drink.”
“Why you wanna be a not drinker? Not drinkers onna boring old fartman.”
“I guess I can live with being a boring old fartman.”
“I ain’t a gonna care about you liking onna fartman. It’s me ain’t gonna liking on it. Jus’ get onna cold beer and I won’t tell onna your friends.”
“Oh, I don’t care what they think. I’m sober for myself. For my own sanity.”
“Why you gotta always make stupid decision and not changin’ it because your biker friends gonna call you a fartmaster? Jus’ have a cold beer and I’ll have a cold wine and a beer and a coupla tequila shots and some whiskey and then I’ll be ready to go out onna drinkin’.”
By now she had steered me into the bar, which was empty, and which had a wonderful view of the harbor, and before I knew it I was drinking a beer. And oh dog, did it taste good.
When the levee breaks
That first beer didn’t do it. I resisted the nearly overpowering urge to have another, and instead went out into the fresh air, marveling at how lucky I was to have enough will power to “just say ‘no.'” We went back to Alvarado Street and passed an empty restaurant called Alvarado Fish and Steak House.
I suppose it was empty because it was 4:30.
We sat down, and Mrs. WM opened with a dozen oysters. I called her dozen and raised her a plate of roasted garlic, antipasto, and several baskets of fresh bread with butter. She raised my bread and butter with olive oil and vinegar dip. I called the olive oil and threw down two more glasses of wine.
She eyed the wine, glancing over the rim, her steely eyes unflinching. “You raising me onna wine, eh?” she said. “Dat’s not onna problem, because I’m raisin’ you onna clam chowder.”
I saw her cup of clam chowder but at the last second raised it to a full-sized bowl. She countered with a house salad. I shifted on my hole card, feeling kind of heavy around the gut and light in the head. Double checking my hand by loosening my belt and undoing the top button, I went in with what I thought was an over-the-top bet: raised her house salad with a Caesar salad plus chicken breast on the side.
She laughed. “That all you got onna belly?” She waved the garkon over and doubled down with two more glasses of Wente chardonnay.
I was starting to crack, but couldn’t let her see it. In a bold move I grabbed the garkon’s elbow and went all in: “Hey, sonny. Give me the butter-broiled, nut encrusted jumbo filet of snapper with pasta and veggies on the side.”
“You onna jokin?” Mrs. WM said in clear disbelief.
I drove it home. “And toss in the garlic mashed potatoes.”
She held steady while the food piled up, occasionally bumping the pot with another glass of wine. I pushed away the final plate, three hours later. “Hunh,” she said. “Now we gonna play for real. Because I wanna dessert and coffee at that French kinda place.”
“The crepe shop?” I said in horror.
“Yeah, dat one.”
I waddle-staggered down the street, where the game continued. She raised me a nutella-strawberry-sugar crepe with butter and whipped cream. I countered with a mini-waffle smothered in syrup and blackberries, and raised her dessert crepe with a dinner crepe stuffed with sausage, cheese, onion, bell pepper, goat cheese, and sour cream.
“Gimme onna big coffee, please,” she asked the waiter.
“Me too. Make mine a double. With a fruit pastry on the side!” I hollered after him.
Then everything went black.
It’s a smaller wagon now
The Saturday morning wreckage was immense. It took all day to drive home, and I promptly hopped on my bike and rode around the Hill. I thought a lot about wagons, and falling off them.
I don’t know how it is for other people, but I need my routine, and my routine is badly shaken by travel, and fornicating seals, and pooping pelicans, and daredevil food betting games with a cagey Asian.
I’m three days back into my routine, though, and feeling great. Just gotta throw in a few more miles and a couple more climbs at the end of every commute to get back on the program.
October 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Although I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Monterey, it still seemed like the weekend was too short. There was lots of race action, and many of the SoCal locals were in the thick of things.
SoCal ‘Cross Prestige Series
Tiffany Meyers got 2nd in the B’s, not taking “No” for an answer, and moving ever closer to the top podium spot; also took top honors in the Cat 1/2/3 Urban Cyclocross race held on Sunday.
Dara Richman got 2nd in the C’s, despite not getting any beer or wine for her podium spot. An official complaint has been lodged with…someone…anyone…the dude with orange hair and the yellow lab, maybe? Also snagged 3rd in the Cat 3/4 Urban Cyclocross race on Sunday.
Emily Georgeson got 4th in the elite race, putting even more pressure (if such a thing is possible) on boyfriend Chris to deliver a smackdown in HIS ‘cross race.
Gareth Feldstein, Bako dude and all ’round hammer, got 6th in the men’s elite race.
Garnet Vertican, SPY-Giant rider, got 2nd in the 35+ A race, climbing up the leaderboard another notch.
David McNeal, another SPY-Giant stalwart, pulled down 4th, also in the 35+ A race, likely keeping himself at the top of the overall series.
John Hatchitt, SPY-Giant, represented with 6th in the 45+ A’s.
Jim Pappe, SPY-Giant, won top honors in the Urban Cyclocross race held in Palos Verdes Estates today.
Michael Norris also showed up and raced ‘cross, judging from the results. Whaaaaaat????? Good for you, Mike!
CBR Upgrade Crit
Chris Lotts put on another winter upgrade race for the wankers who couldn’t get the job done during the rest of the year, and local racer Marco Cubillos pulled out a hard-earned 3rd place in the 2/3 upgrade race, attacking with five laps to go and staying away for the rest of the race.
Wankmeister was all show, no go, getting 8th and not a single upgrade point, although rumor has it that Steven Lavery gave WM an illegal water handup midway through the race. I deny everything, and the absence of bottle cages on my bike is a mere coincidence.
The 40+ starters were immediately whittled down to less than twenty riders due to repeated attacks and the absence of a big, fat, safe, warm, nurturing peloton in which to suck wheel and wait for the sprunt. Numerous breaks went and were brought back, but the final one stuck. Great job, Marco.
On the ride home I ran into two British dudes stuck at the bottom of PV Drive going up from the reservoir. They’d changed a flat and flailed with three tubes, and were now trying to call a taxi. Anytime Wankmeister is your last hope for getting a good tire change, you know you are in trouble, but it was late in the afternoon and no one else was stopping, and they had “wanker” stamped all over them, so what the hell.
I got the dude’s tire changed, and it was an education for us both. For him on how to change a tire. For me, that there are people out there with 10k worth of bike and 3k worth of wheels who have no idea what to do when the tire goes flat. His buddy was equally worthless in the tire change department, as they’d pinched all three tubes.
The grateful dude offered to pay me, but I gave him The Lesson: “Don’t pay me, wanker. Pay it forward the next time you run across someone in difficulty.”