Wankmeister cycling clinic #14: Getting ready

October 5, 2012 § 6 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

Have you ever noticed how some people are always fucking getting ready? But they’re never ready. I got a buddy always wants to race but it’s like, not this weekend, I’m not quite ready and shit. What’s up with that?

Foot tappingly,
Ready Freddie

Dear Freddie:

One of the greatest blues heavies of all time did an album called “Getting Ready.” The irony is that Freddie King was already the fuck ready. He took another drag on the cigarette, stubbed it out in the ashtray, plugged in the fucking guitar and laid down some immortal fucking tracks.

“Getting ready” doesn’t mean waiting until you’re perfectly fit, on the upside of the power peak but not over it, at the ideal weight, have the right amount of base miles, completed enough training rides, logged enough hours going around the trees and hopping aboard without racking your nuts.

That shit’s not “getting ready.” It’s putting shit off because you’re a chickendick wanker. So tell your buddy to pay the entry fee, pin on a fucking number, and toe the line. “Almost ready” is “never.”

Impatiently,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve wanted to do bicycle racing all year. But I’m a triathlete. We sign up for stuff like a year in advance. Most of the bikers I know don’t decide if they’re going to do a race until the morning of, usually after checking the weather report or calling around to see who else is going. “Early planners” might make up their mind the night before. WTF?? I’m more methodical than that and need time to get ready physically and emotionally. Help!

Diffidently,
Theresa Trigal

Dear Trigal:

How long does it take you to whip off your underwear and straddle your man after a night of fine wine, fine dining, and a new pair of crotchless panties?

That’s how long it should take you to “physically and emotionally” be ready for a bike race.

About Tensecondsly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

Thorough preparation is key. It is highly irresponsible of you to suggest that people simply “line up and race.” Down that path lie injury and madness. Especially since your readers tend to be older, rash decisionmaking without a solid base of fundamentals is reckless. You should be ashamed. Preparation + Dedication = Readiness. Memorize the formula, please.

Instructionally,
Internet Coach Bill

Dear Internet:

Wankmeister is indeed ashamed, but it’s because of some indiscreet photos that are floating around on the Internet that purport to show me in a chicken suit butt chugging wine from a box. My readers are of all ages, and are already well down the path to madness. Racing their bike will only get them a tad more quickly to the money shot, which is explaining to friends and neighbors why they’re in traction after trying to do what the neighbors call “riding your bicycle and winning a prize.”

Don’t worry, though. Your scam where you bleed insecure wankers dry with exorbitant training plans over a multi-year period so that they can be “ready” for their first race is safe with me.

Conspiratorially,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve never done ‘cross, but it looks fun. I’ve actually never even done a normal bike race, but I borrowed a pal’s bike and rode it a couple of times up and down the driveway. Am I ready to enter the next race in the SoCal Cross Prestige Series?

Hopefully,
Freddie Fracture

Dear Freddie:

Yes.

In certitude,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m sorry but your philosphy is stuppid. If your not ready your not ready and the only way to know your ready is having everything be ready your fitness and bike and the right course etcetarra. Jumping in before the gun has cocked will get you a stitch or nine in no time.

Bucolically,
Helen Reddy

Dear Helen:

“Ready” never happens in bike racing, although I understand that in the country music business during the early part of your career every dude with $20 and a back seat did in fact get Reddy.

Something’s always all fucked up in bike racing. You’re sick, you’re fat, you’re a newbie, you’re creaky, the field is too fast, the course is too hilly or not hilly enough or too technical or too long or not good for a rouleurspruntertimetrialistclimber like you, your equipment sucks, whateverthefuck it is, you’re never ready.

General George B. McClellan wasn’t ready, either, when he marched his stupid fucking Army of the Republic around in circles while Robert E. Lee tore the Union a new asshole because even though he had the men, the materiele, the plans, and every military advantage known to mass killing, McClellan was missing the integral part.

A backbone.

Same with Hooker and all the other yahoos until Grant came along. Grant wasn’t ever fucking ready. He just whiskeyed up every morning and marched forward until he cleaned up the nasty nest of racist, slaving, buttfuck Southerners like a wasp’s nest going into the maw of an industrial ShopVac.

He didn’t slap down the rebellion because he was ready. He slapped it down because he moved his armies into position and started killing people.

There’s a message there for you somewhere. Go dig it out.

Metaphorically,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I once read that “ready” is the enemy of “do.” What does that mean?

Mystifiedly,
Stompy Nubbins

Dear Stompy:

It means you should quit preparing, which is just another word for “excusifying,” which probably isn’t even a word.

Come out for the race on Sunday. So what if you’re scared and unfit and wet behind the ears? So is half the fucking field.

What you’ll find out is what people find out the world over when they finally throw a leg over and roll out from the start line: You’re as ready now as you’ll ever be, and the corollary, you’re also as ready as you’ll ever need to be.

Sack up.

Aphoristically,
Wankmeister

On your Marckx!

October 4, 2012 Comments Off on On your Marckx!

Michael Marckx is one of the top 45+ cyclocross racers in the state. He also takes this shit way too seriously, which apparently is just the right amount. He gently encouraged me to give the sport a try, and I’ve almost forgiven him. Although we both started the same race this past weekend in Costa Mesa, he remained at the front, I at the back. What was it like up there? What really happened?

Rather than a narrative, I’ve bulleted it, as it was sort-of-but-not-really retold to me by him.

  • The season opener was held on dirt and grass in 90-degree weather. ‘Cross should be in some mud, grass, and should feature sand and a bridge, and it should be dreary, cold, rainy—typical fall weather in Belgium. So while waiting for Belgian weather to start up in SoCal, the race got underway.
  • Last year the 35+ and 45+ A races went off together. This let the leaders rail it, rather than making the old fucks start behind the young fucks and then spend the rest of the race trying get around them.
  • Last year, sending the categories off together ensured that the job of weeding through all the lapped flailers happened later in the race when it was all strung out and the leaders could navigate through the detritus of the field’s rear end one wanker at time.
  • When sent off at two-minute intervals, though, the faster old dudes had to filter through multiple clumps of flailers; dangerous on a narrow course like this one, and it artificially depressed the speed, letting slower riders who would otherwise be shelled rally back up towards the front.
  • The Costa Mesa half-grass/half-BMX track served as the season opener, replete with jumps, whoops, a dangerous downhill sand section, a clogged run-up, and single track that made passing impossible. This was hardly a real ‘cross course, and one that catered to racers with experience racing dirt bikes. It was a course for them to lose.
  • At the start, someone had already pushed the dysfunctional chaos button. “Chaos precedes great changes,” so the saying goes, but also precedes great clusterfucks. Behind schedule. Revised schedule. Not enough timing chips. There was a deep field of riders, both 35+ and 45+. In the 45’s there were multiple state champions including Lance Voyles, Jim Pappe, Mike McMahon, and Johnny Dalton, just to name a few.
  • Jeff Sanford, a guy with a strong moto background, lined up fit and ready to rumble. Victor Sheldon was also racing in 45+ A’s this year instead of sandbagging in the B’s. Victor had spent all summer racing his MTB and was in the best form of his bike racing career. With his moto background, he joined Sanford as the other favorite.
  • The series promoter changed things up on the starting line, opting to let the 35’s go in front of the 45’s. This became a huge factor, as the old dudes, on the whole, are faster than the 35’s, meaning the 45 leaders would eventually have to thread the needle through the anus of the 35’s on a course as wide at times as a string bean.
  • The 45’s finally took off, sprinted the first turn, settled into a line for the next two right turns and entered the dirt with Voyles, Sanford, MMX, and McMahon in the lead while Anderson, Hatchitt, Pappe, Sheldon, Stephenson and the rest chased.
  • The BMX section was a breeze for Sanford, so the power section of the grass was the only place MMX could do any damage. Unfortunately, his whole game plan was about to change.
  • On the second lap they hit the crazy downhill sand section and its chicanes at the bottom, which then led to the dismount and run-up. Sanford neatly scooted around an entire gaggle of flailing 35’s, with the leading 45’s now gapped by Sanford and at a standstill as the 35’s fumbled their way through the chicanes and run-up, blocking the course like a clogged artery.
  • Behind the wall of wankers, Sanford made good his escape. MMX then got taken out by a knucklehead (this happens a lot in ‘cross, apparently), and broke his right pedal. Now Voyles had passed him along with an entire group of 35/45 riders. MMX settled into the awkward motion of pedaling with his heel for the rest of the race, at a disadvantage throughout the numerous sections where the riders were airborne or close to it.
  • Anderson and Sheldon rejoined to make a SPY-GIANT threesome, along with Voyles. Sanford was gone with the wind, while the chasers ripped through the body parts and dangling participles of the wretched shellees.
  • Anderson put in a monstrous two-lap tow, with Voyles in the easy chair while SPY did his work for him. Who said there’s no hiding in ‘cross? Oh…MMX did.
  • Anderson sat up, and Sheldon attacked, leaving Voyles with the devil’s dilemma of towing the other two riders up to their teammate or watching second place ride up the road. On the dirt section, Sheldon was in his element, and he tightened the screws.
  • The chasers slowly pedaled away from the hapless finishers littering the course like bodies after an “Over the top!” trench charge in WW I. MMX capped off his race on the last 180-degree turn by sliding out and crashing, giving the hecklers plenty to laugh and heckle about in between swizzles and swozzles on their beer nozzles.
  • McMahon finished 30 seconds behind MMX, followed by SPY rider Hatchitt, and the rest of the field trickled in looking even sorrier than they’d placed. SPY rider Wankmeister held the distinction of being the only rider to actually be lapped by everyone at least once, including the nice old lady in the lawn chair drinking tequila shots.
  • Pappe had a mechanical and DNF’ed; otherwise he would certainly have had a strong race. SPY had three of the top five spots and four of the top seven. In the 35’s, SPY missed a 1-2 finish when Ryan Dahl rolled a tire.

That’s pretty much it. I know because I was there, even though I wasn’t really, you know, “there.” Tune in next week for Round 2.

Let’s get tinyful

October 3, 2012 § 10 Comments

Junkyard and I were pedaling back from the NPR this morning, comparing manorexic dieting notes.

“Down three in three weeks,” he said.

“That’s awesome.”

“Slow and steady.”

“That’s what works.”

“I’ve whacked out all bread and milk products.”

“Whaaaaaaat?”

“You have no idea. Me and pastry, we’re like, man…” His eyes wandered off into the distance in a happy, loving trance as he envisioned chocolate croissants made of infinitely thin layers of buttery, hand-kneaded pastry dough.

“With the first ten pounds you can pick the low hanging fruit,” I said.

“Yep. That’s pastries and yoghurt and bread. What was yours?”

“Trader Joe’s extra heavy thick double arterial clotting whipping cream. Put that shit on everything. Coffee. Fruit. Black tea. Salad. Gyoza.”

“Heavy whipping cream on gyoza? Gross.”

“That was my other low hanging fruit. Gyoza. Mrs. WM would fry up four skillets-worth of those little boogers, sop ’em in vinegar, soy sauce, raiyu, and garlic, and I’d go to town. Hell, between the gyoza and the cream, that was ten pounds the first week.”

“Yeah, I bet.”

“But the hard part’s coming.”

“How’s that?”

“After the low-danglers, each pound is a zillion times harder to lose than the one before it.”

“Hmmm. Kind of like when you start getting fit.”

“How’s that?”

“Going from flubbery sloth to your first century, you know, that’s a huge performance gain in a short time, right?”

“Right.”

“But once you’re race fit, those last few watts are exponentially harder to come up with.”

“You’ve got a point.”

“Hell, yeah. Intervals. Monastic celibacy. One beer per trimester. Over the course of a year, that’s maybe ten watts. If you’re lucky. What are you at now?”

“I bottomed out at 148, but am back up to 154. Fried shrimp for dinner last night, enchiladas with guac and beans and rice on the menu tonight, will be pushing 158 by the weekend. New Girl caught me eating a scone after NPR this morning and called me out in front of everyone sitting on the bricks. ‘Wanky’s getting fa-a-t, Wanky’s getting fa-a-at.’ Dangit.”

“No plans to get back down to the 140’s?”

“Plans, sure. But it’s not looking good. What about you?”

“A few years ago I hit 135.”

“Yeah, and a few years ago I had all my hair and most of my original teeth. But now?”

“Maybe crack the 140’s. That would be nice. I think I can do it if I just up the mileage.”

“That won’t help.”

“Why not?”

“‘Cause if it were just a matter of upping the mileage, Thomas Dekker would be in fighting trim for next year’s Tour. As it is, he’s already whining in CyclingNooz about needing to lose five more pounds, and the dude’s almost 6-2, weighs 154, and he trains 600 miles a week. So what hope is there for you?”

“Riding more won’t cut it, huh?”

“No. The only thing that will cut it is eating less. Which you can’t really do, because you’ve already cut out the low-danglers. Shit that’s left is the real food.”

“Man, I’m munching on stuff all day. It’s all healthy, low cal stuff, though. Organic oatmeal blossoms fertilized by free-range goat turds. Coconut water filtrated with reverse osmosis purified carbon filters. Special oxygen tanks filled with air from the Himalayas. Sugar-free sucrose, even.”

“Yeah, you’re hosed. You can’t lose weight by eating.”

“But it’s all healthy!”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t. I just said you can’t lose weight by eating. With the dark and awful place you’re trying to reach, the only path is cutting back. Living with the hunger. The wretched hunger.”

“You’re pretty fucked up, dude.”

At that very moment we were passing by Fukdude’s house. “Hey, let’s see what Fukdude’s up to.”

Fukdude was parked in front of his computer, surrounded by fourteen bikes, two stacks of C++ and .NET programming manuals, a home gym pull-up bar rig, and an upper spine-neck traction rig. “Hey, dudes, what’s up? You dudes want to buy some old programming manuals?”

“I’ll pass,” I said.

“Trying to quit,” said Junkyard.

“What’s with the neck traction rig?” I asked.

“Fuck, dude, I’m selling it on eBay.”

“You break your neck?”

“Fuck no. I had it hooked up to the ceiling and secured to my chin with this cup-holder deal, then filled this bag with 40 pounds of water and suspended it from a rope through that pulley there.” He pointed to a pulley that had been screwed into the ceiling.

“Jesus,” I said. “What’s it for?”

“Aw fuck, dude, I was having neck pains. Got it at Save Rite Drugs on a clearance sale. It was rad except for you had to perch on the edge of your chair and not move when you’re typing. You fucking move it’ll shift the weight hanging off the rope and jerk you off the chair by your chin, fucking hang you to death. Fucking rad way to die, dude.”

“Did it work?”

“Fuck no it didn’t work. Why do you think I’m selling it?”

“Did it at least help?”

“Fuck no. I was working a couple days ago and the fucking bag sprung a leak. Forty pounds of fucking water on my servers, and suddenly the weight goes to zero and I’m fucking falling backwards off the chair with my chin hooked up to a rope on the ceiling. Fucking fell against that stack of programming books, kept me from hitting the floor. Fucking saved my life, dude, but one of the books flopped down and sheared off that new SRAM rear derailleur. Fucking shit’s expensive dude. Cheaper than a funeral, though. Had to get new servers, too. Sell you the neck rig and the books, and throw in a reconditioned derailleur for $250.”

“Can’t, man. I’m broke.”

Junkyard nodded. “Me, too.”

“So what’s up?”

“We were just talking about losing weight.”

“Aw fuck, dude, you don’t need to lose weight. Why you want to lose weight for? You already look sick. And I mean that in a bad way. Terrible way, actually.”

“Trying to up my power-to-weight ratio.”

“Fuck dude, you need to up your suckitup-to-whinyquitter ratio. You can’t fucking win bike races when all’s you do is give up. Why not just eat an extra tub of ice cream and deal with it? You suck. No one gives a fuck. Life’s too fucking short to be fucking passing on the baked donuts just so you can go from last to third-from-last.”

“I’ve got plans for next year,” I muttered.

“Fuck dude, plans for what? You can’t even beat Jules on the Switchbacks. He’s thirteen, dude. You’re almost fifty. In dog years, that’s like 300.”

He was making a lot of sense. “But I’m working out at the gym, too.”

“Gym? You? What the fuck for? Nobody ever won a fucking bike race at the gym. Gyms are for people who can’t race. Go push around a bunch of fucking steel plates and think you’re getting somewhere, while the break rolls up the fucking road. ‘But I got a six-pack!’ Dude, no one gives a shit. Eat the fucking donuts. Want a beer?”

“It’s nine a.m.”

“So? You’ll lose your next race whether you start drinking now, start drinking after dinner, or don’t drink anything at all, ever, until you die.”

“I think he’s right,” Junkyard offered. “And he does kind of know what he’s talking about.”

Fukdude had just won the national masters scratch race championships, and the previous weekend had beaten a stacked field in the masters points race, after which he did an 80-lap madison with several US Olympic team members racing, and managed not to finish dead last.

“Maybe I will have a donut, if you’ve got any,” I said. “But just one.”

Fukdude laughed. “I don’t have any fucking donuts, dude. I’m on a diet. Jules beat me on the Switchbacks on Saturday. Gotta up my power-to-weight.”

I think she hates me

October 2, 2012 § 54 Comments

I often forget how many people hate me because I ride a bike.

They are, however, everywhere. They don’t mind hurting or killing cyclists who get in their way. To these people, bicyclists deserve whatever awful thing happens to them. It’s the deserved price bicyclists pay for taking up space on the road.

One such hater is Cher. Worth an estimated $600 million, and one of the most successful female recording artists of all time, she belongs to the vocal Hollywood celebrirati who passionately and aggressively promote their political views.

Despite this noble pedigree, I think she hates me, per the song.

Cher believes that cyclists don’t belong on Pacific Coast Highway, or at least the part of it that runs by her house. In her words, she hates them. They are “FKRS.” They live in a different universe. They are dangerous, and their act of riding bicycles is akin to Russian roulette.

Of course, it’s okay for the front of her house, which faces the ocean, to be constantly blocked with cars and service vehicles so that cyclists have to leave the relative safety of the shoulder and get out into the lane. And naturally, it’s okay for her to tweet and text and talk and drive.

Her sentiments are not restricted to the domain of a few rich celebrities. Read the comments in this thread, if you can. It will remind you that your life is worthless, and that you are more contemptible than an Escalade.

If you think this ersatz liberal cares about you and your bike, think again. Because, you know, “She’s got you, babe.” In her gunsights.

cher_tweets1

Why Cher matters

So it’s easy enough to write off, right? Just another super rich person telling everyone else to fuck off, kind of like a presidential campaign.

Except that, you know, it’s really not. Terence Connor, drummer for a Brooklyn band, died this morning in a hit and run accident while riding his bike. Whatever universe he was in, he’s in a different one now. As Cher might say, he played Russian roulette and lost.

A tad closer to home, Scott Folck was struck and killed by a motorist while riding early in the morning in San Diego County. Scott was 35, and as they say, he left behind a wife and two young children. As Cher might say, “Sic of these IDIOTS!”

Sara Leaf, age 29, was run over and killed by a stake-bed truck driver who turned right onto her a couple of weeks ago in Newport Beach. Oops. Cher might want to add “Cannot say enough about these Insane fks!”

Dr. Catherine Ritz, 57, an esteemed physician also from Newport Beach, was killed by a hit and run driver on September 15, the same weekend as Sara Leaf. She was recognized in her community for having treated thousands, yes thousands, of patients over the course of a distinguished career dedicated to helping the sick. In the words of Cher, “I HATE THEM!”

Two days ago, an unidentified cyclist was seriously injured, again by a hit and run driver in San Diego. Police are searching for the driver, whose license plate was identified by witnesses. Sometimes when you run over a human being, you know, you just keep going. It might have been a curb. To quote Cher, “omg Urrr! Yuck.”

And the list goes on and on and on, throughout the country, this country, where people in cars hate people on bicycles for being on bicycles, hate them so much that they kill them. Omg. Urrr! Yuck.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

END

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Enter the Dragged On

October 1, 2012 § 11 Comments

“I’m really sorry, dude,” he said with an extremely apologetic and embarrassed tone of voice.

I looked at his sincere expression and was impressed with how badly he obviously felt. He was a young fellow, clearly nonplussed at the mix-up, and his first instinct was to do the right thing and apologize. I took all that into account, and with a polite nod I accepted his words in the spirit they were offered. Then I said, “Get off me you stupid fucktard,” and pushed him backwards by the throat.

With the other hand I shoved his chest, even as the cascade of idiots kept piling atop us, screaming, cursing, skidding, and clumping like a spaghetti bowl of arms, legs, helmets, bikes, cranks, chains, and wheels in a grimy sauce of sand.

First ‘cross race ever.

First lap.

First technical spot on the course.

And mowed down from the rear like fresh meat in a men’s prison.

Yesterday, Karma Bitch was just getting warmed up

I banged on the bars to straighten them, put the chain on, got the brakes working, and hopped on my bike. The last of the idiots from my Sub-wanker Cat 4 “C” group had just started to scale the sand wall at the end of the sand pit.

After a few pedal strokes I saw that the front derailleur no longer worked. At the bottom of the wall I dismounted, and this occurred to me: “What kind of fucking bike ride is it where you have to get off and scale a wall made of loose sand?”

I struggled up the sand wall, and this occurred to me: “What kind of fucking bike ride is it where you have to carry your bike while running uphill in loose sand?”

I tried to remount, smashed my shin against the pedal and racked my nuts on the sharp end of the saddle (MMX had warned me against trying the jump-remount technique), and this occurred to me: “What kind of fucking bike ride is it where you bloody your shins and bust your balls on the saddle?”

Then I tuned in to the fat bald guy at the top of the wall who was screaming so hard that his pale skull throbbed with purple, swollen veins, “Puke and spit ’til you shit blood, goddammit! Puke and spit! Catch those bastards! Puke and spit!”

Next to him was an even crazier fellow who was profoundly drunk even though we’d yet to crack the hour of eleven a.m. This gentleman had a giant black megaphone and it was stuck between his legs from the rear so that it looked like it was coming out of his ass. He had bent forward and, with his head between his knees, was mouthing huge farting sounds into the megaphone.

This occurred to me: “What kind of fucking bike ride is it where you’re exhorted to puke and spit and shit blood and be faux farted on by drunks?”

The answer occurred to me, finally: “It is cyclocross.” And the race wasn’t yet five minutes old.

Success in ‘cross is nine parts preparation, one part Preparation H

I had arrived early and ridden two laps around the course. Set in the middle of a dustbowl in Costa Mesa that serves as as BMX track and breeding ground for thorns, the racecourse started with a few turns in dirt and then went through the massive sandbox, up the wall, over a cement sidewalk lip that hit your rim so hard and so deep that your skull felt like it would rattle off your neckbone, through more dirt, up and over a tight mogul that accelerated into an off-camber mogul with a tiny chute off to the left that if you missed put you in the thorns but if you nailed tried to throw you over the bars, then along more dirt to a jerk-up dirt mound also with a narrow chute that you could either nail and coast over or miss and stall out on the steep top of the mound, and then sharply down into a high-speed right with more thorns and loose sand, a brief respite of more dirt and dust along a flat section, and then into the BMX bowl with a quick drop and climb, then down a head-first elevator drop, up along the edge, 180-degree pivot and down a second elevator shaft, around a couple of turns, and a fast drop and straightaway until you hit the grass, which was partly muddy, wending past trees that all shouted “Hit me!” and through more soggy shit and around a turn and then what-the-fuck-is-this-here where someone had placed a couple of barricades and you had to jump off and either time it perfectly or rack your shins and have the people behind you run you over, and of course there are tons of people camped out next to the barricades to watch you trip and hopefully hang your bike on the lip of the barricade so that you bellyflop into the mud, and then remount from a standstill if you’ve fucked it up while the gazelles leaped back on their saddles without ever breaking stride or spearing themselves in the balls, through more grass and sharp turns and bingo–you’ve completed one fucking lap and felt like you’d run a Paul Ryan marathon with ankleweights, all the while people calling you a slacker and a sub-wanker and ringing cowbells and laughing and enjoying the shit out of watching you dis-enjoy the shit out of riding your bike with only four or five or a thousand more laps to go.

This all seemed impossible at recon speed. Once the whistle blew it was ten times faster and a thousand times worse.

Taking Karma Bitch head-on

The rest of the race was as advertised: sheer dick-stomping agony at threshold, with trees, barriers, sand, moguls, drop-offs, and briar patches at every turn. My swollen and bruised ankle banged against the crank arm every few pedal strokes until it was a bloody, throbbing mess of flesh and pink sock and pain. I chased and passed wanker after wanker, but never caught the leaders, and never so much as caught sight of Jules, who had done on the ‘cross course what he does on the Switchbacks: Show up, nod, and ride the fuck off.

After what seemed like days I saw Hines on the sidelines and shouted out, “How many laps?”

“This is it!” he said.

I sliced through a few more turns, crossed the finish line, and left the course filthy, bleeding, drained, sore, gasping, and DNF’ed as my placing never showed up on the Sub-wanker Cat 4 result sheet which was posted, appropriately, on the back of the port-o-potties.

Five minutes later I was on the start line for the 45+ A race, which was easily the second toughest field of the day, sporting hammerheads like MMX, David Anderson, Victor Sheldon, John Hatchitt, and a sprinkling of other veteran badasses. MMX had summed it up when I told him I was doing the 45+ A’s immediately after the Sub-wanker race.

“Oh,” he said. “So you’ll be completely gassed before the race even starts.”

Victor helped get my chain onto the big ring, as I’d ridden the previous race in the small one. It’s nice to start your race knowing you’ll do the whole thing in the big ring, and having your fingers covered in black grease-and-sand tar.

The whistle blew and everyone rolled away. In the BMX bowl a kindly spectator shouted out, “Yo, Wanky! You’re dead fucking last! Do you hear me? DEAD FUCKING LAST! Get your ass up there!”

So I hammered until I caught the one gasping, gaffed fish who was dangling ahead, passed him, and, no longer last, set the needle at “cruise” for the rest of the race. I got passed by the 35+ B racers. Then the 45+ B racers. Then a pack of kids. Then a flock of starlings. Then by an empty oil drum. And finally by Jules. “What’s he doing out here again?” I wondered. “He’s already raced and won three times today. Isn’t it his bedtime?”

When MMX and the leaders lapped me, I was enjoying myself thoroughly. No longer compelled to dash crazily over the barriers, I daintily dismounted, stepped over each one, dusted the crud off my shoes, and remounted. No longer afraid of the sand pit, I coasted easily through it and walked–yes, walked–at a leisurely pace up the wall. Bald Dude and Farter looked on in disgust. “Aren’t you even gonna TRY?” asked Bald Dude.

“Yep,” I answered with a smile. “But not any more today.”

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