April’s fools

April 1, 2016 § 11 Comments

Our fools here in the South Bay are not limited to April. Every Thursday morning at 6:35 AM we do the Flog Ride, which consists of six loops around the Palos Verdes Golf Course and a finish on Via la Cuesta.

Each lap is very hilly, and the finish on Via la Cuesta is pretty steep.


Via la Cuesta, the cherry on top, at the top.

The ride is pretty foolish year-round because:

  1. It leaves really early.
  2. It is really hard.

I know that it is possible nowadays to quantify “hard” with watts and Strava and kilojoules and TSS’s and amperes and such, but those methods are sterile. The best way to quantify the ride’s difficulty is in human terms, which is to say that hardly anyone ever comes back to do it twice, and many of the best riders in the South Bay have never even done it once.

How hard is the Flog Ride? After the fourth lap yesterday one of the new riders dismounted in the regroup parking lot and began fiddling with his bike.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“I think my brakes have been rubbing,” he said. “I just can’t keep up.”

“It’s not your brakes that are rubbing on the rim,” I assured him. “It’s your lungs rubbing against your rib cage.”

At the Flog Ride, you can say with almost 100% certainty that when someone shows up to try it out, the rider will be a Reverse Terminator. He won’t be back.

The ride is only a year and seven months old, but two riders do keep coming back, and every week they have two goals:

  1. Don’t be last.
  2. Make it to the second turn with the group.

No dreams of beating the Wily Greek, no dreams of holding Destroyer’s wheel, no prayer of following Davy Dawg, no fantasy of ever even coming close to being first atop the climb, no goal of shattering the group on the puncher past the stop sign, no, none of that, just don’t be last and please, please, please dog let me make it the second turn before I get hammered, pounded, Mercury-in-retrograded into a quivering pile of gasping meat and flicked out the back.

But every week, with the precision of autocorrect, Michelle and Tom show up and get mercilessly vaporized. They are friends and teammates and good people, so we crush them.

Until yesterday. It was the last lap. We were all tired and dreading the final climb up Via la Cuesta. We made the first turn and Riddlebarger jumped away. Alan, a Big O teammate commuting to work who had jumped in with us, motored the tiny group into a tiny line. Michelle was second wheel and I was on her wheel.

Three riders launched at the stop sign but the group stayed intact. Atop la Cuesta, while the rest of us sat on the curb panting, Michelle and then Tom rode up. “We made it to the second turn!” she shouted, delirious with joy. Tom’s smile was bigger than a trophy bass’s.

“One and a half fucking years!” she said. “And we finally weren’t the caboose!”

We collected our lungs and got ready to descend to Redondo Beach for post-ride coffee and lies. “You coming?” Michelle asked Tom, who was standing on top of the hill, on top of the world, and gazing off into the distance, pleasure diffusing across his face.

“No,” he said. “I’m going to savor it.”



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