Let’s try a new position, honey

March 14, 2015 § 12 Comments

The riders dribbled up to the Manhattan Beach Pier for the start of the Chief’s sixtieth birthday ride. “Hey, how’s your knee?” asked T-Dub.

“Oh, I’m getting it operated on next Thursday. Yours?” Iron Mike’s joints weren’t quite so ferrous anymore.

“Got a tear in my meniscus. Doc says it’s too small to operate on but big enough to give me trouble. Like having a hole in the carpet.”

A couple of other riders horned in on the conversation. “Yep, I threw out my prostate carrying a load of firewood,” one offered.

“And my neck … ” said another rider.

As soon as he said the word “neck” everyone began comparing their neck problems, the neck problems of people who weren’t there, and the names of the best neck surgeons in West L.A. I’d never seen a group of people more animated, and SB Baby Seal, the only guy there who was in his 20’s, listened in on the organ recital with a raised eyebrow.

It reminded me of how rides used to start, back in that mythical day. We’d talk about who had gotten laid the night before, who was on track to get laid tonight, and would compare the various sex acts, their number and quantity, the skills of the partners, and whether or not the associated quantity and type of drugs and alcohol had rendered the whole thing a fuzzy memory or not.

And the few times that we weren’t talking about sex, we were talking about bike racing, which in many respects was very similar.

I certainly don’t remember ever sitting around talking about neck specialists, but then again, this was my first ever #60 birthday celebration ride. When I started riding, I didn’t even know anyone who was sixty except for my granddad, and he didn’t ride a bike, he drove a Buick.

Still, after listening to the litany of neck problems, I realized that lots of people do have a ton of pain and discomfort when they cycle. Part of it is probably because they are old, and part of it is probably because they are fat, but another big part of bike pain is also related to position. Let’s face it, it’s pretty unnatural to sit hunched over with your neck jutting out for hours at a time.

The first step to getting a handle on your achy proscenium is of course getting a pro fit. I got a super fit from Dialed In Bike Fitting three years ago, and although the fit took me out of my 1980’s super-stretch duck paddle position, it didn’t take care of my aches and pains because I’ve never had any. I think one of the reasons I don’t have aches when I ride is because I don’t really have one position. I’m always shifting around, and instead of looking for a “perfect position,” during the ride I’m always fiddling with where I put my hands and my ass.

From an aesthetic standpoint this means that I look spastic when I pedal. But from a pain perspective it means I have none. Zero. Zip. And that’s after 33 years of riding 10,000 miles a year, sometimes a lot more.

So here are the position changes that I really think help make a difference if you’re doing them constantly.

  1. Tops to drops: Regularly move your hands from the tops to the drops. This bends your back and shifts everything at once.
  2. Hood dance: Regularly get off your saddle and climb with your hands on the hoods.
  3. Drop dance: Climb with your hands on the drops.
  4. Extended dance: Climb out of the saddle, shifting hand positions, for 10-20 minutes at a time.
  5. Look Ma, no hands: Sit up occasionally and ride with your hands off the bars.
  6. Shake your booty: Slide your ass forward and backwards on the saddle.
  7. Body stiff: When you’re climbing out of the saddle, try to keep your body as motionless as possible.
  8. Body swing: When you’re climbing out of the saddle, try to swing your body from side to side.
  9. Supergrip: Grip your bars as tightly as you can, then relax. Especially do this when climbing, and vary it from the tops to the hoods to the drops.

Will any of this help? I don’t know; it seems to help me. And at the very least, you’ll look like you’re having a seizure when you ride. So, as Knoll would say, “There’s that.”

END

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Craft water update

February 3, 2015 § 40 Comments

I didn’t ride my bike yesterday, I didn’t ride my bike today, I’m not going to ride it tomorrow or Thursday, and Friday is looking iffy. You’d be amazed at how hard it is to make stuff up in the absence of facts.

Instead, I thought I would do a little “craft water update” to share my perspective on what the last couple of beer-free months have been like.

  1. Has it helped my bike racing? No.
  2. Has it helped me lose weight? In the beginning, yes, because beer seems to spawn pizzas and cheese nachos, along with wings and fries. But beer also helps you lose weight because you drink so much you pass out, and it’s hard to get fat when you’re unconscious. In the short term I dropped about ten pounds, but now the net loss is only about four.
  3. Is my life better? It’s different. With beer my life was fun. Raging, awesome fun. Every waking hour was a fun opportunity, even 10:00 AM on a weekday. Nothing is as fun as being drunk. So my life is a lot less fun now because the best evening spent reading a good book doesn’t begin to compare with shouting and carrying on like a fool in a noisy bar with a bunch of equally drunken friends. Or strangers.
  4. Are you happier? No. But I’m a lot less miserable. In fact, I’m not miserable at all. With beer I was super happy until the non-beer moments kicked in. Then I was sad. And there were a ton more non-beer moments than beer moments, even though I tried hard to max out the beer ones.
  5. Are the people around you happier? Big 10-4 on that, good buddy. It’s amazing how happy Mrs. WM is at not having to carry me out of family restaurants.
  6. Is your work better? Off the charts. Got my mojo back on that shit.
  7. Do you sleep better? Technically, yes, but practically, no, because now even though I sleep deeply, since I’m not drunk I’m easily awakened by the chainsaw sleeping next to me in bed sawing down an old-growth forest every ten seconds.
  8. Do you crave beer? Yes. Each day is about 16-17 waking hours locked in the crave cave.
  9. Have your friends and family supported you? Yes. Without them I’d be back in the gutter.
  10. What’s the biggest change? Not ever being able to shut off the switch and having to just fuggin’ cope with the torrent.
  11. What was the biggest shock? Physical withdrawal followed by six weeks of profound depression. If I ever doubted that I was an alcoholic, I don’t doubt it now.
  12. What was the most pleasant surprise? That those two things ended. And when they did, the following day felt like one of those mornings when you wake up and there’s been a big rain. Everything is so fresh and clean and pure. Until I wanted a Racer 5 ten seconds later.
  13. How have people reacted? Overwhelmingly supportive, a handful not so much. But what has blown me away the most is finding out how many people are also hopeless drunks battling for their emotional and physical lives every single day. They’re all around me. Some have reached out because they’re sober and want to help, but more incredibly, some have reached out to me for help. I would do anything for them, although it’s pretty much like the blind leading the blind.
  14. Are you in AA? No and yes. I’ve never been to a meeting, but I benefit all the time from the wisdom and support of fellow alcoholics. And I’m in AA in this sense — I’ve vowed to myself that the next time alcohol crosses my lips, I’m headed straight there. And if that fails, I’m checking into rehab.
  15. Better sex life? You’ll have to check in with Mrs. WM on that one. On second thought, don’t.
  16. How many days since your last drink? I don’t know and don’t fuggin’ care. This isn’t a hitting streak, it’s an attempt not to be drinking at this moment. That’s all that matters to me.
  17. Any tips? Best way to start stopping is to announce it, even if it’s just to the person who talks back to you in the mirror every morning.
  18. And staying stopped? No idea. Maybe check to see if there’s a drink in your hand, and if there is, toss it?
  19. Do you see drinking and drinkers differently? Yes. I used to be one of them. Now I’m just green with envy.
  20. Is it hard being around alcohol? Yup.
  21. Has it been worth it? Saved my marriage. Saved my family. Saved my job. Saved my life. So if I could add to that another win in a bike race, the answer would be a resounding “Probably.”

END

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A little help from my friends

December 29, 2014 § 58 Comments

Since swearing off beer I’ve gotten a handful of messages and emails from friends who are also struggling with alcoholism. It occurred to me that I’m not the only one trying to find the season’s “merry and bright” while simultaneously fighting off the urge to get shit-faced drunk. Cycling has its share of alcoholics, and although I first thought that it was related to the intense, addictive quality of biking, the more I look around the more it seems like the world is chock full of drunks. My cycling friends are just more open about it.

The worst part has been the physical and emotional withdrawal, or that’s how it seemed, when going cold turkey plunged me into depression combined with intense craving. However, after three weeks of that hell, a good friend who’s been successfully fighting addiction for 25 years told me that that the hardest part isn’t quitting, it’s “staying quit.” How right he was.

The best part has been people reaching out. There are lots of recovering alcoholics out there, and it didn’t take me more than a few days to realize that “one day at a time” wasn’t going to cut it for me. In my case a day is waaaaay to long. Half a day at a time? One morning at a time? Nope, and nope. I’ve refined to something much more immediate: “I’m not having a drink now.”

I’ve also beefed it up with a promise to myself. Although I’m trying to quit outside of organizational help, the minute a taste of alcohol crosses my lips, I’m heading straight to AA. In other words, this is the first step, and it’s likely to fail, so I’ve got a Plan B.

Of course the only thing that really matters with regard to sobriety is this: “Has it helped your cycling?” In my case, no, but that’s because a lifetime of data has conclusively shown that nothing will ever help my cycling. Perhaps a better question might be, “Is your cycling any different as a result?” and the answer to that is “Definitely.”

First, I’ve lost three pounds. These are real pounds, not water goop loss. This has affected my cycling because my jerseys don’t make my tummy pooch out as much as they used to. It’s nice to think that over time, abstinence may help me go from looking like a reasonably malnourished person to one suffering from disease.

Second, when I need to run down to the bike shop in the evening — that’s any time after about 3:00 PM — I can, because I don’t have to worry about getting a DUI. It’s nice not being homebound at age 51!

Third, I’ve been able to shift beer money into cycling purchases. For the first time ever I’m riding full carbon wheels. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!

Last, and most importantly, I’m engaging in dialogue with fellow cyclists who are at different points along the same path. Some have offered guidance and let me know that whatever I need, whenever I need it, they’re going to be there for me. Others have asked for help, which is tough because I don’t have much in the way of answers except this: We’re going through the same thing, and to succeed you’ll need people around you to help you succeed. Flipping this switch from the inside, and keeping it flipped by myself, is too hard … at least for me.

Over the next few days the New Year merriment will be beckoning, and as I’m fond of telling myself, I may well have a drink. Maybe you will, too. But hopefully not right now.

END

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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 9: Holiday Dieting

December 28, 2014 § 14 Comments

The New Year is almost here so now is the time to focus on resolutions you will keep for three days before reverting to your normal slug-like self and bad behaviors.

Let’s start with dieting because if you race bikes, let’s face it, you’re too fat. The rest of the population considers you slim and fit and wishes they could fit into your jeans — with or without you still in them — but since El Dopalero has to shed that final, magical 2kg before the Tour (he already weighs 27kg after the Dauphine and his cheekbones are poking through his skin), then you must slim down, too. So let’s get skinnyful.

The Family Fight Diet

Research now suggests that eating at home is the best way to lose weight. Eating at home engenders better food choices. For example, when you are standing in line at Five Guys Burgers and Lard after finishing a 150-mile beatdown, it is likely that you will gaze at the menu and select “All.” This is an unhealthy food choice. However, if you are at home staring at an empty cupboard, a bare refrigerator, and nothing edible besides a 4-lb. bag of Cheez-Its and a 12-pack of Klondike bars, you will fill up a tall glass of cool water, sip it slowly, and wait for the hunger to subside. Or, you will inhale the Cheez-Its and the Klondikes, then get a massive stomachache and gain three pounds.

Eating at home is healthier because researchers have found that after monitoring the emotions, consumption environments, and food choices of 160 non-obese participants for 10 days, happiness linked to a cozy, homey setting resulted in wiser dietary choices that in turn reinforced feelings of joy at home. In restaurants, the participants’ hardwired preference for high-fat, sugary food tended to win, most likely because the emotional signals needed to suppress this urge weren’t triggered or were simply ignored.

This of course assumes that your home is cozy and homey, and that family dinner is something other and a screaming, yelling, sobbing, shriekfest. I still remember that family dinners as a child were the place I learned the coolest words, like the time my dad roared out “That cocksucker!” while I was serving up some green peas.

The green peas were very healthy, but when mom turned pale and screamed “Chandler!” my brother and I looked at each other in glee, knowing that any profanity vile enough to cause mom’s face to turn white was a keeper, plus in the ensuing mayhem and recriminations I was able to dump the peas under the table where they were eaten by the dog. All that family fighting and cussing and leafy vegetables being dumped on the floor meant that our dog Fletcher was indeed making healthy food choices by dining at home; he lived to be twenty-one.

Eating at home helps you lose weight simply because it takes so much time. Mrs. WM spends 4 – 6 hours a day in the kitchen boiling things, chopping things, lifting heavy iron skillets, lugging 50-lb. bags of rice, traipsing up and down the stairs to bring crap in from the car, and lugging overloaded plates to the table. It’s like a home gym workout where at the end you get to eat the workout. In addition to the calories burned, when you’re chained to a hot stove all day it means you’re not parked at Sckubrats gnawing 1,000-kcal sugar bombs and washing them down with 900-kcal holiday drinks. So, as Knoll would say, there’s that.

But perhaps the biggest diet benefit from home eating comes from caloric differentials. Restaurant food tends to be massively caloric which means that upon finishing you are guaranteed to double over in a food coma. At home, however, with the exception of that cartload of Costco frozen pizzas and that pallet of craft beer, food prepared in your own kitchen follows the “Fuck that!” principle.

The FTP is what happens when you’re grocery shopping. You have a list. You are standing in the aisle. You are looking at ketchup. The famous brand costs $2.99. The house brand costs $2.69. “$2.99?” you say in outrage. “Fuck that!” Then you grab the cheap-o brand. This is repeated down your entire shopping list except for the Cheez-Its. In other words, when you’re in a restaurant you gladly fork over $13.95 for a soggy pair of enchiladas heaped with grease, oil, lard, fat, and cheese. But at Billy Mugwumps Super Discount and Cheap-O Grocery Palace, your total food bill for the week is just over twelve bucks because you’ve bought the house brand, the week-old bread, and the tin cans without labels they’re auctioning off for ten cents each. So what if you just got ten cans of sour pickled chestnuts packed in vermin hair? They’ll taste great with the Cheez-Its. Maybe.

In other words, the FTP causes you to buy cheap stuff (saving money) that is healthy (chestnuts > triple bacon burger with extra lardsauce), to enjoy while screaming at your kids.

Bone appetit!

END

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An atheist’s Christmas prayer

December 25, 2014 § 55 Comments

“There are no atheists in foxholes,” the saying goes. But there’s a corollary: “Stay the hell out of foxholes.”

It’s Christmas time again, otherwise known as my birthday. And as Manslaughter observed while texting me the other day, “Hey, Wanky, you know what? I’ve never seen you and Jesus together. Weird.” Actually, he said “u.”

For many years I hated my Birthmas celebration for the obvious reason of present shortage and complete absence of birthday partyage. We once tried to do it in July and learned the cold truth. You can’t change your birthday. All those kids swarming around the cake and stuff didn’t mean anything when they said, “You’re birthday’s on Christmas, though, isn’t it?”

It’s like spending all that money on a nip and tuck and stretch and having all your friends say, “You got a nose job, didn’t you?”

Christmas I was born, and to Christmas I was consigned, hating it until about age 30, when I realized that the good thing about everyone forgetting your birthday is that everyone forgets about your birthday. “How old are you again?” asked in June is so much better than, “Hey, happy 51st!” spoken exactly on schedule.

This is really the essence of Christmas for me: A spoiled old man complaining about having gotten shorted on presents when I was seven. Now that I’m a full-grown atheist, we don’t even buy a tree anymore, just a Christmas shrub. A few years ago I tossed the lifetime of Christmas decorations that had accumulated, handmade things from my childhood and the childhoods of my children. All we have left are some stockings, two of which were made by my grandmothers. I’ll hang onto them, I suppose, and may even hang them up.

But Christmas is more than an earnest attempt to avoid crowds, eschew impulse shopping, and avoid over-laden tables of sweets, cakes, eggnog, and food. For some people, Christmas is a chance to pray, and to pray from the heart.

I have ridden a few times with a guy named Justin. I don’t know his last name, but I know he is a good rider and a really kind guy. He is a professional tutor in Manhattan Beach, and at age 39 he has helped hundreds of young people navigate the increasingly complex and increasingly competitive world of academics. Little by little he fell in with the MB crew, a gang of riders that includes Jeff K., King Harold, Jaeger, Manslaughter, and the other hardcore South Bay cycling addicts.

In October they planned a four-day ride from San Jose to LA, a 500-mile leisurely jaunt along some of the most gorgeous coastline in the world, during which they would all stare intently at their stems and drool for six hours a day. On the first day Manslaughter went zinging through a tight, gravelly turn that was marked with a giant sign saying “BICYCLES CAUTION: TIGHT, GRAVELLY TURN!!” and, to his surprise, at 35 mph his wheels slipped out and forced him to engage his secondary braking system, otherwise known as the skin up and down the left side of his body, and his head.

As Manslaughter is wont to do, he snapped a few photos for Facebag, taped up his frame, and continued on. Later that day Justin, who was also along for the fun, fell and broke his wrist. At the ER one thing led to another and when he returned to Los Angeles for further treatment he ended up getting a biopsy on a small lump on his tongue. It turned out to be stage four cancer, and Justin is now heading to San Diego for chemo and radiation. His Christmas just turned into a foxhole.

I also learned that a week or so ago there was a mass for him at which several hundred friends, family, students, and former students gathered to express their love and support. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a rough slog, something that makes our “suffering on the bike” look absurd in comparison because you know, if you choose to do it, it’s not really suffering.

There’s something about that slog and about the love of the people around him that resonated with me. A couple of nights ago I met up with Jami and Derek and Daniel and Andrea for dinner. Afterwards we went upstairs to the bar where a handful of friends had gathered to wish me a surprise happy birthday. It filled me warmth, that feeling that people love you, even the same people who gleefully pound you into mush on rides and in races.

As I basked in the glow I thought about Justin and wondered how I could pray for him because well, atheists don’t pray. Then it struck me. No matter what you believe, I hope you believe that love matters. I do. And that’s my prayer for Justin — that the love around him will make the difference. Merry Christmas, man. See you soon.

END

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A crappy blog

December 14, 2014 § 30 Comments

I was reading an article yesterday about hippo ecology and their poop. We don’t know much about hippos, apparently. Closely related to whales — yes, whales — they spend most of their time underwater and are hard to study for two reasons.

  1. They hate people and kill them.
  2. They all look alike.

Yep, no one’s ever figured out a way to tell Hippo A from Hippo B. You can’t put a radio collar on them because they don’t have necks. You can’t tell them apart based on scars, nicked ears and such because they are underwater all the time, and if you get in their river they will kill you. The only time they come on land is at dusk and at night, to eat and poop. Hippos also display male dominance by madly swishing their tails as they poop, spraying it into the faces of the junior males.

The magazine, a respected scientific journal, actually called it “poop.”

I’m no hippo scientist, but I’ve been to plenty of zoos with hippo pools, and I can tell you one thing. It isn’t “poop.” Hippos shit, folks. Hugely massive endless streams of stinking shit. It’s not feces and it’s not crap and it’s not manure. If you doubt me, go to a hippo pool and take a whiff, then tell me if it smells anything like what’s in your baby’s diaper. If it does, you need to get another baby.

I have a lot of stress in my life. I used to think the biggest stress was the 27 years of marriage to Mrs. WM (28 in four more days, as she reminded me at a party last night). But it’s not. The biggest stress is wondering what I’m going to put in the blog each day. If I were smart I would write it the night before, when things have just happened and are fresh in my mind, except at night I’m too tired.

So I wait until four a.m. or so. I don’t need an alarm clock anymore thanks to the blog; it wakes me up very early and asks me, “Do you have it yet?” The answer is always “No.”

Great newspaper columnists like Mike Royko and terrible ones like Lynn Ashby, giants who had to write a new column once every single week (how did they survive?), used to keep a “spare” in their desk drawer in case, at deadline time, the well was dry. Me, I have no backup.

Worse, I don’t even have a formula because I hate formulas. BikeSnob can troll through the Internet or his mailbox, pick out a half dozen weird things and make fun of them. The beginning doesn’t have to have anything to do with the end, and it doesn’t. Sit, copy, paste, type, done. Boom. Get on with the day. How awesome is that? Very awesome.

Me, by five o’clock if there’s no theme or story, I have to start writing anyway.

“Why five o’clock?” you ask. “That’s awfully early. Why can’t you organize something, do a couple of drafts, and get started at, say, six or seven?”

“Because,” I say, “cyclists are already pooping by then.”

In addition to writing on a theme every day and my marriage, I have my third biggest stress: Helping my readers poop. I wish that every cyclist who has come up to me and said, “I love your blog, dude. I read it every morning on the shitter,” loved me enough to click the “subscribe” button in the upper right-hand corner of the blog’s home page. I would be a hundredaire by now.

Similar to the absence of research on hippo poop, most of the major cycling publications don’t write much about cycling and shitting. Joel Friel and Training Peaks don’t yet have a data input for TPD, turdage per day. I’m not sure why this is, since shitting is not only one of the most enjoyable parts about cycling (and life in general), but it’s something of particular concern to anyone who rides a bike. Nothing is worse than getting all your stuff on, airing up your tires, preparing for the “big ride,” and then getting that instantaneous feeling of “someone dropped Willy the killer whale in my colon and now he is yearning to be free.”

That’s “now” as in “if you wait another ten seconds we’re gonna have a city-wide brownout.” The pre-ride dump is why so many cyclists show up five minutes late, in fact. That’s how long it takes to rip off everything, uncoil the cookie dough, slaughter half a roll of toilet paper, and get dressed again.

Dump preparation is also the reason that most riders make sure to get up long before the ride. They don’t want to get caught with their pants down, so they form a routine.

  1. Make coffee, which enhances crappage.
  2. Eat high fiber cereal or other crap inducer.
  3. Wait around, usually 30 minutes.
  4. Lunge for the throne.
  5. Enjoy.

As I have found out, for many of my friends, #5 is accompanied by my blog. Yesterday G3 rolled up to me at the beginning of the Donut Ride. “Dude,” he said. “How come your blog was late this morning? It didn’t pop up on my phone ’til I was almost done shitting.”

I didn’t ask him why he had his phone on the toilet, but since he is a subscriber and therefore a customer, and since the customer is always right, I apologized and asked him to send me a text called “morning dump” so I would remember to blog about it. At the same time, I tried not to imagine him seated there, his hairy belly poking out, his legs spread open as his organ dangled down into the black recess of the potty, the glazed-over, blissful grin spreading over his face as each charge hit the water, and the proud review and detailed size/shape/composition analysis of his morning creation before he flushed. I say I tried not to imagine it, but you can see that didn’t work.

So the next time you think you’re having a shitty day, think about me and the pressure I have to not only write on a daily basis, but to also serve as the Internet’s most important cycling laxative. I suppose the whole shit thing could be worse. At least I’m not required to display — or worse, be subject to — male dominance the same way as a hippo.

END

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Craft water

December 7, 2014 § 34 Comments

Newsflash: It’s damned hard to quit drinking.

In addition to all of the other wonderful symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, after putting down the beer mug for a couple of days everything starts to look like a tall, frothy, Racer 5 IPA. My coffee. The bike stand. The toilet bowl. That street person pushing a cart and asking me for a dollar. They say that all of this has to do with the fact that I’m an addict, but that’s not true.

I’m not an addict, I’m a drunk. Addicts are people who have a handle on the fact that they’re addicted, whereas a drunk is just a deadbeat who can’t stay out of the gutter. Drunks have to work really hard, up their game, and get their self-awareness going in order to graduate to addict level. So AA is out for me; I can see my first meeting already.

Head addict (after my 57th meeting): “So, would you like to say something?”

Me: “Yeah. I got a question.”

Head addict: “Go ahead.”

Me: “How come I’m hanging out with all you addicts?”

So I’ve pretty much despaired of improving enough to reach addict status. There are some dark curtains that I just can’t bear to peek behind. Instead, I’ve decided to simply stop being such a worthless fuggin’ drunk, and, as noted above, it’s hard. However, I’m developing some workarounds and am laying them out here in the event they might be useful for someone out there, in other words, for me.

First, since I don’t think I’ll ever get my act together enough to become an addict, my goal isn’t to quit drinking. To the contrary, my goal is to drink, and to drink four shit-tons and half an assload. I’m making plans to drink so much beer that it will make all prior bad decisions, terrible hangovers, and legendary family embarrassments look like Drosophila malanogaster compared to the Death Star.

That’s not all, that’s just the start. After I descend into the endless drunk from hell I’m going to really turn up the gas by going on a 14-day bender. I pledge to start drinking as soon as I get up and to not stop until I’m in jail or dead or both. People will say in later years when someone’s bragging to them about the night before, “Yeah, sounds like you pulled a Wanky.” It will be the gold standard for self-destructive, alcohol-addled misbehavior resulting in the devastation of entire city blocks.

However, in order to pull this off I need to get into training, and as cyclists all know, training requires a kind of committed asceticism. In other words, to do this with maximum effect I need to completely detox and purify my body so that I can hit it when it’s defenseless and unable to respond, kind of like when I show up and register at those kiddie races and whip ass on all the three- and four-year-olds. This phase of the plan is already working, but it’s going to take time get really clean enough for this maxi-bender to have maximum effect. A long time.

Second, while I’m purifying my body, which is my temple, before I pillage and ransack it, I’m setting a clear and immoveable date for this off-wagon leap which will be longer, deeper, farther, and atop more nuclear-tipped land mines than any wagon-offloading in the history of drinking. The date for this? Tomorrow.

Third, in order to make this as spectacular as possible, I’m taking a vow to not have a drop of beer today. In fact, following through on that very simple vow has been difficult since I took it a couple of weeks ago, especially since I’m such a dedicated liar, and especially since the oath was sworn to myself, the person who I can most easily deceive and never be the wiser. Yet as I get through each today without a drink it only prepares me better for the glory and happiness that awaits me tomorrow, when I’m gonna drink all the beer in the South Bay as my fuggin’ warm-up.

Fourth, the only way to keep from drinking today is by relying on friends, and they’ve responded in a variety of subtle and overt ways. Some have texted, some have Facebagged, some have called, some have come over in person. Some have joked, some have spoken in earnest, some have shared their experiences, some have encouraged, some have challenged, some have implored. Today a buddy offered this with regard to hanging out in bars–“If you spend enough time in a barbershop, you’re eventually gonna get a haircut.”

Each and every friend has made my resolve strong enough to do the only thing I have to do before I go on my bender: Not have a beer today.

While I was riding yesterday and complaining about how everything looked like a yummy IPA, including the Pacific Ocean over on our left, my buddy was telling me about his Thanksgiving in Ohio, about all the great food, and about what a good time he’d had.

“They have a ton of great craft beer in the Midwest,” I said.

He looked at me. “You know what they have in the Midwest?”

“What?”

“They have a ton of great craft water. Really good stuff, hand brewed, various flavors and varieties, and it goes great with pretty much everything you’ll ever eat.”

“Craft water?”

“Yeah,” he said, peering steadily at me. “Craft water. And that’s what you need to develop a taste for.”

The ride continued for a few hours until we were both extremely tired and hungry. As we rolled through Abbott-Kinney we could smell the food. “Man, I’m hungry.”

“Me, too,” he said.

“And I’m thirsty,” I said.

“Me, too.”

Then I broke. “Dude, I’m gonna pull over and have a beer.” I fell apart just like that, all the miserably hard work and effort and fatigue and irritableness and depression lunging up in ecstatic happiness as I contemplated my first cold beer.

My buddy looked over at me. “No, you’re not. Not on my watch.”

We continued home, so it looks like I’ve ticked another today off the calendar. And in the meantime, please pass the craft water, the one with hints of minerals, overtones of PVC pipe, and a slightly arsenic-y finish. Yum.

END

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