Please take my trip for me

March 13, 2017 § 27 Comments

I got a brochure in the mail from Trek Travel, a company that sells bike tours. And I understand why people hire other people to do their travel planning for them. One reason is safety. No one wants to go to France and get murdered. But all of the other reasons are subsumed in this one reason: People hate travel.

As soon as I hear someone say, “I love travel,” I know they hate it. And when I hear someone say, “I hate travel,” I know they’re being honest. Travel is the most disgusting, demeaning, stressful, awful activity known to man, aside from time trailing and core workouts in the gym. And the indoor trainer. And Zwift.

But in order to get from one far place to the next you have to travel. There’s no getting around it. People like to moan about how bad it’s gotten with tiny airplane seats and cardboard snacks on Southwest handed out from a trash bag, but BITD travel meant that your ship was probably going to sink or get boarded by pirates who would cut your throat, rape you, sell you off into slavery, or all three.

If your ship didn’t sink, your caravan would be attacked and the savages would cut your throat, rape you, sell you off into slavery, or all three. Or your hydrogen-filled airship would blow up and you’d be incinerated. So no, travel isn’t worse than it used to be, unless you’re trying to leave Syria or Ethiopia or North Korea or about 200 other countries, in which case you still stand a real good chance of getting your throat cut, raped, sold off into slavery, or all three. If you’re an American, you only think you have it rough, even though, as Louis CK will tell you, you’re sitting in a flying chair that goes 500 mph through the air, which is amazingly awesome no matter how many bad cups of coffee you swill.

Because people despise travel so much they hire Trek Travel to do the actual traveling. All the customers have to do is show up. They don’t even have to be particularly fit because Trek has tours for everyone, including for people who just want to “ride” an electric bike. The only thing you need to have is money and an overwhelming sense of insecurity and fear of failure.

Bike tours are an especial genre of crazy. Why would anyone join a group of complete idiots in Italy simply so they can ride together? Why not just drive to the neighboring big city and do their Saturday group ride? It will be the exact same assortment of insane people, only at the end of the ride you’ll be able to go home, whereas in Italy the guy who farts too much and bores you to tears about his power output will be your roomie for the next twelve days.

Most importantly, if you’re going to travel a long way to do something fun, you should be really stressed out and miserable getting there, because that makes the fun part more fun. Every time I hear that someone flew 15 hours in first class I feel sorry for them, waking up all refreshed and ready to hit the ground running and such.

They’ll never know the awesomeness of staggering off the plane with deep vein thrombosis only to learn that your bike has been shipped to Kalimantan and won’t be back until February. They’ll never know coach. And for sure they’ll never know coach toilets, those claustrophobic hell holes modeled after parking lot crit porta-potties with paper-thin doors so the flight attendants can hear you grunt and howl as your feet slosh around in the muck on floor and you try to keep your parts from touching the toilet rim.

What’s more world-changing than two days of hard flying, only to end up at a hotel that has lost your reservation and the whole town is booked for the month and the president declared a state of emergency and there’s no hot water? How can you possibly do better than getting the runs, pneumonia, or rickets en route to your destination?

Are you going to remember that seamless Trek Travel itinerary ten years from now, where you were pampered by a wonderful multilingual guide, quaffed perfect cappucino every day, and were encouraged every single pedalstroke of the way up the Mortirolo, or are you going to remember the mugging you got in downtown Palermo when you flatted, couldn’t understand directions to the bike shop, went down a dark alley, got beaten with a tire iron, and had your travel documents stolen along with all your money and your fingerprints?

I guess I’m making the case that, like riding yer fuggin’ bike, it counts to have to overcome stuff. If all you ever eat is dessert, it will sooner or later turn into a surfeit. A bit of nails and broken glass mixed in with your morning gruel never hurt anybody. Being spit on by locals, ripped off by grimy street urchins, solicited by diseased hookers, and harassed by paramilitary narcotraffickers is better than the finest gourmet meal in Tuscany, especially when squeezed in between horribly hard days on the bike that leave you whimpering in a bedbug-infested cabin abutting a freeway.

Travel, real travel, is always an adventure, you can’t pay someone to do it for you, and the only difference between an adventure and a complete fucking catastrophe is the ending.

END

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Mule train or, zipless f*ck

May 10, 2016 § 23 Comments

Having alienated everyone in the tour group and being pointedly asked whether or not I needed to go back to my office, today seemed like a great day to take a break from the group dynamic of an 80-mile ride starting at 11:00 AM and spread over ten hours. Fact is, my fuse is five hours long, whether I’m sitting in a lawn chair or sitting on the rivet. Moreover, Team America was at 12,876,400 points to Team Breivik’s -56. They had gone into negative points after failing to finish within the time cutoff the day before, instead of doing another marathon ride I left the race in the hands of my lieutenants and headed out by myself to explore.

I had the best ride of my life.
Mallorca is the global focal point for wankers. Some club decides to take what is euphemistically called a “cycle holiday” but in reality is an extended group ride where the club’s alpha male flays the shit out of everyone else. It’s cage fighting without a door.

These mule trains litter the island. No one is under 40, and most mules are 50 and over, if not waaaay over. What makes it so incredible is that in a very compact area you have hundreds of trains, each one led by an alpha mule. By simply pedaling slowly on any given road at any given time you will be passed by a mule train. It’s terribly rude to hop on because each little mule has forked out precious money to kit up and hang with their alpha mule for seven days, as “back home” they only see alpha mule at the beginning of the ride and in the club’s private Facegag page.

However, if you’re going to anger all of Europe one country at a time you have to be methodical, and terrible etiquette is a great place to start.

I began trolling for mules the second I turned out of the drive and caught a nice fat train in ONE MINUTE. There were eight of them, all locals, though, which brings up an important point: When mule trolling you have to know how to read a jersey. Locals have local sponsors, tourists have club names from Norway or Holland. Rapha wankers are always British.

This mule train whipped by me as we started the little climb and they hated having me there so the two alpha mules turned the screws and immediately dumped all but one of their riders. It is awesome when you can sow disharmony among friends in a few seconds. I like to call it talent.

I cruised along until their heads began to sag. We were 500 yards from the top. “Go!” Said the alpha mule #2, and #1 kicked it, but as an expert wheelsucker I flew up and over fresh as a pool of vomit the first night of Rush Week as they gnashed their teeth at my vanishing blinding orange kit.

I turned towards Bunyola, clueless as to what I’d find. Within two minutes I was passed by a massive Dutch mule train, De Zuwaluwen, which, given their bird mascot, meant “The Swallows.” I started at the back, and a sad-sack looking bunch of mules it was indeed, with the strong riders up front and the cadavers stacked up in the rear.

The road rose and the mules began cracking immediately as their alpha mule laid into them with might and main. I cruised through about 30 riders and bridged to alpha mule and his alpha mulette. He was a big strong Stig-like sonofabitch, so I knew he could be easily beaten. I sucked wheel for a couple of miles and then came past, but there was a Swallow on my wheel who had bridged and he was going full gas. I latched on and did a mule analysis, and like jersey interpretation, the correct aging of mules is crucial.

Whereas old alpha mules are stupid and convinced they can simply ride you off their wheel like they do everyone else in their club, young alpha mules actually can. So first check their legs. If the skin is young and fresh, look out. If you can’t tell from leg skin, check the nape. Old mules have craggy, deeply lined napes and cancerous growths on their ear tops; young mules have smooth skin. If you’re still unsure and the mule is in short sleeves, look at the arms for liver spots or saggy, wrinkled forearm skin.

This young mule required a lot of tenacity because he flogged the shit out of me. However, he couldn’t drop me, so he finally resigned himself to having a giant orange blob on his wheel for about five more miles of gnarly climbing. He crushed me like a twig in a stump shredder. At the top I thanked him and kept going.

After a long descent the road went up again so I slowed and went into trolling mode. This time I was caught by another of the Swallows, but he was on their C squad. Apparently had everyone regrouped at the pass, and Mr. C Teamer went ahead like Jim Bowles to “beat” his fellow mules with a 20-minute head start. He dragged me for about a mile and then exploded. Still I just sat as he floundered in the hell of being blown with someone on your wheel and not knowing if they are blown too or are waiting to pounce.

I pounced and pedaled over the pass into an endless descent into Bunyola that went on for mile after mile, passing well over a thousand cyclists going the other direction and seeing less than a dozen cars. One thing I noticed as I inspected each climbing rider’s face: No one was smiling. Every single mule looked dour, sour, and thoroughly angry at the world for forcing him to ride his bike in paradise. “This really epitomizes roadies,” I thought–so serious, so self-important, and so engaged in such a heroic humanitarian endeavor.

I on the other hand was grinning from ear to ear at the sheer joy of the whole thing that I began shouting “Allez! Allez!” at each flailing Eddy Merckx. When they heard that cheer each rider would invariably smile, and many would even wave. It’s as if hearing that time-honored cycling exhortation in the middle of a brutal climb reminded them that they really were in Disneycycleland.
Plus, it sounded better than, “You fucking suck, you stupid Dutch bastard!”

In Bunyola I gassed up with a quick coffee and headed towards the legendary Soller Pass. I set my rod to troll and immediately hooked a live one. It was a tad troubling, though, because he was solo, young, and wearing a local Belgian race kit, and he was going pretty fast. On the other hand he was short and stocky and had “kermesse” written all over him so I figured I could leech on, suck him dry, and drop him when the going got tougher. We hit the first swifchbacks and he accelerated but eventually cracked.
“Danke!” I said in my politest Fuckyou, and happily pedaled away, his groaning and creaking saddle receding out of earshot. After a couple of minutes though I disturbingly heard the creaky saddle approaching from the rear at a high rate of speed. But it wasn’t the Belgian, it was young Dave from East Yorkshire in a yellow Rapha kit with a long trailing loose thread and he blew by. Unfortunately I caught his wheel and he gave me the worst beating I’ve ever had.

Charging every single turn he kept a pace that had me at my absolute pain threshold and there it stayed for every single mile of the climb. Just before the peak his teammate in a Sun Velo kit caught us and sprinted by. It was the kind of beating you get for ten minutes once a week on the Donut back home, and it was the second mauling I’d had in less than two hours.

More than anything else, this is the true Fear of Flying zipless fuck beauty of Mallorca. Exceptional riders are everywhere, every road, all day long, and you can pummel and get pummeled by one mule after another until you puke and your legs seize up. You never get dropped because there’s always another mule train, you never win because some fucker is always better, and no one takes anything personally because you never see each other again.

Descending into Soller along a road that left me speechless with its beauty, I made a right turn up MA10 that would turn out to be a 20km climb. I stopped a couple of minutes in to snap a photo of the picturesque town below and while holstering my camera a three-man Danish mule train went by. I sprinted up and the alpha mule quickly dispatched his buddies. He had that lean, grizzled look of a mid-50’s pedal beater and my legs quickly pegged out, so I started gasping loudly, hoping that he was on the rivet and that my death rattle would encourage him to go just a tad harder and put himself in the red.

As an old mule accustomed to shredding all comers, he heard me gasp and pushed harder. I gasped more with my special hacking noise. He pushed harder. I made a shuddering moan, and he tipped off the ledge, suddenly in trouble. At that moment, after towing me for 19 of the 20km, he popped and one of the UK monsters from Sun Velo came by. I scooted onto his wheel and waved at the hapless Dane as we sped away.

The rest of the crew did a spectacular ride to Cap Formentor with spectacular scenery and great food at a scenic restaurant. When we got together at the villa people had mostly forgiven me until Full-Tron, a new Norwegian different in all respects from Posi-Tron, showed up and delivered a rousing dinner table speech for Trump.

I tried to hold my tongue and failed.

Sigh.

I tried so hard to be good …

END

Brokeleg mountain

May 9, 2016 § 14 Comments

Overnight there was a huge shuffle in the 2016 Tour de Mallorca Leaky Prostate standings. Ol’ Grizzles almost died in his sleep after losing three units of blood to a scrape that he got from tipping over at a stoplight when he couldn’t unclip in time. Stig and most of Team Helicopter Crash tried to abandon by sneaking away under cover of darkness due to the beatings administered the day before and the grim realization that they would probably not get the 12,000,000 bonus points required to get them out of last place.

Iberian Airlines had finally found Ol’ Grizzles’s full carbon Ritchie Breakintopieces folding tricycle and shipped it from the Wal-Mart Children’s Toy Distribution Center to sunny Mallorca, which was being doused in another massive rainstorm. By now everyone on Team Trump knew that the key to victory lay in drinking all the coffee and eating all the eggs and letting the air out of the Norwegians’ tires before they got up. Bruce and Steve had found Stig’s I.V. drip bags and swapped out the fresh blood with coffee grounds, spit, and chicken skin.

We had a quick team meeting in which we planned to isolate Stiginator. Suddenly Shit in the Lane piped up. “Hey guys, Team Norway has a new recruit. They’re picking him up this morning.”

“What’s wrong with those motherfuckers? Don’t they know they can’t sub in riders?”

“This new guy is supposedly better than Stigtastic,” said Shit in the Lane.

“That’s not saying much,” said Dan.

“Stig who?” said Ol’ Grizzles.

The ride route was decided. We would ride to Palma and from there do the four hardest climbs on the island, the Col de Fuckthishurts, the Col de Endless Misery, the Col de Wedroppedstigagain, and the Col de Deadlegs for a total of 13,000 feet over 100 miles. In the rain.

First though we had to go to the local bike shop to get some rain gear. What had started as a quick rain cape purchase turned into a free-for-all the second that Brian and Shit in the Lane found the discount clothing bin; they looked like gypsies at a rag bazaar the way they pounced on that shit.

Soon enough the ride began and since we were cozily situated in a gorgeous corner of a true island paradise the Norwegians routed us along the the freeway feeder road into Palma, an ugly, diesel-choked hellhole that looked like it had been shot with a shit cannon. “To get more miles,” Munch explained, since getting dropped repeatedly the day before for 165km was apparently not enough.

On the first climb out of Palma, a 7km leg softener, Stigosaurus got ready to teach a climbing clinic but he lost the lesson plan again as Ol’ Grizzles attacked early and was not seen again. “That didn’t count,” the Norwegians complained, but since we were in charge of bonus points, unfortunately for them it did.

Once you leave Palma, Mallorca is beautiful beyond any words. It’s not simply the secluded roads where, over the course of an hour you’ll see 500 cyclists and two cars, it’s the knowledge that you are seen, respected, and treated like you belong. After a few hours on the roads here it sinks in; your presence is accepted and welcomed, and that’s when you realize what a burden of fear and low-level anxiety you’ve been carrying around. And as that dissolves the true wonder of cycling sets in, in ways big and small.

For example, every road is suitable for a rotating paceline, a blobbish peloton, a single commuter … it doesn’t matter, you belong and have the right of way. Or for example, when you are out-sprinting Stig on the first climb, walkers at the top if the pass clap–they get it. Or for example, when you ride Stig off your wheel after he tells you “You’re no fucking good,” the cars behind give you plenty of room to suck his wheel and pretend you’re gassed just before blowing by like a $2,500 hooker.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the magic of the place resides in its acceptance of bicycles. All along any route you choose can find cafes with bike racks and menu boards with “Cyclist Specials.” If I ever ran across a place like that in LA my poor heart wouldn’t stand the shock. That being said, the magic dissipated markedly at about hour five, far from home, high in the mountains, and with the prospects of another long climb less than appealing.
Ol’ Grizzles was already thinking about how he’d care for the scabs he’d gotten from dragging his dick up all the climbs. Shit in the Lane had packed it in along with Steve, Dan, and Bruce and when we reached the scenic town of Anthrax the rest of us were famished. Since nutrition is super important for cyclists, Stig took a swig from his bottle filled with water and raw oats while everyone else piled in and loaded up on bacon and egg burgers with fries and coffee.

It is generally a great idea after eating a huge lunch and sitting for half an hour to immediately attack a 10km climb, especially if you like the taste of vomit. Since Team Norway had lost every sprint and climb for the last two days, they had to throw everything they had into the climb out of Anthrax.

Munch immediately went off the back to block and I was left isolated with Posi-Tron and Stiginator, who had earlier in the day had said, “You talk too much.”

“I will use simpler words,” I’d responded, but he remained unmollified and attacked the shit out if me.

When I followed he began to jeer. “How you like it now, tough guy? Tired already enough?”

“You talk too much,” I said hanging on for dear life as he unleashed some more tremendous power which was really filled with power.

Since this unleashing failed to dislodge me, he began giving me orders. “No ride behind. Ride over dere,” he said, pointing to an unsheltered spot off to the side.

“OVER DERE!” he shouted again.

“You talk too much,” I said, hunkering down as more tremendous power was unleashed.

A long time later we got close to what looked like the top, and it appeared to me that his feet were moving in a geometrical shape generally referred to as a “square,” so I rode off and did a victory salute to the English hikers standing at the summit.

After he got to the top I gave him some encouragement. “With a lot of practice and a good coach and a cheeseburger you might be mediocre someday. You have something similar to talent, kind of.”

But some people can’t accept praise and he snarled, “You are no fucking good.”

I wholeheartedly agreed. “It’s true, yet I’m ahead of you. Weird, huh?”

Many miles later Chef Leiv, the revelation of the Tour, continued to smash and pound, as Ol’ Grizzles took another mountaintop win from Stiggles. What had started as a rout became total defeat for Team Norway. At the last climb, Posi-Tron tried a sneak mountaintop sprunt but lost that as well.

Six hours into the ride, Team America was exhausted, and Munch was finally coming into his element. At the fork in the road he announced, “Short way dere, long way dere.”

“How long is long?”

“Hour and half to climb, hour up climb, hour and half home.”

“Dude, it will be night.”

“Dude, I’m very tired.”

“Dude, I’m very weak.”

“Dude, my prostate just broke.”

The Norwegians looked at us contemptuously, and with obvious relief that we wouldn’t be humiliating them on another climb. While they soldiered on to ride more heroic miles as they gently touched each other’s tremendous power, we descended to a cake and pastry and pizza and beer and coffee shop and admitted that all in all we were really sorry that we had passed on the opportunity to ride with people who hated us.

Back at home Steve and Chef Leiv had shown the kind of international cooperation that never happens at the U.N. They made an astonishing meal of pasta with meatballs and gallons of wine, garnished with excuses about why Team Norway was unable to win anything attended by an American. Afterwards we sat around and looked each other’s phone porn. Team America won that competition, too, as most of the Norwegian porn was of goats.

END

Climbing lessons, or, Team America 1, Team Socialism 0

May 8, 2016 § 17 Comments

The day dawned bright and clear but only for me and Ol’ Grizzles, who sneaked in before the others awoke and drank all the coffee. After two solid days of food and liquor the guys who had to sleep in the villa kept each other awake with the percussive rumblings of their bowels and the alternating stop-start wheezing of sleep apnea.


The challenging and beautiful ride routes planned by Munch had already been vetoed by the mutinous riders who only desired a brief pedal down to the cheese shop and back. “I can’t climb on this rental bike,” complained Ol’ Grizzles. “The geometry of the rear triangle cuts the power of my stroke by half.”

“I can’t climb today,” said Shit in the Lane. “This is my recovery week.”

The Norwegians all looked contemptuously at the Americans, who were going to vote for Trump. Stigosaurus grunted as he ate an almond and finished off his bowl of salt. “Today big pounding.”

Ol’ Grizzles, whose bike, underwear, toothbrush, and EPO were still in Boston, got on the phone to check the status of his lost doping shipment. “How can I help you?” said the cheerful lady. “What is your tracking number?”

“It’s 54321-24.”

“I’m sorry sir, that’s our partner Iberian Airlines. Our system doesn’t have that number. You should call Iberian.”

“I just called them and they said to call you.”

“Our last record in our system shows the bag was shipped to Ougadougou yesterday. Is that your final destination?”

“What?”

“Ougadougou in Upper Volta. Is that your final destination or are you simply in transit through Africa?”

“Lady, I’m at my final destination, which is Mallorca.”

“Why were you traveling through sub-Saharan Africa? A more direct route would have been Madrid.”

“Lady, I’ve never been to Africa in my life. You lost my bags in Boston.”

An hour into the conversation we were all milling around waiting anxiously for the ride to begin, as storm clouds were gathering and the window for a sunny ride was slamming quickly on our fingers. “Can you hurry the fuck up?” Munch said. “You’ve got a rental bike, for fuck’s sake.”

Ol’ Grizzles was now speaking to a very nice lady at Iberian Airlines who was also very happy to help him and advise him that the next time he travels from Houston to Mallorca he should avoid connections in sub-Saharan Africa due to the likelihood of issues with luggage.

The navigation for the day’s course was undertaken by Team Norway due to the fact that they were engineers and had complete mastery of real-time mapping technology. As we swooped through the gorgeous Spanish villages with the sun illuminating a deep azure sky and the wind at our backs we were a magnificent group to behold except for one or two tummies that evidenced an excessive consumption of liquor and sperm (whale).

Team Batshit Crazy Texas Evolution Deniers was extremely concerned by Team Norway’s hired guns, Stigosaurus and Posi-Tron, vicious and canny killers on the bike whose sole mission was to annihilate Team Batshit Crazy. As the gentle rollers began, ticking off the first sectors of our 100-mile, 9,000-feet day, we knew that it was only a matter of time before the Norsemen unsheathed their fearsome battle axes and lopped off a few heads.

Suddenly, Shit in the Lane drove to the front, stringing out the peloton into a narrow, snaking line. The Norsemen sat on his wheel, sapping his mighty strength as they prepared to unleash the tremendous power of the Stiganator and his trusty maiden-in-waiting, Posi-Tron.
One by one the weakest of team Batshit dropped a prolapsed uterus and the more culinarily oriented members of Team Salted Fish spiraled off the back. At precisely the moment when Stigosaurus was poised to unleash his tremendous power, Ol’ Grizzles ratfucked him with an acceleration up the side that only SITL, Brian, and I could follow. Despite the tremendous power of Stiggy and Team Aryan, we motored away from them as if they were doing a sack race.

Of the many awesome things about Mallorca, nothing is more awesome than the hundreds of pelotons out prowling the roads. As SITL set the throttle on “destroy,” we caught and dropped countless mini-wankotons, Team Blonde fruitlessly trying to reel us in. When we reached the end of Sector 1 the group stopped for coffee, flan, pudding, beer, and salami, and Ol’ Grizzles expressed his concern to Stigosaurus.

“I’m really disappointed in you, Stig.”

“Vat?”

“I expected you would really show us a thing or two in Sector 1 but you rode like a three-legged nag dragging an anchor. How old are you, Stig?”

“Fifty-three.”

“Well you just got your ass beat by a 63-year-old great-grandfather, which means you flat fucking suck.”

Team Norway jumped to Stig’s defense. “He has ridden 2,000 kilometers this week and he is a national champion runner in his youth and anyway he excels in the high mountains”

“Well someone needs to tell him this isn’t jogging, and it’s not my fault he doesn’t have sense enough to quit riding after 9:00 PM.”

We resumed and we hit Sector 2, a barely paved 10-mile road through olive groves, and soon we had shed Team Norway except for Posi-Tron. Bruce, Shit in the Lane, O.G., Brian, and I scored an incredible victory, adding to our point total by 5,000 points. Unfortunately for Stig, we had decided to only award 45.6 points for the rest of the trip.

At lunch we were all ravenous so I had two lasagnas. Stig and Posi-Tron had a hotel room they were sharing at the nearby resort, so rather than eat with his mates Stig crawled back to his hotel to get a fresh stick of celery, a bowl of salt, and a couple of fresh blood bags.

We chided Posi-Tron for Stig’s disappointing performance and said we hoped the 12 new units of blood would do the trick. Team Norway was getting a bit testy due to their tremendous power and the fact that each time Ol’ Grizzles upbraided them he added another ten years to his age.

“Stig and Posi-Tron do best on the climbs,” they insisted, “and this has been too easy so far. You will see,” they said.

After lunch Shit in the Lane gave his double cheese pizza four minutes to settle and hit the gas. When you are on his wheel his ass is so wide it blots out the sun, you could just as easily look around Mt. Fuji. This time Stigosaurus made the selection and he sat on SITL’s wheel who ripped it through the lanes at 33 mph. When the rollers started SITL exploded and Stiganator unleashed his tremendous power.

O.G. and I were immediately put in huge difficulty and after a few minutes of receiving the tremendous power we put away our nail files and stopped watching YouTube videos. I pulled through in my weak, effeminate California way but it apparently had a detrimental effect on Stig’s tremendous power because he began to wobble and then said “Let’s wait, okay?” which was Ol’ Grizzles’s cue to attack, which he did.

The dominating win of Sector 3 gave us an additional 50,000 points which would be hard for Team Cratering Oil Prices to make up.

However, the next sector was the first real climb of the day, a steep 5km ascent with numerous ramps. Chef Leiv tossed the first grenade and only Stig and Posi-Tron survived the shrapnel. I latched onto Posi-Tron, terrified by his worm-like physique of 110 pounds, his long legs, and the fiendish grin on his mid-30’s face as he contemplated chewing up another feeble old man on the climbs.

Apparently though he was already full from lunch and not hungry for old man and soon enough Stig countered with the ferocity of someone whose last meal was a bowl of salt. He dropped Posi-Tron and the tremendous power had me gasping, heaving, and gagging as the road kept tilting viciously up. With the exception of Derek, Jules, Rudy, Julien, Fukdude, Ponygirl, and a couple of hundred other South Bay riders I had never seen such tremendous climbing power.

After a bit he looked back and snarled, preparing to unleash the super extra tremendous power because the tremendous power, although tremendous, wasn’t quite tremendous enough to have the desired effect. Once the super extra tremendous power came out, however, Stigosaurus began to wobble and weave a bit so he looked back and commanded, “Time for easy pedal now!” but what I heard instead was “Wanker legs now tired and giving up,” so as much as I didn’t want to, I dropped him.

O.G. passed him, too, reminding him of his disappointment at this crushing defeat in Sector 4 and deciding to give Team America 12 million bonus points. Stigosaurus didn’t say anything the rest of the ride but we were pointedly told that tomorrow, when the road tilted skyward, we would see the true prowess and tremendous power of Team Left Testicle.

Munch redeemed the Vikings by earning three bonus points with an extra Puig and a 20km pull all the way home to Lloseta, where we had magnificent paella for dinner with jokes on the side, mostly directed at Stiganator, who actually ate some real food. We knew that he was gonna unleash some tremendous power.

Tomorrow.
END

Pass the sperm (whale)

May 6, 2016 § 15 Comments

There is no question a man will ever have to answer in life more significant than “Bring my own bike or rent?”

For me it was simple. Traveling with a bike is like carrying smallpox with you on a vacation. Far better to overpay for a filthy, maladjusted creaker with a nut-punishing seat and enough grease on the chain to open a burrito stand than to put hell in a case and drag it through airports filled with hurried, harried, angry people whose only goal in life is to prevent you from reaching your destination at the highest possible price.

We got to Palma and the weather, which had forecast rain, was raining. I say “we” but that didn’t include Ol’ Grizzles’s bike and gear, which American Airlines had decided would be put to better use in Boston. “No problem,” said the agent, “we can have it delivered to your hotel on Thursday.”

Now that the bicycle trip he had been planning for six months except for the how-to-travel-with-the-bike part was effectively ruined, we went to OK Car Rental, a licensed criminal organization whose business model is to double the guaranteed rare, force-place wildly expensive insurance, charge you a $40 handling fee for filling the tank, and watch you flip out. “You can walk or take bicycle if you don’t like,” is their sales-clincher.

We piloted to the grocery store in Inca in a hailstorm, our single goal being to buy provisions and get to the villa before the others so we could snag the plum beds and Shit in the Lane would get the couch or baby crib again. The first day’s grocery bill was $700.

“Holy shit,” I said as we checked out our five carts.

“Yeah,” said O.G. “Better put it on your card.”

We headed over to the villa, our turdbox from OK Rental groaning under the groceries. We’d been awake for 28 hours and hadn’t eaten anything except a half-dozen in-flight meals and we were now wrestling with the fact that our villa had no address and our contact, Rafael, wasn’t awake yet at noon.

Fortunately it all worked out but not before three pounds of butter melted in the back seat. No matter. We beat the Norwegians and SITL and scored the lovers-cabana-for-two next to the pool. The villa was over 300 years old (“Older than your Constitution!” remarked Munch cheerfully) and furnished with all the comforts you would expect from the Spanish Inquisition including jagged stone floors that tore away unsuspecting toenails.

The crew assembled, minus J-Lo, who hadn’t checked his expired passport until the night before, and Stig, who had arrived a week earlier, was staying elsewhere, and in any event was still riding as he’d only put in 1,000k in five days. “New to cycling,” we all shrugged. “He’ll get over it.”

A mad flurry of bike assembly ensued for those who had shipped bikes except for O.G., who had a mad flurry of a phone conversation with American Airlines as he got them to pay for a bike rental, new kit and helmet, and floor pump. Three of the guys had Ritchie Breakapart frames, a collapsible contraption that is heavy, slow, and ugly, but like children it’s yours.

Brian amazed everyone with a massive, three-foot torque wrench. “What the fuck is that for?” We howled in derision.

“Sets my pedal torque.” More howls. “I got these Garmin power pedals …” More howls. “And the torque has to be right …” More howls. “Or they don’t work properly.”

“Dude!” said SITL. “That wrench weighs more than your fucking bike and I’m gonna drop your ass no matter what pedals you use.” He emphasized the point by emptying his gin and tonic and his wine glass and vodka.

Before long we had tired of making fun of each other and demanded dinner. Leiv the Salted Fish Eater, who was also our cook, brought out an amazing platter of liver-colored, shimmering red meat soaked in blood. “He bring it with him from Norway,” Sverre whispered.

“What the fuck is it?” Dan said. “His neighbor?”

We all took turns guessing. “Reindeer?”

“Wildebeest?”

“Anus of bear?”

“I will tell you after you try it,” Leiv said. We each fearfully took a sliver of the barely cooked, quivering meat, like when someone sticks his finger under your nose and says, “Smell this!”

It was tasty. “Gimme some more!” said Shit in the Lane. “What is it?”

“Sperm whale,” said Leiv proudly. “Who would like seconds?”

END

Eating like kings

May 5, 2016 § 13 Comments

A couple of days before my big trip to Spain where I will contest the 2016 Tour de Prostate I got to wondering about the details. So I called up Ol’ Grizzles who was more than happy to take the 76th call of the day from anxious participants wondering about which gears, which tires, and which syringes to bring.

bag

One bag, 10 days. Thanks, Larry & Fukdude!

trip_checklist

All you need for 10 days, including what’s on your back.

“Hey, man,” I said. “I been wondering.”

“Yeah?” he said.

“Yeah. What about food?”

“What about it?”

“Like, what’s the eating situation? Should I be bringing BonkBreaker bars and BeachBody elixir [*note pro placement of club sponsors smack in the beginning of the post, where exposure will be maximum, before  readers close the window when they see their name isn’t mentioned]?”

“Dude,” he said, “there are a lot of things to worry about, for example Stig the freak who has been in Mallorca for the last week and already logged a thousand kilometers.”

“So he’ll be worn out by the time we get there.”

“Or you could worry about your candy California ass and how the Ted Cruz Contingent is gonna tear your legs off.”

“As long as you Cruz Campaigners agree to carry any and all of your non-viable attacks to term, that’s fine. How’s his campaign doing, by the way?”

“Or you could worry about the fact that we’ll do more hard riding in the first two days than you’ve done all year.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“But the one thing you don’t need to worry about is food. We’ll be eating like kings.”

“Really?”

“Dude. We get up, hop on our bikes ride for a couple of hours, grab a huge lunch, ride a couple more hours, get back to the villa, and eat a huge dinner. There’s food everywhere, all the time.”

“Cool,” I said, and hung up.

This morning you can imagine my surprise when I got the following email from Leiv, the Director of Hospitality. Here is his missive:

Wanky and Grizzles,

Since you are arriving first, you will be required to visit these premises for acquiring the below list of essentials as stipulated by me.

Hiper Centro, Inca
Avinguda General Luque
Inca, Illes Balears, España

These items required for your purchase are not voluntary but are stipulated as required purchases to ensure that governing dietary needs are met durational for our enjoyable together time and nutrition proper for exercise and recovery.

  1. Beer, regular Pilsner type, 300 bottles, 330ml
  2. Beer, dark type and Weisbier, 100 bottles each and however way
  3. Cava, 36 bottles, based on their selection but preference is from these two producers which are not voluntary but stipulated by mutual order and consent: Millésime 2011 or Gran Reserva Brut or Reserva de la Familia or Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2010  by  Juvé y Camps, Cava, España
  4. Heretats, 12 bottles, Gran Reserva  2009 or MIM Brut Reserva  2010 or Pinot Brut Reserva Rosé  2011 by  Vins el Cep, Cava, España
  5. Rose wine, 10-15 bottles, free selection with stipulation of no American vinegar tasting
  6. White wine, 10-15 bottles, free selection with stipulation of no American vinegar tasting
  7. Red wine, 10-15 bottles, free selection with stipulation of young wine, Tempranillo grape, Spanish only
  8. Bottled water, 1-3 bottles for Seth, stipulation for purchase in litres, a measurement unknown to provincials and Americans
  9. Coke/Soda, 1-3 bottles for Seth or other babies
  10. Milk, 0% fat, 50 litres for morning recovery and general healthfulness
  11. Juice, selection 40-50 litres, with stipulation of nothing from concentrate due to unhealthfulness
  12. Tonic water, 14 litres for healthy mixture with stipulated hard alcohol
  13. Limes, 80, for healthy mixture with stipulated hard alcohol
  14. Lemons, 45, for healthy mixture with stipulated hard alcohol
  15. Red chili peppers, 25-30, for healthy mixture of cooking and proper bowel
  16. Spring onions, 10-15 singles, for more proper bowel and health
  17. Red onions, 10-15, very good for extra proper bowel
  18. Yellow onions, 2-3, moderate bowel yet stipulated flavoring
  19. Bell peppers, 13, dinner garnishing and healthy vegetable
  20. One lettuce, healthy bowel roughage
  21. One cucumber
  22. One honey melon
  23. One cantaloupe melon
  24. Charentis / Gaia / Ogen melon, 2 each for bowel roughage
  25. Ripe!!! Mango, 4, stipulated vitamin for replenishment of bodily fluids
  26. Avocado, 10 ripe for chili mixture
  27. Cillantro, a good heap for green chlorophyll benefits
  28. Basil, a good pot or heap for concentrated chlorophyll benefits
  29. Mint, a good pot or heap for freshy breath
  30. Garlic, net of 10 for fart reduction
  31. Olive oil, virgin 15 litres for various stipulated cooking and healthy fart reduction
  32. Corn oil, 1 litre, less healthy but cheap and healthy for stipulated budget
  33. Balsamic vinegar, 1 litre, extremely bowel health
  34. Sweet soy sauce (black stuff, small bottle ok)
  35. Regular soy sauce, salty type, 1 litre
  36. Rice wine vinegar (with the sushi stuff and Asian people area of the stipulated market), 1 litre
  37. Mustard, Dijon type for various health application
  38. Sesame seeds for bowel roughage
  39. Wheat flour, 15 kg for regular morning baking
  40. Maldon salt (pack) for flavoring
  41. Pepper (ground, one glass + one mill glass)
  42. Sugar 25 kg, for all applications and cooking meals to assignment as stipulated and manufacture of home made energy bar for cycling
  43.  Breakfast oats, 20 kg, for daily logging of morning cooking and lunchtime meals
  44. Butter 5 kg, for all cooking procedures as stipulated and bowels
  45. Eggs, breakfast mainly, 13 dozen, but application as needed throughout day and as hunger dictates late-night omelette production
  46. Cheese, a selection yet refraining from heavily stinking goat type
  47. Pata negra ham (several different please), 12 kg for much protein throughout all times
  48. Boiled ham, 2 kg, for chewing
  49. Jam, one or two glass for application with bread to be baked each morning fresh as each stipulated member takes turns on morning baking crew
  50. Bacon, 10 kg, for frying and healthy aroma to be assembled by morning baking crew on rotations
  51. Yoghurt, 12 litres for hangover absorbtion and bowel
  52. Nuts, selection of hazel, almonds, walnuts for dessert and hangover rapid absorption
  53. Snack chips, beer nuts, etc. for frequent ingestion and hangover delay
  54. Shampoo
  55. Soap
  56. Toilet paper
  57. Cling foil
  58. Aluminum foil
  59. Toilet paper written twice because forgetfulness of this stipulation would result problematic in catastrophe
  60. Kitchen paper
  61. Trash bags
  62. Extra ration beer and wine for emergency
  63. Low grade tequila for stipulation of necessity
  64. Medium grade whiskey for washing down parts of beer and wine
  65. Flavored liqueur
  66. Vodka, varying prices but all cheap, please

The individual cooking crews will by stipulation be on assignment and in shifts with new members beginning cook shift at 5:00 AM or early as by stipulation of senior members’ dietary stipulation and awakening schedule. Cooking crew rotational shift designation will be throughout each day with new members carrying proportionally heavy stipulation preparation and cooking and shopping load until Year 2 when seniority accrues by stipulation.

Thank you.

So now at least one thing is clear. We’ll be eating like kings, all right, but in order to do it we’ll be needing a few slaves.

END

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Mallorca 2016 Tour de Prostate

May 1, 2016 § 20 Comments

Now that the final start list for the Mallorca 2016 Depends Challenge a/k/a Tour de Prostate has been released, I’ve begun training in earnest in order to show my main sponsor, Metamusil, that I’m not just another dirtbag roadie who takes all the swag and shits. Er, splits.

None of the Norwegians have nicknames because when your parents named you “Munch” or “Stig” there is not a lot of room for humorous improvement.

The Texas Cruz Crazies are led by one of the fiercest, canniest, toughest, most experienced elderly fellows in the assisted care facility, Ol’ Grizzles a/k/a Skinless Boneless a/k/a What’s Your Name Again, Sonny? Next comes a man known only by the initials SITL, the meaning of which will never be revealed (unless you happened to have read Friday’s blog).

After that the Texas Cruz Crazies are:
Steve B.
Daniel P.
Bruce M.
Brian S.
… and J-Lo.

The Norwegian Salted Fish Eaters are:
Sverre
Øystein
Munch
Leiv
Trond da Furst
Trond da Sekund
… and Stig.

Since none of the Texans can read, it made sense for the Norwegian contingent to plot out our ride routes. Even though Norway is essentially Germany for Dumb People, they have been the designated choice for detailed planning ever since the Texans were put in charge of building a bonfire that one year.

In order to view the routes you’ll need access to MapMyRide.com, the cycling equivalent of MySpace. You’ll have to join MapMySpace and friend me and promise not to be one of those stalker weirdos. Here are the stages:

Stage One: San Salvador and Puig de Randa. We start out guns blazing because everyone knows that in our aged and weakened condition we’ll only become feebler and unable to ride as the days pass, especially on Day 2. This 85-mile loop will separate the men (none) from the old men (almost everyone else) from the wheelchair-bound (Ol’ Grizzles). MapMyRide link here.

Stage Two: Cap Formentor. For the one or two riders still alive after Stage One, this little jaunt, also known as Cap Tormentor, takes us out onto a promontory and 8,000 feet of climbing that is often swept with howling gales and, if you leave past 9:00 AM, is littered with giant tour buses.”Cap Formentor” is Catalan for “You should have driven.” Although marketed by the sneaky Norwegians as a recovery day, Cap Formentor promises nothing but hell, awfulness, and one more excellent reason to fall off the wagon. MapMySpace link here.

Stage Three: The Gristmill. After two days of vicious riding, the Norwegians have inserted a truly despicable day, the 103-mile rolling ingrown toenail known as The Gristmill for the tiny, fine granules into which riders are ground. With only 5,700 feet of climbing it will feel like 57,000, especially for the Cruzin’ Crazies whose idea of a hill repeat is the 12-foot climb coming into Fulshear. Several of the Norwegians can be expected to DNS if the ride starts before noon, as they’ll still emptying the dregs from last night’s bender. MapMySpace link here.

Stage Four: I’m Mainly a Birdwatcher. By now the 2016 Tour de Broken Man Parts will be over for all but a few who are properly dosed and under a medically supervised training plan. At 72 miles and two minor climbs, today is the first true recovery day, and we can expect to see enthusiastic competitors take out hiking boots, binoculars, and Spanish phrasebooks as they insist they really only came to Mallorca “for the hiking” or “for the excellent birding at Albufera Marsh” or “in order to practice my Spanish and learn about the culture.” MapMySpace link here.

Stage Five: Sackwhacker. This is the queen stage of the Tour, so called because of the toll that this day will take on your manhood. Ascending 7,400 feet in 64 miles, the Cruzies will all be chanting anti-abortion songs and voting for secession from the comfort of the villa while the ill-tempered Norwegians drink salt-fish gels as they pound their way to the top of Puig Major, the biggest climb on the island. No one will dare post his time to Strava. The Texans will prove they climbed it with Photoshop. MapMySpace link here.

Stage Six: The End of Life as We Know It. This day’s ride is simply a sick joke; 103 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing through the hilliest portion of the island. No one will start. No one will finish. Everyone will brag about it back home, claiming you can’t see their time because their battery died or that the Spanish GPS stuff doesn’t work on their English Strava/Garmin etc. Whoever hasn’t booked an early flight home by now or checked into the ICU will have sold the bike and headed over to the mainland for something easier, like bare-handed bullfighting. MapMySpace link here.

Stage Seven: Bitch Pudding. 50 miles and 3,200 feet. Who cares? MapMySpace link here.

Stage Eight: It’s All Downhill Not. By now everyone hates everyone else, the nationality jokes have turned to nasty glares, the Norwegians mutter angrily in Norwegian and the Cruzy Crazies whisper among themselves in Pig Latin. The Not Smart Enough to be Germans have one last knife up their sleeve, though, and it’s the 67-mile, 10k-feet Sa Calobra, truly saving the worst for last. No one shakes hands as each rider gathers his filthy belongings and glowers, each harboring dreams of revenge and planning for the other’s destruction … next year. MapMySpace link here.

END

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