Foolscap

November 26, 2017 Comments Off on Foolscap

Last night, while reading Stefan Zweig’s memoirs, “Die Welt von Gestern,” I came across his description of Maria Ranier Rilke’s style of writing. Not the poetry itself but the actual way that he wrote with a beautiful hand, on only the best paper, with an excellent pen, and with never a cross-out. When Rilke made a mistake, he simply started over. He refused to send a letter marred by an emendation of any kind.

Naturally, I reflected on my own terrible script, and worse, that it had been years since I had written anything of length with pen and paper. In fact the last time I remember quite well, July 2008, when I took the California bar exam … with a pen. It was such a memorable experience that I took it again, only this time with a laptop. Thankfully, I did not have to repeat the fun a third time.

Reading about Rilke, and also about David Vogel, who crammed 75,000 words onto fifteen sheets of paper, made me remember that once upon a time pen and paper were the only writing tools that I owned. It wasn’t until 1983 or 1984 that I got my first computer and gradually dispensed with a practice that was cumbersome to employ and that resulted in a mostly illegible scrawl.

“What would happen if I tried to blog in ink?” I wondered. “And where would I even find any decent writing paper? Or a pen?”

The answer was too obvious: Del Amo Mall during Black Friday weekend. My first stop was a shop called “Typo,” certainly anathema to me; so much do I hate typos that I have a typo elf who reads my blog and faithfully corrects every misspelled word. Happily, Typo, a store devoted “all things writing,” had not a single notebook of quality paper and not a single decent pen.

It did, however have many laptop carrying cases, as well as diaries and journals with cutesy titles like “Write That Shit Down!” embossed on the faux leather cover. Having someone else’s slogan on the cover of your journal is like buying a canvas with someone else’s painting on it.

After leaving the shop for all things writing we went to a store guaranteed to have a huge selection of at least half the pen-and-paper equation, as the name of the place was “Papyrus.” Just imagine all the writing paper I would find at a shop named “Paper”!

Disappointment is of course the driving force behind any good shopping experience, and this one was no exception. Papyrus was indeed filled with paper, but only the greeting card variety. When I asked the clerk if she had any writing paper, she was confused. “Writing paper? For what?”

“For writing,” I replied.

“You mean writing writing?”

It was hard not to say, “No, I mean writing singing,” or “writing dancing,” but I simply nodded.

“The only thing we have are those little notebooks over in the corner. Unless you want a diary. Here’s a nice one.” She handed me a heavy thing with a lock on it that said “My Most Private Thoughts” on the front. I suppose it was for people whose most private thoughts were destined for publication, if only by a nosy little brother.

I selected the notebook she had pointed to, after paying the extraordinary sum of $11.37, and left. My next goal was to find a pen. As we wandered through the mall we passed a giant series of screens where children, mob-like, were playing a Super Mario game of some kind. Their parents enthusiastically egged them on, and as they did so I tried to imagine the same level of excitement when the kids brought home a book from school.

I couldn’t.

The mall was devoid of nice pens, and people were surprised by the question, “Do you know where I could buy a nice pen?”

A lady at Nordstrom’s crinkled her brow and shrugged; I’d clearly won the Batshit Crazy Stupid Ass Customer Question of the Day. “I dunno, hon. Have you looked over by the sunglasses?”

Finally I sat down at one of the strategic rest areas, where burned out husbands and boyfriends sat slumped over, utterly defeated by the shopping intervals that their wives and girlfriends were getting in prior to the main Christmas season shopping decathlon. I took out my phone and searched for “fine pens Torrance,” and immediately got the perfect hit: www.Scribespens.com in Lawndale, a mere twenty minutes away, which obviously wasn’t Torrance.

“World class pens and luxury brands!” it boasted, which was weird because Lawndale is most definitely the ‘hood, and not a major retail location for luxury items. We turned off on 156th Street into a densely packed residential neighborhood of small houses and burglar bars and curbside cars that didn’t look like they had many miles left on them.

“I think we’re in the wrong place,” my wife said.

“The Internet says it’s here.”

“The Internet is sometimes wrong.”

I ignored the blasphemy, because just as we reached the end of the street it curved around to a tiny industrial park, stuck behind a massive security fence and security gate. In the corner was a tiny building with a sliding glass door, which was itself covered in dust, and on the front was a poster that said “Scribe Pens.”

“They’re out of business,” Yasuko proclaimed.

“How do you know?”

“Look at all the dust. That door hasn’t been opened in years.”

“The Internet says they’re open right now.”

“Does the Internet say how you’re supposed to scale that ten-foot fence with the concertina wire on top?” She had a point. So I called the number on the poster. “Can’t you order this from Amazon?” she said while the phone rang.

“Gotta support the small local businesses.”

“No one else seems to be.”

Then someone picked up. “Yes?” he said, and sounded worried.

“Is this the pen shop?”

“Who is this?”

“A customer. I’m standing in front of the barbed wire fence. The Internet says you’re open.”

His suspicion turned to surprise. “A customer? Really?”

“Yes. I want to buy a nice pen and the Internet says you sell nice pens.”

He thought about it for a moment. “Well, I’m really sorry. I took the weekend off so I could spend Thanksgiving with my family.”

“No worries,” I said. “When will you re-open?”

This totally unexpected question threw him for a loop and a long pause. “Uh, Monday.”

“What time?”

“Uh, ten.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“You should really buy your fancy pen off the Internet,” my wife said.

“Nope. I’m coming back on Monday.”

Back at home I took out the notebook and this really crappy pen, and began to write. My hand ached after a while, so I rested. I noticed that with a pen, which is slow, your thoughts run ahead, forming with plenty of time to write them down.

It felt wonderful. And as I looked back, I noticed that I’d crossed nothing out.

END

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Unthanksgiving Day

November 25, 2017 Comments Off on Unthanksgiving Day

Sometimes the mood overtakes me and I make a list of things I’m grateful for. I usually post it on Thanksgiving Day. But other times a different mood overtakes me and I make a list of things I’m ungrateful for. I keep that list to myself.

But not today!

  1. I’m very ungrateful for the shabby state of our democracy, led by a bully with a yeast infection where his brain should be.
  2. Super ungrateful for not winning the Latigo Hillclimb by a lot of minutes.
  3. I’m way ungrateful for the people who designed Chinese, which is basically unlearnable, at least by me, despite hundreds of hours and thousands of wasted dollars.
  4. My ungratefulness knows no bounds when it comes to the lady who sat in front of me on the way to Austria, demanding that the flight attendant remove the lady who had a crying baby. Remove him to where, lady? We’re in a fucking airplane.
  5. Lots o’ ungratefulness when I reflect on the Lunada Bay Boy on Mom’s Couch who tried to run over my wife while she was descending Via del Monte this morning.
  6. I am ungrateful for global warming. It’s not “climate change,” asshole, it’s “we’ve turned earth into a boiling cauldron and we’re all stuck in the middle of it.”
  7. Ungrateful for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all sales of every kind, everywhere.
  8. I am decidedly unthankful for the NRA and the whackjob gun lobby. I don’t like your fake rendition of the 2nd Amendment and all the dead people that result from it, like the lady today who was “mistaken” for a deer while walking her dog and killed.
  9. Big unthankfulness over here in the cheap seats for TV.
  10. No thanks whatsoever for drivers who endanger cyclists, injure and kill them, and prevent the spread of more bicycling for more people in more places.
  11. Huge helping of thanklessness for everyone who didn’t vote and is now “outraged” by the composition of the judiciary, Congress, and the executive branch.
  12. Not feeling much gratitude right this minute for “pro” bike teams that don’t pay their women racers. A lot.
  13. Zero mindfulness/thankfulness/appreciation for Serfas, who, although they keep replacing them for free, also keep sending me tail lights that don’t last very long.
  14. I am hereby ungrateful for doctors who overprescribe antibiotics. And opioids.
  15. Ungrateful, here and now, for getting weaker and slower every year. But nominally pleased not to have yet been served with the alternative.
  16. Unappreciative of #socmed and all the YEARS that I donated to #facebag, #stravver, and #thetwitter.
  17. Not very happy about the thorn in my front tire that I didn’t find until it resulted in two flats.
  18. And of course I’m ungrateful for Merkel’s failure to form a governing coalition. Adios, world’s last functioning social democracy.
  19. Okay, I ran out at 18, so I’ll finish it with the one thing I’m daily grateful for: Being alive in this amazing world … defects notwithstanding, it’s a great place to be!

END

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The people speak

November 24, 2017 Comments Off on The people speak

Since it’s the off season and no one, I mean no one, cares anything about cyclocross, the folks over at the UCI have come up with some fantastic ideas to reinvigorate and breathe life into the moldy old corpse of pro bike racing. Cycling in the South Bay showed this picture from the world championships to a cross-section of ordinary riders to get their opinions on pro cycling.

worlds

Snippy Turgerian, casual cyclist: “The Aryan gentleman on the left with the Hitler haircut who appears to be raising his right hand in some kind of salute is, um, interesting.”

Phoebe Flycatcher, mother of four who uses her bike for grocery shopping: “The fellow in the middle seems not to have learned that sticking out his tongue, and spitting, for that matter, are rude. But it can be cured.

Blaze Corcoran, noted natty dresser: “Is this a world championship podium? It looks more like a Three Stooges candid. The fellow on the right needs a haircut and a subscription to Dollar Shave Club. Or maybe Two Dollar Shave Club. Yeeesh.”

Next, Cycling in the South Bay collected quotes from UCI management committee member Bob Stapleton and ran them by the average cyclist-in-the street to see how well the suits are connecting with the stinky lycras.

Stapleton: “If we can organize ourselves and work collectively across the different stakeholders across different elements of the value chain, that there is a lot of value that can be created, and we can free the sport of its historic rivalries that hold it back.”

Turkey O’Flanahan, noted cycling blogger: “Wow. That’s some pretty exciting meaningless mumbo jumbo! Can’t wait to go watch the prologue stage of the Tour de Nancy, or maybe a local parking lot crit!”

Stapleton: “People forget the attractiveness of the sport. There is no more dramatic or beautiful sport.”

Smedley Tunkins, bicycle commuter: “I’m not sure anorexia is all that attractive after the Karen Carpenter thing. But it is pretty dramatic to watch an alcoholic ex-doper screaming instructions into a microphone so his robot can follow the computer data to bring back a break. And by the way, what’s beautiful about falling off a bicycle?”

Stapleton: “Other sports that have used technology or revisited their format are prospering and we’re a little stagnant.”

Yvgenie O’Toole, amateur electrician. “Stagnant? Did he miss Fabian’s bike motor to win Flanders? And don’t cyclists have the best drug cocktails? We’re cutting edge. Always have been.”

Stapleton: “We have very little improvement in the economics for the large majority of riders. We have a lot of women who aren’t paid at all.”

Suzy Scathers, unpaid Pro Tour woman cyclist. “He says that as if finding the solution to not paying women is some kind of complex mystery.”

Stapleton: “The Tour of California is the absolute jewel of American racing. American teams need to have access to an event like that.”

Pooky McDoodle, Cat 4 crit boss. “I couldn’t agree more. Our team sponsor, Flubber’s Rubbers, would be so stoked to have us race the Tour of California. And I should add, we deserve a slot.”

Stapleton: “Europe is different from America, and America is different from Asia and Africa, we need to be mindful of that.”

Sanford Watlington III, Professor of International Relations, Harvard University: “Can we get this guy to be an adviser to the President, and have him repeat this sentence four or five times a day, slowly?”

Stapleton: “I think there is more that we can do in terms of … anti-doping …”

Wang Xing-Wen, Chinese pharmacist: “Hahahahaha!”

END

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Cheating?

November 23, 2017 Comments Off on Cheating?

Every time I buy a new bike it’s a little lighter than the last one. Paying for less carbon? Who’d a thought?

The exercise of bicycle upgrading, because it’s always an upgrade, lends itself to a disturbing question. Is it cheating?

Upgrades mean buying speed that people with less money can’t afford. It doesn’t make me better intrinsically, just (a tiny bit) faster. What’s the difference between buying that kind of speed and buying drugs to go faster? A friend here in the South Bay has an 8-lb. bike and he goes uphill very quickly. When you’re on his wheel gasping for air, it’s hard not to wonder why you shouldn’t cover the differential with drugs or a motor. Is there an ethical difference?

A guy I have a lot of respect for, an F8U fighter pilot who now competes in the “mature” 85-89 tri-dork category, emphatically says there is. “Yes, there is an ethical difference. We have rules for competition and WADA has a list of substances and methods that are prohibited.” He adds, “In parallel we have rules for bicycle technology.”

His argument is that fair competition is what’s in the rules. Follow them and you’re playing fair. Issues of price and cost and wealth? Why stop there? In order to have a truly level playing field we’d have to also consider limits on training so that people with greater financial constraints who have to work longer hours aren’t handicapped vis-a-vis the wealthy semi-retiree.

The problem of course is that he’s limiting the discussion to organized competitions that follow the WADA code. Our local group rides, as far as I know … don’t.

I don’t agree that the issue of buying faster stuff or using drugs is one to be decided by rules. I think the resolution lies with what each person is trying to do within the context of the activity. For example, even though there are no rules against it, using Viagra to enhance sexual performance doesn’t appeal to me. What my body is capable of, or not capable of, is enough. If the other person is unhappy, well, she has options that, as the Bob Seger song says, “Don’t include me.”

Although I’m not 85, I have been racing sanctioned road races for the entirety of my adult life, have been first a (very) few times, and have seen that rules don’t provide much guidance. They have always been broken with impunity and easily so, and now they are rendered meaningless by available drug and equipment technology, all easily concealed, or worse, allowed by the rules.

So the question is “What are you in it for?” Simply speed? Or simply going faster than the next person? Neither of those is simple.

I see zero difference between drugs and expensive equipment and private coaching and trust funds and motors in the daily riding of a bicycle. They are all means to an end and they are justified or ruled out according to the end.

In my case the end is silly and, while not simple, not terribly complex either: I want to beat as many people as I can in sanctioned road racing regardless of age or gender using moderately light equipment, electric motors in the form of an e-transmission, healthy diet, about ten hours of riding a week, experience, cunning, and skill. Those last six things receive more than 99 percent of my time and money. They are available to almost anyone, and the cunning/skill departments are still in vast need of improvement.

For me, the benefit to racing is intrinsic and therefore it depends on intrinsic qualities. How tough? How smart? How quick the recovery? How well did you assess the course and the competition? It is sad and empty when any part of my race, or for that matter my ride, boils down to whether or not I tinkered with or purchased a particular piece of equipment. Hence time trialing isn’t really bike racing, at least to me. It’s a complex computation combined with a complex purchasing matrix, with a big dollop of fitness on top. The drama of “machine against the clock” died a long time ago, and aero equipment hasn’t revived it. More and more, it has come to resemble motor sports, where the machine plays a much greater role than the meatbag piloting it.

In my lifetime of racing, this opinion has been the minority view. Most people compete in order to win and that is all. Not winning, more than anything else, is why people quit racing, or why they migrate into categories/events where they “stand a chance of winning.” Absent the victory or at least its promise, racing holds nothing for them intrinsically. Strava and its categories reflect this desire perfectly. I only know a handful of people road racing today who were doing it when I started, although there seems to be no shortage of people who hop in for a season or two until they realize that the ceiling is low and it will never raise much at all.

I accept that people use a completely different recipe and often wholly different ingredients. Some of those people I still beat no matter what the cocktail. Others are far beyond my reach. Still others never were within it. Consumerism and the economics behind developing and selling technology, as well as the amplification of “success” on social media continue the trend of emphasizing the external and demeaning the intrinsic. You can always post a photo of a trick bike, but it’s much harder to capture the satisfaction at finishing 25th in a mind-bendingly tough road race.

My best equipment … wasn’t equipment.

And my best wins … weren’t wins.

END

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Birdsong

November 22, 2017 Comments Off on Birdsong

David Vogel came to Vienna in 1912, perhaps by train, and I came to David Vogel in 2016, most definitely by bicycle. I was loitering in one of Vienna’s bookstores, gazing longingly at the memoirs of Stefan Zweig, and calculating how many euros I had left and how many books I could buy and still have enough cash left for the train ride to the airport.

Next to Zweig’s book was Vogel’s “Eine Wiener Romanze,” A Viennese Romance. The title sounded cheesy, and the photo, alas, caused me to judge the book by its cover. I bought Zweig’s book, hopped on the rental bike, and hurried back to the hotel.

A year later I was back on a rented bike, back in Vienna, back in the bookstore, and back in front of “A Viennese Romance.” This time money was no object; I had an extra twenty euros burning a fiery hole in my pocket. This time the title no longer sounded cheesy and the photo had become enticing, and I pulled the book off the shelf to read about it.

It didn’t escape me that “Vogel” means bird, and after only a few paragraphs it was clear that this bird could sing.

Although Vogel’s book had been written in the 1930’s, the manuscript had only been discovered in 2012 and published in 2015. The fact that it was a posthumous “find” made me like it even more, John Kennedy Toole-like, and I bought it. Then, I hurriedly pedaled over to a coffee shop and greedily began to read.

Vogel was an outsider, a wanderer, a dreamer, a daringly bold thinker, and a revolutionary writer all wrapped up in shabby formal clothing and hidden beneath a broad-brimmed black hat. He failed during his lifetime as a writer, but his time in Vienna was a dream. Drenched in poverty and introversion, he loitered at the Viennese coffeehouses, dodged starvation with subsistence jobs, lived a Bohemian existence not too far from Bohemia, and did so in the decidedly non-Bohemian, frugal, inward looking, spiritual, quiet life of a mostly ignored poet.

Vogel’s book, “A Viennese Romance,” is a cascading series of powerful pulses coming from the hilarious and observant and wry mind of the protagonist, who, like Vogel, is driven by lust, love, maddening desire, and the grinding conflicts that erupt like geysers as a result of a three-way love affair, which is the book’s central plot. It is one of those books that makes you laugh out loud even as it saturates you with the imagery and beauty and bustle of Vienna before the First World War, the epicenter of culture and thought and science and art and the place that bound those things together to make them flourish, the Viennese coffeehouse.

If there is something more brilliant and fine than reading a great novel about old Vienna in an old Viennese coffeehouse, I haven’t experienced it, to say nothing of the unspeakable pleasure of having gotten there by bicycle.

Despite his enduring gifts to world literature, Vogel himself had a life that was somewhat less expansive, something more truncated. He left Vienna for Paris in the 20’s and like an entire generation of scientists, artists, writers, and geniuses, was later murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

IMG_3737

A Viennese Romance

END

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“No comment.”

November 21, 2017 Comments Off on “No comment.”

I was going to make a list of the great things that have happened since kicking #socmed to the curb and returning to my real and rather strange life as opposed to drowning in the fake and manicured lives of others on Facebag, Stravver, and the Twitter.

Part of taking back my mind has also meant disabling the comments on my world infamous blog, the one you’re reading right now. Countless readers have emailed to ask about the fact that they can no longer comment. To each of these three concerned citizens I have said something like, “It was taking up too much time and it was too distracting.”

They have asked if it’s a temporary thing or if it’s permanent.

“Permanent.”

And they’ve said that reading the comments was half the fun of the blog, to which I can only say (to non-subscribers), “Losing half of $0.00 is still zero,” (and to my $2.99 subscribers) “You’re only getting ripped off $1.4950 a month, which isn’t too bad when you compare it to a venti pumpkin spice latte.”

Also, over the lifetime of this blog there have been exactly 35,608 comments posted, and since I’ve been pretty faithful responding to each one, well, that’s a lot of time. Let me rephrase that: It’s a colossal amount of time. The hashtag for that would be #enough. Even more time has been lost deleting spam and emptying all of the unread troll posts from trash, orphan bytes that have easily tripled or quadrupled the number of comments that actually made it through the filters.

One person was curious enough about this change to reach out and say, “Let’s go for a ride,” one of those funny instances where ditching virtual reality led immediately to real reality. It was a friend who I don’t see very often, a real friend, someone who I’d not hesitate to ask a favor from and who I’d not hesitate to help. We met up this morning at Malaga Cove and did a few loops around the golf course, during which time we talked about the #socmed plague, about how much was #enough, about whether #socmed killed people or people killed people, and about the Latigo hillclimb.

This conversation was nothing like any conversation I’ve ever had on #socmed. It involved sound waves, reflected and refracted light that revealed the changing contours of a real human, the faint scent of sweat, and the touch of a fist bump. My friend said a few things I disagreed with but after responding I couldn’t delete anything I said, and I couldn’t unfollow the parts of what he said that I didn’t like. Since it was just us, I didn’t think it was appropriate to share the conversation with anyone, even my wife, something made easier by the absence of a “share” button. We didn’t take any pictures of each other, and although no promises were made and no particularly intimate secrets were exchanged, I’m pretty sure the conversation and its contents will remain private, the way mundane things between friends used to always be, and therefore, through privacy, they became a strand that strengthened the bond of friendship. No matter what Facebook says, friendship isn’t strengthened by publicity, it’s destroyed by it.

The things we said to each other weren’t linked to any other platforms. They weren’t copied and pasted, and no third party was able to record and store those things we talked about for purposes of determining our future purchasing decisions. During the conversation no one popped in and asked us to buy something, and none of our other friends dropped by to unload upon us a news story about something we felt strongly about. Most peacefully, there wasn’t an endless string of side conversations between other friends that we had to listen to while carrying on our own. There was a kind of freedom in knowing that after the ride there wasn’t going to be anything to review, analyze, compare, dissect, kudo, or critique.

And when our conversation finished, there was silence, which, I once read somewhere, is golden.

END

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Playin’ possum

November 20, 2017 Comments Off on Playin’ possum

I have been feeling kind of sorry for my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ lately. He has gotten super old. I think he’s at least 56 or a 100. I can tell because he doesn’t go that good on the climbs anymore. G$ used to be the fastest climber anywhere, but I have ridden with him a few times lately and he is over the hill.

It’s a sad thing to see, a good buddy who’s a darn good ath-a-lete, one day going gangbusters and the next day all creaky-kneed and slow and hobbling around on a walker drinking pumpkin spice latte. I felt extra sorry for my good ol’ buddy ol’ pal because today was the second leg in the Big Orange a/k/a Team Lizard Collectors First Ever Annual Forevermore Galactic Championships, an amazing competition modeled after a bad haircut that includes a 1k TT, a hillclimb up Latigo Canyon in Malibu, and ten laps around Telo.

Today was the Latigo stage and like I said, it was bittersweet to see ol’ G$ show up, a shadow of his former self but still high-fiving and backslapping and being full of good cheer, like an old dog licking its master’s hand right before you take it out and shoot it. Latigo Canyon is a 40-minute climb if you are really fast, and ol’ G$, my good ol’ buddy ol’ pal, still has top 6 on one of the segments; the overall is owned by “Cookies” Gaimon, who stole it away from Doper McDopeface Levi Leipheimer.

It was a mass start and the thirty or so starters were nervous as they should have been because I had some fiery good legs and was not going to be taking any prisoners. My plan was to start slowly and then gradually ramp it up until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal. I didn’t want to drop him too quickly because if there’s one thing you learn over a lifetime of bike racing, it’s to show respect to your friends even when they are kind of broke down like one of Lee Iacocca’s K-Cars.

I had told Mrs. WM, who was traveling in the lead car to photo-document my impending victory, that I would be shattering the group at the ten-minute mark, so be ready.

The gun went off and Eric Bruins raced off the line like someone had stuck a string of lit Black Cats in his shorts. It was much faster than my plan stipulated, but I hopped on his wheel and waited. He is young and not too smart, so as soon as he blew up I would take over the pacemaking until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal.

After a few minutes Eric got really tired, exhausted and on the verge of collapse, actually, but he is one of those guys who likes to try and fake you out with fake toughness so he didn’t slow down at all. Then at about the time I was ready to gradually ramp it up until the searing pain inflicted by my tremendous power whittled the group down to five or six, including G$, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ executed a silly, pointless, hopeless, very amateur, desperation attack.

It was everything he had (which wasn’t much), he went all out, which was kind of sad but I also respected it at the same time. He was going to splat but at least he would do it with panache. Eric hustled onto his wheel, still pretending not to be tired, and I hustled onto Eric’s wheel breathing kind of hard not because I was in the box but because I wanted them to know I wasn’t fooled. Behind me were four other riders, which meant seven, total.

I laughed to myself, because my plan had been to whittle it down to five or six, not six or seven, and we had one wanker too many. About this time poor old brokedown, creaky-kneed, a-little-bit-confused ol’ G$ did another fake attack, this one about as hopeless as the first one. I could see people get worried, but I didn’t get worried at all. I just figured I would let them all go and catch up to them later because I wasn’t quite ready to ramp up my tremendous power yet. Plus, it would make my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ feel good to have a little bit of a glory pull by himself with all those 20-and-30-year olds glued to his wheel with their faces all twisted and looking like they were giving a rectal childbirth.

About the time they all disappeared, if only for a moment, Mrs. WM came by with her camera. “Are you winning?” she asked and of course I nodded.

After what seemed like a few hours, along came Hiroyuki, Penta, and Maxson. They were going at a good clip because Hiroyuki was doing all the work while Penta and Maxson skulked at the back. I figured I would help them skulk so I jumped on. I would catch my breath before powering up to my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$ and attacking him with my tremendous power.

For some reason, Hiroyuki decided not to slow down which made it very hard for me to gather my tremendous power. Penta and Maxson kept trying to skulk onto my wheel but I started playing possum, breathing like a dying man, wobbling, asking for my mother, and refusing to move so much as an inch towards that nasty and awful place filled with bad memories known as “the front.”

Penta and Maxson were not too pleased so they attacked me on the downhill, giving Hiroyuki a few moments’ rest and scaring the bejeezus out me. Hiroyuki then went back to the front and continued to stymie my tremendous power as I, Penta, and Maxson rolled over each others’ tongues, livers, and breakfast. Fortunately, about a quarter mile from the end I began to feel lively and fresh at just about the time that ol’ Penta and Maxson and Hiroyuki, tired from doing all the work, began to do the Bike Racer Arithmetic of “How do I not get last out of the grupetto?”

I jumped hard, throwing down a tremendous 200 watts or maybe 205 and sprunted past them, when up ahead of me, Ivan the Terrible, who had been dropped from the leaders way back in September, looked back and saw me coming on. No matter how tired he was, the thought of being pipped by cranky Gramps in the last hundred yards put the fear of dog into him and he took off like someone had put the other string of lit Black Cats in his shorts.

I almost caught him and would have if the road had been longer, which is Biker Speak for “he beat me,” and when I crossed the line, there he was, my ol’ buddy ol’ pal G$, having dropped everyone on the way to the top and completed the 40-minute climb in 37 minutes.

“Not bad for a guy who’s all washed up,” I said.

“Thanks, ol’ buddy ol’ pal,” he said. And he meant it.

 

Awesome photos courtesy of Geoff Loui and Yasuko Davidson.

END

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