It’s a wrap!

May 13, 2016 § 19 Comments

Final Standings 2016 Tour de Leaky Prostates

  1. Russell dB a/k/a Ol’ Grizzles: At 63 years old, Russell completed every ride, won multiple climbs, gave everyone incessant shit, and made us all hope we’ll be half as good when we’re his age. Russell was the glue that brought us all together and the glue that did its level best to gum up the works. Filled with excuses and starting each day with a shopping list of ailments and complaints, he was hands-down the champion of this year’s tour.
  2. Tore M-E a/k/a Munch: Tore organized, planned, and carefully built consensus for each ride so that he could jettison the plans at Mile One and turn even (especially) recovery rides into 8-hour death marches. Strong on the flats, strong on the climbs, and strong at the dinner table, Tore’s riding and travel planning were matched only by his kindness and good cheer.
  3. Leiv M. a/k/a Chef Leiv: There is the power of the purse and then there is the power of the pot. Leiv kept us rolling in great food, gladly shopped for the entire crew, helped the rookies cook the Rookie Dinner, and showed himself a tenacious climber and champion descender. He was the only Norwegian who showed any interest in the finer points of kit coordination.
  4. Hector G. a/k/a SITL: Up at 4:00 AM, Hector made sure the coffee pot was always full and the kitchen spotless. Friendly and funny he tore our legs off on every flat, and never complained (okay, he complained a little) when the endless climbing began. Always ready with an encouraging word and of course coffee. Did I mention coffee?
  5. Brian S.: The strongest rider on the flats, Brian tied us daily to the whipping post and got in his lashes and we returned the favor on every climb. Always ready to lend a hand, he ate almost as much oatmeal as Stig.
  6. Bruce M.: Winner of the Almost Killed in a Head-on Collision jersey, Bruce acquitted himself with valor and distinction whether uphill, downhill, or no hill. Easily the coolest and most easygoing rider in the Tour, he never skipped a pull in the paceline, laundry, or kitchen detail.
  7. Sverre H.: Thoughtful, considerate, and winner of the Best Rider with the Least Training jersey, Sverre also did a great job of helping me get lost one night when we’d been sent out to buy wine. On his rest day he did a 6-hour hike over 20km of rugged mountains, nothing at all for a Viking.
  8. Dan P.: The only recovering triathlete in the bunch, Dan was game for every torture session planned by Tore but always smart enough to cut things short when it meant surviving to fight another day. Dan won the Most Chainring Marks on His Leg jersey despite strong competition from Mega-Tron.
  9. Steve B.: Every group has one guy who gives 1,000 more than he gets, and Steve was that guy. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, running errands, and riding super tough every single day made him our most valued national asset.
  10. Jonathan L. a/k/a J-Lo: Jonathan would have placed much higher had he not missed the first three stages due to an expired passport that he didn’t check until the night before. No one helped more, cleaned more, or was more cheerfully part of the peloton than Jonathan, and he was the only American to complete the full hard day of Sa Colabra.
  11. Trond O. a/k/a Mega-Tron: Smartest guy in the room and the most allergic to lending a hand with anything except when it came to helping us dispose of food and drink. Funny, energetic, and game for all short, flat rides that started later than noon, there was no political discussion he wouldn’t start. Most laughs per minute, hands down.
  12. Stig a/k/a Stigosaurus: Huge disappointment. Quitter. Never lifted a finger but always ate his fill.
  13. Trond ? a/k/a Posi-Tron: Nicest guy and a super climber, but fell to the bottom of the leaderboard by making himself Stig’s disciple.
  14. Oystein H.: No-show for the worst reason possible, work.
  15. Seth D. a/k/a Wanky: Someone’s gotta be last.


END

Once is not enough

May 12, 2016 § 15 Comments

Ol’ Grizzles had a serious problem with his bike beginning yesterday morning. While we were oiling our inner tubes and adjusting our junk prior to the crack-of-noon rollout, Shit in the Lane looked over at O.G.’s rear wheel.

“Dude, your rear wheel looks like it has a little hop in it.”

O.G. gave the wheel a spin. “No, it doesn’t. It’s fine.”

“I noticed it yesterday after you took that funky line going through that little switchback.”

O.G. spun the wheel again. “You’re nuts. The wheel is fine.” But now O.G. was concerned because he is an equipment fanatic.

“It’s probably nothing. Those little micro-hops don’t mean anything. You can true it up in a heartbeat anyway.”

Another spin. “There’s nothing wrong with this wheel,” insisted O.G.

Dan, who was in on it and pretending not to pay attention, said, “Hey, Russ. Did you know your rear wheel has a little hop in it?”

“Fuck you.”

“Since we’re going flat no biggie. But keep an eye on it.”

“You guys are all idiots. The wheel is fine.”

All day people would drop behind him for a few minutes. “Your wheel definitely has a hop in it,” was the universal consensus regarding the perfectly true wheel.

The next morning O.G. was up early fretting about the non-hop. “I think I better take it to the shop.”

We all agreed since Thursday was a mountainous day. “You don’t want that wheel falling apart on one of these crazy descents,” we said.

O.G. went down to the shop. “I think there’s a hop in this wheel,” he said.

The mechanic threw it on the truing stand. “No. It is perfectly true.”

“You need to check the tension. Everyone says it has a hop in it.”

The wrench checked the spokes. “There is less tension on the drive side, for sure.”

“I knew it!” said O.G. “Get that fixed, will ya?”

“No. I cannot.”

“What do you mean? You’re a mechanic, arencha?”

“I can’t fix it because it’s not broken. The drive side always has less tension. That’s how one builds a bicycle wheel. That will be nine euros, please.”

O.G. came back to the villa. “Get your wheel all trued up?” SITL said with a straight face while everyone made that constipated look from holding in a side-splitting laugh.

“Fuck all of y’all.”

Thursday’s menu offered a 10km climb out of Selva then a 10km descent to the bottom of Sa Colabra, one of the most incredible climbs in Disneycycleland. The group set the absolute launch time for 10:0 AM, which on Oslo time means perhaps 10:30, perhaps 11:00, but in no event later than the time that they eventually leave.

10:00 AM pointy-sharp, however, was my launch time, in the finest of South Bay coffee cruise traditions. Naturally, I left alone, although the spirit of Major Bob was with me. Out of Selva I was immediately caught by a Dutch guy in his 20’s riding “tempo,” which is a word cyclists use when they are trying to kick the shit out of someone without grimacing. I hung on for a few km in misery until I realized that something really bad had happened; two riders had bridged up to us.

When you are on the rivet sitting on a wheel early in a long climb and someone chases you down like a crippled rat you know that a bad situation is about to get worse, which it did. The two riders, who were wearing Mexican jerseys, chatted.
“Are you warmed up?”

“Yes.”

“We should stretch our legs then.”

“Yes, this fellow is too slow.”

“Okay, then. What about the abuelo?”

“He seems ready for the medics. His breathing is very deep and distressed.”

“Indeed. Vamonos.”

So he vamonosed and the Dutch stud, as seen through the rearview mirror, was not closer than he appeared, but rather vanishingly small, and then simply vanished.

The leg stretching commenced and each rider took turns stretching until by my estimation their legs should have been twenty yards long with my neck getting stretched in the process until the second Mexican over-stretched and stretched himself out the back door. The remaining Mexican, displeased at losing his friend and mightily displeased at being stuck with the abuelo, started stretching in earnest.

The switchbacks in Mallorca create a very different climbing scenario from the long climbs in the Santa Monicas. The switchbacks come every hundred yards or so to keep the grade from getting too steep, so instead of wearing out your opponent on a long grade you punch it through and past the turn, preferably taking the steepest line through the turn, which forces the following rider to also punch until it becomes a contest of who can take the most blows to the face. In this case I got one too many smash in the teeth about 500 yards from the pass, shattering next to a walking bridge filled with high school hikers who, seeing the snot and drool and hearing the death rattle began cheering and screaming “Allez! Allez! Allez!” which totally made it worth the three years that were deducted from my lifespan as a result of the effort.

From there it was a stupendous downhill to the foot of Sa Colabra, where you do a short 3km climb then descend for seven miles to the sea. Then at the bottom if you have any sense you grab a cup of coffee and contemplate the profound blue of the Mediterranean while going out of your way not to contemplate the return route, which is One Way Up.

For the first time in Mallorca I took the lead on a climb and two young DINSFD’s (indeterminate Danish-Icelandic-Norwegian-Swedish-Finnish-Dutch person) went with me. They must have been deep in the hurt locker because they were chatting, talking, laughing, and discussing various current events. Soon the little DINSFD’s were really suffering because their laughter was slightly less, maybe. I hammered the shit out of them the rest of the climb until they were yelling in fear until I realized they were screaming because while we were going up SITL was bombing down and seeing me he swerved into our lane as if he were going to hit us head-on and the DINSFD’s crapped their pants before he swerved away at the last minute.

The remaining climbs included the long haul up to the tunnel that takes you down to Soller, but a few words about that descent: It is 20km of immaculate tarmac with only a handful of hairpins on a wide road with zero traffic overlooking valleys and mountain peaks as amazing as anything on earth. The bike freefalls for so long so fast that you get mentally numb to the sensation of screaming downhill.

From the town at the bottom you take the massive 16km Soller climb, which is rife with mule trolling opportunities. I snagged a young DINSFD who fell for the old heavy breathing trick but then I roped an old British fucker who was trolling for people like me, and it was a shitty feeling when I realized he’d roped me at my own game and he kicked my butt all the way to the top, occasionally looking back to grin.

The downhill into Bunyola is long and twisty and technical, highlighting another marvelous feature of Mallorca; its amazing diversity of descents. Whether you are a terrible downhiller like me or a master of the universe like Gussy, there’s something here to enjoy and use to improve. From Bunyola there is one more major climb followed by a short ascent followed by sweet deserted mountain and country roads all the way home.

Back at the ranch we sat around and lied about our exploits while marveling at Bruce’s GoPro footage of avoiding a head-on collision in full flight down the Sa Colabra. Dinner was served and breakfast inhaled and we faced the grim realization that with only one day left we still hadn’t ridden enough … and as long you’re in Mallorca you probably never will.

END

Monks and goats

May 11, 2016 § 5 Comments

The other night we had paella with prawns. It sure was good. Then a couple of days went by and we realized that something was rotten in the state of Denmark because we had dumped the prawn heads in the trash and left them to mature with the other garbage in a 7-foot mountain piled up against the kitchen wall.

If you have ever wondered how much trash people generate I can assure you that it is an inconceivable amount. In six days we were awash in everything except feminine hygiene products and since it was all in the kitchen the stench got us to thinking it might be a good idea to throw it away.

Unlike America, where you dig a giant hole next to some poor people and bury all your trash, in Spain the garbage is separated and collected in a complex ritual that none of us cared to learn.

“Dude,” said Shit in the Lane, “this is the nastiest smell ever. It’s those fucking prawn heads.”

“Let’s go put all this shit in the dumpster,” said Brian.

“Be sure all that rotten prawn head juice leaks into our OK Rental,” said Ol’ Grizzles, who was still pissed about the $30 “handling fee” for gasoline.
We loaded up the cargo area but the stench was so bad we had to leave the hatch open with all the windows down and it was still so terrible we all got nosebleeds. The rotten prawn head juice overpowered all else.

“At least we don’t have to touch it,” said SITL.

“Hurry up and get to the dumpster,” said Brian, who was in the back seat. “I’m about to pass out.”

Shit in the Lane promptly got lost and since we had the hatch open everyone was honking and pointing and yelling, “Your hatch is open!” Then they would get a whiff of the trailing fumes and quit shouting, kind of like if you were driving a door-to-door shit sandwich truck. By this time the bag with the rotten heads had split and on the downhills it created a rivulet of rotted prawn that drained into the driver’s floorboard.

“What the fuck is that?” SITL said as the heel of his sock soaked up a few tablespoons of disgusting juice.

We kept not finding the dumpsters until, what was worse, we did and learned that all the garbage had to be separated. “Separated?” Said SITL. “I’m not opening up that shit.”

“Have to,” I said. “The prawn heads are mixed up with all the bottles and plastic. Says right there you have to separate it all out.”

“Fuck that. I ain’t touching that shit.”
Brian and I got out the bags and started pulling out the bottles which were dripping and stinking and it drizzled all over our hands and down our elbows until we actually smelled worse than the stuff we were throwing away.

SITL was adamant. “Don’t touch me!”
Of course that was exactly the wrong thing to say so we put our arms around him and tousled his hair. Back at the villa we bathed in turpentine and got ready to do the Monastery Ride. This was an easy short recovery ride designed by Munch, whose easy short recovery rides were not noticeably different from his hard long competitive rides.

The ride went up to a 16th Century monastery called Santuari de Cura which was pretty and all that but after we lunched on rabbit and got back on our bikes the road descended into a gently curving downhill tailwind slalom course on wheels that kicked our speed up to 42 where it stayed for five solid miles, the most amazing, whipping, brakeless free fall on a bike I’ve ever even imagined possible.

This ride was also different because the day before Team Norway had stolen a march on Team America, with Chef Leiv winning the lighthouse climb to Cap Tormentor, and Munch throttling everyone on the way back. These two powerful performances were enough to get Team Losingourpensionsnothankstoimmigrants out of negative digits and back to 0, meaning that with a bit of luck they might get to within a few thousand points by century’s end.

Consequently the ride was declared an official rest day of 95 miles and only 8,000 feet of climbing. Although we hadn’t been rained on once, this was the first truly spectacularly sunny day, Mallorca in her most fetching colors. The combination of cobalt sky, green mountains, luscious olive groves, and bleating goats humping in every field was unforgettable, and made us all think lovingly and longingly of our waiting wives back home.

END

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

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the vacation

May 7, 2016 § 6 Comments

Our first full day in the Disneycycleland of Mallorca was magical. The cold drizzle of the day before had given way to a pounding, freezing deluge. Wracked by a headache, jet lag, and the nausea resulting from going to bed the night before with a stomach filled with sperm (whale), I staggered from the love cabana through the mud and driving rain at 4:00 AM to get a cup of coffee and escape from Ol’ Grizzles’s snore-farts.

The giant oaken door was bolted but after a bit of pounding, crying, and begging, Brian came down to let me in. I was soaked to the skin but relentless in my pursuit of coffee. Rafael had given me detailed instructions regarding parking, garbage recycling, trash collection days, proper use of the breakers, and an explicit prohibition on tampons in the toilet (advice intended for Ol’ Grizzles) but the only thing I had paid attention to were the three industrial coffee machines in the kitchen.

None of them worked.

One by one the hungover riders awoke ¬†coffee, and the look of desperation on their faces when I announced “No coffee, fuckers!” was so awesome that I resolved to make that the standard morning greeting.

As the day wore on and the rain intensified, people became increasingly depressed at the thought that we would be cooped up in a historic villa with a world-class chef, delicious provisions, hard liquor and farts. Rafael had stocked the fridge with a four-foot long pastry filled with custard, whipped cream, honey, berries, and chocolate topping. Worst of all, the kitchen knives were too dull to slit our wrists after being overcome with guilt at the 5,000-calorie breakfast, so instead we glumly watched while Steve and Leiv began preparing a slow-cook tomato sauce for tomorrow’s dinner.

By 4:30 the split-pea soup and fresh salmon sashimi were ready, so we ate some more until Shit in the Lane threw down his fourth helping of whipped cream log and said, “Fuck it, I’m riding.”
We all made fun of him because even though the rain had lessened it was overcast and cold. “You will get soaked and frozen to shit.”

“I didn’t come to Mallorca to sit on the couch with you idiots,” he said.

He kind of had a point so Bruce, Munch, Brian, Ol’ Grizzles and I kitted up and rolled out. It was still spitting rain and none of us had rain jackets and O.G. was complaining about his rental bike like a teenage girl trying on jeans. “This stem is too short and the top tube is too short which is preventing my thighs from engaging properly and the bars are 38’s which are constricting my lungs and the gear ratios are all wrong plus my cranks are 165mm on the left side and 175mm on the right and the saddle is putting too much pressure on my … ”

“Shut the fuck up, we’re not even out of the driveway,” we said and the ride began.

We immediately hit a small climb and Shit in the Lane got dropped and then Bruce’s lungs fell off and Brian realized he needed his 3-foot torque wrench and O.G. gave up and Munch went backwards and we rode some more and the rain stopped and the sun came out and we were whipping down the lanes next to ancient stone walls as birds flitted overhead and Mallorca lifted her skirt a few inches and really began showing her charms.

After a couple of hours we got back, hungry and psyched and happy to deride our so-called friends who had opted to stay at the villa and plow a few more feet through the whipped cream log. Since we only had two cars we decided to ride en masse into the town of Lloseta for dinner.

“There is a very nice restaurant there listed in the Guide Michelin,” our chef, Spermy Leiv advised.

“Fuck that,” said Shit in the Lane. “I don’t want to eat at no place recommended by a tire catalog.” We tried to explain that it wasn’t a tire catalog but rather a restaurant guide but he thought it was a trick so we gave up, like when you try to convince a 3-year-old to eat beets.

We got there and requested a table for eleven and they laughed. “Our next vacancy is in October.”

Now it was late and we were really hungry so we went to a restaurant that had a big sign saying “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” and they took one look at us and immediately exercised the right. So then we went to a pizza place and Shit in the Lane drank another gallon of vodka and we all had performance ice cream and brownies except for Stigosaurus who swung by after finishing his 300km ride.

“You want dinner?” we asked him.

Stig’s craggy face, expressive as a gorilla’s butt, shook his head. “I eated da dinner already.”

“What did you eat? You been riding all day in the fucking rain,” said Ol’ Grizzles.

“I had da cup uff oatmeal and salt,” he said. “Stig have full stomach. Stig have balls of iron.”

We all agreed and left Munch with the bill. Now it was pitch black and we pedaled through the dark streets almost crashing each other out until we got back home. The sky had cleared and the stars were brilliant. Tomorrow was going to be an epic day.

END

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