Porte offers exclusive tour of motorhome on way home from Giro

May 26, 2015 § 16 Comments

Team Sky leader Richie Porte retired from the Giro d’Italia today and offered journalists a personal tour around the customized motorhome that will drive him from Italy to his home in Tasmania, where he plans to take a well deserved rest from two grueling weeks of racing. As he piloted the posh Mercedes-Benz Panzer IV Kustom around the docks of Naples, Cycling in the South Bay took a moment to talk with him.

Cycling in the South Bay: So, what are you doing here in Naples?

Richie Porte: Well, I retired from the Giro today and am headed back home to Tasmania.

CitSB: But why Naples?

RP: Oh, I’m just looking for the bridge. It’s got be around here somewhere.

CitSB: The bridge?

RP: To Tasmania, mate. This thing don’t float, y’know.

CitSB: Right. So, what happened in the Giro?

RP:  Well, this is a pretty cool motorhome, eh?

CitSB: It’s incredible. Really first class.

RP: That’s what you gotta have when you’re the team leader, mate.

CitSB: But there’s still another week left in the Giro, and the queen stage on the Motirolo is tomorrow, and, well, with the 27 minutes you lost yesterday, plus the four minutes in the TT and the two minutes with the wheel change and the other two minutes with the crash, you’re not really the team leader anymore, are you? Especially since you’ve, you know, quit.

RP: Oh, right, that. Hey check out this espresso machine. Soy out of this spigot, steamed milk here, whipped cream over here. Pretty cool, eh?

CitSB: Yes, it’s awesome. So what happened? Before the race when you were offering tours of the motorhome, there was criticism that you should be staying in a hotel like your teammates.

RP: Right? Hey, when you take a leak in the john be sure to gel your hands with that antibiotic cream. I don’t want to get sick, eh?

CitSB:  Do you think being isolated from the team hurt you?

RP:  I don’t think so, not at all. It was the team’s idea anyway, not mine.

CitSB: Really? Why did they want you to sleep out in the parking lot instead of in the hotel?

RP: Oh, it’s a little thing I’ve had since I was a wee ‘un.

CitSB: What’s that?

RP: It’s nothing really, just a bit of a bed wetting habit I’ve had for a while, since I was three, actually.

CitSB: And how did that affect the team’s decision to put you in a bus in the parking lot?

RP: Well, we sleep in bunks in the hotel, and since I’m the team leader I always get the top bunk. So y’know, the blighter down below gets rained on all night.

CitSB: That sounds pretty grim.

RP: Oh, it was. It was even worse when I rode for Saxo Bank and had to bunk with Sven Gunderhausen. He was a bedwetter too, and Bjarne was always trying to cure us of it, so one night he’d put me in the top bunk and the next night he’d put Sven in the top bunk, so one of us or the other was always getting a bit of a golden shower.

CitSB: Jeez.

RP: Yeah, finally we took to sleeping in full rain gear, but on Sky it was just me, so the team voted for the motorhome. Hey, check this out.

CitSB: What is it?

RP: It’s an automatic wet wipes dispenser with a little reservoir here for baby powder you can put on your bum after you get wet.

CitSB: These motorhomes have everything.

RP: Yeah, they really do.

CitSB: Except for a pink jersey. This one doesn’t seem to have one of those.

RP: Right?

CitSB: Right.

END

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The great handlebar doping nontroversy of 2015

May 25, 2015 § 6 Comments

The last time Mrs. WM and Jr. came to watch me race was in 2008 at the Dana Point Grand Prix. With a few laps to go in the Calcium Deficiency and Low Test Category, Matt Hahn decided not to wait until he became an octogenarian and instead broke his hip on the straightaway in a terrible bicycle-falling-off-incident .

Far from the crash and in no real danger myself, in sympathy with the carnage I flung my bike onto the tarmac as hard as I could, bounced a couple of times in front of my shocked son and wife, then limped bleeding off the course and over to the beer garden where I fortified myself with two pints of IPA before soldiering on to complete the 35+ race DFL.

Today was going to be different, and it was. The Barry Wolfe Grand Prix took off helter-skelter at 10:15 AM with 50 minutes of frolic on the menu, which frolic quickly degenerated into volleys of attacks so vicious and cruel that by the third lap a bloodthirsty pack of wolves consisting of The Hand of God a/k/a THOG, Genghis Hahn, Gorilla in the Nist, Naugahyde, and Bullet rolled up the road.

I was just coming off a hard effort and recognized through the spit and blood clots that this was probably The Move, so I stretched across the open windy Serengeti and somehow latched onto the wheels of these Titans of the Drippy Prostate. Much pain ensued, and it ensued immediately.

THOG settled into a steady breakaleg breakaway pace of mymaximumspeedever+3 mph, and that strange time-space-continuum effect snapped into place whereby your time on the front seems like an hour but your time resting seems like a subunit of a nanosecond even though from the perspective of a person standing on a train it seems quite the other way around.

Once the breakaway was established, THOG ordered us all to begin riding in earnest, and the increased speed was so severe that Bullet began taking, shall we say, slight sabbaticals at the back, and Genghis began interspersing his cupcake pulls with blistering accelerations that coincided with the ringing of a bell later identified as “cash primes.”

Through it all I failed to notice that sticking off the front of Genghis’s handlebars like a cowcatcher was an apparatus that resembled two pieces of rebar welded together by the detonation of a phosphorous bomb, twisted, out-jutting handles sloping down, short and low, that were in fact 1990’s-era vintage aero bars. We will skip over for just a moment the fact that Genghis rides a top of the line TIME bike which, even with concrete wheels, would weigh less than the rebar Spinacis that were dangling off the front of his bike.

We will also skip over the fact that he never seemed to use them.

What we will focus on is the fact that in addition to cupcake pulls and prime-snagging he burst from the break with 200 meters to go and cleanly whipped the snot out of the shattered remnants of our brokedown palace.

There aren’t many rules in cycling, but there is at least this one: Thou shalt not fuck with THOG.

He’s not the patron, the boss, the head honcho, the universally acknowledged master of the universe, he’s much more than that. He’s the final arbiter of the pig trough. What, you ask, is the pig trough? It is this, written in Book of Degenesis, Chapter One, Verse One:

Life and cycling is a pig trough. Many are the pigs who belly up to the trough and seek to snurfle out its rinds, garbage, and tasty bits of rotten things unfit for human consumption. Yet before thou shalt be allowed to stick thy greedy snout into the trough, thou must contribute to it, and the pig that seeks to swill without giving his fair share shall be excommunicated from the house of pigs and forced to sprunt with the wankers back in the field.

It is a hard law, but immutable, and when Genghis swilled all the cash primes and guzzled the victory he was ratted out to the officials, who promptly convened a Reading of the Rule Book. Once the four officials had assembled their fifteen IQ points, Genghis addressed the genitals of the jury by citing to Rule 1I1(d).

In road, track, or cyclo-cross races, handlebars with ends, features, or attachments that extend forward or upward or that provide support for other than the rider’s hands are permitted only in time trial and pursuit events (not in Team Sprint); however, attachments that point upward on the brakehoods of road bicycles are allowed if the distance between them is greater than 25 cm (9.8 inches).

According to Genghis, the first clause of this sentence allowed his aero rebar attachments because they pointed down, not upward. The prosecution’s case, adeptly argued by THOG, countered that Genghis’s reading was selective, as no attachments are permitted that provide support for other than the rider’s hands, and Genghis’s attachments clearly provided support for his wrists, forearms, and also perhaps for his forehead.

Expert witnesses testified for the defense, but on cross they appeared to have spent too much time in the beer tent and the court granted the prosecution’s Daubert challenge and excluded the expert testimony.

THOG made his concluding argument to the jury, urging them to DQ Genghis because he “rode like a prick,” and a unanimous verdict tossed out Genghis’s glorious victory and awarded it to Old Naugahyde, who was urged to use the winnings for some skincare products and a visit to the dermatologist.

Most importantly for me, my sixth-place-out-of-six in the breakaway was instantly upgraded to fifth, which only vaguely compensated for the fact that I’d ridden like a complete maroon, had smashed the pedals at the wrong time, attacked from the front, and generally made a fool out of myself.

On the bright side, Mrs. WM got some great photos of Genghis, and Jr. was proud of his dad for not crashing again.

END

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Why were you going so slow?

May 23, 2015 § 19 Comments

Everything has to fall into place:

  • The Wily Greek was off to do the Mt. Hamilton Liver Rip-Out road race.
  • Destroyer had been off the bike for five weeks.
  • Frenchy #1 was MIA after the Torrance Crit manglefest.
  • Strava Jr. was taking time off after being run over.
  • The previous week had been graduation, so everyone was partied out.
  • I was fresh, having rested for three days.
  • I’m down 14 pounds from December.
  • I never took a pull.

When Frenchy #2 went, I followed but never came through.

When DudeChick went, I never even thought about coming through.

At the base of the Switchbacks Frenchy #2 blasted off.

Sausage, who had tried to prolong his time with the leaders by imitating my wheelsuckery, was immolated, instantly.

Each time I glued up to Frenchy #2’s wheel, he would rest, then attack again, harder. You can do that when you’re 22.

Halfway up the Switchbacks I looked back from my group of five and saw Sausage, a tiny speck of Speck, perfecting his power profile.

Frenchy #2 finally cracked after his seventh frenzied acceleration.

We were all gassed, and the goup slowed. Behind us the field was naught but splinters of shrapnel and spent shell casings.

Uglypedal towed me, DudeChick, and Destroyer up to the college.

Sausage got to within fifty yards, then stalled as if a giant artillery shell had flung itself down his throat.

For the first time all morning I punched it, gingerly, and shed Destroyer as Uglypedal raised the white flag.

I’ve never shed Destroyer before.

DudeChick came by. He weighs 120 lbs.

I compressed and hunkered onto his wheel.

I’ve never kept him company past the little wall leading up Crest, but I did today.

He unloaded the minenwerfers, the 5.9’s, the Maxims, the giant field guns, and finally the poison gas shells.

But I hung on because I knew that even though he is only 27 and I am 51, and neither one of us can sprunt, he can sprunt somewhat less than I can.

With 200m to go I took my second faceful of wind for the day and got to the top first.

On the descent I regained breath, vision, and the palpitations slowed.

In the parking lot at the college I waited for the inevitable adulation and recognition for this, the greatest ride of my life.

Sausage arrived much later, appearing from his distant time zone. “Dude,” he said. “Why were you guys going so slow?”

END

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The anticipation of absence makes the heart grow fonder

May 22, 2015 § 14 Comments

I don’t care what anyone says, 28 years of marriage is a long time in the dentist’s chair, and if you think things are still as fresh as they were 27.5 years ago, you are in the advanced stages of senility. We used to have a deal where Mrs. WM would put up with me for nine months and I with her, and then during the summer she would waltz back to Japan with the kids.

It was great for her. Going home meant someone else cooking, someone else cleaning, and someone else minding the Small Ones Who Choose Never To Mind. It also meant speaking her real language, and of course PARTEEEEEEEEEEEE, every single day. How do I know this? Because when we’d speak on the phone it went like this:

Me: How are things going?

Her: Okay.

Me: Just “okay”?

Her: Yes.

Me: I suppose you’re dying to come back already?

Her: Yes, very much. Too bad I have to wait onna twelve more weeks. So sadly.

And you know what? She always came back refreshed, ready for nine more months of drudgery and interminable tales about how Wanker McGee attacked, but I was ready for him and countered, and then Billy Bumfugg followed, and then we were away, but the field pulled us back, and then I went again but this time Wanker followed, then countered, and Smedley Offalnipple touched wheels and BAM! he went down, so Billy bunnyhopped Smedley’s skull, mostly, and then … I need to buy a new frame and some wheels, okay honey?

For me it was equally awesome. Much as I loved my wife, I really loved her when she was gone, and not just gone around the corner for a jug of milk. I’m talking nine thousand miles gone. Gone through a dozen time zones. Gone where toilet lids could stay up, pee could sprinkle on the rim, toothbrush caps could remain unscrewed, new life forms could mutate in the sink, farts could waft blissfully up through the covers, and underwear could be worn over and over and over and no one would ever say squat.

I could wake up, ride my bike all day, come home to a quiet hovel, go to floor for nine hours, and do it all over again.

“But Wanky! You must have been miserable! She’s such a great cook! How did you survive without all that fresh bread?”

How did I survive? Let me tell you about something called Van Camp’s Pork & Beans and Spam and peanut butter and bananas and coffee and beer and eggs and salsa and tortilla chips. If you can’t live like a prince on that for three months, then you aren’t trying.

Did I miss the great home cooking? Of course! Did I miss it enough to want to go back to fartless nights under the covers and sitting down to piss? No way!!!!

Then, somehow, poverty went from being an abstraction to a concrete thing as the children grew, we ran out of hand-me-downs (the boys never liked having to wear their sister’s dresses anyway), and summer schedules became intractable. We ran out of money, we ran out of time, and we ran out of them simultaneously.

So, Mrs. WM stopped taking her refresher trips, which was hard on me, hard on her, and probably hardest of all on her seven or eight ex-high school boyfriends back in Japan. And along with our straitened situation, the spark and sizzle started to go out of our boring and totally predictable marriage. That dull lump of last week’s tasteless meatloaf we called marriage had lost the excitement and flair that it never had.

You can imagine how amazed I was when we both looked at each other and realized that for the first time in ten years her summer wasn’t going to be tied down by kids. The tickets were bought in a flash, and the minute that they cleared the four credit cards we had to cobble together to run the charge, the old meatloaf flared up a little. It was still cold leftovers, but with a little something extra.

Then, as each day passed and the day of departure neared, the cold meatloaf warmed up and the flavor returned. One morning as I stood there scrubbing a thick crust of cold bacon grease off the skillet, I thought of my sweetheart, still in bed and probably not even farting. A golden warmth spread throughout as I anticipated dropping her off at the airport and saying “See ya!” for a full fiscal quarter.

But before I brought her coffee in bed I got on the computer and did a quick cost comparison for a new frame, and maybe some wheels, too. She hadn’t even left, and I missed her already.

END

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Youthful crotches and shaved cats’ balls

May 21, 2015 § 60 Comments

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but if you want to do it quickly, hop on a triathlete chat forum. A friend sent me this link, which better judgment and common sense urged me not to click, but I am the reason that viruses, trojans, and clickbait always work.

Here it is, I dare you not to click, but be forewarned … it is a lethal computer virus that will infest your hard drive, your soft drive, and your sex drive as it vacuums up all of your personal data and sells your SSN, DOB, and bank accounts to Russian Internet thieves and Oleg Dickov for $2.99.

Clicked yet? Yes?

Then you have seen that an anonymous tri-dork self styled as “Duffy” has written a nasty little diatribe about one of the local West Side heroes who dared to take the lane on PCH while Duffy was hurrying to his cat testicle shaving appointment. Now before we get into the substance of Duffy’s complaint, which is that Our Hero should have been in the bike lane (there isn’t one, as the sheriff can now tell you), let’s all take a minute to appreciate Duffy’s online presence in Ye Olde Tri-dork Chatte Forum, and we might as well begin with his self described occupation as “Murders and Executions.” (Viewable, along with his profile pics, to members only).

So you see, Duffy is funny.

But he has a serious side, too, and since it focuses on vulvas, what better way to proclaim his passion to the world than with a profile picture of a woman’s crotch? Detached from a body or a face, Duffy’s idea of a woman is apparently a vulva in a miniskirt. I’ll take a wild leap here and guess that Duffy is single, and not by choice. Unusually for me, I will take the high road and not post the picture.

“Gosh,” you’re probably thinking as you touch yourself gently, “that’s probably someone who is known to law enforcement.” What you’re probably not thinking is, “There’s the profile picture of someone who is knowledgeable about traffic laws.”

Of course, it’s possible to get the wrong impression, and Duffy spares you that error by using a second profile picture, where he veers from dirty old man to straight up sicko.

Duffy's dream cat

Duffy’s dream cat

By now we have lurched so far down the rat hole of Internet crazy that there’s not much more to add. How can you improve on the headline “Ignorant Pervert Cager-cum-tridork Who Fantasizes Over Shaved Cat Dicks Berates Law Abiding Cyclist”?

Answer: You can’t.

What you can do, though, is briefly scroll through the forum comments, where Duffy, in good company, finds much support for the proposition that cyclists on PCH should ride in the non-existent bike lane and/or in the rubble-filled gutter, or else face getting honked and screamed at by cager cat dick fanciers, and possibly run over, too.

What’s most shocking about the supportive comments is that most have at least three words with more than one syllable, and that “Duhhhh” is used sparingly. Is it really a tri-dork forum?

What’s sad is to see the Helen’s team name dragged through the mud until you realize that these are anonymous Internet trolls who don’t shop at stores, who don’t ride on roads, and whose main pastime is, well, shaved cat dicks. The bright spot, about 26 comments down, is the reasoned voice of Club La Grange’s El Presidente Robert Efthimos, who puts together coherent thoughts, proper punctuation, correct orthography, and effective reasoning to defend the Helen’s rider’s right to take the lane while he diplomatically points out that Duffy is a maroon.

Best of all, El Presidente presents the rider’s side of the story, a rider we all know and highly respect, which gibes exactly with the facts you’d expect: Mr. Cat Dicks began the confrontation by blasting the horn although the rider was legally in the lane coming down from Pepperdine at 42 mph. The aggressor then sped away, and when the rider caught Cat Dicks at the light, the cager began his lecture with The Opening Phrase That Marks You For All Time As An Asshole, i.e. “I’m a cyclist too, but … ”

No, Duffy, you’re not a cyclist. You are in a car harassing cyclists, which makes you a cager. You spend your cage time leaning on a horn, misstating the law you haven’t bothered to learn, and threatening us with death. That makes you not a cyclist, but an enemy, and if the worst you get out of encounters like this is an angry middle finger from a calm and accomplished cyclist, consider yourself lucky and go back to the shaved cat dicks, at least until we turn you in for animal abuse.

END

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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 11: The bed battle

May 20, 2015 § 30 Comments

Rarely, very rarely, someone will ask me a serious question about fitness or training or racing. These are terrifying moments, aware as I am that of all the people with zero value to share on such topics, I am certainly the largest negative integer in that department.

This person asked me about getting a coach. Now, I have lots of friends who are coaches, but that number will be greatly reduced after today because here is what I told my friend:

Unless someone experienced in both fields has evaluated you and advised you that you can make more money riding your bicycle than you can getting an MBA, coaching is stupid. Why?

Because the basics behind cycling improvement haven’t changed in 100 years.

  1. Eat right
  2. Lose weight
  3. Ride more
  4. Ride with those who are better than you
  5. Race

Once you’ve done these five things, and it generally takes 5-10 years to reach the right balance, you can start seeking advice. The good news is that when you’ve spent a decade doing #4 and #5, your coaches will be the people you regularly ride and race with, and they will gladly share what they know as well as point out what they think you do well and where you can improve.

Training plans, power meters, heart rate monitors, coaches … get over it. It’s a scam designed to obfuscate the harsh realities of 1-5 above, and to take your eye off the Reality Ball, which says you are old and slow and will continue getting older and slower until you die, which will be incredibly soon relative to your expectations.

In fact, when it comes to speed, your best investments are aero, carbon, diet, and winning the battle of the bed. Aero speaks for itself. Get a Sausage-approved Aero Pro Fit p/b Daniel Holloway and you will go noticeably faster.

Get as much 100% carbon stuff that is full carbon and you will go faster still, especially if it’s aero carbon, as if there were any other kind.

Diet is trickier, but in a nutshell here are the basics:

  1. Toss the radical weight loss plan. 143 pounds is not good for a six foot frame, and constant ravenous hunger is an unhappy way to live, although it sure sharpens every single faculty.
  2. Make incremental changes. Shave a bit here and there, and mostly rein in dinner. If you’re a 3-plate eater, first go from 3 servings to 2, and then from 2 to 1. Even if it’s sometimes a big serving, shoot for a norm of “enough to make me feel full but not stuffed.”
  3. USE SMALLER PLATES.
  4. Eat at home more often and put everything on a plate, except ice cream, which goes in a bowl. A small one.
  5. Chop the legs off of your enabler. He/she is the person who asks you 10 times a day “Do you want … ?” or “Do you want to go out for … ?” Cure the enabler by saying “Yes, but since you asked me, I’ll pass.” The enabler will be very angry for a while and no sex, but when you’re shedding pounds who has the energy for that anyway? Don’t waste your time telling the enabler to quit asking, just let the enabler know that no matter what it is, if the enabler recommends it, you’re refusing no matter how hungry you are. Pretty soon you’ll be back in control of what you eat and when you eat it. Plus, what hungry human can say “No” ten times a day? I can’t even say it once.
  6. Read “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. The protagonist’s only skills are “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” These are incredible qualities to develop in cycling, and in life if you have one. (I don’t.) Keep in mind that while it’s not good to be ravenous all the time, it is good to endure a few pangs during the day. It’s not normal to always be full or to sate yourself every time you feel hungry. It’s like expecting to race well without ever training hard.

The biggest fitness obstacle, however, is the bed battle. Everyone can testify to the difficulty of twisting yourself out of the clutches of the warm sheets, especially when the only thing on offer is a guaranteed 60-minute beatdown on the Flog Ride, cf. Joseph Y.

The bed battle cannot be won with multiple alarms or with pre-percolating coffee timers, and it certainly can’t be won when the person next to you is warm and cuddly and not very interested in your morning bicycle ride. The bed battle can only be won the night before, by going to bed early, airing up your tires, laying out your superhero outfit, and promising a friend that you will meet him at a time certain.

There. That’s all I know, and most of it is wrong.

END

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Celebrate

May 19, 2015 § 33 Comments

I had to choose between doing the Torrance Crit and going to my daughter’s law school graduation. She made law review, completed law school in two years, made the dean’s list, was a dean’s fellow, and received a full scholarship. So it was go and celebrate her accomplishments or hustle down to the Telo office park and see if I could win twenty bucks or not crash.

Decisions.

I didn’t tell family about the bike race. Relatives and friends had come from far away to celebrate my daughter. We went to commencement Sunday morning and it was awesome. Then it finished around noon. I still didn’t say a word about the crit. We ate lunch. Everyone was tired and wanted to go home or back to the hotel and nap.

I got home just before three. The race started at four. “Where are you going?” Mrs. WM asked.

“Just out for a little pedal.”

“Be home in time to leave for the graduation dinner at 6:10.”

“No problem,” I said, realizing that it would take a miracle to get me home in time. I sauntered out, leaped out my bike and sprinted to the office park. The leaky prostate division had drained off hours ago and the only race left was the Fakepro-1-2-3 race. I hadn’t done one of those in a couple of decades. “How hard can it be?” I asked myself. “Plus, it’s 75 minutes, which is more racing!”

I watched the racers warm up. They had smooth skin and no fat and their faces were filled with hope and no one had told them what a terrible waste of life bike racing was and they all looked younger than my kids. That’s because they were.

Still, I had been killing it on the NPR and the Donut Ride, and that’s pretty much the same as doing a Fakepro-1-2-3 race, right? Right?

Wily Greek rolled up next to me at the start. “This is gonna fuggin’ hurt.”

I blinked big watery cow eyes. I’ve never seen Wily in even mild discomfort. “Oh, no,” I thought as Robert Pellegrin blew the whistle.

The young fellows were in a big hurry. They were in such a hurry that instead of waiting until five minutes before the finish to attack like us elderly gentlemen always do, they waited four or five seconds before the first turn to attack into the chicane and into the headwind, which they followed with another faster attack into the headwind and through the right-hander which was followed by two more attacks, each attack faster than the one before.

Since I was already going as fast as I had ever gone in my life after the first attack, when we hit the tailwind stretch I got ready for a bit of relief, but that never came because the attacks in the tailwind made everything else look slow in comparison. Unlike the leaky prostate division, where there are three attacks, a break rolls off, and everyone sits up and finishes reading the paper, in the Fakepro-1-2-3 division everyone keeps attacking until no one can attack anymore except the people who haven’t yet attacked who are actually the true strongmen, and then they take turns attacking while the tired attackers are resting at the back and then when the strongmen roll off the front the rested primary attackers re-attack until they chase down the strongmen who have seen the chase coming and thus slowed a touch so that when they are reeled in they can attack the attackers who were attacking them for having attacked.

Somewhere in there the race went from being Fakepro-1-2-3 to Fakepro-1-2, and the seventy or so starters became forty or fifty gaspers and ten people actually racing to win.

Fortunately every time I whizzed through Beer Corner my trusty mechanic Boozy P., who had re-twisted my derailleur hanger a few minutes before the race with a monkey wrench and a beer can so that I could keep ‘er in the 11 and not have to worry about my chain skipping into those wussy gears, along with Hooffixerman & his hot wife, New Girl, Frenchy & Frenchymom, Canyon Bob, Strava Reid, Fintech Quant, Tyler, Mr. Rubdown, and the usual gang of Strand Brewery drunks hollered and screamed encouragement at me each time I bounced over the pavement and within inches of death up against the curb.

“You suck, Wanky!”

“Go to the front!”

“Get off the front!”

“Close the gap!”

“Get off your brakes!”

“Roll your tongue back in!”

And other helpful bits of coaching were offered each lap.

In addition to being very afraid of all the bicycle riders who whizzed by me brushing my bars and hips, I was being “that guy” who, clearly out of his league and even more out of breath, would dash towards the front, hit the turn at Mach 12, clench the brakes with max panic grab, and listen to all the Fakepro-1-2’s scream, curse, and grind to a halt behind me, then be forced to accelerate from 1 mph back up to 35 after passing me in the corner.

They all appeared very tired out from this, and also somewhat sad.

Unfortunately for them, as soon as they passed me I would “do the Derek” which is racetalk for “pass every rider once.” With this logic you eventually win. However, in order to pass anyone there were only three options. Option 1 was to thread my way through the pack while getting completely protected from the wind, but I was too afraid to do this.

Option 2 was to rocket up the gutter in the leeward draft, but I was too afraid to do this either because the gutter is just a few inches wide and filled with death.

Option 3 was to go up along the safe edge of the peloton into the wind, which takes about 1300 or a million watts to move six places. Eventually I would get up to the first few wheels and then hit another turn, come flaming in hot, burn off a few centimeters of brake pad, turn the face of the guy behind me black from carbon brake dust, lose 49 places, crash out a few hapless sods, and start all over again.

It was very tiring, but soon we were on the bell lap. I could tell this because up until then we had been going so fast that time had come to a standstill (it’s a relativity thing), but now the pack briefly bunched up. I saw my final opportunity to launch a searing attack up the side, catch the field unawares, get a gap, and win.

I punched the pedals with everything I had, just at the moment when the pack punched it with about 20% of what it had, and I found out that on the bell lap my 100% was about half of their 20%. I latched onto the end of the train and at that moment Wily came up and tapped me on the hip. “Yo, Wanky,” he said. “Better give yourself a couple of bike lengths, just to be safe. You aren’t winning today, you know.”

I looked at the 48 riders ahead of me, calculated the 1300 watts I didn’t have times eight, and eased off. We hit the straightaway and a trio of riders, locked in a death struggle for the honor of 29th place, touched wheels and hit the pavement with amazing violence and bounciness. Their bikes broke into pieces, blood and skin and helmet pieces flew everywhere, and the air was rent with moans and screams and one of my SPY teammates who wailed as I rode by, “Why do they let these fuggin’ Cat 3 idiots into these races?”

I crossed the line and realized that I only had twenty minutes to make the 35-minute ride home. Fortunately, EA Sports, Inc., was outside his house as I rode by. I explained my predicament, he tossed me into the back of his pickup, put my bike up front, and drove me home. I walked in the door at 6:09.

“How was your ride?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Uneventful, and therefore okay.”

END

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