October 30, 2012 § 14 Comments
Some things are simple, like manners. Biking makes these simple things even simpler.
Clawing my way up Latigo yesterday I passed a woman and her boyfriend. “Hey, guys,” I said.
“Hey,” said the dude.
“Nice socks!” said the chick, admiring my pink unicorn Gnarlube calf-high stockings.
A couple of minutes later the dude had caught up to me. “You didn’t think I was going to let you just ride away as easy as that, did you?” he said, rudely, challenging.
“I’m just riding tempo by myself today,” was what I said.
What I thought was, “Fuck you, asshole.” Predictably, things went from tempo to threshold. Then I was by myself again.
What kind of dude drops his girlfriend to chase down a pair of chickenlegs in pink socks? Answer: Someone with very bad manners.
What happens to rude cyclists? Answer: They get shelled. Unceremoniously.
Mind if I leech?
After Latigo I headed north on PCH and met up with the Big Orange contingent a few miles after the Ventura County line. They were coming back from the Rock at Point Mugu. I u-turned and sat in for a few miles, chatting with Ron and Tink until a mechanical caused the group to stop.
I continued on with Robert Ephthamos, a dude with a terribly hard name to pronounce, much less spell, all dressed up in a Garmin kit. “I gotta get home,” he half-apologized as he picked up the pace. I could tell after a few moments that he was a relatively new rider, but game and ready to work.
We rode a hard tempo, easing up while passing under Cher’s compound in Malibu Colony. At Cross Creek we lifted the pace again after the stoplight. A group of four or five wankers saw this as their opportunity for a free ride, and hitched on.
Robert was lathered up, and so was I. After four miles the leeches hadn’t made the slightest effort to come through. “Robert,” I said as he rotated off of a particularly long pull, “make the fuckers pull through.”
My next pull was brief, and Robert had gone all the way to the back. The next guy in line put his hands on the tops as I slowed and swung over. “I can’t pull through!” he shouted.
–Next Line Is Absolutely True–
“I’m not strong enough!” he wailed.
–End Of Absolutely True Line–
I thought he was going to cry, like the time I told my dad “I can’t do word problems!” while struggling over Fourth Grade math.
“I don’t give a fuck,” I said. “If you’re strong enough to suck wheel, you’re strong enough to pull through. This isn’t a charity ride with you as the beneficiary. Get your saggy ass up here and take a pull.”
By now I’d slowed down so much that he could have easily come through, but the belief in his own mind that he couldn’t was so great that he just stopped pedaling. Robert roared by and I followed.
One of the wankers stayed with us, and after Robert and I took our turns he eased up next to me. “Do you want me to take a pull?”
“When you go to someone’s house for dinner, do you ask if they want you to refrain from pissing all over the toilet seat?” I asked. “Hell yes I want you to take a fucking pull!”
He pulled through. Rather large, and rather offended, and very well rested, he began winding up the speed until we were going well over thirty. Robert and I tucked behind the Cadillac draft as I counted strokes. At pedal stroke sixty, his shoulders started to sag and wobble a little bit. Then the speed started to drop. Then his pedal strokes changed from circles to squares to raggedy triangles.
This, of course, was the teachable moment. He’d overcome his inclination to suck wheel and, with a little prodding, had done the right thing, obeying the imperative of the paceline: He’d gone to the front.
Moreover, he’d put in a big effort. He’d behaved in a way worthy of redemption and forgiveness, such that if I now came through steadily and not too fast he could latch on, recover, and perhaps help out a few miles later. He would learn a valuable lesson about sharing the work, and more importantly, about the bonds of friendship that are built between strangers as they toil into the wind at their physical limits, sharing the work each according to his ability.
So I did the only respectable thing that I could do, both as a representative of cycling in the South Bay, as an older and experienced rider, and as someone who understands and profoundly respects what road cycling is all about, which is to say I attacked him so fucking hard that I thought I’d puke.
When my eyes refocused, Robert was pulling through at full throttle, a long string of drool splattered along his face. I jumped on his wheel and glanced back to confirm that our good friend was dropped and a receding speck in the distance.
Just before we settled back into a rhythm of dull, aching pain, Robert asked “Were you trying to teach that guy a lesson?”
“No,” I said. “The lesson was for you.”
He grinned and let the big meat sing.
May 27, 2012 § 2 Comments
We went out yesterday evening and saw MiB3. It’s a movie about these badass dudes dressed in black, and they fight aliens and shit. They bust the shit out of the aliens with weird weapons and blast them into pieces and in the process they almost get killed themselves.
At the end of the movie the world gets saved and everyone was happy except me, who had to part with $24. I liked those twenty-four dollars and I already miss them a lot.
So I was sitting there watching this badass dude smash the fuck out of this freaky alien and the alien crumbled into bits and I was thinking “What the fuck am I paying money to watch some badass dude in black and a black badass dude beat the fuck out of some alien when I just spent my whole fucking Saturday watching badass black men in black beat the fuck out of a bunch of wankers on bikes? And it didn’t cost me no 24 fucking dollars.”
Badass black men in black, coming soon to a public toilet near you
We got to the Ocean Park toilets this morning and picked up Guns, Bucks, Vapor, and Critchamp. Except for Bucks, they were all pretty much dressed in black. I was thinking “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB beatdown.”
Then up rolls a white dude in mostly black, Launch, and we were all like “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB + WMiB beatdown to the tenth degree.”
Of the assembled wankers, most of us were thinking variations of what Arkansas Traveler said: “This doesn’t look good.”
Or the boys from church: “We don’t see much in the way of a blessing here.”
Or Prez: “I rode all the way from Pedro to be part of a massacre?”
Or the Dentist: “Are we drilling it all the way back from Encinal?”
From Ride to the Rock to the Highway to Hell Ride
Last August we started doing a Saturday ride from the Center of the Known Universe out to The Rock on PCH. It was in preparation for the annual Ironfly ManTour. The good thing about the ride was that it got you an easy hundred, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was the perfect wanker ride.
The down side to the ride was that it was easy, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was a terrible ride if you wanted any intensity.
Earlier this year I heard Tom Danielson talk about how great a climb Decker Lane was. Decker is one of the climbs we pass on the way to The Rock on PCH. So several weeks ago we put together a new route that tried to fix some of the shortcomings of the other route. We still did the steady, social, 2 x 2 paceline all the way to Trancas, with people getting a chance to warm up, chat, and get that good vibe you can only get from an organized, steady, longish ride.
After Trancas, we then climbed Decker. Decker is such a steep, vicious, long, and nasty climb that you can’t do it at an easy pace. It’s a true legbreaker. Fortunately, just before you reach Decker, we also pass Encinal, which is a longer, much gentler climb that merges with Decker at the top, so everyone has a choice. Ride so hard you want to vomit, or get in a steady power climb, the choice is yours.
At the top of Decker, we regroup, and descend Encinal to PCH.
From there, it’s game on. We start as hard as we can, immediately fall into a rotating paceline, and people fry off the back. By the time we climb out of Trancas on PCH, and certainly by the time we get over the roller before Latigo, the group is left with its final members, who continue drilling it all the way back to Temescal Canyon in Santa Monica. The total drillfest is about 24 miles.
MiB set out to destroy the aliens
We got started on the PCH return trip, and before going too far we overtook Prez, who had been separated from the group due to a navigational error. Originally intending to climb with the power group up Encinal, he mistakenly turned with the homicide group up Decker. When Tree, Launch, and the Dentist took off, Prez found himself last man in the wanker group that included me, Arkansas Traveler, Tumbleweed, and Sophia Loren. As Sophia pedaled by him, he made a u-turn and returned to PCH.
However, no one at the top knew that Prez had turned around, so after waiting for a while, Launch, Dentist, and I partially descended Decker looking for him. Ouch. We concluded that he’d pulled an Abandy Schleck, and went back up again.
When we passed Prez on PCH, he hopped into the rotating paceline, and when his turn came he took a monstrous pull. It strung the group out into a single file as he mashed the pedals in fury. When he finally came off the point and started floating back, I advised him, “Dude, you better take really short pulls. The MiB are getting ready to take out their reverberating carbonizers, and if you don’t wanna get vaporized, you better save a few blasts in the De-Molecularhazard Excell 12.” Unfortunately, I should have taken my own advice, as Launch, Vapor, and Critchamp began blasting aliens right, left, and center.
Launch uses the Cosmic Integrator coming out of Trancas
By the time we hit the bottom of the hill coming out of Trancas, the MiB had blasted, wasted, toasted, and roasted a host of aliens. Some of their stray shots had also, unfortunately, blasted a few of my fellow wankers, who were now cut adrift on PCH and forced to suffer home alone.
With the exception of Launch and the Dentist, everyone started skipping pulls. As we hit the bottom of the hill, Launch took out the cosmic integrator, a device used to meld body parts of the best aliens onto his own body. The result was an extremely powerful Launch, who melds on three additional lungs, two extra heart chambers, and a third leg. A cracking and rending sound is heard as the remnants of the wankers split and break on the climb.
Over the top the group has been whittled down to Launch, Dentist, Vapor, Vapor Jr., Critchamp, and later by Tree and Checkerbutt, who’ve chased and caught. I’m absolutely on the rivet and just managing to come through as Vapor, Launch, and Critchamp take turns with huge pulls. Launch drags us halfway up the stinger that leads to Latigo, and Tree uncorks with a jump so hard and fast that he springs completely free of the group.
I was barely hanging onto Launch’s wheel when he spotted a Remoonian and whipped out his atomizing blaster. It was the last hundred meters my entire body had begun to shudder. This happens when I’m on a wheel and about to get dropped, but have pushed it too far into the bottomless pit of red. First my legs started to shake, then my arms, then my head, then my eyes wobbled, and finally a massive, sharp pain stabbed my heart like cardiac arrest plus lung failure plus a golf club thrust into my chest cavity with the fury of an AT&T phone service rep after losing an argument with Mrs. WM over a one-cent charge on our four hundred-dollar phone bill that didn’t belong there.
Alien colonies vaporized on Pepperdine Hill
I looked up just in time to roll over the crest, still attached to Launch’s wheel. Everyone was now suffering from radiation sickness from the atomizer, and the only riders who remained were Launch, the Dentist, Critchamp, me, and Vapor Jr. The Remoonian’s head had been shot off and the road was littered with green eyes and what looked like green ham. I wondered if he hadn’t shot a Seussian by mistake.
Launch dragged us all the way to the bottom of Pepperdine Hill and the turnoff to Malibu Colony. He must have spied an advance patrol of the Arquillian fleet, because he accelerated up the hill like a spaceship. There was a crackling sound as Critchamp imploded, followed by a dragging sound as the Dentist’s drill suddenly stopped working, followed by a whine and moan as I began to sob.
The Dentist let me get on his wheel and towed me to the top of the hill, where Launch was pleasantly waiting, hardly having cracked a sweat and surrounded by the rubble, blood, goo, alien body parts, and broken machinery of the devastated Arquillians. We waited for seventeen or eighteen hours until Critchamp and Vapor Jr. caught up. From then on it was merciless.
Checkerbutt, who had sneaked along the Malibu Colony Rd. and stolen a shortcut, thereby avoiding the two sections of Pepperdine Hill, reattached himself at Cross Creek. After a few rotations Vapor Jr. was spit out the back. After a few more rotations everybody was gassed except Launch, who kept pulling through as if it was his first pull of the day. I didn’t skip any pulls, but towards the end pulls were so slow and weak that everyone looked forward to them as they were “recovery pulls.” Critchamp and the Dentist never wavered, and Checkerbutt, with copious resting and turn skipping, came through each time full tilt.
In the run-up to Temescal, Launch spied an evil Kylothian and opened up a gap on the rest of us as he rushed to vaporize it and protect the aliens on the LA beaches from the aliens of outer space. I sprinted for a couple hundred yards to get on his wheel, and then found out the terrible truth: the only thing worse than getting ridden off Launch’s wheel was being on Launch’s wheel. I suffered terribly, and then two seconds later gave up.
We regrouped on the bike path, and shortly thereafter my legs cramped. I got off my bike just in time for a chick on a beach cruiser to hit me from behind and careen off into the sand, upsetting her bikini top and partially spilling the goods, which was nice of her.
At the Peet’s in Santa Monica people rolled in until we were all reunited. I thought that my ride nutrition, consisting of a cup of coffee, a Dr. Pepper, and a BonkBreaker midway through the ride was inadequate for such a terrible beatdown, and certainly wouldn’t get me the last 20 miles home + climb up to the top of PV. So I had another coffee and a cup of oatmeal.
Launch was still smiling and relaxed. Then it dawned on me. Was he the alien? Was he?