July 26, 2017 § 18 Comments
Tuesday is the holy day of the bike racing week and I was praying, nose mashed against the stem, body swaying from side to side like a tree in a hurricane, and great oaths, curses, imprecations, and foul utterances doing everything they could to exit my mouth hole if only I would stop breathing so hard and groaning.
Frexit and Peachfuzz had caught me and Attila the Hun, but what momentarily looked like the champion’s breakaway from Telo had got pulled back by the pack. Thankfully I had a bunch of Team Lizard Collectors teammates in the chase and they had worked mightily to bring back our breakaway, which contained three of their teammates.
I had countered at the catch, gotten free with Frexit on my wheel, and then sat for a lap while he ground out another fearsome gap which, thankfully, wasn’t so great that my fake teammates couldn’t close it down. Two seconds before the actual catch I sat up in defeat and despair, perfectly marking the difference between winners and losers: That’s the moment at which Frexit made one more giant effort.
Team Lizard Collectors and the slobbering chase group, satisfied at having caught the minnow, sat up and watched the whale swim away. I drifted to the back and tried to collect my broken bits of self-respect which, in truth, I’d had none of to start with.
At that moment it became clear to me: Life is really pretty simple. All it takes to make a Frenchman who is already insanely strong, insanely stronger, is to put him in a foreign land and offer him good, homemade bread.
Because that’s exactly what Ms. WM had done, and we all suffered the consequences. My wife, you see, bakes bread. Her repertoire is narrow; she bakes round loaves, always the same ingredients, always the same shape, and always the same taste.
Those who have eaten it are never the same because bread goes so incredibly deep in our human consciousness. It is the staff of life. It is the thing we earn. It is magical when fresh, durable and sustaining when old. It pairs with every food imaginable, or goes the distance solo, with nothing alongside it at all.
The taste of fresh bread well made, not the unbaked mush sold in plastic bags at Safeway, has no peer, or even anything else in its category. It sits alone atop the food pyramid, King Tutankhamun gazing down at the minions of flesh, vegetables, and other lesser comestibles.
And what is bread? Flour, water, yeast, salt. That, plus the magic sauce of the hands that knead, watch, rise, and bake, and in my home those magic hands have come up with bread perfection. My poor son-in-law is reduced to groveling when it comes off the cooling board. Visitors hang their heads in a spent, abject foodgasm when it crosses their lips. Pot luck party hosts whisper in muted tones of sad begging, “Would you mind asking Yasuko to bake a loaf of bread?”
That is how supremely her bread reigns among those who know, and woe was unto us on Tuesday because she had said that morning, “I’m onna bake some bread and give a bread prize onna Telo champion.”
“No,” I said. “Your bread will not be wasted on those terrible people. It will be wasted on me.”
“You onna just as terrible as they is.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say, except “Okay, but please bake two loaves and leave one here. Please?”
She did, and when word went out on Facebag that Mrs. WM’s Magic Bread would be offered up to the Telo winner, we had a true lineup of hitters, and all the pain I was feeling mid-race was due to the Frexit frenzy of getting a shot at bread he hadn’t eaten since the last time he was home in France.
The fight for second was vicious. Davy Dawg led it out with Hair on his wheel and with me on Hair. Peachfuzz was slotted in behind Pooh Bear ATX, who in the final turn made a power move by slamming his inside pedal against the pavement, causing me to shit a blue streak in fear as this is exactly where Hair had come up on the inside and thrown himself onto the asphalt a few months ago, with me on his wheel. I swung wide to let those willing to die do so, and Hair flew to the finish for a glorious podium finish as everyone else fought viciously for whatever scraps you call the scraps after the first set of scraps.
As expected, Frexit won despite an eleven, then ten, then nine, then eight, then seven, then six-person rotation spilling their guts, lunch, and spittle in a failed attempt to chase him down.
You want to make a French bike champion go even harder? Bread, baby, bread.
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August 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
This morning’s New Pier Ride was a wankfest deluxe, replete with a dozen different flats, a founding NPR wanker who tumped over on his side at 2mph and trashed his frame, a cement mixer swooping by at warp speed, four hundred thousand medium-sized rocks scattered along the 2.5 mile western leg on the Parkway, bar-bumping, shoulder-rubbing, hollering, hiding, sprunting, attacking, crumpling, wheelsucking, and of course Going to the Front.
The clarion sounded last night, announcing on the Internets that MMX would be coming up from North County to work off his hangover; that Fukdude would be gracing us with his national champion presence; that Prez would be there in a new lime green kit; that Erik the Red would be on a scalp-collecting mission, and that every newbie, oldbie, dumby, and Gumbie would be flailing and flogging in a mad attempt to not get kicked out the back on the first lap.
The wankers answered the call in force. Promises of an audience with the Godfather, promises of sunny weather, and promises of a merciless beatdown resulted in seventy wankers rolling out from the Pier, with an additional 30-40 getting picked up along Pershing.
How was it, then…?
“Today was a dynamic one for me, filled with highs and some lows. I slept three hours and rolled up to the Pier still drunk. I was pumped at the prospect of an exciting, solid ride.”
“I got there early and rode up the bike path. There were lots of people. and they kept coming and coming, like roaches to a pile of fresh puke.”
“Wow, a big ride for Marc’s birthday. Not that anyone knew.”
“WM has cultivated an impressive ride. Blew me away how it kept growing and swelling all the way to Pershing and then along the Parkway.”
“It was cool to see people I haven’t seen in a while.”
“This ride and Wankmeister’s crazy blog got me back into cycling. I’ve been doing this ride for two months and it just gets harder even though I’m getting fitter. Today was the fastest ever.”
“From Pershing I left the wankoton and moved to the front of the class. Got in a nice hard slap at the front after the overpass.”
“Had Wankmeister on my wheel for a long stretch, pulling into the wind. At the front I felt fantastic and never anaerobic, I could have danced all night.”
“I kept waiting for the pace to quicken, but it never did.”
“Did a few rotations and drifted back five or ten wheels, then repeat.”
“Seemed like the first first real acceleration was the second lap, when one or twenty numb nuts let Eric and a couple others go down the road. I had to chase like a motherfucker.”
“Is this ride always this hard? I used to be a bowler. Bowling’s just not this hard.”
“King Harold did a wonderful flat back pull up toward the u-turn, start of Lap 3. I was third wheel. Harold flicked an elbow and the second wheel sat up and moved right, like a total fucking wanker, leaving me to bridge that little gap and then pull all the way up to the turn. Fucking wankers. Don’t they read your blog? Go to the fucking front.”
“Finishing up the 3rd lap I hit a huge rock no one pointed out and nearly lost control. Pinch flatted, which took me out toward the start of the last lap. Major bummer; I was so primed and ready turn on the jets. I think there were twelve flats today.”
“Is there a slower B ride?”
“I kept trying to Go to the Front, but just ended up Going out the Back.”
“Strava flail. How hard was this ride, anyway?”
“The New Pier Ride is incredible. Props to Douggie, Trey, and the other wankers who thought this up. Never seen a regular ride like it, or even heard of one. Fantastic stuff.”
“This ride is a fredfest. Saw two fucking freds almost murder each other and take me out.”
“Won’t be doing this again. Fast enough to tire you out, but not fast enough to make you faster. Fucking trucks and rocks and lights and traffic and crazy people on their first bike ride. This NPR shit blows.”
“People of all stripes come from all over. Its amazing. Really inclusive, which is unusual for road cycling.”
“I didn’t get my coffee this morning because we had a power outage at my apartment. Needless to say, OTB.”
“There were the usual fast guys and lots of new guys who think they are fast until they get near the front and melt like ice cream in a reactor core. I watched a number of guys near me who never took a pull. Now, granted, some of these guys are the guys who were waiting for the sprint (as though this was a race)–we know who they are. But there were others who never got to the front but would linger near it, kind of like a dude with a naked chick who sticks his face down near her crotch and sniffs but won’t drop trou and start humping. I don’t like these people. Hump or go home.”
“I noticed you on the front numerous times, Wankmeister, but I think your legs were zapped. Good posing, though, even though you slowed us down every time you pulled through, you wanker.”
“I saw Eric on the front a few times, including that attack I had to chase down. He’s a badass.”
“The guy in the SBW was awesome. Is that the Dennis Herrera dude you were telling me about? Driving the front. I loved riding with him.”
“Awesome all the other girls out. Makes me feel good to have other girls riding nearby. And they’re strong and getting stronger.”
“Bull would pull but he would get so gassed he’d let gaps open up after, only to come back to the front for another pull. Relentless = awesome.”
“Returning to the South Bay, you had the typical wankers hitting the gas, even though they had all been wearing invisibility cloaks on the Parkway. WTF?”
“Fucking endless list of riders who never pulled, not even once. That Pischon dude took a monster hit westbound on Lap One. Beastly. Prez got the bit between his teeth once, too.”
“Fast guys are fast: Lonergan, Hair, Davy, Eric, Big Steve.”
“So many people do this ride, get dropped and jump back in make it scary. I especially don’t like the guys who get dropped and then when the lead group catches them they feel compelled to jump towards, but never on, the front. Scary bunch of wankers.”
“Ride is awesome because when you get shelled you can hop back in. I’ve gotten hella stronger in six months and can almost finish the ride.”
“Post ride festivities indicate there is a real community feel that has developed from this ride. Kudos.”
“People taking care of each other is a good sign. The camaraderie is apparent and it’s contagious. This is beautiful. Saw people always stopping to help with mechanicals and flats. Just don’t see that much.”
“I wish I could do NPR more often!”
“Thanks to all the SB wankers for creating such a great ride and for making me feel a part of it.”
“Is this a regular ride? What time does it start?”
“Can you dig all the westsiders who come down for this? Legit.”
“Huge turnout, largest I’ve ever seen. Wanker to hammer ratio was decent.”
“Lots of fresh faced wankers I don’t know. Not so fresh faced at the end, just rent with shrapnel and had the look of the black plague about ’em. They’ll toughen up.”
“Does this ride always have all these rocks? I fricking flatted. Yo, wankers, point shit out and help thy fellow rider, that is if you’re not riding over your head and can remove your hands from the bars without crashing out thirty people.”
“Great pace, not too fast, not too slow.”
“Fireman brought it home over Hair in a nail biter.”
“Great to see MMX out and briefly catch up. Dude’s riding strong.”
“Fuck that was a giant group festering at the pier before ride. The last time I saw that many idiots in one place was when I watched a joint session of Congress.”
“Every lap I poked my nose in the wind and soon thereafter thought I would be dropped.”
“The ride was incredibly hard. However I noticed several dingleberries at the ass end who were neither poo nor hair yet were stubbornly there. Someone oughta shake them loose.”
“Post ride coffee looked like a class reunion. I almost got a phone number. These biker chicks are smokin’ hot.”
“Dave Perez likes having his picture taken. And why was he lying on the ground at Fukdude’s feet?”
“My favorite part of the ride: Some wanker shouting ‘Stop riding on the rocks,’ as if those little pebbles were a problem. Pussy needs to ride a few miles in rural Madison County. He’d be praying for rocks. Our roads are paved with possum teeth, the bones of Republicans, and small bore bullets.”
“This Cancellara looking dude I’ve never seen in my life goes, ‘Hey is this the last lap?’ and I go ‘Yeah,’ and he goes ‘Then you lead it out, I’ll jump on your wheel and take the vee, ok?’ Uh yeah, sure, and you wanna pork me in the ass afterwards as well?”
“It was the fastest NPR to date, 24mph + average speed, not counting the boulders flying everywhere, fucking pachinko cycling at its finest as Trey flailed in the corner and broke his bike. Not that he cares, ’cause now he has an excuse to get a new one.”
“My legs are still sore in weird places from racing San Marcos with my fit all fucked up!”
“Can you introduce me to that cute chick I was riding behind? She is so hot.”
“I came to ‘sit-in on a social ride,’ because ya, SPY MMX is here, let’s be social because they are the BEST!”
“Ride started out super chill…seemed extra slow to the base of Pershing. Then people started flying and others started gasping, I was like, wow, do these hackers have medical clearance to be out here?”
“Can you introduce me to MMX after the ride? I’ve always wanted to meet him.”
“I set a PR on the whole ramp section meaning it was the fastest in a long time.”
“This just wasn’t even a social ride, I mean nobody really seemed to be in social mode unless that meant look to the person behind you and give them the ‘Noooo, you go!’ look or look ahead at where you can go to make everyone else have to go faster.”
“What’s wrong with people? Might as well attempt to take a pull, why not?”
“Surfer Dan told me to go to the front today and tell people he told me to. Of course he wasn’t there. Surfing.”
“I took a short pull that clearly seemed slow to everyone else because someone quickly came by me. Thanks.”
“Everyone seemed to be hurting a lot after about Lap 1. Wankers!”
“I went to the front when I could. Problem was that I kept jumping on wheels of people that liked to act like they were going to the front and then slow down like five wheels before it. Guyyyysss, that’s not the front!”
“After four laps we had completed what Strava records as the fastest total time for the four laps I have ever done with two laps being the fastest ever. So it was a damn fast four laps. Anybody who thinks it wasn’t hard was in the caboose.”
“I actually wanted to sprint, but I had never heard so much yelling, cursing, and wheels going squiggly! But, I was close enough to the front to see the people that were legitimately sprinting and I must say it was damn impressive!”
“When we turned off the Parkway a SPY guy, Perez, and a couple others went back to hammering. I followed. Another PR.”
“Ramp…fastest ever. Four laps…fastest ever. Return to Imperial…fastest ever. There was no fucking break.”
“They should call this the Lots of Rocks, Flats, Yelling, and Gasping Ride.”
“It was a huge ride that became much smaller once the gas got turned on. Props to everyone who kept getting back in the mix!”
“I felt like my head was a giant pimple that was about to burst!”
“What a bunch of whiners! Why would you come on a ride that is supposed to be a total beatdown and then complain when you get an awesome workout?”
“I say thank you to people after they get me through a workout that I never could have done alone. You just got stronger without asking for it!”
“Wanker crashed out turning onto Imperial on the way back. It looked like he pulled a Tink and just fell over. Hope he was okay.”
“NPR as of late and especially today: more LADIES, and all the ones that have been coming regularly are getting stronger and stronger!”
“The Pier almost sank from the weight…of bodies, not bikes.”
“NPR participants will lobby Manhattan Beach planning committee to widen the alley.”
“More horsepower today than the Arkansas Tractor Pull Championships. But not as many IQ points.”
“Big names, astonishing jerseys, 110 wankers. Doesn’t get much better than this!”
“Can your Tuesday AM ride do this?”
“Burlap Jack, Mountain Mouse, Pippy Aus-Stocking, the SPYfia family shooting the place up, guns blazing, bodies everywhere, blood gushing from new orifices, but afterwards everybody friendly as hell. Even Daniel.”
“In order to make the World Way overpass in the top 10 required having the tip of the saddle touching the lower intestine. Fuck that hurt.”
“Getting back to Westchester, the tip of the saddle was now rubbing the pancreas.”
“First lap was like a fuck’n MMA cage fight, with 20 dudes in the cage at once who only knew how to groin kick and eye stab. Nasty shit.”
“Second lap, beside the white boulders… there were flashes of white light…and fifty wankers pedaling triangles in the gutter as their heads spun around like Linda Blair. Hope they got their demons outed.”
“The so-called sprint was more like Custer’s Last Stand, minus the surprise. All the wankers knew the killing was going to happen. Scary shit.”
“Wankmeister, you’ve taught a lot of people that beatdowns are to be valued. Now could you teach them to Go to the Front?”
February 22, 2012 Comments Off on The Pier Ride is dead, long live the Pier Ride
Douggie sent out the Word via FB: new Pier Ride route. We’d be axing the Marina death race through the stop lights, the crazy acceleration along Admiralty from a standing start to Mach 12 in four seconds weaving through the honeycomb of massive cracks in the bad pavement as we spilled into the neighboring lane, chock-full of angry commuters, the short but too-long-but-pointless-non-sprint sprint along Via Marina where the first person to throw up his hands gets the V, the massive chughole on Pacific that took down VV and left her with enough road rash to bump the stock price for Tegaderm by 15%, the stealth bike killers lurking behind each of the stop signs on Pacific en route back to Washington, the semi-pothole right there at the turn back onto Via Marina where, if you’re not careful, you’ll smack the shit out of it and torch a rim, then back onto Admiralty for the true crazy-ass fuckfest of gnarly steel plates and their upjutting lips of carnage, the giant ripped up shards of broken pavement, stripped down dirt studded with gravel big enough to chew up a brand new Gatorskin, furious traffic, more stoplights, and the final insane dash back down Fiji Way where it might be Big Steve, or Davy Dawg, or Tree, or Eric, or Hair, or for sure Rahsaan or Danny Heeley or some pro who dropped into LA for the weekend, ramping it up to 40 mph or maybe 45 depending on how big a sucker you look like when the story’s being retold at the coffee shop, to the big-ass finale finish that, again, no one quite knows where it is, but is definitely there, somewhere, decided again by the first pair if hands to lift off the bars, and back onto the bike path where you dodge the UCLA crew knuckleheads blocking the path with giant sculls, furry-legged Bike Path Racers putting the wood to Greg and Marco and Bernard and Eddy and Lance IN THEIR FUCKING DREAMS and almost colliding with us in the process and of course the high point of all high points, Asshole Number One locking arms with Asshole Number Two as they stick their pedestrian elbows out into our faces as we pass, then over the steel plate on the bridge where Perez likes to slip, fall, and crack his forehead every now and again, and picking razor sharp shells out of your tires that the gulls have dropped onto the path in winter, through the narrow rebar poles, either one of which if you hit will kill you, back onto Pacific, maybe past the multicolored fatboy Mapei team all the way to the triangle, then left…..
All that shit gone with one simple message on FB. Dog bless you, Douggie, and we knew it was real when Rahsaan posted the magic words: “Sounds good to me.” Because you know, if it sounds good to Vapor, it’s fuckin-A good enough for me, and you, and you, and you, and you. And you. Not to mention you, Taylor Swift, you fucking hillbilly, and I don’t care what anyone says it DID look like a fucking KKK rally at the Grammy’s, or at least the lead-up to one.
Preparation is key
I timed my departure perfectly. Alarm at 5:30. Slam the coffee. Slam the raisin bran. Dash to the toilet to drop my morning steamy Santorum, along with a couple of smaller Gingriches. Lube the legs. Pull on the kit. Dance around for a few minutes as the embro puts the fire on my balls. Ratchet down the Specialized S-Works Pro Road Shoe which, for $360.00, still doesn’t fit right or stay ratcheted down. Hop on bike. Notice rear tire is flat. Say, “Motherfucking goddammit shitfuck to hell!” Throw down bike. Wake up Mrs. Wankmeister. Timidly say, “Sorry, sweetie! Nothing! Everything’s fine, snookums!” Whisper under breath, “Goddammit motherfucking shitfuck pissit crapwad to hell!” Yank off rear wheel. Yank out tube. Check clock. If not out door in five minutes, no way I’ll make the ride. Only have one spare tube. Take it out. Partially inflate. Throw on floor. Run into kitchen. Run back. Notice tubes are tangled. Can’t remember which one is new, which one flat. Both have a little air. Whisper some more “shitfucks” under my breath. Take a gamble and pick the one on top. Stuff it onto rim. Pop on tire. Grab floor pump. Floor pump tips over, smacks the Scratch, makes hellacious racket. Sweetly say, “Sorry honey sweetums!!” Whisper a dozen more motherfuck goddamn shittohellandbacksonsofbitches. Pump up tire. Tire deflates. Rip out tube. Rip off another string of oaths. Is “dicksnot” a real cuss word? Is now. Put in other tube. Pinch shit out of finger. Stab palm with plastic tire iron. Run out of cuss words. Embro, coffee, and panic have lathered me into a steaming sweaty foamy froth. Get tire changed. Air ‘er up. Dash out the door. Get down to parking garage. Forgot garage door opener buzzer. More gods get damned, mothers fornicated with. Go back upstairs. Go back downstairs. Hop on bike. Freezing morning air ices everything inside jersey and shorts. Cuss some some. Check Garmin clock. Ride leaves at 6:40 sharp. Thirty minute ride from the apartment to there. It’s now 6:30. Probably not gonna make it without a time machine. Hammer all the way to Westchester.
The goose is loose
As I’m trolling up the parkway, off in the distance I see the mass of riders approach. I do a u-turn just as the point comes rolling through, with the Goose Man on the point, all Rapha-ed out in black and nasty pink, to hell with tearing out a page from the Perez fashion manual, he’s taken the whole damned book.
They let me squeeze in just as Wehrlissimo rolls by, there’s Davy Dawg, there’s Big Steve, there’s Tree, there’s G$, there’s Vapor, there’s the Fireman, there’s Southbay Eric, there’s Tink, there’s Surfer Dan, there’s Hair, there’s Suze, there’s Methuselah Tim, there’s Douggie, and then in a long ragged line there’s every wannabe, couldabeen, gonnado, and oughttatry in the South Bay. Instead of the Old Pier Ride, where we just do one loop, the New Pier Ride features three nasty laps around the parkway, and I’ve intercepted them at the end of the first lap.
We do the first turn, Vapor turns up the heat and the popcorn starts popping as the wankers, tankers, whackers, and hackers fry off the back. We crest the rise up to the overpass and a yellow city truck comes blowing by at fifty, and with the entire left lane to himself decides to get closer and grazes the charging peloton, missing me by inches. G$ uncorks an acceleration so hot that the blue stripes on his knee-high SPY hosiery turn green, Wehrlissimo chases and melts, and we make the second turn. I charge off past the light with Flapper Brad and a fellow IF wanker. The group blasts by, with Goose Man leading the flail.
Vapor takes over at turn 3 and it’s another long line of hurt, misery, despair, desperation, self-loathing, and clawing to stay onto the wheel in front of you. The pack has dwindled considerably, with many of the hackers deciding that they’d be more productive at work or on a gurney than out flailing in the middle of this beatdown, and we hit turn four. Last time up the hill there’s a small break, I’m stuck with the flailers and the harder I pedal the slower I go. The break explodes, everyone sits up, and the flailers reattach.
The final push for the sprint comes, and unlike the Old Pier Ride, where the sprinters are fresh and rosy-cheeked and flexing and ready to wreak havoc, they are for the most part so fucked over, tired, and roasted from the three laps of death that they can only watch as Vapor, who could win every one of these wankfests at will but instead prefers to lead out the children to give them a workout, turns on the jets and with Hair tucked on his wheel and Davy Dawg tucked on his wheel blows out a contrail of pain and misery and speed so fierce that the only one who can come around is Hair, who switches to glide and pulls away with the victory, the money, the fame, and the glory of being the first ever winner of the New Pier Ride being his and his alone.
Meanwhile, back at the flat
On the last lap I’d hit a rock full force and been forced to do the entire thing, I found out later, on a slowly deflating rear tire. Surfer Dan, G$, and Tink stopped, Dan gave me a tube and assisted with the change. I explained that but for the flat I would have probably ridden 25 mph faster than everyone else. They all nodded and rolled their eyes.
On the way back we discussed the New Pier Ride. Better? Yes. Safer? By far. Roastier? No comparison. Plan on going back to the Old Pier Ride once they finish their strip mining project/core to the center of the earth experiment on Admiralty? Noooooo way. The Pier Ride is dead. Long live the Pier Ride.