July 27, 2013 § 16 Comments
Only one person gets up for me at 4:30 AM. It’s not my wife and certainly not my kids. On Sunday morning, legs still aching from the Donut thrashing the day before, I drove over to rendezvous with Surfer Dan.
He was standing on the street corner, bike and knapsack at the ready.
“You want coffee?” I asked.
“No, I’m good.”
“I’ve already eaten.”
We jammed our two bikes into the Prius and headed south. “Any predictions for MMX’s birthday ride?”
“Let’s hear ’em.”
“Only one, actually. It’s going to hurt. A lot.”
After half an hour on the deserted freeway I noticed that Dan’s hands were shaking. “You sure you don’t want any coffee?”
“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”
“You gotta be hungry.”
“No, I’m not. What about you? If you want to stop, it’s fine with me.”
“Oh, no. I’m fine. I had coffee and yogurt and oatmeal and fruit before I left. I’m full as a tick. Couldn’t eat another bite.”
I was getting more nervous about the ride. “So how bad do you think it will be?”
Dan reflected for a moment. “I’m guessing that on a scale of one to ten, it will be on a different scale.”
No doom impends like the doom of a horrific beating on the bike. “What’s with these fucking North County rides? Why are they so hard? And why do we keep going down to them?”
One thing I liked about Dan is that he thought bike riding was fun no matter what. One thing I hated about Dan is that he thought bike riding was fun no matter what. “What’s fun about getting your head staved in?”
“Oh, it’s not just that. There’ll be a big group. The ride will start so fast that half will quit in the first hour. Then we’ll get pummeled up hill and down dale for the next three hours. It’ll be a blast.”
We drove a little longer. “You sure you don’t want any coffee or food?”
“Me, either. Plus I hate fast food. That stuff is nasty.”
“Yeah, I hate it too.”
“All those chemicals.”
“Did you know they put arsenic in McChicken?” I said, outraged.
“Can’t even believe people eat that shit. It’s so bad for you.”
“Yep. And their breakfasts are just as nasty. Stuff is made in a trash compactor, spray painted, and doused in chemical smells to make you think you’re eating real food.”
“It’s a pretty messed up society we live in, eating industrialized food like that,” Dan agreed.
We drove a little longer.
“You need to take a leak?” I asked.
“I need to take a leak. Let’s pull into this McDonald’s.”
“There’s no Mac here.”
“Sure there is. Exit Pico and it’s about a quarter mile down on the right.”
“How’d you know that?”
“I, uh, have to take a leak a lot on the way back from San Diego.” We pulled into the parking lot and went in. “Man, that sure smells good,” I said. “I mean, it smells good for nasty industrial chemical shit.”
“Does, doesn’t it?”
“Let’s get something to eat,” I said.
“Might as well. It’s gonna be a long day.”
We each ordered two sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddles (550 kcal x 2), hash browns (150 kcal), a sausage burrito (300 kcal), a small nonfat yogurt to keep it healthy, and we split a tub of cinnamon McMelts. We washed it all down with a large coffee and then ambled off to the toilets where whole sections of bathroom tile were blown off the walls.
Welcome to Leucadia Donut Shoppe
We got to Encinitas way early and had nothing to do. “You ready for some more coffee?” I asked.
“No, I’m good.”
“Me, too. Do you like donuts?” I asked.
“Love ’em. But I’m stuffed.”
“Me, too. Leucadia has the best donuts in SoCal.”
“Really. They’re sold out by eight o’clock. But I’m stuffed.”
“Yeah, if I eat another bite I’ll bust. Where is it?” Dan was curious and we had nothing else to do.
“Just up the road. We can swing by so you’ll know it for next time.”
We drove by. The windows were down and fresh donut smells wafted into the car. “I’m fucking stuffed, Dan.”
“You should check the inside of this place out, though. It’s awesome.”
“Sure. Let’s do it.”
We went in just as the fellow who ran the place was bringing out a fresh tray of golden glazed donuts. “How may I help you?” he asked.
“One glazed for me. And one for him. And a couple of cinnamon, and two chocolate old fashioneds.”
“And an apple fritter!” Dan added, with a little fleck of drool coming out of the corner of his mouth.
“And an apple fritter.”
We sat out on the patio and ate the donuts. “I feel sick,” I said.
“Me, too,” said Dan.
“What were we thinking?”
“I’m not sure we were.”
“Looks like it’s about time to ride.”
We drove over to RIDE Cyclery in Encinitas. There were about sixty warriors milling around. They all looked ill-tempered, as if they’d been forced to get up early and the only thing that would make them feel better was to smush a pair of weak and overfed L.A. cyclists into a bloody pulp.
“Hi, guys!” I said cheerily. “Gonna be a fun day, huh?”
Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Brent stuck his head out of the shop. “There’s bagels and cream cheese and coffee if you guys are hungry.”
I looked at Dan. Dan looked at me. “I’m fricking sick from those donuts,” I said.
“But let’s at least go in to be polite.”
Inside the shop was a big platter of poppy seed bagels and cream cheese with jam and coffee. We each had a bagel.
“All right,” we heard MMX say outside. “Time to ride.”
Things were suddenly not looking very good.
September 30, 2012 § 13 Comments
Aging is like driving an old car. We try to make the best of a deteriorating situation, hoping that the failures are incremental rather than catastrophic. My Camry is in fantastic shape for its 195,000+ miles. It’s got a character ding on the rear bumper, a character gash on the passenger door, and a driver-side window that won’t close all the way.
The window makes a huge whooshing sound once you hit about 40, a whoosh that drowns out radios, cell phones, directions from your spouse, screaming kids in the back seat, and sirens. I’ve been meaning to get it fixed for the last 30,000 miles or so. Meaning to. A great concept.
A brief psychlocross instructional
I left at 5:30 AM to meet up with MMX in North County to borrow a pair of ‘cross shoes, do the Swami’s ride, and get some pointers on how to succeed in my first psychlocross race, which is Sunday. I whooshed all the way to Encinitas, where MMX handed me the shoes.
They were covered with a thick crust of dried mud. They were battered, torn, and had dried mud shoved up into areas where you wouldn’t have thought there was anywhere to shove, like up under the sole. “How do you get mud up under the sole?” I wondered. “So,” I said. “What do I need to know for my first race?”
“Hmmmm. ‘Cross is a lot of fun. After it’s over. During the race you pretty much feel worse than you’ve ever felt your entire life for every single pedal stroke.”
“Oh. Okay. So, like, what do I need to know, technique-wise and stuff?”
“That’s kind of it.” There was an uncomfortable silence as he looked at me. “And don’t crash.”
“B” is for “Babies”
We rolled off to the world-infamous Swami’s “B” Ride, which was founded as an alternative to the leg-shattering, soul-destroying, lung-incinerating Saturday fuckfest now known as the Swami’s “A” Ride.
“You can’t hammer on the B Ride,” MMX said. “Or they’ll kick you off it.”
“Because if you want to hammer, you do the A Ride.”
“So why are we doing the B Ride? Isn’t that kind of like repeating kindergarten after you’ve graduated from high school?”
“We have a race tomorrow, so we’ll just spin our legs, that’s why. And whatever you do, don’t go to the front. That counts as hammering.”
“Even if I’m just soft pedaling?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Yes.”
Karma Strike One
The B Ride really was a flailfest. Even when they were pedaling hard, they weren’t going very fast. Before long I was up at the front. MMX kept waving me back, but by the time we got to Elfin Forest, the herd had thinned a bit. After the church sprunt, it was just MMX, Mark Nagy, and I, rolling along.
Although I thought I’d done a reasonably good job of not hammering, Karma Bitch was unimpressed. She keeps very accurate records, and knows every detail about you, right down to your Social Security Number.
A hero’s welcome
Up ahead as we climbed by the lake was a very old dude. He kept looking back, and was hustling hard to stay away.
“That’s John Howard,” said MMX.
“The John Howard?” I asked.
“Yep. Four-time national champion, three-time Olympian, PanAm Games gold medalist, Ironman winner, four-time RAAM finisher, former holder of the land speed record on a bike, and all-round badass. That’s him. He’s sixty-six, and still rides better than most guys in their 20’s.”
I put my head down, and it took three of us working together to chase him down. We caught him on the bottom of the final ascent. He swung over, MMX pulled through easy, and I came through hard, keeping the gas on until I’d shaken off one of the greatest American cyclists ever, without so much as showing him the respect of saying “hello.”
Karma Strike Two.
Caloric value falls with distance from home
Much like cheating on your spouse, the farther away you get from home the less it counts if you eat chubomatic food when you’re on a diet. After finishing the ride, I got in the car and prepared to swing by HapiFish and get a bowl of cold oatmeal with non-fat milk.
However, I was now 104 miles from home, and the smell of the carnitas wafting out from the open window of Kojita’s Jr. Burrito Palace and Lard Kitchen was overpowering. Doing the caloric math, the 1,500-calorie burrito would probably only be worth 300 or 400 calories this far from home, so I bypassed the healthy oatmeal and went straight for the lard log. Oh, yummmm!
Karma Strike Three.
What’s a whoosh plus a screech?
Tummy pleasantly distended with crunchy, fried bits of fish and tortilla and burrito sauce, I headed up Leucadia Ave. to catch the 5 and return home. As I waited in the left-hand turn lane to get on the freeway, I realized that the window whooshing was caused by the window closing at an angle. It had taken thousands of miles and several years to figure this out.
“I bet I can fix that!” thought the guy who once almost lost his thumb trying to lube the chain on his track bike.
I lowered the window to try and straighten it, and as I raised it I slightly pushed the glass outward, trying to slow the rear part of the window so that the entire edge would seat properly. But I pushed too hard, and the glass popped completely outside the door frame.
The light turned green, and as I turned left I frantically tried to push the window back down with my right hand. That didn’t work, so I even more frantically hit the “down” button with my left hand, temporarily taking both hands off the wheel.
The window jerked down slightly, and sucked my thumb down into the crack along with it. I yowled a curse as the window, now hanging entirely outside the door frame, still wedged my thumb. I had to reach over my right arm to grab the wheel as I entered the freeway. The window began flapping in the wind and whacking against the outside of the door frame.
Each smack smushed my thumb, which felt like it had been caught in a door that was slowly opening and closing on it, over and over. It was Simon’s Hand in the Electric Gate all over again. I was afraid to push the button while driving, thinking that it could get my thumb caught up in the door motor, but at the same time I was afraid the window would shatter into a million pieces. The passing traffic looked amazed, as if they’d never seen a screaming madman with his window flopping outside the car, banging the side of the vehicle at 50 on the freeway while he drove with one hand stuck in the door and the other hand crossed over it while wearing a bicycling outfit and knee-high pink socks.
The only good thing was that everyone could see the SPY sticker on my bumper and the SPY logo on my kit, so my sponsors will know that I was representing.
The next exit took forever. I got off, pulled over, and gradually worked my thumb free. Then I sank into the seat and passed out.
Window repair 101
Upon reopening my eyes, it took a minute to remember why I was parked on the side of the road with my front window hanging out of the car. By the time it all came back, the Karma Bitch had gone. Her work was finished. With a little ingenuity and pushing and angling, I got the window back into the door and seated it properly.
Best of all, when I closed it for good the window sealed perfectly, and the whooshing was completely cured. I drove home listening to my only CD, enjoying music in the car for the first time in years.
Karma may be a bitch, but she can be a good bitch, too.
September 7, 2012 § 14 Comments
By now you may have become so bored with the DemRep pep rallies that you might have scrolled down far enough in Google News to find the story about SPY Optic’s billboard scandal. In order to promote their new “Happy” brand of lenses, the North County company slapped up a billboard that said “SPY: Happy to Sit on Your Face.”
SPY is a huge supporter of grass roots cycling and bike racing, and makes performance products that are proudly worn by bikers everywhere. They also sponsor the amateur team I race for.
The day after it went up, Clear Channel Outdoors, the owner of the billboard, removed the sign under cover of darkness. Given Clear Channel’s corporate censorship policy, this is hardly surprising. They’re the same douchebags who censored a proposed billboard touting gay marriage in Clearwater, Florida, prior to the RNC’s gay-bashing hatefest. They’re the same First Amendment vandals who banned 150 songs with questionable lyrics after 9/11, including subversive ditties like Louis Armstrong’s ” What a Wonderful World” and terrorist compositions like Cat Stevens’s “Peace Train.”
But this isn’t about the growling, repressive, closeted impulses of a reactionary corporate media conglomerate. It’s about surfing and fucking.
Surfing and fucking
It seems that some of the good folk in Encinitas, California, where the sign went up, were dismayed at the sexual innuendo of the sign. They complained, because, you know, “sit on your face” implies cunnilingus, or maybe even sticking your nose and tongue up your date’s rear end.
How terrible. How filthy. How un-American. And most of all, how inappropriate for a good, clean, wholesome, family oriented coastal town.
These are all great grounds for outrage, unless, of course, you’ve actually been to Encinitas, which is the surf capital of the world. You can’t walk five feet down the main drag without seeing a zillion surfers and their smoking hot, barely clad surfer babes with taut nipples busting out of tight bikinis and buttfloss so deep in the crack that you’d need a spelunker to fish it out. Epic breaks like Cardiff and Swami’s, as well as dozens of other excellent waves in the vicinity make Encinitas an epicenter of surfing.
And unless you’ve been dead since the Beach Boys first released “Surfin’ U.S.A.” in 1963, surfing is all about riding waves, drinking beer, getting stoned, and fucking. Human nature being what it is, and naked bodies doing what drunk and stoned bodies naturally do, much of the surfer fucking is interspersed with face sitting.
A recent study showed that every single person over the age of 21 who has lived in Encinitas for more than a month has had their face covered by the naked ass and exposed genitalia of a spouse, neighbor, casual acquaintance, lifeguard, teacher, doctor, lawyer, fireman, cop, letter carrier, UPS delivery person, or Indian chief.
In other words, Encinitians, your complaints about the location of this risque ad are, shall we say, misplaced.
But what about the CHILDREN???
When I lived in Miami, Texas, I got to know the editor of a local newspaper called the Clarendon Enterprise. It was a radical, right-wing whackadoodle of a rag, and the editor’s favorite battle cry was “But what about the CHILDREN?”
A recalcitrant bachelor, he decried every liberal/socialist/communist attempt to regulate or govern in the name of helping children. School lunches, medical care, education, you name it, he opposed it, and frequently did so with witty and intelligent attacks on the Mommy State and its assumptions that parents were too stupid and inept to raise their own kids.
The undoing of his argument was first the fact that he lived in the Texas Panhandle, the teen pregnancy and teen meth capital of America, where parents really are, for the most part, too stupid to raise their own kids, and second, the fact that he eventually got married and had children, at which point he became an ardent advocate for government expenditures of tax dollars to raise, educate, and care for his own progeny.
In any event, one of the key complaints in Encinitas about the SPY billboard went like this: “What are you going to tell your kids when they pipe up in the back seat, ‘Mommy, what does that mean?'”
Why you really are too stupid to raise children
The assumption that any child in the 21st Century would be reading billboards rather than fiddling with a video game console in the SUV or playing games on his iPhone is of course absurd. The idea that your child isn’t already exposed to graphic sexual language and references on television is even more absurd.
But the kernel of truth is that you probably are unable to talk frankly with your children about sex, which is why they’re getting all of their lessons from the iPhone: the same device that speeds them funware also connects them to 24/7 lessons in cuntology and cocksmanship.
In sum, if your child really did ask you what the billboard meant, and you were unable to say, “It’s about sunglasses sitting on your face, honey, and making you happy,” or “It’s a play on words that implies two people having sex,” or “Ask your father,” then you’ve flunked the parenting test. Please return them at the counter, no questions asked, and get a pet iguana or rock in exchange.
Happiness is coming
Never easily dissuaded by prudes, SPY’s follow-up billboard says, again touting its Happy lenses, “Happiness is Coming.” The ad adds that the lenses, of course, will be “released” soon.
I’m sure this will set off another round of agonizing among the Mommy Class, i.e. those who have graduated from buttfloss to an expensive house by the sea. What it won’t do is bother the surfers and surfettes. They’ll be sitting on each others’ faces and coming just like they always have, while the rest of the world looks on in fond reminiscence and outright envy.