April 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
The tarck is a place where you go ’round and ’round, but nothing ever changes except for you, who gets tarder and tarder until you quit, most usually dejected at not having reached whatever hopeless goals you began with. It is, like life, a metaphor for life.
I’m locked into the weekly Friday tarck session of your worst nightmare at the newly re-branded Velo Sports Center in Carson. Fridays were once a happy time when I would meet up at Malaga Cove with Howard Hughes, and with Jack from Illinois (not his real name) when he was in town. We’d pedal over to Hermosa and watch Chief get dressed, which was its own form of entertainment, and often lasted well into the morning. Then Chief would make the monster 250-yard pedal down to CotKU, we’d quaff a cup of coffee, sometimes delaying the inevitable with a ride around the hill, but usually going straight into the office, and Chief would, if he’d been in trial, engage in some long-distance “punitive riding” up the coast.
That’s all a distant memory. Now on Fridays I am bound to the Habitrail from Hell, where, by virtue of having rented a locker, I am now forced to use it once a week or feel the gentle yet steely reproofs of my lockermate who, by the way, has terrible designs on me. Although he’s only been cycling for a few years, and is older than an igneous rock deposit, he is fierce, fast, canny, disciplined, and focused beyond belief.
The opposite of me, in other words, who is smiley, slow, clod-like, lazy, and scattered to the four winds.
Each Friday we do a 40 or 50 or 100-lap warm-up on the blue line, alternating every two laps. With ten to go I take the front, we drop down to the pole lane, and I try to fend him off in the final 500 or 250 meters. He’s never come around me except for the time he miscounted and passed me after the final lap, but he’s, like 287 years older than me and comes close to beating me every time. Each time he’s just a little bit closer.
So now I go to bed every Thursday with worry on my head that’s the size of a block of granite, and I wake up at 5:00 AM each Friday wondering only one thing: “How’m I going to keep that bastard at bay again today?” This is, by the way, why Eddy retired from cycling. He couldn’t take the incessant pressure to win. [No snide comments, please, about how beating an octogenarian in a warm-up isn’t “winning.” My coach, @captaintbag1, has already advised me that since I totally suck and can’t win anything of significance I should choose events that I really can win, even if they’re just totally faux races. This is one. Rather, this is the only one. So shut the fuck up now.]
Anyway, we weren’t the only ones at the tarck this morning. Here’s who was there and what was done by them, a nice little passive voice construction that will hopefully piss at least someone off who works in the Language Arts field, which, when I was a kid, had the really weird name of “English.”
Oldasdirt: After 99 laps, with one to go I jumped hard, opened up a few bike lengths, and just managed to stave him off. It didn’t feel like a victory so much as a reprieve from the inevitable execution.
CM & W: How often do you see an older brother doing what older brothers are supposed to do, i.e. helping a sibling instead of pounding the living snot out of them? CM took his little sister out on the tarck and they had a fantastic workout. She is a little motor and we will be seeing her in a stars-and-stripes jersey soon. Of course I acted like a dick when I yelled at CM not to cross the tarck with his cleats on, even though it turned out that he had been wearing the proper rubber clogs. You see, I crossed the tarck once in my cleats and Johnny saw me from, like, three miles away and read me the riot act. So for the past year I’ve been looking for someone I could read the riot act to, but just ended up accusing the innocent. CM was cool about it, though, as I immediately apologized.
Kurt S.: Have you ever watched a rocket lift off? Kurt was doing starts. Whoever’s going to beat him at nationals this year better bring an engine in their down tube, because Kurt is absolutely flying.
Katherine: Parent of CM & W, she was out there getting in a solid workout with the guys.
Jack K.: Most people think Jack lives at the tarck, but he doesn’t, or at least he’s not paying rent. Jack is the most consistent early morning tarck rider and jaw flapper in SoCal. If he can’t talk about it, that’s because the words to do so haven’t yet been invented.
Niva: Joined me and Oldasdirt midway through our warm-up, then dropped us without so much as an effort with four to go. I don’t know what she’s training for, but I’m putting my money on her to win it.
Bigdude in blue: Dude just pedaled around the tarck and looked happy as a clam doing it.
Since I only did the 100-lap warmup with Oldasdirt I got into the office early. Which is a bad thing. Right?
April 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
Sometimes even an important cycling blog like this doesn’t have anything interesting to say. So I will be concise and do this like rabbit droppings, you know, a little poop nugget here, a little poop nugget there.
Poop nugget one: Major Bob was a beast on Thursday’s NPR. He towed me all the way to the line in our trademark last-lap suicidal breakaway of death but I blew up, got caught by the pack, and finished behind the fat walrus guy with the backpack. Prez sank back to his usual wheelsuck and win-the-sprint M.O., but don’t laugh, as practice makes perfect and he won Sunday’s San Diego Cat 3 crit to ensure that he will remain aloft in the SoCal Sandbagger of the Year Competition.
Poop nugget two: Jack from Illinois( not his real name) joined Howard Hughes of the South Bay and me and the Chief, former master of all he surveyed, now confined to the miserable reservation of Saturday kiddie soccer games and delayed Sunday pedals so that his significant other gets in her Lululemon workout first, for a glorious coffee cruise. Chief began his comeback in earnest, which included pedaling the entire 250 yards from his house to CotKU, drinking a cup of coffee, and pedaling all the way back.
Poop nugget three: Friday night the world was in an addled state of consti-ticipation as each of the 125 million ticket holders gloriously made plans for spending his/her/its share of the Mega-Millions pot of gold.
“I’ll help ol’ Aunt Sukey by getting her a new house and a car and a 24-hour assisted care home nurse to pay her back for all those times she kept me out of juvenile prison.”
“I’ll start a foundation to provide a home for all the cats!”
“I’ll live quietly and modestly, keeping my wealth secret, while anonymously becoming an incredible donor to worthy causes everywhere!”
“I’ll fund a multi-million dollar ‘cross series to make it the biggest sport in America!!!”
“I’ll create trust funds for all of my cousins and nieces and nephews but set it up so that even though they’re rich they won’t be spoiled.”
“I’ll buy more hookers and blow than there are ‘fuggs’ in a captaintbag blog post.”
Frenziedly huddled around the computer screen, those same people who fall into the category of “voluntary taxpayers who don’t understand statistics or probability” looked grimly at the first few digits in the winning number, quickly scanning through each combination on their 73 separate tickets, numbly and dumbly acknowledging, gradually, that it really was true: Let’s say you know a Canadian. Then the names of every Canadian in Canada are put into a hat. You draw the name of the one person you know. There. Those were your odds of winning the lottery.
As the cold, hard numericity of statisticality and probabilityness sunk through the hardened outer core of almost impenetrable delusion, depression was quickly followed by beer, then tequila, then hatred for both Kentucky and Louisville, with the odd curse heaped on the heads of Tim Tebow and Kyle Busch. “Fucking stupid ass bullshit lottery fuckshit waste of money bullcrap shit. At least I’m still going riding tomorrow.”
Poop nugget four: “Tomorrow’s ride” was a semi-planned pedal arranged by Clodhopper, and joined in by Iron Mike, Jack from Illinois (not his real name), Howard Hughes of the South Bay (first group ride since 2006), New Girl, Pilot, Fussy, Hockeystick, Nancy, Guns, Knoll, Trixie, Junkyard, Tri-Dork, Toronto, Tumbleweed, Arkansas Traveler, Abercrombie & Fritch, and a bunch of other people who quit early because the day was a cold, rainy, miserable, nasty, cloudy, shitsoaked perfectly typical cycling day in Northern California, except we were in paradisiacal Southern California, where everyone is weak, spoiled, “soft around the edges and in the center,” and smart enough to choose hot coffee and a morning throw with the S.O. rather than six hours of slogging through shit on a bike.
By the time we reached Cross Creek all the riders with IQ’s higher than the ambient air temperature had packed it in, and our small cadre of idiots soldiered on towards Latigo. Nancy had kept going when we stopped at the Union 76 in order to get a head start on the inevitable droppage that awaited, and sure enough, even though I plowed so slowly up the infinite hell that is Latigo Canyon Rd., so slow in fact that Arkansas Traveler easily kept the pace and told me all the details of hairdressing in Appalachia during the days that it was still a hanging offense for men to be engaged in such occupations, we nevertheless caught and dropped Nancy as he crawled up the endless grade.
Upon arriving at the summit, we abandoned our “all for one, one for all” motto in favor of “all for one, one for all, except Nancy,” and bolted back home down Kanan Dume, a road favored by Junkyard so that he could get into a descender’s tuck and bomb the downhill in blinding rain and fog at 50 mph. I got home with 95 miles, more or less, and no Strava upload or WKO+ analysis to stand between me, the hot shower, the mountain of flapjacks, and bed.
Poop nugget five: While @mmaiko swooned over Fabs Cancellara and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the most amazing Twitter twaddle ever, and while thousands more cycle fans followed the whole sorry mess of racing over the cobbled climbs of Flanders, MMX, Stormin Norman, I, and a small cadre of idiots joined up at CotKU for the Sunday Kettle ride. It was uneventful except for the brutal beatdown along PCH, and we returned to Catalina Coffee in Redondo Beach for a hearty breakfast. Fireman was lounging in one of the chairs and we all sat around and made fun of people who have turtle tattoos on their legs, generally agreeing that if you’re going to tattoo your legs it should be with a death’s head or a giant cock or lightning bolts or a spread-eagled nude…anything but a turtle.
Poop nugget six: With 80 solid miles of hard riding on our legs we pedaled over to the Torrance Crit, where I raced the 45+ in the team SPY colors, proving myself a douchebag traitor to the noble Ironfly brigade with whom I’d raced all year. As we rolled out, Johnny and Alan gave me my instructions, which went something like this: “Look, you suck and are a traitorous vermin and are of no benefit to anyone plus we don’t like you. However, if, at the end of the race, there’s a chance to sneak up the road, do that hopeless crazyfuck suicide move you always do that fails and make the pack chase. We’ll chill if you’ve got the legs to hold out for the vee, which no one in their right mind believes you do, and if they pull you back, which is a mathematical certainty, we’ll be fresh for the finish.” With three laps to go I hit the gas, flogged like a harpooned goat for what seemed like forever, got reeled in with half a lap to go, and watched as teammate Jimmy M. skidded across the asphalt on the next-to-last-turn, grating off more butt flesh than an angry dominatrix in a spanking video. Not that I’ve ever watched one of those. Johnny got third, T. Rex got fifth, and Alan got seventh.
Then, the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me in over 30 years of cycling happened: T. Rex came over and stuck a $20 bill in my jersey. “That’s your share, dude. Good work.” I fainted, of course, and when I came to, numerous people patted my hand and explained that, yes, it did happen that even worthless wankers received a part of the take in a well-run team combine. “Holy fuck,” I yelled. “If you subtract that from the $50 entry fee, I only lost thirty U.S. dollah!!!” Then I fainted again.