October 16, 2012 § 16 Comments
My phone rang at 5:30 this morning. “Hello?”
“Hey, WM. Have you heard anything?”
“Who is this?”
“Thunky. Thunky Sneedles.”
“Oh, it’s you again. No, man, I haven’t heard anything since your last call two hours ago. It’s five-fucking-thirty, dude.”
“I just thought you’d maybe, you know, gotten some offers or something.”
“No, man. Crickets.” I’d agreed to act as Thunky’s agent in the off-season, and even though the trades had started in earnest, Thunky was still out in the cold, and he was nervous. “Look, let’s go over it again. I know you’re nervous, but you have to be patient. These things take time. When some of the bigger fish get their contracts, it’ll loosen up the purse strings for the domestiques like you.”
“But what if I don’t get an offer from anybody? What if I have to stay with Team D’oosh next year? My career’s too short for that, man. I’ve only got a couple of good years left, and I need to ride for a winner.”
“I know, I know. Nobody said being a professional masters racer was easy.”
“Fuck, ain’t that the truth.”
“Why are you so down on Team D’oosh? You fit right in.”
“They suck and their bro deal is so lame.”
“Really? Even with that bike and those five free kits and the travel reimbursements? And don’t they cut you in on the winnings even if you’re OTB?”
“Yeah, it sounds great. But it sucked this year. I mean, no one ever fucking wins. They suck. And the frame? It was the Specialized SL4 instead of their top of the line Venge. Charon gets the Venge on his team. How’m I supposed to take that dude on riding an SL4? It’s like bringing a full set of teeth to a dicksucking contest.”
“Are the bikes really that different?”
“Hell yeah. The Venge has this really cool paint option. It’s so fuckin’ rad.”
“Well, at least getting the whole $8,500 rig with Di2 on loan for a whole season and then swapping it out for a new one in ’13 saves you some money.”
“Dude! It’s not about the MONEY. It’s about the wins. You get the wins, the money flows. That’s how the pro scene works.”
“Even in the men’s 35+?”
“Well, what about the kits? That’s a grand right there, easy, free. You gotta be happy about that.”
“Those kits were so last year. The leg elastic band was at least 1/4 inch shorter than the pro stuff Paolinetti was wearing on Monster. Like I’m gonna take that guy on with short elastic bands? And the design was, like, puke.”
“I guess they screwed you pretty bad, huh?”
“I’ll say. The travel reimbursements only kicked in after you’d done five races. I fuckin’ told ’em that I was gonna do a full schedule, but for me that’s four races, including our Team D’oosh club time trial in January. They have to understand that if you want results, you gotta be rested between races. Real rested. Recovery is just as important as training, prolly more so, even.”
“Look, Thunky. I’m gonna try to get you on Amgen this year. You’ll be a domo for Thurlow, Meeker, Brett, Strickie, Malcolm…the big boys. But you gotta bring something to the table. What do I tell them about you?”
“What do you tell them? Duuuuude! Aren’t you my agent? Fuckin’ tell ’em about what we did this year! Tell ’em how the race went down when Clunky Thunky brought the A-game and stuffed the clowns into the hurt locker! Tell ’em that!”
“Ah, what race are you talking about, Thunks?”
“What race? San Dimas! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten San Dimas?”
“Was that the one where you launched off the road and hit that parked car? At, like three miles in or something?”
“You always gotta bring up the fuckin’ parked car. Fuck the parked car! Dude, I stretched the field like a teenage dick on its first handjob. Ask ’em, man, any of those dudes’ll tell you about the Thunky Beatdown. Thurlow was there. Meeker was there. Worthingtons were there. Fuckin’ Leibert was beggin’ for mercy I had everybody on the rivet.”
“Okay, maybe I’ll remind them of that later, you know, like when we’re talking signing bonuses and stuff. What else happened in 2012?”
“I did that one 35+ race and laid the fuckin’ wood to Tintsman and Paolinetti.”
“Phil Tintsman? You? Really? That’s pretty awesome, cause those two guys are the real deal. Which race was it?”
“Hellz. It was at Ontario, I think. Maybe CBR. I attacked from the gun like always.”
“Then you got in a break with Phil and Jamie? Sweet!”
“Nah, I didn’t get in no fuckin’ break. I’m a sprinter kind of rouleur. You know, a puncheur climber type time trialist, all ’rounder with an emphasis on track and ‘cross.”
“So what happened?”
“It was like on the second or third lap. I was fuckin’ railin’ it, dude, 54-11, hittin’ the headwind section like a fuckin’ freight train. Field was comin’ apart at the seams, everybody strung out in the fuckin’ gutter, dudes frying off the back like fritters in a fryolator. Tintsman and Paolinetti were in the hurt locker. The pain cave. Beggin’ for fucking mercy, they were my bitches, dude. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.”
“I finished my solid half lap and then Tintsman and Paolinetti and Charon and a bunch of other dudes, I think Brauch and Wimberley, and you know, five or six other Monster dudes, and a few other guys rolled off in a break. There was like sixty of ’em. No way we were bringing them back. But you can ask Tintsman, that shit wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t softened ’em up.”
“Sixty dudes? In one break?”
“Yeah, man. It was fucking righteous. Me and Stimp Twitchers–you know him? Rides for Soft Longies, he’s a badass. Me and Stimp fuckin’ motored with the field on our wheel the rest of the race.”
“How many guys were left in the field?”
“About seven or eight. Coddles McGee, Woodenhead, Dorcas Johnson, Tubbs, you know. The dudes you can count on.”
“Okay, I’ll make the pitch for you. What should I tell them your goals are for 2013?”
“My goals? Do you even have to ask? Tell ’em this: I’m comin’ for Charon if they can find me a Venge just like his. Black shorts, with the cool elastic thingy like Paolinetti and Tintsman have. And $10k in travel reimbursements. Up front, Jan. 1, like in the pros. And a cut of everything everyone wins, even if I have to miss the race because of my Saturday yoga class. And free massage sessions–and I pick the fuckin’ masseuse. Don’t give me some hairy dude named Jacques. I want a smoking babe who only works nekkid or in a thong. Happy ending for Thunky, you got that? And a 401k and a team car. That’s my starting offer. See what you can do from there.”
“And what can they expect in return?”
“I’m gonna take Charon down next year. I’m gonna ride Tintsman off my fuckin’ wheel. I’m gonna give Meeker a sprint clinic every fuckin’ weekend. You tell ’em that, Wanky, and you tell ’em Thunky sent you.”
The phone went dead.
A few minutes later it rang again.
“Yo, it’s me again. Any offers?”
“Not yet, buddy. But they’re comin’ any minute. Any minute.”
December 4, 2011 § 7 Comments
7:50 p.m.: Air up brand new Continental Hardshell bulletproof tires. Marvel at how beautiful and new and un-flattable they look. Fill water bottle. Charge Garmin. Lube chain.
8:28 p.m.: Go to bed.
1:00 a.m.: Wake up and wonder when it’s going to be 5:30.
5:30 a.m.: Why the fuck is it 5:30 a.m. already?
5:35 a.m.: Slather on Mad Alchemy embro. Fumes make me gag and wake up the old lady. Old lady highly unhappy. Says to “get that smelly crap out of the bedroom.” Accidentally get a dab on the chamois and dance around for a few minutes until I can wipe it off with soap and cold water. Hoo-hah. Wide awake now, yes, sir!
5:45 a.m.: First hot bolt of coffee begins coursing through Wankmeister’s veins. Oh, yeah! Where’s my testosterone gel and super-oxygenated blood bag with IV needle?
6:00 a.m.: Make list of excuses for upcoming flail. 1–Rode too far the day before (117 miles, 4k feet of vertical). 2–It’s the off season and I’m still in build mode. 3–Don’t want to whip everyone on their home turf and make enemies.
6:30 a.m.: Begin drive to Tustin Market Place. Stylin in the Prius Pimpmobile with the scarface gash on the right door so they know I’m for real and don’t give a rat’s ass about purdy. Uh-huh.
7:25 a.m.: Arrive at Tustin Market Place. “The ride starts at Tustin Market Place” is about as precise a location as “the ride starts in Texas.” This place is huge. All this asphalt just so OC bimbos can buy shoes and edible thongs. Jeez, what a waste. Well, the shoes anyway.
7:30 a.m.: Spy a few SUV’s with open rear cargo doors parked in the corner of a lot. That smells like cyclists. Drive over and confirm; it’s the Monster Media team. Goodness. Those gentlemen look fit. And tan. And ready to rumble. Feel a bit of quakey bowels.
7:35 a.m.: Hit the Panera for another cup of coffee and a deposit in their porcelain facility.
7:45 a.m.: Suit up in SPY Optic team kit. Realize it’s still fricking cold and I don’t have any shoecovers.
7:47 a.m.: KB, Labor Power legend and 2011 dominator at Dana Point and Tour de Murrieta, is fishing for a valve extender. I lend him one hoping that he’ll have mercy when the whip comes down. He thanks me. I realize my selfish altruism isn’t going to help me at all. These guys look like they had rusty nails and glass for breakfast. Try to look tough but my fucking knees keep knocking together.
8:00 a.m.: We join the 150+ idiots who have massed along Jamboree for Roger’s Cup, run concurrently with the Sunday Como Street ride out of Tustin without the inconveniences of that silly insurance, or having any of those unnecessary ambulances and EMT’s on standby.
8:10 a.m.: Drift back through the swelling throng, feeling like a fat tasty mackerel in a school of hungry sharks. There’s Critchamp, there’s Glass Hip, there’s Thing Two, RB, MJ, RM, and about a dozen other people with stars and stripes on their sleeves or state champ jerseys. “Como Street virgin?” asks Glass Hip.
8:12 a.m.: AF comes up and says, “Hi, teammate,” because I’m wearing SPY. “What’s your name, buddy?” I have to admit I’m just a poser, wearing a gift kit, gift specs, and that although he doesn’t know me, I remember him from De Vlees Huis RR, where he towed me around for a lap before dropping me, and from Ontario in 2008, when he dragged me around in a breakway that stuck ’til the end. He shrugs like he just touched someone else’s booger and pedals off.
8:30 a.m.: Glass Hip gives me the course rundown. “Hairy descent after the neighborhood. Lots of cracks, good place to go down hard and have 200 idiots run over your dick.” Feel overwhelming urge to piss. And cry. And go home. And crawl back under my warm blanky. In no particular order.
8:45 a.m.: MJ warns me about the descent. Sit on his wheel for a way, marveling at all that muscle squeezed into those Assos shorts, and how much it’s going to hurt when they flex. All the other sharks get out of the king shark’s way when he cuts through the school. Think I will tag along for a bit.
8:53 a.m.: Group stops to hear a little speech about Roger’s Cup. Thirty bladder-bursting bikers jump off their bikes and rush to the hedge, which is only knee-high. More sausage on display for the passing cars than a pepperoni pizza cook-off in Chicago.
8:54 a.m.: Glass Hip comes pedaling by howling at the top of his lungs, “Who wants this baby? Who WANTS it?” He’s holding the massive trophy. It’s bigger than America’s Cup, although it has a tad more plastic. I’m impressed that Glass Hip doesn’t tip over.
8:55 a.m.: Chit-chat with Thing 2, who’s wearing the pink jersey of “Lider” given to the winner of the 2011 edition of the Tour of Guadalahara. He’s a fricking beast.
8:57 a.m.: Speaker speaks about the race and the cup and the felled cyclist for whom it is named. Husband of a recently killed cyclist gives a short speech but begins calling us all sinners and telling us to repent and that this should remind us that the hour of judgment is near and that we must accept Jesus as our savior. A couple of people say “I’m not a sinner!” and the Jewish/Buddhist/Muslim/Atheists among us kind of feel uncomfortable.
8:59 a.m.: We remount, and it’s game on. Quick flurry as riders shuffle to the front, and a few guys launch, including Herndy-Doo from Big Orange.
9:00 a.m.: I find a stars-and-stripes wheel and edge towards the front as we begin speeding up Santa Margarita Parkway. “Hmm…windy up here.”
9:00:30 a.m.: “Hmm…painful up here.”
9:01:00 a.m.: “Hmm…really windy and painful and fast up here.”
9:01:45 a.m.: “Holy fucking shit this fucking hurts!”
9:02 a.m.: “I’m gonna…get off…this…wheel…and go…a little farther…back…”
9:03 a.m.: Massive whack and smack as my rear wheel rolls over a small boulder. I pray for a catastrophic rear wheel failure, or at least a flat.
9:04 a.m.: Pain gets worse despite dropping back to the shelter of the group.
9:05 a.m.: 405 watts, now sustained for about a mile. Speed 16.5 mph. Pain has gone well into the intolerable zone.
9:05:14 a.m.: Realize I can’t hang on anymore.
9:05:15 a.m.: Realize this is only the first climb of the ride.
9:05:16 a.m.: Realize this isn’t even a climb.
9:05:17 a.m.: Realize how much I hate racing.
9:05:18 a.m.: Realize how much I hate cycling.
9:05:19 a.m.: Realize how much I hate Orange County.
9:06:00 a.m.: Somehow make it over the first hump.
9:06:01 a.m.: Start to think that OC isn’t so bad.
9:06:02 a.m.: Start to think cycling isn’t so bad.
9:06:03 a.m.: Start to like cycling again, a little.
9:07 a.m.: Rear tire begins to feel soft. Yes! A flat!!! I fucking love this sport!
9:07:02 a.m.: Raise right hand and slowly angle to edge of field. Entire group of 10,000 idiots comes flying by. Very awesome because they all see I have a flat tire. Ironclad excuse to claim that I woulda coulda shoulda mighta oughta was gonna if not for that darned flat.
9:08 a.m.: Stop for a leisurely tire change, planning to make sure enough time goes by that there’s no way in hell I could justify chasing. Labor Power team car stops to ask if I need help. “No, thanks! Got it! All cool here! Hurry up there where you’re needed! Have a nice day!”
9:20 a.m.: Complete tire change, but flail with CO2 cartridge so only get the tire about halfway inflated. Realize I have no fucking idea where the route goes or how to get home.
9:22 a.m.: Flag down rider from Coates Cyclery. Kindly offers me a cartridge, tells me the route. Resume riding.
9:32 a.m.: Hit the dangerous descent that Glass Hip and MJ warned me about. Learn that at the bottom, at the bridge, long after the danger had passed, some knucklehead attacked the pavement with his forehead and took down four other riders. Frame snapped in half, body flung onto the guardrail…ah, the joys of rogue racing.
9:33 a.m.: Wending my way through the beautiful oaks on Trabuco. Stop to bleed the lizard just off Hunky Dory Road. Yep, Hunky Dory road. Urinate under a tree where someone has discarded a black Halloween mask and has half-buried several beer bottles. Smells like teen spirit. Keep an eye out for used condoms. Hate to track one of those back home on the heel of my cycling shoe. Worse than toilet tissue.
9:41 a.m.: Turn off onto Santiago Canyon Rd.,and eventually overtake a wanker in a neon yellow windbreaker. Wanker sits about thirty yards off my wheel for a long time. I “practice my spin.”
10:00 a.m.: Wanker evaporates somewhere in the canyon. Far ahead I see another wanker and try to spin my way up to him.
10:10 a.m.: Wanker in the distance is fucking hammering. Or, I’m a bigger wanker than he is. I choose the former explanation.
10: 30 a.m.: I prepare to pass Irvine Lake. Am very excited to finally see a lake in Southern California.
10:31 a.m.: I pass a dirty puddle with a small dock and some sickly birds floating in the muck. This must be the wetlands before you get to the lake.
10:31:30 a.m.: I see a sign proclaiming the tiny mudpit as “Lake Irvine.”
10:36 a.m.: I catch and pass my wanker carrot on the hill leading up to the 241. He weighs 300 pounds and is going about 2 mph.
10:58 a.m.: I pull back into the Market Place parking lot. The Monster Media guys have showered, shaved, changed, and completed the last three chapters of their novel.
10:59 a.m.: “I saw you flat back there,” says KB. Yessss!!!
11:00 a.m.: I get the rundown on the race. Final group of 30-40 make it to the end. No one can escape in the canyon due to the headwind. Meeker smokes everyone in the sprint. Again.
11:05 a.m.: Head back home to L.A. County, polishing and staring fondly at my perfect, shiny little excuse for not finishing with the group.
11:06 a.m.: Reflect on this, the definition of a perfect bike race: 1) No entry fee. 2) Don’t crash. 3) Mechanical that takes me out of the race before getting dropped. 4) Minimal pain. 5) Beautiful weather. 6) Home in time to take the wife for an afternoon coffee overlooking the ocean.