September 28, 2012 § 11 Comments
The first time I heard the patrol car bleep his horn, we were headed towards the turn to begin the last lap on the NPR. “We’ll be seeing him again,” I thought.
Lap four played out in all its glory: Vapor leadout, Wike the Bike spanking all pretenders in the sprunt, and the Belize Bullet making a last minute acceleration from too far back. We reached the red stoplight at Pershing and the cruiser pulled up next to us. The cop was highly unhappy. “Who’s the leader of this ride?” he yelled.
Each of the seventy riders knew that the answer to this question was, “Write ME the ticket, officer.” So no one said anything.
“That’s okay,” I thought. “I’m surrounded by the crew. There’s nothing that one cop can do against this phalanx of mighty warriors.” So I hollered back at him. “I’m not the leader, but I’d be more than happy to talk with you.”
“Pull over there!” he ordered as the light turned green.
We 70 badasses aren’t scared of no damn cop
I pulled into the turnout and dismounted, confidently approaching the policeman. Well, more deferentially than confidently. My father had always said that the only proper answer to a person in a bad mood with a badge, a gun, a pair of handcuffs, mace, a radio, a riot shotgun, and a fully armed partner on alert was “Yes, sir.”
“You guys can’t ride like that,” he said.
“Yes, sir. Like what, sir?”
“You’re spilling out from the far right lane and filling up the entire second lane as well. It blocks traffic and is incredibly dangerous.”
“Look, I totally respect what you all are doing out here. You’re in great shape, you’re doing a healthy workout, and it’s good. We have no problem with that. But when you block the entire road, someone’s going to get hurt.”
“Now, what’s your name?”
“Perez. Dave Perez.”
“Okay, Mr. Perez. What’s your phone number?”
“Ah, 867-5309. Area code 310.”
The cop looked at me funny. “I’ve heard that number before.”
“It’s, uh, common, sir.”
“I’m not going to cite you, but I’d appreciate it if you got the word out in your club that you can’t block both lanes.”
“I’ve talked to this group before. What’s the name of your club? South Bay something?”
“Wheelmen? No, we’re not a club. This is just an unorganized ride. It’s…”
“Look, I know you guys are a club and this is a club ride. Which club is it?”
“Yes, sir. But sir, we’re a bunch of different clubs.” I held up my SPY armwarmers. “I ride for club SPY. And all these other people,” I jerked my hand over my shoulder, “ride for various clubs. There are people from all over the U.S. and even the world, and even Australia, who join on this ride.”
I was thankful that Caveman James from Colorado had joined us today, as I could pull him out from the throng as proof that we weren’t just one big club ride but rather an amalgamation of unrelated idiots. Caveman had his best American Flyers’ Russian full facebeard and really did look like a foreigner, or a space alien, even.
The cop was scowling now. “Well, why’s everyone wearing the same outfit then?”
“Same outfit? There are at least a dozen different…” I turned around to start pointing out the different kits and teams who were represented on the ride, but stopped mid-sentence. The massive gang of supporters had melted away. No one but Sparkles, New Girl, Mr. and Mrs. Diego, Mel, Hines, and a couple of other wankers had stayed. The only team kits were Ironfly and…South Bay Wheelmen.
“Mr. Perez, those outfits clearly say South Bay Wheelmen.”
“Yes, sir. I can explain, sir.”
“I’m sure you can. Just like I can write a ticket.”
Mercy is the hallmark of justice
“But I’m not going to,” he continued. “I’d like you to get the word out. We want this to be safe just as much as you do. If it spreads out into a long line because you’re going fast, so be it. But when things bunch up and start blocking both lanes, we’re going to have to intervene.”
I couldn’t explain that he’d seen us just before the turnaround, and that with few exceptions we did a pretty good job of stopping for lights, stopping for oncoming cars, checking before we u-turn, and being safe except for the last 400 yards when people risk everything for the glory of winning the sprunt. So I just said, “Yes, sir.”
“And what’s with those socks?”
“Yeah. Why the tall pink socks?”
“It’s ah, breast awareness, sir.”
“Cancer, I mean. Breast cancer awareness. Think pink breast awareness,” I mumbled, blushing.
“Okey-dokey.” He shrugged. “You guys and gals be safe out there, okay?”
“Yes, sir,” I said.
“Now go catch up with your group. Have a good day, Mr. Perez.”
“Yes, sir!” We looked at each other, knowing full well that everyone was already back at CotKU quaffing their third latte and taking bets on who had gotten the ticket.
New Girl rode up, grinning. “Coffee’s on me, Wankster. Thanks for taking one for the team.”
“Oh, it was no big deal. He wasn’t going to give me a ticket.”
“How did you know that?”
“I’ve already gotten one ticket this year. That’s my limit. Now if this had happened in 2013, I’d never have stopped.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m buying your coffee anyway.”
And she did.
May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
I don’t know who coined the phrase, “Cheaters never win.” It was obviously someone who was never elected to office, never practiced law, never worked in banking, never submitted reimbursement requests to MediCare, never was married, or never won the TdF.
To make it strictly accurate, the phrase should be re-worked to say, “Cheaters didn’t win on the NPR today.”
We had a huge group at the Pier including the usual suspects: G$, Mighty Mouse, New Girl, Bull, Heeleys Dad & Jr., USC John, Fireman, Suze, Cary, Scott Apartmentsyndicate, Gooseman, Chris D., Kramer, Wolfeman, Lisa C., and guest appearances by Roadchamp, DJ, Damien “The Omen,” and on and on and on. And on.
Everyone began yelling “Bike path!!” on roll-out, so we stomped up the hill instead and took the Alleyway of Death just to be contrarian. The usual barely-caffeinated drivers backing out of their garages, runners stepping off curbs, huge potholes, and blind roadway entrances kept things lively until we hit Vista del Mar. As the nice 2×2 formation gradually ratcheted up the pace, G$ rolled to the fore and ordered that the pace be cut so that people could catch back on.
I hung my head, scolded, and retreated towards the back. It was a big-ass group.
It’s a new sport called Dodgecar
The mechanics of the NPR are kind of funny, because in addition to picking up people along Vista del Mar, once we bend right to go up Pershing there’s always a big group of 20-40 people camped out in the parking lot waiting for us to come by. They are stopped. In a parking lot. Unclipped. Around a blind corner. At the bottom of a hill.
We are single file. Coming down a long, fast grade. Through a green light. At about 30.
If we hit the red light, it gives the campers a chance to adjust their maxi-pads, apply the final coat of lip gloss, clip in, and then get started up the hill so that when our light turns green they can meld with the group. If we hit the green light, there is pandemonium worthy of a soccer match between pre-schoolers. Leaping on bikes, flailing cleats clicking into chains instead of pedals, curses, shouts, wobbly starts in the wrong gear, swerving bikes at 5 mph veering out of the parking lot into the middle of the 30 mph swarm…in short, it’s the kind of early morning clusterfuck that makes you glad you’re on your bike, and makes you determined to be the clusterfucker rather than the clusterfuckee.
This morning, having been relegated by G$, I nosed towards the fore as we approached the light. Red. Just before I touched the brakes…hallelujah!!…GREEN! I mashed it hard as a lumbering SUV in front of me turned on its right-hand blinker. So far so good, but there was nowhere for it to turn, except into the parking lot of campers, who were now wildly flailing to exit and hook onto the tail of the missile.
I easily cruised around the car, but it scrubbed off the 60 or so riders behind me except for Roadchamp and Bull.
Vapor, rolling out of the parking lot at a standstill, was none too pleased. “Hey, wankers! Be careful! And quit attacking while we’re stopped!”
Don’t piss off the dude who rides tempo at 32
By the time I got to the top of the small hill, I’d been joined by Roadchamp, Bull, Seanergy, and Suze. The Sho-Air dude from a couple of weeks ago was parked on the side of the road, glumly eyeing us as he changed a flat. We pounded on.
At the overpass, the pack was in another county. Roadchamp and Bull were taking gnarly pulls from hell. Seanergy was working. I was wondering how they had spotted my testicles lying in the road while we were going so fast, yet still managed to stop, pick them up, and them stuff them down my throat. Which made breathing hard.
When we hit the Parkway, Sho-Air Shawshank redeemed himself, and then some. He began pulling so hard that our tiny group could barely rotate around him, much less match his speed. Shawshank now had the bit between his teeth, and we had a breakaway. As with other completely futile fantasies grounded in an unfirm grasp of reality, we thought it might stick. No break has ever stuck from the beginning of the NPR.
Come on baby, light my fire
Meanwhile, back in the pack, Vapor was pissed. We’d blitzed him by surprise (though in my own very, very weak defense I always mash it up Pershing) and now we had a huge gap with some horsepower. Vapor began taking pulls that were so fast and sick that Fireman reported entire lungs being coughed up from those unlucky enough to be on his wheel. If you’ve ever done Tim Roach’s Hour of Power at the velodrome and had Vapor show up, you’ll know what this was like. The dude can go harder and faster and longer than anything without an internal combustion engine. And when he decides to pour on the coal, the combustion is what happens behind him.
Fortunately, our little cadre of cheaters was soon joined by other cheating wankers. Tree Perkins, who’d been out toodling around, hopped into our group and took a couple of pulls. Adam Tattooed Leg Dude got overhauled, hopped in, and helped out for a lap. Big fat Equipe wanker out for a Parkway pedal joined our team and almost sort of halfway kind of thought about maybe taking a pull before he quit.
And the entire way Roadchamp, Bull, Shawshank, and Seanergy were flogging the big meat harder than a teenage boy on his first visit to pornhub.com.
All good things must end. Bad things, too.
Just before the light at the beginning of the third lap, we all came together, ridden down by the efforts of Vapor and sub-efforts by some of his lieutenants, including G3, Austin Heeley, USC John, and G$. “Cheaters never win!” he yelled.
A spirited discussion between him and Roadchamp ensued. As the cheater-in-chief, I thought it best to keep rolling lest the donkey tail get pinned on me, where it mostly belonged. I glanced around and people looked destroyed. At that moment Mighty Mouse roared to the fore, and I could tell that she’d worn her very best dick-stomping boots to the party. Whatever sausages hadn’t been speared and roasted, she proceeded to stomp to a fare the well.
The end was predictable. I made one last flailaway attempt that never even gained separation. The group was shot to shit, and hardly anyone had any gas at all in the finale, except for Vapor and Motorhead. Motorhead took the sprint with what looked like a nice lead-out from Vapor. I was so far back that the only way I got the results was from smoke signals.
Moral #1: Don’t piss off Vapor with a sneaky, cheapass move and expect to stay away.
Moral #2: If you’re hoping we’ll start easy at the bottom of Pershing, you might be disappointed.
Moral #3: That taste of puke in your mouth at 7:30 AM? Well, it beats sitting in traffic.