January 11, 2013 § 20 Comments
[Private message sent out to lucky invitee participants of Dave Jaeger’s Annual and Legendary Southern California French Toast Ride Beatdown and Smacktalk Session]
By now you’ve checked the weather forecast. Rather, you’ve been compulsively checking it for the last month, hoping for rain, or snow, or even heavy clouds, anything to make Jaeger call off this nonsensical affair.
The bad news is that in Camarillo tomorrow it will only be partly cloudy with no snow or tsunamis in the forecast. The worse news is that when we roll out it will be 35 degrees. The worst news of all is that you have no idea what to wear.
Leg warmers? But what if it doesn’t warm up in time?
Tights? What if it gets too hot? Isn’t the high supposed to be 58?
Shoe covers? But aren’t they heavy and won’t they slow you down? Plus, they’re too bulky to put in your jersey, right? And they look clunky. But you hate cold feet. You bonk when your feet get cold, remember?
Maybe you should wear toe covers? But toe covers won’t do anything in 25 degree weather. Twenty-five degrees? Right, twenty-five, because with the wind chill you can knock off a good ten degrees, and that’s assuming the wind isn’t already blowing straight into your face, which it did last year for the first ten miles. If it does that tomorrow at 35 degrees, you’ll be dead by mile six. How will you keep warm?
Embro? You haven’t used it all year because you’ve been golfing and cooking Cornish hens in your new, oversized George Foreman Cooker like Harry, or sleeping ‘til noon like Yuletide, or not riding at all like Toronto. If you use embro now you could end up with hot parts, like Skeletor did two years ago. Hot parts for seven hours is a long, hot time.
Punkster, I can’t believe you’re coming back for this ride. Thirty years younger than the next youngest rider, you’ve failed to ever distinguish yourself except as fodder for the first easy attack into Fillmore. After that you’ve been crushed, beaten, dropped, and ground up by people old enough to be your grandfather’s grandfather, or older than Stern-O, even. Well, not older than Stern-O.
G3, your excuse of loose bowels is finely honed and we’ve all been led to expect that you’ll just barely be surviving, but we know it’s cover for the fact that you’ve logged 14,000 base miles this winter squiring the whole pack of Big Orangers up and down PCH at 13 mph on no-drop rides. We know that secretly you’re going to make a surge after sucking wheel the whole ride, sandbagging to the very end and then, if you flail, blaming it on the bowels, but if you succeed, rubbing salt in the wound by saying you did it “At 50%; imagine if I hadn’t been sick.”
Bull, you’ll avoid blowing up in the first mile, maybe, and will do everything in your power to “ride strategically.” However, there’s no “strategy” for getting a boxcar of lead up Casitas and Balcom without a hoist, and the closest thing we had to a hoist in terms of weight, girth, and immobility was Oldman, and he’s quit in order to replace his La-Z-Boy reclinacouch with a triple wide version and built-in brewpub. So you’ll lug yourself up on your hands and knees and promise to do better next time. Hint: you won’t do better until you learn to say “no” to the fifth trip up the buffet line at those 1-percenter conferences you attend every other week.
Überfred, I’m lumping you with the other Long Beach Freddies as toxic material barely worthy of mention. The entire pack will be pedaling madly to stay away from the cadmium/mercury/radioactive isotopes that all you guys carry on your skin. And frankly, they won’t have to pedal very hard to do it. We’ll see how late into the ride you keep yelling for everyone to “take a pull.” My prediction is that you’ll be silently sucking wheel the entire day, praying that no one sends you into the wind.
Becker Bob, the last time you did this ride you got the award for Dude Who Rode Longest With Fewest Training Miles. That was honorable then, but it’s been two years and you should have ridden your bike in the interim. This year you will be coyote fodder. The Circle K has been boarded up, though, so if you carry a hammer you can pull a few nails, climb in, and at least have somewhere to spend the night.
Bones ‘N Skin, I remember like it was yesterday when you made that acceleration on Lake Casitas, followed by a major engine rupture and rapid reversal of motion. Will 2013 be any different? How? Why? You need to get off the Toronto/Yuletide/Becker Bob training program and increase your mileage to at least three donut shops per week. Really.
Skeletor, you’ve trained for this and this alone for the last three years. Quit pretending otherwise. We’ve followed you on Strava and know that you’re peaking. There will be no excuses this year, no “Wankster blew at the bottom of Balcom after our pee stop attack and collapsed on the guardrails” excusifying. Nope. No broken back, cracked necks, laminated skulls, infected intestines, or anything else. Pressure’s on. Everyone’s got a beautiful, well-polished, handcrafted excuse except you. Welcome to hell.
Anonymous, you’d deserve lots of smack talk except that you’re always hiding so well that I frankly couldn’t pick you out of a crowd of two. Maybe this year you will nose to the front and show your true colors…and as long as they’re not those awful corpse-gray colors you were sporting last year, it will be a good thing. Did you eventually burn those kits? I think they were the ugliest thing in the peloton ever. Until you came up with those checkered things. And Wehrlissimo’s plaid shorts. Yuck!
Gil, you get a pass for saving that dude’s life in the car. But next year, forget it. The bulls-eye will be so big a blind man could hit it.
Turtle, you’ll cower and shrink again on the 101, unable to pull through, barely able to hang on, a testament to the ill effects of too much beer, too many cheeseburgers, too many videos, and too little time spent riding something other than Überfred’s 26-mile “hammerfests” in the mountains of Long Beach. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll all be watching.
Harry, what can I say? As long as you get on my wheel once, I have the medicine to punish you for your insolence. You inhaled it once on Encinal. You will inhale much, much more tomorrow. I’ve been snacking on a special variety of double-fermented cattle offal kimchee for you and you alone. And no cheating this year on Casitas, you cheating cheaty cheater.
DJ, your efforts on Casitas will be marked. By me. I will drop you just like two years ago, when you flailed, struggled, and surged, only to get kicked out the back at the end at the end of the climb. Okay, so you caught up and dropped me later on the second mini-peak, but that’s because I let you. Tomorrow I will simply let you dangle, then garrot you with an attack of such speed, power, and wild abandon that your last memory will be of a pink flash traveling at the speed of light. No manner of home remodel excuses or fan thingy routing or placement of the urinal (Next to the bed? In the kitchen?) will earn you anything other than a merciless drubbing.
Yuletide, you know you shouldn’t be doing this. You’ve not been riding. You’ve had surgery. Big surgery. Massive surgery. You’ve had kidney failure. Potassium depletion. Erectile dysfunction. Echinaea of the postpartum. And worse. Even without those things you’re a first-class wanker. But your foolish pride and desire to be with the boys is forcing you do something that even Oldman recognized was folly. Repent now, and give your spot to Tink. She’ll ride better, punish more people, and get more out of it than you, who will be in the passenger seat of the sag wagon come mile fifty.
Toronto, as the only person weaker and less trained than Yuletide, people are counting on you to act as a cushion for their own flailing. That would be Fussy, who was, in fact super depressed to learn that Oldman was bailing because he’d pegged Oldman as the one rider who, even mathematically, had no chance of finishing ahead of him. Marc, you had so many great excuses! Too much work; romancing a lovely lady; trips to Rome; ballet lessons. Why not cash in on them now? You’ll crawl up the climbs and be lucky to make it to the top, and I’m just talking about that little bump after we leave the Jaegers’ driveway. Really. This is madness. Quit while you’re still behind.
As for me, I’ve shaved 76 pounds off my normally large frame and now have a power-to-weight ratio of Huge : Tiny. There will be no mercy. I’ve logged more miles than G3 and more intensity than all of G$ and Roadchamp’s big ring workouts combined. I rode one-legged around the peninsula yesterday in a 30-degree sleetstorm wearing only a Speedo and t-shirt. It took fifteen minutes.
I’ll be pre-fueling tonight with a special kimchee combo for Harry, and will be bringing the magic dates-and-almond rocket fuel for in-ride power boosts and speed enhancement. In short, there’s nothing any of you will be able to do in the face of my awesomeness, other than take photos (from a distance) and post cool things on my FB page like “You’re the best!” and “Like” and “Über like.”
Free autographs to the first five who finish after me, $45 each for the rest of you.
There will of course be fine, warm, tasty French toast prior to the screaming beatdown, but here, too, your choices are fraught with peril. Eat too much and ride like you’re dragging a railroad tie. Eat too little and no amount of in-ride fueling will feed the beast on the 101, let alone Casitas and Balcom. But with all the clothes you’re bringing, will there be pocket room for food? How many Gu’s can you force into your jersey? And what’s the best food to take out and eat without having to shuck off three layers of clothing to get to it? And what about zipping and unzipping while you ride? What if you’re not so good at that, and you have to stop to zip back up? What if you get dropped, or if you’re already dropped? Toilet stops? What if the cold makes you pee more than normal? What if “normal” is as often as our leader’s tender prostate, one-urination-per-kilometer?
Oh, and how’re you going to climb Casitas with twelve pounds of wool clothing tied to your waist?
Let’s not forget that your S.O. has a honey-do list for you tonight so you won’t get to bed before one o’clock. Then you’ll toss and turn. And you have a hard time riding on insufficient sleep. I suppose you can keep hoping that maybe it will snow, like it did this week in Palestine for the first time in recorded history.
Well, it’s been fun. I’m going to start my taper now. Say your prayers, if you believe in that sort of thing. The only one who’ll be listening is the stony slope of Balcom Canyon.
June 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
How many times in your life do you get to compete for a championship? I’m not talking an NFL championship, or an NBA championship, or even an NHPA or an NTL championship. Those last two are National Horseshoe Pitching Association and the National Tiddlywinks League, and no, I don’t make this shit up. I make up other shit.
The fact is, you don’t often get to scrap for a championship, especially when you’re old, gizzardy, brokedown, brokebacked, when you piss too often, crap too seldom, are creaky in the morning and wore out by mid-afternoon. Nope, championships are generally for the young and the restless.
Once a year, though, if you are a bicyclist, you can compete for a state bicycling championship, where you pedal your bicycle as quickly as you can to win a prize. Then, if you win the prize, you can buy an even more special prize, to wit, a poorly made, ill fitting jersey in someone else’s size with a bad design that, ugly though it is and fitting as a potato sack though it may be, bears the words “State Champion” and the year of your championship.
This is a prize worth fighting for.
The course of snakes, stinging insects, drunk truckers, and champions
Today is Friday, June 1, 2012. It’s two days before the 45+ Elderly Fellows’ State Championship Road Race in Bakersfield, California. The race covers three 25-mile loops around a hilly course in the desert that has one moderately long climb and numerous short, punchy climbs designed to sap your legs, drain your fluids, and crush your will to survive. As I write this, a friend has Facebooked the current temp there, a moderately warm 105 degrees.
Although you would think that a desert course like this is destined to be hideously ugly, it isn’t. The hills are beautiful, and the desert has the rugged beauty of places where rain is scarce. The visual appeal of the course, however, can only be appreciated in a fast-moving car with the window rolled up and the air conditioner cranked up to “ten.”
Once you are pitched out from the cool security of the car like a fledgling forced to make its first flight, distanced from easy reach into the cooler and its mother lode of cold water, cold soda pop, and cold beer, the desert racecourse that has been designed by the Bakersfieldians is not beautiful at all. Its lack of beauty is only partially caused by the fact that the searing heat is so intense that your corneas begin to roast off the surface of the eyeball.
The true source of the course’s hideousness is the pounding sense of terror and desperation as you flail and pedal and struggle your way out, praying that you will make it back in. This isn’t a sprinter’s special, where well oiled, handsome, kitted up Adonises leisurely pedal for 54 minutes and pedal hard for one.
This is a course where the cowering starters start slowly, knowing that most will quit halfway through, and where the group will only pedal faster when some idiot attacks, or accelerates, or behaves like he’s in a bike race. The pain and torture of the heat, compounded by stinging flies, bee swarms, and poisonous snakes along the roadway to bite those unlucky enough to collapse from heat prostration make Bakersfield truly a place for others to call home.
The field will be half-filled with Big Orange, a smattering of SPY-Blue, and onesy-twosy riders from other teams. Although the bragging rights to the winner are galactic in scope, realistically hardly anyone has a chance of winning. Better to stay home and race another crit than suffer the expense, exhaustion, and humiliation of a beatdown so far from home.
What follows is a list of contenders, beginning with the odds-on favorite.
1. Wankmeister. Let’s face it, I’m the favorite here. First off, I grew up in Texas, so 105-degree heat is nothing. Average summer temperatures where I grew up were 140. At night. It’s true that I suffered a few issues at Punchbowl and got dropped rather quickly, finishing next to last. It’s also true that I got dropped on this same course a couple of months ago, finishing next to last. It’s also true that I’ve never even come close to winning a race in more than twenty years. However, I had Chinese food last night, and after the ER doc pumped my stomach I remembered that my fortune cookie had said this: “Time is a mirror of your desire.” So, that’s pretty clear. My jersey size is small. Thanks.
Pluses: Blogability. No one out-blogs the Wankmeister in a hilly road race. Plus I’ve got a cool helmet cam.
Minuses: Kind of lacking in the speed, strength, and endurance department. But I’ve got a day to come around.
2. DQ Louie: Unless he gets dq’d, which frankly is most of the time, there’s no one who can beat him in a hilly road race. Blazing speed. Relentless attacking. Strategic wheelsucking when necessary, full-on TT mode when he’s off the front. Always has a vicious kick at the end.
Pluses: Tininess. He’s got a drag coefficient of .00000002, which is about the same as a newt or a flea. His power-to-weight ratio is 3 gigawatts per kilo. So you’re basically fucked.
Minuses: Cheatyness. The officials love to dq DQ Louie. Why? He’s from Nevada, that’s why. The races are in California. He’s the dude on the freeway doing 80 who gets pulled over when everyone else is doing 100. Sorry, dude. But not really.
3. Roadchamp: He won last year, and he won two years before that, and he had a creditable showing at Vlees Huis even though they’d removed all twelve lower teeth for implant surgery the week before the race.
Pluses: He’s so skinny that he has to safety pin his socks to his calves. He’s focused. He’s all about winning. He hasn’t had sex in months, ergo mucho ferocityness.
Minuses: Everyone will be gunning for him; carries around old trophies from previous road victories as a talisman; has been known to crumple in the extreme heat. The pressure of not having won yet this year may be too much.
4. Invincible: He’s won this race before, he’s got national crit titles to his name, he sprunts, he climbs, he time trails, and he has more wins in the 45+ this year than everyone else combined.
Pluses: Dude always fucking wins. What more of a plus could you want? Best all around tactician in the game. Knows who to work with, how to control a break, how to kick out the shirkers, how and when to pull out all the stops.
Minuses: Sneakiness. He makes DQ Louie look positively forthright. Plus, he’ll be isolated in the race. THOG is recovering from a major injury. Glasship got his fill of Bako heat at Vlees Huis and is on sabbatical to the beer capital of Deschutes County. So, he’s by himself…yeah, I know. So what?
5. G$: This is one title that’s always eluded him, either due to bad luck, or poor luck, or inferior luck, or luck that wasn’t quite right, or fuckaluck. That’s too bad, because he’s one of the top guys in any category, and built to succeed on a course like this. He has specially prepared snake stomping boots that were made just for this race. With a huge B.O. contingent, he will likely let attrition do its nasty work, and only get to stomping dicks in earnest at the end, when they’ve all gone limp and stretched out from the heat.
Pluses: Time trails. Climbs. Attacks. Makes cool interview videos. Deep and wide team support to control the race or protect a break or send guys up the road. You know he’s got to be frothingly hungry for this jersey. He’s been tapering on the local rides, and has even cut back to five burgers ‘n fries a week. Serious shit.
Minuses: He’ll be dogged by Invincible and DQ Louie. If they get up the road with him, he’s got slim chance in a sprunt. Also, his team is so strong that Roadchamp, Kalashnikov, Capture the Flagg, Thing Two, Herndy Doo, or Hottie could wind up on the podium.
6. FTR DS Jaeger: The smartest rider in the bunch, always goes with the right move. Conserves when he has to, churns out the watts when it matters, never gets dropped on the hard climbs. Missed the vee at states by the narrowest of margins a couple of years ago, this could be his year.
Pluses: Savvy. Tenacious. Experienced. The best in the peloton at making up with savvy and smarts what he lacks in the legs, which frankly isn’t much.
Minuses: Can’t sprunt. Small team, and partially weighted by the anchor teammate from hell, a/k/a Wankmeister.
7. Kalashnikov: Super strong, fast, and clearly on form, Kalashnikov has the benefit of his Big Orange teammates to further strengthen his hand. He will likely play the role of agitator, forcing the other teams to waste valuable energy chasing, a strategy that has worked like a charm in the past.
Pluses: As stated above.
Minuses: If he has to go early, the bitterness of the course could spell doom.
8. Your name here. I’m sorry I left you off. You deserved to make the list, as you’ve got the right stuff, the training miles are there, and it’s finally your year. On the other hand, it’s almost 8:00 PM on a Friday night and I’m blogging about a stupid bike race for old men out in the fucking desert, for dog’s sake. This is enough, even for me.
May 15, 2012 § 3 Comments
After a very successful 7-year career as a Cat 3, I was recently force-upgraded after getting 2nd at the Long Beach crit, even though I only had 4,598,209 upgrade points. Some of the other sore loser types complained to the officials. I told them that it’s only my 75th top three placing of the year. I told them that I started out this year with the GOAL of winning the SoCal Cup as a Cat 3, and that I always reach my goals. This is a kind of robbery, having my Cat 3 taken away. What am I supposed to do now? Race the Cat 2’s? Race the 35+? That’s cray-cray.
It’s a hard lot in life when USCF officials will no longer tolerate cheating, and I sympathize with you. It’s only fair that you should be able to break the upgrade rules so that you can win money and prizes that would otherwise go to someone else. I for one am in solidarity with you.
It is even more terrible that you must now race with the Cat 2’s. What do they think you are? A full time pro? Jeez, you’ve got a wife, kids, job, mortgage. How are you going to up your miles from the current 500 per week to 650? Can’t be done. Those fuckers. And 35+? Are they joking? Like, how are you gonna beat Charon and deMarchi and Paolinetti? You couldn’t carry those guys’ jocks with a forklift. Crap. On the plus side, you can now flail around with Wankmeister and beat up on cyclotourists, triathletes, and joggers. So there’s that.
I’ve been a Cat 3 for two months now, and just got upgraded. I’m totally psyched. I hated flogging with all those wankers. It was dangerous, and frankly, not much sense of achievement to win, especially when you’re beating career hackers who are too chicken to race the hard races. I actually did a 35+ race the same day I upgraded and got fourth. It was fast and hard and I didn’t have any teammates, but I used my head, rode smart, and got a decent result. I’m looking forward to improving as a cyclist by racing with guys who are faster and better than I am. That’s the only way to improve. At anything.
This is a sad commentary on the state of cycling, when a guy can just win a few races and upgrade rather than sandbagging for years, collecting prize money, hamming it in front of the cameras, and perfecting the art of “sit & sprint.” I hope you know that you have single-handedly brought our sport into disrepute. How will we attract new riders? How will we coerce our wives and kids to come watch? You think Mrs. WM is gonna sit out in the 300-degree heat to watch Wanky get 55th in a crit? You think Wanky Jr. is gonna hang around to watch Pops get dropped on the first lap of Pukebowl? ‘Course not!
My advice to you, young man, is to forget the crazytalk. Do a couple of P/1/2 races. Maybe even crash once or twice. Then lay low for a year or two and come back as a Cat 4. Move up gradually. If you play your cards right you can get a good 5 or 6-year run of pistachio primes and prize money before they bump you up. Trust me on this one.
I’m a sandbagger. I admit it. I’m proud of it. Although I could easily upgrade to Cat 3, I like it here in the 4’s. I only race a few times a year anyway and don’t give a rat’s ass about results. My goal is to be one of the cool dudes on the South Bay rides. I want to put the screws to DJ. Make Roadchamp suffer. Drop King Harold on the flats. Heck, I already put a bunch of dudes to the sword on Saturday’s ride out to Decker Lake, including YOU. Then I made fun of Triple for getting dropped after I crashed out Polly. So why should I upgrade? I want the “cool” you can’t get in school.
Setting my sights,
Oh, boy. You are 25 years old. DJ is, like, a hundred. He’s old enough to be your grandfather’s father. Beating him, or Roadchamp, or King Harold, is like bragging about having sex with your wife. You’re SUPPOSED to, for Dog’s sake. When these guys were 25, they didn’t have their sights set on smacking down some shriveled up old weekend hobby biker. They were Cat 1 or Cat 2 or national caliber athletes racing against their peers. You can never be South Bay cool on the strength of your old geezer beatdown resume.
On the other hand, for them to ever whip up on you reduces you to ignominy. They’re NOT SUPPOSED to be able to stomp your dick in the dirt. So when they do, you lose all kind of style and respect points. And don’t ever think, even for a millisecond, that old farts don’t keep score. They’re still laughing about your epic meltdown on Fernwood and your colossal collapse on the Rock Store climb, and chasing down Wankmeister at Telo after being admonished not to by King Harold is like marrying your cousin, only worse.
However, all is not lost. It is possible to endear yourself to the South Bay royalty. Follow the easy steps below:
- Race. This means real races. With numbers, entry fees, officials, crashes, etc.
- Upgrade. This means winning, placing, or participating. Show that you hate being a Cat 4 wanker and are desperate to get out and become a Cat 3 wanker.
- Do the South Bay royalty rides in the off season, and obey proper SBRR etiquette as further described below. Remember at all times that as you shamelessly angle for an invitation to the FTR, you must ingratiate, fawn, flatter, and suck knob to a fare thee well in order to earn the approval of FTR DS Jaeger.
- Keep your mouth shut unless you’re about to do some serious knob polishing. Don’t remind Triple he just got shelled like a bad pecan. He knows it; he’s the one that had to wipe the four pounds of sheet snot off his face. Plus, he’s so old that by the time you’re his age he will have been drawing Social Security for 15 fucking years.
- Don’t crash out Polly by being a fred. South Bay royalty all have families, jobs, and shorter lifespans than you. Don’t move up the date any quicker than necessary.
- After beating the living shit out of Wankmeister, dropping him like a stone on the climbs, railing his innards into mush on PCH, and flogging him like a dead skunk all the way back up to his apartment, don’t “evaluate” his ride for him by saying, “You did pretty good today. Not too bad on the climb; good effort there. Good job on PCH, you hung in fine and were even able to do a little work, too. Boy, you sure were breathing hard when we were going up Pepperdine and you couldn’t pull through! Are you going slow now because you’re tired?”
Anyway, I hope this helps. You’re a good kid who has potential, but then again, so did most of the other convicts on death row.
May 12, 2012 § 5 Comments
For the last couple of years my right palm has been getting really callused. A series of hard lumps has formed around the base of my middle finger, lumps that are so large and hardened that they have made it impossible for me to fully open my hand.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “I bet his vision is worsening as well.”
It’s not, smartypants.
Since I spend so much time typing, it made sense that this was carpal tunnel syndrome, or probably, according to Dr. Google, “Trigger Finger.” I wouldn’t ordinarily have given much thought to it, since it never really affected me, but over the last two years it’s become harder and harder to reach the front brake lever. And when something starts jacking with my ability to ride…I pay attention.
(Not) Rushing to judgment
It usually takes me a long time to get to the doctor. For anything. The last time I had a physical was in 1997. I had a cold. The infection had traveled into my chest, and avoiding medical care allowed it to become full-fledged pneumonia in one lung. After recovering I went to the doctor, who took a chest x-ray and told me that I was in great shape.
Haven’t caught cold and haven’t seen a doctor since.
I don’t like doctors for the same reason I don’t like dentists. They hurt. When I was a little kid I had lots of bad doctor and dentist experiences. That, combined with a daily diet of beatings from my brother, didn’t make me tough. It made me weak. Weak and fearful. I remain that way today. As a result, I’ve never gone to get my trigger finger treated because Dr. Google said it would require minor surgery, and as everyone knows, surgery means needles and blood.
I don’t mind blood. Unless it’s mine. In which case I will do anything to avoid it. And when the only thing I have to do to avoid it is not call the doctor, it’s pretty simple, since I never call him anyway. Like I said, though, it has started to affect my cycling, so about a year ago I started making plans to get ready to prepare for perhaps getting in the mindset to be fixing to think about making an appointment with the hand doctor.
Yesterday I went to see him. You know how you always bust your butt to get to the doctor on time? And you know how once you get there you wait for an hour, which makes you wonder what in the world you were hurrying for? That happened. Filled out the forms (No, no STD’s. No, no heart disease. No, not allergic to any drugs. No, not currently pregnant. Last period? She was complaining about it a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t remember the date. What does her period have to do with my hand?)
And then…”Briefly describe your problem.” Wow. Briefly? I took a stab at it: “My problem is that I’m pretty fucked up because I’m from Texas.”
I turned the paper around and looked at it from different angles. Somehow it didn’t look right. So I added, “And my middle finger hurts and is callused and I can’t open my hand all the way.”
The French are watching you
If you were a cynical bike blogger who always made fun of the French and the Danes, what kind of disease would karma send your way? It would be a disease with a French name that was caused by a recessive gene among people of Scandinavian descent. Of course it would.
In came Dr. Slutsky. Yep, that’s really his name. And nope, I’m not going to make fun of it. What am I going to say that he didn’t hear every single day of his life the first 12 grades of school? Nothing, and I can’t stand not being original, unless I’m copying CapTaintBag.
Doc Sluts glanced at my palm, and said something that sounded like “De Pooter’s Contracture.”
“D-u-p-u-y-t-r-e-n-s Contracture. It’s named after the 19th Century French physician who first tried to treat it surgically, Dr. Baron Gillaume Dupuytren.”
“You kidding me? I got a French disease? How degrading is that?”
“Not exactly. The name is French, but the condition is genetic, most likely of Scandinavian origin.”
“Danish. Even worse. Dolphin-killing-inbred Viking disease named by some French dude. So you’re going to operate?”
“No. Surgery doesn’t really help. It’s incurable.”
“We have a cure for syphilis. For bad spelling. For small breasts and short penises. Don’t tell me you can’t cure this claw-hand deal.”
“Eventually your hand will contract so much that you’ll have great difficulty doing normal activities. Unfortunately, you’re right-handed, and it’s your right hand, and you’re young, which typically means a fast progression. We can do some surgical procedures later, but the problem is that the genetic defect causes uncontrolled Type 2 collagen growth. The collagen will come back even more quickly after surgery. It’s genetic. 100% rate of recurrence.”
“What does this mean for whacking off?”
“As long as it doesn’t spread to your left hand, you should be fine.”
“Left hand? I can’t use my left hand! It doesn’t even feel like me. And what do you mean ‘spread’? Don’t tell me this shit spreads.”
Dr. Slutty tells me that this shit spreads
“It can. Do you have any calluses like this on your feet?”
“I don’t know. They’re so gnarly I don’t get down there too often.”
“What do you mean, ‘gnarly’?”
“Oh, the usual. Stuff between the toes. Giant ol’ crusty yellow toenails that smell like dead eggs when you try and scrape ’em clean underneath. Just not a real cool place to hang out, y’know? It’s one of the benefits of being tall. Your feet are a long ways off.”
“At this point all I can tell you to do is to keep an eye on it. Come back in about a year or so, or whenever your hand is so arched that you can’t lay it flat on the table.”
“I already can’t lay it flat on the table.”
“Hmmm. Yes. Well, there’s nothing for it as of now. And keep an eye on other body parts.”
“Whoaaaa—what do you mean ‘other body parts?’ You mean, aside from my left hand and my feet?”
“Yes. You want to make sure it doesn’t develop into Peyronie’s disease.”
“No! Not another French disease!”
“I’m afraid so. It’s another type of collagenic thickening.”
By now I could see the two little twins from The Shining covered in gore shouting “Redrum! Redrum! Redrum!” only it was worse than that. They were shouting “Sinep! Sinep! Sinep!”
I got faint and had to sit down, but I was already sitting down. So I lay down on his leather couch, and wondered why a hand doctor had a leather couch in his examining room. I slowly choked out the words. “So…tell…me…about…Peyronie’s thing.”
Doc Slutmaster tells me about Peyronie’s thing
“It occurs in the penis. The collagen lays down bands beneath the skin of the penis, causing it to curve.”
“This can’t be real. Anglecock? If you were doing a stand-up comedy routine I wouldn’t even laugh.”
“You don’t have it yet. It only occurs in a minority of cases of people with Dupuytren’s.”
“A minority? Dude, 49% is a minority. How many, exactly?”
“The penis develops a bend…”
“A bend? Like a river? You’re telling me my dick is going to look like a U-bolt? Good Dog, what’s gonna happen when we stop at the Ocean Park toilets on the Saturday ride? Everybody’s gonna laugh and say, ‘Don’t stand behind that dude when he whizzes!’ Can you imagine the nicknames? ‘U-Turn.’ ‘Double Joint.’ ‘Comin’ and Goin’.’ My Dog, this is the worst thing imaginable.”
“Not the worst,” Doc Sluthopper said. “The worst is that when the curvature becomes sufficiently hardened and pronounced, it can result in penile fracture during intercourse.”
By now I was softly sobbing. “Great. Fucking great. My pecker’s going to break off during sex. Then what? Call a tow truck to pull it out? And what happens to the stump? Do they put me on Dr. Phil to do a panel with that dude whose wife chopped his weenie off while he was sleeping? This isn’t happening. It’s not real. Tell me it’s not real. Please, Doc Slutbag.”
Moral of the story
There isn’t one, except for his assurance that the Peyronie’s disease thing was unlikely, and I was probably just going to have my right hand turn into a deformed claw in the next five or ten years. So I have that going for me.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I went to a party with King Harold, Roadchamp, DJ, Polly, Triple, and Bull. I showed them my hand and they immediately turned my deformed fingers into a gang sign…”The Claw.” And when they found out that one day I might have the dreaded U-dick, they made so many jokes and laughed so hard and came up with so many funny nicknames that I almost felt better.
And of course they all promised to take care of Mrs. WM for me if my pecker broke off. “We’ll make sure she’s taken care of,” they said.
These dear buddies helped me realize that no matter how bad off I get, they will always be there to laugh at me and steal my wife. That’s what friends are for. Cycling friends, anyway. Allez, allez.
April 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
Words can’t describe the brutality of the 2012 Vlees Huis Ronde, held in Bakersfield. Oh, wait a minute. Yes, they can.
It started off the way that bike races this time of year always start off. “Hey, honey, I’m racing in Bakersfield tomorrow. Want to come and hand me up water in the feed zone?”
“Bakersfield? Is that the really hot ugly place with no shade?”
“I don’t know if I’d call it ‘ugly.'”
“I would. It’s that sandblown, windswept, terribly hot place with bad air and oil derricks everywhere. I hate that place. Aren’t the races there really long and, like, the bikes only come by once every hour or something?”
“Oh, honey, it’s not that bad. I mean, yes, you’re right, but for Vlees Huis we actually come by once every hour and a half or so.”
“Well, I hate that place and it stinks and the dry dirty air hurts my throat and it’s bitterly hot and I hate it and there’s trash everywhere and every third person is driving a pickup or has meth mouth. If Maggie hadn’t been there with me that time I would have killed myself.”
“Okay, aside from all that, is there like a REASON you won’t go. I really need water in the feed zone. They say it’s going to be in the high 90’s.”
“Since you ask, yes, there is a REASON I don’t want to go.”
“Tomorrow’s my birthday.”
[Tune in tomorrow for “Wanky Dodges a Marital Dissolution”]
January 10, 2012 § 5 Comments
It’s that time of year…in a mere four days the epic French Toast Ride will launch from sunny Camarillo, and the lucky invitees will get to enjoy the best breakfast in Southern California prepared by two of the world’s greatest parents, one of the world’s greatest wives, and two of the world’s greatest daughters. After filling up on french toast, butter, syrup, bacon, sausage, coffee, french toast, coffee, syrup, butter, sausage, bacon, and some butter, syrup, coffee, sausage, bacon, and french toast, twenty-five plump and lard-swollen pedalers will leave Camarillo for the morale-sapping, leg-breaking, spirit-crushing, 117-mile sojourn through sunny SoCal in January.
For those embarking on their first FTR, and for the hapless millions who won’t get to sample the wonders of the FTR breakfast, here are the nuts and bolts of the ride, and a stage-by-stage recounting of why it achieves the status of “epic.”
Stage One: The French Toast
In the days of the Aztecs, prior to sacrificing a victim to the god, the priests would fete the victim, feed him every delicacy, and lead him with great pomp and circumstance to the high ground atop the temple, there to remove his beating heart before the eyes of the throng below. The parents, wife, and daughters of FTR DS prepare a feast that is truly memorable. It is tasty. It is delectable. Most importantly, it is comprised almost wholly of food items that are not recommended for a 6-hour deathfest on the bike. The combination of great food, wonderful people, and being generously welcomed into their home paints a bitter and brutal contrast to the misery and pain to be meted out for the balance of the day. Each bite, each chew of the french toast reminds the participants of their mortality, of their impending doom, and of the beatdown that awaits.
Stage Two: The Happy Rollout
Remember when you used to take family car vacations as a kid? The car was loaded, everyone was excited, you had your coloring books and crayons, and the dog was on your brother’s side of the car. Everyone was happy, thrilled to be together, and looking forward to a great time spent riding brokedown nags on some rock-strewn, desolate moonscape masquerading as a working ranch while drunken “cowboys” made fun of the klutzy city kids and ogled their moms.
This is the part of the FTR when everyone is merry and bright. Like the car trip, it won’t last.
Stage Three: Make Billy Stay on His Side
At approximately 32:10 into the ride you hit the first little bump, a modest 400-foot climb that feels like your big brother’s first incursion into your side of the car. It’s a little probe, a test, a brief bump in the heart rate, and it’s the short stab that Roadchamp always takes to let you know that if you want any KOM of anything on FTR, it will go through him. You try to push Billy’s leg back onto his side of the car, but he doesn’t budge. “Dad!” you yell.
Stage Four: Billy Breaks Your Favorite Crayon
You descend for a couple of minutes and then start to climb again. This time it’s more than just Billy’s leg in your space. This time it’s about a 9-minute climb, going from 845 to 1,329 feet. The pace is steady, and this is the first time on the ride that you get a sustained bit of heavy breathing. You’re 53 minutes into the ride when you hit the top, and Billy has reached over and snapped your favorite green crayon quite in half. You’d really yell for Dad now, but you’re out of breath, and no sooner do you hit the crest than it’s a full-gas descent, replete with switchbacks and pissed off traffic. The next five miles you can’t do anything but hang on, as it’s a death battle all the way to the sprint sign in Fillmore. Billy has now taken the broken pieces, tossed one out the window and shoved the other one up your nose. He whispers in your ear: “If you tell Dad I’ll kill you you tattletale baby.” You choke back the tears as everyone regroups. If you made the mistake of getting dropped and chasing, or of hammering for the sprint win, you take note that it’s only 1:06 and 20.7 miles into the ride.
Stage Five: The Dog Starts to Fart
The next 25 minutes are rolling to downhill. You rationalize losing your favorite crayon by reminding yourself that there are still 63 other colors, including white, which isn’t really a color and which you suspect Crayola just stuck in there to fill up the box. Soon you’re at the bottom of a valley, and you begin a 35-minute climb that takes you from 300 feet up to about 1,600. The dog starts to fart. Since his nose is out Billy’s window, his butt is pointed to you. Everyone complains, except Billy, who laughs. You open your window, which draws the farts right into your face. So you tear up a little. It really stinks. You’ve been dropped on the climb by now and are flogging with Yoda, who is mumbling some shit about light sabers and Beggar’s Canyon. You tell him to shut the fuck up. From the top of the climb there’s an insane 8-mile race into Ojai. You’ll hit 45+ mph and still be nowhere near taking the sprint. You’re now 46 miles in. The car stinks like perpetual dog fart. Billy’s started kicking you. Everyone’s hungry and needs to pee. Just before the first shitstorm of the day breaks out, you pull into the convenience store in Ojai. You feel okay. Tired, a little. More tired than you thought you’d be. “How long is FTR again?” you wonder.
Stage Six: “I’m pulling the car over NOW.”
Shortly after Ojai, just as your legs have gotten good and cooled down and stiff as boards, you hit the bottom of the Casitas Lake climb. It’s a mere 25 minutes to the top, and it only goes from about 500 feet to 1200 or so. Why does it hurt so bad? Because Billy has gone from filliping the back of your head to punching you just below your kidney. Perhaps it’s Roadchamp. Perhaps it’s G$. Perhaps it’s FTR DS. Whoever it is, by the time you’re halfway up the hill it’s just you, the gradient, and a world of hurt. Consider your ass officially kicked. You moan and whine a little. Dad has finally had enough. He pulls over, grabs whichever kid is handiest (it’s always you), strips off his belt and tans your hide while you dance on the roadside. It’s the first nasty, bitter, brutal beating of the day. Billy looks on in glee. The dog gets his nose into your knapsack and eats your peanut butter sandwich. You reach the top thoroughly smashed…but that’s not all! Three miles later there’s a horrific sprint at the sign for Carpinteria. You hit 1200 watts. Not even good enough for third. Everyone regroups. You’re exhausted. You’re hungry. You didn’t just shoot a few bullets, you emptied the clip. And you’re only 66 miles in.
Stage Seven: Are we there yet?
Sixty-six miles and 3:15 into the ride you roll out onto Highway 101. If the sun, wind, and tide are aligned you’ll see the Queen of the Coast cranking out immaculate coke lines on the carpet of blue ocean. For a few seconds you’ll think, “Wow, I’m in paradise.” But only a few. Because the next thirteen miles will involve King Harold beating the pedals into a 30-mph tattoo. It will be your own personal hell as the highway clips away, all the thrill of the trip faded away, Billy asleep and drizzling spit onto your leg, the dog scratching his fleas over onto your exposed skin, and nothing left but monotony and numbing pain. “Are we there yet?” you mutter miserably. “No,” Dad says. With finality. You cry a little bit into your sleeve and try not to lose the wheel in front of you, as nothing on earth is as horrific as a solo flail on the 101 as the rest of the group recedes into the distance. Hockey Stick…you listening?
Stage Eight: How come you put oil in the motor, daddy?
“Because the oil lubricates the moving parts, reducing friction, which reduces heat, which allows the engine to run. That’s why.”
“What happens if you don’t put in any oil, daddy?”
“The engine gets overheated and seizes up.”
“What’s seizing up, daddy?”
“Seizing up is when something coagulates into a lump and stops moving like it’s supposed to.”
“What’s coagulates, daddy?”
“Coagulates is what happens when you reach Ventura after the 101 at about mile 83, and you stop at the Utotem for a piss and to fuel up and all the poison in your muscles gels, and your legs get ice cold, and the blood sinks down into your shoes, and your thighs get heavier than bad poetry, and even the thought of throwing a leg over the top tube is more painful and agonizing than you can bear, but a few minutes later you nonetheless have to remount and slog 350 feet up over the town, and then you fall into the paceline from hell and everyone batters along for the next forty minutes in utter exhaustion and despair until you reach Santa Paula. That’s ‘coagulates.”
Stage Nine: Well, gang, we’re here!
There is no way to sugar coat Balcom Canyon Road. It is steep. The two-mile approach is into a headwind. It breaks your spirit, assuming you still have any, daring you to even get up it. It jerks out of the landscape like a jagged fang, sneering at your paperboys that crisscross the asphalt as you try to stay upright. If you have anything left at all in the tank, which of course you don’t, it will be gone at the top. If you’re already running low at the bottom, which of course you are, you’ll die a thousand deaths. If you ride at the front for much of the ride and attack early while the others are remounting from their pee break you will be punished with the cramp of a thousand deaths and the garbled admonitions of an incoherent Yoda on a late-night drunk. Regardless of how you arrive…you have arrived.
Stage Ten: My, what crushed egos you have!
At mile 113.4 there is a 230-foot climb that goes for .8 mile. This is the last stretch of highway where your bladder is so full it’s already started to dribble but you’re afraid to say anything because the last whipping Dad meted out was predicated with, “If I have to stop this goddamned car again to beat your ass it’s the last beating you’ll ever get!” Your legs are ravaged by the flea bites. Your hair is singed by the dog farts. Billy has turned your legs and arms purple from the six hours of pummeling. You’re too hurt, broken, and numb to even cry. So when Big Bowles lumbers by you just grab his wheel and hold it until he shakes you off like the dew from a lily. You stagger up the final few meters, wondering why you’re in a sport that uses the Metric System, and why meters sound so much more brutal than yards.
Then, pop! You’re over the hill and done, screaming downhill to the welcoming front yard of the parents of the FTR DS, where cold cuts and cold beer await. Is there anywhere in the world better than grandmother’s house? Of course not! Never was, never will be.