Day 4 rolling out from Morro Bay is very hard. Last year it was cold, and it rained mud. Cold mud. No one sprang out of bed, there was just one long, creaky ass-drag down to the dining room. Our bodies had gone into survival mode, which meant that unlike Day One, when people picked and chose their way around the food, no one much cared what was on the buffet line. How hungry were we? We cleared out an entire giant tureen of oatmeal. No one eats oatmeal, a staple of prisons, who has a choice. By Day Four, no one had a choice, except Old Dirt, who grew up so poor in rural South Africa that oatmeal was considered fancy food.
Day 4 is also called the Queen Stage, but not because of our celebrity dresser, Pretty Boy, who never wears the same Rapha kit twice. It’s called the Queen Stage because by now your ass feels like it’s been violated by a gang of angry queens, and because it’s the longest day–120 miles–with a hard climb to get over to the coast followed by a 30-mile hammerfest along the 101 all the way into Santa Barbara.
By now it’s the crybaby tour…
Day 4 is the day that, cold and wet, no one pretends to be happy they came. No one is enjoying the cool teameraderie of wearing color-coordinated cycling kits. No one is enjoying the freedom of the open road. No one thinks this is fun. Chief has begun speed-dialing his associates to find out which one will be driving up the coast to pick him up. Gonzo’s herbal medications no longer medicate. Even the happy people are miserable.
With so many people so wet, so cold, so unhappy, and so dirty, what could be a better time than Day 4 to attack the exhausted group and make a solo break for the coast? No time, that’s when. So there we were, with three guys splintering the field, up the road in a breakaway, when Major Major slammed into the back of my bike, shattering his fork and showing everyone why, when you ride a bicycle, it’s important to wear those stupid little gloves: because if you don’t you’ll be skipping along the pavement on your skinless palms.
I’ve been told that carbon fails catastrophically
Major Major didn’t die, but everyone stopped, the epic breakaway came to naught, and we regrouped again at the 101. The final 30 miles were sheer hell. Cars blowing by at 90, nails, rocks, cracks, loaded diapers, glass, wind, rollers, and a nasty, furious chase all the way to the hotel. Iron Mike flatted a couple of times just to test my tire-changing skills (they suck). The threesome of him, Fuckdude, and I flailed along for miles until Fuckdude threw in the towel. We never caught the main group.
The only thing I remember from that evening was the nasty sight of fifteen stinking old men piled into a tiny outdoor hot tub filled with tepid water and gonorrhea. I sat twelve feet away, but wound up with a funny drip just from looking at them. Dinner was an enormous chicken burrito for three wrapped in a green tortilla. I had two of them. Urp.