Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp the Holiday Ride ride rolls out from the Center of the Known Universe. The weather forecast: perfect, so expect 150-200 knuckleheads all stuck together like a big ball of wax by the time the ride hits San Vicente. In order to ensure the perfect ride, I’ve compiled a list of strategies that should help you rise to the very top of the septic tank.
1. Be ready to roll out at 7:57. Even though the ride leaves exactly at 8:00, that’s only for G$, DJ, King Harold, and a couple of others who always get there late and have to chase like crazy the entire ten miles to Santa Monica. Everyone else gets anxious and leaves early, ignoring Roadchamp who’s always screaming at the top of his lungs, “It’s not eight yet! It’s not eight yet!”
2. That guy wearing the jersey-skirt with the four cases of donuts plastered to his stomach, neck, back, and hips? Don’t glue yourself onto his wheel and then complain when he slams on the brakes and sends you off into the bushes.
3. Choose your plan early, i.e. cower, dodge, pray, and wait (“codpaw”) or drill on the front (“drotfro”).
4. If you’re going to codpaw, prepare to be scared shitless from the moment you start turning the pedals. You’ll be penned in on all sides by people who are at every stage of learning how to instantly and without warning knock down other people. You’ll be able to let your mind run wild with all the possibilities of chain collisions from so many overlapped wheels, swerving bikes, and happily yakking yahoos who’re paying no attention at all to the road or the idiot in front of them.
5. If you’re going drotfro, prepare to be completely wrecked by the time you reach San Vicente, not least because you’ll have wanted to make G$, DJ, and King Harold suffer like dogs for the entirety of their chase.
6. Once you hit San Vicente, find a wheel toward the front and prepare to vomit as Bahati gradually brings the pace from 17mph up to 42mph over a span of about ten seconds. Uphill. If you opt for codpaw and the relative shelter of the clump at the back, you’ll need windshield wipers to clear off the snot, sludge, and barf bits from everyone who’s now wishing they’d done a different ride.
7. Pace yourself at the bottom of Mandeville. You do this by riding like a fucking maniac to get as far forward as possible, resulting in total exhaustion when you nudge in about tenth wheel. If you’re not already cracked, you’ll soon shatter because at tenth wheel it will be in a single line, in the gutter, and there will be nowhere to hide, except at the back. When you gap out and get screamed at by fifty other idiots who are also on the rivet, you’ll drift back to the back and find that there is no “back,” only onesie-twosie clumps of similarly blown wankers.
8. Whatever you do, don’t get on King Harold’s wheel theorizing that he’ll pull til he blows and then you’ll be able to launch with the remainder of the leaders as everyone else will have been put to the sword. The problems with this theory are manifold. First, you’ll be one of the very first turkeys who gets carved up when he begins flatbacking. Second, even if you did survive until his 3-mile effort ends, you’d be lucky if you still had the energy to find a ditch, lie down in it, and summon the strength to suck your thumb. Third, the pain you’ll experience will give you lifelong nightmares.
9. Don’t implement the “Follow G$ Strategy.” This misbegotten plan ferments when you’re lying in bed the night before, fantasizing about sending Stern-O an email detailing your exploits on Mandeville, and it occurs to you that all you’ll have to do is follow G$’s wheel and come around him at the end. As with the King Harold strategy, this one seems stupidly simple, when in fact it is, if possible, even dumber. First, G$ never gets more than about three wheels back, and sitting on his wheel provides the draft of a large paperclip. This means you’ll essentially be on the point, which equals early shatterage, followed by massive blowage, crackage, and terminal wankage. Second, about halfway up, sometimes earlier, G$ launches the first of a dozen of what in the cycling world is called an “attack.” You know those pet chimpanzees that like to tear off their owners’ faces and throw their bodies out the window? That’s kind of what it will feel like if you really follow through on this whackananny plan, only it will hurt lots worse and the grimaces from the pain will make your face look even uglier than the chimp owners’. Third, even if you make it with him up to the final wall (say, for example, he’s only riding with a rear wheel), he’ll still have plenty of kick left to kick your ass.
10. Whatever you do, don’t take a pull. At dinner, when you’re bragging to the old lady about how you’re going to throw down with the big boys, somewhere between the fourth beer and the bottom of the tequila bottle it may occur to you that, since you’re going to get shelled, you might as well drill it at the bottom of Mandy and make the heroes earn their pay. First, remember that your “pull,” even in the best of scenarios, is kind of like a 2 year-old towing his little red wagon. Second, remember that even though the heroes will be at a disadvantage, as they’ll be out of breath from laughing at your piddly display of impotence, they will also be drafting. Drafting = resting. Resting = incalculable pain when they finally launch.
11. Avoid the temptation to ride up to Bahati, Rudy, or any of the other pros and say, “Hey, man, how’s it going?” like they’re your friend. They’re not. They don’t even know you, although they may remember your bright yellow, two-sizes-too-small outfit and the enormous swatches of belly and butt that it doesn’t quite cover. Instead, quietly ride up behind them and tuck a $20 bill in their pocket. They’ll never know it was from you, but you can tell your friends that you paid some of the local pros to ride for you in a big SoCal almost-race.
12. After you’ve been completely wrecked on the climb, throttle it back to 4 or 5 mph and wait for the first couple of guys from the lead group to appear as they descend Mandeville. Quickly whip your bike around and follow them. You’ll reach the bottom more or less at the same time, and way before the other wankers who foolishly labored all the way to the top. They’ll have been too gassed on the climb to realize you were miles behind them, ergo “bragging rights.”
13. When you get home, post the following to Strava: “Fucking Garmin (or iPhone Strava app) quit working at the bottom of Mandy. Fucking had a course record today. Fuck.” Throw in a few extra “fucks” as needed.
Enjoy the ride!