The tarck is a place where you go ’round and ’round, but nothing ever changes except for you, who gets tarder and tarder until you quit, most usually dejected at not having reached whatever hopeless goals you began with. It is, like life, a metaphor for life.
I’m locked into the weekly Friday tarck session of your worst nightmare at the newly re-branded Velo Sports Center in Carson. Fridays were once a happy time when I would meet up at Malaga Cove with Howard Hughes, and with Jack from Illinois (not his real name) when he was in town. We’d pedal over to Hermosa and watch Chief get dressed, which was its own form of entertainment, and often lasted well into the morning. Then Chief would make the monster 250-yard pedal down to CotKU, we’d quaff a cup of coffee, sometimes delaying the inevitable with a ride around the hill, but usually going straight into the office, and Chief would, if he’d been in trial, engage in some long-distance “punitive riding” up the coast.
That’s all a distant memory. Now on Fridays I am bound to the Habitrail from Hell, where, by virtue of having rented a locker, I am now forced to use it once a week or feel the gentle yet steely reproofs of my lockermate who, by the way, has terrible designs on me. Although he’s only been cycling for a few years, and is older than an igneous rock deposit, he is fierce, fast, canny, disciplined, and focused beyond belief.
The opposite of me, in other words, who is smiley, slow, clod-like, lazy, and scattered to the four winds.
Each Friday we do a 40 or 50 or 100-lap warm-up on the blue line, alternating every two laps. With ten to go I take the front, we drop down to the pole lane, and I try to fend him off in the final 500 or 250 meters. He’s never come around me except for the time he miscounted and passed me after the final lap, but he’s, like 287 years older than me and comes close to beating me every time. Each time he’s just a little bit closer.
So now I go to bed every Thursday with worry on my head that’s the size of a block of granite, and I wake up at 5:00 AM each Friday wondering only one thing: “How’m I going to keep that bastard at bay again today?” This is, by the way, why Eddy retired from cycling. He couldn’t take the incessant pressure to win. [No snide comments, please, about how beating an octogenarian in a warm-up isn’t “winning.” My coach, @captaintbag1, has already advised me that since I totally suck and can’t win anything of significance I should choose events that I really can win, even if they’re just totally faux races. This is one. Rather, this is the only one. So shut the fuck up now.]
Anyway, we weren’t the only ones at the tarck this morning. Here’s who was there and what was done by them, a nice little passive voice construction that will hopefully piss at least someone off who works in the Language Arts field, which, when I was a kid, had the really weird name of “English.”
Oldasdirt: After 99 laps, with one to go I jumped hard, opened up a few bike lengths, and just managed to stave him off. It didn’t feel like a victory so much as a reprieve from the inevitable execution.
CM & W: How often do you see an older brother doing what older brothers are supposed to do, i.e. helping a sibling instead of pounding the living snot out of them? CM took his little sister out on the tarck and they had a fantastic workout. She is a little motor and we will be seeing her in a stars-and-stripes jersey soon. Of course I acted like a dick when I yelled at CM not to cross the tarck with his cleats on, even though it turned out that he had been wearing the proper rubber clogs. You see, I crossed the tarck once in my cleats and Johnny saw me from, like, three miles away and read me the riot act. So for the past year I’ve been looking for someone I could read the riot act to, but just ended up accusing the innocent. CM was cool about it, though, as I immediately apologized.
Kurt S.: Have you ever watched a rocket lift off? Kurt was doing starts. Whoever’s going to beat him at nationals this year better bring an engine in their down tube, because Kurt is absolutely flying.
Katherine: Parent of CM & W, she was out there getting in a solid workout with the guys.
Jack K.: Most people think Jack lives at the tarck, but he doesn’t, or at least he’s not paying rent. Jack is the most consistent early morning tarck rider and jaw flapper in SoCal. If he can’t talk about it, that’s because the words to do so haven’t yet been invented.
Niva: Joined me and Oldasdirt midway through our warm-up, then dropped us without so much as an effort with four to go. I don’t know what she’s training for, but I’m putting my money on her to win it.
Bigdude in blue: Dude just pedaled around the tarck and looked happy as a clam doing it.
Since I only did the 100-lap warmup with Oldasdirt I got into the office early. Which is a bad thing. Right?