I got up from my desk on Friday and tottered. My assistant gave me a funny look. I walked as quickly as possible to the restroom without running or trying to look panicked, calmly pushed open the door, noted with thanks to Dog that the only stall was open, all the while whipping off my belt, undoing my necktie, dropping my glasses on the washbasin, and getting the last button on my collar undone just in time to release everything in my stomach straight into the toilet bowl.
You know how just before you puke, your mouth starts to drizzle spit like a rabid dog and you get that nasty feeling of “Shit I don’t want this to come up but it feels even worse staying down,” and then nature takes over and it’s a kind of relief and release at the same time, with the acid from your stomach shooting up into your nose and burning like a match…you know that feeling?
I tried to mop up the mess with the handful of paper towels I’d grabbed as I waltzed in, then washed my face in the sink, went back to my desk, finished up with the discovery I was working on, and called it a day at 2:30 PM. By 3:15 I was in bed, feverish, vomiting, swilling lemonade and counting the minutes until Mrs. WM had finished brewing up a pot of chicken soup.
My Japanese Awesome Princess
My J-A-P makes the most awesome chicken soup, and it did its magic so that by Saturday morning I was able to have a light breakfast coffee, bagels with cream cheese and lox and onions and capers, and a bowl of yogurt with fruit, and some more chicken soup with noodles, and a bacon sandwich with some ice cream on the side.
The Donut Ride was off the calendar, so I puttered around on the Internets and flossed the puke out from my back molars, and finally by 5:00 PM was able to go to the store and buy some pistachios and make a run by the bike shop to get some new tires. Two of my best friends were coming by for dinner at 7:00, but I got a text from Ms. Awesomeness that said, “We’re running late; Mr. Awesome is coiffing his nether ‘do.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I texted back “Okay!” and about 7:30 they arrived. We immediately launched into a giant back of chips and homemade salsa and guac and a bag of pistachios and before long they and Mrs. WM were good and drunk. Dinner commenced and before long things gravitated to that natural topic of dinnertime conversation, circumcision.
Mrs. WM raised her eyebrow. “Whatta you mean circum decision?”
Ms. Awesome. “No, not circum decision. Circumcision.”
“Ooooh! Like-a they do on a Jewish boy?” Mrs. WM glanced over at her son, who was staring hard at his plate.
“Yes, that’s it,” said Mr. Awesome.
“Nah, we din’t do no circum decision on our boys, that’s a trimming on the tree but not gonna grow a longer branch. Good gardener don’t trim no tree top unless it’s a gonna sprout new shoots.”
No one really knew what to say, least of all Mrs. WM’s eldest son, who everyone was now staring at his plate and not saying anything. Leaping into the awkward breach, Mr. Awesome came to the rescue. “You know, I’ll never forget the time this lady and her husband came over to our house and she said, ‘Bill has the worst anus itch!'”
The forks all clattered and WM Jr. breathed a sigh of relief. “Now I’m telling you, if your husband has anus itch, that’s just not something to go and tell the neighbors over dinner. I’ll never forget that.”
With thoughts of anus itch and circum decision in our heads, we finished dinner, and topped it off with coffee and ice cream and fruit. By 11:00 I was ready for bed, as I had racing to do on Sunday, and my preparation was complete.
Spin out the legs before the race
I got up at 5:45 and met Jack from Illinois (not his real name) down at the Malaga Cove Fountains. We did a little 25-miler around the Hill, rode up to the Domes, and then I prepped with a pre-race chocolate croissant and double latte. We climbed back up to the top of the Hill, said our good-byes, and I returned home. It was 9:15, so I took the next step in my time-proven race prep: a 2-hour nap.
Mrs. WM rousted me with strong coffee and more bagels, before sending me off to the races with a peck on the cheek. “Why you wanna waste money at a stupid bike race? Last time even Harry helpin you, you got a didn’t never finish, so this time don’t get no didn’t never finish, okay?”
I promised I wouldn’t get another didn’t never finish and drove down to the Dominguez Hills course. First race was the 45+ Richard Meeker Victory Parade. This is a pretty basic offering for all local SoCal races; it’s an event where 75-100 riders donate $35 to Rich so that he can practice his crit skills…not that he really needs the practice.
With a howling headwind on the back side of the course, several doomed breakaways were brought back by the bitter wall of wind. It became clear that in order to become the next 45+ State Criterium Champ, I would need a plan. So I made a couple of charts in my head that looked like this:
|Way to Beat Rich Meeker #1|
|Sit in and Wait ’til the Sprint|
|Don’t have to work||Have never beaten Rich in a sprint|
|Surprise||Have never beaten anyone in a sprint|
|Exciting to watch||Have never been near a sprint|
|Can hang out at the back||Don’t know how to sprint|
|Can chit-chat with friends||Afraid of crashing|
|Doesn’t matter what happens in the race||Don’t like to bump other riders|
|Poor cornering skills|
|Unsure of wind direction|
|Poor at judging distance to line|
|Terrible in-pack maneuvering skills|
|Unclear how to move up in last few
|Easily frightened by loud yelling|
|Tend to brake in all the turns|
|Often grind a pedal in the turns|
|Jump to soon|
|Jump too late|
|Don’t usually have a jump after
|Haven’t developed victory pose
|Way to Beat Rich Meeker #2|
|Looks cool||Have never won out of a breakaway|
|Can appreciate each yelling fan||Have never been in a breakaway|
|Plays to my “diesel” style||Unsure of what breakaways look like|
|Doesn’t require a field sprint||Unsure of how they form|
|Unsure how you get into them
|They look very tiring|
|They look very hard|
|Rich is a great breakaway rider|
|Rich can easily bridge to any dangerous
|Rich can easily outsprint anyone in the
|Give up easily|
|Don’t like prolonged pain or discomfort|
|This is almost as absurd as trying to
win in a sprint
Conclusion: I should not be in this race
After reviewing my table of pros and cons, it became apparent that there was no path to victory. My chance of winning was zero. So the next obvious step was to quit. Two laps had already gone by, and I was the last rider out of about a hundred. As I whizzed through Turn One, planning my graceful exit at the upcoming driveway, I heard an unmistakeable scream: “Wanky! Go to the front!”
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had a cheering section in a bike race, but when you hear your name called out, it gives you wings. The next time ’round I peered up, and there they were were, New Girl, Sparkles, Miz Prez, and Mighty Mouse all planted in the shade at the outside of the turn, screaming in unison, “Wanky! Go to the front!”
Well, there was no quitting now. I had the cuties on my side! And since I was the very last rider in the bunch, all the other spectators could see me perfectly. Forget having to pick some doofus wearing a gray outfit out of the middle of a pack of a hundred people wearing gray. Plus, my little camera was hooked onto the front of my bars.
Now that they were cheering me each lap and telling me to go to the front, there was no way I was going to the front. Each time around I got happier and happier, and this was abetted by the fact that when you are lounging at the back of a 45+ elderly prostate crit, it’s not exactly taxing. I got caught up with KK about his recent hour record. I fiddled with my camera. I sat up and stretched. Way in front people appeared to be working, but what concern was that of mine? All I had to do was smile and wave to the cuties once a lap.
Soon enough, though, it was five to go, and “Go to the front!” became a moral imperative. I charged halfway up the pack. With four to go I advanced some more. With three to go I was in the top fifteen. My cuties were screaming madly, but I had my hands full with the idiots who were bumping my bars, crowding me in the turns, and trying to kill me.
With two to go I was in the top ten, and out of Turn 3 I blasted to the front. A small gap opened on the field (later reports had it at between sixteen and four inches), but terror had been struck into the heart of Rich Meeker, who tried to hide his fear by chuckling. The giant of the peloton was glued to my wheel as we flew through Turn 4, with the mighty Wankmeister drilling out a brutal tattoo past the finish line and straight into the screams and cries of his cuties, all bunched up in Turn 1 and certain that today was his day.
Shortly past the turn a committee of acids, mainly of the lactate party, held a caucus and chose a new candidate for the remainder of the lap. That candidate was called Mr. Anaerobic Respiration, and he was a much slower and more reluctant candidate than the earlier nominee who had so enthusiastically endorsed the Wankmeister for Champion platform, Mr. Aerobic Respiration. The lactic acid committee delivered their new candidate to each and every one of my muscles, including my brain, with a freshly painted sign painted in sharp spikes of pain that said, “Quit Pedaling Now You Asshole Before You Die!”
With the last cheers of the cuties ringing in my ears, I slipped off the front, then back to the first 20, then the first 40, then the first 50, and finally to the tail end of the bunch. There was a sprunt, far, far away. As I straggled across the line in 87th place, the announcer said, “Rich Meeker! State champion again!”
But all I could wonder was this: is the podium’s top step as wonderful as hearing your name called out each lap by adoring cuties? I suspect I’ll never find out.