There’s a simple reason people stay away from the San Marcos circuit race: it hurts like a motherfucker.
If your dream bike race rolls around in smooth circles on a flat business park course, this is your worst nightmare. The 45+ Elderly Gentlemen With Prostrate Issues Race started hard, was hard in the middle, and hard at the end, so unlike the elderly gentlemen themselves, whose wives could only wish for such sustained firmness.
Before the race, teammates Alan Flores, John Geyer, and Ted Rupp took me aside. “Look, Wankmeister. You don’t have a fucking hope in hell on this course. It’s hard; you’re soft. It’s fast; you’re slow. The hill is relentless; you have more white flags in your back pocket than the French army. So don’t feel bad when you get dropped on the second or third lap. We do, however, have a mission for you to execute on behalf of the team: When you flame out, do it in front of G$ or Klasna or someone who’s going to be a factor in the race.”
Preparation is everything
The night before, I’d done an intensive bout of training with a giant turkey, dressing, apple pie, a bag of chips, lots of sour cream and hummus dip, and buttery green beans. G$ and Mighty Mouse had been at that same training event, and G$ had fully prepped me on what to expect.
“When I was in college, the pole vaulters always kept apart from all the other guys on the track and field team. They were different, I guess because you know they were always missing the mat and falling from 20 feet onto the track, or getting the wrong angle on the vault and hitting the steel uprights, or breaking the pole and getting shards of fiberglass run through their lungs, I’m not sure why, but they were just different.
“One time we went to El Paso for the UTEP meet and the pole vaulters were gone all night in Ciudad Juarez. We saw them the next morning and they were like, ‘We saw a dead guy and ate dog meat at a donkey show.’ Plus all of the TV’s in their rooms were in the swimming pool.”
I was confused. “But, uh, what does this have to do with the race tomorrow?”
“You’re gonna be like that dead guy, you know, dead. Or you’ll be like the dog meat, you know, skinned and cooked and eaten by somebody else. Or you’ll be like those TV’s, you know, torn out of the wall and drowned. Or you’ll be like the donkey’s partner, you know…”
I cringed at the thought of being the donkey’s partner. “Come on, G$. What can I do to get a good result tomorrow?”
“Remember that episode of Gilligan’s Island, where they had an Olympics?”
“Yeah, it was rad. They had an Olympics on the island, and everybody trained like crazy the day before. Skipper was lifting weights, and the Professor was doing push-ups, and Mrs. Howell was getting it on with Ginger, while Mary Ann was working out by shaving all the hair off Mr. Howell’s back. The only one who didn’t do anything was Gilligan. He just slept all day in his hammock. Then the next day, the day of the Olympics, he won everything because the others were so rat-crap tired and sore.”
“So what are you saying?”
“Rest up, buddy. The hay that’s in the barn tonight, that’s all the hay you’re gonna have come tomorrow.”
A short and vicious mashing
Everything they had told me about the difficulty of the course and the speed of the race had been grossly underestimated. From the starting gun, where I clipped my shoe into the neighboring guy’s front wheel and got to learn some new curse words, to the first turn where we leaned hard and jumped out of the saddle was like the final kick in a match sprint. We hurtled down the hill into a narrow chute of a turn, conveniently lined with uneven bricks and reflector thingies, and enhanced with a giant hard plastic pole about nut-height so that if you clipped it you’d never have to worry about those pesky paternity suits ever again.
The wankoton bunched at the turn then shot out onto the tailwind straightaway, whipped through Turn 2, paused for a brief moment, and charged into Turn 3 at the bottom of a bitterly steep but short wall. Turn 4 morphed into a false flat that kept falsing and not flatting all the way to the start/finish so that by the time we’d done the first lap I was desperately staring at the lap counter to see if it said “three to go” yet.
Steve Klasna and David Worthington launched on the second or third lap and were joined by Doug Pomerantz. After a lap of hesitation, SPY team boss Alan Flores punched it hard on the false flat, leaving the rest of us gassed, gassy, and gapped. Before a chase could get organized, Alan had closed the 15-second deficit to the break and began towing the break around at will. Each time up the hill his efforts put more and more daylight between the break and the wankoton.
With Worthington sitting on, and Big Orange enjoying a two-man advantage for the finish, it looked like a done deal. At the bottom of the climb on the last lap, Worthington jumped away from his team mate, who was astonished. Alan followed the move, waited until the helium had all mostly leaked out from Worthington’s sagging balloon, and lit the nuclear-tipped afterburner. With Pomerantz charging hard, Alan stomped harder and took the win by something like a million bike lengths.
A “spirited discussion” ensued between the two breakaway team mates, but no one was maimed, killed, or thrown under a passing vehicle, and no arrests were made.
Although far from anything that could be considered “action,” at the bottom of the hill as we completed the next to last lap I found myself on the point, pushing rather hard on the pedals and keenly aware that no one was coming around. On the last time up, I accelerated once again only to see Brett Clare of Amgen tearing by so fast that the vacuum created by his ramp-up was almost enough to suck me to the line. Almost. He won the field sprunt in a blur, whereas I valiantly defeated every single other rider who was trying to get 29th place.
After the vicious beating that was administered in the 45+ race, I went over to Sckubrats with team mates Erik Johnson and Ryan Dahl for a quick caffeine boost before the 35+ race. With the exception of a feeble surge five laps into the race, my total efforts consisted of hanging onto the very last slot for dear life and counting down from 20 laps. In the last position I got to see countless competitors melt and quit each time up the hill, and had the boundless pleasure of closing their gaps.
With three laps to go, a Monster Media breakaway was so far up the road that they were recalibrating their watches for the new time zone. I knew that Aaron Wimberley would be a factor in the sprunt, and chose that moment to move up from last place in an attempt to latch onto his wheel. I moved up about three wheels, past the dude with the giant saggy paunch, past the guy with the funny kneecap that was kind of on the back of his knee, and past the fellow whose backfat rippled up and down like a bowl of jelly.
The effort of passing even those three wankers was so extreme that I gave up my plan and reverted to Plan B: Finish last, but finish.
I’m pleased to say it was mission accomplished on my end, with Erik placing a very respectable 8th, and SPY/Swami’s wanker Stephen Lavery riding great considering he’d already done a race earlier in the day.
It wouldn’t be a race report without a description of Tinkerbell’s tour de force in her first circuit race. She was all aflutter about how she’d do, but needn’t have worried. They started the 1-3 race one minutes ahead of Tink’s 3-4 field…no problem. By keeping the pressure on she caught the 1-3 field, which, like the 3-4 field, had been decimated by the course. With only one rider left in her race, Tink easily took the win, leaving her to wonder if she should have raced with the 1-3 women instead. [Hint: Yes.]
The course was safe, well marshaled, and incredibly well organized. The great weather contributed to this great event, as did the numerous food trucks in the adjacent parking lot. Hats off to the organizers and officials and especially the volunteers for doing a great job.