This year’s recipient of the South By Hammer and Sexy Pop Star Award goes to Rudy Napolitano. There’s just no one on the scene except Rudy who can hammer like a madman during the day, and make the teenyboppers swoon in his apres-bike skinny jeans and fashionable t-shirt by night. Except Noel O’Malley. And he’s in a different age category.
Briefly, Rudy had (another) incredible year racing his bicycle. National road champion, beating a stacked 35+ field that included the-dude-who-eats-nails-for-breakfast, Karl Bordine. Third overall at the Tour of the Gila, a stage race so brutal that participants brag about not dying. Second at the Glencoe Grand Prix, one of the country’s premiere crits.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” you’re saying. “We want to know about the Sexy Pop Star part.”
The Sexy Pop Star Part
Unlike Justin Timberbieber, Rudy did not get his start on the Micky Mouse Club. He got his start in the pain cave. After college, where he was a lacrosse standout, he migrated north to play semi-pro box lacrosse for the Akwasasne Lightning.
Unlike field lacrosse, where pampered white college boys gingerly run up and down a manicured field engaging in gentle physical contact, box lacrosse is typically played by Native Americans on an ice hockey rink, minus the ice. In other words, they play on a concrete slab with walls. In other words, it’s cage fighting with big wooden sticks.
Whereas the college boy version involved lots of faux toughness, the Indian version involved beating the living shit out of each other by grown, angry men who had been on the warpath against marauding white people for about 300 years. When Rudy showed up, they took one look at his equipment and scoffed. “You gonna get broke in half, boy,” Spiking Bad Mallet told him. Spiking Bad Mallet was the coach and goalie.
During his first match against the Kahnawake Mohawks, Rudy had three ribs broken by No Scalp Down, one of the most fearsome defenders in the league. As he was writhing in pain, Spiking Bad Mallet leaned over him. “What you pissing about, white boy? You said you wanna play Indian lacrosse. Get you pussy off the concrete and run it off. Only broke rib, maybe.”
Rudy staggered to his feet and limped up and down the field for the remaining five minutes of the match. Then he collapsed. “You do not so bad for little pussy white boy,” Spiking Bad Mallet said. “So we gonna get him a big penalty.” He pointed over at No Scalp Down.
“Penalty? The game’s fucking over,” said Rudy.
Spiking Bad Mallet looked at Rudy and shook his head. “In Indian country,” he said, “Game is never fucking over.”
That night they all drove to Ginch’s Likker Den in Ontario where No Scalp Down was drinking with his buddies. The team rushed the bar and beat everyone up with sticks, fists, broken bottles, and knives. After they got out of jail, Spiking Bad Mallet said “Him get big-ass penalty in hospital now with broken head and split liver. Maybe six month.”
After two seasons Rudy decided that he’d had enough, and moved to Manhattan to work at the American Stock Exchange, where the people were lots more brutal and vicious, but didn’t use fists or knives or lacrosse sticks.
Have some Coke and a smile
Working his way up from coffee runner to trading clerk on the electronic trading floor, Rudy learned everything there was to know about trading on Wall Street from his mentor, Buzz Dicer.
His first day on the job, Buzz took him aside. “Son, what are you good at?”
“I played pro box lacrosse for a couple of years.”
“What the fuck is that? No, don’t tell me, I don’t give a fuck. Let me tell you what you need to be able to do make it on the Street, okay?”
“Ah, fuck it, let’s go get high,” Buzz said, and staggered off to the men’s room to do a few lines of coke. “Okay, so where the fuck were we?” Buzz asked.
“You were going to tell me what I need to know to make it on the Street.”
“Oh, yeah. Fuck, I’ll say anything when I’m not high, huh? Yeah. Well, here’s the rules: One–Do lots of coke. Two–Screw everybody. Three–Do more coke.”
Unfortunately, the excitingness and funness and wowness of Wall Street was inversely proportional to the intensity of one’s coke addiction, so for a sober clerk like Rudy it just didn’t have the charm that it had, say, for a coke-crazed sociopath on his fifth marriage at age thirty like Buzz. Plus, Buzz died of a heroin overdose shortly after taking Rudy under his wing, and thirty just seemed like such a young age to have to die at.
Rather than choosing death, Rudy chose the next best thing and moved to Hermosa Beach, where he found that his experience with psychopathically violent lacrosse wifebeaters and sociopathic Wall Street narcissists had conditioned him to instantly be able to relate to bike racers.
After getting his Cat 2 upgrade, Rudy moved to Belgium, where he raced for a few months with the Kingsnorth International Wheelers. Shortly upon arrival in Kortrijk, he met with the team boss, Herndy van Hooydonck. “So you American boy want to race Belgian and be de nexte Lance, eh?”
“I’n gonna tell to you about de how is racing in Belgie, Junior Lance. On de first, you get on de fiets.”
“De fiets. You get on de fiets and you pedal de fiets like a fucker. Dat’s how you race in de Belgie.”
“How many guys are on the team?”
“You don’t need to know de team, just ride de fiets. Because you gonna pop offa de back real soon. Just hammer on de fiets, Lance Junior.”
Hammering on de fiets
Thanks to lots of hammering on de fiets, Rudy got noticed by Rock Racing and picked up a two-year contract with Michael Ball’s outfit. He got to do lots of big races with big names in the sport, and got to witness lots of drama, most of which happened every time that Ball opened his mouth.
Rudy kept racing after Ball fired everyone and decided to make Rock and Republic famous in bankruptcy court, and a few years and a few teams later Rudy’s still racing and paying his bills with his bike.
Rudy’s currently riding for Time Factory Team, but will be racing with Stage 17 in 2013 as well. The teams share bike a sponsor, Time, so it will be a seamless arrangement. What makes him happy? “Getting to race a shit ton.”
“How much is a ‘shit ton’?” I asked.
“It’s approximately three fuckloads.”
As everyone in the South Bay knows, Rudy likes to train a lot and he likes to train with people who like to train a lot. Unfortunately, there are only one or two people in Southern California who can do the requisite miles for someone with a “shit ton” of racing on his calendar.
Those people include Katie “Three Run Single Donovan,” Nick “The Dentist” Pollack, and Surfer Dan.
Look for even more awesome results for Rudy in 2013. Look for chronic fatigue, lactic acidosis, and physical collapse in his training partners. Trust me on that.