A matter of manners

October 30, 2012 § 14 Comments

Some things are simple, like manners. Biking makes these simple things even simpler.

Clawing my way up Latigo yesterday I passed a woman and her boyfriend. “Hey, guys,” I said.

“Hey,” said the dude.

“Nice socks!” said the chick, admiring my pink unicorn Gnarlube calf-high stockings.

A couple of minutes later the dude had caught up to me. “You didn’t think I was going to let you just ride away as easy as that, did you?” he said, rudely, challenging.

“I’m just riding tempo by myself today,” was what I said.

What I thought was, “Fuck you, asshole.” Predictably, things went from tempo to threshold. Then I was by myself again.

What kind of dude drops his girlfriend to chase down a pair of chickenlegs in pink socks? Answer: Someone with very bad manners.

What happens to rude cyclists? Answer: They get shelled. Unceremoniously.

Mind if I leech?

After Latigo I headed north on PCH and met up with the Big Orange contingent a few miles after the Ventura County line. They were coming back from the Rock at Point Mugu. I u-turned and sat in for a few miles, chatting with Ron and Tink until a mechanical caused the group to stop.

I continued on with Robert Ephthamos, a dude with a terribly hard name to pronounce, much less spell, all dressed up in a Garmin kit. “I gotta get home,” he half-apologized as he picked up the pace. I could tell after a few moments that he was a relatively new rider, but game and ready to work.

We rode a hard tempo, easing up while passing under Cher’s compound in Malibu Colony. At Cross Creek we lifted the pace again after the stoplight. A group of four or five wankers saw this as their opportunity for a free ride, and hitched on.

Robert was lathered up, and so was I. After four miles the leeches hadn’t made the slightest effort to come through. “Robert,” I said as he rotated off of a particularly long pull, “make the fuckers pull through.”

My next pull was brief, and Robert had gone all the way to the back. The next guy in line put his hands on the tops as I slowed and swung over. “I can’t pull through!” he shouted.

–Next Line Is Absolutely True–

“I’m not strong enough!” he wailed.

–End Of Absolutely True Line–

I thought he was going to cry, like the time I told my dad “I can’t do word problems!” while struggling over  Fourth Grade math.

“I don’t give a fuck,” I said. “If you’re strong enough to suck wheel, you’re strong enough to pull through. This isn’t a charity ride with you as the beneficiary. Get your saggy ass up here and take a pull.”

By now I’d slowed down so much that he could have easily come through, but the belief in his own mind that he couldn’t was so great that he just stopped pedaling. Robert roared by and I followed.

One of the wankers stayed with us, and after Robert and I took our turns he eased up next to me. “Do you want me to take a pull?”

“When you go to someone’s house for dinner, do you ask if they want you to refrain from pissing all over the toilet seat?” I asked. “Hell yes I want you to take a fucking pull!”

He pulled through. Rather large, and rather offended, and very well rested, he began winding up the speed until we were going well over thirty. Robert and I tucked behind the Cadillac draft as I counted strokes. At pedal stroke sixty, his shoulders started to sag and wobble a little bit. Then the speed started to drop. Then his pedal strokes changed from circles to squares to raggedy triangles.

This, of course, was the teachable moment. He’d overcome his inclination to suck wheel and, with a little prodding, had done the right thing, obeying the imperative of the paceline: He’d gone to the front.

Moreover, he’d put in a big effort. He’d behaved in a way worthy of redemption and forgiveness, such that if I now came through steadily and not too fast he could latch on, recover, and perhaps help out a few miles later. He would learn a valuable lesson about sharing the work, and more importantly, about the bonds of friendship that are built between strangers as they toil into the wind at their physical limits, sharing the work each according to his ability.

So I did the only respectable thing that I could do, both as a representative of cycling in the South Bay, as an older and experienced rider, and as someone who understands and profoundly respects what road cycling is all about, which is to say I attacked him so fucking hard that I thought I’d puke.

When my eyes refocused, Robert was pulling through at full throttle, a long string of drool splattered along his face. I jumped on his wheel and glanced back to confirm that our good friend was dropped and a receding speck in the distance.

Just before we settled back into a rhythm of dull, aching pain, Robert asked “Were you trying to teach that guy a lesson?”

“No,” I said. “The lesson was for you.”

He grinned and let the big meat sing.

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§ 14 Responses to A matter of manners

  • privateer says:

    You should have dropped back to ride with the chick.

  • A-Trav says:

    Like the poor cat in the adage…

  • Fields says:

    Let the big meat sing: “Ahhhh.”

  • Leonard (King Harold's little bro) says:

    WM – love reading your blog, especially when you recap a training ride / race – I’m in stitches every time. Keep up the good work.

    • Admin says:

      There was an epic ballad of King Harold last Thursday, but I haven’t gotten around to writing it yet. Epic, I say.

  • Jeff says:

    I will never understand the mentality of roadies.

  • vavoom says:

    Here’s another example of our mentality.

    At the end of a 70 mile ride I was riding home on La Costa between the 5 and El Camino. Its a ~2 mile stretch which is very well strava-ed – ridden by 1297 people at last check. It’s a net grade of -0.4% (so it favors the fast and furious). I happen to be top 10 on this segment.

    On this particular Saturday, after my ride I was riding down the coast with a couple on a tandem and another gentleman in tow. When I turned onto La Costa and slowed down, the tandem blew by me – so I thought there goes my cool-down. I followed them for about half the segment then took a hard pull.

    I didn’t look back until the end of the segment and when I did, I’d dropped everyone. The other gentleman came by and said, “you know the couple on the tandem tried to keep up and then pulled over and they were puking”.

    I thought – on a ride with your wife, why would you go so hard that she had to puke? => it’s how we roll I guess…

    • Admin says:

      The key to how fucked up you are is the line where you say, “At the end of a 70 mile ride I was riding home…”

      Well, if you’re still riding it’s still not the end of the ride, but in the typical delusional state we segregate “riding” from merely “pedaling the bike” or “using the bike to actually go somewhere like home, work, funeral parlor, etc.”

      In fact, if you’re truly ill, and being in the top-anything on Strava means you are, you probably don’t even count the miles that you ride “after the ride” as actual riding. They’re called “cool down” or something. Not real miles. Of course not.

      Surfer Dan and I were laughing our asses off about this after a ride, while I was riding home, but you see, the 1,100 feet of climbing to get to the top of the Hill wasn’t part of the ride, because neither of us was really riding up it. You know, we weren’t gasping, wild-eyed, etc. Dan also commented about how sprunting with bike pathaletes on his cruiser bike NEVER counted as riding or miles or anything, despite the anaerobic state, because you can’t actually “ride” on a fat-tire cruiser bike.

      Finally, I like the fact that after making some dude vomit, you blamed him for it. NICE!!!!

      I’d recommend you to a good therapist, but am afraid that you’d make me go first, and I’m too busy riding to get therapy.

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