I’ve been talking it up for the last couple of years. You know, the North County SPY Holiday Ride is the baddest ride around. None of this troll your sorry ass from CotKU to Mandeville for a 16-minute race against anorexics bullshit, no, a real, honest-to-goodness fuckfest of a beatdown, where your sit-in strategems, one-trick ponies, and assorted Los Angeles creampuff bullshit won’t get you anything other than a new set of coffin nails.
I had ’em scared with the tales of terror.
Ryan Dahl and Phil Tinstman, the twin wheelmen of the apocalypse. Zink, Finanger, Fiedler, Johnson, Marckx, Abate, Cerra, Rogers, and a whole host of North County beatdown mutants were licking their chops at the chance to gnaw the bones of the LA County softmen … that’s the story I’d been telling and the Strava numbers I’d been posting to prove it.
Finally, unable to take the catcalls and the derision any longer, Big Orange ponied up a trio of hammers: Stathis Sakellariadis, Rico Somethingorother, and Jay LaPlante (along with Peyton Cooke to drink the leftover beer) drove down as emissaries for the SPY Thanksgiving Holiday Ride to see if it was as tough as I’d billed it.
They left the North County’s riders in bloody fucking tatters.
Where’s the beef?
I knew something was wrong when at the roll out along PCH there was only a hundred or so riders, a shadow of the 200+ flailers that had shown up for the Labor Day and July 4 holiday rides. Worse, the pre-ride mutterings were rife with excuses. Apparently, the day before, Mark Cavendish had shown up with a brace of hammers to meet-and-greet the North County cycling community.
After simultaneously creaming in their shorts, the bossmen of North County put on a demonstration of speed and pain that had the world champ going sideways. “Sure, he’s been off the bike. Sure, he’s resting. Sure, it’s just a goodwill tour,” said one rider. “But either he was gonna go faster than us, or we were gonna go faster than him. And we rode accordingly.”
The upshot was that, come Thanksgiving Day, there was no upshot, only limpshot.
The biggest names in North County either failed to appear or showed up weak and tired, daring to sacrifice a morning of glory for lifetime memories with wives and children. It was quite shocking, really.
Stathis the Wily Greek didn’t know or care about the excuses, the family obligations, or the pants-creaming brought on by a pedal with Cav. He had been told that this was a signature ride, and, along with Rico and Peyton and Jay, had gotten up at 4:00 AM to make the trek down to North County. He had come to ride.
Although Rico was the only South Bay rider to show his face at the front prior to Del Dios, Stathis scooped up 9th overall on the prestigious SDR climb his first time out. And although the absence of the North County hardmen (were they afraid to come out?) meant that the times were slower, when the group hit Del Dios, Stathis toyed with the field.
As he and Rico pedaled away from the lead group, mere spots in the distance, the North County riders who remained could only gaze longingly after them. To make matters worse, after Del Dios some B+L wanker went flying off the Lake Hodges road at 30 mph, launched his bike thirty feet into the air, and fell twenty feet off a cliff and into a ditch.
Thankfully, he landed on his head, the one place that B+L bikers can batter away at with no fear of damage, as the interior is generally filled with rocks or sand. Fully expecting a rider with a broken neck, we watched as “Chris” dragged his scuffed ass out of the ditch and completed the ride. How someone who does this ride a zillion times a year misses the turn and hurls himself into a tree-filled ravine can only be explained by this phrase: “He’s an idiot.”
The return from Lake Hodges lacked the customary ferocity of Jess, Thurlow, and MMX, but Rico found the front for a couple of hard pulls. As if to underscore the relative slowness of the ride, the long haul from Santa Fe to Santa Luz, a segment I’ve never stuck with before (and which was more than a minute slower than the “full gas” Strava times), had a Swami’s rider on the front the whole way.
IS THERE ANY GREATER SHAME TO THE NORTH COUNTY THAN A SWAMI’S RIDER TOWING THE ENTIRE FIELD UP A CLIMB? I THINK NOT.
Although the Big Orange contingent of Rico and Stathis was more or less nonexistent on the way back with the exception of a couple of hard pulls on San Dieguito, and although Stathis fell off the back somewhere along PCH, their point had been made: the North County ride ain’t that tough, and despite the heroics of Lee Hodgins and Leroy as well as Logan/EJ/Tait on Del Dios, there was no one to gainsay them.
To add to the humiliation of it all, Stathis and Rico were enthusiastic about the ride. “This is great!” they said. Jay was so perky after the ride that he practically sprinted down the main street in Encinitas in search of a beer.
“Aren’t your legs sore?” I asked.
“Nope!” he said. “I feel great! What an awesome ride! How about you?”
“I feel fine, too, except for the body ache and the rubber legs and the pounding migraine and the … ”
Jay laughed as we hit the bar. “One extra-large Racer 5 IPA for my pal, who needs it!” he said.
Will the real men and women of the North County please stand up?
I’m going to have a hard time holding my head up in the South Bay after having built up the North County ride so much. The South Bay hammers now think it’s a cakewalk. Even Peyton, who took one solitary pull the entire ride, finished with the group.
Will there be a Christmas or New Year’s Day ride to make up for this shameful embarrassment, a ride at which the giants of the North County will make their presence known? Email me the details, and please don’t shoot your bullets in a cock-flop with Cav the day before the ride. The South Bay hammers will not judge you kindly if you do.