The Donut Ride began with the fakeness of every group ride. People who would, in minutes, be stomping each others’ testicles with mindless fury, instead slapped backs, smiled, and asked the eternally meaningless question asked on every group slugfest ever, shortly before the slugging began. “How ya doing, Bill?”
Bill, his sphincter puckered so tight you couldn’t prize it open with a stick of lit dynamite, lied as sincerely as he could. “Doing great. You?”
Neither was doing great, and if they were, that was about to change. Eighty idiots had coalesced for the weekly Saturday romp along the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and like any good flash mob, they all knew the routine.
- Crush (or)
- Be crushed
- Repeat until you end at #2
This week also promised big fireworks, as a Facebag tempest had raised the question of bragging rights as to “best climber in the South Bay.” After an intense battle of adjectives, supporting oaths sworn to by paid surrogates, and references to various Strava KOM’s, near-KOM’s, and teammate assisted/wind assisted/motor assisted/drug assisted KOM’s, the protagonists in the “Battle for the Hill” had decided to duke it out like men, or at least like skinny little fellows with eating disorders on plastic bicycles in their underwear.
Most observers concurred that the King of the Hill was Surfer Dan, and not because he was the fastest one up the hill. Rather, Surfer was the acknowledged champ because of his surfing ability, his hairy legs, and his infinite good humor. Even though the Wily Greek had faster climbing times, Wily was notorious for attacking, sneaking in front of oncoming traffic, and driving wheel suckers over onto the left-hand side of the road to certain death. Worst of all, Wily was guilty of youth.
Surfer on the other hand was no longer a pup and instead a sort of eminence blonde-turning-grise, a mentor of upcoming wankers, and most importantly a rider who never shirked his turn on the front, except for those times that he did.
The tempest-in-a-Facebag challenger was little known to newcomers, but well known by the old guard. “Analytics” MacGruder believed that excellence in cycling was a function of numerical analysis. No one had bothered to point out that “excellence in cycling” was an impossible quality right up there with “military intelligence,” “military music,” and “Republican family values.”
Analytics, or “Anal” for short, had crunched every number, reviewed every Strava/WKO+ data point, and calculated every VAM, WHAM, and BAM (excluding only, perhaps, the “Thank you, Ma’am”) and concluded that if Surfer Dan were the best climber on the Hill, then he was numerically better. And numbers don’t lie.
The day of reckoning
This Donut Ride began with a ferocity not seen since the days of the Donut of Yore, when the course was shorter, had fewer climbs, and could be ridden hard from start to finish. The modern Donut with Nail and Glass Sprinkles admitted of no such riding. Any rider who hit the gas hard early would be gaffed and gutted on the first climb up the Switchbacks.
Much early wheelsucking was observed as Surfer, Anal, Wily, and the Destroyer hid artfully behind the efforts of Pistol Pete, Wankmeister, Erik the Red, and Wee Willy Winkums. Winkums stormed up from Malaga Cove, and each time that Wanky came around Winky, Winky would take a breath and wank back around Wanky. It was Wanky, then Winky, then Wanky, then Winky! The excitement was palpable!
On Paseo del Mar, Erik the Red pushed the pace of the early break up to a modest 40 mph, causing so much damage in the flailing chase group that by the bump in Lunada Bay fully half of the field had already declared victory, turned around, and prepared a lengthy description for their wives to suffer through over a hero’s breakfast of pancakes and beer.
Pistol Pete kept the Donut Testicle Vise clamped down hard on the survivors as the reconstituted group sped through Lunada Bay. With the other protagonists still seeking shameful shelter while Old Leathery Balls Wankmeister and Wee Willy Winkums pounded at the front, one thing became clear: when the remnants of the field hit the legendary Switchbacks, at least two riders would be toast.
The art of addition
Unhappily, when the field hit the Switchbacks, there was only one piece of toast rather than two, as Wee Willy Winkums, clad in his superman USC cycling outfit, took a brief breath and fully recovered in a few pedal strokes as Wankmeister detonated into small fragments of ego and self-pity, not to be seen again for a while.
The field was now reduced to about fifteen corpses, and Surfer Dan rowed to the front, beating the wheel suckers over the head and shoulders with his mighty, hairy oars. Anal cowered and hid in the rear, as one after another the group was reduced to the Stupendous Six: Surfer, Anal, Wily, the Destroyer, Winky, and Pistol Pete.
After a sustained effort, Surfer swung over, his leg hairs covered in lactic acid, his day done. But at least, he said to himself, Anal had been wiped.
To his chagrin, Anal was clinging tenaciously like the experienced dingleberry he was, and Surfer saw that he was going to be the victim of his own heroics. Wiping the lactic acid off his leg hairs and flashing his new tooth at the crowds linking the road, he surged back onto the tail end of the break and caught his breath just as the riders approached the Final Ascent to the Domes of Death.
Anal, unable to handle the short kicker that began the final climb, performed a series of statistical analyses and computed the height-weight-airflow coefficient of his current power output. The conclusion was that the only way he could reduce the burning pain in his lungs and the unendurable agony in his legs and the swimming, watery, barely focused field of vision dancing before his eyes was to give up.
So he did, and the Stupendous Six became the Fabulous Five.
Next to come unhitched was Surfer, although it was in another zip code from Anal. Wee Willy Winkums was pounding the snot out of the Destroyer, and even though the Destroyer kept reminding him “Have respect for your elders!” and “I’m old enough to be your grandmother’s grandfather!” Winky kept dousing the followers with repeated ladles-full of pain broth.
Surfer spiraled out of control.
Wily then launched another of his infamous attacks and only Pistol Pete could follow. It is unclear who actually got to the top first, but it doesn’t really matter because the real battle had been between Surfer and Anal, and Surfer had kicked Anal’s butt.
Moral: Numbers may not lie, but they are often misunderstood, especially by cyclists.
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