I go to bike races because they are weird. Daily life for most people isn’t very weird, unless of course you’re The Sherri Foxworthy. For some reason weird follows her around like bad tattoos at a meth convention, but for everyone else life is generally ordinary.
You get up, have some coffee, watch something stupid on TV, check Facebag, brush your teeth unless you’re from Texas, drive to work, come home, watch some more TV-Facebag, eat dinner, go to bed. Then on weekends from August to February you watch the football game thingy they play with the bats and saucers.
Bike races, though, are like a grand buffet of weird. This past Sunday, after getting stomped in a three-man breakaway by Frank Schroeder and Steve Gregarios, I was standing around marveling at being on the podium twice in two days. Then up came my buddy and said, “Hey, could you help out a fellow racer?”
Of course the answer to that is always “No,” or “Fuck, no.” It’s a good answer for life in general, and it’s why I go out of my way to be selfish, stingy, and unwilling to lend a hand unless it’s someone else’s. Being nice is its own kind of hell, and once people find out that you’re a soft touch you might as well give them your credit card, checkbook, key to the house and exact hours that your wife is home in bed alone.
The way I keep from ever being asked to help is by scowling. I’ve learned that if you scowl all the time people will leave you alone, especially when they need money. Problem is that a few people know the scowl is a ruse, and I’m not very good at turning down requests once they’re actually asked.
So when my pal asked if I could help a fellow racer, I wanted to say, “Fuck, no, I hate bike racers,” but instead I said, “What’s up?” hoping that in a few seconds I’d gather the confidence to utter the “Fuck, no” I really wanted to say.
“Pooky McGillicuddy fell in Turn 4.”
“He was sprunting for 45th place in the Cat 5 race with his head down and he fell off his bicycle.”
“Is he hurt?” I tried to look like I cared.
“Yeah, the meatwagon has already taken him off.”
“That’s too bad,” I said, marveling that everyone in the Cat 5 race hadn’t been carted away.
“Anyway, he came here alone and he’s not on a team and we’re trying to find someone who can drive his truck and bike back to his house for him and since you rode your bike to the race maybe you could … ”
“Drive his car home for him?”
“Sure, I’d be glad to,” I said, feeling something very opposite to glad and very close to miserable. “Where does he live?”
“Pedro. It’s not too far from your place.”
My buddy handed me the keys and a scrap of paper with Pooky’s address and phone number. “You can just park it outside his house and give him a call when you get there to let him know you’ve dropped it off.”
“No prob,” I said, thinking “Major prob because I don’t have my phone.”
His truck had a rack in the bed. Someone had mounted his bike on the rack and locked it with a very flimsy locking thingy. I took off my new rad FastForward full carbon front wheel which is made of full carbon and leaned it against the truck. Then I put my bike in the rack and hopped in.
I hate driving other people’s cars. It is like fucking someone else’s wife. The seat feels different, the knobs are different, it moves different, it sounds different when it’s running hot, it even feels different when you put your key in the hole and have to jiggle it.
I backed up and ran over my brand new FastForward full carbon front wheel which is made of full carbon and has incredible lateral stiffness except not as much as a 2,000-pound truck. Now I know that in addition to making a really cool “whoosh, whoosh” sound when they are flying downhill, they also make a really horrible “crunch, crunch” sound when you run over them with a truck. I will, however, return it with a request for a full warranty.
Inside Pooky’s truck were the accoutrements of someone who lived in a high crime area; locks and bolts and security thingies everywhere. As I started driving I knew I had made a mistake. I didn’t know if the car was insured but was afraid to open the glove box because it was probably filled with heroin and when I got pulled over I’d get busted for that, too. Then I started worrying about dropping off the car with its 10k of bike in the back, secured with a padlock you could bust off with a strong bean fart.
If I left the rig on the street in Pedro it would be stripped cleaner than a pole dancer’s ass at ten minutes before closing, and then Pooky would file a police report and name me as the suspect. Great. So now I was going to have to sit outside his house until he got back from the hospital around midnight.
As I cruised through his neighborhood, a miracle happened. He lived in a gated compound with security guards who wouldn’t even let me in.
“Am I glad to see you,” I said, realizing that it wasn’t mutual. “This is gonna sound weird but this isn’t my truck or bike, well one of ’em is, and I need to drop this off but I’ll leave it here so you guys can watch it.”
They looked at me suspiciously. “We recognize the truck. Where’s Mr. McGillicuddy?”
“Hospital. Long story.” I flipped them the keys and started to take out my bike. Then I realized that I didn’t have a front wheel, but no problem. I could borrow Pooky’s. He wouldn’t be riding for a while anyway, and he had a pretty fancy wheelset with new tires to boot.
I scribbled a note and left it on the dash: “Yo, Pooky, I took your wheel but will return it. Wanky.”
I pedaled home, a mere hour away. It was, as they say, win-win. And when you count Saturday’s race, it was win-win-win.
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