This town ain’t big enough for the two of ya

Every Thursday we have a little ride called the Flog Ride, or Love & Thursday, or the Joe’s Sleeping in Again Ride. You can’t always count on who’s going to show up, but you can count on this:

  1. NJ Pedal Beater will be there.
  2. You will get dropped.

NJ Pedal Beater is English, but he’s lived in the U.S long enough so that we can sort of understand him. Not that we get to chat with him much, because he rides on the front as hard as he can until he either drops everyone or until he blows, or both. NJ Pedal Beater always smiles and is hail-fellow-well-met, but he doesn’t ride 25 miles one-way on Thursdays to make the Flog Ride’s 6:35 AM liftoff in order to make small talk.

He does it because the Flog Ride provides the only non-racing weekday opportunity unencumbered by stop lights or shrieking ride bosses demanding that you pull through, or stop for traffic, or take reasonable steps to prevent killing yourself and others. No, the Flog Ride is a kind of delectably rare truffle that simply offers up a relentless, hilly beating for 60 minutes before work.

Unlike the Flog Ride’s Thursday competition, the New Pier Ride, you can’t sit in. Essentially you get up early, drink your coffee, roll to the start, say hello, and spend the rest of the morning by yourself. It is a great ride for introverts. NJ Pedal Beater is a very social introvert in that he always says “Hello” before zooming away. If you’re unlucky enough to be strong enough to hold his wheel, you had better stay alert because NJ Pedal Beater has a bad case of the droops, where his head hangs down and he fearlessly plows over metal grates, rocks, tree limbs, and anything else in his way.

As much as you’d love to advise him on proper etiquette (avoiding large chasms, pointing shit out, not descending the wet 180-degree peacock-filled turns full gas, not crossing the DYL, not making the 90-degree right hook onto PV Drive North full tilt) you never actually can because he’s always in front of you and you’re gassed or he’s dangling off the front and you’re gassed or he’s attacking and you’re gassed or he’s a tiny little speck in a galaxy far, far, away.

NJ Pedal Beater is the toughest rider in the wankoton, hands down. He recently awoke at 2:35 AM, hopped on his bike, and did a 300-mile round trip ride, stopping once and averaging 18.6 mph. He has the recovery of a small child, and no matter how cracked and broken he appears to be, as soon as he gulps twice he’s back pounding at the front.

This morning was no different. NJ Pedal Beater zoomed off, followed by the Wily Greek. This was our cue for an easier flogging on the Flog Ride, and it was easier–for a moment or two. That’s when a new face rolled to front and began administering a very painful Brazilian wax. Soon enough we were in the gutter, breathless, cursing, and livid at being made to grovel on the wheel of a youngish wanker with more leg hair than a silverback, midget socks, and a complete lack of concern for our misery.

In addition, as if any were needed, he pointed out all obstacles well in advance, took safe and clean lines, kept his head up, and held a steady, surge-free, nut-crunching pace.

I flatted, thank dog, and what was left of the chasers raced away.

Many minutes later I clawed to the finish atop La Cuesta. NJ Pedal Beater and the others were there. I went up to the new kid. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“Alx Bns,” he said.

“Bns? That’s a weird name.”

“No, it’s ‘Bns,'” he said, which sounded suspiciously like what he’d said a second ago.

“Been riding long?” I asked.

The response shocked me. I can’t even approximate it, but it sounded like this: “Istaatdsmtimbkprpsayrrrtoagonnmrdnwthbgrnge.”

“Dude,” I said, fearing the worst, “don’t be so stingy with the vowels. They’re free here in America.”

He muttered some more singsong consonants and then I looked over at NJ Pedal Beater, who had clearly understood everything he’d said. A light went on: Bns was another Englishman. Or maybe just another mad dog. I hesitated before calling him a wanker, knowing that among those of the green citrus persuasion it’s a mild insult, kind of like calling someone “anus face.”

“Look here, wanker,” I said. “You’re beastly strong, bloody tough, tea and crumpets and all that rot. But we already have one crazy strong Englishman who kicks us in the groin every Thursday, and we don’t need another.”

Bns warbled some more consonants and smiled pleasantly.

“Fuggit,” I said. “Wanna go grab coffee?”

He said something unintelligible and smiled in a friendly way that indicated he did not understand the depth of our anger and lifelong enmity at having been smushed to a pulp by a hairy-legged newbie who couldn’t even talk English goodly. But that’s okay. He’ll learn.



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25 thoughts on “This town ain’t big enough for the two of ya”

  1. More intel – he’s the same age as the Wily Greek and only started riding a few months ago. Another skinny Brit wanker bastard to shame old and slow Yanks. If he wasn’t so damn pleasant I would have selected some different words to describe his PVNPR debut. Just wait until he starts shaving his legs…..

    1. Thought he said he started some time back, perhaps a year or two ago: Istaatdsmtimbkprpsayrrrtoago – That must feel better than just two months….

      1. To clear this up… I think what I was trying to explain whilst gasping for air at the top of La Cuesta was that I’d started riding regularly this year but had done some limited riding for a couple of years previously! In future I need to avoid holding conversations after being beaten to a pulp on crazy steep climbs… Shugs and grunts are probably all that’s required at 7:30am anyway.

  2. This may be my cue to return to the pool I turned my back on years ago. At least there, gravity isn’t a “thing”.

    1. No doubt it’s perfect, but the problem is that the rest of us are living in a very imperfect world.

      1. Alx Bns consistently fails to make himself understood in all conversations with Yanks. However being shamed on the internet for not speaking English goodly represents a new low in my British-ness. This might reduce my chances of being accepted back home and Seth has made it very clear that I am not welcome to stay and ride in the South Bay. Where to now?

        1. I suppose we’ll have to let you stay but only if you promise to beat up on us 9/10 times instead of 10/10.

  3. This ride sounds like a less expensive alternative to racing. I still get to ride by my self for 95% of the ride, but I don’t have to pay to enter (yet),

    1. Yes. Being alone while pretending to be with others who are also pretend friends. Cycling!!

  4. This Bris guy sounds like the new millenium version of Dan Franger, who pulverized all of San Diego 35 years ago, smiling and happy and riding his 52×14 up all the short hills….the equivalent of the Columbian National team….same gear, same speed, up hills, down hills, it hurts just remembering it, and I don’t remember much.

    1. There’s one in every peloton. Hopefully he will get pregnant, transferred, or will realize how silly it all is. If not, we are in for years of discomfort.

  5. I’m not sure “NJ Pedal Beater” rolls off the tongue with elegance, so I am going to have to stick with his current nickname: “Cowan.”

    One thing that not everyone knows about Cowan is that both his significant other as well as his boss can keep tabs on him via Garmin’s LiveTrack feature. LiveTrack allows you to track Cowan via GPS as he rides like a maniac and proves his insanity for all the Internet to see. Well, at least those with the secret URL. Yes, this may sound like a rather evil use of modern technology, but in Cowan’s case it allows him to maintain both his relationship and gainful employment by allowing those with the “need to know” to see where he is at any time and know when to expect him back.

    So armed with this secret LiveTrack URL, many of us were able to follow Cowan’s Excellent Adventure that day. He had almost done a century by the time most of us awake and he didn’t make it home until just after dark that night. 300 miles is a LONG ride in any case, but what made it all the more amazing is that he did it SOLO for no real reason other than that (1) he had a hall pass that day, (2) the sky was blood moon that pre-dawn morning and (3) well, he’s insane.

    Here’s his ride on Strava. Pretty sure at no point did he cut the course.

      1. Oh. In that case, we should introduce them. Because if these guys are both waking up at 2:30am to do 300 mile solo rides, it might be nice to see them team up, work together and make it a respectable 400 miles next time.

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