The stupidest ride in America happens on July 4, the infamous South Bay Holiday Ride. The lemmings begin massing at CotKU an hour early, swilling bad coffee and getting into the zone, which is never erogenous.
Then at 7:59:13, give or take a thousandth of a second, the premature ejaculation begins when some over-caffeinated Frenzied Freddie can’t hold back and shoots down Highland towards the glorious doom that awaits all but a select few. Like cockroaches fleeing a flashlight, bicyclists scurry forth from every side street and crevice along the route to Santa Monica.
By the time you hit Vista del Mar the contingent is easily two hundred weak. By the time you hit the bottom of Mandeville, it is three hundred or more. Unlike other terrible rides and mob assaults on appliance stores, no order can be imposed on the Holiday Ride unless it is with a water cannon and pepper spray, although some have tried. This is because the Frenzied Freddies are hell-bent on going to the front and “racing.”
Laugh all you want, they’ve prepped all year for their moment of glory, and each one can hold 35 mph for two hundred yards before their nutsacks explode. This creates a massive churn-and-chum effect, with the mob hurtling along at breakneck speed, led by idiots whose eyeballs are stuck to their Garmins. The catastrophic crashing from riders 75-300 in the rear is epic, as Frenzied Freddies mix with Lazy Larrys who in turn bump and grind with First Time Tommys, the whole swirling mass shedding carbon, components, helmet shards, skin, spokes, pieces of skull, and spandex with each passing mile.
One year the Governor of Palos Verdes rode to the front and tried to “set pace,” resulting in him being swarmed by hairy-legged, hairy-knuckled, hairy-toothed riders who refused to take “No” for an answer.
By the time the group has run every stop sign and red light between Manhattan Beach and Brentwood, hundreds of riders have been shed and replaced with equally maniacal and unskilled Tour de France imaginaires. Then they hit San Vicente like a giant, soft, 60,000-pound blob of shit being lobbed into the sun, as the long, very gradual uphill always invites a handful of riders to hit the front and maintain an excruciating pace on the grade.
Riders fry, frazzle, quit, cry, pee, pop, and poop all the way up San Vicente until the group is whittled down to a svelte and manageable 200 riders or so, all of whom lunge at full speed from Sunset onto the narrow residential two-lane avenue of Mandeville Canyon Drive. From there it is an 18-minute race up a 6-mile climb, with riders pushed into oncoming traffic or shoved up against the right-hand edge into the curb, into pot holes, into road cracks, onto sprinkler heads, into oblivion.
The first five hundred yards are an elbow-throwing, bar-banging, shoulder-crunching jostle because if you let one of the Frenzied Freddies get in front of you here, you’ll be done quicker than a ribeye in an incinerator. Without killing or maiming more than a handful of challengers, you have to position in the top ten wheels, as Suicide Sammys will, one after another, take killingly bitter pulls to keep the pace bleedingly fast and shear the wool from the eyes of the deluded.
At the white picket fence, if he’s there and on form, Roadchamp will take his first smash into the wind, whittling the group down to ten finalists or fewer. From there it is a root canal of attrition, finishing at the top of Mandeville Canyon in dribs and drabs of gasping human meat and shuddering bowels.
I hate this ride with all my might, really, I do. It is a 70-mile foray in horrible traffic for the briefest of beatdowns administered by people I only know by their rear wheel.
But THIS YEAR the Helen’s-Santa Monica BMW team will celebrate the post-ride carnage at the dealership on 12th and Santa Monica Blvd. with free coffee, free smoothies, free bagels, and free CPR.
So this year I’m in. See you there!
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