Before the Flog Ride yesterday morning I was chatting with Steve-O. “How have you been feeling?” I asked. Steve-O had taken six months off more than a year ago after getting hit by a cager.
“Good,” he said, pausing, “but my fitness doesn’t seem to be coming around.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m always the last one up this damned climb.”
This Damned Climb is the five-minute interval that we do six times on the Flog Ride. Everyone is poured into a blender and then a hand grenade is tossed into the container while the blades are on “extra high.” Riders get ground up and struggle or straggle to the top of This Damned Climb where everyone re-groups in the golf course parking lot, descends, and repeats.
“Flog,” of course, is “Golf” spelled backwards. And although the group re-groups, there is no Groupon for the experience. Everyone pays full price, plus double tastings of breakfast and bile.
“There’s a reason you’re last up This Damned Climb,” I said.
“What’s that?” Steve said.
“You’re really fuggin’ old.”
He nodded glumly. “I used to take three weeks off to go on a trip or because of work, then I’d come back, suffer for a few weeks, and I’d be right back where I left off.”
“There’s a reason for that, too.”
“You’re really fuggin’ old.”
“Is that all it is?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “You’re in your late 50’s, which is pretty much the same in cycling as being dead but not having decomposed yet.”
“So you’re telling me I smell good?”
“No, it’s more like you’re smell-less. When you get old and die like you have, your body quits making testosterone, which is why you don’t smell as bad and why Donald has to hold up his hands to convince the world that his tiny package isn’t tiny. But there’s another reason you’re always last up This Damned Climb.”
“The people you’re riding with are half your age. So when you flog yourself to regain a small percentage of what you lost while you were off the bike, they flog themselves–harder and longer than you can–to reach new levels of strength and speed that they’ve never before had. They are growing stronger against their previous high water mark, but you are withering and will never again be as good as you were. It’s downhill, but real fast and with a hard landing.”
“Is this supposed to encourage me? I did get up at 5:30 to be here for the 6:35 start, you know.”
“No, you didn’t. You were already awake at 3:00 AM for your fifth pee of the night.”
He laughed. “It was only my third.”
“And come on, Steve-O. You’re still faster than most people who ride a bike, and you’re fitter than 99.9% of the population.”
“But 99.9% of the population looks like it’s voting for Trump. So the standard for making good choices is pretty low.”
“Maybe. But no matter what you do or how you do it or when you do it, you’re still gonna die. So you might as well do what you like. ‘Cause I’m not getting any faster, either.”
The clock hit 6:34:59. “Let’s roll.”
And we did. Steve-O finished all six laps, and on a few of them he wasn’t dead last.
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