“What the fuck do you mean, this is your first ever dirt ride?”
“Yeah,” SOS said, shifting uncomfortably. “Me and Imprint just got new bikes and wanted to practice some.”
I wasn’t smiling. “This is a terrible place to do your first dirt ride. There’s no dishonor in going home now. You have to go to work on Monday. You guys have families. This ride is no joke. People have finished this thing up in the ICU. Do you really want a catheter up your wee-wee because your spine has been broken in four places?”
SOS and Imprint smiled nervously, unsure whether or not I was serious. “It’s only seventy miles. How hard can it be?”
Jay-Z, whose arm was in a cast, shook her head. “How hard? Look, SOS. It’s going to be the hardest fucking anything you’ve ever done in your life. That’s how hard.”
“Guys,” I said, “you gotta understand. This is no place to do your first ever dirt ride. You can pull the plug now.”
“Why should we?” asked SOS.
“I’ll tell you why,” I said. “Because when you get halfway out and have a bad crash or run out of steam or get a bad case of diaper rash or die, no one fucking cares. Everyone’s just trying to survive. No one fucking cares. Get it? No one. Fucking. Cares. And you will be on your own.”
SOS shrugged. “I’m not scared,” he said.
About that time the motel room door popped open and in came Duct Tape, wheeling her bike into the room. “Hi, everyone!” she said. “Tomorrow’s going to be fun!”
“What the fuck is that?” I asked.
“It’s my bike, silly,” she said. “I haven’t ridden it in nine months, though.”
“And was that last time through a rust pit? What’s that shit on the spoke?”
“Duct tape? On a spoke?”
“Oh, it’s on good, though. I daubed some Gorilla Glue around the spoke holder thingy.”
I looked at her bike, a rusted out $350 Specialized commuter bike with a velcro water bottle cage. “Did any of you people talk to anyone before you decided to come out here?” They shook their heads. “Do you know what the Belgian Waffle Ride is?” I asked.
They shook their heads.
“Do you have prepaid funeral plots?” I asked.
They shook their heads.
I got a splitting migraine. “Okay,” I said. “You’re all going to die.”
“But you’re not hammering tomorrow, right?” asked Duct Tape. “If you’re not hammering I’ll ride with you the whole way.”
“No,” I said, wearily. “I’m not hammering.”
I climbed into the bed, which I was sharing with SOS. “I brought some earplugs,” SOS volunteered. “Do any of you guys snore?”
We all lied and said no and went to sleep. “Me, either,” said SOS. “I lost my septum back in the 90’s.”
Within minutes SOS was snoring like he had a small family of bullfrogs lodged in his chest. Then his alarm went off at 3:30 so I was able to stay up until mine went off at five. Before we left for the ride Jay-Z came into our room. “What time did you guys get up?” she asked.
“3:30,” I said. “SOS’s alarm went off at 3:30.”
“I always get up to go the gym at 4:00,” he said.
Jay-Z looked at him. “You work out?” she asked.
About 120 idiots had shown up to do Joann’s Wafer Re-Do Ride, hosted by Michael Marckx in honor of Jay-Z’s selfless assistance to her teammate who got t-boned by another teammate and wound up in the ICU. However, two weeks before the re-do ride came to pass, Jay-Z shattered her wrist. But of course the show had to go on, and if she couldn’t go as a rider she and Michelle planned to go as sag specialists.
Michael assembled the riders and, posing in front of everyone, surreptitiously ordered that someone “take a picture of my butt.” Then he gave a grand speech. “We’re going to try to keep things together today,” he lied. “Those of you who are more confident and know the course can go on ahead, but the purpose of today’s ride is to stay together as much as possible and get to hang out with our friends.”
This monstrosity of a bold-faced fraudulent utterance went unheeded by the assembled victims, all of whom knew they were dealing with a pathological liar who could no more “stay together” with weaker riders than the sun can orbit around the earth. A few miles into the ride Michael unleashed a vicious attack, splintering the group, which was filled with the weak and infirm, and dashed on to a glorious victory, finishing so far ahead that he was able to shower, shave, and coif before the next finisher even arrived.
It’s thankless work crushing your own re-do training practice friendship ride in honor of a good Samaritan, but someone has to do it.
In addition to winning his training thank-you ride, MMX also arranged for the casual ride to be fully supported in the finest BWR style. Bad Sea Coffee had amazing coffee, hot and cold, throughout the ride, with mobile repairs provided by Velofix, drinks by GQ6, a start-finish venue by the Lost Abbey Brewery, and several sag stations to provide sustenance to the riders.
But back to our story. As Imprint, SOS, and Duct Tape started the first descent, which plunged down a twisting series of soft, awful, suicidal dirt hairpins that had sheer drops on one side and a cliff wall on the other, Jay-Z and Michelle drove up behind them and screamed, “Slow down! You’re going too fast! You’ll kill yourself, you idiots!”
Imprint shrugged and shouted back. “I got disc brakes! I’m good!”
At that moment he lost control and slammed into the cliff wall, which was made of brush and soft dirt, leaving a Wile E. Coyote imprint in the cliff. “Oh my dog!” the sag drivers screamed, as SOS and Duct Tape stopped to see how badly he’d been killed and whether or not they could wrest the gold band off his ring finger before he regained consciousness.
Imprint staggered to his feet and waved his friends on, who were in fact, like all cyclist friends, no friends at all. “I’m fine, he mumbled,” as large brain clots formed inside his skull.
“Maybe,” said Jay-Z, “but your tire’s flat. Get in the car. You’re done for the day.”
“No!” he resisted. “I gotta keep going!”
“Okay, well change the flat then.”
Imprint sighed. “I don’t know how to take the wheel off.”
“How can you not know how to take the wheel off your own fucking bike?”
“It’s new,” Implant said, “and I don’t know how to take off the disc brake axle and thing.”
Jay-Z, who was wearing her best 5-inch platform heels, floppy summer hat, and stripper’s negligee, got out in the knee-high sand and pulled the through-axle, changed the flat, aired it up with the floor pump, then cleaned the rubble out of the disc before pushing him back on his way, all with a shattered wrist in a cast. Having left the starting gate promptly at 7:30 AM, Imprint would not be seen again until almost eleven hours later.
In the meantime, Duct Tape began what would be a series of bicycle-falling-off incidents, some related to the wheel that wouldn’t go around in circles, others to the massive rocks and obstacles in her path, and her final, game-ending crash the result of plain old gravity. She finally gave up and lay on the road side with her hands above her head, in a sort of horizontal victory pose if you will, where the podium is the ground. Jay-Z and Michelle scooped her up and deposited her back at the brewery as they got yet another call, this time from SOS.
“Who is it now?” asked Jay-Z as Michelle’s phone lit up.
“It’s SOS,” she said.
“What does he want?”
“All he texted is a map and the words ‘SOS.’ For reals.”
“You’re fucking kidding me.”
They raced to the pindropped location, where SOS was seated at the roadside, bonked, sunstroked, and mumbling incoherently. “Uber lady,” he said. “That fucking Uber lady.”
“What Uber lady?” asked Jay-Z.
“You know how Wanky told me to pull the plug last night if things got gnarly?”
“Well, I had an emergency.”
“Oh, no. What happened?”
“I got a cramp.”
Jay-Z and Michelle looked at each other. “So?”
“It was a cramp,” he said. “And it really hurt. And that motherfucker Wanky and Patrick and that German girl, when I shouted out ‘Cramp!’ you know what they did?”
“They just kept riding away. They rode away, those fuckers!”
“Wait a minute,” said Jay-Z. “Wanky told you about this last night. I was there. What part of ‘No one gives a fuck about you’ did you not understand?”
“But I thought he was kidding. And then that Uber lady.”
“What Uber lady?”
“So I pulled the plug after I cramped like Wanky said to do and I called Uber XL and the lady came, this black lady in a really nice brand new sedan with leather seats, it was perfect for me and my bike.”
“Yeah, and she took one look at me and she was like, ‘Hell no, I ain’t putting your nasty ass in my car, hell no,’ and then she fucking drove off. That bitch!”
Jay-Z looked at SOS. “Well, you’re covered in white salt that looks like jizz stains and you’re as filthy as if you’d been riding for fifty miles in a sewer, and your bike is covered from stem to stern with grease and dirt, who the fuck would want to put you in their nice car? Except me, of course.”
SOS saw the logic, loaded his bike on the rack, and crawled into the car. “I can’t believe that sonofabitch Wanky left me for dead. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he mumbled.
“Yeah,” Jay-Z said. “Until next year.”
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