Heartbreak Hotel

With one lap to go I was a few minutes from achieving the only thing I have ever desired in life, that is a victory at our local training crit a/k/a Telo.

The field was a mishmash of gizzards, car parts, tree roots, defective Morton-Thiokol O-rings, broken razor blades, bald tires, and sunken galleons on the Spanish Main, as the pack had disintegrated shortly after re-entry, leaving only Frexit, Head Down James, Hair, and me in three-man-one-robot breakaway.

With seven laps to go, Frexit had urged me “Easy, easy!” as we came through Turn 4, which in bikeracespeak means “Ouchy!” So I waited a lap and attacked, shedding my unwelcome partners in an honest effort to toss them onto the garbage pile of discarded racers.

My hands were tied. If I sat in the break until the finish I would certainly get fourth. If I attacked I would [certainly – .0000001%] get fourth. So I had to go with the percentage shot.

Five laps to go and the gap held steady.

Four laps to go and I started pulling away.

Three laps to go and they clawed some of it back.

Two laps to go and it held at ten seconds.

One lap to go they were eight seconds back. Dreams of victory danced through my windshield. A lifetime of groveling was about to be rewarded with a few seconds swallowing a deep draught of the elixir of victory. Repeated beatings at the hands of unpleasant people was about to result in the bootheel landing on their neck instead of mine. Revenge would be sweeter than a diabetic dessert.

I rehearsed my victory speech, remembering to thank the little people who had made me who I am, thanking my parents, my deceased dog Fletcher, Phil who sold me my first bike, Fields, and then moving on to my wife, children, and a brief explanation of the dedication and hard work it had taken to reach what to the casual observer looked like an overnight success.

My speech, however, failed to account for the bitter hatred that Head Down James felt deep within his soul. Even though I had mentored him as a beginning cyclist by shouting epithets at him, screaming at him to lift up his fucking head, and trying to intimidate him at every turn, he apparently had forgotten all those little kindnesses and was now hell bent on revenge.

With Head Down James preferring to drag Frexit and Hair up to me so they could smear him in the sprunt rather than seeing me walk off with a glorious, life-altering victory that I would mockingly hold over his head for all time, he buried himself and closed the gap with only a few hundred yards left to go. Head Down James knew that the ignominy of being dropped out of his own breakaway and then beaten by a solo move at the hands of the leakiest, braggiest, un-cagiest racer in America would put paid to his professional athletic career. Frexit also knew that a Wanky defeat before his assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Velo would cause an emotional collapse from which he might never recover. Hair didn’t care; he wasn’t getting higher than second no matter what and he knew it.

Head Down James’s effort was enough. Aaron and Frexit buried him, and worse, they buried me. I praised them insincerely afterwards, congratulated them while secretly wishing that each were slowly beheaded by a rusty table saw, and pedaled home, crushed.

And although you may not give a damn, my dear, tomorrow is another day.



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38 thoughts on “Heartbreak Hotel”

  1. Late last night I received the following message from one of the commissaires. It gave me a lot of hope. I’m still waiting for a vote by the full race jury:

    “Good news. The race jury is considering that you may have won Telo on some pretty obvious technicalities. First, Frexit is from France, which is bullshit. And he’s clearly inexplicably better than all of us, just ask G3, so he’s likely going to be disqualified. 2. Hair is a super-sit in wanker that is tactically superior to everyone else, just ask him, so he only does work first to make the move then second to sprint to the finish. Therefore, clearly disqualified. 3. Head Down James is clinically insane so clearly he shouldn’t even be allowed to participate, also disqualified. So, I think you know how this ends for you.”

  2. I’m glad someone is upholding Coubertin’s ideals, you are doing him proud.

      1. #FailingRepeatedly
        #CloseButNoCigar #TheRaymondPoulidorOfTelo #SnatchingFailureFromTheJawsOfVictiry


        1. I actually thought “I’m the Poulidor of Telo.” But then I remembered he always got second.

        1. I feel like I have a Russian mother on my shoulder, and the only thing she hasn’t nagged me to do is “Eat seconds, what, you don’t like my cooking?”

  3. Your title gave it away….this story is like that dream I have where I get in the break with bostick, Vierra, and LeMond, and then drop them….then I wake up, and it is all just another bleeping dream.

  4. Wanky, right there on page 732, of the King James bike racing bible:

    Thou shalt not heed the serpent’s whisper with fire in the belly raging and 15 minutes to the finish. The lord saeth: attack with all your might iinto a mighty wind with minutes that can be counted on the shepard’s single hand.

  5. Why go so early? Why not sit in feigning cardiac problems until one lap to go?

  6. For Christ’s sake Wanker, please win one of these utterly f’ing meaningless modern day men’s softball games so we don’t have to read another blow by blow account of your latest “near miss”.

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