Once upon a time there were twenty-two bicyclists who decided to go on a bicycle ride. The ride started very early. One of the bicyclists was a little sleepyhead, like David Ellis last year, and the other bicyclists went on without him.
The bicycle ride was at 5:30 in the morning. This was verrrrrrrry early for the little bicyclists who were all little sleepyheads. When the bicyclists got together at the meeting place they all needed to go potty. One of the little bicyclists went into the potty to go poopy. He was sitting down and he could hear the other little bicyclists talking outside. He sat there going poopy.
Then he didn’t hear anyone outside. He looked at his watch. “Oh, no!” he said. “I wonder if they left me?” He ran out of the potty in a very big hurry but there was no one there. The little bicyclist asked a nice lady, “Where did they go?”
The nice lady pointed down the dark street. “That way,” she said.
The little bicyclist slammed it into the eleven, put his head down, and time-trialed at 29 mph like a crazy fuck for seven miles until he caught the group, which had, incredibly, left at 5:30. The Hun was now completely blown. He still had 223 miles to go.
From friend to enemy
Saturday was the 2018 Big Day. Twenty-one riders minus the one who slept in and the one in the bathroom left at 5:30 AM, pointy sharp. The Hun caught us at the Marina bridge, where we picked up Ruins. This comprised our final contingent for the day, not counting the two hop-in wankers who slipped in somewhere along PCH, but eventually left due to their failure to sign a waiver.
We got to the pier in Santa Barbara in a little over four and a half hours. The pace was fast but not crazy unless you were sitting on the front next to Evens, Cowan, or Rudy. Then it was unbearable. The ride rules were simple:
- Leave on time.
- No drop to Santa Barbara.
- One stop for a mechanical. Second mechanical will be chasing.
- Pee, fill bottles, grab food from our musette bags in Santa Barbara.
- Race from the parking lot to the top of Gibraltar back to Manhattan Beach.
At the start everyone dropped off a musette bag with Yasuko, who drove to Santa Barbara, handed off the food and water, then waited in the parking lot for a couple more hours so that most but not all riders could make a stop if needed on the way back. The vibe was “friends” to Santa Barbara, “enemies” from the parking lot home.
Gibraltar is a 6.3-mile climb up into the scalding 103-degree heat, and it’s about three miles uphill from the parking lot to the base of the climb. People pretty much fell apart on the climb. Last year I made it past halfway up and quit. This year I was determined to get to the top, and had actually trained for it. I was fourth to last, and all but five riders summitted.
Rudy got the KOM, Lauren got the QOM, and Baby Seal got the best summit selfie, a middle finger salute. My climb was greatly aided by Wes, who as he descended, actually answered me when I asked him, “How far?” and what’s more, told the truth.
I got back to the parking lot, filled my bottles, and rode on with Ivan and Stathis. Ivan was taking crazy hard pulls and I knew that if I tried to hang on I’d be dead in Ventura, motionless, with 70 miles still to go.
Stathis swung off. “You flat?” I asked, not caring.
“Yeah,” he said, knowing I didn’t care.
I rolled on. Ivan, who was up ahead, realized he didn’t know the way, so he slowed down for me, way down. We rode together for a couple of miles until we got through Carpinteria and he left again, this time for good. I spent the next four and a half hours doing a very smooth paceline with Seth Davidson.
Somewhere along the 101 I got passed by Attila and Wes. I heard them come by. “You okay, man?” Attila asked in the voice that says, “I hope you are okay because I’m not stopping.”
“I’m good,” I said, knowing he didn’t care. They vanished quickly.
The leading group of Rudy, Evens, Alex, Mathieu, and James was having many adventures. James had come down off Gibraltar with less than half a water bottle for the remaining 100 miles. But since REAM were ahead of him he didn’t stop and chased them down. He didn’t need water anyway, and he figured that they weren’t stopping, as Rudy would complete the entire ride on two water bottles and a Pop-Tart.
Did I mention that James and Leo had gotten up at midnight to get in some extra miles, and that they already had 100 miles on their legs by 5:30 when we left? That’s not a sick joke. Actually, it is.
After a while the pace became unfavorable, and then for Mathieu and Alex it became favorable because Mathieu flatted. Alex agreed to stop to “help his friend” but what actually happened was that he lay on the ground and turned an unhealthy shade of pale green.
Mathieu feverishly dug into his pocket for a defibrillator but all he had was an unopened crispy waffle snack. The wrapper was covered in GU slime and bent in thirds. He tore it open with his dry, spit-caked teeth. The waffle caramel had melted and oozed out, mixing in with the crusted snot and boogers beneath his nails. He mashed the caramel, GU goo, and waffle crisp into a ball and handed it to Alex, who received it as if he’d been handed the finest steak dinner. Narrowly avoiding losing a finger as Alex snapped it up, the two were soon good to go.
At the Malibu Colony turnoff, where all riders had sworn a blood oath not to turn and instead to mount the backside of Pepperdine Hill, Mathieu and Alex made the turn onto the Malibu Colony turnoff, knowing that Seth didn’t use the Stravver. Mathieu, who had been sleeping, drove straight into the curb, did a header, knocked his chain off, and bent his front wheel.
Alex stared through his chest. “Are you okay?” he asked without caring.
“Yes,” Mathieu answered, also without caring.
“That wheel doesn’t look good,” Alex said, caring even less.
“No, it doesn’t,” Mathieu said, caring slightly more as he began kicking the wheel as hard as he could until it became un-bent enough to fit into the fork, but still violently bent enough to pose as a Frisbee. They continued on until they finished, which was still faster than all but four people.
James, Rudy, and Evens all finished together in some awful time that hurts even to think about. As a result, they won and shared first place, which was a monthly year-long subscription of Wanky Sourdough and Mrs. Wanky Raisin Bread. Lauren earned a similar grand prize for her efforts.
There were many amazing stories of the day, not least of which being that after making love to a couple of hamburgers and half a gallon of beer, Rudy and James got on their bikes and rode another fifteen miles or so home. Equally amazing was Leo, who ran out of gas at mile 200, then still climbed Gibraltar and rode back to Santa Monica.
The only down side to netting 300+ miles on a ride that’s only 230 is that you are very poor at arithmetic. The up side is that there will always be a slot for you in any insane asylum, anywhere, any time.
Every rider accomplished something, and no rider accomplished anything significant. The Hun learned that all of his friends are cheating liars. Wesley learned that all of his friends are cheating liars, especially the Hun, who begged to go 22 until, after refueling, he was able to kick it up to 27 and skewer his friends, er, enemies. Stathis already knew his friends were cheating liars. Baby Seal already knew that none of these people were his friends. Kristie learned that the ride takes two hours longer when you’re dragging around a pink-colored corpse named Leo. Leo learned that it’s a long way to Tipperary, but it’s actually a longer way to home. Adam learned that Gibraltar is steep and long, but that he can still ride close to 230 miles in a day. Michael learned that gravel bikes and 36 mm tires make Gibraltar … tough. Eric learned that getting home early is all that matters, and Cobley learned that when you haven’t put it the miles, it’s a heck of a lot better to turn around at the Rock than to break the Rule of Holes, which is this: When you’re in one, quit digging.
Mathieu learned not to sleep when you ride, Ramon learned that Gibraltar is just as long this year as it was last, and Alex learned that hunger is the best sauce. Lauren learned that some bread is worth fighting for, and Ivan learned that just because you are blazing fast in Carpenteria doesn’t mean you’ll be blazing fast in Ventura, ten miles later. Fred didn’t learn anything but he did get to sleep in.
Bjorn learned that you can go from longest-ever-ride of 120 to longest-ever-ride of 230 and not suffer (more) brain damage. Evens learned that there are other people whose judgment is at least as bad as his, and that there are people like Cowan and Leo, whose judgment is actually worse. Major Bob learned that the feed zone can be pretty darned entertaining. Rudy taught everyone a lesson, at least on Gibraltar, but it’s not clear that they learned it.
And me? I learned that sometimes it feels good just to finish.
Photo credits to Leo, Cowan, Baby Seal, Yasuko, Michelle, Bjorn, and everyone who snapped a summit selfie!
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