Democracy of pain

The fifth full season of flogging came to an end last Thursday when we met up for the usual 6:35 AM launch time, pointy-sharp, and did six laps around the PV golf course with the La Cuesta 18-percent cherry on top. It was the biggest turnout of the year, and a couple of riders showed that the best way to do the Flog Ride is to come only on the final day, when you can get coffee, a cupcake, a donut, watch someone get spanked with a whip, and then not have to show up again until the following August.

Every year I take it upon myself to recite the history of the Flog Ride, which has a Facebag presence as Love and Thursday. The ride was invented by Junkyard, who has been lost for a long time now up on the Pacific Crest Trail, searching for leftovers of the Donner Party as he hikes his way to Australia. But that’s another story …

In 2014, Westchester Parkway was being torn up so badly with construction that the NPR was even more suicidal than usual, so Junkyard, not desirous of additional metal additions to his skeleton, mapped out the route of the Flog. His goal was to do a neutral lap, then three hard continuous laps, the final one finishing on La Cuesta.

I was at that first one, and made sure we were 100% neutral until we left the parking lot, after which it was the opposite of neutral. We raced the thing for four straight laps and everyone was so cross-eyed that we voted unanimously to make it a full six laps for evermore, and anyone who wanted a neutral lap could do it before the ride or after, home in bed.

That first season ran from October 2014 until August 2015. Thereafter, owing to the exhausting nature of the ride, it started up in January and ended in August, giving floggers four months of “rest” in between regular floggings.

For the first two years it was a six-lap race. You got dropped immediately and then slogged it out alone or in a chase group. The Love and Thursday moniker was quickly changed to the Flog Ride, since we rode around the PV Golf Course, and “flog” is “golf” spelled backwards.

In Year Three, Mike Hines suggested that we regroup at the top of the golf course and instead of a six-lap race, we turn it into a series of six intervals. This was much more awful and painful, so everyone assented and the modern configuration was born. Starting in 2018 the winner of each lap got a point and at year’s end the rider with the most points was awarded, and then beaten with, a flog.

I still remember someone asking about points for second and third place. “At the flog, there are two places,” he was told. “First. And everything else.”

Few people do the Flog more than once. The surest way to know someone will never come again is when he says, “Wow! This is a great ride! I love this!”

The Flog Ride has had some impressive emeriti, including Daniel Holloway, Emerson Orante, and a whole host of lokalmotors, none more dominant than the Wily Greek who, when he was still eating food, would ride solo for six laps. Other legends include Chris Tregillis, James Cowan, Dan Cobley, Emily Georgeson, Kristie Fox, and occasional assassins like Evens Stievenart and Julien Bourdevaire.

What makes the Flog the Flog, though, are the riders who show up week in, week out, pushing themselves to get fit, fighting tooth and claw for every yard. For years those riders included Michelle Landes, Peyton Cooke, Greg Lonergan, Craig Leeuwenburgh, Bob Spalding, Aaron Wimberley, Derek Brauch, Jon Davy, Major Bob, and they now boast riders like Dan Fischer, John Labib, Rebekah Potter, Bob Reichmann, Brandon Berlasco, Wes Morgan, Peter Benham, Ben and Amy Lauer, and Bill Klahr.

This year’s flog was awarded to Ivan Fernandez, and the ceremonial spanking administered by last year’s winner, Dan Cobley. We trusted that it was well disinfected before put to use.

January 2 seems like a long way off. But … it’s not.


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2 thoughts on “Democracy of pain”

  1. The photos on my computer are showing up in ‘silver screen’ black and white from a bygone era …… what am I doing wrong?

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