Noah’s flood

May 27, 2019 § 15 Comments

I have ridden in bad weather before, but never like yesterday.

The forecast called for solid rain beginning at 5:00 AM, coinciding perfectly with our planned roll-out time for the 170-mile odyssey from PV to Ventura and back. I’d prepared thoroughly. Thick undershirt. Arm warmers. Tights. Jersey. Long-sleeved jersey. Booties. Raincoat. Rubber dish gloves to keep my hands dry.

“There is no such thing as bad weather,” I repeated to myself bravely, “only poor clothing choices.”

Armed with exactly the right clothes I was ready, except that I wasn’t.

By the time I’d descended to PV Drive North I was soaked. The rainproof raincoat was neither, and ice water penetrated into my feet. It was 50 degrees, minus ten for wind chill and wet chill.

Baby Seal and Foxy were waiting for me, similarly drenched. We didn’t say anything, and miserably set off. The plan was to do a three-person rotation, each rider taking five-minute pulls. There were hardly any cars and zero cyclists. The rain pounded.

Soon, which is to say not soon enough, we reached Santa Monica and ran into Arkansas Traveler. He had on a light vest and a shower cap, shorts, and booties. The shower cap was a precious touch but he was still completely wet. He smiled sourly through the paste of his hangover and hopped on behind.

We passed Topanga Canyon on PCH, the road empty, and that’s when the rain really began to come down. All the SoCal riders tucked safely in bed or enjoying Zwift were #winning, and we were #losing. Each of us considered how lame it is to ride in the teeth of a bad weather forecast, when with a bit of common sense you could be warm and dry.

A couple of miles later we passed a guy named Greg. He hopped on. He was shivering from the cold and wet, and we worried whether we’d need to call his wife or EMS or Uber or all three.

After a little more than four hours of rotating we reached Ventura. Greg had stopped at an iHOP to call home for a lift, and Arkansas Traveler was no longer talking. I tried to revive everyone’s spirits by reciting Chaucer, but the only one I know is the Miller’s Tale, which is all about a giant flood. No one listened to anything except the spatter of rooster tails.

In Ventura we got some coffee and watched while the rain made everything that had happened up til then look like a mere drizzle. Sheet rain was slanting sideways, so hard they had canceled the Mountains to Coast Ventura Marathon. Runners stood huddled under eaves as the streets turned into rivers. The lonely chairs outside the coffee shop were barely visible through the raging rain.


We got back on our bikes and began the long rotation home. On PCH huge mudslides were sending banks of earth cascading onto the shoulder, and one large boulder the size of a small house had blocked three of the four lanes by Las Posas.

“This is so stupid,” said Baby Seal. “We should have stayed home.”

Arkansas Traveler crashed in a stream of debris by Neptune’s Net, so we carried him to the porch of the restaurant and left him there. Visibility had plunged to about ten feet and in places the water came up to our hubs. People say that SoCal riders are weak and afraid of riding in bad weather, but this was the day that proved how sometimes it’s better to be cautious than foolhardy.

Baby Seal’s eTap short-circuited while he was stuck in the big chain ring, and Foxy bent her rear derailleur when a stone got caught in her chain and was jerked through the pulley wheel housing. We knew we would never defy the weather forecast again.

A long time later we reached Manhattan Beach, which was inundated. CotKU had flooded and sandbag crews were working feverishly to keep the south blocks of Manhattan Ave. from washing off into the ocean. We stopped at Becker’s Bakery for a sandwich and coffee, but the rain was coming down so hard, and the skies were so black, that we decided to continue on.

Big hands. Dry hands.

After forever we got back to PV Drive North. Baby Seal loaded his bike and Foxy’s into the car and I tried to ride up Silver Spur, but the fire department had closed it off due to a giant mudslide that had washed an entire house onto the street.

I went back to Baby Seal’s car and bummed a ride home.

“Never doing this again,” we agreed.



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May 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

We went out yesterday evening and saw MiB3. It’s a movie about these badass dudes dressed in black, and they fight aliens and shit. They bust the shit out of the aliens with weird weapons and blast them into pieces and in the process they almost get killed themselves.

At the end of the movie the world gets saved and everyone was happy except me, who had to part with $24. I liked those twenty-four dollars and I already miss them a lot.

So I was sitting there watching this badass dude smash the fuck out of this freaky alien and the alien crumbled into bits and I was thinking “What the fuck am I paying money to watch some badass dude in black and a black badass dude beat the fuck out of some alien when I just spent my whole fucking Saturday watching badass black men in black beat the fuck out of a bunch of wankers on bikes? And it didn’t cost me no 24 fucking dollars.”

Badass black men in black, coming soon to a public toilet near you

We got to the Ocean Park toilets this morning and picked up Guns, Bucks, Vapor, and Critchamp. Except for Bucks, they were all pretty much dressed in black. I was thinking “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB beatdown.”

Then up rolls a white dude in mostly black, Launch, and we were all like “Fuck this is going to be a BMiB + WMiB beatdown to the tenth degree.”

Of the assembled wankers, most of us were thinking variations of what Arkansas Traveler said: “This doesn’t look good.”

Or the boys from church: “We don’t see much in the way of a blessing here.”

Or Prez: “I rode all the way from Pedro to be part of a massacre?”

Or the Dentist: “Are we drilling it all the way back from Encinal?”

From Ride to the Rock to the Highway to Hell Ride

Last August we started doing a Saturday ride from the Center of the Known Universe out to The Rock on PCH. It was in preparation for the annual Ironfly ManTour. The good thing about the ride was that it got you an easy hundred, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was the perfect wanker ride.

The down side to the ride was that it was easy, the pace was steady with no attacks or rotating pacelines, the group stayed together, and we avoided the lung-busting climbs up through the canyons along PCH. In short, it was a terrible ride if you wanted any intensity.

Earlier this year I heard Tom Danielson talk about how great a climb Decker Lane was. Decker is one of the climbs we pass on the way to The Rock on PCH. So several weeks ago we put together a new route that tried to fix some of the shortcomings of the other route. We still did the steady, social, 2 x 2 paceline all the way to Trancas, with people getting a chance to warm up, chat, and get that good vibe you can only get from an organized, steady, longish ride.

After Trancas, we then climbed Decker. Decker is such a steep, vicious, long, and nasty climb that you can’t do it at an easy pace. It’s a true legbreaker. Fortunately, just before you reach Decker, we also pass Encinal, which is a longer, much  gentler climb that merges with Decker at the top, so everyone has a choice. Ride so hard you want to vomit, or get in a steady power climb, the choice is yours.

At the top of Decker, we regroup, and descend Encinal to PCH.

From there, it’s game on. We start as hard as we can, immediately fall into a rotating paceline, and people fry off the back. By the time we climb out of Trancas on PCH, and certainly by the time we get over the roller before Latigo, the group is left with its final members, who continue drilling it all the way back to Temescal Canyon in Santa Monica. The total drillfest is about 24 miles.

MiB set out to destroy the aliens

We got started on the PCH return trip, and before going too far we overtook Prez, who had been separated from the group due to a navigational error. Originally intending to climb with the power group up Encinal, he mistakenly turned with the homicide group up Decker. When Tree, Launch, and the Dentist took off, Prez found himself last man in the wanker group that included me, Arkansas Traveler, Tumbleweed, and Sophia Loren. As Sophia pedaled by him, he made a u-turn and returned to PCH.

However, no one at the top knew that Prez had turned around, so after waiting for a while, Launch, Dentist, and I partially descended Decker looking for him. Ouch. We concluded that he’d pulled an Abandy Schleck, and went back up again.

When we passed Prez on PCH, he hopped into the rotating paceline, and when his turn came he took a monstrous pull. It strung the group out into a single file as he mashed the pedals in fury. When he finally came off the point and started floating back, I advised him, “Dude, you better take really short pulls. The MiB are getting ready to take out their reverberating carbonizers, and if you don’t wanna get vaporized, you better save a few blasts in the De-Molecularhazard Excell 12.” Unfortunately, I should have taken my own advice, as Launch, Vapor, and Critchamp began blasting aliens right, left, and center.

Launch uses the Cosmic Integrator coming out of Trancas

By the time we hit the bottom of the hill coming out of Trancas, the MiB had blasted, wasted, toasted, and roasted a host of aliens. Some of their stray shots had also, unfortunately, blasted a few of my fellow wankers, who were now cut adrift on PCH and forced to suffer home alone.

With the exception of Launch and the Dentist, everyone started skipping pulls. As we hit the bottom of the hill, Launch took out the cosmic integrator, a device used to meld body parts of the best aliens onto his own body. The result was an extremely powerful Launch, who melds on three additional lungs, two extra heart chambers, and a third leg. A cracking and rending sound is heard as the remnants of the wankers split and break on the climb.

Over the top the group has been whittled down to Launch, Dentist, Vapor, Vapor Jr., Critchamp, and later by Tree and Checkerbutt, who’ve chased and caught. I’m absolutely on the rivet and just managing to come through as Vapor, Launch, and Critchamp take turns with huge pulls. Launch drags us halfway up the stinger that leads to Latigo, and Tree uncorks with a jump so hard and fast that he springs completely free of the group.

I was barely hanging onto Launch’s wheel when he spotted a Remoonian and whipped out his atomizing blaster. It was the last hundred meters my entire body had begun to shudder. This happens when I’m on a wheel and about to get dropped, but have pushed it too far into the bottomless pit of red. First my legs started to shake, then my arms, then my head, then my eyes wobbled, and finally a massive, sharp pain stabbed my heart like cardiac arrest plus lung failure plus a golf club thrust into my chest cavity with the fury of an AT&T phone service rep after losing an argument with Mrs. WM over a one-cent charge on our four hundred-dollar phone bill that didn’t belong there.

Alien colonies vaporized on Pepperdine Hill

I looked up just in time to roll over the crest, still attached to Launch’s wheel. Everyone was now suffering from radiation sickness from the atomizer, and the only riders who remained were Launch, the Dentist, Critchamp, me, and Vapor Jr. The Remoonian’s head had been shot off and the road was littered with green eyes and what looked like green ham. I wondered if he hadn’t shot a Seussian by mistake.

Launch dragged us all the way to the bottom of Pepperdine Hill and the turnoff to Malibu Colony. He must have spied an advance patrol of the Arquillian fleet, because he accelerated up the hill like a spaceship. There was a crackling sound as Critchamp imploded, followed by a dragging sound as the Dentist’s drill suddenly stopped working, followed by a whine and moan as I began to sob.

The Dentist let me get on his wheel and towed me to the top of the hill, where Launch was pleasantly waiting, hardly having cracked a sweat and surrounded by the rubble, blood, goo, alien body parts, and broken machinery of the devastated Arquillians. We waited for seventeen or eighteen hours until Critchamp and Vapor Jr. caught up. From then on it was merciless.

Checkerbutt, who had sneaked along the Malibu Colony Rd. and stolen a shortcut, thereby avoiding the two sections of Pepperdine Hill, reattached himself at Cross Creek. After a few rotations Vapor Jr. was spit out the back. After a few more rotations everybody was gassed except Launch, who kept pulling through as if it was his first pull of the day. I didn’t skip any pulls, but towards the end pulls were so slow and weak that everyone looked forward to them as they were “recovery pulls.” Critchamp and the Dentist never wavered, and Checkerbutt, with copious resting and turn skipping, came through each time full tilt.

In the run-up to Temescal, Launch spied an evil Kylothian and opened up a gap on the rest of us as he rushed to vaporize it and protect the aliens on the LA beaches from the aliens of outer space. I sprinted for a couple hundred yards to get on his wheel, and then found out the terrible truth: the only thing worse than getting ridden off Launch’s wheel was being on Launch’s wheel. I suffered terribly, and then two seconds later gave up.

We regrouped on the bike path, and shortly thereafter my legs cramped. I got off my bike just in time for a chick on a beach cruiser to hit me from behind and careen off into the sand, upsetting her bikini top and partially spilling the goods, which was nice of her.

At the Peet’s in Santa Monica people rolled in until we were all reunited. I thought that my ride nutrition, consisting of a cup of coffee, a Dr. Pepper, and a BonkBreaker midway through the ride was inadequate for such a terrible beatdown, and certainly wouldn’t get me the last 20 miles home + climb up to the top of PV. So I had another coffee and a cup of oatmeal.

Launch was still smiling and relaxed. Then it dawned on me. Was he the alien? Was he?

Strap me to the chair, Dame Vicious von Flogg

April 7, 2012 § 6 Comments

“How was the ride today, Dad?” my youngest asked when I wheeled in the bike after 95+ miles up the coast, up Latigo, down Kanan Dume, down the coast, and back home up VdM.

“It was fine,” I said. Then I collapsed on the bed.

Mrs. WM hurried in. “Are you okay?” She was worried.

“Urgle,” I answered.

So many things happened on this glorious, sunny, 80-degree day in Southern California that I can’t begin to put them into a coherent whole, which makes sense given the fact that I was incoherent for so much of the ride. What I can tell you, though, is this: there’s something wrong with men who go in for bondage and whips and chains. The idea that some broad is going to put on a weird costume, tie you to a chair, and beat the shit out of your nether regions with a whip until you moan in pain, sob in agony, beg for mercy, and finally collapse in a wet puddle of self-loathing, blood, urine, and sweat, and that you’re going to pay her for it…that’s sick.

It’s sick because you see, if you’d just shown up on the Saturday ride this morning you could have gotten all that and more for free.

Dame Vicious von Flogg: We began a torrid pace at the bottom of Latigo. Spider accelerated up the first little climb, I hopped on his wheel and was quickly shed. Checkerbutt and Fireman followed Spider and got dropped, leaving me flailing off the back where I was quickly overhauled by Dame Vicious von Flogg.

Dame Vicious weighs about 40 pounds, and she cheerily hopped out of the saddle as she passed, tossing her rear wheel into my front fork. She’s got a bit of learning to do, but that’s the peril of being a wheelsucker–you’re at the mercy of the wheel you’re sucking. The pain was almost unendurable as she gradually reeled in Fireman, who’d been canned by Checkerbutt. “Yo, Fireman,” I said. “You’re getting caught and dropped by a chick!”

He fought viciously to get on my wheel, then took a hero’s pull in the universal manspeak of “I ain’t gettin’ dropped by no chick.” After that effort fizzled, Dame Vicious came back to the fore and laid down a relentless tattoo of kicks, punches, and blows to the groin. Before long Fireman began the Dangle of Death, opening gaps and then fighting to get back on. I was glued to Dame’s wheel, eking out every tiny bit of draft from her tiny frame.

Dame Vicious then cheerily looked back. “Goody news!!”

“Urg?” I asked.

“Yep! Daddy says I don’t have to get a job next year and can spend another year getting in shape to ride my bike!”

“That fucking sucks,” I moaned, just as Fireman hung his head, rolled his bloodshot eyes, and lolled his tongue in the Death Rattle of Drop.

Soon the road turned into only a mild incline, and Dame Vicious did the only sensible thing: pulled out her crop, shifted into the big ring, and began to whale me about the head and shoulders, all the while chattily wondering what the best way was to learn not to throw her wheel back into my spokes as she threw her wheel back into my spokes. Every few minutes she’d pause the beating to let the accumulated blood drain from my eyes, then resume it.

We passed people like we were on a motorcycle. I greeted each one the same way: “You just got dropped by a chick.”

Finally, one of the droppees said, “I am a chick!”

“That’s even worse, then,” I panted as Dame Vicious exchanged the whip for a chain studded with small sharpened spikes.

Soon we had Checkerbutt in our sights. Dame Vicious rode him down like a terrier overpowering a three-legged rat, and as we passed him I said, “You just got hunted down and dropped by a chick.”

“Well you’ve been sucking wheel the whole damned way, you wanker,” he retorted. Then he added, in the universal manspeak of wounded ego, “I was just taking it easy because I didn’t want to be alone.”


Then he attacked us. I fought on, and Dame Vicious countered, gapping Checkerbutt, who recovered and attacked again. By the fourth exchange I came unhitched, kind of like when a camper comes undone midway up Loveland Pass. They exchanged blows all the way to the top, with Checkerbutt finally putting a three-second gap on…a chick…after a 40-mintue climb.

Fireman caught me and flogged me and dropped me just before the summit. Spider was at the top enjoying his new sub-40 minute conquest of Latigo. The rest of the wankers trickled in, each showcasing various stages of defeat, despair, and hopelessness.

Checkerbutt: Came up from the City of Cadmium and Mercury Poisoning to represent the Long Beach Freddies in a throwdown with the Second Tier (some would say third) of the South Bay. With the exception of the chick who rode him down and made him sing for his supper, and the caning he got from Spider on Latigo, he whipped the snot out of everyone else, ticking off a 2nd Place on Strava for the Kanan descent and giving me the leadout of all leadouts into Will Rogers. I didn’t have the heart to come around his sorry checkered ass, so I gave him a push as his innards began spilling out from his ears.

Tubetop: Sidekick to Checkerbutt, he rode the way we’re more accustomed to seeing the Long Beach Freddies ride–weakly. This was his payback for the funny email he sent after Solvang. The last I heard from him was a distress phone call from Peet’s in Santa Monica, asking Checkerbutt how to get back to the car in Manhattan Beach.

T. Rex: Blew the pack apart heading out on PCH, shredded everyone in the sprint to Cross Creek, finished the sprint on Kanan Dume at 55 mph…plus.

Cheetah: We were pleased and honored to have been joined by one of the greatest U.S. cyclists of all time, Nelson Vails. Nelson accompanied us most of the way out PCH. Talk about riding with royalty. I reminded him of the only time I’d ever met him. It was at Camp Mabry during the Tour of Texas. I rode up to him and said something and he turned around, smiled, put his hand to his mouth like he was talking into a CB, and said, “10-4 good buddy.” I was amazed he didn’t remember this incredibly precious 2-second interlude we’d shared back in 1984.

Walshie: Kept the gas on along PCH, then dropped off to ride with his friend of so many years, Nelson.

DJ: Avoided the humiliation of having Dame Vicious von Flogg grind him under her jackboot by motoring on to Camarillo and opting out of the Latigo dominatrix chair.

Sparkles: Kept the wheels turning in yet another awesome chick display of strength and fitness.

Douggie: Coming back on PCH he unleashed the crusher attack of death on the short wall just before Latigo, decimating the already toasted group. Then he dropped himself, leaving me and Fireman to flog for a while until he and Checkerbutt caught back on. Despising the safety of Malibu Colony we opted for Pepperdine Hill. Fireman crunched it and Douggie followed through with the pull of black death, Checkerbutt gasping and me doing whatever happens when you breathe more deeply than a gasp. From that point on Douggie hammered like a madman. As we climbed up onto Vista del Mar we got passed by this insane dude with one red pannier, a steel frame, and a fixie, and he went by like we were standing still. Unfortunately, that’s when Douggie could actually smell the coffee at CotKU, and he ran down Mr. Fixie, who jumped in with me and Checkerbutt only to find that 29 mph on a fixie means your fucking legs come detached from your hips. I’ve never seen anyone sustain 350 rpm for a kilometer, but when his sacrum came tearing out his ass it was all she wrote.

Knoll: Had the misfortune to popularize the ride as “mellow,” when in fact it wound up being Sledgehammer of the Broken Sacrum. Knoll utilized every trick in the book, but came up a few chapters short, at least by his usual standards, i.e. pummeling the shit out of me on long climbs.

Hockeystick: Took one brief pull on PCH, failing to alert the peloton to parked cars, overtaken Team in Training-ers, crevasses in the road, etc. However, eyeing BWR next weekend, he opted for an even longer route with more climbing after Latigo.

Major Bob: Hammer. Climb. Hammer. Seek out new climbs. Hammer.

Trixie: Rolled like a champ out on PCH, then clawed her way up Latigo with a very respectable ride, leaving certain veterans to be named later choking on her fumes. Plus, she was extra cute in her blue kit.

Betsy: Rolled with us to Latigo, then did her own ride continuing on PCH. Another hot chick biker who looks good in blue.

Jens: The man who least deserves his nickname lived up yet again to his reputation as Go to the Front Antimatter, a unique force in the cosmos that is diametrically opposed to ever taking a pull. However, he momentarily overcame this powerful negative attraction to sharing the work when he was observed engaging in a micropull on PCH for .000093 seconds, measuring a power output of 12 watts. Progress!

Arkansas Traveler: With the absence of Pinched Nerve Patrick, AT took up his rightful place at the back of the peloton ascending Latigo and successfully maintained PP +1. When I descended to see if he’d been killed and eaten by a mountain lion, I found him doing with Junkyard what he’d done the week before with me–enjoying the ride. What’s with that guy? Or should I say, “Respect.”

Junkyard: It was a painful day of death and dismemberment for our valiant hero, who, after putting his head under a concrete block and having the block broken by a Korean taekwondo blackbelt wielding a large hammer, dragged himself back to the StageOne World Headquarters to begin preparations for the Perry-Roobay celebrations scheduled tomorrow for 6:00 AM plus Zeke farts.

Big Bowles: Another masterful day of shirking by the master of shirk.

Toronto: No matter how many megadeals he crafts during the week, nothing, and I mean nothing, can ever stop Toronto from joining the mob and taking his beating like a man. Always in line to take his pull, always ready to crack and flail when the riding crop of unmercy falls about his tender parts, Toronto got his revenge on Dame Vicious von Flogg atop Latigo by unzipping his jersey and grabbing hold of his massive paunch to explain the source of his climbing unprowess. This led to a paunch-off, where each of the weak, flaccid, elderly, and thoroughly beaten old men took turns comparing the amount of flab they could grip in one fist. Dame Vicious staggered over to the side of the road and vomited, and justice was done!

Skinbag: On the way back, Skinbag advised me that although Dame Vicious had dropped every single man except for Checkerbutt and Spider, he’d put the wood to her on the Kanan descent. I corrected his deluded version of events. “Dude, she waited for half an hour at the top of Latigo for your sorry ass. If it’d been a race she’d have gotten to the bottom of Kanan with enough time for a pedicure before you showed up.” “Well, she’s riding illegally.” “Illegally?” “Yes. Those aren’t junior gears.” “Dude, she’s fucking twenty-two.” Silence…

Godfather: Met up with us in Redondo, enjoyed seeing you, buddy!

Florida Dan: Present, but ultimately unaccounted for.

Cedric le Belge: Present, filled with flail.

Pilot: Rolled out with us…went on to Trancas??

VV: Took the sane route and rode with us to PCH, then went out to Trancas.

Big O Sean: Nice riding with you, dude.

G$: Spied on the way back through Hermosa. Hi, Money!

Mighty Mouse: Spied on the way back through Hermosa. Hi, Mighty!

Suze: Spied on Vista del Mar. Hi, Suze!

G3: No-show because he couldn’t get out of bed in time for the ride. Tsk, tsk.

*Post-ride checklist for sausages with mortally wounded egos (select all that apply):
1. Dame Vicious dropped me because I wasn’t really trying.
2. Dame Vicious dropped me because I rode really hard this week and was tired.
3. Dame Vicious dropped me because she’s so light.
4. Dame Vicious didn’t drop me, I decided to let her go. [Recommended selection]
5. Dame Vicious is 30 years younger than I am.
6. Dame Vicious isn’t a very good bike handler so I let her go because I didn’t want her to crash me out.
7. Dame Vicious just doesn’t have a good enough draft. [Not recommended, as it points out the fact that you couldn’t hold her wheel.]
8. I rode the Donut and got my ass handed to me by Rudy and G$, which is acceptable because they’re two of the best MALE riders in California, whereas if I’d gone on your ride and gotten shellacked by some kid chick who’s only been cycling for a few weeks I’d have to sell my bike and become a blogger.

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