Strangling the Internet softly

March 30, 2016 § 27 Comments

I was riding along, minding my own business, trying to look like a very excellent profamateur. The four riders in front of me were all very excellent profamateurs and one of them was actually a professional.

I was feeling highly excellent, as this was my second Donut Ride back after my terrible bicycle-falling-off-incident in which I tumbled off the bicycle and broke my left nutsack. We were on PV Drive North and, as I believe I have already mentioned, I was doing very excellently.

Suddenly my profamateur suplesse was shattered by a horrible grinding and clunking and thunking and greenking and scranking noise that leapt up from the throat of my rear wheel like a terrible, garlic-and-onion-and-pizza-infused beer belch that will not be denied. “Here I go again,” I panickedly thought as I stopped pedaling with excellence and my face froze in a rictus of terror as I contemplated falling off my bicycle again and re-cracking my barely healed nutsack.

The others looked back to see why I had suddenly decided to set off a string of firecrackers and I coasted to a halt. I gingerly put my foot down and saw my chain hanging limply, with pieces of my SRAM Red derailleur cage attached. I was shaking, so certain had I been that a falling-off-incident was imminent.

Destroyer began examining the expired derailleur as Holloway went back to collect the shards of derailleur. Charon somehow had an extra plastic baggie and put the pieces inside. Destroyer called Uber and in a few minutes I was on my way home.

ride_home

Always wear your helmet in the Uber car.

That afternoon I got a call from French Toast Ride Director Sportif Dave Jaeger. “Dude,” he said. “I heard you broke a derailleur.”

“Word travels fast.”

“I got a brand new SRAM Red 10-speed still in the box. It’s yours. Come and get it.”

“Really? How much? I’ll need to check behind the couch cushions.”

“It’s yours. I upgraded to 11-speed and don’t want or need it. If you can warranty the broken one, I’ll take it, but if you can’t, no worries.”

I got the new derailleur and went over to Boozy P.’s. “Dude,” he said. “What happened?”

“Obviously, the SRAM Red 10-speed is highly defective.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. I’ve only had it for about five years and it’s only got about 65,000 miles on it. It’s practically new.”

“Of course it is,” Boozy P. said, putting down his morning beer. “But isn’t that the same derailleur you crashed on in November and ground half of the derailleur body off when you slid across the road?” He had emptied the plastic baggie and was looking at the mangled parts.

“Yes, but it’s still clearly defective. Plus, all the stuff that got ground off was non-essential vitamins and minerals.”

“All vitamins are essential, Wanky.”

Boozy P. slurped down a few more essential vitamins, then slapped on the new derailleur and handed me back the baggie. He paused for a second. “Wasn’t this also the same derailleur that King Harold had to disassemble for you on the Donut a few months ago because you’d been trying to adjust it with Old. No. 72?”

“Coincidence,” I snapped.

“Be careful out there.”

I got home and took out a padded envelope, addressed it to RIDE Cyclery in Encinitas, and penned this short letter.

“Hi, Brent. I bought this new in 2012 and it appears to either be defective or I crashed the shit out of it and destroyed it. Most likely the latter. I know it’s a long shot, but could you send it back to SRAM and see if they will warranty it for its defective failure not to withstand sliding 100-yards across the pavement at 30 mph?”

A couple of days later Brent sent me a terse text message. “Lovely package received. On it.”

A couple of weeks later a nice brown unmarked box not filled with a bag of dicks arrived at my office. Brand new derailleur.

So when people tell me that the Internet is killing their bike shop, I think about Brent and his shop that is doing so well in Encinitas that he opened another one in Carlsbad. Off the hook service is his standard, and standing behind what he sells is a principle, not a slogan. And when I think about standing behind their product and giving the customer the benefit of the doubt I think of SRAM.

Maybe Internet bike shops aren’t so invincible after all.

package

It’s bike parts, honey, really.

END

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SoCal Profamateur Rules

December 21, 2014 § 16 Comments

If you want to be a profamateur in SoCal you had better follow these rules.

  1. A week has two days: off days (1) and ride days (6).
  2. Buy full-carbon wheels for the annual fun ride.
  3. Never test, try out, or adjust trick equipment until five minutes before the race begins on race day.
  4. Always wear skinsuit, teardrop, and shoe covers on the coffee ride.
  5. Call the plumbing shop, ambulance chaser, and web designer on your jersey “my sponsors.”
  6. 5-10 minutes after getting shelled and falling into a grupetto, talk about who you think is doping.
  7. Whenever anyone suggests anything (movie, anniversary dinner, child’s talent show, free vacation to Monaco) ask yourself, “How will this affect my training plan?”
  8. Have at least one coach to analyze, critique, and fine tune the training plan of your other coach.
  9. The off season is when you train at race speeds and intensity.
  10. The race season is when you recover for the off season.
  11. Don’t ever acknowledge on or off the bike anyone you’ve ever beaten in a race.
  12. Hire a dietician.
  13. Often say, “They can test me anytime, anywhere.”
  14. Always color-coordinate.
  15. Wrap your car, or better yet, your Mercedes Sprinter van.
  16. Anything done by Prez or Charon.
  17. [Add your SoCal profamateur rule here.]END

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If you wanna get to heaven (you gotta raise a little … )

September 25, 2014 § 14 Comments

“Manslaughter and I are going for a slow spin around the hill. Leaving in five minutes.”

I read the text and started changing. I caught them in downtown Redondo, flipped it, and we started around the peninsula. It was 9:30 AM on a Wednesday, and too early on-a-day-that’s-not-a-Friday to contemplate drinking. The chatter was the same as always. Derek talked about losing weight. Manslaughter giggled. I wondered what I was going to blog about.

Manslaughter began talking about Santa and Jesus, and how he didn’t believe in either. Then Derek turned and said, “That’s fine, being an atheist and all, but then what exactly is your plan for getting into heaven? You don’t cruise across the line into heaven in the middle of the pack, sucking wheel. Getting into heaven is a time trial, and Jesus better be in your support vehicle.”

“Not to mention your water bottle,” I added.

Manslaughter giggled and suggested taking a “dirt road.”

“What kind of dirt road?” I asked.

“A flat one,” he lied.

Derek and I agreed since we were on our road bikes and, hell, we had done the BWR, right? How bad could it be? Manslaughter turned off the pavement to the left of where Tink had once splatted and where Toronto’s daughter had hit the seam in the road and launched into the curb and where Little Sammy Snubbins had flipped into oncoming traffic at 30. Ah, memories.

The dirt was fine until it turned up, then up again, then massively up. Manslaughter, currently ranked #23 in the nation for mountain biking, and therefore a never-miss descender and climber, misjudged a turn, fell off his bicycle, and ended up looking like a pubic crab on its back wiggling a very tiny bike in the air. We laughed and passed him, trying and failing to run over his neck.

Derek slowed, having lost too much weight the night before, and I raced by. I kept him behind me by weaving all over the steep and narrow trail. I’m not sure why he kept saying “motherfucker,” but he did. After a while we caught a rider on horseback.

“That horse is pretty sketchy,” I thought. “If I sneak past it I bet it freaks and maybe kicks and kills Derek and I win to wherever the fuck this climb goes.” Manslaughter had been dropped a long way back, which was fine, except that he was the only one who knew the route.

I picked a tight passing lane and went to shoot through it. The horse sensed my presence and looked like it was going to turn away from me, which was fine, until I realized the pivot was actually an aiming maneuver. The last thing I saw was its rump rising up to make room for its rear legs to clear and then lash out.

The next thing I knew, I wasn’t on a hot dirt road in Palos Verdes anymore. It was cool out and cloudy, but I was above the clouds. I saw a big pair of gates. I could see through them. There was Prez, wearing a halo and what appeared to be a peacock suit made of lycra, winking at me and holding a pair of new Michelin tires over his head with no video camera. There was Erik the Red, waving. Those were the only two people I knew.

Then I saw Charon manning the gates. He had a big book in front of him. “Wanky! You signed up for the wrong race again! Better head on down to your proper category.”

I felt myself falling. Now it was hot again, really hot, but at least I saw more people I knew. Hell, I knew everyone. But there was a black river of steaming hot energy gel to cross in order to get to them. I climbed into the boat waiting on the shore as a hooded guy started to row me across. “Brad?” I asked. “Brad House? Is that you?”

“Naw,” said the oarsman. “He went to somewhere really hot and miserable and filled with sinners. He’s in Texas.”

I debarked and got into a long line. “Where do I sign up for the 50+?” I asked.

Lane, who happened to be standing next to me, said, “I don’t know. I’m here for the Strava competition.”

“Who the hell is in charge around here?” I demanded. Soon enough I got to the sign-in table.

A huge three-headed angry Marine wearing an FBI men-in-black suit and Blues Brothers SPY shades glowered at me. “What the fuck do you want, cupcake?”

“Chris?” I said. “Is that you?”

“Who were you expecting to meet? Mitt Romney? You just signing up for eternity? Only $10 for the second eternity.”

“There’s been some mistake,” I said. “Manslaughter’s the atheist. He’s the one who wanted to suck wheel on Jesus. I’m always at the front. How do I get back up to Prez and those tires?”

“Ha, ha, cupcake,” Chris laughed as he gave me my number. “You’ve just been entered in the BWR from Hell.”

I shuddered. There in the distance stood MMX with a whip and a giant purple card, beating a drum that was slightly out of tune. He sneered at me. “What’s wrong, Patsy? There’s only 8 billion miles of dirt through a live volcano this time.”

“No!” I screamed. “Noooooooooooooooo!”

Suddenly I was lying on my back and the horse lady was saying, “He didn’t give me three feet when he tried to pass. He’s lucky poor old Sukey didn’t kill him.”

Manslaughter and Derek were splitting a bag of sport beans waiting for me to wake up. “If you help me wipe up the blood,” I said to them, “I’ll have Mrs. Wankmeister pick up a case of Racer 5 and make us some quesadillas with mushrooms and salsa.”

It sounded like a good idea to Derek and Manslaughter. Suddenly it was okay to drink before noon on a not-Friday-day. And we did.

END

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Remains of the day

December 22, 2012 § 5 Comments

Too many days there are too many things that happen for me to organize them into a theme or even a coherent thought, so the day goes by and so much that needs saying goes unsaid, or in my case, unblogged!

Today, in no particular order except the first item:

  • Prez showed up for the Donut Ride in full Santa kit. No, you don’t understand. I mean full Santa kit. His tall black Santa boots were fitted over his cycling shoes so that his cleats could lock into the pedals. His Santa hat was fixed to his helmet so that it flopped but the helmet was rock solid (protecting what, we’re not sure). He had red cycling shorts. Yes, red. As in the color red. He had a red jersey. He had red gloves. Aside from being the most amazing get-up I’ve ever seen on a bike, he did the genuine Santa impersonation by Going to the Front as we rolled out of Redondo Beach, then pulling the other reindeer (all 100 of them, including Dopey, Stinky, Lazy, Bashful, Twitchy, Flinch, Crazy, Stupid, Slothful, Sexy, Naughty, and Embroey) up out of Malaga Cove and all the way to Lunada Bay. Santa, I’ve been naughty this year. I hope that means I get a whip or some handcuffs.
  • Stathis the Wily Greek unleashed a tour de force on the Switchbacks. The wankoton sucked eggs all the way to the bottom of the climb. Then he let loose. I followed for ten seconds before blowing. It shattered the entire field. None could follow. John Hall, Craig L., and several others duked it out for the scraps. Mark Alvarado got shelled, but then blasted by me at the end in an amazing show of speed. Eric Anderson climbed with the climbers. Keith, Marco, Rico, others all represented.
  • Marshall P. rode like a champion up Zumaya. At the tail end as I was about to overhaul him he gave a big kick and was gone. Kudos!
  • Tink is riding “at power.” This means she goes faster than 99% of all the other riders but doesn’t ever accelerate or attack. 2013 is going to see some scalps hanging from her coup stick. Glad I don’t race against her.
  • The Serfas handlebar-mount headlight (500 lumens) is awesome. More about that in a separate post.
  • Nite Ryder lighting systems just went from fave to frown. More about that in a separate post.
  • Todd Buckley and Rahsaan Bahati put together an all-day ride to Camarillo. All-star cast included Charon, Suze, and many others. Wish I could have made it.
  • Pischon Jones is down at least 15 pounds. I saw more lean meat on that boy than you could find at a Weight Watchers convention. Dude has the discipline hat on. Props!
  • SoCal cyclists are so weather-wussified it’s hilarious! MS, before the Donut started: “Gosh, I’d forgotten how cold it is here in SoCal!” It was about 50 degrees. He’s coming from two years of school in Jamaica, and after the holidays is moving to Chicago. Does it ever get below 50 in Chicago in the winter? Har!
  • Joe Yule got the hardware out of his elbow this week, and he and Manny Guzman got into a “Whose 13-inch elbow scar is gnarlier?” photo contest on FB. Not for the queasy of stomach…
  • Great bike sales and seasonal deals in the South Bay at Bike Palace, Sprocket Cycles, PV Cycle Center, and Manhattan Beach Cycles.
  • Super nice waves this morning at the Cove. Indicators was breaking, and so was Lunada Bay. SoCal cyclists may be weather wussies, but it’s pretty cool to be pedaling your bike in late December in sunny, warm weather while gorgeous sets roll in on the point.
  • Dave Jaeger’s French Toast Ride approaches. It’s going to be grim.
  • SPY Optic and Ride Cyclery have two big holiday rides, one on 12/24 and one on 1/2. The 12/24 ride will be a swords-drawn survival of the cruelest. You have been warned!

‘Nuff for now. Gotta shop. My, uh, favorite family activity…

The off-season transfer scrum

October 16, 2012 § 16 Comments

My phone rang at 5:30 this morning. “Hello?”

“Hey, WM. Have you heard anything?”

“Who is this?”

“Thunky. Thunky Sneedles.”

“Oh, it’s you again. No, man, I haven’t heard anything since your last call two hours ago. It’s five-fucking-thirty, dude.”

“I just thought you’d maybe, you know, gotten some offers or something.”

“No, man. Crickets.” I’d agreed to act as Thunky’s agent in the off-season, and even though the trades had started in earnest, Thunky was still out in the cold, and he was nervous. “Look, let’s go over it again. I know you’re nervous, but you have to be patient. These things take time. When some of the bigger fish get their contracts, it’ll loosen up the purse strings for the domestiques like you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“But what if I don’t get an offer from anybody? What if I have to stay with Team D’oosh next year? My career’s too short for that, man. I’ve only got a couple of good years left, and I need to ride for a winner.”

“I know, I know. Nobody said being a professional masters racer was easy.”

“Fuck, ain’t that the truth.”

“Why are you so down on Team D’oosh? You fit right in.”

“They suck and their bro deal is so lame.”

“Really? Even with that bike and those five free kits and the travel reimbursements? And don’t they cut you in on the winnings even if you’re OTB?”

“Yeah, it sounds great. But it sucked this year. I mean, no one ever fucking wins. They suck. And the frame? It was the Specialized SL4 instead of their top of the line Venge. Charon gets the Venge on his team. How’m I supposed to take that dude on riding an SL4? It’s like bringing a full set of teeth to a dicksucking contest.”

“Are the bikes really that different?”

“Hell yeah. The Venge has this really cool paint option. It’s so fuckin’ rad.”

“Well, at least getting the whole $8,500 rig with Di2 on loan for a whole season and then swapping it out for a new one in ’13 saves you some money.”

“Dude! It’s not about the MONEY. It’s about the wins. You get the wins, the money flows. That’s how the pro scene works.”

“Even in the men’s 35+?”

“Duhhhhhh.”

“Well, what about the kits? That’s a grand right there, easy, free. You gotta be happy about that.”

“Those kits were so last year. The leg elastic band was at least 1/4 inch shorter than the pro stuff Paolinetti was wearing on Monster. Like I’m gonna take that guy on with short elastic bands? And the design was, like, puke.”

“I guess they screwed you pretty bad, huh?”

“I’ll say. The travel reimbursements only kicked in after you’d done five races. I fuckin’ told ’em that I was gonna do a full schedule, but for me that’s four races, including our Team D’oosh club time trial in January. They have to understand that if you want results, you gotta be rested between races. Real rested. Recovery is just as important as training, prolly more so, even.”

“Look, Thunky. I’m gonna try to get you on Amgen this year. You’ll be a domo for Thurlow, Meeker, Brett, Strickie, Malcolm…the big boys. But you gotta bring something to the table. What do I tell them about you?”

“What do you tell them? Duuuuude! Aren’t you my agent? Fuckin’ tell ’em about what we did this year! Tell ’em how the race went down when Clunky Thunky brought the A-game and stuffed the clowns into the hurt locker! Tell ’em that!”

“Ah, what race are you talking about, Thunks?”

“What race? San Dimas! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten San Dimas?”

“Was that the one where you launched off the road and hit that parked car? At, like three miles in or something?”

“You always gotta bring up the fuckin’ parked car. Fuck the parked car! Dude, I stretched the field like a teenage dick on its first handjob. Ask ’em, man, any of those dudes’ll tell you about the Thunky Beatdown. Thurlow was there. Meeker was there. Worthingtons were there. Fuckin’ Leibert was beggin’ for mercy I had everybody on the rivet.”

“Okay, maybe I’ll remind them of that later, you know, like when we’re talking signing bonuses and stuff. What else happened in 2012?”

“I did that one 35+ race and laid the fuckin’ wood to Tintsman and Paolinetti.”

“Phil Tintsman? You? Really? That’s pretty awesome, cause those two guys are the real deal. Which race was it?”

“Hellz. It was at Ontario, I think. Maybe CBR. I attacked from the gun like always.”

“Then you got in a break with Phil and Jamie? Sweet!”

“Nah, I didn’t get in no fuckin’ break. I’m a sprinter kind of rouleur. You know, a puncheur climber type time trialist, all ’rounder with an emphasis on track and ‘cross.”

“So what happened?”

“It was like on the second or third lap. I was fuckin’ railin’ it, dude, 54-11, hittin’ the headwind section like a fuckin’ freight train. Field was comin’ apart at the seams, everybody strung out in the fuckin’ gutter, dudes frying off the back like fritters in a fryolator. Tintsman and Paolinetti were in the hurt locker. The pain cave. Beggin’ for fucking mercy, they were my bitches, dude. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.”

“Then what?”

“I finished my solid half lap and then Tintsman and Paolinetti and Charon and a bunch of other dudes, I think Brauch and Wimberley, and you know, five or six other Monster dudes, and a few other guys rolled off in a break. There was like sixty of ’em. No way we were bringing them back. But you can ask Tintsman, that shit wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t softened ’em up.”

“Sixty dudes? In one break?”

“Yeah, man. It was fucking righteous. Me and Stimp Twitchers–you know him? Rides for Soft Longies, he’s a badass. Me and Stimp fuckin’ motored with the field on our wheel the rest of the race.”

“How many guys were left in the field?”

“About seven or eight. Coddles McGee, Woodenhead, Dorcas Johnson, Tubbs, you know. The dudes you can count on.”

“Okay, I’ll make the pitch for you. What should I tell them your goals are for 2013?”

“My goals? Do you even have to ask? Tell ’em this: I’m comin’ for Charon if they can find me a Venge just like his. Black shorts, with the cool elastic thingy like Paolinetti and Tintsman have. And $10k in travel reimbursements. Up front, Jan. 1, like in the pros. And a cut of everything everyone wins, even if I have to miss the race because of my Saturday yoga class. And free massage sessions–and I pick the fuckin’ masseuse. Don’t give me some hairy dude named Jacques. I want a smoking babe who only works nekkid or in a thong. Happy ending for Thunky, you got that? And a 401k and a team car. That’s my starting offer. See what you can do from there.”

“And what can they expect in return?”

“I’m gonna take Charon down next year. I’m gonna ride Tintsman off my fuckin’ wheel. I’m gonna give Meeker a sprint clinic every fuckin’ weekend. You tell ’em that, Wanky, and you tell ’em Thunky sent you.”

The phone went dead.

A few minutes later it rang again.

“Hello?”

“Yo, it’s me again. Any offers?”

“Not yet, buddy. But they’re comin’ any minute. Any minute.”

Please support the cranky old vet who sleeps in his car

August 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

Thanks, Chris. Thanks for being dependable. Thanks for always putting on a race that’s timely, that’s safe, that’s fun, and that’s smack dab in the middle of where so many SoCal cyclists live and train.

Thanks for not putting up with any shit, and for calling things like you see them. Thanks for caring enough about local racing to do this over and over and over, even though you sometimes sleep overnight in your car because things get underway so early.

Thanks for helping ensure that the races are properly officiated and, for the most part, drama free. Thanks for running events where the check always clears and where the primes are something a lot nicer than a cheap water bottle with a lousy nipple. Thanks for enduring the politics and for doing your best to make sure your vision prevails.

Thanks for your funny Facebook posts, and for your unflinching willingness to hold views even when it pisses off people who might otherwise scratch your back. That takes guts. Thanks for not bowing down to all the “-isms.” Thanks even more for not holding it against people whose beliefs are different, and for being a big enough man to take it just as much as you dish it out.

Thanks for caring about homeless creatures. The way a person treats animals says as much about their character as the way they treat people.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to race our bikes. If you weren’t out there putting on these races, our calendar would be a whole lot thinner. If you could come up with a deal so that Charon, Meeker, Rudy, Justin, Jamie, and some of those dudes all had to do an extra couple of laps so that the rest of us would (mathematically) have a chance, that would be cool. Just a thought.

Pay it, don’t say it

This Sunday, September 2, 2012 at the world infamous Dominguez Hills CBR course, Chris puts on the final race of the SoCal Cup. I hope you’ll show up, pay your money, and do a race or two, even if, like me, you’ve got a snowball’s chance.

Most of all, though, I gotta say thanks to Vera, not just for all the work she does…but for putting up with Chris!

The case of the missing wanker, Part 2

July 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

As I pulled myself up into the cab next to Holmes, a chill went down my spine in that typically British, closeted homosexual way of two men pushed shoulder to shoulder and imagining how the other would look dressed in leathers, tied to a tree stump, and barking like a dog while the other spanked him with a wet baguette.

“What could have happened to him, Holmes?” I asked as the cab rattled across the cobbled streets.

“Do you suppose that’s the correct question?” Holmes riposted, and I could see his face turn towards mine in the dark.

“Dash it, Holmes, aren’t you the one who said the poor wanker had vanished without a trace?”

“I did, indeed, my dear Watson.”

“Then what else in blue blazes could the question be? He was here, now he’s gone. What on earth happened to him?”

Holmes chuckled that maddening chuckle of his, when his rapier-like mind has fastened onto its prey like a hungry mastiff, and no goading can loose its grip. I wondered if he’d ever paid to see a grown man naked. “I’ll be at your service when you need me, then,” I said, somewhat gruffly, and pained by Holmes’s sudden turn of silence.

Soon the cobbled roads of London gave way to the rutted unpaved roads leading out of that great city, and my mind drifted, then dozed, until I awoke with a start. “We’ve arrived, Watson,” said Holmes as we both exited the cab.

There before us was a quiet home, to all appearances as normal a place as you could ever hope to find. A tall hedge was in front, and a pretty garden filled with trees suggested the blissful hearth of that happiest British convention, the country home. Holmes rapped on the door, which was swiftly answered by the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Dark haired, voluptuous, and radiating sorrow, she cried out, “Oh, Mr. Holmes, thank you for coming! I thought you’d never arrive! Please do come in!”

The wanker’s abode

Holmes strode across the threshold with the piercing look I have seen so often, when the genius of his mind misses no detail, and when what to others is a mass of confusion is, to him, an ordered story legible only to him.

The lovely lady stood there, uncountenanced somewhat as Holmes had not bothered to introduce us, and the awkwardness was furthered by her stare at the giant bulge in my trousers where I had placed my revolver. “Pleased to meet you, madam. John Watson.”

She blushed and held out her hand. “Mrs. Prez. It’s a pleasure, my good sir.”

Holmes turned to us, startled to realize that there was anyone in the room, so raptly had he focused on the living room. “Do you mind,” he asked, “if I have a look in the bedroom?”

“By all means,” said the lovely lady, blushing again.

“Watson, if you would,” Holmes motioned me to follow.

We entered the bedroom of the wanker and Holmes went straight to the closet. Rapha clothing of every variety, Assos bibs and jersey of every color under the rainbow, and cycling shoes in green, yellow, pink, orange, and mucous filled the closet. “Great gods,” I exclaimed. “The man’s a fashion model!”

Holmes shook his head. “As usual, Watson, you cannot see the trees for the forest. There’s nothing here.” He turned back, and took a quick look beneath the coverlet on the bed as he left the room.

“Can you find my husband, Mr. Holmes?” the distraught woman asked, her tear-streaked bosom heaving in worry and fear.

Holmes smiled at her in that comforting way a man has of reassuring a woman, as if to say “You can trust me, my dear, I’m thoroughly gay.”

We remounted the cab, and Holmes let out a short, satisfied laugh. “Well, Watson, what do you make of it?”

“Make of it? Deuce it all, Holmes, it’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle ensconced in an enigma, that’s what I make of it!”

“Come now, Watson, surely you jest? Isn’t it clear what happened to the poor man?”

“Holmes, if I didn’t rate you as my closest friend, I would be so exasperated as to refuse all further attempts at conversation! Don’t tell me you have figured this out? The poor wanker had a terrible wardrobe and even worse fashion sense! What else was there?”

“In the main, the mystery is solved, Watson. There are but two small details I should like to make certain of before we retire for the evening.”

The shanties of London

Before long our cab had brought us back to the outskirts of the city, and from the dim lights of the gas lamps I could see that we were in the slums of Chutney, London’s most notoriously impoverished shantytown, where life’s outcasts, men who had gambled all and lost, dragged themselves to die amidst the stink of filth and the reek of gin. I braced myself as we got out in front of the most wretched, dilapidated tenement I had ever seen, and did all I could to hold my breath as Holmes banged on the door with his walking stick.

A bedraggled, besotted, broken, and surly fellow came to the door, his long greasy locks covering a pock-marked face in which two red, sunken eyes stared out from his gaunt and deathlike skull, the last embers of a spirit that was all but quenched.

“Mr. Smith, I dare say?” said Holmes.

“And what is it to you if I be?” snarled the man.

“It could be nothing, or it could be this and bit more,” said Holmes with a wicked smile, carefully tucking a sovereign into the man’s curled paw.

In a flash we were over the threshold, and never have I seen a more horrid den of iniquity. Floozies lay draped in whatever position their drunkenness or opium stupor left them, while similarly stupefied patrons lounged on the couches, awaiting the dawn that would force them out again into the world they had shunned for a few brief hours of night.

“Come in ‘ere, guv’nor,” said Mr. Smith. “An’ tell ol’ USCF district rep Smithy ‘ow ‘e can be o’ service to the guv’nor.”

“Mr. Smith,” said Holmes. “It can come as no surprise that we’re here to inquire about a certain Prez. Wanker of all on two wheels.”

“Prez!” shrieked the old man, his body shivering with rage. “Prez! O, guv’nor, don’t come ‘ere an’ ask me about ‘im! It’s all I been ahearin’ these last five years, guv’nor, ‘Force upgrade the lad, Smithy!’ an’ ‘E’s winnin’ all the Category 3 races, Smithy, damn ‘is eyes, force upgrade the lad!’ ’tis all they can say from dawn to sunset, guv’nor! An’ what uz I to do, guv’nor? One minute some young lad’s father’s a’ breathin’ down me neck, ‘Force upgrade Prez or I’ll have your hide, Smithy!’ an’ the next it’s Prez ‘imself, guv’nor, writin’ letters and callin’ the higher-ups and takin’ me aside on Sundays an’ sayin’ ‘Now see here, Smithy, you keep me here a Category 3 ’til the SoCal Cup’s all said and done and see here, Smithy, I’ll make it worth your while, eh, Smithy?’ until ol’ Smithy’s been pulled and stretched like a piece of good English taffy in the Indian sun, guv’nor!”

“I’m sure you’ve done your very best, my good sir,” said Holmes in that sympathetic way he had. “But pray tell, what did you decide?”

“What did I decide, guv’nor? Odds bodkins, I force upgraded the lad! I ‘ad to, guv’nor! I ‘ad to! Oh, may the lord have mercy on me wicked soul!” With that the anguished man collapsed in a heap, sobbing inconsolably. Then he sat bolt upright. “But I didn’t do away with ‘im, guv’nor! An’ y’can’t say I did! P’raps one o’ them Cat 3 fellows did ‘im in, guv’nor, but me ‘ands are clean!”

“I thank you for your time, Mr. Smith. Here’s something for your trouble.” The old wretch’s trembling paw accepted the gift, and we left.

“Holmes!” I exclaimed. “Won’t you arrest the man? He’s the killer as plain as day. Either that, or he knows who is!”

With his maddening chuckle, he replied, “Watson, I’m surprised you don’t see it. It’s as plain as day. Let us make one last stop. I think you shall find this amusing enough to place it in that little history of my cases at which you apply yourself so assiduously.”

Palace of the lord

“Cabbie, take us to Kensington!” Holmes shouted to the man.

Before long we found ourselves in front of an iron gate, with a watchman who was none too pleased to see us pull up in our shabby hack. With all the ease of a man who had lived there his entire life, Holmes handed the man his card. “Please tell Lord Smythington that Sherlock Holmes desires the honor of a few moments of his lordship’s time.”

“You can’t be serious, Holmes!” I said. “Lord Charon Smythington? At this hour of the night, uninvited and crudely announced?”

“Let us see,” he said with a smile, “whether Lord Smythington can fit us into his busy schedule, even at such a late hour as this.”

In minutes the watchman led us to the front door of the great home, where the butler ushered us in. “Lord Smythington is taking his evening massage. If the gentlemen have no objection, milord will see them in the massage parlor.”

As we entered, the great man barely nodded his head in greeting. His massive legs, covered in massage oil, were being assiduously worked by his masseuse. “Mr. Holmes?” he said. “To what do I owe this unusual, late night visit?”

“We’ve come for Prez,” said Holmes, his steely blue eyes matched with razor thin lips that meant only business.

“Prez? The wanker? I’ve not seen him since the forced upgrade back in April. It’s a bit of a mystery, really, and I can’t imagine why you’ve come to me.”

“Lord Smythington,” said Holmes “you can either show us to him or we will request official assistance. I’m not certain that the publicity would be welcome to a man such as yourself.”

Smythington looked up. “How did you know he was here, Mr. Holmes? I thought I’d covered my tracks quite professionally.”

“Indeed, sir, you had, but you made one fatal mistake.”

“Ah, yes. And it was?”

“The coverlet, of course. Prez slept every night with pictures of Your Excellency taped to the underside of his coverlet. As soon as I saw them, I knew it was you who had kidnapped him, fearful that with an upgrade he would now become your biggest threat at the Dominguez Hills crit. I needed only a brief chat with Mr. Smith, the district rep, to confirm that Prez had received a forced upgrade, and from there to conclude that it must have been you.”

I couldn’t hold back my admiration. “But Holmes, why didn’t you suspect one of his fellow Cat 3’s? Or one of the junior riders whose parents complain after every race because their boy never gets a chance to win?”

“Elementary, my dear Watson. The 3’s had no reason to do away with him, as he’d been upgraded. From there it was child’s play. Despite his matchless string of victories, Lord Smythington was still concerned about Prez in the 35+ or Cat 2 peloton, if only because of his propensity to fall and crash everyone else out. So he brought him here.”

Lord Smythington looked at Holmes. “And how did you know he was here?”

“Prez went to bed each evening staring longingly at your pictures beneath his covers, Lord Smythingon. You sent a messenger to him, inviting him to come to Kensington to learn the ‘sprinter’s secret.’ He couldn’t resist. Once here, you placed him in the basement with ten years’ worth of cycling magazines, and told him that once he had finished reading them, he would finally win a 35+ masters race. And the poor fool believed you.”

“Yes,” Lord Smythington said, laughing, “he certainly did. I also told him that if he rode all over the peninsula in a giant gear and lifted huge weights in the gym he’d be invincible.”

Even Holmes, ever the steely investigator, broke into a smile at the thought of poor Prez, pushing a 53 x 11 up Hawthorne in the middle of December. Lord Smythington bade us adieu, and we left the great house, Prez in tow.

Epilogue

The following racing season, shortly after I had been apprehended while watching another gentleman through a small hole I had cut in a public lavatory, but prior to sentencing at the Old Bailey, I ran across Prez. He looked to be in the finest of fettle. “How are you, my boy?” I asked.

“Never been better!”

“Oh really? Be a good fellow and do tell.”

“I’ve won every 35+ crit of the season so far! And no crashes!”

“It appears your hard work has paid off, then.”

“Yes,” he said with a smile. “It certainly has.”

Wankmeister cycling clinic #10: Upgrades

May 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

After a very successful 7-year career as a Cat 3, I was recently force-upgraded after getting 2nd at the Long Beach crit, even though I only had 4,598,209 upgrade points. Some of the other sore loser types complained to the officials. I told them that it’s only my 75th top three placing of the year. I told them that I started out this year with the GOAL of winning the SoCal Cup as a Cat 3, and that I always reach my goals. This is a kind of robbery, having my Cat 3 taken away. What am I supposed to do now? Race the Cat 2’s? Race the 35+? That’s cray-cray.

Outragedly,
Zerep Divad

Dear Zerep:

It’s a hard lot in life when USCF officials will no longer tolerate cheating, and I sympathize with you. It’s only fair that you should be able to break the upgrade rules so that you can win money and prizes that would otherwise go to someone else. I for one am in solidarity with you.

It is even more terrible that you must now race with the Cat 2’s. What do they think you are? A full time pro? Jeez, you’ve got a wife, kids, job, mortgage. How are you going to up your miles from the current 500 per week to 650? Can’t be done. Those fuckers. And 35+? Are they joking? Like, how are you gonna beat Charon and deMarchi and Paolinetti? You couldn’t carry those guys’ jocks with a forklift. Crap. On the plus side, you can now flail around with Wankmeister and beat up on cyclotourists, triathletes, and joggers. So there’s that.

Commiseratingly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve been a Cat 3 for two months now, and just got upgraded. I’m totally psyched. I hated flogging with all those wankers. It was dangerous, and frankly, not much sense of achievement to win, especially when you’re beating career hackers who are too chicken to race the hard races. I actually did a 35+ race the same day I upgraded and got fourth. It was fast and hard and I didn’t have any teammates, but I used my head, rode smart, and got a decent result. I’m looking forward to improving as a cyclist by racing with guys who are faster and better than I am. That’s the only way to improve. At anything.

Happily,
Nosredna Cire

Dear Nosredna:

This is a sad commentary on the state of cycling, when a guy can just win a few races and upgrade rather than sandbagging for years, collecting prize money, hamming it in front of the cameras, and perfecting the art of “sit & sprint.” I hope you know that you have single-handedly brought our sport into disrepute. How will we attract new riders? How will we coerce our wives and kids to come watch? You think Mrs. WM is gonna sit out in the 300-degree heat to watch Wanky get 55th in a crit? You think Wanky Jr. is gonna hang around to watch Pops get dropped on the first lap of Pukebowl? ‘Course not!

My advice to you, young man, is to forget the crazytalk. Do a couple of P/1/2 races. Maybe even crash once or twice. Then lay low for a year or two and come back as a Cat 4. Move up gradually. If you play your cards right you can get a good 5 or 6-year run of pistachio primes and prize money before they bump you up. Trust me on this one.

Conspiratorially,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m a sandbagger. I admit it. I’m proud of it. Although I could easily upgrade to Cat 3, I like it here in the 4’s. I only race a few times a year anyway and don’t give a rat’s ass about results. My goal is to be one of the cool dudes on the South Bay rides. I want to put the screws to DJ. Make Roadchamp suffer. Drop King Harold on the flats. Heck, I already put a bunch of dudes to the sword on Saturday’s ride out to Decker Lake, including YOU. Then I made fun of Triple for getting dropped after I crashed out Polly. So why should I upgrade? I want the “cool” you can’t get in school.

Setting my sights,
Checkerbutt

Dear Checkerbutt:

Oh, boy. You are 25 years old. DJ is, like, a hundred. He’s old enough to be your grandfather’s father. Beating him, or Roadchamp, or King Harold, is like bragging about having sex with your wife. You’re SUPPOSED to, for Dog’s sake. When these guys were 25, they didn’t have their sights set on smacking down some shriveled up old weekend hobby biker. They were Cat 1 or Cat 2 or national caliber athletes racing against their peers. You can never be South Bay cool on the strength of your old geezer beatdown resume.

On the other hand, for them to ever whip up on you reduces you to ignominy. They’re NOT SUPPOSED to be able to stomp your dick in the dirt. So when they do, you lose all kind of style and respect points. And don’t ever think, even for a millisecond, that old farts don’t keep score. They’re still laughing about your epic meltdown on Fernwood and your colossal collapse on the Rock Store climb, and chasing down Wankmeister at Telo after being admonished not to by King Harold is like marrying your cousin, only worse.

However, all is not lost. It is possible to endear yourself to the South Bay royalty. Follow the easy steps below:

  1. Race. This means real races. With numbers, entry fees, officials, crashes, etc.
  2. Upgrade. This means winning, placing, or participating. Show that you hate being a Cat 4 wanker and are desperate to get out and become a Cat 3 wanker.
  3. Do the South Bay royalty rides in the off season, and obey proper SBRR etiquette as further described below. Remember at all times that as you shamelessly angle for an invitation to the FTR, you must ingratiate, fawn, flatter, and suck knob to a fare thee well in order to earn the approval of FTR DS Jaeger.
  4. Keep your mouth shut unless you’re about to do some serious knob polishing. Don’t remind Triple he just got shelled like a bad pecan. He knows it; he’s the one that had to wipe the four pounds of sheet snot off his face. Plus, he’s so old that by the time you’re his age he will have been drawing Social Security for 15 fucking years.
  5. Don’t crash out Polly by being a fred. South Bay royalty all have families, jobs, and shorter lifespans than you. Don’t move up the date any quicker than necessary.
  6. After beating the living shit out of Wankmeister, dropping him like a stone on the climbs, railing his innards into mush on PCH, and flogging him like a dead skunk all the way back up to his apartment, don’t “evaluate” his ride for him by saying, “You did pretty good today. Not too bad on the climb; good effort there. Good job on PCH, you hung in fine and were even able to do a little work, too. Boy, you sure were breathing hard when we were going up Pepperdine and you couldn’t pull through! Are you going slow now because you’re tired?”

Anyway, I hope this helps. You’re a good kid who has potential, but then again, so did most of the other convicts on death row.

Prosecutorially,
Wankmeister

Wankmeister cycling clinic #8: Last minute BWR questions

April 13, 2012 § 16 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve gotten one of the coveted BWR invites. Can my gal tag along?

Togetherly,
Joindat Thehip

Dear Joindat:

Marital and other successful relationships follow this simple rule: don’t ever get too far apart, but don’t ever get too close, either. In other words, it’s okay to share beds and exchange bodily fluids, but it’s not okay to stand at the bathroom mirror flossing your teeth while your partner’s crumping a hairy beet.

As to the Belgian Waffle Ride, I’m unsure what you mean by “tag along.” Spend the night before the ride with you in the hotel? Sure. Remain on standby in Carlsbad so she can come scrape you out of the mud pit on Country Club Rd. after you’ve sunken up to your neck and thrown in the towel? Of course. Sign for the cadaver? Not a problem. Anything beyond that, though, the answer is probably “No.”

Conjugally,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I didn’t get one of the coveted invites, but I read about the ride on a bike forum. Is the invite thing just a clever marketing ploy to boost attendance? Is there a problem if I just show up and do the ride? How you gonna stop me?

Crashingly,
Tubby Talksalot

Dear Tubby:

Don’t feel bad about not getting an invitation. Neither did about six billion other people, including President Obama, all of the Nobel Prizewinners from last year, and Tom Boonen. You’re in top tier company, and can now tell your forum friends, “Me and Tommeke ain’t doing that ride.” The reason for the invitations is simple: BWR has limited quantities of food, drink, sag support, and security staff with batons and riot shotguns. They’d love to make the ride available to bike forum hackers like you…but not really.

By the way, when you hear about a wedding or other social event that requires an invitation, do you normally chalk it up to a “clever marketing ploy” or do you assume that the holders of the event actually knew who they wanted to attend? (Hint: the way you answer this question will determine whether you stay home, or show up and get politely but firmly turned away with cudgels, curses, tasers, and rubber bullets.)

Socially graceful,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I just scored a set of carbon tubular Zipp 808’s with bladed neutronium oxide spokes and deuterium nipples on eBay for $3,000. I raced on them in Ontario and they are the bomb as far as crit wheels go. Wanna know how fast these wheels are? I almost took Charon in the sprint. Another 500 or 600 meters and I woulda had ‘im. Whaddaya think for BWR? Go or no go?

Zippy Didoodah

Dear Zippy:

Let me put it this way, if I may. The Belgian Waffle Ride will not reward “trick,” or “aero,” or “high performance” items, including you. It will, however, reward “durable,” “battle-tested,” “relatively heavy,” and “built like a brick shithouse.” That which is capable of surviving long-term abuse and a merciless, inhuman beating will do well. I’m not talking about your bike.

Metaphorically,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

First: I had an invite but have decided not to go on the BWR. The Mulholland Challenge is that weekend plus I have church on Sunday plus my daughter Pixie has an important cheer practice plus my wife and I usually do a Saturday night date night plus I have a pretty tough work week on Monday and would probably be a bit tired after BWR. Second: Can I sell my invitation?

Capitalistically,
Smith Adams

Dear Smith:

First, you are to be commended for recognizing the impossibility of you actually completing BWR, and rather than just failing to show up, which would be rude, taking the time to create a mosaiced, finely-textured and detailed tapestry of shitbag excuses why you can’t attend. I know you already feel better, as the crushing pressure of fear, terror, inadequacy, delusion, confusion, and raw, paralyzing self-doubt have now been lifted in one quick string of plausible but completely untrue pretexts for not attending.

Second, no.

Firmly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

This is kind of a double question thingy. Is BWR a good way for me to lose weight? Then, is it okay to load up on Girl Scout cookies for my pre-ride nutrition? These are related.

Multilevelly,
Jenny Craig

Dear Jenny:

BWR is a very good way for you to lose weight. You will not weigh nearly as much once your legs have fallen off somewhere after Bandy Canyon but before Questhaven.

As for the Girl Scout cookies, and I hate to sound rude or intrusive here, but are you a communist lesbian? An Indiana lawmaker recently discovered the Internet, and after expending himself on the search results from “humongous dude does chicken,” wandered over to the Google search aisle for Girl Scouts.

Here’s what fearless Rep. Morris learned: “The Girl Scouts of the United States of America and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood, which is trying to sexualize young girls through the Girl Scouts. Even worse, only three of the 50 role models promoted by the Girl Scouts have even a briefly-mentioned religious background. All the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists,” he wrote.

Morris noted that the “radically pro-abortion” Michelle Obama is honorary president of Girl Scouts of America, which “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization.” After learning all this, Morris pulled his two daughters out of the Girl Scouts and instead put them in American Heritage Girls Little Flowers, a parent-run group for recovering Girl Scouts.

So basically, if you’re a radical pro-abortion atheist communist lesbian first lady girl sexualizer, yeah, load up on the cookies.

Patriotically,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I saw the FOX news story saying Ryan Trebon will be at BWR. Who is that wanker? He looks too big to be any good.

Discerningly,
Frieda Flintstone

Dear Frieda:

Ryan Trebon is a newly minted cyclocross racer who, after three years of hard training, has graduated from public racing to the Cat 5’s. He’s coming on BWR to learn some tips and tricks from folks like you, so go easy on him, especially the sandy, muddy, rocky, and gravelly parts. He’s hoping that if he finishes before sundown someone will take him under their wing and show him how to mountain bike, too.

Mentorilly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

This ride looks way to hard. Where can I buy a winner’s jersey? Also, I like the KOW jersey. I want one of those, too.

Tiredly,
Sammy Sniffles

Dear Sammy:

The great thing about cycling is that in order to look like your favorite pro racer all you have to do is click-and-pay. This is because the UCI’s cornerstone principle is that professionals must use bicycles and equipment available to the general public. This everyman, communal nature of the sport is what separates cycling from F-1 racing, NASCAR, or wars in Asia: it’s just out of the average Joe’s means to purchase the latest Formula race car or an A-10 with uranium-enriched bullets such as currently employed as badass motherfucking terrorist destroying, American hero ass-saving angels of destruction in the netherworld of a fucking wasteland that is Afghanistan.

Even though your rides inevitably end with a shellacking, a beating, and a humiliating dustoff before the hard part ever happens, nothing can take away the pride and satisfaction of pulling on a brand new version of Team Tommeke and pedaling out the door on the same bike that won Roubaix.

In the same vein, the BWR winner’s jersey and KOW (King of the Waffle) jersey are for sale, available to any couch potato schmo, not simply the crushing superhuman who surmounts the mud, the gravel, the dirt, the climbs, the rollers, the wind, the rain, the sprints, the attacks, and the slow death by attrition. To order, please send a cashier’s check for $983.25 per jersey to: Wankmeister Productions, POB 1, Guernsey Isles, UX-20189.

Dear Wankmeister:

While perusing the parcours, I noticed that the portion on Country Club Road looks yucky and gooey. Will there be a skinny on that giant mud puddle or are you expected to trudge through, which would get my pretty little shoes tres soaked? Or, can I bring along Davy Dawg to lay in it so we can ride over him? He’s such a team player!

Ickily,
Goody Twoshoes

Dear Goody:

The problem with bringing Davy Dawg is that although he weighs 300 lbs. and is twelve feet wide, he is all muscle. As you may recall from freshman physics, muscle, unlike lard, sinks. So even if you brought Davy Dawg and laid him down in the mud, he’d go right to the bottom of the quicksand hole and you’d still get your shoes all icky. If you are still determined not to get your shoes muddy, I would recommend you do the ride with galoshes. Most of the other riders will have them, along with bright yellow rain slickers.

Ahoyingly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I received one of the coveted invites, however, I’m a very giving kind of dude, so I was wondering how much in the way of feminine anti-chafing products I should I bring to hand out to friends?

Concernedly,
Veggie Sill

Dear Veggie:

It’s odd that you expect this gathering of hardened competitors will require feminine anti-chafing products. Perhaps you should be more concerned about the tender state of your undersized manparts? I have it on good authority that some of the participating biker chicks will be showing up prepared to stomp dick, kick scrote, and inflict all manner of rude and unladylike physical insults to the majority of the sausages on the ride. But I could be wrong, even though Wankmeister IS NEVER WRONG.

Unfailingly correct,
Wankmeister

Kickin’ ass, takin’ names

December 4, 2011 § 7 Comments

7:50 p.m.: Air up brand new Continental Hardshell bulletproof tires. Marvel at how beautiful and new and un-flattable they look. Fill water bottle. Charge Garmin. Lube chain.

8:28 p.m.: Go to bed.

1:00 a.m.: Wake up and wonder when it’s going to be 5:30.

5:30 a.m.: Why the fuck is it 5:30 a.m. already?

5:35 a.m.: Slather on Mad Alchemy embro. Fumes make me gag and wake up the old lady. Old lady highly unhappy. Says to “get that smelly crap out of the bedroom.” Accidentally get a dab on the chamois and dance around for a few minutes until I can wipe it off with soap and cold water. Hoo-hah. Wide awake now, yes, sir!

5:45 a.m.: First hot bolt of coffee begins coursing through Wankmeister’s veins. Oh, yeah! Where’s my testosterone gel and super-oxygenated blood bag with IV needle?

6:00 a.m.: Make list of excuses for upcoming flail. 1–Rode too far the day before (117 miles, 4k feet of vertical). 2–It’s the off season and I’m still in build mode. 3–Don’t want to whip everyone on their home turf and make enemies.

6:30 a.m.: Begin drive to Tustin Market Place. Stylin in the Prius Pimpmobile with the scarface gash on the right door so they know I’m for real and don’t give a rat’s ass about purdy. Uh-huh.

7:25 a.m.: Arrive at Tustin Market Place. “The ride starts at Tustin Market Place” is about as precise a location as “the ride starts in Texas.” This place is huge. All this asphalt just so OC bimbos can buy shoes and edible thongs. Jeez, what a waste. Well, the shoes anyway.

7:30 a.m.: Spy a few SUV’s with open rear cargo doors parked in the corner of a lot. That smells like cyclists. Drive over and confirm; it’s the Monster Media team. Goodness. Those gentlemen look fit. And tan. And ready to rumble. Feel a bit of quakey bowels.

7:35 a.m.: Hit the Panera for another cup of coffee and a deposit in their porcelain facility.

7:45 a.m.: Suit up in SPY Optic team kit. Realize it’s still fricking cold and I don’t have any shoecovers.

7:47 a.m.: KB, Labor Power legend and 2011 dominator at Dana Point and Tour de Murrieta, is fishing for a valve extender. I lend him one hoping that he’ll have mercy when the whip comes down. He thanks me. I realize my selfish altruism isn’t going to help me at all. These guys look like they had rusty nails and glass for breakfast. Try to look tough but my fucking knees keep knocking together.

8:00 a.m.: We join the 150+ idiots who have massed along Jamboree for Roger’s Cup, run concurrently with the Sunday Como Street ride out of Tustin without the inconveniences of that silly insurance, or having any of those unnecessary ambulances and EMT’s on standby.

Hello, little fish. I won't hurt you.

8:10 a.m.: Drift back through the swelling throng, feeling like a fat tasty mackerel in a school of hungry sharks. There’s Critchamp, there’s Glass Hip, there’s Thing Two, RB, MJ, RM, and about a dozen other people with stars and stripes on their sleeves or state champ jerseys. “Como Street virgin?” asks Glass Hip.

8:12 a.m.: AF comes up and says, “Hi, teammate,” because I’m wearing SPY. “What’s your name, buddy?” I have to admit I’m just a poser, wearing a gift kit, gift specs, and that although he doesn’t know me, I remember him from De Vlees Huis RR, where he towed me around for a lap before dropping me, and from Ontario in 2008, when he dragged me around in a breakway that stuck ’til the end. He shrugs like he just touched someone else’s booger and pedals off.

8:30 a.m.: Glass Hip gives me the course rundown. “Hairy descent after the neighborhood. Lots of cracks, good place to go down hard and have 200 idiots run over your dick.” Feel overwhelming urge to piss. And cry. And go home. And crawl back under my warm blanky. In no particular order.

8:45 a.m.: MJ warns me about the descent. Sit on his wheel for a way, marveling at all that muscle squeezed into those Assos shorts, and how much it’s going to hurt when they flex. All the other sharks get out of the king shark’s way when he cuts through the school. Think I will tag along for a bit.

8:53 a.m.: Group stops to hear a little speech about Roger’s Cup. Thirty bladder-bursting bikers jump off their bikes and rush to the hedge, which is only knee-high. More sausage on display for the passing cars than a pepperoni pizza cook-off in Chicago.

8:54 a.m.: Glass Hip comes pedaling by howling at the top of his lungs, “Who wants this baby? Who WANTS it?” He’s holding the massive trophy. It’s bigger than America’s Cup, although it has a tad more plastic. I’m impressed that Glass Hip doesn’t tip over.

8:55 a.m.: Chit-chat with Thing 2, who’s wearing the pink jersey of “Lider” given to the winner of the 2011 edition of the Tour of Guadalahara. He’s a fricking beast.

8:57 a.m.: Speaker speaks about the race and the cup and the felled cyclist for whom it is named. Husband of a recently killed cyclist gives a short speech but begins calling us all sinners and telling us to repent and that this should remind us that the hour of judgment is near and that we must accept Jesus as our savior. A couple of people say “I’m not a sinner!” and the Jewish/Buddhist/Muslim/Atheists among us kind of feel uncomfortable.

8:59 a.m.: We remount, and it’s game on. Quick flurry as riders shuffle to the front, and a few guys launch, including Herndy-Doo from Big Orange.

9:00 a.m.: I find a stars-and-stripes wheel and edge towards the front as we begin speeding up Santa Margarita Parkway. “Hmm…windy up here.”

9:00:30 a.m.: “Hmm…painful up here.”

9:01:00 a.m.: “Hmm…really windy and painful and fast up here.”

9:01:45 a.m.: “Holy fucking shit this fucking hurts!”

9:02 a.m.: “I’m gonna…get off…this…wheel…and go…a little farther…back…”

9:03 a.m.: Massive whack and smack as my rear wheel rolls over a small boulder. I pray for a catastrophic rear wheel failure, or at least a flat.

9:04 a.m.: Pain gets worse despite dropping back to the shelter of the group.

9:05 a.m.: 405 watts, now sustained for about a mile. Speed 16.5 mph. Pain has gone well into the intolerable zone.

9:05:14 a.m.: Realize I can’t hang on anymore.

9:05:15 a.m.: Realize this is only the first climb of the ride.

9:05:16 a.m.: Realize this isn’t even a climb.

9:05:17 a.m.: Realize how much I hate racing.

9:05:18 a.m.: Realize how much I hate cycling.

9:05:19 a.m.: Realize how much I hate Orange County.

9:06:00 a.m.: Somehow make it over the first hump.

9:06:01 a.m.: Start to think that OC isn’t so bad.

9:06:02 a.m.: Start to think cycling isn’t so bad.

9:06:03 a.m.: Start to like cycling again, a little.

9:07 a.m.: Rear tire begins to feel soft. Yes! A flat!!! I fucking love this sport!

9:07:02 a.m.: Raise right hand and slowly angle to edge of field. Entire group of 10,000 idiots comes flying by. Very awesome because they all see I have a flat tire. Ironclad excuse to claim that I woulda coulda shoulda mighta oughta was gonna if not for that darned flat.

9:08 a.m.: Stop for a leisurely tire change, planning to make sure enough time goes by that there’s no way in hell I could justify chasing. Labor Power team car stops to ask if I need help. “No, thanks! Got it! All cool here! Hurry up there where you’re needed! Have a nice day!”

9:20 a.m.: Complete tire change, but flail with CO2 cartridge so only get the tire about halfway inflated. Realize I have no fucking idea where the route goes or how to get home.

9:22 a.m.: Flag down rider from Coates Cyclery. Kindly offers me a cartridge, tells me the route. Resume riding.

9:32 a.m.: Hit the dangerous descent that Glass Hip and MJ warned me about. Learn that at the bottom, at the bridge, long after the danger had passed, some knucklehead attacked the pavement with his forehead and took down four other riders. Frame snapped in half, body flung onto the guardrail…ah, the joys of rogue racing.

9:33 a.m.: Wending my way through the beautiful oaks on Trabuco. Stop to bleed the lizard just off Hunky Dory Road. Yep, Hunky Dory road. Urinate under a tree where someone has discarded a black Halloween mask and has half-buried several beer bottles. Smells like teen spirit. Keep an eye out for used condoms. Hate to track one of those back home on the heel of my cycling shoe. Worse than toilet tissue.

9:41 a.m.: Turn off onto Santiago Canyon Rd.,and eventually overtake a wanker in a neon yellow windbreaker. Wanker sits about thirty yards off my wheel for a long time. I “practice my spin.”

10:00 a.m.: Wanker evaporates somewhere in the canyon. Far ahead I see another wanker and try to spin my way up to him.

10:10 a.m.: Wanker in the distance is fucking hammering. Or, I’m a bigger wanker than he is. I choose the former explanation.

10: 30 a.m.: I prepare to pass Irvine Lake. Am very excited to finally see a lake in Southern California.

10:31 a.m.: I pass a dirty puddle with a small dock and some sickly birds floating in the muck. This must be the wetlands before you get to the lake.

10:31:30 a.m.: I see a sign proclaiming the tiny mudpit as “Lake Irvine.”

10:36 a.m.: I catch and pass my wanker carrot on the hill leading up to the 241. He weighs 300 pounds and is going about 2 mph.

10:58 a.m.: I pull back into the Market Place parking lot. The Monster Media guys have showered, shaved, changed, and completed the last three chapters of their novel.

10:59 a.m.: “I saw you flat back there,” says KB. Yessss!!!

11:00 a.m.: I get the rundown on the race. Final group of 30-40 make it to the end. No one can escape in the canyon due to the headwind. Meeker smokes everyone in the sprint. Again.

11:05 a.m.: Head back home to L.A. County, polishing and staring fondly at my perfect, shiny little excuse for not finishing with the group.

All's well that ends with coffee.

11:06 a.m.: Reflect on this, the definition of a perfect bike race: 1) No entry fee. 2) Don’t crash. 3) Mechanical that takes me out of the race before getting dropped. 4) Minimal pain. 5) Beautiful weather. 6) Home in time to take the wife for an afternoon coffee overlooking the ocean.

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