December 18, 2019 § 13 Comments
Yesterday’s NPR started out very hard by which I mean cold. 48 degrees in SoCal is no laughing matter, so out came the fur-lined mittens and insulated panties for those hardy enough to brave the elements. Only Fearless Fred M. dared show up gloveless or, as he put it, “I realized two minutes in that I’d forgotten my gloves, but I was already late so I just went with it.”
The pillow babies were nowhere to be seen on this cold morning, but there were hop-in-wankers aplenty once we got to the Parkway. The new 5-lap configuration has made NPR faster because about half the peloton jumps in somewhere on Laps 2 or 3, fresh as a daisy and ready to pummel those who’ve dutifully rolled out from the Center of the Known Universe at 6:40 AM, pointy-sharp.
My two readers of this blog will readily acknowledge I’m just not that smart, as this week I went out hot, got caught, and then wound up on the wheel of Dante Y., the NPR’s most infamous hop-in-wanker. I don’t know if he just has trouble getting out of bed, if his watch doesn’t work, or if he does a real ride after NPR, or if he just don’t GAF, but he always hops in late, fresh as a daisy, and mauls everyone else to death in the sprint.
Some riders whine about it, but I think it’s great. This is a training ride and you should feel fortunate that there are riders there who will split you in half and not even send you a bill.
Yesterday Dante didn’t wait until the finish. At the start of Lap 3 he caught up to me and I grabbed his wheel, which was a mistake because he went so hard I thought I was going to have a medical event. He flicked me through, I didn’t come around, and he smashed me with another beastly effort before swinging over. I wobbled for a few seconds on the front before the peloton caught us. On the back side of Lap 3 another HIW revved it up again and I got dropped.
However, the small size of the group meant that even the HIW’s eventually wound up in difficulty, as all of them got dropped, and the riders who were fit and/or who had husbanded their resources properly came to the fore. Fearless Fred attacked with half a lap to go and left the field in tatters. Riders were strung out for almost half a mile behind him.
Then Elijah and Rebekah bridged up to Fearless, and Elijah, who as usual hadn’t done any work since the last pull he took on his baby bottle in 1986, leaped around Fred and Rebekah for the #fakevee. Kudos. That was a hard and gnarly ride.
From which we have several takeaways:
- If you are old and brokedick don’t squander a single pedal stroke on the new-new-pier-ride because the HIW’s are so fresh and lethal that they will turn you into creamed soup.
- Follow Elijah’s wheel if you want to save watts. He makes Vince DiMeglio look like a workhorse.
- Rebekah P. is en route to a straight-out NPR win.
- The new NPR is a lot harder if you do the whole thing.
- Avoid the front at all costs.
- When you get shelled, blame it on [your favorite excuse here].
December 11, 2016 § 17 Comments
Suddenly you wake up one day and bam! you’re the oldest guy out there. It’s a weird feeling. Your youth is so far behind you that you don’t even need bother with a rearview mirror, and the thing is, it happens bam! and you’re flat fuggin’ old.
There are no benefits to being old, not one, except its apparently marginal superiority to the alternative.
However, back to the wake up and bam! you’re old thing. I looked around in the break on the fake racey group ride and everyone else was either young enough to be my kid or my grandkid and they were tearing my legs off. This made the bam! you’re old thing feel a thousand times worse.
Of course it may have been somewhat demoralizing to them as the fact is pretty obvious that THERE IS NO PRO CAREER FOR YOU EVER EVER EVER NOT EVEN MAYBE PERHAPS IN UNICORN FART LAND IF YOU’RE IN A BREAK WITH GRANDPA.
But even though they were demoralized, they were angry too, because when you are young and strong and fit and forced to ride tire-to-tire in a five-man break with grandpa it is like having a goatshead in your jockstrap, it really does rub you the wrong way.
So we were pounding along which means that they were doing all the work and I was sucking wheel and taking .005-second micropulls, and even that was depleting my magnesium and glucose and calcium and strontium-90 such that it became clear that our fromthegunintheneutralzone (even though there is no neutral zone) stoplightbreakaway (all successful breakaways on the parkway are stoplight breakaways) was going to make it all four laps out on Westchester Parkway but that I might not be part of it at the end.
Two and a half laps in, along came a Hop-in-Wanker. HIWs are a crucial part of the New Pier Ride; they are people who either get dropped or who don’t make the break so they cut over to the other side of the parkway and hop in with the lead group. Usually the Hop-in-Wankers are pretty easily disposed of because of The Rule of Breakaways:
- If you weren’t strong enough to make the break, you’re likely not strong enough to stay with it when it comes by or when you hop in.
Unfortunately, this HIW hadn’t read the rule, and he was plenty strong. We were all gassed and he started taking donkey pulls, big, nasty, snot-blowing, leg-straining, horsefly killing, drag-through-the-manure-pile pulls and since we’d been going pretty hard it hurt and broke up our smooth rotation. For me, “smooth rotation” meant “place I could do minimal work.”
A couple of my breakmates began shouting at HIW. “Get the fuck out of here,” they said.
But I didn’t say anything because one of my breakmates, teammate Bader the Bad, was only 18, and the other breakmate, Throttle, was in his early 20s and it seemed to me that this was a teaching moment.
What teaching moment?
Well, the old “how you get rid of the unwanted Hop-in-Wanker” moment. Because it happens fairly regularly that you get some dude in your winning break who is either sitting in or who has a faster finish and you need to get rid of him without taking the whole break back to the field, which is what happens when everyone sits up and starts shouting. And in the whole history of bike racing, no breakmate has ever been dislodged by shouting.
So I told my breakmates to STFU and get the rotation going again, which they grumblingly did and which made Hop-in-Wanker happy to a fare-thee-well. He was gonna do enough work to make sure we stayed away and then charge us in the imaginary sprunt for the fake victory.
My young breakmates were perplexed and kept at it. We were about a thousand yards out from the final turnaround for the last lap. As I rotated by Bader the Bad and Throttle, I whispered, “Hit it at the final turnaround and I’ll last-man-lag our unwanted visitor.”
They didn’t know what I meant but they did understand “hit it.”
We jetted through the final turn and they leapt. The other two breakmates were caught out, and Hop-in-Wanker, glued to my wheel (first mistake), thought I was going to close the gap (second mistake). As my teammates receded in the distance, he realized that it was going to be up to him, and he surged. I latched on as he manfully strove to close the massive gap.
At about the time it looked like he might close, he made a horrible screaming noise as the engine overheated prior to death, accompanied by clunking noises and oil coming out from the bottom as he threw a piston rod, shot a small Chinese steel city’s worth of smoke out the tail pipe as his power steering and brakes went out, and he steered his 210-pound paperweight over a bit and wildly flicked his elbow for me to come through.
I sat and watched the smoking hulk go slower and slower until he dejectedly reached down for his water bottle, and I attacked him mid-sip. Somehow, perhaps with the aid of drugs, perhaps with the aid of a motor in my frame, perhaps with the aid of mirrors and a facelift, but mostly because the other two riders had caught my teammates and the break slowed for the final reconnoiter before the finish, I could reattach. Hop-in-Wanker was not seen again.
A flurry of accelerations followed, with Bader the Bad cruising to a beautiful solo imaginary victory against the three other breakmates and his grandfather, who viewed the whole thing from a galaxy far, far, away.
Afterwards the littl’uns asked me, “What happened back there at the turnaround?”
“That?” I said. “Oh, nothing.”
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