Help for the clueless
March 27, 2012 § 12 Comments
On this morning’s New Pier Ride I slid to the back on the third lap around the Parkway and was, again, amazed. So many bicyclists on $10,000 rigs wearing hundreds of dollars of the latest clothing doing nothing but soft pedaling. No hard breathing. Tons of shelter in amongst the bodies. No ambition, desire, or motivation to move even so much as a bike length towards the front.
“What a bunch of wankers,” I thought. “Why don’t they go to the front? There’s no workout back here. What’s the point of all that carbon, of getting up at dark-thirty, of smearing your balls mistakenly with fiery ointment, of all those shaving cuts around the groin just to cozily coddle yourself in a big lumpish peloton?”
Then it hit me. They didn’t know they weren’t at the front. They would finish the ride, deem it a good workout, and get on with their day. Most would think they’d been on the front at some point in the ride. They’d be…satisfied.
So I’ve come up with a little primer to help you get “at the front” and to become a better cyclist.
1. What is “the front”?
This is conceptually difficult for most NPR riders to grasp, but here are some key pointers that will unequivocally tell you whether you’re “at the front.”
–There is no one in front of you.
–Everyone is behind you.
–It is very windy.
–The big fat walrus dude with the backpack is nowhere to be seen.
–Your eyes are watering.
–Your legs are screaming.
–You want to vomit.
–There isn’t enough air in your lungs.
–Your heart feels like it’s going to lunge from your chest.
–Your HRM has gone from a series of quick beeps to a sustained alarm.
–Sheets of drool and snot cover your lips, chin, and cheeks.
–You don’t think you can withstand the pain for even another second.
–No one is screaming at you to “pull through.”
–When you finish your turn “at the front” the next person in line says “good job” or is blown off his bike by the headwind.
2. Do I belong “at the front”?
After firmly grasping #1 above, it occurs to 98% of the NPR participants to ask whether or not “the front” is a place where they indeed have any business being. Unfortunately, they mostly seem to conclude that “at the front” is a place where other people belong in order to keep the speed high while they, the “not-at-the-fronters,” can chattily spin at the back. If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you unequivocally belong “at the front.”
–You have said, in the last ten years, that you “race bikes,” “want to race bikes,” “used to race bikes,” “train with a state champion,” or that “Paris-Roubaix is such a hard race.”
–You have spent, in the last fiscal year, more than $200 on any cycling item advertised as “carbon,” “aero,” “performance,” “bladed,” “lightweight,” “tested in a wind tunnel,” or “as used by xxx,” where “xxx” is someone who gets paid to race his/her bicycle.
–You belong to a cycling club, any of whose members call themselves “bike racers.”
–You have ever held a USA Cycling racing license.
–There is any point during the NPR when you do not feel like puking.
–You have two legs, both of which are long enough to reach the pedals.
–You have a penis.
–You have a vagina.
–You have a penis that used to be a vagina, or a vagina that used to be a penis.
–You have ever contested a sprint on the NPR, where “contested” means “finished within 1,000 yards of the fastest rider.”
–You have ever owned, thought about owning, or are planning to someday own a power meter.
–You have ever met professionally with Ron Peterson.
3. How long should you be at this alien place called “the front”?
Now that it’s become obvious where the front is and that, in fact, you belong there, there’s a third issue: Since only bad things seem to happen to those who dwell there for long, and since you are a firm adherent of the pleasure principle, it is important to know how long you’re expected to spend time “at the front.” Answer these handy-dandy questions for a rough guideline.
–Can you talk? Go to the front.
–Can you breathe? Go to the front.
–Are your legs still attached to your hips? Go to the front.
–Is the walrus dude with the backpack within 200 yards of you? Go to the front.
–Are you holding on for dear life? Go to the front.
–Are you at least 30% over your functional threshold? Go to the front.
–Are you about to cry? Go to the front.
–Is this the most horrific pain you’ve ever experienced outside of childbirth? Go to the front.
–Have you just been shelled? Do a u-turn and wait until the pack overtakes you. Then go back to the front.
–Is your cheek mashed against your stem? Go to the front.
–Has G$, Hair, Canyon Bob, Tree, Prez, Davy Dawg, G3, or Vapor just finished a pull so nasty and fraught with pain that you’ve shit all over yourself? Go to the front.
–Has the ride just started up Pershing and your legs are stiff as boards? Go to the front.
–Is Tinkerbell shredding you like cheese through a grater? Go to the front.
–Are you waiting for the sprint? Go to the front.
–Are you not at the front? Go to the front.
4. Okay, I’m “at the front.” Now what?
After you’ve mastered #1-3, you’ll need some instruction as to how you should behave now that you’re at this new, alien place called “the front.” Follow these steps and all will be well.
–Hammer. This is done by pressing down on the pedals with maximal force until you can no longer press down on them any more.
–Really hammer. This is done after you’ve passed the point where you think you can still stay upright on your bike.
–Hammer your fucking nuts off. This is where you no longer care about anything. Everything is numb except for the pain, which is unendurable.
Well, I hope this helps. See you on Thursday.
Happy little fingers
October 31, 2011 Comments Off on Happy little fingers
This morning was a beautiful thing. For starters, the half-clothed person nearest me wasn’t Jekyll in his raggedy t-shirt and dirty underwear. And the first thought that raced through my head (with apologies to Dom, who thinks I have a cursing problem) was, “I’m so motherfucking glad I don’t have to ride my fucking bike another hundred fucking miles.”
Following that glorious thought was the smell of fresh coffee wafting into the bedroom. But best of all? Knowing that I wouldn’t have to tap out another 2,000-word blog on the touch pad of an iPhone. Steve Jobs, you are dead, so I won’t speak ill of you. Your sorry fucking iPhone touchpad, on the other hand, sucks ass.
You gotta keep eating if you want to keep going
In my joy at being done with MT4, though, I neglected to write up Day Five, which was a momentous day in the annals of the tour. It started with M8 gazing in horror at his breakfast burrito. “I can’t eat this. I’m not even hungry,” he moaned.
“Listen, you sniveling pussy,” I gently advised. “ManTour means food. Your body is being torn down, destroyed, beaten to shit day in day out. It’s crying for protein, fat, carbs, salt, caffeine, vitamins, minerals, beer. You gotta eat til you fucking want to puke.”
“But I already want to puke.”
“That’s because you haven’t eaten enough, dipshit. Once you finish that burrito you’ll stop wanting to puke. Then I’ll feed you a stack of flapjacks with three ice cream scoops of butter and you’ll want to barf every time you open your mouth. That’s when you’ll know you’re ready to ride.”
Breathanarian, our little 17 year-old, was sitting at the table in shock. He’d been subsisting the entire tour on paltry servings of vegetables, water, and long rides in the paddywagon alternating with violent headaches, stomach cramps, and vomiting. I looked at him. “You want to grow up and be a pussy like your old man, who can’t even nut up enough to come with you? Keep eating that shit, then. Men eat things that used to bleed. You want to ride like a man? Learn to eat like one.”
The waitress then brought him his meatless burrito (that’s kind of like a celibate hooker) and a big plate of hash browns all running wet with grease. “Were those cooked in bacon grease, honey?” I asked. She nodded. “Well, then, get to it, sonny.”
Brethanarian looked on in horror. “Shit, son, that’s good old-fashioned bacon lard. From pigs. Hate the fucking taste? That’s why God invented ketchup.” I shoved him the bottle.
He cautiously dribbled on a few glorps. “Dammit, boy, is there a war ration for ketchup going on? Gimme that fucking thing.” I splooged out half the bottle until his patty of hashbrowns looked like the morning of Saturday the 14th. “Now eat the fuck up.”
He and M8 began plodding through their meals. Their half-assed, dainty bites were painful to watch. The gal brought my bacon/sausage/chorizo double-wide burrito with a side of six blueberry pancakes and a tub of butter. I slathered the whole thing up with a container of maple syrup and washed it down with six cups of hot coffee, sopping up six large paper napkins in the process with drippings, spillings, poolings, and dribblings off my chin. Breathanarian was holding back tears. M8 quietly sobbed into his napkin.
“Gimme that, you pussies,” I said, taking what was left of M8’s burrito and the boy’s unfinished patty of potato-ketchup mush, mixing them in with my pancakes, dumping on some leftover salsa, and polishing it off with a tall glass of water. “Now, then. Let’s go ride our fucking bikes.”
Who wins the ManTour?
No one, you idiot. It’s a tour. However, ManTour does contain several discrete points, victory at which allow you infinite bragging rights–except that on ManTour it’s terrible form to brag. It doesn’t matter how you cross the line, either–you can cheatfully sneak away for the big prize at the L.A. County line on PCH like Knoll did two years ago at the Rock while everyone was stopped to change a tire and pee, or you can do it in a manly breakaway with a fierce sprint to the death as occurred in 2010.
The manner is irrelevant: only the result counts. Winning by strength, strategy, cunning, and strong legs are accorded the same respect as leaving early, sneaking off, cheating, lying, skulking, and batfucking your buddies when they expect it least.
On MT4 the first point was scored at the top of Page Mill Road on the way to Santa Cruz by Pretty Boy. The second point was scored at the Santa Cruz city limit sign by Coolhand. The third point was scored by Wankmeister in Big Sur. The fourth point was taken by Jens, who cheated his way into Ragged Point by leaving early and missing the construction stops: and what’s instructive here is that despite his low-lifing thievery, he still got the point, the sorry turd, as he beat me by a handful of seconds. The fifth point was taken by Wankmeister at the city limit sign for Morro Bay despite a long-range attack from the back launched by Bluebeard. The sixth point was likewise harvested by Wanky at the city limit sign in Lompoc. The seventh point was taken by Fireman at the Hollister exit on the 101.
But the eighth sprint point for the L.A. County line? The crowning sprint finish that the winner gets to tattoo on his forehead? The way this battle was won was one for the ages.
It ‘piers to me…
After a couple of hours’ riding, the Ironfly blue train reached Ventura Pier, we peeled off our armwarmers, Gu-ed up, drained our collective lizards, snapped some glory photos, and soaked in the beautiful morning sun. Twenty minutes later we rolled at a snail’s pace all the way to and through Oxnard. Once we hit Port Hueneme Road, the group rolled a bit more briskly, as the ag fields out past the last stoplight are the place where the attacks usually begin. From there to the county line sprint is about 15 miles.
Fireman busted away. I followed. Jekyll followed. After a couple more surges the group included Woodenhead, Hourrecord, Fireman, Jekyll, Fishnchips, Rocky, Coupe DeVille, and me. A few miles before the Rock we overtook a trio of Bicycle Bob wankers, who were thrilled to have a train. They hopped in, but after a few pulls the grease began to sizzle, and then they stopped taking pulls, and then Jekyll hit the eject button. Woodenhead was riding like a man possessed.
Jekyll took a couple of flyers, was brought back, and in the process we lost Fishnchips and Rocky. On the final roller before the flat 1k finish to the county line, Jekyll jumped, I covered and countered, and then Fireman blew past everyone. I barely latched onto his wheel and he towed me to the line, gifting me the eternal glory, money, and fame that come with such a prestigious finish.
A short time later we reached the Starbucks in Trancas, where the group, which had swollen to about 20 riders, stopped for coffee and lunch. There, sitting at a table, was M8, taking sips from an iced coffee and then upchucking bits of breakfast burrito into a plastic bag. There, lounging outside, was Tom Collins, chin sunken on his bony chest, eyes glazed over and unseeing. Somewhere even farther down PCH was Breathanarian, still fueled by the jet-fueled bacon grease.
The three hero-idiots had slunk off at the Ventura Pier and made a mad, pell-mell dash for the county line. The only problem was that they didn’t know where it was, as the sign had been stolen earlier this year and the only way to know it was by the change in pavement color. M8 and Tom Collins thought it was at Trancas, some five miles on down the road, and poor Breathanarian thought it was farther away still.
Since they hadn’t known where the line was, they couldn’t say who crossed it first–so none of the three could properly claim the win. When I asked M8 how he felt, he said “As long as I stop tasting this fucking burrito by tomorrow, I’ll be fine.”
Spoken, and eaten, like a man.
MT4 Day Two: The big country of the south
September 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
When large numbers of overly aggressive, underly fit old farts get together to compete, strange things happen. At yesterday’s Texas-UCLA beatdown, for example, we showed up to our seats with two large chicken burritos apiece, a plastic tub filled with Indian curry, four containers of fries, extra-large cups of lemonade, a blanket apiece (not necessary in the 90-degree heat), and an assortment of satchels, backpacks, and oversized handbags. We fit barely into the tiny Rose Bowl seats, kind of like that extra dollop on the taco that makes all the grease and beef and juice dribble out the end when you bite into it. The season ticketholder (50-yard line, Row 10) sitting in front of us watched our arrival in horror and disgust. These were literally the best seats in the house, and there was more orange than blue in the surrounding seats.
“I didn’t get season tickets to be surrounded by Texans!” she snapped. This lady, who I’ll call Nasty Bitch from Hell with a Sorry Fucking Attitude, or just “Nasbitch” for short, was in her late fifties and obviously trying to recapture her glory sorority days when she was the floor whore at her house as a UCLA undergrad.
Look before you leap
Unfortunately for the ex-dorm queen, we attended the game with my mom, who grew up in a small Texas town, is in her 70’s and takes no shit from anyone, especially rude women with an attitude.
“We’ll do our best not to bother you, honey,” Mom said in her sweetest Texas twang.
“You’re already bothering me!” Nasbitch said. “Where did you get your tickets from, anyway? Stubhub? And you’ve got too much stuff!”
“Now don’t you mind us, honey,” Mom said. “We’re just going to be quiet as church mice. Where did you get that pretty bracelet, honey? That is so cute.”
“I didn’t get it at Wal-Mart,” Nasbitch snarled as she turned back for kickoff.
Mom then accidentally kicked what was left of the curry off the little ledge and it spilled into Nasbitch’s very cute $1,500 Vuitton bag that she had tucked under her seat. “Oh goodness me, honey, look what I did! I’m so sorry!” Nasbitch went berserk just as the Texas contingent began to roar at the first interception of the game. “Oh honey, look! Everyone’s cheering!”
“Yeah, mom. Texas just got a touchdown!”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked in a stage whisper.
“It’s awesome, mom. It means we scored points and are going to beat the crap out of UCLA.”
“Don’t talk ugly. And it’s not their fault that they can’t play football very well. They are from California, after all.”
For the next two quarters I roared “Hook ’em!” and “Stuff him like a cheap taco!” and “Good job, UCLA Ruins!” and “Touchdown!” and “Fumble!” and “Another Texas beatdown!” and “Chokers!” and “Score!” and “Barbecue the bastards!” and “Touchdown!” and “UCLA sucks!” until Nasbitch picked up her stuff and left.
Santa Cruz to Big Sur: rum, sodomy, and the lash
Day Two of MT4 is kind of like that football game…one long-ass, miserable, never-ending beatdown.
“Big Sur” gets its name from the region’s original Spanish appellation, “El país grande del sur,” which can be roughly translated into English as “The great southerly land where Chief realizes he should have gotten in more MT4 training miles.”
In addition to stunning natural landscapes, Big Sur boasts endemic plants such as wild orchid, and a small population of California condors. The native Americans of Big Sur were largely exterminated by the Spanish, who through through slavery, pestilence, rapine, torture, and murder taught the heathens the gospel and virtues of Christ.
Day 2 of MT4 relives the enslavement by the early conquistadores, as the gang leaders flay the weak, sick, and frail, driving them mercilessly from Santa Cruz to Monterrey with a hail of oaths and strokes of the cat o’ nine tails. Driven like hogs to the slaughterhouse, the tour goes through one of the most beautiful places on earth–Carmel, California. But the bloodied and weary Roman galley slaves never see it, as their sweat-filled eyes are glued to the wheel in front, suffering like dogs with each stroke of the lash that goads them on to their destination.
Mixing the waters of the earth
Weary, beaten down, and ready to quit many hours ago, the sinners shackled to the train of pain roll onto Bixby Bridge, one of the great iconic structures in California. The road-weary wankers dismount stupidly and fumble for their shrunken wrinkly, sometimes for minutes, as they hurry to pee into the Pacific Ocean before the train thunders off again.
Woe unto the stragglers who fail to land their plank in the Roman galley before the vessel of woe sets sail! The next ten miles are uphill, rolling, and windy beyond belief. What was once the misery of being beaten and thrashed by heartless taskmasters has become something even worse: hanging onto the end of the taut rubber band, wondering when it’s going to snap and leave the broken oarsmen stranded on their own, battering helplessly for mile after mile into the teeth of the ferocious coastal gale. Just as things seem like they can’t get any worse, they do! A series of hard accelerations splits the small group that has launched off the front, and the New Mexican Fireman drives a stake through the skulls of the hangers-on, flying home alone to the sprint finish in Big Sur itself.
Beer, medicinal herbs, slabs of steak, more beer, potatoes slathered in butter, and more beer will presage an evening spent howling and crying at the massive leg cramps that twist the downtrodden mantourists into new yoga postures of pain. MT4 Day Two: in the books.