It was a nasty, rainy, windy, cold Friday night, and FB was alive with the chatter of quitters, fakers, freeloaders, pretenders, and wishful thinkers, all industriously polishing their rusty collection of excuses until each one shone with the brilliance of a diamond.
“I hate to clean my bike!”
“Weather will clear up later…maybe!”
“My periodization calls for an off-day tomorrow.”
“I can’t miss Junior’s indoor kiddie soccer practice!”
“Clarinet recital–Pooky would be devastated if I missed it. They’re only young once, you know!”
“Getting ready for the LAVRA series; track workout tomorrow.”
I smiled grimly at each lame excuse, thin veneer they were to cover the cowering, quaking souls that lay beneath. None of this surprised me. We were in Southern California, the birthplace and stoutest bastion of the fair weather cyclist. Unlike the soldiers of the Great Plains, the warriors of the Northeast, or the sunbeaten marauders of the South, the SoCal cyclist needed only a hint of moisture to send him scurrying back under the blankets.
Rise and rain
I awoke at 6:30, went into the kitchen, brewed a cup of black rat poison, and laced it with cream so heavy that the congealed fat created giant buttery blobs floating on the surface. On cold, rainy days the lard forms a protective layer inside the arterial wall and prevents the blood from getting cold. I drank deeply from the life-giving elixir.
Next I slathered on a thick layer of Crazy Alchemy embro, cutting it with water to speed the absorption into my skin. Within minutes a small wildfire began running from my ass down to my toes. Tipping my hat to the elements I even donned knee warmers. After a quick bowl of oatmeal I was off.
The drop down VdM was wet, windy, treacherous, and cold. Unable to pedal much due to the buffeting winds, by the time I reached the Donut launching pad at 8:00 the turnout was just as I had expected: the hardest of the hard, the toughest of the tough, the dumbest of the dumb, the flailingest of the flail. I stared stonily, turned my bike without so much as saying “good morning,” and rolled out.
Let the pain rain down
I kept the pace stiff all the way to Malaga. Through the stop sign, down the short drop, and then full throttle. The agony I was inflicting was so massive and so sudden that I could imagine the happy smiles of those who had stayed home in bed to quaff Earl Grey tea and munch their strumpets. Would they rather be at home–surrounded by strumpets–or here–surrounded by a freezing rain and a wall of pain?
As usual, no one came to the front. The Big Orange softmen? Not today. The Big Blue teammates? Nix. The strongmen of SPY? Nowhere to be seen. Today’s strategy, to let Wankmeister pull ’til he blew, would fail, and fail miserably.
Through Paseo del Mar and up the Lunada Bay Elementary bump I kept the gas on, imagining the whimpering, crying, pleading, and begging that might have been going on behind. But today there would be no mercy.
Some days you just have it
I stayed on the front through Golden Cove, battling the wind, and without breaking my cadence cruised easily through the sprint. No Perez came shooting by; no one wanted to challenge anything this day. It was written thus in the stars.
By the time I hit Trump my legs were feeling a bit heavy. The cold rainwater had soaked down next to my skin, my feet had become chilled, and a constant drizzle of rain ran down the inside of my rain jacket, down the collar of my jersey, through my undershirt and against my back. No mind. Pain is in the eye of the beholder. However bad I felt, it would have been worse for anyone else. As it had been from Malaga, there wasn’t a single rider who wanted to tangle with Fate.
At the bottom of the Switchbacks I jumped hard. I knew no one would come around, or even think about coming around. I pedaled on, going harder and faster until the only turning wheels and the only hard breathing I could hear were my own. As I rounded the last turn I glanced back. No one in sight. I cruised up to the college and raised my hands to celebrate this unparallelled victory on the Donut Ride.
Oh…did I mention that I was the only one who showed?