“Are you doing the Ride to the Rock tomorrow?” the email from Hockeystick asked.
“No. I’m riding with Bull and Major Bob up to Pasadena to watch the UCLA game.”
“You should send out an email to everyone telling them the Ride to the Rock starts at 6:00 AM instead of 7:00.”
“I’m not going on the ride and in any event I’m not the organizer, promoter, or sponsor. If you want to coordinate, why don’t you send out an email?”
A few hours later, in popped the email. “Ride to the Rock, leaving at 6:00 AM. Everyone welcome. Signed, Hockeystick.” It went out to a bunch of people.
Will you go to the prom with me? You will? Awesome! (One day later: How are you getting to the prom? And who’s going to buy your dinner?)
Later that evening Bull emailed to say that Hockeystick would be joining us on our sojourn to Pasadena.
“But he’s doing the Ride to the Rock tomorrow, and emailed a bunch of people about it.”
“Yeah. Several people blew off their regular ride to join him.”
“Oh. Well, surely, he wouldn’t just blow everyone off like that.”
“You don’t know Hockeystick.”
Glorious ride statistics and factoids
Distance: 90 miles
Climbing: 6,800 feet
Elapsed time: Seemed like forever
Food consumed: Half a bagel with jam, three cups of coffee, 3/4 of a Clif bar
Route: We rode from the South Bay to Santa Monica to the West Side, climbed through Bel-Air, took Mulholland to Laurel Canyon, crossed the Valley, then climbed back up Big Tujunga, Angeles Crest Highway, and dropped down into Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. This was an extraordinary route and got us way out of our comfort zone, except for Hockeystick, who was not just out of his comfort zone but pretty much in the urn for cremains from the minute we hit Bel-Air ’til the end.
Recommendations: Big Tujunga + Angeles Crest is long, hard, brutal, hot, and a favorite for crazies like the 300-lb. dude on the cafe racer whose passing fat draft almost bowled us over. Rednecks in pickups are de rigueur, as are rusted out turdboxes crammed with tweakers speeding to Palmdale for another meth run.
Best in-town discovery: Roscomare from the bottom and over Bel-Air is beautiful and a stiff climb. Hockeystick emptied most of the contents of his suitcase of courage on the first 1/3 mile, meaning that he had to do the rest of the climb using the contents of his moneybelt of adipose, which was painful to do and almost as painful to behold.
Bring your Trojans: Hockeystick was decked out for the UCLA-OSU game in a USC kit with the word “Trojans” in big, bold letters, which almost got him a date. Not at the game, but at the top of the Angeles Crest climb. Bull, Major Bob, and I had stopped at the forest service fire station to wait, and after three or four hours Hockeystick appeared, looking like Matt Barkley after playing Stanford. The half-naked fireman at the firehouse was playing loud, gay workout music as he flexed and preened with his barbells and calisthenics. Hockeystick made the mistake of wandering down by the water faucet and pulling out his own watering device to relieve himself. The combination of Hockeystick’s exposed stub and the word “Trojans” may have suggested to the sweaty, lathered up fireman that Hockeystick was inviting him to play a game of “hide the sausage in the tunnel,” and it was only by quickly suiting back up and dashing away at top speed that we were able to avoid having Hockeystick dragged off into the mancave and turned into a prison bitch.
Worst sound of the day: Bull, towards the top of Angeles Crest, moaning and groaning and whimpering the last two miles of the climb. “Unnnnnh!” and “Munnnnhrg!” and “Wennnnnghhunnh” are new words for me. Thank you, Bull.
Strangest comment: Bull, as we climbed Big Tujunga, turned back and said, “Aren’t these desert colors beautiful?” Although I was focused mainly on his rear wheel, I later looked around. The colors were brown, tan, gray, off-brown, and charred black from the forest fire. Uh, no, they’re really fucking ugly. But that’s just me.
Best view: Descent from La Canada-Flintridge into Pasadena via Chevy Chase and Figueroa. This is spectacular, and Bull took us on a secret back route to the Rose Bowl.
Weirdest police behavior: Cops at the Rose Bowl refused to let us bike through the parking area until Bull told them the exact location of his car. Like, what were we going to do? Steal a parking space with our bikes?
Heavenly angel of the day: Mrs. Hockeystick, who had sent a care package of fresh, iced and sliced watermelon. Watermelon on a hot day is the best. Cold, sliced watermelon after a brutal slog through the nasty heat is a foodgasm.
Narrowly avoided beating of the day: Hockeystick’s USC/Trojans bike outfit didn’t wear too well in the UCLA fan parking area. Thankfully, he’d packed a change of clothes that featured UCLA’s famous pansy blue with gold sparkles. I never saw someone change out of a bike kit so quickly.
Fashion fail of the day: My pants no longer fit and I’d forgotten to pack a belt. Saggy jeans falling down around my ass made for comic relief in some, nausea in others. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been wearing my yellow and green Sponge Bob underpants.
Dietary mistake of the day: 2-foot long brat heaped with sauerkraut, jalapenos, ketchup, mustard, salsa verde, and chili, followed by cramming myself into a tiny seat under the Rose Bowl’s 106-degree heat blanket.
Funniest putdown of the day: Hey, Wankster, I know you’re from Texas and everything, but is the heat bothering you? [It wasn’t actually, unless you consider heatstroke "bother.”]
Smartest move of the day: Abandoning Hockeystick, Bull, and Major Bob after the first quarter, returning to the park, and falling asleep on the grass under the shade of an oak tree. For three hours.
Moral of today’s ride: Get out of your routine and explore somewhere new. And don’t forget to bring the Trojan(s).