Merco Stages 2 and 3

My vacation is down to just one more day: the final 120-mile Hilltop Road Race. It may sound like a big bruiser of a stage, but I’ve heard that it’s dead flat and easy. Gaimon is still in the lead after the crit and TT, and with eight Bissell teammates to sit on the front tomorrow, everyone will likely be kept in check and it’ll probably be a borring stage to sit in on. So I will be going on the attack early and often, even if the break doesn’t stand a chance. The race starts at 8AM….so never-mind. I will be sitting in the pack and finishing my coffee.

The TT was yesterday. I didn’t do rul good at all and finished 47th. It turns out that you can’t get fast at time trialing in just a single week, which I’d pretty much banked on. But I did limit my losses to being crushed by Ben JM by only two minutes, instead of 2:30 like Valley of the Sun the other week.  So my very recent obsession with the time trial bike has shown some slight improvement. If I keep this 30-second-per-week-and-a-half rate up I’ll win the Redlands time trial five weeks from now. And I’ll easily win the Gila time trial by well over a minute. I guess I’m okay with this.

Today’s crit was a bit sketch, not hard, and fun–I guess, now that it’s over and done with. 30 or 40 minutes in some guy got pushed into a sharp metal road barrier on one of the corners–the inside line that I’d taken almost every single time–and he crashed hard. We were neutralized the next couple laps as the ambulance scraped him and his blood and guts off the ground. This is why crits are dumb. This happens every time. Crits are season and career enders. And it’s all for the entertainment of a handful of random “fans” that don’t have any idea what’s going on or really care about bike racing in the first place. Crits should not be in stage races. If we’re dumb enough to go do them on the weekend then so be it, but leave them out of stage races where 140 already tired guys all want to be at the front.

Anyways, I avoided that inside corner for 12 minutes after the crash, then decided it was worth the risk because you could gain like 10 spots every time there. I held good position for the majority of the race, sitting 15th to 30th. But with five laps to go I realized I was too far back, then didn’t chop enough people to get back to the front for the final two laps. I ended up 39th, so again no result to speak of. Might as well lose is a great book by Johan Bruyneel. I should have been more aggressive towards the end. But I can’t complain too much because my face is still in tact, having avoided going head first into that barrier’s sharp metal corner.

After the crit I rode home to the motel room and hopped back on my time trial bike to slay my glutes for another hour, finishing off the day of the making the pedaling for 95 miles in all. Since I’m not at work and it’s not snowing I might as well take advantage and put in some training hours while I’m here.

My day wasn’t over just yet. I got back from the ride, covered in slimy sweat because it’s WARM! here, grabbed my wallet and a handful of David’s and my Subway receipts for one free cookie each, and rode the 100 ft to the Subway right next to our motel. I was still in my kit and brought my bike into the Subway, leaning it up against some chairs. I got in line, right behind a big guy who I could sense was already mad at me for being a cyclist. Pretty quickly he started chatting with me–in a surprisingly friendly manner actually. Had I judged this guy wrong?

No, I had not. He asked if I was one of “them guys who ride on 135.” I said maybe, and that I didn’t know any road names around here. He replied, “Yeah, they’re always wanting to ride side by side, taking up the whole road with us semis coming both directions. Some of em in the center of the road even! I have to lay on the horn. Like, ‘hey buddy gotta move over before you get squashed.'”

“In the center of the road? I doubt it,” I said. “And no, I’m not one of those guys. I’m not from around here.”

“Right in the center,” the fat bastard replied, somewhat grinning and hoping for me to agree and sympathize with him.

“Well I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t know, would I?” I said.

I just stared at him in silence for a moment, plotting how I’d get my revenge for the poor suckers that this fat idiot had run off the road.

“They have the nerve to flip me off sometimes too. One time this guy who was riding right in the center flipped me off. I jack-knifed my trailer and got out. He sees me get out and I see him turn around and go right back the other way,” the fat fuck proudly said.

“Well, I’m sure he saw how big you are,” I said looking him up and down. “That guy probably only weighed 150.”

This did the trick. No yelling, no cursing. Just an insult to this man’s physical appearance was all it took. He changed the subject, saying he wouldn’t even be in this crap restaurant if it wasn’t for his doctor. “Have to eat health food.” (Um, since when is Subway health food?) He told me that his doctor wanted him to quit drinking and smoking too, on account of the blood clot in his leg. (Well no shit).

“I quite drinking but not smoking. Can’t give them both up you know?”

“Huh,” I said, staring back at him as I waited for him to speak again. He turned away and looked ahead at the overhead menu for a moment.

I asked what he was thinking of getting, and let him know that the Italian BMT looked good. “And so does the salad.”

He fidgeted around and said he didn’t know what he’d get. It all looked like crap.

“What do you normally eat?” I asked.

“Usually bout this time I’m grilling up some ribs.”

I stared back and said, “Oh,” in a really disgusted tone.

Without warning he complained that the line was taking too long and walked out the door, muttering that he’d go to the Subway across town instead. It was a pretty bizarre   conversation for the two of us to have. It felt a little like I’d been antagonizing a teammate for eating too much, which is the best way to make someone (at least a bike racer) feel bad about himself. Apparently this also works for obese, diabetic truck drivers  who hate cyclists. Who would have guessed?

I moved up in line when the truck driver left and stopped next to a table that seated three high schoolers, who’d been checking me out for the couple minutes. I could feel their eyes on me as they thought of something to say. I’ll just summarize since I’ve already written a lot of dialogue and dialogue takes forever to make up I mean remember. They asked about the race, ooed and awed when I replied, then blatantly began hitting on me, saying how good my legs looked. I thanked them and one of them said, “No, they’re really nice. They look really good. You have great calves.” “Your thighs are really nice,” another one of them said. “All you bikers are like super fit, huh?” They asked me how old I was and said 27, to which they replied, “Oh wow we thought you were like 22!” “You look so young.” They had now confirmed to me that they wanted it, and all three of these dudes were HOT too. Haha just kidding. They were girls. I’m not a pedophile AND gay. That would just be wrong. In fact, is it even considered pedophilia if it’s with a girl? I’m pretty sure in some states it’s just called being a good father. (Disclaimer for my non personal-friend audience: if you don’t see my sarcasm in any of this, it’s because you don’t understand sarcasm).

Despite the coyness gleaned from a pair of gleaming braces, I skirted away as fast as I could when the line finally moved forward. They said it was nice to meet me and I agreed, feeling their greedy eyes on my ass when I turned away. I’m more than some pretty face, beside a train. And it’s not easy, to be-he me. 

This is the only picture I’ve taken this week. I do realize it’s a terrible picture and also very boring and has nothing to do with racing, but I have to put something in here for a thumbnail to reel you guys in.

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Last night I rode to a grocery store for some food and lotion. I found a huge Mexican grocer with tons of cool stuff. I got these Duros, which taste a lot like Pirate’s Booty but for only 99cents. Plus I got a large papaya (not pictured but it was also really good). Oh, and the Duros came with a couple hidden packets of hot sauce. All in all a great find. Some might even call it a durom good find! HAHAHAHAH.

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