Monday, December 30, 2013

For the love of . . . take my advice. Please.

I normally try to write this blog on the day of a ride, but a couple of circumstances conspired against it: 1) I woke at 1:30 am on Sunday morning and never went back to sleep (not as a result of any crisis, but as the now expected, not infrequent, manifestation of my whacky sleep schedule and chronic primary insomnia); 2) there was football, 10 and a half hours of it, that needed watching. I was too exhausted to compose any intelligible account of yesterday's ride without sleep. In fact, I only made it through about eight hours of football before it was lights out.

Saturday's Giro was rained out, which would customarily result in heavy attendance on Sunday morning, but the weather (foggy, misty, 48°, with NW winds at 14), and perhaps the season, kept all but 21 cyclists otherwise occupied. Before the start I was concerned about riding east in a following wind with guys who hadn't had their standard weekend dose of miles, but the pace on Hayne wasn't too bad.

Somewhere near Paris Road, Brian B. (not MD) started complaining about what struck me as highly unusual (both physically and metaphysically) if not downright incredible: he said his bike was moving sideways. While I in no wise question his concern, several people were unsettled by his decision to stop in the middle of the turn onto Paris Road to investigate the unnatural phenomenon. In any event, the unsolved mystery did briefly reduce the pace of the southbound leg of the ride.

I have a recurring nightmare wherein, like Burgess' Alex (1), I am strapped in a chair with my eyelids propped open and forced to watch a looped video of some fool cyclist being road-killed like an opossum while trying to cross the high-speed access ramp from I-10 to I-510. This week's game of chicken was played with one of those pickup trucks on steroids pulling a large flatbed trailer at about 70 mph. Don't people realize there is a better than even chance the driver has been up all night or is in the middle of a text message or has just dropped into his lap a hunk of burning cannabis out of the poorly-rolled doobie he's about done with? I wish, for my sake if not their own, people would quit the craziness.

Watching Ray, uh . . . I'm not sure. Could be praying or thanking his lucky stars he made it across the ramp on 510.
The service road felt like one long sprint, as usual, and, as we negotiated the traffic onto Chef Hwy, it was apparent a couple of people had disappeared. Then something remarkable occurred, something so noteworthy even HL said it would demand mention in this space: HL rode up near the front and asked the group to wait as two people were off the back! I'm not certain if it was an expression of true Christmas spirit on HL's part, or if his good-tidings-to-all gesture would have happened if one of the separated riders hadn't been Sherri. I do know his lingering holiday warmth was not shared by all as Kenny B. was heard to respond to his request with, "She knows the way."

 The ride out to the turnaround was winter-paced with a half-hearted acceleration and sprint at Venetian Isles. The weather improved all morning -- the road was drying, skies were clearing. Inbound, the pace remained mellow until we passed the Vietnamese shops and things began to wind up for the sprint. Because I had felt comfortable coming in, I got into the rotation. Big mistake. I was on V.J.'s wheel and, as he pulled over, I quickly realized that my theretofore comfort was because the group had been fighting a rather brisk headwind which I hadn't experienced from the cozy regions near the back of the bunch. V. J. must have thought I was just trying to ride next to him, but I was murdering myself to accelerate beyond his wheel and get off. When I finally did, I was on the front for about five seconds, which felt like an hour. Then V. J. came around me at a good clip trailing the single line of riders into the crossing headwind which meant that the tail end was all the way over at the centerline of the highway, seemingly about a mile from where I was struggling for oxygen. As we approached the Chevron station, I was only few feet off the back but, at the limit of effort, being off the back into a headwind by a few feet is like being off a mile.

I decided to see if, by leisurely proceeding to Bullard before turning north, I could get my heartrate down to something sustainable. I was eventually successful in that endeavor and additionally enjoyed the unexpected perquisite of finding myself arriving at Hayne about the same time as two very fit women on TT bikes, who I followed, trance-like, until rejoining the group as it came barreling past in several pieces between the bridges.

On Lakeshore Drive, Racer X (aka the Bashful Artist) and Rob K. independently commented on my new shoes, which I found somewhat surprising since my riding a few weeks earlier with one silver and one black shoe as a result of an inadvertent wardrobe malfunction was not commented upon at all, by anyone. Also on Lakeshore I was subjected to a second application of the Ludovico Technique (2) when a younger rider, with whom I am almost entirely unacquainted, churlishly began, and continued at some considerable length, describing for me and anyone else within earshot the details and frequency of certain bedroom antics in which he engages with his spouse. If there is anything my advancing years have taught me, it is that, aside from being distastefully boorish, such behavior, like playing chicken with huge, speeding, trailer-towing pickups, is ultimately hazardous to your health.

Trying to distract myself from what was being told, I started thinking about a news item(3) of the last century which so unsettled me at the time it moved me to write, almost precisely twenty years ago, a small poem. I share it here in the hope that my advice against  publicly discussing the habits of the marital bedroom (and for that matter, playing chicken with trucks) might be heeded:

by David J. L'Hoste

I'm not sure I can cope with the news
Of the man and his wife and the knife,
Of the rape and the tale that ensues,
Of the couple's disrupted home life.

After drinking a few he came looking for love,
And his wife's ardent NO he ignored so says she.
After having his way, he climbed down from above,
And he slept with no dreams of catastrophe.

Into kitchen she strode and returned with a blade.
With a flick to his flesh into hands came his glans,
And while driving away she flung gobbet in glade,
Where it stayed till she phoned in her plans.

In the weeds it was found and then dunked into ice.
Then to doctors it went to be sewed to the bump
That was left on the man who had paid a dear price
For the pleasure he got in exchange for a stump.

I first heard of this tale via fax,
Which was sent by my wife, who's topnotch.
Ever since, it's been hard to relax,
While I sleep with my hand on my crotch.

= = 

 Alex is the villainous anti-hero in The Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

2. "The Ludovico Technique is a fictional aversion therapy from the novel A Clockwork Orange administered by Dr. Brodsky with the approval of the UK Minister of the Interior. It involved forcing a patient to watch, through the use of specula to hold the eyes open, violent images for long periods of time, while under the effect of a nausea-inducing drug. The aim of the therapy is to make the patient experience severe nausea when experiencing or even thinking about violence, thus creating an aversion to violent behaviour." Source (wikipedia).

3. The case of John Bobbitt and Lorena Bobbitt, wherein, on the evening of  June 23, 1993, Lorena Bobbitt amputated her husband's penis and threw it into a field as she drove away from their home. She was later acquitted of any crime. Soucre (wikipedia). Source (NY Times).

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

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