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The Ring: A Collection of Voices

Wankmeister: Does He Know Who I Am?

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We rolled out from CotKU and this guy, from the very beginning, sneaked to the back. You know the type. Everyone takes a turn at the front but this guy never gets anywhere near it because, you know, it’s our job to drag his sorry ass around all day.

When we hit PCH and the light at Topanga, the deck reshuffled again and he opened up a gap next to Bull and started slinking to the back.

“Hey, fucktard,” I said in a jovial way. “Get your sorry fucking ass back in the line and take a fucking pull.”

He hesitated and gave me a nasty look. Polly and Roadchamp were on the point, Bull was behind Roadchamp, and Fucktard had opened a space next to Bull, obviously waiting for someone else to fill it as he slinked to the back. “What?” he said, surprised.

“Get your worthless fucking ass back in the line and take a fucking pull when it’s your turn.” He gave me the Look of Hurt Feelings. “But you guys are all stronger than me,” he whined.

“You think you’re gonna get stronger sucking wheel on the back while we drag your double wide ass up the coast? Get the fuck in line and take a fucking pull.”

“You guys are all younger than me!” he whined some more.

“Like that’s my problem? You don’t like our group go fucking ride somewhere else. This isn’t a welfare state. If you’re gonna stick your face in the hog trough, then you better take a fucking pull.”

What is it with people?

Fucktard reluctantly sidled up to Bull and sat behind Konsmo and Polly for six or seven long miles. When it came time to take a pull he went to the front and took one. We weren’t going fast and we weren’t going hard. It was totally doable and, surprise, he did it. All the while he was chatting, with great animation, to Bull.

After less than a mile the dude next to me flatted. We stopped and Fucktard helped with a snappy tire change. I went behind a fence and urinated on the fender of a very expensive Ferrari. When I came back, he stuck out his hand and aggressively introduced himself. I smiled and responded in kind. Then we hit Cross Creek and he turned around.

“Hey,” said Bull. “That guy didn’t like you very much.”

“Him and 6.5 billion others,” I said.

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him to take a fucking pull and quit slinking to the back like a wanker.”

“He was pretty upset.”

“So what? At least he took a pull. What did he say?”

“He said, ‘Does that guy know who I am? He can’t talk to me like that!'”

“Who was he?”

“Some crit racer from the 80’s.”

“Ohhhhh … then it’s okay. He raced bikes in a hairnet so he should be allowed to sit in and have us tow him around all day.”

Bull laughed. “Something like that.”

Some rules of the road. Here’s the deal with group riding, especially in a small group. No one gets to sit in. If you’re too old, too weak, too overweight, too undertrained, too inexperienced, too nervous, or too lazy to take a pull, then go away. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Wow, I’d like to tow someone around all day, especially someone I don’t know and have never ridden with.”

Think about it like this: If someone has more money than you, do you go up to them and demand they subsidize your rent? Okay, bad example. We’re talking about bike racers after all.

The thing about taking a pull is that it ennobles you, even if you crack, crumble, and get shelled. Everyone respects someone who tries. No one respects someone who, without asking, sucks wheel and never takes a pull. Taking a pull isn’t just a thing you should do on bike rides, it’s a metaphor for life. There’s a kid on the NPR named Ronan who, at age 13, has more guts and courage and personal responsibility than guys who’ve been doing that ride for decades. He can’t wait to charge to the front, take a hard pull, and stick his nose in the wind. He doesn’t care if he gets shelled, he just wants to taste the front and test his legs AND DO HIS SHARE.

So when some dude “from the 80’s” refuses to do anything other than glom onto the back and refuse to do even a fraction of his share … he’s going to get a talking to.

As Garrett, one of the witnesses to the whole affair said, “Well, that was another motivational talk from the Wankmeister. Spreading the love.”

You’re goddamned fucking right.