Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Sometimes you hear it
coming, but you still can't get out of the way.
There it was looming before us, but we just couldn't
see it. Maybe it was too big. Maybe the mind refuses to see what it
cannot conceive. Maybe the logic needed to put all the elements together
could not exist in the same place where we stood looking up at it. Not
afraid really, just unaware.
Black Widow turns to me, and shoves an 8x12 glossy
under my chin. She says, "Take a look at this. This is who we're riding
with today." I look down, my eyes expand, I gasp a brief breath of
relief, and think, "Oh goodie, I'm in the ride!"
The photo showed a guy that must have been over 230
lbs. Because of what came next, my memory is a bit dim, but I think he
was in a Speedo at the beach, looking over his shoulder up at the
camera. Lots and lots of blubber. Like I said, I'm not sure on the
Speedo, but I'm quite clear on the blubber. The perfect match to my plan
of not working so hard on the day's ride.
Then Ms. Widow motions over her shoulder and says,
"And here he is."
My eyes once again focus on the hulking figure I'd
already seen a little ways back in the shadows. "Oh no! Not that guy.
Pictures do deceive"...but not in this case.
The picture was old. And the guy in the photo was not
even the mere 230 pounds I'd imagined, but 360. Unfortunately, it was a
230 pound guy who was standing before me, no longer blubber, but muscle,
obviously chomping at the bit to get out on the ride. So large was he
that when he told me he had taken off 130 pounds, it didn't even register.
I quick calculated 260, not the actual 360, which ironically is the
exact count of degrees my head jerked around when I made the comparison
between the photo, the man, and my lost dream of an easy ride.
Still, he was in fact 230. It was more or less the
weight from which I began my previously believed monumental 35 pound loss
over the last 4 months—a weight loss now shown to be the pitifully puny
attempt it was. Even though, could not 230 work into my plan? Granted he looked
awfully strong, but physics being what it is, my prospects on today's
hills were not that shabby.
Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce to you...Kevin Hetzel. And let me mention that it was unsettling to see him a moment
later lightly dancing down to his car and bike, keeping off his cleats
better than could be expected. Such girth above such graceful
pitter-patter did not bode well, and I was starting to worry about even
the sharpest and longest of the uphills to come.
I hate to jump right into the ground rumbling
catastrophe without so much as a musical build up, but here we are on
Heart Attack Hill.
I've backed off the pace (some's as would call it
dropped), and I'm watching the events unfold above and ahead. By golly,
this guy has just kicked the Black Widow's ass, and that sniveling
little weasel Paul Latrine is having his own trouble with him.
Serves Paul right! We keep telling him to quit fitting
people onto their bikes and making them faster, but he
likes doing it
and refuses to stop. So anytime one of his clients is harassing him, making
use of Mr. Latrine's own handiwork against he himself, the rest of us are
pleased silly. More on that later.
The Black Widow describes the Heart Attack
incident thus. "Well, you know that whoosh, whoosh, whoosh Paul makes
when he stands and runs up a hill to catch you from behind? It was
like that...but faster, and MUCH, MUCH LOUDER! It sounded
like...GODZILLA. When I saw him go by I was so shocked that he was still
with us on Heart Attack, I froze. I couldn't respond. I'm telling you,
he IS GODZILLA."
Then she shuddered again, and I could see the dimming
reflection in her eyes of the throngs of tiny townspeople running before
the onslaught, screaming Kevin's new name, running for their lives.
Well, for people like us, that sort of stuff only
serves to trigger plans. They went like this.
Like I said, that slimy dirt crawler Paul continues to
fit people and make them faster, no matter how often we tell him to
quit. So when one of his clients shows up for a ride, and it looks like
there's a chance they might kick his smarmy ass with his own technology,
we jump at the chance to move that process along. So commenced the
counseling of Monsieur Godzilla on the finer points of when and where to
attack and how. There were two moments which were noteworthy.
Descent Du Paul (in the opposite direction)
is one of those power climbs where Paul and the Black always have their
little tussles. Of course Paul has been winning as usual, which a
certain nom'd rider likes not in the least. So Mary pulls up beside the
'Zilla on the downhill just before and whispers, "Here's a hill you can
take Paul on. Just stay behind him resting, then attack at the bottom.
Ease into it at first, make sure your body language doesn't give you
away, then as the hill tightens, stand hard and stay just off his left side.
I'll block. We'll leave him whining."
Of course Mr. Big Lizard but hears, "ATTACK," and
takes off immediately, only to meet his fate a little later when gravity kicks
in and Pauly Girl passes. Tri-athletes are generally sheltered from the
arcane and hidden secrets of road jousting. Mary tells me about her failure soon afterward, but in plenty of
time for me to put together my own plan.
We are coming to Bob's Hill, which I am
bound by contract to never divulge the particulars concerning its naming, but I know
this is a golden opportunity to put Paul in his final place, and maybe
rename the hill. I was thinking Kevin's Hill, since the Godzilla
story had yet to be told.
So on the downhill before Bob's Hill, when everybody was back
and letting us gravity fueled downhillers run away from them, I start
going over the particulars regarding how Paul's ass was primed for the
Señor Godzilla is following his
excited-to-be-on-a-ride form, and every time I pull up beside him to
whisper what Paul must not hear, he takes off again. So before long we
are well beyond any possibility of suckering that low life charlatan
Latrine into an unfair fight. Consequently, on Bob's Hill, I
merely back off the pace (some's as would say that I got dropped)
and tell the mega-lizard guy, "Go on. It's too late. We'll be at
the top before they make the turn. Just beat me, and we'll rename the
hill anyway." I was dejected to say the least.
So we get to the top of Bob's Hill before
anybody was even close, and I dozed off into my own little, "Gosh, I
really wanted to see Paul suffer" world. I was only slightly aware that
Mr. Reptile was ahead and trying to decide which way to go. Then I
remembered that we'd all promised ourselves Angola Road for dessert. Paul
says no part of that Tour De France Stage he did last year in the
Amateur Race was any harder than Angola Road, and right now we were at
its bottom. I got excited and waved our cold blooded Tri-athlete
komodo carnivore on up the hill.
Well, he took off again like always, and I made a
slight note how one would expect someone of his girth to get tangled up
pretty good in the gravity traps on these hills, but they didn't seem to
bother him much. Then my eye wandered up the hill, and I was
buffeted by the realization that he hadn't just "took off" again, but
was actually attacking the hill, the whole hill, and nothing but the
I'm breathing too hard to scream, but my mind is
screaming, "Whoa, dude! This ain't no ordinary hill. This is Angola Road
for goodness sake, don't you know this hill goes on like this for a few
And of course he doesn't know this, because he's new
to this ride, and..."Holy Moly! He still thinks we are on Bob's Hill!
They don't name hills like this for Bob! This is a REAL hill. Somebody
go stop him before there's trouble to pay!"
I sort of whispered this to Paul and Mary as they came
around me, and their heads snapped at the thought. They both took off
yelling for him to stop. Of course, physics being what it is, they
really didn't have to put so much effort into it, because about 3
eighths of a mile later, a well placed gravity trap did the work for them, and our
little godzilla puppy was standing beside his bike when they went by.
"I'll just wait for Bob, so he doesn't have to ride
"What a knucklehead!"
Like I mentioned, this is only two moments out of a
long ride which had by then become an epic. You never know when a ride is
going to become epic. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Sometimes you hear
it coming, but you still can't get out of the way. Epic rides are
always huge indeed...just like our reptilian friend.
Kevin Hetzel made this ride an epic in the grand
tradition of the Maniac Rides which are now way past legendary...rides in
which the Maniacs received their well deserved noms under similar circumstances.
If you don't know these roads, and these rides, you
will just have to show up for one. It is unlikely anyone who doesn't
actually ride them will ever understand how these roads and
courses rival the best of Europe's. How at this point in time, right
now, moments before
its final destruction by the megalopolis, this is the best place in the
world for road cycling. I am only telling you this to remind
you that after you do show up for one of these rides, you should never tell a single soul
about it. Of course, it has
been impossible to get Paul to keep his big mouth shut, but I am
sure you, dear reader, will honor a closely guarded secret and keep it
special. This is just between the two of us. I know I can count on you.
By the way, many of you might have noticed that I
finally got through an entire whole article without once upsetting the
religious right with bad words. Well, mother...FUCKER!
There's Also This About Him