Monday, November 29, 2010

Planes, Pains, and Sebaceous Cysts The Size Of Kuatos

Note to self: Mayonnaise is not a viable substitute for chamois cream, especially in warm climates.

Oh, another note to self: hey idiot, clean your bike Before you put it back in the travel case next time.

Seriously, the only reason I took my bike out of the travel case in-between my last two trips was to clean it. The problem is this: after a one-hundred mile mountain bike race or after the sixth day of a stage race,
I just don't feel like cleaning the damn thing. I mean, I don't even want to look at it. I do feel like dousing it with gasoline, lighting it on fire, and throwing it off a cliff. But that, I can do with my eyes closed. No visual necessary. I
I kind of want to keep my bike locked in that travel case, it's like a dog that I bought because of its fighting pedigree, a dog I trained to fight, taught to lust after the blood of other dogs, but now…now I've lost control of the animal and I worry that it will eat my face the first chance it gets. It's my fault the creature is dangerous and unpredictable, but it doesn't make me any less wary around it. I associate the bike only with pain and suffering, we've been through so much hell together this summer, it's no wonder I want to lock it away like a Pit Bull gone bad.

It's been a crazy couple months, I've gone from The High Cascades 100 out in Bend, Oregon, to the Breck Epic, a six day stage race in Colorado, and now I'm on my way to Brevard, North Carolina for the Pisgah Mountain Stage Race.

These events are called "races" but, for me, they are more like cycling tours. There is no better way to experience the trails a place has to offer than by riding them real, really fast with a big group of knuckleheads.

One problem with all this flying around and racing is the flying part; I hate flying. I am not a plane-talker for one thing. The second I sit down on the plane, I insert my ipod ear buds as a defensive measure. I may not listen to music at any point during the entire flight, but I want my neighbors to think I am. Or, more importantly, I don't want them to talk to me at all. Nothing good ever comes of talking to people on planes. On the way out to Oregon the girl next to me was a non-stop-plane-talker. She tried to engage me, but when I proved unresponsive, she turned to the old man across the aisle. At one point I tuned in just enough to hear that she was telling the poor, old dude about her Coke addiction. (That would be Coca Cola addiction.) The old dude was as wise as he was receptive to the incessant babbling of over-caffeinated girls on planes, he had this sparkling gem of wisdom to offer: "Yup, I used to drink a lot of soda, but now you know what I drink to stay hydrated these days? — water.


Another fun part of plane travel is the trying to get your bike on the plane as cheaply or as freely as possible. I have a list of ploys I attempt every time I hit the ticket counter.

Airline Employee: "Is this a bike?"
Me: "Um, not really, it's bike parts."
AE: "We still have to charge you for a bike."
Me: "Did I say bike? It's more like trade show supplies."
AE: "They're in a bike case."
ME: "Yes, but it's full of golf clubs…a surf board…a tuba…anything but a bike."
AE: "Uh huh, and it's over weight."
ME: "You're overweight."
AE: "What did you just say?"
Me: "I said, 'that's up for debate,' I read online that your weight limit for bike cases is 100 lbs." (waves hand in Jedi-mind-tricking motion).
AE: "What was that crap? Do you want me to call TSA and tell them I've got Osama Bin Kenobi over here?
Me: "No, but what if I told you I was…an organ donor…and astronaut…that I once saved a baby from drowning."
AE: " I would tell you that I am going to charge $150 for your bike case."
Me: "You're not gonna budge on the whole charging me for the bike case thing are ya?"
AE: "You're a quick one aren't ya hon."

And it's usually about ten minutes into the flight when I remember all the stuff I've forgotten to bring, silly, little stuff like a helmet. I forgot my helmet on the Oregon trip. Lucky for me I ran into Single Speed guru Dejay Birtch. At the time Dejay was in the process of growing one of the most magnificently large sebaceous cysts I have ever laid eyes on right on the back of his head. I called it his Kuato, like the little, slimy/hairy, all-knowing thing that came out of that guy's chest in Total Recall. It had grown to such proportions that I believe Dejay had procured a second helmet just in case he needed to put it on his secondary head, or Kuato. Maybe Dejay had the second helmet for some other reason, a reason I can't think of but, whatever the reason, he had a second helmet and I got to use it during the race and it was awesome, even if it had Kuato juice all over it.

Many lessons were learned out at the Breck Epic, lessons that will be applied at The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race. Lessons like: back off for the last couple stages and take it real easy…
so you have enough energy to clean you're bike before you put it back in its crate, uh, I mean case.

This article was originally published in the November 2010 issue of NEMBA Singletracks magazine. Go HERE to get yourself a NEMBA membership.


Bullitt said...

I once fought the law and the law didn't win.

My bike flew free from Bos to Atl (it was back in the day), and upon retuning the AE in Atl tried to charge me $75. I told them that if I would have known this in Boston I wouldn't have brought it from Bos. so this is bullshit, and so on... I did not budge and won.

It pays to show up early!

Seven Stars said...

Kid, you need to put that "reprinted" disclaimer at the top, this confused the hell out of me...