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Old 06-09-14, 05:43 PM   #1
Racer Ex 
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Vuelta Ciclista Mazatlan, A novella

Vuelta Ciclista Mazatlan

A seven chapter novella of bicycles, beach volleyball, and alcohol

Chapter One

You might ponder the rationality of entering a six day stage race in a foreign country on four weeks of training after two spine procedures and walking pneumonia in the months prior; a country with a questionable health care system where your mastery of the local language consisted of the names of alcoholic beverages and the word for the place where you would eliminate these from your body.

You might question taking two cruel saddle sores to a place where the climate has produced 6 different words for “jungle rot”.

You’d certainly scratch your head at stuffing thousands of dollars of carefully molded carbon fiber bits into a plastic box and handing it over to people who would have difficulty returning an egg to an egg carton, after which they will hand over the egg carton to a meth addict for safe keeping.

You'd be well in your rights to declare this the act of a madman.

But I would remind you that at some point in their child’s lives, most parents place them on a bicycle, a machine would be litigated out of existence if it appeared in any modern toy store as having the fatal design flaw of wanting, in perpetuity, to throw itself to the ground.

We are all mad. Even the Amish.

Hi ho, hi ho, into the air we go.

There’s something both thrilling and unnerving about stepping out of an climate controlled aluminum tube and getting hit with a blast of hot humid air the likes of which can only be replicated by a drunken bar fly gently shouting her come on in your ear at closing time. I swear I smelled cheap bourbon in the air, though given the free first class drinks on the way down, that could just have been me.

Welcome to Mazatlan.

Through the miracle of modern science our luggage count matched the tag count and we are greeted with Mexico’s custom’s lottery, a button which (they claim) randomly gives you either a red or green light. Push the button and get the green and you could have a half ton of illicit drugs in your suitcases and (as long as you’ve paid the airlines an overweight baggage fee which probably cost more than the drug’s street value) you may pass unmolested.

A red light means molestation, or at least a strip search. For a bike racer this means explaining why you have a bunch of baggies of powder (“ees recovery-o drink-o”), or if you’re a certain type of racer, trying to explain why your dog takes testosterone and EPO.

There is no yellow light. This seems a lost opportunity.

Francis (the names have been changed to keep me from getting pounded or sued) gets the red light. While we wait for the probe I watch a customs agent working a yellow Labrador and I ponder how fun it would be to break open a suitcase full of tennis balls.

Francis intact and a half hour of haggling over the rental van later (we opt for the full insurance at rates that would make a loan shark blush, though less than they originally wanted) we are on the road.

Present licenses at the convention center, pay $42, and we are handed two very durable numbers and are asked to return at 10 AM sharp the following day wearing a team jersey. And please go pick up a T-shirt on your way out. I wait for the “Cámara escondida” guy to come out. Nope, $42 for six days and a nice medium “T”.


Wow.


Check in at the hotel, assemble bikes, and in the fading light ride into town to get some food. We ride home in the dark, assuming our beaming smiles and bright personalities will prevent us from being run over, because we don’t have anything even resembling a light. This becomes more interesting as we leave the glow of the town proper, and depend on the occasional street or hotel light to illuminate our path.

Most worrisome are the “speed bumps”.

These are eight inch diameter steel half domes rising ten centimeters (I like to blend measurement systems) from the ground set 22.5 mm apart and bolted to the ground in a row across roads at somewhat random locations. Hitting one of these at speed on a bicycle would be like banging into a table leg with your knee at 30 MPH (or 48 km/hr). Bad outcome.

Very bad outcome. None of those soft gringo concrete humps down here.

We, the invincible, laugh at danger.

Tomorrow we race.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 06-09-14 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:46 PM   #2
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welcome to civilization.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:52 PM   #3
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Old 06-09-14, 05:56 PM   #4
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Old 06-09-14, 06:03 PM   #5
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¡Qué jodido!
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Old 06-09-14, 06:06 PM   #6
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Subscribed. After reading the first chapter this could be more epic than anything Homer had put to paper

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Old 06-09-14, 06:59 PM   #7
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stellar.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:40 PM   #8
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I hope you brung a fishin' pole.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:42 PM   #9
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¡Qué jodido!

Orale pues que vato tan loco!
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Old 06-09-14, 07:46 PM   #10
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Paying tribute to Gabo Marquez?

nicely done!
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Old 06-09-14, 07:54 PM   #11
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Hope you remembered your shoes.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:55 PM   #12
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Hope you remembered your shoes.
Shoes? He don't be needin' no stinkin' shoes.
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Old 06-09-14, 08:09 PM   #13
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Loafers... up!
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Old 06-09-14, 08:09 PM   #14
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Hey, my uh, dog has been moping lately. Can you swing by la farmacia before you come back? He's only 5kg, but needs like 16 courses for the next 5 years, so just get 5 courses for 80kg.
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Old 06-09-14, 09:08 PM   #15
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Tequila is the mother's milk of bike racing.
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Old 06-09-14, 09:10 PM   #16
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Who is the "we". You and Fast Feddie?
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Old 06-09-14, 09:45 PM   #17
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Old 06-09-14, 09:52 PM   #18
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Old 06-10-14, 09:35 AM   #19
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Chapter Two
Day two


A brief introduction of the primary characters is in order: Racer Ex, “Francis”, and “Hogan” comprise the official representation of what we will call Team America, and the entire contingent of, for lack of a better title, Team USA, or, as I like to describe us, “we” or we.

We arrive at the convention center 30 minutes late (this is foreshadowing, a literary device by which an author explains certain plot developments that may come later in the story) and after navigating up and down and around the massive convention center arrive in a large space packed with people (male and female) in spandex, men in suits, women in abbreviated outfits, a marching band, soldiers with guns, and three mascots wearing costumes that seem to be as relevant to a bike race as Twitter is to Gregorian chants.

We find seats and for the next 30 minutes are introduced to people whose accomplishments I can only imagine, mostly because, as noted, my Spanish consists of drinks and the bathroom. One tiny older lady with a camera is introduced with a long list of accolades including words even I can get the jist of…"Olympica", "champione", Etc. She’s gets a standing ovation, tears up, and gives what certainly sounds like an emotional and humble speech, or is telling us all to bite her. Again, there’s that limited vocabulary.

Mental note: Rosetta Stone will soon be receiving some of my money.

More introductions. Then we stand for the band as they play what I guessed to be the national anthem, though with most Mexican boxers walking in to the strains of a narcocorrido these days, I can’t be sure. They unfurl the flag and we sit. Talking ensues. We stand, sing, and salute again. I nudge Hogan to take off his hat. We sit. More talking. We stand and salute. They furl the flag. We sit.

I would imagine that a consultant doing comparative national anthem efficiency analysis vs. the US or most European Union countries would immediately advise that they cut the ceremony down to 3 minutes, take his $1000/hr fee and be drinking Herradura Reposado off some stripper’s belly an hour later. Me, I liked some national pride that isn’t on a bumper sticker.

We are not done though. We will now have the Sinaloa State song, with accompanying video. If before every Nets game New Jersey had a state song and a video, I imagine the Sinaloa Chamber of Commerce could make a tidy bit of money off licensing a translated version to Chris Christie. "We are number 1 in recapping tires in the country and we have very clean landfills!"

In a state where the big news recently was the capture of “El Chapo”, a narco boss who ran up a body count into the thousands, and was caught a few blocks from the last day's crit course, I guess I could see why you might want to downplay the excitement factor a bit, but they clearly went too far in the other direction.

The narcoleptic video was immediately offset by 10 scantily dressed hip-hop dancers who were anything but boring. Noting that English is spoken by far fewer people here than any of the other places I’ve been in Mexico, I’m guessing that the gangsta rap song they chose to dance to was for the beat, and they missed the meaning behind “I want to (expletive deleted) that (expletive deleted) in the (oh, so many expletives deleted)”. Children were present. Grandmothers as well. I cringed at exporting that little bit of US culture.

I did not cringe when one of the taller, scantily clad and now glistening with sweat dancers sat down in front of me. Some things transcend language.

Ceremony over, pictures are taken, group and individual, TT start times are checked, and after a stop at the market for supplies and a pre drive of the TT, which is a block from our hotel, we suit up.

It’s a 5km, point to point rolling course, with a nasty headwind. Coming into this I guessed I wouldn’t be all that competitive, and mostly figured I’d just have fun and do the domestique thing. I didn’t bother with a TT bike or aerobars, the competition is a mix of TT bikes, road bikes with aero bars, and my set up, which is a road bike and road helmet.

After a Spanglish discussion of the heat/humidity and “huevos” with one of the Mexican teams I jump into the starter’s box and head off in the IAB (Invisible Aerobar Position). 7:39 later it’s over, having nearly caught my minute man. This puts me in 4th of around 30 riders, 35 seconds off the lead. Later I would find someone made a boo-boo and added 10 seconds to my time (more foreshadowing). Francis slots in 10 seconds behind Hogan, who takes the yellow jersey. They brought TT bikes. We have 3 of the top 4 positions and the team lead.

I throw out my usual stage race discipline and have a half dozen beers that evening. It was hot. Rehydration is important.

Vuelta Ciclista Mazatlan- Stage One

TT
Max Race Temp 106
Finish: 4th
GC: 4th

Last edited by Racer Ex; 06-10-14 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 06-10-14, 09:43 AM   #20
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Damn, I love explicit gangsta rap.
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Old 06-10-14, 09:57 AM   #21
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Good stuff.
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Old 06-10-14, 09:57 AM   #22
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bravo
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Old 06-10-14, 10:10 AM   #23
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Sweet.
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Old 06-10-14, 11:19 AM   #24
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Well done, my Sombrero's off to you sir.
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Old 06-10-14, 11:23 AM   #25
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Good read so far.

As far as hiding the names, ehhh, you are aware that these results are all online correct?
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