Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Biking to the 500: A Survivor's Tale

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 3:00 PM

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Editor's note: NUVO is celebrating all things bikes this week, including revisiting some classic posts like this bit of Hobbson hilarity, originally published in May of 2015. Find all our new cycling-related goodies here.

"Have lots of fun - but not too much fun. You are on a bike, so keep in mind you have to be able to get home. It is a pack mentality, but ultimately you are looking out for yourself. You are the only one that knows your limit and sometimes you come out a little hot and have to throttle it back. Be your own governor."
That is from my friend Shaun Souers, wrapping up his 78-step, 2 billion-word instructional email to me before we biked to the Indy 500. The whole thing is written in Wisdom and ugly memories of things gone sideways – the kind of email that wears Dockers pleated slacks and a giant Myrtle Beach Yacht Club t-shirt. It is DAD AS FUCK, yes, but for good reason. My buddies have ridden their bikes to & from the race for the last few years and have learned from their mistakes. Extenuating circumstances have prevented me from joining them (read: I am fat and wobbly while sober and sitting motionless in a chair, and also very lazy). This year I rode with them.

All in all, the bike trip is – and this is not an exaggeration – infinity kajillion times more fun than the race itself. It takes the single most wretched aspect of Race Day not named “the pee trough” and flippy-cups it onto its head, into the single best. No more 4-hour commutes in a 2,000-degree car! No more ischemic strokes of fury caused by awful gridlock! No more tossing death threats and McGriddle sandwiches at police-escorted motorcades breezing past at FUCK YOU MPH. No, it was the opposite of all that. It was a leisurely 10-mile ride divided into five different picturesque beer stops along the way, oh it is glorious indeed!! And here are a few of my recommended MUST HAVES for when all of you do it next year:

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Good Bike Seat

I don’t mean a good bike. Nobody cares about that. No, because for a 10-mile or whatever ride – especially if you are a sturdier fellow – you need a good seat. A comfortable seat. A PLUSH seat that doesn’t feel like you’re being sodomized by a goat hoof. The bike I rode had one of those awful, narrow, racy-type seats made out of titanium and 1/80000000th inch of leather that is basically a pretend seat designed to bruise and punish the bike racer for daring to sit down. Learn from me! My ass still looks like one of those Hubble telescope pictures of a galaxy being born :(((
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Portable Speaker

In its most basic form, the bike trip is a moving party. A wonderful, jorts-clad kegger wheeling right toward the world’s largest stationary party that is also a cookout/auto race, so why not let your dirtball flag fly and pump some tasty Journey tunes or maybe RATT on Pandora? Answer: THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO NOT DO THAT. The portable speaker is probably more important than a good seat, truth be told. Ass-bruises don’t last … but ripping a gnarly right-hand turn out of a quiet neighborhood onto a packed 16th Street with a sweet Eddie Money jam heavy in the air is FOREVER.

First-Aid Kit
This is self-explanatory. You WILL need it at some point, sadly. The basics will do, although Shaun goes the extra mile as he packs toilet paper and emergency Immodium. (Those miserable, door-less stalls of shame at the track have scared us good!)
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Bicycle Trailer

You know those carriage-type things we old folks pull our lazy kids around in?? The one that looks like a cozy paddy wagon? You will need one of those. More specifically, you need the most fit and able person in your group to lug one of those heavy bastards filled with everyone's coolers of Keystone Light and foodstuffs and shrooms, as well as your rain gear and assorted weaponry. It is a grueling task, I’m sure – but there is honor in it. And also free beer from everyone in the group. But not too much beer. Because you’ve got to…
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Keep Your Head

Make no mistake: this is the double-black diamond of drinking excursions. It is not for amateurs or stupid frat bros or meatheads lugging around handles of Jack. Because getting to your Indy 500 tailgate via bicycle is one thing; getting home the same way six hours later is an entirely different thing altogether. The race is not the endgame. It’s the beginning. This means sprinkling in some Gatorade once in a while to go with your gin-&-FourLokos or whatever. Mix in some food. Take a walk and get some air. KEEP IT ON A SLOW BURN AND KEEP RE-ASSESSING THE SITUATION. Because rain or shine or stirred from a drunken slumber, when the checkered flag drops, you’ve got 10-miles to go through a dangerous sea of impaired motorists and loose gravel and an alarmingly narrow path along a goddamn canal. I’m not saying you can’t have a bang-up time, because you most assuredly can. And you will! I’m just saying to “be your own governor." Get home safely. THEN you can fall asleep/pass out in front of the tv as the race telecast begins, just like always.
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Roy Hobbson

Roy Hobbson

Roy Hobbson writes about sports, fatherhood and sometimes nachos. He was responsible for the now-defunct IndyCar blog called The Silent Pagoda.

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