1998 > Terrible Two > MikeS's Report

Terrible Two Double Century:
The Final Write-Up

(as related by Bikeaholics Multiple Addiction Disorder Coordinator Michael J. Schiff)

It was the week of the Terrible Two. There was no putting it off any longer. The day upon which this story takes place promised to be one of the most difficult days of the year.

Don't get me wrong. Long-distance athletic events don't necessarily trouble me. But over the last year, I had begun hanging out with the Bikeaholics, that endurance cycling team of myth and legend -- where completion of an event is only the beginning of the ordeal. By penalty of association, I was being dragged into some of the team's most arduous traditions. The Terrible Two Double Century stood at the apex of all challenges, enough to strike fear and terror into the heart of any sensible human being. Not that I have any claim to being sensible. But this was a challenge I certainly wasn't ready for.

So I prepared as best I could. My endurance training over the preceding months had comprised reading long volumes of fiction. Tolstoy's War and Peace. Joyce's Ulysses. The ten volume epic by Michel Proust. The Lewinsky Affair (as told by Bill Clinton's lawyers). I had checked my equipment with meticulous care; making sure batteries were fully charged and connections were in place. On the day of the event, my bottles were filled with a strong mixture of caffeine and carbohydrate. I shaved carefully, put on my good-luck jersey, and fitted my safety equipment carefully into place.

I was ready as I could be. Still, as the early morning 5:30 start time approached, my heart pounded with trepidation.

Dawn broke, and we were off! My equipment hummed to life, and began spinning at full speed in almost no time. The defining features of the Terrible Two this year promised to be four difficult climbs, along with the steep, twisting descents that follow. I was hoping to warm up without immediately going into hammer mode. But before I knew it, the challenges of the day started in earnest. The Terrible Two write-ups had already begun to fill my screen.

The first major ascent of the day was Ken's grade -- a Hollographic projection all about conquering the Terrible Two, written by a double century neophyte. It was barely 4 days since the ride, and our newest doublehead already had his wonderous ascendancy memorialized in Bikeaholic style prose. Ken waxed eloquent about the virtues of big cog sets. Three turns of the crank for every 5 inches of forward progress -- even more, when you're not going downhill. Definitely from Stella's fine school of conservative gearing. More importantly, there was a blow-by-blow description of what constitutes the most supreme challenge of the Terrible Two -- the battle for bragging rights and a year's business wardrobe at the finisher's jersey concession booth, back at Santa Rosa.

Next was Robertson's folly -- an endless series of half-baked claims and unlikely dietary extravagances. Armchair quarterbacks might otherwise think that the difficulty of the Terrible Two relates to vertical gain, along with tortuous means for achieving it. But according to Robertson, this really isn't so. Gremlins and trolls haunted him throughout the ride, disguised cleverly in the form of uncooperative traffic lights. Were it not for these conspiring implements of authoritarian excess (we are led to believe), the Haleckian event standard would have been obliterated into even more obliviousness than the oblivion to which it was ignominiously obliterated.

Ubermunchkin Craig dashed across the finish line with such rapidity that Drill Sergeant Ken considered revoking his Bikeaholic privileges. The ultimate objective of a proper Bikeaholic, after all, is to compete seriously for the Last-One-In-Before-The-Cutoff-Time Award. And it was to Ken's considerable embarrassment that the Bikeaholic name was being associated with anyone finishing in the top half of the field. Still, a worthwhile Bikeaholic milestone was reached, as Craig had finally managed to open a Coke on the day of a ride without spilling it all over himself.

It was at this juncture that I pulled into the rest stop for a well-deserved lunch. I propped my modem up against the wall, and hurried to gobble down a few quick snacks before the challenges of the afternoon. Cold cuts, melon, and killer potatoes, which had reportedly been breeding in some quiet subterranean cavern since last year. But no Cytomax for me. What I needed was a double Scotch.

After lunch is when the Terrible Two gets truly terrible. It often takes readers up to three hours longer to complete the second series of write-ups, if they finish at all.

The Lawrencean transformation -- a story written by the Bikeaholic minister of schizophrenia -- is a collection of steep moments of high optimism, intertwined with precipitous descents of pessimistic gloom. My spirits rose as Tom warmed up gradually and ran his Death-O-Meter off scale on Trinity. My spirits sank as Tom became cold, cloudy and miserable while making his way up the Napa valley. My spirits rose again as Tom zoomed up Geysers and consumed a Clif Shot. My spirits were dashed to the ground as Tom's seatpost spontaneously divided itself into small pieces. My spirits were propelled upwards when Tom stopped for lunch and borrowed a replacement seatpost. My spirits were crushed as Tom staggered into Gualala ready to quit. My spirits revived once more when Tom made his way up the coast in little bursts. My spirits fell precipitously as Tom battled the DNF demon while riding up Highway 1. My spirits once again rallied when Tom rode cautiously up Fort Ross climb, rewarding himself at the top with a Balance Bar. My spirits heard their death knell as Tom vowed to switch back to mountain biking, retiring from the double century scene once and for all. My spirits were resurrected yet again, phoenix-like from the dull gray ashes of abandoned doubles, as Tom crossed the finish line with a grin worthy of a Cheshire cat. And I knew at that moment that Commander Tom would ride again in yet another Terrible Two -- if only to treat his voracious readers once again to the emotional equivalent of Raging Waters' best flume ride.

There was a brief moment when we anticipated a far more grisly tale. Some idiot triathlete had apparently tried to ride the entire Double Century without eating anything all day. Fortunately, no one bothered to write down this version of the ride, which would have taken the ardors of the Terrible Two to new heights of incredulity.

There was only one major ascent left, but it was a doozey. Fort Antostraubnio Springs -- a double-summit climb with many false expectations and premature climaxes. It seems that the Bikeaholic's most famous duo, forever joined at the cross-tube, had undergone surgical scission so as to complete the Terrible Two on separate steeds. As an unexpected consequence, the stokerette had transmogrified into a traveling pack rat, while the normally mild-mannered morale officer had become enlisted in the marines.

It was at this moment in the deluge of race reports that the preeminence of the Bikeaholic writers-in-residence was confirmed. For who else could have conveyed the Sturm und Drang of the Terrible Two with such incomparable panache, such consumate prose, such breathtaking passion?

I cheered as the dynamic duo practiced their cycling skills in the motel pool. Race day began with such promise, as Lisa and Ken scoured every nook and cranny of the course for the obligatory Bikeaholic photo ops. But later on, things looked grim as the energy depletion wall pressed in, nutritionally balanced jellybeans notwithstanding. I cried when our faithful scribe found herself entirely alone at the base of Fort Ross, abandoned to the wolves and thieves of the night. Her companion had sped off in search of his own personal glory. But as it happens, glory forsook him. Some other rider snuck in just three minutes behind, and scoffed from his grasp the long-sought and much coveted Last-One-In-Before-The-Cutoff-Time Award. Our erstwhile Morale Officer became the moral casualty of his own story. The final and most thunderous ovation at the finish line was saved for Team Captain Lisa.

And so, I reached the end of the penultimate recounting of the Terrible Two Double Century. There was only one more write-up to go. It was this one, of course; the very write-up you're reading now; so highly irrelevant as to be hardly worthy of mention.

Exhausted but strangely content, I crept past the finish of the onslaught of stories just before the 10 p.m. deadline. Thereby earning by right that infamous T-shirt with the skull and cross-bones, which I will display with demented pride, in some suitable place. Such as in the back of my closet.

Inscribed beneath the bones (as everyone knows by now) is the following boastful caption:

5 write-ups
16,000 words
8 degrees*
* (but not one in English literature)



Schiff, J. Michael

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