“You´re friggin´ annoying!” – she shouted.
“What? Why?” – Velopata was caught in shock as that sort of sentence would be expected if coming from Mrs. Velopata and not a complete stranger who, if anything, had only in common with Velopata the love of suffering uphill on the most beautiful human powered vehicle. Sorry, make that the most beautiful and only true vehicle there is – the bicycle.
“Here I am, my heart´s almost pounding out of my chest like in some Alien´s movie and you´re just there, not even breaking a sweat. You probably won´t even have to shower when this sufferfest ends!” – she explained.
“Oh but I´m hurting too, it´s just that… I´m hurting faster!” – Velopata answered with a smile on his face.
What she did not know was how much nervous Velopata was just a few hours earlier but let´s not skip stages or as we portuguese say; let´s not put the wagon in front of the horses.
Velopata woke early, no, earlier. He knew these women didn´t know him and the fact the he´s like Gandalf, The Grey, that arrives precisely when he needs to (or is needed), but since he was doing a video of their ride he really wanted to get there in time to shoot arrivals and greetings at the starting line. But as he woke, there was a strange feeling in Velopata´s gut, most likely, due to the savagery imposed on him the day before.
On the eve of this women´s ride Velopata had been tricked into a 200 km (sorry brits but according to Velominati law distances should be referred to in kilometers not miles or even feet besides, what kind of distance is that, feet!?!?), which included a climb to Fóia, the highest peak in the Algarve area. As always the plan was very simple but to make it more fun Mini Pro Wanker and Little Angel Hammer suggested that the entourage gave it a try on the road the pros of the Volta ao Algarve had done the week before. Now Velopata had seen this ascent on his TV which is not a yet a smart model and in fact the climb itself didn´t seem to harsh. Problem was, those two had a secret agenda and upon reaching the start of the climb they told the group they had a different plan and were now taking everyone on a new ascent known only by the bravest of cyclists (or stupidest, Velopata is still unsure), and as soon as he saw the turn and where they were heading, chills were immediately sent down Velopata´s spine.
Undoubtedly this was one of the most brutal roads Velopata has ever ridden. Or tried to because the speed at which he was going can hardly be called riding. A 9 kilometer undulating road where every 500 meters you would get 15%, 18% and at one occasion Velopata´s GPS even recorded a 22% incline, though those two villains responsible for this treachery said the GPS was probably having issues, much like Velopata does. These were not long climbs but sure as hell were enough to take both life and afterlife out of legs, lungs and heart. To get an ever better picture of what Velopata was put through, when this hellish road was finally over and the entourage reached the standard road to Fóia, the 4 and 5% inclines this road offers seemed like a rest… Not to mention the fact that on it´s steepest parts the back wheel skidded and the front wheel, upon grabbing the handlebars with both hands and teeth, lifted itself from the tarmac causing a pre-heart attack upon your dear hero.
So yeah, Velopata woke nervous that his legs had not properly recovered and worse, he could get his ass kicked by a bunch of ladies if he was unable to keep up. Worse than that, if his buddies ever found out about cycling ladies ass kicking Velopata… Well, it´s safe to say that everyone knows the humiliation Velopata would be put through in years to come.
After a supercharged breakfast plus coffee and a cigarette on his balcony he did what all cyclists methodically do as a pre-ride ritual. He paid a visit to his toilet but that gut feeling didn´t go away. “Maybe when the actual riding starts this will evolve into something nicer.”, Velopata thought.
And so it was. By the time the women were getting prep´d to leave Velopata arrived (on time yes!, but barely), on his shiny Red Star and legs, after all, were feeling just fine.
The entourage was not that big and most of the amazon-like women Velopata had previously met on his Évora adventure were absent. Still there were two or three ladies who inspired some ass whippin´ fear on Velopata but maybe, just maybe, women rode different than men, who pretty much all behave like wankers measuring who has the biggest carbon.
Greetings made, a couple of shots taken and the entourage was quickly on the road that would first take them to Germano Biciarte Café, first pit-stop of the day.
The first one Velopata got to chat a little bit with was Flat Lady, armed with a beautiful Cannondale Super Six Evo, which some may know is a Velopata-friendly bicycle. Yet Velopata couldn´t help but notice that her tire pressure seemed to be too low.
“Your tire pressure is low. You should check that when we stop.” – Velopata suggested.
“Oh no, it´s fine. It´s on purpose you know.”.
“How´s that on purpose?”.
“Well, I was told this was the best pressure to inflate tires to.”.
“And who the hell told you that?”.
“The other triathletes at my first competition in Lisbon.”.
“Okay, take my word on this, never trust a guy who says that he´s doing the bicycle part of a race. In fact, do not trust amphibians at all. Those guys know nothing about riding bicycles, if they did they would not say things like weight doesn´t matter and stuff. Believe me, your tire pressure is too damn low. It might be good for training and getting your legs strengthened but to Velopata that just seems masochistic. Even worse than turbo sessions”.
“Are you sure?” – how could she doubt Velopata´s remarkable experience?
“Well… You´re the triathlete, right?” – sarcasm; Velopata excels at this and knows this surely was the best way to start making friends with Flat Lady.
But before Velopata´s rant about triathletes could continue a sudden tap on his back was felt and a male voice followed;
“To someone who´s always writing that he is not a cyclist… You sure look like one.”.
“Yeah, but you´re forgetting one of the golden rules.” – Velopata´s experience has taught him to always have an answer at the tip of his tongue.
“Which rule´s that?”.
“Always look Pro.”.
The man laughed as he pedaled away to the front of the group, thus providing some cover from the northern wind to the women in front who fiercely battled it but Velopata´s brain was left in a crash thinking who could he be; a random fan maybe? One thing was for sure, he was not of this world especially when looking closer to his bicycle´s frame which had written Planet X and that reminded Velopata of a computer game he used to play when he was a teenager and a pre-velocipedic embryonic larvae; Invaders from Planet X.
The entourage took a left turn and Velopata´s brain had to be awakened. It seemed the event´s hostess had decided to take one of the roads Velopata rarely rides due to it´s poor tarmac conditions (if that thing covering the ground can be called tarmac), reminding Velopata how much of a wuss he is for avoiding cobbles and the likes and what King of Barranco once said; in a cobbled segment of 1 km he could give Velopata a 3 km advance. Of course Velopata made a mental note to complain to the hostess in what is already known as one of his usual rants; “With hundreds and thousands of kilometers of excellent tarmac, you had to choose this…”.
Eventually Velopata caught up with the entourage and while the Planet X Invader kept working in the front, Velopata got to sat up at the back and chat a little bit with another lady, one that looked like she could be Velopata´s grandmother if not for the titanium legs. At first Velopata was suspicious of this one, mainly because she rode a red Trek which is also the same W.L.D. used by Little Angel Hammer the day before (note that W.L.D. stands for Weapons of Leg Destruction), and she even brought those aero thingys strapped to the handlebars. But one thing was for sure. This was not some ordinary grandmother since what Velopata saw next made in shook his head in awe. As the day heated up she started changing both her leg and arm warmers and basically all her kit while still riding and that could only mean one thing to Velopata and that is… Respect. If Velopata even tried to remove and then put on just one of of his gloves while riding, by now, workers from Loulé´s Town Hall would still be scrappin´ bits and pieces of Velopata and his Red Star from the tarmac.
Another funny thing that Velopata noticed about this titanium-legged-hardcore-grandmother-cyclist was that on most climbs she started zigzagging on the road. She would lie down in the most aero position there could be and just pounded on those pedals. Knowing that pointing to people what they´re doing wrong is the most sympathetic way to make friends, Velopata proceeded next to her and explained that the best way to climb is to stand up straight as much as possible so that the gravity center moves a little backward and all weight stands on the back wheel. Obviously Velopata received a very yellow smile since Zig Zag Lady for sure had hundreds and thousands of kilometers done on her bicycle and now this weird, skinny and aero-ear lobed guy came to explain her what riding a bicycle actually is.
The entourage left the Roubaix-like road and the first real climb of the day ensued. Feeling some strange call from Planet X, it´s invader moved up the road. Taking advantage of this Velopata took the chance to move up to the event´s hostess side which seemed familiar with the guy.
“You don´t know?” – she replied in awe.
“It´s like he knows Velopata but with all the lycra, sunglasses and helmets, basically everyone looks the same although Velopata believes he might know him from bookface.”.
“Uau, you mean The Great Batrachian?”.
“Yep.” – she nodded.
“Then it´s as Velopata suspected. He is not from this world.”.
“Nothing. Velopata was just thinking out loud.”.
This was an honor. To be pedalin´ alongside The Great Batrachian was not for faint of heart and since the group was going uphill and Velopata had already captured the needed footage of the warrior-like women pounding on those pedals, Velopata speeded up to The Great Batrachian´s wheel up in the road.
“Sorry about that back there!”.
“About what?” – he failed to understand.
“Well, first for not recognizing you and also for the triathletes bit.”.
“What triathletes bit?”.
As Velopata and The Great Batrachian approached the summit light was shed into Velopata´s brain about another golden rule of cycling;
“Listen, since Velopata is in fact a cyclist and you´re an amphibian, he can´t let you reach the top of the hill first. It´s nothing personal but principles and rules exist for a reason.”.
“Couldn´t agree more.” – he replied.
Velopata and his big, though beautiful, mouth. As soon as the chatting was over The Great Batrachian shelled Velopata who was left bloodless, lifeless and splattered all over the tarmac. The only positive aspect was that at least the women were so far back they had not seen this ass-whoopin´ and so Velopata´s pride was, sort of, left intact.
One by one the women arrived at the top and a long downhill followed. Stopping to film as they passed by, Velopata then proceeded downhill too, just to realize that if these amazons were not a threat to his man´s pride when it came to riding uphill, downhill was a far different story. Velopata had to work his ass off, grinding legs, teeth and carbon to catch up with the group.
The next climb began and Velopata was able to catch up with another woman whom he was also suspicious about since her weapon of choice was one of those unnaturally aero-looking Cérvelo bicycles and, according to Velopata´s rules, bicycle tubes should be round and need curves, pretty much like a women´s body. Not those angular and edgy things Cérvelo and many other brands call tubes which, upon crashing, Velopata believes can even chop one your appendices given their arrow-like shape.
This woman was funny even though she did not smiled a bit when Velopata pointed the camera at her, no, she was more focused on dishing out lashes of pain upon her legs, after all she seemed like one of the few that could kick Velopata´s sorry ass on any given day. She was all dressed in portuguese team kit and Velopata could swear he has seen this lady shredding out guys´s legs in one or two races back in the day when he (supposedly), raced. She was like a female version of all the wankers in the men´s amateur peloton, something Velopata knows to be like a UFO, everyone has heard about but very rarely seen. Therefore she was to be known as Female Pro Wanker, mostly because she was forgetting another golden rule of cycling – team kit is for team members.
The climb ended with the entourage scattered along the road. Another fast-paced downhill came and the group was able to reunite just shortly before the first rest bite at Germano Biciarte Café in Alte.
As usual, the amazingly nice couple behind Germano´s greeted the entourage and very quickly started serving coffee and their marvelous Sunday golden slices. And also as usual, after charging on a bucket of coffee and one of those delicious slices, Velopata moved away from the group in order to recharge… His lungs. With a nice hand-rolled cigarette.
Immediately after lighting the thing Female Pro Wanker and The Great Batrachian looked at Velopata with clear disgust in their eyes and critics ensued.
Want to know what they said to Velopata and, more importantly, what he answered?
Guess you´ll have to press “Like” and keep an eye on Velopata´s blog and don´t forget that tomorrow, Friday, the 10th of March, around lunch time, the first part of the video companion´s trilogy to this post will go online but until then…
Keep them pedals turnin´,