Cíclicas, Part II: The Two Climbs

Following the motto of becoming one with both bicycle and tarmac, Velopata was smoking a hand-rolled cigarette so that his lungs could literally follow the above mentioned idea. Female Pro Wanker and The Great Batrachian were shocked and glazed Velopata with piercing eyes which made him feel even worse for his dreadful vice.

“That´s just disgusting. And gross. And stupid. ” – Female Pro Wanker said.

“That´s what I don´t get. It just seems wrong.” – The Great Batrachian added.

“Velopata has two words for you; The Prophet.”.

“Who?” – Female Pro Wanker and The Great Batrachian replied in perfect sync.

“If the bicycle is the only and true deity there is then Eddy Merckx is The Prophet. Velopata´s pretty sure that even you amphibian-like people have to agree on this.”.

“What´s that got to do with your horrible addiction?” – the eyebrows of Female Pro Wanker were so arched that Velopata knew she wasn´t buying any of it.

“Well, look at The Prophet´s resume. He won every cycling race there is to be won. While smoking a pack a day.”.

“Let me guess, next you´re gonna tell me that to protect your man parts you use a steak between the saddle and your junk like back in the days…” – she chuckled.

“Yes, Velopata knows, back in the day when wheels were still square-shaped and carbon had not been invented, cyclists did a lot of crazy things. But that doesn´t change the fact that The Prophet was the greatest and even endorsed by a tobacco company.”.

“That´s no excuse.” – added The Great Batrachian.

“Agreed. No one should ever use meat for any kind of purpose.” – Velopata skillfully replied.

“What have you got against meat?!?!” – Female Pro Wanker almost dropped her bicycle.

“Nothing really, it´s just that Velopata doesn´t eat his friends.”.

“So you´re a cyclist, a vegetarian and… A smoker? That makes a lot of sense…” – Female Pro Wanker appeared shocked to her bones.

If you ever get close to a human, and human behavior, be ready, be ready to get confused…” – Velopata sang in his beautiful voice as he exhaled the last cigarette smoke.

“What?” – Female Pro Wanker was caught off guard, maybe it was the song line in itself or Velopata´s amazing voice that sounded like glass being shredded. Or a cat being skinned alive as Mrs. Velopata pointed in past times.

“Bjork´s song, Human Behavior. Remarkable women, singer, songwriter and stuff.” – Velopata replied.

“You´re changing the subject.” – The Great Batrachian was right back at it. “Just because the pros do it… Doesn´t mean you should do it too, right?”.

“Now you´re talking about the-one-whose-name-should-not-be-spoken. I see were you´re getting.”.

“Exactly.” – he winked at Velopata and truth was that against The Great Batrachian facts there could be no Velopata arguments.

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Golden slices and coffee flying in Germano´s while Velopata followed in The Prophet´s steps.

The trio headed back to Germano and Velopata proceeded to check on the rest of the course with the event´s hostess;

“So where are we going now?”.

“Well, we will now leave Alte through the Soidos climb and then follow the road that goes to Malhão but instead we´ll take a right turn then head to the Freixo climb.”.

“Sorry, we´ll leave Alte through were? For a moment Velopata thought he had listened Soidos.”.

“That´s what I said, we´ll do Soidos climb now.”.

“For real?”.

“What´s wrong with Soidos?”.

“Nothing… It´s just that Velopata believed this was going to be a pedal in the park. Now he thinks you´re being mean by adding Soidos to the route.”.

“And Freixo. Don´t forget the Freixo climb.” – she added with what Velopata could now perceive as a sadistic smile.

“You´re being evil.”.

“No, I´m not and besides, it will be more harder for us than it is for you. You probably won´t even break a sweat. As for me… Well, I will probably have to dismount on Soidos.”.

“Please don´t do that.” – Velopata pledged.

“Do what?”.

“Dismount. Or at least have the decency not to do it in front of Velopata.”.

“Why´s that?”.

“Rules and principles; one should never dismount. It shows you have little or no respect for the Ancients who sit atop Mount Velomis… And Velopata will not even mention the disregard you´ll be showing for your bicycle and the climb itself. “.

“Yes but those rules are for cyclists. You´re forgetting that I am what you call an amphibian, right?” – she winked at Velopata with a smile, giving him a taste of his own medicine.

“That´s it then.” – Velopata had enough.

“That´s what?”.

“You´ll be The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine.”.

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The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine and her maniacal, sadistical and purely evil smile.

 

Golden slices and coffee had flown and the women were getting prep´d to leave. One last group shot was taken, which included the always awesome manager of Germano´s Pedro, and while Velopata was still securing his camera to the bicycle… They left. Since it was basically a flat section until reaching the Soidos climb and The Great Batrachian was working in the group´s front, once again, an interval of teeth, legs and carbon grinding waited Velopata in order to catch up with the entourage.

 

The Soidos were already making the first victims when Velopata caught the ever smaller group in front. Side by side with The Great Batrachian, the following ensued;

“You´re always ranting about triathletes but one day I´d like to see you try a triathlon.” – it´s a funny thing these amphibians do, they´re always trying to convince others to try their sport, kinda like Jehovah´s witnesses.

“That would not make any sense to Velopata.”.

“How come?”.

“The velominati code. He can only swim to prevent drowning and can only run if he´s being chased and a bicycle´s not around.”.

“You´re being a fundamentalist.”.

“Okay, then look at it like this; if Velopata already sucks at one sport, why would he need to suck at two more?”.

“Still, you could give it a try, maybe you´ll like it.” – The Great Batrachian insisted.

“Yeah, that day is already pinned on the calendar.”.

“Really?!?! When´s that?” – a smile lighted the champion´s face.

“Saint Never´s day.”.

As one of the two atrocious curves that point the start of the Soidos climb appeared on the horizon, The Great Batrachian said that his training was done for the day and it was time to head back to his amphibian headquarters. With his cheers and blessings the group proceeded to the climb as he disappeared on the road behind.

“See?” – Velopata told Flat Lady.

“See what?” – she replied, not fully understanding where Velopata was going.

“Them batrachian friends of yours. When the going gets tough as you´ll see, they jump right out.”.

“Is this climb that harder?” – Velopata could sense fear on her carbon.

“No. It´s worse.”.

The real climbing ensued and one by one the entourage scattered through the nasty Soidos climb. But what Velopata did not know was that what he was about to see next would leave him scared for the rest of cycling life.

Velopata remembered seeing her when he first met these women on his Évora adventure. With her baby-angel-like face, the first question that went through Velopata´s mind was if she, in fact, was eighteen years of old, ´cause she sure didn´t seemed like it. A funny accent made Velopata realize that she was a outside foreigner, most likely Russia or Ukraine, since it reminded Velopata of a dear friend from his former team, Popcorn Baker.

On the first downhill slopes of this ride, even before Germano´s pit-stop, Velopata noticed that she never took her hands off the hoods, which is a huge mistake cyclists do when riding downhill at speeds over 60 km/h. On the last descent to Alte, Velopata pedaled to her side and signaled that hands should be on the drops. For a brief moment she did just that, increasing her bicycle´s speed and stability. Seconds later, there she was at it again, riding downhill with hands on the hoods.

During the pit-stop at Germano´s, Velopata decided he had to know her better and the best way, as always, was to preach her velominati rules implying she wasn´t riding her bicycle properly;

“What´s with you and the drops?” – Velopata asked.

“I don´t like riding on the drops, I feel like I´m overstretched.”.

Velopata inspected her machine. She was riding what is known to be a not-so-friendly Velopata brand, that german Canyon thingy which, Velopata believes, someone should make a study upon since it´s the brand that most hardcore wankers in the men´s amateur peloton choose as their Weapon of Leg Destruction and therefore there has to be some sort of connection there.

“Uhm…. I believe the problem is your bicycle.” – Velopata continued while stroking his beautiful beard and inspecting her bicycle.

“How come?” – she glanced at her bicycle with eyes wide open, not believing that could just be the issue.

“It´s german. Germans may be specialists in many things like working with gas, building large ovens, organizing and managing holiday summer camps, having great barbecues and even enslaving other countries in debt but who told them they could build good bicycles?!?!”.

“Are you sure that´s the problem?” – she was now starting to suspect Velopata.

“Yes and no. Probably it´s just your levers. They´re too high.”.

“I can fix that right now if you want me to.” – the always super-friendly Pedro from Germano´s jumped right in.

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Germano´s manager Pedro and the amazons. Lucky guy.

Whit a little tool´s help Pedro fixed her bicycle´s handlebar position, reminding Velopata how important it is for us cyclists to nurture this cool place where you can eat fabulous golden slices, marvelous sandwiches, cake and at the same time have your bicycle fixed. As she checked her positioning Velopata couldn´t help but smile;

“Much better now right? Now you can kick ass when downhill as well.”.

“For sure!” – her face was now lighted with a baby-angel smile.

“One thing though.”.

“What?”.

“Your parents.”.

“What about them?”.

“Hope they don´t mind us poking around on your bicycle.”.

“What´s that got to do with anything?” – she wasn´t fully understanding where Velopata was headed.

“Well…. Uhm… I mean… You´re under eighteen, right? You probably had to bring a responsibility term signed by your parents to do this ride.”.

“You friggin´ kidding me? I´m gonna be thirty-two in two weeks from now!”.

Velopata and his amazing jackassness skills. Mrs. Velopata keeps telling him to keep his mouth shut but the guy just won´t learn.

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Pantanivodka Girl. Same facial expression no matter what you put her through.

Fast forward to the Soidos climb and the image that will be forever carved on Velopata´s mind.

If the dear reader has ever picked (if you haven´t you should), a bicycle and done the Soidos climb, for sure knows the two dreadful curves Velopata´s writing about. Particularly the second one. Velopata has never met a cyclist who, upon looking at it, decides to have a go at it through the inside. All cyclist know that in order to survive that curve, it needs to be made through it´s outside.

The most dear reader can imagine Velopata´s shock when he saw the russian-baby-angel-face-almost-thirty-two-woman doing this climb through it´s steepest inside and behold, while holding on the drops! There was no doubt in Velopata´s mind, she was to be forever known as Pantanivodka Girl.

One by one the entourage pounded through this leg-draining climb only to hear someone scream at the back that the faster ones should wait in order to regroup. As for The Lean Mean Batrachian Machine, Velopata didn´t even looked back to see if she had ever shamefully dismounted.

The group halted at a beautiful spot where a couple more pictures with the most amazing view of the algarve´s leg breaking landscape were taken, only to remind Velopata of another former teammate, Truck Terror, whose rides are not measured in kilometers per hour but in number of photos taken per hour.

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Warrior women and the beautiful leg-breaking and comatose-inducing Algarve´s landscape.

After a fast paced downhill, the entourage arrived at one of the trickiest climbs know to Velopata. It´s a very short climb but in truth, no one ever notices how steep it is until it´s too late. And once again the group scattered through the road and upon arriving at the summit, the faster ones halted, waiting for the rest of the pack. Velopata couldn´t help but think once more of Truck Terror and how much he would´ve loved this ride. And that women truly ride in a different fashion than men who are always wankin´ and trying to get partners shelled whereas women like to encourage each other and are all about sticking together.

The entourage then proceeded to a long flat section and since The Great Batrachian had left it was now time for Velopata to be a gentleman and work in the front of the group, providing some cover from the wind to these amazon-like women.

Keeping a high pace on a small hilltop, Velopata looked over his shoulder to see if they were keeping up. Obviously what was a high, but comfortable pace for Velopata, was surely a leg-draining sufferfest for these ladies and only Pantanivodka Girl was being able to keep up. In the most funniest of ways because whereas the rest of the group were scorching themselves by trying to, Pantanivodka Girl kept on Velopata´s wheel with that cool calm and low cadence in which she rides, almost as if… it was too easy for her. In fact, now that Velopata looks back, he believes that even during the Soidos climb, when everybody was hurting legs and shredding carbon, Pantanivodka Girl always kept her cool. You really couldn´t tell since her face remains in the same angel-baby-russian-under-eighteen-but-almost-thirty-two kind of way throughout the whole ride.

Being triathletes, Velopata expected that with a distance of 80 kilometers into the ride, some women were beginning to feel drained. So it came as no surprise that this smooth uphill had made some victims. The front group arrived at a crossroad where to the left they would meet the dreaded Alto do Malhão.

“I believe we should go right here. That left road will take us to Malhão.” – Velopata told the hardcore ladies.

“I like Maláo.” – one of the ladies whom Velopata hasn´t spoken of replied.

“You like what?”.

“Maláo. Isn´t that the place´s name?”.

It´s always darn funny to hear outside foreigners speak portuguese native names with their accents.

“You know that were we´re headed it´s not going to be a picnic either.”.

“Really? I´d rather do Maláo than that horrible Xóidus we did back there!”.

“For sure? I mean Malhão is a pretty nasty climb and much longer than Soidos.”.

“Yeah… Well…. Maybe I´m forgetting how horrible it is.”.

Cyclists. Doesn´t matter whether your male or female, no one will ever fully understand what drives these people to get up in the morning and then proceed to voluntarily induce horrible pain upon your body. Like this woman who, besides calling Velopata annoying in the first part of this trilogy, now was saying that she would rather suffer through those seizure-inducing steep walls of Malhão than the small 1.5 kilometers of the leg-shredding Soidos. Who can blame her? Velopata surely can´t.

Maybe it was her Giant bicycle, again a Velopata-friendly brand, or maybe it was her pedal stroke, which was by far the most pounding pedal stroke Velopata has ever seen. Even Froomster would be ashamed if he saw that. She really stepped on those pedals as hardly as she could, therefore there was no doubt as to which nickname Velopata would baptize her with – The Pounder. She reminded Velopata of another brit lady which Velopata had the pleasure to ride (instead of riding it should read, getting shelled by), during one of Altimetria´s long gone races, Faro-Fóia. One Crank Lady was her name and legend has it that she broke one of her bicycle´s cranks and instead of quitting, no. She did Alto da Picota´s nasty 3 kilometer climb with it´s 13% incline on just one crank. Kudos to that!

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The Pounder. Always smilin´ and poundin´.

A united pack arrived at the first slopes of the leg-draining, gear-shredding and lung-failure inducing Freixo climb, with it´s lousy tarmac where potholes lurk everywhere. Victims ensued and as Velopata was moving forward to the front of the group, he heard The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine screaming words of motivation;

“C´mon girls! This is the last climb!”.

“Now that´s just pure and simple evil.” – Velopata told her.

“Sssshhh… Don´t tell them. It´s better this way.” – she winked at Velopata, surely hoping that Velopata would assist her in the misery she was putting others through.

“She´s right, you know!” – Velopata shouted. He could hear the sighs of relief in the amazon-like women before he continued; “This is the last climb… At least until the next one!” – Velopata laughed alone since no one else did.

As The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine pierced Velopata with what he could swear were aluminium arrows with salt on their tips shooting from her eyes, Velopata moved to the front, passing Zig Zag Lady, already zigzagging on the road, to catch up with The Pounder, who kept pounding those pedals like she was stepping on her worst enemy. With her was the amazingly, once again never letting any sign of stress pour out, Pantanivodka Girl.

As soon as Velopata hit the front, The Pounder shouted;

“There he goes again… All annoying and stuff!”.

“It´s a secret Velopata has, you know.”.

“What secret?” – The Pounder and Pantanivodka Girl shrieked in sync.

“Cigarettes. And a carbon lighter.”.

The Freixo climb came to an end and the survivors gathered upon it´s summit only to have some more pictures taken. Geez, Truck Terror would´ve really loved this ride!

Next followed a fast downhill and the truly final climb of the day, which for some of the women´s misery was the longest one, arrived.

But that, dear reader, will be next´s weeks story since Velopata is still amazed by what he saw, both during the climb and at the end of it. A little head´s up; to Velopata it felt like the golden pot at the end of the most beautiful rainbow.

Don´t forget that this next Friday, the second installment of Velopata´s video trilogy will go online, so be sure to check out Velopata´s bookface page.

 

Keep them pedals turnin´,

Velopata

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