Having survived the two leg-shattering climbs that The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine had so evilly planned for this women´s ride, the entourage was now flying fast on the downhill roads that led to the last and longest climb of the day, the not so steep but never ending climb to Barranco do Velho through Eira da Cevada.
Just like in Hollywood movies you can always find one, whenever a group of people go into adventure, in cycling packs there´s no difference and you can always find one guy or girl who is The Rookie. And in this particular ride there was also one lady who said to Velopata that in her entire year of 2016 she had ridden just about the same amount of kilometers Velopata usually rides in a month. Yet, unlike many guys Velopata knows, instead of comin´ up with excuses for not doing this ride, there she was, hammering those pedals and tryin´ to keep up always with a smile on her face and never, ever, giving up. By now the dearest reader already knows what that means to Velopata and that is two words; res and pect.
“C´mon girls! This is the final climb of the day!” – The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine shouted once more.
“There she goes at it again. Why does she keep screaming that?” – side by side with Velopata this was about the only complete sentence The Rookie was able to produce in between her grasping lungs.
“Seems she´s not lying this time. Truth is, this is the real final climb but even though it´s not too steep it´s a little bit long.” – Velopata answered.
“Look at it like this, if you´re already feeling drained when it starts then it´s better to call 911 and ask them to bring in the defibrillator. It´s that long.”.
“Damn… Now I´m having second thoughts on what I´ve signed up for in July”.
“What did you signed up for?”.
“The London Ride. But now I´m not too sure if I´ll survive it…”.
“But of course you will survive. It´s just a question whether you´ll survive faster or slower but nonetheless you just have to keep practicing! We´re still in February so that makes almost five months to get you fit enough to ride it.” – Velopata always contributing since he knew this girl was in need of motivation.
“You really think so?”.
“But of course. Anyone can do it. Don´t forget that back in England you don´t even have proper mountains, there´s just short, steep climbs pretty much like here in the Algarve, so you´re already in advantage with the rest of the competition.”.
“Yeah, guess you´re right about that.”.
“Velopata always speaks the truth. And as for your training you only have to change a couple of things.”.
“Really? Like what?” – her eyes were now lighted up at the idea of receiving advice from someone as wise as Velopata.
“Well… First, please don´t ride in a sleeveless jersey. It´s just disrespectful and most importantly, not aero at all.”.
She stared Velopata without smiling. Maybe, after all, Velopata was not that wise.
“Second, your bicycle.”.
“What´s wrong with my bike?”.
“For start, don´t say bike. If someone starts reading this post here, they´ll be thinking we´re talking about those two wheeled primitive vehicles who still need an engine for propulsion. You should always call it bicycle.”.
“Fair. But what about my bicycle?”.
“Yeah… Right… Well… Your bicycle´s got Scott written on the frame and everybody knows that the only people´s names that should be written on frames are italian ones. Them the only ones that make a bicycle look pro and have xuégue.”.
“Sorry, Velopata meant swag.”
“But this is a Foil. One of the best Scott´s frames, even world tour teams use it!”.
“Velopata has two very important issues with them; who the hell is this Scott? Anyone ever seen him, like Ernesto, Fausto or Edoardo? And more importantly; why call it a Foil, is it made of thin foil?”.
Velopata could swear there were thick and pointy blades filled with salt sticking out of her eyes behind her sunglasses. Then, the below happened;
“You´re criticizing Scott but the truth is I´ve never seen that brand of yours.”.
“Seriously you´re not considering taking this down to beautiful, marvelous and gorgeous Red Star.” – Velopata was shocked at her outrageous comment.
“BH… What does that even stand for?”.
“Well, in portuguese it means Bicicleta de Homem, which roughly translated would mean something like Man´s Bicycle. And you should know that you´re criticizing one of the oldest brands in the world with more than one hundred years of history and glory.”.
“Oh, ok. You´re one of them gerontophiliacs.”.
“Fzentnddfornereefmdffnqiqerj…” – Velopata moved up in the group making the sound Mrs. Velopata says to be Wacky Races´s Mutley-like whenever Velopata looses an argument. Which is basically every time.
The first slopes of the Barranco climb arrived and the pack started to scatter through the tarmac.
Cyclists are somehow, like microbes. They leave home alone with their bicycle or with a group of two or three more like minded lycra-wrapped wankers and for sure, at some point along the ride, the cyclist´s miracle of multiplication will occur. Where there were two or three guys will suddenly be five or six. The chinese are also known to be pretty good at this.
And so it was. From out of nowhere there was a new member in the pack, stuck between The Pounder´s wheel and Pantanivodka Girl, working in front. The only thing Velopata could notice was that whoever it was it was skinny as hell and rode a Specialithing, and those two combined can only mean one thing – there would be wankin´.
And it did. As soon as the road steeped up, the skinny-specialithing seemed to attack the front group. Feeling his man´s pride under assault, and since most of the shooting had already been done as the camera´s battery was already running extremely low, Velopata speeded up to catch the treacherous wheel of whoever it was, with the solo intent of showing that these were not some random batrachians and in fact, a proper cyclist was hidden in this entourage, thus making sure that any attacks would not go unpunished.
Velopata kept silent in this skinny-specialithing´s wheel until it finally reduced the pace, most likely, because the amazon-like women Velopata was riding with had already been shelled and left behind. Knowing this would be a good opportunity to show whoever it was what the words res and pect mean, Velopata attacked without looking back. He felt the skinny-specialithing tryin´to keep up but Velopata´s pace was just too much.
After a few seconds of showing off the power of Red Star along with his beautiful well tuned legs Velopata glanced back. Nothing could have prepared Velopata for what he was about to see.
The skinny-specialithing was in fact a little girl who didn´t even seem to be eighteen years of age. But there she was, right back at it, bridgin´ all the way to Velopata´s wheel who now felt nothing more than a a-hole by showing off his out-of-this-world cycling skills to… A skinny teenager girl.
Velopata kept a comfortable pace which didn´t seem hard at all for this little girl. They chatted a little bit, mostly about how St. Peter seemed to collaborate by making the weather not suck that day but there again was that strange feeling in Velopata´s gut. He felt as if he knew this teenager from somewhere, he just couldn´t locate her in the turmoil that goes around in his brain.
“Sorry about that back there. I didn´t spoke because I thought you were all british.” – the little teenager was justifying her attack, sort of.
“It´s ok, not all of us are british, there´s even a russian and a quarteirense in the pack.”.
Velopata and the teenager saw a already beaten down breathless guy slowly pedallin´ to Barranco do Velho on a B´Twin bicycle, it acted as a reminder that the girls were still at the back.
“Velopata should slow the pace. Most of them back there are batrachians so they won´t be arriving at the hilltop soon.”
“Batrachians?” – the teenager asked.
“Yeah, you know, batrachians, amphibians; people that not only ride bicycles but have the urge to do a swim prior and a run afterwards. They call themselves triathletes.”.
“Oh, I like triathlons too but now I´m more into track cycling.”.
As she said those last two words, the turmoil in Velopata´s head ceased. He knew this girl, she was Skinny Track Champ; Velopata had seen the news on bookface and all over the internet when she won some categories in portuguese national track championships.
Track cycling is weird. They have a whole bunch of different races, categories and competitions, like the Omnium, Scratch and Pursuit, that not even Velopata fully understands, as well as riding in circles always seems very hamsterish to Velopata.
Velopata couldn´t help but think this ride could have easily been named Champ´s ride; first he rode with The Great Batrachian and now Skinny Track Champ, never forgetting that some of the amazons left behind on this Barranco do Velho climb have also won some categories in their amphibian competitions.
Velopata and Skinny Track Champ approached the summit and the duo parted ways but not without Velopata cheering her once more on her remarkable cycling skills and giving her the best advice that from his magnificent expertise he could give; don´t dope and never, ever, use an engine.
It is said that in the rainbow´s end there is a pot of gold. Even though there wasn´t any rain this day what Velopata saw when he arrived at Barranco do Velho sure made him feel like he had arrived at it. Strength from all his insides was needed to avoid tears oh happiness and joy run out of his eyes.
If there is someone whom Velopata has not yet mentioned in the previous posts but surely was of extreme importance to this ride was Marco and his Tic Tac Bike Tour staff. Not only did they offered protection from tin cans with their huge tin can but what they had prepared for the entourage on the summit of Barranco do Velho´s climb was surely the best cycling pit stop Velopata has ever been on.
Cake. Water, juices and cake. All sorts of cake. There were even some pedestals upon which the beloved bicycles could be put on, resting. And cake. The cherry on top was undoubtedly a espresso machine, cyclist´s best buddy. And did Velopata mentioned cake?
For those who might not know yet, not only he is Velopata but he is also Cakepata.
One by one the warrior-like women arrived and the slaughter and carnage on that magnificent table followed. And for the first time in his life Velopata saw women charging on cakes without complaining about how their diets would be compromised although…. All of them had all sorts of more than one different bags attached to their bicycles; saddle bags, top tube bags, frame bags, seat bags, but it´s as the old saying goes; women will be women…
“Go ahead, eat some more cake!” – The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine told Velopata.
“He can´t. He´s already eaten too much and in the past he has put himself through misery, tears and horrors just to reach this power-to-weight-to-cadence-to-VO2max-to-somali ratio, he simply can´t throw it all away.”.
“You´re skinny as hell!” – they all shouted in perfect sync.
“When you cycle you´re supposed to get home with a calorie deficit, not a surplus!” – Velopata replied while grabbing another delicious and juicy apple cake that simply wouldn´t stop smiling at him.
“Is everyone here? Let´s take another group shot.” – Marco shouted over the noise of cake being munched.
“Hey, where´s Flat Lady?” – The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine was now worried that the evil course she planned had made some victims along the way.
As in queue, a smartphone ranged. It seemed Flat Lady had gotten… a flat tire.
Immediately Marco jumped into his huge Tic Tac Bike Tour´s tin can and went after Flat Lady. Unfortunately this would mean that Velopata would spend some more time with the now devastated cake table and as the dear reader knows, the will might be strong but the flesh is weak. Particularly when it comes to cake.
Minutes later Marco and Flat Lady arrived. Having pumped Flat Lady´s tires to the recommended Velopata´s tire pressure, the group photo was taken and it was time they´d get back on the road, much to The Rookie´s complaints;
“I don´t know if I can take it anymore. I´m just too tired…”.
“Sure you can. It´s all downhill from now on!” – The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine said, much to The Rookie´s suspicious glaze.
“I feel like I just wanna get in that truck and meet you at Quarteira.”.
“Please don´t do that. You´re disrespecting that Scott thing of yours and besides, The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine´s telling the truth, it´s all downhill from now on.”.
“You´ve been a Scout?”.
“Of course not.”.
While Velopata was still securing his camera to Red Star for the final needed shots for his video, the women launched themselves downhill and Velopata once again had to grind legs, teeth and carbon in order to catch up. And what a downhill ride it was, Velopata set one of his best times on this downhill and he couldn´t help but think that these women were, without any doubt, experiencing cake rush, otherwise how could they be so fast?
The pack was reunited on the Alportel road that leads to Loulé and since the fuel provided by the cake rush had probably been emptied on the downhill slopes of Barranco do Velho, the pace was once more a very comfortable one, which allowed for some more chatting. Except for Female Pro Wanker who was complaining that she was in dire need for a toilet break.
And what a toilet break it was. Literally (dearest reader, in order to fully understand what´s at stake here you´ll have to watch the third and final chapter of the video Velopata will upload this next friday on his bookface page).
Velopata has been well raised and educated by Daddy and Mommy Velopata so as the entourage entered the roads that lead to Loulé, where tin cans can always ruin a good mood, the pack knew they were better off riding in single line. The morning´s northern wind had been replaced by a somewhat harsher western one and so it was time Velopata worked in front, thus providing some cover for the amazons.
All alone in front, worrying about keeping a comfortable pace for the girls and watching out for any potholes and the likes, Velopata noticed that tin cans seemed to show a little bit more respect for female cyclists; which is just prejudice, since studies throughout Europe have shown that tin cans have less respect for cyclists if they feel these are experienced ones. Once more, human behavior at it´s best.
Arriving at Loulé there was still one final pit stop for a group photo. Indeed, if Truck Terror ever finds out about this ride Velopata took part, is he going to be pissed off for not being invited…
As the entourage entered city roads once again, the great weather St. Peter had brought made bar´s terraces and esplanades, as the great Zézé Camarinha would say, to be filled with families and more importantly men. As soon as these men saw a group of lycra-wrapped ladies, construction worker´s jokes followed only to be involved in confusion as they saw a bearded cyclist among them. Velopata´s pretty sure that one of the thoughts that crossed their minds was that maybe that Paquita or Conchita man/woman/thing that won last year´s European Song Festival had taken up cycling.
The entourage arrived at the filled streets with Carnival people in na Quarteira. The riding part was officially over and it was now time to refill batteries in a pizza place. As women got changed Velopata saw Zig Zag Lady showering with a couple of cold water bottles and, once more, he couldn´t help but think of how much of a wuss he is since he can only shower himself in hot boiling water. Even summer´s algarve´s sea temperature are freezing for him, but maybe that can be explained by the somali-like appearance and the lack of fat on his beautiful well tuned body.
“Hey Velopata, on which car do you want to place your bike while we eat?” – The Lean Mean Amphibian Machine asked Velopata.
“Sorry, put what?”.
“Oh yeah, I forgot… Your bicycle, where do you want to store it? Mine´s got no room but I believe Pantanivodka Girl´s jeep can take a second bicycle.”.
“You know, it´s very hard for Velopata to part ways with his beloved Red Star. Besides, we´re in na Quarteira”.
“And what is that supposed to mean?!?!?!”.
“Well, did you see those guys back there?”.
“I did but they were just kids disguised for Carnival.”.
“Velopata´s pretty sure they had a lot more than meets the eye.”.
“That´s just plain prejudice. You people from the rest of the Algarve always think that Quarteira is filled with bad people.”.
“Look at it like this, Velopata still has to ride back to Faro and if he sits down at a pizza place… Those nineteen kilometers will surely feel like a century ride or more. It´s best if he takes Red Star with him to the restaurant and just shoots whatever might be needed for the video finale and then off to Faro. Besides, he would never stop worrying for knowing that Red Star would be all alone out here.”.
The pizza place was filled with people who stared at Velopata, the only one in the pack still dressed as a cyclist since the amazons had already changed to civilian clothing. A small gap on a restaurant´s corner was more than enough to park Red Star and so Velopata was able to enjoy the warrior women and Tic Tac´s Marco company a little more.
Velopata went outside for a hand-rolled cigarette break. Seeing goofy kids in costumes and women with none or little clothing, since Portugal´s temperatures for Carnival are very similar to brazilian one´s, Velopata couldn´t help but smile until a male hiccuped voice was heard behind him;
“What are… (hic)… you disguised… (hic)… of?”.
Velopata turned around and there was a obviously drunk man staring at him.
“He´s disguised as the-one-whose-name-shall-not-be-spoken.”.
“And… (hic)… who the hell´s…(hic)… that?”.
“That guy who won the Tour de France seven times.”.
“Oh… (hic)… yeah… (hic)… I know, it´s them… (hic)… Louis Ham String… (hic)… guy, right?”.
“That´s… (hic)…. not a great disguise… (hic)…. though… (hic).”.
“You… (hic)… should have a needle… (hic)… strapped to… (hic)… you arm!”.
He laughed and went away while almost falling down the sidewalk two or three times.
Velopata went back to the pizza place where he bid farewell to this amazing group of people he had to pleasure to ride with, knowing that he liked this ride so much that very likely he´ll start joining Cíclicas on their group rides.
Back in Faro, as he arrived home, stored Red Star on her pedestal and (after all), showered, he sat back on the couch for a little nap, much to the amazed look on Mrs. Velopata´s face;
“Aren´t you gonna lock yourself up in the kitchen and eat everything that comes in your line-of-sight?”.
“No, not this time… His stomach is still filled with so much cake.”.
Keep them pedals turnin´,