Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 2017 Tour de Franzia

I'm not quite sure where to start, but mistakes were made...

I suppose it started Saturday when after a long day of Jell-O shots at the pool I made my first miscalculation. I decided that with enough Adderall I could power through the night and make it out to the bars. And in fairness to the amphetamines, they worked. I came out of a black out in the Pacific Ocean with three young women and myself in our underwear.

I probably still could have salvaged my Sunday had I not awoken and immediately gone to a boozy brunch. This was mistake two, and then of course mistake three was drinking eight beers at aforementioned brunch to stave off the looming hangover.

This completes the prologue, because as I finished my eighth Budweiser I received the text:

"Meet at Whaler in 10 minutes; Tour de Franzia."

Now if you aren't familiar with the general idea of a Tour de Franzia, I don't blame you. I wasn't to keen on it either. In college it had been a lazy theme party idea during Little 5 week in which you dress in cycling gear and drink cheap wine. There may have been sort of racing element to it. In practice it makes much more sense to actually participate in some cycling.

For our purposes, the four participants decided that we would purchase a box of wine at the Marina Del Rey Ralphs, ride our bikes to Manhattan Beach and back and finish the wine.

A standard issue box of Franzia advertises that it includes 34 full glasses of wine, which would roughly equate to 8 glasses per person. We figured that for a holiday weekend this didn't present enough of a challenge, so we picked up a bottle of Fireball for good measure.

The framing device we landed on were the beach bathrooms. Between the Marina Del Rey bridge and the Manhattan Beach Pier there are nine bathroom huts. At each bathroom hut we would all stop and take a 'gulp' (scientific measurement) of wine. On every 3rd stop, we would also take a shot of Fireball. This would equate to 18 gulps of wine, 6 shots, 22 miles to complete the South Bay Tour de Franzia. Spoiler Alert: We would not all finish.

(I will lastly leave you with this bit of information that I am an experienced cylist. In fact, when I won my age division at the Playa Del Rey sprint triathlon I was compensated with a free water bottle, so on the most lenient definition, one could call me a professional.)

We crossed the bridge, a physical and metaphorical gateway to the South Bay and I was feeling good. So good in fact that when we got to the first station I demanded that we kick things off with a bonus shot of Fireball 'just for fun.' It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. We were listening to Girl Talk and I was convinced that I would never be happier. I blew up social media with photos of our blatant disregard for the law and safety, I recorded videos while riding, I laughed at the suggestion that I wear a helmet. The next 3 stations we all took heavy gulps of wine. I should point out that for some god forsaken reason, we chose Merlot.

The next five stations flew by. Parents shielded their children from us, foreigners gave us high fives, at least one woman loudly asked 'Are you guys drunk?'

Yes mam, in fact quite drunk.

I noticed as our alcohol intake increased, my ability to ride a straight line decreased at an exponential rate, but again, as a professional cyclist, I was not worried. We made it down to Shellbacks in about an hour and a half. Like reaching the turn on a golf outing we decided to reward ourselves with a couple pitchers but also gave ourselves some time to relax, regain our energy, but unfortunately also to let the alcohol from the first half of our tour sink in,

By the time I got back on my bike after the bar I knew something was wrong. My pace was slower, my path more erratic. Instead of looking forward to the bathroom wine stops, I started dreading them. My 'gulps' of wine became mere tastings, my shots of Fireball mere sips. Around stop 12 it happened.

My first fall.

Now I do not want to compare myself to Jesus of Nazareth or the stations of the cross, but I should warn you that I fell two more times, each time spreading more and more collateral damage. Every member of my four person army bares physical wounds from my wanton incompetence on the trail that day, but I'm fairly sure the breaking point was when I ran head into a stranger, taking us both tumbling to the ground. This is the point that the situation changed from a drunken laugh to a borderline crime. And like a cyclist that initiates a large wreck on the actual Tour de France, I was notified that I had been disqualified.

I sat in the sand, just north of El Segundo on a patch of Dockweiller Beach feeling extreme shame. How the fuck would I get home? What about my bike? Surely I'm not the first person to ride down to the South Bay and get so drunk I couldn't make it back. I could just lock it up and retrieve my bike the following day.

But then I remembered that I had drunkenly dropped my lock in the ocean the previous week. I called a Lyft and my friends took turns riding alongside my bicycle balancing it with an arm, the remaining 7 miles.

I woke up on the floor of my apartment Monday morning with a catastrophic hangover. My cat that usually chooses to sleep outside had cuddled next to me, likely because it felt that I was on the verge of death and didn't want me to die alone.

But this story has a happy ending. Tuesday morning when I woke up, I was largely recovered from my illness. My bike, phone, wallet and keys were in my possession and I was even able to head to the beach, have a few cold ones and enjoy some fireworks on America's birthday.

If there are any lessons to take away from this, it's that just like one wouldn't run 10 miles before participating in a marathon, it is unwise to pregame a Tour de Franzia. But if you are going to make that mistake, make sure your friends are absolute homies. And a big shout out to Rob Bowman on winning this year's your and earning the yellow bro tank.

I didn't finish the 2017 Tour de Franzia, but now I have something to build toward for next year.

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