I was visited by a ghost from the past today on my ride back from swimming. The ghost of Asshole Bob arose from the depths of bad memories and shook his chains at me like Jacob Marley. Asshole Bob was a man of dubious distinction (hence the nickname) who would mysteriously appear at group rides and then as mysteriously disappear. His name was rumored to be Bob, though I do not know if anybody actually knew if this was true. The rectal reference was added during a discussion at a post-ride coffee stop. I cannot remember the exact conversation, but someone was grousing about some guy who showed up to the previous weekend's century ride and complained about lawyers for 3 hours . Three people at the same time said, "That sounds like Asshole Bob!" And then was born the legend and the myth of this mighty man.
A-Bob (The hip-hop version of his name) was never seen by anyone during normal rides but only at organized rides that had free food and support. He was strong enough to not be dropped by all but the best riders, but desperate enough for company to slowdown or stop with any group helplessly trying to escape him Preceded by the squeaking of his beat up Cannondale he would appear suddenly from behind, pass his victim and then make some sort of caustic comment like, "with a bike like that you should be going much faster. If I had that bike I would be with the front pack." He would then emit an aura of profond pity for the pitiful boob, slow down and give helpful hints and riding tips until the poor schmuck was ready to ride into a telephone pole just to end his misery.
On one very long ride he attached himself like a parasite to our group and could not be shaken. Soon he started to suck the life, joy, and comaradery of our small pack. Where we usually maintained a collective effort to protect the group we soon were accelerating in an effort to drop the weaker members of our herd in a hope that he would stop and feast on them. All to no avail. I thought I could escape by pretending to be weak since he had ignored all the others who had fallen back. But, I had been chosen to be his victim. When I faked a cardiac arrest he offered to do CPR and before he could so, lo, I was miraculously cured and caught back on to the pack. I then faked an asthma attack so I could drop back and get away. But he stopped and offered me some special spray that was sure to heal my wheezing and open up my lungs. One look at his giant, crusted nose and, lo, I was miraculously cured again and got back in the safety of the group. I stopped a third time and pretended I had cramps but he stopped and said he was a certified masseuse. I replied that they were menstrual in nature and got back on my bike and miserably limped to the finish, all emotions sucked out of me as he droned on and on and on and on about....I cannot continue...I am still scarred.
At least one person saw something good within @$$hole Bob (I dislike most hip-hop names so I will replace a portion of the letters in his name with symbols which will hopefully disguise the naughty word enough to get it past the censors and guardians of good taste) and let issue from her loins his progeny, a rather good looking young man who, unfortunately, did inherit some of his father's tendencies. These two were often witnessed at the only other gatherings where Bob was ever seen, the bicycle swap meet. The bicycle swap meet is a place were worn out bikes and components that have been jealously guarded for years in the Sancto Sanctorum of the spare parts bin are finally, though regretfully, allowed to be passed on to other acolytes who will jealously guard them until they are passed on yet again. The fact that most of these parts will never be used and are what one would generously call crap, does not matter.
The son showed up at my spot where I was regretfully parting with years of accumulated treasures (hey, my stuff was never crap) stops and grabbed his radio. "Galactic One to Galactic Leader. Galactic One to Galactic Leader. Mavic bottom bracket at dirty table on west side of parking lot. Repeat, Mavic bottom bracket located on west side." Two minutes later Bob sauntered up in baggy shorts, dirty t-shirt, and, what was and still is possibly, the ugliest ball cap ever produced on this planet. He put down his bucket of goodies, picked up said bottom bracket and sniffed at the price. "$10? I can get these all day long for $5. I'll give you $2 since that is all it is worth." Considering the bottom bracket was brand new and retailed for much, much more, I laughed and told him what he could do with his $2 and all the $5 dollar items he could buy. He sniffed again and disappeared into the crowd, followed by his son, never to be seen by me again. "A*****e", I muttered under my breath.
Imagine my surprise and dismay when after 12 years, as I was riding home from my swim lesson, the ghost of @$$hole Bob arose to haunt me once more. I was cruising along at a very moderate pace when an guy wearing a pro teams' jersey, shorts, and very tall white gym socks passed me. As he went by he did not content himself with only a muttered, "Good afternoon." Oh no, he had to add, "Hey, let me give you a tip. If you want to get faster you need to push yourself." As tired and fragged as my legs were I immediately responded with a quick acceleration. I caught him, passed him, and dropped him. I felt that I had to put to rest the ghost of @$$hole Bob forever. He tried to hang on but as he started to drop I slowed down just to give him hope then pulled away again. He refused to talk to me at the next red light and when it turned green I let him get ahead by a little bit. Again I pulled him in, passed him, let him get on my wheel for a few pedal strokes and then dropped him again. But just before I dropped him for good I said, "Hey, do you feel faster now?" My moment of triumph in excorcizing myself of the ghost of @$$hole Bob was short lived when I saw what his eyes were saying, "You think you're funny, you Three Fingered A*****e." At that moment I realised to my horror that I had become the very monster I hoped to destroy. I had become Bob.
In the future, if anyone like today's, ahem, gentleman ride by and make a snide comment, I will humbly, yet regretfully, make no retaliatory comments, gestures or take action. Now, is the ghost of Bob finally put to rest. Requiescat in pace, Bob.