Pedaling Across the Atlantic: II

  • Home
  • Pedaling Across the Atlantic: II
7 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Aboard the USS [CENSORED] August [CENSORED] 2003:

Dear Members of the New York Cycle Club.

Well, there I was bicycling across the Atlantic on my Colnago, which is rigged up to some paddle wheels on a catamaran, drafting my own sail and moving at a speed of…well, that’s a problem. I couldn’t tell how fast I was going, because although my bicycle computer counts wheel revolutions to determine speed in miles per hour, ocean speeds are determined in knots.

A knot has to do with how much water passes by a ship at what speed. The problem is, a knot measures not only traveler's speed, but also takes into account the speed and direction of water currents. Like, you could be doing 20 knots an hour and at the same time travel either 5 miles or 40 miles of distance, depending on currents.

So anyway, I have no idea how fast I was really going, although my cycle computer kept telling me I was crossing the ocean pretty much at a B16, thanks to a steady cadence of 82 rpm, wide range gearing, gentle seas and prevailing winds.

Anyway, there I was burning my quads in the sunshine when all of a sudden I heard this enormously loud horn tooting behind me. Believe me, it scared the kaposhkas off me, especially when I looked over my shoulder, and saw this humongous [CENSORED]ship bearing down on me.

It was the USS[CENSORED], heading across the Atlantic on a top secret military mission to [CENSORED] where they’re expecting another battle, and preparing to shell the living Shinola out of [CENSORED] on the orders of Defense Secretary [CENSORED].

Well, I did what you’re supposed to do when you’re on a bicycle and ] traffic behind you such as other bicycles, automobiles, buses or [CENSORED]ships is bearing down on you. I pointed my palm backwards and downwards and yelled “Stopping!”

The humongous [CENSORED]ship swerved to avoid hitting me, although I was nearly swamped by the wake it kicked up. Next thing I knew, they were “rescuing” me.

The skipper, Admiral [CENSORED] didn’t even ask if I wanted help. He sent a helicopter off the deck of his [CENSORED] which lowered a grappling hook, pulling me, my bike-rigged catamaran, and everything I had with me out of the ocean, and up into the sky. A little later I was on the deck of the USS[CENSORED] and the Admiral and I were staring at each other, cycling sunglasses to aviator sunglasses, NYCC jersey to Navy Whites..

“Where’re you goin’ kid and who [CENSORED]ed up the Statue of Liberty’s head with that goofy civilian helmet?” the Admiral asked. So I told him about my plans and about the New York Cycle Club. He looked at me dubiously, and the next minute a couple of armed sailors had me face to the wall and were frisking me for weapons and explosives. They even did a security check on me and then made me show them my U.S. passport because they were suspicious of my Montenegrin accent, but in the end they decided I was harmless and gave me a bunk in the seamen’s quarters.

Next morning, they fed me a breakfast of something called SOS. That stands for “[CENSORED] On A Shingle,” which is evidently a military term for creamed chipped beef on toast. Man, I’m telling you, it’s not only filling, but could also generate enough gas to jet power your bike. I liked it anyway. It sure was a pleasant change of pace after a steady diet of Power Bars and Gatorade, which were the only kind of food and drink I packed in the catamaran for my trip.

Anyway, I was a guest of the Navy last night and I just heard that the Admiral wants to speak to me in his quarters on the [CENSORED] deck in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, they’ve given me the use of a Navy computer, so I can check my e-mail and send out some messages, so long as I write from my own URL and not their top secret [CENSORED] URL. They also warned me to watch what I say, and that they’d have to censor out anything that reveals the ship’s identity and mission or reflects badly on the US Navy.

Anonymous's picture
Banana Guy (not verified)
Go Etoain, Go!!! (LOL) (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
Comment on the above

Yeah right.

Anonymous's picture
Etoain Shrdlu (not verified)
Arrived safely in Paris

"Paris, France: Well, here I am on land. I have to tell you, after lots of days at sea, I still feel as if the ground is rocking underfoot. Not only that, but using the Internet here is a pain in the butt. I found a guy who let me use his computer, which connects with a local ISP called Wanadoo. But to go from Wanadoo to AOL involves a lot of…oh, it’s a bore just talking about it. Besides, let me deal with first things first.

As I mentioned in my last note to all of you, I got picked up at sea by the U.S. Navy — a ship on the way to…well, I’m not allowed to tell. The Admiral said that if I revealed anything that endangered the ship’s mission, US Naval Intelligence would have to hunt me down and kill me. He actually said I’d be “terminated with extreme prejudice,” but we all know what that means. I suppose once his mission is either accomplished or screwed up, I can tell you about it, but by then you’ll know about it from CNN anyway. Just watch the news for further developments. Hint: expect to see lots of shells crashing into some city somewhere with big explosions, and CNN reporters diving under cars in mid-sentence.

So the ship was going one place, and I’m heading to Montenegro, and between one thing and another I ended up on your choice of the coast of Spain, or the coast of France, or the coast of England, or the coast of Belgium. That’s all I’m allowed to say without giving away military secrets. But after a steady diet of Power Bars for a couple of weeks, followed by a few days of ____ on a shingle (Go get your Naval Intelligence guys to whack me for telling everybody what SOS is, Admiral!) I wanted to eat good.

(Extra note: I said what the first ""S"" in ""SOS"" is, but the High Puritanical Poobahs who program this site put the word on automatic reject. I couldn't post this dispatch until I took the offending word out. Holy s---! You guys are living in the 12th Century. You belong up in the mountains of Montenegro with my Great Granduncle's second hillbilly cousin, Zoprosch. Let's just say the S stands for something dogs leave in the street. Okay, dog-in-the-street-leavings-head in charge of this website?""
So where was I. Oh, I was explaining what I’m doing in Paris. I'm here to eat. Of course, it took a couple of days of pedaling to get here, but it was worth the trip. I sold my catamaran on the dock of ___________, because there’s no point pedaling around Europe hauling a sailboat, and then I pedaled the back roads to Paree. I have to tell you, bike riding in this country is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, everybody stands on the road and applauds when you go by, and yells “Courage!” (they pronounce it “koo-rahj”) which is great. On the other hand, any motor vehicle in France is entitled as a matter of law to smack you broadside at 100 kilometers per hour, provided they hit you on your right side.

So if you take care to give cars on your right the right of way at intersections and traffic circles, you’ll get lots of encouragement in this country. Otherwise, you’ll get turned into a flesh and steel sandwich faster than you can shout “Sacre bleu!” at a speeding Citroen.

Speaking of sandwiches, I had a really tasty jambon and frommage sandwich on a baguette in a tearoom on the Rue de Rivoli, but you wouldn’t believe what it cost! It makes the Runcible Spoon look like Cheap Charlie’s Diner. The restaurant is kind of formal for a tearoom, but waitstaff kept looking at Statue of Liberty NYCC jersey with admiration. Then they’d notice my helmet and make faces. George Bush may think France is a nation of wimps, but my impression is that anyone here who wears a bicycle helmet is considered “une espece de sissy,” if you get what I mean.

Oh, I was complaining about the price. I don’t want to quote you the exact price, because that’ll ruin your appetite for the Runcible’s wraps, but suffice it to say the sandwich and a bottle of Pierrier water cost me a whole plastic “tip pack” bag"

Anonymous's picture
Lazlo Toth (not verified)
Etoain, my friend

"Lean to your left!

Lean to your right!

Stand up, sit down!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Stay true to your country!
(USA, not Montenegro)

Don't let those socialist wine-guzzling swine get to you. Ugh. Richard Nixon is rolling in his grave right now.

An American,


P.S. Please say ""hi"" to Reesssshard R. for me"

Anonymous's picture
Etoain Shrdlu (not verified)
Fraud discovered

"Good thing I stopped in at an Internet Wine Bar in the 16th for one last look at my e-mail before heading back to my hotel in the 5th for bed. I discovered the posting above, allegedly from Laszlo Toth at

Well, there is a Laszlo Toth whose books have been published by Workman, but ""[email protected]"" gets returned by le Mailleur-Daemon as ""nom inconnu."" In other words, no such person at that URL.

Fraud, fraud, fraud!!!"

Anonymous's picture
richard rosenthal (not verified)
If I 'm the Richard you have in mind, I don't deserve the credit

"""Lazlo Toth"" (which is the name of the Hungarian living in Australia who sledge hammered the Pieta in the Vatican) wrote, above, in response to Etoain, ""Please say ""hi"" to Reesssshard R. for me.""

If by that, Lazlo is saying he thinks I write for Etoain, I'm honest-to-god flattered--it happens to be sensational writing; alas and regrettably, truly better than I'm capable of--but it isn't me. No kidding. Keep up the Etoain hunt.


Anonymous's picture
Etoain Shrdlu (not verified)
Pigalle, Maurice and the Soigneuse who kneaded Eddie Merckx

Well, I had quite some time the other night. Before I get to that, I have to tell you that I’m still doing a slow burn over the NYCC computer program that blocks the S-word from message board posts, even though it lets you post the same word – merde – in French. I’ll bet the same thing goes for the F word, although I don’t want to waste my time finding out. However, instead of the F-word let me give you a great French word for the act of “F” right now: ziziboomboom. It is what it sounds like, and sounds like what it is.

A source of mine in New York says that a couple of the most Puritanical Poobahs who run the club like their new word filtering software so much, they had a secret meeting to consider extending it with a club rule censoring vulgar language on rides. Use one S- word or F-word on a ride, under any circumstances, and you get dropped. If you happen to hit, say, a hole, and your wheel pretzels as you crash, and you end up with two yards of road rash running from your nose to your ankles, and you can barely get out of your cleats and pick yourself up off the ground, and blood is soaking through your jersey, you won’t be allowed to use any expletive stronger than “Golly Geewillikers!”

Hey, you puritanical poohbahs, the more you censor language, the more you separate what goes up on the bulletin board from what goes on in the real world of cycling. Which brings me back to Paris.

As you may remember, Maurice the Marxist Cyclist promised to take me over to Place Pigalle and fix me up with a college cheerleader.

So we left our bicycles over on the Left Bank and took the metro to Pigalle. Hey, I knew I heard something bad about the place. You have to imagine a dimmed out Times Square with a big hill called Montmartre in the background. I’m not talking about a dim Times Square today. I’m talking about Times Square maybe a dozen years ago, with ladies wearing far too little clothing that was far too tight lounging in hotel doorways.

We passed a number of those until we got to one where there was a blue-eyed blonde with big hair. She was wearing a blue polkadot microskirt and a red blouse that was falling off one of her shoulders.

“Cosette,” says Maurice, “je vous presente Etoain Shrdlu, mon copain Americain, et….” But why don’t I just paraphrase it for you? Maurice the Marxist Cylist introduced me to Cosette as his biking buddy from America. Then he introduced Cosette to me as a former football cheerleader from Purdue University.

Well, it turns out Maurice probably wasn’t lying. The only thing he failed to mention was that the last time she possibly could have waved pompoms at a Purdue football audience would have be back around 1964. Looking at Cosette now I have to tell you, a lot of vin rouge, pate fois gras, and crème brule has passed over her dam since then.

We all went over to some cheesy café with fluorescent lights and formica tables and had some Pernod, a green, licorice flavored booze that turns cloudy white when you add water to it. It tastes disgusting, which forces you to drink it slow. That way you can sit in a café all night for the price of a single drink. If the habit ever spreads to New York, half the chocolate martini bar owners in Soho will be down on their knees, pleading for Chapter 11.

I asked Cosette how she got a French name. She said her name wasn’t really “Cosette.” That was just her nom de guerre.

Nom de what?

She explained that when guys with a troubled past joined the French Foreign Legion they did so anonymously so the law wouldn’t catch up with them, and that’s called a nom de guerre, or name of war. In her own case, Cosette is really a nom du demimonde, but I was not about to argue the finer points of French nomenclature with some older babe from West Lafayette, Indiana.

“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a business like this?” I asked her, and that’s when she told me her story.

Seems that in 19

cycling trips