Ease up, already

October 24, 2014 § 25 Comments

I came across a cyclist’s traffic law rant a couple of days ago. You can click on the link, or read my summary below:

  • He obeys the traffic laws (mostly)
  • Riders on his group ride break the traffic laws
  • Riders on his group ride endanger pedestrians on the bike path
  • Cyclists are their own worst enemy
  • He’s gonna quit riding with those wankers

This is a common mix-and-mash polemic bruited by many cyclists, and it combines good points with utter horseshit. The good things are obvious — masses of cyclists who race down a shared-use bike path are endangering weaker, less protected pedestrians. That’s no more acceptable than racing your car on the street. Because you are “training” or in a hurry or because you have to win the sprunt doesn’t make it okay to endanger others.

From there, however, lots of cyclists fall off the logic cliff, and it’s very rocky down below. First, traffic law violations on the street, where a group of cyclists runs a red light or stop sign, are not what causes most accidents. Most collisions between bike and car are caused by car. In non-car accidents, bicyclists typically fall off their bicycles due to road conditions or bike handling errors, not because they were scofflaws.

Here are some examples from the last few days alone:

  • Droopy-headed rider hit magnolia seed cone on group ride. Shoutypants, riding behind Droopy, braked. Dreamy, riding behind Shoutypants, wasn’t paying attention, and slammed into Shoutypants, whose face splatted against the pavement. This is a group ride where red-light running is endemic. In three years, and despite thousands of blown red lights, not a single rider has fallen off his bicycle or been hit by a car due to running a red light. Not once.
  • Rider 1 was carefully descending from the college. Road construction crew had failed to remove incredibly deep and dangerous sand from the edge and center of the roadway. The sand, from recent paving, was the same color as the new asphalt and almost invisible. Rider 1 slid out, broke his collarbone and three ribs.
  • Rider 2 was descending by the accident scene of Rider 1. Rider 2 also hit the sand and broke her pelvis.
  • Dude in Santa Monica got doored, separated his shoulder and trashed his $10k bike.
  • Rider on Newport Coast Drive was hit by a drunk driver and suffered catastrophic injuries.
  • Rider dropping down the hill to the MB Pier almost got taken out by right-turning cager who didn’t see the cyclist next to him.
  • Rider slipped on some sand on the bike path and fell off her bicycle.

These aren’t cherry-picked examples; I could easily add a hundred similar incidents. But I couldn’t give you one — not one — example of a cyclist who either got hit or who fell off his bike because he ran a stop sign or a red light. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, so please feel free not to email me your personal experience of how you fell off your bike when you scofflawed a stop sign.

The point is that you need to STFU when it comes to correlating traffic safety to obeying stop signs and red lights. Obeying traffic laws is good for lots of reasons, and having rules within your group makes for better group rides. But the reason people get hit by cars isn’t because they scofflaw. Bikers mostly get hit because cagers don’t see them — they’re impaired, they’re texting, or the cyclist is invisible, hugging the shoulder in a deathgrip.

The idea that cagers will hit cyclists because they “hate us for running stop signs” is as silly as the idea that motorists hit pedestrians because they hate them for stepping out of the crosswalk. For the most part, cagers hit things they don’t see, and if you’re really concerned about not being hit, the best step you can take is to run a bright headlamp and taillight every time you cycle.

Many riders have the mentality of second-class citizens, claiming that motorists “hate” them because they break the law. Newsflash: most of them don’t hate you, and the ones who do are going to hate you whether you stop or not. You, as a bicycle rider, are an annoyance every time you slow down a car or cause a cager to have to do something other than mash the gas pedal and point the car. Stopping at stop signs won’t make you less of an annoyance when you slow down a car, although the cagers might not mutter “fucker” under their breath like they do when you scofflaw through four red lights while salmoning up a one-way street.

Cyclists are not their own worst enemy. Cyclists’ worst enemy is something called a “car.”

If you want to follow the law and set rules for your group, then do so. If your group is a crazy bunch of marauding stop sign killers and that sets your teeth on edge, go ride somewhere else, start your own group, or go to the group at the beginning of the ride and tell them to quit scofflawing. If they laugh, tell you to FO, or shell you on the first climb, then go pedal elsewhere. But quit calling me my own worst enemy, because my worst enemy is beer.

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Froome declines to ride ’15 Tour, chooses SoCal Cup crit series instead

October 23, 2014 § 11 Comments

2013 Tour de France winner and not-very-good-rider-in-a-pack cycling dude Chris Froome  has announced that he may forego the 2015 Tour de France, whose route was announced yesterday.

“The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which races I will compete in,” he said in at a press conference held at his nursery. “I see myself as quite a balanced rider and the SoCal Cup crit series with its inclusion of a bunch of short, easy laps around an arsenic factory, and tough finishes sprunting for water bottles make it a well balanced race which suits me well. If I did the whole series, including the races put on by Lotts, I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for Grand Park training races and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win.”

Incredulous journalists swarmed the Bottoms Up Nursery for interviews after being vetted by Fanny O’Cowlick, the head wet nurse. Jean-Francois Mitterand du Fromage Puant, noted notary public and bicycling expert, was filled with outrage. “Ee skeeps le Tour pour zees Creet Zeries? Mon Dieu! Quelle fou! Cherchez les femmes!”

Froome, however, calmly answered his detractors after Fanny removed his pacifier and changed his soppy didy. “There’s no two ways about it, next year’s Tour is going to be about the mountains. There’s very little emphasis on short office park crits, which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains by men with giant testicles, covered with thick growths of jungle-like hair. With six mountaintop finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race,” said Froome.

“Not that I couldn’t hack it,” he added. “But after looking at the Ontario prize list and the chance to sprint against the Surf City train, it just seems like SoCal is the better place for me. Plus, I can always use a couple of new water bottles and gain experience by leading out Charon.”

Jan van de Ooperckx, another noted notary public and cycling commentator, posed a number of questions to Froome. However, Ms. O’Cowlick refused to let her charge take further questions. “He’s got a booboo on his po-po, and we gots to burp the little bugger,” she said as she deftly stuck a dripping nipple into Froome’s toothless gum and simultaneously scrubbed his ass with a wet wipe. “But I can answer for him,” she added.

“Thing is,” said Fanny, “Froomykins crashed out of the 2014 Tour before getting a taste of the pave but he actually quite enjoys the challenge of riding on the cobbles. It’s true he pooped a bit in his drawers and fell off ‘is bike a couple of times and got some more boo-boo’s on his po-po, but ‘e likes it when ‘e gets a spot of a spankin’, don’t you, Froomykins?” Ms. Cowlick then smacked her charge on the buttocks with a soup spoon as he wailed happily, in a sad kind of way.

“Now all you bad men go away, especially you smelly French ones,” said Ms. O’Cowlick. “It’s Froomykins’s bedtime.”

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Shaming the Badger

October 22, 2014 § 22 Comments

I just finished reading “Slaying the Badger” by Richard Moore. It is the most gripping, exciting, blah, blah, blah, blah about cycling that shows the drama, intrigue, and gritty blah, blah, blah of the human blah. Every time I finish reading a book about bicycles I smash out the windows, kick the dog, and swear that I’ll never, ever read one again. Until the next time.

Then I pass it on to a close friend as the ultimate measure of passive aggression.

Anyway, “Slaying the Badger,” which is well written and not completely uninteresting, reveals some shocking, little known facts about Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond. For example:

  • Hinault was not a nice person.
  • LeMond was a whiny little bitch.
  • Winning the Tour is hard.
  • Cycling is hard.
  • Hard races are won by hard men.
  • Hardy, har, har

The book was so successful that ESPN made it into a full-length motion picture of 30 minutes, which is 29 minutes longer than the attention span of the very smartest football fan. So basically, now that it’s a video, no one will ever read the book.

My biggest criticism is that the author left out my own experiences with Hinault, which confirmed that which no one ever doubted: He is truly an asshole. However, sometimes a monstrous, self-absorbed asshole runs up against an equally monstrous, equally self-absorbed asshole, and that’s really where the fun begins.

It was at the last stage of the 1985 Coors Classic in Boulder, a crit. Since Hinault had spanked LeMond in the Tour, he agreed to ride for him at the Coors Classic. Greg had it sewn up. Before the race Greg patiently stood in front of an endless line of fans and signed autographs. I waited and he signed a piece of paper for me.

Then I watched the race. Somebody went faster than everybody else and was declared the winner. Immediately after the race, the Badger peeled off the course to head for the hotel. I was standing right next to him as he slowed to about 5 mph. “Monsieur Hinault,” I said in my best French. “Combien pour vos sous-vêtements?”

He snarled just as I realized that I’d asked him how much for his underwear. Then I corrected myself. “Puis-je avoir un autographe?”

“Non,” he snapped, and nastily pedaled away.

Five years later I was an official interpreter at the World Road Race Championships in Utsunomiya, Japan. It was Sunday, September 2, the day of the pro road race. Part of my duties were to secure the entrance to the VIP grandstand. Tanaka-san gave me explicit instructions. “Do not let anyone in here before 8:00 AM.”

“Anyone?” I asked.

“Anyone,” he confirmed.

“Okey-dokey,” I said.

About an hour later the coach of the French national team came up with a couple of other French flunkies. The coach looked suspiciously like the Badger. He was snarling something in such an angry voice that it made spoken French sound like the language of the body snatchers. Hinault barged his way up to the entrance gate, where I stood.

“Move,” he said in English.

I stared down at his tiny smallness. From far atop the mountain of my towering six-feet-two-inches of height I spied the tousle-headed little newt far below me. He craned his neck up and thrust out his chest, which had bristly spines of curly hair angrily poking out from his unbuttoned golf shirt.

“Nope,” I said in French.

“I say move!” he ordered again, this time taking a step forward, grabbing his plastic ID badge with his name on it, and pulling out the lanyard until the badge was stuck under my nose. “You know this, eh?” he snapped.

I slowly read his name out loud, taking my time while he steamed like a clam. “Bernard He-nalt,” I said, giving it my best Texas accent.

“Now you move!” he said, inching closer.

“Look buddy,” I said. “I don’t know who you are, and don’t care if you’re a five-time winner of the Tour de France. Nobody gets in before 8:00 AM. Especially no short people.”

I braced myself for the punch, certain that he’d understood enough to be thoroughly insulted. His face turned bright red and I kept looking at him with a relaxed smile on my face, thinking about that autograph and underwear sale he’d denied me five years earlier in Boulder.

Then the Badger did the unthinkable. He turned on his heel and stormed off. I almost shattered my rib cage from holding in the laughter.

Top that, ESPN.

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

A friendly conversation

October 21, 2014 § 12 Comments

It was Friday. I decided to pedal down to the Center of the Known Universe and have a cup of coffee. The sun was shining and it was in the high 60’s. Why go on a “serious” bike ride when you could leisurely pedal along the strand, taking in the waves, the surfers, the volleyball players, and the last few thongs of fall?

I reached CotKU in a great mood, shelled out $1.75 for a bad cup of coffee, and parked my rear on the bricks as an endless stream of talent ambled by. On the far side of the street stood an old man, waiting for the signal to cross. The light changed and he began limping across the street. His face was set in a scowl, but even though the light turned red long before he reached my side of the street, the turning cars and oncoming traffic waited patiently.

He got to the bricks and scowled some more. “Can I make sitting here?” he gruffly asked.

“Sure, pal. Sitting’s free.”

He sat down and scowled for a few moments, his angry eyes darting at the blue sky, the blue ocean, and the talent. I sipped my coffee. “Hey, you fella,” he said.

“Yes?” I answered.

“I gonna question for you.”

“Shoot,” I said.

“Let’s me say I was walking on a path down by this beach.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“And let’s me say that some dumb bastard son of bitch on bicycle hits me and I fall onto a floor.”

“Sounds very reasonable.”

“So I’m lying on floor and some dumb bastard son of bitch on bicycle runs away from me and I’m me leaving there lying on a goddamned floor.”

“That sounds reasonable, too. Bad, but reasonable.”

“I’m lying on floor with broken goddamn ribs, I have three of them. You know how much it goddamn hurt trying to sleep on broken rib?”

“How much?”

“It hurt a goddamn bastard lot, that how much. And I’m lying there on a floor hurting like goddamn bastard and a walker man walks by and you know what he say?”

“What?”

“He say to me ‘Are you okay, fellow?’ Can you believe a dumb bastard like that? And I say ‘What you think I’m okay, I’m lying on a floor with goddamn broke rib you dumb son of bitch. You can’t say anything more smart than that why don’t you keep your stupid mouth shut?”

“Then what did he do?”

“He go off and leave me there.”

“Sounds extremely reasonable.”

“So I got question for you.”

“Shoot.”

“You a riding on a bike kind of fella, eh? So if you run me over like a goddamn bastard and knock me onto a floor, how come you ride off like nothing happen? This country gone to shit because of you biker.”

“You’re asking me what I would do? Or you’re asking me if I’ve ever hit-and-run on a pedestrian?”

“I’m asking why everyone such a dumb bastard. You can’t say something makes a good sense, why don’t you keep a goddamn mouth shut?”

I thought about answering, but realized that it would probably fall into the “dumb bastard keep a goddamn mouth shut” category, so I kept browsing the talent and sipping my coffee.

“My rib hurt so goddamn much if I had a gun I shoot every goddamn bicycle in Manhattan Goddamn Beach.”

I glanced to make sure he wasn’t going to pull out a pistol and punctuate the conversation by shooting me in the head.

“And I gonna tell you something else, fella,” he said. My coffee was only half gone, but it didn’t taste good anymore.

“No, fella, you aren’t.” I pitched the cup in the trash, threw a leg over my bike, and started rolling down the hill. The bike gained momentum as it left behind the angry little black cloud sitting back there on the bricks. And then it hit me. It was still a beautiful goddamn day.

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Separating the wheat from the chaff

October 20, 2014 § 12 Comments

Weekend wankers often wonder, “What makes the pros special?” and its corollary, “Why is that other wanker always ahead of me?”

The first question has been tackled in this blog post; read it if you really and truly haven’t been able to figure out why pros are fast and you are slow. The only things the writer left off the list are –

  • They are young, you are old.
  • They have good genes, you have blue jeans.
  • They use drugs to enhance performance, you use drugs to perform enhancement

Along the same lines, there is a reason that the same hackers on the weekend ride keep beating you, and will always beat you.

  1. Beer. You are a drunk, and the people who beat you are not. For example, when Boozy, Smasher, and I sat down after the Donut Ride with a giant box of donuts and two cases of IPA, it was still only 10:30 AM. Ollie, who had crushed the ride and left everyone in tatters, politely declined our post-ride invitation and went home to put on his compression boots and sleep for six hours in an oxygen tent.
  2. Fatness. You are fat, and the people who beat you are skinny. For example, when Stathis the Wily Greek pedals away from you 5 mph faster going up a steep grade, the last thing you will see are the intricate vascular patterns on his calves and thighs. The last thing he will see when he passes you are several folds of a soft, white, jiggly tissue commonly found on whales.
  3. Meanness. You are nice, and the people who beat you are cruel. For example, when you are on the rivet on the SPY Thursday morning ride, hanging by a thread to MMX’s wheel, he will never ease off. Instead, he will carefully judge your state by listening to the rapidly increasing sound of your breathing, and then twist the pedals just hard enough to kick you out the back. He will really enjoy it, like plucking the legs off an insect while leisurely roasting it to death with a lighter.
  4. Goals. The people who beat you have racing/performance goals, but your goal is to beat everyone to the fridge. For example, after our first case of IPA and box of donuts for breakfast yesterday, Boozy announced that next year he would go on a diet and get motivated. However, when he woke up a few hours later, he didn’t remember it and instead asked if there was still any ice cream in the freezer.
  5. Fear. You are afraid of getting dropped, and the people who beat you are afraid of being seen in your vicinity. For example, when Rudy shows up on the ride you cower and hide from the front, fearing lots of leg-pulling-off as described in #3 above. He, however, fears that merely being around you for more than a second or two will be proof that that his career is nearly over, and he will therefore pedal quickly away.
  6. Excuses. You have many, and the people who beat you have few. For example, when Boozy, Smasher, and I were finishing our second breakfast case of IPA (but before Mrs. WM had come home from Zumba and thrown us out), we agreed that we would have totally won the Donut Ride if Boozy had used a different bike, Smasher had not bonked when he saw someone else start eating a gel, and I had been on a motorcycle.
  7. Teammates. Yours suck and theirs don’t. For example, the only people I had to help me yesterday were Olive and Stanley, two chihuahuas who occasionally provide contract work services for my law firm on complex litigation matters. They didn’t even bother to show up for the ride, much less pace me up to the leaders. The Wily Greek, on the other hand, had 72 riders blocking for him by falling off their bicycles and gumming up the chase with ambulances and police vehicles.

There’s very little you can do to change any of this, by the way, with the exception of a good 12-step program. And hey, it’s almost lunch time.

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Astana launches doping investigation, discovers doping

October 18, 2014 § 19 Comments

UCI Pro Tour team Astana launched an investigation into team doping practices after Maxim Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO during the fourth stage of the Tour of Belgium. Within forty-seven minutes of the announcement, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov announced that “doping had been discovered” within the team.

“I’m very sorry to announce that doping has been discovered within Team Astana,” Vinokourov said at a press conference held at the world famous tourist resort and secret rendition destination known as Kyzylorda-sur-Waterboarding. “The dopers have confessed and been properly disposed of.”

Despite the most vigorous anti-doping program on the Pro Tour, a program that includes asking riders to report if they dope and that makes extensive use of self-graded questionnaires to root out potential drug problems, Astana has suffered a shocking number of doping positives, beginning with general manager Alexandre Vinokourov’s 2-year suspension for doping in the 2007 Tour de France.

“After getting caught for doping, I made sure that my team would have a very strict anti-doping policy,” said Vinokourov at the press conference. “People like me would no longer be welcome on the team, and after I retired it was my goal to make sure that no one like me would ever be associated with the team again.”

Vim Vandy Pants, cycling journalist and noted notary public, questioned Vinokourov regarding the team’s policy. According to Vandy Pants, “Shortly after Vino was busted, Matthias Kessler, another Astana rider, received a 2-year doping sanction. How do you explain this?” he asked at the press conference.

“Kessler was an aberration, an anomaly, a synonym for ‘one-off.’ None of his self-reported doping exams or questionnaires ever indicated drug use,” said Vinokourov.

Wham Wankypants, yet another famous cycling journalist and an even more widely noted notary public, followed up by asking Vinokourov about Eddy Mazzoleni, the former Astana rider who was banned for two years in the infamous Italian oil-for-drugs-and-old-jockstraps sting carried out by the Italian anti-doping agency, CONI-BALONEY. “You say zat no doping inna Astana, but you, Kessler, and Mazzoleni all was doping onna banana.”

“It’s true that Mazzoleni was a doper,” said Vinokourov. “But his program was very sophisticated, very clandestine, very secret. We asked him about it one night when he was very drunk, and he simply shrugged and said ‘I no doping.’ There was no way we could have known.”

Vinokourov was then asked about Andrey Kashechkin (banned for doping in the Tour of Turkey), former rider José Antonio Redondo (banned for testosterone), Vladimir Gusev (fired from team for sort-of-doping), Valentin Iglinskiy (banned for EPO), Maxim Iglinskiy (brother of Valentin, also banned for EPO), and llya Davidenok (busted for steroids and general stupidity).

Vinokourov was unapologetic. “These were isolated incidences, coincidences, outliers, random occurrences. We could never have known about such team-orchestrated doping despite our focus on self-reporting and questionnaires. However, now that we have launched a full investigation we have in fact uncovered doping. It is unacceptable and in the future we will insist that all riders on Astana refrain from doping or cheating in any way. Or else.”

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

My associates

October 17, 2014 § 7 Comments

The alarm went off at 4:00 AM. I had barely recovered from the NPR thrashing of the day before, and hurriedly gulped my coffee in order to make the 6:30 start time of the Thursday SPY ride in Encinitas. In addition to my busy pro masters off-season  group ride schedule, which would be a big part of my resume for the coming year, I also had some serious business matters to attend to regarding a couple of employees who live and work for my firm in North County San Diego.

The ride started gently but finished like every grisly airplane accident: Body parts strewn about the asphalt, muffled groans of the survivors, and horrified looks of impending death carved into the ghoulish faces of the dead. The raging attacks of Abate, Full-Gas Phil, Dandy, Stefanovich, MMX, and Smasher reduced the 50-strong group to less than ten riders at the end.

After the ride, Abate, Smasher, and I pedaled around aimlessly until we found donuts. A fat, greasy, sugary bag of dough later we pedaled some more and said good-bye. I still had my serious business matter on my mind, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. My associates had frankly been under-performing in some key metrics. Although we’d had a number of performance reviews, nothing changed.

Oliver would always say, “Yes, sir, I understand, I’ll start doing [ ---- ] right away,” but he never did.

Stanley, on the other hand, would want to debate things. “That’s not how it happened,” or “You need to take into consideration the fact that … “

It was very frustrating to have these guys collecting a paycheck and refusing to do what they were told. Very frustrating. And since they’d been with me for a couple of years, and I’d invested considerably in their training, it was going to be hard to let them go.

“What should I do?” I asked Smasher.

“You should have a beer.”

“It’s 8:45 AM.”

“Okay, then you should have two.”

“Only a terrible alcoholic would have beer before nine o’clock, and only a hideously terrible alcoholic would know where to find any.”

“There’s a little cafe near my place,” he said. “They serve great breakfasts and cold beer.”

We went to the cafe and ordered. The “breakfast” was a scrambled egg in a paper cup and a piece of cardboard painted to look like toast. The beer, on the other hand, was tap-fresh Stone IPA served in iced glasses. After a couple, the employee problem didn’t look so bad.

“Look,” said Smasher, who shares an apartment with my associates. “They aren’t bad, they just aren’t super motivated. Some things they do well, other things, not so much. Focus on their attributes, try to see it from their perspective.”

We had two more pints, then another two, then threw away the cardboard and eggs. “Let’s walk over to your place,” I said. “Now’s as good a time as any to have the talk.”

“Agreed,” he said. Through the fog I could see three or four other early morning customers washing down their AM beer with cardboard.

“What a bunch of drunks,” I said disgustedly to Smasher.

We reached Smasher’s place and the associates were there. They knew I meant business, but no matter how much they wagged their tails I didn’t crack so much as a smile.

We sat down on the couch. “Look, guys,” I said. Then I faltered. “I’m gonna take a quick nap and then we’re going to have to talk business.”

I stretched out on the couch and fell asleep for thirty minutes or four hours. As I lay there I could feel the warm furry little bodies of Oliver and Stanley curled up around my feet, which went from cold to toasty. They snuggled against my leg, repositioning only to increase the toasty-leg-factor.

When I awoke they opened their eyes, then came over to lick my nose. “Let’s get to work guys, shall we?” I said.

They nodded and bounded downstairs. All good.

END

————————-

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which is kind of a bargain. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 809 other followers