Blow it out your (nose) hole

September 15, 2012 § 23 Comments

I first got congested in my early teens, and completely stopped breathing through my nose by the time I turned twenty. About two months ago, as I approached the bottom of the the short climb up from RAT Beach, it occurred to me to try using my nose to breathe.

Twenty-eight years is a long time for an organ to sit around doing nothing, and my nose immediately rebelled against the onslaught of air by discharging a clot of yellow and green stuff so sticky and stringy that, had it gotten tangled up in my spokes, it would have thrown me over the bars. It felt like I was suffocating, and that’s because I was: my lungs had their air supply cut down by at least eighty percent.

One thing that happens when you stop getting oxygen is that you slow down, a lot. I refused to give in to the urge to open my mouth, and by the time I got to the top I was crawling. Most of the crud had either been blown out on exhale or sucked down and swallowed on inhale, but the passage of air in this gooey and cobwebbed section of my skull caused a massive and ongoing fluid release from my sinuses.

If it don’t work, give it time

I would have immediately switched back to mouth breathing had I not noticed something: When you breathe through your nose, your legs don’t get tired. That’s partially because you’re not going very fast. It’s also because your legs can’t go any faster than your lungs can breathe, and if your breathing is regulated, then so are your legs.

This is a convoluted way of saying that you can’t get enough air while breathing nasally to really hammer your legs.

The result was that I went really slowly all the way up Via del Monte, breathing nasally the whole way. What struck me was that at the end of the day I always crawl up VdM, but it usually hurts. Something about nasal breathing is either more efficient at funneling away lactic acid, or at limiting something that otherwise makes climbing uncomfortable even at slow paces.

Ramping up to full nasal

Every day I for the last eight weeks I’ve focused on breathing only through my nose. Here are some quick conclusions:

  1. Nasal breathing reduces or completely eliminates fatigue at moderate to low efforts.
  2. Although nasal breathing gives way rather quickly to mouth breathing when the intensity increases, with practice you can delay the onset of mouth breathing. This seems to keep your legs fresher for longer.
  3. With practice, your diaphragm becomes very powerful at nasal breathing. In the beginning your breaths feel like thimblefuls, but after a while your diaphragm gets strong enough to really haul in the air.
  4. As you run out of nasal capacity, rather than switching to full mouth inhalation/exhalation, the next step is to inhale nasally but to mouth exhale. It seems like the longer you are at least partially nasal breathing, the easier it is on your legs and the longer it delays leg burn.
  5. As effort increases, it’s not important to inhale strongly, but it’s crucial to exhale sharply and deeply. The intake is autonomic and completely fills your lungs in almost exact proportion to the strength and depth of the exhalation.
  6. When you’re going balls out, rapid fire, powerful exhalations actually help your legs recover. Usually when you’re tired you focus on slowing your breathing to help your legs recover, but by increasing the intensity of your exhalations you’re cycling more air to your muscles and carrying off the crud. In other words, and somewhat paradoxically, by continuing deep and powerful exhalations as the pace slackens, your legs recover more quickly.
  7. You can’t hyperventilate when you’re going hard. The deeper and more sharply and more rapidly you exhale, the longer you can hang on before blowing, and the more quickly you can recover after you’ve popped.
  8. Even after you’ve switched to full-mouth inhalation and exhalation, once the effort backs off you should reverse the process so that you’re eventually fully nasal breathing until the effort picks back up.
  9. Everyone will notice your weird wheezy sounds and think you’re a dork, or more of a dork. A pace line of 20 nose breathers would likely get arrested for making indecent sounds in a public area.
  10. Those cool little nostril expander strips that Ullrich used to wear in the Tour are useless if you’re breathing through your mouth.
  11. The expander strips will come unstuck due to the oil in your skin and the sweat on your nose unless you use the Joe Yule Noseclamp Method: Daub your schnoz with menthol rubbing alcohol, then dry it with a Kleenex prior to sticking on the strip. Be prepared for it to rip most of the skin off your honker when you’re ready to peel it off, and be prepared for another stupid addition to your already stupid collection of stupid cycling tan lines.
  12. Once you’ve developed the ability to breathe nasally and to modulate it with mouth breathing as intensity increases, the addition of the nose strips will make you feel like you’ve had a turbocharger hooked up to your lungs. The amount of air you’ll pull in is amazing.
  13. The CVC or generic pharmacy brand of “breathe-right” strips is much cheaper than the actual “Breathe Right” brand.
  14. Double blind trials of nasal expander strips have concluded that they are worthless for improving performance, air intake capacity, or the ability to repeat more high intensity intervals. However, none of the studies measured whether or not the strips extended the amount of time that the test subjects could continue nasal breathing, thus slowing the march to lactate threshold.
  15. This is all anecdotal, and probably worthless. A general survey of “nasal breathing cycling” on Google reveals that nobody really knows what they’re talking about, unless you want to take your training advice from some Ayurvedic guru at an ashram in Marin County.

*Note: No Freds were offended or harmed in the creation and distribution of this post.

It’s so daaaaaaaaaangerous!

September 14, 2012 § 37 Comments

It finally happened. A frightened and outraged participant called out the New Pier Ride for its reckless, dangerous, traffic-law-violating, scofflaw ways. It appears that as the pack was flying down the hill on Vista del Mar to the light at Grand, “1/3 of the pack” rolled through the red light.

Wankomodo, in the back 2/3, the light stone red, and motorists with the right of the way staring at a green light as a mob of bikers roared by, called out “slowing” with twelvedy-nine speeding riders behind him. Then, to avoid getting rear-ended, he pulled a right to “wait out the light.”

Wankomodo duly noted that he “has seen some sketchy and dangerous behavior by NPR riders,” but proudly said that he “tries his best not to be one of them.” In addition to “pissing off motorists,” this dangerous behavior “makes cyclists look bad.”

Some of the folks behind this sudden stop-and-swerve maneuver voiced their displeasure with verbiage familiar to flailing wankers everywhere after a bonehead move: “You fucking asshole! What the fuck are you doing?” and similar sentiments were duly expressed. Wankomodo was offended, and let everyone know that if he was going to get “bitched at for riding safe and obeying the law on the NPR” then “the NPR is not for me.”

After this manifesto, Wankomodo then went on to question himself. “Was I wrong to call out ‘slowing’ and stop at the traffic signal?” More importantly, he begged for confirmation that this type of behavior was not “condoned” on Big Orange team rides. After all, Wakomodo reminded us, he has a family that relies on him and he didn’t need to take any more risks with motorists than he already does.

A heartfelt thanks to Wankomodo

See, there I was wondering all day what I was gonna blog about, and bing, Wankomodo delivered this gem, pre-cut and polished and already set in the 14-karat band. It’s folks like him that make writing easy and fun!

So, let’s get down to business.

First: Were you wrong to slam on your brakes, screech “Slowing!” as you slam a hard right turn at the light, and scare the bejesus out of fifty other idiots just because you had a chickenshit brainfart?

Answer: No. Given the fact that you were in the back 2/3 of the wankoton, what you did was perfectly acceptable. That’s what the back 2/3 is for, so idiots like you can ‘tard out and kill other numbskulls who couldn’t handle a bike safely even if it was bolted to the floor.

However, if you’d pulled that shit in the front 1/3, we would have jerked you off your fucking bike and drop-kicked your sorry ass into the urine and poop processing pools along Vista del Mar, because that’s the kind of shit that gets people killed. Don’t ever slam on your fucking brakes in the middle of a fast moving pack, doorknob.

Second: Does Big Orange condone this kind of behavior?

Answer: Who gives a rat’s ass what Big Orange condones? They’re not the ride police. They’re a local group of wankers just like the rest of us, and if you’d pulled that bullshit in front of the Big O dudes and chicks I know they would have given you a what-for. The NPR is a big old group ride, which is longhand for “clusterfuck,” where the goofballs hang on at the back for dear life and those who want to live another day strive might and main to be near the front or, Dog forbid, on it.

Third: It’s daaaaaaaangerous on these big group rides, isn’t it?

Answer: Yeah, fuddlefuck, it is. Group rides like this are a great way to get seriously injured or killed. If you’re not taken out by some moron slamming on his brakes in the middle of an intersection, chances are you’ll be smushed by a big yellow maintenance truck on the Parkway.

Group rides are really fucking dangerous because they incorporate idiots like you with UCI pros with flub-happy in-line skaters with bone idling wankers on training wheels. Throw into the mix ten score of pissed off morning commuters, sun in your eyes, wet roads, oncoming traffic, badly timed lights, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off oncoming trucks at the turnarounds, rocks, glass, debris, flats, overlapped wheels, equipment failure, panic attacks, cracks in the road, howling wind, and lummoxes going 35 mph with their heads staring straight down and you’ve got a recipe for serious injury.

The Pier Ride has been around for over 30 years, and people have gotten every sort of awful injury as a result. Just this year one guy broke his hip, a chick hit the curb with her head, Bumpngrind fell down in a turn, and there have been about twelve gazillion near-sprunt deaths.

Get it? These things are stupid and deadly and make no sense at all, like cycling itself. That’s why we do them.

Fourth: Should we be concerned about pissing off motorists?

Answer: Yes, just like we should be concerned about world peace, the third round of Quantitative Easing, and whether the left hand really does feel like a different person.

But you know what? When you have a zillion idiots barreling through a light, and all the traffic is stopped letting us go through, there’s a certain number of motorists who are just going to be pissed and hate our guts and have to go to their shitty jobs and complain about it while we get to spend our morning riding our bikes. Life sucks to be them.

Plus, what the fuck are you, Ambassador at Large for the Cycling Public? Cyclists, like motorists, are 9 parts idiot to 1 part skilled. Why are you so fucking concerned about pissing off motorists, who already hate you anyway? Why not be concerned about them pissing us off?

Fifth: Is the NPR just a bunch of scofflaw traffic-law violators?

Answer: Since you admit to running stop signs and lights “when no one’s around,” as if that makes it legal, I guess you sort of answered your own question. If you want to play Polly Patrolman or Harry Hall Monitor, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort. Why not spend it “Just Saying No” to the third helping of sugar donuts, and get strong enough so that you can stay up front and let the rearguard fend for itself? We’re all adults out here, even Prez, and no one gets up at 5:00 AM to be nagged at by some wankhappy newbie who belatedly realized that the pavement is hard and that oncoming traffic weighs slightly more than a carbon bike and lycra bodysuit.

Sixth: Should you be taking these risks since your family relies on you?

Answer: It’s refreshing to hear that of the 150+ people who regularly do the NPR, we finally have one whose family depends on him. The rest of us have families, but they don’t give a rat’s ass if we live or die, or what happens to us. That’s why we bike all the time.

The answer, of course, is “No.” You shouldn’t be taking these risks. In fact, you shouldn’t be taking any at all, you big pussy. Starting tomorrow, when the alarm goes off, stay in bed. Your risks will plummet dramatically.

If you do have to get out of bed (avoid the dangerous shower!), please don’t ride your bike. LA County roads are the site of numerous deaths and countless bike-car accidents every year. Cycling is dangerous. Cycling on roads is dangerous. Cycling with other idiots is dangerous. Cycling with cars is super duper dangerous. Cycling down dirt trails is dangerous (trees hurt!). Cycling without brakes or gears is dangerous. And most of all, being an idiot who slams on his brakes in the middle of a fast moving pack on a downhill is dangerous beyond any fucking description.

Which leads to the final question…

Seventh: Although you’ve been cycling for 25 years, since you’re new to the “fast group ride thing,” is this the norm for all group rides?

Answer: Dude, saying you’ve been riding for 25 years but have never done fast group rides is like saying you’ve been jacking off for 25 years but haven’t ever used your penis. Fast group rides all  have several common elements. I’ve listed them below for easy reference.

  1. They are flat fucking crazy scary deadly and dangerous.
  2. Wankers like you are the prime reason they’re so dangerous.
  3. If you want to ride with other idiots, you have to chance death and mayhem. The legal term in California is ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK. Memorize it.
  4. Group rides won’t make you faster or fitter.
  5. Group rides will teach you survival skills.
  6. Group rides will help you make friends even if you’re a total kook, although it will take longer.
  7. Group rides have the best offering of post-ride lies and “Didja see me?” tall tales.
  8. Group rides have the hottest chicks with the cutest butts.
  9. Group rides are where you can have some chick like Suze crack your nuts in half and remind you how much you suck.
  10. Group rides are terrifying beyond belief.
  11. Group rides are where you bond with other living, breathing, mostly human beings. They’re the opposite of solo ego-fapping Strava jagoffs.
  12. Group rides are where, if you stick it out and pay attention and follow the right wheels, you may actually, one day, learn how to ride your fucking bike.

Hope this helps!

Wankmeister

New Strava algorithms announced

September 13, 2012 § 53 Comments

Strava CEO Michael Horvath posted an entry on the company blog today about sportsmanship, competition, ethics, and a new focus on the social media site’s core users. “After doing a six-month analysis of rider usage patterns,” he wrote, “we were able to pinpoint the key characteristics of our avid regular users and of our paid ‘premium’ users. Our user review team has classified our customers as something known in the industry as ‘delusional assholes.'”

According to Horvath, Strava’s current KOM/QOM algorithm no longer correlates to the behavior of the web site’s most dedicated users. “KOM’s started out as virtual datapoints to mark your progress. Unfortunately, they’ve become real in the minds of countless users. People actually believe that because Strava describes them as a KOM, they are in fact the king of some mountain somewhere.”

Horvath relates the fistfight that broke out between cyclist Elmer Thudpucker and a local landowner when Thudpucker claimed feudal demesne rights to Pighumper Mountain in western Arkansas by virtue of his Strava KOM. “First they beat him senseless, then they tied him to a post, then they made him grunt like a pig. We decided something needed to be done.”

Too much of a bad thing?

Problems also arise when KOM holders interact with other actual cyclists and get their shit handed to them on a plate, according to Horvath. “The cognitive dissonance that arises when you think you are the king of a mountain, but then on a group ride you are the last person up the mountain you’re supposedly king of, creates so much depression, self-doubt, anger, and disillusionment that our most committed members are letting their memberships lapse,” he explains.

“We’ve decided to revamp the KOM algorithm so that all of our Strava users know exactly what their KOM’s really mean, and hence aren’t so dejected when they get crushed by the kid on restricted gears who hasn’t started shaving yet.”

Preview of the new, improved Strava rankings

“We’re in the process of gathering more personal data from our users in order to perfect the algorithms, but in a nutshell here they are. This entire system was dreamed up by Steven L. from San Diego, so we owe him a big debt of thanks even though he won’t see a dime from all his hard work, as we intend to pirate the shit out of his idea.”

COM: Chicken of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider never rides with others, and instead sets all of his best times alone.

FOM: Faker of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider never tells others he’s going for a particular segment, so they will do all the work as he moves from the back to the front of the group to collect the FOM.

POM: Peon of the Mountain
Idicates that the segment has been ridden less than 500 times, and the rider is literally a smallish-fish-in-the-tiniest-of-ponds.

WOM: Wanker of the Mountain
Indicates that the segment has never been ridden by a UCI pro or Cat 1 roadie.

Cit-OM: Citizen of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider doesn’t do road races.

FROM: Fraudster of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider is the one who created the segment.

SPROM: Sprunter of the Mountain
Indicates that the segment is less than 5k in length.

CHOM: Cheater of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider achieved the time with motor pacing or other pacing assistance.

EPOM: EPO of the Mountain
Indicates reliance on PED’s.

KOV: King of the Valley
Indicates net decrease in elevation, ergo it’s not a climb, stupid.

LOM: Lawsuit of the Mountain
Indicates idiot took outrageous risks on a descent or other twisty, dangerous road in order to score points on a stupid web site.

TOM: Triathlete of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider isn’t even a cyclist.

DOM: Delusional of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider thinks that his performance on Strava correlates to his racing ability.

“This is just the outline; we’re hoping to get it tweaked in the next couple of weeks,” writes Horvath. “Once we’ve gone through the AMA’s Index of Psychiatric Disorders to fully categorize our customers, we should be ready for launch.”

Here, try this water. It will make you faster.

September 12, 2012 § 14 Comments

On the bike, I’m somebody. Somebody ridiculous? Yes. Somebody clueless? Uh-huh. Somebody no one takes seriously? That, too. But at least I’m somebody.

In the gym, I’m nobody.

I’m so weak I’m not even ridiculous. Today there was a gal about 200 pounds overweight, Dog bless her, busting out of a skintight leotard that, if it hadn’t been stitched together with wire and Kevlar, would have torn asunder and killed whoever got hit by the flying fabric. Big Chick and me, we were the gym nobodies of the day, her for being so prodigiously fat and trying to work some of it off, me for being so prodigiously weak and trying to get just the slightest bit stronger.

It sucks to be a nobody.

The advice sausage magnet

The reason it sucks to be nobody isn’t the “nobody” part. It’s actually fun to just be an ordinary, anonymous wanker who everyone ignores once they see you’re straining to deadlift the 40-lb. kettlebell.

The sucky part about nobodyism is that you become the default magnet for all the advice sausages. Fortunately for the fat girl, she was there with a trainer, a very cool dude who knows his shit and from time to time offers me little tidbits I can use without being condescending or obtrusive.

“Hey, Wankster, trying keeping your back straight so that all those discs don’t pop out of your lower spine like discs coming out of a Nerf gun.” Stuff like that.

Unfortunately, last night the only person in the gym besides me was Phil the Advice Sausage. He was doing leg extensions while I fiddled with my tiny medicine ball. It’s a really small gym, so you can’t go off in a corner.

“Hey, there!” he said.

“Hi.”

“I’m Phil. But all my friends call me Advice Sausage.”

“Hi, Phil. I’m Dave. Dave Perez.”

“Good to know you, Dave. Do you live here?”

“No, I live in San Pedro.”

“Very cool, very cool. I’m on Day Two of a 3-day detox.”

“Oh. Trying to climb onto the wagon, huh?”

“No, no. Not alcohol detox, no, you know, a natural detox. To get rid of all the toxins in my body. No solid food for three days.”

“Toxins in your body? You must be from Long Beach.”

He smiled and put on the condescending look. “Your body naturally builds up toxins from the food you eat, and so to be healthy you have to detoxify your system.”

“Oh, that. Yeah, I detox every morning. Big cup of coffee, some granola, and baby, I detox those fucking toxins to a fare-thee-well. Problem is after I detox the body, I’ve pretty much toxed up the rest of the apartment. But you know what they say. Everybody thinks his own shit smells good.”

Phil got a funny look on his face. “This is a specific program I’m on to purify the body. It’s scientifically proven. By going off solid food for three days, your body purifies and becomes healthier.”

“What about all the holes in the wall?”

“Holes in the wall?”

“Yeah, all the fucking holes you punch in the wall for being pissed off and angry at not getting to eat for three days.”

Now he was thinking it was time to switch topics. “So, what are you working on?” This was a typical advice sausage intro line, which really meant, “What is a pathetic weakling like you trying to achieve that a stud like me might help you with?”

“I’ve had a gut all year and am trying to work it off.”

“Ah, yes. I once had that problem.” Then he nonchalantly gets down on a mat and takes this little wheel thingy and starts doing roll-outs. I watch him do about a zillion of them. Then he sits up. “Don’t have that particular problem any more. Heh, heh.”

You’re so weak I can probably lie to you all day and you won’t even know it

“So, do you play a sport?” he asked.

“No.”

“You really should. Sports are great for you.”

“Really? The only thing I do is bicycle, and all it seems to do is make people mentally ill or put them in the hospital.”

“Oh, you cycle? Well, that’s certainly a sport.”

“Cycling? A sport?”

“Oh, yes. It’s actually quite competitive and difficult. You’d be surprised.”

“I sure would be.”

NOTE TO READER: THIS NEXT PART REALLY HAPPENED

“I used to race bikes, actually,” said Phil. “I grew up here in Southern California and raced a lot here.”

“Really? Like, with categories and everything?”

“Oh, yeah. Absolutely.”

“What category were you?”

“I didn’t have a category. But one time I jumped in a race with a bunch of Category 1’s and beat them all.”

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“You must have been fast.”

“I was pretty fast when I was young, yeah. My specialty was criterion and road racing, like they do in the Tour de France.”

“Did you also run marathons with Paul Ryan?”

“What?”

“Nothing. So after beating all those Category 1 dudes in that race you jumped into, what happened? Did you turn pro?”

“Oh, no. Professional cycle racing is way beyond what you or I could ever do. I was just a local racer, one of the top guys around here, actually.”

“No shit? When was this?”

“I got started in the early 90’s. Late 90’s. 1997.”

“Gosh, that’s a long time ago. Which races did you do? You must have been fast.”

“I was best on track racing. I was a track racer. It was kind of my specialty.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a track like a race track for cars, except no gears or brakes. My best events were the missing out and the careen.”

“What’s that?”

“The missing out is where you race in a timed thing against the clock. The careen is behind a motorcycle where you careen past the motorcycle. That’s why it’s called the careen. There’s like a hundred guys out there with you all trying to careen at the same time. You have to be really fast and not flinch.”

“Man, that’s fricking incredible. Hey, I know some dudes who used to race back then. Who did you race with?”

“Oh, I, ah, can’t really remember anyone’s names. Mike. I raced with Mike. And a guy named Fred. Mike and Fred, yeah. Mostly, though, I raced in the Midwest. I did a lot of racing in the Midwest.”

“The Midwest?”

“Yeah, in the 1980’s. I started racing in the 80’s. Before your friends’ time. It was a long time ago.”

“How old are you?”

“Forty-nine.”

“I’m forty-eight. I’ve got some great buddies from the Midwest who were star bike racers back then. Ever hear of Jeff Fields?”

“Oh, yeah, sure, Jeff Fields. I knew him.”

“Tall, skinny guy?”

“Yeah.”

“Long blonde hair?”

“That’s him.”

“It is? I always kind of remembered him as being short with dark hair.”

“Oh yeah, he was, wasn’t he? Well, my main place of racing was Penn State and Ohio. I raced a lot there.”

“No shit? Do you know…”

But I never got to finish my sentence because he suddenly realized an important television news program he had to watch, and he dashed out.

You can’t keep a good advice sausage down

Like the Cat in the Hat, though, Phil was back in a flush, carrying a big jug of water. “How’d you like to be an experiment?” he said with a big friendly grin.

“I feel like I already am. Are you the mad scientist?”

“This is called Kangen Water. It’s super low in pH, minus 750. Green tea is minus 80. Antioxidants. You know what those are?”

“Antioxidants? Sure. A recent article in DC Science came out that said there’s no such thing.”

“That’s what traditional medicine is always saying. They have a financial interest in keeping you hooked up to the doctors and big pharma. Alternative medicine works. Trust me.”

“Have you ever had surgery?”

“Oh, sure. I had my appendix taken out.”

“Did they use traditional anesthesia or, like, acupuncture and green tea to knock you out?”

“Oh, it was traditional. But that was my appendix. I’m here to talk to you about your cycling. I can make you 20% stronger and faster just by drinking this special low pH Kangen Water.”

“Really?”

“Yep. It’s proven by mystic Japanese Buddhism Shinto priests. They lower the pH until the water completely detoxifies your body and infuses your cells with pure water. It’s like putting the highest grade oil in your engine. Everything just runs better.”

“I already told you, man, my detox program works like clockwork. It costs zip and the smell’s gone with a match and a candle.”

“Look. Just try this water. Drink it all day long for two days. Then get out on your bike. You’ll be the fastest guy in LA County.”

“Is this what you used when you raced bikes?”

“You bet I did.”

“And that’s what made you the fastest road track racer in Pennsylvania Ohio Midwestern Southern California?”

“Damn straight.” He had that crazy preacher look, burning with devotion to save my bank account from the devil by putting it in his safekeeping.

“Okay, man,” I said, taking the water. “I’ll try it. Now can I finish my workout?”

“Sure.  But I’d like to make an appointment to show you the full program for how this stuff works and how you incorporate it with a detox. I’ve got a video program and some equipment. Only takes an hour, two hours max.” He handed me the jug with his business card. “What was your name again?”

“Dave Perez,” I said, as I gave him Dave’s phone number, email, and home address. “Feel free to drop by anytime.”

On second thought, I don’t really train with Rudy

September 11, 2012 § 19 Comments

Of all the awesome awesomeness of Rudy Napolitano’s national championship ride in Bend, Oregon last week, the most awesome ego fapping part of all is that I’m now able to say, “Yeah, I train with that dude. National road champ, 35+. Uh-huh.”

I’m not the only wanker who got a woody thinking about the stars-and-stripes jerseys brought home by Rudy, Rich Meeker, Michael Easter, Jamie P., and the medals harvested by Jeff K., DeMarchi, Glass Hip Worthington, Charon Smith, Karl Bordine, and the other SoCal riders who dominated at nationals. No sooner had news of Rudy’s win hit the Cycling Illustrated newsfeed than a whole host of other bone idlers began crowing and bragging about how they train and race with these champions.

Prez even admitted what we all do but are too ashamed to confess: Calling his buddies back East to say “THOSE are my training partners, yo!”

The difference between theory and practice

In theory, I suppose it’s legit to say, for example, that I train and race with Rudy and those dudes. Most Saturdays, after all, he shows up on the Donut Ride, and I show up on the Donut Ride. Several times a year I do the Really Early Morning Ride a/k/a REMR. Jeff does the REMR. And of course numerous times I suit up and saddle up for local crits and road races, events at which Jamie, Glass Hip, Meeker, and Charon also toe the line.

Unfortunately, the extent of my “training rides” with Rudy usually ends about fifteen minutes into the ride, or whenever he makes an acceleration, whichever comes first. I mean, can I really call it “training with Rudy” when he’s not even breaking a sweat and I’ve pulled over and quit? Did we train together when he lazily pedaled away from a hundred idiots on the part of his training ride that was actually before his training ride, because if it had been his actual training ride we, like, would never have known he was there?

Same for the “racing with Rich” thing. Did I really race with him when I got shelled on the first climb? Were we really racing together when he was sprinting for first and I was sprunting for 86th? Were Charon and I in the same race when he was a tiny speck at the front and I was a flailing wanker barely hanging onto the tail end of the whip?

And if it’s that bad for me, what about the other bone idlers like Prez who are still attending esteem building classes in order to actually enter a Cat 2 or 35+ race? What about the wank fodder that gets diarrhea and breaks out in hives the night before the “big” showdown at CBR, then wets their bed so badly they catch cold and miss the race?

Cycling is a reality show, and you’re Snooki

The antics of the men and women who trundled off to Bend and whipped the snot out of the best amateurs in America, if truth be told, have nothing in common with the antics of the rest of us. It’s like having Rahsaan Bahati next to you on the New Pier Ride. He’s with you, but he’s not really with you.

The accomplishments of those who returned with jerseys and medals are incredible. They did what the rest of us wish we could do: Ride our bikes smarter and faster than anyone else in the country. Having them back in our midst is good for some ego fapping, but it’s kind of a bummer, too. If they put the wood to the best racers in America, what’s the math looking like that I’ll ever finish ahead of them?

Right.

Better dial up ol’ Russ back in Texas and let him know that my training partner just won nationals. Uh-huh. ‘Cause that’s just how I roll. Me and Prez, I mean. When we’re not crashing. Or getting dropped. Or ego fapping on the bricks.

Whoa!

September 10, 2012 § 14 Comments

It’s not every day that you get to see Ryan O’Neal groggily collecting his morning newspaper on PCH well past noon, looking like he lost a knife fight to a gallon of cheap tequila and shouting “Whoa!” in surprise as the speeding South Bay wankoton barreled by within two feet of his chintzy velour bathrobe and plastic slippers.

But then again, it’s not every day that you get up at 5:00 AM, have your first cup of coffee, prepare for the 115-mile beatdown with a small bowl of oatmeal, and rendezvous with 38 other wankers at the Center of the Known Universe amidst gorgeous weather offset by the rich blue of the placid Pacific Ocean.

Rules is rules

There were really only a couple of rules, and they were badly needed as the group had swelled to over seventy by the time we reached PCH. Rule 1: Don’t pollute the stunning oceanside panorama of the coast highway with an ugly outfit. Rule 2: Don’t show up on the group ride with shitty tires.

The “Looks Like a Pro Transformation Prize” was instantly awarded to Arkansas Traveler, he of the baseball cap-under-a-helmet-with-bloody-ass-hanging-out-from-shredded-shorts-fame. ArkTrav had put away the gimmecap with the 7-inch bill and replaced it with a svelte and stylish and old school cycling cap.

Fashion point one, check.

Next, he had discarded the old saggsalot jersey with spare pockets ample enough for a backup radiator, and had jettisoned the Brad House “wear ‘em ’til the bunghole shows through, then wear ‘em some more” bib shorts.

Fashion point two, check.

Finally, he had kitted up in what I still maintain is the best looking, most elegant, and well fitting kit on the road anywhere: The SPY weekender kit, which is cleaner and more rad than the racing outfit. It’s no surprise that both are the creation of Joe Yule, who has done more to beautify the highways and byways of California than the entire roadside garbage pickup division of CalTrans.

Now, about that shitty tire rule

The first tire casualty of the day was Cary the Elder, who flatted near Pepperdine and would have been left for dead had the Pilot not stopped to help change the flat, but more importantly, to tow him back up to the group…38 miles later.

The second tire casualty of the day was “She’s just now got good and broke in,” otherwise known as Ol’ Wrinkles, the man famous for using equipment until it either becomes so obsolete that tools no longer exist to repair it, or until it disintegrates from overuse and age and falls from the frame in a powder of rust. Ol’ Wrinkle’s first flat came on account of a “slice in his tire.”

Close examination revealed that indeed the tire was sliced…as are most tires with over 25,000 miles of heavy road wear. Closer examination revealed that the slice was actually about fifty slices, all of varying length. Closer examination still revealed that of all the tire products available to the cycling consumer, he had opted to go with the Trojan Papershell, a tire advertised by its Indonesian manufacturer as “Smooth and Thin as Your Second Skin.”

“Damn, Wrinkles,” several people said as they watched him insert the wrong kind of tube. “What are you riding a premium crit tire for on a road like this?”

“They’re the best cornering tire made.”

“Yeah, but when’s the last time you went around a corner at anything over 5 mph?”

After successfully loading the tube, the group got together to chase the main pack for the next hundred yards or so, when the tire flatted and he replaced the wrong tube with another wrong tube. After cleaning out the grupetto of their last CO2 cartridge and last spare tube, Ol’ Wrinkles did a u-ey and headed home.

Pearls before swine

Elron is one of those dudes who knows more about bike fit than you do, and consequently he never gives advice. Pros like Matt Goss get fitted by him when they come into town, so unlike all the other advice sausages out there, he feels zero need to show off.

Once in every rare while, however, he sees something so wrong and so bad and so fucked up that he can’t help himself.

About thirty miles into the ride, he came up to me. “Dude. Your saddle’s too low.”

“Oh really? It does feel kinda low. But I like a flat stroke at the bottom.”

“You should raise it.”

“How much?”

“Start with about three inches.”

Since I never travel with a wrench, we waited until our first stop at the Rock, where Elron raised my seat. “Man,” I said, “that’s a lot.”

“You’ll get more power on the down stroke now that your knees aren’t under your chin.”

And he was right.

Put your junk into the wind

After Cross Creek, our group yo-yo’ed with the tentative uncertainty of various people on the front, none of whom understood the key point behind being on the front: If you’re comfortable, everyone behind you is expending zero energy because of the draft. This contributed to a horrible accordion effect that was also occurring because the leaders didn’t know how to pick a steady pace and maintain it.

It was more mayhem and crossed wheels and raggedy bunchedy herdball bike slop than you see when they let loose the 150 kiddies at a crit for the one-lap children’s event. To make matters worse, when we rolled through Trancas someone dived into the parking lot at the filling station, even though it wasn’t an approved stop.

Sheep being sheep, we all followed until Douggie yelled “What the fuck? This isn’t an approved stop!” So those of us who hadn’t hit the head or gone on a candybar marauding mission turned back onto PCH, effectively splitting the group and losing a handful of our most trusted leaders, which included Knoll and Pablo.

In order to steady the pace I wound up in front, this time with Junkyard at my side, plodding into a stiff 20 mph headwind. We reached the Rock in tatters, getting help from Bucks, Kramer, and Long Beach Freddy Wayne. Wayne, who was fresh as a daisy towards the end of my 20-mile headwind effort, chirpily asked, “Hey, Wankster, there’s gotta be a story behind those pink socks!”

“Ungh,” I grunted.

“Let’s hear it!” he said, chirpily.

“I’ll…tellya…another…………time,” I said.

We all dismounted at the Rock, with half the contingent dashing off to the chainlink fence to pee and the other half assaulting Legit Girl when they found out she was traveling with 25,000 calories of energy food. I crawled to her on my knees. “Got food?”

“Gosh, yes! What would you like?”

“Anything.”

“What have you had so far?”

“Water.”

“But what have you been eating?”

“Water.”

“You can’t do a 120-mile ride on water! That’s unhealthy!”

I didn’t argue, but voraciously scarfed up the two little chocolate protein ball thingies that she flung my direction.

He who is always near but never quite at the front

By the time we got back to Marina del Rey, our group was down to about a dozen riders. At first I thought I was hallucinating when on the bike path Jensie, our German transplant, got on the front. A collective gasp went up, as one of the biggest shirkers in the wankoton not only hit the front but took fifteen or twenty pedal strokes.

“Oh my Dog!” shouted one rider.

“Quick! The camera!” shouted another.

“Call NBC News!” screamed a third.

Unfortunately, this was the one day I’d decided to ride without my GoPro, and before long Jensie had melted back into the anonymity of riding behind girls and elderly fellows with helmet mirrors. Inspired by this brazen display of on-the-frontery, a mere one mile from home, and after sitting in for a hundred miles, Eric of the South Bay Wheelpersons took a pull on Vista del Mar, ramping up the speed so that it kicked a couple of struggling, bonk-addled bikers out the back.

Once we reached the safety of the Center of the Known Universe, the survivors quaffed cold espresso drinks and reflected on another day in paradise. I’m sure it could have been better…maybe if it had been Tatum in that flimsy bathrobe instead of her dad?

Armstrong tots expelled from preschool

September 8, 2012 § 16 Comments

After the Chicago Marathon today rejected the 2012 entry application of seven-time Tour de France champion strippee Lance Armstrong, the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, announced that preschoolers Olivia Marie Armstrong (2), and Maxwell Edward Armstrong (3) would be expelled from the church school, effective immediately.

Reverend Bollixy Snead, acting principal of the preschool, announced the institution’s unprecedented step at a press conference held on the steps of the state capitol building. “The Chicago Marathon, sanctioned by U.S.A. Track and Field, is obligated to abide by the anti-doping codes enforced by WADA, USADA, and NASA,” said Reverend Snead. “We felt that as a precautionary measure our church should follow suit. He appears to be a very dangerous man.”

Bewildered classmates speak to national media

Tubby Williams, a classmate and best friend of Maxwell, or “Max,” burst into tears when he heard that he would no longer be able to sit next to his best friend. “But he’s my best fwiend!” wailed Mr. Williams.

Georgina Pettigrew, one of Olivia’s colleagues in the Totties & Potties after-school toilet training class, was similarly distraught. “We was gived a peanut M&M if we poopied in the potty!” she complained. “I wike the gween ones!”

Doping issue polarizes preschooler parents

Disgraced dean of the UT School of Law Larry Sager, whose son Knuckles attends Good Shepherd, was incredulous. “Okay, so they boot him out of some marathon in a freezing Midwestern city that no one lives in unless they have to. I get that. But kicking the tykes out of preschool? It’s guilt by association. They haven’t even started doping yet.”

Mildred Bulges, another parent, sharply disagreed. “Lance Armstrong is a murderer. I read on a Twitter blog Facebook social media thingy that he’s killed more people than Idi Amin. And you know what’s worse? He ruined that poor woman Betsy Andeu’s whole life. Just ruined it.”

A brief scuffle broke out when another parent pointed out that Andreu’s life was ruined long before her battle with Armstrong, as evidenced by the fact that she was already married to a professional cyclist. Said Dave Snibblington, whose son Biffy enjoyed chocolate milk breaks with Maxwell, “That broad married a pro cyclist. How much more of a fucked up life could she have? Come on.”

Cycling journalists weigh in on controversy

Bill Strickland, former Armstrong fanboy and current nuanced reporter of the inimitable complexity of life and cheating, was reached at his ashram and pilates retreat. “Expelling the children?” he asked. “Very gray. Fifty shades of gray, at least.” A muffled fapping sound was heard while he spoke.

Rupert Guinness, former Armstrong fanboy-turned-critic-once-everyone-else-turned-critic, spoke to PVCycling from his local pub. “Who? What? Fuck, I don’t know. Who cares? What does everyone else say I should think?”

Samuel Abt, disinterred from the local cemetery, was momentarily confused when informed of Armstrong’s current status as Tour de France champion strippee. “Well, of course he fooled me, like he fooled everyone. Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Longtime critics of Armstrong David Walsh and Paul Kimmage were reached as they worked their way through the seventy-fifth case of champagne since the USADA decision to strip Armstrong of everything, including his underwear. “‘E’s a murdrer!” roared Kimmage. “A fookin’ murdrer! E’s worse ‘n Stalin ‘n Hitler ‘n Pol Pot ‘n Victoria Principal all rolled into one bloody sausage! E’s killed our byootiful sport! Killed it! An’ his children an’ their children and their children ’til the bloody end of time should bear the mark, aye, the mark of the scarlet beastie cheater doper meanie!”

Walsh, although clearly supportive of the preschool’s decision, was more circumspect. “Clearly, his children are a danger to society simply by having his DNA, not to mention associating with him around the dinner table and such. As I’ve been telling people from day one, the man’s a cheat, but did they listen? Oh, no! ‘Walsh is a crank!’ they said. ‘Walsh is batty!’ they said. ‘Walsh doesn’t wear clean underwear!’ they said. Well, what are they saying now? Eh? Eh? Eh?”

Armstrong has until September 8 to appeal the expulsion. His legal team has indicated they are reviewing their options. According to spokesman Mark Fabiani, “Lance is a fighter. He fought cancer. He fought doping. He fought the Tour. He fought the French. He fought USADA. He knows he won those tours. His competitors know who won those tours. His teammates know who injected those blood bags. Lance’s children have never failed a test. Except that one ABC quiz they sprung on Max last week. And we got that anulled because he had a note from his mom.”

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