It’s a very nice sidewalk

November 4, 2014 § 10 Comments

I sat on the sidewalk, twisted up in the human pretzel that only comes when your quads, hamstrings, and calves all cramp at the same time. “Here, dude,” said Fireman. “Take these fuggin’ salt tablets and drink this water.”

I swallowed the tablets and drank. My legs knotted up even more, just as the wankers who had been shelled on the run-in to the finish of the 7th Mike Nosco Memorial ride whizzed by. They pointed and laughed, and they were right. Live by the attack, die by the attack.

The Nosco Ride is an amazing thing. Jack Nosco has taken the grief and loss of his brother’s death and transformed it into an event that today brought together almost 600 riders — on a Monday — to participate in a free, fully supported ride up and down the hills of the Santa Monica mountains. For participants who wanted to make a donation, and it seemed like almost everyone did, their contributions were heaped into a pile and given to two recipients suffering from life threatening diseases.

I don’t know how much money the event raised today, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that a host of sponsors joined in to make the event happen, and they all did it for no apparent financial benefit. They did it because it was a good thing to do.

Among the participants was Lance Armstrong. Road Bike Action magazine has long been one of his stalwart supporters, and as one of the major sponsors of the Nosco Ride they included him in the event. Many riders were excited to see him, and as near as I could tell he was just another rider, albeit one who rode up the dizzying pitch of Deer Creek at a blazing pace.

What was notable about his presence was its lack of significance. The ride was for the memory of Mike Nosco, and that’s what it was. With a killing pace out of the blocks, the brutal climb up Deer Creek, and follow-up punch-ups on Mullholland and Latigo, the 80 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing left everyone somewhat addled. At the end, the ride gave free, delicious Mexican food dinners — as much as you could eat — to the riders. Those who wanted to cap off their day with a beer could quaff free cans of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

The terrible difficulty of the ride means that there’s no training or fitness reason to do it more than once. But the unique feel of people coming together for a cause makes it special, and the realization that Jack Nosco has taken profound loss and turned it into good is an example for everyone. It’s the kind of ride you can do over and over again, even though each time you swear that this time will be your last.

Part of the good vibe of this ride is that most people seem to know the story of Mike and his premature death. You can tell that among the riders and the volunteers almost everyone has suffered the same kind of loss, or something very close to it. The kind of monument that Jack has created to his brother, a monument of giving and of good, is the kind of thing we all wish we could do for those we love who have died, but somehow we can’t. Being able to participate and be part of this event, and to contribute to it in whatever small way, is its own kind of gift.

At the feed stops, at the registration table, and at every sponsor tent, whenever you thanked people for making this event happen they all said the same thing: “No, thank you for coming.”

Thanks for the gift, Mike and Jack.

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The day the hardmen showed

November 2, 2014 § 27 Comments

I woke up yesterday and looked outside. It was the worst weather we have had in Southern California in over a year. The thermometer read a bitter 65 degrees, and the roads still had places that appeared to be wet, or at least damp. Twelve or eighteen raindrops pounded down, and a large cloud hung over the mountains.

These are the days that the hardmen greedily await, a day when we can disprove the calumnies spread about the softness, cowardice, and shickenchit nature of cyclists in the South Bay. I rummaged through my closet and took out my sturdiest, best insulated clothing. I drew on the armwarmers and wind vest, knowing that with these accoutrements I could weather any weather.

Sure enough, as I rolled down the hill to the start of the Donut Ride, the climate was even more terrible than I’d surmised. The wind in my face brought the temperature down to 60, or perhaps even 59 degrees. I shivered as I bit my lip. Drops of rain (I counted six) beat my face and eyes so hard I could barely see. The occasional roadside puddle required every bit of bike handling I had to keep from crashing. Parts of my bike got wet, and flecks of dirt and mud spattered onto my downtube.

I gritted my teeth and pedaled.

As I dropped down to the start, several minutes late, I saw the group coming towards me. It was as I expected. This awful combination of cool breeze, raindrops, and roadside puddles had kept all but the toughest tucked snugly into their beds. The usual sunny day contingent of 60 to 80 riders, decimated by the brutal cold and soul-drenching wet, was a tiny cadre of seven riders: The Wily Greek, Davy Dawg, PJ Pajamas, Cookie, some dude named Hector with a backpack, the Pilot, and I.

Although the first thirty minutes were run beneath sunny skies along dry roads, our bicycles became very dirty. No wonder the normally tough men and women of the South Bay had opted for breakfast and bex in sed. The effort and work it would take post ride to clean their bicycles, the terrible toll it would take on their fingers and wrists to hand-wring the dirty rain out of their kits, and the incredible labor it would take to clean their chains meant that only the craziest and hardiest would brave these bitter elements.

Wily kicked everyone in the gonads and road away at Trump, and just as we began the grueling ascent of the Switchbacks, the heavens loosed their fury. Rain began pouring down in an incredible wall, such a deluge as hasn’t been seen since the days of Noah. Each of us hunkered down in the pounding squall, feeling a handful of drops work their way through our rain vests as small splotches appeared on our sunglasses. The temperature plunged to 58 and our bodies froze to the core.

After a relentless, nonstop downpour of one full minute, we were each somewhat damp on our exposed legs, but we soldiered on. The descent was even more awful, with chills and biting winds cutting us to the core even though the temperature had bumped up to 65 degrees. Like the hardmen of Belgium and the iron soldiers of Roubaix, we pushed on down the hill and went home.

The entire ride lasted an incredible seventy minutes, each minute an eternity of suffering and misery. As I peeled off my somewhat damp clothing, soaked as it was with the frigid rain drops, I nodded in grim satisfaction to myself in the mirror: “It is the days like today,” I grunted, “that make the champions of tomorrow.”

END

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Helping the newbies

October 31, 2014 § 23 Comments

On the Donut Ride last Saturday there was a new face. He was a bigger guy, very smooth on the bike, wearing a nondescript kit. Smasher and Ollie were off the front, and gradually the chase group got smaller and smaller.

We hit the bottom of the Switchbacks and after a while it was just me, Newbie, and Toothdoc. Toothdoc is working on a Ph.D. in dentistry at USC and only rides once a week, thank dog. He’s small, fit, a very good climber, and always rides away from me with ease.

Newbie took a couple of very long pulls up the Switchbacks, and I helped him by sitting on his wheel and refusing to come through. He looked like he was in his late 20′s or early 30′s. I’d never seen him before. He was obviously a good rider, but would be too big to keep up with Toothdoc when we hit the short, steep little wall going up to the radar domes.

I scrambled hard on the wall to hang on. We could see Smasher and Ollie just ahead, which is kind of like saying we could see the Crab Nebulae. It didn’t necessarily mean we were ever going to reach it.

Toothdoc punched and I sagged like the old bag of skin, beer, and donuts that I am. He and Newbie pedaled away. I figured that it was a matter of minutes before Toothdoc punched again and Newbie would crack, hopefully enough for me to struggle onto his wheel. His size meant that unlike the usual cast of shrimps who lay waste on this 20-minute climb, I could actually get sheltered, kind of like sitting behind a barn door or Charon.

The twosome vanished from view, and when I eventually turned the corner just before the flat spot I was shocked to see Toothdoc looking like Newbie had given him a root canal with a rusty chain ring. Newbie was pedaling away, and almost caught Smasher and Ollie.

We regrouped at the college. “Good riding,” I said.

“Thanks,” said Newbie.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Robbie.”

“Do you mind if I call you Newbie?”

He laughed. “Not at all.”

“Good. Because I was gonna call you Newbie anyway.”

We descended, went through San Pedro, and started the next 20-minute ascent from Miraleste back up to the radar domes. Toothdoc had abandoned, and once we hit the first section of the climb in Better Homes, Ollie and Smasher were going full gas again. I hung onto Newbie’s wheel as he dragged me along, last in the line.

This time I hung onto Newbie as we punched up the wall, and made it to the top of the climb without getting shelled. Okay, I did get shelled. But only in the last 200m. “Man,” I said. “You climb like a beast for being such a big guy.”

“Thanks,” Newbie said. “But this isn’t really my forte. I’m struggling.” I noted that he hadn’t appeared yet to break a sweat.

We did another big regrouping and dropped down the hill, raced through Portuguese Bend, and chased down our own teammate, Smasher, who was off the front. It’s very pro when you’re a masters racer to chase down your teammate.

At the top of the Glass Church there were only six riders left, and Smasher attacked again. This time Ollie and I worked overtime to bring him back. Newbie had a funny look on his face, like, “Why are these idiots chasing down their own teammate?”

Ollie successfully brought Smasher back in the middle of the bump before the sprunt, and I attacked. When you’re extra pro you attack your teammate after catching him, but only if you’re sure that your attack will drop your other teammates and bring along the strongest guy in the group, in this case Newbie.

“Sprunt’s coming up,” I said.

“What?”

“The sprint.”

“Where is it?”

“I’ll tell you,” I said, but I didn’t add “after we pass it.”

Newbie put his head down and unleashed an acceleration that was inhuman. I suckily latched on and popped by just at the line. “There it was!” I shouted, raising my hand in victory.

Newbie grinned. “Good job, pal,” he said.

“You too,” I said. Then I gave him a little lecture about sprinting. He nodded at all the right times. It’s good to pass on your knowledge to those who are just starting out. This is the duty of the older generation. The ride ended and we all went our way.

On Thursday morning Tregillis was talking to Davy. “You going to the track this weekend?”

“Yeah,” said Davy.

“Have you seen Robbie Lea around?” said Tregillis. “I heard he’s in town.”

“Yeah,” said Davy. “He’s been at the track all week.”

The name “Robbie” rang a bell. “Who’s Robbie Lea?” I asked.

Tregillis and Davy looked at me as they often do, with a look that combines amazement at such ignorance and fear of appearing in the blog.

“You’re kidding, right?” Davy said.

“No. Who is he?”

“He’s America’s top Olympian on the track. More than two dozen national titles. He’s one of the most accomplished racers in the sport. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him.”

“Oh, him,” I said. “Yeah. I taught that guy how to ride on Saturday.”

END

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A bad time gone worse

October 30, 2014 § 17 Comments

For three years we enjoyed the New Pier Ride. But last week, a mortal blow was dealt to this mainstay morning ride in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Massive construction along Westchester Parkway meant that in addition to the normal avoidance of cars, crap in the road, and other bikers, we had to negotiate giant earthmoving equipment, massive trenches, construction workers, steel plates, ripped up pavement, plastic cones, and an entire parkway shrunk down to one tiny, narrow lane.

Many people, including me, decided that they would be taking a hiatus from the Tuesday-Thursday beatdown until the construction was finished. Some folks suggested a return to the Old Pier Ride, a classic urban fustercluck that included countless stoplights, lots of aggro morning commuters, and a deathly, screaming pedal along a narrow bike path in the marina.

Naaaah.

Then I got a note from Junkyard. It said something like, “Yo, Wanky. New route on Thursday around the golf course in PV. Four laps. Neutral descent. Finish on La Cuesta, with its 3-minute, 15% grade. Be there.”

At first it seemed crazy simply because it is so different from the NPR, which is flat. The loop around the golf course has three short, very punchy climbs, and that’s the opposite of what NPR aficionados want. In fact, the NPR is a place where pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness, can hang on due to the sucking draft of the 80+ riders barreling along a wide, flat parkway.

The illness of Junkyard’s route was that there would be nowhere to hide. The climbs weren’t long enough to select for “climbers,” but they weren’t easy enough to let the big and the lazy simply cruise over the difficulties by leveraging position and momentum.

At 6:35 AM we rolled out from Malaga Cove. One or two geniuses had left their headlights at home, but no matter. The crew consisted of Junkyard, Toronto, Tumbleweed, EA Sports, Inc., Cookie, Davy, Tregillis, South Bay Baby Seal, and me. “Let’s ride the first two laps neutral until we’re familiar with the course,” Junkyard advised.

We did in fact start at a neutral pace, but a hundred yards in we were going full-gas up PV North. Cookie made a groaning noise and popped. The next time anyone saw him, he was hanging over his top tube in the parking lot with his eyes spinning backwards in his head. When we crested the third and final riser at the golf course on lap one, only three riders were left. We regrouped and did another lap.

This time Davy and a couple of others opened a gap on PV North. Toronto closed the gap and then made an opportunistic attack at the bottom of the last climb. But then the transmission fell out of his chassis, a rod when flying through his engine block, and we didn’t see him again for a while.

By the end of the third lap Tumbleweed and Cookie had left in order to [go to work/ ride according to their proper off-season training plan/ do yoga]. Junkyard was shelled. Toronto was shelled. I was cracked.

On the final lap we hit the first climb up PV Drive hard. Then on Via Campesina, EA Sports, Inc. accelerated. Davy had taken a sabbatical and now I was about to do the same. Tregillis rolled by to bridge and I clawed onto his wheel. EA Sports, Inc. made it first to the top of the golf course, but unfortunately we had the beast of La Cuesta waiting. Tregillis hit the ascent and floated away, then caught EA Sports, Inc., and kept on floating.

I was so blown that even with EA Sports, Inc. paperboying up the climb I still couldn’t catch him. Atop La Cuesta we struggled and gasped and heaved.

Toronto joined us after a while. “My cleat kept wanting to come out of the pedal so I had to pedal just right,” he said, implying that but for the cleat issue things might have ended differently. Then he added, “Plus, I already rode hard and did some big climbs before we started.”

Junkyard trailed in, face and chest covered in sheet snot, eyes crossed, and strange sounds coming out of his mouth that sounded like English as it is spoken by wildebeests.

After a few moments we all agreed that it was a great course except that no one would ever want to do it. “Can you imagine the NPR crew showing up for this?” asked Junkyard.

“No,” I said. “I can’t.”

“And the whole thing was only 36 minutes,” he said. “Next week we’ll add two more laps. But the first lap will be neutral.”

We all looked at each other.

“Really,” said. “It will.”

END

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UCI blocks Armstrong participation in “Tots on Bikes” fundraiser

October 29, 2014 § 31 Comments

Brian Cookson, president of the UCI, announced today that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s planned participation in the annual “Tots on Bikes” fundraiser would not be permitted. “It’s quite simple,” said Cookson. “He cannot ride.”

When reached at his Austin villa, Armstrong was surprised at the ruling. “I wasn’t planning on riding,” he said. “We stand behind our kids and help them balance on a bicycle. It’s a father-and-kid event, not a bike race.”

Cycling in the South Bay reached Mr. Cookson while on holiday in front of the Berlin Reichstag, and spoke with him about Armstrong.

CitSB: Why can’t Lance go to this kiddie event? It seems pretty innocuous.

Cookson: Armstrong has been banned for life, and under the terms of his ban, he cannot do anything that relates to cycling. Nothing. This includes seemingly harmless activities such as standing in the aisle at Wal-Mart and shopping for a bicycle, much less actually coming into contact with young cyclists.

CitSB: It’s a bit of a stretch to call 3-year-old children “cyclists,” don’t you think?

BC: Not at all. These children are the grass roots. Simply being around them will send the message that the UCI tolerates drug cheats.

CitSB: What about all of the other drug cheats who still play prominent roles in the UCI, not to mention the coaching and management of the sport?

BC: Those drug cheats are different. They simply cheated. We must never forget that Lance stole the precious dreams of children, and Betsy.

CitSB: But how can the UCI block his participation in a private charity fundraiser?

BC: It’s quite simple, actually. The Tots on Bikes program receives its event insurance through USA Cycling, and therefore all anti-doping restrictions apply.

CitSB: So there’s going to be drug testing as well?

BC: Of course. You never know when a particularly sneaky infant will transfuse a few blood bags in order to win the “Proper Pedaler” ribbon.

CitSB: Is this really a wise use of the UCI’s resources? Hasn’t Lance suffered enough?

BC: Oh, not at all. We’re currently working on an agreement with the state of Texas, where he currently lives, to sell insurance to the state for one or two of its outdoor events. We believe that this will give us complete jurisdiction to control everything that Mr. Armstrong does for the rest of his life, including when and where he’s allowed to, you know, …

CitSB: Shit?

BC: I didn’t know if I could say that sort of thing in this publication.

CitSB: Right.

BC: We must never forget that Lance stole all of those precious childhood dreams and Betsy. No punishment is severe enough, and we must remain eternally vigilant that he is not allowed to corrupt the morals of our youth again.

CitSB: Like the Iglinsky brothers, who just got caught doping on the watch of ol’ doper Vinokourov?

BC: Exactly. Never again.

CitSB: And Roman Kreuziger, and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke?

BC: Right-o. Never again after them.

CitSB: Do you ever see a time when the lifetime ban might be lifted.

BC: Oh, absolutely.

CitSB: When?

BC: After he’s dead. Possibly.

CitSB: Possibly? How can you continue to ban a dead person?

BC: It’s in the terms of the anti-doping agreement. We can prohibit his corpse from participating in any UCI-authorized event. But I do foresee a time, perhaps in ten thousand years or so, when the ban could be lifted, that’s assuming he comes clean with the Truth and Reconciliation and Dicking Off Committee.

CitSB: How can he come clean? He’ll be dead.

BC: I suppose he should have thought about that before stealing all of those precious childhood dreams.

CitSB: And Betsy.

BC: And Betsy.

END

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Most amazing and incredible cycling award ceremony ever

October 28, 2014 § 19 Comments

On Saturday night we celebrated the 2nd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. It’s not often that you get to spend an evening with your best friends, surrounded by mediocre food, great beer, and a six-foot inflatable plastic penis. But when you do, you remember it.

The planning end of things was going smoothly. Over 120 cyclists had RSVP’d, which meant that ten would show up and the other 150 would be people who hadn’t RSPV’d but who remembered about it that morning and didn’t have anything better to do. Those who had something better to do, which was pretty much everyone, did it, only to find out that what they were doing wasn’t really all that fun.

The event was held at On the Rocks, a miserable, terrible place with bad service and inept management that was a perfect match for our bizarre collection of misfits and drunks. Despite having made arrangements a month in advance, and checking up with the manager several times, we got a call on Friday night wanting to know if we were still going to have our event on “Sunday.”

“Uh, no.”

“Cancelling, huh?”

“Uh, no.”

“No?”

“No. We’ll be there on Saturday, like we told you.”

“Saturday?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.” Uncomfortable silence. “Well, there’s a football party that will be going on at the same time out there on the back patio with you but I guess it will be over by around 6:30 or so, so I guess it’s no problem.”

We arrived at 5:00, an hour beforehand to set up, start drinking early, and hang up the Wanky Bedsheet only to find that the football party was a fairly large group of LSU fans watching their beloved football team beat the other team with a miraculous array of touchdowns, touch-ups, base hits, penalty kicks, and impressive moves with their football bats. The reason that the management thought it would be “no problem” is because when we told them we’d have well over a hundred and fifty cyclists in attendance, they heard the word “cyclists” and stopped listening, just like the double-cheeseburger cagers who see cyclists and stop giving a fyling fluck.

Fortunately, we were all used to being treated like shit and being ignored, so On the Rocks was quite the natural venue. The only thing that wasn’t all right was the beer, which we’d ordered in advance.

“You have our two kegs?” I asked.

“What kegs?” asked the manager.

“The ones I ordered.”

“Oh, those. You didn’t bring them with you?” It was a novel response, really, and took a pretty clever wit to ask a guest to your bar if he’d brought his own kegs.

But I had to say, “No. I don’t usually travel with my two, 100-pound aluminum beer kegs unless I’m on my bicycle, and tonight I drove.”

Six or seven IQ points rallied across the thick forehead of the manager, who then said, “Well, I think I may have a couple in the back.” Quite a relief it was, to know that a sports bar had beer, so I paid for the kegs and got to work immediately emptying them. Since we weren’t paying a room fee, I was underwriting the cost of the kegs and the bar would make its money by charging $2 a glass — a great deal for the riders who’d get to guzzle premium Strand Brewing Co.’s 24th Street Ale for a couple of bucks, and a great deal for the bar, who would sell two kegs guaranteed and get to keep whatever didn’t get drunk.

The bar was very happy at this clever deal because as the cyclists trickled in, among them Smasher and Boozy, it was obvious that this wasn’t a crowd that could put much of a dent in two full kegs of six-percent beer. Had the manager Googled Smasher and Boozy he would have known that the only thing he’d have left in his kegs by the end of the night was oxygen.

Shortly thereafter the swag wagon from SPY Optic showed up, carting huge boxes of t-shirts, gimme caps, stickers, wristbands for the beer, and several thousand dollars’ worth of their best performance eyewear to hand out to award recipients. The t-shirts were for the entire staff of On the Rocks, including the kitchen staff, so we could fly the SPY colors throughout the bar.

One by one the classy employees at On the Rocks came over, picked up the t-shirts and caps, then went into the back and stuffed the swag into their purses. Niiiiiiiice!

Finally, New Girl arrived with a giant cake that was bigger than Dallas and decorated with a Wanky Awards motif because nothing tastes better with beer than cake. It was, after the six-foot penis and the martini glass with a plastic penis inside courtesy of Pablo, the most awesome prop of the evening, and unlike the penises, it tasted great.

As things were getting underway, the giant inflatable penis was wreaking havoc with planning, as no one could get it properly blown up. One after another, valiant cyclists with giant lungs would wrap their lips around the giant penis and blow, but to no avail. Finally a man among men, none other than A-Trav, took over, stuffed the cock into his mouth, and blew it like no cock has ever been blown (up) before. With the big dick swollen and standing tall, the party could begin.

Unlike the inaugural awards in 2013, when everything was completely made up on the spur of the moment, the level of high expectations for 2014 had meant that I’d meticulously scripted the entire event and left no detail unplanned. However, in the two hours before we started handing out the awards, I was forced to consume too many fermented recovery drinks, and forgot what I was supposed to say or do.

As I staggered to the front and the PA system was ignited, it turned out that there was nothing to worry about. The LSU fans were so busy screaming and roaring and bucking each other in the futt that nothing anyone said over the PA could be heard beyond the first row of attendees. We began by honoring the awardees from 2013, a process that involved Sausage going through the crowd and hanging a big cardboard star on Mardi Gras beads around the necks of the recipients, along with a sticker that noted their particular distinction.

Next, the Mayor of the South Bay, Iron Mike, presented the Godfather with a bottle of wine for the Godfather’s accomplishments and contributions to stuff. The bottle, a 15-year-old Opus cabernet, was worth more than the net assets of the entire assemblage of cyclists, which is to say $45.87. The Godfather gave a beautiful and moving speech that was drowned out by the LSU fig puckers, who screamed, shat themselves, and drizzled cheap beer from their armpits each time the team scored another grand slam.

According to the vague notes I could halfway make out on my damp note cards which smelled vaguely like Strand Brewing Co.’s 24th Street Ale, I gave thanks to all of those who were kind enough to help make the event happen yet smart enough to confiscate all cell phone cameras before standing next to the inflatable penis. Most concerned was one of the podium strippers, whose father is up for re-election in Kentucky in a few days, and who had said that if any of the pictures with the big dick and the judge’s daughter showed up on the Internet before November 5th, there would be some unexplained disappearances in Southern California the following week.

We thanked Joel Elliott for the beer from Strand, and we thanked SPY Optic for the recipient awards and for giving the staff at On the Rocks something to sell to their friends and/or customers to augment the night’s tips. In keeping with the spirit of too much liquor, and not enough time, Ole Smokey Mountain Moonshine had donated a custom jar of moonshine for each award recipient.

Although everyone was ordered not to drink their award on the premises, the clogged gutters around three a.m. showed that many ignored this sage advice.

Next, an old fedora was passed around to collect money for a rider. Several hundred dollars, a couple of bad checks, and whole bunch of I.O.U.’s were donated, showing the incredible generosity of the cycling community. Also in the hat was a 100 dollar bill, which must have been donated by the Mayor, since he’s the only cyclist who has a hundred dollars, much less carries it around in his pocket.

Since the rider who had hand-crafted the Wanky Awards last year — beautiful painted horseshoes on gorgeous blocks of wood with embossed nameplates — was unable to attend, the recipients were not going to get their coveted physical award. However, Manslaughter leaped into the breach, and completed all 20 plaques in a frenzy of artistry, good taste, and beer that gave each plaque an amazingly unique look, like the heads of babies who are delivered after difficult, 46-hour labors that involve forceps and lots of pulling and yanking and squashing.

In other words, they were beautiful.

Some attendees who were unfamiliar with the Wanky Awards wanted to know “what they were all about.” So I told them. These awards are about community. Friends and enemies. Fights and reconciliations. Laughing at ourselves. Saying thanks. Showing compassion when it’s hardest to show. Encouraging our friends. Supporting those who have lost a loved one, filing restraining orders, and making fun of Prez.

What we are is a family. And what is a family? It is a group of people who are more or less continually mad at each other. Yet despite being mad, we are also often on medication, which makes the madness easier to bear and sometimes even comes across as happiness. Those in our extended cycling family not on medication were in rehab, and could not be with us.

As one big dysfunctional family, the Wankys are an evening where we can reach across the aisle, even if it’s only to steal the other person’s drink when she’s not looking or get the phone number of some little cutie while our wife is drunk and hitting on some guy. Mrs. WM showed up dressed as a naughty nun, but I’m sure that was a coincidence. Most of all the Wankys are a time when we can forget our grudges for an evening, if only so that we can forge newer, stronger, more long-lasting grudges, grudges that, we can only hope, will last forever.

Speaking of grudges, no award ceremony could ever exist without disappointment. In most award ceremonies, where people are distinguished for their accomplishments, those who don’t receive the trinket or, dog forbid, even get nominated, attendees often go home feeling ashamed, angry, left out, embarrassed, and hurt. Fortunately, at this award ceremony people felt that way even if they did get an award. So, as Knoll would say, there’s that.

A note on the award selection committee: There were four members: Me, Olive, Stanley, Stella, and Spanky. Olive and Spanky (the Chihuahuas) generally voted as a block, whereas Stella and Spanky (the bulldogs), were more independent. I cast the tie-breaker when votes were evenly split. Selections were made based on nominations that people emailed in or on strange faces and names that came to me in the dead of night.

The key to the Wankys is, of course, that you must be present to win. People who begged, lied, outrageously self-promoted, offered sex, beer, money, or free tires got preference. People who let their actions speak for themselves and hoped they would be rewarded for their modesty were essentially ignored. If you weren’t selected this year, now you know why, and there’s always next year, and yes, I accept PayPal.

With the Wanky Bedsheet hung across the fence, the penis fully inflated, the podium strippers all lined up, the crowd thoroughly hammered, and the LSU fig puckers humping their empty pitchers of Miller Lite, we could finally begin. And we did.

The award categories and awardees were as follows. Sit down, or click over to your favorite clothing-optional web site; this is gonna be a long one.

Mad Dog Award for Best Advocate: Greg Seyranian for his role in “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Runners-up
Eric Bruins for his role in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Gary Cziko for his role in “Dr. Strangelove”

Greg was instrumental in getting the critical mass for the Big Orange weekend rides on PCH that eventually changed the entire way that the CHP and LA Sheriff’s Department enforce the law on this roadway. What was once a terrifying, glass-and-debris-filled fustercluck of a ride has now become the world’s best bike lane thanks to Greg’s leadership and advocacy. Groups of cyclists on this extraordinarily beautiful road no longer have to hug the gutter, dodge parked cars, opened doors, garbage pails, and Cher, and can instead take the lane and ride safely and legally without fear of police persecution. Greg’s leadership is one of the most impressive examples of bike advocacy ever, and it affects thousands of people every single week.

Eric Bruins was an equally instrumental advocate, but rather than duking it out with Greg in a special mud pit we had designed for the occasion, he was unable to attend due to a last-minute emergency that involved riding his bike to San Diego and having a legitimately good time.

Gary Cziko has also provide incredible support for the advocacy efforts on PCH and through his continual contributions to the CABO listserv, where he has quickly become one of California’s leading advocates on bicycle law, safety, and training. Plus, he has that awesome dress shirt with the pizza stains on it.

I Can Get it Cheaper on The Internet Award for Best Bike Shop: Peyton Cooke for his role in “Beer Goggles”
Runners-up
Ted’s Manhattan Beach Cycles for its role in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Sprocket Cycles for its role in “Saturday Night Fever”

Peyton is best known for being available any time of the day or night that doesn’t conflict with Happy Hour to help fix your bike (Happy Hour generally runs from noon to midnight, Mon – Sun). He has a private garage conveniently located behind Strand Brewing Co., where he can get your bike needs taken care of while you swill IPA at the bar.

Ted’s Manhattan Beach Cycles is owned by someone not named Ted — Manny Felix, one of the best mechanics and shop proprietors in the South Bay, is the go-to guy for people in and around Manhattan Beach for sales, service, and some of the funniest stories ever.

Sprocket Cycles, located in Redondo Beach and run by Paul Che, is another superlative bike shop where you can get all of your cycling needs taken care of as long as they’re legal.

Whippersnapper Award for Best Young Rider: Diego Binatena for his role in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”
Runners-up
Sam Warford for his role in “A Bridge Too Far”
Kristabel Doebel-Hickock (self-nominated) for her role in “Miss Bossypants”

Diego won this award in 2013, and followed up again as a Wanky Award recipient in 2014 with his fantastic race results which landed him a pro contract for 2015 with the Hagens-Berman U-23 pro cycling team. I and several others were hoping for a pro contract on their O-50 pro cycling team, but so far I’ve heard zip. Diego is also an Eagle Scout and an amazingly well-mannered young man considering how much of his life he’s spent around cyclists.

Sam Warford had a breakout year, upgrading from Cat 15 to Cat 1 in the space of two seasons. Along with impressive race results this year, the 20-year-old will be riding for the SPY Optic Pro-1-2 team in 2015. Sam is a soft-spoken and very kind young man, plus he will tear your lucking fegs off.

Kristabel, otherwise known as “Tink,” nominated herself for this award in an excellent display of shameless self-aggrandizement, for which she gets major kudos. The failure to offer sex or money eliminated her chances of winning this competition, but in her first full year as a pro she was recognized as the best young rider at some huge pro race in Philly.

Jared the Subway Dude Award for Person Most Transformed by Cycling: Jonathan Paris for his role in “Fast Food Nation”
Runners-up
Michael Barraclough for his role in “Meatballs”
Robert Efthimos for his role in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”

Jonathan used to live on cheeseburgers and in the winter he survived cold temperatures with his deep layer of blubber. Then, a couple of years ago, he became vegan and started riding his bike. Aside from a famous near-fistfight over a peanut butter sandwich after he’d gone without food for a few hours, Jonathan is a wonderful poster child for how cycling can change your life for the better. Now, instead of hanging out at McDonald’s, he hangs out at Starbucks when he’s not ripping off your lucking fegs.

Michael Barraclough is another rider who has reinvented himself and spared the lives of thousands of poor baby cheeseburgers by focusing on a healthy lifestyle and also cycling. He’s a great-natured guy who everyone loves to ride with and who encourages others to give it their best.

Robert Efthimos found cycling and in the space of a few short years went from being a normal, successful, well-adjusted man at a high-powered law firm to a guy who takes videos of sweaty men on bikes. We’re still trying to put a positive spin on it in negotiations with his lovely wife.

Potty Trained Award for Most Improved: Peta Takai for her role in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
Runners-up
Tom Hall for his role as Taz the Tasmanian Devil in “Looney Toons’s Devil May Hare”
James Cowan for his role in “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby”

When Peta arrived in the South Bay a couple of years ago, many people thought she was “PETA,” the animal rights organization. However, when they learned how to say her name properly (rhymes with “meta”), it took two full years to understand anything she said because she spoke with that funny Kiwi accent. In addition to mastering California English, she has also become an accomplished racer and super fun person to have in the peloton.

Tom Hall rocketed up through the wanker ranks in the space of a short year, but has not lived in LA long enough for us to crack his Tasmanian code. He seems to be a nice fellow, and can certainly rip your lucking fegs off, but until we can actually understand what he’s saying, the jury’s still out.

James Cowan is yet another linguistically-challenged South Bay rider who hails from the land of bangers and rash, blood pudding, and a queen who even in her best days looked like a dishrag wearing the world’s ugliest hat collection. James has improved dramatically and is one of the NPR riders who can always be counted on to hammer at the front until he cracks. That used to be, like, immediately. Not any more.

Gang of Idiots Award for Best Cycling Club: Wonton Heavy Industries, LLC for its role in “The China Syndrome”
Runners-up
Big Orange for its role in “Police Academy”
SPY Elite Cycling Team for its role in “Bad News Bears”

This award was pretty much sewn up well in advance by Big Orange due a corrupt, incestuous relationship with the Wanky Awards’ chief organizer in which everything is decided in secret, on the down-low, and in contravention of most laws and all good morals. However, at the last minute Wonton Heavy Industries papered Wanky’s inbox with the most disgusting, blatant, self-serving, shameless slew of self-promoting shit that has ever been seen. So pathetic and groveling and lacking in even a shred of modesty were these attempts that Wonton easily beat out Big Orange and staged a come-from-behind even more dramatic than that being practiced by the LSU fig puckers across the way.

Big O had this one in the bag; their open door policy has brought in more riders and has helped make the roads safer for cyclists than any other club. They mentor, provide financial support for racers, and are the epitome of a friendly roadie club — something that is generally an oxymoron. Still, it was the Wonton come-from-behind that won the day.

SPY Elite Cycling Team was a distant third, as most of its riders didn’t even bother to show up. Oh, well! We still had a frothy time on Sunday morning when MMX and Phil Tinstman obliterated the Kettle Ride, averaging 457 watts from Temescal to Cross Creek.

Multitasker Award for Best Rider in Multiple Disciplines: Marilyne Fichante for her role in “The French Connection”
Runners-up
Jeff Bryant his role in “The Perfect Storm”
Jon Davy for his role in “Every Which Way but Loose”

Frenchy is the only Wanky recipient to be stripped of her award immediately after getting it. We screwed up the nameplate somehow, but when we figured out the problem we gave the plaque back. Frenchy’s excellence on the road, in MTB, and in cyclocross made her a natural recipient, plus her cute French accent.

Jeff Bryant was out somewhere, probably riding 100 miles at 28 miles an hour and then realizing that he’d forgotten to turn around at mile 50 so his 100-miler was now a 200-miler.

Jon Davy, who won his first national title on the track this year, couldn’t come because it was a thoroughly bad environment.

Wanker of the Year: Stathis Sakellariadsi for his role in “Zorba the Greek”
Runners-up
Brad House for his role in “Psycho”
Seth Davidson for his role in “Strange Brew”

Stathis begged for this award, and the morning of the ceremony he said that if he were given something besides Wanker of the Year then he would still give his WOTY speech. So he got it, commemorating the zillions of blown lights on the NPR, billions of “the look,” and dragging those on his wheel over to the yellow line so they can’t get a draft. Of course, he’s also one of the fastest riders around …

Brad, who won the award in 2013, was renominated on the strength of his acceptance speech in 2013, something we’re all still trying to un-hear and dis-remember.

I got the most votes for WOTY, but Spanky, Stella, Olive, and Stanley enforced the rule that “Wanky can’t get a Wanky.” So sad.

Money Down a Rathole Award for Best Promoter: SPY Optic for its role in “Inglorious Basterds”
Runners-up
Chris Lotts for his role in “Fred Claus”
Dorothy Wong for her role in “Rough Riders”

Okay, my fingers are falling off and I’m barely halfway through. SPY got this for the BWR, the SPYclocross series, the thousands it has donated in merchandise, marketing, and manpower to promote and support races, and for the countless teams it has sponsored. Most importantly, Michael Marckx is a friend among friends, and I’d have found a way to distinguish SPY no matter what.

Chris deserved an award, but he was at the phat pharm this weekend.

Dorothy was promoting a race. Plus, I’m pretty sure she’s not a drunk.

NPR Champ: Suzanne Sonye for her role in “Over the Top”
Runners-up
Eric Anderson for his role in “Raging Bull”
Cameron Khoury for his role in “Bridesmaids”

Suze is an icon, a champion, and a woman of strong opinions. She also won a Wanky in 2013 for Hard Woman of the Year. We love Suze even when she’s telling us we’re shull of fit, mostly because we are. She has mentored countless cyclists and keeps us honest. Sort of.

EA Sports, Inc., won the NPR Champ award last year, so this year he had to be satisfied with the little cardboard star.

Cameron is an up-and-coming youngster who has a great sprunt and is slowly finding his way towards the front. Occasionally.

Donut Champ: Derek Brauch for his role in “The Spy Who [didn’t] Love Me”
Runners-up
Stathis Sakellariadis for his role in “To Live and Die in LA”
Keven Sandoval for his role in “Breaking Away”

Derek is a fixture on the Donut and one of the best all-around racers in SoCal. He is canny, a great clumber, and has one of the best accelerations around, which makes him a superb leadout. On the Donut he’s always one of the last ones standing, and was one of the first to support the Great Alley Detour, which has now been more or less abandoned by wankers everywhere.

Stathis couldn’t get two Wankys in 2014 because last year he didn’t show up to collect his KOM and Donut Champ awards.

Keven is always a factor on the Donut. A prime factor, which means he can only be divided by himself.

Pin it On Bitch Award for Best Male Racer: Charon Smith for his role in “The Passion of the Christ”
Runners-up
Aaron Wimberley for his role in “The Fast and the Furious”
Robert Frank for his role in “No Country for Old Men”

Charon won a ton of races this year and did it with class. He’s a mentor, a coach, a gentle guy, and a great competitor. Kind of makes you wonder what he’s doing in cycling. Next year he is poised to inflict even more damage with an even stronger, faster team than in 2014.

Aaron is one of the best racers in SoCal, but he raced against Charon most of the year. Aaron is quick, has no equal in bike handling skills except for his teammate John Wike, and knows exactly how to read a race. Of course so does everyone else in the 35+ category. You read it like this: “Watch Charon.”

Robert Frank raced way beyond his 47 years by completing most of the elite men’s national road race championship, and absolutely slaying throughout the year.

You’ve Been Chicked Award for Best Female Racer: Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, again self-nominated, for her role in “Twiggy”
Runners-up
Lauren Mulwitz for her role in “Slaying the Badger”
Emily Georgeson for her role in “Night of the Living Carrots”

Okay, I’m totally done typing this thing and can’t imagine that anyone is still reading. If you are, my condolences. Tink is a pro and she won the queen stage at the Cascade Classic. ‘Nuff said.

Lauren has won in multiple disciplines this year and is one of the best up-and-coming racers.

Emily is incredibly talented, trains hard, and is very race savvy. She has had very good results this year; look for a break-out year in 2015.

Pay it Forward Award for Best All-Around Rider: Robert Efthimos for his role in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
Runners-up
Joel Elliott for his role in “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”
Chris Gregory for her role in “New Girl”

Robert dedicates time and energy to make our cycling community great. He takes and posts videos, helps organize clubs and events, and is a reasoned head in a community of deadheads, hotheads, and boneheads. He makes us all look good. As good as we can be, anyway.

Joel brews beer. He shares it. What else do I need to say?

Chris is always there to help. She’s the first one to say “yes,” and never complains, even though dog knows there’s a lot to complain about. She’s also one of the best podium strippers in the business, and did a great year in 2014 as well as in 2013.

Crashtacular Fred Award: Heather Somebody for her Broken Arm

This one was weird. We weren’t going to give out the award because the winner couldn’t attend. But at the last minute some gal with a broken arm dashed up and said “Gotta be present to win, I’m present, and I’m winning!” and she flashed her arm in a cast and took the award. If we’d had bouncers we’d have called them, but instead we were so impressed by her brass balls that we relinquished the plaque along with SPY wear and Ole Smokey Mountain Moonshine. She will treasure the beautiful twisted horseshoe splashed in blood and wrapped in wound netting that was so artistically designed by Manslaughter.

KOM Award for Most of Life Wasted on Strava: Lane Reid for his role in “The Losers”

Runners-up
Brian Perkins – Lifetime Strava Achievement Award – for his role in “Wasteland”
Miko Espanol for his role in “The Longest Mile”

Lane has entered the hall of shame as a two-time loser, having won the Strava award in 2013 as well.

“Tree” Perkins was out chasing a KOM and couldn’t attend.

Miko logged 1,000,000 miles of vertical climbing on Strava, proving his eligibility for medical treatment.

Tougher than Nails and Broken Glass or HTFU Award: Phil Tinstman for his role in “The Eiger Sanction”
Runners-up
MMX for his role in “Dirty Harry”
Pete Smith for his role in “The Smurfs”

Phil won the Beverly Hills Grand Fondo, which will likely qualify him for master’s worlds in September. He also turned in amazing rides on the BWR and won a bunch of tough road races. Hard dude, for sure.

Michael Marckx, perennial tough guy, wasn’t as tough as Phil.

Pete Smith, who seems like a gentle fellow until you see him on the bike, was a close third.

Larger than Life Award: David Perez for his role in “Brokeback Mountain”
Runners-up
Tony Manzella for his role in “Godzilla”
Greg Leibert for his role in “Up”

Prez. The man. The legend. The Puerto Rican fashion stylista salsa dancer sprunter crash expert … gone this year due to a job (cyclists can look up that word on Google), Prez is back in black! And green/yellow/purple/orange, etc.

Tony Manzella. Dude. Fere the whuck were you?

Greg Leibert wins too many awards. Gotta give some oxygen to the mere mortals. One of the best people ever and a friend among friends, it brokeback my heart to see you not get another award.

For Better or Worse, Mostly Worse Award for Best Spouse/SO: Sherri Foxworthy for her role in “The Dukes of Hazzard”
Runners-up
Jami Tschetter for her role in “Trophy Wife”
Jeanette Seyranian for her role in “Gone with the Wind”

Don’t worry Sherri, no penis pictures will be posted until after the judge’s erection on November 4. Sherri is the patron saint of wankers who hang around the shop complaining about all the sand in their shorts. She puts up with more shit on a daily basis than a manure wholesaler. And always with a smile and a well-placed curse word!

Jami is the ultimate bike racer widow. She goes to the races, puts up with her hubby’s obsession, and pretends to be interested in the junior high school drama. Best of all, she loves beer and she can DANCE!

Saint Jeanette has performed various miracles related to putting up with cyclists, and the Vatican is simply awaiting confirmation of the one where she turned water into carbo replacement drink before she is officially beatified.

Ian Davidson South Bay Rider of the Year: Kevin Phillips for his role in “The Natural”
Runners-up
Greg Seyranian for his role in “The Pied Piper”
David Miller for his role in “Dodgeball”

Kevin’s got it all. Natural talent, incredible work ethic, tactical wits, and the most important thing of all — a fantastic sense of humor. Kevin has been the leader of the South Bay for years and has influenced hundreds of riders with his unique brand of friendliness, skill, and decency. Plus he’s won a ton of national titles and held the hour record. Little stuff like that.

Greg has already been written about and crapcakes, I’m tired.

David Miller is going places, and prison isn’t one of them. This year he turned in amazing performances on the bike and showed himself as one of the most affable, decent people in the peloton — in addition to being a leader. Your turn is coming, wanker, but you need to focus a bit more on bribing the Chihuahuas. You had the bulldogs, but Olive and Stanley split the vote.

That’s it folks, until next year. Thank you!

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L’intervale

October 27, 2014 § 10 Comments

A few weeks ago I was hanging on for dear life as Jean-Louis, the young Frenchy phenom, dragged me up to the Domes. One by one our companions faltered, then softened, then were smeared on the climb like quiescent bug guts.

He slowed down towards the end and generously let me hang on. At the top I heaved and spit and gasped. If Jean-Louis were one of my kids, he’d be the third-oldest. “You do a good ride,” he smiled.

“Urgle,” I answered.

“Eh?”

“Urgle. Thanks.”

“Oh, yes, eet eez nossing. You do a good ride. How old are you?” He wasn’t even sweating.

“I turn 51 in December,” I said, trying to make myself as old as possible.

“Really? Zat is so old. You are riding very good. Eet eez easy to tell here in America ze riders who do ze intervals. Zey have ze second punch.”

“Damn,” I thought to myself, recalling an interval that I once did back in ’87. “I better start doing some intervals.”

I live atop a hill that is the perfect interval climb. It’s not too steep, it’s about 20 minutes long, and it has varying pitches. I always climb it slowly because I am slow. However, with Jean-Louis’s comment as a motivation, I resolved to use this daily slog as my daily interval.

Riding without a power meter or heart strap or lately even a watch, my only way to measure the effort is perceived exertion. Since I generally perceive all exertion as painful, it shouldn’t be too hard, I thought, to turn my daily slow slog into a slightly less slow slog that would qualify as a JLFI, or “Jean-Louis French Interval.”

After a few weeks I noticed that indeed, despite my flubbery tummy, bad posture, and general weakness, that one daily interval was making me faster. Without any way to measure it, though, all of the improvement was in my head, where I do my best riding anyway.

Today as my pal and I were returning from a brutal bike path ride to Santa Monica, where we bopped into Phil’s Coffee and paid $4 for something that, had we made it at home, would have cost 25 cents, a couple of Hop-in Wankers jumped on our wheel in Manhattan Beach. They snuggled up into our draft and didn’t say a word.

In Hermosa we stopped at the light. I turned to HIW #1. “Hi,” I said. “What’s your name?”

“Stacy,” he said.

“That’s a girl’s name, isn’t it?” I asked.

HIW #2 didn’t say anything because he was focusing on his track stand, which all pro Cat 3′s do at the Hermosa Pier stoplight because of the late fall thongs who might be watching. HIW #2 was wearing a POC helmet, POC glasses, POC jersey, POC bibs, and POC socks, astraddle a Ritte van Vlaanderen frame.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

HIW #2 took a break from his track stand. “Kyle.”

Kyle moved to the fore and I dropped back with Stacy. “Man,” he said. “This wind today is awful.”

“How would you know? You’ve been sitting on a wheel for the last six miles.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but I usually ride alone.”

We came to the short climb up by Rat Beach. Pal and I and POCleberry upped the pace. I got out of the saddle and grunted. Stacy got out of the saddle too, but he didn’t grunt, his rear derailleur did. It had apparently not had much force put on it over the course of its 25-year lifespan.

A massive pop-and-sproing emanated from his drivetrain. He looked down just in time to see his bike fall apart. We kept going and didn’t see him again.

In a moment we had reached the bottom of Malaga Cove, the starting point of my JLFI. “Poor old POCleberry,” I said. “I’m gonna ride him off my wheel.”

We hit the lower slope and I twisted the cranks. After a couple of minutes I wasn’t just on the rivet, the rivets were being nailed into my balls. Pal rolled up to me. “Hey, dude,” he said. “Gotta turn off here.”

“Bye,” I gasped.

POCleberry

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