September 6, 2014 § 20 Comments
Shimano Corp. revealed at Interbike today in Las Vegas that it is teaming up with Garmin to create the world’s first integrated computer-bike control system.
“We have the technology to put the computer controls directly into the levers,” said chief engineer Shin Hayata, “and Garmin is the perfect partner. This allows them to reduce the size of the onboard computer as well.”
In addition to data control, the next-generation Shimano Di-3 Unilever will also incorporate a power meter as part of the bottom bracket. According to assistant lead engineer Haruo Nakajima, “More and more, cycling is a data-driven activity at all levels. Instead of having different components by different manufacturers that have to be synched, the Di-3 Unilever will be a truly all-in-one experience with a continuous wireless Strava or Garmin Connect upload that lets you read your KOM’s, PR’s, and more importantly, the data of other riders in realtime, as you ride.”
Perhaps most revolutionary for the average cyclist, the Di-3 will also include on-board controls that allow riders to instantly access email, bank accounts, and social media networks such as Facebag, Tinder, Grinder, and Slither. Marketing and technical outreach director Akiko Fuji explains: “Cycling is quickly becoming an extension of our daily life, and research shows that people become anxious when they are away from home on long bike rides, most of which last an average of 35 minutes. Our Fully Integrated Technology System [FITS] lets customers work, answer emails, balance their checkbook, and check the kids’ homework while they’re riding. It really redefines the word ‘fun.'”
Not everyone at Interbike was thrilled with the new Di-3 Unilever. “What’s next, an automatic tampon changer?” snarled Road Bike Action Guns and Lance Magazine technical editor Smithy Wesson. “Bikes were made for pedaling and for defending one’s home against abortion providers. This takes away from the essence of cycling although we expect massive ad buys as a result, which is a good thing.”
Fuji disagreed. “Cycling has become too difficult for most Americans,” she said. “With our FITS system, which will eventually utilize electronic hub-assist so that riders don’t have to pedal too hard, more people will be exposed to the wonderful world of bicycling. With direct downloads to Netflix and drone robots to do the actual pedaling in the Di-4 model, people can enjoy cycling on the couch, which is much safer than actually riding in traffic.”
Noted philosopher and bicycle maker Richard Sachs rolled his eyes when asked about the latest technical improvements. Speaking from a cave filled with hammers and other crude Paleolithic tools in the Massachusetts woods, Sachs claimed that “Bikes is bikes, stupid,” and asserted that “It is doubtful that having someone else ride for you can be considered ‘cycling.'”
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September 4, 2014 § 3 Comments
There are many linguistic theories on how the Welsh language developed into an unpronounceable stew of jawbreaking consonants, but the most favored explanation is that after centuries of toothlessness the people of Wales simply gave up on vowels. This explains the difficulty that outsiders have in pronouncing names like “Aberystwyth.”
I won’t suggest the proper way to pronounce “Aberystwth,” but a friend of mine who has a name that is almost as unpronounceable, Mike Puchowicz, has recently begun collaborating with the exercise physiologists at Aberystwyth University. Mike has tried for the last few years to erase all evidence of his connection to the anonymous Twitter feed of Cap Taintbag, but to no avail. Cap Taintbag’s observations, curses, innovations in English, and general insults to the cycling public remain Mike’s greatest and most enduring work. They do not, however, do much to assist his current efforts at getting tenure.
The Aberystwythians and Puchowiczians are very interested in human power, how it is generated, and how long it can be sustained. They have therefore put together a study protocol to advance this investigation, although if they’d asked me I would have suggested a 2-hour survey of Pornhub (you’d learn all you ever need to know about human power and its duration). A link to the study is here, and guess what? You’re invited!
In order to participate, you’ll need to do the following:
- Ride your bike a bunch
- Race your bike four times (in an 8-week period)
- Use a power meter
- Bear your own risks for nausea, vomiting, cardiac dysfunction, and death
There. I’ve done my part for the advancement of science. Now back to our regular programming.
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August 31, 2014 § 11 Comments
I rang the doorbell. “Come on in,” said Eric, so I did. The Donut starts at 8:05, he lives about ten minutes away, and it was 7:45. “Want some coffee?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
He ground the beans and started boiling water as he leisurely poured some cereal into a bowl. I wasn’t worried about being late, because Eric’s never late. I was worried about the pain.
At 7:55 he ambled off to fill his bottles and “get ready.” I went outside and waited. I was shaking because I knew what was coming.
At 8:00 he rolled down the driveway with me. “We got plenty of time,” he said. “That ride never leaves on time anyway.”
What he meant was, “We’re going to go really fast now.”
It’s a long gradual downhill after climbing from his house up to PV Drive all the way to the start of the Donut Ride in Redondo Beach, with only one brief bump. You know what it’s like when you go, cold legs, from zero to thirty-five in a few pedal strokes? It was like that.
Hanging onto his wheel for dear life, a black Suburban came up behind us but wouldn’t pass even though we were on the shoulder. I kept flicking it to come by, but it wouldn’t. We were doing forty, and finally it came through. No wonder it wouldn’t pass: Clodhopper was at the wheel. “Hop on, boys,” he shouted.
Eric dived onto the bumper as Clodhopper wrapped it up to fifty. I came off at fifty-five and Eric vanished. I caught up to him at the start of the Donut, legs completely blown before the ride even started.
The 80-strong ride tore out of Malaga Cove lickety-split, mercilessly kicking the weak, infirm, and hungover riders out the back. A month or so ago we started doing “the Alley,” a vicious little wall-and-rest-and-steep-kicker that comes early on in the ride. The Alley has eliminated the safe-haven wheelsucking that has always plagued the Donut Ride by allowing wankers to coast along until the big climb up the Switchbacks. Now, the group separates early. One group does the Alley and pays for it the rest of the day; the timid and weak avoid it, only to be swept up and spit out later in the ride. Those who consistently do the Alley get stronger or they quit cycling, what’s known in the business as a “win-win.”
Although initially despised by all who did it, the Alley is now not so much despised as it is thoroughly hated.
Today was no exception. Boy Wonder Diego Binatena led the charge; Sausage, Rudy, Aaron, and a handful of others roared after him. Everyone else was pinned, by their foreskins, with rusty carpet tacks. Shortly after the first stop light, the Wily Greek attacked and took Derek, Rudy, Boy Wonder, and a couple of others. We came close to catching them, as in “the three-legged dog came close to catching the cheetah.”
Chatty Cathy, who had hopped in at the stoplight with a bunch of other course-cutters, came up to me after the break escaped. “Nice new kit you’re wearing!” he said.
“Why don’t you shut up and get your sorry fucking ass up to the front and chase down the break instead of hopping in after the hardest part of the ride and sucking wheel like a leech?”
Chatty Cathy shrugged. “Okay,” he said. Then he went to the front and obliterated about twenty people who were already hanging on for dear life. Then he ramped it up even more and came within 200 yards of pulling back the break. He swung over. “How was that?” he asked.
I spit blood and pooped a little poop. “Urgle,” was the best I could manage.
On the way down from the Domes I spied my teammate Derek on the side of the road with a flat. There is nothing better than being on a ride, feeling destroyed, looking for an excuse to quit, and spying a friend with a flat. I pulled over, and a few other broken souls did, too. The ride roared by.
We spent the next hour riding slowly and enjoying the day. On the final climb up Via Zumaya, a miserable, steep, and endless slog, I was alone and tired and didn’t care. Midway up the climb there was another clump of riders, also changing a flat. More happiness ensued as I dismounted and sat on the curb. Some lady from the neighborhood was walking her poodle and had stopped to chat. She had a very strong South African accent.
“Are you from Texas?” I asked.
“South Africa,” she archly replied.
“Oh,” I said. “You sound like a Texan.”
She laughed politely and the conversation seemed poised to end, which was bad since the flat had been changed and that meant I would have to remount and keep riding. “Where did you go to high school?” I asked her.
“Really? I had an old girlfriend who went to high school in Johannesburg.”
The nice lady could now tell she was being hit on by some idiot who didn’t know South Africa from Texas. She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”
“Yep,” I said. “She went to King David.”
The lady’s jaw dropped. “You’re joking.”
“Nope,” I said. “But you wouldn’t know her. You’re way too young; she’s fifty now.”
“And how old do you think I am?” she coyly asked.
I looked at the landmine and deftly stepped over it. “Early 30’s max,” I lied.
She blushed. “I’m fifty. What was your girlfriend’s name?”
By now the other bikers had regained their composure and stood there, laughing. “I like your style, Wanky,” said Aaron. “Ride up and swoop in. Nice work.”
I ignored him. “Her name’s Annette. Annette Davis.”
The blood drained out of her face. “This can’t be happening. We were best friends.”
By now I had thrown a leg over my bike and got ready to pedal off. I looked at her intently and paused. “Yes,” I said. “I know.”
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August 30, 2014 § 23 Comments
He was the kid your mom didn’t want you to play with, but you did.
“Dude,” I said as I rolled up to his shop, a small mountain of surfboard shavings piled in the corner. “I gotta be back by 10:30.”
“No problem,” he said. Even for him, 10:30 sounded like a reasonable time to start the day. “What’s going on?”
“I have to get a couple of documents back to clients and they need the drafts by noon.”
“What were you thinking of doing?” He had that smile, and fastened his helmet.
“Santa Monica, then Amalfi, down Sunset and over to Mandeville. That should put me back with a couple of minutes to spare.”
“No problem.” Smile.
In Santa Monica we started up Amalfi. “Hey,” said Surfer Dan. “You ever do Sullivan Ranch?”
“No,” I said.
“Wanna do it? It’s got a little stretch of pretty cool dirt.”
We were on our road bikes. “I don’t care what we do,” I said. “But I gotta be back by 10:30.”
As anyone who doesn’t know Los Angeles will tell you, it’s a concrete jungle. Surfer knows every nook and cranny of the city, and before long, high above the millionaire mansions of Brentwood, we were past a locked gate and climbing a steep dirt trail. “Glad I got these CX 2-mm’s.” I muttered a prayer of thanks to Moonshine, who had given me the tires a few weeks back. I dodged rocks and slogged uphill, barely keeping Dan’s ass in sight. We’d been climbing for miles now, ever since the base of Amalfi at sea level.
“You okay?” asked Surfer, smiling.
“Yeah,” I grunted. “Glad I got this 28-cog on the back, though.” My frame shuddered through another chughole.
A couple of mountain bikers came by, hanging on for dear life and giving us the crazy look. “You can’t do that,” their faces said. “You’re on road bikes.”
We came to another gate. Beyond it was a dirt road that went on forever.
“Wanna keep going?” Surfer ask-smiled.
“Look, man, I don’t care, but … “
“… you gotta be home by 10:30.”
“Let’s keep going, then.”
Now we were far from anything. There was only the sound of our tires crunching the dirt and our frames bouncing along the washboard and my labored breathing as we climbed, climbed, climbed, and Dan chattered on.
A long time later we reached an old deactivated Minute Man ICBM silo. We finally descended to pavement. Our bikes and we were covered from head to toe in dust, which made sense because I’d cleaned my bike that morning.
The road dumped out at Sepulveda and the 405, smack in the center of the worst traffic in America, as magical as if we’d walked through Alice’s looking-glass, from silence and endless green vistas that reached to the glittering sea to the thrum and impatience and sweating frustration of a million cagers locked in their steel coffins.
“How far are we from home?” I asked.
“Two hours if we drill it.”
It was 10:30.
“Let’s go, then.” I grinned at him and he grinned back. We put our heads down and pinned it, me and Trouble.
Of course I ended up being late, but I wasn’t, really.
August 24, 2014 § 14 Comments
I got invited to hear a band play on Friday. They started at 3:00 PM, which is a perfect time for replacement hip-sters like me. The days when I could sit around until ten o’clock waiting for Foghat to come on and get home at one in the morning? Those days are long gone. What really works now is for the music to start in the afternoon so that I’m in bed by nine.
To make matters better (worse if you’re under 50), the band was a biker band. Not the leather-clad, knife-toting Hell’s Angels type biker band, but rather a mostly clean and wholesome lycra-clad bicyclist band. When I saw Foghat in 1978 at the Houston Coliseum with Marcello, I was in 8th Grade. Marcello was in 8th Grade, too, but not by choice. For some reason the school system thought that the best way to handle a very tough guy and first-class drug dealer was to hold him back year after year so that he wound up in classes with small, hairless, easily frightened kids much younger than him.
Marcello had a deep voice, he shaved, and from the locker room I had visual confirmation that he was what we all aspired to be: A man. I had gotten tickets to the Foghat concert from my brother, who had been grounded for selling drugs, or for stealing the car late one night, or for getting straight “F’s” on his lack-of-progress report.
Marcello would have never gone to the concert with me were it not for the free tickets. I remember my dad dropping us off out front as the long-hairs, freaks, and dope merchants streamed in.
“What kind of band is this, anyway?” he asked.
“I’m not sure,” I lied.
“Well, have a good time. When should I pick you boys up?”
“Midnight?” I said, praying it didn’t sound like a question.
“That’s pretty late.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m with Marcello.” Marcello nodded and smiled politely.
We got out and he drove off.
The concert, which started at eight, started at nine when Judas Priest came onstage. By then we’d had a solid hour to smoke Marcello’s concert goodies and the haze was so thick we could barely see the stage. Foghat followed and played until midnight. I don’t remember anything about it except that when we got to the car Marcello said, “Snap, man!” and jabbed me in the ribcage when my dad pulled up. Somehow, I snapped.
How times have changed. As I entered the Stag & Lion in the middle of the afternoon, the crowd thickened. My biker pals on stage were completely sober, and the cyclists packed into the bar were sipping at the one beer they would be drinking all day. No one was smoking, of course, as it was a no-smoking establishment and a bar, an impossibility back in the 70’s on a par with squaring the circle.
At three o’clock sharp they started to play, and at five o’clock sharp they stopped. The music was phenomenal, the band was tight, and on top of that the songs were original. In fact, the music was better than any concert I had ever attended during the heyday of 70’s rock and roll — ZZ Topp, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, the Stones, even Foghat. Then I remembered that I’d never actually heard any of the music at any of those concerts, or if I’d heard it, it had been through the 100-yard concrete brain filter that comes from being inside the THC equivalent of an oxygen tent.
“Wow,” I said to Mrs. WM. “Music sounds so great when you can hear it!”
She gave me a funny look and kept sipping her margarita.
My buddy’s biker band laid it down for two solid hours and not a single song was off the “B” side. Afterwards we went out and had dinner. One of our group, Surfer Dan, had ridden down to San Diego from LA, a solid little 100-miler so that he’d be sure to get his ride in before the festivities.
At dinner it was a typical bike racer dinner. Calories were counted, low-cal menu options were selected, and everyone finished in time to hurry home, put on the leg compression devices, and rest up for the big Saturday ride.
The band’s name? HTFU, of course.
I told you they were cyclists.
August 22, 2014 § 30 Comments
Bicycling in Southern California is not always fraught with racial issues. They exist, but cyclists from different backgrounds spend most of their time talking about bikes rather than race.
But even though this topic isn’t addressed much while riding, it sometimes makes its way into the cycling community via current events, which are then “discussed” on fora like Facebag. The discussions follow a familiar pattern. Someone remarks that an action (shooting an unarmed kid in the head) is racist. Then someone says it isn’t. And things go sideways from there.
No resolution is ever reached, it seems. The black person remains convinced that the event in question was racist, and the comments of the white person usually end up coming across as racist as well. The white person denies being racist and gets furious at being called one, even as he suggests reasons why black people are “the way they are” or why they are in “the situation they are in.” For good measure he might say “you people.”
This hurts our cycling community, some of whose most successful and illustrious riders are black, and injects doubt and suspicion into relationships.
I don’t think it has to be this way.
Part of the reason we have such a hard time resolving racial issues is because we — and I mean we white people — are not very good at talking about race. Most white people, whether they believe we live in a racist society or a fair society, when they talk about race they talk about black people. They analyze black communities, they criticize, the explain, they give advice, they compare statistics of blacks versus whites, they talk about black culture, and they may even talk about black history. The worst ones will quote Martin Luther King to try and prove some essentially racist point.
This to me is bizarre for two reasons. First, white people really don’t have anything to contribute to the analysis or understanding of blacks. Whether you think racism is rampant or whether you think this is the most equal country on earth, as a white person you don’t have anything to add about what it means to be black. So when you talk about black behavior, you’re already losing the battle of discussing race. You’re talking about something you’re unqualified to speak on, and you’re talking in way that is offensive to the very people you’re supposedly trying to convince.
As a white person, the thing you should have expertise about is being white. But white people are strangely unable to articulate how their race affects their life. Unlike blacks, who seem keenly aware and articulate when it comes to talking about their black experience, I’ve never heard a white person talk about what it’s like to be white.
So the conversation is terribly one-sided, with blacks talking about their racial experiences, and whites talking about blacks’ racial experiences. It’s ineffective and it’s insulting.
How can you start to understand race as a white person? It’s pretty simple. Ask yourself what kinds of things happen to you because you’re white. Everyone’s experience is different, but here a few that apply to me.
- Because I’m white, I’m not afraid of the police if I’m not breaking the law.
- Because I’m white, people assume I’m a law-abiding citizen.
- Because I’m white, people assume I’m hard-working and smart until I demonstrate otherwise.
- Because I’m white, I can buy or rent a home in almost any place that I can afford one.
- Because I’m white, potential clients trust me.
- Because I’m white, when I lived in Asia I was treated well.
- Because I’m white, when I travel in most of Europe I blend in until I open my mouth.
- Because I’m white, none of my forebears in this country were slaves.
- Because I’m white, my great-great-grandfather was a slaveholder.
- Because I’m white, I’ve always been free to vote and encouraged to do so.
- Because I’m white, no one ever called me a racial epithet.
- Because I’m white, I graduated from a good college and a very good law school.
- Because I’m white, I live in a neighborhood with lots of other whites.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. “Those things didn’t happen to you just because you’re white. They happened to you for other reasons as well. You worked hard, your parents helped you, you’re financially responsible, etc.”
And you’re right. There are lots of factors that have made my life the way it is, dumb luck being the biggest. But we’re not talking about those things, remember? We’re talking about race, and we’re trying to understand its importance for ourselves. How has it helped us? How has it hurt us? Has it hurt us? How has our racial identity been used to hurt others? Would our daily experience be the same if we weren’t white?
The best explanation of white racial identity I’ve ever seen was the satirical blog, “Stuff White People Like.” It was good because it talked about race from the standpoint of white culture — making fun of it, to be sure, but couching the discussion in terms of what white people think, how they are treated, how they behave. Although much of it was silly, all of it was racial without pretending to talk about what black people like, or how black people are, or worse, how black people should be.
It viewed the world from the satirical perspective of how being white shapes our lives. It was wildly successful because of its rarity. Thinking about our advantages and disadvantages from the lens of being white was out of the box.
Unfortunately, most white people take their race for granted because it’s rarely an issue. Instead, they use “race” to mean “other people’s race.” And when terrible things like Ferguson or Trayvon Martin happen, what’s needed is for all of us to try and understand how our ethnicity plays a role.
Rodney King asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” Apparently not. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
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August 19, 2014 § 11 Comments
People are so darned lonely, and it’s not hard to see why. They fart. They smell bad in the morning. They leave skid marks in their shorts and whiskers in the sink, and they forget to flush and to put the cap back on the toothpaste. And then of course they have their bad habits, too.
I have noticed many unhappy and lonely bicycle riders, and in order to help fix them up I have developed a new web site that uses the patented Wanky Automated Compatibility Testing ™, or “WACT,” pronounced “whacked.” You can find it at www.wact.com.
The web site uses a sophisticated logarithm (that’s a really thick algorithm for all you non-math majors) to match bicycling personalities so that they can find the perfect person with whom they can enjoy a happy-go-lucky coffee, casual conversation, and boning.
First, answer these questions:
- I like cycling because:
- Tight shorts
- After riding with my friends I enjoy:
- Sitting at CotKU, sipping coffee, and chatting about the ride
- Going home and reading the product write-ups on CompetitiveCyclist.com
- Comparing my Strava stats with those of my pals
- Zooming in on the FB photos of women’s crotches standing on the podium
- Cycling and craft beer go together because:
- They are both healthy and natural
- Strong beer gives you a good buzz after a hard workout
- You can enjoy local, hand-crafted beer while riding a local, handmade frame and saving the environment plus smugness
- Biker chicks at brew pubs get sloppy drunk after two DIPA’s and start rubbing their breasts against you
If you answered “E” to all of the above, or if you answered A – D while secretly thinking about E, then you should consider signing up for the Wanky Automated Compatibility Testing ™ dating site. Here’s how it works:
You input a link to your favorite Strava segment and the time that you will be on it. Then you check one of the following boxes next to your segment:
Sitting on his/her/its wheel and ogling
If another cyclists “likes” your segment and the time you’ve designated, he/she/it (usually “it”) then selects a radio button. However, he/she/it can’t see which button you’ve selected. If he/she/it/Stathis selects the same button you selected, you’ve got a “Wanky Match.” Your cell phone will then emit a high-pitched, ear-piercing sound reminiscent of someone whose toe got caught in a meat grinder, and the contact information of your “Wanky Match” will flash across the screen.
You then swipe the app and it takes you to “Steamy Wanky Revelation” where you will see all the of the juicy details about your Wanky Match, such as:
- Bathes weekly
- 110 watts FTP
- Favorite pastime: WKO+ Training Peaks
- Divorced (5 times)
- Employed (once, in 1987)
- Loves romantic evenings with that special someone in an oxygen tent
- Favorite place: Mom’s basement
[Note: These are merely sample personal details of your Wanky Match. Actual personal characteristics and hygiene will be gnarlier.]
Unlike other dating sites, with Wanky Automated Compatibility Testing ™, you only pay when you get on your partner’s “leader board.” If you help your member reach the summit in record time, he/she/it/Stathis will award you a KOM which then goes in your Wanky Match profile. The more KOM’s, the more confidence you have that your Wanky Match knows how to pound out the watts.
Due to the early developmental phase of the project, interested participants are asked to send an email to the project director, Mr. Divad Zerep, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a valid credit card number with expiration date and CVV, as well as your Social Security Number, DOB, and a house key.
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