Wankology

December 8, 2014 § 43 Comments

It is kind of complicated every time I meet an English person. They sound funny right away and I always try to guess where they’re from and I’m always wrong. I figure it’s got to be one of the former English colonies like South Africa, New Zealand, Austria, or even England itself, but I always pick wrong and the person is always mildly annoyed.

Then when they say they’re English I try to show that I’m a knowledgeable fellow and so I say, “Oh, really? What part?”

Then they get this look like “This bloke [that’s an English word meaning ‘fellow’] isn’t going to have a clue where my little corner of England is,” but they go ahead and tell me in order to be polite, somewhere like Leeds, or Glasgow, or Cardiff, or Dublin or one of the other major cities in England.

Of course I’m never sure where any of those places are so then they’re still trying to be polite and they’re like, “So have you ever been to the U.K.?” and I’m always like, “No,” and I explain how I’m not good with foreign languages and I’m always too embarrassed to ask them what’s the difference between the United Kingdom and Man United.

It’s also pretty awkward when I ask them what’s their favorite football team (that’s to show I know it’s not called “soccer” in England) because they kind of already know I don’t know anything about it and it’s probably the 400th time this conversation has happened this week, usually at the checkout stand or while buying some coffee, but most of the time I don’t tell them that I’m related to the queen.

However, one guy I sometimes ride with, Nancy, really can’t stand English people. “Fucking I hate ‘em,” Nancy will sometimes say if an English dude shows up on a ride. Of course he tends to say that to anyone new, but he specializes in English people because the ones that hang out over here tend to be complete badasses on the bike and they drop him immediately, which he doesn’t much care for.

“Really? How come?” I asked him one day.

“Fucking arrogant bastards, that’s why.”

“Arrogant about what?”

“Fucking act like they invented the fucking language.”

“Well, didn’t they?” I asked.

That didn’t sit very well with Nancy. “They act like they fucking know everything,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said, “I kind of see where you’re coming from. But you know, they have a pretty badass tradition of being, you know, pretty smart.”

“Smart about what?” he snarled.

“Not that it’s a lot, but you know, Shakespeare, Dickens, the first novel, pretty much all the books worth reading in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries that weren’t written by Mark Twain, and I’m pretty sure they discovered DNA, oh, and the Rolling Stones.”

Nancy got livid. “The Rolling Stones? Those fuckers stole our music!”

“Our music?”

“Fuck yeah! They just ripped off our American blues masters and commercialized it!” Nancy is super white.

“You mean the music of the black Americans who Elvis ripped off and commercialized?”

“Yeah!” he yelled.

“Seems to me that the English did what everyone else was doing on that score, they just did it better.”

“What the hell are you? Some English lover? I bet you drink tea.” About this time a group of riders pedaled by in the other direction.

“Man, that’s a pretty big group of wankers,” I said, trying to change the topic.

Nancy went ballistic. “Don’t you ever use that stupid fucking word around me again!” he screeched. “Do you even know what it means? It’s English talk for a jerk-off! It’s the worst thing a British person can say about someone! I hate that fucking word and now it’s everywhere because somebody on a stupid fucking moronic blog started using it like a cutesy word and now it’s wanker this and wanker that and wank the other and it makes me so sick I could kill someone! It’s like calling everyone ‘cum-face.’ You think that’s cute? Plus it’s English and it makes me fucking sick so for fuck’s sake don’t ever use that word again!”

Nancy’s veins from his excessive drinking had popped out all over his face and teeth and he was shivering from anti-imperialistic fervor. About this time Rodley pedaled up, as we had stopped at a red light so that Nancy could take his seizure pills. Rodley is the nicest guy you will ever meet. He put his foot down and smiled the friendliest smile. “Hey, wankers!” he said. “What’s up?”

I’m not sure what happened to Nancy because he got off his bike and began moaning, and a couple of English guys I know rolled by and they started explaining that the U.K. wasn’t a football (soccer) team. I hope Nancy is okay.

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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Flying the friendly skies

May 23, 2014 § 26 Comments

As we waited to board I looked at the 300-lb. hippo sucking on a 32-oz. Coke and stuffing the extra large fries and Big Mac down his throat and I knew that on this full flight to Philly I would be seated next to him. How did I know? This was my fate. He would require three seatbelt extenders and would piss into his barf bag. He would sweat on me and fart in my general direction. My only consolations were that I was on an airplane rather than a Conestoga wagon and that I wouldn’t be murdered by Indians.

They were small consolations.

Mrs. WM and I got separated as we boarded. It was Southwest’s free-for-all. She got a choice seat, somehow. I waded to the back, the last of the C-boarders, knowing that the only slot remaining would be next to the Human Big Mac.

Towards the tail I saw the last open seat. I hung my head in defeat, knowing what awaited, when what to my eyes should appear but a vacant middle seat next to a smoking hot, 20-something woman. I eased in. To the seat.

The plane took off. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. She had already glanced at me, and accurately sized me up: Old. Bearded. Skinny. Wrinkly. Likely to embark on a tale about “When I was a young man.” She pointedly looked out the window.

Once we were at cruising altitude and the captain had told us to take off our pants I removed the Southwest in-flight magazine. I flipped through it. It was stupid and filled with restaurants I’d never visit and casinos I was too broke to become even more broke at. Then I saw him. The man. The myth. The 35+ Masters studmuffins.

I saw Charon Smith.

There he was in a full-color ad, staring out at me from the page of a magazine that had more readers in a month than the New York Times. I don’t remember what he was hawking, some recovery juice or another, but there he was, massive arms flexed, Surf City team kit perfectly reproduced in a full-color ad, handsome face hidden behind the (lame) Oakley shades, and legs cut up better than a slice of tuna at a sushi shop.

I nudged Miss Hotness next to me. “See this guy?” I said, pointing at the ad.

“Yeah?”

“I know that dude.”

She perked up, taking in Charon’s studly arms and studly legs. “Really? How?”

It all happened so quickly! Here’s what I wanted to say:

Charon isn’t the team captain, he’s the general of the peloton. He has class, he’s humble in victory and congratulatory in defeat, he races clean, he trains hard, and every year he gets better and better and better. He’s admired by many, respected by all, and mentors new riders whether they’re on his team or not. He gives you a push when you’re gassed even if you’re on the other team, and he beats you fair and square. If everyone in the world were like Charon, the world would be a better place.

But instead, I said “I’m his coach.”

Now Miss Hotnesss was really interested. “Really? You’re a cycling coach?”

“Yeah. This guy is Charon Smith. He’s one of the top pros in Europe. It’s like being an F-1 driver, only cooler.”

Miss Hotness was really interested as she checked out Charon’s hunky arms and legs. “Wow. And you’re his coach?”

“Oh, sure. I discovered him when he was a teenager. He was a skinny little punk trying to gain weight in a gym. I used to be a bodybuilder.”

She looked at my narrow arms and narrower neck. “Really? You don’t look like one.”

“I lost all that weight. But I met Charon and taught him how to lift, how to put on muscle, and most importantly how to race his bike. He’s the fastest sprinter in Europe and the US. Hits 60 miles per hour. On his bike.”

Miss Hotpants was really ogling the photo. “That’s incredible.”

“Yep,” I said. “Taught him everything he knows.”

“I like to ride my bicycle,” she said shyly.

“Really? You live in Philly?”

“No, I live in LA. I’m just going to Philly to visit my parents.”

“Well, as a professional cycling coach I’d be glad to help you get to the next level. I’m not bragging, but Charon is going to be riding the Tour de France this year thanks to my coaching, and I’d be happy to, you know, show you a few tricks.”

“That would be awesome!” She was looking at me with a mixture of admiration and respect and trembling fear.

“Oh, it’s no big deal.”

“What’s your name?” she asked, almost timidly.

“David,” I said. “David Perez.”

“How can I get hold of you?”

“Friend me on Facebook. I’m the only David Perez in San Pedro.”

“Okay,” she said, glowing. “I will.”

 

You can’t get from there to here

April 2, 2014 § 23 Comments

I know a guy who broke his neck the second or third time he’d ever done a time trial. There he was, whizzing along, legs flooded with poison at the end of the race, and as he crossed into the finishing chute he clipped a cone. He wasn’t a great bike handler and the TT bike was twitchy as hell and he veered off towards the shoulder, which would have been fine except for the big Suburban parked right in front of his 32-mph face.

He veered some more, left the shoulder and hit deep, soft sand. The wheel sank and stopped and he flipped over the bars onto his head and neck. His brain damage was so severe that after recovering from a year’s worth of surgery and rehab, he decided to keep racing.

I know another guy who was on a group ride coming down Las Flores. One of the riders wasn’t very experienced. The new guy overcooked a turn and hit the guard wire on the left side of the road, which killed him. The guy who survived now lives in a strange place inside his head.

Then there was the dude who weighed 280 lbs., and one day a pal from college saw him on the street. “Good dog,” said the friend. “You look like shit. How’d you turn into such a fat slob?” The fat dude got all embarrassed, but the friend didn’t pay him any attention at all. “Meet me at my house tomorrow at 6:30.”

They went for a bike ride. The fat dude had to dismount after a mile. He couldn’t breathe. His legs were killing him. He ass hurt. He oozed sweat and bacon grease. Six months later the fat dude had lost 100 lbs. Eight months later he did his first Donut Ride. Ten months later he became a fixture on the NPR. Now he races his bike and is as fit and fast as anyone else his age. He thinks he’s twenty again, but he’s forty.

A certain guy who rides for the Bahati team is as big as a house. He’s all muscle — played football, basketball, lifted weights, you name it. But all the pounding and grinding and jumping wore out his joints. He never thought much of all those skinny guys pedaling around in their underwear, but one day he decided to get a bike for the exercise. He’s a lightning fast sprinter now and in the best shape of his life. He laughs when he thinks about contact sports. “Last race I crashed in was more contact than a NASCAR pile-up.”

A local woman did triathlons. She was very good. Then she did a few bike races. She was even better. In 2008 I rode up Topanga Canyon with her and some other idiots and Rudy and Jack from Illinois (not his real name). Jack and Rudy rode away. She jumped around me and dragged me up the climb and back onto the wheels of the two leaders. I’d never been so completely thrashed before. In the intervening years she would occasionally ride the Donut and crush all but the very strongest men. Yesterday she helped her teammate Lauren Hall win one of the toughest pro road races in the world, Gent-Wevelgem.

At the Redlands Crit last year a guy was pushed into the barriers coming through the start/finish. He had been racing in SoCal for more than 30 years. The accident shattered his leg, ripped an artery open, punctured a lung, and almost killed him. Six months later he was still hobbling around with a cane. The trauma of the accident, the near-death experience in the ICU, and the long, painful recovery convinced him that he’d done his time in the saddle and that he’d sacrificed enough to the Bike Dog. He discovered a life off the bike. He saw family and friends he’d not seen for years even though he had been seeing them every day. He understood that the bike is no better or worse than any other drug or false idol, and he misses it only vaguely.

Then there were a thousand women who met a thousand men through cycling and they became lovers, briefly, if love can be brief. Which, of course, it cannot.

None of these people know how they got to be where they are, although they all seemed to start out on bicycles. The place they came from didn’t ever lead to their destination, which is perhaps precisely why they arrived.

 

Wankmeister cycling clinic #21: bike hating S/O’s

January 3, 2014 § 12 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

My wife hates cycling, and cyclists, and cycles. I get up and train at 4:00 AM so I can be be home at six, before she wakes up. She makes me feel so ashamed of my cycling, like when I masturbate under the sheets after she’s gone to sleep. What’s the solution?

In deepest shame,
Onan Ism

Dear Onan:

Masturbate on top of the sheets, while she’s awake.

One-handedly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

My husband despises cycling and is terribly jealous of my bikie friends. He tongue lashes me when I get up early to ride, stalks my FB page, and makes nasty, snide comments about my bike buddies. If he’d only try it, he’d see how much fun it is! How can I convert him?

Sadly,
Mary Merry

Dear Mary:

He’s jealous because all he has is golf. You need to increase his jealousy to a fever pitch. Show him pictures of your bike buddies in their tight shorts with cruel outlines of their massive timber. Then show him fiery hot photos of your cycling girlfriends with their sexy butts and impressive cleavage. If this doesn’t work, dump him.

Catholically,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

My girlfriend is very unreasonable. Just because I race every weekend and train all the time doesn’t mean I don’t love her. She demands ridiculous shit, like, that we do a “date night” every Friday and stuff. How can I explain to her that “date night” is my recovery night so I can be ready for the big Saturday ride?

Frustratedly,
Pigsy Poppins

Dear Pigsy:

Wow! What a pushy bitch! Have you showed her GoPro videos of the ride? Does she understand that this is where reputations are made? FUCK HER! If you give in on this one, she’ll be asking you to take her out for her birthday, anniversary, etc. Madness. Time to move on.

Factually,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

Now that I’m happily married and my wife is pregnant, I’m starting to think about how to reorganize my life so that I give priority to my kid and family. I love cycling, but it seems more important that I invest my energies in my family. Plus, I can always come back to cycling later. What’s the right amount of riding for a new dad?

Responsibly,
Pater Familias

Dear Pater:

The most impressionable time of a child’s life is the first two years. So, you should be absent as much as possible to prevent the li’l booger from adopting your bad riding habits. Now is the time for big miles. Also, even though your wife will be upset at having to stay home and change poopy diapers while you’re quaffing lattes on the bricks and setting new Strava PR’s, it will make her stronger. Also, if you quit cycling now, thinking you’ll pick it up later, all of your competitors will gain valuable mileage and race experience. Think about it like this: Would you rather have children who say, “My dad was always there for me,” or kids who say, “My dad once podiumed in a 45+ crit.” Right?

Truthfully,
Wankmeister

The eyes have it

November 16, 2013 § 8 Comments

In a month and a half we’ll begin our third season of the SPY bicycling team. Lots of people wonder what it’s like to be an old creaky fellow with a leaky prostate and bad vision while riding for the premier old fellows racing team in California and therefore the galaxy. I’d sum it up like this:

Riding for SPY is fun.

In the first two years we  saw that there were other teams with better racers. We’ve never had the fastest  racers on our squad, but despite that our 45+ team was the winningest one in SoCal, our cyclocross masters teams are hands down the best, and our 35+ team, P/1/2 team and development riders mean that each year more and more people want to ride with us. Add into the mix that our women’s team, led by Jessica Cerra, is already primed to have a super year, and I think the reasons that people want to join the SPY cavalcade are simple : Swag and fun.

When you’re an old fellow, if you have any perspective at all, you realize that if your hobby is best measured in wins and losses, it’s probably no longer a hobby and has become what the rest of the world calls a “job.” You realize that as much as you’d like to win, even more than that you’d like to compete — and win — with people you actually like, doing things you actually enjoy, decked out in swag that makes you feel like you’re winning even when you place 78th.

SPY’s ethos is best described as having a happy disrespect for the usual way of looking at life. Put another way, “Beware of the usual!”

Living up to our mandate

We’re not told to go forth and win races, although we’re given plenty of leadership and racing and training opportunities to do so. What we are told is that once we put on the kit, we’re ambassadors for a brand. Not sales staff, or preachers, group thinkniks, but ambassadors, people who are here to deliver a message.

What message? This message.

1. Ride the front as much as you can on group rides, wherever you may train. Be a leader. Why? Because the usual way of doing things is to hide in the pack and show your face, if at all, at the coffee shop. The usual way of doing things is to use the work of others in order to benefit yourself. The unusual and irreverent way of doing things is to put your share of work into the group effort, and maybe even a little bit more than your share. If you’re too afraid of getting dropped or of not making the split, bite the bullet and … go to the front.

2. Take care of one another, and take care of others. The usual way of doing things is to only stop when you’re the one with the mechanical. This is your Sunday ride, right? You’ve waited all week for this, right? So if someone has a flat, well, that’s bike racing. The unusual and irreverent way of doing things is to recognize that there will be another Tuesday morning ride, and it’s probably not gonna kill you to help out a fellow cyclist. You’ll make a friend, you’ll energize the person you help to pass on the good karma, and you’ll go from being “all about me” to “serving others.”

3. Represent SPY and its team sponsors in the same way that you’d want them to represent YOU. Success doesn’t mean a podium in an old fellows criterium. Success is the sum of a life predicated on our collective good deeds, leadership, and the vicious clubbing of baby seals (to whom we apologize in advance and posthumously).

4. As a bike racer, or more accurately, as an elderly fellow drowning in a delusional vat of swag and beer and navel gazing, when you race your victory isn’t what matter. What matters are  your actions and how they affect your team. What matters is whether you were ready to toil in anonymity and lay it all out there for the sake of a teammate.

5. Make people HAPPY. Collective groupings of old people racing bicycles isn’t a formula for happiness. Smiling and spreading positive energy is. So go forth and happify. Now.

From the touchy-feely to the hard facts

You probably expect me to praise SPY for all the usual reasons, but what are those “usual” reasons? And aren’t we supposed to beware of the usual? Rather, my affinity for the company, begun through personal friendship and swag, has transcended those two things to reach a level of discrimination I never thought I’d reach.

Because you see, I don’t really give a rat’s ass about bike products. Of course I love nice stuff when I can get it, but I’m not now and have never been a “bike guy.” I have one road bike and one ‘cross bike. One extra wheelset for the ‘cross bike. My road hoops are the same ones I train on and race on. For me, it’s always been about being lucky enough to cycle and to be part of a cycling community. The bike and the clothes and the parts are icing on the cake.

Of course, there’s one exception to that, and it’s the unusual exception of my eyes. I began wearing glasses at age 13, bout six or seven years after I first really needed them. My vision was so bad that I could only see movies from the front row. I’m still convinced that much of my early problems in school stemmed from an inability to see the chalkboard.

Having terrible vision has affected me throughout my life. I never learned to surf above kook level despite decades of trying. Why? Because I’m horribly uncoordinated and weak. But being unable to see the wave until it was breaking on my head didn’t help. Ball sports were always impossible, and even though I could see on a bike, my eyes were constantly irritated from the wind that incessantly screamed around the edges of my Laurent Fignon frames. Wearing superb prescription eyewear from SPY enabled me to win the Tour in 2011 and was directly responsible for the winning Powerball ticket that I bought down at the corner 7-11.

In actuality, my vision transformation on the bike thanks to SPY wasn’t accidental or the result of lottery-like luck. This eyewear is authentically bound to technical performance. The prescription glasses work in an incredibly demanding range of light and weather situations, including getting bounced on my head at 40 mph and remaining intact (the glasses, not the head).

This authenticity is so much more than, “The glasses work, dude.” It’s part of the background of the product, where and why it came into being, and what drives its evolution and subsequent iterations. Plus, SPY has never sponsored Lance.

The combination of “ride at the front” and “this shit works” forms the core of the proposition when you’re thinking about buying glasses. Do you want a product made by non-cyclists for cyclists and owned by a giant Italian conglomerate that also handles leather handbags, or do you want a product that’s made by cyclists who have to live with the shit they create, and who have to answer to the product’s utility in their own races and group rides?

Putting glasses on your nose … who knew it was so complicated? Well, it is, because when you wear SPY you’re choosing between Italian luxuory monolith or a variation on ZZ Topp: “That Little Old Performance Eyewear Company from Carlsbad.” Do things like happiness, irreverence, riding at the front, helping those who need it, and buying locally make a difference to you? If they do, maybe there’s something in this story for you.

The pros who ride SPY gear are chosen in order to transcend their stereotypes as “jocks” and tap into a multicultural lifestyle based on a love of outdoors activities. Us grizzled old dudes with leaky prostates believe in that transcendence, too.

As Lionel Ritchie said, “I’m lookin’ for a good time, goooooooood tiiyiyime.”

November 13, 2013 § 16 Comments

I met a kid yesterday at a cafe. “Hey, I know you,” he said. “I read your blog.”

“Really? That’s awesome! Thanks!” I replied.

“Yeah, it’s really funny. But you sure are one egotistical dude.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I sat down at his table and let him and his pal buy me a cheeseburger. After thinking about it, I’ve realized that he really misunderstood me. I’m not egotistical. I am, rather, narcissistic beyond belief, perhaps pathologically so. Okay, scratch the “perhaps.”

Still, there are limits. One of those limits has been shameless self-promotion of my book, “Cycling in the South Bay.”

I have promoted it as far as I comfortably can without my guilt at being so narcissistic getting so bad that I can’t sleep at night, like having a bad case of acid reflux. Fortunately, the moment my sense of shame and self-reserve kicked in, my friends came to the rescue in the form of Dave Wehrly.

“Seth,” he said. “I want to do a book-signing party for you on November 21st. You can read a selection from the book. I’ll organize everything. We’ll get wine so all the drunks will show up, and I’m friends with the folks who own {pages}, a bookstore in Manhattan Beach that has said they’ll be glad to host the event. What do you say?” (He didn’t really say that bit about the drunks. He didn’t need to.)

“That,” I said, “is awesome.”

Adding sauce to the awesomeness was Dean Patterson, 1970’s cycling hard man and 2000’s wine maker, who volunteered up the grapes of wrath for the event.

The economics of self-publishing

I can say this much: It’s economical.

There are historically some  off-the-chart bestsellers that were originally self-published. 50 Shades of Grey and the Gutenberg Bible come to mind. For the most part, self-publishing is a financial dead end, but so what? Life is a dead end too, and that doesn’t stop us from trying to live it to the fullest. Moreover, Manhattan Beach is lucky to have a real, live bookstore. You know, one of those places that sells books made of paper; a place where the owners have a stake in your reading interests. If you’re under the age of forty, never mind. You wouldn’t understand.

What this book signing is, is a celebration. It’s a celebration of what happens when friends get together and slosh down too much good wine, then stagger over to Shellback’s and try not to pass out under the table. It’s a celebration of what happens when men and women put on tight, sexy clothing, then ogle each other’s asses for hours, days, months, even years before breaking down in a sleazy bar and swapping underwear in the men’s room. It’s a celebration of delusional, over-inflated egos, of hard money poured into vanity bicycle gewgaws, and of adolescent impulses that were never outgrown.

… and …

It’s a celebration of the grit and the discomfort and the inner brokenness that we try to smooth out by spinning circles, by communing with each other, by being there in good times and bad, and by lifting each other up by the armpits, even if it’s just to get you out from the slop on the barroom floor.

The celebration, of course, only has meaning because we’ve all invested a little bit in each other, the investment of trusting someone enough to sit on their wheel, or pitying their frailty enough to drag them up a hill, or blowing off the group ride to lag back and help some numbnuts  change a flat that he never would have gotten if he hadn’t ridden the stupid fucking tire 4,000 miles past its expiration date.

Whatever your reason, if you’re part of the South Bay community, or you were, or you’d like to be, or you know someone who is, join us. You won’t regret, and neither will I.

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