May 5, 2013 § 15 Comments
I was walking down the stairs the other day. The steps are made out of some kind of rocky aggregate, and I had decided to descend barefoot in order to spare my cleats and socks.
The rough, rocky surface jabbed into my soft feet. It hurt but I couldn’t walk lightly because I had the bike over my shoulder. The staircase has two sets of ten steps, and by the end of the first set the jabbing had turned from pain into something else.
What it turned into was memories.
Do you remember running barefoot across a hot parking lot when you were a kid? Do you remember walking barefoot across rocks and gravel? Do you remember dashing across a lot or a yard and finding out that it was chock full of cockleburs?
The pressure against my feet dug deep into my memory and I thought about all those hot days in Houston and Galveston and Daingerfield when, for whatever reason, I was outdoors without any shoes on. There was a barefoot balance between the freedom of the naked foot and the punishment of the unwanted glass fragment or sharp rock.
If you took the freedom, you also took the jab, and the only reward was that those soft little feet, over the course of a few shoeless weeks, became toughened, callused, gnarly little footpads, and with the raspy skin you became unafraid one day without knowing it of the hot asphalt or sharp rocks or cockleburs or anything else. The skin turned leathery and hard and told you instinctively that it was summer.
Do kids go barefoot anymore?
The semi-annual revolution
I live in fits and starts. One day it’s a change-the-world diet, the next day it’s an assault on all human limits with a brand new power meter. Like the feet under those hard calluses, though, it’s the same old me.
One of the great things about changing myself forever until I revert to the old self in a week or two is the sensation of the new, not to mention the self-love that comes with making a virtue out of necessity. That’s what’s been so great about bicycling barefoot.
“You can’t bicycle barefoot,” you’re thinking. “Those pedals would devour your feet whole.”
That’s true, but I don’t mean bicycling without shoes. I mean it metaphorically. The shoes are the clothes and the gear. Bicycling barefoot means putting on a shoulder bag and a pair of floppy shorts and slowly pedaling in to work, then back again.
Bicycling barefoot means pushing the pedals no harder than it takes to move forward at a reasonable speed. Wind blowing hard? Don’t respond by bending down and jamming the pedals…just go slower.
Have to surmount Via Valmonte and Silver Spur? Don’t get out of the saddle and crank it, find your great-great-great granny gear and go slow.
Like walking without shoes it’s unpleasant at first, but with repetition you start to fall into the rhythm of barefoot and you start to notice all the things that you can’t normally see due to tunnel vision or the grimace of agony or being to tired to lift your head more than an inch above your stem or because you’ve got your nose shoved halfway up the butt of the rider in front of you.
Putting on my shoes again
Bicycling barefoot, more than anything else, connects you with the freedom you first felt on your first bike, that giddy, punch-drunk, stomach-full-of-butterflies feeling that told you life was never going to be the same again as you pedaled madly to keep upright and avoid the curb and go fast enough not to tump over but not so fast that you crashed.
The nicest thing about bicycling barefoot, though, is that it’s just like walking without shoes. All it takes to get back into the groove of beatdowns and baby seal clubbing is a change of clothes.
So, it’s almost summertime. Mightn’t you ought to take off those shoes and go for a walk?
May 4, 2013 § 33 Comments
I hate to be the one to break your Strava bubble, but “PR” is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as a “personal record,” any more than there’s a “personal Super Bowl victory” or a “personal presidential election.”
A record is a mark set by someone that at least two people have done. You know Chris Horner’s time up Mt. Palomar? That is a record. Eleven hundred people have done it and his time is the fastest. It’s a record time.
Even though when you climbed it on Tuesday two and a half hours slower than Chris and it was the fastest of your 67 attempts, it’s still not a personal record. It’s two and a half hours slower than the record. You can call it your personal best. You can call it your fastest time up Mt. Palomar. You can call it proof that your $2,000 power meter and $15,000 bike and $950/month personal coaching regimen are making you faster…but it still pegs you in about one thousandth place relative to the RECORD.
Nothing personal about it.
All cycling metrics point to one conclusion: You suck
Strava’s business model is simple: Provide data to wankers that shows they’re getting better. Since none of us is getting better, and in fact all of us are getting older and therefore worse, and since those of us who are improving quickly reach a plateau, there has to be a way to snake-oil us into thinking that we’re improving.
So Strava sells you a premium membership where you can join a smaller subset of records (65+ men with an inseam of less than 25″ who sleep on the left side of the bed), and thereby convert some of your meaningless “personal records” into something more meaningful: A higher spot on the age adjusted, inseam-length adjusted, side-of-the-bed adjusted leaderboard.
Unfortunately, even after adjusting yourself into 75th place, which is a huge jump from 1,000th, physics still mercilessly claws its way to the front. Your “progress” plateaus, and your ability to climb the flailerboard grinds to a halt. So it’s back to personal records, and chasing the illusion of improvement even though all the data point, or rather, scream deafeningly, to a wholly opposite conclusion: You not only suck, you suck more than you did on this segment last year. Introspective riders feel the icy hand of death tightening its grip around their throat if they look at the data too closely past about age forty.
Note to the Stravati: There’s a reason you prefer Strava to bike racing
I don’t vomit often, but when I do it’s usually after someone takes one of my KOM’s. I’ve only got seventeen of them left, and there’s not a single one that couldn’t be handily snapped up by any number of Stravati who live for that kind of thing.
It’s no defense, but I never tried to set a single one of those KOM’s, which is probably the reason they fall so easily. The handful of times I’ve gone out and tried to grab a KOM, I’ve failed, usually miserably. I use Strava for the same reason that I wear pants. It’s a social convention the lack of which would earn too much opprobrium. I also use it as a handy calorie counter. And finally, I use it for you. Just when you’re starting to think your performance is dropping, or you’re really not very good, you can click on my most recent ride and feel relief: There’s someone in your neighborhood who’s slower and an even bigger bicycle kook than you.
This, I believe, is a powerful source of inspiration for flailers and wankers throughout the South Bay. Through Strava, I keep them riding. It’s a social service, and you can thank me via PayPal.
What you can’t do is get away with the pleasant little self-deception that your KOM is as good as a bike race. You can’t even get away with the delusion that it’s as good as an old-fashioned group beatdown on the NPR.
You know why that is? Because it isn’t. Masturbating your way to the top of a leaderboard on Strava, when unaccompanied by ball-busting accomplishments on group rides or in real mass start races in which you have to actually pay an entry fee and pin on a number, are just that: Digital auto-titillation.
Believe it or don’t, I’m fine with that. Riding a bicycle is like consensual sex between adults: I not only approve of it, I’m wholly uninterested in your particular activities. I’m not a libertarian, I’m a “don’t give a fucktarian.” If you’re out pedaling your bicycle, in my book you’re winning.
If your riding is confined to setting Strava records without racing or group riding, though, you are wanking. Can we be clear about that? Good. Because last Thursday a new South bay cycling record was set. Not on Strava, where anonymous, zipless riders virtually compete using all manner of tricks, traps, aids, pacers, run-ups, and “special assists” to set the record.
No, this Thursday record was set the old-fashioned way. Clubbers clubbed. Baby seals got their heads staved in. Pain was ladled out in buckets. And only the strong, the ornery, the mutton-headed, and the relentless survived.
One thing that’s never happened on the New Pier Ride
…is a successful four-lap breakaway. Dan Seivert and I once, on a cold, rainy, windy winter day in 2012 attacked on Vista del Mar and stayed away for four laps, but it wasn’t a real breakaway. We sneaked off three or four miles before the real ride began, there was zero horsepower in the field, and no one even knew we had attacked. Although we hurt like dogs and congratulated ourselves for the heroic effort, it was more a flailaway than a breakaway. Plus, no one cared. To the contrary, they tortured us with the worst torture known to a group ride breakaway: “You were off the front? If I’d known that I’d have chased.”
Last week, though, word went out that MMX was coming to town to do the NPR. This meant one thing: Merciless beatdown in the offing.
There were at least ten thousand baby seals at the Manhattan Beach Pier when the ride left at 6:40 AM. We hit the bottom of Pershing and it immediately strung out into the gutter and then snapped. The Westside seals were all lounging on the roadside atop the bump, because they’ve learned from repeated beatdowns that it’s better to jump in after the first hard effort than to try and jump in as the group comes by at the bottom of the little hill. Just as they were finishing their first bucket of raw mackerel, we came by like a whirlwind.
As we passed the parkway, Josh Alverson drilled it.
Then Peyton Cooke drilled it.
Then Johnny Walsh drilled it.
MMX, who had started at the back and worked his way up to the point, later noted that from the bottom of Pershing it was pure mayhem. Many of the baby seals were killed with that first single devastating blow to the head. Others, un-hit, were so stunned by the acceleration that they simply pulled over, unclipped, and skinned themselves.
Robert Efthimos reported that Thursday was his 128th time up World Way ramp, and it turned out to be his single highest average wattage ever for a lap on the NPR. He churned out those numbers stuck at the back of the herd after the break left.
After the ramp, Greg Leibert blasted away, stringing it out into a line of about 15 riders, with a small clump forming at about 16th wheel and turning into an amorphous lump into which 80 or 90 baby seals still cowered. After Greg swung over, MMX opened the throttle, dissolved the clump and turned the entire peloton into a single line with countless little blubbering seals who began snapping and popping like plastic rivets on a space shuttle.
We turned onto the parkway in full flight, with Johnny Walsh, Marco Cubillos, Josh, and “26″ pounding the pedals. This is the point where after the initial surge, the front riders usually slowed down, or the neverpulls in back made their first and only real effort of the day to chase down the nascent break. Marco, John, Josh, and 26 kept going, and were soon joined by Greg, Jeff Bryant, Jay LaPlante, some dude from La Grange who was incinerated shortly thereafter, and one of the South Bay’s legendary purple card-carrying, neverpulling, wheelsuckers extraordinaire whose name shall not be mentioned.
MMX looked ahead from the pack as the break gained ground, surged, and bridged. Then he closed the door and threw away the key.
No break has ever stayed away on the NPR for all four laps. The course won’t allow it due to stoplights, the high tailwind speeds of the chasing field, and the relatively flat nature of the course.
We made the first turn and had a gap. Atop the bridge Jeff Bryant unleashed a monster pull, but then, over his head by the extreme effort, he and Greg were unable to latch onto the break as it accelerated at the next turnaround. Accounts differ, with some claiming a car pinched them, and others claiming they were too gassed to catch, but in any event the break didn’t feel like waiting, as there were already too many orange kits in the group. This meant the Greg/Jeff duo had to chase.
The pack was in a different time zone, which meant nothing as we’d just completed one lap and there was plenty of time for them to organize and chase in earnest. What we didn’t know is that they were already chasing in earnest, and the stoplight gods were smiling on us.
Having taken the initiative in trying to fend off the entire baby seal population of the South Bay, we were being rewarded with a string of green lights even as the baby seals were being punished with reds. Naturally, post-ride the baby seals that survived chalked everything up to the traffic signals rather than the sheet-snot that covered our faces and the haggard, beaten look of those who rode the break for the entire four laps.
Greg and Jeff, unable to reattach, finally hopped across the road and jumped in as we whizzed by. Greg then attacked us balls-out the remaining lap and a half. Ouch. Every time we brought him back another of our matchboxes was incinerated.
On the final stretch, after berating Sir Neverpull for never coming through, MMX unleashed the leadout from Klubtown. Sir Neverpull, suddenly discovering that with the end in sight he wasn’t quite that tired after all, leaped just in time for his engine to blow and his legs to detach from his torso. Jay LaPlante sprunted around the MMX lead-out with Josh fixed on his wheel. Going too far out and in too small a gear, Jay settled for second after a doing yeoman’s work in the break.
We celebrated this, the first ever four-lap breakaway on the NPR, with coffee and sunshine.
And yes, it was a record.
April 30, 2013 § 14 Comments
I had a great experience Saturday commuting to work. I normally only ride on Hawthorne from PV to my office in Torrance in the very early morning hours because of the traffic. There are many other routes I can take to work even though Hawthorne is the fastest, and I never object to spending a few extra minutes in the saddle before the onslaught of the workday.
Yesterday, however, I had a client appointment at 1:00 PM and it was already 12:15. There would barely be enough time to get to the office and change unless I took Hawthorne on a sunny SoCal Saturday afternoon. From the top of the Hill to my office, which is just before Del Amo on Hawthorne, I took the lane. The only place I edged over to make way for traffic was on the section of Hawthorne after PV Drive North where there is a nice wide section that allows cars to pass safely at speed.
All the way on Hawthorne the traffic was incredibly dense. At first I was apprehensive, but I just took the whole right lane, and rather than scooting up the side when I caught a red light so that I could be first off the line when it turned green, I patiently waited in the car line for the light to change. The result was awesome. I had zero conflicts and didn’t even try to hammer to “keep up with the flow” which would have been impossible anyway. I’m not sure if it was because weekend traffic is less angry than weekday commuter traffic, or if this is really how “take the lane” works most of the time, but it certainly raised my confidence level and left me feeling like an equal on the road rather than a hated obstacle.
Vehicular cyclists believe that bikes are vehicles and therefore entitled to use roadways without being forced into riding like gutter bunnies, or having to navigate crazy-ass bike lanes that stop after a mile or that scrunch you into the door zone.
A good experience like Saturday gets me a lot closer to seeing it from the vehicular cycling point of view.
April 28, 2013 § 87 Comments
USA Cycling hates black people.
You think that’s an exaggeration? I don’t. And in fact, it’s hardly surprising. African-Americans have been discriminated against in the sport of cycling since its very inception. The greatest American bike racer of all time, and one of the greatest athletes ever, Major Taylor, was a black man. Virtually every race he ever started began and ended with racial epithets, threats of violence, and race hatred of the worst kind.
Cycling’s hatred of black people was global. When Taylor went to Europe and destroyed the best track racers in the world on their home turf, founder of the Tour de France Henri Desgrange, a noted racist, was so incensed that he refused to pay Taylor’s prize money in banknotes and insisted that he be paid in one-centime pieces.
Taylor quit the sport he dominated because he couldn’t take the relentless racial hatred. He died a pauper.
White people succeed, black people are a threat
The history of most major American sports goes like this: White people create the sport and set up the rules so that black people can’t play. African-Americans begin playing in segregated leagues, and they are so good that some white team somewhere decides it would rather risk the wrath of segregationists than keep losing, so it recruits a star black player.
The black player stomps the snot out of the white players, sets records, and generally blows away the competition. All the while he’s doing this, the athlete deals with death threats, constant harassment, segregated facilities, inferior wages, and grudging acceptance.
Finally, other teams begin recruiting blacks, and the African-American becomes much more highly represented in the professional league than he is as a percentage of the population. White people call this integration. Blacks call it having to be ten times better to get a fraction of the wages and benefits of their white counterparts.
Cycling’s no different
Like NASCAR, competitive cycling remains an extremely white sport in the U.S.A. Unlike stock car racers, though, there are tens of thousands of black recreational cyclists. Cities like Los Angeles have large and thriving African-American cycling clubs and riding groups. But when it comes to competition, there are few black racers compared to the number who ride recreationally.
One reason is likely cost. Unlike baseball, basketball, and football, which either have low equipment costs or are available through the schools, cycling requires kids to purchase expensive equipment that is beyond the reach of most working families.
Another reason is USA Cycling. In addition to having no blacks on its board, the organization does nothing to promote cycling among blacks. To the contrary, it goes out of its way to discourage them and to pass up opportunities to get poor children on bikes.
Remember Nelson Vails?
USA Cycling’s favorite way of passing up opportunities is by ignoring the sport’s black spokesmen. If you started racing in the 1980′s one of the guys you probably admired was Nelson Vails. In addition to his silver medal in the 1984 Olympics, he and Mark Gorski were the dominant track sprinters of their day.
Nowadays Nelson crisscrosses the country marketing his brand of cycling products and participating in “Ride with Nelly” events that bring together black cyclists as well as any others who want to chat and ride with a living legend.
USA Cycling’s interest in working together with Vails, or highlighting his contributions to the sport, or using him as an ambassador to the black community, or working with him to get more inner city kids on bikes? Zero. Vails does it on his own.
Contrast that with the old boy network at USA Cycling, an organization whose board is whiter than a Klansman’s bedsheet, and how it deals with other stars of the 80′s. Jim Ochowicz was head of USA Cycling for four years during Dopestrong’s heyday and as recently as 2012 was saying that Lance Armstrong “earned every victory he’s had” to anyone who would listen.
Mark Gorski worked for USA Cycling as director of corporate development, and Chris Carmichael, another white hero from back in the day, worked for USA Cycling from 1990-1997 as national director of coaching. Carmichael is infamous for the forced injection of drugs into junior national team cyclists, a despicable act that led to litigation and a confidential settlement in 2001.
Nelson Vails? The charismatic, gregarious, friendly Olympic silver medalist who travels year-round promoting cycling all over the USA? Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Why? In my opinion, it’s because he’s black.
Letting black racers know they’re not wanted
This policy of ignoring great black cyclists and turning a blind eye to the development of cycling in the black community isn’t limited to ignoring old heroes. The best black bike racer in cycling today, Rahsaan Bahati, former national champion and perennial force in big national crits, continues to be singled out by USA Cycling because he’s black.
Two years ago Bahati was deliberately crashed out at the Dana Point Grand Prix. The video is breathtaking. After the accident, Bahati slammed his sunglasses to the ground in anger, for which he was fined and suspended. [Update: Readers noted that Bahati actually threw his glasses at the oncoming pack, and later took responsibility for his fine and suspension.]
The rider who crashed him out received no penalty at all, even though the whole thing was on video and is one of the most brazen examples of evil and malicious bike riding you have ever seen. Check the video here if you don’t believe me. Seconds 39-42 are unbelievable, but not as unbelievable as the fact that the rider who got punished was Bahati.
Similarly, at an April race in Florida, a spectator reported Bahati as having caused a crash. USA Cycling suspended him, but not before telling him that he could “appeal” if he paid a $300 fee. As a courtesy, they provided him with the provisional ruling. Hint: After we take your money we’re still going to suspend you. Bahati has now missed three of the most important and potentially lucrative races on his calendar.
Get it? Someone intentionally crashes out the black dude and the black dude gets suspended. Someone reports that the black dude caused a crash, someone not even in the race, and the black dude gets suspended.
Get it? The black dude gets suspended.
The travesty goes beyond the obvious. Bahati is one of the few successful pros of any color who spends significant time and money spreading the cycling gospel. In Milwaukee last year he visited an elementary school to fire up black kids about cycling. USA Cycling, rather than lending a hand, prefers to designate him as Public Enemy.
Race and the local crit
The irony is that black bike racers don’t get into the sport to make a political statement. They do it because they like racing bikes. What’s even more to the point, among local racers in Southern California there’s relatively little racial friction when blacks race with whites, although the Rule of Black still applies: You better be twice as good as your white counterpart if you want their respect.
Respect, of course, is exactly what riders like Justin Williams, Corey Williams, Charon Smith, and Kelly Henderson have earned. Guys like Rome Mubarak in NorCal, and Mike Davis and Pischon Jones in SoCal are just a few of the black bike racers who mix it up in the group rides and races every week, but for every one of them there are a hundred more black cyclists who should be racing and winning.
USA Cycling’s approach to growing the black base? Suspend the most charismatic spokesman and ambassador of fair play in a kangaroo court.
Tell ‘em how you feel
If you think that your voice doesn’t matter, you’re right. If you think it does matter, you’re right.
USA Cycling deserves to know that you find its treatment of Bahati and its failure to support black cycling despicable. Email their CEO, Steve Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org with this simple message: “Free Bahati.”
And you can tell him I sent you.
April 26, 2013 § 21 Comments
When I rolled up with my daughter and son in-law to the Ruby’s Diner in Redondo Beach, I was out of my comfort zone. I’d taken up Jim Hannon of Beach Cities Cycling Club on his invitation to join his ride up to LA’s Ciclavia. We would intersect Ciclavia in Venice and then take part in the daylong cycling festivities.
What is Ciclavia? It is proof that Los Angeles is one of the great cities in the world. More importantly, it’s the most subversive and revolutionary activity I’ve ever been part of.
The city shuts down a major road or series of roads to car traffic and makes the streets the province of people and bicycles rather than automobiles. When we merged with the event, which had already been going on for a couple of hours, I thought I would be prepared to see one of LA’s most iconic roadways, Venice Boulevard, clogged with 200,000 people riding bicycles.
State-sponsored subversion is the best subversion
And until you do the Ciclavia, you won’t be ready for it either, because it completely upends our notions of what this city is, what the streets are for, and who the people are who really make up our larger community. For example, did you know there’s a guy who rides a fourteen-foot high bicycle with no brakes that is so tall he has to mount it from the second floor of an office building? I suppose he’s doing his part to convince skeptics that bicycle riders aren’t batshit crazy.
Did you know there’s a group called Compton South Side Riders for World Peace who have the most beautiful hand-crafted chrome easy-riders that you’ve ever seen?
Did you know that the fat lady lying flat on her back with the paramedics trying to get her heart going again shouldn’t have eaten so many gutbusting lardburgers before throwing a leg over and riding 35 miles from downtown to the sea and back?
Did you know that LA is a brown city?
Did you know that tens of thousands of children have bicycles and love to ride them in the street?
Did you know that most people don’t ride bicycles with stretchy lycra panty thingies?
Did you know that cars are the enemy, and that they are not vital to our existence?
Did you know that with planning and cooperation, huge swaths of a city like LA, famed for traffic snarls and the supposed “automobile love affair,” can be turned into one giant playground for kids, families, and people who just want to enjoy being outdoors?
Did you know that if you open the streets to people on bicycles, small businesses have an actual competitive advantage over the giant chain stores?
Did you know that tens of thousands of people ride fixed-gear bicycles and virtually none of them are hipsters?
Did you know that the police are smiling and in a good mood when they’re policing bike traffic instead of chasing cars on the freeways, in fear for their lives and ready to shoot on sight?
Did you know that bicycles bring people together because bicycles are a metaphor for freedom, and a tool to make people free?
That’s “Mr. Fred” to you, pal
I would discover these and a thousand more things, but at the start of the ride I had my hands full grappling with my stereotypes. The Beach Cities Cycling Club people were the kind of people I never ride with, and their behavior was so bizarre that after we’d gone a half-mile I wondered whether I could make the ride. Of all the weird things they did, the weirdest was talking. Yep, they talked to each other, and I don’t mean the conversation you and I have on the bike, you know, this one:
“Hey. How’s it going?”
Followed, of course, by a flurry of attacks and panting and gasping and a relentless 2-hour hammerfest.
No, the BCCC folks had these weird conversations that were slow paced, that exchanged information, that were filled with laughter, and in which the people actually got to know each other. And no one screamed at anyone else or shouted, “Pull through, wanker!”
Like I said, I was freaking out.
The weirdness of this crowd intensified as we rode. They stopped at every single red light. The first time I almost crashed out. “Don’t they know that those lights are suggestions?” I wondered.
They stopped at stop signs, too. “Wow,” I thought. “So that’s what those are for.”
They pointed out obstacles in the road instead of swerving at the last minute and dragging the rest of the group over the open manhole cover.
Then, the thing that blew my mind was the sweeper. That’s right. They had a dude who was one of the stronger riders sit at the back and make sure no one came unhitched or got lost. “WTF?” I wondered. “As long as they’ve got a sweeper, how are they going to bury and abandon somebody 50 miles from home? How are they going to shred their friends in a paceline and leave them for dead? How are they going to attack, out-sprint, drop, and humiliate the people they like? Don’t they know that cycling is supposed to be an extended index of misery and pain?”
Clearly they didn’t, and then an even weirder thing happened. I started talking to the person next to me. Like, it was a real conversation, the kind I’m told people have with their spouses. By the time we reached Venice I was relaxed and had gotten to make friends with several different people, learning more about them in a few short miles than I’d learned about the countless cyclists I regularly meet up with on the Donut Ride or NPR. For the first time since I was a kid I was on my bike and the purpose of the activity wasn’t riding the bike.
“It’s not about the bike,” I told myself. “Hey, that’s a good name for a book.”
The ride was fun, but the fun didn’t involve a beatdown. I can’t really describe it. It was fun without being painful and awful and ending with a crushing defeat. I know, you can’t understand it, either. But it was. Why? Because this pain-free fun stuff, well, it’s pretty cool.
And on June 23, the date of the next Ciclavia, I’m doing it again.
April 20, 2013 § 9 Comments
I’m no patriot.
I don’t love my country, right or wrong.
I don’t think this is the greatest nation on earth.
And I don’t believe that soldiers are heroes.
The nickname that’s not a nickname
One of our South Bay stalwarts we call “Major.” What with all of the nicknames that get bestowed in the peloton, it’s easy to forget that we call him “Major” for a reason: He’s a major in the Air Force, and he’s nothing like Yossarian’s Major Major.
Our Major never skips a pull. Our Major never gaps out. Our Major always makes the break.
Most importantly, our Major is always straight up. You’ll get a good word when you do right, and a sharp rebuke when you don’t.
Looking for sugar coating? Look somewhere else.
The day job
Amidst the silliness of cycling in the South Bay, we often forget about the real world. Maybe that’s the point. Then something happens to remind us about the hungry maw of toothy reality that’s there whether we acknowledge it or not.
I learned via a Facebook invitation that there would be a send-off party today for Major. Send-off for what? Deployment number three. I don’t believe in patriotism or foreign wars. But I believe in my friends.
I believe in this guy’s honesty, decency…his humanity. I’ve seen it too often not to know what a rare man he is, and the thought of him going off to a war zone, again, fills me with fear and dread.
It fills me with dread not because he’s a hero but because he’s a good friend going off to do a dangerous job. But then I think about him as a representative of our country. I think about his character and his uncomplaining yet fully aware attitude towards his work. I think about how, of all my friends, he’s the one who never brags about his country or makes a big deal about what he does for a living, though he’s the one entitled to do both. I think about how when people abroad see him they will think he’s a typical American.
Then, reflexively and unconsciously and even embarrassed I flush with pride. Come back to us safely, Major. If you’re the face of our nation I guess I’m a patriot after all.
April 18, 2013 § 8 Comments
My most recent post is on the Cycling Illustrated web site at http://cyclingillustrated.com/2013/04/shift_er-by-seth-davidson/
They’re running it for five days on their web site before I port it over to my blog. I’m going to be posting two columns a month on their site. They’re doing an incredible job publicizing local and national cycling events, and I’m really pleased that they’ve included me in their efforts.
You can order a print version of their magazine from their web site. They were kind enough to ask me to do the lead-off column for their inaugural issue, and even threw in a photograph that made me look like I was semi-sort of-halfway-potentially legit on the bike. You and I, of course, know better.