Hi, Mom — settling in (Part 4)

September 11, 2014 § 6 Comments

Hi, Mom

The flight went pretty good because there was no f***** and the guy next to me didn’t want his pretzels.

I will be keeping this short because there’s a lot going on. One of my new teammates Joe Snodgrass met me at LAX, so you’re Porky Tubbs he asked and I said you must have me confused with someone else, I’m Blitzkrieg Billy. He laughed and took me to my new place but he won’t be laughing when I open up the can. He is a skinny little dude and I can tell the team is already depending on me to bring home the bacon, Snodgrass doesn’t look like he could ride more than ten miles without passing out. My new place is about a thirty minute drive from the beach. My address where you can send me care packages (love you, MOM!!) is:

Billy “Blitzkrieg” Tubbs
13385 Rosecrans Ave., #101
Compton, CA 90220

I asked Snodgrass why it’s not in LA and he said you don’t want to live in LA. LA is run down and filled with bad neighborhoods he said, in fact LA is just a bunch of smaller cities all cobbled together. Did you know that Beverly Hills and Hollywood aren’t actually LA? Neither is Compton, although it’s in LA it’s not LA. It’s kind of confusing.

There were a bunch of my neighbors standing on the corner watching me move in. I waved at them and said hi but they didn’t come over and talk or anything. I don’t know if they’re unfriendly or what, maybe in California people don’t shake your hand and want to meet newcomers. Also, it looks to me like there’s a belt shortage in this town. Those guys’ pants sag any lower they will be showing things that no one wants to see until after a few beers.

Anyway, the Team Ding-a-Ling bikes are very trick, Snodgrass handed over a road bike and a cyclecross bike. I will try them out tomorrow but for now I have to get my things situated.

PS: Tell Pap that he’s gonna be pretty tickled when I open up the can on one of these local tough guy training rides Snodgrass told me about. He told you what that means, right?

Love you, mom.

Your son,
Blitz

PPS: I’m thinking about an extra nicky to go with Blitz, like “the Hammer.” How do you like Blitz the Hammer?

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Hi, Mom — just call me Chester (Part 3)

September 10, 2014 § 6 Comments

Hi, Mom

You know on Southwest’s in-flight magazine they have that guy Chester Karras? The one who looks like a snake and charges money to teach “negotiating” skills? Well this old Texas boy knows a thing or two about negotiating and Krankewitz knew he’d been in a fight when I got through with him.

Here is how it went down. He picked me up at Paul’s and said you aren’t gonna make it in SoCal if your only nutrition is beer. He was looking at all the silver bullets laying around the apartment and I said there’s a sandwich in every sixpack and he said it looks like you’re wearing about a hundred of them sandwiches around your gut and they are all made of ham. He thinks he’s funny but we went over to Hooter’s for lunch and to talk business.

They had happy hour prices on silver bullets so I had a few but Krankewitz is a beer snob. That’s not beer it’s colored p*** he said and I said there’s places in India where you drink your own p*** and he said maybe so but at least it doesn’t cost three dollars a glass. I took your advice and went straight to the point, mom. I told him look, if you want the big swingin’ who knows how to open the can it’s gonna cost you more than a handshake and a couple of silver bullets. He said what are you thinking and so I laid it out for him, $1500 a month until the road season starts, plus a place to live, a couple of bikes, kits, and the works.

I’m not seeing the results for all that he said and SoCal isn’t Potter County. Bahati and the Williams brothers and Charon Smith aren’t exactly going to burn their racing licenses when you line up and I said who are they. You would know if you’d ever been to a race outside the ArkLaTex, he said and I came back with well they would know Billy Blitzkrieg Tubbs if they ever set foot in Potter County. Yes they would know he said because they would have won all the prize money for the next ten years if they had.

Those guys don’t scare me at all I said and he said well people weren’t scared by nuclear bombs until August 1945 whatever that was supposed to mean. I told him again what I wanted and he said who have you beat and I said I came in fourth to Higgins at my last race. Higgins he said. Higgins couldn’t outsprint a fire hydrant if you gave him a hundred meter head start. That may be true I said but he beat everyone on Team Ding-a-Ling like they had been put in concrete and cured in the hot sun for a few years and he said well he beat you too and I said even a monkey falls out of the tree from time to time and the next time Higgins plans on whipping me in a bike race he will need an extra leg and a motor.

To make a long story short Higgins said he didn’t have that kind of money lying around what did I think he was the manager of the Lakers and I said I hope not because they couldn’t win a game if you lowered the hoop four feet and made them play a team of midgets. So we agreed to $400 a month. He said LA isn’t that expensive because I’ll be going everywhere by bike anyway and judging from my eating habits as long as there’s enough money for beer I won’t need any food either.

I think that is a good deal for now. When I open the can at my first cyclecross race I will ask for more money.

PS: Speaking of money I need a plane ticket could you book me on Southwest for tomorrow? Any time is okay but try to get me an A boarding pass. The last time I was in C and had to sit next to a guy who f***** the whole trip and it stank so bad I couldn’t sleep even though I f**** back at him the whole trip. They put all the people who f*** in the back I think. Thanks mom I love you!

Your son,
Blitz

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Hi, Mom — stabbed right in the back (Part 2)

September 9, 2014 § 4 Comments

Hi, Mom

You are not going to believe this but when I told Cindy the great news about the Big Time all she could say was I’m not leaving Amarillo. I was so stunned I couldn’t say anything. She has been working at the feedlot for fifteen years now and she says she doesn’t care about the smell and it’s a steady paycheck which is more than you ever had, those are her words exactly. I guess we find out pretty quick who supports our dreams and who doesn’t, but it’s still a huge shock to me. I guess you were right when you said she wasn’t good enough for me and now that I think about it she has changed from the girl who used to work at Hooter’s that I met and fell in love with all those years ago.

Safe to say we are done you can stick a fork in her and I’m glad I took Pap’s advice when he said Don’t buy when you can rent, and my favorite, Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Of course ol’ Cindy’s milk has got too sour for my taste.

Thanks for taking my side when you told Pap about my big news, he just can’t understand that in order to chase your dreams you have to make sacrifices and it’s true I’m 36 and I know by that time he already had his first hog farm but the athletic world is a bit more difficult than raising pigs although actually alot of the racers remind me of pigs. Tell Pap that next year is my breakout pro year and with Team Ding-a-Ling we are going to tear it up. He may even see me on TV if you guys still get Off The Wall Sports from the dish, I think it’s Channel 974 because this year they will broadcast the Tour de Utah and that’s our team’s big goal, to get an invite.

By the way, Cindy put all my stuff out on the curb and I’m staying with Paul Dinkins over near WT. It looks like I may need some more money so if you could put another couple hundred in my account that would be awesome. Love you, mom!

Tomorrow morning Krankewitz is coming through town on his way to California and I will get the details about Los Angeles. I’ve decided to demand some money up front since I’m basically taking a big risk on his team and would be leaving everything I’ve built here in Amarillo and Paul’s couch for LA. That’s okay with me but he needs to put up some earnest money because in pro sports real talent doesn’t come cheap. I’m thinking of a cash payment of $1500 and some kind of monthly guarantee until they make a decision on my cyclecross results. What do you think, mom?

Of course when they see me open the can they will know they are getting the deal of the century. I did some sprints with Dinkins this morning and poor guy he couldn’t come around a tree stump. My power numbers look good too, if I keep on a tear like this they will need to add another digit on the Garmin. I want to encourage Dinkins but he doesn’t have a future in this sport unless it’s as a mechanic or a bus driver, kind of like all the other losers here in Texas and Oklahoma and Arkansas. You would think they get tired of me beating them to death but they don’t.

Love you, Mom.

Your son, “Blitz”

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Hi, Mom — a new beginning (Part 1)

September 8, 2014 § 4 Comments

Hi, Mom

Well it is a new beginning for me at last. Like I told you this would be a breakout year for me with the Amarillo Flyers and it was. After I poddied at East Lurchford and Tonkinville and got fourth behind Higgins at the Tour de Sumpkins I caught the eye of Brad Krankewitz he is the team manager for Team Ding-a-Ling. They are a regional powerhouse in northwestern Idaho you have probably heard of them. Their sponsor is Ding-a-Ling, the electronic doorbell company that has almost a total monopoly on doorbells in northwest Idaho and they are looking to grow their market in Southern California with a first class bike team.

Mom, this probably makes you almost as happy as if I said I have a job and this is going to be one once I get my pro contract. Krankewitz wants me to move from Amarillo to Los Angeles next month so I can try out for the team by doing the winter cyclecross season there. Cyclecross or cross as it’s known is one dumb sport from what I have seen. You run around with your bike and jump over tires and jog upstairs while carrying your bike. It looks pretty easy from what I have seen on YouTube just riding around in the dirt carrying your bike which is pretty stupid. They are about to get shown up on their home turf but that’s life.

Anyway if I can get some results in cyclecross then Krankewitz will give me a pro contract for the road season in ’15 which will be my big break because you know I am not getting any younger but neither are you, ha ha! Cindy is going to be thrilled with our big move to the Big Time she’s going to be pretty darned happy for us to be moving away from behind the feedlot and smelling cowsh*t from the minute you wake up until you go to bed at night and on your laundry. She has been my rock and I think she and I have a future, mom, I care about her alot. But I wanted to tell you first because you are my mom and I love you! Also I am kind of short on cash again this month so if you could pop $150 into my account that would be great thanks and I love you!

In case Pap is negative again tell him that Team Ding-a-Ling is giving me a free bike and a place to live on the beach in Los Angeles where it’s great training and I can show the pros there what kind of stuff I’ve got. I will be opening the can on a regular basis, Pap will know what that means. Also I will get free clothing not like those cheapskates on the Flyers who aren’t pro at all and I’m still waiting for my race reimbursements from 2012. Plus Ding-a-Ling race kits look very sheik and stylish not like the Flyers with that big vulture carrying a bloody dead skunk in his claws splashed across the back of our jerseys.

Also I am working on a new nicky for the big move to the Big Time and instead of Porky like those a**h**** on the Flyers always call me I’m thinking about Blitzkrieg which goes well with my name, Billy Blitzkrieg what do you think? PS Blitzkrieg is a word I looked up on the Internet it is from World War 1 when the Germans invaded England and it means lightning war you would know about that because that was your growing up days, right? I will be opening the can and bringing the blitzkrieg to those California softies, this Texas boy will make his momma proud. PPS Dad can tell you what opening the can means.

Love you Mom (don’t forget the money),

Billy (you can call me Blitz if Blitzkrieg is too long)

The taco strikes back

September 7, 2014 § 9 Comments

I rode my bike to the Milt Olin protest ride on Wednesday. It was in Calabasas, a solid two-and-a-half hour pedal from the South Bay. Milt was run over in the bike lane by a cop who was texting on his phone and typing on his mobile computer. The ride was organized to protest the decision by assistant district attorney minion Rosa Alarcon not to file misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against the deputy.

Even a slap on the wrist, apparently, was too much to ask.

There was a soul-sapping headwind all the way out the bike path. At CotKU, no one was waiting to join me, understandable since most people at 2:00 PM the Wednesday after Labor Day weekend are working. Coming into Santa Monica the most frightening thing in 32 years of bicycling happened.

I was riding in the bike lane on Main Street, just north of Abbot Kinney, when a Range Rover going the other direction swerved over into my lane. Accelerating to well over 50 mph, the bearded psycho leaned out the window and spit at me. Unfortunately for him, the onrushing wind blew the spit back into his face. Nor could he hop back into his lane because he’d overtaken three cars traveling in his direction, so he went even faster.

When I turned around to shoot the bird, he jerked back into his lane so hard that he almost flipped his car. I imagined the headline: “Cyclist killed en route to memorial ride for killed cyclist.”

Farther along in Santa Monica I stopped at the Ocean Park toilets but no one was waiting there either, so I pedaled on. Ascending Topanga Canyon I was passed by Peppy, the British neo-Cat 4 who regularly drills, grills, and kills on the NPR. “I waited at the Ocean Park toilets,” he said. “Where were you?”

“I didn’t see anyone so I kept going.”

“Um,” he said, exacting his vengeance with a nasty pace all the way up the climb.

We reached the assembly point for the memorial ride. There was a helicopter, as well as news trucks from every major TV station. The assistant district attorney’s decision not to prosecute had outraged the bicycling community. “Rosa Alarcon licks balls!” said one angry cyclist.

We put on arm bands and rolled out at 4:30, heading towards downtown, a mere three hours distant, through the worst traffic in the San Fernando Valley. I only had one water bottle and it was empty. The air in the valley was wretched and loaded with marble-sized particulates. A hacking cough began and we caught every light, hundreds and thousands of them, all the way to downtown. At one point our group split in half when the leaders rolled through a yellow light.

We remnants didn’t know the route and the leaders vanished in the distance. A mad chase ensued, with me and Peppy doing a desperate time trail to bridge and alert the leaders that half the group was four stoplights and twelve light years back. The hacking cough migrated down to the lowest part of my lungs.

In Burbank we were joined by a rider who was wearing a Total Team Sky Outfit And Team Bike. He looked just like Chris Froome except for his backpack, in which he carried a portable, hi-fidelity speaker. It was connected to his iPod, and he blasted us with an endless stream of terrible music, including Elvis, the Beatles, New Age Christian, hip-hop, Frank Sinatra, and jazz fusion. The music was so loud that when it paused between songs the background noise of LA’s rush hour traffic sounded muted, silent, pastoral.

This lasted until 7:30, when we reached the LA County District Attorney’s office. The ride had swelled as we crossed the city, and a candlelight vigil was held in Milt’s honor. Marv, Don, Brendan, and JF had joined the ride after work, and these four South Bay riders, along with me and Peppy, headed back home on Venice Boulevard in the pitch black.

It might as well have been Venice-Roubaix, so cracked and scarred and chug-holed were the roads. We had lights, but speeding along in a pace line they only illuminated the ass of the rider in front. Peppy had bonked and I was dead, even as the fresh South Bay foursome laid down a grueling pace.

JF, who had been noticeably absent from the working end of the paceline, came to the fore at last and put in a mighty turn. Peppy had yet to take a single pull, and I was about to pop. Suddenly JF, forty whole seconds into his effort, shouted out “El Dolor del Estomago! The most famous taco truck in the city!”

Almost taking us all out with a might brake and swerve, JF zoomed into the packed parking lot, where fifty people stood in line for the best of El Dolor’s offerings. Half an hour later we were standing against a trash can, each polishing of a mound of chicken-and-habanero-bean tacos.

Whether it was the energy of the food or the roaring volcano in his bowels, Peppy came to life. Everyone else retreated the other way, towards death, as he dragged us at 30mph down the barely-lit, cratered asphalt of Venice Blvd. After several miles Brendan dropped off, pleading menstrual cramps. Marv spied a blinking light that said “Beer” and vanished. JF, whose idea the taco stop had been, metamorphosed into a rolling effluent pipe.

We all parted ways on the bike path, except for Marv, who had been smart enough to stop when he found an open bar. I made it to Malaga Cove at 9:30 and called my wife to pick me up. I’m sure I’ve felt worse on a bike, but it’s hard to pinpoint when. Then I thought about Milt Olin, struck down in the prime of life, father and husband, killed by a cop who was too lazy to pull over and text.

My exhaustion evaporated and I felt grateful for being alive and angry at the kangaroo court’s cowardice. What happened to this kind and gentle man could happen to any of us, and on the way to the ride, in my case it almost did. Over a 150 people showed up on bikes and crossed the entire city to register their outrage and to demand justice for Milt, justice for every other person who dares risk death simply by riding a bicycle. With only three months left before the statute of limitations tolls, time is running out for the DA to do the right thing.

Won’t you take a few minutes out of your day to make your voice heard? The link is here with contact information and sample letters to email the DA. With prime time news coverage on every major news channel, District Attorney Jackie Lacey can be called to account only through the strength of your voice. Please help. Don’t give up.

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Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers may soon control Garmin computers

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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How to break your tongue

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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