Gummed to death

November 17, 2018 § 2 Comments

The other day we had a grandbaby crisis, lots of crying and general dissatisfaction with the way things were being run, in other words, “Where is mom?” and “I don’t wanna be babysat by grandpa and grandma,” and “Waaaaah!”

First you gotta check all the likely “Waaaaaah!” culprits, because at seven months there’s not a lot of verbalization going on, so we did the diaper sniff, and then we did the “Maybe he’s tired and will go to sleep with a bit of patting,” (Naaaaaaaa but dream on).

Then we moved to “Hungry” and mashed up some banana and that worked wonders for a few minutes until the “Waaaaaah!” started up again.

There is nothing on earth that will grate your nerves into a fine paste quicker than a squalling infant; evolution has that frequency dialed in to every human’s receiver. In desperation I went into the kitchen and reached into the bread box. All that remained was the heel of one of my sourdough loaves, which was more than a week old and hard as cement.

“Think he’ll eat this?” I wondered aloud. It was denser than a brick and the week of maturation had made the outside of the heel so hard that it would have dulled any but the sharpest chain saws.

I took it over and gave it to the baby, who jammed it into his mouth. Immediately a gusher of drool poured forth, sopping the bread and his shirt. He jammed it in harder and bit down. I kept waiting for him to throw it down or spit it out, but no. More drool, and I do mean enough drool to start a bird bath.

He had stopped crying and seemed satisfied so I went back to my book, looking up every few minutes to check. The outer edge of the heel was softened from the drool and he kept gumming it as hard as he could. “He’s probably teething,” I thought. “And I bet this feels lots better than a plastic toy, plus it tastes like food. Heck, it IS food.”

After another half hour the impermeable bread brick had begun to fall apart, turning into a gummy smeared paste that covered his face, hands, clothes, and the floor. He attacked it over and over with amazing strength and satisfaction until the former piece of asphalt was wholly dominated by his fingers and gums.

I guess sourdough is healthier than plastic, too.

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Death comes to the BigLaw(yer)

November 16, 2018 § 12 Comments

My #coachnotcoach sent me a happy news article about a lawyer who loved his job so much that one morning when he got to work he blew his brains out. This is apparently common, as attorney jobs go. Many lawyers hate their fucking jobs so much that a bullet to the head is preferable to another day on the job.

Fortunately, I’m not one of them.

But the story behind the death of Gabe MacConaill, the LA BigLaw partner who shot himself, is instructive for a lot of reasons. Of course the primary victims in the story are MacConaill and his wife, Joanna Litt. I know firsthand that suicide wrecks more than the life of the person who is wheeled off in a gurney. If the person was close to you at all, his death is your fault, and you carry that around with you every single day for the rest of your life.

But the idea that MacConaill was somehow victimized by his firm is a false narrative, or at least a distorted one. MacConaill worked for Sidley Austin, a huge firm that, like all huge firms, thrives on the misery of its employees.

No one goes to work for BigLaw thinking that anyone there gives a melted plastic fuck about them. BigLaw, and you, are there for money and money alone. BigLaw doesn’t make the world better, people safer, or promote justice. It exists to fuck the faces of everyone and anyone who stands in the way of corporate profit.

I know plenty of BigLaw attorneys, and some of them are fantastic people, especially on the bike. But in the cubicle jungle of the skyscrapers they work in, they sweat blood in a competition-promotion hierarchy that eats the weak. Death, illness, addiction, divorce, insanity, and horrific personal misery are not simply risks of the trade, they are often its inevitable wages.

MacConaill, a partner at a monstrous firm, was ground up by a corporate Chapter 11 filing by the Mattress Firm; apparently he was the point guy on this very big case–“very big” meaning “lucrative for The Firm.” Such jobs are similar to working for the Mafia in this way: Everyone who belongs, knows they belong. No one is an “accidental” hit man or a “How’d I get this corner suite?” partner. Unlike the Mafia, though, with Biglaw you can always walk away. In theory …

Both MacConaill and his wife, a fellow lawyer, knew that they were sacrificing short-term happiness so that he could cash a partner’s paycheck that would, they hoped, some day lead to long-term happiness.

THIS IS HOW ALMOST EVERYONE IN THAT MEATGRINDER THINKS: I WILL BE MISERABLE TODAY SO THAT I CAN BUY HAPPINESS TOMORROW.

But it turns out you can’t, and it’s not simply because happiness isn’t for sale, it’s for a reason far more profound: Tomorrow isn’t for sale. The only thing for sale is today.

Ride yer fuggin’ bike

I continually run across people who have thrown away their lives cycling. Steve Tilford is the best example. He could have done anything and been anyone, but he chose to ride his bike because it brought him pleasure and because it allowed him to bring pleasure to those around him.

When his life ended, no one bemoaned the life he had chosen. No one regretted the piles of money he never made, the fancy cars he never drove, the luxurious vacations he never took. All they did was reflect on what a passionately good, honest, bike-loving, bike racing guy he was, and how he had spread that happiness in word and in deed.

There’s a moral there somewhere.

END

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How tired are you?

November 15, 2018 § 5 Comments

I was talking to a friend who said “Man, I am tired. My legs feel terrible.”

“Then you should rest,” I said

“Are you crazy? Tired legs mean you’re fit.”

I shook my head. “That’s nuts.”

Then I remembered a conversation I once had with Derek the Destroyer. “Best results come when your legs are tired,” he had said.

“That’s fucked up,” I had dismissed it.

A couple of days ago I was having coffee with my coach. Actually I don’t have a coach. He is more like a friend. Actually, I don’t have any friends. He is more like someone I bought a cup of coffee for. Actually, he hates coffee.

“So what’s all this bullshit about tired legs being good?” I asked.

“It’s true. Tired legs mean you are fit.”

“Dude, my legs are fuggin’ NEVER tired.”

He shrugged. “You’re proving my point.”

“So are you always tired then?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“Like how tired?”

“I fall asleep mid-day. Can’t focus. Constantly disoriented.” Then he nodded off mid-sentence. I shook his shoulder.

“So I should be more tired?”

He blinked like an owl. “Where am I?”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” I said. “2019 is gonna be the year of the tired, starting now.”

Coachnotcoach nodded, smiled, and drifted back off.

Getting on the program

I went home and took out my trusty notepad to sketch out my training plan. Obviously I had been going way too easy on myself. I get up at 4:30 AM every morning, and since I go to sleep at 9:30, that’s a whole seven hours of sleep. I immediately penciled in 3:30 as my new wake-up time.

Then I reviewed my usual schedule, which looks like this:

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Easy spin

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Brisk pedal

Friday: Coffee cruise

Saturday: 3 hour spin

Sunday: Rest day

Factoring in my new training plan, which was to always be tired, I came up with this revised schedule:

Monday: Easy 3-hour spin

Tuesday: Ten 30-sec. intervals followed by NPR, followed by 20 miles of hard climbing

Wednesday: 1-hour all-out effort

Thursday: 4-hour climbing ride with The Big One, Anchovy, Friendship Park, Domes x 2, Via Zumaya, the Woods repeats x 3

Friday: 50-mile coffee cruise with one 20-minute threshold effort

Saturday: 40-mile warm-up, Donut Ride, 40-mile cool down

Sunday: 150-mile easy recovery ride

No slack in the schedule

It was pretty obvious that the above schedule was going to tire me out so that I would really be able to go fast, but it seemed like I’d overlooked something, and I had: Nutrition. Turns out I am overeating for a true exhaustion training plan, so I went through my normal diet, which looks like this:

  1. Breakfast: Piece of bread
  2. Lunch: Piece of bread with a teaspoon of peanut butter
  3. Snack: Half a small banana
  4. Dinner: 100g of plain pasta with salt

This type of gluttony wasn’t going to cut it, so I went immediately for the overage (and I know it’s hitting you in the face like a bucket of spit), which is clearly the banana. So the new Exhaustion Diet looks like this:

  1. Breakast: Half a piece of bread
  2. Lunch: Small cup of water
  3. Snack: Smaller cup of water
  4. Dinner: Salt

Anyway, please check back soon as I will be updating this blog with the results of my new training plan. You are free to use this plan, but please give me proper attribution.

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Special movie news, from my friend Kurt Broadhag: There will be a screening of the RAAM movie on Nov. 28th at the AMC Galleria South Bay 16 at 6:30 pm. For the show to go through, he needs 40 more people to purchase tickets within the next five days. You can get tickets at: https://tickets.demand.film/event/6316

High school reunion

November 14, 2018 § 5 Comments

I went out and did the NPR today, but not before posting the Wanky NPR call sign on Facebagland, “Switching to Glide.”

It was kind of like the old days, a reunion of sorts minus Sausage, Eric A., Hair, Davy, Rahsaan, G$, Surfer, Derek, and a bunch of others. Still, plenty of tough riders answered the call including the legendary Head Down James, making his reappearance for the first time in ages.

My goal was to go hard until I couldn’t anymore but I got more than I bargained for. Head Down James, Chris Rothermel, Shoutypants Faye, Sleepy David Ellis, and Ram-Ram lit it up on VdM. Cam Khoury blitzed after World Way Ramp, and by the time we were on the Parkway people were already gassed.

James, Chris, and a couple of other riders hit it again and they were gone. The group chased hard until the turnaround on the first lap. The leaders had a red light and they simply stopped. No breakaway rules, they just stopped and patiently waited. We “caught” them, otherwise they would have been gone for the day.

After seeing that kind of stone cold restraint, I’m never running an NPR red light again. Chapeau, guys.

I kept drifting to the front, taking a swing, then drifting to the back. Rudy Napolitano showed up and all hell broke loose. James kept the gas on and people were getting shelled left and right, then playing hop-in-wanker as they cut across the Parkway to hitch back on when the group rolled back around.

I made a hard effort halfway into the second lap, then eased up because my legs were shot as the group came by on the golf course bump. I waited until the last rider then dug, almost at the top, to get back on.

For the first time ever, I couldn’t. It was only about 20 yards to cover, which was about 19 yards too far. “Man,” I thought, “this is a combination of old age and being really weak.”

As I rode alone for a bit, then Tim Gillibrand, the 95-year-old guy who still comes out twice a week, passed me. “That all you got?” he said with contempt.

Yeah, Tim. It was.

END

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The word’s the thing

November 13, 2018 § 4 Comments

When I was a kid I remember reading about the Holocaust for the first time. I think I was nine or ten. I couldn’t believe it, sitting there in the air-conditioned Bellaire Public Library, gazing in disbelief at the photos and disbelieving it even more as I read, then re-read, then re-read again.

Somewhere along the four-dimensional trip to adulthood I learned about the cities of Peking and Bombay, and I became familiar with them in the news, foreign places on a map with which I was comfortable because I knew their names. Peking? Capital of China! Bombay? Magical city of India!

What’s in a name? Everything about the thing, that’s what! The name casts its spell on the thing and makes it what it is, that is why we give them.

One day I noticed with a nasty shock that Peking had been erased from the map, replaced with a clumsy and unspeakable proper noun, “Beijing.” Theft! Grand larceny! Kidnapping! Fraud! Where the fuck is Beijing and who cares, anyway? I want my Peking back!

It took years to absorb that awful new name, but now it is the correct one, and even writing down “Peking” seems laughable, an effort, a word you should only use as an adjective for “duck.” It took longer to understand why Beijing, and later Mumbai, were such proper, such good, such authentic words. They were so because those words, not Peking and Bombay, were the words that the original givers had given.

It was only through theft and colonization and historical rape that white men with clumsy tongues contorted the gentle, melodious tones of Chinese and Hindi into the butchery of anglicized nomenclature. It was only through time and travel and force-fed humility that I came to recognize the propriety of people owning their own culture, and doing it first and foremost through the power of naming.

Unlike the Holocaust, I don’t remember when I first came across the Holocaust deniers. At first I couldn’t believe it, but then, of course I could. And with them came an even more evil tribe, not simply people of flat-earth intellect who challenged demonstrable facts, but people who didn’t deny the fact and instead appropriated it.

“WE HAD OUR HOLOCAUST, TOO!” was their battle cry, not because they felt pity or shame or horror or revulsion or loss at the destruction of European Jewry, but because they knew that by appropriating the words of one of the chief horrors of humanity they would weaken it, casualize it, deflect it, normalize it.

Because I love words, they seemed somehow more evil than the deniers.

Righteousness where I have come to expect it

Every morning I awake, put the kettle on, and listen first to the RFI Chinese radio broadcast and then to the podcast from Falter Radio. Falter is a liberal, aggressive, fair, investigative, thought-provoking newspaper in Austria. Its podcast is always stimulating, sometimes spellbinding.

As a matter of course it reports on every variety of social ill befalling Austria, with a special place for anti-Semitism. And it was about a year ago that I noticed a new word had cropped up: Shoah. Either I was slow on the uptake (highly likely), and/or the word Holocaust had been excised from the media, much as Peking became Beijing and Bombay became Mumbai.

Then a friend sent me a brilliant recent speech by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an exhortation to his nation to essentially be good and kind. And when he invoked the past, he did it with the word of the people who named the thing: the Shoah.

END

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A star is born!

November 12, 2018 § 30 Comments

The worst thing about masters doping scandals is that there is nothing even vaguely scandalous about them. Outrage? At what? Some narcissistic, saggy old fart stealing money from other narcissistic, saggy old farts?

In the case of Steven Strickler, the latest in a hoary line of SoCal masters “athletes” to get busted for doping, there is not much I can add. I’ve raced with Strychnine for about ten years and have never beaten him when it mattered. He couldn’t climb but like Meeker the Beaker and Tatty-Poo LeoGrande, he could sure race an old farts’ crit.

The last few years I always wondered how a guy who looked well into his third trimester could consistently get on the podium. “Experience. Savvy. A lifetime of bike racing,” I always thought as I eyed his prodigious gut. It never occurred to me that aw-shucks, Gomer Pyle Strickler was a drug cheat, which is my way of saying “I am a complete fucking moron.”

This past year he stood on the podium a bunch, often on the top step. I was always impressed when he showed up with his monster gut, fit as a beach ball, and still somehow made the split. “Talent and a lifetime of bike racing,” It didn’t occur to me to add, “and a whole bunch of banned drugs.”

Although I always assume the very worst about anyone who races a bike, not limited to doping, Strychnine never seemed like a doper. First, my theory has always been that the vast majority of dopers are in the middle and end of the field. Second, the people who invariably get on my radar are the donkeys who grow the legs of a racehorse, like this wanker who I wrote about a while ago and is still just killing it. You know, the guy who can barely hang on one year and is dragging the field around like a tin can a few months later.

Strychnine was also disarmingly aw-shucks. Unlike The Beaker, who made you want to take a shower after talking with him, or like Tatty-Poo, who had the silent churn of a guy thinking about how to immediately exercise his 2nd Amendment rights, Strychnine was a grinning goofy dude who was savvy and quick.

Team statement

Now I’m waiting for the team’s statement. Something along the lines of “Steve is a complete fuckhead for tainting all of us, ripping off promoters and competitors, and doing it in our team colors.” Uh, yeah. Ain’t gonna happen. Just like when The Beaker got the boot and everyone over at Amgen kind of mumbled and then went on about their business. “Rich who? Oh, the guy we’ve been racing with for ten years? Him? Uh, I dunno, man. I had noooo idea.”

What team is Steve on, you may be wondering? None other than the G3 Foundation, a non-profit that allegedly supports clean groundwater projects in poor countries. I say “alleged” because here’s the organization’s info on Guidestar. Oh, and super cozily, Strickler is also CEO of the company that shares the non-profit’s name. Lots of transparency here, folks.

As you cruise through G3 Foundation and Strickler’s FB page, they are simply carrying on as usual. No comment about Steve’s cheating, no comment about Steve tainting the entire team, zip. Why? Because no one on the team feels tainted? Racing with, sponsored by, and buddies with a drug cheat is no big deal? Huh.

But don’t get too bothered by this “business as usual” approach because it’s simply business as usual. Doping so thoroughly part of the SoCal masters racing scene that if it is ever eradicated, the fields will be thin, indeed. Oh, what I am I saying? THEY ALREADY ARE. As the threat of having to pee in a cup gets more real, gran fondos and The Stravver look lots better. Strickie is a cheat, a dude who would gladly dope for the thrill of a win, but what does it say about all the people who simply mumble and carry on?

Hint: Nothing good.

A brief history of SoCal Masters Doping

The illustrious list of masters cheats includes Rich Meeker, Nick Brandt-Sorenson, Kayle LeoGrande, and now Steve Strickler. With the exception of Brandt-Sorenson, whose “about” section on his clothing web site says that he “stopped racing 14 years later after competing against some of the world’s top professional cyclists” (AND WHY WAS THAT, NICKY?), these guys have won a whole bunch of races.

On the bright side, Strychnine’s demise may hasten one worthy goal, which is the total collapse of masters racing. Although I’m not hopeful enough to think it will spill over to the aged track cheaters competing for a “world champion” jersey as they out-dope two other feeble riders for their “world champion” title, perhaps this bust will add one more nail to the coffin of USAC-sanctioned masters cheating, uh, I mean, racing.

Chris Lotts, one of most offensive people to ever promote a bike race and therefore perfect for the job, had it right when he identified masters racing as the sport’s predominant cancer. Mast-holes suck time, attention, and money from the only area that can possibly sustain competitive cycling–juniors and Cat 5/4 racer recruitment and development.

Was I the only person who noted the sick contrast of having the #fakeworld #masterstrackchampionships at the same time that America’s underfunded, largely ignored elite track program was in town? The same program gunning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with #3 in the world omnium racer Daniel Holloway? Is there any incongruity there? Guess not … better hit the boards hard to get my rainbow jersey as I beat that other 70-year-old.

Witness the absurd lengths to which mast-hole road racing has metastasized, even as events vanish and new rider numbers implode. Mast-hole teams demand and get bikes, clothing, and equipment discounts when college clubs are groveling for $500 sponsorships to defray gas costs. National road champions like Justin Williams have to compete for resources with guys who “race” in the 55+ category.

But you can feel good about your membership on G3 because they are helping poor people get clean drinking water. They say. And what’s a few injectables when we are saving lives over in Africa? Africa is a country right? Well, they’re saving people somewhere.

If anything, everyone with a USAC license who is over the age of 40, if not 35, should shred his/her license and donate the money to a junior or a Cat 5/4 rider. Why? Because you can’t possibly have any reasonable doubt left that old fart races are rife with cheaters.

Probably would have lost anyway

The fact is that the winning dopers, without drugs, wouldn’t have won as much. But they still would have won. Bike racing is too much a combination of smarts and strength for a few injections to put you over the top. Look at Icarus Wankarus, the documentary that exposed the Russian Sochi doping program, if you want to understand the old adage that you can’t make a donkey into a racehorse.

Filmmaker and super donkey Brian Fogel did everything right in his quest to dope to victory and he still sucked. Why? Because he fucking sucked, and people who fucking suck can’t buy the podium with a syringe.

Strychnine, The Beaker, Tatty Poo, and Thorfinn-Assquat were good bike racers. If they had stayed off the juice they wouldn’t have won as much, and some of the glory would have been spread around a bit more, if glory is what you call winning $50 while standing atop a wooden box and being buffeted by a sandstorm in the desert as absolutely NO ONE looks on or gives two broken fucks.

Every year ya gotta re-up

No matter what anyone says, after a certain number of years #fakeracing bikes, you find yourself asking the hard questions as you contemplate forking over money for yet another overpriced USAC racing license. Questions like this:

  1. Why am I such a moron?
  2. What is wrong with me?
  3. What normal person could possibly enjoy this?
  4. Why can’t I quit?
  5. Would someone shoot me now?

As the circle of douchebag cheaters gets bigger and bigger, what possible reason is there to continue? The scenery at the brokedown bizpark crit?

For this worn out old shoe, there is no reason. At least I can thank Steve Strickler for finally showing me the door.

END

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Screenshot (56)_LI

No time for life

November 10, 2018 § 15 Comments

I went for a ride today, my first pedal in 30 days. It was tiring but it felt great. I needed a break, and a break I got. While riding, a friend was telling me about a guy we knew who used to ride bicycles. “Yeah, Ol’ Joe doesn’t ride anymore.”

“How come?”

“He got busy with work.”

“Does he still like riding?”

“He’s crazy for it.”

“So how come he doesn’t ride?”

“Like I said, he got busy with work.”

“Does he need the extra money?”

“Nah. But you know. Business is busy.”

Cart before the horse

I thought the whole point behind working was to make money that you can use to help lead a quality life. Unless it’s out of necessity, if you are working so much that you can’t do the things you love, what is the point of working?

I see it everywhere here in the South Bay. People have nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, nice vacations, all the trappings of a “good life.” But most of them are still gutting out a day job that they don’t really like. The saddest ones are the (mostly) guys who are retirement age but keep plugging away simply to keep the paycheck coming, the paycheck they don’t even need.

What is wrong with people? Don’t they know that virtually everyone who was alive in 1918 is dead?

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