Leadout

June 21, 2017 § 28 Comments

I’m a simple person.

I like cream in my coffee.

I like toast for breakfast with butter and jam.

And I want to win Telo.

I’ve come to terms that #3 is never going to happen, but every week rebel mightily against reality. I have it in my head and there are 24 or 25 chances a year to win and this is the week.

When I say win I don’t mean set a new PR or make the breakaway. I mean cross the finish line first.

It’s a very simple concept, except that after innumerable starts, it’s never happened, and as I get older and slower and apparently a bunch dumber, the chance of winning, which was always infinitesimal, keeps getting smaller.

As Derek the Destroyer says, “Your race results are largely decided by who shows up,” and at Telo there are always at least four people who can sprint faster than I can, if not forty.

Yesterday, there were seven.

Before the fake race started, Derek, explained the race strategy, which went like this:

  • Frexit wasn’t there.
  • Smasher wasn’t there.
  • EA Sports, Inc. wasn’t there.
  • Hair wasn’t there.
  • [Complicated race analysis] + “follow my wheel.”

The analysis part actually meant something, but for me, once the race started I knew I would forget everything. But I remembered “follow my wheel.”

At the last moment Alx Bns showed up, along with the Hun, and then at the very last minute Surfer Dan, and of course Heavy D., none of whom I was ever going to beat in anything, much less a sprunt. However, with [complicated race analysis] + “follow my wheel,” there was a chance that something good might happen.

Until Ronnie showed up. Ronnie is the current Pro/Cat 1 leader in the CBR Sprint Cup standings. He’s about 25 years younger than I am, and about 30 times faster. We started the one-hour beatdown at 6:00 PM pointy-sharp and everything was fine until it wasn’t.

Somewhere between 6:NOAir and 6:VOMIT I looked up and there were only eight riders left. Ronnie and Derek had methodically attacked until there was nothing left, and each time they got pulled back someone else would counter.

With three laps to go Derek said something to me that I couldn’t hear so I nodded as if I did. The entire race I had followed Rule 1 of Steve Tilford’s Bike Racing Ten Commandments, which was “stay off the front.”

With one lap to go everyone slowed down and got ready for the sprunt. Patrick Barrett slotted in behind Derek but I somehow got back on the wheel after Turn 2, into the headwind. Derek motioned for me to stay there, as if anything other than a punch to the face could have dislodged me. We entered and exited the chicane and everyone bunched up on the right.

At just the right moment, Derek jumped to the left, into the wind. Miraculously, I was in a small enough gear to accelerate with him. Miraculously, I was able to follow. Not so miraculously, he then began pulling away. Miraculously, I realized that if I didn’t get on his wheel at that very second I would be finishing eighth out of eight. Not so miraculously, waves of doubt and pain overwhelmed me. Miraculously, my legs kept pushing. Not so miraculously, I wanted to cry. Miraculously, I didn’t crash into his back wheel as he whipped through Turn 3. Not so miraculously, I couldn’t see or breathe or think and then boom Derek went wide, leadout finished with one turn and 400 yards to go and the last words I heard were “At least you got second, Seth!” and I had no idea what that meant because there were eight of us and I could see Ronnie’s shadow on my wheel and I whipped through the last turn and it was weird because Derek’s leadout had been so vicious and fast that even though I was gassed just by turning the pedals the momentum kept me going and as I waited for the swarm to pass me it didn’t and only Ronnie was left who easily kicked by for the win without much effort and in that split fraction of a second I was about as happy as I know how to be and parenthetically as I write this several hours later I still am.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

 

The death of first

June 20, 2017 § 25 Comments

My dinner table can be a pretty unforgiving yet hilarious place, especially when all the kids, spouses, and my grandson are gathered around. No matter how witty your repartee, it’s hard to keep a straight face when at least one of the dinnertime combatants is eating rice with his fist.

There’s a great deal of story one-upsmanship, with each person trying to tell a funnier tale than the one before, and at times you have to put down your fork, forget about chewing, and laugh for a while at the ridiculousness of people, like the angry constituent who called to complain about Obamacare. My youngest, who was interning at a congressman’s office, took the call.

“I don’t eat at McDonald’s! How come I have to pay for all those fat people with crappy diets?” the caller demanded.

“Well, sir, do you have a pre-existing condition?”

“Yes. I’m diabetic.”

“Obamacare forbids your insurer from canceling your insurance due to that. Without Obamacare, it will be much easier to drop sick people from health insurance, which sort of defeats the purpose of having it.”

“Really?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, all those fat people should shop at farmer’s markets,” the caller said before slamming down the phone.

As the comments ricocheted around the table, my son, who took countless of these calls over the last few months, shrugged. “It’s post-modernism. Facts are negotiable. They aren’t even facts anymore.”

Which got me to thinking about bike racing and USAC. I had spent a while earlier in the day talking with an SCNCA board member about the challenges facing sanctioned bike racing. My point, unbeknownst to me, had been very post-modern. I’d opined that there was no such thing anymore as winning; there were only different metrics for success.

This, more than anything else, is why sanctioned bike racing will only decline, even as ridership mushrooms.

Time was, when you wanted to respond to the gnawing insecurity troll that lived in your head who was constantly asking, “How fast are you?” the only way to answer was to race yer fuggin’ bike.

Every bike race had a winner, and except for one-off events like Madison or the TTT, “winner” was singular. Everyone else lost the race and would try again next week, where they would almost certainly lose again. All outcomes were binary.

And not only did every race answer the question “How fast are you?” but it answered simply: Your speed was determined by how long it took you to cross the finish line as compared to everyone else who started with you.

The nature of bike racing therefore meant that you didn’t win very much, if ever. But you were guaranteed a clear answer to the question. That’s what you were purchasing. An answer.

In our post-modern world, we are ruled by quantum physics. Things are this, unless they are that, and of course sometimes they are both at the same time, and by the way, you can never know how fast you are going unless you’re willing to not know your position, and conversely, we can tell you where you are but not simultaneously your speed.

The quantum physics, post-factual nature of the universe has crushed a lot of things, bike racing included. You can be a winner without ever doing a race — on Strava. You can beat a world-class field in a major Euro stage race without ever leaving your garage — on Zwift. You can drug dope and you can data dope. You can adjust your speed and placing by weight, gender, age, location, and year of competition to twist the outcome as surely as you can sniff an inhaler, inject EPO, or take testosterone to be faster than you would have been without it.

And there’s no winner-loser in a grand fondue, which is a race that isn’t even a race that qualifies for a world championship masters title that itself is a race … except when it’s not.

Your variable metric for success can be applied to gravel racing, to century rides, to group rides, or to personal races run on power meters, heart rate monitors, and Garmin head units. You had the biggest left-leg power output of that Strava segment ever. Or among 50-55 men who weigh between 200 and 210 pounds. Statistics may be worse than damned lies, but they are infinitely comforting because they will whisper back to you whatever you want them to say. OTB in a hilly road race or 47th in the sprunt won’t whisper anything back except “You suck.”

If you did a ride and didn’t win SOMETHING that is quantifiable, demonstrable to others in the form of an e-trinket or data point, you are clearly doing it wrong. All wrong.

The anachronistic search for a winner offered up by USAC-sanctioned events is as vain a search as trying to explain the perihelion shift of Mercury using Newtonian physics. The theory won’t fit the observable phenomena because no one wins anything anymore, except at the temporary slot in spacetime where they choose to set the goal posts.

Thanks to this post-modern acceptance of #altfacts and #quantumphysics, more people seem to be riding bicycles as a result, and enjoying them.

I’m good with that, except of course when I’m simultaneously not.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

 

240 whats?

June 19, 2017 § 62 Comments

The longest I ever rode my bike was 150 miles, when a couple of guys snookered me into riding from Utsunomiya to Inubozaki and back. I still remember being miles and miles and hours and hours from home when the guy who had arranged it said “I quit” and checked into a hotel with everyone else except Saito-san, the lone guy who knew the route home.

I never spoke to any of them again.

Riding long distances is fun for some people, but not for me, although every year I do the French Toast Ride, which is 118 miles, and in the past I did four editions of the Belgian Waffle Ride, which is 130-ish, and I recently did 140-ish in Mallorca with a nice young man who wanted to do his first century. I think he gave up at 100 miles and 11k of climbing and called his uncle for a ride home.

But every time people suggest I do a long ride with them I politely decline, usually by saying “No fucking way.” In fact, my rando friends had an intervention earlier this year in which they tried to get me to commit to riding my bike for a long time for no particular reason.

“No fucking way,” I said.

So it stands to reason that on Saturday I rode 240 miles.

Then on Sunday I spent Father’s Day eating without pause and unsuccessfully rolling around in bed trying to find an angle at which everything didn’t hurt at once. The whole disaster was my own fault, as usual, and it started with the same lie that every big bike ride starts with: “This is a no-drop ride.”

It had seemed like a great idea at the time. There was a sagged ride that would pedal from Brentwood to Santa Barbara, with some riders leaving from Van Nuys to get the even century, and then we’d all take the train home. We’d chat along the way, have a jolly time, eat lunch in SB, and do something different from the usual Death Cab for Roadie that these things always devolve into.

The obvious deception in this well-worn package of lies became apparent in Brentwood, when James Cowan, Leo, Nigel, Reeven, and Steven all showed up ready to do the ride after having already done a quick 30-mile “warm-up” loop that included climbing Las Flores Canyon Rd.

Strava it, is all I can say, and if that still sounds like a warm-up for anything besides a funeral, you are insane. Then they said that they would be riding back from Santa Barbara to make it a solid 200+ day. Of course all this was done with much preening, flexing, and Rapha-ing.

I rolled my eyes. “You guys are complete idiots,” I said.

Five miles into the ride, we found out who the idiot was as the leisurely no-drop ride had it pinned at 30 on PCH. Although it was easy sitting in the group, I was wondering about the handful of riders who looked like that speed might be a formula for early detonation. I turned to Larry. “I’m going to float to the back for a minute and see how folks are doing,” I said.

Larry laughed. “We are the back, dude.”

In the distance I saw my friend Debbie vanishing behind into a tiny speck, about to spend the next six very sociable hours plodding alone into a headwind on the coast road. I dropped back to her and watched the group furiously pound away.

“They’ll wait for us,” Debbie said, confidently.

“Yes, they will,” I agreed, knowing cyclists perhaps better than she did. “In Santa Barbara.”

Debbie, who is slim and fit, slipped in behind me, I throttled it back to about 18 mph, and we pedaled the next ten thousand hours into a battering headwind until we got to Carpinteria, by which time I’d gone through most of my single water bottle and both of Yasuko’s homemade granola bars.

We stopped at the Starbucks and I had a bag of chips, some water, and an espresso. We remounted and shortly out of Carpinteria ran into Chris Hahn, who was going the other direction. He turned around and guided us into Santa Barbara, and we were able to chat and catch up on the latest masters crashout polemic and doping gossip.

At the rendezvous restaurant we expected to see our group but they weren’t there. Apparently they had rested at a park, gotten some flats, and made a bunch of unplanned stops, so Debbie and I actually rode there faster even at our modest pace. All I knew is that I was exhausted and looking forward to the train ride home. I’d been wearing that rotting kit since 6:00 AM.

We killed an hour at Handlebar Coffee, rode around Santa Barbara, and finally joined everyone at the restaurant. I was sitting there in my smelly kit, very hungry and picking away at a vegetable tostada I’d ordered that consisted of lettuce and tomato and a piece of avocado, while also eating baskets of chips and salsa. It briefly crossed my mind that this wasn’t the best day to embark on vegetarianism, but I’d finished the last part of a collection of stories by Miyazawa Kenji in which he had written about a vegetarian convention in Newfoundland in the 30’s that was crashed by lobbyists from the Chicago Slaughterhouse Union, and was inspired to try and live without meat for at least a day.

The beer began to flow and I fell into that morose alcoholic sobriety where you’re watching everyone enjoy their delicious beer, and I started thinking about the train ride back and how everyone would be happily drunk and I’d be sour as a bad pickle about having busted the wind all day and then gotten nothing but sobriety as my reward.

About this time the Cowan group began egging me on to join them for the ride back, and even though I was tired and had zero interest in the endeavor, I was in a foul and sadistic enough mood to want to observe such a friendly, confident, happy group of bleating sheep get delivered into the bloodthirsty jaws of Head Down James.

You see, Head Down James, although a relatively new cyclist with little understanding of the nuances of bike racing, is a relatively new cyclist with little understanding of the nuances of bike racing. Although devoid of tactics or guile, he is on the other hand devoid of tactics or guile. And whereas a beginner might mistakenly approach a 240-mile ride with a reckless display of murderous smashing, James approaches every 240-mile ride with a reckless display of murderous smashing.

I say “every 240-mile” because unlike randos, James sees no need to conjure rather long distances into impossibly longer-sounding stretches by use of metric conversion. Head Down James rides 300-milers, 400-milers, whatever-milers, and does it at one speed: Full smash.

We set out from Santa Barbara with plump tummies, and the vegetarian tostada + fried chips diet looked okay, at least initially. Several brave young bunnies gamely hopped to the front and set a very brisk tempo, proudly showing their youthful legs, happy optimism, and excited fluffy tails at getting the chance to do such a big ride with Head Down James. In my estimation they were all about to get their skin torn off in narrow strips and have the remaining flesh charred live over an open flame.

The only rider who looked like he would not immediately have his head hoisted on a pike was Reese, a 40-ish dude with tri-bars who is fiendishly strong and more importantly, wide enough to give me a good draft. You could tell he was for real because his team kit, which was only six months old, already looked like it had been used to wash the undercarriage of a Peterbilt. I tucked in while the bunnies frolicked, awaiting the inevitable, which happened at about the 30-mile mark.

People were starting to get that funny look of twice-tasted Mexican food; Steven had already been shelled once on the 101; Reeven had opined that “5 minute pulls were optimal,” Leo was deathly silent, and everyone else was huddling at the back only to find that with eight riders in a sidewind THERE IS NO BACK.

Somewhere on RV Alley, Head Down James took a pull. I don’t know how fast it was. I don’t know how long it was. But I know that the faces of the riders were twisted in pain, and short little bunny gasps were in plentiful supply. After a very long time that seemed much longer, Reese rolled to the front. It made the pull of Head Down James looked like the efforts of a kindergarten tug-o-war team. After a while, but before he was done, I decided to make a brief excursion to the fore of the ship to see what all the ruckus was about. My acceleration might have been a bit brisk, brisker even, than, say, the already brisk pace of Reese.

By the time I flicked my elbow the only two sailors left on HMS Idiots were Reese and Head Down James. This was good because the bunnies had been set free from the clutches of vivisectionist James. It was bad because it was fairly obvious that I was now going to be the next rabbit on the operating table.

I’ve never done a rando, but if, at mile 183, they’re still doing 28 mph, I don’t ever want to. Reese mercifully flatted. I lay down in the parking lot of Surf A Hoy and hoped he never got the flat fixed or that North Korea had targeted its first nuclear launch for Oxnard. James did donuts to keep his mileage up.

We got going again, but the “we” part evaporated on Hueneme Road. “Guys,” I said, “I’m done.” Although I had sat on, refused to pull, and hidden like a mouse running from a boa in an aquarium, the combination of speed and total absence of draft from Head Down James ground me into bits.

Head Down James look back for a brief second, swerved and took me through a giant pothole that almost shattered my rims and spine, and looked kindly at me, kindly as in “the way a shark rolls its eyes back into its head before sinking its razor-sharp teeth into your soft gut, which spills out a trail of soft intestine and foamy gore.”

“Okay,” he said, and they vanished.

Or so it seemed.

A couple of miles later Reese was standing up against a fence in a playground with a dazed look on his face. “Dude,” I said, with insincere concern, “are you okay?”

“My toe is cracked and I have to restraighten it,” he said, or some other gibberish, which I instantly understood as “Head Down James bored a hole into my skull so please let my brains dribble out in peace.”

“Okay,” I said, without stopping to make a fake offer of help, although I made sure he could hear me downshift.

For a very long time I rode alone. Although there are a lot of unique physiological changes that your body goes through when you are stretched that thin on a few leaves of lettuce and parts of a tomato, the major one is The Feeling Of Stupid. “Why am I here? Where am I? When will this end? Whose fault is this? Who do I know who lives nearby?”

These and a million other variations of “You are a complete fucking idiot” played in an infinite loop until Reese passed me somewhere around the Rock. “All better?” I asked, grateful for the draft.

“Yeah,” he said, blasting by. For a while I sat on his wheel until, faster and faster, I couldn’t. He vanished.

It had been overcast all day and now I was alone in a dense fog on PCH and freezing cold. I hated everyone, especially my rando friends in Sacramento who had made me do this, and my wrists hurt. My neck hurt. My back hurt. My ass had been grated with chunks of razor coral. My glasses were fogged over. Then, around Neptune’s Net, I saw a red blinky light–it was Reese again.

“Dude,” I said, “I didn’t think I was going to see you again.”

“It’s my heart,” he said. “Every so often when I go too hard for too long it starts spiking.”

“What’s it at?”

“201,” he said.

“You’ll be fine. I think as long as it’s not your age plus 400 you’re golden.”

“I have to dial it back until it drops back into the 180’s.”

“Okay,” I said, attacking him on the small roller and leaving him for the defib crew.

Many more miles went by and Reese caught me again. Now we were both too tired to attack. We laughed at how stupid we were. We cursed Head Down James, silently and in the open. We compared notes on the trail of burrito and salsa puke that the bunnies had left in their wake. And we finally got to Trancas.

Trancas, holy Trancas! Home of the Chevron and Saint Dr. Pepper and His Bottled Holiness Frappucino and Father Snickers, the divine and dogly Father Snickers, ambrosia of the dogs!

I had gone through my second water bottle for the day and was thirsty. We ate as much sugar as we could and then, horror of horrors, as we left the gas station we saw the most gruesome thing imaginable: The bunnies were pulling in as we were pulling out.

“Want to wait for them?” Reese asked.

“Fuck no,” I snarled. We pretended we didn’t know them and raced on.

With renewed energy and sugar in our veins we flew through the pitch-dark fog of PCH as stoned surfers, drunk beachgoers, and horny teenagers pulled out of the Zuma Beach parking and headed for more drugs at Moonshadows. Reese and I took turns until somewhere after Cross Creek, where he sat up and gave me the thousand-yard stare.

“I’m done,” he said. “Good riding with you.”

A wave of kindness and camaraderie flowed over me. I don’t know if it was the distance, the exhaustion, the fact that we’d already disproved whatever it was we set out to prove, or maybe it was simply a kinder and gentler me who wanted to show respect to a stronger, superior rider and all-round decent guy.

I smiled and sat up. “Okay, man. Hope you make it home.” I downshifted and rode off. [Editor’s note: I never heard from him again. If anyone knows what happened to Reese, please send condolences to his next of kin.]

After Temescal Canyon Rd. the traffic on PCH became bumper-to-bumper, and my speed was about that of the cars. As I cruised along peeking in the windows I saw normal people drinking beer, texting, and having a nice life although they admittedly killed the odd pedestrian or cyclist here and there. They seemed peaceful and happy. None of them could fathom that of all the people on PCH at that very moment, I was the dumbest.

By the time I got to Manhattan Beach I had made a list of all the people whose homes I was going to stop by and from whom I’d beg a ride home. I had rehearsed my speech, which went like this: “Hi, Derek, I know this is weird it being 9:30 PM on Saturday night and all and the baby is probably asleep and you and the missus are naked but could you drive me home? I’m very tired and am on Mile 230. Please? I have ten bucks and half of a smushed BonkBreaker as payment.”

What I couldn’t get past was how I’d explain having left on an all-day ride without my phone. If there was one thing Derek liked to say it was, “The great thing about Uber is you never have to call a friend to bail you out.” Who would understand it? Not even Manslaughter, although I pedaled by his house to see if the lights were on. They were, which meant he was watching NASCAR and so, no chance there, either.

I ran out of supplies in Hermosa Beach and stopped to buy another Dr. Pepper. I totted up my expenses for the day:

  • Ms. WM’s granola bars: $ .25 each
  • Coffee at Peet’s: $1.85
  • Ride fee: $20.00
  • Coffee and chips in Carpinteria: Free
  • Piece of lettuce in Santa Barbara: Free
  • Unused train ticket home: $36.00
  • Donated BonkBreaker: Free
  • Dr. Pepper & Frapp & Holy Snickers in Trancas: Free
  • Dr. Pepper in Hermosa: $1.85

The closer I got to home the more my mind tried to figure out ways to not have to pedal there. But my legs were okay, my blinkies were still working, and my raging case of fire in the hole had subsided just enough to throw a leg back over.

I got to the bottom of the hill in PV and girded my loins for the final 30-minute climb. There were no streetlights and no traffic. I was swallowed up by a silence so complete that all I could hear was my gritty chain. At the bluff overlook on Via Del Monte I gazed at the brilliant city below. A young couple was standing there holding hands, oblivious to the filthy and tired old man laboring by with a raw ass and defective mental condition.

Eventually, like all colonic obstructions, the miserable climb passed. My wife greeted me at the door. “What happened to you?” she asked in horror, having expected me home hours earlier.

“What happened to me? James happened. Head Down James.”

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

 

Sacrifice one to the bike dogs

June 17, 2017 § 25 Comments

Yesterday I went to pick up my son who had finished his freshman year of college. It was a hugely successful year and hit the trifecta of no arrests, no drug dependencies, and no paternity. His straight A’s and etcetera were icing on an otherwise perfectly baked cake.

I recalled that when we had moved him in, he didn’t have much. Everything plus him and two parents had all fit into the Volt. But after school started he added a small fridge and a bike so when I made plans to pick him up I knew that we’d need a different vehicle because of the bike.

I called Enterprise and rented a Ford F-150 for $36.00. It had a quarter tank of gas in it, and it cost another $36.00 to fill it up. My eldest son is home for a few weeks from Vienna so we left at 5:00 AM pointy-sharp to beat the traffic.

“You know,” he said, “when you have to leave somewhere at five o’clock to miss traffic, that somewhere hasn’t really figured out the transportation thing very well.”

He had a point.

Shortly before we got to Santa Barbara I called my youngest. “You got your stuff ready?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “It’s all out here on the curb.”

“Is it a lot of stuff?”

“Not too much, but I don’t have the bike.”

“You don’t?”

“No. I lost the key and one of my friends is going to cut off the lock this weekend.”

“But you’ll be back in LA.”

“I was thinking about hanging out here for the weekend to, uh, you know, hang out with my friends and stuff. I’ll take the train back to LA on Monday and take the bus to PV.”

The “stuff” part had me mildly concerned, but what could I say? He’d made straight A’s. “If I’d known you didn’t have a bike I wouldn’t have rented this truck.”

“What truck?”

“We rented a truck to bring back all your stuff.”

He was apologetic, even though it was my fault for not having checked. “I’m sorry, Dad. And there’s not a lot of stuff, actually.”

“No worries,” I said as we pulled up to the dorm. There he was, with all of his earthly belongings on the sidewalk. “We’re not going to have any trouble with that.” I was pretty sure you don’t need a full-sized pickup for six books, a shoe box, and a bag of dirty laundry.

We drove over to the Bagel Cafe in Isla Vista and ate. Coffee and breakfast with your two grown sons is a pleasure unlike any on earth. We laughed and enjoyed the early morning sunshine. Then we dropped him back off at the dorm and were back in LA before eleven, handily beating the traffic.

I never did find out what was going to happen to the bike.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

More important than masters racing

June 16, 2017 § 41 Comments

I got this email from a friend:

“My nephew started having a lot of problems three years ago. He has a tremendous amount of energy and anxiety, is continually in motion and was expressing extreme frustration with no outlet.

“He tried soccer, swimming, horseback riding, skiing, dance, but nothing seemed to be able to channel or exhaust his boundless energy. Last year I gave him a mountain bike that my son could no longer ride. My brother-in-law took him out on the MTB; he liked it but he didn’t like all the climbing. So they took to riding the safe streets in his suburb where the kids all stayed indoors, or sometimes you’d see kids riding around on electric scooters or Razors.

“My nephew was so nervous at first but my brother-in-law kept it up every Saturday, and then bought him a new bike for his birthday, a bike with a bell and a boom box, and the kid fell in love with it. Pretty soon all the kids on his block were dusting off their bikes and following my nephew, who is nine. These were kids of all ages, 7,19,11, even 15!

“More incredibly, his teacher even lets him sit on the bike in class to read, because she recognized that on the bike he could focus so much better. He now has a way to keep his brain engaged at top speed with fewer outbursts, no frustration, and no more pent-up anger.

“His parents finally have a tired kid who sleeps the whole night through; before he was up two or three times a night. He looks and feels awesome. My brother-in-law now takes him to local garage sales, where they buy bikes and fix them up; some cheap as five bucks.

“Any time you visit their house, even if you’re an adult, my nephew will throw you on one of his bikes and take you out to show you how strong he is. His life has been changed forever. With a bike.”

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Justice for Johnny

June 14, 2017 § 169 Comments

I will make this brief. USA Cycling is now “grappling” with whether or not James Doyle intended to knock down John Walsh in this video. Several commenters, here and on Facegag, have argued that you can’t really know what was in Doyle’s mind when he hit Walsh’s bars and therefore it wasn’t intentional.

Newsflash: You don’t understand intent or how it is shown.

  1. Intent can simply mean knowing the likely outcome of your actions. If you shoot a pistol in a crowded movie theater you can’t claim you didn’t intend to kill someone because in your mind you weren’t trying to kill the specific person who was hit by the bullet. You are presumed to know that firing the gun is dangerous. Therefore you had the requisite intent to be convicted of the crime.
  2. Proving intent doesn’t require the defendant to sign a confession saying “I intended to knock down John Walsh and send him to the ICU with life-threatening injuries.” You can prove it by physical evidence, by statements, by circumstance, and by past behavior.
  3. One eyewitness said that during the neutral lap after the crash, Doyle said that he had told Walsh to “give him more room and too bad for Walsh when he didn’t.” There was also allegedly a now-deleted Facegag post on Doyle’s page that intimated that the taketown was intentional. Countless riders have notified USAC that Doyle repeatedly exhibited the kind of aggressive behavior that crashed out Walsh. Admission, allegedly written statement, video, repeated past behavior–and USAC can’t immediately reach a decision?

USAC is already prepping the surgical field for a punishment that is less than a lifetime ban from sanctioned events. Chris Black, an SCNCA board member who has admitted that he has no role in the process but who nonetheless is close to the USAC official in charge of discipline, sent this gem yesterday to an outraged racer:

black_text

Wow. Not enough to take substantial action? What would it take? And why would he possibly say “the video by itself” when USAC has received numerous statements about Doyle’s behavior? To top it off, USAC is advising that it is more helpful to have eyewitnesses–sure, just like it’s more helpful to have a signed confession. But absent that there is plenty of evidence to carry the burden of proof here. Why are all these non-lawyers, non-judges, non-bike racers trying to pretend they are the U.S. Supreme Court?

My guess is that Chris Black has no idea what an intentional takedown is. [Note: several readers wrote to correct my misstatement regarding Chris’s racing background. Chris is an active racer with a long history.] What’s even more extraordinary is that Black is a former CHP officer and USAC official, proving once again that a lifetime of law enforcement and officiating has zero correlation with proper understanding or application of the rules.

Instead of making an outraged statement to the effect of “SCNCA will not tolerate reckless or dangerous riding in its events, much less intentional takedowns,” Black makes his unasked for and unprofessional judgment of what the evidence actually means and, more incredibly, how he thinks USAC will behave as a result.

Compare that with Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, whose organizing club, South Bay Wheelmen, is considering whether to ban Doyle from their upcoming race after viewing the video. Unlike Chris Black, non-bike racer, SBW members actually race and they don’t want a jackass like Doyle anywhere near them. SCNCA has lost over one-third of its members in the past year and a half, and with people like Black making absurd and reckless statements like the one above, it’s easy to understand why.

It’s also interesting to note that the promoter of the race where this occurred, Jeff Prinz, has been studiously silent, no doubt hoping that this won’t negatively affect participation in his upcoming July 2 race. Note to Jeff: Now would be a great time to reassure racers that Doyle won’t be allowed to race CBR, in July or ever. If you need someone to cover Doyle’s $35 entry fee so that you don’t suffer personal hardship by losing a race entry, hit me up and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, a criminal complaint has been filed regarding Doyle’s despicable actions. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has assigned DR number 17-022995 to the complaint. Please call (714) 647-7000 if you were an eyewitness or have video evidence that can assist with the investigation. Give them the DR number above so they can route you to the proper person.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Felony battery

June 13, 2017 § 124 Comments

When you enter a USAC bike race you waive most of your rights to sue anyone for negligently hurting you during the race.

But you don’t waive your right to sue people who intentionally hurt you. And you don’t ever waive your right to be protected from felony battery.

At the California masters state bicycling “championships” on Sunday, held in Ladera Ranch by promoter Jeff Prinz, a guy named James Doyle pulled a move that looks to me like a flagrantly intentional takedown. To view the video you have to type in either the password ladera45 or doyle.

The victim, John Walsh, wound up in the hospital with a bleeding brain, broken collarbone, broken back, and other ICU-worthy injuries.

If you are not a crit racer the takedown may not look obvious. If you are a crit racer, you will be shocked. Note that Doyle’s move appears completely premeditated. He is squeezed against the curb as he tries to pass at about 3:17, then backs off, waits for a gap to open, accelerates through, then lowers his shoulder and hits Walsh’s bars hard. Walsh is blindsided and goes down on his head. Doyle never looks back and sprints off.

In my opinion this was intentional, and not simply because I’ve raced countless crits and have seen riders make contact countless times and have been bumped countless times.

I believe this was intentional because in addition to the video, which is crystal clear, I know James Doyle. He is a despicable person. I’ve ridden with him and raced with him and I’ve been teammates with him, and the only way I can describe him is in Jekyll-Hyde terms. One minute he is super nice, a great teammate, and the next moment he is uncontrollably enraged.

Here are things I have personally witnessed this very bad person do:

  1. Scream psychotically at a woman on the Donut Ride who was startled when he came shooting up through a narrow, barely-wide-enough space between her and the curb. Note: This is exactly what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  2. Scream psychotically at any number of riders on any number of days who were startled when he came shooting up through a narrow, barely-wide-enough space between them and the curb. Note: This is exactly what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  3. Scream psychotically and challenge a very big and muscular (and friendly and gentle) cyclist to a fight when Doyle startled the cyclist with an outlandishly aggressive move on the Donut Ride. Note: This is similar to what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  4. Scream psychotically and challenge a rider, who also happens to be a homicide detective, to a fistfight during the finale of Telo. Doyle then added to his douchebag bona fides when he called the guy a “cupcake” after the detective laughed and declined Doyle’s invitation to beat the shit out of him. The “cupcake” is super friendly and has by his own count been in more than 300 fistfights (and lost two). People would have paid good money to watch fistfight No. 301 and the resultant tooth donation that Doyle would have made to the pavement that day.

These are only a few of the incidents that got James Doyle kicked out of our club. Numerous riders in SoCal have seen his antics and been appalled by them. One friend described him as “The most dangerous rider I have ever seen because he rides every ride and competition as if it were a short-track motorcycle race. He makes no distinction between aggressively riding on the last lap sprinting for a win and fighting for 38th position on the second lap of the race.”

I don’t know what to say except that USAC better revoke his license permanently; Jeff Prinz better make a public statement and ban this jerk from his races; SoCal riders better ostracize Doyle when he shows up; someone better file a felony battery crime report; and James Doyle better lawyer the hell up and pray the DA doesn’t press charges.

UPDATE: Preliminary indications from Chris Black at SCNCA are that USAC will likely not find anything in the video that would warrant disciplinary action. If you think otherwise, and/or have examples of Doyle’s dangerous riding, hostile and aggressive behavior, please email chodge@usacycling.org.

UPDATE II from USAC: On Jun 13, 2017, at 8:47 AM, Hodge, Chuck <chodge@usacycling.org> wrote: “USA Cycling has already begun an investigation under our Policy III. Per our policy all riders are afforded due process when there is the possibility of revoking membership rights.”
_______________

Chuck HODGE
Vice President of Operations
USA Cycling
210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO  80919
Mobile: 719-229-0732

Phone: 719-434-4264
Fax: 719-434-4316
chodge@usacycling.org
http://www.usacycling.org

Follow us! Twitter   Facebook  You Tube

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!