Team Quitter

March 30, 2015 § 3 Comments

How do you know it’s a shit day? When the Belgian Hardman winner from 2012 swings over to the side of the road and swipes Uber.

But there were so many little hints that Saturday’s 2015 Belgian Waffle Ride unofficial practice ride was going to be bad, little hints that, when added up, reached a disturbing conclusion: Failure is more than an option. It is a likely outcome.

Eric, Dan, and I had had done all the pre-ride preparation perfectly. We had woken up on time. We had eaten a hearty yet healthy breakfast. We had washed and oiled our bicycles. Most importantly, we had pretended not to have any cash so that Eric would have to pay for the gas to drive us down to North County San Diego.

We had opted to forego the local 50-mile Donut Ride and the 3-day San Dimas Stage Race because experience and common sense told us that knowledge of the BWR course would be vital to our survival on April 26. It would also give us some much-needed practice riding on dirt roads. The only part of our otherwise perfect preparation that we had left out was actual fitness.

This became apparent on the first dirt section. Unlike in years past, the 2015 BWR gives you a brief warm-up on paved roads and then plunges you down a 200-yard steep sand ravine that does a vicious 90-degree turn onto a lovely dirt track in a scenic valley. Several people chose walking the first section over certain death.

The pretty valley crosses a pretty stream and then rears itself up a long, endless, nasty climb that is a couple of miles long. Whichever rear cog you brought, by the last quarter-mile it won’t be enough. We regrouped and offered various excuses, each rider’s more innovative the the one before.

“Wrong wheels today.”

“These are totally the wrong tires.”

“My rear cog is the wrong one for this.”

“My cranks are too long.”

“I should have brought a compact.”

“Wrong chain rings.”

No one mentioned the obvious, i.e. having left the right set of lungs, heart, and legs at home and showing up with perfect conditioning for a 40-minute crit.

The ambitious 102-mile jaunt was scaled back after the first couple of dirt sections because we kept stopping for, um, me. Then my front tire fell into a paving crack and came within inches of sending me onto my face, and then MMX did the same thing just to show that he could almost kill himself more violently and recover better than I could, and then there were more flats, and then we had used all our CO2, and then Canyon Bob took out his mini floor pump and got us going again, and then Surfer Dan’s derailleur spring shot out into the bush and the rest of the assembly lodged into his rear wheel, and then Eric flatted, and then out came the mini floor pump again, and then I was THAT GUY at the end of Lake Hodges with everyone pissed off at having to wait, and then Baby Seal flatted, and by now Canyon Bob’s forearms had swollen to the size of huge pencils, which is big for a roadie, and then the group shrugged and said “Fuck you guys” and rode off, including that girl who we’d helped fix her brakes several times, and then Paul B. said he could take us up to Cougar Pass where the group was going, but we thought he was talking about a geriatric whorehose and declined, and then I told Eric he could do whatever he wanted but I was going back to the truck even though we’d given the keys to Surfer as he swiped for his Uber ride back, and then Eric TT-ed all the way back and we had a great hamburger but not before we scooped out the peanut butter sandwich mush from our jerseys and ate it like it was both tasty and food.

Next, we sat in three hours of traffic and got home at 6:30 PM, and Eric checked his Garmin and said we’d ridden 55 miles, five more than if we’d stayed and done the Donut Ride, and when it was all factored in we figured that we paid a total of $175.23 for those extra five miles.

Glad I didn’t have any cash.

END

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The enemy among us

March 28, 2015 § 54 Comments

[An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed the quote below to Patrick Brady, when in fact it was written by someone else and posted as a guest editorial on Red Kite Prayer, Patrick’s blog. I’ve corrected the mistaken attribution and edited the post accordingly.]

Some people never cease to amaze me. Even so, I was amazed to read this editorial posted on Patrick Brady’s blog, Red Kite Bore. The author thinks that a helmet law in California isn’t worth opposing. Whaaaaaat?

According to the author:

Bike advocate groups might consider what others see when they see us. They see people who run stop signs, weave in and out of traffic, ride in packs, take up a lane, and so on. It’s not a pretty picture. Sure, most of us are wearing helmets as we bend rules and traffic laws, but that’s not what the pissed off drivers see. So when they hear cyclists are opposed to a helmet law, it only furthers their belief that we are selfish, unpredictable and dangerous. Maybe we let this one go. Let the lawmakers and drivers have this one without resistance. We got our 3-foot law in California, we can put up with a helmet law on the books. Pick your battles as they say. This is one fight we can easily walk away from.

Presumably, the editorial is endorsed by Patrick and RKP, as it fits hand-in-glove with the kind of writing for which RKP is infamous. And this one is a real howler, especially the last two sentences, as if Patrick or RKP has ever picked a fight with anyone, anywhere, for the benefit of cyclists. In all of the advocacy I’ve been involved in, I’ve never seen Patrick show up for anything, even when there was free beer and pizza. Never seen him at a council meeting, never seen him on a “Take the Lane” protest ride down PCH, nothing, zip, nada.

So to hear the guy who gave rave reviews to the latest Bell helmet put up a guest post supporting the helmet law speaks volumes. Unfortunately, the author, Mike Hotten, is a friend and an accomplished cyclist. But he’s completely wrong when he thinks that the solution is to “let this one pass.”

But what’s most reprehensible is the description of cyclists and by implication himself as someone who is a complete asshole on the bike. While I wholeheartedly agree that his description fits Patrick, it hardly describes most riders who in terms of numbers are simply people using a bike to get from point A to point B. Even worse is the rationale: People hate us, so let them force us to wear helmets because if we oppose the helmet law they’ll hate us even more. Glad that RKP wasn’t selected to fight for a seat at a lunch counter in Alabama back in the 60’s.

Patrick and the RKP forum are as far from zealous cycling advocacy as it gets. He has zero racing cred, belongs to no club or racing team that I’m aware of, and has never shown his face at any local bike race I’ve ever attended even though he kits out in the fanciest stuff and yet pretends to be a commentator on bike racing. He’s the same guy who gave a descending clinic to new riders at the defunct PV Bicycle Center, and a year later crashed very badly descending Las Flores when he hit a rock or slid out or just fredded his way off into a ditch. Yeah, that Patrick Brady.

My personal experiences with Patrick have been that he is  condescending to  riders who are wearing the wrong stuff, riding the wrong stuff, or don’t know the secret handshake. Of course he’s also the first guy to get shelled when we start climbing, or to get shelled in a hard paceline, is as tough as an under-baked cupcake, and is referred to as “Nancy” behind his back. When people talk about the cliquish, condescending, snooty attitude of road cyclists, the epitome of that stereotype is Patrick Brady.

For this clown’s publication to tell us we should roll over and accept a bad law because they’re too lazy to do anything about it is pathetic. The real problem is properly analyzed by Bike Snob, and it’s analyzed well. Try not to giggle too much at the photos he posted of Patrick as he models his aero goon helmet with the go-faux-pro Assos jersey.

As for the 3-foot law, the article says “we.” I’d love to hear about Patrick’s and RKP’s  particular role in that legislation. And while they’re at it, show us some statistics to demonstrate it’s had any effect on accidents or deaths, any at all.

In short, the helmet law sucks. You should oppose it. And don’t listen to Red Kite Bore when it comes to helmet laws when their sole means of subsistence is the sale of advertising space to people who make bike junk, not limited to helmets.

END

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SoCal bikes ‘n stuff

March 27, 2015 § 25 Comments

There’s a lot going on this weekend.

On Saturday, leaving RIDE Cyclery at 8:00 AM in Encinitas, a gaggle of those who dream, pretend, hope, or are just flat out terrified will take flight for a practice ride over much of the BWR 2015 course. The ride has already been engulfed in innuendo and non-controversy, as various wankers carp on chat boards about the “secrecy” of the actual route. Although it’s never fun to deflate the psychoses of conspiracy theorists, the actual ride route hasn’t been posted because county authorities haven’t approved it yet. Saturday’s ride will, however, cover 100 or so miles of the real route, allowing debutantes and veterans alike to get a taste of the pain buffet that’s on offer for April 26.

On Friday some riders will compete in the San Dimas Stage Race, one of SoCal’s marquee race events that is likewise eliciting some controversy. Some refuse to race it because of last year’s shortened crits, one of which was pared down from an already too-short 40 minutes to actual race time of about 30. Others won’t do it because for the most part the race is decided by the uphill time trial, with nothing but scraps left for days 2 and 3. I’m not sure about this argument, because it assumes the doubtful proposition that bike racing has anything as a reward but scraps. My favorite take was the rider who said that it’s a bike race so if you like racing bikes then you should probably go race your bike.

On Facegag a huge discussion ensued about the proper age categories for masters racing after the 35+ category was mostly eliminated in 2015. One guy came out swinging, saying that there should be “Two categories: men and women. If you are old and slow then you don’t deserve to win.” Others moaned about injustice, inconvenience, or floated complicated age-category formulas that would take into account flatulence, degree of Alzheimer’s, and the number of Depends changed per day. No one bothered to ask about the best way to get actual young people into the sport or to wonder whether or not this preoccupation of old farts with the proper “age categories” was completely bizarre. You know that look you get when you tell normal people that you’re 50 years old and still riding 400 miles a week so you can win a ribbon and stand on a plywood platform in your underwear? Yeah, that look.

The Wanky Kimchi Diet is baaaaack! Although my conversion from 10:00 AM weekday drunk to all-day-long craft water sipper has had many positive side effects, leaning up isn’t one of them. I’ve declared war on the embarrassing pot belly that hangs above my waist like a gigantic goiter by carefully analyzing my food intake and realizing that the removal of alcohol carbs has been good, but replacing them with giant slabs of butter, endless loaves of Mrs. WM’s freshly baked bread, and massive bricks of dark chocolate is like swapping out a leisure suit for saggy jeans that droop below your crotch.

Have a great, safe weekend, whether you’re riding, racing, posing, or surfing on the couch.

END

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Ex-NFL doping public masturbator to challenge Froome, Contador

March 24, 2015 § 35 Comments

The cycling world collectively shook in fear when retired NFL tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr., 32, announced that he was going to begin competing as a professional cyclist. Cycling in the South Bay met up with Winslow after his Tuesday meeting at Mast-Anon.

CitSB: So how’s your training going? I understand that you’re up to a whole 50-60 miles per day?

KWJ: Whatever it takes. 50, 60, even 70 miles at a pop, don’t mean nothin’ to me.

CitSB: And it sounds like you’re already seeing some good results?

KWJ: Good results? I’m killin’ this shit. A first and two seconds in my first three Cat 5 races, and a sixth in my first Cat 4.

CitSB: That’s impressive.

KWJ: Damn straight.

CitSB: How long are you giving yourself to go from Cat 4 to the pro ranks?

KWJ: I plan on doing it real methodical-like, I ain’t in no hurry. You gotta take time to make time. So I’m giving it six months to make sure my body fully adapts.

CitSB: What kind of adaptations are required to go from being a 10-year NFL veteran to a pro bike racer?

KWJ: The biggest thing is changing your body. My playing weight in the NFL was 245, that’s big for a pro cyclist. So I’ve had to lean up, drop a lot of upper body weight. I’m down to 215, which is really small, you know? Once I get down to 200, 205, I will sign up for the Tour de France.

CitSB: Sign up?

KWJ: Yeah. That’s how I entered all my races so far, with the online sign up thing. Pre-registration saves you, like ten bucks. Why I’m gonna give ten bucks to the promoter? This is all part of being a professional in any sport, planning ahead. You plan the work and you work the plan.

CitSB: So you have a bit of a history with doping bans and the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. Do you think that will be a problem for you in cycling?

KWJ: Me? Naw. That was a set-up. I don’t know anything about that. It could have been anything, something spiked in my food or something. I use a lot of supplements to get fast, everyone does. And sometimes the manufacturer puts things in your supplement and you test positive, see? And if that happens to me racing bikes, well, it’s not the end of the world. What’s four races?

CitSB: Sorry?

KWJ: Yeah, what’s four races, especially since they have several races in a week, or some races you can like do two races in one day.

CitSB: I don’t follow you.

KWJ: Dude, I got some bogus positive test in the NFL and they suspended me for four games. That’s a big deal in the NFL when you’re getting paid $50k per game. So I get some bogus positive test racing my bike and get suspended for four races, that’s not the end of the world, like I said.

CitSB: Gotcha. The old “four race suspension.” Now what about this public masturbation thing?

KWJ: Aw, man, that is old stuff. Why are you bringing that shit up?

CitSB: Well, according to the police report …

KWJ: Fuck the police report. What do you think I am, a pervert?

CitSB: It said you were whacking off in a Target parking lot with two open containers of Vaseline on the console.

KWJ: That’s just bull. I’m a K-Y man, anyhow.

CitSB: Okay, well, is there anything else you’d like to add?

KWJ: Yeah. How do you fill up these backpack water jugs in the Tour de France?

CitSB: Your team director will probably handle that for you.

KWJ: Okay, cool.

END

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Sandbag while you can

March 23, 2015 § 28 Comments

Before the race I saw Dave happily siting on his top tube.

“You racing with us?” I asked.

“No,” he said firmly and happily. “Masters 35+ 4/5.” Dave had won the Masters 35+ 4/5 sandbagger race the week before in Merced and was licking his chops, noting that none of his competition came anywhere close to his 400 weekly training miles.

“When are you going to upgrade? You’re a beast.”

He looked at me very seriously. “Oh, no I’m not. I’m still learning so much about racing. And the 40+ group is way too fast.”

“Let me know when you’ve learned everything you need to know about racing,” I said.

Our race was going to be whatever is worse than terrible. You would think that a bicycle race where you had to be at least fifty years old to enter wouldn’t be that hard, but you would be wrong. On the start line were Thurlow a/k/a The Hand of God a/k/a THOG, Konsmo, the Parksie Twins, G$, Mark Noble, DQ Louie, Jaeger, Pomeranz, and a whole host of other guys I’d never beaten, and wasn’t going to beat today.

The course was a 27-mile out-and-back. We were supposed to it twice. The total elevation was about 5,500 feet. Going out, the course had a series of punchy rollers that led to the bottom of a 1-mile climb. After a 2-mile descent, the road continually ascends through a valley with a half-dozen short climbs and a few false flats until you reach the turnaround at the 13 Mile point.

Then the road descends into a headwind all the way to the base of the 2-mile climb, which pitches up, flattens briefly about 2/3 of the way up, then crests and drops you back to the base of the rollers. The race finishes on a 1-km climb with a moderately steep final 200 meter “sprint.”

Less than a mile into the race I was fully occupied with Mr. Crash Magnet. He’s the guy I get behind in every race and every race has one. Crash Magnet was so scared that his arms were shaking and his entire bike was wobbling. The smart thing in these cases is to get away from Crash Magnet ASAP, but he’s called “magnet” for a reason.

In the Wrinkly Prostate Division, although most of the riders aren’t good at holding their water, decades of racing have made them masters at avoiding crash magnets. So there is a race-within-a-race: Get away from the magnet. And since I’m the worst bike handler after whomever the crash magnet happens to be, everyone slides and jostles and positions so that I’m the one stuck on Crash Magnet’s wheel.

I dashed off to the left and got ahead of him, but to no avail. The deck reshuffled and there he was again. After the fourth reshuffle I resigned myself to the terrible accident in store if he hung around much longer. This is one of the great freeing experiences of bike racing. You are in destiny’s maw.

Robb came up next to me after we’d crossed the first four rollers. The bottom of the big climb lay ahead. “This is gonna hurt,” he said.

“Why,” I asked “are you using the future tense?”

About that time I edged around Crash Magnet just as he made a beeline for the shoulder, hit a rock, shimmied his handlebars, and launched himself headlong into a soft bed of cactus and ocotillo. As I sprinted away, wondering how badly he was hurt, I noted that THOG & The Co. from Hell had moved to the front. I slotted in behind him.

Now here is something that everyone who’s been dropped on a hard climb in a hard race surrounded by much better riders can relate to, but ordinary intelligent people who play golf and happily drink beer from the back of a golf cart cannot, and I call it the lighting of the fuse. It happens in stages.

  1. Terrible feeling of awful dread as you anticipate at the bottom of the climb.
  2. First acceleration at the bottom where you think, “I can do this.”
  3. Second acceleration shortly after the first where you think, “This is going to be hard.”
  4. Grit teeth as the pace settles in.
  5. Feeling begins somewhere in your calves, the feeling of give-up-and-quit.
  6. “I’m not quitting” + excessive teeth gritting. Brief look around to see that the group has halved.
  7. Third acceleration midway up the climb where you think, “Fuck you cocksuckers to hell.”
  8. Fuse burns up into lower quads. Pain however is no longer localized to legs and has spread to eyeballs.
  9. Fourth acceleration where the group halves again. Konsmo, who is leading the charge, is on the tops and doesn’t appear to be breathing. “Fuck you, Konsmo, if we ever stop I will kill you,” you think, or something like that.
  10. Almost at the top the fuse reaches the bomb and you explode. Body shudders, head droops, prostate deflates.
  11. “Quit gapping me out motherfucker!” is roared from behind.
  12. Race effectively ends.

When we reached Stage 11, I leaped onto the last rider’s wheel and latched on as we made it over the top. There was hardly anyone left. The pain immediately receded and all of my attention focused on why I’d chosen to try and ride with the leaders instead of doing the logical thing, which would have been following Crash Magnet face-first into the cactus bush.

At the bottom of the valley G$ took over. The pain returned and riders continued to pop off. At the base of each mini-peak G$ would punch it hard, but by now the people who had made it this far weren’t going to be dropped so easily. I looked up and saw the lights of the motorcycle that was following the 40+ field containing Mike Easter, Derek Brauch, Matt Carinio, Tony Manzella, Jon Flagg, and Chris DiMarchi. They had left five minutes earlier but the vicious climbing speed of Konsmo and G$ had devoured the time gap.

They were neutralized and we roared by, which led me to wonder this: Could someone please explain the biology behind how a group of riders, some of whom were in their mid-50’s, were riding faster than a group of men some of whom were fifteen years younger? Or maybe it was just mirrors and we had lighter wheels. But then I remembered that weight doesn’t really matter.

Whatever it was, we sped by with our teeth plastered to the stem as the 40+ pre-geezers stared over, insulted and slack-jawed. Shortly past the turnaround the butthurt 40+ field took matters into their own hands and came flying by us, proving the superiority of youth and better medical care. We never saw them again.

Before long our greatly reduced herd hit the base of the big climb. The fuse was re-lit, and burned all the way until shortly before the short flat. I was sitting on Mark Noble’s wheel making that last-gasp cry that lobsters make when you throw them into the boiling water, when I exploded for good. Race over.

With Chris Hahn, Scott McAfee, and Bald Tim on my wheel, we chased madly through the rollers, eventually picking up DQ Louie, who had inexplicably been shelled. After a few more miles of unutterable misery that left Scott and Bald Tim adrift, I dragged Chris and Louie back to the leaders. Of course we reattached at the bottom of the big climb, the fuse was lit, and it mercifully skipped Stages 2-11, going from Stage 1 to Stage 12 in about fifteen seconds. Louie and Chris happily pedaled away, the sorry bastards.

Left to wallow in my own misery, I slogged up the hill, was caught and dropped by teammate Andy Schmidt who had been stoned and chased out of the 40+ community, and was then overtaken by a mongrel group of 40+ and 50+ shellees including teammate John Hatchitt, and assassin/arch enemies Pomeranz and McAfee. I slunk to the back and struggled along to the turnaround, back down the valley, and to the bottom of the big climb.

This time I did something different, though. I put it into the small chain ring. Realizing that I’d been doing the massive climbs in my 53, it occurred to me that perhaps it would be easier if I used a smaller gear. Wow! Who knew???? Climbing is easier in a 39×28 instead of a 53×21. Gawrsh!

McAfee attacked and one by one our group reduced in size until there were only six of us. Hatchitt attacked, caught and dropped McAfee. Then after the false flat Pomeranz attacked, leaving me with a couple of 40+ racers who had no interest in or need to chase down guys who weren’t in their race.

With 1k to go I hunted down Hatchitt and McAfee. Hatchitt went early and blew. McAfee went a bit later, but I was able to sit on his wheel until the very end and throw myself across the line, beating out a couple of 40+ wankers and looking less like Mark Cavendish winning MSR and more like a fish whose bleeding mouth had been ripped from a hook and thrown mercilessly onto the rocks to flip, flop, gasp, and die.

After the race I saw Dave, who had sandbagged his way to another awesome win. “Good job,” I said, filled with bitterness and envy as I contemplated getting my downgrade for 2016.

Wankamodo snapped this immortal shot of my last-gasp lunge for a top-40 placing in our 40-man field.

Going 100%, pointlessly, against guys I'm not even racing against.

Going 100%, pointlessly, against guys I’m not even racing against.

50+ Leaky Prostate Category Race Notes:

Mark Noble played a smart waiting game, stayed out of the win, and smashed the four-man leading of group for the win, edging out Bennie Parks, Thurlow Rogers, and Jeff Konsmo. Race activator and head-banger Greg Leibert finished sixth behind Todd Parks, with SPY-Giant-RIDE p/b GQ6 teammate and 2014 winner David Jaeger coming in 8th.

My ride chauffeur, Derek Brauch, got second in the 40+ race behind winner Mike Easter. SPY-Giant-RIDE teammate Jon Flagg put on a display of incredible strength by bridging to the leaders and finishing fourth.

Emily Georgeson got a bronze medal in the women’s state championship road race, confirming again that this is her breakout season.

Other people in other races finished, or didn’t, with some going faster and others going slower.

END

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Thomas Dekker hangs up cleats, enjoys new-found independence

March 21, 2015 § 13 Comments

Thomas Dekker retired from the pro peloton yesterday, bringing to a close one of the most illustrious potential careers in professional cycling. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with him on the park bench next to the one he normally sleeps on to talk about what’s next.

CitSB: So you’ve decided to retire?

TD: Yes. It was a really hard decision and I agonized over it for a long time. It was so tough to make up my mind but eventually I knew it was the right thing. Sometimes when you’re turning something over in your mind for a long time, seems like there’s no good answer, then bang–the answer presents itself.

CitSB: Couldn’t find a team, huh?

TD: Oh yes, that was huge. You can’t imagine how tough it is to ride as a professional today without a team.

CitSB: Pretty expensive?

TD: Super expensive. Then there’s the whole thing about getting your own bottles, driving your own car as the DS, giving yourself massages, and of course being your own domestique and lead-out train. It’s very hard to do.

CitSB: You’re still not that old compared to, you know, real bike racers like Jens Voigt. Why do you think your career ended so soon?

TD: I’m older than Andy, remember. He quit at age 29.

CitSB: True, but he has a bike shop he’s going to open. So that was probably extra motivation for a former Tour de France champion to go ahead and retire. You’re not opening a bike shop, are you?

TD: No, but I think the main difference is that guys like Andy and I were from a different generation.

CitSB: How so?

TD: We grew up using massive amounts of drugs from an early age. Devoid of natural talent, work ethic, or drive, we were picked early by our federations’ sports-industrial complex and earmarked for success. Sheltered, pampered, overpaid, and feted, we grew up thinking that bike racing meant cranking out good numbers in a lab and winter training meant withdrawing oxygenated blood in December for later use in July.

CitSB: And you mean that there was more to bike racing than that?

TD: Not initially. Come on, we crushed it before they started cracking down on Lance.

CitSB: What was that thing with the hour record?

TD: I was hoping that someone would see how fast I was and offer me a contract. Simple. Kind of like Horner signing on with that junior high development squad and only doing the local CBR crits. I like that guerilla marketing stuff. “Grand Tour champion sprints for water bottle prime.” Freaking cool. Some big team is gonna snap that guy up soon.

CitSB: Surely some teams showed interest?

TD: Nope.

CitSB: What do you chalk that up to?

TD: As Jonathan Vaughters said a couple of years ago, I’m sort of an immature asshole.

CitSB: I think his words were “arrogant prick” and “hugely insecure guy.”

TD: I think that’s pretty close to “immature asshole.”

CitSB: Fair enough.

TD: So yes, that probably had something to do with me not getting another ride.

CitSB: What are your plans for the future?

TD: (Waves hands at park bench) This is the future, mate.

CitSB: Wow. These steel armrests must be pretty uncomfortable to rest your head on at night.

TD: Yes, but you know what? My whole life up to now was dominated by cycling, but I do not want to depend on my form, my equipment, my team, anyone or anything any longer. My cycling career was beautiful, ugly, intense, and edifying. I’m ready for a new step. Without my bike.

CitSB: That’s pretty noble, but as my dad used to say, how are you gonna eat?

TD: Could you lend me five bucks?

CitSB: Sure.

TD: Thanks.

END

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Pull the dicks out of your ear

March 20, 2015 § 42 Comments

No one ever asks me to review their cycling-related product or service. Perhaps it’s because of my disclaimer, which essentially guarantees that I will not say anything good, and that you’ll have to pay me for the bad review to boot. Or perhaps it’s because prior to requesting a review, the requester, who’s looking for a little “free publicity” clicks on my blog’s Bullshit Products link and comes up with a review like this, and concludes that his advertising dollar will more effectively be spent somewhere else.

Recently, however, a guy named Divad Zerep (not his real name) posted a link to one of his company’s products on my Facegag feed without bothering to sign up for the $2.99 monthly subscription and libel avoidance policy. He was touting the Samsung Gear Circle, which sounds like one of those mysterious bike parts that fits between the rear dropout, the pulley-wheel, and the turkey bushing.

However, it’s not an add-in to your electronic drive train. The Samsung Gear Circle is a plastic loop that fits around your neck so that you can listen to music when you jog, ride your bike, or have sex. True cyclists will not be interested in two out of those three applications.

The cool promo video shows cyclists listening to music as they sprint around the Carson velodrome, do bike tricks on the Golden Gate bridge, and look hot in their Lululemon stretch pants. Then, just before they get hit by a truck, they drop the volume with Samsung’s patented Sticky Finger Swipe Technology, so they can quickly hear the sound of onrushing tires and scoot out of the way.

After that, it’s more “all tunes, all the time.”

Once the promo video finishes, it segues into a 22-minute product analysis by a guy with tattooed fingers who dissects every aspect of the Gear Circle, with the possible exception of the jerk. He starts with the box and helpfully reads the label on the package because he knows that his target market cannot.

The last time anyone read anything to me it was because I was two years old, so I declined to waste any more time listening to a stranger review a product that I would never use, and more importantly, that my three regular readers would never use because they are a retired plumber in Texas who is still riding a steel bike that he bought in 1972, an ex-pro who makes wine and rides the same steel bike he raced on in Belgium in the 80’s, and an Englishman who lives the British motto of “God, Queen, Country, and Horribly Frugal.”

For years I have wondered about people who listen to music while riding their bicycles. Have they not noticed that they share the road with things called “cars” and often with things called “trucks”? Have they not noticed that these things are large, fast, and deadly? Have they not noticed that often the only clue as to the proximity of cars and trucks is something called “sound,” and that the sound of the oncoming truck cannot be heard when you have the equivalent of twelve screaming dicks stuck in your ear?

I’ve wondered other things about idiots who listen to music while they ride. For example, haven’t they noticed that when other people pass them, or they pass other people, they can’t hear anything? And that when someone says “Hello” and you don’t respond because you have twelve screaming dicks in your ear, they think you’re a Delta Bravo?

Nope, people who listen to music using the Samsung Circle Jerk and similar devices don’t ever consider these things. They just turn it up and keep on pedaling.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, Wanky, that’s unfair. I listen to music to relax on along rides.” Or, “Hey, Wanky, I listen to music to get me in the mood for my killer workout.” Or, “Hey, Wanky, the next time I see you I’m going to pound your face into raspberry pancake batter.”

Music may help your workout, but if you need twelve screaming dicks to eke out those last five watts, and those five watts are going to make the difference in The Most Important Masters Bike Race Ever, then you’ve got a big problem because on race day your training crutch won’t be allowed.

What’s weirder is the people who have to listen to music when they simply ride. This is weird and sad because they obviously don’t find enough in the act of riding the bike to occupy their brains. In other words, riding is boring. Can you imagine any fate worse than spending $10k on a bike and twelve matching sets of slick stretch underwear to do something that’s so boring the only way you can endure it is with twelve screaming dicks?

Worse, it’s evidence that the main therapeutic effect of cycling, which is to let your mind freely associate and drift away from the quotidien, doesn’t work for cycling music listeners. In other words, the unassisted noise in their head is so awful that the only way they can deal with it is by drowning it out with twelve screaming dicks stuffed into their ears.

This is the saddest thought of all, because the bicycle is the ultimate psychotherapist if you let it do its job. Screaming dicks not required.

END

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