New UCI rule allows customers to spend more money

November 30, 2015 § 33 Comments

The UCI Rules Committee announced that professional teams will be allowed to use disc brakes in all races for 2016. “We think this will help cyclists at all levels spend more money,” said committee chairman Snookie van der Sluit in a press release.

“There is a significant need for disc brakes among manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in every market segment,” said van der Sluit. “And disc brakes allow them to meet the need for more customer expenditures, which is a key component in making cycling even less affordable as a sport or recreational activity while simultaneously accelerating the twin trends of planned obsolescence and product incompatibility.”

Reactions in the cycling world were generally positive. “I don’t give two fucks what we ride, all my shit’s free,” said Fabian Cancellara when asked about the rule change.

Mike Sinyard, president of Specialized, was equally enthusiastic. “I’d definitely give two fucks, probably even ten,” he said. “Although braking performance in wet conditions is offset by the greater weight and the pain-in-the-ass factor of through-axles, getting every pro on a disc brake is crucial if we’re going to make weekend warriors insecure about not having the latest trick shit. And that’s the fulcrum behind every meaningful bike purchase these days.”

Simon Mottram, CEO of Rapha Clothing for Gentlemen and Gentlegirls, saw huge opportunities in the new rule. “Cyclists have shown a huge appetite for spending more money, and the fact that disc brakes are better in the rain, an environment in which no one with a brain ever rides, is a key sales point. Now the flabby flabber who only goes out when it’s 65 and sunny can buy a whole new bike and wheelset to feel better about the possibility of riding in the rain, even though the actual chances of him doing it are zero. And we have a new line of disc gentlemen rainy pink clothing to go with it, a cute motif of baby whales with pink spouts.”

Derek Bouchard-Hall, the new CEO of USA Cycling, gushed about the new ruling. “Expensive? Yes. Requires replacement of your current $15k wheel quiver? Yes. A guarantee that fewer kids will get into cycling? Yes. More ad revenue as manufacturers and retailers seek our platform to tout the new technology? YEEESSSSS!!!”

Frumpy McDangle, local trail boss for the South Bay Sunday Fritter Crawl, was more circumspect. “I’m sure it’s a great idea,” he said, “but I haven’t bought a new piece of bicycle equipment since they came out with derailleurs, so unless it helps me with my morning dump I’ll probably pass.”



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Words sort of matter

November 29, 2015 § 33 Comments

One of my favorite words when describing stupid people in their underwear getting run over by even stupider-er cagers has always been “accident.” It rolls off the tongue, and it fits our existence in the cosmos.

Like it or not, the sperm that hooked up with your mother’s egg was an accident. It could have been the tadpole vigorously swimming next to him, but it wasn’t.

“Accident” also perfectly describes the universe: There is no dog, only random chance. The gas cloud that swirled and eventually became the Milky Way, which has 68 different stars, and which eventually calved off Earth and the glaciers which are themselves calving off … all accidents.

Things don’t happen for a reason, they happen at random. For example, my broken hip and dislodged pancreas. There was no reason that I decided to take the hairpin full bore, it was a spur of the moment thing: Hugely beautiful weather, no cars, great legs, and a happy desire to get to the start of the Donut Ride and try to drop the shit out of all my friends.

It was random that I hit on my incus bone instead of my hyoid bone, and it was random that even though I was PRAYING TO DOG that traffic would be coming in the other direction so they could see me hit the apex of the curve like the Master of the Universe™, bent so low and leaned so far that I could lick the asphalt with my tongue, in fact there were no cars in the opposite direction which prevented me from getting run over and crushed to death when I slid out into the other lane, licking the asphalt but not being all that happy about it.

Everything is random. It was random that G3 came by as I sat shuddering on the curb and gave me a quick neural check that the EMT’s hadn’t bothered with. “No neurons here, guys,” he confirmed.

Of course “accident” leads naturally from “random” because like “random,” “accident” is cause-neutral. Shit just happened. Bonehead came out of nowhere. I never saw anything, Ossifer.

The problem is that even though everything happens at random, thereby eliminating dog and the search for an ultimate cause, random events nonetheless act according to set laws of physics, and they are the result of specific choices.

So I’ve got this troll. Okay, he’s not a troll, he’s a pretty awesome guy, but he acts like a troll, and here’s how he does it. Every time I use the word “accident” in my blog, he sends me an email and often posts a comment that reminds me “There are are no accidents in cycling. You described a crash or a collision, but not an accident.”

You can easily see his point. “Oops. It appears that I just killed your husband, child, and dog due to this important picture of my dick I was sending to a teenager while driving. Sorry. I feel terrible about this tragic accident.” The word accident robs the victim of justice and allows the dick-picker to evade responsibility.

Nor is this just one of my trolls getting on his high horse. The oldest peer-reviewed medical journal in the galaxy has retired the word “accident” for much the same reasons.

The Washington Post, hardly a mouthpiece for foamy-mouthed bicycle advocates, has also seen the light, albeit dimly. And of course well over a year ago Bike Snot NYC took the word “accident” out behind his garage and shot it. And it wasn’t an accidental shooting, either.

But there’s more. The most boring, orthodox, gear-pimping, unreadable publication ever printed, Bicycle Magazine, even wrote a primer for newspapers about how to rephrase headlines. And then the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency, which is responsible for keeping bicycles off the streets and making the roads safe for cages and the cagers who inhabit them, got on the “crashes are not accidents” bandwagon way back in 1997, although admittedly it was for the benefit of cagers, not underwear pedalers.

The reason for discarding “accident” is simple. Vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word “accident” promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control when in fact they are predictable results of specific actions. Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not acts of dog but predictable results of the unpredictable combination of stupid choices and the rather impersonal laws of physics.

Of course the problem is that there is no perfect substitute for “accident.” Crash, collision, and incident seem good on the surface, and they are an improvement over “Shit, I killed him on accident,” but they don’t fit the basic problem of bicycles, which is that you are a functional fool for riding around in your underwear at high speeds in order to take deadly hairpin curves while praying for witnesses as you skid out on your incus bone.

Nor do these words cover the inherent motivation behind caging, which is that you are a lazy, careless slob who thinks that because you can point 4,000 pounds of metal and mash down on a pedal that you are somehow a good driver. We need a lexicon that will alert people to the fact that two inherently stupid people are about to meet in a mashup of gore and broken parts, with all of the gore and breakage happening to the underwear-wearer, and the spilled latte happening to the scrap-metal-pointer.

I’d suggest the following:

  1. Did the underwear pedaler fall off unassisted, for example by speeding around a hairpin while recklessly hoping people would witness his awesomeness only to be scrubbed across the asphalt like the idiot he is? These and similar occurrences should be referred to as “bicycle falling off incidents.”
  2. Did the underwear pedaler get killed by an impaired cager? These occurrences should be called “Murder” and treated accordingly.
  3. Did the underwear pedaler take out another underwear pedaler under the auspices of an organizing body? This has been written about extensively and to great effect, and although not accepted in most Baptist churches, we will call this “natural selection.”
  4. Did the underwear pedaler get creamed by a cager? We will call this “Seth Davidson, Injured Bicyle Injury Lawyer Referral” and call (424) 241-8118 ASAP.

Now … go ride your bike!



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More boring robots, please

November 28, 2015 § 25 Comments

Claudio Chiapucci, the retired doper and Francesco Conconi protege, recently raged against the pro peloton, claiming that only Peter Sagan has character, and that the rest of the riders are “dull machines.” One of the peloton’s dull machines, Phil Gaimon, showed his dullness by penning a riposte  that displayed humor, humility, and a sharp fucking pen–but I guess having a brain doesn’t cut it for Claudio, who claims that the lack of exciting, dynamic, aggressive, attacking riders (i.e., Claudio) is a big reason why the public is no longer enamored with the sport.

This raises an important point, however: The public isn’t enamored with Pro Tour cycling because it is beyond boring to watch. It’s the only event where hours pass and nothing ever happens, at least nothing that anyone would care about who wasn’t in the race. The phrase “He’s taking a dig now” says it all. A dig. He’s taking one. Kind of like what that woman behind me in her SUV was taking out of her nostril when I checked my rear-view mirror.

And then of course there is the “thrilling” sprint finish. Well, it is thrilling … but only if you’re in it. How many times has this happened with your S/O as she’s staring bleary-eyed at the television at 6:30 AM?

“Okay, here comes the sprint!”


“There! All those guys bunched up! See? There’s the red kite! Patrick Brady’s nowhere near! Now they’re stringing it out! The lead-out trains are forming!!”

“The what?”

“The lead-out trains! There’s Team Pooky hitting the front!”


“Team Pooky in the orange-black-red-green-purple-hexagon kits with the brown stripe down the back and the lightning bolts! Their guy McDingleberry has the green jersey and he’s fighting for sprint points with Van der Anus, who is seven points down in the sprint classification!”

“Which one is that? They’re all clumped up. It looks like a big mess.”

“That’s because they’re sprinting! Oh my dog, look! Look! Here comes McDingleberry up the left-hand side!”

“Which one is he? Everyone’s on the left side. And why is everyone falling down?”

“Oh shit! Van der Anus has crashed and taken out half the peloton!”

“What is going on?”

“Seamus Uff wins it! Holy cow! Not Uff! Here, honey, let me replay that for you. Wow, that was the most exciting sprint ever. Oh, man.”

“Is it over?”

“Yes. I mean, no. There are still eighteen more stages.”

“Wake me up in August, okay?” S/O says as she staggers back to bed.

Maybe Claudio is right. Maybe what cycling really does need is more guys like him, guys with multiple doping positives, guys with no tactical brains, and guys who only made the big time under the tutelage of the godfather of EPO doping. Maybe dullards like Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, and Tom Boonen have killed the sport with their thrilling and tactical racing. Maybe we just need to get Tommy D. one more season back in the pro ranks.

But I don’t think so.



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The subscription thing

November 27, 2015 § 42 Comments

So, there’s this weird thing every month where PayPal notifies me of each $2.99 subscription. When I browse through I see people I know and people I don’t. The whole thing is so impersonal, people sending me money and me just going on about my business without acknowledging it.

Here’s why I feel guilty every time I see one of those notices and just go on about my day: Every single subscription is a personal affirmation that what I’m doing matters somewhere, to someone. You may not think $2.99 is a lot, but it is to me because it represents your voice that you’d rather pay than read for free. I struggle with this—how do I let people know how grateful I am?

So I take a stab at it from time to time, randomly emailing people what I hope aren’t form “Thanks you’s” even though they pretty much are, trying to let them know that I appreciate their support. It’s support of the financial, emotional, and spiritual kind, and even the Catholic-Jewish guilt kind because when I get bogged down in “What am I going to write today?” I get sustenance from the guilt of knowing that people expect me to produce something since they’re paying me to do it.

Yesterday I sent out a form thank-you to a buddy whose identity I’ve sworn not to reveal but who used to ride with a white baby harp seal under his seat. “Hey, Baby Seal,” I wrote, “thanks again for your support. I really appreciate it.” Then I hit “send” and went on about my business of carefully picking around the scabby edges of my road rash.

A couple of hours later I got an answer. It’s not the best email I’ve ever gotten–it’s the best email ever written in the history of the Internet. And I’m sharing it with you now.

You kidding me? You have any idea how much nonsense I’ve learned thanks to that blog?!?

I mean, despite every rational judgment telling me otherwise I’ve gone through periods of eating nothing but kimchi, only breathing through my nose, being made fun of at the gym, weighing my food to the gram, loving power meters, hating power meters, spending thousands on carbon, selling hundreds in carbon, re-buying thousands in carbon (this time ensuring it was the correct 100% carbon-carbon kind of carbon), riding only at the front, riding only off the front, realizing there is no off season, refusing to take any recovery days, learning to hide in a group, pulling through without ever pulling through, learning the importance of recovery days, caffeine only diets, 3 meals a day – no snacks! And of course, finding glory in the time I dropped Stathis…while he was on a beach cruiser in a pooofy jacket and jeans.

I’ve also learned to be a better partner, a better friend, a better father than I was planing on being and the best grandfather with a strained ball sack.

And the very best part has been watching you find your sobriety.

One day I’ll sue you for all those 2.99’s but for now, thank you.




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How time flies

November 26, 2015 § 38 Comments

I’m not much of a milestone or anniversary type guy, partly because I’m lazy. The other reason is that my old debate partner in high school, Jimmy Huang, wrote a really good essay on his successful application to Harvard. The essay asked him to talk about one (or more) of his successes, and he essentially wrote something like, “I’m only 18 and nothing in my short and insignificant life could possibly be called a success.”

It was longer than that but you get the point.

Facebag reminded me that one year ago I changed my profile pic to “No beer today!” which was what I wrote on my arm with a Sharpie the day I quit drinking. Then my pal Dan K. sent me a thoughtful email linking to a post I’d written about climbing on the wagon.

I read the post and was impressed with the author. He had a solid writing style, made some good points, was serious but offhand at the same time, was willing to tackle a tough subject without wallowing in too much self-pity or self-adulation, and he even made me smile a little bit. Mostly I was impressed with how well he knew me and his familiarity with the minutiae of my life.

This is how it is, you see. After I write stuff I forget it, delete it from my brain, wipe the slate clean because that’s the only way I can make space for anything new. People will occasionally come up to me and say, “Hey, that was really funny what you wrote about [x],” and I will nod and smile and say, “Thanks!” but in truth I don’t remember any of it. If enough time passes, say a year, and I re-read something I’ve written then it is truly as if I’ve read it for the first time and as if it was written by someone else. And thanks to my Blogbot and team of ghostwriters, it often is.

So it was fun to read about this guy and his decision to quit drinking, and to reflect that the guy was me and that I never really have quit drinking. In my mind every single day I’m on the verge of grabbing a cold one, but my motto is, “Let’s get good and drunk but not right now.” Works for me.

Here are some of my drinking stats:

  1. Average annual alcohol cost: $3,444.33
  2. Average annual work hours lost to drinking: 1,095
  3. Number of family fights per week: 2
  4. Number of days per year spent mildly depressed: 365.25
  5. Average body weight: 167 lbs.
  6. Estimated times per year I almost hurt myself while CUI: 30-ish.
  7. Number of children I indirectly encouraged to abuse alcohol: 3
  8. Number of wives I mistreated: 1
  9. Number of bike races I won: 0
  10. Days I woke up feeling rotten: Most

Here are some of my non-drinking stats:

  1. Number of days per week I do the dishes: 6
  2. Number of days per week I cook for the family: 2-ish
  3. Amount of money I’ve saved for fun trips: $3,444.33
  4. Number of bad bike falling off incidents: 1
  5. Number of bike race victories: 2
  6. Average pounds lost and kept off: 17
  7. Number of wives mistreated: 0
  8. Number of friends I’ve lost who don’t like me because I don’t drink anymore: 0
  9. Number of friends I’ve made because I don’t drink anymore: Lots
  10. Increased work efficiency: 300%
  11. Number of days I can totally forget my problems: 0
  12. Number of people who have quit or cut back drinking because of me: 2
  13. Extra hours per year that I have to read and learn: 2,000+
  14. New languages I’ve learned: 1
  15. Old languages I’ve really brushed up on: 5
  16. Grandbabies I don’t have to worry about dropping: 1
  17. Number of times per day I can blame my problems on alcohol: 0
  18. Mornings per year I can remember the night before: 365
  19. Days I wish I could drink normally like other people: All
  20. Hours per day I’ve appreciated the support and love of family and friends: 24

So in the spirit of my old debate partner I can’t really call it a success, especially since each day starts with a grand and glorious design to go enjoy a beer. But it is a process that has generally meandered in the right direction, with its lows and unhappy moments as well as its stubborn refusal to regress to the mean.

And if that’s as close as I can get to success, well, I’ll take it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.



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Shrinkly germs

November 25, 2015 § 20 Comments

So I have this totally lame injury to my groin. It’s super minor and only hurts when I move, and it has none of the cachet of a broken hip, bleeding brain, or a Full Prez.

Unfortunately, even though YOUR injury is a lot worse and hurts a lot more, and even though YOU were in the ICU for a month and even though the doctor said you’d likely never walk again (the following year you won nats), none of that reduces even one tiny little bit the agonizing pain that shoots up the right side of my nutsack every time I breathe.

Lots of friends have given me super advice about how to fix my pulled or strained or torn groin. One friend said that what I needed was to let her get at it with her pro thumbs, to dig down deep and relax the muscle with some deep tissue massage. I imagined myself splayed out on the couch with a cutie cupping her hands around my nuts and wondered if we were talking about the same thing.

Another friend said that the only real way to reduce the swelling was by icing the groin. We have a big blue ice thingy in the freezer so I figured it was worth a try, so I took it and jammed it down into my shorts. In about four seconds my balls froze and in about a minute they went numb and in about five minutes all swelling was reduced to the size of a couple of hairy gray raisins. I don’t know if that helped the groin muscles, but after the water in the blue plastic thingy melted I hobbled over to the fridge and popped it back into the freezer.

A couple of hours later Mrs. WM came home. “How you onna balls?” she asked.

“My balls are fine, it’s my groin, and it hurts.”

“Doctor tol’ you onna medicine and reduce bigness.”

“I think I got the swelling down some.”

“How you onna do that?”

“I iced it up real good.”

Mrs. WM looked at me funny. “What you icin’ it with?”

“That blue thingy in the freezer.”

The muscles around her eyes got all tight like they do before she filets a fish. “Thatsa my food cooler pack. Where you puttin’ that on?”

“Hell, honey, I had to put in on my nuts. My groin muscles are next to my nuts.”

She started yelling. “You better had put it onna towel!”

“Hell no I didn’t put a towel around it. That would make it less cold.”

“An’ where you puttin’ it now?”

“It’s back in the freezer, so I can freeze it and use it again.”

“You puttin’ my food cooler pack onna your shrinklies and stickin’ it back in a freezerator? What about my food?”

I hadn’t thought of that. “Well there’s nothing in the freezer but ice. And plus it’s cold enough to kill the germs. Not that I have any.”

“You puttin’ shrinkly germs inna freezerator! An what WE DRINKIN’ every dinnertime? Tell me onna that?”

“Uh … ice water … ”

The next thing I heard was a bunch of stuff getting yanked out of the freezer and thrown in the trash.

I think we’re all going to have milk with dinner.



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Bicycle falling off incident highlights

November 23, 2015 § 49 Comments

There are a lot of things that happen when you fall off your bicycle because you are stupid, or because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because you forgot to wear your lucky banana.

  1. Every cyclist will sympathetically inquire about your alleged injury and conclude with “It could have been worse.”
  2. “How are you?” is always followed by “How’s the bike?” even if you’re bleeding out of the ears and still in the middle of the road.
  3. Ambulance drivers are pros at hitting all the potholes.
  4. It is humiliating to be stuck in the ER corridor for an hour while they find room for people who are actually in need of serious care.
  5. All your biking toughness evaporates the moment you realize that the blood you see is yours.
  6. There’s something satisfying about a pretty doctor checking out your scrotum, even though she’s wearing two sets of gloves and staring at your junk like it’s the most unexceptional thing she’s ever seen.
  7. Having the deeply embedded bits of asphalt scrubbed out of  your road rash falls into the “New Category of Pain” category.
  8. There is a lot going on in your groin, but until you injure it you have no idea.
  9. The best pharmaceutical painkiller in the world pales next to a big aluminum tin filled with take-out lasagna.
  10. People who bring you cookies and cheesecake either love you or hate you.
  11. No matter how agonizingly the person in the room next to you is screaming, it doesn’t diminish your own pain one little bit.
  12. Doctors hate you for refusing painkillers. It means you’re not really hurt and it means you’re lying when you say “I’m not in much pain.”
  13. The seriousness of all injuries is defined by the ease with which you can sleep, eat, shit, and piss.
  14. Seeing a friendly face in the hospital make you 100x stronger.
  15. The only thing Valium does is it makes you not angry at having missed the Donut Ride.
  16. The only thing ibuprofen does is nothing.
  17. The only thing Norco does is make all your friends envious and gets you lots of requests for “the leftovers.”
  18. The worst way to get sympathy is to describe your injury.
  19. The second worst way is to describe your pain.
  20. The third worst way is to post hospital bed photos on Facebag.
  21. The best way is to say “I’m fine” and then when people ask you about riding, getting together, etc., to tell them you can’t do anything until they remove the feeding tube.
  22. Always keep a spare wheelset, and always keep a dozen spare sheets of Tegaderm.
  23. Your real cycling friends don’t care how you got hurt, they already know you’re stupid.
  24. Bodies heal, but broken bicycles are much harder to pay for.
  25. It really could have been worse.



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