August 20, 2019 § 4 Comments
Music brings people together, that’s one of life’s unifying truths. But sometimes it’s easy to forget the truth, and it takes musicians to remind us of it.
I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that led to the creation of the Average Biker Band, but suddenly there they were doing a sound check at the All Clubs BBQ and 7th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards, and if it hadn’t been outdoors they would have blown the roof off.
The organic creation of the group was much like the organic creation of a group ride. Somebody said, “Let’s play,” and voila–Ellen Shinogle, Gary Cziko, Sly Joseph, Don Sachs, Jaycee Cary, Todd Bernhardt, Tony Johnson, Thomas Ward, Harry McQueen, Dasha Orlova, and Yasuko Davidson had formed a band, rehearsed religiously, and showed up polished and ready to play.
Play they did, with blindingly good renditions of Superstition, New Sensation, Brick House, Play that Funky Music, Sex Machine, and a loaded set of other killer tunes.
But … even though you can’t pick out the best, I can sure as hell pick out my favorite, and it was Harry McQueen owning the stage with Muddy Waters’s Hoochie Coochie Man. I’ve seen lots of live blues performances in my life, heard lots of the greats, but have rarely been treated to such a tremendous foot-stomping, hand-clapping display of musical genius. Not only did Harry turn his harp into something living, but the rest of band sank their teeth into it with cutting, slicing, professional abandon.
The musicianship of the entourage was an intense punctuation mark to the event because it showcased band members helping each other out, making space for each other, putting egos aside to get the hard work done of making great music. And make no mistake, it was incredibly hard work, whether judging from the rivers of sweat pouring off the players, or from the sheer physical labor of setting up the stage.
And of course it was worth it, worth it in the extreme because it brought a level of entertainment, excitement, and unity to an event whose entire reason for being is to highlight unity.
Nor was the Average Biker Band the only sound in town. Before they took the stage there was a major eruption of percussion. Dave Worthington and David Pulliam on the box cajon and bongos, Rahsaan Bahati on the bongos, Queen Bahati on the congo drum, Al Shorts on the bass drum with wood mallets and Congo, and the ace ringer percussionist and Prince of the Polyrhythm, Orlando Hutcherson himself on congo, Will Holloway on djembe conga, with Jaycee Carey drummer Tony Johnson, both of the Average Biker Band, pitching into the drum circle. Other cool rando peeps rotated on the egg-shakers, blocks, maracas, sticks, and tambourine, and all of this incredible sound was BEFORE the main musical event.
Drawing people together, initiating friendships, sharing common bonds, that’s all yet another outgrowth of this event that was dreamed up by our very own Ken Vinson. And draw people together it did.
Don’t worry if you missed this tight and righteous performance–Facebag is breaking with the videos floating around, and guess what? Plans are already underway for even more music in 2020. Stay, as they say, tuned!
August 19, 2019 § 8 Comments
The All Clubs BBQ and 7th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards finished last night.
It was fun.
The organizing was a lot of hard work, done mostly by Kristie and Ken. I stood around a bunch.
There were a lot of good connections made along with exceptional live music, the best barbecue anywhere, and a dazzling, shiny show of glittering low rider bikes.
Upwards of 400 people came and went throughout the day, with 300 plates of barbecue and sides dished up by the Flawless Diamonds.
There was so much going on and there were so many people to talk about that I’m kind of overwhelmed; I really don’t know where to start. So I figured I’d jump in and begin and see where it led.
Last year we met John Jones and the East Side Riders Bicycle Club. John came to the BBQ last year and won the award for Greatest Advocate. His club focuses on giving kids healthy lifestyle choices, everything from diet to cycling to community service. Once a month they tour Watts on bikes and hand out food to homeless people, or to anyone who’s hungry.
John invited me to his annual club picnic last month at Ted Watkins Park, and that event re-connected me with Will Holloway, founder of the South L.A. Real Riderz, whom I had met last year at an event at Jesse Owens Park. One thing led to another and I ended up doing one of John’s rides, touring Watts and helping distribute food and water on a boiling hot day.
The ESR folks came to our BBQ and Awards this year and hosted a bike show. The bikes were beautiful, but what was more beautiful was the number of people who got to connect with John’s group and their powerful mission. If John got paid per smile generated, he’d have been able to retire after yesterday.
This is the basic building block of the All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards: Create opportunities for people who never cross paths to stop, say hello, get to know each other, and commune over great food.
A lot of people judge events by numbers. How many attendees, how many plates of food, how much money it cost–not to mention how many people swore they’d show up and didn’t. But actually, the only number you really need is 2, which is how many people it takes to forge a new connection. If you put something together that connects two like-minded people, you’ve thrown the biggest event of the year.
Coming to this event was a huge effort for ESR and for the bike show participants. Some of the bikes, such as G-Man’s extraordinary green machine, weigh well over 200 pounds and have to be trailered. Loading, driving LA weekend freeway traffic, unloading, and then packing it all back up is a huge commitment and an expense.
Yet making those efforts is what it takes, and now it’s our turn to return the favor by making the effort to get off our butts and attend the amazing events that get thrown in John’s corner of LA. Whether it was Henry, OG, John Jr., or the rest of the East Side Riders who showed up in force and with energy, they were showing us how to do it right. With goodwill, effort, commitment, follow through, and open hearts.
When’s the last time you went to a barbecue, bike show, and award ceremony … and got all of that?
Photos taken by ESR!
August 17, 2019 § 9 Comments
When Junkyard sold all his shit, crated up his dog and flew to Seattle, a little bit of the South Bay died forever. Okay, a lot of it.
And it died in about as crazypants a fashion as you could ever imagine. With almost no planning, no logistical support, zero physical conditioning, and a love all things comfortable and soft, Junkyard embarked on a 2,600-mile journey to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
All of his fake Facebag friends #kudoed and #attaboyed and #shit, but privately more eyes got rolled than dice in Vegas. It simply wasn’t possible, everyone agreed, and the question wasn’t whether he’d complete the hike but whether he’d ever even find the trailhead.
Junkyard was directionally challenged, and the first warning they give you about hiking the PCT is “take a compass because your GPS signal will fail.” This same Junkyard, who got lost for an hour in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara finding the Gibraltar climb that he’d been up on a bike 20 times, was now going to strike forth with his dog and cross the continent.
But he wasn’t simply going to cross it the easy way, a 2,600-mile hike of the most brutal sort from Mexico to Canada, a holy hiking grail for which people train for years and that only a few who begin ever complete, no, not Junkyard. He was going to hike first from Washington to Canada, flip a uey, and then hike to Mexico from north to south … in winter.
That’s a route, everyone remarked, that simply doesn’t exist. So deep and treacherous is the ice and snow that you can’t make the logical checkpoints for provisioning. No one does it because, save for a tiny minority perhaps of the very best, no one can.
Of course Junkyard was undeterred, which is the beauty of having neither plan nor experience. You simply go. Fate will deal out what fate deals out, and you will deal with it, whether you will or no. I’d tried something similar to Junkyard’s sojourn in 1985, starting the PCT outside of Medford. I lasted four days and would have died were it not for a very, very good Samaritan.
The thought that a 58-year old creature accustomed to comfort would be able to make that trek never seriously crossed my mind, to say nothing of the impossibility of the dog making it. For a few days we followed his newly created IG account, @jnz_onthe_pct, until it became clear that the only person more skeptical than the home crowd was Junkyard himself.
In short, he took forever to even get to the trailhead at Hart’s Pass, and then, when he was supposedly on the trail, there were no pictures of the trail save one jolly video segment showing him hiking along a fire road. In glorified sneakers. Surrounded by green lush low-elevation vegetation.
When the humble brag posts about successive hikes of 16.5, 16.5, and 10 miles popped up, I stopped rolling my eyes and simply shrugged. You and I both know that an untrained 58-year-old flatlander with a 45-lb. pack can no more backpack those distances than he can ride with the peloton during a stage of the Tour. Shortly thereafter, he went silent. As far as I know, no one’s heard from him since, and wherever he is, you can save yourself the effort of looking on the Pacific Crest Trail. A donut shop in downtown Seattle, maybe.
And yet …
Buried right near the surface of this crazyquilt non-plan, this folly writ large, there was something amazing. First and most impressively, Junkyard had gotten everyone in the South Bay talking about him instantaneously, non-stop.
Every party, every gathering, every ride was punctuated with questions, comments, opinions, declarations and declamations about WHAT THE FUCK WAS JUNKYARD THINKING?
He became and has remained the single most talked about cyclist in the South Bay, ever. And he isn’t simply the focal point of attention, he’s pulled it off without even being here. The fame and notoriety of Junkyard, a man who had already invented a presence far larger than his actual life, had surpassed even that work of fiction and projected his existence into the stuff of legend.
Because as incomprehensible as it seems, he has struck a blow for humanity. Although it may be Into the Donut Shoppe more than Into the Wild, the act of cashing in, moving out, and hitting the road with your dog, unencumbered by the weight of the past, is a beautiful and inspirational thing that strikes a chord deeply within us all.
You can negatively analyze his reasons for the walkabout, but you can’t deny the monolithic fact that he has gone. On his terms, on his time plan, and for reasons that, fully private, only he will ever know.
Based as it is on the fake social media of Instagram and Faceboooooook, he has nonetheless left those things behind and wandered into a primeval land of man, animal, hunger, path, and the uncertainty of even getting one’s daily bread. Who among us can do that, and who among us has not wished they could?
It matters not whether he ever finds the trail, hidden as it is in the Internet, in GPS coordinates, maps, guidebooks. It matters not whether his camp is high on a ridge or snugly nestled in a county park, just ’round the corner from an In ‘N Out. It matters not whether he dies in a ravine, returns lean and fit, or returns 20 lbs. heavier with a groaning credit card balance from weeks of living off the fruits of the land and Denny’s.
Inventive, imaginative, creative, and driven by the Muse, he simply went. What matters is that he walked out the door in the time and place of his choosing, and no one else’s.
And you know what? I, and a whole lot of others, wish we had what it took to walk out, too.
August 14, 2019 § 10 Comments
I learned a proverb from my Chinese teacher yesterday, “In youth, use health to get money and in old age, use money to get health.”
Like a lot of proverbs and received wisdom, this one gets it totally wrong. Everyone I know who used their health to get money is now a broken-down, worn-out old shoe. You can’t buy health. All you can buy are remedies for the shit that is broke, and most of the remedies are half-assed patches at best.
Of course it’s possible to wake up at age 65, discover cycling, and ride your way into much better health than you would have had if you’d just stayed on the couch. Likewise, money lets you extend life, get better treatment, blah blah blah.
But the idea that the purpose of youth is to accrue wealth so that you can purchase health later is b.s.
For one, if you spend your youth building health, you don’t wind up broke down and wore out in your 60’s. To the contrary, rather than shuttling from doctor appointment to doctor appointment, from hair plug treatment to liposuction, you get to go about your business with a minimum of aches, pains, and health issues. That’s the benefit of using youth not to get rich but to maintain and grow the only capital you’ll ever have: Your body and your mind.
Which takes me up to yesterday morning. It was five o’clock and I’d already been at it for the better part of an hour, with a whole stack of shit staring at me from my inbox, my task list, and my endless pile of paperwork.
“No way I can ride this morning,” I thought. “No way I can justify it.”
That thought kept popping up for the next two hours. “I can’t justify going out for a ride. Not today.”
By 7:00, though, I sat back. “If I can’t justify doing it now,” I thought, “when can I justify it? Isn’t the whole point behind going out and riding the fact that you do it precisely when things are most stressful and harried? What part of my life is going to go down in flames if I go ride? No part. That’s what.”
I thought about how the incremental choices to forego riding for work are what kill the habit of riding. It’s foregoing even the short, life-and-mind saving quickies that leads to foregoing the longer stuff, until you’re only a weekend rider, then a once-a-month rider, then my-bike-lives-in-the-garage-unridden rider.
So I shucked the guilty conscience and pedaled for a couple of hours. I finished and wound up with a day that was far more productive than it would have been had I simply kept grinding away.
Moral: The only ride you can’t justify is the one you don’t do.
August 13, 2019 § 1 Comment
Among the sponsors who have generously donated to this year’s All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards, Big Orange Cycling has been a part of the festivities since the beginning.
In addition to being extremely well represented in a number of award categories, that is, one category in especial, Big O has repeatedly broken new ground in its approach to promoting cycling. And I’m not just talking about kit design.
Big Orange was one of the first clubs to adopt bike safety as an ongoing and integral part of its club operations–not as an informal emphasis on safety, but by using instructors and a proven curriculum to protect its members on the streets of LA. In conjunction with Cycling Savvy, Big O continues to lead in its approach to safe use of urban roadways.
Among other innovations, Big O is the perhaps the only club in the history of cycling to welcome Brad House with open arms. It was a sad day for cycling in the South Bay when this titan of something left the sunny skies of SoCal for the arid, windswept steppes of Dallas.
In addition to structured rides every weekend that calibrate with the off-season in racing from July through May, Big Orange promotes rider education and has been a key entry point for countless riders who have gone on to become successful racers on local, state, national, and international levels.
For another year, Big Orange puts its money where our mouths are and has donated generously to help promote unity, diversity, and community in cycling.
August 10, 2019 § 8 Comments
This morning I didn’t get up at 4:00. After not getting up, I didn’t have coffee or breakfast, and after not doing that I didn’t wipe down my frame and chain.
I put on zero Wend chain wax and didn’t put on my sparkly white South Bay Cycling wanky socks. I didn’t refill my water bottle or pack a baggie with raisins and almonds and didn’t pull on my new Bahati kit; nor did I put on glasses and gloves.
I didn’t not put on a helmet, either, and all my sunscreen stayed in the bottle.
Once all that was not done, I didn’t affix my headlight and three taillights, didn’t switch them on, didn’t clack down the stairs and wake up the neighbors, and didn’t roll down Silver Spur at 45 mph, where I didn’t carefully avoid the pothole near the speed limit sign by the high school.
The ride started but I didn’t, and I didn’t say hello to anyone, or attack, or get dropped on the Switchbacks. I wasn’t late for breakfast with the grandkids, either, and I didn’t have any mid-meal howler leg cramps.
I wasn’t wrecked the rest of the day and didn’t nap at noon. For two hours.
I was conversational all day and I didn’t yawn every third word; nothing I said was related to the morning ride or the antics thereon. Later in the day I didn’t check out my ride on the Stravver that I don’t have, and I posted no photos on Facebag of the ride I didn’t do.
It wasn’t a perfect day.
August 9, 2019 § 10 Comments
I read that a white supremacist who is throwing a white supremacist fundraiser for the white supremacist president of the United States recently got boycotted because he owns shares in businesses where few of the customers are white supremacists, and the customers who are not white supremacists didn’t want to spend their money any more on a company that supports white supremacy.
Now a couple of things.
First, one of the companies being boycotted is Soul Cycle. If you’ve never heard of them it is because you are a cyclist. Soul Cycle does something called “spinning,” where you can, or rather you must, oxymoronically, ride your bike indoors. I went to their web site and couldn’t find any cycling on it anywhere, although there was a bunch of PG porn, i.e. sweaty hot people barely clad.
Second, the white supremacist who sits on Soul Cycle’s board and is the object of the boycott has no fucking idea how to tie a necktie. Neither does the White Supremacist in Chief.
The sine qua non for making your necktie look like it was tied by a gentleman instead of a baboon is the “dimple.” A necktie without a dimple is like a TT bike without a front wheel. Looks stupid, doesn’t work. And no, that gash off to the right of the WSIC’s tie is not a dimple.
Sartorial considerations aside, there’s a third issue with the billionaire white supremacist and his Trumpy fundraiser. Ross desperately needs a workout at Soul Cycle, Equinox (another fitness club he owns), or better yet, on the Thursday morning Flog that leaves from Malaga Cove. Dude looks terribly unfit and like he would benefit from a beating on the bike, if only to wipe that smug little racist bullshit grin off his sappy face.
But I know you’re wondering whether boycotts really work? Do they?
Like any good scientific answer, the answer is “It depends.”
Take the Wanky Boycott, for example. This is ongoing, and here’s how it works.
Someone comes across the Wanky blog and blows coffee/snot all over the keyboard. “That dude is hilarious!” they say. “That dude tells it like it is!” they say. “Go get ’em, Wanky!” they say. So they sign up for the $2.99 subscription, which is actually more expensive than the New York Times.
The Wanky subscriber goes happily along, getting his occasional blog to help him through the morning stool, when suddenly a very disturbing blog post appears, usually something like this, which results in this screaming ass-rash email threatening dire financial consequences:
So what is your point today Seth? People shouldn’t do charity rides for organizations such as JDRF? Why are you attempting to discourage people from participating in events that serve as fund raisers? Organizations use these events to help offset fewer charitable donations because of the tax revision starting this year. Why are you not doing the opposite and encouraging riders to participate in these events so funds can be raised to help find cures for diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes? Funds raised by JDRF in their rides help fund research and financial support, I think you should get your head out of your ass on this. I don’t get it, Did you not get enough swag from some charitable ride organization, did some wanker piss you off through doing a fund raising ride and boasted about it? I don’t get it. And yes I’m pissed. Do you prick your fingers multiple times per day to test your blood sugar? Do you receive insulin through a pump attached to your body? Do you wear a continuous glucose monitor to help ensure your blood sugar is neither too high or too low? Do you spend hundreds of dollars per year on insulin, test strips, monitors, and doctor appointments, because there is not a cure yet? So yeah, if some wanker gets to boast about the ride they did, but collects a few thousand dollars in donations, then that is good.
This kind of ass-rash usually results in an even bigger dose of ass-rash because I always take the time to respond to idiots.
I totally disagree. The only way that treatment for serious diseases comes about is through research that costs billions. For cancer/diabetes, hundreds of billions.
The only mechanism for that is federal funding for research grant funding through NIH et al. Anyone who wants these problems addressed should be advocating higher taxes and supporting AAS as the government slashes funding, not riding their stupid fucking bike to raise $1000 to make someone feel good.
What’s worse, people who donate think they have made a change. Remember Lance and cancer “awareness”? Millions pissed away.
You are wrong, people should not be encouraged/congratulated for harming research as they crow about themselves on Strava. The only solution is higher taxes and earmarks for general and targeted scientific research. The “I’m curing cancer” stuff is bullshit, a lie, and I’m tired of all the phony spam.
It’s as if I pointed out that “healing quartz stones” was a joke and you accused me of hating your kids.
But there’s more!
Tax deductions for charities are also a scam, diverting tax dollars so some spoiled rich white braggart can go on a beautiful bike vacation.
If you want to discuss in person I’m up for it anytime. Conversations are harder, but usually more rewarding, than emails.
Naturally, idiots hate it when you actually respond to them, so they hit you where they know it hurts most, that is, smack in the middle of your $2.99. See Pudsy’s well-thought out reply regarding heads and rectums.
I understand what you are saying. We are so far from that happening though. So I still think you got your head up your ass. I am thinking of cancelling my subscription as well. Just to be upfront, I stopped reading your blog, the day after the charity ride tirade. So I have canceled my subscription and payment for it.
In other words, “I will continue to read your blog and love it but no longer am going to pay for it.” This is eerily similar to the John Candy Trump dude who NEVER reads my blog and boycotts it religiously, exceptions being made for posts that go live on days of the week that end in “day.”
But back to the Wanky boycott. Does it work?
HELL YES IT WORKS. The best way to silence people with differing opinions is by making them starve to fucking death. You can’t blog when you are dead. Not well, anyway.
Ever since that dude canceled his subscription and John Candy quit reading, I have gone bankrupt(er), stopped blogging, and begun keeping a low profile. For example, I quit riding fast on the NPR, quit not wearing a helmet (lost a horse dentist subscriber over that one), and no longer say “fuck.”
But what about Stephen Ross and Soul Cycle/Equinox? Will that boycott work, too?
I’m not sure. White supremacy is what made America great and what is making it great again. But if the people who support white supremacy have to take a hit in the wallet, even if it’s only the equivalent of $2.99, well, it’s worth it. I’d cancel my gym membership, too. If I had one.