Our Dear Leader

January 15, 2019 § 15 Comments

“We had to make America great again by destroying it.”



Is all that data helping you?

January 14, 2019 § 12 Comments

All the news is about Big Data, how it can blah blah blah and how companies and governments use it to blah blah blah, to which I say, “Blah.”

But what about little data? The measurements that people started making en masse with their bike computers, heart rate monitors, and power meters are now as much a part of cycling as the bike.

Actually, more, because you don’t even need a bike to bike now. You can purchase a computer, pedal it in your living room, never go anywhere, and have an experience that is created, memorialized, and spit back to you as data.

So I wonder if all that data is really helping you? To which you might rejoin, “What do you mean by ‘help’?”

To which I might rejoin, with the mysticism of Jerry Garcia, “Whatever you want it to mean, dude.”

Actually, what I mean by “help” is “make you want to ride your bike.” Because if something doesn’t make you want to ride your bike, or worse, if it makes you not want to ride your bike, it isn’t helping.

Little data can really make you not want to ride your bike, because in order to make sense of the data you have to compare it to something, and all such tables and charts can basically be subsumed under the title “You Suck.”

No one has ever put on a power meter and discovered that they are the next Greg Lemond.

Instead, people put on a power meter and discover that they suck. This results in immediately hiring a coach who can say with a straight face, “You don’t actually suck. You just haven’t realized your potential.”

Eventually, though, no matter what your goals, you read enough and learn enough to understand that you really do suck, or, and there are lots of folks like this in LA, you just keep forking over the bucks to “realize your potential.”

I have plenty of friends who don’t use little data at all, and one or two who contentedly pedal cruisers. Most of the e-bike commuters, regular commuters, and bike path recreationalists don’t have little data, and they pretty much all look happy.

My own experience was pretty simple. I got a power meter before they were mandatory, and all it ever said was “You suck.” I got tired of staring down at that Garmin head unit, twisting myself into a vomit ball trying to hold onto a wheel, only to see a number that said “You suck.” Same with the You Suck Software. I’d download the data and get several complex graphs that all said “You suck” in different colors and with different granular explanations of my suckage.

There was a graph showing how my 5-minute power sucked, how my 20-minute power sucked, how my FTP sucked, how my max wattage sucked, how my power distribution in races sucked … it was actually impressive, I first thought, to suck in so many different parameters until I realized that everyone else sucked, too, they just sucked slightly differently.

I ditched the power meter because it was making cycling a lot less fun. Facts interpolated as little data are not fun when they all say “You suck.”

Take away the little data and whoosh! In swept the Big Delusions, where you can imagine whatever you want and not be bothered by reality, which in turn leads to wanting to ride again rather than wanting to not.

That’s how it seems to me, anyway.



Riding in the rain

January 13, 2019 § 4 Comments

We don’t have much of that thing known as “weather” in SoCal, so when seven or eight consecutive raindrops fall in the space of 24 hours, there are two approaches:

  1. It will be sunny tomorrow, so, “No.”
  2. It’s not going to rain again until September, so, “Yes.”

The “No” is self-explanatory. The “Yes,” less so. As someone who has lived in lots of places, all of which had weather, including Texas, which has what is known as “hell,” I’ve always favored riding even in awful weather. Here’s why.

  1. Contrast. Riding when you are wet and cold and miserable and hungry makes you appreciate being dry and warm and happy and having a full tummy.
  2. Skilz. Sometimes the roads get wet when you aren’t expecting it. Riding in the rain is the only way you can learn to control your bike when it is wet.
  3. Fashun. Inclement weather allows you to buy new ensembles.
  4. Revenge. Normally, wheelsuckers get a free ride if they can hang on. But not when it is raining. Then, they have to drink the dirt, grime, oil, toxic runoff, and acid rain spewing off your back wheel. This is THE reason to never ride with fenders. Sorry, Fender Dude.
  5. Non-humblebrag. “I rode,” spoken after a six-hour deluge just above freezing, says it all.
  6. Satisfaction. Collapsing on the couch after a crazy hard wet-cold ride, all toasty, under a blankie, and with a full tummy … best ever.
  7. Novelty. Everything looks, sounds, and feels different when it’s raining hard, especially the chugholes you run over because you can’t see them. And everything looks so beautiful when the rain suddenly clears and the sun pops out over the Pacific Ocean.
  8. Conditioning. Riding in shitty weather makes you tougher. Sorry, but it does.
  9. #socmed. You get to crush it post-ride all over the ‘Gram, the ‘Bag, and the Stravver when you rode twice around the block in a light sprinkle.
  10. FTR. You gotta ride irrespective of the climate because your date with destiny is approaching fast.



Tink kicks ass, doesn’t bother taking names

January 12, 2019 § 4 Comments

Local rider and professional cyclist Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, voted 2018’s Rider With The Hardest Name To Spell, stood on the podium at the end of Stage Two in the Women’s Tour Down Under yesterday.

Although she refused to credit her victory to her three or four rides with shadow coach Wanky, the editorial board here at Cycling in the South Bay was determined to take credit for her success whether it was due or not.

We called Kristabel in Australia, waking her up from a deep slumber a few hours before she had to get up and start preparing for the crucial Stage Three. “Who is this?” she asked.

“It’s me, your shadow coach.”


“Me, Wanky.”

“How did you get my number? And why are you calling me in the middle of the night?”

“I wanted to interview you about how I trained you into the racer you are today.”

The line went dead, but I was not deterred, so I began calling my sources in the South Bay, riders who had played a pivotal role in developing Tink into one of the most feared riders in the pro peloton. My first call was to Chief, the man who had discovered Tink one day as she pedaled along the bike path.

“Yo, Chief, Wanky here. Did you see the story about Tink?”

“I did, indeed.”

“Could you say a few words about how you discovered her?”

“Sure. I’ll never forget it. She passed me on the bike path one day and I immediately recognized world class talent, so I rode up to her to give her some advice.”

“What was the advice?”

“I was going to tell her she was talented and should join a development club like Team Lizard Collectors.”

“Then what happened?”

“Nothing. I was breathing so hard when I caught up I couldn’t talk. She saw a greasy old man sweating last night’s hangover profusely out of every pore, and sprinted away.”

“Got it.” Next I phoned up the rider who had taught her more than anyone, Team Lizard Collector’s legendary Dear Leader, G3. “Yo, G3. Tink killed it at the Tour Down Under yesterday. Any quotes about how you taught her everything she knows?”

“Of course, of course. First I put her on a rigid schedule. Mondays off. Tuesdays LT efforts for 2 hours. Wednesdays big ring intervals up Via del Monte. Thursdays NPR with sprints. Fridays easy spin. Saturdays Donut Ride. Sundays 2 x 2 pacelines to the Rock at 75% of threshold.”

“And then what happened?”

“I dunno. She did the Monday day off that I advised and then got a coach. I only rode with her a couple of times after that.”

“And is that when you shared your wisdom with her?”

“Sort of. But she kept dropping me so I couldn’t really talk much.”

“Check. Thanks, bro.” Next I called up Psycho Mike. “Yo, Mike. Wanky here. Didja see the news about Tink?”

“You betcha.”

“Any choice quotes about how you helped her become the great rider she is today?”

“After the restraining order I couldn’t really help her that much.”

“Oh, right. Thanks.” Finally I rang up G$. “Yo, Money. You see the news about Tink?”


“Can you give me a coupla quotes about how you trained her to be one of the world’s best?”

“Wanky,” he said. “Genes.”



Apology from the heart

January 11, 2019 § 51 Comments

I did it. I am sorry.

Sorry, honey. I really am.

Sorry, mom. I couldn’t control myself.

Sorry, dad. I know you had higher hopes for your son, one who would have discipline and taste.

Sorry, children. I raised you to be better than I was able to be. May you never wear this badge of dishonor yourselves.

Sorry, grandchildren, living and unborn. This a shame you will carry forever. Hide it well.

Sorry, dearest friends. You trusted me. I betrayed you. You will never look at me the same way again.

Sorry, cycling buddies. You thought I stood for something bigger. I didn’t. I fell in with a bad, bad crowd.

Sorry, blog subscribers. You thought you were supporting decency, goodness, and truth. You weren’t. You were supporting a sham.

Sorry, Big Orange. You embraced me. I fouled your nest with the opposite of Orange.

Sorry, Velo Club La Grange. You welcomed me as a member. I have besmirched your true-blue reputation forever.

Sorry, in-laws. You never fully trusted me. You were right. The minute you turned your back, I slithered into something horrible.

Sorry, on-line Chinese teachers. You believed I was dedicated and dependable. I was fickle. Just another faking poser.

I did this thing for which there is no atonement, I ventured to a dark place from which there is no return. I have no one to blame but myself. Henceforth when I look in the mirror I will only see the horror.

Why horror? Because I did it, with intent and full knowledge, knowing that my life would never again be the same and not caring about those who had loved and trusted me to be better. Yes, I did it. I bought Rapha.


What in the hell is right with you?

January 10, 2019 § 14 Comments

My life insurance ran out the other day. I did my best to get killed accidentally before I turned 55 but it just didn’t work. It was a sweet policy, too. I paid $132 a month and if I had died then my wife would have gotten $2M.

You can bet I never told her that.

So I went online and started searching for some new life insurance. I found a somewhat deal, which is what you’d expect hunting for life insurance at 55 instead of at 38, $250 a month for the same benefit, $2M. So I applied for it.

Turns out I had to get a physical exam. They sent a lady out with a bag full of equipment and a bunch of forms. She ran through the diseases but I didn’t have any of them. “Ever commit suicide?” she asked me with a straight face.

“Not lately,” I answered.

It is amazing how many things can go wrong, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as it were, and she asked me about all of them. Then she came to the medical treatment part. “This is gonna take a while,” she said.

“How come?”

“We have to go through every doctor or healthcare provider you’ve seen in the last five years.”

“All of them?”

“All of them,” she said with finality.

Yasuko popped her head in. “You aren’t going to find anything. He is very healthy. Healthy like a dog. He is the healthiest person I have ever seen.”

The lady was skeptical. “Really?”

“Oh,yes. We have a saying in Japanese, ‘Dummies never catch cold.'”

I told the lady about my three medical visits. The ER and ortho when I had my bicycle-falling-off-incident and broke my nutsack, and a trip to the skin doc to have a lesion looked at. She wrote it all down. “What else?”

“That’s it,” I said.

“That’s it? For the last five years?”

“No,” I said. “That’s it for the last 30.”

But I had been wondering, as she asked me about cancer and strokes and high blood pressure and suicide and alcohol and drugs and tobacco and all that etcetera, wondering why she never asked about anything good? You know like, “Do you exercise? Do you eat whole grains? How often do you floss? Do you go to church? Do you have a pet? Do you sleep seven hours? Do you nap? Do you have sex often? Do you drink moderate amounts of alcohol and coffee? Do you hang out with your grandkids?”

All of these things correlate with longevity, and you’d think that someone about to write a life insurance policy would want to know about factors that might affect how long you live … or maybe they wouldn’t, when it comes to factors that extend life, because the life insurer is only betting that you won’t die before the average life expectancy. They don’t care if you live beyond it, they only care if you don’t live long enough and they have to pay the death benefit.

Still, the whole thing reflects a health “care” system that focuses on what’s broken and wrong rather than what is healthy and right. Kind of puts the emphasis on the wrong thing, if you ask me.



2019 Cycling Resolutions

January 9, 2019 § 5 Comments

These are just in time to sub for all the other one’s you’ve already given up on!

  1. Refuse to commit. Except for your commitment not to commit. Commit to 20k miles this year, or commit to quitting cycling forever. Either way, don’t follow through!
  2. Climb better. By not climbing. Instead, Facebook and the Gram. You got this or not.
  3. Try doping. You’ve heard about it and it works.
  4. Break the mold. Come up with the weirdest training regimen ever. Kimchi diet? Nose breathing? Reverse breakaways? Nothing is too kooky for you to lay it out there.
  5. Become virtual. Join every social media platform that exists. Load them up with your cycling activities. Watch the friendships blossom!!!!!!!
  6. Get on the grid. Replace all your bikes with electric ones. Sweat is so 20th Century.
  7. Tat up. No tat? No cred!
  8. Build a wall. Create your own #leavemethefuckalone ride. Let uncool people know where they stand: Alone.
  9. Find your inner kamikaze. Learn to descend faster. Heck, don’t learn. Just do it. “Speed is your friend,” quoth Manslaughter.
  10. Measure up. Convert your cycling data obsession to the rest of your life so it will be just as satisfying and happy as the joy you get from poring over post-ride power data!