Weekend South Bay cycling notes

October 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

Feeling that way. Mantourists throughout the South Bay dropped off their bikes at the IF WHQ on Sunday and Monday, and picked up their incredibly awesome MT4 t-shirts, designed by StageOne and made by ActiveT. The logo is designed to represent a stiff man part, accompanied on either side by a pair of other man parts. I hope you don’t think I’m joking, because I’m not. It was an awesome sight to see all the MT4 bikes lined up at the WHQ, each one nattily attired with its own nickname sticker. There were only a couple of misspelled names, 42 names printed for 43 riders and 50 shirts for all 40 who ordered. Mantourists don’t do math or speling.

Record on the Rollers. Douggie’s record of 9:57 on the Rollers, per Strava, still stands despite my repeated attempts to break it. He set the record on the Donut Ride, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 and despite the best efforts of Roadchamp, Bull, Howard Hughes of the South Bay, Rodley, and me this past Saturday, the record is intact. We never even got within striking distance. This is the stretch that goes from the bottom of the Switchbacks to the church just before Hawthorne. Think it’s easy? Have a go! Not that this is keeping me up at night. Of course not. In fact, it hardly bothers me at all. Why, I could care less about breaking that fucking record. Strava is stupid, anyway.

Fool me twice. Day 1 of MT4 goes from San Jose to Santa Cruz. I emailed Dr. Jekyll, asking for a link to the exact route. He told me that the climb, Moody Road and Page Mill Road to Skyline, was only a couple km long. Remembering that he’s the one that took us on the 9,000 feet of death in that same vicinity last year, I checked on Strava. Here’s the dope, dopes: 8.4 miles, almost 2,000 feet, average gradient 4.8%. The record is 37 minutes by some 40-lb. mountain goat named Daniel Green who owns most of the harshest climbs in the area. It may not be as completely awful as 2010, but it looks pretty bad.

Marckxed man. I went by Brad House’s cyclocross race on Sunday at Lunada Bay to watch grown men play in the dirt and pay homage to MMX. Brad is to be commended for the efforts he puts into promoting these races. The work laying out the course looked harder than cleaning the Augean Stables with a toothbrush. The actual racing looked so hard, nasty, treacherous, and pain-laden that it made me glad I only have one bike. MMX won his category–kudos–and it appeared that most of the field and the spectators were sporting SPY. This last part is really important, because it shows that more and more people are willing to say “Hey, Oakley is made by the same people who make sissy Prada handbags and Chanel perfume, but SPY is designed in SoCal by SoCalians. Very cool.”

Angel in a centerfold. Those of you who are used to gagging on his rear wheel or suffering the ignominy of having him beat the crap out of you in the IF club time trial can relax for a minute as the Spivinator shows a different side: local camera ace. After getting thrown from his horse and dragged through the mud at the San Diego ‘cross races, he’s taken some time off ‘cross to re-grow his skin and focus his prodigious creative energies behind the camera lens. If you’re lucky to be his FB friend, you’ll enjoy his series from this weekend’s races. He’ll also be heading up to San Jose on Wednesday with the IF Blue Train to participate in the Occupy PCH! Movement, where dedicated 1-percenters fill up the entirety of America’s most famous road with their bicycle unprotest. Kudos!

Alberto’s worst nightmare. This Romanian CPA showed up at the Center of the Known Universe on Thursday after the world-famous Pier Ride, asked everyone how much their bikes cost, bragged about his $300 shit-spattered bicycle, hit on all the chicks, made us hold his smelly canvas jacket for him, then dumped it unceremoniously on our legs, snatched my iPhone and took a photo of everyone, modeled his lobster-man cycling jersey and matching gut, gave us his email, showed us his iPhone, explained to me that my name means “seven” in French (it doesn’t), then kicked back with a cigarette and blew smoke in our faces even after being told to leave. Some people are in control of any situation. This dude is in control of the universe.

It’s lost $73.45 in value thanks to that asshole. En route to the IF WHQ on Sunday, I stopped at Cheapo-tle for a grease ‘n chicken gutbomb. While in the lot, some asshole nailed my cherry ’02 Camry and totally thrashed its bleeding-edge rad trick rear end. The caddywhompus bumper now ruins the coolness aspect of America’s stylingest pimpmobile. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve cruised PCH in this chick magnet just to have some smokin’ hot broad pull up alongside and say, “I love navy blue and velour seats in a mid-sized economy sedan that gets 28 city/36 highway, cowboy!!” Plus, this baby only has 189,000 miles, three matching plastic wheelcovers, 20 or thirty rusty “style” spots on the hood, a gash in the left door (looks like you’ve BEEN there, you know), and some other character aspects. My buddy Stern-O once told me that if I was going to take a trick cherry like that out on the road, I was crazy. Looks like he was right. Again.

Time to confess

October 23, 2011 Comments Off on Time to confess

Dear Friends:

I have been living with a terrible secret these last years, and through the help of a good friend I have realized that it is time to go public with what I can only describe as a nightmarish addiction. Perhaps by doing so I can help even one person avoid what has been a living hell for me. Below is the short questionnaire sent by my friend. I have answered it honestly–and hopefully the truth is going to set me free.

Answer YES or NO to the following questions.

1. Do you lose time from work due to cycling?
YES x NO __

2. Is cycling making your home life [more] unhappy?
YES x NO __

3. Do you cycle because you are shy with other people?
YES __ NO x

4. Is your cycling affecting your reputation? [This is a hard call, because it wasn’t exactly stellar to begin with.]
YES x NO __

5. Have you ever felt remorse after cycling?
YES x NO __

6. Have you ever got into financial difficulties as a result of cycling?
YES x NO __

7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when cycling? [Is there any other kind?]
YES x NO __

8. Does your cycling make you careless of your family’s welfare?
YES x NO __

9. Has your ambition decreased since cycling?
YES x NO __ [Although my cycling ambitions have increased.]
10. Do you throw up after excessive cycling?
YES x NO __

11. Do you want a cycle first thing in the morning?
YES x NO __

12. Does cycling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
YES __ NO x

13. Has your sex drive decreased since cycling?
YES x NO __

14. Is cycling jeopardizing your job or business?
YES x NO __

15. Do you cycle to escape from worries or trouble?
YES x NO __

16. Do you cycle at home when you’re alone?
YES x NO __

17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of cycling?
YES x NO __ [The details of that crash last week are pretty murky.]

18. Has your physician ever treated you for cycling?
YES x NO __

19. Do you cycle to compensate for a physical or emotional deficiency?
YES x NO __

20. Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of cycling?
YES x NO __

What’s your score? 18

If you have answered YES to any one of the questions, there is a definite warning that you may be a cycloholic.

If you have answered YES to any two, the chances are that you are a cycloholic.

If you answered YES to three or more, you are definitely a cycloholic.

If you have answered YES to more than 10 questions you are hopelessly fucked. Keep at it, loser, you’re beyond the reach of modern medicine. And forget the 12 Steps. You need more like a million.

(The test questions are used at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, MD, in deciding whether or not a patient is cycloholic. “Cycloholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over cycling, preoccupation with the drug cycling, use of cycling despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.”)

Readers ask about price etiquette

October 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

I learned long ago that if some wanker came up and told me that his bike was one-off and cost $12,000, it generally meant I could kick the living shit out of him even though my Cannondale with Shimano 105 crap cost less than one of his brake levers. In fact, it actually made riding a bike more fun, you know, getting a fucking dissertation about how great, expensive and hard to get some guy’s bike was, and then seeing him crumble like a Republican tax proposal the minute we hit the gas! Why is that so much fun, and can we do it some more?

Gerg Trebiel

Dear Gerg:

You know how when some guy comes up and brags about how much his hot wife’s boob job cost, and next thing you know she’s dragging you down an alley so you can take them for a test drive while he’s slumped over at the bar? Fucking another man’s wife after he tells you about her hotness is just like dropping some blowhard after he’s told you about his awesome new ride. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway, never having done either one. Please feel free to carry on with the beatings.

The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

Every time I park my bike at the Center of the Known Universe and kick back on the porch to enjoy other people enjoying their coffee, some asshole comes up and says, “How much did your bike cost?” What’s up with that, WM? Like, I don’t buttonhole total strangers and ask them how much their teeth whitening treatment cost, or ask how much they paid for their hookers. That’s just rude. Or am I out of synch with the times?

Trebiel Gerg

Dear Trebiel:

Sadly, we live in a time when the old rules of common decency no longer apply. People ask you how much the bike cost because they are slug-like and out of shape, whereas you are lean, fit, and very cute. They figure you got that way by spending a lot of money on your bike. These are the same douchebags who buy $150,000 performance cars so they can drive them in bumper-to-bumper traffic on PCH, or who think that by buying the same clubs that Tiger Woods uses they too will be able to pick up skanky waitresses and get a quickie divorce. The best responses to these clod-like inquiries are: 1) “I don’t know, it’s stolen.” 2) “I’m not sure. How much for the children?” 3) “I’m not a cyclist. I just like the clothes.”

The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I try to be nice to everyone, even the complete idiots. So I wave to people on my bike, but they, like, never wave back. What’s up with that?

Eeg Yenom

Dear Eeg:

That’s easy. They’re trying not to crash.

The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I was on the Donut this morning and you were getting your ass shelled on Trump. Then Hockey Stick reached out his hand as you were flailing backwards. You grabbed it, and he like slung you right back up to the lead group. That was cool. What’s that maneuver called?

Yenom Eeg

Dear Yenom:

That is a track maneuver called a “Madison throw.” Hockey Stick now has so much money in the Karma Bank for MT4 that he will be carried over the climbs on a pillow-lined Pasha chair.

The Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I saw you flailing really badly on the Donut this morning going up the Switchers. You looked like crap with all that snot dripping off your chin and you were making a funny kind of death-rattle noise, sort of a cross between labored breathing and the sound of a person who’s just had life support switched off. You were way behind the lead group, sort of stuck out in no-man’s-land as the rest of the wankers flailed even farther back behind you. Then, just as you hit the college, some little dude about 3-feet high came up right behind you. Pretty humiliating, huh? And who was the little dude?


Dear Snoot:

That was Squint, the newest addition to the South Bay cycling scene. He’s 12 years old and already a national champion of some sort or other. He actually didn’t finish “right behind me.” Rather, I was slowing down to help him out and raise his self esteem. It’s a complicated racing/training tactic-strategy thingy that would take too much time to explain and you might not understand it anyway. Anyway, I would have crushed him if I had really wanted to. I just didn’t today. Tapering and stuff.

The Wankmeister

Don’t forget to brush!

October 21, 2011 Comments Off on Don’t forget to brush!

Before leaving for MT4, it is important to pack properly. This means keeping stuff to a minimum. The wussified cyclotourist travels with three large suitcases and “panniers,” which mantourists can’t even pronounce. Below is a list of the items you’ll absolutely need on MT4, in order of importance. Remember, you’re rooming for five days on a long trip with a bunch of scruffy, aging, henpecked, overweight guys.

1. Earplugs.
Chief invented sleep apnea. If the room is rocking, your ears’ll need blocking.

2. Tall white socks.
Studies prove that men ride faster, climb better, and just feel better about themselves with sparkling clean, tall, white socks.

3. Oxy-Clean.
You’ve got to clean your socks daily. Nasty white socks slow you down and make you feel dirty. Bring the Oxy-Clean stick rather than the spray. You don’t want the bottle puncturing in your Man Bag and bleaching spots all over the crotch in your spare bibs.

4. Baseball cap.
For the mantourist, a baseball cap is the ultimate in apres-ski attire. Don’t bring one that touts breast cancer awareness or some bullshit cause that will make the world a better place. The ideal cap says “Cleveland Indians” or “Caterpillar.”

5. Hoody.
You never know when you’re going to break a chain, ram into the guy in front of you and crack your fork, get bronchitis, or just have a vewy hawd day, so bring a hoody for when you get your sorry ass bundled into the paddywagon or for apres-ski. Don’t have a hoody with some stupid bike manufacturer or cycling brand on it. Football teams, cheap beer brands, or popular brothel logos are acceptable.

6. Embro.
This stuff is just bitching. Try it out at least once before MT4, though, and practice putting it on without smearing it into your chamois when you pull on your shorts unless you want Great Balls of Fire for a hundred burning miles.

7. Underwear (1 pair).
There’s a lot of scholarly debate about whether you really need any at all. Bring a pair if it will make your wife less grossed out when you leave. If you have to choose between a pair of underwear and another pair of tall white socks…no-brainer.

8. T-shirt (one).
Only acceptable type has the MT4 or MT3 logo on it. Or any t-shirt with the words “taint buster.”

9. Electrical tape.
Just a strip to wrap around 80mm stems to keep them from rattling against your carbon wheelset. Shows you care more about your bike style than wussy clothing fashion like underwear.

10. Credit card.
Minimum $20 available balance. This usually requires significant advance savings and debt paydown for most mantourists, so start early.

11. Cash.
$5. For when #10 gets declined, which it certainly will.

12. SPY sunglasses.
You need to look cool. Don’t bring Oakleys, I don’t care how much you paid, or what kind of deal you got, or how you think they’re bitching because their color matches your frame. They suck. Plus, their parent company, Luxottica, owns Prada bags and Chanel perfume, for Christ’s sake. Don’t be a handbag toting, perfume dauber. Be a man.

13. Bib shorts (1 pair).
A little bit of crust never hurt anybody, especially a man. You can scrape off all the buildup at the end of Day 3 with a stick and they’ll be fresh as new, sort of.

14. Jersey (1).
They don’t generally start to smell really bad until the end of Day 3. That means there’s only two full days of uber-stink. Any man worth his salt can stand two days of B.O. The entire country of France lives with it, for God’s sake.

15. Armwarmers (1).

16. Cycling shoes (1).
That’s one pair, numbskull. If you show up with one shoe you’ll look really stupid, and trust me, no one will have brought an extra.

17. Helmet (1).
You’re a man. You’re not afraid of multiple blows to the head. You’re pretty much addled anyway. Still, we don’t want to have to reimburse the county for damage to the road when your rocky skull chips the pavement.

18. Spare tubes (3).
Bring more if you have some weird wheelset. If you flat somewhere between Ragged Point and Big Sur and need an Italian reverse-thread 94 mm angled stem, you’re fucked, and no one will stop to help you.

19. Tire lever (1).

20. Long gloves (1).
At least one morning it will be cold and you’ll freeze your fucking fingertips off.

21. Shoe covers (1).
See #20.

22. Rain jacket (1).
If you don’t bring it, we’ll have five straight days of rain. If you have to lug it around, we’ll get nothing but sunshine. Bring it.

23. Garmin unit and charger (1).
If you can’t upload it to Strava, it never happened. And even if it did, no one will believe you.

24. Jeans (1).
Don’t bring shorts. We’ll have been looking at your sorry ass and spindly legs all day on the bike. Cover that shit up.

25. Phone (1).


1. Phone charger.
This is obvious. With no charger, once your phone dies no one will be able to call you to bitch about the poopy diapers, foreclosure sale, termination letter, etc.

2. Razor/Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss/ Nail clippers/Nose Hair trimmer, cologne, tweezers, or any other item, balm, liquid, paste, ointment or device that could in any way make you look better, smell better, taste better, be more attractive to the same or opposite sex, etc. This is Man Tour. Time to smell like shit and look like a pig, and to scratch your ass, armpits and nose all in one swipe as you return to the wild. The way nature intended.

3. Reading material of any kind.
This is also obvious. You’re here to bond, which means talking with your bros about life, swapping lies, bragging about what a stud you were before you got married, and drinking yourself into a pathetic muddle. First guy to whip out some “book he’s always wanted to read” has to sleep with Bluebeard.

4. Medicine of any kind.
Alcoholic medicine will be available at the end of each day, so no need to BYO. Painkillers, sleeping pills, antidepressants (who the fuck would even think about getting depressed around a smelly bunch of drunk bros??), heart medicine, blood pressure pills, Viagra, and any other concoction that indicates you have a mental or physical weakness will be crumbled into powder and put into Chief’s oatmeal, where the toxic alcoholic stew in his stomach will instantly neutralize the chemicals forever.

5. Personal espresso makers, coffee packets, etc.
Men drink whatever the fuck they’re served and are glad to have it. If the morning diet is gruel washed down with dirty dishwater and lukewarm spit, you’ll say, “Thanks, can I have seconds?” and count yourself lucky. Bullshit espresso drinks will also be added to Chief’s oatmeal. Offenders will have to hit the head after Chief’s morning deposit.

6. Work projects.
Don’t you fucking dare sit down at the end of the day with a laptop and fiddlefuck around with some bullshit project that’s “on deadline.” Mantourists don’t give a fuck about deadlines unless they’re the expiration date on a keg. If your boss/corporation/client can’t accept that you’re a man, and that men don’t work on vacation, have them place a collect call to Wankmeister who’ll be glad to explain.


1. Not cleaning your plate.
You’re a man. Men work all day. They’re hungry. They eat everything on their plate, period. Don’t like rutabagas? Don’t worry. Men can’t even spell “rutabagas,” let alone order them off a menu.

2. Calling home.
House burn down? Fiery car crash claim a few lives? It can wait, trust me. There’ll be plenty of time to bury the bodies and file your insurance claim after you get back.

3. Refusing to drink with the bros.
Man Tour means group drinking, and none of this “craft beer” crap. Miller, Bud, Coors, etc., only. There is no acceptable excuse not to participate, with the exceptions of “I’m not old enough,” and “I had my throat removed.” No one gives a shit if you’re trying to get your life together, break a bad habit, lose weight, stay out of prison because you’re on probation with your 4th DUI, etc.

4. Going to bed early.
Everybody knows that Man Tour survival is all about recovery and sleep, which is precisely why it’s forbidden. Glory awaits those who burn the candle at both ends, in the middle, and then eat the wax. 136 miles of hell on Day 4 after an all night drunk on two hours of sleep…that’s the stuff of legends.

5. Complaining.
Too hilly? Too windy? Not enough pee-pee stops? Feeling pooped and need a shoulder to lean on? Have ideas on how to improve MT for next year? You, my friend, are a pussy. Keep your problems and helpful suggestions to yourself. It’s Man Tour, this is the fucking route, so put your sorry assed, undertrained head down and take your beating like a man. Everyone is tired, cranky, and riding with an inflamed and festering taint. Tell it to the hand.

For additional questions or concerns about appropriate man behavior, please visit our FAQ at www.imawhinybitch.com.

Start list for MT4

October 20, 2011 § 6 Comments

Fuckdude: Spiritual leader of cycling in the South Bay. Strengths: Climbing, time trails, sprinting, herding cats, babysitting, total mastery of the word “fuck” in all its forms and declensions. One national championship in 2011 and multiple state titles. Weaknesses: Less than 150 road miles leading up to MT4. Prediction: May spend part of Day 4 in the paddywagon.

Fireman: Mops up the end of the peloton, changes flats, hands out spare diapers, tells the crybabies to “Man up, you pussy.” Strengths: Sprinting, wheelsucking, utter and total fearlessness. The only MT4 participant who has an actual man’s job and doesn’t earn his living tapping out crap on a computer. Weaknesses: Beer. Prediction: Will likely take the win at the county line and at the bar.

Davy Dawg: Breaks wind at the front for hours at a time. Not that kind! Strong as an ox, friendly, patient, handsome, best tattoo, never whimpers. Strengths: Sprinting, time trailing, climbing. Weaknesses: Too nice to his enemies. Prediction: He’s bailing after Day 4 due to his alleged job, so will be expected to rain down punishment, especially on Days 2, 3, and 4. Battle to the death with Fireman for the Big Sur sprint.

Gonzo: Renders medicinal care to those in need of herbal remedies. Earned his star in the MT Hall of Shame when his chain exploded on the first climb of the first day on MT3. Strengths: Climbing, steady and strong in a paceline. Weaknesses: Chains. Prediction: He’ll check that fucking chain so many times on Tuesday you’ll think he’s practicing to become a metallurgist.

Woodenhead: Marches to the beat of a different drummer, and her name is Mrs. Woodenhead. Earned his star in the Hall by sprinting up and over Topanga on Day 5, jettisoning the IF WHQ celebrations and victory parade in order to change poopy diapers. Strengths: Anything involving lots of gravity. Weaknesses: White shorts, hills. Prediction: His cell phone will “break” on the afternoon of Day 1.

Bluebeard: Earned the fury of the Fireman on MT2 by dyeing his beard orange. Earned the fear of the LA-San Jose Southwest flight crew and everyone else on MT3 by dyeing his beard and hair blue. “Had to match my kit,” he said. Strengths: Beer cubed. Weaknesses: Cold, rain, mud, training, anything before 9:00 a.m. Prediction: He’ll enjoy every second off the bike.

Randommeur: Annually voted “Most Likely to Die in a Fiery Crash” by those who ride near him, Randommeur is famed for the random unpredictability of his bike handling. Friendly, tough, and recovering from a busted hip (lost focus for a second, whoops). Earned his star in the Hall by bringing his wife on MT2. Shamefulness heightened when she rode better than most of the alleged men. Strengths: Endurance. Weaknesses: Straight lines. Prediction: He will take the lid off at least one can of whupass. Whether he can get it out of the can without crashing remains to be seen.

StageOne: If Fuckdude is the spiritual leader of South Bay cycling, StageOne is its insignia. StageOne, also occasionally called “Junkyard” due to the numerous metal parts in his skeleton from previous crashes, is beloved by all. Strengths: Grit, good humor, toughness, Apple products. Weaknesses: Poor eyesight, recovering from a full elbow rebuild. Prediction: A prescription set of cycling glasses would be nice.

Hockeystick: Happiest guy in the history of cycling, ever. Has “happy” moments where he fiddles with his buddies’ brakes before a gruesome descent and similar brainfarts. Would ride his bike to the ends of the earth if you gave him an unlimited beer gift card, a cell phone, and King Harold to change his flats. Strengths: Real estate. Weaknesses: Leaps before he looks. Prediction: Will be just as happy on Day 5 as he was on Day 1.

Pratfall: Loves to ride his bike, but usually opts for work instead. Responsible, successful, tall, handsome, and the kind of stand-up guy any woman would love to have. Unfortunately, we’re not women and his dedication to work means that by the middle of Day 2 he will be one hurting puppy. Strengths: Mortgages, tuition. Weaknesses: Well, yes. Prediction: Last to a fight, first to a feast.

Peachfuzz: On MT3, when he was 15, Peachfuzz finished Day 1 one by collapsing on the hotel room floor, curling into a fetal ball, and sleeping for 12 hours straight in his sodden, salty, smelly bike suit. One year later he’s kicking ass on all comers up the Switchbacks, winning races in Belgium, and using MT4 as a leg stretcher prior to the national team training camp in San Diego. Strengths: Youth. Weaknesses: None. Prediction: Everyone else will be racing for second.

Hairball: Father of Peachfuzz. Quiet, solid, steady, last year he was a chaperone, this year he’ll be holding on for dear life when Peachfuzz hits the climbs. Strengths: He can slow down Peachfuzz by threatening to withhold his allowance or making him do his math homework. Weaknesses: Peachfuzz can beat him up and take the money anyway. Prediction: We’ll hear a lot of “That’s my boy!” for five days.

Breathanarian: 17 year-old junior racer on his first Man Tour. Breathanarianism is a subset of veganism. Its adherents only eat food products made from air. He weighs twelve pounds and is 5’11”. Strengths: Climbs rather quickly. Weaknesses: Bogs down in LA, where there hasn’t been any air for the last few decades. Prediction: Overwhelming hunger and survival instinct will have him gnawing raw bacon by the end of Day 3.

Iron Mike: As he’s the only adult on MT4, he’s been assigned to look after Breathanarian. Iron Mike limits his consumption to food items that never had a face, and has the rather unusual trait of always doing what he says he’s going to do. Strengths: Endurance. Weaknesses: Kindness and basic human decency. Prediction: Thorough preparation with several 118-mile rides under his belt, he’ll be as strong on Day 4 as on Day 1. Remember last year? I do…

M8: The only MT4 participant with a personal assistant, M8 got in all his MT4 training miles during MT3. He was spotted once this year on the Pier Ride, albeit briefly. M8 still holds the record for the worst hungover, least fit mantourist who still got up and rode the next day. Strengths: None observed, ever. Weaknesses: Too many to list. Prediction: M8 will still be the most popular guy on the ride, and after a few Advil and a hearty barf or three, he’ll be good as new.

Dr. Jekyll: Part of the IF Norcal contingent, by day Dr. Jekyll invents new drugs for a major pharmaceutical firm. By day off, however, he’s Mr. Hyde of the hills. Skinny, fit, and a lover of punishment, Mr. Hyde is the bastard who came up with the route for Day 1 of MT3 which saw a selection of mantourists bundled into the paddywagon in order to get over the second big climb. Strengths: Uphills. Weaknesses: Got to be careful here, he’s my roomie this year. Prediction: He’ll be battling out the 2nd place KOM with Pretty Boy (1st already reserved for Peachfuzz).

Canyon Bob: The nicest guy there is. Simply that. Oh, and he’s been doing all the Saturday rides, so he’s got the legs to rip yours off. Strengths: Funny jokes as you’re buried in the red, effectively popping you off the back; climbing; time trailing; pacelines; CPR; helping you change your flat as the group rides off in the distance. Weaknesses: Canyons. Prediction: Canyon Bob and Iron Mike will duke it out for honors as to who changes more flats for lazy cheapasses who showed up with threadbare tires.

Pilot: If there’s one guy you want at the helm when you’re plunging off a cliff, it’s the Pilot. He’s so good that he could literally steer your sorry ass back up onto the lip of the cliff, get you out of the gravel and back onto the road. Wicked sense of humor matched by a nasty, brutal, punishing, ugly, vengeful pair of legs. Strengths: Life vests, seat belts, oxygen masks. Weaknesses: First 30 miles of Day 3, MT3. Prediction: He will be rolling like a fast fucking freight train.

Chief: The Internet doesn’t have enough space to list the accomplishments of the Chief, formerly master of all he surveyed. Each year Chief obtains the maximum score on the inverse proportional scale of training to enjoyment. Prepares for MT  exclusively with excessive libations of firewater, Chief has never met a hill he couldn’t say something nasty about. Strengths: Hard liquor, client development on coffee/PCH rides in the middle of the workday, delegation. Weaknesses: CMC’s, paperwork, hills, anything over 15 mph. Prediction: Chief will form a rearguard contingent with M8, Sta-Puft, Woodenhead, Bluebeard, and one or two others ensuring that no one gets left behind.

Pretty Boy: Dresses only in Rapha, with lots of white. Changes kits twice daily so the icky sweat doesn’t build up on his Rapha undershirts. Pretty Boy is a radiologist, so when anyone needs to have their MRI or x-ray film read on the tour, he’s always available. If you’re bleeding or hurt, though, tough shit. Pretty Boy trained for 6 weeks prior to the tour in Austria, where he reports that “the default gradient seems to be 18%.” Strengths: Climbs like a beast; KOM’d MT3 to my eternal chagrin. Weaknesses: The front of the peloton, icky dirt, non-premium cycling kits, poorly manicured toes and feet. Prediction: He’s the only one who will give Peachfuzz a true run for his money.

Silenttreatment: We rode together for five days last year, and have ridden together a couple of hundred miles in 2011. I still can’t tell you the first thing about him. Dude is quiet, which is obviously his strategy to avoid having anything posted about him on the world-famous PV Cycling blog. Strengths: Keeping his mouth shut. Weaknesses: Voicing his opinion. Prediction: Lots of 1 and 2-day pauses between sentences.

Methuselah: Living proof that despite what’s written in the Bible, the earth is more than 4,500 years old. Methuselah was raised in impoverished South Africa, where the only way a man could make his way in the world was through hard work, dedication, clever business skills, hustle, and the forced labor of 25 million humans deprived of basic human rights. Methuselah trains 600 miles per week. On MT3 he took inordinate pleasure in watching his 40 y/o son slink into the paddywagon while he sturdily pounded through every stinking mile. Strengths: Perseverance in the face of adversity. Weaknesses: Perseverance in the face of common sense. Prediction: He will persevere.

Illtrainlater: Happy-go-somewhat-lucky son of Methuselah, he has carried on the family tradition of thriftiness, hard work, dedication, and self-sacrifice except on days of the week that end in “day.” He was a no-show on MT2, but trained hard for MT3 by showing up with a case of bronchitis. Illtrainlater recovered and on Day 5 shattered the group with a 37-mph tow into the headwind, leaving dear old dad choking on the fumes. Strengths: Tomorrow. Weaknesses: Today. Prediction: He’ll show up ready to drill it on the flats.

Bigbowls: Never stops for anyone, never waits, and always gets a head start by sneaking off ahead of schedule. Famed for tackling the hardest rides around: the Death Ride, Son of Death, Mt. Everest Challenge, Breathless Agony, Gonad Pulp-Crusher, Smashed Liver of Misery, etc. Great sense of humor, never whines or complains, and is of the “Happy to be on My Bicycle”  tribe. Seen all over the South Bay at all times of the year, and will show up for the tour in fighting trim. Strengths: Tough as hell, endurance, labor disputes. Weaknesses: Leaving on time. Prediction: He’ll sneak off early out of Big Sur, but we’ll catch him anyway.

Timidator: Younger than Methuselah, but still older than dirt. Timidator is famed for putting his head down and gutting it out. He’s the quintessential guy without a quitting gene, gotta bury him to beat him. Quiet and thoughtful, I’ve talked with him before about the tattoo on his leg. It’s a moving and powerful story, and shows the depth of his love as a father. Do yourself a favor and ask him about it sometime. Strengths: Tough but gentle. Weaknesses: He’s hanging out with us. Prediction: He’ll finish up this man tour just like he’s finished the others, and we’ll enjoy every minute of it we spend with him.

Twigman: Often puts family, job, and financial independence ahead of cycling, unpaid bills, fucking off, and swilling beer with Fireman, M8, Fuckdude, and Gonzo. Twigman would roar up the climbs if he rode more than twice before Man Tour, but as they say, if grandma had balls she’d be grandpa. Strengths: Suffering, hanging out. Weaknesses: Day 3 onward. Prediction: He’ll suffer like a dog, and love every minute of it.

Rocky: First-timer on Man Tour, Rocky hails from Colorado and is coming down to the flatlands to show us how real men ride bikes. Since none of the Man Tour vets are real men, no one really wants to know. No intel on Rocky, unfortunately. Is he wide of girth? Twiggy of leg? Saggy of gut? Iron of will? Strengths: Better be hills or he’ll get a star in the Hall. Weaknesses: Unknown. Prediction: He’s our wildcard.

Triple: Bad news for Triple haters out there…he ripped my fucking legs off on Sunday going up the Reservoir to the Domes. He’s lean, mean, and has obviously had the sex spigot turned off for a while. Either that or he’s wearing a testosterone patch the size of a blanket. Strengths: Uphill, endurance. Weaknesses: Wine. That last time at King Harold’s they had to pour him into the car. Prediction: Those who’ve been slacking off on the hills will be put to the sword.

Coupe DeVille: A former marathoner and Man Tour veteran, Coupe DeVille is tough, fit, fast, and has been logging his MT4 miles religiously. In the Pilot/Canyon Bob category of “great guy to ride with,” he never fades and never whines. Strengths: Long efforts, pacelines. Weaknesses: Wine. Prediction: Get him and Triple a box of Napa’s finest and they’ll be no trouble at all.

Douggie: Made the fatal mistake of asking not be nicknamed “Douggie.” Otherwise, overall he’s one of the fittest and best-prepared Man Tourists of 2011. He logs the miles, does speed work, gets in the climbing, and frankly could have done MT4 in August with no problems at all. Strengths: Climbing, pacelines. Weaknesses: Doesn’t like to sleep on the rollaway cot in Big Sur. Prediction: His train will run on time.

Coolhand: Never flustered, even when he’s flatted and is twenty minutes off the back with me on Day 4 before we hit the 101. Takes a back seat to no one in the beer department, never complains, just puts his head down and takes his beating like a man. If he’s there at the sprint finish, he’ll pop you. Strengths: Sprinting, chugging. Weaknesses: Pasta. Prediction: Fast finish in Big Sur.

Fishnchips: Originally from Wales, which is a small town in England filled with stupid people, Fishnchips spent his first years in America unlearning Welsh and learning how to speak proper Americlish. He can now be understood by most adults before his second beer. When he’s not learning to talk English goodly, he’s pounding on the bike. Strengths: Language. Weaknesses: Near-sighted senior citizen motorists. Prediction: He will spend much of the time wondering if the tradeoff of good year-round weather in California for intelligent company in the UK was really worth it.

Gritty: By day a boring accountant, and by night an even more boring accountant. Ugliest pedal stroke known to man. However, he backs up the ugly stroke with some killer speed and unbeatable toughness. Loves nasty riding conditions. He’s pegged a silver in the national men’s elite crit champs before, and knows how to ride a bike. Came within a tire of taking the LA County Line on MT3, and is as cagey as he is tough. Strengths: Last-second kicks, caginess. Weaknesses: Beauty. Prediction: He’s ALWAYS in shape.

Stay-Puft: Used to ride outdoors, but nowadays he trains religiously indoors. Unfortunately, his religious discipline is a tad spotty, so in the last six months he’s only logged half an hour or so of prayer time. Strengths: XXL. Weaknesses: Uphills, fast speeds, pacelines, endurance, sprinting, time trailing, etc. Prediction: MT4 will be a living hell.

Toronto: Deprogrammed triathlete, Toronto is fit year-round, even the winter he spent in Canada when he wore out the local gym’s spin machines. Never out of shape, always competitive, Toronto spanked me badly at last year’s club time trial. I’ve gotten over it, but not really. Cheerful, has a thing about pain. Likes it when it hurts. Strengths: Time trailing, endurance, pacelines. Weaknesses: Butter, lard.

Bigsurf: Biker, big wave rider, multi-sport athlete, and MT4 official photographer, Bigsurf drives one of the paddywagons and helps the mantourists change flats, air up tires, get a snack when they tummies hungwy, and makes sure the rolling entourage works flawlessly. There would be no Man Tour without him and Anchor. Well, actually, there might be, but it would be an unmitigated disaster.

Anchor: Twigman’s dad, Anchor, like Bigsurf, holds the whole thing together. He drives the other paddywagon and provides Kleenex, Band-Aids for booboos, and sanitary napkins for the mantourists who are habbing a bewy hawd day. Anchor is there for you, whether you’re rolling like a stud or, like Major Bob, smashing into someone else at 35mph.

Artiste: Famed for his artistic creations, Artiste sees everything slightly differently. Nonetheless, he’s always a blast to pedal with, and is one of the many South Bay cyclists who also have surfer cred. He’s generally known for not doing wild-ass crazy shit on the bike, and doing his turn when it’s time. Strengths: Dark blues, pack-dwelling. Weaknesses: Pitchers that still have anything left in them. Prediction: He’s known for getting in his MT miles, so it should be a relatively painless slog. Relatively.

Postal: I’ve not ridden with him much, so am going to have just make this up. He’s um, well, uh, known for, ah, his overwhelming, uh, and his impressive, er, things that he’s done while cycling in the, um, places he’s been known to ride, and is often considered to be, well, one of the people who, uh, everyone thinks is the best, um, one who does the things he’s good at. Strengths: Ah, climbing, and, um, sprinting. Weaknesses: Er, time trailing. Prediction: He’ll, um, sort of, well, you know.

Cadillac Draft: Cadillac is much beloved on group rides of every kind due to his large presence and ability to create the Rolls-Royce, or rather the Cadillac of all drafts. Once you tuck in behind him, your wattage will drop to zero. He’s tall, he’s wide, he’s happy, and as Bob Seeger once sang, provides “shelter against the wind.” Strengths: Pushing away massive amounts of bothersome air. Weaknesses: Tends to tire out sooner rather than later. Prediction: Fistfights will be breaking out from Day 3 onward to see who gets his wheel.

Wankmeister: Adherent to the “Three Ups” training method of Build Up, Blow Up, and Give Up. Currently in build phase. Blow phase typically happens middle of Day 1. Give phase runs from November-September, with a brief training valley reserved for Jaeger’s FTR in January and a thorough drubbing at Boulevard and Punchbowl. Strengths: Typing, Facebook, procrastinating. Weaknesses: Success. Prediction: Will annoy the shit out of everyone and come up short. Again.

It was a dark and stormy night

October 19, 2011 Comments Off on It was a dark and stormy night

I recently posted my ad for a used SL2 on Craigslist. It was flagged and deleted within seconds. I reviewed the standards and found that my ad violated no less than 34 different posting standards. So I edited it down to five words–“SL2 frame/fork, $500, Torrance.” And I included a couple of pictures.

My first inquiry was from a gentleperson named “Din Doo.” He had a variety of detailed and knowledgeable questions. I sent him a link to my longer ad listing here, and, oddly enough, never heard from him again.

The second email inquiry wanted to know “Would you take $450?”

I got the pleasure of sending out the clearest, best-written, literate email I’ve ever composed: “No.”

He came back with “Is it negotiable?”

This was too good; a creative writer’s dream: “No.” Then I followed it up with a link to the longer ad listing.

Gearhead, amazingly, wrote back. “Read it. Got it. When can I see it?”

The worst that could happen is I’d get raped, beaten, and killed

We set up a time, 7:45 p.m., and picked a place halfway between my house and his jail cell–the Best Buy parking lot in Long Beach.

He called yesterday afternoon to confirm. “I’ll be driving a black Prius,” I told him.

There was a pause. “I’ll be on my motorcycle.”

I started to get nervous, and not just because it was foggy and overcast. “Uh, okay.”

“And my buddy will be there, too. He drives a big black truck. In case I decide to buy it. He’ll put it in the truck.”

Gearhead sounded very cool and business-like. No fun bike talk, no chatting to see who we knew in common. You show me the goods, I show you the cash, and if neither one of us pulls a gun on the other, a deal might happen…that kind of thing. Then I got to thinking, “How’s he going to inspect the frame at night in the corner of a parking lot?”

Making a splash with the Dontfuckwithmemobile

I rolled the badass Prius into the Best Buy lot at the appointed time, rocking the fuck out of a Bach Brandenburg Concerto just to mark my fucking turf and sure enough, over in the corner was a steel-gray motorcycle parked next to a massive black truck. The guy leaning on the motor was wearing a leather jacket, stood about 6’2″, and easily weighed 220. And it was all muscle. Thankfully, I was wearing a tight t-shirt, so he could see that if there was going to be a gun show he’d better think twice.

I parked and Gearhead’s buddy got out of the truck. He was bigger than Gearhead by about a hundred pounds and was easily 6’6″. I got out of the badassmobile, trembling with fear as I saw my life flash before my eyes. I’d already practiced my lines: “Here, take it, please don’t kill me,” and “I’ll defend you at your next murder trial for free.”

Gearhead picked up the frame. “I’ve always wanted to see a frame with 25,000 miles on it.”

“It’s actually got a few more than that,” I said, hoping that an excessively truthful disclosure would prevent them from beating out all my teeth once they took the frame. Friend just stood, hugely, watching. “Here are the things I’d want to know about it before I bought it,” I added, going over the nicks and dings that were dimly illuminated by the rear cargo light.

Gearhead nodded, then reached into his pocket. My eye caught the outline of a hard, elongated object. “Here comes the pistol whipping,” I thought.

Instead he removed a small flashlight that was brighter than three of Konsmo’s cycle headlamps. He began going over every centimeter of the frame. “We work together,” offered Friend.

Delighted at something to distract me from planning my funeral arrangements, I said, “Oh really? Where’s that?”

What do you call those small appendages hanging from your sleeves?

“Bill’s Speed Palace of Death Emporium. Motorcycles.” I tried not to look at Friend’s massive forearms.

Gearhead never said a word, but he knew what he was looking for. I’ve never seen a frame so closely inspected. He went over the dropouts multiple times from every angle. Then he looked up. “Not bad for an ’09. What price did we agree on?”

Several thoughts collided as I played them out:
A) “Whatever you would like to pay me, good sir.” Downside: the craven display of weakness would make them beat me even more viciously, kind of like the way that Comanche squaws used to torture prisoners even more hideously the more they begged for mercy.
B) “I think we agreed on $450.” This had a nice ring to it, but it showed my terror, and if they were going to take the frame by force they’d take it whether I asked for $500 or $450. Plus, if they actually paid me $450 I’d have to come up with an additional $50 or face endless harassment at home for sacrificing fifty whole dollars simply to avoid a beating in a deserted parking lot.
C) “$750.” This had the advantage of making them so angry that they would kill me instantly, and a painless death has always kind of been a goal of mine.
D) “$500, bro.” This was ballsiest of all. First, it had the advantage of being true. Second, it showed them I wasn’t afraid, even though my shirt was wringing wet, my upper lip was draining sweat like a leaf-choked rain gutter in a downpour, and my voice was trembling so badly they thought English was my third language. Finally, in the event they agreed, I could tell the wife that they’d only been willing to pay me $450, take her abuse, and pocket the $50 for a couple pairs of new tall, white socks.

The correct answer turned out to be “D.” Gearhead nodded, peeled off the bills, shook my hand, passed the frame over to Friend, and we parted. They were both friendly and professional from start to finish. I noted that Gearhead’s grip was so powerful that, had it been knotted into a fist there would have been no dental records left for the coroner to reconstruct. I haven’t totally relaxed, of course. They still have my email and phone number.

MT4 Day Five: The end of innocence

October 16, 2011 Comments Off on MT4 Day Five: The end of innocence

By day five, if we were tomatoes in the produce department, we would be bruised, spoiled, and after the briefest inspection by the produce boy, tossed in the dumpster. Sunrise, heralded by Hallmark cards as “The first day of the rest of your life,” rings in a dull, aching misery for what you can only hope will be the last day you ever, ever, ever see a bicycle.

The clever roomie with whom you so gaily chatted on Day 1 is a boring, grating twit whose every utterance unleashes a barely restrained, primal urge to strangle. The lovely scenery of California, so awe-inspiring in Carmel and Big Sur, has become a blurred, hostile moonscape of asphalt, road striping, and flat tires changed at inopportune times. The bravado and heroic imagery of the Man Tour has had its chintzy veneer stripped away, revealing what everyone else saw from the beginning: a creaky bunch of saggy, wrinkly, balding, ill-tempered, pot-bellied drunks who are too cheap to vacation in Italy.

And a hundred nasty miles still await.

Making matters worse, the biggest prize of the entire tour, the one that carries bragging rights, eternal glory, and spiteful resentment from everyone else until next year, sits at the sixty-mile mark: the L.A. County Line on PCH. There will be a fierce attack somewhere in SLO, perhaps earlier, where the group shatters and a breakaway emerges. From the entrance onto PCH, past the Rock at Pt. Mugu, and all the way to the county line there will be a surging, pounding, frenetic race between a handful of wrung out, surly survivors.

However, a nasty surprise awaits those who aren’t following this blog: the county line sign has been stolen, and all that remains is the wooden post itself. The only way to recognize the finish line is by the abrupt change in pavement color, where it shifts from the thrifty Ventura County road department’s hot mix of dirt, holes, straw, glass, nails, and warm tar into the firm, dark, hardened paving of Manly Los Angeles County. The canny victor in 2011 will be the one who lunges for the line while the other peckerheads are sitting back, craning their necks to the side in vain to spy the nonexistent green sign. Will the Wankmeister claim his second consecutive victory, or will the Fireman douse his parade with the Lethal Hose of Sprint Fury?

Come on pretty boy, gonna make you a man

The group of weary warriors regroups for lunch at Trancas and then pushes on towards home. The familiar landmarks become sharper–the funny bump in Malibu just past Cross Creek; the big cracks in the road near Moonshadows; the nasty bump in the road just over the hill past the Getty; the grate on the shoulder at the last light before Temescal…and with each landmark the exhaustion fades and the singularity of the accomplishment begins to sink in and rejuvenate tired legs, except for Woodenhead, whose wife has been calling every thirty minutes for the last two days telling him that he’d better quit fucking off and get home and help change the poopy diapers.

Suddenly it’s a victory parade all the way to the Ironfly World Headquarters. Friendships re-blossom. Well-wishers like G$ meet us on PCH or at Will Rogers and escort us back through the Center of the Known Universe and on to WHQ. Knoll tips a cup of Peets in our direction. Lies that, a few hours ago were mere middle of the road whoppers become full-blown fields of bullshit. The longing for beer wells up in the back of one’s throat again, and it’s just in the nick of time, as Mel has tapped a fresh one at the World HQ. The arthritis, achey prostates, and Ben Gay joint rubs are an ancient memory, at least until we get home. MT4…in the books!

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