November 23, 2011 § 4 Comments
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp the Holiday Ride ride rolls out from the Center of the Known Universe. The weather forecast: perfect, so expect 150-200 knuckleheads all stuck together like a big ball of wax by the time the ride hits San Vicente. In order to ensure the perfect ride, I’ve compiled a list of strategies that should help you rise to the very top of the septic tank.
1. Be ready to roll out at 7:57. Even though the ride leaves exactly at 8:00, that’s only for G$, DJ, King Harold, and a couple of others who always get there late and have to chase like crazy the entire ten miles to Santa Monica. Everyone else gets anxious and leaves early, ignoring Roadchamp who’s always screaming at the top of his lungs, “It’s not eight yet! It’s not eight yet!”
2. That guy wearing the jersey-skirt with the four cases of donuts plastered to his stomach, neck, back, and hips? Don’t glue yourself onto his wheel and then complain when he slams on the brakes and sends you off into the bushes.
3. Choose your plan early, i.e. cower, dodge, pray, and wait (“codpaw”) or drill on the front (“drotfro”).
4. If you’re going to codpaw, prepare to be scared shitless from the moment you start turning the pedals. You’ll be penned in on all sides by people who are at every stage of learning how to instantly and without warning knock down other people. You’ll be able to let your mind run wild with all the possibilities of chain collisions from so many overlapped wheels, swerving bikes, and happily yakking yahoos who’re paying no attention at all to the road or the idiot in front of them.
5. If you’re going drotfro, prepare to be completely wrecked by the time you reach San Vicente, not least because you’ll have wanted to make G$, DJ, and King Harold suffer like dogs for the entirety of their chase.
6. Once you hit San Vicente, find a wheel toward the front and prepare to vomit as Bahati gradually brings the pace from 17mph up to 42mph over a span of about ten seconds. Uphill. If you opt for codpaw and the relative shelter of the clump at the back, you’ll need windshield wipers to clear off the snot, sludge, and barf bits from everyone who’s now wishing they’d done a different ride.
7. Pace yourself at the bottom of Mandeville. You do this by riding like a fucking maniac to get as far forward as possible, resulting in total exhaustion when you nudge in about tenth wheel. If you’re not already cracked, you’ll soon shatter because at tenth wheel it will be in a single line, in the gutter, and there will be nowhere to hide, except at the back. When you gap out and get screamed at by fifty other idiots who are also on the rivet, you’ll drift back to the back and find that there is no “back,” only onesie-twosie clumps of similarly blown wankers.
8. Whatever you do, don’t get on King Harold’s wheel theorizing that he’ll pull til he blows and then you’ll be able to launch with the remainder of the leaders as everyone else will have been put to the sword. The problems with this theory are manifold. First, you’ll be one of the very first turkeys who gets carved up when he begins flatbacking. Second, even if you did survive until his 3-mile effort ends, you’d be lucky if you still had the energy to find a ditch, lie down in it, and summon the strength to suck your thumb. Third, the pain you’ll experience will give you lifelong nightmares.
9. Don’t implement the “Follow G$ Strategy.” This misbegotten plan ferments when you’re lying in bed the night before, fantasizing about sending Stern-O an email detailing your exploits on Mandeville, and it occurs to you that all you’ll have to do is follow G$’s wheel and come around him at the end. As with the King Harold strategy, this one seems stupidly simple, when in fact it is, if possible, even dumber. First, G$ never gets more than about three wheels back, and sitting on his wheel provides the draft of a large paperclip. This means you’ll essentially be on the point, which equals early shatterage, followed by massive blowage, crackage, and terminal wankage. Second, about halfway up, sometimes earlier, G$ launches the first of a dozen of what in the cycling world is called an “attack.” You know those pet chimpanzees that like to tear off their owners’ faces and throw their bodies out the window? That’s kind of what it will feel like if you really follow through on this whackananny plan, only it will hurt lots worse and the grimaces from the pain will make your face look even uglier than the chimp owners’. Third, even if you make it with him up to the final wall (say, for example, he’s only riding with a rear wheel), he’ll still have plenty of kick left to kick your ass.
10. Whatever you do, don’t take a pull. At dinner, when you’re bragging to the old lady about how you’re going to throw down with the big boys, somewhere between the fourth beer and the bottom of the tequila bottle it may occur to you that, since you’re going to get shelled, you might as well drill it at the bottom of Mandy and make the heroes earn their pay. First, remember that your “pull,” even in the best of scenarios, is kind of like a 2 year-old towing his little red wagon. Second, remember that even though the heroes will be at a disadvantage, as they’ll be out of breath from laughing at your piddly display of impotence, they will also be drafting. Drafting = resting. Resting = incalculable pain when they finally launch.
11. Avoid the temptation to ride up to Bahati, Rudy, or any of the other pros and say, “Hey, man, how’s it going?” like they’re your friend. They’re not. They don’t even know you, although they may remember your bright yellow, two-sizes-too-small outfit and the enormous swatches of belly and butt that it doesn’t quite cover. Instead, quietly ride up behind them and tuck a $20 bill in their pocket. They’ll never know it was from you, but you can tell your friends that you paid some of the local pros to ride for you in a big SoCal almost-race.
12. After you’ve been completely wrecked on the climb, throttle it back to 4 or 5 mph and wait for the first couple of guys from the lead group to appear as they descend Mandeville. Quickly whip your bike around and follow them. You’ll reach the bottom more or less at the same time, and way before the other wankers who foolishly labored all the way to the top. They’ll have been too gassed on the climb to realize you were miles behind them, ergo “bragging rights.”
13. When you get home, post the following to Strava: “Fucking Garmin (or iPhone Strava app) quit working at the bottom of Mandy. Fucking had a course record today. Fuck.” Throw in a few extra “fucks” as needed.
Enjoy the ride!
November 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
When USADA announced that Florida masters racer Michael Diamond, 63, had been suspended for refusing a doping control, the reaction was uniform: “What an idiot!” “He was fifth out of nine in a 60+ TT…what a loser!” “Why would anyone dope for the chance to win a salami and a can of Velveeta? What a dork!” “It’s a stupid fricking bike race! How could he?” Etc., etc.
A few weeks earlier, Michael Miller of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, was slapped with an 8-month ban after he tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine at masters track nationals in Trexlertown. Stack that on top of Roger Hernandez, 45 (refusal to test), Josh Webster, 38 (meth/phen), Peter Cannell, 37, (‘roids), Alberto Blanco, 30 (test), and Andrew Tilin, 46, (non-analytical positive), and you have a nice little group of busted, past-their-prime dopers. This doesn’t include the 2011 crop containing Joe Papp, Juan Pablo Dotti, 27, David Clinger, Phil Zajicek, and Lisban Quintero, “normal” dopers who were either pro or young cheats.
If you listen to the South Bay and SoCal scuttlebutt, there are quite a few old farts out here mixing and matching poisons to produce results that range from first place to pack meat. What the fuck is going on?
Get this straight at least: it’s not crazy
As much as our community likes wrinkling its nose and scoffing at the creaky losers like Mike Diamond, even as we like ridiculing them for choosing drugs as a vehicle to cycling mediocrity, the thing that’s strange about these gray-haired cheats isn’t their crappy results. It may be shameful because they’ve been unmasked as cheats, but the aged wankers juiced on ‘roids so that they can win the state TT are doping from the exact same motivations as Floyd, Lance, Jan, Ivan, and all the other guys who’ve stood on the podium at the TdF.
“Yeah,” you say, “but those guys are pros and they actually stand to win something by cheating. The Florida state TT for 60-69 masters racers? Risk your health for an ill-fitting jersey that you’re still six minutes out of the money for? Gimme a fucking break.”
This kind of criticism implies, of course, that whereas Diamond’s futility in a lame field for a “who-cares” title is laughable, your endeavors in the 30+ masters, or the Cat 2 field, or with the regional semi-pro team (bikes at a discount, gas money, entry fees, and a couple of spare kits) are legit. This reminds me of sex when I was a teenager. Many’s the time I’d look at a woman in her late 30’s and think, “Goddamn, how could anyone that old have sex?”
Then, in my late 20’s, I’d look at a woman in her late 40’s or early 50’s and think, “Man, that’s just too old. They should retire.” Pretty soon, here came the late 40’s , and suddenly I was discovering a whole new world of beautiful and alluring women to look at–forty, fifty, and up seemed downright normal. Many of my peers have friends or relatives who’ve had to put elderly relatives into nursing homes only to learn that lots of people in their 80’s and 90’s are still screwing like there’s no tomorrow, perhaps because for many of them, there isn’t.
The point is graphic, but easily grasped: it’s easy to understand how young athletes dope for a chance to win an Olympic medal, and to kid yourself that older people don’t take it just as seriously. As you get older you realize that the desire to win burns just as brightly among many an oldster, and just because people age doesn’t mean they become honest or ethical. Don’t we see that daily with the U.S. Congress?
Get a life? YOU get a life.
The other faux explanation for masters doping is that these clueless clods don’t “have a life.” They are so wrapped up in the silly, unreal, insignificant world of USA Cycling events that they somehow lose their perspective on what’s important in life. Hence they plunge off into the dangerous, expensive, and bizarre world of doping.
Is masters cycling such a weird, distorted place? Of course it is. But would we be better off spending the weekends at NASCAR? Or buried on the couch from Saturday morning ’til Monday night watching football and swilling beer? Is golf a healthier or a cheaper obsession? X-Box? Porn, anybody?
For people who say that the obsessed masters racer should be spending time with his family, I say this: what if he’s been married so long that he doesn’t want to? What if the kids are grown, or if they’re at the age where they think dad’s a dork, or what if there are no kids? What if dad or mom is holding together a miserable, crumbled marriage as best they can, and the time away from the family is the only thing that keeps it together?
There are a lot of masters racers in California with successful careers, loving families, and accomplishments in their other avocations who simply love to race their bike. It’s their thing, they love it, and they do it because they want to compete and to win. I think it beats the hell out of most other pastimes for 40-something men, and is a lot cheaper even when you throw in the $10k bike. Priced a Ducati or a Harley lately?
And what if we’re not married or attached to anyone at all? What if, at age 45, we discovered a healthy, fun, social pastime that lets us travel, train, compete, and meet new people? What if we’ve found the bike, just in time, as a surrogate for a terrible alcohol or drug addiction? What if bike racing is the activity fending off other, deeper emotional problems? Is racing a bike such an obviously imbalanced, distorted thing? (Okay, of course it is.) Still, I don’t think you can really say that it is without knowing quite a lot about the person in question. Unlike some other adult leisure activities that come to mind, this one is pretty harmless.
Drugs are just another piece of the puzzle
Just like I don’t believe that people automatically lose their will to win when they realize they’ll never be UCI pros, and just like I don’t believe that people who are obsessed with amateur cycling are by definition imbalanced, I likewise refuse to believe that there’s anything abnormal or strange about doping to improve performance among masters racers.
If you’ve made it to age 21 you must have come to grips with the fact that it’s both normal and predictable for people to cheat, lie, and steal. That’s what lots and lots of people do. Not all people, and not all the time, but the possibility of cheating, lying, and stealing must be taken into account any time you deal with another human being. Cycling’s no different.
Masters racers who have invested huge amounts of time, money, and emotional energy into their avocation have every incentive to dope. There’s little if any risk of getting caught. There’s an endless online database in the form of websites, forums, and chat rooms where you can greatly minimize the dangers posed by using drugs. There are numerous doctors, particularly in L.A., who specialize in “anti-aging,” which is shorthand for drug dispensation to achieve any number of non-medical needs. Want to go faster longer? There’s a protocol for that. Want to go faster shorter? There’s a protocol for that, too. Just add the tail of newt, venom of scorpion, and web of spider. Want to raise your aerobic capacity? Can you spell E-P-O?
People in their forties are likely to have the time to train and the disposable income to afford the drugs. After putting together the top-end equipment, hiring a pro coach, logging the miles, and doing the races year in, year out, it’s natural to look for that extra edge whether you’ve been winning, almost winning, or pack foddering. Put another way, what’s left? In track disciplines where the margin of victory may only be a second or two, the right drugs incorporated into the right training plan can push you up onto the top step of the podium. At least, that’s the theory…63 year-old Mike Diamond didn’t do much to prove it, as his only USA Cycling results showed a desultory level of participation and awful results his entire career.
The bottom line is that doping is another logical and readily available weapon in the racing arsenal, just like aero wheels, ceramic bearings, slick shoe covers, aero helmets, and aero fabrics. Why not use it, especially when, without question, there are successful competitors in SoCal amateur races who are?
That darn “cheating” thing
Since the verdict is out regarding the long term health effects of a doctor-prescribed, carefully monitored, moderate doping protocol, the only real reason not to dope is your internal sense of right and wrong. If you grew up believing that cheating is wrong, you’ve got a pretty good firewall that will keep your hand out of the cookie jar. If you have a wife like mine, who combs through every receipt and credit card statement with a fine-toothed comb, and who would raise holy hell at a $2,500 monthly bill for drugs and doctor visits, your firewall is stronger still.
But even if you believe cheating is wrong, you may not believe that doping is cheating if you also think that most of your competition is doing it. I don’t know where I fall on that argument, but it’s moot because I really don’t think that most masters racers dope–so for me, doping is pretty clearly cheating. In any event doping requires you to lie, so that makes it even more repugnant.
Your band of improvement
Those pesky moral imperatives–don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t even dream about hiding money from your wife–make the issue pretty clear cut. Yet there’s another reason that masters doping doesn’t really add up…for me. Since I started using a power meter, I have learned, more or less, my physical limits. The best 20-minute power I’ve ever put out is 325w. It was on July 17, 2011. Almost all of my other best 20-minute wattages have been in the 300-310w range.
To take it a step further, my three best 1-hour outputs have been 280, 285, and 295 watts. I may be capable of more, but not much more. Given my age, my ability, and a host of other limiters, this is pretty much as good as I’ll ever be. Drugs may be able to significantly boost these parameters, but so what? Take away the dope and, with lots of saddle time, I’ll still be a 295w FTP kind of guy, give or take a few watts.
Everyone’s different, but for me, knowing that my band of improvement is only a handful of watts beyond 295 makes the allure of drugs nil. It’s a kind of self-awareness and self-satisfaction, that is…enough. If only the men and women trying to find something extra through cheating and drugs could understand that whatever capabilities they have in their undoped state, it’s enough. If only.
November 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
It was barely a year ago that Diego, at the tender age of 14, finished Day One of Team Ironfly’s MT III, the 500-mile epic slog from San Jose to Redondo Beach. We had just finished 70.3 miles and almost 8,000 feet of climbing when we rolled into Santa Cruz. Diego was a tad, shall we say, tired? He checked into his hotel room, collapsed on the bed in his salty, nasty, smelly kit, and went to sleep. For fifteen hours straight.
Somewhere between curling up in a fetal ball on the floor of a cheap motel room in 2010, and the slopes of the Switchbacks in 2011, Diego found an even stronger pair of legs. It was a Saturday in March or April, and there was still a group of about five left before the third turn on the Switchbacks. Diego, who was sitting on the front, launched. We all looked at each other, and since none of us was riding a motorcycle, he continued on, gradually disappearing from sight to take the KOM without, it seemed, breaking a sweat.
As Charlie Sheen would say…Winnnnnning!!
Diego got warmed up in 2011 by nailing second in the Valley of the Sun Stage Race, third in the UCLA Road Race on the gruesome Devil’s Punchbowl course, fourth in the Callville Bay Classic’s crit and fourth in the crit at the San Dimas Stage Race. With his legs sufficiently warmed, he launched into late March by winning the crit and road race at the Madera County Stage Race. In April he stood atop the podium again at the San Diego Cyclo-Vets crit.
For the vast majority of us, any one of those results would justify a season. For Diego? Just getting started.
At the Sea Otter Classic Road Race in a stacked field containing the top junior racers on the West Coast, our boy from Playa del Rey pulled off a win that can only be described as epic. With twenty miles to the line he hit the gas, gapped the field, and pulled away with one other rider. They worked together until 3k to go, when Diego decided that company at the finish line was not going to be on the menu that particular day. He accelerated, dropped his breakaway companion like a 200-lb. bag of Redi-Crete, and put more than two minutes into second place over the final 1.8 miles.
In April, Diego beat back all challengers with a decisive win at the LA Circuit Race to claim another win for 2011. In May he nailed third place at the Barrio Logan crit, and followed it with a win at the Ontario crit in June. When he got home, he noticed a small corner on his trophy shelf that didn’t have anything on it, so he made the trip to Bakersfield for the state championship road race, won that, and is now in the process of building a new shelf.
Ik bin wielrenner
As part of the 2011 USA Cycling 15/16 European Development Camp, Diego and five other Americans hit the Belgian cobbles in August. Their race schedule included four kermesses and a stage race. The four-day West Flanders Cycling Tour was over the top in difficulty, as Diego found himself thrown into an aggressive, fast, no-holds barred style of racing. Unlike American races, where many of the riders are pack fodder from the beginning, and they know it, in Belgium it seemed as if every single guy was going for the win.
In the Heestert Kermesse, with the rain pouring down on a cold afternoon, Diego launched from the field in the 63k kermesse with 3k to go and tore victory from the teeth of 97 other disappointed competitors. Being part of the team in the West Flanders stage race meant that Diego saw action supporting his teammate Geoffrey, who won the prologue to claim the yellow jersey.
After stage two, the leader’s jersey shifted onto the back of another member of the American squad. Diego went down in a crash and flatted, but exhibited the same toughness he’d shown on MT III by chasing his way back to the peloton and finishing with the leaders.
The third stage of the tour was even more brutal. Since the U.S. riders had the leader’s jersey from the first day on the Belgians’ home turf, no one amongst the enemy had anything to lose. The attacks were constant and relentless, as each of the twenty-five European teams worked together to stymie the hopes of the Americans. By the end of the third day of racing, the hometown Euros had the jersey.
In the end, though, Team USA fought back to reclaim the yellow jersey. On the final day, an attack with 10k to go brought American Logan Owen to the finish with enough of an advantage to win the overall. The teamwork earned a first-ever victory in this tough European stage race for a U.S. National Junior Team. Diego summed it up thus: “Racing in Belgium changed me forever.”
In other words…watch him light it up in 2012.
November 20, 2011 § 5 Comments
People ride for different reasons. I ride for the pleasure that I get from the pain.
I marvel at people who enjoy riding simply for the beauty and pleasure of turning the pedals on a sunny day. I envy those for whom cycling is a weapon among their arsenal of fitness tools. I’m awed by those who discovered the bike hard on the heels of an illness or a condition like alcoholism, obesity or diabetes, and have used cycling as a pathway to health.
Most of all I wish I were like the people who can look out the window on a cold, wet day with squalls and lower temperatures in the forecast and just say, “Fuck it. I’m going back to bed.”
The sting of the lash
By today’s standards, I was an abused child. By Texas standards in the 1960’s, I was a little miscreant who deserved every whipping I got, and probably a few hundred that I didn’t. By the Davidson family standards, which originated in frontier Tennessee, fought and somehow survived the Civil War, and ended up in West Texas ranching a corner of barren desert scrub, I got off easy.
No matter. As a child I lived through horrible beatings that I still can’t square with my reality, the reality of a parent who, after a handful of halfhearted spankings administered to my daughter when she was very young, never struck a child again. Something about the ferocity of my childhood whippings has been beaten so deeply into me that they are inextricably bound up in the sinew and muscle of my very being.
The big black beard, the flashing angry eyes, the powerful arms, the fury, the terror, the crazy attempts to escape, the submission, and the sting of the lash. Over and over, until the pain engulfed my frail body, until the sobs and screams were so deep and racking that they sucked even the primitive will to survive out of my dancing legs, just standing there limp and blind, absorbing the biting, angry, relentless sting of the lash.
That terrible pain, pain so sharp and awful, inflicted by the person I loved and admired and wanted to be like most, can for me only truly be exorcised a few moments at a time, on two wheels, during those fleeting seconds when everything is screaming stop, but the waves of hurt roll on, shutting out everything else.
Am I the only one?
The rain of pain falls mainly on your brain
For me, then, the wind and the rain and the cold aren’t deterrents. They are, rather, accelerators that get me quickly to the pleasure zone, where effort becomes work, and the work then becomes discomfort, and the discomfort morphs into either the extreme exhaustion of a long ride or the searing pain of a bad climb or a hellish rotation or a solo chase in no-man’s-land with no hope of ever latching back on.
This morning I hooked up with Iron Mike’s Wheatgrass Ride after fielding a torrent of texts and emails about the weather. Is it raining up on the Hill? It’s gonna worse, isn’t it? I don’t know if I should go, are you going? Etc.
Of course I’m going. Look at all that pain out there, waiting to be harvested. I have to.
We pulled out of Malaga Cove under threatening skies and a few drops of rain. The sunny riders had already drawn their line in the sand. “If it gets any worse, I’m going home.” Which it did, and which they did.
Soon we hit the turn at the bottom of the reservoir and began the climb up to Homes and Domes. The rain began to really fall, not stylish and well-dressed rain that’s too cool to come down hard, but like Texas rain. Thick, wet, hard, and cold. I shuddered from the pleasure as the wet drizzled down into my shoes and as the thick, greasy layer of embrocation pumped the heat down into the soles of my feet.
Here I was, again, riding with ten stalwart friends tucked on my wheel, their faces splattered with the dirty rain kicked up from my rear wheel. Were they having as much fun as I was? Why were they out here on a day like this? But even with them I was alone, falling into that old place, the place that started out as gentle ripples but promising something worse, something better, something infinitely more, piercing some black secret if only a second so that I could peer into the void and understand how. Understand why. Why?
Wiping away the hurt
There’s a 4.9-mile stretch on the Wheatgrass Ride that takes you from the bottom of the Switchbacks to the church on the right just before Hawthorne. It has a little of everything. It rolls, it has a couple of sharp, short kickers, it has a terribly deceptive gradual uphill, it has a gentle, long screaming downhill, it has a few twists, and on Strava it has a record set by my good friend Douggie on January 8, 2010.
I’ve been trying to break that record for months. I’ve assaulted it with ten other guys riding a paceline, with a handful of 3-4 engines, as a duo, and even solo. No matter what the configuration, the closest I’ve ever gotten is about a minute from his record of 9:57. When we dropped off the Switchbacks this morning I felt the howling tailwind that everyone had assured me was the key ingredient missing from all of our previous failed attempts.
I went. There were three riders in front of me: Fisherman, Clodhopper, and Frankendave. I passed them and kept up the heat through Portuguese Bend. The ripples turned into waves. At the glass church Fisherman and Clodhopper flashed by, then blew. I soldiered up the roller, never thinking I had a chance. And all the while I saw it coming, the white hot sting of the lash.
Over and over and over until there was no Strava, no Wheatgrass, no bike, just a snotslick strip of pavement and a tunnelled blur and the raging flush of the fury and the terror and the pain choking off everything except the silent scream within begging for it all to stop.
And bam. It stopped. And I had the new record by eleven seconds.
To the happy lovers exiting the Hawthorne Starbucks I was covered in snot and grit and grime and filth. But to me, I was cleansed from within. Again.
November 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
Wankmeister returned from a trip to Philly a couple of weeks ago, and apparently brought a pretty big chunk of the city back with him. A short weekend spent grazing through menus of cheese steak sandwiches, lasagna, pancakes with bacon and sausage, fresh bagels with cream cheese, spaghetti with meatballs, and repeated plates of double-chocolate cheesecake with whipped cream meant that, like spring, Wanky was busting out all over.
Fortunately, I have extensive experience with cycling nutrition, and am already back on track with the world famous Wankmeister Diet, guaranteed to trim your tummy, firm your thighs, shrink your lovehandles, tighten up the fat curtains on your back, reduce the chub rolls on your neck, and slim your manboobs at least to the point that your nipples don’t noticeably poke beneath your jersey.
But first, a little cycling nutrition lesson…
Weight loss, although confusing to many, is quite simple and is based on some basic laws of both energy and physiology. Once you understand them, you’ll be well on your way to looking like Michael Rasmussen, a/k/a The Chicken.
1. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only go to your stomach and hips.
2. If you ride 20-30 minutes daily, or just one 2.5 hour ride on Sunday, you can eat anything you want.
3. The liver is the organ responsible for the enzyme that processes alcohol. The more liver you eat, the more beer you can drink.
4. As soon as you say the word “diet” to yourself, you will go insane with hunger.
5. Pain is weakness leaving the body. Fat is happiness entering it.
6. The reason most diets fail is because of chocolate and donuts.
7. It takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound, but it takes ten weeks, countless hours on the treadmill, and more misery than you ever thought possible to lose it.
8. Fat people are happy.
9. Skinny people are unhappy.
10. Vegetable, fruit, and lean protein-based diets taste like shit.
The cornerstone of your cycling diet
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Danish butter cookie. Produced in Copenhagen by jolly, matronly cookie-makers, the Danish butter cookie begins life in a 400-gallon tub of melted butter. An equal amount of sugar, a pinch of flour and salt, and voila! The foundation of your diet is ready to go. Conveniently packaged in round tins of 40 cookies each, one tin contains a mere 1,700 calories, of which only 40% are from fat. Before you embark on your Wankmeister Diet, you should have enough butter cookie tins to last for at least ten weeks, calculating at least one tin per day.
“This is fucking crazy!” you say. “You can’t lose weight by eating butter cookies!”
To which I reply: “Try this diet for ten weeks. If you haven’t become Rasmussenesque by the end of that time I will take all of your extra butter cookies and eat them myself.”
The least important meal of the day
…is breakfast. Skip it. As soon as you skip breakfast, your metabolism will go through the roof, burning fat so quickly that your significant other will tell you to quit frying up bacon in bed. By 10:00 a.m. your fat stores will have been reduced to almost zero. However, fat is a crucial component in cellular repair and in making those cute Lululemon yoga pants pooch in just the right places, so by 10:30 you’ll need to be seated at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House and ready to replenish your depleted stores. I recommend the banana-walnut pancakes slathered with whipping cream, butter, fresh maple syrup, and bacon.
High-powered lobbyists for the vegetable and fruit industries have long promoted the myth that a varied diet consisting (naturally) of fruits, vegetables, and nuts is a key to effective weight loss. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recent studies in the U.K. have conclusively demonstrated that fast, long-term weight loss only occurs through “focal de-fattening.” In other words, it is only by focusing on one or two food groups that the body can be trained to eliminate unwanted fat.
This means that, in practice, you should choose from one of the following three food groups and consume exclusively that until you’ve reached your weight goal.
1. Fatburners from the “carbolic oxidizer” group: bread, bagels, pasta, chips, pork skins.
2. Fatburners from the “ribonucleic centralizer” group: donuts, chocolate, ice cream, Danish butter cookies, butter, heavy whipping cream.
3. Fatburners from the “pharmakinetic simplex” group: peanut butter, fresh lard, sausage, beer.
The importance of realistic expectations
An effective, well-maintained Wankmeister Diet should remove fat from problem areas at a rate of about 2-3 pounds every five days. Once you’ve reached your goal, you can expand your diet to include foods from the other two fatburner groups. If you find you’re only losing 1-2 pounds every five days, don’t give up! Hang in there through the tough days and you’ll come out on top. Please email me photos of your results and I’ll post them here.
November 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
New Girl rolls up beside me on the Wheatgrass Ride. “Can I ask you something?” She’s fallen headfirst into the Kool-Aid vat lately, and when she’s not racking up new QOM’s on Strava she’s hanging at all the apres-ride coffee klatsches.
“So I’ve got a wheel on the Parkway, and it’s leading up to the sprint, and some guy grabs my arm and pushes me off the wheel. What am I supposed to do? I almost crashed. It really scared me.”
“Well, New Girl, that’s a very good question. Since you’re new to the group and people aren’t so familiar with you yet, you need to approach this kind of thing delicately. With a lot of diplomacy and humility. Who was it?”
“I’m not sure. Some guy I’ve never seen before. I was trying to stay upright.”
“Well, the next time it happens, make a note of who it was, and then ride up to him after the sprint and introduce yourself. Meekness is key. ‘I’m New Girl, and I’m new at riding, and this group ride is new for me, and I kind of want to apologize for bothering you…’ That kind of thing.”
She listened intently, but plainly didn’t like all the subservience. “Then, when you’ve got his attention, you want to politely–and I can’t stress how important this is–point out that he bumped you hard while you were on a wheel and that it frightened you, and was perhaps a bit unsafe.”
“Yeah. Then say to him in your sweetest voice, ‘Listen, you cocksucker, if you ever fucking touch me again I’m going to rip your tiny little balls off by the roots and stuff them down your fucking throat.’ Then elbow him in the ribs, or head-butt him, or chop the shit out of his wheel to show him you mean business. If he crashes out and splits his skull on the pavement, spit into the bleeding cranium for emphasis.”
New Girl’s eyes got kind of wide, because she saw I meant it. “I can’t do any of that stuff.”
“Fine. Come tell me, or Iron Mike, or Davy Dawg, or Fireman, or Junkyard, or any of your buddies. We’ll not only tell the jackanape, we’ll bust his fucking chops.”
No one cares about your minuscule muscle
Women who ride in the pack, especially on the Donut or Pier Ride, have it doubly tough. First they have to do the actual ride. On fast days, it can be a challenge just to hang on no matter who you are, let alone stay among the first five or ten wheels where it’s safest. Even slow days have several “points of interest” where there’s an attack, or a sprint, or an extended hard surge.
And let’s not bullshit each other. It’s physically hard to compete with the fastest people on these rides.
Nor should we bullshit ourselves about something else: the women who show up and hang are a thousand times tougher than 99% of the guys. The women who are in the mix at the end are tougher than all the guys combined. Moreover, many of the South Bay local biker chicks are marathoners, ex-pros, full time professional trainers, former Olympians, and general badass athletes who are already better than a huge chunk of the guys.
In addition to competing with the men, though, the women who do the group rides in the South Bay have to contend with something much harder than the physical demands of the ride, which are strenuous enough. They have to contend with the dreaded T.P.S., otherwise known in the medical literature as Tiny Pecker Syndrome.
I can lose to anyone except a woman
Every woman has experienced it. She’s pounding along, minding her own business, moving up in the pack or passing people on the climb, when she moves ahead of Lucious Lardbottom, he of the exquisitely tiny pecker complex. He’s flailing, he’s at the end of his rope, and in his case the fat lady not only sang but has gone home and taken a leisurely hot bath. He’s flat fucking done.
But lo! The minute that fit biker chick comes cruising by, he gets a new lease on life, inspired as if by God himself. Why? BECAUSE NO CHICK IS GONNA PASS HIM ON HIS BIKE!!!
He jerks up on the pedals, swerves dangerously, and mashes down with a ferocity that surprises the chick, who was minding her own business and just riding her stupid bike. Lardbottom glares, he pants, he lunges, he beats his meaty ass up and down on the saddle as if engaged in a new yoga butt-tenderizing posture. Spittle comes out in a thick spray, and his breathing evokes the death shudder of a beached ocean mammal. The chick is taken aback, but keeps coming, and he becomes a hazard to himself, to her, and to everyone else on the road. The future of the universe depends on not getting passed by the chick, and he’ll do anything to prevent the inevitable.
He’ll bump her. He’ll swerve across her wheel. He’ll reach out and push her off the wheel if she’s lining up for the sprint. And he’ll do this and a thousand other chickenshit maneuvers when, if the passer was a man, he would simply continue his implosion and nod as he mutely acknowledged the superiority of the other guy.
Eventually, though, Lardbottom blows again and fades away. If it’s this pronounced on the training rides, the women who race with the men at Eldo or in the CBR crits have it even worse. The many men afflicted with TPS are galled that a woman would dare show up and try to beat them on race day, despite the fact that they do exactly that.
Try to show a little respect
Women who do the group rides don’t deserve to be cut any slack, or to be given a helping hand, or to be coddled like lumps of sugar when the hammer comes down. That’s not what they’re in it for. But they do deserve the same respect and fair treatment accorded to the guy whose jock you’re so desperately trying to sniff. If you find yourself locked in mortal combat trying to beat one of the women on the ride, kudos to them for stretching your neck, and props to you if you’re riding safe and fair.
A couple of months ago I had my ass handed to me on a plate by a well known ex-pro on the Pier Ride. She had my wheel and I tried to ride her off it, not because she’s a woman, but because I was intent on winning the sprint against all comers, her included. Her bike handling skills are about a thousand times better than mine, she’s ten times tougher and a whole lot savvier. When I blew, she sailed by as if I were standing still. It never would have occurred to me to change my line, or bump her as she passed, or do anything other than recognize that I’d been whipped by my betters.
And while I don’t like getting the snot beaten out of me, I’d never think about begrudging the person who did it fair and square through superior riding, whether a guy or a chick or a 15 year-old kid, which is a good thing because I’ve been stomped by them all.
November 16, 2011 § 4 Comments
It was a pretty good year for KP. Elite track nationals? Fifth place, team pursuit. Master’s track nationals? Stars and stripes jersey in the team pursuit. Silver medal in the individual pursuit. Bronze in the points race and scratch race. State champion in the individual and team pursuits. In addition to his state and national titles, KP had some excellent results on the road as well. And he achieved all of this before he discovered the Tug-Toner, so he should really blow doors in 2012.
But who really cares about that national champion stuff?
I don’t. Because the most important result for KP in 2011 was first floated as a mere idea on Wednesday, June 8, when I received a phone call. “Hey, dude. Wanna do the state team time trial?”
“I dunno. When is it?”
“Saturday. It’ll be fuckin rad, dude.”
“Saturday? That’s three days away.”
“Yeah. You ever done one?”
“Got an aero rig?”
“Got some aero wheels at least?”
“Just my 404’s. But I wouldn’t use them because my PowerTap’s on my training wheels.”
“Yeah. Fuck, dude. Ever use TT bars?”
“No. Look, I don’t think I’m your guy. Who else is on the team?” I figured if he was calling me, he had three people and was scraping the bottom of the barrel.
“Canyon Bob and Hockey Stick. You’re the last choice, dude.”
“I didn’t know Bob had a TT bike.”
“He doesn’t just his old road bike he’s kind of converted over.”
“But his current road bike is, like 15 years old. He’s going to be using something older than that?”
“Yeah. We’ll look like a bunch of dorks.”
“And I thought Hockey Stick was, like, a 2k pursuiter. Since when did he start doing 40k road time trials?”
“Fuck, dude, he just wants a medal. We only have to finish with three dudes. He’ll flail for the first three or four miles and get shelled.”
“What about me? I’ll flail for the first mile and get shelled.”
“Fuck dude, you’ll do fine. You’re a hammer. You know Canyon Bob goes good. He likes pain. Long as you don’t fucking crash us out on the TT bars.”
“I don’t have any TT bars, I told you.”
“No prob, dude. You can use Mel’s. I got a couple of extenders we can screw on before the start. Just don’t fuckin crash us out.”
“Are we going to practice?”
“Bob’s got a job, dude. Hockey Stick would practice but he’s fucking hittin the beer by 2 p.m. and you have to work. I’m swamped anyway. You’ll do fine. Don’t fuckin worry. We’ll get there early so you can practice.”
“Why’s Hockey Stick so sure we’ll get a medal?”
“Fuck dude, there’s only gonna be two teams show up. Only team registered now is Big Orange.”
“Big Orange? You’re joking. Don’t tell me G$ is doing it.”
“Him and Hottie and Weninger and Rob Mesecher. Don’t fuckin worry, dude.”
“Worry? They’ll crush us.”
“So you’re in?”
“No, I’m not in. I’m not paying an entry fee to race against those guys. That’s crazy.”
“Ironfly’s paying the entry fee, dude. Hockey Stick’s got the van and a bitchin four-bike rack. Swing by my place at 5 on Saturday. I’m gonna fuckin send you a TTT how-to email. It’ll be rad.” Click.
How to do a TTT in 73 easy steps
Sure enough, that evening I had a how-to TTT email waiting for me when I got home from work. And I somewhat quote:
“Don’t worry about being a dork, you’re pretty much a dork anyway but you can still get a medal because there are only two teams. Even you guys can’t fuck this up. So here’s how you do it, don’t worry, you’ll be fine, maybe.
“Your pull is NOT over when you pull off, your pull is over when you are back on a wheel at the back of the train. How many times have you taken your pull and thought you were fucking Eddy Merckx because you pulled off without puking, then somehow by the time you got to the back of the paceline you are blown and out of the saddle sprinting like a dork to get on a wheel only to get dropped like a fuckin wanker? Keep this in mind tomorrow and don’t be a fucking dork and drop yourself. Your pull’s not over until you’re back on the train.
“We are going to ride in the following formation: Me< Canyon Bob < Hockey Stick < Wankmeister. I will lead us out and get us up to speed, fast but not too intense and then Canyon Bob will carry on, etc. If we come out of the chute too hot we’ll blow and you can’t recover, it’s a matter of pacing. So don’t be a fucking dork and act like you’re sprinting for the chance to spend a night with a hooker and a baggie full of coke, just keep it under your threshold whatever you do.
“This will allow Bob to follow me, because he’s a smooth wheel, and allow me to follow Wankmeister so I can yell at him as necessary because he will probably be hammering like an idiot and drop us and then drop himself unless he’s wobbling like a madfuck because he’s never ridden TT bars so just pray he doesn’t crash us out. Hockey Stick will get to ride behind Bob, the most steady guy, so he can save the most energy so as not to get dropped, which is fucking hopeless because he’s going to get fucking shelled no matter what but at least hang on for five miles and give us a little break.
“Everyone should use his Garmin, just tape the damn thing on your aero bar with packing tape if you need to, I will have tape with me. Don’t worry about your rig looking stupid, you’ll all look like dorks no matter what. I will set the speed of our effort, you guys will simply maintain the speed. If I have us doing 28.5 mph, then you should pull through at the same speed. Remember, the key is to get quickly up to speed without overdoing it.
“If we are going too quick/slow I will yell at you to quit being an idiot and to pick it up or slow it down. This means adjust the speed by ½ mph, do NOT sit up and jam on your brakes, just roll back the effort 5-10 watts. Going fast in a TTT is all about efficiency and spending our resources wisely, if we do this correctly we can actually not be totally embarrassed, maybe.
“Going from 29 to 30mph takes a lot more power than going from 28 to 29mph, drag is not linear. Any time spent going over the average speed of a section is wasted energy, we need to ride as steady as we can and make adjustments slowly. We are going to time our pulls using crank revolutions, so count your right leg doing a full revolution as one tick. We are each going to start off doing pulls of the following length: Me, 30; Bob, 25; Hockey Stick, 10; Wankmeister, 30. Don’t be a dork and suddenly forget how to count it’s the same fucking shit you learned in kindergarten, except Hockey Stick, who probably didn’t learn it til fifth grade.
“I want Bob to have a bit left for the final push, his physiology is pretty adapted to an end effort. Wanky and I can both go full gas from the start and suck it up at the end when Bob comes around. Hockey Stick, don’t be a flailing flogfuck, you need to make the distance, at least five miles, ten would be optimum.
“I will continually ask how you’re doing when I am falling back, just give me a quick ‘Okay’ or ‘Hurting’ or ‘I am fucked’ or whatever. I won’t fucking pay attention unless you say you’re okay, this is going to hurt, it’s a fucking time trial. Remember: WE HAVE TO FINISH WITH 3 GUYS. If we are down to three guys we can’t torch anyone. The first five minutes we will feel as if we are going too slow, this is normal. Just chill and roll into the effort, we are going to be riding for ~50 minutes. The big time losses will come in the final six-mile stretch, we need to be able to ride that part fast, like our dicks are caught in a fucking vice and somebody’s fucking beating it with a hammer.
“Exactly halfway through we have a short hill, so go big ring and aero, but it is a 25-second incline that breaks the rhythm a bit. Let’s try and keep it together if possible. Hockey Stick, I want you to take shorter pulls for the two miles before the hill, we need to be able to get you and your big fucking beer belly over the climb without losing pace, no one needs to be a hero. Pay attention to where I put us on the road and the the side I pull off on, we will adjust this on different parts of the course depending on the wind, which is going to be howling worse than a fucking Gozilla shitstorm, headwind or crosswind for 3/4 of the course.
“If you are pulling through one of the four turns on the course be aware you have three other idiots behind you, don’t attack out of it or go through it so fast someone gets gapped off and is chasing. If one person goes in the red too early they will not recover, you will be hopelessly fucked and quit. We will all be riding near the edge for the entire time, and Hockey Stick you’ll be going faster than you’ve ever gone on something two-wheeled that doesn’t have a fucking motor.
“Shorter pulls will keep our speed up, long thrashing pulls slow us down. If you are all feeling good after the first five miles then we can pick up the pace but keep short pulls. We need to average over 28mph for the race, that will put us on schedule to do 50 minutes flat, that is our goal. Remember: three guys finish, short pulls, don’t go out too hard, and don’t be a fucking dork.”
5 a.m. was not really all that rad
Canyon Bob and I got to KP’s house at 5:00 a.m. and lightly rapped on the door. Nothing. Then we knocked a bit louder. Nada. Finally we started pounding. Eventually the door opened. KP stood there in his underwear, blinking as if he’d just been rousted from R.E.M., which he had.
“Fuck, dude. I slept through the alarm. Be ready in a minute.”
Shortly he reappeared and we loaded the bikes into his van. Hockey Stick lives in Manhattan Beach, and when we got there the light in his garage was on and he was sipping on a cup of coffee. We transferred the bikes from the van to the rack, climbed in, and headed out. Hockey Stick drives crazy fast, which I guess is fine if you’re steering a high performance sports car, but a Honda van stuffed with people, gear, and dangling four bikes on the back end makes for a pretty frightful ride.
The benefit was that we got to glorious Lake Los Angeles so early that we’d have plenty of time to register, set up our bikes, and warm up. Having the extra time, we stopped in for a snack and a dump at the McDonald’s. Both took longer than planned. For some reason we all decided to stand in the registration line together, further chewing up time, although one person could have registered us all.
It turned out that there were five teams total, and with the exception of ours, they were all on badass TT rigs, team kits, aero helmets, and had obviously practiced together. Hockey Stick had a $15,000 Specialized Widowmaker TT ride with a rear disc, three spoke HED in front, internal cables, electronic shifting, custom molded aero helmet, wind-slick skinsuit with shoe covers, and a fully integrated internal power meter.
Canyon Bob’s rig was an antique Trek 5500, state of the art from 1992 but state of collapse in 2011, tricked out with TT bars. “Here, dude,” said KP, flipping me a pair of tiny, 225mm bar extensions. “These’ll fuckin make you aero.”
It took me a while to get them on. By the time they were secured, and I had my kit on, we only had fifteen minutes to our start time. “Fuck, dude, better try those fuckin things out before we start so you don’t fuckin crash us out.”
I hopped aboard, got going, and immediately ran into several mission critical issues. The first was steering. The extenders totally changed the weight and handling of the front end of the bike. The second problem was steering. Stretched out on the bars I could no longer make quick corrections to my line. The third problem, even bigger than the first two, was steering. The bars were tiny, and obviously made for someone who didn’t have 36″ inch inseams on his forearms. The midget bar ends stopped halfway down my forearm, leaving the rest of the bone and my hands to flop freely off the ends of the bars. The fourth, and biggest problem, was steering. No brakes or shift levers meant that the whole bike wobbled when my unpracticed hands moved back to the hoods.
After 100 yards of practice, I turned around, nearly crashing out into the ditch. The wind was howling. “We’re gonna fuckin miss our start!” KP shouted. “Let’s go!”
Hockey Stick hadn’t even gotten his helmet on. None of us had ridden more than 100 yards. We were the second team to go off, with Big Orange behind us. They were warmed up, fierce looking, color-coordinated, and licking their chops. The studly team in front of us roared away.
Suddenly, total panic kicked in. Through the pounding of my heart and sensation of icy cold legs I heard the ref counting down “3-2-1″ followed by the clicking and clacking of shoes into pedals and the blur of KP blasting down the road, Bob and Hockey Stick in tow.
Getting up to speed gradually, kind of like the space shuttle
Within seconds I was in full sprint mode trying to catch on to Hockey Stick. By the time I caught up we were going absolutely full fucking bore at 33mph. I hit the front, pulled for a few seconds, swung off and barely latched back on. Before I’d had time to grab my breath I was at the head again, unable to stay there for more than about five pedal revolutions. It was more pain, and more intense pain, than I’d thought possible. And we were only a minute into it.
KP had come off the line so fast that we were all completely blown less than a mile in. When I rotated back to latch on after my third pull there was nothing where Hockey Stick was supposed to be except air. He’d been blasted out the back and was a receding speck in the distance. KP and Bob were taking huge pulls, with me simply rotating through, gasping, and lunging to catch on the back. This, unfortunately, was the “easy” tailwind section.
We hit the crosswind and I was almost blown off the road. Unable to control the bike, but buffeted like a spinnaker whenever I tried to ride on the drops, all I could feel was the kind of numbing, stupid pain mixed with sharp spikes of stinging agony that comes from dental surgery, childbirth, or arguments with a bank’s customer service rep. Each time KP rotated back he’d say, “You okay?” and I’d try to nod through the snot and spit, and they would just keep battering away.
51:03 later we finished. I could barely dismount. Hockey Stick had driven the van to the finish, was nattily attired in his apres-TTT outfit and sipping on an energy drink. Incredibly, we had almost caught the team in front of us, and had avoided, if only barely, being devoured whole by Big Orange, who won the race. “We got a silver medal!” Hockey Stick chirped. All I could do was groan as my legs cramped and I lay in the back of the van. The final ten miles my legs had kind of come around, and the final three miles I’d wielded the whip and thrashed it like a madman.
“Fuckin rad, dude,” said KP as we headed home. “Not bad for a bunch of dorks, huh? You know those other guys on the tricked out rigs felt pretty stupid, huh, getting beat by a bunch of dorks like you. I sure would. Good job!”
So I can attest to it, as I was there–stellar performance in the TTT by KP, a hero among men…or at least among dorks. Best of all, I learned something important about doing a team time trail properly: Whatever you do, don’t start out hot.