Don’t forget the Trojans

September 23, 2012 § 5 Comments

“Are you doing the Ride to the Rock tomorrow?” the email from Hockeystick asked.

“No. I’m riding with Bull and Major Bob up to Pasadena to watch the UCLA game.”

“You should send out an email to everyone telling them the Ride to the Rock starts at 6:00 AM instead of 7:00.”

“I’m not going on the ride and in any event I’m not the organizer, promoter, or sponsor. If you want to coordinate, why don’t you send out an email?”

A few hours later, in popped the email. “Ride to the Rock, leaving at 6:00 AM. Everyone welcome. Signed, Hockeystick.” It went out to a bunch of people.

Will you go to the prom with me? You will? Awesome! (One day later: How are you getting to the prom? And who’s going to buy your dinner?)

Later that evening Bull emailed to say that Hockeystick would be joining us on our sojourn to Pasadena.

“But he’s doing the Ride to the Rock tomorrow, and emailed a bunch of people about it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Several people blew off their regular ride to join him.”

“Oh. Well, surely, he wouldn’t just blow everyone off like that.”

“You don’t know Hockeystick.”

Glorious ride statistics and factoids

Distance: 90 miles

Climbing: 6,800 feet

Elapsed time: Seemed like forever

Food consumed: Half a bagel with jam, three cups of coffee, 3/4 of a Clif bar

Route: We rode from the South Bay to Santa Monica to the West Side, climbed through Bel-Air, took Mulholland to Laurel Canyon, crossed the Valley, then climbed back up Big Tujunga, Angeles Crest Highway, and dropped down into Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. This was an extraordinary route and got us way out of our comfort zone, except for Hockeystick, who was not just out of his comfort zone but pretty much in the urn for cremains from the minute we hit Bel-Air ’til the end.

Recommendations: Big Tujunga + Angeles Crest is long, hard, brutal, hot, and a favorite for crazies like the 300-lb. dude on the cafe racer whose passing fat draft almost bowled us over. Rednecks in pickups are de rigueur, as are rusted out turdboxes crammed with tweakers speeding to Palmdale for another meth run.

Best in-town discovery: Roscomare from the bottom and over Bel-Air is beautiful and a stiff climb. Hockeystick emptied most of the contents of his suitcase of courage on the first 1/3 mile, meaning that he had to do the rest of the climb using the contents of his moneybelt of adipose, which was painful to do and almost as painful to behold.

Bring your Trojans: Hockeystick was decked out for the UCLA-OSU game in a USC kit with the word “Trojans” in big, bold letters, which almost got him a date. Not at the game, but at the top of the Angeles Crest climb. Bull, Major Bob, and I had stopped at the forest service fire station to wait, and after three or four hours Hockeystick appeared, looking like Matt Barkley after playing Stanford. The half-naked fireman at the firehouse was playing loud, gay workout music as he flexed and preened with his barbells and calisthenics. Hockeystick made the mistake of wandering down by the water faucet and pulling out his own watering device to relieve himself. The combination of Hockeystick’s exposed stub and the word “Trojans” may have suggested to the sweaty, lathered up fireman that Hockeystick was inviting him to play a game of “hide the sausage in the tunnel,” and it was only by quickly suiting back up and dashing away at top speed that we were able to avoid having Hockeystick dragged off into the mancave and turned into a prison bitch.

Worst sound of the day: Bull, towards the top of Angeles Crest, moaning and groaning and whimpering the last two miles of the climb. “Unnnnnh!” and “Munnnnhrg!” and “Wennnnnghhunnh” are new words for me. Thank you, Bull.

Strangest comment: Bull, as we climbed Big Tujunga, turned back and said, “Aren’t these desert colors beautiful?” Although I was focused mainly on his rear wheel, I later looked around. The colors were brown, tan, gray, off-brown, and charred black from the forest fire. Uh, no, they’re really fucking ugly. But that’s just me.

Best view: Descent from La Canada-Flintridge into Pasadena via Chevy Chase and Figueroa. This is spectacular, and Bull took us on a secret back route to the Rose Bowl.

Weirdest police behavior: Cops at the Rose Bowl refused to let us bike through the parking area until Bull told them the exact location of his car. Like, what were we going to do? Steal a parking space with our bikes?

Heavenly angel of the day: Mrs. Hockeystick, who had sent a care package of fresh, iced and sliced watermelon. Watermelon on a hot day is the best. Cold, sliced watermelon after a brutal slog through the nasty heat is a foodgasm.

Narrowly avoided beating of the day: Hockeystick’s USC/Trojans bike outfit didn’t wear too well in the UCLA fan parking area. Thankfully, he’d packed a change of clothes that featured UCLA’s famous pansy blue with gold sparkles. I never saw someone change out of a bike kit so quickly.

Fashion fail of the day: My pants no longer fit and I’d forgotten to pack a belt. Saggy jeans falling down around my ass made for comic relief in some, nausea in others. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been wearing my yellow and green Sponge Bob underpants.

Dietary mistake of the day: 2-foot long brat heaped with sauerkraut, jalapenos, ketchup, mustard, salsa verde, and chili, followed by cramming myself into a tiny seat under the Rose Bowl’s 106-degree heat blanket.

Funniest putdown of the day: Hey, Wankster, I know you’re from Texas and everything, but is the heat bothering you? [It wasn’t actually, unless you consider heatstroke “bother.”]

Smartest move of the day: Abandoning Hockeystick, Bull, and Major Bob after the first quarter, returning to the park, and falling asleep on the grass under the shade of an oak tree. For three hours.

Moral of today’s ride: Get out of your routine and explore somewhere new. And don’t forget to bring the Trojan(s).

148: Don’t try this at home

September 21, 2012 § 36 Comments

I got home yesterday, showered, and stood on the scales. 148.

So I re-stood. 148.

Then I re-stood again. 148.

There seems to be a 5-lb. variation band throughout the day. Yesterday morning it was 151; after dinner it went up to 153. Sometimes it seems like a marching band. But even if it was just for the hour and a half before dinner, I finally hit the 140’s.

That’s really fucked up

I’m 6’1″. This gave me a BMI of 19.5, squarely in the last column on the chart before you drop off from “skinny as shit” and onto “UN Famine Relief Program.”

Why do it?

The subtitle above should suggest part of the reason. People who obsess over their weight until it drops into this category are all fucked up, except for me, of course. I’m normal.

What began as a simple desire to shave off a swelling midriff degenerated into a mind-over-matter diet that has shorn about twenty pounds from my frame. I can’t tell you if it’s been worth it, but I can tell you what it’s like.

Switching to survival

If I wanted to weigh less, I would eat less. Pretty simple, right?

It’s not that simple. The minute I told myself that it was time to cut back, my entire body revolted…on a cellular level. I went from living an ordinary life where each day was an ebb and flow of eating whatever I wanted, to a bizarre life where the only thing I could think about was food.

Your body is programmed to survive, and even thinking about denying it sustenance triggers overwhelming hunger. The bad news? It never, ever went away. The worse news? The hunger got worse the more I lost. That’s all as it should be; the word “diet” spells “die” with the first three letters for a reason.

This whole process took less than six weeks. It has been an ordeal beyond any description, which is why it’s so awesome. Normally to create this type of epic adventure it takes rain, cold, wind, bad roads, and 120+ miles with lots of climbing. The key components of this home-based radical, unhealthy, bizarre, and masochistic weight loss were as follows: Hunger suppression, mental distraction, and portion reduction.

Hunger suppression

No mind is strong enough to override the body’s command to eat. Hunger is the strongest sensation there is. If we were to compare its power with the other huge human drive, hunger is to sex what truth is to FOX News. So I had to suppress the hunger. The best way to do this would have been chain smoking cigarettes along with some mixture of meth, crack, amphetamines, or narcotics. Since none of these seemed compatible with the Donut Ride or NPR (for long, anyway), I went with the weakest, yet cheapest and most easily obtained suppressant: Caffeine.

Continual caffeine in the form of coffee or tea was a must. There was no other way to suppress the screaming, raging, overwhelming, mind-altering hunger that shrieked at me without rest from the instant I chose to diet, even before I’d turned away the first jelly-filled donut.

I now know that any diet promising to alleviate hunger, unless it includes a serious chemical hunger suppressant, is a lie. I went from three small cups of coffee a day to seven or eight large cups of the blackest, nastiest, bitterest brew I could make, with strong green tea in between.

Mental distraction

Caffeine was not enough, though. Even though the sharpest, most awful edge of the hunger razor was slightly blunted by copious quantities of coffee and tea, hunger was far too powerful to be put off with a few cups of hot water strained through burnt beans.

Since in my daily life there was food everywhere, the only way I could keep from caving to biology was to busy myself  with a physical activity that would take my mind off the awful hunger. This was a radically different concept from using exercise to lose weight. Rather, was the recognition that unless my hands were employed in some physical activity, they were going to grab the edges of the nearest cheeseburger and shove it down my throat.

Cycling helped to a degree, but there was a limit to how much I could ride my bike, particularly when the lack of food had me moving around on my hands and knees. This was where the gym helped. I got tiny workout benefits, and toned up some of the looser parts of my anatomy, but for the most part the gym was a place where I could do something besides eat and besides thinking about eating.

I began going to the gym almost every day, even after pedaling home from work, as the hour or so between arrival and dinner was a deadly time period for massive eating. By staying occupied at the gym, even if it meant doing curls with 5-lb. pink dumbbells, I was distracted from food. Without this type of distraction, hunger would have won out and forced me to be healthy and normal. Only by artificially distracting myself was I able to stay committed to this path of physical and mental collapse.

Portion reduction

If I thought that hunger suppression was hard, and if I thought that dragging butt off to the gym when I was so hungry I could barely stand was hard, the truly hard part was harder still: Portion reduction. You’ll notice I’ve not included exercise anywhere in this regimen, even though I happen to cycle. It’s because I didn’t think I could really grind myself into a stick-like wraith of skin and veins with exercise. The key, and by far the most challenging and miserable and awful and dreadful and essentially impossible part of this process, was portion reduction.

Portion reduction was the hardest part for several reasons. First, most people don’t control what gets doled out on their plate because they either eat out, or someone prepares their food for them, or they eat prepared meals that already have the portion parceled out.

Second, even if you do control what goes on your plate, you’re almost certainly surrounded by other people who are hell-bent on relishing the only happy thing left in life after age 40, i.e. eating. These normal people (or enablers) will pile their plate high while you’ve allotted just the right amount, and before long you’ll be eating off their plate, or they’ll be sharing. Happens every time.

Third, you probably drink. Booze is caloric, but more importantly, it forces you to let down your diet guard. Boom! The buzz hits and you’re inhaling like a vacuum cleaner.

You can forget exercising off the fat

It won’t work. There aren’t enough hours in the day to burn off a bagful of burgers. I’ve ridden less and exercised less throughout this entire nasty ordeal and it’s worked. Just think about the times that you go out and do a century, then top it off with a huge lunch and beer. Fact is, you didn’t burn that much in six hours, and a casual glance at any pack of century riders will confirm that whatever they’re doing, “riding it off” isn’t it.

A manorexic retrospective

So, has it all been worth it? Nope. No way. Life has become a jaw-grinding time trial until the next meal.

Observations:

  1. I’ve become picky about what I eat. Very little junk except for coffee. Haagen-Dasz isn’t junk food, right?
  2. My recovery on the bike has vastly improved.
  3. I climb better. Today on VdM I chased down some dude in his 60’s with hairy legs, panniers, and a triple, then dropped him.
  4. Suits, slacks, and dress shirts are no longer unpleasantly choking my parts.
  5. Every single bite of sustenance is a foodgasm.
  6. I’m on hyper alert virtually all the time, except when I’m fainting from hunger, which is any time I sit down.
  7. People who are overweight aren’t there because they lack willpower. They’re fighting biology in a life-death struggle, and biology has all the weapons.
  8. People consume far more than they need, unabashedly.
  9. Gym people are just as weird as bike people, and not nearly as much fun. No one at the gym wants to be tiny.
  10. Saying that you’re going to lose weight is a throwdown, like saying you’re going to take the sprint. Everyone’s secretly rooting for you to lose, you big mouth.
  11. Advice sausages of both genders love to tell you to eat more. Funny how they never told me to eat less.
  12. ¬†Extreme, rapid weight loss can’t be good for you. Can it?
  13. This kind of obsessiveness is a short jump to anorexia and death, so travel the path with care.
  14. Constant hunger is mentally debilitating, even though it paradoxically makes you more alert.
  15. I can ride longer, farther, and faster on less food than I could before.
  16. Skinnier isn’t happier. Corollary: Neither is fatter.
  17. Everyone thinks I’m crazy(er).
  18. Your body quickly adapts to malnutrition.
  19. I don’t need a huge breakfast, lunch, or dinner in order to ride a hundred miles, but all of the above make it much more fun.
  20. Losing weight takes a few weeks. Keeping it off takes a lifetime.
  21. The morning log quickly becomes a twig.

I’d write more, but it’s time for some (more) strong coffee. It is, after all, another sixteen hours ’til lunch.

Please, insult my religion

September 20, 2012 § 26 Comments

There’s been a lot of fuss about criticizing religions lately, so I thought I’d offer up mine. Go ahead and laugh or call it stupid or whatever. It won’t bother me at all.

1: In the beginning Dog created the bike and the road.

2: And the road was without stoplights, and traffic; and darkness was upon the faces of the murderous drivers on their way to church. And the Spirit of Dog moved upon the pedals.

3: And Dog said, Let there be lycra: and there was lycra.

4: And Dog saw the lycra, that it was good and tight: and Dog divided the lycra from the darkness.

5: And Dog called the lycra Kit, and the baggy pants he called Fred. And the jogging shorts and the saggy athletic socks were the first object of his derision.

6: And Dog said, Let there be thighs in the midst of the lycra, and let them divide the wankers from the peloton.

7: And Dog made the peloton, and divided the wankers which were hanging on for dear life from the peloton: and it was called Off the Back.

8: And Dog called off the back Purgatory. And the group ride was on the second day.

9: And Dog said, Let the cyclists be gathered together unto one place of abundant coffee and jelly donuts, and let hammers appear: and it was so.

10: And Dog called the hammers Leaders of the Pack; and the gathering together of the wankers called he Category 5: and Dog saw that it was good as long as they didn’t go too far forward and gap everyone out.

11: And Dog said, Let the group ride bring forth pain, the pain yielding misery, and the misery yielding defeat, whose seed is pain itself, so that it may beginneth all over again: and it was so.

12: And the group ride brought forth pain, and pain yielding misery, and the misery yielding defeat especially when the road tilteth up, whose seed was in itself pain, after his kind: and Dog foresaw a vast market for nutritional supplements.

13: And the USCF races were the third day.

14: And Dog said, Let there be wankers in the peloton so deluded as to think they have a chance of victory, and let them and their entry fees be for the beer money and rent of Charon and Meeker and Rudy:

15: And let them be purchasers of aero wheelsets and bladed spokes and other overpriced gewgaws: and it was so.

16: And Dog made two great tours ; the greater tour to rule the French, and the lesser tour to rule the Italians: he made Flanders also, that even the slow-witted Belgians would also have a field of battle upon which they might win.

17: And Dog set in the roadways of Flanders and Northern France great cobbles, to give misery and suffering untold upon the pedalers,

18: And to rule over the cobbles and the French and the Italians, and to divide the bull from the shit, Dog created Merckx: and Dog saw that it was good.

19: And the circular road made of wooden planking were the fourth day.

20: And Dog said, Let the circular planking bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life but no brain other than to ride in circles, and fly around the planking like a complete imbecile, and they shall be called Trackies.

21: And the rock and tree studded mountain were the fifth day. And Dog created insane creatures minute of brain, who hurled splattingly into the trees and rocks without thought down the great mountains, which the mountains brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fool after his kind: and Dog saw that it was good.

22: And Dog blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and multiply over and over, and over and over, as ye Bikers of the Mountain will for the most part have thy brains dashed against the stones and require much and frequent replacement, and he made them the most fecund of all.

23: And the pit of mud and barriers of wood and rope were the fifth day.

24: And Dog said, Let these living creature be the dumbest of all, and the creepingest of all things, and beasts of the earth who shall half-run, half-cycle in a stupor of pain: and it was so.

25: And Dog made the ‘cross racer after his kind, smallest brained of all his creatures: and God saw that while it was good, it wasn’t as good as the others, but it was already Friday and he was getting tired.

26: And Dog said, Let us make cyclists in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the roads, and over the angry motorists en route to church, and over the drunken truckers, and over all the traffic police, and over every stop sign and traffic control signal upon the earth.

27: So Dog created cyclists in his own image, in the image of Dog created he them; male and female he created alike except that the female was much cuter to observe from the rear.

28: And Dog blessed them, and Dog said unto them, Wear helmets, and lights at night, and replenish the energy drink when it runneth low in the bottle, and subdue the wankers who are overconfident: and have dominion over the race officials who judge but dare not race themselves, and over Officer Knox, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth but most especially thy non-cycling spouse who would withhold precious gold for purchase of badly needed powermeters and such.

29: And Dog said, Behold, I have given you every bicycle, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every wheelset and electronic shifter, in the which is the path of least rolling resistance; to you it shall be to pedal.

30: And to every chubby motorist who commuteth in a rage, and to every traffic jam, and to every thing that creepeth slowly upon the 405, wherein there is only a semblance of life, I have given every cyclist superiority over thee: and it was so.

31: And Dog saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good, especially when washed down with a craft beer brewed in small batches. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day, and Dog created the hangover.

32: Thus the bikes and the roads and the mountains and the tracks and the mud pits were finished, and all the host of cyclists too lazy to work but full of energy to ride, of them.

33: And on the seventh day Dog ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

34: And Dog blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work and recovered from his hangover of the fifth day and was now ready for the group ride.

The family, Jules

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I still remember when she appeared for her first NPR, standing over her bike as the riders appeared one after another, gradually crowding the deck of the Manhattan Beach Pier. “Hi,” I said. “What’s your name?”

“Juliana.”

“Hey, Juliana. Welcome to the Pier Ride. Where are you from?” She had that not-from-around-here accent that we Americans automatically label British, even though it could be Irish, South African, Ozzie, or Lithuanian.

Jules was of the VeggieMite variety. “I’m from Australia,” she said with a nice smile. And we were all smitten.

“Things kind of pick up once we hit this little up ramp on a street called Pershing. You might want to be towards the front in case it’s fast, so even though you drop back you won’t come off.”

“Okay!” she said.

A true troupe of gentlemen

With several new acquaintances watching out for her, the moment we hit Pershing it was every last soul for himself. The last time I saw her she was rocketing backwards at Warp 12. Like a hungry pack of marauding wolves, the peloton raced away. I saw her a couple of times on the Parkway with a small grupetto or by herself, banging it out against the wind. I would have dropped back to help, but, well, no, actually I wouldn’t have. And didn’t.

Welcome to Americuh. Fuck, yeah!

It was unfortunate that she, a triathlete, had shown up in the middle of race season when the NPR pace was high and the testosterone was discharging at full spigot. After the fireworks, though, she rejoined the group on Vista del Mar, and you never saw so many elbows get thrown and wheels get bumped as the guys who had just dropped her now fought to ride beside or behind her.

Junkyard eventually won the spot of honor when he was introduced as “The dude who designs all the kits for Garmin and SpiderTech.”

Before long we were all quaffing coffee at the Center of the Known Universe, and the great impression she’d made on the Pier amplified itself ten thousand fold.

Getting down to business

Far from being put off by the NPR beatdown, she continued to show up and stick it out, often getting spit out the back early on, sometimes hanging in until the end. She had guts and determination, but more importantly, she had other fish to fry: Jules hadn’t come to Los Angeles to ride around in circles with a bunch of prostate-weakened geezers, she’d come to train so that she could race.

Before her stint in California was up, she nailed 16th overall at the Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Vegas, and smashed in the door for a silver medal in her division in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. We’re absolutely certain that it was all because of those mornings on the Parkway…um, right.

More than just another bone-crushing pair of legs

Jules won people over wherever she went. With the LA County lifeguards, with the runners, with the swimmers, and of course with the bikers, she was a hit for her friendly demeanor, her unassuming good nature, and her uncommon presence of mind that would have been impressive in anyone, much less a 24 year-old on her first solo visit to the Golden State.

When her three-month sojourn in Southern California ended, she finished things up in that most California of ways: Getting to witness an arrest and detention at LAX. Americuh! Hell yeah!

Hope you come back soon, kid. ‘Cause you’re family now, Jules!

So, like, what’s a “Between Bike”?

September 18, 2012 § 11 Comments

This marks the sixth consecutive year since learning about Interbike that I haven’t gone. Back in Texas, mid-September was always so intolerably hot that you were still trying to find a telephone pole for shade, so the idea of going out to Las Vegas, a/k/a THE BLINDINGLY HOT FUCKING DESERT to look at bike stuff wasn’t exactly exciting.

In September of 2007, though, I noticed that suddenly everyone in the South Bay had vanished.

“Yo, where’s Junkyard?”

“Interbike.”

“Oh. Uh, what’s Interbike?”

Withering look of contempt, unmixed with pity. “It’s nothing. Just the biggest annual bike expo on the planet that showcases all the upcoming stuff for next year. It’s a must if you’re in the industry.”

“Oh. Well, what about Sketchy?”

“Sketchy?”

“That dude who’s on all the rides, has the cool shit, but, like, doesn’t seem to have a real job.”

“Interbike.”

“He’s in the industry?”

“No, but he knows a lot of people who are. So he has to be there, you know, to be seen.”

“Ah. Of course. And Twitchy? Where’s Twitchy? He never misses the Pier Ride.”

“Twitchy?”

“Yeah, Twitchy. The old retired dude whose shorts are so ancient the elastic is worn out of the waist and cuffs so that they sag on his can and flap on his thighs. The dude who never buys anything, ever.”

“Oh, Twitchy. Interbike.”

“What the fuck’s he at Interbike for?”

“He likes to see the latest stuff.”

“But he never buys any of it!”

“He’s good friends with Zoner and Pooter, and they’re…”

“…in the industry.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, Zigzag’s not here. Don’t you dare tell me he’s in the industry. I know for a fact he’s a mechanical engineer with Megadeath Contractors and Global Radiation Products.”

“Ziggy? He’s tight with the Specialized rep. Every year he goes to Vegas and gets the bro deal.”

“This place is a fucking ghost town.”

“Welcome to Interbike season, Wankster.”

The many reasons I’ll never go to Interbike, ever

My biggest problem is semantic. I can’t get past the name. What the fuck is an “Interbike”? Eurobike, I get. It’s bikes in Europe. Or bikes for euros. But “inter” means “between.” Between bikes? The only thing between bikes should be open space, specifically, 3-4 inches to keep from overlapping wheels.

My next biggest problem is money. I don’t like to spend it. I especially don’t like to spend it in Vegas. Plus, I don’t have any.

My final biggest problem is that Interbike and its ilk exist for one reason, and one reason only: To solve, improve, ameliorate, or eliminate the Three Laws of Cyclodynamics, which are natural and immutable physical laws. I’ve listed them below for your easy reference.

  1. You’ll flat.
  2. You’ll fall.
  3. You’re too fat.

Fixing the problem of flat tires

From time immemorial, or at least from the time they graduated from steel wheels to rubber wheels to pneumatic tires, bikes have gotten flats. I’m not going to Vegas to look at someone’s newest great idea on how not to get them. If the idea’s any fucking good it will show up at my LBS quicker than herpes at a frat party. (Hint: if it promises to drastically reduce flats, or make them lots easier to fix, or eliminate them, it’s not.)

On the other hand, the latest greatest flat elimination concept is more than likely something along the lines of a tubeless tire. Those who swear by them eventually swear at them. Any bike device that requires injections of sticky green goo is a device whose time has not yet come.

Fixing the problem of falling

From the days of the high wheeler, when riding a bike meant “taking a header” and falling from six feet up in the air onto a rock or into a mud pit or under the hooves of a horse, cyclists have come unhitched from their bikes. The severity of falling has been somewhat reduced by the safety bicycle (that’s the thing you ride today, with two equally sized wheels rather than a giant one in front and tiny one in back).

It’s been reduced by helmets, though they now make you look like a cockroach.

And of course it’s been reduced by our national highway transportation system, which discourages cycling and keeps the brains of countless millions intact, safe inside their cars where they can run over the few idiots crazy enough to think “share the road” is more than a political sop.

Ultimately, though, all of the crap at Betweenbike engineered to increase stability, improve braking, improve helmets, make lighting more powerful, and generally safety-ize the bicycle will never eliminate the rendezvous you’re soon enough going to have with gravity. And I’m not going all the way to Vegas to look at things that will be rendered obsolete by the first bimbo who’s texting with one hand and scratching her ass with the other.

The true purpose of Betweenbike: Fat reduction compensation

But the true holy grail of Betweenbike is to make you faster. No matter what anyone says, the bike industry is all about speed. The naked hookers at the booths, the screamingly bored pros trying to pretend that they’re interested in the 4,000th person to say, “I’ll never forget the time you attacked in the Hooterville Crit with two to go and Snots Buggerly bridged and the two of you won that box wine prime, and it looked like you’d hold off the field until Herndy Doo took a flyer and nipped you at the line!”, the fanboys and blogboys and mediaboys and Tweetboys all trolling the aisles desperately looking for something original to say about things that aren’t original…they’re all there in Vegas to pimp speed.

One year it’s a powermeter in your pedal! The bomb!

Another year it’s electronic shifting! The bomb!

Another year it’s textiles that cheat the wind! The bomb!

But after all the hype recedes into interest-only payments on your maxed out credit card, and no matter what anyone says, the cheapest and quickest way to go faster is to drop twenty pounds. Or forty.

Since dropping extra weight is so damned hard, and since it’s so much easier to drop $2k on a “fast” set of wheels than to drop 2kg off your third chin, the bike industry annually churns out newer, lighter, faster, more complex stuff to do what a good, old fashioned famine could have effected in 90 days or less.

Tested in a wind tunnel! Dimpled for drag reduction! Particle image velocimetry proven!

These and other complex and totally legitimate scientific principles get applied, each year, with greater precision and with wider application to the entire field of bicycles, clothing, and components. The problem is that you can get all of their benefits, and lots more, by just laying off the double cheese Sicilian deep dish and the three Hag bars.

Of course, Betweenbike and “the industry” aren’t stupid. Which one is more fun? Giving up life’s greatest pleasures to become a lonely, recalcitrant, ill-tempered stay-at-home blogger, or indulging in them AND adding trick swag to your bike cave?

Case closed.

See you next year, maybe.

In Vegas.

South Bay weekend roll call

September 17, 2012 § 6 Comments

Let’s start with the big stuff…

Mighty Mouse: Brought her NPR-honed dick stomping skills to the Nautica Malibu Tri and left a trail of shattered members all up and down PCH. CalTrans garbage truck overheated and broke down on Zuma Hill due to overloading with broken dicks. Wore her Big O tee on the podium’s second step.

Wankomodo: Got a public tongue lashing, laughed it off in the spirit it was intended, gave thanks for his new nickname, and refused to take the Wankmeister seriously. You are now officially part of the gang!

Italian Stallion: Came out for the Donut, rode off into the sunset in a marvelous pink outfit after telling G3 to shut-the-fuck-up about the crazy old lady trying to kill us in Portuguese Bend. Tony almost fell off his bike laughing, just as some wanker touched a wheel and flopped down in the middle of the road. Italian Stallion gives us a great write-up of his national championship road race here.

Crown Jules: Stomped everyone except Stathis the Wily Greek and the Italian Stallion on the Switchbacks, outsprinted John “Dillinger” Hall, who kicked me out the back like a pro roadie’s under-the-armpit snotblow.

Rico Suave: Got badly shredded on the Switchbacks, roared back on Wheatgrass to smash everyone up to the Domes, busted up the field on the Glass Church, towed WM to the line, beat him with a bike throw. I hope Rico never discovers drugs.

Erik the Red: Dropped all but a handful on Better Homes, took the sprunt at Hawthorne by a country mile after bridging with JLR. Formally announced his engagement to SPY Elite Team for 2013…yee-haw!

Tink: Returned to the mix, but was under coach’s orders not to engage in any nonsense for a couple more weeks. The sun shone in happiness at her return!

New Girl: Ignored flu symptoms, West Nile virus, superbug, and early onset pneumonia to lace up and ride to the Rock and then Wheatgrass before coming undone at the seams. Dr. Wanky has ordered bed rest until further notice.

Crit Champ: Showed up on the Donut after bringing home a silver medal from nationals, attacked the field on Paseo del Mar, followed all the moves until gravity took over. Also, wrote a fantastic piece about his season vs. the national championships. Read it here.

Surfer Dan: Displayed fine form that comes with his recent 899-mile weeks in preparation for the Everest Challenge, where he and a few other hardy souls will climb the highest mountains in California on a dog sled. Did three repeats up Crenshaw prior to showing up on Wheatgrass and smacking the snot out of us.

Ms. Abs: Was spied sunning herself on the strand in RB this morning, so we got to chat about life and Pen CX; she also updated me on Steve B.’s 198-mile, 11k of climbing ride that he did immediately prior to the Life Flight and coma resuscitation team.

Suze: Pushed several struggling wankers up through Portuguese Bend, and got a nice push on the tush by the Italian Stallion just past Terranea. Like the eye of Mordor, Wankmeister sees it all!

G3: Out for an easy noodle ride, set the fifth best overall time on the short Donut Loop. Ouch. Glad he wasn’t riding in earnest. Toured with WM along the Esplanade on his boss cruiser, with world’s cutest Ava in tow. When you see a kid that cute riding with G3, it makes you sure of this much: She takes after her mother.

Pilot: Noticed my general bonkishness and loaded me up with a full tankard of iced coffee atop the Hill. I owe you one; actually, I owe you several.

Lake(r): New inter-galactic rep for Lake Cycling showed up to taste the Donut despite being HQ’d in San Diego. Give him a welcome the next time he comes around. If there is a next time, as he sat with Wankmeister out at CotKU and learned that the South Bay is essentially an insane asylum without proper walls.

Iron Mike: Treated another passel of ingrates to $400 worth of nasty, foul-smelling, barely potable wheat grass, which made my front two teeth fall out and turned the others deep green. So at least they all match.

Junkyard: Spent Saturday in the 200-degree heat climbing Latigo, Piuma, Crownview, Anchovy, Deer Creek, Decker, and Questhaven, then couldn’t figure out why his legs were flat on the Wheatgrass Ride. I promised to draw him a diagram to explain it, as he’s a visual person.

Sparkles and VV: Rode the Wheatgrass in halter tops due to predictions of high heat, causing several neck strains in the field and aggressive fighting in the wankoton to ride next to them.

Casey Stengel: While he was noodling up to the Domes and I was chasing Rico Suave with all my might, he hopped out of the saddle and gave me a massive tow to within spitting distance of my quarry. The spit didn’t carry, though, and I never closed the gap.

Dude in Antique Sidis: I don’t know if you remember the Sidi Revolution, the first cycling shoe to use velcro, but Dude was wearing a pair and it looked like he hadn’t taken them off since 1986, including his hike across the Himalayas and the year he spent marching across a field of cow manure. We made him sit downwind at the Jamba Juice, where he killed a small flock of starlings with the smell.

It’s the off season!

September 16, 2012 § 21 Comments

Okay, wankers, take a deep breath. It’s not the off season for you. Why? Because you don’t have a “season.” So it’s impossible for you to have an “off season.”

Off seasons are for other people. Not you. What kind of people? Take this handy dandy quiz to find out if you’re entitled to an off season. If you answer “yes” to each statement, then and only then do you get to have an off season.

  1. You are a professional road racer with a contract.
  2. You did five Pro Tour events in 2012, or at least 50 UCI races ranked 2.2 or higher.
  3. You logged 10,000 km in last year’s off season.
  4. You will have logged at least 30,000 km in 2012.
  5. Your team manager has said, “Okay, it’s the off season for you.”

No “buts,” please

I can hear you wailing already.

“But I did 47 Cat 4-5 events this year!”

“But I did two dozen double centuries!”

“But I did all the races on the 45+ SoCal calendar!”

“But I’m completely worn out, mentally and physically!”

“But I need a break!”

These are all great reasons to take a break, or to ride easy, or to hit the gym, or to spend more time with your significant other or cat. They are not reasons to call your cat time, or your gym time, or your break time an “off season.”

Why not?

For the same reason it’s not okay to call your club kit and bike discount a “pro deal”: Because it’s not. Pro deals are where you get everything for free as part of your contract and are obligated to wear and use the gear no matter what. Club deals are where you get a discount and then get to go to all the races using different gear and talk shit about the stuff that’s part of your “pro deal.”

There’s another reason it’s not okay to call the next four months an “off season.” It implies that your dedication, seriousness, effort, and commitment to your bicycling hobby is equivalent to what professional athletes do.

Pro football players have an off season. Pro basketball players have an off season. Pro road cyclists have an off season. You think that if you can just borrow the word “off season,” it will get you, along with your pro kit, your pro bike, and your pro coaching regimen one step closer to being an actual pro.

Guess what?

It won’t. No matter what you call the next few months, you’ll still be a flub-along bicycle hobbyist like the rest of us, which is fine.

What’s not fine

What’s not fine is that once you start bandying about “off season” like it’s some sort of professional injunction mandated by the pro cyclist’s union or the terms of your contract, before long you’ll be trying to impose your “off season” on the rest of us.

“Hey, slow down! Don’t you know it’s the off season?”

“Yo, Wankmeister! Quit hammering! It’s the fucking off season, you idiot!”

“Ah, you guys need to chill on the NPR. It’s the off season.”

“Look, it’s the off season, so let’s go easy on the Donut, okay?”

Nah. It’s not okay, because it’s not really the off season. What it may be is time for you to rest your worn out, arthritic, creaky old joints and give some recovery time to your weathered and withered and beaten down body so that you can do it all over again come January.

But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us wankers have to follow suit. Most of us don’t ride or race enough to be tired by September, and since it’s not “off season” at the job where we still have to sweat and slave and toil and stress, these weekend flailfests are still important times for us to go out and forget about life for a while. Moreover, it’s hardly the off season for the wankers who are just now getting geared up for ‘cross. That whole exercise in insanity goes full bore through January…a few hard efforts during the week are just what the doctor ordered.

So what’s a fellow to do?

Rather than loudly proclaiming your off-season-ness to the world and trying to make everyone else go slower, you should find a group of like-minded, equally deluded imaginary pro riders (trust me, that won’t be hard to do), and go spend your off season with THEM. Or, you can go ride by yourself at your “off season” pace.

What you can’t do is show up on the group ride with instructions that the rest of us quit riding like today is the biggest race of our lives. Well, you can do it…but don’t be surprised when no one listens. The Switchbacks weren’t put there for “easy.”

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for September, 2012 at Cycling in the South Bay.

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