Fear of fridgelessness

July 1, 2020 § 13 Comments

I have a veritable Christmas tree of self-delusions, each one a sparkly ornament that I take down, gaze fondly at, stroke lovingly, and hang back up when I’m done with it.

Perhaps my biggest and most beloved delusion is that I’m a minimalist. Of course, that’s the last thing I am, more of a maximalist. Minimalism is less chic-ly known as poverty. The global standard for that? Living on $3.20 per day. Or less. Is your average living expense $5.50 per day? You’re no minimalist, and in many countries you no longer even qualify as especially poor. Kind of moving up, sorta.

Absolute minimalism, a/k/a extreme poverty, where you subsist on the narrow black line between life and death, begins at $1.90 a day. Are you rich enough to support yourself with expenditures between $10-$20 per day? Then you are squarely in the global middle class. More than $50/day? Globally you’re a high earner at $18k per year.

So anyway, I’m no minimalist. Yet.

However, I’m not exactly awash in things, which people sometimes confuse with minimalism. One of the things I’m not awash in is housing. Later this month I’ll be officially homeless. Now please don’t misunderstand. It’s temporary (maybe), it’s by choice, and I’m not sure if you’re really homeless as long as you have a trick bikepacking tent that cost nearly $500, a JetBoil stove, and, uh, a credit card that works. Also, once my bike trip ends, if my bike trip ends, I may decide to pay for a fixed abode again. Henry Thoreau could only hack the beauty of solitude for two years, two months, and two days before he abandoned Walden Pond, never to return.

Part of elected homelessness has meant gradually getting rid of various things, mostly by Craigslist. The last big thing with which I parted was my fridge. I don’t think Thoreau had one of those.

For the most part, the departure of each thing, be it a couch or a bed or a dresser, has been accompanied by the feeling of a giant thing being lifted off my nuts. And that feeling of relief, of being unencumbered by yet another thing, has been wonderful. Do I really need ten suits? That would be “nope.” Can all my clothes fit into a medium-sized cardboard box? That would be “yep.”

But when the guy lugged my fridge out of the apartment, well, things got real. What was I gonna do with all my fresh food? Of course “all my fresh food” meant a couple jars of starter, a tub of ice cream, some bacon, eggs, milk, salad dressing, a few vegetables, and some parsley.

Naturally, I ate it all. Which felt pretty good!

But after that the raw panic set in. The only things left to eat were things. Over the last year I’ve whittled my grocery shopping down (so I told myself) to only having a couple of days’ worth of food, but when Mr. Frigidaire left, I realized that “couple days’ worth of food” was indeed an ornament on the Christmas tree of delusions.

So now all the fresh food I eat isn’t refrigerated. No more chicken sitting around for four or five days. No more gallon-milk purchases. No more week’s-worth-of-carrots.

In synch with those living on $1.90 per day, I have to figure out what I’m going to eat tomorrow today, because if I don’t there isn’t going to be any eating tomorrow. Things get focused and the extraordinary wasteful lives we lead comes more into focus. For example, at the store yesterday I saw a guy loading his cart with a dozen frozen dinners while I eyed, with equally greedy eyes, an onion and a potato. And frankly, I think my dinner was better than his.

Are refrigerators a political issue? They kind of are. Setting aside the cost of the thing, you spend about $200/year to run it if it’s an older model. Newer ones cost as little as $40/year, but that’s offset by the high cost of the fridge itself. So in addition to the costs of ownership and operation, which are pretty tolerable when compared to, say, SRAM e-tap, you have to consider the real cost of the fridge, which is all the shit in it you never eat and ultimately throw away.

Every couple of years my mom used to clean out her freezer. It was always a game of “What is that?” as she’d haul out some freezer-burned hunk of nastiness and toss it in the trash. The back corners of her veggie bin were also ripe places for fermentation of all sorts. Nor was she an outlier. Americans waste a pound of food a day through spoilage. That turns out to a whopping 150,000 tons of food per year, almost as much as the average cyclist wastes in out-of-fashion kits that get tossed into the dumpster, or worse, pushed to the back of the kit drawer never to see light of day again.

Cost-wise, though, an Igloo cooler is even more costly. That’s because in SoCal a bag of ice runs about $4 and lasts for only two days, three at the most, totting up over $700/year if you’re going to refrigerate a few food items with ice.

Now that the fridge has gone, the panic has receded after less than a week. I’m shopping day-by-day. And I’m eating way less. And I’ve lost five pounds, which I’m not sure is the greatest prep for an extended bike ride up the coast. More than the five pounds, though, I’ve lost the weight of all those things I never liked, never really needed, and never really wanted anyway.

But still … not having a tub of ice cream to wash my hair with at 3:00 AM … that, I miss.


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Nobody for President

June 29, 2020 § 12 Comments

As it gets closer and closer to the day that I leave the place I’ve lived for the last six years, destination uncertain, return date unknown, I’m cleaning out more than my refrigerator.

I posted a short note on Facegag announcing my intent to close that account in August. Oh, the irony, to be “done” with the ‘Bag but not so done that I can’t kill it without a post … and check for comments.

In fact it’s the fourth time, or maybe just the third, that I’ve deleted my account. Each time there’s been a different rationalization for creating a new one. Last time it was “marketing for my law firm.” Of course as with any other marketing effort, it only works if you roll up your sleeves and spend the time and money to make it work.

Facebook marketing requires a lot more than spending money on ads. You have to participate and be a robust reader of other feeds, not to mention carefully developing your own. Most of all, you have to be aware of and gingerly participate in controversies, but never take a stand so firm that it alienates potential clients.

Alienating people is of course the price of taking a real stand on anything.

In my first two Facebook lives I waged epic battles, some of which people still remind me of, for example the great ‘cross battle with the dude in PA or upstate NY or somewhere. I still remember lying in bed in the hotel room in Philly, almost late for my son’s college graduation, battling it out with someone I’d never met and never would over something that I cared about exactly zero.

In my other Facebook lives, and especially this last one, I lost more and more truculence until eventually I never bothered to comment on anything, no matter how outrageous. “So what?” I thought. “It’s just Facebook. It’s not a real opinion or even a real person. It’s just a curated version of some idealized thing.”

The apotheosis of it was a guy named Stephen Jellen. Steve is a “liberal” “intellectual” in southeastern Illinois who I’ve met twice, most recently at a wedding where he was funny, kind, cordial … we sat together during the ceremony. He is a real person with a real personality and real social skills.

For some reason I wrote something on my ‘Bag page that incensed him, though we are both politically well aligned. He showed up and tore me apart. Each time I tried to bring it down a notch or deflect he came back with even greater viciousness, ending his final attack with “Fuck off, boy.” You’d think that with an ending like that he’d unfriend me, but far from it.

I went to his page for the first time and saw that it was a kind of crazy land of screaming, raging opinions, inflated by a loneliness and anger into a kind of digital bounce room where he could fling himself and his intelligence in wild and unrestrained ways, knowing he’d never have to hit the ground hard.

I wanly smiled at this because here was a guy ten years my senior still as absorbed in his ‘Bag persona as I had been ten years ago. This chubby, elderly, pleasant old fart in real life really saw himself as a raging tiger of uncompromising ideas from Middle Class Whiteville, USA, supporting change and revolution by posting up on the ‘Bag.

Moreover, the teardown came from an incredibly friendly guy with whom I’d broken bread only a month or so prior, at a wedding for fuxake. I unfriended him, but felt like I was the one who’d been duped. Not by him, but by FB, which has created a forum where people can behave like monsters and your only recourse is to “unfriend” them. How empty. In real life we’d have had a debate, maybe an argument, and maybe we’d even have told one another to fuck off.

But there would have been the face-to-face element that FACEbook lacks and that allows it to exist. The anonymity of having a name, face, opinion, character, and life that aren’t real is what makes FB so comforting. You can be someone else that no one really knows, and everyone winks because they’re that person, too.

Want to show me the real you on FB? Show me a photo of your medicine cabinet. Everything else I’ll take with a grain of salt the size of … this.

Of course everyone has a reason, thin or not, for staying hooked up with social media, and I don’t judge other than to say that with the upcoming election, it’s more than I can bear. If Google’s #fakeslogan is “Do no harm,” my personal motto, recently adopted, is “Do no harm to me.”

There’s a battle royale shaping up for the election, and it’s already the nastiest one in history, with all forms of media lining up to say the ugliest, most despicable, unmoderated things that they can dredge up. Stephen Jellen’s ugliness looks polite in comparison because at least he’s nothing more than an ugly citizen snowed in 9 months of the year.

Those with whom I’m politically aligned are, in their tactics, just as repulsive as the people they oppose. Daily KOS sends daily spam filled with alarmist, screeching, hateful headlines; swap out a couple of names and they’d be interchangeable with the far right. I understand that these are the tactics that “the other side” first employed with great success, but that doesn’t make me think any better of the people using them. Stephen may vote for the best people, but I think he’s still a colossal jerk.

Fortunately, my opposition to the sexual assault-prone president and my non-support of the probable sexual assaulter he’s running against have happened at a time when the single most powerful political opposition to Trumpism is basically silence. He never grasped The Rule of Holes (when you’re in one, stop digging), and instead thinks he can simply shovel his way down to China and pop out the other side. Maybe he thinks that once he emerges, they’ll crown him king there, too, which would be kind of like assembling all twenty rings of Middle Earth.

Biden’s approach has been to keep his head down, say nothing, go nowhere, respect the covids, speak generally, ignore the president, and hope like hell that the looming mail-in voting fiasco won’t end up in the laps of Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court. Ah, right. ‘Course it won’t. No more than that minor Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore.

People are so sickened by the twin contagions of the covids and Trumpism that they wish no one was president. There is no credulity left. The Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing murders of people of color lay bare the fact that corporatism and tax policy are never going to be rolled back, whether Muppet A is at the helm or Muppet B.

“Who do you support?”


Nobody for President.


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You’re not “over it” unless you’re dead

June 19, 2020 § 8 Comments

This past week I’ve been thinking about sashaying out to get a taste of the Donut. This past week I’ve been missing the intensity that you can’t get anywhere except by competition. This past week I’ve been getting a little excited about riding the old route with the old knuckleheads in the same pointless exercise of silliness.

This past week I’ve also not been reading the news.

Like, at all.

So after making a date with Donut Destiny for tomorrow at 8:05 AM, pointy-sharp, a friend sent me a quick note in response to me telling him I was going to Do the Doney. The friend said something like:

Uh, you are a fucking idiot. No group disease hug for me. Would you join a condom-free orgy where most of the people had been exposed to bacteria-resistant syphilis? I wouldn’t. It’s not safe to be with people closer than six feet outside of your own quaran-team. In case you’re interested in facts or science, the new Health Officer Order just got posted, effective June 18, 2020, which would be yesterday. Read it if you’re okay with medium-sized words. http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/docs/HOO/HOO_COVID-19_Safer_at_Work_and_in_the_Community-Phase%203_06182020_WITH_APPENDICES.pdf

Good Buddy, June 19, 2020

This zapped the lead right out of my Donut pencil, let me tell you, but I’m glad he said it.

People need to say the truth. And they need to be prepared to offend all of the lycra-clad people who think that a giant group Saturday Ride is their “right” because they’re “so over the covids.”

Listen. You know who’s “over” the covids? The people who’ve died from it. Everybody else is either being covidded or about to be covidded. There’s no science that shows you develop an immunity to it, and there’s no science that says you can’t get it twice, and there’s no science that says the covids have all moved to Brazil, and there’s no science that says the covids aren’t also mutating into new covids.

All there is, is science saying we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and you can either take reasonable steps to avoid groups or, and make note of this, “You are a bad person.”

Several folks have taken the opportunity to advise me that they don’t care anymore. They are gonna ride their bikes in a big ol’ group and they don’t care if they get sick or not. Good for them, I say. They have proven that narcissism is their strong suit.

But bad for them as it has to do with human decency. Not everyone out there is as sanguine about the covids as they are. Lots of people would like to keep on living, and would like their friends and family to as well. Lots of people have made extraordinary sacrifices in their jobs and businesses by first closing down completely, and second by gradually reopening in order to try and salvage a post-covid existence.

Cyclists who think that gaggling in a large group so they can get their riding fix in are plain ol’ bad people. Your grandmother would have pulled them by the ear, and you too for hanging out with them.

I know you’ve got that new cool kit you can’t wait to display.

I know your numbers are down because no competition intensity.

I know you think science is stupid and that you have a big ol’ bag of constitutional rights that some liberal right this minute scheming to steal out of your tightly clenched fist.

I don’t expect you to miss The Big Ride.

But I will. And I been doing it a hell of a lot longer than you have.


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Two good rides

May 17, 2020 § 4 Comments

I rode to Manhattan Beach yesterday. There wasn’t much traffic even though it was Saturday and rather late in the morning, about 8:30 or so.

One function of the pandemic is reduced car traffic. Everyone seems to be thinking twice about going anywhere by car, and that’s probably because for most people there’s no “where” to go to.

But there was a bunch of bike traffic. Bikes everywhere, and they seemed to fall into three groups. 1) The usual suspects. 2) Newbies. 3) Ustabefit types.

The Ustabefit riders were easily identified by their nice but old bikes and their serious cycling duds that didn’t fit so good anymore. I think it’s pretty awesome that the pandemic has spurred so many people to start riding and has encouraged so many who used to ride to ride again.

What was equally awesome was the utter absence of cager hostility. In the South Bay it’s usually a fact of life that sooner or later you’re going to draw a honk, usually sooner. But the scads of people taking to the streets, or the lessened car traffic and concomitant decreased stress, or some combination of the two meant that there was lot of pleasant coexistence that I normally only associate with downtown LA and Long Beach-type places.

It also shows how silly the whole idea of bike lanes and bike infrastructure is. People are perfectly capable of riding in the street and cars are perfectly capable of not hitting them, if they so desire.

I got home and went shopping at the Food 4 Less on Sepulveda and Vermont. I bought several pounds of potatoes, a 5-lb. bag of sugar, some canola oil, and a bunch of other stuff that ended up weighing over 20 pounds when you added in the u-lock and cable.

To get home I have to go uphill a bit, and although Basswood/Shorewood aren’t mandatory, I never avoid them, reasoning that I won’t live here forever and I’ll look back regretfully on having lived at the top of a wall and having not ridden it every chance I had.

Things were going well up Rolling Meadows. I rode over the little wooden step-ramp and then pedaled hard up Silver Spur, but the backpack and my commuter bike and my tennis shoes were making me feel less than sprightly. I labored up Basswood, really labored, as in “she’s in labor.”

I took a hard run at Shorewood and at the point where my momentum turned into deep mud and I was going to have to pedal and pedal hard, I swung a leg over and got off. I walked all the way to the top, fully expecting a peloton of 100+ friends, acquaintances, and cycling enemies to come charging down this desolate suburban street with cameras flashing, all shouting, “Look at the wanker! Too weak to pedal! Pushing his effing bike!”

They didn’t, though, and I wouldn’t have cared if they had.

Sometimes you gotta know when to hold, know when to fold ’em.


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How not to be a d-bag

May 16, 2020 § 11 Comments

There are currently two approaches to events in the covid cycling world. The first is exemplified globally by the Tour de France, and locally by Phil’s Fondo here in LA. The approach is to charge ahead, take little to no consideration of the radically changed circumstances, and plaintively insist that people go ahead and do what they did in years past, i.e. give you money and support your event because your event is happening no matter what the consequences.

“Rah-rah-rah because I need your money NOW.” This neatly parallels the president’s approach to the pandemic.

The second approach is the What Me Worry? This is exemplified locally by #socmed club/boy band/narcissists gone wild Origin Clothing where the most horrific human crisis of our time has been met with new kit drops, photo sessions that look like they came straight out of the back of an unmarked white van, and Gram posts saying things like “Hey Earth! You’re Welcome.”

So disturbing. So disturbed.

Because Earth has nothing more pressing than a wrinkled, ugly old guy in his 50’s with a bad tattoo pretending to be a runway model, and because the best way to meet untold suffering is with a new kit.

But there’s a third way that doesn’t involve being a terrible person and that addresses the complexity faced by millions in the world, and many in the bike biz. How do you move ahead with something that is your lifeblood and not behave in a way that ignores, minimizes, or trivializes the real concerns of people trying to live “normally” in a pandemic? For example, instead of the ugly, narcissistic, old-man model, what about converting your kit production line into making masks and donating a bunch of them to healthcare professionals, as has been done by San Diego manufacturer Eliel?

An email hit my inbox yesterday that was incredible, not simply because it was related to cycling, but because it was a template for every single business trying to meaningfully and thoughtfully adapt to the pandemic. Not plowing ahead like this terrible person, a typical PV resident if there ever was one, or abandoning all pretense like the drunken rioters in Wisconsin who are more than happy to spread the disease because, beer, but rather trying to figure out what people want and what people need.

This email came from the Belgian Waffle Ride, whose first year of bringing online a multi-stage, nationwide gravel race was kneecapped by the pandemic. And instead of shrieking “What pandemic?” or spamming his list with Early Corpse Discounts, ride boss Michael Marckx did what few people are doing anywhere, in any business: He reached out to his customer base with a detailed online survey trying to determine not what he wanted but, crazily, what they wanted.

This wasn’t simply a survey for bike riders riding bikes at a bike riding event. It was a thorough inquiry into how YOU have adapted to the pandemic. About what has changed. About what hasn’t. About your expectations. About your concerns. About your hopes. About your approach to PPE. About your expectations for how events, their employees, and volunteers, should approach social distancing and in what degree.

The survey queried your racing for 2019, your racing plans pre-pandemic for 2020, how the pandemic has affected your riding, how much notice you’d need to participate in a 2020 event, what factors you’d include in deciding to participate including proximity, cost, and cancellation policy, and detailed questions about specific pandemic health issues and how they affect your decision to join.

This portion of the survey included the weight, if any, you’d put on there being a vaccine, on rules for the size of gatherings, on social distancing policies, on PPE, on the availability of on-site testing, and a whole host of other things that are real and that reflect the fact that we live in a different world today.

This survey is the first thing I’ve seen anywhere, by anyone, that addresses the pandemic as something other than a blip or a brief pause until we “reopen” or “get back to normal.” Guess what, folks? This is normal. We are open. And it’s different from how things were in February. People who thoughtfully try to adapt will make it because we will trust them and respect them for doing the right thing when it matters most.

Those who mindlessly and morbidly pound away at “earlybird discounts” and “new kit drops” without understanding that 40 million people are now unemployed, the pandemic is still in full force, 100,000 Americans have died, and the real shit storm isn’t going to hit until flu season arrives, well, those folks are going to find that their old school shit doesn’t sell anymore.

Consider this bit of frankness, transparency, and decency that came along with the BWR email, and ask yourself if perhaps this shouldn’t be the norm for every business out there, from bike races to airlines to supermarkets?

We hope this missive finds you and yours well and taking advantage of whatever gifts this time of Social Distancing has on offer. We know this has been a challenging and often frustrating situation for many, with work and school disruptions and no group riding. While we don’t have any real sense of when things might change as it relates to hosting events, we do know USAC will be permitting events starting June 1 and that certain states and counties are opening up to events now.

While it is important what the cities and counties will allow, it’s more important for us to know what YOU want, regardless of a county’s openness to mass gatherings. So, we want to gauge how YOU feel about all this and when YOU will be comfortable to get back to riding in a pack. 
We are asking riders to share with us how they’ve been affected by the pandemic. We’d like to know how to create the safest environment possible when we do get back to what we love doing.

BWR email, May 15, 2020

And hey, even if it’s too much to take into account the lives of the people who your business depend on, could you at least zip up your fucking jersey? The hairy chest thing worked for Tom Selleck because, you know, he actually had some.


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Wanky diet

May 6, 2020 § 12 Comments

There is no place in your apartment more personal than your refrigerator except for your medicine cabinet.

Lots of cyclists wonder, “What should I eat?” or “How can I lose weight?”

I don’t know unless you change up the questions to “What should I eat because I want to?” and “How can I not care whether I lose weight?”

Those questions I’ve researched fully.

For example, cake frosting. If you make it with butter and you intentionally make far more of it than you can spread on the cake, you are left over with a tub of frosting. It sits in the fridge and gets chunky and hard and you can spread it on everything. It tastes good on celery, for example, following the basic Frosting Principle: Everything tastes better with frosting.

For example, you can mix it with cookie dough and turn it into cookie frough. Problem is that by the time you get around to taking a picture, it’s all gone.

Or you can mix it in with vanilla ice cream to make frice cream.

Eventually you run out of stuff to put it on and are left with nothing but the tub. That’s not really a problem as long as you have some specialized kitchen equipment called a “fork.”

A proper Wanky breakfast, if you are focused on having enough energy to make it through the killer hours before 10:00 AM, should be high in everything.

A lot of people get fancy for their mid-morning snack, but it’s already 10:00 AM and you are starving. The only practical solution? Sourdough bread, butter, ham, and cheese. You can repeat this as often as you need to until you are good and full.

Well, you’ve been a good boy or girl so far, counting calories and not going to excess, and now it’s noon and you are ready for your first proper meal. Here’s where you get a chance to be good again, by eating leftovers, in this case eggs with feta cheese baked in a skillet with sautéed vegetables, olive oil, and crushed tomatoes.

Don’t forget the dab of cornbread!

By early afternoon you are feeling peckish again but since you’ve been good, you opt for something you probably should have had at the beginning, a/k/a breakfast. It’s never too late to make up for lost calories, and what better way than fried eggs with cheese cooked on a bed of toasted garlic with sourdough bread and a strip of bacon as a reward?

Breakfast … it’s not just for breakfast anymore!

As it’s getting time for dinner, you go to the store and get the makings for something healthful. A salad and some potatoes. But don’t forget the butter vegetable and the sour cream vegetable or you’ll be sorry!

All you have to do is fry up the onion, jalapeños, green onions, bell pepper, toss in some garlic, cook up some bacon, boil the potatoes, then mash it all up together and you get Tater Happiness. Unfortunately the photo was taken after I’d eaten almost all of it and stuffed the leftovers into a tiny Tupperware, so it’s all scrunched down. But you can trust me, it was yummy.

Finally, you’ve had a great day being good, counting your calories, eating healthy, and you can finally treat yourself to something special! Fruit!

But don’t get too carried away, because to go with the fruit you probably need a little flavoring. I recommend this:

So there you are. Day is mostly done except for your midnight snack to keep your energy up. You don’t want to find yourself in midnight snack hell, so, because you are a planner, you whip up a wheel of cornbread made with real butter and eggs and sourdough batter to take the edge off when you are sleepwalking. Add Serrano peppers to make sure you get a little tickle on your tongue!

Now you can peacefully contemplate the pink duct tape in your empty fridge as you plan tomorrow’s careful exercise in mindful eating! Good job!


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Who killed Wanky?

May 2, 2020 § 12 Comments

I got a disturbing email a couple of days ago and am copying it here.

Dear Seth,

What happened to Wanky? I liked him a lot more than I like you. He’s funnier, a better writer, and way more fun to hang out with. I liked him so much I almost subscribed to your stupid blog once. Did you kill him? Is he locked up in your basement? Oh, right, I forgot you’re poor and live in an apartment and don’t have one. Or did he quit because even somebody named “Wanky” can’t live on $2.99 a month times three? Your non-Wanky blogging sucks. You never make fun of anyone, all your shit is serious, and I’d cancel my subscription if I had one.

Almost Subscribed That One Time

To which I replied:


Wanky is alive and well. The strain of daily publishing finally wore him down, and with no alcoholic habits to sustain him, he finally left town on a journey of discovery. He is currently in east Bohemia on his bicycle. Prior to the pandemic he was sleeping in bushes and hopping onto free Wi-Fi hotspots now and then to let me know he was okay. Since the pandemic he’s been quarantined in west Bohemia beneath a linden tree, and all the hotspots have cooled, so we’re infrequently in touch. I did however forward him a series of letters I’ve gotten from cyclists regarding the pandemic and asked him to respond, to which he responded, “Fuck off.” But this morning what follows was in my inbox. Hope this is what you were looking for.


Dear Mr. Wanky Sir,

I am an avid recreational cyclist who wants to do the right thing but the quarantine is very hard to obey, so I haven’t. Been riding a lot in small groups with my bros. Is this okay?

Sirrah Ridesalot

Dear Sirrah,

You are a complete fucking idiot. (Signed) Wanky

Dear Wanky,

The whole pandemic thing is a political ploy by the liberal black helicopter UN anti-2nd Amendment conspiracy to take away my right to ride my bike. They’ve closed public parks and bike paths and I read on Breitbart that they are building subterranean prisons to incarcerate people who don’t wear masks. What’s your take on this #fake #cornvirus that’s actually a #commoncold being used to usurp the U.S. Consution?

Don’t Tread on Me,
Buck Snodgrass

Dear Buck,

You are a complete fucking idiot. (Signed) Wanky

Dear Wanky,

Sorry but I just don’t believe that this pandemic is a real thing if it was how come China got better? I got tested and I got cornvirus and it didn’t kill me so why I gotta stay inside and lose my job this is sooooo dumb and illegal. alls I wanna do is race bikes. Thiose people who “dyed” from cornvirus were old and gonna die anyhow. Right?

Cat 3 Dave

Dear Dave,

You are a complete fucking idiot. (Signed) Wanky

Dear Wanky,

If science is so smart and we’re supposed to hunker down from this cornvirus, then why did people still get sick and die even though we hunkered down? Tell me that.

Sammy Sneedles

Dear Sammy,

You are a complete fucking idiot. (Signed) Wanky

Dearest Wanky,

There are a couple of doctors in Bakersfield, actual practicing physicians who work in a minor emergency care facility, not fancy Ph.D. MD’s from Harvard in a lab somewhere, who conclusively say that the cornvirus is not all that bad and that the only sensible step is to reopen the economy. They are well-attuned to the PRACTICAL side of medicine such as scrapes, bruises, cuts, sprained ankles, and funny clicking noises in the shoulder, as well as dealing with this cornvirus. Of course they’re ignored by the mainstream liberal media because their message is counter to what Nancy et al. want you to believe. I’ve attached a link here if you are truly interested in science as promulgated by independent thinkers who understand how this cornvirus thing really works. Enjoy, and I hope one day to be a paying subscriber sort of.

Big Ring Bill

Dear Bill,

You are a complete fucking idiot. (Signed) Wanky


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Ready to ride?

May 1, 2020 § 8 Comments

The answer for a whole of people is, “I been riding.”

And the answer for a whole lot of others is, “Yes!”

So I wonder what things are actually going to look like when we are told that it is now safe to do what we were previously told could only be done taking extreme safety precautions?

The first thing that’s going to happen is already happening. People have more or less completely blown off the quarantine. “Been there, done that, man it is boring, and I don’t even know anyone who died.”

Traffic isn’t at normal levels but there’s a ton of it. The air is filthy. The most remote parts of the peninsula are penetrated by the roar and roll of traffic, construction, and lawn maintenance.

At the same time it’s about as far from normal as you can imagine simply because 30,000,000 people are now unemployed. Actually, the number is closer to 50,000,000 when you count the people who are unemployed and don’t qualify for benefits and those who haven’t tried or been able to penetrate the chaotic unemployment benefits systems of the states.

Doesn’t matter for others, though, at least not yet. When the all clear bell sounds, there is going to be a massive binge of activity on all fronts, at least initially, and that includes cycling.

People are going to amass to see other riders and assure themselves that it’s okay, that life is going to go on, that we can resume living the way we used to even though we can’t. People are going to test a grand theory: That contagion will obey the dictates of public pronouncements.

Here in LA, rides like NPR, the Donut, the Montrose Ride, and the NOW Ride are going to be busting at the seams. It will indeed be a two-speed peloton, as those who’ve been riding regardless and those who’ve been training indoors benefit from a consistent level of training that they’ve previously been unable to maintain due to work. This group will contrast rather bleakly with those who’ve cashed the quarantine’s blank check to hang out, watch TV, and clean out the larder.

I’ve seen more “new” people on bikes during the quarantine than ever before, all kinds of people dusting off garage bikes or pedaling newly purchased e-bikes. Two days ago I was riding up Silver Spur and got passed by a guy in flip-flops, shirtless, and shorts as he lazily pedaled a beach cruiser e-bike up the steep grade at 26.

A bunch of those people are going to transition into cycling as their recreation, and some will even adopt bikes as their transportation. The pandemic is going to create a lot of new long-term riders, some from the ranks of the unemployed, some from the ranks of those who want to save money, some from the cager crowd, and some who simply want to have fun with family in the neighborhood.

The group rides will probably thin out after the first big rush of excitement, but maybe they won’t. Maybe people will finally start to recognize what a privilege it is to go outside, meet up with friends, and pedal hard.


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April 19, 2020 § 10 Comments

Everyone in the South Bay knows about the New Pier Ride. A few people know about National Public Radio.

But the real NPR looks like it’s going to be New Pandemic Resolutions. What changes did you make that you plan to continue once the quarantine lifts?

Mine are pretty simple, WWWS.

  1. Walking. I’ve been walking 15 hours a week or so. It’s not great for cycling, but it’s great for everything else. Walking is low impact but unlike cycling it’s weight-bearing. so maybe good for my creaky old bones.I’ve seen beautiful parts of my neighborhood I’d have never otherwise seen. I’ve seen starry nights. I’ve found wild orange trees laden with fruit, and a wild tangerine tree similarly fruitful. I’ve seen orioles, hawks, flycatchers, and wildflowers galore. Most of all, I’ve been able to reflect without the constant rush of speed that comes from cycling. New ideas have been easier to grasp, old ones easier to release and set free.
  2. Water. I used to buy a gallon of distilled water every month to bake with. Then my friend and baking mentor Lisa Clayton told me that you can use tap water if you let it sit out overnight so the chlorine evaporates. No more wasteful plastic water bottles in my apartment, ever.
  3. Washing. A few days after the quarantine I quit using soap and shampoo. I still take a bath every day but only with hot water. There’s been zero change in the way I look or smell. Okay, a tiny change in the way I look … but it has taught me how wasteful and pointless all of the personal hygiene products are that we are coerced and guilted into buying, not to mention the junk we pour by the ton into our water supply.
  4. Sugar. I used to go through ten pounds of sugar a week feeding my hummingbirds and baking for cookies. I’ve cut back to five pounds. The hummingbirds are fine, and my cookies and other baked goods are not as sweet, which makes the other tastes and flavors really pop. Sugar, like salt, if you use too much, is a cover for crappy cooking or bad ingredients.

There may be others but those are the biggest ones. You?


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Nudist colony

April 14, 2020 § 3 Comments

It’s hard to look glamorous with a shopping cart full of toilet paper.

It’s hard to look glamorous with your face wrapped in a paper napkin hooked behind your ears.

It’s hard to look glamorous bending over to pick up a dog turd.

But you know what’s really hard? Looking glamorous while doing anything at all during a pandemic.

Nowhere is the breakdown in physical appearance easier to see than in grocery stores. Women simply tie their hair in a knot and slum it in sweats. Men wander around with seven-day-old bedhead and flip-flops.


For men, grooming and personal attire are based on an assumption. A man who is shaved, shampooed, well put together, and walking around with his balls waxed is a man who has SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO DO BECAUSE MONEY. This is the essence of manhood.

For women, grooming and personal attire are based on a different assumption. A woman with perfect hair, threaded lashes and brows, cfm shoes, Picasso nails, and an immaculate outfit is a woman WHO ALL THE OTHER WOMEN ARE JEALOUS OF BECAUSE HOT. This is the essence of womanliness.

But in a pandemic? Well, you have problems because no one thinks you have anything important to do if you are a guy. How could you? You’re either unemployed (so no one cares about you), you’re working from home (this means drinking beer at 9:00 AM and wearing pajamas all day), or you work in an essential business a/k/a grocery store. No matter how you look, no one thinks you have anything important to do unless you’re in scrubs, and then people cross the street and pray like hell they never meet you professionally.

Same thing for women. You can’t dress up to go out because there’s no out. You can’t dress up for work because there’s no work. You can’t even dress down-but-up for the gym because there’s no gym. You can of course dress up to take out the trash but, uh, no. No matter how you look, the other women you’re trying to impress are not there to be impressed, especially since your face is swaddled in a diaper and the only thing showing is your eyes.

As one fashion expert noted: “It’s a grim fashion day indeed for most women when the only thing showing is their eyes.”

Few things have been as badly wrecked as the appearance industry. It’s bad enough that hair salons, nail salons, barbers, tailors, and haberdashers are closed, but what’s worse is that in the pandemic environment no one cares how you look anyway. It’s really terrible.

Or is it?

Is it a minus that people are starting to look like people? Is it a minus that women don’t have to devote an hour of their morning or more to cover, remake, shift, primp, crimp, clip, snip, dip, and smellify away the natural way they look–and are supposed to look–when they get out of bed?

Is it a minus that men don’t have to comb over the combover over and over until there’s just the max amount of thinning hair skillfully pasted over the shiny dome? Is it a minus that men don’t have to wrestle with every facial follicle, gas the armpits with chemicals, stand in front of the mirror trying to artfully arrange the sagging tire and pudgy chest?

I’d argue that nothing is healthier for your self esteem than a few weeks padding around in pj’s and bedhead because you’ll see when you go out that so is everyone else. We’re all the same when wearing our skin, and the only people who want us to look perfect–the way we never were and never will be–are the ones who want to sell us something.

And of course the ultimate fashion breakdown? Indoor cycle training. Adieu expensive kit. Adieu fashionable glasses. Adieu matchy-matchy, and hello sopping, sweaty, pale flesh gushing rivers onto a rubber mat.

Hello, no one can see you now.

Hello, maybe they never could.


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