Making a difference

September 18, 2017 § 20 Comments

On Sunday I got up and rode to the Center of the Known Universe, where about a hundred fellow lizard collectors had gathered to do the weekly club ride. We left CotKU in a rather unruly fashion, as might have been expected.

I hadn’t wanted to go because I was tired from the day before, and from the day before, and from the day before, all the way back to last Saturday. But it was going to be the annual club photo followed by a club video riding out on PCH. The photos and video were being shot by our club’s biggest sponsor, BeachBody Performance.


Every year they pour a very significant amount of money into our club. Not fake money, cash money. In addition to that, they provide the club with mountains of their energy/protein/magic powders. One of the mountains is free, the other mountain is at a greatly reduced cost. The total value of the real cash plus the powder mountains approaches six figures. For all I know, it exceeds it.

Our club, unaffectionately known as Team Lizard Collectors but affectionately known as Big Orange Cycling, cannot possibly generate six figures in sales for BeachBody. I know this because scientists have shown over and over that no organism is as cheap and tight-fisted as the serious avid recreational Internet-coached profamateur delusional hobby Cat 4 bicyclist.

What does BeachBody get out of it? For the last few years they have gotten this: A plague of brightly colored lizard collectors swooping through the streets of coastal Los Angeles doing what we lizard collectors do best, that is, have fun. Whether we are in Mallorca, Holland, France, Italy, Croatia, Japan, or home in Los Angeles, we are all oranged-up in our, er, distinctive kits (some of which, for a club called “Big Orange,” are inexplicably all-green), and we prominently display BeachBody’s logo and demonstrate BeachBody’s ethos, which is to go forth and have fun even if you look pretty silly doing it.

This sponsor has been directly responsible for the addition of countless riders into organized cycling. Our club offers skills training, urban riding skills classes, racing clinics, and a weekly club ride that focuses on getting yelled at for five solid hours by Dear Leader G3, which is probably the best simulation for bike racing ever. Some of our most highly talented new riders such as K-Sulk have learned to tell people to “Fuck off!” with the ease and practiced raised middle finger as if he had been racing for decades.

In short, without telling Big Orange what to do, BeachBody Performance has made it possible to expand programs and activities that popularize cycling and that make cycling safer. More fun. More safety. Healthier lifestyle. Have a nice day and here’s a wad of cash to go with it!

And although most people use BeachBody goodies and find them very beneficial to their fake bicycling careers, not everyone in the club consumes our sponsor’s replacement drinks, electrolytes, and radiator fluid. Some people, like me, drink water for the first hundred miles of every ride and bonk for the rest of it, suffering horrible exhaustion, cramps, diarrhea, logorrhea, vomiting, migraines, graphomania, and rectal dysfunction for a couple of weeks. It’s not because we don’t like the sponsored product, it’s because we are simply used to doing things the old-fashioned way, i.e. dumbly.

In the same vein, all riders don’t utilize all of the other sponsors’ services. For example, not everyone gets run over by a car in order to purchase a certain bike injury lawyer’s services. Not everyone replaces all of the windows (Nuckles), breaks all of the indoor plumbing (Penta), or purchases 300 pairs of socks (Torrence) simply to satisfy the sponsor. BeachBody doesn’t care. They only insist that we keep riding and that we keep having fun.

They continue to be a committed and genuine advocate for riding bikes in LA. They make a difference, and it’s appreciated. And as hard as it is for us to go out and ride our bikes and have a good time week in and week out, it’s a sacrifice we’re all willing to make. Thanks!



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Sugar blues

September 12, 2017 § 28 Comments

I once had the prettiest girlfriend named Kerry. She had red hair, she was Irish, and she was from the County of Kerry. She was also a ranked tennis player and a really good triathlete. I don’t know what she saw in me and eventually she didn’t either.

One evening I noticed a book next to her bed called “Sugar Blues.” Maybe the fact that I was in her bedroom and checking out her books was part of what was ultimately missing. It was such a good title though that I couldn’t help opening it up. Maybe the fact that I was in her bedroom at night and reading her books was the other part of what ultimately was missing.

The book was all about how sugar was the reason for the downfall of every civilization since the beginning of time, and ours was next. It was a wacky book but attention grabbing. “Hey, look at this!” I excitedly told her as I browsed through the part about Babylon. I still remember her sitting on the edge of the bed in a negligee not looking especially excited about me being especially excited about the role of sugar in ancient Babylon.

“Oh,” I thought, and threw down the book. But it was too late.

I did later buy a copy of the book and read it. It was nutty except for its premise, that refined sugar isn’t very good for you. I tried to quit eating sugar for a few days but, uh, no fuggin’ way.

A couple of months ago a good friend of mine got Keto religion. The Keto diet is like the Paleo diet except even less fun, which is like being depilated with an electric iron, except less fun.

Every time I would check in on my friend, she would report on her Keto diet. Leaving aside the fact that she looked fantastic, the diet had been good for her. Blood sugar had dropped from pre-diabetic to normal, etc. So I was glad for her but also insanely jealous, mostly because I knew there was no way in hell I could ever do a Keto diet. My last foray into weight mismanagement had been several years ago with the infamous kimchi diet, self developed in the laboratory of Seth Davidson, Bicycle Injury Lawyer, and it resulted in significant weight loss accompanied by world class flatulence, notable even for a blogger and bike racer.

So I knew the Keto diet wouldn’t work for me, not only because I’m a Capricorn but also because, at 153 pounds and 5’11”, I’m already what the World Health Organization calls “malnourished.” Yes, we may ideate Jeff Konsmo’s 132 pounds of bone, translucent skin, and subcutaneously visible gristle, but recent data suggest that even he won’t be racing the Tour this year, so, no Keto diet for you, old feller.

But, but, but …

I did like the idea of no refined sugar and I am a touch competitive and what if?

So a couple of months ago I quit eating sweets. And if a thing obviously had sugar added to it, I quit eating that, too. And I haven’t missed any of it. In fact, when I dug into my wife’s blueberry cobbler on Sunday after the Big Day ride, I was done after one small piece. She uses very little sugar, but it was so cloyingly sweet I could barely choke it down. Here’s what I’ve found after this little experiment:

  1. Your sense of taste gets much more acute, just like when you cover your eyes for a few minutes and your hearing immediately sharpens. I think sugar overwhelms all other taste perceptions, and once it’s gone, you actually start to taste more.
  2. Naturally sweet things are sweet beyond belief. Bananas now are almost too sweet to eat. Half a banana sweetens an entire bowl of oatmeal, and I do mean “sweetens.”
  3. No weight loss. Sorry.
  4. I had my one and only physical about 30 years ago, so no idea what effect it’s had on my blood sugar, but I’m guessing it’s less sugary.
  5. No more sugar spikes followed by sugar crashes.
  6. On our Big Day on Saturday, I took a few squares of bread and unsweetened peanut butter. It did just fine. When I finally ran out of gas at Cross Creek, 30 miles from home, I drank a small bottle of whole milk and washed it down with a can of Starbucks espresso. Yes, it had sugar, and yes, I got a quick spike, but the fat in the whole milk is what got me the rest of the way home. Plus I was fuggin’ desperate and Surfer Dan was actually eating a foot-long Subway.
  7. You realize that everything is flavored with sugar.
  8. I enjoy the taste of things that were previously inedible without sweetening, and it reminds me of when I was in Iriomote-jima, where the only vegetables available were tropical vegetables. Tropical vegetables are to vegetables what British cuisine is to cuisine. At the time I couldn’t believe how bad everything tasted. But now I realize that all of those strange things simply had their own taste and if you didn’t spend a lifetime salting and sweetening everything, you’d probably learn to like it. Especially if you were hungry.
  9. Diminished hunger.

There you have it.



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The skinny

September 5, 2017 § 25 Comments

Back in April I was reading Steve Tilford’s blog and came across one of his musings on air conditioning/heating and whether or not it caused weight gain. He thought that being hot and sweating burned more calories than sitting under the AC.

It makes sense. So I thought about it as a general proposition. Maybe the solution to trying to stay warm when it’s cold out, or trying to stay cool when it’s hot out, starts with foregoing as much clothing as possible and letting your body do the regulating.

I chucked my hoodies and knit caps and started going around in a t-shirt full time. Of course in Southern California that’s no great feat, since the weather here is pretty much perfect year-round. But if it’s so perfect, why do so many people wear so much warm clothing in the winter? And why do they wilt any time it gets over 90 degrees?

The obvious answer is that no matter how balmy the weather, when you depend on clothing and climate control to make things perfect, anything less than perfect sends you scurrying for a jacket or howling for an air conditioner.

My experiment is about four months in, and I can assure you that it hasn’t caused any weight loss. But what I have noticed, especially during my recent jaunt to Las Vegas, is that my body quickly, almost instantaneously, adjusts to the ambient air temperature. I could go from the frigid casino to the outdoor inferno and acclimate right away. I could re-enter the air-conditioned environs and within a minute or two be sufficiently warm to not even think about putting on a jacket.

The only time during my three days in Vegas that I had to wear a dress shirt and sport coat, I was unbearably hot. I’m not claiming that I could easily walk around in the extreme Vegas heat, either. One day I spent about thirty minutes on the Strip mid-day, and I took a pounding. No natural acclimation in the world will accommodate 110 degrees.

But upon returning to the South Bay in the midst of a horrible heat wave that saw (gasp!) temperatures in the high 90’s, I had no problems at all. It was hot but far from unbearable, or even miserable.

We’ll see how this fares when we hit the frigid winter temps that will certainly dive down into the low 60’s or even high 50’s; brutal stuff. In any event, I’ll save on winter clothes.



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Your covfefe

August 25, 2017 § 17 Comments

Got this email:

Hey Wanky,

Hope all is well. Life’s dandy here with two little kids. Things are very quiet and organized, no messes, and I have everything totally under control. Really.

However, I’m basically in dire need of covfefe on a regular basis. By “regular basis” I mean every thirty minutes or so. Who knew that herding two small children was like doing a Tour stage twice a day? I’m routinely dissatisfied with the usual whole roasted beans that are then ground up at home. They taste like unko and my coffee expenses now exceed my rent.

I’m curious about where you get your raw beans and what your technique for roasting them in a pan is. I’d be grateful for your fake news report. If the covfefe has enough kick, I might even be able to ride my bike once a month. Not that everything isn’t totally under control, of course.

Have a good evening,
Burnsy McBurnston

To which I replied:

Hi, Burnsy

Covfefe advice is highly personal, I’ve found, not unlike bedroom positions. And once you start roasting your own covfefe you kind of have to find your own way. As with cycling, the first best step is to ignore everyone and fail on your own. Only then can you find the failure method that is right for you. However, you’ve reached out, and like a lot of my cyclist friends, have reached out to the wrong person.

Nonetheless, here is my method:

  1. Buy from Usually I buy in 50-lb. quantities. This lasts forever x 1,000, even at your obvious desperation rate of consumption.
  2. I don’t care about quality of the green beans, only price. My palate and roasting technique are not sophisticated enough to discern the difference, but my wallet is.
  3. Green beans last for 20 years. So there are no spoilage issues if you “overbuy.” As if there were such a thing regarding covfefe.
  4. Use a large cast-iron frying pan. Costs $24 at Wal-Mart. This is a store that you, as a cyclist, have likely never heard of.
  5. Get a big wooden spoon.
  6. Set the fire on 5-6 if electric, low-medium if gas.
  7.  Put 1 cup of beans in the big-ass dry skillet. Resist the temptation to put in more than a cup, because in a frying pan they will get on top of each other and roast even less consistently than they are already going to. Using a frying pan to make covfefe is like using a stick to make a fire when in your left pants pocket you have a giant box of Strike Wherever matches.
  8. Stir continually for 20 minutes until the covfefe is the color you want. This is highly personal/trial-and-error. No one can help you here, even a yogi or a pretty woman in LuLu Lemons. If you err on the side of too light the covfefe will be bitter and green tasting with overtones of battery acid. I kind of like this but normal people retch. If you err on the side of too dark, the covfefe will be burned at the stake and taste like Joan of Arc.

There are numerous YouTube videos showing how to fry your own beans in a pan. Most home roasters start with a pan and quickly graduate to popcorn poppers or actual countertop roasters. The reason for this is that pan roasting sucks. I’ve been pan roasting for a couple of years and have no intention of upgrading. Why? Because down that path likes madness, expertise, and no cost savings.

Pan covfefe is a Schwinn Varsity. Once you start dropping people on the group ride with flat pedals and downtube shifters, you will be bike-shamed until you upgrade, unless you have the fortitude of Shirtless Keith. I can only urge you to be a Shirtless Keith roaster. When you seek to achieve truly great covfefe home roasting, it is worse than home brewing. It will consume you.

The downside to pan beans is uneven roasting. Some beans will be perfect, some black, some not quite brown enough. Cognoscenti will scoff. “Where is your 100% carbon roaster made of carbon that is all carbon?” they will sneer.

However, your unko covfefe will taste better than any coffee you have ever bought. Why is an unko roast at home better than a super expensive, perfectly evenly roasted batch bought at a specialty coffee roaster for $18.00 per 12-oz. thievery bag?

Easy: Because your beans are freshly roasted and theirs have been on the shelf for a week or more. 90% of covfefe ‘staste depends on its freshness after being roasted. So in reality, bought covfefe , even when it has a maddeningly addictive name like “Intelligentsia” or “Handlebar” only has 10% of the overall taste that can be manipulated by type of bean, skill of roast, etc. The covfefe game is won and lost first in freshness. It’s like getting a 90-mile head start in a 100-mile road race. No matter how much excellent doping your competition does, you will win on your Schwinn Varsity.

After cooking, your beans are ready to grind and drink immediately, although experts say you should wait 2-3 days to let the flavor maximize. I say that you’re probably roasting beans because you ran out the night before and were too lazy to fry up a new batch, and if you have to wait another minute someone will be killed, so drink it immediately.

Also, I’m too dull to tell the difference. Still, it cracks me up when people wax on about their favorite coffee and how it’s so much better than X brand. Once it’s roasted and bagged, the clock is ticking, and the bomb will go off long before you ever make your first cup, much less before you get to the bottom of the bag.

After the beans are roasted, let them cool. You’ll notice in the roasting process that a thin husk is cooked off the beans and remains as detritus. Don’t drink the husk.

Before you grind the beans, using two fine colanders, spoon out the amount of beans you want to grind. I grind four large tablespoons for about 2 cups of coffee. This makes a strong and bold taste, and I make it in a French press for more Euro-fakery and cheapness. Then, pour the beans into the other colander. You’ll see that this pour-back-and-forth action separates out the husks. At the very end you can pick the few husks that remain with your fingers. It sounds like a pain, but it isn’t; takes a minute at the most. Yasuko grinds up the husks and I can never tell the difference. I’m not OCD but the husks are shit. Why drink unko if you don’t have to?

The best way to test your covfefe is to serve it to people who come over to your house or shabby apartment. They will say it’s fantastic, the best they’ve ever had, wow, etc., and be embarrassed that they have a $10,000 Italian espresso machine whose coffee is worse than yours. Only then can you tell them it’s home roasted in a pan and watch their eyes bug out.

I will say that roasting your own covfefe in a pan is kind of magical. It takes time and forces you to take a time out from life. We need time outs. Not to the extent that we’re spinning our own yarn and weaving fabric on a hand loom, perhaps, but we need some connection between what we consume and how it’s prepared.

Second, it’s incredibly cheap. No explanation required on that one, right?

Third, it’s lights-out. If you can resist the temptation to become an expert and can be satisfied with the daily great grind you’re roasting and drinking, pan covfefe is an amazing addition to your life. The only down side is that the roasting process becomes very smoky at the end. You’ll need your kitchen vent and fan going full blast (or open tent flap if you live under one of LA’s scenic freeways), and a window or two open if you have it. The initial cooking smell is marvelous but it becomes less so the longer you roast. The smell quickly goes away, but there’s a reason that commercial roasters only roast after midnight and are located in sparsely inhabited or poor areas of town. Think refineries …

Now, go forth and roast.



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Dollar Bad Shave Club

May 25, 2017 § 27 Comments

Cyclists shave. And they shave a bunch, all over. Here, there, you-know-where. And eventually they get around to Dollar Shave Club because hey, there are only so many times you can drag your wife’s Barbie razor over your 1/2-inch man leg stubble that’s stiffer than concertina wire before she opens an artery trying to shave her pits with the razor that your legs turned into a chain saw.


I tried Dollar Shave Club and liked it because, dollar.

The problem is that along with the cheapie razor cartridges they also send a newsletter and it’s all about shaving. They should not do that. They should send a newsletter that’s all about how to make a good cup of coffee, or how to properly lube a chain, or how to get GoJo out of your wife’s toothbrush.

Because when they write all about shaving it gets you to paying attention to shaving, and in general no man worth the name spends any time at all beyond the absolute grooming minimum unless he’s in heat, i.e., single. This desultory attitude towards shaving is why we have disposable safety razors.

Have you ever tried to slit your throat with a safety razor? Can’t be done. But just as it can’t open a jugular, nor can it cut facial hair very well, even when your chin is adorned with soft, sparse, feathery, little-girl down like mine is. And here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how many stupid blades they put on the cartridge because one crappy blade followed by six more crappy blades still won’t give your man weeds a clean cut.

What it will do is cover your face in clear slime, because in addition to being too lazy to get a good shave, Gillette divined that most men are also too lazy to put anything on their face before shaving besides soap, which causes them to get an even crappier shave and gruesome razor burn and blame the razor.

So the modern shaving experience is taking a dull child’s butter knife, dragging it carelessly across your face, scraping off the gelgoo, and staggering in late to work under a cloud of bad cologne.

Dollar Shave Club and their newsletter get you to thinking about how good is your shave, really, and after about six months you go to their website and learn that to get an actual good shave you have to upgrade to the fancy model which is no longer Dollar Shave Club but Many Dollars Shave Club. So then you start googling because you are a bike racer who likes 100% carbon that is made of pure carbon and you don’t want any cheapass clincher razors on aluminum rims.

That’s when you find some nutty millenium dude’s 42-page blog post about shaving with a straight razor. Yeah, those things that people used to kill each other with.

I can sum up everything you possibly need to know about shaving with a straight razor in a few words: Don’t you dare fucking do it. I’m talking to you, wanker.

I can tell you this because I almost did it, and even though I avoided slit throat syndrome, I wound up with most of my face scraped off and a dangling, half-shorn lip. Here’s how it happened.

I went to the CVS to get a cheapo straight razor, one of those plastic deals that the hair gal uses to shave the hair on your neck. I figured that before spending $2,500 on a carbon razor (yes, carbon) that will last my great-great-grandsons all their lives, and buying a whetstone, razor strop, a luxury badger hair shaving brush, and a roll of facial Tegaderm, I would try straight razor shaving with a low-budget model to see if I liked it.

Fortunately for me, the CVS didn’t have what I was looking for. Instead they had one of those old-timey safety razors like your dad used to use if you are over 50, a steel handle with a steel head that opens up and takes an actual two-sided razor blade.

“Yeah,” I thought. “It’s only twenty bucks and if I like it maybe I can graduate up to a straight razor, which, come to think of it looks kind of gnarly.”

So I went home and canceled my Dollar Bad Shave Club membership and eagerly awaited the morn. When it came I showered, wet my face, and — oops — realized I was out of shaving cream. “No big deal,” I thought.

Note to reader: BIG DEAL. VERY BIG DEAL.

So I took a couple of passes over my face with a bar of Ivory soap, loaded the razor blade, and got to work.

In this case, “work” meant shaving like I do with a Dollar Bad Shave Club razor. Fast, hard and long strokes. Mashing, baby. Gonna mow the fuggin’ face lawn today, so GTF outta my way.

I will pause here to note that a two-sided German razor blade made of tempered steel is a very different beast from a Dollar Bad Shave Club throwaway toy razor. I will pause here to note that unhappily, in my haste, I did four mega-monster swipes all the way down to my Adam’s apple. I will pause here to note that my face and throat were suddenly covered in the bright, Christmastime-red of a freshly gutted cat and my upper lip was mostly separated from the flesh nearest my nose.

You see, with a real razor (and keep in mind that this isn’t nearly as sharp or as lethal as a straight razor), you have to take very slow, careful, short, deliberate strokes that are made on top of a thick layer of shaving cream, otherwise you simply scrape off most of your face, leaving only exposed nerve endings, sliced capillaries, an open vein or two, cascades of gore, and a dangling lip that looks like cleft palate surgery gone bad.

In a real stroke of good luck, I did not bleed out, and more importantly, I had stopped shaving my legs years ago. If I had started off in the shower with this beast I would certainly have sliced right through my Achilles tendon, and perhaps all the way to Guadalajara as well.

Eventually my face scabbed over, which was attractive. I will pause here to note that face plaster doesn’t work for gashes more than four inches long by two inches deep.

Once the scabs fell away and the keloid scars smoothed over, I resumed using the razor. Slow, short, gentle, deliberate strokes and you’re good to go.

But you might want to stick to your wife’s Barbie razor on your legs unless you’re handy with a needle and sutures.



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Ill health

April 21, 2017 § 36 Comments

I’ve noticed that cyclists seem to get sick a lot, and bike racers, crazy sick. One person gets a cold and then everyone gets it. You’d think that with all the fitness and healthy lifestyle, especially the deep-fried kettle chips, bike racers would never get sick. But they do.

And if they’re not sick, they’re hurt. You don’t hardly have to ask a bike racer how they are doing. They will never say, “Great!” or “My legs are off the hook!” or “Amazing!”

Instead they will tell you about their whooping cough, or their dysentery, or their inflamed urethra, or their separated shoulder, toothache, etc. I know that Tour de France riders are so fit they constantly hover between immaculate form and dropping out of the race due to a summer cold. Apparently the fitter you are, past a certain point, the weaker your immune system.

I never say never, but I’m never sick. Maybe once every couple of years I get a legit cold with sniffles and an annoying fever, but the last time I was in bed due to illness was a long time ago. There was the time in 2015 when I broke my nutsack and got laid up for a short while, but other than that, pretty much nothing. And although I always feel gutted after a hard ride or race, it only takes a day or so to bounce back and feel great again.

One reason I don’t get sick is that I’m never really all that fit, certainly not razor fit. The only way my belly muscles would ever get cut is if I shaved them with a rusty razor. So there’s no way I’m going to ever be hovering on the precipice of supreme fitness with a compromised immune system.

The other reason is that growing up I was a filthy little kid. I bathed once or twice a month until I was thirteen. The only way to get the dirt and grime off was to sweat, and in Texas we did that a lot. Our dog Fletcher was covered in fleas and the fleas always had a secondary feast on us. Plus there were ticks. Sometimes you wouldn’t find them for a week or so, until they had swelled up into giant green blobs that exploded like blood bombs when you popped their abdomens. Then the head would stay lodged under your skin and get infected, and you’d usually end up cutting open the infection with a filthy pocket knife to drain the pus. As a little kid bonus my brother and I would always sniff the other one’s festering sore. “Gross!” we would shriek happily.

We had lots of cats, and they’d scratch us and bite us pretty regularly. Nothing is nastier than a cat scratch. The giant red welts would last for days and sometimes get infected. Outside we’d get stung by everything, mosquitoes of course, but also honeybees because we loved to try to catch them and put them in jars, bumblebees, and yellow jackets. Nothing was more fun than pelting a giant yellow jacket nest with rocks and then running. No matter how many times we learned that you can’t outrun wasps, we’d do it all over again.

My point is that as a child I must have developed a very strong immune system as an alternative to being dead. I’m sure I got sick, but I sure don’t ever remember it. What I remember is playing sick to get out of school, but that only worked a few times a year.

As a cyclist I think a lot of my immune system strengthening comes from water bottles. There is nothing as nasty as a water bottle. You can try to clean them as much as you want, but the manufacturers make the nozzles so that they can’t really be cleaned. They’re like mini-toilets that can’t ever be flushed. Finally it just gets so disgusting that you throw it away and buy a new one, otherwise, who would ever replace a water bottle? I never do that. I will drink from a nasty water bottle until the rubber rots off. What’s a little gangrene or encephalitis?

Between my water bottles and my mediocre fitness, I hope to not encounter sickness for many years to come. But you can still tell me about yours.




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How marketing works

December 23, 2016 § 14 Comments

Someone posted a link to this Velonews podcast on Facebag: Why you are an idiot for riding in cold weather with bare legs. I usually ride with bare legs and am always attracted to people who call me an idiot, hence my involvement in bicycle advocacy issues and my involvement with bike racing.

I don’t often listen to podcasts about bicycling unless it’s SoCal Cyclist because bicycling themes bore me horribly, especially when they are devoted to how I can improve, get faster, better cope with my decrepitude, etc. I have been doing this long enough to know that I stopped improving at around age 28 and have been declining ever since.

But the link caught my eye so against my best judgment I clicked on it and was treated to Exhibit 1 of Why Roadies Are Assholes. The podcast was so contemptuous of everyone who didn’t know that riding with cold legs was bad, and the “physiologist” who pontificated on how bad it was for you exhibited two amazing qualities.

  1. He broke out into a hot sweat every time he said the word “pro,” which was every fifth word, rolling the word with love and smoky adulation off his tongue.
  2. He illustrated his point with that most awesome of roadie techniques, giving an example of the time he chewed out some rider in front of other people for wearing the wrong clothing, shaming the rider into hiding at the back for the rest of the ride. In real life this makes you a dick. In road cycling you think this makes you cool, but not really.

It didn’t escape my attention that the “expert” was a physiologist whose photo I’ve never seen leading the peloton up La Redoute, but was rather some wannabe, over-the-hill, not-good-enough hobby biker who compensated for his failings as an athlete by being a dick who lectured others with unasked for “pro tips.”

The podcast was miserable in other ways as well. It had three salient points that could have been made in two minutes, but instead he crammed them into an interminably boring lecture that I never reached the end of. The points were:

  1. You should overdress, not underdress.
  2. Keeping the chill off your legs prevents damage to the muscles.
  3. Professional cyclists dress warmly when it’s even remotely cool.

My winter wardrobe is painfully thin. I have one pair of knee warmers and an ancient pair of Pearl Izumi thermal tights that saw much use in Japan and Texas but have seen zero use in SoCal. And despite the condescension of the podcast it made me nervous.

Was I ruining my muscles by riding unprotected? Were my patellar tendons turning into rusty piano wires? Most importantly, was I jeopardizing my chances of  pro contract to ride the Tour in 2017? And most most most importantly, would Alberto Contador smirk at me if I ran across him on the Donut and he saw me riding bare-legged, forcing me to ride in shame at the back of the group?

I did my best to resist the temptation, but could not. The PayPal account was positive. The call of new clothing was a siren song. I crawled like a drunk, fallen hard off the wagon, down the aisle of Competitive Cyclist Men’s Clothing, hands trembling, mouth dry, and clicked “purchase.”

Oh well. It’s Christmas somewhere.



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