September 29, 2015 § 32 Comments
With the publicity surrounding his rock star tour to the USA, I’ve been wondering what the Pope thinks about bicycles.
Now don’t mistake me. I like this pope.
He seems like a good guy, and very un-Catholic for a Pope: Bringing down the hammer on the rich, extolling immigrants, championing the environment, and urging us to live up to our American ideals (funny, I thought we were already doing a pretty good job of hating foreigners, starting foreign wars, devouring the planet, and guns).
But what does the Pope think about bicycles? Turns out he talks a pretty solid line. In an informal audience given a couple of years ago, he criticized people seeking flashy new cars and talked about how happy it made him when he sees his personal secretary pedaling around on a bicycle.
Then a couple of days ago he was gifted with a bike from the City of Philadelphia.
As it turns out, like most PR, he talks a pretty good game but admits that for him, “cars are a necessity.” It’s kind of one of those “do as I say, not as I do” deals. Catholics will understand.
Still, there’s something really problematic about all this, and it’s sort of related to bicycles and the fact that the Pope says one thing but does another. Let’s imagine this:
A major corporation — say, Volkswagen — while it is manufacturing cars, puts in place a system whereby it also rapes several hundred thousand children. The assembly line is boring, so to spice things up the managers bring in young children and together with the the workers rape them over and over and over. And over and over.
In fact, the child raping becomes an ingrained and profound part of the corporate culture, and it’s such a popular pastime that even, or especially, guys in the head office partake in child raping from time to time. The children’s lives are predictably ruined. Occasionally a few children complain about getting raped to shit and having their lives destroyed but their complaints are either ignored, or hush money is paid, or the outed rapist gets shifted over to the assembly line in Mexico (where he rapes little Mexican kids).
Then, people get tired of the child raping and the big corporation is called to account. It pays out billions, apologizes, fires a few people, and makes a big deal about its new corporate culture. “Eco-Friendly Cars and No Child Raping!”
Then the company hires a new CEO and he’s all about eco-friendliness and being nice to children instead of raping them. And THEN the new CEO plans a tour of the USA. Would the President meet with him? Would he be invited to address Congress? Would millions throng the streets to welcome him?
Would he be given a new bike?
September 22, 2015 § 22 Comments
The rider, Dan Funk, emailed me a copy of the citation and asked my professional opinion, and after the cursing finished I told him that it was a bogus ticket and that he should fight it. The problem is that he got the ticket riding on Angeles Crest and although he lives in West LA, the ticket was assigned to West Covina. This is like living in Manhattan and having to go to court in South Carolina, only the drive from Manhattan is faster and there’s less traffic.
The place where he was ticketed was absurd; there’s no shoulder and the only place you can ride is in the travel lane. In Dan’s case, he was actually trying to hug the fog line, and even then the cop pulled him over and ticketed him. “What’s this ticket for?” asked Dan.
“We’ve been ticketing motorists so we have to ticket some cyclists to balance it out,” advised the CHP cop.
You know, it’s the policy of equal enforcement, and I kind of like it, and wish they would apply it in other areas. “For every black person we arrest, we’re going to arrest a white person.”
“For every poor person we execute, we’re going to execute a rich one.”
It would bring some much needed change to our criminal justice system, and it’s a concept we could apply to other areas as well. “We’ve been giving out lots of tax breaks to big corporations, so we have to give tax breaks to ordinary people, too.”
Or what about this? “We’ve been letting abortion activists burn down clinics and shoot doctors, so we’re going to burn down some churches and shoot a few fundie pastors.”
There’s a lot to be said for equality.
Dan and I took the day off and met at West Covina. The courtroom filled with CHP cops. “This looks like a court where they show up,” I said. “Recognize any of these guys?”
“Nope. Mine was a motorcycle cop.” They were all in patrol car costumes.
Finally a very badass moto cop strutted in. “That him?” I asked.
Our case got called and dismissed, and we celebrated by getting to drive through eighteen more hours of traffic to get home.
Next time, under the principle of equality, I’m going to ask the judge if he’ll make a random CHP cop have to drive home in the back seat with me.
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September 17, 2015 § 44 Comments
Before bike video cameras and dumb phones and such, I used to practice memorizing license plates of passing cars. You never knew when some cager would buzz you or hit you and if you couldn’t identify the car the police wouldn’t do anything.
I always had a chip on my shoulder about law enforcement that didn’t care about cyclists, a chip that grew with each passing stop-sign-blowing citation. As a buddy mused the other day, and I agreed, “You know, I can’t work up outrage anymore at senseless cager killings.” He was referring to the gal who was looking for her mascara and swerved onto the shoulder, killing a cyclist, then overcorrecting into oncoming traffic and killing a motorcyclist.
Thankfully, though, she wasn’t charged or even taken in for questioning. Ventura County law enforcement is understanding like that.
My pal and I agreed that the constant stream of killings, buzzings, screamings, harassings, abusings, and throwings has made us numb. Another one bites the dust? That’s what you get for riding a bicycle, you were warned. Warned, for example, by entities like the Boston Globe, which ran a nice editorial about how bicycling is dangerous so get off the fuggin’ street.
Closer to home, The Daily Breeze champions the cause of repressed and downtrodden cagers in the South Bay.
On my afternoon pedal along PV Drive West today I heard the catcall behind me followed by the deep hum of fat tires. PV High School had just released its Adderall-addled spoiled children from their playpen, and what could be more fun than hauling your brand new Jeep Wrangler stuffed with two friends within a foot of a grumpy old fart and pelting him with a sandwich?
I swung over after forcing my middle finger back into position and dialed 911. The PVPD dispatcher took my information. “What kind of car was it?”
“2014 or 2015 Jeep Wrangler, black.”
“Did you get the license plate?”
“In fact I did. 7LBC437.”
She was kind of surprised. “And you’re on a bike?”
“I’ll send a car out. Stay there.”
“But … ”
So I stayed. The cops arrived, and one of them was the same officer who had pulled me over and ticketed me the month before. He smiled when he saw me. They took my statement and then their radios beeped. “Just a second,” said one. He listened, then looked up at me. “Well, we’ve apprehended them. Do you want to press charges?”
“We’ll need you to come make a field identification. They’re just up the road.”
“Great,” I said, but in reality I thought, “FUCKING AWESOME! THIS NEVER HAPPENS!”
Things soon got complicated, though. I had ID’d three boys, but in fact the driver was a boy and the thrower was a girl. They grilled me about whether I could identify her. “No,” I admitted. “I thought they were all guys. Plus, I was so busy not crashing and memorizing the license plate and model of the car … ”
The cops nodded sympathetically. Later, another cop came, this time the head supervisor. He was direct. “If he tried to hit you with his car it’s assault with a deadly weapon. You want to press charges?”
“Yes,” I said.
He was all business and had exactly zero sympathy for these rich little brats. “Okay. Let’s go do a field ID.”
“Just a sec,” I said. “I didn’t get hit. I don’t want these kids to go to jail.” I thought about my own youth, the felonies I’d committed, the people who had given me a second chance (or third, or fourth), and about how different my life would be if I’d started out life with a felony conviction.
“So you don’t think he intended to hit you?”
“If he’d intended to hit me I’d be dead now.”
“What was he doing, then?”
“He was trying to get close enough so that his girlfriend could whack me with some ham and mustard.”
“That sounds like reckless driving to me.”
“Officer,” I said, “maybe pressing charges and dragging this kid’s sorry ass through the courts will change him. But what I’d really rather have happen is that, while he’s in your custody, he comes to appreciate the seriousness of what he’s done.”
“The girls are in tears and he practically is, too. We’ve got him in our database and we’re making a report and will refer it to the city attorney, who can file charges if she wants to. I think he’s terrified.”
“I’d like to let it go, then.”
The officer nodded. “Okay.”
“And one other thing.”
“Your guys popped me for running a stop sign the other day and it always seems like you take bicycle stop sign violations more seriously than motorists trying to kill cyclists.”
“And your presence and actions today have convinced me I’m wrong. Thanks for chasing those kids down.”
“It’s our job.”
“I know,” I said. “And thank you for doing it.”
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September 14, 2015 § 16 Comments
I hope everyone will take the day off on November 18, 2015, to join me and my friends for a super celebration at the Torrance Courthouse, 8:30 AM, Department 3. It’s going to be awesome!
We will all gather to show our support for Ryan Michael Marco, who is being UNFAIRLY arraigned for violating Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), which reads in pertinent part:
Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
Ol’ Ryan, who I’m sure is a fine, upstanding family man who would never beat his wife for burning the canned chili, will be having an arraignment party as a result of assaulting a local cyclist in PV with his work truck. It is something of a long story, and hardly worth retelling because it happens so often, but in this instance Ol’ Ryan committed his alleged crime in the presence of a peace officer and was ultimately charged for his alleged misdeeds.
Most of the time that a cager tries to kill a cyclist, or when, as in Milton Olin’s case, they actually do, law enforcement looks the other way or gives them a certificate of merit. Sad to say this didn’t happen with Ol’ Ryan, and he’s now staring down the barrel of a felony. The mean old LA Sheriff’s Department at the Lomita Substation has taken the crazy position that you can’t try to run over cyclists for sport. Are they messed up or what?????
You’re probably wondering how you can help this cool dude? How you can show your support? How you can let him know that he’s loved because deep down inside he probably only meant to partially kill the cyclist rather than waste him completely?
Join me and my other cycling buddies for Ol’ Ryan’s arraignment where we can show our moral support as cyclists for poor, misunderstood homicidal cagers who are just having a bit of fun on the way to work. Plus, the city attorney needs to see that we think there’s nothing wrong with trying to kill people who dress up in clown suit underwear while pedaling bicycles, as long as the attempt is all in fun.
After Ol’ Ryan’s arraignment we will hold a candlelight vigil in the parking lot and stomp a ceremonial baby seal to show our moral support for this victim of the judicial system. A collection will also be taken up to pay for his legal defense fund, and we will take this miscarriage of justice all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to!!!!
Thank you and see you there!
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August 11, 2015 § 38 Comments
Yesterday I blogged about some traffic tickets that we, a fearsome threesome of stretchy-underwear clad older fellows and a twig-man, incurred when we violated California Vehicle Code Section 42123.234(i)a-delta.
In other words, we ran a stop sign.
The Palos Verdes Estates cops wagged their fingers and told us about how it was for our own good, even though there were no cars on the road, at the intersection, or anywhere except in the garages of the rich and infamous.
We drooped our dicks in the dirt and let them get stomped on, then went home, scolded, punished, and left to contemplate our misdeeds.
Then this morning I got this message from a friend driving to work in Palos Verdes Estates:
Hey, Wanky! Listen to this …
I was driving northbound on Palos Verdes Dr. at 6:26 AM in the No. 1 lane. As I was crossing Hawthorne, there was a dump truck in the No. 1 lane. The car in front of me moved into the No. 2 lane and passed the dump truck. I did the same thing, and so did the vehicle behind me, a white Ford pickup. As the two lanes merged into 1 lane, the white truck began tailgating my vehicle. We reached Silver Spur and the road opened up into two same-direction lanes again. I pulled into the No. 1 lane and the white truck merged into the No. 1 lane. I came to a complete stop, but the white truck went through the stop sign, not touching the brakes, which I could tell because his brake lights didn’t go on. I estimate his a speed at 20 to 25mph minimum. The exact speed was hard to judge because I was coming to a complete stop.
At this point I decided to call 911 because the operator was driving recklessly, and it occurred to me that he may have been drunk. When I crossed Silver Spur, continuing on PV Drive North, the truck slowed down to 25mph, and was now in front of my vehicle. It began to slow as we approached the next stop sign. At that moment the truck swerved towards me and rolled the stop sign, this time at 3 to 5 mph. I was still on the phone with dispatch giving them a license plate and description of the vehicle and merged back into the lane to proceed on my northbound route. I followed the vehicle to the stop sign before Malaga Cove, where it proceeded to stop at that stop sign for 45 to 60 seconds. I knew at this point that the driver was either documenting my vehicle or just trying to harass me with the long stop. As I was making a left into Malaga Cove, the vehicle pulled into the police station.
I realized that the driver was a PV Estates policeman, and was shocked at his reckless driving. I’m a cyclist and know that the PVEPD has recently been ticketing cyclists for running stop signs due to safety concerns. I couldn’t believe the intentionally reckless behavior of the driver, and was even more upset by his harassment. I immediately filed a verbal complaint with the watch commander.
At the time I thought it had to be some whackjob or high school kid driving like this … but it was a law enforcement officer, someone who is supposed to “serve and protect” not “endanger and kill.” On top of that he used scare tactics, swerving towards me in his personal vehicle, a Ford F250 with blacked-out windows and an American flag on the back. What a great American he is!
This cop has probably done this before and will likely do it again. If you had been on a bike, in a car, or on a horse, and had made a complete stop before trying to cross PV Drive north on Silverspur, you would have been severely injured or killed, even though you were obeying the law. He should be prosecuted and lose his job. I don’t think he realizes or cares how dangerous his behavior was.
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August 10, 2015 § 41 Comments
I was riding to the start of the Wheatgrass when I overtook the Wily Greek. The Captain then rolled up behind us. We were exactly on time, 7:59:59, and we could see the group massing in the parking lot at Malaga Cove. The downhill from PV North hits about 40 mph, and there wasn’t a single car on the road. We sped through the stop signs as we’ve done a million, make that a billion times before, and saw a cop waiting for us.
PA: “Pull over now!”
Three chunky $350.00 tickets and a long lecture curing which time two more squad cars were called in and a fourth drove by but was waved on. You never know when three skinny underwear-clad bikers, two eligible for AARP and one who weights 120 lbs. might get dangerous on you.
The first cop lit into Wily. “Didn’t I pull you over last week for the same thing and let you off with a warning?”
“Er, uh, duh,” Wily fuddled.
The cop was pissed and the other two stood back, watching this brief entertainment between donuts. Then we received The Lecture. You should know it by heart. I do.
- This is for your own good.
- Please stop running stop signs.
- We are only concerned about safety.
- No one here is picking on cyclists.
- Have a nice day.
None of us argued. How could we? We’d been caught red-pedaled, and excuses were only going to make matters worse, such as when Wily pretended not to have seen the 12-by-12 stop sign that was so big it blotted out the morning sun.
I certainly wasn’t going to argue, because Cop No. 3 was the same guy who’d ticketed me for blowing four consecutive stop signs a month ago on Via del Monte, and I was praying he didn’t recognize me. “We had to do 60 to catch you!” he’d said as he furiously scribbled the ticket that day.
We finished our ride and went home, sour.
That afternoon my new New Balance sneakers tore the tongue. It’s a long story, but they replaced my $35 Target shoes that had seen three months of hard wear and had biked across Germany. I’d gone to the Village Runner in Redondo Beach because of a little Internet blurb I read about how it’s better to patronize real running stores. The price of local patronage was $160, and thank dog I had cash left over from my trip and that there had been a place to sit down to keep from fainting.
As I pedaled to the shop I was worried because I’d paid in cash, and had tossed the receipt and the box. If I’d bought them at Target that would have been the end of it.
Then it occurred to me that I should change my ways, really, I should. So I stopped at every stop sign and stop light. Mostly.
The clerk, Francisco, immediately recognized me. “How do you like the shoes?”
“I love them, but they don’t love me.” I showed him the problem.
“We’ll replace them. We have another pair at the Manhattan Beach store. We’ll have them here for you tomorrow.”
“I can ride over there now.”
“Do you have the receipt?”
“Don’t worry–it’s all good.”
As I pedaled up the Five Corners intersection in Hermosa, which took me twelve years to reach even though it was five miles away because I stopped at every stop sign and light, I felt a faint glow of good civic-hood. I had finally become a mostly law-abiding cyclist. It was good to feel the approval of happy cagers as I stopped at each sign.
Then, crammed over into the nonexistent gutter to let a revving engine pass, a punk stuck his head out the window. “Get a fucking car or get off the road, asshole!”
I flipped him off and caught him at the stop sign. “What did you say?” I asked rather warmly.
“You want to pull over and find out?” he asked. “I’ll smash your fucking face in.”
“Yes, I’m pulling over now, in fact, to photograph your rustbox and call 911.”
He sped off, then did a u-turn. “Pull over, fuckhead, I’m parking and coming for you!”
I pulled over and dialed 911. He parked and came storming over with his two friends, who all began threatening and berating me as I spoke to the 911 operator. “Call the fucking police you fucking fuck fuck duh! We’ll tell them exactly what you did you asshole dickhead fucking fuck fuck duh!”
Three MB squad cars squealed up, then a fourth. A lady cop jumped out. The punkster began yapping as I stood several yards away. “Sit on the curb and shut up!” The color drained from all their faces and it got very quiet as she read them the riot act.
The fourth cop asked for my side of the story, which I told him, calmly.
“You did the right thing, sir, calling us and not letting it escalate. What would you like us to do?”
“Can you shoot each one of them in the head?”
“Then an apology would be great.” The punk was led over and he faked the words “I’m sorry,” but they choked him so badly he won’t swallow solid food for a week. Then they sent him on his way, not charging him with misdemeanor assault or with violating the 3-foot law, I suppose because I was just a bicyclist and the only thing that had happened was that I had almost died. I wondered what the punk would have been charged with if he’d intentionally tried to kill one of the cops.
When I got to the shoe store, the manager, Jeff, quickly swapped out my shoes, no questions asked. A better shopping experience I’ve never had. I mused that shopping local was expensive, risky, and fraught with tension.
“But it was worth it,” I told myself as I crawled home, stopping at every single stop sign and stop light, all 154 of them.
Stopping mostly, that is.
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June 10, 2015 § 55 Comments
Two days ago I ran a little thing about the NCNCA rule that prohibits outsiders, aliens, foreigners, ineligiblers, and anyone south of the Calmason-Caldixon Line from competing in the Elite District Championship Road Race, which is the state championship road race for the State of Northern California, the 51st star sewn onto Old Glory.
I was shocked that my nasty, rude, mean-spirited, offensive, and vitriolic post could possibly upset anyone, but it did, and the unhappy comments poured in, along with a new nickname, “Sparky,” bestowed by one Timothy Burgess, an NCNCA board member, non-racer, and Official Nickname Bestower. He also blessed the comment section with the phrase “penis wagging,” which was frankly a classic. It made me think of a dog, only standing up, sort of.
What was more shocking than the outrage was that anyone in NorCal agreed with me, but apparently two or seven people did. I will have to find out who they are and block them.
After the electrons settled, a couple of things became clear. One, I was wrong about the rule. NCNCA can do whatever they want and no one can stop them. One of the things they want to do — since 2013, as I was told on the phone — is to exclude every P/1/2 rider who doesn’t have “California–NCNCA” listed on their license from competing in their State of Northern California Elite District Championship Road Race, a/k/a the Pescadero RR.
I was wrong because apparently the USAC rule that defines eligibility for state championship road races (US citizen, resident of the state) doesn’t actually mean “state” in the sense of one of the states that makes up the USA. What “state” means, I was told is “racing district” (supporting documentation for this claim was provided by an official who claimed USAC “forgot” to put it in the rule book), which can sometimes be a state but other times can be a “racing district.” There is nothing in the rule book that says this, or that defines a racing district, or that equates such a district with a state, or that says a state championship is an elite district championship, but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that NCNCA does it this way, and as the promoter so eloquently put it, SoCal riders are *NOT* welcome in the P/1/2 race at Pescadero.
So, I was wrong.
But that’s okay because my post was really about something else. It was about actions that depress rider turnout at races, and many commenters focused instead on whether or not the exclusion was fair, or legitimate, or founded on the USAC rules. Let’s punt the point for the sake of discussion and return to my real motivation, which is to have more people race their bikes in road races. The promoter and others pointed out that Pescadero is just one race and that there are many others in NorCal that anyone can enter. One commenter exuberantly claimed there were “hundreds of race days.”
I doubt that there are hundreds of road races in NorCal each season, but perhaps there are. What I doubt strongly more is that a business model based on insulting, abusing, and excluding potential customers is really very much of a business.
Let’s imagine that a grouchy, irate customer with a blog and a leaky prostate wrote a vitriolic letter to Wal-Mart complaining about lousy service and being made to feel unwelcome. Do you think that the customer service department would tell the person that he was *NOT* welcome at that store, but that there were hundreds of other stores to choose from? Would Wal-Mart call the customer a lousy shopper, or a drug user, or suggest that the customer’s mere presence interfered with the shopping of locals from the neighborhood?
Of course not, and Pescadero is no Wal-Mart. The road racing in NorCal has a bit of the mythical about it, at least when viewed from down here in the SoCal ghetto. People speak about the courses, the aggressive racing, the spectacular scenery, and the high caliber of riders in something close to hushed tones. “This,” they say, “is real road racing.” [Disclosure: They say nothing of the sort about the crits.]
Much of it may be hyperbole, or that hard courses are harder when you’re far from home and don’t know the route, but many guys I respect have vouched for the brutality of NorCal road racing–and always in a good way. It is the hard racing that keeps this tiny cadre coming back, the kind of hard racing that lots of people never even aspire to try. To summarize, it is hard, very hard, and filled with hardness. I don’t know for sure, but would not be surprised to find lots of 100% carbon made fully of carbon there as well.
Whether NorCal is better, or less doped than any other –Cal is beside the point. It’s different, and lots of good riders live and race there, and word gets around about the excellence of the road courses. My own attraction to Pescadero was simple. It’s billed as one of the best and most beautiful and most challenging and most flat-fucking-awesome races in a state (the State of Northern California) that is already known for setting the bar high. On a tour a few years back we had lunch in Pescadero. I’d say it was beautiful but that word is much too poor to reflect the place.
Plus, all-around stud Kevin Metcalfe had a very cool race description of the event.
There was another reason to nut up, book a room, and make the drive, which would have started at 7:00 PM on Friday and required another rider to spell me at the wheel. That reason is simple: SoCal doesn’t have anything comparable this late in the season. In fact, Pescadero breaks a six-week road racing drought in the State of Northern California and the State of Southern California. If you want a tough, 75-mile masters road race, that opportunity ended here in Bakersfield back in April.
SoCal’s calendar is of no concern to NorCal, but maybe it should be. Not everyone here wants to race crits every weekend. There are riders who would make the trek north if there was a bit of momentum, and even the addition of five racers in an event can “affect the outcome of the race.” I can see groups from south of the Calmason-Caldixon Line making the trek north, especially as the epicness of the racing gets broader exposure. I even have connections with a bike racing blogger who has been known to trumpet the awesomeness of a venue as loudly as he excoriates poor sandbox behavior, doping, and cycling “advocates” who support helmet laws.
Yet the current nontroversy has trumpeted to one and all that SoCal riders are *NOT* welcome at Pescadero in the P/1/2 race. Sure it’s beautiful, epic, challenging, and unforgettable, but hey, sucks to be you. As Tim Burgess suggested with a twist of either cutting sarcasm or blase stupidity, this sounds like a great opportunity for an enterprising promoter to put on a race!
[Note to Tim: That enterprising promoter is *NOT* welcome John, and the race already exists. It’s called “Pescadero.”]
There is of course the whole issue of why any self-respecting bike racer would want to win a championship jersey against a weaker rather than a stronger field, but as the TV show was called, “Diff’rent Strokes.” In my case, I’m sorry to have missed the race although there was excellent circuit racing in Chula Vista that day and I got an undreamed-of fourth place in the 50’s and a miracle 10th in the 40’s on a tough, windy, hilly course. Had I gone to Pescadero I would have been lucky to have finished.
So, really, who needs Pescadero? Well, I do, but Pescadero obviously doesn’t need me. Yet all is not lost. What’s this place called “Leesville”?
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