Mainstream crazy

August 11, 2017 § 17 Comments

When the New York Times is giving out advice about how to commute to work, it’s time for me to find another niche hobby. Yep, that venerable institution whose motto is “All the news that’s fit to print” has taken to printing news about bicycle commuting. Click here to find out their recommendations for how a beginner can successfully commute by bike.

Once you’ve mastered the NYT intro course, you can proceed to Wanky’s Advanced Commuting Course, below.

  1. Deck your halls. NYT advises lights if you ride in the dark. Wanky advises riding with lights everywhere, all the time. Cagers will avoid you only if they see you, and nothing screams “Lunatic on a bicycle!” like fourteen lights blazing in all directions.
  2. Spot the nutballs. Once you have mastered pedaling, you need to master nutball spotting. On the Peninsula, our resident dingleberry is Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., a small-fry palm frond manager. Nutballs are often seen driving mid-grade German kiddie haulers, and they have it in for you. Learn to spot them by their chrome domes, tiny heads barely peeking over the steering wheel, and their erratic driving. Once spotted, take immediate evasive action.
  3. Cuss practice. Every once in a while twice a day you will need to communicate forcefully with the public. Practice, practice, practice.
  4. Carbon. NYT recommends sturdy, dependable, practical bikes with bells and fenders. That is ridiculous. Dress for your commute like it’s the Tour de France or, more importantly, the Saturday ride. Matchy-matchy shoelaces on your Giro Empires, yo. And make sure you’re riding 100% carbon that is pure carbon and made of carbon.
  5. Hand signal. NYT talks about hand signals as if there were more than one.
  6. Strava. Mere mortals commute. If you didn’t KOM a heavily congested segment replete with pedestrians and moving vans on the way to work, it didn’t happen.
  7. Race numbers. Always commute with a race number sticking out from your seatpost or top tube. Better yet, pin up both sides of your aero commuting skinsuit. Extra points for shoe covers and aero TT helmet.
  8. Commute recap. Rehearse your Amazing Commuting Dominator story in your head so that when you get to work you can regale everyone with the incredible feats you performed on a bike whereas all they did after waking up was get fat.
  9. Jaunty cycling cap. Mandatory apres-commute gear for hanging out around the water cooler as you execute #8 above.
  10. Raw celery. Crack out a stick of this calorie-free, nutrient-free, tasteless and waterlogged vegetable, and gnaw on it while executing #8 above. [Must begin with “I’m famished.”]

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Here comes The Sun

July 25, 2017 § 30 Comments

I was digging through the mail and came across an envelope that had actual handwriting on it. It was from a lady named Ann. She had read a letter to the editor in a magazine called The Sun. The writer was from PV Estates, and in her letter she said that a story she had read in The Sun made her think differently about bicycling.

the_sun

Apparently bicycling in PV Estates has been getting a bad, or rather worse name over the last year. When you have a small community stocked with even one hairless shrub as horribly defective as Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., it doesn’t take much to poison everyone.

tumbleweed

Anyway, this woman Ann sent me The Sun with the story by Heather Sellers. It’s called “Pedal, Pedal, Pedal.” I hope you take a few minutes to read this spectacular and uplifting memoir. It’s something that every cyclist can relate to, the story of transformation, and Heather tells it so well and with such artfulness and power that all you have to do is switch around a few names and words and the story seems like your own.

This got me to wondering why so many people have been transformed by bicycling. Maybe it’s the same with golf or basketball or any human endeavor into which you pour yourself. Maybe bicycling seems special simply because it’s so accessible, unlike golf, and the joys of full-gas basketball don’t typically go much beyond age 35 simply because your knees give out.

Whether it’s unique or not, bicycling is transformational for a whole bunch of people. Is it because cycling is the thing that most closely approximates flying under your own power? Is it because you can go long distances exerting yourself while still able to think, talk, reflect, plan, relax? Is it because no matter what your age, with proper preparation you can bury yourself physically as completely as if you were twenty? Or is it because of the funny clothes and goofy tan?

Whatever the reason, Heather Sellers got it right. Get out of the house and pedal, pedal, pedal. And don’t let the tumbleweeds get you down!

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Your horrible children

July 12, 2017 § 39 Comments

I like kids. Have three of ’em myself, and a grandkid, too. Great folks, all four. Kids? I recommend them if you can afford them, and I almost recommend them if you can’t. Kids are good.

Mostly.

I say “mostly” because there are some horrible people out there who, when they have kids, wind up with — surprise — horrible children. Beastly, awful little people who in turn grow up into beastly, awful big people who abuse other people, lie, cheat, steal, and worst of all, vote.

We’ve all seen these horrible little people and their psychotic enablers in soccer, baseball, and basketball. They’re almost a meme. Some talented or untalented little brat, abused and egged on by mentally defective parents, makes life a living hell for everyone else.

Cycling’s not immune, either. In Colorado there is a family of d-bags who recently behaved thus at a bike race, as reported by the parent of the victim:

Reluctantly I’m going to share a story about today’s Junior race in Longmont because violence is not okay. And violence encouraged by a parent is well… During the last lap of this race when K. came around another racer that racer swerved into K. in anger. Luckily both boys stayed up but K. had to stop because his wheel was damaged. When he didn’t come in with the others we worried. Finally he arrived and while he was telling us what happened the boy’s Mom came up and said “he deserved it for sucking my son’s wheel at the end.” My jaw dropped. I said, “You’re telling me this happened on purpose?” “Yes I told him to do it.” We walked away because frankly I didn’t trust myself to stay near her much longer. But then I thought about it and went back to the Ref to tell him. He got immediately red and said he knows the family, was not surprised and would take care of it. We left but now with a few inquires I’m hearing this is common behavior for this family and they have yet to be sanctioned. Frankly if it were up to me these parents would not even have custody of their children but at the least why is the cycling community @usacycling@bracolorado turning a blind eye and allowing them at races? This child is fast and his sister is a very accomplished racer but that should not matter at all. Finally, this is not a reflection of the Colorado racers as nothing like this has happened before. I’m already a mess worrying about accidental crashes and cars but to think of kids getting injured intentionally by one another is disgusting.

USAC has set up an inquiry. Let’s hope these kids and their family are removed from cycling forever … although we know they won’t be.

Anyway, the aggrieved parent wants to know why the cycling community is turning a blind eye and allowing these li’l monsters at races. Let me help with that.

Here in SoCal we have a mini-douchebag of a junior rider, supported by his douchebag parents, who was briefly suspended for fighting. Everyone knows he’s a jerk. People have complained to USAC about him, and he’s been a jerk for years. Arrogance, rudeness, dangerous riding, and nasty aggressiveness are his stock in trade. But because he is a talented rider he has gotten away with behavior that would have seen other riders sanctioned, and in fact his current sanction is a slap on the wrist compared to what he deserves. He’s a despicable kid who is a few months away from being a despicable adult.

The reason he’s been allowed to fester is the “talented junior rider” thing. In cycling, that means you’re one of fifteen people in the state who competes, and one of half a dozen who goes to nationals. So yes, with a little luck, tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, a coach, the nation’s only indoor velodrome, a travel budget, and a modicum of ability you will be “talented” because you’ll be a “national champion” and “state champion” who will “dominate” the other fourteen people in your age group statewide.

We see every year what happens to these “talented” riders when they graduate to the U23 ranks here, or worse, in Europe. We never hear from them again. Why? Because despite their parents’ delusions, they weren’t really all that talented so much as they were subsidized to compete in a vanity niche sport to (mostly) satisfy their parents’ egos. The Coryn Riveras out there are the exception that prove the rule.

The second problem is that USAC is terribly afraid of lowering the boom with severe sanctions against almost anyone, much less “talented” junior riders. USAC is in the midst of a death spiral, where competitive racing is slowly giving way to fun rides. This is because there is no younger generation moving up through the ranks, or at least not in sufficient number to replace the leaky prostates who currently sustain the sport and who are rotating out due to age, infirmity, boredom, injury, or risk exhaustion.

Few normal parents will make the financial commitment it takes for their kids to race bikes. Fewer still will put their kids in such an inherently dangerous sport. And only a tiny handful will let their kids compete against bullies who are instructed to chop wheels and “punish” wheelsucking, i.e. smart racing. Every one of these horrible brats who the system protects is responsible for countless other parents seeing the lay of the land and either yanking their kids from cycling or encouraging them to do something else.

It’s the other end of the James Doyle spectrum, where bad behavior and violence create an environment so toxic that you want to wash your hands and walk away and for dog’s sake take your kids with you.

In the old days these punks would have been taught a lesson with a properly placed wheel chop or a punch to the face by an older, bigger rider. I’m not advocating that as a teaching style, but the fact is that these kids have nothing and no one to fear because the old way has been banned and there’s no system of discipline in its place. The other riders and their parents don’t want a lawsuit or criminal charges, the referees turn a blind eye because of the paperwork and headache, the promoters don’t want to turn away an entry fee, USAC doesn’t want to draw more bad attention to how dangerous the sport is, and voila! You have an instant recipe for toxic cycling soup.

Drink up.

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Recovery rider

July 11, 2017 § 19 Comments

A year is longer than you think. It was almost that long ago that John Abate was hit and left for dead as he pedaled on an early morning ride in Encinitas, California.

The person — if the category human applies, which I doubt — who committed the felony was never caught.

John suffered a range of serious injuries, as you might expect, and but for good timing, the presence of a friend, and the best medical care, he would likely not have survived. The one thing that the hit-and-run driver couldn’t damage, however, was John’s prodigious will to live, recover, and thrive.

Even so, I was surprised to see him at the 805 Criterium this past Sunday, looking fitter and happier and healthier than the last time I’d ridden with him, almost two and half years ago. Not content to make his comeback at a four-corner industrial crit, he had decided to test his legs in the most punishing event of the year.

And the people who ended up getting tested were the ones who rode against him. Quick, fast, aggressive, and the consummate team rider, he turned in a stellar ride in the 35+ race, making sure the door was closed for good when teammate Charon Smith went up the road in the winning break. But what was more awesome than that was to see John back in the mix, recovered.

Recovery is tough, as John will tell you. In some ways, you have to be ready for it. It’s not like a low-hanging ripe California orange that you effortlessly pluck off the branch. Recovery is a commitment, a dedication that you renew every single day, an idea that whatever it takes to recover, you’re going to do it.

The results are there for everyone to see.

abate_805_2017

Copyright 2017 by Phil Beckman; Purchased with Commercial Use License.

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Resist, occupy, stick it to the man, etc.

July 8, 2017 § 27 Comments

I had one the nicest things happen to me yesterday that’s ever happened in my professional career. A group of friends who had been wrongly pulled over by a L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, then harassed, then wrongly cited for obeying the law, invited me to a thank-you dinner.

The thank-you was because I defended all eleven of the sixteen defendants who decided to fight the bogus charges. I’d like to say that everyone was acquitted due to my amazing legal skills and brilliant courtroom wizardry, but with the exception of one actual trial, all of the cases were dismissed because the citing officer failed to appear.

Of course nothing is as simple as it sounds. Deputy Castro, the outrageous and offensive cop who wrote the tickets, did appear once, for the first trial. With the help of expert testimony from Gary Cziko, and on-deck help from Geoff Loui, and due to the deputy’s confusion, dishonesty, misrepresentation, and ignorance of the law, in that first trial the defendant was acquitted.

Deputy Castro was amazed and even a bit angry when the judge ruled for the cyclist; we were kind of shocked as well. It’s not often that the court puts on a full trial, replete with expert witnesses, to fight a bike citation that carries no DMV points and that the People have already offered to settle for fifty bucks.

That one small win had big consequences for the rest of the defendants and for the cop. Deputy Castro, shortly thereafter, was transferred out of the traffic division. You can imagine that the captain was not pleased. Castro had called in a helicopter and five additional squad cars to write up the sixteen cyclists. Additionally, most of the citations had to be amended because Castro had put down the wrong location of the violation. When you tote up the officer time, helicopter time, squad cars, time spent processing, then amending the tickets, it was a significant action on the part of the department given the minor nature of the “violation” of CVC 21202a.

Deputy Castro looked foolish to the court as she lied and contradicted herself under cross-examination, but you have to think that where she really lost face is with her fellow deputies — going to all that trouble to call out so many officers to write a stupid bike citation that she couldn’t even make stick. Keep in mind that cops have pride about their work. No policeman, with the possible exception of the Thank-Dog-He’s-Gone-Deppity-Knox, takes pride in being known as a bike ticket violation writer. It’s drudgery, has zero cachet, garners zero professional respect, and is only done when there is either (a) absolutely no other law to enforce or (b) when the city council has demanded a cyclist crackdown. (a) and (b) almost always occur in tandem …

In the short term, the willingness of the cyclists to challenge these trumped up charges led to one terrible cop being booted from the traffic beat. In the long term it reinforced to the Lomita Substation that there really are more important law enforcement issues in Rancho Palos Verdes. It communicated that with limited resources, the department would be well advised to go pick on someone else, as these fake citations will be fought tooth and nail.

The cyclists who chose to fight instead of pay had to “waste” time and energy in contesting the charges. Compared to the settlement offer of $50 and no DMV points, it might seem like a waste; each defendant had to go to court twice: Once to plead not guilty, and once to appear for trial. But it wasn’t a waste, far from it. It educated the court, it educated the sheriff’s department, and it empowered cyclists to shift gears from being victims to being advocates.

In addition to fighting all eleven tickets, the defendants re-calendared their trial dates so that in the event one of them lost, we’d still have the opportunity to appear again. Since traffic court judges rotate, that increased the chance of getting a different judge and it would have forced Deputy Castro to appear eleven separate times. The one trial we did took well over an hour; that’s a bunch of overtime the department would have had to pay.

If you compare the time and money that was spent fruitlessly trying to convince the Palos Verdes Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes city councils that cyclists are traffic with legal rights, with the the time and money that was spent fighting the tickets, which successfully changed personnel and policy, it was the best advocacy imaginable. We spent hundreds of person-hours at city council meetings only to be beaten down and targeted by crazypants trolls. The public records request (publication forthcoming) I did on Robert Chapman, local PVE sillypants and bike hater, only confirmed that traditional political advocacy doesn’t work very well on the hill. Sometimes you have to suit up and go to fuggin’ court, even when it’s “only” traffic court.

Contrast our political advocacy with the effectiveness of fighting bogus tickets. The cops don’t show up, the tickets get dismissed, and everyone realizes it’s a shit-show, including the police, who are now more reticent to waste time writing the stupid citations in the first place. It dawns on everyone that the PV Peninsula has problems that are more significant than 21202a violations and bicycle stop sign tickets.

Unfortunately, there are still far too many cyclists in the South Bay who are willing to pay the reduced fee and get on with their lives. It’s too much pain and effort to re-calendar, go down to court twice, and deal with the whole headache. So last night, at the thank-you dinner that was ostensibly for me, I took the opportunity to thank all of the people who were willing to stand up for themselves and for others as well. And if you don’t mind, I’ll take this small space to thank them again.

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Justice for Johnny

June 14, 2017 § 169 Comments

I will make this brief. USA Cycling is now “grappling” with whether or not James Doyle intended to knock down John Walsh in this video. Several commenters, here and on Facegag, have argued that you can’t really know what was in Doyle’s mind when he hit Walsh’s bars and therefore it wasn’t intentional.

Newsflash: You don’t understand intent or how it is shown.

  1. Intent can simply mean knowing the likely outcome of your actions. If you shoot a pistol in a crowded movie theater you can’t claim you didn’t intend to kill someone because in your mind you weren’t trying to kill the specific person who was hit by the bullet. You are presumed to know that firing the gun is dangerous. Therefore you had the requisite intent to be convicted of the crime.
  2. Proving intent doesn’t require the defendant to sign a confession saying “I intended to knock down John Walsh and send him to the ICU with life-threatening injuries.” You can prove it by physical evidence, by statements, by circumstance, and by past behavior.
  3. One eyewitness said that during the neutral lap after the crash, Doyle said that he had told Walsh to “give him more room and too bad for Walsh when he didn’t.” There was also allegedly a now-deleted Facegag post on Doyle’s page that intimated that the taketown was intentional. Countless riders have notified USAC that Doyle repeatedly exhibited the kind of aggressive behavior that crashed out Walsh. Admission, allegedly written statement, video, repeated past behavior–and USAC can’t immediately reach a decision?

USAC is already prepping the surgical field for a punishment that is less than a lifetime ban from sanctioned events. Chris Black, an SCNCA board member who has admitted that he has no role in the process but who nonetheless is close to the USAC official in charge of discipline, sent this gem yesterday to an outraged racer:

black_text

Wow. Not enough to take substantial action? What would it take? And why would he possibly say “the video by itself” when USAC has received numerous statements about Doyle’s behavior? To top it off, USAC is advising that it is more helpful to have eyewitnesses–sure, just like it’s more helpful to have a signed confession. But absent that there is plenty of evidence to carry the burden of proof here. Why are all these non-lawyers, non-judges, non-bike racers trying to pretend they are the U.S. Supreme Court?

My guess is that Chris Black has no idea what an intentional takedown is. [Note: several readers wrote to correct my misstatement regarding Chris’s racing background. Chris is an active racer with a long history.] What’s even more extraordinary is that Black is a former CHP officer and USAC official, proving once again that a lifetime of law enforcement and officiating has zero correlation with proper understanding or application of the rules.

Instead of making an outraged statement to the effect of “SCNCA will not tolerate reckless or dangerous riding in its events, much less intentional takedowns,” Black makes his unasked for and unprofessional judgment of what the evidence actually means and, more incredibly, how he thinks USAC will behave as a result.

Compare that with Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, whose organizing club, South Bay Wheelmen, is considering whether to ban Doyle from their upcoming race after viewing the video. Unlike Chris Black, non-bike racer, SBW members actually race and they don’t want a jackass like Doyle anywhere near them. SCNCA has lost over one-third of its members in the past year and a half, and with people like Black making absurd and reckless statements like the one above, it’s easy to understand why.

It’s also interesting to note that the promoter of the race where this occurred, Jeff Prinz, has been studiously silent, no doubt hoping that this won’t negatively affect participation in his upcoming July 2 race. Note to Jeff: Now would be a great time to reassure racers that Doyle won’t be allowed to race CBR, in July or ever. If you need someone to cover Doyle’s $35 entry fee so that you don’t suffer personal hardship by losing a race entry, hit me up and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, a criminal complaint has been filed regarding Doyle’s despicable actions. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has assigned DR number 17-022995 to the complaint. Please call (714) 647-7000 if you were an eyewitness or have video evidence that can assist with the investigation. Give them the DR number above so they can route you to the proper person.

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Felony battery

June 13, 2017 § 124 Comments

When you enter a USAC bike race you waive most of your rights to sue anyone for negligently hurting you during the race.

But you don’t waive your right to sue people who intentionally hurt you. And you don’t ever waive your right to be protected from felony battery.

At the California masters state bicycling “championships” on Sunday, held in Ladera Ranch by promoter Jeff Prinz, a guy named James Doyle pulled a move that looks to me like a flagrantly intentional takedown. To view the video you have to type in either the password ladera45 or doyle.

The victim, John Walsh, wound up in the hospital with a bleeding brain, broken collarbone, broken back, and other ICU-worthy injuries.

If you are not a crit racer the takedown may not look obvious. If you are a crit racer, you will be shocked. Note that Doyle’s move appears completely premeditated. He is squeezed against the curb as he tries to pass at about 3:17, then backs off, waits for a gap to open, accelerates through, then lowers his shoulder and hits Walsh’s bars hard. Walsh is blindsided and goes down on his head. Doyle never looks back and sprints off.

In my opinion this was intentional, and not simply because I’ve raced countless crits and have seen riders make contact countless times and have been bumped countless times.

I believe this was intentional because in addition to the video, which is crystal clear, I know James Doyle. He is a despicable person. I’ve ridden with him and raced with him and I’ve been teammates with him, and the only way I can describe him is in Jekyll-Hyde terms. One minute he is super nice, a great teammate, and the next moment he is uncontrollably enraged.

Here are things I have personally witnessed this very bad person do:

  1. Scream psychotically at a woman on the Donut Ride who was startled when he came shooting up through a narrow, barely-wide-enough space between her and the curb. Note: This is exactly what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  2. Scream psychotically at any number of riders on any number of days who were startled when he came shooting up through a narrow, barely-wide-enough space between them and the curb. Note: This is exactly what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  3. Scream psychotically and challenge a very big and muscular (and friendly and gentle) cyclist to a fight when Doyle startled the cyclist with an outlandishly aggressive move on the Donut Ride. Note: This is similar to what he did in the video that shows him crashing out John Walsh.
  4. Scream psychotically and challenge a rider, who also happens to be a homicide detective, to a fistfight during the finale of Telo. Doyle then added to his douchebag bona fides when he called the guy a “cupcake” after the detective laughed and declined Doyle’s invitation to beat the shit out of him. The “cupcake” is super friendly and has by his own count been in more than 300 fistfights (and lost two). People would have paid good money to watch fistfight No. 301 and the resultant tooth donation that Doyle would have made to the pavement that day.

These are only a few of the incidents that got James Doyle kicked out of our club. Numerous riders in SoCal have seen his antics and been appalled by them. One friend described him as “The most dangerous rider I have ever seen because he rides every ride and competition as if it were a short-track motorcycle race. He makes no distinction between aggressively riding on the last lap sprinting for a win and fighting for 38th position on the second lap of the race.”

I don’t know what to say except that USAC better revoke his license permanently; Jeff Prinz better make a public statement and ban this jerk from his races; SoCal riders better ostracize Doyle when he shows up; someone better file a felony battery crime report; and James Doyle better lawyer the hell up and pray the DA doesn’t press charges.

UPDATE: Preliminary indications from Chris Black at SCNCA are that USAC will likely not find anything in the video that would warrant disciplinary action. If you think otherwise, and/or have examples of Doyle’s dangerous riding, hostile and aggressive behavior, please email chodge@usacycling.org.

UPDATE II from USAC: On Jun 13, 2017, at 8:47 AM, Hodge, Chuck <chodge@usacycling.org> wrote: “USA Cycling has already begun an investigation under our Policy III. Per our policy all riders are afforded due process when there is the possibility of revoking membership rights.”
_______________

Chuck HODGE
Vice President of Operations
USA Cycling
210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO  80919
Mobile: 719-229-0732

Phone: 719-434-4264
Fax: 719-434-4316
chodge@usacycling.org
http://www.usacycling.org

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