Don’t get hit and then what?

September 15, 2017 § 24 Comments

There are a lot of dark stories in the world today about the cager v. biker wars. And they are wars. The bikers get killed and maimed and the cagers get a speeding ticket. The bikers put in an imaginary magic protection road stripe and the cagers rip it out. The bikers say “You’re killing us!” and the cagers say “Exactly!” Cf. Jennifer King and the troll triumvirate of Garrett Uno, Cynthia “the Beast” Uno, Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., and the unbearable heaviness of cager hate and stunted lives of those who wage it.

Maybe I will get around to expanding on this article by Peter Flax, but I doubt it. How do you expand on the universe? Read it and bleed.

However, on September 21 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Performance Bicycle in Long Beach, I will be expanding on my own tiny little universe of how not to get killed while riding your bike. If you’re in the neighborhood I hope you can make it.


Performance Bicycle, Long Beach

Cycling Savvy, led by Big Orange’s own Gary Cziko, has been instrumental in the last two years teaching people the very best in Bee Gees riding techniques, i.e. “Stayin’ Alive.” Gary’s techniques work. There are two parts of the Cycling Savvy curriculum, however, that are either ignored or lightly addressed, kind of like not enough vinaigrette on a mountain of salad, and I’m going to talk about them at the event in Long Beach.

  • What to do if you’re a victim or witness to a bike-car collision.
  • How to protect yourself and your family if you or they get hit while cycling.
  • How not to get hit through insane use of over-the-top lighting, day and night.

Performance is supporting the seminar with some killer deals on, guess what, lighting. There will also be covfefe to keep you awake. However, I can promise that you won’t need it, or you’ll get your money back at this free event.



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The dangle-sock

September 8, 2017 § 23 Comments

One of the favorite refrains of the delicate snowflakes on the PV Peninsula, each one of whom is unique and precious, and each one of whom has children who are even more unique even though that is an adjective which does not admit to degrees due to its obvious reference to singularity, is that “PV isn’t a good place for kids to ride bikes because the hills are too steep.”

Of course if your kids aren’t in the back of your car, how can you show off the Rage Rover as you wait in a 30-minute school off-loading queue that is twice as long as the actual walk would be?

If you’ve been around the poor side of the hill for very long, you’ve doubtless seen a rather unique individual. He is not very tall and appears to be in his late 60’s and is always dressed in dark long pants and a long-sleeve shirt regardless of the weather. He has a beard that is sort of trimmed and he wears a gigantic pair of black shoes, size 13 or I would guess even 15, which look even more enormous because his legs are not long and he is himself rather short.

He also rides a bike. It is an MTB with a triple and it has saddle bags on the back, quite nice ones, in fact. He always wears a blue helmet and travels up and down Silver Spur or some of the other ridiculously steep roads, or sometimes he putters around in the parking lot at the Von’s. Usually, though, he is going uphill. Slowly, but uphilly.

What is most distinctive about him though is his sock. Not the ones on his feet; I’ve never seen those. I’m referring to the very long white sock that dangles from his handlebars. There are not many people on bikes in PV with a handlebar dangle-sock. I don’t know if it serves a weather function, or if it is an ornament, or if it’s there as a spare if he gets a hole in his regular sock sort of like how other bikers carry a spare tube, or if it dangles for purely sentimental reasons. Yet the overall image you get of this fellow … Huge shoes. Beard. Saddlebags. Long-sleeve shirt and pants. Pedaling up Silver Spur in a 29-38. Handlebar dangle-sock. Clearly he’s insane.

Today I was coming back from Safety Cycle, where they had replaced my SRAM e-tap front derailleur due a euphemistic “warranty issue.” I had come up Basswood, which is steep, and was heading along the flat section to Shorewood, which is also steep. Ahead of me I spied a figure that could only be Mr. Dangle-sock. He was going slower than a clogged large intestine, and I speedily caught up to him.

“Hi, there,” I said expecting to be met with lunatic eyes and deranged speech.

“Hi,” he said brightly.

“I see you out here all the time. You ride a lot?”

He laughed. “Yes, but I don’t go too fast.”

“How much do you ride, actually?”

“About 12-13 hours a week. It helps keep the weight off. I don’t think you can technically lose weight from cycling, in order for that to happen you really have to regulate intake, but the riding allows me to eat a bit more and not gain, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes,” I said, “I do. You always seem to be riding up the steepest roads around here.”

He gave me a wry look. “Are there any others that will take me home? If there are, be so kind as to point them out.”

I nodded. “Right.”

“Well, I turn off here,” he said. “Have a nice day.”

He pedaled away. Then I saw a group of kids offloading from their Mom taxis at the high school. Of course PV is too steep for a kid to ride a bike, especially a 17 or 18-year-old. And damn it, I never even got to ask about the dangle sock.



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Local director of popular babysitting service retires

August 29, 2017 § 12 Comments

Jeff Kepley, director of the popular Palos Verdes Estates babysitting service Wipe ‘n Dandle, announced his retirement yesterday. The sudden news leaves residents scrambling for a replacement service that can provide fresh diapers, soft facial tissues for drippy noses, mushed up bananas, and can give them a soft booby to suck on when they get an ouchie.


Cycling in the South Bay sat down with one of the community’s biggest babies, Lewis Robert McButtchaps, Jr., to find out how he intended to cope with the sudden loss of taxpayer-funded butt wiping.

CitSB: This must come as quite a blow, Bob, given that a review of service records shows that you’re Wipe ‘n Dandle’s biggest baby. I mean, customer.

McButtchaps: It was a huge shock. Huge. Sad.

CitSB: Can you tell us how it’s going to affect you?

McButtchaps: Wipe ‘n Dandle has always handled my every tantrum with incredible professionalism. Whether it’s other babies making noise across the way to wake me from my nap, or just coming by to put some talcum on my po-po, Wipe ‘n Dandle has always been there for me.

CitSB: There’s talk in the community of bringing in another diaper service. Snotnosers, Inc., already services the other three communities here on the peninsula. And they seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the squalling, wailing, whining little brats happy, sort of.

McButtchaps: That’s a farce. We babies in PV Estates are a special butt-rash on the hill and require special treatment. For example, when there are noises that scare me at night and I think there’s a big orange monster under my bed, I can have Mr. Kepley and his professional dandlers come over in a couple of minutes. Snotnosers takes up to ten minutes to pat me on the back, burp me, clean out the poop that has squirted up my back, and get me back to sleep.

CitSB: Some folks say that you’re just a spoiled little brat and that Snotnosers does a fine job. After all, you’re almost fifty.

McButtchaps: Nuh-uh. I’m not spoiled at all. They’re spoiled. I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you. Wipe ‘n Dandle’s service levels have dropped a bit recently, though. A couple of months ago I cried a lot and was colicky and it took four of their full-time butt-wipers and the dispatcher to come make me feel better and tell me I was a Sweetums and a Honey-Pie.

CitSB: Some folks say that Wipe ‘n Dandle’s service levels haven’t really dropped; rather they’re tired of coming over to a faux estate that’s so “exclusive” it’s constantly filled with other babies and gardening trucks over by the bluffs. Some folks say that you have a rash no one can heal.

McButtchaps: That’s not true. For example, a couple of years ago when I was in my baby pool without a diaper, another little girl came over and stole my floatie toy. I was scarred for life and filed a restraining order against her. Snotnosers, Inc. couldn’t have done as good a job putting on a fresh didie as Mr. Kepley’s team. Mr. Kepley’s men love me. Did you know I’m a palm frond manager?

CitSB: What’s that?

McButtchaps: I’m like Harold Icahn.

CitSB: Oh, a fund manager?

McButtchaps: Palm frond manager. It’s like a hedge fund but it’s made of palms.

CitSB: More hedge than fund?

McButtchaps: Exactly.

CitSB: I see. After reviewing the service records at Wipe ‘n Dandle, the other babies around you seem to hate your guts. Any thoughts about that?

McButtchaps: Yes. Every time someone is mean to me, I call up Wipe ‘n Dandle and they make the meanies go away. It’s not my fault they are all jealous and want my toys.

CitSB: What do you think they’re jealous of?

McButtchaps: My smooth head. All the other babies have lots of hair but my head is very smooth and they’re jealous of that. Also my tummy which pooches out and is very soft. Do you want to touch it?

CitSB: Er, no thanks. So, what are your plans for getting another team to come in here and wipe your little butt every time you feel out of sorts?

McButtchaps: What are you doing this afternoon?

CitSB: Uh, I’m busy.



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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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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