Winter is coming!

October 14, 2017 § 13 Comments

It’s mid-October which means my birthday is near so please send cash. Better yet, subscribe to my blog which is the same thing and allows you to give me carbon that is 100% pure carbon all year long.

But it’s almost winter, too, and no challenge is greater in SoCal for hardcore avid recreational cyclists (HARCs) than throwing a leg over when it’s a brutal 52 degrees outside and forcing yourself to shiver through the first hour of your ride until it reaches a barely tolerable 65 degrees.

Whatever else you want to say about it, cycling makes you as tough as our President.

I don’t normally recommend products unless I have something truly awful to say about them, but since your comfort and winter profamateur training schedules are at stake, here are the “must have” items if you’re going to be crazy fit and raring to tear legs off in January’s first Cat 4 30-minute crit.

  • Most people dress in layers, building thin strips of heat-retaining fabric on top of one another and capping it with an outer garment. Fugg that. In SoCal you start with the heavy stuff and work inwards. When you have forced yourself to get out of bed and be on the road by 10:00 AM, when you are battling the fierce late morning sunny temps, when it might, later in the week, start to sprinkle, you come prepared. And preparation in SoCal means the AGV Sport Thunder 2-piece Rain Suit. Brang it, beeyatch.
  • It’s Tuesday. No, it’s Thursday. Oh, wait, IDGAF because whichever day it is, it’s time to hit the NPR and stomp some fuggin’ dicks and club some baby seals. Thaswha I’m talkinbou. And you won’t be stompin’ and clubbin’ in a pair of Wanky’s shiny white dancing slippers. No sir, when it’s threatening to sprinkle and there’s a massive wisp of a cloud over at 3 o’clock threatening to plunge the temps even deeper than the current 59, you need to have the right footwear. You need stompin’ boots that will keep your feet dry and your ankles sexy and that can double as comfy apres-beatdownwear for when you are hanging out at CotKO and booting tourists from Ohio off your perch on the bricks. I’m talkingbou the Chrome 415 Storm Pro Bike Shoe. You will be, too.
  • Okay, you’ve got your rubber hood cinched down. You’ve got your Storm Pro Bike Shoes laced tighter than a granny’s girdle. But you ain’t goin’ far in a SoCal winter lest you have your hands taken care of. Studies show that after less than ten minutes of blasting frigid air on your hands, you will lose circulation and nerve sensations, and it doesn’t blast much colder than here in SoCal, where you lose ten degrees to wind chill making the morning temps an inhuman 52 degrees. Inhuman, I say. The Arete Pro will take you from HARC to your first UCI contract. Gare-awn-teed.

Of course there’s more to surviving the sub-60 temps than buying a bunch of stuff, although frankly, like a cyclocross bike, once you’ve bought it why in the world would you use it, but if you’re going to tough out the crazy winters here, there are some SoCal-specific training plans you need to consider purchasing from your online coach. We’ll discuss proper mental preparation in another exciting post.

Until then, enjoy these last days of fall, as the leaves turn, the state burns to a crisp, and temperatures begin going from 72 to 71 or even 70.8. Brrrrrr.

END

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White out

October 6, 2017 § 37 Comments

A few hours ago it became really clear that my right rear knee’s banjo wasn’t going to be ready for the Donut Ride on Saturday. The first part of my treatment plan, “Get off yer fuggin’ bike,” I had followed religiously for 24 hours. Okay, not quite 24 hours, but almost. I didn’t ride at all while I was in bed. Several people had emailed and posted curative comments such as “ice,” and “RuggedMaxx 2,” but it was too complicated for me to implement so instead I cleaned my shoes.

1

Then on Tuesday I decided to “give ‘er a try” so I pedaled up and down the street a few times and it felt okay. “Road to recovery,” I decided, and cleaned up my shoes some more.

On Wednesday I “gave ‘er another try” and pedaled up and down the street and it still felt okay. Well, okay, not okay, but it didn’t hurt. It felt a little tender, kind of like when you were a little kid and your brother had smashed you in the face twenty times the day before and the next day if something pressed against your lips, like air, it was tender. Tender like that.

On Thursday I was 100% sure that I was good to go because the day before I had spent five or ten minutes or two hours hand washing all of my white Base Cartel “South Bay Cycling” socks and they were screamingly ready to be worn along with my white shoes which had been rubbed down with some saddle soap, then glossed over with neutral wax and white scuff cover.

If crazy clean white socks and spanky white shoes won’t fix a raw banjo string, nothing will.

I put on my bicycle suit and rode across the street. I knew that it would be a bad idea to immediately ride anything hilly, especially anything steep, so I rode and up and down Old Hawthorne, which is completely flat except for the steep uphill parts which were in my way. My white socks and white shoes were firing on all cylinders, but what really got all of my tendinitis-curing white blood cells swarming was my bleached white shoelaces, which were sparkling in the sun. It had only taken a couple of hours to hand wash them and soak them in bleach and then rinse them out and then sun-dry them on the balcony; totally worth it.

After five minutes my banjo started hurting like a fucker, but that was just because it had been sitting there mostly unused for a few days and it was going to feel great once the white blood cells warmed it up. After ten minutes it was hurting like ten fuckers, so I stopped and adjusted my white shoelaces, thinking they hadn’t been laced up tightly enough to squeeze the white blood cells out of my feet up to the affected area. After fifteen minutes my tendon or my ligament or my bone knob or whatever it was, was hurting so dogdamned bad I could hardly pedal, so I limped back home and wrote a nasty letter to my sock supplier and to Giro shoes, advising them how badly their products had failed to cure my tendinitis.

Today is Friday, Donut-minus 24 hours, and it’s not looking good for the leaky prosate team. Does anyone out there have a white summer kit and some RuggedMaxx 2 I can borrow?

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early. Gussy, you can show up this year, just to say hello.

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Option C

October 4, 2017 § 30 Comments

I have been doing this a long time, and I can predict that every October there will be a new kit kerfuffle. The NKK has to do with the design of your outlandish bicycling underwear, and the opinions and debate it engenders are always amazing.

This year, Team Lizard Collectors is doing what clubs around the world are doing, tossing out design options for their members to vote on and trying to get everyone to agree on the the least horrible pattern that clubmates will be prancing around in for the next twelve months or so. In our case there is Option A, which I’ll call “Striped Lizardskin w/Highlights,” and Option B, which I’ll call “Lizardskin Barcode Black.”

Club members are already voting, but before it’s all done, I’d like to propose Option C, and frankly, your club should avail itself of Option C, too. And Option C is: Ride yer fuggin’ bike.

You see, it doesn’t matter what you wear because you will always look stupid in a bicycle suit. A bicycle suit, if you are a man, is designed to bring your junk outline into painful visibility for all and sundry. Trust me, this will not be flattering unless you are Mr. R. Dollar, whose outline can reliably be viewed via Google Earth.

For everyone else, the prettiest and fanciest color design from Milan itself won’t make up for the twig-n-baby-bagels you are showcasing in your Xtra Pro-Lux SupaComfee Chamois.

However, even if you do have something more impressive than the average cyclist’s embarrassingly average toolkit, you still look like a fool. Why? Because you are an adult riding a bicycle in your underwear. What is it about this sentence that is so hard to understand? Would you wrap yourself in purple cellophane and go to a nightclub? Would you walk around in public in a latex outfit unless it were Halloween? And if you did, would you be surprised when people told you that you looked foolish? Heck no, you wouldn’t.

Yet every year, thousands of baby seals angst about whether the stripes should be horizontal, whether the mauve should be more saturated, or whether the logo for team sponsor Sam’s Speedy Venereal Treatments should be above the butt or above the pelvis. Stop angsting. To the broader public, you look silly and, um, underpowered.

To the cycling public, though, there are admittedly fashion and appearance issues that might cause concern for a particularly hideous color combo/design. Here too, however, you can rest easy.

The way to look good to other cyclists is to ride away from them. That’s all they care about. Take G$, for example. It doesn’t matter what he wears. When he stomps on the pedals and glides away, it is beautiful.

You, on the other hand, who like me are most excellent as a cyclist when typing or cruising Facebag, do not look beautiful because you are the person being ridden away from. Dropper = pretty. Droppee = lame. And it’s not because the stripe on your bicycle suit is horizontal.

Now’s the time to make your voice heard. Let the powers that be know that while others are fulminating about fashion, you’ll be exercising Option C: Riding yer fuggin’ bike.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

White shoes

September 29, 2017 § 34 Comments

I was riding with a friend who had taken a liking to my white cycling shoes. “Those are really cool.”

“Thanks.”

“I’d like to get a pair.”

To which I said, “I really don’t advise you to get white cycling shoes. When you see them in the store or on the Internet they look so shiny and smooth and fast, but you know what? The chances that you have the chops to handle white shoes is pretty much zero.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

So I explained.

Used to be, you couldn’t even buy white shoes because no one made them. Who would? Cycling was a nasty activity that took place in the rain and sleet and mud and generally shitty weather. Why buy a pair of shoes that would look like a dirty diaper after a week’s training, or less?

Then one day Jeff Fields came home from Gent with a white pair of Duegis. They were track shoes, they had wooden soles, and they were shimmering white. Shimmering because they were made of patent leather … plastic coated leather that couldn’t be fouled. I lusted for those shoes, and when he went back to Belgium to do Het Volk I asked him to bring me back a pair.

He did.

I think they cost $60. At the time, Marresi has come out with a white road shoe that had green and red lettering on the white. Rick Kent had a pair and so did my ex-roommate Robert Doty, but they turned nasty and foul in no time at all. Like this, only worse.

marresi

And there I was with those shiny white Duegis. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture of them on the Internet, but here are the black ones, so use your imagination. They were gorgeous.

duegi

Being track shoes they weren’t very comfortable for 100-mile rides. And having wooden soles, it felt like sticking your foot into a hollowed out brick, kind of like the early generation Bonts, only with splinters. But oh, they were pretty. And even though they were patent leather they still had to be cleaned, and it was with those Duegis that I earned my white shoe chops.

I trained and raced and explored in those shoes until the early summer of 1987, when the soles broke on a steep dirt mountain trail outside the village of Shimogo, in Fukushima Prefecture. I’d had to dismount and was walking along, pushing my bike over rocks. In the snow. Suddenly one of the soles snapped. I guess pretty white leather track shoes with wooden soles weren’t made for hiking Old Rockytop in the snowy mountains. Who knew?

After that I never bought another pair of white shoes even though they became common, and the reason is that they were never truly white. They usually had holes or lettering or something to foul up their appearance … Sidi was a pro at taking a white shoe and making it look like it had been created by a chimpanzee fucking a palette of finger paints. Plus, they were like the old Marresis. After a while they looked like your senile grandfather’s old handkerchief.

But then Giro came up with a true white leather shoe that had treated leather for easy cleaning and carbon soles made of 100% pure carbon that were all carbon and made of carbon. It reminded me of my wooden-soled Duegis, which were also made of carbon, although they were of the deciduous carbon variety.

Anyway, I bought a pair of the Giro Empire All White Lace-Up Converse All Stars and have been wearing them for about a month now. And I’ve noticed other newbies giving the white shoe shuffle a try. I was very upset to see Sausage at last week’s Donut sporting a pair of these very shoes with black scuff marks on the toe, although he made up for it (a little) by explaining the CdA was lower than for buckle-ups (with a cool graph he carries in his jersey pocket that unfolds and can be tacked onto his collapsible easel), and by showing me an uber-aero trick for tucking the laces under the bottom lace for maximal aero aeroness with aeros.

giro_empire

Still, if Sausage, who is a pretty fashionable fellow and matchy-matchy, shows up at the Donut with scuffed shoes, the true amateurs are likely to have their whiteys looking like hobnail boots used for plowing through donkey dung in a matter of days. Don’t be that hobnailed donkey dung plough.

White shoes are hard work because after every ride they have to be cleaned. First, apply a damp cloth to remove the dirt, tar, poop, and blood. Then carefully evaluate where the leather has gotten scuffed. You will need this

kiwi1

and this

kiwi2

After you get the scuff marks covered up, you can also get some neat’s foot oil and rubber cement to glue back the leather if it’s coming up in little strips from where, for example, you destroyed the pack with your tremendous power and caused Pablo to quit doing the Donut Ride because there was no coffee afterwards.

Once you have the shoes properly cleaned and buffed, you have to spend some time hand washing the white shoelaces, but I will cover that in an advanced seminar. Better yet, just get the black ones. They are pretty cool, too. Sort of.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

 

Your tiny niche is now a global plumber’s crack

September 28, 2017 § 25 Comments

The day you knew your weirdness was now mainstream? That’s the day that Men’s Journal came out with an article praising Strava as “The Only Fitness App That Matters.”

Notice I said “your.” Not “my.”

I remember the first day I heard about Strava. I was in Bull’s living room. We were talking about something bikish and he said, “Hey you gotta check out this really cool program, it’s called Strava.”

Notice he said “program.” Not “app.” And certainly not “fitness app.”

Bull walked me through it on his laptop. “See?” he said. “It records everything and has these segments where you can look at parts of a ride and a leaderboard. See?”

“Stupidest fucking thing ever,” I said.

“It’s super cool,” he added, unfazed. “You’re gonna love it.”

I think that was in 2012. I did Strava for a couple of years until it became as unbearable as my power meter had been, a relentless reminder of quantified suckage, and what was worse, accelerating suckage. One day I took it behind the outhouse and shot it. Then, a year or so ago, shortly after my nutsack-breaking-incident, I resuscitated it.

But Men’s Journal has now anointed Strava as the only fitness app that matters; the killer app. Before you go proudly clapping yourself on the ass, please check their home page and note that Men’s Journal features:

  • A giant, inflatable Irish pub.
  • Kelly Slater paddling his surfboard.
  • Some tatted up dude tossing an exerball.
  • How to break in raw denim.
  • Killer indoor exercise machines.

In other words, the mag has zero cred unless you’re a drunk surfing tatty-poo fashionista who exercises in front of a giant mirror.

The article is long on words but short on substance, which is like Strava itself, robustly empty. Basically, Strava is a killer app, the writer says, because it has a slick interface, yo. And segments, yo. And everyone’s on it, yo. This last part is the thing that makes it most killer for the author and therefore the type of person likely to read Men’s Journal. It’s kind of like a restaurant review that says “The food is incredible because everybody likes it.” Ah, yes. I see.

What the article missed is that Strava succeeds because it’s the digital equivalent of  the giant mirror in front of the free weights where you can stare forever at the tiny bumps between your shoulder and elbow masquerading as muscle. Every Men’s Journal subscriber will understand.

Strava lets you ogle, stare, admire, note tiny differences from the last workout (“See! A new vein! I think.”), and just as importantly gaze at the lifter next to you, the one whose arm is twice the diameter of your torso. A few more reps and you’ll be exactly like him because you both belong to the same gym.

The digital narcissism of Strava has perfectly melded with the desire to watch yourself in motion. Nextgen versions will integrate with the four personal drones that follow you on the ride, and it will also connect with Zwift riders who virtually challenge you in their basement on the live video feed while you pedal the actual street. The live feed on Facebag will show realtime power/HR/elevation/speed and a 3-D topographical map running along the bottom of the screen. After the ride you’ll relax with some diet water, eat some raw almonds, compare your performance with people who are similar enough to beat but not similar enough to beat you, and review the whole thing in a video podcast that you upload through your glasses. The world isn’t all about you. The world is you.

And really, the author did get it right. Strava is the killer app. And the thing it killed? Fun.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Tar maintenance

July 21, 2017 § 30 Comments

One of the most important parts on your bike is its tars. You can’t go far without them. They are the third most important bike part. The first is the handlebars. When you jump on your bike without the handlebars nothing good is going to happen. The second is the wheels. When you jump on your bike without the wheels you are going to hurt badly that place where your legs join up.

Tars are the contact point between you and the bike shop. Once you get a flat tar you need a tube or a patch which costs a couple of bucks. And once you go into the bike shop for a new tube you need a new 100% all carbon Pinarello pure carbon frame that is made of all carbon and Campagnolo which costs several thousand. You know how marijuana is the gateway to heroin? Tars are the gateway to Pinarellos. Chinarellos if you shop online.

Lots of bicyclists spend a lot of time doing tar research. Which tar is right for me? Well hell I don’t know and I would give you a list of things to look for in a tar except Waldo is counting my lists and he is a subscriber. So instead of a list I will give you a run-on sentence. Tars should be rubber and hold air, which is measured in pounds per square inch or something called “bars.” Back in the day an old Belgian would get a flat, patch it with a piece of asphalt, get another flat, throw the bike in the fuggin’ ditch, and go into a bar. “Y’all got any tars?” he would ask and they would say “Whyncha belly up to the bar while we go look?” Anyway it took about 6.8 beers at the bar, or 6.8 “bars” to find a tire which they would inflate to 100 pounds per square inch so nowadays Euros just say “gimme 7 bars” or eight bars and etcetera.

But back to tars which are confusing. Do you need an off road, on road, hybrid, or commuter tar? Like I said, hell I don’t know. But I do know this. The other day I got a pair of Vittoria Super Fake Racer Profamateur tars that cost a lot of money. Everyone said I shouldn’t train on them because even though they were more supple than your mistress they were eggshell thin like your wife’s radar about you suddenly dressing differently and running errands at odd times of the day. In short, everyone said I would soon be getting double flats and it would be a waste of time and money and etcetera.

However I remember once hearing someone say that the way to get more life out of a tar (and maybe a mistress too) is to rotate them regularly. That sounded easy until I learned that these Vittoria race tars in addition to being supple were tighter than my bank account at the end of the month. Or the beginning for that matter even though I got a $324.15 cash back credit on my Visa card. Do you know how much money you have to spend to get $324.15 cash back credit? Answer: More than $324.15, which just goes to prove the old adage that you can’t make money by spending it. Although I try.

Anyway, I slapped those tars on the rims on May 23 and it is now July 21, which is almost two months, and every two weeks I have rotated my tars. They still have another month left on them, easily, maybe two. And I haven’t gotten a single flat.

If tar swapping works with prima donna tars like these and you don’t mind losing a few fingernails every time you rotate them, you will get way more mileage and better yet, your tars will wear evenly. Plus even if you are a horrible mechanic and can barely fill a water bottle without breaking your seat post, once you get handy at tar swapping and fingernail re-growing you will feel a big sense of accomplishment.

And if all else fails and you are standing out on my balcony with your feet in the vinegar-baking soda anti-fungal concoction bowl and your fingernails are littering the floor and you don’t have any palms left, only big raw meat holes where you ground off all the skin, you can always call my buddy Usta Befit. He will get you fixed up in a jiffy. That boy never met a tar he couldn’t change.

END

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Cheese melt

July 4, 2017 § 24 Comments

I got back from Texas and immediately began googling “lugged steel frames.”

Of course we all know that lugged steel frames have no place in modern, civilized society.

There is no good explanation for dumbly scrolling through pictures of [your favorite lugged frame builder here] other than my brain melted while I was in Texas. It’s not to say that steel frames are bad, or not worth buying, or that you shouldn’t have three, or anything … it’s simply to say that me looking for a steel frame makes about as much sense as me looking for DIY nipple piercing equipment. Wrong dude, wrong tools.

To add to the confusion, I love steel frames. I love them so much that I sold all of mine years ago at an eBay fire sale. You love something? Set it the fuck free. You hate something? Install it in your bedroom.

Anyway, the problem with steel frames is that if you build them up with modern components they look like men’s formal wear with Ugg boots.

Steel bikes look prettiest with down tube shifters, Mavic Reflex 36-hole tubular rims, a quill pantographed stem, and a Concor saddle. That’s how they look prettiest to me, anyway. No carbon fork, either, and for dog’s sake, please polish your lugs. Sheesh.

All this came about because I went for one, that’s right, one, bike ride in Austin. It was unspeakably hot and damper than a wet t-shirt contest. And it wasn’t even that hot, only a hundred degrees or so. I usually ride 3-4 hours and drink half a bottle, maybe a full one if it’s hot here in SoCal.

On my 67.5-mile pedal in CenTex, I went through three water bottles and three 16-oz. bottles of Dr. Pepper, and I was so dehydrated that three days later my tongue is still so swollen that it sticks to the roof of my mouth and my fingertips are wrinkly and shriveled.

Texas riders are tough as nails. That heat is horrible, and the humidity is like pouring boiling water on a sunburn. The pulsing waves of scalding hot that washed over me for almost five hours scrambled my brains. I got back to my mom’s place and she asked “How was the ride?”

“It was fine.”

“Wasn’t it hot?”

“Not really.”

“You were out there for a long time.”

“I guess I am still somewhat acclimated to the Texas heat,” I bragged.

An hour later the sunstroke kicked in. I fell onto the bed and quivered for fifteen hours straight. Somewhere during my hallucinations a voice that sounded like Mom’s said, “We’re going to Barton Springs. Do you want to go with us?”

“Does it mean moving?” I asked.

“Only from here to the car. Which is air conditioned.”

“No,” I said. “I think I will stay here under this a.c. vent and moan for a bit.”

Back in California after a mere 22 hours on the road, I was still babbling and incoherent. And after my trip down memory lane the only thing I could think of was lugged steel frames, quill stems, and etc. I love steel frames. I’m going to email Richard Sachs right now.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

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