July 19, 2016 § 38 Comments
One of my buddies who has been cycling for all of a year has been absolutely ripping legs off on the local group rides, especially anything with a bump in it. He is a friendly guy until the ride gets hard and then suddenly he’s not, ladling out huge, steaming helpings of pain until you slide off the back with your broken ego, having opened your suitcase of courage only to find that mom packed it with wrinkled, ill-fitting, polyester excuses.
So it came as a surprise when he got this message from Thorfinn-Sassquatch, recent winner of a lifetime achievement award from USADA. It appears that my buddy’s conquests on Strava, like his conquests against real people, have popped up on Nick Brandt-Soreasson’s fragile ego radar. To wit:
Perhaps Thorfinn wants to keep tabs on someone whose antics are sending him a barrage of “Uh-oh” emails, or perhaps he thinks he’s found a potential customer for some “supplements.” I hardly have the heart to tell Dopesquatch that he’s barking up the wrong tree.
This is the kind of thing that grabs your attention here in the South Bay, or maybe it’s the masters racer who for years was nothing spectacular and is now on practically every podium in practically every race he enters.
And then on the national stage there are the true asshats like Floyd Landis, a guy whose exploits include:
- Cheating to win the Tour
- Defrauding over 1,700 people with a fake legal defense fund
- Drug use that contributed to his father-in-law’s suicide
- Suing his fellow dopers for doping crimes
- Starting a “new lease on life” … as a dope seller
It all seems a bit surreal, knowing that the Tour is a dope-addled version of pro wrestling for skinny people, and it all seems strangely funny as old fellows pump their bodies with every manner of poison in order to score virtual trinkets and podium hardware that includes free beer, recovery drink mix, candy bars, and socks.
But then you realize what cycling’s dopers have always said is true: This is the bush leagues. Sure, cyclists dope. “Duh,” as they used to say twenty years ago.
But that ain’t nothing compared to Russia, who is on the verge of having all of its teams in all of its sports banned from the Dolympics. According to Canadian law prof Richard McLaren (no relation to the car):
Russia’s “Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.” The FSB is Russia’s federal security service while the CSP is involved in the training of Russian athletes.
In other words, some boring Canadian dude just concluded about Russia’s national sports program what the international diplomatic and journalist world has been saying for years: Putin is a criminal and Russia is a mafia.
Suddenly, sleazebag dope-peddling Floyd and sleazebag stretchy-underwear dope peddling Soreasson and sleazebag Local Masters Racer don’t look so bad. In fact, they look smaller than the average man-package outline as seen on the average bike racer podium. We’re talking super tiny.
Which raises a big question: If the Dolympics are going to start banning entire nations for doping, then what’s the point of the event? No world stage provides a bigger or glitzier showcase for cheating, fake performance, hypocrisy, bribery, and graft. I fear for the future of an event whose moral high points include its attempt to silence free speech regarding China’s occupation of Tibet prior to the Beijing Dolympics, as well as its acceptance of $4.4 million in soft “entertainment” bribes prior to selecting Nagano as the host city in 1998.
More to the point, are we going to take Russian superiority lying down? If the challenge of Sputnik got us to put a man on the moon, maybe it’s time that Russia’s state sponsored doping and “mind boggling levels of corruption” kicked us into high gear as well. What about a steering committee composed of Lance, Floyd, Soreasson, and Rich Meeker, a true Dream Team that can help us figure out what our nation needs to do so that we can level the cheating field?
I’ve even got a slogan in mind: “Making America Great Again” (merchandise made in China, of course). It would be a fantastic motto under which we can promote thievery, chicanery, duplicitous hypocrisy, and self aggrandizement at the expense of the peasants. Can someone check to see if that slogan is already taken?
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June 4, 2016 § 6 Comments
In Italy they are describing Vincenzo Nibali’s comeback and Giro d’Italia victory as one of the greatest comebacks in professional cycling. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Nibs to get the skinny on this most incredible, amazing, unbelievable, hard-to-swallow, astonishing, fact-defying, physiologically impossible, doubtful, suspicious, believable if you’re a complete fool, impressive and astounding victory
CitSB: How’d you do it?
Nibs: It was a miracle, a holy gift from above.
CitSB: A week to go in the race and you had crumbled, your bid was in ruins after losing 37 seconds on the big Dolomite stage to Corvara, and then you collapsed quicker than a Trump quote run through Fact-Check, losing close to two minutes in the mountain time trial to Alpe di Siusi.
Nibs: It was the depth of defeat, I had lost everything, the Holy Father was up all night praying in the sadness.
CitSB: Then you pulled a wanker move of the highest order, losing a further 1:47 on the relatively easy mountain stage to Andalo, a stage that, frankly, my grandmother could have beaten you on.
Nibs: It was zero, nothing, niente, everyone was stepping on my testicles. To bed every night, crying like the baby with dry teat.
CitSB: You seemed close to throwing in the towel and quitting the race. What was going on?
Nibs: I had the problem with my forma, everyt’ing in destitution, length of crank, motivazione, but it was over for me.
CitSB: So what happened?
Nibs: My team manager Alexander Vinokourov told me to pray to the Baby Jesus and only do the pan y agua and he go to Kazakhstan on special overnight trip and come back with special vitamin drink made from root of lubbertink.
CitSB: Root of lubbertink?
Nibs: Special Kazakhstan magic herb to replenish precious bodily fluids.
Nibs: Comes in special Kazakh plastic bag with I.V. drip.
CitSB: I see. That “magic herb.”
Nibs: I know what you t’inking. I have the two giant stages in the Alps and am out of the gasoline. How Nibali he can win? Dat’s what you t’inking. Nibali he doping shit-ass. Dat’s what you t’inking. Nibali cheat-ass doping cheat-ass bici lying volcano-doping shit-ball, dat’s what you t’inking.
CitSB: Well, yes.
Nibs: Itsa root of lubbertink and Sicilian pride and instinct, and destiny child when Kruijswijk fall off his bici onto head, putting Dutchman in trouble and bandage. I believe in my resurrection and complete masterpiece by dropping Chaves on the Colle della Lombarda like smelly sack of turd off tall cliff.
CitSB: Physiologically it doesn’t add up. One week you can’t pedal, then in the hardest week of the race you grow wings.
Nibs: Itsa look funny but I gotta trust Vino. He know how to pull the pepper outta the sausage.
CitSB: Anything else?
Nibs: Pan y agua and Sicilian pride.
CitSB: And root of lubbertink.
Nibs: And root of lubbertink.
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April 26, 2016 § 57 Comments
One time I was whining to friend about using computer technology to compose music. “So bogus!” I declaimed.
“STFU,” he advised, being a composer. “If Mozart had had it, he would have used it. Musicians always use the best thing available. The piano was a revolutionary instrument and Mozart owned it.”
“Maybe,” I said, “but if he’d used a program to compose I can guarantee you one thing.”
“His music would have sucked.”
The first time I saw an ebike up close was a few years ago. Greg S-J had a new Specialized ebike that, with a tweak and a twist of Old No. 72, had been programmed to go 30 mph. “Great,” I had said. “Next we’ll have Smedley Sagbottom on the bike path doing 30 as he learns about things like the grippyness of sand in a screaming turn.”
As old and change-resistant and bitter and grumpy people are wont to do, I predicted the following:
- People will begin racing them.
- They will become ubiquitous.
- It will be the end of civilization.
Two out of three isn’t bad.
When I was in Germany last summer dragging my son uphill along the Rhine from Cologne to Koblenz, we passed hundreds of ebikes going the other direction. We never passed a single ebike going in the same direction.
The ebikes were all pedaled by old German people who were getting exercise or running errands or casually whipping by the world’s fittest and most delusional 52-year-old profamateur SoCal bike racer from New Jersey who grew up in Galveston and Houston. And that last part made them sooooo happy. The first hundred times a creaky-kneed Opa showed me a wrinkly pair of heels it made me grind my teeth so much that I lost most of my enamel. But actually I was just following the Five Stages of Grieving for Getting Owned by an Ebike.
- Murderous rage.
- Wild, uncontrollable fury.
So then back at home the ebike thing continued to grow, and continues. Some people complain because of e-doping, where pro cyclists put tiny motors in their bike to add a few watts when the going gets tough, cf. Fabian Cheatsalotta in the Tour of Flanders. Others complain because it ruins the purity of the sport, where results depend on training, diet, natural ability, computerized watt meters, a race director with a radio who can instruct you exactly how hard to pedal and for how long, and a doctor who can advise you how to beat the drug tests.
In fact, some people care so much about ebikes that they have left cush jobs in the cycling industry, as if any job is cush, and as if cycling is an industry instead of a mafia for dumb people.
But back at the Mozart Ranch, though, where you pretty much have to admit that people will grab whatever technology gives them a leg up on everyone else (Charles Darwin wrote a book about it once), the world is shrugging. Motors let fat sprunters climb with the goats, and they let skinny goats sprunt with the big boys. Just kidding. If you are a tiny climber you will never beat a sprunter, even if he’s on a Big Wheel and you’re on a Ducati. That’s because sprunters win mainly on balls not watts. However, I’ve heard that Specialized is coming out with a pair of eBallz that will take care of that problem, too, and also make a cool ornament for your trailer hitch.
No, the world doesn’t care that we’ve moved on from human power to e-power in bicycles. The slow will get really fast, the homebound will get out and take the lane, and the nature of racing will shift from drugs-radios-computers to drugs-radios-computers-and-motors. Ah, excuse me. IT ALREADY HAS.
And don’t cry on my shoulder. There is actually a world for people who like obsolete shit that performs badly and only looks good because it’s old–it’s called Penny Farthing Racing and Classic Car Collecting. Help yourself to some nostalgia, and don’t forget to wear a helmet.
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April 19, 2016 § 17 Comments
Pierre Fauntleroy de Brinvilliers, head analyst for the Departemente du Dopage Mechanique at the UCI, announced a breakthrough today that will allow the world’s governing body for cycling to effectively combat the use of hidden mechanical devices in the pro peloton.
“We have expended many euros in the fight against dopage mechanique, employing only the best experts to assist in discovery of the technique the most effective for prevention of the dopage mechanique,” explained de Brinvilliers at a press conference earlier today.
According to de Brinvilliers, his team has discovered “a variety incroyable” of secret devices that allow riders to go faster. “Eet is beyond l’imagination, how zees professionelles are cheating the sport and the fans, and l’investigation suggests many are complicit, yes, with an emphasis especiale on les manufacturers, who eet appears are working hands in their gloves to promote l’cheating avec these cheating cheateurs who cheat.”
Using many of the same staff members who have led the UCI’s successful fight against traditional doping in cycling, the UCI has now mounted an equally vigorous assault on the scourge of mechanical doping. In addition to recruiting Tom Danielson, David Millar, and other respected ex-professionals to assist with public outreach, de Brinvilliers has assembled “le foremost equipage d’experts technicale in the entire world” to “detect and destroy” all “vestiges of dopage mechanique.”
At the press conference, the UCI’s Technical Division revealed the first results of their unannounced inspections. “We have gathered proof that virtually 100% of the peloton is now using dopage mechanique; initial inspections revealed widespread cheating, even on training rides,” according to Chief Inspector of Mechanical Doping, Jacques Clouseau, who presented photos of an array of doping devices discovered by his undercover squad.
“This first item,” said Clouseau, “is of undetermined function but is cleverly hidden in the rear of the bicycle. Our laboratory is performing tests to understand how it adds power and speed, allowing cyclists to cheat.”
“This next item,” he added, “is perhaps more diabolical. Preliminary tests show that rather than adding speed, it appears to reduce it, which is counterintuitive, however, our working hypothesis is that by reducing speed illegally at certain points, perhaps, such as bends in the road, it provides secret and illegal methods of allowing the rider to accelerate later, which he would not be able to do if, for example, he smashed into the curb and broke his head.”
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April 6, 2016 § 41 Comments
I paid little attention to the faux exploits of Dan Bilzerian as he pedaled his way to a cool million or so in a bet about whether or not he could ride from Las Vegas to Hollywood in 48 hours. But I did pay attention to the controversy it generated in my little corner of the universe, because shortly after winning the bet Bilzerian posted a Facegag video with this charming bit of literature:
Two things stand out:
- Hates gays.
- Hates cycling.
So he’s probably not going to be someone I invite to my next Gay Men’s Fitness Ride. But what bothered me wasn’t this painfully short dude trying to make up for it with daddy’s money and a bushy beard, but it was that people in my cycling community got their teeth caught in their zippers over it.
Bilzerian allegedly spent upwards of $60k at local bike shop Helen’s in Santa Monica and another bundle on the coaching services of Nate Loyal. Then, after the ride he stuck a fork in their eyes by laughing at our “fake” sport, pocketing a ton of money, and merrily skipping back to his stock-in-trade of misogyny, small penis machismo, and Instagram blather.
This pissed off some other Westsiders, one of whom is named Tony. He was not, shall we say, amused, and a host of other cyclists were enraged at the insults that Shorty sprayed on our sport like a fire extinguisher filled with shit. Bilzerian had succeeded in doing what he apparently does best: Playing to his audience (non-cycling misogynistic gay-hating couch potatoes) and showing the middle finger to everyone else. Oh, and picking up a cool million.
So first things first, and you’re not gonna like it. This was an impressive athletic accomplishment. I don’t care if he drafted. I don’t care if he had 7-time-Tour-de-Doper Lance Armstrong offering coaching advice. I don’t care if he rode a recumbent.
What matters is that an avowed non-cyclist pedaled from Vegas to Hollywood in 48 hours. It’s a long ass way and most Americans, let alone the congenital sloths who make up Bilzerian’s fan base, couldn’t do it if their clogged arteries depended on it.
But it gets better. The dude proved that you don’t have to be very fit or very athletic or very ANYTHING to ride your bike hundreds of miles. If you have the desire, motivation, and money, you can do it, and better yet, you don’t even need the money. Anyone mildly desirous of getting in shape and having fun can, with a bit of preparation and commitment, ride a bike incredible lengths and achieve amazing stuff.
For that Bilzerian deserves credit. He’s the ultimate Fred and he did it his way. What’s not to like?
Now that you mention it, a couple of things, for example, he’s a homophobic misogynist who beat self-important cyclists at their own game.
Can I back up a sec?
Bilzerian didn’t beat anyone except another gambler. He didn’t win a bike race. He didn’t pin on a number. He didn’t contest an event with multiple entrants under a set of rules. He sure as fuck didn’t line up at San Dimas. He bet some other dude some money and won and claimed to have mastered the sport of cycling, which according to him isn’t even a real sport. I won a game of flag football against some little kids, proving that the NFL is a joke.
And the people who helped him on his way? Well, they got paid for it, and apparently they were paid pretty well. If Bilzerian had come to me after getting run over by a truck I wouldn’t have turned down his case just because he’s a douchebag.
The only thing this guy did that bothers me at all is this: He created a division among good people where none needs to be. Tony was right to take a stand and criticize the guy’s misogyny and hatred of gays and he was right to scorn Bilzerian’s claim that he has somehow exposed cycling as a non-sport. But Helen’s and Nate were also right to take the money and do the job. If every bike fitter and bike shop had to police the politics of their customers before providing their service, there would be few bike shops and even fewer bike fitters. In fact, providing services based on the customer’s sexual orientation is exactly what the states of North Carolina and Mississippi have just done, and it’s not turning out well for anyone.
The wasted part is that Bilzerian was introduced to the nicest bunch of people and invited to be part of a global fraternity. We are men, women, and children of every persuasion, ethnicity, nationality, and political belief. We ride for fun, for work, and for transportation. And for the most part we prefer riding to not, and are happy to see new people share in our passion.
Small Dan Bilzerian couldn’t see, or wasn’t interested in the gift. And instead of politely handing it back with a “No, thanks,” he urinated on it, then dumped it on the dinner table.
That’s too bad, but not for us. The gift is eternal and easily washed off, re-wrapped, and passed back on to your friend, your spouse, your child, your grandchild, or the neighborhood kid.
And if he ever gets tired of being a professional douche, he’ll find that the gift is all cleaned up, ready, and waiting for Dan Bilzerian, too.
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March 27, 2016 § 27 Comments
New doping meats Michael Buckley of Reno, Nevada, accepted his four-year doping suspension for doping as a doped doper with grace, courage, humility, thoughtfulness, and optimism tinged with regret.
Buckley’s masters cycling profamateur agent, Hoydinck van der Leyen van Poppkorn, issued the following statement:
“Michael wants to apologize to his Specialized-Touchstone Masters teammates, none of whom dope or knew anything about doping in general or his doping in particular, his wife, his kids, and of course his mom and dad and brother Biff. This doping suspension for using dope and being a doper in no way defines who he is, his ethics, or his character. He plans to move forward to put this one-time mistake behind him and work to foster an environment where doping does not have to be an option for California masters profamateurs trying to achieve their dreams and win the 35+ Festersore RR in East Stonefuck, which has twelve entrants and a $12 prize list.”
CitSB caught up with Buckley, the doping doper meats who doped, and got an exclusive interview.
CitSB: That was a pretty heartfelt statement written by your agent.
Meats: Yeah, he’s good. Fuggin’ Belgians know how to say “sorry” for doping, y’know?
CitSB: What’s next for a washed up masters profamateur doping meats like yourself?
Meats: I’ve had a long time to think about this since December, that’s a full three months.
CitSB: One full “cycle.”
Meats: Exactly. And I want to make the sport better. It’s not right that we profamateurs have to choose, in the quest to actualize our dreams of winning the local training crit, between racing clean and being loaded to the meats on doping meats. I want a sport where you don’t have to choose. Where it’s not meats or nothing.
CitSB: Wow, that’s really impressive. How are you going to achieve it?
Meats: I’m going to start a web site.
CitSB: A web site?
Meats: Yeah. It’s called Gastrocnemia Patients Group.
CitSB: Is that even a word?
Meats: Yes. It comes from the gastrocnemius vein, one of the veins of the leg. There are a lot of people out there with gastrocnemiitis, a rare disease of the leg veins that inhibits the uptake of things you put in it.
CitSB: Uh, okay. And what does one do on this web site?
Meats: It’s for informational purposes only. How to obtain maximal uptake for the leg vein in case you’re really ill and need to put something in there.
CitSB: I see.
Meats: And I’m also going into cycling apparel.
CitSB: Do tell.
Meats: There’s a high demand for custom, bespoke, made-to-measure cycling clothing, high end stuff that is clean, fits well, lasts forever, and stands out on the group ride.
CitSB: Do you have a name for the line?
Meats: Uh-huh. That’s trademarked, by the way, so shoot me a copy of this interview before you publish it so I can have my lawyers proof it to make sure you don’t infringe on my Meatsmark.
CitSB: So why the name “Meats?”
Meats: Because it takes a lot of power to, you know, make the big meat sing.
CitSB: Are we still talking about cycling?
Meats: You know, the big meat. The big ring. That’s what we used to say when we were drilling it in the 53 x 11. “He’s making the big meat sing.”
CitSB: Got it. Singing meat. What are the first product offerings on this … Meats … website?
Meats: We’ve got the red “Extra Watts jersey” for $631 per vial, the “Recovery bibs” for $589, and the “Race Day speedsuit” for $1,550 in two monthly treatments.
CitSB: Are you on Strava by any chance?
Meats: Yes. That’s part of my marketing strategy.
CitSB: It is?
Meats: I’m going to get lots of KOM’s using my Meats to raise Meats brand awareness and awareness of gastrocnemiitis.
CitSB: Do you think people might actually be turned off by Michael Buckley, a doping meats doper who doped and got caught cheating by doping against other people who also might have been doping?
Meats: No way. People will understand that you make mistakes. Ask forgiveness, never permission. Toss in a few rebel alleycat unsanctioned races and talk a little smack, maybe get a few tatts, I’ll have a whole new career turning my life around just in time to age up for 45+ masters nats.
CitSB: Hasn’t this all been done before?
Meats: Not that I know of.
CitSB: What’s your Strava handle, by the way?
Meats: “Meatsquatch.” But you can’t write that. It’s trademarked.
CitSB: Of course.
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March 22, 2016 § 35 Comments
After the fuss and feathers of Dick Doper died down, I felt depressed.
In one sense, Dick Doper really did win because he makes me realize what one commenter pointed out, which is that this Keystone Krook is a completely minor player in what has to be a worldwide, multi-billion dollar enterprise of cheating and crime.
And Dick’s doings have affected a lot of people. When I get my ass stomped in masters bike races, some other rider always mutters to me about “the dopers.” As much as I like to attribute my shitty bike racing results to a lifetime of bad judgment and little ability, it takes the fun out of it when you cogitate overmuch on the possibility of who’s doing what.
It’s like that for a lot of people. They want to compete but they don’t want to pay the money and spend the day away to get annihilated by cheaters. I dare you to call that kind of experience or the doubt and skepticism and cynicism it induces “fun.” In the past I’ve always subscribed to the sound theory that “If you want to race bikes you better put doping out of your head or it will ruin it for you.” Dick is another crack in the dike for me, and a completely collapsed dam for a lot of others.
But it’s even less fun than that, because his great results on Strava in conjunction with his drug dealing make it hard to escape the conclusion that people are literally Strava doping. And not this kind, either. So even though I don’t play Strava, the people who are in that particular sandbox as an alternative to human racing have their fun taken away by the same kind of cheating and by many of the self-same cheats.
Of course people have always cheated at games, but there were either fewer of them doing it in local races or we were a lot less informed about it, or both. In the old days if you were a cheater there weren’t many bike options in town once people found you out. But now you can cheat, get booted out of one group, and seamlessly cruise into another. Hell, people will even admire you as a renegade and buy your doper-branded clothing.
It makes you wonder where you can ride a bicycle to enjoy healthy competition and a fair fight. Dick proves that as long as there is anything at stake, be it glory or Internet bragging or a few bucks, a lot of people will cheat to win. There used to be shame associated with cheating, but how could there be now? George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer have shown the little fellows like Dick Doper that as long as you can turn it to your advantage, lying and cheating are just extra rules of the game you have to know about in order to win, kind of like the off-off-menu at In ‘N Out.
But it’s also a good feeling to see that so many people find his lousy behavior as lame as I do. It’s also gratifying when you wind up on the same side of a fight as Steve Tilford. It’s like being on Muhammed Ali’s team. You’re not only fighting for what’s right, you’re teamed up with the guy who’s going to knock the shit out of everyone else.
Best of all, Dick Doper’s behavior seems to show that he has zero remorse for what he’s done. To the contrary, shortly after his plea deal he and his wife began sending out groundless cease-and-desist letters to people who were simply reporting facts, or, as in my case, simply making a joke about a dumb name. That seems like a violation of the conditions of his plea deal, not to mention a pretty obvious lack of remorse. Maybe someone will bring it to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Los Angeles and also point them to the unbelievable amount of traffic and discussion this has generated in the cycling community.
Wouldn’t it be great if at sentencing time on July 20, the judge took into account Dick Doper’s lack of remorse and hit him with the full $100k, 1-year jail sentence?
That would almost qualify as a happy ending. But it still wouldn’t make it fun.
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