Rapha severs ties with Team Sky, cites “Market saturation”

November 5, 2015 § 24 Comments

Rapha announced today that it would end its partnership with Team Sky at the end of 2016. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Chauncy Chalmers, CEO of Rapha, to talk about the divorce.

CitSB: What was it? Irreconcilable differences?

Chauncy: Oh, far from it. We’ve both benefited immensely from the partnership and are leaving on the best of terms. We plan to remain friends, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without Team SKY.

CitSB: And where are you today?

Chauncy: We are the dominant player in the pretentious bicycle clothing market. $345 for a pink plastic vest. See? We OWN it.

CitSB: Yes, but there’s more to your success than that, isn’t there? Rapha is regarded as one of the best fitting, most superbly designed clothing manufacturers in the bike industry, combining the understated English qualities of Savile Row with the hardman exploits of volcano dopers. That’s what they say over at Red Kite Prayer, anyway.

Chauncy: Don’t believe everything you read; that guy was nominated for Wanker of the Year. Our stuff is made by the same underpaid Chinese garment workers as every other label. And get this–the average Chinese worker makes $19.81 per day, just under $2.50 an hour. Pretty sweet mark-up, I’d say.

CitSB: Schweet, for sho. So why the break-up with SKY? Seemed like a match made in heaven. Pretentious British label hawked by marginal gains volcano dopers with funny accents that sound vaguely aristocratic to the untrained American ear, which can’t distinguish between the Queen’s English, Ozzie Jibberjabber, and Pig Latin.

Chauncy: Yes, the American market is what we’ve always referred to as “gullible.” And it certainly has paid the bills.

CitSB: So why the breakup? Faux English tailored cycling kits with a vaguely 70’s design in updated 21st Century Pink; volcano dopers who talk funny and millions of tubby Americans who think Rapha’s been around since Eddy Merckx.

Chauncy: The market is saturated.

CitSB: How can that be? There are ten new baby seals on the NPR every week, ripe for clubbing and for new Rapha kits and for 100% full carbon parts made of pure carbon. It’s only just begun!

Chauncy: Our market research shows that with the exception of New York, Los Angeles, and parts of North County San Diego, the pretentious asshole demographic is saturated and shrinking.

CitSB: Impossible.

Chauncy: It’s true. Most people who ride bicycles aren’t snobby twits who crave approval by being treated rudely and looked down on. What’s worse, most people who ride bicycles don’t really care what their bicycle clothing looks like.

CitSB: Blasphemy! How do you know that?

Chauncy: We took our team of designers to the Tour of Palm Springs last year to examine the market first hand. Three of our designers are still in therapy. It gets worse. We randomly sampled riders, asking them if they liked Wiggins better than Froome. The answer blew our mind.

CitSB: What did they say?

Chauncy: They all said the same thing: “Who?”

CitSB: Shocking. And so you’ve pulled the plug. What’s Team SKY going to be wearing for 2017 then?

Chauncy: It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it off the record.

CitSB: You can trust me.

Chauncy: They’ve hired one of your local guys here in LA to do their kits. Apparently one of the designs here has really caught their fancy.

CitSB: Which one is that?

Chauncy: Big Purple, or Orange, or something.

CitSB: Big Orange?

Chauncy: Yes, that’s the one. You know them? They must have a pretty understated look to catch Team SKY’s eye.

CitSB: Nope. Never heard of ’em.




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Presidential bicycle candidates

October 30, 2015 § 15 Comments

If you ride bicycles a lot you don’t have time to do things like vote, especially since all your time off the bike is spent playing fantasy football. However, you may have heard that we’re about to elect a non-cyclist as president, which basically means that you don’t have a way of evaluating a candidate for our nation’s highest office, i.e. “What’s the dude’s FTP?”

So even though we don’t have any bikers on the slate, which means we’ll spend more trillions on killing people and buying $35 billion airplanes that don’t work and fighting over whether it’s worse to have no health insurance or to pay to have bad insurance instead of spending $1 trillion on cool policies like “a carbon wheelset made of 100% full carbon in every pot.”

This doesn’t mean that the candidates have been silent on cycling, so I’ve ranked them for you based on their cycling politics. The higher the ranking the more deserving they are of your vote.

1. Donald Trump. Sponsored an actual bike race to the tune of $750k, the Tour de Trump, which he named after a handsome, sexy, clever guy who actually said,  “This is an event that can be tremendous in the future, and it can really, very much rival the Tour de France.” Trump lost a few points in the Wanky Presidential Poll when he attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for falling off his bicycle and breaking a leg in a “race,” when in fact was simply a Fredathon. Had he gotten his facts straight and called Kerry out for being a Fred, he’d get our vote for Galactic Emperor.


2. Martin O’Malley. Super stud photo on MTB, but demerits for riding it in jeans and keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Although not as strong an advocate as fish cyclist Sarah Palin, O’Malley gave $44,500 dollars to a Baltimore bike safety program. “Whether for tourism, recreation, exercise or commuting, our message is that Maryland roadways welcome bicyclists,” O’Malley said in a press release. “Our state is evolving to include bicycling as a more environmentally beneficial and healthy way of commuting, and to continue those efforts we need bicyclists and drivers to know and follow the basic rules of the road for everyone’s safety.”


3. Hillary Clinton. Rode a bicycle with her husband on the beach and never told him to slow down, complained about her sore crotch, or asked him “if cycling will make my butt look big.” (He reportedly answered, “Yes, but it will make the rest of you skinny,” just before he was rushed to the hospital for some emergency dental work.)


4. Barack Obama. Best bicycle president ever after George Bush. Ineligible for a third term, Obama, despite amazingly dorky bike outfit, shows that you can have your finger on the nuclear button AND your feet on the pedals at the same time. Note nuke-carrying bar attached to seat post for dragging the suitcase around on shopping errands, which is boss.


5. Marco Rubio. Jumped on a bike in full Fred mode and rode at the front of a pack of weaving, swaying, out of control wankers. Obviously, going to the front makes Marco a potential presidential winner, period, and if he’d just worn a pair of stretchy shorts that highlighted his bagels and bone and hadn’t insisted on riding on the top tube, we’d start playing “Hail to the Chief” right now.


6. Jeb Bush. The field gets pretty thin after Marco, and to his discredit the portly Jeb has never said or done anything related to bicycles. However, his brother, a former president, is unquestionably the greatest leader America has ever had. He not only rode an MTB, shelled the secret service wankers whose job it was to protect him, fell off his bicycle and chipped his face before a big meeting, but he invited Lance to the White House just so he could beat the shit out of him on some singletrack. I believe in guilt by association, so the Jebster ranks despite his terrible cycling resume.


7. Rand Paul. Now we’re deep into douchebag territory. Once called the most interesting man in American politics by Time magazine, which proves that Time’s writers will say anything, Paul went on a harangue against highway enhancement funds for bike paths. So far so good, since eliminating all bike paths and making cyclists ride their bikes in the streets where they FUCKING BELONG is something I totally agree with, but he fell off the rails when he equated bicycle infrastructure with “turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries.” Anyone who would insult turtles by comparing their needs to cyclists’ will never get my vote.

8. Sarah Palin. Although America’s dumbest politician hasn’t thrown her bra in the ring yet, Palin gets an honorable mention for her famous quote that “I need NOW’s defense like a fish needs a bicycle,” after Bill Maher called her a “dumb twat” and the National Organization of Women came to her defense. Palin’s advocacy for bicycling fish, however admirable, wasn’t strong enough to get her any higher in the rankings as she hasn’t yet officially declared. palin_harley

9. Bernie Sanders. One of our biggest disappointments. Bernie, who believes in “enough for all,” who thinks education and health care are more important than war and guns for toddlers, who supports a living wage, who believes the environment is the leading issue of our time, and who thinks that diplomacy must involve negotiation rather than kneejerk war, doesn’t have a single Internet photo of him riding a bike. What’s worse, the only thing even approximating Bernie on a bike is him standing at an outdoor barbecue with a bike in the foreground. Shame on you, Bernie! If you ain’t ridin’ you’re hidin’!


10. Rick Santorum. Makes the list because he hates bike paths along with Rand Paul. Santorum’s jab at cycling came in a 2011 Sac City, Iowa speech: “There’s no federal interest in bicycle paths. Is that a federal government responsibility? It is not.” He added “Local money should be spent on local projects.” Santorum’s anti-bike rhetoric was especially meaningful to the denizens of Sac City, which was named a RAGBRAI stop in 2012.



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Walking Chinese amazement to church

October 20, 2015 § 18 Comments

Before I go to a foreign country I like to try and learn to speak the language, or at least enough of it to make a complete idiot out of myself. You’ve all been there; boning up on French, arriving in Paris and asking the waiter while your heart is pounding like an 8-year old on the piano, “May please good morning eggs of soft nice weather,” and he replies in perfect English “Could you repeat that in English, please?”

I’m never deterred by coming across like a fool. If I were I wouldn’t practice law or ride a bicycle in my underwear duded up like superman without the cape or the special powers or the muscles or the good looks. And since we’re going to Taiwan next year I decided to crack out the ol’ Chinese textbooks I’d used in college. Unfortunately, they had been tossed somewhere between Move #12 and Move #35, so I ordered a new set of Practical Chinese Readers and got to work.

You may have heard that Chinese is difficult, but that’s only if you want to appear non-imbecilic. Otherwise it’s not that hard. Each morning as part of my masters bicycle racing workout I walk around the complex for an hour or so, listening to Chinese tapes on my iPhone 2 (gonna upgrade to 3 any day now!). We have a lot of Chinese neighbors and it’s been hot so they all sleep with their windows open.

I bet it’s weird to hear someone stomping around outside at 5:00 AM muttering, “My name is Ma Da-wei. I am Canadian. I met a beautiful girl. Are you busy? Let’s have cake. She is my sister. He is my grandfather on my mother’s side. Beijing is very big.”

Walking every morning is good exercise, too. It builds bone density without destroying the bone like running does. It’s also not filled with pain, as running is. Because walking is good exercise I have a longstanding habit of parking on French Street when I have court in Santa Ana. That’s about a mile from the courthouse, so I save on parking and get to stretch my legs before getting abused by judges and opposing counsel.

This morning as I was walking to court I came up to the stop light at the same time as a group of people. I immediately realized they were speaking Chinese. They were staring at a map and arguing about how to get to the Methodist Church, which was a block away. I knew this because they kept gesticulating at the map which said “Methodist Church French Street” in English.

They ignored me of course.

“Excuse me,” I said in my best Chinese. “There house walk walk to go.”

Shit got quiet pretty quick. “What?” said one of the tourists in Chinese. “You speak Chinese?”

“Yes,” I beamed. “My book teacher every day talk walk Chinese practice. Taiwan go.”

They began smiling and laughing and congratulating me on my complete mastery of this rather complicated language. It didn’t hurt that I was wearing a suit and carrying a fancy leather briefcase. “See you later!” they said, waving as they marched off to the Methodist Church. “Thank you for your help!”

“You’re welcome Thursday!” I blurted out. Then I checked my Timex and hurried off to court.



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Widening the circle

September 28, 2015 § 22 Comments

The first time I cycled with my wife was in June, 1987. I’d been in Japan for five months and my mom had just shipped over my pink Tommasini. It was heaven, pedaling through Tochigi-ken, climbing the mountains around and behind Nikko, rolling through the rice paddies on the coastal plain towards the sea.

“Hey, honey,” I said one day, “let’s go for a bike ride!”

“Okay!” She loved to ride her bicycle and had commuted on it throughout high school. It was a cute little red mama-chari with fenders, a rack, a basket, a kickstand, and a wide padded seat.

“Let’s do an easy pedal,” I suggested. “Then if you decide you like it we can do more.” Everyone knows that “do more” is biker codespeak for “buy a really expensive race machine that you can hunch over on, strain your back and neck on, and ram a sharp hard saddle up your ass while you suffer for a few hours.”

She didn’t know that. “Okay!” she said, and even today I remember the happy, pretty smile.

I picked a course out to the prefectural driving license center that was almost totally flat except for a couple of hilly sections, and it was so short you wouldn’t have even needed legs. I was kind of bummed because I knew I wouldn’t get a workout doing a measly 25 miles, but it was worth it to spend time with my sweetie. Plus, once we got going I could kind of pick up the pace a tad so I’d at least break a sweat.

We got most of the way there before she began to really complain. When we got home four hours later she was livid and her parts were raw.

The next time we cycled together was in 2013. It had taken her a while to get over the earlier ride, I guess. We rode down the Strand from Rat Beach to Manhattan Beach on the Fourth of July. It was just us and twelve million other people.

Then in Germany this summer with my youngest son, straddling bicycles as we crossed the country, this occurred to me: Why had I failed so signally to share this thing that has given me such joy with those I love the most? Why has cycling always been a kind of hex that shoos away everyone in my family? Why haven’t I ever been able to widen the circle?

The answer is simple, and as I’ve looked at my friends, I’ve realized I’m not alone. I’ve always presented cycling as something that only an insane person would want to do. Arduous. Time consuming. Expensive. Combative. Dangerous. Populated by other, equally insane people clad in weird and ugly clothing that shows your tummy and haunches in the most unflattering of ways.

Who the hell WOULD want to do it?

So I came back from Germany and set about a stealth plan to get Mrs. WM back on a bicycle. The key was to never mention cycling. Instead I offered to take her out to breakfast.

“Oh, that would be great!” She loves chatting and breakfast. “When?”

“How’s next Sunday?”

“Perfect! Where are we going?”

“Let’s go over to Java Man in Hermosa. You’ll love it. We can ride our bikes there.”

She looked suspicious. “I don’t have a bike.”

“You can use Cassady’s.”

“I can’t pedal back home up the hill.”

“We’ll drive down to Rat Beach and pedal from there.”

“I’m not going to wear those stupid bicycle clothes with the big maxi pad seat.”

“Me, either. Shorts and a t-shirt.”

She brightened. “Okay.”

At Java Man, Manslaughter, Hair, and Emily were waiting for us, dressed like normal people. We chatted and ate and laughed for over an hour, and no one mentioned bicycles or cycling or, dog forbid, bicycle racing. It was one of the best Sundays of my life.

“That was fun!” she said as we pedaled home on the bike path. “Can we do it again?”



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Post it up

September 18, 2015 § 9 Comments


I’m pretty excited about the upcoming South Bay Cycling Awards, slated for October 17 at Strand Brewing Co.’s new facility, 2201 Dominguez Street in Torrance. In addition to having Steve Tilford as our guest speaker, and in addition to having four inductees into our newly built Hall of Fame (constructed entirely of zeroes and ones on land borrowed from Mark Zuckerberg), it’s going to be a rollicking good time.

There are already enough RSVP’s to make it a capacity crowd, so if you don’t get there when the doors open at 5:00 PM there’s a chance you’ll be turned away. Normally, putting together an event of this size–20 awardees, almost 70 finalists, fancy invitations, several hundred drunks–takes an incredible amount of time, hard work, and attention to detail.

Unfortunately, those are my exact three weaknesses, so as in years past we’ve just made shit up and hoped for the best. This year will be no different, although with an executive committee of highly questionable abilities, it could potentially be even sillier than it was last year, when the high point occurred at 2:00 AM after everyone had been kicked out of the bar and survivors were staggering through downtown Manhattan Beach with a giant, 6-foot, inflatable pink penis.

Did I say this would be a classy event?

No, I did not.

Still, as things come together in their sloppily drunken sort of half-crazed way, people have lurched into the breach to help make things happen. Whether it was Chris’s invitation assembly team, or Joe’s amazing t-shirt and poster design, people keep stepping up to help.

So it came as another happy surprise when Tony Manzella offered to print up a batch of the posters designed by Joe Yule, another example of people pitching in to make a fun community event even more so. Unfortunately, my lousy photos don’t do justice to the artwork or to Tony’s high-end production of the prints, but if you show up on Oct. 17 you’ll be able to see these beauties in person, and maybe even get one for yourself!




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It takes a village (idiot)

August 29, 2015 § 10 Comments


The South Bay Cycling Awards are fast approaching, and a number of questions are begging to be answered.

Question: Where do I vote?

Who said anything about voting?

Question: What are the rules for selection of finalists?

All questions regarding all procedures can be found by clicking on this link, which takes you to the South Bay Cycling Awards Rule Book.

Question: There were, like, a zillion nominees. Are they all contenders for a Wanky in their category?

No. Three finalists have been selected from each category.

Question: How will we find out who the finalists are?

Check your mailbox every three hours. Notifications were mailed out today.

Question: I am pretty sure I am a finalist and am going to win but I have my second cousin’s wedding in Lancaster that’s on the same day as the awards. I’ll still get my Wanky, right?


Question: By riding 30,000 feet up Scheuren Rd. today in 17:45:56 hours, is Head Down James going to get some special kind of award?

That depends on what you mean by “award.”

Question: I heard that there is a secret committee comprised of Brauch, Martin, and Spivey. What kind of bullshit is that?

Complete, fresh, stinking, steaming bullshit. With flies on top.

Question: I crashed all year plus I’m the best male racer and the most fun to ride with and I’m a great advocate. There’s not a limit to how many Wankys I can win, is there?

One Wanky per wanker.

Question: That’s total bullshit. Where is that in the rules?

In the Rule Book.

Question: I told all my friends and club members and FB friends and Twitterati to email you votes for me and my club and tell you cool shit about me so I can win, plus I’ve been giving you hints and making suggestions to you on rides and on Facebag. Does that help or hurt my chances?

A billion times zero is still zero.

Question: Who’s paying for all this?

Have you ever wondered who’s responsible for all those Nigerian prince emails?

Question: Will there be food?

There will be food trucks, with a $5 discount for the first 500 guests.

Question: Will there be beer?

At the Strand Brewing Co.’s new 34,000 square-foot brewery? No, definitely not.

Question: Who is Steve Tilford, why is he the guest speaker, and why should I give a shit?

He is a curmudgeon, Eddy Merckx was busy, Google him.

Question: I’m not a bike racer. Can I still come?


Question: I hate bicycles and drive everywhere but I like beer. Can I still come?

Yes. But you might want to Uber home.

Question: I heard there is also going to a South Bay Cycling Hall of Fame. WTF is that?

Ask Brauch. It was his idea.

Question: Who’s going to be inducted into the Hall?

Nelson Vails, Marilyn Sonye, Ted Ernst, and Tony Cruz.

Question: Who are those wankers?


Question: Is Martin making those incredible, bad-ass horseshit trophies again?

They are horseshoes, not horseshit. And yes, they’re bad-ass, and yes, he’s making them again.

Question: I heard there was going to be a really crazy, off-the-hook trophy for the Crashtacular Fred trophy. Is that true?

Let’s just say, “J. Marvin Campbell” and that should answer your question.

Question: Can I get one of those cool Wanky Awards t-shirts designed by Joe Yule?


Question: Can I get one for free because we’re pals?


Question: What is a fucking jar?

You’ll find out on October 17.



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Some people

August 26, 2015 § 20 Comments

About a month ago I stopped to help a fellow flailer change his flat. By “help” I mean “stand there and watch.” It was an amazing flat. As he was stuffing the new tube into the tire, I looked at the one that had flatted. It had been patched at least twenty-five times. “Waste not, want not,” I thought, looking also at the tire with the threads showing. “Wonder how long that’s gonna last?”

He aired up the tire and then pfffffffffft.

“Crap,” he said. “That was my only spare tube.”

“No prob,” I said, handing him my spanking new one. I hardly ever get flats because I always replace my tires when they start to wear. It’s expensive and I’m cheap, but the tiny little strip of rubber holding you in a precariously delicate balance on just this side of oblivion, that’s a place worth spending a few extra bucks. The main use to which my tubes get put, it seems, is on other people’s bikes, which is cool. Pay it forward, right?

I grabbed his second tube that had flatted as he was airing up the tire with my new one. This tube, too, had about twenty patches on it and looked like it had been used as slingshot rubber back in the 50’s. He finally got going, and that was that. When I saw him the next day he never said anything or offered me a replacement tube, which I shrugged off because even though I’m a petty bastard, I’m not that petty. But it’s not like he was one of those people you never see. He’s around all the time.

It started to get under my skin after a few weeks every time I saw him I’d yell out, “Where’s my tube?” He’d pretend not to hear and would always dash off, which guarantees that I will never, ever, ever stop asking about that tube. In fact, if he tried to give me one I’d refuse it so I could keep up the heckling.

About two months ago I was going down a hill on a coffee ride and a gal who gets everyone’s share of flats double flatted. She is a flat magnet; two giant thorns, one in each tire. Her tires are always new, and so are her tubes, but she only had one spare. I gave her mine and we continued on. That was a Sunday, and I usually see her on the Thursday Flog Ride.

That Thursday she wasn’t there, but a few hours after the ride she sent me a message. “Did you get it?”

“Get what?”

“The coffee and the tube!”

“What coffee? What tube!”

“No way!” she wrote. “I put a pound of good coffee beans and a new inner tube at the top of Via la Cuesta this morning with a note for you; left it there about 6:20 and rushed home because I couldn’t make the ride because I had to take my daughter to lifeguard camp.”

“There was nothing. Just a bunch of broke down old farts coughing up spit, blood, teeth, and shards of broken ego.”

“Some bastard stole it,” she wrote. “It had your name on it.”

“It’s the thought that counts,” I wrote back, smiling, not only because she’s such a good person but because she cared so much that the one small favor get repaid.

Today when I went out to get the mail there was a package for me, and inside the package, this. And there weren’t any patches on that inner tube, believe you me.


Then I thought about the guy I see every weekend who’s madly pedaling away from a six-dollar inner tube. One person pedaling away, another eagerly pedaling towards.



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