un Spoke[n]

January 22, 2019 § 1 Comment

Every serious cyclist in the South Bay has become accustomed, addict-like, to awaiting the Monday morning non-delivery of California’s wittiest, edgiest, funniest, all-things-cycling newsletter, arriving as often as when Mars is in Scorpio and Jupiter sextile Pluto, slamming into your inbox like a serrano pepper enema.

Despite the incredibly prolific nature of his unproductivity, editor and mastermind Baby Seal recently sent me the following email:

Yo, Wanky–I have been snowed under all this rain and unable to non-produce my phantom newsletter lately. Any chance you could help a bro out and publicize the seasons of my discontent? Lots of mackerel piled high on this baby seal’s plate …

Arf arf!

JP “Baby Seal”

So like any friend would, I reviewed the latest and most recent goings-on in baby seal-land and offer up the following bulletproof excuses reasons that he has been unable to non-produce his phantom newsletter for the last little while.

Pinkeye, punk eye. Baby Seal contracted a life-threatening case of pinkeye a couple of days ago, putting him in bed, on an IV, requiring the defib paddles, cortisone shots, EPO, a hip brace, and three bottles of waterproof mascara. Fortunately he is on the way to recovery thanks to the seminal medical tome, “12-hour Cure for Anus to Eyeball Conjunctivitis.”

Car theft #2. Baby Seal’s car was stolen AGAIN right out from under his nose. This time it was found backed up to Performance Bankruptcy Liquidation Warehouse, filled with $250,000 in unsold merchandise. “So weird,” said Baby Seal. “But I’m glad the police found it.”

FTR training. Baby Seal has been putting in countless miles getting ready for the last ever Dave Jaeger French Toast Ride, an epic beatdown covering 117 miles of Ventura County’s toughest climbs. “I’m up before dawn grinding out the miles; no rest, no screwing around, all business all the time. Just got no time for not writing the phantom newsletter.”

No pain, no pain

Christmas sale season. Even though Christmas was a month ago, Baby Seal has been working overtime at the shop putting away stuffed toy decorations and glittery yuletide sale tags. “You spend four or five hour untying those little wire twisty thingies and man, you are done. Non writing on top of that? No way.”

Tap dance lessons. “This year I’m upping my game, not just strengthening my core in the gym but strengthening my vesicles for those power-sprint-thrusts by tap dancing. Crazy how wrecked you are after an hour of tap dancing. No time for not penning another non-edition of the newsletter after that, unfortunately.”

Mental exhaustion: A huge part of Baby Seal’s work duties involve regaling customers about his glory cycling days, i.e. that one time he rode to Santa Barbara and back without taking the train like he did that other time. “And customers,” Baby Seal says, “can be demanding AF.”

Customers think they own you!

Posterior ache: Whereas most people think the life of a seal is a bed of mackerel, it also involves lots of field testing, for example, for the new ergonometric women’s saddle from Specialized. “People think I’m not qualified because I’m a man,” says Baby Seal. “That is sexist bullshit.”

Carpal tunnel syndrome: Despite juggling such a heavy load, things got cray-cray when Baby Seal bought the new Specialized Pink Bike. Hundreds of hours of Google searches for socks that are a perfect Pantone match for the new pink bike and the new pink eye have left his already scarce free time all booked up with doctor’s appointments to relieve the pain in his finger joints.

Pink is the new black and white

So, there you have it. Once Baby Seal gets some of this mess cleared away, he will be back doing what he doesn’t do best, non-producing the best phantom cycling newsletter never written.



Rabbit, run

January 2, 2019 § 4 Comments

Remember how when you first heard there was a Chinese zodiac, and you eagerly looked up your birth year? You were so excited, probably because your western zodiac was disappointing or, like me, you didn’t really have any idea what a Capricorn was. WTF is a “sea-goat”?

Anyway, you scurried off and looked up your Chinese zodiac, and however bummed you were to be a sea-goat, you were about to get really, really bummed when instead of being a tiger or a dragon you found out you were Chinese rat. Or pig. Or ape. Or chicken. Suddenly, sea-goat was looking pretty good.

2019 is the Year of the Pig, so I’ve put together a cycling horoscope for you based on the Chinese zodiac. It is scientific, rely on it.

Rat: Though people consider Rat disgusting, pestilential vermin, it is also associated with, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility, and vitality. In other words, you look horrible but are pretty good in the sack. 2019 will bring Rat lots of clever, alert wheelsucking like Baby Seal, and the flexibility to get kicked off one #fakerace team but quickly picked up by another, also like Baby Seal. 2019 is the time for Rat to share responsibility, i.e. take a fuggin’ pull, wanker.

Cow: You appear to be XXXXL, but have steady, independent, responsible, conservative, quiet, and inflexible personality. You have a good temper, but when angered Cow gets out of control and becomes very stubborn. 2019 is the year that Cow will finally quit going to those lame #leavemethefuckalone rides and show up on a real ride, i.e. the Donut, and get its cow ass stomped, good. Cow will get angry and begin “training” with Dr. Lotte Needles.

Tiger: Tiger is bold, resolute, unyielding, dictatorial, arbitrary, ambitious, full of self-confidence, domineering, and mostly extinct in the wild. 2019 is a bad year for Tiger, as age, infirmity, loss of virility, encroaching senility, panic attacks, and shingles will cause Tiger to finally purchase an e-bike and try to sneak it in on the Donut.

Rabbit: Rabbit is handsome, smart, wealthy, surrounded by friends, admired even by enemies, always well-rested, healthy, a great climber, amazing in the sprints, nonpareil in the TT, equally adept in all disciplines, never sanctioned for doping, has all his natural hair, and flosses every day. 2019 will be even more perfection. Get used to it, haters.

Dragon: Dragon is mysterious, emotional, energetic, majestic, intelligent, and all-powerful. However, Dragon has difficulty making the right decisions when the pace picks up, typically cowering behind the largest weak rider and getting dropped, or sitting up way too early in the sprunt. 2019 is the year that Dragon will finally make her way to the front on the last lap of the NPR and get a solid 8th.

Snake: No one likes Snake except herpetologists, whose specialty sounds way too much like herpes for anyone to get close. Legless, flicking forked tongue, and serpentine movement make for a bad package. In 2019, Snake will eschew its dishonest, sly ways and keep its promise to lead out a teammate in the sprunt, or not chase down a teammate, or post a good photo of a friend on Instagram instead of that one where Snake caught you scratching your ass.

Horse: Horse has proactive, passionate, talented, and articulate personality, and is fastest for traveling on the ground. Horse is also known as “shoutypants,” kind of like Elijah, because Horse is always yelling at someone to do something and it’s always something to benefit Horse. In 2019 Horse will not shout as much and maybe win one of his Cat 4 races to justify the $10,000 bike and $5,000 in clothes and swag donated by his Armenian sponsors.

Sheep: Sheep can lose its direction without a guide. Sheep is a timid, shy, kind, patient, and endurable animal. It has supple, peaceful, and less assertive personalities. Basically, Sheep is everybody’s bitch. In 2019, Sheep will get tired of always being told what to do, attack early, and get a bunch of QOM’s.

Monkey: Monkey is active, aggressive, energetic, impatient, irritable, impulsive, and naughty. Basically, Monkey is the slut of the peloton. In 2019 Monkey will begin caring about his reputation a bit more and lay off the salacious, defamatory not-so-weekly newsletter.

Chicken: Chicken is thoughtful, talented, romantic and pretty. Chicken pursues perfection and doesn’t have big ambitions. Chicken just wants to enjoy the blessings of life, ride around in expensive kits on the IGR, and tell people to “slow down.” Basically, Chicken is lazy AF and hopes that it can just keep paying Coach Ron and somehow it will win a race. In 2019, Chicken will get fired by Coach for excessive laziness and uncoachability plus Chicken’s credit card got declined.

Dog: Dog is loyal and brave, but also has a strong sense of responsibility. This is bad for cycling, where responsibility is always rewarded with backstabbing treachery. Dog always tries to “do the right thing” but invariably ends up getting pushed up hills, especially on FTR. In 2019, Dog will get pushed up a lot of hills, again.

Pig: Pig has wisdom, initiative, and energy, however, Pig still cannot change a tire in less than 30 minutes. Pig is also not sure what “cross-chaining” is or how you tell a big gear from a small one. In 2019 Pig will correctly analyze a race and wind up on the podium, however, the 5th-place check for $25 will bounce.



Your destiny is written in the stars and on CitSB … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

A little help from your friends

December 28, 2018 § 5 Comments

It is easy to tell people to get it together when the New Year rolls around. But somehow resolutions never seem to work.

So I figured this year that instead of platitudes I’d offer up some concrete examples. Pick any one of these and stick with it for even a week or two, hell, even a day, and you can chalk up 2019 as a win. A big win.

  1. Be like Dave Wehrly. Take the brutal things life gives you without complaint and maintain your decency, generosity, and sense of responsibility to others.
  2. Be like Emily Georgeson. Compete like hell, take the victory with a humble smile, and compliment the other person when they win.
  3. Be like Rahsaan Bahati. Don’t be afraid to take the longest, hardest pull.
  4. Be like Cheryl McQueen. Give back.
  5. Be like Greg Leibert. Keep doing it the right way.
  6. Be like Michelle Landes. Let people know they are special and you love them.
  7. Be like Marvin Campbell. Help the world laugh, and call bullshit for what it is.
  8. Be like Daili Shang. Go to new places, learn new things, and excel at them.
  9. Be like Ken Vinson. Do what you say you’re gonna do.
  10. Be like Nevrik Gevrykian. Support your partner to the hilt.
  11. Be like Geoff Loui. Welcome people into your home, even cyclists.
  12. Be like Yasuko. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, even if it means riding in tennis shoes.
  13. Be like Baby Seal. Make other people the star.
  14. Be like Sherri Foxworthy. Never, ever fear the word “fuck.”
  15. Be like Elijah Shabazz. Be a true friend.
  16. Be like Surfer. Fit or unfit, hairy or smooth, finish the ride with a grin.
  17. Be like Lisa Clayton. Share your gift.
  18. Be like Lily Konsmo. Put up with the same old biking stories and do it with class, even when you don’t bike yourself.
  19. Be like Dave Jaeger. Talk plenty of shit, and back it up with legs of steel.
  20. Be like Ava Seyranian. Keep at it until your stuff is good enough to be exhibited in a major museum.
  21. Be like Charon Smith. Keep getting better, and turn out enough watts to fuse the cassette to the freehub body.
  22. Be like Kristie Fox. Let the boys win every once in a while.
  23. Be like Marco Cubillos. Sit on the front even when it’s windy AF.
  24. Be like Jami Brauch. Treat people with kindness and respect.
  25. Be like Evens Stievenart, Rudy Napolitano, and James Cowan on the Big Day. Put everyone to the sword, and wash it down with beer.
  26. Be like the Flawless Diamonds. Make a difference in people’s LIVES.
  27. Be like Chris Tregillis. Give your friends an attaboy when they need it. And when they don’t.
  28. Be like Deb Banks. HTFU.
  29. Be like Boozy P. Pull over, get off your fuggin’ bike, and fix the other person’s stupid mechanical even when you are completely bonked, in a foul mood, and still 50k from home.
  30. Be like Tink. Ride guys off your wheel.
  31. Be like Eric Hallander. Proofread it, even when it’s not yours.
  32. Be like Jess Cerra. Embrace adversity, then kick its ass.
  33. Be like Nelson Vails. Inspire people.
  34. Be like Kris Prinz. If you’re going to bother to do something, do it great.
  35. Be like Craig Leeuwenburgh and Bob Spalding. Look out for others.
  36. Be like Chris Gregory. Ditch the fuggin’ helmet.
  37. Be like Gus Bayle. Put your kids first.
  38. Be like Christine Marckx. Have the patience of a saint.
  39. Be like Joe Yule. Get back up.
  40. Be like Nancy Linn. Make people better.
  41. Be like Gary Cziko. Advocate like hell.
  42. Be like Lauren Mulwitz. Ride the NPR like it fuggin’ matters.
  43. Be like Robert Efthimos. Always do more than your share, especially when you’re shoveling shit.
  44. Be like Suze Sonye. Don’t take no crap from nobody.
  45. Be like Vlad Luskin. Always have a funny-ass retort.
  46. Be like Kate Wymbs. Go very, very fast on your bicycle.
  47. Be like Dan Chapman. Turn your pain into art.
  48. Be like Major Bob. Say exactly what you think, leave the sugar coating to Betty Crocker, don’t hold grudges, and be fair to a fault.
  49. Be like Trump. Just kidding. Don’t.



The list goes on and on, look around and you’ll see what I mean … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Kid stuff

December 22, 2018 § 8 Comments

It is easy to lecture people about being welcoming on group rides, but a bit harder to pull off in real life.

At the start of the Donut today there was a kid standing off to the side. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen, wearing tennis shoes, riding an ancient bike with toe clips, and sporting a wool jersey from the 70’s that said North Hollywood Cycle Club.

I saw him. Everyone did. But no one said anything as we leaned on our expensive bikes and chatted–and it was an intimidating crowd.

Jeff Mahin started the fun going out of Malaga Cove, and the hitters continually ground the field down. Dan Beam, Greg Leibert, Nick Bishop, Ivan Fernandez, and a couple of others continued the fun the first time up the Switchbacks to the radar domes. Wily Greek added some fun as I tried to hold onto his wheel, unsuccessfully.

The ride was so much fun that a lot of riders went home early; they had a fun quota for the holidays and exceeded it early.

When we hit Better Homes the fun started all over again, with Jeff throwing out fun bombs and many cratering under the hail of fun shrapnel. I had all the fun I could stand as we dumped out onto PV Drive, and the leaders rode away.

When we regrouped at the water fountain, the kid was still there, standing off to the side, completely ignored even though there were only ten of us. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“Noah,” he said.

“You are riding great. This your first time out?”

“No, my second.”

“How old are you?”


Suddenly everyone was listening. A rider came over and started talking to him. Another chimed in. We realized in unison that the only job in life that matters, being decent to young people who are trying hard, we had failed en masse. Some 17-year-old kid quietly, politely pedaling a 300-lb. bike with a pretty tough crowd … and no one had said a single fucking word to him. It hit us all at once.

But the tide had turned, and we had already begun making up for it.

The final climb up Via Zumaya Noah came rocketing past. “How much farther?” he asked.

“Ten minutes,” I said as he disappeared from view.



Starts with you. I mean, me … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

The art of non-blogging

December 6, 2018 § 3 Comments

I’ve been on a non-blogging vacation now for several days. Every day I insist that I’m not going to blog, so I don’t. But then, a little bit later in the day, it seems like it would be pretty easy to knock one out.

So although technically it’s not blogging, I do blog just a little bit.

A “technical blog” is one that involves extensive research, planning, focus groups, long bike rides in bad weather, and an analysis of cycling trade magazines. Technical blogs require verified sources, reliable information, and important new insights to the world of cycling in general and in specific the galaxy of cycling in the South Bay.

In other words, I’ve never written one.

The word “blogger” is kind of interesting. It derives from the Greek word “Blogae,” which means “huge waster of time and general numbskull.” It is very different from the words “journalist” and “writer,” which connote thoughtfulness, talent, skill, and professionalism. When you say that someone is a blogger you really mean that they aren’t good enough to get paid to write, or that no one except Mom reads what they write, which is mostly the same thing. When you say someone has a blog it’s kind of like saying they have an (unwashed) armpit. Everyone, with no practice at all, can have one and at some point in their lives invariably does.

I don’t know if the pejorative connotations come from the sound of the word, that is, “blogger” sounds vaguely like “booger” or “blooper.” Maybe the connotation comes from the fact that of all the media invented since the beginning of time, none is as vacuous as the blog.

Upon reflection it really makes sense to knock off blogging for a bit, so this is absolutely, positively the last one I’m doing until the end of my blogging vacation. Really. I’m not kidding around.



Take a break! Take a Kit-Kat! But don’t blog! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Even bloggers need a vacation

December 3, 2018 § 1 Comment

My favorite whine is a 2011, vinted in January of that year, and it goes like this: “I’m gonna start a blog!”

Going on nine years and an average of 270 posts a year, I’m starting to feel like a worn old old shoe. And if you look at my teeth, it’s hard to deny that I look like one, too.

I went to the dentist today and got my teeth sandblasted, which took off the first three layers of coffee scunge that accretes due to my 12-cups-a-day habit, but I still feel like a worn out old shoe despite the new shiny sparkle.

As a result I’ve decided to take a vacation. You won’t be hearing from me for  a few days as I go on complete radio silence. As Christopher Robin said, “Bisy Backson.”



Call me the breeze. I keep blowin’ down the road. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!


November 21, 2018 § 9 Comments

Do kids roughhouse anymore? When I go out to the playground there isn’t a lot of action, the kind that used to make the playground fun.

Nobody gets beat up, or falls and rips a gash in their leg, you never see four or five kids gang up on the weakest kid and make him eat dirt, and of course you never, ever, ever see Kill the Man with the Ball.

That’s because parents are about five yards away, max, and the minute that one kid with the evil gleam steal’s the other kid’s shit, or the minute that the mischievous little girl starts stirring the pot and calling names, well, the parents are all over it, nipping it in the bud.

Kids will be kids

Roughhousing has a purpose. It’s innate, kids’ desire to roughhouse. There was never a kid born anywhere in any country to any set of parents who didn’t like roughhousing. But lately, kids don’t get to do it much.

Roughhousing helps kids bond with other people. It’s the fighting, attacking, hiding, crying, and making up that teaches kids how to bond with other people who aren’t named Mom and Dad. The best time to learn that you can’t go around socking your best friends is when you’re little, not when you’re old enough to carry a spear.

And of course deep down, but not too far back in human history, roughhousing prepared kids to fight and to kill, whether it was members of a competing community or whether it was prey. These things are what make roughhousing irresistible to little kids; the only people who don’t seem to like it are the helicopters.

Bad grandpa

When my grandkids come over, the first thing that the eldest wants to do is roughhouse. He will slam me with pillows, punch me in the gut, face, legs, arms, back, shoulders, and groin (if he can), and when all that fails will simply do a full body rush and fling himself onto me.

My usual response is submission while the pummeling goes on for a while, and then it’s met with overwhelming force. Sometimes it results in lots of crying, “Mamamaaaaaaaa!” a sobbing that lasts for ten or fifteen seconds and is followed by a renewed assault, just as intense as the last one.

His little brother, aged seven months, stands there fascinated, dying to be part of the action, slapping the couch cushions with a “Let me play! Let me play!” rapturous visage. An accidentally-on-purpose kick from big brother will crumple him, after which he leaps up, smiling, and thwacking the cushion even harder.

Eventually of course, I wear out. Roughhousing is for the young.

There’s a moral there somewhere.



Life goes by pretty quick. Roughhouse while you can. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!


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