April 2, 2015 § 14 Comments
I get the newspaper once a week, on Sunday. It is filled almost exclusively with things I don’t like and am not interested in. There is an arts and leisure section, for example. My life is already leisurely enough, and I already have some paintings of my daughter’s on the wall.
Once monthly there is a big, fat, glossy, fashion section but I don’t need that either. I already have two pairs of jeans, a dozen t-shirts that Michael gave me, some underwear, some socks, and two pairs of shoes that Michael gave me for Christmas five years ago. And a gimme cap and a green hoodie.
Okay, maybe I do need the fashion section. But I toss it anyway, unread.
There is a sports section. I hate sports, all of them. And no, cycling is not a sport, it is social weirdness masquerading as a healthy lifestyle. There is a book review section that I always read so that I don’t have to buy any of the books. There is a Sunday Review essay section filled with people’s ruminations, none of which interest me. Cows are ruminants; I am not a cow.
And of course there is a Sunday Business section, which I don’t need because I’m broke. What good does it do me to know that somewhere in Manhattan I can get a good deal on a $2 million loft? What I need is a working disposal.
There’s the main section, which I read cover to cover because it reminds me that no matter how fucked up everything is, without investigative journalism we would be even more fucked up, and it’s my civic duty to pay $35 a month so that smart people can get kidnapped and tortured by IS as they try to shine the dim light of truth into the worst hell-holes of the world, like Indiana.
Finally there is a travel section. I hate this section more than all the others combined because it is based on the false assumption that travel should offer exotic experiences — riding elephants and outrigger canoes, sipping delicious coffee while overlooking an ice-blue sea, scaling a craggy peak on the roof of the world, etc., etc.
I’m the worst traveler alive. I won’t go anywhere I can’t understand the language, which means I can go to Canada, but not England. I don’t care about your art museum, your world class shopping, your zipline over a plunging waterfall, your thousand-year-old monastery tucked behind medieval walls, your 5-star restaurant, or your yaks and yurt on a windswept pre-Anthropocene plain.
I just want to talk to people. So today I took one of my many weekday travel excursions to Santa Monica, by bike. After a few moments sitting on the bench outside Philz Coffee, a homeless man sidled up to me. They always do. They can tell I’m broke and won’t give them any money, but at least I’ll listen to their story.
“What do you do, young man?” he asked.
“I’m a lawyer.”
“Well then it’s my lucky day. Maybe you can tell me what to do?” And he poured out his story, which was so sad.
He had worked as a janitor at Santa Monica city hall all his life and bought a small home in Compton that he paid for in monthly installments over 35 years. He retired at age 65, and his wife died a few years later. Then he got in a fight with his son, who swindled him out of his home. The old man and his brother hired a lawyer and sued the son for fraud, won, and got possession of the house back. Then the brother kicked him out and now he’s living on the streets.
“How do I get my name back on that house?” he asked me.
I told him I didn’t know and commiserated with him. He thanked me for listening to his story. Simply telling it made him feel better, it seemed, although I felt pretty worthless. I finished my coffee and rode back home, a few miles down the bike path, just around the corner in global terms, back to the safety of home from a long journey to a place where there was drama, and hardship, and a glimpse into strange, alien, unfathomable worlds.
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December 19, 2014 § 33 Comments
Yesterday I was married for twenty-seven years, which is a long time. For people who’ve never been married, it’s hard to understand. For people who have been married, it’s impossible.
I was talking to a girl friend the other day. “Twenty-seven years?” she asked. “How does anyone stay married for twenty-seven years?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think it’s like being in an alcohol or drug treatment program.”
“One day at a time.”
Anyway, today was really exciting because after I got back from my morning bike ride Mrs. WM was in a bad mood. “I’m feelin’ onna poopy,” she said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. Mrs. WM is as healthy as two horses. She cooks four square meals a day from scratch, shops, does laundry, goes to Zumba several times a week, and dances in Michael Jackson flash mobs.
“I think I’m onna pregnant,” she said.
Now these are pretty much words of terror for any aged, 51-year-old fellow with three grown kids who hasn’t seen a dirty diaper in decades and is trying to pay off six figures of his progeny’s student loans with $2.99 PayPal subscriptions. But for me, it was more than terror, because a bun in the oven could only mean one thing: No more buns in the oven. You see, Mrs. WM bakes bread every day, and that would be the first thing that went by the boards if she started gestating. We’re talking serious stuff.
“What’s wrong onna your face?” she asked. Apparently it had turned a strange shade of death.
“Uh, well, let’s go get the dang thing tested.”
“Okay,” she said.
“But first I need to run by Boozy P.’s to pick up my bike.” Boozy is our crack local mechanic who has a strict periodizing training schedule. He lives next to a brewery where he has free drinking privileges, so instead of the usual three-in-one program, where riders train to hit three peaks in one season, Boozy rigorously follows the six-in-three plan.
“What the fugg is the six-in-three plan?” I once asked him.
“I periodize so that I’m monster fit for six months every three years. That way my cycling doesn’t get in the way of my drinking.”
Boozy is in the middle of a six-month peak, which is a great time to get your bike worked on because that’s when he adheres to a strict “no beer before 9:00 AM regimen.”
We swung by his shop. “I think there’s something wrong with my bottom bracket.”
He spun the cranks and looked at the rear wheel. “Do you ever have trouble stopping?”
“Is that ‘sometimes’ as in ‘every time I hit the brakes’?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“Just a lucky guess.” He fiddled around with his wrench and pulled off my rear brake pads. “When’s the last time you put in new pads?”
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
“Yep. See these?” He held up the pads.
“I’d say you have about two millimeters of pad left.”
“Is that bad?” I asked.
“Nope. Because we’re replacing them.” Then Boozy opened up the bottom bracket. “I think this may be the source of that funny noise.” A black, thick goo spilled out. He showed me the bearings. “Ever seen a ball bearing before?” he asked.
“Sure. But I’ve never seen any square ones like those.”
“Right. Me, either. Let’s try some round ones. Whattaya say?”
“You’re the boss.”
After a little while Boozy P. had everything put back together. “What do I owe you?” I asked.
“Oh, c’mon.” I held out a dollar. “Really. Take it.”
He laughed. “No, thanks. I still owe you from that bar tab back in July.”
“Heck, if you insist.”
“I do. And happy holidays!”
I loaded the bike and headed to the pharmacy with Mrs. WM. “I ain’t goin’ onna buy no pregnant kit,” she said. “You go.”
“Yes, you. You put the spoon in the batter so you can go onna drugstore, not me.”
I went into the Rite-Aid shaking like a leaf. They had all the pregnancy equipment in a case with big plastic cover. The high school across the street had just let out and there were a bunch of teenage girls wandering the pharmacy aisle. They looked at me and I could practically see them shudder as I tried to read the labels. It was all pretty complicated.
“Rapid Response,” said one, as if anyone wanted a slow one. Then there was “Clearblue Plus” and “Clearblue Advanced.” Maybe one of them told you if you were pregnant, and the other one suggested baby names. Then I saw the “Pregnancy Urine Dipstrip,” and knew I had a match. Anything related to the dire consequences of unprotected sex that has a rhyming name had to be a winner.
I lifted up the plexiglass cover and a little bell started ringing. Everyone in the store looked over at me. Confused, I stood there with the lid up and the noise got louder. Then I figured it out — this was a clever Catholic ploy to embarrass young girls trying to make a covert purchase. I grabbed my urine dipstrip and jogged to the counter.
The nice lady looked at my purchase. “Hi,” I said, trying to pretend that I always bought urine dipstrips in the late morning. Then I casually grabbed a bag of Oreos to show how jaunty I was.
“Hello,” she said.
Then I started blushing, unsure what to say. Unsurprisingly, my next line wasn’t a winner. “Can you believe it?” I said. “Only missed three times in 27 years.”
“Would you like a receipt?” She pretended not to have heard.
Mrs. WM and I hurried home. A few minutes later she came into the living room. “Thatsa cookie dough ain’t gonna rise,” she said, clearly relieved.
“Whew,” I said.
“So what you gettin’ me onna anniversary present?” she asked.
I looked at her right hand and the urine dipstrip. “You’re holding it, sweetie. Happy anniversary.”
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October 28, 2014 § 19 Comments
On Saturday night we celebrated the 2nd Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. It’s not often that you get to spend an evening with your best friends, surrounded by mediocre food, great beer, and a six-foot inflatable plastic penis. But when you do, you remember it.
The planning end of things was going smoothly. Over 120 cyclists had RSVP’d, which meant that ten would show up and the other 150 would be people who hadn’t RSPV’d but who remembered about it that morning and didn’t have anything better to do. Those who had something better to do, which was pretty much everyone, did it, only to find out that what they were doing wasn’t really all that fun.
The event was held at On the Rocks, a miserable, terrible place with bad service and inept management that was a perfect match for our bizarre collection of misfits and drunks. Despite having made arrangements a month in advance, and checking up with the manager several times, we got a call on Friday night wanting to know if we were still going to have our event on “Sunday.”
“No. We’ll be there on Saturday, like we told you.”
“Oh.” Uncomfortable silence. “Well, there’s a football party that will be going on at the same time out there on the back patio with you but I guess it will be over by around 6:30 or so, so I guess it’s no problem.”
We arrived at 5:00, an hour beforehand to set up, start drinking early, and hang up the Wanky Bedsheet only to find that the football party was a fairly large group of LSU fans watching their beloved football team beat the other team with a miraculous array of touchdowns, touch-ups, base hits, penalty kicks, and impressive moves with their football bats. The reason that the management thought it would be “no problem” is because when we told them we’d have well over a hundred and fifty cyclists in attendance, they heard the word “cyclists” and stopped listening, just like the double-cheeseburger cagers who see cyclists and stop giving a fyling fluck.
Fortunately, we were all used to being treated like shit and being ignored, so On the Rocks was quite the natural venue. The only thing that wasn’t all right was the beer, which we’d ordered in advance.
“You have our two kegs?” I asked.
“What kegs?” asked the manager.
“The ones I ordered.”
“Oh, those. You didn’t bring them with you?” It was a novel response, really, and took a pretty clever wit to ask a guest to your bar if he’d brought his own kegs.
But I had to say, “No. I don’t usually travel with my two, 100-pound aluminum beer kegs unless I’m on my bicycle, and tonight I drove.”
Six or seven IQ points rallied across the thick forehead of the manager, who then said, “Well, I think I may have a couple in the back.” Quite a relief it was, to know that a sports bar had beer, so I paid for the kegs and got to work immediately emptying them. Since we weren’t paying a room fee, I was underwriting the cost of the kegs and the bar would make its money by charging $2 a glass — a great deal for the riders who’d get to guzzle premium Strand Brewing Co.’s 24th Street Ale for a couple of bucks, and a great deal for the bar, who would sell two kegs guaranteed and get to keep whatever didn’t get drunk.
The bar was very happy at this clever deal because as the cyclists trickled in, among them Smasher and Boozy, it was obvious that this wasn’t a crowd that could put much of a dent in two full kegs of six-percent beer. Had the manager Googled Smasher and Boozy he would have known that the only thing he’d have left in his kegs by the end of the night was oxygen.
Shortly thereafter the swag wagon from SPY Optic showed up, carting huge boxes of t-shirts, gimme caps, stickers, wristbands for the beer, and several thousand dollars’ worth of their best performance eyewear to hand out to award recipients. The t-shirts were for the entire staff of On the Rocks, including the kitchen staff, so we could fly the SPY colors throughout the bar.
One by one the classy employees at On the Rocks came over, picked up the t-shirts and caps, then went into the back and stuffed the swag into their purses. Niiiiiiiice!
Finally, New Girl arrived with a giant cake that was bigger than Dallas and decorated with a Wanky Awards motif because nothing tastes better with beer than cake. It was, after the six-foot penis and the martini glass with a plastic penis inside courtesy of Pablo, the most awesome prop of the evening, and unlike the penises, it tasted great.
As things were getting underway, the giant inflatable penis was wreaking havoc with planning, as no one could get it properly blown up. One after another, valiant cyclists with giant lungs would wrap their lips around the giant penis and blow, but to no avail. Finally a man among men, none other than A-Trav, took over, stuffed the cock into his mouth, and blew it like no cock has ever been blown (up) before. With the big dick swollen and standing tall, the party could begin.
Unlike the inaugural awards in 2013, when everything was completely made up on the spur of the moment, the level of high expectations for 2014 had meant that I’d meticulously scripted the entire event and left no detail unplanned. However, in the two hours before we started handing out the awards, I was forced to consume too many fermented recovery drinks, and forgot what I was supposed to say or do.
As I staggered to the front and the PA system was ignited, it turned out that there was nothing to worry about. The LSU fans were so busy screaming and roaring and bucking each other in the futt that nothing anyone said over the PA could be heard beyond the first row of attendees. We began by honoring the awardees from 2013, a process that involved Sausage going through the crowd and hanging a big cardboard star on Mardi Gras beads around the necks of the recipients, along with a sticker that noted their particular distinction.
Next, the Mayor of the South Bay, Iron Mike, presented the Godfather with a bottle of wine for the Godfather’s accomplishments and contributions to stuff. The bottle, a 15-year-old Opus cabernet, was worth more than the net assets of the entire assemblage of cyclists, which is to say $45.87. The Godfather gave a beautiful and moving speech that was drowned out by the LSU fig puckers, who screamed, shat themselves, and drizzled cheap beer from their armpits each time the team scored another grand slam.
According to the vague notes I could halfway make out on my damp note cards which smelled vaguely like Strand Brewing Co.’s 24th Street Ale, I gave thanks to all of those who were kind enough to help make the event happen yet smart enough to confiscate all cell phone cameras before standing next to the inflatable penis. Most concerned was one of the podium strippers, whose father is up for re-election in Kentucky in a few days, and who had said that if any of the pictures with the big dick and the judge’s daughter showed up on the Internet before November 5th, there would be some unexplained disappearances in Southern California the following week.
We thanked Joel Elliott for the beer from Strand, and we thanked SPY Optic for the recipient awards and for giving the staff at On the Rocks something to sell to their friends and/or customers to augment the night’s tips. In keeping with the spirit of too much liquor, and not enough time, Ole Smokey Mountain Moonshine had donated a custom jar of moonshine for each award recipient.
Although everyone was ordered not to drink their award on the premises, the clogged gutters around three a.m. showed that many ignored this sage advice.
Next, an old fedora was passed around to collect money for a rider. Several hundred dollars, a couple of bad checks, and whole bunch of I.O.U.’s were donated, showing the incredible generosity of the cycling community. Also in the hat was a 100 dollar bill, which must have been donated by the Mayor, since he’s the only cyclist who has a hundred dollars, much less carries it around in his pocket.
Since the rider who had hand-crafted the Wanky Awards last year — beautiful painted horseshoes on gorgeous blocks of wood with embossed nameplates — was unable to attend, the recipients were not going to get their coveted physical award. However, Manslaughter leaped into the breach, and completed all 20 plaques in a frenzy of artistry, good taste, and beer that gave each plaque an amazingly unique look, like the heads of babies who are delivered after difficult, 46-hour labors that involve forceps and lots of pulling and yanking and squashing.
In other words, they were beautiful.
Some attendees who were unfamiliar with the Wanky Awards wanted to know “what they were all about.” So I told them. These awards are about community. Friends and enemies. Fights and reconciliations. Laughing at ourselves. Saying thanks. Showing compassion when it’s hardest to show. Encouraging our friends. Supporting those who have lost a loved one, filing restraining orders, and making fun of Prez.
What we are is a family. And what is a family? It is a group of people who are more or less continually mad at each other. Yet despite being mad, we are also often on medication, which makes the madness easier to bear and sometimes even comes across as happiness. Those in our extended cycling family not on medication were in rehab, and could not be with us.
As one big dysfunctional family, the Wankys are an evening where we can reach across the aisle, even if it’s only to steal the other person’s drink when she’s not looking or get the phone number of some little cutie while our wife is drunk and hitting on some guy. Mrs. WM showed up dressed as a naughty nun, but I’m sure that was a coincidence. Most of all the Wankys are a time when we can forget our grudges for an evening, if only so that we can forge newer, stronger, more long-lasting grudges, grudges that, we can only hope, will last forever.
Speaking of grudges, no award ceremony could ever exist without disappointment. In most award ceremonies, where people are distinguished for their accomplishments, those who don’t receive the trinket or, dog forbid, even get nominated, attendees often go home feeling ashamed, angry, left out, embarrassed, and hurt. Fortunately, at this award ceremony people felt that way even if they did get an award. So, as Knoll would say, there’s that.
A note on the award selection committee: There were four members: Me, Olive, Stanley, Stella, and Spanky. Olive and Spanky (the Chihuahuas) generally voted as a block, whereas Stella and Spanky (the bulldogs), were more independent. I cast the tie-breaker when votes were evenly split. Selections were made based on nominations that people emailed in or on strange faces and names that came to me in the dead of night.
The key to the Wankys is, of course, that you must be present to win. People who begged, lied, outrageously self-promoted, offered sex, beer, money, or free tires got preference. People who let their actions speak for themselves and hoped they would be rewarded for their modesty were essentially ignored. If you weren’t selected this year, now you know why, and there’s always next year, and yes, I accept PayPal.
With the Wanky Bedsheet hung across the fence, the penis fully inflated, the podium strippers all lined up, the crowd thoroughly hammered, and the LSU fig puckers humping their empty pitchers of Miller Lite, we could finally begin. And we did.
The award categories and awardees were as follows. Sit down, or click over to your favorite clothing-optional web site; this is gonna be a long one.
Mad Dog Award for Best Advocate: Greg Seyranian for his role in “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Eric Bruins for his role in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Gary Cziko for his role in “Dr. Strangelove”
Greg was instrumental in getting the critical mass for the Big Orange weekend rides on PCH that eventually changed the entire way that the CHP and LA Sheriff’s Department enforce the law on this roadway. What was once a terrifying, glass-and-debris-filled fustercluck of a ride has now become the world’s best bike lane thanks to Greg’s leadership and advocacy. Groups of cyclists on this extraordinarily beautiful road no longer have to hug the gutter, dodge parked cars, opened doors, garbage pails, and Cher, and can instead take the lane and ride safely and legally without fear of police persecution. Greg’s leadership is one of the most impressive examples of bike advocacy ever, and it affects thousands of people every single week.
Eric Bruins was an equally instrumental advocate, but rather than duking it out with Greg in a special mud pit we had designed for the occasion, he was unable to attend due to a last-minute emergency that involved riding his bike to San Diego and having a legitimately good time.
Gary Cziko has also provide incredible support for the advocacy efforts on PCH and through his continual contributions to the CABO listserv, where he has quickly become one of California’s leading advocates on bicycle law, safety, and training. Plus, he has that awesome dress shirt with the pizza stains on it.
I Can Get it Cheaper on The Internet Award for Best Bike Shop: Peyton Cooke for his role in “Beer Goggles”
Ted’s Manhattan Beach Cycles for its role in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Sprocket Cycles for its role in “Saturday Night Fever”
Peyton is best known for being available any time of the day or night that doesn’t conflict with Happy Hour to help fix your bike (Happy Hour generally runs from noon to midnight, Mon – Sun). He has a private garage conveniently located behind Strand Brewing Co., where he can get your bike needs taken care of while you swill IPA at the bar.
Ted’s Manhattan Beach Cycles is owned by someone not named Ted — Manny Felix, one of the best mechanics and shop proprietors in the South Bay, is the go-to guy for people in and around Manhattan Beach for sales, service, and some of the funniest stories ever.
Sprocket Cycles, located in Redondo Beach and run by Paul Che, is another superlative bike shop where you can get all of your cycling needs taken care of as long as they’re legal.
Whippersnapper Award for Best Young Rider: Diego Binatena for his role in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”
Sam Warford for his role in “A Bridge Too Far”
Kristabel Doebel-Hickock (self-nominated) for her role in “Miss Bossypants”
Diego won this award in 2013, and followed up again as a Wanky Award recipient in 2014 with his fantastic race results which landed him a pro contract for 2015 with the Hagens-Berman U-23 pro cycling team. I and several others were hoping for a pro contract on their O-50 pro cycling team, but so far I’ve heard zip. Diego is also an Eagle Scout and an amazingly well-mannered young man considering how much of his life he’s spent around cyclists.
Sam Warford had a breakout year, upgrading from Cat 15 to Cat 1 in the space of two seasons. Along with impressive race results this year, the 20-year-old will be riding for the SPY Optic Pro-1-2 team in 2015. Sam is a soft-spoken and very kind young man, plus he will tear your lucking fegs off.
Kristabel, otherwise known as “Tink,” nominated herself for this award in an excellent display of shameless self-aggrandizement, for which she gets major kudos. The failure to offer sex or money eliminated her chances of winning this competition, but in her first full year as a pro she was recognized as the best young rider at some huge pro race in Philly.
Jared the Subway Dude Award for Person Most Transformed by Cycling: Jonathan Paris for his role in “Fast Food Nation”
Michael Barraclough for his role in “Meatballs”
Robert Efthimos for his role in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”
Jonathan used to live on cheeseburgers and in the winter he survived cold temperatures with his deep layer of blubber. Then, a couple of years ago, he became vegan and started riding his bike. Aside from a famous near-fistfight over a peanut butter sandwich after he’d gone without food for a few hours, Jonathan is a wonderful poster child for how cycling can change your life for the better. Now, instead of hanging out at McDonald’s, he hangs out at Starbucks when he’s not ripping off your lucking fegs.
Michael Barraclough is another rider who has reinvented himself and spared the lives of thousands of poor baby cheeseburgers by focusing on a healthy lifestyle and also cycling. He’s a great-natured guy who everyone loves to ride with and who encourages others to give it their best.
Robert Efthimos found cycling and in the space of a few short years went from being a normal, successful, well-adjusted man at a high-powered law firm to a guy who takes videos of sweaty men on bikes. We’re still trying to put a positive spin on it in negotiations with his lovely wife.
Potty Trained Award for Most Improved: Peta Takai for her role in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
Tom Hall for his role as Taz the Tasmanian Devil in “Looney Toons’s Devil May Hare”
James Cowan for his role in “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby”
When Peta arrived in the South Bay a couple of years ago, many people thought she was “PETA,” the animal rights organization. However, when they learned how to say her name properly (rhymes with “meta”), it took two full years to understand anything she said because she spoke with that funny Kiwi accent. In addition to mastering California English, she has also become an accomplished racer and super fun person to have in the peloton.
Tom Hall rocketed up through the wanker ranks in the space of a short year, but has not lived in LA long enough for us to crack his Tasmanian code. He seems to be a nice fellow, and can certainly rip your lucking fegs off, but until we can actually understand what he’s saying, the jury’s still out.
James Cowan is yet another linguistically-challenged South Bay rider who hails from the land of bangers and rash, blood pudding, and a queen who even in her best days looked like a dishrag wearing the world’s ugliest hat collection. James has improved dramatically and is one of the NPR riders who can always be counted on to hammer at the front until he cracks. That used to be, like, immediately. Not any more.
Gang of Idiots Award for Best Cycling Club: Wonton Heavy Industries, LLC for its role in “The China Syndrome”
Big Orange for its role in “Police Academy”
SPY Elite Cycling Team for its role in “Bad News Bears”
This award was pretty much sewn up well in advance by Big Orange due a corrupt, incestuous relationship with the Wanky Awards’ chief organizer in which everything is decided in secret, on the down-low, and in contravention of most laws and all good morals. However, at the last minute Wonton Heavy Industries papered Wanky’s inbox with the most disgusting, blatant, self-serving, shameless slew of self-promoting shit that has ever been seen. So pathetic and groveling and lacking in even a shred of modesty were these attempts that Wonton easily beat out Big Orange and staged a come-from-behind even more dramatic than that being practiced by the LSU fig puckers across the way.
Big O had this one in the bag; their open door policy has brought in more riders and has helped make the roads safer for cyclists than any other club. They mentor, provide financial support for racers, and are the epitome of a friendly roadie club — something that is generally an oxymoron. Still, it was the Wonton come-from-behind that won the day.
SPY Elite Cycling Team was a distant third, as most of its riders didn’t even bother to show up. Oh, well! We still had a frothy time on Sunday morning when MMX and Phil Tinstman obliterated the Kettle Ride, averaging 457 watts from Temescal to Cross Creek.
Multitasker Award for Best Rider in Multiple Disciplines: Marilyne Fichante for her role in “The French Connection”
Jeff Bryant his role in “The Perfect Storm”
Jon Davy for his role in “Every Which Way but Loose”
Frenchy is the only Wanky recipient to be stripped of her award immediately after getting it. We screwed up the nameplate somehow, but when we figured out the problem we gave the plaque back. Frenchy’s excellence on the road, in MTB, and in cyclocross made her a natural recipient, plus her cute French accent.
Jeff Bryant was out somewhere, probably riding 100 miles at 28 miles an hour and then realizing that he’d forgotten to turn around at mile 50 so his 100-miler was now a 200-miler.
Jon Davy, who won his first national title on the track this year, couldn’t come because it was a thoroughly bad environment.
Wanker of the Year: Stathis Sakellariadsi for his role in “Zorba the Greek”
Brad House for his role in “Psycho”
Seth Davidson for his role in “Strange Brew”
Stathis begged for this award, and the morning of the ceremony he said that if he were given something besides Wanker of the Year then he would still give his WOTY speech. So he got it, commemorating the zillions of blown lights on the NPR, billions of “the look,” and dragging those on his wheel over to the yellow line so they can’t get a draft. Of course, he’s also one of the fastest riders around …
Brad, who won the award in 2013, was renominated on the strength of his acceptance speech in 2013, something we’re all still trying to un-hear and dis-remember.
I got the most votes for WOTY, but Spanky, Stella, Olive, and Stanley enforced the rule that “Wanky can’t get a Wanky.” So sad.
Money Down a Rathole Award for Best Promoter: SPY Optic for its role in “Inglorious Basterds”
Chris Lotts for his role in “Fred Claus”
Dorothy Wong for her role in “Rough Riders”
Okay, my fingers are falling off and I’m barely halfway through. SPY got this for the BWR, the SPYclocross series, the thousands it has donated in merchandise, marketing, and manpower to promote and support races, and for the countless teams it has sponsored. Most importantly, Michael Marckx is a friend among friends, and I’d have found a way to distinguish SPY no matter what.
Chris deserved an award, but he was at the phat pharm this weekend.
Dorothy was promoting a race. Plus, I’m pretty sure she’s not a drunk.
NPR Champ: Suzanne Sonye for her role in “Over the Top”
Eric Anderson for his role in “Raging Bull”
Cameron Khoury for his role in “Bridesmaids”
Suze is an icon, a champion, and a woman of strong opinions. She also won a Wanky in 2013 for Hard Woman of the Year. We love Suze even when she’s telling us we’re shull of fit, mostly because we are. She has mentored countless cyclists and keeps us honest. Sort of.
EA Sports, Inc., won the NPR Champ award last year, so this year he had to be satisfied with the little cardboard star.
Cameron is an up-and-coming youngster who has a great sprunt and is slowly finding his way towards the front. Occasionally.
Donut Champ: Derek Brauch for his role in “The Spy Who [didn’t] Love Me”
Stathis Sakellariadis for his role in “To Live and Die in LA”
Keven Sandoval for his role in “Breaking Away”
Derek is a fixture on the Donut and one of the best all-around racers in SoCal. He is canny, a great clumber, and has one of the best accelerations around, which makes him a superb leadout. On the Donut he’s always one of the last ones standing, and was one of the first to support the Great Alley Detour, which has now been more or less abandoned by wankers everywhere.
Stathis couldn’t get two Wankys in 2014 because last year he didn’t show up to collect his KOM and Donut Champ awards.
Keven is always a factor on the Donut. A prime factor, which means he can only be divided by himself.
Pin it On Bitch Award for Best Male Racer: Charon Smith for his role in “The Passion of the Christ”
Aaron Wimberley for his role in “The Fast and the Furious”
Robert Frank for his role in “No Country for Old Men”
Charon won a ton of races this year and did it with class. He’s a mentor, a coach, a gentle guy, and a great competitor. Kind of makes you wonder what he’s doing in cycling. Next year he is poised to inflict even more damage with an even stronger, faster team than in 2014.
Aaron is one of the best racers in SoCal, but he raced against Charon most of the year. Aaron is quick, has no equal in bike handling skills except for his teammate John Wike, and knows exactly how to read a race. Of course so does everyone else in the 35+ category. You read it like this: “Watch Charon.”
Robert Frank raced way beyond his 47 years by completing most of the elite men’s national road race championship, and absolutely slaying throughout the year.
You’ve Been Chicked Award for Best Female Racer: Kristabel Doebel-Hickock, again self-nominated, for her role in “Twiggy”
Lauren Mulwitz for her role in “Slaying the Badger”
Emily Georgeson for her role in “Night of the Living Carrots”
Okay, I’m totally done typing this thing and can’t imagine that anyone is still reading. If you are, my condolences. Tink is a pro and she won the queen stage at the Cascade Classic. ‘Nuff said.
Lauren has won in multiple disciplines this year and is one of the best up-and-coming racers.
Emily is incredibly talented, trains hard, and is very race savvy. She has had very good results this year; look for a break-out year in 2015.
Pay it Forward Award for Best All-Around Rider: Robert Efthimos for his role in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
Joel Elliott for his role in “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”
Chris Gregory for her role in “New Girl”
Robert dedicates time and energy to make our cycling community great. He takes and posts videos, helps organize clubs and events, and is a reasoned head in a community of deadheads, hotheads, and boneheads. He makes us all look good. As good as we can be, anyway.
Joel brews beer. He shares it. What else do I need to say?
Chris is always there to help. She’s the first one to say “yes,” and never complains, even though dog knows there’s a lot to complain about. She’s also one of the best podium strippers in the business, and did a great year in 2014 as well as in 2013.
Crashtacular Fred Award: Heather Somebody for her Broken Arm
This one was weird. We weren’t going to give out the award because the winner couldn’t attend. But at the last minute some gal with a broken arm dashed up and said “Gotta be present to win, I’m present, and I’m winning!” and she flashed her arm in a cast and took the award. If we’d had bouncers we’d have called them, but instead we were so impressed by her brass balls that we relinquished the plaque along with SPY wear and Ole Smokey Mountain Moonshine. She will treasure the beautiful twisted horseshoe splashed in blood and wrapped in wound netting that was so artistically designed by Manslaughter.
KOM Award for Most of Life Wasted on Strava: Lane Reid for his role in “The Losers”
Brian Perkins – Lifetime Strava Achievement Award – for his role in “Wasteland”
Miko Espanol for his role in “The Longest Mile”
Lane has entered the hall of shame as a two-time loser, having won the Strava award in 2013 as well.
“Tree” Perkins was out chasing a KOM and couldn’t attend.
Miko logged 1,000,000 miles of vertical climbing on Strava, proving his eligibility for medical treatment.
Tougher than Nails and Broken Glass or HTFU Award: Phil Tinstman for his role in “The Eiger Sanction”
MMX for his role in “Dirty Harry”
Pete Smith for his role in “The Smurfs”
Phil won the Beverly Hills Grand Fondo, which will likely qualify him for master’s worlds in September. He also turned in amazing rides on the BWR and won a bunch of tough road races. Hard dude, for sure.
Michael Marckx, perennial tough guy, wasn’t as tough as Phil.
Pete Smith, who seems like a gentle fellow until you see him on the bike, was a close third.
Larger than Life Award: David Perez for his role in “Brokeback Mountain”
Tony Manzella for his role in “Godzilla”
Greg Leibert for his role in “Up”
Prez. The man. The legend. The Puerto Rican fashion stylista salsa dancer sprunter crash expert … gone this year due to a job (cyclists can look up that word on Google), Prez is back in black! And green/yellow/purple/orange, etc.
Tony Manzella. Dude. Fere the whuck were you?
Greg Leibert wins too many awards. Gotta give some oxygen to the mere mortals. One of the best people ever and a friend among friends, it brokeback my heart to see you not get another award.
For Better or Worse, Mostly Worse Award for Best Spouse/SO: Sherri Foxworthy for her role in “The Dukes of Hazzard”
Jami Tschetter for her role in “Trophy Wife”
Jeanette Seyranian for her role in “Gone with the Wind”
Don’t worry Sherri, no penis pictures will be posted until after the judge’s erection on November 4. Sherri is the patron saint of wankers who hang around the shop complaining about all the sand in their shorts. She puts up with more shit on a daily basis than a manure wholesaler. And always with a smile and a well-placed curse word!
Jami is the ultimate bike racer widow. She goes to the races, puts up with her hubby’s obsession, and pretends to be interested in the junior high school drama. Best of all, she loves beer and she can DANCE!
Saint Jeanette has performed various miracles related to putting up with cyclists, and the Vatican is simply awaiting confirmation of the one where she turned water into carbo replacement drink before she is officially beatified.
Ian Davidson South Bay Rider of the Year: Kevin Phillips for his role in “The Natural”
Greg Seyranian for his role in “The Pied Piper”
David Miller for his role in “Dodgeball”
Kevin’s got it all. Natural talent, incredible work ethic, tactical wits, and the most important thing of all — a fantastic sense of humor. Kevin has been the leader of the South Bay for years and has influenced hundreds of riders with his unique brand of friendliness, skill, and decency. Plus he’s won a ton of national titles and held the hour record. Little stuff like that.
Greg has already been written about and crapcakes, I’m tired.
David Miller is going places, and prison isn’t one of them. This year he turned in amazing performances on the bike and showed himself as one of the most affable, decent people in the peloton — in addition to being a leader. Your turn is coming, wanker, but you need to focus a bit more on bribing the Chihuahuas. You had the bulldogs, but Olive and Stanley split the vote.
That’s it folks, until next year. Thank you!
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October 2, 2014 § 27 Comments
When I lived in Miami, Texas, pop. 588, I became friends with Dr. Malouf Abraham, who lived over across the way in the big town of Canadian, pop. 2,100. Dr. Abraham was an anomaly in his rough and tumble Texas hometown. He went to college and medical school, became a doctor, and devoted his life to medicine and art.
Dr. Abraham always encouraged education, and seemed to care little about sports in a place where the high school football team was the high temple of human achievement. My kids were young then, and he gave me the best advice about education I’ve ever gotten. “Make them into good students,” he said. “You know why?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because in the real world, it’s the nerds who sign the paychecks.”
In the school experience, no activity is as cathartic, stressful, educational, intense, and applicable to all aspects of adult life as formal debate. Kids who go through four years of high school debate are changed by it forever. Kids who go through an elite high school debate program often find themselves on the receiving end of scholarships and admission to elite universities. Kids who are derided by their athletic classmates as “master debaters” will go through life never suffering from the number one fear of American adults — the fear of speaking in public.
When I debated at Bellaire Senior H.S. in Houston, the program was run by an opinionated tyrant. Unlike other schools, we were not allowed to attend summer debate camps, or to buy our cases and briefs, or to use materials from other schools. Every piece of evidence we used, we researched ourselves. In 1979 that meant going to the Fondren Library at Rice or the library at the University of Houston, and first learning to use the index for the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. We had to learn to use the extensive collection of federal government documents, and we had to type up our briefs and cases on typewriters.
The Internet didn’t exist, and Google wasn’t even a gleam in Sergey Brin’s eye.
But the real bottom line to our debate program was our coach’s religious devotion to the principle that in order to improve you had to compete. And compete we did, from September through February, most weekends traveling to outposts as far away as Lubbock, where we would lug our sample cases into rounds and fight, tooth and claw, for primacy in a debate over whether it was better to legalize marijuana or not, whether it was better to provide food aid or not, whether it was better to mine the seabed or not.
Those brawls were as charged with fear, aggression, passion, uncertainty, the humbling of defeat, and the elation of victory as anything I have ever done. So I agreed completely when my youngest son signed up for debate at Peninsula High School. In fact, it was the school’s debate program that caused him to choose Peninsula over the high school that his elder brother had attended.
His first year he competed at a few tournaments and did okay. His second year he competed at a few more, and the high point of his year was breaking into the elimination round at a tournament, where he made it to the quarterfinal round before losing. This year, his third, he broke again at his very first tournament.
That’s when he got the shock. Because another team from his school had also made it into the elimination round, he and his partner would be forced to forfeit to the other team because the other team from his school had won more of their preliminary rounds and had a better record. I was, quite naturally, outraged.
Back in the day when two teams from the same school ended up against each other in elimination rounds, they debated. The better team won, and it wasn’t always the one with the higher ranking. The idea that any team would ever forfeit to another team was incomprehensible, scandalous, beyond the pale. But as I took up the issue with his coach, I learned that it has become common practice to tell kids to give up and quit, to deny the underdog the chance to beat the overdog.
What is inconceivable in track, or in chess, or swimming, or any other type of competition is apparently normal for debate in our corner of Southern California. You pay your money, fight your heart out and then, instead of being given the same chance to compete as all the other kids in the elimination rounds, you are told by your coach to quit.
The reasoning, as explained by my son’s coach, is that it “conserves resources” and “prevents intrasquad rivalry.” The first argument is odd, since the debaters pay to attend, and the only resources that are being conserved are proceeds received by the tournament, which pockets the savings by not having to assign judges to the round. The other justification is crazier — it assumes that debaters, whose sole modus operandi is combat and argument, can’t take defeat at the hands of their friends.
Although I’m no fan of youth sports, especially when kids engage in them to the exclusion of academics and crucial “extracurriculars” such as music, art, or debate, I have to take my hat off to athletic endeavors like cycling, in which kids from the same team go at each other hammer and tong. Some of the best competition I’ve ever seen has been at the Carson velodrome, where teammates in Connie Cycling’s youth program go all out to beat their compadres.
My debate coach was a tyrant and in many ways an abusive guy. He was the debate equivalent of the old school football coach, with this exception. Winning and losing didn’t matter. But competing did. If there was a holy temple, it was revelation of self and the sharpening of skill that only occurs when you pin on a number — in a debate round, in a chess match, on the boards.
Telling kids to quit in any endeavor because there’s someone out there who’s just better than they are, because the underdog has no chance of beating the overdog, says everything you need to know about the person who espouses the policy. Dr. Abraham, in his homespun Texas way of looking at the world, would have had some choice words for this kind of anti-educational defeatism. Maybe he would have said “That debate coach is obviously never going to be a nerd.” If he did, I’d agree.
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September 29, 2014 § 8 Comments
It started out as a bad idea and quickly grew into a terrible one. By the end of the inaugural South Bay Cycling Awards, a/k/a “The Wankys,” wooden penis ashtrays had been handed out, cheap basketball trophies had been transferred, a massive cake had been eaten, stuffed baby seals had been clubbed with a hammer, sexy women with slitty dresses had paraded around onstage, and numerous cyclists were removed from the gutter feet first.
Of course, as everyone knows, once you have something that is a colossal failure, the only thing to do is repeat it the following year and hope that the magnitude of the badness is greater than that of the year before.
So I present you with the 2nd annual South Bay Cycling Awards, to be held on October 25, Saturday, from 6:00 PM until Whenever:00 AM. The only item that will be making a return from 2013 is the famous Wanky Bed Sheet awards banner, designed five minutes before showtime by Marc a/k/a Toronto. The wooden penis is gone, the stuffed seal is gone, and the basketball trophy has been given to all three of my children as a collective Christmas-and-birthday present.
2014 offers huge improvements on last year. First, rather than showing up at Naja’s (to the surprise and dismay of the management), and commandeering their bar, we have told the folks in advance at On the Rocks in Redondo Beach that there will be a half-dozen very polite, abstemious cyclists who would like to reserve a table for a few hours. They needn’t know that last year’s sellout crowd of 120 will be greatly exceeded.
Second, The Wankys will feature two kegs of beer from Strand Brewing Co., the South Bay’s premier brewer, and those two kegs will sell for $2 a glass until the contents have been fully consumed, or until Manslaughter has slaked his thirst, whichever comes first.
Third, the award categories have been refined, although the much-coveted and greatly feared Wanker of the Year™ award will return, publicly recognizing that rider who epitomizes the qualities of wankerdom: Delusion, Commitment, Lack of Talent, Bad Dieting, Awful Riding Skills, Unbridled Enthusiasm, and a Deranged Sense of Humor. I am not, unfortunately, eligible to receive this award, though many have suggested that no one could possibly be a more fitting recipient.
The dress code will be strictly enforced. Those who are dressed will be strictly required to remain so. Those who are not will likewise be required to maintain the status quo.
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October 15, 2013 § 8 Comments
Monday: Cruising around, ran into Fukdude, Mel, and Kyle. We had an important business meeting at Java Man, where I told them some stories from a cross country trip back in ’85. They appeared to believe part of it. Updated Fukdude on the average size of Gulf Coast mosquitos for his upcoming bike trip from New Orleans to Pensacola. “Just put on a lot of Deet, huh?” he asked. “No,” I said. “That just pisses ’em off. Best defense is a full body suit, helmet and face mask, no exposed skin anywhere, and pray it’s not 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity. Which it always is.”
Sunday: Tumbleweed whipped up a classic sausage ‘n vegetables meal after our ‘cross race at Vail Lake. It was awesome, and washed down with several cold Lagunitas IPA’s, it was even better. Tumbleweed rode a great race until the final fifty feet, when, charging through the start-finish, a 15-foot strip of snow barrier came unhitched in the wind and wrapped around his bars and front tire in mid-sprunt. Thankfully, he landed on his head, so he was fine. T-Dub’s helmet count for 2013: four. And we’re not done yet!
Saturday: Had to forego the Donut in order to attend Parents’ Breakfast at my daughter’s law school. I showed up in my finest BWR t-shirt and appeared scruffy enough that one of the professors mistook me for a student. We immediately got into a huge argument over — I’m not making this up — “The Trial of Jesus.” I tried really hard to shut up but it didn’t work. Finally he said, “Well, I see I’ll have you in my property class next semester!” and it was very threatening. “Don’t count on it, pal,” I snarled. He then looked more carefully at my name tag and realized that despite my scraggly beard tuft and bad breath, I was a parent. Then it was, like, BFF!
Friday: Two heroic bicycle champions of the South Bay, Surfer Dan and Erik the Red gathered at Chez Wanky to send off Josh “the Net” Alverson for his 3-month sojourn to Australia. Erik and Net had requested the galactically famous Wanky Fromargs, and shortly after saying “I can’t really taste the liquor in these,” both gentlemen were slumped back in the couch, drooling, and staring off at the ceiling. Rumor has it that both awoke the following day before noon.
–Tara Unversagt returned from Manchester (a small town somewhere in Utah, I think), with four world championship jerseys and a silver medal for her 50+ division. Hats off to her, to Tim Roach, and to Phil “The Food Guy,” who now boasts an impressive string of skinny people doing impressive things on the bike.
–The Mike Nosco Memorial Ride is coming up on November 3rd. This event celebrates the life of Mike Nosco, who died in a traffic accident, and funds from the ride go to defray expenses of families who are treating a serious illness. It is a bike community event of the first order. Follow this link for more information and to sign up.
— Crazy and awful shit happens in the world of bicycles. In this case, local messenger Luis Avina was assaulted, mugged, and had both his legs broken by the attackers, who wielded hammers. You can get the details and make a contribution here. I did!
— Tim Roach and his henchmen pulled off a tremendous three days of racing at the VeloCenter in Carson with the Hollywood Championship Cycling 3-Day races. Bringing in top European pros and a full house of spectators, this was, by all reports, some of the best racing that’s been seen at the VeloCenter in a long time. I got no excuse for missing it other than tequila, Parents’ Day, and ‘cross racing.
–Confirmed wanker and full-time NPR hobbyist Dan Martin pwned the punks this weekend in a CBR Cat 5 upgrade race. The thoroughly humiliated 2nd place 23 year-old had to go home and explain to his mom how he lost a bike race to someone who could have been his great-grandfather. “The young man is fast. The old man tough and wise. And apparently fast, too.”