South Bay #fakenews 1/6/19

January 6, 2020 § 7 Comments

*Warning!! What follows is NOT TRUE. It is “satire and/or parody.” Please do not read if you are easily offended (think Peter Flax) or if you have a distant relative in a big law firm.*

Former flogger returns to crime scene. Veteran rider and hardcore flogger Dan Krowbar returned to the South Bay with his twelve children and their stellar math SAT scores over the holidays to escape the D.C. cold and reminisce about that time he had a bicycle falling off incident on Flog downhill hairpin #1, breaking his thumb and leaving a mark on his cheek reminiscent of a burschenschaftler’s fencing scar. “I miss the SoCal weather,” Krowbar mused. “But you idiots, not so much.”

Flog haters form super friendly Flog Ride. A pitchfork revolt of South Bay cyclists recently formed the Want Not to Kill Ride, WNKR. Led by Dear Leader, the ride is paced by an orange Lamborghini decorated with tax returns and investment portfolio cover sheets. “The Flog is too mean,” says Dear Leader, “and we’ll never grow the club by riding hard. Cyclists trying to get better need love and my training program, not hard efforts.” Half a dozen Big O riders were seen this past Thursday wearing camo kits as they did the Flog, disobeying Dear Leader’s directive to not show up for anything that might actually promote fitness.

Gulper to Czechoslovakia. Scotty G. recently announced to friends that he was excited about his upcoming trip to Czechoslovakia. “I’ve never been there,” he said, “but will send postcards.” CitSB is eagerly awaiting its postcard from a country that hasn’t existed since 1993.

Sunset ruins sb softman training plans. Hundreds of local softmen, softwomen, and pillow babies had their 2020 resolutions thrown into disarray after an especially pretty sunset derailed their training plans. “This year was going to be totally punk,” said a dejected K. Stalk as he watched the sun go down while swiping pictures of his photo exhibit showcasing several poser punk bands from the 80’s. “Me and a couple of other pillow babies really wanted to promote punk rock this year instead of focusing on cycling. Punk is cool, you know? I mean the racist, anti-semitic, skinhead thing, it’s just part of the genre. None of those riots, shootings, and stabbings at Fenders Ballroom back in the day, or the subsequent classification of various punk groups as racist prison gangs meant anything. Just kids having fun. I was too scared to go to Fenders anyway. They would have killed me. But check out this photo from a community center filled with white college kids in Goleta.”

Bike shop shutters, cites excess profits. Legendary boutique shop Bike Effect will close its doors after ten years of business in toney Santa Monica. “We were making too much money,” says owner Alison Letson. “Customers were going online, finding the most expensive price for an item, then coming to us and insisting on paying 40% more on top of that. We didn’t know what to do with all the money.” Adds star bike fitter Steve Carre, “The great thing about Santa Monica was getting to work with so many generous rich white people. They genuinely don’t care about money.” Letson plans to retire in Monaco with profits from the shop.

Hi-Fi Coffee hires Wanky Law for 2020 promotional efforts. Redondo Beach coffee shop Hi-Fi Espresso recently severed ties with Origin Bike Club after a falling out with Tony Orlando, Dawn, Marco C., and Stoner Jay. “Except for the guy in the zebra suit and Ramon, those fukkers never bought anything,” said an enraged barista. “And that ghost rider Tony Orlando kept showing up on a Pedigo drunk at 10:00 AM, running off paying customers.” When asked about Hi-Fi’s tie-up with Wanky Law, manager Jeff X. said this: “Some old guy in a smelly wool jersey and brown teeth came in and bought a bunch of coffee cards, then distributed them for free to other cyclists. That’s what I’m talking’ bout.”

South Bay riders admit they hate fun rides. A private research firm released the results of a survey showing that South Bay cyclists, and riders in general, hate fun bike rides. Stephan Stephanopolos, pollster, explained the results thus: “Even though certain riders claim to hate hard rides, they end up dropping each other on pancake rides because, bicycle. The same people who create fun rides are the worst Strava offenders. On the bike, it’s all about the bike.” Local rider Gus B. agreed. “I always make fun of people who ride hard, but secretly I drop my two-year-old in the driveway. Hey man, that’s racin.'”


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The colors in your life

January 2, 2020 § 5 Comments

We all have colors in our life. Some bright, some dark, some gentle, some striking, some subtle, some bold, and many hovering on the border between two colors, unwilling to be called one or another until the light strikes it at just the right time in just the right place.

Your colors? What are they?

One thing’s for sure. They will shift as these coming days pass. The color you loved best won’t suit you quite the same way anymore. The color that never really matched your eyes will suddenly meld perfectly into the hue of your irises, which have gotten darker, or lighter, as the earth spins around the sun.

What matters isn’t the color itself, but rather what you do with it. Splash it on a wall, smear it across a canvas, pencil it across a poster laid before the public on a promenade, saturate it with the swipe of a bar on a digital screen … the colors are there for you, it’s your palette.

I found some colors a few days ago, riding home from somewhere, where I’d been doing something. They were standing in the sky, waiting to be poured into my viewfinder, so I tilted the edges of the air and let them flow in. Hundreds of people had gathered on the edge of continent at that very moment to fill their own little buckets with the pastels being flooded across the sky.

When I got home I fiddled with them some and made them mine. A hundred other people, maybe thousands, had these same colors, but when I got done, mine were the prettiest of all, not because of their inherent beauty, but because I’d wet my finger with the paint and left a swirled thumbprint that was mine alone.


A thousand words

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Cipollini, 52, dies from helmet-related illness

November 13, 2019 § 7 Comments

The cycling world was stunned to learn that superstar, doper, fashion criminal, tax dodge, race quitter, and flamboyant wife-beater Mario Cipollini, 52, died from an acute bicycle helmet-related illness yesterday in his hometown of Lucca, Italy.

We caught up with Super Mario after the interment to talk about his early demise.

Cycling in the South Bay: Dead at 52? Incredible. What happened?

Mario Cipollini: It is a rather uninteresting story. Can we talk about my 42 Giro wins? Binda only had 41.

CitSB: Sure. But first let’s talk about your death. How’d it happen?

MC: The doctors say it was helmet-related.

CitSB: How so?

MC: Before I turned pro I never raced with a helmet, and of course as a professional most of my career I raced without one until it became mandatory.

CitSB: I don’t get it.

MC: It’s cumulative. Sudden Helmetless-Induced Trauma hits you when you least expect it.

CitSB: Shit.

MC: Exactly. You never know when SHIT is going to hit the fan. In my case, I continued to not wear my helmet after I retired despite the advice of all the group ride participants and gran fondo riders. Not to mention hobby bicyclists who would pass me on the street and shout, “Where’s your helmet?”

CitSB: What did the doctors say?

MC: They said that SHIT is dangerous and that I could die without my helmet at any moment.

CitSB: Can you explain how SHIT works?

MC: The doctors don’t understand the mechanism exactly. They say it has to do with how helmets protect your brain from excessive wind flow outside of your skull. Once the helmet is removed for long periods of time, the molecules in the skin surrounding your skull degrade due to the wind, and then the skull itself degrades, imperceptibly, until finally the wind blows away your brain cells until there is nothing left but dust. And a little bit of cocaine residue, if that was your thing.

CitSB. Shit.

MC: For years the doctors thought that you could protect against SHIT, even if you didn’t have a helmet, with a large mane of rich, thick, luxurious, flowing hair.

CitSB: Which you have.

MC: Had.

CitSB: Right.

MC: But apparently over time even long, beautiful locks cannot protect against SHIT.

CitSB: That’s terrifying.

MC: So you can imagine how frightening it is for the average MAMIL, who doesn’t have much hair to begin with.

CitSB: Comb-overs?

MC: Those are the deadliest. The doctors say that a comb-over, or worse, a little round patch in back like St. Francisco Xavier give a false sense of security. Such people must wear helmets all the time or they will be in deep SHIT.

CitSB: Any regrets?

MC: None, except for that time I rode for Rock Racing. What a humiliating end to a magnificent career.

CitSB: Yes, that was rather shameful.

MC: But SHIT happens.

CitSB: Indeed.


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Mario Cipollini, Stage IV, Sudden Helmetless-Induced Trauma

Lighten up, Francis

November 9, 2019 § 9 Comments

This happened five years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in a howling foul mood and had walked down the stairs to the side exit. As I pushed open the heavy steel gate a new tenant was coming up the walk, laden. She was African, I don’t know from where.

As she approached the gate, I held it open for her. She smiled.

So far, so good.

Then as she went through the gate she paused and said, “God bless you, my son.”

To which I said, “I don’t believe in any of that Jesus mumbo-jumbo stuff.”

You might as well have dumped a bucket of Christopher Hitchens on her head. “Excuse me?” she said, shocked.

“Don’t bless me,” I snarled. “I’m an atheist.”

Over the years we have passed by each other countless times, both of us smarting over that incident. We’ve never done more than nod.

Last night I got home and was dead dog tired. I looked down the staircase and saw this lady and her two daughters wrestling two giant things I can only describe as blobs. They were five or six feet across, wrapped in plastic, and set on a four-wheeled dolly.

The dolly was tilting off the stairs, and they’d put a big tarp under the blobs, pulling the tarp up by the corners with their hands to try and maneuver these giant things, and it was like pushing a Titanic made of Jell-O through the mud with your bad foot.

“You need a hand?” I shouted down.

The lady looked up at Satan, and she was lathered in sweat as the muscles in her neck and forearms popped. “That would be appreciated!” she yelled back.

I hustled down the stairs and put my 150-lb. back into personhandling the blobs. Pretty soon I was as lathered as they were. Those things weighed a thousand pounds and the only direction they wanted to go was down + fast.

With the dolly tumbling off the lip of the stairs and the blobs trying to crush us and the four of us crammed into this narrow staircase, mingling sweat and straining like hogs, it was touch-and-go, until finally it went. As the bigger blob got momentum firmly in its corner, I crouched and thrust with my back, stopping it just enough for the lady, who was twice as strong as I, to arrest the blog’s incipient careen.

At the bottom of the staircase the four of us, dripping, each circled one blob and then, on “three,” heaved it into the back of her pick-em-up truck. Would someone please tell General Motors to make the tailgate an inch or so off the ground? That would be awesome.

The pickup was all loaded, and the lady turned and faced me. She’d been waiting for this. For five fucking years.

“God bless you for your help,” she said.

“You are more than welcome,” was my reply, and I meant it.

I’d been waiting, too.


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Tales of the big ring

October 23, 2019 § 2 Comments

I got an email from some dude named Ramy Khalaf.

“Hey,” it went, “I found you on the Internet and I’m making a video about rides in SoCal can I come to your office and make a video?”

“Sure,” I said, knowing I’d never hear from him again.

A couple of weeks later Ramy showed up with a world of legit cameras and equipment. Thankfully, I’d bathed that morning. You can’t always count on that.

Ramy has a YouTube channel, Bar & Pedal, where he combines amazing video skills and a love of cycling into some fantastic stories.

I would tell you about the video, but then I’d be telling the tale twice.

Click on the link. It’s a goodie!


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The way the cookie crumbles

August 25, 2019 § 3 Comments

Joannnnnnn Zwagerman’s world famous Fun Donut Ride had a star invitee yesterday, the galactically famous Phil Gaimon, he of the cookie monster, of the Cookie Fondo, of the Stravver-smashing, and of the No Kid Hungry that raises money to feed children.

The combo of JZ’s call-to-arms and Phil’s call-to-cookies meant that the parking lot of Miramar Park at Redondo Beach was filled with cyclists who wanted to pedal down to Giant-Santa Monica, scarf fun donuts, swill boiling coffee, and enjoy a spectacular day cycling in Los Angeles, THE WORST CITY ON EARTH TO RIDE A BIKE, with the exception of all other places on earth to ride a bike.

We started off with Dear Leader being appointed ride leader, and he swelled up (predictably) knowing that he was really benefiting from the white privilege of owning a Lamborghini, for being a multi-millionaire, for inheriting all his wealth from his father, and for acting like one of those rich kids that fill the South Bay who have never earned anything on their own a day in their life. I started at the back enjoying the company of Colin Zwagerman, new cyclist newly fitted out on a retro Raleigh, buffed, tuned, and spit-polished by the Bike Palace for the incredible deal of $150. Colin was being officially initiated in the mysteries of riding in the South Bay, and as Dear Leader shouted instructions to the sheep, Colin was inculcated with Rule 1: Dear Leader has lots of inherited wealth from daddy, so STFU.

More impressive was Colin’s and my conversation about … philosophy. There aren’t many brilliant science-math students enrolled at one of the country’s finest universities who shrug it all off and throw in with the misfits, dreamers, visionaries, and idea-lovers that comprise the rubric “major in philosophy,” but Colin had, and as a former philosophy major and parent of a philosophy major and son of a philosophy major, it was pretty exciting to me.

Of course it wasn’t as exciting as listening to Dear Leader screech “Tree! House! Sky! Hole in road! Bump on forehead! Booger in ear! Stop sign! Slowing! Red light! Green light! Going!” but it was close.

I endured it for a really long time, about three minutes, before riding to the front and taking away the lead from Ride Leader like a mean playground bully yanking a lollipop away from a three-year old. Dear Leader was livid. “I was appointed ride leader!” he pouted, after which I sent him to the back of the bus without any Lamborghini for dinner.

From Redondo through Hermosa Kevin regaled me with the amazing story of his family Europe vacation in ’72 when his father had taken an old VW bus named Rasmussen and driven across the continent with his family, camping and exposing them to the joys of real travel. The best part of the story was when his badass 13-year-old older sister, having gotten all the culture and family time she could stand, abandoned the family at a campground in Ukraine and flew back to Copenhagen, booking herself in a 5-star hotel until the family returned.

In Manhattan Beach, Phil rolled to the fore and we pedaled on this brilliant day to the bike shop. En route we met a dude on a low-rider, playing jams from his sound box. He was stoked to ride with us for a bit, but we couldn’t keep up with his motor assist, so we waved goodbye and that was that. When we got to the bike shop, Joann raffled off some amazing, incredible Wanky socks, a Pedal Mafia jersey and a helmet donated by Giant-Santa Monica, as well as a changing tent made by Carbana.

I saw Kevin munching one of the fried-dough delicacies. “How are the donuts?” I asked.

He looked at me pityingly. “Uh, Seth,” he said. “Have you ever had a bad donut?”

“Good point,” I said, and snatched one for myself.

JZ then walked the shop floor collecting donations for No Kid Hungry, and the assembled crew coughed up $260, coming more than halfway to hitting the goal of $400, which is extraordinary given how cheap the average cyclist is. You’d think that someone who owns apartment buildings in the Bay Area, beachfront property in LA, and a Lamborghini would gladly, if not out of shame, make good the whole amount, but one thing we know about rich brats masquerading as liberals is that THEY GET RICH AND STAY RICH BY TAKING IN FISTFULS AND GIVING OUT CRUMBS.

However, at day’s end one of JZ’s friends, upon learning that the goal hadn’t been met, kicked in the remaining $160. Needless to say, she wasn’t a cyclist.

The ride back to the South Bay was equally stunning. My day had started off at 4:30 AM with three hours of climbing/TT intervals doing loops around the infamous WSPL+kickerz route, and it finished with a peaceful climb back home, but not before we spied a buddy with his bike half-stuffed in the back of an Uber.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Flat and no spare,” he said. “And now we can’t get the bike into the back of the Uber.”

The Uber driver nodded. “Trunk won’t close.”

I applied some whiz-bang Wanky analysis to the physics problem at hand. “Gents,” I said, “I can get that bike in the trunk quicker than a freshly-Vaselined finger doing a rectal exam.”

The Uber driver was skeptical. “We have been working on it and it won’t go in. We have tried everything.”

I dipped my hand in the Vaseline jar, took the bike out of the trunk whipped off the rear wheel, and easily slid in the frame. Everyone stared. Then laughed. And then we left.

JZ and Phil had raised some money for hungry kids, the crew had had a fun day on the bike, I had slid a bike into a tiny trunk, and say what you will, I’ll take a skinny donut over a fat cookie any day of the week.


Where’s the beef?

August 24, 2019 § 1 Comment

Barbecue for 250 people is no mean feat, it is a meat feat. And the only way that it happened at the 2019 All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards is through the application of the genius of some seriously professional pitmasters.

Between Harry McQueen, Patrick Barrett, Reggie Walter and his buddy Mike, and Geoff Loui, this crew cranked out 13 briskets, 224 sausage links, 120 chicken breasts, 30 slabs of ribs and about 176 boneless thighs. In other words, if you showed up for this event you were going home full as a tick, and that’s not counting the sides for each plate (six of ’em) prepared by the Flawless Diamonds catering crew.

Sam Selfridge, Chris Miller, and Patrick showed up at 6:00 AM and quickly began to cook the day’s ribs. In order to pay his volunteers and skate the state’s labor laws, Patrick cooked Texas breakfast tacos on site, with a pot of scalding hot coffee that left everyone’s mouth and tongue in ruins, as camp coffee should.

It would be a long day, and since the pitmasters were also pitted against each other in a contest that would be judged by three highly qualified barbecue experts or whoever could be culled from the crowd vaguely sober, the tension was so thick you could cut it with beer and whiskey, which is exactly how it got cut, reducing the tension to the point that it was nonexistent.

Pitmasters always compete and eye each other over every detail, and nothing is more keenly eyed than the way the fire gets started. While Reggie pulled out a gallon of lighter fluid to start his fire, Harry unleashed his full-fledged propane flame thrower and lit his charcoal with Tim Allen gusto. Several small trees were incinerated in the process, and a large granite stone was reduced to magma.

Pitmaster Geoff was nowhere to be seen unless you happened to be lying next to him in bed.

Things went very smooth for everyone, at least as far as any of them could remember, and mostly, they couldn’t. Some pitmasters started with chicken, others with ribs. Geoff started with toast and jam as he fumbled for his trousers somewhere at home. At this point the picnic grounds were pretty empty except for Ken, Kristie, and their one-man helper team Seth, who basically did all the work, at least that’s what he said.

The cooks enjoyed each other’s company, carefully making sure that no one sabotaged the other guy’s meat with a gasoline rub. As more folks came to help Ken and Kristie set up, lessons from last year were applied such as threatening people with beheading if they tried to sneak food off the grill. Later in the day a few irate guests returned with charred bits that looked like fingers and thumbs of people who’d tried their hand at grill larceny and failed.

Geoff showed up at 11:00, fresh, rested, and almost ready for his noontime nap. He had cooked everything ahead of time, gotten a full night’s sleep, and was ready to boogie or nap, whichever came first. The pitmasters met and prepared the process for getting the food to the people and also to the judges. After the initial 12:00 PM feeding frenzy, with problems including Patrick’s uncooked/unchoked chicken, confusion with the food runners, and general startup disorganization, the pitmasters all sat back and waited for the next batch of food to come off the grills. Once the kinks were unkinked it was a well oiled and a well smoked machine.

People lined up, brisket on the line first, then sides, and then ribs and chicken. The Flawless Diamonds would call out when food needed replenishing, and you’d either hop to it or face the wrath of Toni. Every once in a while a guest would come over and thank one of the pitmasters with a plate of happy food. Together they shared a cold beverage and took a bit of time to relax while the assembly line did its thing.

Once cleanup was done, the pitmasters began to hang out in the front area facing the stage. Except for Harry … because he gathered his band of merry musicians, looking like he’d exerted no energy despite cooking for two straight days, and tore the place down with his music. Harry made everything look easy, kind of like the food cooked itself, the harmonica played itself, and he was simply along for the ride.

Someone (not from Texas) once asked, “What is the significance of BBQ to the universe?” It’s a good question if you’re not from Texas, but basically, sonny, it goes like this:

Everyone eats food, which falls into two categories, fast food and family dinner food. But barbecue, you see, is so far from either of those because it takes forever to make. What it means to the universe, and especially what it can do to help Los Angeles, is SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.


Have patience. Get together with people you know, people you don’t know yet, people you like, and people you’re going to like, and SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Serve yourself a big plateful of patience. Bring other humans together for hours and hours, resulting in a big payoff, a payoff of food and a payoff of camaraderie, and hopefully not a payoff of a nasty hangover the next day.

But it’s not easy, because after twelve hours of cooking you have no guarantee of success. The connective tissues in the meat may not give up after all that time and be tougher than granny’s bra strap, the flavor may taste like boiled ass, or it may be so over cooked that you can use it to patch potholes. So to get it right, you have to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN, pay attention, care, and don’t overreact when things aren’t going just right. With barbecue, like life, you’re not really in control, you’re just tending the garden while the sunshine and water do all the real work.

Hopefully Los Angeles is on the heels of a BBQ revolution and can learn from this slow, delicious meat candy, can learn to STFD.

Barbecue can also educate you. Mike, Reggie’s assistant, shared his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz when the DJ powered up his system. Some musical phrase triggered Mike into a passionate discourse about modern jazz artists. It came out of nowhere and the passion that he had was incredible. That’s part of the barbecue magic, too.

The contest came and went, with judges Sherri Foxworthy, Alfie Sanchez, and Jon Regnery making the hard decisions about who would win top honors. Thanks to Patrick’s rigged system he won again, but no one really got too upset because even though Geoff showed up late and perfectly groomed, he also showed up with several cases of ice cold beer, which studies show alleviates aggravation almost instantaneously.

Jon donated one of his beautiful True Au Jus barbecue cutting boards as the grand prize winner, a work of art that is almost too pretty to deface with raw meat.



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