It's a numbers game

December 31, 2019 § 3 Comments

One of the best things about riding in LA is that many of your co-riders are really smart people who do interesting things M-F between 8:00 and 5:00. Occasionally you even get to overhear top secret discussions about major upcoming innovations, such as Google Arithmetic, which is the coming add-on to Google Alphabet.

On today’s NPR, I overheard Google engineers Dan B. and Rebekah P. talking about this top secret project. Turns out that Google has for years been searching for a way to devise an algorithm that can sequentially follow whole numbers.

It’s a lot more complex than you might think.

For example, the NPR consists of five (5) laps around the Parkway. Typically, this means that the first lap gets denominated “1,” the second “2,” and so forth until you reach “5,” which is the end. Most riders begin with 1, work sequentially through to 5, and then conclude their morning ride.

However, other riders have realized that what seems simple on the surface really isn’t. For example, what about the riders who start at Lap 2, and then sprint for the finale on Lap 5? Have they done three laps or five? Judging from the way that they go for the gold, it’s clear that they think they’ve done five laps Anthony Freeman.

Seems ridiculous, but it’s actually due to what Dan B. and Rebekah P. have identified as “pillow laps.” These are extremely intense intervals that occur sometime between 5:30 and 6:15 AM, and involve huge expenditures of energy as the head tosses from side to side and the shoulders hunch up into a squnchy snuggle in an attempt to harness more sleep.

“The snuggle is real,” says Dan B.

These pillow laps Rahsaan Bahati result, in fact, in an even greater effort than would have been expended had the riders been at the Pier at 6:40 when the ride begins, or had they hopped onto the Parkway at “Lap 1” instead of “Laps 2, 3, or 4.”

To solve this problem, Dan P. and Rebekah B. have made an important discovery in the world of computer programming.

Rebekah: “Google typically only uses 1’s and 0’s, but our research shows that there is a relatively limitless number of other whole integers out there, none of which have been patented and all of which are public domain. By using some of these integers, such as 2-3-4, we can get to 5 without eliminating the 1 or the 0. This would result in something we’re tentatively calling Google Count, and would be available to anyone with a Gmail account free of charge as long as we have access to the user’s private medical data, SSN, political affiliation, and as long as they use a small tracking device inserted under their corneas.”

Dan: “With Google Count as an add-on to Google Arithmetic, we’ll be able to logically progress throughout the NPR without any ‘lost’ laps, theoretically eliminating for all time the computing glitch known as ‘Hop-in-Wanker.'”

Other cyclist researchers at Google are simultaneously working on the fee-based, premier add-on service to Google Count and Arithmetic, tentatively called “Google Alarm Clock.”


END

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Shazam! Shabazz for the #fakevee!

December 18, 2019 § 13 Comments

Yesterday’s NPR started out very hard by which I mean cold. 48 degrees in SoCal is no laughing matter, so out came the fur-lined mittens and insulated panties for those hardy enough to brave the elements. Only Fearless Fred M. dared show up gloveless or, as he put it, “I realized two minutes in that I’d forgotten my gloves, but I was already late so I just went with it.”

The pillow babies were nowhere to be seen on this cold morning, but there were hop-in-wankers aplenty once we got to the Parkway. The new 5-lap configuration has made NPR faster because about half the peloton jumps in somewhere on Laps 2 or 3, fresh as a daisy and ready to pummel those who’ve dutifully rolled out from the Center of the Known Universe at 6:40 AM, pointy-sharp.

My two readers of this blog will readily acknowledge I’m just not that smart, as this week I went out hot, got caught, and then wound up on the wheel of Dante Y., the NPR’s most infamous hop-in-wanker. I don’t know if he just has trouble getting out of bed, if his watch doesn’t work, or if he does a real ride after NPR, or if he just don’t GAF, but he always hops in late, fresh as a daisy, and mauls everyone else to death in the sprint.

Some riders whine about it, but I think it’s great. This is a training ride and you should feel fortunate that there are riders there who will split you in half and not even send you a bill.

Yesterday Dante didn’t wait until the finish. At the start of Lap 3 he caught up to me and I grabbed his wheel, which was a mistake because he went so hard I thought I was going to have a medical event. He flicked me through, I didn’t come around, and he smashed me with another beastly effort before swinging over. I wobbled for a few seconds on the front before the peloton caught us. On the back side of Lap 3 another HIW revved it up again and I got dropped.

However, the small size of the group meant that even the HIW’s eventually wound up in difficulty, as all of them got dropped, and the riders who were fit and/or who had husbanded their resources properly came to the fore. Fearless Fred attacked with half a lap to go and left the field in tatters. Riders were strung out for almost half a mile behind him.

Then Elijah and Rebekah bridged up to Fearless, and Elijah, who as usual hadn’t done any work since the last pull he took on his baby bottle in 1986, leaped around Fred and Rebekah for the #fakevee. Kudos. That was a hard and gnarly ride.

From which we have several takeaways:

  1. If you are old and brokedick don’t squander a single pedal stroke on the new-new-pier-ride because the HIW’s are so fresh and lethal that they will turn you into creamed soup.
  2. Follow Elijah’s wheel if you want to save watts. He makes Vince DiMeglio look like a workhorse.
  3. Rebekah P. is en route to a straight-out NPR win.
  4. The new NPR is a lot harder if you do the whole thing.
  5. Avoid the front at all costs.
  6. When you get shelled, blame it on [your favorite excuse here].

END


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#fakewin, ##fakewin, ###fakewin

November 22, 2019 § 2 Comments

The more sanctioned road racing dies, the more #fakeracing grows. Or rather, the more important it becomes.

Last week on the NPR I celebrated my greatest ever #fakewin. With half a lap to go I jumped clear of a field that contained lots and lots of riders way faster than me. Like every field.

I took out the backhoe, dug very deep, and threw up my hands in a glorious victory celebration. To make it sweeter it was in a wool jersey without a helmet. Eddy was smiling down on me from somewhere in the ICU.

I had put such a massive gap on the losers in such a short time that they didn’t immediately come up to the light at Pershing. As no one came, I got worried because that could only mean a horrible crash in the glorious sprunt for second. Colin the Canadian finally rode up.

“Where is everyone?” I asked.

He looked at me funny. “They’re still racing.”

“What do you mean?”

“You attacked and declared victory a lap early.”

Baaaaaaahhhhh.

##fakewin

Yesterday’s NPR was an even better ##fakewin because the ##fakewinners refused to admit of the ##fakery. Neverdunna Roadrace jumped and got a gap. He’d been jumping all morning with great un-success because of TD Rennier.

When TD Rennier is in the group he simply goes to the front, sets it on 500 watts, and brings you back.

As Neverdunna Roadrace made his bid for glory, Neverwunna Break pounded free, spying an electric recumbent up the road. NWB latched on and motor-paced up to NDR. The pack didn’t know that the recumbent had a motor, and people were slackjawed because no matter how hard the group chased, NWB, who has never lasted more than a lap in an NPR #fakebreak, was literally motoring away.

TD Rennier made four or five huge efforts that ripped the field up and caused Major Bob to shout helpfully “Keep pedaling!” to people in front of him, beside him, and behind him, in between unpaid blog subscriptions.

At the end we caught up to Neverdunna Roadrace. “That’s cheating, you know.”

“What is?” he looked shocked.

“Motor pacing for the ##fakewin.”

“I wasn’t racing. I was just getting in my workout.”

“Okay.”

“Anyway, that’s what the pros do. They train behind the motor.”

“On #group #wanker rides? And I hadn’t heard about your pro contract. Don’t you have to win a Cat 5 road race first? Or at least enter one?”

“It was still hard AF. I put it all out there.”

“So did TD Rennier and a bunch of other people. But they didn’t have a motor.”

“So how come no one went with me when I jumped? They could have come with me.”

“They knew they’d peg you back. Minus the motor.”

“Anyway, I let Neverwunna have it.”

“Have what? I didn’t think you were racing.”

###fakewin

Once we started the recovery pedal back to CotKU, Major Bob came to the fore. At 27 mph.

This is always the best time to go hard in a ###facerace, i.e., after the ###fakerace ends.

And Major Bob did.

It seems odd that you’d do a ###fakerace and spend 95% of it directing pealing technique, only to throw down the megawatts post-race dodging trucks and school crossing zones in rush hour traffic through Manhattan Beach, but then again you’ve probably never done NPR with Prez, who was legendary for these post-#fakerace throwdowns.

Plus, since Li’l Douggie quit doing NPR, there’s been no one to lead the post-#fakerace competition to CotKU to see who gets the first cup of coffee.

#realrace

I saw the other day that SoCal’s last sanctioned stage race folded after twenty-one years. Reason? No one wants to road race anymore.

END


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Charon. TD Rennier. Michelle. Single fuggin’ file.

Shocking *yawn* news

November 6, 2019 § 9 Comments

Wisdom is called wisdom because it has been proven over time. Those who intentionally ignore wisdom are fools.

The only advice that Eddy Merckx ever gives people who want to know how to become better is this: “Ride your bike more.”

And hard on the heels of his protege’s junior world road title, Olympian and Lux coach Roy Knickman said this: “Our program is based on lots of riding and lots of racing.”

Contrast that with the programs offered up by most experts and local club “coaches,” programs whose only heavy lifting involves social media preening, wattage prescriptions, “controlled” rides presided over by a “ride boss,” and admonitions to not “overtrain.”

How the fuck can you overtrain when you don’t even train? That’s what I want to know. Fields would have scoffed at this like you can’t imagine.

And when it comes to doing local, hardass events like BWR, Phil’s Double Fudge, Nosco, the Full Fig, why aren’t these rides packed with people trying to get better?

So you can imagine how stoked I was to learn that the NPR was extended to five laps to make it safer (questionable) and harder (UNQUESTIONABLE). Of course the West Siders still play hop-in wanker by shaving off the start of the ride, and numerous of them still only do four or even three laps, but the pack is smaller, the speeds are higher, and if you aren’t on your game you’re gonna come unstitched like a cheap pair of bib shorts.

Enter Exhibit 1 of “I guess in order to go faster I will have to work harder,” a/k/a Denis Faye.

Denis is one of those midlife crisis dudes who discovered cycling as an alternative to life’s headaches, and over the last few years just keeps getting stronger. His signature move is to NOT dick around on the NPR but to hit out hard, hit out early, and devil-take-the-hindmost.

He used to get caught and dropped a lot but now? Not so much.

Yesterday he opened the festivities with a fist to the mouth and was followed by Wes Morgan, barely recovered from Nosco on Sunday. They rolled away fast. Their “neutral zone” is back in bed.

On Pershing, SoCal’s fastest and strongest rider, Evens Stievenart, dropped a bunker buster on the peloton, strung it out to 35, and the chase was on. West Side hop-in-wankers glommed on at the Parkway, there were a series of counterpunches that shattered the group, and Jeff Mahin rolled with Evens in tow, or vice versa.

They caught Denis and Wes, eventually shelled Wes, and Denis hung on by a meat thread for five entire laps. The peloton chased its brains out and never got close. I was shelled on the first lap and only re-glommed thanks to a stop light. I got shelled again on the third lap and again re-attached thanks to the traffic signals. Later on I mercifully flatted and was able to rest before playing hop-in-wanker myself and catching the group for the last lap and a half.

Denis made it to the finish with two of the strongest riders in LA, not because he’s any good, not because he’s a wattage maven, not because he has a structured ride program, but because he rides a lot, races ‘cross on the weekends, is grittier than a EULA, and isn’t afraid to go all-out.

That’s how it used to be, folks.

That’s how it still is.

It’s called “wisdom” because it works.

END


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Poke the bear

October 11, 2019 § 6 Comments

There are lots of rules in cycling. One of those rules is, “In the sprunt, get out of the way.”

This is the rule for 99% of riders. If you are not leading someone out or getting ready to unleash your killer sprunt, you are in the way. You are a “clogstacle.”

As a career clogstacle, I understand how this works. On the last lap of the NPR #fakerace, I tenaciously grab the wheel of EA Sports, Inc. People try to horn in but I elbow them out of the way.

With 1k to go the pace goes from torrid to unbearable. People are now fighting like mad for any shelter from the wind and are ready to kill in order to latch onto the wheel of EA Sports, Inc.

This is when I stand up, take my briefcase off the overhead rack, and quietly shuffle to the back of the bus while the real racers do their thing, i.e. risk death and catastrophic injury for the massive jolt of hormones that are released when you kill the mastodon with your sharpened stick.

Fortunately, there is constant churn at the #fakerace, and someone is always having to learn the Rule of Clogstacles. Last Tuesday the scholar-in-training was Aaron Somebody in a USC team kit.

There were a mere 400 meters to go and hardly anyone was left in the tattered front group. EA Sports, Inc., was locked onto the wheel of Dante Young as Davy Dawg wrapped it up so that the tires were whining like a cur getting beaten with an iron rod.

At this very inopportune moment, the USC rider decided that where he really wanted to be was where EA Sports, Inc. was, and physics not readily allowing two bodies to occupy Dante’s wheel at the same time, USC Boy did what any self-respecting sprunter would do. He leaned into EA Sports, Inc. to nudge him off the wheel.

Unfortunately, dense masses of muscle and ice cream do not nudge easily, and EA Sports, Inc. nudged back, sending USC Boy off on a somewhat different line of travel.

Undeterred, USC Boy came back to the buffet line to see if he could get another helping. This time the nudge was more of a hard bang, but dense muscle and ice cream and a 20-lb. weight advantage and a 150-lb. meanness advantage weren’t impressed.

EA Sports, Inc. moved his bars forward and then drifted back a few inches so that now the two gentlemen’s handlebars were locked together. “What do you think you’re doing?” EA Sports, Inc. politely inquired.

“That’s my wheel,” USC Boy said.

“I don’t see your name on it,” EA Sports, Inc. replied.

As the speed hit the mid-30’s and the actual sprunt was about to occur, and as EA Sports, Inc. was in the clear position to slightly twiggle his bars and send USC boy somersaulting atop the pavement, USC Boy relaxed on the pedals, the bars unhooked, and EA Sports, Inc. went flying around Dante for the immortal, unforgettable, legendarily mythic NPR #fakerace #fakewin.

I quit observing, folded up my Hubble telescope, and caught up to the scraggle at the light. EA Sports, Inc. and USC Boy were having what is often called an animated discussion but in cycling means “almost coming to blows” about who did what when how and why.

USC Boy tried to explain that he wanted to improve, that he was seeking instruction from the master, that he only wanted to rectify misunderstandings, but at the same time was insisting that EA Sports, Inc. had opened up a bit of a gap that he was merely trying to exploit.

“Dude,” EA Sports, Inc. said, “there was a massive gap all right.” He pointed his thumb at me. “But it wasn’t at the sharp end of the spear.”

USC Boy considered that for a moment, nodded, and went off to the university for what was presumably his second round of schooling for the day.

END


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Rolling thunder

August 29, 2019 § 2 Comments

Let me die free.

Let me die like this: hammering off the front on the world’s dumbest and most exhilarating group ride ever, the New Pier Ride.

Let me die like this: helmetless, the wind blowing through the locks that I yet have, by colpons oon and oon, my hairless enemies gnashing their teeth, eating their livers in my wake.

Let me die like this: young and enthusiastic riders, not beaten down by conformity and fear of death, bridging up and refueling the break with the force of twenty bulls.

Let me die like this: pinned on Ramon’s wheel as Pornstache passes, hye on hors he sat, frame too big, catching wind as a spinnaker, throwing watts onto the pedals like copious ocean foam upon the rocks.

Let me die like this: John Candy Trump ignominiously cutting the course and reappearing out of the neighborhood just in time to blow by him, my caboose latched onto the Pornstache Express.

Let me die like this: a thousand slow deaths as Ramon and Pornstache take turns motoring even farther from the dejected and dispirited group.

Let me die like this: face bismotered and slathered in, uh, pain.

Contorted in awful misery, yo.

Let me die like this: the end in sight, having saved every ounce left in these old bones, punching once and dislodging the raging bull.

Let me die like this: watching the bull counter and ride away.

Let me die like this: with Pornstache slapping his ass in the universal bikespeak of “hang on, hang on, hang on.”

Let me die like this: the Pornstache catch, the raging bull fade, and the leadout at every punishing mile per hour that Pornstache’s legs can churn.

Let me die like this: coming around with every ounce of strength in my sagging body, gifted the #fakewin at the #fakerace by a #truefriend, arms raised in the #fakesalute, all caught on video by Fran Sur in the LAX police follow car.

Let me die free.

END

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Did you do the NPR?

July 9, 2019 § 8 Comments

There has been a lot of discussion lately about what the NPR actually is. I am not good with flow charts and stuff, but what follows might help you out if you are wondering whether you really did the NPR.

Did you start at the Manhattan Beach Pier?

NO — You did not do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you leave at 6:40 AM?

NO — You did not do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you turn right at Imperial?

YES — You did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you wait for the group at the top of Pershing?

YES — You for sure did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you get dropped, cut across the Parkway, then hop back in with the group, a/k/a Hop-in Wanker?

YES — Don’t even think about saying you did the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you run a red light?

YES — You might have done the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

When you ran the red light(s), were you in a breakaway or solo OTF?

NO — You didn’t do the NPR.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did Elijah yell at you?

NO — You need to do more action to get noticed.

YES — You might have done the NPR.

Did you peel off on Lap 3 so you could watch the finish?

YES — You did not do the NPR.

NO — You might have done the NPR.

Did you complete all four laps plus Pershing plus VdM plus the Alley?

NO — You didn’t do the NPR. Sorry.

YES — Go ahead, post it up on the ‘Bag, the Gram, and the Stravver. You did the NPR.


END

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