UCI discusses elimination of “chick races” from new Covid-altered calendar

April 16, 2020 § 2 Comments

Union Cycliste International, the world’s governing body for the sport of Cycling (men) and for the sport of WDGAF (women), announced new dates for Cycling’s biggest events and indefinite postponement for WDGAF events.

Cycling in the South Bay caught up with UCI boss Yves-Baptiste le Chauviniste at his favorite strip club to discuss these changes.

CitSB: Big changes?

Yves-Baptiste: Oui, oui. Très big.

CitSB: How so?

YB: We must move Le Tour until August; incroyable.

CitSB: Très choque-ing. What will happen to the women’s races?

YB: Comment?

CitSB: The women.

YB: Ah, oui, oui. Cherchez les femmes!

CitSB: Non, non. The races for the women. What happens to those?

YB: Les quoi?

CitSB: Pour example, La Course, a race pour les femmes.

YB: (laughs) Les femmes are ici, cher ami.

CitSB: Oui, but what about the women’s races? When will they be rescheduled?

YB: Les chicky-chick races? Je ne sais pas.

CitSB: If you don’t know, who does?

YB: The chicky-chicks will get to do their little play race sometime, don’t worry, cher ami.

CitSB: How can the world governing body simply blow off the needs of women racers?

YB: Comment?

CitSB: How can you blow them off?

YB: (smiles) Ah, le blow job? Oui, oui, one can obtain it here.

CitSB: Not, not blow job. Blow off.

YB: We give the chicky-chicks some play dates, but with the virus … (shrugs). C’est la vie.

CitSB: So what happens when all of these women are thrown out of work because you won’t calendar their races?

YB: I am not sure, but you know, here at this establishment …

CitSB: Yes?

YB: One is always hiring.


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Cycling in the post Covid-19 world

April 9, 2020 § 10 Comments

We won’t be sheltering in place forever, and our bikes won’t be propped up against the wall, lonely and unridden, forever.

I hope!

But when restrictions ease, either mandatory ones or the voluntary restraints you’ve put in place to decrease the rate of infections, and when you venture out into the new landscape, it’s going to look different.

  1. Consumption. Expect to not care nearly as much about the newest and latest gear. After an extended period of wondering whether you’re going to eat or how you’re going to wipe your butt, the latest ceramic bearings will mean nothing to you. Expect to shut down the bulk of your gear purchasing, especially things like clothing, when you look into your closet and realize that you absolutely, unquestionably, do not need another kit.
  2. #fakeriding. Expect Zwift and its analogues to be a permanent part of what you call cycling. For many, expect it to be the only thing that you call cycling. Germaphobia is real and there will be many people who simply conclude that reducing physical contact is good and desirable across the board, pandemic or no pandemic.
  3. Smaller group rides. Expect group riding to have lost much of its sheen for many cyclists. In tandem with becoming accustomed to spinning indoors and not being so enamored of contact with others, even people who still want to pedal outside will be thinking long and hard about whether they want to do it in groups. Expect everyone to feel more vulnerable, more fragile, less willing to dive headfirst into the fray of the competitive group ride.
  4. Iron stake through the heart of road acing. Having been on a ventilator for years, sanctioned road racing cannot survive this. Expect even the diehards in the biggest racing demographic, the 60+ category, to finally admit that it’s not worth it and that it’s time to do something else. Expect the trickle of new, younger racers to completely go away.
  5. #fakeracing. Expect pro and amateur events to begin offering indoor spinning that coordinates with or wholly replaces actual races on the road. Expect “sportif” versions of the TdF, Flanders, and Roubaix to offer simulcast races where you can plug in, log in, then clip in along with the professionals as the virtual supplants the physical.
  6. eDoping. Expect more and more riders to eDope through statistical manipulation as well as the old-fashioned chemical methods. Expect no one to really care anymore.
  7. Off-road cycling. Expect even more people to transition from the road to off. The isolation, the smaller groups, and the absence of cars will all dovetail with the new reticence that people have to be around others unless they can maintain a safe distance.
  8. Virtual shopping. Expect bike shops to begin offering shops where you can click on an icon and, like Zwift, use your avatar to enter a shop, be met by a shop avatar, and walk through the store picking and choosing items while talking with staff about the product.
  9. Video links to everything. Expect Zoom connections in bike shops where you can click on a link and be instantly patched in to someone who can talk to you; not simply a chat or an email.
  10. Increased use of bikes for transport. Expect huge growth in bikes as transport as opposed to recreation. People stuck at home during the quarantine will realize how completely driving sucks and many will conclude that riding a bike, especially one with an electric motor, is simply a better way to get to the office.
  11. Increased use of bikes for recreation. Although transport uses will dominate, many quarantined people and their families will turn to bicycles as their primary form of getting outside together. Once the shelter in place orders are lifted, many of them will remain committed to riding. Millions of others will be unemployed and will find that pedaling is a great way to handle the stress of doing nothing. An entirely different group will be cut loose from their offices and will become home-workers permanently, now having the time and motivation to ride that they never had before.
  12. Reduced exotic bike tourism. Look for fancy Trek Travel-style luxury bike trips to wither and die as people are increasingly broke, cash strapped, and unenthused about potential exposure to disease in foreign climes–whether those fears are rational or not.
  13. Expanded local bike tourism. Expect people to embrace day trips or multi-day trips based out of nearby locales as they embark on exercise, relaxation, and discovery closer to home.


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Tour un-canceled, new format revealed!

March 24, 2020 § 5 Comments

French Ministress of Sport, Roxana Maracineanu, announced today that yesterday’s cancelation of the 2020 Tour de France had been reversed, and that a stripped-down version of the event would go ahead in a revised format.

When asked what the stripped-down format would entail, she quickly answered, “Strippers. We will have many of the, how do you say, dances on the pole?”

Critics such as five-time Tour victor Bernard Hinault were critical of the “Tour at all costs” approach being taken by the government and ASO. “Yes, the Tour is important, and yes, it is the only place left where I can still punch people in the face and throw them off the podium onto their teeth. But we must think of people’s health.”

Maracineanu took issue with Hinault, from a safe distance. “Monsieur Hinault is entitled to his opinion, but we have a format that will protect the health of our television revenue absolutely and the health of the riders and public, somewhat.”

Detailed plans, leaked to CitSB by a letuary at Amaury Sports Organization, show that the 2020 Tour will feature radical departures from past versions of the event. First is the new “Six Feet for Safety” rule, which will be employed throughout each race, requiring riders to maintain six feet between themselves at all times.

CitSB reached out to Patrick Lefevere, boss of team Quickstep, to find out if this were feasible.

“Absolutely not,” he said in an email. “In Europe we only use centimeters; no one will know how far these feet are. What if someone is a size 45, or dog forbid, an English size 11? It will be too confusing.”

In addition to the Six Feet for Safety ordinance, riders who saw the plans questioned how it would work in a bunch sprint. Ministress Maracineanu was adamant that “Although I am not a rider of the bicycle, we can imagine the sprinting as a fashion of gentlemanliness, where riders of bicycle can offer one another to proceed before, as when a gentleman opens a door for a lady.”

More explosive than this complete reconfiguration of pro road racing was the plan’s designation of a “cordone sanitaire” that would allow racers who have been exposed to the novel Covid-19 virus to take rest breaks at health stations along the route, deducting the time spent at aid stations from their finishing times.

Maracineanu: “This seems extremely complicated even to me, a Romanian Frenchwoman, but we must understand that in truth only the few people understand workings of the Tour anyway, like woman’s anatomy. Complex, mysterieuse, tres jolie, but also filled with pleasure and desire for all to experience. The Tour must be plunged deeply again.”


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Elder abuse

March 12, 2020 § 10 Comments

The first Telo of the year went off without a hitch on Tuesday. There were seven riders; Raul Vasquez-Diaz, Kristie Fox, Marco Cubillos, Jon Petrucci, Ivan Fernandez, Chad Lucius, and I. Joe Cooney had shown up to take photos, which was really nice of him.

Many riders stayed away because of the rain. Cyclists don’t like to ride in rain as a rule, and they really don’t like to race in the rain. In lots of place, there’s not much choice, but in SoCal if it is rainy you can wait a couple of days and it will be sunny. There is little motivation to race in the rain, especially when it is a #fakerace anyway.

Of course the weather forecast here is rarely correct, and people know that. They can also look out the window and see whether or not it’s raining. On Tuesday afternoon the skies were sunny and clear, and when Telo began the streets were bone dry, but still …

Jon started with a brisk tempo that rode everyone off his wheel except me and Ivan, so it was going to be a three-man rotation for 50 minutes until they began attacking me for the win. It didn’t turn out that way. After about ten minutes, Ivan attacked. He and Jon are teammates and my presence was unwelcome.

I chased and Jon countered. I chased and Ivan countered. I chased and Jon countered. Our three-man rotation had become a series of sprints, with me sitting Jon’s wheel and responding. The net effect was that they both got really tired. Finally Jon turned to me. “This is a weird dynamic,” he said.

I wasn’t sure if he meant that it was weird for two guys in their 20s to be mauling a 56-y-o grandpa, or if he meant that it was weird that they couldn’t drop me. Or both.

“I’m not pulling as long as you guys keep attacking me.” Sometimes I have to state the obvious, especially with younger riders.

“Let’s just ride a rotation and race it out at the end,” Jon said, which meant “We’ll tag team you again when you’re a bit more winded.”

“Okay,” I said. In a 2-on-1 scenario on a flat course with two fast riders, both of whom can sprint plenty fast, my options were none and none.

With one lap to go Jon attacked and rode away. Ivan outsprinted me at the end, but I was still pleased. There are not a whole lot of races left in my life where I’ll be riding in a break for 50 minutes with a couple of fast guys under the age of 30 who are trying might and main to get rid of me.

In many ways it was my favorite kind of Telo, long and grueling, tiny group, windy, nowhere to hide, and bitter fireworks followed by a truce followed by a hard rotation concluding with a fight to the death. I think the riders who stayed home because they didn’t want to get wet in the sunshine made a mistake, and it’s similar to the way people have reacted to the coronavirus.

I am not sure if I’ve had it, but when I got back from Turkey I was sick for two weeks. I rarely get sick and when I do, hardly anyone hears about it because I recover quickly. Not with this. I had all of the symptoms, especially the cough. Whatever I had was virulent and not taking “no” for an answer.

As bad as it was, it went away, and I can see how that if you are elderly AND weak, it could kill you, the same way that many types of illnesses can exploit existing problems to create a death cascade from something that a healthier person would shrug off. On the other hand, mass hysteria doesn’t seem to be the right answer, either, kind of like the nearly uniform reaction to the possibility of rain at Telo.

Racing in the rain isn’t for everyone, but everyone who does it gets better. Lower your tire pressure, go a little slower, take the turns less aggressively, give yourself a little more exit room, and things are going to turn out fine. Probably. If not, at least you’re going to slide rather than skid on dry asphalt.

The other great thing about racing in the #fakerain is that the group is small, which is safer, especially when it’s going fast.

Glad I went. Getting third out of three finishers is still a podium.


Disrespect Your Elders

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Telo rules

March 10, 2020 § 2 Comments

Today is Tuesday, the first Tuesday after the time change.

I did my first Telo in 2007, which makes this my 14th season. I’m not the oldest guy out there. I think that distinction goes to Ramon Reynaga. Nor am I the person who goes back farthest in Telo annals and still rides it.

Jason Morin was doing it back in the 90s and he was racing it as recently as two years ago, and Marc Spivey showed up for a couple of Telos year before last. Marc, I believe, did Telo in the early 80s. Still, I’ve done Telo enough to know the rules. Not everyone does. Here they are.

  1. Telo begins the first Tuesday after the time change. If it’s raining, you get wet. If you don’t go, you miss the first Telo of the year.
  2. The first lap is non-neutral “neutral.” Most people prefer to take the first lap as slow as they can to delay the inevitable, and it’s common for the group to assent to whomever leads with a slow start. But Telo has no neutral laps.
  3. Telo lasts 50 minutes plus five laps. It’s not 45 minutes plus five laps, or 48, or even 51. It’s 50 minutes plus five laps. Why? Because it takes about two minutes per lap, and 50+10=60, which is a nice round number.
  4. Telo has no owner, only, as Bob Frank said, “caretakers.” Who come and go.
  5. Unlike the beginning of the series, Telo ends when people stop showing up. For many years that was after the time change in fall. Recently it has been the end of August.

That’s all there is to it. Telo has survived near-annihilation and it has survived burgeoning popularity, when you could always count on 40 riders or more to start every race. As long as riders in the South Bay want to test themselves against other actual humans in the flesh, Telo will be there waiting for you. With jaws open wide.


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Aaron Wimberley, Ivan Fernandez, Eric Anderson, Overall 2019 Telo Podium I mean curb.

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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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.


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World destroyer

September 30, 2019 § 3 Comments

The playground is a good place to look at the future. I was there yesterday with my two grandsons; talk about future shock. The parents are all in terrible shape, without exception. One grandmom was so handicapped with her weight that she couldn’t lift her toddler up to the water spigot.

There was exactly one dad, a Brit, huffing and puffing as he tried to follow his toddler through the playscape. In the space of five minutes I counted him saying ten times, this: “That’s great honey! That’s great! Let’s go get lunch now, okay?”


Which means beer and fooball.

The half-dozen moms were glued to their phones, showing their stuff in impossibly tight workout clothes that, I can assure you, had never seen any work. The other kids had nannies. One boy, eight or nine years old, continually tried to get his nanny to engage with him at all. Sorry, dude, because phone.

My first reaction to all of this was disgust, especially as I was sprinting through the playscape, chasing my grandkids around the park, waving my arms in the air like a madman (like?), bombing down the slide after them, and generally behaving like, well, a kid. That’s what playgrounds are for, right?

But on reflection I didn’t feel so good, and not just because I slammed my ribs into a steel bar and crumpled up in a ball for a bit, providing lots of entertainment for moms and kids alike. No, the real reason I felt bad is because I was playing with my grandkids at all.

At a playground filled with kids, why weren’t the kids playing with each other? Why weren’t they chasing each other? Fighting with each other? Laughing with each other? The more I looked at it, the more bizarre it was. An entire park filled with kids, each kid paired with at least one adult if not two, and no kid able or willing to play with any other kid who wasn’t a sibling.

Kids who can’t play with kids, and grownups too lazy and unfit to meaningfully engage with their own kids? It’s not looking good, folks.

And then I saw the news …

Megan Jastrab won the juniors world road race!

All of my fear of the future dissipated, or at least most of it did. Here is a young woman who has been a stand-out on the bike since she began racing it, a young woman who went to Europe, snagged a world title in the Madison with Zoe Ta-Perez, and then ripped a rainbow jersey from the jaws of the continental best on their own turf.

How much more impressive does it get? This the title that Greg Lemond won, heralding his entry into the elite amateur ranks and foreshadowing his reputation as the greatest U.S. cyclist ever after Major Taylor.

Reading about the race gave me chills, and not just because it took place in brutal weather that dampened Megan not one whit. It gave me chills because when you read her comments about the race, you see a brilliantly strategic mind, one molded to win bike races after the likes of Coryn Rivera, the only American to ever win one of cycling’s monuments.

Megan’s dominance on the bike across multiple disciplines harks back to the lineage of great women bike racers who hail from the USA, including Connie Carpenter, Rebecca Twigg, Sarah Hammer, and Kristin Armstrong, women whose combined Olympic and world title exploits dwarf those of their male counterparts. Of course there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, but Megan’s thumping of the world’s best this past weekend gives cause for hope.

Lots and lots of it!


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#fake World Champion protests punishment for cheating

September 28, 2019 § 4 Comments

Dutch U-23 #fake world champion Nils Eekhof was astonished at being stripped of his #real world championship road win yesterday in England, a formerly great nation now being Brexited by Trump’s quarter-wit cousin.

CitSB sat down with Nils to discuss the travesty.

CitSB: So what happened?

NE: I won the title and the fraudsters on the race jury took it away.

CitSB: Why?

NE: Cheating. Because I cheated, ferfuxake.

CitSB: Wow. How did you cheat?

NE: I drafted behind a team car for an hour.

CitSB: Impressive. And they dq’d you for that?

NE: Yes. I’ve already assembled a legal team.

CitSB: Can you share with us the plan of attack?

NE: Pretty simple. I cheated obvious AF and now they’re saying I cheated.

CitSB: Can’t get simpler than that.

NE: If they’re going to dq me for cheating, what will happen to all the cheating?

CitSB: What do you mean?

NE: The cheating in cycling. Drugs, sticky water bottles, cutting the course, motorized bb’s, illegal aero fabrics, 8-inch sock cuffs, team car tows, line changes in the sprint, everything.

CitSB: I hadn’t thought of that.

NE: Right? You take down one cheater and the other cheaters stop cheating. Then what do you have?

CitSB: A bike race?

NE: Exactly. You want to fuck up this beautiful commercial and computerized endeavor with bike racing?

CitSB: I’m not sure the fans could handle it.

NE: They couldn’t. They don’t want it.

CitSB: So you felt like your cheating was fair?

NE: It was very fair. I cheated 100% according to the rules.

CitSB: What will you do if the dq stands? Will you stop cheating?

NE: (rolls eyes) Oh, sure.

CitSB: Good luck.


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See ya but not really

September 8, 2019 Comments Off on See ya but not really

I met Jess Cerra in 2012 on a BWR training ride of some kind in North County San Diego. She was crazy good, and as near as I could tell, had only recently begun road cycling as her main sport.

How good was she? In a matter of months she was riding professionally, jolting her way to the very top in an area brimming with top-level talent. I never spoke with her about it, but from the way she rode, Jess didn’t seem to consider herself a woman athlete.

She considered herself an athlete.

It didn’t matter who she was riding with, she tried to beat them, and usually, she did. Although she got into the pro cycling game late, she earned some impressive wins, not least of which Redlands, a race that is probably the most competitive race on the calendar. It was clear that she was headed for a career on the women’s world tour in Europe. That’s how good she was.

Until, as they say, life got in the way. Jess was hit with serious medical issues that required major surgery; she had to have her femoral artery re-routed, and then found herself battling with a host of auto-immune issues. World domination, in her words, never quite happened.

What did happen, though, was a different kind of domination, the domination that is the toughest kind of all–overcoming, persevering, pushing on not because there’s an Olympic medal waiting at the end but because the fire inside won’t let you stop. Jess fought through obstacle after obstacle, never giving up on her goal of racing at the very highest levels, even if ultimately it meant she’d never win “the big one,” whatever the big one is.

Jess retired from pro road racing this week, and left the profession with amazing grace and kindness; trademarks she was known for showing even when she rode you off her wheel. She thanked the people who had helped her, and was effusive in her praise for those who believed, encouraged, supported, understood. It wasn’t a retirement, as she said, but an “evolvement.”

In showing us how to fight the hard fights, how to share the success, how to not give up when the easiest word to spell and say is “quit,” Jess really did win the big one. The big one being, of course, life.

Hell of a ride, Jess. Hats off.


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Jess for the vee!

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