July 25, 2019 § 13 Comments
Submitted by our war correspondent from the trenches. Warning: May offend male cyclists. Hopefully, anyway.
MANSPLAINING: A delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with a rock solid conviction of rightness and that certainty that he is right because he is the man in the conversation.Webster’s Third International Dictionary of Reality
MANSPLAINING: Of a man; to explain needlessly, overbearingly, or condescendingly, (typically when addressing a woman) in a manner of thought to reveal a patronizing or chauvinistic attitude.Encylopedia of Common Knowledge
I think maybe I have ‘splained this all before, but before I was a cyclist, and I’m still not entirely sure that I see myself as this, I was a runner. I spent many hours a week running alone in the mountains (Gasp! Isn’t it dangerous for a woman to run alone, much less in the mountains?) and I got pretty good at it.
I was not running as part of a group organized by men, running with a “mentor” of any kind, on a team run by a board of men who instructed me on proper running mechanics and training, or under the tutelage of a male coach, i.e. a moach, or any other coach for that matter. But somehow, all alone, by myself, without any input from anyone aside from me and my own education/understanding of exercise science and physiology, not to mention the direct knowledge of my own body and how it worked, knowledge gained through decades of athletic competition in multiple sports, I was able to train myself such that that I became fast and skilled enough at this running thing (i.e. averaging 6-ish minute miles for long distances with lots of hills) to win or podium at the races I entered. And I did not just win/podium the women’s category, but the overall category. Yes, that’s right. I beat the men. On some occasions I beat all of the men, and on all occasions I beat most of them. Imagine that?
What’s more, for a few years in my young life I was a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. I managed to be good enough at this male dominated and incredibly demanding fire thing to make it onto a Hotshot Crew. In a hyper-militaristic environment, riddled with hazing, dictated by hierarchies based on physical conditioning and strength, where a strong work ethic was required, and with your daily position in the social schema determined by insane competition at the highest and most demanding levels, I was able to stand out enough to be put in a position of authority. Me, a woman. Often times, the only woman. Put in charge of men, in potentially life or death situations. Who knew?
I thought I had this life/training/athletic thing kind of down. And then …
ENTER CYCLING. I became a “cyclist” after I was spotted early one morning Riding a Bike While Female by a Man on a Bike. This Man on a Bike and I had a bit of a battle going up Via Campesina, and even though I was Riding a Bike While Female, I impressed him enough for him to think maybe it was statistically significant that I could do this super complex bike thing kind of decently, but with a little “help.”
Although I explained to him that I was a personal trainer at work, had a sports background, had just completed one of the hardest full Ironman competitions on the calendar and had been a pretty successful runner, Man On A Bike thought that even so, and in consideration of my current state of ignorance since I was some sort of athlete but not a “cyclist,” i.e. a blank slate, he believed that with the combination of full immersion therapy into a team of knowledgeable men and some moaching, my cycling could probably be capable of improvement.
Based on the size and shape of my “muscles” he assumed I had done very little cycling (he was right about this detail) and therefore knew nothing about … well, anything really, especially the things I told him that I knew about already, i.e. sports and training. He gave me his card and told me to email if I was interested in doing some more riding. Against my better judgment, and nature in general, I did. In our first email exchange, Man On A Bike told me many things, including how much benefit there was to being on a team of men, but that in the process I would get a lot of “mansplaining.” I had never heard the term “mansplaining” before. However, this turned out to be one of the most truthful statements Man On A Bike has ever made to me. Perhaps the only one.
What I discovered very quickly was that even though we women seem to function just fine on our own in life, the attainment of self sufficiency being one of them, Riding a Bike While Female subjugates such impertinent details to the knowledge and superiority of the Man On The Bike. Even when faced with undeniable facts of who you are, what you have done in your life, your education, your career, or the fact that you actually “appear” to be stronger than the Man On The Bike, Man On The Bike will mansplain reality back into manquilibrium for you both at 186K per second.
Riding A Bike While Female puts one in constant jeopardy of various types and manifestations of mansplanation, and they come in various forms. Here are some that I have experienced:
“The Dick Line”
Around nearly every man on the bike is what I call the Dick Line. I see it as a sort of Mason Dixon Line of cycling. As a female, you are supposed to be aware through osmosis or DNA electromagnetism of the inherent boundaries of the Dick Line. Crossing the Dick Line puts you in Dick territory, and is strictly forbidden. This is how The Dick Line violation unfolds.
You are Riding Your Bike While Female when you encounter a Man On A Bike. Man On A Bike is slower than you. As you continue to pedal, you pass him. As you are doing so, you cross his Dick Line and his Dick Line alarm is activated. Man On A Bike’s mansplaining mode jumps into action by forcing Man On A Bike to stand up on his pedals and frantically flog himself to a point on the road ahead of you, once again re-establishing his Dick Line and manquilibrium. Unfortunately Man On A Bike is red-lined and slowing to a crawl at the moment his Dick Line is re-established, creating once again a risk of another boundary violation with woman who is Riding A Bike While Female, so he makes either an abrupt right or left turn off the road to avoid the confrontation, or gets a “mechanical” and has to “stop.” Under these new circumstances no one can be positive that his Dick Line was actually violated, and manquilibrium is restored.
Message: Women are not allowed to be faster than men without consequence.
“Pacing Governed By Genitalia”
When Riding A Bike While Female, one must always be aware that it is not necessary to ride as fast, or dare I say it, faster, than Man On A Bike. In fact, to even desire such a thing as riding as fast, or (gasp) riding faster than Man On A Bike is sort of “crazy” and will require some form of mansplaination to reestablish manquilibrium. As a woman Riding A Bike While Female, our highest aspirations should reach no further than riding as fast as the other females, or within some determined range that can be found on gender divided scoreboards based on mph or Watts per/Kg. But certainly, expressions of the drive to compete with Man On A Bike or, for sure, competing directly with the man, is off the table and will be shut down through various mechanisms.
If at any point during your time Riding A Bike While Female, a verbal statement is made by you implying that you will be someday be as fast as Man On A Bike, you can expect responses similar to these: “You will never be as fast as me,”“You will never beat me on a climb,” “You will never win Telo,” “If you want to be faster you will have to do x-watts per/kg and you will never do that,” and my personal fave fave, “Why do you want to be as fast as me? You only have to be as fast as a Cat 4 woman.” If you happen to be Riding A Bike While Female and accomplish some of the previously stated impossibilities, you can expect the following: “So that’s how its going to be, huh?” “I’m slowing down to wait for my teammate,” “I just took a pull,” or my fave fave “I would be way stronger than you if I trained harder.”
Message: You need to stay weak because, penis.
Occasionally, such as everyday all the time, on some rides, i.e. on all rides Riding A Bike While Female, you might be good at it. Being good at bike riding will activate the Mansplain Hustle, an interdisciplinary mode of mansplaining that requires quick yet rehearsed thinking on the part of Man On A Bike. This is a particularly creative and complex mechanism of mansplaination with multiple vectors, thinly disguised as “encouragement.” In truth, The Mansplain Hustle of Inverted Encouragement is simply the mansplaination of factual reality back into the fictional genre of manquilibrium that puts the man back in the position of authority by flipping events inside out to make the women’s accomplishment appear to be the man’s act of chivalry. Here are just a couple of examples:
“Good Job” The Good Job affirmation must be given to a woman by Man On A Bike any time she is passing his Dick Line and he is incapable of generating the energy to activate his flogging mechanism and ride away from her to an unknown point ahead. Good Job establishes manquiliubrium by letting you know that this is a special occasion, like Christmas, or your birthday, and that it only comes once a year and is totally a gift from him, not attributable to anything you have done of your own volition.
“You’re doing better this week!” This Inverted Encouragement is often done at the end of an interval, at the end of a ride or the top of a climb, when Man On A Bike has been soundly beaten by woman Riding A Bike While Female. The purpose of this messaging is just like the one above, with the added bonus of reminding the woman that the previous week she was not as good or as fast as Man On A Bike. This once again implies that this is a special occasion and was merely a gift from the man that will be rescinded the following week when normalcy will once again be initiated. What is most sinister about this form of “encouragement” is that this is almost never the case. Generally, the woman was better than Man on a Bike the previous week, but Man On A Bike assumes that Riding A Bike While Female is taxing out the tail end of the woman’s skill set and resources, including memory, and she won’t recall kicking his ass the week before. Manquilibrium is reestablished via gaslighting.
Message: You deserve an award just for being out here. So calm down and stay back there.
“Let me explain to you body, your job, your life, pretty much just let me explain”
Every time you are out Riding A Bike While Female, you can expect Man On A Bike to consider this your first day on earth. So if you are Riding A Bike While Female with Man On A Bike (or even a man who owns a bike and isn’t riding it), nothing you have done before that day counts in terms of knowledge or experience. For example, if you tell Man On A Bike that you are a personal trainer, have been for over fifteen years, that you began studying Exercise Physiology at the age of 14, that is has been your lifelong passion from the time you began competitive figure skating at age eight, that you at one time owned your own gym where you were individually responsible for training each and every person who walked through the door, that you taught every type of fitness class that could be taught, and that at your current company you were in the top 50 of over 3000 trainers world wide, you can expect him to try to explain to you, in great and pompous detail, what a fitness interval is.
When you try to interject some of your actual knowledge on intervals, Man On A Bike will, in the most unconvinced-of -your-self-described-background and condescending voice he has at his disposal, ask if you in fact really, actually know what a true interval is. When you again remind him of your background, tell him that there is more than one type of interval, and ask to which type was he referring, he will become completely convinced that you are as ignorant as he thought and will not believe that you do truly know what an interval is until you have broken it down for him in PubMed terms that he himself, does not understand. At which point he will mansplain the situation back to manquilibrium by saying “ Smart, strong and funny. Great combo.”
Message: The Dick Line is Overarching.
One glimmer of distinction from this sad state of affairs is that here, on our local Thursday AM Flog Ride, where we have no gender prizes, the women have no interest in gifts and, hopefully, the men have figured out not to offer them up. Although some of the above actually did take place on this ride at some point in the past, a conversation was overheard on La Cuesta last week at the Flog that made me smile. Man On A Bike was heard telling a woman who had been Riding While Female that she was very strong and that he hoped to, at some point, be good enough to get on her wheel. He offered her no advice, gave no critique, and neither did she to him. It was simply an exchange between two equals. As it should be. Who knew?
July 22, 2019 Comments Off on 6 every 3
Boozy P. is lethal on the bike, but not most of the time. Most of the time, he’s lucky to be on the bike at all. However, as I noted a long time ago, for six months once every three years, BP gets bike religion and it is game on.
I noticed three months ago the stirrings of BP fitness. He was saying weird things like, “I rode around the Hill,” and “Yeah, me and Smasher went out for a pedal.” One time he swung by during a ride, doused with what looked like fifteen gallons of sweat, which is about how much it takes to flush 180,000 gallons of beer.
Pretty soon BP started showing signs of serious pre-fitness such as bike leotards that were starting to fit right. Then, when I’d talk about a ride, he started listening. Really listening.
Finally, he did That Which Only Those Seeking Fitness Dare Do: The Thursday morning Flog Ride. “Man,” he said afterwards. “This ride sucks as bad as I remember it.”
Hating on the Flog is a sign of fitness. People who claim to love it or who say, “Wow, this ride is great! See you next week!” are the ones whose autographs you should get immediately, because you won’t see them again.
One day I knew he was ready and told him that we were riding up Deer Creek and back. “I’m in,” he said.
“5:30 launch,” I said, testing him further.
The next day we did a four-person rotation all the way out there and then climbed the mountain from hell. Baby Seal flew up it, I mostly crawled, and Boozy P. caught me pretty handily at the top of the first peak. Thing is, BP isn’t even a climber.
Back on PCH we began pedaling hard and suddenly we had gone forty miles quick. Boozy was doing more than his share of FaceTime into the FaceWind, tearing everyone’s legs in half. Back in Redondo, he peeled off to go home. My legs were crying.
“Only three more months,” I said. “Thank dog.”
July 5, 2019 § 9 Comments
- Shut up already about “safety.” You were 1 of 250 idiots racing full speed in an illegal, un-permitted street race, endangering the lives of pedestrians, the lives of fire hydrants, and the lives of each other, all for the glory of getting dropped on Mandeville.
- Yes, that is a traffic light. Like a coop of chickens smelling a fox, every time we approached an intersection, half the wankoton cackled “Light!” “Slowing!” Are you fucking kidding me? Anyone who can’t see a traffic light or notice that people are going from 30 to 10 IS ON A DIFFERENT RIDE. And … “Crack! Hole!” on Vista del Mar?? THAT STREET IS A SOLID 3-MILE CREVASSE, MINEFIELD, AND RUBBLE PILE. Stfu and pedal..
- Start is start. The Holiday Ride starts at CotKU. If you were a hop-in wanker somewhere along the route, please note that on your Stravver.
- Pull like Keith. Shirtless Keith drove the front and blew up repeatedly all the way to San Vicente. I know it sucks to get sweat on your $250.00 custom team jersey, but it sucks even more to be on a bike ride and NOT RIDE YER FUGGIN’ BIKE.
- How the West won. Why were all the South Bay wankers shelled in the first 500 meters up Mandeville? Why was the leaderboard populated exclusively with Westsiders? Because the South Bay is a) Old b) Soft c) Weak. d) All of the above. [Hint: Correct answer is “d.”]
- Kit winner of the day: Shirtless Keith. Of course. Best boots and Pop-Tart strap-on outside a prison work gang.
- Butter on a griddle. That’s what the peloton looked like when Rudy Napolitano took a 23-mph pull all the way up San Vicente. Number of pretty boyz/gurlz who followed his example and took a pull: 0. Number who decided suddenly that this was a rest week: 50% of the peloton.
- Riders killed or horribly maimed because helmetless: 0.
- Blowhard #socmed heroes who were obliterated in the first 1/4 of the climb despite never taking a single fuggin’ pull: All of them.
- Best Gram videos: Baby Seal and Ramon, of course!
June 30, 2019 Comments Off on “How do I get in the blog?”
People never ask me that. What they do ask is, “You’re not gonna put that in the blog, are you?”
But I was on the Bahati 100 kits ride, a few miles after Charon had towed a group of 140 riders out PCH from Santa Monica to Pepperdine, and that’s exactly what Nigel de Sota asked. “How do I get in the blog?”
We were right where Piuma starts to kick up, and I said “It’s pretty easy. You kick me out the back like the worn out old shoe that I am, and boom, you’re in.”
Nigel has of course kicked me out the back so many times that he was probably wondering “How many kickings do I have to administer to this old grandpa?” but by then I was off, dashing up the hill on a fool’s errand to get to the top first. Nigel chased.
The first guy who caught me and dropped me I don’t know. But after a while along came Jason Meidhof with two kids, one of whom blew up as they passed me. They caught the leader and made short work of him. The kid who blew, I think his name was Barker, recovered, caught me and dropped me, but then blew up again and so I caught and dropped him. As I passed I offered him some #fakeencouragement as he was pedaling squares.
“C’mon! It’s just around the corner!”
When you are blown, it might as well be a thousand miles away. Squares is squares.
I glanced back and saw Bahati. He was barely pedaling, and catching me so fast that I knew I was cooked. I sprinted hard around the last turn, hoping he wouldn’t catch me before the finish only to realize that the last turn wasn’t. He breezed by and to make it really sting he wasn’t even breathing. Then, triple sting: “Good job,” he said.
When you want to really make it hurt, say “Good job!” as you pass because it means “Good job but not good enough.” At the top of Piuma I dashed off into the brush to pee and relieved myself, I later discovered, in a vigorous patch of poison oak. All I can say is, if you touch poison oak and then you touch your equipment, you are in for a rough patch.
We waited for the rest of the group as this funny burning sensation started to blossom in my shorts, and then we descended to the left-hander at Scheuren. I was ahead and pulled off after making the turn so that the riders who didn’t know the route wouldn’t overshoot it and go all the way to the dead end at the bottom of the steep canyon. D-Mack got his eyes crossed, took the turn too wide, and barely missed plowing into me.
Foxy hit the divots before the turn to avoid hitting D-Mack, ran into the curb and had a bicycle falling off incident. It was a pretty exciting morning.
Back at Giant Cycles in Santa Monica I was looking forward to the pizza, but the 130 locusts who had flipped it at Pepperdine and gotten there a couple hours earlier left nothing but a soggy strip of dead pepperoni. I didn’t complain, though. It tasted bonk good.
Nigel came up to me. “Man,” he said, “I tried to follow you going up Piuma.”
Charon and Rahsaan busted out laughing. “Rahsaan said. “Don’t ever follow Seth,” Rahsaan said. He just goes hard early and blows up and then there’s nothing but pieces all over the road, and if you’re with him you’re blown up, too.”
Nigel shook his head. “I ain’t ever following you again,” he said. “I learned that.” Then he paused. “Don’t put that in the blog.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I won’t.”
June 23, 2019 § 15 Comments
Lately I have been working really hard to come up with a way to quit cycling. Don’t get me right, I actually love riding a bicycle. But over the years the activity has become overgrown with so much moss and dross that the only sensible thing to do is give it up.
I look around me and see so many people quitting, not to mention the development of excuses so bulletproof that no one could possibly question HOW MUCH THEY REALLY WANT TO RIDE but simply can’t. Here’s my top ten. I’ll be trying them out over the coming hoursdaysweeksmonthsyears.
- Cycling has become too materialistic. It’s all about stuff and never about actually riding. Outside. On a bicycle.
- My hip replacement. I was gonna have a great year this year and get fit and do what coach says but I gotta replace my leg. It will grow back stronger but until then, couch.
- Data kills the fun. Even though I don’t have a computer, a power meter, or a jock strap monitor, everyone else does, and it is a total buzzkill listening to their tales of data, or worse, asking me how far I rode. “I dunno.” And I don’t wannaknow.
- Everyone is dead or injured. It is a scientific fact that 100% of cyclists eventually dies, and 99.9999999999%, at the time they die, are not wearing a helmet.
- Chain cleaning. I am tired of cleaning my chain, even though with Wend chain wax, I never have to.
- Frame Upgrade Phobia (FUP). I’m in my third or second year with my current frame. This means that next year I must buy a new one or they will revoke my #profamateur license. And I cannot decide between all carbon that is 100% carbon and pure carbon matte black or shiny black. Most of my hair has fallen out worrying about it.
- Tummy pooch. Lately my tummy pooches out, although I suck it in manfully when people are taking pictures. Still.
- Cycling helps me live longer, but makes me more stupid and more boring and more wrinkly. So wouldn’t it be better to be brilliant, fascinating, and dead on Thursday?
- Short shorts. The new trend, modeled by Manny Guzman at Telo a few weeks back, is crazy short cycling shorts. I will eventually have to wear them, so quit now.
- Jeff Konsmo’s 19-tooth climbing gear. I rode on Saturday with Konsmo, whose climbing gear is a 19. Why even try?
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June 20, 2019 Comments Off on A heartwarming story
Generally, I avoid these. My heart is cold, icy, bloodless like a stone, and I like it that way. Wonderful stories of good people doing good things are my Kryptonite.
A couple of days ago I was driving my son home from the finish of his junior year in college. We were talking about things. “Dad,” he said, “your outlook on life is pretty Hobbesian.”
I flushed with joy that any child of mine would have exited a year of college having read Hobbes, not the stuffed tiger. But it bummed me out ever so slightly–and I do mean slightly–to think that the outlook of this rather grim philosopher was being applied to me. Life and the state of nature?
There is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and shortLeviathan, Thomas Hobbes
A few hours later my son was on a plane, destined for a small village in the Balkans where he would spend the summer teaching English and learning Croatian. I returned home to work.
And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear, was a beautiful story about a stolen bike that had found its way home. I hope you click on this link, especially if you are even a little bit Hobbesian, as no matter if your heart is as flinty as mine it will kindle the tiniest spark of warmth when you read about how good people can turn a really rotten bit of thievery into a strong human connection of people doing the right thing BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS THE RIGHT TIME TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
There is so much goodness to the story that it’s incredible. The obvious stuff is amazing–stolen bike in California gets found on the East Coast. And then the buyer, after buying the stolen bike and having no hope of a refund, checks Bike Index, confirms her suspicions, and alerts the true owner. The bike gets reunited, and then the true owner “buys” the bike back from the person who bought the fenced item even though she doesn’t want the money.
Best of all, there’s no true crime story where a bad person gets hung up by the thumbs and sent to Trump’s immigration prison. Instead, the true owner recognizes that we’ll never know who stole the bike, and that’s okay. What matters is that a unique ride was brought home to live in quiet and harmony happily ever after (albeit on a trainer), and through a dastardly act a profound friendship was made.
I felt something inside when I read this story. Hope it doesn’t spread.
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June 12, 2019 § 7 Comments
I was pretty bummed out after the Flog Ride last week to learn that Michelle was formally retiring from our Thursday morning beatdown. Anyone who did the ride with any regularity at all knew Michelle; she had been there from the very beginning. Along with Emily G., she was a woman who showed, week in and week out, that women are way tougher than men.
And like everyone who stuck to the Flog, she got better, stronger, faster.
Unlike everyone else, though, she did it with unstoppable good cheer. Whereas the rest of us were sour, sourer, sourest, Michelle took her weekly beating and always had time to laugh at the beginning and laugh in the middle and, most importantly, laugh at the end.
When the Flog started out, laughing was no easy matter because it was a six-lap, all-out race, and if you got shelled, you spent the better part of your pre-dawn Thursday … alone. And it was dark. And it was cold. To top the shit Sundae off with a cherry of misery, those early floggings served up people like Emerson Orante and Daniel Holloway, not to mention Chris Tregillis, full-on Wily Greek, Derek the Destroyer, on-form Hair, 800-watt PVDN Jon Davy, Eric A., and strongmen like Craig the Pilot, Canyon Bob, and Ugly Pedal Mike Hines. Every week delivered beatdown hash, guaranteed, with solid regulars like Crowbar, Shriver, G-Jit, and a slew of other riders.
So many South Bay riders have never even done the Flog once, so frightened are they of its intensity, its intervals, its sprints, its grimness.
None of that fazed Michelle. She’d finish in as good a mood as she began, something that no one on the Flog has ever been able to say but her. Michelle wasn’t satisfied with being satisfied, though, she spread the cheer at the legendary post-Flog coffee klatsch overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Golden Cove. She took photos. She cheered people. She had a “caboose” of riders who went at it fang and claw, but who were always friends when the ride hostilities ended.
But that, apparently, is history. She’ll be missed.
Hell, she already is.
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