January 20, 2016 § 11 Comments
It’s that time of year. Oh, wait, no it isn’t.
That time of year is Spring, April 24, 2016 at 8:00 AM sharp.
What now is, is the time of year when you sign up for the Belgian Waffle Ride far enough in advance so that you think you’ll be ready for it. The good news is that you will be! The bad news is that you won’t.
This year’s edition, the fifth, features another leisurely spin through the gentle rolling hills and well-maintained road surfaces of North San Diego County. As in past years, the BWR will be pain-free, fun, easy to complete, and filled with happy conversation as you pedal long miles side-by-side with friends, catching up on family news and philosophizing about life, dark matter, and what’s really going on with Chinese stocks.
Of course there may be one or two riders with a different agenda, and who, rather than seeing the BWR as a casual LSD pedal, see instead a painful mix of dirt, tarmac, water, gravel, and rocky sections buffered on all sides by difficulty, epic challenges, and extremely tough riding conditions.
But what do they know?
Well, they may know this …
Although each BWR has been more monumental than the one before, the 2016 edition is the toughest yet. At 144 miles, it is the longest, has the most dirt sectors, and rarely traverses an intersections. The complexity of the course means that there’s something there for everyone, except those who really want to stop. For them, there will be six major and six minor aid stations, some of which will offer tequila or Belgian ale while still offering water, Coke, and event-sponsored beverages.
Some of the sections are so hard you’ll have to walk unless your name is Phil Tinstman or Neil Shirley. Some of the heroic dirt sections from past years such as Black Canyon, Canyon de Oro, and Lemontwistenberg will rear their ugly heads, but the new challenges of Lusardi and San Elijo also await. The rock garden of Lake Hodges has to be traversed in both directions this year, same as the Mule Trail. Perhaps the best feature is the Highland Valley beatdown, five miles of unvarnished climbing hell out to Ramona where you can contemplate forging ahead or calling it a day.
The only way you’ll find out, of course, is to do the dance and sign up for yet another year of full-gas pedalmashing. Better yet, if it’s your first time you can toe the line and discover what’s so fun about slamming a great waffle-egg-bacon-coffee breakfast, riding hard, competing against the best, capping off the ride with more good food and even better beer, then collapsing in a heap and hoping like hell you thought far enough in advance to arrange for a ride back home.
Registration is here: https://bitly.com/bwrreg2016.
Over the next few weeks I’ll put together a series of training plans tailored to the different needs of the various BWR participants. For now the simplest plan is also the hardest: Ride yer fuggin’ bike.
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January 18, 2016 § 10 Comments
The SCNCA board of trustees election is underway, and you can’t vote. Isn’t democracy great?
What you can do, however, is lobby. The way you lobby is this:
- Find out who on your USAC-registered club is the SCNCA “team representative.”
- Pester that fucker to vote.
- Pester that fucker to vote for the people you want to see on the board.
At some time in the future the SCNCA may allow direct elections, where the actual racers get a direct voice in the organization they fund. This will be about the time that you can buy unicorn farts out of vending machines. Until then, let’s lobby.
This election is an important one because the entire 9-person board is up for election. The candidates have all self-nominated and posted their statements here. Your team rep must vote by January 27, so please begin pestering him or her now. Below are my recommendations.
- Chris Black. He has raced, coached, promoted, and officiated. He’s a thorn in the ass of USAC but has the tools and the vision to improve SCNCA. Plus, ex-cop.
- David Huntsman. He has raced, is an expert in non-profit governance, is a lawyer, believes in transparency, and has played a huge role in getting the current board to resign, hire a lawyer, and hold new elections. He’s also a board member of OC Bike Coalition and has a kid who races.
- Omar Lozano. Omar has promoted some great races, has actual skin in the game, and is a crucial bridge between the mostly white SCNCA/USAC status quo and the massive potential pool of US/Mexico Hispanic bike racers. His Adrenaline GP events are super. Without the needs of promoters taken into account, there are no races.
- Armin Rahm. SCNCA and USAC critic. German bad-ass. Intelligent and has been around the SoCal racing scene forever. Incredibly accomplished athlete. Strong voice for riders and an articulate voice for what it is that riders want and need.
- Matt Wikstrom. Great bike racer. Smart dude. Makes his living in the arena of professional sports management and athlete agency. In other words, a highly accomplished amateur bike racer who works with the finances and mechanics of professional sports for a living. Could we use that at SCNCA? Uh, yes.
- Justin Williams. Young. Great bike racer. Respected voice for athletes and a fantastic bridge for the woefully underserved African-American community, which has huge numbers of recreational cyclists in LA who need to view bike racing as something that is available, welcoming, and a great opportunity for them.
- Dorothy Wong. Racer and promoter. She’s the single force behind the entire ‘cross calendar in SoCal. Incredibly accomplished, puts on an entire season’s worth of races, friendly, deadline-oriented, pro in every respect.
- Sean Wilson. Life-long racer, huge promoter of junior racers and junior racing. Junior team director and advocate who has pulled together numerous statewide events to try and build consensus for solutions that will increase junior racing and therefore secure the future of the sport.
- Jan Luke. Jan is committed to implementing the reforms that were begun when SCNCA hired an attorney, held an election to successfully revise its bylaws, and put the current election process in place. She’s running for a 1-year term and would be a good choice to see the reforms through.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn who to vote for, if not how to actually vote because YOU CAN’T DO THAT. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
January 16, 2016 § 24 Comments
Carmichael Training Systems, founded by exercise guru and former pro cyclist Chris Carmichael is looked up to worldwide for its ability to help people get the most out of their bodies. CTS recently published a fantastic list of six goals NOT to make this year, and since CTS has done the community a great favor by listing these six important “Thous shalt nots,” I thought I’d return it by giving them some goals for 2016. Chris & Co., you can PayPal me any amount you think appropriate.
- Expunge all Internet traces of Carmichael’s relationship with Lance Armstrong. Chris advertised for years as Armstrong’s coach and rode the syringe’s coattails all the way to success even though he was purportedly aware of Lance’s doping for decades. Fortunately, once Lance was revealed to be a cheater, a liar, and a fraudster, CTS has put more distance between Chris and his former protege than there are miles between here and the Crab Nebulae. However, inconvenient Internet links still exist that remind potential clients of Chris & Lance. For 2016, let’s get all those links deleted!
- Not dope any juniors against their will. Chris was sued by former juniors on the national team for allegedly force-injecting them with PED’s, leading to horrific injuries and side effects. Coach Carmichael is believed to have settled the allegations under a confidential agreement, so without admitting wrongdoing he was presumably able to pay off his victims without having this nasty chapter of cycling history attached to his Teflon brand. For 2016, let’s not dope juniors against their will!
- Sell another 50 containers of snake oil. CTS has mastered the art of selling people what they could get for free, i.e. bicycling fitness and health advice which anyone with a brain knows is this: 1) Ride more. 2) Do what you enjoy. 3) Decline the fourth trip down Ming Yang’s $4.99 All U Can Inhale Chinese Buffet.
- Double training camp reservations. The high point of any CTS sucker’s, er, member’s membership, is attending a training camp where you can dream of briefly rubbing shoulders with Chris or receive an extended jock-sniffing session with his old riding shorts. These camps are led by accomplished amateur and pro bike racers who think you are a fat, worthless pile of cattle crap even as they smile, wait for you on the clumb, eagerly paw at you for tips, and seethe at making $9.99 an hour while CTS is raking in all the cash.
- Expand the number of profamateurs who get full evaluations. Because you are a profamateur bike racer who may one day enter a Cat 5 race or get your Wanky Cat 2 upgrade after 25 years, it’s important to know your body composition. Whereas the typical Internet coach will just tell you, “Your body is composed mostly of water,” or simply “oxygen,” at CTS they will make you blow into a funny tube and pedal a bike that is stuck to the floor while trying to self-induce heart failure. They will take pictures you can post to show how much you suffered.
- Get more people to wade deeper into their cycling delusion. At CTS, after determining your body’s oxygen content (Hint: lots!), you can sign up for a life-changing experience that the rest of the world will regard as madness, i.e. sign up for a “tour” of sections of P-R, Flanders, etc. These will closely replicate the races themselves except that they will come with 4-star lodging, fine food, coach coddling, and lots of supportive emails to help you reach your personal best, even if that means riding 10k in rain along a cow path lined with pig poop.
But perhaps our biggest resolution for CTS is that it continues to succeed with its sports performance by ensuring that “CTS Athletes experience a 10% increase in sustainable power in the first 6 months of coaching.” If a 10% increase in power doesn’t translate into a happier, healthier life then nothing will!
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January 15, 2016 § 41 Comments
I went to a beer-and-biker event last night at Strand Brewing Co., where I was joined by some of my friends from Team Lizard Collectors. They drank beer while I ate tacos and gazed longingly at their frothy hops.
But before they arrived I got there early. I get places early usually. You can sometimes get in trouble arriving early, but pretty much always get in trouble coming late.
At one of the tables was my buddy Joel Elliott. That’s not his real name, so don’t Google “Joel Elliott, Strand Brewing Co.” because it’s just a pseudonym.
He was sitting at the table with his wife, his wife’s friend, and five little kids. The kids were all well behaved, quietly playing UNO, chewing with their mouths closed, and waiting until being spoken to before speaking.
I sat down and Joel introduced me to the kids as “Mr. Davidson.” You know how much kids like being introduced to “Mr.” anything? Kind of like they enjoy the phrases “time for bed” and “I’m telling your father when he gets home.”
But these kids were all well bred and made the briefest of eye contact before resuming their kid lives. I waited a couple of seconds. “All right, kids, listen up!” I said in my most authoritative voice. They all looked up.
“Now you don’t know me, but I’m a liar. The biggest liar you ever met. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been lying since the day I was born. I also have bad manners, chew with my mouth open, and like to spit.”
The littlest punkin gazed up. “How big a liar are you?” she asked.
“I’m a bigger liar than all the other liars in the world combined. I once told my principal, Mr. Smudgy Pigeonpants, that if he spanked me again my leg would fall off.”
“Smudgy Pigeonpants?” they cackled.
“Yes, and his assistant, Poopy Stinkyfeet, I lied to her too.”
“Poopy Stinkyfeet?” said one of the boys. “That’s not a real name.”
“Sure it is,” I said. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“YES!!” they all chimed in unison.
“If you’d called me a liar yesterday that would have been true, but after this morning I decided to quit lying and only tell the truth. I haven’t told a single lie today and don’t intend to.”
“But you just lied about that Stinkypants and Pigeonfeet stuff!” said one of the girls.
“Those lies didn’t count,” I said. “They were assistant lies.”
“What’s an assistant lie?” asked a boy.
“It’s a lie you tell to help you get to the truth. Now, then, go ahead and ask me anything and I swear on a stack of dead cricket abdomens that I’ll tell the truth.”
“What’s an abdomen?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s like a stomach except on a cockroach,” said one of the boys.
“How old are you?” asked the littlest girl.
“437,” I piously intoned.
“LIAR!!” they all yelled, bits of food falling onto the floor and a general mess of the card game being made. One of the boys spilled some cold water on my feet.
“Okay,” I said, “I was lying about that but I won’t lie anymore, I promise. I learned to stop lying in prison.”
“You’ve been to prison?” the biggest boy asked.
“Oh, sure. Everyone in my family has.”
“Are you lying again?” asked the other boy, who had become something of a skeptic in a rather short period of time.
“What were you in prison for?”
“Killing people,” I said. “Forty of them. All at once. With a spitball cannon to the big toe.”
“LIAR!” they all roared.
“Nope,” I said. “I’ve got the prison tattoo on my left arm to prove it. It says ‘Corcoran State Prison for Spitball Murder, #20182718101838540582Azidy283521.'”
“On your arm?” asked the skeptic.
“Show it to us.”
I was wearing a hoodie, a long sleeve sweater, and a long sleeve t-shirt. “Roll up my sleeve and see for yourself.”
They all pounced on my arm, knocking a taco off the table, smearing some salsa with the UNO cards, and making a general mess. They got the 12 sleeves of Christmas rolled halfway up. “There’s no tattoo!” shrieked the oldest girl, triumphantly.
“Sure there is,” I said. “It’s on the other arm.”
“LIAR!” they roared and attacked my other sleeve.
“There’s no tattoo here, either!” proclaimed the skeptic.
“You didn’t roll it up far enough,” I said.
They all turned to with great energy and violence, but there was only so far they could roll up the bundle of sleeves. Finally the littlest girl jammed her hand up the inside of my bicep. “I can’t feel any tattoo!”
“Oh, no!” I said. “Now you’ve got stinky hand!”
She sniffed her fingers. “Yuck!”
“That will never wash off,” I said, sadly.
“LIAR!” they all said.
“What’s your name?” I asked the biggest girl.
“Cassidy,” she said.
“That’s an incredible coincidence!” I shouted excitedly.
“What’s a coincidence?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s when a bunch of things happen wrong at the same time,” said the biggest boy.
“How come it’s a coincidence?” asked Cassidy.
“Because my daughter’s name is Cassidy, too!”
“LIAR!” they all shouted.
“No, really, this time I swear I’m telling the truth. Her name is Cassidy except we spell it with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i’ but we pronounce it the same.”
“I swear on a stack of old cockroach droppings that I’m telling the truth, really.”
“I extra promise!”
I looked at the littlest girl, who had wedged her way under my left arm and who was perched cozily against my hoodie while sitting on my leg. “You don’t think I’m lying, do you?”
She smiled sadly. “You’re a big liar but you’re a nice liar,” she said.
“If that’s your daughter’s name call her up and let us ask her what her name is!” said the skeptic.
“Call her up! Call her up! Call her up!” they all shouted.
“Well, okay,” I said. I slowly took out my phone and, hiding the screen, dialed my daughter on speakerphone.
“Hello?” she answered.
A cacophony of little kid voices screamed, “What’s your name?”
My 27-year-old daughter, who grew up with a rather odd father, wasn’t the least bit surprised to be receiving a phone call from what sounded like half a dozen screaming kids demanding to know her name.
“Cassady,” she said. “Who is this?”
Dead silence. The kids looked at me in awe.
“Thanks, honey,” I said into the speakerphone, and hung up.
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January 14, 2016 § 21 Comments
People get into cycling for different reasons, but what’s as interesting as the things that get people into it are the things that get them out of it. Have you ever noticed that there will be someone who’s “all in” for several years and then suddenly they just vanish?
Over the decades I’ve come up with some key markers for people who may not be sticking around.
- People who ride to race. Cyclists who get into cycling from the “sport” vector eventually burn out. No matter how good they are or how quickly they progress (and often because of it), they eventually realize that THIS is as good as they’re ever going to be, and from their vantage point that’s not good enough. For these people, if you’re not winning, you’re a sorry, worthless, rusted out Campy Nuovo Record derailleur spring.
- People who love equipment. Cyclists who are infatuated with the stuff and the clothes (incredible, I know, to be infatuated with clown suits) usually quit when they’ve bought everything there is to buy. Top of the line, of course. Closet full of Rapha, garage full of the sickest frames, a wheelset for every dining occasion, these collectors eventually get bored and turn their gaze and their checkbooks somewhere else.
- People who love “the group ride.” These riders are blown away when they discover the “wonderful cycling community” and make every ride, every function, every tryst. Then one day they realize we’re the same bunch of assholes they see at the office, only we’re wearing clown suits instead of Armani ones. Boom. Gone. See ya.
- People who are snobs. Snobs master everything and do everything at least once. They race, they cruise, they tour, they MTB, they ‘cross, and they have the sickest 1936 Schwinn Excelsior Motorbike, lovingly restored … the only common denominator is that they do it better than you. Then that moment arrives when they get out-snobbed and snap! There are suddenly three shit-tons of great deals on eBay.
- People who have The Big Crash. These riders happily pedal along, sometimes for years, thinking that catastrophic injury happens to other people. Then they get run over by a mobile coffee roaster and can’t walk right for sixty months. Significant Other points out insurance benefit limits, the downsides to unemployment, the relative safety of golf, and that’s all she wrote.
On the flip side, there are some people who never, ever stop cycling. They’re just as weird.
- People who love riding around. They don’t care on what or where or how fast or dressed in what. They may be faster than a midnight roach under the spotlight of the cracked fridge door, or slower than the apartment handyman when your fully loaded toilet blows up. Doesn’t matter. They just love to ride.
- People whose lives are a living fucking hell on earth. These people know that the only escape from hell is on a bicycle. They do triple centuries, double Iron-Persons, and RAAM. You can have their bike when you pry their cold, dead testicles (or labia) from off the saddle.
- Drunks. Drunks love bikes. It’s pretty darned simple. No one knows why.
- People who are super cheap. Nothing is cheaper than biking except walking and being dead. When done properly, riding actually puts money in your bank account. (We’re still working out the details of this and will let you know when it’s perfected.)
- People who never grow up. Sound familiar? I knew it would.
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January 12, 2016 § 27 Comments
A couple of days ago I took a cheap shot at Zwift, the online gaming-cartoon subscription service that lets you fabricate a simulated bike race while you are grinding away precious seconds of your life on an indoor trainer.
I was immediately admonished by a couple of readers whose criticisms I would have completely ignored had they not possessed the high and holy status of paid subscribers. The gist of their criticism was, “STFU you cupcake SoCal poseur who calls three rainy days ‘winter.’ I’m stuck in Fang, Alaska, where the average daily high is minus forty and the sun doesn’t come out until June.”
Pretty solid counterpunch, actually.
The other criticism was, “Hey, I like Zwift and its imaginary fantasyland, so STFU. Next thing I know you’ll be criticizing my taste in underwear or my favorite flavor of ice cream.”
So in order to preserve that precious $5.96 per month ($5.20 after PayPal takes its processing fee cut), I’ve had to nuance my stance on Zwift and its ilk.
Rather than calling it a completely inane waste of time and money and a refuge for mentally confused, let me offer some alternatives. It’s true that there aren’t many days when I can’t ride because of weather, but my indoor trainer palmares aren’t insignificant.
Remember the original Turbo Trainer? I had one of those in 1984 and regularly rode it indoors for 2-3 hours. My all time record was four hours, and that was without a TV, radio, iPad, or Zwift. And yes, I lost many brain cells that day.
Over the course of the last seven-and-a-half weeks as I’ve recovered from my fractured nutsack, I have done at least a dozen indoor sessions on a Lemond trainer and on gym bikes. With one or two exceptions, all the sessions have been for two hours or longer. Although I lack the motivation of my youth to do mondo multi-hour sessions for the pointlessness of “fitness,” I can offer some pointers for those forced to ride inside.
- Don’t check a clock or a watch. No truer adage was ever spoken than “A watched pot is slow to boil,” except perhaps “Timing your indoor session is the definition of infinity.” Anything with a time display is death.
- Don’t do work outs. Yep, that’s right. Don’t do all those silly sprints and jumps and faux climbs and other crap. Start with an easy warm-up, and after a while move into a steady pace. Shift around when your butt gets sore, but keep your effort constant. The session goes more quickly that way.
- Make your head work. Don’t watch TV or videos or listen to music; put on headphones and listen to language tapes. Don’t treat your workout as a workout, treat it as study time that you happen to be doing on your trainer. If you really do have to ride indoor all winter, two hours of language study every day will have you speaking Farsi by spring. And whereas your fitness will soon fade, you’ll be able to say, “Excuse me good sir, how much for your daughter?” for the rest of your life.
There. That’s all I know. I hope it helps.
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January 9, 2016 § 17 Comments
I got the pre-ride queasies, and I never get the pre-ride queasies.
Seven weeks ago tomorrow I was hurrying to the Donut Ride, all fit and feeling great and shit, and I fell off my bicycle and fractured my hipbone, which is connected to my nutsackbone, which fuggin’ hurts when you mash it between the pavement and the steel rails on your saddle.
Now, though, I’m 100% healed up minus about forty percent, but it’s the forty percent that doesn’t matter so I’m headed off tomorrow for the Donut Ride to fulfill my date with destiny. Only thing is, chances are good that it will be a real loser of a date, where the other person is missing a lip, has a death’s head tattoo and a pierced tongue, and is dragging a duffel bag filled with shrunken heads and dynamite.
Usually I love going to the Donut but tomorrow I’m scared. Ever since I fell off my bicycle I have been scared. Scared of falling off again and re-breaking the crack that isn’t healed. Scared of falling off and whacking my head. Scared of getting smacked by a car.
But worse than all that is my fear of droppage. Usually on the Donut I get dropped but not until a bunch of other people have been carved up into bite-sized pieces and fed to the Destroyer or Surfer Traitor or Smasher Traitor or the G-Money or the Strava, Jr. or the Jules or the Frenchy or the Pony Girl.
Tomorrow though I’m going to be the chum. That’s how it is when you have more excuses than training miles. Here’s how it will go:
- Man, this hurts but I’m near the front.
- Man, this is awful but I’m not too far from the front.
- Man, I can’t stand this anymore I hope someone closes that gap.
- Man, I hope I can hang onto this fourth chase group.
- Man, I hate riding alone.
- I wonder if I beat that little kid who started with us on a mountain bike?
Yeah, it’s gonna suck and when I heard that Manzella and his West Side wrecking crew are coming I knew it was going to suck times a thousand. If you don’t know Tony, he is a very nice fellow.
Except he’s an absolute bastard the way he grinds you up into pulp and is then nice to you afterwards. It would feel better if he’d spit and curse a little bit but I’ve never even heard him say “fuck.” I don’t think he knows any dirty words and dog knows I’ve tried to teach him.
I also hope he doesn’t bring that other nice bastard Michael Smith. He is a wheelsucking bastard until he stops wheelsucking and rides away from you and then congratulates you at the top even though he weighs 250-lbs. and you’ve been dieting your way down to 135, that bastard.
The best policy tomorrow would be to stay home and ride the trainer and do Zwift. Do you know Zwift? A buddy in Japan sent me a link to it. It is the apotheosis of stupid. You get on your trainer and pretend you are racing people on a video screen.
I can pretend a lot of shit. I can pretend I’m president of the galaxy or that I’m fucking a movie star, for example. But I can’t pretend I’m racing an animated character on a screen. Oh, and I forgot to mention that on Zwift you pay money to race the fake cartoon characters.Why not just pay your wife to get on a trainer next to you and race her? Afterwards if you let her win you might at least get laid.
Like, I know bicycle people are maroons, but are they so stupid that they can pretend they’re racing Tom and Jerry? I guess the answer is “yes.” And please don’t send me some whiny-ass email about how it’s snowing in Bismarck or some shit. Put on another layer and go ride, you big pansy.
But back to the Donut, where I’m gonna get smeared. It’s going to be humiliating. How humiliating? There’s a 1-in-10 chance that I will get beat by Prez. All these wankers are going to blow by me and some of them will probably pat me on the back and say “Good job!” which in cycling means “Fuck you, loser.” Usually they just snarl at me, which in cycling means “You are awesome, dude.”
Prez has never beaten me on a climb because he is so fucking slow. One time I did the Donut after a lung transplant and I still beat his ass up the Switchbacks. That dude climbs slower than a vine in winter. But tomorrow he might whip my ass. You know how that’s going to hurt? I can see it now. “Wanky passed by Prez, who pats him on the back and says ‘Good job!'”
They say you have to get back on the horse but why, especially if the horse is nasty and has kicked your head in already? Can’t you just poison the sonofabitch, or shoot him?
Anyway I better go to bed but not before I have some milk and pie to calm my nerves.
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