Loose shoes

February 9, 2018 § 6 Comments

When I was a kid the best way to pick music was by rifling through my brother’s album collection. Whatever he was listening to was cool. There was great risk associated with such rifling in the form of an ass-whupping, because of all the places little brother wasn’t allowed, no place was as off-limits as the record collection.

Still, I managed to learn a lot by sneaking into his room and listening to his music, and my biggest junior high discovery ever was Foghat. I’d curl up in his beanbag chair and listen to Night Shift, or maybe swap out Foghat Live and jam to the rock and roll in that big, empty house. I liked Foghat so much I took to carving “Fog” onto the various desks I rotated through in 7th Grade. If you didn’t know what that meant, I was pretty sure there was no need speaking to you.

I jammed on Foghat right up until 1980; I still remember the day. I was standing in a 7-11 at the counter, staring at the albums as I waited to check out. In those days 7-11 sold record albums, true necessities of life along with milk and cigarettes. That’s when I saw Foghat’s new album, “Tight Shoes.” My heart fell down into my socks. I could tell from that album cover that it was going to be a worthless record. What was worse, I knew that they’d never make any good albums again.


I don’t know how I knew, but I was right. “Tight Shoes” got zero airplay and I never heard so much as a single track. Foghat got muscled off the stage thanks to punk and New Wave, and I never heard of them again, and never thought of them again, until a few weeks ago when I started loosening the laces on my cycling shoes. It had occurred to me after reading up on the effect of “pushing down” versus “pulling up” on the pedals that since the pulling up thing was a complete myth, you probably didn’t have to tie your shoes too tightly to get the benefit of pushing down.

I compared notes with Surfer Dan, who confirmed that he never laced his shoes tightly, and so I have spent the last many weeks riding with my lace-ups barely laced. You can’t believe how comfortable it is to barely lace your shoes, and it makes zero difference to pedaling, speed, climbing, sprinting, or anything else. Loose shoes really bump up your foot quality of life, too, releasing pressure on toes and maybe even one day resulting in you not having ten black toenails.

After this great bit of experimentation, well, that’s when I thought of “Tight Shoes” and Foghat, and I wondered if I’d been harsh, abandoning my fave band because of a bad title and lousy album art. First I got on YouTube and listened to a couple of tracks from Night Shift. Yep, them fellers could rock and roll. I hadn’t been wrong about that.

Next I listened to a couple of tracks from “Tight Shoes.” Man, that music sucked. No wonder they fell off the edge of the earth. I thought about having wandered a bit down memory lane and realized, not for the first time, that it’s always rockier than you remember it.

But at least I wear my shoes loose now.



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About Cycling in the South Bay: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

Tom Petty wouldn’t, either

February 5, 2018 § 3 Comments

Chris Froome’s dope-em-up continues to whip the tifosi into an ever finer souffle, with silly pronouncements following ridiculous demands and culminating in today’s CyclingNews fanboy plea, “Froome should suspend himself for the good of the sport.”

I would like to direct your attention to a popular song written by the recently-departed Tom Petty: “I Won’t Back Down,” and imagine that it is being sung by “Puffer” Froome. Because he’s not backing down.

The gist of the CyclingNews fanboy piece is that Froome has a moral obligation to suspend himself for the good of the sport. Fanboy Whittle, author of this deep piece, urges Puffer to suspend himself so that he can be “on the right side of history,” presumably because 300 years from now when people are looking at the pivotal moments that decided the course of human events, all eyes will be turned on how Puffer behaved at this moment, like Sir Neville Chamberlain and “peace in our time,” or something like that. Heady stuff, that underpants-bicycling fake sport thing.

The Whittler concludes by making clear what the stakes are should Puffer not do the right thing: “If Froome competes and wins a Grand Tour only to be later sanctioned, then he and his team will forever be seen under the same dark cloud as those that came before them.”

Wow. I think if I were Chris Froome reading that I would dash out to the nearest UCI firing squad, pin myself against a wall, and take my medicine.

Just kidding, no I wouldn’t.

If I were Chris Froome I’d be doing what Chris Froome is already doing: Training like a MoFo and getting ready to win the Giro and his fifth Tour. “Being under the same dark cloud as those that came before them?” I think Fanboy Whittle means “doping,” and here’s why his entire argument is a floofy frumpum of whompynoddle.

Let’s start with rules and due process. Froome hasn’t suspended himself because he hasn’t committed a doping infraction, yet. Who set up the rules allowing Froome to use up to 1,000 mL of Salbutamol despite knowing that it is a proven doping agent, and has been used as such for over twenty years? Why, that would be the UCI.

Who set up the rules saying that testing positive for too much salbutamol didn’t require an automatic suspension? Why, that would be the UCI.

And now we’re supposed to believe that a guy who makes 4.5 million euros a year riding his bicycle is going to toss into the can the very protections created by the organizing body that is now going to have to give him due process? And his reason for that would be what, exactly?

Fanboy Whittle says it’s ethics and morals and the good of the sport and the stakeholders, a stinking smorgasbord of sweet-sounding piffle if ever there was one.

“Ethics and morals”? Most people would say that following rules put in place to give an athlete the chance to prove his innocence is both ethical and moral, and, as everyone knows but glosses over, legal as well. (Oh. Yeah. Right.) Froome may be guilty but he still gets to put on his case; stripping him of those rights or demanding that he forego them is the very antithesis of ethical and moral.

“The good of the sport”? What does that even mean? That Froome somehow sees cycling as a noble and divine endeavor whose integrity all good cyclists have a sworn duty to defend? The sport of professional European cycling has proven itself at every turn to be a mean, exploitative, drug-ridden, mafia-like cult that puts a few at the pinnacle, grinds up the rest and tosses them on the trash heap. Pro cycling was and is a doper shitshow, and even if there were something pure and beautiful about it, why would anyone expect Froome to know or care? He rides for Team Skye and David Brailsford. His job is to win races without getting busted, not to honor some silly ideal.

“The stakeholders”? Who in the world could this possibly be, except for the owners of the Giro and the Tour? These are the very two entities, especially the Tour, who have done so much to keep pro cycling a provincial, corrupt, balkanized fake-sport, preventing its growth, keeping the cost of entry out of reach, and ensuring that the racers are impoverished and desperate from year to year. Froome is supposed to care about them?

Whittle does make mention of the fans but wisely doesn’t go too far in their defense because everyone who follows pro cycling even casually and doesn’t know that the pro peloton dopes is an imbecile. Fanboy Whittle needs to reflect that he is writing thinly disguised ad copy for a sport where they just busted fourteen racers for EPO in a single race, more than a decade after the EPO era supposedly ended.

Consider his options: Give away a few million euros, lose the chance to race, and by sitting out admit to what everyone is saying anyway–that he’s a cheat. Or, stay in the game, collect a few more million euros, win the big races, run the risk that he’s retroactively stripped, and have people say what they are saying anyway–that he’s a cheat.

Contador faced this same choice and said “Thank you, I’ll take your money and my chances.” He lost the titles but kept the cash.

Froome will, too.



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About Cycling in the South Bay: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

Flu day, III

February 4, 2018 § 1 Comment

This flu, she makes you woozy, she’s a floozy, a knock-you-down-and-keep-you-there doozy …

I would never ever exaggerate but this is the closest I’ve ever come to watching my DNA uncoil.

“I’d have to get better/Before I could die,” go the old country-blues lyrics.

You want to know how bad this flu is? Near-death is nothing; it’s so bad I missed the FTR.

Back to bed.

(Handy Algorithm courtesy of Shawn from SD)

Oh, and there’s this, sent by my friends on FTR, who really missed me:

Flu day, II

February 3, 2018 § 4 Comments

Never been too sick to blog, wow …

Flu day

February 2, 2018 § 3 Comments

No blog appearing today due to flu …

Flat earth theory

January 11, 2018 Comments Off on Flat earth theory

My wife rides a road bike with flat pedals. It’s interesting to watch how people react to that. Rather, it’s interesting how reactions are so uniform.

“You need clipless pedals.”

“Why don’t you get some riding shoes?”

“You are losing so much power.”

“When are you going to ditch those flat pedals?”

“You’ll go so much faster with clip-in!”

And etc.

Most of the people who see fit to comment on her sad state of pedal affairs know that we are married and that I ride a bike a lot, so it’s kind of curious that they don’t run that through their filter, like this: “She’s got flat pedals, but she’s married to Seth so she probably knows about clip-in pedals, so there’s probably a reason …”

But no.

The reaction is uniform and knee-jerk: “Are you going to get clip-in pedals tomorrow? Or today?”

I wondered why people care which pedals she uses. The ostensible reason is that she will pedal more efficiently and therefore go faster. But that’s a bad explanation; the last thing that a new cyclist should do is go faster. New cyclists should go slower and learn to control the bike at lower speeds. Physics aren’t linear when you fall off your bike. Incremental increases of one or two mph result in much greater force when you fall off, and therefore greater injury. Telling beginners they need to go faster is like telling new drivers they need to go faster. Huh?

And from a psychological perspective, why would you want someone to go faster anyway? Doesn’t that mean they will beat you? You should want them on the worst equipment possible, in fact, eating nothing but peanut butter and ice cream five times a day.

The biggest reason people want you on clip-in pedals, I think, is because without clip-ins, you look like a Fred. This means two things: If you’re riding with me, and you’re a Fred, then I’m a Fred, too. Or it means that riding with you reminds me of when I was a Fred, and it’s a lot more comfortable to think I was born knowing how to drape myself coolly over a 100% carbon bike that is all carbon and made of pure carbon rather than to remember that, yeah, I used to not know anything, either, and I looked like it.

And of course in road cycling there’s the fashion element, where people instinctively shun those who are clearly unfashionable in an activity where the way you look is oh-so-important.

With regard to safety, everyone should start with flat pedals and most people should never leave them. On a road bike there are too many instances where taking your feet off the pedals will keep you from crashing. Anyone who thinks that you need clip-ins to climb well should have seen Josh Alverson or Stathis Sakellariadis shred the Donut Ride the times they rode it in sneakers.

And a bit of Internet reading confirms that the idea that clip-in pedals somehow yield huge improvements in pedaling power is not true. At best, the differences are negligible. Tellingly, the athlete in the power test confides that he still wants clip-ins because they help him when sprunting for peak power. Not sure that has any meaning at all for 99.999% of all people on bikes.

I’ve used both, but prefer clip-ins for a very particular reason.

And I’m not telling why. At least not today.



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Taste of Belgium

December 29, 2017 Comments Off on Taste of Belgium

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …


The year was 2012. The place was Carlsbad, California. The time was 8:00 AM and the idiots were over a hundred strong, each one lined up to attempt the first ever Belgian Waffle Ride. However hard we thought it was going to be, it was harder. I still remember flying off my bike and landing on my head as we tried to ride/clamber up a massive wall back onto the bike path.

Mostly what I remember about that BWR, though, is that it was the first of four such events that I dutifully lined up for, each beatdown being more awful than the one before it as the route lengthened, the quality of the field increased, the difficulty of the off-road sections intensified, and most importantly, as I got older, slower, more cautious, weaker, and more prone to quitting.

My 2015 Belgian Waffle Ride I swore would be my last, and not simply because I completed it on a loaner bike that weighed 30+ pounds which paradoxically resulted in my best finish ever. “Best finish ever” on the BWR is relative, of course. For me it didn’t mean “best time,” rather it meant “finishing without feeling like my head had been beneath one of those pavement tamping-down stamper machines for nine hours.”

I only fell once, didn’t get hurt, had no flats, and stayed hydrated and well nourished for the length of the ride.

Four full-length BWRs in a row, and I was done. I had nothing left to prove, or rather, the things I did have to prove were unproveable, at least out on that course, which wasn’t so much a ride with dirt roads but rather an endless number of dirt sections stitched together with brief segments of pavement.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but if that’s the case then why do former prisoners of war never long for a return to captivity? In my case, though, after a two-year hiatus and the implementation of a Baby BWR a/k/a the Belgian Wafer Ride, it started to sound like a good idea again.

What if I were to do the Baby BWR instead of the Full Grown Adult Hairy BWR? What if I were to do it on a full cyclocross bike with major knobbly tires and disc brakes? What if I were to do it without haste? Carefully? Not pushing myself to some absurd limit, but rather enjoying the day and its attendant festivities?

Because over the years the BWR has gone from being an invitation-only affair to one of the country’s signature rides, replete with great food, booths, entertainment, and a great vibe. Sticking my toe in the water, I went out a few months ago and did the Wafer course with some friends. It was perfect and rekindled my enthusiasm for my old flame. Better yet, it stimulated a kneejerk bicycle purchase, resulting in a new cyclocross bike.

This will be the 7th annual BWR, on the seventh route, covering approximately 137 miles with 44 miles of dirt, the most ever. The Wafer will be approximately 77 miles.

This year’s BWR promises to be bigger and more painful than ever, and thank dog the organizers have roped in Canyon Bicycles as lead sponsor and VeloFix as neutral support partner for both on-road and on-trail. A new Expo Festival format will be held Friday and Saturday (April 13-14) at the Canyon facility in Carlsbad, CA.

Whether you’re hell-bent on biting off the whole Waffle and trying to choke it down your throat, or looking to get a proportional beating on the Wafer, you’ll be among the lunatics who have over-committed themselves to the most unique cycling event in the country.

To top it all off, BWR progenitor Michael Marckx is coming to the South Bay on January 6 to ride with Joann Zwagerman’s legendary FDR group and to give South Bay riders a chance to talk with him about the ride, learn about its history, and (most importantly) get a rad sign-up discount. I’ll be there trying to get some course tips and intel. Michael will be there. Joann will be there. Hope you will be, too.

Ride leaves at 8:15 AM from Miramar Park in Redondo Beach.

Ride finishes around 10:00 AM at the Yellow Vase Ranch Market in Malaga Cove Plaza, post-ride refreshments provided! All riders who sign up after the ride will get a whopping $80 off the entry fee.

Visit the BWR website for more information and register today, before reality kicks in and you wonder what in the world you were thinking.

Additional Reasons to Waffle or Wafer

  • Fundraising opportunities for the Challenged Athletes Foundation with as an individual through our registration platform or through the CAF team. Join the CAF team and earn free reg!
  • Access to the BWR merchandise store to wear the best apparel on the road, designed and manufactured by JL Velo
  • Prizes and giveaways from sponsors and vendors
  • Complimentary race day breakfast, lunch (or maybe you’ll call it dinner, depending on when you finish), and Lost Abbey libations
  • Invitation to free BWR sponsored recon rides to explore the course
  • Finisher t-shirt and commemorative bottle of Lost Abbey “Bad-Ass Ale”

Course Specs

  • 137 Miles/222 Kilometers (Waffle), 77 Miles/124 Kilometers (Wafer)
  • 10 Categorized Climbs (including three category 2 climbs)
  • 12,000 Feet of Climbing (Waffle), 6,000 Feet of Climbing (Wafer)
  • 16 Dirt Sections totaling over 44 miles (long, sandy, wet, rocky, hilly, ugly)
  • 10 Water Crossings or Foot Bridge Crossings
  • 3 King/Queen of the Mountain Segments
  • 3 King/Queen of the Dirt Segments
  • 3 King/Queen of the Sprint Segments
  • 1 King/Queen of the Canyon Segment
  • 10 Feed Zones

Here is the link a movie that was created during last year’s event, if you want a flavor of what you’re in for! You can contact mmx@creativedisruption.info for additional info about the ride.




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