Numbers game

July 31, 2016 § 30 Comments

Numbers matter. In this case, the number of people who were willing to show up in force to advocate for bike safety mattered.

Two days after the Palos Verdes Estates city council voted to plant signs that say “3 Feet–It’s the Law,” we were blown away to see six of these beauties in place along Palos Verdes Drive South, including a giant yellow sign as you enter the feared chute that brings you into the city.

The signs that read “All Cyclists Will Be Killed On Sight” (except for one that they apparently missed) were taken down and donated to the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, where they will be laid cross-hatch to build a fort in mom’s backyard as the “boys” fire pea-shooters at passing cyclists and wave their angry “No Gurls Loud” sign from their treehouse.

You want to know what victory looks like? It looks like this:

You want to know what democracy looks like? It looks like this:


And do you want to know what good government is called? It’s called Jennifer King, James Vandever, Betty Lin, Jon Rea, James Goodhart, Ronald Buss, Frank Adams, Dave King, Clark Margolf, and Kevin McCarthy.

Of course the cost of these signs has been horrific. Jonathan Tansavadti, John Bacon, as well as a third cyclist killed on the Hill this year were the human sacrifices that it took to finally get some very cheap, basic signage installed that educates cagers about their legal obligation to vulnerable road users. For the families of the three victims, no signage and no progress will diminish their loss. “Sorry your husband/father/son was killed. Here’s a sign” probably doesn’t make it all better now.

And unsurprisingly, there are residents in PVE who have taken to social media to register their outrage that the city has actually put up signs that state the law. Where is the cheering for these steps that educate, that state the law, and that improve the safe use of public roads for everyone, not just the NIMBYs who live there? Hint: Not here.

This small victory does, however, raise the next key points, which are:

  1. These signs are only the beginning.
  2. We’re in for a long, multi-year haul.
  3. This small victory happened because several hundred cyclists took democracy into their own hands.

The PV Peninsula is a cycling destination and has been for decades. The municipalities within its borders have a duty to begin putting together and then implementing a bike safety plan, and they are doing so. But the details of those plans will be fiercely disputed and fought hammer and tong by people like the PVE realtor who said for cyclists who break traffic laws, death is an appropriate “Darwinian” consequence. In order for the small step that PVE has taken to result in BMUFL signage and sharrows, every person who has been involved has to recommit.

That’s a huge ask because the meetings can be long and contentious. Not everyone can devote 10 hours a month to participatory democracy. But the benefit to belonging to a cycling community that is thousands strong is that we don’t need every advocate present every time. We just need to make use of the powerful and dedicated pool that already exists, and make sure that when BMUFL signage, sharrows, and the bike safety plans are being discussed by traffic safety committees and the city council, we are there in force.

None of this would have happened without the leadership of Michael Barraclough, Big Orange, and the people–too numerous to name–who have refused to sit idly by while good people are killed by the laziness and stupidity of a fringe minority of NIMBY residents who want to defy the law. None of it would have happened without responsive and responsible volunteer city politicians and their paid staff who believe that lives really do matter and that public roads really are public.

Time to take a breath, appreciate the progress, and settle in for the long haul. See you soon.



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My correction elf

July 29, 2016 § 26 Comments

The quickest way to find out you’re wrong is to post your imaginary fact on the Internet. Being wrong in public is no fun, especially when you’re a) stubborn b) always convinced you’re right c) impervious to change.

For example, there was the time that Gary C. advised me that in general the pluralization of acronyms didn’t require an apostrophe, e.g. “KOMs” not “KOM’s.” I battled this losing fight pretty hard, up to and including a forced reading of one of Gary’s academic treatises. Nonetheless, faced with facts, convention, rules, and examples, I proceeded to apostrophize my acronyms out of sheer spite.

Then one day, when I hoped no one was noticing, I gently took the sweet little apostrophe out behind the apartment building, the little apostrophe who had stayed with me through thick and then, ever ready to lead the charge (or rather, trail it) in the cause of plural acronyms, and shot it. After that, they became proper KOMs.

The act of writing something every day, or almost every day, is nothing more than the practice of error, a practice refined until eventually my two regular readers either stop looking for mistakes or they throw up their hands, hopelessly, and accept that granite will never absorb water.

One reader, however, has refused to give up the fight. He’s not one of those people who happily subscribes and then gets angry when I make fun of his cat or misspell “mispell” and sends me a nasty cancellation notice. He’s not one of those people who gloats in the detection of error. Instead, he carefully reads each post and when the inevitable errors occur, he gently emails me with the correction.

Here is a sampling of his messages:

Last Line: dead elephants, >>T<<here will be a next

Cheers, Eric

Or this one:

In Volt Dolt: She loves anything made by Toyota or Sony. But me, I’m a red-blooded American and I’m ready for a Chevy even though all I’ve ever>>y<< owned are Toyotas.

Cheers, Eric

And even a bit of analysis:

Salmon or slalom? “In the past, riders have been clocked head-on by oncoming cars as they salmon…”

I am pretty sure you meant salmon as in swimming upstream against the current of traffic, but I wasn’t entirely sure they weren’t slaloming through traffic, which seems also probable as seen in this Alley Cat illegal race in NYC

Cheers, Eric

Although I try hard to minimize typos and mistakes, even to the extent that I occasionally read what I write before hitting the “Publish” button, a writer who proofs his own work has a fool for an author and a fool for an editor. Can’t beat having your own correction elf, and since I don’t know Eric, my only question is where to PayPal my subscription for his awesome editing services?


Wankmeister cycling clinic #30: Descending clinic

July 28, 2016 § 6 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

My biggest goal starting Jan. 1, 2016 was to be a better decenter. But I still decent like crap. Some people on my club, Rawr-Rawr Roadies, tell me to lift my butt higher off the seat to decent better but that seems to wobble. Other people tell me to put my butt lower on the top bar but that hurts my balls and is more wobbly. Then I watched some videos with Sagan and Froome doing the top bar + peddle action. Is that my decent solution?


Dear Eddie:

I see lots of idiots like you going downhill, a/k/a “descending,” with their asses up off the saddle, stuck high in the air like they’re trying to pick up a TV transmission or air out their peg-hole. Don’t do that. The way gravity works, when you stick a bunch of mass up high over a tiny bike, the two get separated really easily. So put your ass on the saddle where it belongs.

I see lots of other idiots doing the Sagz and Froome tuck. That is marginally okay when you weigh 48 pounds, you race for a living, and you can wheelie across the line after a stage in the Tour after throwing down an 1,800-watt sprint. But when you are a 245-pound Heffalump who couldn’t ride in a straight line when hitched to a rope, wedging your massive ass in between the saddle and the stem in order to get into a top tube crouch will:

  1. Shatter your carbon frame.
  2. Crash out anyone behind you.
  3. Get 12 billion YouTube hits.

So it’s a tough decision. Choose wisely.


Dear Wankmeister:

I often get beat on long climbs even though I’m a really good climber. I’ll be going good and then *pop* I’m done and everyone rides away. What’s the deal? Is it my gearing?


Dear Freddie:

No, it’s not your gearing. Or your cadence or even your power. There is a point in every climb where it is simply no longer efficient to pedal, and you can go faster on foot.


Next time you start to feel like you’re going to blow and come off the wheel, jump off your bike, hand it to your team mechanic or girlfriend and jog along behind the leaders. Pretty soon your heart rate will come down, the lactic acid will drain out of your epithelial scaphoids, and after a couple of minutes you’ll be able to get back on your bike and pedal away.

Working smarter not harder,

Dear Wankmeister:

I saw this picture and I’m in love. How do I get to look like this?

Danny Diet

Dear Danny:

Truth be told, it’s not that hard. I think if you put your mind to it you can get there in a couple of weeks; 20 pounds sounds like a lot but in reality it’s not. With some self discipline and the help of a nutritionist to make sure you’re getting all the right stuff, you can look like this quickly and not notice any big changes other than the fact that your clothes won’t fit like they used to — but that’s why we have department stores. If you turn it into a fun family or workplace challenge you’ll be there before you know it and you will feel 100% better about yourself. Watch your body image skyrocket; trust me, I’ve been there. Living in an unhealthy, ugly, and socially abnormal body isn’t good for your life in general, to heck with bike racing.

You’re talking about the photo on the right, correct?




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One for the hardasses

July 27, 2016 § 24 Comments

The best way to attend a city council meeting, it turns out, is by doing a full-gas, 60-minute training crit immediately prior. That way your legs will be shattered and you will be grateful for the chance to sit, no matter how many hours it takes.

In the case of last night’s Palos Verdes Estates city council meeting, whereat we had gathered to support bike signage and oppose the naysayers who think that death is a reasonable “Darwinistic” penalty for cyclists who fail to follow all traffic laws, the main thing we had to do was sit.

And sit we did.

We sat through the Citizen’s Academy award ceremony. We sat through the cupcake-and-Snapple social which followed, well, we didn’t “sit” so much as we rushed the snacks and behaved as only cyclists do when presented free sugary food. We sat through the presentation on the attack on the water supply. We sat through the discussion of the Helicopter Noise Safety Committee. Most astonishingly and butt-painfully, we sat through the discussion of the dead elephant in the park retaining wall and turnaround with $70,000 engineering study for fire safety that the battalion chief said wasn’t needed and the $100,000 county grant and the $400,000 hot tub and the hammerheads.

By the time the council got to Item No. 7 it was almost 10:00 PM and the standing-room-only crowd had thinned to the hardy, relentless, grizzled, ass-toughened cyclist contingent for whom three hours seated on a plank was barely even a warm-up.

The council stared in horror at the 23 speaker cards piled in front of them, because with a 3-minute allotment for each speaker it meant that no one would get home before midnight. That’s when Delia Park proposed that, out of pity and mercy for unpaid city council, rather than subject them to 109 minutes of “I been bikin’ since … and as far as bikes is concerned I think … and iff’n you ast me … ” we would simply appoint Bearclaw to get up and speak for all of us.

I thought the mayor and a couple of the council members were going to cry out of gratitude, and even though they gave Bearclaw an extra two minutes to speak he wrapped the whole thing up nice as you please and the council voted:

  1. To pull down and throw away the evil and distasteful “Bike Laws Strictly Enforced” signs.
  2. To put up the beautiful and majestic “3 Feet It’s the Law” signs.
  3. To send the “Bikes May Use the Fuggin Lane” signs back to committee for further study.

I staggered out and pedaled home, immensely grateful to the city council and to each one of these people for showing up and democracying:

  • Lane Reid
  • Ivan Fernandez
  • Bob Spalding
  • Joey Cooney
  • Patrick Noll
  • Yasuko Davidson
  • Seth Davidson
  • Craig Eggers
  • Joann Zwagermann
  • Brent Davis
  • Greg Seyranian
  • Tom Duong
  • Pete Richardson
  • Don Wolfe
  • Greg Leibert
  • Delia Park
  • Gigi Kramer
  • David Kramer
  • Kristie Fox
  • Wendy Watson
  • Chris Gregory
  • Francis Hardiman
  • Bruce Steele
  • Michael Barraclough
  • Kathryn Kempton
  • Geoffrey Loui
  • George Sefler
  • Gerard Melling

If you’re bummed that you didn’t get to spend from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM seated on a church pew hearing about hot tubs and dead elephants, there will be a next time, and it will be soon!



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Private theft of public property

July 26, 2016 § 27 Comments

I just got back from a three-hour meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes traffic safety committee, where a group of resident numbnuts had thrown together a petition demanding that the city illegally ban cyclists from “their” .7-mile of roadway, and require “permitting” for group rides.

There was so much stupid to wade through that it’s impossible to sum it all up, so I’m just posting my meeting notes.

  • Massive thank you to chair Jessica Vlaco, vice-chair Dave Kramer, and committee members Yi Hwa Kim, Henry Ott, and James Guerin. These people truly define community service and government by the people.
  • Vice-chair Kramer (to city staff): Is it legal to ban bikes from a public roadway? City staff: No. [You’d think that would be the end of it, but noooooo … ]
  • Local Moron #1: It’s dangerous to share the road so we should ban bikes!
  • Local Moron #2: There are many collisions on Crest Rd. East!! [Sheriff Department has records for ZERO collisions there in the last five years.]
  • Local Moron #3: Bikers have to ride so close to the edge of the road which is too narrow and dangerous!!
  • Local Moron #4: All 76 homes in our gated sub-sub-subdivision of Rancho Palos Verdes Estates suffer from hazardous conditions caused by bicycles! There are no other roads up here! They train on weekends! They are hazardous for all! There’s no space! Cars can’t pass but motorists must pass! I almost hit one! There are numerous accidents here! Residents are held responsible for accidents! My friend’s nanny who is on vacation with the family now in Africa and can’t come was in a collision with a biker! The bike struck her car and it was the biker’s fault but he SUED HER!!! [Cf. sheriff’s records of no reported collisions.]
  • Local Moron #5: This is a huge safety issue. I almost hit a cyclist!
  • Local Moron #6: Each resident in our sub-sub-subdivision has at least two vehicles, not to mention our housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, and service worker people. Cyclists endanger all of us!
  • Local Moron #7: There are cyclists who are not polite! They should hurry up!
  • Local Moron #8: I spent an additional half hour getting home because I was stuck behind a peloton! Bikers are like people whose dogs crap on your lawn!
  • Local Moron #9: I’m concerned about safety! Cars are big! It’s a blind corner!
  • Local Moron #10: I’ve lived here 34 years. There have been 5 accidents! It’s out of control!
  • Local Moron #11: I asked the guards to count bikers one weekend! There were 158!
  • Local Moron #12: Some cyclists almost hit me! These are blind turns! There are no bikes on freeways! Public safety requires banning bikes! Many bikes ride four abreast every day it’s why we’re frustrated! City liability! This is an unsafe situation!
  • Local Moron #13: My son almost failed his driver license test because he drove too slowly! And all those Orange outfit riders from Orange County on the Donut Run!

After being subjected to a perfect vacuum of fact and rational thought, the cyclists had their say. Mostly we were amazed at all the hatred, especially since we are the ones getting creamed and killed, not the angry NIMBYs in the sub-sub-subdivision with Palos Verdes Estates envy.

And of course the bikers made out with a few actual facts, such as:

  • Banning bikes is illegal.
  • There are no records of collisions along this deadly stretch of turrble deadly roadway.
  • The law lets bikes take the full lane when it’s too narrow to share with a cager.
  • You can fix this non-problem with sharrows, Bikes May Use the Fuggin’ Lane signage, 3-Feet It’s the Law signage, and citations for scofflaw motorists and cyclists.
  • Anecdotal “deadly cyclist” stuff is crap; if you want to understand the roadway’s safety issues, commission an engineering study.
  • If you’re so concerned about our safety, how come you never reached out to us?
  • We’re not responsible for other riders, just like you’re not responsible for irresponsible cagers.
  • And the best, by far, was Michael B.’s takedown: You people are so dumb and lazy that you didn’t even bother to check the law before you signed a petition demanding that the city violate it. Also, there’s a solution to pesky cyclists and it’s codified: Slow the fugg down.
  • The real issue is out of control cars: 33 drivers have been cited for unsafe driving and not a single cyclist.
  • Lumping all cyclists together is offensive and no different from lumping together people of an ethnic group.
  • Best of all was Dave Kramer’s impassioned speech regarding law and the obligation of drivers to slow down and pass safely. The committee then voted to examine sharrows, BMUFL signage, lower speed limits, and an engineering study as ways to make the scaredy sub-sub-subdivision residents and their nannies feel safer.

Finally, one of the last local morons admitted that what they really wanted to do was to make the public road private and they intended to petition the state to give them the road. Such an amaze-balls power grab was great to see, because it proved what the angry invective suggested all along: The sub-sub-subdivision residents really just wanted to steal public land, perhaps in the hope that the extra square footage would make them feel better about not living in Palos Verdes Estates.

Best of all, putting the total lie to their claim that they were in it for “bicycle safety,” all of the resident maroons left after they’d vented and didn’t stick around for the real item on the agenda, which was approval of a work plan that included development of a bike safety master plan for the entire city. The minute it came to hard work, or cooperation, or understanding the other person’s point of view, or, you know, actual bike safety, they were long gone and venting on Facebag and NextDoor.

Frankly, their departure was awesome because a big contingent of bikers stuck around and requested that a subcommittee be developed for the bike safety master plan that included the voice of local cyclists.

Huge thanks to every cyclist who showed up. Barraclough, Leibert, Duong, Landes, Zwagermann, Cooper, Cooney, Loui, Kempton, Park, Richardson, White, Meyer, Phillips, Robertson, and about half a dozen other names that escape me made the marathon session and spoke up when it counted.



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Anatomy of a donut

July 24, 2016 § 23 Comments

I’m a regular on the Donut Ride but hardly very good at it. Eventually the pace picks up and I get shelled. However it occurred to me that there are dozens and dozens of riders who have never even seen the front on the climb, much less struggled for a top-five placing.

So armed with a hand-me-down GoPro from Robert Efthimos, I shot yesterday’s ride so that everyone who’s only imagined what it’s like can see what they haven’t been missing.

Yesterday’s Donut Ride was small, probably 40 or 50 riders. Eighty or more aren’t uncommon. Small groups make it harder because there are fewer places to hide. A number of big progatonists were absent, but the presence of Diego Binatena (pro), Rudy Napolitano (ex-pro), and Dan Cobley (coulda been pro) meant that it would be plenty hard.

People actually get dropped on the first climb out of Malaga Cove, then a few more when we make the run through Lunada Bay. Below is a shot of Lane Reid, pushing the pace. Lane has more KOMs on Strava than pretty much anyone in the South Bay, but he always gets shelled early, which goes to show that being a champion on Strava and beating actual people are two wholly different endeavors. He’s plenty strong, though, but is displaying a key mistake of Donut Ride shellees: Spending energy early. It took me years to learn that every pedal stroke early in the ride will come back to haunt you when the ride tilts up.

He’s got forty riders strung out on his wheel. This is definitely a glory pull, because he’s going to get obliterated.

Now we’ve pedaled for a ways and are approaching the turn up the Switchbacks, the first climb of the day after several miles of undulating rollers that have taken the pop out your popper. In front are all the key players: Rudy, Diego, Dave Jaeger, Dan, and Garrett Bailey. Here’s another place that people make the big mistake of being too far back. The pace will increase on the Switchbacks and people will blow up, forcing you to close gaps.

Only a couple of such efforts and even though you’re with the leaders you will be in the red and unable to respond to their accelerations. I always tell people to pick a good wheel and follow it all the way to the bottom of the Switchbacks. Positioning isn’t that hard as there are lots of flailers, but if you’re inattentive you’ll be too far back at exactly the wrong time.

Here, I roll ahead of the group and actually lead out the climb. This is always unwise, but I’m just keeping momentum, not pushing the pedals. No matter how good you feel at the bottom, you will feel worse towards the top, so no matter how slow you have to go to get other riders to pass you, do so. Some people like to take a quick glance back here but I never do because it’s guaranteed that the hitters are still there and they are NOT pedaling hard. I roll for a little along the fog line giving the next rider plenty of room to come through.

In this case it’s Garrett Bailey, a super strong rider who doesn’t do the Donut often. He typically rides with the Dave Jaeger Morning Crew, but for some reason has decided to come do the Donut today. He’s a fantastic wheel for me. He’s about my height, about my size, and is a former Olympic rower from Georgetown, so he has a mighty engine. Part of surviving on the Donut when you are old and feeble as I am is to pick the right wheel.

Garrett is also a good wheel because he holds a perfectly straight line and when he blows he easily swings over; no crazy death wobbles or scary head-droops. He’s like a mule, steady and strong and I love his draft because I know he’ll never attack from the front, a move that always breaks my confidence.

Garrett has tired, or perhaps he’s realized that everyone is keyed on his wheel and it would be wiser to save energy. In any case, there’s a mini-swarm as all of the hitters push by. I haven’t looked back but there can’t be many riders left. Garret has kept the tempo pretty high so you know that anyone who was too far back is now done for the day. The mini-swarm provokes anxiety because the hitters are accelerating but they haven’t attacked yet. Here’s where you will regret having glory-pulled before the climb.

This is also a good point to take stock of who’s there because it’s essentially how your epitaph is going to be written. With Diego you know he will attack and drop you. With Rudy you know he will attack and probably drop you. If not he will sit up, attack again and certainly drop you. Cobley is a question mark. Sometimes he gives up and is nowhere to be seen, so even though he doesn’t have a super fast attack, which means you can sometimes latch on when he chases, you can’t always count on him to drag you back up to the leaders.

Jaeger has little acceleration on a climb, so he won’t go with the big attacks. But he has a massive motor and a high top end so if you plan on sitting on his wheel you need to be super tiny and be able to endure endless misery. He is relentless. You can also see that in a matter of minutes the entire group has been whittled down to six riders and no one has even attacked yet. Dave is now at the front and it’s punishing. Diego is queued up behind him and I’m on Diego’s wheel. This is problematic because Diego can easily attack from the front and Rudy, who’s behind me, can easily follow. The only thing I can easily do at this point is quit.

This next section is funny because even though he’s not the strongest rider, DJ hits the front hard and really pushes the pace. He is probably trying to get rid of me and Garrett, and maybe he’s testing Cobley to see if Dan is “on” or “off.” In any event, after an effort like that so early in the climb I would have been completely done for the day. Another difference between me and Dave … one of many …

Unexpectedly, Dan now attacks. No one responds in the first few seconds and he races away. For me it’s a no-brainer. Chasing will mean droppage, and it’s unlikely I can go with Diego or Rudy, the only two guys strong enough to chase him down. So I have to wait and see what my fate will be, like a lobster in a tank trying to figure out whether the customer has chosen me or my buddy.

These attacks don’t look like much, but in real life they happen more quickly than lightning. You’re already totally on the rivet, and a speed differential of even a couple of pedal strokes feels like the difference between strolling and running a 100m dash against Usain Bolt. Everyone struggles here, and the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that no matter how fit Dan is, he’s going to ease off soon. “Soon” being a relative term, unfortunately.

As expected, Diego counters and this isn’t one I can even think about following. It’s also disheartening. I know I’m pegged. I know that he’s light years better than I am. And he waltzes away with what seems like effortlessness. My momentum keeps me going, though, and suddenly I’m out ahead of the others; Diego’s acceleration has splintered the group.

This is utter hell because now I’m off a wheel. I’m not strong enough to ride by myself and mentally I’m too weak to push on and try to cover Diego. So I have to wait and play lobster again. Unfortunately the others are way back now, so I calculate that in a few seconds Rudy will come rocketing by (uncatchable) and then Dan/DJ/Garrett. My only hope is to soft pedal until they catch me and suck wheel some more. We’re not even halfway up the climb.

In a few seconds Rudy punches through and bridges to Diego. This is unthinkable and demoralizing. I watch them turn into pinpoints. My breath is pretty heavy about now.

About now is when you have to have a mental trick box. These are the tricks you use to fake your body into doing what it wouldn’t otherwise do. All your adrenaline has subsided and there’s nothing left but lactic acid and searing pain. “Why am I doing this?” “This is stupid.” “I’m too old,” etc.

Sure enough Garrett comes by and I latch on. My mental trick is simple. I call it “One equals ten.” This means I tell myself that for every pedal stroke I can hang on, the fuckers chasing have to do ten. It may not be true, but it works for me.

Garrett is steady and strong and although I don’t exactly get any recovery, my heart rate drops a couple of beats so that I can at least hear myself crying and convince myself that the worst is past even though I know that it’s really only just getting started.

Cobley is intent on catching Rudy and comes through hard, then attacks from the front. Diego has pulled over somewhere and is no longer in the picture, and Dan knows how demoralizing it is to attack someone from the front. He’s also under a little pressure here because he’s riding with the Depends contingent. Cobley is 35, DJ is 55, and Garrett is in his 40’s. I’m 52, so there’s no honor for Dan in smacking around a gang of geezers. He can’t just beat us, he has to leave us in tatters.

This is his second monster effort and I can’t imagine how he can do another one, which is okay because after towing us around like a ski boat hauling an inner tube we’re going to hit the wall on Crest and I won’t have to imagine how he’s going to conjure up another attack because he’s going show me.

A lot of the time I will see people pull this move on the wall and I’ve done it a zillion times myself. It almost always fails because it takes so much effort to go fast enough to drop your companions that when it flattens out you have to slow down and catch your breath. The droppees, however, not having gone completely into the red, peg you back and then with a slight counter they can dust you off. So 99% of the time it’s a bad move to attack hard here, unless of course you’re Dan, in which case you can punch it and then keep the gas on while the droppees wonder who switched out the lights.

I’ve run out of ways to describe pain by now, but we all stood up and nothing happened. In a little bit Dan had bridged to Rudy and we were fighting for old man scraps. I don’t have a lot of options here. I’m not strong enough to attack Garret and I’m sure as hell not strong enough to attack Dave, so I cast about for another wheel to suck. Happily, Garrett obliges for a bit and I get over the worst part of the wall and the subsequent gradient.

Somewhere along the way DJ gets it into his head that Garrett and I really suck and that what he wants to do is catch Dan and Rudy. This is a problem for me because if I follow Dave’s wheel I’m not going to get much of a draft, but if I follow Garrett’s wheel he’s going to blow and I’m going to have to close a nasty gap.

Choosing expediency over strategy, I hunker down behind Garrett and await the inevitable. Garrett works like a Trojan to stay on Dave’s wheel, but like Hector getting slain by Achilles, he’s no match for the Argonaut.

Garrett explodes gracefully, head bowed, hand waving me through, and I have to go bathyscaphe-deep to claw my way onto Jaeger’s wheel. Dave could drop me anytime now, but he settles in and begins banging away at every nerve in my body with a steady, relentless drilling. The thing that’s so awful about this is that even though I’m on his wheel and getting the benefit from his draft, mentally it is horrible to think that I’m completely pegged out and haven’t done a lick of work all day. DJ has attacked, covered, accelerated, and pulled, and he’s not done yet, while I’m younger, slower, weaker, and hanging on like one of those baby teeth about to come out but for a tiny string of fleshy pulp still holding it into the gum.

DJ also sees Dan and Rudy up ahead and they’re riding side by side, chatting. We’re all in simply to keep them in the viewfinder as they chattily discuss gear ratios and the silliness of old farts trying to keep up with young men. Then Cobley accelerates and they vanish.

Now my goal is simple: Don’t quit and let DJ drag me to the end. What could be easier? The hardest part is over! All I have to do is dig deeper and hold on! He’s older than I am! I’ve done nothing all day! I CAN DO THIS!

Except no, I can’t.

See? The Donut is the same for everyone, after all.



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Book peace

July 23, 2016 § 25 Comments

I don’t worry much. Okay, I don’t worry at all. I leave that to other people because there seem to be so many who specialize in it.

However, I do get depressed. It’s not often but it happens. Last night I got real depressed. It was hot. No AC. REM didn’t come, and monsters flitted across my brain.

I got depressed thinking about Trump and about what a bad person he is.

I got depressed thinking about the millions of Americans who really think he is a good person.

I got depressed thinking about what a bad person Hillary is.

I got depressed thinking about the millions of Americans who know she is a bad person but are going to vote for her because Trump is so much worse.

I got depressed about my legs. They are old and keep getting slower.

I got depressed about friends of mine who are having problems.

I got depressed about my family.

I got really depressed thinking about the Saturday blog I hadn’t yet written.

I got depressed thinking about the Donut Ride and about how I was going to get dropped.

I even got depressed about my oatmeal, which is generally the high point of my day, along with my coffee.

Eventually I drifted off to sleep and woke up punctually at 5:30. Then I got depressed again and slept in until 6:43, and sat on the edge of the bed being depressed about wasting the best part of the day being depressed.

I was so depressed I didn’t do any of my morning routines. Didn’t turn on the computer. Didn’t check the ‘Bag. Didn’t check email. Didn’t read the news. Didn’t listen to the ARD broadcast which was going to be saturation coverage of the Munich amoklaeufer.

Instead, I ate my oatmeal which was thankfully tasty and not depressing at all, and drank my coffee which was super happy and cheerful, and I sat down on the couch and watched an Anna’s hummingbird perch on the feeder and drink some nectar.

Then I picked up a book that’s been on my re-read list for a long time now but I’ve been too busy with SHIT to get around to reading it, Gravity’s Rainbow.

I sank into the couch and the book. I learned a bunch of new words in the first twenty pages. It was so calming and relaxing and pleasant even though it’s about German V2 rockets slamming into London terrorizing and killing people.

The day was quiet outside and I could hear the symphony snoring of my loved ones reverberate throughout the apartment.

The book was so engrossing, especially the part about fried bananas, which made me hungry all over again, and happy.

I realized that I had been overloaded with electronic input. Emails, Facebags, Internet news, and Things To Do That Have To Be Done. The book was my tonic and suddenly I was at peace.

I read a few more pages, then dressed and went for a bike ride.

I got shelled on the Donut Ride of course.

But I didn’t care.


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