America’s Top 10 Cycling Cities

April 4, 2016 § 16 Comments

I’ve been gathering data since March 2014 on cycling developments around the country and have completed what is in effect a long-term study on the best cities for cycling in the U.S. If you are interested in seeing the data that were used to compile this report, email me or post a comment requesting it and I will post a link to the raw data for your review.

  1. Houston, Texas. Known mostly as a sweaty hell-hole filled with mosquitoes and large, flying roaches, Houston is in fact the highest-rated metropolitan area in North America for its favorable cycling infrastructure and environment. Despite a high number of cyclist-cager fatalities (1,202.8 in 2015), Houston won the top spot due to its high number of cycling commuters: Over 40% of the city gets to work by bicycle.
  2. Minot, North Dakota. Although “perfect” riding conditions only occur between August 15 and August 28, the rest of the year Minot offers an incredible variety of riding. Aficionados can choose between riding indoors, hanging out at Val’s, or purchasing fracking equipment for their backyard. Minot nailed down the #2 spot due to its weekly ride (Tuesday) that boasts a gentleman who shows up on a tandem with no one on the back.
  3. Lancaster, California. Many people abhor the Lancaster-Palmdale Greater Methropolitan Area due to its ill-deserved reputation for drugs and highway fatalities, however,
  4. Tipton, Iowa. The hometown of former cyclist Jeff Filds, who no longer rides because he can’t find anyone who “just wants to ride down to the park and back,” Tipton offers scenic vistas, authentic Mayan burial pyramids, vast tracts of corn, and 47 different types of wind, all of which contain unique and beautiful varieties of dust.
  5. Bike Snob, New York. This black hole of negativity, anger, rage, formulaic writing, and sodden predictability drives me insane with jealousy. However, more Americans ride those pages than any other bicycling blog on the Internet.
  6. Portland, Oregon. Portland, site of former shipyards and naval stations and thousands of cases of mesothelioma, has in the last seven years imitated Austin, Texas, to a “T” and now boasts more people not from there who act like they were than the patrons of the Whole Foods Market on Lamar. Although most Porlandians drive SUV’s and add apostrophes to their acronyms, there are more bike shops operating in the red in this mainstream counterculture small town big city than anywhere except Boulder, CO.
  7. Yellow Knife, Northwest Territories. Selected for its mild winters, short distance from major metro areas such as Vancouver, culturally diverse population, and number of miles of dedicated bike lanes, Yellow Knife continues to punch above its weight in bicycle friendliness.
  8. Sugar Land, Texas. Located west of Houston, Sugarland is home to Russell “Ol’ Testicles,” one of the people responsible for getting more people out of cycling than anyone since Henry Ford.
  9. Santa Fe, New Mexico. This enchanted city tucked away in the mountains offers unrivaled vistas, uncluttered roadways, endlessly beautiful mountain climbs, and with the exception of a few cold weeks, year-round quality riding weather. However, this polished diamond is best known for its local bicycling tour guide services, the Stern Tours and Neophyte Welcoming Committee.
  10. Santa Monica, California. Home to one of the greatest champions of the modern cycling era, Nick Brandt-Sorenson provides the world’s leading web-based nutritional, pharmaco-medical, and fashion support for America’s cyclists.

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Chinese studying bike racing style

April 2, 2016 § 16 Comments

It is hard to learn another language because the people who speak it don’t want to practice it with you because they speak English better than you do Chinese so why would they want to listen to you say “I live in an apartment dog, I enjoy eating roast spit, and I have a 3-year-old daughter wife. How old is your tooth?”

The better question is why would a brain-rotted old fart like me want to learn Chinese anyway? My next trip is to Mallorca for the annual Old Texas Gizzards Romp and Norwegian Salted Fish Beatdown Bicycle Ride and they don’t speak Chinese there, they speak Catalan which is basically Spanish for defectives.

Anyway I like Chinese because it is very cheap. You can entertain the fuck out of yourself with a handful of Chinese words and it doesn’t cost hardly anything. The reason it is entertaining is because of the great simplicity of Chinese grammar, which is this: In order to translate anything in your head from English into Chinese, you simply arrange the Chinese words in an order that you wouldn’t ever arrange any sentence ever and then bingo you are bilingual.

But back to my problem of finding potential Chinese practice victims I did what I do with every life problem I apply a bicycle racing tactic to it. Bicycle racing tactics work for everything. In this case I used the Category Downgrade Tactic.

When you suck real bad at bike racing it’s not that you suck like Brad House, it’s that you are racing a too hard category. So you find an easier one that doesn’t have anyone in it who can beat you. This fits the Derek B. Rule of Race Outcome Prediction, which is this:

The thing that determines whether you will win is not your training or equipment or fitness or brains it is who shows up. Signed, Derek B.

The same thing is true of Chinese practicing. If you want to force someone to talk to you in Chinese their English has to suck balls worse than your Chinese sucks balls which frankly is a whole shit ton of ballsuckery. It’s a challenge because the only people whose English sucks balls worse than my Chinese ballsuckery are aged 4-6 months and they aren’t speaking yet, anything.

Hiring teachers is for balls because they only speak according to the Chinese to English Ration Rule which is this: You pay me $75/hour and I will speak 1:875, one word of Chinese to 875 words of English explanation.

So you pay the fuckers to teach them English.

Anyway, bike racing downgrade tactics work you just have to find someone who really sucks balls at English which is hard but not impossible because there are over a billion of them and about half live in my apartment complex. But if Brad House can win a dozen state championships then you can find one Chinese person whose English is dogsbody bad.

I was walking laps around the apartment complex and saw this aged Chinese couple sitting on the stairs catching their breath from lugging groceries up Ravenspur Drive to their apartment. It’s 18-percent and they were both about a hundred.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” they said.

“How are you today?” I asked.

“Bu dong,” they said.

“Nimen shi zhong guo ren ma?” I asked.

They smiled and said they were. Once it became clear that their English was absolutely nonexistent I had them snared like a new-bike owner on his first Flog Ride. I made a complete ass out of myself but they didn’t care because it fit the Rule of Assdom: No matter how big an ass you make speaking Chinese, it’s okay when your talking partner would make an even bigger ass out of herself speaking English.

I told them I was a lawyer but instead told them I was a fish. I told them I was married but instead told them I was tied up. I told them I had one daughter and two sons but instead told them that I had one toothache and two flippers. I told them my wife was orange. That my grandson’s name was “Cow.” That I like to ride my bicycle on car doors. And that every day I walked 10,000 laps around the apartment.

They smiled and told me my Chinese was excellent. We made a date to get together again and chat about the typhoon. I’m just afraid they will go home, break out the English dictionary, and learn five words of English. Then I’ll have to downgrade again.

END

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April’s fools

April 1, 2016 § 11 Comments

Our fools here in the South Bay are not limited to April. Every Thursday morning at 6:35 AM we do the Flog Ride, which consists of six loops around the Palos Verdes Golf Course and a finish on Via la Cuesta.

Each lap is very hilly, and the finish on Via la Cuesta is pretty steep.

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Via la Cuesta, the cherry on top, at the top.

The ride is pretty foolish year-round because:

  1. It leaves really early.
  2. It is really hard.

I know that it is possible nowadays to quantify “hard” with watts and Strava and kilojoules and TSS’s and amperes and such, but those methods are sterile. The best way to quantify the ride’s difficulty is in human terms, which is to say that hardly anyone ever comes back to do it twice, and many of the best riders in the South Bay have never even done it once.

How hard is the Flog Ride? After the fourth lap yesterday one of the new riders dismounted in the regroup parking lot and began fiddling with his bike.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“I think my brakes have been rubbing,” he said. “I just can’t keep up.”

“It’s not your brakes that are rubbing on the rim,” I assured him. “It’s your lungs rubbing against your rib cage.”

At the Flog Ride, you can say with almost 100% certainty that when someone shows up to try it out, the rider will be a Reverse Terminator. He won’t be back.

The ride is only a year and seven months old, but two riders do keep coming back, and every week they have two goals:

  1. Don’t be last.
  2. Make it to the second turn with the group.

No dreams of beating the Wily Greek, no dreams of holding Destroyer’s wheel, no prayer of following Davy Dawg, no fantasy of ever even coming close to being first atop the climb, no goal of shattering the group on the puncher past the stop sign, no, none of that, just don’t be last and please, please, please dog let me make it the second turn before I get hammered, pounded, Mercury-in-retrograded into a quivering pile of gasping meat and flicked out the back.

But every week, with the precision of autocorrect, Michelle and Tom show up and get mercilessly vaporized. They are friends and teammates and good people, so we crush them.

Until yesterday. It was the last lap. We were all tired and dreading the final climb up Via la Cuesta. We made the first turn and Riddlebarger jumped away. Alan, a Big O teammate commuting to work who had jumped in with us, motored the tiny group into a tiny line. Michelle was second wheel and I was on her wheel.

Three riders launched at the stop sign but the group stayed intact. Atop la Cuesta, while the rest of us sat on the curb panting, Michelle and then Tom rode up. “We made it to the second turn!” she shouted, delirious with joy. Tom’s smile was bigger than a trophy bass’s.

“One and a half fucking years!” she said. “And we finally weren’t the caboose!”

We collected our lungs and got ready to descend to Redondo Beach for post-ride coffee and lies. “You coming?” Michelle asked Tom, who was standing on top of the hill, on top of the world, and gazing off into the distance, pleasure diffusing across his face.

“No,” he said. “I’m going to savor it.”

END

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Sex, lies, and handlebar tape

March 29, 2016 § 34 Comments

That’s the name of a biography about Jacques Anquetil. It’s also a fitting title for the thread that went sideways on my personal Facegag page when I posted this photo and this comment:

Another example of how Specialized doesn’t get it. Women are cyclists and customers, not sex objects. Of course tucked away at a trade show in Berlin, maybe Specialized thought they could do their thing under the radar. Talk about a company that represents the worst in cycling. I guess if you can’t sell your bikes because they’re good, rip a page from Budweiser and sell it because you think your customers might be dumb enough to think that buying one will get you laid. By a Playboy Bunny. Right.

What I thought was a goodnight kiss to my echo chamber turned out to be anything but. One poster defended the two models by saying that it was the German subsidiary who made the decision, implying that Specialized’s HQ in the liberal, equal-rights supporting Republic of NorCal would never have done such a thing. The same person also pooh-poohed the problem by saying that other companies in the same situation have done worse, then threw down the old Litmus Test for Social Commentary: If you’ve ever [—–] before, you have no right to comment on [—–].

His defensive reaction was not out of place. One person happily commented on how he loves “tits,” another about how he loves gazing at attractive women, one about “Uptight Yanks” (he’s an American), and the old standby whenever we’re criticizing Specialized, “Cannondale does it, too.”

The women who joined the conversation mostly had in depth, thoughtful, and strong opinions on the matter, like this one, but who cares about them? I got some mansplainin’ to do, so STFU.

And my mansplanation begins with this: I’ve done and said sexist things before, I’ve purchased products from sexist companies with sexist marketing campaigns, and if I had to make a list of times that my dick has overridden my brain it would be a very long one. So you can call me a failed feminist or a hypocrite or a bored late-night blogger or whatever else makes it easy for you to discount my criticism of Specialized. But even though (you think) that chops off my credibility at the knees when it comes to making this argument, it doesn’t take away the argument itself, which is this:

Whether it’s Peter Sagan groping the woman on the podium, whether it’s the practice of having women on the podium, whether it’s unequal prize lists, whether it’s events of unequal duration, whether it’s advertising that shows sexy women on bikes who are obviously not bike racers versus men on bikes who obviously are, whether it’s Specialized’s sexist product marketing and sales, whether it’s unequal team sponsorship, whether it’s unequal junior rider development, and whether it’s unequal support at the local, state, and national level, cycling is doing a poor job of providing equal opportunity and equal respect for women.

I’ve had people tell me that women only race bikes because they’re “looking for a guy.” I’ve been criticized for offering equal prize money when I’ve put up cash primes because “women’s fields are smaller.” I’ve seen guys on group rides aggressively push women who “dared” to contest the sprunt. And I’ve heard every possible criticism of women as participants, from casual riding to big-day racing.

With an environment this gnarly, it’s unfair to pretend that Specialized’s sexism stands out. If anything, their sexism is pretty ordinary. If you want to find a company that really doubles down on sexist marketing and the objectification of women you need to look at the company founded by Anthony Sinyard, the son of Mike Sinyard, who is the founder and owner of Specialized.

Anthony, in his 30’s and not what we’d call a super successful dude, has invested in a venture called Supacaz. Supacaz makes handlebar tape, and has taken Specialized’s sex-symbol sales approach and doubled down, then tripled down.

Check this promotional video.

Then check this link for Google images associated with ol’ Supacaz.

The apple didn’t simply fail to fall far from the tree, it never even hit the ground.

Of course none of this is really surprising, as noted by another poster on my thread, a woman who wasn’t shy about slapping down the justifications offered up for Specialized’s playboy bunnies as a “mistake of the German subsidiary.”

Studies have shown that sex doesn’t sell. Many, many, many studies. What selling sex does, however, is allow the dumbasses in marketing to go home at 5pm and stop thinking about how to market a shitty product with very little appeal. And THAT is why people use sex to sell. They use sex to sell objects because they’re lazy motherfuckers with no big-picture thought patterns, no understanding of sport sustainability and zero respect for the gender they’re so apathetically objectifying and dehumanizing. Marketing departments use sex to sell stuff because they have little respect for themselves and absolutely no respect for their audience; there is no art, no creativity, no meaningful engagement. And why should there be? When so much of their audience stands up and defends such useless existence, that means that Specialized (and Maxxis and 661 and Colnago and Sidi) don’t have to. They have mindless consumer drones who will do the PR for them.

Of course, when you get right down to it, I blame Lance. Because at the very moment in time that Amgen is offering better and longer women’s events, at the very time that European classics are offering more comparable women’s races with rumblings of equal prize money, at the very time that women are becoming a bigger and bigger part of cycling and its fastest growing segment, Ol’ Yeller teams up with a sexist blowhard gambler to time-trial from Vegas to Hollywood. That what cycling’s biggest story is for the non-cycling public.

Specialized, it looks like you’re going to have to up your game, by which I don’t mean succumb to more of the sex-sells-bikes myth. People who own Specialized bikes, and companies who compete against them, recognize that Specialized makes good bikes. It beggars belief that anyone who’s making a purchasing decision says to herself, “Hmmmm, Tarmac or EVO Super Six? I guess I’ll go with the Tarmac because, bunnies.”

Nor do I believe that Specialized’s focus groups show a customer base longing for “more images of scantily clad women to go with my bike.” What they want on the road is a better product, and if they also want something better in bed, well, they’re not going to get it from a full carbon frame, even if it’s 100% full carbon.

END

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Strava announces anti-doping policy

March 25, 2016 § 21 Comments

The popular social media running-cycling app Strava announced today that it has instituted an anti-doping policy, effective immediately.

“We’re going to go back and re-analyze every segment ever recorded,” said CEO and co-founder Michael Horvath from the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “First we’re going to use a proprietary algorithm we’ve developed to match every single segment against our proprietary Body Type Database. If the number doesn’t match the body type, the segment will be automatically flagged.

“Once flagged, the member will get an ‘Uh-oh, looks like you’re a fuggin’ cheater!’ email, and have a five-day window to lodge an appeal with the new Strava Performance Integrity Team. SPIT will review the appeal and then make a final ruling.”

When asked how many segments would likely remain in Strava’s global database of 15,923,281,066 recorded segments, Horvath responded “About six.”

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Wind is a cruel mistress

March 16, 2016 § 6 Comments

One of the really great horrible things about cycling here in the South Bay is that there are so many opportunities to get on your bicycle and go have a wonderful miserable ride. One of the best most terrible rides is the Telo World Championships, held every Tuesday at 6:00 PM after the switch to daylight-saving-but-sanity-losing time.

Telo is often referred to as a training crit but no one is sure what it really trains you for except perhaps to make poor choices and suffer unpleasant consequences. I’m not sure that by age 52 I need any more of those opportunities, having already elected marriage, children, law, and a host of other fantastic awful choices.

Still, the hallmark of truly stupid people is that they apply poor judgment skills across a wide spectrum of experience, and Telo is no exception. As a beneficially destructive training crit, the mythology goes like this.

KK: What do you think about me doing Telo?

Wanky: You crashed in the Cat 4 race and said you were going to quit racing for a while.

KK: But I was told Telo is a great training crit by really experienced people.

Wanky: Are these the same people who encouraged you to race your bike?

KK: Yes.

Wanky: Well okay then.

KK: But do you think I should so it?

Wanky: My coaching services have been suspended by the state so we’ll pretend this is Scrabble and all I have is a “q” and an “x.” I’ll pass.

KK: But my thinking is that since I’m really freaked out by Cat 4 races that maybe I can get acclimated to racing better by doing Telo.

Wanky: That’s possible. I’m just not aware of any 27-second crits being promoted by Lotts. Or anyone else.

KK: What do you mean? I thought Telo was a hour long.

Wanky: It is for some people.

KK: What’s that supposed to mean?

Wanky: Unlike sanctioned crits, Telo lumps everyone together. So the leaky prostate profamateurs like me and the boot-shaking Cat 4’s like you have to race with the young, the strong, the fast, the quick, the savvy, the relentless, and basically everyone who has a 30-second recovery whereas we have like, 3 minutes. Plus we have to race with Smasher who specializes in attacking the shit out of everyone all the time, especially his breakaway mates with a lap to go so the breakaway can fail and get caught by the swarm and all our efforts can result in 38nd place.

KK: But why 27 seconds?

Wanky: That’s the average time that a newcomer lasts at Telo.

KK: So it’s harder than my Cat 4 race?

Wanky: The first 27 seconds will be. After that you can leisurely pedal around the office park and memorize the lessees of all the offices.

KK: So why do you always do it then?

Wanky: I don’t. I didn’t do it at all last year, and only a handful of times the year before. It’s a really fun unhappy race with lots of very safe deadly opportunities to get hit head-on by traffic in the chicane, plus it has a 25-mph headwind for half a mile every lap that feels really good fucking awful beyond belief.

KK: So I shouldn’t do it?

Wanky: Still nothing here but x’s and q’s.

Shortly thereafter, KK and I lined up and did Telo. KK’s race lasted a lot longer than 27 seconds but it was nonetheless very helpful in a tearing-down, lonely, and defeating kind of way. We chatted afterwards.

Wanky: So, how was it?

KK: I loved it! It was awesome! This is just what I need! I can’t wait ’til next week!

Wanky: Oh, brother.

END

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Taiwan by the numbers

March 12, 2016 § 11 Comments

$1,672.23–Round-trip coach airfare for two with one stop in Shanghai, not necessarily at the airport listed on the itinerary.

$1,200.00–Five nights at the Shangri-La Hotel Tainan. Presidential suite, lights-out breakfast (all you can gorge on) that includes full Chinese buffet, Western style breakfast buffet, ordering off the menu, or all of the above. You will start your day with a massive waddle. Also includes a happy hour with free drinks and exquisite food which, if you are like us, quickly becomes happy dinner.

$0.00–Amount spent on dinner for seven days.

$3.25–Average daily cost of lunch for two at the noodle shop down the street.

$0.00–Amount spent on coffee and cakes and snacks because the hotel’s Presidential suite package includes all-day coffee/tea/cake/snack service.

10–Hours spent in the gym on the stationary bike vainly trying to work off breakfast and happy dinner.

4–Hours per day spent walking around the city.

$0.00–Cab fare.

$1.50–Bus fare for five days.

$76.00–Cost of a four-hour personalized tour guide who won’t speak to you in Chinese even though that’s what you’ve ostensibly paid him for.

$6.00–Cost of souvenirs which comprised a loaf of Castella pound cake.

$150.00–Cost of two round-trip bullet train tickets from Taipei to Tainan.

125–Pages I conquered in Ulysses.

5–Times I washed my Team Lizard Collectors kit in the bathtub.

2–Pocket umbrellas we bought.

6.50–Cost of pocket umbrellas.

165–Times that people spoke to Mrs. WM in Chinese.

0–Times people spoke to me in Chinese even after I spoke to them in Chinese.

15–Bird species I successfully identified out of a total species list for Taiwan of over 500.

$0.00–Amount spent on tips.

$4.50–Amount spent on postcards and postage. Yes, they still have postcards.

1–Days we got rained on while out tramping around.

5–Nights we planned to go to the Night Market, famed for its food stalls.

0–Nights we went to the Night Market thanks to the Horizon Club’s happy dinner.

$175.00–Amount left over from my 7-day spending budget of $500.00.

4–Pairs of underwear brought.

1–Wend baseball caps lost at LAX.

1–Artsy, kanji-covered baseball caps bought in Tainan.

1–Pairs of pants brought.

1–Pairs of swim trunks brought.

0–Times swim trunks worn.

3–Massages gotten by Mrs. WM at the hotel spa.

0–Times I didn’t wake up between 2:00 and 3:00 AM.

2–Days I stayed awake past 7:00 PM.

0–Angry days.

24–Hotel staff who recognized us as “The Hungry Davidsons.”

END

 

 

 

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