Are you riding too much?

February 6, 2017 § 24 Comments

Yes, you.

You know who you are.

More importantly, you know how your legs feel right now.


Yeah. You, who don’t race for a living, are trying to figure out how to get through your Super Hangover from being on your bike all day yesterday. And the day before.

You know, that string of days that put you at more than 300 miles for the week with some crazy amount of elevation.

Has it occurred to you that, at age 40-whatever, you’re riding too much?

Has it?

Okay, I can already hear your answer. “TOO MUCH FOR WHAT?”

And that’s a good answer, because on the Internet the best defense is all caps. But you have a point. Too much for what?

Let’s drill down, shall we? I’d make a flow chart but those are too difficult. So here’s a handy self-diagnostic quiz:

  1. I ride more than 200 miles a week and I’m not paid for it. T/F
  2. I’m tired. T/F
  3. I ride when I’m tired. T/F
  4. I’m too tired for sex. T/F
  5. After I ride, I do things I have to do but I do them tiredly. T/F
  6. My thighs ache right now. T/F
  7. My back aches right now. T/F
  8. Every time I get ready to ride my bike I have to climb a small mountain of tired to get dressed,air up the tires, and roll out the door. T/F
  9. No matter how tired I am (like right now) I always make the group ride, after which I’m even more tired. T/F
  10. Being tired feels bad but not riding feels worse. T/F
  11. I feel guilty because I’m too tired to talk to my family, but I feel guiltier if I don’t ride. T/F
  12. I’m pretty sure that being tired helps me lose weight. T/F
  13. If you’re not tired you aren’t riding enough. T/F
  14. “Too tired legs” can only be overcome with a quick 2-hr. spin. T/F
  15. Other people ride a lot more than me and they’re not tired. T/F
  16. Tired is a state of mind. T/F
  17. Rest is what happens when your competition quits working. T/F
  18. I can recover with a good hard run. T/F

If you answered “True” to any of these except the first one, here’s some advice: Up the mileage. You’re clearly not tired enough.



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Some super observations 

February 5, 2017 § 21 Comments

It’s that day of the year again and:

  1. I only know one of the teams who’s playing.
  2. Traffic on the 101 is nonexistent.
  3. I saw my first Nuttall’s woodpecker.
  4. The parking lot at the pier in Santa Barbara is empty. On a Sunday.
  5. I don’t have to ride my bike to have fun.
  6. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning.
  7. The less you want the more you have.
  8. A good cup of coffee is good to find.



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Good bike

February 4, 2017 § 31 Comments

Last year I got a Cannondale Super Evo 6, or maybe it is an Evo Super 6, or maybe it is a Super Motel 6, I’m bad with names.

What it is, is carbon. Full carbon. It has so much carbon in it that if it had any more you’d have to spell it “carbone.” Which is Italian for “carbon,” only more so.

The reason I started riding this bike is because it was time to start riding a new bike. You will know when this time happens. It is different for every man, like menopause. But you suddenly don’t feel right on your current ride and you need a new one.

This is usually because your bike loses carbon as it ages. Bicycles are made from a special kind of carbon called carbon-14, which is radioactive and decays over time. You can actually date your bike frame by analyzing its carbon-14 radioactive isotopes. The fewer the isotopes, the older the bike. A typical full carbon bike that is made of all carbon, 100% hugely big carbon, the best, loses about half its carbon every two years.

That’s why you’ll be pedaling on the stiffest frame known to man one year, and the next year you’ll be pedaling around without a front fork. Which is awkward. Or maybe it’s because Boozy P. gave you a tune-up. Either way you need a lot of new 100% carbon.

The best solution is twofold: Get a new carbon-14 frame immediately and all new carbon parts. Or get disc brakes.

Disc brakes have revolutionized cycling since they were first used in 1982. Bicycling has never been the same. Now, the revolution that changed everything is something that you need to buy (a lot of) so that you can be part of The Spirit of ’82. Disc brakes are important because you can stop real quick on them.

Think of all the times you need to stop quick! There you are, pedaling to the porncery store, and a giraffe crosses your path. Bam! Grab a handful of front brake and fall on your head, causing permanent brain injury! Disaster averted!

Now, with full 100% all-carbon disc brakes you can stop a lot faster and you can slam yourself on your head even if a giraffe is nowhere in sight. Trust me, what’s good for a high performance motorcycle is even better for a recreational hobby bicycle. Plus, you can never have too much front braking power. Super good for fast, wet, downhill, off-camber turns. Trust Wanky on this.

But back to my Cannondale Motel 6.

It is the best bike I have ever had. Why? Because it’s all carbon? Nope. Because it handles great? Nope. Because it is more aero than Strava Jr. after a month of fasting? Nope.

It is the best bike ever because it is black. Fact is, Cannondale Super Motel 6 makes one of the best black bikes anywhere. It is better than ALL the black bikes Stern-O has ever had, and Stern-O only rides black. In fact, the Cannondale Motel 6 has blackness comparable to deep space. No light is reflected whatsoever from the Cannondale Super 6 Flags.

But just because it has the best black color, that doesn’t mean you should buy one.

It means you should buy TWO. Three if you can afford it or if you get the special Wanky discount (coupon code is #fullcarbonMotel6).

Still, it is possible that you are a comparison shopper, truly a despicable creature. And it is also possible that you really do like your hand-lugged Pegoretti with that unique Italian flavor that only comes from having a sweaty old man with garlicky breath and cauliflower farts lovingly join the lugs to the handlebars with a rubber hammer and pliers handed down from his great-grandfather, who died in prison due to his connections with the Mafia.

But whatever. We both know that your Pegoretti lives on the wall because no one rides art. Ever seen the French president gallop around town on the Mona Lisa? Of course not.

When it comes to stomping dicks, you’ll need carbon, and you’ll need a black Cannondale Super Motel 6 Stomper of Dicks.

Here are some things I’ve achieved this past year with my Cannondale Dick-6 Stomper that I could never have achieved on a much worse-black-painted Giant.

  1. Won the 50+ CBR rain crit, decisively beating Chris Lotts who was so weak he flatted, that dude who started late and wasn’t eligible to sprint, that other 66-year-old dude who had won the previous race in a one-hour solo break, that dude with the one knee pointing to Rome and the other to Beijing, and that dude who was racing in a different category. Not possible without the Dick Six.
  2. Had a natural way to chat up local Cannondale pro riders Krista Doebel-Hickock and Phil G. “Hey y’all, I ride a Cannondale too!” They think you are really cool when you do that.
  3. Set over 500 PRs this year on Strava. (*I deleted my account a couple of years ago and started a new one in 2016 but that has nothing to do with the plethora of new PRs.)
  4. Put on new handlebar tape.

Anyway, I hope you run out and get a Cannondale Super Evo Motel Dickstomper 6, black model only. You can get a great deal on them at Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, or Manhattan Beach. You can also hang around outside the shop and wait for someone to leave one unattended and borrow it. That’s what I would do. Did.



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Zen and the art of the bicycle rotation

February 1, 2017 § 23 Comments

One reason most people suck at rotations is because they never do them.

What is a rotation? It’s almost like like a reverse definition of pornography “I know it when I see it.” I can tell you what a rotation isn’t …

A rotation isn’t sitting tenth wheel in a big group while the lead five or six flog themselves and you sit on.

A rotation isn’t a searing meatgrinder that relentlessly kicks everyone out the back.

A rotation isn’t easy.

A rotation isn’t hard.

A rotation isn’t immaculately clean.

A rotation isn’t raw and ragged.

What a rotation is, is a search for equilibrium, that point on a bicycle where your legs are spinning hard and there are sensations of discomfort but you are also in tune with a small number of riders around you, each idiosyncratic, and there is a conscious group will to find the interstices in the idiosyncracies of strength, age, fitness, savvy, style, talent, ability, knowledge, and concentration so that the moving parts all fit together in a single moment where everything seems suspended in time and space, where you are an electron in a slightly irregular orbit, governed by macro and micro forces that, although beyond your control, are within your power to slightly affect.

That moment of equilibrium can never be sustained for more than a few seconds because the road surface, the irregularity of the rider pulling through or swinging off, your own vagaries of motion and energy, the externally distracting noises and sounds and sights, the maw of the wind, and all of the things trying and succeeding to interrupt that elusive, perfectly suspended moment. But the moment the equilibrium jilts you out of kilter, you fall back into the search, and the contrast between those perfect seconds and the grinding of mismatched interstices makes you want the equilibrium even more …

The perfect rotation is flawed of course, but seems to hit equilibrium most often with a group of 5-7 riders, and it’s funny because no matter how well you know them it always starts ragged and rough with big gaps and speed yo-yos, but the rotation is also a function of survival because you’re going fast and don’t want to get dropped and as exhaustion/pain registers, perforce the gaps become smaller, going from feet to inches to millimeters, and the yawing speeds go from miles-per-hour to buttery accelerations just enough to get you through and over, and bit by bit proximity, instead of screaming danger, beckons safety from the wind, the cruel wind!!

When it’s done you are empty, not from the effort but from the wave radiating outwards from the center.



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Pull out

January 30, 2017 § 32 Comments

There is so much advice on the Internet about how to race your bike, but where’s the advice telling you to give up?

Because most of the time that’s the best advice possible. Your coach and your super light bike and your Strava KOMs don’t mean shit when you’re buried 26th wheel with 200 yards to go in the sprunt.

You are gonna lose.

You aren’t gonna make the podium.

You aren’t even gonna make top ten by a lonnnnng shot.

You are gonna be a faded blur that no one cares about in a “sport” where no one even cares about the winners.

People gonna be scrolling so far down the results sheet that they get a migraine trying to find your name.

Why is this important?

Because although it’s certainly worth dying for when you have a tube of Butt Butt’R on the line for first place, it’s certainly not worth dying for when you are any of these wankers:


When I say “almost dies” what I mean is that he almost ended up at the bottom of a ravine with his bicycle, which was photographed here:


I think from this photo it is obvious that either:

a) The bicycle fell a long way off that bridge, or

b) That dude rides a really tiny bike.

Everyone’s to blame but only YOU are the one who gets killed!

Of course the easiest persons to blame are the promoters who put a mad-dash finishing sprunt on a bridge with a centerline rule, and of course the race officials who signed off on this suicide mission. Still, with all due respect to the incredible Cat 3 dude with mad Spiderman skills who not only hit the wreckage at Mach 3 but managed to use his spidey senses and spidey strength to hang onto the edge of the bridge after being flipped like a pancake onto a concrete rail on his back and avoided falling to his fucking death, a set of skills that make him ready for every Hollywood action film ever made or that ever will be made and that will give him bragging rights until the day he dies, the fact is that a whole bunch of riders were riding way to fast way too far away from the finish way too late in a way too meaningless race for way too little reason.

That’s because no one bothered to teach them Rule One of Race Survival: Quit early.

No matter how good a racer you are, and most of us suck, you’re going to last a lot longer in bike racing by learning to recognize the point at which you’re no longer racing to win and you’ve started racing to live. In other words, it’s key to be able to shift from “Can I win?” to “No, so quit pedaling and live.” We’re all so glad the Cat 3 Spidey dude made it, and I’m hoping to get his autograph.

He’s inspired me, a lifelong quitter and early-giver-upper, to start quitting even earlier. Like, before even getting out of bed. Because Spider Man I’m not.



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Pass the chicken guts, please

January 29, 2017 § 15 Comments

Sometimes you meet a bicyclist who strikes you as tough. Not fake tough, or bravado tough, rather, quiet tough.

Often times the rider is smiling and kind and funny, but behind all that there is something really solid. I always know that there is a story behind these people and it’s always fun to learn it, even though you typically have to know them for a few years. People like that don’t wear their story on their sleeve.

In this case, the story came out over coffee. She mentioned growing up on a farm and chores.

Chores. The word kind of struck me.

That’s an old-fashioned word, isn’t it? Kids don’t have chores anymore. I didn’t have chores and I’m an old guy. My kids wouldn’t have known a chore from an oar. But here was this young woman in her early 30’s talking about “chores.”

Growing up on a farm in southeastern Ontario, where it gets down to -40 and the daily winter average is below zero (that’s -17 for those who use a real measuring system), she had to do things like milk the cows, string fence, and once a year help castrate the bulls and slaughter the chickens.

“There’s nothing as messy as slaughtering chickens,” she said. “It’s so … graphic. So much noise and blood and chaos. The castrating is pretty graphic too, but that’s what you do on a farm.” She said it easy, matter-of-fact, hard.

I don’t believe that Millenials are a lazy and worthless generation, but I do think that people turn out differently when, from an early age, they take responsibility for things. According to her, “My parents didn’t care what I did, as long as my chores got done. And the other part of that rule was ‘the animals come first.’ So if I stayed out late I knew I still had to be up at five to milk the cows. The cows didn’t care if you had a cold or a sniffle or a hangover. They had to be milked.”

She grew up to be a world class skier and a ski model.

She is also real tough on the bike.



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January 28, 2017 § 8 Comments

When I moved to Utsunomiya, unsurprisingly, I met a lot of Japanese people. By the time I left in 2000 I had met a bunch more. A lot of them were cyclists. In fact, some of the very first people I met were cyclists, Tokyo riders like Ken Iijima and Miki Yamamoto.

One thing was sure. When I met Japanese cyclists they were like cyclists everywhere, and the first order of business was to try and drop the new guy. Whether they did or whether they didn’t, people were always super friendly. It was sometimes hard to remember names at first but eventually I did. I still have dreams about going into Tsunakawa Cycle, or getting pounded in Shinrin Park by Wada-san.

The racing was friendly, too. Guys would rip my legs off but afterwards they would always come over to talk and help clean up the blood.

Over the last few years a group of Japanese riders has sprung up in the South Bay. There is a contingent that shows up every week for the Donut Ride and the Wheatgrass Ride, guys like Koji, Hiro, Satoru, and my son in-law, Torazo. Some of them have been riding for a few years but others are veterans.

What’s noticeable about the J-contingent is that they’re unobtrusive, unfailingly friendly, and they show up like clockwork. I noticed that in Japan, too. People would take something up and then they would stick with it. Maybe it’s because their society has a bigger emphasis on social interaction than ours, on groups instead of individuals, so once you start riding in the South Bay you meet the other Japanese riders and they get to know each other and somehow having a group makes it easier to continue. It’s also more fun.

These guys all love riding bikes, and they are tough, too. And friendly. Welcome to the South Bay.



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