Quick fix

April 5, 2017 § 9 Comments

Yesterday at 1:01 PM I got a phone call from Ms. Robinson of the Palos Verdes Homes Association. “Mr. Davidson?”

“Yes?”

“We received your letter regarding the racially restrictive covenants and wanted to let you know that those were amended quite some time ago.”

“And filed with the county?”

“Yes.”

The polite and professional Ms. Robinson then gave me the date, number of the recorded document, and number of the amendment. She explained that the reason the association had whited out all of the CCR booklets was because they were somewhat historic, being the original ones printed when the city was formed, and because there were so many of them that reprinting and replacing wasn’t as practical as whiting out the racist language.

When I mentioned that a resident had come in a few days ago and asked about it, and had been told that the covenants hadn’t been amended, she told me that she would speak with staff to clear up any misunderstandings.

I told her that my title search hadn’t come up with an amendment to the racially restrictive covenants, but armed with the document number and amendment number I said I would try again. She very graciously responded that if I either couldn’t find it or if the documents that were returned had discrepancies that I should contact her and they would figure out how to proceed.

Far from being defensive or angry or upset, she acknowledged the ugly history of the covenants and told me that the association had cooperated with a researcher to provide background about the covenants as they related to the community’s design by the Olmsted brothers.

I sent off the information she provided to the title company and within a couple of hours had the result. The Palos Verdes Homes Association had indeed amended their CCRs in 2000. The amendment_no_214_to_declaration_of_establishment_pv_homes_association is here, and reproduced below as JPEGs.

I suppose it’s still indefensible that it wasn’t until the 21st Century that the racial language was deleted, and it’s pretty lame that a community as wealthy as this one is too cheap to print out new CCRs–especially when the whited out language is sometimes still visible–but seventeen years ago isn’t exactly yesterday, and however incrementally slow, progress is still progress.amendment_no_214_to_declaration_of_establishmet_pv_homes_association_Page_1

amendment_no_214_to_declaration_of_establishmet_pv_homes_association_Page_2

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Coffee cream cruise

April 1, 2017 § 26 Comments

Special Ops and I went for a coffee cruise today. We did the Super Wanky Power Loop with Kickerz, hopped the chain link fence at La Venta Inn, went down VdM, on down to Haggerty’s, up the Cove Climb, back up VdM, up Highridge, and up Whitley Collins.

Or as Joann Z. would say, “Just turn left.”

Then we descended Monaco to Hawthorne to PV South to Sea Beans. It was sunny and warm. Some dude was pulling up for valet service in his $200,000 BMW sporty car thingy wearing a matching jogging suit. Michael and I looked at all that money and quietly got free refills of our $1.87 small coffees.

Many years ago Johnny C. had told me about tubeless tars. They were, according to him, “Way better than clincher tars.”

“How come?” I had asked.

“Because no tubes. Just like a car.”

“Cars don’t have tubes?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes. “Not since about 1938.”

“So what happens when you flat?”

“You never flat. That’s the beauty of them.”

I thought about all the times my Dad’s Galaxie 500 had flatted and all the curse words I’d learned watching him work a tire iron on a bunch of bolts that had been put on with an impact wrench. “Never?”

“Never.”

“What about when you roll over a cake filled with razor blades or ride through a glass field?”

“Oh, sure, sometimes you flat. If you’re doing something way crazy, sure, they’re rubber, they’ll slice. But basically it never happens.”

“Never?”

“Mine only flatted once.”

“Then what happened?”

“You just stick a tube in there like it was a regular tar and you’re good to go.”

“So it’s a tubeless tar that takes a tube?”

“If you want it to. But it never flats. Unless you are doing something way crazy.”

“How can it hold air if there’s no tube?”

“Just like a car tar.”

This stumped me because I had no idea how a car tar held air. In fact I had wondered about it since I was a little kid but was always too afraid to ask because I didn’t want people to think I was dumb. Er.

“How does a car tar hold air?” I asked.

Johnny C. looked at me like I was really dumb. “The edge of the tar makes a perfect seal against the rim. No air can get out.”

“How does it do that?”

“You put some sealant in it.”

“Some what?”

“Sealant.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this liquid that sloshes around in the tar and when you put air in it the pressure forces the bead against the rim and the sealant closes off the infinitesimal gap and makes a complete seal so no air gets out.”

“What happens to the sealant when you get one of those flats that never happens?”

“They never flat, I’m telling you.”

“I know. But what happened that one time you got that flat that never flatted?”

“I just put a tube in.”

“With all the sealant?”

“You just kind of wipe it away. It doesn’t make that big a mess or anything. It’s not like your tar is filled with a gallon of white paint. Anyway, they’re the wave of the future. Five years from now no one will be riding tubes. They’ll all be tubeless tars. They never flat, and when they puncture the sealant fills the hole and seals it up, and if once in a million years you flat then you pop in a tube and you’re good to go.”

“I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. I only switched to clinchers from sew-ups back in 2006 and am just now getting the hang of putting in the inner tube. I don’t want to have to learn how to change a tubeless.”

“But they never flat. There’s nothing to change.”

“Except that one time.”

“One time in three years. Think of all the money you’ll save on tubes.”

“Mostly I’m thinking about that one time every three years like clockwork I’ll be 50 miles from home covered in white paint.”

So anyway it was five years later and everyone hadn’t switched over to tubeless tars but a whole bunch of people had, especially ‘cross and gravel types, and Special Ops was one of those types.

We were feeling pretty good after the coffee and the jokes about the jogging suit and the car that cost $200,000 but had probably never been driven over 45 mph, and we were pedaling slowly along Crest, a nicely paved, smooth piece of asphalt that looked like it had been polished that morning with Kiwi shoe wax and buffed with a horsehair brush, so fine it was, and I was on the inside and am pretty sure neither of us was doing anything crazy or even mildly neurotic when pow! There was an explosion louder than a Trump tweet at 3:00 AM and it was followed by the sound of carbon scraping asphalt and how I didn’t fall off my bike from fright I’ll never know.

Special Ops his foot down and looked back at his rear tar which had blown off the rim and the road and his leg, which was covered in what looked like a gallon of white paint.

“What happened?” I said, trembling with much fear.

“Darned if I know.” He took off the rear wheel which was a major operation because these new bikes are all equipped with a slow release and the derailleur falls off when you take off the wheel which itself gave me an aneurysm but he had it under control except for the gallon of white paint that now covered everything, everything meaning his hands, legs, feet, bike, the shrubbery … it looked like Local 157 of the Painters Union had thrown a white paint party.

Special Ops did some surgery on the wheel but the tar wasn’t going to work even though we couldn’t find a hole in it. He shot it up with a couple of C02s and more white paint spewed everywhere.

“Are you going to put a tube in it now?” I asked.

He looked at me like I was really dumb. “It’s tubeless,” he said. “There is no tube.”

“Right,” I said. “I was just testing you.”

Luckily my apartment was nearby so I rode home and Ubered him to work. I think I am going to keep using my clincher tars for a while yet.

END

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Fluff daddy

March 30, 2017 § 36 Comments

This blog has readers from some of the most remote, savage, uncivilized corners of the globe, including Houston. I was alerted to the following news item, amazing because of its cycling content but also because it was considered “news.” How the mighty broadcasters of Marvin Zindler have fallen.

The announcer announces that in addition to being a Professional Cyclist, Jeremy Andrews’s career spanned two Olympics. It’s not clear which Olympics Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews participated in, or in which sport because it certainly wasn’t cycling for the U.S. Maybe Moldova? Or maybe by “spanned” they meant “threw a wrench into”?

Things to note about Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews:

  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews’s secret to so much success is two days off the bike every year, Christmas and Thanksgiving. “There is no off-season.”
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews tells us that as a Professional Cyclist On Long Rides you either “talk to yourself for hours on end or you actually listen to some music.” Tough choices for Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews!
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews’s newest challenge is spin class, which, according to his instructor, is like “a yoga class meets a Beyonce concert on a bike.” Sounds like a personal injury lawsuit to me!
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews likes spin class because of the lights, the sounds, the visuals, and the team camaraderie. Yes, team camaraderie. Perhaps for drafting? Or lead-outs?
  • Spin class allows Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews to work out with people who normally wouldn’t ride with him because who could keep up with Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews? Certainly not Ol’ Grizzles!

I phoned up Ol’ Grizzles, who lives in Houston and is in the build phase for our upcoming 2017 Mallorca Bike Ride and Face Stuffing.

“Have you ever heard of Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews?”

“Fuck no,” said Ol’ Grizzles. “Who’s he?”

“He’s been in a couple of Olympics and rides in Houston. He’s kind of a big deal. Figured you’d know him.”

Ol’ Grizzles choked down another hot dog and quart of beer. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST JEREMY ANDREWS. He was on the Houston TeeVee. Trains 363 days a year. Houston rider. Professional. No off-season. Totally legit.”

“Look,” growled Ol’ Grizzles. “It’s past my bedtime. I never heard of this fuckstick.”

“Can I send you the video clip?”

“I guess,” Ol’ Grizzles snarled.

A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Ol’ Grizzles. “What a putz,” he said.

“Who?”

“You for wasting my time. And Jeremy Andrews for being a professional idiot. The only pro cycling career I can imagine that clown having was fluffing on the team bus, maybe.”

“Don’t be so harsh. The TeeVee said he was a Professional Cyclist.”

“I don’t care if it said he was President Obama. And if you’re going to send me stupid videos send me something less stupid than that, like a cat coughing up a hairball or something.” Ol’ Grizzles hung up.

It sounded like he was going to be in a bad mood for Mallorca.

END

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Peak performance

March 26, 2017 § 18 Comments

The best way to win the Donut Ride is to wait until a big race that attracts all the hitters. To quote Derek the Destroyer’s “First Maxim for Winning”: Your results are predetermined by who shows up.

The San Dimas Stage Robbery had started on Friday, and the usual complement of legit racers was, quite literally, off to the races. Leaky and creaky, I never have a chance to make it first to the top of the radar domes, but today, well, there was at least a chance.

At the bottom of the Switchbacks the group of twelve riders broke apart and by the first turn it was me, Tasker, Roberto, and Marco C., with Marco sitting on the front and churning out the watts. I sat on his wheel for a bit but he’s been in training and is now tipping the scales at 118, a weight that makes Strava Junior look like a fatty.

I dropped back to suck wheel behind Roberto while Tasker had the unenviable task of sitting behind the wraith. Marco dragged us all the way to the college, where Roberto pulled off, and then Marco dragged us all the way to the domes. I planned a sneak attack at the end to punish him for doing all the work, but well before my treachery he simply accelerated and pedaled away from us.

I surged by Tasker and elbowed him into the cones to keep him from getting fake second in our fake race.

Marco is fast and tough and has been around forever, one of the mainstays of the South Bay, but now that he’s on the air and water diet he’s simply leaving behind those of us who enjoy chocolate and donuts (not to mention chocolate donuts). Which got me to thinking about peak performance vs. mediocrity.

There are a lot of superlative riders in the South Bay, but many of them peak and valley. The peaks don’t usually last for long, a season is rare, two seasons Bachmann’s warbler rare … and the valleys can go on for years. In fact, some riders hit an extended peak and you never hear from them again.

On the other hand, there is a whole gaggle of hackers who never hit peak anything. As I like to say, my athletic profile is “slightly better than half-assed.” We mediocre riders never peak, but we never valley, either. Where we were last week is pretty much where we’ll be next week.

I’ve wondered why peak performance riding is so often correlated with extended disappearances. Part of it is the difficulty of achieving “race weight.” The other part is the awful horrible terribleness of FTP workouts, metering your farts on TrainingPeaks, and of course the bane of the non-insane, intervals. It takes so much to be your best. The other other part is that once you enjoy the rarefied air of putting everyone to the sword, it sucks to droop to the back of the bus, hanging on for dear life at the mercy of whoever the latest Peak Performance Flavor of the Month happens to be.

It’s why Eddy Merckx doesn’t fly over from Belgium every Tuesday for Telo, I guess. In his (limited) worldview, competing in our local training crit isn’t as impressive as winning five Tours and setting an hour record.

But to be your most mediocre? That takes considerably less than your best and it leaves room for chocolate donuts. It’s damned hard to do 3 x 20s, whereas it’s darned easy to ride with Gussy and have a croissant … and which person do you think is smiling at the end of the ride? Hint: It’s not the guy who just eked out another .01 w/kg and is going home to a dinner of one boiled egg and a sprig of raw kale.

Put another way, mediocrity is a long-haul tool; excellence is a roman candle. Both have their place, and the life of the ascetic sure looks enviable when it’s dragging you around with your tongue in the spokes.

But man, that chocolate donut …

END

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Failed parent

March 25, 2017 § 33 Comments

Every parent has their secret horror, the words their child might utter, words that would make a mockery of everything the parent has tried to teach. Here are the most common parenting fears:

“Dad, I need to talk with you about my retail heroin operation.”

“Dad, would you still love me if I voted for Trump?”

“Dad, I’m having an affair. With mom.”

But for me none of those awful scenarios is nearly as frightening, terrifying, or depressing as this one: “Dad, I’ve gotten into cycling.” Because that’s what my daughter said.

Where did I go wrong? I thought I had showed her the folly of bicycles, how riding them would, in the words of the immortal Fields, “Lead to the bottom of a dumpster.”

I had talked with her about my friends who had pursued “bike racing,” “bike touring,” “grand fondues,” and worst of all, “the bicycle industry” only to wind up washed up. The list was endless. Cyclists turned Buddhists. Cyclists turned bankruptcy lawyers. Cyclists turned brewers, politicians, consultants, adult video actors, yes, even cyclists who had sunken to the worst depravity of all, triathlons.

And it seemed like my efforts had worked. I even took her on a couple of “fun” 40-mile rides on a bike with no gears and 4,000-feet of elevation to make sure she hated it, and she did! For years the mere mention of the word “bicycle” made her angry. Best of all, I could look her in the eye and say, “Do you want to be like me?” and watch the color drain out of her face before adding, “then be a cyclist.”

So I slept soundly for twenty-eight years, safe in the knowledge that another kind, decent, well-adjusted person had been saved from the mindless insanity of madly dashing hither and yon in search of new ways to waste more time and even more money.

Until a couple of months ago, when I noticed the warning signs, which for me were roaring, screeching, sirens. “Hey Dad, I went for a bike ride today!”

After that it was only a matter of time before she began wearing something other than her husband’s six-year-old hand-me-down shorts, baggy t-shirts, and leggings with skeleton prints on the outside. THE LAST TIME I SAW SOMEONE FALL HOPELESSLY, INSANELY HARD FOR CYCLING WAS WHEN MMX RODE WITH A SKELETON-PRINT JERSEY. WHAT IS IT ABOUT SKELETON PRINTS????

We rode together. The first time up Silver Spur, she walked. The second time, she walked half-way. The third time, she rode.

A month passed before she broke the terrible news, with a smile of course. “Hey, Dad! I’m on Strava!”

I sobbed softly, hand trembling for the beer I wished was there. “Yes?” I asked quietly.

“Yeah! And I got 2nd on the Monero segment!! Behind some girl named Frenchie!!”

“Oh,” I mumbled.

“Do you know her? Is she really good?”

“No,” I said. “Yes.” This was what it felt like to have a child go off to war and never come back.

“I’m only a few seconds down,” she said excitedly. “I’m gonna try hard to get that QOM!”

I looked at her tennis shoes, her MTB handlebars, and her 35-pound chromoly bike. Here was my dear child, coming to me with a Strava problem. How would I tell her the insanity of it all? The madness? The addiction? The waste of a young and beautiful life? How would I tell her to burn her bike and buy a Range Rover?

Our eyes met. “Look, honey,” I said, taking the deepest breath of my entire life.

“Yeah?” she said.

“You gotta approach Monero from Granvia and Hawthorne on the downhill. Slam the right-hander, rail the turn and let the momentum take you up the first quarter of the bump before you have to dig. Then hold about 90% to the crest, but save your last 10% for the flat after the top. That’s where people bog. You’ll nail it.”

She looked at me, giddy. “Thanks, Dad!”

END

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World fame on Amazon

March 24, 2017 § 21 Comments

There are two ways to know you’ve hit the big time.

  1. Your $2.99 blog finally gets four subscribers, none of whom is a family member.
  2. You get mentioned on an Amazon bicycle customer review.

One of these just happened. Click here.

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The Legend of Shirtless Keith

March 18, 2017 § 45 Comments

If you ever meet someone who claims to know what’s up in the South Bay, you can ask this simple question. “Do you know Shirtless Keith?”

The answer will tell you all you need to know.

Shirtless Keith isn’t legendary or even mythical. He’s way beyond that. He is the Holy Grail in bicycling.

Shirtless Keith rides (you’ll never guess) without a shirt. And instead of girlish Italian cycling shoes with fancy clip-in pedals, he rides with boots. Big, heavy boots. Boots that you can use for pedaling a bike or for walking 10 miles one-way to the brewery. Yep, he did that. And after having a few beers, he walked home.

When it comes to nutrition, Shirtless Keith don’t need no fancy-shmancy biker Barbie food. “Cyclists” carefully consume properly balanced foodstuffs made by elves who grew each organic ingredient on a small plot of earth farmed by earthworms and hippies from the 60’s. When Keith starts running low on fuel, you know what he eats?

Pop-Tarts.

Yep. You heard me right. And when he gets a hankering for a Pop-Tart he doesn’t reach into his jersey pocket because, shirtless, he don’t wear no stinkin’ jersey. Instead he pulls over, unstraps the bungee cord on his rack that holds down the Pop-Tarts, and eats it on the spot. And Shirtless Keith don’t need no water bottle. When he gets thirsty he rides over to a water fountain and drinks.

You think I’m joking? That’s okay, you’re just proving that you don’t know squat about the South Bay.

Keith rides an old cromoly Raleigh with knobby tires and a steering tube that’s longer than a fishing pole. Keith don’t need no carbon and no 25mm tires. All Keith needs is a 55-tooth chain ring, and that’s all he’s got. If the 55 is too big that just means he has to pedal harder.

And Keith don’t need no Internet coach. He rides 48 miles a day, seven days a week. But his favorite day is Saturday because that’s when the Donut Ride goes off. Keith rides around until the group comes barreling up to the Domes and he hops in with the leaders, goes to the front, drops a couple of people (usually me), then swings off and finishes the climb by himself.

Keith’s signature move is to troll for wankers. It never takes long to hook some mid-40s dude on a $15,000 rig. The dude takes one look at Keith’s boots, 40-lb. bike and shirtless back, rolls his eyes, puts the hammer down, and blows by. Dude looks back and sees that yeah, he passed Shirtless Keith, but now Shirtless Keith is passing him. Fast. Dude hops onto Keith’s wheel and pretty soon he’s stuffed into the pain burrito as Keith gets the 55 rolling.

Then Keith stands up and starts pounding like the world’s biggest mashed potato maker, and pretty soon the dude is gazing down at his $5,000 power meter which is telling him that he left his FTP back in Portuguese Bend and it’s exactly fifteen seconds to detonation time.

Shirtless Keith rides away.

If you talk to him he is humble and polite and the friendliest guy on the Hill. One time he hopped in with the Aussie women’s national team and rode with them around the peninsula. Like the classy guy he is, he asked if he could join before hopping in.

The funny people are the ones who tell him to “get a road bike” because he’ll “be a beast.” These are always people he’s shelled, by the way, like a rotten pecan.

Keith don’t wanna be no roadie. Keith don’t want no road bike and no fancy outfit. Keith wants to ride his bike, troll for wankers, hop in on the Donut every now and again, and enjoy cycling his way, on his terms, not yours. One Shirtless Keith is better than all the Velominati put together.

Like I said, the Holy Grail.

shirtless_ketih

Shirtless Keith bringing the heat on Crest!

shirtless_calves

Boots. Cutoffs. Leather belt. Man’s legs. Pop-Tarts. 12-inch steering tube. Legend.

shirtless_keith_trump

Shirtless Keith Google Street View, Trump Golf Course.

END

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