Toys

January 9, 2017 § 16 Comments

My grandson has toys like other kids, but he doesn’t like them. Instead, he likes the toys that aren’t his and that aren’t toys, either.

For example, the extension tubes and the sweeper/sucker for the vacuum cleaner. He likes to take those out of the closet as soon as he gets here, come into my bedroom where I’m sleeping, and beat me in the head with the tubes. They are plastic and they hurt and I never fail to wake up.

Then he climbs up on the bed with the filthy sweeper attachment and plops it in my lap and smiles.

I know my job, which is to play with the filthy attachment and whack the comforter with the tubes. We do that for a while. It is pretty funny judging by his laughter, but it is not funny at all judging from my wife’s shrieks. I guess she doesn’t like the attachment thing on her pillow.

Which is weird because we were in Santa Barbara this morning and she ordered a bagel with “the works” and she was about halfway through it. “Is it good?” I asked.

“It’s delicious,” she said.

“Even the hair?” I asked.

“What hair?” she said.

“That one hanging out the end of the bagel.”

She looked and was grossed out. It wasn’t just a short little thing, it was good six-incher, blonde, and formerly belonged to the blonde girl who had made the bagel and was now making our coffee which I could only hope wasn’t going to be a cafe au lait au cheveux. We couldn’t decide whether to make a big deal out of it or not because the hair that was still on the girl’s head was obviously clean and freshly washed, but on the other hand when you order “the works” on your bagel they should tell you if it’s going to include hair.

Anyway, after we stow the vacuum cleaner attachments, I turn on the iPhone and play some music, which he likes because now he’s taken out granny’s Zumba 1.5-pound dumbbells with maraca-sand in the ends so they are mini-rhythm exercise devices. I don’t ever listen to music but one time I downloaded Cat Stevens’s Greatest Hits so I turn that on and he shakes the maracas to “Ooooh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world … ” and I sing and clap and he sways to the beat until his arms get tired and then he drops the weights, usually on my kneecaps, which hurts a lot, and suddenly I’m still saying “Ooooooh, baby, baby … ” but followed by “for fuck’s sake!” or some other grandfatherly phrase.

Next he ignores anything that says Fisher-Price on it and goes into the bathroom, then demands that I lift him up and set him on the counter.

If you are a woman you would simply not lift him up, but if you are a man, especially a grandfather, you do some quick calculus that looks like this:

  1. If I don’t pick him up he’s going to cry. Cry = Drive me nuts.
  2. If I do pick him up he’s going to make a huge mess but he will be quiet. Huge mess < Quiet for a while.
  3. My wife is going to get really angry about the huge mess. Angry wife > Drive me nuts.
  4. I can blame it on the baby. Angry wife – Baby blame = 0.

So I put him up on the counter.You don’t realize how dirty your bathroom counter is until you put a toddler on it. Toddlers see all kinds of tiny stuff, mostly because their eyes are super sharp and they’re inches away from what they’re looking at, whereas I’m way up high and am mostly blind anyway.

He likes the Nivea skin cream, and opens up the bright blue bottle and tries to drink it. “Don’t drink that,” I say.

He likes the pump-action skin cream for dry and chapped legs and he whacks on the pump and out splurts a gob of cream, which he tries to eat. I let him lick it so he can see how nasty it is and because that’s the best way to teach a little kid what not to eat.

He loves it and tries to eat all of it, but I stop him.

Then he opens the toothpaste tube. I put some of it on the electric toothbrush and he loves that. We turn the toothbrush on and off a hundred times and each time I put it up against his front tooth. It literally is a tooth brush.

Next he dumps out the razor cup that’s got a bunch of other stuff in there, kind of like a utility cup for your face. I look in the bottom of the cup. Yuck! Nasty!

He sticks his hand in it and rubs the wet brown stuff in the bottom of the cup. Quick as lightning, finger into mouth. I’m hoping the skin cream will kill the bacteria somehow. I keep waiting for him to make a “yuck” face but he acts like he’s been given the keys to the candy store.

Finally we get bored, about the time he grabs for the razor, and we go back into the living room.

“What were you doing in there?” his mom asks.

“Nothing,” I say.

She hands him a little Fisher-Price colored ball. He kicks it away in disgust and toddles over to the closet where we keep the vacuum cleaner.

END

 

Two weeks in

January 8, 2017 § 17 Comments

This year, completely giving up in the face of age, declining mental faculties, physical weakness, and the recovery capacity of a worn out shoe, I resolved to whack my mileage and riding time even further. The idea is that by riding less I will not be riding as much.

The trajectory sort of looks like this:

  • 2014: 12,000 miles
  • 2015: 10,000 miles
  • 2016: 8,000 miles
  • 2017: 6,000 miles

Hopefully, if I am able to  ride less, this will translate into less time on the bike. So far it has been a success. Last week I rode about thirteen hours, down from about fifteen. This week I rode twelve hours, cutting another hour out. If I keep this up I will be able to achieve my goal of ten hours per week, which is less than twelve, and which means that by doing less riding I won’t have ridden as much.

The other part to riding less is riding fewer days. Instead of riding five or six days a week, now I’m riding four. This is the other part of my stragetic goal: By riding fewer days, I will not be cycling as many days. Stragety has never been my strenthg, but I am working on it.

This week and last week I rode Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and one day on the weekend, which was less than riding Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and both days on the weekend. Stragetic goals of riding fewer miles through less cycling, and riding fewer days by eliminating certain days of riding have accrued stragetic results.

I’m already noticing some significant effects of riding fewer hours and fewer days.

  1. Less hours are being spent riding.
  2. Fewer days are being used for riding.
  3. Legs have a peppy feeling, like chocolate sprinkles.
  4. Less laundry.
  5. And etc. 

    END

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Mentor case

January 6, 2017 § 16 Comments

One of the guys I ride with is Surfer Dan. When we first started riding together a long time ago I could beat him pretty handily. He was a tri-dork runner dude. But then he did the bike thing for a few weeks and I couldn’t beat him handily anymore. He did the bike thing for a few more weeks and I never beat him again.

We used to do suicidal attack-from-the-gun moves on the Donut Ride. Really stupid stuff, except for the one time we stuck it, which made all the failures worthwhile. Dan and I have had a lot of memorable rides together, like the time he fell on the bike path when he, Pablo, Holloway, Manslaughter, and I were on our way to do a super tough guy off-road ride on our road bikes.

He was pretty embarrassed because he’s an amazing bike handler, and the ultimate tough guy, so of course I named that part of the bike path Cobley Corner. He took it in stride, I think.

Dan is one of those guys who talks so much that sometimes you think he talks too much, especially about training. He’s super analytical, and well read, and is a superb athlete, and I’m none of those things except marginally well read, so on occasion I tell him to shut up, because he’s talking the training thing to death.

Of course it’s not me he’s trying to train; you can’t train a worn out old shoe. But if you are a new rider and you’re interested in getting better, and what new rider isn’t, Dan will share everything he knows with you, help you set up a training plan, answer your questions late at night, pat down your anxieties before a big race, lend you gear, and if you need it he’ll show up and do your workout with you.

Dan’s a mentor. Not a coach or a hired expert, just an old school mentor. He reminds me of the people I first rode with, guys like Fields and the Dicksons and Kevin Callaway the Good, riders who got pleasure in passing on what they knew. They all had different ways of mentoring; Scott’s was to take you seventy miles from home, get you lost, then check his watch and say he “had to get back” which meant you were either going to never get home or you were going to do a 70-mile TT.

Fields was much more analytical, and Callaway was exuberant. If he learned something, he had to tell you about it. Both of them loved it when they told you something, you used it, and it worked.

In any case, they were all mentors. They never got anything from it except the pleasure of passing on hard-won information so you could use it for your benefit. It’s as old as the human race, teaching people and getting pleasure when they succeed, or if they fail, getting pleasure out of knowing you tried to help.

I was talking to Dan about this one day and he laughed like he always does. There’s something about sharing what he knows that makes him happy. It’s his gift of giving that lets him receive.

Last night there was a big family blowup in my complex. Their family is collapsing. The mom had split for Japan, and the dad, who is a big, bullying drunk, was berating his teenage son outside. The son was so sad and broken and the dad hammered away at him.

“Get the hell out of here. You aren’t sleeping here, goddammit.”

The kid is probably 14, and I could hear him speaking softly, afraid. “Yes, sir.”

“Where’s your fucking mother? She go back to Japan? She catch the fucking plane?”

“Yes, sir.”

Then there was a bunch of unintelligible yelling by the drunk and stupid father. “Go to a fucking shelter. I don’t care.”

I could hear the boy standing there completely alone and defeated, nowhere to go, kicked out of his home, his mom on a plane, and nothing but the big, ugly, terrifying city of Los Angeles spread out like a claw.

“Ah, fuck it. Get the fuck back in here,” said the dad.

“Yes, sir,” said the boy.

It was the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long time, a kid being molded by the anger and failure and abuse of his father. That kid was in the middle of a maelstrom and he needed refuge. How was he going to get through school with his family falling apart? What was going to happen the next time, probably tomorrow, that his father blew up again? What was he going to do without his mom?

That poor kid. I thought about my grandson and felt guilty, a toddler who’s known nothing but love every single day of his short life, a child who’s got refuge and backup ten miles deep, and I thought about all the other kids in the world who are hungry, lonely, sick, abandoned, nowhere to go, no one to turn to, chained beneath the wheel with no way out.

Then I thought about my friend Dan and about how he selflessly reaches out to anyone who needs help, sharing his time, his passion, and if you ask for it, a place to crash in a pinch, a guy who cares about other people, and who, despite his imperfections, will lift you up and cheer you on if you need it, and who is always trying to help mold a better version of you

I went to bed that night and somehow slept soundly.

END

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Yes, but was it sport?

January 5, 2017 § 50 Comments

Robert Marchand, age 105, and French of course, set a new hour record for centenarians, pedaling his bike about twelve miles in sixty minutes, a pace that, as one wag put it, “is about how fast you’d ride down to the bakery for a baguette.”

Many thousands hailed the feat, but at least one sour journalist called the new hour record, “good for him, absurd for us,” as he railed about the silliness of calling the spectacle of a 105-year-old man puttering around a velodrome sport, or anything other than a testament to the simple impressiveness of existing at such an advanced age. He compared the feat to a circus freak show, where people are gawked at not for what they’ve done, but for what they are.

And his point isn’t a bad one. Presumably the pool of riders over the age of 100 attempting the hour record, is, well, small. And the angry journalist continued with the pretty shrewd observation that the real fascination isn’t with the cycling “exploit,” it’s with Marchand’s longevity. Rather than questions about training, equipment, or the incredible mental fortitude one needs to tackle the hour record, everyone wanted to know not the secret to his sporting success but the secret to his long life. It’s as if the press conference were to ask Usain Bolt, after breaking a world record, about the secret to his beautiful teeth.

One physician broke down Marchand’s longevity thus: 30% genetic, and 70% willpower, courage, and “clean living.” That sounds like an extremely unscientific 70 percent to me. He also noted, and this is the key, that Marchand’s record wasn’t an absolute one, but rather age-graded. It wasn’t a statement about the capacity of a person on a bike, it was a statement about the capacity of a 105-year-old-man on a bike, a capacity that few will ever be able to challenge because hardly anyone will ever a) live to be that old and b) be able to ride a bike if they are.

It’s the ultimate master’s race, where you are categorized first by the condition of your prostate, and only once it’s adjudged to be sufficiently flappy and leaky, does one look at your actual performance on the bike.

And frankly, why stop with the hour record in cycling? All that Marchand needs to do now is get in the pool and freestyle 100 laps and he will be the world record holder for that, too, and he could also pick up the world titles in the 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 simply by making it to one end of the pool and back a few times. Track and field events are probably out of his range, as the running events are already populated with 105-year-old champions, but there is an entire Guinness Book of World Records that Marchand could rewrite simply by doing them. Oldest guy to eat ten donuts, oldest guy to drink four cups of coffee, oldest guy to walk and chew gum at the same time. He could become the most decorated, record-breaking human of all time, not because he was particularly good at anything, but simply because he existed.

But …

If you take away all of the circus-freak enthusiasts who are in denial about their own age, who think that “age is just a number” (so is the speed of light, by the way), and who are really fascinated by Marchand’s longevity rather than his cycling, and if you focus on the cycling aspect itself, it’s not without athletic merit.

First, though, a few parameters. Sport seems to have two components, the absolute and the relative. Absolute records are the gold standard for performance, in this case the greatest distance ridden by any human being ever in one hour on a velodrome. There are no centenarians in this category.

The other component is relative. Men versus women, juniors versus elite athletes, para-athletes verus non-para athletes, and of course the ultimate “everyone’s a winner” combo of age + gender categorizations, i.e. masters events. And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the relativity of closed universe sports, the best example of which is the World Series of Baseball which includes a single country.

Do these relative categorizations demean the legitimacy of an athletic accomplishment and deny it the category of sport? That depends. There’s a good argument to be made that if you’re the only person competing, it’s probably not as sporting as when you’re going against a field of a hundred competitors. And as you age, the pool gets smaller. Obviously. That’s why the idea of Marchand the oldest record holder in the 100 freestyle, Marchand the record holder donut eater, Marchand the record holder TV watcher doesn’t really sound that impressive.

On the other hand, the older you are, the harder it gets, and I’m not talking about your package. People who think that riding a bike at 80 isn’t a challenge simply don’t know anything about what it’s like to be 80. As you age everything gets harder, and more to the point, it gets a lot deadlier.

Falling off a bicycle, for example, is something that you’ll bounce up from in your 20s, but that could easily kill you in your 80s, to say nothing of your 90s, or dog forbid, your 100s. Danger and risk are part of sport, aren’t they? And we admire people who do courageous things, don’t we? Well, Marchand takes his life in his hands every time he throws a leg over. One false move and he could well be dead. 105-year-olds don’t get second chances.

For the people who think that Marchand’s feat is anything but, how many activities do you engage in daily that, with a single misstep, could kill you?

This understanding of the rising risk for aging athletes brings us back full circle, which is to the biggest sport, the biggest competition of all, that is to say longevity. Your longevity, unlike your master’s mixed time trial for riders 65+, is matched against every human who has ever lived. Life is the ultimate competition, and once you crack a hundred you are in rarefied air. Once you crack 105 you are, statistically, not only among the super elite, you are literally days away from death.

People who make it that far are rarely paragons of physical fitness. My wife’s grandmother, at 101, is completely senile and can’t walk. Life grinds you down, and most people, statistically, get ground down to death before they ever hit 80, much less 105. Things break, shit stops functioning, small accidents become catastrophic injuries, things fall apart, cf. Chinua Achebe.

So here we have a guy who didn’t just make the ultimate selection of life, and make it to the incredible age of 105, but he also had enough on the ball to ride his bike for an hour around a velodrome, and lest we forget, on a bike with no brakes. How many people age 50 can do that?

But even if you still don’t buy that a guy competing against himself is sport, isn’t it refreshing that the news media can celebrate some old codger for having the gumption to get out there and ride around in circles for an hour? Doesn’t it make you smile, just a little bit, to see someone that old making so many other people feel good about life, and inspiring people to try harder no matter what their age?

Makes me smile, anyway, which means that his feat wasn’t just good for him, but it was good for me, too.

END

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10 hours

January 4, 2017 § 29 Comments

That’s my goal.

Not my resolution, my goal.

And it will be a hard one but that is okay. I like it hard.

A couple of weeks ago I was riding with a pro woman cyclist. “How much do you train these days?” I asked. I had known her when she took up cycling and logged huge miles.

“About eleven hours a week,” she said.

I waited for her to add the “just kidding” part. “Eleven hours?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But they are eleven very hard, high quality hours.” And she began speaking Trainese, a language spoken by real athletes who ride bikes for a living. I understood none of it.

In other words, I know there is a lot more to it than eleven hours.

But here’s something else I know. Although I don’t track all my rides, I’m guessing that I spend about 15 hours on my bike each week. And you know what? That’s a lot of hours. I’ll tell you something else. Anything more than that and I cannot recover. More to the point: I’m not really even recovering from that.

Here is how I know I haven’t recovered:

  1. Tired.
  2. Can’t concentrate.
  3. Legs ache.

In the last three or four years I have accepted the grinding, relentless reality of time and slashed my riding back a lot, going from 12k to 10k to 8k miles annually. Each year has brought with it more rest. I’ve stayed at about the same level of mediocrity simply by riding less.

Fact is that my body, never fast, is getting ever slower. Fact is that I like to ride hard and my body can’t recover from it. Fact is that if a pro woman cyclist trains eleven hours a week, then fifteen hours for a leaky prostate, worn out old shoe like me is nutso.

Last week I did thirteen hours. Knowing I was shooting for ten made me try to squeeze out quality instead of logging saddle time. Riding four days instead of five or six meant I was more productive everywhere, not tired (much), and able to pound through my daily Practical Chinese Reader homework quickly and efficiently. I memorized the lesson vocabulary for “fraud, swindler, and leading man” and even got the tones right. It is pretty practical; I’m hoping there will soon be a lesson on porn.

It’s hard to look at all the monster hours and giga-miles that my friends throw up on Strava and not feel like I’m slacking, but I have to remember THEY’RE NOT ME.

My legs feel super and I can already tell I’m on course for another mediocre year with flashes of uncontrolled delusions. But at least I won’t be tired.

END

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Little does it

January 2, 2017 § 49 Comments

There is a saying about beer, coffee, and whiskey: If you want it to be any good, make it in small batches.

Biking is kind of the same. On the one hand there are huge, mass-produced group rides, like the one on New Year’s Day that attracts hundreds of riders and takes a mostly flat, 100-mile, tailwind gallop down the coast. People ask me every year if I’m doing it, and they would get the same response if they were to ask me whether or not I’m planning to perform my own dental implant surgery.

The New Year’s Ride goes very fast, according to reports. You can apparently be sucked along at 30 mph for huge segments of the ride, and the massive turnout means that there are a lot of riders who enjoy four hours of getting sucked. I’m sure there is a fitness component in there somewhere, because the people at the front are flogging it and there are probably a bunch of people absolutely pinned just sitting in. But for most of the riders, I doubt this is so much a workout as it is a chance to go really fast without having to do much work while surrounded by hundreds of other cyclists.

Oh, and when the group hits a light changing from green to yellow to red, they all roll through at full speed.

And of course there are at least some riders doing the ride in FDM, Full Delusion Mode. I saw one wanker on Facebag post that you should do the ride if you’ve “ever wanted to know what it’s like to ride a stage in the Tour.” It says a lot about your level of ignorance if you think a 4-hour pedal with a tailwind on a flat highway with 400 idiots of vastly varying ability has anything remotely in common with the Tour, or even with a local SoCal Pro/1/2 crit.

So everything was going fine as the mob rushed through red stop lights and poured through miles and miles of areas where there are pedestrian crosswalks, an unbroken torrent of fast moving bikes with riders pinned at their physical and mental and bike skill limits, each rider carrying a whopping mass + velocity that, if it hit you while you were walking, was going to hurt you badly.

Up to now this whole thing is a poster child for every person who has ever said that cyclists are lawbreakers who endanger other road users. This isn’t about running a stop sign at 6:00 AM when there is no one else on the road. This isn’t about running a red light on the NPR where there are no pedestrians anywhere.

This is about a mob of riders turning the streets into a shooting gallery for anyone unfortunate enough to be on foot. When the crazies in Palos Verdes Estates rail and complain about the Donut Ride, this is the bogeyman they’re trying to pin us all with: Big ride takes over the street, breaks the law, and really hurts someone.

And it doesn’t do any good to point to all the motorists who do exactly that to cyclists day in and day out and get away with it, because it’s just like your mom told you: Two wrongs don’t make a right. Moreover, when you’re making a Bikes May Use Full Lane argument based on safety for vulnerable road users, and your mob is using the full lane in a way that endangers other vulnerable road users, you look like a real piece of shit.

[This section has been updated] But back to the story: Before the huge ride came through, a cyclist on a different ride, in front of the New Year’s Ride, hit a pedestrian, went down, and both were hurt. While the emergency vehicles were trying to reach the rider and the pedestrian, the main New Year’s Day mob was coming through, but many cyclists chose to run the light and jump in front of the fire trucks and ambulance, thereby blocking them from attending to the emergency. Re-read that. Not one cyclist or two cyclists. MANY CYCLISTS. A few riders, i.e. decent, normal people, had stopped and were trying to hold back the bike traffic so the paramedics could reach the two casualties.

Is this even real? People jumping in front of an ambulance to stay with a fast peloton? A person’s life mattering less than not getting dropped by a mob ride? Are you fucking kidding me?

The answer of course is “No.” This is completely believable behavior because I’ve been racing and riding for decades and have seen countless bad falls where the group simply keeps riding. “Sucks to be you” is often the motto, and although there are times I’ve kept riding when I’ve seen a crash and other people are stopping to help, I can’t begin to fathom what’s going on when riders actually interfere with rescue operations, or heighten risk to the rescuers by sprinting in front of them and blocking their ingress.

Okay, just kidding. I can completely fathom it. Mobs, whether they’re on bikes, on foot, in motorcycle gangs, or at Trump rallies, behave the same. People use large numbers as cover for their own bad acts for the same reason that people are Internet trolls and stalkers: Anonymity. Bicyclists don’t have some Good Samaritan gene that makes them nobler than the carholes who harass and kill them in PV Estates and elsewhere. In fact, pedestrians on the beach paths will tell you that large groups of cyclists behave with exactly the same arrogance and disregard for the safety of vulnerable road users that cyclists complain about vis-a-vis cagers.

The nicest people in the world will behave like complete bastards when they think no one knows it’s them. Anonymity is the ultimate empowerment for cowardice and bad acts, and this is a classic example.

In any event, score one for the anti-cyclist crowd. If this kind of mob behavior is what we can expect when huge numbers of cyclists get together, then retributive, unfair, and illegal responses from cagers is what we’re going to get. More accurately, people who already hate cyclists and who have no intention of respecting our safety will use incidents like these to justify their own bad acts. You may not like it and you may think it’s unfair when a motorist tries to kill you, but ask yourself how much sympathy you’re going to get from the family of the poor guy who went out for a New Year’s Day walk along the beach and wound up in the ICU, and his treatment was delayed by a bunch of cyclists who “didn’t want to get dropped.”

Which brings me back to my point, which is that the bigger things get, the worse they get. Several hundred riders going pell-mell through stop lights and pedestrian crosswalks in heavily congested areas, or big groups of cyclists barreling full bore down beach paths also used by pedestrians is dangerous and it’s wrong.

Small groups where there’s a ride leader, an understanding about how the ride is going to be conducted, attention to the safety of others, and responsibility for taking charge when things go wrong are the only way that cyclists can rationally advocate for better behavior by motorists and for better protection by law enforcement. To cry about those who’ve been victimized and then turn around and obstruct aid to an injured pedestrian because you were “trying to keep up” is the worst kind of hypocrisy. Worse, it gives drivers a rationale to pay no attention to cyclists, even when the cyclist is obeying the law, riding in a small group and endangering no one, and it gives law enforcement a reason to continue to unfairly enforce traffic laws against cyclists while ignoring the more frequent and deadly transgressions of drivers.

Do I think you can ride fast and safely and legally in groups on public roads? Yes. Do I think you can do it in an unsanctioned, unpermitted, break-all-the-rules, devil-take-the-hindmost mob that prevents injured vulnerable road users from getting emergency assistance?

No.

No, I don’t.

END

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Happy Old Year

January 1, 2017 § 16 Comments

It’s a brand new year. Except it’s not. It’s more like a brand old year. The same old pig wearing a fresh coat of lipstick. January first is a day of promises, mostly broken ones, exaggerated ones, ones extracted against your will, ones that were made in haste and will be repented at leisure.

Nothing will happen in 2017 that hasn’t happened in some other year, and for everyone who shrieks, “Trump!” I give you Caligula.

2016, for all her faults and misdeeds, was a great year. I wish she would come hang out with me some more; we’d be the only two sober people at the party having an actual conversation while everyone else slobbers through an impenetrable fog of hard liquor and nonsense. There were some amazing bicycling milestones in 2016. We’re grateful she left us with them because they’re going to continue giving pleasure in this grand old new year.

Brad Wiggins’s completely legal, unsuspicious package of Fluimucil that might have been a “letter from his wife” led to his early retirement and an investigation by Parliament. This is a gift that will continue to give much laughter in 2017, especially as Brailsford and the whole bus full of liars continue to contradict each other and make the previously preposterous claims even funnier. Look for the Bradley Wiggins Grand Fondue any day now, managed by Thorfinn Sasquatch.

Mechanical doping, a/k/a motorsports, have thankfully killed the anachronistic activity of pedaling a stupid bicycle. With a power source on the bike, lots of electronics, and ever refined engineering, the bicycle officially became a motorbicycle. Now we can have the perfect excuse for every time we get dropped, and after the frustration reaches a certain point, can buy a motor for ourselves. It’s like the loss of privacy or the death of the First Amendment. No one really cares anymore as long as we have football on TV.

Four days a week. At the tail end of 2016 I finally figured out that not only is more less, but a lot less is a lot more. I finished the year with only about four days and twelve hours of riding per week, and rode just as shabbily as I did when I rode 12,000 miles. Verdict: lots of time to do other stuff, and twelve hours of hard riding is about the right amount of misery.

SRAM e-Tap. This stuff works and is wildly expensive and worth every penny if you don’t really care that much about rent or health insurance. It’s a great way to further conflate athleticism, dedication, effort, and ability with purchasing power so that eventually they become one.

Mallorca. I went there last year, it was unspeakably awesome, and I’m going back this year. Motorbicycling is more fun in foreign countries with friendly people. If you’ve been hesitating on taking a big bike trip to a famous place, 2017 is the year to pull the trigger.

Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch and Robert Chapman. At the tail end of 2016 the Boys’ legal problems potentially got bumped up to a class action status, which will drive many of them into bankruptcy if the suit succeeds. In 2017, bizarro Robert Chapman will provide laughs and guffaws as he falls off his surfboard again, gets injured, and sits on the sidelines writing hate screeds about biker gangs as an anonymous Internet troll in his mom’s basement.

Palos Verdes Estates BMUFL signage. Last year was an amazing experience in how much a handful of PVE nutjobs hate bicycles, and how the city council does, too. In a couple of weeks we’ll be launching the first of our year-long educational campaigns, to get the BMUFL message to those Palos Verdes Estates residents who aren’t insane, which is almost all of them. More pizza and good times as we educate with our BMUFL and hand-made signage throughout the city.

Another booze-free 365.25 days. 2016 brought another year of clarity and daily hard choices: Sober or drunk? Bike or drink? Sober won out every single day, bringing with it some good, some bad, and a lot of appreciation for those who are fighting the fight, as everyone has always fought it, alone. The clear light of day can be awfully harsh, but it’s better than the thick fog of drunkenness and regret, at least for me, and maybe for you, too.

Success of others. I had friends and family get their Ph.D.’s, win big court cases, survive cancer, overcome family convulsions, kick ass in bike races, go from neophyte to hardass cyclist, get married, have kids, get great jobs, travel to Myanmar, segue from bike racing into the “real” world, publish books, get recording contracts, retire, become grandparents, lose religion, lose weight, become sober, become advocates, fall in love, start businesses, reach out to those in need, and leave the world, even if it’s just their tiny corner, better than when they found it.

And it’s that last part, leaving it better than when you found it, that’s the only New Year’s resolution that matters, or that ever has.

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