Telo tussle

April 5, 2018 § 4 Comments

On Tuesday there was big Telo wind and a pretty good Telo turnout, with the most important factors being Frexit and Brexit, sworn cross-Channel enemies who would battle each other to the death.

The group stayed together for a while despite a series of attacks and breaks and accelerations. Baby Seal hit the gas a couple of times, NEVER SKIPPING PULLS, and Team Lizard Collector stalwarts such as Raul, Tom the Kid, Heavy D., Sulk, Dowdy, Son of Max, Ivan the Terrible, Foxy, Racooney, Sanch, and Patrick kept things lively. Dino rider Toronto had come out of the museum with the intention of riding himself into fitness, and where better to do that than Telo, where gale-force wind, face-flattening speed, mommy-and-kiddy gym traffic, and a healthy dose of shoutypantsing by other riders would stiffen the spine of anyone? Original Marco was there too, as was Honda Brandon, with Boozy P. and Mrs. WM shooting photos in the turns, a true All-Star Telo if there ever was one.

Eventually Frexit split the group and with me glued to his wheel and Hair glued to mine, he reeled in the small group off the front that included Brexit, and finally the outlier, Alx Bns. Alx was coming off a superb showing at the Donut Pissing Contest and, having urinated much longer and thicker streams than anyone else, was ready to make common cause with his British compatriot Brexit in order to stifle the dreams of the Gallic nation as embodied by Frexit.

With five riders in the break, one of whom were determined to do as little work as possible, I felt pretty sure that it was only a matter of time before Frexit, Brexit, and Alx would punch me out the back to the retirement home of the chase group. As the shoutypantsing began I marshaled a whole host of reasons why I should be allowed to SKIP PULLS, SIT IN, AND PRAY TO DOG.

  1. I was 12 years older than Brexit, 14 years older than Hair, 20 years older than Frexit, and 24 years older than Alx. Plus, it was Be Kind to Old Folks Week.
  2. I was no threat to anyone, except perhaps from passing out.
  3. They should take pity on me and be kind to an ol’ buddy, ol’ pal.
  4. I have a blog.

A truce was declared in which they would take turns attacking me, until finally Frexit rode off and won. Brexit, in solidarity with striking French railway workers, quit in disgust. Alx attacked me and Hair and pedaled off to a glorious second place.

Hair, who had ridden twice in the last month, dragged me around for five laps. As I got ready to dust him in the sprunt and claw my way onto the podium, the chasers hunted us down in the final turn and Dowdy, Ivan the Terrible, and a couple of others lunged for Hair’s wheel. Hair, exhausted, cramping, and tired from pulling for five laps, easily won the field sprunt, booting me off the podium and onto a disgraceful fourth place #fakefinish at the #fakerace.

There is always next week … I hope.



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Down and out

April 4, 2018 Comments Off on Down and out

One of the funny things about cycling is that you don’t always know that much about people, even if you ride with them a lot. It’s weird in cycling to ask someone, “What do you do?” or to make small talk about jobs. There are people on the NPR I’ve ridden with for years whose names I don’t know, but whose riding characteristics I’ve memorized and whose butts I can pair with a face from 100 yards.

Yet many of those same people are complete strangers. What they do, where they live, and the other huge parts of their identity? No fuggin’ clue.

What’s more, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what someone’s personal details are when you’ve got your nose smashed against the stem and you’re struggling might and main to keep from getting shelled. Stockbroker? Trash collector? IDGAF because your occupation is not going to help me hang on. And after the ride, who in the world wants to talk about work when we can talk about the epic NPR screaming match between Major Bob and Anthony?

The anonymity of the back

There is one guy who does the NPR a bunch but he always rides towards the middle or the back. I know his name and we always exchange that classic biker throwaway line, “How’s it going?” before we sprint off. I’ll call him Ol’ Jake. He’s a chiropractor. How did I know he was a chiropractor? Because he looked like one, that’s how.

One day I heard some bad news. Ol’ Jake had gotten in a bicycle-falling-off-incident and smashed up his leg pretty good. It was smashed up so good that people weren’t sure he was going to walk again. Cyclists being cyclists, that is, uninsured, a group of guys decided to put together a Kickstarter campaign for him, because it was the kind of injury that would cost a fortune to fix, would keep him off work, and would take a long time to heal.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know Ol’ Jake very well. There was a lot of confusion about where he lived and where his office was, that kind of thing.

Eventually someone got hold of him and got his address. A group of guys took the afternoon off and rode over to his place to check with him and make sure he was okay with the Kickstarter thing. Cyclists are almost never too proud to beg and accept charity, but you never know.

Kickstarter for whom?

When they got to Ol’ Jake’s apartment building they were surprised because it wasn’t your typical deadebeat bike rider apartment building. It was a high-rise, and Ol’ Jake wasn’t simply on the top floor, he was the entire top floor, with a view of the ocean and city and mountains and pretty much everything else.

When Ol’ Jake ushered them in their eyes about popped out at the opulent furnishings. “I guess you done pretty good at the chiropracting,” one guy said.

“Sorry?” Ol’ Jake said.

“The chiropracting. You must have a good business with all those adjustments and shit.”

“What makes you think I’m a chiropractor?”

“Wanky said so.”

Ol’ Jake laughed. “No, I haven’t ever tried my hand at that. But I’ve restored the classic car collections of a lot of famous people, and of some royal families in the Middle East. I’m just a mechanic, really.”

They looked around. Ol’ Jake was “just a mechanic” like Muhammed Ali was “just a boxer.”

“So, we, uh, came over to see if you’d mind if we started a Kickstarter campaign to help you pay for your medical bills, but I guess you probably don’t need it, so what do you say to starting a Kickstarter campaign for us?”

Ol’ Jake laughed. “It’s pretty darned nice of you to come by. You fellas sit down and let me get you some coffee.”

And they did.



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Battle of the cowards, Part 3

April 3, 2018 § 11 Comments

On April 10, some voters in Palos Verdes Estates will vote on the dreaded Measure E, a property tax to pay for law enforcement services. The outcome of that vote will determine whether or not the city keeps its police force, or whether it contracts those services out to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. If the measure passes, people worth millions of dollars will have to pay an average ghastly sum of about $900 more taxes per year.

That’s about the cost of a single Ferrari front wheel rim. Ouch!!!

Although the campaign has been pressed in terms of “saving our police department” v. “no new taxes,” it’s really about two horrid policy positions whose true motivations are cloaked and virtually identical. Those who support the tax claim that the city benefits by having Mayberry, RFD homestyle law enforcement. Those who oppose it claim that a contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is a better financial deal.

Both are sort of right, neither is on point, and the obfuscation is intentional.

Back to the basics

You can’t understand the political mechanism of local law enforcement in rich enclaves without understanding why those enclaves were created in the first place. As PV Estate’s foundational documents made clear, the city was created to keep out blacks and non-whites. The demographics of 2018 bear witness to the city’s effectiveness in walling itself off from blacks, although a gradual increase in the number of residents of Asian extraction makes PVE less lily white than it once was.

Although racism was the community’s foundational glue, the modern expression of that racism can no longer be found in legal documents, which have been amended to comport with the U.S. Constitution. This motive remains alive and well, though, in PV Estates’ hatred of “outsiders.” An outsider of course is one who doesn’t own property in PVE, and includes diverse groups such as surfers, cyclists, lawn maintenance workers, and even the police and other civil servants employed by the city. That racism thrives in PV Estates is well documented in this declaration, sworn out under penalty of perjury, by former PVE reserve police officer Benjamin Siounit.

Former PVE police chief Tim Brown in a 1995 interview in The Swell Life, was blunt. In the video, Tim Brown says about Lunada Bay,

People here do not like outsiders in general … I mean, they pay a price to live here. They have beautiful views of the ocean from most of the homes in the city … so they are protective of their community as a whole, surfers or non-surfers … there is a sense of this ownership that’s really connected to their feelings about it.

Law enforcement, whether operated by the city in the form of the PVE police, or by the county in the form of the LA Sheriff’s Department, hews to the city’s fundamental purpose of keeping people out who they designate as outsiders, whether on boards or on bikes. As the voluminous documents regarding this tax measure attest, PV Estates in particular, and the entire peninsula in general, are physically safe places with little violent crime no matter who’s doing the policing.

The problem for peninsula residents today, of course, is that every cyclist and recreational fisherman, not to mention every poor person in California, has the right to enter PVE and enjoy the scenery along places like Bluff Cove regardless of color or place of residence. Therefore, the job of local law enforcement is to make sure that such non-residents exercise their rights of travel and visitation in small numbers and for strictly limited periods of time. The rights of PVE residents, of course, are considerably more expansive, something that visiting surfers and passing cyclists have found out the hard way. So it’s important to understand that at their core there is no disagreement between the opposing parties: Keep out the riff-raff!

There is, however, disagreeableness …

The policy pros and cons of Measure E

The superficial policy choice, it seems, is Andy Griffith v. SWAT. The Andy Griffith supporters are loathe to kick out the cops they have gotten to know over a period of years. At the city council level, the relationship between politicians, administrators, and the police is old-fashioned. It is personal, where everyone knows everyone else, and the cost of Andy Griffith, even to the tune of several million dollars a year, is worth maintaining those human relationships. Underlying that desire to hang onto the police department is the fear that the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, the largest one in the nation with a multi-billion dollar annual budget and paramilitary capabilities, will be too large and too impervious to develop the kind of personal relationships upon which PV Estates residents have become accustomed.

In practical terms, this means being able to direct enforcement arbitrarily, such as a “crackdown” on cyclists who run stop signs, without also enforcing laws against resident drivers who commit the same or worse violations. It means turning a blind eye to violence at Lunada Bay and allowing illegal structures to be built on public property in defiance of state law. And of course it means being the one in the driver’s seat: The police chief serves at the leisure of his bosses, the council and the city manager. The sheriff’s deputies work for someone else entirely and may not be quite as amenable to doing Robert Chapman’s bidding.

The difficulty of squaring the circle was recognized by PVE’s most recent chief of police, Jeff Kepley, who resigned after a four-month unexplained leave of absence, and is but one in a long string of people who have learned the hard way that PV Estates is one tough beat if you want to be chief of police. In short, as this email filed in litigation against the city makes crystal clear, the police in PVE simply cannot reconcile the requirement that they enforce the law with the practical difficulty of enforcing it against the people who hire them.

No amount of funding or taxation can remedy this problem; it’s as old as mankind, and it even has a name: Conflict of interest. Interestingly, none of the people in favor or opposed to the Measure E law enforcement property tax bring this up. There’s no discussion of whether or not the beat deputies of LA Sheriff’s Department will eventually be co-opted in the same manner as the officers on PVE’s police force. To the contrary, supporters of a contract with the sheriff’s department go to great lengths to assure voters that the deputies will provide the same on-the-street, local policing as the PVE police.

Lest anyone think the sheriff’s deputies won’t kiss the residents’ asses, the Bluff Cove front for Robert Chapman even claims that the sheriff’s department will hire “the best and brightest” from the current ranks of the city’s police force. Whether that’s true or not, the clear message is that residents will get the same arbitrary law enforcement and coddling that they “deserve.”

No one seems to think that what PV Estates law enforcement needs is more transparency, more independence from the city council, and more accountability outside the hands of the people to whom they will writing tickets and arresting junior for coke and DUI. Why is that? Because, as noted above, the purpose of policing in PV Estates is primarily to keep people out.

Feels like money

It’s unfortunate that the jobs of the PV Estates police are now likely to depend on an economic analysis, and even more unfortunate that the best analysis has been developed and advocated for by a group called the Palos Verdes Residents for Good Government. Unlike the vitriolic screeds peddled by “Ankur,” and the PVE hate web site, this group has members who actually sign their names to the things they believe in. Moreover, their analysis of Measure E really shows that it makes no financial sense to continue funding the local cop shop.

I won’t re-analyze their analysis, but if dollars are what move you, scroll through their mostly pro “Pros & Cons” and go with L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

Agreement in the guise of a dispute

It’s easy to see how deeply so many PV Estates residents dislike outsiders. All you have to do is scroll any of the Next Door comments about cycling and Big Orange. But it’s difficult to appreciate how profoundly PVE residents hate the other subset of outsiders, which are the people who work for them. This includes domestic workers, lawn care workers, pool care workers, construction workers, and city employees of every kind, including the police.

When I say hate, I don’t necessarily mean the direct, verbal kind, although if you scroll through the emails from Robert Chapman I obtained from a public records request and posted below, you’ll recoil at the disdain, ugliness, and contempt he displays for people who are simply doing their job in a way he disagrees with.

Yet the true measure of how deeply PVE residents despise those who serve them can be seen in the discussions on Next Door and other social media, where the outrage at police workers who make $140,000 a year and up for having a “cushy job” drives the residents insane. No one thinks to ask why having a well paid, safe, easy, not too stressful job is a bad thing. And no one thinks to ask how it is that wealthy retirees and shrub fund managers, people who do little or nothing of substance or value all day long, get off complaining about other people also having a good life.

This is where, oddly, the pro-Measure E and the anti-Measure E forces elide. Staunchly Trumpian, staunchly anti-tax, staunchly in favor of the rich and at war with the poor, PV Estates, at its core, evaluates everyone as either an insider or an outsider.

This is because it’s the good life that the Chapmans, the Jennifer Kings, the angry pro-tax and the angry, anti-tax residents of PVE so deeply begrudge their police and their city employees. Few if any of them can stand the thought that for a few extra hundred dollars a year out of their fat pockets some middle-class guy with a 2-hour commute might have good health insurance, a good job, a secure future, a good retirement, a happy life. The pro-tax advocates will argue about the efficiency of the force in jailing outsiders, and the anti-tax advocates will argue about the shock and awe of LASD, but no one will argue, ever, for the basic decency of having a little bit less so that someone else can have a lot more.

Instead, the Chapmans of PVE double down and triple down on people who they see as the worst kind of sponges, incompetent ne’er do-wells getting fat off the public weal. And it’s this evil, the Trumpian orthodoxy of “Everything for me, nothing for you,” that roils beneath the beautiful coastal scenery of PV Estates, a parsimonious, sanctimonious, jealous, and disgraceful inability to accept that the good life just might possibly, maybe, be good for other human beings, too.

Notes: The links below to Robert Chapman’s correspondence with the city reveal, in my opinion, a truly bad person. It will be impossible for you to digest the volume of these endlessly repetitive diatribes; it’s my personal opinion that the guy has severe problems. Feral cat feeding is a major policing issue? Are you fucking kidding me?

The correspondence is so full of contradictions, silliness, abuse, visions of grandeur, and bizarre claims that you would never be able to catalog the nuttiness of it all. However, here are a few lowlights:

  1. Chapman complains about runaway policing costs, but his type of hysterical, agitated snowflake demands are what drive up the police budget with silly phone calls, emails, and demands that the police come out and investigate a raccoon.
  2. Chapman rails against city manager Tony Dahlerbruch’s salary, the salaries of city staff, and the pay raises for city staff, but simultaneously demands that multiple branches of city government be tied up dealing with his petulance. This is the classic PV Estates resident: I want you to work 90 hours a week dealing with my shit, but I don’t want to pay you for it. I’d say that dealing with Chapman for even ten e-mails entitles you to be the highest paid city manager on earth.
  3. Chapman harps on PV Estate’s “naturally low crime rate” thanks to geography and Torrance PD, i.e. passing on the cost to the taxpayers in a different cities. This is Trumpism at its best–you pay for my border wall.
  4.  One of his rants demands that any replacement chief of police live in PV Estates. This is the same guy who doesn’t want to pay high salaries, as if you can buy a home in PV on $100,000 per year. He also pretends to be some sort of broker for police chief applicants and invites them to submit their applications to his organization for screening. This is crazy as fuck. “Screening by the Coalition”?
  5. Chapman has liaised with Jim Nyman, the former mayor who caused the “problem” in the first place by creating the original parcel tax, although he assures people “We needed the money then!” and compares the city’s addiction to tax money to a kid addicted to cocaine, an analogy that so many PV parents will instantly identify with.
  6. In one email, Chapman claims PV is low-crime due to its “moat,” then switches sides in another email to bike-hating RPV city councilwoman Susan Brooks, asserting that the “crime wave of 2015” is continuing in a lesser form today. This is classic Chapman: say different things to different people and hope they don’t notice the difference because you have to wade through so much awful writing. Sometimes he’s attacking those attacking the Bay Boys, sometimes he’s using the class action lawsuit against the Bay Boys as evidence of police failure. Everyone sucks in Chapman’s world, except for one really cool guy, an “ankur,” to use a very hip word. To me he seems Trumpian in this profound way: Seek to destroy those who disagree, and don’t worry if everything he touches turns to shit.
  7. In another string, Chapman rides so far off the reservation that his horse dies when he hits the issue of license plate citations. His concern about this incredibly serious crime may have stemmed from the time he got cited by a cop, so now he insists that everyone on planet earth feel the same $35 pain he felt. When the police chief tells him that discretion is part of policing, it is like water poured on the surface of the sun.
  8. He is a relentless busybody snooping into construction permits, then complaining about city budgets when planning staff are hired. How is the city supposed to deal with all this whining if they don’t have employees? Chapman never says. Maybe they should just volunteer?
  9. In an email of Aug. 25, he claims that the trailhead coincidentally near his home is a haven for narcotics trafficking, where in an earlier email he claims that the city is safe and the cop jobs are easy. Yes, easy narcotics undercover work. Sign me right up.
  10. Chapman’s very small mind is filled to bustin’ with violations pertaining to illegal fireworks, illegal noise, illegal fires, illegal parties, and of course the Gog & Magog of high crimes & misdemeanors: Illegal parking. Leaping off the ledge into the deepest of deep ends, in one email he compares the situation at Bluff Cove near his home to NYC and Rudy’ Giulani’s “Broken Windows” policing policy. What NYC has in common with Chapman’s neighborhood is probably best left to a very good astrologist, or faith healer, or a Navajo sweat lodge.
  11. In his vein of high crimes & misdemeanors, an Aug. 19 email howls at the moon re: Side-by-side social cycling. I’ve been cycling all my life and have never heard this term. I thought all cycling with another human was social. Maybe he’s contrasting it to time trialing?
  12. The heat in his tiny little cranial kitchen gets unbearable as Chapman, in a June 23, 2016 email notes that PVE is internationally known as a place to break the law. Do we laugh? Cry? Take another fistful of Advil? I dunno.
  13. And there are hundreds and hundreds of pages like this, many documenting his ongoing obsession with barking dogs and a party rental. At one point we see him urging his like-minded neighbors to stage a call-in campaign at five minute intervals, supposedly to pressure the city and the police. Someone needs to gently tell him about “straight to voicemail.”
  14. Chapman reveals his methods in an Oct. 6, 2015 email, discouraging a compatriot from going to an actual meeting, and instead lauding the efficacy of phone calls and emails. Where some may see strategy, I see sloth and his cowering acceptance of reality; namely, going out in public is unpleasant when you have been rude and abusive to so many people.

In all their glory, here are the Chapman emails, replete with clunky prose, veiled threats, childish taunts, and hysterical claims all rolled into a fat slug of PDFs. You will not get far before your head hurts, I promise.








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The best medicine

April 2, 2018 § 8 Comments

This past Friday was “Grandpa & Me” day. They dropped off my grandson with his push bike, which I put in the back of the car.

We drove a short way down to the mall and walked around. He found a bug on the pavement and picked it up. It was a dead bug. He squatted on his haunches and looked at it. Then he set it carefully back down on the pavement and stood up, looking at it, waiting for it to move. It didn’t. He squatted down again and nudged it with his finger but the dead bug still refused to move. He stood back up and then squashed it with his foot. That was a double-dead bug.

We walked around the corner of the Rite-Aid towards the Starbucks. There was a long, narrow planted area. He walked off into it. Too late, I saw it was planted with young roses, bursting with thorns. Somehow he didn’t get scratched. I hurried to grab him but we were obviously playing chase. He ran along the edge of the planted area, stumbled, and fell into the warm dirt.

I brushed him off. While I was brushing him off he saw a red berry and picked it up. He moved it around carefully between his fingers. It was smooth and bright red. He put it up to his nose, moved it down towards his mouth, then looked at me.

“Better not,” I said.

I reached down for the berry but he claimed a Pyrrhic victory by crushing it between his fingers. Clear juice with tiny seeds ran out. He spread them onto his palms and then onto his shirt, where they mixed in with the remnants of the dirt.

After walking around the mall we drove up to del Cerro Park. I took out his Strider push bike. He jumped up and down, so happy was he to see that I’d brought it along.

He got on the Strider and raced away. The sidewalk was slightly uphill. He pushed and ran-swam his little legs until the top of his head was covered in sweat. Then he turned around and pushed and ran-swam back down the sidewalk, wheeing and laughing.

As he got near me, I spread my legs and he shot between them. “Through the gate!” I yelled. He laughed gleefully, raced along for a little, then turned around.

“Through the gate!” I said again, and we did it over and over, so many times that I lost count and he was tired. He pointed his bike for another run, got up to speed, lost control, and had his first bicycle-falling-off incident. He fell slowly to the side, came off the bike, and did a little half-roll. The second he stopped rolling, he started crying.

“Oh, no!” I said, scooping him up. He was unscathed on the outside, but the inside needed a lot of hugging and cooing. I had brought ample supplies of both in the diaper bag. He did one more run but it wasn’t fun any more.

We got back in the car and returned to the mall, which has a Baskin-Robbins. He got a single scoop of vanilla that was almost as big as his head. But what he really liked was the chocolate-covered cone with the colorful sprinkles.

Best medicine for a bike fall, ever.



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Bile-and-spit flavored Donut

April 1, 2018 § 3 Comments

Alex Barnes and teammate Ryan Ung of Santa Monica Subaru came out yesterday to say “hello” on the Donut Ride, and they said it in a very mean, spiteful, nasty way.

The pre-ride timber check had all the markings of a ghastly ride, as it included Mark Tripp, Mathieu Brousseau, and some dude on a fugly green Specialized along with Attila the Hun, JP Jones, JP Baby Seal, Kevin Phillips, G3, David Steinhafel, Ramon Ramos, and Chris Tregillis, who missed the start and had to chase one of the fastest Donuts in memory … and he caught on!

There was a slew of teammates from Team Lizard Collectors and various other species of animal, all vying for the impossible honor of getting to the radar domes first. Josh Dorfman, Josh Alverson, and Lauren Mulwitz lined up along with Super Old Guy and Asskicker Rich Mull, but no Derek Brauch. Many riders were  finishing the San Dimas stage race from last weekend and either had a score to settle or wanted to confirm their awesomeness in the race that truly matters, i.e. the group ride wankfest.

It was the middle of race season, real and artificial testosterone levels were high, the Ronde was on Sunday, and it was going to be hideous.

Coming out of Malaga Cove I glanced at the traffic control speed warning sign, which said “28,” a speed that was clearly false because Mathieu came around me about 3 mph faster. The great thing about not riding with a power meter, speedometer, or Strava is I can make everything up. “It was so fucking hard” sounds a heck of a lot better than “175 watts.”

In a flash, Mathieu and I were dropped by Alx Bns and Ram-Ram Ramon. The field caught us although we didn’t catch Alx-Ram-Ram; it had been single from the bottom of the Malaga Cove climb and would stay that way to the bottom of the Switchbacks, about 40 minutes later. That’s unusual on the Donut, where there’s almost always a fat phalanx at the back affording shelter.

Mathieu finally caught Alex and Ramon, and kept drilling it all the way through Lunada Bay and then to Golden Cove. People were hanging on like charted pieces of meat about to drop off the spit and into the flame; none dared come around, while several realized it was time for their morning coffee break and went elsewhere.

Mathieu single-filed some more until Alex and Ryan took over, along with a couple of huge efforts by JP Baby Seal that shelled even more riders and eventually shelled Baby Seal as well. I have never seen it single file from the very beginning all the way to the bottom of the Switchbacks. People were coming unhitched right, left, and center. At the bottom of the climb I was fourth wheel, behind Alx, Ryan, and Ugly Bike Dude whose name is Steve and whose former full-time occupation was “bike racer.”

I dropped back to seek more shelter as we climbed only to find that there was no more “back.” Mark Tripp was the last guy in our little community until Ryan took one last monster pull then swung over for Alx to attack. Only Steve could follow; I’m not sure he ever broke a sweat. Attila and Kyle Jackson came up, and then we formed the first chase group with Ryan, Kyle, Mark, and Attila. It was Sad Face Day for me as I took stock and realized I’d never beaten any of these guys on a climb. Oh, well.

On the worst part of the Switchbacks, Yasuko was hunkered down on the side of the road shooting pictures. Check out the faces! The most embarrassing one is where I’m hanging on for dear life and Ryan’s MOUTH ISN’T EVEN OPEN. You suck, dude.

Ryan, who had been hammering since Trump, finally swung over, which sucked because his pace was somewhat endurable; I was okay hanging onto the back. Then Kyle took over, giving Ryan a rest, and I was suddenly not okay. Somehow I hung on; Ryan then jumped, I went with him, and we shelled the other three. I hung on until just before Crest, when Ryan dumped me like a load of rotten potatoes.

Attila caught me about a third of the way up Crest and towed me to the top, where he sprinted for a glorious fourth place.

After that, everyone wanted an easy spin up Western so JP Jones and I laid into it, squeaking through an extremely ripe orange light and then going full blast. JP melted on Better Homes, then caught me again on Crest. We traded pulls until Alex and Steve caught us; I jumped on and survived until just before the end of the flat spot on Crest, when Steve pulled so hard that all I could do was drift off the back as my heart spiked along with my eyes, kidneys, and liver. So, third …

Heading off to the Hawthorne Sprunt, Mathieu, smarting, had attacked early with Heavy D., JP Seal, and Steinhafel. They opened a big gap thanks to Heavy D.’s superior gravitational skills and vicious smashing. Alx chased all the way to the bottom of the
Glass Church. I attacked and neglected to check who was on my wheel because I never check who’s on my wheel because IDGAF. This time it mattered. I caught the break and gapped the leaders but was then countered by Steve and Ryan and couldn’t get on, same as you can’t “get on” when you’re passed by a jet taking off the deck of an aircraft carrier. They rode away. I was alone over the second bump, then put my head down and pedaled hard but without hope.

That’s when Daniel Park, Heavy D., Steinhafel, and Alex caught me. The other chasers were back in Riverside County. After the light at Terranea we had about 200m between us and Ryan/Steve and they were hauling. As we started up the last roller before the sprunt, I told Daniel Park, the 17-year-old kid who sprints like a runaway train, “Go now!” and he launched the attack from hell. I barely latched on, he caught and dropped Ryan and Steve, then drove it to the sprint which I thought he might get until Heavy D. and Alex chased us down and passed us.

Alx finished so far ahead it was silly.

On Zumaya I was last. However, I was first to the fridge here at home, which is way more important than being first anywhere else, ever. The ride was an order of magnitude faster today than last week, which sounds so much more awesome than having actual data like speed, time, you know, facts. What can’t be quantified, though, was the fun. It was crazy fun, to be this old and creaky and still loving riding my bike this much.

Hope you had a great ride yesterday, too!



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Crashing the Crash

March 31, 2018 § 6 Comments

One of the craziest and most infamous rides in Los Angeles is the Marathon Crash Ride. It is held in the wee hours of the morning before the L.A. Marathon, when the marshals have closed off the city roads for the run the next day.

Thousands of bikes take over the streets for a few short miles, and it is epic. Joann Zwagerman, friend and Big Orange teammate, led a crew out to the Crash Race for the third year, and was kind enough to share this report:

“This was my third year doing the LA marathon bicycle crash ride. The first year, 2016,  I organized about eight people. It was drizzling, foggy, cold and damp. We were late because we had some mechanicals and the feeder ride we latched onto dropped almost their whole group. We adopted them and towed them to the start. We missed the start and had the entire road to ourselves. The whole experience is seeing the mass. Different people, different ages, and everyone on different types of bikes. We were still blown away by being able to ride eight abreast down the middle of Hollywood Boulevard with not one car around us.

“The second year, 2017, we met at The Kettle in Manhattan Beach and there were about sixteen of us. This year, we were in front of the entire group, dodging fixies and breathing in fumes from the police cars that were pacing us. It was stop-and-go and we didn’t really get to see what I felt this ride was all about, which is the people. Not being able to see the critical mass behind us was a huge missed opportunity. Who cares about being in front unless you’re racing? Not I!

“I had actually decided not to do the Crash Ride this year. Actually, until Friday night, I had forgotten I was organizing a feeder ride to the event. Thank god that someone who doesn’t do social media texted and asked me what the plans were! That is so Franzi Utter, the sweetest, cutest woman ever, asked me to do it again because she missed it last year. How could I say no to that girl and her pretty face? Of course I was in. I put out a Strava event on the FDR Facebook page and we had about twenty-five people show up at 1:00 AM at The Kettle.

“Five people were late and had to chase. All but one of them made the feeder ride and the others met us at the start. JP Seal rode all the way down from Santa Monica and was right on time! Pointy fucking sharp people! I will wait on most rides but not on a ride that leaves at 1:00 AM.

“As we rode down Vista Del Mar, I noticed that a young man, sixteen years old and about my son’s age, had the smallest rear light I had ever seen. As a mother hen, I yelled at him, “Turn your light on!”  Then I got nervous. He reached back and was not keeping a straight line. I told him to please wait until we got to the bridge so as not to crash out fifty people. I yelled at the group to stop at the bridge. “What is your name?” I asked. I have memory issues so I already knew I would never remember his name because it wasn’t Bob or Steve or Jack or any one syllable word. “I will just call you Child,” I told him. “You will be known to me as Child for the rest of the night. Now turn on your tiny little goddamn microscopic light.”

“It was dead, of course, not that it would have made any difference given its tininess. I gave him one of my three honking 100-lumen taillights and felt confident that he had a proper light, as the people behind him were wincing. His dad thanked me and then we were off. I rode behind Child the entire way east and lectured him about the importance of lights, not just at night but also in the day. Justin Okubo, who I also call Child because I have another child his age, told Child II to try and get used to my motherly lectures. He said that I treat him the same way even though he isn’t a child anymore, he is 19! Lol! I told Child II if he promised to ride with this light on in the day, it would be my present to him. So he promised. Hope he’s not a little liar like most 16-year-olds making promises to strangers.

“Funny thing, this year, my new pointy-sharp attitude was not appreciated. We were an hour and a half early! We had no mechanicals, no flats, and a bit of a tailwind. That’s what you get for being on time–you get there early. We ended up waiting in the freezing cold for 1.5 hours. We found a Fatburger with no bathroom and that just wouldn’t do. I and another went searching for a more suitable establishment with flushing privileges. We found a 24-hour Subway that was warm and had bathrooms. We waited there until 3:45 AM. I’m sure they loved us.

“We rolled out and instantly started shivering, and it was going to get even colder as the night went on. Heading towards the start, even before we turned the corner, we could smell the reefer and hear all the people. Over a thousand strong and we were approaching them head-on. It was an amazing sight, one that if you’ve never seen before, you should. It’s not like any other bike ride. Not everyone was in a kit or wearing a helmet, by a long shot. There were so many different kinds of bikes. If I could have taken more photos, I would have, but I can barely drink from my water bottle let alone take pictures while I ride, let alone do it in the midst of a thousand stoned crazy people on bikes.

“This is a ride where I would never not have both hands on the bars at all times. There were all-skill sets and no-skill sets, and they were all mish-mashed together. There were people who were high and reckless, and I didn’t want to be crashed out. Amazingly, I didn’t see a single person die.

“I made the speech beforehand so everyone knew what to expect. If you wanted to ride in the front you were welcome to, but you’d miss the view and all the cool outfits and bikes. If you wanted to ride in the back, you were free to, but there might be carnage. All the points I touched on above were discussed.

“I decided to ride in the middle with my German girl, Franzi. We’d all meet at the end of the ride, and I begged everyone to be careful. Franzi and I had the perfect spot. We saw the sea of critical mass in front of us. We smelt the burning rubber and reefer of fixies going downhill, we saw people dressed in next to nothing while we were wishing for skiwear, and we rode handlebar to handlebar calling out hazards and not letting anyone wheel chop us. It was perfect except for the cold, which hit 40.7 at the low, in other words, it was horrible.

“The marshals seemed to have shortened the course this year; it was over quickly. We regrouped and headed back to the South Bay. We had all planned for breakfast but everyone just wanted to go home and get warm, or at least get to a point where they could feel their teeth again.

“The next day I felt as I had the year before and the year before that. I felt like I had pulled an all-nighter, but instead of having done it at work or over a pile of books, I’d done it on a bike. I was groggy and in a fog most of the day. Will I do it again next year?  I say no right now but I probably will. In 2019, though, I’ll take more photos and wear a puffy coat!”

If you’d like to read the article from LA Weekly last year, here it is:

And if you have some time to kill you can watch this video from Joey Cooney, it’s here:



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Passing it on

March 30, 2018 § 8 Comments

The biggest benefit of having my wife ride is learning that I actually know something about cycling and, more amazingly, that I can teach it. I had a conversation with my friend Nancy Linn the other day, she of the PV Bike Chicks, and we talked about doing a basic skills clinic for a small group of riders. The PV Bike Chicks have been riding on the Hill for almost a decade now, and they are a great example of cyclists who are also wonderful members of the community.

Seven members of the “Early Bird” crew showed up at Malaga Cove Plaza and we dropped down to the parking lot by the church to start our clinic. Our goal was to work on one aspect of riding that Yasuko and I have been working on together, riding even-wheeled or, put negatively, “not half-wheeling.”

Half-wheeling is endemic to cycling; you’d be amazed how few people have ever even heard of it, let alone know what it is, and that includes a lot of “racers.” Yet riding even-wheeled is a critical component of good cycling skills because it teaches a whole bunch of mission-critical skills in a single activity. Even-wheeled riding means:

  • You are forced to use peripheral vision to keep track of your neighbor’s wheel.
  • You are forced to pay attention to someone other than yourself.
  • You are forced to develop the skills of making micro, fine adjustments to position and line.
  • You are forced to ride closer.
  • You are forced to improve your reaction time.

We practiced for about an hour and the results were stupendous. My students learned a lot, but as any teacher will tell you, the mark of a good lesson is whether the teacher learned at least as much as the students.

I did! And to make matters even better, when we finished they graciously gave me a coffee gift card. I think that’s what they call #winning.



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