Darth Vader wins again!

May 29, 2018 § 3 Comments

When Chris Froome dashed away for a little 80 km solo breakaway and “pulled a Landis” to ride himself into the pink jersey at the Giro, it seemed a bit much, even for the severely disabled #fakesport of professional cycling.

I mean, a guy who is currently in the death throes of a doping investigation that will certainly find him guilty of cheating, suddenly vaulting himself atop the Tour of Italy, from whence he will be de-throned once his doping positive is upheld … doesn’t anyone see how this will play out?

Of course they do, but like an alcoholic who knows exactly which gutter he’s going to wind up in when he takes the first drink, pro cycling can’t help itself. So Darth Froome will not only win and then be stripped of his Giro crown, but he will also win the Turdy France and have that jersey torn off his back as well. This will inspire generations of parents to say to their children, “Don’t you fucking dare start bike racing.”

So that at least is a benefit.

After being stripped of his jerseys and publicly humiliated, some second-place schmo who didn’t dope as well for as long will be awarded Froome’s victories and say, “I’d rather not have won it this way,” when what he means is “I’m sure glad that Darth got busted and not me,” followed by “Where’s my check?”

Cynicism is the new optimism

Darth isn’t to be blamed for vacuuming up the spoils and sashaying onto the next grand tour. This salbutamol thing is vexing, to be sure, but it goes with the territory, and better to win a couple of tours and have them taken away than to stay home and not ever win them at all. And who knows? Tyler’s vanishing twin theory may actually be proven true this time, exonerating Darth fully.

Darth’s ride on Stage 19 in this Giro was summed up by Sean Kelly  in one word: “Unbelievable.” It’s the most that he could have said without being sued for defamation.

But Froome, laughing all the way to Milan, made no bones about the fact that pro cycling fans are the stupidest humans alive. Refusing to share his power data, which would have shown how his Stage 19 performance really occurred, Darth instead said that “It was interesting to see yesterday I made up most of my time on the descents by the looks of it.”

Ah, yes, of course. He beat the world’s best time trialists and climbers on a mountainous stage at the end of the Giro by going downhill faster than anyone else. Who needs to see actual power data to confirm that? Not Froome, the maniacal marginal-gains data wonk, that’s for sure. “No, I’m not looking at the computer, I’m riding as hard as I can.”

Yes, old school, Eddy Merckx style, exactly what Team Vader is best known for.

Fortunately, Froome and Brailsford’s Trumpian “offense always” approach is already lined up and spit-polished for the Tour. According to Froome,  “I’m certainly planning to go there and give it everything.”

And by everything, I’m sure he means, uh, everything.

END

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Truthy

May 28, 2018 § 3 Comments

I got a text after the race:

Friend: How’d you do?

Me: I raced hard and lost.

Friend: First written account ever of a non-victorious masters racer that didn’t include an excuse.

END

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Meet Craig Miller

May 27, 2018 § 1 Comment

I don’t know where Craig lives. I don’t know what he does. I don’t know if he’s married. I don’t know if he has kids. I don’t know if he has grandkids. I don’t know what kind of car he drives. I don’t know how long he’s been riding. I don’t know how much he trains. I don’t know where he rides. I don’t know what kind of workouts he does. I don’t know how tall he is. I don’t know how much he weighs. I don’t know what kind of food he likes. I don’t know what other languages he speaks. I don’t know what books he reads. I don’t know if he drinks beer, whiskey, wine, or plain old tap water. I don’t know what t.v. shows he likes. I don’t know what movies he watches. I don’t know what music he listens to. I don’t know his shoe size. I don’t know his glove size. I don’t know his hat size. I don’t know his inseam. I don’t know how big around his neck is. I don’t know what kind of computer he uses. I don’t know if he has a laptop. I don’t know what mobile phone brand he has. I don’t know if he’s on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I don’t know if he has any other bikes. I don’t know what helmet he uses. I don’t know if he’s on Strava. I don’t know if he uses a power meter. I don’t know if he uses an HRM. I don’t know his FTP. I don’t know his max wattage. I don’t know how many RPMs he does in a sprint. I don’t know if he’s mechanical or electrical or wireless. I don’t know his pedal system. I don’t know what wheels he rides. I don’t know if he’s a good wrench. I don’t know if he has a bike stand in his garage. I don’t know if he has a garage. I don’t know if he has a dog. I don’t know if he has a cat. I don’t know if he likes animals. I don’t know if he’s a Trump Republican. I don’t know if he’s an Obama Democrat.

But I do know this.

If he lines up against you in a crit, he’s probably going to win.

Like he did, again, today.

END

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Masters of the coffeeshop

May 25, 2018 § 12 Comments

When I was a kid we didn’t have a television, so getting to watch cartoons at my friends’ houses was an especial treat. When my kids were kids, we didn’t have a television either, so getting to watch any television at all was an especial treat. Now that one of my kids has kids, she doesn’t let them watch television, which is easy because they don’t have one.

I do, however, have a laptop that I take to court and to depositions, and sometimes when I travel, and a laptop is pretty much a television thanks to YouTube. About a year ago my eldest grandson started sneaking up into bed with me after they had come over for dinner, and I began putting on television shows for him. I am a subversive grandpa.

We started with Timmy Time, which of course wasn’t around when I was a kid, and then for a long time we watched nothing but Speed Racer, the old ones. His favorite was The Mammoth Car, parts one and two, and we watched them together over and over and over.

We didn’t actually watch, he did. I sat next to him leaned up against my prop pillow and read. The first couple of times I watched Speed Racer it was nostalgic but after that it was just stupid. Television was stupid then and it is stupid now, but sometimes, I’ve learned, stupid is okay, especially when you can sneak in a good book.

Recently, my grandson graduated from Speed Racer to He-Man, and the Masters of the Universe. I only vaguely knew about this because by the time it was produced in the early 80’s, I was at college, t.v.-less, and buried in my books about philosophy and history. The only reason I knew about it at all was because one of my riding buddies, Spanky, was an ardent He-Man fan at age 24, and would occasionally sing the theme song on rides.

The collapsing of the American mind

A major audience for YouTube cartoons is grown men. Say whatever you want about the profundity of modern animation and how it “isn’t just for children anymore,” but don’t say it to me. He-Man, Speed Racer, and their ilk are a wasteland. And society knows it. I’ve yet to meet an adult who admits to kicking back after work for a few episodes of the Smurfs. Better to admit you’re an opioid addict, a vaper, or a time triallist.

Yesterday I had to drive to Bakersfield to go to court on a bike case, and I got there pretty early, with more than an hour to spare, so I pulled into a crowded Starbucks to get a coffee and answer a few emails. There was only one stool available up against the window, along a narrow bar, the kind where if you open up your computer everyone can see what’s on it.

My laptop is pretty new, it’s an Apple, and I’m a PC dude, which is one reason I don’t use it for much besides cartoons with my grandson. I’m not comfortable with it and don’t know all the controls well.

I sat down, opened up the screen, and logged on.

Unlike my PC, which is slower than dental surgery, the Mac is crazy fast. You enter the password and boom! You are up and running.

What up and ran, unfortunately, was the last thing that had been playing, which was the theme song to the next episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, where I’d had to turn off the laptop so my grandson could go home. And of course it was on at almost-full volume.

Everyone turned and stared at the dude in a black suit with a leather briefcase, looking oh-so professional and ready to collect scalps in court as he fumbled with the laptop screaming a moronic kiddie show. A couple of people snickered. And of course I couldn’t find the fucking volume switch, and of course the little “x” where you close a screen on a Mac is different from a PC, so enough seconds went by that the whole Starbucks got to take it in.

I don’t often blush, but I did then. The guy on the next stool was looking at me with a smirk.

“It was playing for my grandson last night,” I said, loud enough that people around me could hear.

“Whatever, man,” the smirking guy said. “I don’t judge.”

END

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On the rivet (Raid)

May 24, 2018 § 4 Comments

Miserably hard.

Crazy fun.

Gorgeous roads.

Spine-crunching climbs.

Lung-emptying vistas.

Dirt roads.

Five-star coffee.

Racer Five.

Tough as nails riders.

Low water crossings.

Dazzling countryside

Carless dirt tracks.

Rolling country roads.

Oceanside.

Crisp mountain air.

Dickstomping competition.

Camaraderie.

Humor.

Familiar faces.

Fresh meat.

Grizzled veterans.

MTB wizards.

Road warriors.

Full support.

Sock lottery.

Challenge.

Accomplishment,

Luck.

Destiny.

Self-made fate.

Exhilaration.

Fear.

Unforgettable.

In 2017 I got to experience all this and a thousand adjectives more. It’s all awaiting you on the 2018 Rivet Raid. Don’t miss it.

END

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908A9746-Edit

Copyright 2017 Steve Cohen, Used with Permission

TLC strikes (itself) again!

May 23, 2018 § 7 Comments

Two weeks off. Fresh legs. Telo start. Small field, 20-ish. Hitters King Harold, Frexit, Brexit, EA Sports, Inc., Baby Seal, Heavy D., Medium Banana, Chase.

Heavy D. Lap 2 launch. 4 riders. Brought back. Stayed towards front. Pulled through. Ten minutes in field relaxed. Frexit chilling. Greensox and Heavy D. at the back. EA Sports, Inc. watching. Baby Seal flapping flippers.

Chad attacks. Followed. Took turns, him into the headwind, me on the tailwind. Good gap four laps. Felt the chase. Heard a noise while on the front. Never looked, just sprinted. Right reaction; Frexit. Barely grabbed on.

Full Frexit death mode. Hang on for dear life. See rear shadow. It’s Chase. Chad got him to within striking distance, Chase closed, Chad couldn’t get across. Another lap. Joined by EA Sports, Inc. Glad I’ve got teammate Chase with me.

Chase sandbags with baby pulls. Break established. Frexit and EA Sports, Inc. not pulling hard, thinking about the sprunt. I fear getting caught. Keep digging hard. Chase sandbags.

Five to go. King Harold, Baby Seal, Medium Banana six seconds back. EA Sports, Inc. senses the chase. Revs it up. Frexit throws down monster pulls. Can barely come through. Gap reopens. Chase loading more sandbags than a citizen volunteer crew before a hurricane.

One to go. Headwind section. EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit eyeing each other. Chase loading more sandbags for the sprunt.

Slowly roll away. Gap. Head down. Go almost all-in. Gap grows through chicane. Out of chicane, might stick this one.

Chase realizes teammate is up the road. EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit shrug. We ain’t chasing Wanky just so the other guy can outsprunt me. Chase sees teammates, does the arithmetic:

Do nothing = Teammate wins

Chase = Probably catch teammate, lose to EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit.

Therefore, third and fourth for TLC better than a win.

Chase chases.

EA Sports, Inc., Frexit laugh. Everyone knows they can count on Chase to chase.

Chase chases.

Chase catches at the last turn.

EA Sports, Inc. and Frexit leave Chase like overturned manure wagon in ditch. Chase beats Wanky for third. TLC strikes (itself) again!

END

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Local motion

May 22, 2018 § 16 Comments

I have a friend named Nancy. She rides bikes. She is a super friendly lady. Nancy always smiles at you, compliments you, has something nice to say. Weirder still, it’s sincere.

Occasionally I will do a bike seminar with her and her friends and she always finds some way to thank me. Sometimes it’s a coffee card, sometimes it’s a treat at a coffee shop, and most recently it was a gift card to an Italian cafe that specializes in … coffee.

Nancy knows what I like.

Down at the grass roots

Thing is, Nancy knows what everyone likes, and what everyone likes is a good word. It’s funny how a good word here and a good word there can make good things happen. For instance, if I asked you to name the biggest bike club in Los Angeles you might say it was Velo Club La Grange, or Team Lizard Collectors, or Beach Cities Cycling Club, or Team Gargantua, but you would be wrong.

The honkingest bike club in Los Angeles is almost certainly the PV Bike Chicks, with over 900 members. I’ve totally made up the statement that they’re the biggest, but you have to admit, 900 is massive.

How did it get that way? I’m sure I don’t know. But part of it has to do with the vibe that Nancy is famous for. It’s the vibe of inclusiveness and friendliness. In fact, all of the PV Bike Chicks I’ve ever met are that way. Chicks on bikes just want to have fun, apparently.

I’ve noticed something else about my friend Nancy. She’s always trying to figure out how to help local businesses get a toehold.

How can I help?

Remember Steve Bowen, the wonderful man who ran the PV Bicycle Center? Nancy was an ardent supporter of his. The new bike shop over on Deep Valley that opened up a little while ago? Nancy makes sure everyone knows about it. The little cafe next to the PV Ranch Market? Yep, Nancy makes sure to patronize it and introduce other folks to it, along with the other businesses there.

So when she gave me a $25 gift card to a new coffee shop called Caffe Tre Venezie that has opened up on PCH and Madison, we went over to check it out. As you might expect, the moment we showed the owner our gift card, he smiled broadly. “You must be friends of Nancy!”

Alessandro is Italian, and his cappuccino is sublime. The gelato, equally so. There was even a dude hunched over an Italian textbook, practicing phrases with Alessandro in between customers. The coffee and gelato were great, but the vibe was even better. And of course it always feels good to thumb your nose at Starbucks.

Being there made me think about how powerful one person can be when she’s out there trying to do good, saying good things about people, supporting their businesses, doing what she can to make the hard work of entrepreneurship just a little bit easier.

What if everyone were that way?

END

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