Time trailing

April 16, 2017 § 22 Comments

There is a time in every cyclist’s life when they realize they suck at time trailing. This is usually right after the first one. If there’s ever a second one, the realization of the first is always greatly enhanced. Quitting typically ensues, or worse, triathlons.

I remember my first time trail, the Texas state TT in 1984. Mike Adams won it, 40k in just over 48 minutes. It was incredible. He went on to get 4th at the national TT that year, racing against some of the best riders in the golden age of U.S. cycling.

Billy Riffe had told me beforehand, “Don’t go out too hard, but it’s your first TT so you’ll for sure go out too hard.” I remember my time. It was a 1:04. I flew the first ten minutes then spattered all over the pavement and got passed by my minute man, 2-minute man, 3-minute man, 4-minute man, and a bunch of stopped-counting-men. Those were in the days when Bob Lowe and Terry Wittenberg were absolute crushers in the time trail.

Mike Adams had super trick TT equipment: a Campy freewheel and two Campy rims. The front had the miraculously low spoke count of under-20, and I think the rear was 28. His 22-pound steel bike probably weighed a pound less than everyone else’s. What an unfair advantage.

Aero bars hadn’t been invented, nor, for that matter, had aero. Everyone hunched over the bars and pedaled furiously. That was it. And it was called the race of truth not because you could spend $15,000 and purchase speed, but because the only meter of your efforts was you.

Time trailing was an art, and I, like almost everyone else, was playing with finger paints on butcher paper while the good riders were painting oil portraits on canvas. If you wanted to time trail well you had to master the urge to go out hard, and meter your output based on perceived exertion, which is a fancy way of saying “know how much you hurt and how long you could continue hurting at that level before blowing.”

What was so vicious about time trailing was that the only way you could get that knowledge was by doing a ton of time trails, which meant spending much time unhappy and alone, and snotified.

Nowadays time trailing isn’t an art. It is first and foremost a shopping experience because no matter how good you are, if you don’t buy aero you will go much slower than even much weaker people. It is secondarily a digital experience because nowhere in sport is a power meter more critical than in a time trail. When you know your FTP (and you can’t time trail well without knowing it), the power meter sets the absolute limit as to how hard to pedal.

It goes without saying that the use, care, and feeding of a power meter and its software require intensive study, an Internet coach, and lots of time spent in a chair, unlike days of yore when it required lots of time spent in a saddle, drooling blood.

Of course there are a thousand things that can get in between the power meter and your brain to gum up your performance, but no successful time trailist today can succeed without learning to use a power meter. The best assessor of perceived exertion will never approximate the accuracy of the strain gauges. Money and computers don’t guarantee success, but their absence guarantees failure.

Knowing I’m a terrible time trailist, I made up my mind to do the state time trail on May 29. And before doing it, I decided to practice. But since time trail practice is like training in the basement, only more embarrassing because people can see you, I invited some friends to join me.

And you know what? We all sucked pretty badly, but it was hella fun! The Colquhouns a/k/a The Brothers Grimm, Patrick F., Paul C., Delia P., Kristie F., and I went out to Westchester Parkway and did a 60-minute time trail.

Kristie and I went first, PP&D went a minute later, and The Brothers Grimm a minute after PP&D. The Brothers Grimm caught us well before we finished the first lap, but over the course of the hour we clawed them back, only to have them finish another couple of minutes up. PP&D had a great time, working out the kinks in team time trailing.

It was really fun having several riders out on the course, chasing and being chased. Afterwards we rode over to the new coffee shop in Manhattan Beach, Nikau Kai Waterman Shop and Cafe, and enjoyed some amazing coffee, an amazing vibe, and a fun debrief. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Time trailing sucks.
  2. Time trailing is hard as nails even when you suck at it.
  3. Time trailing with your friends is awesome.
  4. Talking about time trailing over great coffee is so much fun that we’re going to do it again. Join us?

20170415_tt_practice

END

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I’m not judging

April 15, 2017 § 2 Comments

I’m evaluating.

Different people obviously enjoy different things about riding bikes, and you can tell a lot about what they like by the rides they do. Here are my rides from last week:

  1. Saturday Donut beatdown.
  2. Sunday 60-minute TTT practice with Kristie.
  3. Tuesday Telo fake crit with real vomit pieces.
  4. Thursday Flog intervals.

I’m doing TTT practice again today and no matter how I look at those rides about the only thing they have in common is that they aren’t any fun. It’s obvious I don’t like fun, or spoken another way, not having any fun is a lot of fun.

The Flog ride that we do on Thursdays is the least fun of any ride I have ever done. It’s in its third year and I wish I had a quarter for every person who has done it once. This past Thursday I felt awful, as I hadn’t recovered from Telo. The reason the Flog ride is so bad is that it is six hilly 5-6 minute intervals, which is not fun, but since you do it with a group, each lap is a mini-race.

Because we’re bike racers we keep score in our heads each lap, which is silly. We regroup in the parking lot after each interval, descend a twisty road to the start, and do it all over again. Everybody keeps score and strategizes how to win the interval, or at least how to delay the droppage as long as possible. Like I said, silly.

The fastest lap times ever recorded were when Daniel Holloway and two of his teammates came out and did it. I love it when people say “Holloway’s just a sprinter.” So ignorant. That guy, in addition to being clean as a whistle, is good at virtually every aspect of bike racing. Stathis the Wily Greek did the Flog ride religiously before he retired at the unripe age of 30-something. He won every lap almost every time, including the horrible 13-14% grade up La Cuesta, the climb we do the last lap on and where we take a glory group photo at the end.

Some people found it demoralizing to get smashed every single lap by Stathis, but I didn’t. I love that kind of riding because it is so real. You don’t dangle in between delusion and reality, you get reality force-fed down your throat. Stathis was so much better than you even on his worst day and your best day. Like the Alabama rednecks used to say about Bear Bryant, “He can take his’n and beat your’n, or take your’n and beat his’n.”

Most people don’t like that, I guess.

Anyway, I felt awful from the start. Greg Seyranian’s fitness is really coming around; he blitzed us on Lap 1. Then he started hard at the bottom of Lap 2 and led out the whole lap, and then dropped us at the end. Then on Lap Three he led out the lap and I sat on and managed to pass him at the top. Lap Four he led it out again, and Josh Dorfman uncorked a nasty attack that no one could follow. Lap Five Mike Hines attacked us all on the mini-wall past the stop sign. I hung on somehow. Mike is a masters world champion on the track. He has these accelerations that just break you.

On Lap Six I quit and went home, which I hardly ever do. I had a deposition later that morning, but that’s just an excuse. The reality is I apparently had had a little bit too much fun.

20170413_flog

201702_flog

You can see how steep the finish on La Cuesta is, plus Kevin Nix staring at his front wheel, Denis Faye looking dazed. Only Casey is smiling but he’s always smiling.

END

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#Frexit

April 14, 2017 § 10 Comments

Another frustrating Telo Tuesday. Not that that’s unusual. They have been consecutively frustrating now for about ten years. Not much reason for that to change.

Evens Stievenart, our adopted French hammer, is one of the best riders in California and one of the top marathon-endurance riders in the world. He won the 24 Hours of LeMans last year, bike version, and has his sights trained on 2017, too. Glad I’m not the target.

He showed up at Telo, our Tuesday night worlds, and said he was very tired. “I’m very tired,” he said. That didn’t mean anyone else had a chance of winning, it meant he would win with different tactics.

His usual tactic is to attack into the wind each lap. Finally people get tired of riding in the gutter and they give up. Then he rides off by himself or with one or two others. Then he beats them in the sprint.

My problem is that I’m not fast enough to follow the crazy hard attacks when the good guys are fresh, and I’m not strong enough to break them when they’re tired. My bandwidth is straight up mediocre.

Derek Brauch was there; he’s never an instigator, that’s not his style. Instead he’s a conservative. He doesn’t waste energy, reads the race, and invariably goes with the winning move. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him miss it at Telo except for one race last year when he said, “Go with Cowan if he attacks from the gun.”

Cowan attacked from the gun, I didn’t go with him, and “Head Down James” stayed away solo for the entire sixty minutes. The races are always harder and better when Velo Club LaGrange shows up, that’s for sure.

Last week I had followed every one of Evens’s attacks, about twelve of them. He finally got tired of me shadowing him, sat up and drifted to the back. Then he attacked on the final turn and smoked everybody in the finish, everyone who hadn’t crashed, that is. Afterwards he texted me, “You followed me so much I almost called the police for stalking.”

He has a good sense of humor.

This week I had crazy good legs, which is always a bad sign. It means I will squander them in pointless attacks, which I did, starting with an attack in the neutral zone with Michael Smith. We got caught after a few laps, then he broke a seatpost and was done.

I kept attacking but Evens and Derek were filing their nails. When I sat up for a second, after about thirty minutes, Evens attacked and took Derek with him. We never saw them again. Evens did most of the work then outsmarted and outsprinted Derek in the finish. I don’t know how you outsmart Derek. He’s the savviest guy out there, period.

No one wanted to chase because, I don’t know. Aaron Wimberley was there and he had a teammate up the road. Eric Anderson was there but he wasn’t going to chase the break so Aaron could sprint him fresh. Josh Alverson would normally have bridged solo but not today. In most races you know when the winning move goes because everyone kind of heaves a collective sigh. The fight goes out of the group.

With four laps to go I thought we had three so I figured I could at least give my teammates a three-lap leadout. I wondered at the end of lap three why no one was coming around. “Dang, maybe they can’t.”

But of course they could. I saw Emily holding the one-to-go card and was gassed. I probably made a d’oh-ing sound. They kicked me out the back on the headwind section and I finished last. I learned again that if I have good legs I should ride at 80 percent and wait.

It also occurred to me that if you have to learn the same lesson over and over and over, maybe you aren’t really learning.

END

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A Toast to Steve Tilford

April 13, 2017 § 2 Comments

_T7O9135

Photo by Phil Beckman, (c) 2015

An evening to share memories of a life rich with love, happiness, humility, and compassion. His drive to be the best brought out the best in all of us.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cider Gallery
810 Pennsylvania
Lawrence, Kansas

5:30-9:30 pm
Open House

Small plates, beverages, and of course, pie!

Please RSVP to Stacie by April 17
sgrossfeld@louisvillebones.com

END

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Hired Guns: Part 8

April 12, 2017 § 12 Comments

Part 8: The Interchickens

Anonymity is a powerful thing, and sometimes it’s a force for good. The Federalist Papers were written anonymously, and the numerous hacks that have exposed public and private corruption in our own century couldn’t have been done except under cloak of secrecy.

But anonymity’s power can be used for evil just as easily for good. Threats and harassment from nameless adversaries can punish the innocent and allow the person hiding behind the mask to behave in ways deserving the most extraordinary opprobrium. The most famous of these was probably the troll Michael Brutsch, who, despite his online bravado, became a whimpering sop when he learned he would be outed as a troll and purveyor of hate speech: “When Chen informed [Michael Brutsch] about the impending exposé, he pleaded with Chen not to publish it because he was concerned about the potential impact on his employment and finances, noting that his wife was disabled and he had a mortgage to pay. He also expressed concern that he would be falsely labeled a child pornographer or anti-Semite because of some of the subreddits he created.”

Using anonymity to push political agendas is time-honored, and it is under cover of anonymity that at least one of the major players is leading the charge against the PV Estates Police Department. This culture of secrecy and clandestine hate follow the trajectory of racism in PV Estates as well, where blacks have epithets painted on their homes under cover of darkness and racial insults are scrawled on cars at PV High by nameless vandals.

Who are these people so opposed to the PV Estates Police Department? Why are they so fearful of signing their name at the bottom of the screeds they write? How do they look at themselves in the mirror knowing that for all their keyboard bravado, they still lack the courage of a simple signature?

Answering this question takes us yet one more step along the journey of understanding law enforcement in Palos Verdes Estates. The police report linked below is disturbing in the nth degree. Read it for yourself, and imagine what would have happened if the antagonist had been black, rather than a well-known and infamous resident of PVE itself.

[Link here: Resident’s blatant obstruction_of_law_enforcement during a traffic stop.]

If you read the link, you will doubtless be wondering who this person is. Is it the same bedwetter who wastes countless hours of police time with barking dog complaints? Is it the same person who has launched attack after anonymous attack on cyclists who both live in and ride through the community?

More disturbingly, is this one whackjob all it takes to throw PV law enforcement off its game? A bizarre resident wielding a camera phone? What happened to those staples of law enforcement known as mace, handcuffs, radio, and baton?

The answer is simple: There are two penal codes in PV Estates. One for white, rich, spoiled, angry residents, and one for everyone else.

END

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Hired Guns: Part 7

April 11, 2017 § 15 Comments

Part 7: The delicate bedwetters on the Hill

When we turn to the PV Estates Police Department and try to compare it with the LA Sheriff’s Department, a number of problems arise. The first is that they are completely different organizations. One is a massive, multi-billion dollar police force that, like an aircraft carrier going off the edge of a cliff, is extremely hard to control. The other is a tiny, semi-private security service whose employees are easily manipulated by the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

The media and the rich love to paint the image of wealthy people as being super confident, strong, hard-to-rattle titans of industry. Sometimes they are. But just as often they can be thin-skinned, vain, petty little people whose financial security gives them little to do but whine, complain, and grouse about the minor annoyances of life that the rest of us shrug off without a moment’s concern.

It’s hard to grasp how infantile some of the PV Estates residents can actually be. There’s one particular area of the city located by Bluff Cove and dominated by a couple of streets, Paseo del Mar and Via Horcada, where there is an unbelievable concentration of events that can only be described as the anxieties of adult bedwetters.

It’s these people and their ilk who dominate much of the time and efforts of the PV Estates police, people who demand to be coddled, mollified, hand-held, and who require that their every damp didy be accompanied with a gentle butt-wiping by a steady hand. These people consume untold hours of the police department’s time, are often abusive, nasty, aggressive, and make endless calls to police dispatch complaining about everything from raccoons to imaginary sounds.

You think I’m making this up? Keep reading.

This matters because as police chief Kepley points to increased police department expenses specifically due to cyclists, he fails to mention the hundreds of man-hours burned through by one or two whiny bedwetters, and he fails to tell the city council that a lot of the city’s police expenses result from the fact that the police force behaves like a nanny rather than a police department. At the last city council meeting we were treated to a rogues’ gallery of brown and black arrestees, showing the residents how busy the police were controlling serious crime.

What they didn’t show were the stats and incident reports filed by short, balding, middle-aged tattletales that make policing PV Estates the law enforcement equivalent of a nursery school for spoiled brats.

So I’ve compiled the reports for them.

Below is a very small sampling of police reports from the Via Horcada/Paseo del Mar area, which seems to be ground zero for pee-pee in the pants, anxiety-ridden grown men. The names of the complainants have been redacted by the department, but it won’t take you much independent investigation to figure out who at least one of these infantile crybabies is. More importantly, it shows that the city isn’t necessarily overrun with bad people, it’s just that a handful of truly deplorable bedwetters with too much free time and too little maturity have made it a living hell for everyone else.

As you click on the links below, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you fucking kidding me?
  • Are these the same people who complain about cyclists?
  • Can a police department slavishly obedient to people like this fairly enforce the law?

Also, note that virtually all of these “incidents” occur in the vicinity of the 700 block of Via Horcada and the 600 block of Paseo del Mar. I’ve highlighted the relevant items that the officers were called out to investigate, as well as the number of officers who responded to the call and wrote up the supplemental report. Apparently, the time clock at PVE PD gets ridden so hard it should have a saddle on it … and most hypocritically of all, the same people who complain about the cost and the overtime of the police don’t seem to mind at all when it’s their butt that’s being wiped at time-and-a-half.

So here ya go, with apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

  1. Mystery of the Assault by the Baby-Stroller Jackanape (Link: assault_of_minor)
  2. Mystery of the Bedwetter Bothered by the Barking Dog (Link: barking_dog_1)
  3. Mystery of the Off and On Barking Dog (Link: barking_dog_2)
  4. Mystery of the 15-Minutes Barking Dog Causing Multiple Bedwettings (Link: barking_dog_3)
  5. Mystery of the Barking Dog So Mysterious That It Can’t Be Found (Link: barking_dog_4)
  6. Mystery of the Barking Dog Who Could Read Notices in the Mailbox (Link: barking_dog_5)
  7. Mystery of the Barking Dog Who Was Taken Inside (Link: barking_dog_6)
  8. Mystery of the Barking Dog Who Was Reading More Notices (Link: barking_dog_7)
  9. Mystery of the Multiple Bedwetters Upset by the Mysterious Barking Dog (Link: barking_dog_8)
  10. Mystery of the Family of Bedwetters Awoken by the Barking Dog (Link: barking_dog_9)
  11. Mystery of the Dog that Knew to Stop Barking When the Police Showed Up (Link: barking_dog_10)
  12. Mystery of the Not Excessively but Just Enough Barking Dog (Link: barking_dog_11)
  13. Mystery of the Two Dogs Night (Link: barking_dog_12)
  14. Mystery of the Non-Barking Dog Left Out in the Non-Rain (Link: barking_dog_13)
  15. Mystery of the Legally Barking Dogs in the Area (Link: barking_dog_14)
  16. Mystery of the Home Alone Dogs Who Didn’t Bark (Link: barking_dog_15)
  17. Mystery of the Complainant Who Wanted to Find Out About the Dog That Didn’t Bark (Link: barking_dogs_16)
  18. Mystery of the More Non-Barking Dogs (Link: barking_dog_17)
  19. Mystery of the Dogs Not Barking After Two Hours (Link: barking_dogs_18)
  20. Mystery of the Dog That Didn’t Bark for Ten Minutes (Link: barking_dog_19)
  21. Mystery of the Dog That Didn’t Bark for Over Ten Minutes (Link: barking_dog_20)

This is a tiny fraction of the complaints emanating from this very small area of a couple of blocks; most of the complaints I’ve obtained were either made by or involve the same bedwetter. Keep in mind that these complaints about noise are coming from a place where the lot sizes are massive and the homes are essentially walled compounds. How would these people even exist in normal society if the sound of an imaginary barking dog drives them nuts? Answer: They wouldn’t.

I’ve obtained hundreds and hundreds of pages of this crap from 2010 to 2017, mostly in this one neighborhood, covering everything from the Hound of the Baskervilles mystery above to even more unbelievable stuff–and yes, I’m going to post another batch of these high crimes and misdemeanors tomorrow. Hopefully when the city council meets on April 25 they’ll make an impassioned plea to save the police department so that it can continue preventing diaper rash from these pillars of the community.

From the looks of these reports, they’d better be buying their talcum powder by the barrel.

END

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Hired Guns: Part 6

April 10, 2017 § 49 Comments

Part 6: Trial by fire

“The twilight zone that lies between living memory and written history is one of the favorite breeding places of mythology.” C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow.

By now it should be pretty clear that PV Estates has a problem with racism, and has had one since it was established in 1923, regardless of whether current residents want to remember it. What is less clear is how that translates into harassment of cyclists by the city’s police department. But before I make that connection, it’s important to understand why the city’s decision to employ the LA Sheriff’s Department or to retain its municipal police force is so important for cyclists.

And to understand that, we need to jump up to the very recent past of January 27, 2017, when Deputy Castro of the LASD’s Lomita Substation pulled over thirteen cyclists and cited them for violating CVC 21201(a) while descending from the bottom of the Switchbacks to Portuguese Bend. The operation required Deputy Castro to call in three additional squad cars, and at one point a helicopter.

I suppose you never know when the underwear-clad crowd in clackety shoes will get unruly, turn into a violent mob, and hurt you with the legendary massive arms and fists of, uh, twigly bicycle riders. Thirteen citations later, the cyclists continued on their ride.

The first two of these citations were tried last Thursday in Torrance traffic court. The deputy showed up expecting a slam dunk win and was chagrined when the first case was dismissed and the the second was judged not guilty.

Deputy Castro’s claims were preposterous, and the judge didn’t believe that she had been able to see and identify each cyclist and locate their position while she was traveling 35 mph in the other direction across a median, and the cyclists were traveling at close to 30 mph in what she falsely called “a big mob.” On cross examination she admitted that she couldn’t identify the rider because she was, according to her own confused testimony, ten cars behind the group. When asked whether she had ID’d the cyclist by his calves and buttocks, she admitted she hadn’t.

It turns out that even in traffic court you can’t convict someone who you can’t identify.

But the bigger issue and by far the bigger problem was the court’s total resistance to the argument we made that the cyclists were not in violation of 21202(a) because the lane was of a substandard width, therefore releasing them from the “as far to the right as practicable” language of the statute. On cross examination, Deputy Castro freely admitted she was unfamiliar with the exception and in fact had never read it.

More disturbing, the judge was unfamiliar with and completely unmoved by the argument. We produced uncontroverted testimony by our expert, Dr. Gary Cziko, that the lane measured twelve feet at the most. Dr. Cziko produced measurements of the operational space needed by a bike (4 feet), the average width of a small car (6 feet), and the distance required for a car to pass a bike in California (3 feet). Even though the simple arithmetic showed that 13 feet can’t fit into a 12-foot lane–and that’s assuming zero operational room for the car–the judge was unimpressed with the law or the facts.

Similarly, the cyclist’s testimony regarding obstacles in the shoulder and against the fog line, though uncontroverted or even questioned, were ignored by the court. These two exceptions to 21202(a) are of course the backbone for vehicular cycling, or for what’s known as lane control when circumstances warrant. Having a court that was completely unwilling to countenance uncontroverted facts that demonstrated compliance with the law meant that the victory in this case was strictly a one-off ruling.

Cyclists who can’t defend themselves by showing that the officer failed to identify them, something that won’t happen when the rider is alone or in a group of two or three, will be unable to rely on the strongest argument for using the lane when necessary–at least in Torrance, and at least in front of this particular judge. Equally disturbing was the judge’s repeated apologies to the deputy for finding against the People. “I don’t fault you for citing them,” he said three or four times.

What was that supposed to mean, other than, “Keep writing bogus tickets.”

Deputy Castro took her cue and said, “I guess I’ll just have to up my game.”

Most disturbing is that despite the acquittal and dismissal of these two cases against cyclists lawfully controlling the lane, cyclists in PV are now more likely to be subject to harassment by Deputy Castro and her fellow deputies as they “up their game.” This is why education of the LASD deputies in this matter is imperative whether or not they take over PV Estates, since we already ride so much in Rancho PV.

With the exception of an event many years ago, PV Estates police have never ticketed an entire group for following the law, and at least the city’s web site makes mention of the right of cyclists to control the lane when circumstances warrant. Regardless of which way the city goes, cyclists who want to ride legally on the peninsula have their work cut out for them.

END

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