August 12, 2015 § 19 Comments
Lots going on in the South Bay this week, some good, some bad, some gay.
- There’s a Saturday beer pub crawl, meeting at 5 Guys Burgers on Lomita and Hawthorne for lunch, then cruising over to Strand Brewing Co. around one o’clock, and from there we’ll hit Monkish Brewing, Smog City, and Absolution. This is our Gay Day in LA Bike Ride, organized as an alternative to Brad House’s Mt. Baldy Time Trial. Brad is a huge supporter of the Confederate flag and a 2nd Amendment gun nut. He sneaked in a “sponsor” logo for Oath Keepers at his LA Circuit Race this past April while billing the race as a Bahati Foundation partner and “in memory of Jorge Alvarado.” He also solicited support from the extremely inclusive and progressive Velo Club LaGrange. I seriously doubt that these partners would have been so quick to lend House a hand if they had known who Oath Keepers is. You can support Brad’s race, homophobia, and racism, or you can have a fun time sampling the South Bay’s best. Craft water available for those of us who don’t drink.
- Winningest bike racer in SoCal returns to LA. Josh A., the only racer in Southern California who has won every race he’s entered in 2015, showed up on yesterday’s NPR. Following *someone’s* attack in the neutral zone, Josh kept the pace lively until someone spotted a beer can on the side of the road. *Someone* infuriated the peloton by attacking and following breakaway rules, i.e. don’t stop unless you’re killed or in the presence of law enforcement. The attack of *someone* came to a bad end when a cop showed up at the red light after the turnaround. On Lap 4 a glorious victory was taken by Cory W. as he and Wily scampered through an orange light to claim the spoils.
- Boozy’s return. Famed South Bay mechanic and hops expert Boozy P. reappeared at NPR and later that evening again at the TELO training crit for his semiannual bike ride, during which events he beat dozens of people who train 300 miles a week but apparently don’t drink enough beer.
- Cobley Corner claims another victim. The most dangerous turn on the bike path, Cobley Corner, claimed another victim last week when Tyler F. fell and suffered horrific, life-altering, catastrophic injuries. Graphic photos below, viewer discretion advised.
- South Bay Cycling Awards Sponsored by SPY Optic. The date is October 17, starting at 5:00 PM at the new Strand Brewing Co.’s massive facility. I tried to pimp it on Facegag, but they limited my spam to 450 “friends,” as if I had any. Mark your calendar. Twenty categories, guest speaker Steve Tilford being flown in (he’ll also join us for the morning Donut Ride), and I’ll get to show a crowd what I look like when I’m sober, and what a tux looks like with a SPY t-shirt.
- Local wanker gets fit just in time to quit riding. If you’ve been seeing Rico Borracho, the former Big O-turned-Hot Wheels Cat 3 sandbagger out on the roads, it’s been a welcome return. Rico had to leave his Cat 3 career to finish school and get a job a few years back, and he’s in between gigs, starting a new job designing satellites in two weeks. I’m sure none of our Garmins will now work. During the break he’s been killing it and getting super fast, laying down his trademark Rudy-Stathis swerve in order to get rid of wheelsuckers and old people. We’ll miss him when he goes off to the salt mines again.
- New nickname anointment. NJ Pedalbeater, the infamous character who rides 300 miles before lunch, wins the Cat 3 BWR division solo, and crushes everyone with his mad descending skills that keep him glued to the borderline between victory and catastrophic injury, was being talked about to someone who didn’t know who he was. “I don’t know that guy.” “EVERYONE knows him!” — More descriptions followed — “Ohhhhh! You mean Head Down James?” So, done. Thou art henceforth Head Down James.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get your own South Bay nickname. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 11, 2015 § 38 Comments
Yesterday I blogged about some traffic tickets that we, a fearsome threesome of stretchy-underwear clad older fellows and a twig-man, incurred when we violated California Vehicle Code Section 42123.234(i)a-delta.
In other words, we ran a stop sign.
The Palos Verdes Estates cops wagged their fingers and told us about how it was for our own good, even though there were no cars on the road, at the intersection, or anywhere except in the garages of the rich and infamous.
We drooped our dicks in the dirt and let them get stomped on, then went home, scolded, punished, and left to contemplate our misdeeds.
Then this morning I got this message from a friend driving to work in Palos Verdes Estates:
Hey, Wanky! Listen to this …
I was driving northbound on Palos Verdes Dr. at 6:26 AM in the No. 1 lane. As I was crossing Hawthorne, there was a dump truck in the No. 1 lane. The car in front of me moved into the No. 2 lane and passed the dump truck. I did the same thing, and so did the vehicle behind me, a white Ford pickup. As the two lanes merged into 1 lane, the white truck began tailgating my vehicle. We reached Silver Spur and the road opened up into two same-direction lanes again. I pulled into the No. 1 lane and the white truck merged into the No. 1 lane. I came to a complete stop, but the white truck went through the stop sign, not touching the brakes, which I could tell because his brake lights didn’t go on. I estimate his a speed at 20 to 25mph minimum. The exact speed was hard to judge because I was coming to a complete stop.
At this point I decided to call 911 because the operator was driving recklessly, and it occurred to me that he may have been drunk. When I crossed Silver Spur, continuing on PV Drive North, the truck slowed down to 25mph, and was now in front of my vehicle. It began to slow as we approached the next stop sign. At that moment the truck swerved towards me and rolled the stop sign, this time at 3 to 5 mph. I was still on the phone with dispatch giving them a license plate and description of the vehicle and merged back into the lane to proceed on my northbound route. I followed the vehicle to the stop sign before Malaga Cove, where it proceeded to stop at that stop sign for 45 to 60 seconds. I knew at this point that the driver was either documenting my vehicle or just trying to harass me with the long stop. As I was making a left into Malaga Cove, the vehicle pulled into the police station.
I realized that the driver was a PV Estates policeman, and was shocked at his reckless driving. I’m a cyclist and know that the PVEPD has recently been ticketing cyclists for running stop signs due to safety concerns. I couldn’t believe the intentionally reckless behavior of the driver, and was even more upset by his harassment. I immediately filed a verbal complaint with the watch commander.
At the time I thought it had to be some whackjob or high school kid driving like this … but it was a law enforcement officer, someone who is supposed to “serve and protect” not “endanger and kill.” On top of that he used scare tactics, swerving towards me in his personal vehicle, a Ford F250 with blacked-out windows and an American flag on the back. What a great American he is!
This cop has probably done this before and will likely do it again. If you had been on a bike, in a car, or on a horse, and had made a complete stop before trying to cross PV Drive north on Silverspur, you would have been severely injured or killed, even though you were obeying the law. He should be prosecuted and lose his job. I don’t think he realizes or cares how dangerous his behavior was.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and help advocate for cyclists, or de-advocate against rogue LEO’s. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 10, 2015 § 41 Comments
I was riding to the start of the Wheatgrass when I overtook the Wily Greek. The Captain then rolled up behind us. We were exactly on time, 7:59:59, and we could see the group massing in the parking lot at Malaga Cove. The downhill from PV North hits about 40 mph, and there wasn’t a single car on the road. We sped through the stop signs as we’ve done a million, make that a billion times before, and saw a cop waiting for us.
PA: “Pull over now!”
Three chunky $350.00 tickets and a long lecture curing which time two more squad cars were called in and a fourth drove by but was waved on. You never know when three skinny underwear-clad bikers, two eligible for AARP and one who weights 120 lbs. might get dangerous on you.
The first cop lit into Wily. “Didn’t I pull you over last week for the same thing and let you off with a warning?”
“Er, uh, duh,” Wily fuddled.
The cop was pissed and the other two stood back, watching this brief entertainment between donuts. Then we received The Lecture. You should know it by heart. I do.
- This is for your own good.
- Please stop running stop signs.
- We are only concerned about safety.
- No one here is picking on cyclists.
- Have a nice day.
None of us argued. How could we? We’d been caught red-pedaled, and excuses were only going to make matters worse, such as when Wily pretended not to have seen the 12-by-12 stop sign that was so big it blotted out the morning sun.
I certainly wasn’t going to argue, because Cop No. 3 was the same guy who’d ticketed me for blowing four consecutive stop signs a month ago on Via del Monte, and I was praying he didn’t recognize me. “We had to do 60 to catch you!” he’d said as he furiously scribbled the ticket that day.
We finished our ride and went home, sour.
That afternoon my new New Balance sneakers tore the tongue. It’s a long story, but they replaced my $35 Target shoes that had seen three months of hard wear and had biked across Germany. I’d gone to the Village Runner in Redondo Beach because of a little Internet blurb I read about how it’s better to patronize real running stores. The price of local patronage was $160, and thank dog I had cash left over from my trip and that there had been a place to sit down to keep from fainting.
As I pedaled to the shop I was worried because I’d paid in cash, and had tossed the receipt and the box. If I’d bought them at Target that would have been the end of it.
Then it occurred to me that I should change my ways, really, I should. So I stopped at every stop sign and stop light. Mostly.
The clerk, Francisco, immediately recognized me. “How do you like the shoes?”
“I love them, but they don’t love me.” I showed him the problem.
“We’ll replace them. We have another pair at the Manhattan Beach store. We’ll have them here for you tomorrow.”
“I can ride over there now.”
“Do you have the receipt?”
“Don’t worry–it’s all good.”
As I pedaled up the Five Corners intersection in Hermosa, which took me twelve years to reach even though it was five miles away because I stopped at every stop sign and light, I felt a faint glow of good civic-hood. I had finally become a mostly law-abiding cyclist. It was good to feel the approval of happy cagers as I stopped at each sign.
Then, crammed over into the nonexistent gutter to let a revving engine pass, a punk stuck his head out the window. “Get a fucking car or get off the road, asshole!”
I flipped him off and caught him at the stop sign. “What did you say?” I asked rather warmly.
“You want to pull over and find out?” he asked. “I’ll smash your fucking face in.”
“Yes, I’m pulling over now, in fact, to photograph your rustbox and call 911.”
He sped off, then did a u-turn. “Pull over, fuckhead, I’m parking and coming for you!”
I pulled over and dialed 911. He parked and came storming over with his two friends, who all began threatening and berating me as I spoke to the 911 operator. “Call the fucking police you fucking fuck fuck duh! We’ll tell them exactly what you did you asshole dickhead fucking fuck fuck duh!”
Three MB squad cars squealed up, then a fourth. A lady cop jumped out. The punkster began yapping as I stood several yards away. “Sit on the curb and shut up!” The color drained from all their faces and it got very quiet as she read them the riot act.
The fourth cop asked for my side of the story, which I told him, calmly.
“You did the right thing, sir, calling us and not letting it escalate. What would you like us to do?”
“Can you shoot each one of them in the head?”
“Then an apology would be great.” The punk was led over and he faked the words “I’m sorry,” but they choked him so badly he won’t swallow solid food for a week. Then they sent him on his way, not charging him with misdemeanor assault or with violating the 3-foot law, I suppose because I was just a bicyclist and the only thing that had happened was that I had almost died. I wondered what the punk would have been charged with if he’d intentionally tried to kill one of the cops.
When I got to the shoe store, the manager, Jeff, quickly swapped out my shoes, no questions asked. A better shopping experience I’ve never had. I mused that shopping local was expensive, risky, and fraught with tension.
“But it was worth it,” I told myself as I crawled home, stopping at every single stop sign and stop light, all 154 of them.
Stopping mostly, that is.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and help me defray my considerable bike-related legal fees. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 9, 2015 § 24 Comments
My elder son Hans and I went for a Stealth Fred Ride yesterday. He had come home after three years in college, all bulked up from weightlifting and soccer, and found a teaching job where he could put his degree to use and retire some of his school debt. The only catch was that at 22 he still didn’t have a driver license.
So he started commuting to work every day on his younger brother’s bike and has done so for a year. Every day he climbs from sea level to our apartment up Hawthorne Blvd., about a 900-foot climb, toting a 15-pound backpack. One day Aaron W. ran into him and snapped this pic, all fredded out.
Hans and I have ridden together a few times. Our best ride was to Santa Monica one day where we had tacos with The Sherri. His vocabulary expanded a bit that day.
Since none of my kids like cycling, that thing where we work, eat, sleep, and exist in order to zip around in our stretch underwear while drinking 100% butter-laced coffee out of 100%, full-carbon coffee cups, Hans wasn’t about to spend one stinking nickel on bike stuff.
“I’ve got these boots,” he said when I inquired about perhaps upgrading his pedals and shoes. “They work just fine.”
Since he wouldn’t cyclo-sportif up, I fredded down, slapped on flat pedals, bought a pair of Vans and a pair of thick socks, and got those capris riding pants for men who haven’t yet made some important decisions but are leaning decidedly in one direction.
I forgot to mention that after a year of commuting Hans lost all his bulk and has gotten beastly, stupid strong, with the finesse on a bike of an angry farm laborer tossing hay bales. It’s not cycling endurance strong, where he can climb like a goat, time trial like a locomotive, and jump like a kangaroo. It’s just ordinary 22-year-old fit dude strong. Dumb as a coffee shop, game as a banty rooster, happy as, well, a kid on a bike.
When you pedal full fred you find out why people dislike cyclists. Hans likes to wave and say “Hello!” but cyclists for the most part pretended we didn’t exist. Except for eagle-eyed riders like Arik and Rachael K., who spotted us going the other direction, Beppe from LaGrange, the Big O. pals we ran into, and the occasional happy rider, when you ride full fred you realize how much much better cyclists think they are then everyone else.
The biggest d-bag was an old man in a Team Nater jersey who sprinted by us on Admiralty then tried to drop me, and was surprised and angered when he couldn’t. Runner up was the other cyclist who chopped us at 40 descending Via del Monte and then almost killed himself on the 180-degree turn when he spilled out across the yellow line in front of oncoming traffic. Skilz.
Hans towed me up Mandeville and we passed half a dozen people on the way. He said “Hi” to every one of them. We got to the top and chatted with a nice trio from Brisbane. Then one of the guys we’d passed arrived and pedaled over to Hans.
“Dude,” he said, grinning, “that’s the most demoralizing thing that’s ever happened in my life.”
“Getting passed by some dude with no shirt wearing construction boots. Good job!”
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and help me retire some college loan debt. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 8, 2015 § 22 Comments
“Hey, Wanky!” said the email, “Let’s check your chub!”
I said to myself, after checking the sender’s address and noting that it was from a respectable, upstanding person, “That can’t mean what I think it means.”
So I started over:
“Hey, Wanky! Let’s check your chub! I bought two tickets to the Body Spectrum fat scanner, one for you and one for me. It’s in Santa Monica–we could pedal over after the Friday coffee ride. What do you say?”
I said, “What in the world are you talking about?”
She said, “It’s this thing where they tell you your fat content, bone density, menstrual proportionality, and cranio-fibular viscosity.”
I said, “I already know my fat content: too much.”
She said, “But it will be FUN!”
I said, “Do they dunk you in a vat of kryptonite? Or is it the deal where they strip you naked and pluck your fat off the underlying tissue with those torture pincers?”
She said, “Neither. They just lay you on a table and scan you.”
I said, “With what? A bar code reader?”
She said, “No, silly, with x-rays.”
I said, “I don’t want to get irradiated like a piece of food being prepared for a bomb shelter just to be told I’m chubby.”
She said, “It’s free.”
I said, “Okay.”
As we pedaled over to Bulletproof Coffee, where I had a large cup of coffee made with a stick of butter, I said to her, “Look, I know my fat content. It’s between 13 and 15 percent, give or take a point. Guaranteed.”
She said, “How do you know?”
I said, “There are about 10,000 online fat calculators. Do ten of them, take the average, and that’s your fat. And no cancer-causing x-rays.”
She said, “But what about your bone density?”
I said, “My bones can’t be dense. I ride a bicycle and my resistance training consists of trying to resist having seconds. My bones are like peanut brittle, guaranteed.”
She said, “You’ll feel better knowing.”
I said, “I never feel better knowing. I always feel better imagining.”
We got to Body Spectrum and they very nicely made me take all the metal out of my pockets. I asked if I could leave in my fillings and the plate in my head. They said yes.
The nice lady scanned my body. Then a different nice lady sat down with me to review the results.
She said, “You are not fat.”
I said, “Did someone say I was?”
She said, “But you have some fat around your viscera.”
I said, “You mean I’m chubby inside?”
She said, “Yes, but not unhealthily so.”
I thought about Wednesday when we went to the coffee shop and the nice counter girl asked if were a cyclist. I was wearing floppy shorts and a t-shirt and all my friends were wearing stretch underwear. “No,” I said. “I’m just a person.”
“I didn’t think you were a cyclist. You look ill … ”
“I do?” I asked.
” … suited. I meant to say ill-suited to be a cyclist.”
I gave her no tip for service, but a $5 tip for being so unintentionally cruel.
Back with the chubby checker, things were better. “Your numbers look good,” she said. “16.3% body fat is fine. You might want to do some resistance training, something to build bone density.”
I started to tell her about all the second helpings I was resisting, and all the booze I’d resisted in Germany, but didn’t. I quit while I was ahead.
100% butter made with pure butter.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and find out if you have a chubby or not. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 7, 2015 § 7 Comments
Have you ever spent years knowing someone through reputation and perhaps email, only to finally meet them? It’s anxiety provoking, isn’t it? Will they look the way you think they look? How will they talk? Will you even like each other?
Almost four years ago I collided in the Internet way with Steve Carre. A rider named Robert Hyndman had died while descending Las Flores Canyon, and I blogged about it. The ride had left from Steve’s shop, Bike Effect, and so it was natural and inevitable that we talked and exchanged some emails.
But we never met in person, even though over the years Steve’s reputation has swollen to that of a titan in the world of bike fitting, and I can’t count the number of people I know who’ve gotten bike fits, shoe fits, lumbar replacements, and cranio-tibial adjustments in his workshop.
Yesterday I was in Santa Monica for a meeting, and after the meeting had a date with The Sherri and Duran, Duran scheduled for 7:15 at Porno Burger. Yes, that’s really a place, and I suppose the name comes from the obscenity of charging $16 for ground up dogmeat slopped with grape jam and called a “fig burger.”
However, I came early (a recurring theme) and had some time to kill. That’s when I realized I was caddy-corner from Bike Effect. Should I go by? I wasn’t shopping for anything. Would he remember me? I’d only said fuckity-fuck-fuck-damnit-shit three or forty times when we spoke on the phone four years ago. Would it conjure up bad memories? Robert’s death had scarred us both.
When faced with this type of dilemma, my solution is always the same. Just Fuggit. So I pushed open the door and stood there like a dork in my suit, holding my briefcase, looking like a semiconductor salesman.
“May I help you?” asked a very beautiful woman.
“Uh, duh, um, yes, please,” I stammered.
She had that look of “You can relax, I’ve dealt with salespeople before. I’m sure you’re a fine person but we don’t need any more semiconductors today.” She smiled, waiting.
“I, uh, was, um, duh, looking for Steve.”
“He’s with a client.”
“Oh, uh, well, duh, er, could you tell him I came by?”
“Of course. What’s your name?”
“Uh, duh, Seth.”
“And you’re a friend of his?”
“Uh, yeah, I mean, duh, um, no, you see, well, duh, we are friends kind of but we haven’t, duh, er, uh, you know met ever.”
She smiled kindly, the way people patiently wait for the village idiot to quit eating his boogers before they tell him the king’s coming through town so please go home. “Do you know him through cycling?” she asked even though it was obvious that I wasn’t a cyclist.
“Yes, exactly, well no, not really, kind of it was an Internet thing, duh.” Swallow booger.
“Okay, what kind of Internet thing?” She was a very patient interlocutor.
“You see, this dude died and … ”
She got very serious. “You knew Robert?”
“No, no I didn’t. But I wrote about him.”
She smiled that pretty smile again. “Okay, now I know. I’ll tell Steve you’re here.”
A moment later I was ushered into the fitting chamber, which, with its four banks of Snap-On tool cases and laser-guided mass spectrometers was a cross between an old-school filling station and the Fermi Lab. He smiled, finished with his client, and shook my hand warmly. He was even kinder than I’d imagined he would be.
We immediately began talking shoes, and before I knew it he had me on a stool and was measuring my foot’s length, width, angular momentum, and infra-metatarsal droop. “Do you mind taking off your sock?” he asked.
“Last person who I did that for had a concussion and nightmares for a month.”
He laughed and briefly examined the twisted and corroded state of my mangled feet. “There’s a Chinese proverb,” he said.
“Only one?” I asked.
“That says ‘We die from the feet up.'” He finished spraying DDT on my feet and then gave me some simple things I could do to reduce the excruciating, unbearable, agonizing pain I feel every time I even look at my Bonts, a shoe engineered according to the concept of “If it hurts, hurt more!” and “Stiffer than concrete but not as comfortable.”
“But they’re very stiff,” I said, feeling like an idiot.
“Yes, they are.” He gave me more information, made some suggestions, and would have done a full callus analysis if I hadn’t glanced at my watch and seen that I was ten minutes late for Porno Burger, and since The Sherri never goes anywhere without her Glock, late arrivals run the risk of being met by a hail of gunfire. “Come in when you have some time and I can take a closer look at your foot situation,” he said, peeling off the gas mask. He shook my hand with the gentle firmness of a bricklayer, that handshake that exudes formidable strength but has no need to use it on your ballet fingers.
“Thanks, Steve,” I said. “I will.”
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which will make the world a better place, slightly. Very, very, very slightly. Unless you’re sneaking away from the pack on the Flog Ride. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
August 6, 2015 § 31 Comments
I hope you’ll put these two races on your calendar:
Why? Because it’s your last chance in 2015 to win some good money in a SoCal crit. I’m donating $2,000 in cash primes for the 8/23 race, and an additional $2,000 in cash primes for the 8/30 race.
For the 8/23 race’s P/1/2/3 event I’m donating eight $100 primes and one $200 prime on the next to last lap. Same for the 40+ masters men’s race. Good luck prying those dollars out of Surf City’s mouth!
For the 8/30 race, $1,000 in primes will be up for grabs in the P/1/2/3 event, and ditto for the women’s P/1/2/3 race, with the elite women getting exactly the same prime payout as the elite men.
The cash primes, which will be cash, will all be paid out in cash.
I support Chris and Vera’s efforts because year in, year out, they put on quality races that are easy to get to, that are run on safe courses, and that respect the efforts of the participants. Everyone doesn’t get a medal but everyone gets treated with respect, at least if you consider getting called a “cupcake” respect.
As just one example of the way Chris listens to his customers, this year he gave the 50+ racers one hour races for virtually the entire year. As far as I know, that’s the best in the country for our age category.
There is so much that is messed up about amateur bike racing that it’s incredibly important to support the quality events that we do have. I wish I knew how to make bike racing more popular and more inclusive, but I don’t.
What I do know is that beefy primes thrown in every few laps can up the ante, change the riders’ calculations at varying points in the race, encourage attacking, and give a lot more riders the chance to win even though they may not win the race.
See you there!
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, which will in turn continue to support local bike racing and the occasional equipment purchase, like flat pedals. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!