White shoes

September 29, 2017 § 34 Comments

I was riding with a friend who had taken a liking to my white cycling shoes. “Those are really cool.”

“Thanks.”

“I’d like to get a pair.”

To which I said, “I really don’t advise you to get white cycling shoes. When you see them in the store or on the Internet they look so shiny and smooth and fast, but you know what? The chances that you have the chops to handle white shoes is pretty much zero.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

So I explained.

Used to be, you couldn’t even buy white shoes because no one made them. Who would? Cycling was a nasty activity that took place in the rain and sleet and mud and generally shitty weather. Why buy a pair of shoes that would look like a dirty diaper after a week’s training, or less?

Then one day Jeff Fields came home from Gent with a white pair of Duegis. They were track shoes, they had wooden soles, and they were shimmering white. Shimmering because they were made of patent leather … plastic coated leather that couldn’t be fouled. I lusted for those shoes, and when he went back to Belgium to do Het Volk I asked him to bring me back a pair.

He did.

I think they cost $60. At the time, Marresi has come out with a white road shoe that had green and red lettering on the white. Rick Kent had a pair and so did my ex-roommate Robert Doty, but they turned nasty and foul in no time at all. Like this, only worse.

marresi

And there I was with those shiny white Duegis. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture of them on the Internet, but here are the black ones, so use your imagination. They were gorgeous.

duegi

Being track shoes they weren’t very comfortable for 100-mile rides. And having wooden soles, it felt like sticking your foot into a hollowed out brick, kind of like the early generation Bonts, only with splinters. But oh, they were pretty. And even though they were patent leather they still had to be cleaned, and it was with those Duegis that I earned my white shoe chops.

I trained and raced and explored in those shoes until the early summer of 1987, when the soles broke on a steep dirt mountain trail outside the village of Shimogo, in Fukushima Prefecture. I’d had to dismount and was walking along, pushing my bike over rocks. In the snow. Suddenly one of the soles snapped. I guess pretty white leather track shoes with wooden soles weren’t made for hiking Old Rockytop in the snowy mountains. Who knew?

After that I never bought another pair of white shoes even though they became common, and the reason is that they were never truly white. They usually had holes or lettering or something to foul up their appearance … Sidi was a pro at taking a white shoe and making it look like it had been created by a chimpanzee fucking a palette of finger paints. Plus, they were like the old Marresis. After a while they looked like your senile grandfather’s old handkerchief.

But then Giro came up with a true white leather shoe that had treated leather for easy cleaning and carbon soles made of 100% pure carbon that were all carbon and made of carbon. It reminded me of my wooden-soled Duegis, which were also made of carbon, although they were of the deciduous carbon variety.

Anyway, I bought a pair of the Giro Empire All White Lace-Up Converse All Stars and have been wearing them for about a month now. And I’ve noticed other newbies giving the white shoe shuffle a try. I was very upset to see Sausage at last week’s Donut sporting a pair of these very shoes with black scuff marks on the toe, although he made up for it (a little) by explaining the CdA was lower than for buckle-ups (with a cool graph he carries in his jersey pocket that unfolds and can be tacked onto his collapsible easel), and by showing me an uber-aero trick for tucking the laces under the bottom lace for maximal aero aeroness with aeros.

giro_empire

Still, if Sausage, who is a pretty fashionable fellow and matchy-matchy, shows up at the Donut with scuffed shoes, the true amateurs are likely to have their whiteys looking like hobnail boots used for plowing through donkey dung in a matter of days. Don’t be that hobnailed donkey dung plough.

White shoes are hard work because after every ride they have to be cleaned. First, apply a damp cloth to remove the dirt, tar, poop, and blood. Then carefully evaluate where the leather has gotten scuffed. You will need this

kiwi1

and this

kiwi2

After you get the scuff marks covered up, you can also get some neat’s foot oil and rubber cement to glue back the leather if it’s coming up in little strips from where, for example, you destroyed the pack with your tremendous power and caused Pablo to quit doing the Donut Ride because there was no coffee afterwards.

Once you have the shoes properly cleaned and buffed, you have to spend some time hand washing the white shoelaces, but I will cover that in an advanced seminar. Better yet, just get the black ones. They are pretty cool, too. Sort of.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

 

Your tiny niche is now a global plumber’s crack

September 28, 2017 § 25 Comments

The day you knew your weirdness was now mainstream? That’s the day that Men’s Journal came out with an article praising Strava as “The Only Fitness App That Matters.”

Notice I said “your.” Not “my.”

I remember the first day I heard about Strava. I was in Bull’s living room. We were talking about something bikish and he said, “Hey you gotta check out this really cool program, it’s called Strava.”

Notice he said “program.” Not “app.” And certainly not “fitness app.”

Bull walked me through it on his laptop. “See?” he said. “It records everything and has these segments where you can look at parts of a ride and a leaderboard. See?”

“Stupidest fucking thing ever,” I said.

“It’s super cool,” he added, unfazed. “You’re gonna love it.”

I think that was in 2012. I did Strava for a couple of years until it became as unbearable as my power meter had been, a relentless reminder of quantified suckage, and what was worse, accelerating suckage. One day I took it behind the outhouse and shot it. Then, a year or so ago, shortly after my nutsack-breaking-incident, I resuscitated it.

But Men’s Journal has now anointed Strava as the only fitness app that matters; the killer app. Before you go proudly clapping yourself on the ass, please check their home page and note that Men’s Journal features:

  • A giant, inflatable Irish pub.
  • Kelly Slater paddling his surfboard.
  • Some tatted up dude tossing an exerball.
  • How to break in raw denim.
  • Killer indoor exercise machines.

In other words, the mag has zero cred unless you’re a drunk surfing tatty-poo fashionista who exercises in front of a giant mirror.

The article is long on words but short on substance, which is like Strava itself, robustly empty. Basically, Strava is a killer app, the writer says, because it has a slick interface, yo. And segments, yo. And everyone’s on it, yo. This last part is the thing that makes it most killer for the author and therefore the type of person likely to read Men’s Journal. It’s kind of like a restaurant review that says “The food is incredible because everybody likes it.” Ah, yes. I see.

What the article missed is that Strava succeeds because it’s the digital equivalent of  the giant mirror in front of the free weights where you can stare forever at the tiny bumps between your shoulder and elbow masquerading as muscle. Every Men’s Journal subscriber will understand.

Strava lets you ogle, stare, admire, note tiny differences from the last workout (“See! A new vein! I think.”), and just as importantly gaze at the lifter next to you, the one whose arm is twice the diameter of your torso. A few more reps and you’ll be exactly like him because you both belong to the same gym.

The digital narcissism of Strava has perfectly melded with the desire to watch yourself in motion. Nextgen versions will integrate with the four personal drones that follow you on the ride, and it will also connect with Zwift riders who virtually challenge you in their basement on the live video feed while you pedal the actual street. The live feed on Facebag will show realtime power/HR/elevation/speed and a 3-D topographical map running along the bottom of the screen. After the ride you’ll relax with some diet water, eat some raw almonds, compare your performance with people who are similar enough to beat but not similar enough to beat you, and review the whole thing in a video podcast that you upload through your glasses. The world isn’t all about you. The world is you.

And really, the author did get it right. Strava is the killer app. And the thing it killed? Fun.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

The choice of no choice

September 27, 2017 § 15 Comments

I got my mail-in ballot today for the Rancho Palos Verdes municipal election. We have to choose two city council members out of six candidates.

I like elections and try to do a little homework before I pencil in my choice, so I got on the ol’ Internet and started looking up candidates. Of course I didn’t have very high expectations. The RPV city council is led by a bike hating mayor and they recently replaced David Kramer, a fantastic cycling advocate on the transportation safety committee, with a bike hater.

But even though my expectations were low, they sank the minute I pulled up the guy at the top of the list, David Emenhiser. In an online interview, his main “issue” is that people in RPV are happy to live there. It’s a unique platform: We live in paradise, what’s to fix? Oh, and road improvements and city staff pensions. Plus, he wants to be “welcoming” to people who come to speak to the city council. Where was he during the great traffic safety committee paper wad assault of 2017? No mention of dead cyclists, harassing, fake enforcement by Lomita sheriffs, or a traffic safety committee that sees bikes as Public Enemy No. 1.

Next on the list was Eric Alegria. He is vice-president of an unnamed “Fortune 500 Company” and owns two (count ’em, two) small businesses. His hopes and dreams for RPV are to keep it safe (no poor people driving through, please), and to limit development. This last one is important, because once you get your plot of land you need to work like hell to make sure no one else gets theirs. No mention of bikes, bike safety, the miserable work of the Lomita sheriff’s department, or multi-modal transportation on the hill. Of course. I’m guessing he won’t support any plans for low income housing on his street.

John Cruikshank is also running for city council, and has about a zillion Facebag posts on his candidate’s page. John has raised $23,000 (but still needs more!), loves law and order, supports our fire department, believes RPV is a great place to live, and would kiss your baby and eat some apple pie if you offered it to him. My favorite part of John’s campaign is his “Get the Fuck out of RPV” platform, diplomatically phrased on his web site as “I know that public roads must remain public but there is a limit to how much each neighborhood should have to open their arms to others.” In other words, poor people and black and brown people GTFO. Plus everybody in Gardena. His position on bicycles? Probably too far forward with the saddle tilted up, but there’s no way to know, as he’s silent on the issue.

Moving right along we got to Krista Johnson, who is running for RPV City Council and wants to be on the city council so she’s a candidate for city council in order to be a council person. She has two kids and a husband and she wants to listen to your needs and be on the city council and be elected. She is also eagerly soliciting support for her city council campaign to win election to the city council. Bikes? Lame harassment by Lomita sheriffs? Zippo. But she really does want your vote so she can be on the city council.

Down in the gutter of the ballot I dug up Ben Kelly, a student. According to his GoBribeMe page, “Kelly wants to bring a youthful perspective to his hometown’s council, which has a vastly different mindset of politics and community. He has reached out to everyone in his community to start a true grassroots movement. With your help, Ben Kelly has a very good chance of winning this election to make history and inspire countless others to pursue their dreams in politics.” I have a few problems with this quote. First of all, he sure AF hasn’t reached out to me. Second, what exactly is the history he’s going to make? And will it involve bikes? Third, what is the vastly different mindset? Telepathy with aliens? Or is he simply ripping off Krista Johnson’s candidacy–elect me because I’m a candidate for election? Issues, experience, substance, bikes … zero. But new thinking! Yay!

Finally I got to Matthew Vitalich, whose occupation is “writer.” I know from personal experience that writers are the sketchiest, least trustworthy, most worthless people on the planet. James Joyce died from syphilis, for fuck’s sake. Anyway, Matt almost had my vote simply on the hope that he was also a diseased writer, but I googled him and found out that he 1) Wears a suit and tie and 2) Is a blogger and 3) The blog is for “libertarians.” You know, those people who think everyone should be free to not pay taxes but that the government should still provide free services. Anyway, three strikes for him, and a spanking for being such a liar: Everyone knows that bloggers aren’t writers.

So that’s the state of the slate, and a stinky one it is. The only person who seemed like he might not actually hate cyclists enough to run them over was Emenhiser because he has a nice smile, and Kelly because he may not yet have a driving license. It’s gonna be a long few years.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

 

If you’re yelling, you’re losing

September 26, 2017 § 26 Comments

Team Lizard Collectors got into a big dust ’em up on the Facebag yesterday over bicycle yelling, or shoutypantsing, as I like to call it.

It seems that Dear Leader ruffled a few rectums with his repeated hollerings. Some felt that being a shoutypants was bad form. Some thought that being a shoutypants was necessary for the survival of the group. Some thought that being called a shoutypants was retribution enough and we should move on to whether or not it was more patriotic to stand for the National Slavery Anthem, kneel for the National Slavery Anthem, or tsk-tsk as Puerto Rico sank beneath the flood without so much as a ripple.

As background, the Team Lizard Collectors Sunday Bicycle Ride And Educational Clinic And Primal Scream Therapy Group Thingy leaves every Sunday from CotKU at 7:00-ish, pedals over to PCH, and then runs an orderly boot camp all the way out to Cross Creek.

The riders who sit on the front are called “Horsemen.” No, I didn’t make that up. If I had made it up I would have called them “chevaliers” or perhaps “chevaliers-errant.”

Anyway, there is much discipline and order in the ranks and different people have job descriptions which must be earned through fealty and acts of derring-do such as the aforementioned chevaliers-errant, as well as “gatekeepers,” “sweepers,” and of course Dear Leader. The Team Lizard Collectors SBRAECAPSTGT also has a set of rules that are set forth in the Book of Peloton 101, and it goes like this:

  1. On the first day Team Lizard Collectors, henceforth known as TLC, created wanker and it was good.
  2. On the second day wanker discovered PCH and rode in the gutter and it was bad.
  3. On the third day Dear Leader got Wanky’s lane control religion and began taking the lane, and it was fuggin’ awesome.
  4. On the fourth day TLC grew from 10 members to about 600 and it was unmanageable, to put it mildly.
  5. On the fifth day it was fuggin’ mayhem on PCH, and it was scary AF.
  6. On the sixth day Dear Leader decreed that everyone shall ride 2×2 at prescribed pace using prescribed cadence with prescribed wattage for prescribed duration according to such ranks and titles as Dear Leader may bequeath, and that each baby wanker shall learn the Holy Ways of the Mystic Peloton, and it was humbling.
  7. On the seventh day Dear Leader realized that his charges were all a bunch of fuggin’ dumbasses and began yelling at them continuously, and it was a harsh reality slap in the face for them.
  8. On the eighth day they all got butt hurt, and it was Charmin.
  9. On the ninth day Dear Leader DGAF, ‘cuz that was the way it was gonna be.
  10. On the tenth day everyone was issued a copy of Dear Leader’s Holy Weekly Training Plan with wattage, and it was a boon for cycling Internet coaches everywhere.
  11. On the eleventh day everyone started getting nervous for the upcoming fourteenth day, and it was loose bowels.
  12. On the twelfth day everyone studied the manual like crazy, and it was anxious.
  13. On the thirteenth day no one slept worth a shit.
  14. On the fourteenth day it all started over again, and that’s how it hath always been.

Anyway,  after several years some people became unhappy about the yelling, to which Dear Leader diplomatically said:

  1. I’m shoutypantsing so you can hear me.
  2. I’m shoutypantsing because you don’t do anything right, you stumblebum knuckleheads.
  3. I’d rather shoutypants and have you butthurt than not shoutypants and have you crash me out.
  4. If you don’t like it go the fuck somewhere else.

This response revealed a huge chasm in the wankoton. First, it showed that many riders wanted to have their wheel and suck it, too. They wanted to get pulled along PCH at 24 mph by the chevaliers, do no work, and then be fresh to ride up in the canyons. However, although they wanted a free ride, they didn’t want to be subject to Dear Leader’s shoutypantsing.

Second, it showed that even after years of careful instruction, many of the lizard collectors still needed to be shoutypantsed. Thoughtful thinkers might conclude that the pedagogy was flawed, the instructors were ill-trained, the students were hopeless, or some combination of the above.

Third, repeated choruses of love expressed on the ‘Bag for Dear Leader’s methods showed that a frightening percentage of the adult lizard collecting population thought that being yelled at was a normal part of a fun recreational activity. [Note to self: Begin developing Shoutypants Podcast #1, suggested retail price $2.98/mo.]

I didn’t know what to make of the whole thing. It had been obvious for years that if you wanted to do the TLC SBRAECAPSTGT, you were gonna have to follow the SBRAECAPSTGT rules. It was also obvious that if you didn’t like the rules, well, PCH seemed like a pretty big street and it seemed more or less public, so why not do your own ride?

However, the thing that seemed weird to me was that shoutypantsing would be a normal part of a regular ride. In my adult life, to the extent that I have one, no one shouts at me. When I was a kid, though, people shouted at me all the time. “Goddammit, Seth!” was a favorite around the homestead, followed by “Shut up!” and “What did you say?” and “You’re in for it now!” and a whole bunch of phrases that even now get my blood pressure up just writing them.

Combine that with the fact that pretty much everyone on the SBRAECAPSTGT is an adult as well as a person who’s somewhat accomplished in life, and it struck me as odd that on one of the two days off each week that you have to ride, you’d choose to do it in an environment where repeated yelling, for whatever the reason, was a guaranteed item on the menu. It probably explained why a whole bunch of the lizard collectors who have been around awhile and who might have something to offer didn’t ever bother to show up.

But as I learned a long time ago, cycling is everyone’s vector to somewhere else. If I can get to my happy place with a minimum of yelling, though, that’s the path I think I’ll take.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

To cast or not to cast?

September 25, 2017 § 45 Comments

One of the best things about writing a mostly-regular blog is that it keeps you in shape. One of the worst things about writing a mostly-regular blog is that it looms over you each day until it’s finished, like a giant safe suspended over your genitals, ready to be dropped should you fail to bang out the requisite half-baked thought or meaningless musing.

Of course as a friend pointed out, “You don’t have to do it,” but that’s mostly like telling a drunk “You don’t have to take another drink,” when it is very much in the nature of being a drunk that yes, in fact, you do, else you will no longer be one.

A while back a different friend called and suggested I do a podcast. I was dismissive. “Where the fuck am I going to get the time for that?” [Side note: It’s weird that friends don’t call me up very often.]

Anyway, my eldest son started a most excellent podcast dedicated to Magic the Gathering in Austria, and it warmed the cockles of my heart to see that my offspring had decided to focus on a microcosm within a niche within a microfissure that was, if anything, potentially more narrowly focused than delusional profamateur avid recreational cycling in the South Bay of Los Angeles.

“Have you ever thought of doing a podcast?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, but didn’t add the “Where the fuck am I going to get the time for that?”

I listened to his podcast and liked it and thought I would give it a try. “It can’t be any harder than blogging,” I thought, “and it can’t be any less interesting.”

Now I’ve completed my third Low Fidelity Podcast and can say that podcasting isn’t any harder than blogging, but it isn’t any easier, and it sure takes a lot more equipment. You also don’t get any do-overs unless you have that thing called “time,” and those things called “editing skills” and that thing called “patience.”

Several people politely said they like the first two Low Fidelity Podcasts, and several people politely said they didn’t, but since only a couple of them were actual $2.99 subscribers, I took it all with a rather large grain of IDGAF. Going forward, I’ll try to do a little of both paying great attention to those who pay and studiously ignoring the deadbeats. The variety of talk/write is easier on my brain, and switching from broadcasting to blogging and back again takes my eye off the dangling safe, if ever so slightly.

So here’s Low Fidelity Podcast #3: World champions? (Please don’t pay attention to my stomach gurgling noises, thank you.)

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Low fidelity Podcast #2: Pumping

September 23, 2017 § 9 Comments

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away … bike pumping! Click on the above link to listen. Extra special high quality equipment and boss recording techniques approved by sound technicians used in the recording, editing, and post-production of this broadcast.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Low fidelity Podcast #1: NPR!

September 22, 2017 § 67 Comments

Click the bar above and listen to the podcast.

You can click the link in this sentence and see video of the September 19, 2017 NPR crash.

Podcast recorded from the comfort of my bed, spoken into my iPhone.

END