Bone idling wanker

December 20, 2016 § 9 Comments

I have a bad memory. That’s why I write shit down. But some things stick, and none more than Sir Bradley Wiggins’s famous insult in 2012 that anyone who questioned the purity of his athletic achievements was a bone-idling wanker.

And then it turns out that in the year that he bone-actived his way to victory at the Dauphine, he had received a mysterious medical package, hand-delivered to his doctor for administration the day before Wiggins won the overall classification.

Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Sir David Brailsford, the boss of Team Sky committed to clean sport and transparency, to discuss the contents of the package.

CitSB: So what was in the package?

Sir D-B: Which package?

CitSB: Wiggins’s package.

Sir D-B: Oh, no one’s ever going to get Brad’s package.

CitSB: Uh, we’re not talking about his junk, Sir David.

Sir D-B: Heh, heh. Couldn’t resist a little joke there.

CitSB: So can you give us the chronology, starting with why Simon Cope, the guy carrying Wiggo’s package, was at the Dauphine the day before the final stage?

Sir D-B: Of course. Nothing simpler. Simon Cope had come to La Touissiere to meet up with Emma Pooley.

CitSB: Who?

Sir D-B: Emma Pooley. She was our Olympic silver medalist in 2008 and Simon was the coach of the women’s team. Nothing simpler. Just checkin’ in with one of his charges.

CitSB: Emma says, and I quote, “I absolutely was not at the Dauphine Libere in 2011, or any other year, and I absolutely did not meet Simon Cope there.”

Sir D-B: Did she say that? Oh, right. Of course. Yes. Well, that’s odd isn’t it?

CitSB: It is. So what was in the package?

Sir D-B: I don’t know. I have no idea. Really, this whole thing was brought to my attention recently. I never saw a package. Obviously, now I can’t go back and know what was in the package.

CitSB: Did it contain cheating drugs for cheaters who cheat?

Sir D-B: Oh no, absolutely not. Never. Impossible.

CitSB: But didn’t you just say that you never saw the package and can’t go back and know what was in it?

Sir D-B: Did I say that?

CitSB: Yes. A couple of lines up.

Sir D-B: Goodness. That hardly makes any sense, does it?

CitSB: No. So what was in the package for Sir Bradley Wiggins?

Sir D-B: Well I suppose it’s quite obvious by now. It contained Fluimucil.

CitSB: It did?

Sir D-B: Yes, of course. Which is legal and not banned and doesn’t aid performance.

CitSB: And Simon Cope, the women’s cycling coach, flew from Manchester to Geneva to deliver the Fluimucil?

Sir D-B: Why yes, obviously, which is perfectly legal and not banned and doesn’t aid performance.

CitSB: But Fluimucil isn’t sold in the UK, is it?

Sir D-B: No, I suppose it isn’t.

CitSB: So it wasn’t available in Manchester, where Cope was flying from, and was available in France, where Wiggins was racing, for about eight euros, right?

Sir D-B: Well yes, I suppose it was.

CitSB: So Simon Cope flew a thousand miles to deliver a legal over-the-counter medicine not sold in Britain that Wiggins could have picked up for ten bucks?

Sir D-B: It sounds a bit preposterous, I must say.

CitSB: Okay, stranger things have happened.

Sir D-B: It is cycling, remember.

CitSB: Right. So what did Wiggins do with the legal non-performance enhancing Fluimucil the day before the big stage race he won which was his biggest professional road victory to date?

Sir D-B: He didn’t “do” anything. The package was given to his doctor, Dr. Freeman. And Freeman administered the Fluimucil.

CitSB: He did?

Sir D-B: Yes, of course. Put it into a nebuliser, you know, a little spray thingy that goes up the nose. A spritzer type thing.

CitSB: He did that with Fluimucil?

Sir D-B: Absolutely.

CitSB: It says on the Fluimucil web site that Fluimucil is for oral ingestion only. You drop a couple of tablets in water and drink it. Why would he have needed a doctor for that?

Sir D-B: That’s a very good question. An excellent one, actually. However it’s important to note that Fluimucil is not banned, is legal, and is not a performance enhancing drug.

CitSB: Neither is sand.

Sir D-B: Good point, that. I say, you’re a bit of a clever chap.

CitSB: Thank you.

Sir D-B: We’ve got a couple of openings here at Team Sky if you’re interested.

CitSB: Really?

Sir D-B: Send me your resume after we finish. And try to make this look good, okay? Perhaps you could spin the angle about other teams doping, or perhaps we could give you a ride in the team bus? Have an espresso with Wiggo and the boys?

CitSB: You got it, Sir David.



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Mechanical dopes

December 19, 2016 § 23 Comments

As the revelations unfold, it’s deja vu all over again. Cheaters use new technology to cheat. What a surprise.

The difference this time is that the cheating is in the bike, not in the dope who rides it. And the other difference is that even though as a percentage only a very few people will take drugs like EPO and testosterone to improve their bike performance, virtually every rider ever born will spend money to upgrade a bike so that it goes faster.

Ergo the distinction between bikes and motorcycles, a distinction that evaporated with the advent of mass-produced e-bikes and has now, with tiny motors, completely obliterated it. The bike used to be a thing that you pedaled. When your pedaling stopped, so did the bike.

Now the bike is a hybrid. Even though your pedaling wilts, the bike can either replace it completely with 100% electro-assist, or replace it in tiny watt-increments for very short periods of time, allowing you to hang on just long enough to get over the climb. And since no one knows whether you have the bike motor on the group ride, you might as well go big, right? Go big or go home. Isn’t that a saying somewhere?

We can also expect that technology will continue to make smaller motors that are even more powerful. Eventually the cranks and pedals will be part of an illusion that masks what’s really happening underneath. People who genuinely suck on a bike in every conceivable parameter will be able to go as fast as Phil Gaimon.

Of course they won’t actually be able to descend safely at speed, or navigate a pace line at speed, or thread a peloton at speed, or do any of the things that keep really good riders from falling and getting hurt/killed. And of course they will, with their miserable skills, endanger others. But none of that matters because they will be able to GO FAST while LOOKING LIKE A CYCLIST.

We are quickly reaching that point of perfect destruction, where racing fails because no one wants hard races, where cycling becomes a fashion competition of clothing and equipment, and where performance has more to do with motors than it does with your bodily engine.

Hey, it’s motor sports for slow people, and by the way, go ahead and have that second bacon cheeseburger.

The positives abound. We’ll be able to wear actual protective gear because the weight and comfort penalty of thick padding and legitimate helmets that truly protect your skull will be zero. That will save countless collarbones, hips, wrists, concussions, and especially lives.

Motorized fake cycling will push bike speeds to the point that the rider can absolutely hold the speed of traffic. No more edge riding, no more silly fights about “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” no more assholes screaming at you to “Ride on the sidewalk!”

Distances will melt. Instead of being limited to the same 50-mile route, you’ll be able to throttle it for the first 80 miles until you get to where you really want to ride, then do your motor-assisted “workout,” then motor back home, all for the price of a single battery charge.

Racing (it’s already happening) will become the equivalent of 50cc competitions. The really good riders will have phenomenal high-speed handling skills and will judiciously know when to add in a huge effort for the last 3-km sprint (forget the 200m-to-go marker), and they’ll know just when to combine motor with legs to initiate the break, bridge, or surge.

Group rides will likewise boil down to informal contests that involve ballsy, high speed moves, some degree of fitness, top-notch motors, and skilled use of legs at just the right time in just the right amount. Power meters and battery life will no longer be training tools, they will be absolute outcome determinants. Just as car racers win by managing power output, fuel reserves, and tire tread, cyclists will have one eye on the power meter and one eye on the battery level. Charging devices aren’t far behind, either, where descents will power your battery back up as you ride.

Best of all, the pathetic egos of old men will be massaged by finally being able to buy their way into the head of the peloton–not the peloton of weekend hackers, but the head of the field with actual professionals. As with the existing masters racer who owns the lightest bike and the best equipment, purchasing power will now catapult the lamest, most over-the-hill, delusional old farts to la course en tete.

I’d argue, in fact, that we’re already there. Electronic shifting has changed the game in so many respects. By removing all physical and mental penalties to changing gears, battery powered components give you an edge. You can try two or three gears in a split second to find the right one. Imagine doing that with down tube shifters and six cogs.

Battery powered components will increasingly provide an energy supply for other drive train and braking components. As mental and physical energy is no longer devoted to the workings of the bike, more is left over to pedal hard and to race. You’ll go faster, farther, and use less energy to do it.

The only casualty is bicycling. Power meters and onboard computers have meant for years now that no ride really happens until the microprocessor begins recording. Strava increasingly defines the significance of your ride. Was it viewed? Was it liked? Did it reflect various amazing trinket-worthy milestones?

If today you can’t throw a leg over without a charged derailleur battery, charged lights, a functioning power meter, and a charged personal tracking device, how much of a qualitative change is it, really, to add in a tiny motor? Or a large one? It’s better than sitting on the couch, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

The bicycle is no longer an inert lump of rubber and metal, dead until a person mounts it and presses down on the pedal. It’s no longer a measure of strength, a promise of improvement, or a hammer to smash the fetters of daily life and spring you into the freedom of your dreams.

It’s just another appliance. So don’t forget to plug it in.



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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 22: Holiday survival

December 17, 2016 § 13 Comments

Whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Chrewlim, old-fashioned atheist, or “other,” there is no harder time for old bicycle racers than the holidays. This is the time of year that you have free time, but all the time is spoken for. The weather is crisp and sunny, the roads are clear, and everyone’s out biking except you. But that’s not the worst of it …

  1. Staying sober. Even if you are a drunk, now is a bad time to be that way. Why? Because it will interfere with your training. So when you’re at the office party and everyone is sloshy nasty liquored up, just imagine that everyone at the party is sloshy nasty liquored up and the dreadful sweating person with bad breath and spittle coming of the mouth corners is the person you’re going home with. Insta-sobriety.
  2. Gift-foisting. The holidays are hard because you have to spend money on other people. This is no fun. So instead of spending money on them, buy something for yourself and tell them to give it to you. It is always better to give and receive.
  3. Grinch rides. In addition to the difficulty of sneaking away from family, it often happens that your typical partners-in-crime are unavailable to ride, making it even harder. Snoop around to find a handful of other like-minded grinches who won’t mind a super-early ride on Christmas morning that “accidentally” lasts until noon.
  4. Go nowhere. Set the bar low for seasonal expectations. Never leave the house. Refuse to attend parties. Tell your family you can’t/won’t/don’t know how to go with them. This takes years to perfect, but eventually you’ll be viewed as a boring old stick-in-the-spokes who no one would want to be around anyway. This creates the perfect diversion for lots of riding while they’re out shopping/eating/partying/being normal.
  5. Use the five-second rule for food. If the chocolates, cookies, cake, and other goodies have been in your house for more than five seconds, throw them away. Don’t spare a moment’s thought for the kind person who sent them to you or the doting granny who slaved away for hours in the kitchen or for fifteen seconds on Amazon. Do the dumpster sprint now.
  6. Maintenance avoidance. Now is the time to catch up on all your bike maintenance projects instead of shopping, family dinners, or visiting friends. Learn how to disassemble and reassemble a SRAM e-tap derailleur. Blindfolded. With Old No. 72.
  7. Stuff your playlist with heavy metal. Nothing kills the Christmas spirit and crushes sappy seasonal songs like the greatest hits of Bloodlust from Thraxon, Broken Skull, Neurotic Thrombosis, The Death Spirals, or Bad Meth Kitty.
  8. Change religions. No matter what you’re invited to, say you can’t do it because you’re a “—–.” The more obscure, the better. Useful religions to mouth in a pinch: Obscurantism, Pedantism, Microschism, Plontist, Scatologist, Plythionictictist.
  9. Kimchi. Eat tons of it in the week leading up to the holidays. You’ll be invited nowhere. Guaranteed.
  10. Go ride your bike. No matter what.



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Grinchmas bush

December 16, 2016 § 19 Comments

When I was a kid, Christmas was a big deal because, presents, and it was a double big deal because, birthday. In those days getting shit was not an everyday occurrence. You basically had two days a year when you could get (hopefully but always disappointedly) toys and (predictably and disappointedly) new socks and underwear.

There was a magic to the Christmas season in those days, the magic of pure fantasy greed. You could imagine all the stuff you were going to get even though you weren’t going to get any of it. Stores got all festive and the everyday changed. You weren’t followed by the suspicious security guards who tracked you like the little kleptomaniac you were, you were followed by suspicious security guards wearing a Santa outfit.

The message of Christmas was always unlimited greed, i.e. The American Way, and it was a beautiful thing in which I wallowed.

Of course sometimes Christmas delivered, like the three times I rang the bell and got a bike, and the one time I rang the bell and got a surfboard, and the one time I rang the bell and got a pair of binoculars. The rest of the time, though, the promise of limitless greed was a horrible letdown and we had to content ourselves with family dinners and singing songs and listening to John Fahey’s Christmas album and massive anticipation followed by disappointment, kind of like teenage sexual encounters.

This disappointment turned to sourness as it dawned on me that no matter how infinitely greedy I was, my payout was fundamentally limited by having the two money days, Christmas and birthday, overlap. Other kids were always going to get more stuff and have more fun and be more special, and I was always going to spend my life having everyone say, “Your birthday is on Christmas? That sucks!”

This was way before people even said “That sucks.” In fact, the first time I heard anyone say “That sucks,” I thought they were talking about a vacuum cleaner.

So I turned into a grinch and over the years dispensed with 99% of all the useless nonsense associated with a celebration of the artificial insemination of an Invisible Friend commemorated by a diabetic elf who lives in solitude all year so that he can trespass one night and mete out gifts or coal to small children whose happiness depends on his generosity or lack thereof and who, even though he trespasses at night in Texas, has never once been killed by someone exercising their fake 2nd Amendment rights.

The horrible drudgery of picking out a Christmas tree screeched to a halt four years ago. It was the night before Christmas and we still hadn’t gotten a tree. I picked my Dad up from the airport and on the way back we stopped at a tree yard. “I bet I can get a good deal now,” I said. It was ten pm.

The Muslim tree dude and I haggled for half an hour over the $29.99 tree that looked like it had been used as the broom that cleaned the Augean Stables, and I got him down to $15.99, handed over the cash, and realized we had no stand. “How much for the stand?” I asked.

“$15.00,” he said, knowing he had me. “But for you? $20.”

I swore I would never buy another Christmas tree, and after that year I threw out all the Christmas tree crap. The lights, the ornaments I’d had since childhood, everything except the stockings. To hell with the whole stupid charade, I was so done.

So the next year when domestic pressure started building for some seasonal consumerism with a nod to alcoholism and over-consumption of fatty foods, I nipped it in the bud, and rather than waiting until the last minute I bopped over to the Von’s and picked up a little stone pine in a pot for $9.99. The pot wasn’t even extra.

“What is that?” asked my wife.

“It’s our Grinchmas bush,” I said, proudly.

“It is horribly ugly and we can’t put lights on it.”

“It’s alive and it cost $9.99.”

That year it was small enough to put on our coffee table, so after I got back from the annual Grinchmas Ride with Manslaughter and Pablo, we opened a few presents that had all been negotiated beforehand and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee together. The kids by then had been so inoculated against the Christmas virus that no one cared. Anyway, we buy shit all year long. No one expected anything, and I delivered.

The next day I set the Grinchmas bush out on the balcony in the sunshine. I would water it, and it grew. Slowly. The next year we brought it in and celebrated Grinchmas with it again as the centerpiece.

The root ball eventually expanded to fill the little pot so one day I took it over to Rich Stahlberg, the gardener. He repotted it in a big bucket. The Grinchmas bush kept growing the way I ride bikes.Slowly, consistently, doggedly. And as it got bigger, it got uglier.

I don’t know how or why, but some of its needles became huge, long, Ponderosa pine needles, and others remained short and stubby. It looked like a head of hair that randomly sports a crew cut in places and hippie dreadlocks in others. It grew off to one side, listing like one of those people in Costco riding a cart. Some of its branches died, but others grew vigorously. I faithfully watered it, and perhaps it wasn’t very pretty, but it was healthy, sturdy, richly green, thriving, alive.

Last night my daughter and grandson were over. “What about the Grinchmas bush?” she asked. “Is it coming in this year?”

I went outside and got it. My son laid out the Grinchmas mat and we set the bucket atop it. “I have some lights from Halloween,” my daughter said. She went back home and returned with them. We draped the bright orange candy-corn-shaped lights on the bush. My grandson watched intently.

Then we took out some ornaments that my daughter had brought with the light. We all huddled around the Grinchmas bush and carefully decorated it. We found an old yellow keychain and hung it on there, too. The rain was falling and our SoCal winter had arrived, cold and wet. My grandson watched intently.

Finally I went into the closet and took out a small paper bag from Helen’s bike shop. Inside were our family stockings, including the one for my dead brother, made when he was born, in 1962. There were the three handmade and embroidered stockings for each of my children, and mine, too.

I hung them on the wall, and when I finished, I plugged in the orange candy corn Halloween lights.

My grandson smiled and waved his arms in that happy way infants do, happy without knowing why, and without it mattering.






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South Bay news round-up

December 15, 2016 § 5 Comments

Scraps and bits and pieces & stuff …

  1. Lokalmotor Diego Binatena is having a pop-up for his clothing company, Base Cartel, on Saturday, December 17th at haleARTS. Diego has created the first apparel brand to source influence from the cycling lifestyle and apply these ideas to mainstream products. At the pop-up you can see Base Cartel’s first streetwear collection, a hybrid of casual wear and cycling wear, incorporating satin bomber jackets and canvas joggers with downhill jerseys and Base Cartel’s exclusive cycling socks. The event is hosted at an art gallery and will only be selling 15 items per piece. Beer and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. Time: Saturday 5:00-9:00 PM, Date: December 17, Location: HaleARTS, 2443 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405, Contact: or (310) 866-1334.
  2. SCNCA still doesn’t have its racing calendar posted for 2017. NorCal’s has been up for months.
  3. Leg-breaking Flog Ride starts back up December 22.  The ride is in its third year and offers the interval training you can’t get anywhere else. The ride runs every Thursday through August or until everyone gives up, whichever comes first!
  4. Annual Grinch Ride (suspended last Christmas due to my falling-off-bicycle incident) takes place from the Manhattan Beach Pier at 6:00 AM sharp, Christmas Day. This ride is for Christmas-haters, Jews, Muslims, atheists, parents who want to get in a quick pedal before the family opens presents, and anyone who wants to start the day with something other than an ode to senseless consumerism in the name of a diabetic elf. Route goes up PCH to Trancas. Back in time to unwrap your underwear and socks.
  5. ‘Tis the season to get sober. If you’re a drunk cyclist, this is one of the toughest times of the year, aside from winter, spring, summer, and fall, to restrain your drinking and “cut back.” Hint: if you’re really a drunk, you can’t “cut back.” Don’t wait for the New Year and the catastrophes of the holiday season to make your resolution. Do it now.
  6. Every year the Velo Allegro bike club and Greater YMCA of Long Beach to donate bikes to an entire Third Grade class. Pretty wonderful stuff and it will put a smile on your face!



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Dying for fun and profit

December 14, 2016 § 21 Comments

The whole idea of a die-in to protest the lame Palos Verdes Estates city council’s refusal to plant five bikes-may-use-full-lane signs seemed like a great idea at the time.

But there I was, lying in the formerly warm grass, breathing in the sweet scent of my youth, when some bug crawled up my nose. I was just about to scratch it when up came the photographer. Play dead or scratch? Scratch or play dead?

The photog clicked and walked on. Then I scratched like hell. I guess the press was worth it … we got a nice write-up here and then again here. And the battlefield kind of looked like this:


The best part was watching the six body-armored, body-cammed PVE police milling around as if a bunch of prostrate old people might erupt at any moment into a mob of hobbling geezers intent on fomenting insurrection. As I lay dying, or rather dead, I heard lots of encouraging honks from passing motorists, and the protesters holding up signs reported countless thumbs-up, but frankly, being dead sucks and after 45 minutes I was ready to start living again.

We went over to the city council meeting with a sizable contingent of about twenty people and spoke our allotted time telling the city what we’ve been telling them for a long time now: BMUFL signs are legal and a great step in improving roadway safety. Mayor King glowered and the council grumpily listened to speaker after speaker castigate them for their hypocrisy and bad behavior.

However, it was easy to see that the city council wasn’t going to be swayed by a couple dozen fake dead people and declamations at the lectern. As with their capitulation to those who engineered the dismantling of the Lunada Bay Boys’ fort and masturbatorium, the only things that are going to make this city council change its tune are:

  1. Relentlessly bad media.
  2. Litigation.

The litigation part is of course coming, and it is going to hit like a tidal wave in the form of some biker who gets hit and killed or catastrophically injured. The biker will hire a lawyer and the lawyer will sue the city for its negligently dangerous road design. The city will have been shown to be on notice due to the minutes and video of the council meeting refusing the recommendations of its engineer and traffic safety committee, and part of the multi-million dollar settlement will include installation of the signs.

All it’s going to take is another dead cyclist or two. Real ones.



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Die-in details! Gitcher corpses while they’re hot!

December 12, 2016 § 5 Comments

WHAT: Die In protest. Bring your bikes with you, if possible. Lay down with us in Malaga Cove Plaza, Palos Verdes Estates to show passing motorists the bloody reality of what happens when bikers get hit by cars.
WHEN: 4:00 – 5:00 PM this Tuesday, December 13, 2016.
WHY #1: To demand that the city install bicycle  safety signage that says, “Bikes May Use Full Lane” (BMUFL signage) which have been recommended by the Palos Verdes Estates Traffic and Safety Committee but rejected by the PVE City Council for no reason other than opposition by a handful of angry residents.
WHY #2: This year, over a three-month period, three cyclists were killed in bike-car collisions on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. This is an unprecedented number of fatalities for this location. Protest activities began after the last of these fatalities, a hit and run in which no one was ever apprehended.  
After working patiently with the city council, and with dozens of cyclists attending many council and committee meetings, the BMUFL signs were unanimously approved and recommended by the traffic and safety committee but rejected by the PVE City Council, who caved in to the localism for which PVE has become globally recognized via media exposure of the Lunada Bay Boys, a local group that has allegedly impeded non-local surfers from using local public beaches. 
The new target of localism has become cyclists. A small contingent of Lunada Bay residents mobilized and ultimately swayed the City Council to vote against the recommendations of its own traffic engineer and its own traffic safety committee, which recommended installation of the BMUFL signage. 
After decades of complaints, the PVE City Council has finally begun to address the Lunada Bay Boy surfer issues following a public outcry through intense media scrutiny, surfer protests, and a class action lawsuit alleging gang activities against members of the surfer locals. However, the same discrimination that has impacted surfing in Lunada Bay for decades is now directed towards cyclists. The PVE City Council chose to side with the local residents and protect their convenience and “way of life” over the lives and safety of cyclists.
It is time for all cyclists to join in solidarity and support safe cycling for everyone in the LA region, particularly PV, where thousands of cyclists come to enjoy the coastline views and hills that have served as training grounds for locals and professionals for decades. 
Show up tomorrow in Malaga Cove at 4:00 PM and support the effort to advance cycling safety and awareness!