What do you fucking bikers really want?

December 12, 2016 § 4 Comments

peace_and_love

I’m a lover not a fighter. And I drawed it all by mysewf.

END

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Methods of misery: Last man lag

December 11, 2016 § 17 Comments

Suddenly you wake up one day and bam! you’re the oldest guy out there. It’s a weird feeling. Your youth is so far behind you that you don’t even need bother with a rearview mirror, and the thing is, it happens bam! and you’re flat fuggin’ old.

There are no benefits to being old, not one, except its apparently marginal superiority to the alternative.

However, back to the wake up and bam! you’re old thing. I looked around in the break on the fake racey group ride and everyone else was either young enough to be my kid or my grandkid and they were tearing my legs off. This made the bam! you’re old thing feel a thousand times worse.

Of course it may have been somewhat demoralizing to them as the fact is pretty obvious that THERE IS NO PRO CAREER FOR YOU EVER EVER EVER NOT EVEN MAYBE PERHAPS IN UNICORN FART LAND IF YOU’RE IN A BREAK WITH GRANDPA.

But even though they were demoralized, they were angry too, because when you are young and strong and fit and forced to ride tire-to-tire in a five-man break with grandpa it is like having a goatshead in your jockstrap, it really does rub you the wrong way.

So we were pounding along which means that they were doing all the work and I was sucking wheel and taking .005-second micropulls, and even that was depleting my magnesium and glucose and calcium and strontium-90 such that it became clear that our fromthegunintheneutralzone (even though there is no neutral zone) stoplightbreakaway (all successful breakaways on the parkway are stoplight breakaways) was going to make it all four laps out on Westchester Parkway but that I might not be part of it at the end.

Two and a half laps in, along came a Hop-in-Wanker. HIWs are a crucial part of the New Pier Ride; they are people who either get dropped or who don’t make the break so they cut over to the other side of the parkway and hop in with the lead group. Usually the Hop-in-Wankers are pretty easily disposed of because of The Rule of Breakaways:

  1. If you weren’t strong enough to make the break, you’re likely not strong enough to stay with it when it comes by or when you hop in.

Unfortunately, this HIW hadn’t read the rule, and he was plenty strong. We were all gassed and he started taking donkey pulls, big, nasty, snot-blowing, leg-straining, horsefly killing, drag-through-the-manure-pile pulls and since we’d been going pretty hard it hurt and broke up our smooth rotation. For me, “smooth rotation” meant “place I could do minimal work.”

A couple of my breakmates began shouting at HIW. “Get the fuck out of here,” they said.

But I didn’t say anything because one of my breakmates, teammate Bader the Bad, was only 18, and the other breakmate, Throttle, was in his early 20s and it seemed to me that this was a teaching moment.

What teaching moment?

Well, the old “how you get rid of the unwanted Hop-in-Wanker” moment. Because it happens fairly regularly that you get some dude in your winning break who is either sitting in or who has a faster finish and you need to get rid of him without taking the whole break back to the field, which is what happens when everyone sits up and starts shouting. And in the whole history of bike racing, no breakmate has ever been dislodged by shouting.

So I told my breakmates to STFU and get the rotation going again, which they grumblingly did and which made Hop-in-Wanker happy to a fare-thee-well. He was gonna do enough work to make sure we stayed away and then charge us in the imaginary sprunt for the fake victory.

My young breakmates were perplexed and kept at it. We were about a thousand yards out from the final turnaround for the last lap. As I rotated by Bader the Bad and Throttle, I whispered, “Hit it at the final turnaround and I’ll last-man-lag our unwanted visitor.”

They didn’t know what I meant but they did understand “hit it.”

We jetted through the final turn and they leapt. The other two breakmates were caught out, and Hop-in-Wanker, glued to my wheel (first mistake), thought I was going to close the gap (second mistake). As my teammates receded in the distance, he realized that it was going to be up to him, and he surged. I latched on as he manfully strove to close the massive gap.

At about the time it looked like he might close, he made a horrible screaming noise as the engine overheated prior to death, accompanied by clunking noises and oil coming out from the bottom as he threw a piston rod,  shot a small Chinese steel city’s worth of smoke out the tail pipe as his power steering and brakes went out, and he steered his 210-pound paperweight over a bit and wildly flicked his elbow for me to come through.

I sat and watched the smoking hulk go slower and slower until he dejectedly reached down for his water bottle, and I attacked him mid-sip. Somehow, perhaps with the aid of drugs, perhaps with the aid of a motor in my frame, perhaps with the aid of mirrors and a facelift, but mostly because the other two riders had caught my teammates and the break slowed for the final reconnoiter before the finish, I could reattach. Hop-in-Wanker was not seen again.

A flurry of accelerations followed, with Bader the Bad cruising to a beautiful solo imaginary victory against the three other breakmates and his grandfather, who viewed the whole thing from a galaxy far, far, away.

Afterwards the littl’uns asked me, “What happened back there at the turnaround?”

“That?” I said. “Oh, nothing.”

END

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Save the kids on foot, kill the kids on bikes

December 10, 2016 § 2 Comments

There will be a die-in on Tuesday, December 13, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, at the Malaga Cove Plaza. If you’ve ever been hit by a car or know someone who has, this is the time to come and show solidarity with the dead, catastrophically injured, and all others who’ve suffered simply because they decided to legally ride a bicycle on the street.

The goal is to encourage the four members of the PVE City Council to erect Bikes May Use Full Lane signage per the traffic safety committee’s engineering recommendation.

Of course, not everyone wants to put on a fake bloody t-shirt and drape themselves over their bikes in the posture of a cadaver. For those who desire to make their concerns heard orally, there will also be a city council meeting later that evening at 7:30 PM. At the city council meeting, you’re encouraged to submit a separate speaker card for every single item on the agenda. The city council really encourages participatory democracy and appreciates it when people speak in detail about issues they confront.

There is however one key item on the city’s agenda that you should definitely speak up on.

This is Agenda Item #9, consideration of traffic safety committee’s recommendation to install a crosswalk for kids walking to school. This has come up twice before the traffic safety committee, just like the recommendation to install BMUFL signs. But I digress. But not really.

As with the BMUFL signs, the traffic safety committee considered the special snowflake NIMBY arguments against doing something for the safety of small children, then went ahead and recommended what anyone on a committee named “traffic safety” would recommend: Slap down some paint to protect children crossing the street.

This item, approved by the traffic safety committee (just like the BMUFL signs!) now goes before the city council for a vote (just like the BMUFL signs)!

This is your opportunity to speak on this issue and point out that the city council has the same obligation to immediately take steps to protect pedestrians that it has to protect bicyclists. In case you wonder why PVE kiddies and their parents are getting chubbier and chubbier, take a look at this photo:

10

Yup. Few of these people live more than a few minutes away from school, but would you really stick your kid up that pedestrian gauntlet of death? Here’s what THAT looks like:

11

Aside from the dig by the city of Palos Verdes Estates at low-rent Rancho Palos Verdes by leaving the “s” off its name, note that the low-rent RPV streets have pedestrian sidewalks, just like parts of low-rent RPV have bike lanes.

Fancy PVE, however, hates anything that detracts from its rural charm, you know, the rural charm of being in a city of 15 million people. That’s also called the “unicorn fart” charm, and can be found in the same location, i.e. Delusionland. So, no street lights, no sidewalks, minimal pedestrian crosswalks for kids, and not one single BMUFL sign. Part of rural charm means hitting people with your car, doncha know?

But back to the city council meeting. You need to put in a speaker card for this issue and remind the city council of the following:

  1. Safe streets shouldn’t have to wait for the completion of the city’s Unicorn Fart Master Safety Traffic Plan which still has no timetable or funding.
  2. Kids walking to school in safety is a good thing.
  3. Kids riding bikes to school in safety is a good thing.
  4. Caving in to safety-hating NIMBYs over logic, sound engineering, and common sense, is a bad thing.
  5. If you want a healthier PVE, get people walking when they’re young.
  6. If you want less traffic congestion in PVE, get moms and dads walking to school with their kids instead of driving them in Buffalomobiles.
  7. If you think that dead road users is a bad thing, put up the fucking BMUFL signs already. Dead bikers are just as bad as dead pedestrian children.

END

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Down for the count

December 9, 2016 § 8 Comments

I got my first Christmas present ever from my grandson; he gave it to everyone else in the family, too. Fever. Puking. Intestine patty melt.

Yes, cyclists get sick, too.

I get a little sniffle a couple of times each year. Then, once every few years I get laid out. Stretched out flat on my back. Sweats, the whole nine yards. Fortunately, either because I have a good immune system from sleeping with the dog all those childhood years and scratching the same fleas he did, I get over this stuff pretty quickly. It’s 30 hours later and I’m 90% recovered, which means I’m more than well enough to consider doing tomorrow’s Donut Ride and racing on Sunday.

“Consider,” I said.

Here are some things that will help you get well quicker when you next get struck by Baby Plague. Baby Plague, by the way, is stronger than usual plagues because in order for it to get the baby sick it has to be extra fucking virulent, especially if baby is breast fed and has the immune defenses of a Death Star. In other words, if it gets through baby’s network, it’s going to churn through your doddering old grampy defenses like a Russian hacking virus on November 8. Baby will be fine in six hours. You’ll be recovering for the rest of the month.

Anyway:

  1. Have a good son-in-law. Ours came over and cooked dinner and made sure we had everything we needed. “Everything” meant vegetable soup with a little beef in it.
  2. Have a good son. Ours, who had just gotten back from college, ran to the store, gave Mom neck and back rubs to alleviate the pain, did laundry, and etcetera.
  3. Don’t eat chocolate. I ate some, thinking it would be an end run around my unruly intestines, but when it came back up it looked and felt like I was barfing, uh, you can figure this out. And it is not a good feeling to look at big chunks of bitter black stuff coming out of your mouth.
  4. Give up. No one wants to be a quitter, but to survive Baby Plague you have to give up. Cancel your meetings, forget answering emails, just give the fuck up. Because you’re not going to impress anyone in that meeting anyway, with your green face and smelling of choco-puke.
  5. Pick up the baby. If the baby who has given you Baby Plague happens to be underfoot the one time you stagger into the kitchen, pick him up. He won’t get sick and he’ll be reassured. Baby knows there’s something wrong when Happy Gramps can’t do anything but stumble and say, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
  6. Count on your friends. They will show up unannounced, knock on your door, and leave you food. They really will.

END

A good time to die! (in)

December 7, 2016 § 19 Comments

Because the Palos Verdes Estates City Council thinks that policing the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch to the tune of $65,000 a year is more important than sticking up five lousy BMUFL signs, and because the Palos Verdes Estates City Council thinks that the best way to handle cycling deaths is to ignore them, there is going to be a special die-in on December 13 to ring in the holidays just the way that the council apparently wants: With lots of dead bodies.

Die-in location: Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates, CA.
Die-in time: 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM.

Dead riders will show up with their bikes and create a “die-in” protest on the lawn in front of Malaga Cove from 4:00pm – 4:45 pm. Following this demonstration, corpses and protesters will meet inside Malaga Ranch Market  for dinner and to brief everyone on the city council agenda items. The city council meeting starts at 7:30 PM. At the council meeting attendees will submit speaker cards and discuss agenda items so that the city council can see that we’re vitally interested in the workings of city government. Since the council has adopted a policy of putting “open public comment” at the end of the meeting, in conclusion attendees will also submit speaker cards to talk about the importance of bike safety and the immediate installation of BMUFL signage. The goal is to make the city council as interested in cyclists’ desire to stay alive as cyclists are interested in the council’s discussions of tree trimming and PVE being contaminated with yucky Torrance dirt (true item of past council discussion).

Informational banners, signs and flyers instructing on the three deaths in PV, the effectiveness of BMUFL signage, the effects of Lunada Bay /PVE localism in politics, and locations where collisions have occurred will all be part of the protest, along with graphic visual demonstrations and reenactments of cyclist/car collisions using live volunteers.
Everyone who shows up will get extra bloody tee-shirts to die in.
The city council meeting begins at 7:30 PM and will run for as long as people show up to speak. Hopefully the city council will continue to see that their policy of outwaiting, outlasting, and outsitting cyclists isn’t going to work. Cyclists want those five BMUFL signs and want them now.

If you’re curious about die-ins and how they work, here are some links to die-ins used in other places to bring attention to the casual killing of people on bicycles.

1.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/dec/01/stop-killing-cyclists-die-in-tfl-protest. This parallels similar barriers to action that have been experienced in Palos Verdes Estates.
2.http://stopkillingcyclists.org/. This  explains the  process behind cycling advocacy, and the measures needed to make tangible changes in traffic engineering. It includes links to many other sites, including one of their own called “stop the killing.”
There will be free pizza at the city council meeting, although the council has now kicked hungry cycliss out of the city offices and required them to eat outside. If you’ve been promising yourself that you will show up and get involved, this is a great time to do it. The more corpses, the better.

END

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Not just propping up the corpse!

December 6, 2016 § 15 Comments

Despite the departure of Vlees Huis and Boulevard Road Race from the SoCal racing calendar, the patient is not yet dead.

This weekend, on December 11, the final crit of the year will be held at the CBR course in Compton. Flyer here.

It’s an upgrade race, and as in the last two races, promoter Jeff Prinz is offering cash primes to Cat 4, Cat 3, Cat 2, and women racers. The total cash pot is $2,500.00, doled out in $50.00 primes. This makes $6,200.00 in cash for Jeff’s Oct/Nov/Dec upgrade races that my firm has shoved into the open palms of eager bike racers, and not just any bike racers, but the ones who are motivated to race, upgrade, and head into the New Year ready to tumble. Er, rumble.

Several people have asked me what the “plan” is.

Don’t they know I don’t have a plan?

My theory has long been that people don’t come to bike races due to a number of structural, generational, and technological problems, to wit:

  1. USAC is actively killing racing (structural)
  2. Kids don’t grow up riding bikes (generational)
  3. Strava (technological)

None of these problems is going to be fixed with a few thousand dollars in cash primes, at least not by me.

But there is another answer to the question “Why don’t people come to races?” and you can only get there by twisting the question like this: “How can you get people to come race?”

The simplest and most direct answer is money. If you give away money at bike races, sweaty, aggressive athletes will come to tear it out of your clenched fist. The only real issues are how much money you give away, and how you distribute it.

If the prizes only go to the best finishers, then it will simply reinforce the pattern that is already so deadening. The top ten are always the same people and everyone else is filler. If the prizes are too small, even if they’re  distributed so that a much larger percentage of the peloton goes home with money, it won’t be enough to encourage people to come back. “Honey, I won five bucks!” probably won’t do it. Except at my house.

Put another way, if every CBR crit had $20,000 in cash prizes, distributed broadly throughout the men’s and women’s categories, race fields would be full. Perhaps it wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would happen over the course of a season.

Full fields work their own kind of magic. They bring families and friends and the curious. The races are harder and therefore more exciting. There are more people paying attention to the results so the competition is harder and therefore more exciting. The fuller fields and greater attention bring more tents, more sponsors, and more advertisers. The more electric sidelines make the races harder and therefore more exciting.

Entry fees rise. Prize lists deepen. More people want to race. In the last three events, upgrade events held long after the “season” is over, turnout has been gangbusters, surpassing Prinz’s expectations by far.

There are lots of problems with the simplistic model of “give away money and people will take it.”

But for 2017, until someone comes up with a better plan, we’re going with it. See you on Sunday.

END

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Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch ponder new treehouse

December 4, 2016 § 7 Comments

The PVE City Council, backed into a corner by class action litigation and threats from the California Coastal Commission, which was none too pleased at the illegal barbecue and drug patio erected decades ago by the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch in order to allegedly privatize public coastline, intimidate non-resident surfers, and help preserve the peace and tranquility of a snobby, mostly-white enclave, recently took jackhammers and bulldozers to the illegal “fort” and razed it to the ground.

The Boys on Mom’s Couch may have even mounted a late-night attack on the bulldozing equipment and did their best to destroy more private property by scratching up some of the equipment and vandalizing the ignitions, as if these were mere annoyances that could be frightened away with the same teen-age tactics they used to key the doors of visiting foreigners from Torrance.

While the city, led by fearless Mayor King, reluctantly agreed to tear down the illegal expropriation of public property, the city nonetheless held firm against the Coastal Commission’s demand that the Lunada Bay bluffs be made open and inviting to the public through construction of benches and viewing areas. According to angry city residents, such artificial, man-made blemishes would blight the pristine view of the coastline, unlike the ugly homes and the illegal fort that had blighted it for the last thirty years.

Cycling in the South Bay sat down with second generation Lunada Bay Boy on Grandma’s Couch Whitey Spanksalot to learn how the “boys,” none of whom is under fifty, intend to deal with this setback.

CitSB: Has the destruction of the fort put the Boys on the back foot?

Spanksalot: It’s a day that will live in infamy, sure.

CitSB: How will you recover?

Spanksalot: We’re planning a Lunada Bay Boys Treehouse. Already got the funding from Mr. Nalrak.

CitSB: Funding for what?

Spanksalot: The signage.

CitSB: What signage?

Spanksalot: Oh, you know, the usual stuff. “No gurlz aloud.” That kind of thing.

CitSB: Gotcha. And where is the treehouse going to be erected?

Spanksalot: We got our eye on a couple of local parks. We kind of like that one over by the little league field.

CitSB: More public property?

Spanksalot: Mr. Nalrak says that’s the best way to keep out the gangs that have been ruining PV for the last forty years.

CitSB: There’s a gang problem here in addition to you guys?

Spanksalot: Oh, sure. Them social biker gangs. They take over the roads, they were the ones who vandalized all the equipment. Keying up cars, throwing rocks at people in the water. We’re filing a class action lawsuit against them. Mr. Nalrak is gonna help us.

CitSB: Who’s this Nalrak fellow?

Spanksalot: Oh, he’s a big deal. Uses a bunch of different names. Lives by himself. No kids. No wife. No friends. Lonely old sagbottom dude. Super expert on sending emails and stuff using fake names. Even has one of those computer web site things.

CitSB: Wow. A web site?

Spanksalot: Oh, yeah. He’s top shelf. Doesn’t even sleep on his mom’s couch, has his own gas card. In his name.

CitSB: Sounds like a pretty successful fellow. Is he also a surfer?

Spanksalot: [Laughs.] Him? Naw! Little bald-headed dude couldn’t stand on a surfboard if you nailed him to the deck and the board to the floor. He’s kind of a joke but he has it in for the social biker gangs, and we like that.

CitSB: So, a treehouse and a “No gurlz” sign. Next steps?

Spanksalot: Oh, yeah. We’re going to take over the little league snack shack until we get the treehouse built. That way we can have sumpin’ to eat. Slugs McGinty will take care of them little brats if anyone raises a stink. Just like we took care of that dude from Muslania.

END