Coffee cream cruise

April 1, 2017 § 26 Comments

Special Ops and I went for a coffee cruise today. We did the Super Wanky Power Loop with Kickerz, hopped the chain link fence at La Venta Inn, went down VdM, on down to Haggerty’s, up the Cove Climb, back up VdM, up Highridge, and up Whitley Collins.

Or as Joann Z. would say, “Just turn left.”

Then we descended Monaco to Hawthorne to PV South to Sea Beans. It was sunny and warm. Some dude was pulling up for valet service in his $200,000 BMW sporty car thingy wearing a matching jogging suit. Michael and I looked at all that money and quietly got free refills of our $1.87 small coffees.

Many years ago Johnny C. had told me about tubeless tars. They were, according to him, “Way better than clincher tars.”

“How come?” I had asked.

“Because no tubes. Just like a car.”

“Cars don’t have tubes?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes. “Not since about 1938.”

“So what happens when you flat?”

“You never flat. That’s the beauty of them.”

I thought about all the times my Dad’s Galaxie 500 had flatted and all the curse words I’d learned watching him work a tire iron on a bunch of bolts that had been put on with an impact wrench. “Never?”

“Never.”

“What about when you roll over a cake filled with razor blades or ride through a glass field?”

“Oh, sure, sometimes you flat. If you’re doing something way crazy, sure, they’re rubber, they’ll slice. But basically it never happens.”

“Never?”

“Mine only flatted once.”

“Then what happened?”

“You just stick a tube in there like it was a regular tar and you’re good to go.”

“So it’s a tubeless tar that takes a tube?”

“If you want it to. But it never flats. Unless you are doing something way crazy.”

“How can it hold air if there’s no tube?”

“Just like a car tar.”

This stumped me because I had no idea how a car tar held air. In fact I had wondered about it since I was a little kid but was always too afraid to ask because I didn’t want people to think I was dumb. Er.

“How does a car tar hold air?” I asked.

Johnny C. looked at me like I was really dumb. “The edge of the tar makes a perfect seal against the rim. No air can get out.”

“How does it do that?”

“You put some sealant in it.”

“Some what?”

“Sealant.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this liquid that sloshes around in the tar and when you put air in it the pressure forces the bead against the rim and the sealant closes off the infinitesimal gap and makes a complete seal so no air gets out.”

“What happens to the sealant when you get one of those flats that never happens?”

“They never flat, I’m telling you.”

“I know. But what happened that one time you got that flat that never flatted?”

“I just put a tube in.”

“With all the sealant?”

“You just kind of wipe it away. It doesn’t make that big a mess or anything. It’s not like your tar is filled with a gallon of white paint. Anyway, they’re the wave of the future. Five years from now no one will be riding tubes. They’ll all be tubeless tars. They never flat, and when they puncture the sealant fills the hole and seals it up, and if once in a million years you flat then you pop in a tube and you’re good to go.”

“I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. I only switched to clinchers from sew-ups back in 2006 and am just now getting the hang of putting in the inner tube. I don’t want to have to learn how to change a tubeless.”

“But they never flat. There’s nothing to change.”

“Except that one time.”

“One time in three years. Think of all the money you’ll save on tubes.”

“Mostly I’m thinking about that one time every three years like clockwork I’ll be 50 miles from home covered in white paint.”

So anyway it was five years later and everyone hadn’t switched over to tubeless tars but a whole bunch of people had, especially ‘cross and gravel types, and Special Ops was one of those types.

We were feeling pretty good after the coffee and the jokes about the jogging suit and the car that cost $200,000 but had probably never been driven over 45 mph, and we were pedaling slowly along Crest, a nicely paved, smooth piece of asphalt that looked like it had been polished that morning with Kiwi shoe wax and buffed with a horsehair brush, so fine it was, and I was on the inside and am pretty sure neither of us was doing anything crazy or even mildly neurotic when pow! There was an explosion louder than a Trump tweet at 3:00 AM and it was followed by the sound of carbon scraping asphalt and how I didn’t fall off my bike from fright I’ll never know.

Special Ops his foot down and looked back at his rear tar which had blown off the rim and the road and his leg, which was covered in what looked like a gallon of white paint.

“What happened?” I said, trembling with much fear.

“Darned if I know.” He took off the rear wheel which was a major operation because these new bikes are all equipped with a slow release and the derailleur falls off when you take off the wheel which itself gave me an aneurysm but he had it under control except for the gallon of white paint that now covered everything, everything meaning his hands, legs, feet, bike, the shrubbery … it looked like Local 157 of the Painters Union had thrown a white paint party.

Special Ops did some surgery on the wheel but the tar wasn’t going to work even though we couldn’t find a hole in it. He shot it up with a couple of C02s and more white paint spewed everywhere.

“Are you going to put a tube in it now?” I asked.

He looked at me like I was really dumb. “It’s tubeless,” he said. “There is no tube.”

“Right,” I said. “I was just testing you.”

Luckily my apartment was nearby so I rode home and Ubered him to work. I think I am going to keep using my clincher tars for a while yet.

END

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Wanky Race Predictor!

March 31, 2017 § 20 Comments

cbr_20170402

Wanky Race Predictor for CBR Crit #4

Last 20 laps of the MP12 race will be fast.

Last 20 laps of the WP123 race will be fast.

Last 15 laps of the Cat 3 race will be fast.

Last 15 laps of the Cat 4 race will be fast.

Last 15 laps of the Old Fart 35+ race will be fast.

Last 15 laps of the Oldest Fart 45+ race will be fast.

Last 15 laps of the Sandbagger 35+ 3/4 race will be fast.

cbr_20170402

END

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Fluff daddy

March 30, 2017 § 36 Comments

This blog has readers from some of the most remote, savage, uncivilized corners of the globe, including Houston. I was alerted to the following news item, amazing because of its cycling content but also because it was considered “news.” How the mighty broadcasters of Marvin Zindler have fallen.

The announcer announces that in addition to being a Professional Cyclist, Jeremy Andrews’s career spanned two Olympics. It’s not clear which Olympics Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews participated in, or in which sport because it certainly wasn’t cycling for the U.S. Maybe Moldova? Or maybe by “spanned” they meant “threw a wrench into”?

Things to note about Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews:

  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews’s secret to so much success is two days off the bike every year, Christmas and Thanksgiving. “There is no off-season.”
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews tells us that as a Professional Cyclist On Long Rides you either “talk to yourself for hours on end or you actually listen to some music.” Tough choices for Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews!
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews’s newest challenge is spin class, which, according to his instructor, is like “a yoga class meets a Beyonce concert on a bike.” Sounds like a personal injury lawsuit to me!
  • Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews likes spin class because of the lights, the sounds, the visuals, and the team camaraderie. Yes, team camaraderie. Perhaps for drafting? Or lead-outs?
  • Spin class allows Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews to work out with people who normally wouldn’t ride with him because who could keep up with Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews? Certainly not Ol’ Grizzles!

I phoned up Ol’ Grizzles, who lives in Houston and is in the build phase for our upcoming 2017 Mallorca Bike Ride and Face Stuffing.

“Have you ever heard of Professional Cyclist Jeremy Andrews?”

“Fuck no,” said Ol’ Grizzles. “Who’s he?”

“He’s been in a couple of Olympics and rides in Houston. He’s kind of a big deal. Figured you’d know him.”

Ol’ Grizzles choked down another hot dog and quart of beer. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST JEREMY ANDREWS. He was on the Houston TeeVee. Trains 363 days a year. Houston rider. Professional. No off-season. Totally legit.”

“Look,” growled Ol’ Grizzles. “It’s past my bedtime. I never heard of this fuckstick.”

“Can I send you the video clip?”

“I guess,” Ol’ Grizzles snarled.

A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Ol’ Grizzles. “What a putz,” he said.

“Who?”

“You for wasting my time. And Jeremy Andrews for being a professional idiot. The only pro cycling career I can imagine that clown having was fluffing on the team bus, maybe.”

“Don’t be so harsh. The TeeVee said he was a Professional Cyclist.”

“I don’t care if it said he was President Obama. And if you’re going to send me stupid videos send me something less stupid than that, like a cat coughing up a hairball or something.” Ol’ Grizzles hung up.

It sounded like he was going to be in a bad mood for Mallorca.

END

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Hired Guns: Part 5

March 29, 2017 § 42 Comments

Part 5: Let the Past Speak for Today

If you had told me last July, when I participated in the first protest against the PV Estates police department and the city’s failure to seriously deal with cyclist safety, that I would be digging into old newspaper articles about the PV elite’s choice of Halloween costumes in the 1960s, I would have given you five dollars and suggested a shelter.

But here I am, doing exactly that, following the wicked strands that explain how PV Estates became what it is, and trying to figure out how that can inform someone trying to decide whether, as a rider, your fortunes are best with the local cops or with the county sheriff. Because racism in PV Estates didn’t simply begin in 1923, it is alive and well in the present.

Indeed, it never left, and in the words of the city’s own boosters, it was until recently something to be bragged and chortled about in the society section of the Palos Verdes News. This newsclip from 1965 tells you much of what you need to know.

1965_halloween_party

And for those who think that 1965 is ancient history, that things have gotten so much better, there’s the memoir by Jennifer Baszile, who recounts the welcome her family received when it moved from “low-rent” RPV to toney PV Estates:

braszile_black_girl_next_door

This bit of “ancient history” occurred in 1975. Still, some will argue that 1975 was more than forty years ago and that surely things have changed. Except that as of 2014, they hadn’t. At a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, one of the surfers alleged to be a member of the Lunada Bay Boys surfer gang purportedly donned blackface and an afro wig. Did I mention it was on MLK Day?

lunada_bay_boys_blackfaceA year later, garden variety racism in PV Estates had blossomed into allegations of a full-on hate crime. On the September 11 anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York, PV Estates teens savagely attacked a Pakistani liquor shop owner in the city, beating him to a pulp and causing serious injuries. In this amazing bit of reporting by the Daily Breeze’s Larry Altman, readers are presented with the anguish and suffering… of the teens’ parents, who now find themselves being sued by the victim. Instead of focusing on the teens’ admissions that they almost beat the victim to death, the Daily Breeze makes sure that its readers know that defense counsel believes the victim is “looking for dollar signs.” Getting beaten with bats is a tough way to earn your payday, is all I can say to that.

 

And why stop in 2015? 2016 had this gem:

racial_slur_on_car_pvhs

Finishing with a current racism update for 2017.

swastika_pvhs

So there you have it, racism fans: A founding document enshrining segregation, and an unbroken string of hate crimes and racist activities stretching right up until three days ago. Does anyone doubt that PV Estates has a problem?

Department of Justice investigation, anyone? And yes, this has something to do with cycling. But even if it didn’t please tell me you’d still be appalled.

END

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Hired Guns: Part 4

March 28, 2017 § 55 Comments

Part 4: White-out, Whites In

The PV Estates CCRs came in three booklets, one for each of the city’s three subdivided tracts: Margate, Lunada Bay (home of the racist surfer gang, and Valmonte. The beginning of each booklet is promotional copy designed to show new home owners how fortunate they are to own property in this exclusive, snowflake community. It’s all harmless stuff until you reach page 4. In each booklet the third paragraph from the bottom is whited out.

promotional_introduction

Before …

After finishing the ad copy I came to page 17, which lists the actual declarations setting forth the covenants and community regulations. Article I contains the basic property use restrictions, and Section 1 lets you know in no uncertain terms that if you wanted to erect a “columbarium” in PV Estates, well, you’d better take your funeral urns elsewhere. In the same vein of keeping the neighborhood Beaver Cleaver wholesome, landowners were barred from erecting institutions for the care of those “afflicted with tuberculosis,” the “mentally impaired,” and the “victims of drink or drugs.” This last prohibition might empty out much of the community, and especially the high school if ever enforced. A ban on the mentally impaired would take city council qualifications to a whole new level.

Section 1 then mysteriously skips to Section 3, and it’s not because the founders couldn’t count to 2. It’s because, as with the ad copy on page 4, the Palos Verdes Homes Association has meticulously gone through each and every CCR booklet and whited that section out.

article_1_section_2_white-out

I got a can of acetone, a pocket knife, a piece of Scotch Brite, and sat down with a cup of patience. Carefully sopping the Scotch Brite with acetone and gently rubbing it over the white-out, little by little the censored text appeared. On page 4, here’s what it said:

promotional_introduction_cleaned

After.

And on page 17, the cleaned up text read thus:

article_1_section_2_cleaned_complete

So my suspicion about Garrett Unno was borne out—not to mention other anti-cycling opponents active in PV Estates with non-Caucasian names like Zaragoza and Bianchi. They all live in a neighborhood whose CCRs specifically and legally stated that no one of “Asiatic descent” or not of the white “Caucasian race” may live there. Other names immediately came to mind: Council member Lin, new council member Kao …  they all sounded pretty “Asiatic” to me.

After a bit more reflection it occurred to me that perhaps the offensive language had been whited out for an admirable reason. Perhaps the PV Homes Association had, after Shelley v. Kraemer and the passage of Civil Code 1352.5, voted to amend the declarations. Perhaps the homes association whited out the language because these odious racist restrictions had in fact been stricken from the CCRs and it was cheaper to use liquid paper than reprint a whole new set of books. Perhaps PV Estates wasn’t still living on its racist foundations after all.

That’s about the time the results from my title search came in. I’d run the search on the home in PV Estates I once rented, 1720 Via Zurita. With the exception of changes to property setback rules and alterations in the minimum housing prices, nothing else in the CCRs had ever been amended, at least according to the title search for this property. The racially restrictive language in PV Estates, as far as I could tell, was alive, well, and still breathing life into the prejudices of the people who lived there — regardless of whether or not they were legally enforceable.

And in case you wanted to know where the Palos Verdes Homes Association stood on the matter, well, look no farther than the white-out, because that’s the language assuring whites they will always be in. They’ve whited it out, but you know, wink wink nudge nudge, the real meaning is literally just below the surface. Of course it’s still possible that the CCRs have been amended and recorded with the county and my search simply failed to turn them up.

We all know about founding documents that don’t have the force of law but that nonetheless serve as moral and philosophical guiding lights. The most famous one is our Declaration of Independence, which had no force of law but whose aspirations to freedom for all people were the moral philosophy that abolitionists and those who believed in civil rights never lost sight of. The hopes and dreams of noble ideas can work their way down through the years to bring out the best in us.

But on the other hand, the foundational philosophy of racial hate that underpinned PV Estates has carried its noxious stench down to the present day. Harassment, violence, exclusion, corruption, and even death have been its spawn. And to make the irony perfect, that legacy is propagated by people in PV Estates, who in the technical terms of the CCRs that originally governed this special little snowflake on the hill, are still non-white, non-Causasian persona non grata.

END

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Hired Guns: Part 3

March 27, 2017 § 28 Comments

Part 3: Under Their Thumb

As I slowly got sucked into the Biker Gang Imbroglio, a contest between people protesting the death of three cyclists on the PV Peninsula and a small coterie of outraged residents who hated cyclists, the bad people began coming out of the woodwork. In addition to the “everyone knows who he is” anonymous troll, a handful of PV Estates residents, rather than hiding behind anonymity, publicly decried the presence of cyclists in their city and strongly opposed any steps to erect signs or to enforce laws protecting them.

One of the city’s most committed opponents to signage was the husband-wife team of Garrett and Cynthia Unno. At first I concluded that they simply disliked cyclists, didn’t want outsiders (black people) in their city, and had zero concern for the recent victims, one of whom, John Bacon, may have been murdered.

But the more I listened to their implacable opposition to the basic safety steps recommended by the city’s traffic safety committee and approved by the city council – decisions later rescinded thanks to anti-cycling anger – the stranger it seemed. Of all people, Garrett Unno should have been advocating for cyclist safety. Of all people, Garrett Unno should have been on the side of the weak and the harassed. Of all people, Garrett Unno should have been fighting for justice.

Why? Because he is apparently of Japanese descent.

So?

To answer that resounding “So?” I had to dig a little bit more into Supreme Court history, because the segregation of communities like PV Estates didn’t stop with Buchanan v. Warley, and it wasn’t limited to blacks. In fact, after Justice Day struck down city ordinances banning the sale of property to blacks, communities like PV Estates, far from throwing in the towel, approached the goal of segregation even more aggressively than before.

And in California, where the object of white hate was every bit as intensely directed at Chinese and Japanese as it was at blacks, newly forming communities had a brutally racist and segregationist tool at the ready: A device called the racially restrictive covenant.

Thanks to the single most destructive decision by the Supreme Court ever directed at civil rights, aptly named The Civil Rights Cases, the Fourteenth Amendment was held in 1883 to apply only to state action. Private discrimination and segregation were and are still legal. PV Estates and almost every new community in California used this carte blanche to write restrictions into their founding documents that forbade ownership by certain people.

“Certain” had a specific meaning: “Negro,” “Of African Descent,” and “Asiatic.” Racially restrictive covenants eventually ran aground in 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled that although racist restrictions were legal, the Fourteenth Amendment forbade their enforcement by the state. The case was Shelley v. Kraemer, but it had little effect on desegregation because by 1948 communities like PV Estates were already lily white and the Federal Housing Administration had already been redlining California communities for ten years, a practice that made it impossible for blacks to buy property in “white only” areas as designated by the federal government’s housing agency.

As I read the Supreme Court decisions and sifted through the copious online information about FHA redlining, I started wondering about PV Estates. What did its original covenants, conditions, and restrictions – its CCRs – actually say? Were they really racist? And if they were, had they ever been amended? In other words, were people like Garrett Unno the specific target of racist exclusion from PV Estates? Were people like Garrett Unno, non-whites, still living under CCRs in PV Estates that technically forbade them from living there, even though such bans were unenforceable?

I began to doubt whether such restrictions had ever even existed. The more I searched the less I found. So I hired a title company to do a search on a property in PV Estates, hoping that the search would come up with the original CCRs, as well as pull all of the amendments that would show me that even if PV Estates had originally been a racist-zoned community, at some point in the enlightened future the residents would have amended them to strike out the offensive language, enforceable or not.

Since CCRs were given to all new homeowners in the city by the PV Homes Association, it was inconceivable that along with your purchase you would receive a shiny copy of regulations banning all blacks.

Then I heard back from the title guy, who said “It’s gonna take a while. And in the meantime you might check with the city clerk to see if they have a copy.”

I did, and they didn’t. But they referred me to the Homes Association, which happened to office next door to city hall. I called. “Can I get a copy of the city’s CCRs?” I asked.

“Sure!” the cheery woman said. “Just come down and pick up a copy.”

The next day I was sitting on my couch with copies of the original CCRs. Almost a hundred years old, printed on the highest quality paper, yellowed from age but still sturdier than any new book you’ll find at Barnes and Noble, this was the founding document that governed your residency in the city when you joined the community as a property owner in 2017. And what I found in it was incredible.

ccrs_cover

Original 1923 CCRs for Palos Verdes Estates, Lunada Bay Tract

END

Peak performance

March 26, 2017 § 18 Comments

The best way to win the Donut Ride is to wait until a big race that attracts all the hitters. To quote Derek the Destroyer’s “First Maxim for Winning”: Your results are predetermined by who shows up.

The San Dimas Stage Robbery had started on Friday, and the usual complement of legit racers was, quite literally, off to the races. Leaky and creaky, I never have a chance to make it first to the top of the radar domes, but today, well, there was at least a chance.

At the bottom of the Switchbacks the group of twelve riders broke apart and by the first turn it was me, Tasker, Roberto, and Marco C., with Marco sitting on the front and churning out the watts. I sat on his wheel for a bit but he’s been in training and is now tipping the scales at 118, a weight that makes Strava Junior look like a fatty.

I dropped back to suck wheel behind Roberto while Tasker had the unenviable task of sitting behind the wraith. Marco dragged us all the way to the college, where Roberto pulled off, and then Marco dragged us all the way to the domes. I planned a sneak attack at the end to punish him for doing all the work, but well before my treachery he simply accelerated and pedaled away from us.

I surged by Tasker and elbowed him into the cones to keep him from getting fake second in our fake race.

Marco is fast and tough and has been around forever, one of the mainstays of the South Bay, but now that he’s on the air and water diet he’s simply leaving behind those of us who enjoy chocolate and donuts (not to mention chocolate donuts). Which got me to thinking about peak performance vs. mediocrity.

There are a lot of superlative riders in the South Bay, but many of them peak and valley. The peaks don’t usually last for long, a season is rare, two seasons Bachmann’s warbler rare … and the valleys can go on for years. In fact, some riders hit an extended peak and you never hear from them again.

On the other hand, there is a whole gaggle of hackers who never hit peak anything. As I like to say, my athletic profile is “slightly better than half-assed.” We mediocre riders never peak, but we never valley, either. Where we were last week is pretty much where we’ll be next week.

I’ve wondered why peak performance riding is so often correlated with extended disappearances. Part of it is the difficulty of achieving “race weight.” The other part is the awful horrible terribleness of FTP workouts, metering your farts on TrainingPeaks, and of course the bane of the non-insane, intervals. It takes so much to be your best. The other other part is that once you enjoy the rarefied air of putting everyone to the sword, it sucks to droop to the back of the bus, hanging on for dear life at the mercy of whoever the latest Peak Performance Flavor of the Month happens to be.

It’s why Eddy Merckx doesn’t fly over from Belgium every Tuesday for Telo, I guess. In his (limited) worldview, competing in our local training crit isn’t as impressive as winning five Tours and setting an hour record.

But to be your most mediocre? That takes considerably less than your best and it leaves room for chocolate donuts. It’s damned hard to do 3 x 20s, whereas it’s darned easy to ride with Gussy and have a croissant … and which person do you think is smiling at the end of the ride? Hint: It’s not the guy who just eked out another .01 w/kg and is going home to a dinner of one boiled egg and a sprig of raw kale.

Put another way, mediocrity is a long-haul tool; excellence is a roman candle. Both have their place, and the life of the ascetic sure looks enviable when it’s dragging you around with your tongue in the spokes.

But man, that chocolate donut …

END

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