But what about me?

April 30, 2016 § 33 Comments

There was much joy and happypantsing when laist.com reported that Douchey McDouchebag a/k/a Dennis Reed finally got his comeuppance for trying to kill a pair of cyclists, then compounded murderous intent with suicidal stupidity by dancing a jig of “They punched my car first!” in front of the TV cameras and following it up with a fresh sprig of perjury by filing a false complaint with the police.

Douchey’s fancy driving video and his performance on the small screen earned him a walk down the perp carpet and a “Misdy Award” in the form of an arraignment set for May 11. The charges? Misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and filing a false report. Whether anything will come of it remains to be seen. My advice to Douchey is that he mortgage his apartment, return his keys to the Audi leasing office, and lawyer fucking up.

But what about you? What about me?

We get buzzed all the time. Mostly people are trying to kill us through benign neglect. They have pressing updates to like on Facegag, or they’re responding to a crucial text message about how Pooky told Dipsy that Donkey wasn’t going to be the third starting pitcher in next Saturday’s Little League game, and bam! They *accidentally* whack us and it’s an *accident* and we’re *accidentally* on life support for a year or five. Oh, well.

Other times, though, there is evil, bad, life-taking intent. You know the drivers. They target you. And they either miss, or they pull out at the last minute, or you pull off the escape of your life, or you get flat fucking lucky, and after the exchange of a few middle fingers everyone goes on with his life until the next time, when someone doesn’t. And the someone who doesn’t is always the cyclist, never the cager.

For most riders, there is a fairly good roadmap for what to do when you get hit, and by now we all know that it’s usually a very good idea to call a lawyer. Me, for example.

But what about when you don’t get hit? What about those times when the driver tries to hit you but fails? Is there anything you can do about it?

The short answer is “yes,” but it’s not easy. Sometimes you’re really angry and then the anger recedes and you feel lucky to have survived. But other times the anger doesn’t go away, or you’re reminded of the rider who took the time to file a complaint against the infamous Dr. Thompson. Dr. Thompson intentionally hit Ron Peterson while descending Mandeville, and the doc got jail time because of the prior report.

In other words, when the violation is egregious enough, it really does make sense – sometimes – to not simply roll over and get on with your life because the person who tried to kill you may well kill or injure someone else.

What follows is a rough re-wording of a very excellent email I received from a cop who’s been in law enforcement for over twenty years, and it’s well worth filing this away if you ever find yourself the victim of some jerk who thinks that your life is as disposable as a candy wrapper. As a lifelong adherent of plagiarism and stealing the good work of others, I’ve taken his email and changed it enough to avoid a cease-and-desist letter but not enough to take away from his excellent work.

“If it’s so excellent,” he even asked me, “why the hell’d you rewrite it?”

“Sorry, dude,” I told him. “If Homer sent me his final draft of the Iliad and the Odyssey, I’d rewrite that, too.”

So the first question you have to ask yourself regarding any buzzing incident is this: Was the act of “buzzing” intentional? This is key because with few exceptions only intentional acts are crimes.

If you have video or solid witness testimony that shows the driver really did intend to buzz you, then that constitutes assault with a deadly weapon, and it’s a violation of California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1). In your case, the deadly weapon is the car.

Based on many descriptions of such events, not to mention my own close shaves with cager crazies, it is often clear that the answer is “yes, the action was intentional.”  But you have to be sure of that on your own, and it’s extremely beneficial to have witnesses or video. Once you’ve concluded that the driver intentionally tried to hit you, go to the police station whose jurisdiction includes the location of the incident and file a report.

  1. Do not call.
  2. Go there in person.
  3. Be prepared to wait.
  4. Be prepared for them to do everything in their power NOT to file a report.

If you’re at the station, you have decided that you want to involve the police. It’s not easy and it’s a hassle; despite constantly telling people to contact the police, few do. But ask yourself this: How are you going to feel if you read an article a week from now that a cyclist was mowed down by the same driver who buzzed you? If you believe that society is only safe when we look out for each other, then you have a duty to do this.

Once you have decided to do this, don’t waver. Do, however, be nice.  And most of all don’t try to cut any slack for this unknown driver who almost killed you. Stop feeling like a bad person because you are calling out someone else’s conduct, and don’t feel bad about the negative consequences that will occur to the driver of the car. The driver was a big enough boy or girl to try and kill you, now he or she will be big enough to deal with the fallout.

If you begin to waver, the police will immediately detect this and do everything they can to avoid taking a police report. Face them firmly, politely, and with the same calm resolution that you’d defend your spouse or child. If you have to, hum a few lines to yourself of “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

So now you’re in the station and you have to demand a report. Not ask for one. Not suggest they write one. Not beg for one. You have to demand it. And you have to demand it politely and without hesitation. Do not leave the station without what is called a DR number for the report. Statements by the police such as, “We will keep an eye out for the guy,” or “I will give you an incident number” are unacceptable. You’ve gone to this much trouble to get a DR number and you owe it to yourself and everyone else not to leave without one.

*Important note: The term “DR number” is a term specific to the Los Angeles Police Department. The LA Sheriff’s Department calls the same number a “URN number.” Other police agencies call them varying things. What you need to do is get assurance that the officer handling your complaint is going to provide you with a police report and you should probably get the name of a detective or detective supervisor who is going to follow up on the police report.

When you demand the DR number, it’s practically guaranteed that you will be told one of several things, all well-practiced moves by the police to send you home and keep them from having to do their job.

#1.  “Why didn’t you report the crime at the time it occurred?” Your answer should immediately be, “Can I speak to your watch commander? I won’t allow you to blame me, the victim of a crime, for my conduct, when it is clear that a crime occurred.” Do not engage any further with a police officer who asks you questions like this. It is inappropriate. When you do speak with the watch commander, make sure you tell the boss about the conduct. And remember, you’re in a police station. Any escalation of tone or hint of violence or threats on your part will wreck your endeavor.

#2.  “This is not an assault with a deadly weapon, you need to report this to the Traffic Division as it is a traffic matter.” Your answer should immediately be, “Can I speak to your watch commander? You are incorrect, but I do not want to argue with you about the law.” Do not engage any further with a police officer that asks you questions like this. It is inappropriate. It is also abundantly clear that he does not know the law. When you do speak with the watch commander, make sure you tell him about the conduct. Direct the watch commander to the following case: People v. Wright, 100 Cal.App.4th 703. If the watch commander doesn’t understand what that is, you are going to have to insist on talking with his boss.

If all of that fails and you’re here in LA, call me. I’ll go with you to the station and we can jointly explain the basics of PC245(a)(1) as interpreted by People v. Wright, 100 Cal.App.4th 703. We’ll get the DR number and we’ll get the wheels of justice turning.

END

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What are you training for?

April 29, 2016 § 28 Comments

I was standing in the bar, downing my third craft water and feeling my prostate start to bulge. BD was downing something with a bit more horsepower, and he was not happy.

“Fuggin’ wanker brake-checked me! Tried to take me out.”

“Bummer, dude,” I said.

“Bummer? Eff that! That guy’s a fuggin’ head case! He brake-checked me and tried to take me out! Why didn’t you do anything?”

“I didn’t see it. And I’m not your mother.”

“Eff that! It’s your ride, dude. You’re the enforcer. That was bullshit!”

“It’s not my ride, I’m not the enforcer, and every pelodrama has at least two versions, if not a dozen. Plus, you’ve been doing this long enough to know The Rule.”

“The Rule?”

“The only person responsible for what happens to your front wheel is you.”

He thought about it and drank some more Thought Stimulator. “What’s your next race?”

“I don’t know. Barry Wolfe?”

“Ugh. Crits. So no Dana Point?”

“No. I’m off the bike for the next few days.”

“How come?”

“I just did three back-to-back days of 5-hour rides and I need to rest.”

“What are you training for?”

“I’m taking a trip next week.”

“Really? Where?”

“Mallorca for ten days.”

BD stared, then had some more Thought Stimulator. “Dude! You’re going to Mallorca? To ride?”

“Yes. And yes.”

“Oh my fuggin’ dog! That’s bike porn! You’re going to be buried in bike porn for ten fuggin’ days!”

“Bike porn?”

“Dude! It’s the best riding on earth! It’s Disneycycleland times a billion! Who are you going with?”

“A group of crazy people, unfortunately.”

“Taking the family, eh?”

“No, they’re staying home. I’m meeting up with Ol’ Grizzles from Texas and his band of Ted Cruz Moral Majority crazies, and then we’re going to be joined by Ole Oleson and his band of Merrily Grim Norwegian Salted Fish Eaters.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Ol’ Grizzles is a riding buddy from Texas. We became immediate and lifelong friends when I showed up on a ride on my steel Eddy, no helmet, and wool jersey, and beat the snot out of the local West Houston posers. He and some of his gun nut abortion-haters go to Mallorca every year and do a week or so of super hard riding, which basically means one day of going full gas and seven days of recovery beer and feasting on smoked hog testicles.”

“What’s the Norwegian reference?”

“So Ol’ Grizzles and his buddy Shit in the Lane had another friend, Ole Oleson from Norway, who was stationed in Houston as part of his company’s plea-deal to avoid prison. He could have gone to jail or to Houston, so he picked what he thought was the lesser of two evils and found out he was wrong. Anyway, Ole rides like a maniac for the three weeks every year that Norway isn’t covered in snow and ice and mud and vodka, and he brings some of his buddies to meet up with the Texas crazies, and it’s kind of a Man Tour on testosterone supplements. They’ve badgered me the last couple of years to join them as they need riding lessons, but all of my kindergarten-bike classes are too advanced for them so I’ve always declined.”

BD heard about half of what I said, maybe. “Dude!” he urgled. “Bike porn!”

“Yeah,” I said. “Bike porn. Whatever that is.”

“So what’s the plan? What rides are you doing?”

I took out my phone and showed him the latest missive from our Directeur de Démembrement:

Dear Weak-legged Ones,

Le Tour de Mallorca 2016 is coming up fast, much faster even than your carefully planned training schedule, which you meticulously plotted out last August yet doubtlessly put off until the week before departure. That is okay. You are likely well prepared for eight days of hard, mountainous riding with those two extra-long rides to and from the liquor store. Mallorca is mostly easy riding and will accommodate your efforts much as your manufacturing sector has accommodated the “inferior” competition from China.

In short, do not worry.

As Directeur de Démembrement I have promised to come up with an assortment of rides. This seemed daunting at first since, given your riding profiles the only “assortment” that would fit involved flat rides to the liquor store, as mentioned above. However, there should be something for everyone, from large sections of flats where Shit in the Lane will hammer for a mile or two until he has to dig deeply into his Suitcase of Excuses (which will be well-filled prior to departure), and climbs where our Norwegian contingent has finished translating a few chapters of Egyptian hieroglyphics before the Ted Cruz Contingent catches up. We even have rides where Ol’ Grizzles will be able to tag along, at least until the right turn out of the driveway. Maybe. The distances vary from 65-ish to 100-miles with a possibility to cut some of them short, and a guarantee to cut all of them short for Grizzles and SITL. Note that I use miles because the complexity of the metric system is too confusing for a group of Texans who are still trying to decide whether a birther Nazi or an Islamic State Christian are the better standard bearers for America’s highest office.

We are a rather large group, although we will become much smaller as the days pass and the rides tend to select towards fitness, preparation, ability, and mental fortitude, meaning that we will more and more tend to be exclusively Norwegian. My hope is that early on, if the Cruz Contingent can avoid complete drunkenness on Night One, we can manage some discipline and should be able to cover some ground. However, knowing some of you guys and my experience with you on the West Oaks rides I know that things will most likely fall apart. My scheduled plans for the rides are just that; plans. To borrow one and the only intelligible quote from Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Just a suggestion, but bring face masks.

Enclosed are both the GPX and KML coordinates for the rides. I doubt that anyone with an American high school or college degree can read them, however, the files can be uploaded to Google Earth or other applications such as AskYourChild.com. Mapmyride is free and takes only a couple of minutes to register, although its terrible interface and complexities (you will need to have your child help you with the instructions to “log in” and “register”) will deter most of you. Your 5-year-old, however, will be good to go and will see the routes with distances, feet of climbing, and other cold, hard facts that no amount of bragging to your wife will now allay. SITL and others should be wearing diapers when they see the daily routes for the first time.

Should you have a GPS device please upload the rides. It won’t help you go faster, and it will certainly subject you to merciless shame should you have the bad judgment to upload your ride times to Strava, but it will help when you get utterly, completely, and thoroughly lost, which will happen each time the road tilts up, the speed picks up, or we pass a bar. You do not want me at the front all the time shouting directions, as when excited I revert to my native Norwegian, and for safety reasons we certainly do do not want any of you up there.

After speaking with our Officier  d’Hébergement I trust that he is in control of the accommodations. The left pig sty is for SITL, and Ol’ Grizzles has first dibs on the horse barn. I know you will all enjoy the new culinary experience of Mallorca. Make sure to bring your favorite bowel irrigation device.

Please make sure that you all include cycling shoes, a bib short, and jersey in your carry-on, though for most of you a pair of gym shorts and flip-flops would more than suffice given the length of time you will survive the actual rides. The Specialized  “bicycles” that our US friends will be shipping over may be impounded by Spanish authorities as imitation bikes; don’t say we didn’t warn you in advance to rent rather than travel with 400-lbs. of poorly made American-branded junk.

Please let me know how the GPX/KML files work out and if there are any issues uploading them that your children can’t immediately resolve.

Regards,
Munch
Directeur de Démembrement

END

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Freddies on the edge

April 27, 2016 § 47 Comments

I got a message from Scott S. the other day. He had heard about the collision from two weeks back in which South Bay cyclist Steve Shriver was run over on PCH, suffering catastrophic injuries. Coming hard on the heels of Jon Tansavadti’s death in March, as well as a rash of near misses in Long Beach, Scott was concerned.

“Anything we can learn from these tragedies?” he asked.

My answer was simple. “I don’t have the answer, Scott, but I can tell you this: What we’re doing now isn’t working.”

Then we talked about the gaping hole in our cycling experience, otherwise known as the utter lack of formal cycling education. Steve had been run over riding single file, up against the edge of a construction zone. Jon had been killed by a right-turning moving van.

We can argue all day about where they were and where they should have been, but we can’t argue about this: Neither rider had ever taken a formal bike education course–one, with more than 30 years of experience, the other, with less than twelve months.

Perhaps education isn’t the answer, but it sure seems like a great place to start. Moreover, whether education can save any one person is less important than the grim recognition that collectively the cycling community spends way more time on gear and clothing and equipment than it does on education. We encourage people to ride, help them select a fancy bike and a cool kit, and throw them to the wolves.

“Would you come ride with us next Wednesday and talk about this?” Scott asked.

“Sure,” I said. “What time?”

“We roll at 6:00 AM sharp.”

I gulped because that meant a 4:50 roll-out from PV, and there was only one other person in all of Los Angeles crazy enough to get up at 4:30 so he could meet me at 5:15 and pedal through the bowels of the nation’s biggest port at daybreak to ride with the Long Beach Freddies.

In short, this was a job for Major Bob, the grumpiest guy with the biggest heart in all of cycling. “Can you squire me to the Freddie ride on Wednesday?”

“Sure,” Bob said when I explained the misssion. He didn’t mention that on Sunday he’d be doing the 145-mile Belgian Waffle Ride, and that on Tuesday he’d knock out a cool 90 doing the NPR beatdown and a legstretcher up the 6-mile Mandeville climb.

At 5:15 sharp he was there at the corner of Vermont and Anaheim and Gaffey and PV Drive, and a happening place it was.

7-11

I was apprehensive about proposing education to the Freddies because despite their name they ride with some of the best people in cycling. Tony Cruz is one of the Freddies, as well as Olympic gold medalist Steve Hegg and Rio aspirant Nate Koch, and their fast Fridays are, well, fast. Very fast. One of the walls in cycling has always been between the fast people in lycra and the slow people with mirrors. Needless to say the one don’t always take kindly to advice from the other.

Problem is that the mirror dorks are the ones who have actually studied  riding in traffic from a perspective more sophisticated than “bunnyhop the curb, flip off the asshole driver, and keep going.” Going to the Freddies and pitching a dork session was, I feared, going to be a hard sell.

It was anything but. Unlike most clubs, which operate with multiple levels of decision making atop glacial epochs of implementation, the Freddies have a “Fuck it, let’s go,” attitude. They politely listened to my speech.

“So where should we start?” Scott asked after I finished.

“Maybe four or five of you should take the Cycling Savvy Dorkcycle and Autopsy Avoidance Course like we did at Big Orange, see if it works for you, and then think about encouraging some of the other members to do it.”

“Nah,” said Scott. “We’re in, all of us.”

I blinked. “All of you?”

Bill H., not known for his lengthy speeches, stood up. “This is important and we need to do it. We’re in.”

So as far as I know, the guys down in Long Beach are the nation’s first speed club to take formal cycling education as seriously as they take their clothing. Which is, frankly, incredible, and which, if it prevents even one collision or saves even one life is worth it a million times over.

I’m humbled and awed.

END

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The ebikes are coming! The ebikes are coming!

April 26, 2016 § 57 Comments

One time I was whining to friend about using computer technology to compose music. “So bogus!” I declaimed.

“STFU,” he advised, being a composer. “If Mozart had had it, he would have used it. Musicians always use the best thing available. The piano was a revolutionary instrument and Mozart owned it.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but if he’d used a program to compose I can guarantee you one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“His music would have sucked.”

The first time I saw an ebike up close was a few years ago. Greg S-J had a new Specialized ebike that, with a tweak and a twist of Old No. 72, had been programmed to go 30 mph. “Great,” I had said. “Next we’ll have Smedley Sagbottom on the bike path doing 30 as he learns about things like the grippyness of sand in a screaming turn.”

As old and change-resistant and bitter and grumpy people are wont to do, I predicted the following:

  1. People will begin racing them.
  2. They will become ubiquitous.
  3. It will be the end of civilization.

Two out of three isn’t bad.

When I was in Germany last summer dragging my son uphill along the Rhine from Cologne to Koblenz, we passed hundreds of ebikes going the other direction. We never passed a single ebike going in the same direction.

The ebikes were all pedaled by old German people who were getting exercise or running errands or casually whipping by the world’s fittest and most delusional 52-year-old profamateur SoCal bike racer from New Jersey who grew up in Galveston and Houston. And that last part made them sooooo happy. The first hundred times a creaky-kneed Opa showed me a wrinkly pair of heels it made me grind my teeth so much that I lost most of my enamel. But actually I was just following the Five Stages of Grieving for Getting Owned by an Ebike.

  1. Anger.
  2. Rage.
  3. Murderous rage.
  4. Wild, uncontrollable fury.
  5. Defeat.

So then back at home the ebike thing continued to grow, and continues. Some people complain because of e-doping, where pro cyclists put tiny motors in their bike to add a few watts when the going gets tough, cf. Fabian Cheatsalotta in the Tour of Flanders. Others complain because it ruins the purity of the sport, where results depend on training, diet, natural ability, computerized watt meters, a race director with a radio who can instruct you exactly how hard to pedal and for how long, and a doctor who can advise you how to beat the drug tests.

In fact, some people care so much about ebikes that they have left cush jobs in the cycling industry, as if any job is cush, and as if cycling is an industry instead of a mafia for dumb people.

But back at the Mozart Ranch, though, where you pretty much have to admit that people will grab whatever technology gives them a leg up on everyone else (Charles Darwin wrote a book about it once), the world is shrugging. Motors let fat sprunters climb with the goats, and they let skinny goats sprunt with the big boys. Just kidding. If you are a tiny climber you will never beat a sprunter, even if he’s on a Big Wheel and you’re on a Ducati. That’s because sprunters win mainly on balls not watts. However, I’ve heard that Specialized is coming out with a pair of eBallz that will take care of that problem, too, and also make a cool ornament for your trailer hitch.

No, the world doesn’t care that we’ve moved on from human power to e-power in bicycles. The slow will get really fast, the homebound will get out and take the lane, and the nature of racing will shift from drugs-radios-computers to drugs-radios-computers-and-motors. Ah, excuse me. IT ALREADY HAS.

And don’t cry on my shoulder. There is actually a world for people who like obsolete shit that performs badly and only looks good because it’s old–it’s called Penny Farthing Racing and Classic Car Collecting. Help yourself to some nostalgia, and don’t forget to wear a helmet.

END

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All the right reasons

April 25, 2016 § 8 Comments

I carry around my over-stuffed suitcase of non-courage, zippers broken and shit spilling out, handles frayed, two of the casters broken and the other two wobbling frenetically in opposite directions, only to find that it’s too big to be checked, or that there’s an extra cargo charge of $250, or that the best memories inside have fractured in transit into microtiny carbon splinters, or that the TSA has stolen my prized participant ribbons, or that upon reaching my destination the bag has been shipped to Malaysia on a Dutch flight that can no longer be found but is certainly somewhere over, or more likely in, the Indian Ocean.

The suitcase of non-courage is heavy, too heavy for a mortal to lug, and is so mixed with history and life and regret and misremembrance of things past that I wonder why I continue to drag it around from ride to ride, from race to race, from overwrought faux Grand Fondue to overwrought Faux Fondue.

This is precisely where I found myself on Saturday, another wasted weekend spent in search of that which by definition you will never find, and it was exactly at the nadir of the whole experience that the chaff fell away and the kernel lay, revealed.

I’d been relegated to the sidelines, which was fine, because after completing the first four BWR’s I was done abusing myself for the sake of someone else. The exhaustion and wreckage visited upon man and equipment alike by the Belgian Waffle Ride was nowhere more evidenced than in its effect on the ride’s founder, Michael Marckx, who had finally cobbled together the Dual Divinity: A ride so hard that he was afraid to do it, and a companion easier, shorter, flatter ride that he could actually win. It made me happy to see my friend, after so many years of teeth-gnashing defeats and failures, finally declare himself victor of his own event.

But more than the happiness of seeing Michael hoist himself on the shoulders of the myriad volunteers, friends, and admirers who had come together to make the BWR happen, I saw something else, something that penetrated, at least for a few moments, the hardened shell of skepticism that coats what remains of my battered and tattered old suitcase.

It was the incredible happiness of my friends and comrades at Big Orange cycling who launched into the event with full abandon and reaped the confidence and success that comes from lining up and finishing such a monstrously difficult ride. For the first time in my five years of struggle with this terrible day in North County San Diego, I stood at the finish line cleaned and scrubbed and utterly un-tired and un-hungry, watching in awe as my friends pedaled squares past the big banner, their faces as drained and beaten as any historic shower-stall photo from Paris-Roubaix.

Covered in dirt, many of them sported torn-apart clothing, shattered equipment, bloody limbs, and a kind of disbelief that they had managed to ever get back. One friend collapsed on a table, unable to even remove his helmet. I’ve never seen anyone collapse on a tiny round bar table, standing.

But as each rider revived, some after spending twelve hours battling a course that was simply designed to punish, and as they ate, then drank, then plunged their faces madly into the mounds of ice cream-covered-waffles, smiles began to play and the stories began to roll out.

Stories of fellow riders who simply dismounted and quit. Riders who were carted off in an ambulance. Equipment failures of every variety. Mental failures, physical collapse, “the wall” of endurance, pushing beyond, far beyond, anything they’d done before, and conquering this beast of a ride with sheer desire to complete a ride that the ride’s founder himself didn’t dare to attempt.

Although my suitcase of skepticism no longer has room for flowery praise of the “resilience of the human spirit,” the grandpa in me appears to have room for nothing else. These friends have accomplished something–what they’ve accomplished is unique for each of them, and its significance will really only reveal itself over a rather long period of time. Thanks for letting me sit on the sidelines and cheer you on.

Big O Riders (If I’ve left off your name or last name please add it in a comment!)
Denis Faye
Josh Dorfman
Rob Dollar
Paul Kellen
Stella de la Vega
Delia Park
Joann Zwagerman
Tom Duong
Scott Rosenberg
Don Wolfe
Dawn Irick
Jimmy Huizar
Matthieu Brousseau
Matt Miller
Justin Okubo
Brian Channell
Mark Maxson
Kevin Nix
Bob Frank
Fred
Andrew
Jeff Hazeltine
Robin Kaminsky
Troy Emanuelson

Big O Cheerleaders
Marilyne Deckman
Chris Gregory

Big O Saints: These two guys spent the day in Dan’s Jeep covering the route and fixing bikes, providing medical aid, getting injured riders back to their hotels, and serving as roving rangers to protect and serve.
Dan Martin
Carey Downs

END

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Hardest Belgian Waffle Ride ever

April 24, 2016 § 22 Comments

It was 146 miles of hell, dirt, rocks, and relentlessly battering climbs.

But I didn’t do it.


END

Tough guy you ain’t

April 23, 2016 § 15 Comments

Does anyone besides me remember the Tour de Louisiana from 1984? There was a 5-mile TT, a 60-mile RR, and a crit in Baton Rouge. It rained like a bastard the last day and we all slid out over and over in the crit, picked up our bikes, and kept on riding. I did it with teammates Jimbo Martin and Kevin Callaway the Good.

What I remember more than the racing and the nasty hotel with the wet spots on the sheets was this dude in the road race. He was about twenty, long black hair, and stuffed chock-full of rage. From the moment the road race started until we dropped him with about twenty miles to go he did nothing but yell, shove, threaten, and curse.

“Get out of my way, you dick!” and “Move over you asshole!” and “Watch what the fuck you’re doing, cuntface!” and more, many more, each oath emphasized with a threat about how if you didn’t like it then get off your fucking bike right there and he would whip your fucking ass. “Get off your bike now !” he was heard shrieking when the final acceleration came that dropped him for good.

This was the first time I’d heard so many threats of physical violence in a bike race, as if the violence of falling off your bicycle and breaking your head wasn’t enough, but it sure wasn’t the last. Over the years I’ve seen so many angry, underwear-clad Little Lord Fauntleroys get into raging whup-ass-talking-contests that it hardly even gets my attention anymore.

Of course the best is when the pixie-armed combatants are old fellows, promising to rain death and destruction with their mighty fists on the object of their contumely. Leaky prostate slap fighting is high comedy of the highest sort.

Still, a few weeks ago I heard some youngsters threatening to murder one another with their fists so I thought I would repeat some words of wisdom for those riders out there, decrepit and sprightly alike, who think that because the are Sprint Beasts or Climbing Machines or TT Assassins that they are tough guys.

  1. Bicyclists are not tough guys, especially when they are wearing colorful underwear to highlight their shaved legs.
  2. Tough guys make their way in the world with their fists, not with heart rate monitors and glucose replacement drinks.
  3. Cage fighters, bare-knuckled boxers, knife fighters, and people who kill other equally armed people in hand-to-hand combat are tough guys, especially when they finish the job with a bayonet. Everyone else is not a tough guy.
  4. Cycling is a tough sport but that doesn’t make you a tough guy (see exhaustive list above), in the same way that using a hi-tech cell phone doesn’t make you a hi-tech person.
  5. Cycling isn’t nearly as tough as marathoning, RAAM-ing, free climbing, or ultra-off road running. But those people aren’t tough guys either.
  6. Even if you get off your bike and “settle it right fucking now, like men” you are still not a tough guy. You are wearing cleats on the bottom of dancing shoes that are often painted bright red or hi-viz yellow. This means you are as tough as Fred Astaire, only not nearly so because he could carry a woman over his head and danced professionally until he was almost 90, whereas you can’t even help your wife with the trunk-full of groceries and the last time you had to dance at a wedding you crushed her big toe so badly that she walked with a limp for a month.
  7. The toughest guy in the peloton wouldn’t last a half-second in a fight with anyone who fights for a living or even as a serious hobby. You would get the shit beaten out of you like this guy did, minus the cheering crowd and the backflips.
  8. Even if you go to the mat, beating up another praying mantis in a skinsuit doesn’t make you a tough guy, it makes you a bug-squasher.
  9. Look at your arms. Now shut up.
  10. If you like to settle arguments with fisticuffs, why are you bicycling in your undies? Has no one explained to you that the winner is the one who rides the fastest?
  11. Nowadays everyone has a video camera, and you’re about to become a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons. END

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