July 27, 2016 § 24 Comments
The best way to attend a city council meeting, it turns out, is by doing a full-gas, 60-minute training crit immediately prior. That way your legs will be shattered and you will be grateful for the chance to sit, no matter how many hours it takes.
In the case of last night’s Palos Verdes Estates city council meeting, whereat we had gathered to support bike signage and oppose the naysayers who think that death is a reasonable “Darwinistic” penalty for cyclists who fail to follow all traffic laws, the main thing we had to do was sit.
And sit we did.
We sat through the Citizen’s Academy award ceremony. We sat through the cupcake-and-Snapple social which followed, well, we didn’t “sit” so much as we rushed the snacks and behaved as only cyclists do when presented free sugary food. We sat through the presentation on the attack on the water supply. We sat through the discussion of the Helicopter Noise Safety Committee. Most astonishingly and butt-painfully, we sat through the discussion of the dead elephant in the park retaining wall and turnaround with $70,000 engineering study for fire safety that the battalion chief said wasn’t needed and the $100,000 county grant and the $400,000 hot tub and the hammerheads.
By the time the council got to Item No. 7 it was almost 10:00 PM and the standing-room-only crowd had thinned to the hardy, relentless, grizzled, ass-toughened cyclist contingent for whom three hours seated on a plank was barely even a warm-up.
The council stared in horror at the 23 speaker cards piled in front of them, because with a 3-minute allotment for each speaker it meant that no one would get home before midnight. That’s when Delia Park proposed that, out of pity and mercy for unpaid city council, rather than subject them to 109 minutes of “I been bikin’ since … and as far as bikes is concerned I think … and iff’n you ast me … ” we would simply appoint Bearclaw to get up and speak for all of us.
I thought the mayor and a couple of the council members were going to cry out of gratitude, and even though they gave Bearclaw an extra two minutes to speak he wrapped the whole thing up nice as you please and the council voted:
- To pull down and throw away the evil and distasteful “Bike Laws Strictly Enforced” signs.
- To put up the beautiful and majestic “3 Feet It’s the Law” signs.
- To send the “Bikes May Use the Fuggin Lane” signs back to committee for further study.
I staggered out and pedaled home, immensely grateful to the city council and to each one of these people for showing up and democracying:
- Lane Reid
- Ivan Fernandez
- Bob Spalding
- Joey Cooney
- Patrick Noll
- Yasuko Davidson
- Seth Davidson
- Craig Eggers
- Joann Zwagermann
- Brent Davis
- Greg Seyranian
- Tom Duong
- Pete Richardson
- Don Wolfe
- Greg Leibert
- Delia Park
- Gigi Kramer
- David Kramer
- Kristie Fox
- Wendy Watson
- Chris Gregory
- Francis Hardiman
- Bruce Steele
- Michael Barraclough
- Kathryn Kempton
- Geoffrey Loui
- George Sefler
- Gerard Melling
If you’re bummed that you didn’t get to spend from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM seated on a church pew hearing about hot tubs and dead elephants, there will be a next time, and it will be soon!
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July 26, 2016 § 27 Comments
I just got back from a three-hour meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes traffic safety committee, where a group of resident numbnuts had thrown together a petition demanding that the city illegally ban cyclists from “their” .7-mile of roadway, and require “permitting” for group rides.
There was so much stupid to wade through that it’s impossible to sum it all up, so I’m just posting my meeting notes.
- Massive thank you to chair Jessica Vlaco, vice-chair Dave Kramer, and committee members Yi Hwa Kim, Henry Ott, and James Guerin. These people truly define community service and government by the people.
- Vice-chair Kramer (to city staff): Is it legal to ban bikes from a public roadway? City staff: No. [You’d think that would be the end of it, but noooooo … ]
- Local Moron #1: It’s dangerous to share the road so we should ban bikes!
- Local Moron #2: There are many collisions on Crest Rd. East!! [Sheriff Department has records for ZERO collisions there in the last five years.]
- Local Moron #3: Bikers have to ride so close to the edge of the road which is too narrow and dangerous!!
- Local Moron #4: All 76 homes in our gated sub-sub-subdivision of Rancho Palos Verdes Estates suffer from hazardous conditions caused by bicycles! There are no other roads up here! They train on weekends! They are hazardous for all! There’s no space! Cars can’t pass but motorists must pass! I almost hit one! There are numerous accidents here! Residents are held responsible for accidents! My friend’s nanny who is on vacation with the family now in Africa and can’t come was in a collision with a biker! The bike struck her car and it was the biker’s fault but he SUED HER!!! [Cf. sheriff’s records of no reported collisions.]
- Local Moron #5: This is a huge safety issue. I almost hit a cyclist!
- Local Moron #6: Each resident in our sub-sub-subdivision has at least two vehicles, not to mention our housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, and service worker people. Cyclists endanger all of us!
- Local Moron #7: There are cyclists who are not polite! They should hurry up!
- Local Moron #8: I spent an additional half hour getting home because I was stuck behind a peloton! Bikers are like people whose dogs crap on your lawn!
- Local Moron #9: I’m concerned about safety! Cars are big! It’s a blind corner!
- Local Moron #10: I’ve lived here 34 years. There have been 5 accidents! It’s out of control!
- Local Moron #11: I asked the guards to count bikers one weekend! There were 158!
- Local Moron #12: Some cyclists almost hit me! These are blind turns! There are no bikes on freeways! Public safety requires banning bikes! Many bikes ride four abreast every day it’s why we’re frustrated! City liability! This is an unsafe situation!
- Local Moron #13: My son almost failed his driver license test because he drove too slowly! And all those Orange outfit riders from Orange County on the Donut Run!
After being subjected to a perfect vacuum of fact and rational thought, the cyclists had their say. Mostly we were amazed at all the hatred, especially since we are the ones getting creamed and killed, not the angry NIMBYs in the sub-sub-subdivision with Palos Verdes Estates envy.
And of course the bikers made out with a few actual facts, such as:
- Banning bikes is illegal.
- There are no records of collisions along this deadly stretch of turrble deadly roadway.
- The law lets bikes take the full lane when it’s too narrow to share with a cager.
- You can fix this non-problem with sharrows, Bikes May Use the Fuggin’ Lane signage, 3-Feet It’s the Law signage, and citations for scofflaw motorists and cyclists.
- Anecdotal “deadly cyclist” stuff is crap; if you want to understand the roadway’s safety issues, commission an engineering study.
- If you’re so concerned about our safety, how come you never reached out to us?
- We’re not responsible for other riders, just like you’re not responsible for irresponsible cagers.
- And the best, by far, was Michael B.’s takedown: You people are so dumb and lazy that you didn’t even bother to check the law before you signed a petition demanding that the city violate it. Also, there’s a solution to pesky cyclists and it’s codified: Slow the fugg down.
- The real issue is out of control cars: 33 drivers have been cited for unsafe driving and not a single cyclist.
- Lumping all cyclists together is offensive and no different from lumping together people of an ethnic group.
- Best of all was Dave Kramer’s impassioned speech regarding law and the obligation of drivers to slow down and pass safely. The committee then voted to examine sharrows, BMUFL signage, lower speed limits, and an engineering study as ways to make the scaredy sub-sub-subdivision residents and their nannies feel safer.
Finally, one of the last local morons admitted that what they really wanted to do was to make the public road private and they intended to petition the state to give them the road. Such an amaze-balls power grab was great to see, because it proved what the angry invective suggested all along: The sub-sub-subdivision residents really just wanted to steal public land, perhaps in the hope that the extra square footage would make them feel better about not living in Palos Verdes Estates.
Best of all, putting the total lie to their claim that they were in it for “bicycle safety,” all of the resident maroons left after they’d vented and didn’t stick around for the real item on the agenda, which was approval of a work plan that included development of a bike safety master plan for the entire city. The minute it came to hard work, or cooperation, or understanding the other person’s point of view, or, you know, actual bike safety, they were long gone and venting on Facebag and NextDoor.
Frankly, their departure was awesome because a big contingent of bikers stuck around and requested that a subcommittee be developed for the bike safety master plan that included the voice of local cyclists.
Huge thanks to every cyclist who showed up. Barraclough, Leibert, Duong, Landes, Zwagermann, Cooper, Cooney, Loui, Kempton, Park, Richardson, White, Meyer, Phillips, Robertson, and about half a dozen other names that escape me made the marathon session and spoke up when it counted.
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July 24, 2016 § 23 Comments
I’m a regular on the Donut Ride but hardly very good at it. Eventually the pace picks up and I get shelled. However it occurred to me that there are dozens and dozens of riders who have never even seen the front on the climb, much less struggled for a top-five placing.
So armed with a hand-me-down GoPro from Robert Efthimos, I shot yesterday’s ride so that everyone who’s only imagined what it’s like can see what they haven’t been missing.
Yesterday’s Donut Ride was small, probably 40 or 50 riders. Eighty or more aren’t uncommon. Small groups make it harder because there are fewer places to hide. A number of big progatonists were absent, but the presence of Diego Binatena (pro), Rudy Napolitano (ex-pro), and Dan Cobley (coulda been pro) meant that it would be plenty hard.
People actually get dropped on the first climb out of Malaga Cove, then a few more when we make the run through Lunada Bay. Below is a shot of Lane Reid, pushing the pace. Lane has more KOMs on Strava than pretty much anyone in the South Bay, but he always gets shelled early, which goes to show that being a champion on Strava and beating actual people are two wholly different endeavors. He’s plenty strong, though, but is displaying a key mistake of Donut Ride shellees: Spending energy early. It took me years to learn that every pedal stroke early in the ride will come back to haunt you when the ride tilts up.
He’s got forty riders strung out on his wheel. This is definitely a glory pull, because he’s going to get obliterated.
Now we’ve pedaled for a ways and are approaching the turn up the Switchbacks, the first climb of the day after several miles of undulating rollers that have taken the pop out your popper. In front are all the key players: Rudy, Diego, Dave Jaeger, Dan, and Garrett Bailey. Here’s another place that people make the big mistake of being too far back. The pace will increase on the Switchbacks and people will blow up, forcing you to close gaps.
Only a couple of such efforts and even though you’re with the leaders you will be in the red and unable to respond to their accelerations. I always tell people to pick a good wheel and follow it all the way to the bottom of the Switchbacks. Positioning isn’t that hard as there are lots of flailers, but if you’re inattentive you’ll be too far back at exactly the wrong time.
Here, I roll ahead of the group and actually lead out the climb. This is always unwise, but I’m just keeping momentum, not pushing the pedals. No matter how good you feel at the bottom, you will feel worse towards the top, so no matter how slow you have to go to get other riders to pass you, do so. Some people like to take a quick glance back here but I never do because it’s guaranteed that the hitters are still there and they are NOT pedaling hard. I roll for a little along the fog line giving the next rider plenty of room to come through.
In this case it’s Garrett Bailey, a super strong rider who doesn’t do the Donut often. He typically rides with the Dave Jaeger Morning Crew, but for some reason has decided to come do the Donut today. He’s a fantastic wheel for me. He’s about my height, about my size, and is a former Olympic rower from Georgetown, so he has a mighty engine. Part of surviving on the Donut when you are old and feeble as I am is to pick the right wheel.
Garrett is also a good wheel because he holds a perfectly straight line and when he blows he easily swings over; no crazy death wobbles or scary head-droops. He’s like a mule, steady and strong and I love his draft because I know he’ll never attack from the front, a move that always breaks my confidence.
Garrett has tired, or perhaps he’s realized that everyone is keyed on his wheel and it would be wiser to save energy. In any case, there’s a mini-swarm as all of the hitters push by. I haven’t looked back but there can’t be many riders left. Garret has kept the tempo pretty high so you know that anyone who was too far back is now done for the day. The mini-swarm provokes anxiety because the hitters are accelerating but they haven’t attacked yet. Here’s where you will regret having glory-pulled before the climb.
This is also a good point to take stock of who’s there because it’s essentially how your epitaph is going to be written. With Diego you know he will attack and drop you. With Rudy you know he will attack and probably drop you. If not he will sit up, attack again and certainly drop you. Cobley is a question mark. Sometimes he gives up and is nowhere to be seen, so even though he doesn’t have a super fast attack, which means you can sometimes latch on when he chases, you can’t always count on him to drag you back up to the leaders.
Jaeger has little acceleration on a climb, so he won’t go with the big attacks. But he has a massive motor and a high top end so if you plan on sitting on his wheel you need to be super tiny and be able to endure endless misery. He is relentless. You can also see that in a matter of minutes the entire group has been whittled down to six riders and no one has even attacked yet. Dave is now at the front and it’s punishing. Diego is queued up behind him and I’m on Diego’s wheel. This is problematic because Diego can easily attack from the front and Rudy, who’s behind me, can easily follow. The only thing I can easily do at this point is quit.
This next section is funny because even though he’s not the strongest rider, DJ hits the front hard and really pushes the pace. He is probably trying to get rid of me and Garrett, and maybe he’s testing Cobley to see if Dan is “on” or “off.” In any event, after an effort like that so early in the climb I would have been completely done for the day. Another difference between me and Dave … one of many …
Unexpectedly, Dan now attacks. No one responds in the first few seconds and he races away. For me it’s a no-brainer. Chasing will mean droppage, and it’s unlikely I can go with Diego or Rudy, the only two guys strong enough to chase him down. So I have to wait and see what my fate will be, like a lobster in a tank trying to figure out whether the customer has chosen me or my buddy.
These attacks don’t look like much, but in real life they happen more quickly than lightning. You’re already totally on the rivet, and a speed differential of even a couple of pedal strokes feels like the difference between strolling and running a 100m dash against Usain Bolt. Everyone struggles here, and the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that no matter how fit Dan is, he’s going to ease off soon. “Soon” being a relative term, unfortunately.
As expected, Diego counters and this isn’t one I can even think about following. It’s also disheartening. I know I’m pegged. I know that he’s light years better than I am. And he waltzes away with what seems like effortlessness. My momentum keeps me going, though, and suddenly I’m out ahead of the others; Diego’s acceleration has splintered the group.
This is utter hell because now I’m off a wheel. I’m not strong enough to ride by myself and mentally I’m too weak to push on and try to cover Diego. So I have to wait and play lobster again. Unfortunately the others are way back now, so I calculate that in a few seconds Rudy will come rocketing by (uncatchable) and then Dan/DJ/Garrett. My only hope is to soft pedal until they catch me and suck wheel some more. We’re not even halfway up the climb.
In a few seconds Rudy punches through and bridges to Diego. This is unthinkable and demoralizing. I watch them turn into pinpoints. My breath is pretty heavy about now.
About now is when you have to have a mental trick box. These are the tricks you use to fake your body into doing what it wouldn’t otherwise do. All your adrenaline has subsided and there’s nothing left but lactic acid and searing pain. “Why am I doing this?” “This is stupid.” “I’m too old,” etc.
Sure enough Garrett comes by and I latch on. My mental trick is simple. I call it “One equals ten.” This means I tell myself that for every pedal stroke I can hang on, the fuckers chasing have to do ten. It may not be true, but it works for me.
Garrett is steady and strong and although I don’t exactly get any recovery, my heart rate drops a couple of beats so that I can at least hear myself crying and convince myself that the worst is past even though I know that it’s really only just getting started.
Cobley is intent on catching Rudy and comes through hard, then attacks from the front. Diego has pulled over somewhere and is no longer in the picture, and Dan knows how demoralizing it is to attack someone from the front. He’s also under a little pressure here because he’s riding with the Depends contingent. Cobley is 35, DJ is 55, and Garrett is in his 40’s. I’m 52, so there’s no honor for Dan in smacking around a gang of geezers. He can’t just beat us, he has to leave us in tatters.
This is his second monster effort and I can’t imagine how he can do another one, which is okay because after towing us around like a ski boat hauling an inner tube we’re going to hit the wall on Crest and I won’t have to imagine how he’s going to conjure up another attack because he’s going show me.
A lot of the time I will see people pull this move on the wall and I’ve done it a zillion times myself. It almost always fails because it takes so much effort to go fast enough to drop your companions that when it flattens out you have to slow down and catch your breath. The droppees, however, not having gone completely into the red, peg you back and then with a slight counter they can dust you off. So 99% of the time it’s a bad move to attack hard here, unless of course you’re Dan, in which case you can punch it and then keep the gas on while the droppees wonder who switched out the lights.
I’ve run out of ways to describe pain by now, but we all stood up and nothing happened. In a little bit Dan had bridged to Rudy and we were fighting for old man scraps. I don’t have a lot of options here. I’m not strong enough to attack Garret and I’m sure as hell not strong enough to attack Dave, so I cast about for another wheel to suck. Happily, Garrett obliges for a bit and I get over the worst part of the wall and the subsequent gradient.
Somewhere along the way DJ gets it into his head that Garrett and I really suck and that what he wants to do is catch Dan and Rudy. This is a problem for me because if I follow Dave’s wheel I’m not going to get much of a draft, but if I follow Garrett’s wheel he’s going to blow and I’m going to have to close a nasty gap.
Choosing expediency over strategy, I hunker down behind Garrett and await the inevitable. Garrett works like a Trojan to stay on Dave’s wheel, but like Hector getting slain by Achilles, he’s no match for the Argonaut.
Garrett explodes gracefully, head bowed, hand waving me through, and I have to go bathyscaphe-deep to claw my way onto Jaeger’s wheel. Dave could drop me anytime now, but he settles in and begins banging away at every nerve in my body with a steady, relentless drilling. The thing that’s so awful about this is that even though I’m on his wheel and getting the benefit from his draft, mentally it is horrible to think that I’m completely pegged out and haven’t done a lick of work all day. DJ has attacked, covered, accelerated, and pulled, and he’s not done yet, while I’m younger, slower, weaker, and hanging on like one of those baby teeth about to come out but for a tiny string of fleshy pulp still holding it into the gum.
DJ also sees Dan and Rudy up ahead and they’re riding side by side, chatting. We’re all in simply to keep them in the viewfinder as they chattily discuss gear ratios and the silliness of old farts trying to keep up with young men. Then Cobley accelerates and they vanish.
Now my goal is simple: Don’t quit and let DJ drag me to the end. What could be easier? The hardest part is over! All I have to do is dig deeper and hold on! He’s older than I am! I’ve done nothing all day! I CAN DO THIS!
Except no, I can’t.
See? The Donut is the same for everyone, after all.
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July 23, 2016 § 25 Comments
I don’t worry much. Okay, I don’t worry at all. I leave that to other people because there seem to be so many who specialize in it.
However, I do get depressed. It’s not often but it happens. Last night I got real depressed. It was hot. No AC. REM didn’t come, and monsters flitted across my brain.
I got depressed thinking about Trump and about what a bad person he is.
I got depressed thinking about the millions of Americans who really think he is a good person.
I got depressed thinking about what a bad person Hillary is.
I got depressed thinking about the millions of Americans who know she is a bad person but are going to vote for her because Trump is so much worse.
I got depressed about my legs. They are old and keep getting slower.
I got depressed about friends of mine who are having problems.
I got depressed about my family.
I got really depressed thinking about the Saturday blog I hadn’t yet written.
I got depressed thinking about the Donut Ride and about how I was going to get dropped.
I even got depressed about my oatmeal, which is generally the high point of my day, along with my coffee.
Eventually I drifted off to sleep and woke up punctually at 5:30. Then I got depressed again and slept in until 6:43, and sat on the edge of the bed being depressed about wasting the best part of the day being depressed.
I was so depressed I didn’t do any of my morning routines. Didn’t turn on the computer. Didn’t check the ‘Bag. Didn’t check email. Didn’t read the news. Didn’t listen to the ARD broadcast which was going to be saturation coverage of the Munich amoklaeufer.
Instead, I ate my oatmeal which was thankfully tasty and not depressing at all, and drank my coffee which was super happy and cheerful, and I sat down on the couch and watched an Anna’s hummingbird perch on the feeder and drink some nectar.
Then I picked up a book that’s been on my re-read list for a long time now but I’ve been too busy with SHIT to get around to reading it, Gravity’s Rainbow.
I sank into the couch and the book. I learned a bunch of new words in the first twenty pages. It was so calming and relaxing and pleasant even though it’s about German V2 rockets slamming into London terrorizing and killing people.
The day was quiet outside and I could hear the symphony snoring of my loved ones reverberate throughout the apartment.
The book was so engrossing, especially the part about fried bananas, which made me hungry all over again, and happy.
I realized that I had been overloaded with electronic input. Emails, Facebags, Internet news, and Things To Do That Have To Be Done. The book was my tonic and suddenly I was at peace.
I read a few more pages, then dressed and went for a bike ride.
I got shelled on the Donut Ride of course.
But I didn’t care.
July 22, 2016 § 38 Comments
Every once in a while I let my guard down and think positive thoughts. Recently, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes committed to developing a bike master plan through its traffic safety committee. I was at the meeting where that decision was made and it was awesome. Kumbaya and etc. and such.
Then further letting down my guard, the city of Palos Verdes Estates was receptive at the committee level and at the city council level to installing some Bikes May Use the Fuggin’ Lane signs. The vote occurs on July 27, so it’s not a done deal, but the process has been positive and invigorating.
Finally, when I was on the verge of recriminating myself as a crusty, distrustful, skeptical old shit and admitting that cagers really aren’t a bad lot, they’re simply people like you and me who happen to choose to lock themselves into inflammable steel boxes rather than pedal freedom machines, I got this happy note:
On Monday one agenda item for the TSC [in Rancho Palos Verdes] to discuss is whether to ban cyclists from the top of Crest Road between Ganado Drive and the domes. The city has received a petition with 100+ signatures from local residents requesting that. I doubt very much that this will pass since it is a public road. The petition claims that the road is unsafe for cyclists and there have been numerous accidents. They also asked if Big Orange has obtained a permit that indemnifies the city from liability. Here is a link to the agenda:
You have to admit this is pretty awesome. We actually have one hundred people who live in an exclusive neighborhood at the top of a hill overlooking the sea who are so concerned about cyclist safety that they have gotten a petition together to ask the city to appropriate public roads for private use.
You may think, “Hasn’t that been tried before?” and you may wonder “What happens when a group of crazies tries to take public property?”
You may even be surprised that a gang of rich cagers are so consumed with the safety of bicyclists that they’re willing to close public roads to bikes to protect us from ourselves, even though we’re convinced that riding our bicycles instead of riding the couch makes us happier, healthier people and better citizens.
This is one where, unfortunately for cyclists, the cagers are right. The best people to decide how to use a road are the ones who live near it. Having cyclists storm up and down Crest at all hours of the day (by the hundreds, if not thousands), having bikers hither and thither, and most importantly, having pedal pushers getting hurt on a road that is simply too dangerous for them as evidenced by the one or two crashes per year are all excellent justifications for closing a road to a particular type of traffic.
The standard that the residents have enunciated is a good one and makes for sound policy. Let’s review:
Close roads that endanger users.
Require groups who insist on dangerous road use to indemnify cities/counties against lawsuits stemming from injuries that occur there.
I will be attending the Monday, July 25 traffic safety meeting to wholeheartedly support this, and hope you will, too. In addition to closing Crest between Ganado and the radar domes, I will be making the following additional proposals for consideration by the committee using principles 1 & 2 above.
- Close the 405, 110, and 91 freeways. These roads see thousands of collisions and hundreds of casualties. To date there have been zero bicycle fatalities on any of these roads, so banning them to cars and opening them to pedestrians and cyclists makes sense and will protect millions of vulnerable cagers.
- Require every group of more than two people who use a roadway to buy comprehensive indemnification insurance, with immediate application to FedEx, UPS, and every business with more than two vehicles. Also include every household with more than two vehicles.
- Close every road in Rancho Palos Verdes to the type of vehicle that has the larger number of collisions, beginning with Crest Rd. between Ganado and the radar domes.*
- Since closure/banning are more desirable than improving conditions to make the roads safer, such as paving dangerous cracks and potholes, putting up Bikes May Use the Fuggin’ Lane signage, education, and law enforcement, the city of RPV should apply the closure/banning principle in all of its deliberations:
- Close the Pacific Ocean.
- Close the airspace above RPV and preferably the state of California.
- Close the insane asylum from which the petition signers have obviously escaped.
*Oops! That will mean closing it to cars! Sorry!
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July 21, 2016 § 4 Comments
Every now and again someone comes up with a great idea to help promote cycling in SoCal. These ideas usually founder because they are a) unprofitable b) unprofitable c) extremely difficult to maintain.
Although it’s too early to proclaim it a financial success, Brian Co has started an ambitious podcast project at socalcyclist.org. This fills a huge void for news and quality information about what’s going on in the SoCal bicycling world. With fourteen episodes since its debut on April 20, the project is going strong.
Better than print, the podcast format lets you download each episode and listen to it when it’s convenient. I spoke with Brian about his idea and he said, “There are no local cycling news podcasts. If you want to listen to a one-hour symposium on disc brakes, sure, that’s being done. But local bike news? Nothing. So I decided that’s what I’d do.”
The results are of astonishingly high quality. Brian uses state of the art recording equipment and he goes all-out to put together programs that will interest anyone who cycles in Southern California.
Best of all, he’s creating a model for every other locality in the world that wants to showcase the very best regarding its cycling community. Give it a listen. You will not regret it!
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July 20, 2016 § 21 Comments
There is a new poison in the herbicide arsenal, stronger than Roundup, Banish, Barren, and TK-10 all lumped together, one so nasty and lethal that where it is poured nothing will thrive, nothing will grow, nothing will live.
We started Telo last night with our eyes glued to the fancy winner’s jersey plastered on the back of Smasher, knowing that whatever else happened, it was going to hurt us more than it hurt him, and it would be unendurable. Smasher’s race plan was simple: Smash.
His ultimate goal? Get the winner’s jersey for his teammate Derek the Destroyer, who a couple of weeks ago had officially retired as a profamateur, gained ten pounds, quit training, and places top-five now in every race he enters.
My plan was simple. Follow Smasher’s wheel, also known as Belling the Cat. Destroyer opened Lap 3 with a fierce attack, which I easily followed. All I had to do was go harder than I’ve ever gone in my life, then add ten percent. We were quickly reabsorbed. After following Destroyer around for another lap or so it seemed wise to slip farther back.
We had a large field of broken and hopeless wankers, none of whom had the slightest chance of surviving the carnage that was about to be unleashed. In a flash, just as I had settled back to check my phone and see how much money I’d lost for the day on Chinese real estate stocks, Destroyer went again and took six riders with him.
Being at the back when the winning break rolls is the stupidest feeling in the world. You watch it happen from afar, slack-jawed at your bad judgment, while all of the idiots around you either don’t know what’s happening, don’t care what’s happening, or, like me, pray to dog that someone will take the bit between his teeth and do all of the nasty work dragging you up to the split.
Then I spied Smasher, who was cheerily pedaling along, not the least concerned. “That wanker,” I said to myself. “He totally missed the split.” So I got on his wheel while a few panicked riders took turns trying to organize a chase.
[*Note to non-racers: “Organize a chase” is a fantasy concept that exists in the minds of people who think that a group of people who hate each other will work together for a common cause, cf. Republican National Convention in Cleveland.]
As we rounded Turn 4, I saw Smasher, who is British, arch his lower back slightly, tighten his grip on the drops, and push down harder on the pedals. “This is it, here comes Brexit!” I laughed to myself, jumping hard on the pedals so that I’d already have a head of steam when Smasher launched his bridge.
When Brexit came I was already accelerating, already committed, already fully prepared to follow Nigel Farrage in his destruction of the common European weal–except that I wasn’t. Smasher opened up a bike length, then two, then five, then ten, and then he was a tiny speck far, far ahead as I sagged in no-person’s-land. I don’t know how many watts he expended, but Strava says I was at my max of 253 watts, so he was putting out at least 14,000 or so.
There is a moment in every race that is decisive, which is another way of saying there is a moment in every race when everyone gives up hope, digs into their suitcase of excuses, tries several on until finding one that fits, and then takes comfort in finishing with the other losers in the fourth chase group. I slunk to the back and congratulated myself on having had the wisdom to miss the split and to choose the Wheel That Shall Not Be Followed.
However, the Brexit plot thickened. The other losers back in the EU chase group were unwilling to be losers just yet, and the breakaway lost steam as Scotland insisted it would Screxit from the UK and Scrontinue with the EU. After an eternity of riding at ridiculous speeds through cracks in turns, lapping gassed riders who would jump in, gap me out, then re-explode, after battering into the headwind where each pedal stroke felt like algebra, the incredible happened: Smasher and Boozy P. came back. Brexit was going to be put to a re-vote.
The losers took heart; the remnants of Destroyer’s break were a mere 200 yards away! They had been caught!
Except, since they were still 200 hundred yards away, they hadn’t been.
They shed a couple more riders.
They were just within reach, kind of like good interest rates in someone else’s mythical portfolio.
Then, at the key moment in the race, I did what I’m known far and wide for: I cowered and hoped someone else would do for me what I was too lazy to do for myself.
No one did, and the 200 turned to 300. Fortunately, Smasher was still with us, until, of course, he wasn’t. He leaped across the windy gap in Brexit II, caught Destroyer and Steinhafel, and the three of them immediately put an entire half-lap on the twenty remaining losers, all of whom lost.
There was some sprunting for scraps, but I couldn’t be bothered to watch Destroyer pull on his first ever victory tunic, which of course he’d won in retirement. With the Union shattered and the cycling grass roots poisoned with buckets of all-kill herbicide, it was a great way to end the day. The only thing that would have made it better would have been having my new Leather Volt break down, which happily it did.
At least I’m not bitter.
Photos courtesy of Joe Yule!
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