Don’t pick on me

March 21, 2016 § 151 Comments

I got a phone call from (213) 282-1231 on Friday night, just as I had settled down to mud wrestle with Ulysses for an hour or so. I didn’t recognize the number, so I ignored it.

Imagine my surprise when I listened to my voicemail and heard this cease-and-desist message:

Cecilia Sasso claims to be the co-owner of Brandt-Sorenson cycling apparel company, the firm whose name was previously sullied by co-owner Nick’s two-year doping suspension. Nick’s last name, Brandt-Sorenson, prominently appears in this docket sheet for the criminal introduction of a misbranded drug into interstate commerce, a violation of 21 U.S. Code § 331(a). The docket sheet reflects his prosecution for the illegal sale of EPO, actovegin, and other goodies without a prescription; i.e. he was a “very bad boy.” Scroll through the linked packet to read Nicky’s guilty plea.

Sasso followed her message to me with this email:

cease_and_desist_email

This didn’t exactly qualify as the most intimidating cease-and-desist letter I’ve ever received, and I wondered what in the world she was trying to say. Then I realized that Sasso may have actually gotten something accidentally right when she wrote “your resent blog post.” It’s true, I was feeling a bit resentful at the time I wrote it.

It was hard, though, to stop giggling at the buffoonery of someone who thinks that trademark protection means that no one is allowed to say anything about the mark without her permission. What a great way to silence the press, and it took a cycling underwear designer to figure it out: Just trademark the item and then no one can say anything bad about it. Of course if that’s how things worked, Trump would have trademarked his whatever a long time ago.

Next, I checked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online database to determine whether “Thorfinn,” “Sassquatch,” “Thorfinn-Sassquatch,” “Brandt-Sorenson,” or “Brandt-Sorenson Cycling Apparel” have been registered as federal trademarks. They haven’t and I’m thinking about how much fun it would be for someone to file federal trademarks for these names so that they can be used in conjunction with products and services related to anti-doping, profamateur masters doping, Strava doping, and the especially insidious problem of apparel doping.

I emailed Sassypants right away to get some more information before I hurried out to not delete, edit, or amend my blog:

Hi, Cecilia

Thanks for the email. Can you explain how I have infringed on your trademark?

Thanks,

Seth

Law Office of Seth Davidson
Pacific Tower, Suite 500
21250 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503

To which she gave me this edifying response:

Hi Seth, I’d just prefer not to have my trademark “sassquatch” “thorfinn-sassquatch” used on your blog, as the context could dilute the mark and/or confuse my customers! Thanks for understanding, Cecilia Sasso

Of course there are lots of things I’d just prefer not to have, too, but that’s rarely enough to give my desires force of law. And I will say that it was pretty presumptuous for her to think I understood how calling out Nick Brandt-Sorenson for being a doper and for confessing to breaking federal drug laws would “dilute the mark” and/or “confuse my customers.” To the contrary, the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it became.

Nick, who goes by the Strava handle “Thorfinn-Sassquatch,” has been diluting the brand for years by appending his drug-soaked monikers to the entire clothing line. And how could their customers be confused? He was suspended for two years for doping, stripped of his national bike racing title, and the news was broadcast globally.

Far from seeing the error of his ways, he has now completely clarified what the brand stands for by entering a guilty plea to federal charges for selling misbranded drugs as part of a scheme to sell doping products to other drug cheats. Instead of saying his customers are confused, I’d argue they are stupid beyond repair if they don’t understand that Nick Brandt-Sorenson’s name and nickname could potentially be viewed as reflective of a lowlife doper, a hypocrite, a drug dealer, a convicted criminal, a fraudster, and a first-class shitball who is now trying to make money with his clothing line from the very class of people he cheated when he raced.

All of this raises the next question, which is …

Wait a minute. I forgot to mention that Sasso’s panties had also been tied into a monkey fist with an eye splice by cycling icon, anti-doper, and world renowned blogger Steve Tilford, who had also — according to Sasso– infringed on her mark when he laid into “Dick Doper” Nick Brandt-Sorenson for his misdemeanor conviction, a dope peddler peddling to pedalers.

According to Tilford’s blog, Sassy-Dick sent him this gem of a cease-and-desist letter:

Good Morning, I wanted to inform you that your internet blog Stevetilford.com contains damaging and false information about our trademark “brandt-sorenson”

Specifically:

“He served a 2 year ban for testing positive at Master’s Nationals a few years ago.  But that obviously didn’t slow him down.  He decided to profit from it by becoming a drug dealer.”

The accurate information is available publicly through the Federal Court filing system. The incorrect statement is damaging and negligent. Please remove any reference to our trademark “BRANDT-SORENSON” from your blog and comments section.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Brandt
Cecilia Sasso

co-owners BRANDT-SORENSON Cycling Apparel

Now, here is some free advice for Sassy-Dick: You might not want to fuck with a guy like Steve, whose “fucks to give” account must have run out years ago when it came to dealing with people like you. This is the same Steve Tilford who spoke truth to power about Lance and doping in the pro peloton, and who now appears not very afraid of also speaking truth to the small-time crook who still hasn’t gotten the memo that dopers suck. If anything, the Thorfinn-Sassquatch Dick Doper Brandt-Sorenson Line of Faux Rapha Cycling Underwear should be sending Tilford a handsome thank-you check for what he didn’t say.

Why?

Because the real crime isn’t that doping is killing the sport of cycling, it’s that doping has killed actual cyclists. While Dick Doper prances around in the underwear that he and Sassypants whack out in their rag factory, illegally purchased and administered performance-enhancing drugs have taken lives and ruined many more. Fucktards like Dick Doper have descended from ruining their own pathetic lives into endangering the lives of others by facilitating the doping lifestyle of:

  1. Click
  2. Buy
  3. Inject
  4. Race a masters event or grand fondue or Strava segment
  5. Get a trinket
  6. Preen at the coffee shop while pretending you didn’t cheat.

Let’s point the finger up the asshole where it belongs. Dick Doper diluted, sullied, and shat all over the Thorfinn-Sassquatch-Brandt-Sorenson-Cycling-Apparel name with his own drug use by cheating his way to win a master’s bike racing title. Then he damaged the brand again by illegally selling EPO through a fraudulent website using a fake name, as well as by selling “enhancing” substances to suckers that are not even approved for human use. And Sassypants Sasso thinks that I’ve “diluted” her rag-factory-cycling-apparel operation by (humorously) suggesting in my blog that “Thorfinn-Sassquatch” is a stupid Strava moniker?

That’s like having your husband break both your legs in a drunken rage and then suing the little old lady in the hospital waiting room who accidentally stepped on one of your toes.

Funnier still is that Sassy-Dick appear to have finally understood that having a convicted criminal and busted doper associated with the Brandt-Sorenson Cycling Jockstraps and Twatthongs apparel line is probably going to ruin whatever bogus trademark lawsuit they may be contemplating. Or, they’ve finally concluded that having a cheater-cum-doping-crook prominently associated with the firm may not be the smartest marketing move on the block.

So Sassy-Dick went back to their website and tried to delete all references to Dick Doper, but though they furiously tried to delete him from the web site, Sassy-Dick must have flunked web editing 101 because even though their “new” about page has deleted all references to Droopy Dick Doper, the HTML is still screeching his presence loud and clear. D’oh! Where’s a 12-year-old when you need one? Check this nifty screen shot:

view-source_brandt-sorenson_Page_5.jpg

What’s particularly awesome about his CV (aside from the fact that he graduated from a college that apparently doesn’t have a name and that the USAC website doesn’t show him with a single California state crit title) is that Dick claims to have “stopped racing after competing against some of the world’s top professional cyclists.” I’m not sure how much of a Pro Tour hotbed the USAC masters scene is, but you’d think that in the name of full disclosure he’d have added “at about the time I got caught doping in a national championship race and stripped of my title.” Integrity, however, does not appear to be one of the core corporate values over at the Anemia Patients Group doping website or the Thorfinn-Sassquatch rag factory.

In technical legal terms, I think at this point it’s fair to ask “Do these two have a brain?”

And if they do, could they please stop sharing it and get a separate one for each cranium? There would probably still be space left over for a sofa, table, and wide-screen TV.

Nick Brandt-Sorenson, doper who doped, dope-selling doper, and dope-selling co-owner of Brandt-Sorenson Cycling, and dope-selling user of the Thorfinn-Sassquatch nickname for Strava, admitted to the following criminal acts reproduced verbatim below from federal court records as part of his plea agreement. Read them carefully because they are heinous, except for the part that describes Dick as a “professional masters cyclist,” which is hilarious. After all the jokes I’ve made about the SoCal profamateur masters racer, we finally have a real one and he appears (where else?) in a federal criminal case for (what else?) intentionally selling dope to a doper so he can dope.

In or about 2011, defendant was a professional masters cyclist, living in the Los Angeles, California, area. Defendant had also created the online blog “Anemia Patient Group” under the guise of providing “theoretical” information about various performance enhancing drugs and substances “for research purposes.” In fact, defendant used the Anemia Patient Group blog to obtain customers to whom he would sell performance enhancing drugs and substances. For example, the blog advertised various prescription drugs and substances for sale “for research purposes,” including erythropoietin (“EPO”), human chorionic gonadotropin (“HCG”), Actovegin, IGF-1, and pentoxifylline. Defendant also created and used the fake name “Eric Horowitz” that he used to do business in connection with the Anemia Patient Group blog.

Defendant obtained the prescription drugs from a source in China and European online pharmacies, and then had them delivered to his home address in Los Angeles, California. He then mailed the drugs to multiple professional and amateur athletes. In or about March 2011, defendant sold a vial of EPO to an athlete in Colorado for $631.

Defendant had previously sold that athlete performance enhancing drugs, including EPO and human growth hormone {“HGH”), through the Anemia Patient Group blog . On March 12, 2011, defendant sent the EPO from Los Angeles, California, to the athlete in Boulder, Colorado, using the United States Postal Service. At all relevant times, defendant believed that the athlete would be using the EPO himself and that the athlete did not have a prescription for the EPO.

EPO is a prescription drug that is used to treat kidney disease, anemia, and other serious medical conditions. In addition, some athletes illicitly inject themselves with EPO in order boost the production of red blood cells, which in turn increases the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood, causing them to perform at a higher level. Due to its performance enhancing qualities, as well as the serious health risks associated with non-medical use of the drug {potentially including blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks}, EPO is listed as a prohibited substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) Prohibited List.

In addition to the criminal proceedings against him, various drug cheats have been sanctioned by USADA in connection with the ongoing investigation of Dick Doper’s Anemia Patients Group web site. It’s not hard to imagine that, like Joe Papp, Dick’s ripple of filth and crime will continue to besmirch others, not limited to Sassypants and the Thorfinn-Sassquatch-apparently-not-federally-trademarked Brandt-Sorenson brand of cycling underwear and hyphens. As Jack from Illinois put it (not his real name), “Doping isn’t killing the sport of cycling, overpriced clothing is.”

That a scuzzball like Dick Doper nee Brandt-Sorenson could invent a fake web site purporting to help sick people, use it as a front to illegally import and sell potentially deadly drugs to profamateur wankers, get busted, confess to his misdeeds, and then piously object to his trademark being “damaged” sets a new level of ballsiness, one that exceeds his incredible KOM’s, some of which are approachable only by UCI Pro Tour racers in the prime of their careers.

But wait, I know how he manages that KOM stuff. Pan y agua, baby.

END

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Firehouse coffee

March 18, 2016 § 18 Comments

I’ve never overslept for a bike ride.

“Wanna come over to the firehouse and have a cup of coffee?” Fireman texted me.

“Sure,” I texted him back.

Fireman now works around the corner from my apartment. Unlike the Inglewood station, where he made 20 runs in a 24-hour shift, up here on the Old Folks Peninsula he makes about one, and it’s usually to get a cat out of a tree or help someone find her bifocals.

I hopped on my bike and rode over but showed up at kind of the wrong time, which was dinnertime. The firemen were all seated around a big communal table eating the most delicious pot of Mexican meatball stew that one of the guys had made.

“Help yourself,” one of the firemen said, kindly shoving a big bowl over towards me.

“Thanks but I have dinner waiting at home and probably can’t go home full.”

One of the guys shrugged. “Have two dinners then.”

I looked at their broad shoulders, thick forearms, and powerful hands and realized that this wasn’t a manorexic dinnertime with cyclists munching a lettuce sandwich and half a glass of water. It was dinnertime with a bunch of men.

My buddy Fireman came to the rescue. “He was just swinging by for a cup of coffee.”

Everyone stopped eating and looked at me. One of the guys casually said, “There’s still a cup or two left.” Something was happening but I didn’t know what. “If you want it.”

“Sure,” I said before glancing over to the counter. The coffee, and there wasn’t much of it, was in a beaker with millimeter gradations. Everyone watched.

“It’s pretty strong,” said the guy.

Everyone watched.

I shrugged. “I like my coffee strong. Is this coffee special?” Stupid question. Of course it was. It was made in a fucking beaker. And what was the first thing they taught you in science class? Don’t ever, ever, ever drink anything out of a fucking beaker.

“It’s my firehouse espresso,” said the guy. “It might keep you up.”

A couple of the guys cracked slight smiles behind their concrete veneers. “Just a little,” one fireman said.

“Yeah,” said another. “You might be extra alert for a little bit.”

“What they’re saying,” said the captain, “is that you’ll be hearing hummingbird farts on the other side of the hill.”

Now it was a flat out dare. “Shoot,” I said. “I’ve had plenty of strong coffee. I can drink two or three espressos and go straight to sleep, no problem.”

“Well then, let me pour you a cup.” The blue-clad barista picked up the beaker, sloshed it once for a stir, and poured out two thimblefuls in a tiny, tiny cup, which he then microwaved for a few seconds.

“That’s a pretty small cup,” I said.

“There’s enough for seconds,” he said.

Everybody pretended to go back to dinner as I threw down my coffee in a gulp. “Man,” I said, “that’s good stuff.”

“Let me pour you another,” said the fireman, and he did, and I drank that, too.

“How do you make this?” I asked.

“Oh,” said the fireman, “I don’t really ‘make’ it. It’s more of a process.”

I nodded. After a while Fireman finished eating and we went outside. “Dude,” he said, “you won’t be sleeping tonight. Or tomorrow.”

“It does feel kind of strong.” I reflected for a moment that I’d just downed two of something that alert, professional, large dudes who do dangerous shit for a living and who stay up for days at a time drink in order to stay awake, and that when they drink it, they only drink single servings.

I went home feeling kind of antsy. Bedtime rolled around at ten and I still felt antsy. Everything seemed really loud. I opened my Chinese book and memorized fifty kanji in about ten minutes. Then I cleaned out Mrs. WM’s desk and my bike and wrote a blog. It was only 10:30.

By eleven, a time of day when I can’t stay awake under any circumstances, I crawled into bed. I could hear the neighbors talking three units over. At twelve I got up and worked for an hour, completing a day’s work in sixty minutes. At one I lay back down and listened to the sounds from another neighbor’s video game. At 1:30 I got back up and read two magazines cover to cover. At two I ate an apple and red fifty pages of Ulysses. At three I went to bed again, and at four I went to sleep.

Note to reader: I have stayed up an entire night only once in my life. Now, twice.

My alarm went off at five but I didn’t, and I missed the Thursday Flog Ride. First time for everything.

END

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Can I have a splash of calf’s blood with that?

March 17, 2016 § 67 Comments

I was bummed to hear that rag merchant and ex-profamateur doping pro Nick Brandt-Sorenson got popped for selling EPO and other banned substances through his blog and that he now faces a year in jail or perhaps a slot on the 2016 Olympic track team. I was mostly bummed because here I am selling $2.99 subscriptions and Nicky is selling vials of EPO on HIS blog at $641 a dose. I need a better business model.

I was also bummed to learn that he was selling Actovegin, a derivative of calf’s blood, as a doping product. What B.S.

Everyone knows that calf’s blood is what you put on your eggs in the morning, along with a sprinkling of nails and cement chips to toughen you up for the day’s training. Which is why you put it on your eggs, and maybe a splash in the blender when you’re whipping up your first breakfast batch of bloody Mary’s. Tomato juice tastes better with real blood in it, autopsies show.

But putting calf’s blood in a syringe and squirting it up your boteetum is just wrong. Actovegin is a deproteinized ultrafiltrate of calf serum and does not contain blood cells to increase oxygen transport. It has been tested by anti-doping laboratories and no prohibited substances have ever been found in it. More to the point, the drug is not approved for sale, importation, or use in the United States and has no accepted medical use in humans except as a chaser for Cholula-Cholula and Huy Fong Srihacha.

As a result of Brandt-Sorenson’s guilty plea in federal court, the U.S. Attorney has referred his case to the Strava Sentencing Division, where the High Lord Justices will determine his punishment. Brandt-Sorenson, who goes by the Strava handle “Thorfinn Sassquatch” [Note: I did not make that up], has regularly devastated the local L.A. cycling community with weekly “Uh-oh!” emails from Strava.

The High Lord Justices will now consider whether or not to strip him of his KOM’s and force him to return his Strava winnings. Local riders were outraged to learn that someone on Strava was actually selling doping products.

“That wanker!” said Biff McPuddinhole, “Strava is a place for purity and clean competition! He has ruined it and stolen my childhood dreams!”

Smedley Stinkbottom, noted notary public and Stravatista, concurred. “When I get up at 3:00 AM, down a gallon of espresso, and hit a segment to take advantage of the prevailing tailwind on my electric bike, I expect that others on the leaderboard are playing fair. This really makes me question humanity.”

At press time Brandt-Sorenson’s attorney was negotiating for jail placement where a slim, dainty, hairless man would not become another inmate’s “wife.”

END

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Wind is a cruel mistress

March 16, 2016 § 6 Comments

One of the really great horrible things about cycling here in the South Bay is that there are so many opportunities to get on your bicycle and go have a wonderful miserable ride. One of the best most terrible rides is the Telo World Championships, held every Tuesday at 6:00 PM after the switch to daylight-saving-but-sanity-losing time.

Telo is often referred to as a training crit but no one is sure what it really trains you for except perhaps to make poor choices and suffer unpleasant consequences. I’m not sure that by age 52 I need any more of those opportunities, having already elected marriage, children, law, and a host of other fantastic awful choices.

Still, the hallmark of truly stupid people is that they apply poor judgment skills across a wide spectrum of experience, and Telo is no exception. As a beneficially destructive training crit, the mythology goes like this.

KK: What do you think about me doing Telo?

Wanky: You crashed in the Cat 4 race and said you were going to quit racing for a while.

KK: But I was told Telo is a great training crit by really experienced people.

Wanky: Are these the same people who encouraged you to race your bike?

KK: Yes.

Wanky: Well okay then.

KK: But do you think I should so it?

Wanky: My coaching services have been suspended by the state so we’ll pretend this is Scrabble and all I have is a “q” and an “x.” I’ll pass.

KK: But my thinking is that since I’m really freaked out by Cat 4 races that maybe I can get acclimated to racing better by doing Telo.

Wanky: That’s possible. I’m just not aware of any 27-second crits being promoted by Lotts. Or anyone else.

KK: What do you mean? I thought Telo was a hour long.

Wanky: It is for some people.

KK: What’s that supposed to mean?

Wanky: Unlike sanctioned crits, Telo lumps everyone together. So the leaky prostate profamateurs like me and the boot-shaking Cat 4’s like you have to race with the young, the strong, the fast, the quick, the savvy, the relentless, and basically everyone who has a 30-second recovery whereas we have like, 3 minutes. Plus we have to race with Smasher who specializes in attacking the shit out of everyone all the time, especially his breakaway mates with a lap to go so the breakaway can fail and get caught by the swarm and all our efforts can result in 38nd place.

KK: But why 27 seconds?

Wanky: That’s the average time that a newcomer lasts at Telo.

KK: So it’s harder than my Cat 4 race?

Wanky: The first 27 seconds will be. After that you can leisurely pedal around the office park and memorize the lessees of all the offices.

KK: So why do you always do it then?

Wanky: I don’t. I didn’t do it at all last year, and only a handful of times the year before. It’s a really fun unhappy race with lots of very safe deadly opportunities to get hit head-on by traffic in the chicane, plus it has a 25-mph headwind for half a mile every lap that feels really good fucking awful beyond belief.

KK: So I shouldn’t do it?

Wanky: Still nothing here but x’s and q’s.

Shortly thereafter, KK and I lined up and did Telo. KK’s race lasted a lot longer than 27 seconds but it was nonetheless very helpful in a tearing-down, lonely, and defeating kind of way. We chatted afterwards.

Wanky: So, how was it?

KK: I loved it! It was awesome! This is just what I need! I can’t wait ’til next week!

Wanky: Oh, brother.

END

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Burning down the house

March 15, 2016 § 14 Comments

People used to ask me directly to promote their stuff. “Could you do a story about …” they would say.

“Sure,” I’d say. Then they’d tell me the topic with their slant on how they wanted me to publicize it and puff it up and I’d go home, sit down on the computer, and do the exact opposite.

It’s not that I was trying to be mean, it’s that I am, like Herr Settembrini in Thomas Mann’s “Der Zauberberg,” a contrarian. If you tell me to go to the front I will slink to be back and shirk. If you tell me to sit in and wait I will dash to the fore and shove all the timber in the fire in the first five minutes of the race. “Go up!” and I’ll go down. “Go down!” and I’ll go up. Etc.

Being perverse in this way meets very basic dictates of evolution. I once read a study, or perhaps I just imagined it, about how if you left a certain kind of trout in a tank he would eventually try to jump out of it. That never ended well for the trout in the experiment because outside the tank was dry ground.

“Why did the trout always try to jump out?” the researchers wondered as they penned another grant application for $5 million dollars. The answer seemed to be that in the wild, a trout stuck in a river pool could only escape by jumping out. There was a chance he’d jump onto dry rocks or dry land, but as often as not he’d flop onto a rock, flop some more, and flop his way back into a neighboring rivulet and then swim happily on his way to spawn more trout babies.

Contrarianism is this way. It will often land you in hot water in the artificial world of marketing and blogging, but in reality, flopping out of the tank into parts unknown is the only way anything good has ever happened or been invented. A committee didn’t invent the light bulb.

Bike racing at the professional level in the USA simply doesn’t exist, if by “professional” you mean “steady job and steady paycheck that you can live on.” If you are a pro racer in America you are living with your parents or girlfriend-boyfriend or slumming on a couch. There’s no way you can make ends meet racing your bike unless the ends are very, very, very, very close together. Which they never are.

So this weekend, March 18-19, there’s the first iteration in the modern era of a US pro track racing series. It’s being held at the Carson/Home Depot/Velo Center/Velodrome and it’s going to showcase some of the country’s best track racers in a race series. Details here.

Whether or not this will work is a very open question because it depends on people caring about something that no one in America has cared about for a hundred years: Bicycles going around in circles on a track. There are all kinds of explanations as to why no one cares, but my favorite is this: People grow up watching pass-ball on TV and watching their parents go apeshit over pass-ball and listening to hours and hours of blather about pass-ball and so they, too like pass-ball. People don’t grow up watching track racing on TV (or curling or badminton or ping-pong or toenail shaving) and they don’t grow up watching their parents go apeshit over track racing and listening to hours and hours of blather about track racing and so they, do, don’t give a crap about track racing.

You certainly can’t fault the mechanics of the sport. Racers speeding by inches from your face dressed in colorful underwear as they sprint for money and glory while bumping and gliding and occasionally falling off their bicycles in thrilling smashemups is about 10 billion times more exciting than watching grown men standing on Astroturf chewing tobacco waiting hours for someone with a stick to whack a tiny ball.

Nor can you fault the sport’s complexity. Unlike stick-ball and pass-ball, which require advanced degrees to even begin to understand what’s happening, bike racing is simple. Fastest guy pretty much always wins. Sure there are points and stuff to clog your brain from time to time, but after a few beers who cares anyway? Keep your eyes glued on your favorite colorful underwear and watch ’em go.

And this is the main point. At a velodrome like the one in Carson you can hang out with friends, have a drink and a bite, and watch some pretty thrilling stuff, and at $25 a ticket it’s slightly cheaper than the $123.40 average ticket price for watching the New York Giants lose another game of pass-ball while drinking a $15.00 cup of beer and eating a $9.00 hot dog and paying $30.00 to park your cage.

I plan on going to the races this Saturday and hope you do, too. We can watch these guys and gals flop out of the tank together.

END

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Let ’em eat licenses

March 14, 2016 § 69 Comments

The recent death of Jonathan Tansavatdi, a local South Bay cyclist and member of my club, Big Orange, has again brutally emphasized the vulnerability of cyclists. Although the cause and mechanics of the collision that took his life remain unknown at this point, it got me to thinking about our collective responsibility as a cycling club.

In other words, what is the obligation of every cycling club with regard to teaching bike safety?

This seems like it has an easy answer. Clubs encourage people to ride. They encourage people to join. And at least our club really encourages people to race their bikes. In addition to that encouragement, any club worthy of the name provides structure to make all those things happen.

Our club provides group ride activities throughout the week, and we have the best grass roots club racing program in America, a program that focuses on getting members to sign up as Cat 5 men and Cat 4 women and race their bikes.

So the question remains. What are we as racing clubs doing with regard to teaching bike safety? As with most cycling clubs, only a minority of our members actually race. Even big profamateur masters squads like Surf City and Monster Media have more actual riders than they do members who show up and race every weekend.

With the exception of on-the-job safety training, where ride leaders and allegedly experienced riders give out tips to the newcomers, I’ve yet to hear of a club that has formalized program to teach rider safety in conjunction with a requirement that all riders complete a safety course before they are allowed to join.

This is weird because:

  1. Most cyclists suck at safety.
  2. Although cycling is safe, when shit goes sideways you can die or be catastrophically injured.
  3. There is already a fantastic educational course called Cycling Savvy that every single bike club in America can afford to have conduct classes.

The reticence to teaching cycling safety, at least among racing clubs, is that the Cycling Savvy teachers are complete dorks. They are the guys with helmet mirrors, flappy arm sleeves, uncool bikes, hairy legs and teeth, and of course none of them race. So there is a huge bias on the part of the cool kids (think junior high insecurity and vanity without the excuse of youth) against sitting down and getting schooled by people whose business it is to stay alive in traffic. It’s crazy to think that one group of dorks riding around in their underwear look down at another group of dorks riding around in their underwear, but Ah, Bartleby, ah humanity!

The benefits to instituting a club licensing program are massive. First, it tells every single person thinking about joining that nothing matters to us more than your life. Second, it tells every single person thinking about joining that we don’t care how many races you’ve won, how many watts you put out, or how many imaginary trinkets you have stored on your imaginary Strava cupboard, THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU KNOW HOW TO RIDE SAFELY IN TRAFFIC. Think velodrome certification: They don’t care how good you think you are. Until you’ve proven you can ride on a banked track without gears or brakes, you’re not allowed to play in the sandbox.

Finally, of course, certification and licensing would begin to disseminate the life preserving skills we all need as vulnerable riders in traffic. It makes us advocates for smart riding and maybe, just maybe, decreases the number of memorial rides even by one.

END

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Taiwan by the numbers

March 12, 2016 § 11 Comments

$1,672.23–Round-trip coach airfare for two with one stop in Shanghai, not necessarily at the airport listed on the itinerary.

$1,200.00–Five nights at the Shangri-La Hotel Tainan. Presidential suite, lights-out breakfast (all you can gorge on) that includes full Chinese buffet, Western style breakfast buffet, ordering off the menu, or all of the above. You will start your day with a massive waddle. Also includes a happy hour with free drinks and exquisite food which, if you are like us, quickly becomes happy dinner.

$0.00–Amount spent on dinner for seven days.

$3.25–Average daily cost of lunch for two at the noodle shop down the street.

$0.00–Amount spent on coffee and cakes and snacks because the hotel’s Presidential suite package includes all-day coffee/tea/cake/snack service.

10–Hours spent in the gym on the stationary bike vainly trying to work off breakfast and happy dinner.

4–Hours per day spent walking around the city.

$0.00–Cab fare.

$1.50–Bus fare for five days.

$76.00–Cost of a four-hour personalized tour guide who won’t speak to you in Chinese even though that’s what you’ve ostensibly paid him for.

$6.00–Cost of souvenirs which comprised a loaf of Castella pound cake.

$150.00–Cost of two round-trip bullet train tickets from Taipei to Tainan.

125–Pages I conquered in Ulysses.

5–Times I washed my Team Lizard Collectors kit in the bathtub.

2–Pocket umbrellas we bought.

6.50–Cost of pocket umbrellas.

165–Times that people spoke to Mrs. WM in Chinese.

0–Times people spoke to me in Chinese even after I spoke to them in Chinese.

15–Bird species I successfully identified out of a total species list for Taiwan of over 500.

$0.00–Amount spent on tips.

$4.50–Amount spent on postcards and postage. Yes, they still have postcards.

1–Days we got rained on while out tramping around.

5–Nights we planned to go to the Night Market, famed for its food stalls.

0–Nights we went to the Night Market thanks to the Horizon Club’s happy dinner.

$175.00–Amount left over from my 7-day spending budget of $500.00.

4–Pairs of underwear brought.

1–Wend baseball caps lost at LAX.

1–Artsy, kanji-covered baseball caps bought in Tainan.

1–Pairs of pants brought.

1–Pairs of swim trunks brought.

0–Times swim trunks worn.

3–Massages gotten by Mrs. WM at the hotel spa.

0–Times I didn’t wake up between 2:00 and 3:00 AM.

2–Days I stayed awake past 7:00 PM.

0–Angry days.

24–Hotel staff who recognized us as “The Hungry Davidsons.”

END

 

 

 

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