Two tongues

May 5, 2018 § 6 Comments

I am pretty sure that when you ride your bike abroad, the more languages you speak, the better off you are. During the ten years I rode in Japan, being able to make friends with local riders was the key to taking a great experience and making it unforgettable. Same for the year we lived in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. And it was thanks to German that, this past November, I was able to sniff out the hammer ride in Vienna, get hammered, and make a friend.

I am also pretty sure that almost everyone wants to learn another language. In the EU, 59% of students are learning two or more languages. This is sort of good news if you’re an American traveling in the EU, because 96% of those students are studying English. If they’re not already gone forever, they will be, those days when you could theoretically wind up somewhere in France and not be understood.

Still, everything in the first paragraph holds true. Bikers who speak the language in the country they’re in are going to have more fun than those who don’t. Show me someone who says they don’t want to be able to whip out a little Croatian when they order a sandwich and coffee en route to Crikvenica from Rijeka, and I’ll show you a liar.

But how? Learning languages is hard and takes time. Fake and overpriced programs abound. Charlatans and bad methodology are everywhere. Plus, you are soooo busy because, Facebook.

Here is a tip, if you haven’t heard it already: Try Duolingo. My friend Tara U. suggested it to me, but it took a couple of years for me to actually click on the link. Don’t let it take you that long.

Duolingo has lots of failings. So what? Welcome to life. They are:

  1. Computer AI pronunciation of the target language. Sorry, real German doesn’t sound like that when actual humans speak actual sentences.
  2. Passive learning. Duolingo can’t talk back. Yet …
  3. Sometimes questionable vocabulary. Do we need to learn how to say “The bears eat the potatoes?”
  4. Inordinate emphasis on rote repetition.

But guess what? Duolingo is also pretty awesome. Here’s why:

  1. Inordinate emphasis on rote repetition.
  2. Bite-sized lessons you can actually do day in, day out. I’m on a 29-day streak.
  3. Unimpeachable basic, useful vocabulary.
  4. No grammar clutter. If you have questions about a quiz, there are numerous explanations posted by users. All you do is click on the link.

The best think (letting that typo stand because it’s awesome) about Duolingo, aside from the fact that you will actually use it, is the quiz format. Everything is a problem to solve, and you solve the same problems over and over, which is precisely how you learn to respond to questions and formulate sentences without stumbling, saying “ah, um” or throwing your hands after the first attempt and reverting to English.

Ah, yes, and this one small, wholly insignificant, totally meaningless, completely irrelevant point: It is free.

END

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F the bike path

May 4, 2018 § 16 Comments

I hate the bike path. Over the past several years it was always a rarity to get out on it, although in the last few months I’ve ventured forth a dozen times or so, riding north with Mrs. WM en route to coffee shops in Venice or Santa Monica.

Yes, I know, it’s some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. You, your bike, the beach, the first thongs of spring, the beautiful blue ocean, and Catalina shimmering off the coast like Treasure Island. What’s not to like?

In my opinion, three things. And they’re all biggies, big enough that I avoid the bike path like I avoid formulas in Excel.

Sand in your crack

When you ride on the bike path, you get sand in your chain, sand in between your cogs, sand on your bike, and sand in your shoes. Sand is not good for bicycles or for the movement in your Philippe Patek. No one has ever said, “Hey, I know how to fix that squeak! More sand!”

But cleaning my bike and de-sanding it isn’t the worst thing about the bike path. Not by a long shot.

Getting hurt

Do you know anyone who regularly uses the bike path who hasn’t hit someone, gotten hit, had a bad fall, or seen one? Here are just a few of the things that I personally know have happened on the Marvin Braude Bike Path that runs from RAT Beach to Santa Monica.

  1. Friend’s mother was killed in Hermosa when a cyclist hit her on the bike path.
  2. An older guy, unfamiliar with the bike path, rode down the stairwell after the exit northbound from the garage at King Harbor, killing himself.
  3. I slammed into a woman who crossed the bike path without looking. She was unhurt, my ego was badly damaged and required extensive rehab.
  4. A friend was clipped by an oncoming idiot near SM Pier, hit the sand, and broke her humerus against the edge of the concrete bike path. Lifelong disability.
  5. A woman rider was hit by two drunk cyclists and suffered permanent damage to her hand and fingers.
  6. A guy slipped on the newly resurfaced, uber-slick asphalt in King Harbor and broke his hand.
  7. Numerous friends have fallen, some getting badly injured, at Cobley Corner north of Dockweiler.
  8. One friend was battered by an asshole in Hermosa, who intentionally kicked his skateboard in front of the friend’s bike to watch him fall.
  9. A member of a local club got clipped by a passing, out of control rider, and shattered his wrist.

These are nothing more than the most superficial of anecdotal scans that pop up in my brain when you say “bike path.” There are hundreds of such collisions and injuries on the bike path every year, some resulting in catastrophic injuries. However, since it is not a public road, there are no state-logged SWITRS collision reports that you can obtain to quantify the number and type of collisions.

Suffice it to say that virtually everyone who regularly rides the bike path has seen and/or been involved in a gnarly crash. The reasons aren’t really that important to me; as more people start biking and as more people discover the joys of high-speed electric bikes, the bloodbath will only grow. I know the thing is dangerous and I avoid it. As Mrs. WM’s on-road skills improve, we have quit riding it almost completely, using it at six or six-thirty for a few miles to avoid commuter traffic on Vista del Mar.

Not getting paid

But there’s an even better reason to avoid the bike path than sand and guts. It’s the fact that if you get hurt on the bike path, it is highly likely that you will never be able to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

First, when you are hurt by another cyclist, the offending rider often hops on his bike and pedals off. Later, dude.

Second, even if the person stops, there is no liability insurance for cyclists like there is for cars. This means that if the person doesn’t own a home or have renter’s insurance, they have no coverage. There’s a phrase for these folks: Judgment proof. And of course your UM/UIM coverage only applies to bicycle collisions if you’re hit by a car. Bike-on-bike? SOL.

Third, many of these injuries are the result of poor maintenance, failure to repair the bike path, and bad design. If it were a roadway you would sue the city and force them to pay for the damage they caused. But guess what?

In California, injuries caused by dangerous, badly maintained, negligently designed bike paths and recreational trails are immune to suit. Because of this immunity, the bike path is almost always covered with sand at some treacherous point or another, even though the trail maintenance crew has machinery to sweep the path. But why bother? They can’t be sued.

If you have to get hurt, better to do it on a city street where the likelihood of insurance and favorable laws will at least help you cope with the disastrous consequences of injury. Moreover, riding in the street with lots of bike lights and using lane control techniques is a lot safer than cramming yourself into the narrow confines of the bike path, where pathletes on TT rigs, people pushing strollers, joggers wobbling hither and yon, volleyballs wandering onto the path, and surfers headed for the waves create a constant stream of lethal hazards.

Leave the bike path to those who don’t know enough to be terrified. Because I am.

END

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The big three

May 3, 2018 § 22 Comments

I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of cyclists last night at Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica. It’s the kind of talk I do whenever asked, because I get to cover the three things near and dear to my heart:

  1. Daytime lights, front and rear, run all the time.
  2. Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage. Max it out!
  3. What to do if you’re hit by a car (and still conscious).

Over the last five years or so there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who ride with daytime lights in the South Bay. On the rides I regularly attend, which include the Donut, the Flog, NPR, and Telo, many cyclists are lit up, and with powerful lights to boot.

It is purely anecdotal, but as these local rides and local riders become more and more accustomed to riding with daytime lights, the number of my friends hit by cars has fallen dramatically. In fact, one of the few recent cases in which a South Bay rider I know personally was hit, the rider was one of those guys who has always been too cool to ride with daytime lights. He got clocked on a busy weekend day and suffered severe injuries.

It’s funny how pride, coolness, and being a weight weenie (not to mention a cheapskate) suck so many cyclists into the death trap of riding without daytime lights. These are often the same people who don’t practice lane control and who dwell in the gutter/door zone.

In any case, I attribute the decrease in car-bike collisions among people I ride with to the continual messaging here and on the bike: Get daytime lights, and make sure they’re bright. Drivers may not like you, but they don’t want to hit you. They really don’t. They’re simply scapegoating you for their own inattentiveness. Here’s how it works.

  1. Driver is distracted.
  2. Driver sees you at the last minute because you are inconspicuous.
  3. Driver takes emergency evasive action, sometimes hitting you, sometimes not.
  4. Driver is scared shitless that he almost hit you/actually hit you.
  5. Driver blames you for his bad behavior.

With daytime lights, here’s how it works:

  1. Driver is distracted.
  2. Driver sees you way in advance.
  3. Driver avoids you.
  4. Driver honks/flips you off, but never comes close to hitting you.
  5. Driver continues on, leaving you in peace and intact.

Light yourself up. Really. Do.

END

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Belgian rider Wim van der Poop admits to racing clean

May 2, 2018 § 6 Comments

In a new tell-all biography detailing his twelve-year career as a domestique for the UCI Rather Pro Continental IV Substrata team Herndy-Doo, Belgian rider Wim van der Poop admitted that he had raced clean his entire career. “Of course I’m ashamed of it,” said van der Poop at the press conference announcing his book, Bread, Water, and More Bread. “But that’s how it was at the time. If you wanted to come in last, or near last, that’s what you had to do.”

The UCI has launched an investigation into the allegations, most of which center around team manager Donqui van Hoydonck. “Van Hoydonck knew that the riders were on a non-doping program,” van der Poop alleges in his book. “He simply turned a blind eye. His attitude was, ‘If the racers are clean, that’s none of my business.'”

When Cycling in the South Bay contacted van Hoydonck about these explosive new non-doping allegations, van Hoydonck vigorously denied them. “Van der Poop was never a major factor in any race, ever. Plus, why would we endanger our team’s reputation by putting him on a non-doping regimen? If our sponsors ever found out it would have been the end of the team, twenty-two people would have been out of jobs. You think I would have risked that just to put van der Poop on bread and water?”

Van der Poop’s book details the procedures through which riders were non-doped. “It was a complicated, very organized affair, perhaps the most extensive and corrupt non-doping system in the history of sport,” van der Poop writes. “In the morning we were brought into a cafeteria and fed large amounts of bread, eggs, bacon, and water. Some riders even received mineral water such as Perrier or San Pelligrino. I couldn’t ever bring myself to swallow the bubbles, but many did. I personally saw them do it.”

Team Herndy-Doo folded in 2017 after failing to find a sponsor when its top rider, Wouter Spouter, was expelled from the most important race on the Rather Pro Continental IV Substrata race calendar, the Tour of the Bill’s Plumbing Supplies Parking Lot. Spouter tested negative for thirteen different performance enhancing substance and was judged “physically, and perhaps mentally, unfit to race.” Team Herndy-Doo, a charter member of the Incredible Movement for Credible Cycling, was forced to withdraw its entire team under the cloud of suspicion that non-doped riders were participating in UCI-sanctioned events.

“There’s an omerta in cycling about non-doping,” says van der Poop. “But the madness has to stop. Until someone is willing to admit that riders non-dope at all levels of the peloton, we’ll continue to have people like me who chase their dreams only to retire, bitter and disillusioned, and facing a lifetime of not having a single drug addiction or horrible health-related disability as a result of never using banned drugs. It’s just not right.”

END

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Bread and time

May 1, 2018 § 10 Comments

A few decades ago I bought fifteen or twenty small hardback books from the Modern Library. Some had green dust covers, some had red. One of the red ones was the Letters of Seneca. I remember little of the book, but I took from it a line that has stayed with me ever since: “Men don’t know the value of time, they squander it as if it were free.”

But after more than thirty years I began to wonder if that were really the quote. After all I had engraved on my memory two unforgettable lines, neither of which the Internet can find. This one from Shakespeare: “A tooth is more precious than a diamond.”

And this one from Samuel Johnson: “If a man hates at all, he will hate his neighbor.”

Though I’ve never been able to confirm either quote, they are pithy and brilliant such that I could never have thought them up; if I had I’d never attribute them to someone else. But if I could be so wrong about those made-up quotes, I wondered if perhaps I were also wrong about the quote by Seneca.

This time, the Internet didn’t fail me. After clicking on a few search results for “Seneca and time” I hit the mother lode, and the quote was actually not too far from how I had misremembered it: “Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.” Seneca’s was better, though. Duh.

Rehashing the hashed hash

A few clicks down the wormhole and up popped a whole bunch of other quotes about time from Seneca the Stoic.

Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations, but must regulate their sleep by another’s, and their walk by another’s pace, and obey orders in those freest of all things, loving and hating. If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.

Ouch. A whole lot of people should be feeling ouch about right now.

But like any good philosopher, Seneca had a few more granite blocks to drop on your big toe. Like this one:

It is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil. They achieve what they want laboriously; they possess what they have achieved anxiously; and meanwhile they take no account of time that will never more return. New preoccupations take the place of the old, hope excites more hope and ambition more ambition. They do not look for an end to their misery, but simply change the reason for it.

In sum, the problem, as you may surmise, is you.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

DIY eating

Five or six years ago my wife started baking bread, and about three years ago we stopped buying bread pretty much completely. Then a couple of years ago we started roasting our own coffee. Last year? Making our own yogurt, making our own jam. This year? Making our own granola. Last week? Grinding our own wheat into flour.

As one of my friends said, “Keep at it, Seth! Pretty soon you’ll have entered the 19th Century! You might need a bigger apartment for the bags of cotton, the spinning wheel and loom, though. And the Merino sheep may not fit in the living room too well.”

Behind the humor was a criticism, which I’d roughly approximate as “What the fuck are you doing?” As he put it, “It’s awesome that you bake bread, but you know I can buy a loaf at the store for $1.99.”

“I’m cheap,” I said. “My bread costs a few pennies a loaf because we buy the wheat in 50-lb. sacks. And,” I added with my holiest-than-thou, “what you’re buying at the store isn’t bread. It’s a chemical cocktail.”

He laughed. “Of course it’s bread. Flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, and 47 FDA-approved additives. You may not like the taste, but it’s still bread.”

He was right, you know. The next day I went for a bike ride and thought about it.

No woolen underwear for this cowboy

In fact, I am cheap. But also in fact, I’m not trying to get back to a past I never knew. The next step isn’t raising my own sheep and growing my own cotton so that I can weave my own clothes. There is no next step, because “next step” suggests a plan, a method, a strategy, a goal. I have none of those things, exactly.

But over time I’ve consistently tried, often failing, to choose things that extract the maximum value out of my time, and have eschewed those rote, common-sense choices that have never made any sense, at least to me. And few things have been as value-laden as bicycling. It’s bicycling, in fact, that has kept my needle pointing due north. If you’re willing to forego many of the “must-haves” in life so that you can pedal your bike around the planet, you’re probably going to end up jettisoning more and more must-haves as you age, quickly determining that rather than “must-haves” they are “must-avoids.”

And if you ride enough and read enough and travel enough and look around enough, you eventually start to focus on what you eat, even more so if you’re sober. In my case, if you ride enough and you’re cheap enough, you come around to bread. And mark my words, the rumblings of the biker bread revolution are already here. How do I know? Let me tell you how I know…

Flogging for fun and gluten

Last Thursday I finished the Flog Ride and a new rider came up to me atop La Cuesta. “I love this ride!” he said, which is what people always say after their first flogging, and which is invariably followed by their failure to ever come back.

“Great,” I said. “That makes you weird.”

“Well, cyclist,” he said.

“Good point. How’d you find out about it? Most people in the South Bay make a point of pretending they’ve never heard of it, even people who live within 100 yards of the start there at Malaga Cove Plaza.”

“Your blog,” he said. “You’re kind of into baking, right?”

This was a difficult question. Yes, I was into baking, but like virtually everything else I’ve ever been into [such as: archery, guitar, piano, flute, harmonica, Thai, Chinese, Slovak, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, shaving with a straight razor, Chaucer, self-published journals on Japanese law, birdwatching, nature trails, backpacking, butterfly identification, surfing, swimming, running, ceramics, sumo, podcasting, cyclocross, photography, blogging, poetry, beer making, beer drinking, bike racing, coffee roasting, web site designing, museum consulting, and countless other things of varied scope and longevity] there’s a big difference between being “into” something and being “good” at something.

“I like to bake bread,” I said cautiously, sensing a trap, but it was too late.

“What kind of organic stone-milled flour do you use?”

Just as I had feared! Someone who was an actual baker about to grill me on my fumbling and amateurish techniques. So I went big. “I grind my own.”

“You what?”

“Yeah,” I said, trying to pretend that I always walked around with four aces or a royal flush. “we grind our own flour at home. Buy the wheat in bulk and grind as needed.”

The significance of this wasn’t the posing. That’s a given for any bike group ride, and mandatory for the Flog. The significance was that some biker dude, instead of asking me about watts and power meters and Strava, was asking me about organic stone-milled flour. This is what’s known as a harbinger. The world is changing and it changes with the hipsters first, and this dude wore his hipster cred on his chin, with a beard that would have easily housed a colony of weaver birds.

Bread and bikes

You’ll not be surprised to know that baking bread is easy and cheap. How easy? It’s so easy that I can do it. Watch me surf sometime, or watch me try to change a tire, and you’ll realize how easy baking has to be. The thing about bread that is mystical and magical, though, isn’t simply that you can feed a family on it. What’s mystical is that something so simple can be so filling and substantial.

Over the years, my wife has given out countless loaves of bread to friends and family, and she’s even made it an offering of sorts, as time allows, for #profamateurs who conquer the wind out at Telo. People’s reactions are uniform–they tear into it, and in a very short while, it’s all gone. Every piece, every crumb. Note: This isn’t what happens when you give someone a $1.99 loaf from Von’s.

Making your own bread plays into Seneca’s hands, because it forces you to sacrifice that one commodity you can never replenish, time. Like learning a foreign language, the time expenditure seems vast until you’re staring at the hieroglyphics that you now can read, until you’re pushing into your mouth the fresh slab covered with butter, until you’re listening to the smile in the voice of the person with whom you’re breaking bread, experiencing second-hand their joy at an unspeakable luxury that for you is … your daily bread.

None of these things happens unless you’re willing to turn your back on the must-haves. As simple as baking a good loaf of bread may be, you have to give something up. What will that be? #socmed? Noooooo! The big game(s)? Noooooooo! Dinner out? Noooooooo! In fact, there’s even a great series of Internet lists that sums up all the things you have done today or are going to do tomorrow that will get between you and a fresh loaf of bread, a/k/a Unbelievably Stupid Shit That You Waste Your Time On:

  1. Not too sure about No. 7, but No. 20? Yessss!
  2. Pretty sure I’ve never done No. 4, or No. 24. No. 16? GUILTY!
  3. I especially like No. 1.

As you scroll through these lists, cringing, hopefully, imagine how your life might change with a couple of more hours in the day, hours spend getting your hands doughy. In fact, the craft bread movement, with cyclists in the lead, has been well underway for a while. Team Lizard Collectors member Gregory Cooke, a fantastic baker, was the first person who advised us on flour. French cyclist and baker Marilyne Faye feeds her family on home baked bred. Local hammer Alex Barnes is married to a magnificent baker; they’ve recently installed a commercial oven and are going to begin sharing Lisa’s astonishing bread-artwork with the public.

Bikers off the front, but instead of shooting up EPO, they’re peddling bread crack. Yum.

But what about my tummy???

The big fear for most cyclists isn’t squandering the precious minutes in their life on something worthless, they’re cyclists, for dog’s sake. The true fear of a full-on bread diet is the calorie count; my standard sourdough loaf packs almost 3,000 kcal. As with most phobias, the phobia of bread = fat is a fallacy. Home baked whole grain bread that’s dense and eaten with butter actually helps you keep your waistline in check.

For one, the whole grain and the butter slow down the digestion, so you don’t get the crazy sugar spike + sugar crash that come from eating Twinkies, Wonderbread, or other commercial snacks. In point of fact, for the 5.5 hours I spent flogging myself on the BWR, I had a baggie of raisins and almonds, and two tinfoils with sourdough-and-pb. I ran out of watts, but never came close to running out of energy. I think Surfer powered a chunk of his BWR on Wanky Bread & pb, too.

Aside from the nutrition of home baked loaves where you–not a CEO with a degree in chemistry–get to choose the ingredients, there’s another factor that helps keep uncontrolled eating down, and it’s the simple fact that when you’re the one who has to make the stuff, you’re not quite as cavalier about eating it. After the gluttony of the first few dozen loaves wears off, you realize that every slice you eat is a slice you’re going to have to bake later. And with this comes something long lost from most of our lives: The preciousness of food itself.

It’s this process of synching what you consume with what you create that, like a millstone, grinds down the obstacles standing in between you and the things that can add meaning to the minutes you’re here. And you don’t, emphatically, have to return to 1850 to do it.

END

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It takes energy to ride yer bike. Why not power it with something you make yourself? Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Blog-gevity

April 30, 2018 § 15 Comments

It’s a jungle out there, a blog-eat-blog world where only the strong survive. Over the years I have seen many come and go, and each day, frankly, is a new day over here at the California Division of Cycling in the South Bay. Were it not for my six paid subscribers, I’d have packed it in a long time ago.

What’s astonishing is how few long-running cycling blogs there actually are, depending, of course, on what you mean by “blog.” In their infancy, blogs were digital diaries written on a more-or-less daily basis by a sole author and directed at a relatively small audience. But what happened was predictable:

  1. Most died, unable to meet the crushing pressure of daily, or even weekly deadlines.
  2. Those that survived did so by becoming online magazines with multiple writers, photographers, and ad sales departments.

There are notable exceptions such as Bike Snob NYC, DC Rainmaker, and Dave Moulton’s Blog, but the single-grape varietal that gets picked, pressed, casked, vinted, bottled, and daily carried to market on a donkey cart seems pretty much over.

Cycling in the South Bay has been published continuously since 2011, with this issue being #1883. I’ve published a handful of guest posts, probably less than ten. The rest of the manure pile is mine, all mine. I didn’t know it when I started, but it turns out that my hero is Karl Kraus and his legendary publication record of Die Fackel, one man doing it all from 1899 to 1936, and even more incredibly, just as angry when he started as he was when he finished.

I had a conversation with a friend last night who asked me how I came up with topics.

“That’s easy,” I said. “I open a screen and start typing.”

Actually, I didn’t say that. I don’t remember exactly what I said as I was already on my fourth glass of craft water, but it was something like this: “Every day I wake up with the realization that I have to write something on that stupid fucking blog. So I try to pay attention during the day so that when something pops up I can nab it before it slips away, like one of Socrates’s fleeting words which always seemed to flit away just before he could nail down its meaning.” [I totally added in the Socrates part just now.]

And I guess the other two things, not so strangely, are reading and riding. The more I read and the more I ride, the easier it is to blog. Fortunately, I don’t have to read very much about cycling, and perhaps even more fortunately, I don’t have to cycle while reading.

What’s also interesting is that the blog format, which promised to be a free space where talented people could let loose with only the finest prose, unencumbered by page limits, nasty editors, rejection slips, publishing house politics, agents, and over-the-transom submissions, turned into a horrible 6′ x 9′ sunless room where people who thought they had something to say realized that they did, and once said, THAT WAS IT.

I’m one of them, I suppose. I just haven’t realized it yet.

END

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Battery doping

April 28, 2018 § 4 Comments

We had hit Trump, I was in my 53 x 17, and Gavin Hoover was pulling away. I was doing my best to stay on his wheel. At the bottom of the Switchbacks he began doing his best to make sure I was not on his wheel, which was pretty effective, not just as to me, but as to the other four riders struggling might and main not to get dropped. When a dude with his sights set on making the Olympic team hits the gas, your day is done. The peloton was a distant memory.

I tried to shift onto an easier rear cog but the derailleur wouldn’t move. I got off the big chain ring but the 39 x 17 was too small to keep up, and they began pulling away. I realized the rear derailleur battery on my SRAM e-tap had died.

Every Saturday afternoon I charge front and rear, and this week I’d only ridden Tue/Thu/Fri, hardly enough to run down the battery. On the other hand, the batteries were two-and-a-half years old. That’s about 130 charges, which I figured was probably enough to have taken the battery to the end of its life.

I pulled over to swap the front battery onto the rear. Swarms of riders passed. I fumbled a bit but got it done, hopped on, and pedaled away. After a bit Derek the Ninja Destroyer caught me, dragging Ivan and someone else, and towed us to about 200 yards from the first chase group, throwing burned and shellacked droppees into the Destroyer blender as he passed.

I hopped up the last couple of hundred yards and rode up Crest, towed the whole way by Bryant Rolf, who recently relocated from the East Coast back to L.A. and brought a vicious pair of legs with him. I sucked wheel until the end and sprunted around him.

The group re-agglomerated and as we rode into San Pedro I told Gavin what had happened. He nodded. “I don’t think my cables ever lost their charge during a ride or race,” he said.

END

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