Winter is coming!

October 14, 2017 § 13 Comments

It’s mid-October which means my birthday is near so please send cash. Better yet, subscribe to my blog which is the same thing and allows you to give me carbon that is 100% pure carbon all year long.

But it’s almost winter, too, and no challenge is greater in SoCal for hardcore avid recreational cyclists (HARCs) than throwing a leg over when it’s a brutal 52 degrees outside and forcing yourself to shiver through the first hour of your ride until it reaches a barely tolerable 65 degrees.

Whatever else you want to say about it, cycling makes you as tough as our President.

I don’t normally recommend products unless I have something truly awful to say about them, but since your comfort and winter profamateur training schedules are at stake, here are the “must have” items if you’re going to be crazy fit and raring to tear legs off in January’s first Cat 4 30-minute crit.

  • Most people dress in layers, building thin strips of heat-retaining fabric on top of one another and capping it with an outer garment. Fugg that. In SoCal you start with the heavy stuff and work inwards. When you have forced yourself to get out of bed and be on the road by 10:00 AM, when you are battling the fierce late morning sunny temps, when it might, later in the week, start to sprinkle, you come prepared. And preparation in SoCal means the AGV Sport Thunder 2-piece Rain Suit. Brang it, beeyatch.
  • It’s Tuesday. No, it’s Thursday. Oh, wait, IDGAF because whichever day it is, it’s time to hit the NPR and stomp some fuggin’ dicks and club some baby seals. Thaswha I’m talkinbou. And you won’t be stompin’ and clubbin’ in a pair of Wanky’s shiny white dancing slippers. No sir, when it’s threatening to sprinkle and there’s a massive wisp of a cloud over at 3 o’clock threatening to plunge the temps even deeper than the current 59, you need to have the right footwear. You need stompin’ boots that will keep your feet dry and your ankles sexy and that can double as comfy apres-beatdownwear for when you are hanging out at CotKO and booting tourists from Ohio off your perch on the bricks. I’m talkingbou the Chrome 415 Storm Pro Bike Shoe. You will be, too.
  • Okay, you’ve got your rubber hood cinched down. You’ve got your Storm Pro Bike Shoes laced tighter than a granny’s girdle. But you ain’t goin’ far in a SoCal winter lest you have your hands taken care of. Studies show that after less than ten minutes of blasting frigid air on your hands, you will lose circulation and nerve sensations, and it doesn’t blast much colder than here in SoCal, where you lose ten degrees to wind chill making the morning temps an inhuman 52 degrees. Inhuman, I say. The Arete Pro will take you from HARC to your first UCI contract. Gare-awn-teed.

Of course there’s more to surviving the sub-60 temps than buying a bunch of stuff, although frankly, like a cyclocross bike, once you’ve bought it why in the world would you use it, but if you’re going to tough out the crazy winters here, there are some SoCal-specific training plans you need to consider purchasing from your online coach. We’ll discuss proper mental preparation in another exciting post.

Until then, enjoy these last days of fall, as the leaves turn, the state burns to a crisp, and temperatures begin going from 72 to 71 or even 70.8. Brrrrrr.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Car death

October 12, 2017 § 58 Comments

Once you go electric, you’ll never go back. Ever since I got a Chevy Volt, my car life changed. Most Americans drive 29.2 miles a day, and that fits with my wife and my driving habits. Since my Volt gets about 70 miles per charge, during the week we use zero gasoline. Once a month we have to fill up the 8.9-gallon tank, which takes a couple of minutes and a fistful of dollars. I have a small fist, too.

I used to drive by gas stations and marvel at the people standing there, or jockeying for position, or scowling because their card got rejected, or, my favorite, simply waiting in line. I don’t notice it so much any more, but for about a year, every time I passed a gas station I thought, “Wow, it sure does suck to be them.”

Now it’s a simple fact of life. Gas stations are, in the main, no longer part of my existence. People who choose to hang out at them are, like smokers, simply making bad choices.

Even more than a Prius, electric cars generate huge amounts of superiority complex. You’ll hear a car’s engine and think, “What an outdated clunker.” So what if it’s got a black horse-on-a-yellow-background or if its badge is a three-pointed star?

Or, “Wow, your car is so noisy. What a junker.” Or, “Don’t you know that your car stinks?” Basically, electric cars generate all the superiority of commuting by bicycle without all the sweat and health benefits, although not getting run over by a car is a pretty big health benefit.

Electric cars are going to massively increase bike ridership. This is because they will morph into self-driving cars, and once you take the idiot out of the driving equation and replace it with electronic avoidance systems, cagers will mostly stop hitting people on bicycles. This will also put bicycle injury lawyers out of business, another benefit on the immediate horizon.

Gas carophiles think that the full electrification of cars is a long way off, but they’re wrong. Why? Because China.

China has a big pollution problem, and unlike Trump, they’re trying to address it, not perhaps because they see intrinsic value in clean air, but because the regime sees intrinsic value in people not being furious about having to live in a carcinogenic soup. China, Inc. also recognizes that every place “USA! USA!” drags its feet on clean technology, it is giving China, Inc. a massive head start in the global sales war and the global mass production war.

According to Forbes, “…there are now more than 140 EV [electric vehicle] battery manufacturers in China, busily building capacity in order to claim a share of what will become a $240 billion global industry within the next 20 years. As in all things auto, EVs and the batteries that will power them promise to be big industries in China.” What Forbes doesn’t add is that if it’s a big industry in China, China is going to be a gargantuan player in that industry. Tesla’s big Nevada battery factory, with its 35-Gigawatt/hour production capacity, is a newt compared to China’s capacity, which today stands at 125 GWh, and in two decades will double to 250.

Oh, and another little detail: It’s a zero-sum game. Each new electric car replaces a gasoline one.

Of course my secret agenda isn’t simply to get rid of smoky cars, it’s to radically increase safety and bike ridership. Thank you, China, Inc.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

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Getting ready

October 11, 2017 § 18 Comments

In a few days we’re going to celebrate the 5th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. This means many things to many people, but to me it only means one thing: Angst over tying my bow tie.

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Every year I get on YouBoob and watch the 3:42 video showing me how to tie my tie. First problem is that it’s all backwards. They need to stand with their backs to the camera so I can exactly copy them. Second problem is that I know the video by heart. It’s been viewed 4,260,062 times, and 4,260,061are by me. Third problem is that tying a proper bow tie is like truing a wheel. You get good at it by doing it a bunch, preferably on other people’s wheels, not yours. But I don’t know how to suggest that other people let me tie their bow ties; it’s almost like asking a dude if you could help him with his zipper.

Many unhelpful people are always ready to offer unhelpful suggestions, the first and most obvious one being “Why don’t you use a clip-on bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you use a pre-tied bow tie?” followed by “Why don’t you wear a t-shirt?” followed by “You look like an idiot.”

The reason I don’t use a clip-on tie is because when I was a kid I always used clip-on ties. I had six of them and I wore them all the time. When I dressed up for cowboys and Indians I would always get my holster and my gun and my cowboy hat and my cowboy sneakers and my clip-on tie. In other words, I associate clip-on neckwear with childhood, which is why I stopped wearing clip-ons shortly after I turned forty.

The next most obvious move is to use a pre-tied bow tie. Do I really need to go there? Pre-tied ties are lame. They mean you are lazy and incompetent beyond all reason. If you are too lazy to learn to tie a bow tie, then why are you even wearing pants? Pre-tied bow ties also look horrible. They are tied perfectly and don’t match your slovenly approach to everything else, and everyone knows at a glance that you are too lazy and inept to tie your own tie. Why did you spend all that money on the green tux and the orange shirt and the purple cummerbund and the white braces just to garf it all up with a pre-tied bow tie? Please.

Also, pre-tied bow ties take away a lot of the formality of your special event, for example, your funeral. Special events are formal and therefore stressful. As they’re wheeling in the coffin you are likely to wonder “Is my formaldehyde okay?” or “Did they cover up the stab wounds on my face?” or “Gosh I hope they glued my eyes shut.” It’s that anxiety that forces you to take the time to tie your funeral bow tie right. Formal events are special in large part because they tell you know that if you screw up you’ll be embarrassed and feel bad and etc. So there you are getting all formally dressed up, carefully putting on your fancy clothes, and when the most stressful part comes you cave and stick on a fake bow tie. If you had prepared all year for your big bike race and gotten all nervous and then at the last minute rolled up with a secretly motorized bike, wouldn’t be anticlimactic? Oh. Never mind that example.

The next option is alt-Clothing, i.e. t-shirt and jeans. Well, you clearly don’t understand the Wanky Awards. It is a very prestigious and formal affair. From the very first iteration, when it was held in the luxury facilities of Naja’s dive bar (100 taps!), shoehorned between the pool table and the record machine, I insisted on wearing my tux and bow tie, not because any of the drunken slobs celebrating the inaugural Wankys would care, but because my vision was that eventually people would rise to the occasion and show respect for this august gathering by dressing appropriately.

So here we are in the fifth year, with a rented dance floor, a Brazilian DJ, free food and beer for the first 350 wankers and wankettes, held in a giant beer warehouse in which to swill tacos and munch IPAs. If you wouldn’t get all gussied up for that … what would you get gussied up for?

Now with regard to that “You look like an idiot” observation. Hmmm. Carry on.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

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Not for airline consumption

October 10, 2017 § 16 Comments

There I was, sitting on the sold-out 5:00 AM from LAX to Denver, wedged between the wildebeest and the sweating bald accountant with the hacking, sputum-laden cough of a Cat 1 smoker, when I innocently pulled out my copy of Phil Gaimon’s latest book, “Draft Animals.”

The plan of the entire cabin was the same: Sleep until Denver. My plan? Get through as much of Draft Animals as I could before reaching Houston, my final destination. The two plans would turn out to be irreconcilable, like Sunnis and Shias.

First, let me get a disclaimer out of the way. Phil Gaimon is a close personal vague acquaintance of mine, a guy I have known for many long months who is a year older than my oldest kid. We have shared many Twitter hearts and lols as only close socmed friendies can, so don’t think I’m going to be objective about this book which was free to me but won’t be to you.

Second, understand that I would heartily encourage you to read this book and would rate it ten out of five stars even if it were a steaming pile of shit, which it is because in the footnote on page 296 it says “complement” instead of “compliment.”

Jeez.

Anyway, I would still urge you to buy it, read it, and buy another copy as a Christmas gift because it is worth its weight in guffaws, snickers, chortles, snot-bombs, wheezes, hacks, gasps, screeches, snorts, and howls. Phil and his copy editors and their Word grammer chek and the whole fucking editorial apparatus of Penguin Books may stumble over “complement,” but if you don’t laugh yourself hoarse you are probably getting injected with formaldehyde and being prepped for the viewing.

You should buy this book because it is cheap and funny and I’m a fanman because I once got Phil to nod at me from across a dimly lit room, or maybe he was nodding at the model who I was standing next to, but the other reason I’m bound to praise it no matter what is because he talks about so many people I know or have stalked. Matt Wikstrom, Rahsaan Bahati, Hrach Gevrikian, “Joanna,” and others get honorably mentioned, and a really good review here ups the odds that in his next book, “How Seth Davidson Made Me Famous,” I will at least get a mention.

Speaking of butthurt, fuck Phil Gaimon for not mentioning Tony Manzella and that day on Mandeville when courtesy of Phil, Thorfinn Sasquatch’s tainted KOM on Mandeville Canyon was ripped away and returned to its rightful owner. I can’t believe he wrote about competing at the highest echelon of human endeavor and Paris-Roubaix and stuff and left that out.

But back to my story about spraying phlegm all over the cabin en route to Denver and the murderously enraged passengers …

“Draft Animals” goes far beyond Phil’s last book, “Ask A Pro,” which was hilarious and a polished gem in its own right, and far, far, far beyond his first book, “Pro Cycling on $10 a Day,” a book I never read but which Penguin described as a “cult classic,” which I think means “funny book about a weird niche that sold way more than the fifty copies we expected,” and anyway, who doesn’t like a good cult?

This post-cult effort of Phil’s goes super deep, like any good blowjob, into the inherent contradictions wrapped up in chasing your dreams. Not limited to sports, many try and almost all fail. Why bother? How do we justify the risk? What does success taste like and is it salty?

Phil plumbs the depths of an underpaid journeyman pro with the sophisticated literary devices of poop jokes, dick jokes, pee-pee jokes, and a strange mix of poignant stories and jagged edge realizations that are as moving as they are unexpected. And he remembers to toss in a couple of metaphors and similes to show his college English prof that the A- he got in creative writing was a miscarriage of justice.

Everyone knows that life is hard and failure is the wages of birth but “Draft Animals” itemizes the paystub in the poverty, injury, fear, pain, shock, privation, gnawing physical hunger, betrayal, and disappointment of “clawing his way to the middle” as a pro cyclist. It doesn’t all suck, as he abundantly makes clear. Despite the ten-year grind, he once won a big race. Another time he got to eat a whole bar of dark chocolate and only felt slightly guilty about it. Amazing highs.

Like any great writer, Phil tries to make sense out of absurdity without doing us the indignity of pretending that it all makes sense, that the circle can be squared, but without the nihilism, either. He reserves a polite decency for those he cares about, and he boils the objects of his ire in scathing derision without ever pretending that he’s better. Even in the awful and despicable character of Jonathan Vaughters, he finds, if not redemption, at least a death penalty commuted to a life sentence of douchebaggery.

Phil’s protesting lady of modesty retains its reminders of success: He may have sucked as a pro, but lots sucked worse and don’t even think you’re his equal. He may never have struck it rich like Thomas Dekker, who waltzed out of his career as a failed doper and into the budoir of a multimillionaire Beverly Hills heiress, but he has three fine books published by Penguin, he owns two homes, and he rode two years on the World Fucking Tour.

That may not be success measured against Warren Buffett’s finances, but it sure doesn’t smell like failure to me. And anyway, as the book makes muddily clear, what in the world does success even mean?

If you love good writing, you need to buy this book. Where else can you find Thoreau jokes next to dick jokes next to ruminations on good and evil interspersed with ridicule of Jens Voigt and the Schlecks? Nowhere but in “Draft Animals,” that’s where.

When we touched down in Denver my sides ached. The cabin was sullen. I couldn’t help giggling about Thomas Dekker’s giant foreskin, allegedly long enough to cover ten quarters. As I walked up the jetway puffing white balls of water vapor and thinking about the day’s schedule of airports and connecting flights while simultaneously smiling at this guy’s funny stories, interesting life, and fine writing, I knew that the long day ahead wasn’t going to be so grueling after all.

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

Making wheatgrass great again

October 9, 2017 § 7 Comments

There used to be a weekly pedal called the Wheatgrass Ride. It left Malaga Cove Plaza every Sunday at about 8:05 AM. The ride was begun by Mike N. It had a nice rhythm to it; everyone would ride in a civil fashion up around the golf course and then ride civilly along PV Drive North, two by two, civilly, to the base of the reservoir climb.

From there it became markedly uncivil and people pushed the pedals, some harder, some less hard, until the whole thing detonated. Then some of the detonators would descend Miraleste, climb Better Homes still pushing hard, and then ascend up to the sacred radar domes. The shrapnel would straggle in and everyone would regroup.

Mike always brought up the rear.

After that there would be a civil descent of the Switchbacks and a civil drop down to the low point, after which many but not all niceties would be dispensed with, and then at the Glass Church all pretense of politesse would be swiftly discarded and fangs would be bared, pedals pushed, gaspy folks dropped, and all would end in the glorious Hawthorne sprunt.

Mike would bring up the rear again, there would be a regrouping at the 7-11, all hostilities would cease, the armistice would be signed, peace pipes smoked, and everyone would slowly soldier in a most civil fashion up the long Hawthorne climb to PV Mall, where huge celebrations would take place in the form of wheatgrass libations, which were nasty but a rite of passage.

This went on for a few years until Mike gave up. Some said he was moving to Hawaii and was tired of hanging out around all the South Bay goofballs. Some said that he had gotten the yips from too many near misses. Some said he had become old and cranky and wanted to be left alone. Still others said he got tired of all the people who showed up on the Wheatgrass Ride and ignored the rules of the ride.

I suspect it was a bit of all of that, plus the fact that every Sunday he spent $50 on wheatgrass, which times 52 times 6 adds up.

Whatever, he stopped coming to the ride and then stopped coming to all rides. It just happens to people. They get old and ride off.

The Wheatgrass Ride first reveled in the absence of its parent, and the little kids turned it into a murderous, go from the gun smashfest, but that didn’t work because we already had one of those the day before, the Donut. The beauty of the Wheatgrass was that you could be a tired old buffalo or a feisty young buck and still get in a workout and be able to spin and chat with friends.

The best part was the apres-ski, sucking down nasty wheatgrass dreck and telling stories mixed with the occasional fact. When Mike walked away all that died. He was missed, but he was never around to hear it, and plus, he didn’t GAF.

Then a couple of days ago Hoofixr sent out a message: Make Wheatgrass Great Again. Hoofixr is a nice guy but he also means what he says. And what he said was this:

  1. The ride will follow the old school Norris Rules.
  2. Anyone wants to hammer on the easy segments, beat it.
  3. Lies and wheatgrass at the end.

This promise lured a bunch of the wheatgrass faithful out, and it was a success. Hoofixr laid down the Norris Rules and they were followed. Pedals were pushed, lies were told, wheatgrass was chugged. Just like the old days.

Not that he GAF, but Norris would have approved.

END

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Low Fidelity Podcast No. 5: Lance’s date with destiny

October 7, 2017 § 8 Comments

My fifth podcast …

Bleak House. Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. The lawsuit that never ends …

https://southbaycycling.podbean.com/e/low-fidelity-podcast-5-lance-armstrongs-date-with-destiny/

That’s what Landis v. Tailwind Sports is like, an epic mountain of paper, hearings, and court filings that is now a veritable Mt. Everest. Filed in 2010, the case has finally reached maturity. Scheduled for trial in November, Armstrong made a last-ditch plea to the court to kick the can down the road until spring of 2018, which will possibly give cycling’s perennial bad boy a chance to settle.

Make no mistake, delay is the friend of the defense, and Lance has spent an estimated $15 million defending this assault on his personal fortune, which remains considerable.

How will it all shake out?

Tune in!

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early.

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White out

October 6, 2017 § 37 Comments

A few hours ago it became really clear that my right rear knee’s banjo wasn’t going to be ready for the Donut Ride on Saturday. The first part of my treatment plan, “Get off yer fuggin’ bike,” I had followed religiously for 24 hours. Okay, not quite 24 hours, but almost. I didn’t ride at all while I was in bed. Several people had emailed and posted curative comments such as “ice,” and “RuggedMaxx 2,” but it was too complicated for me to implement so instead I cleaned my shoes.

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Then on Tuesday I decided to “give ‘er a try” so I pedaled up and down the street a few times and it felt okay. “Road to recovery,” I decided, and cleaned up my shoes some more.

On Wednesday I “gave ‘er another try” and pedaled up and down the street and it still felt okay. Well, okay, not okay, but it didn’t hurt. It felt a little tender, kind of like when you were a little kid and your brother had smashed you in the face twenty times the day before and the next day if something pressed against your lips, like air, it was tender. Tender like that.

On Thursday I was 100% sure that I was good to go because the day before I had spent five or ten minutes or two hours hand washing all of my white Base Cartel “South Bay Cycling” socks and they were screamingly ready to be worn along with my white shoes which had been rubbed down with some saddle soap, then glossed over with neutral wax and white scuff cover.

If crazy clean white socks and spanky white shoes won’t fix a raw banjo string, nothing will.

I put on my bicycle suit and rode across the street. I knew that it would be a bad idea to immediately ride anything hilly, especially anything steep, so I rode and up and down Old Hawthorne, which is completely flat except for the steep uphill parts which were in my way. My white socks and white shoes were firing on all cylinders, but what really got all of my tendinitis-curing white blood cells swarming was my bleached white shoelaces, which were sparkling in the sun. It had only taken a couple of hours to hand wash them and soak them in bleach and then rinse them out and then sun-dry them on the balcony; totally worth it.

After five minutes my banjo started hurting like a fucker, but that was just because it had been sitting there mostly unused for a few days and it was going to feel great once the white blood cells warmed it up. After ten minutes it was hurting like ten fuckers, so I stopped and adjusted my white shoelaces, thinking they hadn’t been laced up tightly enough to squeeze the white blood cells out of my feet up to the affected area. After fifteen minutes my tendon or my ligament or my bone knob or whatever it was, was hurting so dogdamned bad I could hardly pedal, so I limped back home and wrote a nasty letter to my sock supplier and to Giro shoes, advising them how badly their products had failed to cure my tendinitis.

Today is Friday, Donut-minus 24 hours, and it’s not looking good for the leaky prosate team. Does anyone out there have a white summer kit and some RuggedMaxx 2 I can borrow?

END

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For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blogcast, or podblog, and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 350 guests, so get there early. Gussy, you can show up this year, just to say hello.

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