Fresh air

June 11, 2017 § 12 Comments

Yesterday I sponsored a peloton skills clinic, taught by Rahsaan Bahati and assisted by Big Orange club members Greg Seyranian and Jon Stark. We had thirty-two riders show up for the free event, which took place on Westchester Parkway.

For ninety minutes Rahsaan talked, answered questions, and rode two laps around the Parkway so that we could practice the things he taught.

Education is a critically missing component from most bicycling organizations. It’s hard to understand why, as a condition of its existence, every bike club doesn’t have an ongoing education requirement. Actually, it’s easy to understand.

  1. Most people who run a club think they are experts with nothing to learn.
  2. Most people who race bikes think they invented cycling.
  3. Most club members are wholly unaware of educational opportunities, because typically THERE ARE NONE.
  4. Most cyclists would rather ride badly and get hurt than devote several Saturdays a year to improving or, dog forbid, teaching others.
  5. 99.99999% of all non-cycling family members have no idea, none at all, how dangerous riding a bike can be if you do it wrong.
  6. Safety has no place in any racing club I’ve ever belonged to except, if you’re incredibly lucky, as an add-on to kit design, race reimbursement, board squabbles, fights over sponsorship, training, and Strava competitions. Usually it’s completely non-existent.
  7. Most clubs refuse to pay money for professional instruction. But they will pay for parties!
  8. Most racers think race survival skills = road safety skills.
  9. Most new cyclists ape the attitudes of the more experienced ignoramuses.
  10. There’s never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over … in the hospital.

This clinic was strongly supported by the Big Orange membership, with about forty riders and three board members giving up the precious, golden Saturday riding hours of 8:00 to 10:00 to enjoy the clinic, which was an outgrowth of the first one put together by Big Orange rider and board member Joann Zwagerman.

I’ve been racing since 1984 and riding competitively (i.e. like a freddie) since 1982, and I learned so much listening to Rahsaan. Few people in LA have any inkling how knowledgeable this man is, and it’s not until you’ve actually listened to him that you can even begin to appreciate his warmth, kindness, gentle instruction, and profound understanding of what goes into competent bike handling.

Even though we’re the only community with a Rahsaan, your community has experts who possess great knowledge about riding safely, and they would love to share it. If you’re on a club board or in any position of leadership and are not aggressively pushing education to your membership, you are failing everyone. And if you don’t think you can find someone who knows enough to teach, visit the CyclingSavvy website to get started.

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#sorrynotsorry

June 10, 2017 § 42 Comments

kayle_nonapologyssc_nonapology

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He seemed like a nice doper at the time

June 9, 2017 § 97 Comments

I wish I didn’t care about all the doping in SoCal masters racing, but I do. With regard to races that I actually enter, I can put it out of my mind thanks to the advice of a fellow leaky prostate masters profamateur, who wisely said this: “If you can’t race your bike without wondering who’s on drugs, this isn’t the sport for you.”

The team of Kayle LeoGrande, the guy whose doping shenanigans arguably opened the door for the fall of the House of Lance by going after immortal badass Suzanne Sonye, Kayle LeoGrande, the freakshop who “won” a national crit title from Steve Tilford in 2012 and later zoomed to a masters crit title amid shouts of “Boo!” and “Doper!”, announced yesterday that Kayle was leaving the team due to [insert surprisey-face emoticon] a USADA doping test result.

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Kayle got busted again? Hard to say for sure because shortly after their Facebag page blew up, the team deleted all the comments and even the team page. A quick check of USADA’s sanctions page shows no positive test results for the esteemed Mr. LeoGrande. Hopefully it was all just a mistake and he’s been reinstated with his national champion’s clothing, pro bike & wheels, and his customary cheering section.

But if it’s true, well, too bad, so sad.

When Kayle joined up with Team Surf City Cyclery there was a lot of outcry, but not from me, as the team voted to “give him a second chance” and added him to the roster. I thought then and still do that after you’ve served your time you should be allowed to race. That’s what the rules provide for, and masters doping isn’t first degree murder. Whether I’d want this unrepentant cheater on my team is another story. But if those guys on Team Surf City wanted to throw in their lot with a doper thug, that was on them. Now every single rider in that outfit gets to explain how they’re clean and it was only Kayle and no one had any idea and blah, blah, blah. As my grandpa used to say, if you lie down with pigs you’re going to smell like shit.

My problem is that I really do want to support bike racing and see it thrive, but at the same time I’m repulsed by the cheats. Whether it’s Thorfinn Sassquatch or Richard Meeker or now Kayle LeoGrande, these clowns make it such an uphill battle. Ironically, they don’t make it difficult for me; I’ve known about doping in the amateur ranks since I was offered my first syringe in 1986. But they make it so hard for me to recommend the sport, to encourage others to participate in it, and to back it financially.

And can anyone really be surprised that there is doping among — gasp — SoCal masters racers? After all, Kayle wasn’t simply busted for doping back in 2008. The arbitration panel’s careful legal language suggested that they found him to be a thoroughly unconvincing, pathetic liar. Check out these choice bits from the ruling in 2008:

  • He [Leogrande] misrepresented his use of an inhaler by initially calling it a puffer. When realizing the inconsistency with the doping control forms, he then went on to claim he had no idea of the contents of the inhaler, but trusted the doctor who had prescribed it.
  • Respondent [Leogrande] had numerous communications with Joe Papp during the one year period from July 2006 to July 2007. Respondent testified that Papp stored EPO at his home, thus it is very certain that he was in a position to have knowledge of EPO and the ability to obtain it. This close relationship with Papp, combined with the UPS note card, which does appear to be a receipt for E. (EPO) and G. (Human Growth Hormone) addressed to “Joe”, and which was signed by “Kayle”, which Leogrande denies was his signature, calls his credibility into question. For Respondent to disavow any knowledge of this card is unconvincing. The signature, in addition to being that of his unusual first name, looks to this Panel, to include the same script features as Respondent’s distinctive signature on the doping control forms.
  • Respondent’s [Leogrande’s] lack of denial or outrage when he spoke to Andreu, under either Respondent’s or Andreu’s version of the telephone call, is persuasive of his having used the Prohibited Substances (EPO, albuterol and testosterone) he was being punished for/accused of taking in that conversation.
  • Respondent [Leogrande] did not recall important events and conversations when it would have been very helpful for him to do so. Thus, he had no credible explanation for the conversations recalled clearly by Sonye and Andreu.

Whatever you pretend to be, don’t pretend to be surprised that a lying doper who was busted in 2008 might have returned to the sport and continued to lie and dope, and don’t be surprised as you read through the 2008 decision that the same ill thought processes might still be alive and well in the mind of this truly disturbed dude. This is a guy who lied, cheated, admitted to using banned drugs, and then had the nerve to sue for defamation the very person to whom he’d made the confession.

This isn’t some poor slob who was choking down tainted meat, or some up-and-coming kid who chose the needle over an unemployment line, it was a deliberate, calculating, corrupt liar whose first line of defense was to wreck the lives of those who dared tell the truth. On the bright side, it’s awesome to note in the arbitration decision against Kayle in 2008, that in Paragraph 65 it says that despite the fact that Suzanne Sonye had everything to lose by going against this doping doper who dopes, nevertheless she persisted.”

Hahahahahaha! Warren & Sonye in ’20!

And of course those who doubted that it was a new, improved, Kleen Kayle needed to look no farther than the famous Visalia punch-em-up, where Kayle exhibited violent behavior that looked less like a mature man and more like someone mentally overcooked on the fumes of ‘roid rage. With an apology and a bit of contrition his team let bygones be bygones. “Let Kayle be Kayle” they said, or some other such flibberflabber which everyone else interpreted as teamspeak for “STFU, dude wins races so IDGAF.”

But anyway, here’s what I know about watching Kayle race as a “reformed” ex-doper masters racer who was “given a second chance”: He was really good and one of the fastest in a crit but he wasn’t all that great. Because so many people dope now, there aren’t enough drugs in China for a saggy old fart like Kayle such that it will put him orders of magnitude above the drug-addled grandpa peloton. He won, but so did others. The Pollyannas pointed to that as evidence of a Kleen Kayle and a level playing field, but there’s a much worse explanation, which is that doping is now the norm because it has dripped down through the I.V. to the very lowest, contemptible, and delusional level of the sport: Middling masters racers.

How do I know? Because I’ve sat in a field as recently as this year and watched Kayle singe the nuthairs off of a 60-strong peloton, only to get brought back again and again and again. In the last race we did together I wound up off the front late in the race with him and it was like sitting behind a Ducati. “Just hold on,” he said as I bent over the bars trying to get small and looking like a giraffe on a barstool while he generated some impossible wattage, but not impossible enough that the peloton didn’t peg him back.

I slunk to the back, charred to the bone by my three-minute effort of sitting on, while Kayle took a breath, attacked again with two laps to go, and soloed for the win. Just another SoCal Sunday crit, dude.

And how doped was the peloton at Dana Point Grand Prix, where Kayle won his (hopefully) last race ever? According to one friend, it was the fastest race he’d done his entire life. To me this was just more evidence of what I’ve maintained for years: Doping in masters racing isn’t necessarily predominant at the top, but it’s absolutely predominant in the middle.

Nor is this bizarre level of speed and strength limited to the “young” masters racers. I’ve personally witnessed one old hack go from backass straggler to on-the-point hammerhead in a single season with no visible change at all to his physiognomy. I guess he just woke up in January and decided he would pedal harder than he had been for the last five years.

It’s the mid-level hacker with a zero percentage risk of getting caught who turns these mass-crit fields into NASCAR, because so many guys now are good for at least one 1200-watt effort, and where even if you’re doing drugs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s still not enough to reliably seal the deal as Meeker used to do almost every single time regardless of whether it was a hilly road race, a crit, a time trail, a sprunt … a whatever. USADA and USAC, far from having frightened masters racers into clean racing, have to reckon instead with the tidal wave reality that every year the dopers increase even as the number of racers evaporates.

And who’s quitting? The clean ones. There is a handful of also-rans on the SoCal masters circuit, guys who do everything right and who have all the right physiology, who can’t seem to close the deal on the big day because no matter how hard they train, you can’t out-train chemistry. And what about the ones who have no chance of winning and, more and more, who no longer have a faint chance of even finishing? Who remains under conditions like that? I’ll tell you who: The pathetic old meatbags like Dopey McDopester who are willing to pay good money to chase a tainted result, and the pack fodder frauds who lie to themselves that their testosterone and anti-aging supplements aren’t for bike racing but for their personal health needs.

Like Richard Meeker, this reprehensible SoCal crit cheat will go away and discover hiking, open a juice bar, devote more time to his family, find some part of his glory hole that hasn’t been inked, or *MAYBE* become a USAC-licensed coach for the seven juniors left in the state of California. Maybe he’ll even man up like Levi and start a famous grand fondue, or really serve the public like Jonathan Vaughters and start his own professional race team. But what he will not have left in his wake is destruction, ruined dreams, or shattered lives.

Because at this late stage in the autopsy if you still think it’s a clean sport with only the occasional random cheat, you’re almost as deluded as the cheaters.

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Longevity

June 8, 2017 § 16 Comments

I was out flogging this morning with Josh Dorfman, Mike Hines, and Kristie Fox, and in between smashes we got to talking about cycling longevity. The question was along the lines of “How do people keep racing not just for years but for decades? How do you keep from burning out?”

I had to think fast because we only had a couple of minutes’ rest in between Flog intervals, but here’s what I came up with. Your results probably vary.

  1. Every day you have to win the pillow battle. If you can get up at 5:00 AM every day no matter what, you will get enough control of your day to ride.
  2. Don’t chill, rest. Bike people are generally hard-nosed and competitive. You can’t change that and “chill” or become a “relaxed chick.” But if you don’t give it a rest every now and then you will burn out. How much rest? I don’t know.
  3. Variety. People who race for decades change stuff up. Kevin Phillips has raced road, crit, pursuit, Madison, team time trials … and he always seems to find something new.
  4. Look down as well as up. People who eventually get frustrated with racing are typically looking up too much, focusing on all the people who are better than they are. You have to also look down sometimes. If you got 22nd out of 45 riders, you beat half the field.
  5. Race clean. Dopers eventually quit, regardless of whether they get caught, because their results depend on the drugs, and taking drugs over decades is an almost impossible regimen to continue–cost, routine, fear of exposure, and side effects eventually take their toll.
  6. Accept the fact that you suck, but enjoy the battle. Hardly anyone is a consistent winner in cycling and most people never get on a podium, as in “never.” But where else in life can you compete so intensely, so all-in, no matter how old you are? Treasure the opportunity to pin on a number. It’s a privilege and a gift.
  7. Pass it on. No matter how much you suck, most people suck waaaaay more. Teach what little you know. Help people whoask for it. Gratitude is a tremendous motivator and esteem builder.
  8. Smash. Resist the temptation to only “ride for fun” or “ride for enjoyment.” There’s a crucial element to cycling that involves unvarnished misery and the taste of your own puke. Make sure that no matter how you ride, you always save time for the nausea cage.
  9. Quit buying stuff. Stuff isn’t the answer. Pedaling is.
  10. Race. You can’t be a racer unless you race yer fuggin’ bike. And racing will keep the delusions at bay like nothing else ever invented by man.

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Quick product updates

June 6, 2017 § 41 Comments

One of the great things about not being paid to sell stuff is that I can say whatever I want. This doesn’t mean I’m independent or objective, it means that I have no financial interest in any particular statement. I’m still biased as hell, of course.

Below are some product updates on things I have been using.

Wend Chain Wax: I don’t know how long I’ve been using this. Two and half years, maybe? My buddy Ryan Dahl, who works for Wend, gives me all the free chain wax I can use. All I know is that I will never go back to lube. My chain stays clean all the time, no matter how nasty the riding weather. And the drivetrain shifts flawlessly. I’ve found that in order to get the best results I have to apply the wax every 3-4 rides. No mess. Simple. Superglide.

wend_combo

Timex Helen Keller Model: Since I don’t use a Garmin and I quit carrying phone a while back so I don’t use Strava, this very cheap watch makes it pretty easy to know how long I’ve been riding. The big needle points to the minute and the small needle points to the hour and the skinny long needle points to the second. So, if the little needle is on the six and the big hand is on the five and the long skinny needle is on the ten it would be “6:25:50.” You still have to do some observational analytics to determine whether it is day or night, but with practice this isn’t as hard as it sounds. This device is great because when you lose it, drop it, forget it, or run over it like Matt did to Tony’s Garmin in the TTT, you only have to pay $39.95 to get another one, instead of $599.95.

helen_keller

Apace Vision Seat Stay Blinkers: Greg Seyranian turned me onto these. I think they cost six or seven bucks each. They are incredibly bright and run forever and add that all-important “Christmas tree” effect to your bike. The more I ride the more I’ve become an adept of “lights ward off cagers.” It’s a pain to charge them(the lights, not the cagers), but it’s a pain to wipe your fanny every time too, yet somehow you manage. I hope.

apace_vision

NiteRider Solas Rear Light: I clip this to my helmet, to the side actually, because it makes me look like an insane person who might veer into traffic at any moment and scratch your Tesla bumper, which will cost $5,000 to buff out the blood stains and bone shards. This blinky is effing bright AF. Again, lane position is important, bike skills are important, having the law on your side is important, but nothing is more important than being seen in broad daylight while some PV water buffalo is slurping his 650-kcal skinny drink and texting his fantasy football pals about The Big Game.

solas_150

Vittoria Open Corsa SR Race Tars: So far no flats, although after two weeks of training I switched the front and back so that the tars will wear evenly. These tars are scary supple and grippy and cornery. I don’t know how many weeks of use I’ll get out of them (about 175 miles per week), but my guess is about ten. Maybe more. This is one of those purchases you chalk up to “it’s cheaper than being an alcoholic” or whatever meme you use to convince your wife/husband/SO that this particular bike purchase really is worthwhile.

open_corsa

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Upgrade points plus DON’T GET KILLED!

June 5, 2017 § 18 Comments

SCNCA president Sean Wilson and CyclingSavvy guru Gary Cziko went to great lengths and expense over the last year to design a class for the SCNCA junior training camp, which was successfully run in January, 2017. They are now are offering a USAC-sanctioned traffic safety class this coming June 11.

One of the bonuses for this class, aside from helping keep you out of the meat wagon, is that, thanks to Sean and SCNCA board member David Huntsman, the class has been approved for USAC upgrade points. There are a lot of needs out there in the SCNCA catchment, but few opportunities to change things at the USAC level. The concept of using actual classes and education to keep junior riders from getting killed is a top priority and the SCNCA board has supported it wholeheartedly.

The class offers two upgrade points for 5-4 upgrades, 1 upgrade point for 4-3 upgrades and 1/2 a point for 3-2 upgrades. All of this for learning how to not get killed riding the edge of a narrow lane. Few efforts by the SCNCA are as deserving of praise and participation as this one.

Of course, many bike racers don’t yet see the value in CyclingSavvy-type instruction. What’s more astounding, actual “coaches” and “mentors” who are responsible for the lives of their charges somehow think that their “common sense” and “life experiences” and “racing with team Bumblefuck sponsored by Bill’s Sewage Treatment back in the 80s” is a legitimate substitute for skills, coursework, and understanding the law.

The location for the clinic is awesome: Redlands, a town with a rich history in SoCal cycling, and a place where riders don’t have to fight with the snarl of LA/OC/San Diego traffic. The cost is also incredibly low considering the benefit of the classes, the professionalism of the coursework, and the effectiveness of instruction: $50 for juniors and U23, $75 for elite and older riders.

If you’re involved with junior cycling in SoCal, if you ride a bike, or if you ever intend to ride one, this is a great time to give your riders and yourself the chance to survive and thrive on the bike for the rest of your life, not just while doing circles in a parking lot. And a “few short training sessions with CHP” will not — trust me– cut it.

The course will also include an on-road component so that participants get to practice what they’ve learned. As a longtime CyclingSavvy participant and class participant, I can assure you that this course can keep you alive. Participants will practice using parts of the Tour of Redlands, where cyclists learn to navigate some of the most intimidating spots in town safely and comfortably.

Now is the time to slow down, take a deep breath, and do some “non-race” learning that will help you ride better, race better, and most importantly, live longer. A lot longer.

Location: Bikecoach.com Fitness Studio, 700 Redlands Blvd., Suite M, Redlands CA 92373 More Information: http://www.gsandiamo.com
Contact: Sean Wilson; sean@gsandiamo.com

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Revelation of the Donut Tour

June 4, 2017 § 8 Comments

One of the cool things about fake bike racing on profamateur group rides is that you’ll be riding along minding your own business when some dude who you’ve kind of noticed before but never paid attention to is suddenly up at the front, driving it, in the mix. Then the ride goes on and said dude keeps turning the screws and suddenly the pre-ride favorites get real busy taking their excuses out of their jersey pockets, dusting them off, and doing show-and-tell about last week’s hard race, or how today was a rest day (at 450 watts for six minutes) and other fun stuff and nonesuch.

On the Donut yesterday I had the pleasure of watching a guy named Matthieu Broussard, who has always been pack fodder, take out a shiny new pair of steel-toed boots and stomp dicks. Unlike me and pretty much everyone else on the Donut Ride who cowers and hides on the way to the first climb up the Switchbacks, he was lining it out with the hitters who included Chris & Rex from Team Pacific Show Up and Kick Your Ass, and one or two others. Alex Barnes was there, Smasher, Kevin Phillips, beastly RJ Pearce, Bud Somethingorother, Dude in Allblackkit, Tasker, and some very deep ranks of B and C listers.

We were coasting down from the Domes after our second ascent, which had left the cremains of the peloton scattered to the four winds. “Dude,” I said to Matthieu, a Big Orange teammate who hasn’t yet learned our team’s trademark of chasing down people wearing the same jersey, “you are riding so well. It’s so impressive. Even with the French name.”

“Thanks!” he cheerily replied. “This so much fun!”

“Do you know Sam Boardman?” I asked.

“No, but I’ve seen him on Strava. He’s some pro dude, right?”

“He’s one of the top U-23 riders in the state.”

“That good, huh?”

“Better. A total assassin.”

“Man, I wish he’d come out to the Donut Ride sometime. Not that I could hang with him or anything, but it would be cool to see him come out and crush it.”

“Matt,” I said.

“Yeah?”

“You know that guy you’ve been riding with in our four-man break for the last twenty minutes?”

“Yeah?”

“That was him.”

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