A little restraint

April 18, 2016 § 21 Comments

When someone gets hurt from a bike fall or from a collision, it’s natural to want to know how they’re doing. However, well-meaning inquiries can impose a huge burden on the family members who may not have any information to share, especially when the extent of injuries is unknown. It’s incredibly stressful to be asked over and over about your loved one’s condition when the doctors haven’t even debriefed you on status, or when your loved one is battling for his life.

Moreover, family members may not want to share, especially with people who they may not even know. A terribly injured loved one is a huge psychological trauma. The last thing the family needs to also deal with are “How’s Bill doing?” text inquiries.

If you really care about the injured person and the family, consider the following.

  1. How close are you to the injured person? Super, super, super close? No? Then stand down.
  2. How close are you to the injured person’s family? Never met them? Then stand down.
  3. Do you have anything to offer besides prayers and “thinking of you” type support? No? Then stand down.
  4. Do you know they have a specific unmet need, and that you’re the person to fill it? Then consider reaching out, but not directly to the family.
  5. Have you been asked to do something by the family? No? Then stand down.
  6. Don’t post information on Facebook unless the family has asked you to.
  7. A lot of the time the family will have a very close friend who is with them at the hospital. If you know that person, contact him or her regarding hospital visits or other questions you may have, and spare the family the task of responding to countless questions.
  8. Remember that in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic incident, the hospital and the closest family members/friends are usually taking care of the necessities. The tough part is after discharge, when your friend begins what is often a long and painful path to recovery. This is when visits, phone calls, your friendship and help can greatly ameliorate the brutal and plodding work of returning to normal.

These guidelines aren’t perfect, and there are always exceptions. But it will never ever hurt to really ask yourself twice, and then a third time, before you hit “send.”


Cycling book review: “Ulysses” by James Joyce

April 17, 2016 § 18 Comments

Although regarded by discriminating readers as the greatest novel of all time, and regarded by less discriminating readers as gibberish, “Ulysses” by James Joyce is unquestionably one of the greatest books in any language about cycling, better even than “Positively False” by Floyd Landis.

After recently completing this mammoth read from Mammon at the pace of 25 pages per day (est. 2.6 minutes per page), I realized that far from being a modern allegory about Odysseus, “Ulysses” is in fact a book about bicycling.

In the spirit of the freshman English class that I failed, what follows are my textual references to support my novel thesis about this most novel novel. After 782 pages of careful analysis I discovered that Joyce writes movingly and with passion, depth, and understanding about bicycling exactly thirteen times. Here they are.

  1. “They passed from behind Mr Bloom along the curbstone. Beard and bicycle. Young woman.”
  2. “His eyes followed the high figure in homespun, beard and bicycle, a listening woman at his side.”
  3. “Gerty MacDowell loves the boy that has the bicycle.”
  4. “As per usual somebody’s nose was out of joint about the boy that had the bicycle off the London bridge road always riding up and down in front of her window.”
  5. “W. E. Wylie who was racing in the bicycle races in Trinity college university.”
  6. “But he was undeniably handsome with an exquisite nose and he was what he looked, every inch a gentleman, the shape of his head too at the back without his cap on that she would know anywhere something off the common and the way he turned the bicycle at the lamp with his hands off the bars and also the nice perfume of those good cigarettes and besides they were both of a size too he and she and that was why Edy Boardman thought she was so frightfully clever because he didn’t go and ride up and down in front of her bit of a garden.”
  7. “His right hand holds a bicycle pump.”
  8. “He smites with his bicycle pump the crayfish in his left hand.”
  9. “Love on hackney jaunt Blazes blind coddoubled bicyclers Dilly with snowcake no fancy clothes.”
  10. “He had sometimes propelled her on warm summer evenings, an infirm widow of independent, if limited, means, in her convalescent bathchair with slow revolutions of its wheels as far as the corner of the North Circular road opposite Mr Gavin Low’s place of business where she had remained for a certain time scanning through his onelensed binocular fieldglasses unrecognisable citizens on tramcars, roadster bicycles equipped with inflated pneumatic tyres, hackney carriages, tandems, private and hired landaus, dogcarts, ponytraps and brakes passing from the city to the Phoenix Park and vice versa.”
  11. “of course hes mad on the subject of drawers thats plain to be seen always skeezing at those brazenfaced things on the bicycles with their skirts blowing up to their navels even when Milly and I were out with him at the open air fete”
  12. “pretending to read out the Hebrew on them I wanted to fire his pistol he said he hadnt one he didnt know what to make of me with his peak cap on that he always wore crooked as often as I settled it straight H M S Calypso swinging my hat that old Bishop that spoke off the altar his long preach about womans higher functions about girls now riding the bicycle and wearing peak caps and the new woman bloomers God send him sense and me more money”
  13. “can Milly come out please shes in great demand to pick what they can out of her round in Nelson street riding Harry Devans bicycle at night”




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Rare bird

April 15, 2016 § 27 Comments

After many a ride Filds and I would recap the myriad stupidities of the day, and he’d always conclude, “Yeah, common sense. It just ain’t that common.”

As much as it pains me to say nice things about my friends, Gary Cziko and Pete van Nuys put on a seminar last night for our club, Big Orange. They are instructors for Cycling Savvy, a bike educational program for dorks.

In this case, however, the dorks aren’t the usual objects of contempt. They aren’t the people with panniers, recumbents, floppy dickhider shorts, helmet mirrors, sandals, and fourteen daytime lights. The dorks targeted by Cycling Savvy include everyone who doesn’t understand proper lane positioning. This means you.

Most of what Cycling Savvy refers politely to as “the lycra crowd” and I impolitely refer to as “delusional underwear pedalers,” considers itself expert at cycling safety. The reasoning goes like this:

  1. I wear my underwear on my bike and pedal fast.
  2. I enter one crit a year to get free crap from my team so I can call myself a bike racer.
  3. I have twelve top-10’s on the Strava leaderboard for 45+ men over 250 lbs.
  4. My bike is expensive.
  5. I ride in big groups.
  6. I’ve never been killed.

Of course if you ride with the lycra crowd long enough you realize that in addition to being delusional, many of them are wholly incompetent at bicycle riding, even many riders who climb well, sprunt well, and time trail well. What’s worse than their incompetence is that their insistence on bad positioning is built on an amazing resistance to criticism, let alone change.

After all, they’re wearing their underwear and have never been killed plus they got 10 kudos yesterday so they know what they’re doing, right?

Cycling Savvy’s curriculum politely but firmly begins with the premise that no, just because you ride a bicycle you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing. In fact, given the ignorance of law enforcement, the prejudice of cagers, and the lack of formalized cycling instruction, the chance that you know what you’re doing is quite small, because all savvy cycling begins with lane positioning, and a casual glance at any cyclist on any road reveals that most cyclists hug the gutter or the door zone.

It was fascinating to watch the Big Orange board get educated, a board that is comprised of people who have 12 zillion miles under their belt, who are already pretty expert at lane positioning, and who have extraordinary experience navigating large groups of idiots through the congested streets of L.A. It reinforced how badly we of the Underwear Tribe are in desperate need of education.

Unfortunately, the course is three hours long, which means your ass will be bleeding by the time it wraps up, and that doesn’t include the parking lot and on-the-road components of the class. The curriculum also contains too much information for the typical bonehead who has been roped into the session hoping to get a tip or two about how not to get killed.

Yet Cziko and van Nuys did a phenomenal job of introducing us to the law, the science, the logic, and the practice of controlling the fuggin’ lane, in addition to re-emphasizing the fact that if you put twelve boxes of Cheez-its in front of five cyclists they will devour everything down to the crumbs even when they’re no longer hungry.

I just wish they’d call the course “Control the Fuggin’ Lane, Dumbass!” and I wish more people would get educated. The rear-and-fore-facing videos showing how traffic responds to proper lane control are viscerally demonstrative of Cycling Savvy’s other premise: The life you save will be YOURS. Learning all this from people who themselves have been cycling longer than most of us have been alive, and who are professional, educated, and smart, was an added bonus.

Ultimately, if you think you know how to ride on the road, the chances are good you don’t. Because common sense just ain’t that common.



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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 17: Fixin’ what ails ya

April 14, 2016 § 24 Comments

I was talking to a buddy the other day. “How are you?” I asked.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t ride fast anymore and I’m always tired in the morning and I wear out quick. Plus after a long, hard ride I don’t recover and feel like an old shoe.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“A while now. The doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with me.”

So I told him what was wrong with him. “You’re just old,” I said.

“No, I’m not,” he protested.

“You sure are,” I insisted. “You are a ball bearing with all the round wore out.”

Then it occurred to me that there are lots of people like him who are pooped all the time especially after 120-mile rides, and they haven’t gotten the memo that they’re too damned old to be sitting on a bike for that long. So I came up with some helpful hints to help you get more out of your riding life.

  1. Don’t ride your fucking bicycle so fucking much. You are an old, worn out shoe, I don’t care how fat and cardiac-arrested everyone else was at your 40th high school reunion. The less you ride the better you will feel.
  2. Slow the fuck down. What’s the dogdamned rush? Where do you think you’re going anyway, besides the grave, and what’s the big rush to get THERE? When you go fast you pedal hard which stresses your systems, which are old and broke down. Give it a rest.
  3. Shoot your gym membership card. Gyms are for young people who can still get laid without paying for it. There is a simple rule for old person exhaustion: The more muscles you use (and you use ’em all at the gym), the tireder you will be. Plus, you look like an old fool trying to balance on that big bouncy ball, and you’re gonna look like a bigger fool telling the doc that you broke your face in half falling off of it onto the kettle bells.
  4. Unless you’re dating her (or him), quit the danged pilates class. Pilates and yoga only make you relaxed and warm inside when your insides are something other than cold, shrunken, icicles of rusted cynicism and despair. This means you.
  5. If you do any activity that rates you based on your age, stop it right now. The only reason Strava, etc. is age-graded is so that you can continue the delusion that you’re not a rickety rackety pile of hollowed out bones that will turn to talcum powder the minute you fall out of your walker. If you’re going to compete, compete with the P/1/2. You will lose so quickly and by such deafening margins that you will immediately see the virtue in birdwatching.
  6. Get some sleep. Remember how your mom used to tell you that you were a growing teen and you needed sleep? Well, she was just lying in hopes you’d not be out prowling the town late at night smoking dope and racing cars. But now you really do need sleep, so instead of prowling the Internet and reading blogs at night, switch all that shit off and go the fuck to bed. This means you, Sherri.
  7. Lay off the booze. You are tired in the morning because you are a drunk. Drunkening is the hardest workout you will ever do, and believe me, it shows. The last time I saw cheeks that puffy was on Mr. Stay-Puft. Lock up the liquor at least for a couple of weeks and you will have ten times more energy and enough money to buy a new tube instead of patching the same one for the fifteenth time.
  8. Spend a morning around some little kids. It will give you more energy than a case of Red Bull, after which you will be wrecked and sound asleep by 11:00 AM, which takes you back to #6 above.
  9. Cancel your new bike layaway plan. You’re already in debt and debt makes you tired, saps your energy, and drains your sex glands. Once you’re no longer saddled with a monthly paycheck deduction and 25% interest compounded hourly, you will sleep better, too.
  10. Quit doping. Doping makes you ride faster, which makes you more tired. Plus, doping makes you a lame-ass cheatbag. Aren’t you too old to still be cheating? No? Then you shouldn’t be cheating at something where, when you get busted, you get suspended from parking-lot crits. You should be cheating at something that will get you a life sentence, or maybe the electric chair. Go big or go pan y agua, baby. 



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Stupid sport for stupid dumbheads

April 13, 2016 § 21 Comments

Now that I have quit bike racing except for last weekend and next Sunday I realize what a stupid sport for stupid dumbheads it is. Can you imagine? Old people putting on underwear and racing around in circles or over tall mountains so they can pat themselves on the back and further the delusion that they’re not teetering on the edge of the abyss?

Dog, what a stupid sport. Now that I have quit it completely I don’t miss it at all. What was I thinking? How many years did I waste? All that time I could have spent with my family or in prison, spilt, Onan-like, on the asphalt, never to be put in a productive furrow.

It’s so embarrassing.

Today was Telo, the local Tuesday nighter and a really stupid training crit. Extra stupid, in fact because it is hard and windy and windy and hard. What maroon would voluntarily go down there and flog himself for an hour for NOTHING? Stupid dumbheads, that’s who.

I knocked off work at 4:00 and hadn’t done any exercise so I figured I would go down to Telo to check it out as a new, sober ex- racer. It just so happens that I have a completely idiotic skinsuit that’s practically brand new so I went ahead and put it on because otherwise, what a waste.

Also, my race wheels have perfectly fine tubulars in perfect condition and I thought I might as well give them a ride even though I’d only be pedaling for a lap or two at a snail’s pace while laughing at all the stupid idiot dumbheads racing like crazy shooting through parked trucks and oncoming traffic like dumbheads.

Also, I took off my extra bottle cage because who needs that? And there were some other things, unneeded, which I also removed, and there was my stupid, overpriced, aero helmet but why not wear that? And the stupid dumbhead shoe covers. I mean, I own ’em, might as well use ’em.

The race started and I pitied the poor fools, stupid dumbheads every one, acting like any of it mattered. I was going to pedal for two laps but since I was already there and it was super slow I kept rolling around, watching them attack and ride like fools, fools. After about fifteen minutes Destroyer put in a hard effort and it was SOOOOOO stupid I was watching him and shaking my head but what the heck? So I pedaled up behind him, but it was only going to be for a lap until we got caught by the other stupid dumbheads, then I’d quit and have a good laugh at their expense.

The two of us rode around a few laps and I looked back and no one was in sight so I figured “What the heck? It can’t hurt to do another lap or two until we get caught plus we’ll pass that wanker Brad House a dozen times and it’s always fun to watch him with smoke coming out of his ass as he flails around pretending he’s here for some reason other than to make a buck at his annual bike race with its $200 prize lists and dirty jockstrap primes.”

The stupid dumbheads didn’t catch us because they were going so slow, so I pedaled some more. Pretty soon it had gotten really stupid, so just before I quit I figured I’d do another lap but then it was five to go, and who quits with five to go? So I chuckled at how stupid it all was, dog knows it made no difference to me who won, and I pedaled a bit more and soon it was two laps to go.

Now I didn’t want to win at all, it didn’t mean anything to me. I’ve given up on bike racing it’s STUPID. Still, I felt sorry for Destroyer who obviously was desperate to win so I rode a little bit more until one lap to go. Well, with one to go you have to go to the end, even when you don’t care, right?

I didn’t go that hard but it was hard enough to feel moderate sensations of discomfort, and that’s exactly when we got caught by the pack and passed quicker than a plate loaded with casserole surprise. Of course it made no difference to me, I couldn’t have cared less just because I got next-to-last because I had planned on quitting anyway.

So glad I’m done with it except for this coming Sunday and I think there may be a couple more on the calendar that I’m doing out of a sense of obligation, that’s all.



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Call of the somewhat wild

April 12, 2016 § 24 Comments

I have been spending more time birdwatching lately. You know, getting back to my roots because I am too damned old and tired all the time to be racing every weekend. Except last weekend, and next weekend. And there are some other races coming up, too, later on.

But anyway, I love being surrounded by nature because it is very peaceful. When riding I often scream like a lunatic, curse at complete strangers, and behave like a raging steroid pumped up on bicycles.

A couple of weeks ago I went out early to Madrona Marsh, in Torrance. It is 48 acres surrounded by chain-link fence set behind the largest shopping mall in America, the Del Amo Fashion Center, where people go to purchase things that by virtue of being in a giant mall cannot possibly be fashionable. The marsh is a tiny postage stamp, all that remains of the thousands of acres of wetlands that once provided incredible habitat for wildlife in the South Bay.

After a few minutes I had drifted off into the other world of misidentifying birds and scratching my head over impossibilities. Rufous or Allen’s? Western or Cassin’s? What’s making that funny chirp?

It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when you’re looking at critters, exactly the opposite of how slowly time goes by when you’re on the fucking rivet going up the Switchbacks and some young punk is plucking the skin off your balls with a ball-peen hammer.

Anyway, it was really quiet except for the bird racket. Then across the slough I saw this dude dressed up like he was heading out on an expedition up the Congo. No joke, he was wearing full green camo, heavy utility vest, giant floppy adventurer camo hat, hip waders, and was carrying a giant pole that he stuck down in front as he walked as if he were navigating a giant crevasse field at Base Camp 12 of Chomulungma.

Keep in mind that the slough that feeds the pond is about ten feet wide and the water is about a foot deep, with lots of tall grass along the edge which is perfect dragonfly habitat; the bugs crawl up out of the water and onto the grass to shed their skin and spread their wings.

So I watched Dora the Explorer walk off the path and into the slough. I was about a hundred feet away. “Hey!” I yelled. He looked up quizzically, his massive waders crushing entire sections of fragile grass. “Yeah, you, you dumb bastard!” I shouted.

“Me?” he asked.

I walked over to the edge of the path. “What the fuck are you doing out there in the slough?”

“I’m, uh, researching,” he said.

I looked at his Amazonian explorer get-up and noted that he had a cheapo pair of $50 non-carbon field glasses dangling from his neck, binoculars that you couldn’t have examined your own navel with, much less a bird or a butterfly. “Like fuck you are,” I said. “Get your sorry fucking ass out of the slough, for fuck’s sake.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Why? You’re CRUSHING THE FUCKING DRAGONFLY HABITAT, you stupid sonofabitch. Does the slough look like a fucking walkway?”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said, backtracking.

“You’re damned straight I’m right. Stay on the fucking path. If every jackanape in a clown suit who came here tromped through the fucking slough with those rubber snowshoes the whole damned place would be mashed flatter than a fucking pancake!”

Dora walked off, rather briskly.

I sank back into my quiet reverie, happy to have finally found such a peaceful activity devoid of all conflict and anger.



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Easiest sixth place ever

April 11, 2016 § 14 Comments

  1. Put on tubular race wheels which are made of much carbon.
  2. Request Mrs. WM to drop me off at the Hun’s.
  3. Check weather.
  4. Note rain with extra rain and some more rain.
  5. Remind self: heavy SoCal rain is a light sweat.
  6. Develop killer race strategy to propel Team Lizard Collectors to glorious victory after glorious victory in road race at San Dimas that involved much chasing of teammates.
  7. Arrive at race and lie to teammates. “Tired legs. Dead, very.”
  8. Note presence of Bad Bart. Borrow chain lube from him.
  9. Huddle with and lie vociferously. “I will cover everything and block for you.”
  10. Build undisclosed plan to hide, cower, chase teammates when in promising breaks and encourage organized chases from other teams when teammates appear to be getting away.
  11. Fill bottle with new energy fluid never tested before.
  12. Wait ten minutes.
  13. Feel uncomfortable bowel fullness.
  14. Curse the micro-thin potty tissue where your finger pokes through. Yeccch.
  15. Hurry to line and start racing.
  16. Chase teammates vigorously.
  17. Rest.
  18. Get cursed at by other riders. “You dumb fuck, you’re chasing your own teammates!”
  19. Advise cursers to imagine that every Lizard Collector rider is wearing a different colored jersey.
  20. Endure additional oaths.
  21. Advise cursers to study difference between “team” and “club.”
  22. Chase some more.
  23. Rest.
  24. Rest.
  25. Rest.
  26. Rest.
  27. Watch winning break go with two teammates.
  28. Chase furiously, dragging field behind.
  29. Rest.
  30. Assist other teams with chase.
  31. Rest.
  32. Rest.
  33. When field sits up, scamper away with plan to solo up to break or better yet take other non-team Lizard Collectors riders along.
  34. Establish four-man chase.
  35. Let non-TLC riders in chase group chase their brains out.
  36. Endure curses for refusing to pull.
  37. Watch in amazement as “sprinter” Bad Bart pulls his brains out for three laps.
  38. Plot to drop Bad Bart in last minute attack because he is so fucking fast in a sprint.
  39. Execute last minute attack.
  40. Chase down the Hun who has been dropped out of the break.
  41. Furiously chase other teammate with one lap to go.
  42. Note that Bad Bart is still there.
  43. Drop teammate who had worked valiantly.
  44. Start sprunt too late. Proper timing to beat Bart would have been to begin sprunt last Thursday.
  45. Watch Bad Bart scamper away from me like a Scientologist avoiding the IRS.
  46. End race.
  47. Receive glorious sixth place medal and dowsing rod.
  48. Drive back with the Hun.
  49. Tell him how hard I worked to block.
  50. Answer “Nothing” when the Hun asks what I’m doing that afternoon.
  51. Answer “Nope” when the Hun asks if I mind if we stop for a minute so he can pick up some groceries.
  52. Wait in the car for an hour and a half.
  53. Observe crazy lady in the parking lot of the Gonzales Ranchero Mercado tip over her shopping cart, prize the anti-theft wheel locks off with a giant screwdriver, and gaily push it off the lot.
  54. Get home.
  55. Go to bed.



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