October 26, 2012 § 22 Comments
I got up and had a banana. My mind was teeming with all the things that lay in wait the rest of the day. Then I had two cups of coffee. In each cup of coffee I poured some nonfat milk and a tiny, really tiny, dollop of heavy cream. I rolled out just after 6:00 AM, met up with Bull and rode to the Center of the Known Universe.
We rode the New Pier Ride, which was fast and hard and into the teeth of a howling Santa Ana crosswind. Afterwards I bought more coffee at Peet’s, cut it with some nonfat milk and another dollop of half-and-half, and sat on the bricks in the morning sunshine at CotKU. My mind was a jumble of thoughts and memories and stories and reactions and questions and plans and ideas.
Then I went to the office, showered, had an apple, and worked until eleven. So many problems and angry people and odd ins and outs and procedures and letters and emails and faxes and more angry people and worried people and just people. All of them crammed inside my head, my tiny head.
At eleven I went down to the Coffee Bean and Tea leaf with a new graduate who’s awaiting his bar results. We had coffee. I put half-and-half in mine, feeling like a lawbreaker. A brazen lawbreaker.
The rest of the day force fed my mind with all the things it had in store.
I went back to the office and ate lunch. Lunch consisted of a can of tuna packed in water dumped into a bowl. Atop the tuna I cracked a raw egg and mixed it with the tuna and some pepper. Then I ate it with two tortillas and a baby Fuji apple for dessert.
I worked until five. Then I had a cup of coffee and four peanut M&M’s. They are twelve calories each.
After a full day of work my head was heavy as a big, rough stone that someone had moved with a bulldozer. I left the office just past five-thirty. My head was so heavy and swollen I could barely cinch my helmet strap.
As I pedaled home the wind blew strong in my face, passing Joe’s house, thinking about him and the six-day bike odyssey upon which he and the other Man Tour riders have just embarked. I turned along Esplanade in Redondo Beach. The wind was now at my back, blowing hard. The sun was quickly dropping onto the horizon. The breakers had been whipped up into large, ragged swells by the wind. Despite the poor form, several surfers were out bobbing in the whitecaps, seeking a few seconds of size and intensity.
The straightest way home is up Via del Monte. Left turn.
But I turned right at Malaga Cove and dropped all the way down to the water. Then I did the steep climb up by the little bay and popped out onto PV Drive.
The sun was mostly in the water.
The straightest way home was now PV Drive all the way to Hawthorne. I turned right on Paseo del Mar, went right at the elementary school in Lunada Bay and took the sharp, short, hard little spike up the secret alleyway.
The sun was gone but the afterglow threw out plenty of sunlight as dusk began to settle.
The straightest way home was Hawthorne. I turned right at Calle Entradero and descended back to the water. People walked peacefully with their dogs. One lady in a billowing dress was taking a photo of a landscape that made her happy. I climbed the little wall back up to PV Drive.
Now I was at Hawthorne. The shortest way home was straight. It was vaguely dark, or rather deep dusk. I switched on my tail light and turned right, did a u-turn at the Starbucks, and headed the other direction on PV Drive back towards Lunada Bay.
The wind was in my face. A group of three bikers came whistling down Hawthorne and raced away, their red strobe tail lights taunting me to chase. The light turned green, but I didn’t chase.
I reached Via Zumaya and turned right, flicking on my headlight. I was now bathed in sweat. The thought occurred to me that my entire engine had run from morning to this point on a few hundred calories. I wasn’t really hungry, and my legs felt fresh.
It was now dark. The headlight cut a sharp beam, delineating the pavement. The moon was brilliant.
I glided up the climb, not going hard, but not giving in to gravity, either.
The moonbeams got stronger the higher I got, or maybe they made me higher.
At Coronel Plaza I turned right and merged with another rider. “Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” he said.
I climbed Ridgegate alone, the moonlight clearing everything from my mind except the rhythmic turning of the pedals.
There was nothing left in my mind, nothing at all, except this: “I wonder what’s for dinner?”
That, and a few moonbeams.
September 10, 2012 § 14 Comments
It’s not every day that you get to see Ryan O’Neal groggily collecting his morning newspaper on PCH well past noon, looking like he lost a knife fight to a gallon of cheap tequila and shouting “Whoa!” in surprise as the speeding South Bay wankoton barreled by within two feet of his chintzy velour bathrobe and plastic slippers.
But then again, it’s not every day that you get up at 5:00 AM, have your first cup of coffee, prepare for the 115-mile beatdown with a small bowl of oatmeal, and rendezvous with 38 other wankers at the Center of the Known Universe amidst gorgeous weather offset by the rich blue of the placid Pacific Ocean.
Rules is rules
There were really only a couple of rules, and they were badly needed as the group had swelled to over seventy by the time we reached PCH. Rule 1: Don’t pollute the stunning oceanside panorama of the coast highway with an ugly outfit. Rule 2: Don’t show up on the group ride with shitty tires.
The “Looks Like a Pro Transformation Prize” was instantly awarded to Arkansas Traveler, he of the baseball cap-under-a-helmet-with-bloody-ass-hanging-out-from-shredded-shorts-fame. ArkTrav had put away the gimmecap with the 7-inch bill and replaced it with a svelte and stylish and old school cycling cap.
Fashion point one, check.
Next, he had discarded the old saggsalot jersey with spare pockets ample enough for a backup radiator, and had jettisoned the Brad House “wear ’em ’til the bunghole shows through, then wear ’em some more” bib shorts.
Fashion point two, check.
Finally, he had kitted up in what I still maintain is the best looking, most elegant, and well fitting kit on the road anywhere: The SPY weekender kit, which is cleaner and more rad than the racing outfit. It’s no surprise that both are the creation of Joe Yule, who has done more to beautify the highways and byways of California than the entire roadside garbage pickup division of CalTrans.
Now, about that shitty tire rule
The first tire casualty of the day was Cary the Elder, who flatted near Pepperdine and would have been left for dead had the Pilot not stopped to help change the flat, but more importantly, to tow him back up to the group…38 miles later.
The second tire casualty of the day was “She’s just now got good and broke in,” otherwise known as Ol’ Wrinkles, the man famous for using equipment until it either becomes so obsolete that tools no longer exist to repair it, or until it disintegrates from overuse and age and falls from the frame in a powder of rust. Ol’ Wrinkle’s first flat came on account of a “slice in his tire.”
Close examination revealed that indeed the tire was sliced…as are most tires with over 25,000 miles of heavy road wear. Closer examination revealed that the slice was actually about fifty slices, all of varying length. Closer examination still revealed that of all the tire products available to the cycling consumer, he had opted to go with the Trojan Papershell, a tire advertised by its Indonesian manufacturer as “Smooth and Thin as Your Second Skin.”
“Damn, Wrinkles,” several people said as they watched him insert the wrong kind of tube. “What are you riding a premium crit tire for on a road like this?”
“They’re the best cornering tire made.”
“Yeah, but when’s the last time you went around a corner at anything over 5 mph?”
After successfully loading the tube, the group got together to chase the main pack for the next hundred yards or so, when the tire flatted and he replaced the wrong tube with another wrong tube. After cleaning out the grupetto of their last CO2 cartridge and last spare tube, Ol’ Wrinkles did a u-ey and headed home.
Pearls before swine
Elron is one of those dudes who knows more about bike fit than you do, and consequently he never gives advice. Pros like Matt Goss get fitted by him when they come into town, so unlike all the other advice sausages out there, he feels zero need to show off.
Once in every rare while, however, he sees something so wrong and so bad and so fucked up that he can’t help himself.
About thirty miles into the ride, he came up to me. “Dude. Your saddle’s too low.”
“Oh really? It does feel kinda low. But I like a flat stroke at the bottom.”
“You should raise it.”
“Start with about three inches.”
Since I never travel with a wrench, we waited until our first stop at the Rock, where Elron raised my seat. “Man,” I said, “that’s a lot.”
“You’ll get more power on the down stroke now that your knees aren’t under your chin.”
And he was right.
Put your junk into the wind
After Cross Creek, our group yo-yo’ed with the tentative uncertainty of various people on the front, none of whom understood the key point behind being on the front: If you’re comfortable, everyone behind you is expending zero energy because of the draft. This contributed to a horrible accordion effect that was also occurring because the leaders didn’t know how to pick a steady pace and maintain it.
It was more mayhem and crossed wheels and raggedy bunchedy herdball bike slop than you see when they let loose the 150 kiddies at a crit for the one-lap children’s event. To make matters worse, when we rolled through Trancas someone dived into the parking lot at the filling station, even though it wasn’t an approved stop.
Sheep being sheep, we all followed until Douggie yelled “What the fuck? This isn’t an approved stop!” So those of us who hadn’t hit the head or gone on a candybar marauding mission turned back onto PCH, effectively splitting the group and losing a handful of our most trusted leaders, which included Knoll and Pablo.
In order to steady the pace I wound up in front, this time with Junkyard at my side, plodding into a stiff 20 mph headwind. We reached the Rock in tatters, getting help from Bucks, Kramer, and Long Beach Freddy Wayne. Wayne, who was fresh as a daisy towards the end of my 20-mile headwind effort, chirpily asked, “Hey, Wankster, there’s gotta be a story behind those pink socks!”
“Ungh,” I grunted.
“Let’s hear it!” he said, chirpily.
“I’ll…tellya…another…………time,” I said.
We all dismounted at the Rock, with half the contingent dashing off to the chainlink fence to pee and the other half assaulting Legit Girl when they found out she was traveling with 25,000 calories of energy food. I crawled to her on my knees. “Got food?”
“Gosh, yes! What would you like?”
“What have you had so far?”
“But what have you been eating?”
“You can’t do a 120-mile ride on water! That’s unhealthy!”
I didn’t argue, but voraciously scarfed up the two little chocolate protein ball thingies that she flung my direction.
He who is always near but never quite at the front
By the time we got back to Marina del Rey, our group was down to about a dozen riders. At first I thought I was hallucinating when on the bike path Jensie, our German transplant, got on the front. A collective gasp went up, as one of the biggest shirkers in the wankoton not only hit the front but took fifteen or twenty pedal strokes.
“Oh my Dog!” shouted one rider.
“Quick! The camera!” shouted another.
“Call NBC News!” screamed a third.
Unfortunately, this was the one day I’d decided to ride without my GoPro, and before long Jensie had melted back into the anonymity of riding behind girls and elderly fellows with helmet mirrors. Inspired by this brazen display of on-the-frontery, a mere one mile from home, and after sitting in for a hundred miles, Eric of the South Bay Wheelpersons took a pull on Vista del Mar, ramping up the speed so that it kicked a couple of struggling, bonk-addled bikers out the back.
Once we reached the safety of the Center of the Known Universe, the survivors quaffed cold espresso drinks and reflected on another day in paradise. I’m sure it could have been better…maybe if it had been Tatum in that flimsy bathrobe instead of her dad?
August 24, 2012 § 9 Comments
If you’ve ever ridden much with Aaron Wimberley, and you don’t like him, you’re probably an asshole. On second thought, scratch “probably.” You are an asshole.
I’ve always admired him, and not just because he’s fast, and tough, and has great bike handling skills, and always fights fair. And not just because he’ll talk your ear off. And not just because he’ll talk trash and laugh good-naturedly when you talk it back.
Those things are all great qualities, but the thing I admire most is that he shares.
Dude, you really suck
A few weeks ago after a brisk beatdown on the NPR, he came up to me while we were sipping froo-froo coffees at the Center of the Known Universe.
“Dude,” he said with a laugh. “You know what I’m gonna start calling you when you attack?”
“Lightning?” I asked hopefully.
“Fuck, no. I’m gonna call you the Big Blue Bus ’cause you pull away so fucking slow that everybody, including that dude on the skateboard, has time to jump on your wheel.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling pretty tiny and cockroachish.
“Yeah,” he continued. “Just like the Big Blue Bus, dude, everybody’s parked happy in their seat and staring out the window while you flog yourself into a pile of meat and sweat, and then they all blast by in the sprint, dumping you quicker than a turd from Montezuma’s Revenge.”
“Well, I’m just slow.”
“Fuck no you’re not slow. You got power galore and you go fucking fast when you get up to speed. But like the bus, it takes you too long. All these wankers have time to climb aboard, read the paper and get a peddy. You need to work on your snap. Here’s how.”
He proceeded to give me some solid advice about how to become, if not Greased Lightning, at least a turbo bus.
There’s another guy who’s a regular on the NPR, Trevon Salazar. He’s young and incredibly quick, but he never manages to make his way to third or fourth wheel in time for the finish. He’s always choking on someone’s fumes.
Aaron took him aside, too, and although I wasn’t there, the conversation must have gone something like this.
“Dude, your sprint positioning sucks balls. And your top end looks like you bought it at Wal-Mart.”
“Oh…” [Feeling very, very tiny.]
“Yeah. Get your ass out on the Parkway one of these evenings with me and Derek and a couple of teammates and we’ll practice giving you leadouts. You gotta be on the right wheel and then when your competition kicks, you’ve gotta have the top end to pass. It ain’t fucking rocket science.”
Take notes. Do as told. Watch good results flow.
On this morning’s NPR I didn’t do a single Big Blue Bus curb attack. Instead, I waited and hit it hard, springing free so that even though I got reeled in, the chasers had to actually chase. Each time there were nice gobs of snot and spittle hanging from the mouths of the chasers, and when they caught, there was never any counter.
After the second effort Aaron grinned over at me. “Good job, Bus. That’s how to do it!”
In the finale I grabbed Aaron’s wheel and actually made it to third in the field sprunt, my best ever.
But the most impressive thing was watching Trevon after a week of working with Aaron. Today, even though I was locked on Aaron’s wheel, with 400 yards to go Trevon just took it from me. When the last leadout man pulled off, Aaron unleashed, and not only did his understudy hold the acceleration, but he came by him neatly and with a bike length or two to spare.
“Good job, dude,” Aaron said.
How many people do you know in bike racing who’ll train their competition, and then congratulate them on a job well done?
Not very many, I bet.
October 25, 2011 § 3 Comments
Feeling that way. Mantourists throughout the South Bay dropped off their bikes at the IF WHQ on Sunday and Monday, and picked up their incredibly awesome MT4 t-shirts, designed by StageOne and made by ActiveT. The logo is designed to represent a stiff man part, accompanied on either side by a pair of other man parts. I hope you don’t think I’m joking, because I’m not. It was an awesome sight to see all the MT4 bikes lined up at the WHQ, each one nattily attired with its own nickname sticker. There were only a couple of misspelled names, 42 names printed for 43 riders and 50 shirts for all 40 who ordered. Mantourists don’t do math or speling.
Record on the Rollers. Douggie’s record of 9:57 on the Rollers, per Strava, still stands despite my repeated attempts to break it. He set the record on the Donut Ride, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 and despite the best efforts of Roadchamp, Bull, Howard Hughes of the South Bay, Rodley, and me this past Saturday, the record is intact. We never even got within striking distance. This is the stretch that goes from the bottom of the Switchbacks to the church just before Hawthorne. Think it’s easy? Have a go! Not that this is keeping me up at night. Of course not. In fact, it hardly bothers me at all. Why, I could care less about breaking that fucking record. Strava is stupid, anyway.
Fool me twice. Day 1 of MT4 goes from San Jose to Santa Cruz. I emailed Dr. Jekyll, asking for a link to the exact route. He told me that the climb, Moody Road and Page Mill Road to Skyline, was only a couple km long. Remembering that he’s the one that took us on the 9,000 feet of death in that same vicinity last year, I checked on Strava. Here’s the dope, dopes: 8.4 miles, almost 2,000 feet, average gradient 4.8%. The record is 37 minutes by some 40-lb. mountain goat named Daniel Green who owns most of the harshest climbs in the area. It may not be as completely awful as 2010, but it looks pretty bad.
Marckxed man. I went by Brad House’s cyclocross race on Sunday at Lunada Bay to watch grown men play in the dirt and pay homage to MMX. Brad is to be commended for the efforts he puts into promoting these races. The work laying out the course looked harder than cleaning the Augean Stables with a toothbrush. The actual racing looked so hard, nasty, treacherous, and pain-laden that it made me glad I only have one bike. MMX won his category–kudos–and it appeared that most of the field and the spectators were sporting SPY. This last part is really important, because it shows that more and more people are willing to say “Hey, Oakley is made by the same people who make sissy Prada handbags and Chanel perfume, but SPY is designed in SoCal by SoCalians. Very cool.”
Angel in a centerfold. Those of you who are used to gagging on his rear wheel or suffering the ignominy of having him beat the crap out of you in the IF club time trial can relax for a minute as the Spivinator shows a different side: local camera ace. After getting thrown from his horse and dragged through the mud at the San Diego ‘cross races, he’s taken some time off ‘cross to re-grow his skin and focus his prodigious creative energies behind the camera lens. If you’re lucky to be his FB friend, you’ll enjoy his series from this weekend’s races. He’ll also be heading up to San Jose on Wednesday with the IF Blue Train to participate in the Occupy PCH! Movement, where dedicated 1-percenters fill up the entirety of America’s most famous road with their bicycle unprotest. Kudos!
Alberto’s worst nightmare. This Romanian CPA showed up at the Center of the Known Universe on Thursday after the world-famous Pier Ride, asked everyone how much their bikes cost, bragged about his $300 shit-spattered bicycle, hit on all the chicks, made us hold his smelly canvas jacket for him, then dumped it unceremoniously on our legs, snatched my iPhone and took a photo of everyone, modeled his lobster-man cycling jersey and matching gut, gave us his email, showed us his iPhone, explained to me that my name means “seven” in French (it doesn’t), then kicked back with a cigarette and blew smoke in our faces even after being told to leave. Some people are in control of any situation. This dude is in control of the universe.
It’s lost $73.45 in value thanks to that asshole. En route to the IF WHQ on Sunday, I stopped at Cheapo-tle for a grease ‘n chicken gutbomb. While in the lot, some asshole nailed my cherry ’02 Camry and totally thrashed its bleeding-edge rad trick rear end. The caddywhompus bumper now ruins the coolness aspect of America’s stylingest pimpmobile. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve cruised PCH in this chick magnet just to have some smokin’ hot broad pull up alongside and say, “I love navy blue and velour seats in a mid-sized economy sedan that gets 28 city/36 highway, cowboy!!” Plus, this baby only has 189,000 miles, three matching plastic wheelcovers, 20 or thirty rusty “style” spots on the hood, a gash in the left door (looks like you’ve BEEN there, you know), and some other character aspects. My buddy Stern-O once told me that if I was going to take a trick cherry like that out on the road, I was crazy. Looks like he was right. Again.
October 2, 2011 § 4 Comments
Ride Single File You Asshole Lawbreakers Dept: Rolling down PCH early Saturday morning you certainly expect the occasional hostile and ignorant motorist who is returning stoned from the Friday night bash that just ended, and upset that you’re taking up a few inches of the six wide open lanes. What you don’t expect (not so much, anyway), is the CHP patrol car going in the opposite direction who turns on his PA and screams, “Single File! Cyclists Must Ride Single File!” Uh, no, Gomer, we mustn’t.
Sometimes They Jump Left, So I Swerved Right Dept: A clever PV housewife avoided one of the dreaded “leaping trees” that jumped out in front of her on PV North this morning, forcing her to hit another tree that was camouflaged on the side of the road as, of all things, a tree. Sometimes you can’t win for losing, especially when you’re a loser. Who knew that sexting while drunk on the way to church could be such a pain?
But I Told the Guy in Front of Me Dept: Yes, but he’s a wanker and doesn’t know your name, which is why, when you flat on the big heroic ride to the Rock on Saturdays you need to shout, preferably at the top of your lungs, “Hey you motherfuckers, I flatted!” Someone will (maybe) wait for you, at a minimum the group will soft pedal, and you’ll avoid a 15-mile TT back to the peloton. Moral #2, don’t get too cozy at the back, thinking about how effortless it is. Bad things happen there, and it’s well known that Bike Karma for Lazyfucks does most of her damage to those who purposely dwell far from the front.
Wingman Dept: Manly, meaty pulls at the front by MJ, CL, and the uber-Wingman, Knoll. Even Cedric got into the action at the end of the ride, when it was needed most, after someone shouted, “Get the fuck up there next to Craig and take a pull, you sorry sonofabitch!” The uncouth shouter has yet to be I.D.’d but we’re working on it. To his credit, Cedric pulled like a champion all the way from the Marina back to the Center of the Known Universe. Kudos to CG and VV for a ride well done.
Objective Proof that You Suck Dept: A 12 year-old showed up on the Donut Ride and placed top 10 on the Switchbacks. Everyone present was either deeply impressed or incredibly humiliated, or both. He was about as tall as the seat on my 58 cm bike, weighed about 65 pounds, and laid the wood to what are now some badly bruised egos. Way to go, Peachfuzz! Send us a text when you reach puberty so that we can sell our bikes and take up golf.
Worst Endorsement of a Bike, Ever Dept: JW bragging at the Home Depot Center about how the new Venge was so good that he “dropped the field on the descent at the Pedro crit.” Note to JW: you hold the land speed record for descending in California, in excess of 55 mph on Tuna Canyon. When you drop people on the descent, it’s not because of the bike you’re riding, it’s because of the crap building up in the chamois of everyone trying to follow your wheel.
Smartest Bike Marketing Idea Since the Yellow Jersey Dept: The Home Depot Center sold beer at elite nationals. I hope I don’t have to explain this one.
Gave It All We Had Dept: Davy Dawg, Hockey Stick, Fuck Dude, Old Fuck, Lets Fuck, and CB all acquitted the South Bay with honor at elite track nationals. Kudos to you for having the guts and the legs to throw down with the best in the country.
Pedaling for a Cause Dept: G$ and a host of other South Bay worthies joined the MS 150 ride this weekend to raise money for them to go out and fuck around all weekend on their bikes, er, I mean, to help raise money for a worthy cause. MS is a devastating illness that afflicts about 300,000 people in the US alone. Click here to donate. The efforts of our local cyclists have raised tens of thousands–thanks, all!
That Big Black Thing You’re Behind is an 8-Ball Dept: Several zillion miles have been racked up in anticipation of MT4, with certain unnamed individuals now customizing their base miles with sharp, intensive hillwork in and about the PV Peninsula. If you’re just now getting around to thinking about swearing off the Saturday morning beer, there’s still time to join us for our weekly roll out to the Rock. Downside is you’ll have to get up and be on your bike at a time usually known to you as R.E.M. Upside is that when MT4 begins, rather than dying a thousand horrific deaths you’ll only die, say 973 or so.