October 23, 2016 § 12 Comments

The Fourth Annual South Bay Cycling Awards wrapped up with hardly any controversy! There are too many people to list for their wonderful contributions. No, wait, that’s not true. This is the Internet and there is absolutely no limit. So here goes!

First off is Diego Binatena, from Base Cartel. Why Diego? Because I fucking forgot to thank him last night, out of all the people who deserved mention. Bottom line? Buy his shit. It’s awesome and he’s a good dude.

This year the event hit the medium-time thanks to the Southern California and Nevada Cycling Association. They kicked in a ton of money and funded the toilets, the lights, the sound, the stage, free food, chairs, tables, pro photography services, and half the beer. In short, they made the event! My only question is this: Where were all the SCNCA award recipients? Jeez! What is it about “free food, free beer, and cash prizes” that you bike racers don’t understand?

The plus side was that there were plenty of SCNCA recipients to come collect their trophies and cash, and no group better represented the spirit of the night than the crew from SC Velo. What  fantastic bunch of kids. I think they may have even learned new cuss word or two. I always take pride in mentoring the youth.

Anyway, on to the thanks!

Jan Luke, SCNCA President. Made shit happen. Made this partnership happen. Lugged in the trophies. Lugged out the trophies. Was awesome in every way!

Chris Black, SCNCA Vice President.

David Huntsman, SCNCA Secretary. Lawyer, advocate, friend, guy who has done so much to breathe new life into SCNCA.

Armin Rahm, SCNCA Board Member. Racer, dad, promoter, businessman, friend. Showed up to show the Amis how a Bavarian drinks beer.

Justin Williams, SCNCA Board Member. Racer, cool guy, friend. Ready with a quip and encouragement, hell of a bike racer.

Suzanne Sonye, SCNCA Board Member. Legend, legend, legend. Oh, and legend.

Matt Wikstrom, SCNCA Board Member. Mr. Git R Done. Handed out checks, coordinated everything for two months before the shit show, brought more goodwill, enthusiasm, and execution to the event than anyone ever. Plus kicked the shit out of everyone on the Donut. Except those two pesky juniors.

Sean Wilson, SCNCA Board Member.

Omar Lozano, SCNCA Board Member. Promoter, dad, husband, and part of the “new face” of bike racing promotion in SoCal. Enthusiastic hard working dude who supports juniors, local, and binational racing.

Dan MunsonSimply the best. Pro photographer. Even as I write this he’s putting together a folio of the amazing evening. Prepare to be blown away.

StageOne: Designed everything. Logo, t-shirts, patches, bar tape, banners, posters, and virtually every kit worth looking at in the South Bay.

South Bay Wheelmen: Local bike club that kicked in hard cash to buy flowers for the lovely deserving recipients.

Wend Wax: Chain wax. Look. This shit works. So go get some. Ryan Dahl generously donated 20 sets of Wend Wax, a billion dollar retail value, for the award winners’ swag kits. So frigging cool.

JoJe Bars: Energy bars. John Abate and Jessica Cera’s amazing energy bars that are organic, wholesome, taste great, and give you an amazing kick in the shorts when you need a boost on the bike or off.

Beachbody PerformanceEverything you need to win, to finish, or to prop your legs up on the couch and watch the Cubs win instead of riding your bike. Beachbody has been the number one step up and deliver new sponsor for cycling in 2016.

BonkBreaker: Provided awesome swag bags to award winners containing energy snacks, energy chews, and super cool musette bags. Thank you!

Marc Spivey: Wanky Committee member who filled the venue with the right sound at the exact right time. Marc’s lifetime in the music and entertainment industry, and his passion for music has meant that every single year we’ve had sound that matches or exceeds the most famous award ceremonies anywhere.

Derek Brauch: With the help of Jami, put together the most awesome Wanky Swag Bags™ ever. Provided us with meeting space for our numerous and redundant meetings, the best analytical mind around to improve, question, improve, question, and improve until we were even better than the year before.

Trey Smith: The ghost in the machine. Every year Trey provides us with incredible sound that makes the whole thing happen.

Keedar Whittle: Fantastic comedian who kept people in stitches, hit the great stuff, didn’t shy away from politics, race, and biking, and left us all happy and glad he came.

Michelle Landes: Arranged flowers, total selflessness, and was there with a smile, encouragement, and assistance every step of the way.

Chris Gregory: Truly the Spirt of the Wankies. Whether it was ordering the Hall of Fame figurines, designing and making, the necklaces, choosing and assembling the invitations, recording and double-checking RSVPs, taking photos at the event, making elegant podium presentations, keeping things running smoothly, and always helping me just when the confusion was at its max, “thank you” doesn’t even begin to do it.

Lisa Conrad, Sherri Foxworthy, Stephanie Lin, Chris Gregroy: These four amazing women have been with the event since its inception, if “inception” is what you call a bunch of drunks in a dive bar trying to give away awards to passers-by. From the minute we said “Wankies” they donned their evening finest and showed up with shimmering with beauty, poised, happy, funny, gentle, and they’ve been here every year since. Truly, no matter how rough and sort-of-ready the biker gang crowd is, they give us all the class you can’t get all sweated up on a bike.

Jami Brauch: Jami artfully designed and stocked the swag bags despite having a newborn to care for–the bags were so great this year that people simply couldn’t resist stealing them. Can’t wait for next year!

Kristie Fox: She helped with the swag bags, she set up and managed the sales table (books, socks, bar tape, patches, t-shirts), and she singlehandedly ordered and delivered the most massive and awesome cake in the history of the awards. And cupcakes! And done with a smile and ruthless efficiency.

Strand Brewing Co.: No mere words can thank Joel Elliott and Rich Marcello for this amazing venue, for their support of grass roots cycling, and for providing the infrastructure and support to pull of this best-ever event. Oh, minor detail! FREE take-home growlers of White Sands DIPA, their top-shelf, brew, to every adult who showed up.

Tony Manzella and Echelon ColorPrinted and delivered the amazing award ceremony posters. Ansel Adams said it: “The negative is the score, but the print is the performance.” And what a performance by Echelon Color it was!

Tara Unversagt: Tara worked to get SBW sponsorship involved, helped with swag bag materials, and did the ultimate job of Cub Scout Den Mother by keeping me organized and on track throughout the event. So much fantasticness in one person!

Phil Gaimon: Best UCI US pro road racer, attended our event, made us look semi-sort of legit, and promoted what is the best Grand Fondue on the calendar: Phil’s Malibu Cookie Dough Gran Fondo. Register here, register now. Phil drove straight from Clovis, NM, to make the event. How awesome is that? Very awesome!

Daniel Holloway: As if Phil Gaimon weren’t enough, reigning US road/crit champ Daniel Holloway brought the star power and picked up right where he left off. Being a part of the South Bay community. Thank you so much for sharing.

The 2016 South Bay Cycling Awards award winners were:

  1. 2016 Greatest Advocate:  Sarah Barraclough for BMUFL/Master Safety Plan advocates
  2. 2016 Best Bike Shop:  Performance Bicycle
  3. 2016Best Young Rider:  Ivy Koester
  4. 2016 Best Old Rider: George Pommel
  5. 2016 Most Improved: David Holland
  6. 2016 Best Club: Long Beach Freddies
  7. 2016 Best Event: Dana Point Grand Prix
  8. 2016 Wanker of the Year: Denis Faye
  9. 2016 Belgian Award: James Cowan
  10. 2016 Group Ride Champion: Elijah Shabazz
  11. 2016 Best Sponsor: Beachbody Performance
  12. 2016 Best Male Racer: Justin Williams
  13. 2016 Best Female Racer: Katie Donovan
  14. 2016 GC Award: Joe Yule
  15. 2016 Crashtacular Fred: Marvin Campbell
  16. 2016 Strava KOM: Chris Tregillis
  17. 2016 Most Happy to Help others: Chris Gregory
  18. 2016 Most Fun: Sochin Lee
  19. 2016 Best Spouse/SO: Jeanette Seyranian
  20. 2016 Ian Davidson South Bay Rider of the Year: Tony Manzella

Until next year, thank you!!!



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and support people who support cycling, on and off the bike. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!



The point-one percent

August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments

Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:

  • Three cyclists killed in PV
  • Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
  • Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
  • Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
  • Friend #3 got run over in PV
  • Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
  • Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
  • Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
  • Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”

It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.

Except, we haven’t.

These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.

I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.

What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.

Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.

What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.

At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.

But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and support bike advocacy in all its forms. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!



The subscription thing

November 27, 2015 § 42 Comments

So, there’s this weird thing every month where PayPal notifies me of each $2.99 subscription. When I browse through I see people I know and people I don’t. The whole thing is so impersonal, people sending me money and me just going on about my business without acknowledging it.

Here’s why I feel guilty every time I see one of those notices and just go on about my day: Every single subscription is a personal affirmation that what I’m doing matters somewhere, to someone. You may not think $2.99 is a lot, but it is to me because it represents your voice that you’d rather pay than read for free. I struggle with this—how do I let people know how grateful I am?

So I take a stab at it from time to time, randomly emailing people what I hope aren’t form “Thanks you’s” even though they pretty much are, trying to let them know that I appreciate their support. It’s support of the financial, emotional, and spiritual kind, and even the Catholic-Jewish guilt kind because when I get bogged down in “What am I going to write today?” I get sustenance from the guilt of knowing that people expect me to produce something since they’re paying me to do it.

Yesterday I sent out a form thank-you to a buddy whose identity I’ve sworn not to reveal but who used to ride with a white baby harp seal under his seat. “Hey, Baby Seal,” I wrote, “thanks again for your support. I really appreciate it.” Then I hit “send” and went on about my business of carefully picking around the scabby edges of my road rash.

A couple of hours later I got an answer. It’s not the best email I’ve ever gotten–it’s the best email ever written in the history of the Internet. And I’m sharing it with you now.

You kidding me? You have any idea how much nonsense I’ve learned thanks to that blog?!?

I mean, despite every rational judgment telling me otherwise I’ve gone through periods of eating nothing but kimchi, only breathing through my nose, being made fun of at the gym, weighing my food to the gram, loving power meters, hating power meters, spending thousands on carbon, selling hundreds in carbon, re-buying thousands in carbon (this time ensuring it was the correct 100% carbon-carbon kind of carbon), riding only at the front, riding only off the front, realizing there is no off season, refusing to take any recovery days, learning to hide in a group, pulling through without ever pulling through, learning the importance of recovery days, caffeine only diets, 3 meals a day – no snacks! And of course, finding glory in the time I dropped Stathis…while he was on a beach cruiser in a pooofy jacket and jeans.

I’ve also learned to be a better partner, a better friend, a better father than I was planing on being and the best grandfather with a strained ball sack.

And the very best part has been watching you find your sobriety.

One day I’ll sue you for all those 2.99’s but for now, thank you.




For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog. Or keep reading for free. Either way, THANK YOU! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

As Lionel Ritchie said, “I’m lookin’ for a good time, goooooooood tiiyiyime.”

November 13, 2013 § 16 Comments

I met a kid yesterday at a cafe. “Hey, I know you,” he said. “I read your blog.”

“Really? That’s awesome! Thanks!” I replied.

“Yeah, it’s really funny. But you sure are one egotistical dude.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I sat down at his table and let him and his pal buy me a cheeseburger. After thinking about it, I’ve realized that he really misunderstood me. I’m not egotistical. I am, rather, narcissistic beyond belief, perhaps pathologically so. Okay, scratch the “perhaps.”

Still, there are limits. One of those limits has been shameless self-promotion of my book, “Cycling in the South Bay.”

I have promoted it as far as I comfortably can without my guilt at being so narcissistic getting so bad that I can’t sleep at night, like having a bad case of acid reflux. Fortunately, the moment my sense of shame and self-reserve kicked in, my friends came to the rescue in the form of Dave Wehrly.

“Seth,” he said. “I want to do a book-signing party for you on November 21st. You can read a selection from the book. I’ll organize everything. We’ll get wine so all the drunks will show up, and I’m friends with the folks who own {pages}, a bookstore in Manhattan Beach that has said they’ll be glad to host the event. What do you say?” (He didn’t really say that bit about the drunks. He didn’t need to.)

“That,” I said, “is awesome.”

Adding sauce to the awesomeness was Dean Patterson, 1970’s cycling hard man and 2000’s wine maker, who volunteered up the grapes of wrath for the event.

The economics of self-publishing

I can say this much: It’s economical.

There are historically some  off-the-chart bestsellers that were originally self-published. 50 Shades of Grey and the Gutenberg Bible come to mind. For the most part, self-publishing is a financial dead end, but so what? Life is a dead end too, and that doesn’t stop us from trying to live it to the fullest. Moreover, Manhattan Beach is lucky to have a real, live bookstore. You know, one of those places that sells books made of paper; a place where the owners have a stake in your reading interests. If you’re under the age of forty, never mind. You wouldn’t understand.

What this book signing is, is a celebration. It’s a celebration of what happens when friends get together and slosh down too much good wine, then stagger over to Shellback’s and try not to pass out under the table. It’s a celebration of what happens when men and women put on tight, sexy clothing, then ogle each other’s asses for hours, days, months, even years before breaking down in a sleazy bar and swapping underwear in the men’s room. It’s a celebration of delusional, over-inflated egos, of hard money poured into vanity bicycle gewgaws, and of adolescent impulses that were never outgrown.

… and …

It’s a celebration of the grit and the discomfort and the inner brokenness that we try to smooth out by spinning circles, by communing with each other, by being there in good times and bad, and by lifting each other up by the armpits, even if it’s just to get you out from the slop on the barroom floor.

The celebration, of course, only has meaning because we’ve all invested a little bit in each other, the investment of trusting someone enough to sit on their wheel, or pitying their frailty enough to drag them up a hill, or blowing off the group ride to lag back and help some numbnuts  change a flat that he never would have gotten if he hadn’t ridden the stupid fucking tire 4,000 miles past its expiration date.

Whatever your reason, if you’re part of the South Bay community, or you were, or you’d like to be, or you know someone who is, join us. You won’t regret, and neither will I.


September 30, 2013 § 12 Comments

At the first cyclocross race of the season in downtown LA, my friend Greg Lonergan pulled off an impressive result in his first race despite flatting and losing scads of time trying to find a spare wheel with disc brakes. His wife and kids were there spending a beautiful fall day with the family, cheering him on, proud of him for going all out.

Marilyne Fichant was there with her two kids, and her 8-year-old Cooper won his division. Mom raced, too, and the daughter took pictures, cheered everyone on, and behaved like a perfect little lady.

Carey Downs showed up with a big contingent of Big Orange family. They all raced hard. Brian Perkins, Don Wolfe, Jeff Hazeltine, and a slew of other South Bay family sat around afterwards comparing notes, mechanical failures, excuses, successes, and washing it all down with cold beer and laughs.

When I got to the parking area at 8:00 AM, job one was to haul the heavy tent and equipment up to the top of the hill. Arik Kadosh lent his strong arms, strong back, and good humor, and soon the task was done. Robert Efthimos, also of the Westside family, showed up prepared to heckle all and sundry with insults and cheap beer, then joined us on the hill after the race (he’d snapped a chain) and shared his limitless good humor while we shared our limitless beer. When the day was done, he lugged the heaviest items along with Arik back down to the van.

The SPY family raced together, relaxed together, complained about flat tires together, had a post-race beer together, registered together, and did what family always does. We joked and cussed and planned for better racing the next time around. Randy with his DNF flat, Erik with his DNF flat, me with my DNF flat, Andy with his flat-but-to-hell-with-the-DNF-I’m-finishing, Ryan with the win, David Anderson with a super second, Jim Miller, Bull, F1 Jim and the rest of the team making a great day of it.

I got home and returned a phone call from mom, who had just read “Cycling in the South Bay” and said that it made her feel like she’d just been in a bike race.

My wife served dinner.


Cycling in the South Bay becomes major motion picture!

August 3, 2013 § 33 Comments

Okay, not a movie actually, more like a book.

Actually, an e-book.


But with your help it MAY one day become the best selling book since Dream of the Red Chamber.

Why a book?

I need the money.

How did it come about?

I printed out all of my blog excreta through December, 2012. It came out to 1,238 single-spaced 8 x 11 pages in 10-point type. After taking a look at the pile I got a huge headache, drank a lot of beer and then forgot about it.

Then what happened?

My good friend Barbara told me to email her the whole clump. She said she would read it and separate the wheat from the chaff. “If there’s no wheat, I’ll at least grade the chaff for you,” she may have said.

So that’s how you came out with a polished diamond?

No. That’s how I came out with 882 pages of “not completely awful” chaff.

Wankmeister, if you think anyone’s going to read 800-plus pages of anything, you’re crazy.

Right. So I whittled it down to about 200 pages, big font, double spaced, with photos of hot naked cyclists in the middle. The cover photo is from the San Pedro GP by Danny Munson.

Just like that?

No, I had more help from Barbara. Then Derek B. gave it a read and a critique. Finally, once it was all polished up and I’d read it another four times for typos, I sent it off to my favorite bicycling editor, Lesli Cohen. Once she finishes it I’ll call it good and publish it.

Which publisher are you using?


That’s a joke, right?


So what’s it about?

It’s about cycling in the South Bay, so I decided to call it “Cycling in the South Bay.”

Ah-hah. When is it coming out?

Two weeks, give or take a day.

Where can I buy it?

Amazon/Apple/Barnes & Noble.

How much will it cost?


Will there be a “bro deal”?

Yes. My bros will buy extra copies. And they will give it super favorable reviews on Amazon.

Aren’t you worried that it will be a POS?

No. I can blame it on Barbara, Derek, and Lesli. And Chris, who encouraged me to do this in the first place.

Is it going to be fiction or nonfiction?


No, no, no. I mean, which one will it be? Fiction or nonfiction?

It’s all 100% true except for the parts I made up.

What if your local buddies get pissed off at what you say about them?

None of them can read, actually. And the ones who can will go straight to the nude photos.

And what about the ones who get left out, like Chris Lotts? They’ll be really pissed.

As long as they buy the book to find out, who cares? Look, the damned thing was 1,200 pages long. In order to get it down to size I had to dump more shit than a manure truck. Anyway, Chris loves me. Mostly. And I’ve had plenty of people ride up to me and offer cash not to be mentioned. Which I’ve accepted, by the way.

Okay. Well, I’m looking forward to it.


Big C, Part Two: The wrath is Stathis

July 26, 2013 § 23 Comments

I sneaked out of bed trying not to wake Mrs. WM and not to disturb the man with the hammer and the lightning bolts, who was now also playing “Do-Re-Mi” on an out-of-tune violin. I succeeded on one count and made it into the kitchen.

“Where’s the fuggin’ oatmeal?” I muttered. “Where’s the fuggin’ coffee?” I muttered.

With the oatmeal cooking and the coffee poured, I slumped over on the table. My temples were going to burst as the bow sawed crazily on the strings, out of synch with the lightning bolts and hammer whacks.

“You okay?” Mrs. WM was standing in the kitchen.

I looked up at her in misery.

“You don’ lookin’ okay.” She put the frying pan on the stove. “You can’t go onna Donuts Ride with that hangin’ over just eatin’ oatsmeal and coffee.”

“I didn’t want to wake you up.”

“You think you makin’ a coffee grinder like grindin’ a tree stump not gonna wake me up?”

I tried to say “Sorry” but the hammer and violin wouldn’t let me.

“You can’t be onna drinky pants like that at your age,” she said quietly. “You gettin’ onna drinky problem, you know? Drinky pants inna middle day when you oughta be onna workin’? Throwin’ out onna wall inna hallway like you was a college ager?”

“I’m so sorry,” I mumbled.

“Itsa okay, honey, I’m lovin’ you anyways.” The smell of fried eggs and sausage filled the kitchen as the great city’s pre-dawn night lights sparkled in through the window glass. “I don’ care onna wipin’ up some throwin’ up. I done worse in twenty-six years. But you keep up with the drinky pants and you gonna hurt people not just yourself.”

The only thing that could have made me feel worse than a bunch of shouting was the soothing lilt of her voice, mixed in with sausage. “How’d I get all cleaned up last night?”

“I cleaned you all up like you was a poopy baby. But I threw away onna your socks. They was too nastiful.”

“I won’t do it again.”

“I don’ wanna hear ’bout what you gonna do and not do,” she said, putting the plate in front of me heaped with fried eggs and sausage and toast and butter and jam and oatmeal. “I just wanna see you bein’ okay because I’m lovin’ on you no matter what.” She  leaned over and kissed my forehead.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

I rendezvoused with Jack from Illinois (not his real name) and Glass Hip a few minutes before the Donut Ride launched. “I’ve never done the new course,” said Jack.

“You hardly ever even did the old one.”

“That’s true.”

“Instead of stopping at the college atop the Switchbacks and comparing penises, we continue up to the radar domes. It adds a solid ten minutes to the climb and completely changes the tenor of the ride.”

“Do we get to compare penises at the domes?”

“They’re usually too shriveled for measurement by that point.”

“I’m looking forward to this,” Glass Hip piped up. “It’s the one legendary SoCal ride I’ve never done in almost twenty years. It should be fun.”

“Yes, it will be fun,” I said. “Kind of like having someone gnaw off your genitals with a rusty can opener is ‘fun.'”

Whereas Jack from Illinois was a kind, gentle, happy, smiling, pleasant, generous fellow who, deep inside, was a gnarly and steaming mess of rhubarb, bitter herbs, dog spit, old scabs, and the raw memories of a childhood spent locked in a closet while his older brother banged on the door with a hammer, firecrackers, and a loaded pistol, Glass Hip was the opposite.

Glass Hip, ugly as a fist, was, to the outer world, covered in scales, mottled with the scars and blotches of badly abused leather, and permanently emanated an aura of cruelty, viciousness, cheapness, and a full-throttled desire to mount, crush, and destroy all competitors of any kind. On the inside, however, deep down, far down in fact, way beneath all that, hidden from view and unseen by any living human, under layers and layers of protective viciousness, obscured from even the most discerning, lay a small, minute, tiny, hard-to-see, practically invisible, microscopically small kernel of warmth and kindness and generosity that burned with such brightness it could turn the hardest butter pat into a slightly less firm one.

In other words, these two heroes of the road were polar opposites, with the exception, of course, of the qualities they shared, and one of those qualities was this: They invariably thrashed me, cracked me, and rode me off their wheels whenever the pace picked up, which it did the moment we hit Malaga Cove.

Have pity on an old man

“The additional climb that’s been tacked onto the Switchbacks has completely changed the tenor of the ride,” I told Glass Hip.

“How so?”

“Used to be, everyone sat in until Portuguese Bend then the attacks came fast and furious, with huge accelerations at the bottom of the Switchbacks and throughout.”

“And now?”

“Now people cower in their own poop until the very last minute.”

“Then they attack?”

“Naw. They wet themselves. There’s a big group at the bottom and then it gradually whittles down into a small handful, which then disintegrates in the final killing ten minutes up to the domes.”

Canyon Bob, however, hadn’t gotten the memo, and fired off a pull of death as we approached Trump, shelling most of the field and leaving the remnants hanging onto his wheel in a gagging, ragged line. At the bottom of the Switchbacks, Stathis the Wily Greek and Sammy Snubbins attacked.

Hanging Chad followed, and so did I.

A thick fog covered the Hill and we were soon alone. G3 and G$ had attacked way back at Golden Cove and were far ahead. The rest of the field was in pieces. By the second turn I was in Old Man Hell. My breathing was so deep that it reached down into my colon. The stabbing pains from the hangover had been replaced with stabbing pains in my thighs, butt, arms, neck, face, and hair, especially my sideburns, which ached beyond any description.

At some point I realized the futility of it all. I am a few months shy of fifty. Hanging Chad is thirty. Stathis is twenty-six. Sammy is nineteen. Sammy and Stathis took turns, each one pulling so hard and fast that it felt like a flat interval. “I’ve never survived climbing with either one of these dwarves,” I told myself. “What makes me think I can do it today?”

Hanging Chad read my mind and folded. Stathis looked back at me and said something. “I think it’s English,” I said. “But mixed in with my breathing like that, it’s hard to tell.”

What was obvious was that Stathis was not breathing hard or even, apparently, trying. He pulled as far as Ganado and looked back, flicking me through.

“Are you crazy?” I telepathically transmitted. “I’m barely hanging onto your wheel. I’m old and slow and weak and frightened and riding far outside myself. You are young, strong, and not even sweating. This moment, when I have somehow survived this far on the Switchbacks hanging onto your wheel, will go down as the second greatest ride of my life, but you will have forgotten it by lunchtime. Have pity on an old, feeble wanker and let me suck wheel for just a few moments more.”

Stathis looked back at me again with the kindness and empathy of a great white shark about to tear its prey in half, or of a Republican contemplating a bill that included help for the poor, or for old people, or for children. With that brief glance he telepathed this: “Yes, you are old and weak, but you are on my wheel, so you are, by definition, stronger than all those who are not. Therefore you are legitimate prey. I feel no mercy or sympathy for you, as the moment I let you survive you will brag to the world, likely on your blog, about how you climbed with me all the way to the top, a half-truth that will lower me and exalt you. I feel no pity for you nor any desire to do anything other than crush you mercilessly under the heel of my jackboot. Your cries and pleas mean nothing to me, to the contrary, the louder you squeal the more I will enjoy the sound of my club against your eggshell skull.”

With that, he yawned and rode away. Sammy followed.

Cut adrift and resigned to being reeled in, I was surprised to see Hanging Chad come by at full speed. I hopped on and enjoyed the Cadillac draft of this triathlete-turned-savior. At the college he blew and I soldiered on. Stathis overhauled G$ and G3, completely consuming their three minute lead, followed by Sammy, then me.

Next up were Glass Hip and Jack. “We had you in our sights,” said Glass Hip, he whom I have never beaten on a climb.

“I got lucky.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “You did.”

“Don’t suppose it will happen again.”

“No,” he agreed. “It won’t.”

And it didn’t, as he pummeled me the rest of the ride.

With this one great feat, however, my confidence began to surge, because the following day was the MMX Birthday Ride Beatdown, a North County San Diego Fuckaganza in which many were invited to a happy celebration of cycling and fun and camaraderie in which there would be neither fun nor camaraderie but only a punishing, humiliating beatdown administered without regard to friendship or anything else.

In the back of mind, there were other things bubbling around the edges, too. I’d be heading to Houston after the birthday beatdown to be with my mom, who was scheduled for major surgery to combat a very aggressive breast cancer with which she’d been diagnosed. Sunday would involve a huge physical effort as well as a huge logistical effort. I’d have to get from North County to LAX in time to make the last flight of the day, which would put me in Houston at midnight.

I got back home and had lunch, then opened the fridge to grab a beer. “Nah,” I said. “Not today.”

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with cycling in the south bay at Cycling in the South Bay.