Don’t burn out

July 19, 2017 § 31 Comments

It’s hard to continue anything, but it’s especially hard to continue riding a bike, and it’s virtually impossible to continue racing one. The average life span of a bike racer is 2-3 years. I made up that fake number because in my experience that’s about how long it takes for a person to realize how out of whack the risk-reward arithmetic is.

Enthusiastic sport cycling may last a bit longer, but not much. Every year I see people get into riding, buy all the gear, do all the rides, make a bunch of friends, and then vanish, which is the time you can pick up some great deals on bike stuff with a well-placed phone call. The people who stick around have a few things in common.

  1. They actually love riding their bike, however you define “riding” or “bike.”
  2. They have a schedule.
  3. They wake up early.
  4. Riding is an end unto itself.

The people who burn out are a much more diverse group, but here are the warning signs. The problem is that these warning signs also exist among people who’ve been doing it for decades. When a new rider does all of these things, though, get ready for a Roman candle flame-out.

  1. Extremely competitive.
  2. Bikes for multiple disciplines before they’ve gotten good at even one.
  3. Strava/data/power obsession.
  4. Coaches and/or training plans.
  5. Huge miles.
  6. Only talks about cycling.
  7. Haven’t had their first big crash.
  8. Extremely focused on gear.
  9. Huge progress in a very short period of time.
  10. Big job or family stresses.

If you’re the kind of person who throws herself fully into new things, and you have a pattern of burning out in other new endeavors but really want to hang onto cycling, here are a few tips that will help.

  1. Make sure that half your rides have no competitive element whatsoever.
  2. Only own bikes you regularly ride.
  3. Do half your rides (or more) without a Garmin or Strava.
  4. Come up with a “longevity” plan with your coach. Coaches hate burnout worse than anyone.
  5. Halve your mileage.
  6. Read a (non-cycling) book.
  7. Set a monthly/annual gear spending limit.
  8. Don’t do more than 5 races a year.
  9. Ride with your significant other.
  10. Learn the names of your children

END

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The anticipation of absence makes the heart grow fonder

May 22, 2015 § 14 Comments

I don’t care what anyone says, 28 years of marriage is a long time in the dentist’s chair, and if you think things are still as fresh as they were 27.5 years ago, you are in the advanced stages of senility. We used to have a deal where Mrs. WM would put up with me for nine months and I with her, and then during the summer she would waltz back to Japan with the kids.

It was great for her. Going home meant someone else cooking, someone else cleaning, and someone else minding the Small Ones Who Choose Never To Mind. It also meant speaking her real language, and of course PARTEEEEEEEEEEEE, every single day. How do I know this? Because when we’d speak on the phone it went like this:

Me: How are things going?

Her: Okay.

Me: Just “okay”?

Her: Yes.

Me: I suppose you’re dying to come back already?

Her: Yes, very much. Too bad I have to wait onna twelve more weeks. So sadly.

And you know what? She always came back refreshed, ready for nine more months of drudgery and interminable tales about how Wanker McGee attacked, but I was ready for him and countered, and then Billy Bumfugg followed, and then we were away, but the field pulled us back, and then I went again but this time Wanker followed, then countered, and Smedley Offalnipple touched wheels and BAM! he went down, so Billy bunnyhopped Smedley’s skull, mostly, and then … I need to buy a new frame and some wheels, okay honey?

For me it was equally awesome. Much as I loved my wife, I really loved her when she was gone, and not just gone around the corner for a jug of milk. I’m talking nine thousand miles gone. Gone through a dozen time zones. Gone where toilet lids could stay up, pee could sprinkle on the rim, toothbrush caps could remain unscrewed, new life forms could mutate in the sink, farts could waft blissfully up through the covers, and underwear could be worn over and over and over and no one would ever say squat.

I could wake up, ride my bike all day, come home to a quiet hovel, go to floor for nine hours, and do it all over again.

“But Wanky! You must have been miserable! She’s such a great cook! How did you survive without all that fresh bread?”

How did I survive? Let me tell you about something called Van Camp’s Pork & Beans and Spam and peanut butter and bananas and coffee and beer and eggs and salsa and tortilla chips. If you can’t live like a prince on that for three months, then you aren’t trying.

Did I miss the great home cooking? Of course! Did I miss it enough to want to go back to fartless nights under the covers and sitting down to piss? No way!!!!

Then, somehow, poverty went from being an abstraction to a concrete thing as the children grew, we ran out of hand-me-downs (the boys never liked having to wear their sister’s dresses anyway), and summer schedules became intractable. We ran out of money, we ran out of time, and we ran out of them simultaneously.

So, Mrs. WM stopped taking her refresher trips, which was hard on me, hard on her, and probably hardest of all on her seven or eight ex-high school boyfriends back in Japan. And along with our straitened situation, the spark and sizzle started to go out of our boring and totally predictable marriage. That dull lump of last week’s tasteless meatloaf we called marriage had lost the excitement and flair that it never had.

You can imagine how amazed I was when we both looked at each other and realized that for the first time in ten years her summer wasn’t going to be tied down by kids. The tickets were bought in a flash, and the minute that they cleared the four credit cards we had to cobble together to run the charge, the old meatloaf flared up a little. It was still cold leftovers, but with a little something extra.

Then, as each day passed and the day of departure neared, the cold meatloaf warmed up and the flavor returned. One morning as I stood there scrubbing a thick crust of cold bacon grease off the skillet, I thought of my sweetheart, still in bed and probably not even farting. A golden warmth spread throughout as I anticipated dropping her off at the airport and saying “See ya!” for a full fiscal quarter.

But before I brought her coffee in bed I got on the computer and did a quick cost comparison for a new frame, and maybe some wheels, too. She hadn’t even left, and I missed her already.

END

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Youthful crotches and shaved cats’ balls

May 21, 2015 § 60 Comments

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but if you want to do it quickly, hop on a triathlete chat forum. A friend sent me this link, which better judgment and common sense urged me not to click, but I am the reason that viruses, trojans, and clickbait always work.

Here it is, I dare you not to click, but be forewarned … it is a lethal computer virus that will infest your hard drive, your soft drive, and your sex drive as it vacuums up all of your personal data and sells your SSN, DOB, and bank accounts to Russian Internet thieves and Oleg Dickov for $2.99.

Clicked yet? Yes?

Then you have seen that an anonymous tri-dork self styled as “Duffy” has written a nasty little diatribe about one of the local West Side heroes who dared to take the lane on PCH while Duffy was hurrying to his cat testicle shaving appointment. Now before we get into the substance of Duffy’s complaint, which is that Our Hero should have been in the bike lane (there isn’t one, as the sheriff can now tell you), let’s all take a minute to appreciate Duffy’s online presence in Ye Olde Tri-dork Chatte Forum, and we might as well begin with his self described occupation as “Murders and Executions.” (Viewable, along with his profile pics, to members only).

So you see, Duffy is funny.

But he has a serious side, too, and since it focuses on vulvas, what better way to proclaim his passion to the world than with a profile picture of a woman’s crotch? Detached from a body or a face, Duffy’s idea of a woman is apparently a vulva in a miniskirt. I’ll take a wild leap here and guess that Duffy is single, and not by choice. Unusually for me, I will take the high road and not post the picture.

“Gosh,” you’re probably thinking as you touch yourself gently, “that’s probably someone who is known to law enforcement.” What you’re probably not thinking is, “There’s the profile picture of someone who is knowledgeable about traffic laws.”

Of course, it’s possible to get the wrong impression, and Duffy spares you that error by using a second profile picture, where he veers from dirty old man to straight up sicko.

Duffy's dream cat

Duffy’s dream cat

By now we have lurched so far down the rat hole of Internet crazy that there’s not much more to add. How can you improve on the headline “Ignorant Pervert Cager-cum-tridork Who Fantasizes Over Shaved Cat Dicks Berates Law Abiding Cyclist”?

Answer: You can’t.

What you can do, though, is briefly scroll through the forum comments, where Duffy, in good company, finds much support for the proposition that cyclists on PCH should ride in the non-existent bike lane and/or in the rubble-filled gutter, or else face getting honked and screamed at by cager cat dick fanciers, and possibly run over, too.

What’s most shocking about the supportive comments is that most have at least three words with more than one syllable, and that “Duhhhh” is used sparingly. Is it really a tri-dork forum?

What’s sad is to see the Helen’s team name dragged through the mud until you realize that these are anonymous Internet trolls who don’t shop at stores, who don’t ride on roads, and whose main pastime is, well, shaved cat dicks. The bright spot, about 26 comments down, is the reasoned voice of Club La Grange’s El Presidente Robert Efthimos, who puts together coherent thoughts, proper punctuation, correct orthography, and effective reasoning to defend the Helen’s rider’s right to take the lane while he diplomatically points out that Duffy is a maroon.

Best of all, El Presidente presents the rider’s side of the story, a rider we all know and highly respect, which gibes exactly with the facts you’d expect: Mr. Cat Dicks began the confrontation by blasting the horn although the rider was legally in the lane coming down from Pepperdine at 42 mph. The aggressor then sped away, and when the rider caught Cat Dicks at the light, the cager began his lecture with The Opening Phrase That Marks You For All Time As An Asshole, i.e. “I’m a cyclist too, but … ”

No, Duffy, you’re not a cyclist. You are in a car harassing cyclists, which makes you a cager. You spend your cage time leaning on a horn, misstating the law you haven’t bothered to learn, and threatening us with death. That makes you not a cyclist, but an enemy, and if the worst you get out of encounters like this is an angry middle finger from a calm and accomplished cyclist, consider yourself lucky and go back to the shaved cat dicks, at least until we turn you in for animal abuse.

END

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The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 11: The bed battle

May 20, 2015 § 30 Comments

Rarely, very rarely, someone will ask me a serious question about fitness or training or racing. These are terrifying moments, aware as I am that of all the people with zero value to share on such topics, I am certainly the largest negative integer in that department.

This person asked me about getting a coach. Now, I have lots of friends who are coaches, but that number will be greatly reduced after today because here is what I told my friend:

Unless someone experienced in both fields has evaluated you and advised you that you can make more money riding your bicycle than you can getting an MBA, coaching is stupid. Why?

Because the basics behind cycling improvement haven’t changed in 100 years.

  1. Eat right
  2. Lose weight
  3. Ride more
  4. Ride with those who are better than you
  5. Race

Once you’ve done these five things, and it generally takes 5-10 years to reach the right balance, you can start seeking advice. The good news is that when you’ve spent a decade doing #4 and #5, your coaches will be the people you regularly ride and race with, and they will gladly share what they know as well as point out what they think you do well and where you can improve.

Training plans, power meters, heart rate monitors, coaches … get over it. It’s a scam designed to obfuscate the harsh realities of 1-5 above, and to take your eye off the Reality Ball, which says you are old and slow and will continue getting older and slower until you die, which will be incredibly soon relative to your expectations.

In fact, when it comes to speed, your best investments are aero, carbon, diet, and winning the battle of the bed. Aero speaks for itself. Get a Sausage-approved Aero Pro Fit p/b Daniel Holloway and you will go noticeably faster.

Get as much 100% carbon stuff that is full carbon and you will go faster still, especially if it’s aero carbon, as if there were any other kind.

Diet is trickier, but in a nutshell here are the basics:

  1. Toss the radical weight loss plan. 143 pounds is not good for a six foot frame, and constant ravenous hunger is an unhappy way to live, although it sure sharpens every single faculty.
  2. Make incremental changes. Shave a bit here and there, and mostly rein in dinner. If you’re a 3-plate eater, first go from 3 servings to 2, and then from 2 to 1. Even if it’s sometimes a big serving, shoot for a norm of “enough to make me feel full but not stuffed.”
  3. USE SMALLER PLATES.
  4. Eat at home more often and put everything on a plate, except ice cream, which goes in a bowl. A small one.
  5. Chop the legs off of your enabler. He/she is the person who asks you 10 times a day “Do you want … ?” or “Do you want to go out for … ?” Cure the enabler by saying “Yes, but since you asked me, I’ll pass.” The enabler will be very angry for a while and no sex, but when you’re shedding pounds who has the energy for that anyway? Don’t waste your time telling the enabler to quit asking, just let the enabler know that no matter what it is, if the enabler recommends it, you’re refusing no matter how hungry you are. Pretty soon you’ll be back in control of what you eat and when you eat it. Plus, what hungry human can say “No” ten times a day? I can’t even say it once.
  6. Read “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. The protagonist’s only skills are “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” These are incredible qualities to develop in cycling, and in life if you have one. (I don’t.) Keep in mind that while it’s not good to be ravenous all the time, it is good to endure a few pangs during the day. It’s not normal to always be full or to sate yourself every time you feel hungry. It’s like expecting to race well without ever training hard.

The biggest fitness obstacle, however, is the bed battle. Everyone can testify to the difficulty of twisting yourself out of the clutches of the warm sheets, especially when the only thing on offer is a guaranteed 60-minute beatdown on the Flog Ride, cf. Joseph Y.

The bed battle cannot be won with multiple alarms or with pre-percolating coffee timers, and it certainly can’t be won when the person next to you is warm and cuddly and not very interested in your morning bicycle ride. The bed battle can only be won the night before, by going to bed early, airing up your tires, laying out your superhero outfit, and promising a friend that you will meet him at a time certain.

There. That’s all I know, and most of it is wrong.

END

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Celebrate

May 19, 2015 § 33 Comments

I had to choose between doing the Torrance Crit and going to my daughter’s law school graduation. She made law review, completed law school in two years, made the dean’s list, was a dean’s fellow, and received a full scholarship. So it was go and celebrate her accomplishments or hustle down to the Telo office park and see if I could win twenty bucks or not crash.

Decisions.

I didn’t tell family about the bike race. Relatives and friends had come from far away to celebrate my daughter. We went to commencement Sunday morning and it was awesome. Then it finished around noon. I still didn’t say a word about the crit. We ate lunch. Everyone was tired and wanted to go home or back to the hotel and nap.

I got home just before three. The race started at four. “Where are you going?” Mrs. WM asked.

“Just out for a little pedal.”

“Be home in time to leave for the graduation dinner at 6:10.”

“No problem,” I said, realizing that it would take a miracle to get me home in time. I sauntered out, leaped out my bike and sprinted to the office park. The leaky prostate division had drained off hours ago and the only race left was the Fakepro-1-2-3 race. I hadn’t done one of those in a couple of decades. “How hard can it be?” I asked myself. “Plus, it’s 75 minutes, which is more racing!”

I watched the racers warm up. They had smooth skin and no fat and their faces were filled with hope and no one had told them what a terrible waste of life bike racing was and they all looked younger than my kids. That’s because they were.

Still, I had been killing it on the NPR and the Donut Ride, and that’s pretty much the same as doing a Fakepro-1-2-3 race, right? Right?

Wily Greek rolled up next to me at the start. “This is gonna fuggin’ hurt.”

I blinked big watery cow eyes. I’ve never seen Wily in even mild discomfort. “Oh, no,” I thought as Robert Pellegrin blew the whistle.

The young fellows were in a big hurry. They were in such a hurry that instead of waiting until five minutes before the finish to attack like us elderly gentlemen always do, they waited four or five seconds before the first turn to attack into the chicane and into the headwind, which they followed with another faster attack into the headwind and through the right-hander which was followed by two more attacks, each attack faster than the one before.

Since I was already going as fast as I had ever gone in my life after the first attack, when we hit the tailwind stretch I got ready for a bit of relief, but that never came because the attacks in the tailwind made everything else look slow in comparison. Unlike the leaky prostate division, where there are three attacks, a break rolls off, and everyone sits up and finishes reading the paper, in the Fakepro-1-2-3 division everyone keeps attacking until no one can attack anymore except the people who haven’t yet attacked who are actually the true strongmen, and then they take turns attacking while the tired attackers are resting at the back and then when the strongmen roll off the front the rested primary attackers re-attack until they chase down the strongmen who have seen the chase coming and thus slowed a touch so that when they are reeled in they can attack the attackers who were attacking them for having attacked.

Somewhere in there the race went from being Fakepro-1-2-3 to Fakepro-1-2, and the seventy or so starters became forty or fifty gaspers and ten people actually racing to win.

Fortunately every time I whizzed through Beer Corner my trusty mechanic Boozy P., who had re-twisted my derailleur hanger a few minutes before the race with a monkey wrench and a beer can so that I could keep ‘er in the 11 and not have to worry about my chain skipping into those wussy gears, along with Hooffixerman & his hot wife, New Girl, Frenchy & Frenchymom, Canyon Bob, Strava Reid, Fintech Quant, Tyler, Mr. Rubdown, and the usual gang of Strand Brewery drunks hollered and screamed encouragement at me each time I bounced over the pavement and within inches of death up against the curb.

“You suck, Wanky!”

“Go to the front!”

“Get off the front!”

“Close the gap!”

“Get off your brakes!”

“Roll your tongue back in!”

And other helpful bits of coaching were offered each lap.

In addition to being very afraid of all the bicycle riders who whizzed by me brushing my bars and hips, I was being “that guy” who, clearly out of his league and even more out of breath, would dash towards the front, hit the turn at Mach 12, clench the brakes with max panic grab, and listen to all the Fakepro-1-2’s scream, curse, and grind to a halt behind me, then be forced to accelerate from 1 mph back up to 35 after passing me in the corner.

They all appeared very tired out from this, and also somewhat sad.

Unfortunately for them, as soon as they passed me I would “do the Derek” which is racetalk for “pass every rider once.” With this logic you eventually win. However, in order to pass anyone there were only three options. Option 1 was to thread my way through the pack while getting completely protected from the wind, but I was too afraid to do this.

Option 2 was to rocket up the gutter in the leeward draft, but I was too afraid to do this either because the gutter is just a few inches wide and filled with death.

Option 3 was to go up along the safe edge of the peloton into the wind, which takes about 1300 or a million watts to move six places. Eventually I would get up to the first few wheels and then hit another turn, come flaming in hot, burn off a few centimeters of brake pad, turn the face of the guy behind me black from carbon brake dust, lose 49 places, crash out a few hapless sods, and start all over again.

It was very tiring, but soon we were on the bell lap. I could tell this because up until then we had been going so fast that time had come to a standstill (it’s a relativity thing), but now the pack briefly bunched up. I saw my final opportunity to launch a searing attack up the side, catch the field unawares, get a gap, and win.

I punched the pedals with everything I had, just at the moment when the pack punched it with about 20% of what it had, and I found out that on the bell lap my 100% was about half of their 20%. I latched onto the end of the train and at that moment Wily came up and tapped me on the hip. “Yo, Wanky,” he said. “Better give yourself a couple of bike lengths, just to be safe. You aren’t winning today, you know.”

I looked at the 48 riders ahead of me, calculated the 1300 watts I didn’t have times eight, and eased off. We hit the straightaway and a trio of riders, locked in a death struggle for the honor of 29th place, touched wheels and hit the pavement with amazing violence and bounciness. Their bikes broke into pieces, blood and skin and helmet pieces flew everywhere, and the air was rent with moans and screams and one of my SPY teammates who wailed as I rode by, “Why do they let these fuggin’ Cat 3 idiots into these races?”

I crossed the line and realized that I only had twenty minutes to make the 35-minute ride home. Fortunately, EA Sports, Inc., was outside his house as I rode by. I explained my predicament, he tossed me into the back of his pickup, put my bike up front, and drove me home. I walked in the door at 6:09.

“How was your ride?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Uneventful, and therefore okay.”

END

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Sagan notches second Tour of California stage win, calls team boss Tinkov a “complete asswipe”

May 18, 2015 § 30 Comments

After smashing the field in the 10.6-km time trial at Magic Mountain in the Amgen Tour of California, then winning the overall event, Slovakian ballbuster Peter Sagan thanked his team for their support and referred to team owner Oleg Tinkov as a “complete asswipe.” Cycling in the South Bay sat down with the Green Monster to discuss.

CitSB: You must be feeling pretty good. Two wins in a Pro Tour race after being called out by your boss, Oleg Tinkov.

Peter Sagan: Yep.

CitSB: And you called him a “complete asswipe”?

PS: Yep.

CitSB: Because?

PS: Because he is. Oleg Tinkov is the pro rider’s worst nightmare.

CitSB: How so?

PS: Oh, come on. You know the type. Total wanker masters racer, buys the best stuff, wears the most expensive kit, shows up at the private training ride uninvited, and he’s off the back before the pace even picks up. Then, because he can’t keep up, he sponsors the local race club so he can be part of the team, hang out at the races, do the training rides. And everyone hates his fucking guts.

CitSB: Well, money talks.

PS: Yep, and Oleg’s is paying my bills. But imagine having said masters wanker telling you how to race your bike.

CitSB: Must be pretty annoying.

PS: You have no idea. Dude texts me a hundred times a day, I’m not kidding. “Spin more on the climbs, Peter.” “You opened up your sprint too early, Peter.” “Take on more electrolytes, Peter.” This from a guy who, ten years ago, couldn’t have picked an electrolyte from an electric car.

CitSB: You’ll admit that your results this year have been disappointing.

PS: Yes, they have.

CitSB: And Oleg’s paying you some pretty solid coin.

PS: Look, no disrespect intended, but pro racing isn’t like buying gas at the pump where you stick in your credit card and out gush six monuments and a green jersey at the Tour. It’s fucking hard and it comes down to fitness, smarts, teamwork, and luck. Tinkov has never won a bike race, any bike race. Dude’s a fuggin’ fanboy who thinks that when you’re on the rivet, your teeth filled with mud, it’s 45 degrees and raining sleet, and you’re still a hundred k’s from the velodrome in Roubaix that you need to “dig deeper.” He’s the one who needs to dig deeper, to dig his way out of that pile of fantasy shit his head is buried in.

CitSB: He seems to think he’s better at managing the team than Riis was.

PS: You know something about Riis? He was a true motivator. Riis earned his stripes at the head of the peloton, not ripping off stupid Russian consumers with payday loans and giving head to Vladimir Putin. Riis believed in you and he showed you how to focus on what you were good at while improving your weaknesses. Tinkov is Vino without the race smarts or the race legs. Rotten to the core, dumb as a box of rusty derailleurs, and as much fun to be around as a bag of cold, wet dicks.

CitSB: Bag of cold, wet dicks?

PS: Well, when they’re cold and wet they shrivel up.

CitSB: Got it. Has Tinkov’s outspokenness created tension in the team?

PS: No. Everyone hates his guts, especially Alberto, and we all call him Dickov behind his back. Did you see that shit about the Giro, where he said that all of Alberto’s rivals fear him, and that Alberto is a shoo-in?

CitSB: That didn’t go over well?

PS: Oh, it did. We laughed our asses off. Dickov thinks that riders perform best when you belittle them or make outrageous brags in the media.

CitSB: And they don’t?

PS: Riders perform best when they’re internally driven to win, they’re fit, they have a good team, they ride smart, and they get lucky. And when they use the right juice [winks]. Marginal gains, as Dave Brailsford would say.

CitSB: Right-o. Thanks, Peter.

PS: Any time.

END

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The comeback Jackson

May 16, 2015 § 26 Comments

I have never made any money riding bicycles but I have sure lost a lot.

The worst ride I ever did was a coffee ride seven years ago with Chief and Caron. Mrs. WM had given me a brand new $20 bill for my allowance and it was burning a hole in my pocket. We were headed over to San Pedro and I was bragging about all the coffee and muffins I was going to buy them, because in Pedro a Jackson will get you a lot of muffins and when you’re with the Chief a lot is how many you’re going to need.

We were screaming down the descent at the end of Western before it had fallen off into the ocean and I reached into my back pocket for my cap. We got to the coffee shop and I made a big flourish. “This is all together,” I said.

Chief and Caron had been giving me shit the whole way there. “I’ll believe you have a fresh Jackson when I see it,” said Chief.

“Better make sure we take pictures so we can prove you actually paid for something,” added Caron.

I dug into my jersey pocket but the Jackson was gone. They laughed as hard as I turned red. “I really had one,” I said.

“Sure you did, pal. We believe you.” Then Chief sorted through his hundreds and pulled out a Jackson and paid. “Let’s go sit outside and you can tell us what that Jackson looked like.”

“I’m not sitting outside. I’m gonna go find that fucking Jackson.” Their laughter trailed as I raced away. I got back to Western, got off my bike, and walked the entire length of road and back again, twice. No Jackson. After half an hour I gave up and rode back. Chief and Caron laughed even harder.

“You find that Jackson?” Caron asked.

“Even if he had had one, which is a highly doubtful proposition, in the fine city of San Pedro it would have lay unclaimed for somewhere between 1 and 1.5 seconds.”

They have given me shit about that Jackson for seven years. Every time I see him, Chief asks if I’ve found that Jackson, and it makes me mad all over again. That coffee ride plain old sucked, and today’s did, too. It never rains in California except when it does, and today it did.

I put on the cape and leg warmers and booties and beanie and gloves and went out for three miserable hours. There wasn’t another bike or walker on the entire bike path from Redondo to Playa del Rey. My bike was covered in sludge and sand, and my hands and feet went numb. In El Segundo it dumped and my shoes filled up with water, cold water.

Before I moved to California and became weak I was a tough guy. Fields used to say that everyone can finish in the rain, but only the hard ones start in it. I always make a point of going out when it’s nasty because it happens so seldom. It takes me back to my roots of heat, cold, sun, wind, and rain.

When I got to Malaga Cove I had to decide whether to take the easy way home up Via del Monte or to do the Cove wall, Paseo del Mar, and Lunada Bay. “Fuggit,” I said and took the right-hander down to the bottom of the wall. When I got to Lunada Bay I had another choice, the easier Donut route or the steep and nasty alley. I hooked right for the alley.

My rear wheel was skipping and I was really cold and miserable and wondering why I hadn’t made the beeline climb home. What the hell was wrong with me?

I popped out of the alley and something caught my eye. It was green and wet and half-folded over in the gutter.

I jumped off my bike and picked it up, then I did a little dance before tucking it safely into my jersey. I grinned all the way home and even threw in the gnarly Monaco climb instead of taking the easier ascent up Hawthorne. I got my payment for doing the hard ride the hard way. The comeback Jackson.

END

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