July 24, 2017 § 32 Comments
My legs had very bad cramps. “Yeah, whatever,” you say. “HTFU.”
So I did. But the cramps had started at the first water crossing on Big Sycamore Canyon and got worse. “Yeah, whatever,” you say. “HTFU.”
So I did. And they spread to both legs. “Yeah, whatever,” you say. “We don’t care about your menstrual cramps.”
As John Middleton passed me in a cloud of dirt and filth and sweat and grunting, he said, “Come on, Seth.”
“Come where?” I asked. “How much longer is this fucking road?” I silently thanked dog that it was mostly flat, an anomaly for anything in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“Couple miles,” he said. The last words I heard before he vanished were, “But the most horrible climb out here is just up the road.”
“What climb?” I wondered. I came to a water faucet where a dazed looking person was melting in his own sweat and filling his bottle, his hand shaking, his eyes glazed. When my turn came I lay under the nozzle and poured water all over my head, back, stomach, and legs. The cramps stopped for a moment. I contemplated living there under the spigot permanently.
Seizing the no-cramp opportunity I hopped on the bike and started up Horrible Hill. There were tiny little dots strewn out along it like insects stuck in flypaper, barely moving their little limbs across the painted blue skyscape that draped across the canvas of brown hills dotted with the odd green thing trying hopelessly to survive. Like me.
It reminded me of the time I got stuck on a mountain side outside of Shimogo-mura in Fukushima Prefecture. It was freezing cold and I almost died but the reason I remember that day is that it was the only time I had ever gotten off my bike because I could no longer pedal uphill.
I passed an insect on a mountain bike, barely turning a rear cog that was bigger than a UFO. He was panting. I was panting. The cramps resumed with a vengeance.
For the second time in my life I got off my bike because I could no longer pedal uphill. The insect passed me. “Good job,” I said, not adding the all important “you sorry motherfucker.”
My day ended about an hour later in wave after wave of cramping that lasted for hours. I had been attacked, dropped repeatedly, beaten mercilessly in the paceline from hell, and had had my lunch money stolen by a gang of bullies led by a meanie named Aaron Boyleston and his henchmen Marco and KK.
I’ve never felt worse, gone slower, or had so many people take gratuitous shots at my skull. I’ve never ridden slower on a 300-lb. cyclocross bike with 34mm knobby tires. I’ve never had so much post-ride pain. I’ve never had worse cramps, cramps so bad that the next day they still hurt. It was 72 miles, four hours-ish, and seemed like quadruple the distance.
In short, it was one of the best rides ever.
The Rivet Raid, as it was called, boasted a murderer’s row of elite riders, from world champion Keith Ketterer, who at age 102 smashed everyone to bits, to Aaron, Marco, Jonathan Woodbury, Jason Lavender, John Slover, Bart Clifford, Michael Penta, Todd Turley, Seth Huggins, and a whole bunch of people whose names I don’t remember and whose faces I barely saw as they blazed by me.
This ride also punctuated, for me, an amazing commentary about amateur road racing in America, if not the world. Bjorn Snider, a viciously strong dude who doesn’t race, i.e. pay stupid amounts of money to be treated like shit in ugly, faraway places by people who don’t like you, put on the Rivet Raid. It cost forty bucks, and here’s what you got (list sponsored by Pooh Bear-a-TX and Waldo):
- Incredible all-you-can-drink coffee, nitro/cold brew and spanking hot, from Gear Grinderz Coffee.
- Fresh pastries, energy bars, fruit, liquid hydration.
- Total tech support with VeloFix; their mobile van posted up at various points throughout the ride.
- Shortcuts that let you abandon when your legs fell off, and still got you back to the park in time to eat, hang out, swap lies.
- BEER. (Or, sigh, craft water.)
- Towering plates of delicious, freshly made Mexican food.
- Prize money in cash to the winners of selected Strava segments and to the person with the fastest overall time.
- Four to five hours of brain-splatteringly hard bike racing.
- Four to five hours of easy cruising with your friends if that’s what you preferred.
- Gorgeous scenery on some of the prettiest roads in SoCal.
- Bronchiole-incinerating climbs.
- All the camaraderie and friendship you could handle.
Did I mention that the whole thing cost forty bucks?
When you add up numbers 1-12, what you get is something called “fun.” It is a concept that USAC took out behind the shed and murdered with a tire iron decades ago. It is a concept that evaporated on the local level when race promoters realized that the costs of putting on an event would always create highly risky propositions that could result in huge financial losses, and in the best of times only result in very modest financial gains.
Fun died in bike racing when Lance brought his message of “you suck” to every cyclist, when the act of pinning on a number was submission to the whip of contempt by those who beat you, dropped you, and didn’t even provide a consolation beer and taco for having given them someone to abuse. Fun died when shit-ass dopers like Kayle LeoGrande, Rich Meeker, and the whole stupid gaggle of cheaters made your own puny but honest efforts count for nothing.
And people, unwilling to fork over $45 bucks for a 45-minute crit, decided to seek their fun somewhere else. Enter the Rivet Raid.
The ride was a distillation of the grand fondue, where you can ride with friends, ride slowly, ride hardly, or hop from grazing station to grazing station, and then pin it during the timed segments. The Nosco Ride has been doing this for years, and it’s only one of many reasons that thousands of people take off in the middle of the week to do that ride.
The Rivet Raid was a family affair as well. Bjorn’s lovely wife Barbara and his two brothers teamed up to pull off the event, and everything from the coffee to the food to the VeloFix tech support was spot-on. As if that weren’t enough, the Rivet Raid also hired the services of Steve Cohen, a top-notch photographer whose work speaks for itself. An adept of legends like Dan Munson and Phil Beckman, Steve’s photos truly captured the event.
Steve summed it up with stunning photography that should make you absolutely want to put this on your list for 2018, while Kristie Fox traveled the route in her pickup and took snapshots with her iPhone.
Nothing encapsulates the ride vibe better than the ending, when I struggled over Horrible Hill, legs cramping, bonking, and desperate to get back to the car so that I could make it to the airport by 3:00 PM. Bjorn came up to me. “Get on my wheel,” he said. I did. And despite my shot legs and snail’s pace he rode me back to the parking lot, but not before he had a blowout on his front tire.
“No worries,” he said. “I’ll change it when we get back.”
Then, as I slumped into the passenger seat and the pickup headed out of the park, Bjorn came sprinting up with a plateful of tacos, beans, and rice. “And don’t forget the Coke!” he added, thrusting an ice cold cola through the open window.
All I can do is sum up the Rivet Raid with a word that we need more of in cycling, and in life: Fun. And if the fun requires a beating out in the Santa Monica mountains at the hands of a gang of uber-legit riders, well, thank you, sir. May I have another?
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October 23, 2016 § 16 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 Munson: Simply 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. He also gives me all the wax I can use.
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 Performance: Everything 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 Color: Printed 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:
- 2016 Greatest Advocate: Sarah Barraclough for BMUFL/Master Safety Plan advocates
- 2016 Best Bike Shop: Performance Bicycle
- 2016Best Young Rider: Ivy Koester
- 2016 Best Old Rider: George Pommel
- 2016 Most Improved: David Holland
- 2016 Best Club: Long Beach Freddies
- 2016 Best Event: Dana Point Grand Prix
- 2016 Wanker of the Year: Denis Faye
- 2016 Belgian Award: James Cowan
- 2016 Group Ride Champion: Elijah Shabazz
- 2016 Best Sponsor: Beachbody Performance
- 2016 Best Male Racer: Justin Williams
- 2016 Best Female Racer: Katie Donovan
- 2016 GC Award: Joe Yule
- 2016 Crashtacular Fred: Marvin Campbell
- 2016 Strava KOM: Chris Tregillis
- 2016 Most Happy to Help others: Chris Gregory
- 2016 Most Fun: Sochin Lee
- 2016 Best Spouse/SO: Jeanette Seyranian
- 2016 Ian Davidson South Bay Rider of the Year: Tony Manzella
Until next year, thank you!!!
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October 23, 2012 Comments Off on The beautiful eye
The first time I saw the photo, I was envious. Then I looked at it again, and my envy turned to burning, green envy with a purplish tint. There was no enjoyment of the image, no appreciation of the slice in time captured in the pixels on my screen, just envy.
‘Cause that’s just the kind of person I am.
I scrolled through the handful of photos he had posted on the gallery. Each one was not better than the one before. They were equals. Toweringly beautifully posed photographs ripped off shutterclick by shutterclick at some insane number of bangs per second, these were the keepers out of how many? A thousand? Five thousand?
“That bastard. That fucking bastard. Fuck. He is good.”
You’re so transparent
When people take pictures, when they write paragraphs, when they paint or sculpt or throw clay, they reveal themselves. The more you know about their craft, they more they show.
This dude’s autobiography was pressed into his gallery of nine images. All I needed to know about him, I learned in the hour or so that I studied those photographs.
Let me tell you these things about him. We’ve never spoken more than a minute or two with each other, and never about his photography.
- He’s a perfectionist. You won’t see his work until it’s ready. The vast majority of his work, although stunning to you, isn’t good enough for him.
- His photography doesn’t show people. It shows their character.
- There’s only one right shot of a given person at a given time doing a given thing. That’s the one he wants.
- He’s meticulous about his equipment, but he knows that it’s all in the eye.
- He believes that great photos can only be created with the proper foundation. He prepares and looks and thinks and chooses each vantage point with incredible care, and that’s the foundation upon which he builds each photograph.
- He hates what’s common.
- He believes that if you want to show different characters, even from the same person, you have to shoot different perspectives.
- He can’t take snapshots…he thinks and plans and angles and reflects too much to reflexively point and shoot.
- Every picture isn’t a painting. It’s a sculpture, crafted laboriously by hand, with much effort and furrowing of the brow.
Danny Munson, photographer to the wankers
If you’ve spent any time on CyclingIllustrated, you’ve seen Dan Munson’s work, and it has left you slack-jawed. The power, the energy, the dynamic pulse of the athlete leaps out from each image so strongly that you can feel the striations in the muscles. If you’ve spent time on his web site, it’s equally amazing. If you’re lucky enough to be his friend on Facebook, your cup runneth over with more than a thousand pictures to browse through, which are worth millions of words.
I’ve been lucky to work with one of the finest photographers anywhere, Ted Eubanks, who also happens to be married to my mom. However good you think you are, you’re not this good. Unless you’re Colin Finlay. Because if you’re Colin Finlay, you’re better than Ted Eubanks…as long as you’re not shooting birds, butterflies, dragonflies, or natural landscapes.
Like Colin, who I’ve never worked with, there’s another giant behind the lens who I’ve actually ridden bikes and drunk coffee with. That’s Greg St. Johns. What he does with a camera is another degree removed, yet again, from what normal people think of when they think of photography. Greg is the head chef at a high end image restaurant; a professional TV cameraman who nails incredible shots of the cast–stars and water carriers alike–in black-and-white when the mood strikes.
I’m going through this mental Rolodex of photographers simply because I put Dan Munson in their sector of the Venn diagram, where the edges of artist, genius, and amazing person all intersect to make a tiny little club built out of photography. The thing about each of these guys is that their photos move, and you’d think that Danny’s job, shooting bikers, would be the easiest one for capturing motion.
But anyone who’s tried to photograph a crit or a road race knows that’s not the case; it’s the opposite, in fact. It takes amazing skill to wind up with anything other than a frozen figure hunched over a bike going nowhere. It takes love and passion and intellect and strategy and compassion and risk to make an office park routine into what it really is: A gladiator’s arena filled with pain, danger, despair, humiliation, elation, risk, defeat, and victory.
He shares all of these things with us, and more. Thanks, dude.