Old marines never die, they just dig in

August 27, 2016 § 4 Comments

I haven’t done Eldo in several years because it’s too far away in Los Angeles County miles. A Los Angeles County mile is unrelated to the standard English measurement of 5,280 feet. An LAC mile is measured not in distance but by the hour of the day.

For example, a Texas Panhandle Mile measured between Pampa and Canadian (this unit is kind of like West Texas Intermediate Crude, the world yardstick for oil), which is also 5,280 feet (the mile, not the oil), takes roughly one minute if you are traveling 60 miles per hour. There is some math here but I can’t explain it. Ask your father.

However, the same “mile” in Los Angeles County, although theoretically the same distance as a Texas Panhandle mile, changes drastically based on the hour of the day. An LA County mile between Palos Verdes and Long Beach on Tuesday around 5:00 PM has a time value of about 10 minutes rather than one.

I can’t explain that math either but I can explain this: I haven’t done Eldo in Long Beach in years because even though it’s only 20 minutes away measured in standard Texas Panhandle miles, it take about 300 years in LA County miles. Plus, here in the South Bay every Tuesday at exactly the same time we have the Telo crit which, I’m real sorry to inform you, is a lot fucking harder than Eldo. You can laugh all you want, but that just means you’ve never done both.

Eldo has gone through some changes in ownership, but what has continued without interruption is a first-rate bike race that stretches back decades. The difference in the new management and the old management is that unlike old management, there’s no screaming and cursing and hollering and berating, and more importantly it’s a USAC-sanctioned race where you can get upgrade points and huge bragging rights, and most importantly it attracts some of the best crit racers in SoCal like Charon Smith and Dave Koesel, and most-most importantly it has categories for Cat 4’s who can have their own forum for massive braggage and victory salutage and Facebag postage. Cf. Ivan Fernandez.

But most-most-most importantly, the Eldo Under New Management has, for the last three years, provided a forum for the development of junior bike racers, for which we have two people to thank.

One of them is Gil Dodson, a very old marine who is old enough to be your grandfather’s grandfather. He’s so old that when he takes off his helmet you wonder if he remembers the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But then he puts his helmet back on and drops about half the riders who are one-fifth of his age and you STFU. Gil’s foxhole buddy has been Steve Hegg, gold and silver medalist at the 1984 Olympics and current holder of the Genuinely Nicest Guy in Long Beach Award.

Gil has poured money into Eldo by paying for every single junior rider’s entry fee for three years and ending each season with a free bike frame giveaway to the junior at the top of the standings. It’s been a huge investment and it has paid huge dividends. Eldo provides the only regular venue for young riders to compete, earn upgrade points, and sharpen their skills before being tossed into the shark pit. Thanks to Gil, or rather no thanks to Gil, we now have a crop of young riders who show up at other group rides and smash their elders with glee.

The other person who has made Eldo a success is David Wehrly. Like Gil, he has provided significant financial support, without which the race simply couldn’t continue. Unlike Gil, Dave is so far in the background that you might think he’s with the Israel cyber ops NSO Group. But like all of the good works that David does, although he himself may be deep cover, the results and the beneficiaries are out in the open for all to see.

I’d better stop here. This is starting to sound way too happy.



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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.

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