Spoiling for a fight

May 19, 2019 § 14 Comments

Some people can’t get their day started right without a big ol’ confrontation.

I was sitting on my bike yesterday waiting for the Donut to start, idly and somewhat carelessly blocking the entrance to a coveted parking space in front of the Starbucks. On the one hand it was thoughtless of me to block it, but on the other hand it was pretty awesome because I was acting like a valet, saving the space for the next car.

As I chatted, the next car drove up and honked, the angry driver motioning me to get out of the way of his shiny, white, new Rage Rover. We laughed and moved, and as we did I imitated his hand-waving motion. I suppose it never occurred to him to roll down his window and say something like a human rather than blast on his horn.

Whatever.

For the next five minutes I kept yakking until the ride started to leave. That’s when I noticed that the driver had been standing off to my side the entire time, glaring at me. He was a short, pudgy dude with a scorched-earth hairline, and he was livid.

We made eye contact. “You think you’re so smart?” he snarled.

It took me a second to connect the raging dude with the Rage Rover. “What?” I said as riders slowly rolled by.

“You don’t know who you’re messing with,” he said.

“I’m not messing with anybody.” I clipped my other foot in, amazed that the guy had been standing there for at least five minutes. Why hadn’t he said something earlier if he were so eager to fight?

Then as various very large and muscled cyclists like Davy and Petrucci rolled by, I realized that he’d hopped out of his car eager to take on the skinny, aged smart-ass with twiggly arms only to find that he was in the middle of a group of about fifty well muscled mostly young people, any one of whom could have broken him in half with minimal effort, and all of whom seemed to know me.

Worse, no one paid any attention to him, further intensifying his pain at being small, slighted, and ignored. It sucks to stand there all puffed up, ready to take on your enemy, and have exactly no one notice. Foxy rolled by and took in the situation. “You touch him and I’ll kick your ass,” she said.

“You don’t know who you’re talking to,” he said again, begging us to ask.

“Whoever you are,” I said, “you still have to stand in line for coffee like everybody else.”

Unhappy Dude didn’t know what to say at the prospect of getting punched out by a woman or at being reminded of his ordinariness. He spun on his heel and stormed into the Starbucks.

“His dog is in for a rough day of it,” I said, and off we went.

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END

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Dropppppped!

December 30, 2018 § 5 Comments

I was talking to a guy at a post-Donut Ride pancake party. Pancakes after donuts are pretty hard to beat, especially when I didn’t even do the ride and therefore skipped the beatdown and went straight to the gluttony.

“This was my first Donut,” he said.

“Cool,” I said.

“Yeah, it is an awesome ride.”

“When did you get dropped?”

He was a bit taken aback, and almost, just a tiny bit insulted. “What do you mean?”

“At what part of the ride did you get dropped?”

“Dropped?”

“Yeah.”

He looked perplexed, as people do when they are trying to cram the squre peg of what they imagine into the round hole of reality. “I didn’t get dropped,” he finally decided.

“That’s cool. So you were first up all the climbs?”

“Well, no.”

“So when did you get dropped?”

“I was never really dropppppped,” he said, laying heavy accent on the “pppppp” syllable to distinguish it from the blunt, brutal, awful, lonely, humiliating variant, which is simply the curt word “dropped.”

Jaycee stepped into the conversation to help interpret. “What he means is, were you ahead of Pornstache? Or was he ahead of you?”

“Pornstache? He was ahead of everybody. I mean, he was by himself, way up there.”

“Okay,” said Jaycee. “So where did he drop you?”

“There were a bunch of people in small groups,” the guy said, struggling.

Jaycee and I looked at him. A couple of other riders came up and watched. Then he threw in the towel. “I got dropped the minute we hit the Switchbacks. I went backwards, man.”

I nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good place to get dropped.”

“But not dropppppped,” he hastened to add. “I never got dropppppped.”

“Of course not,” I said. “No one is ever droppppped. But everyone on the Donut except guys like Pornstache eventually get dropped.”

“Right,” he said.

END

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Kid stuff

December 22, 2018 § 8 Comments

It is easy to lecture people about being welcoming on group rides, but a bit harder to pull off in real life.

At the start of the Donut today there was a kid standing off to the side. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen, wearing tennis shoes, riding an ancient bike with toe clips, and sporting a wool jersey from the 70’s that said North Hollywood Cycle Club.

I saw him. Everyone did. But no one said anything as we leaned on our expensive bikes and chatted–and it was an intimidating crowd.

Jeff Mahin started the fun going out of Malaga Cove, and the hitters continually ground the field down. Dan Beam, Greg Leibert, Nick Bishop, Ivan Fernandez, and a couple of others continued the fun the first time up the Switchbacks to the radar domes. Wily Greek added some fun as I tried to hold onto his wheel, unsuccessfully.

The ride was so much fun that a lot of riders went home early; they had a fun quota for the holidays and exceeded it early.

When we hit Better Homes the fun started all over again, with Jeff throwing out fun bombs and many cratering under the hail of fun shrapnel. I had all the fun I could stand as we dumped out onto PV Drive, and the leaders rode away.

When we regrouped at the water fountain, the kid was still there, standing off to the side, completely ignored even though there were only ten of us. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“Noah,” he said.

“You are riding great. This your first time out?”

“No, my second.”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen.”

Suddenly everyone was listening. A rider came over and started talking to him. Another chimed in. We realized in unison that the only job in life that matters, being decent to young people who are trying hard, we had failed en masse. Some 17-year-old kid quietly, politely pedaling a 300-lb. bike with a pretty tough crowd … and no one had said a single fucking word to him. It hit us all at once.

But the tide had turned, and we had already begun making up for it.

The final climb up Via Zumaya Noah came rocketing past. “How much farther?” he asked.

“Ten minutes,” I said as he disappeared from view.

END

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Cookies, not donuts

August 11, 2018 § 7 Comments

Phil Gaimon showed up for the 8:05 ride at 8:04, showing knowledge of the South Bay ways, because at 8:06 you are officially chasing.

After some lighthearted smack talk with Phil, the Donut, which had swelled to well over 200 riders, hit Malaga Cove Plaza and it was game on. At some point it will be posted on Phil’s YouTube channel; check it out.

Innumerable riders were punched out the back right there, never to be seen again as they figured out ways to spin it for the mister/missus:

  1. I just wanted to say “Hi!” to my friends.
  2. Easy week.
  3. I didn’t really believe Phil would show up.
  4. I’ve been up since 4:00 and already have 50 miles and 5k feet on my legs.

I got dropped a couple hundred yards before the top but was able to suck wheel back to the peloton, where I sat and cowered until we got to the bottom of the Switchbacks.

Who came, who didn’t

Diego, the current holder of the Switchbacks-Domes KOM that Phil had come to take away, was otherwise occupied, as were numerous other South Bay hammers who suddenly had other things to do on Saturday morning.

Steadfast and tough riders like Rahsaan, Frexit, Attila the Hun, Chris Tregillis, Kevin Phillips, Ivan Fernandez, the Wiley Greek, Adam Flores, Steve Kim, Derek the Destroyer, Charon, and a handful of other South Bay regulars came to the festivities, but it had Saturday Morning Massacre written all over it from the word “go” as VC LaGrange and Subaru/Team Helen’s showed up with all guns firing, and Westsiders Rudy Napolitano, JJ, and a bunch of assassins I don’t know and never hope to meet again arrived in force.

That was tasty, may I have another?

We hit the bottom of the Switchbacks and with yeoman work from Chris Tregillis and much of the Subaru team, Phil & Co. vanished.

I got dropped at the very bottom, and reminded everyone of #4 above, loudly.

Phil coasted cozily down from the Domes, having shredded 30 seconds off the former KOM with a time of 11:39.

A bunch more hard riding ensued, the herd thinning with each acceleration. At one point going to the Domes I was in solid seventh, and then got mowed down by fifteen other actual bicyclists.

I hit it hard at the Glass Church, dragged a small group over the top, then got dropped when they put away the newspaper and pedaled.

At the bottom of Zumaya I was done, with 90 miles and 9k for the day. I’m not sure if Phil got that KOM too, as it was on his menu. I’d check Strava if I were on it.

The question of donuts v. cookies was put to rest though, with an iron stake driven through the heartless hole of our beloved Donut. It’s cookies, folks.

END

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The day the Switchbacks phell?

August 10, 2018 § 4 Comments

Tomorrow’s Donut Ride pheatures cookie monster Phil Gaimon, pitting the irresistible phorce of the cookie against the immovable object of the donut.

In other words, Phantastic Phil, chieph of the  SoCal Strava scalpers, will show up in an attempt to take the Switchbacks-Domes KOM away from Diego Binatena.

Phil has his work cut out for him, and not simply because donuts have historically proved superior to cookies in just about every meaningful metric: taste, density, sugar content, phat, and of course atherosclerosis.

Will Diego be there to dephend his title? Will Phil leave the peloton in a shambles? Can a cookie-powered former Pro Tour rider leave his stamp on the pride of the South Bay, that is, a greasy, sugary lump of phried dough?

We can dephinitively say absolutely yes no maybe.

Regardless, Phil will be bringing his cookie power to demolish that climb as well as the less legendary but in some respects more diphicult Via Zumaya KOM.

No one can say how it will shake out, whether cookies are powerphul enouph to conquer The Donut. But of this much I am sure: I’ll be shed long bephore the phireworks ever begin.

END

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Phun with Phil

August 7, 2018 § 5 Comments

Every Saturday morning since the late Ice Age, long before bicycles were invented, cyclists have gathered at the spot in the Riviera Village where there now stands a Starbucks but where used to stand a Winchell’s Donuts. The Winchell’s was torn down in a fit of health food fury and the grease-soaked, sugar-caked lard rings, and cheap coffee were replaced by a purveyor of finest healthy items such as the Starbucks Old Fashioned Donut, the Starbucks Frappuccino, and the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The donuts are long gone but the Donut Ride remains.

Greasiest Donut of the year

The biggest, oiliest, most sugar-infused Donut Ride of the year always occurs on the Saturday of Wanky Weekend, a/k/a the South Bay Cycling Awards, which beginning this year has combined forces with the All Clubs BBQ to bring together the best two aspects of bicycling: People eating food and not riding their bikes.

This coming Saturday rumor has it that Phil Gaimon will be appearing at the Donut Ride, rolling out at 8:05 pointy-sharp. Phil is the progenitor and grand master of Phil’s Cookie Fondo, the annual grand fondue held in the Santa Monica Mountains that attracts several thousand riders and the occasional 45-mph Santa Ana wind. The route is always beautiful, challenging, and filled with cookies, which nutritionists acknowledge as being far healthier than donuts.

West Side invasion?

Although they generally keep to themselves over on the West Side, having as they do PCH northbound and easy access to innumerable canyon climbs, a couple of times each year the fierce predators from “over there” make their way to the humble South Bay where they are promptly beaten into place, except of course for those times when they aren’t, which is usually.

Although Phil won’t be going for one of his famed KOMs on the legendary Switchbacks, I am pretty sure the pace will be sporty. It’s been over a year since Phil quit his day job as a UCI Pro Tour cyclist, but he still manages to pedal a bike okay. You won’t be able to say you beat him, and you may not be able to say you rode with him for very far, but you will be able to snap a few selfies and say, like I do, “Gaimon? Hell yeah. We used to ride together a whole bunch that one time.”

END

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The Quitnut Ride

June 23, 2018 Comments Off on The Quitnut Ride

The best thing about the Donut Ride is that like all group ride #fakeraces it is a brand new day. The sun shines. People mill around in front of the coffee shop commenting on each others’ new appliances.

“Hey, Wanky, is that a new frame?”

“No.”

“When did you get it?

“Last year.”

“I thought you rode a Cannondale.”

“I did.”

But more than wondering about frames and wheels, most of all everyone wonders, “When will I get dropped?”

Donut math

The Donut is pretty easy for me to figure out. If riders show up who I’ve never dropped before and who have always dropped me, then it is a certainty they will drop me again. I think all group #fakeraces are this way. For some reason, though, because today is by definition a new day, hope copulates with delusion giving birth to the fantasy child that the same thing that happened the last hundred times maybe won’t happen this time, too.

In addition to the boundless optimism of the Saturday Ride, the Donut has a tradition of new old people showing up. New old people are riders who used to ride the Donut and then quit. Some of them got jobs, some of them lost jobs, some of them had too many birthdays, some of them stopped having birthdays, some of them had a particularly memorable bicycle-falling-off-incident, some of them graduated from high school, some of them graduated from single life and some of them got promoted to single life, but for the most part they got tired of Donut comas.

The Donut coma is what you are left with after the Donut. It is only 48 miles and 5,000k of climbing but when you get home you have the thousand-Donut stare, the Donut droop, and you can’t do anything except stare at the tv, or in my case, if you don’t have a tv, at the wall.

Anyway, new old people continually pop up on the Donut. They are in town for a few days, or they dusted off their ’95 Colnago, or they decided to get in shape again, or they never got out of shape but have been living in Biloxi and are back in the South Bay on business/vacation/visiting family, and for whatever bad set of reasons they decide to come have a bite of Donut.

It is very bittersweet seeing these new old riders, like today when the Irish brothers showed up. On the one hand it makes you happy to renew acquaintances and see old friends. On the other hand it makes you sad to know you are going to rip their legs off or, in the alternative, that they are going to rip off yours.

Would you like the blood glaze or the puke glaze?

This morning it looked bad and got worse. Frexit was there, Alx Bns was there, Rudy was there, Fukdude was there, Hop-in was there, Surfer was there, and so were a bunch of other Donut aspirants. Lately the Donut has become so punishing that there is even a group of pre-Nutters, riders who used to always mix it up at the front who have decided that life is too short and there are too few Saturdays left to spend them drooling on a stem while gazing into the barely-covered butthole of some dude six inches in front of your nose for three hours.

I think we started a bit hot, as I was later told that we hit 37 mph launching through Malaga Cove Plaza to the base of the climb up to Pregnant Point, and Surfer, my partner in crime, set the fifth fastest time ever up to Bluff Cove, a 3-minute something effort.

A bunch of other things happened, none of which mattered, except that when push came to shove came to smash came to crush came to blow came to flail came to gasp came to drop, I watched Rudy attack our front group on the Switchbacks as Alx Bns, Strava Jr., and Fukdude pedaled away on the chase and everyone else self-immolated, me especially.

At the college preen point (you know, the part in every #fakerace group ride where people stand around and preen and flex and fluff), the 60-strong peloton was much depleted. I shrugged because it had been a tad sporty and there was for sure more sportiness to come, so I descended ahead of the group, something I like to do because bombing a 45 mph descent on a narrow, twisty, two-lane road with forty people barely in control of their bikes doesn’t seem like the rational move it seemed ten years ago, when you could literally watch your life flash before your eyes in slow motion as Prez took the final turn at 50.

I made the right-hander at the bottom of the descent and pedaled super slowly, waiting for the group to catch so we could throw another bundle of matchboxes into the furnace going through San Pedro.

The boys of summer had already gone

Unhappily for me, the group never caught. That’s because with the exception of Frexit, Joe, John, Chris, Luke, and Kristie, everyone else quit and went home, which is the first time that an entire Donut Ride has simply folded its cards and quit.

The seven of us finished the ride, and when I got back I texted a few friends, not that I have any. “WTF happened?”

“That shit was too hard.”

“I got a flat.”

“I am too full of beer and sloth to hang these days.”

“Only one climb in me today.”

“I went pop early.”

“Fuck you.”

And etc.

Evens and John van Gilder took turns smashing our faces in for the rest of the ride. In other words, another Donut fried and glazed to perfection.

END

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