Stuff you don’t need

November 2, 2019 § 8 Comments

There are many benefits to car-ditching and riding your bike mostly everywhere. One of those benefits is realizing how useless most bike stuff is.

When you ride your bike to get around instead of for fun, it quickly becomes a pain in the ass. Before you go anywhere, especially when you live at the pinnacle of a 2-mile climb that REQUIRES YOU to go up Basswood/Shorewood, you carefully analyze a) whether you really need to go, and b) whether you need to bring the things you are thinking about bringing.

As a leaky prostate ex-masters racer-turned-commuter, you quickly learn that you don’t need all of the essential stuff. This morning we went to the Eliel Burrito Ride, a kind of bacon-and-egg precursor to the Nosco Ride tomorrow, and yes, we went in a car, and no, I didn’t drive, and no, IDGAF if you think that’s cheating, Gus.

I took my commuter bike which doubles as my BWR DNF bike. I took it because the Burrito Ride was only thirty miles and I can ride it with tennis shoes, which means I don’t have to travel with two entire wardrobes. The ride was amazing and fun, but below is a list of useless bike racer shit you can leave at home unless you are racing, doing some gnarly ride, or going to a costume party.

  1. Tight jersey. These make you look fat and they are uncomfortable. You don’t need them when you are riding 15 mph and chatting with ex-pro Brad Huff. Opt instead for: Floppy wool jersey or t-shirt or tank top.
  2. Cleats and ballerina slipper bike shoes. These hurt your feet and ruin the best part of the ride, which is the pre-and-post when you are standing chatting or walking around with a burrito and beer in each fist. Opt instead for: Sneakers that let you look normal, walk normal, easily hop on/hop off, and don’t sound like a herd of reindeer on a glass floor.
  3. Helmet. Okay, I admit I wore mine but only because it was going to frighten all the children if I didn’t. Opt instead for: Jaunty cloth cap or flowing locks if you have them.
  4. Barbie food. This stuff is good in a pinch on the Pacific Crest Trail when you’re out of food and about to eat your dog, but for 99.9% of all rides you don’t need gels, Gu’s, electrolytes, electro-shocks, whatever. Opt instead for: Two hydrogen atoms for each atom of oxygen.
  5. Tights. More vaso-constriction down there, pain to the soft parts, and a major hassle to remove quickly when your prostate starts to leak. Opt instead for: Pants, short when warm, long when not.
  6. Fast tires. Studies show that you can’t go fast with a flat tire. Do you really need the Vittoria Paperthinz made of silk and hummingbird feathers? Opt instead for: Gatorteeth Heres-da-Beef commuter tars, 75-psi, lined with Kevlar, and studded with more thick ribs on the tread than a Trojan.
  7. $7000 e-drivetrain. Sure, the new 13-speed e-Tapped that now lets you roll a 9-tooth cog with a 54-tooth chainring is sexy. Not. Opt instead for: Mechanical shifting which always works. Sexiness points if you can do it with downtube shifters. Break-the-Stravver points if you can do it with a lever to manually shift your Campy front der.

There ya go. Yer now ready to actually enjoy yer ride!


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Burrito warm-up

April 14, 2018 § 10 Comments

I got an email from Ryan Dahl of Wend Waxworks inviting me to a Friday morning burrito ride in Carlsbad, CA. The main point of the ride was to showcase how few people in North County San Diego have jobs, because what I thought would be a handful of folks turned out to be a gang of riders 140 strong, none of whom was in much of a hurry to do anything except pedal leisurely up and down the coast.

Eliel bike apparel and a little-known component manufacturer named Campagnolo sponsored the ride, which, with the BWR coming up in a few hours, made the whole thing feel like a convict’s last meal. One of the Campy guys and I talked about the old HQ in Houston back in the 80’s, there at the corner of 610 and US 59. “I still have my catalog from the Houston days,” he said with a laugh.

Today’s ride launched from the Campagnolo headquarters, and just across the way from Canyon Bicycles USA, where the Belgian Waffle Ride takes place on Sunday. The weather was spectacular, the free cold brew coffee was smoother than a waxed back, and the pace all the way to Torrey Pines was, amazingly for San Diego, not torrid.

Enjoy today because Sunday will be hell

Mrs. WM and I drove down with Jay-Z, who graciously chauffeured us in her Rage Rover. As we rolled out, there was one dude in our group who was 100 years old and riding without a helmet. “Can you believe it?” Jay-Z said. “That guy doesn’t even wear a helmet.”

“I guess if he has a bad accident he won’t live to be a hundred,” I said.

This was Mrs. WM’s third group ride and we had to hustle to stay with the group. Even though it was a “slow” pace, people were getting punched out the back, proving that slow is the most relative of words when you are in San Diego County.

When we hit the bottom of the legendary Torrey Pines climb, Jay-Z pulled the plug. “I’m saving for Sunday,” she said. “I’ll wait for you guys down here.”

We got to the top and started down, when the cap to Mrs. WM’s toolbox flew off, bouncing out into traffic. In the time-honored cyclist tradition of “save the $10 item at the risk of getting killed by oncoming traffic,” Mrs. WM leaped off her bike and immediately showed the life-saving skills of riding with sneakers instead of clip-in pedals.

Whereas a properly styled cyclist in shiny new cleats would have clattered out into the lane and promptly been run over by a truck, Mrs. WM sprinted out of the blocks, scooped up the irreplaceable Ming Dynasty toolbox cap, and sprinted back, avoiding death by a whole one or two feet.

At the bottom of the climb, Jay-Z was nowhere to be seen, validating the most important rule of cycling: Always wait for your friends unless a big group comes along offering draft.

15 + 15 = 60

Although it was a mere fifteen miles out, the exactly retraced route back was more than twice as long owing to something known as “howling headwind.” I eventually pulled over to call Jay-Z, worried because she was nowhere to be seen.

“We are about 15 minutes back,” I texted.

My phone rang immediately. “Wanky!” Jay-Z said. “Where are you?”

“About 15 minutes back.”

“Cool. I’m with Hector. We’re going really slow, about 18, Hector says you’ll catch us in no time.”

“No time is about right. We’re going 15-ish.”

“Okay!” Jay-Z chirpily said.

I shrugged and hung up. After a very long time we got back to the Campy HQ; Jay-Z was waiting for us on the corner with a giant grease smear on her thigh. I have seen lots of chain ring marks on calves, but this was the first time I’d ever seen an Exxon Valdez-sized oil spill on someone’s thigh. Thinking it might be intentional, like a gang sign or something, I didn’t say anything.

Burrito heaven

The folks at Campagnolo provided free burritos for the entire 140+ riders, and since the average biker can eat about three burritos, my arithmetic showed that they made over 10,000 of them. A good portion of the riders were doing the BWR in two days, and everyone seemed subdued as they thought about the rigors that awaited.

After enjoying our lunch, Jay-Z pointed the RR back north towards L.A. We reminisced about the makeup Wafer ride last year, site of the amazing adventures of the Bobbsey Twins, who had had mechanical and physical failures of epic proportions. Mrs. WM sawed logs in the back seat as Jay-Z and I plotted BWR stragety.

“I’m gonna go slow,” she said.

“I’m gonna go slower,” said I.

“I’m gonna enjoy the scenery,” she said.

“I’m gonna enjoy the snacks at the aid station,” said I.

“I’m not gonna bomb the descents,” said I.

“I’m gonna walk them,” said I.

“I think we got this shit figured out,” she said.

I nodded in assent.



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