April 25, 2018 § Leave a comment
Another Telo went off last night. There is something weird in the air or maybe in our water bottles, because tonight’s Telo was the biggest I can remember in ten years. What a few years ago was tagged, put in the cooler, and later autopsied (the heart and lungs donated to those needing a transplant, the rest of the body donated to science, and the brain thrown away due to its small size and surfeit of abnormalities), has come back like one of the Undead.
- Racing ain’t dead.
- If you take pictures of it and post them on the Internet, they will come.
The last three weeks have seen successive growth in racer turnout. There were forty racers all in all, including at least four women. The big pack has transformed Telo from a training crit into a bike race. Unlike the typical Telo edition, where Evens Stievenart rides everyone off his wheel, or whittles down the field into a tiny break and crushes his breakmates in the sprunt, today and last week there was actual racing involved with lots of racing stragety.
Although the 39 members of Team Lizard Collectors were unable to deny victory to arch-rival Methods to Whining, TLC mounted a number of valiant efforts which, at one point, forced MTW ninja-of-the-peloton Destroyer to single-handedly pull back a lethal TLC combo of David Ellis, Greg Seyranian, and David Wells. TLC refused to chase its own teammates (whaaaaat???), and worker-bee Knuckles happily rode up to the front and blocked.
It was a beautiful thing to see a break with no MTW riders in it, and even more beautiful to see MTW chase hard, although in the end MTW rider Aaron Wimberly incinerated the field with a fierce sprint, finishing so far ahead it was like swatting a fly with a flamethrower.
One of the things contributing to the difficulty of Telo is the prevalence of Hop-in-Wankers, riders who get lapped, hop back into the peloton refreshed, and then lend a hand with occasional chases, not to mention acting as clogstacles on the last lap as they sprunt for 15th among the non-lapped riders. Some people don’t like the H.I.W.’s but I do: It’s a frigging training race and people get stronger when they get shredded, jump in, and then put down another series of hard efforts.
Avoiding clogstacles on the bell lap, and moving up through a field of gassed riders is also much easier than doing the real thing on race day, so it’s great practice.
Kudos to all who came out and raced, and kudos to Tom Duong and Yasuko Davidson, who spent the entire hour cataloging this nonsense. Most of all, kudos to Joe Yule, the guy who brought Telo back to life–all hail the mighty Junkyard!
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April 11, 2018 § 6 Comments
The history of Telo is a bit foggy, or rather windy. It has been going on for over thirty years. Fifteen years ago it sported huge turnouts of 50-60 racers every week, sometimes more. With the downward spiral of road racing, Telo completely died about four years ago, and so dead was it that I actually listed it as “R.I.P.” on my South Bay Rides page.
Then Grandpa Joe, Junkyard, the resident creative genius of the South Bay stepped in. With a little cajoling and a few exquisitely tailored, beautifully designed winner jerseys, he brought Telo back to life. There are few things as important to the development of grass roots racing as having a regular weekly training crit. Training crits give people a place to race during the week, give new riders a chance to learn under less pressurized circumstances, and impart a vibe of competition that is part of, not apart from, camaraderie on the bike.
This past week Grandpa Joe’s heart, after close to six decades of hard work, decided to take a few beats’ vacation, and next thing we all knew our spiritual leader was being whisked off to a hospital to have his ticker frozen, the jumper cables attached, and to hopefully have his battery restarted. Dire prognostications were made about the Man of Junk, the Big Banana, and we all began writing obituaries that began with “That tough bastard …” or “That sonofabitch …” or “Who’s gonna design my kits NOW?”
Fortunately, they got the right ends of the cables hooked up to the right battery terminals, and after scraping off a whole bunch of battery acid and a few false starts, Junkyard’s battery was completely recharged. There was concern about lasting damage to the fermented brain lodged in Junkyard’s sweat-lodge of a cranium, but his first words were “I’m selling all my bike shit and spending the rest of my life wandering through museums!”
Relief was all we could feel hearing these oft-repeated words, uttered every time he regained consciousness in a hospital, because it meant for sure that he was not more than a month out from doing NPR, and two, perhaps three from suiting up at Telo.
Last night we had a massive turnout in his honor. The field was littered with hitters, and it took about forty riders to keep Evens in check. At the end, Methods to Winning demonstrated a method to winning, i.e. start your leadout with Destroyer, then follow it with Hair, then with Youngdude, then Rahsaan, and then put E.A. Sports, Inc., in the closer slot. Of course, even though it wasn’t the third quarter, he closed. Or rather, slammed the fuggin’ door shut.
I staggered home to lick my wounds. Another windy beating. Another vicious mauling. Another day of infamy metamorphosed into an evening of despair.
Another Telo. Thanks, Junkyard.
Pro photog photos courtesy of Yasuko. Video stills by Joey Cooney. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
March 28, 2018 § 2 Comments
Great night of racing at the Telo training crit last night, filled with action and #faketactics. Smasher smashed away from the field about halfway through and was never caught despite the disorganized and haphazard efforts of the chasers, who included Heavy D., Tony Wang, Shiftless, Dr. Whaaaat?, Hair, and me.
Cameo appearances by Prez, Wily Greek, and Junkyard enhanced their own personal fun of getting kicked out the back and fighting the 20 mph headwind alone for an hour.
Team Lizard Collectors used its four riders in the chase to perfectly set up Hair, who rides for Methods to Winning, for the field sprunt, which he easily nailed as the Lizards shouted at each other, watched Heavy D. ride randomly, and vigorously chased down each other’s attacks.
It never occurred to the Lizards to take turns attacking Hair, who happily sat in while watching his chances go from one-in-six to 100%. Smasher was awarded a coveted loaf of bread for his efforts. Hair, who got second, got nothing, and I, who got third, got the best prize of all: A ride home.
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May 3, 2017 § 22 Comments
President Trump promised to Make America Great Again. Well, so far at our Telo Tuesday fake crit he sure failed. He not only failed to make America great again, he couldn’t even get the stars ‘n stripes on the fuggin’ podium.
Those honors went to Potatoes Julienne (FRA), Frexit (FRA), followed by Smasher (UK), who is possibly a UK/USA double agent as he rides under dual passports. The First American wasn’t great, and he certainly wasn’t great again. Instead he was leaky, creaky, aged, infirm, wobbling, plodding, doddering, muttering, and badly in need of a diaper change.
In other words, I was fourth again. Was that our president’s election campaign slogan? Make America Fourth Again?
I think not. Not even close.
Anyway, the build-up to the fake race was intense, starting with the morning NPR line-em-up-and-knock-em-down brawl that claimed the nutsack and ribs of Junkyard, and left thirty yards of skin on the asphalt, most of which belonged to P. Jones, a/k/a Crusher. Uncle Junkyard was unable to attend and hold up lap cards due to prescription-strength painkillers, however, the tension was extreme thanks to a high quality video production created afterwards by Heavy D.:
Last week I had been given two key pieces of advice from riders I’ve never beaten:
- Don’t attack at the same place every time on the course from the front, dummy. (Courtesy of Eric A.)
- Don’t tell people your legs are good when they ask, dummy. And at least put your money in a savings account where you get one percent instead of zero in checking, dummy (Courtesy of Derek B.)
The race started rather briskly, with a series of early accelerations softening up the already soft field for the decisive beatings administered sometime around Lap 5 that permanently shed large chunks of the aspiring hopefuls and sent them to bed without any BonkBreaker.
Then there were more accelerations. A dangerous move evolved with Eric and Derek (rhymes), Smasher and Frexit. However, the super dangerous move was made on Lap 2, when Potatoes Julienne attacked early and rode away.
Unwilling to tow everyone around all day, Frexit allowed the break to come back. I’d been crushed and fermented back in the second chase group and was only dragged back up to the action by the head-banging of Daniel Park. Daniel is a junior rider who is getting better every week, unfortunately. He rides aggressively and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the wind.
Eventually Frexit and Smasher got tired of waiting for the group to chase down Potatoes Julienne, so they launched and I rolled with them. “Rolled” is a cool way of saying “I thought I was going to give birth to various internal organs.”
We had a most excellent trio and after my heart rate settled down to 210 it wasn’t that bad. Then I noticed that Smasher was skipping pulls. Then I noticed that Frexit was slowing down. “I wonder what that’s all about?”
You see, I had been really happy there with my two good friends, pedaling along, happily enjoying the sensation of being in the chase that was going to bring pack Potatoes, and generally enjoying the good friendship and camaraderie of a breakaway. So what if I was pulling a little bit longer and harder into the gnarly 1,000 mph headwind? Isn’t that what good friends do?
Yes, it is.
Until you remember that in bike racing there are no friends, only vicious slit-throats who despise your very existence and seek to castrate you quickly before moving on to the jugular. I swung off just as Smasher smashed, with Frexit in tow. “Hey, fellahs!” I shouted. “Wh-wh-wh-what about m-m-m-me?”
The answer was the howling wind.
The pack caught me after a bunch of lonely laps and a short-lived bridge ‘n batter with Jon D. Absorbed by the group I looked around at all the riders who were going to beat me in the sprunt.
“How are the legs?” Derek asked.
“Terrible,” I said.
“Good answer,” he said. “You’re learning.”
Then instead of rolling to the front and attacking from the front in the same place I always did, I rolled to the back and attacked just before Turn 3, where no one ever attacks. Daniel went with me, and then brought us up to SB Baby Seal, who was in No Seal’s Land. The gap was large and Baby Seal’s flippers were going full paddle. I mean pedal.
As we hit the straightaway, Stathis the Wily Greek gave us the one-to-go signal. I think that’s what it was.
Now it was time to help Daniel hone his race skills. “Daniel,” I cursed. “You gotta pull here or they’ll catch us.”
He charged by, giving it his all, without checking to see if “they” were anywhere in sight.
“Good job!” I said. “Harder!”
He strained like a horse in the traces and tore it up along the backside, dragging me and Baby Seal through Turn 1 and into the ferocious windward side of Turn 2. “Way to go!” I said as I attacked and dropped him, and soloed in for fourth.
Fourth place, by the way, isn’t all that great. So Donald needn’t bother with any more of his Making America Fourth. I’ll settle for third.
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June 19, 2015 § 20 Comments
My way just happened to be wrong.
From the moment that Junkyard announced the creation of the Flog Ride, everything was messed up. First of all there was the name he’d given it, “Love and Thursday.” Then there was the length, only four laps. Worse, the first lap was neutral. To cap off the mess, we were supposed to descend with care, especially around the two hairpins.
With a little bit of effort, though, we got all of that fixed. We changed the name to the Flog Ride. We lengthened it to five, then six laps. We reduced the neutral section to the first 25 feet, and we descended the hairpins at the razor edge of physics where speed, friction, and tire pressure all come together in a terrifying blur of clenched sphincters.
It was glorious. We’d do the 25-foot warm-up and then hit PV Drive North full gas. The uninitiated were typically shelled in the first 500 yards. Those who managed to hang on for the first lap, survive the kamikaze downhill sweepers, avoid the peacocks wandering in the road, and keep from slamming into the side of fast moving traffic when we right-hooked back onto PV Drive North were reduced to puddles on Lap 2.
By Lap 4 there were never more than five riders in the lead, and everyone else was busted out the back and struggling around the golf course alone, in the dark, angry, hurt, broken, and wondering why they’d gotten up at 5:30 AM for a 6:35 group ride that had lasted thirty seconds.
Each time up the 7-minute climb was a terrible infusion of pain, and hardly anyone ever came back to do the ride more than twice. The Flog Ride was the sadistic bully at the end of the block whose house you’d go three miles out of your way not to have to walk by. It was the barometer for how badly you sucked, how low your pain threshold was, and how poorly your self-image comported with reality.
On the plus side, the graduates of the Flog Class of 2014-2015 racked up wins at Boulevard and numerous other races. The fitness that came from doing six eyeball-extracting intervals was superlative; if you could do all six laps with the lead group and finish on the 20% grade up La Cuesta, you were race ready.
The fact that hardly anyone ever showed up was no problem. All it took was two other idiots bent on mayhem to get the training effect we sought.
The fact that dozens of eager riders showed up, got instantly shelled, and never came back was no problem. Welcome to life, suckers!
But despite the ride’s near perfection in every way, it did have one minor complication: In a few short months three riders went down in the hairpins, and thanks only to dumb luck, when they slid out across the yellow line there was no oncoming traffic. Had there been, people would have died or been catastrophically injured.
After the third bicycle falling off incident, we decided that no ride was worth this kind of risk, even though such a decision clearly called our insanity into question. The options were to cancel the ride or to modify it so that it comported with the wise architecture sketched out by Junkyard in the first place. So instead of racing up the hill and then racing back down, we raced up the hill and coasted down, taking the hairpins at slow, fully controlled velocity.
Not only were shelled riders able to regroup without racing down the descent, but slow coasting on the downhill meant that the uphill intervals were even harder, if such a thing is possible. There’s no way to make a bicycle ride safe, but sometimes you really can take out the sharpest fangs without killing the fun. Just don’t call it Love and Thursday.
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December 5, 2014 § 26 Comments
Rides come and go, mostly go. When the New Pier Ride was ruined by construction on Westchester Parkway, a new ride was subbed in. Dreamed up by local rider Junkyard, the new Thursday ride has now reached a point of such viciousness that its founder not only gets shelled in the first three minutes, but it’s gotten so hard that he can’t even get out of bed.
Now that, friends, is a hard bicycle ride.
The Thursday ride leaves at 6:35 AM sharp from the fountain in Malaga Cove. The route is simple:
- Right on PV Drive.
- Right on Paso del Campo.
- Right on Via Campesina.
- Right on Via Chico, through the arch, and back to PV Drive.
- On the sixth lap, left on La Cuesta, where the ride terminates at the top and you vomit.
- Back to Riviera Village for coffee and lies.
The awesomeness of the ride is expressed by the fact that it immediately starts with a climb, so people immediately get shelled. No imagining, no hoping, no fantasy that you actually had sort of a good ride. You start and if you don’t have the legs you’re gone. There is something beautiful about this type of summary execution, where the usual habit of lingering, wheelsucking, and flailing by at the end becomes a nasty sort of trial, judgment, and punishment within the first few hundred yards.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there because the beginning climb isn’t that steep, and the following climb up around the golf course isn’t that steep. So with practice you can get strong enough to hang on, although the humiliation and crushing sense of defeat that comes from getting repeatedly shelled the first few times you do the ride is usually enough to make people go away and never come back. The net effect is that after a few laps are three groups.
- Stathis the Wily Greek.
- Everyone else.
- The fragments.
But it gets better because there are no stoplights. On the NPR, indeed every group ride in L.A., the ride is controlled partially by stoplights, and largely by stoplight whiners. Essentially, when you’re off the front on the NPR with one other wanker and you have a pack of 85 chasing with a tailwind and you’re pedaling harder than teakwood and you approach a red light and you run it, at the end of the ride all the wheelsuckers and never-seen-the-fronters and wait-til-the-end-sprunters and why-are-we-hammering-it’s-Novemberers will berate you for scofflawing. Never mind that there was never any danger, and never mind that the whiners are the very people who will pull the craziest death-shit in the middle of a pack fighting for a wheel. The point is that they want to detract from your awesomesauceness and your heroic brokeaway antics. Plus, they’re pissed that their sprunt didn’t count because you had already crossed the imaginary line in a fantasy victory.
Not so with the Thursday ride! There are no stoplights to run, only stop signs, and the stoplight whiners never, ever, ever show up for the ride. It’s like killing two birds with one stone, then fricasseeing them and eating them for dinner.
The ride offers up lots more goodness, for example racing tactics. There is always one idiot or two who will attack from the gun and establish a healthy gap. Said idiot, who often writes a daily blog, then gets reeled in and crushed. But rather than simply floating to the back to regroup and attack again, the torrid pace and the constant rolling climb punish the would-be attacker to such an extent that the next hard acceleration, typically unleashed by Derek, or by EA Sports, Inc., or by 26, obliterates the hangers-on so that Sausage, Spivey, Fireman, and I wank along until they shell me, too.
In short, you can get all the misery and failure of a race every single week without paying a nickel or driving a mile.
But wait, there’s more! Repeat riders get stronger (can you imagine that?) so the ride gets even harder. 26, who never finished without getting shelled, put the wood to everyone yesterday. When a big boy like that gets as comfortable on rolling power climbs as he is in sprints, it’s going to mean mayhem.
Best of all, with the exception of the time that Sausage got dropped, turned around, and hopped back in with us as we came by, there is no cheating. Once you get unhitched, you’re on your own to struggle and suffer and try to catch the little red blinking light in front of you. Or you pair up with another wanker and suffer in tandem.
The ride is short; just under one hour long, and after finishing the climb on the last lap you jog left and go up La Cuesta. It’s only a little more than a quarter-mile long, but at 12 or 13 percent it feels like a light-year. Now if we can just get the ride’s founder to start showing up again.