February 13, 2016 § 21 Comments
There are a lot of people who refuse to ride the Tuesday/Thursday NPR here in LA because it’s dangerous. I can’t say whether they’re right or not, but there have been some pretty gnarly falls, most recently when a cager rear-ended a rider who was changing lanes.
Even when it was the Old Pier Ride, or OPR, it had a fair number of falls. I remember one in which some UCLA wanker took out about thirty-eleven riders.
The worst trait of the NPR, though, has been the habit of a handful or riders to run the red lights on Westchester Parkway. Although that had nothing to do with the recent car-bike collision, the tendency of one or two riders to bust through the lights meant that sooner or later someone was going to get hit by car-on-green-pegging-bike-on-red.
Although I was never the worse offender, for years I treated the signals as suggestions rather than imperatives. If there were no cars I kept smashing, especially in a breakaway where there were only two or three other riders anyway.
To her credit, Suzanne Sonye never tired of calling out the red-light runners, even when it got her a lot of unpleasant blowback. Eventually I had to concede that she was right, and began stopping at all the red lights. The most notorious red-light runner no longer rides, and so these days the NPR follows two basic rules.
- Stop at the red lights.
- Wait for traffic to clear before making the u-turn to do the next half-lap.
It’s a much better ride as a result. We have Suze to thank for it and now the really good riders who show up stop at all the lights, so the rest of us hackers have no excuse not to do so as well. It’s an example of how a group with major scofflaw elements can be tamed.
Then one Monday a couple of weeks ago an LAX cop showed up at Helen’s Cycles in Manhattan Beach. The cop spoke with the manager, long-time NPR rider Daniel Bonfim, and asked a bunch of questions about the group.
The next day, when the group left the alley and got on Vista del Mar, they were surprised to see this.
Incredibly, the cop had shown up to escort the group, and along with his flashers he had tacked a giant 3-feet-please sign on the rear and right side of the patrol car. The effect on the morning traffic was amazing. Rather than having angry and impatient commuters buzzing the group within inches, people gave a wide berth and passed slowly. And (surprise) no one even thought about running a red light.
The cop has shown up each Tuesday and Thursday, and may be well on his way to becoming a permanent assignment. Of course, his presence hasn’t been without issue. This past Tuesday he stopped while approaching an intersection to give us safe passage, but there was a parked truck on the right that created a narrow bottleneck. Much yelling and brake-grabbing ensued, as you’d expect from a gang of wankers, but no one went down or even got bumped.
There are a couple of other things, such as having the cop car go ahead of us and clear the turnaround rather than hanging at the back when we turn. It’s only a matter of communication, though. The cop is friendly, rumor has it that he’s a tri-dork, and he is following the attacks and accelerations with the interest of a spectator as well as an official, i.e. he appears to know what’s going on.
Of course some people don’t like the po-po no matter what they’re up to. I’m not one of them. Hats off to the LAX police, to Helen’s Cycles for coordinating with them, and thanks for giving us protection rather than writing us tickets.
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October 9, 2012 § 10 Comments
I can say anything I want about Suze because we once had a big ol’ fight and talked more trash about each other than two rednecks getting divorced and arguing over who gets the half of the trailer with the leaky waterbed and broken TV, and who gets the set of false teeth.
Our spat happened like this. It was on the Pier Ride. The Old Pier Ride. Every single time I’d run the red lights going out on Admiralty, Suze would yell at me, which would make me run more lights, which would make her yell at me more. You get the picture.
This particular day, after running all the red lights and dragging the peloton along with me, we were half-pedaling up Pacific and I saw her out of the corner of my eye and gradually kind of half-chopped her wheel. Just a little bit. Enough to say, “Fuck you,” and enough so that if she hadn’t been paying attention she might have found herself in difficulty.
“Wow, what an asshole!” you might say.
“Are you fucking kidding me? You douchenozzle!” you might say.
“What a despicable, walking, talking, sack of human excrement you are!” you might say.
And you’d pretty much be right.
Save your Cat 5 tricks for the Cat 5’s
One thing about Suze is that she’s always on guard. That’s because people have been taking cheap shots at her for decades, especially lame-ass guys who are mortified at getting their dicks stomped by a biker chick.
Suze saw my cheap shot long before it got anywhere near her front wheel, and easily slid off to the side with nary a ruffled feather, but now she was pissed. For the rest of the ride she stuck to my wheel, and I got the message. “You’re never getting rid of me now, wanker.”
So when we hit the Parkway I made up my mind to get rid of her. Gave it everything I had…no luck. Hit the turnaround and drove her over to the curb…yawn. Sprunted out of the saddle to dust her on the rise…nuh-uh…there was the shadow of her little pigtail, bobbing along right in my draft.
Slow down, speed up, jump off to the left, hug the curb to the right, thread spaces that didn’t exist, open up every jet I had, scrub her off by attacking up the gutter, pull every lame move I knew short of slamming on the brakes.
Nope, nope, nope, and nope. She tailed me all the way to the finish, and made sure I knew it as she whizzed off to the right on Pershing at the end of the ride.
The Cold War
From that point on we behaved as enemies. She defriended me. I talked trash. She ignored me. I ground all the enamel off my teeth. She commented that I was a stupid lawyer. Everyone agreed (me, too, actually).
Somehow, we started talking to each other again. Then chatting. Then smiling. Then one day, when I had swung off, gassed, rocketing backwards and about to get dropped on the climb up to Trump, I felt a strong hand on my ass and heard a little “Umph” sound. It was a track throw, strong, straight, and powerful enough to sling me back onto the tail end of the snake.
I glanced back at the rider who’d pushed me, and who was now dropped from that last full-on effort to help a struggling rider.
It was Suze.
Best rider in 2012
Suzanne is the South Bay Rider of the Year for lots of reasons. First, she won the poll unanimously. I was the only voter, and frankly, she was the only candidate. It was one of those Soviet-era elections, where the winner, again by a 100% majority, is Joe Stalin, and if you don’t fucking like it, you’ll be taken out, lined up against a wall, and blogged about.
Suze isn’t a recent convert to cycling who just happens to be talented and fast. She’s been racing for 31 years and has raced against and raced for some of the greatest cyclists in the history of the sport. The pinnacle of her pro career was racing three years for Saturn, the #1 UCI-ranked team in the world.
Think about that the next time you’re polishing your third-place trophy in the Men’s 45+B cyclocross race.
At Saturn she learned from the best on the global stage. Ina-Yoko Teutenburg, Judith Arndt, Clara Hughes, Petra Rossner, Anna Wilson, Cathrine Marsal, Dede Demet, Nicole Reinhart, and Suzie Pryde were just a few of the racers with whom she trained and raced. She learned to ride out of her skin for her teammates, and found out that even though she wasn’t the most talented or deserving rider on the team, she earned her slot and she earned the right to keep it.
If you’ve ever watched Suze race, or watched her maneuver on the NPR, you’ll instantly recognize where she gets her world-class skills. Bumping and positioning among men twice her size and half her age, she’s always perfectly positioned, always knows the right wheel, and is always in the mix.
How many other 49 year-old riders, men or women, can say that?
Teaching through kicking your ass
If some people have a hard time getting along with Suze, it’s for this reason: Ask her a question, and she’ll tell you what she thinks. Or this reason: Do something stupid, and she’ll tell you what she thinks. Or this reason: Exist, and she’ll tell you what she thinks.
Suze has been with Helens Cycles for sixteen years, and 2012 is a fitting year to name her South Bay Rider of the Year because in addition to a string of impressive wins, it was her first full year running the Helen’s women’s program.
Working to achieve the goal of a strong women’s team is tough. Someone always wants to win, but in a highly individualized sport like road racing, the more competitive the race the more essential it is that riders work together.
Highlights in 2012 included winning the Brentwood Grand Prix at 49 freaking years old; placing 3rd overall at the Tour de Murrieta; watching teammate Shelby Reynolds win the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix; and most of all, being part of a team where people trust each other 100%. In 2013 the team will add Priscilla Calderon, and leg-breaker Emily Georgeson will graduate from the 3-4 team to the P/1/2 squad.
Learning through getting her own ass kicked
There are only a handful of South Bay women who can hang with the masters men racers when they’re going at speed. Suze is one of them.
In 2010, after returning to LA, Suze was dragging in the fitness and confidence departments. She didn’t believe that a return to the glory days was possible. With help and encouragement from wankers like Aaron, Victor, Rudy, Mike, Jay, Brenda, and most of all her mom, who kept asking people, “What’s wrong with her?” she found her legs again. And even though there’s the occasional lamefuck who tries to chop her wheel just to make a point, Suze will tell you that there are plenty of guys on the rides who push her to ride harder because they’re her friends.
I’ve learned first hand that underneath the toughness and the mad bike skills there’s a sweetheart of a girl. Lots of others have learned it, too.
When the ranks close
Of course it wouldn’t be cycling, and it sure wouldn’t be cycling in the South Bay, if there weren’t drama. People get mad, make up, then go off and get mad at someone else. And make up. It’s part of the scene. And it’s all good.
Except when it’s not.
One day on the Donut we were rolling up past Portuguese Bend. Some dude who no one knew was getting very attitude-ish. He was fit, fast, and had the best painted-on suntan in the peloton. As we rolled along the false flat he decided to move up. Suze was in his path. So he did what any jerkoff would do: He gave her a hard check, pushed her off her line, and told her to get out of the way.
In doing so, he broke the Rule of Davy.
This is the rule of the peloton that says “Thou shalt piss off anyone in the bunch as long as it’s not Davy.” The corollary to the Rule of Davy is the Rule of the Slowest Fuse, which says “Davy has the slowest fuse of any human alive and is therefore is almost impossible to piss off.”
Unless, of course, you fuck with Suze, with our Suze, in which case the slowest fuse in the peloton becomes a mildly excited 220-pound slab of chiseled steel. Davy never gets angry, but on this day he did get mildly excited.
Bullyprick suddenly found himself in the shadow of the man mountain, whose left arm lazily draped around Bullyprick’s shoulder. It was an arm larger than the trunk of a redwood, and adorned with a tattoo of a skull being pierced with a harpoon while being thrown to a shark in a volcano on top of a mushroom cloud.
“Dude,” Davy said. “If you do anything like that again you will not live to regret it. Because you will not live.”
Bullyprick stared several feet up at the somewhat smiling face of the man mountain and felt the forearm curling around his neck with the conviction of an iron noose. “But…ah…okay…sorry…” was all he could gurgle. And to his credit, it is awfully hard to argue your point when your trachea has been pinned shut.
We never saw Bullyprick again, and Bullyprick never saw Suze, because shortly thereafter she attacked and dropped him on the climb.
So the next time you see her, even though it’ll probably be as she recedes in the distance, take a minute to congratulate her on this coveted award. She’s earned it the hard way.
July 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
The New Pier Ride unofficial team kit is officially here!
You have seven days left to order! Click below to order now!
In 1987, a hardened group of dedicated triathletes including Marc Spivey began “The Morning Ride” in Hermosa Beach, leaving at 6:00 AM from Fleet Feet on Pier Avenue. The original course went out to Playa del Rey, through the Marina, and back again. As the ride gained popularity, cyclists began to comprise the majority of riders, and the triathletes went back to their solitary goofball ways, pushed aside by the true heroes of the road.
When Westchester Parkway was built, the ride added a lap on the Parkway, climbing up from Pershing, with a finishing sprint somewhere near the third traffic island on the return to Pershing. The ride retained this configuration for many years. At some point along the way the start time changed to 6:40 AM, most likely due to the laziness of the riders and the darkness during winter. Also, as the universe continued to pull all things towards its center, the starting place became the Manhattan Beach Pier. It picked up the moniker “The Pier Ride” as a result. Stubby McGee, the world renowned cosmologist has recently identified the Manhattan Beach Starbucks just up from the pier as the Center of the Known Universe, or CotKU, for short.
The Old Pier Ride has long been an LA institution, but it has also had a long list of drawbacks. The first drawback was the stoplights, which are numerous. The second was the narrow roadway along Admiralty and Washington. The third was the condition of the road surface, which was often atrocious. For lots of riders, i.e. the geri-wankers, the start and stop nature of the ride was perfect because it provided lots of chances to catch your breath, and there was rarely any fear of getting dropped…at least for more than a couple hundred yards.
Riders who were racing, or who wanted a more intense worked, or who lived in that sad dystopic netherworld of thinking they would one day race professionally in Europe, typically avoided the Old Pier Ride for the same reasons that other riders liked it: too many stops, too much wankage. No one ever joined the Old Pier Ride to get fit, or at least no one ever admitted it. Sometime in early 2011, the situation became dire. Long segments of Admiralty were torn up and covered with giant steel plates. Often, the fast stretches were a deadly mix of gravel, steel plates, and badly cracked asphalt. Even battle-tested LA riders, accustomed to bad streets, hairy traffic, hair-of-the-dog drivers, and soupy summer smog were starting to have nightmares about the ride.
In October or November 2011, long-time South Bay cyclists and Pier Ride wankers Doug Peterson and Trey Smith took matters into their own hands and proposed a new route, cutting out the marina altogether and concentrating the ride on Westchester Parkway, where the peloton would do four laps instead of one, with a single loop from Pershing up and over World Way at LAX. Everyone seemed willing to try it out, as Admiralty had become untenable for even the most die-hard OPR fans.
From its very first running, the new route was a success. The roads were wider, better paved, and had fewer traffic signal interruptions. The ride was smoother and the average speed was higher. Instead of being a marshmallow fest, the New Pier Ride became a dickstomp par excellence, with each edition of the ride resulting in citations for littering due to the dickage left in ruins along the Parkway.
The finishing sprint, which had been part of the ride for years, was safer because the four laps tended to tire riders out, leaving fewer people in contention. As word spread, more and more people began doing the ride, finding it to be a more consistent and better workout than the previous version. The New Pier Ride has become the de facto morning ride now for many riders in the South Bay.
The NPR Kit: Your Fashion Statement of Belonging
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
Joe Yule, Yule Design, StageOne Sports, and several dozen other major corporate entities operating underneath the Yuletide umbrella of cycling fashiondom, in conjunction with Wankmeister Industries, a global conglomerate of interlocking directorates that controls virtually every aspect of international finance and commodities, and which lurks behind most elections in the free world, have teamed up to create a cycling kit that supersedes, updates, modifies, replaces, and improves upon every other NPR kit that has ever before been conceived or produced.
Just in time for fall, you now have the chance to place an order for a limited time—seven days only—so that you can be one of the few, the proud, the unmistakable wankers of the LA cycling scene.
The features of this extraordinary StageOne kit, handcrafted in Italy, are outlined below:
1) Double-helix orgasmatron fiber weave: These kits are made from a unique, space-age fiber guaranteed to increase the length and intensity of your sexual climaxes, on the bike or off.
2) Sponsor highlights: The rear pockets of your NPR jersey will highlight the following companies who have done so much to make this ride a legend.
a) Sckubrats: The post-coital meeting place for every NPR, where the marginally employed will stave off bankruptcy for a few more days. Maybe. “Fuque Worque!” says the Sckubrats mermaid with her cycling helmet and middle finger pointed skyward.
b) RuggedMAXXX2: The world’s leading producer of herbal male enhancement pills, RuggedMAXXX2 has long helped NPR men, and their lucky women, enjoy the enhanced benefits that only come from a python-like organ.
c) Justim Stomp Boots: Each NPR combatant puts on his or her own pair of custom stomp boots prior to the CotKU meet-up, and Justim’s boots have special grooves in the sole to allow for extra stompage. Get your stomp on!
d) SPY Optic: The best eyewear on planet earth, allowing you to see each grinding blow as you crush the wheelsucks with your tremendous power.
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
This amazing kit’s components are as follows:
Incredibly amazing NPR short-sleeve jersey: This is rad and bitchin’. StageOne PRO cut slim and sleek to fight the wind and to encourage you not to have that third donut.
Incredibly unbelievable NPR bib shorts: No asscrack cycling shorts on the NPR, no sirree! You’ll pedal with your hairy bunghole covered up nice good with bib shorts, StageOne’s top of the line PRO bib.
Incredibly astounding NPR armwarmers: No more shuffling through your sock drawer trying to find a pair that match your kit. These match from the get-go!
Incredibly mindblowing NPR socks: When the wanker on your wheel is barely able to hang on, the last thing he’ll see is the cruel admonition on your socks for him to Go to the Front! Socks are white, and rad. Get a handful of these puppies, for sure!
Incredibly astonishing NPR tee-shirt: Apres-NPR, you’ll need this to wander around the house in, legs all buttery from the beatdown, even as you imagine your next heroic pull on Thursday. Made by Active-T, run by local Dutch dude Marcel Hoksbergen.
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
Please don’t fucking ask me about sizing, unless you’re going to get something for me. I wear a small jersey, medium bibs. Your size, and how StageOne correlates to your arms, ass, chest, breasts, thighs, pecker, etc. is a complete mystery to me, and always will be. That’s a good thing, unless we’re beneath the sheets together and trying to fit the round peg into the vertical slot. There’s a StageOne sizing chart on our ordering site, but if you’ve ever been able to shop using a sizing chart, you’ve probably also been able to assemble something from Ikea by reading the directions. Chapeau.
For those of you who want to actually come and try the stuff on to make sure that it fits you in all the right places, sample fitting kits will be available at the StageOne World Headquarters in Redondo Beach.
Please do your due diligence on this, but whatever you do, don’t ask me about it. I’ll shrug. If the stuff doesn’t fit, you’re hosed. I won’t take it back, offer you an exchange, help you change your baby’s poopy diapers, or listen to your rant. Go ahead and call me a cocksucking thief now, while we’re both in a good mood, and get it out of the way. Maybe you can pawn it off on some newbie sucker who’s doing the ride for the first time.
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
When you buy a really expensive new car, it comes with a warranty. In fact, you even get a warranty with virtually any bullshit appliance, even those rotary nose-hair clipper dealies. So if you want a warranty, go buy one of those items. This shit is bike clothing. Although I’ve worn the crap out of my StageOne pro stuff, love it, and have talked to numerous riders and racers who also wear it and love it, I can’t guarantee that this run of clothing will be any good. It may fall apart the minute you put it on, for all I know. So when the colors run, and the thread melts, and the fabric turns to linseed oil, don’t come running to me asking for a refund. I will tell you that you are hopelessly fucked and the money has already been sent to UPenn for my son’s sophomore year tuition.
On the other hand, I personally have huge faith in StageOne’s clothing products. They’ve stood up to bitter abuse and thousands of hard miles, and they remain as solid, well made, and comfortable as the day I first pulled them on. That’s the kind of quality you get out of Italian sweatshops that you just can’t get here in the good old U.S. of A. paying a humane wage to Americans. The 7-day workweek, child exploitation, and no minimum wage of the early 20th Century did have its benefits.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Wankmeister Industries and StageOne operate out of the smallest corner of a dimly lit basement, and they aren’t making squat off this deal, other than spare coffee money, the pride of seeing NPR worn by the LA wankoton, and the estimated $5.6 million in profits that we will reap from this incredible cash cow. We’ve already calculated that if we sell 2.3 million kits we will be able to break even, and with sales of 1.5 billion kits we will be able to retire by 2045. You’ll say you knew us when.
This is all a not-so-nice way of saying that you’ve bought bike shit before and been burned, or not liked it, or wanted your money back. Do yourself a favor if you’re really concerned about product quality and fit, talk to some of the riders who wear it, or better yet, don’t order anything. The riders you talk to will be brutally honest, at least in regard to those matters about which they’re not lying through their teeth. It goes without saying that if you change your mind after you’ve ordered, you’re hosed. No refunds, no changes, no exchanges, nil, zip, nada, nope, no way. Our tiny basement corner is going to be overflowing with shit in a few weeks, and I’ll be dogdamned if I’m going to crawl through the mountain of crap trying to see if I can swap out your male xxl bibs for an xxs ladies’ chamois. No can do.
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
How can a couple of marginally employed deadbeats like us offer you such an incredible deal? Simple, we put the risk on someone else, namely you. For a limited 7-day period you can go to shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR and place your order, paying up front for something you’ll have to wait two months to receive. After that ordering time elapses, it doesn’t matter how much you come running to me with your sob story about how you just found out, or your alimony check just cleared, or you thought you’d ordered it but when the peyote wore off you were naked, in jail, and couldn’t get to a computer…doesn’t matter.
I will tell you that the ordering period is closed, and I will make no exceptions. None. Ever. For anyone. Except a few people. This means you’ll have to watch all your happy friends pedal around the Parkway nattily attired in the coolest kit ever to hit the South Bay, and your only recourse will be to wait for the next ordering period, which could come as soon as September or as soon as never.
Once your order has been placed, and the order period has closed, you will have to wait. It will seem like forever or eight weeks, whichever is longer. You’ll be so tempted to email and text and call. “When will the kits be here?” “I paid like six months ago. Where’s my shit?”
Your inquiries will be placed in a small asbestos wastebasket and burned. I will not answer them unless accompanied by a service of process. This stuff will be ready in about eight weeks from the closing date, with “about” being the key word. We’re talking bike kits, folks, the one thing that no cyclist ever has been able to do on time except for Kevin Phillips. I’m not Kevin.
I know it’s hard to wait for something this awesome, this good, this incredible, when you’re used to getting your vibrator next-day-delivery from Amazon, but we’re cyclists. We are lazy. We’re only punctual for the NPR because it won’t wait. So you’ll have to suck it up and wait. We’re doing our best in between bike rides, coffee, and sleep, so instead of riding our asses for shit being late, buy us a free iced coffee and thank us for trying to make a quick buck off you, our friends.
Order Here, Now! shop.kitorder.com/StageOneNPR
If your life is like everyone else’s you have priorities. A priority is defined as that which you do before all else. The alternate definition is that which you’re supposed to do before all else, but in fact relegate until you’ve finished updating FB, checking the Tour results, and eating lunch. If you’re going to order one of these kick-ass kits, make it the first kind of priority. Do it now.