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.
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.
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.
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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