July 2, 2018 § 11 Comments
I’ve long been telling people to ditch the lube and wax their chains, and not just because Ryan Dahl gives me free tubs of Wend chain wax, which he does. Nor is it mainly because wax has the least friction of any chain lubricant, or because it’s easy to apply, or because it smells good when you rub it on.
All of those reasons matter, but reason number one is that the chain is the bicycle equivalent of the sweaty, unshaven armpit. And what do we know about guys? We know that they can be taught personal hygiene up to a point, but no matter how fastidious the dude, there’s at least one part of his body that he doesn’t properly groom, whether it be toenails, ear holes, or the pocket of grease that grows on his back if he doesn’t scrub it with a wire brush. And if your guy doesn’t have at least one unmaintained problem spot, maybe it’s time ask yourself why you’re going out with him in the first place?
For the cyclist, whether male or female, the nasty nest is invariably the chain. Think about it.
Beauty and the beast
From its inception the traditional bike frame has been clean simplicity itself: Two triangles. Despite the slings and arrows of outrageous innovation, the bike frame always rebounds with a snap, like a released rubber band, towards simple design. The wires get tucked into tubes, then done away with altogether. The points where the tubes join become smoother and smoother until the seams are invisible not only to the eye but to the wind as well.
Bolts, extrusions of all kinds, anything that impedes the line of sight or the flow of wind gets smoothed, cleaned, buffed. Trending towards beautiful is even something that has always nudged bicycle clothing, never mind the ability of any 12-year-old with Photoshop to design a century ride jersey. Sleeves and leg cuffs are longer and tighter, collars are more flush, zippers recessed into their own mini-covers, sewn seams are flattened; even colors are becoming less jarring, designs more visually “aero,” if there is such a thing.
And none of this begins to touch on lids, boats, goggles, and mitts, all of which get smoother and more seamless and, like the look or not, prettier.
Except for the beast. The one place where filth, lumpishness, and unapologetic awkwardness reside, and have always resided: The chain.
Every modern or ancient society has its castes. For the bicycle, the untouchable is of course the chain. All who touch the chain become polluted, most typically the human calf. How many centuries, fondues, or even races have you joined where some proud cyclist, sleek and slim, every body hair carefully plucked, every carbon item made fully of carbon lovingly purchased and installed, Rapha-ized from stem to stern, sadly displays what Scott and Randy Dickson used to call “turkey marks,” those giant half-chain rings of grease tattooed on the right calf, or better yet, on the right calf and top of the formerly spotless white sock?
The chain ruins all beauty, all aero, all carbon effects, simply by its existence. Immune to color, attracted to the most horrible road gunk, and typically left to rot and gather filth until in a fit of despair the bike owner does a bi-monthly chain wipe or, in desperation, replaces the entire chain, it is this part of the bike alone that has always been the wayward sheep, the ugly duckling, the child headed for prison at age four.
This is why the Brazilian wax was invented, as a lady friend from Rio once explained it to me. “Man trim wild bush, get tall tree.”
Calling all beauty lovers
Cutting to that proverbial chase scene, Wend has solved the first of these first world problems by making chain wax. But then it went and did something more extraordinary by launching COLORED chain wax. You can now have the world’s cleanest chain always. The world’s lowest friction chain always. And finally, a chain that attains the Holy Grail of all cyclists everywhere: A chain color that matches your underwear clown suit.
All hail the mighty WEND!
Made in America. American ingenuity. Not on any tariff list promulgated by Team Trump. Please consider subscribing … Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
November 3, 2015 § 33 Comments
I went down to San Diego last Tuesday to get my legs plucked off by Ryan Dahl, among others. While we were sitting in the coffee shop waiting for the plucking to begin, we chatted a bit because once the ride starts the only conversations you’ll ever hear go like this.
“How’s it going?”
Ryan and I had been teammates on SPY, which is like me saying that I was teammates with Tom Brady because I bought a Patriots jersey. [Note: I had to close my eyes and strain for thirty seconds to come up with the name of a single famous football player who isn’t named Earl Campbell, and then another ten seconds of scrunched up forehead to remember Brady’s team.]
I had seen Ryan wearing a new kit called “Wend,” and had seen on the ‘Bag that he had a new bike shop called Wend, except from the Facegag pictures it didn’t look like one.
“So what is ‘Wend’?” I asked. “Facebag says it’s a bike shop but it looks like a candle factory.”
Ryan laughed. “No, it’s actually not a bike shop or a candle factory.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the family business. Wend has been making ski and snowboard specialty waxes for over forty years.”
“Then why were there a bunch of bikes turned upside down?”
“It’s a sideline I’ve gone into.”
“Upside down bike waxing?”
“Sort of. Do you know about using paraffin to lube your chain?”
Unfortunately, I did. The week before Fukdude had set the 40-y/o hour record at the Carson velodrome, he had given me a lecture about chain waxing. This was three years ago, and you had to send the chain(s) to a guy in Colorado who dipped them in paraffin and sent them back all waxed up.
“What the fuck for?” I asked Fukdude.
“Dude,” said Fukdude, “you fuckin’ dip your chain in and it saves 1.5 watts per mile. Fuckin’ glides over the teeth like a lubed condom.”
“How much does it cost for those 1.5 watts?”
“About $25 a dip.”
“How long does it last?”
“About 200 miles.”
“Ouch,” I said.
“I know. Fukkin’ expensive shit,” said Fukdude. “But I’m not gonna set up a fuckin’ crock pot in my bathroom and fuckin’ boil wax before every ride. Wife thinks the whole fuckin’ bike thing is fuckin’ crazy as it is.”
I relayed this to Ryan, who laughed. “We’ve kind of solved that problem. Let me send you a sample.”
The next day, after getting a new pair of legs at Legs ‘R Us, a package arrived. In it was a bottle of cleaner and a bar of roll-on underarm deodorant. I pulled off the cap and saw that it was actually wax.
Ryan had also sent a link to a YouTube video showing how to clean the chain and apply the wax. Apparently the whole process would take less than two minutes.
Calculating my usual ten-thumbs factor, I set aside four hours in the morning to get the job done, and another two hours I’d likely need to clean the wax from the sofa, toilet seat, paper shredder, and nose hair trimmer. Amazingly, the whole thing took less than two minutes, which is a lot less than it takes to kill the smell of my armpits:
- Wipe the chain.
- Roll the wax on the chain, just like you roll it on your armpit.
- Voila, your chain is now waxed.
I’ve ridden it twice now. My normally nasty and noisy chain is quieter than a Scientologist stalking a confused college freshman. This stuff is amazing. Plus, on my first Wend wax ride I almost beat Derek going up the Switchbacks.
No more lube for me, and after you use this stuff, it’ll be no more lube for you, either.
Note to readers: Ryan gives me all the free chain wax I can use, so factor that in when you’re evaluating the relative worthlessness of this review.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn how to stay waxed. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
November 24, 2014 § 23 Comments
Dear Miss Cyclocross,
I’m finally over you. I can’t handle any more of your abuse. Oh sure, it was fun in the beginning and yeah, we had a good run of three years together. But after a while having you push my face in the dirt and beat the crap out of me just wasn’t fun anymore. Every weekend it seemed like things would start out great, then you’d knock me down while your friends stood around and yelled at me and took embarrassing pictures of me all twisted up on the ground, then we’d get drunk, and then the next morning I’d wake up with pains in body parts I didn’t even know I had and bruises all over and a horrific hangover. You’d apologize and say that next time it wouldn’t end that way, but it always did.
And you were never a cheap date. I had to drive all over hell just to hang out with you, and when I did there were a couple other hundred guys — and girls — I had to share you with. I still remember when we started together and you were satisfied with my top-end machine. Next season you weren’t even glancing at anyone who hadn’t upgraded to discs. I hate to namecall but you are a fickle bitch. Every time I looked around it was $35 here, $35 there. That shit adds up.
And the food we ate when we were together wasn’t all that great, you know? The first forty times we snacked at some taco truck with a name like “Amos’s Fiery Anus Burritos” it was romantic, but after a couple of years it was mostly indigestion.
Sure, I met some cool people through you, guys like Phil Beckman, Dot Wong, and all those rednecks in Bakersfield who’ve never even heard of a good time that didn’t involve beating someone’s ass while standing around drunk under the scorching sun in a dirt field, but for the most part your friends suck just like you do. I mean, do you know how tired I got of having your stupid friends yell “Get out of the way, dumbass!” and “You belong in the beginners’ race, dumbass!” and “You crashed me out, dumbass!” My name isn’t dumbass. Got that?
Yesterday, though, I really knew it was over. You’d caught the eye of Derek, one of my best friends ever, and he was asking about you. I warned him that you liked it rough, but he didn’t care. He kept begging me to show him how to get off and I kept telling him you didn’t care how he did it but I finally showed him. Then he was asking me all these questions about how dirty were you, how hard would he have to go, etc., and I told him that if he wanted to run around with you he had better put in for the long haul because you were mean and a tough nut to crack.
Plus, he only had a rental.
But he begged me to introduce you to him and so I did. Beforehand you know what I told him? I said, “Dude, she is going to kick your ass.” He was pretty afraid of you after all I’d told him about all of your nasty tricks and what a vicious bitch you are.
“Which race should I do?” he asked me.
“Because you suck and she is going to stomp your dick very hard you should race the 35+B race. Start at the back so you won’t clog the turns and hurt anybody, and so you won’t fall off your bicycle. It will take a couple of seasons before you’re comfortable riding towards the front, if ever.”
Then on our first warm-up lap you knocked me down in one of the loose sandy turns and Garnet V. almost ran over my head. “Is that how you’re supposed to do it?” Derek asked me.
“Your turn is coming,” I said. And it was.
Pretty soon Derek’s race started and he won it. The next closest person was on a mountain bike and riding in a different race.
So, you humiliated me again, Miss Cyclocross. I won’t mention the fact that you let my pals Slasher, Ryan Dahl, Eric Johnson, David Anderson, Mike Williams, and Carey Downs all climb on top of you. But I will mention the fact that my neck and shoulder hurt like hell, that I can’t walk very well, and that I’m tired of being used. Plus, I can get a vicious hangover on my own.
Go ruin someone else’s life, Miss Cyclocross. Mine is in tatters.
October 7, 2014 § 12 Comments
Now that the ‘cross season is underway, we need to take a moment to do a sack check of who’s doing what to whom.
- The ‘cross stage is set for October 12, when the first SPY Cyclocross beatdown of 2014 will take place in Chino, which promises to be blistering hot, challenging, and the best excuse we’ve had all year to hang out with friends and drink copious quantities of liquid sandwiches. The SPY Cyclocross series is sanctioned by USA Cycling, which means that riders can earn points that let them stage towards the front of the field at nationals, rather than having to sink down to their necks in the mud and muck of 155th place at the starting line.
- You can’t talk about cyclocross in SoCal without talking about Ryan Dahl. He’ll be on hand at the SPY race in Chino, ready to dole out a major serving of whup-ass to anyone in the 35+ A category. He’ll be joined by David MacNeal and Garnet Vertican, two cyclocrossers who have been on exceptionally good form. However well any of these wankers do, I plan to drink them under the flyover afterwards.
- Talk of cyclocross naturally leads to conversations of insanity, poor judgment, and the 2015 most-likely-to-die-on-a-bike award. This, in turn, leads to discussions about the recent KOM set by the Wily Greek on Tuna Canyon. For those who aren’t “in the know,” Tuna Canyon is a very long, exceedingly steep death-climb in the Santa Monica Mountains that can only be climbed on a narrow, twisting road while salmoning. Half the achievement is doing the climb, the other half is not getting splatted by terrified motorists in full sphincter-clench mode who see bicyclists going the wrong way up the one-way road. Anyway, it’s a legendary climb and Wily has carved his initials on that particular mule’s behind.
- Local South Bay wanker Carey Downs a/k/a Tumbleweed pulled off his first ‘cross win of the year last weekend in Long Beach, beating a field of dead people in the 55+ category. He received the much sought after Long Beach victory cup, a chalice filled with mercury, cadmium, and a choice selection of other minerals found in the local water supply.
- No South Bay form report would be complete without an update on the status of Prez, recently returned from a grueling work schedule just in time to miss all the races and begin training for the high point of his year: The off-season of 2014. He’s already begun gym workouts, track sessions, and 140-mile fatburner days in the big ring, and judging from the 347.9 donuts he was carrying in his skinsuit when I saw him on Sunday, he’ll need every one of those miles and then some. Of course it has been a sad and boring year on the local group rides without Prez to run into the occasional parked car, but his return will keep everyone on their toes. Welcome back!!
PS: Don’t miss any of the races in the SPYclocross Series — details below.
April 25, 2014 § 20 Comments
There are three things that make a course: the route, the weather, and the riders.
The 2014 SPY Belgian Waffle Ride offers up a route like no other. Much has been written about it, and each rider will discover the extraordinary difficulty of this 136-mile torture chamber at his leisure. The weather will likely be dry and cool with a moderate wind.
When it comes to riders, though, most of us will have only a fleeting glance of the strongest participants, as they will storm away in the first wave, never to be seen until the finish. If you are one of the people who is showing up to the BWR in order win a jersey, here’s a snapshot of a few of the people you’ll have to beat.
- Ryan Trebon. Pro cyclocross racer and sponsored SPY rider, former U.S. national champion.
- Neil Shirley. First place finisher in the Belgian Waffle Ride’s 2013 edition, and one of the best professional riders in America.
- Dan Cobley. Don’t let the Cat 3 fool you. He finished fourth last year behind Neil, Thurlow Rogers, and Karl Bordine.
- Brent Prenzlow. He’s an uncategorized “public” rider. He also made mincemeat of virtually the entire field in the inaugural 2012 BWR.
- Phil Tinstman. The best all-around masters racer in America. He time trials, sprints, climbs, and has exceptional off-road skills. Former sprint jersey winner in the 2012 edition. If Neil misses a pedal stroke, Phil’s my pick to win it all.
- Chris DeMarchi. This is Chris’s first BWR, and you can expect that he will ride it with a vengeance. Chris is also one of the best masters racers in America and is teammates with Phil. Look for a one-two combo from these two titans.
- John Abate. Lokalmotor from San Diego, John has the legs and the knowledge of the local roads to be there at the finish.
- Lars Finanger. Unhappily (for us) shipped off to Houston last year, Lars returns to his old stomping grounds where he can be expected to stomp people’s heads in if he’s on form.
- Michael Marckx. Will this be MMX’s year? He knows every inch of the course because he designed it. He’s riding with exceptional speed and strength. Could be awkward if the head honcho wins his own race!
- Ryan Dahl. Truly one of the beasts of North County and always a top finisher at the BWR, in 2013 Ryan earned the hardman jersey for toughest rider on the course.
- Brian Zink. The question mark here is fitness. If Brian is on form, he will storm the field, much as he did in 2012 when he won the hardman jersey, and last year when he finished sixth.
- David Jaeger. Winner of the inaugural BWR in 2012, DJ is currently on fire as evidenced by his podium finish in the state road race. If he carries it over to Sunday, he will be lethal.
- Logan Fiedler. If he hadn’t been felled by a broken elbow earlier this year, Logan would be higher on this list as he’s an excellent climber, skilled in the dirt, and has tremendous endurance.
- Robert Frank. Major Bob placed 16th last year with minimal training. This year he’s scorching, earning 2nd place last weekend at the state road race. Lean, fast, an excellent climber, and equally comfortable on dirt and asphalt, a podium is not out of the question.
Given the fact that over 500 riders have signed up for the 2014 SPY Belgian Waffle Ride, there will certainly be surprises as well as strong riders who I’m simply unfamiliar with and have omitted out of ignorance. This list, however, should include at least a handful of the top finishers. Game on!
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July 29, 2012 § 10 Comments
There’s a simple reason people stay away from the San Marcos circuit race: it hurts like a motherfucker.
If your dream bike race rolls around in smooth circles on a flat business park course, this is your worst nightmare. The 45+ Elderly Gentlemen With Prostrate Issues Race started hard, was hard in the middle, and hard at the end, so unlike the elderly gentlemen themselves, whose wives could only wish for such sustained firmness.
Before the race, teammates Alan Flores, John Geyer, and Ted Rupp took me aside. “Look, Wankmeister. You don’t have a fucking hope in hell on this course. It’s hard; you’re soft. It’s fast; you’re slow. The hill is relentless; you have more white flags in your back pocket than the French army. So don’t feel bad when you get dropped on the second or third lap. We do, however, have a mission for you to execute on behalf of the team: When you flame out, do it in front of G$ or Klasna or someone who’s going to be a factor in the race.”
Preparation is everything
The night before, I’d done an intensive bout of training with a giant turkey, dressing, apple pie, a bag of chips, lots of sour cream and hummus dip, and buttery green beans. G$ and Mighty Mouse had been at that same training event, and G$ had fully prepped me on what to expect.
“When I was in college, the pole vaulters always kept apart from all the other guys on the track and field team. They were different, I guess because you know they were always missing the mat and falling from 20 feet onto the track, or getting the wrong angle on the vault and hitting the steel uprights, or breaking the pole and getting shards of fiberglass run through their lungs, I’m not sure why, but they were just different.
“One time we went to El Paso for the UTEP meet and the pole vaulters were gone all night in Ciudad Juarez. We saw them the next morning and they were like, ‘We saw a dead guy and ate dog meat at a donkey show.’ Plus all of the TV’s in their rooms were in the swimming pool.”
I was confused. “But, uh, what does this have to do with the race tomorrow?”
“You’re gonna be like that dead guy, you know, dead. Or you’ll be like the dog meat, you know, skinned and cooked and eaten by somebody else. Or you’ll be like those TV’s, you know, torn out of the wall and drowned. Or you’ll be like the donkey’s partner, you know…”
I cringed at the thought of being the donkey’s partner. “Come on, G$. What can I do to get a good result tomorrow?”
“Remember that episode of Gilligan’s Island, where they had an Olympics?”
“Yeah, it was rad. They had an Olympics on the island, and everybody trained like crazy the day before. Skipper was lifting weights, and the Professor was doing push-ups, and Mrs. Howell was getting it on with Ginger, while Mary Ann was working out by shaving all the hair off Mr. Howell’s back. The only one who didn’t do anything was Gilligan. He just slept all day in his hammock. Then the next day, the day of the Olympics, he won everything because the others were so rat-crap tired and sore.”
“So what are you saying?”
“Rest up, buddy. The hay that’s in the barn tonight, that’s all the hay you’re gonna have come tomorrow.”
A short and vicious mashing
Everything they had told me about the difficulty of the course and the speed of the race had been grossly underestimated. From the starting gun, where I clipped my shoe into the neighboring guy’s front wheel and got to learn some new curse words, to the first turn where we leaned hard and jumped out of the saddle was like the final kick in a match sprint. We hurtled down the hill into a narrow chute of a turn, conveniently lined with uneven bricks and reflector thingies, and enhanced with a giant hard plastic pole about nut-height so that if you clipped it you’d never have to worry about those pesky paternity suits ever again.
The wankoton bunched at the turn then shot out onto the tailwind straightaway, whipped through Turn 2, paused for a brief moment, and charged into Turn 3 at the bottom of a bitterly steep but short wall. Turn 4 morphed into a false flat that kept falsing and not flatting all the way to the start/finish so that by the time we’d done the first lap I was desperately staring at the lap counter to see if it said “three to go” yet.
Steve Klasna and David Worthington launched on the second or third lap and were joined by Doug Pomerantz. After a lap of hesitation, SPY team boss Alan Flores punched it hard on the false flat, leaving the rest of us gassed, gassy, and gapped. Before a chase could get organized, Alan had closed the 15-second deficit to the break and began towing the break around at will. Each time up the hill his efforts put more and more daylight between the break and the wankoton.
With Worthington sitting on, and Big Orange enjoying a two-man advantage for the finish, it looked like a done deal. At the bottom of the climb on the last lap, Worthington jumped away from his team mate, who was astonished. Alan followed the move, waited until the helium had all mostly leaked out from Worthington’s sagging balloon, and lit the nuclear-tipped afterburner. With Pomerantz charging hard, Alan stomped harder and took the win by something like a million bike lengths.
A “spirited discussion” ensued between the two breakaway team mates, but no one was maimed, killed, or thrown under a passing vehicle, and no arrests were made.
Although far from anything that could be considered “action,” at the bottom of the hill as we completed the next to last lap I found myself on the point, pushing rather hard on the pedals and keenly aware that no one was coming around. On the last time up, I accelerated once again only to see Brett Clare of Amgen tearing by so fast that the vacuum created by his ramp-up was almost enough to suck me to the line. Almost. He won the field sprunt in a blur, whereas I valiantly defeated every single other rider who was trying to get 29th place.
After the vicious beating that was administered in the 45+ race, I went over to Sckubrats with team mates Erik Johnson and Ryan Dahl for a quick caffeine boost before the 35+ race. With the exception of a feeble surge five laps into the race, my total efforts consisted of hanging onto the very last slot for dear life and counting down from 20 laps. In the last position I got to see countless competitors melt and quit each time up the hill, and had the boundless pleasure of closing their gaps.
With three laps to go, a Monster Media breakaway was so far up the road that they were recalibrating their watches for the new time zone. I knew that Aaron Wimberley would be a factor in the sprunt, and chose that moment to move up from last place in an attempt to latch onto his wheel. I moved up about three wheels, past the dude with the giant saggy paunch, past the guy with the funny kneecap that was kind of on the back of his knee, and past the fellow whose backfat rippled up and down like a bowl of jelly.
The effort of passing even those three wankers was so extreme that I gave up my plan and reverted to Plan B: Finish last, but finish.
I’m pleased to say it was mission accomplished on my end, with Erik placing a very respectable 8th, and SPY/Swami’s wanker Stephen Lavery riding great considering he’d already done a race earlier in the day.
It wouldn’t be a race report without a description of Tinkerbell’s tour de force in her first circuit race. She was all aflutter about how she’d do, but needn’t have worried. They started the 1-3 race one minutes ahead of Tink’s 3-4 field…no problem. By keeping the pressure on she caught the 1-3 field, which, like the 3-4 field, had been decimated by the course. With only one rider left in her race, Tink easily took the win, leaving her to wonder if she should have raced with the 1-3 women instead. [Hint: Yes.]
The course was safe, well marshaled, and incredibly well organized. The great weather contributed to this great event, as did the numerous food trucks in the adjacent parking lot. Hats off to the organizers and officials and especially the volunteers for doing a great job.