August 31, 2017 § 12 Comments
When Junkyard came up with the idea of an alternative Thursday ride to the NPR due to massive construction on Westchester Parkway, it was a doozy: One warm-up lap followed by four hard efforts around the PV Golf Course, finishing on the monster climb of La Cuesta.
We skipped the warm-up that first ride and got straight to business. By the end, the group was in tatters. I think the day was November 6, 2014. The next week we also skipped the warm-up and added a lap. It was horrible beyond belief. No one could believe that anyone would voluntarily do such a thing.
As the months went by, one by one riders heard about The Flog. They came, they sampled, they never came back. From a training perspective, the ride was worse than useless. But far more awful was the damage it did to your ego. Always dropped and left to ride alone.
After a year, Michael Hines suggested we stop and regroup after each lap, effectively turning it from a race into interval training. We agreed. The ride only got harder, and the non-benefits even more pronounced. A two-fingered handful of riders soldiered on, but by then the ride’s reputation was so bad that new faces were few and far between.
The ride wrapped up its 35th edition for 2017, to resume again in January. I love this ride more than any other. It represents the best that competitive cycling has to offer: A small group of friends who take care of each other, who are safe and respectful, who go all out, and who make progress in whatever way they’re trying to improve. And at the end, if things work out, covfefe.
This ride has so many great memories for me! The day that Daniel Holloway and his crew showed up and destroyed the course record. The countless times that Stathis blasted the group apart, effortlessly, it always seemed. Amazing feats of speed on La Cuesta (and everywhere else) by Chris Tregillis. The continual, never-say-die efforts of Michelle Landes, one of the toughest riders around. Evergreen Mike Hines, reliable and hard as nails. Greg Lonergan who always made the hardest efforts even harder. Derek Brauch, always raising everyone’s game. Emily and Aaron, the happiest couple in the world! Lauren Mulwitz and the times she has come out and smashed. Josh Alverson, fearsome, funny, friendly, and quick to show us how Stanley O’Grande gets things done.
David Wells and his countless antics, videos, and photos. Luke Rokuta, dependable and smiling and thrashing it with his Pioneer power meter. Bill Klahr and Stacy Hill, two regulars, and of course Tim Vaughan and Steve Shriver!
And there were the handful of incidents! Marc’s fall in the hairpin, Emily’s fall in the hairpin, Kroboth’s fall in the hairpin, Michelle’s wheel-tap, Hines’s chain snap, the incident with the jogger, and Rico’s collision with the curb. For a ride that has gone off more than 140 high-intensity times, that’s an enviable record–and there have been no serious injuries.
Of course what I miss most are the people who used to come and don’t any more. The ride is too far, too early, too painful, too stupid, too pointless, or just too boring. Robert Efthimos, one of the best people I know and a tough competitor, Stathis and Chris, Stacy, Eric Anderson, Greg Seyranian, Greg Lonergan, and Head Down James, who I once screamed at for taking the hairpin at lightspeed.
“You crazy sonofabitch!” I yelled. “You can’t take the wet downhill hairpin like that! People will follow you and get killed, for fuck’s sake!”
Head Down James didn’t shout back. He looked at the ground and said quietly, “But I was only going 35.” That was his last flogging; our loss.
Jon Davy, Bob Spalding, Major Bob, and the immortal Francis Hardiman! Riding with him and Alex Barnes was such a low point in terms of ego but a high point of humanity … so many fine riders and good people have moved on to other and better things, which I get. But I miss them all anyway! Turbo Tom Duong, and remember Peyton Cooke? I do! He used to be there every time, along with Eric Anderson.
And of course the people who showed up once or twice, delivered their message or had it delivered, and never came back. Michael Smith, Dan Cobley, Greg Leibert, Jeff Konsmo, Dave Jaeger, even Dan Sievert, “the Bull.” Dave Holland came and dished it out once, Gussy did half-a-Flog, and our Dear Leader, Junkyard Joe, comes once a year whether he wants to or not. The one or two cameo appearances of Evens Stievenart and Julien Bourdevaire were never to be forgotten.
Between the “been there” and the “done that” there are all the people on the Facebag Flog page who’ve never ventured forth. Please come! We will be gentle, and if not gentle, at least respectful. That’s my promise.
And I’m grateful to those pedalers who still make this ride a part of their lives. Josh Dorfman, the eternally happy Michelle Landes, Kristie Fox, Mike Hines, Emily and Aaron Wimberley when they can swing it, Luke Rokuta, Bill Klahr … thank you all.
It was a great year of flogging. 2018 will be our fifth anniversary, the make or break date for most marriages. Let’s keep this love affair alive.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.
August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments
Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:
- Three cyclists killed in PV
- Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
- Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
- Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
- Friend #3 got run over in PV
- Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
- Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
- Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
- Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”
It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.
Except, we haven’t.
These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.
I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.
What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.
Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.
What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.
At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.
But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.
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February 3, 2011 § 6 Comments
One of our tried and true South Bay cycling veterans got hit by a car yesterday in Santa Monica. Our guy had stopped at the red light, put his foot down, and waited for green. He got the signal and began making a left hand turn. Idiot motorist apparently blew through a red light and hit him head on. Our guy has a fractured C5, lacerations and stitches on his leg, a bike in ten thousand pieces, and a long, brutal road to recovery ahead.
Idiot motorist probably has a few scratches on the hood of his wagon and perhaps some pangs of guilt. But the real question is, does he have insurance? Our guy is going to have a mountain of medical bills and lots of missed work.
This accident brings onto the stage a grisly drum I’ve been beating for the last year now. Below is a reprint from a short article I posted on the Big Orange Cycling Yahoo newsgroup. Please read it and take action. The ass you save is going to be your own.
How to save your ass when the motorist who runs you over is also an uninsured or underinsured deadbeat shitforbrains
At my office we’ve taken in a number of bike-car accidents in the last year, everything from trashed bikes to people who are never going to walk properly again to people whose last action on this earth was pedaling a bicycle. What follows is some advice that I hope you’ll heed.
Most people think that if they’re in a bike-car collision, they’ll be able to recover money from the driver as long as the driver is insured. What you may not know is that in California, the minimal insurance coverage for accident liability is $15,000. What you also may not know is that 85% of the drivers on the road have this minimal coverage. This means that their insurance company is on the hook for $15k, and that’s it.
To put it in perspective, the money you can recoup from the careless idiot who took you out while sexting his girlfriend a “Brett Favre” evaporated on the life flight trip to the hospital, and once your expenses exceed the $15k that most drivers carry, you’re done. That’s the bad news, and it’s very, very real. Imagine how hard it is as a lawyer to tell someone who’s been trashed for life that their recovery won’t pay for their first day of medical care…then imagine how hard it is for the victim who has to actually live through it.
There is, however, a very cheap and very effective way to protect yourself and your family. It’s called uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage, and it comes standard with almost every auto insurance policy. Many cyclists are unaware that this coverage on their own auto liability policy even exists, and many more are unaware that it covers them in a bike-car collision when they’re not even in the car.
This means that when idiot’s policy tops out at $15k, you have the legal right to turn to your own insurance company for the remainder. So far, so good, but there’s a catch: most UM coverage is also minimal, often only $15 or $25k, which is hardly enough to make you whole when you suffer significant injuries.
Unlike most insurance stories, though, this one has a very, very happy ending if you’re proactive about it, because you can increase your UM coverage to very high levels for only a tiny increase in your monthly premium. Although your UM coverage is generally barred from exceeding your liability coverage, if you have $500k worth of liability you can bump up your UM from $25k to $500k for only a few bucks.
For the sake of yourself and your family, take a minute to look at the face page of your insurance policy, check the UM coverage, and then call your agent to ratchet that sucker up to the max. With the spate of deaths and serious injuries occurring in our midst this past year, this is something you can’t afford to put off.
The other benefit to turning to your UM coverage in the event of an accident is that if you’re forced to use it you actually wind up with a larger recovery than you would if you were making a claim against a driver with adequate coverage.
January 24, 2011 Comments Off on South Bay Form Report: The truth about Charon
First time I ever saw Charon I thought, “Who is that guy? What’s wrong with that crazy guy who doesn’t know how to glue on a freaking tire?”
We were barreling into the turn before the finish line at Eldo, it must have been April 2008, and this Sho-Air guy a few wheels ahead of me rolled a tubular on his fancy carbon rims. He went down quicker and harder than a hooker on a thousand-dollar trick, bounced off the tarmac and stood there in the middle of the field with bikes whizzing by, dodging, swerving, cussing, and doing everything you couldn’t imagine except slam into him, the stink from his melted carbon wheel spitting smoke and dust into the air and that rolled tire hanging off the busted rim like a twisted old dog’s tongue lolling on the pavement.
That was Charon, he of the not-real-well-glued-on-tire, soon to be he-whose-tires-were-always-glued-on-so-hard-that-you’ll-need-vicegrip-pliers-to-get-them-off.
I did a few more Eldos that year, and never saw him roll another tire. Actually, I never saw him much at all, except at the beginning of the race. No matter where I finished, he was always across the line so far ahead of me that to have really effectively congratulated him I would have needed to have sent him a letter or called him on his cell. Thing about Charon was that he was always smiling, always happy to meet people, always in a good mood.
Sure, he was happy. Sure, he was nice. Sure, everyone liked him. Sure, he was handsome. Sure, he was a rocket on a bike. None of that mattered to me, though: I saw through to the real Charon. And I’m going to introduce him to you here.
You pays your nickel and you takes your chance
If you will do me a favor, scroll down a few blog entries and you’ll see one of my posts regarding “Who’s Hot.” It lists, down at the bottom, Dan G., who celebrated his first race yesterday with a win. See? I was right. It also lists, higher up, Charon S., and gives the inside tip: he’s fully prepared and ready to rock. On Sunday at the Dominguez Hills crit put on by Chris Lotts and world-renowned California Bicycle Racing, 90+ knuckleheads showed up to blast around in a circle for an hour in the 30+ race.
I was one of them. Charon was one of the others. I finished in the churning, heaving, hopeless middle of the pack. Charon took fourth, and would have won if Bert G. hadn’t decided to lead out the sprint by digging a pedal and launching four hundred feet into the air and onto the pavement head-first. 90 guys. Fourth place. Think it’s easy? There’s another one on February 20 where you can come out and show us how it’s done.
Charon’s placing wasn’t just impressive because I labeled him an uber-hammer in my galactically-famous Form Report. It wasn’t just impressive because he beat out 86 other idiots in a mad, high speed death scramble for a moldy snack and cheap bottle of wine. It was impressive because to get to the line he had to pick his way through an earlier mass pileup, hold his position with five laps to go, bull his way onto the right wheel in the closing lap, fight off the scavengers and jackals trying to edge him out for position in the sprint, avoid a death crash in the final turn, and do all of that without expending any more energy than absolutely necessary so that when it came time to uncork the champagne bottle, it would uncork with a vengeance. It was a risky, nasty business that required a big, fat, hairy nutsack about the size of a shotput.
Will the real Charon please stand up?
Of course he won’t. That’s because, like I said earlier, he’s got a secret side. It’s soft-spoken or utterly mute, it’s hidden behind a smiling mask, and it never, ever grins. The only prisoners it ever takes are already dead. This is Charon the bike racer: dialed in and focused on winning, and in case you didn’t notice, or didn’t want to notice, or weren’t smart enough to notice, it means he’s intent on beating the snot out of the competition, all of it, including YOU.
What makes Charon the bike racer even scarier is that he doesn’t ride dirty. No nasty moves (aside from the occasional poorly glued on tire), no cheap shots, nothing mean or sleazy or low. He rides fair and he beats you fair and whips your ass with class.
So those of you who know and love Charon the nice guy are asking, “Who the hell are you? How are you pretending to know Charon? He smacks you around in bike races like a boxer beating a legless chicken. Where do you get off with all this crap?”
Where I get off with all my crap
The answer, of course, is that I don’t really know any of those things about Charon–except that he’s the nicest guy in the peloton and he really did screw up that time by not gluing on his tire. I’m just speculating from afar, as I’ve never gotten close enough to him in a finish to see how he rides; he’s just too damned fast. Mostly I’m guessing, because even old man bike racing is fast and hard and tough, and when you place that highly in a 90-man field with half the guys going for the win, you have to be hard and smart and quick and possess a big old hairy, gnarly pair.
So where I’m going is this, South Bay Cycling Prediction Number Two for the season: Charon is going to win a whole bunch of races this year. And just because he’s smiling at you and giving you training advice and inspiring you with his positive attitude doesn’t mean he isn’t going to squash you like a bug when there’s only a couple hundred meters to the bright white line.