Performance enhancing equipment

August 3, 2016 § 25 Comments

Or “PEE” as I like to call it.

A couple of months ago I ordered the new SRAM electric wireless shifter thingies from my ace mechanic, Boozy P. One day he called. “Yo, Wanky, you still want that stuff?”

“Bring it,” I said. “It’s about time for me to crack the top 10 out at Telo, and what’s a couple grand if it guarantees me a placing or two?”

A week later there was a family car crisis which led to the purchase of a Chevy Volt. It was the most awesome car in the world for seven days, but after one full week of flawlessness it quit working and it’s been in the shop ever since. “Part’s on back order,” Service Dude said.

That was July 18.

So I called Boozy P. “Dude,” I said, “I bought a new broken Chevy Volt and we have some financial issues and I have to choose between the SRAM electrothingies or food.”

He waited, wondering what the problem was. “Yeah?”

“So I’m going to have to pass on that stuff I ordered unless it puts you in a bind, in which case I’ll take it and lose that last 35 pounds.”

“Nah,” he said, “I can return it; actually I got a great deal and several people have been asking about it. No worries.”

Shortly thereafter I got 2nd or 3rd in the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016, which is the best I’ve ever done there in eight years but who’s counting? About that time Boozy P. stopped answering my phone calls and texts which was disturbing because he’s super responsive. Unbeknownst to me he had taken a five-day trip to the Sierras, going up to 12,000 feet with nothing but beer to sustain him.

I had no idea he’d gone Jeremiah Johnson on me. I thought he was mad because I’d crawfished on the PEE or perhaps somehow because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?

I interrupted Manslaughter’s vacation in Hawai’i to see if he could intervene. “Boozy P. isn’t mad,” Manslaughter assured me. “He’s never mad. Take a Xanax.”

Then I called EA Sports, Inc., who was excited to hear from me but not that excited. “Dude, it’s 2:00 AM and you woke up the whole family. What’s up?” I told him the sad story about how I’d crawfished on the PEE and Boozy was not taking my calls or texts because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?

EA Sports, Inc. advised me to get some sleep. “Boozy probably dropped his phone in the toilet. He’ll get back to you once he gets a new one.”

Finally I called Dawg. “Don’t ever call me at 3:00 AM again,” he said. “Even if you’re in jail. Especially if you’re in jail.” He hung up and I didn’t even get a chance to tell him about how I’d crawfished on the PEE and how maybe Boozy wasn’t taking my calls or texts because of the Great Disputed Telo Training Crit Finish Controversy of 2016 in which I got 2nd or 3rd, the best I’ve ever done in eight years but who’s counting?

After I’d given up all hope, Boozy P. returned from the Sierras. “Yo, Wanky,” he said. “I saw you called me 473 times and left a thousand text messages. What’s up?”

I went over to the shop and apologized for crawfishing and for the 2nd or 3rd Place Controversy (my best Telo finish ever, btw). “No worries,” he said. “You still want the SRAM wireless? I was going to take it back today.”

I thought about the Chevy Volt which was still in the shop at Martin Chevrolet and how the part was on back order indefinitely although they’d promised to speak with the subcontractor factory in Vietnam to find out when the part might be manufactured and how Mrs. WM was going to kill me when she found out I’d bought something that I couldn’t even explain what it was or what it did. That’s when I looked at the SRAM electrothingy box.

etap.

“You know,” I said, “my PEE has been grossly exceeding my dedication since I swapped a SunTour derailleur, Sugino cranks, and Dia-Compe brakes for Campy Super Record back in 1984. And I can’t possibly afford it but that box is so sweet so yeah, put that shit on.”

For all you tech heads out there, the first key performance difference between SRAM electrothingy and Dura-Ace mechanical is overwhelming, dominating, extraordinary beyond words: The second you post a picture of the cool boxes on Facegag, it breaks your fuggin’ timeline.

If you’ve always been in the running for awesome Facebag posts but have never been able to crack the podium, SRAM electro is the real deal. You gain, on average, 150 extra likes, 50-ish smiley faces, and envious posts from Ol’ Grizzles that don’t even mention guns or how our great nation was built on easy access to suicide and firearm accidents in the home.

The SRAM electro interfaces incredibly well with FB and is easily uploaded to your timeline, where it simply outperforms any other PEE, even wheelsets that are full carbon with extra carbon and photos of Charon. I’ll admit that it’s a costly Facebag upgrade but it’s worth it for the hour or two that you eclipse all of the stories about Trump until he beats up another squalling infant, calls the mother of a dead soldier a fat cow, or urinates on a TV interviewer.

When I actually got to ride the new electrothingy stuff, it was better than watching the ads in my timeline that said “Batshit Crazy Republicans So Fucking Terrified of Trump That We’re Voting for Hillary.”

Less importantly, I also got to use the electrothingies while actually riding, and got to test the PEE out at Telo last night, which kind of broke the rule of “Never try new stuff out for the first time on race day.” After 50 minutes of an amazingly brutal race, Headdown James attacked for the 25th time into the wind after Dawg had brought the break to within view. Everyone was screaming friendly advice to me.

“Pull through, you bastard!”

“You fucker!”

“You wheelsucking piece of shit!”

“Damn you, Wanky, you asshole, pull through!”

However, in addition to being really tired I am a really bad person, so I hunkered down until Headdown James launched. He is really tiny and accelerates like a gnat but I managed to latch on. He glanced back and saw that it was Sir Deadweight. He knew better than to flick his elbow, and not just because Heavy D., who was up the road in the break, had admonished me the week before.

“What is wrong with you, you nut?” he had asked.

“What do you mean?” I fake answered.

“You chased me down ten times during the race!”

“I did?” I fake said.

“Hell yes, you did. Every time I looked back you were driving the front with ten guys on your wheel!”

“Really?” I fake said. “I thought I was bridging,” I fake excusified.

“You were, with everyone else. Please don’t do that next week. It’s bad racing and bad etiquette. I’m your teammate, dude.”

“I won’t,” I fake promised. Heavy D. didn’t know that I love nothing more than chasing teammates. It’s not out of hostility, it’s because I like them and want to BE with them and if they’re up the road the only way I can be with them is to chase.

However, with my new PEE I had sworn not to chase and I didn’t. Headdown James rode like a demon and got us to the break. I was so tired and happy to see my friends that I cried. Heavy D. had been monitoring the situation and knew that I hadn’t dragged up the field. “Good work, Wanky,” he said. “For once.”

Out of the six-man break I put in an amazing effort and convincingly beat everyone in the chase group for an impressive 6th, which was three or four placings less than the 2nd or 3rd I’d gotten the week before in the Great Controversy when I was using the D/A mechanical.

“How’d you like it?” asked Boozy P. after the race, who had gotten second and scorched me on a bike and components that had, frankly, zero Facegag performance edge.

“Its Facebag game is strong,” I said. “But its on-the-road performance hasn’t translated into a Wanky training crit victory yet.” I watched as Emily pulled on the winner’s tunic, an awesome StageOne production given to the women’s weekly winner at Telo.

“Yeah,” he said. “Maybe you need some new wheels?”

My stomach rumbled as I thought about facing the next couple of weeks eating nothing but water washed down with H20. “You’re right.”

END

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Telo Title IX

August 1, 2016 § 17 Comments

The Telo training crit has been around for decades. It’s an informal gathering of riders that, like hundreds of similar events across the country, takes place on Tuesday when cyclists get together to test their legs against riders. Why is Tuesday such a common day for a training crit? Because we rest on Monday!

These informal gatherings come and go; there’s no promoter and no organization–sometimes the rides fade away (as Telo did two years ago), and sometimes they reform. Earlier this year, StageOne Sports came up with a winner’s jersey that was awarded each week to the first-place finisher. Since there aren’t any refs and it’s an unorganized ride, it’s all done on an honor system … which mostly works!

Telo is without question the hardest Tuesday training crit in California; nothing else even comes close and it’s all thanks to the battering 20-mph head/crosswind that springs up every afternoon and blows into your face for half of each and every lap. Where other training rides have big groups (think Eldo or NPR or MAMO) that allow any reasonably fit cyclist to sit in, Telo allows no such luxury. Large fields are halved after a few laps and as the season wears on Telo always ends in a small one, two, or three-man breakaway.

The ride is so bitter and brutal that most participants do it only a handful of times a year, even though it runs every week from the spring to the fall time change. I’ve skipped it for years at a stretch.

The only bad part about the weekly winner’s jersey is that the winner is always a man. Because it’s not a sanctioned race or event there are no categories. You show up, assume the risk, and ride. And because men are lumped with women, no woman has finished first.

That’s when StageOne donated design services and we got together to make a winner’s jersey for the women. Telo is so tough that the women who come out and do it should have the chance of pulling on a victory tunic. Here’s what StageOne came up with. It’s a beaut!

twc_womens_jersey

The jerseys arrive today, Monday, August 1, and the first winning woman will get to wear her gloriously awesomely beautifully comfortably designed tunic after the Tuesday, August 2 ride. If you’re a woman and you’ve avoided Telo for whatever reason, henceforth it won’t be because there isn’t a jersey for you!

END

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South Bay round-up

May 17, 2016 § 8 Comments

Lots happening in the South Bay and environs, especially, say, France.

  1. How do you say “asskicking” in French? Big Orange rider and French transplant Evens Stievenart won the Route de l’Oise, a stage race just north of Paris that has over 200 racers and that includes the town of Compiègne, best known as the starting city for Paris-Roubaix. Evens is best known in the South Bay for riding everyone off his wheel on training rides; what’s less known is that he has only been racing for six years and already has close to 50 Cat 2 wins in France to go along with his most important victory, a win at the local Telo training crit a couple of weeks ago. Congrats, Evens!
  2. Blazingly fast! VC La Grange junior rider Ivy Koester won a state crit title at Barrio Logan Grand Prix on May 8. She is super fast, super smart, and has one of those smiles that let you know she’s having fun.
  3. I’ll have some victory on those pancakes, thanks. Southbay Wheelmen might consider changing its name to “Wheelwomen” thanks to junior rider Makayla Macpherson, who continued her batteringly good year in Bakersfield a couple of weekends ago, winning the Jumpstart crit, the road race, and then placing second in the women’s open 3/4 San Luis Rey road race. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that she’s 13.
  4. For a fistful of dollars. Big Orange junior  Bąđĕŕ Āqîł got his first race win on the challenging tough guy course out at Rosena Ranch this past weekend. Hats off to a dedicated and hardworking young man.
  5. Over the moon. Swami’s junior racer Ryder Moon Phillips picked up two more wins in what has been a breakout year, with victories in the time trial and crit at the Kern County Stage Race. We’re all looking forward to more great things from a talented competitor.
  6. The nerds strike back! Local South Bay riders were assaulted by a cager in a McLaren and they took what is now becoming the default defense for cyclists who are fed up with the casual violence directed against them: They went to the police, in this case the Palos Verdes Estates PD, and filed a complaint. The police not only took them seriously, but they opened an investigation. This clown’s world is about to get a lot more complicated. Please take a minute to read this post to see what you can do to defend yourself when you’ve been buzzed with a deadly weapon.
  7. Return of EA Sports, Inc. Rumor has it that the most feared sprunter in the South Bay, and the nicest guy anywhere, Eric A., is back on his bike after rebuilding his house from the nails up. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
  8. Watering the grass. Joe Yule of StageOne Sports, a company otherwise known for making the best fitting, most comfortable, most stylish apparel in the cycling world (go suck an egg Rapha, ThorfinnDopesquatch, etc.), has single-handedly revived the venerable Torrance institution of the Telo training crit by posting a leaderboard, keeping track of finishes, rustling up sponsorship with the generous help of Dave Perez and Samsung, and has now even created a weekly winner’s jersey (I wear a men’s S, thanks). Telo now regularly hosts the best riders in the South Bay, including Evens S., Smasher Alverson, Derek the Destroyer, Paul Che, and any day now, YOU.
  9. People who make a difference. If you don’t know Joann Zwagerman, you will. A California native, she has come back home from the East Coast and thoroughly embraced cycling. She has singlehandedly created rides that focus on fun, friendliness, and welcoming people regardless of ability (whatever that is) who share the passion to pedal. Her legendary FDR Saturday ride in the South Bay, a wholesome alternative to the Donut Ride, is massive and actually features real donuts. More than that, her smile, her selflessness, her pro knack at getting the best selfie angles, her toughness (did the BWR Wafer ride without a hitch and finished it smiling!), and her willingness to help get done whatever needs doing are unmatched. One Joann has sent out ripples of kindness and enthusiasm that have, at last count, touched thousands.

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It doesn’t smell exactly like teen spirit

September 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

Standing next in line for the Starbucks crapper on a sunny Friday morning is always an anxious thing. You’re there fidgeting because the bran muffin and strong coffee have stomped on the sensors hidden deep in your bowels, and the only real question is whether the person currently in the lockbox is there for a li’l freshen-up or for a seat-clenching full body purge. In my case, the door opened and a plump, middle-aged lady exited. That’s usually a good sign, because for some reason Manhattan Beach women seem embarrassed by leaving major detonation fumes when there’s a line. Perhaps it’s because there’s something that conceptually clashes with a $400 pair of yoga pants and a corn-studded, 14-karat bowl buster, or perhaps it’s because when they open the door everyone goes, “Eeeeeewwww” and looks them over with what is quite literally the stinkeye. Or perhaps it’s just that everyone knows that fully accessorized women don’t shit boxcars in public.

I stepped into the toilet and immediately realized that the ol’ gal before me had dispensed with embarrassment and answered with a hearty “Amen” what must have been a mighty loud call of nature. “Fuck you,” I thought, “game fucking on.” Yes, it would be a battle of the toilet gases, and no chick in a pink leotard was going to overwhelm the mighty issue of my crack if I had any say in the matter. Plus, everyone thinks their own shit smells good, so the sooner I let loose the sooner my vent would overpower hers, or at least neutralize it.

The cranking and rumbling and grumbling that ensued must have struck terror into those waiting outside. Combined with not one, not two, but three industrial flushes that shook the door on its hinges, the poor bastards outside were being put on notice that the next person inside the closet of doom would likely suffer permanent brain damage. With the bran muffin leading the charge, I fired off a reverse burping growl and plunk that sounded like a logging truck had dumped its cargo off a 40-foot cliff into a very deep lake. The folks in line were bathed in a cold sweat. When I finished, I boldly threw open the door just as a kindly old fellow looked up with a stir stick in his mocha latte. The eyes of everyone in line were glued to my hands, hoping and praying that I’d washed them before touching the handle (I hadn’t). The elderly fellow dropped his stir stick as the fumes triggered long repressed memories of mustard gas in the trenches at Passchendaele. I strode proudly out into the sunlight, a spring in my step, five pounds lighter and ready for the day.

Genius where you least expect it

Much as I had been surprised to see that sweet lady in the pink leotard unabashedly doing what she had to do, living in the South Bay cycling scene is likewise a life of continuous surprises. Sometimes it’s the surprise, shock, and awe at the sheer genius that resides in our midst. Over the last few years a seed has germinated here, grown into a mature plant, and spread its seeds quite literally across the globe. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the look of cycling has changed, and continues to change, and to change for the better, thanks in large part to Joe Yule.

Joe’s work is glaring for its simplicity and elegance. Although since the 80’s, cycling attire has been synonymous with “ugly,” for decades before that the cycling jersey motif was classy and attractive. Think Faema, Molteni, Peugeot…designs that were used when a team only had one sponsor and the real estate of the jersey didn’t have to be shared with fifteen other logos. In the hyper-modern world of cycling where everyone can have a team kit, where everyone can have his logo on the team kit, and where everyone can have input into how the kit should look, it’s no surprise that designing an attractive kit is hard to do.

Through his design and production company, StageOne Sports, Joe has done the impossible: he has made cycling clothing look good again, reconciled the noisiness of multiple sponsor logos, and effectively muzzled well-intentioned would-be contributors who are nonetheless fashion idiots. Would you let the cleaning guy advise your surgeon about which clamp to use? Joe’s genius is that he can accept your input and not make you feel bad that your idea is stupid and ugly and that he’s not going to use it. His work is a triumph of art, of will, and of gentle, skilled diplomacy.

You can see the effect that Joe has had on cycling’s new look by watching the various clothing iterations of the Garmin team. Although the Red Bull-crazed designers at RadioShack and BMC have still not grasped the Universal Law of Fashion, “Red Only in Small Amounts, Especially in the Crotch Area,” they have clearly adopted some of Joe’s theories of simplicity. Leopard-Trek’s designers might have done an internship with him. HTC-Highroad, unfortunately, is still using the teenage kid who’s a “whiz” with PhotoShop and who does those great montages where he can put a shark’s head on a cricket’s ass.

The effect of Joe’s genius is more glaring on local rides, however. Leaving aside that most new club kits coming out of the LA area are designed by him, the people who are still “rolling their own” have taken a cue from his lines, his simplicity, and his powerful use of understated color. The effect is that summertime airborne visual pollution is way down, and that fewer children wind up in the emergency room needing their stomachs pumped after accidentally ingesting the view of a passing peloton. One of my favorite companies on Planet Earth, Spy Optics, has rolled out its 2012 team kit designed by StageOne that is–to use the proper artistic term–motherfucking unbelievably fucking awesome. And you can quote me on that.

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