The year’s over. Stick a fork in it. Done. And what a year it was for the South Bay!
1. Dave Jaeger won the inaugural Belgian Waffle Ride, taking down pros Ryan Trebon, Neil Shirley, Phil Zincke, and oughta-be-a-pro Phil Tintsman. Granted, these other four got off course and didn’t make the mud section with the crazy lady brandishing a shotgun, but knowing the course and following it is part of bike racing.
2. Rudy Napolitano won the national championships on the road for 35+ masters. Don’t tell me he lives in Santa Monica. We’re claiming him anyway.
3. Keith Ketterer set the hour record for his age division. Yes, THAT hour record, the one that Eddy Merckx said was his greatest accomplishment, more than his five Tour wins. Don’t tell me Keith’s up in the Valley. He set the record where he trains…at the Velo Center in Carson. South Bay. Done.
4. Kurt Sato set the world record for his age group in the 500m track TT. Kurt is one of those quiet, unassuming dudes who practices his sport with a monkish devotion. He’s such a fixture at the Velo Center that for the few days this year he didn’t show up due to a pulled hamstring, people were afraid the building might fall down.
5. Jeff Konsmo got second at nationals in the Old Fellows Road Race. Go ahead and call him the First Loser if you dare. I will call him a badass and a superb road racer.
6. David Perez got force upgraded to Cat 2. Folks, that’s just friggin’ news. It’s like VIOS. It’s BIG.
7. Rich Meeker won everything, again. Don’t whine about him being from the OC. He won all the South Bay crits held by CBR and we’re claiming him.
8. Charon Smith devastated his category this year until, towards the end, the other 80 racers in the field figured out that the formula for beating him was DON’T LET CHARON GET IN THE BREAK. ‘Cause nobody’s coming around him in a field sprint without a gasoline engine.
9. Suze Sonye won a bunch of shit this year, establishing herself as the pre-eminent woman racer in the South Bay after a long and arduous comeback. Oh, yeah. She’s almost fifty and dukes it out with the guys.
10. Kristabel Doebel-Hickock earned the distinction of having the hardest name to remember and the most impossible name to write in the South Bay, which is saying something because we also have a dude named “Seyranian,” which is pronounced “gee-three.” Tink won a bunch of races and established herself as the female phenom of the South Bay. There are two, maybe three guys who can outclimb her. But I’ve never actually seen it happen.
11. Chris Lotts kept the drama cranked up by canceling his women’s races, as did the dude from Ontario. Chris brings attention, needed attention, to the fact that women’s racing is a money loser for promoters, and the greater cycling community needs to get its shit together if it’s really serious about increasing women’s participation in road events. Good discussion, cooperation, and maybe even some solutions are forthcoming.
12. Martin Howard took over the reins at Eldo and, after some fits and starts, has come up with a race for which we all have great expectations in 2013. Martin’s also been instrumental in the biketivism of his Long Beach freddies and their efforts to further make Long Beach the nation’s most bicycle and cadmium/mercury/heavy element-friendly community in America.
13. BJ Hale and Dan Munson launched Cycling Illustrated, a national publication that focuses heavily on SoCal and, yes, the South Bay. Hats off to these dudes and their great work.
14. Dorothy Wong proved that women’s participation in bike races (not to mention men’s) is no problem when it comes to ‘cross. She has turned this “new” event into an extraordinary force, with burgeoning line-ups, world-class participants, and fun venue after fun venue.
15. Michael Marckx took the lessons he learned in the South Bay, planted them in North County San Diego, added his own blend of inspired perspiration, and has created a whole new cycling culture “down there.” We’re claiming him, though, as he was born and raised in the South Bay, and mostly because the first time I met him he was wearing a jersey that had the outline of a skeleton on it. For reals. The SPY Belgian Waffle Ride, the SPY Holiday Ride, the SPY-Giant bike team, and the SPY sponsorship of myriad events across SoCal make Michael hands-down the biggest friend of grass roots cycling that we have.
16. The New Pier Ride became the most talked about wankfest in America. This South Bay institution, filled with crazies, has fully adapted to its new route and is now regarded as the quintessential flat road, early morning beatdown. Even Jack from Illinois (not his real name) has given it his seal of approval, and he doesn’t even have a seal.
17. Rahsaan Bahati inspired, motivated, and encouraged countless wankers in 2012 to ride more and to ride better, earning him the title of Dude Who Inspires People on the Bike. He shared, he gave, he laughed, he taught, and mostly he ripped our legs off in 2012.
18. Michael Norris continued his South Bay leadership by showing more and more people that it’s not all about racing–you can have fun, compete, and enjoy cycling in the South Bay just by doing a regular weekend ride with your friends. His Wheatgrass Ride proved in 2012 to be the most inclusive, enjoyable Sunday ride in the galaxy.
19. Gerry Agnew came back from a devastating accident that broke his neck at C2 and required five months in a halo followed by major neck surgery. Most people would be thankful to be alive. Gerry’s back on the track, gunning for the national title that eluded him in 2012. Guts of the Century Award to Gerry.
20. Adam Rybicki returned from an even more devastating accident after being taken out by a drunk carload of girls at 7:00 AM on the PV Sunday Doctor’s Ride. He’s walking, talking, laughing, and, we hope, is not far from being back on the bike. What an inspiration for someone who at the early point in his injury many believed would never move or even talk again.
21. Joe Yule, the creative genius of the South Bay, continued his one-man campaign to beautify the highways by pumping out more and more beautiful, sleek, elegant bicycle outfits for everyone from the Garmin pro team to the NPR wankfest.
22. Kevin Phillips went to US Track Nationals in Colorado. He saw. He conquered (again), this time with a national title in the scratch race. He also set a Strava KOM that couldn’t be beaten until it was ridden in earnest by Taylor Phinney. Kevin will continue his secretive ways in 2013, secret training, secret plans, secret Strava account, secret power data, until all is revealed in another tour de force. Dude’s amazing.
23. South Bay racer and general speedster Jon Davy launched the US division of Fast Forward wheels, a Dutch product that has an impressive list of world palmares in major track and road events.
24. Greg Seyranian proved that Big Orange Cycling of the South Bay is the best grass roots racing club out there, period. The club’s membership swelled in 2012 thanks to Greg’s open dork policy: Everyone welcome, even complete dorks. Those “dorks” of course, with a little support and tutelage, are now ripping our legs off. The club has so many members that the NPR looks like the Big O proxy ride. What if every club was as open and welcoming and skills-oriented as this one?
25. Brian “Tree” Perkins climbed over a million feet this year. That’s just sick. And awesome. We’ll forgive his Santa Monica zip code and claim him anyway.
26. Manny Guzman wore more outlandish outfits than anyone except David Perez. Pink bike? Green bike? Rapha candy stripes? Are you kidding me? No. He’s not.
27. Jake Sorosky became the official South Bay Photographer to the Wankers. In addition to mad photo skills, he’s tough as nails on the bike.
28. Sorry, but the South Bay has the surfboard-bike racer category nailed. Dan Cobley is all the name you need to know, hairy legs and all.
29. Greg Leibert and Leibert Designs continued to do magical stuff for corporate clients like Bonk Breaker, and he continued to give Big Orange their signature look. You’ll never have to wonder where the Big O riders are in the peloton!
30. Emily Georgeson won a bunch of races, dominated in ‘cross, and is on her way to being one of the top women racers in SoCal. Not sure if she’s South Bay proper, but she rides with us all the time so we’re claiming her.
31. The South Bay’s cadre of always dependable women riders were a core part of what makes the scene here so awesome. Chris Gregory, Tiff Meyers, Vicki V., Mel Phillips, Rene Fenstermacher, Julie Lansing, Cheryl Parrish, Laurie Peterson, Michelle Landes, Tara Unversagt, Monika King, Stella Tong, Lynn Ingram, Amy Hutner (not HUNTER!!), Michelle Ignash, Dara Richman, Kristi Morrow, Sarah Mattes, Juliana Bahr-Thompson (our Aussie import), Hani Freudenberger, and a ton of other rad women riders help us raise our game and enjoy our rides day in, day out.
32. Paul Che and Nick Pollack went down to Central America and knocked out a nine-day stage race. Awesome and impressive. Under the tutelage of Rudy Napolitano, we’re expecting Nick to bust ’em up in 2013.
33. Adam Duvendeck made 2012 the Year of the Velodrome by putting the South Bay’s Velo Center where it belongs: front and center. Lots of great racing, open training, and a whole new environment to help make the track more than just a “niche within a niche.” Kudos as well to LAVRA.
34. Connie Paraskevin quietly churned out another crop of talented, hard working cyclists. Her work over the years has been extraordinary, and this year is no exception.
35. Jules Gilliam the Young shredded fields, broke legs, and humiliated all but the strongest adult men on the Switchbacks this year time after time. What an impressive racer.
36. Diego Binatena upped his game, upped his category to Cat 2, pulled off another string of impressive junior and Cat 3 wins riding for Team Specialized, and hammed it up for the camera with Pippo Pozzato. Look for this talented and hard working young man to do even greater things in 2013.
37. Gus Bayle made sure that 2012 was another year of the most good-natured peloton in America. This year, though, Gus was more than funny, historical, and always there to help: He’s riding faster and leaner than he has in years. We’re not sure if this is good for, or bad for, his jokes. We’ll let you know.
38. Lauren Mulwitz went to some little race in Colorado, the Leadville Something, and pulled off an amazing result in addition to her stellar finishes in the qualifying races. Thank goodness she hasn’t dived into women’s road racing yet, as she’s got the speed, strength, and savvy to lay waste!
39. Although I know Bakersfield is a bit, uh, far from the South Bay, the contingent of Courtland Keith, Jim Pappe, and Gareth Feldstein made an impact on us. Courtland introduced the pink unicorn socks to the South Bay, courtesy of Gnarlube. Jim represented at countless local ‘cross races. Gareth showed up one day and destroyed on the Switchbacks. They’re doing something right up there in Hooterville.
40. I know I’ve left you off, forgotten something, but hey, it’s 5:25 AM and I’m ready to go back to bed. Drop me a line and I’ll be sure to add your impressive achievement to this signal list!