The Legend of Shirtless Keith

If you ever meet someone who claims to know what’s up in the South Bay, you can ask this simple question. “Do you know Shirtless Keith?”

The answer will tell you all you need to know.

Shirtless Keith isn’t legendary or even mythical. He’s way beyond that. He is the Holy Grail in bicycling.

Shirtless Keith rides (you’ll never guess) without a shirt. And instead of girlish Italian cycling shoes with fancy clip-in pedals, he rides with boots. Big, heavy boots. Boots that you can use for pedaling a bike or for walking 10 miles one-way to the brewery. Yep, he did that. And after having a few beers, he walked home.

When it comes to nutrition, Shirtless Keith don’t need no fancy-shmancy biker Barbie food. “Cyclists” carefully consume properly balanced foodstuffs made by elves who grew each organic ingredient on a small plot of earth farmed by earthworms and hippies from the 60’s. When Keith starts running low on fuel, you know what he eats?

Pop-Tarts.

Yep. You heard me right. And when he gets a hankering for a Pop-Tart he doesn’t reach into his jersey pocket because, shirtless, he don’t wear no stinkin’ jersey. Instead he pulls over, unstraps the bungee cord on his rack that holds down the Pop-Tarts, and eats it on the spot. And Shirtless Keith don’t need no water bottle. When he gets thirsty he rides over to a water fountain and drinks.

You think I’m joking? That’s okay, you’re just proving that you don’t know squat about the South Bay.

Keith rides an old cromoly Raleigh with knobby tires and a steering tube that’s longer than a fishing pole. Keith don’t need no carbon and no 25mm tires. All Keith needs is a 55-tooth chain ring, and that’s all he’s got. If the 55 is too big that just means he has to pedal harder.

And Keith don’t need no Internet coach. He rides 48 miles a day, seven days a week. But his favorite day is Saturday because that’s when the Donut Ride goes off. Keith rides around until the group comes barreling up to the Domes and he hops in with the leaders, goes to the front, drops a couple of people (usually me), then swings off and finishes the climb by himself.

Keith’s signature move is to troll for wankers. It never takes long to hook some mid-40s dude on a $15,000 rig. The dude takes one look at Keith’s boots, 40-lb. bike and shirtless back, rolls his eyes, puts the hammer down, and blows by. Dude looks back and sees that yeah, he passed Shirtless Keith, but now Shirtless Keith is passing him. Fast. Dude hops onto Keith’s wheel and pretty soon he’s stuffed into the pain burrito as Keith gets the 55 rolling.

Then Keith stands up and starts pounding like the world’s biggest mashed potato maker, and pretty soon the dude is gazing down at his $5,000 power meter which is telling him that he left his FTP back in Portuguese Bend and it’s exactly fifteen seconds to detonation time.

Shirtless Keith rides away.

If you talk to him he is humble and polite and the friendliest guy on the Hill. One time he hopped in with the Aussie women’s national team and rode with them around the peninsula. Like the classy guy he is, he asked if he could join before hopping in.

The funny people are the ones who tell him to “get a road bike” because he’ll “be a beast.” These are always people he’s shelled, by the way, like a rotten pecan.

Keith don’t wanna be no roadie. Keith don’t want no road bike and no fancy outfit. Keith wants to ride his bike, troll for wankers, hop in on the Donut every now and again, and enjoy cycling his way, on his terms, not yours. One Shirtless Keith is better than all the Velominati put together.

Like I said, the Holy Grail.

shirtless_ketih
Shirtless Keith bringing the heat on Crest!
shirtless_calves
Boots. Cutoffs. Leather belt. Man’s legs. Pop-Tarts. 12-inch steering tube. Legend.
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Shirtless Keith Google Street View, Trump Golf Course.

END

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45 thoughts on “The Legend of Shirtless Keith”

  1. That Bike!
    And then Keith, aero, tucked, bombing down some PV Hill, on That Bike!
    Hey Zeus what a sight!

  2. Michelle landes

    This is great I’m saving it to show him💙💙 NG and I had a great ride back from coffee with him . He said don’t worry I’m not following you girls to your house just tryin to get the miles in. He told me once he does repeats up crown veiw !!!!!!! Very sweet guy

    1. I rode with him up Crownview back in January. He must have been taking it easy because he stayed back and chatted with me. There were a couple of construction crews working on the road and they all were cheering for him and yelling things like “you finally got someone to ride with you.” He told me that a few days earlier he had done Crownview 14 times in one day!! He said for the first 2 hours he could do 4 times per hour, but after that it got hard. At the top I thanked him for pacing me up (PR for me) and he lied and thanked me for pushing him. When we got to the bottom, he turned around and did it again. Truly awesome guy.

  3. Yep, Shirtless Keith and Lone Wolf (the West Side guy, who rides the strand on the white lotus track bike with double disk wheels), LA classics in the biking world. Thanks for writing Keith’s story.

    1. Last couple of times I saw the Lone Wolf guy on the Ballona Creek bridge, he was riding a fat bike. I haven’t seen the Lotus lately. That bike was amazing.

      1. He’s reworking it. The bling started to yellow. He figured out the problem and removed all the rhinestones and is redoing it. That bike will never stop morphing as long as Lone Wolf lives. 🙂

  4. Arkansas Traveler

    I just saw Shirtless Keith this morning on the switchbacks. He was in his usual fine form.

    1. Michelle landes

      Great news I was worried when he didn’t show to the donut! Maybe he was in a wheatgrass mood😀

  5. Arkansas Traveler

    Just saw shirtless Keith on the switchbacks this morning. He was in his usual final form.

  6. This story is great!!! NEVER judge a rider ability by his bike or kit….NEVER….

  7. Saw him today on VdM as we were finishing. He was of course, going uphill for more. We all said hello, he looked surprised and smiled.

    Like the other commenter above, i too believe that yes, in these uncertain times, a Shirtless Keith siting is like a good luck omen.

  8. I saw him riding his bike on the Strand a couple of weeks ago, he must have been going somewhere real special…he was wearing a shirt. Nice sunny day it was too!

  9. I’m mostly a solo act, but Iv’e had greetings with Mr. K, and he always has something good to say.

    There is a tremendous marketing op here for the industry.
    Want a bike just like his? 12K
    Boots? $500
    The exclusive non-jersey? $500.

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