CBR Crit #1: Big bang theory

January 17, 2018 Comments Off on CBR Crit #1: Big bang theory

If you look at the SoCal bike racing calendar, it is pretty slim pickings for road racing. The first road race of the year, Tuttle Creek, got torn off the calendar, presumably to be rescheduled, where “presumably” means “if Steve gets around to it.” After that there is the Santa Barbara road race, famed for the dude who flipped off the bridge and miraculously survived with a Spidey save, the UCLA road race, and the Victorville road race. Everything else is basically a crit. The CBR crit series is especially like a crit. Having a race calendar with nothing but crits is like having a sex life with nothing but handjobs. You may get good at it, but it leaves a lot be desired.

However, Jeff and Kris Prinz have charged into their second year as owners of the CBR crit series. They have done an amazing job with it. The team area now sports a plethora of colorful tents and racers instead of its former aura, which was more reminiscent of a holding tank filled with alcoholic suicides. When the CBR races take off, they do so under a big inflatable banner that makes you feel like you’re special and not some dork in his underwear about to fall on his head fighting for a candy bar prime.

But most importantly, the CBR crit series is like a necessary encounter with a proctologist’s latex finger: Smooth, unpleasant, and over quickly. That’s crit racing, folks, so get used to it. Of course it is vastly superior to a 2km ITT where a pair of 70+ gentlemen fight for a world chumpionship jersey so that they can put rainbow stripes on their business cards and compare their exploits to Peter Sagan.

Go ahead and register now!

The CBR crit series is a lot of fun and I plan to be at all of them; I did a bunch last year, and the year before, and the year before … Now that I’m in the RFO (really fuggin’ old) category of 55+, it means that I can race three races all before noon, which is good, because in this category anything that happens after twelve gets hunted down and killed by my mid-day nap. But there are a lot of other great reasons to race the CBR series, for example:

  1. You’re supporting people who are doing their damndest to keep a niche, weird, socially awkward sport alive, and it’s cheaper than rehab.
  2. Bike racing is fun as hell when you’re not crashing, getting dropped, getting chopped, giving up, or having all your hair fall out and testes shrink down to green pea-size nuggets because of the steroids.
  3. Although losing sucks, and losing is basically all you’ll ever do at a bike race, the odds are better than PowerBall.
  4. Jeff and Kris have a cool podium you can stand on when you win (See #3).
  5. Madcap announcers Dave Wells and David “Raining Meatballs” Worthington are more fun to listen to than a drunk family squabble over who gets to eat the last Eskimo Pie.
  6. You can’t be a bike racer if you don’t race yer fuggin’ bike.

Especially, especially, especially #6. See you there.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.

Feeeeelings!

December 2, 2017 Comments Off on Feeeeelings!

Many years ago, when this blog got underway, a true friend said this: “It’s good because it has a point of view. That’s what sets it apart.” He used to be the editor-in-chief of a major surfing magazine, and he knew about writing.

What he didn’t add was that “When you have a point of view, people will get their feelings hurt.” He needn’t have. I’ve been hurting feelings since I was old enough to talk.

When I blogged yesterday about what a bike racer is, and what a bike racer isn’t, it was like applying sandpaper to a sore rectum, and one of my subscribers made what he thought was the ultimate statement of disapproval by canceling his $2.99 monthly subscription. There’s a lot wrapped up in the idea that someone you’ve known for years can be so violently in disagreement that, unable to speak or write, the only way he can voice his anger is by withholding $2.99. Setting aside for a moment that people who use withholding money as a substitute for talking, especially when it concerns someone you know, the sad fact is that this person is one who loved hearing the truth until he felt like it concerned him personally. At that point he preferred something a bit less truthy.

“Satire is a mirror in which the reader sees every face but his own,” said Jonathan Swift, to which I’d add, “And when he does, he cancels his blog subscription.”

So I did what I always do. I emailed him a thank-you note for his long support and told him I was sorry to see him go. But what I didn’t tell him is that his petulance helped me a lot. It took me back to why I started writing this blog in the first place: To express my point of view. Not his, not hers, and not yours. Mine.

And as I considered that nugget and the friend who had encouraged it many years ago, I thought about what that point of view actually was. What is this blog really about?

The short answer is that it’s about cycling in the South Bay, but the add-on is this: And a lot of bike racing. This got me to wondering why the simple post of trying to define what a bike racer is pissed this poor guy off so utterly. The answer is a little bit complex.

A couple of months ago, before I walked away from #socmed, I noticed that my bike racing club didn’t have very many bike racers as compared to total club membership. I thought that was weird. Why would you join a club whose non-profit status is dependent on the mission of promoting and educating people about amateur bike racing, if you didn’t race, or want to race, or want to help other people race? What in the world about it could possibly be appealing?

So I looked around and noticed that my bike racing club was like almost every other bike racing club in Southern California. Lots of emphasis on “club,” not much emphasis on “racing.” And our club had more race entries than any other club in the state for the last two years running … and provides full, 100% race reimbursement no questions asked … and has a weekly racing newsletter … and mind-blowing discounts on clothes and equipment and bikes … and has a major physical presence at almost every race … and legendary weekly team training rides … and detailed race training plans … yet for all that, the actual number of people who pin on a number and go race is a minority of the membership.

Why?

The short answer is that even though bike racers look ridiculous and act ridiculous and are ridiculous, once you start riding a bike you realize that as ridiculous as they are, they are often the fastest people on the training ride. Or the group ride. Or the grand fondue. Or the local training crit. Or the fun ride. Or the coffee ride. Or wherever. And so you want to be like them, with this exception: You don’t want to actually race.

You want to wear racing clothes. Ride a racing bike. Do the faux group ride “races” and “race” on Strava. Memorize the “Velominati.” But that thing where you pin on a fuggin’ number and throw yourself into the middle of a bunch of aggro, fast-moving, win-at-all-cost nutjobs, risking death and catastrophic injury for the fantastic reward of 25th place or DNF or DFL? Uh, no thanks.

And just to be clear, that’s fine with me. There are as many ways to bike happiness as there are people on bikes. Bike racing isn’t for everyone, and these days it hardly seems to be for anyone. But regardless, a small cadre of people still do it, and another cadre of people still bust their butts to make the races happen. It’s a community and it includes lots of colorful characters, but the single most basic unit, the one that’s irreplaceable, is the nutjob willing to pin on the fuggin’ number, a/k/a the bike racer.

And just to be even more clear, I am glad when non-racers join our club. One day they may get inspired. One day they may help out at a race. Whatever they do, they’re often nice people, a little quirky, and fun to be around. The big tent is and should be open for everyone.

But it bothered me that relatively few people, people who seemed interested in racing, and people who posed and posted with all the accoutrements of bike racing, never raced. Were they anti-racing, or simply lacking a safe and encouraging environment in which to give it a shot? So, ripping off the very successful idea of our soul-sister-cum-competitor Velo Club La Grange, we did our own intraclub race series, and you know what? All hell broke loose, and it broke both ways.

The first wave of hell that shocked and stunned me was the extraordinary number of members who had never raced who, when given a free and safe and convenient and supportive venue, came out and raced their fuggin’ bikes. Most of them beat me like a rugbeater on a dusty carpet. All of them enjoyed the pre-race anxiety, the racing adrenaline, and the satisfaction of having done a real bike race. And the ones who didn’t race worked as volunteers, helping make the actual event happen. It’s amazing to think that members of a bike racing club would enjoy a bike race; almost as amazing as the thought that a bike racing club would actually put one on.

And let there be no bones about it, it was a club decision from the top down. Every single board member raced … how about that? And there were people who didn’t race, who didn’t want to race, but who showed up to help, because that’s the mission of the club: to promote bicycle racing. What could possibly make more sense and be less controversial than members of a bike racing club participating in, promoting, and assisting with an actual bike race?

Apparently, though, it rubbed at least one subscriber the wrong way. I’m not sure why; not being on #socmed anymore I’ve been spared all the details and have sniffed only the distant stench of the dust-em-up. But the bottom line is that somehow, by having your bike racing club put on a bike race and encouraging all bike race club members to race their bikes or help out, something elitist and exclusionary happened. Half of that I’ll agree with. If you didn’t want to help or enter or watch the bike race, you were pretty much excluded from it (by choice). But elitist? A free event open to everyone regardless of category, and a prohibition on all forms of high tech, expensive aero equipment? That’s elitist?

No, it’s not. It’s a bike racing club getting back to its roots at a time when this kind of thing couldn’t be more crucial if we are to survive. Because here’s the deal: If you don’t pin on a fuggin’ number and participate in an organized bike race, you ain’t a bike racer. You can wear the shit, ride the shit, and talk the shit, but you are not a bike racer, and you may be able to fool everyone at work and at home, but you ain’t fooling me.

Because words matter. The outside world may think we’re dopey, and you may think we’re dopey, but when Daniel Holloway drops in to ride with the locals, it’s awesome and you know it. When Fabian Cancellara shows up at Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica it’s a mob scene, and you know who’s taking all the selfies? The non-racers, that’s who! The ones who think racing is dumb, risky, a waste of time, and a waste of money swarm ol’ Fabian like flies on a big, stinking pile of, uh, honey.

So I thought about all this and decided to help people get their heads on straight about who was a bike racer and who wasn’t by writing yesterday’s post. It’s important because if you get to bask in the reflected glow of Holloway and Cancellara, if you get to “wink wink nod nod” imply that you’re a bike racer because you’re the group ride horseman, or because you just bought the coolest wheels ever, then you are ripping off everyone, especially yourself. What you’re also doing is missing a great opportunity. As our club races series showed, anyone can do a bike race. Bike racing isn’t complicated if you don’t want it to be. It can be safe and fun and done with zero fitness. If you think Fabian is cool enough for you to drool over, then trust me, you will get ten times more pleasure pinning on a number.

No one judges you because you don’t race. Every bike racer judges you for pretending to, but not.

Of course if it was just fakery and pretense I’d be down with it. This is SoCal, after all. But every person who pretends to be a bike racer and basks in the fake glory of looking and acting like one discourages other people from racing. If the payoff (and for some people, sadly, it is) is getting to preen and strut, but all you have to do is shop aggressively to earn the cred, then why bother to race?

Answer: People don’t.

The trend has become a toilet drain spiral, where there are actual groupings now called “concept” teams, where the sole purpose is to, for example, sell bicycle clothing. No need to race. No need to have a license. No need to do anything to be on a “concept racing team” other than buy into its “concept.” If you look the part, you’re in. But if you’re fat, slow, a little intimidated, but down inside really want to try out racing, well, tough. Because the concept team don’t need no racers, and it sure don’t need no fatties.

This is totally different from actual bike racing, which thrives on fatties, and is in fact filled with people who had significant weight problems but overcame them through training, diet, preparation, and a goal–the goal of racing. I could go through the list of current competitors who used to be morbidly obese who are now trim and fit and hard-charging bike racers. None of them would ever have made the “concept team.” So for each person who pretends or implies or suggests that they race because they, you know, associate with bike racers, there’s a counterpart who says “I’d like to race but why should I? These concept folks are way more popular and good looking and none of them seem to know anything about racing anyway.”

The fashionista elitism of non-racers is helping suck the life out of racing. Is the end of bike racing a bad thing? Of course not. Bike racing is as dumb today as it was when I started racing in 1984. If it’s going to die, let it. But don’t let it die because people who might otherwise have discovered its excitement and beauty were discouraged by the concept teamsters. Don’t let it die because 501(c)3 non-profit corporations dedicated to bike racing were too chicken-ass to encourage people to race. Don’t let it die because those who were engaged got subverted by those who couldn’t get out of bed early enough to train. And for fuck’s sake, don’t let it die because of Facebag and Strava.

What our club race series has shown (52 sign-ups for the 10-mile TT tomorrow, by the way) is that a whole bunch of people who belong to a bike racing club really do want to race their bikes, and that a whole bunch of non-bike racers are happy to come out and volunteer time and energy to make the racing happen. Give the bike racing people what they want, and let that dude who doesn’t care about this amazing sport cancel his $2.99 subscription, and kiss my ass goodbye.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and pay to support what you might otherwise take for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Pointy-sharp

September 7, 2017 § 16 Comments

I had lunch with a guy today. He’s sixty-two years old and looks like most 62-year-old dudes. Not in the best of shape, maybe drinks a bit more than he should, doing okay but definitely on the down side of the power curve.

He was talking about young people, a favorite topic of old people. Young people, however, don’t ever talk about old people. In fact, they hardly are even aware we exist. “Yeah,” he said, “I tell my kids that if they can just show up on time and look presentable, they’ve already won more than half the battle. Don’t matter what the battle even is.”

It made me think about my bike rides, which always start on time. I’m fond of telling people the start time and then adding “pointy-sharp.” With few exceptions, when it’s time to ride, I ride. If you get left behind because you had a flat or an extra cup of coffee or got up late or changed arm warmers at the last minute, well, hopefully you know the route and are familiar with something called “chase.”

In cycling, it’s funny how people who show up on time with their equipment and clothes in superb order often correlate with people who ride well. Lots of examples come to mind. Daniel Holloway, for instance. He’s always early, his kit is always spiffy, and his bike is always immaculate. Or Evens Stievenart, the lokalmotor who just set the world-fucking-record for 24-hour racing … he’s another person who’s punctual, and whose equipment always looks like it just got cleaned. I suspect this is because his equipment just got cleaned.

There are exceptions, of course. I have one friend who is lethally good but who is the enemy of the punctual and whose gear isn’t always in the finest working order. But even he, when it’s race day, gets there on time and makes sure his stuff is race ready. And in his day job he’s invariably on time for meetings and looks like the professional he is.

At the extreme end of the spectrum there are people like Iron Mike and Smasher and Stern-O, for whom timeliness and especially cleanliness are religions. Hair and Charon are two other riders who always look GQ and who ride even better.

Of course showing up on time and having clean equipment doesn’t magically equate to great riding skills. But on the other hand, it’s hard to have great riding skills and also be careless about time and the condition of your junk. Possible, but hard.

Being on time sounds easy, but it isn’t. All the stuff has to be in order. You have to get up early enough to eat, to covfefe, to have the right clothes on. Air in the tires. Kayle Sauce in the bottles. In short, you have to be organized, which is exactly one of the things that it takes to ride well, having the ability to do a bunch of things simultaneously in a group of people also doing a bunch of things simultaneously and not wind up on the pavement or off the back. In other words, if you can’t get your shit together enough to roll out the door on time, how well will you be able to perform in something like the individual pursuit, where meaningful differences are fractions of a second?

I’m continually amazed by people who are always late, and who regularly show up with mismatched socks, threadbare tires, uncharged batteries, helmet askew, empty bottles, and who are totally unprepared for all the totally predictable things that happen when you ride a bike. Even when they ride me off their wheel I can’t help but observe how much better they’d be if their tires actually had air in them.

Jeff Fields, the guy who invented bike racing in Texas, was a detail fiend when it came to showing up early, having his bike in perfect working order, and looking like he just stepped out of a cycling fashion catalog.

And you know what? He won a whole bunch of races.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Pointy-sharp

September 7, 2017 § 16 Comments

I had lunch with a guy today. He’s sixty-two years old and looks like most 62-year-old dudes. Not in the best of shape, maybe drinks a bit more than he should, doing okay but definitely on the down side of the power curve.

He was talking about young people, a favorite topic of old people. Young people, however, don’t ever talk about old people. In fact, they hardly are even aware we exist. “Yeah,” he said, “I tell my kids that if they can just show up on time and look presentable, they’ve already won more than half the battle. Don’t matter what the battle even is.”

It made me think about my bike rides, which always start on time. I’m fond of telling people the start time and then adding “pointy-sharp.” With few exceptions, when it’s time to ride, I ride. If you get left behind because you had a flat or an extra cup of coffee or got up late or changed arm warmers at the last minute, well, hopefully you know the route and are familiar with something called “chase.”

In cycling, it’s funny how people who show up on time with their equipment and clothes in superb order often correlate with people who ride well. Lots of examples come to mind. Daniel Holloway, for instance. He’s always early, his kit is always spiffy, and his bike is always immaculate. Or Evens Stievenart, the lokalmotor who just set the world-fucking-record for 24-hour racing … he’s another person who’s punctual, and whose equipment always looks like it just got cleaned. I suspect this is because his equipment just got cleaned.

There are exceptions, of course. I have one friend who is lethally good but who is the enemy of the punctual and whose gear isn’t always in the finest working order. But even he, when it’s race day, gets there on time and makes sure his stuff is race ready. And in his day job he’s invariably on time for meetings and looks like the professional he is.

At the extreme end of the spectrum there are people like Iron Mike and Smasher and Stern-O, for whom timeliness and especially cleanliness are religions. Hair and Charon are two other riders who always look GQ and who ride even better.

Of course showing up on time and having clean equipment doesn’t magically equate to great riding skills. But on the other hand, it’s hard to have great riding skills and also be careless about time and the condition of your junk. Possible, but hard.

Being on time sounds easy, but it isn’t. All the stuff has to be in order. You have to get up early enough to eat, to covfefe, to have the right clothes on. Air in the tires. Kayle Sauce in the bottles. In short, you have to be organized, which is exactly one of the things that it takes to ride well, having the ability to do a bunch of things simultaneously in a group of people also doing a bunch of things simultaneously and not wind up on the pavement or off the back. In other words, if you can’t get your shit together enough to roll out the door on time, how well will you be able to perform in something like the individual pursuit, where meaningful differences are fractions of a second?

I’m continually amazed by people who are always late, and who regularly show up with mismatched socks, threadbare tires, uncharged batteries, helmet askew, empty bottles, and who are totally unprepared for all the totally predictable things that happen when you ride a bike. Even when they ride me off their wheel I can’t help but observe how much better they’d be if their tires actually had air in them.

Jeff Fields, the guy who invented bike racing in Texas, was a detail fiend when it came to showing up early, having his bike in perfect working order, and looking like he just stepped out of a cycling fashion catalog.

And you know what? He won a whole bunch of races.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.

south_bay_cycling_awards_poster_2017_final

Heartbreak Hotel

August 9, 2017 § 38 Comments

With one lap to go I was a few minutes from achieving the only thing I have ever desired in life, that is a victory at our local training crit a/k/a Telo.

The field was a mishmash of gizzards, car parts, tree roots, defective Morton-Thiokol O-rings, broken razor blades, bald tires, and sunken galleons on the Spanish Main, as the pack had disintegrated shortly after re-entry, leaving only Frexit, Head Down James, Hair, and me in three-man-one-robot breakaway.

With seven laps to go, Frexit had urged me “Easy, easy!” as we came through Turn 4, which in bikeracespeak means “Ouchy!” So I waited a lap and attacked, shedding my unwelcome partners in an honest effort to toss them onto the garbage pile of discarded racers.

My hands were tied. If I sat in the break until the finish I would certainly get fourth. If I attacked I would [certainly – .0000001%] get fourth. So I had to go with the percentage shot.

Five laps to go and the gap held steady.

Four laps to go and I started pulling away.

Three laps to go and they clawed some of it back.

Two laps to go and it held at ten seconds.

One lap to go they were eight seconds back. Dreams of victory danced through my windshield. A lifetime of groveling was about to be rewarded with a few seconds swallowing a deep draught of the elixir of victory. Repeated beatings at the hands of unpleasant people was about to result in the bootheel landing on their neck instead of mine. Revenge would be sweeter than a diabetic dessert.

I rehearsed my victory speech, remembering to thank the little people who had made me who I am, thanking my parents, my deceased dog Fletcher, Phil who sold me my first bike, Fields, and then moving on to my wife, children, and a brief explanation of the dedication and hard work it had taken to reach what to the casual observer looked like an overnight success.

My speech, however, failed to account for the bitter hatred that Head Down James felt deep within his soul. Even though I had mentored him as a beginning cyclist by shouting epithets at him, screaming at him to lift up his fucking head, and trying to intimidate him at every turn, he apparently had forgotten all those little kindnesses and was now hell bent on revenge.

With Head Down James preferring to drag Frexit and Hair up to me so they could smear him in the sprunt rather than seeing me walk off with a glorious, life-altering victory that I would mockingly hold over his head for all time, he buried himself and closed the gap with only a few hundred yards left to go. Head Down James knew that the ignominy of being dropped out of his own breakaway and then beaten by a solo move at the hands of the leakiest, braggiest, un-cagiest racer in America would put paid to his professional athletic career. Frexit also knew that a Wanky defeat before his assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Velo would cause an emotional collapse from which he might never recover. Hair didn’t care; he wasn’t getting higher than second no matter what and he knew it.

Head Down James’s effort was enough. Aaron and Frexit buried him, and worse, they buried me. I praised them insincerely afterwards, congratulated them while secretly wishing that each were slowly beheaded by a rusty table saw, and pedaled home, crushed.

And although you may not give a damn, my dear, tomorrow is another day.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Heartbreak Hotel

August 9, 2017 § 38 Comments

With one lap to go I was a few minutes from achieving the only thing I have ever desired in life, that is a victory at our local training crit a/k/a Telo.

The field was a mishmash of gizzards, car parts, tree roots, defective Morton-Thiokol O-rings, broken razor blades, bald tires, and sunken galleons on the Spanish Main, as the pack had disintegrated shortly after re-entry, leaving only Frexit, Head Down James, Hair, and me in three-man-one-robot breakaway.

With seven laps to go, Frexit had urged me “Easy, easy!” as we came through Turn 4, which in bikeracespeak means “Ouchy!” So I waited a lap and attacked, shedding my unwelcome partners in an honest effort to toss them onto the garbage pile of discarded racers.

My hands were tied. If I sat in the break until the finish I would certainly get fourth. If I attacked I would [certainly – .0000001%] get fourth. So I had to go with the percentage shot.

Five laps to go and the gap held steady.

Four laps to go and I started pulling away.

Three laps to go and they clawed some of it back.

Two laps to go and it held at ten seconds.

One lap to go they were eight seconds back. Dreams of victory danced through my windshield. A lifetime of groveling was about to be rewarded with a few seconds swallowing a deep draught of the elixir of victory. Repeated beatings at the hands of unpleasant people was about to result in the bootheel landing on their neck instead of mine. Revenge would be sweeter than a diabetic dessert.

I rehearsed my victory speech, remembering to thank the little people who had made me who I am, thanking my parents, my deceased dog Fletcher, Phil who sold me my first bike, Fields, and then moving on to my wife, children, and a brief explanation of the dedication and hard work it had taken to reach what to the casual observer looked like an overnight success.

My speech, however, failed to account for the bitter hatred that Head Down James felt deep within his soul. Even though I had mentored him as a beginning cyclist by shouting epithets at him, screaming at him to lift up his fucking head, and trying to intimidate him at every turn, he apparently had forgotten all those little kindnesses and was now hell bent on revenge.

With Head Down James preferring to drag Frexit and Hair up to me so they could smear him in the sprunt rather than seeing me walk off with a glorious, life-altering victory that I would mockingly hold over his head for all time, he buried himself and closed the gap with only a few hundred yards left to go. Head Down James knew that the ignominy of being dropped out of his own breakaway and then beaten by a solo move at the hands of the leakiest, braggiest, un-cagiest racer in America would put paid to his professional athletic career. Frexit also knew that a Wanky defeat before his assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Velo would cause an emotional collapse from which he might never recover. Hair didn’t care; he wasn’t getting higher than second no matter what and he knew it.

Head Down James’s effort was enough. Aaron and Frexit buried him, and worse, they buried me. I praised them insincerely afterwards, congratulated them while secretly wishing that each were slowly beheaded by a rusty table saw, and pedaled home, crushed.

And although you may not give a damn, my dear, tomorrow is another day.

END

———————–

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and get none of the news that’s fit to print but all the news that’s fun to read. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

Risk

April 26, 2017 § 12 Comments

I hope you like reading about Steve Tilford and the things he said, wrote, and did. Since his death I can’t stop thinking about him, which is weird because I only met him twice. The more I read, combing through his War and Peace of-a-blog, the more things stand out and make me think.

Steve wrote a lot about risk, indirectly and indirectly, something especially germane to cyclists in general and road cyclists in particular. Here’s one of his quotes:

We hate to admit it, but we don’t have control of our lives minute by minute. This is the way in bicycle racing. And in the way in life. The best way I know to do exceptional things in the sport, or in life, is to live a bit on the risky side. Get out of your comfort level. Raise your comfort level. In racing, hopefully, this will become your new base, your new comfort level, and this will allow you to progress in the sport. In life, it is a way to gain new experiences and to realize that the barriers that were holding you back were really not there at all.

Steve was superficially the archetypal big risk taker, or so it seems when you read through the things he experienced, tried, failed at, and conquered. But in the most basic way he wasn’t a big risk taker. He was a very careful guy. He did things after careful preparation, he never leaped blindly with no plan or idea or concern about the possible outcomes, and he always reevaluated and used what he learned to hone his approach the next time.

For him, risk wasn’t something to be avoided. It was something to be embraced, analyzed, and wary of, all at the same time.

Steve engaged in a hugely risky sport and survived it by constantly reducing risk. Checking equipment, evaluating the course, evaluating himself, evaluating the competition, taking calculated risks … all these things allowed him to thrive and survive.

What’s interesting is that Steve died not as the result of an incident on his bike, but while driving. In a way, this kind of makes sense. Driving is the riskiest thing any of us will ever do. No matter how good you are, how careful you are, or how experienced you are, Interstate travel over long distances carries with it so many risks that are so difficult to mitigate, especially when you do it for the millions of miles that Steve did. Crisscrossing the US in a van is so boring compared to bike racing, but it was ultimately the hazard that ended Steve’s life. Weather, night time, trucks, and so many other factors all came into play at just the wrong time.

If it had happened to someone else, Steve would never have concluded that we should stop driving, or that we should quit racing, or that we should quit taking risks.

Instead, he would have learned from it and not made the same mistake twice. He didn’t get a do-over. But we do.

END

———————–

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Risk

April 26, 2017 § 12 Comments

I hope you like reading about Steve Tilford and the things he said, wrote, and did. Since his death I can’t stop thinking about him, which is weird because I only met him twice. The more I read, combing through his War and Peace of-a-blog, the more things stand out and make me think.

Steve wrote a lot about risk, indirectly and indirectly, something especially germane to cyclists in general and road cyclists in particular. Here’s one of his quotes:

We hate to admit it, but we don’t have control of our lives minute by minute. This is the way in bicycle racing. And in the way in life. The best way I know to do exceptional things in the sport, or in life, is to live a bit on the risky side. Get out of your comfort level. Raise your comfort level. In racing, hopefully, this will become your new base, your new comfort level, and this will allow you to progress in the sport. In life, it is a way to gain new experiences and to realize that the barriers that were holding you back were really not there at all.

Steve was superficially the archetypal big risk taker, or so it seems when you read through the things he experienced, tried, failed at, and conquered. But in the most basic way he wasn’t a big risk taker. He was a very careful guy. He did things after careful preparation, he never leaped blindly with no plan or idea or concern about the possible outcomes, and he always reevaluated and used what he learned to hone his approach the next time.

For him, risk wasn’t something to be avoided. It was something to be embraced, analyzed, and wary of, all at the same time.

Steve engaged in a hugely risky sport and survived it by constantly reducing risk. Checking equipment, evaluating the course, evaluating himself, evaluating the competition, taking calculated risks … all these things allowed him to thrive and survive.

What’s interesting is that Steve died not as the result of an incident on his bike, but while driving. In a way, this kind of makes sense. Driving is the riskiest thing any of us will ever do. No matter how good you are, how careful you are, or how experienced you are, Interstate travel over long distances carries with it so many risks that are so difficult to mitigate, especially when you do it for the millions of miles that Steve did. Crisscrossing the US in a van is so boring compared to bike racing, but it was ultimately the hazard that ended Steve’s life. Weather, night time, trucks, and so many other factors all came into play at just the wrong time.

If it had happened to someone else, Steve would never have concluded that we should stop driving, or that we should quit racing, or that we should quit taking risks.

Instead, he would have learned from it and not made the same mistake twice. He didn’t get a do-over. But we do.

END

———————–

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Oh, I’m so sorry

July 3, 2016 § 27 Comments

I gave up about thirty years ago trying to make people feel better about my 68th place in the parking lot crit. Now I don’t even tell anyone I’m racing, and my family knows better than to ask, “How’d it go?” Still, every now and then a friend of a friend or a friend of a family member gets a whiff of the bike race, and in kindness and curiosity and ignorance they peg me with “How was your race?”

This happened last night at the table. Some friends of the kids had come over for dinner and they had brought their dogs. I love dogs. We were talking about the grandbaby and about how he hadn’t shit for the last couple of days. I’d forgotten how dinner table talk changes with an infant, and a two-day shit hiatus was quite relevant to everyone’s existence because now it was just a matter of when, how much, and who was going to be holding him cooing “He’s SOOOO adorable!” at the moment he uncorked a diaper buster.

In between shit speculation I kept an eye on the dogs, one of whom was doing the Itchy Ass Butt Scoot on our carpet. That’s the thing where the dog drags its butthole over every square inch of the floor with a happy look on its face and dares you to stop him. Of course we lie on the carpet along with the baby, and it was great to see that we were going to have a whole new intestinal biota to build baby’s immune system. I was less thrilled about my own immune system, which was already pretty strong and didn’t need another dog-ass inoculation, but oh, well. Guests and their pets.

About the time the butt scoot wrapped up, the other dog did the Pink Wet Dick Couch Drag. You know this one, it is so cute. The dog lets his giant pink penis flop out on the couch and it just hangs there, leaving a snail trail as he waggles it from side to side. As a man it’s hard not to envy anyone who can simply show the world his engorged sloppy dick and, with a stupid smile, say, “See? That’s my glistening wet dick. How do you like it?”

Of course the guests were total butt-scoot & dick-drag pros, so we all laughed it off with “Aren’t they cute?” and “What a nice penis!” and “Dogshit on my clothes is so DTLA!” and we all pretended that it was totally cool and we continued with dinner. That’s when the guest, who had heard I had been to a bike race, asked The Question That Shall Not Be Asked.

“How was your bike race? I heard you went to a bike race?”

I put down my fork. “It went great, thanks.”

And then The Question That Shall Not Be Asked Even More Than The Other Unaskable One: “Did you win?”

“No.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. How’d you do?”

“I got next to last, I think.”

“Oh, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I often get that.”

Now the awkwardness really set in. Dog asses on your host’s carpet, no prob. Wet pink dick on the leather couch? Cool, man. But next to last in a bike race? AWKWARD because, now sitting at dinner with a loser.

I tried to explain. “I’ve been losing at bike races for almost forty years.”

That made it even worse. The guests were inconsolable. Even the dog pulled his dick back in. So I explained.

“Look, you know how in football there are two teams?” They perked up at the mention of a real sport.

“Yeah?”

“Well in football there is one winner and one loser, right?”

“Right.”

“In bicycle racing there are 119 dribbling prostates, kind of like your dog there, but only one winner.”

“Yes?”

“So everyone loses except that one guy. Bike racers are losers. That’s all they do is lose. A .500 season in football usually won’t get you into the playoffs. A .300 winning record in bicycling makes you the winningest bike racer of all time.”

“Oh,” they said, their glum responses confirming what they already knew, which is that bicycle racing was really stupid.

“Yeah. So when you win a bike race it’s a big deal, even though it’s some stupid old farts’ race in Compton. There were 119 other idiots who lost and who all have to go home and explain to the guests at the dinner table why they’re losers.”

They stared into the gourmet dinner bowl of beans and rice. “So why do you do it if you never win?” The woman was patting the grandbaby, who had been transferred over to her lap so she could experience the joy of feeding a tiny child. It was the perfect transition from delusional old man loser to bright-future-adorable-little-thing.

“He’s sooooo adorable!” she said.

And on cue, he delivered.

END

————————

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Oh, I’m so sorry

July 3, 2016 § 27 Comments

I gave up about thirty years ago trying to make people feel better about my 68th place in the parking lot crit. Now I don’t even tell anyone I’m racing, and my family knows better than to ask, “How’d it go?” Still, every now and then a friend of a friend or a friend of a family member gets a whiff of the bike race, and in kindness and curiosity and ignorance they peg me with “How was your race?”

This happened last night at the table. Some friends of the kids had come over for dinner and they had brought their dogs. I love dogs. We were talking about the grandbaby and about how he hadn’t shit for the last couple of days. I’d forgotten how dinner table talk changes with an infant, and a two-day shit hiatus was quite relevant to everyone’s existence because now it was just a matter of when, how much, and who was going to be holding him cooing “He’s SOOOO adorable!” at the moment he uncorked a diaper buster.

In between shit speculation I kept an eye on the dogs, one of whom was doing the Itchy Ass Butt Scoot on our carpet. That’s the thing where the dog drags its butthole over every square inch of the floor with a happy look on its face and dares you to stop him. Of course we lie on the carpet along with the baby, and it was great to see that we were going to have a whole new intestinal biota to build baby’s immune system. I was less thrilled about my own immune system, which was already pretty strong and didn’t need another dog-ass inoculation, but oh, well. Guests and their pets.

About the time the butt scoot wrapped up, the other dog did the Pink Wet Dick Couch Drag. You know this one, it is so cute. The dog lets his giant pink penis flop out on the couch and it just hangs there, leaving a snail trail as he waggles it from side to side. As a man it’s hard not to envy anyone who can simply show the world his engorged sloppy dick and, with a stupid smile, say, “See? That’s my glistening wet dick. How do you like it?”

Of course the guests were total butt-scoot & dick-drag pros, so we all laughed it off with “Aren’t they cute?” and “What a nice penis!” and “Dogshit on my clothes is so DTLA!” and we all pretended that it was totally cool and we continued with dinner. That’s when the guest, who had heard I had been to a bike race, asked The Question That Shall Not Be Asked.

“How was your bike race? I heard you went to a bike race?”

I put down my fork. “It went great, thanks.”

And then The Question That Shall Not Be Asked Even More Than The Other Unaskable One: “Did you win?”

“No.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. How’d you do?”

“I got next to last, I think.”

“Oh, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I often get that.”

Now the awkwardness really set in. Dog asses on your host’s carpet, no prob. Wet pink dick on the leather couch? Cool, man. But next to last in a bike race? AWKWARD because, now sitting at dinner with a loser.

I tried to explain. “I’ve been losing at bike races for almost forty years.”

That made it even worse. The guests were inconsolable. Even the dog pulled his dick back in. So I explained.

“Look, you know how in football there are two teams?” They perked up at the mention of a real sport.

“Yeah?”

“Well in football there is one winner and one loser, right?”

“Right.”

“In bicycle racing there are 119 dribbling prostates, kind of like your dog there, but only one winner.”

“Yes?”

“So everyone loses except that one guy. Bike racers are losers. That’s all they do is lose. A .500 season in football usually won’t get you into the playoffs. A .300 winning record in bicycling makes you the winningest bike racer of all time.”

“Oh,” they said, their glum responses confirming what they already knew, which is that bicycle racing was really stupid.

“Yeah. So when you win a bike race it’s a big deal, even though it’s some stupid old farts’ race in Compton. There were 119 other idiots who lost and who all have to go home and explain to the guests at the dinner table why they’re losers.”

They stared into the gourmet dinner bowl of beans and rice. “So why do you do it if you never win?” The woman was patting the grandbaby, who had been transferred over to her lap so she could experience the joy of feeding a tiny child. It was the perfect transition from delusional old man loser to bright-future-adorable-little-thing.

“He’s sooooo adorable!” she said.

And on cue, he delivered.

END

————————

For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and rest assured that my mother is very unhappy about all of the profanity. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

 

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