Bucket list

May 14, 2017 § 6 Comments

If you ride a bike, you probably have a bucket list. I have a bucket. It sits out on the balcony and I use it to water my scraggly pine tree, which, by the way, survived fine for ten days without being tended to.

I also have a list. It is super long and it contains all of the things I have to do in order to get through the work day.

But a bucket list? I don’t really have one of those. There’s nothing I want to do, no places I want to go, no trinkets I want to decorate my walls with before I die. If I did have a bucket list, though, it would look like this:

  • Roast my own coffee beans in a frying pan.
  • Win Telo.
  • Have a grandkid.
  • Ride my bike a bunch.
  • Quit drinking.

Except for “win Telo,” my bucket list is pretty much ticked off. And the good thing about the list is that it involves things that are repetitive. As soon as I tick off “roast coffee beans” it’s time to roast some more. And of course I get to quit drinking every single day, actually, it’s more like every hour or so. “Hey! Time to not have a beer again!”

But coming back from Mallorca I realized that there are some big ticket items in life that if you can swing, well, they’re worth teeing up for. And the reason I say that is because after hanging around with a bunch of sweaty, testosterone-depleted gentlemen with oozy prostates one thing became super clear: We are about ten years older than we were last year.

Partly that’s because of the Newton-Einstein Principle of Prostates, which basically says that the older you get the faster everything happens, and not in a good way. And partly it’s because you can experience, deep down in your bones, how difficult it is and how hard it is on your body to ride “sportily” for eight or nine days in a row.

By the way, “sporty” is my new favorite word. I learned it from Jimmy Kight. We were hammering into Selva and had been grinding it out into a headwind, one of those winds that blow so hard you feel like you’re pushing a piano with your pinkie. Then we hit the rollers and the piano became a medium-sized bank vault. Made of concrete.

At the end we sat up and waited for the completely dispirited Norwaylanders and for Russell, whose derailleur had fallen off along with his interval training. “Nice riding,” Jimmy said, as we both barfed hard. “That was sporty.”

So the new word for the year is “sporty.”

But anyway, sporty riding for old people emphasizes how un-sporty you really are, and then it reminds you how few years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds you have before you take that last big pedal off into the gaping black hole of nothingness. I can’t advise you to quit your job, buy a fancy bike travel case, and book a trip to your dream cycling destination.

But I can tell you that if you put in for some deserved vacation time, go with a cardboard box, and go hang out for a few days in Spain, you’ll be glad you did.



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May 4, 2017 § 34 Comments

I’m leaving tomorrow for Mallorca, or Disneybicycleland as I like to call it. Last year I went with the bike rental thing. It was fine, especially watching everyone have to lug bike carriers, assemble, disassemble, break things, curse, throw shit, and realize that they’d brought everything except the double reverse half-spline Campy BB off-centering tool, and the only one available on the island cost $850. Euros.

The rental bike was fine. It really was. The tires were shitty, though. And it had been rode hard and put away wet. Except the chain, which had been put away dry.

It descended okay and passed the only test that mattered, which was beating Oatmeal and Twigmeal on the big climb that one day.

But this year I knew that Oatmeal and Twigmeal would be riding bigger miles, faster miles, uphillier miles, and they would be thirsting for revenge so I decided that this year I’d take my own Cannodale EVO Super Six Extra Plus Carbon a-la-carbone Elektroshift SRAM full carbon FastForward F-4 100% carbon wheels and new tires and clean chain and of course my boss South Bay Cycling handlebar tape.

I was going to need every advantage I could get to avoid being skinned alive by Oatmeal and Twigmeal, the avenging Norwegian norsemen from Norselandia who hated Karl Ove Knausgaard.

But first I needed a bike carrier. The Internet shattered my budget of $40 after a few hours of scouring, so I went to the next best thing, Boozy P., ace mechanic and hops specialist.

“Hey, Boozy, how can I ship my bike to Mallorca on the cheap?”

“That’s easy. We’ll use a bike box.”

“Like one of those things they have at the bike shop?”


“Do they work? Won’t my bike get crushed?”

“Wanky, bike companies ship eleventy hundred thousand bikes a day in those things. You’ll be fine.”

“What’ll it run me?”

“The box, tape, zip ties, hub protectors, and Boozy P. Bike Boxing Special is only available today at the low, low, low price of $40.”

“Done,” I said.

Boozy P. packed up the bike just fine, although he had to take out my water bottle and tool bottle for a couple of minutes. “There’s just one thing to look out for when you pack it for the return trip,” he said.


“Don’t forget the pedals or the saddle. People always forget stuff when they box a bike, and wind up at their destination missing something really important.”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

I got home and called Boozy. “Hey, I can’t find my toolkit and water bottle.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot to put them back on the bike. I’ll leave them outside for ya. Lucky you’re not in Mallorca.”

Next, as part of my careful planning, I checked the KLM web site to find out how much they were going to gouge me for the bike box. My daughter had told me to get that squared away weeks ago, but I was busy with Telo.

The web site, obviously mistaken, said that “No sports equipment, including bicycles, shall be accepted as baggage on the day of departure. All such specialized baggage must be checked, priced, and cleared at least 48 hours prior to departure. No exceptions.”

I was pretty sure they were bluffing, so I tweeted them a message after wiping up the rivers of sweat coursing down my forehead. They responded, saying that my request had been received and my online booking would be updated.

When the update failed either up or to date, I called the service center. Amir the customer service specialist was having a bad week and I was apparently the exclamation to his curse-filled day. “Your trip has not been updated because it cannot be done. No bicycles except with 48 hours prior clearance. No exceptions. So please do not go to the trouble to pack your bicycle and bring it to the check-in counter, as it will be refused. No exceptions. I will also enter into your trip record the details of this conversation in which I explicitly told you no bicycle.”

So it was looking like Plan B, which was mostly identical to Plan A, that is, show up with the bike and dare them to turn me away.

In the meantime, as a bit of insurance, I got online to find out about booking a bike rental in Mallorca. What could be easier than renting a bike in Disneybicycleland?

Then I remembered that last year I’d had to book six months in advance. Surely things had improved since then.



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Froome admits to “volcano doping,” WADA launches investigation

July 17, 2013 § 24 Comments

Lost in the press reports of rest day haircuts and predictions for the remaining stages, it took almost twenty-four hours in the news cycle for the World Anti Doping Agency to act on Tour de France leader Chris Froome’s shocking admission during a media interview.

When asked about the credibility of his ride up Mt. Ventoux, Froome said “My team-mates and I, we’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this.”

WADA officers immediately charged Froome with a “non-analytical” positive, a scenario in which a rider can be accused of doping based on circumstantial evidence, written or spoken admissions, or convincing evidence other than standard urine or blood analyses.

Jean-Paul Smails, Chief Inquistor for WADA, laid out the charges. “He’s admitted to volcano doping, which is a violation of Rule 2.281(a), Subsection 12, which states that ‘No athlete may sleep on or otherwise utilize volcanoes to enhance performance.'”

Team Sky boss David Brailsford reacted angrily. “You’re kidding me, right? There’s no way he volcano doped. He misspoke. They slept on a mountain, perhaps, but no one knew it was a volcano. We thought it was a large mountain. We checked it out with the Mallorcan authorities and they assured us it was a mountain, not a volcano.”

Froome also rejected the charge. “I’ll wait for the B sample to come back. There’s no way that was a real volcano, and if it was, it’s because someone slipped it into my meat. It was tainted Mallorcan meat.”

When pressed as to why he’d referred to it as a volcano if it really wasn’t one, Froome shot back. “‘Volcano’ is slang for ‘boner’ in the UK, maybe you Yanks don’t know that, eh? I was sleeping on my mate’s boner, which is like a mini-volcano, get it? Stupid Yank reporters, go learn y’self some English.”

The Mallorcan Meat Cooperative, a national meat marketing collective, angrily rejected Froome’s claims that its meat was tainted. “We handle our meat carefully, regularly, religiously almost. When our meat leaves our hands it’s guaranteed to be fresh, firm, and free from additives such as clenbuterol or volcano. Our legal counsel is looking into filing defamation charges against Mr. Froome for claiming that we mishandle our meat.”

WADA investigation gathers steam

Officials for the French AFLD and WADA insisted that they would pursue the investigation, but the UCI remained skeptical. “We don’t believe he volcano doped,” said UCI chief Paddy McQuaid. “Although his team did buy us a new volcano testing machine to catch other lava cheats, that has had no influence on our posture in the matter. We don’t treat the stars any differently from the routiniers.”

Francois Vichy de Foiegras of the AFLD disagreed. “Ee eez vocano doping, n’cest pas? Why else he sleeping on ze volcano? Le Mt. Venoux est un volcano aussi, et we believe zat he gets un avantage avec zees volcano doping.” Later that evening the Team Sky bus was searched by the forensic unit of the French National Anti Doping SWAT Team, but no magma was found, although investigators were seen carrying large plastic bags of rocks off the “Froome Wagon” along with what appeared to be most of the team’s Hello Kitty collection.

Links to Italy?

Froome has worked with notorious volcano doping physician Michele Ferrari, although both deny that the connection involves volcanoes. “I use him for his training plans,” said Froome. “He is a good man. He’s taught me so much about how not to blow, but nothing that involved a volcano, I can assure you.”

Ferrari also denied helping athletes such as Froome volcano dope. “I don’t do such a thing, but if I did, so what? A bit of volcano is no more dangerous than a liter of orange juice. Except for when Pompeii was obliterated by Vesuvius or Krakatoa. But that is completely different.”

At press time, Froome’s team physician, Bugsy Malone, provided Tour de France officials with a prescription for volcano enemas, although it had apparently been backdated to precede Froome’s mountaintop trip to Mallorca. “Chris had terrible saddle sores and a bloody anus. I prescribed the volcano cleanse for him in order to stop the drip and reduce the swelling.”

Team Sky has scheduled a press conference for 6:00 AM tomorrow to explain its official position regarding these allegations.

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