Sugar on a stick (of butter)

June 24, 2019 § 6 Comments

Cyclists are really weird about food.

In case you hadn’t noticed.

Like the time I went on the kimchee diet. Weird as that was, it was NOTHING. A friend of mine once confided that for a period of years he lived on Cheez-Its, which he thought was odd until he went to a pro cyclist training camp.

This was many years after he’d kicked the Cheez-It habit and had fallen into the even more bizarre, unhealthy, fringe behavior of veganism. “Isn’t it better to die at age 28 from a massive heart attack, corpulent, arteries swollen with Cheez-Its, than to live until 100, fit as a fiddle, and to never eat anything that tastes better than shredded paper?” I once asked him.

“No,” he said. “It isn’t.”

But anyway, back to his pro cyclist training camp that he had been invited to, not as a pro, but as a pro-hanger-on. He’d get to do the team rides, and since he was sick fit and crazy fast he’d be able to keep up, but more fascinatingly he’d get to learn all about how pro cyclists really eat. Their diets, their careful balancing of calories, their perfect analysis of each food item’s component, in short, he’d get the detailed, fine-grained equivalent of an invasive rectal exam with regard to a professional cyclist’s diet.

Before the first day’s training ride he had packed his lunch. It was gonna be seven hours in the saddle with more climbing than Annapurna. He’d eaten perfectly the night before and even more perfectly the morning of. He’d metered out exactly the calories he’d need for the ride and had packed the ideal combo of food items, each one carefully composed to fuel his fine-tuned machine while saving Mother Earth from a messy, fat, disgusting, carbon footprint of dead animal protein.

Down in the breakfast area he waited for the pros to arrive. They did, late. “Oh,” he thought, “there goes our schedule.”

But no … everyone skipped breakfast, and to add to his dismay the team’s star scooped up a couple of Snickers bars from the breakfast buffet’s candy tray, and off they went.

It was the hardest seven hours of his life. He barely made it back. He was shattered. And the pros weren’t much better. Everyone had that pasty dead look. “Now,” he said, “I’ll get to see how the pros eat!”

The DS gave everyone $10 to buy dinner at Trader Joe’s. My friend was appalled. “That’s junk food!” he said to himself, trailing the pros as they made random selections of various badly made, unhealthy, slightly wilted, pre-packaged dinners. But not the team’s star, who we’ll call “Geoff Not His Real Name.”

Geoff Not His Real Name simply bought a gallon of milk and drank it on the curb. No one seemed to notice except Friend. “My dog!” he thought. “This isn’t possible! All my dreams are dying outside the Trader Joe’s in Santa Barbara, alongside an almost expired jug of cow juice!”

Friend, who was rooming with Geoff Not His Real Name, awakened at midnight as GNHRN groaned, then vomited up the entire gallon of now-curdled milk. Friend covered his head in the blanket, which was hard because the budget-minded team had put four people in each room, and his bed partner was GNHRN. No one even woke up, least of all GNHRN, who went back to sleep in the puke after stripping off the sheets.

Friend never saw nutrition the same way again.

My point is that a couple of days ago I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies for lunch. And although I know mostly everyone in America has made hundreds if not thousands of CC cookies in their life, it was my first batch, and like Friend in the bed of milk puke, I was blown away.

You will not be.

But … for the one or two people in America who don’t know, here is some facts:

  • Chocolate chip cookies are essentially two sticks of butter smeared with sugar.
  • You have to mix the butter and the sugar with your bare hands, and after that you have to lick your fingers, then your palms, then the backs of your hands, then if you’re lucky, your wrists. It’s obscene, and like most obscenity, delightful.
  • You are supposed to dump the whole bag of chips into the dough even though it says 1/2 bag.
  • Once you finish eating 12 of the 24 cookies, you have eaten an entire stick of butter.
  • Once you have eaten all the cookies you have eaten two sticks of butter but it feels like you have eaten a sandbag.
  • CC cookies are not a good substitute for lunch, but they are an excellent substitute for lunch and dinner and self-respect.
  • Cleaning up means licking everything.
  • The best way to freeze the dough for later is, are you kidding me? If there was leftover dough, your cookies sucked.
  • I need to take a nap now.


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It’s too expensive!!!!!!!

June 17, 2019 § 4 Comments

I love it when some wanker on a $6,000 bike and electronic drivetrain who’s wearing a $1k kit/shoe/helmet combo bitches about the entry fee for Phil’s Fondo, a gravel ride, or the BWR.

My next favorite whine is when someone poutily disses an organized ride with “Why would I pay to ride roads I can ride on for free?”

Let me help you out.

First of all, quit pretending it’s the money. If $150 were a dealbreaker for you, you’d never have bought the power meter, the Training Peaks, the Zwift subscription, Strava premium, or the Rapha merino wool armwarmers at $120 a pop. Right? It’s not the money.

Second of all, quit pretending that you’d normally ride these roads if they weren’t part of a gran fondo. No, you wouldn’t do Las Posas/Yerba Buena/Encinal on a single ride as in Phil’s Fondo, and no, you wouldn’t do Lemontwistenberg/Lake Hodges/Black Canyon/Questhaven/Double Peak as in the BWR.

You just wouldn’t.

So now that we’ve gotten these two issues out of the way, let’s look at why you absolutely should be participating in at least a couple of fondo-esque rides every single year.

  1. They get massive numbers of cyclists on the road, and that impacts motorists and rider safety. It’s one thing for cagers to see dribs and drabs of riders throughout the week, it’s another thing entirely to see thousands of them strung out over a course for the entire day. The inescapable message is that cyclists matter, they exist in numbers, and please watch out for them.
  2. Just because you’re such a badass #profamateur that you don’t need sag, a route, rest stops, mechanical help, or encouragement doesn’t mean everyone else is like you. In fact most fondos have a large contingent of riders for whom this is their first “big” ride, or it’s their first organized ride, or it’s their target ride for the entire year. When you support a fondo, you are supporting grass roots riding. Plus, as an expert #profamateur badass doing a fondo, you can actually help people who are less pro than you.
  3. In the case of Los Angeles, a cycling hotbed home to 15 million+ people, there are about five major gran fondos: Phil’s Fondo, Circle of Doom, Malibu GF, the Nosco Ride, and the LA River Ride. Los Angeles is a notoriously expensive place to organize bike events, and of course it’s exactly the place where such events are needed most. When you support these events, you are ensuring that they stay, and that they continue to provide local riders with the opportunity to participate without leaving home.
  4. Fondos are a great way for clubs to build ridership and provide participation in events without the club having to organize the event. It always pains me to see local fondos not supported with local club turnout; these are precisely the kind of event that clubs can turn into intramural competitions, training rides, or opportunities to mentor new riders … to say nothing of having a great time. Major Taylor Cycling and Cali Riderz regularly target the Palm Springs Century as a major club event on their calendar.
  5. USAC replacement. Many racers and ex-racers are no longer so thrilled with the state of USAC racing. Fondos offer you the opportunity to actually race in somewhat less formal circumstances, often with better competition, better routes, and a better vibe. And if you’re a masters doper, there’s hardly ever any testing!!

So take a look around and sign up for a fondo. My local pick is Phil’s Fondo, but my wife and daughter did the LA River Ride this year and loved it. Nosco is unique because it’s donation only (deadbeats can even pay zero!), and Circle of Doom is shorter than some of the others but bitterly hard. Outside LA, in my opinion the BWR wins hands down, but there are great options in Mammoth, Tehachapi, Big Bear, and Solvang, to name just a very few.

These rides are worth supporting, even if it means you have to wait until 2020 to get those ceramic bearings. Really.


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Feed your children well

October 31, 2018 § 4 Comments

I remember coming home from kindergarten one day, all excited. “Dad!” I said.


“We can get free lunch at school!”

“You can?”

“Yeah! A bunch of the kids get free lunch! They don’t have to PAY!” I couldn’t believe that you could go through the lunch line and not have to give the lady a nickel for your milk and fifteen cents for your lunch plate.

“That’s great,” Dad said, not especially excited.

“Can we get free lunches, too?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

“How come?”

“Because,” he said slowly, looking at me. “We don’t need them. Other people do.”

Lunch and recess

I started school at Booker T. Washington Elementary in Galveston, in 1968, the first year that the schools on the island desegregated, fourteen long fucking years after it was ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education. The best two parts of the day were morning snack, recess, and lunch.

The cafeteria was always open an hour before school started and you could go in, pay a nickel, and get chocolate milk. For another nickel you could get a mini-box of corn flakes. I had breakfast at home but loved the chocolate milk and if I had an extra nickel I’d make sure to buy some.

There were always kids who got to the the cafeteria in the morning as soon as it opened, and who would eat two or three mini-boxes of cereal before joining the rest of us outside as we played four-square, hopskotch, basketball, or covered ourselves in dirt and sand in the long jump pit. In fact at Booker T., most of the kids cycled through the cafeteria before class started, at least to get a free carton of milk.


It wasn’t until many years later that I realized those kids were in the cafeteria early because for many of them it was the last meal they would see until nightfall. Maybe for a handful, those two bowls of corn flakes were their meal for the day.

As a grown man with grandchildren, the world can sometimes seem complex. But here’s something simple: If one out of every six children is hungry, you have failed as a nation.

Chefs cycle, chefscycle

A peculiar aspect of grand fondues is that they often link up with charities, encouraging donations and giving a percentage of their proceeds to a cause. For four years I was vaguely aware of the charity recipient at Phil’s Cookie Fondo, ChefsCycle. It’s a group that raises money on the bike and donates it to No Kid Hungry, which in turn is a group that lobbies for school breakfast/lunch funding and puts money directly into schools to allow them to feed kids for free.

The idea that we have a Congress where free food for kids is an issue that requires lobbying is mind-boggling until you consider that our nation also builds and maintains concentration camps for immigrant children. It’s a tiny jump from the one to the other, yo. The idea that the weakest and smallest among us need advocates, rather than the idea that every human being is OF COURSE an advocate for children, is unfortunate and true.

Since 2015, ChefsCycle has raised $6M for No Kid Hungry, and they have done it through a simple concept formulated by chefs Allan Ng and Jason Roberts: “How can we get out of the kitchen, onto our bikes, and do something that puts food in the bellies of hungry kids?”

Mushed banana

Now that I am old and going very gray, I am reaping my reward. It is not financial. It is not material, as anyone who has analyzed my wardrobe and Timex watch knows. Nor is it spiritual, as Dog hasn’t spoken to me with any more clarity today than he did when I was three.

No, my reward for raising a family is this: I get to see my son-in-law mush up a very ripe banana with his thumb and carefully feed it to my 6-month-old grandson. My reward is the smile and eager smacking, and the bits of drool and banana that spill out from his tiny mouth as he happily and with pure pleasure defeats for a few hours the hunger that is within us all.

His small reward of a mushy banana is my reward. You can make it your reward, too, in some classroom, in the stomach of some little kid who you will never even know.



Nice day for a walk!

October 29, 2018 Comments Off on Nice day for a walk!


I’m not saying it was a hard climb or anything like that.



The day the Switchbacks phell?

August 10, 2018 § 4 Comments

Tomorrow’s Donut Ride pheatures cookie monster Phil Gaimon, pitting the irresistible phorce of the cookie against the immovable object of the donut.

In other words, Phantastic Phil, chieph of the  SoCal Strava scalpers, will show up in an attempt to take the Switchbacks-Domes KOM away from Diego Binatena.

Phil has his work cut out for him, and not simply because donuts have historically proved superior to cookies in just about every meaningful metric: taste, density, sugar content, phat, and of course atherosclerosis.

Will Diego be there to dephend his title? Will Phil leave the peloton in a shambles? Can a cookie-powered former Pro Tour rider leave his stamp on the pride of the South Bay, that is, a greasy, sugary lump of phried dough?

We can dephinitively say absolutely yes no maybe.

Regardless, Phil will be bringing his cookie power to demolish that climb as well as the less legendary but in some respects more diphicult Via Zumaya KOM.

No one can say how it will shake out, whether cookies are powerphul enouph to conquer The Donut. But of this much I am sure: I’ll be shed long bephore the phireworks ever begin.




The middle ground a/k/a FDR

January 15, 2018 Comments Off on The middle ground a/k/a FDR

There is a sweet spot in cycling for most people, located right in that middle ground between “pound” on the one hand, where everyone feels like they had eye surgery sans anesthetic, and “flail,” where you finish the ride and wonder, “Did I ride?” The South Bay’s Fun Donut Ride, or FDR, hits the sweet spot almost every time.

It’s a hard spot to find because any grouping of riders invariably attracts an outlier or two. The pounder whines because it was “too easy,” and the flailer moans because it was “too hard.” Of course no ride is right for every rider, all the time. But coming up with that Sweet Spot Ride, getting it started, and hardest of all, keeping it alive, is fiendishly hard to do, yet it’s precisely this kind of ride that builds community and participation in cycling. How to do it?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joann Zwagerman’s FDR.

Genesis: How the FDR came to be

I could give you the background of the FDR, but why? Joann has already done it for me. With a few edits and emendations, here it is:

Greg Seyranian had a South Bay ride called the Anti-Donut. I would show up week after week and pedal my ass off. It was mellow for them but it was totally challenging for me. I did my best to try and keep up. They never abandoned me and they always waited for me and I found that remarkable.

Once race season began and the Anti-Donut ended, I found myself looking for a similar ride. If you were a racer, you were on the Donut Ride. If not, you were looking for friendly people to ride with. Thus, the Fun Donut Ride, or FDR, was born. It is an inclusive, non pretentious, friendly, fun and challenging ride.

Maybe today is your biggest ride? Your first group ride? Your first FDR? Whatever it is, I hope you feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of it even if it’s just eating your first donut with chocolate sprinkles in ten years and making a few new friends!

Thank you everyone for all your support! Ride on and be safe!

Exodus: How riders joined the FDR

As we all know, it’s fairly easy to start a ride. You tell a few friends the time and place, give them a general rundown of the route, and three of them show up. If you invite a hundred people, you can expect maybe four. Everyone does the ride, has a more or less good time, and then you do the ride for a couple more weeks, and participation increases a bit or stays the same.

Then comes the crunch moment. It’s the day for “your” ride. You’ve told everyone you’ll be there. But yesterday you got a bo-bo on your boo-boo, or maybe a boo-boo on your bo-bo and it’s feeling really ouchie as you lay there in bed with only thirty minutes to crap, air your tires, drink some coffee, pull a pair of shorts out of the dirty hamper, and scurry to the start.

What do you do? You roll over, of course! This isn’t your job! It’s your hobby! Those wankers know the route! You’ll be there next week anyway! Snxxxxxxxzzzzzzzz!

Of course your pals see it differently. They get to the start and you’re not there. They check their phones. They call you. Someone finally rouses you and you groggily text back, “Boo-boo on bo-bo, out.”

And guess what? You just drove a wooden stake through the heart of your nascent ride. Because for a ride to continue, the person who started it has got to keep showing up. It’s like being married, only far worse because at least when you’re married, rolling over and snoring is an accepted part of lovemaking. Requisite, actually.

What Joann figured out with the FDR was that if you’re cycling in the South Bay and you want people to commit to you, you have to commit to them. And that means a date, a time, a place, and a commitment to be there “til death do us part.” Week in and week out, the FDR went off with Joann present to shepherd her lambs, and it went off in some pretty extreme situations.

Broken hand? No worries, Joann sagged in her Rage Rover. Broken wrist a few months later? No worries, Joann sagged in her Rage Rover. Ride founder overtrained and barely able to move? No worries, Joann either did the ride, sagged in her Rage Rover, or rustled up a deputy. And this last part, “rustling up a deputy,” has been a great innovation because the FDR’s success has led to its having two routes: A fixed loop around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and a variable route that can venture pretty far afield. Having a deputy means that the fixed FDR route always takes place, and people aren’t left showing up to a ride where they are the ride.

Revelation: You can make an FDR, too

Joann’s FDR has brought a lot of people into cycling and now serves as a focal point for people who are looking for a regular ride–not too hard, not too soft–and for event organizers who want to get the word out about their event. From Phil Gaimon’s Cookie Fondo, to the Belgian Waffle Ride, to Rivet Cycling’s Santa Barbara ribs extravaganza, people in the cycling community recognize that FDR is there for the community as a whole.

This, of course, is how you grow the cycling donut, and then get to eat it, too. One rider at a time.



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About 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.

Everyone rides the Tour

July 16, 2017 § 11 Comments

It’s Turdy France time and everyone rides the Tour, as each group ride, for three short weeks, assumes the position of fake Turdy France stage. The Donut Ride was no exception, and it had been crowned the Fake Queen Donut Stage of the Fake South Bay Turdy France.

As with any fake Tour contender, I thought it meet to plan my strategy by picking the brain of ex-pro Phil Gaimon who, though he never actually rode the Tour, has read a lot of cool magazine articles about it. I’d heard that he was holding a book signing for his book “Ask a Pro,” and was also doing a sign-up for his yuge October Phil’s Fondue ride, so I sneaked into the book signing without an invitation.

“Hey, Phil!” I said as he was hunched over his stack of books, dutifully ginning out signatures like a pre-cryonics Ted Williams, while his manager hungrily eyed the sales receipts and swiped credit cards for the fondue registration.

“Yes?” he said.

“It’s me, Wanky! Yer ol’ pal. I had some questions I wanted to ask a pro.”

He pretended not to know who I was, which is what slightly famous people often do to cover up the fact that I’m actually more famous than they are. “Would you like to buy a book?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said.

“A grand fondue registration, perhaps?”


He sighed. “How can I help you?”

“So you’re a pro, right? And you wrote a book called ‘Ask A Pro,’ right? Well, then. The Fake Queen Donut Stage of the South Bay Turdy France is tomorrow and I need some pro tips on how to ride it. So I thought I would ask a pro.”

Suddenly he got very busy but another guy who wasn’t a pro, and who didn’t really look like a pro, but who seemed more interested in me than the pro, chimed in. “Winning a fake queen stage? That’s easy,” he said.


“Sure. Don’t lose too much time. That’s the secret to stage racing.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, and one other thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You know the guy in your group who always wins? Every group has one.”

“Sure. That’s Alx Bns.”

“Well, he’ll win the fake queen stage, too.”

I thought about this depressing little gem for a few seconds and how I’d been ripped off paying for it until I realized I hadn’t actually paid for it. I tapped on Phil’s shoulder. “Say, can you write up a quick training and diet plan for me while I’m here? I brought a few terabytes of power data I’d like you to analyze if you don’t mind. Since you’re already here, I mean.”

A few moments later Phil introduced me to a gentleman named Bouncer, kind of a weird name, who insisted on talking to me outside the event venue, onto the sidewalk, with my neck in a headlock. He didn’t know anything about winning queen stages, so I went home.

The next morning I got up to prepare for the queen stage. Preparation is key and I now had my mantra, courtesy of a guy standing next to pro Phil Gaimon. My mantra? DON’T LOSE TOO MUCH TIME.

I carefully went over each item of my Wanky Donut Gear. It is a high-tech bunch of stuff, loaded with lots of carbon that is 100% carbon plus everything is cutting edge and carbon. Speaking of cutting edge and carbon, Ms. WM and I got into it before I left because she was using my $500 carbon steel Japanese paring knife to scrape rust off the tea kettle.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I screamed.

“Itsa nasty gunkin’ so I’m cleanin it.”

“That’s my five hundred dollar paring knife!”

“Itsa cuttin good but not so good onna scrapin.”

“Of course it isn’t! It’s not a fucking scraper! You just ruined the blade!”

She was unimpressed and continued to scrape. In a sad panic I assembled the legendary Wanky Donut Gear. Below is an awesome fake Tour tech gallery that you can drool over. It is full carbon, all of it.

I rolled out of Chez Wanky, blood pressure still a tad high due to the ruined paring knife, and got to the sign-in area for the queen stage, which is the remodeled Riviera Village Sckubrats. A long time ago they named this part of Redondo Beach the “Riviera” because of the famed beaches and culture and high class of the French Riviera. I’m pretty sure they never actually saw the real Riviera before they bestowed the name, or they would never have called this run-down rat’s nest of beach huts and fake surfers the “Riviera,” but that’s another story.

This story is about not losing too much time and so one by one I quizzed my competitors about how they intended to strategify the stage. Each rider had a unique approach that centered on “don’t get dropped,” so I adopted that as my strategy, too. Only one rider, Englishman Alx Bns, had a different strategy, which was “drop everyone.” This bothered me a bit, but not nearly as much at the start as it did at the bottom of the Switchbacks, where he executed the strategy with the efficiency of Brexit. Okay, it was way more efficient than that, but equally ruthless.

Standouts included wet-behind-the-ears but stupid-strong-behind-the-legs Matthieu Brousseau, who despite his French-sounding name kicked almost everyone’s ass except Dan Cobley’s. My strategy of not losing too much time by not getting dropped (or gapped out as I prefer to call it), didn’t succeed too well. Towards the end I was passed by a fellow in a t-shirt and flip-flops who wasn’t even breathing hard. Thank dog it was my rest week.

But the really sad news is this. You remember Phil telling me about how the guy who was going to win was the guy who always wins? Dang it, that’s the guy who won.






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Fondo worlds ?!?

April 22, 2017 § 8 Comments

The UCI did away with masters road world championships and USAC is now encouraging riders to race qualifying gran fondos in order to have a shot at becoming a “gran fondo world champion.”

At first I wondered if they were doing this to fatally poison the delusion of masters racers. Maybe they were thinking that no self-respecting delusional old person would call himself a “gran fondo” anything. By ruining the competition pyramid so that “mature” riders are no longer the base, maybe they were trying to get the competitive focus back where it belongs, on young people.

But then I realized that road racing is still falling off a cliff at the rate of 32.2 feet/sec2, and that’s not going to change by jiggering around the titles for old fart race winners.

Then I thought that maybe someone got really pissed at all these masters world champions. I know several masters world champs and they can smash me without even trying. But maybe it rubbed someone the wrong way.

Maybe they were thinking that a world champion by definition shouldn’t be delimited by the word “masters”? Just like a true World Series of baseball shouldn’t be delimited by the geography of North America, maybe someone got upset about sticking the word “masters” in there next to “world champion.”

Or, I thought, maybe someone got ticked off that the masters worlds champions wear the same arm bands as UCI pro world champs, kind of like trademark infringement. Someone out there in pro UCI Land was afraid the masses will think there’s some equivalency between a rider who wins the elite pro road race and a grandpa who wins the 65+ masters leaky prostate road race?

Perhaps they were upset that when you win a masters world title in anything, you’re not winning based on ability, you’re winning it on ability plus the artificial limiter of age. It’s a stacked deck, a grossly un-level playing field because you’ve excluded reams of people who could beat you like a drum, people who are so much better than you, you’d be dropped after mile one.

They might have complained that if you’re going to have world championships based on age, why not also do them based on race, or native language? Or better yet, further refine it based on weight + age, like Strava. And why stop there? Why not name people world champions of certain Strava segments? Maybe they were scared we would have thousands of world champions every year, each one entitled to wear the same UCI stripes that Eddy once wore. “Wanky McWankster, UCI World Champion of The Driveway In My Gated Community Segment.” Bands, please.

However, none of those explanations panned out. I think the UCI looked at the amazing number of people who do grand fondues and decided they wanted a piece of the action. That certainly fits with USAC’s new motto of “be everything to everyone.” And as goofy as being a fondue champ sounds to the average bike racer, most fondue participants don’t race bikes at all and don’t want to.

They want to do grand fondues, and to them it’s way more prestigious to win the NYC GF than the East Dumblecrook Jakeleg Crit.

What’s awesome about the new Gran Fondo Worlds is that the words “grand fondue” put an emphasis on what the participants of these events really are: Hobby cyclists who are very serious and very good, and especially good when compared to people near them in age. Having the words “gran fondo” make it clear that no matter how seriously the athlete takes it, in the end, this is all just for fun. Gran fun.

No cyclist I know is going to brag about being a grand fondue world champion. Instead, they’ll do the race, get the result they get, and come back from what was a fun vacation in Italy or wherever with their attitude in the right place: They did a good race, got a good result, and are ready to move on to the next one. In fact, I’m doing Phil’s Cookie Fondue in October.

Minus the arm bands. Please.



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