Pumpkin spice

November 19, 2017 Comments Off on Pumpkin spice

Every fall, Starbucks pumps out its seasonal offering of pumpkin spice latte. It sounds great and rings in the autumn excesses of too much sugar, too much food, too much booze, and too many prescription medications, but when you think about it, it doesn’t really sound all that great.

Who eats pumpkin? It’s a giant, orange, nasty veggie-fruity thing that stinks and doesn’t taste very good. Pumpkin salad? Pumpkin soup? Pumpkin steak? Pumpkin burger? Ahhh … no, thanks.

Still, you order one anyway because it looks and feels like fall and it’s extra points in your quest to get a free fifty cent drink for every $150 dollars you spend, and you’re usually doing okay until about halfway through, when you start to get queasy from the pure sugar that is 100% sugar and all the completely sugary sugar that fills half the cup, but you keep slurping away, mixing in the whipped cream sugar with the rest of the sugar, until somehow you get to the bottom of the cup, and there it is: A nasty, orange-brown slurry of toxic sludge that suddenly you can’t believe you ate. You stare at it, grossed out, then maybe you fiddle with the end of your straw and suck down a few drops, which are plain old nasty, like drinking the dregs from the sippy cup of a two-year-old who has a bad cold.

In short, you feel terrible. Sugar bombed, 1,200 calories into the red (it’s only 8:00 AM), and, if you’re feeling really guilty you look up the ingredients on the Internet and learn what you already knew. There isn’t even any pumpkin in it, anyway.

pumpkin_spice

Fact is, we have a little seasonal offering like that right here in L.A. It’s called the Dogtown Ride. It’s a special product only sold in fall. You get tagged on Facebag by Tony Manzella, the ride’s progenitor, or you get a private text message if you’re not ‘bagging it anymore, and at 8:00 AM at Dogtown Coffee in Santa Monica the fastest cyclists in L.A. show up to do some early season polishing, and you’re gonna be the whetstone.

Like the pumpkin spice latte, I felt a vague attraction to this seasonal offering, even though I’ve done it before and knew that nothing good ever comes from it. I met up at the appointed hour, thankfully getting there an hour earlier so that I could enjoy what truly is the phenomenal brewing of Dogtown Coffee (no pumpkin spice latte there, folks), and so that I could let my stomach settle.

In small groups the riders appeared, each one possessed of the same silly delusion, that they would be able to hold the pace with Tony, Head Down James, Thomas Rennier, Eric B., bearded British dude, ex-cross country champ-turned-tridork, Kate V., Katie D., or any of the other people who were absolutely going to ride away, see ya. I exited Dogtown and paid homage to Tony and his dad, Rich, and noted that Tony had removed his Garmin. I didn’t know if this was his message that he is no longer into data, or a suggestion that he wasn’t going to go that hard, a feint designed to fool us pack fodder into a few moments of satisfaction.

I chatted with Elijah, who was now on his third team in three years, with Casey, with Patrick Barrett, with Josh, with Joe Pugliese, and with a couple of other riders as we pedaled through Santa Monica. It was sunny, beautiful, warm, and promised to be a horrible day on the bike.

The first climb, Bienveneda Avenue, might be a misspelling of the Spanish word “bienvenida,” which means “welcome.” Like the pumpkin spice missing the pumpkin, there was no welcome in Bienveneda, only the shock and awe as clumps of eager cyclists dashed past me, dangled in front for a bit, and then exploded, spectacularly, on the horribly steep climb. I plodded to the top, where the leaders had already finished checking into #socmed and were ready for the next fake ingredient of this foul-tasting fall seasonal “fun” ride.

Next on the ingredient list was Palisades Drive, much longer and much less steep until you got to the last part, which was just as long as just as steep. The Santa Monica/BMW riders shelled the entire field. I hung on for a bit before getting dropped, then got caught by Eric Bruins, who towed me the rest of the way up. Dave Holland, Michael Penta, Chuck Huang, Christina Oi, Tony Sells, David Mack, and countless others reached the top with the done look of a steak left on the grill overnight.

By now the full effect of the pumpkin spice was hitting our digestive tracts, which meant it was perfect timing to descend Palisades at 50+ mph, replete with riders squatting on their top tubes, massive chugholes blowing tires off the rim, Ferraris coming by in the Number One lane at 80, and everyone behaving as if a head-first fall onto the pavement would be “just a scratch.” We reached PCH and Tony, along with the Santa Monica zombies, beat the pedals all the way to Pepperdine Hill. Even tucked onto a wheel I was in pain. Many riders decided that they’d had enough and went home.

Like a fool, I continued.

We charged up Malibu Canyon Road, where hairy English dude dropped everyone, then created a small group of leaders. The rest of us clumped together on the windy, endless climb, wishing it would either end or finish or conclude or terminate, but it didn’t. I took one last pull, and although I failed to bridge, I did manage to ride everyone in the group off my wheel except four others, who, when I swung over, charged past.

One by one I got caught by everyone I had dropped, and was dropped myself; just me and the dregs in the bottom of the pumpkin spice cup, wondering why I’d eaten so much orange vomit. A few hours later I got home, depleted, cramped, and thoroughly looking forward to the next one. After all, Dogtown Ride only comes around a couple of times a year. And who’d want to miss out on that?

END

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The race of truthiness

May 27, 2017 § 17 Comments

Okay, here are the numbers from my 2-person state team time trail today:

Time: 57:41.

Distance: 22.4 mi

Speed: 23.29 mph

Place: 6th out of six teams.

Overall: 4th slowest out of all races in all categories, including dead people.

As I begin the process of preparing for 2018, it is important to remember a couple of things, or one thing, actually, and it’s this: There’s hardly anywhere to go but up. Mathematically, there are a couple of issues, such as, in order to turn the fastest time of the day I’ll need to increase my average speed by 5 mph, which is kind of like saying I need to shave another fifteen seconds off my 100m time to beat Usain Bolt.

ttt_results

Of course the road to improvement is littered with defeat, but more importantly, with a ton of excuses, or a detailed Future Assistive Investigative List, as I like to call it.

FAIL Item No. 1. My partner sucked. She prevented me from achieving the true athletic potential of which I was truly capable. Lab testing, Strava, and extensive wind tunnel measurements proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was capable of averaging 23.30 mph over that course if I had been riding with anyone else named Merckx, Manzella, Rominger, Bos, Anquetil, etc.

FAIL Item No. 2. No tent. Unlike a lot of people who passed us so quickly that we couldn’t even tell what color their outfit was, we didn’t have a cool team tent. That cost us many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 3. No shoe covers. That cost me a lot of time when Terry Steeves came ripping by at 40, even though he started twelve minutes back.

FAIL Item No. 4. Not enough preparation. I had only prepared for this event since January, missing out on the key lactate resistance threshold supercharging period of late December. My coach says that if you miss this vital period it is hard to recover for later no matter how much you train.

FAIL Item No. 5. Terrible Internet coach. My coach, Herr Doktor Professor William Stone, Ph.D., M.D., M.B.A., Diplomate in Cat Veterinary Science, kept telling me to eat only raw calf liver and Kibbles in the weeks leading up to the race. That cost me minutes. (But it saved a lot on the doping expenses.)

FAIL Item No. 6. Horrible crowd support. It is a fact that I race best when tens of thousands, preferably millions of people line the course screaming my name, holding up posters of me wearing a halo and a pope suit, and chalk the street with “Wanky Rules!”, “You’re the Best!”, “Get ’em, Tiger!”, “Nice Underwear!”, etc. Embarrassingly, my only fan was Rich Manzella, who advised me as I pedaled by that “You don’t totally suck, dude!”

FAIL Item No. 7. Inadequate warm-up. Unfortunately, I scrupulously followed the Team SKY warm-up protocol, detailed here. Looking at the chart’s 7th warm-up interval, which calls for 2 minutes at a 90 rpm cadence, I mistakenly did the entire 120 seconds at a cadence of 89 rpm, which ruined the entire race for me. Details matter, folks.

FAIL Item No. 8. Tires and tire pressure. My tires were either too wide or too narrow, and I’m certain they had either too much air or too little, all of which cost me many, many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 9. Off-topic Facebook postings. The night before, instead of posting about my bikram yoga cool-downs and saddle positioning, I posted about my grandson. This resulted in minimal likes and smiley faces, which again cost me many, many podium spots. Many people say that.

Fail Item No. 10. Casey Maguire. This guy ruined it for me, saying crap like, “Have a good race,” “Good job,” etc. Got into my head and made it impossible for me to focus my normal killer instincts on the job at hand.

Anyway, watch out for 2018. I’ll be upgrading to the fastest pair of shoe covers made.

END

———————–

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The race of truthiness

May 27, 2017 § 17 Comments

Okay, here are the numbers from my 2-person state team time trail today:

Time: 57:41.

Distance: 22.4 mi

Speed: 23.29 mph

Place: 6th out of six teams.

Overall: 4th slowest out of all races in all categories, including dead people.

As I begin the process of preparing for 2018, it is important to remember a couple of things, or one thing, actually, and it’s this: There’s hardly anywhere to go but up. Mathematically, there are a couple of issues, such as, in order to turn the fastest time of the day I’ll need to increase my average speed by 5 mph, which is kind of like saying I need to shave another fifteen seconds off my 100m time to beat Usain Bolt.

ttt_results

Of course the road to improvement is littered with defeat, but more importantly, with a ton of excuses, or a detailed Future Assistive Investigative List, as I like to call it.

FAIL Item No. 1. My partner sucked. She prevented me from achieving the true athletic potential of which I was truly capable. Lab testing, Strava, and extensive wind tunnel measurements proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was capable of averaging 23.30 mph over that course if I had been riding with anyone else named Merckx, Manzella, Rominger, Bos, Anquetil, etc.

FAIL Item No. 2. No tent. Unlike a lot of people who passed us so quickly that we couldn’t even tell what color their outfit was, we didn’t have a cool team tent. That cost us many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 3. No shoe covers. That cost me a lot of time when Terry Steeves came ripping by at 40, even though he started twelve minutes back.

FAIL Item No. 4. Not enough preparation. I had only prepared for this event since January, missing out on the key lactate resistance threshold supercharging period of late December. My coach says that if you miss this vital period it is hard to recover for later no matter how much you train.

FAIL Item No. 5. Terrible Internet coach. My coach, Herr Doktor Professor William Stone, Ph.D., M.D., M.B.A., Diplomate in Cat Veterinary Science, kept telling me to eat only raw calf liver and Kibbles in the weeks leading up to the race. That cost me minutes. (But it saved a lot on the doping expenses.)

FAIL Item No. 6. Horrible crowd support. It is a fact that I race best when tens of thousands, preferably millions of people line the course screaming my name, holding up posters of me wearing a halo and a pope suit, and chalk the street with “Wanky Rules!”, “You’re the Best!”, “Get ’em, Tiger!”, “Nice Underwear!”, etc. Embarrassingly, my only fan was Rich Manzella, who advised me as I pedaled by that “You don’t totally suck, dude!”

FAIL Item No. 7. Inadequate warm-up. Unfortunately, I scrupulously followed the Team SKY warm-up protocol, detailed here. Looking at the chart’s 7th warm-up interval, which calls for 2 minutes at a 90 rpm cadence, I mistakenly did the entire 120 seconds at a cadence of 89 rpm, which ruined the entire race for me. Details matter, folks.

FAIL Item No. 8. Tires and tire pressure. My tires were either too wide or too narrow, and I’m certain they had either too much air or too little, all of which cost me many, many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 9. Off-topic Facebook postings. The night before, instead of posting about my bikram yoga cool-downs and saddle positioning, I posted about my grandson. This resulted in minimal likes and smiley faces, which again cost me many, many podium spots. Many people say that.

Fail Item No. 10. Casey Maguire. This guy ruined it for me, saying crap like, “Have a good race,” “Good job,” etc. Got into my head and made it impossible for me to focus my normal killer instincts on the job at hand.

Anyway, watch out for 2018. I’ll be upgrading to the fastest pair of shoe covers made.

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!

 

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