2019 South Bay Cycling Award Winners … continued!

October 2, 2019 § 3 Comments

Okay, deep into the list of “way behind on stuff I was supposed to do in September.”

Remember the glorious 2019 All Clubs BBQ and 7th South Bay Cycling Awards? Where worthy winners were crowned with a plaque and an awesome swag bag filled with amazing items from Pedal Industries, Wend Wax, Castelli Cycling, and other cool stuff?

Well, the fact of the matter is that even though this was an honor greater than winning an Oscar, several of the winners were unable to attend due to illness, being on another continent, having a critical Zwift workout to complete, oversleeping, or the ultimate deal killer, traffic.

Rather than dump their valuable plaque and even more valuable swag bag in the dumpster, Ken we traveled far, far, from the South Bay to make deliveries. Winners were incredibly thrilled and happy and etcetera.

Best Male Racer, Justin Williams. This guy nailed down another national crit title, was written up in the Wall Street Journal, and had another banner year as the unquestioned best male bike racer for this year’s awards. Justin is alway ready with a smile and he’s a willing mentor for younger racers. Just don’t look for any kindness when the finish line is near!

Greatest Recovery, “Luke” Rokuta. People know Luke as president/CEO of Pioneer Power Meters, standout rider for Big Orange, and all-round nice guy. Fewer people know that he suffered a massive fracture to his femur earlier in the year, a break that was serious enough for a hospital stay, major surgery, and a long convalescence. However, Luke was back walking and then on his bike long before the doctors predicted, and he has now returned to his usual ways of riding and enjoying the perks of cycling in the South Bay.

GC Award, Lauren Mulwitz. Lauren pretty much does it all. Road, off-road, short races, 200-mile- plus beatdowns … she is one of the grittiest riders you’ll ever meet, yet soft spoken and quick to praise the other person. She’s been a fixture on the scene for years now and has won awards in prior years as well. This year she was an easy pick for rider who excels no matter what the occasion, from group ride to race to apres-ride coffee.

Strava KOM, “Big” Bill Thomas. You get an idea of how big Bill is when you stand next to him, kind of a man mountain. He’s also a ferocious Strava rider and collects KOMs as an avocation. A complete data nerd, Bill takes the virtual world very seriously, which makes him the perfect winner for this award. “Strava or it didn’t happen” is a real thing.

END


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2019 South Bay Cycling Award Winners … continued!

October 2, 2019 § 3 Comments

Okay, deep into the list of “way behind on stuff I was supposed to do in September.”

Remember the glorious 2019 All Clubs BBQ and 7th South Bay Cycling Awards? Where worthy winners were crowned with a plaque and an awesome swag bag filled with amazing items from Pedal Industries, Wend Wax, Castelli Cycling, and other cool stuff?

Well, the fact of the matter is that even though this was an honor greater than winning an Oscar, several of the winners were unable to attend due to illness, being on another continent, having a critical Zwift workout to complete, oversleeping, or the ultimate deal killer, traffic.

Rather than dump their valuable plaque and even more valuable swag bag in the dumpster, Ken we traveled far, far, from the South Bay to make deliveries. Winners were incredibly thrilled and happy and etcetera.

Best Male Racer, Justin Williams. This guy nailed down another national crit title, was written up in the Wall Street Journal, and had another banner year as the unquestioned best male bike racer for this year’s awards. Justin is alway ready with a smile and he’s a willing mentor for younger racers. Just don’t look for any kindness when the finish line is near!

Greatest Recovery, “Luke” Rokuta. People know Luke as president/CEO of Pioneer Power Meters, standout rider for Big Orange, and all-round nice guy. Fewer people know that he suffered a massive fracture to his femur earlier in the year, a break that was serious enough for a hospital stay, major surgery, and a long convalescence. However, Luke was back walking and then on his bike long before the doctors predicted, and he has now returned to his usual ways of riding and enjoying the perks of cycling in the South Bay.

GC Award, Lauren Mulwitz. Lauren pretty much does it all. Road, off-road, short races, 200-mile- plus beatdowns … she is one of the grittiest riders you’ll ever meet, yet soft spoken and quick to praise the other person. She’s been a fixture on the scene for years now and has won awards in prior years as well. This year she was an easy pick for rider who excels no matter what the occasion, from group ride to race to apres-ride coffee.

Strava KOM, “Big” Bill Thomas. You get an idea of how big Bill is when you stand next to him, kind of a man mountain. He’s also a ferocious Strava rider and collects KOMs as an avocation. A complete data nerd, Bill takes the virtual world very seriously, which makes him the perfect winner for this award. “Strava or it didn’t happen” is a real thing.

END


Where’s the beef?

August 24, 2019 § 1 Comment

Barbecue for 250 people is no mean feat, it is a meat feat. And the only way that it happened at the 2019 All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards is through the application of the genius of some seriously professional pitmasters.

Between Harry McQueen, Patrick Barrett, Reggie Walter and his buddy Mike, and Geoff Loui, this crew cranked out 13 briskets, 224 sausage links, 120 chicken breasts, 30 slabs of ribs and about 176 boneless thighs. In other words, if you showed up for this event you were going home full as a tick, and that’s not counting the sides for each plate (six of ’em) prepared by the Flawless Diamonds catering crew.

Sam Selfridge, Chris Miller, and Patrick showed up at 6:00 AM and quickly began to cook the day’s ribs. In order to pay his volunteers and skate the state’s labor laws, Patrick cooked Texas breakfast tacos on site, with a pot of scalding hot coffee that left everyone’s mouth and tongue in ruins, as camp coffee should.

It would be a long day, and since the pitmasters were also pitted against each other in a contest that would be judged by three highly qualified barbecue experts or whoever could be culled from the crowd vaguely sober, the tension was so thick you could cut it with beer and whiskey, which is exactly how it got cut, reducing the tension to the point that it was nonexistent.

Pitmasters always compete and eye each other over every detail, and nothing is more keenly eyed than the way the fire gets started. While Reggie pulled out a gallon of lighter fluid to start his fire, Harry unleashed his full-fledged propane flame thrower and lit his charcoal with Tim Allen gusto. Several small trees were incinerated in the process, and a large granite stone was reduced to magma.

Pitmaster Geoff was nowhere to be seen unless you happened to be lying next to him in bed.

Things went very smooth for everyone, at least as far as any of them could remember, and mostly, they couldn’t. Some pitmasters started with chicken, others with ribs. Geoff started with toast and jam as he fumbled for his trousers somewhere at home. At this point the picnic grounds were pretty empty except for Ken, Kristie, and their one-man helper team Seth, who basically did all the work, at least that’s what he said.

The cooks enjoyed each other’s company, carefully making sure that no one sabotaged the other guy’s meat with a gasoline rub. As more folks came to help Ken and Kristie set up, lessons from last year were applied such as threatening people with beheading if they tried to sneak food off the grill. Later in the day a few irate guests returned with charred bits that looked like fingers and thumbs of people who’d tried their hand at grill larceny and failed.

Geoff showed up at 11:00, fresh, rested, and almost ready for his noontime nap. He had cooked everything ahead of time, gotten a full night’s sleep, and was ready to boogie or nap, whichever came first. The pitmasters met and prepared the process for getting the food to the people and also to the judges. After the initial 12:00 PM feeding frenzy, with problems including Patrick’s uncooked/unchoked chicken, confusion with the food runners, and general startup disorganization, the pitmasters all sat back and waited for the next batch of food to come off the grills. Once the kinks were unkinked it was a well oiled and a well smoked machine.

People lined up, brisket on the line first, then sides, and then ribs and chicken. The Flawless Diamonds would call out when food needed replenishing, and you’d either hop to it or face the wrath of Toni. Every once in a while a guest would come over and thank one of the pitmasters with a plate of happy food. Together they shared a cold beverage and took a bit of time to relax while the assembly line did its thing.

Once cleanup was done, the pitmasters began to hang out in the front area facing the stage. Except for Harry … because he gathered his band of merry musicians, looking like he’d exerted no energy despite cooking for two straight days, and tore the place down with his music. Harry made everything look easy, kind of like the food cooked itself, the harmonica played itself, and he was simply along for the ride.

Someone (not from Texas) once asked, “What is the significance of BBQ to the universe?” It’s a good question if you’re not from Texas, but basically, sonny, it goes like this:

Everyone eats food, which falls into two categories, fast food and family dinner food. But barbecue, you see, is so far from either of those because it takes forever to make. What it means to the universe, and especially what it can do to help Los Angeles, is SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Yeah. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Have patience. Get together with people you know, people you don’t know yet, people you like, and people you’re going to like, and SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Serve yourself a big plateful of patience. Bring other humans together for hours and hours, resulting in a big payoff, a payoff of food and a payoff of camaraderie, and hopefully not a payoff of a nasty hangover the next day.

But it’s not easy, because after twelve hours of cooking you have no guarantee of success. The connective tissues in the meat may not give up after all that time and be tougher than granny’s bra strap, the flavor may taste like boiled ass, or it may be so over cooked that you can use it to patch potholes. So to get it right, you have to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN, pay attention, care, and don’t overreact when things aren’t going just right. With barbecue, like life, you’re not really in control, you’re just tending the garden while the sunshine and water do all the real work.

Hopefully Los Angeles is on the heels of a BBQ revolution and can learn from this slow, delicious meat candy, can learn to STFD.

Barbecue can also educate you. Mike, Reggie’s assistant, shared his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz when the DJ powered up his system. Some musical phrase triggered Mike into a passionate discourse about modern jazz artists. It came out of nowhere and the passion that he had was incredible. That’s part of the barbecue magic, too.

The contest came and went, with judges Sherri Foxworthy, Alfie Sanchez, and Jon Regnery making the hard decisions about who would win top honors. Thanks to Patrick’s rigged system he won again, but no one really got too upset because even though Geoff showed up late and perfectly groomed, he also showed up with several cases of ice cold beer, which studies show alleviates aggravation almost instantaneously.

Jon donated one of his beautiful True Au Jus barbecue cutting boards as the grand prize winner, a work of art that is almost too pretty to deface with raw meat.

Almost.

END


Where’s the beef?

August 24, 2019 § 1 Comment

Barbecue for 250 people is no mean feat, it is a meat feat. And the only way that it happened at the 2019 All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards is through the application of the genius of some seriously professional pitmasters.

Between Harry McQueen, Patrick Barrett, Reggie Walter and his buddy Mike, and Geoff Loui, this crew cranked out 13 briskets, 224 sausage links, 120 chicken breasts, 30 slabs of ribs and about 176 boneless thighs. In other words, if you showed up for this event you were going home full as a tick, and that’s not counting the sides for each plate (six of ’em) prepared by the Flawless Diamonds catering crew.

Sam Selfridge, Chris Miller, and Patrick showed up at 6:00 AM and quickly began to cook the day’s ribs. In order to pay his volunteers and skate the state’s labor laws, Patrick cooked Texas breakfast tacos on site, with a pot of scalding hot coffee that left everyone’s mouth and tongue in ruins, as camp coffee should.

It would be a long day, and since the pitmasters were also pitted against each other in a contest that would be judged by three highly qualified barbecue experts or whoever could be culled from the crowd vaguely sober, the tension was so thick you could cut it with beer and whiskey, which is exactly how it got cut, reducing the tension to the point that it was nonexistent.

Pitmasters always compete and eye each other over every detail, and nothing is more keenly eyed than the way the fire gets started. While Reggie pulled out a gallon of lighter fluid to start his fire, Harry unleashed his full-fledged propane flame thrower and lit his charcoal with Tim Allen gusto. Several small trees were incinerated in the process, and a large granite stone was reduced to magma.

Pitmaster Geoff was nowhere to be seen unless you happened to be lying next to him in bed.

Things went very smooth for everyone, at least as far as any of them could remember, and mostly, they couldn’t. Some pitmasters started with chicken, others with ribs. Geoff started with toast and jam as he fumbled for his trousers somewhere at home. At this point the picnic grounds were pretty empty except for Ken, Kristie, and their one-man helper team Seth, who basically did all the work, at least that’s what he said.

The cooks enjoyed each other’s company, carefully making sure that no one sabotaged the other guy’s meat with a gasoline rub. As more folks came to help Ken and Kristie set up, lessons from last year were applied such as threatening people with beheading if they tried to sneak food off the grill. Later in the day a few irate guests returned with charred bits that looked like fingers and thumbs of people who’d tried their hand at grill larceny and failed.

Geoff showed up at 11:00, fresh, rested, and almost ready for his noontime nap. He had cooked everything ahead of time, gotten a full night’s sleep, and was ready to boogie or nap, whichever came first. The pitmasters met and prepared the process for getting the food to the people and also to the judges. After the initial 12:00 PM feeding frenzy, with problems including Patrick’s uncooked/unchoked chicken, confusion with the food runners, and general startup disorganization, the pitmasters all sat back and waited for the next batch of food to come off the grills. Once the kinks were unkinked it was a well oiled and a well smoked machine.

People lined up, brisket on the line first, then sides, and then ribs and chicken. The Flawless Diamonds would call out when food needed replenishing, and you’d either hop to it or face the wrath of Toni. Every once in a while a guest would come over and thank one of the pitmasters with a plate of happy food. Together they shared a cold beverage and took a bit of time to relax while the assembly line did its thing.

Once cleanup was done, the pitmasters began to hang out in the front area facing the stage. Except for Harry … because he gathered his band of merry musicians, looking like he’d exerted no energy despite cooking for two straight days, and tore the place down with his music. Harry made everything look easy, kind of like the food cooked itself, the harmonica played itself, and he was simply along for the ride.

Someone (not from Texas) once asked, “What is the significance of BBQ to the universe?” It’s a good question if you’re not from Texas, but basically, sonny, it goes like this:

Everyone eats food, which falls into two categories, fast food and family dinner food. But barbecue, you see, is so far from either of those because it takes forever to make. What it means to the universe, and especially what it can do to help Los Angeles, is SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Yeah. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Have patience. Get together with people you know, people you don’t know yet, people you like, and people you’re going to like, and SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Serve yourself a big plateful of patience. Bring other humans together for hours and hours, resulting in a big payoff, a payoff of food and a payoff of camaraderie, and hopefully not a payoff of a nasty hangover the next day.

But it’s not easy, because after twelve hours of cooking you have no guarantee of success. The connective tissues in the meat may not give up after all that time and be tougher than granny’s bra strap, the flavor may taste like boiled ass, or it may be so over cooked that you can use it to patch potholes. So to get it right, you have to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN, pay attention, care, and don’t overreact when things aren’t going just right. With barbecue, like life, you’re not really in control, you’re just tending the garden while the sunshine and water do all the real work.

Hopefully Los Angeles is on the heels of a BBQ revolution and can learn from this slow, delicious meat candy, can learn to STFD.

Barbecue can also educate you. Mike, Reggie’s assistant, shared his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz when the DJ powered up his system. Some musical phrase triggered Mike into a passionate discourse about modern jazz artists. It came out of nowhere and the passion that he had was incredible. That’s part of the barbecue magic, too.

The contest came and went, with judges Sherri Foxworthy, Alfie Sanchez, and Jon Regnery making the hard decisions about who would win top honors. Thanks to Patrick’s rigged system he won again, but no one really got too upset because even though Geoff showed up late and perfectly groomed, he also showed up with several cases of ice cold beer, which studies show alleviates aggravation almost instantaneously.

Jon donated one of his beautiful True Au Jus barbecue cutting boards as the grand prize winner, a work of art that is almost too pretty to deface with raw meat.

Almost.

END


More All Clubs BBQ love

August 13, 2019 § 1 Comment

Among the sponsors who have generously donated to this year’s All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards, Big Orange Cycling has been a part of the festivities since the beginning.

In addition to being extremely well represented in a number of award categories, that is, one category in especial, Big O has repeatedly broken new ground in its approach to promoting cycling. And I’m not just talking about kit design.

Big Orange was one of the first clubs to adopt bike safety as an ongoing and integral part of its club operations–not as an informal emphasis on safety, but by using instructors and a proven curriculum to protect its members on the streets of LA. In conjunction with Cycling Savvy, Big O continues to lead in its approach to safe use of urban roadways.

Among other innovations, Big O is the perhaps the only club in the history of cycling to welcome Brad House with open arms. It was a sad day for cycling in the South Bay when this titan of something left the sunny skies of SoCal for the arid, windswept steppes of Dallas.

In addition to structured rides every weekend that calibrate with the off-season in racing from July through May, Big Orange promotes rider education and has been a key entry point for countless riders who have gone on to become successful racers on local, state, national, and international levels.

For another year, Big Orange puts its money where our mouths are and has donated generously to help promote unity, diversity, and community in cycling.

Thank you!

END


More All Clubs BBQ love

August 13, 2019 § 1 Comment

Among the sponsors who have generously donated to this year’s All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards, Big Orange Cycling has been a part of the festivities since the beginning.

In addition to being extremely well represented in a number of award categories, that is, one category in especial, Big O has repeatedly broken new ground in its approach to promoting cycling. And I’m not just talking about kit design.

Big Orange was one of the first clubs to adopt bike safety as an ongoing and integral part of its club operations–not as an informal emphasis on safety, but by using instructors and a proven curriculum to protect its members on the streets of LA. In conjunction with Cycling Savvy, Big O continues to lead in its approach to safe use of urban roadways.

Among other innovations, Big O is the perhaps the only club in the history of cycling to welcome Brad House with open arms. It was a sad day for cycling in the South Bay when this titan of something left the sunny skies of SoCal for the arid, windswept steppes of Dallas.

In addition to structured rides every weekend that calibrate with the off-season in racing from July through May, Big Orange promotes rider education and has been a key entry point for countless riders who have gone on to become successful racers on local, state, national, and international levels.

For another year, Big Orange puts its money where our mouths are and has donated generously to help promote unity, diversity, and community in cycling.

Thank you!

END


Unity rides!

July 19, 2019 § 1 Comment

What started as a ridiculous get-together in a dive bar in Redondo Beach has become something astounding: Hundreds of cyclists aggregating on and off the bike to break down barriers, enjoy fellowship, and build bridges where none existed before, or where the ones that did exist were rickety and in dire need of repair.

This year’s All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards includes a trio of unity rides that already boast close to 300 registrants, with more on the way.

Cost? Free.

Level of rides? Easy/Medium/Soul-crushing.

Best of all? The rides are being led by some of the true legends of the sport. Of course, none of it would happen without the incredible support of Race for RP, Major Taylor Cycling Club, Velo Club LaGrange, Big Orange Cycling, Methods to Winning, Ride with Nelly, the Bahati Foundation, Zwift, OpenFit Fitness, AMP Human Performance Lotion, Pedal Industries, Evolution PT, Origin, The Bike Palace, True Au Jus Board, Strand Brewing, JL Velo, East Side Riders, Podium Bound 123. To make it all clear as a bell, design wizard Joe Yule of Meta Creative put together this fantabulous poster for your viewing pleasure!

All rides leave on Saturday, August 17, at 8:00 AM from Dock 52, 13552 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, 90292, the rides look kinda like this:

The MVMNT Ride 35: This flat, easy ride will cover 35 miles round trip and provide you views of the Pacific Ocean at a conversational pace. Join this ride if you want to chat, make friends, enjoy the views, and get in a fun ride without being hammered at the end! No puking, gasping, or crawling off your bike beaten and ruined on this ride–just good convo and good times!

Sit the Wheel: Nelson Vails, the only African-American to ever medal in cycling at the Olympics, will lead this 55-mile, 1900-ft. ride. Expect a moderate to quick tempo with some climbs that will get your heart rate up. Do this ride if you want a workout and are okay with getting dropped. It’s not a hammerfest and if you’re fit and reasonably competitive, this is the ride for you. As the ride’s name implies, it’s not a race, it’s a chance to sit the wheel of Nelson Vails while he leads the group. You’ll enjoy a fantastic time getting to meet and talk to one of the legends of the sport.

Stars and Stripes: 10-time National Champion Rahsaan Bahati will lead and set tempo on this 75 mile, 6k-ft ride. Be among world, national, and state champions, while not enjoying any of the ocean and mountains because although the views are breathtaking, so is the ride. Do this ride if you want to say, “What was I thinking?”


END

Miles of smiles!

Unity rides!

July 19, 2019 § 1 Comment

What started as a ridiculous get-together in a dive bar in Redondo Beach has become something astounding: Hundreds of cyclists aggregating on and off the bike to break down barriers, enjoy fellowship, and build bridges where none existed before, or where the ones that did exist were rickety and in dire need of repair.

This year’s All Clubs BBQ and South Bay Cycling Awards includes a trio of unity rides that already boast close to 300 registrants, with more on the way.

Cost? Free.

Level of rides? Easy/Medium/Soul-crushing.

Best of all? The rides are being led by some of the true legends of the sport. Of course, none of it would happen without the incredible support of Race for RP, Major Taylor Cycling Club, Velo Club LaGrange, Big Orange Cycling, Methods to Winning, Ride with Nelly, the Bahati Foundation, Zwift, OpenFit Fitness, AMP Human Performance Lotion, Pedal Industries, Evolution PT, Origin, The Bike Palace, True Au Jus Board, Strand Brewing, JL Velo, East Side Riders, Podium Bound 123. To make it all clear as a bell, design wizard Joe Yule of Meta Creative put together this fantabulous poster for your viewing pleasure!

All rides leave on Saturday, August 17, at 8:00 AM from Dock 52, 13552 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, 90292, the rides look kinda like this:

The MVMNT Ride 35: This flat, easy ride will cover 35 miles round trip and provide you views of the Pacific Ocean at a conversational pace. Join this ride if you want to chat, make friends, enjoy the views, and get in a fun ride without being hammered at the end! No puking, gasping, or crawling off your bike beaten and ruined on this ride–just good convo and good times!

Sit the Wheel: Nelson Vails, the only African-American to ever medal in cycling at the Olympics, will lead this 55-mile, 1900-ft. ride. Expect a moderate to quick tempo with some climbs that will get your heart rate up. Do this ride if you want a workout and are okay with getting dropped. It’s not a hammerfest and if you’re fit and reasonably competitive, this is the ride for you. As the ride’s name implies, it’s not a race, it’s a chance to sit the wheel of Nelson Vails while he leads the group. You’ll enjoy a fantastic time getting to meet and talk to one of the legends of the sport.

Stars and Stripes: 10-time National Champion Rahsaan Bahati will lead and set tempo on this 75 mile, 6k-ft ride. Be among world, national, and state champions, while not enjoying any of the ocean and mountains because although the views are breathtaking, so is the ride. Do this ride if you want to say, “What was I thinking?”


END

Miles of smiles!

Park bench

August 18, 2018 § 7 Comments

Last Sunday we had the inaugural All Clubs BBQ sixth South Bay Cycling Awards at Eldorado Park in Long Beach. The two people who made this event happen, Ken Vinson and Kristie Fox, arrived before the sun rose to get things set up.

There was a guy sleeping on a park bench and Ken asked him if he would help out in exchange for a meal. The man’s name was Ben Millane, and not only did he help,  he took ownership of his tasks and being part of the event. He did the leaf blowing for the entire area and helped clean the venue. He was kind and talkative, and seemed as excited as anyone to be there, maybe more.

Without being asked, he stayed all the way through tear down. He talked numerous times throughout the day to all kinds of people. As the final things were loaded up, Ben thanked Ken and Kristie, said he loved the event, then asked if it was a one time only happening. Kristie said the event would definitely be back next year and that she would contact him. Ben has a FB page, and wondered where he could get one of the cycling t-shirts made by Origin. Kristie said she’d get him one.

This kind of interaction between strangers is what the day was about.

Six years is longer than you think

At the end of the South Bay Cycling Awards last year I was pretty wrung out. We had gone from humble origins at Naja’s dive bar in Redondo Beach to a huge event at Strand Brewing in Torrance, each year bigger than the last.

But after last year it felt like the event had run its course. There are only so many times you can give out twenty awards of distinction in a small community before you really are simply recycling names. Instead of an organic gathering of friends we had become a choreographed event with moving parts, all of which had to be timed and integrated.

It was a big old hassle.

As we were tussling with the idea of what to do in 2018, or whether to do anything at all, we were invited to join one of Ken Vinson’s Movement Rides. I’ve written about that experience, but it brought home the fact that if our event was going to represent the broader cycling community, it would need people from those communities who had skin in the game. Our decision to merge the two events was a quick one that left us with little time to pull it off.

“Don’t worry,” said Ken. “If give me the green light, we’ll make it happen.”

Let the people breathe

One thing I learned is that it’s hard to step aside. It’s kind of painful to see that when you’re not there, there are plenty of people who can do it better, more efficiently, and more effectively. And while it was great to see so many people come to the fore and do fantastic things, it also drove home that when an event is identified with one person it sort of sucks the oxygen out of the room for everyone else.

Apparently I was a pretty big oxygen suck, because when I turned the keys over to Ken and Kristie a whole host of new people stepped up to make the event better than it has ever been before. It’s hard to single out any one person, but some things really stood out.

One of them was Jeff Prinz of CBR, hopping around on a bandaged leg as he organized kids’ games and turned the first half of the event into a genuine icebreaker. It’s one thing to get black and white and brown people into a single venue, but a whole other thing to get them to talk. Racial barriers are real and they don’t come down easily. Although physical proximity is the key, it’s sometimes not enough.

Enter the world’s biggest game of musical chairs. Under Jeff’s direction the entire central area was converted into a game of 150-seat musical chairs, and this is where the barriers shook, crumbled, and fell. People diving for seats, laughing, bumping into each other, connecting as human beings over a simple child’s game … it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, made supreme by the fact that the child’s game was won, of course, by a child.

Let the people eat

Throughout the park, master cooks Harry McQueen, Patrick Barrett, Geoff Loui, and Jonathan Fraser cranked out the tantalizing smell of their pit creations, building to a fever pitch when the barbecue judging began at noon. Judges Sherri Foxworthy, Orlando Hutcherson, and Marvin Campbell did the hard work of eating the best barbecue imaginable, then trying to pick a winner.

And pick they did, anointing Patrick Barrett the winner’s laurels in a hard-fought contest. With heaps of non-contest meat also being grilled, people wandered through the area sampling, eating, and enjoying an amazing mix of camaraderie, community, and family. Shortly after noon Toni Smith and her Flawless Diamonds opened their food line and things got even more serious.

The first 150 people ate free; after that it cost ten bucks a plate for barbecue, cornbread, beans, and dessert. The Flawless Diamonds made sure that at this event, like every event they cater, no one goes hungry who can’t afford a meal. This too was a symbol of the day.

Let the people race

Around the corner from the stage, Zwift had set up a booth where you could strap into a spin bike and show your watts. The biggest wattage for the day, man and woman, each won a Zwift subscription along with a $1,200 indoor trainer. Competition was intense, to put it mildly. Zwift was one of many organizations who supported the event, including Race for RP, Velo Club LaGrange, and Big Orange Cycling. I’ve linked to the other sponsors in a previous post here.

The biggest race of all, of course, was the race of the people who showed up. It’s the first time ever, as was noted by keynote speaker Nelson Vails, that such a diverse community of cyclists has shown up to support, encourage, promote, and pay homage to the diversity of cycling. Award winners in 2018 made this event the most diverse one ever, and we didn’t even need an Oscars scandal to make it happen.

How did it happen? By doing the right thing for the right reasons with the right people.

After it was all said and done, we showed that people can work together, that unity is stronger than discord, and that the things we share as human beings that bind us together are infinitely stronger than the minor differences that people use to try and drive us apart. We showed that the first step to a better a world requires us to share the same physical space, that the second step requires a little bit of fun, and that the third step requires that we break bread together. The driving force for all of this, of course, is the bicycle, and anyone who doubts that bikes can save the world wasn’t at Eldorado Park last Sunday.

From volunteer photographers like Fred King to volunteer set-up hands like Ben Millane, from organizers like Ken and Kristie to the clubs who showed up in force, From Erick and Kurt on the sound to Peta and Rudy on the sack race, all I can say is that if you liked what you saw last week, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

END

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Park bench

August 18, 2018 § 7 Comments

Last Sunday we had the inaugural All Clubs BBQ sixth South Bay Cycling Awards at Eldorado Park in Long Beach. The two people who made this event happen, Ken Vinson and Kristie Fox, arrived before the sun rose to get things set up.

There was a guy sleeping on a park bench and Ken asked him if he would help out in exchange for a meal. The man’s name was Ben Millane, and not only did he help,  he took ownership of his tasks and being part of the event. He did the leaf blowing for the entire area and helped clean the venue. He was kind and talkative, and seemed as excited as anyone to be there, maybe more.

Without being asked, he stayed all the way through tear down. He talked numerous times throughout the day to all kinds of people. As the final things were loaded up, Ben thanked Ken and Kristie, said he loved the event, then asked if it was a one time only happening. Kristie said the event would definitely be back next year and that she would contact him. Ben has a FB page, and wondered where he could get one of the cycling t-shirts made by Origin. Kristie said she’d get him one.

This kind of interaction between strangers is what the day was about.

Six years is longer than you think

At the end of the South Bay Cycling Awards last year I was pretty wrung out. We had gone from humble origins at Naja’s dive bar in Redondo Beach to a huge event at Strand Brewing in Torrance, each year bigger than the last.

But after last year it felt like the event had run its course. There are only so many times you can give out twenty awards of distinction in a small community before you really are simply recycling names. Instead of an organic gathering of friends we had become a choreographed event with moving parts, all of which had to be timed and integrated.

It was a big old hassle.

As we were tussling with the idea of what to do in 2018, or whether to do anything at all, we were invited to join one of Ken Vinson’s Movement Rides. I’ve written about that experience, but it brought home the fact that if our event was going to represent the broader cycling community, it would need people from those communities who had skin in the game. Our decision to merge the two events was a quick one that left us with little time to pull it off.

“Don’t worry,” said Ken. “If give me the green light, we’ll make it happen.”

Let the people breathe

One thing I learned is that it’s hard to step aside. It’s kind of painful to see that when you’re not there, there are plenty of people who can do it better, more efficiently, and more effectively. And while it was great to see so many people come to the fore and do fantastic things, it also drove home that when an event is identified with one person it sort of sucks the oxygen out of the room for everyone else.

Apparently I was a pretty big oxygen suck, because when I turned the keys over to Ken and Kristie a whole host of new people stepped up to make the event better than it has ever been before. It’s hard to single out any one person, but some things really stood out.

One of them was Jeff Prinz of CBR, hopping around on a bandaged leg as he organized kids’ games and turned the first half of the event into a genuine icebreaker. It’s one thing to get black and white and brown people into a single venue, but a whole other thing to get them to talk. Racial barriers are real and they don’t come down easily. Although physical proximity is the key, it’s sometimes not enough.

Enter the world’s biggest game of musical chairs. Under Jeff’s direction the entire central area was converted into a game of 150-seat musical chairs, and this is where the barriers shook, crumbled, and fell. People diving for seats, laughing, bumping into each other, connecting as human beings over a simple child’s game … it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, made supreme by the fact that the child’s game was won, of course, by a child.

Let the people eat

Throughout the park, master cooks Harry McQueen, Patrick Barrett, Geoff Loui, and Jonathan Fraser cranked out the tantalizing smell of their pit creations, building to a fever pitch when the barbecue judging began at noon. Judges Sherri Foxworthy, Orlando Hutcherson, and Marvin Campbell did the hard work of eating the best barbecue imaginable, then trying to pick a winner.

And pick they did, anointing Patrick Barrett the winner’s laurels in a hard-fought contest. With heaps of non-contest meat also being grilled, people wandered through the area sampling, eating, and enjoying an amazing mix of camaraderie, community, and family. Shortly after noon Toni Smith and her Flawless Diamonds opened their food line and things got even more serious.

The first 150 people ate free; after that it cost ten bucks a plate for barbecue, cornbread, beans, and dessert. The Flawless Diamonds made sure that at this event, like every event they cater, no one goes hungry who can’t afford a meal. This too was a symbol of the day.

Let the people race

Around the corner from the stage, Zwift had set up a booth where you could strap into a spin bike and show your watts. The biggest wattage for the day, man and woman, each won a Zwift subscription along with a $1,200 indoor trainer. Competition was intense, to put it mildly. Zwift was one of many organizations who supported the event, including Race for RP, Velo Club LaGrange, and Big Orange Cycling. I’ve linked to the other sponsors in a previous post here.

The biggest race of all, of course, was the race of the people who showed up. It’s the first time ever, as was noted by keynote speaker Nelson Vails, that such a diverse community of cyclists has shown up to support, encourage, promote, and pay homage to the diversity of cycling. Award winners in 2018 made this event the most diverse one ever, and we didn’t even need an Oscars scandal to make it happen.

How did it happen? By doing the right thing for the right reasons with the right people.

After it was all said and done, we showed that people can work together, that unity is stronger than discord, and that the things we share as human beings that bind us together are infinitely stronger than the minor differences that people use to try and drive us apart. We showed that the first step to a better a world requires us to share the same physical space, that the second step requires a little bit of fun, and that the third step requires that we break bread together. The driving force for all of this, of course, is the bicycle, and anyone who doubts that bikes can save the world wasn’t at Eldorado Park last Sunday.

From volunteer photographers like Fred King to volunteer set-up hands like Ben Millane, from organizers like Ken and Kristie to the clubs who showed up in force, From Erick and Kurt on the sound to Peta and Rudy on the sack race, all I can say is that if you liked what you saw last week, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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