Zwift steps up again!

July 29, 2019 § 5 Comments

Zwift’s Social Impact Division has made a very significant financial contribution to support the All Clubs BBQ and 7th Annual South Bay Cycling Awards. This the second year that Zwift has sponsored the event. Last year they provided what was by far the most popular attraction, a Zwift cave where riders could test their legs to win a prize. Naturally, several hundred cyclists wanted nothing more than to flog themselves senseless on a huge TV screen to see who was strongest.

This year, in addition to the same flogging station, Zwift is donating money to defray the cost of food. As with last year, the first 100 plates of barbecue are free, keeping with the event’s long tradition, stretching back to the beer hall days at Naja’s, of giving back to the cycling community. It’s gonna mildly suck if you’re #101 in line, but all the more reason to line up early! And the full plate of loaded grub is still only ten bucks … you can hardly eat at Mickey D’s for that anymore.

Our list of cash sponsors keeps growing: From Origin Cycling Wear, Race for RP, Major Taylor Cycling Club, Velo Club LaGrange, Big Orange Cycling, Kristie Fox, and Methods to Winning, this community based event, only in its second year, is coming close to being completely funded by outside sources thanks to cash sponsors and to the volunteers who are making it happen.

The most rewarding aspect of the support being given by Zwift and our other sponsors is that they are literally asking for nothing in return. They simply believe that diversity and community and fellowship are in and of themselves worthy goals, and they want to support unity, moving forward together.


Destroyer 2.0

March 4, 2019 § 9 Comments

Kind of like with Jesus, it is always good to wait a few days before writing the epitaph.

I had already written Destroyer’s, and I wrote it back in November when he was lying on my couch, destroyed. We had done a 22-mile pancake pedal around the hill and it had almost killed him.

This, the Destroyer who owned the Donut, who had won Boulevard RR, who was the feared lead-out method for his team, Methods to Winning, the guy who combined savvy, strength, bike handling, intuition, and a nose for the kill better than a cyborg, was prostrate on my couch unable to stand after a ride that he would normally have been able to do one-legged without breaking a sweat.


What had happened? What had laid this icon so low with such breathtaking speed? Alas, fatherhood. No longer gaily sashaying from group ride to group ride, from race to race, from leaderboard to leaderboard, in a matter of months he had become a droop-dicked, shit-shoveling, diaper dandling father, a man who put family ahead of bikes, who was willing to forswear the life of bike bum for the obligation of child-rearing.

It made me so sad.

But what was I to do? I have seen countless riders come and go, and hardly any stay. Whether family, job, health, wealth, boredom, or the inability to find an affordable anti-aging clinic, sticking with cycling, so different from syphilis, is hard to do.

So I watched Destroyer fade into the past, another cycling legend, one of the people I most loved to get dropped by, as he graduated from bicycling to fathering.


Imagine my shock when I saw Charon Smith congratulate each of his teammates for helping with his victory last weekend and in the congratulation mention none other than Derek the Destroyer.

I dialed Destroyer up to find out what had happened. Had he injured his groinus lateralis playing tennis? Had he gained 200 pounds and been given doctor’s orders to get healthy again? Had he sold his family?

No, none of the above.

“Dude,” I said, “you’re back! What happened?”

“In a word?”

“Yes, or however many.”


I listened, stunned.


“I saw the light, like finding Jesus, only with this difference: Jesus never made anyone lose 15 pounds in their first month.”


“Yeah, Zwift is the only really acceptable cult nowadays if you’re not going to believe in Christ or Tesla. And once you find it, dude, your soul is saved.”


“It’s like this, Wanky. I’m a busy dude. I work a lot. I have a small child that demands attention. I have a wife that demands that I attend the child’s demands, not to mention hers.”

“Sounds normal.”

“And you know what there isn’t time for?”

“Fantasy football?”

“Pfffft. There is ALWAYS time for fantasy football.”

“What, then?”

“Wind. Sunburn. Rain. Thirty minutes getting dressed. Eleven stop signs and four traffic lights before I can actually get to a decent area where I can get potentially run over by angry motorists while training. Bike attire laundry. Oiling my chain. Mis-changing my cassette before going on a ride.”

“What are you saying?”

“No tennis elbow, either. Zwift is the most efficient way to cycle, ever.”

“It is?”

“Heck yes. All you need is a Zwift cave.”

“A what?”

“A Zwift cave. It’s a dedicated area where you have a smart trainer, a 32-inch TV, a sweet laptop, a stack of workout towels, and all you need is a pair of shorts and cleats. You can go all in for under three grand; fifty grand if you do the add-on or basement renovation.”

“What is a smart trainer?”

“The opposite of a dumb trainer. You know those things way back in the 2000’s where you would spin hopelessly for four hours staring at the wall and give up after fifteen minutes because you were losing your mind? Those.”

“Zwift is that good?”

“It’s better. I get a killer workout in an hour, then I’m done. And if the kid shits his pants I’m there to change it.”

“So there is one negative.”

“Right. But otherwise, it’s so much better than reality. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. It’s interactive with complete strangers I never have to talk to and learn about their marital problems or eczema. I can ride the coolest bike and wheels and kit. Never lose a $2,000 rim due to a pothole. My bike never has to be washed, and the only injury I’ve ever gotten is the time I had to move my Wahoo Kickr upstairs, it weighs a hundred pounds and I herniated a disc.”

“It just sounds so unreal.”

“Dude, it out-reals reality. Even the doping is better.”


“Oh, hell yes. You have the old school dope doping, where dudes shoot EPO to win virtual Zwift races and training rides, and then you have Zwift doping, where you lie about your weight to improve your power-to-weight ratio, or you shrink yourself over time to improve your drag coefficient.”

“So riders get lighter and shorter?”

“Sure. Why not?

“I’m not sure.”

“About what? You would love it! And by love it, I mean you would hate it.”

“I would?”

“Sure. It’s everything you hate about reality, by which I mean reality getting displaced by Facebook and Strava. This is Stravbook, actually, the best of both worlds. I mean the worst, of course.”

“Sounds dystopic.”

“Look. It has gotten me back on my bike. I even raced last weekend. A real race with 3-D people, many of whom were using actual drugs formulated in an honest-to-goodness lab. You would have approved.”

“Well, you riding again is the undeniably best thing. So we’ll get to ride together, which you know, I’ve really missed.”

Then there was a long pause.

“Uh, Wanky.”




Your tiny niche is now a global plumber’s crack

September 28, 2017 § 25 Comments

The day you knew your weirdness was now mainstream? That’s the day that Men’s Journal came out with an article praising Strava as “The Only Fitness App That Matters.”

Notice I said “your.” Not “my.”

I remember the first day I heard about Strava. I was in Bull’s living room. We were talking about something bikish and he said, “Hey you gotta check out this really cool program, it’s called Strava.”

Notice he said “program.” Not “app.” And certainly not “fitness app.”

Bull walked me through it on his laptop. “See?” he said. “It records everything and has these segments where you can look at parts of a ride and a leaderboard. See?”

“Stupidest fucking thing ever,” I said.

“It’s super cool,” he added, unfazed. “You’re gonna love it.”

I think that was in 2012. I did Strava for a couple of years until it became as unbearable as my power meter had been, a relentless reminder of quantified suckage, and what was worse, accelerating suckage. One day I took it behind the outhouse and shot it. Then, a year or so ago, shortly after my nutsack-breaking-incident, I resuscitated it.

But Men’s Journal has now anointed Strava as the only fitness app that matters; the killer app. Before you go proudly clapping yourself on the ass, please check their home page and note that Men’s Journal features:

  • A giant, inflatable Irish pub.
  • Kelly Slater paddling his surfboard.
  • Some tatted up dude tossing an exerball.
  • How to break in raw denim.
  • Killer indoor exercise machines.

In other words, the mag has zero cred unless you’re a drunk surfing tatty-poo fashionista who exercises in front of a giant mirror.

The article is long on words but short on substance, which is like Strava itself, robustly empty. Basically, Strava is a killer app, the writer says, because it has a slick interface, yo. And segments, yo. And everyone’s on it, yo. This last part is the thing that makes it most killer for the author and therefore the type of person likely to read Men’s Journal. It’s kind of like a restaurant review that says “The food is incredible because everybody likes it.” Ah, yes. I see.

What the article missed is that Strava succeeds because it’s the digital equivalent of  the giant mirror in front of the free weights where you can stare forever at the tiny bumps between your shoulder and elbow masquerading as muscle. Every Men’s Journal subscriber will understand.

Strava lets you ogle, stare, admire, note tiny differences from the last workout (“See! A new vein! I think.”), and just as importantly gaze at the lifter next to you, the one whose arm is twice the diameter of your torso. A few more reps and you’ll be exactly like him because you both belong to the same gym.

The digital narcissism of Strava has perfectly melded with the desire to watch yourself in motion. Nextgen versions will integrate with the four personal drones that follow you on the ride, and it will also connect with Zwift riders who virtually challenge you in their basement on the live video feed while you pedal the actual street. The live feed on Facebag will show realtime power/HR/elevation/speed and a 3-D topographical map running along the bottom of the screen. After the ride you’ll relax with some diet water, eat some raw almonds, compare your performance with people who are similar enough to beat but not similar enough to beat you, and review the whole thing in a video podcast that you upload through your glasses. The world isn’t all about you. The world is you.

And really, the author did get it right. Strava is the killer app. And the thing it killed? Fun.



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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.


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