Monday, October 31, 2005

Thelma & Louise

Happy Halloween everyone!

Speaking of scary, yours truly the bottle blonde needs to get busy with touchin' up dem roots... Beast on a barge, how tacky! Darn good thing it's Halloween, cos people probably just think I'm going as white trash this year.... EEEEEEEEEK!!!!!

Check out the hottie to my left. That's my main homegirl, Marty. This chica is seriously cool, and represents my oldest and closest Boulder friend.

Thelma and Louise. A couple of chicks bent on destroying the universe as they know it. I'd dig being Louise for a day or so: Hot chick with an awesome car, great taste in music and a big ass gun? ...right f'n on.

I mean, despite the fact that I like my colleagues and they pay me pretty well, I'm essentially a glorified waitress. And I like the name Louise, easily cropped down to something awesome like 'Lulu' or 'Weezy'. Frankly, I never cottoned onto my Christian name. The full version ('Elizabeth') is hopelessly Edwardian and stodgy. My daily handle ('Beth') kinda implies some pink-sweater-infested bitchy high school cheerleader. 'Liz' is just plain out of the question for reasons I shouldn't even have to explain. And rather than actually DO anything constructive like change it, or else insist everyone call me 'Eli', the hip genderbending nom de guerre bestowed upon me in my early 20's by my very bestest favourite drag queen, I just grudgingly put up with it, in typical LFR passive aggression. Blah.

So anyway, I'm sure you're all breathlessly wondering what deep globally responsible and paradigm-shifting topics a couple of thirtysomething cyclistas discuss whilst sitting around in the coffeehouse? Um... hellow, whadja think? We scope hot dudes, gossip about bike porn and dudes, declare open season on the twentysomething male population of Boulder (if only in our depraved imaginations), play with our digicams and in general annoy the patrons with our breathlessly adolescent fits of giggles. Marty also has this devestating knack of coaxing me to spill my guts about my current sordid state of personal affairs. No I will NOT 'fess up, despite that half the patrons of the Bookend now know, whether or not they wanted to. Talk about TMI, yikes.

Oh and FYI Marty, you're still contagious. I somehow accidentally managed to delete the cool shots from Sunday I had on my digicard, bah humbug. Eh, okay, sorry, I honestly shouldn't blame ya chica... flash memory is temporary, but blonde is forever.



Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Bike Nazis

Ahh, the Saturday morning group ride.

As any roadie with a social bent and a club licence knows, this tradition stretches back into the hazy golden past of Binda straps, Clement sewups and wool shorts. Throughout the U.S., any LBS (local bike shop) desiring to promote riding and sales of high end equipment generally sponsors / hosts a Saturday morning group ride.

To the uninitiated tyro, the concept of a club / LBS organised group ride seems on the surface to be an innocent way to socialise, meet other cyclists, work on pack skills and get a fun, relaxing workout in, right?

Eh... mostly. Enter the Bike Nazis and their conceptualisation of group riding, which we fondly refer to as the 'Tour De Testicle'.

In my... ahem... extensive experience (I meant bike related, no snide comments, please... well, unless you're a hot dude, in which case email me your digits and we'll discuss it offline) every local road cycling community in the nation engages in this quaint tradition. Descriptives vary, but when I use the jolly euphemisms 'testosterone-fest', Testicle Tour', "Weekly World Champs' 'Pain Locker Festival', etc... any experienced roadie reading this is gonna nod and smile in understanding. I've been riding and racing road bikes since 1991, and have since lost count of the number of Tours De Testicle, Weeknight World Championships, etc, etc, bla bla... I've been engaged in.

So now, dear reader, I'm sure you're scratching your head in puzzlement. If I willingly, nay, eagerly engage in these weekly rolling cage matches, then what in the Nine Million Names of Dog am I bitching about?

The simple answer is: it's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to. The complexified answer has to do with a tangled litter of social and training factors, not the least the fact that I am, and have been a cycling coach for years. In a nutshell, it's just depressing to see the Bike Nazis time and again engage in selfish asinine behaviour that serves little benefit except to drive off perfectly cool rookies, usually those of the female and/or junior persuasion; individuals we can least afford to lose.

I'm sure I'll offend more sensitive readers with the arrant generalisations, but to quote the estimable wit Marshall Mathers:

"I just don't give a fuck".

::Denis Leary Mode::

On your typical fast public group rides, you are generally dealing with a bunch of what the Mad Dog so eloquently described in one of his many Foaming Rants; IOW most of the time they kinda resemble an asterisk when you set it in a really big font:


Now I'll grant that these as(s)terisks come in all shapes and flavours, but generally you're dealing with one of the following subclasses:

1) The Pseudo-Racer: The bulk of the "racers" in team jerseys on these rides are the sorts of club racers and/or tri-geeks who are too chickenshitted to show up at a mass start event. They thus limit their actual race days to one or two ITT or hillclimb events per year, and often do quite well at these since there's no denying they're strong, plus they don't have to focus on any sort of skills or tactics besides riding one speed as hard as they can for a predetermined length of time. Pseudo-racers will go on every group ride their club holds because a) they aren't training for anything besides the weekly Testicle Tour and the annual Mount Doom Hillclimb, thus they're not suffering dead legs from having done a brutal race the previous Saturday, Sunday and/or Tuesday night; and b) To justify their existence and the "team" jersey they've bought, they feel compelled to prove to everyone else just how tough they are. These sorts of riders almost universally have terrible pack skills, know (and care) zilch about safety and love to ride around pretending they're Europros by blowing stop signs and riding three and four abreast blocking traffic. They'd ride without helmets if they could get away with it, thankfully most LBS hosted rides forbid it.

2) The Century King: Another subset are your fast recreational types. These guys don't care to race, and they don't give a crap about training in any organised fashion. They just want a hard workout, and in the process of doing this, they like to feed their own egos by boasting about how high an average speed they can maintain, and what "real racers" they are able to drop on any given ride. These guys have even worse group skills and manners than Subclass 1. They are often to be seen sporting permanently attached aerobars, helmet mirrors and Nashbar closeout deal jerseys. They generally don't give a snowflake on a hot stove about "development" (their own or anyone else's) or "encouraging new riders". Screw that noise, their goal is to get their workout in by dropping as many riders as they are physically capable of, and everyone else else be damned. I've actually heard one of these prats boasting how hard they "dropped" former Euro-pro Jonathon Vaughters (who happened to be riding in old CA kit, hence recognisable). I know JV pretty well, so what this donkey probably didn't suss onto is that JV had almost certainly been out 5 hours to the asshat's one (not to mention on a recovery lap from an interval set, to boot).

3) The Wannabe: A third subset are essentially poseurs who do group rides to facilitate their personal sense of identity. These are often has-been or never-was racer groupies who are now well-upholstered fiftysomethings. These guys show up with matched Euro team kit straining over their ample midriffs, World Champion edition shoes, on the latest unobtanium frameset. Considering said frameset was originally designed for a buck-twenty Basque climber, it creaks ominously beneath their Biggie Sized buns. These are the guys who either 'forget' their lid at home or let their handlebars wear it at any and all opportunity. They wag their jaws ceaselessly about how fast they "used to be" or "are gonna be". They typically get dropped like a bad habit on the first climb though, so at least you won't have to listen to it for long.

4) The Henpecked Spouse: These are the riders who do race occasionally througout the season, but who are only able to negotiate a "hall pass" to do so on a limited number of weekends, due to family / lifestyle constraints and a nagging spouse with limited understanding of their partner's desire for personal fulfillment, and Gestapo-esque control of any expenditure not directly targeted towards home improvement or personal haberdashery needs. These riders must achieve their race-pace miles and group skills building whenever and wherever they can, and ad hoc training is difficult to impossible to work around their 40+ hour/week jobs, in-law requirements, and the obligations of serving as social coordinator and taxi service for the offspring. The LBS group rides at least offer an acceptable schedule / structure for them to get a regular workout. These are the guys sporting faded, ripped local team kit circa 1997, shoes they bought during the Clinton administration, ride ten-year-old knackered Cannondales, and are damned fast by virtue of being pissed off at the world in general.

::/Denis Leary Mode::

So... you're still wondering. If I have such an issue dealing with a stack of douchebags on a weekly basis, then why the heck don't I just go do my own ride. Well, quite a bit of the time, I do. I ride solo to work every day. I do long solo interval workouts when I need specificity in my training. And I know this is really hard to believe, but I do get sick of myself (it's easy, trust me).

Honestly, I'm fortunate. The club I belong to has a couple of motivated, sane individuals who either work at the LBS or show up regularly on rides. These guys are strong AND smart, a rare combo in the cycling subspecies Lycratus microencephalus roadii roadii They generally take it upon themselves to alternately praise, bust heads and enforce the 'first hour no-drop' rule. This is why I do this ride. I know that the first hour of the ride will, indeed, be a proper warm up and social klatch. After which we can let the dogs out, have fun, and all bets are off. The transition generally occurs after a pee break, at which time neophytes are warned that the gloves are gonna come off; the wise ones typically elect to turn for home. It's a positively civilised idea: a friendly group ride where one can still indulge in some good old-fashioned head-banging anaerobia. Usually without pissing anyone off.
In a nutshell, I've found a group of generally good dudes. Besides which, riding by myself, I certainly don't get the chance to gaze at lovely scenery such as this:


Friday, October 28, 2005

Cars R Coffins ™

With all due respect to the dudes at the CRC site... they're right.

I had to thump some donkey's minivan last night on my rush-hour scramble. I mean, I don't deny you your Gawd-given Amurikan right to drive in the bike lane, Poindexter. Just make sure to do so when I'm not IN it, k??

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, kids. Let's go visit with our neighbour, Mr. Ugly American, shall we? Oh look, speak of the devil, he's waddling out the door to climb into his Stupid Useless Vehicle. Cell phone in hand, vapid expression in place, our hero puts his mouth in gear, disengages his brain, and rolls off to Whorebuck's for his daily Fat Injection.

While consuming his 780 calories of venti-creme-caramel-flavoured bliss our boy goes on a caffeine and stress-induced miniriot. Internal dialogue sounds something like this:

"Holy hell, look at all this traffic! Jeezus, where did all these assclowns come from? Why can't they just getthehellouttamyway... dammit why won't you TURN ALREADY you stupid cow... god I ALWAYS miss that light... oh you're gonna honk at ME you bastard, you're number one, lemme show ya..."
Late for work again, with LDL-clogged arteries throbbing dangerously close to core breach status, dude proceeds to snag a donut and sits down in his little grey cubicle to embark on a day of chat room surfing, blogging, making his colleagues' lives hell and in general being a wart on the pasty white ass of society. At 12.00, he'll roll out to McDammit's and plow some gutbombs. At 17.00, he's gonna climb back in the Cage O' Death and do the Freeway Stress Fandango back to the old neighbourhood for some beer and pizza in front of the T.V., probably whilst watching the latest sitcom

Kinda makes me glad I ride my bike back and forth to work every day, DESPITE the occasional donkeys-in-minivans scenario as referenced above. How about you? Oh, I see. Too hot. Too cold. Too wet. Too windy. Too much hassle. Too too. Gotcha. No worries, mate. Checked your blood sugar lately? How those cholesterol numbers looking? Seen yer little buddy Mr. Winkie recently? How's about yer feet?

Human beings were not designed to sit on their asses in a 6' x 8' grey fabric box all day. Despite appearances to the contrary (yea, I know I'm sarcastic, so bite me), in person I'm actually happy, healthy, lean, fit and alert, a condition brought about mainly by the expedient of riding a 2-wheeled child's toy back and forth to work every day.

Commuting and training on a bicycle makes me feel alive, rejuvenated, and sharply aware of both my surroundings and my human frailty. Perhaps I'm regressing to the childhood / young adulthood that for various reasons I was always too busy or pressured by other responsibilities to enjoy. Okay, sure, I'm going through a midlife crisis. Whatever. All I know is that it's a good thing.

Stop rationalising. Get pedalling. Go ride a bike.



Thursday, October 27, 2005


Konichiwa, suckas

Last night I built a singlespeed. Why? says you. Well, for one I'm sick of riding my pimp Colnagos in the rain, and in case you hadn't noticed, we do get some winter here in Boulder. Generally from about 1 September thru mid-May, barring random timeouts for seventy-five degree weather in January.

Singlespeeding. Grace. Power. Simplicity. Souplesse. The opportunity to beat the Frickin Jesus™ outa some pretentious squirrelassed bastard on a $5000 Merlin Ti?


Especially whilst one is dressed like a homeless crack addict in jeans and a hoodie, toting fifteen pounds o' krap in a messenger bag.

That's all for now; I'll edit this thing once I get a handle on the mysteries of .html tags and all that noise. Picture hosting, links, it's all new to me, so be gentle. Or if you're gonna be nasty, at least say something amusingly scathing so as to warrant a Right And Proper Beatdown.