Thursday, April 27, 2017

Exciting, upcoming cycling events make me want to brag, blast & blog about them even if nobody reads my blog. On the off chance you are breathing and reading this, AWESOME! The upcoming event is the 21st annual Barrio Logan Grand Prix in San Diego on Saturday May 6, 2017. Get more info here:
http://sdbc.org/barrio-logan
I photograph all the races and give prizes to the Juniors race winners every year. You should go because there's great food, beer and bike racing all day, from 7am to 5pm. See you there!
KUSI News interviews Jim Ring of SDBC

Friday, January 27, 2017

Want to see Donald Trump on a bicycle? Me, too. But that's not going to happen. Amazingly enough, he was a bike race supporter and said his "Tour de Trump" was going to one day be bigger than the Tour de France. He may have been a reality TV star, but he has great difficulty staying in touch with reality. Are you too young to remember the cycling and political aspects of the Tour de Trump? Here's a refresher:
https://goo.gl/kKDc6Z

George W. Bush was a horrible president and Donald Trump is most certainly going to be worse.

Donny is rapidly working to accelerate man's destruction of our environment. I don't wish him good health, but it would be cool if he lived long enough to watch his Mar-a-Lago home/club be submerged in the ocean by his own pen stroke.

Good luck, America.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm such a bad "blogger" that I literally forgot about this blog and started another one. I'm not riding or writing as much as I used to, but there are definitely more recent posts at "Father Dan's Church of Cycling" here:
http://churchofcycling.weebly.com
If I have things set up properly, www.ChurchOfCycling.org will also forward to that page.

Our "big" cycling trip this year was to go to the third of the big three grand tours, La Vuelta de España, which we saw part of in the Costa Brava region of Spain. We got to ride on the time trial course while the pros were warming up on it. See photos here: https://goo.gl/L3sLHs

See you on the road. Keep the rubber side down.
❤😊

Friday, February 14, 2014

Whoa. Almost 2 years and no blog entries. OK, I'm not a blogger. I'm not dead, either, so I'm doing a quick entry to brighten the tone after my last grumpy entry.

True, I lost my cycling mojo. My mileage went way down. But I still love cycling. I tackled 2 more cycling-related bucket list items:

  1. Climb Mt. Evans in Colorado (highest paved road in North America) with friends. 
  2. Do a "century" on the local velodrome with nobody. (Because nobody but me is crazy enough to do something so monotonous and call it "fun.")
So much has happened in the cycling world since my last entry, too. Lance finally confessed. I never thought he'd confess, but I'm glad he did. I think we have Greg Lemond, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton to thank for helping to tip the scales. Tyler's book is quite good. It will be interesting for me and another buddy to share an RV with Tyler as we do RAGRBRAI in July, a mere 29 years after I did my last one at age 26. 

Thanks to George Hincapie for inviting me to a local ride recently, where he and Christian Van de Velde-Velde (and some cycling fans who paid a lot of $$ to ride with them) tooled around the local rolling hills. I'm glad to see guys like Big George still enjoying the bicycle long after the ups and downs of the "Lance Era." 

After a long absence, I'm trying to do the SDBC club ride every weekend. The A-ride shows me how far I have to go to get back in shape (and also clarifies that this doesn't get easier with age).

I wish you all a million miles of safe, happy riding. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saving My Cycling Mojo & The Golden Rule

The title of this blog was originally “Cycling Dicks,” but I thought I’d keep the lewd words out of the title to paint my latest literary wreck in a slightly more positive tone. In keeping with the blog theme (“An old cyclist’s rants and raves...”), I got some motivation to blog again during a club ride several weeks ago. I’m one of the weaker riders in our club’s “A” ride and I was having a less-than-fantastic morning trying to hang with the guys hammering down Highway 1. A regular fellow rider (we’ll just refer to him as “Ron”) didn’t like something about my riding. I’m not sure what his gripe was. I’m pretty careful about trying to avoid quick lateral moves that might sweep somebody’s front wheel. (I wish everyone in the group was.) I don’t like seeing anybody hit the deck. 

At any rate, when the pace slowed down a bit, I joked to Ron about how pathetic I felt trying to hang on. Ron, in keeping with my previous encounters with him where he takes on the air of a self-appointed supreme ride leader, found no humor in my comments and said that if I did that (whatever “that” was) again in the future he would run me off the road. FYI, this is not a good thing to say to me, whether it’s about running me off the road or running another cyclist off the road. Given how often a cyclist’s safety is intentionally and unintentionally threatened out on the road, I would never expect a fellow cyclist to make such a threat. When I’m not following my Two Commandments (see below), I think the appropriate response to such a threat is a swift 2x4 to the face. However, in the interest of packing light for the club ride, I didn’t have a single piece of lumber with me. So instead of the Pine Therapy approach, I loudly shared my observation by saying, “What a dick!” It’s not creative, but I thought it accurately branded his behavior. 

This encounter is one of many that has opened my eyes to a sad reality. Some cyclists are real dicks. As much as I love cycling, and as much as I generally love all cyclists, some cyclists—just like regular people—can be real dicks. 

I tried to brush off this unpleasant encounter before enjoying the traditional coffee stop on that ride. (Forgive and forget, right?) Unfortunately, the conversation at the table I sat down at only rubbed salt in the wound. Another cyclist (we’ll just call him “Fred”) was complaining about how some slow riders come to the front of the pack at stop lights. Fred said he told one such rider that he should go on the “B” ride instead of aspiring to hang with the “A” ride. This commentary was especially disappointing to me because I really like Fred and would like to think he’s friendlier than this. I didn’t say anything, but my thought was, “Why not use their recurring presence at the front as practice?” Racing in a crit involves a lot of getting around and ahead of other racers, so let them come to the front and let’s practice safely getting around them again. While I was thinking these thoughts, another rider at the table joked about how the riders that bunch at the front at stop lights probably learned about it as a ride strategy in Bicycling Magazine. 

Boom. It was at this moment that I experienced a subtle but significant epiphany:
     I’m surrounded by what can fairly be referred to as "cycling dicks."
These are the guys you might read about in blogs or publications targeted to not-so-overly-serious cyclists who are out there to have fun and stay healthy. The cycling dicks tell you to go on another ride rather than welcome you on their ride. They are less likely to give you a nod or wave in response to a friendly greeting. And God forbid if you’re wearing a t-shirt or a souvenir Tour de France yellow jersey or a kit that doesn’t match, because that makes you unworthy of riding anywhere near them. 

I was pretty bummed after that ride. This revelation even put a damper on my overall enthusiasm for cycling for a short while. (The weeks of coastal clouds hasn’t helped...I clearly prefer sunny rides.) Fortunately, I know now that this damper was temporary. Despite my age-induced back aches, slower riding and general deterioration, I know I still love cycling. All I need to do is stay clear of those who can’t ride for the sheer joy of riding, whether it’s competitive or easygoing. 

I haven’t been back to the club ride since then, partly because of conflicting weekend activities and partly because I’m less excited about that particular group ride. I was going to give it a try tomorrow, but I just got a call from a friend who invited me to join him and a couple other guys to do a solid, hill-climbing ride the same day out in East County. Of course I’ll do the “friends” ride because I know they’re doing it for fun and fitness. I’m sure it will have some competitive moments, but all in good fun. I think I can also count on sunny skies that far from the coast. And, in a sick way, I sort of miss Kitchen Creek Road. 

Nobody actually reads this blog, but if you’ve just found you’re an exception to this rule I’ll leave you with my new, simplified set of  TWO COMMANDMENTS to live by. (You’ll be disappointed with these if you were hoping I wasn’t going to use the slang term “dick” again, but hang in there...we’re almost done.) 

  1. Remember—and live by—the “Golden Rule.” Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
  2. Try not to be a dick. This one helps me be a better person because I know I’ve exhibited dickish behavior when I’ve lost my temper (usually when someone else forgets the Golden Rule or just does something incredibly stupid). In a way, this is a reminder to follow the first commandment above, but there’s something gentle and encouraging about this phraseology that I like. “Try.” The assumption is that if you’re being a dick, you’re probably not of a mindset that is very good at taking commands from anyone. So it’s set in a softer, more pleading tone. Just try.
So, please...give it a try. Smile. Say hello. Be friendly. Be welcoming. Stop for stop signs and red lights. (This one might confuse drivers who are accustomed to cycling dicks flying through stop signs, but let’s give it a try.) Clear the right turn lane at a stop light if you can stay out of the way (you’ll be thanked by some of the drivers). And never, ever threaten to run me or any other cyclist off the road. I don’t want to break commandments or noses, and I definitely don’t want to bring any lumber on my next club ride.

PS: No offense is intended to anyone named “Dick.” Two of my three friends named Dick have resorted to using “Richard,” and I applaud the brave one who still uses his old nickname despite the popularity of this slang term. (Lots of people named “John” never stopped using their names just because of the “bathroom” or “toilet” connotation.) I’ve tried to think of another word that carries the subtle connotation that “dick” does and haven’t found it yet. Our language is rich in hues but unfortunately no other derogatory term I’ve thought of seems to have the right balance between usability on a public blog and a term just slightly more crass than “prick.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Big Helmets for Cyclists With Huge Heads


How’s that for an exciting blog title? I stopped blogging for almost a year and this is my big reentry? If you had as much difficulty finding hats and helmets that fit your head as I do, you would understand what’s going on here. If you don’t know anybody who rides their bike and has a big head, then this blog is not for you. Have a nice day. On the other hand, if you—or someone you know—has a very large head and has difficulty finding bike helmets that fit, I have really good news for you. I found the helmet!

As I was leaving the vendor area at the Sea Otter Classic bike festival this past weekend I stopped by a small dealer’s booth because they had some helmets stacked on a table. I’m always trying on different brands of helmets because I have never found one that fits my huge melon. Some of the brands I’ve tried sit on the top of my head like a beanie. Usually the sales rep looks at me in amazement because he or she has never seen the helmet look so small. 

But lo and behold, when I put the Kali Chakra Plus (M/L size) on my head, I finally found a helmet that “fits like a glove.” With the twist-tighten control, there’s plenty of room (in case my head decides to grow some more). They were selling them for only $40 at Laguna Seca, and the regular price is only $50. This is half what many helmets go for. I bought two (one white, one black) because I couldn’t believe I found something that fit after years of searching. 

How big is my head? I don’t know, but I know that size 8 hats are barely big enough. As you know, a hat or helmet that is tight when you try it on will cause headaches. Previously, the only helmet that I found that was reasonably comfortable was the Bell Triton. My head is not terribly wide, but has a long front-to-back dimension. The Bell Triton is wide so it’s a good choice if you have a big round head. But if you’re like me and have difficulty with the front-to-back fit, you have to try the Kali Chakra Plus on. The styling is XC/MTB, but I’ve used it on the road and it works just great. 

Here’s a link directly to the helmet on the manufacturer’s site: http://www.kaliprotectives.com/bike/chakra
They have a dealer locator on that page. They’re not in every shop, but hopefully you can find a dealer nearby to try one on. Good luck, and happy new year. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Your CRACK is Showing!

There are plenty of expressions familiar to the experienced cyclist. For example, you know to say “on your LEFT” when you’re forced to pass someone in close proximity on their left so they don’t walk or ride into your path. (You also know to expect the newbie or drunkard to get confused and drift to the left rather than move right or stay steady.)

Other handy expressions, which should always be shared loudly enough to be clearly heard over the wind and traffic noise, include:

  •  “Runner up!” when a runner is approaching your fast-moving peloton in the bike lane. Smart riders gently drift left a bit to help avoid a collision.
  • “Hole!” when a pothole or crack large enough to cause trouble is looming ahead. The riders who want to keep their collar bones intact make sure they have both hands on the bars when this is heard and prepare to “bunny-hop” the obstacle. The new rider who doesn’t care if all the riders behind him spend the night in the hospital will prepare to swerve wildly to avoid the obstacle, sweeping at least one rider’s front wheel with his back wheel in the process.
  • “Your crack is showing!” when the spandex on the back of a cyclist’s shorts has worn thin enough to reveal the rider’s butt crack while riding. The smart rider will quickly look away from the wardrobe malfunction to avoid nausea and vomiting in the peloton.
Once upon a time I thought that last expression might be inappropriate, and it may not be familiar to every cyclist. I became more comfortable using this expression after my wife subtly mentioned that my SDBC team shorts were wearing a bit thin. I looked in a full-length mirror at my derriere while crunched in a riding-like position, then fell into shock. “That’s my ASS!” came out of my mouth loudly and involuntarily. I felt like writing a formal apology to my fellow club riders and a formal complaint to Pactimo (our clothing provider). After one short year, one panel of these shorts essentially became transparent. I wish someone had mentioned this to me earlier, but I understand. I once noticed some guy in our club who apparently wanted to hang onto an old version of our club’s logo shorts even if they were barely hanging onto him. His hairy butt showed through so clearly that nobody could ride right behind him. It was a sickening sight but nobody was brave (or nice?) enough to kindly suggest he check out the transparency level on his shorts when he got home...or at the next bike shop we passed.

Now I’ve been on both ends of that equation. I’ve checked all my shorts and from now on if you hear someone yell “Crack!” get some clarification. Cracks in the road can be called out as “Hole!” and if your hole is nearly showing then “Your crack is showing!” is perfectly acceptable.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Year’s Registrations


I've never been interested in "New Year's Resolutions." All of humanity makes a mockery of them. Let's base our plans for improvement upon how long it takes our planet to swing around the nearest star. Then let's forget what they were by the time our little dirtball called earth makes it through 10% of the trip.

Nope, no resolutions for me. I'm into new year's registrations. Sometime in December, I register for all sorts of stuff. It doesn't matter if I'm sure I can go. It doesn't matter if I'll want to engage in those activities once the calendar throws them in my face. What does matter is that even in southern California, the weather in January isn't always nice for cycling. As a result, the weekly training miles go down. Even though I'm not much of a bike racer, I know that our club rides are going to speed up and I will want to get into better shape as spring approaches.

If I have a New Year's resolution, it's to remember to make my New Year's registrations before the year gets underway. Those registrations include:


  • Renew membership in San Diego Bicycle Club (SDBC)
  • Renew membership in USA Cycling
  • Register for Stage Coach Century (by Shadow Tours), a nice kick-start to the training mileage with almost no traffic to worry about
  • Register for the 3-day King of the Mountains camp by Planet Ultra in the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Make hotel reservations that shadow the SoCal portion of the Tour of California so I can ride and watch a great weekend of pro racing
  • Register for any other bike event that sounds appealing and is organized enough to have their registration process up and running by December
If you haven't already, give this approach a try. There's something about paying the nominal fee and putting the event in your calendar that stops you from turning off your alarm clock and going back to bed that morning.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cervélo Nightmare? Néver Again!


Are you thinking of buying a new bicycle? The good news is there are a lot of great choices out there (see list of manufacturers at the bottom of this post). The more you're willing to pay, the broader the selection becomes. Unless you're a top pro, you can get a bike that easily exceeds what is warranted by your riding or racing talents for only a few grand. For $7K, you can get an awesome bike (including custom wheels) that you simply don't deserve.

Given the broad selection available (and my willingness to buy bikes I don't deserve), my last few purchases have been partially based upon aesthetics…how sexy does the bike look? Apparently I made the right choice when I bought a black Colnago CLX a few years ago. Before the start of one of our SDBC club rides, a lady there said, "That bike IS sex!" Strange choice of words, but I didn't disagree with her.

Despite my emphasis on "looks," I also demand great performance out of a bike that costs thousands of dollars. So when I took my 2010 Cervélo P3 time trial bike out for a spin, I was immensely disappointed when I encountered problems with the seat post. I was also angered when my contact at the bike shop refused to help me with this issue. (Due to ongoing relationships between the bike shop and a local bike club, I'll leave the name of the shop anonymous here.) In a nutshell, here's what happened…

After riding the P3 for about 20 miles of TT training, the seatpost slipped down. In the process of slipping down, the poorly-designed seat post clamp shredded a bunch of carbon fiber right off the back of the post, making my brand new seat post look like crap. I can hear you saying, "Well, that's just a seatpost clamp torque issue, moron!" This was also my first assumption. If that was the case, then the bike shop just messed up by not using sufficient torque and/or carbon fiber friction compound. But when I brought the bike in, the guy who sold me the bike declared that the bike shop couldn't possibly be at fault and insinuated that I must have messed with the bolts on the seat post clamp (which I certainly had not) because nobody else had. He suggested that "someone" had over-tightened the clamp bolts after the bike left the shop because the sharp edge of the seat post clamp cut into the seat post when the seat post slipped down. This was a demonstration of "How to piss off your customer 101." After selling a very expensive product that fails, accuse the customer of being at fault.

Why would I dedicate time and effort to whining about this unpleasant experience? Because I want anyone out there who may have had a similar experience with a Cervélo seat post to know the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say. If this has happened to you, don't let the bike shop or Cervélo tell you it's your fault or that they've never heard of this problem before. Don't be a victim.

The bike shop staff eventually confessed that some of the seat posts fall out of spec. (This didn't come out until I pushed back again and again, threatening to work with Cervélo to get a complete refund if the bike shop wasn't going to help.) When the bike shop finally provided me with a replacement seat post, I confirmed this with a caliper right there in the shop, measuring the two seat posts side-by-side. The seat post that originally came with the bike was not as wide as the replacement was. Cervélo had allowed a crucial part to fall outside of a functional tolerance range but never issued a recall and never admitted there was any problem. Their poor clamp design exacerbated the problem by making it look like the clamp had been OVER-tightened when the post slipped. In reality, the clamp should have been over-tightened to try to compensate for the poorly formed seat post. After hearing two different versions of every story from the bike shop, I lost confidence in them and will never step foot in that shop again.

If the replacement seat post was going to slip and shred like the first one did, I knew there was no way this unreliable, untrustworthy bike shop was going to provide me with a third one. Since the seat post clamp bolts were starting to strip in the frame, I bit the bullet and applied epoxy adhesive to this post before inserting it for the very last time. Now I can't adjust the height of the seat, but I will finally not have to worry about the seat slipping down during training or competition. The bad news is that this permanently fixed seat height dramatically reduces the resale value of the bike. The good news is that I'm still comfortable with the permanently fixed seat height.

Yes, Cervélo makes beautiful bikes. But would I ever buy one again? Never, ever, ever. Getting stuck with inferior design by a given manufacturer just once is unfortunate. Going back to that same manufacturer again—especially after such poor customer service—would be stupid. There are so many great-looking bikes that are also well-designed, including legendary American brands used by the pros: Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Scott, Felt, Ellsworth, Jamis, Independent Fabrication, Serotta,and Kestrel.

Happy shopping!