Friday, November 20, 2009

Jeff Deminski wins November ICDBM Award!

Congratulations to our new International Cycling Douche Bag of the Month (ICDBM) winner, Jeff Deminski! Jeff is a "radio personality" in Detroit who is out to rally his listeners–the helpless drivers in Michigan–to deal with a "crazy cult of self-entitled bicyclists" from the seats of their cars. I read about Jeff on the League of American Cyclists web site ( "Trash Talk" feature, where they mentioned the Deminski and Doyle radio show. On August 7, 2009, these two losers apparently giggled and gabbed on their radio show about their impatience with cyclists. Ahh…my favorite thing: Drivers who can't handle the pain of backing off the accelerator because of a cyclist in the road.
An example quote from the show: "I doubt very much that any cyclist would have the gumption to call us, but how many of them have seen a bicyclist and would just LOVE to lob something at their heads?" Wow, what a tough guy. He sure showed those cowardly cyclists with that dare. I did have the "gumption" to call this loser, but more on that in a moment.
I did a brief Internet search on this cyclist-basher who likes to put stupid, dangerous thoughts into the minds of others. I found his blog where he again shares his small-minded perspective on cyclists. In case he gets the gumption to remove his "Bikers Suck" blog post, I'll share a couple gems on his cycling perspective with you…
  • "moronic zealots with their save the world I'm better and greener than you bullshit" – Gosh, I sure hope Jeff Deminski and his sidekick have matching Hummers that help declare their immutable manhood and their disdain for anything green.
  • "bike-pants-wearing-flamers" – Sure, Jeff. All cyclists are not only green, but they're gay. (I later found out in my call with Jeff that he is actually a pathetic little girl inside a small man's body.)
  • "This whole bicyclist mantra of 'bicycles have the same rights to the roads as cars do' wears a little thin…" Yeah, so does this radio personality mantra of "DJ's have the right to say unbelievably stupid stuff without incurring physical harm." Guess what, genius: It's the law. Cyclists have the same rights to the road. Unfortunately, they can't legally pop a cap in your forehead no matter how stupid or dangerous you are.
  • "I really felt like turning back and doing a Grand Theft Auto on her relief map ass. What a bitch." Again…what a tough guy. Your listeners would have been so proud of you if you had, you brave little doughboy.
After hearing about his perspective and reading his blog, I just had to let him know what a big fan of his I am. He was out of his office when I called, so I left him a voicemail saying "You're a douchebag." I didn't leave my name and number. I mistakenly thought he would not want to speak with me. Fortunately, I don't block my caller ID. Jeff wanted so badly to let me know what a nice guy he is, so he called me this morning. Here's how the conversation went (I have to go by memory; Jeff probably recorded the whole thing, being in the radio biz)…
  • Dan: "Hello?"
  • Jeff: "Hi, is Dan Go-EH-suh there?" (The mispronunciation of my name helps confirm that it's nobody who knows me. He also mispronounced La Jolla, so he might not pronounce his own friends names correctly.)
  • Dan: "Can you please take this number off your list?" (I didn't realize that the caller ID "Greater Media 248-591-6800" was from the company that owns Jeff's radio station in Detroit.)
  • Jeff: "I'm calling about your message yesterday."
  • Dan [ecstatically]: "Oh my god!!!! Are you the douchebag from the radio station in Michigan?"
  • Jeff: "What's this about?"
  • Dan: "I just wanted to tell you how I feel about you promoting thoughts about 'lobbing' things at cyclists."
  • Jeff: "Oh is that what this is about? That was such a long time ago."
Wrong response. Gosh, yeah, Jeff. It was almost five months ago, so it's all OK now. He said he had some cyclist organization on the show later. He went on and on, completely clueless. My wife and I were laughing about the conversation later. She was listening to the whole thing. We agreed that Jeff was like a praise-deprived child, trying so hard to convince me what a swell guy he is. I did less talking, listening carefully but sticking to my core message to make sure he understood what a loser he is.
Jeff tried to explain that I had to listen to the "whole episode" of the podcast to get some nuance that he couldn't begin to explain on the phone. (Oh, really? Should I not skip the commercials, too?) I told him I didn't give a big stinking pooh about his stupid radio show. Listen to it for yourself... Does this make it sound any better? My problem is with him, his attitude, and his cyclist-bashing blog, which is still very much alive as of this writing. Even after his "follow-up show" with the biking organization, he's clueless about cycling, he's contributing to the delinquency of selfish, cyclist-bashing drivers, and he's full of BS.
  • Dan: "Jeff, when was the last time you rode a bike?"
  • Jeff: "About a year ago. I was on vacation…" (Oh no, I have to cut him off here or he's going to start telling me about the brand and color of the skirt and blouse he was wearing on his rented vacation bike!)
  • Dan: "Do you have ANY idea why cyclists don't like riding close to parked cars?"
  • Jeff: {silence}
  • Dan: "Well, Jeff, the cyclists don't like it when absent-minded drivers open parked car doors right in front of us while we're trying to ride fast enough to keep impatient drivers like you from beeping at us. Do you know what it feels like to hit the edge of a door going 20 miles an hour?"
  • Jeff: "Yes."
  • Dan: "Excuse me??? How the @%&* do you know that?! You are so full of @#$" (Can you tell I'm not fond of morons who are also BS-ers?)
  • Jeff: {silence}
He said he thought his blog entry was "long gone." Hmm… How does that happen without you–the blogger–deleting it? If anything good comes out of the fun conversation I had with him, it will be his removal of that hateful blog entry. I'm all for freedom of speech, but not when it adds to the already high level of endangerment to me and other cyclists out on the road. I'm all for courteous cycling and I don't like cyclists who annoy drivers unnecessarily. But cyclist-bashers are even more dangerous than the more innocent (but equally stupid) texting/eating/phoning/makeup-applying/radio-channel-changing drivers who can't be bothered with anything smaller than an SUV on the road in front of them. If he takes that blog post down and doesn't choose some other retaliatory path, I'll remove this post so people can think of him as the boy scout he longs to be.
My bottom line is this, Mr. Dummerinski: I despise bad cyclist behavior even more than you do because it makes more drivers "hate" cyclists, which makes my bike ride even more dangerous than it already is. I have more to lose than you do from their bad behavior. But I don't go on the radio or Internet talking and laughing about lobbing stuff at their heads. You did, and that's how you have won the ICDBM award and made it to the top of the Bike League's "Trash Talk" list.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cycling through Bear Territory

Prevailing "bear encounter" wisdom says you should wave your arms up high and make loud noises to scare the bear away. If the bear attacks, you should "play dead." So, do you think you can follow this simple advice? You won't know for sure until the moment arrives. My experience tells me we sometimes forget the "advice" when adrenaline takes over…especially when you're shaken from a deep sleep and forced to react before you have time to think.

We were on a coast-to-coast ride in 1998. This was not a good year to ride much of anywhere because "El Niño" was dumping rain, snow and tornadoes all over the country. When we got to Cook City Montana, it was unusually cold, but the roads were clear. The "bear country" warning signs didn't go unnoticed, but we were tired, cold and hungry. We needed to cook dinner, set up our tents, and get some sleep before another long ride the next day. Dinner was great, but I wasn't very excited about the choice of dessert. It was something made with peanut butter and honey. I love all kinds of desserts, but this didn't seem to be the best place to be eating such an aromatic treat made out of two things bears really love.

I've known for quite some time that worrying is a useless activity. I enjoyed my bear-lure dessert and got ready for bed. All I could do was clean all the sweet stuff off my face and hands, keep my pepper spray and sheath knife next to my sleeping bag, and hope for the best. Since two young riders in our group were finally consummating their thousand-mile flirt in a tent nearby, I figured their whispers and groans might attract the bear first anyway. I was optimistic that I'd wake up alive and well-rested the next morning. A long day of riding helped me finally pass out.

It wasn't quite morning when I was awakened by a broad, solid pressure against my face, through the side of my tent. Holy sh!t. It was still pitch black out. I was very quickly going from a deep sleep to a complete panic. Getting eaten alive has to be one of my LEAST favorite ways to die. Sure, it might be over quickly and might be better than some of the long, drawn out alternatives. But the mere thought of feeling my own body getting ripped and consumed by another animal gets me very worked up. I did not play dead. I didn't grope in the dark for my knife or pepper spray. I immediately screamed and waved my arms wildly. I was not going down without a fight, even if my "fight" would amount to nothing more than appetizing entertainment for this bear.

It probably wasn't more than a second before I was sitting upright with the heart rate of a sprinter crossing the finish line. The bear had apparently backed off, because I was still alive and intact. I grabbed my flashlight, knife and pepper spray. I turned on my flashlight. (It might not have been the smartest thing to do, but remember I already broke the "play dead" rule.) A good portion of my cheap tent had collapsed under pressure from all four sides. This was no ordinary bear. As I came to my senses, I unzipped the tent fly slightly to confirm what I suspected from the shape of my tent: We were under several inches of snow. That pressure on my face was my cheap tent collapsing under the weight of the snow. (An imaginary "polar" bear of sorts, you might say.) I had just survived my first bear-less bear encounter.

The roads were all covered in snow, so we didn't get to ride that day. We did have the first and last snowball fight of our summer ride that morning. My cheap tent gave me one of the scariest [albeit short] and most memorable experiences of my life. Just like ghost stories, bear stories don't necessarily require a real bear.

Footnote: This bear "encounter" took place quite a few years ago, but I thought I'd finally write it down. It's a quiet morning after Halloween. The house is quiet, I'm up, I can't ride (collar bone still healing), and won't finish putting my office back together (after re-arranging it to accommodate some new furniture) till after I finish this delicious cup of coffee. I've told this story to a few friends, but now–after my latest crash–I figure I should write it down while I still have the brain cells to remember it.