Why do they hate us so much?

Cracked Helmet 1

Photo by Sam Kim. Creative Commons License.

Rage Against the Machine

In the Washington Post Magazine Concerned Citizen Athur Mason offered this thoughtful, well-reasoned response to an article about the growth of the DC Metro area’s biking infrastructure:

Leah Binkovitz’s article was one of the most biased I have ever read.  Let’s start with the picture on Page 20 captioned “Bikers wait for a green light.”  How long did you have to look for bikers waiting for a green light?  They never wait for the green light.  Anytime I talk to a D.C. driver, the subject always gets around to the lawless biking community.  Red lights, one-way signs, do-not-enter signs mean nothing to them.  They act like they are entitled to go anywhere on any street or sidewalk at any time.  Now wonder they get in accidents.  They have the politicians’ ear and laws passed making it an offense for cars to annoy them in any way.

October 13, 2013

Now I’ll be honest.  The cyclists not waiting at lights thing actually kinda bugs me too.  On an individual level biking for me is about trying to be a different kind of person; and with the remaining shreds of idealism that I have left, I’d also like to believe that biking is also part of the path to a different, hopefully better, kind of world.  You have to wait for 30 seconds at a stop light.  Oh.  My.  God!  The humanity!  Biking is supposed to be about not being the kind of jackass in a car that is concerned with getting from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible.  So if you are a cyclist, stop at that light.  Take a moment to get your head out of your ass and look around at your.  Don’t be a car driver.  So the letter writer and I have that in common.

Beyond that, however, we don’t have much in common because this person is clearly a tool.

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“I’m Not a Feminist, But. . .”

Marianne Vos

Marianne Vos, arguably one of the greatest cyclists, male or female of all time. Who would probably make more money flipping burgers.

Last night my partner and I went to see Half the Road: The Passion, Pitfalls, and Power of Women’s Professional Cycling, a documentary by Kathryn Bertine that describes the deliberate and systematic discrimination directed against women professional cyclists.  It is chocka with a who’s who of the women’s professional peloton (both past and present), the majority of them mightily pissed, and with good reason.  Despite the fact that women have been riding and racing bikes for as long as men, women cyclists are paid a fraction of what men are (and I mean a fraction; this is no debate about whether women make 70 or 80 per cent of a male wage; if women cyclists currently made even that much it would be a huge improvement), find it difficult to find sponsorship (and even harder to keep it), can’t usually get multi-year contracts, have fewer professional races (at any distance, often less than a third of the number of men’s races), and are actively prohibited from racing the same distances as men.

No, for those of you checking your calendars at this point,  we are not talking about something taking place in the 1800s.

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Cycling with Abandon

Mountains of Misery
Blacksburg, VA
May 25, 2014

The madness that was May finally came to an end with the Mountains of Misery Double Metric Century.  Mountains of Misery is an event with which I’ve always had an “interesting” relationship (interesting in the sense that you might describe the relationship with an abusive ex-spouse as “interesting”).  Both the century and 200k versions have a healthy dose of climbing (10K and 13K feet respectively).  There are certainly bike rides that are tougher on paper (the Garrett County Diabolical Double, for example) but there isn’t much out there that is as tough as the final 3 miles of MoM, a daunting climb of approximately 2000 feet that keeps getting steeper until it maxes out at nearly 15% for long stretches.  Thrown into any ride it would be a leg breaker.  At the end of a century or a 200k?  It is a heart breaker.

It is also, however, one of the loveliest rides I’ve ever done.  Tragically, the more beautiful of the two is the longer one; it features all the best descending and a stunning stretch of more than ten miles of wonderful slightly downhill tempo riding.  Our triathlon team also had a very large contingent going this year, approximately 30 riders.  Many of them were first-timers to the century, and most of the group I was riding with had done the century before but not the 200k.  So I was looking forward to it.

There was, however, one slight problem.

The previous 6 weeks.

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The Big Leap

Many Rivers and Fords 600K
May 17-18, 2014
39 hours and 20 minutes

I am writing this blog post in order to save humanity.  Or at least those of my friends that I’ll be riding with this weekend as we tackle the Mountains of Misery ride down in Blacksburg.  Because there is a real danger that I’ll be boring the arse off everyone with tales of my heroic (ha ha) randonneuring adventures.  Therefore, it is best to get it all out of my system now.

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Scattered, but not Shattered

Northern Exposure 400K
May 3-4 2014
21 hours and 36 minutes

My first 400k ride was definitely a sobering experience.  In fact, I have sworn never to drink again.

And if you believe that, then you’ll also believe that a bunch of disgruntled Australian cricket fans shot JFK. (Oops.  Now watch the interwebs go wild with that one).

It was certainly a tough physical test and left me in more pain than either of the two Ironmans I’ve done.  There, I could move around happily, albeit slowly, the next day.  The day after this ride all I could do was recline helplessly on my chaise while Mary peeled me grapes.  Or maybe I was still hallucinating by that point.  But while I definitely felt fatigued during that ride it wasn’t physically that bad during the ride itself.  Mentally, however, was an entirely different deal.  That is, after all, where much of the challenge of these longer rides lies.  So  learned a lot of valuable mental lessons, and also continued to tweak my equipment, control routines, and the like.

The end result, however, is that I don’t really have a coherent narrative version of this event.  Once again I rode with Damon and he managed to keep his mental composure in order to compose a first-rate account of our ride.  I on the other hand, am left with scattered impressions only.  So here they are, mostly verbal, some pictorial. Continue reading

And now ladies and gentlemen, for your delectation and edification, the first day of spring will be followed immediately by the first day of summer

Warrenton 300K
April 12 2014
15 hours, 2 minutes.

I eased my tired body back into the plush molded plastic and pulled out my phone. From behind the counter came the cheerful shouts of the dedicated Hardees chefs de cuisine preparing a fine gourmet repast. In seemingly no time at all our food arrived.  I took out my phone and quickly texted my partner that I had made it as far as 136 miles into the 190 mile ride and hadn’t died yet.

I looked up. In the time it had taken me to fire off the briefest of texts my riding companion had finished his entire hamburger.

That was lesson #37 in a day of lessons learned and re-learned.

Eat faster.

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What is the furthest you’ve ever biked?

Recently, I’ve been waxing. . .hold on, hold on, settle down, not that kind of waxing.  Sure, I shave my legs but I do it the old fashioned manly way!  No, I’ve been waxing nostalgic for my first real season of triathlon training, the lead-up to IM MOO.

One of the things that I noticed in so many of the people I was training with, and that I’ve seen in so many of my team-mates since as they have trained for their first Ironman (TM), is the palpable sense of discovery and achievement created by distance.  A sizable percentage of people undertaking their first Ironman (TM) have not previously biked the kinds of distances that you need to bike during training.  The rides themselves may be brutal or slightly less brutal, hard or not quite so hard, but at the end of every ride, people are standing around in the parking lot and it is slowly dawning on them: I just rode the furthest I’ve ever ridden in my life.  And for a while, the next week brings a new “furthest,” and the week after that yet another milestone.

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