Friday, January 27, 2017


Philly.  GONE.

Less than a year after the Philadelphia Cycling Classic made it into the UCI Women's World Tour, when badass, hard working American Megan Guarnier won a wild finish in front of the hometown crowd up the Manayunk wall, when it seemed like - though grossly underpaid and lacking equality - women's cycling was finally getting to take a step forward, boom.  The thing blows up.  Two steps back.  Not enough money to pay for it.


This is barely news.  This is a relatively simple math equation about the value of corporate sponsorship - and the obvious risks of sponsoring a dirty sport - playing itself out in a most obvious and basic way.  This is basic supply and demand when there is no buyer because the product looks like/might actually be on PCP:

The hard truth here is that the blame for that lack of money rests with a few pro men who doped, continue to dope, and somehow are still in the headlines - and of course the people who pay for them to continue to race.  I'm looking at you too, Trek Bikes.  The list of ex-dopers that you gladly employ/employed, despite the dirty truth about where they got their talent - continues to grow: Contador.  Hesjedal.  The Schlecks.  You are building a team brand that is so toxic, the races that you you send those bums to win can't even find a sponsor to pay for the piss-testing that they so obviously need more of.  So they die.  See also: USA Pro Challenge, Tour de San Luis, Tour Of Qatar, etc.

There's a long list of villains in our sport that we continue to tolerate, and a long list of non-funded, defunct races and teams to show for it.

And the women's races die too.  Guilt by association.  Like most of the ways that women's professional cycling has been trampled by men's professional cycling, it's not fair, of course, but it's true.  The glass ceiling only exists in one direction.  

Onward?  Is there anywhere to actually go?  For example, if I were a corporate sponsor - which I am not, you may be surprised to learn - but if I were, would it be possible for me to fund a women's only race/cycling association of some kind that is in no way tied to the dirty, non-viable, financially and morally bankrupt men's version?  Or is it only a matter of time before there aren't any races left?

What good will equality be for women racers if their male counterparts have destroyed the sport before they can even achieve it?  See also, The United States of America.

Up, up...up?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I've been watching a lot of hoops while riding the trainer lately.  I just can't seem to watch UVA play without jumping off the couch to try to get a rebound.  What can I say, they're my team.

Anyway, I've been trying to figure out who Jack Salt reminds me of.  7'0, 260lbs.  That Jack Salt.  
Then, while riding the trainer of course, it hit me:

Don't see it?  Try this one.  

Look, I'm not saying they're the same guy or anything.  But you never see them in the same place at the same time, do you?  

OK, maybe I am saying that.  Jack Salt could actually be Ben King on stilts, plus 130 lbs or so.  
I'm not crazy.  You're crazy.  

Up, up, up.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Not Going Postal

Let's get Postal:

A bunch of the people I know and ride bikes with have sent me that link in the last week or so.  As you can read (if you can read) Lance and a small assembly of fellow former dopers, now well past their primes, will be toeing the line at The Old Pueblo 24 hour race next month.  I'm not sure what it says about me, or you, that so many of you sent me that link.  But you did.

My first reaction was, like most people, "They still have 24 hour races?"  Talk about a dying corner of our sport.  I honestly didn't suspect there were any of those still going on that were nearly big enough to stroke the collective, enormous ego of Lance, Hincapie, etc.  That's a lot of stroking for one race.  But come to find out The 24OP is alive and well.

My second thought was, again like most people, "Who the fuck is Dylan Casey?"  Indeed, on a short list of former dopers that reads a little like a who's who of has-been old guys who cheated to win around the turn of the century, Dylan Casey stands out in that he doesn't.   Given the company he is keeping, I can only assume he's an aging, mostly-reformed ex-doper pal of Lance's.  I gave his Wikipedia entry a quick glance, and though there's no specific mention of doping there, I think most people would infer by the timing of his career and the company he is keeping that he was juiced like any good teammate was around that time.  Also, he appears to have been some kind of exec at Yahoo, which is the free email equivalent of v-brakes, so you know he's...he's...

At this point I stopped.  I just stopped.  Why on earth am I reading and thinking about this?  I'm literally getting worked up and grasping at insults to sling at a guy I know nothing about.

I think people sent me this link because they know i get worked up about this sort of thing, and they were sort of trying to decide if they should too.  If Hesjedal was on the team, fine, I'd flip out, because I'm weird about that.  But he's not.  It's easy to jump to all the normal angry conclusions - that Lance should not be allowed to race bikes, even at unsanctioned events.  That they'll steal part of the magic of the race.  That they don't deserve to pin on a number at all.  That the promoters should ban them from participating.  Etc. etc.  This is what the news does to you now.

Most of these are the kind of thoughts that I have on days when I don't ride my bike.
So I did the right thing, which is ride, and I came back, and honestly, suddenly, I didn't care.

And therein lies the secret recipe, and the reason why Lance and his gang should be allowed to race, and things will be just fine in The Old P next month - people who are riding their bikes don't care.  Lance won't care.  Vandevelde won't care.  The guys in the campsite next to theirs won't care.   The guys that beat them won't care.  The guys that get beaten won't feel like victims.  And you and I here at home reading about this and wondering if we should be bothered by it - we'll ride here, and we won't care either.  That's what happens when you stop reading the news, stop looking for something to be pissed off about, and just ride:

The little shit that does not matter won't.

There's an obvious link here, and a conclusion to be drawn about the nature of how we react to both VeloNews and regular news and the near constant supply of digital headaches to be read and loathe.  You'll have to arrive at your own conclusions, but I'll stand by this one:

I think it's time we leave Lance alone.  For our own sake, not for his.

We've got better things to be worried about. 

Up, up, up.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Rock Game

My dog, Bender, who will be 10 years-old this year, has been training me for his whole life how to play The Rock Game.  On the surface, The Rock Game looks like a game of fetch, only there's a labrador-maw-sized rock to be tossed around instead of a ball.  But The Rock Game is not what you think.

So far, in my 10 years of training, I've determined that the flow of the rock game is basically this:

Step 1)  Trailwork, ideally benching trail.  I'm working my ass off with a rogue hoe, and Bender vanishes only to...
Step 2) Bender arrives back with a rock.  Any kind of rock will do, quartz, granite, sandstone, whatever - so long as he can barely manage to pick it up.  There's a fine balance here between a rock that is big enough to play the game and one that is too big for him to lug up the hill from the creek to where I'm working.
Step 3)  This is where it gets tricky.  For years I assumed the object of the game was "fetch" where I'd pick it up, throw it, and he'd chase it down and return it.  But he's given me enough hard looks now after watching me chuck it into the woods again, for me to have learned that's not it.  And he's shown me...many times, and I've finally realized that the goal of the rock game is to kick it around, toss it some (but not too far), stress out about the fact that he's about to lose it, and to eventually lose it in the berm I'm building.  Where fetch is a game with a treasured object - a ball, a stick, a toy - where you always manage to retrieve said object, the rock game is just that, a rock, and the eventual, unavoidable conclusion of the game is to lose it.

This is hard for me to understand.

On Monday, I had to sell my Subaru, the history of which I've written about several times in these here pages.    In a physical sense, the Subaru was a complete piece of shit.  It leaked oil.  Needed new tires.  Didn't run very well.  Sometimes didn't run at all.  It was well past time for it to go, and I knew that, and when I saw that the KBB value for the car, even if it were in good condition (which it was not) was $650, I realized it was now or never.  This is how people end up with piece of shit cars parked in their yard that won't start.   But in her prime, she was a hell of a car - a road-tripping, bike-hauling, cross-country party on wheels.  She'd seen both the pacific and the atlantic, had parked at trailheads from Arizona to New Hampshire and back again.  That car was the last real physical thing I had left from my seven years in Colorado as a 20-something bike bum, where the sum of my responsibility on any given day was to simply go to work and ride my bike.  To me, she was a symbol of a life I used to have, and despite her physical state of disrepair (and my own, for that matter) that car was like a part of me.

Full disclosure: I cried like a fucking baby.  I got $1,000 for it, which is murder if you ask me, maybe for both of us.  As a bizarre frame of reference about the nature of monetary value, it would have taken greater than FOUR of such Subarus, which could still travel at 85 miles/hour if you needed it to, to equal ONE of my race bikes.  Chew on that rock, whydon'tcha.

There are so many things in your life, as you start to push 40 years, that are on their way out.  Those pets you got right after college, the ones that taught you that you could actually love something more than yourself.  The car you brought your kids home in.  The existence of a thing we used to call "front derailleur."  Democracy.  If the things you love are not already gone, most of them have at least packed a bag, gotten their affairs in order.

Bender naps in the yard, the sunshine feels pretty good on his old bones, I can tell, but otherwise he seems unaware of the passage of time.  Around lunchtime, he'll sit right outside of my window here where he can keep an eye on me to see if I'm going to take a break, pick up a hoe, and head for the trail to try to beat whatever this is out of me.  We play The Rock Game pretty much every time now,  his best and only way to help me understand, but still I don't get it.  We keep losing the rocks.  They're in the trails around here.  The loss of each one is enormously stressful for him, as evidenced by the grey hairs along his chin and around his eyes.  He has to nap for 3 hours when we get back.  And still, he keeps wrestling them out of the creek, dumping them in the dirt, and looking up at me with his tail wagging like a puppy, "see.  See!  SEE!"

I still don't really see, but he hasn't stopped trying and so neither have I, as evidenced by all of these trails around here with stray rocks packed into the berms at weird angles that don't make any sense.  Not everything makes sense.

My hope is that their strength will help them hold together, that what doesn't trip us or kill us now will one day help to hold us up, up, up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

At least I'll have warm feet

First and foremost, Mike Doughty will be at the Southern, tomorrow, Jan 12th.
With him this time through town, Wheatus, of "teenage dirtbag" fame.

I don't get too hyped up for concerts in this day and age, but given our current political conundrum and the very fragile state of the world, this one would hit the spot, whatever that spot is.
Also, it's a full moon.
Also, also, it'll be 66 degrees tomorrow.
And with King Trump on the doorstep of the White House, along with his legion of goons, and presumably half the Kremlin, I say tomorrow night is a good night to do something awesome, whatever that may be, wherever you can find it, while you still can.  I'll be night riding for 3+ hours in an attempt to quell the inner demons and so forth, but you do you.

But really, REALLY do you.  It's important right now.  There's a moderately good chance we'll be at war with Russia, China, North Korea, Ourselves, ISIS,  Iran, Mexico, or perhaps even all of those at the same time within the next year or so, so you might as well fit in the good stuff that you really want to do now, while you still can.

Nuclear Winter, right around the corner?  No one knows. (Except the Russians.  They know.)  But I picked up some of those $300 Bontrager winter boots, because at this point, why the hell not?  If it all goes black, at least my feet will be warm.

Supplement those boots with my new, legit hot fudge sundae pop tart branded socks, and 8+ hours at 800 lumens or greater, and I feel better about things already.

Into the darkness, good friends and otherwise.

As a fallback, there's always one way to get warm, and it's up, up, up.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I've seen the Kansas of your sweet little myth.

Not that Kansas is particularly easy either.  And certainly they have more rules.  But I like to think that what we do up here is at least adequate in terms of the amount of pain it causes.  And right on schedule, nigh 5 weeks out from Il Pantani 2017, it is time for me to address all of the questions that I've been getting, have gotten for years, and will hopefully continue to get until I either stop sending people on The Pantani Route, or die.

Most of these questions I've addressed in years past.  In places like here, here, here, here, and even way back over here once upon a time.  It always reminds me that we've been doing this for quite a while.

The first question, every year, is basically this: How Do I Sign Up?
Because people are used to doing that.  Bikereg,, etc - people pay to play these days, and that's worthy enough.  But that's not how we do it here at Pantani HQ, mostly because Pantani HQ does not exist, nor does any kind of actual event that is any more significant than just a big group ride, because, for the record, that's all we're doing.  Just a huge pile of jerks getting coming together for a ride.  No reg.  No waiver.  No competition. No course marking.  No support.  No team car.  No aid stations.  No prizes.  Nothing.
But with that said, there are, in an organic way, some of those things too.  Just not officially.
So make sense of that if you must, but either way no one will be taking your money.  10 AM, the ride starts from The Paranormal Field, and it'll work itself out.

The other main question I get - after people wrap their minds around revolutionary concept that no one is going to be taking their money at the start line in exchange for pain - is basically this: What Do I Do?
And that question comes in various forms from, "what bike do I ride?" to "how do I follow the route?" to "what happens if a bear eats me?"
Those answers are all out there.  You just have to find them in places like herehereherehere, and even way back over here once upon a time.  So give those a read next time you're taking a huge dump and can't stand to read even one more CNN World article about whatever global disaster we're all about to experience, and then report back here if you still don't get it, because if you don't, I can send you this photo of Todd humping the rooster at the bottom of Brokenback circa 2008 or so.

Because it explains so much.

Anyway, relax.  If it helps your pucker factor any, know that I'm in phenomenally worse shape than you are right now, and I still think I can finish.  So really, we can do this.

Everybody sing along like big jerks.
Up, up, up.