For a very long time I have been sitting on feelings and emotions… considering writing on past experiences that have left me disappointed, hurt and hell, emotionally devastated.
This blog post from Mike Vallely re-kindled the flame. It is a good read. Though if you know nothing of skateboarding, it may not have relevance.
I’ve been disappointed too many times by too many people and am so bored with people using/choosing their “brand” over their friendships or using the classic: “it is not personal, it is just business” line to make it acceptable to behave like a shit-bag. I am over it. Way over it.
I’m far enough removed from most of these folks now that it might feel good to get it all out; like Vallely dishes on Powell in his post.
Mike Vallely was a hero of sorts when I was a kid growing up skateboarding, it is crazy to read his experiences from 20 something years ago in such a condensed and raw, personal way.
It bums me out to see people with genuinely positive intentions get manipulated and burned. That is something that hits home. Having gone into so many friendships, partnerships and business relationships with positive (and likely naive) goals and communication only to come out of them completely manipulated.
I’ve made it a point in my life to never, ever put business above my friendships. You have to make some tough calls as a small business owner but, I believe you can do good, honest business without fucking people over.
There is something in the way I am wired that does not want to acquiesce to the bullshit in the world. I don’t believe you have to play the game like all of the other motherfuckers play the game. So I’m going to give it to you straight and expect to get the same respect back. No lies, no manipulation.
It often baffles me that people can’t or don’t see through the fake, slimy veneer some people exist in. Yet the longer I live, the more I see the lying bastards growing bigger and bigger. It is a bro-fest out there and well… I am just not interested in being a bro. I want more out of life, more out of people. I don’t do the superficial, I want it raw and real.
(the attack Vos puts down at :40 epitomizes my feeling on attacking. Don’t attack when it is easy, attack when it hurts the most. SO AWESOME!)
Y’know, I probably would have won a few more bike races in my life if I was a bigger asshole on the bike. Yet as many fucking disappointments (and there have been so many) as I have suffered on the bike, deep in the core of my being, I would not be able to live with myself if I played the game dirty.
I truly believe in honesty, hard work, dedication, lots of passion and dreaming big. Bigger than I probably should.
It is how I approach cycling, my business, my lovers and my friends.
Wow. For the first blog post in months, I did not expect this… not writing to toot my own horn here, Vallely’s post elicited an emotional response and I reacted.
Now watch this video of some BMX kid getting all Zef and taking it to the next level. His landings are so clean it makes me want to cry.
I’ll preface this by saying, I had decided earlier this morning not to write anything about getting crashed out. There are plenty of other cx races to do. And plenty of other opportunities to bump elbows and have Reeb put me into the course tape.
An hour ago, I got an email from a spectator that watched it all go down yesterday. So, I’ll just reprint his email un-edited and post a link to the Cyclocross Magazine article that has all the post-race reactions.
John’s email below describes what happened from an unbiased (not a friend of mine and not my words here) point of view:
“Here’s what I saw yesterday. You can quote me as a 20 year ‘cross racing
I watched the Aaron/Molly crash from about 40 feet away.
Molly was 100% right in filing a protest. Aaron was completely at fault and
not only put Molly in danger but also the lapped woman he passed 2 seconds
before. It was obvious to me he was trying to get the woman between himself
and Shannon/Donald/Sean before the right hand corner before pit 2 so that he
could start the long straight without them on his wheel. Molly was clearly
in the lead and it was like a motocross pass where the inside guy uses the
outside one for traction. About 5 seconds after the spot of the crash,
there was the beginning of a long straight where they would have got back
together. With a little bit of patience, everyone would have remained
upright and continued to have fun racing.
Before the crash, there were 5 guys together. After the crash, Aaron was
solo to the finish because the others got gapped with Molly on the ground.
Aaron should have sat up, told the others to ride easy until Molly caught
back up. There were a couple laps to go and 6th was a long ways back.
Again, not my words. I definitely do not think that anyone should have sat up and waited for me post-crash. It just would have been pretty easy not to create a dangerous situation in the first place. Bike races should not be decided by who can run into you the hardest. (though they often are)
I am into full-on aggressive racing but, particularly at these local races with lots of lapped riders, safe and conscious racing. There are hundreds of other racers on the course at the same time as the elite riders. And not all of them are going to feel safe or comfortable getting passed at speed. I pride myself on being as courteous as possible to the lapped traffic while passing and then getting back on with my own race without being a danger or menace to the other riders.
That said, I don’t see much of a difference between something being unintentional and riding with complete disregard for another rider’s safety.
I’ve never protested any race result before, even with punches thrown at me and riders trying to push me off my bike during a race. While I still disagree with it, I absolutely respect the decision (a warning for dangerous riding) that Chief Referee Terri Camp and the OBRA officials came to after hearing my protest.
I’m not angry anymore… I took it all out on the single speeders.
A month into it already and the Oregon cyclocross season steps up another notch this weekend with a first year race in Canby on Saturday and the first Cross Crusade race at Alpenrose Velodrome on Sunday.
Alpenrose is guaranteed to be a complete cluster fuck. And you know what? It just doesn’t matter.
For me the Cross Crusade has always been a goal and a highlight to my season. It is serious racing, hard racing and, fun racing. Alpenrose continues to set world records for attendance. Which means there are close to 2000 riders battling for the win out there. Close to and, over 100 riders in most categories. You have a mistake, a flat or a mishap and, pretty much race over. The course has also traditionally been very twisty and single tracky… moving up through a 100 riders on that course will take a bit more time than an hour. I’m just hoping to ride a clean race and not embarrass myself too much.
Anyways, with my form right now, I am just hoping to stay out of peoples way. Don Reeb is on fire, winning a bunch of early season races, Ryan Trebon is racing, Babcock will be there is he can get out of work, Tuckerman will be aggressive if he maintains the early season form he has. Mcgrath should be here, my team mate Brett Luelling will be solid and you can never discount Tonkin, Shannon, Damian Schmitt and a dozen other fast Oregon riders.
If I finish the race on the lead lap, I will declare that a success.
“…because all the really good looking girls, would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they got all the money!”
It just doesn’t matter if we win or we lose.
Oh, you should come to the Cross Kick-Off party tonight at Portland Bicycle Studio.
There is soooo much pressure and excitement built up for the 1st Cross Crusade and I can’t wait until it is all said and done!
Then I can exhale!
I flew out to Wisconsin last week to race the USGP of Cyclocross opening weekend. And I got trounced. A few more weeks of racing into shape I think. A few more weeks of utter hurt. Been a long time since I’ve ridden so poorly in the mud. sad face.
Ryan was dominant on Saturday and solid on Sunday behind the Belgian Wellens and a late charging Jonathan Page. I appreciated his comment (about 1:45 in) about “…working hard to keep yourself relevant”.
Bary Wicks comments on the early season head games we play with ourselves: “…people get so amped for the start of cyclocross season… its hard to come into it not at the top of your game…”
Obviously, I was not really stoked about my race Sunday. What are typically my favorite conditions turned into a complete suck fest on the bike for me. No power, no speed and no technique. It was like I had never ridden in mud before!
I am struggling a little bit with not racing at a high level right now. Trying not to let it get to me. I know that my fitness will turn around in a few more weeks but, damn it is hard to watch the racing ride away from me and not even be able to put in a good chase.
What the hell have I been up to:
(wrote earlier last week)
Just got done with a solid week/long weekend of racing. Read: hanging on for dear life! I’m getting beat up out there! Hard not to let it get to you that you are riding with zero form, rough technique and mediocre leg speed.
This is what racing into shape feels like apparently.
I worked really, really hard to salvage a 2nd place last Sunday in Hood River. I finished behind my team mate Brett who was dominant. Must ruminate on how awesome my team is racing right now soon too.
…CrossVegas, went well enough. Had one speed, pedaled steady and did not lose positions throughout the race. That event is a bit of a cluster-F. You race into the top-20, that is cool, you just finish on the same lap? Well, that is pretty cool too.
Moving forward, I’m sitting in Waunakee, Wisconsin awaiting my ride to pick me up and take me out to day 2 of the USGP of Cyclocross in Sun Prairie. Yesterday went ok. Definitely not feeling speedy but again managed not to get lapped and raced well enough. No crashy crashes or anything. It was wet but drying up as the race went on. F A S T and bumpy.
There is a lot to write about the race, the course, the actual racing and hanging out with friends. Lots of them! So many friendly faces out here in Wisconsin. The Curtes brothers, the My Wife inc. crew, the promoters, and all of the mid-west area teams and posses. The heckling on the run/ride up was world-class. Bart Wellens and all the Euros are here in force.
Plenty of fast guys that don’t know how to drive their bicycles yesterday. I’m all for bumping elbows but, geez. Knocking people over does not make you fast. Just makes you annoying.
Today looks to be a complete mudder.
The real question is: do I wear my long sleeve white skinsuit or, my long sleeve white skinsuit?
You may get to see this at Interbike! And, if you are not going to Interbike check it out, my rep brought by a bunch of Lazer Vision eyewear. It is good looking gear. Some single lens styles and a few exchangeable lens styles. And, thankfully my personal favorite: BALLER WHITE WITH CLEAR LENSES. Cause I always wear glasses when I race CX.
I just do.
And, hell yes they fit into your Lazer helmet! PRO style!
These just landed. They are beautiful. I’ll write more once I get them installed onto my cyclocross bike.
Custom made, custom machined and designed. So much attention to detail.
To fit Campagnolo CT, Campagnolo ST, 110 mm, and 130 mm Bolt Cirlces!
Campagnolo CT – 36/42, 36/44, 38/44, 38/ 46
Campagnolo ST – 39/44, 39/46
110 mm BCD – 36/42, 36/44, 38/44, 38/ 46
130 mm BCD – 38/44, 38/46
CNC machined in Utah from 7075-T6 Aluminum
Hard anodized and PTFE coated for ultra-long wear
Designed as close to OEM specifications for incredible ease of assembly
Outers are pinned and ramped for smooth shifting under load
Shift areas on outer are spread out for more pick-up points
Inners are available with standard holes or threading for use with custom bolt kit
Shoot me an email if you are interested in ordering up a set! Availability will be limited and, these were well worth the wait!
Last week I wrapped up my final big block of training miles for cx season. And this week was a “rest” week. Putting that in quotes cause I did very little resting. c’est la vie, ma vida loca, etc, etc.
There was so much amazing that happened this week, and I am just now catching a breather and able to sit down and write a little bit out.
Some more links to photos from the first GPMC race of the year:
Whoa. Looks like Flickr just automatically puts them up on the site. Weird. I had just listed text-links for you to click on… well, that is rad.
Anyways, a million things to do: write up a press release, change the sponsors on my website, do some crunches.
CX Vegas is next Wednesday and it is going to hurt, like really really really hurt. I’ve got no speed in these legs yet.
Make sure to plan on coming out to dinner after the race with me! 11pm next Wednesday in Vegas! More details TBA!
140 characters is not enough to respond to an offensive exchange I got roped into on Twitter. Normally, I ignore the peanut gallery on Twitter and other internet forums, etc. The internet allows people to spout off like idiots. I don’t care to get roped into arguments with “with white dudes on the internet“.
My pal Adam (pro cyclist, coach) re-tweeted this video (from Boston his home), some one else had originally posted to Twitter with the comment: “critical mass: like a guy beating his wife to get her respect. they’re not cyclists; they’re morons.”
While offensive, I completely agree with the sentiment. Taking over a busy intersection and riding in a way that no cyclist would ever do regularly without being caught up in the mob mentality + breaking very basic rules of the road? What the fuck is the point of creating a traffic jam with bicycles?! To demonstrate that bicycles, just like cars, can create a traffic jam? That bicycles can frustrate and piss people off just like cars can?
There is a point to Critical Mass. I’m not claiming to be in a position to define it. When I regularly participated in Critical Mass in the late 90′s in San Francisco, it was an urgent, organic, action. 15 years ago, there was shitty bicycle infrastructure, minimal bike lanes and cyclists did not have a voice. We broke laws, ran lights, blocked intersections. Got our bikes run over, got in fights with drivers, got beat up by the police. I was part of a crew of riders that led Critical Mass up and onto the Bay Bridge (which ended up with a bunch of people getting arrested and pummeled by the cops). I participated in Critical Mass for years in the Bay Area, NYC, Los Angeles and finally in Portland, Oregon.
Critical Mass means a lot of things to a lot of different people. I don’t agree with all of them.
Now, someone on Twitter wants to press the issue, there are some exchanges between them, Adam and I. With Adam and I saying basically the same thing.
That we do not condone shitty, dangerous, illegal and inconsiderate behavior on the roads from cyclists and drivers alike. Both are bad, dangerous and not productive. Critical Mass, club rides, unsanctioned races, group rides, whatever. If you are breaking laws and riding dangerously, that sucks. It gives all cyclists a bad reputation and does nothing to help improve the perception of bicycles. Riding in circles blocking an intersection during Critical Mass is moronic, while fun and empowering (I’ve done it myself), not a single driver stuck in traffic behind that is thinking positive thoughts about bicyclists. It is just not productive. Sure, keep telling yourself it fosters cycling community, and ignore how many enemies your are making with the people you really need to foster community with: non-cyclists.
The final straw for me was the response: “bike/ped commuters die more than 10/day in US. Reaction manifests in crit mass & other ways. Have empathy.”
Have fucking empathy?
I’ve had people who were friends, lovers, co-workers, team-mates and countless acquaintances killed while cycling. By cars. Killed by cars hitting them. They are dead. I’ll never hear their voices, never hold their hands, never see them smile again.
When I was a bike messenger, I saw, with my own fucking eyes, a bike commuter crushed by a semi in downtown San Francisco making a wide right hand turn. I heard her scream before she died. (the driver was devastated, he was just doing his job, driving slow and safe, used his signals and was obeying the law %100, the cyclist was not paying attention and tried to pass on the right, I saw it with my own eyes)
I watched as a car hit and plowed over a commuter right in front of my bike shop here in Portland. Crushed.
Nothing I could do to save any of my friends, any of those people I’ve seen die.
What did I do after they died? Did I go to Critical Mass? No. I went to their memorials, I went to their fucking funerals. I consoled their partners and friends.
And you want to spout statistics at me? You want to assume that I do not have empathy? That I have no experience with Critical Mass, with protests, with activism and with being a bicycle commuter? That I am just some privileged PRO bike racer, without a clue and with no real connection to the average cyclist? That I am not run off the road, screamed at, threatened and have shit thrown at me everyday, sometimes several times a day when I am out on my bike?
Back to the original point: I still think Critical Mass riding in circles blocking an intersection is moronic. That is less actual activism and more like a parade/party. Try to explain the positive connection between that kind of riding, and people that are killed by cars; to the drivers sitting in that traffic jam just trying to get home or to work. That kind of activism is short-sighted, divisive and quickly creates enemies, not allies.
I still loathe inconsiderate, illegal and dangerous behavior by drivers and cyclists alike.
Critical Mass does not in itself create safer roads or foster improved riding conditions and safety. Get involved in your city’s Bicycle Association, government, infrastructure or urban planning. Do something tangible to improve road safety versus putting so much value on what has fundamentally become a parade.
Not that there is anything wrong with parades!
Jesus. Can Parlee do no wrong? Dropping amazing bomb after amazing bomb!
This is completely unreal. Yet, it is very, very real.
I’ve been riding Shimano Di2 for 3 years. It is flawless and proven. Wins races, gets power washed daily, crashed, beaten up and ridden into the ground. Still works perfectly. I don’t have 10 bikes and an endless supply of replacement parts like a PRO team. I’ve got a couple of groups and I’ve been racing on one of the Di2 groups from the start. Through snow, ice, Belgian sand, Japanese mud, Las Vegas’ summer heat. No bullshit, it works.
How do you better such a solid platform? Oh right, improve the User Interface. Or just blow the UI apart and re-think it.
…and with this development, Skynet is just that much closer to dominating us. Well shit, at least our new electronic overlords will have precise bicycle shifting.
(haters will hate. I bet there are still some of you out there moaning about the development of the clipless pedal)