Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! To show some respect for the centuries of endurance against oppression, harassment and abuse by people of color in America and elsewhere, I'm NOT going to whine about this rotten cold bringing me down. Instead—in addition to saying THANK YOU DOCTOR KING—I'm going to briefly celebrate the escape from winter I made to Borrego Springs with SDBC's racing team this past weekend.
Writing two blog entries in the span of a week is VERY rare for me, so there must be a big reason for this follow-up to my "whining about winter" entry just last week. Indeed. I found summer again in Borrego Springs! No base layer. No chilly wet jersey. Just great summer riding with a bunch of younger and stronger SDBC racers. I was there to provide "SAG" support and take some photos, but I got to ride on Friday, which was good fun. I used a few cameras and only got the pictures off of my own camera. You can see those photos here.
Everyone I met during the camp was really nice. The men & women all seem to have a good time together, and this camp is meant to help them practice working together on and off the road. I suspect they'll be a formidable force on the racing circuit this year. I'd like to thank them for letting me be part of the camp, and I'd like to wish them all a fun, safe and very successful racing season.
Riding a bike is cheaper than a therapist and more fun than a gym. As all serious cyclists know, riding a bike is a great mood-lifter, especially during rides lasting 2 hours or more, where the endorphins really kick in. This cool gray winter day, I am in serious need of endorphin therapy.
I like snow. I enjoy snow skiing. But when there's not any snow around, I really don't have any use for gray skies and cold weather. I moved from Chicago to San Diego over 30 years ago to bask in the legendary SoCal sunshine. That's what makes days like today a little disappointing. That's what makes winter in San Diego a little disappointing. I guess I didn't do my homework on the weather before moving here.
Subtropical ≠ Tropical. Apparently I prefer tropical. Tropical lifts my mood. Subtropical summers are awesome but I don't like subtropical winters, where—like today—the high temperature of the day might creep slightly above the 50s (F), or above 15°C for those who live in countries that have adopted modern measurement systems. Our visit to South Africa brought us a brief exposure to SUMMER (and a near-death elephant encounter) last month, but we're all back home in the northern hemisphere now...thankful for the rain (FINALLY), but not loving the mudslides or the cold.
I know, anyone living in sub-freezing weather right now would think, "Jeez, what a weenie. Such a wimp." (Or worse.) I deserve it. I know I should appreciate what we have, but EVERY winter I automatically start thinking of warmer places to move to. My wife won't hear of it, so here I must remain.
Too bad, big baby. Time to bundle up and ride. Yes, I have cycling clothing that makes riding in 60°F weather perfectly bearable, but I'd still rather be riding in short sleeves with no base layer and sweating in some HEAT & SUNSHINE. Too bad. Suck it up. I'm riding right after lunch. And I'm going to LOVE it, right? Right!
I've enjoyed the playful writing style of former pro cyclist Phil Gaimon for many years. I've also shared his love of cookies. When I stopped by a roadside tent to get some free cookies while climbing Mount Baldy during this year's Tour of California (now on the World Tour stage!), the guy handing out cookies asked if I was signed up for Phil's "Cookie Fondo." As I was grabbing cookies from the guy's jar and thinking of a polite answer, I noticed Phil walking from the back of the tent and decided to loudly respond, "Well, if Phil Gaimon came up to me, introduced himself and asked me to join him on the Fondo, I'd definitely go." Phil followed my suggested sales tactic precisely, so I HAD to sign up and ride.
I'm glad I did. Phil's Cookie Fondo (http://www.philsfondo.com) was very well-managed with a big rider turnout, well-marked roads, great support along the way and a variety of good food at the start/finish in Camarillo. The wind was pretty insane for part of the ride, but that didn't take away anything from this warm and sunny day in the hills and along the coast.
If you're not familiar with Phil you should be. He's one of the best climbers on the planet. The day after we all rode with him in his Fondo he jumped on a flight to do a 105 km climb in Taiwan. He finished that race four places in front of Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, and only five places back from Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali who just retired from the pro peloton this year.
Be sure to add the Cookie Fondo to your fun cycling plans for 2018!
Happy Halloween!! 🎃
I never normally take the same trip twice unless I'm visiting family. Giro d'Italia winner Andy Hampsten (he's still the only American to have ever won this grand tour) and his wife Elaine practically feel like family now, after my second participation in their Cinghiale "Cooking & Cycling Tour." It's a 2-piggy tour (on a 4-piggy difficulty scale), so I can still keep up with the group rides through Tuscany.
UPDATE: Here are photos from the trip on flickr... https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4KjqKJ
With moderate mileage and mountains of food, I actually gained weight on this trip. It was SO worth it. The food & wine were incredible. The riding was dreamy. There's this one stretch of road that's maybe a 2% grade but it's so scenic that I feel like I'm going downhill in both directions.
I'm writing this blog two weeks after my return. Just as I did last time I took this tour (2014), I'm going through withdrawal, wishing I was there again. This time around I also rode my bike around Lake Como. Lake Como has always been on my bucket list, so getting the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour around the lake made my bucket "runneth over."
Thanks to Andy & Elaine at www.cinghiale.com and Pietro & Maryann at www.bicyclinginitaly.com for showing me a really good time in such beautiful parts of a beautiful country. I'll never forget such blissful road bike riding.
UPDATE: 2017 Barrio Logan race photos are here on Flickr.
This past Sunday night, I received an email from a local cycling clown named Kevin (last name withheld for his privacy) who once owned the domain name www.ChurchOfCycling.org™ which I bought back in 2015 from GoDaddy.com. He intimated that he was going to sue me for trademark violation for my use of the phrase "church of cycling" in this Weebly site's former title, "Father Dan's Church of Cycling." That's a little ridiculous. The phrase "church of cycling" was in use before his disappointing life began, along with hundreds of variations on the idea that riding a bike might be better for the soul than driving to church. (See the "About" page of this site for several examples.) But Kevin figures that since he printed it on a jersey once upon a time, nobody else can even whisper it. I don't know much about trademark law, but I doubt that Kevin should permanently, exclusively own rights to use a phrase that had previously been part of the vernacular of a sport or hobby just because he printed it on clothing and sold it to others (especially if he didn't report the income of those sales to the IRS).
Sadly, some people think the world revolves around them and they aren't necessarily reasonable. Kevin the Klown™ also claimed that I "stole" the www.ChurchOfCycling.org domain. I don't know how to steal a domain and I have no interest in doing so. I purchased www.ChurchOfCycling.org on the open market via legitimate means from the largest domain registry in the country (www.GoDaddy.com) long before he contacted me with his whiny complaint. The domain was clearly abandoned. I've owned and subsequently abandoned or sold lots of domain names in the past. I have enough moral fiber to keep me from threatening the new domain owners with lawsuits.
Whatever. You can't argue with crazy, and I like to sleep well at night. So I try to keep virtual strangers with mental illness—especially those outside of my extended family who aren't willing to seek professional help—out of my daily life. When I was telling this story to someone who knows Kevin fairly well, that person said that Kevin might be bipolar. If so, I'm sorry about that, but I also can't fix that. So, call me "chicken" for giving up on using "Father Dan's Church of Cycling" so easily, but but this is just a blog that hardly anybody reads, and life is too short for unnecessary conflict.
An attorney friend told me that many trademark lawsuits are just attempts at extortion. Maybe Kevin just needs the money to pay alimony. And maybe I could successfully defend against this flimsy trademark claim. But one of my attorneys pointed out that it could be an empty victory for me if this litigious clown can't afford the court's order to pay my legal fees, which could grow to tens of thousands of dollars. All right then. Over the name of a bicycling blog? No thanks.
Bottom line: I'm happy to change the name if it keeps this pathetic man-boy out of my life, free to stew in his own bad juju. So here we are, successfully moved from a church to a chapel of cycling at Father Dan's Bike Chapel™ on Weebly and at www.BikeChapel.com™...yet another old cycling expression in a domain name. 🚴 Yay!
Smile & wave.
I'm off to Tuscany this September! One of my SDBC cycling buddies has committed, what about you? This is cycling heaven...Tuscany with fall colors, perfect roads, great weather (at least last time when my wife and I went in 2014), and Giro winner Andy Hampsten feeding us and showing us around the hills and dales of the northwest coastal area (Castagneto Carducci) of Italy. This is the "Cooking & Cycling Tour" run by Andy and his darling wife Elaine. They are great hosts and you are bound to enjoy it whether you ride or not. If you like learning more about wine, olive oil, pro cycling or just enjoy a peaceful place to read, this is your tour. See www.Cinghiale.com for more info.
Here are pictures from the last Cinghiale tour I went on.
How could I NOT squeeze out a blog entry after riding around our third and final grand tour? This marked completion of a crucial bucket list entry: Experience the Tour (2010), the Giro (2009), and (finally) la Vuelta! Here are photos from our short, fun trip to Costa Blanca on our way to Prague. The highest-placed American in the race was Andrew Talansky (in 5th place, right behind Alberto Contador), and our small tour group happened to include Andrew's dad, Alan.
The Tour de France is the bike race everyone knows about, but I love the greater accessibility of the Giro and the Vuelta. As you can see in the photos, we were able to ride the entire individual time trial route while the pros did their warmup/reconnaissance lap of 37 km. How fun to be passed on the course by Alejandro Valverde & ultimate race winner Nairo Quintana at around the 9 km mark giving us time to yell encouragement in our stunted español.
We felt blessed to be touring with such a nice, small group of people. (The caption above is wrong. There was never any pushing or arguing.) This brief trip, economically made possible by Sports Tours International of the UK, was a true vacation packed into just a few days in a part of Spain I'd never been to before. Even after a week off the bike, those climbing days in Spain seemed to add pep to my ride, based on how strong I felt during yesterday's club ride.
Where to next???
Once again I wonder if I'm at all capable of "doing a blog." It's been over a month since my last entry, and rather than writing my own blog entry, I'll share the writing of someone who is much more creative and entertaining than I am.
If you've ever had to try to explain anything about bike racing to anyone, you will really appreciate this commentary on racing and why almost all bike racers—by necessity—are LOSERS.
It's nice to see articles in local papers recently about how "bike friendly" San Diego is. One of the La Jolla newspapers recently conducted a survey asking how "bike friendly" La Jolla is. The vast majority said that La Jolla is NOT bike friendly, and I agree with them. Several major intersections completely disregard any accommodation for cyclists. Most drivers aren't savvy enough to know how to work around a cyclist that is in "their" lane.
Examples include (1) southbound North Torrey Pines Road, right at UCSD where the bike lane disappears to make room for the right-turn lane onto La Jolla Shores Drive, and (2) southbound Torrey Pines Road, where the same thing happens again when the right turn lane to Prospect helps distracted, impatient motorists (many of them clueless tourists) try to make cyclists struggling up that climb feel like they have no right to the road.
The fact of the matter is that cyclists do have every right to the road, so "get off the road" is about the stupidest thing a driver can say, but that doesn't stop drivers from saying so. I'm not paying any less city, county, or state taxes when I'm using my bike for transportation or exercise and I'm probably paying a lot more taxes than the clueless clown yelling that favorite phrase (so...STFU, clown!).
Anyway, hopefully cyclist mayor Faulconer and cyclist chief of San Diego police Shelley Zimmerman can work on improving San Diego's safety and the highly-correlated "bike friendliness" of America's Finest City while also enforcing California's 3-foot rule. (Any tickets written yet?) And if worse comes to worst, nothing wakes up a bad/distracted driver like a good old-fashioned lawsuit. In case you need to take that path, I recently found Mike Bomberger. He's a personal injury lawyer who has helped many cyclists and pedestrians fight back against abusive, negligent drivers. Unlike one or two other "cycling advocate" lawyers, Mike doesn't also defend those accused of DUI. I'm not saying those arrested for DUI don't deserve legal counsel, I'm just profoundly disturbed by anyone who can make that part of their work while also allegedly looking out for cyclists. (Sober drivers are bad enough!)
Here's Mike's web site in case you're a cyclist who has been injured by someone's negligent driving.