Friday, March 29, 2013

If you drive in the bike lane, you're a dick.

Six years ago, I bought a shop.

It was the shop I'd patronized throughout my mid 90's college floundering... all the while putzing my way through my vegan straight-edge, aspiring professional triathlete phase.

Vegan straight-edge?
Yeah.
Triathlete?
Yeah.

Fug.

It's a long, uninteresting, unfunny story (apropos of everything I write).
Suffice to say I was just as much of a dingus as I am today, and just as much of a dingus as most aspiring triathletes.... but possibly with even less knowledge and couth... (Oh... and definitely with less money.)
Not only was I going pro, I was going to do it on my Bridgestone RB-1.
I blame Chuckie V.

I was in highschool and starting to laser in on endurance sports. I loved swimming. I was falling in love with running. And as far as I knew, I was a "very experienced cyclist." (...in that I had been riding a mountain bike very badly and very slowly since the mid-80's when my brother introduced me to it and began taking me to NORBA races.) I worshipped Ned Overend, Tinker Juarez, Juli Furtado and totally had a crush on Missy Giove. (Yeah.... so... about that.)

But for some reason I never really got into racing. I chalk it up to fear of failure. I had lofty goals and didn't want to suck as bad as I knew I might.
It wasn't until highschool when my angst and discomfort reached a fever pitch that things galvanized.
Into.... triathlon. (sigh)

The soundtrack to my life was Henry Rollins and my lofty, albeit histrionic goal was nothing less than the purging of all weakness from my body. While I can't really fault my sincerity and drive, I might take issue with my lack of vision as to what my true weaknesses were at the time. Sometimes I think I mistook my common sense and moral compass as weakness and purged them instead. And as a result I am the unhappy wreck of a man that you all know and love today. (Yay for me.)

I must have been a junior or sophomore in highschool when an article in Rolling Stone (I think?)  featuring Chuckie V came out.
I don't remember the bulk of it.... I want to say it was just a fashion piece featuring some Boulder area triathletes.... but one of the featured pictures was of Chuckie poised on a rock.... looking like a punk rock Ed Grimley.... his mohawk in 5 resplendent, foot and a half spikes.
I can't find the picture, but you get the drift.
"Whoa... this guy... he has the mohawk I always wanted growing up... and he does... endurance sports!!!"
In another photo, while other racers were wearing running singlets or goony tri suits (I might have had one of these. And remind me to tell you about the time I raced in a speedo... sans irony. Bad scene.)... Chuckie was wearing a Motorhead "Eat the Rich" t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.

And so, in the way that only a highschooler trying to find his path can, I decided I was going to be the next Chuckie V. ...And Henry Rollins.... At the same time. (Which with my build and horse face kind of made me look more like Nick Cave.... but that was cool, because I loved him too. I mean... Henry's Dream? I wish!...That album blew my 16 year old mind.)
Anyway... unlike Nick, who's vast talent and interests do not necessarily trend toward athleticism, I began to swim, bike and run. A lot.
And unlike Nick, I was completely devoid of vast talent.
Le sigh.

As hardcore and fringe as IRONMAN may (or may not) have been in those days, I think it's still safe to say that there was nothing LESS punk rock than Triathlon. (Dare I say the same is true today?) And maybe that was part of the appeal. I didn't really want to do traditional punk rock things (that's how punk I was). And I figured being a punk in triathlon might give me an edge.
I admit, I felt a little vindicated when I found out that  John Joseph had gotten into it.
Ah... the Cro-Mags. Early Cro-Mags, mind you..... Age of Quarrel.
That was another whole chapter of my life. One defined by Youth of Today, Inside Out, 7 Seconds, The Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Underdog, Burn, Shelter, 108...
Did I wear a Tulasi bead choker? Yes.... Yes I did. For years. (sigh)


What can I say? I was young... and I was drawn to the aesthetic.
Austere, disciplined, exotic, non-christian .... it had a gravity for me.
And again...I was a dingus kid... trying to find a persona I liked... finding these things and glomming them onto myself like the shell of a caddisfly larvae.

Who am I?
Who am I?
Who am I?

It was a goofy time, to be sure. (Not much has changed.)
But it led to a lot of critical thinking about what I believed and didn't believe. And it turned out that I didn't believe any of it....Across the board. But that's probably a post best left to my super secret other blog. (Shhhh.....)

I would never call what I did training. In a sense it was... it changed me physically and mentally to be sure, and I'm still tapping into the rapidly draining savings account I started with the Bank Of Endurance back in those days. But as far as "training" goes.. it frankly sucked. I mean... I enjoyed the hell out of it... but  does swimming, biking and running really slowly, every day, week after week, make one a top contender? Especially when they lack natural talent?
Umm...No.

And I had no interest in sprint or oympic distance tri's. It was Ironman or nothing.
I scored a few 1st-in-age-group awards in some small half's and other races, which I thought heralded my soon to be world domination.
But when the leaders finished hours (HOURS!) ahead of me in my few long races (at the time you could still call them "IRONMAN" races (don't get me started on that particular organization).... which gave way to "IRONDISTANCE".... which gave way to "140.666" or something.) ...I saw the writing on the wall. I didn't have "IT." (Still don't..... Ed Locke told me as much. Alright.... he didn't really... He just wouldn't  look me in the eye when I asked. "Yeah, yeah... sure, Watts.")
Whatever aspirations I had to rock the triathlon world with my amazing prowess and irreverent and bombastic demeanor were crushed.
Alas....

At the INTERBIKE trade show, where various legends of cycling are always milling about.. I've only been "starstruck" twice: Once when I found myself standing next to Mark Allen, who, along with Scott Tinley, Scott Molina, Dave Scott, Julie Moss, and Chuckie V had been my tri-heroes.

And then when I met John Stamstad...

who was a total dick to me. Ha.
Do I blame him? Not really. The interview pretty much went something like this:
But still. I was a little crushed. I mean....Stamstad was one of my heroes.

I did my last tri in.... 2001?
Then moved on to Ultra-Running., which I'd been following for a while.
Then I had a brief tryst with Road Racing.....You're looking at the former National Criterium Champion (coughcoughCat5coughcough)

And then...I came back to mountain biking. And aside from some mandatory demos, have yet to ride anything with gears.
In the same way I love the simplicity of running... I love a singlespeed.

Recently I reacted strongly to Kurt's Gensheimer's (aka the Angry Singlespeeder) attempt to unravel and demystify the appeal.
Why did this make me so irate? I honestly don't know. I think it had something to do with a lack of self-consciousness that I read in it. And as an extremely self-conscious person, when I see that kind of thing, it vexes me tremendously. Which says nothing about Kurt or his article, and everything about me.

So I got all.... "angry" and stuff.
I mean....I am passionate (just ask the ladies! heh heh..... sigh... no... actually, don't.... Please.)
But I am in reality very, very, very angry. Seething with rage, in fact.

Politics.
Religion.
Car Culture.
Climate Change.
Factory Farming.
Performance Bike.
Honey Boo Boo.

And then of course seething about my life and what a complete mess I've made of it.
I'm fueled by self-loathing and anger. And tacos.
So I mouthed off, instantly feeling stupid for doing so. And having nothing but praise for his second installment... I owe Kurt a bit of an apology. So... uh... sorry, dude.

I mean.... he's not wrong. And outside of James Huang, I still might be the angriest man (boy...man-boy... man-child) in the industry. But most of that is self-directed.

I have to admit.... I still have a fondness for the sport of triathlon. I do.
Wait.... Ok...Let me reconsider and rephrase that.
I have a fondness for the activity. Swimming, biking and running all day? Preferably in remarkable places?
I mean....How can you go wrong?
I love an epic, open water swim.
I love an epic bike ride.
I love an epic run.
And I love pushing myself to the limits.
But...the sport itself? I mean....Yeah... It's pretty funny. From the demographic... to the style.... to the marketing.....to the bizarre over-sense of accomplishment and lack of humility that it seems to engender.
It's hard not to laugh.
But laugh all you want... that shit is hard. And I'd rather see people swimming, biking, and running than sitting on their asses, making fun of people less goofy and ridiculous than themselves.

Vegan Straight-Edge...
I admit... I still have a fondness for it.
I'm obviously not straight-edge anymore....And I'm not vegan.(and I'm not going to go into why right now)
But I understand both of them... and have to respect it.
Yeah.... it's easy to laugh at some kids who latch on to it as a way to define themselves, and as a result don't get "it" at all. (As "smart" and critical as I considered myself, I admit that I might have been (was) one of them.)
And yeah... it's easy to dismiss... because people are people and people are dumb....and we do dumb things sometimes.
Sometimes....
Ok... A lot of times.
But come on.....alcohol isn't cool. I mean....seriously...It's no cooler than a frat party. Or tailgate. Or a date rape. Or Smash Mouth. Or a triathlon.

Do I still like it?
Yeah.
Do I need it?
Damn, I really hope not.
Like straight-edge or hardcore or a singlespeed, have I sometimes let it define me as a person(a)?
Yeah... but I'm not happy about it.
Is this blog entry really long and dumb?
Pretty much.
Did I completely fail to talk about bike lanes?
Yeah, yeah.... sure, sure.

And with that, I leave you with this..... Regardless of what you believe.








2 comments:

  1. Most awesomest post. I learned stuff. About myself of course.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It warms my heart to hear yet another punk rocker/hardcore kid has a fondness for cycling. I must admit your post hits pretty close to home.

    ride on

    http://deathwishracing.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete