“Cycling” culture observed

I’m slightly interested in velodrome racing, not because I care for fixed gear bikes so much, and certainly not because I give a crap about this whole culture suddenly surrounding these racing bikes, but because it’s another form of racing and it’s on a track, which I tend to like.

So of course I took note of the recent spike in popularity of fixed gear bikes on the streets in Barcelona and even in Italy. Not that I was unaware of this super-trend happening in the US – Basically, anything hip and underground on the West coast of the US will turn up in Europe with about a two year delay. So to see them In Barcelona meant the trend had absolutely exploded in the US.

Still, it did not prepare me for the ridiculous saturation of fixed bikes and anything related to them among the hipster culture in SoCal during my latest visit. The local velodrome, which for years featured small crowds of, well, normal people, is suddenly full of dudes sporting quasi mullets and handlebar mustaches (a real mullet would be going too far), chunky crafter chicks, and every variety of skinny, stony-faced, corduroy clad enthusiast drinking micro brews in the stands to watch their friend race, and, more importantly, check out the accessories on each others fixies they rode to the velodrome.

I think the racing, and perhaps even the bikes themselves, are merely an accessory to their own coolness for this crowd. For example, the racers seemed to be participating in more of a fashion show than actually racing, wearing things like woolly striped arm warmers (probably knitted by those same crafter girls), modified “racing” jeans, and ironic beards. And the fact that some of the racers weigh upwards of 200 pounds makes me question their dedication or even real interest in cycling for the sake of the sport. The bike itself is less important than the attitude and attire of the person on it.

I am no bike snob, but  I solemnly vow to never ride a fixed gear bike on the street. Or maybe, just never ride one at all.

And you will never catch me wearing striped arm warmers.

The Road Home

I am now in California. It’s been 7 1/2 months since I’ve been here. I received a huge welcome from so many people, I am awed. It’s a surprise when people pay much attention to me (old issues), so to be missed and anticipated feels strange and sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself. Like the spotlight is on me and I know what to say, but what do I do with my hands? kind of way.

Unlike the last few trips home, this is a big one. See, I brought my personal hair brusher and porter, GP with me. He is  here for a few weeks, until he needs to go back to Europe for the Czech Republic race. He met my parents, my brother, many of my friends and colleagues, and of course, my dogs. We also made a weekend trek to Portland to visit the person responsible for establishing our acquaintance a year and a half ago. (Whether that simple introduction is for GP’s ultimate benefit or detriment, only time will tell.)

I took him on my annual pilgrimage to the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP (previously WSBK pilgrimage) with the usual suspect riding bikes up to Monterey. We all stayed in a big house, as is the tradition, with extra bodies crashing on the floor for several nights.  (Picture the accompanying smelly socks, empty whiskey tumblers and empty snack food containers strewn around the house) The weekend race viewing and evening fun was great – Dinners with seating for ten, meetings with old friends, the waterfall of sound from the bikes racing down the corkscrew, a couple good games of Foozeball in the Ducati Island tent. The best had to be the ride from the track to the house one day, 7 guys plus me jammed in a van.  An exceptionally attractive police woman was directing traffic, and all the guys dropped their jaws. One of the guys on the floor in the back, desperate to get her attention, opened the back door while  screaming “Arrest me! Arrest meeeeee!!!” as we drove away.

After Laguna Seca, we headed to San Diego where we still are. I’m working in the offices of my company most days – that’s an adjustment, as I am used to working nights, and from home – and there are all kinds of surprises that have been waiting quietly in envelopes for the last 8 months for me.  Like the notice that I owe 300 bucks to the IRS that came last December (can you say penalties and interest?) Or the increase in my mortgage, announced last March. Or the demand for vehicle registration payments from the IRS (I had no idea this existed).  A few of these things are directed to JM, so I will enclose a death certificate with my non payment and hope they leave me alone (though they usually don’t).

While I’m getting some long overdue things checked off the US “To Do” list, including putting my house on the market, we haven’t had much time for fun. We haven’t even been to the beach yet ( it gets dark so early here). But everything is new and different for GP, so it’s been fun for him and fun for me watching his reaction to everyday things here, like the overwhelming supermarkets, ridiculous tiny helmets people wear on their motorcycles (against the law in Italy), and what sucky drivers Californians are.

Next, I’ll be going to the Indianapolis GP next, where I actually have a meeting with a potential moto related opportunity. Considering this year I’ve been working on creating an ideal life (for lack of a better term), I think it is time to step it up and make motorcycles a bigger part of that.

Should this opportunity come to nothing, I am open to suggestions for what to do next.