This blog is dead, reader.
Thanks for reading, everyone.
Over the two years that I wrote this blog and since, I’ve met and ridden with some of the finest men and women I’ve ever come across on this metal Hell-beast-infested globe.
I hope to meet many more of you. And I hope to get another chance to use what the Bike Gods gave me to get closer to you (in ur heart, pervz).
Until then, enjoy a selection of my “greatest hits” posted below.
The Bike Fag
What Will Be the Next Fixed Gear? (I ended up just putting a coaster brake wheel on the Purple Bike)
The biggest pond of American cycling has apparently proven too challenging a milieu for the fag to keep confidence in his routine. – The dude from Looking Good in Pants, explaining that he was removing my link.
My first thought was: “Fuck that guy! I’ve been busting my ass trying to find a job in a city with 10% unemployment , populated by a bunch of assholes with the exact same skills as me! (which I did) And when I wasn’t looking for a job, I was writing for three publications, racing bikes, trying to negotiate my way through a racing scene where I didn’t know anyone, and checking out a brand new city that I vacillate between loving and hating on an hourly basis! Have you ever moved before?! Fuck you!”
My second thought was: “And what the fuck is a ‘milieu,’ anyway?!”
Finally, though, I admitted that he was right. And that my new milieu (apparently it means one’s social environment) in Portland is indeed challenging.
Whether or not it’s “the biggest pond of American cycling,” Portland is undoubtedly a “big pond” compared to Fort Collins, CO. And a much different social environment. Isn’t that why I moved here to begin with?
Yes. And there are some big, beautiful fish in this big’ ol pond. That’s a good thing, right?
Yes and no.
For an egomaniac “alternative cyclist” like myself, not standing out in a crowd is challenging.
Being the new guy in “the scene” is difficult.
I’ve had to reevaluate my importance in the world of alternative cycling.
But I’m coming to understand that many of the people here are transplants who, like me, came here from somewhere else, and probably underwent their own periods of uncertainty concerning their places in alternative cycling society (though I doubt they ever quite put it in those terms…).
“Am I cool enough for Team Ironclad?”
TBD, doggs (I actually already have a team).
Whether or not my “milieu” is “too challenging,” I’m gonna probably be laying back and peeping the scene for a minute.
Somebody by the name of “OliverMiller” commented a few months back: “I just have to wonder what this is gonna do to your writing, how this will warp your perception; snarkiness, I suspect, may well fall to the wayside.”
The guy was totally right. Snarkiness takes confidence. And now that I’m here, I’m a lot more worried about kissing ass and getting in with the right people than talking shit.
Things are changing fast. And my own voice isn’t ringing quite as loud or true as it has in the past. But I’ll settle in real nice, and have plenty of shit to make fun of in no time!
I do truly have a lot to learn from the people of Portland. And I’m confident that my alternative cycling self worth will be positively appraised in short order.
Plus, it’s not like I’ve really been updating this blog very frequently this past year anyway.
You can’t make this shit up. Here’s an extremely flattering Craigslist post from Minneapolis (the Portland of the North):
Spandex’d bike fag/grindcore nerd looking for room (South MPLS)And if you’re in Minneapolis and have a room available, give this man a room!
One of the hassles associated with moving across the country is the inevitable: “what the fuck was I thinking?!” stage. And I gotta lay it on you straight, readers: I’m there.
What the fuck was I thinking? It rains all the time. I have no friends (not true). I’m unemployed. And I’ve got a serious alternative cyclist inferiority complex:
I make it out to be pretty grave, though, readers.
So leave your cares behind. Come with me and find. The pleasures of a journey to the center of the alternative cyclist’s mind.
It all started in Fort Collins back on March 31st when Dad and I loaded up the Subaru and I hit the road.
I only made it to Boulder that day, but the next day I drove into a terrifyingly strong headwind, uphill, over the Continental Divide, to mountain bike mecca Fruita. I’d met a guy about a week earlier by the name of Cale Wenthur. Cale’s a real kindred spirit – sort of like a financially-stable version of me. We’re both about 5’8″/130. Both 29 years old. And we’re both moving across the country. We’re both mountain mountain bikers, although Cale is about the most Euro mountain biker I’ve ever met.
Cale started one of the raddest-kitted teams in history – Team Pegasus out of Milwaukee – and now he’s leaving it all behind to drive a van (you should really check out his van) across the country to San Diego. He’ll probably be experiencing a strong sense of “what the fuck was I thinking?” soon, but more power to him.
Anyway, Cale and I rode Fruita’s incredible trails for two days, guided by Aspen Street Coffee owner Tommy. Tommy is an absolute shredder on the technical stuff. He’s been doing it for years. And he rides exclusively on flat pedals, wearing Vans slip-ons (former BMXer). I was very lucky to have such a radical guide (wish I’d have taken a picture).
Here are some photos that I stole from Cale:
Fruita easily lives up to the hype. And I definitely wish I could beam there at least once a week to get sunburned and have screaming bike-gasms on their incredible trails.
I drove through Salt Lake City and Boise (and enjoyed both more than I thought I would) on my way to my to my next shredding destination: Bend, OR.
Bend was a little more “northwestern” feeling, despite it being called “high desert” (sort of laughable to a Coloradoan when it’s only 3,500 ft. high and raining..).
I’ll have to revisit Bend during the summer, as I couldn’t see any of the scenery and it was just sort of wet. But they had a great coffee shop called Thump, a great friend of mine named Erin, and a great shredder from Fort Collins named Todd Chance:
The really good trails in Bend were still snowed-in, but Todd and I managed to catch a window of decent weather and some dry trails on Horse Ridge. It was sort of mediocre mountain biking – a bunch of sandy volcano dirt that sort of makes noise as you ride on it, interspersed with jagged black rocks. But the downhill made up for everything – straight down the fall-line along a little ravine where you can go as fast as you have the balls for. I wanted to ride another lap immediately afterward!
Todd and I were both brand new to Oregon, so still repping Fort Collins.
I was forced to leave my cocoon of Fort Collins friend comfort and head into the big bad world of Portland the next day, where I pulled into town at 5pm, then raced the cat. 3/4 PIR Circuit Race at 6:30.
There’s nothing like racing a bike to make everything else in the world – financial worries, feelings of loneliness, bad weather, and really anything else – disappear for a little while.
And the Portland bike racing scene is really good.
I managed to race three times in the first week: PIR that first night; a 56-mile road race on a beautiful, rolling loop outside Corvallis on Saturday; and a hilarious mud-fest mountain bike race on Sunday. Here’s what I looked like afterward:
I have a lot to say about my:
First impressions of the Oregon bike racing scene.
First, the weather fucking sucks. I’ve barely ridden other than the races I’ve done because it’s rained every day other than one (I guess this stops at some point?). I knew going into this that the weather would suck, but I guess I still didn’t think it was real – like I could somehow bargain with the rain once I got here. Well, it’s real. However my first rainy road ride the other day was pretty fun. You feel like a badass riding in the rain. And most of the time the rain is passing and it’s sunny for 20 minutes, then cloudy for 20 minutes, then lightly raining for 20 minutes, etc. Once I get the gear and get used to it, I might just grow to love it.
Second, there are so many people that got into cycling from some sort of fixed-gear or skateboarding background. Cycling is definitely not the mostly-squares-from-the-suburbs sport that it is in Colorado. Also, the racers in Oregon mostly live in Portland, unline in Colorado where they mostly live in Boulder or other smaller/more suburban places (again, this is a first impression here, confirmed a little bit by looking at OBRA results). I’ve gotta tell you, doggs: it’s quite comforting to go to PIR and see a bunch of dudes with ironic mustaches racing in the pro/1/2 race. I mean there’s no way to really get at this without sounding really lame, but there is no doubt about it: the bike racers in Oregon are on average significantly cooler than the bike racers in Colorado. Sorry, CO…
Another thing is that the bike racers are more friendly here in Oregon. The way you say hi to somebody in a cat. 4 road race in Colorado is by glaring at them. But during my first road race last weekend, several people sidled up next to me in the peloton and introduced themselves. It was totally weird, and clearly a common-enough practice. I really liked it. Out of about 100 roadies, there was only one jackass repeatedly yelling at everyone to “pull through!”
The mountain bike scene looked equally rad. The race on Saturday was long and hard (like your dad), and I only went to Sunday’s race because I’m trying to court a team called Trusty Switchblade. They have really awesome team kits, and they’re sponsored by a really awesome shop, 21st Avenue Bicycles – a shop with a really awesome mechanic Amanda who has an awesome Production Company/blog called Backyard Blam. I definitely want a piece of this action (the shop, not the mechanic, pervz).
But I’m really glad I raced. The course would have been fairly wack, but the rain made the whole thing very entertaining and hilarious – especially for me with no skills in the mud, and some large-volume, low-tread-profile tires that acted as gigantic mud-pontoons. After half a lap, I understood why so many people were riding either thin-ass mud tires or cyclocross tires on their 29ers. I was riding plenty strong on the opening climb and start lap, settling into second place and opening up a little gap on the guys behind me. Then I crashed dramatically on a downhill mud chute and had to spend two minutes getting my front brake to function again. I thought of dropping out, but continued along, passing single-speeder after single-speeder. I improved dramatically at riding on slick northwest mud after two laps, and settled into a good groove of slowly cornering and running down the mud chutes. I found out I finished 8th out of 25, so I registered in the next race of this series and I’m making a goal of racing most of the single-speed races in this series.
There’s no substitute to knowing everyone in town, though, and I really miss my home racing scene in Fort Collins. I know that it only took a season or two to get to know everyone, and it’ll happen here, but for Christ’s sake can’t we just skip the “get to know you” phase and get straight to the “broing out” phase, Portland?!”
But there’s only one way to get in, and that’s by showing up and broing down!
I’ll talk more about not having a job and not being cooler than everyone else later on, but for now check out this awesome ride that I’m gonna do on Sunday:
You see what I’m saying about this town having a rad racing scene?
Yes, readerz, I’d like to report on a place that, unless you live in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, might not be on your bike-dar. It might not be the capital of “fixie kultur.” The mountain bikers may not have the most extravagant pork chop sideburns. The local group rides have a severely underwhelming hipster road biker presence. And the local racing occurs exclusively in actual colors and in sensible chronology rather than in “epic” sepia hues and edited primarily for aesthetics.
It may not be the coolest place, but it’s been my home for most of the last four years, and it’s the place I know and love:
Fort Collins, CO
I moved to Fort Collins from Colorado Springs for school in 2006, figurin’ on suffering through the state college beer pong bros, and the Subaru-driving outdoors-persons for two years or so, getting my degree, and getting the fuck out of this hell-hole without remorse.
Well, it sort of went like that, just minus the “no remorse” part and minus the “get the fuck out” part. I “moved” to New York, and was back six months later. I’ve been whiling away my days for the past 1.75 years since, riding Fort Collins’ many beautiful roads and trails, making people coffee, and occasionally writing something about bicycles.
So why do I love this “hell-hole” so much anyway?
Fort Collins reared me up as a racist, and I’ll always think that racing should be done “the Fort Collins way.”
If my only criteria for judging a place to live were “housing costs” and “racing scene,” I’d probably never leave Fort Collins. The racing here is seriously fantastic! For a town of only 140,000, Fort Collins’ local race calendar is stacked up like Princess Diana’s wedding cake.
“Stay poor and stay Cat. Four!’ I say! No problem in Fort Collins. You could race every week for half the year without ever having to buy a license or pay more than ten bucks.
And if you DO want to race a “real” race, Fort Collins has about the best race of the best series of the best cycling sport in America: The New Belgium Cup USGP of Cyclocross!
And if beating people on much more expensive equipment is your fancy, Fort Collins is perfect because of its proximity to Boulder – a town chock-full of mediocre racers on extremely expensive bikes who are all too happy to pay thirty bucks to go out and roll their tubulars off their rims from a comfortable distance behind you.
(That’s an unfair picture. In addition to slow rich douchebags on expensive wheelsets, there are also a bunch of very fast rich douchebags on expensive wheelsets in Boulder..)
(I’m playing, Boulder. Some of the rich douchebags down there are super cool)
Anyway, as you can see, Fort Collins is a great place to race (even though you end up having to drive to Boulder every goddamn weekend..)! Go Fort Collins!
But who cares about racing. Racing is just an excuse to make dressing up in spandex all day seem more macho to your old high school friends on Facebook (get over it, dude. You’re your own man now). Any true cyclist knows that that pinnacle of cycling is not racing or “training,” but RIDING!
Riding is AWESOME!
And Fort Collins has some AWESOME SHIT to ride!
We’ve got a big climb: Rist Canyon.
We’ve got a couple other big climbs that people don’t think about as much: Buckhorn Canyon/Pennock Pass, a dirt road that tops out at 9,150ft; Stove Prairie from the Poudre Canyon to the backside of Rist; Rattlesnake Ridge above Loveland; the Glenhaven climb outside Estes Park.
We also have a shitload of fantastic dirt road riding! Why it was just the other week that I finally rode Cherokee Park Road, a steep, red clay affair that connects to a network of terrifyingly steep and remote roads going all the way to Wyoming. There’s a never-ending grid of dirt roads East of I-25 that no roadie dares tread on, and that I’ve only barely begun to fully understand. The dirt roads north of town are the ribbons of legend, where a man can ride red dirt straight into the wind North until he’s stopped by the Wyoming State Patrol! Basically, there’s a bunch of awesome dirt road riding..
Not into climbing or dirt? Well, that means you’re a douchebag. But even total douchebags have places to ride in Fort Collins! There are many “rolling” roads (“rolling” by Colorado standards) like the route out through Masonville and up Cult Road to get to the stuff Southwest of town; or the windy prairies out East; or the boring, straight training grounds north of town where roadies sell their souls to the brown grass in exchange for just a few more watts.
We’ve got mountain biking too, by the way – lots of it! The ol’ standard Maxwell-Shoreline-Michaud loop that we’ve all done a hundred times never gets old. Blue Sky will always be about the funnest trail for a rigid bike in Larimer County. And Bobcat Ridge will rattle your arms asleep without six inches of slop front-and-rear. Lory and Horsetooth have trails enough to make you feel like you’re riding through a house of mirrors all day and getting no closer to home. And if the local trails lose their luster, you can drive an hour North to get to IMBA paradise Curt Gowdy State Park – or an hour South to get to the jewel of the Front Range: Hall Ranch.
Personally, my favorite place to ride is David Cross. “David Cross” is the name of the cyclocross group ride that i started, but I now call all of the trails near the Poudre River Between College and Sheilds “David Cross.” The place is like some sort of childhood treehouse for me. I know it all like the back of my hand. I feel like I own it all – even the pump track – and I magnanimously allow all the joggers, stoners, and bums pass.
I started riding as a kid on a mountain bike in Colorado Springs. And I’ve ridden all over the state of Colorado and many other states. But Fort Collins is more-or-less where I learned to ride for real. I rode my first Century here. I rode my first “group ride” here – the Oval Ride – and got dropped up “The Windsor Wall.” I got my first road bike here. I got my first rigid, single-speed 29er here. I learned to race here at our Tuesday night races.
I may not fit in the best here in the Fort Collins bike community, but I know that I belong. And I’m sure that I’ll be back soon enough, once I run out of food stamps and lose my mind to the clouds
There’s a lot to be said for sustainability – I’m convinced. That’s why I do things that make me feel better about myself like recycling, only flushing the toilet every other time I urinate, and driving a Subaru that gets 25mpg on the highway.
But what I REALLY like about “sustainability” is all of the laughable bullshit associated with it – because I get to make fun of it.
For instance: are Subaru Outbacks sustainable?
Fuck no! But they’re practically ubiquitous for the “entry-level sustainabilibro.” (more advanced sustainabilibros get old Toyota pickup trucks (again: why not just buy an old Honda Civic hatchback?), and top-teir sustainabilibros get vegetable oil-powered Toyota Landcruisers or Mercedes diesels)
Are Chaco sandals sustainable?
Probably. But not nearly as sustainable as just buying some old shitty running shoes from the thrift store, wearing them until they die, then buying some more. Old, shitty running shoes have already been produced.
Need sandals? I doubt it, since all you’re doing is going to the New Belgium Brewery tour, but let’s say that you DO need sandals. Well, they’ve got crappy old adidas sandals galore at the thrift store.
Instead, sustainabilibros buy Chacos by the dozen! There are probably enough fucking Chacos to fill up a landfill here!
People don’t buy Chacos because they are sustainable. They seldom buy Chacos because they’re going to be walking through water. And they certainly don’t buy them for their looks (they look REALLY FUCKING STUPID). People buy Chacos for one reason: to fit in with other sustainabilibros. Same goes for Subaru Outbacks (the all-wheel drive is nice, I’ll admit..)
There’s all kindsa consumerism-driven “sustainabiity” posing in Fort Collins. And I can’t imagine Portland will be much different (other than being dressed up in a way more pleasing to my sensibilities).
The best is New Belgium Brewery. These guys have created an image being the “sustainable brewery.” And fair enough, they are a leader in sustainability.
But gimme a break. New Belgium makes a totally frivolous product that takes real resources to produce. If all they cared about was planet Earth, they’d halt production immediately instead of trucking “sustainable” beer in glass bottles all across America in petroleum-burning trucks.
It’s not New Belgium’s production methods or waste disposal methods that I take issue with. Again, New Belgium does a great job.
What I dislike about New Belgium is how they seem to just bask in self-congratulation for making beer to get people drunk with.
And what I dislike even more is how the people of Fort Collins literally lap that shit up! Go to the Tour de Fat in Fort Collins and observe as a bunch of fairweather cyclists dress up as an advertisement for New Belgium Brewery, then listen to all this frenzied hype-man bullshit about the bicycle, then ride in a circle around town getting piss-drunk by noon. It’s like Saint Patrick’s Day for Liberals!
Well, fair enough, New Belgium is pretty much Guinness for Liberals…
And people are going to drink beer anyway, so they might as well drink “sustainable,” “wind-powered” beer. Also, New Belgium pretty much funds every bike-related thing in Fort Collins and supports every publication I read with full-back-page advertisements, so I hope they don’t get pissed off at me and pull the rug out from under the cycling community.
Really, I just don’t drink and I’m bitter that I’m missing all of the fun.
But for all its greenwashing, Fort Collins has really changed me. I’m from Colorado Springs, and they don’t do a whole lot of recycling down there. Nor do they do much restriction on sprawling cardboard-home developments, or much funding of social services.
Unfortunately, I’m at a:
I’m 29. I’m sober. I’m a bike racer. And I listen primarily to gay disco from the late ’70s (and I’m straight).
So it is with a heavy heart that I must say farewell, Fort Collins.
I’d like to thank:
Dan Lionberg (Dad): you’ve been like a (dysfunctional) father to me. Thanks for demanding that I race bikes while I’m under your roof. You taught me everything I know about bikes (even the totally incorrect things)! Congratulations on finally graduating college!
Sheldon Deeny: thank you for giving me some perspective on the things Dad “taught” me..
Teresa Garcia: Teresa’s probably the fastest, sexiest, and most classless person I know who’s graduated from an Ivy League institution (and, let’s be honest, the only person I know from the Ivy League). Thanks fer being my dawg and believing in me during that dark, lonely time when we both got dumped by our girl/boy friends in the dead of winter. You may have abandoned me in singlehood (and I’m very happy for you), but I know you’ll never abandon my dad’s single hood..
Dan Porter: Dan Porter should be declared “cyclist of the year” every year for the last three years in Fort Collins. He runs the bike resource website Your Group Ride and he really welcomed me into the bike racing world in a serious way, despite me being a newbie and probably a total idiot. Dan has a hand in most of the cheapo local races where idiots like me get to dip their toe in the vast, cold world of bike racing. Seriously, if Dan Porter weren’t doing what he does, I don’t know what the hell Fort Collins’ race scene would look like (probably still pretty great, but in a very different way).
There are like a million other people I love and want to give shout-outs to, but I’ll try to keep it bike-related:
Thank you to my dawgz!
And last but not least,
Tell your dad I said thanks!
Turns out that World Champion and hour record man Graeme Obree is gay. I know I’m a little late on this one, but here it is anyway:
For such a homo-erotic sport, pro cycling could definitely use some unambiguously gay men to cool down the lycra-clad sexual tension a little bit. This increases the percentage of gay male pro cyclists who are out of the closet from 0% to approximately 0.003%. Well done, Graeme!
(I swear to the Bike Gods that I’m working on creating actual content. Stay tuned!)
You may remember Sheldon Deeny’s fall from pro cyclist to dishwasher. Today Sheldon made the front page of the Fort Collins Coloradoan as the very first test subject in a program that gives public urinators a hand up – and a mop to clean up other revelers’ urine and vomit.