I didn’t read the I Ching because I can’t, it’s written in zhuànshū and I don’t read zhuànshū. I didn’t “roll the bones” because the Mercurial Magic divination dice I ordered from DerikDoesTarot on Etsy are still in the mail even though it’s been a week and the charge for expedited shipping has most definitely cleared my bank account. And I didn’t sacrifice an animal because if I kill my girlfriend’s cat she will be disappointed in me. Also, I kinda like the cat. Irregardless, I think we can both agree the Time is Now. You have room in your heart, your mind is open, and you’re ready to receive The Quickening. And me, I’m ready to unleash two-plus decades of cycling street-wisdom. So let’s get started immediately.
I know many of you, the majority of you, are feeling this and that’s all you need in order to sign-up and commit. You are intuitive and you trust your instincts. Which, that’s good. You will need that skill over and over again throughout the course of your training career. But a few of you, even though you know it’s the right thing to do because I’m telling you it’s the right thing to do, and your friends are telling you it’s the right thing to do, would like to know more about my personal journey and experiences before getting started. Like, for example, what are my qualifications, and can the dude (me) really walk the walk? You might be surprised but it turns out I’m more than happy to indulge you in this vetting exercise because that means you’re a tactical-oriented thinker, you like strategy and game-theory—also skills that will also serve you over and over again throughout the course of your training career. And I’m not scared because I’m bonafide, just watch.
So, how did I come to be the preeminent Training Source that I am?
First of all, as you know, I grew-up in Maryland which is why I like rednecks (aka Yo Boys) that listen to rap and wear their trucker hats sideways, and it’s why I have lightning fast reflexes in the face of airborne beer cans and sexual proclivity-based innuendo and conjecture. It’s also why as an adult I had to re-learn how to properly pronounce the word “ocean,” which, turns out, when said right doesn’t sound like OOOO-shin at all. Similarly, wOO-der is actually pronounced waaaater. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that I was born a Warrior Poet. If you don’t know what a WP is shaped like, just Google “megamorph”. Then, in your mind, cross that with grace and finesse of Messi’s footwork and the power and style of Mary Lou Retton’s 1984 Olympic campaign (including but not limited to her perfect 10.0 double twisting tsukahara vault). To be clear, it’s a confusing body type. When fully tuned-up and in its Platonic state it represents the perfect union of POWER and DEXTERITY. But all too often, especially in WP children, it presents as chubby or bodacious, and now, in more modern times, as thick.
Which is why, as a child attending Broadneck Elementary School, I became known as Whale Tail and/or or Bubble Butt. Kids are mean. And, based on my Charlie Chaplin performance during the the third grade talent show, overly critical and shortsighted. Nevertheless because I’m a warrior I was able to use channel all that groupthink and mob mentality verbal violence into an eating disorder (this is a true story, and greatly affected I ended up as an adult). Or as Scientist-Coaches call it, Early Onset Body Dysmorphia. EOBD has potentially countless advantages in relationship to cycling for a WP, but three concepts stand out: 1) Early calorie awareness. 2) An introduction to the volatile yet powerful cocktail resulting when self-esteem and glowing pride are simultaneously present. 3) Learning to live with self-induced hunger pangs.
It’s only natural that as an adolescent WP I discovered skateboarding. Skateboarding led to Everything but we don’t have time for Everything right now. More specifically, skateboarding for me, a nearly full-grown Warrior Poet, led to a series of torn ligaments in both my right and left knees even though at the time I only weighed 179 pounds (because at 20 years of age in 1992—living in California with the Hollywood Sign, the Santa Monica Courthouse benches, the Beverly Center, Venice Beach, the Venice Banks, Natas Kapas and Guitar Center—I lived on a R-I-G-I-D rigid diet of Fat Free Entenmann’s CheeseCake Strudels, Vons brand fat-free ice cream, Penguin’s non-fat frozen yogurt, Ralphs brand cinnamon raisin bagels and sugar-free Bazooka bubble gum). Alas, in the end all that discipline didn’t matter: I still had to give-up skateboarding because I was just too overly warrior and not enough poet.
However, in the process of rehabilitating my right knee for the umpteenth time my doctor recommended bicycle exercise as a way to strengthen my quads. Not to develop a third quad obviously, because that’s advanced and I wasn’t even close to ready for a third quad at the time. I’m talking about just regular ol’ dual-quad strength. In a rare moment of authority figure amenability, I took my doctor’s advice and bought a purple Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo with elevated chain stays, which led to the Columbusing of JPL, Strawberry Peak and the entire Santa Monica Mountains. Around the same time I became a valuable member of the Sport Chalet Mountain Shop Team which afforded me the opportunity to purchase cutting-edge bicycle equipment at a deep discount: Smokes, Darts, RockShox Mag 21, Scott AT-2 bars, Onza “death-trap” pedals, Shimano 747s, Nike Ngubas, the list goes on.
I know what you’re saying, you’re saying, “Okay… so basically you know as much as Ned Overend, John Tomac and Tinker Juarez combined, and you know how to eat properly, but what about road cycling?”
It’s a fair question. In 1996 I had been riding Mountain Bikes for four years. I loved it. It was great. I rode at night a with the help of my NiteSun Team Issue Dual Beam light system. I rode through the winter because winter essentially doesn’t exist in Los Angeles. I rode all the time, it’s all I did. As such, I was basically on my way to becoming a full-fledged biker. The thing this is, you can’t bike like I was biking without getting exposed—through no fault of your own—to road cycling. And bottomline, to be a full-fledged biker you have to do some road stuff too. Also, by that time I was already riding in top-of-the-line Pearl Izumi shorts and I knew my way around clip-in pedals. Plus YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND I’m a WP which means the whole time I was skateboarding on the outside I was also secretly running to keep the weight off, and because I can’t help myself, on the inside. Which means I can’t help but be predisposed to jock stuff, even if the Poet in me loathes jock stuff. Road cycling is, as you know, 1000% jock stuff.
And then, like a lighting strike one summer afternoon, my buddy Rick was like, “Hey Daniel, I’ll give you this red Cannondale CAAD 4 for that snowboard and the rest of your weed.”
And that was that. I bought some Speedplay pedals, a pair of Northwaves, I put on my best sleeveless Hind spandex top, my red-white-and-blue Giro Hammerhead, my Camelbak with the black straps and my Sony Sport Discman, and I rode over to the Rose Bowl on a Tuesday night for the Gentlemen’s Circle Race. Did I make any friends that first night?—Nope. Did I ride with my headphones on?—You bet. Was that dangerous?—Not for me. Did I chop some wheels?—You know what, to this day I’m not even sure what chopping a wheel really means but I think it happens in the corners. Did I overlap and skid and generally ride sketch?—Maybe, but again, is that stuff even important? What is important? On that day The Wolf was born. Are there any other questions before we get started?