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The Ring: A Collection of Voices

Wankmeister: Going for the Throat

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Seth Davidson / Yuzuru Sunada

I have greatly reduced my time on Facebag. I’m ashamed to admit it, but before I went lukewarm turkey, I was spending up to four hours a day on it. That’s four metric hours, and sometimes more. I told this to DJ, who’s an engineer. “Dude,” I said. “I’m spending four fuggin’ hours a day on Facebag. Metric hours, man.”

“Seth,” he said.

“Yes?”

“Time isn’t a metric unit.”

“Oh,” I said, relieved that there wasn’t yet another aspect of the metric system that I was supposed to understand, but didn’t.

Nowadays I’m a lurker. I stalk the ‘bag for about thirty minutes a day or even less. I noticed for the first time that it’s pretty much the province of angry old people, new bicycles, and cats. With all of my new-found time, I began reading again.

I used to read voraciously, and it took a while to learn to read again because my brain was so wired to those little mini-jolts of excitement when something popped up on Facebag, or worse, on the Twitter. After a couple of weeks, though, I stopped expecting the pages on the book to light up with a notification or message or clever retort. My stack of books has piled high, and there’s an equally towering stack of unread ones.

I was talking with a friend about ratcheting down my Facebag activities, and he concurred. “I quit cold turkey three weeks ago,” he said.

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

“It made me so depressed. I’d see all those posts about how perfect everyone’s life is and how wonderful their kids are and what excellent relationships they all have and it made me feel like a piece of dung. It was either that, or posts about how they’d just experienced the worst day ever, or a photo from a bike crash with four teeth missing. So I quit.”

“How do you feel now?”

“Great! The only people I talk to now are, you know, real ones. And none of them are perfect. Not even a little bit.”

We laughed.

Real people, indeed

In tandem with my cancellation of the Twitter, Strava, and Linked-In, and my Napoleon-at-thegates-of-Moscow retreat from Facebag, I started riding with my youngest son, who’s sixteen. We ride on Sundays. Our first ride was from RAT Beach to the ice cream shop on the Redondo Pier and back. Our second ride was to the frappucino spigot at the Sckubrats in Hermosa and back to RAT Beach. The third week we tackled something big: we rode from Pregnant Point down Paseo del Mar, up the Lunada Bay bump onto PV Drive, and from there to the frappucino spigot at the Golden Cove Sckubrats. Then we returned to Pregnant Point and called it a day with a solid 10-mile ride.

I would like to tell you that my youngest son is a natural-born cyclist. After all, he’s been around it all his life. I’d like to tell you that he has the perfect build for a road racer — he’s compact, lean, and has long legs. I’d like to lay out our plans for an all-out assault on cycledom as he learns the ropes.

But you see, it’s not really like that, even though he does have the perfect build. First of all, I’m a terrible coach. What the hell do I know about cycling anyway? And I don’t care how people ride as long as they don’t fall down or get picked off by a car. Truthfully, he’s not really a natural, which makes sense, because neither am I. And he’s not one of those kids who loves to compete.

I’m pretty sure that if you showed him your jugular, he’d want to know what it was connected to … he wants to be a doctor, not the Cannibal or a forcat de la route. In a way it’s depressing to think I have a child who is interested in something that might result in a job, as if he’s repudiated the Davidson family history. But I will adapt.

On that ten-miler day we took our first breather just where the road rises up from the Lunada Bay vista. Then we pedaled, with mucho effort, up to PV Drive. Rest Stop Number Two. Then we gritted our teeth and made it to the Starbucks. Mucho mas tiempo was spent drinking frapps and gazing at the ocean and talking about science. I also learned that in mid-1800′s Italy there was no right-wing reactionary party, and that the nation’s unification involved moderates, liberals, and anarchists.

Who knew?

What other people care about isn’t always what you care about

We pedaled back to Pregnant Point, and the next day he said that his legs were “real sore.” I thought about that.

The following week we did the same route, but instead of stopping at Golden Cove we continued along PV Drive to the top of the hill just before you descend to the glass church. We turned around there and fought a stiff headwind for two long miles all the way back to the frappucinos, which tasted better than good. Did I mention that the frappucinos tasted good?

As we sat there I remembered riding along the seawall in Galveston with my dad and my brother. No one ever coached me or told me how to ride, probably because no one knew any more than I did. The only advice I ever got, in fact, was to “Watch out!” when I stopped paying attention one day and rode off the 15-foot seawall onto the granite boulders below. It’s miraculous that I wasn’t killed, if you believe in miracles. Otherwise, I was just another dumb-lucky little kid.

My son and I drove home from Pregnant Point, still talking about Italy in the 1800′s. We had a big dinner, which tasted as good as one of those dinners you have after a 100-mile beatdown with the fast riders. The beer I washed it down with tasted special as well. We both went to bed early and I slept a deep, uninterrupted, profound, and satisfied sleep. I’m hoping that maybe he did, too.