Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tattoos of the peloton #11 - Gordon McCauley

Gordon McCauley

Oceania Pro Tour winner for the 2005/06 season.
4-Time New Zealand National Road Race Champion
2-Time New Zealand National Time Trail Champion

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dave Z Talk Radio

Dave Zabriskie, CSC rider. Time trialist. You can now listen to his deepest thoughts on cycling and life. It's basically DZ monologues: DZ as Jim Morrison (singing), DZ lactating (I'm not kidding), Tips on "How to Keep it Real."

... frickin' hilarious.

Here is "Inside My Mind #7" July 14, 2006:

I was in a group with Tom Boonen and we saw some cows on the side of the road.

Tom said "Dave, you see those cows on the side of the road?"

I said "Yes, Tom."

Tom said "That's what happens when cyclists die, we become cows and eat dirt."

I said "Wow, I can't wait."

In fact, on July 13, 2006, the day before, Dave finished 117th and Tom finished 120th, in the same group of about 20 riders, 40 minutes behind the leaders (Menchov, Leipheimer and Landis) on Stage 11 of the Tour, one of the most difficult mountain stages of the 2006 Tour.

206 km, 3Cat 1s and one HC climb( the Toumalet) and then the final 1,860-meter Cat 1 climb to Pla-de-Beret with an average gradient of five and a half percent. Brutal is the only way to decribe this stage.

Boonen commented after the stage:

"I've been riding on my bike for seven hours, I've climbed five cols... tomorrow, there's a stage of 212 kilometres, and after that, a stage of 230 kilometres... I think that's just great," Boonen said sarcastically. "This is scandalous, it's over the top. I'm also supporting the battle against doping, but with these sorts of stages, the battle will never be won," he said. See

After 7 hours and all that climbing, no wonder Tom and DZ were contemplating death and reincarnation.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rise Above

Twenty five years ago this month, Black Flag released Damaged. At roughly 35 minutes, it is 15 songs of pure west coast hardcore. They were one of the innovators of the California hardcore sound. In fact, even the late Kurt Cobain cited their "My War" album as being one of the biggest influences on his music.



Thursday, December 28, 2006

If All Hecklers Were Muppets...

Remember these guys?

As I was leaving the court house a few days ago, I noticed a woman sitting just inside the security check points. Similar to the security at airports, one must pass through a metal detector to get into the Daley Center. There are usually about 6- 8 deputies at each check point. You have to put your bags, coats etc. on the conveyor belt and pass through the metal detector. If it goes off you get checked with one of those wands. Just like at the airport, just before the main morning and afternoon calls, it can be quite busy.

Anyways, this woman was literally heckling the sheriff deputies. Not just randomly, but by name.

Bill, Bill... oink, oink, oink... heh, heh, heh, that's one got a gun, I know it. Bill, I said you missed it. Ooohh, you're gonna get fired that one. She's got a knife. Whadda you think you're doing. Oink, oink... heh, heh, heh.

She'd stop and then a few moments later, she'd start in again. The deputies seemed to take it all in stride. They didn't try to make her leave or anything, they just kept doing their jobs.

I thought, "well, that's gotta suck, getting heckled at your job." How would I react if someone sat behind me saying things like "Jim, what the hell do you think you're doing? You missed that argument or where the hell did you learn to write?" In my efforts to tie all things in life to cycling, I started thinking about the heckling cyclists endure when they race.

There are some well known episodes of heckling of pro racers.

Lance Armstrong was taunted all the way up Ventoux at the 2002 Tour with calls of "dopé, dopé", as he was chasing Richard Virenque and Alexandre Botcharov.

Similarly, who can forget the Alpe d'Huez ITT where Armstrong (and other riders) endured severe heckling. Spectators gave Armstrong the bird, spit on him and wrote 'F*** Armstrong' on the road. Some of these guys were yelling right in his ear as he passed by. Armstrong said at the time that it gave him extra motivation.

Then there's the good-natured heckling Canadien Geoff Kabush gave his American counter-parts at the 2004 US Nationals Cross Champs.

Any verbal abuse riders have endured pales in comparison with the physical abuse some riders have had to put up with.

The most famous of which is probably from the 1975 Tour when Eddy Merckx was punched by a spectator. On the climb to Puy de Dôme, Merckx struggled, lagging behind eventual winner Bernard Thèvenet and 1976 champion Lucien van Impe. As Merckx was trying to bridge the gap a spectator jumped out and punched him in the kidneys. Doubled up by the blow, Merckx finished the stage winded. Hard to say whether this incident cost him what, at the time would have been an unprecedented sixth Tour. The following day, the perpetrator of the blow was waiting at the stage start; he was arrested after Merckx identified him, but was later released without charge.

Some riders have retaliated. In Overijse, Belgium, on December 18, 2005 , Bart Wellens crossed the line first in a cyclocross race, but was disqualified for kicking a spectator. Wellens told Belgian

For four laps, I had mud and beer thrown at me. The fifth time it was just too much for me. I didn't really intend to hit him, and I regret what I've done, but I think that as a rider I don't have to put up with everything.

After the fifth time he did something.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

PEZ Rules!

PEZCycling News is my favorite cycling news site. I like their words, but I like their pictures even more. I'm not talking about the "Daily Distractions", although those are very nice, I'm talking about the "Pelo Pics."

Each day they give you one or two new pictures, each with a brief description. What I like most about PEZ is that they not only use current race photos, but also older shots. It's important to know from where you came.

By the end of the month, you have a gallery of 30 or so excellent shots that capture the heart and in many cases the soul of cycling.

From Lance at the 93 GhentWevelgem to Gary Fisher in a leather suit. From Nys holding the "cup" to Boonen and Bettini fighting for the Worlds jersey. Lemond on the Coors Classic podium and Roche at Paris-Roubaiz in 1985. From cyclocross to derny racing.

Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rest in Peace

James Brown died yesterday, he was 73 years old. In a word, Brown was hardcore. Dedicated beyond belief to the ultimate stage performance.
He was known variously as "the Godfather of Soul," "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Soul Brother Number One" and "Mr. Dynamite."
The Hardest Working Man in Show Business had performed 100 shows in 2006 and was preparing to play another one on New Year's Eve.
He was known for his funk, his moves and also his righteousness- lobbying President Reagan for MLK day and writing songs like 1968s "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)." He also demanded perfection from his bands, fining members for missing cues.
It is hard to find any modern music that was not affected by James Brown.
"I would like to pass on the want to do something," he told CNN in 2000. "The need is there. Good lyrics are good things, but I would like to pass on that drive, that vigorous undying determination."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lance was no Santa Claus

Stage 17, 2004 tour, Armstrong surged past Kloden to take the stage, his 3rd in a row.

After the stage, Armstrong explained why he brought back Klöden's last kilometre attack with such a concerted effort.

As I stepped up to the top of the podium, Bernard Hinault met me at the top of the steps and said 'perfect.' No gifts, no gifts this year. I've given gifts in the Tour de France and very rarely has it ever come back to help me. And this is the biggest bike race in the world and it means more than any bike race in the world and it means more to me than any bike race in the world. And I wanna win. No gifts.

Lance was referring to his "letting" Marco Pantani take the win at Mont Ventoux at stage 12 of the 2000 Tour.
No stocking stuffers from Mr. Armstrong.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bring the bling

The ultimate in bling. The spinner wheels. For $219, a set can be yours. Unfortunately they only come in 20" now, but the company says they have plans to make 26" this Spring. That's what I need on my MTB. And for a fraction of the cost of those other wheels I've been eyeing. I wonder if they'll ever make them for the road?
To quote Chris Rock "... they're still spinnin'..."

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Kind of cool. Saw this on the Velonews web-site. An ad for Trialtir custom clothing featuring the Pony Shop.

Best laid plans...

All week I had been making plans to ride outside over the 4-day weekend 12/23 - 12/26. Four good long rides- the perfect time to get some good base miles. It even looked like the weather was going to cooperate.
Then... I woke up Friday morning with a slight sore throat. I popped a few Wellness (echinacea etc.) tabs and went to work. Towards the end of the day, I started to get the chills and when I got home, my temperature was 100.7.
Now, on Saturday morning, it's at 99.1, so going down, but it is the aches and chills that sap all of my energy right now. I am now exiled to the couch under two blankets, alternately hot and then cold, hot and then cold.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tattoos of the peleton #10

Magnus Backstedt.

He is consistently one of, if not the biggest riders in any race. In this year's tour he was the biggets at 90 kg or 198 lbs. He suffered an injury early in 2006 that caused him to sit out the classics.
2 quotes from his website:

Favorite race: Roubaix...are there other races on the calendar?

Sum yourself up in a maximum of ten words: Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory last forever!

Here are some of his results:

4th Paris Roubaix

1st Paris Roubaix
2nd Gent Wevelgem
2nd CSC Classic

1st Stage 19 - Tour de France

Just the Paris-Roubaix win alone puts him in an elite class of riders.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let her dunk!

Tennessee's Candace Parker dunked again Wednesday night, but for the first time, she was called for a technical foul.

Parker had her fifth career dunk and third this season with 12:56 left in the first half against West Virginia on Wednesday night. She stole the ball at one end and jammed it in with one hand at the end of a fast break. This time, Parker's dunk was more emphatic with the rim making a louder thud, and she finished by popping her jersey. The officials immediately conferred with each other and called a technical foul.

Parker has dunked 5 times in her career, including twice in one game, a first for a woman player.

Male players can basically hang from the rim, under the guise of steadying themselves before they let go, thump their chest etc. but with this kind of call, women are expected to only shoot the ball, not dunk it.

This attitude cannot be tolerated. It is the same attitude that prevailed 40 years ago when it was commonly thought that women could not fun a full marathon and were prohibited from racing in the Boston Marathon. Until, Kathrine Switzer registered for the 1967 Boston Marathon as K. Switzer and despite even a race official's attempt to remove her from the race, finished it in 4 hours 20 minutes.

Photo: AP/Wideworld Photo

The referees should call the sport the same way whether men or women are playing. To do otherwise sends the wrong message.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Amen. Brother.

Mark McCormak, shown here in the US PRO Champion jersey recently announced that he was retiring from the pro road peleton. Basically, he could no longer make enough money to support himself and his family by racing the bike. He was interviewed at the National Cyclocross Championships where he took 9th place in the Elite championship race and 2nd place in the Strawberry Elite Cup on the final day of the 2006 California Giant Berry Farms.

VN: Do you see yourself still racing masters races in 10 years like Ned
Overend or Steve Tilford?
MM: I hope so. I admire guys like that. Paul Curley, the guy who taught me the sport of cyclo-cross back in 1985, here he is in the 50-plus race. I admire that. I've been in the sport for so long that it will always be a part of me. I live in a region where there is racing every weekend for road and mountain-bike and 'cross. If bike racing is still a sport in 20 years, I will be doing it. Go Here for full interview.

Hardcore. Ride, race until you cannot.

Cycling is breath. Breath is life. Therefore, cycling is life. Cycling defines me. While I am many other things: a husband, a father, a son, a lawyer, a friend etc. I am simply not as good at those things without cycling. It may be a stretch to say that cycling makes me a better person, but it certainly makes me stronger in everything else that I do.

Here's a list of McCormack's results:

3rd - McLane Pacific Downtown Criterium3rd - McLane Pacific Foothills Road Race
1st Chris Thater Memorial
1st Tour of Connecticut
1st - Stage #1 International Tour de Toona
1st - Stage #5 International Tour de Toona
1st - Tour of Grandview Criterium
2nd Overall- International Tour de Toona
Stage Winner - Stage 1, Tour of Connecticut
USPRO National Champion
4th - Wachovia USPRO Championships
2nd - T-Mobile International
3rd - USPRO Criterium Championships
2nd - Wachovia Invitational
1st - Extran Pro Am Challenge
1st - Gastown Grand Prix
1st - Sequoia Cycling Classic Road Race
1st - San Rafael Cycling Classic
1st - Sequoia Cycling Classic Road Race
4th - McClane Pacific Classic Road Race

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tyler's back... looking to the future

Oleg Tinkov, a rider and racer himself, is the main backer of the Tinkoff Credit Sytems team which will race as professional continental team in 2007. He made some waves by signing Danilo Hondo and Tyler Hamilton. He is expecting to get invites to many Pro-Tour events including the Giro. Hamilton is ready to race after serving a 2 year suspension for blood doping.

Tinkov recently commented:

Tyler will have a good year. Look, it is clear he has served his time.

That is far from a "Believe Tyler" vote of confidence. It is more like a "I don't write the rules, I simply follow them" kind of statement. Akin to, Tyler served his time, now he can race, so get over it.

Tyler has not been idle during his suspension. He continued to train and race in some non-sanctioned races until the UCI and USA Cycling threatened to suspend other racers for racing with him. He won the Mt. Washington Hill Climb this year, a climb for which he held the record until Tom Danielson broke it.

When asked about his suspension, Hamlton said "I'm not interested in lamenting about the past at this point. I'm only thinking about the future."

There's a few ways to look at Tyler's return.

He cheated, but he paid his debt to society and served his time. This is his opportunity to shine and show everyone what he can do: hopefully clean.

He cheated, he shouldn't even be allowed to race at all. He should crawl back into the hole from whence he came.

He didn't cheat, he lost 2 years of his career and now's his chance to put the smackdown on those that falsely accused him and did not believe in him: WADA, the UCI, the Pro Tour teams... everyone.

However you see it, I know I am only hoping that he doesn't test positive... for anything... ever.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Dream Team

Paolo Bettini, Italian, age 32, the current Olympic and World champion.

Tom Boonen, Belgian, age 26- the 2005 World champion.

Two of the greatest one day racers in the peleton. Between the two of them they have won almost 100 races, including:

Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Bettini twice)
Tour stages (Bettini and Boonen)
Giro stages(Bettini)
Vuelta stages (Bettini)
Paris-Roubaix (Boonen)
Flanders (Boonen twice)
Milan-San Remo (Bettini)
Giro Lonbardia (Bettini)

Spring classics, Fall Classics, stage wins in almost every stage race and of course World Championships. Any director would be ecstatic to have one of these riders on his team let alone both of them.

There was some speculation that Bettini would leave Quickstep this year, but he did not. Most likely because Quickstep is one if not the best in the Classics. They make no bones about it. In fact, their manager, Patrick Lefevre has publicly claimed that Quickstep is the best classics team.

The challenge for Lefevre is going to be how and when to give both of these talented racers their own opportunities to shine. A quick review of Quickstep's 2006 line-ups revealed only Milan-San Remo where the two rode together. However, this year both Bettini and Boonen have indicated that they both want to win Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Certainly, the team sponsors want the rainbow jersey to be at as many races as possible. Last year with Boonen and now this year with Bettini.

Picture from

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Landis: "I don't see myself as a bike racer"

There is an often quoted maxim in legal theory, perhaps said best by Benjamin Franklin :

It is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer.
This is why criminal defendants must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This basically means you're 99% sure he did it. This is a very high burden that the State must carry. In the civil context, a plaintiff must merely show that the defendant is liable by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e. it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable: 51%.
In an interview with Belgian press, Floyd Landis seemed resigned to the fact that his career as a cyclist was most likely over, commenting: "Even if I'm not suspended, who will want to sign me?"

He also said the following:

I've never taken testosterone, I would have been stupid to because you just can't get away with it (in doping tests)," he said. "What it comes down to is that I'm being accused of stupidity more than doping.
And that he wants a simple wish for Christmas,

To have a day without any worries. This whole affair has ruined my life. My father-in-law committed suicide. There must be a link to what happened. He was my best friend and my biggest supporter.

I don't know where the truth lies. The tests appear to work, i.e. the tests are backed up by science. But, Landis would have been an idiot to dope during the race given the number of tests he would face as stage and race leader. Also, his tests both before and after this stage were within acceptable parameters.

What if he is innocent. Are the tests that air tight that they cannot be challenged? Some have criticized Landis for challenging the results, but would you if you were accused of something you didn't do? Wouldn't we all? And wouldn't you fight it with whatever arguments you could raise, no matter how technical they may be?

When I read the Landis quotes above, I could not stop thinking, what if he really is innocent? Losing the Tour title and his career is one thing. Losing a family member also because of it is incomprehensible.

What if he didn't do it?

Go here for a complete discussion about the legal quote and see v-news for full Landis story.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Go Ned Go!

Ned Overend, of Durango, Colorado won the 50-54 Master Cylcocross U.S. championship yesterday. Becasue of call-ups for other riders, he started in the middle of the 68 rider field. That didn't matter as he was at the front by the middle of the first lap. When asked about riding in the elite race, Overend said "Nah, I'm done, it's time to drink some beer." See v-news.

Ned took second in this year's Mt. Washington Hillclimb, only behind Tyler Hamilton. Ned also placed fourth in 2005. At the start, Ned sprinted ahead of everyone else, then was briefly overtaken by half a dozen riders, and promptly passed all of them except Hamilton to finish in 54:41.
He was the first ever world mountain bike champion and a multi-time national mountain bike champion.

He retired from pro MTB in 1996 when he was 41. Then he started racing the XTERRA Tri series, basically triathlons in the the dirt. Not many riders continue to race after they retire. Ned, now 51, continues... hardcore.

Here's a list of some of his results:

1st Grand Junction Stage Race
1st Morgul Bismarck Road Race
2nd Fountain Mountain Triathlon
1st Iron Horse Road Race (2nd Overall Stage Race)
3rd Colorado State Road Race
35th Coors Classic
2nd Mt. Evans Hill Climb
1st Road Apple Rally
Colorado State Best All-Around Rider

4th Iron Horse Road Race (2nd Overall Stage Race)
2nd Colorado State Road Race
1st Pacific States Suntour MTB series
1st Crested Butte MTB Stage Race
2nd NORBA National Championships
2nd Iron Horse Road Race1st Iron Horse MTB Race
2nd Colorado State Road Race
1st Mt. Evans/Bob Cook Memorial Road Race
1st Pacific States Suntour MTB series
1st Crested Butte MTB Stage Race
1st Road Apple Rally
5th NORBA National Championships
1st NORBA National Points Series
Colorado Best All-Around Rider (Road)

1st Iron Horse Road Race
1st Iron Horse MTB Race
1st Colorado State Championships
1st Mt. Evans/Bob Cook Memorial Road Race
16th National Road Race Championships
2nd Munsingwear International Stage Race
1st NORBA National Championships
1st Iron Horse Road Race
3rd Nevada City Road Race
2nd Mt. Evans/Bob Cook Memorial Road Race
1st Rage in the Sage
1st Revenge of the Siskiyous
1st Colorado State Championships (MTB)
NORBA National Champion
1st NORBA National Points Championships
1st European World Championships
1st NORBA World Championships (XC and Hill Climb)

3rd Iron Horse Classic MTB Race
1st Colorado State Championships
2nd NORBA National Championships
2nd European World Championships
1st NORBA World Championships (XC and Hill Climb)
1st Road Apple Rally

1st NORBA National Championships
4th NORBA World Championships
1st Mammoth NORBA National
1st King of the Rockies MTB Stage Race
UCI World MTB Champion
1st NORBA National Championships
Inducted: Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

1st NORBA National Championships
1st Park City MTB World Cup
1st Road Apple Rally

1st NORBA National Championships

1st Place Swiss MTB World Cup
1st Place Italian MTB World Cup

1st Colorado State Road Championships
1st Road Apple Rally

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tattoos of the peloton #9

Jamie Staff, English cyclist. He started out in BMX and was the 1996 World BMX Champion.

In 2001 he rode at the X-Games and took 4th in the Downhill BMX. Since then he has moved to the track where he has also had success:

2002 Bronze Kilo (England), Commonwealth Games
2002 Silver Team Sprint (England), Commonwealth Games
2002 Gold Team Sprint, World Championships
2003 Silver Sprint, National Championships
2003 Silver Sprint, World Cup, Mexico
2003 Gold Kilometre, World Cup, Mexico
2003 Gold Team Sprint, World Cup, South Africa
2004 Gold Keirin, UCI Track World Championships Melbourne
2004 Bronze Team Sprint, World Championships, Melbourne
2006 Silver Team Sprint, Commomwealth Games, Melbourne

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Straight from Pez. The new Predictor-Lotto kit. Black, salmon with a splash of red. These guys look psyched to be in the salmon and black. Is it PRO? Only belgian knee warmers can say for sure.

I suppose it could have been worse given the salmon/pink packaging of the product.

Or it could have been all pink like the Team Terry kits(yes I know that's a women's team).

Predictor-Lotto just doesn't sound as good as Davitamon-Lotto. I think I'm just going to call them Lotto or better yet, P-Lotto as in P-Funk. As in Parliament- Funkadelic.

As in Parliament "I am George muther-f**kin' Clinton and you better get on the goddamn mothership and shake your ass" Funkadelic.

You gotta love a band whose every song is about one thing and one thing only: "the funk." Nothing else. All funk all the time.

Make my funk the P.Funk... I wants to get funked up... I want the bomb, (P.Funk) I want the Funk... I want my funk uncut. Make my funk the P.Funk.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bling, Bling- Spoke POV

Pac-man anyone? Spoke POV (persistence of vision) for your wheels. It can be used with road, mountain or BMX wheels. When you roll, this is what you will see. It's basically a set of LED's and magnets attached to the wheels, when the wheels roll they cause the the LED's to blink. Some electronic hardware and software is involved.

You can go here to buy the do-it-yourself kit and here for help in setting it up.

Here are some other patterns that have been used. Some of you will appreciate this one, you know who you are, for the sake of anonymity, I won't tell.

For the doping cyclist we have the bio hazard symbol.

Here's an idea: when a suspended rider comes back to the pro peleton, make them ride with a set of these on their wheels. It'll let everyone know about their infraction as well as making the bike a bit heavier.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tattoos of the peleton #8

23 year old Italian, Elia Rigotto. Stars on the tris. He got his first professional win at stage 6 of the 33rd Tour Méditerranéen in February 2006. He was leading out for Zabel and ended up winning himself.
Rigotto commented:
With one kilometer to go, I went to the head of the peloton. Leading the group, I entered a tunnel with lots of speed and Zabel on my wheel but when we exited the tunnel I saw that I had a gap on the field which is when I decided to go for the win.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

Not a leaf moves...

Augusto Pinochet, the notorious dictator of Chile, died yesterday at the age of 91. He is quoted as having said "Not a leaf moves in this country if I'm not moving it."See CNN.

On September 11, 1973 Pinochet staged a coup overthrowing democratically elected President Salvador Allende. Most believe this coup was backed by the US.

Pinochet ruled Chile for the next 17 years. Under his rule, at least 3,000 people were killed for political reasons. He disbanded Congress, banned political activity and crushed dissent. In addition to the dead, more than 1,000 victims remain unaccounted for. Thousands more were arrested, tortured and forced into exile.

When investigators uncovered coffins that had been stuffed with two bodies each in the aftermath of the coup, he dismissed it as a "a good cemetery space-saving measure."

CNN reported that Pinochet showed little regard for the concept of human rights. During an interview Pinochet stated:

Human rights, that's an invention of the Marxists.
Not only was he murderer, but he was a thief as well. In 2004, Chilean investigators found that Pinochet had stashed nearly $27 million in overseas bank accounts. Efforts to bring him to justice were frustrated by his failing health.
What is it with these old dudes living into their 90s and never taking resposibility for the death and chaos over which they presided? See previous post re: South Africa's Botha.
Where is the justice?

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Assos. Pro-formance

Just got back from a ride. Left out at 9:00 a.m. First ride with the new Assos 851 and I am impressed. It was 26 degrees when I left the house with 15-25 mph winds out of the SW.

We decided to head south first, since it's always better to have the wind at your back on the way back. So it was the lakefront for us, down to the South Shore Cultural Center and back, 40 mi.

Even with the head/cross wind, my core was toasty. The wind proof material is in all the right places, chest, tops of the arms shoulder etc. I wore a long sleeve base layer (I like Craft), a long sleeve jersey and the 851. Comfortable ride the whole way. The jacket fits more like a jersey than a coat. Assos puts 4 pockets on the back, presumably because you carry more crap in the cold. So even with more crap, the pockets don't feel too full and the jacket doesn't bunch or creep up in the back.

It just felt good to be on the bike, outside not inside on the trainer. It's been down right frickin' cold here, especially in the morning when I train. Too cold and too dark to ride outside, as the sun doesn't even start to come up until almost 6:45.

Then it was on to Metropolis Coffee, one of our sponsors, for the mandatory post ride java. An americano light on the water hit the spot. The other patrons looking at us like we're crazy. Well, we are crazy. Crazy about bikes, crazy about riding. I was just happy to be outside again, riding with a few friends. It's supposed to be warmer tomorrow, so I expect the same.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Koppenberg - momentum killer

The Koppenberg was a mainstay in the Tour of Flanders until 1987 when Jesper Skibby got his bike run over by the race commisaire. He was out in front alone with a slight lead on the group... until he hit the Koppenberg. He lost his momentum, stopped, but the car had to keep going because the group was quickly approaching, so, they ran him over.

It is a cobbled climb of 600 meters ascending at an average rate of 11.6% and 22% at its steepest. Here's what it looked like in 1990- before repairs were made. Where's the line? Where the hell do you go?

Here's a shot from 2002, after repairs were made and it was widened.

Didn't really matter though, because in the 2006 edition, shown below, the group chasing the 3 leaders still had to stop and walk.

Go here for more photos on the Koppeneberg from 2006. Absolute chaos. Riders almost coming to a standstill and falling sideways, not even enough time to unclip. Less than 10 riders made it to the top on their bikes in the 2006 Tour of Flanders. The rest had to walk. These are the pros, right? The best of the best, the fastest of the fast. The Koppenberg humbles all, takes no prisoners and spits you out at the top, lungs gasping, legs quaking. The Koppenberg is out of this years edition of the Tour of Flanders because of serious degradation due to erosion. The organisers of the race stated:

As the organisers, we don't want to run the risk that the sporting development will be too heavily influenced by non-sporting factors. Despite the enormous effort of people and the means to marshal the section, we have to realise that we don't hold all the factors in our hand. In bad rain and with the current condition of the cobbles, we are asking for trouble." See

Even without the Koppenberg, Flanders is a brutal race at over 250 km. The 2007 edition still has 18 climbs. See SETH's recent post for a complete list. Yes, the grand tours are hard, but races like Flanders are the guts of cycling. Flanders is hardcore. And the Koppenberg is one of the hardest.

All photos: Graham Watson

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Treefarm- Hardcore

On December 1, 2006, Velonews reported that recent Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series winner Ryan Trebon, who races 'cross for Kona, signed to race on the road with KodakGallery/Sierra Nevada.

At 6'5", "Treefarm" is the riding definition of hardcore, currently racing 3 of the 4 cycling disciplines, leaving out only track racing. He's only 25, so maybe that's next. Essentially then, he has no off-season, as he intends on racing 'cross Worlds and the Tour of California.

On the MTB, he is the 2006 U.S. cross country champ and took 3rd in the short track. In cyclocross, as stated above, he won the 2006 Crank Bros. series. If he wins natz next weekend he will be the reigning cross country and cyclocross champ.

Commenting on road racing, Trebon said:

"I think it's awesome training for the 'cross, when you're out there racing for like five hours and you're really depleted and towards the end, you're just hanging on," Trebon said. "Those guys, they're pretty fast, and when they are going, you're just head down, suffering pretty good. That's all 'cross racing is, especially in Europe. You just have to learn to suffer through these fast laps. Everyone tells me I should race on the road, that it's a better fit for 'cross. I think you get those real hard accelerations, and it teaches you to suffer more. In mountain biking, you can only go as hard as you can. In road you have to go as hard as everyone else to keep up."

His blog is pretty funny too, check out the link at right.

Photo: Jonathan S. McElvery

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Proposed Sheridan Rd. sign

That's right. We get the lane. Cars change lanes to pass. This is an actual road sign from CA.

Seriously though, how many times do you get honked at on Sheridan Rd? Some times we probably deserve it, especially when everyone spreads out for the sprints, but more often than not it's some jackass who needs to get to the Starbuck's 30 seconds faster. Common sense would dictate that if you approach a group of cyclists, one should slow down and make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Yet, Joe NASCAR tries to see how close he can get to us while punching the gas to get it into overdrive and laying on the horn. As if we can't hear him already.

I'd like to get some stickers made that would be transparent so you could read them from the inside of the car. When a driver got too close etc., we could ride along side the car and slap it on the driver's side window. They could say things like:

"Share the Road Asshole"
"If you hit and kill me, my wife will get your house and car"
"Back off, these bikes are worth more than your car"

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


The package is PRO.

Assos tissue paper...

reveals the Assos 851.

Smile for your close-up.
The best.
It comes with a set of Assos trading cards.

Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine...

Monday, December 4, 2006

Hardcore Cyclocross State Championship

A cold, cold, cold day confronted cyclocross racers in Chicago Sunday. We set out to see the 35+, 45+, Women's 1/2/3 and Men's 1/2 races. Temperatures hovering below 20 degrees confronted us. I can only imagine what the people racing felt. Multiple layers of clothing, flasks of whiskey, cowbells and of course coffee rule the day. I was so cold it hurt to have my hands out of the gloves, so I only got a few pictures.

Conditions like these deter all but the hardest core. It would have been a perfect day for the PRO all-white race kits.

So damn cold, only the hardcore need apply.

Go Kris go! Finished 4th on the day. She's thinking about coffee.

Here's Chris Strout coming up the same hill.

Chris, again, coming around the turn at the top of the last hill, ended up 5th.
Lou navigating one of the turns, which all looked very slick. Lou took 4th.
Illinois 45+ champ: Josh Mallan

From left: Dave Gordon, Bob Isaac, me, Tony B., Ed Roles. Freezing!