Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007

Best race:
Even though I had the most fun racing cross, my best result was the Palos Meltdown. I hope they do that race again next year. With the Chicago Cross Cup expanding to at least 7-8 races and maybe more (a tenantive schedule is already out) I will have alot of cross racing opportunities. There's even been some rumors of some Spring Cult Cross races. We can only hope.

Best PRO race: Paris-Roubaix. Not just because of O'Grady's attack and win in hot and dusty conditions, but also because of CSC's team effort and sense of camaraderie as evidenced by Cancellara's post race comment:
As a defending champion, I'm very happy because I haven't lost it; we have won again as a team. I know what's on in Stuart's head now. It's a lot of joy. We'll celebrate it at the same hotel where we did it for me last year. In cycling, the sense of sacrifice must always be present. I already paired with Stuart in the finale of a classic last year in Zurich. It's a day of big cycling today; our whole team has done a great job.
Best photo:

Aiko Trail, Winter Park.
Bar width trail, a super down low trail at that. Even though this trail was only about 3 miles long, it was the most fun of the whole Winter Park trip. So much fun, that we immediately turned around, climbed back up and rode it again.

Best new piece of gear.
Got to be the cross bike.

2nd Place.




Close. Hard to choose between the new DEDA bars and stem vs. the Assos Roubaix F.I. Mille Bib Knickers. I gotta go with the DEDA though for 2 reasons. First, the shallow drop was just what I needed to be able to ride in drops more often and second, I only raced in the knickers once (Hales Corners) and while I wholeheartedly agree with Competitive Cyclists' review, I need some more rides in them.

Friday, December 21, 2007

GFJ Hardcore Award- Jonathon Page


I have alot of respect for Jonathon Page: living and racing a discipline that is so Euro.

He gets the GFJ Hardcore Award for the following:

He races the Superprestige in the Netherlands on Sunday, December 9, 2007, won by Sven Nys, flies to the states, races the US Cross Championships on Sunday, December 16, 2007, and places 2nd, flies back to Europe and races the 3rd Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium, today, December 21, 2007, placing 7th only 25 seconds behind 4th place Sven Nys.

So that's 3 races, 4537 miles of travel (each way) in 12 days.
Photo: velonews.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Trebon crash

Seems to me that this could have been avoided by a couple of different course designs:

1. Having some space between the 2 lanes of traffic. This would've provided space for off-course riders.

2. If you're going to have the 2 lines right next to each other, separate them something other than just course tape, like snow fencing.

If you watch some of the other video from the race, guys are flying off the course as they come around some of the turns, in many cases taking the course tape with them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ryan Trebon 2007 cyclocross Nationals Crash

If you haven't seen this, watch it. Danger Will Robinson! Thanks to Lou for the link.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Overheard

Georgia Gould on the slick frozen mud which covered most of the KC course:

It was like the course tape was a magnet, and my bike was the other end of the magnet. Some days you can ride your bike, other days you can't.

Ain't that the truth. Gould beat Compton twice at the December rounds of the Crank Brother's U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Portland, in similar, although, probably not as cold conditions.

At Montrose I felt like the bike just didn't want to go where I was pointing it. Instead of being part of the bike and "flowing" with it, I had to fight to get control of it. In my short experience with cross, it seems like Gould is right on: some days you've got it, others you don't. That's why a series is better than a single race at determining a winner.

Source: velonews

Monday, December 17, 2007

Overheard

Todd Wells, the 2001 and '05 cyclocross champ, on his 3 laps with Jonathon Page:

Page was banging into me like it was some juiced-up Euro World Cup race.

And rubbin, son, is racin'. Damn, I wish I had been able to go just to watch. Sounds like there was some good racing.

Source: velonews

Friday, December 14, 2007

Overheard

Brandon Dwight, commenting on the Colorado state championships this past Sunday where he placed second in the Men's open behind Danny Summerhill:

When you're racing in temperatures that a penguin would appreciate, all it takes is a great course, good competition and screaming fans to make you forget the cold and focus on having fun.
Ain't that the truth. Sunday's race at Montrose Park would have been horrible without the great course and great fans yelling and ringing the cowbells.

Source: velonews

iPod Heavy Rotation

Boy, U2
Live Phish 02, 7-16-94, Phish
High Voltage, AC/DC

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Will anyone care?

The Mitchell report on performance enhancing drugs being used in baseball drops in about 2 hours.

Supposedly he names about 20 players having used steroids and other products, many of whom are/were MVPs and Allstars.

Will anyone care though? I am not a huge fan of baseball, but don't most people want to see higher scoring games with more homeruns? Will they care how those hits are/were generated?

Will the major media cover this with the depth and indignation it deserves or will they reserve that only for cycling (Floyd Landis, Vino etc.)

I hope that this will wake people. Doping is prevalent in all sports.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Busted


Cold weather + hard plastic + crashing on ice = broken hood= no brake.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A short season

So, that's it... my cross season is over. Very short for me as I got the bike on October 25, 2007 and my first race was on October 28, 2007.

Season results:

Sunrise Park: 26/30 40+
Campton Cross: 20/35 40+
LAN Oak Park: 22/36 40+
Hales Corners, WI: 8/19 40+ cat 4s
Montrose Park: 22/39 40+

5 races in 6 weeks. I scored points in all of the races I entered.

Thanks to Lou at the Pony Shop, Chris Strout, Roman, Josh Mallan, Pete R. and others for encouraging me to try it. I am so definitely hooked. I have been searching for some focus in my training and I think I have found it. If you've ever thought about trying it, do it. If I can do it, anyone can.

The most thanks goes to Tammi and Elora for putting up with me racing so much and my incessant jabber about all things cross.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Race Report(Long)- Montrose Park- IL States- Chi Cross Cup #6

EPIC! The weather always seems to be a factor for this race. Temps in the low 30s and windy. I got there at around 8:30 and found Chris Strout already there with his tent set up. Instead of setting up my own, we hung one of my tarps to give us more wind protection. While it was cold, as long you stayed out of the wind, it was alright. I set up the trainer and went out for some laps. On my way back to the car, my front tire completely washed out on patch of ice and I was down, sliding on my side. One of those crashes where you say to yourself "dumbass!" No bruises or damage to me, but when I got up... the top part of my left hood was in pieces and the brake lever was sticking out almost parallel with the ground. The rest of the bike was o.k.


The course. I think this was the best course I have raced on. It really had a "flow" to it. A wide starting straight into a soft left turn onto pavement then 2 quick turns, short straight then up cricket hill, running because of the 2 barriers at the base of the climb. Remount, down the hill, 180 turn, 2 barriers and run back up the hill, then all the way down the hill and through a soccer goal (no net of course!). More turns, then up a short hill, down, under the viaduct and back up with a single barrier. Some turns, back under the viaduct, up a short steep, then finally(!!) some straight, back through the soccor goal. A soft left, more turns, a short, steep down, equally steep up with a barrier at the very tip, top. A tricky down with a couple of tight turns, then a flat around to the start/finish. They had cleared the snow off of several sections of the course, but not all, so you would be riding/running one section on the wet muddy grass and then go into a couple inches of snow. The hill had not been cleared of snow. Lots of twisty stuff, very technical.

Set-up. Ran the Mud2s again, 38 both front and rear. Jumped on the trainer at 10:30 and kept warm until our race started at 11:00.

The start. I basically had no rear brake. I could use it, but I had to reach alot farther to grab it and it had less than half its power. I lined up second row. Whistle. And we're off. Mid pack, passed a couple riders on the first run up the hill, then as we went down the hill for the first time, I realized that the lack of a rear brake was going to really affect my ability to descend with any amount of speed as both downhill sections had about 3 inches of snow on them. Descending with no rear brake was difficult. In any kind of soft stuff, you want the front wheel to roll, brake with the rear, sit back and let it roll through. With no rear brake, I had to brake with the front and that caused the front end to get a little jittery. Maybe I should have just run the downhill too!

The Race. I settled into a group with Doc Jones and Franco. We spent the race passing each other and a couple of other people. Every time I passed them, they would catch up to me when I had a mishap with the braking situation, then I would catch back up to them. On the last lap they both stayed away.

Result. At the race they had me at 22nd, now I'm at 26th. I'm not sure how that happened. Overall, I'm happy with the result, especially since I didn't have a rear brake.

Congrats to Lou, Kevin and Chris- 1,2,3 in the 30+.

I saw Tristan work his way through the entire 3s field and lap most of the rest of the 1,2s. Poetry in motion. Watched the start of the 4s and then had to bail as I was cold and hungry.

This race tested my technical skills, which were lacking. I have alot to work on for next season.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Race Report (Short)- Montrose Park- IL States- Chicago Cross Cup #6


Tough, but beautiful course.

Snow, ice, icey snow. Very slick.

Shattered my left hood/pod while pre-riding the course- no rear brake for entire race.

Shoulder bruised and sore from carrying the bike.

Legs are noodles.

22/39. 40+.

Need to eat, drink... sleep.

I love cyclocross.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Epic

I am excited. This week it has been hard to concentrate on anything but tomorrow's race.


I watched the IL States in 2006 and 2005. While it will not be as cold tomorrow as it was for those 2 races, the conditions promise to be epic.

Good luck to everyone else racing. Bags packed. Car's packed. Bike is ready. I am ready.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Just because

Sunday forecast: Periods of light wintry precipitation. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 40%.

At lunch today, a friend confirmed that he was going to come out to the race on Sunday and see what it was all about. Another friend then asked me why anyone would want to race their bike in "this" kind of weather.

I paused for a second and said "I guess, because we can." She responded that she thought it was more a case of us proving to each other who was tougher. I laughed and said something like "yeah, that too."

Now that I've had time to think about it though, I would have a different response. It's not about proving something to someone else, it's about proving it to myself. Each race I've learned more and have gotten faster.

And, 'cross is just about the most fun I've ever had on a bicycle.

iPod Heavy Rotation

Everday, Widespread Panic
Rated R, Queens of the Stone Age
Staring at the Sea, The Cure

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Just go faster

The forecast for Sunday has changed everyday this week... progressively getting worse. Last weekend they said 40 and rainy, now its a high of 33 and light snow/freezing rain.

Whatever... after Sunday at Hales Corners I feel like I can handle the snow. One good thing about the snow is that it makes the course overall slower, so my inexperienced dismounts won't hurt me as much. The snow also makes the course more technical, but at least there won't be a sandpit on Sunday! Goddamn I struggled with that thing.

It would be cool to be a rider who excels in crappy conditions. Sunday was my first race in anything but dry ground and sunshine and all things considered, I did pretty well.

I expect Sunday's field to be bigger and stronger than any of the others I've been in. All I can do is race: go as fast as I can whenever I can.

I've really laid off this week, no intervals, just some easy spinning with some light spin-ups and sprints to keep the legs lively. I want to hit Sunday fresh and ready for some speed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

WI States HR Graph

About the same as last race, 189 high.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Race report- Hales Corners WI States

Snowed most of Saturday, then rained Saturday night, then got cold so when I went to sleep ice was everywhere. Woke up and the ice was gone and everything was melting. Figured we'd be riding in the slop. Not to be. Roman got to my place at about 6:45, we were on the road by 7:00. Figured this would give us enough time for coffee and any getting lost that might occur getting to the race venue. As we drove north, it looked like WI didn't get as much snow as we did, that is until we got close to the venue. When we got there at about 8:40, there was good 2-3 inches everywhere that was just starting to melt.

The course. I think this was the best course I've been on yet. Nicely set out. However, since we were the first race, very few riders had ridden the whole course, so we were riding in ice covered snow, you know the kind I'm talking about, the kind that is hard on top, but soft underneath: "CRACK" "Shhhlllepppppcccchhht."
A long starting straight into a soft left hand turn, hard right, sandpit then some off camber turns and into the first set of 3 widely spaced barriers, with a run-up immediately afterwards. Then the first pavement section, some quick turns, a short downhill, across the first bridge, some quick turns and then a hill, which for our race was unrideable. Down the same hill, some quick turns and back up the hill, but now with the 2nd set of 3 barriers in the middle, so run up the hill again, then some off camber turns, second bridge and a long finishing straight. With the snow and all of the running, the warm-up lap took 15 minutes! We figured we'd get 2 laps for the 30 minute 40+ cat 4s.

At 9:43 we went to the start and were advised that we'd have about 10 more minutes as part of the course wasn't marked off yet. My shoes and feet were wet and starting to get cold, so I ran back to the car and put some emrbo right on my toes. Thanks for the tip Tony. That did the trick.

Set-up. I ran the Mud 2s instead of the Razes. 40 pds. rear and 38 pds. front. Turned out to be pretty good.

The start. Everyone was joking about how the hole shot would be useless because the snow was so hard to ride through, better off letting the group go and ride some wheels until after the first lap. I lined up in the first row of 19 riders. Roman was to my right. Whistle and I push with my right foot... t h e b i k e g o e s n o w h e r e... rear wheel just spins out. I miss my left pedal and I start to fall onto my right side. This, of course, happens in slow mo. My only thought is to stay upright long enough for Roman to clear my right side, i.e the side that I am falling on. I did not want to take him out too. "Hey, dude, thanks for driving up with me... sorry I took you out at the start!" So with one foot clipped in I leaned the bike as hard to the left in a momentary pause... then down onto the snow.

Anyways, I'm on my side watching the whole field ride away. I jump up and can't get the bike moving as I am now in "unridden on" snow, so I run with the bike, get up some speed and jump on. By this time, the field is into the first turns 200 ft. or so away!

The race. Disaster strikes.. what do you do. You race MF! Anger at one's self can be a great motivator. I sprinted until I caught the last group of riders.

The snow made for a difficult race. If you could keep a straight line, you actually could get up some speed, so anytime the course got straight, I sprinted. Problem was if the front wheel just got little bit off track, it would bit into the snow sending the front end of the bike off kilter.

By the start of the second lap I had caught 5 or 6 riders. Also, I got the hang of riding in the snow. If the front tire did go awry, I got pretty good at pedaling through it. Alot of sitting back and unweighting the front wheel, like riding in sand or on a soft trail climb.

I then caught a group of 3 riders at the second set of barriers and decided to sit at the back and rest a little (if that's possible), wait until after the bridge and then try to sprint for the finish. One guy fell before the bridge and I came around the other 2 at the finish.

Result. 8th out of 19. I would be happy with any top 10 finish, but given my sucky, or to borrow an H. Simpson quote: the suckiest start that ever did suck, I think it was a complete success.

I only wish the race was longer than 2 laps because I only got the hang of the course on the second lap. So, I wouldn't do a 30 minute race again, unless I really had to.

We took advantage of the hot showers. Then went and got some food and coffee and came back to watch the 40+ and then 1/2/3s and 30+. The later races were mud fests as now there was a line that went all the way through the snow.

Well established track for the 1/2/3s. I'm not sure if we or they had better conditions.

So, onto to Montrose and the IL States on the 9th.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Plan

Wisco's cross series has a special category for old guys new to cross: 40+ cat4s.
They also have a 40+ 1/2/3/4. The 40+ cat 4 race is only 30 minutes long whereas the other races I've done were all 45 minutes. I figure I'll do the first race and then maybe do the other 40+ at 1:00, depending on the condition of the course and my legs. It will be the first race of the day, 9:45 a.m., which makes for an early departure time.

Just an easy spin this a.m. No work other than some 30 second spin ups and then some yoga. Each year that passes, another part of my body gets creaky. Used to be my knees, but since I stopped running, that's gone. Now though, it's my shoulders. Every down dog/up dog is greeted with a creak in my right shoulder. This is the shoulder I landed on last summer when I crashed on the road.

The weather looks cold and wet: classic cross.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Go Foo

Trainer ride this a.m., legs felt quick. Sometimes I get on the trainer and just can;t get into a rythm. It just feels like I'm pedaling squares. Then, other times, like today, I find a natural cadence that just feels right.

Got Foo Fighter tix for 2/25/08- presale and scored great seats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Head North

After some prodding, it looks as though I am going to venture north for the Wisco cross state championships on Sunday.

It will be good to get another race in before the Illinois race on the 9th.

Only trainer rides the last few mornings. 30 minute warm up with some spin ups to get the legs going and then 4 5 minute intervals, cool down. Takes about 75 minutes. Then yoga to keep things limber.

Intervals require a good tune to get me through. The perfect song is just a bit longer than the actual interval time so it will carry you through the start and end of the actual interval. Right now, my 2 favorite interval songs are Auto Pilot and Better Living Through Chemistry by Queens of the Stone Age.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Overheard - Treefarm

Ryan Trebon on cross racing in Europe:



I love racing in Europe but its hard – really hard. I think sometimes people don't quite grasp that fact.

One, the courses are so much more demanding than anything we race here, and it takes a couple of years to learn how to properly race a CX bike. Two, at least for me, I live, train, eat, sleep, hangout pretty much by myself over there. That's a hard thing to do for months on end, especially when the racing is so tough and you aren't getting the results you want. All you have to do is sit around and think about the racing and there is no real escape from racing. But you can't forget the fact that those guys are just damn fast and the racing never really lets up. I have never had my legs ache so bad as after doing some of the heavy races over there.


Just like road racing, cross is part of European culture, maybe even more so for cross because of how accessible the racing is. Look at any of the Youtube video from the euro races and you'll see thousands of people at each race.


So I am in my first year of "... learn[ing] how to properly race a CX bike." Each time I ride that bike I feel a little more comfortable on it and hopefully get a little faster. Now I just have to work on my dismounts.

A faster, cleaner dismount = faster through the barriers = not getting passed by so many other riders.

Faster = happier.

Source: Cyclingnews.

Monday, November 26, 2007

DW Ride Post Script

As I started cleaning the bike last night... rear tire flat. That may have accounted for my lack of speed in the soft stuff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time to clean the bike

Went out to Daniel Wright woods for the cross group ride. I. Am. Fried.

I did some intervals yesterday down around Montrose and definitely felt those efforts, but really I just lacked power in the soft stuff.

Ride leaves at 8:00. I left late and got up there at 7:55. just barely enough time to get the bike off the roof and get on it. Haste makes waste and I forgot food, so no gels or bars for the entire 3 hour ride.

I asked a couple guys I knew how the ride separated into groups and was basically told the fast group would be 3 hours at around 18 mph or so. So, I into that group, thinking that if I got dropped then next time I'd ride with a slower group. Since it was my first time with this group, I just stayed at the back, didn't really fight for any wheels. Just wanted to scope it out and get in a good workout.

On the way up I was fine. The path was mostly dry, only the frozen ruts from yesterday's riders posed any problem. But on the way back, all of those frozen ruts had melted and the path went from dry to wet to very wet and then back to dry. I struggled on the soft wet sections and finally got popped towards the end of the ride.

One hell of workout though. Now I have to clean the bike.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LAN Oak Park Cross Race HR Graph

I wore a HR monitor during the cross race Sunday. This is my HR graph from Sunday's race.
167 average. 189 high. But, look at the line, hovering right around 180... for 45 minutes straight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why yes...


... I'll take the extra shot. You gotta love it when the barista asks if you want the second shot in your morning red eye.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lan - Oak Park Chicago Cross Cup #5- Race Report

My third cross race ever. Had alot of fun, but I am sore right now. All over. Every muscle, shoulders, hips. Bring on the Vitamin I.

The course. Not alot to discuss. Flat, utterly flat. A single barrier and then a set of 3 and a sand pit. Lots of turns, but nothing off camber, nice paved sections, lots of grass and leaves. A very straight forward course that probably favored a true roadie who didn't fear the sand. The starting stretch was long and wide enough that no real bunching up occurred, at least where I was. It had rained most of Saturday, but the course was only damp on Sunday morning. Not a very exciting course, but as Lou said "everyone has to race the same course, so it's even."

Pre-race. I got there at about 8:45 hoping to get alot of re-ride in, but the course was only about 2/3 set up. Temps were in the high 30s and damp. I registered, then rode the course twice, saw that the sand pit was going to be my demise. Then kitted up, put on the embrocation and headed out. Did some sprints on the road and hit the barriers a few times. Tried the sand pit, first time didn't make it, second time, made it, but struggled. I figured if I could hit it without traffic, I could probably ride it. With about 10 minutes to go I rode back to the car and put another layer of embrocation just on my knees. That did the trick.

The start. I lined up in the front row this time, determined to hold as much ground as I could right from the start. If I faded, so be it. If you listen to what the PROS say, the first 200m in a cross race are the most important. Right before the whistle, a 6 ft. tall guy rides up and plants himself on my left with his bar in front of mine, essentially blocking my path. I gave him a death look, but didn't say anything. I slid over a little to my right and cleared my bars. Whistle went and I was o.k. Held my ground through the first turn as the group went single file. Hard left turn and then up to the first barrier.

The race. I hit the sand pit on the first lap with a group, struggled, but made it. The effort to get through was harder than I thought I wanted to use up there as the rest of the course from there to the start line was super fast, so I decided I would run the pit on the rest of the laps. With about 15 minutes to go I fell into a group of about 5 or 6. One guy on a mountain bike with discs. We would come though the first barrier and I would move to the front of the group. I would lose time in the barriers, but catch up, then get dropped in the pit. Catch up by the start line and then repeat. This happened for 4 laps (I think). 2 of the guys rode the pit and made it out ahead and 3 of us ran. Even running I was last or 2nd to last out of the pit.


Lesson learned. There's a big difference between riding an obstacle during the pre-ride and then at race pace. Lou told me that the sand was ride-able if you hit it at a sprint. I think his last words to me as our group started were "sprint out of the corner before the sand and you can make it." I let the sand intimidate me. If I had ridden it only 2 times towards the end of the race, I would have moved up 4 or 5 spots. Also, if I had cleaned the pit just once, I would have put a gap into the rest of the group and they would have had to chase me, instead of me chasing them. I'm not even sure I saved any energy by running the pit. Better to be the gapper than the gappee.

Result. 22nd out of 36. I finished at the back of a 5-6 rider group, all together.

I watched the 1,2s attack the sand pit. I need to be that aggressive. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Crosscrusade - Alpenrose Men A's Sixpack

Just a 1 hour trainer ride today, while it rained outside. I thought about getting out, but knew I wouldn't have time to fully clean a dirty cross bike before racing tomorrow.

It's going to be wet tomorrow which should be interesting as both of my previous races were dry. Lower the tire pressure and trust the sidewalls.

At least we won't have to run over 6 barriers in row like these cats.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No ride

Last night we went to a retirement party for a guy Tammi works with. He was retiring after working for 59 years. As part of his speech, he went through a partial list of the jobs he had, starting when he 11, the best, the most rewarding etc. That got me thinking about the jobs I have had:

7th grade - Freshman: Caddy, baby sitter
Sophomore - Senior 1984: Fast food place, Margie's in Westmont
Senior: Delivery, Giordano's Pizza, Delivery, Phillips Flowers
Summer: Willowbrook Park and Streets Dept. (cutting grass etc.)
College Freshman summer: painting
Sophomore: dishwasher in dorm cafeteria
Sophomore summer: painting
Junior - Senior: research assistant
Law School: Legal Assistance Foundation intern 1989- 91.
1991 - present: attorney Legal Assistance Foundation

Not that exciting of a list. The best job, well that depends. Certainly the most rewarding would be my current job. But, the best, well,without question: delivering pizzas. When else would someone pay me to drive around and listen to music all night. And we got paid in cash.

I had a few glasses of wine, so no ride today. Got up late and decided to spend the time with Elora rather than train. Lame maybe, but sometimes I feel like she's changing so fast and I miss it.


I only see her about 2-3 hours each day and that's if I'm lucky. She gets up at around 6:30 a.m., I leave at 8, I get home at around 6:30 p.m. or so and she goes to bed by 8:30. Alot of my time with her is spent either getting her out of pajama and into clothes or the reverse.

Overheard

Amy Dombroski, who won the Fort Lewis College SquawkerCross race in Colorado last week, on her addiction to cyclocross:

It is said that hatred is the strongest form of love, and I must say that my original sheer hatred has bred a strong addiction to cyclo-cross. I love these double days every weekend of flogging myself like a rented mule... It has become an art of turning something so foolish and clumsy looking, into a smooth rhythm of power and flow.

The post-race hack, the taste of blood in my lungs, the agony of pushing my body to the edge of implosion or explosion, the science of dialing tire pressure, the 200mg caffeine days, the drunken cowbell ringers, the importance of the first 200 metres have all become the bible of cyclo-cross; a religion that I worship every fall when the leaves begin to change colors.
Source: cyclingnews

I can't say I ever hated it, but it did take me a couple of seasons to even try it. The barrier thing scared the crap out of me. It took people like Lou, Holly, Chris Strout, Pete R. and Josh Mallan telling me "Dude, try it, you'll like it" over and over again for me to dive in.

Now, I am totally captivated by it. This is potentially a bad thing because it can only lead to the purchase of a tubular wheelset!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cross Practice

Got up to James Park yesterday at about 10 to 5 for cross practice... but the lights were off. Hung with Lou for awhile thinking maybe they were on a timer or something and would come on around 5 or so, but never happened, so we all left.

On a whim I decided to drive by Montrose (the same site as the Illinois state championships on 12/9) to see if lights were on there. There's an artificial turf soccer field , so I thought the odds would be good. Score! The lights were on. So I rode for a little over an hour going around the soccer field using the light poles and trees as turns. I did 2 20 minute efforts with rest in between.

It was a little chilly and the wind was howling, but the embrocation worked great. The guys playing football on the field thought I was nuts, though. When I finished one of them asked me what I was training for. I tried to explain what cyclocross was, where it came form etc., but, wrapped up in his parka, I think he still thought I was a little crazy...

Wait a minute, come to think of it... I was riding around in circles in the cold, jumping off my bike, slinging it over my shoulder and running with then jumping back on it and sprinting for the next tree.

I am a little crazy... just a little.

It's alright, it's alight, it's alight
I'm just a little crazy
It's alright, it's alright, it's alight
I'm just a little crazy

Under my skin and into my bones
I feel insanity begin to make its home
Into my vision and through my mouth
Somebody's working me to get me all strung out

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy

There goes my reason
Where's all my hope
I'm just a puppet pulled by stings to make me cope
I'm seeing nothing
What's all this noise
Could someone give me something
Just to get me through this boy

It's alright, it's alright, it's allright
I'm just a little crazy

Under my skin and into my bones
I feel insanity begin to make its home
Into my vision and through my mouth
Somebody's working me to get me all strung out

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy

Little Crazy, Rob Halford (of Judas Priest fame)


I guess that's why I really dig cross. From the outside it does appear a "little crazy." Until you try it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

iPod Heavy Rotation

Blackstar, Mos Def and Talib Kweli- thanks to Elise at work for this one.
Elephant, White Stripes
Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo y Gabriela

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Overheard

Mark Legg, Katie Compton's husband, manager, coach, mechanic on running her tubulars at 23 psi front and 25 psi rear:

If you don't feel the rim every now and then, you're running them too high.
Source: cyclingnews

Back

Back from D.C., back in the office...

The conference was good. It's good to get together with a bunch of people that do the same kind of work that I do, develop some new ideas and recharge the batteries.

Dinner and drinks and then having the conference sessions start at 8 a.m. was not conducive to getting in any kind of workout, so I didn't get a chance to ride on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. I did get out on Sunday after flying back to Chicago. I rode the Redline for about an hour and a half until it got dark.

I'll do trainer and core workouts in the a.m. this week, cross practice on Wednesday and race on Sunday.

Friday, November 9, 2007

In case of fire...

It goes "whoop, whoop"


My Whereabouts

I want to take this moment to say that I am in Washington D.C. Apparently some have been looking for me in Washington State. Let me clarify, that is D.C. not state. Reports of me attending a conference in Washington State are wrong. At no time this year have I been in Washington State.


So, Rasmussen comes clean, kind of. He was not in Mexico. He says he lied about it because of "personal and marital reasons." He also alleges that Rabobank knew where he was at all times. Interesting. Rabobank may have some explaining to do. While Rasmussen was less than truthful about is whereabouts, does that mean he committed a doping violation or that he should have been kicked out of the Tour? I'm not sure. Additionally, why didn't he come froward with this in July?

More interesting is that he released his blood values for a period covering March 2005 through October 2007. His numbers don't appear to vary that much, but I don't know if blood doping would raise those values and there are some pretty long gaps between tests.

If Rabobank knew where he was and nobody, e.g. WADA etc., tried to find him when he was supposed to be in Mexico but wasn't, then why was he booted from the Tour? Simply for being a BFL (big fat liar). That doesn't prove that he doped.

We all want to see "clean" sport, but the system has to be fair. The tests have to be trustworthy (go ask Floyd Landis). Clear penalties for clearly defined violations.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What an idiot

What an idiot. Me.

Do you remember the first time you learned how to brake correctly on a mtb? I do. 1995. On a trip to Winter Park and Moab. I happened to have one of the mountain bike mags and read an article by Ned Overend (I think) where he talked about braking and how do it properly. His core point- FRONT BRAKE. Front brake causes your center of gravity to actually move towards the rear wheel, whereas rear braking does the opposite.

So I had the Redline set up PRO style with the brake levers switched i.e the left lever is for the rear brake. The rational is that since you dismount on the non-drive side (left), taking your right hand off of the bars and grabbing the top-tube, if you need to brake, you want to use the rear brake, so the left lever needs to activate the rear brake.

Easily said, but harder to remember at race pace and over 10 years of left/front right/rear. During my first 2 races I had some problems braking coming into the tight turns on the cross courses. I felt like my center of gravity was all over the place and I was not in control. Lack of control means you slow down even more.

Tonight at cross practice I had an epiphany: I hadn't switched my braking in my head. I was going into turns still braking as if the levers were regular i.e. left/front. All of a sudden, I was hitting the turn faster, sitting back, a little front brake and drift through the turn. My center of gravity staying where it should.

Speaking of cross practice, Lou laid out a nice course in between a soccer field and 2 baseball diamonds, winding around the trees and the home plates.

I wish

Cross practice tonight, then off to DC for a work conference. No riding over the weekend which kind of sucks as I really need time on the cross bike. Every time I ride it, I get a little more comfortable on it.

I know my mtb so well that I can look at a piece of trail and pretty much know where the front end might wash out or how to shift my weight and brake going into a turn. I'm just learning how to ride this bike. Thankfully jumping barriers has not turned out to be as difficult as I thought they'd be, so I can focus on riding the bike.

I wish I had bought a cross bike in September, then I could have done almost 10 races easily. Now, I probably will only get to do 4, maybe 1 or 2 more depending on location and ability to convince the family that it is a good thing for me to be gone a whole day.

After watching 3 races, with me in one of them, Tammi wants to try it too, so I have to get a cross bike for her. I think we might wait until next season though and think through a frame and build for her. She would probably use it for more than just racing on.

Racing together will be quite challenging as we may literally be handing Elora off as one of us finishes and the next starts. One possible solution is to bring the trailer and then have the one not racing warm up by towing Elora around the race course- not on the course, just around it!

That's it. Later on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cyclocross tech

This is cool: velonews just did a tech piece from the boulder cross races and highlighted the Redline frames.

It seems like most of the tech for cross has to do with tire selection and pressure. I find I have to unlearn everything I know from riding on the road.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Race Cyclocross

Got this sticker from Molly Cameron at Interbike. I couldn't put it on the Roo until I had done some races.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Campton Cross - Chicago Cross Cup #4 Race Report

Harder course, bigger field. I had alot of fun. 2 more races in the series.

Pre-race This race was farther than the others so we left much earlier so I would have a chance to pre-ride the course. We got there at around 9:15, giving my plenty of time to pre-ride. We even had time to stop at a Caribou to get Elora a muffin. I kitted up and headed out on the course.

The course. A long starting stretch, into a 180 degree turn, then long stretch into 2 tight turns. 1 set of 2 barriers and then a tricky drainage ditch, straight and then a single barrier. A longish uphill paved section. 2 tricky turns on a seriously off-camber section. A couple of long straights with tight/off camber turns. The last section of the course was a wet/muddy through-the woods with 3 or 4 railroad ties. Then a final single barrier right before the finish line.

I was able to do 2 complete laps before the 30+ race started. The new crank on the Redline felt fine, no problems. The 2 single barriers had the effect of taking away any recovery areas. Most of the turns came after longer straights, which meant you really had to find the right line through the turn to carry as much speed as possible.

I lowered my tire pressure this week, but am still hesitant to go as low as is being suggested (40 pds. or less!). I guess this is something I have to figure out for myself as I am terrified about flatting. So I ran 48 in the back and 45 in the front. The back proved to be fine, but my front tire tried to wash out a few times, usually on the same turns.

The start. 35+ starters. I started in the 2nd row and was alot more aggressive this time. The race organizers called anyone over 50 to the front, saying that they would start them with the 40+, but highlight their numbers so they could see how they finished against each other with the idea of having a separate category next year. I'm not sure why they didn't just start us separately, but race us together like the 1,2 and the 3 race. The whistle goes and one guy goes down right at the start. We sprint for the first turn and I am in about 15th. We hit the hairpin and then come into a couple of twisty turns and someone else goes down. Hard on the brakes, a guy to my right comes over on my line as he hits the race tape and his rear skewer goes into my front Ksyrium! This is where the mountain biking skills came in handy, I leaned hard to my left and lifted the bars, still pedaling and didn't lose any spokes (wheel turned out to be fine), but I did lose several spots. Hit the barriers, the drainage ditch and we're off.

The Race. This course was harder than last weeks. No place to recover. After the start, I started passing riders on the paved up hill and settled into a group of about 5 guys. The off camber turn before the woods section proved to be tricky- several riders in all of the races went down or off course here. After 30 minutes I started to struggle and then started to get passed. I got lapped on lap 5 or 6 by the 1st 2 finishers (again, goddamnit!)

The results said I was 20th. So if I had been able to stay strong, I could have cracked the top 15. 20th is 6 better than last week, I'll take it.

Watching this race was difficult because the course was pretty spread out with no easy ways to get to the routes. Elora and Tammi camped out by one of the single barriers, so once a lap i got to hear Elora yell "venga, venga papa!"

I had toyed with the idea of doing the 4s race also, but I was spent. So we ate lunch and then watched the rest of the races.

I LOVE this!

Friday, November 2, 2007

New Found Motivation

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a lack of motivation for training at this time of year. Long season, temps getting colder... blah, blah, blah.


Now, after getting the cyclocross bug, I feel motivated. This whole week, I've been up at 5:20 a.m., training until 7:00. Excited to get up and ride. Getting back to an "in season" diet, going to bed and waking up thinking about riding and racing.


Even if I never get really fast at cyclocross, at least it has kept me motivated at this point of the year.


Got the Redline back last night, new cranks- ready to go! I have heard that tomorrow's course is shorter than last week's and a bit more technical with a long paved climb. The weather looks to be beautiful, 50s, sunny and dry. I am thinking about doing both the 40+ and the 4s, depending on how long Elora will let me stay.


Congrats to Christine Vardaros for her 11th place finish at Koppenbergcross in Belgium yesterday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Overheard

Martial Saugy, the director of the WADA-accredited Swiss Laboratory for Analysis of Doping in Lausanne, Switzerland:


47 out of 189 riders [in the Tour de France this year] raced on blood transfusions or EPO. We have been able to show this from the samples taken at the health controls.

He then explained that the results were not enough to declare a positive result but:


It is appalling, but we find so many test results that undoubtedly point to manipulation. But there is a big difference between a suspicious sample and one that can be declared positive.

I don't know enough about the science to know how a manipulated sample would appear different from a positive one, but either there was doping or there wasn't. If there was, then 1/4 of the riders doped and that sucks. But, if a certain amount of samples always return a "manipulated" result, then Mr. Saugy's comments are inexcusable and just further tarnish the sport.

It's like the labs releasing Floyd Landis' A result before the B sample has been tested. What's the point, except to see your name in print.

Source: cyclingnews

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More crap made in China recalled

More crap made in China has been recalled becasue of their use of lead paint. Most recently fake Halloween teeth were recalled today.

As a parent of a 2 year old, this whole thing is troubling. Little kids put just about everything they get their hands on in their mouths. That's what makes lead paint so dangerous.

You'd be surprised how much stuff is made in China. It seems as if everything is made there. If you took off all of your clothes and emptied you're pockets right now and looked at all of the labels, I bet a fair amount of your stuff came from China.

We recently went through all of Elora's toys and books and got rid of everything made in China. All of those little plastic animal figures, matchbox cars etc.- all made in China.

I'm not saying that all things made in China are bad, just that all things made for kids should not have lead paint in them. I'd rather feel safe now then be sorry later.

Overheard - Levi Leipheimer

Levi Leipheimer on the 2008 Tour course:

It's a great course for Alberto and me. We're really looking forward to next year's Tour," Leipheimer told VeloNews in a phone interview from his home in California. With myself and the defending champion with Alberto, we have two guys who can win the Tour. It will be huge for our team.


Great for the team... Except you don't hear Alberto talk about the team, only his own chances.

Leipheimer quote: Velonews

Back to the trainer with you

I rode the last two mornings on the trainer. It hasn't been that cold in the a.m., but god damn it is dark. Honestly, I just haven't felt like putting layers of clothing to go ride my whole work-out in the dark. So, it's the trainer, iPod and ESPN for me.

My plan was to do trainer work-outs in the a.m. this week and then do the cross-practice on Tuesday night. However, we discovered that the FSA crankset we put on the Redline won't work: it doesn't provide enough clearance for the single chain ring. So, we have to put a new one on, which won't happen until Thursday. I'll have it to race on, but no cross practice for me. I was hoping to get some pointers from some of the other cross racers, but I'd rather have the bike working well than not.

It strange, but I feel like cyclocross is the missing piece to my cycling world. I love riding on the road, the speed, the draft, the flow of the group is addicting, but if I want to race it's either crits or road races. Crits scare the crap out of me and most of the road races are not close to Chicago. Also, I think you need team support to do well racing on the road. Mountain biking presents the same problem with many of the races being far away, requiring a whole weekend to race.

But, with cross, there's a race on almost every Saturday and Sunday from October 1 to December 20. In the Chicago series of 6 races, the farthest is only 60 mi. away.

I'm excited about Saturday's race. Now that I didn't kill myself at my first race, I have some, well, a little confidence. I'd like to get some more time on the Redline. Maybe if I can skate out of work early on Friday, I can get an hour or so on some dirt with it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not if, but when

I read this column by Bob Mionske about some recent fatalities caused by car/cyclist interaction and Molly Cameron's post about losing a friend and need to vent a little.

Non-riding friends often recoil when the subject of sharing the road comes up. Predictably, I jump up and down screaming about the rights of cyclists to a share of the road and how drivers need to be more careful. My tirades are frequently met with a rolling of the eyes, but I am dead serious about this. Why, because we always lose. A 155 pd. rider on a 17 pd. bike will always lose against a car.

Even if we may not always observe the rules of the road, that doesn't justify many car driver's behavior towards us. We have all had a close calls with cars. Some of the people mentioned in Mionske's column weren't even moving when they were hit and killed. Drivers don't see us and when they do, our safety is not their priority.

Mionske 's basic point was that charges against many of the drivers have not yet been filed. I share his sentiment.

Monday, October 29, 2007

iPod Heavy Rotation

In Rainbows, Radiohead
Songs for the Deaf, Queens of the Stone Age
Bazzoka Tooth, Aesop Rock

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Like the Kool Aid - Sunrise Park, Chicago Cross Cup #3 Race Report

ABD Sunrise Park, Chicago Cross Cup #3.

Heeellll Yeah! That was fun, brutal but fun. My goal was to but in a good effort, not crash any barriers and to finish. Mission accomplished.

Pre-race. Things started badly. I had wanted to get to the venue by 9:00 and then have plenty of time to pre-ride etc., but I left late, got a little lost and got there at 9:30. This meant I didn't get to ride the whole course before my 11:00 race. A quick survey of the course revealed that it was mostly flat and twisty, 2 sets of barriers both uphill, and one sharp up. So, I registered and then did the barrier sections first as I had yet to jump an actual barrier. As long as I unclipped my right foot early enough, I could get over them fairly easily. I then did the sharp up to see how that was, I could ride it, but in traffic, running it might be faster. The rest of the course would be a mystery as I discovered I had a flat. Crap, you gotta be kidding me!! It is 10:35. So decision time- just use my pit wheel or go back to the car and change the tube. The lot where they had us park was about a 5 minute ride from the course, walking slower. I decided to change the tube and save the pit wheel and so I ran to the car, changed the flat and rode back, stopping to do the barriers one more time.

The start I lined up in the back of our 2 rows as I didn't want o be anyone's way at the start. I figured I could start at the back and then gauge my progress. The whistle blows and nerves, whatever get to me and I miss my clip in. This surprised me as the start was just like a mountain bike start and I was on MTB pedals, which I've been clipping in and out of for over 10 years. Anyways, I finally clipped in and got right onto the wheel in front of me. First corner, everyone backed up, anothet turn, down, turn, then the first barrier and I was good to go.

The race. 45 minutes. Since I didn't get a chance to pre-ride the whole course, much of it was a surprise. Eventually, I got into a group of about 4 or 5 and we kind of just passed each other for the first 3 or 4 laps. I ran the up the 1st 3 laps because of other riders and then rode it the rest of the time. On the 5th lap the guy in front of me hit one of the barriers pretty hard and bent his bars over. Then I raced by myself, which is always hard for me. I got lapped by the 1 and 2 finishers on the 5th or 6th lap. Then it was over. I have no idea where I placed. Since some guys DNF'd I didn't come in last. I was pretty wasted at the end.

Lessons learned. Most important: I can do this. I was way too tentative on the first couple of laps, way too much brake in the corners etc. Once I got a feel for how the bike rode, I was able to go faster on each lap. Technique on the barriers and run-ups is as important as speed on the bike. Since was only my second time riding the bike, I can only get faster.

Next race is Saturday, November 3, 2007 and I will be there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ready

I rode the Redline for about 2 hours today. This bike has a weird and yet familiar feel to it. The feel of my road bike with the fit of my mountain bike. It accelerates quickly and is pretty nimble.

I dismounted/mounted about 30 times. It didn't take that long to get used to it, but I'm sure at race pace it will be a whole different thing. I am now leaning towards the 40+ race as it is much earlier in the day.

Plan is to just ride the race and not crash into any barriers or other wise make a complete fool out of myself. If I get out to the course around 9 or so, I'll have a chance to hang out/watch the 30+ guys getting ready and maybe pick up some tips from them.

Bike ready, pit wheels ready, race bag packed, pasta eaten... now it's time for a beer and then sleep.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dilemna

The question now is which race do I do on Sunday. The 40+ at 11:00 or the 4s at 2:00 or 3:00. The 4s seems to be the more chaotic of the races that I've watched. I think I would get schooled in the 40+ and given my inexperience I would make that race chaotic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Cross Bike

So I "drank the kool aid" and got a cross bike. My acquisition of this bike came about after conversations with Lou at the Pony Shop about why I wasn't racing cross. The first obstacle being that I didn't have bike and not a ton 'o cash to drop right now.

He had the frame, I had the wheels, stem, bars and pedals. Lou also had some other slightly used parts. So its a mix of new and old. Decided to run only a 42 chain ring. Redline Conquest Pro frame, King headset, Dura-Ace rear, Ksyrium wheels, Spooky brakes. First race will be this Sunday. Thanks again to Lou for the quick build.










Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Actually


Yesterday morning I was reading a book to Elora when our border collie, Jasper, came into her room seeking his fair share of morning attention. Since he was sitting right on top of us, I put the book down and started to pet him.

Elora asked "What does he want?"
Me: He wants to say good morning.
E: Why?
Me: Because we all just woke up and he wants to be pet.
E: Why?
Me: I guess for a dog, getting pet is like getting a hug.

Elora got up and walked next to Jasper and started petting his back. When we first had Elora, Jasper treated her like one of the cats: not really part of the "pack" but something that occupied the same living space as he did. During the last 2 1/2 years, though, he has warmed up to her. So I have tried to encourage them to interact whenever I can.

Me: He likes his ears scratched.

Elora scratched his ears and he shifted closer to her. She then pet him on top of his head and he leaned into her.

Me: Ask him for a kiss.

She leaned her head over and said "Jasper give me a kiss." Jasper leaned over and licked Elora's cheek. She jumped up, surprised.

Me: Ha, he gave you a kiss.

E: Papa, he licked me, actually.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The "doping summit"

How can you talk about doping and cycling and not have the riders, who ultimately pay the penalty, present?


WADA, UCI, ASO and others began their "doping summit" without the riders. The UCI is proposing the creation of a "biological passport" for each rider by which "the rider becomes his own reference point."

This "passport" would establish a test history that would be used to find any abnormalities including haemoglobin and haematocrit levels. I suppose if any abnormalities were observed WADA etc. could then target those riders for increased out of competition tests. Teams like Team CSC and Slipstream have already been using such a method.

I think this is great. However, the riders need to be represented in any discussion as to how the sport is going to combat doping. Part of the problem with cycling now is that the powers that be seem to only be listening to themselves and not even each other. Look at the Pro Tour fiasco. We face a potential season with half of the races in and the other half out.

There's no question that doping is a serious problem, but all parties need to be represented and all points of view considered. The UCI, WADA and race organizers have legitmate concerns, but so do the riders.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sick, but still enjoying cycling

Head cold, sinus infection thing persists. It is the same thing I got last season in the fall, so I think it has to be allergy related.



In any event it has stopped me from riding as I seem to be coughing almost more than breathing.

So, unable to ride, we went out to the Carpentersville Cross race on Sunday and had a great time.

The course was dry and fast. The 1st set of barriers looked a bit high, but I was told they were legal. The sand pit was deep and got deeper with each ace. Some rode it and some ran it, I didn't see any real advantage to either unless you were really moving when you hit and carried your speed through.

Some highlights:

Lou Kuhn and Brian Conant go 1-2 in 30+.

Pete Rolewicz take 2nd in the 40+.

Devon Haskill ride away from the rest of the women's field.

The hole shot rider in the Men's IV crash into the 1st barrier creating chaos.

It looks like a hell of alot of fun, pain yes, but also fun. So, I had to keep asking myself, why wasn't I racing? In fact, everyone I knew who was racing, kept asking me why wasn't I racing? So...

First answer: I don't have a cyclocross bike. That appears to have been quickly remedied. Now I would need to practice and gain some skills. More on this later.

Hardcore Award: Mike Jones who did the 30+ and 40+ back to back, finishing 11th and 7th respectively.

Friday, October 19, 2007

NO!

no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no



NO!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What the hell are we doing?

Silly String, once only a a child's toy, has a different, not so amusing use. Soldiers in Iraq have been using it to detect tripwires. They shoot the stuff, which travels about 10-12 feet, across a room before entering, if it hangs in the air, that indicates a possible trip wire.

Problem has been that since it comes in an aerosol can, it cannot be easily shipped overseas. Marcelle Shriver began a campaign to send cans of the stuff to Iraq after her son, Todd, a soldier in Ramadi slated to leave Iraq in November, asked his parents to send cans of the product.

Shriver finally found a company to ship the 80,000 cans she had amassed earlier this week.

What the hell are we doing over there?

Source: CNN

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This is the time of season when...

I ssslllloooowww down. I don't ride as much. My motivation goes way down. It's as if my motivation to ride directly corresponds with the amount of daylight.

Admit it, as cyclists we lead a pretty boring life: we don't drink (much), we don't eat (much), we go to bed early, get up early and we spend an inordinate amount of time on the bicycle. Very few, other than the people with whom you ride, really understand. Significant others who don't ride may say they do, but they're just saying that because they know if you don't ride you become unbearable to be around.

At this time of the "season" as ,the weather turns and the days get shorter and cooler, I find myself reaching for an extra beer in the evening and staying up later just to watch Sportcenter because I can. Still getting up early, but now spending time with the family.

Time to look at what was accomplished and to begin to look at new goals.

What did I accomplish?

1. There's no question I was way faster on the bike this season.

2. Raced my first MTB race (at age 41) and had a blast.



Things I didn't accomplish:


1. Not enough MTB.


2. Not enough races. I suffered from a perpetual tug of war: road v. mtb, racing v. family etc. Better strategy for next year would be to pick my races at the beginning of the season and commit to them early.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Overheard- Jörg Jaksche

Jörg Jaksche in an interview with A German news outlet. He was suspended for 1 year.

I have ridden in teams in which doping was systematically organized.

There are still lots of possibilities to cheat, without anybody proving it. Transfusion with your own blood, growth hormones, artificial haemoglobin. Right now you have to say: Only the dumb ones get caught. Or the poor ones, who can't afford the expensive doping.

So, what teams has he ridden for:

Polti 1997-1998
Telekom 1998 - 2000
ONCE 2001 -2003
CSC 2004
Liberty Seguros/Astana 2005 - 2006
Tinkoff 2007

Not very "clean" company

"Systemically organized." So what else does he know? Other than Telekom, which we know about, although they all deny there was an organized effort, where else?

His last statement is probably the most telling and sad: only the dumb or poor riders get caught.
Source: cyclingnews.com

Monday, October 15, 2007

Me on a tricycle



After seeing photos of Elora on her new tricycle, my folks sent me the above picture. That's me, at the same age as Elora, in October 1968. How crazy is that !!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Overheard

USADA executive director Travis Tygart reacting to news that FLoyd Landis appealed the USADA decision to the CAS:

We expect the same outcome, given the facts of the case.

and

The option to appeal is part of the process. He has that right, but we would prefer to spend our energies celebrating the accomplishments of clean athletes. Every penny spent litigating cases like this takes away from that.


Funny, I don't ever recall the USADA celebrating any athletes accomplishments. Has anyone ever seen or heard of a press conference where USADA celebrated anything, except for maybe their own existence. Maybe they should be spending their pennies on making sure the tests are work and the labs follow correct procedures.

Source: velonews.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stranded

Stumbled on this over at gapersblock.com-

What's your "stranded on a deserted island" of top five necessary albums?

Here was my answer:

The Clash - London Calling
Refused- Shape of Punk to Come
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Sonic Youth- Daydream Nation
Metallica- Kill 'em All

Tattoos of the Peloton #22 Ivan Dominguez



Ivan Dominguez. Toyota-United rider.


He defected from Cuba in 1998 while traveling to the United States with the Cuban National Cycling Team and joined the Saturn team in 2000.

Won a stage at the Tour of California, 2 stages at the Tour of Missouri and the USA CRITS Finals.

After his win at the Vegas Crit he grabbed the mic and said, "Normally I wouldn't say this, but who's the man?!"

Photo: Cary F. Maloney, Velonews reader photo contest

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Marion Jones, Floyd Landis, Double Standards

By now everyone has heard/read that Marion Jones gave back her 5... yes 5 medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Needless to say, I have some issues, big surprise huh?

As sports fans, wisely or not, we want to believe. We need to believe. We believe in teams like the Cubs, the Red Sox, we want to see a team like Appalachian State beat Michigan, Stanford, a 40 point! underdog beat USC. Voeckler keep the yellow jersey. Rocky win again, and again and again. I remember watching those Olympics and cheering for her to get all 5 golds wanting to believe- she got 3. Do we have limits? At some point will we still care? Maybe we will be betrayed one too many times.

Jones' relay teammates from the 1600m and the 400m relay will probably lose their medals as well. Doesn't really matter though, because 2 of Jones' 6 teammates, Chryste Gaines and Torri Edwards are also dopers, having served their own bans since 2000. WTF! It gets worse: the silver medalist in the 100 meters in Sydney, who would now get gold was Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou. She was banned as a result of her actions during the Athens Olympics.

Marion admitted to taking the "clear." The same stuff that Barry Bonds used. I watched some of MNF last night and during halftime the announcers talked about Marion's confession and apology and how honorable it was. No, mention of Bonds, though. One of them even said that if Mark McGuire had made the same kind of apology, he'd be in the Hall of Fame by now. Excuse me, if he confessed to taking steroids, why would he be entitled to be in the Hall of Fame??


I sense a double standard here. Why is cycling considered to be rife with cheating but baseball, track and so on and so on are crystal "clear," I mean clean. People assume Floyd Landis doped, but now nothing about the details.

Non-cycling friend: So, Jim do you think their all doping?
Me: Who?
NCF: You know, bike racers?
Me: I don't know, I hope not.
NCF: Well, Floyd Landis doped.
Me: Why do say that.
NCF: He was found guilty.
Me: If you look at the decision it raises more questions than it answers about testing procedures and the rights of riders.
NCF: That's just a technicality.
Me: Not exactly. If the tests are bogus, then the results are bogus. Look, I don't know if Floyd Landis doped or not, but before I'm willing to kill someone's career, I'd like to be sure that we're right.

Maybe, I should ask my runner friends who just ran the marathon, if all runners are on dope. Or my friends who follow baseball if every home run hitter was taking the "clear."

Isn't the problem with doping more endemic of our society as a whole? With the sums of money that we are willing to throw at athletes, is it any surprise that some will cheat for money and glory?

Jones confession was not honorable, she confessed because she was facing jail time and maybe still will for federal charges.

Sources: ESPN.com

BTW, I didn't really want that Michigan to lose, but I respect the effort of the underdog.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Newest Bike in the Family


Elora's new Kettler tricycle. Opted for the Junior. We figured that by the end of next season when she's 3 1/2, she'll be ready for a like-a-bike or something along those lines. So, no need to go for the bigger, nicer, but twice as expensive model.

When we got it home she said:

I have a tricycle. Now I can ride with other people. Now I can go to a bike race.

Here's her "I have a new tricycle and I'm so damn happy" face.





Hmmm, a new bike...

Friday, October 5, 2007

The devil almost won

The devil almost won this morning, but I did make it out. He had some convincing arguments. I think this is the hardest time of the year to be motivated to get up and ride. The weekends are easy: the sun's up, it's warmer etc. 5:15 a.m. is a lonely time. I remember when I was a kid and my grandparents would get up at 4:30 a.m., I used to think they were crazy. Now, it seems like time slips away. Never enough time in the day to do everything you want. Constant hustle.

Left the house with arm warmers and took them off within the first mile. I consider myself lucky to be riding in October in just bibs and a jersey.


Ride was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that a bird crapped on me. This has never happened to me before. I've seen it happen to other riders, but not me. I heard the "caw" of the bird, then a little "squirt", then plop, right on my left arm. WTF! There was no on else out there. It was like the bird was sitting up in the tree with his little bird friends saying "I got him, this one's mine...". Bombs away!


View of the lake from from my turnaround- the back of the Shedd Aquarium. 6:12 a.m. and no sun.

View of the Chicago skyline from the same point.

Overheard

Oscar Pereiro upon being awarded the 2006 Tour de France win and yellow jersey:


Landis believed that he wasn't guilty and he took his case until the end of the process. I don't understand him, but I respect him. I would act in a different manner. If the same thing happened to me tomorrow, I would admit it without hesitation. I would do like Oscar Camenzind did. He was positive for EPO, he knew that he did something wrong and he just went home. That's the road I would follow.



Pereiro assumes that Floyd Landis was guilty. Certainly if roles were reversed and Pereiro thought he was innocent and the tests were bogus he would appeal and fight just as Landis did. It's as if Pereiro knew all along that Landis was guilty and was willing to see if Floyd would get off before saying anything negative about him. Now that Landis lost his appeal before the USADA, gloves appear to be off.




Source: velonews

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The angel won, this time

This morning's ride was great. Perfect weather... again. How much longer can this really last? Even though I was sooooo tempted to stay in the warm bed, I got up and did it.

It's like having the devil and the angel on either side of your pillow:

Angel: Jim, it's time to get up and ride.
Devil: Screw that, it's 5:15 a.m., it's dark and this bed is warm.
Angel: Its' 55 degrees out, plenty warm to ride. Come on, get up.
Devil: GTH angel, Jim, you rode hard all season, now its time to relax, sleep late, enjoy life.
Angel: Jim, in a month it'll be cold. You'll cherish the memories of these last few rides all winter while you're on the trainer.
Devil: Memories, schmemories. Warm and cozy here, right now. Cold and dark outside. No brainer. And by the way, screw the trainer. You should sleep late all winter. Yeah... and while I'm at it... screw training at all. Go out, drink more and stay up late.

Weel now... that's just blasphemy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stuff

Rode this morning. First time since before leaving for Interbike. 9 days off. I think that's the longest period I've been off the bike since... I'm not even sure. I usually take a week off around Xmas, but rarely longer than a week. It felt good to ride again, although the legs were admittedly a little stiff and I felt like I was pushing squares. Riding in the dark is getting old, though I should be happy to be able to ride outside at all. It was 60 degrees this morning. How long is that gonna last??

I'm sure Interbike tidbits will keep appearing here during the weeks to come. Here's one- I didn't hear anyone talking about Floyd Landis or doping. Nothing. Maybe, like me, most people have just gotten beyond the issue (at least for now) and instead concentrated on bikes (the positive) and not doping (the negative).

I guess I owe Mr. Armstrong an apology. LA recently commented about the Landis arbitration decision saying that he stated that he did not understand the verdict given the findings of shoddy lab work.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Overheard

Gianni Bugno, the last rider to win back-to-back World Championships on the Stuttgart organizers request that neither he nor Eddy Merckx attend the Stuttgart Worlds:



Instead I was there for the presentation of the 2008 Worlds in Varese. I don't need an invitation from the German organizers. I don't have any disagreements with the words of Merckx, who had called [the organizers] 'idiots.' To be at the side of Merckx is a lot better than being at the side of the gentlemen of Stuttgart.

I'd rather be in Merckx's company too.

Source: cyclingnews.com

Monday, October 1, 2007

Interbike 2007 Postscript

Home and back at work. After Interbike, I went to LA to visit my brother and then fly back to Chicago from there. Even with that time away from Vegas, I still kind of feel like I did at the crit... blurry.

My final observations;

1. A shiny bright booth does not necessarily guarantee a great product.

2. Meeting and talking to icons/pros of the sport: Ned Overend, Magnus Backstedt, Tom Ritchey etc. meant more to me than seeing any products.

3. The cyclocross race was great. Besides seeing the top pros go at it on a fast dry course, Molly Cameron finishing the race with a beer in hand and flashing the "rock on" gesture was priceless. Please do it again next year.


4. Many people in the booths didn't necessarily know the technical aspects of the products they were "selling." For example, on more than one occasion when I asked why the chainstays on a bike were a certain way the response was something like "that enhances the bike's rideability" or something along those lines.

5. The new XT looks great as does the carbon Dura-Ace cranks. SRAM Red also looks to gain market share, but the price may be deterring.

6. Presentation says alot about how a company views its own products. For example, the presentations of Mavic and Zipp were works of art, showcasing their wheels side by side for easy comparison. Shimano displayed their wheel sets separately thwarting any kind of comparison.

7. I intend to return next year with a better game plan than just wandering around wide-eyed, although I think for the first time out "wide-eyed" was fun.

8. The Italians dress and eat better than the rest of us and they know it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Interbike 2007 Day 3

Last day. I was tired. Tired of walking, tired of standing, just plain tired. Had seen everything I had really wanted to see, so today was just looking to get a look a things I may have overlooked.


Spent some time at the Salsa booth checking out their mountain bikes. Here's some photos of the Dos Niner and the Mamasita in honor of the Soiled Chamois:

The Mamasita, carbon and scandium:
Sweet graphics!


FSA carbon crank.



The Dos Niner

Short travel.


Salsa's flattened chainstays.


Then I wandered around looking at road wheels.


Mavic.


Zipp.



Easton.


American Classic.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Interbike 2007 2.5

Yesterday's impressions:

Specialized has the most intense booth here. Rock star bright lighting, so hot it had to have left a mark. It was also the only booth to say no photos, although we didn't see that sign until after we'd snapped some shots of Boonen's and Sauser's bikes.

Twin Six looks great. Word was that they're going to come out with bibs next season. Starting plain to test the market and then expanding from there.

Sockguy is also expanding, coming out with a line of socks that is thinner than their normal ones and seems to be aimed at the roadie market. Damn I love their socks!

Met Tom Ritchey at the World Bicycle Relief booth. It was refreshing to hear him talk very passionately about Project Rwanda and bringing bikes and racing to that part of the world.

Met Magnus yesterday. He said he was meeting with Felt last night. I'd to find out how that went.

Interbike 2007 Day 2




Long day. Totally fried. Here's 2 pictures from the crit this evening. That's kind of how I feel right now... blurry.





Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interbike 2007 1.5

Oh yeah, I forgot- the new carbon Durace cranks were very cool also. Time for coffee and then back to the show.

Interbike 2007 Day 1

Me and Ned Overend.

It's not so much about the stuff, although it is pretty damn cool (the new XT was very nice) it's more about the people: all walking and talking bikes.

Inevitably you see famous or at least semi-famous people just walking down the aisle next to you. In a 5 minute stretch I saw Tinker Juarez, Ned Overend, Phil Liggett and Nelson Vales.


I got to talk to Ned Overend while he was at the World Bicycle Relief booth signing autographs. I asked him what his secret was for staying so fast while getting older and he said basically staying fit and not getting injured.


Ned has been racing a long time: he won the the first mountain biking UCI World Championships in 1990, so I also asked him what he thought the biggest changes/improvements in technology had been over the years. He responded with 2 things: first, full suspension and second, lighter stronger wheels.

The cyclocross race tonight was cool. The course was laid out on some soccer fields, but it crisscrossed over them giving us a view of the whole race. It's 11:30 Vegas time and I've ben up since 3:00 a.m. Vegas time- time to sleep.