Thursday, March 29, 2007

Deny Everything

On Tuesday, Bjarne Riis responded to claims that he had doped while winning the 1996 Tour de France. One of his quotes was:

I truly believe the future is much more important than the past. I want to be judged on the work I'm doing with my team today, and the results we achieve - that is what's important to me.

I like Riis. I like what he has done with CSC. I like that he has given riders a chance when other teams took a pass, see B. Julich. But what is missing from his comments is more telling than what he actually said. Riis did not say "I never took performance enhancing drugs."

What he should have said was:

I'm innocent
until I'm proven guilty
deny everything,
deny everything

I'm being framed
it's all a set-up
deny everything,
deny everything

I'm just a spoke in the wheel
just a part of the puzzle
a part of the game
I'm being framed
innocent until
I'm proven guilty
deny everything
deny everything
deny everything
deny everything

Song: "Deny Everything," Circle Jerks. Riis quote: cyclingnews and PEZ.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Age 8

Saw this photo at the velonews Reader Photo Gallery, entitled "Phast Phoebe Lieberman - Age 8" by Seth Lieberman.

Look at that air! And her form is great, swept to the back of the bike, feet at 3 and 9. I cannot wait to get Elora on a bike.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a.m. sounds

There is something surreal about doing your whole workout in the dark. I left the house at 5:30 to this morning for an easy 25 miles. I like to ride the Lakefront path in the morning because it is empty. On the ride to the path, only cab drivers were out... wait a minute, the coffee just finished brewing BRB.

O.k., back. Some runners, a few riders, you can see the riders from a distance only by each others blinky lights (or as I like to call them the please-don't-run-me-over lights). I don't bring my iPod when I ride outside, it makes me feel disconnected from the bike. I can't hear the wheels rolling or the mechanical sounds of the bike or the outside.

Indoors, iPod 24/7, but outdoors, I like to hear the outdoors. The squeakiness of another rider's bike- oil your damn chain! The shuffle step of a runner as I glide by. The click clack of the dog's collar whose owner should no better than to let him walk off leash on the path. The caw of the seagulls fighting for a piece of white bread.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Luck of the ... Russian?

Dirk Demol of Discovery Channel recently wrote:

I think we have a ‘good luck' person on the director's staff now! Eki has now participated in three big races in the car and we have won them all: the USPro Championship, the Tour of California, and now Paris-Nice. I told Johan on
the phone the other day that while he can't be at every race, maybe we should make sure he is at the important ones!

We'll see. But what happened to the mullet, is it possible Eki has become all business and no party?

Quote and photo: velonews.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Today was a slow day- base miles. 50 miles- 3 hours, a little bit of work on the way back, against the wind. I read somewhere that you normally do not feel the effects of a hard workout until the day or even the second day after the workout. I expected to feel sore, stiff from the fast ride and some efforts yesterday, but I felt good. Better than good. I felt great.

This time of the season it's all about how I feel, not how fast or far I can go, that all comes later. If I get dropped from the group, it just means I have some more work to do. Now it is about "sensation." How I feel before, during and after each ride.

Sensations... of bike, muscle, road and speed. The big gear. Jumping on a wheel as the group surges forward. Closing a gap that someone else let open. All the while, paying attention to what my body is telling me. My heart rate was a little higher at points than I would like, but that will change.

The hours in December, January and February paid off. The base is there. Time to build.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Great ride today

Great ride, great ride, great ride today.

My goal was to finish with the main group, do a little bit of work but ride within where I'm at. I felt great, especially for being couped up for so long.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I received this e-mail this week

I received this e-mail this week from a friend of mine from high school with whom I recently reconnected :

Top Riding in Jim's Car Songs (in no particular order)

1) Grey Matter - Oingo Boingo
2) Friend or Foe - Adam Ant
3) Babylon's Burning - The Ruts
4) Rat Patrol - Naked Raygun
5) I Love Living In The City - Fear
6) Lucky Number - Lene Lovich
7) Homosapien - Pete Shelley
8) Ugly - Fishbone
9) Mad World - TFF
10) Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight - Misfits
11) Straight To Hell - The Clash
12) Hungry Like The Wolf - DD
13) London Calling - The Clash

High school. We spent alot of time driving around in my car. And I really do mean around, basically from one arcade to the next or from the suburbs to the city to see some punk band and back again. Mixed tapes were the order of the day, trying to come up with that perfect combination of songs.

My musical tastes have changed some, getting more into punk and metal and then a long stint of Grateful Dead (80+ shows!), Phish etc. and back again. All of it good, but I have to admit that the music that left it's greatest impact on me was when I was 17 years old, just driving around.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Papa 1, Mama 727

My soon to be 2 year old daughter, Elora, learned how to "gimme five" about the same time that she started walking. The next logical progression would be the "high five" and then the "low five", thus setting her up for the ultimate... "down low... you're too slow."

From wikipedia:

A high five is a celebratory gesture made by two people, each raising one hand to slap the raised hand of the other — usually meant to communicate to spectators mutual self-satisfaction or to extend congratulations from one person to another. The arms are usually extended into the air to form the "high" part, and the five fingers of each hand meet, thus making the "five".

If one initiates a high five by raising a hand into the air and no one consummates the celebration by slapping the raised hand, the initiator is said to be "left hanging." This is considered to be a somewhat embarrassing faux pas.

She picked up the "high five" pretty quickly, even interpreting when to use it or not. Last night though she left Mama (Tammi) "hanging."

Elora had correctly stated that open and closed were opposites and

Tammi said "high five" and raised her outstretched hand,
Elora replied "No mama, no high five, Papa high five."
Elora turned to me and put her hand up and I gave her the high five.

I said to Elora, "Mama can't give you a high five" and she replied "no, only papa."

Normally, when something like this happens, you don't celebrate the fact that your child has picked one parent over the other, however, I couldn't help feeling some elation in the fact there was a thing, one thing that Elora has reserved for me.

The reality for us is that I have to work full time and Tammi works part time; my job has the healthcare and the pension benefits. Tammi is with Elora 3 or 4 times the amount of time I am. More often than not, Elora seeks Tammi out for comfort and solace, she gets the hugs more than I do. I understand that this is a function of time spent and familiarity, but it is hard sometimes.

So, no offense to Tammi, but score one for the papa.

Incidentally, National High Five Day is April 19, 2007.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Monuments

As we approach Milan-San Remo this weekend, I decided to do a little research into cycling history. We've all heard of the Monuments, the 5 one day classics that sit apart from all of the other races of the season: Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege Bastogne Liege and the Tour of Lombardy.

Try as I might, I didn't find any source that told me why these were called the Monuments of Cycling. Common sense would say they are the most grueling and steeped in lore 1 day races on the calendar.

In the process of my search, I came across this cycling quiz from the Daily Peloton which contained the question:

41) - Name the riders who have won all of the five monuments in cycling (Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Tour of Lombardy).

The answer is: Eddie Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy. Van Looy was the first to do so. Merckx was the only one to have won all 5 multiple times. Is there anything he didn't do??

Others have come close- Sean Kelly won 4 of them, but only managed a 2nd place Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1984.

Milan San Remo
Merckx 7X: 66, 67 69 71, 72, 75 76. Seven, here say it again for effect: seevvvven.
Van Looy 1X: 58
De Vlaeminck 3X: 73 78 79

Merckx 2X: 69, 75
Van Looy 2X: 59, 62
De Vlaeminck 1X: 77

Paris- Roubaix
Merckx 3X: 68, 70, 73
Van Looy 3X: 61, 62 65
De Vlaeminck 4X: 72, 74, 75 77

Liege Bastogne Liege
Merckx 5X: 69, 71, 72, 73, 75
Van 1X: 61
De Vlaeminck 1X: 70

Merckx 2X: 71, 72
Van 1X: 59
De Vlaeminck 2X: 74, 76

Sources: wikipedia, Daily Peloton and this velo archive site.

Here are the answers to the quiz.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Parent's Dilemma

I was working at the shop on Saturday and a woman came in with her 2 daughters. One was 5 or 6 and the other one was 4 years old. Apparently, another kid on their block had gotten a new "big kid"bike and the girls were now unhappy with their "little kids" bikes.
So I started with a 16" bike for the younger girl and a 20" for the older girl. The woman was concerned that the younger girl would outgrow the 16" bike by next season. A reasonable and true assumption. But the 20"was way too big for her. She was so stretched out on the bike that she couldn't pedal the bike. Not a safe situation. The older girl would be good on the 20" for 2 seasons, so we were go there, but she couldn't pull the trigger on the 16" for the younger girl, given the price and the fact that she would out grow it by the fall.

Herein lies the problem. She came in with both kids to get both of them new bikes. The younger girl was not happy, tantrum and meltdown imminent. While I was getting the training wheels etc. on and charging the credit card, the woman took the 2 girls aside and was talking to them in very hushed tones. Whatever she said calmed the younger girl down.

As I wheeled the pink Trek Mystic out of the store, the older girl said to the younger girl "Yaaay, now we're going to go to Toys R Us and get you a new bike too!" Ahh, the innocence of children. The woman ran up and said "Shhh" but I had heard them. I looked at the woman and said "no worries, enjoy the bike."

Having a kid of my own, I understand her dilemma. Kids are expensive. If we have a choice we always buy clothes a little big, roll up the pants legs, Elora can wear them longer that way. This woman could have gone to Toys R Us and bought both bikes, but didn't.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Ever wonder how much time you actually spend on the bike?

From January 9, 2007 to March 9, 2007, 59 days, due to the cold, the snow, family demands etc. I did not ride outside. I think that is the longest stretch of being confined to indoor riding in at least 5 years.

Out of curiosity, I added up the time I rode indoors on the trainer during this period:

Sixty Seven hours.

Almost 3 full days, out of 59 days. For comparison, if you sleep 7 hours a day, that's 413 hours or 17 days of sleep.

Sad, so sad.

This weekend despite the return of cold weather here, I had to ride outside. It is the middle of March and I couldn't rationalize staying indoors. Yesterday, only about 50 miles and today about 35. Cold, especially yesterday, but at least it was dry and sunny.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Spring Haiku

I wrote this a while ago, but seems to be appropriate with the warming weather:

red sun rises east
warms my winter wind swept face
wheels roll, narrow, true

Haiku is one of my favorite forms of poetry. A set amount of syllables and lines, 2 related lines and one that stands alone but not entirely alone. From Wikipedia: Haiku is one of the most happy and important forms of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables

One of my favorite times to ride is early in the morning at the crack of dawn. Alone. Usually easy rides, maybe some tempo or short sprints. Mental work rather than physical work. A time to think, to reflect. I don't listen to music, I listen to the bike and the awakening world. The wheels on pavement, clicking of the gears, the chatter of the birds.

There is something about dawn that makes me feel alive. Cycling of course also evokes that emotion, so cycling at dawn only enhances its effect.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Magnus Looking to P-R

In February, 2007 Magnus Backstedt had surgery on his shoulder again, this time to remove the hardware (plate and screws) that were put in after he crashed on the track.

Preparing for Paris-Roubaix, he recently wrote in his blog:
... [now]it’s just whether I can take the vibrations of the cobbles or not. I have already spoken to Cannondale to help me out with some special things for my bike to minimize the hits I take to my arms and shoulders. Looking forward to see what they pull out of their factory for me.

Maybe Cannondale will do something like what it did for Saeco for the 2004 P-R, where all but one of Saeco's riders rode with a Cannondale Headshock.

Some riders don't pay attention to the technology, others are obsessed with it. Magnus falls into the latter group. I guess being one of the biggest riders in the peloton, he must. Since I can't root for Hincapie this year, I think I'll root for Magnus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Purple does come after 9

I got home late last night, at around 7:20. Elora was finishing her dinner.

I try to give Tammi as much of a break as can so I filled up the tub for Elora's bath, put the bath toys in, got her undressed and made sure she didn't fall while she got herself in the bath because as she says "Ewahwah do it."

My thoughts were not on the bath though. They were focused on what I needed to do to be able to ride the next morning. The forecast called for 50 degrees at 6 a.m.- no way was I going to miss it, even if it would be dark for most of the ride.

Elora's giggles and splashes brought me back to the present and after about 10 minutes, I gave her the 2 minute warning, i.e. you're getting out of the bath in 2 minutes. We have found that giving her some additional time to do what she was doing when we say enough has cut down on the meltdowns. Actually, to be honest, this time, she gave me the 2 minute warning:

Me: Elora, it's time to get out of the bath.
E: No, in.
Me: no, out.
E: In.
Me: Elora, come on, it's time to get out and get ready for bed.
E: Boo mora minute?
Me: O.k., 2 more minutes.

Elora plays in the bath for a minute and

Me: Alright, 1 more minute.
E: No, boo mora minutes.
Me: No, we already did 2 more minutes, 1 more minute and I'm counting.

Elora looks down at the water and

E: un, boo, tee, four, five, bix, beven, eight, nine, purple.
Me: Purple, purple doesn't come after nine.
E: (Laughing and nodding her head) Mmm, hmm... four five, bix, beven eight, nine... purple.
Me: (Also laughing) Elora, what comes after nine?
E: (Totally straight faced) Purple.

Then she laughed, stood up and grabbed on to my neck to get out of the bath.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I don't care why we do it, I don't care who invented it or first suggested it, all I know is I hate daylight savings time. This a.m. I got up at 6:00 and it was dark. I don't mean a little dark, I mean dark like 2 a.m. dark. The sun did not come up until after 7 a.m.
It finally gets warm enough to ride in the mornings again here and now I'd have to ride the whole time in the dark.

Anyways, enough of my whining...

Millar wins the P-N prologue, wearing Neil's sunglasses :)

Will Frischkorn posts a funny yet serious diary entry about racing in Belgium.

The bike porn for the road, track and mountains was hardcore at the NAHBS (North American Hand Made Bicycle Show).

It's too purty to ride.
Photo: T. Huang, cyclingnews.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Floyd Landis (and me)

Floyd Landis (and me) in August at the Vision Quest event...

Floyd Landis (and me) Friday night at the Floyd Fairness Fund benefit.

Photos don't lie; we both looked thinner in August. Anyway, I went to a Floyd Fairness Fund benefit at the H. Marion Framing Studio just outside of Chicago. Silent auction for various pieces of bike art and bike parts and a raffle for a Cannondale six13 donated by the Pony Shop. Tickets for the raffle were $100 (we didn't win).

Three Floyd's Pale Ale- a nice touch and a damn fine brew.

No defense presentation, just mingling. Floyd seemed much more outgoing than he was in August. Maybe he's gotten used to talking to lots of people he doesn't really know that well and with his admitted discomfort with asking people for money, maybe he's trying to go the extra mile. There were a few times where he was just walking aroundthrough the crowd, shaking hands and talking to people. Talking about whatever people wanted to talk about, someone asked him about DZ, someone else asked him about the ToC, just talking.

When this picture was taken he asked me my name and said that he thought he remembered meeting me before. I asked him how the hip felt, he said "great" and that he was looking forward to more riding. I asked him if he knew the TBV guys, he said he didn't and then joked that he thought they might get fired because of the obvious amount of time they had put into their efforts.

The power suit looks like the same one in interviews from the ToC. A little on the pimp side.

I think you can tell alot about someone by observing how they interact with other people. If I had to judge his innocence based by meeting, talking to Floyd and watching him, my "gut" says he's innocent.

On a personal note, it was good to see the Chicago riders out there- many I knew, and I met a few I didn't know. The principle topics of conversation were the warming and more-conducive-to-riding weather and the new bikes people had picked up in the off season.

Friday, March 9, 2007

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday, I decided to take today off for the sole purpose of getting outside. Mission accomplished. Nothing crazy- 35 miles, nothing fast.

It felt good to get outside.

Hardcore George

Hincapie breaking his wrist early in stage 6 at the Tour of California is yet another setback for one of my favorite riders. He finished the stage, contributing heavily to Discovery's effort to control the race, but now will miss the spring Classics.

His 2007 schedule was to have raced Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Three Days of De Panne (which he won in 2004), Flanders (where he finished second in 2006), Gent-Wevelgem (which he won in 2001), and Roubaix, where he took second in 2005. Following the classics he was to prepare for his 12th straight Tour de France by racing the Dauphiné. See velonews.

I swear, Hincapie cannot get a break (no pun intended.)

Who can forget this from last year's Paris-Roubaix:

In a great position in the break with 2 team mates and the steerer snaps. I've watched that race a dozen times this winter and I cringe every time I see it.

Or this from ENECO:

Velonews reported today that Hincapie was now targeting the Tour of Georgia. Theoretically he could then do L-B-L which is at the end of April and still have a chance at a Monument.

While sometimes down, Hincapie has never been out. After the shoulder separation last year, he didn't dwell on it, but immediately started planning for his next race. Similarly, this year, after being dealt a bad hand at the ToC, he's looking forward. Hincapie said "I have been riding indoors only and waiting for the go ahead from the doctor to let me ride outside."

I was hoping to see Hincapie tear it up at the Classics this year. No matter where he makes his comeback though, he's always high on my list to root for.

Photos: Velonews.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Positive Re-enforcement

I am a sap for the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Something about the theme, always present in Frank Capra movies, that one person can make a difference. Despite George Bailey's belief that he was a failure, his brother, a war hero, calls him the richest man in town because of the number of friends that George had who would help him no matter what.

For me, cycling can be a metaphor for life. Sometimes, as in life, it is difficult to gauge one's efforts. It's not like any of us is winning the Tour any time soon. But, words spoken by other riders have had a great impact.

This past season, after a local group ride, one of the regulars rode up next to me and said "Hey, I like riding with you C4 guys, you always ride together, you know, as a team. You don't always see that out here." As a team, we had been trying to do exactly that... to help each other as much as we could during each ride. To have someone outside of our very small circle see it, recognize it and then say something to me about it felt great.

Similarly, in July, two friends that I often ride with told me that they thought I was riding stronger, more aggressive than they had seen me ride before. This had a similar effect on me because I had recently crashed and was concerned about being sheepish in the group.

When I see someone riding well, I tell them so, because like George Bailey, we may not be able to see it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Let it snow

It's easier to be a cyclist when you live in a place where it doesn't get cold or snow. But when you live in a place like Chicago, you have to try harder. Take this winter as an example, with temperatures barely creeping above 30 degrees at any time since January 1, 2007, getting out for a ride has been challenging. In my case impossible, with work and family added in. When it hasn't been cold out, it's snowed. Like today, 2" of the white stuff.

Some argue that despite the temperature and wet weather, you should get out to ride, to get the so called hardman kms in. That is one view, however, I know my own body and I know my limit. Riding in temps below 25 leads to one thing for me, I end up getting sick. That just means more time off the bike, I'd rather ride on the damn trainer than not be able to ride at all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Line Rider

Sorry. Too busy playing Line Rider. Make him jump. make him sail through the air. I blame Denis, it's his fault, he turned me onto it.

Sunday, March 4, 2007



and now...

Happy Birthday to Tinker Juarez born March 4, 1961.
Became a professional BMX rider at the age of 16, and made the jump to MTB in 1988. He was a 3x NORBA cross country champ (1994, 1995, 1998) and 4x US National Champ 24 hour solo 2001 - 2004). In 2006 he placed 3rd in RAAM. At 46 years old, he has now been racing for 30 years.

He recently won the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.

He has an ambitious racing schedule this year.

Photos from Tinker's webpage and blog.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Live is better than Memorex

Het Volk- what a great race! Pozzato attacked at the perfect time and got clear inside 300m or so. Got the jump on Boonen, Nuyens and a tired Flecha and O'Grady, who had been off the front.

It's always interesting to see who has the early season form and who doesn't. Boonen has said that he's only at 85% right now, if that is so, watch out come Flanders and P-R!

Interesting tidbits that probably only I care about:

1. Boonen, Nuyens and Pozzato were all teammates last season on Quickstep. Today they found themselves chasing with Baden Cooke. Cooke did little work. So, former teammates had to work together to bring back O'Grady and Flecha. They caught them just under 1km to go.

2. Cannondale 1st, Specialized 3rd.

3. Cold weather clothing choices? Knee warmers v. leg warmers v. BKW. Pozzato won with knee warmers.

As O'Grady at v-news wrote, cycling is in a bit of a shambles right now:
Next weekend's Paris-Nice is in turmoil, with the grand tours and the UCI locked in an infantile squabble that would be appalling if it took place in a preschool sandbox instead of at the highest levels of the sport. April's inaugural U.S. Open Cycling Championships in Virginia just lost its executive director. The Tour de Georgia is a month and a half off and a million smackers short. And we still don't know who won last year's Tour de France. In short, the sport seems to be losing its marbles faster than Britney Spears in a gin mill.

Maybe the big shots at the UCI, ASO etc. were watching. If they were, I hope they saw what I saw, that yes, as a sport cycling appears to have lost its way, but the racing was great.

As for me, as it was 24 degrees and blowing around snow here.more time on the trainer, more Metallica, more Premier League, but at least the race was live.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Melon Farmer

23 years ago today, Repoman was released. I was 17 years old, in my senior year of high school. This movie quickly became a regular event. Since then it has become a cult classic. It is Emilio Estevez' best role, along with Maximum Overdrive, no I'm not kidding. MO is the greatest AC/DC video ever made!

When they released the movie for television, they had to make some edits and used the term "melon farmer" which has gained cult status itself.

This movie also stars Harry Dean Stanton, who is one of those guys that is in almost every other movie ever made. He's just there.

2 of my favorite scenes:

Miller, the mechanic talking to Otto(Estevez):

Miller: A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?


Otto's conversation with the driver of the car eveyone's searching for:

Parnell: Ever been to Utah? Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too. When they canceled the project it almost did me in. One day my mind was full to bursting. The next day - nothing. Swept away. But I'll show them. I had a lobotomy in the end.

Otto: Lobotomy? Isn't that for loonies?

Parnell: Not at all. Friend of mine had one. Designer of the neutron bomb. You ever hear of the neutron bomb? Destroys people - leaves buildings standing. Fits in a suitcase. It's so small, no one knows it's there until - BLAMMO. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead. So immoral, working on the thing can drive you mad. That's what happened to this friend of mine. So he had a lobotomy. Now he's well again.

The soundtrack features tunes by: Iggy Pop, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks.

54 days since riding outside

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Indoors, but at least it will be LIVE

Omloop Het Volk is this weekend AND it will be on Hooray!

This is the first Belgian race and while considered a semi-classic, it runs up many of the same climbs as the Tour of Flanders held later in the season.

It was first run in 1945 and since then there have been only non-Belgian winners. Peter Van Petegem has won it 3 times, Eddie Merckx won it twice. Last year, Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) won after attacking the break and finally getting away with 7 km to go.

As it looks like the Reign of Ice and Cold will not end before this weekend- Chicago's forecast calls for a high of 30 and snow, I will be on the trainer... but at least I'll get to watch live racing.

53 days since riding outside