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.