Friday, February 18, 2011

Mama Might Have Mentioned Something About Days Like This

Before we get into the world of professional cycling, let's discuss my recent woes. My Garmin Edge 305's mode key was broken, so I contacted Garmin and returned it for repair. I thought I was going to get it back quickly because of the time of year as well as the fact that the repair facility is about 20 miles away. Yesterday I called Garmin to ask where my computer was (I shipped it on the 31st of January and was told I would get it back in 7-10 days) and was told that they hadn't received it yet, almost three weeks after I sent it. So I went down to the post office to ask where my Garmin may be as well as ask about filing a claim on the insurance I purchased for it. Before asking I knew I would get the response I ended up getting, "That package was delivered in the first of February." Sweet. So now I'm in a he said, she said thing with Garmin. We'll see how that turns out.

To make matters worse, I got a call from the bike shop letting me know that my rear derailer is bent and needs to be replaced. Awesome. Hopefully the bad days end now and the good days begin. I'm sure the beer tasting (read: beer party with a large range of beer types) I'm attending (read: crashing) this weekend will help bring about those good days.

In the now wide-spread Landis/Kimmage interview, Floyd talks about how even with drugs, cyclists have good days and bad days:

"You still have good days and bad days and all the other variables - you didn’t sleep well, you didn’t eat well, you have a good day and a bad day. Anytime you add the drug card they always attribute everything that happened to the drug but they will happen anyway. It just changes how fast you go relative to how fast you would have gone."

I think many people believe that just because a cyclist (or any athlete for that matter) is doping, everything is easy for them. Clearly, based on Floyd's words, that just isn't true. I'm not going to argue whether or not LA doped, but either way he certainly was suffering here in 2003 (during a time when he was accused of doping):

I believe cycling DBs refer to this as the 'pain cave.'Again, I'm not saying he was or wasn't, but if he was the drugs clearly didn't make racing in the 2003 Tour easy for LA. If he was doping in 2003, those drugs surely had no effect on how much he suffered during his 2005 SCA deposition:

Gulp!The quick background story for these videos is summed up best in the NY Velocity write-up, "Tailwind Sports had taken out an insurance policy with SCA Promotions to cover a $5 million performance bonus for Armstrong winning the 2004 Tour. However, when David Walsh and Pierre Ballester's book L.A. Confidentiel came out, SCA refused to pay, claiming that Armstrong voided the contract by doping to win." In the end the decision went the way of LA, who was awarded his bonus because the contract had no stipulations concerning doping.

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, AC is back to racing. Here he is signing in at the Tour of Algarve:

Nice tights.Everything looks to be back to normal; the champ is once again mounted on his carbon steed ready to take down his adversaries with his hand gun. But wait, what is this:

Nice hat, cowboy.Seriously AC, what's with the cycling cap? His poor choice of accessories notwithstanding, it would appear that AC has taken the Specialized marketing claim of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" to heart by riding for Saxobank Sungard. Unfortunately, Specialized's poster boy defected to the Trek camp for this season:

Or, if you can beat 'em, join another team.Of course, I think Cancellara could be riding the Specialized that his image is used to sell and he would still be competitive in the peloton:

I'm not sure if those training wheels are UCI compliant or not, but I'm sure that even with them Cancellara will still have bad days and good days like he does on his normal ride.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Computer Issues and The Man: Keeping a Brother Down

As you may be able to tell from the post title, my computer has been giving me some trouble over the last few days. After turning it in to get it worked on, it came back and the power cable didn't work. The trials and tribulations I face are unspeakable.

Returning from the world of no internet (ie. books and people), I was amazed to see what is clearly the biggest story so far this year in the world of cycling. When I first saw the headlines I immediately thought to myself, "this is ludicrous." Not to be confused with Ludacris; though on second thought I'm not sure which one is more unbelievable. You all know what I'm talking about - a star cyclist, a western European country's government, perhaps some unfair treatment:

He must workout.This kind of treatment makes Iran look like a Sandals Resort. When asked about the "colorway", Schleck showed his fondness for American sports figures such as LeBron James who refer to themselves in the third person (though Schleck takes it a step farther and uses a pet name):

We can see the bands of the Luxembourg champion, but this jersey also has the advantage of respecting the design of our team. Fränkly, I liked wearing the other jersey, but I am very, very happy to wear this one now.

While he hasn't mastered the use of referring to yourself in the third person just yet, it's only a matter on time.

In other, lesser news on the cycling front, AC has been cleared of all doping charges, much to the amazement of many people. It remains to be seen if the UCI will appeal the decision, but AC raced yesterday at the Tour of Algarve. So while one Tour champ returns to the racing scene another announces his second, and most likely final, retirement. Like him or not, LA has been American cycling for the last dozen or so years. Who knows, maybe Obama will tweet Novitsky and tell him to back off his investigation.

After snowboarding and skiing at Breckenridge, Snowbird, and Park City in one month, I came back to reality and spent a day at the local "resort", Snowcreek:

All 300 some odd feet of vertical elevation change in view right here.

Going from the Rockies to a hillside in Missouri has to be like the transition from a wearing a LEOPARD-TREK/Luxembourg Champion jersey to wearing a jersey that highlights the Luxembourg flag more than three stripes across a 27" chest does. I know how Fränk Schleck must be feeling.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Priority Placement: The Case for a Larger First Class

Despite the claim made in my last post title, I am here to divulge what happened last weekend in SLC. Let me start by stating that every person I saw was the most important person in the world, and that's where the trouble exists. Clearly there are people that are a little more important than others - namely me - but in today's world everyone demands they be treated like a frequent flyer, even when they aren't flying. I fear this attitude is at the center of the motorist/cyclist scuffle, in that each side thinks they are more important than the other. In reality, they are both less important than they think.

The "traveling" part of my recent travels was sub-par at best, but that did not stop me from enjoying "The Greatest Snow on Earth." The smugness of Utah's bold claim notwithstanding, the snow I encountered in Utah (Snowbird in particular) rivaled any snow that I have encountered in my relatively limited travels:

Soft powder.We used SLC as our base and drove each morning to the ski resorts. The first day we went to Snowbird and enjoyed amazing powder on our snowboards; the second day we drove to Park City for a beautiful, sunny day of skiing. In the city itself the weather was pleasant, averaging in the low 40s each day with no snow to be seen, as opposed to the mountains which were covered in snow:

Gorgeous.SLC boasts a vibrant cycling community, complete with the poster child of today's cycling boom - the fixie:

Unfortunately I failed to take a picture of another fixie I saw where the bike owner had installed his bullhorn handlebars backwards, resulting in what looked like a poorly constructed set of mustache handlebars.To each their own (and anything they want that someone else owns, since they are the most important person in the world, right) I guess.

Needless to say, though it does need to be typed, I enjoyed some of the beer offerings while in SLC. Squatter's Pub was a recommendation from our hotel front desk and it did not disappoint; until the last beer of the night that is:

As before, I'm not sure where the picture of the empty glass went, but it did exist. This beer was Squatter's own Provo Girl. I feel I was duped by the use of the term "Bavarian Pilsner". While in Bavaria, pilsners were among my last choice for beers, but I was apparently focusing too much on the Bavarian and not enough on the pilsner. In the beer's defense, it was very similar to a Bavarian pilsner - clean, crisp, and relatively tasteless. Squatter's served the Provo Girl in a half liter glass that, if my poor memory serves me correctly, even had the 0,5L marking like glasses in Europe use. Of course, as you can see the pilsner wasn't served in a pilsner glass. If you're going to try you might as well get it right.

All in all it was a great weekend that had glimpses of "epicness" such as this "epic" truck:

You can fit the entire lawn crew in this thing.On your way to work in that "epic" crew cab you can stop for your morning cup here:

I'm not a coffee drinker, but with the adventure that surely awaits anyone who enters combined with my status as the most important person in the world, you can be sure that I'll be the first in line, no matter how many people I need to cut to get there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Happens in SLC, Stays in SLC

I am "dropping" this post early due to my flight tomorrow to lovely and mostly sober (3 point 2 brew or die!) Salt Lake City. You'd think alcohol would be a major factor in a state where there are still people who practice polygamy.

To get prepped for this round of snow fun, I decided to relive last month's travels to Colorado. During our trip to Breckenridge, Penny and I rode the rides all the way to the top:

Yeah, it was cold.Snow is great while snowboarding (essentially needed), but whiteout conditions on unmarked trails are not the best. In order to conquer the weather you see that I channeled my inner Storm Shadow (a reference I had to explain to a guy who spent his formative years in GI Joe's heyday). The weather the first day wasn't nearly as bad:

Smug Village, Population: Every Breckenridge InhabitantI'll be sure to dress warmly during this weekend's bout of cross-training, much the same way this fine gentlemen has dressed warmly for those swims/bike rides where you just can't seem to keep your arms warm:

Technical indeed.My guess is that his helmet is only slightly askew due to the 3.2% beer he used to "carb load".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pedaling Through Humpday: Aero is as Aero Does

I don't have clip-on aero bars for my bike. The way I look at it, if I'm racing in a dedicated time trial, then I'll ride a time trial bike. It seems to me that adding aero bars does two things:

1. Makes a bicycle made for (and good at) a specific purpose (road riding) into a mediocre TT bike.
2. Makes riders lazy in that they can prop their arms on the aero bars instead of using the muscles in the upper body to support themselves.

Perhaps my dislike of clip-on aero bars stems from the fact that there were a couple people using them during the race on Saturday who continually felt the need to scream, "INSIDE LINE!" (capitalization used for emphasis since there isn't a douche bag font) every time they were near me. I got it, you're racing and you're faster than me, but knowing this I rode in the middle of the track the entire time. I guess some people feel the need to let others know they are almost as awesome as they think they are.

Despite the lack of aero bars on most riders' bikes, it was easy to get into the drops and get on this guy's wheel:

He later got into his drops to help cut through the wind.By my rudimentary calculations, this guy's bar was about four feet off the ground; he was like a rolling wall. This guy is the opposite of aerodynamic, unlike Graeme Obree, the real-life rider whose life was the topic of The Flying Scotsman, who recently announced he was gay. This is about as non-news worthy as stories that proclaim an athlete is standing by his previous statements bad-mouthing another athlete. Clearly journalists have nothing better to do than track down athletes and ask them if they want to apologize for some dumb twitter post or ask about their sexuality.

In news on the home front, I've finished another single-speed bike, this time I used a frame that has cable stops for the rear brake cable. In the end I reused the cranks, bottom bracket, wheelset, brakes, and handle bar from the first bike I assembled:

To top it off I am using a light given to me for Christmas:

It's bright like a car's light - perfect for those times I ride home from the bar after dark.

Along with the single-speed build, I've also stripped down my Bianchi with the intent of cleaning and giving it a good overhaul:

She's naked.I guess until I get it put back together I'll have to pick up one of these to ride:

No need for clip-on aero bars on that speed machine.