Monday, March 28, 2011

Back from the Brink - Boonen, Bikes, Beer, and Alliteration

Despite what the title may suggest, I fear there won't be much beer in this post. What there will be is a recap of the weekend that was.

Like most cycling fans (I assume), I was a huge fan of the Grand Tours and didn't care too much for the classics when I first began following the pro peloton. As I've gotten older, and perhaps matured a bit (or perhaps not), I've become a bigger fan of the classics. I have not given up on the Grand Tours and I still really enjoy the story lines they create (especially the Giro), but the classics are definitely on equal footing for me now. This weekend provided us cycling fans with two great races - though E3 Harelbeke isn't considered a classic.

On Saturday, Fabian Cancellara, known as Spartacus, attacked a lead group at the 18KM mark and ended up winning going away - by almost a minute!

FC performing after use checks on his motors.Your are watching Fabian Cancellara destroy the peloton indeed.

Just out on a nice Saturday training ride.In the spirit of full disclosure, Spartacus had already crossed the finish line when he rested his hands on his hips. Of course, he could have ridden like that for the last two kilometers and still won handily. So who finished second? A rider from Omega Pharma Lotto:

Must have been Gilbert or Greipel right?


Oh yeah, neither of them raced. Greipel did race on Sunday in Gent-Wevelgem. Unfortunately for him and his compatriots on OPL, once again there was at least one other rider to cross the line before him. After what seemed like forever, Tom Boonen has won another cobbled classic:

It's not the greatest quality picture, but trust me, it's Tommeke. What did he do to celebrate his victory? The only thing any real hipster would do, enjoy a PBR in the can:

Upon further inspection that can looks more like a Fanta than a PBR. I guess my opening statement concerning a lack of beer in today's post was correct. But wait! Perhaps two photographers at the finish line might have been a little tipsy when they decided to stand in the middle of the road, causing two riders to crash:

In their defense, the photographers who caused the crash were the first ones on the scene, but not to provided first aid:

Scooped ya, bitch! Now that I think about it, those photographers probably work for Cyclingnews. I guess the lag between races starts as soon as the winner crosses the line and news sources need to go out and create stories.

Speaking of creating stories, ESPN's Sport Science decided they needed to look into what makes Baylor star Brittany Griner able to dunk and block shots:

I'll tell you the science behind it - she's 6'8" tall! Solved, Galileo.

Getting back to bikes, I watched a video over at AHTBM of some young gentlemen performing tricks on their BMX bikes. I quickly spotted what I considered to be a weird sight:

I'll tell you, that young man never has to worry about rolling up his right pant leg in order to keep in clean. Interestingly, "the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork" also seems to have the same drive train set up. I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps the "curator" of BSNYC and the "artist" behind AHTBM are one in the same. The facts:

1. You never see them at the same place and the same time.
2. AHTBM featured a video from BSNYC this past weekend.
3. During the same week both featured media (picture and video) of bikes with their drive trains on the left side.

With that conspiracy theory simmering in your head, I must apologize for the lack of posting over the past two weeks. While I have no real excuse, I did have family in town (including a 2-year old), to which I was happy to move my focus from this endeavor. Since you're now in the forgiving mood, I will also not be posting on Wednesday as I will be in south Kansas attempting to pilot an aircraft from the ground, around the air, and safely back to the ground. We shall meet again on Friday. Who knows, there might even be some beer involved.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Freedom in the Freedom of Speech

Last Wednesday I wrote about athletes threatening to retire. It seems that every week another athlete, and by athlete I'm specifically referring to cyclists, joins the Facebook fanpage (as a non-Facebooker I'm not sure if fanpage is the correct term or of they even exist) of "I'm going to retire because I'm being treated (according to me) unfairly." The newest member of the gang is Riccardo Riccò, who has been taking English lessons from Fränk:

"I don’t want to race anymore, no chance. I’ve turned the page, I’m fed up with the cycling world, it makes me want to vomit. I’m fed up with everyone in cycling. They already wanted me to stop when I came back but now enough’s enough, Riccò is no more."

Riccardo clearly has mastered the third person reference. What he hasn't mastered is admitting when he has broken the rules. It also seems that he falls a bit short in the financial knowledge it takes to make a living. Maybe his tournament bracket will pan out.

In the end, RR has the right to pronounce his retirement, just like fellow positive-testing cyclist Toni Colom, has to use the phrase "positive test" to refer to what turned his life upside down. I'm sure that getting caught with EPO in his system did turn his life upside down, but I'm also sure that his positive test was only made possible with an earlier decision to dope.

Enough of the retiring; let's move on the news from the professional racing scene. With what must have been one of the strongest lead-out trains ever,

A former multiple-time US champion and former world champion?  Not too bad as a lead out.Former World Champion Cadel Evans won the fifth and penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, or the Race of the Two Seas:

With a little jaunty, Australian salute, Cadel claims victory.After crossing the finish line, Cadel salutes the crowd in recognition of his perfectly timed attack on the last climb. Shortly after the effort was clearly seen on his face:

It hurts coach, take me out!Cadel postponed the start of his 2011 season in order to be more fresh for the TdF, and so far it seems that he has some pretty fresh legs. We'll just have to wait and see if his plan works out and he performs well during the Tour. If not I guess he can always retire.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Good Wins For the Weekend

I'm off early this morning, heading south to fly again. With that I don't have much to say here.

What I will say today is congratulations to UConn for their big win over Pitt and congratulations to Tyler Fair-ah for his stage win and becoming the overnight leader at Tirreno-Adriatico:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Biological Makeup and the Making of a DB

We all remember AC's and James Harrison's threats to retire over the last few months. The newest athlete to jump on the "I've done something that the rules of my sport prohibit and now that I've been caught I will attempt to scare the sport into reducing my punishment by threatening to retire" bandwagon is last year's (now stripped) TdF King of the Mountain Champion Franco Pellizotti. The UCI's biological passport system was validated by CAS in an expedited ruling at the request of Pellizotti's legal team. It is the request for a quick ruling that makes Franco's statement that he's quitting (or retiring, it's all semantics), "Not because of my age or for the time, even though it's two years, it's because I am tired." If he is tired why did he request to have a quick turn-around on his appeal?

I don't know that Pellizotti doped or not, so he may have a better argument for retiring than both AC and Harrison since they clearly violated their sports' rules. Another person, though no athlete, who violated his sport's rules is OSU Football Coach Jim Tressel. What Coach Tressel did was not share information he knew of that implicated some of his players (stars including starting QB Terrell Pryor) in a federal drug-trafficking case as well as selling memorabilia. What makes him a bigger DB than he was when he failed to pass on that information to anyone was his attempt at an apology/excuse:

"Obviously I'm disappointed that this happened at all. I take my responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously and for the game of football. I plan to grow from this. I'm sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and didn't do things as well as I possibly could have."

Of course he's disappointed it happened, if he never got caught what would he have to be disappointed about? Secondly, I love the classic, "saddened by the fact that I let some people down." Really? How about deeply saddened that you failed in your obligation as an authority figure who is responsible for the development of the athletes on your team (including the minute percentage that will make a living out of playing the sport after college) or deeply saddened because you not only gave OSU a black eye, but the entire NCAA? It's like the apology where you tell someone that you're sorry they feel mad/upset/sad about some action of yours; thereby making it seem like it was their fault for getting mad/upset/sad in the first place. And what does he get for all this - a two game suspension and a fine of $250,000. I'm not going to argue that a quarter-million dollar fine is anything to laugh at, but a two game suspension? The players got five.

I guess all this rambling leads me to the point that despite the fact that I want to believe otherwise, history and experience has taught me that all sports are a business and the bottom line isn't necessarily winning, but keeping your paycheck flowing in.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Late to the Line: My First Race, et al.

In what has been a wild two weeks, I must apologize for my lack of posting. Of course, you could argue that this post was meant to be for today, therefore making it right on time. Heck, if this post was scheduled for Wednesday than it's two days early.

On the 27th of February, a bunch of us traveled east to Columbia, MO to participate in the Froze Toes Road Race. Being my first race I wasn't expecting too much in the way of results - and that's exactly what I got. I finished 30th out of 39 racers after getting dropped at the 15 kilometer point (Yup, kilometers. Like everything else cycling, race distances must be measured the European way, which means the metric system).

Another participant in the race (though not in the Cat 5 race, so I didn't have the honor of getting dropped by him) was the Indiana state champion. I was unable to get a picture of him though because he was fast, at everything. Another champion rider was there, despite rumors that he was avoiding races outside Spain:

Whoa, a TdF champion in Missouri!Clearly AC knew that a flat, 50-kilometer course in Missouri was a perfect training race for Murcia. That, or the owner of this bike is some DB who probably also owns a UCI World Champion Jersey.

Yesterday I raced in the Perry Road Race, which consisted of four laps around a five-mile, hilly course. Again, I finished better than nine people, this time placing 40th out of 49. There seems to be a pretty clear pattern emerging. All I have to do is find a race where there are only ten of us racing and I'm set for a win.

In the world of professional cycling, the Race to the Sun (Paris-Nice) is on now. A three-man break, including the animal that is Jens Voigt, stayed away (barely) for the final 35 kilometers. The recipient of all their hard work was Belgian De Gendt. Today's stage saw a more traditional field sprint that was won by Sky's Greg Henderson. If you missed it, Versus is showing each stage at 4 pm. To catch up on all the professional cycling results that I have missed over the last few weeks you can go here or here, but not here.

So what have I been doing over the last few weeks that has precluded me from putting horribly written sentences down at this site? Just a little flying:

Already done with the pre-flight, ready to taxi.That is a Cessna 177 Cardinal. I don't have a lot of time yet, but that will come over the next few weeks as I work towards my private pilot's certification. It is a pretty cool feeling to fly, but there is still some fear when the plane's stall warning goes off even though I'm with my instructor who has plenty of hours flying as well as instructing. Flying is so much better when you are in control and you know what is going on, though I do enjoy sleeping on larger airplanes and not worrying about a thing. Soon I'll have my pilot's certification, a scary thought for some I'm sure:

Bombs away!While at Washburn Law's recent admitted students day, I saw a way to combine my love for cycling and flying:

How's the weather up there?Needless to say I was already late to the reception when I stopped to take that picture. In the end though, what's more important, being on time (or placing at a race) or enjoying yourself?