Monday, August 31, 2009

Kudo's

I've got to say, George Hincapie has got to be my favorite cyclist. As you may know George won the USPRO road race on Sun. Not only did he win, he won with style and only one other teammate present in the race; not to mention that that teammate, Craig Lewis, was diagnosed with Swine Flu a week ago. Way to go!

It reminds me of a near freak accident that could have seen his pro cycling career taken away... by me. About a year ago I was in Greenville SC with my girlfriend who was running a marathon. We were on our way to the ball park to register for the event and a little stressed both by the unfamiliar surroundings and the lack of parking. As we took our third pass around the many parking lots I saw a spot and made a quick dash for it right as a nice looking fellow dressed modestly in jeans and a red hoodie stepped out from behind an unfortunately large SUV. Fortunately, I posses cat like reflexes and applied the brake liberally giving this mystery pedestrian a bit of a scare. I gave a quick wave to signal "my bad" when I realized that I had almost run over George Hincapie (if ever you read this Mr. Hincapie, I'm sorry). I'm sure that the thought of a career ending crash is ever present in the mind of Pro bikers but I doubt they see it coming from the front bumper of a 2003 Ford Focus.

Makes you think...

Not exactly a newsflash

Here's a shocker: Armstrong admits that there was 'tension' on the Astana team during the Tour. Ferreals? Quel surprise.


Check that, not just tension, but 'real tension,' according to his quote in the CyclingNews article. I dunno Lance, sounds pretty serious. What did you do about it? "There were not only tensions between him [Contador] and me, but other people [were] involved. There was quiet at the dinner table more than once." Whoa. And uncomfortable silence at the dinner table? For shame.

I know that this comes as a surprise to no one, especially given some of the quotes that Armstrong and Contador made in the weeks following the Tour, but I suppose the confirmation is worth something. Interestingly, later on in the article Armstrong does say that he'll be going for a Tour win in '10, and not riding for someone else on the team. Again, not a shocker, but it does mean that Contador and Armstrong will be going wheel-to-wheel next summer.

In the meantime, though, it seems like Armstrong is pursuing attractions of a more musical kind. Keep it real, yo!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NC: represent

Winston-Salem's own John Hamblin finished a somewhat impressive 22nd place in the US Pro Championships ITT. Linus said he was the first starter, which must be a tough position. This placing may seem less impressive given that there were only 23 listed finishers, but he did almost beat Floyd Landis. Nevertheless, Hamblin gets mad props from me for (1) being one of the most dominant cyclocross racers in the NC scene, (2) getting to ride on Richard Sachs' team, (3) being a friendly fellow, and most of all (4) throwin' down, even if it means getting worked-over. I can identify. Hamblin was to Zabriskie at Nationals like I am to Hamblin at NC cyclocross races. He found the toughest race he could compete in, showed up, busted his ass, finishing second-to-last, and is now preparing for the next race. I don't actually know him, so I don't know if he's happy with his finish or he's pissed (I'm guessing he would have been stoked to at least beat Floyd). But I like to think that he's content that he's out there fighting the good fight. So if you see him at a race in NC (or anywhere), cheer for him (don't worry, you can still cheer for me, I'll be coming along many minutes later). If you see him in a bar in NC (or anywhere), buy him a beer (don't worry, you can still buy a beer for me, too).

Friday, August 28, 2009

golden age

stopped by Ye Olde Bicycle Shoppe to set up my tubless 29", disc brake, mountain bike wheels, but got to talkin' to Geoff and Linus about old bikes. Modern bike stuff is functional and light and generally pretty cool, but it is never as beautiful as old stuff. Geoff has a great old Bianchi with a Campy Super Record grouppo, downtube shifters and all. Classic. It got me to thinking that I need to finish fixing up my old Raleigh DL-1 Tourist and also about "Vive le Tour", the 1962 cycling documentary by Louis Malle. I discovered this gem through Dr. H and the lads from Winnipeg's Fort Garry Bike Club.

Malle, if you don't know, is a very interesting director of non-cycling related films, such as "My Dinner with Andre" which subsequently served as a stepping-stone for Wallace Shawn to eventually star opposite of Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride" and on "Gossip Girl".

"Vive le Tour" is so fantastic because it isn't really about a bike race, at least to the extent that it isn't interested in the results. It's simply about bicycle racing and the little details that make it so compelling. It's also a great time capsule of the classic era with steel bikes, squeaky brakes, and handlebar-mounted water bottles. Riders wore wool jerseys, silly hats, and spare tires. Women cheer from the roadways in beautiful sundresses and men push riders along while wearing cardigan sweaters rather than Speedos. It was a simpler time, when domistiques had to not only pass water bottles to the team leaders, they had to fill them up from roadside hoses. Yes, there is suffering and triumph, terror and comedy. And, of course, there is doping. It's only about 20 minutes long, but definitely worth your time this rainy weekend.



Chocolate Milk, Nature's "Sweet" Recovery Drink?

I recently had the luxury of linking up with a former co-worker of mine from Franklin Street Cycles (now The Bicycle Chain - Chapel Hill) for an afternoon mountain bike ride just west of Boulder, Colorado at Walker Ranch. Caldwell and I crossed paths in cyberspace on Facebook. We hadn't seen or spoken to each other since about 2002.

You see we worked at Franklin Street Cycles (Chapel Hill's finest bicycle institution) together in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those were the days. Late nights, early rides, building trails and long days selling Trek 820s and Specialized S-Works. While the details of this era are too plentiful to list (and I think both my Mom and Dad regularly read this blog)......I will just go on with the purpose of this post. You see while I left Chapel Hill to move to Chicago (idiot!)...Caldwell moved to SoCal in hopes of becoming a rock star. Well he didn't quite make it as a rock star in LA.....but he did manage to land this timeless classic role in a once famous commercial from a few years back. Check it out.



Caldwell has returned to his roots in North Carolina with his wife and now lives in the Asheville, NC area. While he isn't touring the county with Slayer, he is part of The Reggie Warren Experience and loving it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rumor Mill


Could these two be riding together next year for The Shack? Now that Lance is such a nice guy that he tweets ride invitations, could he and Bruyneel try to resurrect Floyd's talent and motivation and give him a second chance?

i'm taking my ball and going home

the big news that rocked the Chapel Hill cycling community is the crash at the Saturday morning ride. the "P-Ride", formerly known as the Performance Ride because it left from the Performance Bicycle Shop (now relocated--not to be mistaken with the Pride Ride (now defunct)), is a local institution for riders across the short-side of the Research Triangle. but so what? you get a bunch of cyclists together, trying to ride fast on narrow country roads. someone crashes. it was bound to happen. people get pissy, then immediately go home and excitedly start shopping for a fancier, new wheelset. what's the big deal?

but what factor has elevated this wreck from comical gaff to an Armstrong/Mayo-esque incident that will be debated for decades? the main issue is that the rider that allegedly caused the crash has a reputation for an erratic and sometimes dangerous riding style. now i'll admit, i was on the ride and i did see the results of the crash, but i didn't see how it happened. all accounts of the accident (excluding any account from the rider in question) seem to support the story that this dude tried to attack from within the pack, somehow ended up getting his bike sideways, crashed himself, and caused a pile-up. totally his fault. adding to matters is the fact that this guy has reportedly brushed off critiques (both friendly and hostile) of his riding and has taken to riding with headphones. i do not personally know this guy and i don't want to use this space here to badmouth him, but i am familiar with his riding style and i will say that i try to stay away from him because i perceive him as dangerous.

i'm not trying to indict this guy or to defend this rider. the issue at hand is safety. as cyclists, we place a lot of trust in the people we ride with, as well as the cars we share the road with. a lapse in concentration, either by one's self of others, can cause an accident. this is part of the bargain we willingly accept. i've done foolish things from time to time, but i like to think that i recognize and learn from my mistakes--sometimes through a comment from another rider, sometimes through road rash. gross negligence, however, may not only affect the individual, but also the group. and the chapel hill group is on edge.

currently, the talk is that this guy will be banned from the group ride. not necessarily permanently, but at least until he exhibits that he can ride more responsibly with others. the process has been playing out on the googlegroup with civility never seen before on an internet forum. i'm not being sarcastic here, it's actually quite impressive. even one of the guys who was taken down in the wreck is writing with a thoughtful and compassionate tone. (the snarkiest debate centered on spelling and grammar (possibly initiated by English scholars)).

this whole controversy provides an interesting question: can you actually ban someone from a group ride? there is no league, no referees, no membership card, no one standing between an individual and the activity. no one, but a collective group. so, the question of "can" is really a question of "how". say someone just decides that they want to ride with you (like that dude in dirty jeans and a clunky mountain bike did, albeit briefly, on the Durham Tuesday ride this week), how can you stop them. you can't just ride quickly away (that's the entire thing that people want to participate in). you can't secretly change the time or the location (at least, not if you want most other people to show up, too). i guess it has to be done with convincing words and group solidarity. pro riders will strike--stop riding and just sit or their bikes or ride very slowly--to protest dangerous riding conditions (occasionally) and doping raids (more frequently). i guess this is the equivalent of taking your ball and going home. when someone makes conditions too dangerous, the fun has to stop. is this the right solution to this problem? will it start us down a slippery slope to also banning wheel suckers or people whose shorts don't match their jerseys and socks and gloves? or, do we need more self-regulation? should other dangerous also be given a "time out" until they are deemed fit to return to society?

What's to be done? I guess we'll see on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

'Don't ch'all go kissin' no hawgs now, ya hear?'

Who knew that you needed to warn pro cyclists to stay away from the other white meat? And yet, here it is: Hincapie's riding partner is out for this weekend's Greenville race because he's come down with H1N1. (The previous link will hopefully be the only time that we'll be pointing you toward the CDC website.) Looks like Lewis needs a big cup of Big George's HTFU.


No word yet if this will affect Hincapie's rumored jump to Team The Shack. El Lanceadora has added a few more riders, though, and it seems like the team is shaping up quite nicely. Just keep 'em away from the pig, big guy.

going downhill, fast

i'm bloggin' lazy. yes, i'm posting a couple of videos today, but fear not, the blog has not jumped the snake and become just videos stolen from other websites. today's video dump is just a response to yesterday's video and not an end to writing.

after watching an Italian dude descend the Stelvio on his bike without using his hands, my brother quickly (a little too quickly, i might add) sent me the next evolutionary step in going downhill in a pointless manner:



brilliant, eh. this is obviously something i could never do and never would have even though to do, so naturally, i'll make fun of it. my main problem with the feat is bicycle choice. if you want to descend a mountain quickly, use a mountain bike and take a direct route as possible, or use a road bike and use the smoothness of roadways to hit higher top speeds. don't ride a mountain bike on the road. also, if you want to pop a wheelie, i think you technically need a front wheel. it could be argued that the front wheel fell off, necessitating a continuous wheelied descent (sounds like a swell James Bond (Roger Moore-era) movie stunt). but this guy didn't even have a fork. he's actually gone through the trouble to remove the fork, but somehow figure out a way to re-attach his stem and handlebars. actually, this is fairly remarkable, not as a bicycle stunt, but as the first time i've ever seen a freewheeled unicycle--which actually sounds cool.

but, as we've debated before, cyclists, even cool cyclists, are not cool. if we take these two Italian cyclists as a representative example of the coolest cyclists (and based on "Breaking Away", we know that the Italians are the coolest), we may give ourselves a little round of applause. that is, until we watch what the much cooler kids do. namely, skaters. skaters are probably cooler than cyclists. Tony Martin is no Tony Hawk. Kevin Bacon in "Quicksilver" was no Christian Slater in "Gleaming the Cube". two wheels are good, but perhaps four wheels are better. In fact, the guys at the Durham Skate Park are claiming that bikes are not allowed. (they also seem to make fun of "fruit boots", making in-line skates the recumbants of the skateing world.) and, yes, of course, skaters have a much cooler video of dudes going downhill.

Adam Kimmel presents: Claremont HD from adam kimmel on Vimeo.



if i can find their address, and if they're still alive, i'll mail them my lunch money.

Monday, August 24, 2009

'Yeah, but I didn't inhale.'

Alessandro Ballan has now testified to being aware of EPO use with a Clintonian evasion: "They offered me CERA, but I refused it." You can check out the longer -- if not particularly more revealing -- interview at CyclingNews.


It looks like Nancy Reagan won another one! Menudo would be so proud.


Maybe that's what profession cycling needs, a little Gary Coleman teaching them how it's done. On the other hand, think what Gary Coleman could have done if he'd gotten into cycling: a build like that, the proper fitness program, and I bet the dude could have been a hell of a climber. At the very least it would mean his career would have taken a different track from its current downward spiral.

old school/old students

oh, crap. summer's almost over. Pirate has his new Trapper-Keeper for his first day at his new school. Ali is trying to decide which of his 4 or 5 pairs of Vans he'll wear to class. and Adam's daughter is on her way to finishing school to the four of us.

as for me, i'm trying to get ready for a couple of collegiate mountain bike races and learning new ways to try to get around town with the new influx of students. oh, also, graduate (that's right, mom). over the summer, i became accustomed to cutting across east campus to get to the bike shop to meet up for rides. however, campus is aswarm with undergraduates. the new freshman class was born about 1990 or 1991--after the '80s!!! this doesn't stop them from wearing terrible '80s-inspired clothing, but sadly, they have no ironic basis for wearing some of the crappy crap they're wearing. america in the 1980s was overrun by excess and stupidity, exemplified by this guy:




welcome to cycling history 101. class is back in session.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meritan's Midnight Tour of Memphis

[A post in which I blog about actually riding my bike.]


The last few months have seen my saddle time drop to almost nothing, as I've been relocating from the cold, rainy northeast to the more tropical climes of the mid-south. My transition is now largely over, and I've been hard at work establishing a BCC beachhead on the banks of the Mississippi. While the skinny tires are still resting, and the fatties have yet to shed their upstate mud, the commuter has already made a few happy cruises through town.

I did have a little setback Saturday afternoon, as some routine maintenance led to a Slime-filled tube exploding in my face. In my living room. I'm not sure what happened -- my Specialized Boroughs fit a little loosely, so the tube might have squirmed out -- but I've got to say that I never in a million years thought I'd be scrubbing Slime off my ceiling with a mop. The tube is an experiment in keeping the commuter flat-free (the next one went in fine), and I'll let you know how it turns out.

With everything squared away and the bike back in fine rolling condition, Saturday night brought a new pleasure: Meritan's Midnight Classic Bike Tour of Memphis. It wasn't exactly extreme, but damn it was nice to spin through the cool summer streets with a few hundred of my newfound friends.

The normally humid nights have taken a little break, and we were treated to 60 degrees of crisp air and perfectly clear skies. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I would guess that more than 500 and less than 1000. There were bikes (and bikers) of all shapes and sizes, from a tallbike, to your usual department store cruisers, to the obligatory fixie-hipsters doing battle with the racerbois. Everyone was happy, polite, and outgoingly friendly in was that put a smile on my normally sourpuss face.

My photographic skills are notoriously bad, but I did capture a few snaps of all the cool kids.


All and all a great introduction to the area. Kudos to the event organizers and to all of the friendly, helpful riders. I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Going big from a new home

Word on the street is that Hollywood has bought a new house -- congrats! Rumor also has it that the new digs are open for accommodating smelly bikers who happen to be visiting the Denver headquarters of BCC, with only a small donation of beer required.

I think that the new house must come with a new bike. At least, that's what I'm guessing after he sent me the below pic of a Yeti 303 with no accompanying explanation.


Then again, who really understands the mind of Hollywood? Maybe he was giving me a pic of what he's getting me for my birthday. Thanks Hollywood, but I think I'll take the ASR 7, as it seems to be more versatile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

map/art

the ny times is reporting that people are using their gps units to create art based on their rides. or maybe using rides to create art using gps units.

this sounds like the kind of dorky fun dorks like us might be into. and north carolina's crazy road network seems like a fantastic canvas. the only question is, where to look for inspiration?

Mondrian?


Picasso?
or we could get drunk and do a Cy Twombly

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Catchin Up

So I've had a pretty busy time on the bike the last month. ORAMM at the end of July, a ride in the untamed mountains of PA, and Fool's Gold 50miler just this past weekend. For those who may care (chirp chirp chirp) here are my race ride reports.

ORAMM: The week before this race I decided I hadn't trained enough so I did a six hour ride that consisted of about 90% single track. Not a very good idea since I ended up damaging the heel of my hand pretty bad and my legs didn't really appreciate it much either. I had already signed up for SS and since no 29" fork existed in my garage at the time I just had to suck it up and ride it rigid anyway. It hurt bad. I got most of the way down Kitsuma the first time without it slowing me down much. Then my hand got to rest for quite awhile with the hike up star gap and long fire road climbs on Jarrett Creek Rd and Curtis Creek. I only had to walk on Curtis for two short stretches to rest the legs and felt great climbing for the most part. At the top of Heartbreak Ridge I took a short rest to get ready for a long rough downhill and put some space between me and the group right in front of me. Turns out I couldn't catch any of those folks limping on a sore paw and had to let more than the usual number of riders get by me when I heard them banging down behind. I still cleaned all of the downhill switchbacks except for one particularly nasty one I crashed on two years ago. I guess it is still in my head. I had enough energy left to ride strong on the fireroad back to Kitsuma and even rode a few of the uphill switchbacks to get me to that last downhill. This was really slow for me but I still managed to pass some dudes walking their FS bikes down the steep drops. I've never wanted a suspension fork so bad. Still I finished in 8:15 which was good for 22nd place in the SS group. Not too shabby but I think I can do better in the future.

Quebec Run: We had a funeral to attend in PA and even though I've made several trips up there to see in- laws I've never taken the bike. This time I insisted on it. After studying ancient scrolls and some secret encrypted maps I found the Quebec Run Wild Area a little way outside of Uniontown. Turns out they put more signs on the trails than they do the roads up there. This was a nice back country area with surprisingly well maintained trails. Lots of ferns covered the ground outside the singletrack and there were just enough roots and rocks to keep things interesting without slowing me way down. I did a big loop around the area along with an out and back of one of the bisecting trails for a nice 3hr ride. Plenty more trail out there to explore too. Just before heading to PA my new (gasp) suspension fork for my SS came in the mail and I installed it just in the knick of time for our trip. I didn't even notice my sore hand which is still not recovered much even today. I really like suspension for the downhills but not too sold on how it screws with my climbing. We'll see how it shakes out after some adjusting.


Fool's Gold 50mile: This is the third year in a row racing the SS class for this race. The inaugaral year for the race Pirate, Hollywood, Dave, and I ventured to Dahlonega, GA to try our hand at it. I really like the trails here and will continue to race/ride this area when I get the chance. I started out with a stomach ache that had nothing to do with eating a honey bun and chocolate milk before the race I'm sure. I still held my own on the initial climb and didn't need to walk any like I have the two years prior. When the rolling hills started I really focused on maintaining speed down and spinning up the next climb as far and fast as I could. The fast downhill fire road was a totally different experience with a suspension fork on. Stutter bumps? Where? Grabbing the brakes before hitting that big water bar? Unnecessary. I was actually passing people on geared bikes which is rare for me in this situation. I skipped the first aid station thinking I would eat something at the second. Then they had no food at the second aid station. Thankfully I had brought some of my own. I have trust issues and they paid off this time. I think my climbing for this race was slow but I stayed pretty steady and only walked some of the steeper stuff or where there was no space in front to keep momentum up for SS climbing. Everything in this race is totally rideable but when you're riding 50miles it pays to conserve energy in places where riding is not much faster than walking. I felt like I finished the race pretty strong but within the last 10miles two SS'er with rigid forks passed me. I couldn't make up for it on the downhills and wondered about which is better. No doubt they were just stronger climbers than me but you spend so much more time climbing than descending it just seems like you want the most efficient thing for the climbs. Suspension sure is fun though. I got 7th place with my time of 5:10. I thought I would do worse than that with my slow climbing but I guess a steady pace and blazing down the descents can make a difference.

Revolutionary Sisters



While I've seen a couple of BCCers pull off a fixie-skid or two, pull a "mad wheelie", and even pedal backwards for a few feet, never have I seen something quite as impressive as these two sisters.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

secret training/secret racing

and speaking of BMX bandits, Bull City Cycling's own Baby Dave kicked it at ABA East Coast BMX Nationals this weekend. i'm not entirely sure when the east coast became its own nation, but i guess it was only a matter of time.

from what Dave tells me, he overcame crashes in the qualifying heats to make it to the finals in his category, only to get crashed-out by another local guy who shall remain nameless, but who shares the name of a (non-bicycling) wheel of amusement (hint: it's not Ernest Q. Merrygoround of Carrboro). however, i wasn't there and i don't know anything about bmx racing (other than what can be learned from watching "Rad" 14 times), so i don't want to actually blame someone else for causing Dave's crash. i actually wish Dave would explain it, but apparently his skills as a part-time I.T. guy (in addition to his full-time student gig), do not extend to blogging. if you want to see official evidence, check it here. nice work!

also, let it be noted that bmx-ers not only get to list their club name in their results, but also their nicknames, no matter how ridiculous ("Princess", for someone who was not Dave) or unoriginal (there were two "Hollywoods", neither of which were Hollywood). also, is "Boobie Girl" an appropriate nickname for a 13 year old girl? i dunno, but some of these dudes probably went to prison after the race.

the other things i learned from this event was that (1) Dave dented his new frame in one of his crashes and (2) Dave was pissed that he dented his frame. thing #1 was not surprising, but thing #2 sort of was. i had assumed that Dave's bmx background made him one of those guys who doesn't care what happens to his bike and/or body. however, he is, in fact, as protective of his equipment as the most meticulous roadie. so let this be a lesson to everyone: just because someone races mountain bikes in cut-off Dickies, doesn't mean he don't treat his bike right.

Lance at Leadville

Check out this clip from CNN's iReport section on Lance's ride at Leadville:



Well, it's not the Champs Elysees, but the red carpet is a nice touch, and the crowds aren't half bad.

One thing that I noticed in the interview session was that Lance came awfully close to saying that he doesn't know how to change a flat. I suppose that makes sense, and I imagine that he was running tubeless tires, which probably adds an extra wrinkle, but I was still surprised by his (almost) admission. I guess it didn't matter, since he didn't seem to have any trouble rolling the flat across the line.

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Shifting eReviewed

So there have been rumors flying around for years, and pictures dropping for almost that long, but it seems as if Shimano's electronic shifting for road bikes is finally here. You can find pics of the new system anywhere on the net, there are a decent reviews, and even some videos that show the system in all of its chirping glory. Word on the street even has it that Tucson correspondent Patrick even got to ride a Di2-equipped bike and said it was totally radtastic (his wording may have varied).


By far the best review out there is the one provided by CyclingNews, which goes into great detail about the system, but also makes it a point to compare it to other similarly priced groups. If you're interested you should definitely read the article, but if you're pressed for time I'll summarize it for you:

Di2 is the bizzomb. It's smoother than a roadie's legs after a nice long shower, faster than pro cyclist's doping denial, more reliable than hipster's fixie, and as regular as a peloton's nature break. In short, it is without peer or rival, and all the cool kids should rush out and get it. Think I'm exaggerating? Here are two quotes from the article:

"Calling all skeptics... electronic shifting is the real deal!"

"After our initial sampling last summer in Japan and now two solid months of near-continuous use on a proper test group, we can confidently say that shifting-by-wire doesn't just work; it's flat-out awesome." --James Huang

OK, so I believe them: it sounds pretty cool. And any of the kinks of the system -- batteries, interference, weight, reliability, serviceability -- seem to be well accounted for. Kudos Shimano.

But that got me thinking: can it really be that great? How much greater is it, really? For the sake of comparison, I decided to do a little pricing. I went to the Colorado Cyclist catalogue (currently my only bike porn) and did a little back-of-the-envelope figuring. Here's a price comparison for the similar components for standard Dura-Ace and Di2:

Di2:
Rear Derailleur: ...899.99
F/D Braze-on: ...749.99
STI Levers: ...929.99
Battery: ...99.99
Battery Charger: ...119.99
Charger Cable: ...7.99
Front Wire Kit: ...169.99
Rear Wire Kit: ...279.99
[Not included: System Checker, 356.99]
Total: ...$3,257.92

Dura-Ace:
Rear Derailleur: ...299.99
F/D Braze-on: ...149.99
STI Levers: ...699.99
Shift cable set: ...21.99
Total: ...$1,171.96
Difference: ...$2,085.96

This means that all other things being equal (cranks, cassette, brakes, etc.), the Di2 system is almost three times more expensive than a standard Dura-Ace system (2.78 times, to be exact).

My point is not that Di2 is expensive (though obviously it is) or that it is or isn't a good system (having not ridden it, I can't say), but to question whether or not it is three times better regular Dura-Ace, a component system that had so many reviewers drooling? And this is my issue with the (otherwise good) CyclingNews review: you've done a good comparison, but since most people other than bike magazine guys and pros will be buying this system, should price be something that's at least discussed? And if so, can you honestly say that as "flat-out awesome" as this system may be, that it's three times better than standard cable-actuated systems? Really?

Color me skeptical. At least CyclingNews' gushing is a bit more restrained than some others, I suppose. (Uh, when would you want to shift the front derailleur while sprinting, my Competitive Cyclist friend?)

I'm sorry to get my rant on this morning, and I hope my retro-grouch isn't showing, but it seems to be that things have gotten a little out of hand here. Granted, I'll never ride Di2, and probably not even standard Dura-Ace for that matter (I'm still rocking a 9-speed 105/Ultegra groupo), so my opinion might not mean much, but at some point enough has to be enough, and I'm drawing the line at groupos that cost over $3k: it is my Waterloo.

There it is, my eReview: Di2 just isn't worth the cost. I say this without every having ridden it, of course, but there you have it: imparted wisdom based on no evidence whatsoever.

Ride on!

Monday, August 17, 2009

monday

yawn. computer models are running and the internets are boring/depressing.

stopped by the durham skate park construction site yesterday and it looks like a bunch of dirt. can anyone tell me if this thing will be open to bikes? i certainly hope so, otherwise, we may end up in the waterslides

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Leadville Feed

Despite being somewhat suspicious of the whole "Twittering" thing, it seems like the thing done good when it comes to the Leadville 100. You can follow the race on Twitter here if you like.


It's not nearly as cool as following the Tour on Velonews of CyclingNews, but it allows you to keep up with what seems to have become the most important mountain bike race of the year. (Despite the fact that it's exclusive, over-priced, and lacking any technical challenges. And we're not there. But not bitter. Promise. Sweartagawd.)

Edit 1:48 pm: Lance is destroying the field, having built a lead that's over 15 minutes with something around 15 miles remaining. The crowds look huge (that is, mountain-biking-in-the-US-huge, not Tour-huge), and Lance has one his signature looks of determination. It looks like he'll be close to the course record, even factoring in wet, cold conditions for a few hours this morning. Dayum.

Edit: 8:06 pm: I would have 'tweeted' about this on our list to the right, but I dunno how. There, I said it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

fleet fox

here's a post that actually involves me riding my own bike in durham. wonders never cease.

returning home from a terrible ride (in which i felt like my previous post, but without a World Cup level of exertion), i saw a fox trot across Campus Drive. i'm talkin' about a real fox, not the network that shows good animated sit-coms and polarizing news programing (which dominates the googled search results) or some actress who i think stars in a movie alongside of some transforming robots and who seems to eschew clothes in favor of underwear (at least as far as the googled image search is concerned). it didn't seem to be too concerned about moving quickly, but i wasn't able to take a picture of it.

in any event, as downtown durham gets further yuppified and hipsterized, the rest of the town is getting wild.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

'You try to hang with me 'n' I'll have you pedalin' squares'

So if the Floyd was a little too old skool for you, bring it into the 'oughts' with this beauty from MC SpandeX:



I think that BikeSnobNYC might even approve of this. Naw, probably not. Still, the good MC manages to parody both racer-boyz and hipsters, which takes some rhetorical flexibility. I like it.

[Edit: Doh! As I'm not a regular reader of BikeSnob I wasn't aware of the fact that he'd actually posted about this video yesterday. So now rather than wondering whether or not he approves of 'Performance,' you can go to his post and read all about it. Sorry dudes!]

Some early Pink Floyd for your afternoon

Here's an animation of Pink Floyd's "Bike" for your listening enjoyment:



I've got to admit that my knowledge of early Floyd from the 60s is pretty limited, but I'm always amused when I stumble across their weird version of British psychedelic rock. Since my teen years were steeped in classic rock from the local radio station (pre-iPods, my friends), later Floyd always feel stale and rehearsed, but something about this is rather charmingly bizarre.

Note to self: if these lyrics make sense, you're too altered to ride, basket or not.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

i've been there, man

i found this clip on the internet and i was trying to craft some verse, both profound and hilarious, to accompany it. but, it pretty much speaks for itself.



well, the ethics of the blogosphere dictate that i just can't post a video i nabbed from another cycling site and call it a day. which isn't to presume that any of this is either profound or hilarious, but it might be worth reading if you're dodging work.

the thing that really gets me about this video is its somewhat nightmarish quality. it's different than those cycling nightmares like "damn! that's a nasty looking crash" or "shit! someone stole my bike" or "fuck! i've shown up to the big race, but i forgot my shoes and i have to borrow some that are too small and use different cleats" or the classic "gee willikers! i've shown up to the big race, but i'm naked except for one knee warmer and a powdered wig". it's one of those recurring dreams that is haunting because we've experienced it before and know it's going to happen to us again. and again.

also (and here's where i put on my wannabe cinematographer's hat (beret, actually)), it works so perfectly as a single shot. one camera. one cut. one subject. if it was a movie (a Hollywood movie, probably not one of those pretentious French films), there would have been like 90 cuts in this sequence: multi-angle shots of the fall, in slow-motion/close-up to Absalon's expression/cut to the lead rider getting away/cut to the trailing riders closing, then passing/flashback to a 3-year old Absalon falling off his tricycle and crying/cut to the Swedish rider patting him on the back/flashback to his mom giving him a band-aid and a baguette with Nutella and helping him back onto his tricycle/cut back to him pushing his bike up the hill/etc. no, this is just one, slow, painful shot. all the context we need is right there. the body says "no". it is simple and final. nothing that chattery brain says can change that.

and still, you're out in the woods. the broom wagon's not coming. no helicopter is going to fly you off the mountain. mom's not going to bring you any Nutella. you get up and push your self home.

keep pushing.

Showing us how it's done

This just in from a correspondent in the UP: the 2009 Ore to Shore was an overwhelming success, complete with a finish line sprint and a blue ribbon. Seriously folks, this guy does not mess around. Let's go to the tape...



That's James in the video, ripping up the trail with reckless abandon. Here's a quick summary of the event from his father Chris:

James decided to go with the single speed rigid trike by Radio Flyer, which seemed like a good choice based on the conditions. In the trunk he stashed a baggy of Teddy Grahams and a Brett Favre figurine (he holds no grudges I guess).

Eat your heart out Leadville riders. It might be kinda early to say yet, but I think that Andy Schleck might need to keep an eye on this guy for the future. Stateside, JD, it looks like you and Luke need to start thinking about your training program.

Really, there's not much that can to make you remember the joy of being on a bike more than to see how a kid's eyes light up as he or she is rolling around on two (or three) wheels. With that in mind, remember that our partner Trips for Kids - Triangle has another "Take a Kid Mountain Biking" event coming up in October. Past iterations have been a great success, so contact them now if you'd like to be a part of things.

The event will be held in conjunction with the TORC Fat Tire Festival on October 3rd. Mark your calendars!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bad news for The Shack

CyclingNews is reporting that George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer are in talks to form a BMC team. It looks like Team Shack (seriously, we need to get this name thing sorted out) won't be the American superpower for which many have hoped.


On the other hand, it does mean that there will be at least two and probably three teams with a strong American presence in the Tour next year, assuming things continue as planned. Of course, the chances of their not being major shakeups -- drug positives, injuries, retirements, or team spats -- between now and next July are slim to nil.

Chariot racing?

Looks like more than just the Bicycle Chain shoprats are in on the action:


Looks like we've got some competition Brian. Better saddle up the old steed.


Durham Cycle Center (RIP) chariot, circa July 4th, 2005.

Monday, August 10, 2009

portland

I just got back from a trip to Portland, Oregon where I was visiting my family. Portland, if you haven't heard, is now heralded as bicycling's holy land, making it both a place of reverence and devotion, as well as the source of conflict for many opposing parties. In other words, the only thing that appears to be more prominent than enlightened Portlanders out on the streets on bicycles are blogposts and articles about the enlightened consciousness of Portland's bicycle culture. And, the only thing more prominent than blogposts and articles about the enlightened consciousness of Portland's bicycle culture are blogposts and articles about how ridiculously overblown Portland's bicycle culture is. (Both the pro-Portland cyclists and the anti-Portland blogposts appear to emanate primarily from the east coast.) Since I haven't ridden a bike in Portland in years, I really don't feel prepared to weigh in on this important subject other than to say that there are a ton of people riding bikes out there. The bikes, and the people, run the gamut from very fit to very cheap. Other bloggers will write better-written volumes about this subject, which will undoubtedly culminate in an East Coast/West Coast cycling war where the cycling communities' Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac will each get shot and the cyclist manifestation of Puff Daddy host a memorial criterium in a business park.

In any event, while there, I did want to take part in the action. And without a bike, that meant going to the Downtown Portland Twilight Criterium. I love downtown crits because they usually draw spectators that are not relatives of the participants. Turnout was quite good, with spectators at least 3 or 4 people deep around the half-mile loop. As previously noted, my photographic documentary skills are weak (too weak to even qualify for a "skillz"), but here's a photo to prove I was there.


I'm still a little jetlagged but things I noticed about the crit:
* The field was mostly local/regional teams, but one or two Bissell guys were out.
* Rock Racing was not present, but the most tricked-out entourage was the Range Rover team which had a bunch of new and vintage Rovers parked next to the course.
* Rock Racing was not present, but there was a fat guy in a Rock Racing t-shirt. I wanted to take a picture, but he probably would have tried to punch/sue me.
* There were a lot of crashes. I saw at least 5 from this corner. I suspect this means that either these guys had spent too much time at the beer garden or spent too much time at the espresso garden.
* It didn't rain in Portland. It usually doesn't rain much in the summertime, which is nice. But that also makes the number of crashes seem strange. Perhaps Northwest racers only know how to corner on wet pavement.
* Local team, the Gentle Lovers, featured prominently in the race. I like this team because the like unicorns and are fast.
* Local cycling star Molly Cameron led out the first lap and made it into what ended up being the winning break, but got taken down in a wreck. To her credit, as well as the credit of several other folks involved in crashes, she got up and back into the race. Sometimes I scoff at Pro-1-2 riders who drop out of races about half way through, but getting back into a crit after a wreck is pretty badass.
* Lots of metal rims, not many carbon rims. Maybe the roads were bad. Maybe they're poor. Maybe they know something others don't.
* Lots of spectators wearing cycling caps. About the same ratio of cycling-capped heads to non-cycling-capped heads as at a race in a non-hip, non-urban area where all of the spectators are also racing.
* Lots of tattoos. Both on spectator and riders. Portlanders better watch out. If this race was any indication of how frequently they crash, they're likely to ruin a lot of skin art. Maybe the tattoos are used to cover up old scar tissue. Otherwise, maybe they spent their carbon wheel money on tattoos.

We later went for a hike at Mt. St. Helens. It's a National Monument area and is apparently open to mountain bikers. The trails looked smooth, but were mostly loose ash. That's right, ash. Mt. St. Helens is still an active volcano that last erupted in 1980 and occasionally will kick up some smoke. I was sad I didn't get the chance to ride it, but hopefully I'll make it back out there soon. In the mean time, I guess the closest I'll get to shredding a lava flow is shredding the Harris Lake trails during a meltdown.

Even better: A Shack Attack!

(Or "Shaq Attack": I'm not sure how we'll be spelling it.)

It looks like it's official: Radio Shack is going to use their racing team as a central part of rebranding their company. Here's a quote from Radio Shack's chief marketing officer about the role that Lance and company will play in the rehabilitation of their image: "Having Lance on our team will no doubt accelerate our brand’s evolution" (from the VeloNews article).

Hum. I suppose. Hell, what do I know about marketing?

Still I think they should bring back this campaign:


Ah, yes, the TRS-80: like the Commodore 64, except actually useful. (Meaning that you could do things other than play Ghostbusters or Spyhunter on it.)

If we're looking to compare, that means that Isaac Asimov : Lance Armstrong :: Tandy : _____. Cell phones? I dunno. Put that in your GRE testbook and smoke it.

Either way I hope it means that Lance is going to grow some supafly sideburns.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

That will be 'The Shack,' thank you very much!

So first Radio Shack forms a team, grabs LA as their team leader, then the company changes its name from "Radio Shack" to "The Shack." Dunno what this means for the team, as their website indicates no name change, but it does mean that you'll now be buying your electronic doodads from a place named after a domicile most often noted for lacking electricity. No entiendo.


Here's the list of the riders that TRS -- er, 'Team Shack' -- has signed so far:

  • Johan Bruyneel, director sportif
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Jani Brajkovic
  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Jesus Hernandez
  • Chris Horner
  • Yaroslav Popovych
  • Gregory Rast

The story also reports that Andy Schleck won't jump the Shack -- er, to the Shack -- and that there are rumors that Lance might try to tempt Cavendish to join him as well. This last news is particularly interesting, as it's hard for me to imagine a team led by Bruyneel and Armstrong contesting sprints as well as going for a GC win in one of the Grand Tours. Not to say that they couldn't do it, but I don't remember them ever having done so in the past.

Who else will join them? Hincapie? Floyd? B-Swad? Guess we'll have to wait a few months to find out. May the silly season commence!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Popped! (confirmed)

Ok, so it wasn't a Tour rider, but it looks like Di Luca's doping has been confirmed. That took what, three months? Looks like there's still a chance that the five of you who think that Contador will turn up a positive sample might still be right.


It looks like Di Luca had samples from two different days come up as positive for a new-generation of EPO, which seems to make it seem even more likely that he's a habitual user. I can't say that I'm shocked, but I am a little surprised that he's evidently been caught so easily, while no one from the Tour has raised any red flags. I hope that this is because the Tour was truly clean, but I'm afraid that it's more likely that the labs aren't as good at testing for the new generation of EPO. Then again, I imagine Di Luca can afford the good stuff, and he got caught, so who knows?

On another front, Hollywood is refusing to give blood to anyone for anything, and is taking bids from teams who want to sign a Di Luca stand-in before the bidding war heats up.

[pic stolen from CyclingNews.com]

Friday, August 7, 2009

Radio Shack Uniform Preview

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Per Request......Drum Roll Please.....

https://twitter.com/BullCityCycling

Now we are even more dorkier.....

4ever?


Who's a jerk? This guy.

meanwhile, on the other side of town...

...bulldozers awaken in the Bull City's Central Park.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

evidence

Riding my cx bike on Duke Forest trails this weekend, I was forced to slow-up after a tree branch of reasonable size fell about 20 feet in front of me. It was probably about 3" in diameter at the largest point and maybe 7 or 8 feet long--not so big that it would have crushed me, but big enough that it probably would have caused me to crash. Which got me to thinkin', if I had been riding slightly faster I could have been struck. On the other hand, if I had been going slower, I may not have even noticed it (although I could have been attacked by a rabid turtle). This kind of pontification about fate and foliage is really an exercise in futility (especially I spend most of my days fixated on thinking about trees), so I decided to forget about it.

The other thing that occurred to me is that I should have taken a picture of it, so I could share this experience with others. But thinking about all of the pictures I should be taking, and all of the pictures I've missed taking, is another exercise in futility. It reminded me of this documentary photography class I took in college in which I wandered looking for events to document photographically. The problem, though, was this led me to always think about pictures I should be taking and feeling regret about not having a camera. It got to the point where I felt that I was unable to enjoy things I saw because I was missing out on photographing them. I soon abandoned my ambitions of becoming yet another famous documentary photographer and regained my ability to enjoy things "in the moment", which sounds like another cliche, but is probably fairly accurate.

In any event, the tree branch incident was followed up with a snake encounter on a road ride with Ali yesterday. So this snake was plesantly chillin' in the middle of the lane on Plesant Green Road. I slowed down because I wasn't sure if it was going to dart off into the grass, dart under my tire, remain perfectly still, or springforth and snakebite my tire or face. In the end, it kinda wiggled around, but didn't really get out of the way so we were forced to swerve around it. I immediately regretted the fact that I did not try to bunnyhop it (a feat that would have become all the more legendary if it had been photographed). However, much as Fonzie's jumping of the shark signaled the ultimate demise of "Happy Days", an attempt to "jump the snake" would have probably led to my immediate demise because the snake would have totally wiggled around and I'd try to make some ill-fated mid-air adjustment, crash, get bitten by the snake, and finally get laughed at by dudes passing in a pickup truck. This disaster would be followed up by Ali photographically documenting my wreck, posting it up on this blog, and coining the term "jump the snake". So, in the end, my regret was replaced by reassurance. Besides, I don't want to be one of those guys who spends their life thinking back and regretting all of the things he should have bunnyhopped.

Upon returning to town, the West Duke building was happy to see me. But don't just take my word for it, here's the photographic documentation:

Kaboom


This past weekend Canadian Geoff Kabush won the UCI Mountain Bike XC race in Mt. Saint Anne, Quebec, against a full field stacked with Olympic champ Julien Absolan, World Champ Christophe Sauser, and the other fast European riders that have dominated the series for the last decade. During that period several North American riders have been touted as the one who might break a winning-drought that reaches back to Ned Overend and John Tomac. Several have come close, but until now, until Kabush's ride this weekend, the "W" has eluded North American riders (Note: I love how the US cycling publications have shifted to the more "inclusive" coverage of North American riders as its become clear that the chances for success ran higher north of the 49th parallel. I guess I'm in that group, too. I also recognize I might be among the few who actually still follow this series with any regularity). It's not entirely clear how to explain this new success. Maybe there are fewer dopers now than in the past. Maybe North Americans are training harder and seeing the results. Whatever it is, it's a new day.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

get inspired

Last week, the big boys climbed the Ventoux, which inspired me to dig through my old photos (.jpgs) from my 2004 trip to France. Here's a picture I took after the classic climb and before an even more pulse-quickening descent.

Few other sports allow us to play on the same field as the pros. Sure, you can hop the fence and run around the old Durham Bulls stadium and pretend you're Susan Sarandon. But getting to climb the Ventoux and Alpe d'Huez is something I feel very lucky to have done and must recommend if ever you have the chance. And if you never make it out to France, at least try to head out to somewhere like Boone and climb someplace like Beech Mountain. And while you're at it, why not pay a friend to put a sign with your name on the front of their car and follow you. I reckon the German tourists should automatically show up and cheer.