Drivin’ Through the Desert

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Heading East.  Kind of later than I had thought, but that is a good thing.  Little short of time.  I’m going through Las Vegas to drop off some stuff to a friend, Jed Schneider, hopefully.  Then to St. George Utah.  Vincent has some work there, so he was trying to catch up.

Tucker has been having a blast in California, but he can sense when we’re going.  He was laying on my bag, picture below, when I was trying to pack up.

I’m short of time, so that is about it.  Hopefully they have done the majority of burning in Kansas by the time I get back, but I know that is just wishful thinking.  It is early April, so the season of grass fires.  I hate it.

Tucker didn’t want to get left behind.

He is going to miss doggin’ with the gang.

Robin Carpenter Wins Joe Martin (In the Rain)

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I wish I would have been in Fayetteville yesterday,  just watch the criterium at Joe Martin.  I’m not up to racing a criterium in the rain, but the race really interests me.

First, I need to state categorically, that I don’t like racing criteriums in the rain.  I happen to be good at it, but it is way more dangerous than just regular criterium racing, thus who would want that to be the case.

That being said, it is part of bicycling race.  Being able to handle your bike in all conditions is really a part of all disciplines of the sport.  Especially on the road, cross and MTB.  Track racing, well, that is a separate beast.

Riding in the rain takes a special talent.  And usually a fair amount of experience.  Tire selection is super important.

Robin Carpenter, Holowesko-Citadel, won the Joe Martin Stage Race, overall, because he has this talent.  Not exclusively only this talent, but it is key.   He won a stage in the Pro Challenge a few years ago, riding solo in the rain, on a dirt descent.  He has the bike handling skills.  He is a very good bicycle racer.

I would have liked to watch the race develop and seen exactly what happened.

I lined up at Joe Martin a few years ago and it was looking like it was going to be wet for the criterium.  I was on the 2nd row, right behind the race leaders and I was aghast seeing the tires that most the guys in the top ten were riding.  The guy right in front of me was on Continental Gatorskin clinchers, that were nearly bald.  And he didn’t have the worst tires of all the guys on the front line.

I was thinking to myself, that the officials needed to do a bike check and not let riders start that didn’t’ have the proper equipment to race.   I never would have started a criterium riding that equipment.

It didn’t end up raining, so everything was fine, but just the idea of starting a race, knowing that you were riding something was wasn’t up to the potential weather, made me wonder.

Remember a long time ago, when during the Tour de France, the riders neutralized the race themselves, on a descent, because one of the Schleck’s crashed and Fabian or someone convinced everyone that it was way too dangerous to race?  This was stupid, in my opinion.  Like I said above, being able to handle your bike when the roads are wet, is part of the sport.

Anyway, congratulations to Robin.  Winning Joe Martin overall, the final criterium, is not how the race usually plays out.  I guess the rain made the day very hard to control.  Good, old fashion, bike racing.

Robin Carpenter winning yesterday in Fayetteville.

And at the Pro Challenge.

Sven Nys showing off the best cyclocross tires every made, in my opinion.



100 Miles Gravel Day Yesterday

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Yesterday was the Gravelluer’s Raid back in Kansas.  This is the 3rd year for the event and it is super fun.  It is a 100 miles and hilly.  Yesterday it was a bit chilly, but everyone I was in contact with had a good time.  And they were very tired.

My team mate, Brian Jensen, won the event for the 3rd year in a row.  I was 2nd both the first two years and missed riding with Brian yesterday.  Catherine Walberg was 2nd in the women’s event, even though it was pretty long for her, this time of the year. Pretty great result and effort.

I went up to North County and met some guys and road 100 miles myself.  We did a few of the sections of the Belgian Waffle Ride, which is quite a bit longer than 100 miles.  I have no idea if I’ll be up to the distance by then, but it was a nice day to spend on the bike. The race is in May, after the Tour of California.  I’m not exactly sure where we rode, but it was scenic and fun.  We actually saw the czar of the BWR, Michael Marckx, while out by Sutherland Reservoir.

We did a fair amount of dirt riding, sometimes just on dirt hiking trails and sometimes on dirt roads, climbing and descending.  I had way too much pressure in my tires for how bumpy the dirt was.  It had been raining out here a ton, this winter, and the dirt is pretty eroded.   Plus, it was pretty windy from the West, so we didn’t have the fastest average speed, even though it was a hard effort.

Sue met us about a quarter the way in and rode the majority of the ride, until she had to turn back to Highland Valley to get to her car.

We got back to near Carlsbad and only had 90 miles.  We had stopped Dave Mas’ house, and had a beer or two.  Man, does that go to your head quick after 6 hours of riding.  I had received the results from the Gravelleur’s so thought it was best if I did the last 10 miles and matched the distance, just in honor.  Plus, sober up a little.

I felt alright riding yesterday.  I got twisted up a little early in the ride, in the sand, and felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, but that only lasted a little bit.  And the funny thing is that the last hour, the dull pain was pretty much gone and I could ride standing while climbing, which is new.

I doubt I fixed anything, so maybe something was out of alignment?

Flanders is over.  Pretty close race, considering.  I won’t spoil it for you if you’re going to watch it later.  But I have to spoil the women’s results.  American Coryn Rivera won, which is a lifetime result.  She deserves it, just continuing her winning ways in Europe.  Trudi left Belgium and flew to Spain for a stage race there.  I think she is going back to Belgium for Paris-Roubaix.

I think I have nearly 400 miles for the week already, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do today.  Still trying to met up with a doctor out here, so it has been a little frustrating in that regard.    Anyway, it is a nice day, once again, in Southern California.

Brian on the top of the podium.


My loop yesterday.

I think this was climbing up Black Canyon Road.

Partial group shot up by Sutherland Reservoir.

Dirty Garmin screen shot from yesterday.

From Coryn Rivera’s Instagram from pre-Flanders.


Switching Disciplines

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Okay, yesterday I probably wasn’t being completely truthful.  I do take into account getting hurt riding and racing bicycles.  I thought about it a bunch the last 24 hours and have decided I can’t handle the possibilities and inevitable results of constantly getting injured.  I’ve paid my dues.

So, I’ve decided, not rashly, but after much thought, to not race or ride outside anymore.  I know this sounds weird, coming from me, but it is a sane decision.

I made this decision by almost getting hit by dozens of cars the last couple days.  It has been really close.  It happens continuously.  There are so many cars.

I was riding yesterday on the PCH, and now realized how dangerous it was riding on the open road.  I remember my friend, Jim Thiele telling me that the Master’s World Track Championships are going to be in LA this October and thought that the only way I can put my mind at ease is by not riding on the road anymore.

Same with MTB riding.  It is just too dangerous.

So, I’ve decided to commit to training for the World Track Championships in LA, but only riding in the individual events, not mass mass start.  They are too dangerous.   But, I feel that it is much too dangerous riding on the track, with so little experience, so I’ve decided to only train indoors on a trainer.

I plan to use Zwift and simulate the track racing on my track bike on a Wahoo trainer.  I have a 1974 Schwinn Paramount track bike, all Campy, which has never been on a track, but has done many roller races.  So, it is use to the extreme efforts.

I figure if ride indoors for the next 7 months, I’ll have the form to compete on a World level.

It’s not like I haven’t raced the track before.   I was 3rd in the Team Pursuit Nationals Championships around 30 years ago.  And, I set the National Hour Record, on the track, about the same time.

I think I’m up to the challenge.  I’m not going to ride outside, or on the track until October.  I just can’t stand the thought of getting hurt again.  It has been weighing on me heavily.

Okay, wish me luck!

About ready to start the hour record on the velodrome in San Diego.



Injury is a part of Racing

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Yep, it is a fact, that if you race bikes long enough then you are going to be injured.  How injured depends on a long list of things.  On the top of that list I would say luck would have to reside. Having good luck when it comes to getting injured is key.  No question I have hurt myself in the sport, but by far, the most hurt I’ve been are situations out of my control, for the most part.

Both Bicycling and Outside have done articles that “feature” me with some relation to being hurt.  The Bicycling article was a photo pointing to places, mainly broken bones I’ve had, then trying to equalize the risk with the rewards, like a resting pulse rate of 35.  The Outside article was just a story about how I stitch myself up sometimes after falling MTB racing.   Both were okay, correct, but didn’t really address why riders get hurt.

I have been hurt a ton, but it comes in streaks.  I broke my collarbone at Superweek, the first year I left the state of Kansas to race, when I was 14.   I drove home, saw an orthopedic doctor and asked him if I could still race Nationals the next week.  He said yes, so we loaded back up and went back to race Nationals.  Man, doctoring has changed a bunch since then.

I have broken both my collarbones a few times.  All those breaks were before clipless pedals.  Since then, I haven’t broken one.  I’ve separated my shoulders, but no broken collarbones.

I think I was hurt a lot just because of the load of racing.  Nearly all the huge injuries I’ve had are in races.   I was doing over 100 races days a year, for a long time, and during that time is when I was hurt the most.  When I switched over to MTB racing in the 90’s, I had a long duration of relatively injury free competition.  Sure, a few big cuts that needed stitching, but no broken bones, etc.

That lasted a long time, until about 5 years ago.  Kind of since I started writing here.  Since then I’ve had 4 major injuries.  And all could have not happened without bad luck.

I don’t learn much from getting hurt racing.  I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not.  I take it as what it really is, just a part of the sport.  I accept this.  When you start weighing the risks involved in cycling, you don’t want to dwell on them too long or you might just scare yourself too much to enjoy it fully.

Anyway, I have a shoulder issue, that, I hope, isn’t going to turn into a major issue.  I did an MRI and have torn something like 1 cm or my rotator cuff.  On my “good arm”.  The orthopedic guy that Stacie found here at Scripps, is super.  He called me last night at close to 10 o’clock and talked to me for a while about his thoughts.  He is going to look at the MRI scan himself, not just the radiologists’ report and then call me later today.

I have no intention of doing surgery on this shoulder.  I did the other one a few years ago and it is a nightmare.  Plus, it really still doesn’t work that great.   I’m going to try to do rehab and see if I can live with the outcome.  If not, then I’ll address that later.

Here are a couple drawings Stacie made for me yesterday, trying to explain what was the matter.  I liked them, even though they seemed complicated.

My left shoulder has a 3’rd degree separation. That isn’t the problem.

Laying around, broken, in a small hospital in England after crashing into a car at the British Milk Race.

Missing Racing

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This weekend there are a couple races that I would normally be doing.  I’m missing it.  But I understand that it isn’t quite the right time to be doing them.

The first one is the Gravelluer’s Raid, a 100 mile gravel race in Lawrence Kansas.  I’ve done the race the past two years and ridden the whole day with my friend and team mate, Brian Jensen.  We’ve always had pretty tough conditions, either from storms with wind or just plain wind.  So it is an effort.

My highest wattage reading has been from this race.  Plus it has been good mileage.  After I finish, I eat a piece of pizza, drink a beer and do the 30 miles home on gravel.

The 2nd race, which is conflicting with Gravelluer’s is Joe Martin.  It is the 40th year for Joe Martin and I really enjoy that race.  I haven’t done the race every year, but I’ve ridden it a lot.   I did it maybe 38 years ago, when Joe was still around, so that kind of dates me.  Last year I rode just the 1/2 race, not making up my mind to go until last minute.  I really enjoyed that race.  It is much less controlled than the Pro race, thus more interesting.  At least to me.  Plus, it gives you a big boost in form early season.

Anyway, I knew I probably wouldn’t be racing much by now, even though I have already done one race.  I’ve been riding okay recently and feeling better day by day  Not necessarily feeling better riding, but feeling better in general.  The symptoms from this TBI are slowly, but surely going away, which is sort of a relief.  You never know how it is going to turn out.

My shoulder MRI could have been worse.  I have a tear, I think 6 mm, in my supraspinatus tendon.  At least it isn’t severed.  I have to go back to the doctor, here in California, after he sees the MRI himself.  He suggests I try to rehab it and if I can’t stand the pain sleeping or doing everyday activities, then get it fixed surgically in a few months.  I have no intention of doing that.

LIke I said originally, I’m going to miss being in Lawrence Saturday.  Brian is coming back from Colorado.  Bill is racing.  Even Catherine Walberg signed up for the 100 mile adventure.  She is apprehensive, but will be great.   I wish them all good luck.


Tour of Flanders Media

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I like to hear the rider’s views on their specific form and thoughts about upcoming races, but the new way that these guys talk seems a little weird to me.  There seems to be way more confidence exuded when maybe there should be a little more modesty during the interviews.  I don’t know exactly, but I do know only one guy wins the race and the other 199 guys lose.

I think it is fine for someone to feel confident.  But cycling isn’t the sport where the strongest guy wins the race.  There are so many things going on that saying that you are the outright favorite is a little naive.

Take Greg Van Avermaet’s interview about the Tour of Flanders.  He has had a pretty stellar early season, winning 3 very important races.   He is so happy that he says – “I don’t think I can say anymore that I’m not the favourite.”   At least he doesn’t exactly say that he is the favorite, but it is really the same thing.

Then there is the DS of Quick-Step talking about Peter Sagan and their tactics.He said, “We try to win… but if we don’t win then he loses,”     I get the tactic, but being public with that tactic is just wrong.  Sagan, in my opinion, is the “race favorite” and of course, a team would be remiss if they didn’t take him into consideration when it comes to tactics.  But to outright say that if we don’t win, then he doesn’t win, is bullshit.  They must be really scared of him way more than GvA.  Again, in my opinion.

Anyway, Flanders is a beautiful race.  Better than Paris-Roubaix because much of the bad luck doesn’t exist.  It should be a exciting race, since so many guys seem to think they are going well enough to win the race.  Even Phillipe Gilbert is coming onto form now.

Maybe some of the riders, and directors, can just tone it down a notch and act a little more modest or civil, considering?   And just let the race on Sunday decide who is the best on the day.