Cross Season

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Yesterday it set in that maybe I’m not going to be able to race cross at all this season.  I’m thinking it now because I rode to watch the Kansas State Championship race yesterday and didn’t have the smallest amount of anxiety that I wasn’t racing.  That means to me that I, even though I haven’t addressed it, my mind knows that I’m not anywhere near to the point to be able to dismount a bicycle and do a cyclocross race.

That is sort of interesting and depressing at the same time.  I have physical therapy in an hour or so, and might ask Burt if he thinks I could try to go and run a little bit and see if it works.  For sure it would be painful, but I’ve found that pain isn’t what necessarily dictates what you should be doing in recovery for injuries sometimes.

Like I said yesterday, I watched both the women’s and men’s World Cups yesterday on the internet live.  I’m not sure about allowing everyone in the top 50 in the UCI rankings to race.  13 Belgians in the race seem a little ridiculous, if we’re really saying this series is by country.  If it is just another race, then, for sure, all the best riders should be at the line.  If that was the case for the Olympics, then there would be country sweeps of the podium lots of years by one country.

So yesterday was all about cross.  I watched the best in the world race in the morning, then road my bike over to watch the best we have around here ride around on grass.  I’ve exclusively ridden back and forth to Lawrence on the Scenic River Road this past week.  Three times to be precise.  It is my favorite ride around Topeka and it is especially great during fall when the trees are turning and the fields are changing.  The farmers are just about done harvesting their crops, so it looks a little barren, but it gets rid of the big trucks, thus dust, hauling the grain away.

The race was good too.  Benn, Brian and Shad Smith were set to duke it out, but Brian had a mechanical and Shad ran out of juice towards the end.   Benn has been riding great and won, with Shad finishing 2nd.  Micah Gordon rounded out the podium.

We had a little impromptu team dinner after the race in Lawrence.  The new  guys that are racing cross for Tradewind, Ben Stover, Austin Elser and Garrick Valverde came and ate burgers and drank beer.  Nice after cyclocross handout.   I miss the after cross camaraderie more than the racing I guess.

Okay, like I said above, I have PT now and then am going to hopefully put in a new floor, plumb and build a new shower base.  Sounds a little ambitious now that I think about it.

 

 

Just heading out of town to get to the River Road.

Just heading out of town to get to the River Road.

The gravel is pretty smooth right now.  I just ride my road bike back and forth.

The gravel is pretty smooth right now. I just ride my road bike back and forth.

 

Benn leading Shad and Brian early on.

Benn leading Shad and Brian early on.

 

Eventually they all got together, but not for long.

Eventually they all got together, but not for long.

Podium, Kansas style.  Bromont is always a photo hound.

Podium, Kansas style. Bromont is always a photo hound.

Benn, Shad and Micah.

Benn, Shad and Micah.

Team dinner photo after the race.

Team dinner photo after the race.

 

 

 

Sunday Morning

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I somehow didn’t sleep much last night so am back in the state of sleep deprived.   I watched both the men and women’s World Cup cross races, so it wasn’t a complete race.  I had to go to Hola and fool the UCI channel into thinking I was watching from England.  The women’s race was in way better resolution than the men’s.  I nodded off for a few minutes and missed Katie Compton charging up from 9th to the lead.  She won handily.  Jeremy Powers finishing 9th was pretty great too for the US.  Sven dropped his chain after about half the race, when he was in 6th, then quit with a lap to go.

Yesterday, I should have done enough to get pretty tired, thus sleep, but that isn’t how it works nowadays.  I rode 60 something miles on gravel over near Lawrence to watch a cross race.  It got sort of cold on the way back, in the 40’s, and I was under dressed.  I worked over at the building for a few hours too, so I’m not sure why I didn’t sleep.

Pretty much the same day today.  Work some, ride to the cross race.  After, doing a team dinner with the guys in Lawrence.  Then maybe work a little more.

Anyway, I hope your day is a little more leisurely.

I moved a ton of snakes off the road yesterday.  Must be that time of the year.

I moved a ton of snakes off the road yesterday. Must be that time of the year.

More than 1/2 had been run over.  Sad.

More than 1/2 had been run over. Sad.

Ben and Brian finished 1st and 2nd in the cross race.  Ben has been riding pretty good and Brian hadn't raced since Leadville.  Painful.

Ben and Brian finished 1st and 2nd in the cross race. Ben has been riding pretty good and Brian hadn’t raced since Leadville. Painful.

 

Nice fall day.  This guy looked great standing by himself in the matching field.

Nice fall day. This guy looked great standing by himself in the matching field.

I had to do a little bush wacking yesterday when the road I was on just turned into a field, then worse, nothing.

I had to do a little bush wacking yesterday when the road I was on just turned into a field, then worse, nothing.

My cassette had a bunch of grass seed in it.

My cassette had a bunch of grass seed in it.

 

Fall picture of the Kansas River from the River Road.

Fall picture of the Kansas River from the River Road.

I like to take picture of train tracks at sunset.

I like to take picture of train tracks at sunset.

 

 

Weekend Already

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I didn’t post yesterday just because of lack of time.  I am putting in a new bathroom in a building I owe and stayed up until nearly 4 am on Thursday night, then had physical therapy at 8, so it was a short night.

When I start a project I tend to just do it until it is done.  That means lots and lots of hours.  This is really a small project, but it is going to take a bunch of time.

I’m hoping to ride over to Lawrence and watch the Pro 1/2 race at Joules Cross.  It’s only a couple hour ride on gravel and it is nice out.  We’ll see how the day goes.

Okay, short update.  Man, the comment section on the Thor post got a little heated there.  People can sure be mean sometimes.

This wallpaper is on the plaster that is buried under some drywall.  My mom and dad lived in this apartment after the got married.  It is strange to think that my mom could have put this wallpaper up over 50  years ago.

This wallpaper is on the plaster that is buried under some drywall. My mom and dad lived in this apartment after they got married. It is strange to think that my mom could have put this wallpaper up over 50 years ago.

There is a ton of demolition to do.

There is a ton of demolition to do.

 

The nails that hold the hardwood flooring down are square.

The nails that hold the hardwood flooring down are square.

Thor Retires and “Writes Outrageous” Book

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Thor retired and what do you know, a book is coming out.  I have no interest in either.  I wrote a post in 2010, just after he won the World Road Championships about what I thought about Thor.  It is probably just easier pasting it below.  In the book, I guess he says he didn’t know anything about drug usage in the sport before 2011.  I don’t believe that a rider can be as successful as he was and be stupid, so he must just be a liar.   There really isn’t any other option to his statements and observations.

When Lance said to Thor that he and everyone else used drugs, Thor though, I presume to himself -
“I wanted to tell him that he was wrong. That it wasn’t at all correct that everyone doped themselves. That I didn’t do it. I should have said that I myself was clean, that I never used dope and would never do it. Because I think Lance believed that I drugged myself too.”

Maybe Thor’s vocal cords just wouldn’t work at the time or maybe he’s just a shy guy.  I am really not sure what stopped him from just saying the statement above?

Anyway, I won’t read the book and don’t really have anything much else to say about it.

Here’s my post from 4 years ago -

Thor

I was pretty glad to see Thor Hushovd win the World Championships. But, now, after this statement, I’m less enthused. Condensed, the statement says that he has never seen drugs in the sport of cycling and that they wouldn’t help him anyway.

That is the statement of a very, very naive person. Or a very stupid person. Or a flat out liar. One of those three explain it. I have a hard time believing it could be one of the first two. A guy that gets the results that he does can’t be dumb or naive. I don’t know him, but I’ve heard he is a likable guy, so it is hard for me to call him a liar. I hate problems with answers that can’t be reasoned.

I’m not sure why the current World Road Race Champion would give an interview and say what he did. It is impossible to be at his level in the sport and not understand the situation with drugs. And to say that it wouldn’t help him since he is a “sprinter”. That is just idiotic. The only thing I can think is that it was taken out of context and that the writer screwed it up somehow. Maybe that kind of explains it.

Below is an interview I did with Mountain Bike Action (MBA) back in 1998. That was 12 years ago. This was before the Festina doping scandal. It was so obvious then, without the all the media attention.

You have to click on the pages to make them readable.

 

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Our Service Industry Sucks

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I sort of feel like ranting a little, but am too tired from lack of sleep, so I’ll just state the obvious.  The service industry in the United States sucks.  Pretty much straight across the board.

And it’s not just limited to the people who are supposed to be able to fix our automobiles, electronics, or homes.  It is just about everyone.  I’m not sure if it is because of lack of education or just that stuff is way too complicated to be fixed, but whatever the reason, it is a fact.

This is the probably 70% of the reason that I learned to fix things myself.  I got sick and tired of getting back, whatever was supposed to be repaired, and it worked worse than it did when I took it in.   I figure that attempting to fix something that I know nothing about isn’t that big of a risk considering the high chances it not being fixed by someone who claims to be knowledgeable. It is the reason we live in such a disposable society.

I know that medical care/dentistry/insurance is not really part of the service industry, but it is sort of what got me thinking about this whole thing.

When I fell and broke my hip, I bit my lip and put a gash in it.   That was nearly 5 months ago.  I’ve had this thing in my mouth, some scare tissue or swollen gland, that I just keep biting.  When I saw my dentist, who is great, up in Winona, he told me that it wouldn’t get better on its own and I needed it cut out.

So yesterday, I had an appointment to go to an oral surgeon and get it removed.  It wasn’t such a big deal, but the whole thing went badly.  First, they couldn’t get a hold of my insurance  to figure out if it was covered.  They finally got through to them and my insurance told them that they didn’t have an record of me.  Then the called back and said that I didn’t have an dental insurance.

I had explained to the oral surgery people that I didn’t think it was a dental problem, it seemed more like a tissue deal.  They agreed, but said that they only had dental billing codes.  They don’t have normal medical billing codes that they could submit.  I thought that was strange.  They said that when they send the tissue in for a biopsy, that maybe they will put on the regular billing code and not a dental code.  Maybe?

Anyway, the oral surgeon seemed competent.  It took about 20 minutes and he was sort of training a new assistant.  I was getting my lip yanked around like crazy, they were having a hard time keeping hold of it because it was so slick.  They kept using more and more gauze so they could get a good grip on it.

So, they cut out the gland and some surround tissue and then stitched it up.  It only took three stitches and felt okay because it was numb.

I paid them the $355 and left.  The stitches were supposed to dissolve on their own.  Little did I know that they would be gone almost instantly.  By the time I went t the pharmacy to get a prescription filled, I could taste blood in my mouth.  When I got back out to my car, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the bottom half was open and was bleeding.   It was just a little over an hour since it had been done.

So I just drove back over there, but no luck, there wasn’t anyone there but 2 receptionists and one assistant.  All the doctors had left and it was hardly 3. They looked in my chart and said there were three stitches.   I told them that there were only two left.  I thought they would call the oral surgeon and ask him what they should do, but no.

The dental assistant came back with a plastic bag full of gauze and told me to keep applying pressure until the bleeding stopped.   They were pretty much heading out the door and I realized that was all the service I was going to receive.

I was thinking I wasn’t looking forward to going back this morning and getting it put back in.  Then, a couple hours later, I felt this small piece of thread in my mouth and there was another stitch.  And just a bit later, the third one came out.  So, I had a big hole in my inside lip.

This morning I got a call from the receptionist.  She told me they consulted with the doctor and he said that as long as it wasn’t bleeding, it should be fine.  I told her that all the stitches were gone and she said they could schedule me for an appointment, but it should heal fine.

Maybe all the receptionists there have went to dental school too, but I very much doubt it.  I’m not sure where she got the knowledge she passed on to me.  If it’s true, then I’m sort of unsure why he even put in stitches to start with.

Now I’m thinking about whether I should have just taken some sutures and re-stitched  it back up myself. I sort of have this “rule” that I don’t do any stitches above the shoulders.   But when I start having more confidence in my ability to stitch up my mouth than going back to an oral surgeon, something is wrong with the scenario from the start.

I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I don’t want to go back in, but I have don’t have much confidence in the place either, so it’s a catch 22.

Anyway, I didn’t sleep much last night, as I wrote earlier.  I have physical therapy for my hip at 10:15 and don’t really feel much like going.  It’s gonna be one of those days I think.

I don't have all this stuff, but I do have some sutures that would work.

I don’t have all this stuff, but I do have some sutures that would work.

On Tuesdays, the group meets at PT after the ride to have a beer.  It worked out great yesterday because of the Royals playoff game was going on simultaneously.

On Tuesdays, the group meets at PT after the ride to have a beer. It worked out great yesterday because of the Royals playoff game was going on simultaneously.

 

 

Robotic – That is What is Wrong with Cycling – IMHO (in my humble opinion)

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I was reading a few of David Millar’s retirement interviews recently and started thinking about some of his observations.  I don’t often agree with what David has said historically.  I think I take this stance because I am bitter about him doping-the way he “confessed” and then his almighty preaching about racing clean.  All of it seemed like damage control by him, or maybe JV, I don’t know.

But, he isn’t a super dumb guy.  He is just a guy that felt the need to explain getting caught cheating.  It’s what he came up with.  But, I do relate to this quote below.

“The team has become an identity for a rider; before, a rider would transcend the team. It’s become robotic. I liked the dysfunctionality, the cult-ness, the randomness.”

He went on to say-

“Obviously that led to the criminal aspect, the corruption, the madness, but I didn’t know that when I fell in love with it.”

I don’t really have any idea what he means in the 2nd quote, but really agree with what he says initially.

For most of my “career”, cycling was mostly, 1st, an individual sport, then 2nd, a team sport.  In modern cycling, it is opposite.  This has disillusioned me quite a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the team aspect of the sport.  I just don’t agree with how the professional teams have molded the sport into, as David says, “robotic”.

I guess we can blame Lance, once again, for this.  Lance’s building of teams, that only worked for him, really escalated the sport to where we are today.

It’s not really fair to completely blame Lance.  There are tons of reasons that the sport has morphed into a robotic state.

One is the team directors, sitting in their cars, felt like they were doing menial labor and needed an outlet to feel somewhat important.  Thus, the TV’s in the team cars and the radios.  You can’t have robots without a mechanism to sense,  control the action, and  to coordinate the robots.

Obviously, another is the doping.  With doping, one rider, or a group of riders, can stay good, nearly the whole year, better than everyone else, so the team can rely on them to perform at a super high level.   This isn’t the case when drugs aren’t prevalent in sport.

And I’m sure we could come up with tons of more reasons.  But, whatever the reasons, the end result is that it makes the sport boring.  Teams sitting at the front of the race, for hours, setting tempo, just to have a field sprint or race the last climb.  Sacrificing  a rider to just go back to a car and fetch water bottles.  Crazy.

It is worse with criterium  racing here in the United States.   Especially during stage racing, but it happens at all big criteriums.  One team of 8 riders, goes to the front and rides tempo for 90 minutes.  That is pretty boring-ass bike racing.  It isn’t going to garner new fans to the sport or keep the current ones.

One of the best things about the sport, previously, was the randomness to it.  Our sport is special because the best athletes don’t always win.  Drafting is pretty specific to cycling.  There are so many more aspects to it that just being a great athlete, doesn’t ensure success.   A great cyclist has to possess more than just good genetics.

I think that the UCI, and probably USAC, want our sport to have its heroes.  They think that each country, and/or team, having one rider, for the fans to cheer for, make the sport more popular.  And popularity is what brings in money.   It’s all about money.

What they don’t realize is that the sport can be successful, as it was, random.  The sport is beautiful because it is a visual sport.  A colorful field of cyclists is gorgeous on its own.  It is almost irrelevant who wins any given day.

I know you’re thinking, Tilford, you’re full of shit.  Sure, it matters who wins.  But it really doesn’t.

Look at the results from the 2014 Worlds a couple weeks ago.  Michal Kwiatkowski, Poland, made a beautiful move and took some calculated risks to win the race.  It was great to watch.  It was a beautiful move that paid off big.  Poland, that big cycling country, has the jersey for the next year.

Back in 1985, at the World Championships in Italy, a 39 year old rider,  who was thought to be well past his prime, Joop Zoetemelk, Holland, snuck away from a field of favorites, including Greg Lemond, to steal the victory.  It was a great move and memorable.

Someone wins each race.  The better riders will win more, but the sport is exciting when just about anyone wins.

We have a segment of the sport that allows the best cyclists shine.  It is stage racing.  Stage racing is the aspect of the sport that supposedly sorts out the best all around riders in the sport. But the whole sport isn’t only about stage racing, even though the powers at be, would like to make us all think so.

The sport is unique, and so great, because any size athlete can excel at some aspect of it.  You don’t have to be an American athlete, 6′ 3″ +, and 250 lbs., to compete.    (But when the same scrawny little climbers start winning the flat time trials, then we have issues.)   Any body style has a place in the sport, whether on the road, track, MTB or cross.  It is a very diverse sport in that regard.

I don’t know how to “fix” this.  It took a couple decades to get here and that is all that most people knowo f the sport.  Since television and the internet, all the sport most of us has seen is the current way.  They didn’t get to observe and compete when it was much more random.

I think that if they had a chance to see racing of old, they would realize that it is much better for the sport and is way more exciting

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Racing in Polluted Air

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I’ve had the “pleasure” to race in pretty polluted air a few times.  I thought of this after reading Phil Gaimon’s interview about him supporting the shortening of stage 2 of the Tour of China a couple days ago.

Like I said above, I’d done it.  I’d say the worse air I’ve ever raced in was in China also.  It was about 6 years ago when I went over and did a stage race in Shanghai.   The air was horrible.  I think they burn coal to cook, even in the major cities.  Whatever the reason, the air was off the charts horrible.  After the first stage, which probably was less than 100 miles, I was hurt so badly that I curled up in a ball and coughed for a couple hours.  And that is not that long ago.  It doesn’t look that it has improved too much.

Back in the 80’s the air in LA, and sometimes on the east coast too, was pretty horrible.  One race around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the air was bad.  I got lucky and got a bee in my skinsuit and had to peel it off, during the race.  I then quit.  The guys that finished looked like raccoons, the only white on their faces was their eyes.  And they were coughing and coughing.

Same with Somerville, New Jersey  a couple times.  I’ve found that when you’re racing, it isn’t that bad.  I think it is because, in cycling, we tend to take a bunch of shallow breaths, we don’t feel the effects of the pollution until we try to breathe normally after the race.

Anyway, the air in LA and Somerville has improved dramatically over the years.  The air in the US is much better since the early 80’s.  It probably has a lot to do with using unleaded gasoline and the better emissions on automobiles.

We should all feel privileged that we live in a country where, in general, we tend to have pretty pollution free air.  At least compared to the past.  And we have people addressing the situation.  That isn’t the case in many places around the world.  China for one.  (They make mandatory vacation day for workers to try to lessen the pollution.)  

We shouldn’t take it for granted, because it isn’t.

 

 

When I rode for Wheaties/Schwinn, the German guys that raced 6 days in the winter, said the air in the velodromes was horrible, with all the spectators smoking.

When I rode for Wheaties/Schwinn, the German guys that raced 6 days in the winter, said the air in the velodromes was horrible, with all the spectators smoking.

The classic, smoking while racing photo.

The classic, smoking while racing photo.