Bromont

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Bromont died this past weekend.   He was pretty much done with this world.  Trudi is a mess. She loved that dog to death.  I just took her to the Kansas City airport, heading off to the Tour of California.  Hopefully that will be a good distraction for her.

It is so strange how you become so dependent upon being responsible for another.  He shaped my life more than I want to admit.   I think he made many other people’s life’s better too, which isn’t an insignificant thing.

I had a deal with Bromont.  I promised to take care of him as best I could, as long as I could.  We took care of each other.  He was a pure joy to be around and a very good boy.  I’m going to miss him like crazy.

 

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Wilson Lake MTB

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Yesterday I decided, sort of spur of the moment, to get my MTB bike and head over to Wilson Lake to ride the trails there.  I was looking for a little mental relief of thinking about Bromont and there is a MTB race there tomorrow.  I’d never been to Wilson Lake, but had heard a ton of good things about it.

The race tomorrow has been going on the last few years, but I have never been around to race it.  I’m sort of on the fence still now.   Doug Chambers, Cameron Chambers‘ father,  promotes the race and is the trail guru of Wilson Lake.  I ran into a man, up in Cable Wisconsin last fall that had quit his job and was traveling the country riding MTB trails.  He said that Wilson Lake was the best trails he had ridden in the whole country.  That is saying something.

And he was right, it didn’t disappoint.  Ultimately, it did disappoint, but that was all human fault.

I picked Bill up and went over to North Topeka to meet up with a couple other friends, Roger Haubold and Eric Wenrich.  Eric owns a couple Dickies BBQ restaurants and we picked him up at his Topeka location, thus great turkey sandwiches for the road.

It is a 175 mile drive to Wilson Lake from Topeka.  That is about 1/3 the way to Boulder.  But, it went pretty quickly and we got there is just a little over 2 hours.  The terrain is very un-Kansas like.  It is almost like riding in Utah or Arizona.

The trail is really technical.  Lots of stair steps of rock, up and down.  It was a shock to the system getting out of the car, directly on the bike, and then being exposed to really technical trail riding.

We picked the wrong trail to ride first.  It was the most technical part of the 25 mile trail and we were all floundering.  Eventually, we started getting into the flow of things.  But that was short lived.

Early on, we were riding a pretty technical descent and Eric’s front tire went low and he got thrown over the bars.  He landed a good ways below where he was, dropping maybe 6-8 feet onto solid rock.  He got up, but was sort of tweaked.  He hurt a wrist that he was already having trouble with.  Plus, he completely pretzelled his front wheel.

Bill and I got on his wheel and got it sort of straight.  That is the best thing about disc brakes, your rim can be toast and you can still ride your bike.  I trued it up and it was usable.  We rode a few more miles and Roger hit a rock and cut a hole through the top of his front tire.  He tried to plug it, but it would seal, so he ended up putting a tube it.

The trail winds along the lake and there are lots of places if you miss a corner, you fall, really fall, a ways down.  But, it is beautiful.

Right about then, I started having trouble with my rear derailleur.  It seemed like it was seizing up somehow, but I couldn’t figure out what was the the problem.  Soon after, I was just riding and snap, my rear derailleur hanger is gone.  I really couldn’t see a problem.  I was going to make it into a single speed, but remembered I had a spare hanger in my jar.

I changed the hanger and it wasn’t working right.  Turns out the lower pulley bearing was loose of the plastic and was allowing the chain to get jammed between the pulley and cage.  I took the bottom pulley out and jammed the bearing back into the center of the pulley.  We were about 5 miles from the car and I didn’t want to walk back.

So, it seemed like everything was good, but we’d done less than 20 miles in 2 + hours.  But, it didn’t last.  Next thing I know, my rear derailleur is hanging again, hanger gone.

I told the other guys to leave and proceeded to make my bike into a single speed.  That never works too well, and it really didn’t.   I did a little hike-a-bike and got to the road, which was just a couple miles from the car.  Pretty soon Bill and Roger were there.

We limped back to the car and Eric was already there, with a front flat and hurt wrist.  And it was nearly dark.

That is one of the things I hate about riding MTB bikes.  Sometimes, there is a lot of stopping, for lots of different reasons, and the day seems like kind of a bust.  I think we all felt that way. Three of us had a bunch of bike work to do and Bill was feeling mediocre physically.

We got back to Topeka around 10:30.  I had to drop everyone off, so it was still later.

Trudi got to spend the day with Bromont.  She was supposed to head to California yesterday, for the Tour of California, but now she is going on Monday morning early.

I’m going to try to fix my bike today, and maybe ride it some.  Bromont is not so great, so I guess it depends on how he is before I decide if I’m going to head back to Wilson Lake and race tomorrow.

Either way, if you’re ever driving through Kansas on I-70, and have a mountain bike, it would be a huge missed opportunity if you didn’t stop and ride the Wilson Lake trails.  It is amazing there.

It is pretty dramatic riding the trail.  I think it is a 22 mile loop.  The race is 30 miles, but we only rode 17 miles yesterday.

It is pretty dramatic riding the trail. I think it is a 22 mile loop. The race is 30 miles, but we only rode 17 miles yesterday.

The best part was riding the relief along the lake.

The best part was riding the relief along the lake.

Glad these hangers broke instead of my rear derailleur and rear wheel.  I guess that is how they are made.

Glad these hangers broke instead of my rear derailleur and rear wheel. I guess that is how they are made.

These lizards were everywhere along the trail.

These lizards were everywhere along the trail.

Some of the BBQ at Eric's place.

Some of the BBQ at Eric’s place.

Eric, at the dinner stop, ice and Ibruprofen.

Eric, at the dinner stop, ice and ibruprofen.

 

Police Throwing Rocks Back

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Okay, these riots in Baltimore the last few days have been pretty crazy.  It really isn’t about the death of Freddy Gray.  That might have been the catalyst to start them, but this has been building for a while, everywhere.

Obviously, a bunch of people aren’t too happy with the Baltimore police after Freddy Gray ended up dead, with a broken back, after entering a police transport vehicle.  But these riots could be going on many places here in the US.  The anger is from the injustice pertaining to socioeconomic status and other huge issues relating to race.

The video footage of all riots are disturbing.  Everything about a riot is screwed up.  No one wins in a riot.  You can’t win a riot.  Everyone and everything loses.  Maybe the looters of CVS, who got a big arm full of diapers sort of won something, but in reality, in riots, everyone loses.

So, lets just take the cause and reasons out of this discussion.  And try to remove race too. This could be a riot after the World Series, or NCAA Basketball Finals, a rock concert, or for any number of reasons, in many different places.  Let’s try to look at this as any random riot and the police were trying to control the outcome.

This riot happened to be in Baltimore.  There are a bunch of videos out there that show police actually throwing rocks back at the protesters.  How stupid is that?  Police have to realize that nearly everything that they do, nowadays, is going to be captured on video.  They can’t do something as stupid as picking up rocks and hurling them back at the guys throwing them.

Here’s the deal.  Throwing rocks and bricks at police is really, really bad.  Someone could get killed.  But the police are there to try to establish order.  To stop the rock and brick throwing. Hopefully, by their presence, but if necessary, by arresting the guys doing it.

But there is never a case that it is okay for the police to actually participate in the rock throwing. They shouldn’t, and can’t get caught up in the escalation of the situation. This wasn’t a joust.  Or tit for tat.  It was a riot.   By them throwing rocks back, they are participating in that riot, not policing it.

Nothing guarantees that a rock that the cop throws is anywhere near accurate.  What if there is an innocent homeowner, standing in their yard, trying to protect their property and a rock, that left a police officers hand, wacks them on the head.  Who do they call?

The police are there to arrest people that are throwing rocks.  There isn’t another level of protection that can go up to the police officer and arrest them for escalating a riot by throwing rocks.

Like I said above, everyone loses in riots.  Property is destroyed, people are hurt and nothing gets figured out.  At least the police didn’t pull their guns out and start shooting.   But, I might understand that more than them picking up rocks and hurling them back.

Being a police officer is a job, a volunteer occupation.  The police can’t lower their, thus our, standards and fight back.  That isn’t their job.  They can’t let their emotions rage out of control and take the law into their own hands.  Their job is to defuse the situation.  By throwing rocks, they were escalating it.

 

A police officer throws an object at protestors.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A police officer throws an object at protestors. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Or a little May Day action in Seattle today?  This is on Capitol Hill.  Not the ghettos of Baltimore.  The one bike cop makes a pretty nice on the fly tackle off his bike.  Wonder what that guy did to piss them off?

6 month Ban for “Motorized Doping” – UCI

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Me and the UCI don’t see eye to eye much when it comes to penalties levied for cheating in bike races.  Like really cheating, not just crossing the yellow line type cheating.

I guess they decided that there must be some factual evidence that some professionals have been using electric motors during competition.  I say that because there would be no reason to address a issue, unless there was an issue.

So, the UCI made some rules if, or when, they catch some guy riding around, or attempting to ride around, on a bike with a motor in it.  Here is a link to an article at Cyclingnews.

What that article says is that the UCI thinks it is being very strict that mandating that a rider caught would face a minimum suspension of, yes, 6 months, for using a motor in a professional race.  Plus, fines, of course.  But the team would also face that same time-out, plus fines of 100000 to a million Swiss Francs.

UCI’s president Brian Cookson said, “The UCI takes the issue of technological doping, such as the ability to use hidden motors, very seriously.”

Come on, seriously?  If you catch a rider trying to race a race with a motor in his bike, then he has to serve a 6 month time-out?  Fuck that.  The guy is obviously really, really cheating, the same as a guy that injects EPO and HGH.  But the difference here is that you have an electric motor as absolute positive proof that he was doing it.  Not all this, I ate my grandma’s dairy cow, sat on Tenerife for month, explanations for why there are problems in their blood.

And personally, I don’t ever want to see a guy that would attempt to use a motor on his bike to ever be seen again.  Use an electric motor, then you should be suspended for life.

The article says that in Italy, there have been 1200 electric motors, I assume small enough to be contained within the tubing of a bike, sold recently. It says that the motor can be synced with a heart-rate monitor and it kicks in when the heart-rate hits a pre-set threshold.  Also, some can be bluetooth and be operated remotely.

Who comes up with this stuff?  Lets make a small electric motor that can be operated remotely?  If this technology is in existence, then it has to be for the competition side of our sport.  Or maybe they made it for  a kind of twisted practical joke to play on someone?  Seems a little expensive for that.

Anyway, back to the UCI.  This new sanction rule for electric motors just goes to show what page the UCI is on when it comes to tolerating real cheating.  They call it electronic doping.  It probably isn’t as advantageous as the real doping, but no doubt it helps.  If someone goes to this extent to cheat, then they are gone.  BIke racing is not a right, it is a privilege.

Come on, UCI.  Let’s just make the rules so that riders “are forced” into just using their own power to make their bikes go forward.  None of this, if you do this, then you’ll be slapped this hard shit.  Bike racing is a very complicated sport, but the real basis of it is that a rider has to power the bike.

My stance, if I were czar of the sport, would be that the team that was caught electronically doping their riders, would instantly be disbanded, never to be seen again.  The team directors and all support of the teams would never be allowed to work in the sport again.  And the rider or riders using the motors, would never be issued a license again, suspended forever, plus would all have to go to Levi’s Grand Fondo, each and every year, until they die.  On their own dime.

But that is just me.

 

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The first half of the video is showing how to insert the electric motor and for 3:30 on, it shows the Cancellara deal at Pari-Roubaix and Flanders from a while ago.

Riding Hard

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Yesterday, on the evening ride, I was feeling just so/so.  My mind has been on other things and cycling has sort of been put on the back burner, which is abnormal for me.  I’m trying to keep some sort of resemblance of form, even though it seems to be changing, and elusive, depending on the moon cycles or something.

They are still burning around here, which means the air isn’t good.  Plus, the pollen count if off the charts.  I was standing in my front yard, talking to a good friend who lives in Italy and was in town visiting her mom.  When I went back inside, the top of my head was covered with oak pollen.  That was in just 5 minutes or so.

Anyway, I was riding with a group of 7 that were going for about 50 miles.  It was pretty windy from the Northeast and we were riding directly east into it.  We started out riding out by the river, which is pretty dead flat, and I was riding next to Bill, doing about 18 mph at 300 watts.  I’m not too big on just sitting and pedaling that hard for a long time.  That is what is nice about Eastern Kansas, it is rolling hills just about everywhere, so you never have to stay seated for extended periods of time.

I was telling Bill that I was breathing bad.  I can tell when I’m breathing badly because my arms get just as tired as my legs, especially when climbing out of the saddle.  Plus, I was having trouble taking a full breath.  And this was early in the ride.

About 20 miles from home, my brother, Kris, “attacked” the group.  I’m not really sure what he was doing, I guess he wanted to ride harder than we were going.  So, the speed picked up.  Bill and I kept riding side by side, but it was pretty hard.  We stayed at the front for maybe 3 miles, until we had almost caught him.

But, the speed never slowed down.  I couldn’t tell how I was going.  I felt pretty okay riding steady state hard, but didn’t much like any change of speed.  Pretty soon we caught Kris and we were just rotating.  Scott Williamson, who had raced Joe Martin last weekend, kept it going pretty hard initially.  Then Kris went hard again and pretty soon I ended up at the front.

Sometimes when I get to the front, if Bill is feeling bad and doesn’t relieve me, I end up pulling for quite a while.  I didn’t feel like doing that yesterday, but that is what seemed to be happening.  There was a big hill, we call Indian Hill for some reason, up the road less than a mile, and I was pretty sure no one was going to come by before it since I’d been left out in front too long already.

So, we start up Indian Hill.  I was a little hurt, but was going to ride up it steady fast.  That was until Scott came blowing by me.  My jump is completely non-existent now and he was instantly 5 bike lengths ahead.  The hill isn’t long, maybe 200 meters, but it is hard enough.  I slowly crawl back up towards Scott at the top and the other 5 guys are a little ways back.

So, Scott and I kept going hard.  I haven’t went that hard in a long time.  I wasn’t going good, mainly from lack of air, but I was trying to pull good.  We kept a good pace for the next 10 miles.  We lost the tailwind, heading back west.  It always seems to die towards sunset.  It seemed like we should have been going over 30, but were hovering closer to 28 most of the time.

So, we rode to where we sprint at the end.  Scott led it out from in front and I could barely hold his wheel.  After we finished, I couldn’t stop coughing.  That is unusual for me.  If I’m getting some exercise induced asthma or something, it is usually from going way too hard early.  Like riding a short time trial way too hard.  It isn’t after 2 + hours of doing a ride and then 30 minutes hard.

The whole way home I was coughing and spitting up phlegm.  Plus, my nose was dripping down the back of my throat.  It has to be allergies.

Whatever the reason, it is more than a little disconcerting.  I am already behind where I want to be form-wise.  I had to go back and look at Strava to figure out what I’ve been doing the last few weeks, that is how out of it I am mentally.  I sort of forgot I was sick just over a week ago and missed 4 or 5 days.  That might explain it some.

I’m sort of scared going to a real race.  Everyone is a month or two fitter and I’m still at square one.  Look at Scott for example.  He has probably around 15-20 race days already.  And it shows.  He has no trouble riding at speed.  I, on the other hand, have done two races this year, one in February and then a 100 mile gravel road race a few weeks ago.  Neither one of those races are going to give me any sort of form for riding fast.  They gave me power, but not top end.

I’m not really going anywhere here.  Just a little venting about how painful next month or two is going to be.  Coming up pretty soon are a lot of criteriums that I historically do.  Memorial Day and Tulsa Tough, etc.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get up to speed for those races.  It’s a little worrisome.

 Exercise induced asthma.

 

 

asthma

 

Strong, Credible Evidence

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I’ve been having a little email chat/banter, back and forth, with an old friend of mine.  It is about a certain rider that I think shows all the signs of a rider that is doping.  This rider has never tested positive and, as far as I know, never had anything mentioned publicly about implications of doping.

I’ve been having these discussions, with this certain person, over the past two decades.  He’s been involved in the sport for as long as me and has historically been either evasive or just downright opposite, of my views of the prevalence of doping in the sport, both here and in Europe.  It’s as opposite as his defense of Lance back around 2000, when I wasn’t.

We got into it again recently and he said the rider was a shoe-in, looking at the start list.  This race wasn’t the Tour de France, which might be somewhat predictable before the start, but it was a one day race.  When you can pick the rider that is going to win any given race, on a professional level, before the start, then there is something screwy going on.  One of the coolest things about the sport is that it is very unpredictable.  It is a little more predictable for one day races in Europe, with whole teams controlling the race for a single rider, but still only one guy wins and the rest of the teams look a little silly after the fact.

Anyway, my friend has a selective memory and got a little feisty and said,

Steve, don’t think for a second that I didn’t believe extensive doping was going on in the 90’s and 2000’s. I knew it like everyone else knew it. No one spoke out in public back then including you.

I had to remind him of an interview I did back in 1998 with MTB Action about the prevalence of doping in MTB racing and the road.  I think that was pretty vocal.  That was 17 years ago.  That is very depressing.

Anyway, he was implying that we were all guilty because of the silence.  He said that he needed “Strong, credible evidence” of doping by this rider.

I asked him what that would be?  The same evidence I had knowing that Ivan Stevic, Tom Danielson, Kayle Leo Grande, Ryder Hesjedal, Lance, or dozens of other guys that were riding juiced.  I told him that I had the same evidence, personal observation.  I guess that isn’t enough for him.

But, it isn’t good enough for anyone.  I’ve been asked a ton of times, if I am so sure that a certain rider is doping, why not just go public?  Also, that USAC has a program for reporting a suspect rider.

Look at Greg Henderson’s situaton  after he went public and tweeted about Fabian Aru doping.  Greg tweeted –

Sad to see @FABARO1 “sick”. Mate make sure next time u come back to our sport “healthy”. Aka. Clean! #biopassport! Or don’t come back!

— Greg Henderson (@Greghenderson1)

I am so sick of it. It becomes common knowledge within days. Why try cheat

— Greg Henderson (@Greghenderson1)

Now Aru is threatening, or actually, suing Henderson over the tweet.  Even though Henderson tried to apologize, via twitter.   It must of been such common knowledge, in the pro peloton, that Aru was having some issues, but without evidence, Henderson is most likely screwed.

And, for the USAC program, I have no confidence in the tests.  Obviously they don’t work close to anywhere close to as well as we all hope they might.

That said, I don’t think that there is ever any strong, credible evidence.  Not until a rider actually confesses do fans believe that their hero doped.

I insinuated that Ryder Hesjeal used drugs, in a post about Tom Danielson.   Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin’s Team Owner, came back at me asking how I could imply that Ryder, who had won the Giro, used drugs, just because he rode a year for the Postal Service.  Then, just a little while later, Jonathan had to confirm that Ryder did dope, but only when he was MTB racing, after Michael Rasmussen named Ryder in his book.

That irked me to know end.  At a twistedspoke, I had a whole post dedicated to my Hatchet Job of Jonathan Vaughters.  I wonder if he feels a little silly citing Ryder as an example of how clean the sport is since he won a Grand Tour.

I didn’t know Ryder doped because he rode for the Postal Service.  I knew he doped because I raced against him dozens of times and it was very apparent that he doped.  It isn’t that hard to recognize.

Anyway, my friend is sticking with his stance.  At the end of his last email, he said,

“I am an optimist for the future generation and I believe ____________ is part of that new generation of clean riders.”

He is wrong, but I have to admire his optimism.  Won’t it be great if it even finally works out that way.

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Belgian Waffle Ride and Trans Iowa

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This weekend had a couple epic races going on.  One was the Trans Iowa and the other is the Belgian Waffle Ride.  Completely different races, a long way apart, but the same vibe and awesomeness.

Yesterday, at the Trans Iowa, it was carnage.  There were torrential rains and only one rider, Greg Gleason, made it to the first check point within the time limit.  And by only 4 minutes.  He kept going, but didn’t make it to the finish line.  It was that bad.  But, I know there are some great life stories from yesterday.  That is what it is all about.

Today is the Belgian Waffle Ride north of San Diego.  Here’s a link to a Sport Illustrated article from a couple days ago.  The race is sponsored by Spy and has been growing by leaps and bounds.  I think there are something like 1100 riders doing it, but that number isn’t written in stone.   A number I do know is that it is 142 miles long and over 10000 feet of climbing.  Some of it on dirt.  Or mud this year.

It was raining pretty good yesterday and I think they might of already changed the course some because of sections unrideable.  It is lucky that the rain didn’t come in today, like it did in Iowa.

My team mate Brian Jensen, Dirty Kanza 200 winner last year, flew out to San DIego to do the race.  I think he is in pretty good shape.  He should do well, win, I’m not sure.  Kind of depends.  He is going to be racing with a bunch of riders that have done every section of dirt multiple times.

I’m sure he is going to have a bunch of life memories of the day.  That is what it is all about.

transiowa

This photo was taken by Jason Boucher yesterday.  He shot in black and white.  To see a bunch of his photos from the event, click here to check them out.  Pretty epic day, for sure.

The start of the Belgian Waffle Ride this morning.

The start of the Belgian Waffle Ride this morning.

Brian and Michelle at the start.

Brian and Michelle at the start.

Brian heading out for an all day affair.

Brian heading out for an all day affair.

Feed zone 3 hours in.

Feed zone 3 hours in.