Innovation in Cycling Interests Me

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I was over at Doug Report and saw an article that Cycling Weekly did about innovation in cycling.  It varied from Campy quick releases to neoprene shoe covers.  One thing listed was aero position by Graeme Obree.

Graeme Obree is an interesting guy.  Not accepted by the elite cycling crowd, he went about his own business and designed, built and rode bicycles that didn’t fit the current standards.  The UCI treated him like shit.  Making arbitrary, truly bullshit rules, to disallow him from kicking ass at the World Championships, after he was already World Champion.

I remember racing in England and watching a documentary showing Obree’s path to the World Championships.   It is a comparison between what Chris Boardman was doing and then that of Graeme Obree.  It couldn’t be any more different.  Obree taking apart a washing machine for bearings and Chris Boardman ordering multiple frames.

Anyway, I found the piece on YouTube.  It is below.  If you have a little extra time sometime, it is interesting.

 

Lance’s Podcasts

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I saw that Lance did a new podcast interviewing his old/new teammates before the 24 Hour of Old Pueblo.  I’m actually in a bit of a hurry today, so didn’t get a chance to listen it yet, but am gonna.

I have heard a few of Lance’s podcasts, not all.  I’ve found each to be pretty good.  Very entertaining.  The guy is pretty smart.

From the people that agree to do the podcasts with Lance, it is very obvious that many people don’t hold any animosity towards him.   His doping was a non-issue in their minds.  It is interesting thinking about that.

When I was talking with Lance on the phone, a couple years ago, I told him that if he acted piously, just plain sincere, then I believed most Americans would eventually treat him nicely.  We have that in our DNA for some reason.  We don’t hold long term grudges against “our enemies”.  Not that Lance would qualify for that label.  But, you understand what I’m saying.

I’m not going to not listen to his podcasts because I don’t agree with his actions.  He gets some pretty interesting people.  Very diverse.  From Rahm Emanuel, to Bo Jackson, to the police chief of Houston, Seal, even T.J. Juskiewicz, the promoter of RAGBRAI.

Anyway, listen if you want.  I have some driving to do, so plan on listening to a couple today.

Here is a link to all he’s done. 

 

 

WADA Puerto Blood Bag Issues

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I saw an article last week about WADA’s legal issue, thus worry, with the blood bags it got from Operation Puerto.   The World Anti-Doping Agency got the blood bags from the Spanish courts back in July of 2015.  Since then they have sat on the information they have.

And they have the names of supposedly 36 athletes.  Not all cyclists, but all guys that were planning on cheating their respective sports.

I don’t get it.  They can’t suspend the athletes because the time has run out.  So, the least they can do is embarrass the shit out of them, showing them all of being “potential cheaters”.  And I say potential because, I’d assume, that many of these guys have never tested positive for doping.  And many are probably retired.

I applaud retesting blood and urine samples as the technology gets better.  They did it at both the Olympics recently.  I think it is just another way to keep athletes considering the risk/rewards from doping.  When they think that they might be outed years after they cheat, that might stop them from starting initially.  I don’t know.

But this “legal” question is weird.  Just give the names to the respective countries cycling federations and let their legal departments deal with them.  I’m sure there is a country to where it isn’t illegal.  Then they can release all the names.  Let the dick athletes sue them.  I doubt they will.    I really don’t know, but there seems that there should be a way to do this.

I’m not sure why we are having so many issue with standing up for the “legal rights” of these athletes that cheated over 10 years ago.  We are rewarding them by having a screwed up system that can’t get control of the evidence until the statute of limitations has expired.  Seems backwards for some reason.

24 Hour Update

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There is only a couple hours left in the 24 Hour of Old Pueblo.   I’ve been following the results on and off.  Vincent, Jed and Company had some physical issues, so they decided health was more important than playing in the desert.

Seems like Lance’s team is slowing moving up to my predicted 2nd place finish in their 4 man team category.   They are 4 minutes back of 2nd now, but there is a team of singlespeed guys beating them.  They don’t have a chance to win.

The “Nine Inch Males” team of Kalan Beisel, Kyle Trudeau and friends is smearing everyone.  I know Kalan and rode with Kyle a couple years ago at the race.  They are both hauling ass and aren’t going to lose their two lap lead. (It is about an hour a lap.)

I guess it has been pretty wet there.  And not that warm.  Sounds miserable, but I still wish I was there, either riding or just enjoying.  Next year for sure.

Okay, the live results are here still.  

Jed and Vincent before the start. Jed is in the hospital currently.

The official race starter.

 

 

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo Starts Today

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Today is the start of a 24 Hour MTB race outside of Tucson.  I wish I was there.  I wouldn’t have thought I would normally think that, but I got the pleasure of doing the event two years again and was surprised about how great it was.  As an event and as a life experience.

Vincent is there again this year, along with my friend Jed Schneider, along with VIncent’s team mate for Racer X, Bob Campbell.  They invited me, but I felt that it wouldn’t maybe be in my best interest, recovery-wise, to do something so extreme only 4 months after experiencing a TBI. Shows you that age sometimes gives you some common sense.   Not that I’m all that happy about the whole decision.

The race is on a pretty great loop in the desert.  It takes around an hour per lap.  If you’re fast, you do a lap under a hour, if not so, it is over an hour.  I think that the winning overall team did 23 laps the year I did it.  We were at 22, finishing 3rd in the 4 person category.

Lance and 3 old Postal Service team mates are racing the event.  Lance can do it because it isn’t sanctioned.  It will probably add something, I’m not sure what.   LIke I wrote a while ago, I don’t think they are just there to ride around and have fun.  We’ll see.

Anyway, I wish all the riders good luck, which is always nice to have.  The weather looks iffy.  It shows wind and cool temperatures until mid afternoon, then rain from 3 – 10 tonight.  Ouch.

Even so, I am jealous that they get to spend tonight, riding around the desert, with lights on.  It really is something that should be on all rider’s bucket list, even if they don’t think it should.

You can following the results live here.

The race course at night.

Doing laps in the desert 2015.

Sunrise was very special. I got lucky and got to do the lap when it changed for dark to light. It was crazy beautiful.

 

 

 

Picking the Right Line

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Bill and I, plus a few others spread out over a few days, have been riding back and forth to Lawrence on gravel.  It is one of my favorite rides, super scenic and pretty hard.  It is a nice ride to do if it is windy out, since there is some shelter, in places.

Anyway, the gravel here is really good right now.  Mostly it is nearly pavement.  Super smooth pavement.  But on the RIver Road, they have dumped a new load of gravel on a long section by the railroad tracks.  New gravel is always slow and much harder to negotiate.

On Sunday, when we were riding over to Lawrence, the fast line was really off the road, where the grader had driven, but there was no gravel.  It looked a little loose, but it was pretty hard and way easier.

It got me thinking about how important it is to ride the right line when there are choices.  Of course, riding gravel, there are always better lines.  At least where there is a lot of loose gravel.

LIke I said above, much of the gravel in Eastern Kansas right now is hard as rock and you could ride a road bike on it without worrying too much about flatting.  But when you get to the new, loose stuff, that is a different story.

It goes the same with cobbles.  I’ve raced a fair amount over in Belgium, on the road.   Not much when I was an amateur, but later on after I turned Pro.  I hadn’t ridden much on cobbles until I went over to Europe with the Wheaties/Schwinn team.  We were based in Germany, because a couple guys on the team were from there, but we drove to Switzerland and Belgium to race.

One race I remember vividly was one that the 7-11 team was at.  We hadn’t seen many of the guys were knew, but Davis and his whole team were at the start in Brussels.  The race was pretty important, so nearly all the best teams were racing.  It was longish, 250 km, with lots of cobble sections.

Before the start I ran into Phil Anderson, who had ridden Coor’s Classic on my Levis team and I knew pretty well.  He’d been racing in Belgium for a long time and knew pretty much all the cobble sections well.  Plus, I knew Carlo Bomans.  I raced with him at the Tour of Chili and he was riding for Mapei now.   So, both of them told me to stay close because positioning before the cobbles was key.

It was sort of early in the race, maybe 1/2 way and we’d already ridden some cobbles.  I’m not really that good on cobbles.  I don’t have a ton of power on my seat and standing really isn’t an option.  So I have to try pretty hard.

I was riding pretty far back in the field, maybe half way back, next to Davis Phinney.  And it started going pretty fast.  It was obvious that we were getting near a cobble section.  Davis said something like, this is so stupid that we go so hard to the cobbles when it all gets back together anyway.

I looked up and saw Phil riding near the front, and he was so good at positioning, so I went to the side of the peloton and put in a huge effort to get to the front.  I looked up and the lead motorcycle, which was a couple hundred meters ahead, did a little left right jog.  I could tell the cobbles started there.

It was a sprint, but I got to the jog in the top 3.  It was a long cobble section, super narrow and rough.  There was a crown on the middle of the road and next to the crown were two pretty rough wheel indentations that had misplaced cobbles.  Pretty unrideable.

I was hardly holding the wheel ahead of me.  The I looked to the left and next to the cobbles, there was a dirt path and was smooth.  There was hardly anyone standing on it.  I jumped across the wheel dips and got onto the dirt.  It was so much easier.  But this is where I made a mistake.

Instead of just killing it, I used the smooth dirt to rest.  Pretty soon another rider, that was ahead of me, moved over, then another and finally I was 5 or 6 guys back on the dirt and the guys on the cobbles were going way faster.

So I moved back onto the cobbles, got stuck a little in the rough part and finally got onto the crown.  I was shot.  I moved back to the dirt, right when the front of the remaining field finished the cobble section and hit the smooth road.

I looked back and there was no one behind me.  No riders and no cars.  I was kind of dropped, but maybe only 10 bike lengths off the back.  I made a huge effort and barely got to the back of the group.  Your bike feels like it is in molasses when you get to the smooth road, after riding on the cobbles and I had been redlined for the past 3 kilometers.

There were maybe 20 riders in the front group.  I sat on a little, then started rotating.  We rode the next 2 hours petty smooth.  I kept looking back and didn’t see anyone.  Finally, right when we were approaching the finish circuits, I saw a big group coming up.

It was probably twice as big as the front group.  Davis was in the group and they had been drilling it ever since they got dropped.  I could tell Davis was hurt and couldn’t help myself but repeating his little line before we hit the cobbles.  Something about how stupid it was going so hard to get into position for that cobble section.

Anyway, it was a field sprint and I did alright.  And the only reason I had any energy left at all was because there was a dirt path next to the cobble sections.  If I would have had to ride on the rocks the whole way, I would have been in the 2nd group, going way harder than I did for way too long of a time.

I used this technique the rest of the time in Europe.  Many times, even climbing, there is an alternate line which is easier.  It is just key getting to that line first, so you can ride at the front.

The gravel near the railroad track. The dirt on the left was the line here.

 

 

Descending Like Sagan

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I did a post a while a go about “the new” way Sagan was descending.  And it might not have been so new, but for sure, Peter Sagan made it possible for this style to become way more common.   Funny how that works.

Descending on your top tube isn’t for the faint of heart.  It really isn’t that stable of a position on a bicycle when you are going 90 kph +.  The reason is that you’ve taken all you shock absorbing abilities out of the mix.  By that I meant that when you are sitting on your top tube, your knees and elbows are available to be used for bumps.

I thought of this while watching the finish of the Ruta del Sol yesterday.  Valverde had dropped Contador on the final climb and they were both descending pretty aero.  Then Contador starts to pedal while tucked, like Sagan started, then Froome did to win a stage at the Tour last year.

I don’t get the pedaling while tucked.  For one, I can’t really do it.  It is hard enough getting in the position.  I think I read Sagan say he could produce something over 200 watts for doing it.  I guess that is enough to add speed, but to me, it seems a little over the top.

Contador is so small, he looks silly pedalling.  The video of the finish is below.  Go to around 1:40 into it and you’ll see him start pedalling tucked.

Then there is a shot of Valverde and he is way over his front end while in the top tube, tucked position.  Talk about being unstable.  The road is pretty good, but this seemed ridiculous, since it really all got back together again anyway.

I tuck like this, at last practice tucking like this now.  I can’t see doing it in a race unless I was off the front trying to win descending, or off the back, trying to catch back on.  It seems valueless if you do this in a field.  You might as well be just in a normal tuck, and drafting.

Anyway, look at the photos and video.  If you decide it is for you, make sure you watch out from your front tire.  Seems like nearly everyone I know had an issue with burning the inside of their knees with their front tire initially.  These guys are so far forward, that they could burn their upper thighs.  Like I said above, seems like it wouldn’t be that stable, but it seems to have worked for him.

Contador catching Valverde.

Valverde scoots up on his top tube and get more forward.

Then there is Froome position, which is even more forward.