Politicians Need to be Reasonable

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I try to stay clear of politics here, but it has gotten to such a tipping point, it is nearly impossible to do.  Kansas might be more screwed up politically than it has ever been before.  And that is saying something, because Kansas has a history of jacked up politics.

Politics.  I sort of hate that word.  We elect politicians to represent us, our views and supposedly our needs, to form the government that guides us.  I’m not sure it is working nowadays. Actually, I’m really sure it isn’t working.  Not even close.

There is even a book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas”.  The book is about how Kansas has become a poster child for conservatism here in the US when it was initially left-wing, the People’s Party, which evolved into the Democratic Party.  It is pretty interesting.

Anyway, we all have our issue with politics.  I think most Americans are dismayed with this presidential election.  Trudi just returned from Europe and she said she was asked all the time about this election.  Europeans are more up to speed on our elections than most Americans. Most Europeans think we a nuts, which is probably an accurate observation.

Kansans are the proud owners of the Koch brothers.  David and Charles Koch are the post childs of warping elections by throwing money at elections.  They inherited Koch industries, which, makes its money by coming up with a new way of refining oil.  Their father Fred, was one of the founding fathers of the John Birch Society.  Obviously their agenda is very, very conservative. Their influence is approaching a billion dollars this year.   I think they are having a problem with this year’s Presidential election.

Anyway, we have some serious budget problems here in Kansas.  Our governor, Sam Brownback, cut taxes, seriously, 3 years ago.  He made a law that excludes any small business, any LLC, from paying any state tax.  Now we have nearly 200,000 LLC, out of a total population of 3 million.  Our Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is bragging about how many “new” businesses are starting up and how it is a leading economic indicator.  Pretty delusional guy.  I don’t understand why Kris can’t see all the “new businesses” are starting because of the tax law?

Anyway, through this tax cuts, our state budget is in the hole seriously.  We’ve already taken nearly $500 million out of the state highway fund to balance the general budget.  And our roads suck.  Our legislators just gave up, today, on trying to figure it out.  And that is what we elected them for.  They are too scared to raise taxes, because of re-election, that they were rather do nothing, and get re-elected, than to do something and risk being not elected.  Maybe that says something about the people voting for them.  It is just wrong.

Our elected officials are there to do a job.  Somehow they became so entrenched in their political views that they have become dysfunctional.  Just look at Kansas as an example of what can happen when people dig in and don’t compromise.  They are completely unreasonable. We’re circling the drain and no one seems to want to put the stopper in.

reasonable

 

Tucker had his first doggie cone yesterday.  He loved it as much as Bromont did.

Tucker had his first doggie cone yesterday. He loved it as much as Bromont did.

 

 

Velon, GoPro and Cameras

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I’ve already wrote a post about cameras and bicycle racing.  But it was an article about how the UCI DQ’d a cyclocross rider that streamed a race live from his bike.  I still don’t know the rule that the guy broke, but there must be one.

And then along come Velon.  Velon is a group of World Tour teams that have tried to gain some clout against all the evil forces of the sport, ie. the UCI, and ASO.  Velon has been trying to figure out a way to leverage some television dollars for the teams.  Velon’s mission statement, as of now –

“Velon wants to create a new economic for the sport and bring fans closer to the riders, races, and teams – by working together and in partnership with others.”

So they did this in a round-about way.  They signed a partnership with Infront, an international multi media sports marketing company, that has very deep pockets.  Infront dwarfs the UCI and ASO, owner of the Tour de France.

And now Velon has signed a two year deal with GoPro, to stream onboard media footage from the riders bikes.  Velon seems to have claimed the “ownership” of the onboard media just because they feel they can.  I find that interesting.

I’m wondering how just last year that the UCI disqualifies an individual rider for streaming media from a UCI cyclocross event and then all these World Tour Teams, sign their own camera deal and agree to stream media from their bikes.  It seems to me that the UCI thought they owned the rights to this media.  If not the UCI then the races themselves, the ASO.

I wondering when ASO sells the TV rights to the Tour or Tour of California, or other events the ASO owns, do they now feel they have to deal with Velon to buy the onboard camera footage?

What about teams that are racing the events and don’t belong to Velon.  Velon is just 11 teams. Can those guys have their own cameras and then sell the footage to whoever?  It seems to me that it is a sticky situation.  Maybe not?  Maybe they have all figure it all out.  I haven’t seen it in print if that is the case.

Anyway, I like the onboard footage.  I think that watching bicycle racing live is a thousand times more exciting that viewing it on a screen.  Onboard footage seems more realistic than other views.  It is going to be interesting seeing how this all plays out.

I guess none of the Shimano sponsored Velon teams has a deal with Shimano to use their cameras. Everyone is now going to be using GoPro.

I guess none of the Shimano sponsored Velon teams has a deal with Shimano to use their cameras. Everyone is now going to be using GoPro.

Tucker points just about anything that flies.  I bet he'd like his own onboard camera.  I'd like to see that footage.

Tucker points just about anything that flies. I bet he’d like his own onboard camera. I’d like to see that footage.

 

 

 

 

Trudi’s Respite

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Trudi flew back to Kansas City from Brussels yesterday.  She had been working full-on for the past 30 days and now gets a couple days off before having to head out to the Tour of California.

Flashback to when she left, the Brussels airport had been attacked a few days earlier, so she flew to Paris and had to drive back to to the BMC service course in Belgium. She did a race with the BMC development team and then flew to Pisa and drove a team car to take a ferry to Sicily.

She sat on top of Mt. Etna for a couple weeks while BMC shuttled riders in and out for an altitude training camp. She got back on a ferry, drove back up to France and did the Tour de Bretagne.  She was working once again for the BMC U-23 guys.  An American, Adrien Costa, won the race overall.  Pretty stellar result.

She went to the Brussels airport on Monday night, expecting chaos, which it was.  The airport is open, but under super security.  She was flying with Rohan Dennis and Michael Schär, who were going to Colorado to train a bit before California. They were staying in the Sheraton, across the street from the airport.  Like a stones throw from the terminal.  It still took over two hours in a line outside, to get to the tents set up outside to do security and check luggage.  Man, is the world jacked up.

Anyway, Tucker was ecstatic to see her.  She got up at 4 am this morning, which is par for the course returning from Europe.  I bet she can’t wait until she get to California where it is 2 hours earlier.

She is usually pretty done, so I doubt the 4 hours sleep last night will do her for the day.  It isn’t really that glamorous of a life supporting professional bike racers as one might think.  Lots of long work and travel days.

Alright, the weather is looking perfect for her couple recovery days back in Kansas.  High around 70 and lows around 50.  The roses are just starting to bloom, so spring is in full swing.

 

Both Trudi and Tucker were very happy to see each other.

Both Trudi and Tucker were very happy to see each other.

Hotel up on Mt. Etna.

Hotel up on Mt. Etna.

Ferry going and coming from Sicily.

Ferry going and coming from Sicily.

Tucker was running around like a crazy boy at the airport before Trudi's flight arrived.

Tucker was running around like a crazy boy at the airport before Trudi’s flight arrived.

Grassroot Bike Racing

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I got a good story for you.  The story, to me, emphasizes exactly the reason that we need to do our best to make our sport healthy.  And by healthy, I mean drug free, good officiating, reasonable entry fees, and fun. And fun might be the most important thing.

A couple weeks ago I got a call on Thursday, when I had already raced the time trial at Joe Martin, that a local guy from Topeka, Andrew, was looking for a ride to Fayetteville.  I told him that all the guys I knew that were coming had already left.

Andrew works a couple jobs, he works at a coffee shop and also at the Topeka Community Cycle Project.  He also goes to college at Washburn, a local university.

Anyway, Andrew’s car has a head gasket problem.  He has an old Volvo.  So he was looking for a ride.

I didn’t see Andrew until Sunday.  It turns out that he got a ride with someone from Topeka to Kansas City.  But the problem was that his ride from Kansas City to Fayetteville wasn’t until Friday, late morning.  That was his only option, so he took it.

He decided that he would just camp out at a Walmart on Thursday night, where he was supposed to meet his ride on Friday. He got down there late-ish on Thursday night and soon realized that his plan wasn’t that great.

He said that there really wasn’t anywhere to hang all night, with his backpack and bicycle.  He had assumed there was going to be a bench or something, out of the way, but he couldn’t find a place he felt comfortable.

So, he went back to the camping department and bought a sleeping bag for $10.  And he got on his bike and looked for a place to sleep.  It had rained a ton and the ground was pretty wet.

He finally found a place by a storage locker place.  It was quiet, and there were pine trees, which had dropped needles, so it was dry.  He crawled into his sleeping bag and got a few hours sleep.

He got to Fayetteville on Friday and had a hotel room floor to sleep on.  He caught a ride to the time trial, but didn’t have enough time to pre-ride the course.  He was racing the Cat 5 race.

He had a pretty bad time trial, but went on to finish 2nd, out of a 3 rider break later in the day in the road race.  Then he got 3rd in the criterium and finished 4th overall.  His team affiliation at Joe Martin was Poverty Studies.

There are tons of Andrew’s out there.  I meet them all the time.  I was him.  The sport used to really take good care of guys like him.  It took care of me.  I can’t tell you have many floors I’ve slept on, how many rides I caught, how many generous promoters gave me free entries.  All these people allowed me to get to the point where I could self sustain.

I don’t think the sport does such a good job of this anymore.  We’re not horrible, but I don’t think society, in general, is so generous as it was in the past.  We need to make sure we, as a sport, acknowledge the need for generosity and old time ways.

To be successful, our sport relies on volunteers, host housing, etc., at a grassroots level.  And the grassroots level is what eventually makes the professional level viable.  And the professionals draw more riders to take part.   It is a symbiotic relationship.

Anyway, here’s to the Andrew’s out there.  The guys that make the sport interesting.  The guys that are the true blood of cycling.

Andrew's gear by the storage unit Friday morning.

Andrew’s gear by the storage unit Friday morning.

He took a picture of the pine needle bed.

He took a picture of the pine needle bed.

Andrew at the club ride last night.

Andrew at the club ride last night.

The two best dressed volunteers at the Velotek Stage race on Sunday.

The two best dressed volunteers at the Velotek Stage race on Sunday.

 

Flat, Flat, Flat / Red Hook

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The title says it all.  I’ve flatted 3 times in the past week.  That is a record for me in races.  I need to check out the tires.  I know one was a cut and one was the valve stem, but the 3rd is still on the wheel and I haven’t looked at it yet.

Yesterday’s flat was a drag.  I woke up before 6 am feeling pretty much like racing.  It was a 87 mile road race around a local reservoir.  Kind of hilly and kind of windy. It was a pretty good group of guys and I was really looking forward to helping young Alex win the race overall.  But about 2 miles into the race, my rear tire was soft. There was one pickup truck with wheels and by the time I got a new wheel I was way too far behind, so got my wheel back and rode back to the start on a flat.

The racing was good though.  It all came down to time bonus sprints because the Olathe Subaru guys kept the field together, even though it was aggressive.  Dylan Postier beat Benn Stover for the stage and overall win.  Alex was 3rd, 8 seconds back.  Pretty close.

I posted that crash below at the Red Hook Criterium yesterday.  It is so funny because that is the first most people had heard about these races.  They have been going on for a while.  I was looking into going to one a couple years ago.  I missed the boat because lots of good “real criterium” riders are doing them now.  Daniel Holloway, Aldo Ino Ilesic, Colin Stickland, who won, even Tristan Uhl, Texan MTB/Cross/Road Racer, was in the top 10.  I envy those guys for making the effort to go there to race.

It is too bad that the motorcycle crash is how most of us were exposed to these races.  I like the energy and freedom this race series is exhibiting.  I talked to a couple of the Lupus racing guys last weekend at Joe Martin and they said that they had done Red Hook races and that they had to be super focused for the whole time.  Picking the right gear, they are fixed gear races, qualifying and then the race.

I sometimes wish that “normal criterium” racing would take some deviations and try to capture some of this enthusiasm.  I think that any night criterium on a short course, with a ton of corners, is super exciting. Brakes or no brakes.

Fatboy racing on MTB was exhilarating.  I remember after winning the Fatboy in Scottsdale, Julie Furtado, who had done some crazy exciting sports herself, from downhill skiing, MTB cross country, National Road Champion, etc., came up to me and said that was the most exciting bike race she had ever seen.  I could see in her eyes how much she loved it.  The race was a lot like a Red Hook race.  Less than a minute course, at night, lots of lights, on MTB’s with skinny tires. And the course was lined 5 deep with spectators.  There is no downside to that.

So, before you start judging these Red Hook races as ghetto bike races and a silly fad, give it a chance.  It is bike racing and these guys have a ton of skill.  I very much doubt that Alberto or Chris would make it a lap without paying their dues.  I like it and would like to ride one sometime.

Benn and Dylan sprinting uphill.  The line is still 200 meters up.

Benn and Dylan sprinting uphill. The line is still 200 meters up.


Dylan, left and Benn talking it over.

Dylan, left and Benn talking it over.


Finn, Shadd Smith's son, was dog sitting again  yesterday.  I saw Tucker pulling him all over.

Finn, Shadd Smith’s son, was dog sitting again yesterday. I saw Tucker pulling him all over.


I thought Kelly was watching Tucker, but then she road by on Finn's bike.

I thought Kelly was watching Tucker, but then she road by on Finn’s bike.


Finn, Tucker and Kelly. These guys are tight.

Finn, Tucker and Kelly. These guys are tight.


   
Tucker was a very happy puppy  

 

 

Red Hook Criterium Crash

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I bet a lot of you have already seen this crash from last night.  This is from the Red Hook Criterium in Brooklyn.  Red Hook races are on fixed gear bikes with no brakes.  Essentially track bikes.  I’m not sure why the motorcycle didn’t move, but the result was disastrous.

Velotek Gran Prix

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Yesterday we did two stages of the Velotek Gran Prix.  It is a just a local stage race, but has a pretty good field this year.  There are only around 30 riders in the Pro1/2 race, but it is a pretty even mix of teams and good riders.  Julie Funk, who is promoting the race, did a super job with the rain in the morning, keeping the race on time.

I sucked at the 2 minute time trial yesterday.  I don’t think I can start fast anymore, but maybe just didn’t warmup enough.  It was raining at the start and it was pretty early.  Garrick Valverde won the hillclimb in a time of 2:04, so he beat me by 19 seconds.  In Joe Martin last week, he beat me by about the same time in an 10:30 hillclimb.  Maybe I lost all the time in the first .75 mile last week too.

Alex Hoehn rode good, like he did last week and was 3rd, 6 seconds back.  Brian Jensen is back on the road after racing a couple gravel road races and a marathon MTB race and was 4th, which is pretty good considering how much different a 2 minute effort is from an 100 mile grind.

The criterium in the afternoon was strange, at least for me.  I couldn’t decide whether it was super easy or super hard.  I know that sounds weird, but I felt it was pretty hard, but could move around at will most of the time.

It was pretty animated and eventually the move went.  Alex made the move and drove it.  It wasn’t good for the Olathe Subaru guys, who had 8 guys in the race, but Benn Stover, who was 2nd in the TT, did a solo move and bridged up.  No one really wanted to work with Alex, the Subaru guys, Benn and Shadd Smith sitting on.  There were 4 other guys and I’m not sure their excuses.  But, Alex kept pulling and the field could never get their shit together.

Alex finished 3rd in the sprint, behind Dylan Postier, Tulsa Wheelmen and Shadd.  So with the 4 second time bonus Alex got for 3rd, he’s winning overall.

This morning we have a 87 mile road race around Lake Perry.  It is a pretty hard circuit, with a few medium climbs.  It is going to be a long race with such a small field.  I feel okay, and Brian will be much better the longer it gets, so hopefully we’ll be able to protect Alex.  I’m sure a bunch of guys are going to gang up on us, but that is local racing.

The race finishes on a pretty good climb off the damn at Lake Perry.  Hard enough that the field will split up at the finish.  Hopefully Alex will be on the same form he was yesterday, and last week in Joe Martin.  He is pretty good going up hills quick.  He only turned 18 last December, so if he was born just a couple weeks later he would be a junior.  He’s getting better pretty quickly.

Tucker is maturing quick too.  Yesterday at the criterium, I got my bike out of the van and let him out to wander.  Next thing I know he is about 1/3 mile up a hill chasing some vultures.  And he was crazy.  Bird crazy.  I walked up the hill, but he was already in the woods, chasing some other birds.  It took me 10 minutes to get him back, which isn’t that long compared to Bromont, but about 9 1/2 minutes longer than any other time he’s been loose.  Shadd Smith’s son, Finn, took care of Tucker during the races.  He had him all over the course, then took him back into the MTB trails at Clinton Park.  He was so done driving back from the race.  More tired than I’ve ever seen him.  But on the night walk, he had just as much energy as the afternoon.  He is a teenager I guess.

Tucker was a traitor after the race. He was hanging with the Olathe Subaru guys.

Tucker was a traitor after the race. He was hanging with the Olathe Subaru guys at their after race team meeting.

He was like this the whole drive back. Super done.

He was like this the whole drive back. Super done.