Monthly Archives: April 2010

Upside down Sponsorship – Old Coor’s Classic Photo

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USA Women's team before Tour of Flanders.

I have a pet peeve about cycling clothing with the lettering upside down. In my mind there isn’t an excuse for it. Above is a photo from the US Women’s Nationals Team at the Tour of Flanders. I have never seen lettering that is more wrong than this. It is upside down on the shorts. And facing up. I guess if the television shot is from the helicopter, then it is just upside down.

When I was riding for Wheaties/Schwinn, Michael Vaartens had a hook up with a Belgium clothing manufacture, so we had the clothing made there. It was a super fast turn around. When we got the clothing, all the long sleeve jerseys and skinsuits had the arms sewn on wrong. Opposite. So all the writing was upside down. I couldn’t stand it. So, I took my arms off and sewed them on correctly. We raced all Spring in some pretty horrible weather. It took at least two months before someone on the team said that our clothing was printed wrong. Then, everyone jumped in on the discussion. I didn’t say anything. A couple weeks later, there was a photo in the paper of me at some race with the printing correctly. Amazingly, someone noticed that my sleeves was sewn on right and wanted to know why my clothing was made right. I told them I just switched the arms. They all were like, “wow, what a great idea.” But, not one rider the rest of the year had their clothing altered. Guess it didn’t bother them.

An old Coor's Classic photo from Sacramento coming off the cobbles. Steve Bauer is in front in the leader's jersey. This was a criterium in Old Sacramento that had a real cobble section. Like Belgium cobble. We did this race in the evening after racing from Nevada City to Sacramento earlier in the day. It was a pretty hard day. I am sandwiched between the two East German National Team riders in gray. They only had 3 riders come to the race that year and they won the team GC overall. Pretty crazy.

Spring in Kansas – Dreams

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It is super hard to ride easy in Kansas. Anytime of the year. Spring and fall are windy. Summer is hot. And winters now are winters of old. Snow seems to be the norm nowadays. So far, the last 3 days I’ve been back have been typical spring conditions. Very pleasant temperatures, but super windy. Yesterday, on the Wednesday ride, we had a pretty okay turnout. Something around 15 of us at the start. But, the wind was howling from the South at 25+mph. I feel an obligation to try to keep everyone in the fold. Which isn’t an easy thing to do when it’s that windy. And there is a complete difference in abilities here. Nearly everyone races some, but there is a wide gap in fitness. We’re lucky to have pretty empty roads. We ended up doing most of the ride with a side wind. Center line to gutter. Or gutter to center line. It worked out pretty well. I think nearly 10 of us made it to the “final sprint”. We had a little over 40 miles and the average speed was 21.5mph. I was kind of surprised that that average speed was that fast. I knew the ride seemed kind of hard, but with the wind, it should of been much slower. Guess everyone is going pretty good. This early move to daylight savings time really works wonders for full time, employed riders.

I had a weird dream last night. I dreamt that I went to a physical therapy place here in Topeka to get my shoulder fixed. They sponsor a local cycling club. They told me it was going to cost $800 to join and then it was going to be $129 month dues. I thought, “Man, that seems expensive, but maybe it will be worth it to get better.” So, I paid at the desk and when I started looking around, all the riders that are sponsored by the place were there. They were getting facials, manicures, pedicures and all sorts of other stuff. They had cotton between their toes. There wasn’t any physical therapy going on. I had just joined a spa, I guess. I don’t usually remember dreams that vividly. Hopefully there isn’t much to interpret here. Think it is relevant?

This morning's weather. It only gets windier later on in the day.

Photo Trudi sent from Europe of a vending machine that sells different size tubes.

I had to ride across this metal bridge crossing the Mississippi in Davenport in the rain. I wasn't comfortable. But, I do love the construction.

Ad from the paper today. Can you believe the soda companies are putting ads in the paper bragging about how few calories children are consuming of their products?

Permanent spare wheel cards. A stolen idea. Plastic reenforced with duct tape.

The best travelling companion you could ask for. He can sleep in any postion.

Nature Valley Time Trial Discussion

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It has come to my attention that there is an on going discussion on Velonews.com about the recent decision to ban TT bikes at the Nature Valley Gran Prix next month. Click here to check it out.

My poor time trialing in 2008 was used as a reason that TT bikes shouldn’t be allowed. I missed the time cut by a few seconds. (I had/have never missed a time cut in my life in any other race, TT or road.)

I missed the time cut because I miscalculated how fast I had to ride to stay in the race. I didn’t have a TT bike (or wanted one) and it was obvious, that I wasn’t going to finish good in the time trial, so why ride hard. I had no idea that someone would average nearly 30 mph in those windy conditions with a 1 km headwind climb to the finish. It was my mistake.

From my perspective, I’m not going with the rational that it is a PRO level event and that if one is entered in this event, then they should be prepared to compete on a PRO level no matter what the cost.

Nature Valley is a great race. It is on the NRC calender. But, the NRC is a 2nd tier series now. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. USAC have created this PRO Tour series that is the premier series in the country. Look at the number of teams that race in Nature Valley, Joe Martin or any other NRC race that has the full 8 rider team full. Usually less than half of the teams in the race field a full team. And sometimes much less than that. It is not on the UCI calender. It is just a big regional/national event.

That aside, I totally support this new rule. I’m not going with the level the playing field rational. I’m going with it is stupid to make everyone bring 2 bikes to a race when one of the bikes is going to be used for less than 13 minutes. I stayed with a couple women two years ago that both flew with TT bikes to the race. $175 each way. That is $350 extra. Multiply that by the 100+ riders that fly to the event and you get to a pretty stupid number. It is the same reason that in Qatar at the start of the PRO season, riders have to do the TTT on their road bikes. The upside doesn’t justify the expense.

Dave LaPorte, race director of Nature Valley, is a great guy. And a smart guy. The sport needs more people like him involved. He doesn’t come from a cycling background. He is all about what makes the race better. For the sponsors, for the riders, and for the spectators. He listens to what people have to say and takes input seriously. He understands the importance of regional teams to the sport. And he and the race go out of their way to accommodate them. Enough said.

I say, let’s have a maximum of 6 riders on a team at any NRC race. Or any race that isn’t on the PRO Tour calender. This isn’t the Tour de France or Giro. It is weekend stage racing. At Joe Martin the past 5 years, every race has been a field sprint. That is 2 hard road races and 1 hard criterium times 5 years. That is 15 field sprints. The winner of the race is the winner of a 2 mile uphill time trial. Is that what our sport has come down to? 6 riders would have a much harder time controlling a field than 8. And it would make bike racing more interesting, once again.

One of the last times I rode a TT bike was for the Levi's Team. I really look comfortable, huh? I can count on both hands how many times I've ridden them in my life.

Doping, Favorites, Forgiveness

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I never really liked Vino as a rider. I’m not sure why not. I think it was his riding style. It didn’t seem to fit his body type. Which convinced me he took drugs. Then, when he was declared positive at the Tour a few years back, I wrote him off completely.

I don’t have any sympathy or forgiveness for the guys that are caught positive. The drugs that are being used nowadays are “too good” and drastically change the results. My stance is a life time ban. This two year thing is just like a timeout for these guys. It is obviously still condoned or none of these guys would have jobs once their suspensions are over.

The podium on stage 2 of Giro del Trentino was nearly comical. It was Ricco winning, Vino 2nd and Basso 3rd. Using my criteria, none of these guys should of even been in the race.

So now, Alexandre Vinokourov feels like he wasn’t treated fairly after he won in Liege. So he decides to have someone write his views and publish them. Let me tell you, that isn’t a good way to get back into the good graces of cycling media and fans. You can’t talk someone into liking you. They either do or don’t. For a million reasons. But, his letter didn’t do much for me.

What I don’t get about the whole thing is that some riders are accepted back into the sport by the media and fans while others will never be. I think that is the case with Vino. When the Festina affair occurred, Laurent Dufaux and Alex Zülle went into the police station, said “yeh, we take EPO” and left a couple hours later. In the meantime, Richard Virenque swears that he didn’t for the next year. That is until they come up with recorded conversations implicating him. And then under oath he said something like he took 1000 injections that year.

Dufaux and Zülle both got contracts the next season after they sat out 6 months, or whatever the penalty was then. I don’t quite remember if Virenque ever had a timeout, but I suppose he did. But, for some reason Dufaux and Zülle’s admissions seemed to make them more likable.

David Millar. Everyone seems to like him now. He had so, so many excuses why he took EPO to win the World Championships in 2003. They had to keep in a police station for two days before he admitted that he took the drug. Then, he became remorseful. Where were those thoughts before he cheated the rest of the cycling community? Anyway, he became the spokesman for not using drugs and the fans applaud him.

Then you have Ivan Basso. He was implicated in Operation Puerto. He said that he didn’t dope, but had planned to. He spent his timeout. He’s quite now and just goes about his business of riding bikes. I guess the cycling public likes him alright. But, then Ivan’s sister, Elisa Basso, was charged in Italy last week with drug distribution along with a few other professional cyclists. Maybe she was only selling/distributing EPO for recreational use and not for sporting fraud, I don’t know. Do you think this will make the cycling public turn against Ivan?

Two riders this past week, one from BMC and the other from Lance’s Radio Shack Team were positive. Two US teams. Thomas Frei was positive for EPO. He confessed today. Li Fuyu was positive for Clenbuterol. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time that a current rider on a team with Lance has ever shown a positive drug test. And these guys weren’t smearing everyone. They were just getting by. It doesn’t seem to be getting better quick enough for me.

So my question is, all the guys listed above pretty much broke the same rule. Probably for mostly the same reasons. But the public and media condemns some and welcomes others return. Everyone says that they don’t like Vino because he didn’t admit his usage. But, Virenque denied his guilt thousands of times and the public seemed to accept it. I think there might be some prejudice involved with Vino. Because Alexandre Vinokourov is from Kazakhstan, I think some people might not give him the same break. Plus, he looks a lot like Ivan Drago, the evil Russian guy that Rocky had to fight in Rocky IV.

Whatever the reasons are, I think it is interesting. I guess the explanation is that each of us have our own criteria for who we like and who our favorites in the sport are. And those reasons differ a lot. Maybe Vino should just ride his bike and not talk so much. He probably would have more fans.

Here’s a good spin on it from BikeSnobNYC.

Same person? You decide.

The sprint that never should of happened. Ricco, Vino, & Basso.

Old Capitol Criterium – Iowa City, IA

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The race was hard. 40 laps of less than a mile with a pretty descent hill. It drizzled before the start and then dried up. I knew the field was going to shatter early. I didn’t know how early. Less than 3 laps in there were only 8 of us left. The problem was that there were four guys from the Texas Roadhouse Team there.

In retrospect, I probably should of just attacked the break right then. At least two of the Roadhouse guys were on the ropes then, but I must of not been feeling that well either or I would of done it. Nick was with me, but he wasn’t having his best day either.

Long story short, the Roadhouse guys keep doing soft attacks. Eventually Pat Lemieux was off by himself. 4 of us rotated while the other 3 Roadhouse guys sat. I knew I wasn’t good from that point on. We eventually caught Pat, but I knew it was all going to start all over. I got off the front once with Adam Bergman and another Roadhouse guy. I probably should of just pulled then too. But, I didn’t.

So, with 10 laps to go we were all together. Pat jumped again and I figure if somebody was going to win, it might as well be him. He stayed with me a few weeks ago while racing a collegiate race in Kansas. He has been getting better and better the last couple years and has been paying his dues. So, Pat was gone and we all just rode slow. Towards the end, two Mercy/Specialized guys came up.

I tried to lead Nick out, but he lost my wheel and so I ended up just pulling Bergman and Co. off the front. They ended up 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I was 4th and Nick 5th. It didn’t really matter to me after 1st, so it was fine. Pat was pretty glad to have won. He deserved the win. He was riding pretty well.

I wasn’t going that bad. It just felt bad. It was the first criterium I’ve done this season and that is always hard. Probably close to more jumps than I’ve done the whole season combined. It’s hard to get into that mindset so quickly.

So, finally back home. There nothing this weekend and then Joe Martin starts the end of the next week. That should be enlightening.

Trudi had a week between the end of the Giro del Trentino and the Giro d’Italia, so she bought a plane ticket on Sunday and is getting back this afternoon. I’m sure she is going to sleep most of the week. That job is hard.

Mobile bike repair in the middle of nowhere in Southern Wisconsin.

I'm sure they get a lot of business here. Location, location, location.

Post road race, pre-criterium, dinner courtesy of Jeff Bradley. He stood out in the pouring rain to grill this. The night before we had pasta with venison that Jeff personally attained hunting with a bow. He's a meat and potatoes type guy for sure.

L-B-L

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Anyone watch the end of Liege-Bastongne-Liege? That race was over verbally way before the finish line. It was obvious the way those guys were pulling at the end that Vinokourov was going to win. I’m not complaining. It all part of the sport. Maybe it is only obvious to other riders. I don’t know.