Monthly Archives: August 2010

Laurent Fignon R.I.P.

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I was sad to wake up this morning and see the headline in Velonews that Laurent Fignon had died. I raced with Laurent Fignon many times. Actually, the first trip I made to Europe with the US National Team, Fignon was at nearly all the races we did that month. He was riding for the France National Team at the time.

The first race I did in Europe was a PRO/AM race, the Tour of Vaucluse. I just dug the results out and saw that he finished 12th overall. I was 31st. I remember being totally surprised that he signed a Professional contract that year. I was even more surprised when he won the Tour de France just 2 years later. I had raced with him nearly a month throughout France and Italy and he did nothing to reflect that he had that in his ability. But, those were the days when being a great athlete allowed good results.

Anyway, after Fignon retired, he did a lot of things that benefited cycling. It is kind of unsettling when your peers start dying. Kind of makes you think.

Here’s a nice tribute to Laurent Fignon’s life written by John Wilcockson.

That is Bernard Thevenet that finished 2nd. Man, that was so long ago.

It's only appropriate that the photo is of Fignon and Lemond. It was like Lance and Ullrich.

Excellent photo of The Badger and The Professor.

On the podium, at this year's Tour de France, receiving a special award from Bernard Hinault.

Hotter’n Hell Wrap-up

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First of all, I need to say that Julie Carter did an amazing job with the Hotter’n Hell long weekend. This race was promoted like all races should be. It is rare that I leave a race without observing any major promotional snafus, but I can honestly say I did not witness one mistake. It was a huge task. Thanks Julie.

The last criterium was hot, finally. The PRO 1/2 race didn’t start until 12:15. It was kind of a figure 8 course by the expo area again and it was pretty breezy.

It would have been a fun criterium to watch. Really animated. Finally, a break of the strong guys got away – 1st and 2nd from the day before, Russ Walker and Logan Hutchings, plus Patrick McCarty, Stefan Rothe and one Squadra rider.

Those 5 were going pretty good. The field did slow down for a few minutes after about 1/2 the 75 minute race, but it wasn’t really ever easy. There was a ton of attrition. Lots of guys getting dropped. Raul Acala’s Mexican team did make it to the race today. On Saturday’s early morning start for the road race, they got mixed up with the other 15000 bike riders and missed the start by 5 minutes. They did a TTT for 20km, but eventually bagged it. There was no way that they could have caught the field that morning. We were rolling 52 kph for the first 45 minutes at least.

Anyway, the break looked like it was good until the last 5 laps. That is when the field started going much faster. With 4 laps to go there was a crash going into the last corner. Only a couple guys fell, but it split the field and a lot of guys never got back on. I was behind that crash, but caught on pretty quickly.

I had okay position on the final lap. Hotel San Jose was lined up for Josh Carter. I was about 10 riders back, but had one of Raul’s team mates in front of me. That isn’t a good thing. Cornering isn’t one of their fortes. I kept thinking he was coming off, but he was just opening a gap coming out of the corner and then sprinted back up. I wasted a ton of energy trying to get by him. Anyway, by the time I needed to really move up to sprint, the field was sprinting into the break. I only passed a couple guys and ended up 11th. Logan Hutchings snagged the win from Russ Walker with the results from the day before being reversed. They were the only two that were left from the break.

Overall, Logan Hutchings ended up winning the omnium. He tied local favorite and his team mate Josh Carter. I was 9th overall. All I can figure is not many guys finished in the points all three races.

It’s another short week. The Labor Day races in St. Louis start Friday night. It’s 4 criteriums. Pretty good for training, but not my favorite venues. The races have gotten flatter and easier through the years. The last race on Monday has a new site. Hopefully this course will be more challenging.

On a side note, I got pulled over coming back before Oklahoma City doing 68 in a 55mph work zone. I thought I was jacked. I went back into the Highway Patrol car and just talked to the guy for a bit. He took my driver’s license info, insurance and punched it all into his mobile laptop. Then a portable printer spit out the ticket. But, in my case it just spat out a warning. Again, I’m not sure why that occurred, but it probably saved me $500, at least.

Kind of an interesting race start photo.

Hanging in the shade at the SRAM tent before the mid day start.

Following Josh Carter.

Jose's, SRAM, organized toolbox.

HHH Road Race

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Sleep deprivation. 4 hours sleep. Going down to the hotel lobby to find the breakfast completely jammed with people in cycling clothes with numbers pinned. Boy, glamorous sport this bike racing is. These tourists take their tours seriously down here. It was strange riding the 6 miles over to the start in pitch black. It was even stranger arriving there, or at least getting close, 1 mile, to there and the streets were completely clogged with cyclist. 6am. 15 thousand riders. It is nuts.

Not much to say about the race. 100 mile loop. Virtually flat. Hardly any wind until towards the end, but that wasn’t a issue. There were a couple big pile ups. I think everyone has been watching too much Tour de France TV and wants to emulate the Pros in all respects. I can’t explain it otherwise. Wide open roads with nothing going on and then there 20 guys laying on the ground.

5 guys got away with 25 miles to go and the field pretty much stopped. We’d been rolling along in the upper 20’s to 30 most of the day and then it was 22mph. They disappeared pretty quickly. There were two Hotel San Jose riders, a Metro/Texas Tough guy and a couple others.

The field did nothing but started ramping it up a few miles out for the field sprint. The finish is kind of unique. You are on a big divided highway and there is a 200 meter “climb”. At the top you peel off on a exit ramp and go down into downtown Wichita Falls. There is a sharp left, the two blocks to a 90 degree right, and then 700 meters to the finish. Tailwind. Going up the climb, right before the exit ramp, there was a police car park. The field split around the car and the left side crashed. Nick fell here. I was on the right and moved up to the top ten heading down with 1 km to go. I go up to Josh Carter’s wheel right after the left corner, the for some reason the field wanted to turn on the first street and not the 2nd. A couple guys turned right in front of me as I watched the lead motorcycle go around the next corner. I sprinted back up to the front as we turned the final corner. Benn Stover, our new team member, took off before this corner and had a good gap on us. I was about 8 guys back in my 11 already, when from the first side street on the right, Brian Fawley (I think it was Brian, but if it wasn’t it was one of his Park Place team mates) comes flying through the barriers at me at a 90 degree angle. It was bullshit. He had turned off the course a blocked early and then sprinted back into the race the next block down. Anyway, I swerved to the left to avoid a collision, but by then the guys in front of me had jumped and I was in the wind the whole way to the finish. I didn’t pass anyone, but no one came by me either. Josh Carter and maybe a couple other caught Benn right at the line. He finished around 8th. I was 13th on the day. Russ Walker from Metro/Texas Tough won solo. Pretty great effort. Nice race to win.

It is pretty nice having 115 miles, with a 100 race miles on your legs and it’s only 10:30 am. The race was pretty good for fitness. Nothing too strenuous. Pretty crazy hard off the front, but that is just normal bike racing. I felt a ton better at the end of the race than at the start. The after race “climbing stairs” test is good. Not too bad. Hopefully I’ll feel just that much better tomorrow. It is amazing how much form you can gain from just a few races.

Trudi couldn't get to the start, so I had my iPhone in my pocket and took some photos while racing. Here's a shot of Jason Waddell sporting his HHH Leader's Jersey.

At 6:45am, most of the riders probably felt as blurry as this photo.

Photo over my shoulder during the race. Evidently it was mildly amusing. Nick in the foreground.

Josh Carter after the line in the field sprint. Ben and I are in the background.

Hotter’n Hell Friday Criterum

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Short update on today’s criterium results. In the woman’s race, Jennifer Purcell (Hotel San Jose) won the race handily.

There were 106 starters in the Pro 1/2 race. Figure 8 course. Mid 90’s, but super dry so it didn’t seem that hot. It was a pretty animated race. At one point, there was a group of 18 up the road, but that is too large of a group to stay working smoothly usually. Anyway, it was coming down to a field sprint. Hotel San Jose put their zillion riders at the front with 7 to go. Texas Metro lined it up and took over for a couple laps, but San Jose was back the last two laps. I was way, way too far back at that point. And it was going pretty good at the front. I made a couple huge moves on the last lap, but was still not in the right position with three corners to go. I was pretty gassed, but put it in my 11 and sprinted the last long straight. I passed a ton of guys and was diving through the inside of the 2nd to last corner when the leadout swung way too wide and there was carnage on the outside. I was on a super tight inside line, but had to scrub a ton of speed and ended up slogging to the line to finish 6th. Jason Wadell won. I think most of the San Jose guys fell, but I’m not sure who all was laying there.

We’re just heading to eat dinner. Tomorrow is a 6:45am start for the 100 mile road race. Maybe a nap will be on order tomorrow afternoon.

There are somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 bike riders here for the tour tomorrow. There isn’t a hotel room within a 100 mile radius of Wichita Falls. It was fun racing in front of such a knowledgable crowd.

Sent by iPhone.

I’m not sure what is going on with the leg extension here.

This is the sleeping situation at midnight when no one answers the door at the MSU sleeping jail.

Man, does time fly.

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I thought that the three days that I had this week before Hotter’n Hell would be plenty to catch up with stuff. Boy, was I wrong. Not even close. It seems like I was on my feet 14 hours a day and still didn’t make a dent. The last two days I was replacing the AC in the van. I know why they charge so much now. That isn’t an easy job. It takes a ton of specialized tools and lots of contorting. The contorting wasn’t the bad part for my ribs. It is anytime I lay on something hard and flat. Seems like it is back to square one at that point. A doctor’s visit is at the top of my next week’s list.

It is only 425 miles to Wichita Falls, TX. It seems weird that 425 miles seems short, but it isn’t 6 hours. We’re not racing until 6:30 pm tonight. A criterium. Then a 100 mile road race at 7 am on Saturday and then another criterium on Sunday at noon. If I didn’t need to try to get some race fitness, I would be staying home and just riding. But, that isn’t an option at this point. There are over a 100 guys in the Pro 1/2 race, so there were be a lot of places to hide hopefully. Bill hasn’t raced since he crashed in Elk Grove nearly a month ago, so, I won’t be the most whinny guy on the trip.

#1 Reason “we’re all FAT!”

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I’ve been thinking about this a while. I’ve heard a million reasons why Americans are fat. Why our children are fat. Why the parents are fat. I usually hear two reasons – it is because of the shitty food we all eat. And it is because we all sit in front of the computer and TV, especially our kids, and aren’t outside and exercising nearly enough. I’m not going with it.

This weight gain scenario has happened mainly in my lifetime. I went to elementary school with 60 other kids my age. There was only one child out of 60 that I considered chubby. He wasn’t even close to fat by today’s standards. Every other kid was skinny as a rail. And a lot of these kids didn’t have much interest in sports and most all of us ate the worst for you, best tasting, food we could get in our mouths. This was the era when McDonalds really kicked into gear. Hostess were coming out with new products all the time. Canned potato chips. We ate candy and drank pop whenever we could. And no one was even close to fat.

So I think that the reason that most Americans are fat is solely because of climate control. Heating and A/C. And I do mean the word solely. I think that we have limited our exposure to variants of temperature so greatly, that we don’t use nearly as many calories controlling our body temperature, thus we’re all getting fat.

I know that might sound kind of screwy, but here is the math. It takes 3500 calories to gain a pound of fat. So to gain 20 pounds a year that is 70000 calories extra. If you take that 70000 calories and divide it by 365 days of the year, you get 191 calories a day. Divide that 191 calories by 24 hours in a day and you get 7.99 calories an hour. So to gain (or lose) 20 pounds of fat a year, you have to consume (or burn) around 8 calories extra an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

That isn’t much. I’ve read we burn around 700 calories an hour when we’re training on our bikes. That is close to 12 calories a minute. So, in theory, if you really wanted to lose 20 pounds in a year, all you’d have to do is ride you bike, at our training speed, around 16 minutes a day and you’d lose that 20 pounds. That’s just a little over a quarter of an hour. But, it seems that people get on these exercise routines and don’t lose close to that much weight.

It takes a ton of energy to heat and cool our bodies. Regulating the temperatures of our bodies takes the majority of calories we consume. As humans. Especially as athletics. If you want to read a long paper on this, click here. Being a little out of your comfort range in temperature takes much more than 8 calories an hour. A lot more.

I experienced this extremely driving back from Delavan on Monday. The A/C on my van quite working. I had the parts to fix it, but in the State of Wisconsin, they don’t sell 134a unless you’re a certified repair person. Anyway, we drove back the whole 9 hours with no A/C. It wasn’t even that hot until we were getting closer to Kansas. Most the trip was in the mid 80’s. And I was toasted when I got home. It was a combination of the heat and the air movement/noise. I finally put a piece of tissue in my left ear because of the wind noise. I burned a ton of calories. Bromont was exhausted in the back seat. He burned more calories than I did for sure. Probably something to do with being covered with hair.

This was pretty normal when I was a kid. We used to go on vacation to Colorado in a convertible. My brother and I would be in the backseat, in the sun all day. We were so sunburnt by the time we got to Denver. That doesn’t even take into consideration the wind and noise. We didn’t have any air conditioning in our house until I was 13. Then it was just a window air conditioner downstairs. When I moved in with my grandmother after than, we didn’t have any air conditioning at all. Nearly all summer, I’d sleep outside on a deck on a cot. Or if I was sleeping inside, I’d have a fan blowing on me all night. And in the winter when I was a kid, I remember coming downstairs and sitting next to the heater register with a blanket over me eating cold cereal before going to school. It was cold in our house in the early mornings in the winter.

But this is not the case anymore for most Americans. Everything is so climate controlled that college students wear shorts in the dead of winter at KU. It amazes me riding through campus in January how many students are wearing shorts. That wouldn’t have worked when I went to school. I would have froze.

I don’t have a solution how to “fix” this problem. I don’t want to be driving around all summer with the windows open at 80mph. And I don’t want to be waking up in the morning shivering in winter. But, we are burning way less calories than our parents did because of climate control. So since we don’t want to be either hot or cold all the time, we as a country need to address this weight problem by – eating less junky food, not sitting on our butts so much and exercising more.

This was my normal driving position most of the way back. It was okay for the first few hours, but got kind of old after 700 miles.

Spin Ride

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Yesterday I drove 600 miles back from Delavan, Wisconsin to Kansas City to do a local ride at the Spin Pizza in Overland Park. It was pretty much on way back to Topeka though. It was a very good time. It was refreshing hanging out with a bunch of people that like to ride bicycles, but don’t have any intention to ride competitively.

There were around a 100 people there I’m guessing. They do this ride every Monday and split into a three or four groups so they don’t clog up the roads. I rode along with the long ride, which was about 20 miles. I’d say that nearly 10% or the people rode in tennis shoes. There were bikes that cost $8000 and bikes that cost $100. It was kind of weird, but it seemed like the worse of a bike the person rode, they seemed to have more enthusiasm for cycling . Maybe it was just the newness or infatuation with the sport that fueled their excitement.

I must of told at least 10 people that they needed to raise their seats. Most of them needed to raise their seats a lot. One lady said back to me that she couldn’t reach the ground with her foot when she stopped at a light unless her seat was in that position. You can imagine how low this seat was if she could do that, right? I told her she needed to step forward and and that the top tube height was the limiting factor there. And her seat position needed to be dictated by her leg length and that it was supposed to be the distance between the seat and the pedal and not the distance from the seat to the pavement. Funny.

Anyway, there were 5 of us there from the Tradewind Energy/Trek Store Team. I think everyone had a good time. It is very refreshing talking to people with such enthusiasm. You don’t get that much at a normal PRO 1/2 race.

Afterward we stayed at Spin Pizza and had super good stone fired pizza, salad and beer. It was great. I didn’t get back to Topeka until after 10pm. It took a while to unload. I haven’t been home for a month and Trudi for 2. It might take some readjustment time. You kind of get use to living out of a bag. Seems like maybe most of the other stuff is just other stuff, wasn’t missed much and is not needed.

Impromptu TradeWind Team shot at Spin Pizza.

Lots of people waiting for the ride.

I introduced the Tradewind Team and said a few words. (Bill in the foreground.)

Kind of liked this guy's T-shirt.