Monthly Archives: August 2011

Humans Aren’t So Special

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On the ride the other day Bill was telling me this story of a mountain lion that was seen in Connecticut. Bill has a degree in wildlife something and seems to be really interested in mountain lions for some reason. The story was a mountain lion that was hit by a car in Connecticut and had walked there from the Black Hills of South Dakota. This article confirms it really happened. Anyway, mountain lions don’t normally wander so far, but it is amazing that this guy made it half way across the US in today’s world. It is a true tragedy that he got hit by a car.

I was thinking about how special so many animals are and how humans lack most of the ordinary skills that lots of mammals possess. I think it is strange that we have to eat so much. I don’t know why it is that humans have to eat a few times each and every day. Not saying that we can’t get by for a day or two without food, but if we have our druthers, we eat daily, more than daily. It seems like we have to eat way too often. I don’t really know about the quantity of the food compared to other mammals, but I sometimes wish we could just stock up internally on food and then go for a few days without worrying about it.

And most all mammals can out perform humans athletically. I think it is amazing that an out of shape dog, about any dog, can out run an elite trained human. Deer, horses, camels, you name it, seem to be more fit that super fit humans. That isn’t even taking into consideration the average, out of shape, human. That isn’t a competition at all.

I’ve been watching this kitten mature in front of my very eyes this past week. It is getting so much more coordinated in such a short time. I know cats don’t live nearly as long as a human, but this guy is less than 5 weeks old and can pretty much take care of himself. More than take care of himself. At three weeks old, he sort of took care of himself, by subsisting on bugs and such when he got separated from his mother. There is not chance a human baby could do that, even if we gave it a couple years. It doesn’t seem right.

Anyway, the point of this whole thing is that we, as humans, shouldn’t go and think we’re all so special. And we, as athletes, should remember, no matter how trained we are and how refined we become, an old, sick horse can out run most of us all of the time. So, let’s just look at sport as what it is, just a way for us humans to compare ourselves to each other. Nothing more, nothing less.

This guy could kick most of our asses in about any race.

109 Degrees Yesterday

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Yesterday might of been the hottest day I’ve ridden in ever. I’m not sure, but it seemed pretty hot. Okay, really hot. The funny thing is that you’d think it would be cooler coasting downhill, but it actually was hotter. Opposite of wind chill I guess. I think that anytime you get over 98.6 degrees, body temperature, that will be the case. I know evaporation and humidity has a bunch to do with this, but it was definitely the case yesterday. (Feel free to correct me here if I’m wrong.) When I spent a winter in Grand Forks North Dakota, I rode my bike at -25 below, so yesterday riding at 109 makes it a 134 degree temperature span. That is enough for me, I don’t need to try to break that anytime soon.

Anyway, we had a 21.1 mph average for a little over a hour and a half. That was pretty quick. I didn’t feel too bad. I actually never felt hot, but like I’ve stated here before, I don’t seem to have an ability to judge how hot it is when it get extremely hot. I just feel the effects of it when it’s too late to correct the downward spiral.

Today is forecast to be just 107. But, yesterday was forecast to be 103 and it was 109, so it could be pretty ugly again. I was replacing a brake caliper on my car, late morning, and had to stop when I couldn’t pick up the tools anymore because they were too hot and my hands were so slick, from sweat, that I was having a hard time keeping hold of them.

I always race in long finger gloves. I haven’t been wearing gloves at all training recently. That has changed. I hurt my right wrist/hand crashing at the Jingle Cross last November, and ever since then, my right hand goes numb. Actually, it is only my thumb, index finger and middle finger that go numb. If I shake my hand, the feeling comes back pretty quickly. Anyway, not wearing gloves when my hands are so sweaty, makes me grip the bars much tighter, making my hands go numb much more consistently. So, I’m back to gloves in training again.

Back to yesterday, it amazed me that I heard the never ending noise of roofing nailers firing all afternoon. I don’t understand how these transient roofers can work throughout the day in these temperatures. They must be hating life. An unlimited amount of work and it has been record temperatures for the past three weeks. It has to really slow down their productivity. But, that being said, those guys are much harder than I could ever hope to be.

I got a Nike Ice Vest in the mail a couple days ago. Thanks Ben. I tried it for a little bit today, but don’t think I have it down. It is a small/medium, so it is pretty tight on me. I froze it overnight, but the stomach area had been cut out and the baffles leak, so it might take some jerry-rigging to make it work efficiently.

Okay, deciding about racing this weekend. I need to race for sure. I’m probably not going up to Elk Grove. There is another race near St. Louis with good prize $$$. There is also a couple races in Denver that Brian wants to go do. The first, a hill climb up Lookout Mountain and the 2nd, a Criterium somehow affiliated with the PRO Challenge. I’m planning on eventually going West, so maybe it’s not such a bad time to head that way.

Update – the high is now forecast to be 110 degrees. That is way into triple digits.

The Nike Ice Vest from the back. It is just baffles that you fill with water and freeze.

Trudi sent this from downtown Lawrence at 3 pm this afternoon. It's now 111 here.

At 5:05 pm.

This only makes me feel like I’m being a pussy here. I especially like the high on Thursday. I don’t know how you do it Matt Ankeny.

Sweet Spot/Intimidation/Hierarchy

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The sport has changed a lot in the last 10 years. In lots of ways. One way it has changed, that I find not so appealing from a riders standpoint, is the intimidation aspect.

I thought of this because of a story Trudi told me that Michael Schär expressed. He was saying that it was so weird that during the Tour de France, that guys that were “his friends” would scream and intimidate him when he was trying to get to the front to keep Cadel out of the wind. He thought it was so strange that these same guys would be doing nothing the rest of the season and were so amped during the Tour.

But, that is the way the sport has “evolved”. I think it started here in the US when all the track riders from Australia and New Zealand started coming here. That is their way racing down there. And they brought it our way. At least that is when I first started noticing the problem.

There is a certain hierarchy in the peleton. But that hierarchy needs to be earned. Just because someone is wearing a certain jersey doesn’t give them the right to try to establish their will upon others.

I used to get a ton of shit from Gordon McCauley. Mainly when riding criteriums. It seemed that we were always fighting for the same sweet spot behind the leadout train at the end of the race. He’d yell abunch, but I wouldn’t back down. I could tell he was having a hard time keeping his position, mainly because he was scared.

Then one year, in Anniston, Alabama, it all changed. We were racing the criterium there and it was obvious that it was going to rain. It was at night and I’d let a ton of air out of my tires. The officials said that if it got bad, they were going to instantly go to 5 to go. So, when it started raining hard and everyone started falling down, I took off. And I rode alone. Forever. After about 5 laps, they switched the laps counter to 10 to go. I ended up getting caught with about 200 meters to go by a small group and ended up 4th I think. Gordon had quit the race and was watching. Afterward he came up and said something like, “I’ve never seen someone go so fast through corners in the rain, at night. I guess I don’t have anything to worry about for now on.” It was a pretty nice thing to say. I never heard a peep from him since.

Anyway, the yelling thing seems to be a way that a rider tries to establish his dominance of others without having to put out any physical effort. I can’t believe how many time I hear pro guys yelling. It is never the other way around. I happened to do a bunch of criterium in the rain this spring and it was crazy. The same guys that would be screaming about the moves others were making were making the very same moves, much worse, sometimes falling. And it is virtually aways a “professional” rider doing this. But, as we all no, the jersey doesn’t make the rider.

So, when the stakes are high, such as during the Tour, the intimidation becomes extreme. Obviously it came to a head this year with so many crashes on the flat stages when no one seemed to be backing down. Trying to ride in “team formation” in the middle of the peleton is a recipe for disaster, as we all saw. And trying to physically intimidate other riders from “stealing your wheel” doesn’t usually work out that great either.

There are times to use intimidation to try to gain an advantage. But with 30 miles to go in a 120 mile stage of a 22 day stage race, isn’t one of them. I wish the team directors would realize this and quit putting so much pressure on their riders to try to race the middle of the race like it was the end of the race. It is just stupid. Let’s try to use the tactic more sparingly.

Jocelyn Lovell

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Yesterday someone posted a photo of Jocelyn Lovell under comments. It was a weird coincidence, but I’d just been talking to Bill about him on the ride before. I am embarrassed to say, but I hadn’t thought of him for quite awhile before this.

If you don’t know who Jocelyn Lovell is, you should. He has 40 +/- Canadian National Champion titles in lots of different aspects of cycling. Plus, he’s a multiple Commonwealth Games Champion and an Olympic Silver Medalist. His huge results were on the track, but he could also kick ass in long, hard road races. Here’s a link to a article on him.

I didn’t know Jocelyn too well. I doubt he would remember me. But he did have an impact on my life.

I can remember distinctly the first time I saw Jocelyn Lovell. It was at Superweek when I was 14. My first big race out of the state of Kansas. We were staying in the dorms at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. I remember walking into the shower and there he was. I was so scrawny, less than 100 pounds and he was a beast. He had a pierced ear, a gold necklace and huge legs, that were really tan. I was so intimidated. I did an about face and high tailed it back to my dorm room.

I ran into Jocelyn on and off some as I traveled the racing circuit, but wouldn’t have raced with him much, if at all, because I was a junior and he was winning real races. When I turned Senior, I suppose I raced with him some. I think he was kind of free lancing the criteriums, plus the track stuff, and I was mostly racing stage races out of the country.

My one real memory of racing with Jocelyn was in 1983 at the Biltmore Estates Stage Race in Asheville, North Carolina. It was an important race and the last race I was going to do before I went over and raced the British Milk Race on the National Team. I think it was 5 or 6 days long. Anyway, I got sick right before the race started, but decided to go ahead and ride. I was worried if I didn’t race, I was going to get super sick and not be able to go to England. Anyway, I was just sitting in the fields not racing, but just riding.

The fourth stage was a circuit around the Biltmore Estates. I think it was around a 5-6 mile loop and we did it a ton of times. The race must of been close to 90 miles long. Anyway, it was wet and the course had a mile climb up to the finish, but right after had a good descent down. Somehow, and I don’t remember why, Jocelyn and I got into this contest, during the race, of who could coast down the hill from the back of the field and be first to the front of the field. Remember, it was raining, so it was pretty tricky.

So, lap after lap we’d go over the finish line at the very back of the field and then tuck and blast by everyone on the descent. Time and time again. We were pretty evenly matched I think. Anyway, I had no intention of going for a place in the race. I was sick and not riding well. But, the last lap I started the descent towards the front of the field. I did my normal tucking and when I got to the bottom corner, I didn’t slow down much and when I looked back after the corner, I had a pretty good gap, maybe a 100 meters or so. It was still 4 or 5 miles to the finish, so I didn’t put out too much effort. But, I was feeling pretty good right then and thought I’d give it a go. So, I reached down to shift and to my amazement I was already in my 12. That changed my mindset immensely. I couldn’t believe I had been riding in my biggest gear, feeling that good, going up a false flat.

There was one small hill in the middle of the loop, the feed hill and I decided I was going to leave it in my 12 and ride it off my seat and not look back. I decided that it would be best to look back if I got to the last climb up to the finish. I rode up the feed hill feeling pretty great and got on top of the gear before the last 1 mile climb to the finish.

I decided not to look back until I was 1/2 way up the last climb, and again, to my amazement, there was no one in sight. I was going pretty good and knew I’d won the stage. It blew me away. Being able to win solo, when I thought I was riding so poorly. This was a big race, with Steve Bauer, Ron Hayman and nearly every other good rider in North American racing. Bauer was super nice after the race saying something like he was surprised that I stayed away because they were going really hard behind and he couldn’t believe I was pulling away from them.

Anyway, I went up to Jocelyn after the awards ceremony and thanked him for keeping me entertained during the race. I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have won the race if I wouldn’t have been racing Jocelyn down the descent lap after lap. That is where I got my distance and it was the main reason I would the race.

I remember reading about Jocelyn getting hit by the cement truck and being paralyzed. I always thought that when I went up to Canada, I should go by and see him, but just never did. Anyway, it’s good to know that he’s still getting along pretty good and keeping the hope alive that he’s going to eventually be able to ride again. He had that kind of mindset racing, I don’t know why I would have thought that it wouldn’t still be there now. I’m going to make it a point to stop by and say hi next time I’m in Canada.

You can see why a 14 year old would be intimidated by this beast.

Dogs and all, my kind of guy.

The photo from Velonews. Bauer, Steida and Hayman are sprinting behind.

Slept ’til Noon

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It is funny, but I hardly ever sleep in any more. That is something I’ve been trying to work at, getting more sleep. It bothers me some, that I can get by with way less sleep than I used to need. I think, as an athlete, it is super beneficial to sleep as much as you can. I don’t usually. There just seems to be too much stuff hidden in the back of my brain that doesn’t allow me to sleep too long. It’s probably just a part of aging.

It rained most of the morning. That is probably the reason I missed it in bed. Most the stuff I had planned was dependent on being outside, sans rain, so my mind must of registered that and directed me back into the dream state. Nice of it.

Not sure what the plans are yet for the weekend. I’m racing for sure, just not sure where. Only criteriums though. Okay, when I wake up more, I’ll post something more relevant/fun/interesting hopefully. Shit, half the day is gone.

If it wasn't for this guy jumping up on me, I'd probably still be asleep.

Nice and Mean

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I get a ton of feedback through this website on all sorts of interesting things. I dig getting other people’s views on subjects I’m interested in. No matter if the views are exactly opposite of mine, I like to hear them at least. And I get tons of compliments, which does embarrass me some, but are very nice none the less. Sometimes I get strange requests and weird emails, which interest me, but kind of creep me out some. Here is an comment I got a couple days ago under the Sweet Spot/Intimidation/Hierarchy post-

Another deadshit from blog from a fuckwitt who has ridden bikes all his life but has no idea about racing. How about a blog about how you got all your buddies to vote you in as sportsman of the century of some bumfuck town in KS! And I particularly liked your insights on the tdf about guys not knowing how to ride in a paceline, and why guys are not racing for 67th place in the bunch sprints. As if you would fucking know!!!! I have seen you race and you are an absolute menace, and a non factor in any race I’ve seen you in. If you really cared about the sport perhaps you would try to help out some kids getting into the sport, rather than thinking you are still competitive enough to be a factor, and then writing these shitty negative blogs about every one and every thing. A case in point is Joe Schmalz, who has blossomed since he got away from you and your moron buddies, one of which is most famous for spitting in the face of his team manager thus ending his pro career. You are a bigger virus in this sport than anyone you slag off here on your blog and you need to go away.

Anyway, I guess he doesn’t like me much and doesn’t think much of my views or riding. I don’t really mind too much. Seems like I must have hit a nerve. He doesn’t sound like he’s from the US. I have written some negative things about the racing styles of the guys from New Zealand and Australia. But, I have a ton of friends from there too and love their countries. Whatever. I don’t want this guy to think I don’t want to hear his views and/or comments, so I thought it would be best to give it a post of its own. It is Friday night, so I hope the language isn’t too strong.

For those of you that illiterate , Jim produced this audio version for our enjoyment.