Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Jersey Project

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Yesterday in the mail I got a package from my friend Bill Humphreys. I’ve know Bill since I was a junior. He was a honch riding for the Raleigh Team with John Howard when I first bought a racing bike. We both never left the sport.

Anyway, in the package was a copy of a book that he did, The Jersey Project. Bill told me about the book a couple years ago and we sent him some photos of jerseys that I had tucked away over the years. There are 3 or 4 of my jerseys in the book. Anyway, I haven’t had a bunch of time to go through the book like I want to, but it is definitely worth owning if you’re into cycling. It really is an especially interesting way to use the beauty of the jerseys to help describe and define the history of the sport. You can go here, The Jersey Project, to get a book of your own.

I’m just about ready to brew up a cup of his coffee too. I’ll let you know how it is.

It is always nice getting unexpected gifts in the mail.

One of my jerseys in the book.

There are pages and pages of super cool jerseys from all over the world.

And here's a photo I got from Bill's website. Back when Greg and Lance could stand that close together I guess.

Riding in the Heat

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I feel pretty shitty in general. Add to that riding at 90 degress + at the same humidity and it makes it that much worse. I was definitely out of sorts the last couple days.

It definitely seems to be the case that I don’t ride as well in the heat as I used to. I don’t know why that is. I always read that age has something to do with it, but I don’t know about that. I’m not really sure what your body does to compensate for hot and cold weather. I know it does something because we all get more used to it eventually, but I don’t know the exact mechanism that is uses to do this.

I do know that Bromont mirrors my feelings in heat. But, he is covered with fur, so he gets a get-out-of-jail-free card. We took him out to the country to run and he barely did that. When it was all said and done, he had gone less than 3 miles on the Garmin GPS and spent the majority of time in the pond with the cows.

Last night we went out for Cinco de Mayo. It was fun. There were ping pong tables at the The Burger Stand. I hadn’t played ping pong in a long time. It wasn’t so good for my bad shoulder. Mainly because of the sudden quick movements necessary for the game. I’d already pretty much destroyed it earlier in the day helping Bill get rid of a tree that was blown over in a storm last week. I’m sticking with the do anything I want advise from Dr. Synder last week. I’m not sure he took into consideration using a chainsaw for a few hours, but it wasn’t that bad most of the time. Anyway, ping pong was fun. I used to play a bunch back in high school, but not much since. I was pretty rusty, okay, really rusty, but it was fun none the less. I should make it a point to play more often.

It is supposed to rain all afternoon here. We’re scheduled to ride at noon. It is going to be super muggy. Hopefully it will hold off for a couple hours, but just a couple hours. Right now, I have a small hang over and feel pretty wasted in general from yesterday.

The cattle pond, until.....

Bromont decided to take it over.

Trudi and Bromont.

Bill's yard mid project.

Mulching the branches so it's only one trip to the vegetation recyling center.

Patron margaritas and $1 Tecate beer were the specials yesterday. I know these don’t help in the heat the least bit.

Catherine showing off her ping pong form.

Bill and Catherine after their game.

Bad Few Days for Crashing

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Just finished watching the finish of the 2nd stage of the Giro. Man, that wasn’t good. Taylor Phinney fell when Roberto Ferrari made a right hand turn 200 meters from the line and clipped Mark Cavendish’s wheel. I think that Taylor’s Giro is done, but hopefully not. It looked like his ankle was twisted pretty good from the video. Ferrari is going to be removed from the race I’d think. Maybe not. I’ll try to post a link to the video, but there is a Farnese Vini – Selle Italia rider that bunny hops Cavendish when he is on the ground. It is pretty unreal.

Talking about crashing, Speedweek on the East coast is officially over. I vowed never to go there again a few years ago when I crashed 4 times in the first two races. When you run out of cycling gloves because they are all destroyed from falling, I decided to call it a week and just train. Those races are so, so stupid that you’d be an idiot to attend unless someone was forcing you to. They had to stop the race there on Friday night twice because nearly the whole field fell. That isn’t unusual there. Every year it happens. Never again.

But, Saturday, something different occurred. According to this article at Velonews, there was a “road rage” instance on Saturday night that left Isaac Howe laying on the ground with a broken collarbone. It is a little sketchy, but it seems this guy, Jonathan Atkins, of Newnan, Georgia, got pissed at Howe for some reason and intentionally knocked him down. Supposedly Atkins was handcuffed by the police sometime during the evening too. Wow.

I’m not sure what to think about that. Of course it is all bad. There is no place in the sport for anything of the sort. It seems to be getting to become more of a contact sport every year. That is what pisses me off about touching people. There should be no, absolutely no leeway enforcing that rule. You touch someone on purpose, you’re out of the race. The problem is we see it everyday at the finishes of the big European races, so everyone tries to emulate it.

But crashing someone on purpose is a completely different animal. I couldn’t tell you what the suspension should be, but getting the police involved doesn’t seem out of line. A broken collarbone is minor compared to what could have happened to many people here. I still don’t understand USAC ruling when Keough and Bahati get into it at Dana Point a couple years ago and half the field fell. They acted like it was all part of bike racing and since no one protested, they decided to drop it. It was bullshit. The amount of equipment destroyed was outrageous, not even mentioning the riders hurt. I would have made both of them sit out a few months.

This guy in Speedweek, Atkins, is going to have an issue, I assume. Sounds like there might be charges pressed legally. Seems alright to me. The sport is dangerous enough not to allow intention violence to occur at any level.

Dana Point Criterium was last night. It was the 2 year anniversary of this stupidness.

Here’s the video of the Giro crash. Go in about 3:45 to see the overhead shot. Thanks Ken.

The Tortoise and the Hare

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I heard this on This American Life last week. It is kind of a fun story. I hope everyone else finds it so. I found the transcript and then just pasted it here. It is by Jonathan Goldstein. His story about the tortoise and the hare is itself based on a retelling of the Aesop’s fable by the 18th Baron of Dunsany, Edward Punkett. Jonathan’s the host of the CBC radio show and podcast, WireTap, which you can hear on many public radio stations and you can get from the iTunes Store, where a version of this story first ran.

Honorable animals of the forest council, Secretary Otter and Chairman Skunk, I’m sorry, but I must interrupt. I know that time is of the essence. So I will keep my remarks brief. I stand before you not an arrogant hare, nor a flashy hare as some of you would have it, but merely a hare who cares about this forest and all of its creatures.

I’ve not come here to cast dispersions on the tortoise. This is not a time for partisanship. Whether you be a hare man or a tortoise man, we must all work together. But to save the forest from its impending doom, it’s important you know the truth about the race known as Tortoise versus Hare.

Look, I know how this makes me look. The hare is a poor loser, you say. The hare has a problem with tortoises. Well, I’m going to stop you right there. Let the record show that I have nothing against turtles of any kind. The snapping turtle is godfather to 27 of my kids, for crying out loud.

But if you think there is any chance that tortoise beat me fair and square, you are deluding yourselves. Tortoises don’t have a reputation for being slow. They are slow. Everyone knows this. It’s not a question. It’s not debatable. It just is.

So imagine my surprise when, one morning, I wake up to discover the entire forest is talking about how I challenged the tortoise to a race. Think about it. Why would a hare challenge a tortoise to a race? It doesn’t make any sense. What would it prove? If I win, I’m an [BLEEP]. If I lose, I’m an embarrassment to my species.

Oh, how I was vilified after that race. In the picture they ran on the cover of The Forest Post, I’m pulling my whiskers out, stomping on my top hat and yelling at a judging official. There I was, the arrogant buck-toothed hare with the fabulous libido that everyone loves to hate finally receiving his comeuppance. And the lies that were told about the race itself– why would I stop just shy of the finish line and eat a large turkey dinner with all of the trimmings? Or why would I pull out a beach chair and take a sun tanning break? First of all, I burn easily. And second, what am I, an idiot?

In the days after the race when I put forth my multiple tortoises in multiple forest nooks theory, I was labeled a paranoid, a conspiracy nut, not to mention a specie-ist for suggesting that tortoises all look the same. But I knew then as I know now that there was a network of them, tortoises, all working in cahoots, stationed behind trees, hiding in briar patches all along the racing route. Nonetheless, the tortoise was awarded the title of fastest in the forest. And I’d no choice but to shake his wrinkled, little, green hand and congratulate him.

But dear fellow forest dwellers, back to the business at hand of this emergency meeting. As Smokey Bear alerted us this morning, the forest is burning. Time is of the essence.

With all due respect to the authority of this council, sending the tortoise as messenger to alert the creatures of these woods that there’s a fire raging and they must run for their lives? Not the best choice in the world. The tortoise left three hours ago. But if you rise up onto your toes, you can still see him creeping along down there at the bottom of the hill.

So he cheated. And normally, I would let this go. Who among us has not cheated at one time or another? Opossum has cheated at checkers. Fox has cheated on his taxes. And I’m the first to admit that because of my own arrogance I’ve cheated myself out of your friendship. And I’ve also cheated with some of your wives.

But the point is we can no longer let this tortoise charade go on. If we don’t do something now, lives will be lost. So just give me the OK to get running and as soon as I pick up my top hat at the blockers, fill my jogging pipe with tobacco, eat a light dinner of sprouts and Tam Tam crackers and get my retainer inserted, I’ll be on my way. All in favor, say “aye.” For the love of this forest and all that is good, please say “aye.”

What’s a Turtle’s Life Worth

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Yesterday I was driving to the Kansas City airport to drop off Trudi. She was flying out to the Tour of California. About 1/2 way there, on the Turnpike, I saw this box turtle in the middle of the interstate. I was in the passing lane. It is a three lane highway. The turtle was in the middle lane, facing the shoulder. It was moving, but moving slowly, like turtles do. I tried to get over, but there was no way I was going to be able to stop and then go back and retrieve the turtle.

It is been haunting me ever since. I can’t imagine that the turtle made it back off the road. I’d love to think that was the case, but it isn’t realistic. There are too many semi trailer trucks driving on the road. They are definitely not going to serve to miss a box turtle. I would though.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how valuable a turtles life is? If I asked people, most people, if they were being truthful, wouldn’t give it much value. We tend to put priceless tags on human life, then way less value, but some on mammals lives, such as our dogs and cats, but reptiles are way, way down the scale. I would imagine that most people would put reptiles just a little above insects in the life value category.

I don’t feel that way. I love turtles. I think they have personality. They are self sufficient, carry there own homes, live a really long time and just go about their business, slowly. I think they are great. I liked turtles way before I started riding bikes, but through cycling, I’ve had the opportunity to “run into” way more turtles than the average person.

If there was only one turtle left on the planet, then I think that many people would put value on it, but since they are everywhere, no one gives them a second thought. I don’t think people think much at all when they see a smashed turtle on the road. Not like a cat or something. But I do.

Just think if a human had to make a turtle. It is beyond our capabilities. By years, 100’s of years. Something we take so much for granted and they are irreplaceable by man. Such is all life.

Anyway, next time you have a chance to take a minute of two out of your day to move a turtle out of harm’s way, do it. No matter what you think about the reptile, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.

The turnpike has this concrete median, so the turtle couldn't get across if he wanted.

Bromont slep through the whole turtle ordeal.

Paying for Automobile Repair – It is Never Satisfying

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I can fix a car. There are a few things I don’t mess with. Replacing windshields and such just doesn’t make any sense. Actually, any repair that takes expensive specialty tools, that don’t need to be done very often, are the ones I don’t do. Front end work falls into this category most of the time.

And paying someone to do front end work is a repair that you rarely get much satisfaction out of. The few times I’ve had it done, it doesn’t fix the problem much and it seems to cost way too much. Actually, all car repair seems to cost too much relatively.

I’m not sure when it happened, but I think it was sometime around when the on-board computer started recording misfires, etc., but somewhere down the line automobile repairs seemed to skyrocket. The repair shops, dealers, etc. would say the devices to read the check engine light, whatever, were so expensive that they had to charge more. It was total fabrication. An OBD2 scanner now doesn’t cost hardly anything. It tells you nearly exactly what is going on with your automobile. You can go down to Autozone, and probably other parts stores, and they will scan your car for free.

Anyway, a few months ago I took my van to get aligned. My front tires were wearing uneven and there was a shutter in the steering wheel. I was driving out to Colorado later in the day and needed the van back. The guy called and said I needed new ball joints and it was going to be $900. I can do ball joints myself, but still would have had to take it back to the alignment shop so I told them to go ahead and fix it. They did and it didn’t do anything. I was gone for a month or so and when I went back, they looked at the van again and said it needed another $1500 worth of work. New bushings, springs, shocks, etc. Nearly everything. Anyway, I didn’t want to put on the new tires I got until I got the front end straight and wasn’t ever going to have those guys touch my van again.

I’d planned on just replacing everything on the front end myself, but with this separated shoulder, I’m pretty much unless in that regard, so I took it over to East Topeka to another alignment shop. The shop was immaculately clean and the guys seemed honest. They said I needed new swaybar, stutrod bushings, a tie rod end and that was it. Around $800 including the alignment. So, they have it. I haven’t gotten it back yet, but I am crossing my fingers.

I’m not sure why the industry of auto repair has a bad rap as a place to get ripped off. It probably is more to do with ineptness than with dishonesty. Fixing cars isn’t an easy thing. There aren’t enough smart guys in the industry to handle the volume of business. So, we all end up with work that doesn’t satisfy our expectations. Even if the work doesn’t repair the car, the costs involved usually are so absurd that you can never leave with a good taste in your mouth.

Finding a competent auto mechanic seems to be nearly as important as having a good doctor nowadays. If I had another lifetime, I wouldn’t mind being a fulltime auto mechanic. I’m really a blue collar type of guy anyway. It takes lots of mental concentration, plus it is very physical. But, that isn’t happening in this lifetime. I have my hands full just fixin’ my own cars.

I took my wheels over to a tire place to have the new ones put on the aluminum wheels. It is amazing what the weight difference is between the steel and aluminum wheels. I wonder if that makes a difference in fuel economy?

Even though my van is diesel, it rarely gets over 20 mpg. My insight get way better mileage, but is very, very small.

Someone pissed someone off big time here. I rode by this car a couple days ago. It made me daydream all ride about the circumstances involved. I decided there was probably a woman involved. This was only the tip of the iceberg here. The tires were flat and the roof was pretty scratched up.

Race Mechanic vs. Bike Shop Mechanic

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For some reason, I’ve been replacing a lot of rear derailleur cables recently before or after the club rides. I’m not sure with Sram or Campy shifters, but Shimano shifters have always had a tendency to eat up rear derailleur cables up inside the shifter body itself. My brother is notorious for having the cables break, in races and training.

Anyway, there is a new guy from Florida that is riding with us now and his shifting sucked yesterday. We stopped after 1/2 an hour and I messed with it. I realized pretty quickly that the cable was suspect. It wasn’t shifting good up or down. So when we got home, I told him I’d look at it for him.

Just like I suspected, his cable end was frayed. Pretty badly really. He only had a couple more rides left on it. Anyway, I had heard that he had taken his bike into a local shop to get worked on last weekend. He said that his derailleur hanger was cracked and that he got a new one. Plus he said he had paid for a tune up. It surprised me that he could have gotten his bike back after a tune up and it shifted like that.

But, there is a huge difference between a race mechanic and a local bike shop mechanic. A race mechanic fixes a bicycle like he would if he was going to be racing the very bike when he was done. He fixes it and then will usually take it out for a short ride to make sure it acts the same off the stand as it did on the stand. The same with everything else he does. A race mechanic realizes even a very small problem with a bicycle can be the difference between winning and losing. Or winning and finishing sometimes.

Most race mechanic I know have raced bicycles sometime in their lives. I don’t think it is mandatory that is the case, but it usually is. I think this gives them an appreciation of how perfect a race bike has to be at all times.

I think the average person would be surprised how many times a bike get washed. From a riders point of view, I think that the team race mechanics wash the bikes way too much. Especially since the addition of power sprayers all the teams are hauling around. Power sprayers can do a number on the bearings of a bicycle. I do understand if you have to wash 18 bikes or more a night, a power sprayer makes the job quicker, but it makes the longevity of some of the parts on bicycles much shorter. But, the team mechanics usually have a fairly unlimited supply of parts, so that is of little concern for them.

The teams I’ve ridden on have always had good mechanics. That is something I miss riding on a local team. The relationship between a rider and a mechanic is a special thing. It takes a long while for the relationship to form. But after it does, it is a true bond. The mechanic knowing exactly how the rider wants his bike to be in every instance. There are very few people I would allow to work on my bike ever. I’ve been fortunate having some of the best guys in the business as team mechanics. And most are good friends still.

When one thinks of a bike race mechanic here in the US, Bill Woodul's name is on the forefront. Bill was around when I first started racing. I did many European and South American trips with him. He might be the most colorful person I've ever known.

This is Calvin Jones. He was with me on the Levi's Team. He now works for Park Tools and teaches at the Bill Woodul mechanic's clinics.

I go through a box of these cable ever other year. It is amazing how fast they disappear.

I found this photo at a website that tells you how to properly wash your bike. It is overkill, but okay.

It's probably not the best idea carrying diesel around in this. I use a little diesel on the chain, some use kerosene, and then just use Dawn dish soap in water. Pretty simple.