Monthly Archives: June 2012

Training is Harder than Racing???

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I finally have a definitive answer to why Bradley Wiggins goes to Tenerife and hangs as often as possible. It is from one of his team directors, Sean Yates, ex (forever) team mate of Lance. Sean says – “The training is harder than the racing,” Yates said. “When push comes to shove in a race, on the top of [Col de] Joux Plane, it’s going to be hard, but 99 percent of time the training is harder than the racing.”

So there we have it, the races in Europe aren’t hard enough for Bradley because he can’t push himself hard enough in them, so he needs to go to a remote Spanish island and train with a few of his team mates (Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Michael Rogers, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Christian Knees). I guess racing isn’t hard enough for any of these guys. They probably need to be one on one with Bradley to be able to really dig deep and get to another level.

It seems so weird because nearly every race I’ve ever done is harder than nearly anything I do training. (And I have been known to train somewhat hard.) I must be doing something backwards here? I guess I must train harder, much, much harder, so the races seem way easier than training. That way I could be paid to race less, not perform in front of my fans, but get to hang with my team mates. According to Sean – “the fact that the hotel is superb, the food is superb, the terrain is the best, the amount of climbing you can do is phenomenal” is the reason behind his success. (I didn’t think Bradley ate much?) But, it does seem like a no brainer. Just hang at the nice hotel and climb as many meters as possible, beating up your team mates. I maybe could have been great with this training method. Shoot. Maybe it’s not too late? I wonder how much a ticket to Tenerife is?

If you want to try to emulate some of their training secrets, the whole article is here at Velonews.

And after Andy’s disappointing day at the Dauphine, here’s maybe what is going on behind the scenes at the RadioShack/Nissan bunker. But, putting aside their little spat, RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel, gives Andy a get-out-of-jail free card because “he’s had a lack of competition.” It seems, Yates, the student, has made some secret discoveries that his master, Johan, doesn’t know?

A close up of Bradley’s forearm after he lost all that upper body weight the last couple years.

I can see a couple more pounds of muscle here, that he could shed to climb really, really good.

And finally, the quote of the day from Mark Cavendish after finishing the Giro – “Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the only riders who do not take pulls or get pushed,” he said. “The commissaires do everything they can to make things harder for us. They make barrages when it’s not necessary. I am spent, but I have enjoyed it. I love this race, I love this country.”

Those silly officials, frowning upon towing. I was wondering how all those guys got up those steep mountains in Italy? Now Mark has explained it.

Don’t Miss It – The Transit of Venus – Today Only

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Unless there are some miracle medical advances, today will be the last time that the planet Venus passes in front of the sun in our lifetime. It will occur from 5:03 Kansas time until sunset. So, for those time challenged, that is 6:03 Eastern time and 3:03 pm Western Time Zone. It is going to be a pretty cool thing to see, so get out your welding glasses or old film negatives and take a peek.

Viewing Venus

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Okay. The Transit of Venus was smack dab in the middle of our Tuesday ride. Trudi came back from shopping with a couple pairs of welding goggles she had purchased at Harbor Freight. You actually had to wear a pair of sunglasses under the goggles to make it dark enough to look directly at the sun. We weren’t having such good luck, so went on a ride. We were riding back toward Washburn University, when we decided to stop at the Flying Monkey Coffeeshop for $3 Boulevard Tank 7 drafts. Trudi rode over and said that they had a special Venus viewing set up at the Planetarium at the University.

So, we guzzled down our beers and rode over to Washburn and just got there with a few minutes to spare to see the small black dot crossing the path of the sun. It was pretty cool, but it was surprising how small Venus is compared to the Sun. I know intellectually how big the sun is, but this put it in a much better perspective. Anyway, if you’re on the West coast, you still have more than an hour to take a peek.

Trudi and Catherine sporting the welding goggles before the ride. Nice look.

Trudi in a rush to make it back for viewing. Notice the welding goggles on her fanny pack strap.

The planetarium building at the local university here in Topeka, Washburn.

Catching the last glimpse of Venus before the sunset.

Two Abreast, It’s the Law

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That is the law here in Kansas for cyclists. It is a super good law. The only problem with the law is that nobody but cyclists know it.

I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I’ve had people yell “single file” to me. Probably 1000’s. The only time I’ve ever heard those two words in a phrase was when I was elementary school, walking in the hall to the auditorium or somewhere as a class and riding my bicycle. I don’t know where it got engrained into people’s brains that single file is how cyclists are “supposed” to ride on the street, but it is a common mistake.

I’ve been riding back and forth to Lawrence recently. Unless I’m riding on gravel down by the river, I have to ride on State Hwy. 40 for some amount of time. The road isn’t too busy and really not that dangerous. But, it doesn’t have a shoulder and rolls enough to make passing tricky. Cars passing each other and cars passing cyclists.

At least once, and usually more, when I ride the road, some yahoo will pass me, crossing into the opposite lane going up a hill. Inevitably, a car will be coming from the other direction and have to swerve, brake or something. It never ceases to amaze me that the guy in the other lane nearly always honks or flips me off when he comes by.

I just don’t get it. The car that was passing me is nearly always crossing a double yellow line on a blind hill and the other car blames the cyclist. What’s up with that?

It is even worse when I’m riding with someone else. The drivers of the cars think, mistakenly, that we’re breaking the law by riding two abreast. Somehow that mentality gives these people the need to try to enforce their mistaken thoughts by honking or coming by dangerously close, usually passing illegally themselves. It is super weird, like the law should even matter enough to endanger someones life.

I’ve had people actually stop a couple times and go into a tirade about the two abreast riding. Only a couple times. I used to carry a piece of paper in plastic that stated the Kansas State Law concerning riding bicycles two abreast. Each time a person stopped, I would show them the law and it was amazing how that would calm them down. It is like they thought they were the two abreast police and the realization that they didn’t know the law completely deflated them down to nothing.

Once we were riding over to Kansas City for a training race and got pulled over by the Douglas County Sheriffs near Lawrence. The guy was hassling us for riding two abreast. I happened to have the law with me and showed it to the officer. Next thing I know, the guy’s supervisor shows up. The officer had already called him since there were 6 of us. The officer goes and tells him that we were riding 4 abreast, when just 5 minutes earlier he had told us he stopped us for not riding single file. I was obviously pissed.

I had a conversation with the supervisor and told him that it was a much bigger deal having a sheriff lie to his supervisor, right in front of 6 regular citizens than whatever law the guy thought we were breaking to start with. It really didn’t go anywhere. The supervisor said that they had big problems with groups of riders “massing” on the county roads and thought this was one of those situations. Anyway, it goes to show that even the local law enforcement officers don’t know the law.

If that is the case, I don’t know why I would expect anyone else to. I went down and renewed my driver’s license in February. I thought that is would be a good idea to include a question on the renewal test about the two abreast law, but we don’t even take a test anymore. Just walk in, take an eye exam, get a photo taken, pay $25 and out. Maybe 5 minutes max.

I don’t know how to fix the problem. It sure would be nice if the drivers didn’t think that all us cyclists were law breakers when we ride side by side. I know that would alleviate a ton of the tension. But I don’t really see a way to do it.

Maybe some signs like this might help some. Funny, I got this off a website talking about riding in Tenerife and how it is a 1500 Euro fine to pass cyclists illegally in Spain. Weird coincidence

Tour of Guatemala

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I was listening to This American Life yesterday on a podcast and the whole hour of the show was dedicated to a story about a massacre in Guatemala. If you don’t listen to This American Life, you should. Anyway, here’s a link to the show.

It is sort of funny because about a week ago, I got an email from my friend Gustavo Carrillo, who sent me a couple photos of when I raced there over 3 decades ago.

I raced the Tour of Guatemala for the US National Team back in 1981. It was my first experience of racing south of the border. David Meyer Oaks, a seasoned rider from Texas had been down there, South America, a ton and was going to look out for us greenhorns. David’s main advise for us was watch out for loose dogs. Then nearly at the start of the 2nd stage, David hit one at over 40 mph and we didn’t see him for the rest of the stage. Go figure.

Anyway, I have a million other stories from the race. I could post only about this race and it would take over a month. I won a couple stages and the points jersey, combination jersey (maybe even the Mt. Jersey too?). I got horrible dysentery on the rest day and was beyond sick for 3 out of the last 4 stages. I had a good amount of money coming to me if I could just limp to the finish of the race. I pretty much ate nothing for 3 days and stopped multiple times during the stages to poop. I was riding with a bunch of poor Guatemalan guys with wing nuts holding on their wheels, and they would stop and wait for me each time. It was mildly embarrassing, but pretty cool at the same time. I was doing IV antibiotics and won the final stage in Guatemala City.

Anyway, that isn’t the point here. The point is that the segment on This American Life was taking about the genocide of over 100,000 people in the early 80’s in Guatemala. And I was racing bicycles there then. At the time, I knew it wasn’t the safest place to be. It was surreal climbing through the jungles in the middle of nowhere and these people would come out of the trees, dressed in jeans and button up the front shirts, holding sub machine guns, watching the spectacle of a bike race pass.

It is so hard to try to remember when the world news wasn’t available. This American Life said that the US government knew about what was going on in Guatemala, but didn’t do anything about it. Thus, no knowledge by us cyclists going down there to compete.

Anyway, flash forward a few more years. By the early 90’s, I’d raced in a lot in South America. I’d been to Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Chile and a few more countries. I somewhere along the line made a decision that I wasn’t going to go there anymore. It seemed unfair to be doing something that the average South American citizen had no ability to do. My bike was worth enough to feed a family of 4 for a couple years in most of these countries. It seemed wrong.

But then I started racing MTB bikes and Specialized was putting on a Cactus Cup in Sao Paulo Brazil. I was pretty much hired to race Cactus Cups throughout the World, so I felt I didn’t really have a choice. After going down there and interacting with the people, I changed my mind about racing there. I realized that the normal person living there had no ability to do the sport, but I was an entertainer for them. It didn’t cost them anything to watch a bicycle race. It was something that they could look forward to and spectate without any cost. I made a lot of good friends there after that.

But, that doesn’t remove the “guilt” I feel about going to Guatemala when the government was exterminating whole villages and I competing in a silly bike race. I know that I didn’t have any knowledge of the atrocities being done, but it still leaves me with an uneasiness that I can’t shake.

I’m probably going to have to mull it over in my brain for a while before I can get a handle on it. It will probably happen on a bike ride when I’m thinking about nothing.

The amount of people watching the races was beyond amazing. I'm wearing a points combination jersey here.

This was the final day in a soccer stadium in Guatemala City. We did a 40km climb to get there. I know the stadium looks empty, but there were a million spectators there. I was swarmed right after the line. I lost my shoes, helmet and gloves in the first 30 seconds after finishing. I spent over an hour in a police car on the infield because the crowds were so out of control.


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Yesterday my friend, Calvin Jones, sent me an email about a lot of different stuff. It kind of addressed some of the stuff in cycling we’ve done together and the thoughts about those very experiences. About Guatemala, the Iron Curtain, pertaining to US racing and development.

It got me thinking about what is the difference between ethics and morals. Especially when using those words in relation to the sport of cycling. Obviously, we all have a huge difference in both those concerning the sport. There are certain things that seem okay to me that to others seem questionable.

I have one example that comes to mind. It is a small thing, but I still think about it often when I address bigger issues in the sport. Anyway, one year at Superweek, at The Holy Hill Road Race, there was a big crash in the race before the Pro 1/2 race, so we had to sit in the parking lot more than an hour, maybe two, before they got us off. (I think the rider died.) Anyway, I was talking to my team and told them that the whole race was going to be over between 30 minutes and an hour. It was close to 100 degrees and the wind was whipping. There was no shade at the start area, so we were all sitting there roasting.

The race started and it started fast. Anytime there is a ton of wind on a circuit race, that is going to be the case. We got to the 2nd side of the course and the wind was coming from the left. That put the majority of the field over the center line. Pretty soon, Heidi and the other officials following, stopped the race. They said something about if we crossed the center line again, they were going to have to cancel the race. I took Heidi aside and advised her she should just let us race a couple more miles. There was hardy any distance left before we turned into headwind and then after a couple more miles it was going to be in the gutter, thus the race was going to explode. Heidi did just that and it was all good.

I think Brian won that race and I was in a small group going for maybe 5th or so. I thought everyone else on our team had quit because we had a ton of people handing up bottles in the feed zone. At the finish, after the awards, I said we should take off. Someone said that a guy on our team, Tony Wilhelm, a big, corn fed boy from Nebraskan was still out there. It had already been a long while since we had finished, but the race is about 100 miles. Anyway, Tony comes rolling in not that long later. He was by himself. So we pack up and go.

That night I talk to Tony about the race. He ended up finishing 25th, the last paying place, but at Superweek that is hardly enough to buy a Coke. I asked Tony when he got dropped and he said right when they restarted the race after the officials stopped us. I said that wasn’t possible, because it wasn’t that far to the corner. He said that he hadn’t crossed the centerline. I said, “What? They weren’t enforcing the yellow line rule.” He said that it didn’t matter because it was against the rules and he wasn’t going to break the rule. I tried to explain to Tony that the center line rule in cycling is like a foul in basketball. Something that everyone does once in a while, but try not to get caught doing it. That if it came down to getting dropped out of the field, especially when it was so windy, and crossing the center line, then you had to cross the center line. He didn’t go with it.

He emphasized once again, that it wasn’t right and it wasn’t something he was going to do. I asked him if he sped on the highway and he said no. I was amazed. His ethics in this instance were way beyond something I was going to understand. I’d raced 1000’s of bike races and had only been disqualified once for this infraction, when I was a first year Senior, in Texas by Tom Boyden, bless his soul.

I haven’t seen Tony for a while now, he lives in Colorado, but our little conversation has made me look at lots of other things much differently. I even apply it sometimes to the drug use issue in the Pro peleton and try to somehow try to figure out some of the issues better. I have to thank Tony for that.

One of the reasons I like the sport of cycling is because there really aren’t that many rules to follow. A lot of the rules are for the riders safety. There are some out there that seem ridiculous, but in general, compared to other sports, most of the rules aren’t too subjective. I like sports where they blow off a gun and the first guy across the line wins, compared to sports where a bunch of judges sit there and tell us who was the best. Basketball is kind of in the middle of the two, with the officials in control of much of the pace of the game.

I was watching the Bjarne Riis video below and thought how surprised I was that he didn’t seem to feel any remorse for earning his nickname, Mr. 60%, pertaining to his hematocrit (limit now 50%). I felt badly for him. Badly because he isn’t a smart enough guy to realize that in today’s cycling world, publicly, you need to act remorseful for using drugs, because it is viewed as cheating. It might not have been viewed that way, in the sport, when he was winning races, but it is now and he doesn’t seem to get that. You would think a guy that has made such a good life for himself by cheating would at least appreciate how he made it to this point of his career and act accordingly. His ethics are obviously much different than mine.

Below is an awesome picture of my friend, Dan Hughes, winning the Dirty Kanza last Saturday. He sent me an email asking me about a dilemma he was having after the event. It turns out that Dan and the other guy in the picture, Rusty Folger, had made a deal, towards the end of the 200 mile race, to ride and finish together. I guess, Rebecca Rusch, the women’s winner, was privy to the conversation and didn’t approve.

I have no problem with their arrangement. It was made between the two of them out on the road. I have no idea what they had experienced together or what either of them were trying to accomplish, but the mutual agreement to finish together wasn’t cheating. There was nothing immoral about it. They both had their own reasons for wanting to do that and they did it. Case closed.

Some probably think I am completely wrong on this. I accept that. Many believe, that in an event where you blow the gun off and first rider across the line wins, you should duke it out until the last millimeter. But, it doesn’t always work out that way. It doesn’t make it wrong, it just makes it different. It’s not that cut and dry, so both of them will probably be mulling it over in their brains for a few weeks until it just becomes a memory. Or maybe they’ll send each other an email, 30 years later, and still be pondering it?

Tulsa Bound – 24mm Tubulars

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I’m just about packed up to head down to Tulsa for the Tulsa Tough NRC. I’m still not exactly sure how many races I’m going to do, if any. If any probably isn’t a reality, or I wouldn’t be driving down there, but you never know. I had a pretty bad night sleeping on my shoulder last night, so I’m a little crabby. I’m in pitiful form, so it is going to be a challenge no matter how you slice it, but you have to get back into the fray sometime. I think it’s been about a month and a half now since I fell. So, counting the race in Arkansas I did, that is exactly one race in two months. Like I’ve stated here, many times, I’m not like Wiggins, able to train to better form that race form. I need to race to get to race form. Hope this works.

I glued on some 24mm Challenge tubulars last night. I’ve been meaning to try them for a while now. I got them from Bill Marshall. Along with some 27mm. I think it makes a lot of sense to ride wider tires in criteriums. I’m not sure the rational behind them in road races, but I’m not that smart of a guy. But since all the rims are going to a wider platform, eventually a 21 or 23 mm tire isn’t going to sit right on them.

I remember riding all the Fatboy Criteriums in the Cactus Cup. A Specialized Fatboy tire was 1.25 inches. That is around 35mm. I could lean a MTB over crazy far on those tires. I hope these work as well.

All three of the races in Tulsa are pretty technical. Come to think of it, each of the last three years there, I’ve crashed at least one time during the weekend. That doesn’t make me too happy thinking about that right now. If I fall on my left shoulder, my arm isn’t going to be attached to my body anymore. Whatever.

Okay, I’ll let you know how it goes. Sometimes when I think everything is dire, it goes much better than anticipated. Hopefully that will be the case here.

The Challenge tires mounted up pretty straight.

They don't look that much bigger than a normal sewup. I think I'm going to ride less pressure than normal. Maybe under 100 psi.

The van seems kind of empty. Only Bill's bike is missing. I must of forgotten something.