Monthly Archives: August 2012

America – The Innovator of Modern Day Cycling Equipment

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It is kind of strange being involved in the sport as long as I have. Watching the changes in equipment has been super interesting. When I first started racing, there really wasn’t much innovaton in the sport. It had been 5 speed freewheels for years, with steel frames and tubular tires on aluminum rims. The sport was sort of stuck in time.

But, just about when I got hooked, other America’s got hooked too and some real innovations in all aspects of equipment involved in the sport changed.

I was working at a local bike shop, Gran Sport, when Trek started business back in 1976 I think. I bought my high school girlfriend a Trek frame because it was super cheap and pretty okay quality. I don’t think Trek sold 1000 frames that first year.

Trek got into carbon way before everyone else. But, by then, all the companies were starting to innovate. That was the motto for Specialized for years, “Innovate or Die.” When I rode for Specialized, I think they were upgrading equipment nearly too fast. Their sales people didn’t even have enough time to convince the buyers how great the products were before they had already produced a newer product. It seemed nuts.

Talking about Specialized, I was talking to Mike Sinyard, the founder of Specialized Bicycles and I was saying something about how I’d been using his products for close to 30 years, when off the top of his head, he recited the address to Michael’s Cyclery, in Ames, Iowa. He said that he’d packed and addressed so many boxes to our team that he could never forget the address. Mike was the Henry Ford of MTB bikes. And the first person to actually produce water bottles in the US. Pretty great stuff.

I was riding the Coor’s Classic when Brian Maxwell and his wife, Jennifer, started making Powerbars in their kitchen and brought them to us before the start of each stage in San Francisco. It really didn’t seem that strange that a local couple from the bay area was cooking nutrition bars and handing them out. I guess it was the times. Before they came, we filled our pockets with Bananas, grapes, Fig Newtons and such.

My brother and I made a bike rack from my mom’s station wagon when I was an intermediate (young junior). We took a couple 2 x 4’s and bolted them onto the roof face and held our bikes to them upside down with u-clamps on the bars, held on with bolts with wing nuts. There really weren’t any real bike racks.

I remember when I first saw the word Yakama. It was on the side of the Raleigh Team van. We called up Michael, our team director, and demanded that each of us get one, even though we didn’t have any idea what it was. When he told us bike racks, we didn’t care much. Little did we know.

Later that year, at the Coor’s Classic, I was eating breakfast and noticed someone crawling around on the top of our team van. I went outside and asked the guy what he was doing. It was the president of Yakima, Don Banducci, putting a wind deflector on the front of our rack. Yakima printed a poster a couple years later with a picture of the field in the Coor’s Classic and I was at the front, but over on the left side of the road by myself, looking back and it said, “Yakima, look for us at the back of the pack.” Or something like it. It’s one of my favorite posters, probably because of the scenery and the whole race stretched out in the distance.

I wore a hairnet helmet forever. I was on the board of directors of the USCF when we voted in the hard helmet rule. The Bell V-1 Pro was just about the only helmet commercially available. I remember going to the bike show in the fall, a couple months before the rule was going to go into effect, and this young racer, Jim Gentes, was running around the show with this piece of styro foam, that weighed nearly nothing, and was asking me if I’d be interested in using it to race. I thought he was nuts, thinking there was no way it was going to pass the ANSI or SNELL tests. Boy, was I wrong. He went ahead a put a thing piece of lycra over the foam and Giro was started. Jim is still racing his bike and livin’ the life.

I was also on the USCF board when Boone Lennon, the inventor of clip-on bars, came and tried to convince us to not outlaw the bars for mass start racing. I have to say, that I, single handily, was the one that made that happen. Everyone else on the board seemed okay with it, but I spoke up. I asked why doesn’t someone go out and ride them in a criterium, with a dip in the last corner and see how well that works out. Or try them in a cyclo-x. I explained that there is a very good reason for elbows in the equation of bike riding and not falling off your bike. Boone slipped me a pair of bars in the rest room and told me to go out and try them, but I still voted no. It just wasn’t, and still isn’t a very good idea.

I hadn’t really thought much about this before. These are just a few things that have changed in the last few decades in the sport of bicycle racing. And all these ideas and innovations were by American guys that just liked to ride their bikes. Guys like you and me. We, as a country of cyclists, really changed the way the technical side of the sport developed. At the same time, Greg LeMond and a bunch of other American riders were changing the way the Europeans perceived the US in the sport too. I actually think it was the riders that legitimized the American products, but maybe the products did that on their own. Maybe not, I don’t really know. I do know it was a great time to be involved in the sport.

In 1986, here was the helmet style.
Early in 1986

Then no helmets out of the country or at domestic Pro races. I think Bernard has his helmet because we’d all crashed so many times in the RCN. This was in Columbia, riding for La Vie Claire.

Then domestically, we wore Bell V1-Pros. Man, those were some fugly helmets.

I still like Fig Newtons. I don’t eat them often enough.

Half Full or Half Empty?

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Yesterday I had planned to ride a couple hours before the club ride and then go out again for a couple hours. But, it didn’t work out.

I have some vacant land in Central Topeka. It’s a long story about how I ended up owning it sight unseen, but it has been a pain in the ass for the past decade. It is 13 fenced acres. People seem to want to dump their trash on it for some unknown reason to me. Laziness is the only explanation I can come up with. And $$$$. When I got the land, it had two train cars and a couple semi trailer trucks on it. Bill and I spent the better part of two weeks cutting the railroad cars up with a cutting torch to take them to metal recycling. I have been trying to get someone else to come by and get the semis. I don’t have that problem anymore.

Someone went over and cut the cable at the entrance and proceeded to dump 100 or so tires, plus a few old TVs and misc. other items. Plus, they disassembled and stole the semis trailer trucks. I don’t have such a problem with the trucks. I was hoping, at best, to split the money for the recycling, but probably would have just let them go for the removal. But, the tires and trash bummed me out. When I got the land, there were nearly 2000 tires dumped there. I recycled them for playground usage, but it took a ton of work. I have no desire to get involved in that again.

So, I went over and got another cable and lock before the ride, not that I think it is going to do any good. Someone that has the ability to remove semi trucks from property, aren’t going to have any problems with a 5/16″ cable.

Anyway, it was 4 before I got out riding. And I was in a fairly sour mood. It is amazing how much different you look at things in that kind of mindset. I normally say I’m a fairly optimistic person. I think I have a pretty open, balanced perspective on things. But, yesterday, I seemed to only see the bad. That didn’t help my mindset, obviously.

I rode out 2nd St., which is by the river, heading out East. I took the bike path through Central Topeka to get there. It goes through some pretty questionable neighborhoods. I like to ride around checking neighborhoods out. But not yesterday. All I could see was the trash, dead cars, and other stuff that should be somewhere else. I understand how it gets to where it is, but it seems like more of it is around than ever before.

There was a time when being poor wasn’t necessarily having to live in filth. People took pride in the surroundings even though they were lacking in financial means. That is not the case now. I don’t know why it changed. But it did. I remember my neighbor telling me about going to Brazil to do some volunteer work and he went and had a meal in one of the poor worker’s home. He said the floor was dirt, but the place was immaculate. We could use a little of that pride. I know that isn’t the norm in Brazil, I’ve seen the squalor throughout San Paulo. But, there are small enclaves of people that still have pride.

Anyway, I was definitely not looking through rose colored lenses. All I saw was bad. Even a racoon, scurrying across the street, seemed depressing. I turned around when a bridge was closed and came home early, then skipped the evening ride. Riding didn’t seem too important anymore.

Here are some pictures during my morbid mood –

Stuff dumped on my land. Maybe a game camera might help?

I saw these cars all pull in and two guys get out and start pummeling each other. I watch for a few minutes before two of their friends pulled them apart.

Blow up of above photo.

This guy is sleeping under the bridge on the bike path most days.

It really bothered me that his wallet, hooked to his pants by a chain, was laying behind him on the ground.

I couldn’t shake it even later in the evening. These places are popping up all over the country. They should be made illegal. It is pretty much legal robbery, but horrible, taking advantage of people when they are down and out.

Olympics vs. The Tour de France

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I hate to say it, but I’m diggin’ the Olympic Games more than the Tour de France. Especially this year’s Tour.

I’m not sure the reason, but I am really enjoying watching all the sports this year. I’ve been watching rowing, volleyball, fencing, you name it, I’ve watched it. I’m usually not too much into watching water polo, but I watched it for 30 minutes yesterday. I’ll actually watch just about anything. I tend to shy away from boxing mainly because I don’t really like to see people smashing each other in the face and someone else judging them to do it. I actually have to dislike most subjective sports. By those, I mean the sports that are only judged by other humans. I might dislike them because of the scoring, but I still watch them.

The Tour de France this year was boring. Sorry, but after the fact, that is a fact. I think the cycling road race at the Olympics was just as good as any single stage of the Tour, and it had 20 stages to 1 for the Olympics. The 5 man team max made the race much better. The time trial at the Olympics was fairly predictable and moderately boring too. They need to do something to spice up the coverage some.

I’ve had this idea for a long time. If I had a ton of extra money laying around, I would collect Olympic medals from all the Olympic games. A gold, a silver and a bronze medal from every Olympics since 1896. It probably would have been much easier and cheaper to do when the Eastern Block was still behind the Iron Curtain. There were a lot of Olympians with multiple medals that could have used some Western currency back then. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an Olympic Gold medal for the Tug of War from the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis? I think it would be great.

I’ve only touched a few Olympic medals in my life. Roy Knickman’s bronze medal from the 1984 TTT was the first one. Let me tell you, it is a very cool thing. It must feel great having earned it. I’m sure Taylor Phinney is bummed about his two 4th place finishes this year. Both his mom and dad both have Olympic medals. He gonna have lots more chances to get one, so that is good.

Did you have a chance to catch the British Team do qualifying in the Team Pursuit? 3:52 and change for 4km. A World Record ride. It was pretty seamless. It is a beautiful thing.

I didn’t realize that the Americans that win medals got paid for their medals by the US Olympic Committee. $25000 for Gold, $15000 for Silver and $10000 for Bronze. I’m not sure what I think about that. I guess it’s okay, why not? I heard about it when I heard that a Senator from Florida was introducing a bill to make the $$$ tax exempt. I’m not sure what I think about that either. I guess it’s okay too.

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed watching the Olympics and the track and field hasn’t even started. Should be fun next week.

If you have an extra $25000-$35000 sitting around, you can start you medal collection right now on Ebay. These are from Athens. Extras.

The UCI is Corrupt, I Can’t think of another Answer

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I read here at Velonation that the UCI made an official request to USADA asking to take over control of the investigation of Lance Armstrong and Co. Man, does this stink. I saw an interview with Pat McQuaid saying that the UCI knew nothing about the investigation and it was “nothing to do with the UCI.” Here is a link to that very interview.

Pat McQuaid stated in his letter – “The UCI wants that the whole case file with all the evidence is assessed by an independent panel who shall then decide if the respondents have a case to answer.” USADA responded to the request with a big fat NO!

Wow, why would the UCI try to take this investigation away from USADA? That isn’t their place in the sport. That isn’t how things work in this process. It is just a huge political and stupid jester that won’t be construed any way but badly. These guys are complete idiots. Corruption might be a reach, but I’d like to hear the explanation of why they made this request. I’ll be waiting patiently.

East Village Criterium Bound

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I guess I’m driving up to Des Moines and doing a criterium in front of the Capitol Building at 7 tonight. I was thinking about going to Elk Grove, but I sort of hate the course and you do it two days in a row. Plus, there is a UCI PRO only race going on for 10X the 1/2 prize list, so I wouldn’t be racing the race I want to anyway, so I’m just gonna skip it. (I say that now, but I can always drive there after tonight’s race.)

The East Village Criterium has a pretty good climb in it, so it is a good course for me. I’m not sure how I’m riding. I’ve been doing a bunch of manual labor the last couple days along with riding during the heat.

Yesterday I moved a bunch of concrete and then replaced the brakes on the back axle of my van. I heard a slight noise and thought I should check them out before I travel. One of the pads on the drivers side was metal on metal. I don’t have any idea how I let it get that far along. I need to start keeping a log in each car and note when I do repairs on each. It is confusing.

It’s only 3 1/2 hours up to Des Moines from Topeka. I’ll see who I can drag along.

New brakes look are so nice.

I have no idea how I let these get to this state.


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It’s amazing how much you can do in 24 hours. I’ve been out of Topeka for just about that long and it seems like I’ve done a ton. I’ll write about the race tomorrow. I’m kind of in a time crunch today.

I will say that it is very important to show up at each and every race with the right mindset. By this I mean that you need to be able to adapt your mind to whatever your physical ability is going to be that day. That is a very important part of bicycle racing. Yesterday I forgot that and now I have a bad taste.

It’s nice to be out of the hot temperatures. But it is muggy here in Iowa. It rained a ton yesterday morning.

I’m on my way up to Cable to MTB ride for a few days. Bromont is going to be very happy when he realizes the final destination. I’ll post more later.

This is the funnest thing I saw yesterday. I was waiting in drive through at McDonalds for a cone yesterday and the car in front of me let their dog out to pee and the dog jumped onto the roof of their car and started barking. The owner lady said that the dog was so excited he was going to get a cheeseburger he couldn’t stand it. Excellent.

Racing Mentality

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I raced Saturday in Des Moines Iowa, in front of the Capiotol Building at the East Village Criterium. I raced the race last year and really enjoyed the course.

I finished 5th. I’m not sure what happened. I was much better than 5th, but that is the place I got. Since I’ve had a couple days to think about it, I’ve decided that I didn’t have the mentality to match my physical feelings. When that happens, it is never a good result.

I’ve raced so little the last couple months since I fell and separated my shoulder that it is never a given how I’m going to feel. Add in the extreme temperatures and it is nearly guess work. I thought since it was close to 20 degrees cooler than what I’ve been riding in the past month that I’d feel great. That wasn’t the case.

And when I wasn’t great, then I was sort of depressed. I wasn’t horrible, I just wasn’t. It was muggy and I was sticky all day, but that didn’t really explain why I never came around in 70 minutes. I kept thinking the whole race that I was going to feel better. My jump was pitiful, but I felt like I had okay power. I felt the whole time I was just about good, but it never happened.

So, during the whole race I was not paying enough attention to what was going on around me and too much attention to how I felt. I made a few moves. I didn’t have enough snap to lose the guys I needed to. That being said, I never made a full out effort until the last lap when I had already dug a deep hole for myself.

I’m usually really good at maximizing my placing in a race. I don’t like finishing 5th in a local race when I felt better than that. 5th was about the worst I could have finished and I didn’t race that badly. I didn’t race that well either though.

Cycling is an unusual sport because you usually have enough time to ride out of a funk if you have the ability to start with. I’ve started many races thinking I was bad, only to be going great a couple hours later. Usually, when I’m good at he start of a race, I’m good all day.

The hard thing is when you’re almost okay, but not quite there. So you have this big question mark, in your brain, the whole race, scrambling up the important information you need to have a good result.

I’m pretty much done dwelling on it. I’m up in Cable Wisconsin. Bromont loves it. I’m going to ride my MTB bike for a few hours today and see where I’m really at. It’s really hard to fake it much riding off road. Even just training.


Pretty nice backdrop for a criterium.

Michael Fatka rode his ancient bike, 40 miles down from Ames to Des Moines to watch.

The field was decimated towards the end. I didn’t realize how badly until the last lap.

One of our cats, Kukla, not wanting me to leave Saturday morning.