Monthly Archives: November 2012

One of those Days

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I can’t call yesterday the best day I’ve ever had. There were a few bright spots, but in general it was a day I’d just as well write off.

I think it started with watching a video from a cardiologist. I’m going to do a post of it eventually, so I’m not going to get into it right now, but the thing left me pretty depressed, which isn’t my normal state and I don’t deal with it very well. Next, I was trying to put the Di2 electronic shifting on my cross bikes and after dealing with it for a good while, realized that I didn’t have the right length wires to connect the shifters to the junction box at the bottom bracket or the junction box to the rear derailleur. So, my “A” bike is completely disassembled the day before I hope to race. And it’s not going to get together in time either.

Plus, the daylight seems to be gone right after I wake up. What’s up with that? I had planned to take a rest day, but was still thinking of riding a little, but it got dark before I had a chance to get out. I hate the winter just because of that. I think I must be an endorphin addict, because if I don’t do something, it puts me into a funky mood. I can’t imagine living in Alaska or somewhere that it is dark nearly the whole winter. Talk about depressing.

Anyway, today I have to try to figure out if I have enough equipment together to this weekend. It will be a hodgepodge of stuff, but that matches my physical assets at this point, so it seems right. I am mildly panicking about my form, or lack of it, at this very moment. At least it is mildly. It won’t become real panic for another month I hope. Something seems to be off kilter, but I have no idea what it is. I’m usually pretty good at figuring these things out, but this has eluded me so far.

Heard about the summit they are holding this weekend in London, The Change Cycling Now Group? I’d like to go there and listen to what these guys have to say. I’m thinking it is going to be a very hard task. And here’s the one of the reasons why-

In a 1995 poll, 198 elite athletes were asked if they would use a banned performance enhancing drug given the guarantees of not getting caught and winning. Only 3 of those athletes said they would not use a drug (Bamberger & Yaeger, 1997).[v] Other studies also conform to the theory that athletes believe that the use of a banned harmful substance is a viable response to a career-threatening situation, and many would be prepared to use drugs if they found themselves in a situation that threatened their performance or career.

Think this looks real?

That is going to be a very hard thing to change. I’m not sure that cycling will ever go the way of golf, where the players call fouls on themselves. Plus, I’d bet just about anything, that golf has it’s own issues with PEDs. I have no idea what they are, but I’m sure it’s there.

I have to applaud the effort though. It’s not going to be easy.

Okay, I hope today goes a little better. The days seem to be going by about as fast as I blink. Time is strange that way. Sometimes it seems to nearly stand still and the very next moment it seems to accelerate out of control. I sort of like it that way.

The front derailleur to the battery wire was about the only thing that fit yesterday.

I added electronics to my MTB. I got these heated grips to test. They run on a Lithium-Ion battery. They have 3 setting and I chose 3 for 35 degrees and really thin gloves.

This was the outcome. Blisters on both hands. And I don’t get blisters on my hands hardly ever. Obviously, these things can get very hot and I’d guess will work down to just about any temperature you can stand for the rest of your body.

I did get a new cylinder and piston for my Stihl MS200t chainsaw. That was a highlight of the day.

How about this from Johan? I didn’t like the guy much before, but thought he might be fairly smart. That isn’t the case.

Makes me Look like I’m Drawing with Crayons

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Also, when I’ve solved all the problems of humans competing against each other with bicycles, then I will locate my deck chair and sail off into the mists of leisure, a destinationless cruise. I have ideas for how to get there, but most of them depend on the better natures of those who would vie for the prizes, and I have found (perhaps your results vary) that mostly when the prizes get big enough, the natures of those who vie for them get compromised in mostly irredeemable ways.

Click here to go to Red Kite Prayer to read this masterpiece.

Ray Skeen

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I was riding by a newly tilled field yesterday and thought, like I always do when I see newly plowed ground, of a really nice life experience.

It was back when I was 19 and Kris and I were driving our VW bus back from California. I think it must of been in the fall, but don’t hold me to that. Anyway, we were doing the diagonal from Tucumcari New Mexico to Wichita Kansas on Hwy 54. We were past Texas/Oklahoma and just into Kansas when, clank, boom, or whatever, the engine threw a rod, #3 to be exact, a well known noise to me.

Highway 54, only 2 lane, was pretty much a truck route to save a bunch of distance up to Kansas City. There wasn’t a shoulder and we knew the bus was dead. So, before it even had coasted to a stop, we both got out and started pushing to keep the momentum. Every so often a truck would pass us and I’d just hold onto the driver’s side door to get the sail effect and some free distance. We did this for about a mile until we came up to a farm yard.

We pushed the bus into the driveway and into the grass. I went up and knocked on the door and Ray Skeen, the farmer that owed the house and surrounding property, answered. I explained our situation and asked if we could use a phone to try to get a hold of a friend that might come down and pick us up. He was super nice and said sure. The only problem was we didn’t know too many people that owned cars, or at least cars that could drive 300 miles to get us.

The Skeens were great. Before I even made a call, they suggested that they should drive us to Wichita and we should meet whoever was going to pick us up there, split the drive half way. I didn’t really know what to say. They were volunteering to drop what they were doing and drive us 150 miles, with our bikes and stuff. They pretty much wouldn’t take no for an answer. I knew some people we could stay with in Wichita if I couldn’t get a hold of anyone from Topeka.

I finally got a hold of a friend, Fritz Menninger, and Fritz said he could come. The Skeens told us a place to meet Fritz and that was it, we piled into their car and set off. I don’t remember Mrs. Skeen’s first name, but she said something to Mr. Skeen, Ray, about whether he had fixed the alternator of the car. He said no. She was questioning how they were going to get back, since it was going to be dark when they would be driving back. He said they would just stop a couple times and charge it up. No stress at all.

It worked like clockwork. We showed up at the meeting point right when Fritz did. We unloaded, thanked the Skeens and said we would come back and get our bus when we could. It was so strange, because we got back to Topeka nearly faster than we would have if we’d just stayed in the bus and not broken down.

Fast forward over a month. My father, who lived in Kansas City, drives over one evening to visit us. We lived with his mother, my grandmother. He asks us where the bus is and we tell him it blew up down in Bloom Kansas a month earlier. (You can tell how much were in contact with him.) I tell him that we had another engine for the bus, but didn’t have a way to get down there. He casually says that he’ll take us, right then. So, we call up the Skeens and ask them if it’s okay to come down. I tell them we’re not going to get there until after midnight, so don’t be alarmed if they hear anyone outside. I ask Ray if he has an extension cord, we have a work light. He says sure.

Anyway, Kris and I threw the spare engine, plus all the tools we need into the trunk of my dad’s Ford Granada, and we drove the 300 miles to Bloom. It is pretty late by the time we get there, well after midnight. Ray had hooked up an elaborate light setup, with some tarps. It was so bright it was nearly like daylight. So, we unloaded and got to work.

I think my dad stayed there until we assured him that we were good. It doesn’t take much to remove and reinstall a VW engine, but it was cold. And we probably had to change a few parts, maybe the carburetor, distributor, etc. I don’t quite remember. Anyway, it was close to sunrise by the time we got the bus started.

That was just about when Ray came out to say good morning. He said that his wife was cooking breakfast and it would be ready in 15 minutes. It, once again, was perfect timing. We put the dead engine into the bus, along with our tools and headed in.

Man, did it smell good. Eggs and bacon. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bacon in the morning. The only problem was that we were both vegetarians. We had been so for over 5 years. But, we gave each other the look like, hey, she cooked this for us, we have to eat it.

Sitting down at the table, it looked like she had cooked for 10. Easily a dozen and a half eggs and two pounds of bacon, plus a load of bread made into toast. We were pretty hungry and of that age, so we ate pretty much everything she had made.

Then Ray gave us a tour of his house and land. I don’t remember much about his house, other than it had a full basement, but he’d never finished the stairs, so you needed a ladder to get down. In the basement, he had his hobby, which was building gliders. Like big gliders, over 6 foot wingspans and bigger.

He went on to explain that he didn’t plant winter wheat in the field behind his house because that is where he flew his planes. Every time it snowed, he would plow the field to expose the new black dirt, to create thermals so he could fly his gliders over the field.

I was into the whole thing. All of it. It seemed so surreal thinking about this guy living out in Bloom Kansas, building gliders and then not farming so he could fly them. I’m not sure why I clicked so well with Ray. Maybe it was because of his interest in nearly everything in life. He seemed to be truly interested in my brother and I and what we were doing and trying to accomplish. He was a farmer yet a renaissance man.

Anyway, we got going mid morning. I think we had to stop in Wichita to mess with the timing on the VW, but got home okay. I sent Ray and his wife a few letters the next couple years. The first time I went to Europe on the National Team, I sent him a letter from Italy. I had the full intention of going back down to visit them and fly gliders with him, but, I never did. I don’t have a lot of regrets in life, but that is one of them.

There are lots and lots of things that initially drew me into the lifestyle of the sport of racing bicycles. I’m not sure that the early life experiences, such as this, weren’t as big a part of the reason it stuck as the competitive aspect of it. It really doesn’t matter, they go hand in hand.

So, every time I ride past a newly plowed field, especially in the winter, I think of Ray and wish I would have made it back down his way a few more times. I surely would have learned a thing or two.

Doping Forum Tonight at Velonews.com

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My buddy, Michael Aisner emailed me and said that there is going to be a live video and audio forum on doping in the sport, from Boulder, Co with guest panelists, Timmy Duggan, Michael Aisner, Ruthie Matthes, Shawn Heidgen and Don Powell. I believe the live feed starts at 8 pm. CST, which is 7 pm MT. Click here for the link to live feed from Velonews. Should be interesting. If the video doesn’t work, click here for the audio.

A few Things

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Anyone know why automobiles get such worse fuel economy in the winter than in the summer? I know my diesel van gets worse mileage because of the winter mix of diesel, but why do regular gas automobiles get such worse mileage?

I go to this website The Clymb every few days. Right now they have a bunch of cycling stuff cheap on it. I remember when they used to sell one item at a time and now they have dozens of different manufactures. It is a member’s only site, but only takes a minute to sign in, just an email address and password. They have Crank Brothers Candy pedals in the bike section. Last week they had Vittoria tubulars, but I didn’t see them today. I get $25 if someone I refer eventually buys something. They sell lots of other stuff other than cycling related too, mostly camping, climbing, hiking, etc. Here is the link.

Does anyone have any leads where to get some Clement PDX tubulars? Seems like they are sold out just about everywhere.

The weather here in Kansas got cold recently. Anyone know what you body does to compensate or adjust for cold weather. I know when you go to altitude, your body kicks in to make more red cells, but what changes occur in our bodies, so 40 degrees seems freezing cold in the summer and fairly warm in the dead of winter.

I did a blood test a week ago and then had my finger pricked and my hemoglobin measured just a few days later. How can my hemoglobin change 1.5 points in just a few days? I’d assume I would feel a lot better riding with a hemoglobin reading of nearly 17 g/gL.

I’m considering racing cross this weekend. There is a race down in Tulsa on Sunday. There is also the Iowa State Cross Championships near Des Moines.

This is from my Honda Insight. It gets around 50 mpg during the summer and now is is over 20% less. On premium gas no less.

Adam Myerson

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I’ve always had a sort of healthy love/hate relationship with Adam. By that I mean that Adam and I agree on many aspects of the sport, but seem to rub elbows more often than seems normal. We often seem to end up at the same place at the same time during a race.

I don’t really know his background in the sport. I can’t remember the first time I met Adam. It seems like it must of been sometime after I “finished” racing MTB bikes on a full time scale. He was already a pretty okay rider by the time he showed up on my radar screen.

Adam rode a year or two with a bunch of my buddies from Oklahoma on the Mathis Brothers Pro Team. I ran into much more often back then. Plus, when I sort of got back into cross, we’d compete at most of the same UCI events.

Adam is one of only a handful of guys that have ever accused me of doping. And maybe the only one to do it in person. It was a rash statement, on his part, in the heat of the moment. And he was gracious enough to apologize for it later.

Adam might be the only guy I know that is publicly more vocal and opposed to doping in cycling than me. That is something. He obviously wears his heart on his sleeve. I have to applaud him for that. It isn’t an easy thing.

Anyway, I saw this video last night and thought it deserves some more views. If you happen to know Adam, it gives a glimpse into some of the things that make him tick and successful in the sport. If don’t know him, it’s a small view into a very complicated guy.

Watch more video of Adam Myerson on cyclingdirt.org