Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter Sunday – Tour of Flanders

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Today is Easter. We dyed eggs last night, which is always fun. It has been pretty nice the last few days here in Kansas. I’ve been on my bike 5 days and now have 270 miles for the new part of the season. I can’t say they have been easy miles. It is usually pretty windy this time of the year and even though it hasn’t been crazy windy, it is hard. I’m so glad the sport of cycling rewards longevity and prior effort. My butt is still sore after more than 3 hours in the saddle, but that isn’t such a big deal. My arm doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but I’m finding out that it is going to be a real slow process.

Battenkill in just in a couple weeks. I’m going to be missing that race too. I don’t think that I’ll be racing much in April, if any at all. I can barely stand up off my seat, so my arm is still stick-like. Even after my arm gets working better, I’m thinking that I should get all the surrounding muscles back up to speed so when I fall, my arm isn’t back at square one. Maybe so actually weight lifting may occur.

The Tour of Flanders is this morning. It’s probably my favorite race of the season. I’m picking Fabian Cancellara for the win. I believe he is going to have a pretty hard time shaking Peter Sagan, but think he is smart enough to not pull the guy to the line and eventually ride away from him. There is quite a bit of advantage having done the event so many times previously. But, it’s a long, hard day, so anything can occur.

The live video coverage starts at 5 am this morning and the race finishes around 9:30 CST, so don’t miss it. Here is a link to Cyclingfans.com, which has all the English links. Or here at Steephill.tv for more of the same.

One Kansas team is in the final four. Wichita State beat Ohio State last night and are going to Atlanta to play next weekend. That is a pretty big deal for them. I love the energy these collegiate players have this time of the year. It is so enjoyable to watch.

Okay, better be done with this and try to get some sleep. If I have my normal sleep schedule, 5 am is going to be a piece of cake for me. I’ve been awake at that time probably 28 out of the last 30 days. That and most of the other times all night. Chocolate is good for you in many different ways, so don’t be bashful about partaking in a few chocolate morsels. Happy Easter!

Sitting behind Bill and Brian for most of the headwind yesterday.

Sitting behind Bill and Brian for most of the headwind yesterday.

Dying eggs is always fun.

Dying eggs is always fun.

Plenty of fruit in the fridge for Easter breakfast.

Plenty of fruit in the fridge for Easter breakfast.

Training Over Racing

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I don’t really understand the schedule that Bradley Wiggins is doing this season. Last year he won virtually every time he clipped in and this year he has decided to change his training and hole up in Tenerife and “practice” climbing. He says – “We’re working more on the explosivity in the climbs. I don’t like it. It’s the worst part of training. We do a lot of that at altitude; we’ve been two weeks at altitude doing that,” he said. “Sometimes the stuff you don’t enjoy doing, it’s the stuff that works. If you only do what you like doing, you have the Bradley Wiggins of 2010.” But, later on he goes and states – “This year, I am training more than racing. I almost prefer the training camps to the racing,” Wiggins said. “You learn from the previous year. This year has been harder because the stuff we did last year, it’s a continual thing. The training we do now, I never imagined we’d do three years ago.” As normal, Bradley contradicts himself and he can’t decide if he likes training or not.

Forget the Bradley Wiggins of 2010, he should want to be the Bradley Wiggins of 2011. It seems like many other guys are having their issues this year and he would be fine if he could just beat his team mates, Richie Porte and Chris Froome.

It seems like doubling up the Giro and the Tour is in style this season. Cadel announced that he is doing it also. But, Cadel has been racing this year, not just training. Cadel is a little more old school than Bradley, it seems, and likes to race his bike.

I really don’t get the not racing deal. It seems to me, that bike racers race bikes. And they train to get fit enough to race and then they race. It would be like being a basketball player and you prefer to go to the park and shoot free throws than play an actual game. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

My friend, Rod Lake, had an extra power meter sitting around and he sent it to me and I installed it on my bike yesterday and rode. First time in my life I’ve ridden with a power meter. I hove no idea how this is going to change anything I do riding. Hopefully it will give me some important information that I can use to race faster, but I don’t know what that information will be as of yet. But, I guarantee that I’ll never be a Wiggins type that prefers training to racing. I can and never will be a fan of guys like that.

Beggars can't be choosers.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

We all needed a little more of this yesterday after watching KU melt the last 3 minutes of the game yesterday.

We all needed a little more of this yesterday after watching KU melt the last 3 minutes of the game yesterday.

A bunch of people came over for the game last night and I made pizza.

A bunch of people came over for the game last night and I made pizza.

I think I made 7 or 8 pizzas.  It was the first time that I've ever had left overs.

I think I made 7 or 8 pizzas. It was the first time that I’ve ever had left overs.

Here is Dennis cooling down his dog Hawkeye on the picnic table.  It's been pretty nice the last couple days, in the 60's and Hawk is used to cold Wisconsin temperatures.

Here is Dennis cooling down his dog Hawkeye on the picnic table. It’s been pretty nice the last couple days, in the 60’s and Hawk is used to cold Wisconsin temperatures.

Pros Training on TV

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I’m kind of sick of watching these professional races on the computer and having guys like Tom Boonen, that should be winning the stages, sit at the front for 10 kms at a time at the end and set tempo. Adding to the insult is having Magnus Bäckstedt commentate and keep saying how great of a job that Tom is doing. I doubt you can find a picture of Magnus setting tempo the week before he won Paris-Roubaix in 2004, or at any race for that matter.

I know that Tom got a “late” start to his season with an elbow issue and had to skip Qatar and not race for another week until Oman, but that was really a long time ago in February. He sat at the front in Paris-Nice and rode tempo to train earlier in March. Then, he fell in Ghent-Wevelgem and decided to “race” De Panne, which he has skipped the last couple years before racing Flanders. The first stage of De Panne, he goes and rides at the front for 10 kms, from 25km to go until Peter Sagan decided to race/train and drop pretty much everyone else. As a fan, I want to see the guys like Boonen and Sagan trying to win races, not train on television to prepare for Flanders or Roubaix. Sagan did win the first stage of De Panne, then proceeded to say that he was just training and drop off the back of the field the next day at the end, not to start the 3rd day. I’m sure the promoter of De Panne was thrilled about the actions of his race leader.

I’m all for using racing to get fit. I do it all the time, every year, all year long. But professional cycling in Europe is a different deal. There is lots of money involved and it is shown live on television. One way to kill the sport for the fans, and sponsors somewhat, is have the superstars sit at the front and set tempo. I know that Flanders and Roubaix are the most important races of the season for Tom, but if less than a week before the event, he isn’t fit enough to compete, he needs to train some more and not do this silly racing. I think all of us would rather have Tom just go out and motor pace after the race, and while in the race, try to sit on Sagan, or whoever, and sprint them at the finish. The guys that show the race on television have no desire to have Tom do what his team pays 75% of its riders to do, which is set tempo.

It would be like if every professional football game during the season was just like pre-season when you never know whether the team is showing up to win or just practice a few things. Watching pre-season professional football, and baseball for that matter, isn’t that much fun. And it not that much fun to watch the best riders, at important bicycle races, sacrifice themselves for training. That is a perfect way to kill the sport and then we won’t have the pleasure of watching it live on the internet or television.

Not sure if Boonen is setting tempo for Sagan or Sylvain Chavanel here.

Not sure if Boonen is setting tempo for Sagan or Sylvain Chavanel here.

Tom Boonen  setting tempo at Paris-Nice.  I remember when he used to try to win stages here.

Tom Boonen setting tempo at Paris-Nice. I remember when he used to try to win stages here.

Report Day 2

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It’s already closing in on 11 and my brain still isn’t up to coming up with anything to write. The main cause for this is lack of sleep. The last two nights have been pretty bad. I’m not sure if it is because I’ve been riding, but that is the only thing different that I can think of.

I ran into a guy at physical therapy in Louisville that had rotator cuff surgery. I said something to him about what a drag this lack of sleep thing is. I told him I hardly slept 4 hours the night before. He said that he would kill for 4 hours sleep. I asked him how far he was into his recovery and he told me 13 weeks. I just about shit. That is nearly 2 more months from now for me. If my arm feels like this in two months, I’m going to just be a pool of nothing.

Yesterday I only rode once, 40 miles. I was okay, but with about 10 miles to go I kind of fell apart. It is amazing how out of shape you can get not riding for two months. It doesn’t help that it is pretty cold and also windy. Not good for the home team.

I’m thinking about riding over to Lawrence today. It’s 35 miles each way with a coffee stop there. Eventually I’ll be so exhausted from lack of sleep that maybe I’ll just pass out. Something has to give.

I am sort of surprised how hurt my butt is from sitting on my seat. I think some of the cause is because I’m so weak that I’m am riding much easier gears, riding a faster cadence, so I have more pressure on my saddle than I normally would. Whatever the reason, my ass is pretty sore and I haven’t even ridden 6 hours. Guess it takes a few days to toughen it up.

I’ve really never spent this many weeks of not riding or exercising in decades. Maybe since I was 14. So everything here is new territory for me. I’m sure it will all come back quick, but since this shoulder thing isn’t going at all like I had anticipated, I’m a little spooked about just about everything right now.

It is supposed to be sort of nice for a few days and then snow again on Sunday. Snow on April 1st, that isn’t at all usual.

I’m thinking about building a chicken coop while Dennis is here to help and do the heavy lifting. That might take my mind off all the things that are swirling around up there, but not accessible.

I saw this on the back of a pickup. It is amazing what people will go out of there way to state about themselves publicly. I never saw who was driving it, but it’s interesting to imagine.

IMG_8143

IMG_8144

Man, It’s Easy to Forget How Hard this Sport is

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Yesterday I clipped in outside for the first time since February 10th. That is a little over 6 weeks of no outside bikin’. I did ride a few times indoors. I probably could have ridden more inside, but was too jacked up on Perocet for the first couple weeks and then thought that it was detrimental to my shoulder healing, taking it out of the sling, later on.

I had to split up it up into two rides. That is my plan for the first bit to get more time on the bike. The weather is sort of dictating that too. That is soon to change. It was in the lower 30’s most of the day and dropped to the upper 20’s for the end of the 2nd ride. It is supposed to be in the mid 60’s on Thursday and that is supposed to last for a while.

It is amazing how easy it is to get out of shape. I’m not terribly out of shape, just not close to race form. And the problem I have is that I usually use races to get into race form. It is going to be pretty unenjoyable using races to get into race shape when everyone else is already in race shape. I probably can’t race for at least another month or longer, so it might be May before that happens. I think that I have to get the muscles surrounding my arm into pretty good shape before I take any risk of falling on it. Since right now, I can’t even lift my arm from my side, that might be longer than I think, but I hope not.

I rode with a couple others both the rides. I ended up in the front nearly the whole way both times. I’m not sure what that was all about. Catherine rode with me the 2nd ride, along with Jack Funk. Catherine couldn’t exercise after collapsing her lung at Cross Nationals, so she is a little behind with me. Jack is a first year Elite and was multiple Junior National Champion. He has been racing with the Pro 1/2’s some this past year, so he’ll be fine this year. The last 15 miles of the 2nd ride, I pretty much ran out of juice. So, I only had about 2 1/2 hours in me. I ended up with 66 miles I think, which was a good number. (Strava stats on the right.) It wasn’t slow enough for my liking, but I couldn’t help myself. I have to admit, I was going pretty much stir crazy and riding was a wonderful thing. Now that it is nearly spring, things are looking up for sure.

My friend, Dennis Kruse drove down from Cable yesterday with his dog, Hawkeye. Bromont and Hawk are buddies and played like crazy last night. It has been full on winter up in Cable. Dennis has been skiing on 3 feet of groomed Birkie trail the last few weeks. He was ready to get on his bike, so is going to hang down here for a while. He should be okay, even though he hasn’t been riding hardly at all yet. I’m assuming the evening rides are going to be pretty big the next week after it warms up, so there should be a lot of hiding spots.

I’d like to accomplish some projects that I couldn’t do the last month and a half because of my shoulder. But, it still isn’t close to good enough to really do anything physical. I could hardly pump up my tires yesterday. So, I’ll just be doing the easy stuff. I need to get back on a road bike and hang my cross bike up for the season. The problem is that I only have one set of Di2 and can’t go back to normal/manual shifting. I’d better get on that project.

I’m hoping to get some kind of power meter too, finally. I can’t say that I’m going to use it for any specific training, but am pretty interested in comparing numbers to other guys I know. And comparing numbers to riding inside. It is amazing how hard it is riding inside too, but riding outside is much harder. Okay, I have PT this morning in a little while and then another twice a day deal.

This is riding behind Catherine on the 2nd ride.  There is still a bunch of snow on the ground, but that is soon to change.

This is riding behind Catherine on the 2nd ride. There is still a bunch of snow on the ground, but that is soon to change.

The high today was the normal low.  The normal high in Topeka right now is 60 degrees.

The high today was the normal low. The normal high in Topeka right now is 60 degrees.

I built this a long time ago when I was re-roofing my house.  It is made of copper and is standing seam.  I would like to do more things with copper when my arm gets better.

I built this a long time ago when I was re-roofing my house. It is made of copper and is standing seam. I would like to do more things with copper when my arm gets better.

I'm seriously considering getting some chickens soon.

I’m seriously considering getting some chickens soon.

I think I'm am going to get these.  They have big brown eggs and lay a bunch.  I'm not sure where the name came from.

I think I’m am going to get these. They have big brown eggs and lay a bunch. I’m not sure where the name came from.

Both the KU men and women are in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA's.  The women were seeded #12 and upset South Carolina to play another weekend.  Should be a good sport watching weekend for us Kansans.

Both the KU men and women are in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA’s. The women were seeded #12 and upset South Carolina to play another weekend. Should be a good sport watching weekend for us Kansans.

Stupid/Lazy/Dangerous Leadout Tactics

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I just saw the video below. It is of the Tampa NCC Criterium. I explained my issues with the way the “Pro” teams ride criteriums nowadays. Sometimes during a stage race, it is the whole race, but when it is a one day race, they tend to only do it the last 10 laps or so at most. If you skip forward to 7:30 minutes into the video, you’ll see the start of the stupidness and resulting crash. This tactic needs to be addressed by the USAC. It is going to hard to make a rule that addresses it in all circumstances, but it is total bullshit. I’ve experienced it many time now.

What the United Healthcare team is doing isn’t unique to them. All the teams, that have the ability, do it. They go to the front of the field at a designated time and start setting tempo. They set an intentional slow tempo and ride the inside of the course. Notice the way that when you get to the 7:30 mark, they are riding up the inside of the start finish stretch. Right before the get to the first corner, they swing across the front of the field that has fanned out because of the slow speed. The UHC guys chop the field and it causes chaos behind them, resulting in the riders behind crashing. I know some of you are going to say that they didn’t crash the field. Not directly, but when the field is fanning out and braking before each and every corner, then crashes result. And it keeps going like this lap after lap, corner after corner. They ride slow tempo at the front and cause the following riders into a complete interval session of braking and sprinting before and after each corner. This isn’t a super great example, but it good enough to understand the practice.

Finally, the last lap they wind it up like a real leadout and string the field out. By that time the field is toasted or have crashed. Notice in the final sprint that no one is riding on the inside fence. Hilton wins in the right lane of the finish stretch, the natural line of the race.

I’ve been complaining to officials about this stupidness for years. It is illegal for one thing. Chopping the field on purpose, multiple times a lap is against the rules. Doing it just once is illegal. But no one does anything about it. Criteriums now have more crashes than ever before. Lots of guys falling, mainly at once. The reason that no one calls anyone on this is because not many people in authority understand the issue.

I think that the only way to control or better yet, just down right stop this tactic is to limit the number of riders any team can put into a criterium at 6 max. Better yet, 5, but I don’t think that will fly. It would still happen every once in a while, but not nearly as often.

All you guys in Colorado Springs that read this blog maybe consider address this problem soon. It’s been going on for way too long. Long enough that there are many good bike racers that have never raced any other way. It is normal race tactics to them. It is just bad bike racing, nothing else. Lazy bad bike racing. Dangerous bike racing. It needs to stop.

Does Sponsorship work in Cycling?

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I have always wondered if sponsorship really worked in the sport of cycling. Sponsorship of athletes is really just a way of advertising. Does the money that companies put into the sport actually increase sales? It hard to say.

I’ve had the opportunity to represent a lot of different companies throughout the years. A pretty diverse group of things. Wheaties breakfast cereal, Mountain Dew soda, Isuzu automobiles, etc, plus all the cycling related stuff.

It is really hard, as an individual, to quantify the impact that one person makes on the sales of the products of the sponsors that are on a jersey. I can honestly say that I very much doubt I contributed to the sale of one can of Mountain Dew soda. But, it was, and is, important for Mountain Dew to be involved in the sports it feels represents their message, so at the time, it was nearly mandatory for them to be involved in the sport of MTB racing.

I remember when Motorola took over sponsorship of the 7-11 team. There was nearly a zero percent recognition of the name Motorola in Europe, but after the Tour de France the first year, something like 75% of Europeans knew that Motorola made cell phones. That is a pretty phenomenal penetration rate after only one year. It shows you how popular the Tour is over there.

I’ve driven a bunch of cars around the country that were part of a sponsorship package. I believe that this actually works. If only 1 out of 1000 people that came up to me and asked me about the Isuzu Trooper, or Subaru Outback I was driving bought one, then I sold lots and lots of these cars. Nearly everytime I got out of either of these vehicles at a grocery store, gas station, or where ever, a person would come over and ask me what I thought about the car. The key was that the cars I was driving were all decal-ed with race team logos, so people thought it was fine to come over and talk. It was one on one advertising and I think it works.

But, bike sponsorship is a different deal. Riding for Schwinn for example. I’m pretty positive that all the money I received from Schwinn personally, was way more money that the company could have made as a profit from sending me around the world racing my bicycle. But, now riding for Kent Eriksen bicycles, it is a much different situation. I talk to a lot of people, one on one about what I think the advantages are of riding a Eriksen titanium frame. It seems because the company is much smaller and unique, the sponsorship seems to work better. It’s hard to say.

I know one sponsorship deal I had that did work. When I first started racing MTB, I rode Scott shock forks for the first couple years. Rock Shox was a way more advanced product and much more popular nationally, than a Scott fork. I came back to Kansas and raced a big race down in Sedalia Kansas. Every other fork was a Scott fork. 10 X as many people were riding them than what I’d experienced racing throughout the country. This had to been because of me riding them. It seemed strange at the time, but in reality, that is what sponsorship is all about.

I’ve always wondered about the return of capitol for these sponsorship deals. Is there a chance that Coke sells $3,000,000 more of Coke products after they run a commercial during the Superbowl? They could sponsor the best funded domestic Pro Cycling Team or run a 30 second ad on the Superbowl. It doesn’t seem right.

Whatever the answer is for all this, sponsorship is how our sport survives. There wouldn’t be many races, televised especially, and the professional circuit would be non-existent without sponsorship. Hopefully, we can get our house back in order enough so that our sport is attractive again for sponsors to want to support us, whether it works or not.

This is an advertisement that Ford Motor Company produced in India.   Can you believe it, after all the trouble they have had over there with the abuse of women?  I very much doubt this could sell cars, but you never know. Heres a link to the article about the ad.

This is an advertisement that Ford Motor Company produced in India. Can you believe it, after all the trouble they have had over there with the abuse of women? I very much doubt this could sell cars, but you never know. Heres a link to the article about the ad.