Monthly Archives: May 2013

What’s Up Francisco Mancebo Racing in the US?

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I was skimming through the cycling media today and saw that there is a petition making the rounds in Spain asking for the blood bags from Operation Puerto to not be destroyed as ordered by the Spanish Court. If you’d like to sign the petition, click here. I was surprised when the judge ordered the “evidence” destroyed.

Anyway, the article went on to give an example of Francisco Mancebo, who had 20 bags of blood and plasma stored there. I was aware, obviously, that Mancebo was involved in Operation Puerto, I just had no idea that he had 20 bags of blood products available for his use. That number is incredible and obviously he had spent a lot of time getting it removed from his body, hoping to use it later.

I knew that Operation Puerto was real the first day it was announced, back in 2006, and there was a mass exodus of “guilty” riders from the Tour. I knew it was real because when asked, Mancebo just said he was retiring. I thought, why would a guy just up and announce his retirement at the start of the Tour de France, if he didn’t know that he was busted? Later, he went back and denied he said that. But, lots of riders have admitted that their blood was indeed being stored, many have served their “time outs”, plus the Spanish courts have convicted the doctors now. Seems like Valverde got gipped, having been suspended for 2 years for only 1 bag while Francisco had 20 and has gotten off scot-free so far. How do you even remove 20 bags of blood/liquid from a human? Crazy.

Anyway, I ask again, why is this guy racing domestically in the US. I know that technically he can race because he isn’t currently suspended, but why is there a team in the US that pays for him to race? I ripped on Gord Frazer a few years ago when Competitive Cyclist hired him. Now I have to ask while Kenda is taking over the check writing to this guy?

Kenda puts a lot of their money into good sponsorship here domestically. I have to applaud them that they sponsor the top end of the sport both on the road and MTB. But sponsoring Fransico Mancebo does nothing but screw up the Professional domestic profession scene. One guy like him can and does change each and every race he attends.

I think Frankie Andreu is a great guy. He came out on his own, for no reason other than he was sick of lying. He did it personally and suffered the consequences. He inherited Manceno, didn’t hire him. A uncomfortable situation for sure. But, back in January, when he was asked about directing Mancebo, he said this –

“I know what Mancebo’s done in the US in terms of racing results but that’s because that’s where I’ve been directing. He’s been strong here, sometimes riding liking Superman, but other times he’s been vulnerable. He’s been up and down. The other thing I know was that he was fourth in the Tour de France [2004]. I don’t remember him from when I was racing and the first I really became aware of him was when he got fourth in the Tour. I paid more attention though since he’s been in the US.

“I know that there’s the association of his name with the Puerto documents but I don’t know enough about how direct that link is or when his name was mentioned in the documents. I don’t know. It’s not like I’ve researched the guy. He’s been with On The Rivet for three years and now he’s part of the one squad that we’re bringing together.”

Well Frankie, the graph below shows you how direct that link is, so maybe you should reconsider not being concerned about directing him?

Mancebo has won the NRC series and tons of single and stage races the last few years here in the states. Why would we, as a cycling community, want a guy like this screwing up our events. He just won the final stage of Tour of Gila last Sunday.

Obviously, Rock Racing was a joke, hiring nearly every rider they could find that used drugs to race bikes. This is where Franceso got his foot in the door to US racing. Mancebo even brought his brother-in-arms, Oscar Sevilla over to play with him for a bit, but Oscar got popped again and had to sit out for 6 months.

If our cycling community, the United States, want a clean and level playing field, then we can’t allow our sponsors to be paying riders such as Francisco to race here. Even Blanco, a Pro Tour team, isn’t racing Luis León Sánchez until he clears up his ties with the Puerto ordeal. But, we have sponsors here in the US that readily hire Mancebo, because of what? He admits, he would like to be racing in Europe, but can’t get a job. He finished 2nd last month at at UCI race in Spain. I wish he would just stay there. And he would if our teams here refused to allow him to race.

Here's a graph from Operation Puerto and the number of blood bags attached to each athlete.

Here’s a graph from Operation Puerto and the number of blood bags attached to each athlete.

Here's a picture of Francisco and Oscar making a joke of the Tour of Utah back in 2009.

Here’s a picture of Francisco and Oscar making a joke of the Tour of Utah back in 2009.

The Racing is No Better in Europe than the US

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I was watching the Giro on the internet yesterday and couldn’t believe that 3 or 4 teams put all their riders on the front with 20 km to go, riding in the wind in “team formation”. I suppose this was supposed to make it easier for their team GC leaders ride safely to the 3 km point, but in reality, the whole process just makes it more dangerous for the whole peloton. But, that isn’t the point here. I was mildly perplexed, to say the least, when David Harmon, I believe, the commentator along with Sean Kelly, said something like, “The way these guys recover nowadays, this is a walk in the park for them and they won’t even feel it tomorrow.” That wasn’t exactly it, but close.

I know these guys have to say something to keep the audience entertained, but this was a statement that might be accurate or not, I don’t know, but there is no reason that the current generation of cyclists should be able to recover any quicker than riders 10 or 20 years ago. If anything, they should be recovering worse since the implementation of the no needles policy, making IV’s illegal. It seemed weird having experienced bike race observers saying what seemed to be stupid statements, but statement made because of watching the sport the last 20 years.

Let me give you a history of comparing the racing in the US to Europe. Back in the 80’s, when I was getting me feet wet internationally, cycling was a very small sport in the United States. It was small, but growing in leaps and bounds. And it was a very immature sport too, with the sport being established and competed in Europe for the better part of the century. When I turned senior and rode on the National team, I was nothing special. I was a good bike racer, kind of skinny, but could climb and sprint okay. When I first went to Europe on the national team, I went to Southern France and Italy with what was considered the “B” team. The “A” guys went with Eddie B. to race in France mainly. Anyway, the first race I went to was the Tour of Vaucluse. It was in Southern France and one stage climbed Mt Ventoux.

Most of the riders on the team were my age, 20 or 21 and very green. Bernard Thévenet and Robert Millar were there on the Peugeot Professional Team. Bernard Thévenet had won two Tour de Frances. Laurent Fignon and many other Tour stage winners were riding on their respective National Teams. The field was good. But, we were good too. We didn’t win any races, but I finished in the top 10 a couple days.

We all did. The up and coming Americans could and did hold their own with the best European racers and the sport had just started. My team mate Andy Hampsten, won a stage in the Giro, the first time he rode in a Grand Tour. He finished 4th in the Tour de France, the first time he competed in it, with Greg Lemond winning. Americans on the National team through the 80’s won many prestigious amateur races. I was on the American team with Roy Knickman and Jeff Pierce who won the Tour of Berlin. I was on the US Team with Alexi Grewal, Andy, Chris Carmichael, when Matt Eaton won the British Milk Race, which was arguably the most prestigious amateur stage race in the world at the time. Later on when the best Europeans came to the US to race in the Coor’s Classic, the Americans had no problems winning stages and competing on the highest level. I finished 2nd overall in the Tour of the Americas, when many of the best European in the world came. We were a very small cycling country and were having stellar results.

And the sport was very small, barely crawling in infant terms. Then, all of a sudden, somewhere in the early to mid 90’s that all changed. All of a sudden the speeds in Europe got stupid fast. It was like I was a junior and racing completely over my head. Andy went from winning The Tour of Switzerland, Romandie, the Giro, to hardly being able to be pack filler anymore. I witnessed it first hand. It was a joke. So, I switched to MTB racing.

And the same thing happened in MTB racing, but it was delayed by a couple years. When the Americans first went to Europe, we ruled MTB racing. John Tomac and Ned would duke it out for 1st place and sometimes the majority of riders in the top 10 would be from the United States. Then it got stupid. Abunch of whole teams, like the Giant Team, Sun Chippie from France, and others, all of a sudden, every rider on these team could crush the best Americans. Plus, many Canadians were doing the same thing. Very quickly we became non-competitive internationally.

So, flash forward through the years. Obviously, after the admissions of doping of nearly ever American road rider that has had a result in the past 10 years, we as a country, haven’t been able to compete on any level on the road. And our sport is way more mature. There are 3 times as many licensed bicycle racers in the United States now than there were in the late 80’s. 5 times more than the early 80’s. We should have more riders that are good on the international scene than we did in the 80’s, because we have a much bigger pool of athletes to choose from, and, if anything, the sport is smaller in most of Europe.

But, no. The US is a farm team training facility for the “real” races over in Europe. There is no reason that we shouldn’t have the best criterium riders in the world. We race more criteriums than every other country on the planet combined. But, these guys show up from Australia, South American, just about anywhere and make us, once again, look like children.

Let me tell you, there is no reason that the races over here should be any different than the races in Europe. If anything, we should be faster. I’m sick of people saying that the reason the racing in Europe is so much more “advanced” than here is because they are all that much better. It wasn’t the case in the 80’s and early 90’s, but as our sport got more developed, we fell further and further behind. All of a sudden, we’re barely AAA compared to European bike racing.

We have more bike races than ever before. And more professional teams traveling extensively. USAC has a much more developed program that sends our best riders over to Europe for extended periods. And we suck. Any explanations for this?

Doping in the sport is the only explanation. When the racing here is on par, once again, with the racing in Europe, then I’ll be satisfied that the problem has cleared, but until then, let’s not all be making all these excuses and reasons for the Americans not to be riding on par with their European counterparts. Nearly all of them are just not true.

Teams can ride at the front for day after day, for nearly  three weeks, because they recover so quickly nowadays?  Bullshit.

Teams can ride at the front for day after day, for nearly three weeks, because they recover so quickly nowadays? Bullshit.

I Always Pull Up the Hill

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The is a ton of bike racing going on this weekend. Most everyone that I ride with in Topeka drove over to St. Louis for the Tour de Grove. It’s on the NCC calender. There is also a long gravel road ride from a small town out in the flinthills, Eskridge. It is a pre-ride for the Dirty Kansa 200. But, I’m just in Topeka, trying to catch up on everything I need to, miles included.

I was riding out east of town the last couple days and was thinking about a race I did when I was 16, a first year junior. I was riding the Cat.1,2,3 race. Marc Thompson, who was on the Olympic Team for Montreal, was there. He was from Kansas City. Anyway, it was going to be the longest race I’d ever done, 80 miles. I’d been training with my friend Ed Bauman, every night after working at the bike shop. Our training pretty much consisted of riding to Auburn, Kansas, from Topeka and back, which is 15 miles. We rode there and back, at night, sans lights, as hard as we could go.

So, the race started out and Marc instantly shelled everyone. I guess he pretty much rode a 80 mile individual time trial. Eventually, I was away with a super strong Cat. 3 rider. I have his name on the tip of my tongue, hopefully I’m remember it before I’m done with this. He was one of those guys that could rip your legs off, but was new to the sport, so didn’t really know how to allocate his energy, as if I did.

So, we were doing a two man time trial, minutes behind Marc. I was getting gassed trying to do even pulls with the guy, mainly because I wasn’t as good as him. I probably weighed 119 lbs. back then, nearly my same height as now, which is 6′ 1”. I was seriously lacking power. Anyway, I realized after just a few pulls that I needed to pull where I had the ability. I finally ended up starting to pull up most of the hills. Eventually, we set into the pulling rotation of, I’d pull up all the hills and he would pull downhill and on the short flats.

This was working great for me. I’d climb out of my seat up the hills and then coast downhill and rest of the flats. It worked out great, I ended up outsprinting the guy for 2nd.

I didn’t think about it consciously at the time, but it is really a good tactic. The benefits of drafting is much less climbing, since the speed is so much slower. The guy pulling up hill, is going to be on the front a longer time, but both riders are pretty much putting out the same amount of energy. Gravity is the mainly the resistance. Then, downhill and on the flats, the 2nd rider need to be pedaling, while I, the “climber”, can either not pedal at all, or on the flats, use much less energy because of the effects of drafting.

I’ve done this every time I get into a break. But, now it is not only for saving energy. Many times when I’m in a break, it seems like we’re climbing too slow. I think for a break to be successful, each rider needs to be adding energy where the can contribute the most. I tend to climb better and sort of suck going downhill. I’m not sure why that is, but it is a fact.

I got into a break in Superweek 6 or 7 years ago. I was with Brian Jensen, my longtime team mate, but he was riding for Jelly Belly back then. Also, Brad Huff, who is now riding for Jelly Belly, but was riding for TIAA-CREF, which turned into Slipstream, which is the Garmin Pro Team now. A young Pro from Toshiba was sitting on and had taken himself out of the mix. This race was at Whitnall Park, which is a 2 mile-ish circuit race, with two climbs. Eventually we got into a rotation of where I would pull the two climbs, Brian would pull the descents and Brad would pull on the flats. Brian was winning Superweek overall and was ripping our legs off.

This wasn’t a good course for Brad and he pretty much conceded with an hour to go, but he kept pulling hard. Brad came up to me after about 15 minutes and told me to tell Brian to take it easy on the descents. He was coming by Brad so fast that he was having a hard time getting back on. I went up to Brian and told him to pull slower and longer. There are not many situations where I want a guy in a break to pull slower downhill, but this was one. I agreed with Brad completely. The few times I tried to pull the downhills, I was going 2 or 3 mph slower than Brian, and the climbs were slower too. The three of us had figured out the right rotation to go the fastest.

That is what is special about bike racing. I ended up winning the race, Brian 2nd and Brad 3rd. Brad went on to win the next day at Brewer’s Hill, Brian had won in Alpine Valley the day before and won overall I believe. Here is a link to the post I did after the race. (I can’t believe I’ve been doing this that long.)

So, I just the moral of the story is it is important to try to maximize your abilities in a break. Each combination of riders can be rearranged different ways and the break will be more or less efficient because of the order. It is important to try to organize the break where it is going the fastest, but also benefits your abilities. It is sort of complicated, but when it works, it is beautiful.

Whitnall Park back in 2006.

Whitnall Park back in 2006.

Mother’s Day Photo

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I’ve been feeling pretty bad the last few days. On top of my shoulder regressing, it seems like I’ve gotten into the sometimes in the Spring funk. I used to not be able to recognize the deal, but I can now pretty easily. It’s not that I’m just riding beyond poorly, I have weird systems.

One is my left leg doesn’t work very well. Up by the hip flexor and also the hamstring. The 2nd is that I get a side ache on my right side, right under the ribs. And of course, I’m super run down. I did an ultrasound a few years ago on my side, but it didn’t show anything. Now I just think it is symptoms of bad allergies. I’ve been taking over the counter allergy medicine for a while now, but maybe I need to do something more, I don’t know.

I’m thinking of fasting for a few days. 2 or 3. I actually might just start today, since I haven’t eaten anything yet. I was just reading up on exercising while fasting. From what I read, it seems like that it should be okay. I’m just reaching for a method to get myself out of this allergy funk and I do think that cleansing you body by lack of food make sense intellectually. It wouldn’t be bad to lose a couple pounds either. We’ll see how that goes.

Yesterday I went out and rode with a small group. There were just 4 of us. It was super windy, well not super windy, but pretty windy, 30+mph. I knew by the makeup of the group that I was going to have to pull the whole time. I was hoping to get in 3 to 4 hours, but realized early on that wasn’t going to happen.

It is funny getting used to this power meter reading on my Garmin now. I hear all the different opinions about how coaching, wattage, plus Strava, screws up a training ride. My opinion, as of now, it’s just another measurement to use. It is kind of weird when all of a sudden someone goes to the front and starts hammering hard, trying to up their average wattage or knowing there is a Strava segment.

The first time I heard anything at all about Strava was at the Boulevard Road Race, east of San Diego last February. A bunch of college kids were pouring out of a A frame cabin and they were talking about if they wanted to beat some Strava segment, it was going to take a group effort, probably a couple guys on TT bikes. I was thinking how stupid that was. There are only a few Strava segments around Topeka. The times for most of them around here are always going to be dictated by the wind. Fast segments mean big tailwind. I did that yesterday riding up a hill West of town. I averaged close to 21mph up a mile hill. And I was riding pitifully the whole day. I’m not sure why I did it. Just because I could I guess.

I have a screen on my Garmin that just is speed and distance. I’ve been leaving that as my main screen for the last week. I hate ruining my ride messing around with numbers. The numbers are for later or structured training, which I hopefully won’t be doing anytime soon.

Yesterday, I was sitting in my kitchen and the next door neighbor came by. She had a electric chainsaw on a pole and was asking me about some oil it used. I told it she needed some bar oil, which I had, but that the chain needed to be tightened. So, I proceeded to tighten the chain. Her daughter was there. Here daughter spent the winter down in Mexico and sort of lives a transient lifestyle. She has a trailer she pulls behind a SUV and just moves around. Anyway, she was asking me how my winter was and I told her about my shoulder. She asked me if I ever did any reflexology for injuries. I told her no. Flash forward a few minutes and I’m sitting on my porch, with my socks and shoes off, getting reflexology treatment for my shoulder. It seemed strange, but I really enjoyed it.

Anyway, I told them that I wanted to take a picture of them and they said sure. So, since my mother isn’t around, and today is Mother’s Day, here is a photo of my neighbor, Mrs. Betty Warkentine and her daughter, Julie. I love the way she is holding the chainsaw on the pole. Sort of reminds me of a modern day version of the famous painting, American Gothic, by Grant Wood.

IMG_9925

American Gothic, by Grant Wood.

American Gothic, by Grant Wood.

Crawdad Kermesse

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If you happened to notice, as if it isn’t obvious,there is a big banner across the top today for the Crawdad Kermesse. It’s a circuit race down in Harrison, Arkansas, south of Branson, MO. It is super pretty country. The town is a gem in the middle of the Ozarks. Last year was the first time they held the event. It was the first race I did after crashing at Joe Marin and separating my other shoulder. I’m sort of thinking about trying to make it my first race back from this shoulder surgery. The problem, for me, is that the course is too good. It is a long circuit that starts in town in Harrison, by the Crawdad Festival, and then immediately heads up a kilometer climb. It is pretty challenging. I love courses like this, but will suffer like a dog this year. I guess you have to pay your dues. The banner is a clickable link to the website, so feel free. It is a really good time.

On the local front, I am on day two of not eating. So something like 36 hours or so. Yesterday wasn’t bad really. I never really got an major hunger pains. I did think about food some, but didn’t obsess. It is funny how strange a day is when you don’t go through the routine of feeding yourself at least 3 times. It’s kind of a drag really. I’m not going to eat today again and then see how it is after that. I only rode 26 miles yesterday, super easy. Going to do about the same today. I’ve been drinking San Pellegrino bubbly water with lemon. I’m peeing a ton, but that’s about it.

The Giro has been pretty good this year. Wiggins sure lost his shit after he fell descending a couple days ago. He is lucky not to be another minute or two behind the way he was crawling down the wet descents. It was super slick though. I saw a spectator slide out trying to help pick up a rider that had fallen in front of him.

I’m glad I’m not racing the Tour of California. It’s supposed to be 106 today there. And it was nearly that hot yesterday. Jens Voight said that it shouldn’t be an excuse for him because he’d been there a few days and was used to it. Wow Jens, you are a mutant. Talking about Jens, I pretty much hated the statement he made in the Tour of California press conference asking, “Why should his generation be punished for things people my age have done before?” statement of “I’d like to hope that the fans can move past what’s happened in that era of cycling; I think it’s a long time ago now. I think the sport of cycling has taken its hits, but hopefully they don’t lose faith in us now.” I didn’t like that one much either, because as I’ve written here before, these guys perception of a “long time ago” and different generation is completely out of wack. But, they all have a sound bites for these PR things and are sticking with the script.

It has been pretty great weather here in Kansas, only in the 60’s the last few days. Kind of chilly really. Tomorrow it is going to maybe be a record high of 92. I’m glad that Jens clued me in on the quick acclamation to heat deal, so I should be used to it in a day or two. I should put a couple extra bottles of San Pellegrino in the fridge just in case.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner the last day.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner the last day.

ToC, Blood, then Food

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How about that Tour of California finish yesterday? Man, did those guys look beat. That last hill must of been unreal. Guys were losing 10 minutes in 3 miles. It had to of been the heat. It was somewhere well into the 100’s. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here is a link.

Yesterday, I got a bunch of stuff done. Worked on a car Bill’s car, which got smashed from behind and I’m getting for Michael Fatka. It is a 1999 Subaru Outback with 80K. Pretty reliable car. I put new brakes on it all around. The headlights were super foggy, plastic and I got one of those 3M buffer kits from the auto parts store. It worked crazy good. I’ll post some photos.

I’m in a rush now. I have physical therapy on my shoulder at 9 am. That is way too early for me. I told Burt, my PT guy, that it used to be that I was coming in for pretty much a shoulder and neck massage and now it is for a weight lifting session. Pitiful weight lifting, but still weight lifting. I liked the massage better.

Right after, I’m driving to Lawrence and getting a blood test. I figure since I haven’t eaten in two days, that would be interesting. I go to EconoLabs.com and it seems pretty cheap. I’m doing a CBC, iron, and cholesterol. If you have a LabCorp near you, the EnonoLabs work.

Then I’m eating. It has been 60 hours. I got a lot of flak on the comments yesterday about fasting for a couple days. I wasn’t doing it for any specific reason, just thought it might be interesting. Kind of like when Forest Gump decided to go run, for no “particular reason”. It is kind of fun trying new things out, switching it up a little. I am mildly surprised how easy it has been. No real hungry pains. The main issue is just not having the routine of eating and snacking, of course. It couldn’t hurt anything because I’m already in a Spring funk that seems to last into early Summer. I am going to go to an allergy doctor and address it though. I figure since I’ve obviously met my health insurance deductible, I might as well make use of it and catch up on some health issues I’ve been avoiding.

I’m going to eat at the First Watch. It is a chain, I believe. There is one in Lawrence. Pretty good breakfast selection. I’m not going back into eating slowly. Just gonna start eating, like when Forest decided to stop running.

It’s going to be 92 today here. Pretty warm for May, a record if it materializes. Nothing like yesterday in California, but hot enough. Okay, got to go.

Headlight before.

Headlight before.

Headlight after.

Headlight after.

New brakes.  I don't know why I keep posting photos of brake jobs.  I think it is because just looks so nice compared to before.

New brakes. I don’t know why I keep posting photos of brake jobs. I think it is because just looks so nice compared to before.

Cycling Socks

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I was watching the Tour of California on the Internet yesterday and Paul Sherwin said something about Philip Gilbert dropping back and changing his socks during the race. I didn’t see it, but that seemed super strange to me. I’ve never even though about doing something like that. Paul said something about maybe Philp was putting on some special “ice socks” or something. I’ve never heard of ice socks. Socks with pockets for ice. I couldn’t imagine wanting to cool my body enough to ride with wet feet. Then Paul said something like, “Maybe as the reining world champion, he just wants to look good?” Right Paul, that is it.

Anyway, I was looking through my sock draw yesterday, looking for some light socks to wear at 94 degrees (not with slots of ice) and found the original pair of DeFeet socks that I got from Jacque Boyer. I believe he gave them to me at Sea Otter, somewhere in the 90’s. I have worn this very pair of socks, 100’s of times and they still don’t have a hole in the toes. I don’t quite understand that. Either, DeFeet made the socks much higher quality, or…. well, I don’t have another explanation.

Cycling socks are so interesting to a racing cyclist. They are an easy way for a “real racer” to identify a novice. Over the years, it is strange how the style or trends have changed.

Back when I first went to Europe, back in the 80’s, all the Pros and Western Europeans worn wool socks from Italy. I only had a couple pairs. I mainly worn super thin nylon socks I got at K Mart, which cost about 1/10 the price. It was sort of a status symbol by then having a bunch of Italian wool socks, at least to a poor kid like me. I remember going up to LaCrosse, Wis., to stay with Mark Frise before the Tour de l’Abitibi, a prestigious junior stage race. We were getting dressed to ride the first day and Mark opened a draw that was just stuffed with Italian wool socks. It dumb struck me. I was so jealous. Mark went on to be the first American to win the race.

When all the Pros were wearing short wool socks, the Russians would be wearing these mid calf socks made in Russia, I guess. It looked so weird. All the Eastern Europeans wore the same mid calf socks. We could never understand why they couldn’t get with the program and dress stylish.

When I was riding for Levis, we hired Jiri Manus, newly to the US, via Czechoslovakia, to help coach our team. Jiri had a stellar resume. He was on the podium in the Olympics and World Championships. He won the British Milk Race and the Peace Race, the two best amateur races in the world. But, he hadn’t westernized enough for our team. Roy (Knickman), kept trying to help Jiri catch up with modern ways. Jiri would pour a bunch of oil into a pan and fry bacon in the morning. Then he would crack a few eggs into the pool of grease and dump it all over toast. We, as cyclists, were avoiding most fat completely. Plus, Jiri would only wear, mid calf, white socks. That was the deal breaker. Jiri was let go. He went on to be the National Coaching Director for USAC for the next 20 years, so it was probably for the best.

When I started racing MTB, every good rider wore road cycling socks. All good riders except Dave Wiens. Dave would wear hightop black socks. Man, did it seem so out of place at the time. He took a lot of flak over the years, but he was the “inventor” of mid calf black socks for MTB racing.

Socks were short, now mid calf. It is sort of like watching the shorts that basketball players wear. Watching Magic Johnson and Co. back in the day, it seems that they are wearing hot pants compared to the knee length shorts the current generation likes.

DeFeet was the company that changed the cycling sock industry. Socks with logos. Man, was that a game changer. Socks that matched the kits. It was nearly as big a change for cycling as t-shirts with words on them were, in the 70’s, for the general public. We never looked back after that. Soon, there were a lot of copy cat companies of DeFeet, but they were the original custom sock people. Shane Cooper is the founder of DeFeet. He is a eclectic guy. His business card says something like chief sockologist on it. Pretty great title. Greg Demgen, a team mate of mine forever, worked with Shane at DeFeet for a long while. I’m sure that there were plenty of young riders jealous of my collection of socks at that time.

My original pair of DeFeet socks from Boyer.

My original pair of DeFeet socks from Boyer.

Toes of kevlar or something.

Toes of kevlar or something.

This is my sock drawer. I’d bet there are way over 100 pair in there. It’s nearly impossible to close.

Soukho winning the Olympic Games in 1980 with his high socks of the times.

Soukho winning the Olympic Games in 1980,with his high socks of the time.

Dave is still at it, with his tread setting, black socks.

Dave is still at it, with his trend setting, black socks.