Monthly Archives: October 2013

Remorseful Ryder Hesjedal

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .
Share

Michael Rasmussen ratted out Ryder Hesjedal. Then today Ryder says that he “voluntarily” went to USADA and kneeled in front of them, made his confession and was sent off to do 100 Hail Marys. He paid the price of self hatred and regret, because the statute of limitations seems to have expired and now he is in the clear.

It isn’t close to a surprise to me. Before Ryder raced on the road, he was super, I mean really super charged, racing off-road. His attitude at the time wasn’t of any sort of remorse or regret. He was very cocky and showed no signs of being humble. There were a bunch more Canadian MTB riders, other than Ryder, Sheppard and Seamaus, that were juiced. Velonews did an article back then about why the Canadians were doing so much better than the Americans on an international level. All the guys from BC were interviewed and their consensus was because that they were all good friends, had a Russian coach and drank the same water or something. It was so insulting at the time that I nearly wrote a letter to the editor of Velonews and just told them what was really going on.

I still need to write a post on my visit to Denver before the Tour to “witness” how thorough the Garmin Team is making sure that their riders are clean. The invite was because I’d aggravated Jonathan Vaughters so much that he wanted to present his side in person, I guess.

When Jonathan was throwing stones back at me through forums, etc. he challenged me after I implied that Ryder was “dirty” just because he rode for the Postal Service for a season. He and I both knew that Ryder took drugs to race bikes. It was so obvious.

Now I’m sort of pissed off about the whole thing. According to the article linked above, Jonathan knew all about Ryder’s drug usage and confession when he was giving me shit publicly for calling Ryder out. Pretty prick-like thing to do.

This isn’t even taking into account of all the sponsorship money these great Canadian riders took from the pitiful Americans. The American Professional MTB sponsorship completely vaporized just about the same time as the Canadian, and Europeans too, were killing everyone. There were dozens of Americans racing the international World Cup Cross Country circuit, the within a year, there were virtually none. Looking back, it seems so unfair.

I wonder if Ryder is giving back his World Jerseys and medals from racing MTB bikes juiced? I am also wondering why Ryder decided to race clean. Maybe he can write a book about it and we can all rush out and get it. No matter the reason, I’m so glad that he came to his senses, all on his own, quit using PED’s and then went on to win the Giro clean. It must be so rewarding personally for him.

How about this podium from back in the day?  What a joke.  I'd pretty much quit doing World Cups by this time.

How about this podium from back in the day? What a joke. I’d pretty much quit doing World Cups by this time.

Ryder's Grand Tour results.  Pretty consistent huh?

Ryder’s Grand Tour results. Pretty consistent huh?

Shimano’s New Disc Road Brakes

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .
Share

I saw this article at Cyclingnews.com about Shimano’s new road specific disc brakes. I kind of hate the whole idea of it, switching all my wheels to disc. I didn’t do it for my cross bikes yet and guess I’ll wait to see if it is going to catch on before I think about committing.

I haven’t ridden them yet personally. The review was good. I don’t think that the braking on road discs can be as good as rim braking on aluminum rims. It has to be better than braking on carbon rims.

Shimano usually does it right the first time when they delve into a new product. Way righter that nearly all other companies. I’m sure it will be the same with these brakes.

I can’t applaud them for their choice for celebrity guess speaker. None other than the one of the worst descenders/bike handlers in he upper echelon of the pro field, Andy Schleck. Here’s what Andy had to say about the new brakes

Road racer Andy Schleck, guest of honour at Shimano’s press camp, had some positive things to say regarding the disc vs rim debate.

Plenty of people have claimed that pros don’t need or want them. But Andy had a different take: “If you’re descending in the wet, especially on lightweight carbon rims then there is often water on the rim braking surface. That means you need to brake early, to give time to clear that water. In turn, that often means you are dragging the brake into corners with no guarantee of when braking is going to happen.

“On a long descent in hot conditions, they way a brake feels at the top is different to how it feels at the bottom once the rim has become hot. Mostly this results in a ‘grabby’, sudden brake feel.”

Wow Andy, the rim gets wet when you’re descending in the rain. And in hot conditions, I very much doubt the rim is any hotter at the bottom of the descent than the top other than the energy you’ve put into it by trying to slow down.

Maybe Shimano brought him in because they think that he has the most to gain from the products? But, I wouldn’t be using him as an authority on how to use your brakes properly descending. Or maybe Shimano was brillant, because Andy uses his brakes more than just about anyone else out there.

Here's Andy in perfect Andy form.  Check out his head position.  And how it is different than Cunego's.  Plus, he has a ton of front brake on when his wheel is already committed to the corner.  Man, no wonder he can't descend worth a shit.

Here’s Andy in perfect Andy form. Check out his head position. And how it is different than Cunego’s. Plus, he has a ton of front brake on when his wheel is already committed to the corner. Man, no wonder he can’t descend worth a shit.

Fall Changes

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .
Share

It starts slowing down around Topeka ride-wise right about this time of the year. The evening rides sort of become nonexistent because even with daylight saving time, there isn’t enough time to get in an even sort of good ride. Everyone still meets a couple of times a week, once for cross practice and the other for a “new” gravel night-time ride from the local bike shop. It leaves at 6 pm and goes a couple of hours.

For some reason, 6 pm at this time of the year seems way later than 6 pm during the summer. It has to be a light deal, but whatever the reason is, I sort of hate waiting around until dark to ride.

That is until I ride in the dark, then it’s a completely different story. I like riding at night. I like the lack of vision and amplified hearing. I like the perception of accelerated speed. I like just about everything about it other than getting ready and walking out the door. I’m going to try to make more of the Monday, gravel, night rides this year. I always enjoy them once I start.

Fall in Kansas is pretty great usually. It is super late this year. Normally the majority of leaves are on the ground by Halloween. This year, the Oak trees in my front yard are still green. I guess it hasn’t gotten cold enough to get everything moving.

At Berryman on Saturday, the leaves just started dropping like crazy about 1/2 way through the race. Sometimes it was like riding in just a snow of leaves. I loved it. It distracted me from all the physical problems I was having.

Okay, it’s raining today. A wet fall, cold day. I stayed up way too late last night, past 2 am, so I’m underslept. It’s not a bad day to try to catch up a little on that if I get a chance.

Here are a few misc. photos from the last couple days.

The Kansas River has been pretty low the whole year, but still looks picturesque.

The Kansas River has been pretty low the whole year, but still looks picturesque.

I like it when leaves fall into ponds.  It seems like they are suspended in place and it changes the color of the water.

I like it when leaves fall into ponds. It seems like they are supended in place and it changes the color of the water.

The Maple trees are looking good this year.

The Maple trees are looking good this year.

This is my high school, Topeka High.  It is a very impressive building.

This is my high school, Topeka High. It is a very impressive building.

They just finished putting a new copper dome on the Capitol.  The last one was leaking, I guess.  It will eventually turn green, but maybe not for decades.

They just finished putting a new copper dome on the Capitol. The last one was leaking, I guess. It will evenutally turn green, but maybe not for decades.

I saw this decaying bird house in an alley.  It seemed wrong to let it deteriorate like this.

I saw this decaying bird house in an alley. It seemed wrong to let it deteriorate like this.

It is just dusk when we were heading out-of-town on the Landon Trail last night.

It is just dusk when we were heading out of town on the Landon Trail last night.

The shadows for lights are cool too.

The shadows for lights are cool too.

I resealed my tires yesterday and when I went to get on my bike last night, the rear was leaking sealant in dozens of places.  I've never seen that before.  I can't believe that there are that many cuts in the tire, but there is no other explanation.

I resealed my tires yesterday and when I went to get on my bike last night, the rear was leaking sealant in dozens of places. I’ve never seen that before. I can’t believe that there are that many cuts in the tire, but there is no other explanation.

Fall is oatmeal time.  I made way too much yesterday.  I've been cutting up apples and mixing it with raisins recently.

Fall is oatmeal time. I made way too much yesterday. I’ve been cutting up apples and mixing it with raisins recently.

The Walberg's house is officially on the market, so if you're looking to move to Topeka, there is a place available.

The Walberg’s house is officially on the market, so if you’re looking to move to Topeka, there is a place available.

Berryman Trail Epic MTB Classic

This entry was posted in Racing on by .
Share

Okay, I could go into a long post about how many “issues” I had Saturday at the Berry Trail Epic. Things like flat tires, cramping, losing vision, getting lost, etc. But, the real reason I didn’t win the race was because I wasn’t in good enough shape to compete at the level needed to overcome all the things that can, and do, happen when you’re racing, out in the woods, for over 4 hours.

I had a positive attitude going into the race, but I knew that I wasn’t really in race shape. I didn’t really recognize that until maybe an hour to go, so after racing for 3 1/2 hours. I kept having problems, but kept a pretty good mentality, hoping that I was going to come around eventually.

Actually, I didn’t really need to come around at the start. I was good for maybe the first 30 minutes or so. Well, not good, but not bad. The start of the race is up a pretty steep gravel climb. I felt well within myself, but after riding singletrack for 15 minutes or so, my lungs started burning, like I’d started way too hard in a ‘cross race, without warming up properly.

My teammate, Brian Jensen, was doing his 2nd MTB race this year, maybe of his life. (He was 12th in Leadville.) He did a little micro attack a couple hundred meters up the climb and just rode away. Garet Steinmetz, who finished 2nd last year, was in form and jumped to chase Brian. I just sat on Garet and Garet knew it. He made a couple big surges, but realized it was a lost cause, so he ended up riding pretty steady up to the turn into the singletrack 3 miles in. Brian won the $100 prime, entering the singletrack in the lead.

I jumped Garet for the trail and we caught Brian just a few hundred meters in. That was pretty much it. I led for a few minutes, but Garet came by me on the first steep, loose climb a couple miles in. I rode behind Garet for the next little bit, but lost traction on the 3rd or 4th climb and he lost me.

I was still optimistic at this point. I was going better than last year, so I figured it would be fine. Then, things started happening. I’m not going to go into all of it, but I ended up stopping a lot. But, like I said above, if I would have been in just okay form, I could have overcome these obstacles.

I was going steadily downhill and didn’t quite realize it until nearly the end. I rode the last 4 hours of the race alone, somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes behind Garet, depending where on the course you timed it.

I have to admit that I do enjoy the amount of concentration it takes to race MTB bikes fast on a technical course. The Berryman Trail is so technical that if you let your guard down, even for an instant, you’ll end up seeing sharp, unfriendly rocks, up close and personal. This trail is almost 100% rock, some loose, some not. That is the reason for so many flats. And it’s 56 miles long.

Like I said above, Garet Steinmetz was going good. He rode probably 15 minutes faster than he did last year. I rode 3 minutes faster and last year the trail was covered with 4-6 inches of leaves. I was 15 minutes slower than two years ago. Maybe that isn’t so bad considering how pitiful my season has been? Garet deserved to win. He trained pretty hard for the event and it paid off for him.

I wasn’t too bad technically. I made an effort to ride cleanly and tried to rest on all the tricky sections where speed can get you into trouble. I was having a vision issue in one eye the last couple hours. It is really weird, because last year, my right eye got all cloudy about 20 minutes into the race and it stayed that way for hours after. I went to an eye doctor on the Monday after and he said what I thought happened, that I’d gotten some leg dope in my eye and it irritated it. I’ve had no issues since, until Saturday again. It wasn’t nearly as bad as last year, but it was enough to make focusing hard. Bad vision and MTB racing on rocky singletrack aren’t complimentary. I made due pretty well.

Brian rode great. He burped or cut his tire right after Garet and I passed him, stopped to put some air into it and was passed by 40 guys. He then had to make his way back through the hordes. He ended up finishing 3rd less than 10 minutes behind me. Pretty amazing considering that he’s never raced in terrain like this. Drew Edsall was ahead of him until close to the end, but flatted towards the end and Brian passed him. But, that is just part of the deal.

I got lost towards the end of the race. I stopped, went back and still didn’t know where I was. I ended up riding a singletrack that was parallel to the road I was supposed to be on, the singletrack we went out on. I knew I was off-course, I rode pretty slow back to the finish, not exactly knowing if guys had passed me or not. I told the guys at the finish that someone had removed the signs and that I rode off-course. It turns out that the majority of guys behind me in the top 10, rode the singletrack back. Scott, the race director, hurried back up the course and remarked it. No one seemed too concerned about it, which was nice. A few guys 6-10th, got their places mixed up, but everyone was good with it I guess.

Riding slow back in is an exaggeration. When I got back down to the Bass Resort, the start area, probably only 3/4 miles from the finish, I fell apart. I felt a little dizzy descending the fast road descent to the finish. Then I was done. I rode in my middle ring, up in the granny gear in the back, the last flat 1/2 mile to the finish tent. I just had enough juice to go just that far, could have hardly pedaled stroke further.

Yesterday I was pretty tweeked, not horrible, but definitely tweeked. My lungs are still a little jacked, but that is to be expected. I haven’t done any intensity for a long time.

Anyway, I can’t say enough about the event. It is great. Free stuff, loads of free food, beer, entertainment after. It’s what MTB bike racing is all about. In MTB racing, you’re racing mainly against the course, and yourself, not the other riders. It seems like there is more camaraderie.

The race was way oversold this year. Hopefully next year, the Forest Service will give these guys permission to let more riders in. This course can not be hurt by any number of MTB riders. It is rock. Even if it rained 3 inches during the race, the course would hold up fine. The Forest Service probably doesn’t have hands on experience here. If they did, they would be encouraging Scott, Jacob and the rest of their crew to be doing just what they do. They spent nearly two week riding/walking the whole trail, chainsaws in packs, removing downed trees, making the course usable for all, not just for the race. Guys like this are the people behind the scenes that make it possible for us to ride in the woods all year long.

It was a little cold at the start, but not as coldas it has been historically.

It was a little cold at the start, but not as coldas it has been historically.

Garet blew a little at the end even though he had half the Cliff factory on his top tube.

Garet blew a little at the end even though he had half the Cliff factory on his top tube.

I was pretty done at the finish.

I was pretty done at the finish.

This is how I was after a couple beers.  Luckily it was a few hours until awards, then the 5 hour drive home.

This is how I was after a couple beers. Luckily it was a few hours until awards, then the 5 hour drive home.

The Trophies are great.

The Trophies are great.

The top ten, with the promoters, Scott and Jacob kneeling.  Garet had drank the better part of a  keg already personally.

The top ten, with the promoters, Scott and Jacob kneeling. Garet had drank the better part of a keg already personally.

Berryman Trail Epic MTB Results

This entry was posted in Racing on by .
Share

I got back pretty late last night and kind of feel like just hanging this morning, so I’d do the write-up on the Berryman Epic later today, maybe tomorrow. The race was super fun, the course perfect, and I was toast at the end. I was definitely not trained enough to ride at that pace for that duration. I had a lot of issues, but can’t really complain much about the result.

You cn click on the results to enlarge.

You cn click on the results to enlarge.

Pre-Race Jitters

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .
Share

I raced this season less than anytime during the last 30 years. It doesn’t seem that strange since I’ve been injured so much of the season. And, I’ve had little patience with the injuries, which just prolonged the healing process. So, today, I felt pretty unfamiliar with the pre-race jitters I felt as I drove up to the Bass Resort, to pre-ride a little of the course of the Berryman Trail Epic race tomorrow. I hadn’t done a system check in such a long time, nearly a month, that it felt strange.

I don’t mind the self-imposed nervousness and constant checks the day before, or morning of the races. I think it is a good thing, especially when you’ve gone over all the aspects of the race and feel you’ve done everything possible to make the outcome positive. I can’t say that about this specific race, but it is what it is.

Brian and I got out for about 15 miles of the course late yesterday last night. Last year, nearly the whole 56 miles were covered with at least 4 inches of leaves. This year, it is a late fall, so the trail is perfect. Well, perfect leaf-wise, but a little dusty and loose to be super perfect.

I did all the system checks and still have a big question mark. I’m not as pitiful as I was the day before last year, and I won, so that is a good thing. But, I definitely didn’t feel perky at all. I have close to 4 1/2 hours to ride into it tomorrow, so it isn’t like the first 30 minutes decided the race.

The race starts a little early for my liking, 8:30 am. Yesterday it was 28 degrees at that time, but today it is warmer, in the mid 30’s. The race starts on a gravel climb, pretty much from the start, so you aren’t too cold for very long. It is supposed to be nearly 60 for a high, but that will be way after the race is over for the leaders.

Scott and Jacob, the race promoters, have been camped out for the last week, walking the trail and marking 56 miles of trail. I was talking to Brian on the way over, saying I can’t imagine how long it would take to mark that much non-repeating singletrack. I have my answer. It is quite impressive. There are 350 riders entered today, so all the hard work is obviously appreciated.

Okay, by the time many of you read this, I’ll be riding through the Mark Twain National Forest. Hopefully pretty fast. If not, it’s fine, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.

Brian and I, all stiff from driving, heading out to ride some singletrack.

Brian and I, all stiff from driving, heading out to ride some singletrack.

You don't often go to registration and have the room lined with deer trophies.

You don’t often go to registration and have the room lined with deer trophies.

This is a first, a hoodie with my name on it.....twice.  Lots of gifts at registration, pretty cool.

This is a first, a hoodie with my name on it…..twice. Lots of gifts at registration, pretty cool.

It always amazes me there are places in the United States where you can still smoke in restaurants.  It is the Ozarks.

It always amazes me there are places in the United States where you can still smoke in restaurants. It is the Ozarks.

Ruts and Guts/Berryman Epic/St. Louis UCI Races

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .
Share

If you haven’t noticed, there is a banner across the top of the site for the Ruts and Guts weekend, the 2nd weekend of November. I’ve done the races the last couple years and it is a great weekend of races with a super healthy pricelist. The banner is clickable, so if you think you might have the ability to make it, check it out.

I’m heading to the Berryman Epic this morning. I’m really in no real form to race, but I have to restart, again, somewhere. Nothing like a 56 mile, rocky singletrack MTB race for starters. I love the seclusion of riding in the woods for such long periods without seeing a soul. It is refreshing and helps me sort through lost thoughts. There are about 350 riders doing it, so there will definitely be a party afterwards.

The St. Louis UCI cross races are also Saturday and Sunday. If I have any extra energy, I might go there on Sunday, probably to just watch, but will probably throw my cross bike into the van just in case. I am still sore from the cross clinic I did last Sunday in Dallas. I can’t imagine how wasted I’m going to be after Saturday.

I had an all day affair yesterday with my MTB bike. It was pretty much the worst case scenario for everything. My tires sealed up good, but after that, it went downhill. I put on a new chain and my cassette skipped. So I put on a new cassette and that fixed it. My front was rigid for Chequamegon, so I had to put back on a shock fork. My XTR brakes are side mount and I need post mounts. I have a XO brake that is post mount, but when I put in new pads, I can’t get it to work. I’m not a big fan of Avid/Sram disc brakes. I finally just stole the Shimano SLX brake off her new BMC MTB bike. It worked great.

I went riding late in the afternoon and when I put pressure on my cranks, my chain skipped on the big ring. I didn’t realize it was so wasted. I didn’t have a new ring, so I had to change the whole crankset and bottom bracket. So, I did exact what I tell everyone else not to do before a race, change your components. I changed just about all mine. I’m going to ride a hour or so on the course this afternoon, so it should be enough to sort out any potential issues.

There are 2 places on the course where I can get extra tubes, air, etc. I’ve flatted as many as 4 times in this race before. The last two years I haven’t flatted once, knock on wood. Once you put in a tube, you are destined to keep putting in more tubes. The rocks are too sharp and the speed is too high not to keep pitching. I’ve got a lot of sealant in my tires and pretty sturdy tires too, so I hope to make it through the race without incident.

Okay, better go pack up the van. I’m picking up my team-mate, Brian Jensen, in Lawrence on the way. Brian was 12th in Leadville, but this ain’t no Leadville. He needs to get the experience of riding on rocky singletrack. No better way than doing it in competion.

I have a lot of tube and quickfils ready.

I have a lot of tube and quickfils ready.

Plus a couple more on my bike already.  I'll probably carry another in my pocket.   Like I said, I've had a lot of problems with flatting at this event.

Plus a couple more on my bike already. I’ll probably carry another in my pocket.
Like I said, I’ve had a lot of problems with flatting at this event.