Monthly Archives: November 2013

Not Ready for Winter

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I’m not ready for winter. For some reason I’m colder this year than any other year I can remember. Maybe it is because I haven’t felt that great the last few weeks, but whatever the reason, it seems like winter came in too quickly.

Usually, here in Kansas, it doesn’t get really cold until January. Don’t get me wrong, December can be winter too, but it hasn’t been the last 15 years much. But, it seems like the last couple years, December is becoming December of when I was a kid. I’m not sure if it is global warming or just a weather cycle, but it is colder now than it has been.

I think part of the reason I’m not used to it being cold is because I haven’t really been doing any cyclocross. Cyclocross and cold seems to go hand in hand. When you’re doing cross races all weekend, you end up standing around in the cold for hours a day. That gets you acclimated to the cold much quicker. Plus, when you’re riding cross, you are not anywhere nearly as cold as you are when riding on the road.

Yesterday I rode Bill up north to his aunt’s house. The wind was blowing from the north at 15-20 mph. It was right around 30 degrees. I couldn’t believe how cold my face was. I usually put Vaseline on my face if I think it’s going to be bad windchill. But I didn’t yesterday. As soon as my nose started dripping and my face got a little wet, man, was my face cold. I kept trying to wipe the snot off my face, but eventually the back of my glove felt like I was rubbing sandpaper on my face. The cold felt better than trying to keep my face dry.

I was surprised that I didn’t feel that bad riding into the headwind. It was pretty hilly, a series of couple hundred meter climbs. I am so jacked up riding, I was trying a bunch of different cadences climbing off my seat, trying to figure out which muscles were working properly and which ones I needed to avoid. Man, is that pitiful. I found that if I was climbing using a low cadence, pulling up a fair amount with my hamstrings, I seemed to be the most efficient. Things aren’t going good in cycling when you have to switch up your cadence to get comfortable.

The only problem with that was I had to turn around and ride back home, mainly downhill, with a tailwind. You would think that would be cake. Not so. I turned around and was going pretty good for 10 minutes or so. Then I started falling apart. I’m not sure if I was just bonking or what, but eventually I was pedaling in squares. I pretty much fell apart less than 5 miles from my house. Destroyed at less than 40 miles. Go figure.

I drove to Kansas City to pick Catherine up at the airport at 2 pm. She was happy to get back to Kansas. The hour drive back to Topeka went pretty quickly, catching up. She is going to use one of my cars this weekend. I was grabbing all my stuff and realized that I didn’t have my phone. I was more than mildly perplexed. I thought maybe I left it at the Starbucks at the airport when I was paying. Catherine drove off to go to her mom’s. I got on the computer and used the Find my iPhone program on iCloud. When the map popped up, there was the green dot, identifying my phone in the middle of the exit leaving the airport. That didn’t really surprise me that much. I realized I left it on top of my car when I was searching my pockets for the parking ticket.

Thanksgiving dinner was in just an hour and a half and I had two hours + to the airport and back. It was torn. I was worried that my battery on the phone was going to die, thus disabling the loud ping sound that you can send to the phone to locate it. So I got decided to drive back the 80 miles to the airport to go get it. I checked every 20 minutes or so to make sure no one had run the phone over or picked it up.

It was just sunset when I got there. I pulled over on the shoulder of the exit ramp and looked down the road. I realized that if the phone was in the grass it was going to be really hard to locate. I had Trudi’s iPhone with me and was on the Find my iPhone app. I activated the sound, but the traffic noise was all I could here. When there was a gap in the traffic, I heard a faint ping. I only had to walk 20 feet or so and there it was, laying on the shoulder, right where the exit split. It was laying face down and I thought for sure that the glass would be shattered. I picked up the phone and it was perfect. The case was toast, but the phone itself was unscathed. I was super lucky.

Less than 10 seconds after I had the phone in my hand, it rang and there was Michael Fatka on the other end. I couldn’t really understand him, it sounded like I was under water, so I called him back on Trudi’s phone. Michael told me he only had a few minutes left on his phone, he must have a pay as you go deal, so we were in the middle of a conversation and poof, he was gone.

I know a lot of you don’t know Michael. I need to do a whole post on him. He was my first real sponsor in cycling. I rode the first 7 years of Elite racing on his team. He was the most important person in American cycling in the early 80’s. He took Greg LeMond over to Europe to introduce him to European teams. Our team won a ton of medals in the 1984 Olympic games. And on and on. Anyway, he isn’t really on the grid nowadays, so it is spotty making contact with him. This contact, on Thanksgiving day, was just business as usual. He sometimes comes down for Thanksgiving. I wish he would have come.

Today there is a road ride from our house at 1 pm. Since Catherine and Vincent are in town, it should be pretty fun. A bunch of guys are driving a couple hours west to go ride MTB bikes at Lake Wilson this morning. I’ve never ridden there, but am not riding off road for a little while, trying to not jar my body so much. It is supposed to be close 50 today, which is pretty much the normal high for this time of the year. I hope it stays closer to normal, because this 20 degrees below normal hasn’t been working out all that well so far.

I didn’t see any live turkeys yesterdays. For nearly the last 15 years, I’ve seen live turkeys out riding or in the fields on Thanksgiving. I guess there is always next year.

Catherine back at the Kansas City airport.

Catherine back at the Kansas City airport.

View approaching the phone.

View approaching the phone.

Screen when I picked up the phone.

Screen when I picked up the phone.

Riding out of town, I saw this Phelps idiot, doing his thing on Thanksgiving.

Riding out of town, I saw this Phelps idiot, doing his thing on Thanksgiving.

I was so late that veryone was already eating when I got back from getting my phone.

I was so late that everyone was already eating when I got back from getting my phone.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Overlap

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Pretty simple, friends and family get together to hang and eat. It sort of hard to commercialize something as simple as this. I heard that yesterday was the biggest travel day of the whole year. That is a good thing. It seems like some our best holidays, Halloween for example, has lost its appeal, thus participation, due to societal worries. Today happens to also be Hanukkah. I don’t know much about Hanukkah, but I do know that it is usually in December. This weird alignment of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah won’t overlap again for 79,043 years. That’s a while from now. Another tidbit of information, Thanksgiving has been a holiday since 1863. Pres. Abraham Lincoln declared it a holiday hundred and 50 years ago.

I say it’s hard to commercialize today, but “they” really do get their way tommorrow, Black Friday. I’ve never participated in Black Friday. I don’t make many rash decisions on purchases by prices. But, Black Friday is probably a bigger “holiday” than Halloween now. I hate that the Black Friday devils are now encroaching Thanksgiving Day. But, that is just life.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving away from home maybe more than the time I’ve been home. One season I spent the whole fall and winter racing cyclocross in Switzerland. I was living in Aigle, a small town in the French section, now famous as the place the headquarters of the UCI is located. Trudi flew over a week before Thanksgiving. We decided that we were going to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal. But trying to locate pumpkin in Switzerland was impossible. We travelled to Geneva, which was an hour drive from Aigle, to try to find some pumpkin. We went to health food stores, farmer’s markets, out of the way grocery stores, but no luck. We went without pumpkin pie that year, which seems like the mainstay of the meal, plus it’s my favorite part.

Another year I didn’t have a proper Thanksgiving meal was a winter I spent up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, doing a study with the Human Nutrition Lab. I was confined to the lab 24/7, unless I left with an escort or was out training on my bike. On Thanksgiving day that year, after lunch, which was beyond horrible, no turkey, no mashed potatoes, no pumpkin pie, only saturated fat, I went out for a ride around town. It was super cold, as it always was in North Dakota then, but I didn’t mind. I was pleasantly surprised how many people were out walking. If they weren’t walking they were playing touch football with their families, or frisbee. It was so nice observing for afar. I think that is when I really started to appreciated the simpleness of the holiday.

I got an email yesterday, from my friend, Brian Worthy, czar of Vermarc clothing and just all around nice guy. He reminded me of a Thanksgiving that he spent in Chicago at Trudi’s grandmother’s apartment. Kris, Trudi and Brian were driving the team van out to Plymouth Massachusetts, for Cyclocross Nationals. Seems pretty early now, but back then, the date was so late in the season compared when the last road race occurred. I was all ready on the East coast, I ate with Paul Biskup’s family. Anyway, Brian got the luxury to get to eat some of Trudi’s grandma’s knodel, which is a German potato dumpling. You cover it with Sauerbraten gravy, with is a German pot-roast. It is to die for. Trudi’s grandparents were both from Germany. I like the mixing of ethic foods with traditional holiday meals. Brian is lucky to have that memory. Obviously, it will be with him forever.

I won the Nationals that year. I thought it was so appropriate that we we in Plymouth near Thanksgiving. We saw were the original piligrams landed, Plymouth rock. It was sort of disappointing, much smaller than you’d think. We did a tour of a cranberry museum there. I learned nearly everything I know about cranberries on that tour. It was a great trip.

I’m in Topeka this year. A few friends are coming over. We’re not eating until late because Catherine is flying in from Seattle at two o’clock, so won’t be back to Topeka until after four. That is fine. I hope to ride Bill up North towards Hoyt, where he seems to go every other year. It is pretty cold out, but that’s alright. Okay, I hope you all have an enjoyable day, relaxed, no worries. It doesn’t have to be memorable for it to be meaningful.

If you want a little fun Thanksgiving merriment, go to Google and click on the Doodle.

I baked these two pies last night.  It smelled so good waking up this morning.

I baked these two pies last night. It smelled so good waking up this morning.

These are knodel from last year's Christmas.

These are knodel from last year’s Christmas.

Brian Worthy

Brian Worthy

Plymouth rock.  I think it has been whittled down through the years.  It is only a few feet across.

Plymouth rock. I think it has been whittled down through the years. It is only a few feet across.

A Little Behind

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I’m moving slow this morning, a little behind, not feeling all that well. So, maybe you can use “my” time to go here and read Crankpunk’s rant about Levi’s Grand Fondo. It is a good read. He writes it much better than I could. I’m been meaning to write something very similar. I’ve sort of addressed it a few times with Christian Van de Velde’s $10000 Rancho Santa Fe getaway camp.

Or you can read a little more about the Rich Meeker’s arbitration decision. This is a cliff notes synopsis, but there is a link to the actual USADA decision in the post.

I’ll figure something out to write about later.

crankpunk

Breakfast

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I really like breakfast. Actually, I love the food that we/Americans eat for breakfast, so of course I like breakfast. I could eat breakfast type foods for lunch, breakfast for dinner, breakfast for a snack, it really doesn’t matter. It is sort of like pie. I can eat pie for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between. Pie is really my favorite food. I know it isn’t technically a breakfast food, but since it is my favorite food, it fits in that category.

Racing bikes means big breakfasts. One of the great benefits. I usually eat breakfast 4 hours before most races. By most races, I mean most US races. And by that I mean criteriums, cyclocross and MTB races. I do this so my stomach is pretty empty for the intense efforts of these races. If I do a longer road race, eating so early isn’t mandatory. But, recently, the past year or two, I’ve been eating closer to the start. Sometimes as close as two hours. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be working out, so maybe it isn’t that important.

I like riding to eat breakfast. I started this back when I was in high school. I used to ride over to Lawrence on Saturday mornings and get the .99 cent breakfast at The Good Earth. I did this pretty much most Saturdays with my friend Judy Hudson. I’m sure Kris, Mike and a few others went along sometimes, but it was always Judy and I. It was 60 + miles roundtrip, which seems really far back then, especially in the winter.

A few years later, I was staying in Cardiff California one winter, training for riding an hour record attempt. Once again, there was a Good Earth in La Jolla village. Nearly every weekday morning, Trudi and I would ride the 15 miles to La Jolla, get the .99 cent breakfast special. It was whole wheat/cinnamon pancakes and eggs. After, we’d go down to the cove and watch the whales that were migrating down to Baja, then head back. It was pretty great having 30 miles on my legs before I’d even trained for the day.

I don’t hardly ever eat cold cereal for breakfast. My friend, Glenda Taylor, who grew up on a farm, once told me her mother wouldn’t let them eat cereal until they’d already had some “real food”. That makes sense. Most cold cereal is just a sugary snack.

I like most everything, pancakes, waffles, eggs, all types of hot cereal with fruit and nuts. I drink hot tea in the morning. I’ll drink coffee if I’m going out, but at home, it’s hot tea. Iike English Breakfast the best, but just about any black tea will do.

If I had to choose just one breakfast food, it would probably have to be pancakes. I’ve had the same pancake sourdough starter for close to 20 years. I thought I’d lost it once when I returned from a long trip and the mason jar the starter was in had exploded in the refrigerator. But a few months later, I was helping Keith and Catherine move and there in the back of their fridge was a jar of my starter that I’d given them. I was so stoked.

Anyway, I though of this because I am pretty much skipping breakfast today, just raisin toast. A couple times a week, I’ve been going over and walking Catherine’s mom’s dog, Jason, a little Pomeranian. When I do this, I end up eating lunch with her. It is a full meal deal, more like dinner. I normally skip lunch. I’m usually riding or doing something and just snack between breakfast and dinner. So, when I eat a full lunch, I have to cut back before and after. It’s not a very good trade-off.

My sourdough starter.  I know it looks a little rancid, but it isn't.  I only use real maple syrup.  I like Grade B better than A, it has more flavor.

My sourdough starter. I know it looks a little rancid, but it isn’t. I only use real maple syrup. I like Grade B better than A, it has more flavor.

I usually put yogurt and fruit on waffles.

I usually put yogurt and fruit on waffles.

This is the best bacon I've ever had.  It is from Steve Myrland from Madison.  He brough it up to Dennis' and wasn't shy about proclaiming he makes the best bacon in the world.  He was right.

This is the best bacon I’ve ever had. It is from Steve Myrland from Madison. He brough it up to Dennis’ and wasn’t shy about proclaiming he makes the best bacon in the world. He was right.

Jason.

Jason.

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Johan Bruyneel isn’t the Devil, yet……

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Okay, I told you so. I predicted, a couple different times, that Johan Bruyneel would not go to arbitration. It actually isn’t confirmed, but Johan did say that he is “pretty much done with cycling.” If that is the case, I very much doubt he is going to try to defend himself in a couple weeks at his arbitration hearing.

I would love to hear what he has to say. In the interview, Bruyneel does say-“I don’t see myself as the devil. People are trying to picture Lance and myself as the bad guys, but that’s wrong.” I think it is super important for cycling to get the knowledge he possesses. The whole problem, I can’t see Johan coming clean on his own without a little, or a lot, of incentive.

So, just like I wrote last week about Lance, I believe we need to think extreme. The knowledge he has is very time sensitive. So, I have another idea. The UCI should pay Johan a million dollars to talk. Actually, thinking about it, that seems like a lot, but it won’t do it. The UCI should pay Johan $10,000,000 dollars for his knowledge.

I know, that sounds crazy. But it is cheap when you really think about it. Bruyneel knows more about the issues of the current doping in cycling than any other person alive. Well, that might not be a fact, but he would be the guy that most everyone interested in the problem would love to hear. He is the guy.

I say that cycling pays Johan a ton of money to spill his guts. Tell everything from square one. Name names, procedures, payoffs, etc. All the down and dirty. The UCI sits on this, keeps it under wraps. Then the UCI does their truth and reconciliation deal. They do a one time offer to anyone, and everyone, that wants to stay in the sport, to come in, come clean on their own. I’d bet there would be a ton more “honesty” from all involved when there is common knowledge that Johan has already testified. Unless the system has some leverage on the confessing folks, then the half-truths are going to keep coming and coming.

I know that 10 million dollars seems like a ton of money. But you have to remember the circles that Johan has been hanging in. Ten million might not even be enough. There are a ton of “important” people out there that don’t want Johan to say a word, but I think Johan wants to talk. I’m sure that the UCI could come up with that amount, at least. That’s approximately $555,000 per World Tour Team if there are 18 around next year. I know Jonathan Vaughters, from Garmin, has said that the World Tour Teams need to step up and assume a bigger piece of the financial pie of keeping the sport clean. This could be the start.

I know this would open Johan to some civil exposure. I don’t care if he demands that they deposit his money on the Isle of Man, or some obscure Caribbean island. If that doesn’t work, the UCI is in Switzerland. The way the UCI has been acting the couple decades, they might even have some connections to some unclaimed Nazi gold laying around there. I don’t really care what they do to convince him to part with his secrets. Give him another book deal, whatever it takes. Even if it takes the get-out-of-jail-free, 6 month suspension deal. The knowledge is worth more than one injustice.

Johan isn’t the devil, anymore than Lance is. There isn’t one guy to to bust here. There isn’t a head to put on the block and then the problem disappears. The problem was systemic. It still is. There are gazillions of ghosts in the closets. Johan doesn’t know them all, but he might know more than just about anyone else.

In Johan’s interview, he says – “I think that Brian Cookson is definitely the right man in the right place, but I don’t think that major changes in the system or the structure are going to happen overnight.” It might not be overnight, but let’s get it all out on the table, done. It isn’t going to be pretty, it’s not going to seem fair, but it’s time we finish this once and for all.

Didi's knees are a little suspect.  Maybe Johan could replace him after his, potential, 6 month time out.

Didi’s knees are a little suspect. Maybe Johan could replace him after his, potential,6 month time out.

I wonder if Lance would do the foreword for a tell-all book?

I wonder if Lance would do the foreword for a tell-all book?

Tainted Supplements? Rich Meeker Suspended

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I wrote most of this Friday night, then kind of finished it yesterday morning. I was surprised how many emails and comments from people I received yesterday before anything had really been released. After reading other people’s reaction to the suspension, mine now seems sort of tame. I’ve known Rich from way back. Back when he started travelling out of the state of Pennsylvania. He shared a dorm area at Doby in Austin during the Tour of Texas, one year, with Michael Dell, the Dell of Dell computers. He is a nice guy and I hate to throw him under the bus. I’ve heard the rumors for years. I talked to a friend from SoCal, that hasn’t raced since the early 90’s, and told him a “local” rider had been suspended and he instantly guessed Rich Meeker. And he is really removed from the sport. That is how prevelant the rumors were. Click on the link at the bottom and read the blog post there. He covers it from a different perspective, one of a guy that races with Rich all the time. I can’t find any fault in his thought process. I sorta hate writing about doping deals two days in row. It most likely will be three tomorrow after reading that Bruyneel is most likely not showing up for his arbitration hearing. Anyway, my post below.

I read just a bit ago at Cycling Illustrated, that Rich Meeker, a friend I’ve raced with for decades, was positive for 19-norandrosterone, which I have no idea what that is.

Rich says he did what Scott Monniger did and took all his supplements in for testing and found one to be the cause. If that is the case, then I’m wondering the reason for the 2 year ban? I thought in cases like these, a shorter ban would be given. I believe Scott’s suspension was 1 year, but that was a while ago. It did say that the ban is over as of September 2014. Maybe he hasn’t raced since September 2012? Okay, I just went and looked a his results from USAC and he hasn’t raced since September 2012. (Man, I don’t think I’ve seen a results page ever in my life with so many 1st places, ever. Wow.)

I don’t really know what to say. I haven’t raced against Rich for a really long time. He mainly does Master’s races. I’ve been told by a bunch of Southern Cal friends, that sometimes Rich is going way too good. That doesn’t make him guilty of anything, but I hate it when I’ve heard suspicions from many other riders and then a guy gets popped for doping. It seems way too coincidental.

If Rich really has a contaminated supplement case, then I hope he pursues it legally. He says he just does cycling for a hobby in the article, but it is much more than a hobby for him, after looking at his results.

I’m wondering why this is the first time I’ve heard about this doping infraction. I definitely would remember if I’d heard this before. Since it seems like he’s been suspended for a year now, where is the official release from USADA or USAC that says Rich was positive and what race it was at? I think it is really strange.

I really don’t know the deal with all the masters racers using drugs. Guys riding Grand Fondos too. I’m not sure of the exact details, but I heard from a very reliable source a while back, that a ton of masters guys were popped, I think with the Joe Papp deal, but USADA didn’t want to spend the money to bring cases against them. So somehow, maybe USAC ,USADA or someone, got the FDA involved. I think it was the FDA, anyway, the positive guys were given a choice to relinguish their racing licenses forever or they were going to face some criminal charges for buying drugs through the mail.

I thought it was bullshit. I want to know every name of every rider that gets caught. Because it is pretty hard getting caught if you’re exclusively racing master’s races. I’d say nearly impossible if you have any knowledge at all. I think every guy that has taken drugs, especially in the US at masters events, need to be shamed by their peers. None of this, you just disappear forever deal.

Like I said above, it is so weird when you hear rumors about riders, and then they get busted much later, maybe years later. It seems so crazy. If everyone knows a guy is taking drugs, I know nothing you, or anyone can do, through official channels, to report the issue. I’ve heard of local midwest riders trying to call USADA to report riders for drug infractions and the guys that I’ve talked to say it is pretty much a dead end road. I have no idea how to do it, but it seems like there should be way for suspisious activity to be reported.

Okay, I’m on a tangent here. It seems like all the excuses have been made. Nothing really surprises me in this realm much anymore. I’m not sure what Rich is going to do to show he “races clean” when he comes back in September 2014. I’m periodically accused of doping. The few others that have accused me either don’t know me or were in a state of adrenaline insanity. I have no idea how anyone could show anyone else they race clean. If someone figures that out, we should patent it.

Here’s a link I just saw to a pretty great post. The best quote of the post is – If you race masters in SoCal and you don’t understand that drugs are rampant here, you are an imbecile.

He's looking pretty ripped here, which isn't good for the home team in his case.

He’s looking pretty ripped here, which isn’t good for the home team in his case.