Monthly Archives: December 2013

Stybar turn Down €800000 For a Cyclocross Season

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I saw an article at Cyclingnews that said that the Telenet-Fidea cross team offered Zdenek Stybar €500000 to ride for them, plus they estimated that he would earn at least €300000 in appearance fees and prize money, maybe more. And he turned them down.

Man, that is a lot of cash for a cross season. €800000 is approximately $1,100,000. I very much doubt he get paid that much to ride on the road, but what do I know about that. He did have a pretty good road season last year.

Anyway, if he did take the offer and won the prize money that Hans van Kasteren, team manager for Telenet-Fidea, estimated, then he would be for sure making more money than all the salaries off all American cyclocross racers combined. By a large margin, probably by a factor of 2 or 3. Is that crazy to think? We have more participation in the sport of cyclocross than anywhere else in the world and one road rider in Europe can demand a salary more than all riders in the US combined.

As far as I can tell, only the cycling industry is cashing in on the cyclocross craze here. And I’m not so sure they are even doing that to a large degree. USAC is getting a lot more money from entries and sanctioning races. And the UCI is making a ton more money from sanctioning too, for sure. But, the riders aren’t making squat.

For cyclocross to become a viable sport in the United States, there needs to be sponsorship to pay enough for a sustainable National Circuit for professionals. That isn’t the case. It has never been the case. The travel costs for flying around the country, chasing UCI points, just for lining up at races, mainly Nationals, is astronomical. So astronomical that many riders have already started to just bail on the travel and focus on their local series. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but it isn’t going to advance the sport to the next level financially. Right now Elite level cross racing is a just hobby for nearly every racer involved.

There are only a handful of riders in Europe that make any money racing cross. Most are Belgian. There is only one other guy that gets paid what they offered Stybar and that is Sven Nys. All the other riders are on a lower level of salary, but they still make a good living racing cross.

I was mildly surprised to read that Trek is going to sponsor Sven in 2014. I don’t know if that means he rides Trek as of January 1st or after the season is over, but whatever the deal, I’m surprised. Nys has been riding Colnagos for as long as I can remember. And he probably gets paid a pretty penny for his bike sponsorship. Trek already puts some money in to their Trek Collective cross program, including Katie Compton, but for the money that they are paying Nys, I’d think they could have a pretty unbelievable Elite National program here in the US.

California Giant Strawberry/Specialized
have a pretty good regional, more than regional, program going. I’d say they have the most consistence, best program for cyclocross the last decade. Anthony Gallino, czar of Cal Giant, is a huge supporter of the sport of cycling, plus a really nice guy. They have sponsored more up and coming cross riders, men and women, than any other program. Plus, they have awesome strawberries.

I’m not sure why Stybar gets to race cross and Mark Cavendish can’t race on the track, when they both race for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. That is probably because Patrick Lefevere, team manager for Omega is Belgian and probably likes cross better. Maybe he likes Stybar better too?

I hope Stybar decides to race the World Championships this year. He already has dabbled, winning his team mate Tom Boonen’s charity event again for the 2nd year in a row. In the 1st Cyclingnews article, he says that if the World’s course isn’t muddy, then he has a higher chance of doing it. That would make the race way more interesting. I’m sure we’ll see him racing over the Christmas holiday like he has the last couple years. He sort of changes up the rhythm of the “normal Belgian” tempo of a race, which makes it more exciting to watch for afar.

The guy has flare on a cross bike.

The guy has flare on a cross bike.

Hard Helmets Saved the USAC?

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I was on the USCF (before USAC) board of directors back in the 80’s. One board meeting, out of the blue, the CEO at the time, Dave Prouty, said that the organization was going to cease to exist because he couldn’t obtain insurance because our members didn’t have proper head protection. We were presented with really no option other than passing a hard helmet rule.

I wasn’t for it at all. Back then, you pretty much had to wear either a Bell V1 Pro or a German track helmet. Both were heavy and ugly. But, the way it was presented, there wasn’t going to be any bike racing without making it mandatory for all amateur riders to wear them.

I was riding for Levis at the time and Bell was eager to get into PRO cycling, so they sponsored us. Man, were those helmets huge and cumbersome. I’d been racing in a hairnet helmet so long that the Bell helmet felt like a brick on my head.

Anyway, pretty early in the season, we were at a circuit race in Castle Rock, Colorado and it started storming. Pretty soon it was hailing pretty good size hail. I just kept looking towards the ground and I could hear the ice popping off my helmet. I was thinking at the time that the helmet was much better for situations like this, than a hairnet.

In the Coor’s Classic and Professional races, we didn’t have to wear a helmet at all, and I usually didn’t. It took a while for the rest of the World to pass their helmet rules. There was a time that you didn’t have to wear your helmet when you were climbing, so in the Tour, etc., guys would take their helmets off when going uphill, and hang them on their handlebars or give them to their team cars.

Eventually, Jim Gentes came up with the idea for styrofoam helmets, Giro, and they got way lighter and more usable. And UCI made it mandatory for all riders to wear them all the time.

The weird twist to the story is the during the 2nd day of the board of director’s meeting, after we had already passed the hard helmet rule, a discussion came up on budget. I asked Dave Prouty how much money that we going to save with our new rule and he said that he hadn’t talked to any insurers about it, but was pretty sure that it was going to save us a bunch of money. So, he pretty much just made up the extinction of bike racing insurance story. I’m not sure what the reason for him to be so adamant about hard helmets, but I guess it worked out in the long run.

The first time I ever wore a hard helmet.  Micheal Fatka, our team director, paid me somthing like $500 to wear one at Cyclocross Nationals in Plymouth, MA.

The first time I ever wore a hard helmet. Micheal Fatka, our team director, paid me somthing like $500 to wear one at Cyclocross Nationals in Plymouth, MA.

Sprinting for a $500 prime on the Morgul-Bismark course at the Coor's Classic with Giuseppe Saronni, sans helmet.

Sprinting for a $500 prime on the Morgul-Bismark course at the Coor’s Classic with Giuseppe Saronni, sans helmet.

My original patent leather hairnet helmet.  It's a little attrified.

My original patent leather hairnet helmet. It’s a little attrified.

300 miles and I’m a little Toast

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I forget how hard it is riding in the end of November, early December, even when it is relatively warm. I’m not that out of shape, well maybe I am, and I have been eating antibiotics and antiviral medicine by the handfuls, but whatever the reason, it sure does seem hard getting a 300 mile week.

Part of the reason is because there isn’t anyone else around here that can pull much, so I spend a nearly the whole day in the wind. We did have a day this week that was nearly perfect, really still, but normal wind speed for around here is 15 mph+, emphasizing the +. Plus, even though it has been in the 50’s, it seems colder. It only stays warm for a couple hours a day, so it seems like you’re never quite dressed right.

Catherine came back from Seattle and rode with us for 3 days. Up in Seattle, she has been riding outside on the weekends and then 3 times a week at Todd Herriott’s Place at night. You’d think that would be enough to keep her in pretty good shape, but it isn’t. Well, it isn’t good enough to allow her to go out with us and do an even share of pulling, in the wind, 3 days in a row. When it got down to four of us one day, Catherine was pulling out all the tricks to rest. Whenever I looked back, instead of 2 riders behind us, there would only be one, then Catherine was drafting him. There is a much better draft two guys back, and after the ride, she admitted that she was just being overly cautious, but this time of the year you never know when your going to just blow. I can’t blame her.

The temperatures are supposed to plummet tomorrow. Thursday the high is supposed to be in the lower 20’s. Same Friday and Saturday. Those temperatures are when I like to ride off-road, slower speeds, harder pedaling. But, I’m sort of trying to take it easy and riding on trails or in the grass isn’t ever easy, but neither is the wind, so………….

Catherine taking a little break 30 miles into the ride.

Catherine taking a little break 30 miles into the ride.

Trudi headed off to Park City for a little BMC mini-camp for the US riders.

Trudi headed off to Park City for a little BMC mini-camp for the US riders.

Last night they went to a Utah Jazz game.  Watched from a skybox of course.

Last night they went to a Utah Jazz game. Watched from a skybox of course.

It's been so warm that we're still eating lettuce and spinach for our garden.  We cover it at night.

It’s been so warm that we’re still eating lettuce and spinach for our garden. We cover it at night.

How about Black Friday sales at Walmart?  An AR-15.  "For your favorite outdoorsman"? I don't think many people think of this gun as one for hunting.   It is pretty much an assault rifle.

How about Black Friday sales at Walmart? An AR-15. “For your favorite outdoorsman”? I don’t think many people think of this gun as one for hunting. It is pretty much an assault rifle.

“I have a high sweat rate, and low attention span” – Jeremy Powers

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Jeremy Powers is giving up racing on the road and concentrating fully on cyclocross according to this article at Cyclingnews. That is a little surprising, but I guess he felt too much pressure to have big presence on his road team. I loved the quote above. I totally get it. I tend to ride better when it is colder out nowadays and the way that professional road racing has “evolved”, sometimes racing road races is like watching paint dry.

So, now here in the US, we have 3 professional cyclocross racers, which Tim Johnson and Jonathan Page being the other two. Actually, let’s not forget Katie Compton. That would make four. There are a few other guys that could nearly be “classified” in that group, but the amount of money exchanging hands isn’t enough to get there.

Jeremy says he’d like to have a bigger presence in World Cup cyclocross racing. I don’t know if he’s going to be happy with the results. Unless he is going to just uproot and move over to Europe, there is going to be an enormous amount of travel involved with that. He says he wants to restrict his race starts and travel, and he might be able to do that, but if he is going to do a full World Cup season, either he lives in Europe or travels a ton back and forth.

The Belgians have a huge advantage when it comes to scheduling and travel. Just look at the remaining races this season over the holidays. There is a World Cup on December 22 in Namur Belgium and then another one the day after Christmas on the 26th in Heusden-Zolder Belgium. So unless you are Belgian, every other rider in the race is going to have to spend Christmas Day away from home. That is just wrong. Obviously it is a Belgian sport for the most part.

I’ve always thought that the road gives you a good base for racing cyclocross. From my experience, if I want to be going great a cyclocross, I agree with Jeremy and would restrict the number of cross racers, but would look for some cyclo-cross season road racing to keep the form during the cross season when the weather seems to make it hard to stay consistent. A few years ago, I did the Tour of Southland in November, a 5 day stage race in New Zealand, and I kept that form for the next 4 weeks at least.

Anyway, I wish Jeremy the best. The guy has an enormous amount of energy (click here to watch a few of his fellow pros impersonate him), I have to give him that. I’m not so sure about his self perception of a “low attention span”. When he puts his mind to things, it seems to work out pretty great for him.

Seems strange he won't be donning the Jelly Belly colors for now on.

Seems strange he won’t be donning the Jelly Belly colors for now on.

Iced In – Dallas

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

On Tuesday I thought I was heading down to Dallas for a quick in and out trip. But that changed up big time yesterday when it started spitting ice and drizzle early. And it went from bad to worse. Now the whole area is covered with a half inch of ice and the power is out. And they have no infrastructure here to deal with winter weather.

The whole area is pretty much shut down. I haven’t seen a plow yet. I don’t think they have many. I went by a auto parts store yesterday to get some anti-gel stuff for the diesel and there was a sign on the door that said they had no ice scrapers or de-icer. At Home Depot, there were selling four Dura Flame logs for $25. I saw a guy by four boxes. I asked him if he thought that would hold up for a day and he said he didn’t know or really care. He just wanted to appease his wife.

The woman, Melissa that helps Sue’s mom out, doesn’t have any heat in her car, no defrost, because her heater core was leaking. She was trying to remove the ice from her windshield with a plastic cap off a jug. I told her to use the windshield wiper fluid to loosen it up, but they don’t use wiper fluid that goes below zero here. I had a jug of Rain-X fluid that went down to -25. I told her to start trying the wiper fluid after the engine melted the wiper supply hoses. I’m going to hook back up her heater hoses and try some Bars Leak this afternoon to see if that will stop it up and get it functioning again.

On the internet, it shows the electricity going back online at 7am tomorrow. Man, that seems like a long time, but I guess there are a quarter million people with no electricity here.

I’m going to install some grab bars in Sue’s mom’s shower today. I spent a fair amount of time crawling around on my chest in the attic trying to find the location of the studs under the ceramic tile. Man, was I itchy last night. I’m going to be using a cordless drill, so the lack of electricity isn’t an issue.

Okay, that is about it from frosty Dallas.

It took quite a while to get this frozen mass off the front of my van.

It took quite a while to get this frozen mass off the front of my van.

I saw lots of these on the short drive to electricity at Starbucks.

I saw lots of these on the short drive to electricity at Starbucks.

Starbucks was pretty iced in too.  They don't really have any rock salt or snow shovels in this city.

Starbucks was pretty iced in too. They don’t really have any rock salt or snow shovels in this city.

This is my buddy Rod Lake's dog, Camo.

This is my buddy Rod Lake’s dog, Camo.

Rod had "an extra" Zip 404 taking up space in his garage.  He just moved from Allen down to White Rock Lake.  He's gonna have to start riding more now that the White Rock loop is at his doorstep.

Rod had “an extra” Zip 404 taking up space in his garage. He just moved from Allen down to White Rock Lake. He’s gonna have to start riding more now that the White Rock loop is at his doorstep.

20131206-122853.jpg

20131206-134552.jpg

This was Wednesday, nearly 80 degrees, big change.

Jittery Legs

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I’m pretty much stuck in Dallas. Someone left a comment yesterday that said something like, it shouldn’t be a surprise since they have been predicting this ice storm for the past few days. And I agree that is true. What isn’t predictable, or at least wasn’t obvious to me, is the real lack of infrastructure to deal with this here. Nearly anywhere else in the country, this wouldn’t be any big deal.

All the roads are super hazardous. The George Bush Toll Road is worse than nearly any gravel road I’ve ever been on. No one has any snow shovels or salt. Nearly no sidewalks are cleared, so they are solid ice.

The power is out in Richardson and I recommended that Sue take her mom to a hotel. The temperature in her house was already into the 40’s and the power might not be turned on until tomorrow still. By the time we decided that, nearly all the hotels were full. We ended up driving up to Plano to a pretty nice place, the NYLO. It is ultra modern and kind of hip. Trying to get Sue’s mom from the car into the hotel was a chore. It was solid ice right up to where you could grab the handle. I don’t understand the liability risks these commercials properties are willing to assume here. In Kansas, it is a law that you need to clear the sidewalks on your property in a timely manner, something like 8 hours. Absolutely no one here is clearing anything. I don’t think there is anything here to use for it.

It is kind of lucky that this is a weekend, so people can just hunker down and sit it out. I really don’t know how many people are without electricity, but it might take a while to get it turned back on. The electric trucks aren’t moving any faster than anyone else around here, which is really slow.

Anyway, back to the title of the post. My legs are wasted today. I kind of twisted my knee getting out of the car yesterday on ice. Now, walking on ice, I feel super unstable, which is pretty normal I guess. I can’t believe how wasted my thighs and hamstrings from trying to stabilize myself on ice.

Walking Bromont this morning, he fell down twice while walking on grass with ice on it. I didn’t sink through, walked right on top of the ice on grass. It is so solid. It isn’t going to thaw here for a while.

The Kansas State Cyclocross Championships are tomorrow in Topeka, just 3 miles from my house. I was planning on being there. I really hadn’t planned to race, but you never know about that. Unless something around here goes a lot better, I doubt I’m going to be in Kansas for the race tomorrow.

This was the George Bush Toll Road last night driving up to Plano.

This was the George Bush Toll Road last night driving up to Plano.

This guy went out running about the last chance he could have.  The roads are 100 times worse now.

This guy went out running about the last chance he could have. The roads are 100 times worse now.

Bromont's legs are jittery too.  He is walking pretty timidly on the ice.

Bromont’s legs are jittery too. He is walking pretty timidly on the ice.

The Bar's Leaks  seemed to work on Melissa's heat core yesterday.  Repairs like this are always a little suspect for a while.

The Bar’s Leaks seemed to work on Melissa’s heat core yesterday. Repairs like this are always a little suspect for a while.

Same ‘old

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Nothing much has changed in Dallas other than maybe it is more dangerous than it has been the last couple days. It has drizzled on top of ice, so that makes walking nearly impossible. Even Bromont has hit the deck a few times, which says something about how treacherous it is.

Plus the state of Oklahoma is having the same issues as Texas did a couple days ago. On my favorite part of the drive, near Ardmore, the old mountain area, I guess there is a huge blockage of semis stuck on the road, guys sleeping in their trucks and people in their cars.

The power came back on this morning in Richardson, so we moved Sue’s mom back home again. Yesterday I went over to their house to put in some shower grab bars. I didn’t need any electricity or heat for that. I could have used some heat, but it wasn’t mandatory.

It took a little longer than I’d hoped, but it went pretty well. I had a hard time locating studs behind the ceramic tile. I finally climbed up in the attic, which was a minor nightmare. I had to get down on my chest and forge through three different varieties of insulation to get over the bathroom. I found studs that I could use of one bar, but not for the other. I saw “an ad” on the bar that said WingIts compatible. I hadn’t heard of WingIts before. Anyway, they are anchors that say they can handle between 300-600 pounds of force when used behind ceramic tile. That seemed like a big claim, but that was about the only option I could think of because there was no access behind the wall. I had to drill huge holes, 3/4″, but they were going to be plugged by the attachment. They seem to work pretty well. I tugged on them about as hard as I could and they were solid.

I’m going to hang here until tomorrow morning and then head North. I think it is better to drive in the daylight. My diesel van completely sucks on ice, about the same as a pickup truck. I have never experienced a storm or situation that I had to just sit tight for so long. I guess it is just a reality of ice in a Southern climate.

I guess it got slick for the Kansas State Cyclocross Championships in Topeka today. I probably would have raced in those conditions. I don’t care so much about the place, but the bike handling skills you reaffirm at race speed are super valuable. You have to keep up with that or they dissipate. Guess it wasn’t to be.

Bromont keeping Sue's mom company during the ice storm.

Bromont keeping Sue’s mom company during the ice storm.

I got over to Sue's mom's and the outside spigots were frozen solid.   I came up with this imaginative method for thawing them.  I can't believe they don't use freeze proof sillcocks down here.

I got over to Sue’s mom’s and the outside spigots were frozen solid. I came up with this imaginative method for thawing them. I can’t believe they don’t use freeze proof sillcocks down here.

I think these covers only work when there is heat in the house.

I think these covers only work when there is heat in the house.

WingIts package.

WingIts package.

They are just beefy wall anchors.

They are just beefy wall anchors.

Just getting this 3/4" carbide bit was worth doing the project.  It drilled through tile like butter.  Pretty gigantic holes though.

Just getting this 3/4″ carbide bit was worth doing the project. It drilled through tile like butter. Pretty gigantic holes though.

All done.

All done.

This is a photo from last night of two coyotes.  Bromont chased after them and then one keep running and the other ran into the brush.  Pretty soon Bromont was running back towards me and both of the coyotes were chasing him.  I though they were trying to kill him.  But when they stopped and Bromont was back with me, they started playing.  Jumping on top of one another and wrestling.  They didn't seem much concerned about me.  I enjoyed the whole experience.

This is a photo from last night of two coyotes. Bromont chased after them and then one keep running and the other ran into the brush. Pretty soon Bromont was running back towards me and both of the coyotes were chasing him. I though they were trying to kill him. But when they stopped and Bromont was back with me, they started playing. Jumping on top of one another and wrestling. They didn’t seem much concerned about me. I enjoyed the whole experience.

Bromont all tuckered out from his coyote chase, looking all happy in front of the frozen grass.

Bromont all tuckered out from his coyote chase, looking all happy in front of the frozen grass.

This guy just spun into the median in front of use this morning.  I'm not sure what happened, but he had zero percent chance of getting off this by himself.

This guy just spun into the median in front of use this morning. I’m not sure what happened, but he had zero percent chance of getting off this by himself.