Monthly Archives: May 2014

Photography

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Yesterday, Brian Jensen was planning on going over to Emporia and ride some parts of the Dirty Kanza 200 race, that is about a month away. He wanted to know if Bill and I wanted to go. I bailed pretty quickly.

I would have liked to go, but had sort of fallen apart, riding in the heat to Lawrence on gravel on Tuesday, plus he wanted to meet in Emporia, which is an hour away, at 7 ish in the morning. I’d not slept enough for 4 nights straight, so I wanted to try to catch up some. But the real reason was that it was going to be in the 90’s and the wind was going to be blowing over 30 mph all day. It was hot on Tuesday and I noticed that if my Garmin read over 93 or so, I felt pretty crummy, but when I was riding home, and a front moved in, the temperature dropped into the low 80’s and I felt much, much better. Anyway, I didn’t go. But, I asked Brian to take some pictures, because I knew that riding through the Flint Hills, in May, would be very scenic.

When I got some old photos from Jim Safford, a couple days ago, it got me thinking about how much taking pictures has changed in the last couple decades. Or maybe during my lifetime.

My family didn’t really have cameras around. My grandfather, my mom’s mother, used to do photography as a hobby and I have trays of slides, from all over North America. Plus, a ton of old cameras, a Rolleflex and such. But, I guess my parents didn’t continue the traditon. There aren’t too many pictures around of Kris and I growing up. Hardly any.

I got Trudi a Cannon A-1 camera when we first met. It was that or a Nikon. Eventually she got a motor drive and would blow through a roll of film in nothing flat. Anyway, there are tons and tons of old bike racing pictures and slides that I haven’t looked at forever somewhere. I don’t even know if there is a slide projector around to look at the slides.

My friend Stacie, from Louisville, called me yesterday and was seeing if she could get ahold of some old photos. We got talking about how strange it seems to think back upon the days when you used to take a roll of film to the camera store and then go back a few days later and get your prints. I remember when Walmart first did the return the photos the next day thing. We could take the film into any Walmart in the town we were racing on Saturday, and get the photos back by Sunday. Eventually it became an hour.

Digital cameras were the game changer. I think the first digital camera I had was an Olympus something. Maybe a megapixel and it probably cost $400. That is really when I started taking pictures, when it became convenient and instant. Unlimited pictures for nearly free, after getting the camera.

Now, my phone is my camera. It is a better camera than I’ve ever owned and it just comes with the phone. The majority of the time I have my phone with me, I’d rank the importance of the functions of the phone as follows-camera, internet access, then 3rd, phone. It is great having a camera accessible at all times.

So, I’ve been thinking about digging into the old photos, and slides, and digitally downloading them, even though I haven’t looked at them forever. Vincent knows a place that turns, slides into a digital format for.22 a slide. It would cost alot, but they would be in a way more usable state. Sounds like a big project.

Anyway, taking pictures and recording memories has really changed recently. To the better. Sometimes I wonder if I worry more about recording the experience than experience the experience, but I’ll probably never have a concrete answer to that question.

This is from a Norba National in Deer Valley, Utah.   Lance was just testing the MTB waters alittle, but ended up hitting the ground, more than once.

This is from a Norba National in Deer Valley, Utah. Lance was just testing the MTB waters alittle, but ended up hitting the ground, more than once.

Photo by Jim Safford

Brian riding the Dirty Kanza course yesterday.

Brian riding the Dirty Kanza course yesterday.

I don't usually put pictures of dead animals on here much, but you don't see many badgers in Kansas.

I don’t usually put pictures of dead animals on here much, but you don’t see many badgers in Kansas.

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Trudi with her Canon A-1 at the Morgul Bismark course at the Coor’s Classic-Trudi, Shelley Verses, April Fatka, April Wilburn

Man, Was I Naive, I Guess

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I’d have to say that I really never paid that much attention to this doping thing in the sport while it was going on. Of course, I knew that it was happening, but I felt I neither had the energy or the ability to do anything about it. Maybe that was the same way a lot of people thought. I guess we are all guilty in that regard. And, don’t get me wrong, I knew it was really bad, like terrible. The drugs made it virtually impossible to compete on a National/International level.

These past few months, I find it amazing how many guys I used to race with, just casually admit that they used drugs. I had no idea. Most of these guys raced pre-EPO, but it really doesn’t matter. Well, it does matter, because the oxygen carrying drugs really changed the game. It was hard to tell if someone was just taking amphetamines, but it is/was very easy to tell if they are manipulating their blood. When I read Joe Parkin’s book, Dog in a Hat, I was surprised that amphetamine use was so prevalent. I’d raced a ton in Belgium and didn’t have a hard time staying competitive. I had no idea everyone I was racing against at the time was doping.

It seems like a lot of people I used to race with are having heart issues. A couple guys have admitted to me that they think their problems are created by taking stimulants while racing, mixing amphetamines with caffeine. I have no idea if that caused the problems or not. I wrote a post about how it is thought that maybe we shouldn’t be doing so much exercise as we age, related to our hearts. The jury is still out on that, but maybe all the pacemakers cyclists are receiving are just a bi-product of sport and the duration we compete, I don’t know.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was I was looking for the results of Deer Valley, when Lance raced and happened upon the results of the short track from 2000. Man, are those some fucked up results. I have no idea why I would have even gone to that race. I must of been out of my mind. I feel bad for the guys on that list that are really just that great of athletes and not dopers. And, I don’t have too feel bad for that many, if you catch my drift.

And I did this for years, weekend after weekend. I sure must of not been bothered getting my assed kicked by dopers, back then, as much as it bothers me now. Maybe it was just getting paid to do something I love and I didn’t care that much about the personal results. I might do the same thing now. I guess I still do.

Looking back, I am embarrassed I didn’t take a more public stand against the whole stupidity. Privately, and sometimes when I was interviewed, I’d let my views be known, but it really didn’t seem to matter. I did an whole interview with Road Bike Action that pretty much said that everyone in the top 10, at every race, in Europe, was doping, and that was in the late 90’s. But, no one seemed to care. Maybe even me. Embarrassing.

Ned Overend once told me, a long time ago, “Steve, we were so lucky to be able to race internationally before the sport became polluted.” Ain’t that the truth.

I feel badly for the few guys on this list that did it right and honestly.

I feel badly for the few guys on this list that did it right and honestly.

Redlands Bicycle Classic – Highland Cirucit Race 2003

Or, how many of these guys need their names removed from the results?

Or, how many of these guys need their names removed from the results?

Bike Riding is a Personal Thing

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I love the sport of cycling because it morphs into whatever I need it to, whenever I need it to. When I need the sport for focus, it is there. When I need it for relaxation, it is there. When I need it for problem solving, there.

There is a unique relationship between physical exertion and mental capacity. They work together to create something greater than either alone. Cycling is unique, as a sport, because it does allow time for your mind to “wander”, to address things that you might not even know need addressing.

For sure, for me, the competitive side of the sport is exhilarating and very interesting. Interesting on a personal level. I am a student of the sport. I get criticized here some, for being critical about other riders, and/or, team tactics. But, that is what I do in a race. I try to absorb as much information as I can from my surroundings and then use that information as best as possible, usually instantaneous. When riders or teams ride stupidly, or great for that matter, I register that and use that information later, or currently, to try to better my result. I find stupid bike racing rather boring, even though that statement sounds elitist.

Riding the MS150 from Houston to Austin a month ago, I was amazed how many people would decide to ride over 150 miles, in two days, nearly cold turkey. Those riders didn’t have the luxury to be able to process anything other than their current surroundings and feelings, because they were so new to the sport that they didn’t have any extra mental capacity to deal with anything other than staying upright, in the masses, and trying to overcome physical suffering. It takes a certain amount of time and dedication, to the sport, before you get to get to the next level of mind wandering freedom. This seems fair. You should have to pay your dues to get to the real benefits.

Anyway, don’t underestimate all the ancillary benefits that the sport of cycling gives. I would love to just make it a rule, that for the 1st year, licensed riders can’t have a power meter or Garmin on their bikes once they get an USAC license. Riders need to know the feel of their bike, learn the correct skills, to get to a point of being one with their bikes and surroundings. I believe too much focus is now put on registering and tracking power and that the other aspects of the competitive side of our sport is being ignored. The other aspects is what makes a good rider great. And this allows us all to do spectacular things.

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Racing in Houston

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I drove down to Texas a couple days ago to get away from the smoke and allergies. I attained my objective, but drove into heat. That is fine, I’m trying to deal with it and the best way to deal with it is to expose yourself to it. Today there is a pretty cool race in downtown Houston. It’s only an hour long, so how hot can you really get in an hour? It’s supposed to be in the lower 90’s this afternoon, and muggy of course, so it does qualify for hot. I’ve been feeling sort of so/so still, but have ridden twice here mid-day, so I’m a little more used to it than not at all. The race doesn’t start until 3 o’clock, so it’s about the hottest time of the day.

I know most of the good guys here in Texas and it is super fun racing with them. I just finished Joe Martin, riding on the BoneShaker Team, from Texas, and most of those guys will be racing today. I was thinking on the ride about how many pretty fast guys are down here. And by fast, I mean fast finishers, like good sprinters. I don’t classify myself as a good sprinter, I’ve never been powerful enough or really fast enough. But, I can start a sprint in good position sometimes and that is sometimes good enough to allow me to have a good result. Like I’ve posted before, I sprint way better uphill and than down. Texas has a bunch of guys that can finish pretty quickly, so it’s kind of hard to read the last lap if it’s all together.

Okay, I’m gonna ride 30 miles this morning and then do the 250 mile drive from Dallas to Houston. I don’t really feel like warming up much for a hot race. I’m not really sure riding an hour and a half, then driving 3 or 4 hours constitutes a good warm-up, but that is what it is going to be today.

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I didn't pre enter the race.  WIth my ranking points I would have been slotted between Heath and Tristan.  This is the first time I've seen a woman predicted to win a Pro 1 race.

I didn’t pre enter the race. WIth my ranking points I would have been slotted between Heath and Tristan. This is the first time I’ve seen a woman predicted to win a Pro 1 race.

Houston Grand Criterium

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I was a little apprehensive about driving over 500 miles round-trip to race for an hour in Houston yesterday. But, like always, it turned out to be a good decision. I very rarely regret a race day.

The race course was pretty much up and down a parkway on the edge of downtown Houston. The course was just challenging enough, but there was a fair amount of wind that added to the action. I thought the race was pretty fast the first half. I don’t really have the rhythm of the racing down here in Texas yet. There are a bunch of strong guys, but it’s a little hard to read the race. These guys really know how to promote a nice race. At registration, they gave you coupons for free mexican food, cupcakes and smoothies. Everyone got a t-shirt and there was ice cold beer at the finish. Plus, a good prize list.

I pulled up to the race and I saw Bret Crosby and he said something about the “big money” brought me down. I actually had no idea of the prize list, I just saw that 80 guys were registered and only 20 something the day, before for a 90 mile road race. It turns out there was 3K for the race, plus a $1000 prime. I’m not too big on giant primes in races. I’d rather see 5 – $200 primes than one 1K prime. There is too much riding on the one lap and it encourages combines and mischief.

It was pretty hot, but not as hot as it could have been. I’m not used to the heat. That is my #1 priority right now, trying to get comfortable riding in extreme heat. I’m going to do it until it becomes a non-issue.

Anyway, the race was good. Pretty safe. I only got really winded once and it took a couple laps to get recovered. Eventually Bret Crosby and Heath Blackgrove rolled away. There were a couple more guys with them initially, but they got shelled pretty early on. I was right behind Bret when he was going and I made an intellectual decision that I didn’t want any part of that. I never felt good enough to think that I was going to be able to ride off the front, especially with Heath and Bret. They were going for the thousand dollars and were rewarded with it. I don’t know who won the prime, but I’m pretty sure they just split it. That is normally what would have happened.

I guess Heath was ripping Bret’s legs off and even though they were way off the front with just a lap to go, they started dicking around and next thing I know, they are just a couple hundred meters ahead, looking like they were going to get caught. Neither one of them wanted to commit, so they just started playing cat and mouse and it didn’t work out well for Bret. That is because Heath had at least one teammate, Michael Sheehan, who is super fast, so he didn’t have as much to lose as Bret.

The last lap was screwy. Everyone fighting for the front and once they got there, they didn’t want to necessarily be there. Lots of bumping and elbowing, even though the road was huge. There was too much wind and the circuit was too long to be at the front so early. The sprint was a long one, tailwind, not my favorite.

I blew it at the end. I had to hit my brakes a few times and lose a bunch of speed. Plus, we were sprinting into Heath and Bret and a lot of other guys that couldn’t get all the way to the finish line because they started it way too early. So, I was buried, which is how it should have been, riding it the way I did. I finished 16th, and they paid 20, so I made a little gas money back. Michael Sheehan won the race. He is riding super well this year and is still U-23. He just got back from Gila, after doing Joe Martin, so he has a lot of quality miles on his legs for early May. If he plays it right, he should be really good the next couple months.

I’m not judging myself too much. I can’t say I’m very pleased with how I felt, but it wasn’t horrible. These guys didn’t seem to be affected much by the heat. It definitely affected me, but it wasn’t the deciding factor to having a mediocre result, which is nice, not the result, but the heat tolerance.

I’m not sure what is going on next weekend race-wise. It is supposed to be really cool everywhere that I might be this whole next week. Even in Texas tomorrow, the highs are just supposed to be in the lower 60’s. In Topeka, the same, with low’s in the 40’s. Nice riding temperatures, but not good for the heat acclimation.

Here at the start with Lauren Stephens.  She just won the women's race and then came directly to the start for the Pro1 race.  I was asking her about losing the $1000 woman's prime she lost by an inch.  She is riding crazy good this year.   I got into a little tussle with her husband, Mat Stephens, on the last lap.  I probably overreacted a little, but am pretty tired of all this silliness at the end of races.  That is Carlos Vargas to my left.  I haven't seen Carlos for a long time.  It was his first race of the season.

Here at the start with Lauren Stephens. She just won the women’s race and then came directly to the start for the Pro1 race. I was asking her about losing the $1000 woman’s prime she lost by an inch. She is riding crazy good this year. I got into a little tussle with her husband, Mat Stephens, on the last lap. I probably overreacted a little, but am pretty tired of all this silliness at the end of races. That is Carlos Vargas to my left. I haven’t seen Carlos for a long time. It was his first race of the season.

The race was strung out in the gutter a lot of the time because of the wind.

The race was strung out in the gutter a lot of the time because of the wind.

Nice backdrop to a nice Sunday race.

Nice backdrop to a nice Sunday race.

These guys, Heath Blackgrove and Bret Crosby,  would have smeared us if they wouldn't have been messing around.

These guys, Heath Blackgrove and Bret Crosby, would have smeared us if they wouldn’t have been messing around.

The results.

The results.

Vincent sent me this photo from Arvada Colorado this morning.  Looks like it is a little colder there too.

Vincent sent me this photo from Arvada Colorado this morning. Looks like it is a little colder there too.

Riding in the Rain plus Di2 Down

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Yesterday was not the normal after the race ride/rest/training day. The weather was coming in and I wanted to get out and ride. But, just leaving, my bike wouldn’t shift. Pushing the right lever shows 5 flashing red lights, meaning, I think, a dead battery. So, I turned around and went back to try to charge it just a little. But, that didn’t work.

Sue hadn’t ridden the day before and was antsy to ride, so I decided to just head out with her anyway. I was stuck in a 39 x 17, which you’d think would be good, but it really was a little too easy. We were just doing a lap of White Rock Lake, just 30 miles, but by the time we got down to the lake, it was sort of raining. The system was off to the west, so I decided we should head a little east to try to stay away from the lightening. It was getting close to the bad traffic time in Dallas, after 3, but the quickest way back was on Garland, which is a diagonal up towards Richardson.

Anyway, it didn’t work. Pretty soon it was down pouring. But, worse, lightening. Like everywhere. I’m kind of a hard guy to scare and I intellectually understand how little a chance there is to be struck by lightening, but it was still scary. Plus, the traffic was terrible.

We ended up riding just 30 minutes in this and made it back frozen. It is so funny how one minute, I can be riding in a cut-off sleeve jersey and the next, completely frozen. And I forgot how stiff you get after riding in the cold rain.

So, I’m gonna be messin’ with my Di2 today. The battery isn’t charging at all. I guess I’m going to take the battery out of the seat tube and make sure it isn’t grounded or something. I might take it over to Richardson Bike Mart and see if they have that diagnostic tool to check it out. It is weird, but other than a frame breaking, I’ve never been in a situation where my bike doesn’t work and I can’t really fix it, or maybe, don’t know how to fix it. I guess as I get more familiar with the Di2 stuff, this will seem basis, but I haven’t learned this yet.

Okay, I’d better get on it. There is a local training race I was hoping on doing tonight, if the weather holds and I can get my bike working. It is strange, but I feel a weird uneasiness with my bike dysfunctional.

Update-All good on the Di2 front. Kevin at RBM hooked up the diagnostic equipment and tracked it down to the battery. Shimano sent him out a new battery, so he just pulled one out of stock (how many shops in the country have an internal Di2 battery in stock). So, I’m good to roll.

Bromont was chasing a duck through the neighborhood.

Bromont was chasing a duck through the neighborhood.

When it gets bad in the Dallas area, it seems pretty bad.

When it gets bad in the Dallas area, it seems pretty bad.

I saw this coyote a White Rock yesterday.

I saw this coyote a White Rock yesterday.

He finally ran off when I went back to check him out.

He finally ran off when I went back to check him out.

Water was pouring out of a pillar at a local shopping mall.  I have no idea what the problem is to have this brick column full of water, but something is really wrong.

Water was pouring out of a pillar at a local shopping mall. I have no idea what the problem is to have this brick column full of water, but something is really wrong.

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Kevin doing bench work with a computer.

Tour of California Mt. Diablo Finish – Live Video

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The finish of today’s stage of the Tour of California is at the summit of Mt. Diablo, near Walnut Creek. Click here for the Tour Tracker live video of the finish, which is within the next hour. I did a race up Mt. Diablo way back in the day. Photo below.

I have a better picture of this, but in the photo is George Mount, Dale Stetina, me, Bob Roll, Roy Knickman,  and others.  It is great seeing Peter Stetina riding the climb today, following in his father's footsteps.

I have a better picture of this, but in the photo is George Mount, Dale Stetina, me, Bob Roll, Roy Knickman, and others. It is great seeing Peter Stetina riding the climb today, following in his father’s footsteps.