Monthly Archives: December 2014

Cyclists made S#%* for Salary

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

The title to this post is very accurate.  We, cyclists, make shit for salary.  Compared to nearly any other professional sport, cycling is on the low end of the pay scale.

There is really not fairness in sports in general.  There is a huge disparity in what different athletes get paid for what they do.  American sports, ie,. baseball, basketball, and football, plus football (soccer) in Europe, make much more money than all other sports.

There is a guy in baseball, Giancarlo Stanton, that just signed a contract for $325 million dollars.  Yeah, that isn’t for one year, it is for 13, but the number is staggering.  But, you don’t have to go the top to get to a staggering number.  The average baseball player makes over $3,000,000 a year.  That is average.

I remember talking to Thomas Frischknecht at the MTB World Championships in France, about 15 years ago.  He was here in the US on day one when mountain biking started getting traction.  He was so amazed how much more money was in the sport and how well we were all doing.  He was sponsored by Ritchey, Oakley, maybe even Google too(I’ve been corrected, it was Yahoo Sports).  He was making good money compared to other cyclist, road too.

I told Thomas that if you added up the salaries of all the 200 guys on the start  line, it wouldn’t equal the salary of one, just one major league baseball player.  And it has only gotten worse.

But, then compare our sport to nordic skiing.  There are a few skiers that make a living, but not many.  A couple Olympic’s ago, I could have sponsored, personally, myself, a woman that was skiing in the Olympics, for $5000.  She would have skied around with my name on her.  That is about the same as what I got paid for sunglasses when I was riding MTB bikes.  Crazy.

The baseball player, Stanton, that is making $325,000,000.  His contract is most likely bigger than the total budgets for all professional cycling for a year.  That is all cycling teams- Sky, BMC, Astana, Garmin-Sharp, etc.  That isn’t just the salaries of all the professional cyclists.   It is the salaries for the riders, the support, all the plane tickets, team buses, cars, everything.

I think this is a big reason that the professional teams started Velon, a joint venture to drive the development of the sport.  Personally, I don’t think they are going to have too much success.  I think that cycling attracts a lot of quirky characters and that it is going to be very hard to get all these guys thinking global and not selfishly.  I hope they are successful though.  Cycling is a very difficult sport and the riders deserve to make a decent wage.

The UCI does have a miminum salary.  I think it is 27.500 EUR for a Pro Conti Team and
30.000 EUR for a Pro Tour Team.

But those minimums don’t apply to most of the riders here in the US.  Most the domestic pros, here in the US, are not making anywhere near mimimun wage.  The majority of guys aren’t getting paid $1000 a month. Some just a couple hundred a month, or nothing at all.  Some profession.

Cycling has historically been a blue collar sport.  It pretty much still is.  There are a few guys, very few, that can save enough, during their careers that they can retire with enough money to really retire.   The rest of the riders are doing it for the love of the sport.  That says a lot.

baseballcontracts copy



Finishing Other People’s Jobs is Thankless

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Why is it that it is so unrewarding finishing someone else’s job?  I’m not sure that I’ve ever done a project, that was a continuation of project that someone started and baled, and ever been very satisfied.

I think it is because that no one really does anything exactly the same and that there are many ways to get to the end result of a project.  The problem is that when someone starts something in a specific way, you need to be thinking like them to get to the same end result that they envisioned.  And you might not have that vision in you.

I got thinking about this because I started, or more accurately, got involved in tiling a shower in Lawrence, that someone else had done the shower pan and cement board.  They wanted a no sill shower, a smooth transition.  They make a flush drain, a trough that would have been perfect, but the guy before me thought he could build a smooth little berm between the shower and the bathroom floor.  He did that, but he didn’t get any grade on the shower pan. And he didn’t know that the drain could be adjusted up and down, so it was mounted about 3/4″ too high.

So, yesterday, I chiseled out all the surrounding concrete, and lowered the shower drain, then tried to tile the floor so the water flows towards the drain.  I’m not sure how it is going to work.  I think there might be a couple low spots, which would be a total failure, or at least not good.

What I really needed to do was to knock out the whole thing and just start over.  Get the right drain and do it right.  That might still be what is going to happen.

I’ve run into this so many times.  Guys that have started working on their cars, or bikes and then get frustrated and quit.  A bike usually isn’t so difficult.  There isn’t much on a bike that I don’t know about.  But, someone cross-threads their bottom bracket or something and then calls and asks if I can “help” him install a new bottom bracket, when he already knows that he has jacked it up.

It’s much worse with cars.  I hate showing up to help someone fix their car and there are a ton of nuts and bolts laying around.  I pretty much need to remove them to know where they go back.

Michael Fatka had a sign like below at his shop, Michael’s Cyclery in Ames, Iowa.  I didn’t appreciate it as much back then as I do now.  The last number isn’t a big enough jump.


I put in the other floor next to the shower, so felt some connection to the project.  The other floor has electric heat and is nice.  You can't tell how little slope the shower floor has here.  Maybe 1/8" per foot if I'm lucky.

I put in the other floor next to the shower, so felt some connection to the project. The other floor has electric heat and is nice. You can’t tell how little slope the shower floor has here. Maybe 1/8″ per foot if I’m lucky.

I should of just put one of these in and got rid of the curb.

I should have just put one of these in and got rid of the curb.


USAC Changes Stance/Ruts and Guts

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I saw that the USAC changed their line in the sand qualification process for the Elite race at Cyclocross Nationals in Austin and now allows for a rider to petition to get into the event.  I was a little pissed initially, but then reconsidered.  I was being selfish.

I have pretty much written off the cyclocross season.  I knew, at best, I might, just might be able to race by January, and not a day before.  And I only wanted to race the Elite race, not the Master’s, if I had to make a choice.  But, since I didn’t race last season, and now not again this year, I wouldn’t have been in the top 90 of the rankings or have a UCI point, so I couldn’t compete.  Now, I guess I could/can.  It  made me a little mad that they announce this just a little over a month ahead of the race.

But, it is a good rule and I applaud that they reconsidered.  Better late than never.  There are other guys like me, riders that race in Europe and don’t have any UCI points, riders hurt early season and are just recovering by January, and others that have peculiar problems that need to be taken into account.  The rule is good.

If you want to take advantage of this exclusion, you need to apply by December 20th, after December 10th.  The specifics can be found here.

Down in Broken Arrow, near Tulsa, this weekend, they are holding Ruts and Guts Cyclocross races.  The races are on the National Racing Calender this year, and next season, are going to be UCI races, so they are going through the stages to grow.  I’ve done the race a few times and it is a blast.  I think the racing in Tulsa will be a lot like it will be in Austin in January.  There is a little Ruts and Guts logo above that is a link to the races.  You can also click here for the race specifics.    Tulsa is a cool place to hang out, so if you have the opportunity, you should try to get over there.

I ran two miles the other day.  Well, I “ran” two miles 100 meters at a time, pretty much stopping when I started limping badly.  But I ‘m going to stay at it.  I think the impact is good for the muscles surrounding my hip.  The bone is healed now, but my muscles aren’t working well yet.  It is amazing to me that it is such a slow process.  Attrification of muscles starts as soon as they aren’t used.  It’s pretty hard to get them back to normal.


It's not going to look like this in Tulsa, or Austin for that matter.  But, it is supposed to be pretty nice this weekend, in Tulsa, 50's.  I've done the race when it was in the 90's.

It’s not going to look like this in Tulsa, or Austin, for that matter. But, it is supposed to be pretty nice this weekend, in Tulsa, 50’s. I’ve done the race when it was in the 90’s.



Drug/Dope Testing is a Joke in Sport

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I saw an article over at Velonews, then went to The Guardian, citing a German TV documentary that had done investigative reporting on a systematic doping program throughout the sport’s programs in Russia.  They say that maybe 99% of the Russian athletes that competed at the  recent Olympic Games were doping.

99%.  That is a very inclusive number.  Even if this number is off by a factor of 2 or 3, which I very much doubt, it just goes to show that all sports are super polluted and that the whole system is very much broken.  Like catastrophically.

I know, by personal observation, and studies, how much better today’s doping products make an athlete.  So when the Russians don’t sweep the podium in all the sports it shows that they aren’t the only ones using drugs.

And how many positive tests were there?  It is hard to find, but here at Wiki, they show around 15 athletes were caught doping before or during London.  And there were 8 caught in Sochi.  Only one of those 23 were Russian, a discus thrower.

Russia led the medal count at their Olympics this past year.  And not one of their athletes tested positive.  And the documentary says that 99% of their athletes were doping.

I’ve said it before and now I’ll just restate it again, in complete, utter disgust.   Dope testing is not a viable way to control the use of drugs in athletics.  It doesn’t work and catches only the stupid and unlucky ones.  Very, very few.

But, we knew this already.  That is one thing that the whole Lance thing showed us is that the testing isn’t catching anyone.  Not Levi, or George, Dave, Tommy, Ryder, Christian, Kevin, Lance, not one of them.  So why should it be any different in all sports, including cycling, still.

Lance told me this spring, when he called me, that he “didn’t want to burst my bubble, but all great cyclists doped”.  Merckx, Hinault, even Andy Hampsten.  I told him that I didn’t have any personal knowledge of most of those guys, but very much doubted that Andy took anything to race bicycles.   I don’t doubt that most cyclists took drugs, historically, but the drugs only got out of control since he had been competing on a Professional level.    It got to the point of where you were not even close to be competitive if you didn’t participate in doping.

Now this.  In cycling, all the riders are trying to convince the public that the sport is so clean.  But, 99% of the Russian athletes, which I assume includes all the Russian cyclists, are on a doping program.  And the Russian guys aren’t smearing all the other professionals cyclists, so it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that cycling still has big issues.

After hearing of this, former WADA president Dick Pound said. “Somebody’s got to come up with an answer.  If something of this nature is being organized in any country, it’s a very serious problem for the credibility of international sport and the credibility of anti-doping efforts.”  Yeah, sports have a credibility problem.

It is really all a shell game, with us, the athletic community, riders and fans holding the empty shell.



Winter Mileage Rule / Sunflower Bicycles Annual Holiday Party

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Yesterday was the Sunflower Holiday party.  To me, it sort of kicks off the Christmas holiday season.  It seems about right to start thinking about Christmas two or three weeks ahead of time.  Forget this Christmas in November thing.

Anyway, I got a little behind and didn’t get a chance to exercise, so I decided to ride the 32 miles over to Lawrence, at night, on gravel.

It was in the lower 30’s and it got me thinking about my winter mileage rule.  Which is – one mile for every degree temperature it is, in Fahrenheit.   So, if it is 30 out, right around 30 miles, 18, then 18 miles, 60, then……..yep, 60 miles.  Pretty easy and a pretty good rule of thumb.  When it starts getting way below 30, in the teens, I usually only have an hour or so in me, on the road, before I start seizing up, so I’d usually ride off-road, then the rule doesn’t apply.

Anyway, I rode on gravel down along the river and at about 30 minutes into the 2 hour ride, my headlight went dead.  And it was cloudy, so the big moon out right now, wasn’t.  I could see okay, but I really wouldn’t have been able to make out a huge stick or brick in the road, if there was one.

About 1/3 the way there, I catch a movement from my left and next thing I know, there is, what seems like a huge deer, jumping right in front of my bars.  The deer jumped onto the road and then must have seen me and jumped again as we were on a collision course.  I can’t really say if the deer was one foot in front of me or 3, but it was really, really close.  I instinctively looked to my left, fully expected a second or third deer to be barreling into me, but there was only one, to my relief.  The episode gave me a jolt of adrenaline, which lasted the next few miles.

So, I got to the party a little late, but that was fine.  I got to catch up with a bunch of guys I hadn’t seen in a long time since I haven’t been going to the races.  Plus, I got to see the people that I only see once a year, at this party, which is the real reason I go.

Anyway, the party was a great success, once again.  Dan Hughes, proprietor of the Sunflower, plans the party out the whole year and other than running out of red wine, it was perfect.  Dan is a star in the new Specialized catalog,  Specialized did a full expose of Dan and his Dirty Kanza exploits.  Dan has won Dirty Kanza 4 times, I believe.   He put it on the map and now it is a bucket list race for many.  Here is a write-up he did after this past year’s race.

It is raining today and sort of chilly, so I’m glad I got in a couple hours yesterday, plus got to catch up with so friends.  We ended the day at Freestate Brewery, with Matt Gillhausen, from TradeWind Energy,  barely getting there by 10pm for the last of the dinner menu.    All around, it was a pretty good day.


Dan, Shadd Smith and myself catching up last night.

Dan, Shadd Smith and myself catching up last night.


A photo of Dan from Dirty Kanza that Specialized used in their catalog last year.

A photo of Dan, from Dirty Kanza, that Specialized used in their catalog last year.


They picked right.

They picked right.





Hands Going Numb Riding

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I’ve been having trouble with my hands going numb while I‘ve been riding recently.  It’s not numb from cold, it’s numb from pressure.

Most riders have had this issue before I’d think.  I don’t remember having it when I first started racing, but it seems to be way more common now.

I’ve especially had trouble with my right hand.  It first started, sort of consistently, after I crashed pretty hard, on ice,  at the Jingle Cross, maybe 5 years ago.  And now, this winter, it has gotten much worse.

Lots of guys have problems with their hands going numb racing.  I remember riding the Athen’s Twilight Criterium a while ago and it seemed that everyone around me were taking their hands off the bars and shaking them.  That is from doing the death grip while racing.  But this is different.

I’m not sure the problem is position when I’m riding. I think it might be my position sleeping.  I think that most of my issues are from sleeping with my elbow and wrists bend, or curled.  I believe that I’m injuring my nerves when I’m sleeping and then it shows the symptoms when I’m riding.

I got this idea from Robbie Robette, a friend from Austin.  He’s a pretty smart guy and was having the problem.  He said that he somewhat fixed his issues by trying to sleep with his arms straight, or at least not curled up tight.

Here is a link to an article about hand numbness.  There are a couple nerves that make different parts of your hands go numb.   I have different sensations, sometimes it seems like the ulnar nerver, other times the median nerve.

I also notice the problem is worse when I’m wearing thicker gloves.  I’ve been wearing some Pearlizumi PRO winter gloves recently.  They are super warm, but I have a very hard time holding the bars tight, or more accurately, the levers tights, when I’m riding.  It is because the inside of the gloves kind of move around and the lining is slick compared to the outer shell.  They are way better riding MTB bikes than holding my road levers.

Whatever the reason, it is a drag having numb hands when it is cold.  It disconcerting trying to tell if they’re numb from cold or pressure.  With pressure, if I just take them off the bars for a few seconds and rub my fingers together, the tingling goes away and it feels normal.

If anyone out there has a “cure”, or solution for this, many of us would like to hear it.

These are the fingers that normally go numb, but not always.

These are the fingers that normally go numb, but not always.


These are the gloves I've been riding.  They are super warm, but my hands kind of squirm around in them.

These are the gloves I’ve been riding. They are super warm, but my hands kind of squirm around in them.



Holiday Horse Parade, Then Tiling

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I’m nearly becoming more of a tiler than a cyclist.  At least it seems that way.  I sort of like tiling, but not enough to want to do it constantly, like for a job.  I like it because it takes a bit of intellect and there is always a small quirkie problem that needs to be addressed.  Plus, you can see your progress easily.

I don’t like it because of the time you end up spending on your knees.  Even with really great knee pads, my knees are mad at me.  I am going to to today off.  12 hours yesterday was enough.

Before tiling, there was a Holiday Horse Parade in downtown Lawrence.  I think this was the 22nd year for it.  That is a pretty long run.  Anyway, it is a really great time.

It wasn’t a great day for a parade, kind of cold and damp, but that didn’t seem to keep people away.  Mass St. was jammed.  I’m not sure how many different horses and wagons they had, but it was just enough.  It lasted about 45 minutes and everyone had a great time.

It is still damp, but it is supposed to be in the mid 40’s, so I’m going to try to do the “winter rule” and get in a little over 2 hours.

These little horses seemed too small to be pulling this big man and wagon.  It is a really nice wagon.

These little horses seemed too small to be pulling this big man and wagon. It is a really nice wagon.

I liked these guys a lot.

I liked these guys a lot.


Miss Rodeo Queen.

Miss Rodeo Queen.

Little horse with a bigger girl.

Little horse with a bigger girl.

Final carriage had Santa on it.

Final carriage had Santa on it.


Bromont wasn't all that interested in the horses.  He is more into birds and little small critters.

Bromont wasn’t all that interested in the horses. He is more into birds and little small critters.


Start of the shower.

Start of the shower.

I finished nearly all of it last night.

I finished nearly all of it last night.