Monthly Archives: March 2016

Riding Scared

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Cycling is a pretty intense sport.  One that can/does take some “guts” to participate in.  In reality, it is relatively safe.  I mean that you would think that by watching it, everyone involved would be getting hurt on a pretty constant basis.  That isn’t the case.  Of course, we all do get hurt sometimes, but a casual observer would think that it would be constant carnage.

To get over the fears that one might have in the sport, repetition is what cures it.  Doing the same thing over and over again until you feel you are proficient at it.  Once you have confidence in a certain aspect of the sport, it comes much easier.

A few of the people that I’ve ridden with over the years have talked to me about trying to regain their confidence.  They haven’t been racing that much and riding much more alone.  They feel that they have lost the ability to ride tightly in a pack of cyclists.

A friend said that he was racing Master’s Nationals and the start was straight down long descent.  He said that he and a few other guys were hanging towards the back, scared and next thing they knew was that they were on the flats, 10 seconds behind.  But that 10 seconds turned into an hour chase.  My friend said he was super fit, but was blown by the time he got back to the climb to the finish.

I understand the worries.  I have to admit that I have no desire to race a wet criterium with left corners.  I do not want to fall on my left hip that I broke a couple years ago.  Not that I think that it is going to explode if I fall on it.  It is more an ingrained fear, emotional fear, not intellectual.

One thing I know in cycling is if you are riding scared all the time, the sport isn’t going to be enjoyable for you.  I’ve seen many good professional riders lose their confidence.  That is the start of the end for them.  When they feel that they are taking too many risks for the benefits, they make an intellectual decision to quit.  But it is really an emotional decision.

I was, and still am pretty much, never the best athlete in the races I compete in.  I have to try to compensate for this by riding smarter and by using my abilities better than the other guys I’m racing against.  This is one of the things that attracts me to the sport so much.  The best cyclist, truly the best rider, doesn’t have to be the best athlete, normally.  He has to be a very gifted human, but being the fittest in cycling doesn’t make you the winner normally.  You have to have more in your package than just the genetics.

Anyway, my friends that have been questioning their peloton riding, descending and such, shouldn’t stress about it so much.  I told them to just do the repetitions, put yourself in the situations and that will eventually become the new normal.

I always do this when I start questioning certain worries I have in the sport.  People always are saying it is because you are getting old or ask what do you expect now.  But I can look back upon all the years I’ve raced and realize that I sometimes had similar problems when I was a teenager, or in my 20’s or 30’s.  Eventually it all comes around.

If you didn’t start racing until your 30’s or 40’s, don’t think that it is not coming.  It is just a matter of time and repetitions.  That is why I encourage most new guys, that are super into the sport, to race as much as possible.  You can’t absorb the information in front of you when you are riding afraid.  You need to be comfortable before you can get to the next level, where you make more observations, learn more and then progress to the next level.

And I don’t think that there is a top level or end here.  I can’t think of anything I can do on a bicycle now, or have ever been able to do that couldn’t use some improvement.  I’ve done some pretty incredible things on bikes, but nothing close to perfect.

It is sort of like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Work for the perfection.  The job is very rewarding.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

jls

Tucker gets so tired sometimes he sleeps with his tongue hanging out.

Tucker gets so tired sometimes he sleeps with his tongue hanging out.

He's a pretty happy puppy.

He’s a pretty happy puppy.

 

Daily Routine

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I’m kind of all over the place nowadays in general life. It’s that time of the year where it seems I really feel like racing/travelling, but am not really to the physical point yet.

I took Trudi to the airport yesterday to fly to Belgium.  Actually, she was supposed to fly to Belgium, but ended up flying to Paris because the Brussels airport is still closed after the bomb attack.  The day went pretty quick and she was pretty emotional about leaving Tucker.  She is gone for a little over a month.  Doing a couple races in Belgium, then flying to Italy and taking a car to Sicily to go sit on top of Mount Etna for a three week training camp.  Glamorous job, huh?

I have over 4000 miles for the season and feel like I’m riding like I have 400.  There are lots of reasons this could be, but I don’t know of any one for sure.  I’m having a few physical problems, mainly from my broken hip deal, so I guess I’ll start addressing them one at a time and see if I can fix it some.  Plus, burning in Kansas this time of the year seems to get nearly everyone run down.  It is like allergies, burning and such all come at once, so once the end of March and April is over, then I start feeling better.  That is a long time to be mediocre.

I’m been doing a bunch of car stuff.  Put new brakes on the diesel van and AWD Town and Country.  That is a pretty rewarding job.  Neither of the vehicles has much, if any rust, so the bolts come off easy and there isn’t any hangups.  I’ve been buying parts at Advanced Auto Parts online.  There is always a 20% off coupon, P20, so everything is always on sale.  Plus they give you a $20 coupon for every 100 you spend.  Their prices  tend to match Rock Auto and other internet auto supply places.

Bill’s engine is on an engine stand.  We’ll probably start that pretty soon.  It is going to be a big job I think.  I know nothing about changing an engine in a Honda Odyssey, but I guess I will.  I had to buy a special tool to hold the crankshaft pulley to change the timing belt and water pump.  I probably could have gotten by without it, but I hear that Honda crankshaft bolts are put on super tight.

Dennis is driving down here from Cable to escape the winter there.  He usually makes a pilgrimage about this time of the year.  He just got back from Europe himself, so he is jet lagged. The weather is supposed to be pretty nice, so he’ll get some miles on his bike.  Plus, he’d bringing Hawkeye, so Tucker will have a playmate.

I was thinking about going to Arkansas to race this weekend, but there are two races in Lawrence.  A circuit race and then a criterium.  I should probably stay local when I’m just getting by physically.  There is really no need to travel when I’m just going through the motions.

Okay, I’d better go ride.  It is supposed to storm later today, later this afternoon.  They are calling for large hail and strong winds.  That isn’t good.  I love storms, but I’m not too big on hail, for obvious reasons.

I've been using this app on my phone, checking my heartrate and HRV. So far, I'm not too impressed. It says I'm ready to go when I'm dragging in the morning.

I’ve been using this app on my phone, checking my heartrate and HRV. So far, I’m not too impressed. It says I’m ready to go when I’m dragging in the morning.

New brake rotors are satisfying.

New brake rotors are satisfying.

I just used a come along to winch the engine up to put it on the engine stand to work on it.

I just used a come along to winch the engine up to put it on the engine stand to work on it.

I have to chance the timing belt and put on a new oil pan before we start the real job of installing it.

I have to change the timing belt and put on a new oil pan before we start the real job of installing it.

Honda crank tool.

Honda crank tool.

 

We had a few friends over for Easter dinner. Made quiche.

We had a few friends over for Easter dinner. Made quiche.

One thing about the burning is that the sunsets are stellar.

One thing about the burning is that the sunsets are stellar.

Trudi holding Tucker on the way to the airport.

Trudi holding Tucker on the way to the airport.

Tucker usually falls asleep with his rabbit in his mouth.

Tucker usually falls asleep with his rabbit in his mouth.

Professional Rider Safety Issues

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This last few days has been sad for the sport of bicycle racing.  Three riders have died this past week while racing.  Two riders in Europe, then another rider here in the US.  This isn’t normal and it does give one some chance to think about our dedication and participation in the sport.

The death that seems to be getting the most attention is that of Antoine Demoitié.  He was hit by a race motorcycle after crashing with 3 other riders during Gent-Wevelgem.

One other young rider, Daan Myngheer died after suffering a heart attack at the Critérium International.   Then 29-year-old Randall Fox, an Oregon State Ph.D. student, died after crashing in Washington.

Man, how tragic for all involved.

All people that make their living racing bicycles have to have been affected by this.  All riders that have deep love of the sport and spend most their waking hours breathing and living the sport, are in the same situation.  It makes us all rethink the risks we’re willing to take to participate in a sport.

Marcel Kittle wrote a long post on Facebook that mainly addresses the safety issues and mainly the death of Antoine Demoitié.  His post is here.   This is probably a good time to address perceived problems that our sport has.

Marcel seems to be mainly concerned with outside sources.  He goes on to name the situations and riders that have had accidents from race motorcycles and such.   In his post, Marcel makes this statement – Cycling´s biggest problem was doping and still has to be fought. But the safety issues that are obvious, should get the same attention and priority as the fight for clean sport.

Marcel has good/great intentions here.  He is expressing his concerns over the safety of all involved.  But this line is too strong for my liking.  Safety issues getting the same attention and priority as doping is a dramatic statement and if he truly means that, he is posting from an emotional stance and not an intellectual one.

Marcel states that bicycle racing has always been a dangerous proposition.  I agree with this completely.  But saying that a rider should be more concerned about crashes from outside sources, ie. road furniture, race caravan, etc,. is shifting the safety blame to another subject.

He says – There is a difference between riders crashing in the last hectic kilometres of a race, fighting for the right wheel before the sprint and riders crashing because of unsafe road furniture, reckless driving of motorbikes or cars, extreme weather conditions and unsafe race routes.

I disagree with this.  Riders crashing and getting hurt are guys getting hurt.  It really doesn’t matter when or how it occurs.  I see no less tragedy in Antoine’s death and that of Randall. Both died racing their bikes.

Like I said, Marcel has super intentions here.  And he is a sprinter.  He expects, and seems to enjoy, taking risks at the end of a race.  But the races have become more dangerous throughout the races, not just at the finishes.  Crashes are happening from kilometer one all the way to the finish.  And most of these crashes are because of the riders conduct, not the courses or the caravan.  If Marcel thinks that the safety of the races need to be addressed then all safety problems need to be addressed, not just those for “outside sources”.

I don’t call race motorcycles or follow cars outside sources.  When we enter these races, we are fully cognizant that these safety issues are present.  The bigger the race, the more automobile and motorcycles that are going to be around.  Professional races are funded by television.  And television dictates, at this time, that there are going to be motorcycles on the course.

It wasn’t like the driver of the motorcycle that hit Antoine wasn’t experienced.  It was reported that he had a 20 year history driving in races.  It was just an accident.   The bigger the sport, the more television, the more extra vehicles.

Accidents are accidents.  Unless Marcel wants to be racing bicycles on the same track made specifically for cycling and have not other vehicles on the course, then this is always going to be there.  Whenever there are a lot of competitors packed into a small group, traveling 25-60 mph, then accidents are going to happen.

I don’t like having so many vehicles on the courses when I race.  I make it a point to never drop back into the caravan unless I have a mechanical and can’t avoid the situation.  Riding back in the race caravan is dramatically more dangerous than riding in the peloton.

I agree this is a good time to address all safety concerns of professional racing.  The sport has become more dangerous, in my opinion.  And most of the added danger has been advanced by the riders and teams themselves not the “outside sources”.  And when the professionals accept more danger, then the trickle down effect goes into play and all the all the other races become more dangerous.

I wish Marcel would have included something in his post about riders taking more responsibility for the safety of each other.  The tactics that the professional teams have used, and have evolved, cause way more safety concerns that those of what he is addressing.

I wonder if Marcel would enter a night time criterium in the rain?  I doubt it.  Each and everyone of us has their level of risk they are willing to take.  Cycling isn’t for the faint of heart.  Each and everytime we clip in, whether it’s a race or just out training, we take a certain risk.  That is the way of life in general.

Safety has been ignored for a long time. And this, is a good time to do that.   If we’re going to be addressing rider safety, all rider safety, not just that of the professional riders, then we need to do it from the ground up.

Most of the danger in cycling isn’t new. Each and everyone of us needs to look out for the safety of each other.  Riders looking out for the safety of other riders is way more important than anything the UCI can come up with by making new rules.

Remember this from the Tour a few years back? Johnny Hoogerland after getting run off the road by a race vehicle, into a barbed wire fence.

Remember this from the Tour a few years back? Johnny Hoogerland after getting run off the road by a race vehicle, into a barbed wire fence.

A puppy picture is now mandatory. Tucker will chew his tail if no toys are available at all times.

A puppy picture is now mandatory. Tucker will chew his tail if no toys are available at all times.

Master’s Doping Different Takes

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Another master guy was suspended from the sport of bike racing last week for doping.  Michael Buckley, of Reno, Nevada was suspended after testing positive for anabolic steroids.  He had both anastrozole, LGD-4033, and ostarine in his system, whatever those are.  He is out for 4 years.  So, this is the 2nd doping story in the past week or so concerning master bike racers.

Bob Roll did a couple of his BobkeTV segments on these stories.  The one on Michael is below. In his video posts, Bob is sticking with the theme that there is no reason for a master to cheat doping.  He doesn’t outright say it, but he implies that there is a certain justification if you are getting paid money, ie, a professional, to dope, but your are supposed to be having “fun” racing when you are a master.

I like the stance that Bob is taking on the stupidity of the actions.  But I have to disagree with the logic that getting paid money differentiates professionals and masters in the doping problem.

Bob should know as well as anyone out there that most of us don’t race bicycles for the money. The environment has changed a bunch recently, with the current professionals thinking they are above the rest of the non-paid cyclists, but deep down, they all know they are just one paycheck from racing for Cliff Bar primes.  And most of the guys I know, would do just that, race for peanuts, because it isn’t the paycheck that rewards them, it is the lifestyle.

So Bob is implying that master riders that are serious, don’t have the same desire to win, etc. as a professional is just plain dumb.  And they do follow by example.  When all the professionals do something, then the masses follow.  And masters bike racers tend to have more available funds to spend on getting faster.  Better bikes, more use coaches, plus, now we’re finding out, using drugs.  I think pretty much straight across the spectrum, that guys will dope for their own various reasons, and most of the time it doesn’t have much to do with the money. I know a ton of masters that are way more passionate about the sport that nearly all the “professionals” I know.

This whole masters doping thing isn’t a surprise to me.  I see these guys throughout the country and am amazed that they feel comfortable looking like doped bike racers.  50 years old, a body fat of 4% and veins on their muscle bound legs that look like vines.  It just isn’t normal.

I wonder how this guy got popped?  Someone must have narc’d on him.  He was caught in an out of competition test last December.  That is super weird.

I don’t think that some guys getting caught are going to discourage other masters from staying on their “program”.  I’m sure that they feel much better in real life and are trying to avoid the inevitable gravity of aging.  So, in reality, they have a better justification to dope, it is a two-fold deal.  Go fast on a bike and pretend you are younger.

I think it is a losing proposition, but people are people.  But let’s not try to say that one guy has more of a reason to cheat than the next.  The guy on Wall Street that is stealing millions of dollars should be thought of worse than the guy stealing a Colt 45 down at the convenience store.  Let not try to glorify illogical thinking.

Colt 45

 

Tucker likes to sunbathe in the afternoon.

Tucker likes to sunbathe in the afternoon.

Easter Sunday

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Today is Easter and it snowed here in Topeka last night.  It is strange waking up to snow when you don’t expect it.  It has been such an unusually warm February and March that you think that snow is all done.  But, it is supposed to be in the lower 50’s later this afternoon, so it won’t be around too long.  We got a ride scheduled for 2 pm.  It should be dry by then.

Yesterday I rode over to Lawrence to finish up the Spring Fling Criteriums.  I really didn’t feel much like racing, but Brian texted me and said he was going, plus we were having a new young guy, Alex Hoehn ride with us.  So I decided to suit up and ride over.  Bill has been sick and wasn’t racing.  Catherine had to do a women’s clinic later in the day, started with me, but turned off after about an hour.

It was a tailwind over and I started feeling better about the day.  If you start skipping racing when you don’t feel that great, then you’ll miss a ton of races.

That is one of the best things about our sport.  There is a social aspect that I don’t see in other sports.  And there is a lemming deal where people tend to just do it because someone else did. These two things get people out the door when the couch looks way more inviting.

The race went fine.  I am riding very mediocre and it was a struggle.  I ended up getting 3rd in the race, riding off the front with Michael Allison, Garrick Valverde and Connor Brown the last half.  I don’t think any of us were going that well, but Michael and Garrick are a ton faster sprinting than me right now, so I was always getting third.

Bill rode over and rode back to Topeka with me.  We went a little out of the way, riding Brian and Alex back towards Lawrence, so I ended up with close to 90 miles.  That was 90 miles I didn’t really expect when I woke up in the morning.

Tucker is great.  He twisted his ankle on some ice in Chicago and has been a bit gimpy.  It is a pussy when he gets hurt, or even thinks he might get hurt.  But playing, the dog is fearless.  You can toss him across the carpet and he will come back at you crazy.  He is very fun.

Okay, watching the end of Gent-Wevelgem.  20 km to go and Cancellara is off the front with Sagan.  Hope you all find a bunch of eggs today.

Easter snow on the tulips.

Easter snow on the tulips.


Our four up break.

Our four up break.


The "podium".

The “podium”.


Tucker pointed for the first time yesterday with his paw up.

Tucker pointed for the first time yesterday with his paw up.


It must have taken a bunch of energy because he was dead tired after the race.

It must have taken a bunch of energy because he was dead tired after the race.

 

Brad Bingham, from Kent Eriksen

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Here’s a short-ish video from a local Steamboat Springs station interviewing Brad Bingham, the welder of Kent Eriksen Bicycles.  Kent Eriksen won the best gravel/cross bike and best TIG welded bike at the NAHBS.  Anyway, Brad is a great guy, super smart and talented.  He is the absolute best in the business welding titanium.  This is his bike in the segment.  Pretty cool features with the custom cranks and internal hydraulic brake routing. The chick interviewing Brad is a trip.  Nothing like small mountain town media.

Tucker likes to be high up when he can.

Tucker likes to be high up when he can.

Breakfast Challenge

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I’m driving from Chicago back to Kansas right now.  Trudi’s nephew, Parker is turning 21 this weekend.  It’s about 9 hours back.  355 was closed because of a fatal traffic accident, so we had to drive on surface roads to get going west.

Anyway, right across the street from Trudi’s mom’s house they tore down a pie resturant and built a new McDonalds.  It was right about 10:30 when we started driving.

10:30 used to be the witching hour when McDonalds stopped serving breakfast.  Traveling, that was always a time to break up the morning.  I don’t know how many drives I would start early, then drive a few hours, looking forward to getting take-out breakfast. The key was trying to get there just a minute or so before lunch started. 

Now, McDonalds serves some sort of breakfast food all day in most places.  I don’t like it.  No driving game. It takes a nearly mandatory stop out of play while traveling.

I know a lot of you are judging my breakfast choice. There are plenty of food items at a McDonalds that are fine to eat. The movie Super Size Me was a complete fabrication of what would happen if you ate at McDonalds for a month straight.  It was a movie about gluttony.

There is plenty of breakfast foods that are okay for racing   Scrambled eggs, yogurt parfaits, pancakes, etc.

The real reason to eat at McDonalds is the speed.  When I’m driving, time is valuable.  And during races, especially when I’m traveling with a bunch of guys, the extra 40 minutes of sleep supersedes the food quality.

Okay, I’m posting this on my phone and it just posted on its own.  Frustrating enough I think I should just be done and enjoy the drive. 


  Trudi made Parker a pillow out of a crashed BMC jersey. 

  
 
Tucker is pretty comfortable behind the seat.