Monthly Archives: April 2016

Season on Hold

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Okay, I got an offer, that for some reason interested me, so I’m going to put racing on hold for a few months.

I got a call from a reporter from the LA Times last week and did a fairly long interview about the Nicholas Brandt-Sorenson deal.  The story wasn’t so much on Nicholas selling doping products on the internet but was about the outrage about him holding so many Strava KOM’s in the LA area.

The reporter was asking me if the KOM’s were necessary for Strava’s business model and how much I thought that removing them would cost Strava’s bottom line.

I told him that I was kind of dismayed that the article wasn’t more about a master guy that didn’t hold a license, selling doping products.  And maybe even using them.  He said that was the premise.   I guess we were all still assuming that he was using the products he was selling to grab all these Strava KOM’s under the pseudonym Thorfinn-Sassquash.   I really have no idea if that is true.

The reporter called me up again yesterday and he has been in contact, multiple times, with Strava and they want to do a secret experiment.  At least that was how it was presented to me, but as I listened, the secrecy wasn’t really that important, thus, this post.

Anyway,  someone that knows me at Strava and this guy from the LA Times, they decided that they should fly me out to LA and pay me try to retake as many Strava KOM’s as possible from Thorfinn.  They are fairly sure that I am riding legitimately, ie, no drugs, and are interested whether I can retake any, most, or all of Mr. Sassquash’s KOM’s and how long it would take me to do it.

Obviously it wasn’t an easy decision.  They realized it wasn’t going to be a week proposition, so I told them I needed to drive out to California, to bring Tucker along, and get a place to stay semi-permanently.  Maybe I could set some KOM’s during races?

They said they would put me up in the Shade Hotel, Manhattan Beach, for two, maybe three months, and it was up to me to retake as many KOM’s as I could.  (The hotel has a killer breakfast buffet.)

I went to Thorfinn’s Strava page and saw that he has about 200+ more followers than a couple weeks ago when this all came down.  That old adage, even bad news is better than no news, or something like that ,is true.  Thorfinn set a new KOM on Tom Solane Trail Climb just yesterday.

So, I called the reporter back and told him that I would accept his offer.   I told him that they would need to find someone else to conquer the running KOM’s that Nicholas holds.  They weren’t so interested in those.  He said that the story would be on cycling.

He made sure that I was using a power meter and wanted me to record all the power numbers etc.  I told them that Strava did that already for me.   Another perk out the deal is that I’m getting a new Garmin 1000.  My old 800 is on its last legs and I didn’t think it would cut the mustard for this important endeavor.   We also talked about using a bicycle with a motor to see how many more watts it might take to reclaim the KOM’s that are too far out of reach for my meager abilities.  Seems a little ridiculous.   I don’t think that is a very  plausible idea?

I have a couple weeks to get everything in order.  I’m hoping to maybe race Joe Martin and then go out with some good form.

So,  I am going to be a the first professional Strava KOM reclaimer I guess. Not a bad gig.  Strava is sending me clothing.  I suggested that they get Thorfinn’s clothing company Brandt-Sorenson, to make the clothing(I’m interested in seeing what a $400 pair of bib shorts feel like), but I think they already have their own clothing.  Maybe I can get Nicholas himself to escort me on some of the segments?

I figure I can probably schedule 10 KOM’s per ride, so it will take me close to 90 days to try them all.  Some I might have to ride a few times, wind aided, etc., so maybe it might take a little longer.  I’m excited to be getting paid to do such an important task.    I’m hoping I can rally a few good riders to help me out later this month in the LA area.  Remember to follow me on Strava to keep up with my quest.

 

Heat map of the LA area. I'm studying it.

Heat map of the LA area. I’m studying it.

Tucker didn't like the idea of living in a hotel for 3 or 4 months very much. I guess it would be half of his life. (He is such an exhibitionist.)

Tucker didn’t like the idea of living in a hotel for 3 or 4 months very much. I guess it would be half of his life. (He is such an exhibitionist.)

 

 

Starting the Weekend Tired

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Thank god for the weekend.  Seems like there is too much stuff to do during the week.  I would normally rest up for racing on the weekend, but since I’m just mediocre, it seems responsible to be doing things now so I don’t have to do them later when I’m better than mediocre.

I rode pretty hard on Thursday, nearly 60 miles and it was super windy.  I was hoping to rest up some yesterday, but started a car project on Dennis’ van and it ended up being from 11 to 5:30.  It seemed pretty nice in the driveway when everyone was rolling up to ride and I was still dressed in street clothes covered in grease.  So I changed pretty quick and was just a little late.

I under dressed by a lot.  I thought it was in the upper 50’s and it was really in the mid 40’s.  My legs and hands were cold the whole way.  I never got warm.

Today is a local road/circuit race over by Lawrence.  It is only 41 miles and I was thinking about riding the 45 miles over there, but might drive.  I think I will maybe ride after the race instead of before.  I would sort of like to try to ride to the best of my ability and don’t think that would be after nearly 90 miles.  It is supposed to be much warmer today, so that is good.  Not hot, but in the 60’s.  Hot is tomorrow.  The forecast is for the mid 80’s.

There is a criterium tomorrow afternoon, so that should be interesting.  Flanders is tomorrow too.  I’m having to go with Sagan, even though I think that Cancellara should win.  I don’t think he can shake Sagan and Sagan will outsprint him.  I very much doubt Bonnen will be there. Greg Van Avermaet might be, then that will be interesting.  Sagan has been pulling with Cancellara this past couple months.  I doubt he’ll get so tired that he has a problem.  But it is a bike race and anything can happen.

Tucker has been great the past few days.  I took him to the vet and he gained 9 1/2 pounds the last 3 weeks.  He’s all done with his shots and is good to go.  He has been running with me on my bike, plus walking a couple times a day.  He is getting much faster.  About a mile an hour each run.  I’m keeping it pretty short until he grown up a little more.

Trudi is in Holland with the BMC Development Team.  She said that the guys are young and don’t get their legs rubbed except at races, so their legs are hard.  A Dutch guy that she is massaging won yesterday, so he has all the jerseys.  Kind of fun when that happens.  It is a three day stage race, so it is early.

Okay, I’d better get going.  Going out to breakfast with Dennis, Bill, Catherine and her mom.Then heading off to race.  I hope a few more guys show up.  I think there are only 2 pre-registered.  I’m hoping for 20, but don’t think that is going to happen.  This small races are really hard.

The BMC guy that won. Not sure of his name.

The BMC guy that won. I don’t know his name.

New rotors, calipers and pads on Dennis' van.

New rotors, calipers and pads on Dennis’ van.

Seems like I have been doing a lot of brakes recently.

Seems like I have been doing a lot of brakes recently.

Frankie and Tucker on Dennis' lap heading over to the trails to walk.

Frankie and Tucker on Dennis’ lap heading over to the trails to walk.

This is from two days ago. Tucker seems pretty scared when Hawkeye started barking. He is much bolder now.

This is from two days ago. Tucker seems pretty scared when Hawkeye started barking. He is much bolder now.

 

Race Weekend

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Bicycle racing is a weird sport.  You would think that I would have it pretty much figured out by now, but not even close.  Actually that should have been I would think that I would have it figured out, but not even close.

It is really a personal deal. Trying to figure out oneself is the key to success.  I’m sort of all over the place currently.  Sometimes I think it is an aging deal, but like I wrote last week, it really isn’t. I’ve been experiencing this fluctuations for decades, so you’d think I would get it by now.

I raced twice this past weekend.  Both races were part of the Jayhawk Cycling Classic.  There were no prizes and the entries all went to the Kansas University Cycling Team.   On Saturday there was a 41 mile road race, 5 laps of an 8 mile course.  Pretty windy and sort of hilly.  Sunday there was a criterium, more like a .8 mile oval with half uphill and the other half down-ish.  And it was windy, like super windy.

I’m not going through the whole race recaps.  On Saturday there were a little over 20 guys at the start of the 1/2 race.  Super early 8 of us rolled away.  It was nice being about to just ride hard and not really worry about playing cat and mouse.  I was looking for two hard days of riding and this was perfect.

What wasn’t perfect was how my legs felt.  Especially my left leg.  It seemed to be barely functioning.  It wasn’t good from the start and got worse at the end.  Finally on the final lap it was completely seizing up.  And it wasn’t even hot, mid 60’s.

I attacked the last lap and it was all getting sorted out and all of a sudden, one guy had rolled away and the remaining four of us were racing for 2nd.  And then my hamstring cramped and I pretty much pulled the plug.  I ended up 5th, not totally destroyed, but hurt.

Sunday Bill and I rode the 30 miles over to Lawrence with Keith and Dennis.  Same deal, really windy, mostly tailwind on the way over.  Dennis is approaching 100 miles for the year, so his first hour was hard because of the hills.  Did I mention it was in the mid 80’s.  It felt like the upper 90’s.

Dennis asked me why I was racing since I was sort of limping around.  I told him that I was just going to keep racing cramped, getting my body used to it.  No pain, no gain.

Actually, my leg felt pretty bad walking, but riding it was better.  There were the same 20 guys that were there the day before except the Olathe Subaru guys that had done the collegiate race were racing the 1/2 race.  Benn Stover had won on Saturday and Garrick Valverde won early on Sunday, so KU swept the events,  There were so many collegiate racers, super cool.

Same deal, the race split early.  I put out some big efforts to finally get isolated with 3 Olathe Subaru guys.  Next thing I know, Kent Woermann rolled up from behind, which surprised the hell out of me.  We were going pretty good and he bridged up solo.

I pretty much conceded instantly.  I was hurting pretty badly, hardly able to pull through and it was 4 against I.  I just told them to figure out where I was going to finish I and was good with that.  Like I wrote above, I was looking to ride hard and getting dropped and riding around alone wasn’t what I was looking for.

I started feeling much better after about 5 minutes, which was surprising, especially to me. Later on the last 1/3 of the race I wasn’t actually bad, close to okay.  I felt fine and was pulling fine.  I would have actually liked to have gone harder, but two of the guys had raced already and they were pretty tired.  Benn was riding super good though.  Eventually Garrick jumped away, then Kent jumped on the last lap and caught him and they let Kent win, which he was deserving of.  I finished 4th.

We split prizes equally, but since we were racing for glory that is what we split.  I figure I got the r.

Here’s what I don’t get.  Looking back on the power numbers, I was riding really well.  On Saturday, I had the highest power from 40 minutes until 1:50 that I’ve ever done.  And on Sunday, it was really good.  But I didn’t feel like I was pedalling good at all.  I was riding about as hard as I could go some of the time and it was super windy, so even drafting it was hard.

According to Strava’s formula for form and fitness I’m the fittest I’ve been since I broke my hip back in May of 2014.  I’m not sure I believe that, but I don’t really follow that much, so what do I know.

Anyway, Bill and I rode back to Topeka the 30 miles.  The problem was the wind was just getting stronger, probably close to 40 at times.  We went and got a cup of coffee, even though it was way too hot for coffee and then decided to ride gravel back, which is sheltered mostly.  Bill was on sewups and we were worried he only had one spare.

That wasn’t the issue.  I was riding my training wheels an the gravel was all new and thick.  I flatted 3 times, so both my spare tubes and one more.  Bill had some glueless patches from Planetbike.  I was interested how those were going to work.

The first one failed on a snakebite.  The next one held on a single hole.  I got pretty lucky that Bill had those with him.

Anyway, the weekend was good.  I feel better today than before the races.  I might have turned a corner on riding.  I felt pretty good riding back, my left leg was just catching, not seized.  And it was pretty hot the whole day, which is when I usually have troubles.  I returned from the race nearly 10 lbs less than when I left.  And I thought I was drinking enough. Guess not.

We ate Mexican last night.  Pretty great.  We split two pitches or beer, which I haven’t done in years.  I was thirsty and it went down easy.  I’m looking forward to training this week. I’m crossing my figures that maybe it is all coming together and I might actually be able to race and not just participate.

The Olathe Subaru TTT on Sunday. I am the little gray helmet on the back.

The Olathe Subaru TTT on Sunday. I am the little gray helmet on the back.


This was so good before we headed back to Topeka.

This was so good before we headed back to Topeka.


These patches saved the day.

These patches saved the day.


Truly Mexican.

Truly Mexican.


  
Garrick on the top step of the podium.  Jordan in 3rd.  

Hawkeye is saving me some of my blood. Tucker's baby teeth are razor sharp.

Hawkeye is saving me some of my blood. Tucker’s baby teeth are razor sharp.

 

 

Riding in “Team Formation” is Idiotic.

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Okay, by now, many of you have seen the self-inflicted carnage the BMC team suffered at last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.  5 guys down at once, Van Avermaet out with a broken collarbone.  It was pretty ugly.

This could have, and has happened, in race after race, to virtually every professional team riding World Tour races the past decade.  This isn’t unique to BMC.  I can’t stress enough that this tactic of riding in team formation throughout the race doesn’t work and is stupid and dangerous to the whole peloton.

I don’t really know who came up with this idea?  Whoever it was, did a real disservice to bicycle racing worldwide.  And why the other teams tried to emulate the practice I’ll never know?  Now everyone, from juniors to elite teams, watch it on television and think that is how it is supposed to be done. I can’t understand how everyone involved can’t see that it is a losing proposition if done throughout the season.

When Marcel Kittel wrote a Facebook post about safety in the peloton, he didn’t even mention the riders, or probably more accurately, the team directors, telling the riders to ride dangerously.  Trying to follow a team mate’s wheel is tough.  Try putting 5 of those guys in line and then say that you have to never leave your wingman, it will always cause conflict.  And when there is conflict in the field, everyone is twitchy, and riders fall.   Fighting for position, when it isn’t important to fight for position is one of my pet peeves in the sport.  Elbowing for no other reason than to elbow is idiotic.

The video below isn’t the best example of what could and does go wrong when a team lines up. The BMC guys are on the side of the field moving up in the wind.  This is over 100 kms. from the finish of the race.  More than 2 hours from the finish.  How many guys does it take to escort a rider to the front of the field?  Look at the field, it is 10 across, it isn’t close to going full gas.

Remember a few years ago at the Giro when virtually all the contenders of the race crashed and lost time early in the race.  Cadel had his team position him at the front the last hour of each stage and it seemed to pay off.  But in reality, he was the last man standing.  All the other teams were trying to do the exact same thing, but their GC rider fell.  So one guy staying upright and 5 riders losing time through crashing doesn’t make Cadel’s tactics correct.  The announcers kept saying that Cadel was so good at positioning and staying out of trouble, when in reality, it was just blind luck that he wasn’t one of the casualties.

And I hate to say it, once again, but radios play a big role in this problem.  What are the chances that the BMC guys would have all gotten together at this point in the race and decided to move up to the front independently?  Virtually zero.  Someone was talking into their ears telling them to do this.  I think one riders would have been sufficient to escort Greg up to the front of the peloton. When I hear riders saying the radios are there for safety, I laugh.  99.9% of the chatter going on isn’t anything about safety.  Much more of it is about doing stuff that is unsafe for the peloton. Information that makes riders make stupid moves.

There is so much collateral damage when these teams do this.  No one mentioned the Astana guy or the others that fell here.  It isn’t only the team that is riding in formation that falls, tons of other guys.  This just makes the peloton more twitchy, from the start, thus the race less safe.

You can’t regulate this tactic. No rule will cover who a rider chooses to follow during a mass start bicycle race.   The teams came up with this on their own and they need to quit doing it own their own.   They need to quit fighting for position when it isn’t important.  They need to think that they have the right to put their whole team at the front of the field when they aren’t riding in the wind.

If they want the benefit from not being exposed to other riders from other teams, then they need to be at the very front of the field riding hard.  Not riding at the edge or in the middle of the pack getting the benefit of the drafting.  It is lazy and stupid bicycle racing and the practice needs to stop.  I don’t see that happening though.

 

Look in this screen shot of the video how many teams are riding "in formation" on the interior of the peleton, riders on both sides of them. How impossible is it to follow one rider through the field for the whole race. Really impossible.

Look in this screenshot of the video how many teams are riding “in formation” on the interior of the peleton, riders on both sides of them. How impossible is it to follow one rider through the field for the whole race. Really impossible.

Tucker adores Hawkeye.

Tucker adores Hawkeye.

He is growing into a dog.

He is growing into a dog.

Annual Burning Rant

This entry was posted in Important Society Issues on by .

This is the time of the year that the state is ablaze.  Kansas is fairly unique in the fact that for some reason, I very much fail to understand in this day and age of pollution control and health, we decide to set the whole state on fire for a couple months.  We burn the fields for weed control and so the cattle gain weight through more nutritious greenery.

I do this every year.  If you have never experienced, you wouldn’t believe it.  It is sometime like England must have been back in the 1600’s when they were burning peat and coal for heat and cooking.  Most nights and morning I walk outside and it smells like there is a fire in the neighborhood.  We took Tucker and Hawkeye out west of town to walk and we could see numerous plumes of smoke surrounding the whole city of Topeka.

I wither in these conditions.  I’m normally in a slump and my throat is raspy nearly all the time. Even the advertising on the radio warns of the hazards of the “wildfires”.

These aren’t wildfires.  These are set by man to make money.  I wonder if someone could actually tally up the health costs compared to the money for the cattle, if it would be a wash.

Most of the burning around Topeka isn’t for cattle.  It is ditches, fields with no fencing, nearly anywhere that will burn.  These people are pyromaniacs and don’t understand the burning is for a reason and not for fun.

They aren’t supposed to burn if the wind is over 15 miles per hour, but these people totally ignore that law.  I just went and saw the Segwick County burning permit.  It is free.  Maybe if it cost something, less people would do it for fun.  On the permit is says – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FIRE, AND ITS SMOKE. If that is the case, then someone owes me a plane ticket to leave here for awhile, because their smoke is going into my lungs.

Yesterday it was pretty windy.  Over 30 mph.  But they still burned.  The fires west got out of control and they were talking about evacuating a town of 1000 people.  The governor declared a state of emergency and 15 fire districts responded.  WTF?  We’re starting fires and burning down our own towns so cattle get heavier?  Photos from the Topeka paper.

Man, if my house burnt down because of a grass fire that was set on purpose, then I would be pissed.  I wonder if they called and told them that they were going to burn.  I could hardly ride my bike, why would someone light a fire.

Anyway, this is going on for another month.  Eventually someone is going to address the situation.  But our political bodies are so fucked up, it won’t be for a long while.  In the meantime, the beat goes on.

We couldn't decide how to avoid the smoke.

We couldn’t decide how to avoid the smoke.

This is a small one.

This is a small one.

fire copy

Front page of the paper this morning.

Front page of the paper this morning.

Tucker and Hawkeye are super buddies now.

Tucker and Hawkeye are super buddies now.

But, Tucker needs his alone time now that he is a teenager.

But, Tucker needs his alone time now that he is a teenager.

My arms are a mess from playing with Tucker. Sharp teeth and claws.

My arms are a mess from playing with Tucker. Sharp teeth and claws.