Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Growler – 64 Miles of Bliss

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It seems like The Growler was a long time ago, even though it was just Sunday.   I have to say, honestly, I’d never heard of the race before.  I have been pretty removed from MTB racing on all levels, even though I did win Lutzsen 100 last year, rode Leadville, plus Chequamegon and Berryman.  The scene is so disjointed now that unless you are living the life, it is difficult to know exactly what is happening on a National level.

The Growler is two loops of approximately 32 miles.  The two loops are a little different, but the terrain is the same.  You ride up to a plateau and then ride undulating singletrack forever.  Mainly you are riding smooth singletrack through sagebrush, but every so often, like every mile or two the trail heads to a rock outcropping and it is pretty technical.   Not technical like Lake Wilson, large granite boulders with multiple lines to choose from.  Not knowing the correct lines is a big disadvantage.  But, for me, it didn’t really matter.

The race starts up a 5 minute, steep climb after a neutral 4 mile roll out on pavement.  No one was really charging early because the climb loomed ahead.  This is where the race was over for me.  I was hoping that I was going to be like last year and be okay at altitude.  I did alright in Winterpark and the GoPro games in Vail without being here.  That wasn’t the case on Saturday.

As I predicted, I crawled up the climb.  VIncent passed me about half way up and distanced himself from me.  As did nearly everyone else.  I was bad.  The problem was that after another mile or so, we turned into a very long singletrack area.  And a few guys ahead of me were pretty lousy at riding singletrack.  The front group of guys, like the first 1/3 of the field, disappeared into the distance.

So, I decided I was just going to enjoy.  I did a pretty good job of this. The open singletrack flowed wonderfully.  It was a blast getting back the skills needed to go fast.  The technical rock sections were a challenge in the masses.  Lots of walking, where it should have been riding.

Somewhere about half way through the first lap, I was walking in line, up a narrow rocky section.  A guy tried to ride a high line by us and screwed up above me.  He fell over into my bike, which jammed my pedal into my left shin.  I looked down a blood was streaming down into my sock.

I hate those shinbone hits.  They hurt like crazy and knot up.  I got on my bike a little bit later and my leg was still hurtin’.  Pretty soon I shook it off, but it took a while.

Just a while later, I thought I spotted Vincent up ahead.  He was way far away.  It took me a while, but it was Vincent.  I couldn’t believe that he could be blown at only 2 hours in.  I caught up with him and it turned out his fork on his new Scalpel  was blown and was locked down.  So his front end of his bike is 4 inches low, with no shock.  That would have been nearly impossible to negotiate.  It turned out to be.

Here’s how bad I was.  Kalan Beisel, who beat me last weekend by around 2 minutes in Lake Wilson in 2 :15, was 9 minutes ahead after 1:20.  At 2:30 he was 15 minutes ahead.  By the end I was nearly 40 minutes back.  Kalan finished 2nd again, less than a minute out of winning.

The next lap was hard. I would have been happy stopping at one lap.  It was already over 2:30 hours and I was pretty worked.  My lower back and back of my arms were sore. But, it was another lap.

At the top of the start climb, Vincent was standing at the top with a bottle.  He’d stopped to try to pump up his shock, with no luck, so he took a shortcut to feed me.  The lap was super fun.  I never got any worse and as the mile ticked off, actually felt a little better.  There was really no one to catch.  I passed a couple guys in the first half of the lap and then there was no one.

I thought I was riding the technical section better, I was, but towards the end, I started screwing up.  I think it was because I was tired.  I stopped at a couple feed stations and refilled my water bottle.  I never do that, but didn’t really have any reason not to.

So, that was it.  I finished 16th place.  I’m not sure how many people started.  There is a 350 riders limit each day, Saturday and Sunday.  On Saturday, it is only one lap.  Then on Sunday, it is the Full Growler, which is two laps, and then the overflow from the 1/2 Growler.

The trail system around Gunnison is super.  Super maintained and extensive.  It is a MTB destination for sure.

The race finishes out of town and then you just ride back to the start/expo area on your own.  It looked like it was going to start raining, so I figured I should ride back quick.  But, VIncent had driven the van over and I went over and wiped off.  I then realized that my shin scrape was a deep gouge.  Like stitchable.

So, VIncent drove to Walgreens and got some stuff to wash it out and I rode back.  The expo was small, but super fun.  Free beer to the finishers.  They actually hand you a $10 bill to go and buy food from the vendors there.  They had super burritos, and lot of other great choices.

I was planning on staying for the awards ceremony, but Trudi and just flown in from Winston-Salem and I was thinking I should address the cut.  So we started driving.

The drive back was good.  A little hail and sleet, then just scenic Colorado.  The drive from Gunnison back to Denver goes through a bunch of Colorado that a lot of people don’t see that much.  No destinations there, but small towns that face harsh conditions in the winter. I like it.

Brian and Michelle Jensen were at Vincent’s too, along with Trudi.  They are shopping for a house to buy.  Brian is starting a new job on Monday, after the Dirty Kanza next week.  They are a little stressed by the prices, which I understand.

We went out and rode North Table Mesa yesterday.  First Vincent and Trudi rode on a tandem, then we all went out and rode our own bikes.  Brian, Vincent and I rode a little further and faster.  I ended up with over 3 hours again.  Not exactly rest.

We are heading back to Kansas today.  Trudi has to fly to Belgium tomorrow from Kansas City. Then get in a car and drive from Belgium to Southern France.  Man, her schedule is crazy this year.

These guys were ripping it up at the front. Bryon Dillon, Ergon in front, won, just ahead of Kalan Beisel. Kalan's wife, Amy, won the woment's race, just a few minutes behind me.

These guys were ripping it up at the front. Bryon Dillon, Ergon in front, won, just ahead of Kalan Beisel. Kalan’s wife, Amy, won the woment’s race, just a few minutes behind me.

There were tons of places like this.

There were tons of places like this.

And narrow sections you had to snake through.

And narrow sections you had to snake through.

Typical Gunnison.

Typical Gunnison.

NO one has ever given me lunch money after finishing a race.

NO one has ever given me lunch money after finishing a race.

My chainstay at the finish.

My chainstay at the finish.

Ouch.

Ouch.

I had most this stuff with me.

I had most this stuff with me.

I hadn't done this in a long time. Actually, since I use to race MTB full time.

I hadn’t done this in a long time. Actually, since I use to race MTB full time.  Outside magazine did an article about me stitching myself up once.  It isn’t that hard.  Tying the knots is the hardest part.  

It turned out pretty good.

It turned out pretty good.

Trudi and Vincent on the tandem.

Trudi and Vincent on the tandem.

We ran into this guy riding yesterday on North Table Mesa.

We ran into this guy riding yesterday on North Table Mesa.

 

 

 

 

Dave Wiens

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I raced The Growler MTB race in Gunnison yesterday.  I don’t have enough energy to recap that right now, so I thought I would post about the promoter, Dave Wiens.

The race was a blast.  I decided the last minute to do this event.  Vincent was doing it, so I texted my friend, Dave Wiens, who I knew would know about the race.  It turns out that Dave is pretty much the race.  At least the go-to guy.  I know races like The Growler takes a huge group effort.

I think I first met Dave back in 1990.  That was the first year that I kind of really raced MTB professionally.  I think Dave was riding already for Diamondback.  I went to Race in the Sage and I distinctly remember Dave racing in high black socks, on the road.  He should be credited for breaking the trend of white socks only.  Plus the sock height.  He never wavered on this, even though it took cycling nearly a decade to catch up with him.

At the criterium, he was all over the place.  I’m not sure that he had ever raced a criterium.  I couldn’t understand how a guy that was so good handling a MTB could be so green on a road bike.  Most everyone else in the race had raced on the road before coming to MTB racing.  It was peculiar that he started off-road.  At least it was then.

Dave was, and still is, a true-born mountain bike racer.  He lives the lifestyle and is beyond passionate.  He is the nicest guy with always something positive to say.

I remember the World Championships in Italy one year.  I had no idea how I had finished and found the results and was super surprised that I finished in the top 20.  I had started dead last, 150 guys back, because of flatting twice in the qualifying race.   I never knew I had passed enough guys to get an okay result.

Looking at the results, Dave was way back, like in the 60’s maybe 80’s.  I believe he was US National Champion that year.  I saw him and asked him what happened.  He said he just had a bad day.  I asked him why he didn’t just quit and he said something that I practiced, but had never articulated.   He said that he kicks these guys asses all year, all over the world, and that it wouldn’t be fair if he just quit.  He said that the other riders deserved to beat him when he was having a bad day.

That is true.  My mantra is I don’t quit a race unless I’m sick or hurt.  KInd of the same thought, but he said it way better.

Dave won Leadville 5 times or so.  We were inaugurated into the MTB Hall of Fame together in 2000.  We didn’t know that we had to do acceptance speeches.  Ned was introducing me and Daryl Price was doing it for Dave.  They told us about 20 minutes before the event that all four of us had to speak in front of all our peers.  Daryl amazingly scored a bottle wine that we shared, to take the edge off.

Anyway, in my speech, I used Dave as an example of what a MTB racer is.  A guy that appreciates everything involved in the sport.  I told a story of the first time I raced Chequamegon. Dave came and was then flying to the World Championships right after.  Marty Jemison, who was riding for the USPS, dropped all of us pretty early.  I hung with him the longest, but eventually got popped.

I was riding on Phipps Fire Lane and Dave comes riding up.  He says something about how crazy strong Jemison is.  Then proceeds to kill me.  RIding on the first section of Birkie Trail, I could barely stay on.  After OO, we were told that we were only 40 seconds back.  When we got on Bodecker, we could see Marty behind the motorcycle.  I started pulling we were going hard.

There was a steep sandy descent that went down to the lakes.  It has since been removed.  We were hauling down this, nearly, singletrack descent and next thing I know, Dave’s rear wheel is pretty much in my face.

He was going over the bars and I was plowing into him from behind.  I hit him and flipped over and tumbled down the hill.  I was maybe ten meters below Dave and couldn’t really see anything because I had so much sand in my eyes.  I looked up and Dave was on his hands and knees, gasping for air.  He had landed on his back and all the air got knocked out of his lungs.  I got up and went back up to help him.

Eventually he got breathing normally and I went down and got my bike and found my sunglasses.  Dave was messing with something I told him I was going to get going.  He said he’d catch up and that he was fine.

I started riding along, pretty slowly, not really able to breath.  My upper back was killing me.  I just kept riding slow and Dave never came.  I was a mile or so up the trail and thought that I should turn back around and go see if Dave was okay.  I figured someone else had came upon him, but still was worried.

Eventually Dave came riding up, all happy.  I asked him why it took him so long and he said that he started off and then realized that he didn’t have the stick that had flipped into his front wheel to cause the crash.  He said that he had a little shrine or something in his basement that he kept the important memories of his adventures and that the stick had a place there.  I thought it was nuts.

Dave just went back to the front and started pulling again.  We were still racing for 2nd.  When we got to the Seeley Fire Tower climb, the last real place to make a selection, I was hoping that Dave was going to just ride away from me.  I was feeling badly that I was going to beat him when he pulled virtually the whole race.  He didn’t and I started stressing.

Luckily for me, I flatted on the last section of the Birkie Trail.  It really was a relief.  I would have hated out sprinting him under those circumstances.

I ended up breaking 3 ribs.  The next day, I went over to the Sunday fun day events at Telemark and Dave was there.  He had already done the bike orienteering event, the log pull and all the other events that no other serious bike racer would have even considered.  He was digging it. Remember, he was flying over to Europe to race the World Championships the next day.  I remember envying him, thinking about how different our mentalities were at that time.  I would have already moved onto the Worlds and he was living in the moment then.

Dave finished super good at the Worlds that year.  I’m not exactly sure, but maybe 12th or so.  I think he was the best American rider.  Drugs had already infiltrated the MTB scene, so 12th would have been an incredible result.

Anyway, I was stoked to see Dave this weekend.  He was out on the course, at a feed station on my 2nd lap, then at the finish.   I talked to him a little after the race and he is the same passionate guy. Just as passionate about putting on a super race that supports local trail development as he was racing.

The sport could use a lot more Dave Wiens.  The world, in general, could use more guys like him.

Dave and I after the race yesterday.

Dave and I after the race yesterday.

 Dave all bandaged up on the podium after the race.

Tucker and Nikola play tug-of-war all day now.

Tucker and Nikola play tug-of-war all day now.

 

7 am Start -The Full Growler – Ouch

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The Full Growler MTB race this morning isn’t going to be the same as as a real full growler.  That is unless you happen to down a full growler at 7 am this morning instead of riding 72 miles at 8000+ feet.  The race is only 64 miles and it is 4 miles out to the course, neutralized of course.  Then 4 miles back to the post race party.   I am pretty sure I am going to be wasted by noon.  Probably closer to 1pm.  The race winning speed is less than 13 mph historically.  That is pretty slow considering there is only 8000 ft. of climbing total.  Only 8000 feet.

We drove from Arvada to Gunnison, super slowly yesterday.  Everyone and their toys were on the road to head up into the mountains for the Memorial Weekend.  We then met up with a couple of Vincent’s team mates and rode a bit of the course.  It is a bit intimidating.

After the paved neutral section, you turn right and immediately head up a kilometer steep hill.  Like close to 20% steep.  It is hard.  I plan to crawl up the climb, in just a little while.  I mean as easy as I can stay upright.  I’ve found that if I go over the redline, at altitude, not acclimated, it takes forever to get going normally again.

We just rode over the hill a bit and did the last descent into the finish area.  I think the trail was called Rattlesnake.  It was a difficult rated trail and I think it was rated correctly.  This race is going to be a heads up MTB race.

I don’t think I can be competitive here, but I’m looking forward to the race.  I told Vincent that I am pretty happy that he’s riding the whole race and not the 32 mile race.  I figure that if I totally suck at the start, I have a goal trying to catch up with him.  And if I am ahead of him, and blow, then I can look forward to Vincent catching up with me.  These scenarios don’t work out if we both suck.  I don’t think Vincent is going to have that issue.

Last night was the first night I’ve spent away from Tucker since I met him.  But he was in good hands, hanging with VIncent’s wife, Lisa, and their two dogs, Nick and Jack.  Plus Brian Jensen and his wife Michelle drove out to Vincent’s yesterday, with their two dogs.  So, it was a little doggy sleep over last night.

Trudi is flying driving from Pro Nationals, at Winston-Salem, to Denver this morning.  She is arriving at 10 am.  We left my van for her, so she can just get it, drove to Vincent’s and hang with Tucker until we hobble back later.  I brought her MTB out, so she can ride a day or two before having to head back to Europe on Wednesday.  Some time off.

Okay, it is cold out.  Like mid-30’s cold.  It is supposed to get up to the mid 60’s by the afternoon.  I plan to be done by then.  Actually, I know I’m going to be done by then, probably applying in more than one way.

Lots of cable on the front of my bike. Two extra for the fork and rear shock lockout.

Lots of cable on the front of my bike. Two extra for the fork and rear shock lockout.

My bike. Dual suspension Eriksen, 27.5, Full XTR with Fox fork and rear shock. Maxis Ikon tires, 2.2, front and rear. Somewhere between 20-25 psi pressure.

My bike. Dual suspension Eriksen, 27.5, Full XTR with Fox fork and rear shock. Maxis Ikon tires, 2.2, front and rear. Somewhere between 20-25 psi pressure.

Heading out for the pre-ride. The start climb is in the backgroud.

Heading out for the pre-ride. The start climb is in the background.

Pretty magnificent vistas.

Pretty magnificent vistas.

I hope a lot of the course flows like this. Here is Vincent riding.

I hope a lot of the course flows like this. Here is Vincent riding.

I'm going to carry a full bottle of this juice. Ned sent me a link to a test that supposedly proved pickle juice helps with cramps, so I'm all over it.

I’m going to carry a full bottle of this juice. Ned sent me a link to a test that supposedly proved pickle juice helps with cramps, so I’m all over it.

How about this photo, crash at the finish of Iron Horse yesterday. Ned is back on the right, finishing in 3rd, Todd Wells of the left in 4th. Haven't talked to anyone about it to see what happend.

How about this photo, crash at the finish of Iron Horse yesterday. Ned is back on the right, finishing in 3rd, Todd Wells on the left in 4th. Haven’t talked to anyone about it to see what happened.  It would have been Ned’s 6th win if you could have pulled it off.

Tucker can play all day when given the opportunity.

Tucker can play all day when given the opportunity.

 

 

Gunnison Bound

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I did the drive out to Arvada yesterday.  It was pretty painless.  Lots of rain.  I was in Eastern Colorado at around 84 mph  and got passed by two motorcycles going at least 40 mph faster than me.  They disappeared up the road instantly.  That would make the trip from Topeka lots shorter time-wise.

The traffic in Denver was bad.  It was only 2 and everything was stopped in I-70.  I still got to Vincent’s just in time to go for a ride.  It was already in the lower 50’s and dropping.  We rode over to South Table Mesa and by the time we got to the top, it was in the lower 40’s and raining. So we cut our ride short and headed back, just missing getting totally drenched.

We’re gonna pack up and head to Gunnison in a hour or so.  They are racing on the course today, so there is no reason to get there too early.  Me and altitude don’t normally get along so well, so I’m going to be interested seeing how this worked out tomorrow.  Right now I’m planning on the start slow and finish fast tactic.  And by slow, I mean pretty molasses slow.  If I go over the limit early in an altitude race, when I’m not acclimated, it takes forever to recover. Plus, the race is long, 64 miles, over 5 hours.  I might just be here for the ride, it really doesn’t matter.  It is going to be great either way.

Changing the subject, how about two races yesterday.  The Giro and Pro National Time Trial.  At the Giro, Nibali had been completely written off and took advantage of a crash by the pink jersey and now is just 40 seconds out of winning the whole thing.  Nibali was supposedly sick and the Nibali was rumored to being pulled out of the event.   Guess that was all make believe. I’d bet he wins the race overall today.

At the Pro National Time Trial, the results were predictable.  Taylor Phinney on paper was the best rider and he won the event.  The one glitch in the event was that is you notice here in the results, Daniel Eaton was DQ’d from the race.  The problem was that he turned around at the marked turnaround and that “the real” turnaround was up over a short hill, out of sight.  In the race bible it was marked at a different place and during the pre-ride, lots of the riders were turning around where Eaton turned.  How screwed up is that.  I talked to Trudi and she said that the BMC guys were mixed up too, during the race.  Can you imagine the outcries if Taylor would have been the one turning around early because of confusion about the turn around. Completely unacceptable.

Anyway, the final climbing day of the Giro is going on right now.  It’s the last climb, 15 km to go. Should be an interesting finish.

Missing Snake Alley.  Only so much time and so many places you can be. 

Podium for the Pro National Time Trial yesterday.

Podium for the Pro National Time Trial yesterday.

Not bad view to wake up too.

Not bad view to wake up too.

Tucker has been playing with Nick for over 12 hours now.

Tucker has been playing with Nick for over 12 hours now.

 

 

Decisions, Decisions

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Man, decisions, decisions.   I have toiled the past few days about what to do this weekend. I over think things like this as soon as I get it caught in this endless loop thing that sometimes happens.

So, I made a decision.  A big part of that was riding yesterday.  I started out around noon, I was just going to ride for a couple hours, then I got caught by this storm.  Really super early in the ride.  I didn’t mind, it was close to 80 and I like riding in the rain.  But then it started hailing.  It was small at first, then started to sting.  So I turned back and headed home.

I figured I should take a serpentine route home to practice cornering in the rain.  I was having a hard time committing my whole weight to my outside pedal.  It is weird.  I know that is the only way to ride fast in the wet, but when you are apprehensive, there is something that stops you from total commitment.

I was getting more confident, then the tornado sirens went off.  I had to cut my rain training short, just because.

I had planned to go up to Burlington Iowa and race today, then do my favorite race of the year, Snake Alley.  But the forecast shows rain the next four days.  I can’t deny that the forecast is big weight on the decision-making process.  The last time I tried to race up in Iowa, in the rain, I had hip surgery the next day.   I have to admit I’m a little spooked about it.  Spooked enough to drive to Colorado and do a 64 mile MTB race with Vincent.

So, I’m driving to Arvada Colorado this morning and then to Gunnison tomorrow morning for The Full Growler.  I contacted my friend Dave Wiens, Mr. Gunnison himself and he got me squared away in the race.  It is two, 32 mile laps of a pretty technical course.  I figured since I’m not acclimated at all, I should just start the race slow and try to ride into it.  That is probably the best tactic for a 5+ hour MTB anyway.  I historically don’t do too well at altitude initially, but I’m doing it for the life experience, not for the result.

I did ride 4.5 hours on Wednesday, on gravel, with Brian.  He is moving to Colorado in two weeks, boo.  But, he is doing the Dirty Kansa 200 mile gravel race two days before he goes.  He only got in a little over 100 miles on Wednesday, but it was hot and humid.  Not super hot, but a lot hotter than it has been around here so far this year.  I was pretty done at the finish.  I drank 5 big bottles, plus a 52 ounce Gatorade and came back 9 pounds lighter than I left.  It would be impossible to drink enough to keep the water weight on in those conditions.

Anyway, Tucker and I are heading west.  Tucker needs to met Vincent’s new dog, Nick, plus Jack, his older puppy.  Brian is driving out on Saturday to house shop on Sunday and Monday.  I have a van full of Brian and Michelle’s bikes to move to Colorado.  Trudi is flying to Denver on Sunday morning, after Pro Road Championships, from Winston-Salem.  So the travel plans are complicated and set.

I hate missing Snake Alley, plus the new Davenport Criterium in the Quad Cities.  Both those courses are super and suit my abilities.  I eventually hope to regain my rain riding confidence.  It just isn’t going to happen this weekend.

Then the next couple weeks are jammed.  Tour of Kansas City starts next Saturday.  It is both days.  The Friday before is the Oklahoma Pro-Am, NRC race.   Then back out to Colorado on Sunday, after the criterium, to hang in Breckenridge with a gaggle of friends for the week.  Then back to Tulsa for Tulsa Tough on Friday night. Pretty crazy travel schedule.

Alright, I need to pack up and get driving, so Vincent can school me on South Table Mesa this afternoon.

SInce the sirens were blowing, I turned on the TV to check out the situation. This was just west of Topeka. It was ugly.

SInce the sirens were blowing, I turned on the TV to check out the situation. This was just west of Topeka. It was ugly.

I found this little guy in the middle of the road riding on Wednesday. I moved him to a pond.

I found this little guy in the middle of the road riding on Wednesday. I moved him to a pond.

Then I came upon this guy. He was mean, as all snapping turtles are. If he wasn't on a bridge I would have just pushed him off the road. I had to pick him up, trying not to get clawed. I dropped him off the bridge into the flowing water below. I don't like snapping turtles at all.

Then I came upon this guy. He was about a foot across.  And he was mean, as all snapping turtles are. If he wasn’t on a bridge I would have just pushed him off the road. I had to pick him up, trying not to get clawed. I dropped him off the bridge into the flowing water below. I don’t like snapping turtles at all.

Tucker is moving kind of slow this morning.

Tucker is moving kind of slow this morning.

 

 

Cycling Shoes

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It is funny how a mind works.  Yesterday I was looking for some cleats and found an old pair of Shimano shoes.  I was horrified.  They were so beat.  I can’t believe that I rode them until the point they looked like this (photo below).  The soles are split and I had to cut the front from my big toes.

Anyway, on my ride, I was thinking about how many different pair of cycling shoes I’ve gone through and how they have progressed.

I started out of some old Ditto Pietro Italian shoes.  I’m don’t think the first pair were labeled Colnago, but very early on I wore Colnago branded shoes.  They were horrible.  At least compared to modern day shoes.  They were made of leather, with laces, and you had to nail the cleats on and then bend them over.  This was in the toeclip days.

I went through quite a few pair of Colnago branded shoes.  My good friend, Ed Bauman, worked at Celo Europa and I got them cheap through Marcel there.  The shoes were so flexie that they would break my toe clips.  Especially when I started riding aluminum clips.

I went from these POS shoes to Duegi.  I don’t think the first Duegi shoes had wood soles, but very early on they went to wood.  Talk about a difference.  The wood sole was about as stiff as carbon now.  It was crazy how big a change it was.

On a side note, after getting my Duegi shoes set up and realizing they were going to work, I took my Colnago shoes out to my backyard and chopped them up with an ax.  I hated them that much.

All the shoes, up until this point were black.  We would get them super small and carry a water bottle full of water and alcohol to spray them over and over so they would stretch to fit.  It you didn’t do this, when you rode them in the rain, the shoes would get larger, super sloppy.  Our shoes fit like tight gloves.

I raced Duegi shoes for quit a while.  Georgio, from Gita Sports, was the sponsor of the Levis team for a long time and he imported the shoes.  They were great.

Our team director, Michael Fatka, didn’t like the look of the black shoes with our kits, so he spray painted his white.  And that got an idea going and pretty soon Duegi made us white shoes.  So we have Michael to thank for the start of non-traditional cycling clothing.  He was the first to come up with kits matching bikes too.

Nike made me a pair of custom off-road shoes.  They were really for cyclo-x.  Trip Allen, a local bike racer from Wichita, worked for  Nike and made me custom shoes.  I think these were really the first shoe made specifically for cyclo-x or off-road riding.  They were pretty unique.  I had them and loaned them to Trip for a Nike exhibit.  I wonder what happened to them.  I’d like them back.

And Puma tried to copy Duegi with wood soles one season.  They supplied the US National Team one year.  Miji Reoch was working with Puma.  The day after Tour of Texas one year, everyone was hurt from the post race partying.  We had early morning National Team photos scheduled.  Miji handed out new Puma shoes to all the riders.  The problem was that they made the wooden sole with the grain of the wood running perpendicular to your foot, not parallel.  If you rocked on the shoes, they snapped in half.  All our shoes were done after the photo shoot. We thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, going from Levis to Schwinn, I think I kept riding Duegi shoes.  That was until Thomas Prehn, who rode on the Schwinn team with me, started working with Nike.  Nike would sponsor us with something like $3000 worth of Nike product to ride their shoes.  They weren’t very good.  You’d think that a shoe company like Nike would be able to come up with a good cycling shoe.  They never did.

Then one year, Mike Farrell, our team director from Schwinn, said that Schwinn was branding their own shoes, and he would pay us $2500 to ride the Schwinn shoe for the season.  They were bad.  Light, nylon shoes, lace up.  I think I had to modify mine some, but thought that $2500 cash was better than $3000 worth of Nike product.  Plus, I had all the Nike stuff I every could have used.  At the end of the season, when Mike and I were renegotiating contracts, I reminded him he owned me $2500 for wearing the shoes for a year.   I thought it was going to be a problem, but he just said he would have it included in my next paycheck.  And he also said he couldn’t believe I could wear those shoes for the whole season.  No one else on the team did.

Then Shimano started making shoes.  They had some Japanese engineers fly around the world, to the races, and made images of our feet.  And they made shoes.  Like the best shoes, from square one, ever made.  Sidi made some good Italian shoes then, but Shimano was better. They used different materials, not leather like their Italian counterparts.  They fit and wore better than any other shoe up until that point.

I’ve raced Shimano shoes pretty much from then on.  The first Shimano MTB shoes was not so great.  They used Velcro straps that didn’t stay on when they got wet and muddy.  I was racing my first real MTB National, in Mt. Snow Vermont and stepped into a deep mud hole.  When I retracted my lower leg from the hole, no Shimano shoe.  I think I had already taped the shoe on with electrical tape.  That was the best tape they had back then.  Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled putting it back on.

When I was riding for Specialized, I had a shoe contract with Shimano.  Specialized didn’t make shoes.  But I had a contract that I needed to wear everything Specialized sold.  Then they came out with MTB shoes.  I was stressed.  They shipped a giant box to the Cactus Cup in Scottsdale for us to race.  The shoes had plastic bottoms.  When we mounted our cleats on the bottom and then clipped in, the durometer of the plastic was off, so the cleats spun.  Each and every pair.  We even tried to heat up the cleat with a torch to melt it into the bottom, but that didn’t work.  I forgot how many pairs that Specialized had made, 10’s of thousand and they didn’t have hardly any pairs returned.  I thought that was impossible.  They were unusable.  It just showed me how knowledgeable the average cycling consumer was at that time.  I kept riding Shimano shoes.

Now the modern day shoes.  The soles stiffness is key.  Now it is carbon or super hard plastic.  I can’t really tell the difference between the two.  It seems to me that a R171, Ultegra version of the Shimano shoe is as stiff as a the R321, which cost twice as much.

Other than the soles, the closure systems have improved a ton.  Some companies, like Giro, have went retro with laces again, but Boa and the normal ratcheting systems most shoe companies use are way, way better.  I’m not so sure about the Boa system.  It seems like a lot of people I ride with have the nylon string break.  I know it is fully replaceable, but that seems like a hassle.

The markings on the bottom of the shoes make it much easier to position cleats when getting new shoes.  It seems like such a no-brainer, but they didn’t do that for such a long time.

Anyway, shoes have improved a ton over the years.  They are good memories.  I’ve went through 100’s of different pairs of cycling shoes.  I remember the shoes I loved and especially the ones I hated.  They all bring back good memories though.

The Shimano shoes I found. I'm not sure why I still have these?

The Shimano shoes I found. I’m not sure why I still have these?

My first shoes were something like this. They probably looked like this too.

My first shoes were something like this. They probably looked like this too.

I didn't realize that Detto still made shoes. They look pretty nice by the photo.

I didn’t realize that Detto still made shoes. They look pretty nice by the photo.

 

The original Shimano M100. The top strap wasn't that great.

The original Shimano M100. The top strap wasn’t that great.

The first white Duegi shoes. They had wood soles, then went to nylon.

The first white Duegi shoes. They had wood soles, then went to nylon.

Modern day Shimano R321 shoes. A big advancement from the Detto's.

Modern day Shimano R321 shoes. A big advancement from the Detto’s.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday Night beer night at PT's. It was long for him. He eventually ditched to cycling crowd to go hang out at the other end of the patio with a group that had a Chihuaha.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday Night beer night at PT’s. It was long for him. He eventually ditched to cycling crowd to go hang out at the other end of the patio with a group that had a Chihuaha.

 

Jaksche Velonews Interview on Doping

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I thought the interview that Velonews did with Jørg Jaksche was pretty good.  I think it is good to hear the impressions of ex-pros that have no stake in the game.  They are few and far between. Most guys that retire have something to protect.  Their current cycling job, their results, or maybe just their self-esteem. Jørg seems to be in a situation that he feels comfortable commenting publicly on the current situation in cycling.

I pretty much agree with just about everything he says.  This question/answer is the important one –

VN: So you insist that it’s naïve to believe that today’s winners are clean?
JJ: I often hope that things are as good and perfect as they tell us, but to be honest, the guys are racing faster today than when everyone was on EPO. Genetics doesn’t change in 10 years. Should we believe it that they are suddenly as fast as when EPO was widespread? You have to make up your own mind.

That is kind of just guilt by intellect. It is the same thought process that the French press were using pertaining to Lance.  You are beating a bunch of guys that are doping, so how can you not be doping.  They were right, as it turned out.

I like the line “genetics doesn’t change in 10 years”.  He could have gone a step further and said that the same guys that were winning ten years ago are still at the top level now.  A few of the riders named in Operation Pûerto have retired, but look at Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) win a couple days ago at the Giro.  He had to serve a timeout because of Puerto. Now he is sitting 3rd overall in the Giro, with just a few days to go.

It is naïve to believe that the same riders that were the best when they were taking drugs could or would be the best riders that aren’t taking drugs.  Just as naïve thinking that the speeds and recovery in the races are faster and better because of technology or nutrition.  Show me what these guys are eating that the rest of us aren’t.  Even if they are eating the freshest organic food in existence, I’ve seen many a great athlete chow on McDonald’s hamburgers and then kick ass.

When I went to see the Garmin team pre-Tour testing, Tommy D. was telling me that I needed to eat a ton of coconut oil and then take saunas after my ride to build up more red cells.  And look what Tommy D. was really doing, taking synthetic testosterone.   Video below of what Tommy is doing currently.

Everyone is trying to persuade us all that everything is hunky dorky.  Paul Sherwin, announcing, for the Tour of California, was talking about Bradley Wiggins and how he lost 7 or 8 kilograms to transform from an Olympic Pursuit Champion to a Tour de France champion.  That is such bullshit.  It was more closer to 15 kilograms or over 30 pounds.  I’m not going with his 71 kg weight at the Tour, he was much lighter.  By his own account, he has gained over 11 kilograms back since winning the Tour of California in 2014.  That is going from 156 to 183.  It is much easier to put that weight on than just spot remove it.   (And yes, I know, Bradley Wiggins has never tested positive.)

The point is that if our announcers are still minimizing the amazing facts about what historically happened, then the sport is ultimately screwed.  It would be like the Major League Baseball announcers talking about Mark McGwire’s 70 home run season .

Okay, enough.  Click on the link above and read Jørg’s Velonews interview.  It mirrors pretty much my current views on most aspects of the sport.  Or maybe more accurately,  sports in general.

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Tucker doing his creepy walk approaching a butterfly.

Tucker doing his creepy walk approaching a butterfly.