Monthly Archives: July 2016

2016 RideLondon-Surrey Classic Live

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England has really transformed to bicycle friendly since the dominance of the Sky guys at the Tour the past 5 years.  Chris Froome is racing this morning.  The race was stopped 47km in because they were catching up with the Tour, which has 10’s of thousand participates.  There are a lot of link to the race. The live streaming was supposed to start at 9:30 CST, but since the race was held up, they seem to be behind.  I’m sure they will start the streaming soon, so pick one and sit back and enjoy.   Links to race.

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Rainy morning at Starbucks in Topeka. It is clearing though and we have a ride scheduled for noon.

 

My Brother Invented Bar Mounted Index Shifting

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Yesterday’s post about innovation in cycling got a lot of responses from guys about what changed their riding experiences the most.  Innovation in the mechanical aspect of the sport is a big part of why it is appealing to some of us.

There was a comment from Aki and he said – “I tried to make up for my pedaling deficiencies by using technology. The first trick was the Leonard Nitz inspired right side bar end shifter. I could out jump others because I was in a lower gear then out sprint them because I was in a higher gear.”

I thought that was a good observation, but it wasn’t accurate.  My brother “inspired” the indexed bar shifter.

It was in the mid 80’s and I have already won cyclocross Nationals a couple times.  We were riding friction bar end shifters back then.  Then Shimano came out with their index shifting or SIS shifting. Index shifting is where there is a positive click, where you don’t have to adjust the gearing in the back manually.  This was in 1984 I think.

The first time I saw index shifting was on Greg Demgen’s bike.  He and Marianne Berglund had went to Japan for a Shimano race and when they returned, they both had SIS shifting on their bikes.  It was 6 speed back then.

I rode on the Levis Professional Team at the time and we were sponsored by Shimano, so soon we all were riding “the new” shifting.  This was pretty much the start of the demise of the domination of racing equipment by Campagnolo.

The Levis Team went defunct, so I started riding for Schwinn.  The Nabisco criterium series was going on then and that was a focus of the team, so we were racing a ton of criteriums. I started thinking about using my cross set up on my criterium bike.  But there were only fiction bar end shifters.

I was talking to my brother, Kris about it, and he went and took a pair of downtube SIS shifters and fabricated a mounting boss.  He flipped the right downtube shifter upside down  and all of a sudden we had a rear bar end shifter with index shifting.  My brother made other guys on my team some shifters.  I think that Tom Broznowski and maybe Alan McCormick (anyone know Alan rode the Tour of Spain?  I didn’t.) were riding them too.

Leonard “Harvery” Nitz,  was primarily a track racer, who rode for 7-11, and was going over to Japan to do the fall Shimano race there.  This was in the late 80’s.  I think Wayne Stetina called and asked me about getting Leonard a index shifter for the right side.  (We were riding just the left side shifters, with a normal downtube shifter for the front.)  I really don’t remember talking to Leonard about it, but maybe did.

Anyway, Kris was stoked about making a shifter for Leonard.   It didn’t take very long and then we shipped the shifter to Leonard, who I believe lived in Sacramento at the time.

Anyway, the next year, Velonews did an interview with Leonard and asked him about his right index bar end and he said that he came up with the idea and fabricated it himself in California. That was rubbish.  He knew full well that my brother made it and we sent it to him the year before.  It hurt my brother’s feeling at the time.

I’m not sure if it was the next year, but really soon, Shimano came out with STI shifting, which is the brake lever mounted shifting we all ride now.  I’ve always credited my brother with the idea of bar mounted shifted.  It wasn’t a big leap for the Japanese engineers at Shimano to take the index bar mounted shifting and moving it to the brake lever, which was more accessible in normal riding situations.

So, to answer Aki’s comment, no Harvey Nitz didn’t invent index bar shifting, my brother Kris did.  Now the record is straight, publically.

Shimano cleaned them up when they started producing them. I probably have an original one in my basement still.

Shimano cleaned them up when they started producing them. I probably have an original one in my basement still.

Tucker came back a tad dirty last night on the walk.

Tucker came back a tad dirty last night on the walk.

 

 

 

 

Best Cycling Innovations

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Velonews did a thing a long time ago and asked a bunch of us what we thought the best cycling innovation has been throughout our careers.  I can’t remember all the answers, but there were some pretty interesting one.

I said that I thought that clipless pedals were the best upgrade.  It would have been hard, at the time, to convince me that something better had come along.

That was until I read the article and Thurlow Rogers said that lycra shorts with synthetic chamois was his answer.  I was like, duh.  Of course he was right.

I would much rather be riding around with toe clips, with shorts with synthetic chamois, than clipless pedals and having to ride shorts with leather chamois.

When I think back upon it, I’m not sure how I got along with leather chamois.  They could be horrible.  Better shorts had better chamois, but the “maintenance” of the chamois was horrendous.

Washing the things was a hassle.  They would get all slick and slimy.  Then they would take forever to dry if the weather was humid.

I don’t know how many pairs of shorts I had that had blown out chamois.  There is nothing like riding with a hole in a leather chamois.  I used to buy replacement chamois and try to sew them in.  I’m not good enough with a sewing machine to accomplish that task with any type of success.  It was always a disaster.

I didn’t realize that Kucharik still replaced chamois.  Kucharik was the first pair of lycra bib shorts I ever rode in.  They will replace a leather chamois for $45. That seems like a crazy good deal.  I’m thinking about sending in a pair of chamois-less shorts to them and have them put in a leather one.  Then I can go back to memory lane and see if it is as bad as I remember.

So, clipless pedals would be #2.  If I had to pick more then Di2 shifting would probably be #3. For sure STI shifting on the brake levers.  Then Di2 shifting.  Shifting on the downtube wasn’t efficient and it could cost you a race.  It is strange thinking about how shifting in a race was part of the tactics.  Watching when your competitor was shifting was integral in one up sprints.   I don’t know how many races I won by jumping when the guy I was racing with was shifting.

Clincher tires have improved a bunch.  Sealing tires up tubelesss off-road is obviously a big innovation, but I’m sort of pre-dating that with the road comparisons.  There really weren’t MTB around when the chamois were leather.

I’m not sure about the frames.   Titanium has improved a ton, being lighter and stiffer. There wasn’t carbon around, so obviously that is a game charger, weight-wise.   Frames  have differently gotten way stiffer for the weight, but I probably could get along riding a 1978 Colnago Super frame with modern equipment.

Wheel technology is a big deal though.  The wheels we ride now are way faster than a 32 spoke wheel of yesteryear.  The lower spoke count and rim depth takes away a ton of wind resistance.  I used to race on 28 hole wheels, I ever had a 24 spoke front wheel when I was really young. They were light.  The rims would weight around 260 grams, but they were not reliable.  It was so easy denting a rim back then.

Anyway, that is my list off the top of my head this morning.  If I missed something, which I’m sure I did, just leave a comment.

This chamois doesn't look thick enough to last very long.

This chamois doesn’t look thick enough to last very long.

I rode these pedals for a couple seasons. They are selling a bunch on eBay. You can't use them unless you have the cranks though. I saw a new bag of pedal adaptors in my basement just a while ago.

I rode these pedals for a couple seasons. They are selling a bunch on eBay. You can’t use them unless you have the cranks though. I saw a new bag of pedal adaptors in my basement just a while ago.

Tucker is a messy drinker after running.

Tucker is a messy drinker after running.

 

 

Weird Stuff

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Cycling is an eclectic sport.  And since the planet is full of eclectic people, it is a good fit.

I’ve had a ton of experiences through the sport of cycling that are my life memories.  Most of the big moments in my life can be attributed or connected in someway to cycling.  That really isn’t a big surprise since I’ve been competing since I was a teenager and a lot of my daily routine is involved in the sport somehow.

I was thinking yesterday about how expensive cycling clothing has become.  It seems like the evolution of cycling clothing is making more expensive stuff.  It isn’t that unusual to have cycling shorts costing close to $200.  There are lots that are nearly double that.  I’m not sure why that has happened.

If you compare the cost of cycling clothing historically to that of regular everyday clothing, cycling clothing has a huge inflation rate in comparison.

When I first started riding, a good pair of wool cycling shorts, with a leather chamois, cost about the same as a pair of Levis jeans.  Now that same pair of jeans is around $40.  And the cycling shorts don’t have a leather chamois and the other materials should cost way less than wool.

But that isn’t the point of  this post.  Thinking about the cost of cycling clothing got me thinking about selling used clothing.  I used to have a swap meet/garage sale at home when there was a race in Topeka.  I’d sell all my used stuff for next to nothing.  It is funny seeing guys out riding in my old Wheaties/Schwinn jerseys nowadays.

I was just trying to get rid of old stuff, jerseys with out of date sponsors, etc.

One time, before the internet, I got a phone call from some guy in San Francisco.  He wanted to buy some old clothing and shoes.  He said it didn’t matter what size the shoes were and the wanted either bib shorts or a skinsuit.  He asked me if I’d wear the stuff, then not wash it and ship it to him.  I thought that was pretty strange.  But he was paying me nearly full retail for the stuff, so I figured it wasn’t up to me to judge him.

I don’t remember how he paid me.  I think he sent me a check, then I sent him the clothing.  A couple weeks later, he called me back and thanks me.  He said he wanted another skinsuit and he would pay me three times what he paid for the first one.  I’m making this up, but something like $150, for a skinsuit that would have sold new for $50.

The catch was he wanted me to wear it 5 days in a row, then put it in a plastic bag to ship.  This was getting creepy.  I didn’t want to insult the guy by asking a bunch of questions, so kind of just let it drop, being very non-committal about whether I had another one to sell.

A few days later, a check showed up in the mail that was for $50 more than he had offered.  I kind of felt obligated to send him the skinsuit.  But I wasn’t going to wear it 5 days straight without washing it.  I did go out on a couple hot rides, wearing once without washing it was the best I could do.  Then I just left it on my bedroom floor for the remaining 3 days, letting it dry.  I couldn’t stand the idea of packing a stinky, sweaty, skinsuit into a plastic bag and then shipping it.

The next week I flew out to California to race and was telling my teammates about this guy.  It turned out that he had called most of them and had bought stuff too.  Then I was talking to guys from other teams and he had bought clothing from them.  It didn’t seem like cost was a factor.  I’d done alright, but some other riders had really sold the guy a ton of stuff.

I always wondered what the guy did with the clothing.  In the back of my mind, I thought that maybe I’d get a call from the SF police department asking about the bib shorts.  Saying they had found a corpse at a party with my bib shorts wrapped around their neck.

I have to say this is probably the one strangest thing I’ve come across in the sport, so far.  Maybe it isn’t that weird.  Maybe the guy was making a cycling museum or something in his basement and wanted authentic smells or something.

I hadn’t thought about this guy in a long time.  It just makes me laugh thinking back upon it.

Not my pile, but I could have one 10x as big.

Not my pile, but I could have one 10x as big.

Tucker is feeling the dog days of summer.

Tucker is feeling the dog days of summer.

 

 

Old Results

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Someone told me about a post that Shaun Wallace put on Facebook that had a copy of some old results from the Nature State Stage Race in Arkansas, back in the early 90’s.   I hadn’t thought about that race in a long time.  It was a super good race, as most of the races in Arkansas are.  That state is one of the most under the radar states in the country.

I finally went to Facebook and looked for the results.  What surprised me was that I thought that I was 2nd in the time trial, not third, sort of tied with Shaun.  I knew Michael Engleman had won the stage, but I thought I was a little closer to his time and didn’t remember Shaun there at all. Michael, Shaun and I had all ridden together on the Wheaties/Schwinn team a couple years earlier, so we were all buddies.

I looked down the results and was surprised about how many guys I knew.  It is strange doing a race like Joe Martin and such and not knowing the majority of guys racing.  Back then I knew pretty much everyone in the race.  There are a few names on the first page of the results that I don’t recognized, but I know nearly everyone.

The race was pretty much a hillclimb.  It was just a few hundred meters flat, then you did a left turn, crossed some railroad tracks and rode up a pretty steep hill.  I pre-rode the course and realized it was better going fast at the top when everyone else was going to be going slow.  So I started super easy and then kept it in my big ring for the climb.  Nathan Sheafor, a friend from Topeka, who was also on the 1992 Olympic team with Lance came up to me after the race and said he thought I won.  He said I was going way faster than anyone he saw finish at the top.

What he didn’t realize is how slow I was going on the flat.  I talked to Michael and looked at his computer.  He had a 33 mph max speed and mine was 25.  Pretty huge speed differential there.Plus, I was still riding downtube shifters.  Nearly everyone else in the top 10 had STI levers, which would have probably been a few seconds at the end.  I did call Shimano up after the race and got a pair of shifters, which was super exciting at the time.

I wasn’t even racing on the road full time that year.  I was doing the full MTB season and was using this race as training for that. Thus, the free agent designation beside my name.  I was racing for Schwinn off-road.

Anyway, look at the names on the results. A couple of Olympic champions, Tour stage winners, tons of National Champions, etc.  And also a bunch of the guys that would go on to be the best riders we had in the 90’s.  This was kind of the tipping point of before, then after doping got super ingrained on the US rider side.

I remember talking to Lance and he told me that in 1993, when he won the Triple Crown and Pro Road Worlds, that was all him.  He was on “bread and water”.  I told him that he could never convince me that was true.  Two years earlier I could beat him in a hillclimb TT and then in Philadelphia, riding up the wall, he could go 5 mph faster uphill.  I witnessed it with my own eyes and knew that it was an impossible jump in ability.

Sally Jenkins, Lance’s autobiographer did an interview and said she thought all the guys that got caught up in doping in cycling would be looked back as victims.  I don’t see any victims on these pages of results.  Just a bunch of guys that loved to travel around and race their bikes.  It sure got way more complicated.   Life was much simpler back then.

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Tucker was way interested in this rat at the pet store yesterday.

Tucker was way interested in this rat at the pet store yesterday.

Chris Froome, Energizer Bunny

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Since the Tour finished on Sunday, how about tracking Chris Froome’s life?  I have to assume that there was a big shindig in Paris after he won on Sunday.

Then on Monday, he flew back to England for a PR thing at Sky’s Corporate Headquarters, then back to Beligium for the Aalst Criterium, which he won.  Pretty tight schedule.  I guess he isn’t that beat from 3 weeks of bike racing?

Given, the start money criteriums, after the Tour, is not really racing.  It is sort of just for show. But you do still have to ride around at over 25 mph for a while.   I wonder how many he is going to do this year, since the Olympics are just a couple weeks away?  SInce he has so much energy, maybe he’ll race them all, then do a redeye to Rio for the Olympic.  Screw the time change, etc.

After the Olympics, there is no down time because he announced that he’s doing the Tour of Spain, wanting to double up with two Grand Tour victories.  So, August is going to be just about as busy for him as July has been.

Chris must have a really good “life coach”.  Someone to keep him focused.  I bet Andrew Talansky didn’t think Chris would be at Spain when he skipped the National Time Trial, the Olympics, the Tour, to ride the Tour of Spain.  Maybe he doesn’t care.  I’d put my money on Froome either way.

bunny

Tucker could use some more energy sometimes.

Tucker could use some more energy sometimes.

Tour is Over / Time for Cross?

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It seems like I’m ripping off my tubular road tires and glueing on cross tires continually. Or vise versa.  Now that the Tour is finally over, it seems like cross season is just around the corner. Especially since the first two World Cups are here in the US the third week of September.  That is less than 2 months away.  Cross Vegas is Cross Vegas, but JingleCross being in September could be a whole different race.

I never really thought of the road season being done after the Tour, but during the last few years, I start hearing people talking about cross just about now.  I’m always thinking, no, it is only July.  But if you want to be going good for cross in September, then you should probably get on it a couple months before?

I really haven’t done anything.  I’m feeling crummy and just trying to get better so I can actually train and not just ride around.  I has been so stinking hot here the past week, that I don’t think anyone could feel normal doing more than a couple hours.  I know that is the situation for me when I start going downhill physically at a steep rate after about 45 miles.

I did get out the cross tires I plan on racing in Iowa.  I got some tires for Nationals last year from BelgianWerkx.  They are FMB, with mud tread.  I wanted to get some with the PRO casing, but they were out for the season.  I don’t think I need the beefier sidewall for JingleCross, since I don’t think it is going to be close to as muddy as it has been recently.  If you’re looking to get some super race tires, you’d better order them soon.  Here is a link to BelgianWerkx, which have a great relationship with Francois (Mr. FMB), thus they have access to a wide variety of tires.  

Jinglecross is just the next weekend after Chequamegon this year, on September 22-24, with CrossVegas being the 21st.  I doubt I’ll go out to Vegas.  I swore that race off quite a while ago. Nothing against the race, it is super fun, but the soccer field where they hold the event is poison to my body.  I think I’ve done the race 3 times and each and everytime I am coughing like crazy after and get a lung infection.

I have to take back that I haven’t been doing nothing for cross.  I’ve been walking Tucker in a big park by my house and have been running up the hill there, barefoot.  Just a couple times every walk.  I am pitiful, but it is at least something.

Okay, just a post to get you thinking about fall and cross.  It comes up so quickly.

The FMB tires that still need to be glued on.

The FMB tires that still need to be glued on.

The FMB sumermud with PRO casing.

The FMB Supermud with PRO casing.

  

Pretty wide for good support.


 

Yesterday was a watermelon type day.