Monthly Archives: August 2016

Banning Power Meters in Races???

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A lot of times I scratch my head and try to figure out how these supposed professional cyclist come up with the stuff they do.  Case is point is the statements by both Nairo Quintana and his team mate, Alejandro Valverde, who sit is 1st and 2nd overall in the Tour of Spain currently, that power meters have no place in bike races and should be banned.

Quintana said – “They take away a lot of spectacle and make you race more cautiously. I’d be the first in line to say they should be banned.”

Then Valverde added – “I think they’re really useful for training, but they take out a lot of drama from the sport. In competition you should be racing on feelings.”

Okay, I get it.  They were pissed/disappointed that Chris Froome decided that he didn’t want to go over his limit a couple days ago and rode steady, losing nearly a minute, only to come back and sprint for 2nd on the stage.  He was probably looking at his numbers, both power and heart rate and decided that the pace wasn’t for him.

But, in my opinion, that only made the race way more exciting.  It added, to use Alejandro’s word, “drama” to the race.  You thought Froome was done and then he is resurrected from the near dead.  It was good drama.

Froomes’ answer to those guys – “What? We should go back to single-speed bikes as well?”

There is a ton of stuff that I’d remove from the pro peloton before power meters.  Race radio for sure.  Maybe even carbon rims.  It seems like these guys can’t seem to handle their bikes so good anymore and a constant braking surface would help out immensely.  How about anything electronic on a bike?  We could go on and on.

Power meters and heart rate monitors are personal tools.  I don’t ever look down at my Garmin and think, jesus, I need to ride differently because my numbers are all over the top.  That is just me.  But, I don’t train by these numbers either. Every World Tour team has a power meter sponsor.   Here’s a link to what power meters each World Tour team is currently using. 

I’m sure Chris Frrome knows exactly what he’s capable of at any given moment.  So yes, he uses that tool better than Quintana or Valverde.  Does that mean it should be banned from racing.  I think not.  And really Nairo is a bit of a hypocrite here.  Check out this video at Velonews.com. Nairo is just about ready to crush the field, but is screwing around with his Garmin for a long while.  Go to about 1 minute it to view.

Did you see the finish of today’s stage in Spain?  Think Quintana thought Froome was riding by power numbers there?  I think not, once again.

I'm using a Quarq Elsa, with Shimano rings on my road bike.

I’m using a Quarq Elsa, with Shimano rings on my road bike.

And a Stages Dura-Ace left are on my cross/gravel setup.

And a Stages Dura-Ace left are on my cross/gravel setup.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday night Beer night. He was too hot to hang with the gang.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday night Beer night. He was too hot to hang with the gang.

Training in Tucson – A taste of travel

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I graduated high school early.  I decided, after about a semester of high school, that it really wasn’t for me, so I started cramming extra classes, taking classes during lunch, etc. to leave early.  I already knew that I wanted to race bikes and, for some reason, I guess, I thought I needed to graduate high school first.

My brother and I decided that we should go down to Tucson Arizona to train during the winter. I’m not sure why we picked Tucson instead of Austin or some warmer place closer, but Tucson was it.

We left Topeka with virtually no money.  We thought we had enough money to live for 3 months, but the housing prices in Tucson was more than double that of Topeka.  We had sticker shock.

We’d driven my 1964 VW pickup truck there.  The rear tires were so bald that you could see the plys.  We had a Sierra Designs two person tent sent up in the back that we could sleep in.  It was set up when we were driving and one of us would sleep in the back, the tent flapping in the wind, while we drove.  It was pretty cold.

We got stuck in a terrible ice storm in New Mexico.  The pickup built up thousands of pounds of ice which slowed it down immensely.  It wouldn’t hardly got 60 mph, but with ice build up from the bottom to the ground, it couldn’t manage 50.  That was probably a good thing.  We ended up spending a night in a hotel, a Motel 6 (when Motel 6’s cost $6), the only hotel night the whole trip.

As I said, it was too expensive to rent somewhere.  We didn’t have enough money.  We were trying to find a room to rent from someone, but didn’t have much luck.

We were mostly camping up on Mt. Lemmon.  Sometimes we would go to the University library, which was open all night, and find a couch, out of the way, and just sleep there, pretending we were students that had just fallen asleep while studying.  Then, in the morning, we’d go to the gym and shower in the locker rooms.

We got a fair amount of riding in.  The desert was so foreign to kids from Kansas, so it was always really interesting.

It all went south after a couple weeks.  We were camping up on Mt. Lemmon, sleeping in the tent.  We had our bikes locked to the bumper of the VW.  I guess the cable was too short to go through our fronts wheels, because they weren’t locked.  When we woke up in the morning, our front wheels were gone.  We only had one set of wheels each, so it made it pretty impossible to ride.

We drove into town to go to a shop to try to find some cheap parts to build up some new wheels.  Higher end race wheels weren’t pre-built then, you had to buy all the parts separately and build them up.  We stopped and bought a cheese sandwich with guacamole.    We were vegetarian back then.  The guacamole must have been bad because right after we ate it, we both were super ill.  Food poisoning.

Sometime, while recovering from the food poisoning, we both agreed that we needed to head home.  We were out of money, we couldn’t ride our bikes, and we figured we just had enough money to pay for the gas home.  So we started up the VW and drove home without stopping.

I don’t really have many good memories from that trip, even though it was pretty much my first real cycling road trip.  That is strange because time usually makes you forget the bad and only remember the good.  Maybe there wasn’t that much good?  Anyway, something must have went right, because I got the travel bug, plus the bike racing “disease”.   And neither have been cured.  Funny how life works out.

I’d like to go back to Tucson and do the Tour de Tucson.  That race has always been on my list, but it has never worked out.  Maybe this year.

I've ridden Mt. Lemmon since. Back then I might have had only a 19 in the rear, with a 42 small front ring. It was probably a little hard.

I’ve ridden Mt. Lemmon since. Back then I might have had only a 19 in the rear, with a 42 small front ring. It was probably a little hard.

Tucker saw a rabbit.

Tucker saw a rabbit.

 

Honey

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I eat a fair amount of honey.  I always have.  I think I “got into” honey back when I was a teenager and a vegetarian.  Back then, my brother and I went through a ton of honey. That and molasses.  We used to make whole wheat pancakes nearly everyday and cover them with molasses.  I don’t eat much molasses anymore.

I think that honey is good for you.  I’m not sure why I think that.  I really haven’t read anything about how honey is an antioxidant or anything.  I just feel better when I eat honey.

Kris and I once bought a 5 gallon tin of honey from our friend, Mike Hudson’s uncle.  I’m not sure how many pounds of honey that is, but it was super heavy.  I’m guessing it weighed somewhere around 50-60 pounds.  It took us a while to get through that in.  It crystallized and we had to reheat it over and over again to get it out.  It probably lasted about a year, which is sort of unbelievable considering how much honey we ate.  If my weight guess is close, that is nearly a pound a week.  It doesn’t seem like that much, but taking into account that is every week or the year, it was a lot.

I am kind of a honey snob.  All honey tastes a little different.  I’m not a snob enough to know what flowers the bees use to make the honey taste better.  I just like to try a ton of local honey, then when I find it, I try to stick with it.  It is funny how the better honey always costs the most.

I would like to have my own bees and make my own honey.  My friend Jeff Unruh, from Topeka ,has some bees and sometimes gives me some for Christmas.  It is so good.  A friend sent me an email and told me that each bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.  Man, it takes a lot of bees to make a pound of honey.

Anyway, I’ve been eating lots of honey recently.  I put it on just about everything.   I think that anything that doesn’t spoil on its own has to have some special properties.  I hope so because I eat a ton of it.

This is my favorite honey right now. You can order it online. It is a little pricey.

This is my favorite honey right now. You can order it online. It is a little pricey.

I pulled out this that had been kicking around the house forever. We got it in Europe. It is a little messy, but sort of fun to use.

I pulled out this that had been kicking around the house forever. We got it in Europe. It is a little messy, but sort of fun to use.

Tucker is acting all good, trying to entice me into taking him somewhere.

Tucker is acting all good, trying to entice me into taking him somewhere.

 

 

 

10000 Miles for the Season

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Yesterday I passed 10000 miles for the season.  Think it was riding with Tucker after the ride.  (Those Tucker miles are going to add up.  He’s up to around 4 miles a day now.  I didn’t want to run him too much when he was still growing, but now I’m upping his mileage some.)

I was surprised when I clicked on Strava and saw that it was 10K.  I thought I’d be about a thousand miles short of that.  I really haven’t been riding all that much.  I was sick some, then went out to Colorado and pretty much exclusively rode my MTB, which the hours are good, but the mileage is short.

My daily average is just under 42 miles a day and average speed is 17.6.  That is pretty good, once again, considering how much I’ve been riding MTB.  Plus the speed is slow because I’m lacking a bunch of race miles.

I can’t say all those miles have done much for my racing form, not that I know what that is.  I really would like to do a MTB and see how that goes.  But I’m going to drive to St. Louis on Friday and race 4 NCC criteriums at the Gateway Cup.  Talk about jumping into something I’m not prepared for.  But hopefully, I’ll be sort of prepared for it, after the fact, on Tuesday.  Cycling is great that it works that way.

I have done a lot of the miles alone this year.  I used to hate riding alone and now I do it regularly.  I still would rather go out with a group of friends, or a group of soon-to-be friends, than ride solo, but riding alone works for me now.

It gives me time to think.  I’d think I would be Albert Einstein or something after all that time for thinking?  I’m not.  But it does help me organize my thoughts.  I have to say, as I age, I like looking around at the same stuff, just appreciating it more.  The other night, I opened up the window when I got up to pee and listened to the night sounds for 5 minutes or so.  They seemed so foreign, yet so familiar.  The clouds and storms have been so great this year, that riding around here is like a moving picture lots of the time.

We had a ride scheduled at noon, but got a text from some guys in Lawrence that are riding this way, so we moved it up to 11.  I’m trying to do at least one longer ride a week on my MTB, to get used to it before Chequamegon.  It is weird, but you do pedal just a tad different on a MTB than you do on a road or cross bike.  I find myself pulling up on the backstroke just a little bit more.

Okay, I have to mess with my bike a little before the ride.  Plus, Tucker needs to go romp in the park for a while, or he goes stir crazy.  Have a nice Sunday.

Catherine, Eric and Bill's team won the Downtown Adventure Race yesterday morning.   Bill carried a Garmin with him and I heard it was over 5 miles of running.  They are going to be sore, either today or tomorrow.

Catherine, Eric and Bill’s team won the Downtown Adventure Race yesterday morning. Bill carried a Garmin with him and I heard it was over 5 miles of running. They are going to be sore, either today or tomorrow.

Our roads suck in Kansas.  They are falling apart.  This is the shoulder of a State Highway between Lawrence and Topeka.  I wonder what the highway workers are thinking?

Our roads suck in Kansas. They are falling apart. This is the shoulder of a State Highway between Lawrence and Topeka. I wonder what the highway workers are thinking?

The mushroom from yesterday opened up.

The mushroom from yesterday opened up.

Tucker's tongue is pretty long when he is really hot.

Tucker’s tongue is pretty long when he is really hot.

 

 

 

 

 

Prize Money Sucks in Cycling

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This has always been the case.  But it has gotten worse and worse through the years I’ve been racing.  If prize money was even going to just keep up with inflation, then most pros racing domestically would be making an okay living just off prize money.  That isn’t close to the case.

I was reminded of this again, because I just saw the prize list of US Open in tennis.  The winner gets 3.5 million, which seems reasonable, I guess.  But if you just get into the tournament, loss in the first round, which means you finish tied for 128th, you’d get $43,300.  That is a lot more money that nearly every domestic professional cyclist makes total for a year of racing.

I’m not sure why professional cycling in doldrums.   It always has been a blue collar sport, but this is ridiculous.  I don’t think there is a race in the US where a rider can win what you can get for last place for one tennis tournament.

I think it might be because the promoters used to look out for the well-being of the riders.  I don’t think that is the case much anymore.  Bike racers and the promoters used to have a symbiotic relationship going.    I think the money is harder to come by to put on a race, so the prize lists are what suffers first.  Whatever the reason, no one, minus maybe Daniel Holloway, could pay for a season of racing from their winnings.

I’m heading to downtown Topeka to watch Bill and Catherine do an Urban Adventure Race. They are both going to be crippled after.  We’re supposed to go on a long-ish road ride at 1pm. I doubt they will participate, even though yesterday they were all gung ho.

Prize money for the women's US Open.

Prize money for the women’s US Open.

I saw this mushroom in the park yesterday.  It popped up over night I think.  I is very beautiful.

I saw this mushroom in the park yesterday. It popped up overnight I think. I is very beautiful.

I got Tucker pet insurance.  He's gonna need it if he keeps sleeping with his neck in these strange positions.

I got Tucker pet insurance. He’s gonna need it if he keeps sleeping with his neck in these strange positions.

 

The Zen of Mowing

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It has been raining a ton the last couple years during the summer in Kansas.  That isn’t usual. Normally, the grass goes dormant for a month or so, thus it turns brown-ish, then starts greening back up in September or so.  That is unless you run automatic sprinklers, even when it is raining, all summer and your yard stays perty green.

This year is another big rain year.  So, the grass has been growing throughout the summer. Hardly anyone in my neighborhood mows their own grass.  One guy from North Topeka has a corner on that market.  He is in the neighborhood from 8 am to sunset everyday, including holidays.  He is a little automated, like he uses self-propelled Honda push mowers, but he isn’t riding around on a zero turn radius riding mower.

I’ve been mowing lawns since I was small.  I probably started mowing when I was around 7 or so.  This was mainly mowing our yard.  As I got older, I used to mow a lot of the neighbors yards.  I used to walk down to the gas station, which was 2 blocks away and buy 2 gallons of gas in the morning, then start out mowing.  I think the most yards I mowed was around 10.  I could do them all in one day if I was quick.   But, the problem was, everyone didn’t always want their yards mowed on the same day, the day that was convenient for me.

When I’m gone, my brother mows.  He does it on Sunday’s I think.  But now since he is hurt, he isn’t going to be mowing for a while.  I don’t like mowing as much as I used to.  Mainly because of the dust and it seems like I am more allergic to the dry grass than I used to be when I was younger.

That being said, I still like mowing.  I just don’t love it.  There is a certain satisfaction mowing. You can watch as your work is progressing.   It is sort of like shovelling snow or roof.  You can actively see how much you’ve completed and how much you have left to do.

I used to mow artistically.  I’d try to mow and make the yard look like a golf course.  I’d mow diagonal in one direction and then the opposite.  I don’t do that so much nowadays.  That is mainly because most of the places I mow the grass is so pitiful that it doesn’t look that great.

But after you start mowing, you can get into nearly a zen-like state.  After I start, it is like a craving, it is hard to stop.  It is sort of like cycling, my mind wanders as I go through the motions.

I really should get a good mower.  All the mowers we’ve had recently have been junky, garbage picked mowers.  There is a certain advantage of a junky mower.  Mainly,  they are light, so it doesn’t take much to load them into the van over and over again.  But, they are underpowered and generally shitty. The mower I’m using now is a brand new mower my brother got from Walmar,t I think.  It had been used once and was broken.  He paid $30 for it.  It took him about 4 minutes to fix it.  From my experience with mowers, a Honda mower is impossible to beat.

Anyway, I think more people should mow their own yards.  I think it connects you to your property and exposes you to the neighborhood.  When no one is doing any yard work anymore, it is really hard knowing where anyone lives.   Garage door openers are the #1 reason that neighbors are strangers.  #2 is not doing yard work.

Anyway, I have a bunch of mowing to do, but it is going to rain most of the day.  I think I’m going to head out and start.  There is way less dust when it is a tad wet.  Too wet is a disaster, but just a little wet is good. I hope today doesn’t turn out to be a mowing bust.

Hope this stays North as predicted.

Hope this stays North as predicted.

Rain gauge from last night.

Rain gauge from last night.

Tucker likes to go just about anywhere the van goes.

Tucker likes to go just about anywhere the van goes.