Monthly Archives: September 2016

Greg Lemond – Carbon Composite Company Owner

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I woke up this morning with a text from my brother asking me if I’d seen this.  If you click on the link, it is a story about how Greg Lemond has signed a deal with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee, to produce high volume, low cost carbon fiber.  Doesn’t seem like the regular cycling media has picked up on this yet.

I don’t know the details of this carbon fiber processing, but it sounds like Greg is going to be making super high quality carbon fiber for 30% of the normal cost, plus use a lot less energy to do it. That sounds like a winning combination to me.

This isn’t only for the bicycle industry, though, he said it can apply it to that.  He is talking about replacing lots of different material, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, with higher strength and lighter carbon material.  Sounds to me that he has a pretty big market out there.

This all sounds good except for the fact that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is where they made the first nuclear bomb material and now is a clean up site by the Department of Energy.   For Greg’s health, I hope they are a little distance apart, the old and new facilities.

I haven’t seen Greg for a bit.  Maybe he will make one last trip up to Chequamegon next week, for old times sake. He is one of the reasons I got hooked on that specific race.   I’m going to be in Minneapolis picking Trudi up after the World Tour races in Canada.  Maybe he’ll be around and we could catch up some?

Anyway, Greg supposedly sold his home in Minneapolis and is moving to East Tennessee. That is a surprise.  From the article above, it sounds like Greg is pretty stoked to be getting into this. That is super for him.  He deserves something to get excited about and a new carbon company might just be the perfect thing at this time.

Greg is quoted as saying "This is actually the most exciting thing I've done in my career, with the exception of winning the Tour de France." He looks pretty excited here and this wasn't during the Tour. I hope he is correct in his emotional status. If so, he is prettey stoked.

Greg is quoted as saying “This is actually the most exciting thing I’ve done in my career, with the exception of winning the Tour de France.” He looks pretty excited here and this wasn’t during the Tour. I hope he isn’t exaggerating his emotional status. If not, he must be pretty stoked.

Greg and his son Geoffrey riding Chequamegon together 10 years ago.

Greg and his son Geoffrey riding Chequamegon together 10 years ago.

Tucker, all hot, posing in front of some sunflowers at a park down the street. It is a big sunflower year here in Kansas. Lots of late summer rain.

Tucker, all hot, posing in front of some sunflowers at a park down the street. It is a big sunflower year here in Kansas. Lots of late summer rain.

Mowing before Leaving

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Yesterday, it was supposed to rain some or most of the day.  It rained some the night before.  It was a good time to mow.  Karl, my friend from Louisville, told me that he always mows early in the morning when there is dew or after it rains, so it isn’t dusty and he doesn’t get clogged up.

Kris usually mows, but since he crashed and semi-destroyed himself, he’s off that program, so I’ve been around and doing it.

I’m heading out of town for Chequamegon and then Jinglecross, so am not going to be around for a while.  Thus, everything has to be mowed short.

We never seem to have a mower that just works.  Like you pull the cord and it starts. Something always has to be done for it to run.  You have to know that something or you’ll never get the mower started and keep running.

That is until Kris actually bought a new mower a couple weeks ago.  It was a junky new mower, but new, none-the-less.  It had been returned and needed about 5 minutes of repair to run like new.  Junky mowers, running like new, aren’t something to brag about.

But this one worked alright.  You just had to push the primer bulb a couple times and pull the cord once and it started.  I was pretty stoked with that.

The only good thing about cheap mowers is that they don’t weight much.  They are easy to lift in and out of the van.  I have to do that 4 or 5 times, depending upon how much I mow.

Anyway, I started a little late, after noon, and had three places to mow.  The first one went fine.  Kris usually cuts all the corners he can, so when I do it, I have to spend a fair amount of time doing the whole thing.  I understand his thought process, but don’t agree with it.  I like to do a good/complete job every time I do the job.

Anyway, I went over to this house in Central Topeka. Central Topeka isn’t the best part of town. I have owned the house since the mid 80’s.  I bought it because of a tax audit.  The IRS decided that I didn’t have a tax home since I lived with my grandmother, so I just bought a house and that was that.   It has pretty much sat empty most of the time.  I had a friend that worked at the bike shop live there for close to 10 years, but scared him off when I tried to sell it to him too cheap.  Not sure why that was.

Anyway, it is a really nice house, just in the wrong place.  Anyway, I mowed the front and then went to the back.  I hate mowing the backyard because there is some plant there, I’m not sure what it is, but when you mow, just in once place, it puts out a vapor that is nearly choking. Something like if you would be chopping onions except way more intense.  I skipped mowing the backyard last week when I mowed, so I had to be done.

I got about 1/3 the way through the back when I hit a small stump or a bush that had been cut off.  The mower just stopped, which isn’t that unusual.  What was unusual is that oil started pouring out on the deck.  Like running out in a stream.  I was pretty sure the crankcase was cracked.  I didn’t try to restart it.

I decided to finish the rest of the yard with the weed trimmer.  I had just rebuild a Honda trimmer and it is working so/so.  I put a new carburetor on it, but it is still running kind of weird. It has a fuel issue.  As you change the angle of the trimmer, it stalls sometimes.  I put a new fuel line in and thought maybe it was too long.  It has a filter and thought it was maybe getting stuck at the top of the tank, so I shortened the gas line a little.  That really didn’t fix it.  Maybe I just bought too cheap of a carburetor, but I needed it fast.

Anyway, I finished the back yard with the trimmer.  You’d be surprised, it didn’t look that bad.

I own 13 acres in South Central Topeka.  It isn’t as impressive as it sounds.  Same deal, I was looking for a home for my mom a while ago and sent my brother to a tax auction with a blank check. Kris calls and said he didn’t buy the house but bought this land, sight unseen.  It was a mess.  Bill, Trudi and I removed over 4000 tires from the land one summer.  It was a very bad job.  It had a railroad car and a couple semis parked there.  We cut them apart with a cutting torch and sold them for scrap.  Another really bad job.

So, I needed to mow along the street.  It is about one city block long, but half of it is a rock cliff, so it doesn’t need to be mowed.  The other half is just about 8 feet, but the 1/2 block, so isn’t much.  I just kept using the weed trimmer.  It is amazing how much trash is over there.  I go by pretty often and fill garbage bags.  I don’t get it really.  I don’t really know anyone that litters, like throws stuff out of a car window.  I don’t see it that often.  But it must be common or all the trash laying around wouldn’t be there.

Anyway, I’m pretty much done and am using a blower to blow the cut grass back out of the street onto the grass. (On a side note,  It is mor than annoyed when people mow their yards into the street and leave the grass in the street.  Where do they think it goes?  Do they think it just disappears?  I wonder if they realize that most of it ends up in the sewer and clogs it up. Then it runs to the river and clogs it up. If they just mowed with the grass going back towards their yard, it was decompose, it is good for the grass and doesn’t look like shit, plus doesn’t wash into our streams.)

I am blowing the grass when I see a young kid riding a MTB towards me.  I keep blowing and realize he never rode by.  I look over my shoulder and he is walking behind me, like really close. He acts like he wants to talk to me.

I turn off the blower and can’t really understand a word he is saying.  The only think I understand is the word bible.  I tell him I don’t know what he is saying and he says something about bible study.  I’m thinking he need some money or something, but am not sure what he is asking.

I say once again, I’m not sure what you’re saying.  He said in a weird accent, like Caribbean or East Indian, that he is going to bible study and wants to know if I want to come with him?   I tell him I am a little messy for that.  I have sweated thru my shirt and jeans and am covered with grass clippings.  I am a mess.  Then he asked if I want to pray with him.  I told him that I was good.

Then I ask him where he is from.  He tells me Chicago.  He says that is his accent.  I just looked at him.  There is no way he was originally from Chicago.  He must have been illegal and someone told him to just say he is from Chicago.  Maybe he had some other reason, but he isn’t from Chicago.

He got back on his bike and rode off.  I said bye.  It was a pretty interesting conversation.

So, everything is sort of mowed.  Cut at least.  The grass shouldn’t be growing that much now, but it has been raining all the time.  There are these oak mites around that are horrible.  They bite you everywhere.  We have two huge Oak trees in our front yard.  They have been there forever.  I have never even heard of oak mites and now they are everywhere.  They were here last year and back this year.  I don’t get it.  It makes being outside pretty awful.

Okay, working on cross bikes.  I glued a couple FMB tires on last night.  It took half a can of Vittoria glue.  I’m not sure what tires are best for Jinglecross in September.  When using tubulars, you are pretty much stuck with what you have on your wheels.  That is the only disadvantage of tubular compared to clinchers.  FMB’s work pretty good in all conditions.  I’m not all that much into file tread.  Especially on a course that has a sketchy downhill like in Iowa City.  But, it could be super dry and they would work fine.  I guess we’ll find out in a couple weeks.

The weed trimmer cuts it pretty short. The bushes look like they need to be trimmed too.

The weed trimmer cuts it pretty short. The bushes look like they need to be trimmed too.

Picking up other people's trash is creepy.

Picking up other people’s trash is creepy.

Broken mower piece.  These Briggs and Stratton engines are made out of very bad materials.

Broken mower piece. These Briggs and Stratton engines are made out of very bad materials.  The piece is $56 at Amazon.

This is an oak mite. It sort of looks like a tardigrade.

This is an oak mite. It sort of looks like a tardigrade.

The Belgian tape is hardly wide enough for these super wide rims. I'm hoping they keep the tires from folding over with way lower pressure.

The Belgian tape is hardly wide enough for these super wide rims. I’m hoping they keep the tires from folding over with way lower pressure.

These tires have a lot of tread, but I figure it is better to have too much tread than not enough, Belgianwerks has a whole selection of FMB cross tires.

These tires have a lot of tread, but I figure it is better to have too much tread than not enough, Belgianwerks has a whole selection of FMB cross tires.

One of the very few times that Tucker is acting like he is concerned where we are going.

One of the very few times that Tucker is acting like he is concerned where we are going.

 

 

 

 

Grand Prix Quebec Finish

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Okay, this is just an observation, and I’m digging the finish, but Peter Sagan goes from the far right side of the road, to the far left side of the road, and finally jumps back to the right side of the road, all in the last 150 meters of this race.  What happened to the rule about sprinting in a straight line the in the last 200 meters?  I’m not sure it changed the results much, but it is pretty radical.  The sprint starts at about 200 meter into the video.

Comebacks

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I saw that Annemiek van Vleuten, the woman that crashed so horrifically on her way to winning the Olympics, won a stage race, the Belgium Tour last weekend.  She won the final stage, which finished on the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen. I guess her broken vertebra weren’t such an issue for her.

She still has to be smarting from being so close to winning the Olympics.  That will most likely haunt her for a while, if not the rest of her life.  But it is beautiful that she can put it behind her and focus on her current situation.  She hadn’t won a race since the Belgium Tour two years ago.  Pretty great comeback story.

Lance Armstrong’s  ban from a lifetime ban for all sanctioned sport has been lifted, sort of.  It has been 4 years since Lance had been banned for life, so there was a clause that allows him to compete in other sports, just not cycling.

“He can compete in a sanctioned event at a national or regional level in a sport other than cycling that does not qualify him… to compete in a national championship or international event,” USADA spokesman Ryan Madden.

Lance is downplaying the comeback possibilities, but I’ll bet you anything you’ll see Lance competing again.  He’s already been entering alternative triathlons, endurance trail runs and such, so I’m pretty sure he is stoked that he is free to play in alternative sport.

The comparison between the two examples of comebacks, or potential comebacks, is really vast. One is so pure, the definition of a comeback, and the other, you decide.

Annemiek van Vleuten after winning the Belgium Tour. She should be super happy and proud of herself.

Annemiek van Vleuten after winning the Belgium Tour. She should be super happy and proud of herself.

Lance jumped the gun a little, doing this privately promoted trail run last year. The two picture sizes represent the the different values of these two people.

Lance jumped the gun a little, doing this privately promoted trail run last year. The two picture sizes represent the the different pertinent values of these two individuals.

 

9/11

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It is 15 years today since 9/11.  It seems so recent, yet so long ago.  Time is funny that way. Normally time makes you forget the worst.  Not in this case.  Because there was no good to be remembered.

I remember talking to my friend Jed, who seemed young at the time and I told him that I think his life will be much different now.  His future years, life that I’d already lived, was going to be harder.  Little did I know.  I never imagined the extent we’d go for the perception of safety.

I heard a really good feel good story from 9/11 on NPR.  About a place in Newfoundland where all the airplanes landed, since US airspace was closed.  How a small town/towns took in nearly 9000 passengers and housed and fed them for 3 days.   And about how the passenger took up a collection to try to thank their hosts.  It is now an endowment by the passengers that has sent over 200 of the Newfoundlander children to college.   It is one good thing that happened because of the horrible.

We now all have an underlying fear of dying from terrorism.  That is the beauty of it.  It works.  It puts, along with the media, fear into our emotional state.  In reality, we are all safe.  But the perception of imminent death, or that of our children, is ever-present.

There are lots of charts and articles out there about comparing the chances of dying from terrorism.  It is very small if you are an American.  Removing 9/11, there have been 500 US citizens killed by terrorism in nearly 40 years.    That isn’t counting our soldiers that are killed protecting us from it.  But, the real answer is we are safe.  It is hard convincing ourselves that, but it is true.

I was at home, watching the television live during 9/11.  I couldn’t believe what was happening. My friends Vincent and Bill had already left to head to Chequamegon and they were calling asking me what was going on.  I was on the phone with them when the World Trade Center building #2 collapsed.  I didn’t know what to say.

It was horrible.  But, in reality, if you want to dwell on horrible things that people do to each other, then you have plenty to dwell on.  We’ve historically done horrible things to each other, in the name of peace, religion, rebellion, you name it, we’ve justified it.  So this isn’t anything new.

Our reactions since 9/11 have been poor.  We had the sympathy of the whole planet and we threw that away for, what seems like, revenge.  Our actions have just made the rest of the humans on the planet mad at us.  At our government, at least, maybe not us the people. Hopefully not us the people.

I was right when I talked to Jed.  I couldn’t imagine the changes we have went through in the name of safety.  And we still are on that path.  Life was much easier and simpler before 9/11.  I hope, for the sake of our children, that we remember how life was before, and try to make decisions and strive to bring it back to  more even footing.  We don’t feel safe as a country.

Perception or reality, it doesn’t matter.  You live in fear when you sense fear.

I’m heading over to Lawrence to ride a few hours on gravel with a bunch of friends.  I’ll have a lot of time to think about the past 15 years.  It isn’t good bike riding thoughts, but it will be present, none-the-less.  I’m not going to make sense of it.  There is no sense of it to be made.

911

 

Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

John Howard Knees

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Sorry about not posting yesterday.  I hardly ever miss a day.  I woke up early morning feeling pretty crummy.   And it only got worse.  I think I have food poisonings or something since it came on so quickly and intense.  Not to get too specific, but I am nearly 10 pounds lighter today than I was yesterday.  My stomach has been okay for the last few hours, so I’m hoping it is passing.  Man, if I had a handgun available yesterday, I would have considered just putting myself out of misery.

I was hoping to be up in Minneapolis yesterday, but that didn’t happen.  Trudi is flying into MSP from the World Tour race in Montreal today.  Dennis, Mick and Beth are going to pick her up, which is a super favor.  I’m hoping to feel a little better and try to pack up in a bit.  I have to bring a ton of stuff since we’re staying on the road through Jinglecross next weekend, so I have ton of bikes to bring.  Man, am I weak.

Anyway, I took a bunch of baths yesterday.  I was having a real problem controlling  body temperature, freezing one minute, then roasting the next.  I looked down at my legs and realized that my knees looked like John Howard’s when I was a kid.

I was lucky and had a bunch of great riders local. Not necessarily that local, but Midwest local. Marc Thompson was from Kansas City.  He was on the Olympic Team.  He along with John Howard, who was from Springfield Missouri, then Wayne Stetina, from Indianapolis.  When I first started racing, we had great races close.  The Tour of Kansas City was an Olympic Development Race, along with KU Criterium.  These guys all came and raced.

I can’t remember exactly where I first saw John.  It might have been National Championships in Milwaukee the first year I raced as an intermediate.  I don’t think he raced in KC or Lawrence that year.  Anyway, I looked at him and what caught my attention was his knees.  They were gnarly. All scarred up, cycling worn.  It totally freaked me out.

Then I was standing in my bathroom yesterday, all feverish and all I can think of is how my knees now look like John Howard’s.  My knees probably look worse now.

My right knee is healing slowly from crashing in Colorado a few weeks ago.  It was pretty much ground down to the knee cap, with a few stitches, so it is healing from the inside out.  It is going to be a few more weeks.

But even without that, my knees look bad.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve taken all the skin off of each knee.  You can always tell how long a someone has ridden by their scars.  It you don’t have a pink patch on each hip, you don’t really race bicycles.  That and your shoulders.  And lots of other places.

John is out in California, riding, coaching and just doing his thing.  He just coached a women to the World Land Speed Record on a bike last week.  John did that himself a while ago.  I talked to him last time I was out there and need to go by and see his collection of bicycles.When I think about it, it is not a bad thing having knees that look like John’s.fullsizerender

Tucker was super sensitive yesterday and stayed by my side all day and night.

Tucker was super sensitive yesterday and stayed by my side all day and night.

 

Northwoods

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I dragged myself up to Cable yesterday.  The first 6 hours wasn’t too bad, but the last 4 hours got long. Bill relieved me some driving. I woke up today not feeling much better.  I had thought/hoped this stomach thing would have passed as quickly as it came.  Doesn’t seem that it how it is going.  I had planned on riding the whole Chequamegon course today, but that ain’t happening.  I think Bill and Karl are still going to do it. This might be the first time in modern history that I haven’t ridden the course before the race.  I really like it, so I’m really missing out. Maybe another day of bed rest might help some.

Tucker was up and down all night, he was so excited.  Trudi already took him for a loop and they are heading back out again right now.

Tucker was up and down all night, he was so excited. Trudi already took him for a loop and they are heading back out again right now.