Monthly Archives: February 2017

Sprinter Shifters

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I was riding yesterday, messing with my position some.  It was pretty windy, like over 20mph and I was watching the power numbers on my Garmin while I tried different positions.

I don’t ride much on the drop bars.  I guess I should say historically, I don’t ride on the drops. Normally, my hands are on the shift/brake levers.  I’ve found, or maybe, more accurately, always thought I’m as aero with my hands on the levers as that on the drops.  It seems like when I’m on the drops, all I’m doing is exposing more forearm to the wind.

Anyway, the last couple years, I’ve been better on the drops.  I still wouldn’t normally climb on the drops, but I can ride long periods on them.  I was trying to think why that is.  And I came up with the answer that it is because of “sprinter shifters”.

Sprinter shifters are just small controls that you can mount anywhere on your handlebars that allow you to shift the rear derailleur easily.   Normally, they are mounted on your bars, below the brake levers, where your hand naturally sits, allowing you to use your thumbs to shift. The right shifter moves the rear derailleur down, to a harder gear, the left up, for an easier.

I never intended using sprinter shifters.  Wayne Stetina, Shimano, gave me a set and told me to try them.  At the time, I had no intention of putting them on.  But when I was building up my bike with new Di2, I thought to myself that I should mount them.  Usually when Wayne says something like they are important, he is usually right.

I had the shifters on for a while and didn’t really notice the change.  They didn’t jump out at me, but I found myself using them more and more.  When I started racing, I realized that they are super useful.  It is great having a full grip on your bars and still able to shift.  Great for criterium racing, but really they work in about all situations.

I only have these on my road bike, since I only have one pair and when I’ve been riding my cross bike on gravel, recently, I miss them.  I need to get a set for that bike too.

I’m rarely surprised about a “gimmick” bike part.  I tend to not even give them a try.  But these shifters are different. I’m very glad I have them.  It is enough reason in itself to ride Di2 electronic shifting.

You just mount them on your bars wherever your normal hand position is.

This is what it looks like on my bike. And yes, I probably need new bar tape.

If you want a climbing shifter, Shimano already has this to mount above the shifters for climbing. Or, you can just hack it as the video below shows.

 

DQ 1st & 2nd (3rd & 4th) from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad??

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Mike Crum, of all people, left a comment yesterday about what I thought about the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad situation where the lead group of riders rode on the sidewalk instead of the cobbles, after the UCI had explicitly explained that riders were going to be disqualified for doing so.  Here is a link to the Cyclingnews article.

I actually hadn’t read anything about it and thought it is an interesting topic, with more than one side.

I’m a little on the fence about this.  There are rules, I guess, that prohibit riders from not riding on the road.  But, like Greg Van Avermaet said, the rule is nearly impossible to enforce.  They didn’t enforce it once again, so the next time it will most likely go the same.

I am sort of surprised hearing about this.  I have raced in Belgium a bunch and have always ridden the smoothest line, even if that means in the dirt next to the cobbles. But, things change.

I guess if they really want to enforce the rule then they need to physically block the “alternate lines” initially.  Because, obviously, the riders are going to ride on the smoothest choice if there is one.

And they need to enforce the rule.  And in this case, enforcing that rule would have kicked at least the first 4 riders out of the race.  Maybe even many of the guys finishing directly behind them.  And that wouldn’t have pleased the organization one bit.  Like Cyclingnews wrote, the break was a “dream podium” for the organizers.  And sometimes the organizers override the officials.  Many times.

I had a similar experience, not exactly but close.  And I was relegated in placings.  ‘

It was at the Coor’s Angels Cup in Los Angeles .I had won the Coor’s Devil’s Cup and this was the sister race.  It was a tight criterium, miss and out format.

Huge Walton, my team mate, was off the front.  I think he might have been with Thurlow Rogers, but don’t quote me on that.  Anyway, I was in the field, sprinting each lap, trying not to get pulled.

When there were maybe 15-20 riders left, I was at the back on the finish stretch.  I sprinted up the gutter and flew past the field, as they sat up after the sprint.  I just kept going.   They kept pulling the field and I was just riding around by myself. Eventually the race was over.  I think I finished 3rd, but that might be wrong too.  Probably 4th or 5th.

Anyway, we were all stoked, with Huge winning the race and getting all the primes.  We went back to the hotel to change and come back to awards.  When we got back, the results had changed and I was something like 19th.

I asked someone who said I had been pulled because the official had deemed I have left the road. He ruled something like going below the blue line on the track, thus, left the road to passed the peloton.

The course had barriers and there were thousands of spectators.  We called the official and I asked how I could leave the road?  I told him that most everyone that is sane would consider the road to be from one curb to the other curb.  Everything between was fair.  He disagreed and said he ruling would stand.

Anyway, we had already won the race and it was all good.  Of course, I was pissed, thinking I had been cheated, but now it is just a funny memory.

Back to the original topic.

If i would have been in that break, I would have ridden exactly like the break did. Those guys have ridden those roads 100’s of times and probably have never ridden on the cobbles.  The line they were riding is the historic line I’d guess.   I assume they knew that they weren’t going to be DQ’d or they wouldn’t have done it.  It was probably a risk/reward deal, them knowing that the risk was minimal.

Does that make it right, well, sort of.  They won the race and didn’t suffer any penalty from breaking the rules.  And there were lots of other guys doing exactly the same thing.

If they are going to threaten the riders with disqualification, then they are going to have to do it for it to have any teeth.

I honestly think the rule sucks and part of the beauty of these races is the skill to negotiate the course, no matter where that might be.

Caught in the act.

Racing Has Started

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The title is a little misleading, now that I think about it.  I’m not racing, yet.  But, here in Eastern Kansas, The Spring Fling Criterium Series is underway.  It is a 5 race series, that normally starts right around now, the last weekend in February.  It is a good way to get some lungs to go with all the miles you’ve tried to accumulate.

Yesterday I rode over to the start of the 1/2 race.  I hadn’t seen a lot of those guys for a long time and it is a pretty easy 50 mile ride RT.  My brother, who has been sick for the last 3 weeks, said he was going to race, so I rode over with him.  When he got there, he said that he could barely stay with me so he had no business racing.

I only stayed for the start.  It was hovering right around 40 degrees and started cooling off a little after 4, so I started getting pretty cold.  One constant thing about this head injury is that I can’t seem to regulate my core temperature very well.  I was hoping it would be beneficial for hotter temperature, but the other day, when it was approaching 80, I wasn’t too happy with that either.  I think it is going to be a slow process, as everyone says.

I probably could have raced.  I’m not too off riding my bike.  I have no race fitness, but I usually get that by racing.  I hate missing a bunch of early season racing.  It just makes later races into that, which is much harder.  But, I don’t really have much choice here currently.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the weekend Belgian races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad or  Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne , you should watch a condensed version, at least.  Both the finishes are pretty good.  It is interesting that those races are over with and it isn’t even March.   Peter Sagan seems to be in pretty good form.

Everyone here in Topeka has been sick or sickly.  Me too, but not to the extent as some others. It is supposed to be pretty normal/nice today.  Highs in the lower 50’s.  We have a noon ride planned, but I think it is going to have to be pretty slow and flat.  At least flat.  Some of these guys haven’t ridden for over a week, bedridden, so it is going to be an effort.  But, no one is in a rush, it still is only February.

The start of the 1/2 race at Perry yesterday.

This is the Cat 5 field. I like the guy in the all day-glow yellow. I had a baby blue tennis warm-up when I first started.

This is towards the finish of today’s race in Belgium. The break didn’t seem to want to have Sagan at the back towards the finish. He obliged them.

Tucker seems to sleep on this table a lot. I think it is so he can watch the squirrels in our front yard. Trudi put a pillow on the marble so he is more comfortable. Probably not a good routine to get started.

 

 

Enough

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Okay, enough of this stupid shit that has been going on since our election.  I can almost not stand the news on a daily basis.  If you are comfortable with what has been going on, then you must either be an ass, arrogant, or ignorant.  Or all three. I guess, after reading Rod’s comment, total lack of concern could be an excuse.

I heard that Muhammad Ali’s son was held up at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport by immigration authorities.  Do you understand that?  Muhammad Ali’s son, who is Muslim, and an American, with a US passport, was detained returning from Jamaica with his mother.   The guy is a millionaire, inheriting a huge amount from his father’s estate.  And, once again, an American.   And his issue was his religion.  We can not tolerate this.

Now our immigration problem.  I’ve been looking around about immigration and the majority of our illegal immigrants work in agriculture.  The numbers vary, but up to 78% of farm workers in many states are undocumented immigrants.  And we don’t have enough.  

Please feel free to comment here about your experiences of having bad experiences with undocumented workers.  Jobs that you’ve lost, crimes against you personally. Any bad experience that you’ve personally experienced.  And use your real name when you comment.

I travel a ton and interact with lots of different people.  I’ve never had a bad experience or know of a crime against me, by an immigrant.   The “illegal immigrants” I’ve had the pleasure to meet, have been super nice, polite and, I think, add to the ability to live comfortably in our country.

Plus, who out there thinks building a very expensive wall is going to address the immigrant issue one bit? Anyone? 20 billion dollars well spent?

Mr. Trump is calling the deportation of immigrants a “military operation”.  Huh?

I don’t personally know a person that would like a job that is currently being done by a illegal immigrant.    Feel free to comment about the job you’d like to be doing, except for so many immigrants doing them.

We, here in the US, have many problems.  But the stupid shit President Trump has been addressing aren’t those problems.

Transgender kids.  Anyone out there had a problem here? Other than the kids that are struggling experiencing this?

How about dismantling the EPA?  I sure don’t like clean air or water.   Or all other environmental regulations.

How about not allowing certain press to attend daily briefings at the White House?  Or this “fake news” rhetoric?    I don’t think that Mr. Trump understands the need for press in our society.  If he is so worried about fake news, then he should just stop talking so much.

Americans, historically, have taken pride in being fair.  And treating others fairly.  At least trying to.  We’re doing neither now.  Just because we were born here, doesn’t make us entitled to treat others badly. Especially poor people, with little options.

Don’t be leaving comments about sticking to cycling here.  We all have a personal mandate to speak up for those that don’t have that ability.   President Trump isn’t doing that.  He is doing exactly the opposite.  He is a horrible reflection of what a true American is all about.

What he is trying to do, so far, isn’t what needs to be addressed in our country.  It is embarrassing on so many levels.  More than embarrassing, it is scary.

Want this job?

Birkie Ski Race Tomorrow?

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Race Update-Officially Cancelled 😟

The American Birkebeiner ski race is supposed to be held tomorrow.  I think around 10,000 people ski there.  But, with all the warm weather we’ve been having, it has made the event questionable.  Plus, it has been raining some up in Northwoods and  that kills the snow.

It is supposed to snow some today.  But it is probably too little too late.  There is some standing water on the trail, which the Chris Campbell and his crew are removing, but when you remove standing water, that means there isn’t much snow.

They are hoping to run a race from the new start area to OO, which is about half the distance of the normal race.  I think they are going to be making a decision on that today.  It looks like it is snowing there now, but they also have lots of other concerns, which might not be fixed by some snow.  Like parking for 10000 skiers and such.

I have a bunch of friends that ski the race.  I’ve done it a couple times, but not for a long time now.  It is a super event and I feel badly that all this nice weather in the lower Midwest has created havoc for the Birkie.

Okay, updates on trail conditions are here.  Let’s cross our fingers.

Picture of the start area. Dang.

77 Degrees February 22nd

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Yesterday was pretty nice.  It was approaching 80 degrees, which is about 20 degrees above the normal high of 58.  Even 58 seems like it is high for February.  I guess that winter is sort of winding down.

Most my gang here in Topeka is sick-ish.  Bill, Catherine, my brother Kris, all feel bad.  Bill has been sick on and off for nearly a month I think.  Catherine just for a day, so maybe it is just the flu and she’ll be feeling better by the weekend.

I’ve been feeling off for a while too.  Kind of the same thing as Bill has.  TIght chest, mucus in my throat, etc.  But not sick enough to skip riding when it is so nice out.

So I got on my bike and rode gravel over to Lawrence.  That is pretty much my favorite ride around Topeka, so I try to do it sort of often.  It was a little windy and I was riding solo,  so a little shelter on gravel is always good.

I stopped for coffee in Lawrence.  The students were sitting outside in shorts.  I liked that.

KU basketball had a milestone yesterday by winning the 13th straight Big 12 title in a row. Pretty incredible streak.  They are ranked 3rd in the country now, but need to improve a tad still if they want to play a bunch of games in March.  They still have nearly a month before the Big Dance, so it should be fine.

Today it is supposed to rain a little this morning, then heat up to the upper 60’s.  Tomorrow it is going to be a high in the 30’s.  Then a couple days of mid 50’s, then the 60’s and 70’s again.  Not bad weather.

Here are some photos from yesterday.

The view along the river is nice. It is hilly on and off.

Lots of the road has Hedge trees, which is super hard wood that was planted to protect and divide the fields.

Lots of the road yesterday was smoother than cement.

KU students at Starbucks in Lawrence.

This is a memorial right near where the road turns gravel. I saw this boy, riding his three-wheeler, just a couple days before his accident. So sad.

 

I like this barn.

And this one, even though it has concrete blocks.

There are lots of these in Eastern Kansas.

My favorite house on the River Road.

A really old stone building on the Santa Fe property in Topeka.

A railroad bridge, coming back into Topeka.

Frank Mason wearing the Championship T-Shirt last night.

Tucker was a little bit crazy this morning.