Monthly Archives: March 2017

Credit Card Fraud

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I’ve spent most of the morning on the phone with American Express concerning an email I received saying something about activating a new card for Linda Smith.  It wasn’t my card number on the email and I thought that it was a fishing expedition. But, I decided to call American Express anyway, just to make sure nothing weird was going on.

As it turned out, they did issue a card connected to my account for Linda Smith.  Also for Irene somebody too.  So, the guy from American Express says he has to read me a statement for him to cancel those cards.  The statement is sort of long and one part was that I’m personally responsible for all the charges on the cancelled cards.

I interrupted him and told him I didn’t agree to that.  He said I had to agree if he was to cancel the cards.  I had a short conversation about how I was doing him/American Express a favor because I wasn’t planning to be responsible for illegal charges.  He told me that there were no charges, so I should just agree so he could cancel card.

Then he cancelled them and asked me if there was anything else he could do, saying he was all done.  I said yes, I’d like to know how this happened.  How a new name was added to my American Express account, actually two names.  I asked to talk to the fraud department.

So then I was on hold for a long time and finally a super nice guy answered.  I had to give all my information again and start all over.  He told me to look over my statement and make sure I made all the charges.  I had the statement up on my computer and everything was mine.

He said he was cancelling my account and sending me a new card.  So I was going to have to get a new online account and re-enter all the auto pays, bank accounts, etc.

Man, what a hassle.

I’ve had a couple credit cards stolen during my lifetime.  Once, I was racing in Europe and had a few credit cards.  When I got back to the US, I was looking for a card and couldn’t find it.  It wasn’t in my wallet, so I checked my backpack.  Not there, so I looked through my jersey pockets.  (Sometimes I carry a credit card in my jersey pocket, especially riding in Europe.)  Not there.

Finally I realized I lost it.  So I called the credit card company and told them I had lost the card.  The representative told me that I had close to $5000 worth of charges on it, all for Belgium and Holland.

And they were weird charges.  Beauty parlor, shoes, groceries, not big charges, just lots of small ones.  So I had to go over each and every charge and say that I didn’t make it.  It took a while.

I guess someone at one of the hotels must have went through my wallet, while I was riding, and took out one credit card, assuming I wouldn’t miss it, which I didn’t.  Pretty good crime really.

Anyway, I’m getting a new card tomorrow.  The American Express fraud guy told me I should probably change all the passwords to all my accounts, including email.  That is nuts.  I can sort of understanding how a card can be ordeed under my account number, but have a hard time figuring out how that would have anything to do with my email account.

But, I guess he probably knows better than me, so I should just do it.  The guy was super knowledgeable.   Could take a while.  Didn’t expect this morning to go this way.



Dangerous Disc Brakes???

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Disc brakes are back in the headlines.  The UCI decided to allow their use again this year. Marcel Kittel and Tom Boonen were two of the most prominent riders using them so far.  Then Kittle got caught up in a crash with Owain Doull, Team Sky, and Doull claimed he was sliced, at least his shoe was sliced, by Kittel’s disc rotor.  I think he was wrong.

SInce then, the CPA has called for them to be disallowed.  And lots of websites have done experimental videos showing if a disc rotor can cut things.  Velonews did a couple videos that showed, if someone is powering the wheel, then it could possible cut through a cycling shoe.

The only problem with that experiment is that when someone has their cycling shoe up against someone’s brake rotor, no one is pedaling that bike.  That bike is most likely going to hit the ground very soon, riderless.  And the time they held the pig’s skin and shoes against the rotor was so much longer than a person could ever be touching a brake disc in a crash scenario.

I very much doubt that brake disc rotors are dangerous.  Just because they are rotating doesn’t make them into meat cutting blades.  They are pretty dull and I’ve never come close to being cut by one.  And I’ve fallen a fair amount of times on bikes with disc brakes.  And I’ve been run over by a fair amount of times by guys riding disc brakes.

Think how many crashes, mass pile ups have been at the start of MTB races since discs have been used.  I’ve never heard of anyone getting sliced by a rotor.  Add cross races too, now that disc brakes are becoming commonplace.  I’ve never seen someone in MTB or cross cut by a disc rotor.

I’m not big on the disc brake switch.  It is a huge change and makes exchanging equipment, especially on the road, very difficult.  When the manufacturers get their shit together and make the calipers more adjustable, maybe make the pads retract further, then the wheels might be interchanged much quicker.   Until then, maybe they are only good for individual racers where riders have their own equipment, in pits, available.

If you gave me a choice between touching a rotating brake rotor or having a guy run into me with a chainring, I’d take the rotor everytime.  I’ve been hit by chainless chainrings and those things are very dangerous.  An exposed chainring is so much more dangerous than a brake disc connected to a hub.   I very much doubt the CPA is lobbying to get rid of those.

***Okay, I just went out to my garage and spun a MTB rear wheel up to speed.  I could stop it very easily with my thumb.  I do realize that hand skin is tougher than other skin on a human’s body.  I’d think if a leg or arm came in contact with a rotor, from the top, where it would cut you, then the same leg or arm would make contact with the spokes of the wheel too, so it would not only be the rotor stopping the wheel.


Pretty Nice Weekend for Cycling

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Today it is “only” going to be around 60 degrees.  Then it is supposed to get nice.  I think that 60 is going to be the low high for the next two weeks.  So much for March still being winter here in Kansas.

I know a bunch of friends that can hardly wait until daylight savings time starts on March 12th.  So that is a week from this Sunday.  That is the day that all the guys that work can actually get out and ride, with having to use lights. I understand their anticipation.  According to the forecast below, it is only going to be 69 here that day.

I’ve been riding some.  Not huge miles but okay miles considering.  The problem here is when it is so unseasonably warm in the winter is that it is nearly always pretty windy.  And Kansas can be windy.

Kansas is one of the windiest states, either 2nd or 3rd highest.  If you click here, there is an active map of where the wind is currently blowing today in the whole US.  A big whoosh of wind is blowing from Texas right up through Kansas, to Canada.  It shows it as in the 30 mph range.  I think it is closer to 20 here, but that is still enough.

Like I said, I’ve been trying to ride more.  Still have a little sickness thing going on, but I’ve been better than most of the people I ride with here.  Topeka got some flu thing bad and so many people have really been down and out.  I heard they had to cancel a high school basketball game because of lack of players.

The wind is hurting me riding solo so often.  Yesterday I decided to ride mostly tailwind first, thinking I could shelter myself on the way home.  It was on gravel both directions.  It sort of worked, but I was still pretty much done after only 70 miles.

I’m not sure if it was lying around for 10 weeks in bed or what, but my endurance, not just in cycling, but in everyday life, has taken a hit from this traumatic brain injury.

I thought, initially, that traumatic brain injury was way too harsh of a description for smacking your head, but there are different severities to whacking your head and somewhere it changes from just a hit or concussion to something that “earns” the name TBI.    I’ll try not to step over that line again if I can help it.

Anyway, I don’t know how I’m going exactly.  My power, according to historical data saved at Strava, seems okay.  But I have no change of pace or top end.  I would love to race a couple short races, just to start getting a some top end form.

Okay, enough of this.

Strade Bianche is tomorrow.   That is a super cool race I wish I could have done once, at least.  WIthout Cancellera around to dictate the end, it is going to be more interesting.

Hope it is good weather where you might be.

Pretty crazy early March temperatures.

Map of the US and how far ahead the season is in days.

The farmers are dumping a lot of ammonia on the fields recently.

Plus, the burning has started. It is supposedly too windy for them to burn, but that doesn’t seem to ever stop them.

Started getting cold coming back yesterday .  Long shadows.

Another one of my favorite houses on the River Road.  This one has always been empty.  I’d like to own it.



What to Eat?

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Athletes, probably more than other folks, tend to really try to consume foods that are good for their specific sport.  Or for health in general.  But nowadays, it is harder and harder to figure out what that specific food is.

When I first started racing, I was a vegetarian.  I didn’t eat any meat at all for maybe 5 years. But, when I went to Europe, that went out the window.  It was nearly impossible doing that and trying to race there, at that time.  Plus, I was taking a handful of vitamins a couple times a day.

It was all carbohydrates back then.  Carbo load and race fast.

Then it jumped to protein.  Eat a bunch of protein and no carbs.  I’ve done this a few times and it works too.  But did I feel a ton better/different, no.

Anyway, I’m writing this because of a couple things I’ve read the last week.

One is that the chicken you get in a subway sandwich is only half chicken.   The rest is some kind of soy filler.

I hate this.  I used to think that eating subway sandwiches was a good choice for fast food.  I have no idea whether this study is accurate, but it makes you think.  The article said that the most chicken in any fast food chicken is in the 80% range.  If you would have asked me I would have guessed in the high 90’s.

The next was an article at Cyclingtips about eating gummy bears for recovery.  It showed Peter Sagan eating a bunch of gummy bears for just that.  I’ve heard a ton about recovery for efforts and have never seen this.  I would have guess, once again, that eating them might be okay riding, but not for recovery.

Skratch Labs co-founder Dr. Allen Lim says otherwise.  Dr. Lim has worked some questionable jobs, but I assume he knows what he’s talking about when he says that gummy bears are good for recovery.   Again, what do I know.

I’ve seen riders eat everything and race super.  Don Myrah used to eat nearly only fast food, tons of high fat, high sugar desserts and still kill me racing MTB’s.  Then Phil Anderson comes to the US and to race the Coor’s Classic on our team and hasn’t eaten dessert in months.  And he rides at the front, day after day, for the whole two weeks.  Big difference in diets here and same results.

No butter or eggs. Lot of eggs, as much butter as you want.  What is up with that?

Obviously, us human’s haven’t exactly figured out what is right for us to eat.  For athletics or longevity.  It switches on a yearly basis and sometimes goes back upon itself.  It’s interesting, but disturbing some too.

Dinner last night.

After race food.

Peter wolfing down gummy bears.

Rolling Stop Signs

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve rolled a ton of stop signs.  When I first started riding, it wasn’t even an issue.   People that drove cars didn’t blink an eye if a cyclist rolled a stop sign.  It was to be expected.  But, that was a long, long time ago.

Somewhere, through the time, drivers started getting up in arms about cyclists.   It isn’t only rolling stop signs, but nearly everything, just riding.  I wonder why that happened?  More cyclists, or people having less time?  Whatever the reason, even if you are the most responsible cyclist, concerning laws, you will feel the wrath of drivers occasionally.

Cycling laws interest me.  Each state and their perceptions of what is important enough to restrict cyclists from doing.

Here in Kansas, we have a two-abreast law, which makes it legal to ride side by side.  Plus we have the 3 foot passing rule.  These two laws make it nearly impossible to pass a couple cyclists without crossing the centerline, which is how it should be.   Nearly the only way to pass a cyclist when there is oncoming traffic is for the car to cross over the centerline.  The 3 foot law makes that pretty much mandatory.

We, in Kansas have a Dead Red Law too. which allows bicyclists, and motorcycles, to legally proceed through red lights in Kansas when it is safe to do so.   It is a good law for cyclists.

I saw an article that in California, a couple politicians introduced a bill that would allow cyclist to roll stop signs.  Treat them as yield signs.   This would make a huge difference riding nearly anywhere in the state.  When I’m riding in Southern California, you could go through 100’s of stop signs on any given ride.  I think the state of Idaho has this law already.

Plus, like the creators of the legislation understand, it is safer for the bicyclist.  We all know how to get across an intersection after stopping, but you have to think of a person that hardly ever rides that has trouble locating their pedals while starting, thus looking down and not paying enough attention to the cross traffic.   Going slowly across a busy street isn’t the wisest way to cross that street.

I have no idea whether this will become law.  I’d bet not, but what do I know?  I’m way more interested in alleviating the animosity between cyclists and drivers.  I don’t really get why it even exists.  You’d think that a driver would think it is great that someone is out riding a bike.  For commuting, recreation, or actually training.   People are fickle.

Think all the money they would save putting up special signs for bicyclists.




Mileage / Cat 5 Racing MTB Now / Amanda Coker

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I’ve been riding a fair amount the last week.  Nothing crazy, but pretty hard considering the wind has never been blowing much less than 20 mph.  It has been pretty usually warm the past couple weeks, in the 60’s, but when that is the case this time of the year, it is nearly always super windy.

I rode 440 miles last week.  I did a 90 mile ride and sort of fell apart around 50.  But I just kept training and yesterday did 80 miles and felt fine. That is with a lot of wind, once again.  I have no idea what my body does to compensate for those extremes?  It is so weird.

I got a racing license last friday.   I was considering racing on Saturday, but thought better of it after riding over to the race.  The Spring Fling course is pretty safe, but the wind was crazy and I do realize that I need to stay vertical on a bicycle for the near future.

I don’t quite understand the licensing deal from USAC nowadays.  It cost me $255 for an international license.  Something about extra for a t-shirt and insurance at gravel races/gravel fondos.  Then there is a $25 fee for extra drug testing, the Race Clean program.  I guess I don’t mind paying for either of those things.  Both seem like a good use of funds.

I was just looking at my license and I’m a Cat 5 for MTB cross country racing.  Actually, I’m a Cat 5 in all aspects of MTB racing, except observed trials, where I’m a 3.  Not sure what happened there.  I maybe didn’t race enough sanctioned MTB races, so got downgraded to 5?

I had been only riding around 250-300 miles a week, but felt I needed to get some endurance.  A 440 mile week in Kansas, with this wind, is like a 550 mile week in California.   I try to ride as much sidewind as possible, since riding straight into the headwind is way too hard.

I was looking at Strava and they are doing a March Distance Challenge.  I noticed this because Amanda Coker had signed up for it.  She is the woman setting the ultra endurance record down in Florida.  She has been riding daily, what I had done the previous 3 weeks.  She has upped her mileage to around 250 miles a day now.  Guess she only has 10 weeks or so to go, so she is going longer at the end.  And faster.  The numbers are mind blowing.

I don’t understand it at all.  Not any of it.  Her time riding, her speed riding, how she can consume enough calories for the effort, none of it.  She finished week 42 last Saturday and rode 253.3 miles that day.  I’ve never come close to riding that far my whole life.   And she does it for nearly 42 weeks straight, everyday, pretty much.

She is winning the Strava March Challenge, having ridden 2024 km. in 5 days.  She is 753 km ahead of 2nd place.  This is out of 112,585 people signed up.  I am in 429th place, not that I’m keeping track.

I don’t understand why she isn’t getting more press from cycling publications.  RAAM gets way more press than this and what she is doing is way, way more impressive.  On so many levels.  I can ride a bicycle alright and there is absolutely no way I could do what she has already done.  It is amazing.

Okay, it is windy again here in Kansas.  Gusts today over 40 I heard on the radio.  The upside to this crazy wind is they can’t burn the grass, so the air is cleaner.  A little I guess.  It is supposed to get to 76 this afternoon, but thunderstorms then.   Guess I should get out early?

We came in on gravel yesterday to try to get some shelter from the wind.

This is John-Jack. We stopped for coffee in Lawrence and he decided to refuel.

Amanda Coker rides more a day than I did in 3 separate weeks.

My license.

After 3 days of the Strava March Challenge, I was tied with Tony Rominger.

I saw that Amanda has a GoFundMe page to help with her expenses. She has raised a little over $5,000. I figure she is going to go through 56 tires, if she gets 3000 miles per tire. She could probably use some assistance. Here is a link to her GoFundMe page.