Category Archives: Comments about Cycling

Amanda Coker, Bionic Woman? 228 mile average per day for 246 days

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Last year, right around cyclocross Natz time, Kurt Searvogel, broke the distance record for cycling in a year.  He rode a tad over 76000 miles.  76076 to be exact.   But that record is under siege.

Down in Florida, Amanda Coker is riding her bike everyday.  Like all day, everyday, for the past 246 days.  She is riding a long ways, a long time and pretty unbelievably fast.  Take yesterday for example.

Amanda rode close to 242 miles in 11 hours and 35 minutes.  That is a 20.8 mph average.  And she has been doing pretty much something like this for 2/3 rd’s of a year.

She has already broken the women’s one year distance record for cycling.  She did that in 4 months.  Think she might be putting that record out of touch for a long time.

If you do 240 miles a week, you’re gonna have a 12, 400 mile year.  But she is doing that many days.  I think, so far, she has averaged about 228 miles per day, so she is on schedule to ride over 83,000 miles for the year.  That is 7 thousand miles further than Kurt.

I am baffled.  Impressed immensely, but baffled.  There are so many parts of this that is crazy.

I’ve never ridden 240 miles in a day in my life.  Not even close.  And here is a girl that is riding close to that everyday for months upon months.  And she is averaging over 20 mph.  The speed is nearly more impressive than the distance.

I’m sure she must be riding in a group most of the days.  I can’t see an average speed that high without other riders.  But even so, 11 + hours a day on a bike, you’d think the speed would drop.

I don’t understand how she can eat enough food to do this.  It has to be close to 10000 calories a day.   Man, it is amazing.

Plus, her heart rate is super low.  Yesterday her pulse was 114 bpm average.   That was for nearly riding 21 mph for 11.5 hours.  Pretty impressive.

I’m not sure why the regular cycling media has been following this more closely.  It is worthy.

Anyway, I’d like to go down there and ride with her some.  I actually plan on it.  I am pretty sure I couldn’t do a whole day with her.  Not without training a ton.  She just has less than 3 months left.  I’d better get fit soon.

You can follow her on Strava.  

This is her a few weeks ago.

From Strava. Check out this mileage. Amazing.

She is pretty much riding the same course everyday near Tampa. Pretty good plan.

Out of Shape

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I really haven’t been that out of shape the last few years.  I didn’t know that until I rode yesterday, not at altitude and realized that I’m way, way, less fit that I have been for a long time. It’s okay.  I kind of expected it.

I have ridden maybe 200 miles outside, plus a bunch of times inside, since October 14th.  It will have been 3 months since I crashed on January 14th, my brother’s birthday.  3 months seems like an eternity now, but in the whole scheme of things, it really isn’t that long.  I might have to multiply those three months by 12 and still be dealing with some of the after effects.  Maybe longer if I’m really unlucky.

Bill and I rode to Lawrence and back yesterday.  We rode pretty directly there and then rode dirt back part of the way.  The dirt was really mud mostly, since the River Road is shaded because the sun is so low in the South.  Wherever the sun hit, the road was dry and more like smooth pavement than gravel.

Anyway, it was nice when we left.  In the 60’s, but pretty breezy from the Southwest.  So, kind of tailwind there.  We stopped and got coffee and then headed back West.   Not far after we started back, our luck changed.  The wind switched pretty much to the North and it dropped 30 degrees.  And kept getting colder.

We had left before noon, hoping to ride in the warmth all day.  It wasn’t supposed to changed temperatures until after 4 o’clock.  But it switched before 2.

I wasn’t horrible, just out of shape.  Like early season out of shape.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time.  The hills seemed way steeper and I was pulling on my bars a lot more.  I don’t know why, but it seems like I’m not even pulling up with my legs when I am standing.  Weird.

I think the cold did me a little good.  I was riding with bare legs and the cold kept them numb.  I think I would have just been sore if that didn’t happen.

I’m not only out of shape for riding, but for anything physical.  Vincent has some weights in his basement.  Sort of a full gym set.  He has a bar that has maybe 75 pounds on it.  I could barely curl the thing twice.  That isn’t right.   I understand I haven’t really done anything physical in 3 months, but man does strength leave fast.

I noticed the same thing doing pushups a while ago.  I tried to do pushups and could barely do 10.  Just a couple days later, I did nearly 30, but I was doing 50 a couple months earlier.  You’d think your muscles would be strong after rest.  Guess too much rest.

Normally when I’m not riding I’m doing something physical.  Building something, fixing something heavy, hiking, skiing or something that takes stamina.  Not this time and it shows.

Today we’re driving up to Cable Wisconsin for a few days.  I didn’t go there over the holidays and miss the place.  Dennis is putting on his ski race, The Seeley Classic, on Saturday and Trudi said she’d help.  I don’t know how much help I am going to be, but maybe some.

I’m a little worried about the temperatures.  My internal thermostat hasn’t been working so great recently, so I’ve been sleeping under a thick layer of quilts.  Cable is going to be a lot colder than anything I’ve been in.  Guess I need to wear Carhartt lined pants, etc. all day.

Bill was gonna go, but I got a text from him at 2:30am saying he is sick and hasn’t slept, so he is staying home.  I’m going to take my bike and trainer to ride up in Cable.  I’d like to try to ski, but it just depends how the trail is.  If it is stable and not icy, then I’ll ski.  I fall enough when it is perfect, but have to watch out for that nowadays.

So nordic skiing would probably be great for my general conditioning.  I’ll just have to check it out I guess.

Okay, I didn’t pack anything last night and wasn’t really sleeping, so got up early.  I need to wash my bike and get my stuff together to go.

I’ve been sleeping a ton recently, like somewhere between 9-10 hours a night, so this was short. Hopefully I can sleep some on the way up.  It is 10 hours of driving.

The mud was thin, so it just sprayed on my bike, nothing horrible.

Tucker loves it up in the Northwoods. This is him getting surrounded by a bunch of herding dogs in a dog park in Iowa City last week.



60 Days for Killing a Cyclist ?

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Yesterday was the sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of my friend, Glenda Taylor.  Glenda was struck and killed by  Todd Kidwell at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships in June of 2015.

I didn’t go to the hearing.  I’m haven’t been feeling that good recently and really didn’t want to live the reality of what has already happened.   Lots of cyclists went there to support Joe, Glenda’s husband, and to support cycling in general.

I did see the sentence pretty soon after it was announced.  60 days in jail and 36 months probation.  Here is a link to the Topeka’s newspaper article about the hearing. 

I don’t understand the legal system.  I don’t know why this whole thing took so long.  I don’t understand the plea agreement for manslaughter.  I don’t understand a lot of things.

Todd Kidwell made some statements that seemed genuine.  He said, “I’m the reason Mrs. Taylor is not here.  I shouldn’t have tried to pass her.”  He also said that “I had a responsibility to Mrs. Taylor.  I know you probably hate me, you have every right to.  I need to make amends.”

Those are words that you want to hear, but impossible to digest.  At least for me.

I don’t know what is right.  A guy sitting in jail isn’t gonna bring back a life.  A guy saying he’s sorry isn’t going to do it either.   Glenda was a super person and didn’t deserve to be on this end of a tragedy.  She is missed by all.

Glenda after winning a medal at cyclocross Nationals.

Some of the friends and supporters of Joe and Glenda that made the trip yesterday.

Cross Nationals – Pretty Severe Conditions

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Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford, CT yesterday was epic.  The course decided much of the race. Either you had the ability to ride the course or you didn’t.  It was close to singletrack much of the way.

I think the course was too severe the whole week.  From unrideable mud to frozen footsteps, you want a cross race to be decided by ability.  Not that, in the end, at least at the Elite level, it wasn’t.  Both in the Elite men’s and women’s races, the pre-race favorites won their respective events.

So the favorites won.  But riders that maybe could have had an opportunity to shine, didn’t get that chance because the starts of these races were so important.

Katie Compton rode a very good race.  She had a little trouble everyone once and awhile, but all and all, she rode a very good race for the conditions.  She was the best rider in the race.

Amanda Miller finished 2nd and rode super also.  She is very comfortable in harsh conditions and her bike handling skills are excellent.  Very deserving result for someone that has put in her time this year.

The men’s race, well that was interesting.  Maybe not the final result, but the last bit. Stephen Hyde was good.  He got the hole shot and then proceeded to make errors so that he was well back.  Since the start went up a long singletrack dismount, any error was exaggerated.  It was a little bit of carnage there the first lap.

But, he did the same thing at the World Cup in Iowa City and rode back to a top ten finish,  so I figured it was just a matter of patience before he did that.  He got to the front and immediately slid out on a off-camber descending corner.  He kept his cool and started riding consistently fast.

The crazy thing about the race was the last bit.  Hyde had a low front tire and somewhere on the last hill, just before the finish, tore his rear derailleur off his bike. So he came onto the finish stretch, not able to ride.  He coasted a bit and then got off his bike and walked to the line.  Jimmy Driscoll was closing fast.  If the line would have been 50 meter further down the stretch, the results would have been different.  I’m glad it wasn’t.  Pretty unusual finish, to say the least.

Jamie rode an excellent race, but Stephen Hyde deserved to win.  I did a short post on him after the World Cup in Iowa.  He is the real deal.

Jonathan Page finished 7th and Todd Wells 8th.  Glad to see a couple of the guys I who’ve been around for awhile, have top 10 finishes.

The whole races are on the video on yesterday’s post.  If you want to see how close the end of the men’s race, click here for a twitter video.  

The season is over for the majority of riders, but not all. There are still a few races left before the World Championships.

Amanda riding this section super. It doesn’t look so tricky, but was.

Katie winning.

RIght after the race, 1st and 2nd hug. Katie seemed pretty happy.

Right after Stephen Hyde got back into the lead, he bobbled.

The finish. Notice his rear derailleur hanging. Jamie was just behind. Crazy finish.

Stephen Hyde’s bike at the finish.





Best MTB Rider Ever? John Tomac

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I was looking around the internet last night and saw this interview, by Neal Rogers, at Cyclingtips, with John Tomac.    I guess Neal did the interview last year at Ned and Todd’s Gran Fondo in Durango.  I went there and rode and talked to Johnny T. a little.  I hadn’t seen him in a long time and he hadn’t really changed at all, which is great.

The interview is pretty good.  John was always modest and talked more with his legs than his mouth.  And, in my opinion, he did that better than any rider I had the pleasure to race with. Sure there are some other guys who might compare with John, but when you throw both cross country racing and downhill together, he’s my pick.

I raced with John pretty much throughout his career.  I rarely beat him ever.  I beat him in a few Specialized Cactus Cup Fatboy races, but that was riding a tight criterium on mountain bikes. Off-road, he would kick my ass.  Especially if it had a technical downhill on the course.

I thought I was going to beat him at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta, in 1996, gaining a minute on him the on the first part of the last lap, but then it got to a big technical rock section and he rode away, leaving me to finish 2nd.

Anyway, John was, by far the best downhill rider of that time period.  By far.  If they wouldn’t have let any rider pre-ride a course and everyone just went down it once, first time, John would have won all the races.  Plus, John was racing the cross country races before the downhill usually.

At the World’s in Italy, Johnny T. had the first XTR setup I’d ever seen.  And I was riding for Shimano too.  I might be wrong, but I think it went from a 28 big cog in the back to 32.  Those 4 teeth allowed him to ride the steep walking section.  I remember seeing the race on TV afterward and at the start, there was a huge pack of 150 guys climbing, with Johnny T. already a 100 meters ahead by himself.  He won the World Championships handily that year.

Last year, in Durango, I was at the start of the ride and lined up next to John.  He looked over at my bike, which was an Eriksen.  It was 9 speed XTR, hardtail.  John looked over and saw my barends and said, “Barends, I need to get me some of those”.    He nearly always rode what he thought made sense and made him faster.

Anyway, if you have some time and want to learn a little about him, click the link above.   It is a good interview.

Photo, by my friend, Tom Moran.  The photographer of the first era of modern day MTB racing.

Stuck in Denver / Cross Natz Sledding

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It has been snowing in Colorado for over a day now.  Up in the mountains, it is dumping.  Now down in Denver it doesn’t seem that bad, but the guys at the airport must have gotten behind.  All the flights are way delayed.  Southwest sent me a text saying my flight was 4 hours delayed and I could change it for no extra charge.

So, I am flying tomorrow.  I was supposed to fly to Chicago today and then drive back towards Kansas tomorrow.  Now I’m off a day.  It’s fine I guess.

Have you seen some of the video footage from Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford?  That is crazy.  I’m not sure why each year cyclocross nationals get super unlucky with weather?  And I’m not sure why the guys running the race can’t make course adjustments to allow the riders to compete fairly.  I saw a post on Facebook from Mark McCormick that said something like you shouldn’t have to know how to sled (slide on your ass) to race cyclocross.  That isn’t really even close to what he said, but it gets across the general topic matter.

The course looks way too severe, like  up and down, plus too slick, to race.  Especially for these early week events that the riders aren’t so adapted to these conditions.  Maybe no one would be good at these conditions.  I’m not there, so I can’t really tell how horrible it is.   But, from some of the videos that people are posting, it looks terrible.  You can click here to see some of the “fun” the past couple days there.

Okay, I’m going to go shovel snow for a bit.  That is my exercise of choice today.  Not really my choice, but I do like it sometimes.

Vincent’s back porch this morning.

Nic being an exhibitionist/bed hog last night.

This is a photo from two days ago when there was still some grass for traction. It is much worse now.



Okay, About Wearing a Helmet

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I’ve sort of taken some grief the last couple months since I crashed and fractured my skull without wearing a helmet.   I guess it should be expected.  People are pretty opinionated about their positions on wearing a helmet while riding a bike.  Probably the same with riding a motorcycle I’d guess.  Anyway, I thought about writing about it, then figured I’d wait until next year, which is now.

I’m not big on wearing a helmet.  I never liked it and still probably don’t.  I think I understand the risk/reward deal about helmet usage, but am not sure I really ever took that much into account.

I started riding, then racing, in the pre-helmet era.  When I first started, the only helmet that nearly everyone raced in was a leather strap helmet, or hairnet, as it was called.  We never wore them until we absolutely had to.

That changed when the USCF passed the “hard helmet” rule.  I was on the USCF board of directors and voted for the change of rule.  I sort of wrote a post about it a couple years ago.  I wasn’t big on it, but as it was presented to us, bike racing was going to seize to exist in the US if we didn’t make the rule change.  That was really a fabrication, but it was probably for the good. The European riders didn’t like the whole deal, but eventually, the rules were changed worldwide and everyone had to race, full time, with a helmet.

Anyway, I’ve never trained with a helmet.  I just don’t like the way it feels and really like riding much more without it.  Like I said above, I am fully aware of the risks.  I could show you a few papers on how much safer a helmet really is while riding a bike, but like all things, those papers wouldn’t change a person’s formulated opinion.

I’ve crashed hard quit a few times, wearing a helmet and not.  I flipped over my bars over 100kph in England, with only a strap helmet on and was out for a while.  I broke my collarbone, leg, hand and was pretty concussed.  But I didn’t fracture my skull.  That was while wearing virtually nothing.

This past crash is pretty indefensible in the helmet discussion.  I hit a dog at around 30 mph and flipped directly into the pavement, head first.  A pretty unusual crash.  First time in all the years I’ve been riding.  I don’t hope to ever do it again.

Do I wish I was wearing a helmet on that day?  Absolutely.  I wish I was wearing a motorcycle helmet even.  Obviously, after the fact, anything I could have done different to change the outcome of that crash, I would gladly sign up for now.  But I wasn’t wearing a helmet, so I don’t have that option.

Saying that, do I promise to wear a helmet forever after now.  Probably not.  Am I going to wear a helmet training and racing for the next few months, or maybe a year.  Absolutely.  But, I can’t promise, publically, that I am never going to ride a bicycle without a helmet ever again.  That most likely wouldn’t be true.

Maybe wearing a helmet training for the near future will warm me up to the whole deal?  I would like that.  Really.  I just don’t like riding as much with a helmet, so I never did.  Maybe that will change now.  I can only hope.

Even after we passed the hard helmet rule, here in the US, if the race was a “Pro” race, we could race without them.

This is the same even, the Coor’s Classic, 5 years earlier.  Me following Eric Heiden.

Andy (Hampsten), on his way to winning the Giro in 1988. Looks like a day to wear if there is one?

My strap helmet.

In my defense, here is a picture from Holland, where cycling is much more “popular” than here in the US. The article is about how overcrowded bike lanes are, not about why 95% of the people don’t wear helmets.