Category Archives: Comments about Cycling

Concussions from Crashing

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I’ve had a few concussions through my lifetime from crashing.  This is the first time while out training.  The others were all at races.  Each and every time, they came fast and unexpected.  Of course they would be unexpected.  If they were expected, I wouldn’t have been where I was.

This is the first time I’ve fractured my skull.  And hopefully the last.  It is way worse than simply whacking your head and waking up a while later in a hospital room or somewhere else.   Hopefully all these head hits have been spaced out far enough that I won’t be any more forgetful, etc. than I already am.

Three times I’ve crashed during races and have gotten knocked out, then woke up later and kept riding.  I doubt that is a good thing, but I think it would have been hard to talk me out of it at the time.

The first time was at the Coor’s Classic.  We were racing from Denver to Vail Pass.  We were riding up the I-70, on the shoulder, up to the Loveland Pass exit.  It wasn’t far into the race. We’d just done the first real steep pitch on I-70 and were descending along the shoulder.  I was stoked to be in the front group, which was pretty big.  We’re going pretty quick, coming up to a place on the highway they had blasted a bunch of rock and we were riding next to a rock cliff.

Next thing I know, I’m seeing the road, but from 45 degrees.  I’m thinking to myself, I wonder why I’m leaning so far over.  That was it.  Out.

I woke up just a couple minutes later.  There were a lot of guys standing around me and our team mechanic was there looking distraught.  There was a doctor shining a light into my eyes asking me questions.  I think I was answering all of them alright.  I could hear the highway patrol saying that he was calling an ambulance and a guy from the race said that they already had one coming.

I looked over at my bike and my front wheel was collapsed.  I guess I’d hit a basketball sized rock and it broke the rim.  Anyway, I was just laying there by myself then and told my mechanic to put a new wheel on my bike.  He looked at me like I was crazy and wouldn’t do it.

All these people had no intention of letting me get up.  Finally my mechanic put the wheel on my bike, just as the last group on the road came by.  I realized if I didn’t get going, I was never going to be able to make the next 70 miles alone. I had been laying there for over ten minutes already.   So I jumped up, grabbed my bike and took off.

I caught the back of the group, which was maybe 15 riders, and was relieved.  They were crawling which was perfect for me.  Just then, a highway patrol car came up from behind and said something like “Ride number 78(?), please stop and retire from the race.”  Everyone in the group kind of turned around and looked back.  At me.

I rode up to a guy I knew in the group and asked him if I looked bad.  He said I had a ton of blood on my face, but couldn’t see a cut.   I just kept riding and the highway patrol kept asking me to quit.

Finally, after a bit, he just stopped.  The day was long and there were lots of great stories the rest of the day.  I finished, none the less for wear.  It turned out I had a pretty deep puncture wound on my scalp and you know how head wounds bleed.  It did.

Nearly the same thing happened on my first stage of the RCN.  It was the national tour in Colombia, South American.  I was riding for La Vie Claire.  They really just wanted Bernard Hinault, who had won the Tour the prior year, but he needed a team.

The first stage was a crazy circuit race in Medellín.  It is the 2nd largest city in Colombia.  There were so many spectators and it was so out of control, that it would have been really hard not to have crashed.

Hinault fell pretty early in the race and hit his head pretty good.  I stopped and waited for him and rode him back up to the field.   Quite a bit later on, I saw a few guys to my left fall, not too worried about it, but then next thing I know, the guy in front of me flips over his bars.  I hit him and that is all I remember.

Next thing I know, my mechanic is straying some sports drink in my eyes.  Ron Hayman, who was on La Vie Claire too, was standing there waiting.  My bike was okay, so I jump up and got on it.

I took off and start riding pretty hard.  So hard, I pretty much left Ron behind.  I was pretty focused on getting back to the field.  Then I realize I’d left Ron, so I sat up and waited for him. The course was sort of tricky there and you couldn’t see very far.  We did a descent and we came out on a super wide, long road.  I couldn’t see anyone on it and you could see a long ways.

I turned around and asked Ron where the race was.  He said I’d been laying there a few minutes and it was long gone.  I just shifted into an easy gear and we rode side by side to the finish.

At dinner than night, our team was a mess.  Bernard had a bunch of cotton gauze wrapped around his head.  Greg Demgen, was on a descent and someone threw a bucket of water on him, but they release the bucket and knocked him off his bike.  He was torn up.

The front page of the paper the next day had a photo of Greg sitting on the ground on his butt and it said something like this is how the gringos race bikes.  I don’t have that picture, maybe Greg does and he’ll send me a photo of it.

Of course, I wasn’t good either, but it was just the start.  I finished the rest of the stage race alright, normally riding the long days with Hinault, which was fun.  He won the final time trial in Bogota.   TIme trialing wasn’t my forte, but I’d thought I’d hauled ass, riding something like 55 minutes for 40 km, on a regular bike with 32 spoke wheels. Hinault rode 48 minutes something. Like incredible fast.  I wonder how fast he would have gone on a modern day time trial bike?

Anyway,  I’ve hit my head a few more time too, but I think I’m okay, not that I know.  It’s not like I’m a pro football player and ringing my bell constantly.  Just once every few years to keep me on the straight and narrow.

This is me, Thurlow Rogers and Bernard at one of the starts. Don't we look happy.

This is me, Thurlow Rogers and Bernard at one of the starts. Don’t we look happy.

Bernard usually pulled our group. I pulled sometimes, but I think he was training for the Tour of something, because he switched up the speed always.

Bernard usually pulled our group. I pulled sometimes, but I think he was training for the Tour of something, because he switched up the speed always.  He didn’t speak english back then.

This is Greg and I riding back to a hotel. We usually had a bike group of fans riding with us.

This is Greg and I riding back to a hotel. We usually had a bike group of fans riding with us.  We probably couldn’t have gotten to the hotel without them.

 

 

Early Morning Training

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I’ve never been into training early.  I have done it before, but my mind and body are always protesting.  It’s alright after an hour or two, and it is nice being done riding early morning, but that isn’t enough for me to sign off on it.  Plus, I read somewhere that the majority of heart attacks during exercise are before 7 am.  Not that I’m worried about that.

I remember a long time ago, when I was living in Boulder, a friend, Jon Neff, and I decided we were going to hike up Longs Peak.  You’re supposed to start early, like in the dark, to miss the afternoon storms, but we got a late start.  We were driving down through Lyons a little before 6am and this line of triathletes comes riding by.  There are something like 20 riders on aero bars training.  I was thinking that they had to have left before 5 to be out there.  I didn’t understand it at all.

Anyway, this morning I started riding before 6am.  My friends from Louisville were hoping to start driving home by a little after 7 and Stacie wanted to ride an hour before they left, so I told her to come by before 6 and we could do it.

It is dark here until 7.  I put the trainers out on the back porch.  It was around 50 out, so pretty good trainer temperature.  Stacie put on some music and we rode.  The hour went pretty quick. I was sweating and a little cold at the same time.  Anyway, done riding by 7am, right when the sun was rising.  That is very unusual for me.

I can’t say that I feel that happy about being done.  I’ve been getting up pretty early, like way before 6, the past 6 weeks, so it really isn’t that early for me.  But I’d rather ride later.  I’ll ride again tonight.  My head seems to feel better if I ride the trainer maybe an hour or so before I go to bed.  I’m not sure what that is all about, but whatever makes it feel better is something I am going to do.

It is supposed to rain all day today.  Kind of a fall day.  My riding gang went out and rode gravel on the Flint Hills west of Topeka.  Pretty primitive roads for Eastern Kansas.  So Karl got in close to 100 miles the last two days.  All on gravel.  I would like to be doing that, but I have to ride inside for a few more weeks most likely.  I can’t really complain.

Okay, back to watching cross.  I didn’t expect November to be like this.  Seems like the month took forever.  But, like I said above, I can’t really complain.

Stacie and I before.

Stacie and I before.

Getting ready to ride.

Getting ready to ride.

Riding in the dark.

Riding in the dark.

 

 

I Like Pie

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Historically, I like pie.  It might be close to my favorite food.  I say that, but when I think about food, I like most.  Anyway, pie would be high on my list.

When I was a kid, we had a pie cherry tree.  Most of the kids in the neighborhood would get together and pick and pit all the cherries and my mom would make each a pie.  Lots of sugar on the bottom of the crust that solidified after being refrigerated.  It was great.

I don’t make that many cherry pies.  Mainly pumpkin and apple.  I think that is because the ingredients are easily accessible.   I like cherry pie a lot. Peach too.  I guess I need to expand my horizons.

Recently, since whacking my head, I’ve had a little smell/taste issue, so food isn’t as interesting. Hopefully that figures itself out.  That didn’t stop me from making a few pies for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin only.

Did you know that canned pumpkin isn’t normally the pumpkins we use at Halloween.  It is a variety of squash.     I use Libby’s pumpkin which is sort of pumpkin.

Anyway, I hope you all got a chance to eat some pie the last couple days.  If not, you should soon.

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2016 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Zeven Live

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The women’s race just finished a bit ago.  Katie Compton finished 2nd and Ellen Noble was 10th.  The men’s race starts at 8am CST / 9 am EST.  Should be pretty good after the cancellation of last weeks event because of storms.  Here is a link to Cyclingfans.  Only the Dutch Play Sports is free without subscription.  Enjoy.

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Kansas Local Cross Drug Testing

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Yesterday, I felt good enough that I went over to Lawrence to watch many friends and team mates race the 360 Cup Cross race.   First of all, I realized that I was bummed that I wasn’t suited up and racing.  It was a nice day to race cross, temperatures in the mid 50’s and sunny.  It was funny how cold that 54 degrees felt to me standing around.

A big surprise was the my team mate, Brian Jensen and his wife, Michelle, were at the race.  I guess Brian was doing some wind turbine work north of Lawrence and is going to be here until Wednesday. Then back to Colorado.

Brian was a big surprise, but the biggest surprise was that USADA had two tents set up and had been doing drug testing the whole day on most of the categories.  This is a first that I can think of this happening.  This was a pretty small, local race.  I know that USAC has this new Race Clean program going now, but I can think of a lot of events that might prove more productive.

I’m wondering if that USAC was there for one guy?   Seems like they have been pretty good at catching riders that are pretty obviously taking drugs to race.  I don’t know that guy here.  I very much doubt they are going to catch someone.  I know just about everyone that raced and not one of them is on my radar screen.

Anyway, I’m not against USAC showing up.  The more testing the better.  I think all the amateur guys that are doping to race aren’t nearly as advanced as World Tour guys, so the chances that USADA cleaning up the local and regional scene is much higher.  It just really surprised me this is the event they picked.

I was only there for the Elite 1/2 race.  And even though I was only gone from home for 3 hours, I was done.  It was the longest I’ve stood up in the last 5 weeks.  It is amazing to me how out of shape a person can get for normal daily things in such a short time.

The race was good.  My team mates all rode at the front the whole race and all finished great. I’d loaned my set of race wheels to Joseph Schmalz, and after getting a mediocre start, he eventually rode to the lead and won the race.   So at least my wheels are getting to race some this fall.

The course was tricky with a lot of tight turns that demanded acceleration after.  I liked the course a lot.  I raced the event last year and finished 2nd to Joseph.   It was a bigger course, more open, but still tricky.

Anyway, I’m going to try to go to more races on the weekends, if I have the energy.  I need to get out more.  I walked 2 miles last night before going to bed.  I find that if I walk, or ride the ergometer, after dinner, I have a much higher chance of sleeping over 5 hours.  These head injury deals are peculiar.

I’m heading to KU Med, in Kansas City, in a couple hours for a ton of appointments.  My first appointment there is a MRI at 10:15 and the last is with my neurologist at 3, so I’m going to be beat again.  Hopefully I get some more answers to a slew of questions that I have.  I tried to get the answers on the Internet, but TBIs are hard to get specific answers about.   I’ve really improved a ton, at least feel better, the last two weeks, so I’m hoping that makes my doctors happy.  It makes me.

Shadd, Joseph and I before the start.

Shadd, Joseph and I before the start.

Brian, Trudi, Tucker and I.

Brian, Trudi, Tucker and I.

Joseph running the logs.

Joseph running the logs.

Garrick running the logs.

Garrick running the logs.

Shadd, Finn's dad, riding the logs.

Shadd, Finn’s dad, riding the logs.

And here is FInn, who showed up everyone. He won the Junior State Championships and is a super bike handler.

And here is FInn, who showed up everyone. He won the Junior State Championships and is a super bike handler.

The podium - Joseph Schmaltz 1st, Garrick Valverde, 2nd, Shadd Smith, 3rd, Brian Jensen, 4th and Britton Kusiak, 5th.

The podium – Joseph Schmalz , Garrick Valverde,  Shadd Smith, , Brian Jensen,  and Britton Kusiak.

Tucker met a new friend, Max, at the race.

Tucker met a new friend, Max, at the race.

He was as done as me last night.

He was as done as me last night.

The Wizard of Oz was on last night. I love that movie.

The Wizard of Oz was on last night. I love that movie.

 

World Cup Cyclocross Cancelled Today because of Weather

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Yep, the title of this post is pretty strange.  Especially for a cyclo-x.  That is what cyclocross is all about, weather.  Inclement weather at that.  But, the promoters and/or the UCI decided that the weather was too bad in Koksijde Belgium to hold the race.

I was looking forward to watching the race this morning.  This lack of sleep thing makes the early morning way too long.  It takes me a while to get to a mental point that I can actually move around and do things, so early morning cross fills the gap quite well.  Not to be.

So, no cross this morning.  Me,personally, I’m hoping to get driven to Lawrence to watch the 360 Cup Cross race later today.  It all depends how I feel.  I should just commit right now.

Anyway, here is a link to the announcement.  There are a couple tweets by Wout, and such, that applaud the cancellation of the race.  I guess I get it.  They aren’t getting any big start money to do it, since it is a World Cup, so I guess they would just rather skip it.   And the promoters were probably worried about the attendance.  Belgian fans are pretty weather resistant, but I’m sure that storms and wind would have made the fans apprehensive about coming.  And that gate fee is an important part of the viability of the event.

I feel pretty badly for all the foreigners, especially the 14 Americans, that flew over there to do the race.  I’m sure that some, or most of them will stay for a week longer and do the next World Cup, which is next weekend, but it is still a big deal financially and motivational too.  In 2014, American  Gage Hecht won the  junior race in Koksijde.  

Koksijde is a pretty sandy place.  The race is known for the sand.  You would have thought some rain and such would have made the course better for the riders?  Guess not.  Guess it was too windy.

Anyway, if you want to watch some cross, I posted the video from the race yesterday.  You can click on the YouTube link on the bottom right if you want to watch the women’s race.   Wout and Van der Poel didn’t race, but it was still a good race to watch.  American Stephen Hyde was riding at the front early on, but must have had a problem, or just the travel got to him, because he finished 13th, which is still good.  Okay, have a good Sunday.  Enjoy.

Koksijde sand.

Koksijde sand.

 

Riders Coming to Personal Terms with Doping

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I have written a bunch about guys doping in our sport.  It just irks me.  The sport is so beautiful and fulfilling already, I’m not sure why everyone decided that you had to win, thus dope, to have a successful career.  To me, as I’ve written a bunch, it is just like cheating your friends out of life experiences and money.   But, maybe, nowadays, theses guys aren’t all friends and they just want to beat each other, I don’t know.

Thomas Dekker sort of wrote an autobiography, My Fight,  where he confesses to some of his doping situations. I haven’t read it, I don’t think it is in English,  but at Cyclingnews, they quoted some of his writing.  He talks about the 2007 Tour de France, where he was riding for Rabobank.   He said that doping was a “way of life” on that team.  He goes into detail about his, and other riders preparation for the race.  Remember, this is the year that his Rabobank team mate, ex-MTB’r, Michael Rasmussen, was most likely going to win the race, but they kicked him out just before the end.  Michael wrote his own book,Yellow Fever, that narc’d on Ryder Hesjedal.  

Anyway, they asked a bunch of riders that were on Thomas’ team about his claims and they all say that he is full of shit.  I find that strange.  Michael Boogert has a few quotes.  He pretty much denies and affirms Dekker’s accounts at the same time.

Again, remember, Michael Boogert has already admitted to serious doping during his career. Even so, he says – “I totally cannot agree with what I’ve read so far.”  He goes on to say it is comes as an “unpleasant surprise”.  No shit.  Who wants someone else writing about stuff that is going to make you look like an ass to most everyone you know.

The author of Thomas autobiography said this today about Boogerd’s claims. – “My publisher didn’t want me to contact the people, but since I’m a journalist I felt obliged to contact them. I spoke with everybody, especially Boogerd. He knew every detail that would appear [in the book] so the fact that he now says he was not contacted is just bullshit. He is living a lie, and he knows it. That is the whole problem with Boogerd and his generation. Lying about these things over and over again is so blatantly stupid.”  Here is a link to his article.  

I know most of the guys that have been “caught” here in the US, doping.  At least most of the professionals.  And really, I like most of them.  Not all, but most.  I doubt too many of them would call me a friend now.  Maybe a few, but not most.  That doesn’t bother me too much. Even Lance sent me a message when I was in the hospital last month.  That was unexpected.

The weirdest part of the coming out process, at least my opinion, is that these guys are always trying to convince me how good they were before they started doping.  It is sort of like David Millar saying that he didn’t need to take EPO to win the World TT Championships in Hamilton because he was naturally good enough to do it anyway.  That is ludicrous.  How would he know?

I talk to these guys and they always tell me that my time frame is off and that they started cheating way after I’m saying they started.  But they don’t realize that I saw their performance first hand.  I’d seen the pre-doping ability and then, almost instantly, the doping ability.  And it isn’t close to the same.  Anyone that has been racing bikes seriously, could easily tell the difference.

Even George Hincapie’s book,The Loyal Lieutenant, which I haven’t read, supposedly doesn’t have much regret written.  Here is a review.  I don’t understand how a guy that raced doped his whole career, doesn’t feel a little remorseful that is the path that he felt he had to take. The guy is a millionaire, still running successful businesses, that only succeed because of his cycling career, where he cheated most of it, and he writes a book that pats himself on the back.  To me that seems kind of crazy.

It is strange that I have to think that Thomas Dekker  is being more “honest” here, exposing his experience, than Michael Boogert, and others, who try to smear his memories.  I’m not sure either is 100% correct, but addressing the epidemic has to been part of the way to fix the problem.

I guess that each rider has their own demons, or not, about what they did.  Most try to justify it in some regard, just because it was so rampant.   Maybe that is what I’d do if I was in their situation, I don’t know.  I do know when your most your peers think what you did was ill moral, then you shouldn’t be writing a book justifying it.  Or criticizing other people’s books that you are mentioned in.  Just go on, be the normal nice guy, that most of them are, and time will cure the issues.  That is my advice.

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