Riding Gravel in Smoke

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

The title pretty much says what I‘ve been doing the last week.  I think I’ve only ridden my road bike once in the past 10 days.  I’m not exactly sure why I’ve been doing this.  Probably a few reasons.

One is that I’m trying to get in some miles and it is a minimum of 60 miles back and forth, so I’ve had a couple 400 + mile weeks, even though I’m not feeling that good riding.  Two is that it is “they” are doing a ton of burning west of town and south of Topeka, like the whole state, so I have a much higher chance of breathing better air if I’m riding east toward Lawrence and Kansas City.

That wasn’t the case on Saturday.  Brian rode the 30+ miles over to Topeka and Bill and I met up with him.  Then we headed back east and eventually south.  We could see plumes of smoke just about everywhere we looked.  We did a serpentine route, trying to avoid riding directly into any smoke.

It worked out pretty good most of the way, until we got back to Lawrence for some coffee, but riding back to Topeka, it was pretty bad.  We were just slowly riding back into a deep haze of shit.

I’m driving Bromont over to Manhattan this morning, for a three week check-up, and I’m interested to see how much of the actually grasslands they have burned.  It is pretty much Flint Hills most of the way from Topeka to Manhattan, so it will be a good gauge of what percentage of grass has been burned.

I have been a little better this year than some of the past.  Well, that’s not really right, because recently, I’ve just left the state for the majority of the burning season.  I don’t think it is very good for my health to be exercising 4 plus hours in these conditions.  But, this year, I have to stay around for Bromont, so it is what it is.

Dennis is having his one week check-up tomorrow and he’s hoping to get a good report and head back north up to Wisconsin.  He’s actually supposed to be flying over to Siberia for a World Loppet meeting, but I don’t think he is up to that.   I think/know he’s a little bored just waiting around, kind of lame, with not much to do.  He might be driving back into Siberia, sort of, because it snowed overnight up in Cable.   At least the National Championship NCAA game is tonight.

I woke up early yesterday for Tour of Flanders.  That was a pretty good last hour and a half.  I don’t really understand some of the tatics used by some teams, but it is way easier to criticize bad tactics after the fact.  For the first hour I watched the race, it was Team Sky, with Wiggins, sitting at the front pulling the remaining of the field along.  Then at the end, they didn’t have anyone in contention, or anyone left to help even.

I don’t see how anyone could have beaten Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) yesterday.  He seemed like he could have shelled just about everyone, which he did, and if that didn’t work out, he has it in his arsenal to outsprint them.

Trudi made Easter dinner and we had Catherine’s mom over, plus a couple other people,  Eventually, Keith, who flew back from Seattle and had dinner in Kansas City with his family, came by with some other friends.  It was nice.

Anyway, I have to get going.  I need to be at K-State by 9:30.  Dennis has never been to Manhattan, so he’s taggin‘ along.

They were smoke plumes nearly everywhere we looked on Saturday.

They were smoke plumes nearly everywhere we looked on Saturday.

The riding did have a few real primitive sections.

The riding did have a few real primitive sections.

Topeka was the epicenter of burning, of the whole US, on Saturday.

This is a burn map and Topeka was the epicenter of burning, of the whole US, on Saturday.

Eating dinner last night before everyone else showed up.

Eating dinner last night before everyone else showed up.

Dennis has been taking a mid-day nap ever since he shattered his elbow.  Doesn't seem extreme.

Dennis has been taking a mid-day nap ever since he shattered his elbow. Doesn’t seem extreme.


14 thoughts on “Riding Gravel in Smoke

  1. Bob Gregg

    I started writing this right after the race today while it was still fresh in my mind. I’ve read no recaps from any of the media outlets since then, I’ve placed myself in a bubble- waiting until Steve finally started up the discussion about it on his blog. Here goes:

    The best post-race analyst today is Cosmo Catalano. Period. However, the best analysis you will read today about the Tour of Flanders and Peter Sagan will be mine, I think. A tiny bit about me first: Lifetime amateur, Cat 3 is where I stopped improving. Been racing for 21 years. I’m 47. I’ve won exactly 1 crit, and 5 individual tt’s in that whole time. I got 3rd place once in a good size CX race. But not for lack of trying or commitment- I’m. Just. Not. Good. Enough. I’ve placed many times from 2nd to dead-ass-last with many DNFs, too. However, the main thing about me- that anyone who really knows me, knows is this- I eat, breathe, sleep, and shit cycling- and PRO cycling in particular.

    I know tactics, I study the game, I love watching The Game. I have quite a collection of cycling DVDs that I’ve watched and re-watched over the years on the trainer every winter. I have the mind for cycling but I don’t have the engine to win myself. At least it appears I don’t. It’s just the evidence I have. That’s life, I’m cool with it. I’d be a career water carrier had I ever made pro. But I should’ve been a coach or director sportiff. Those that can- do, those that can’t- teach.

    This morning I started watching the race with 120k to go. First of all, Kristoff was the deserving winner today. Hats off to Terpstra for velcroing himself to K’s wheel and getting second. However, today was Peter Sagan’s race to lose, and he and only he lost it. Here’s why:

    First, Sagan’s problem on Tinkov is the same problem he had on Liquigas- he has NO ONE to help him. He is on his own and when he wins it’s on pure talent. Period. He has to freelance every sprint finish, for instance. Sagan has the same exact problem that Zabel had when he was with Ullrich. Or Hincapie when he was with Armstrong. When you build a team, you either build your team around the Tour de France man or you build your team around your Classics man. You can’t do both! History has proved this time and again.

    Sagan is on a “super team” now with Contador. It’s easy to see that Oleg built the team around Alberto and not Peter. However, he decided to pay Sagan $5M per year because he “knows” (as everyone else can see) how talented Sagan is and figured the extra $$$ motivation was the exact recipe, the exact “bump” that Peter needed as he becomes the Super Champion that everyone has pegged him to be as he goes to the Next Level. With Oleg, Peter would reach the next level, surely. Perhaps Oleg figured, despite all the historical evidence, that things would be “different” on his team. Why? Because he is Oleg Tinkov, billionaire megalomaniac. He is not used to things not going “his” way.

    Today’s race was chaos. Neutral cars twice knocking riders off their bikes ala Johnnie Hoogerland at the TdF. This has to be fixed, but with all the cars in the peloton, it’s a minor miracle that it doesn’t happen all the time, every race.

    I could see that Peter Sagan had the legs today. He was smart. He stayed near the front and out of trouble the entire race. He played it cool and he was finally ready to win HIS monument. The Monument that everyone has been waiting and hoping he would win. Everyone was marking him, of course. But there was a problem in the chase after Kristoff and Terpstra were gone. Sagan was alone, but there were too many others up there with teammates. They could look at him all day but it was everyone else’s responsibility to chase if they wanted to win. They had the numbers. So Peter was smart, and he sat, and waited for his time to shine and win. His tactics were perfect. On the last climb he went at 100% exactly when he should have. Only Greg Van Avermaet had the strength to go with him. This was ideal for Sagan. Now it was he and a BMC (a star rider), with him.

    They had the gap now with the only thing left to do is catch Kristoff and the exhausted Terpstra. The 3rd group now had to decide what to do. BMC isn’t going to chase. The others with the numbers watched. The gap to Sagan and GVA was opening. And they were holding it. The chase didn’t organize. Never did.

    But there was a big problem in the Sagan and GVA chase- they NEVER went at 100%. I don’t care what they say later 80- 90% was it. Had they taken a brief time to recover from Sagan’s big move and teamed together at 100% effort for only a few K’s- they would’ve easily caught Kristoff and Terpstra, and then battled it out for the win with Sagan outsprinting them all for the big victory he is so overdue for.

    But today taught us something about Peter Sagan that we will know from now on. Sagan is the modern day Jan Ullrich. Jan Ullrich was the “most talented rider in the pro peloton,” as Phil and Paul always said, endlessly, even when Lance was well up the road with another Tour in the bag. The problem is that Ullrich was not a Killer, he lacked the mind of a Champion like Lance, like Merckx, like Hinault, like LeMond. Jan was mentally fragile. Peter Sagan is by far the most talented rider in this era, but he is Jan Ullrich mentally. A boy in a man’s body.

    Because today, if Sagan were the Super Champion he is supposed to be, if he were the modern day Merckx- at some point with less than 5k to go- when he knew (as we all did that were watching) that the chase was not coming. He would’ve then attacked GVA with all his might, dropped him and quickly bridged to the leaders and then finished them in the sprint. At least he would’ve have tried. Were he a Champion. This is exactly what Cancellara would’ve done. This is exactly what Boonen would’ve done. You might say Sagan is not a tt guy. Neither is Boonen. Well, remember Sagan did win a semi-classic (can’t remember which) on a cold day last year or year before when he went solo with 3k to go and won, easily. He has the engine, folks! For sprints, climbs and tt’s. That’s why some even talk about him one day winning the TdF. It’s never going happen. Why? You already know why now.

    Cancellara is a Super Champion. Tom Boonen is a Super Champion. Peter Sagan is not a Super Champion – yet. And maybe he never will be. He never went at 100% except for once today, he never attacked GVA when he should’ve. He waited, and he waited. And he lost 3rd to the dead GVA in the sprint. But wait, Sagan didn’t even try to sprint GVA for the podium! 4th place because his mind still belongs to a boy. 4th place. Golf clap.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Peter Sagan. I want him to win! I want him to be a Super Champion. But I really hope someday Peter’s mind grows into his body and he becomes a man. And he becomes a Killer, and a Champion. I want him to be the modern Hinault, the modern Merckx. I know he wants to be them so bad it hurts. But for now, he is still Jan Ullrich- Super Boy.

    Robert “Bob” Gregg (normally spelled “Greigg,” and pronounced “Greg” but no one gets that because of the stupid “i” that has been a nuisance in our entire family’s life).

    PS: Keep reading if you are curious. I’m changing my life now after being in the hospital for a week with c. diff. colitis. Dropping the “i” in my name is one of the many small changes I’m making. I’ve now been out one week with 2 more weeks of recovery to go. The infection went long enough that my colon was in danger of dying. My surgeon told me in the emergency room I was either leaving the hospital with my colon or I was leaving without it. It was right then, in my emergency room bed, waiting 4 hours for a room to open- I decided my life would change from that day forward- colon or not. I’m still with colon, thank God.

    I was a man so set in his ways, it took this lightning bolt of bad luck to make me realize that it was time to start living again or just continue waiting to die as I had been for years. See, I’ve been a depressive my entire life since middle school, and sports has always been my medicine to cope. Football, track, men’s league basketball after high school. Cycling eventually became my drug of choice after I did RAGBRAI in 1987. I know there are many of you out there like me who self-medicate with endurance sports. Please get help. I never sought help for depression until 2006 when it was so bad I couldn’t stand it anymore. I never got married, no kids, I live alone with 2 cats. All due to the depression that has ruled my life. But no more! All thanks to what happened to me by dumb luck.

    The big change is I am hanging up the bike for a few months. Something had to give, and it was the bike, and I will be working on fixing my life and my house, and becoming a better employee, and working harder on my part-time business, and spending more time with my family and the few friends I have. I’ll ride, but only once a week or twice or not at all. My Litespeed frame is on the way in for a refurbish to TN so I can’t have it for 6-8 weeks. I don’t need to ride 6 days a week anymore to keep my head straight enough to cope with the day. I will have my cross bike if I feel like riding again in a few weeks- or not.

    Anyway, I will create a blog about the danger of c. diff. colitis spreading like wild fire in the healthy population, outside of hospitals and the nursing homes where it normally stays- as I promised to my Dr. I would do. I will begin the cycling blog and another blog I’ve been putting off for years. I love to write more than anything. I am making these changes and so many more- and you can, too. Life is looking great and there is nowhere from here to go but up for me because it’s been down for so long. But I decided I want to live for real. No longer am I hiding my depression from family and friends. You know what? I was really good at it because I’ve found out no one else knew even though I think I can see it pretty easily in others. From experience.

    BTW, how did I get c. diff. colitis? The same way you may have and others will: A well-intentioned health care professional prescribed me- a very physically healthy person 5-6 (formerly 145 lbs. and weighing way less right now), a way-too powerful antibiotic for a relatively minor infection. It set me up perfectly to get sick- and I did. Because that antibiotic is among the ones known to have a link to c. diff colitis.

    Always question the antibiotics you are prescribed. Take them reluctantly rather than asking for them. And if you ever get diarrhea for more than 2 days in a row- GO TO YOUR DR. IMMEDIATELY. I tried to treat myself first, not knowing what I had, and paid the price. Big time.

    Thanks for reading. Now laugh at me, mock, agree, disagree, I don’t care but I hope someone out there like me reads my account and gets their shit together so it won’t take the “Lightning Bolt out of the Blue” that it took for me to start fixing my life. 11:00 am. Sunday 4/5. God Bless.

  2. MS

    Great commentary on Sagan. I like him too but I hate the Oligarch that rules his team and was happy to see him fail simply because I can’t stand the money-buys-everything that is currently backing him. Wish he was in a better situation for him.

    I too was prescribed a very powerful antibiotic twice in 6 months. I spent one night curled up in the fetal position thinking I was going to die. Fortunately my internal med doc is not a pill pusher and she immediately started me on some heavy probiotics for a month. She said she has seen this in healthy patients for up to a year after heavy antibiotics. The third episode where they wanted to give me the same damn antibiotic, I said no thanks. Probably took a little longer to heal but I didn’t screw my gut up again.

    Google didn’t turn up anything but I’d read your blog if I knew where it was.

  3. Bob Gregg

    Thanks MS. No blog yet. I haven’t got to it yet. I’ll be recovering for two more weeks and there’s lots to do still on the “to do” list. I’ll probably put a link up here when I have it up and going. BTW, my surgeon told me (in his opinion, of course) that probiotics are an absolute waste of money. He told me the best thing I or anyone else should do is eat yogurt for the natural bacteria in it. He says it doesn’t matter what type, brand, greek or not, organic or not. If you want to help your GI be healthy. EAT YOGURT. This comes from his experience treating the poor suckers like me that he is now meeting more and more because c. diff is spreading like a “wildfire” his words, into the normal “healthy” population instead of hospital and nursing homes where it has been common. I had no idea and I bet many out there don’t either. That’s why I really want to help spread the word. I don’t want anyone to experience the week of hell that I did.

  4. H Luce

    You probably know this by now, but depression – and the concomitant isolation – can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to bacterial infections and the like. Make the effort to get out and around. Ask your doc about drinking kefir, it’s like liquid yogurt and it’s cheaper and better tasting than probiotics: “Kefir is a product very similar to yogurt; it is usually made from milk but can be made with other liquids such as coconut milk or water. Kefir, though, has the advantage of being 99 percent lactose free, making it a good option for those who are lactose intolerant. Additionally, kefir is among the richest sources of probiotics available, with three times the amount of probiotics typically found in yogurt. It can be purchased in most grocery stores.” http://cdifffoundation.org/tag/kefir/

  5. Jason

    I think the top 4 finished exactly where they should have based on their strength. I think everybody played their tactics correctly, but at the end of 260km, it just came down to which one was strongest. Sagan was stronger than all but 3 of the guys, but he was not stronger than GVA. No way he’d lose the sprint for 3rd. And Sagan and GVA could not hang with Kristoff or Terpstra up the climbs or close the gap in between. The only reason that they started closing the gap towards the end was that Kristoff and Terpstra were playing their tacticts for the win and slowed down before the sprint (i.e., Terpstra stopped contributing).

  6. LD

    Best thing you can do for your gut is clean up your diet (get rid of all processed food and as they say, JERF – just eat real food). Probiotics are effective but you need to “feed” them the substrate they need to thrive. Look up prebiotics and specifically, resistant starch. Good place to look for alternative medicine is Chris Kresser – he doesn’t go for fads and does good research. Also, avoid cipro (and other “flaxin”) antibiotics whenever you can – lots of nasty side effects.

  7. jed schneider

    I don’t remember this kind of ‘primitive’ road on my commutes to lawrence. have they been busy tearing out roads? 🙂

  8. mike crum

    i just wana know if steve tilford ever finished higher than 3rd in flanders.. cause thats the place GVA came in.. you know, the guy steve said cant corner..whats your best placing in flanders steve??????

  9. Ken Webb

    You are such a troll. I don’t know if you read Dilbert, but you remind me a lot of a character that was in that comic strip last Thursday and Friday.

  10. mike crum

    ken webb, just a legit question for steve. he made fun of gva falling so i was just wondering if hes ever finished higher in flander than gva, the guy that cant corner per steve..

  11. Wayne MC

    A few comments on your commentary;

    1) GVA instigated that move, Sagan followed.
    2) Boonen can TT, watch how he races and wins in the classics, he spends a lot of time in the wind, you can’t do that if you can’t TT. Also check out 2009 Vuelta stage 7 TT, he was 11th, 1min down on FC including his crash. He also won a ton of TTs as a junior.
    3) I believe Sagan was done at the end when GVA went for 3rd, similar to how he had nothing left at E3

  12. Bob Gregg

    1) Okay. Sure, I misstated a bit, going from memory there. GVA went first, Sagan saw and throttled it. Then they were gone. But, Sagan was stronger. He was fresh from sitting in.

    2) Right. Because the winner is always the guy who rides at the front in the wind longest, right? Like at the Cat 4 races. 09 Vuelta. I don’t have that one. They all can rip off a good tt from time to time. You now, sometimes the jersey or whatever, “makes him ride like two men.” TT champ junior? Always the true forecast for success in pro tts.

    3) Didn’t see E3. Oh yeah, Sagan was done at the end of de Ronde. Mentally and the legs. Again, after they got the gap, had he and GVA recovered a bit then agreed “hey, let’s chase at 100% for 2K or 3k. They have 15 sec on us right now. Drill it, and we got em’.” They would have rode up to Kristoff who was still pretty strong, and NT, just hanging on. But no, Sagan doubted himself and they rode at 80-90 percent, for whatever reasons. But they STILL had time. Were Sagan a Champion, he would have attempted (at least once, twice?) to get the drop on GVA with about 5k to go and tried and tried to bridge. When he won G-W 2013, Sagan went at 4K and won easily. He was the best sprinter of the 4 out front at Flanders 15. A true champion (you know, like Cancellara at Flanders 2014 would have maybe taken the bit, kept trying, kept sprinting, even maneuvered the 3 others, maybe even played possum. I forgot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUbAjQFondo

    Sagan was done. With his head down. Thinking about what he was going to tell Oleg in the bus. GVA found something then. A lot do when they smell the line. Got the podium. Well done, GVA!

    Good luck to Sagan at Roubaix tomorrow. I hope I’m all WRONG and he kills it, by miles. Egg on my face! But the problem is Stybar is FLYING right now and he’s winning tomorrow. That is, without late crash (knocked by selfie fan on road), flat tire, or Shimano car hitting him.


Comments are closed.