Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Shoes on the Way.

My LBS, Race Pace is having a great sale right now on SIDI's and my old shoes never fit correctly anyway, so I took the plunge and ordered a pair of the Genius 5 model. I tried them on and they seem to feel a lot better than my Diadora's so I'm looking forward to putting in a long ride with them to confirm my suspicions. Anyway, they'll be in tomorrow. Yippeeee!

Today's Ride: 2 hours of really easy spinning on mostly flat roads. It was windy out there and on some sections I think I was going under 10mph on flat roads. I saw a lot of riders out on the road too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again.

It was nice getting back on the road for some quality time with my bike after a wild Christmas feeding frenzy. We went home to my parents and spent a couple days culminating in a little dinner for 30 Saturday night. The car was completely loaded down with gifts on the way home yesterday. The girls made out like bandits. It was non-stop gift opening for those two. Mae got a new bike and Mari got a new iPod. She's listening to ABBA as I type this. Mama Mia. Some things just don't change. Yeah, I know you liked ABBA when you were a kid. I won't tell anyone.

Today's Ride: 4 hours, All pretty easy with few 20 minute harder efforts thrown in. I got to wear my new hat, gloves, socks, tights and long sleeve jersey. A real bike-shop cowboy out there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fortune Cookie Read of the Day.

Greed trumps brains for far too many people. - Just thinking about the people taken by the Madoff Scandal.

A Sunday in Hell: 1976 Paris Roubaix

I stayed up late last night and watched Jorgen Leth's Documentary on the 1976 edition of the Paris Roubaix. I know when you think of Paris Roubaix visions of rain, mud, cobbles and cow manure dance in your head, but in 1976, as in most years I've learned, the weather was great for a bike race, sunny and relatively warm. What I found particularly fascinating about this race is how the great champions, Merckx, De Vlaemink and Moser really take charge in the races and just pull and pull. They truly were in a league of their own. It's a wonderful DVD. Watch it.

A Side Note: I find it particularly touching knowing that the winner of this 1976 edition of the race died some years later of a heart attack at the age of 31. So sad, yet he died a great champion having won the Queen of the Classics.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding New Roads.

Today's ride was all about looking for new roads and I found some good ones. I wanted to do Piney Grove's steep hill but after that it was all pretty much new except the last part near home. Once I crossed over 30 I headed into farm country just to the east of Westminster. I can't believe I haven't ridden these roads before. There are a lot of short steep climbs on relatively traffic free smooth roads. Just outside of Westminster I started heading south until I got to route 32 and the Royal Farms for a quick coffee stop. After that I caught a terrible chill and the downhill sections towards Eldersburg didn't help to warm me up. I ended up by not coming straight home across the reservoir so I could put some extra time and miles in.

Totals: 4.5 hours of riding. Moderate tempo. felt really good, but a little cold.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bad Boys Bad Boys, What You Gonna Do?

The weather here was warm for this time of year so I went out for a late ride and finished in the dark. The rush hour traffic was bad, but the bonus for me was a good draft behind big trucks and slow moving cars. It sounded like WWIII down at the Marriottsville shooting range. Nice to see people are practicing for the coming Armageddon, though I think I heard #8 shot rushing through the tree branches overhead. A little close for comfort.

I stayed in the big ring up over the hill at Patapsco and pushed hard until I hit the rollers on the other side of the railroad tracks past the Korean Christian Church. I wonder what the characters say on the side of the building?

It was pretty uneventful from there until I got back on Liberty at Eldersburg. Liberty is nice because it's about 4 miles of steady downhill all the way to the Reservoir. I can really get moving here. At Georgetown I ran through a yellow light that turned red just as I went under it. I had a bad feeling, and sure enough flashing lights came up beside me and screamed for me to pull over. I stopped on Ridge road and pulled the bike up over the curb and in front of a Christmas Tree place. The skin-headed cop proceeded to scream at me about the dangers of riding stupid to which I agreed completely with before he left me go on my way. He's right and I was stupid. It looked like some lame scene out of the Cops tv show.

From there it was a mad dash to home. Just your average everyday ride. 2 hours of riding which puts me up to about 10 for the week.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One of Those Days.

Have you ever set out on a ride and just new from the start that it was gonna be a good day? I get those once in awhile and had one today so I went hard to see how it would go. There was a fierce headwind out on Marriottsville whacking me in the face but I got in the drops and plowed through it. Then on the way back it seemed like the wind shifted and blasted me again in the face across the reservoir and the rest of the way home. It didn't matter. Now, I know my average speed, elapsed time for this route and average heart rate are only so accurate in telling how I did when there's weather and wind variables to take into account. A power meter would be a great way to see how it "really" went. Ah, that would be great, especially when trying to see how things are progressing over time, but I don't have one of those. What I can do is try to figure out what circumstances over the last few days or weeks got me to have "One of those days." Something I'd have to figure out even if I did have a power meter. So that's the question.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pretty Cool.

I guess the equivalent to previewing the 2009 Giro Route on National TV in the USA would be ESPN airing 14 hours of the NFL Draft, or the Speed Channel showing 400 hours of the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction. Bad examples? Probably. But I find it so cool cycling gets such a level of respect somewhere in the world at least. Even with all it's drug scandals it's still the most beautiful sport out there.

I haven't heard this much Italian spoken in one place since my barbershop back in Dunmore, but I still find the video worth watching.

Today's Ride: 2 hours. I felt pretty bad out there so I went super easy. I even stopped for a coffee, something I rarely do.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Long and Sunny Ride.

It was a busy week at work so I was itching (like always) to get out there on the road (indoor riding sucks) and unwind. I decided to take a similar route to last Saturday's ride with a couple more hills and distance added here and there. This one's got around 3050ft of climbing with nothing really steep or long except for that short 18% stretch on Piney Grove. Perfect for this time of year really. I went pretty easy with a few harder efforts on some of the hills and just over 4 hours of riding. The last 15 miles or so were kinda hard for me and I felt like I was nearing a bonk, but all ended fine. I've been trying to watch my weight after last month's food bender and only carrying water on the bike takes it outta ya. I saw some fellow Kelly Benefits guys riding the other way over near Greenspring, some more riders out in Boring and one or two over by I83. Here's hoping tomorrow is as nice as today.

Added Note: My camera phone was stolen last year at the gym, but I'm thinking it's time to get another one so I can take pics and some video during these rides. The scenery out there today was just beautiful. It would be cool to share some of the views.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I was just thinking about Obama's big plan to create a massive public works project that will create 2.5 million new jobs over the next 2.5 years. I think rebuilding our infrastructure is a great idea and think it's long overdue. Hopefully some is spent on alternative transportation and our IT infrastructure. This plan has been estimated to cost anywhere between 400 and 700 billion dollars (plan on doubling that, it's government we are talking about). Money we don't have.

Hey Barack, I have a better idea that won't cost nearly a much. How about temporarily suspending the roughly 1 million work visas the USA gives to foreign workers each year? That will give us 2.5 million new jobs for Americans over the next 2.5 years (same as your plan). On top of that, how about securing our borders for that amount of time to keep illegal immigrants out (like your Auntie) and enforcing our current laws on immigration. That will create another million or so jobs easy. I'm all for LEGAL immigration to the USA and believe it's a great thing for our country. But right now in these tough times, it's time for change we really need and can afford.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Do it for Papa!

Nice cycling related ad I stumbled across. Doesn't the one guy look a bit like Coppi?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Passing Time on an Indoor Trainer.

I don't think podcasts have caught on in a big way on the internet, but they are a great (ok barely tolerable) way to pass time when riding an indoor trainer. A couple of my favorites are Competitor Radio, Icon-O-Cast by Lunar Design, Fred Cycling and The News from Lake Wobegon. I find that if I mix these up with a song or two in between I can get through an hour or so without dying of boredom at 90rpm. I probably should've braved the 25 degree temps, icy roads and 50mph gusts today and went out on the road. I'm such a wuss.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Riding in Snow.

I got a late start and I knew it wasn't gonna end well. Sure enough, I rode the last 45 minutes in slush and snow. Managed to get a 3 hour ride in anyway. A lot of hills.

*Back from Dinner, Wife made some excellent Paella. Tip: If you want a good under $5 ($4 if you look around) bottle of wine with dinner, try Crane Lake. They're all good.

I saw a lot of mountain bikers out there today. Those guys looked they were having fun while I was slipping and sliding around trying to end my ride with a wreck to get it over with. Loch Raven must have some great trails as they seem to congregate there like Catholics to the Vatican. I really gotta dust off the mountain bike.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Go Custom.

Some riders have special needs. Take this particularly well dressed gentleman for example. To the untrained eye, his bike might look pretty much like any other, but noooooo, this bike is made to order and fits him like a glove. You just can't expect this kind of service from the mass-market bicycle manufacturers. Sometimes you gotta go custom.

A Hint?

Sounds to me like Lance is trying to tell us something. Click the pic to see what I mean.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ridin into the Sunset.

Yeah, I know. Cheeeezy, but tonight's ride at sunset was pretty amazing. I saw one like this over by the Raven's place as I rode by. I didn't have a camera with me so this image courtesy of sweet nostalgia will have to do.

Training Camp Struggle?

Hmmmm. Does it look like Lance is struggling to keep up here or is it just me? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I learned a long time ago that if you want to see how a guy's doing out there on a ride, look at their face. Of course, this is Lance and he's probably bluffing. Or,... after 5 hours on the road he just needs to take a dump.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger.

Or something like that. I just got off the trainer tonight and wanted to find something that tries to explain what it's all about. Elizabethan Style Torture, That's what it is.

Lance Is Riding The Tour

I just read on Lance's twitter that he is indeed riding the 2009 Tour de France. Now the question is if he intends to try and win it.

All That is Good Racing.

Sounds like Red Rose Races has risen from the ashes and will be back in 2009 under the All That is Good banner. I got this email from Rich Rouff last night. I guess you can look for a list of races for next year soon! I wish Rich the Best of Luck!

From Rich Ruoff, allthatisgood.org

Hello Friends, associates and people who have no memory of me.

This is my new email address. Please disregard all previous email addresses. I will use this address for my personal and business emails.

By new business is "All That is Good". Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, All That is Good replaces Red Rose Races.com as the preeminent promoter of the best series of epic bicycle road races in the U.S.A. From the Tour de Ephrata to the Tour of Lancaster County and many more Super one-day road races look for a fantastic 2009 season and beyond.

We're not afraid of the economy. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. All That is Good will create it's own economy! Check out our new website at www.allthatisgood.org.

If you received this email and have no recollection of having ever met me or dealing with me, my apologies. I have developed quite the contact list over the years. Just hit delete.

Richard Ruoff,
Director of All That is Good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bike and Beer.

The whole family was together for the weekend which is pretty rare these days with everyone spread throughout the country. It was really nice spending time with my Mom and Dad, Sister and Brothers. Five of us ran the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick, PA on Thursday. (I'm gonna run it next year I promise) They had a record turnout for their 99th edition of the race. It's a real tradition. I got a couple rides in, drank some beer, ate a ton of food and now I'm glad to be back home to recover from it all.

Yesterday's Ride: I got on the road about 1pm in the afternoon and did a loop I used to ride a lot when I was living back home. It's nice because it's not overly hilly for the area, but still includes about 2100 feet of climbing. A few of them are pretty long which was a welcome change from the short steep climbs I do down here in Maryland. 2hours: 25 minutes and 45 miles in total. Overall a great kick-off for my 2009 Season.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Losing the Turkey.

I was able to sneak out for awhile today and ride with my brother. It felt good to be out on the road after eating pretty much non-stop for the last two days. We did an easy to slightly fast 25 mile loop taking us to the base of Red Rock, down to Benton, over to Huntington Mills before finishing back on Red Hill Road. My brother hung in there really well today and we had a good 8 mile run in the 24-26 average mph range before heading back into the hills.  He's got a motor on the flat sections but still needs some work on the hills.  Tomorrow if the weather holds out I want to do a long easy solo ride into the mountains. I might take his Ridley and write a review.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blog Find: Closet Cooking.

Looking for something interesting to cook tonight? Check out Closet Cooking. His recipes and photography are really nice.

It Never Stops.

Bobby Jindal was campaigning (I mean speaking) in Iowa over the weekend. Election season is always in season it seems. hmmmm. I wonder if they have a pic of him riding a bike yet?

It worked for this guy.

...this guy stopped smoking at least long enough for this photo.

...but it didn't work so well for this guy, even though he's got the coolest bike, in Eddy Orange no less. (Big Chainring!) I guess we'll find out. What kind of bike do you think Bobby should ride?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas is Back!

As I watched TV this evening I noticed something. Christmas is cool again! I'm sure many of you have noticed over the last dozen or so years how Christmas and Santa have taken a beating with the politically correct retailer crowd. Ya sure, easy when people are racking up their credit cards and blowing home equity year'round with big screen tv's, new gadgets and bling bling. Well this year with the economy bad and spending down, look who's back!! Well if I was Santa I'd tell these retailers to umm take this, see picture above.

Don't worry Santa, some of us always found Christmas cool, and the reason has very little to do with retail sales.

101K Has a Nice Sound To It.

It's been awhile since my last ride so today I woke up raring to go. Yesterday my two daughters, wife and I did a little road trip north and east of home and ended up crossing over into York County, Pennsylvania. Mae was getting hungry so I started to look for a place to eat. We spotted this kinda cool looking building in Brogue, PA with a Restaurant Sign on it. About a mile past I thought maybe we should turn around and give it a try. When we got to the front door there was sign saying "Today is Our Last Day." So we went in to find what looked very similar to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Turns out the restaurant section had closed last month and they were liquidating everything in the general store area. 50+% off everything. We got some good deals including a few bottles of maple syrup, which I love but it's usually way too expensive for the good stuff. My wife asked when the store was closing. The nice lady at the cash register said 3pm, it was now 2:45pm. Funny how things happen. We just happened to catch the end of a little era there in that store/restaurant.

Back to today's ride: I made some pancakes for breakfast and used some of that roasted walnut maple syrup we picked up yesterday(Yummy!) figuring that would be a good fuel for a longer ride. Above is the route I took, roughly 3-1/2 hours of fairly easy riding. Great roads, nice weather, and plenty of time to think about everything and nothing in particular. Around 63 miles total, but doesn't "over 100K" sound so much better?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photography 101.

You'd think they would at least ask the cute couple in lycra to move aside before snapping her picture. Sheesh!

Paris Sport Bicycles.

When I was a kid in the late 1970's, under 10 years old, there was this little brick bike shop not too far from home in town that sold these great looking bikes called Paris Sport. One of them was orange (Eddy Rode Orange!) and had that tell-tale Reynolds 531 sticker on the seat tube. I was hooked. Of course I had no idea what I was gazing upon other than it looked incredibly well built and really fast.

The owner of the shop was super thin and really grumpy with old pictures and newspaper clippings of himself winning some road races. They hung on the wall next to the cash register. As I snooped around this fascinating place all alone I remember hearing an old lady, probably his mom, yelling from upstairs, "We Have Customers!" He would come stomping downstairs and ask with disdain in his voice what I was looking for. I went back a few times and those same bikes never left the walls, never sold. In fact, if you wanted to buy them the guy wouldn't sell. I tried to buy the orange one when I was older but he wasn't interested. I don't think he ever sold much of anything. He had a lot of stuff stocked in a back room though because once I did manage to snag a new tire for that Honda QA-50 of mine. Nobody in town had those! Much later, when I was probably close to 20, I noticed the shop had burned down and there were a bunch of melted/rusty brown frames laying in the alley next to the burned out shop. That was a sad day.

Here's a couple links to the history of this fine brand of bikes. Some of them were actually made in New Jersey. Who knew?!

Sheldon Brown - On Paris Sport. What a crazy and interesting story!
Dave Moulton - A Framebuilder for Paris Sport at one time.
Paris Sport - A little history lesson

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gent Six Day: Left Nut of the Week!

This week my left nut is going to the Gent Six Day in Belgium. I can almost imagine the sights and sounds and maybe some Belgian beer to go right along with it. Some day I'm gonna witness this in person.

Time for Something New.

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been playing around with my blogger template. I have a couple random image generators running for the banner and for those bicycling posters over there on the right. The cool part is that all I have to do to change banners now is add new ones or delete old ones from a directory on my server. It'll automatically update the page, randomly cycling through each image stored in that directory. PHP scripts are pretty cool. I've got about 10 different banners that will rotate through, (Click on it and a new one will reload) and about 150 different bicycle posters. That should keep me interested in coming back to my blog once in awhile. New blog look, new cycling season around the corner. Now it's time to start planning for it all and enjoy the holiday season ahead. Things are definitely looking up. Now if I can just get my hands on some of that bailout money Washington is spreading around,...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hoegaarden at the Beergarden.

InBev may be taking over the beer world in large chunks at a time, but one good part is that we get to go down to our local beergarden and have Hoegaarden on tap. I gotta say as a guy who rides his bike every now and then, it's kinda cool having a beer from Flanders. Drink enough of them and it's almost like I'm there doing this.

As far as the Hoegaarden beer goes, let's just say I could easily drink the stuff all night and that's exactly what I did Friday at the Tavern down the street. A white beer from the Flanders region of Belgium and the town of Hoegaarden. It has a really refreshing taste with hints of citris and spice. The color is a very pale yellow, a bit cloudy even and a very bright white head. I'll have it again for sure, especially when the spring classics make their way through this region.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Choice of Roger De Vlaeminck.

It may not be easy but if you look hard enough you can find the chewing gum that powered Roger De Vlaeminck and the Brooklyn Cycling Team to victories throughout Europe in the 1970's. Keep looking as anything worth having is worth working for.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bite Me.

There are many theories and much heated debate (ok, maybe not) over the ever-present medal biting phenomenon, but some of my favorites are these.
  • The custom is a Freudian reversion to oral stimulation after the stress of competition.
  • Romantic observers believe a kiss is not enough to show affection for the medal and a love bite is better.
  • I finally won! Now I can eat whatever I want without worrying about my weight all the time.
  • This thing feels way too chintzy to be real gold.
Hmm, I'm tending to believe the Freudian theory now that I think about it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yeah I know, nobody's buying cars or motorcycles these days, yadda yadda yadda. That includes Harley, as they are having slow sales now too after a gazillion straight years of continuous record growth. Even though I'm more of a Sporty or Middlefingertotheman Barhopping Chopper guy, I had to share a pic of the new V-Rod Muscle and Marisa Miller, Harley's new models. Can't help it, I love bikes and gals in leather.

Three in a Row.

First off I wanna say Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served and those who continue to serve in uniform for this great country of ours. Thanks. Now, on to my ride today. I know November was going to be an easy month for me riding wise, but since I had the day off work and the weather is beautiful I went out again. Same route as yesterday taking me on Marriottsville Road up RT99 then RT32 to Eldersburg and back home on Liberty past the Reservoir. This is one of my favorite rides because it's relatively flat and only takes about 1.5hours to do if I don't have much time. There's one stretch on 32 that is a slight downhill for several miles and I can average well over 30mph. It almost feels like motorpacing. That makes three days in a row and over 6 hours of riding. I'll take it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clearing out the Pipes.

I got out of work a bit early today so I hopped on the bike for a quick 1.5hr/30 mile ride. I went really hard but felt pretty good out there. The best part was getting home and having a bowl of piping hot soup and a cup of tea. I have a day off work tomorrow so I just might go for another one.

Ridin with the Bro.

My brother drove down yesterday with his new Ridley Excaliber so we could go for a ride. That is one really impressively designed bike, especially in the steerer/head tube area and the rear triangle. It's got very agressive S shaped seat stays and chain stays which I am sure give the bike a nice level of vertical compliance. In fact, the rear triangle looks almost identical to those on the newest Pinarello Prince. I didn't get to ride it this time, but look for a review here soon after I get a chance to put it through the wringer in the mountains of Northeastern PA. Anyway, on to the ride.

It was a perfect autumn day here in Maryland with bright sun and wind with temps in the low 50's and after a lazy morning breakfast and of ogling bikes we finally got out of the house around 11:00am. Our plan was to go somewhere over 40 miles hitting some of my favorite riding roads including a few steep hills. My brother is always in great shape being a runner, but doesn't have many miles of riding in his legs. He's pretty tough though so I wasn't worried about him keeping up. Besides that, I have cut down a lot on my riding with November being pretty much a vacation away from the bike. Up St. Thomas and across the Hunt Valley we headed. There were a lot of other riders out there on the roads as usual. I think everyone who rides in this area knows exactly where the best roads for training are. We passed a few Kelly Benefits Strategies teammates of mine heading in the other direction at high speed. After going up over the steep, but short Piney Grove hill, both decided that at it's steepest point it's steeper than Red Hill, but quite a bit shorter. Red Hill was the hill we'd always end our rides on as a kids back home. Later we stopped in Butler at the little general store/liquor/post office for a hot coffee and coke. Some guy was posting signs for a yellow lab he found and was looking for it's rightful owner, beautiful looking dog. He had it in his jeep.

From there we headed down Falls Road, then over towards Caves, back to St. Thomas and home. I think we ended up going about 42 miles at a pretty relaxed pace. My brother's back was killing him and his legs cramped up pretty badly, but other than that was in good shape. That Ridley looks pretty laid out in a Tom Boonen way so the sore back was understandable. He took a nap on the couch after so I guess he was pretty tired from the ride. He's gonna be a really strong rider if he keeps at it since his build is perfect for it. Now he's got the bike to make sure he gives it a real chance. I'm hoping he'll even do a few races next year.

Overall, it was a great ride and I can't wait til we get a chance to do it again sometime.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So What is it Really Like?

They say your home is where your heart is. I just finished reading A Dog in a Hat, by Joe Parkin and it seems to me that Joe's heart and home belong in some nondescript town in Belgium racing a kermis in wind, rain and cold at over 50km/hr. This book is about Parkin's quest to become a professional bike racer in Europe and how he went about doing exactly that. Reading it, I could feel a sense of melancholy in his words, probably brought on by the weather. There is much happiness to be found here too and I get the feeling Joe is, and should be, very proud of what he accomplished in some amazingly difficult situations. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone by going into details, but it's a page turner.

I only have two words for riders out there looking for something to read. READ IT!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In the Voting Booth.

Something hit me like a sack of potatoes while I was standing there alone in the voting booth earlier today. When I saw all the choices there on the computer screen in front of me I thought back to all the past elections I voted in and who I voted for. My first election was in 1988 and haven't missed any since. I picked a few winners and a few losers since then with a pretty good batting average going in. In previous elections I found myself voting for the lesser of two evils in pretty much every case. This one was much different though. This time I voted for the two people I knew with absolute conviction were the best for the job. Anyway, that was something new for me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Time, Finally.

It's seems like it's been going on forever, but it's finally about time. All the promises have been made and there's only one thing left to do. Go Vote Everyone! Whoever wins, I wish Barack and John the absolute best of luck, let's hope for a nice uneventful next couple days before the next election season starts.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Ride in the Country.

Today I had an interesting observation when leaving suburbia and riding out into the countryside of Maryland. Graffiti is now thriving not just in cities, but out in the land of beautiful horse farms and perfectly manicured lawns as well. Funny thing though, it's limited to spray painting on top of John McCain posters so far. I guess we won't have to worry about that after Tuesday.

Today's Ride: 30 miles, easy. I ran into Howard out there. Hardly recognized him in his spiffy new Castelli Euroduds.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Argyle is So Last Year.

Ahhhh, what to wear? Isn't that always the question? Let me make it easier for you. Dash right over to Dashing Tweeds and get your fixie. It's what all the dashing Haberdasher/Roadies are wearing, and that's why you should too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Group Ride of the Year.

With a saddle sore and a heavy heart I did our last group ride of the year tonight. First off, I wanna say thanks to Marc, Howard, Pete, and Clark for being a big part of my return to bike racing this year and riding seriously again. Of course, they aren't the only ones I enjoy riding with over there, but they're the ones that push me week in week out with a friendly yet competitive spirit that makes the whole experience a joy. I mean that. Thanks guys.

That said, they kicked my arse out there tonight. I got dropped at the tail end of one section, and barely hung on at the end to finish with Marc and Clark. I'm not gonna complain though. Riding only once or twice a week just doesn't work for me and I could feel a real lack of fitness out there. I'm gonna take it easy like this, 2 or 3 rides a week until December, before starting over for next year. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Learning to Sew.

Nothing like a little trip over to rapha's website to get me thinking I need to learn how to sew, especially after looking at the prices they charge for the stuff. Pretty nice looking things over there though, and the way they present it is kinda cool.

Longer Rides Keep Things Honest.

Today was one of those perfect riding weather days again. Mid 60's and bright sunshine. I decided to go a bit long and sure felt it. I headed out through Hunt Valley towards Butler. I've been doing this road a lot lately since it's just perfect for riding out that way. At Butler I got on Belfast road and followed that all the way over to the other side of I-83 before turning left on Ensor Mill Road up into some hills. I then circled around towards the Loch Raven Reservoir, through Lutherville, then back up towards Falls Road, Caves Road, then home. 61 miles in total and somewhere just under 18mph average speed. I was pretty tired but felt good when I got home. My new bike kicks butt. Lovin it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Merckx: End of Another Era.

Catching the news of Eddy Merckx's retirement from the bicycle company that bears his name the other day made me think back to my first brush with the name Merckx. Besides running track and cross country, I raced a bit back in my late teens and early twenties. That was the era of LeMond and Fignon, Roche, Kelly then Indurain. Back then, as now, racing was a fairly close-knit community. Not that you knew everyone, but the same guys showed up for every race and you always knew who to look out for. I'll never forget this one guy around my age, dark tan, black wavy hair,... very Euro looking to me. He rode a Merckx. Red, World Champion stripes on the frame, Columbus SL tubing. All Campy. So Pro. I loved his bike. He and his bike beat me often, but sometimes I beat him. Of course by that time, it was something like 10 years past the Merckx era so I had no idea. I only learned of Eddy after seeing the bike and doing research on the name I found so fascinating.

I used to enjoy rolling around the parking lot before races and checking out bikes and generally just enjoying the scene. I rode past the Merckx rider and overheard him say to his buddy while looking in my direction "That's the guy to look out for today." You see, I'd come in 3rd in a very hard fought race the weekend before and he was there too. So I guess that's where he got the idea.

During the race, 50 miler, I recall being in a solo breakaway for several miles before he and a few others reeled me in. After I got caught, another guy took off and I went to the back of the group, he got mildly annoyed that I wasn't taking any turns pulling. He said something like, "Just because you did a breakaway doesn't mean you can just wheelsuck now." I ignored him for awhile to catch my breath and a few miles later he came beside me and asked if maybe we outta go for it. He had such a great riding style I thought, I said nah, no condition for another attempt and he didn't go either. Anyway, he ended up winning the race in a group sprint and I got dropped just out of the lead group with under a mile to go, coming in 9th or 10th I guess.

A few months later I was walking across campus and I ran into him again. Tony Sylvester was his name, also a student at my university. It turns out his dad was my history professor and the head of the college's racing club. He asked if I was still riding/racing and if I wanted to join the university club. I joined. It was nice getting all those free tubular tires, food allowance and gas money to race for a guy living on $10 a week.

We did a lot of training and racing together after that, including the collegiate national championships. He regularly beat me. He was a gifted rider and sprinter, and his Red Merckx was just plain beautiful.

Anyway, that was my intro to the Merckx name and his retirement reminded me of that Beautiful Red Merckx.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Helmet Lights.

Hangin out at the shop after a long group ride in the dark.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Star Trek.

In keeping with today's movie theme I'm actually looking forward to this one too. I haven't been this excited about Star Trek since The Alien Sperm Whale Calls from Space one a long time ago. I think that one was called Star Trek 17: Yep, We Need More Cash.

Gran Torino.

Since when did being an older guy become Not Cool? Here's a movie I will pay to see. Go Clint! Read about Gran Torino here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2009 Tour de France Route Revealed.

The Tour's 2009 route was revealed today in France. There are some interesting things here to note, particularly if you are wondering how it suits a possible Lance Armstrong ride. First off, it remains to be seen if Lance can regain the proper fitness to even be considered a contender. I believe he can. Also of note is the addition of a team time trial. Imagine being on a team with Levi, Alberto and Lance doing a TTT. That's gotta hurt if you are some lowly Domestique hanging on for dear life. They are gonna fly and put a chunk of time on their rivals. I'm even thinking there's a chance for an Astana 1, 2, 3 finish. That would be like Ford when they swept LeMans in 1966 and poked a giant stick in the eye of Ferrari. (Astana's stick in the eye of the one's who left them out of this year's tour)

Alright, you can say I'm getting way ahead of myself here, but I can see it happening and hear the wheels and gears spinning in Johan Bruyneel's head already. If this were to happen, Alberto could get his win, and Astana will become a legendary name in cycling's history. Lance's gracious Super Domestique third place finish will do wonders for his reputation and for his cause of fighting cancer world-wide.

Of course, there's a million reasons why this won't happen as I described above, but hey, Hollywood's made billions on lamer scripts than this. Then again, there's always;

Stages for the 2009 Tour de France

Stage 1 - July 4 - Monaco - Monaco, 15km (individual time-trial)
Stage 2 - July 5 - Monaco - Brignoles, 182km
Stage 3 - July 6 - Marseille - La Grande-Motte, 196km
Stage 4 - July 7 - Montpellier, 38km (team time-trial)
Stage 5 - July 8 - Le Cap d'Agde - Perpignan, 197km
Stage 6 - July 9 - Girona (Spain) - Barcelona (Spain), 175km
Stage 7 - July 10 - Barcelona - Andorra 224km
Stage 8 - July 11 - Andorra-la-Vieille - Saint-Girons, 176km
Stage 9 - July 12 - Saint Gaudens - Tarbes, 160km

● - July 13 - Rest day at Limoges

Stage 10 - July 14 - Limoges - Issoudun, 193km
Stage 11 - July 15 - Vatan – Saint Fargeau, 192km
Stage 12 - July 16 - Tonnerre - Vittel, 200km
Stage 13 - July 17 - Vittel - Colmar, 200km
Stage 14 - July 18 - Colmar - Besanon, 199km
Stage 15 - July 19 - Pontarlier - Verbier (Suisse), 207km

● - July 20 - Rest day at Verbier

Stage 16 - July 21 - Martigny (Switzerland) - Bourg-Saint Maurice, 160km
Stage 17 - July 22 - Bourg-Saint Maurice - Le Grand Bornand, 169km
Stage 18 - July 23 - Annecy - Annecy, 40km (individual time-trial)
Stage 19 - July 24 - Bourgoin-Jallieu - Aubenas, 195km
Stage 20 - July 25 - Montélimar - Mont Ventoux, 167km
Stage 21 - July 26 - Montereau-Fault-Yonne - Paris Champs Elysées, 160km

● 10 flat stages.
● 7 mountain stages
● 1 medium mountain stage.
● 2 individual time-trial stages.
● 1 team time-trial stage.

Distinctive aspects of the race
● 3 mountain finishes.
● 2 rest days.
● 55 kilometers of individual time-trials.
● 20 Category 1, Category 2 and hors categorie passes will be climbed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Riding In The Dark.

If there weren't any cars on the road, riding in the dark wouldn't be so bad. I kinda liked this pic of Bettini in the dark at the 6 Days of Amsterdam. I wouldn't mind one of those cool Boretti jerseys. Speaking of Boretti, I can't think of a better company to sponsor a guy with so much free time on his hands now that he's retired. Not to mention, their stuff looks VERY cool.

In other news, I saw a bunch of guys riding and practicing cyclocross over at the Oregon Ridge Park as I rode by westbound on Shawan Road. I noticed a Kelly Benefits jersey on a guy I haven't seen before at the races.

Did 30 miles tonight really easy. Just enjoying the riding out there right now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Settling in for a Long Winter.

This morning's frost was a big reminder that yeah, winter is coming. Tonight I got home late, but decided to go for a ride anyway. The temperature was in the low 60's, sunny and a bit windy. Perfect for riding. I took Sunday off to let my saddle sore heal a bit and was raring to go so I went pretty hard to very hard.  1 hour: 30 minutes: 48 seconds with over half of the ride in Zone 4 with an average speed of 20.2 mph and 30.5 miles total distance. I was talking to Marc and Pete on Thursday about next year's plans and we all pretty much decided we'll start training again in December. I'm  hoping to still get out 2 or 3 times a week from now until then, with maybe some time on the trainer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Saddle Sore? Now?

Alrighty then, I take a bunch of time off the bike this week (3 Days off), bust my butt to get out of work on time for my Thursday night group ride and what is my reward? Saddle Sore? I hopped on my bike over at the shop and almost immediately I knew it would be an uncomfortable ride. Strange since during the last week of riding I felt great. Where did that come from? Well I know where it came from. Too much sitting at work. Workmans Comp!

Tonight's Ride: 25 miles, super easy with Marc, Pete and Lea, not sure of how her name is spelled. Had a great time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quote of the Day.

"The whole doping thing blows my mind, I think that only the guys who do it, understand it. In 40 years time, when I'm long retired, I wanna look back on my career with pride." -- Steven Cozza, Team Garmin/Chipotle


Now here's a name you don't see or hear much of anymore. Gitane bikes were ridden to Tour Wins and/or World Championships by greats like Anquetil, Stablinski, Van Impe, Hinault, LeMond and Fignon. I found one (either a Grand Sport Deluxe or Tour de France model) at a flea market in Scranton, PA back as a kid and convinced my dad to buy it for $15. He rode it for quite awhile and I think it still sits somewhere back home in a shed, garage or barn. Amazing how a name like that can fall off the map into obscurity after such success. A quick run to GitaneUSA reminded me of that old bike. I guess they still exist as a company, barely.

The Bucket's Back?

Where did it go? I thought it never left. Well tonight I probably ate more than half a bucket by my fat old self. No riding, just eating for me. Damn!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cycling's Golden Age.

I know the season is barely over, but if you're looking for something to help you get through the long winter ahead I can't think of a better way than to get your grubby hands on Cycling's Golden Age by Owen Mulholland and printed by VeloPress. It's a collection of stories and images about the legends of cycling after WWII up to the late 1960's. The imagery is taken from The Horton Collection and it's a beauty. The forward is by the great Eddy Merckx. Very fitting, since the men featured in the book are his childhood heroes. I can't say enough about this book so I won't even try.

Scott CR1 SL Limited. My New Bike.

Well it's been a few weeks and around 500 miles of riding on my new bike so I figured it was time to write about it. A couple months back, sometime in the summer, I did some freelance design work that paid pretty ok. I'd been kicking around the idea of building up a new road bike and with my wife's permission, set out do build up something to race on in 2009.

Here's the breakdown of parts:
  • 2007 Scott CR1 SL Limited Frame and Fork 56cm
  • Shimano Dura-Ace 7850 SL Scandium Tubeless Clincher Wheels
  • FSA SL-K Light Hollow Carbon Crankset and Bottom Bracket
  • SRAM 2009 Rival Double-Tap Shifters/Brake Levers, Fr/Rr Derailleurs
  • SRAM Red Cassette
  • SRAM PC-1090R Chain
  • Selle Italia Thoork Saddle
  • 3T Doric Team Seatpost
  • 3T ARX Team Stem
  • FSA Energy T Bar
  • Speedplay Zero Pedals
  • Campagnolo Record Skeleton Brakes
  • Ritchey WCS Carbon Drop-In Headset
  • Hutchinson Fusion 2 Tubeless Tires
  • Forte Carbon Waterbottle Cages
  • Fizik Bar Tape
  • Polar CS200 Computer
  • SRAM brake and derailleur cables

Let's see, the good things about it? It is light and all-day comfortable to ride. It climbs and descends well and the handling is fast yet predictible. The wheels are the nicest feeling wheels I've ridden since my old tubular days. The brakes are great and the derailleurs were easy to set up and the rear shifts really well. I think SRAM Double-Tap shifing is great. I like the looks of the bike and it's a bit understated compared to the newest stuff out there. That's a plus for me as I wanted something that doesn't look faster than I can ride or like some Fannie Mae CEO's golden parachute gift.

Bad things? The front derailleur shifting is very precise but clunky sounding and the chain is a little more noisy than Shimano stuff no matter how much I lube it so far. I may switch lubes to something else to see if that helps.

Future Plans? I'd like to invest in a set of aero carbon fiber tubular race wheels for crits and time-trialing. I don't know if I'll get those though. We'll see.

Overall: A huge step up from my Jamis in every way and I'm looking forward to many miles of good riding and racing. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Retirement, Where Do They Go?

Today was Erik Zabel's last race, unless he pulls a Lance, as a professional at the 2008 Paris-Tours. The old guy came in 7th in a sprint finish. I think he won maybe one race this year after a career total of around 200 wins. Way to go Erik! I often wonder where all those retired pros go after a long career. I imagine some retirement home for bike racers at the base of Mont Ventoux or something.

Today's Ride: 30 miles in the country under deep blue skies.