Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Tour - One more look

For look back at the 2009 TdF check out the Devil and 39 other photos on the Boston Globe site

Jens Voigt - Alive and Well

As you know Jens Voigt took a terrible spill in the Tour - he is alive and well - recovering and has posted this Jens video message (warning - he IS pretty banged up)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Phil, No Paul - Tour de France Withdrawals

Sleep-in 'till 6, listen to NPR Morning Edition, return emails, just reconnect with the world, but no --- instead I wake at 5 AM and lay there, my brain says rise, stagger to the remote and say good morning to Phil (Liggett) and Paul (Sherwin). As they get settled, telling me what I have heard a dozen times, but somehow I feel hooked like a cycloaddict needing to hear it said one more time, maybe somewhere inside I know I have limited time for a fix, I fill the water pot to boil and get my cuppa Earl Grey tea started. But it's Day 24 of the Tour's 23. It's the morning after. It's the coming down, going cold turkey, slamming on the breaks. It's like dropping a chain a 15% climb, all forward progress ceases, your brain sends a warning - "clip out NOW!" It's Tour de France withdrawals.

Sadly, this has been going on for years, you think I would learn, I would adapt, for God's-sake species go extinct for less flexibility. Has 4 million years of cranial evolution not prepared me for this one Monday morning each late July?

I think what makes it harder is the general death valley of cycling that August is, or historically has been. In the past the Tour of Germany gave me brief reprieve with the mono-a-mono hilly battles between Levi
Leipheimer and effervescent road warrior Jens Voigt. Perhaps this year will be different, I hope, I pray, but staring into my cuppa EG I'm doubtful. I'm not alone. On the Tour's final Sunday I heard Phil say, lamentingly, resolutely, "tomorrow I have no job", and while the pro race calender has a couple of things for Phil (and Paul) to do - a reborn Tour of Ireland, Vuelta Espana, World Championships, and the most poetic, graceful finish of the season in any sport, "the Race of the Falling Leaves" - Giro di Lombardia.

The cuppa EG stares back...

It's like an annual death in the family - and the family is already squabbling; Maillot jaune victor Contidor is dissing Lance, "My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero,"
(careful skinny-legged little boy, don't pull the tiger's tail); LA shrugs when asked about Conti, too busy forming a new team - USPS v4.0; Sastre still complains of no respect and trying to figure out why his Tour went "all pair-shaped" (Conti please take another note: TdF requires a team, yours is upgrading without you to LAv4.0), Cadel sits in the corner pouting; Menchov is still trying to reverse the Invisible-man Giro potion he swallowed in May; but these brats are my family of wheeled wonders and I love them one-n-all. The thought of waiting another year for this family reunion is killing me.

The final obit is written later in the morning when I return the box to Comcast - still set on Versus where it began 23 days earlier when the tech guy installed; I only awaken the tv-beast for the three weeks of the Tour, otherwise it's my December through January DVD training partner. The Comcast clerk doesn't even ask why it's coming back, there must be a note on my file, "don't ask".

Phil, good luck on the resume, despite getting older, with your experience there will be openings, otherwise swing by for a cuppa.

Monday, July 27, 2009

DNF - the morning after

Yang came looking for me the next morning (see previous CCC post). Yang wears very similiar outfits to the grim reaper I found out. Stage 4 - DNF

What started in Saturday afternoon's crit continued to chase me down like a junkyard dog on holiday. This chase was in my head; just never could wrap my coconut around the CCC. Still trying to sort out why not. Eventually it was one of those "neutral feed zones" that took it's toll. The chaos caused me to unclip, the boys up front hit the gas as if their water bottles were needed at a 5-alarm blaze, and boom I was off the front group. A 2K chase in TT position ensued, but I had done that the morning before, and now the legs said no way, not into a head wind.

Before that I was actually talking myself through it - forced myself to get up front, helped chase a couple short lived attacks, sat on race leader Dave Zimbelman's wheel, for much of the next lap, then we climbed to the feed zone, and there, a really aggressive race twittered my brain with a whole lot of questions about fighting this much and then it was "lights out in the 'mental' engine room". Unfortunately Mr. Liggett, there was not going to be any digging into suitcases,... or bags, or knapsacks, or any other carrier, for courage. Not since my second marathon many moons ago had I "hit the wall". In this case the legs still worked, the head was banging and the wall wasn't giving in.

This was by far the most aggressive and talented field (115 strong) I raced in all year. The USA Nationals this coming week in Bend brought a number of Elite Masters in - and they filled the CCC field and definitely amped up the level of racing - looking back Elkhorn seems rather pleasant.

My goal this year was to come to every race with a lesson to learn. And in each I can say that has happened - I've definitely improved. Perhaps CCC had no clear enough goal, maybe blame the heat, or the cracked frame the night before leaving through me off, in the end this was in my head. And I guess the learnt lesson is bike racing is really a head game. As much as we like to think it's about pedalling a bike, it's really about pedalling upstairs, clearing your focus, and determining your success.

My consolation? After hitting the wall in that second marathon I went on to run my faster ever 26 miles in my third. My goal this season was to learn, so I could be competitive in 2010. Maybe 2010 is my new third.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Getting older brings some realities - one of them is you have days of yin & yang. Saturday was mine. I got shelled in the afternoon crit. Pulled from the course after losing contact. Why is it the yang ends the day?

The Yin: I was really focused on the morning's TT. I know its my Achilles heel. To hold on to my 16th from stage 1 it was critical not to lose to much - maybe miracle-of-miracles gap the guy behind in the GC 30secs more. The 14 miles were good for me - lumpy and the longer than anything I had done before. I now know that hilliness hurts others and this old motor does better as the distance stretches.

I got this one nearly right - my Yin had taken over my attitude. I warmed up for nearly an hour, riding over 5 miles to the start and heaps of laps on local streets similar to the course (lumpy rolling stuff) for another half hour. The pump was primed. Hell, I timed this so perfectly I literally rolled to the start line, never unclipped as they held me and started the 30 sec countdown (a bit too close for OBRA officials - sorry guys).

The Yang: Riding over to the start the legs complained, the spark that hints of speed was not there, but for me crits are all about surviving - just sit on the back and stay alive. I planned to find Dave Zimbleman's wheel and stay there. Dave is the GC leader but doesn't get mixed up in front these speed fests if his lead (he's leading the Masters 45+ GC) isn't at risk. They, OBRA officials, neutralized scoring today because of complete mess up in stage 1 recordings - they're trying to sort out overnight. Its becoming crystal clear I and the a populous of the peloton have a distinctly different interpretation of the commonly used term "neutral". My good friends over at Merriam's online have this take on the word:
Function: noun
Date: 15th century
1 : one that is neutral 2 : a neutral color 3 : a position of disengagement (as of gears)

Now of course I, being a Masters and all, which means I have been on the planet for a few years, at least long enough to learn the language, would assume any word that has had 5 centuries of use should be fairly commonly accepted and understood. I guess that's one of those realities getting older still hasn't taught me, because I don't call taking off at over 31 miles per hour for the first sever laps neutral! No one that night except for the Pros went that fast - and even they were shelling each other at that speed!

Getting back to Merriam's, I especially like definition #3 "disengagement (as of gears). Could I just add - wheels, frame, derailleur, handle bars, saddle, pedals, etc. Ya I'm frustrated. If I decide to drop that's one thing, but working my arse off and getting pulled totally pisses me off. Yang is crappy, and not the way to end a day. We're back on the open roads in the morning - thank goodness... btw, did I mention I hated crits before and now even more!

Yang was tough on everyone. The above photo is of my friend and Lip Smacker pro Hilary Billington, she did a great job "hanging on" in the women's pro crit - they ripped it up in the high 20 mph range. Afterwords she looked beat, but no whistle, nice job Hil!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A day for 'Old Farts'

So said Andrew Hood on Velonews, "Armstrong settled into third place at 5:24 back, a remarkable achievement following his three-year retirement."

Remarkable, c'mon Andrew, give the man his due! I just finished a second stage 14 mile TT surrounded by a lot of other 'old farts' - older doesn't mean dead, in fact I would say mental toughness builds and experience and stamina kick in. We need more 'old farts' out here!

Andrew went on to say, "At 37, Armstrong is one of the oldest podium finishers ever. His experience and race savvy proved decisive throughout the race, most evident in key moments when he snuck into the front group when the pack split in stage 3 to Le Grande Motte" And maybe this is one of the most overlooked qualities of LA and age, we get smarter. I firmly believe LA is THE smartest cyclist ever to compete in the Tour. One only has to replay a handful of DVDs to get the message loud in clear. It started in 1999 on the Passage du Goisand has continued on in every Tour since. My personal favorite was a sprint up the right side out of the peloton to cross badly angled railroad track in a week one stage in 2004 (I think). With space LA took them at his own angle - their was a small crash in the peloton - insignificant?

"With new sponsor RadioShack, Armstrong promises to be back next year even stronger." says Hood. Hell, he'll be older, and 'older fart' so why not, more stamina, experience and toughness.

“I will race next year with my team and I think I will be even stronger,” Armstrong said. “We will have a strong team. I am already looking forward to next year.”

Wer'e still waiting for morning TT times and results, but regardless I'm really happy the way a bunch of old rafts have ridden the roads of Bend the past two days. Not all of America has 'round things out' into a state of obesity. "At 37, Armstrong is one of the oldest podium finishers ever." Bring on the crit this afternoon - the old farts are clip'n in and ready :"))

Friday, July 24, 2009

WATER! - Battle in the Neutral Zone

Sitting here having a beer, in the shade, in downtown Bend, it seems further away than the 40 miles and a few hours it is/was, but today's stage 1 was as much about water as the final climb to Mt. Bachelor. It was water chaos in the two "neutral" zones as dehydration was dragging riders of the back of the main group one by one - where they were cast off to I haven't a clue - tonight's results will tell.

Maybe it was the combination of altitude (we started at 3,800 feet) or the temp climb higher than forecast, but more than one fellow rider, unprovoked, turned to me or murmured randomly to the peloton - 'why am I so thirsty?'

The frustrating thing was the surge in the zone - "what the hell were they doing up front?" It's a N-E-U-T-R-A-L zone... get it?? There was panic in the zone, you could see it if rider's actions - what if I don't get water???? Where was Wolf Blitzer? THIS was a REAL Situation Room. It was especially frustrating at the second zone, screeching cork on carbon, followed by the smell that ensues, swerving bikes, desperately lunging hands trying to grab a bottle, and then a K up the road everyone sat up and drank... what the hell? I wonder about the volunteers passing out those bottles, they must have felt like U.N .workers at the last well in the Sudan.

How to measure the toll? Maybe in the fact that the peloton stayed together because no one wanted to attack, or maybe the teams up front just shut it all down until the end? From my vantage (a wee bit back) it was hard to say.

In the end I (think) finished just off the back of the second group on the climb up Cascades Lake Road. A silly first-year mistake and not knowing the climb well enough. I should have buried myself to get over the hump with them and finished together. I had to TT across the false flat the last 2Ks to get in as close as I did. The climb's gradient also did enough folks in to help me, but it just wasn't long enough - this old motor need steepness and distance to ramp up to full speed and start making real inroads.

Today was another learning lesson I was hoping the year would provide. The beauty of being a rookie - so many lessons! My head was never in today's stage - my body was good, almost great, it had to be to get me past my head! The new bike and light Cirra wheels Mark loaned me did their duty as well.

In the end - 16th on GC for the Masters 45+, about 3 mins back - not as bad as I thought. Covered the 72 miles in 2:59

Thanks for everyone's support - emails and calls.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snap...Crackle....Pop... YIKES!!

It's date night, with Jenn, she looks awesome, and night before I leave for Cascade Cycling Classic stage race. Grabbing an beer at friend Yeta's Hop & Vine and trying to relax. The phone rings and it's Mark, Mark Ontiveros, co-owner of River City Bikes. "Ya, Mark"...

"Ger, we have a problem with the Cannondale" (my Super Six is in for a bottom bracket check)


"There's a crack, a crack in the joint at the head tube"

"What???" (Jenn is sitting opposite me and mimes 'what?')

"The guys found a crack", my heart sank and a quiver ran through my legs.

Like all things in life there's and upside and downside. Finding a crack, or possible crack, in your frame is never good news, but to find it right before leaving to race on that frame is excellent news. The news definitely sent a chill through my spine - especially after posting the Jens crash blog just hours before; my brain replayed Jens sliding down the road in a loop for the next couple minutes.

Other good news is they, River City Bicycles, had one frame my size, so Jeb, who found the possible crack (we still don't know if it is a crack in frame or finish, but not worth a risk), is hard at work (above photo) building up a new bike so I can bolt for Bend and race.

I can't thank Jeb, Mark and everyone at River City enough, who did their jobs incredibly well, and for Mark not even hesitating at replacing the bike and getting me ready for Cascade Classic in time.

"Vroom, vroom, vroom" - Get Well Jens

"Vroom, vroom, vroom" he said, as he threw a leg over the top tube and pedaled off to the start line of the Tour of California's Stage 1 in Sausalito. Jens Voigt had just finished off a energy bar, sitting lazily in a folding beach chair, as if that's where he was staying for the rest of the day, at the back of the CSC (now Saxo Bank) team motor home. When Jenn and I walked up minutes earlier to say hello the action was all over at the Discovery Team bus and what few fans had trickled across the parking lot to CSC were focused on American riders Bobby Julich and Dave Zabriski. Still it was Jens that we were delighted to see. Jens is our cycling hero of endless breakaway attempt, failed and triumphant. This "animator" of the peloton is the rider I have channeled on endless rides and races. He is part old school and new.

At this year's Tour of California, while other high profiled riders were focused and disconnected from the eager American tifosi, Jens was on the trainer before the Prologue surrounded this time by a large crowd and someone shouted, "No more mister nice guy Jens", in reference to a Jens quote from years prior. Everyone laughed and Jens smiled and said, "Nooo, this year there are too many assholes, it's time for someone to be a nice guy." The laughter grew louder. Minutes later he shot through the finish just 15 seconds back of teammate Cancellara in the Prologue.

After that vroom, vroom, vroom moment in 2006 I realized more than ever what this magical thing called riding the bike is all about. Jens thank you for that precious, insightful, life-changing moment. I ride my bike with greater joy and childhood excitement because of that Jens-ism.

Every time I come to the start line in a race I say to myself - "Vroom, vroom, vroom". Every time Jenn and I jump on the tandem we smile and whisper "Vroom, vroom, vroom" to one another. It's become our Jens mantra. Our Madonna di Ghisallo blessing.

Yesterday in Stage 16 from
Martigny—Bourg-Saint-Maurice Jens went down, violently, viciously, the kinda crash that hurts to watch even more if you have ridden and seen your front wheel flip and disappear before you like the rabbit in some strange magic act - How did it happen? Where did it go? Why me? Why now? you have no time to get answers to anything. You're down and sliding and maybe unconsciously praying. Jens remained unconscious and for a collective frozen moment all of us that love this German rider so much, who believe he IS the best pro cycling can be, we were shocked into tears of disbelief.

Jens is recovering in a Grenoble hospital. Today they said he was sitting up watching the Schleck brothers launch their attacks on the Romme and Colombiere. Said Andy "We heard great news this morning that Jens (Voigt) was going to be OK, so we wanted to attack in his honor.
" Paying 'their honor' jumped them up the GC into 2nd and 3rd overall and I'm certain Jens was smiling through that broken cheek and litinany of lacerations, smiling at the pain they were dishing out - the way he loves to ride. Jens is going to be okay - but some surgery and recovering will come before the next pedal turn - although I can see them wheeling him into surgery and the nurse saying, "what was that?" It was Jens mumbling "Vroom, vroom, vroom"

Get well Jens - we miss you - and can't imagine Paris or any other finish line without you.

"Vroom, vroom, vroom" I'll think of you through every pedal stroke this weekend.

(Note: For those of you who might not know Jens Voigt — he is arguably the toughest of strongmen of the pro peloton, known for his long, often successful solo breakaways, yet another of which, at age 36, attacking with 36 km to go, he pulled off to win a stage in this year's Giro, dropping the likes of world champ Paolo Bettini and Italian superstar Daniele Bennati. He’s also unfailingly cheerful and friendly off the bike, perhaps the most well-liked member of the peloton. For more about Jens read Bonnie D. Ford's wonderful article on
Jens Voigt is the conscience of cycling )

Cascade Cycling Classic - It's Hot!

My daily rides are tapering as I get ready to head over the mountains for this weekend's Cascade Cycling Classic stage race. The OBRA version of the race starts Friday with a 71 miles point-to-point up to Mt Bachelor. The big guns have already hit the roads and battling it out in the this the 30th anniversary edition

The line up in the Pro men's and women's field is impressive with the likes of Chris Baldwin and Rory Sutherland (OUCH-Maxxis), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), former Europros Victor Hugo Pena, Oscar Seville and Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) and over on the women's side Alison Powers (Team Type 1). If you are in Bend over on Saturday check out the crit downtown later that afternoon - should be plenty crazy with such huge fields.

Follow the CCC via
Oregon Cycling Action and Velonews

If I'm alive to comment I'll be posting my thoughts (and maybe a photo or two) here each night.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A weekend of whining about Hincapie

Okay, the guy is a really nice guy - we get it.

Okay, he help Lance win seven Tours de France - we get it.

Okay, he's the old beloved vet of the Pro peloton - we get it.

Okay, he busts his butt every flattish stage to get Cav into the right lead-out, it's his job, we get it.

Okay, we really want him to succeed because he is the good American guy and he has never won his beloved Hell of the North, Paris Roubaix, we get it.

But let's face it - George is not the brightest penny in the bag!!

For years now I have shouted and screamed at the TV screen during a spring classic for George to go, just go GOOOOO!!! It rips my heart out every frigg'n time I watch the 2001 Queen of the Classics and see those three Domo/Farm Frites riders work poor George over to take all three podium spots and leave him head-hung, mud-covered, rolling in fourth. That's when we all climbed up on the Hincapie caravan and began our collective 'Will-George-To-Win Campaign'.

Then shit-luck struck again in 2005 - in the break, strong teammates around, and the handlebars, of all things crack off (Trek - we really have never heard the explanation on that one?) - Oh man we shout, can our Big George buy a break!!??

But ya know something? For every damn time he has won something there have been three times I have screamed GO! And he doesn't. After 16 years of being a Pro you'd think he'd get it, we get it!

George, if you can pull Cav like a possessed demon that last K, if you can consistently TT with the best, then why didn't you go get the yellow jersey yourself, TT your arse off that last few K, and screw Garmin, and Astana, and your own sprinting teammates, and everyone else. As your own brash young Manx-missile teammate said, if you want to race like a junior, then race with juniors.

George, did your see that red, white and blue jersey bolt from the break group and leave everyone (including you) for dead and "Go" - review the video and you'll see he never looked back... do you get it??

Big George and the and the cover-every-angle-cycl0media never mention that when he won the "Queen Stage" of the TdF in 2005 that he sat in the ticket collector's position all day and then blew past Oscar Pereiro's wheel in the last K to take the victory. I didn't hear Hincapie or others claim foul that day... why not? Fortunately Pereiro got his stage a couple days later, because he again went for it - George please take note.

So George
(and whining George Fan Club Members) - get out your DVD player, pull up the 2005 Fleche Wallonne, and watch Jens Voigt bury himself for the better part of 50 frigg'n kilometers!! holding the peleton at bay for nearly an hour as they chased like froth-mouthed mad dogs - THAT is how you win a race or die trying. What the hell were you doing that last 10K?? You weren't going to outsprint anyone and your guys in the car obviously were spoon feeding you every last second of info into your earpiece. So, who the hell cares who was sitting on your wheel, quit looking around and... GO!

So all you Hincapie whiners - if you want a real American cycling hero - let's start a campaign to adopt Jens Voigt.

Oh well, as my friend Heidi Swift wrote in her blog, it's been a great soap opera so far. And that's the best part.

PSSSST George (and whining George Fan Club Members) - Did you happen to notice Katusha's Sergei Ivanov
after the stage, looking nearly dead, hunched over on the curb, bike carcass-like lying next to him looking equally exhausted (one of THE great Tour photos btw), head drooped between his legs, and chest heaving through his gaping jersey? As someone said, "That’s how a break-away stage winner should look."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Do we get to do this again tomorrow?"

Why not? When you are five years old your bike is your freedom. It's the coolest thing ever. And since you have absolutely no clue about driving a car, that's not even an option. So why wouldn't they just close the streets like this every day and let me and everyone around me (a lot of adults) ride our bike with these wonderful happy smiles bursting the seams of their faces.

This past Sunday was the second chapter this summer in Portland's bikeaholic novel "Taking Back the Streets" - or subtitled: How to frustrate neighborhood traffic and make them end up enjoying it.

Actually it the expansion of a brilliant experiment from last summer called Sunday Parkways. Summer 2009 it expanded to 7+ mile ciruits in the NE ansd North Portland neighborhoods and will cap it off next month on August 16th with a 9 miles weave through the
Laurelhurst, Sunnyside, Col. Summers, and Mt Tabor Parks streets.

I love the bike - all shapes and sizes. Sunday Parkways is why there is a Tour de France, a Paris Roubaix and a Giro, because people in Europe grow up with the beauty and passion of riding a bike in their communities. Last Sunday our streets were filled with people celebrating not just bikes but being in a community that cherishes civility, connectedness and sharing of a passion for this marvelous place we call home. The bicycle is one of the most delightful and personal ways to do that.

One of the added bonuses of the Sunday Parkway project overlooked is the incredible Portland Police positive PR this little street shutdown creates. I'm completely certain that many if not all of these officers have never been thanked that much in their entire careers, much less on a single day. I truly hope they appreciate all the genuine thanks these bi-pedalers cast their way. Especially the littlest cyclists - many launching their thanks from the tag-alongs and tandems while their parents negotiate the two-wheeled parade. Public policing, how cool is that. And hats of to the officers who removed their sunglasses when the opportunity was there. Again, kids saw faces, you were real, not just the voice and the badge making minivan mommy mad with a ticket.

"again tomorrow?", I wish! But there is one more chance, August 16th in South East, so get out the bike, take a deep breath and enjoy a "toodle" through your neighborhood remenescent of 1880's when the "saftey bike" was born.

(PS- one small rant - roadies, of all ages, leave your "kits" at home, along with your "need for speed" or take it somewhere else - like one of the Daily Rides I mention every week on this blog - you're a PAIN IN THE ARSE out there, and no one, especially the five year olds you whip in and around, are impressed.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

STP Day 2, and the rain begins....

You're closing in on 200 miles of sitting on a 9 by 4 by inch-ish saddle, two days worth, the finish line is just there in town, then across the Willamette River, and you're there... and then... it starts with a whimper, turns to a drizzle, starts a soaker, relinquishes to rain. Around you the faces bear smiles and glasses are spot with drops.

I have never ridden Seattle-to-Portland: after two sign-ups, two crashes one each year the week before the ride, finally I determined my STP was cursed, and the Kids had me riding 100+ mile rides on such a regular basis the challenge of STP drifted.

On Sunday afternoon I stood under the umbrella of a broad leaf tree at the east end of Portland's Broadway bridge, camera in hand and photographed cyclist after cyclist, all manner of bike, all manner of rider, each and every one sporting a wet, road-grimed smile - smiles that even make me smile as I write this a few days later. These are smiles that explain everything about why we ride a bike - joy!

On Saturday I did 118 miles and about 12,000 feet of climbing in a training ride - prepping for Cascade Cycling Classic stage race next week - more than many could accomplish, but it seemed far less than what these everyday cyclists were just accomplishing. I'm in awe of so many of them - including Paul Casey my first-timer friend, and Skye and his son (on tandem).

I love riding my bike(s) - as one little girl said last year while being given a helmet and first bike, "this is my freedom". Next year I will likely be signing up to try STP for the first time, with my girlfriend Jenn, on our tandem. I'll be doing it for the joy of it, to share with all these first-timers the joy of it, its my freedom.

Congatulations every one and all who shared in this year's Seattle-to-Portland joy - you were awesome!

Friday, July 10, 2009

How far is too far?

For my butt, it's about 150 miles or 250km max. That's when the fun of riding typically wanes and I get distracted by things like... oh, food, real food, a shower, clean clothes, and something to sit on other than a 1.5 inch wide piece of carbon fibre, titanium and wannabe leather. But for those who wander farther and further its called 'Rondonneuring' and officially its riding a bike over an organized long distance - unofficially it means "too stupid to stop".

I was first introduced to rondonneuring by my good friend Todd (photo). When we first met on a Thursday Lawyers Ride I had no idea where this long distance road led. Within weeks it seemed he had coaxed me out for my first hundred, the former Spring Century hosted by the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club. (Now renamed the Pioneer Century it is an excellent rather flattish hundred miles perfect for anyones first shot at teaching your bum how to sit in a saddle for 5, 6, 7, plus hours.)

Like everyone else, Rondonneurs have their own club - Rondonneurs USA will get you started. And they lay claim to one of the oldest ride/races on two wheels (yes, eclipsing the ol'great yellow father - the Tour)
Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), first run in 1891 - over a decade earlier that the Tour in 1903.

Returning to that unofficial definition about being too stupid to stop, Todd then went on to complete the remarkable Randonneur 5000 - the full series of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000 km brevets (one-day events), the Paris-Brest-Paris and a Flèche Vélocio (in which at least three riders must start, and at least three must finish). And the best part - Randonneuring is not a competitive sport. It is a test of endurance. All riders who complete the task are congratulated, and no prizes are given to those with the fastest times.

I and the "Kids" helped where we could, riding the 200 and 300 versions - riding out to meet him on the others for support, throwing the bon voyage party as he left for Paris, and finally teaming up to
Flèche out the Vélocio (on one of the most perfect one-day rides of my life, even if it was over 150 miles!). And while over these past few years my imagination has flirted with the whole idea, like Alice trying to decide on blue or red, I still stand in awe and bewilderment at Todd's accomplishment.

Recently I met Portlander Heidi Swift, photographer-writer-cyclist-bloggist. Heidi is continually pushing her cycling boundaries and has recently fallen for the allure of the shiny object dangling hundreds of kilometers away on a distant shore - PBP. As the chronicler she is, she is sharing that journey on her blog through entries and interviews and its worth riding along - here's a excerpt:

"This year, I’m after a bigger fish. A 300k, a 400k and, if I play my cards right, a 600k. All this in the name of possibly riding in the biggest Rando show of all time - the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris.

Can I really do it? Is it really possible? Can I really ride 1200 kilometers in less than 90 hours? (For anyone slow with the metric conversion math that’s about 745 miles in a little under 4 days).

I’m going to be honest with you. I have no idea.

"In fact, as of about two weeks ago, I had no idea how I would even attempt such a feat. And then along comes “The Ride of Your Life“, an eBook written by long-distance specialist David Rowe.

I’ll be honest with you (again). eBooks aren’t my thing. I like to hold a book. To damage it, dog-ear it, and spill wine on it. I like the physicality of books, the texture against my thumbs, the precise stacking of pages, one against another.

But Rowe’s electronic tour de force is something different altogether. It’s more than a book. It’s a tool. And therein lies its beauty.

The book is actually useful. In addition to being inspiring, motivational, informative and well-written, it’s applicable and practical"

Read the rest at

The “Ride of Your Life” Book Tour: An Interview with David Rowe

If this long distance moment of insanity should ever strike you and imprison your cycling imagination - then this series of web articles by Heidi are worth a read. Check her other entries beginning with Ready to Ride?

As for me?? Still can't decide if it's Blue or Red??

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Breaking News - AAA ponies up roadside support for roadies!

FINALLY we two-wheelers get the same roadside support the big beasts get! Thanks AAA for stepping up to the plate! Check out the good news.

Sanity returned to Thursday's Lawyer Ride

I changed up my Thursday training ride to sandwich the lunch Lawyer Ride like cream filling between two harder cookies - an hour of tempo climbing, the ride, and a finishing hour like the first - it was a great way to break things up and keep the workout interesting. Other than virtually everyone whimping out on the turn up NW53rd (Mark???) it was great fun and reminded me why its worth switching up Thursday training just to get out with a great group. Really, if you live in Portland, have the lunch open, or are visiting with your bike - get out there, its great fun!

If you are interested in the lunch ride search for the Thursday label for more details on this ride, a map and other links.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's in my pocket?

Some of you sharing various rides have been emailing me about the camera I'm carrying to grab all these shots when we are flying along - the tiniest one is a Panasonic Lumix - the main one is a bit bigger, its the Canon G10, but it has great control and flexibility as well as great video. I just posted a bit on it over on my photo blog -

Plenty of speed and one speed-bump

After a 'toodling' weekend away on the tandem it was time to get back to Tuesday Night rides (...races) and getting the legs ready for the upcoming Cascade Classic Stage Race out of Bend, Or. Last night was flat and fast to base of Iowa Hill, with its short, but biting 16-18% pitch, and then flat and fast back to the Tualatin Park - thanks Richard for taking care of the peleton while Del was killing himself for a 1200km (still seems insane to me!). Enjoy the photos everyone :")

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A weekend – of bicycles built for two... or three... or four!

This past weekend we, my stoker Jenn and I, packed up the ‘stealth’, alias the Calfee Tetra and headed north 200 miles to Victoria BC for the 2009 edition of the annual NorthWest Tandem Rally. About all we knew was the weather looked great and we were going to be sharing the experience with a couple hundred couples in matching jerseys – as Jenn said, “it’s better than name tags” (we did end up with bike name tags).

For me a tandem rally was the other side of the cycling planet from the past couple weeks of racing; the average age doubled, the average speed was halved, but other things were pure bike you can’t change - the pastry and beer calorie count, billboard-like jerseys, and the predictable journeys into bike-component-geekiness was easy to find (with or without beer). In the end “Rally” means social.

The NWTR moves about the Northwest each year (NWTR2010 in Medford, Oregon) and while we haven’t rallied before it’s hard to imagine the hills, beaches and roads of southern Vancouver Island being topped. Look for ride routes and maps in July’s Ride of the Month as well as other links to future tandem happenings over on my website

Now, for the really important details: Beer & Eats. Acouple microbrews worth noting: Swans on the corner opposite the Johnson St (blue) bridge has a couple of award-winners, the IPA and ESB were quite nice. Their endamame beans are great – lots of salt – halibut & chips are also a nice score. Avoid the nachos – how can you blow something so simple – for those cross the street for the Mexican place. Across the blue bridge and a left on Catherine Street (half mile) is the Spinnakers. Beers didn’t match up to their food, but the small deck is a great places to relax after a ride and view the harbor.

For all the new friends we met these past few days enjoy the slide show and Gallery of our weekend. Special thanks to the guys at Rider's Cycles for volunteering to sag the rally and fix our broken front spoke!