Friday, March 11, 2011

A Whole Other Kinda Bike Riding

I ride a variety of bikes - all road for the most part - but what people do on "bikes" is frigg'n amazing - this is just plain scary in my book. I cringed a half dozen times while watching it. Perhaps the only thing scarier than this ride would be the ER in this third world country you get taken to if you crash. Enjoy at your own risk -

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One for the old guys

Today's finish in Paris-Nice was for the old dogs, the grunters, the weekend warriors who dream of hitting a finish line first.

It started a couple K from the final summit when a octet of known names hit the gas for the final time and summited the Cat 1 Col de la Mûre; a nasty little gift, with pitches of 12%, the organizers threw in a dozen kilometers from the finish after six previous categorized climbs. Ripping down a wickedly fast descent the group opened an 18 second gap and all looked set for Olympic champion Sammy Sanchez to take the stage. Radioshack had the young legs of Janez Brajkovic and the wisdom of old guy Andreas Kloden.

Then a beautiful thing happened. Brajkovic launched with Kloden on his wheel. Watching Kloden gritting and wincing the final few meters was like watch a sprint in slow motion. With a lunge his front wheel clipped the line a spokes turn ahead of equally suffering Sanchez.

For those of you who have never or only passingly noticed this race for the sun forget any idea that this is just a bridesmaid event until the Giro and Tour come around. One look at today's Paris-Nice stage profile and anyone who has donned a pair of Sidis can feel the pain.

As for Andreas, chances are today was like watching a rare sunset, you savor the moment, burn it into your memory, and cherish into the future - after 13 years in the Pros you know how to savor, you know what it's worth. Congrats Kloden, you richly deserve it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How one New York bike lane could affect the future of cycling worldwide

A much more significant story than the future of one bike lane in Brooklyn [NY], a great deal hangs on the lawsuit filed against the city. Interesting in light of recent events in America's other mega-metropolis, Los Angeles embracing a full blown bike plan.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Paris-Nice: Day 2 - Stage 3

The pros really can inspire. Ya know as a little kid, like many little kids, I use to watch my favorite team and if the sporting gods were kind my team would make a miracle comeback and seal victory for me. After the game I would head to the nearest court or field and celebrate with friends an exuberant re-enactment would follow. I know darn well we played harder in those adrenaline spiked moments than normal. It was hallucinations of pro stardom that did it.

Growing up in the Seattle area it was the Seattle Super Sonics (until the Larry Stern highjacked the franchise for one of his crony friends and moved it to Oklahoma) and the Green Bay Packers (at least some teams pay homage to decades of childhood memories.) Today lads in lycra on machines of carbon fibre inspire my workouts (read exuberant re-enactments) to a heart rate beyond good sense.

So today was my Day 2 of getting into race shape and Stage 3 of Paris-Nice. Every year I get more enthusiastic about this race. If you have never taken the time, waiting until the "big show" in July, you are missing much more than a pre-season warmup event. Paris-Nice is much more than a week sliced out of the Tour. The race has a long, rich and colorful history peppered with all of the great names traditionally associated with the Grand Boucle - Poulidor, Merckx, Anquetil, Kelly, Jalabert. Watch it! (yes, live on Eurosport each morning)
Albert Lejune, owner of two newspapers Le Petit Journal based in Paris, and Le Petit Niçois based in Nice, created Les Six Jours de la Route in 1933 to establish a link between the two newspapers. For him it was about showing the charm of La Cote d’Azur to his readers with the help of a cycling race on an innovative route. For six days at the end of the winter season, the event went through the Valley of the Rhone; avoiding carefully the Alps and its difficulties, sparingly using the hilly hinterland of Nice, to be finally used as a favourable training ground for the spring Classics. The jersey of the leader was azure and gold in colour, evoking the blue of the Mediterranee and the golden sun in Nice. - from the ASO website.
And as a workout motivator there is something sufferingly real about it. Everyday you see big names, the boys of July, suffering to find there race shape - like I feel slogging up and down Portland's west hills. It's consolation when you finish that 50 miles training ride that across the 'pond' the likes of Jens Voigt, Frank Schleck, Sammy Sanchez, Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin, and others are also hurting.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pedaling Cubes

When things go south they call it pedaling squares; today things went further south, Antarctic south, I was pedaling cubes - Rubics Cubes.

Multiple media types, cycling broadcaster and others have picked up on the pedaling squares phrase, but I think it was from Paul Sherwin on a particularly vertical stretch of the Pyrenees in the Tour de France when the the utterance came tripping off his tongue and was the death sentence to the poor lad to which he was referring.

Since then we have joked loosely with the phrase on club rides and weekend mountainous adventures - ah, careful what we mock, it might be moi.

Today I was out trying desperately to get back in some shape resembling race ready. I have no illusion about what race ready shape feels like - especially when you 'pop' off the back in a race. Today I watched stage 2 of Paris-Nice and rolled off the porch with an illusion of getting into shape. This has been a pathetic winter for building base. More time in a window seat on a 757 than saddle time on a Super Six. I hope to race Banana Belt next Sunday - but god will I be slow - likely dropped. Oh, but that won't stop me ripping this old body to shreds trying to keep up and then limp home exhausted still clinging stubbornly to the illusion that I can race a bike in March with no training.

So as I plowed up a 9-10% gradient Sherwin's words continued to throb in my brain in counters-throb to that in my chest. No squares today, I was pedaling cubes.

Nearly three hours later I rolled back on the porch remembering with workouts, you're never disappointed you did, just disappointed you didn't. Equally - any day on your bike - cubes or square - is a great day to be alive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LA Pedals Into The Future

If Los Angeles, the city in lust with the car, can pedal into the future, maybe, just maybe, there is hope for this petroleum addicted world. It appears the LA City Council is on the verge of pedaling back to the future with a new bicycle transportation master plan that would create 1,680 miles of interconnected bike lanes, streets and corridors - amazing what happens when a city's mayor almost gets killed riding his bike.

In 2008, two cyclists were seriously injured on a narrow Brentwood road when a driver slammed on his car's brakes in front of them. The driver, physician Christopher Thompson, was convicted of numerous charges, including assault with a deadly weapon.

Bill Rosendahl, who represents the district where the crash occurred, said it made him rethink the way the city puts cars on a pedestal.

"There has been a real awakening in the city," he said. "We're starting to think of our streets differently. They're not just conduits for making cars move fast."
Think about that last quote - wow! In the 1890's that's one of the only ways we thought about our streets. If we could only get the wheels of progress to turn the speed of bicycle wheels - the L.A. city council looks set to shift gears and approve the future.