Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Last Word

It isn't really possible to have a bike related blog and not weigh in on Lance Armstrong.  The problem is that the best response to the USADA report is to look over the top of your beer to a long-time cycling buddy and say, "Oh. . . yeah."  And just to be clear, that isn't "yay", that is "yeah", probably said with a tone of weary exhaustion.

If you came into this sport "because" of Lance (whether you want to admit it or not), then you may feel differently.  If you got into cycling because you have a friend or family member that was impacted by cancer, then you certainly have the right to feel differently, even if you want to ignore Lance's doping or pretend it didn't happen.

But for me, there have been a couple of truths about Lance Armstrong that I have known for a long, long time.  First, that LA is a cold-blooded killing machine.  That is exactly what made him the cyclist he was (which includes both doping and winning).  I have expressed this opinion for many years and am always surprised when fans or other cyclists want to believe that Lance is a big sweetheart.  I guess it is part of our American shared beliefs that our heroes are also "nice", but I don't think very many people hit the pinnacle of sports by being nice. At some level, there has to be a competitive nature that at a minimum matches the rest of the opponents.

And the second thing I knew about Lance is that he was regularly and decisively beating dopers.  That became clearer and clearer as the years passed and the truth came out.  And the thing you have to know about blood doping products is how incredibly effective they are.  There is a saying that you can't turn a donkey into a racehorse, but that is misleading.  There aren't any donkeys that make it up through the junior, neo-pro and then pro ranks.  There are different qualities of racehorses, to continue the analogy, but they are all good.  The differences between riders of a certain type, sprinters/climbers/overall, are very small among the leaders.  I recall reading the difference between winning a Tour de France and placing 40th was about 3%.  So if you can take a a combination of drugs and and blood transfusions to increase your ability to train, your ability to recover and your ability to race, by even just 3%, then there just isn't any doubt that in a multi-day race that you will beat the people not taking those drugs and transfusions.  Let me repeat that - there isn't any doubt.

So, for me, it isn't a revelation that Armstrong and his team were taking drugs during his stretch of apparent victories.  I assumed that the climbers were taking drugs and there didn't have to be a trash can of needles to prove it.  There were just too many of them on one team and going too fast for there to be any other truth.  It's like racing cars when there is a limit on engine size and one team manages to sneak in more cc's in direct contravention of the rules.  It makes an difference.  It is cheating.  And sadly, it means that the race is meaningless. 

And now, that's why I have weary exhaustion about the whole thing.  I am a fan.  Or at least I was.  I enjoy reading about the teams, the preparation, the course, the tactics - all of it.  I enjoy watching the whole thing unfold, day by day and mountain pass by mountain pass.  But when you find out that some of the racers were cheating, and cheating in a big and effective way, to well and truly place themselves above those were weren't cheating, then the whole race is pointless.  There is no way to know who would have done what, how race tactics would have changed or how the thousand variables that make up a grand tour would have unfolded.  As a result, it is problematic to simply move everyone up a place when you take out the dopers.  It isn't that simple.  And because of that, the whole thing is a fraud.  The whole purpose of watching the sport is destroyed.

And thusly Lance, and a lot of others, have stolen those days from me, stolen that joy from me and left me sad about a sport that I have loved.  And that, unfortunately my friends, is the last word from me on this subject - Sad.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Last post was about the Seven Summits trail.  This kid makes me ashamed of my own descending.  This kid also makes me wish you could bottle up the triumph of a 5-year old and just take a hit of it once in a while.

The first minute or two of the video is great, but there are other great moments about the 4 minute mark and the 7 minute mark, but if you only have a moment, just watch the first part.  Pure triumph!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Seven Summits

A couple of weekends ago, a hearty group of experienced mountain bikers decided to go tackle the Seven Summits Trail out of Rossland, BC.  They agreed to take me along.

If you aren't familiar with the Seven Summits trail, you can join me in my two-weeks ago ignorance.  Living in Spokane, it is shameful that any serious mountain biker wouldn't know about this trail.  My excuse is that I am clearly not a serious mountain biker.  It is one of the 50 "epic" rides on the IMBA list (  If you go to this link, a couple of things jump out at you.  First, the picture and description make it obvious that this is a unique opportunity,
 Adventurous mountain bikers will find the epic they’re looking for on the Seven Summits trail in Rossland BC. This point-to-point trail provides over 35 kilometers (22 miles) of technical single-track, with beautiful mountain vistas, challenging (but 100% rideable) climbs and flowing descents. The sinewy trail follows ridgelines, affording views of the Columbia River Valley and the Southern Selkirk and Monashee Mountains.  
Second, you may or may not notice this line a bit further down the page,  
Difficulty: Advanced. Sustained technical single-track makes the trail most suitable for skilled and fit riders, but determined intermediates can also have a great day.

And that, my dear friends, perfectly sums up our ride, except that I didn't have a "great" day.  Our group was made up of four skilled and fit riders and one determined intermediate.  Of course, being the determined intermediate made me the one who was most wasted after the initial long climb, the slowest one up every hill, the slowest one down every grade and the one that everyone kept looking at with the pity usually reserved for a forlorn, scruffy dog standing by the road near a house, but not "at" the house, so you can't tell how much assistance may be needed.

To show you just how do-able this ride is from Spokane, you should know that one of our party, TC, dropped off his parents at the airport for their early flight before meeting everyone to pack up cars and bikes and that still left plenty of time for the easy drive to Rossland, checking in, the shuttle to the trailhead, doing the ride (even with me slowing everyone) and then one of our guys, BH, hopped in the car and drove home, arriving in time for getting together with friends.  It makes it surprising that everyone who rides mountain bikes in Spokane hasn't done this a dozen times, except that we have a fair amount of nice riding right out our front doors, I guess.

To finish the overall flavor of the trip, we did stay in a decent and very inexpensive hotel, the Rossland Hotel, which is the first thing you come to as you get into town.  It is also located at the intersection for the dump-off road back to town if you skip the last 5 km add-on called Dewdney Backside, so it is conveniently located and did I mention inexpensive?  We had a great meal post-ride at the Flying Steamshovel and a similarly great breakfast the next morning at the Alpine Grind.  But what about the ride, you ask?  Let me tell you about the hot tub at the hotel . . .

TC, our travel guide and former pro downhiller, arranged for us to get a shuttle from the hotel parking lot to the trailhead, which is located a few steep miles up the Nancy Green pass.  The trail starts out briefly through some singletrack and then starts uphill.

Then it keeps going uphill.  Then it goes uphill some more.

All in all, you end up climbing for the first nearly five miles and go from about 5,200 ft to 7.200 ft.  It felt like it was double that, but probably not for the fit guys.  Anyway, it is mostly rideable, but there are a seemingly relentless number of steep pitches - one after the other after another after another after another after another after another - well, you get the idea.

From there, the next mile involves another summit, but not much climbing as you travel along ridgelines.  The next 3 1/2 miles look mostly downhill on Garmin/Strava, although that isn't my recollection, but again, my exhaustion and hypoxia may have impacted my recollections that day.  This is the section with the most amazing views and ridges.

After that, there are another four miles of up and down as you make your way around mostly south along, over and around a series of summits.  Looking at it on Strava, it looks pretty straight, but as you do it, you end up with many views from one side and then the opposite side of a few of the mountain tops around you.

Finally, there are another four miles of downhill (mostly) riding that brings you to the end of the Seven Summits Trail and dumps you onto a gravel road.  From there, if you are knackered and beat to shit, you can take a left turn and ride 7 - 7.5 miles back into town on the road.  It is downhill except for a mile long grade near the end, and then it dumped me out literally across the street from our hotel.  The alternative, taken by the heartier group, is to ride down Dewdney Backside, which is another 3-3.5 miles and takes you to the highway below Rossland and where the shuttle picked up that crew.  Dewdney is described as "Difficult" and "long, fast and remote."  The report was that it was steep and a bit gnarly.  I don't feel bad in the slightest that I missed it.   

The Seven Summits trail, as noted, is an "advanced" trail and there are some rock fields, some steep drop-offs to the left or right of the trail, a few small drops on the trail, and lots of rocks, roots and various things to go over, around or, as I did it, through.  I was riding a borrowed carbon, 29" hardtail, which would usually be my bike of choice (THANKS TC!), but this was definitely a dual-suspension trail.  I doubt that I would have gone much faster downhill that particular day, but the dualie guys were grinning more than either of us with hardtails.

So, that was the excursion.  All in all, a great trip.  Other than that suffering part that lasted most of Saturday.

When can we do it again?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Commuting to Work

Being a bike shop blog in Spokane, a few things are missing.  A blog about Eric Abbot's bike being stolen, a blog about the Twilight Downtown Criterium and a blog about Lance Armstrong vs. USADA.  I have also promised blogs about Ultegra Di2 and a follow-up on my Niner One9.  I have also read a couple of cycling related books in the last few weeks, about which I usually share some thoughts, and have Tyler Hamilton's book on the way to my front porch as I type.  So what's the point to this list?  To show how lazy and behind I am on important things.

Oh sure, I have a couple of other things I have done in the meantime, like maintaining my marriage and parenting my kids a bit here and there, and keeping the creditors at bay by earning a living and giving them the proceeds, but those things pale in comparison to importance of maintaining a bike blog, don't they?

One other major problem jumped out at me recently also.  Every month of 2012 between January and July, I managed to ride my bike between 20 - 30 hours a month.  Not a lot, but a reasonably consistent effort to spin the wheels a bit.  How about August? Seven.  Let me repeat - seven.  7 hours total.  Seven stinking hours is all that I managed to pedal a bike in the month of August.  Hell, I was planning on a vacation during which I was hoping to ride seven days in a row.  In the last several Augusts I have had at least one ride that was seven hours long.  What happened?

Life.  And Work.  And Family.

Oh sure, those have a place, but things got out of whack in August.  Time to rectify that.

And to that end, I rode my bike to work yesterday and today.  Road bike yesterday and mountain bike today.  So to celebrate the awesome place we live and cycle, and to celebrate our great September weather so far, here is a picture of my morning commute.  And just so you are jealous, I will let you know I intend to just the same on the way home.

Friday, August 17, 2012

BMC RM01 - RaceMachine

I glad to report that I am the proud owner of a BMC RM01 RaceMachine.  Like all new owners of such machines, and this being a Swiss designed bike from a Swiss bicycle manufacturing company, I was asked to attend a sixteen hour class so that I could understand the engineering of this bike, appropriate care for it and respect the tradition and precision that went into it.  When you get your own BMC, be sure to set aside the time for it.  The Swiss are revered for their precision and attention to detail, but you should know that they have a German-style sense of humor about all of it.

That said, I am glad I have taken the time to listen to and absorb reams of information about various moduli of carbon, lay-up schedules, resin counts, stress factors at bonding junctions, dynamic absorption and tuned compliance.  And, in fact, you should be glad that I have done this as well, because now we can ignore all of this science and all of the marketer-speak and focus on one important thing - what is like to ride this bike?  Because really, all of that other stuff either works or it doesn't, it translates into what you want in a bike or it doesn't, and that is the bottom line.

Conclusion - It works.  And it works really well.

The RM01 RaceMachine is one of their race series bikes (they didn't, by the way, explain in my class why all BMC bikes have dual names, but then again, you just don't question the Swiss - if they say they are neutral, then they are; if they say they don't have a billion dollars of Nazi ill-gotten gains, then they don't!) .  It is a step below the TM01 TeamMachine and above the performance series that start with the RoadRacer SL01.  The RaceMachine is identical to the TeamMachine except that it is slightly heavier.  One source I found indicated that the difference is 140 grams, or 1,000 grams for the TeamMachine and 1,140 grams for the RaceMachine.  Now personally, I consider 1 gram to be basically nothing.  I wouldn't say that if I was the type of person to ingest cocaine or arsenic (or even iocane powder), but really when we talk grams, it's almost like nothing.  And, if you add 140 of nothing, it's still nothing to me, but for you weight weanies, it is 4.9 ounces, or about 2.2 lbs vs.2.5 lbs.  The weight is added to the carbon fiber lay-up of the bike to increase the stiffness, which correspondingly decreases the flex and with it some amount of shock absorption and comfort.

At my size, which is not inconsequential, I highly prize stiffness in a bike frame and despite my otherwise dainty personality, I am not looking for comfort.  Hell, I like Belgian winter style riding, so comfort clearly isn't on the top of my list.  The other thing I like it durability and cost-effectiveness, so I had this idea that 1) the slightly heavier/stiffer bike could end up being more durable, i.e., resistant to cracking which I have experienced on other carbon fiber frames; and 2) that the $1,000 I would leave in my pocket settling for the extra 4.9 ounces would compensate me more than sufficiently.  Of course, when my own body is within 5 ounces of my ideal riding weight, I might reconsider that, but let's just say that I am confident that 5 oz. on my frame is not the difference between me and a Pantini-like ascent of anything uphill.

This frame can be selected with a couple of different gruppos, but I selected the Shimano Ultegra Di2, which means electronic.  I will delve into that in another post, but let me say two things - first, I originally thought that electronic shifting was the solution to a problem that didn't exist; and second, that may be true, but damnit, I completely love it.  I can't imagine racing a bike without it at this point.  But more on that later. 

Besides the Shimano stuff, the bike has a selection of Easton parts and Mavic Kysrium Elite wheels.  All in all, a very good build for a decent price, which is retail at $6,200.  And yes, I know that is a shocking amount of money, but I think this bike is completely comparable with bikes costing 50% more than that and stands with (or above) the top of the line offerings from everyone else - Trek, Specialized, Cervelo, Pinarello, etc., etc., etc.

But now, for the most important bit - how does it ride?  Well, I do think that is a bit subjective, so that my experience may not be exactly yours, but here is mine.  This bike is comfortable, corners quickly, is steady in descending and has a bit of personality.  And here is what I mean by that.

First of all, "laterally stiff and vertically compliant" has been done to death, but there is an element of that desirable in a bike.  The bottom bracket and drivetrain area on this bike doesn't noticeably flex under my considerable weight and not inconsiderable power.  I have had bikes that would shift gears under enough wattage, so this is important to me.  The bike as a whole, however, doesn't transmit every variation in our Kabul-like roads, which can be the result of excellent drivetrain stiffness.  As a result of the wonders of carbon fiber technology, you get these things together and it's great.

And when it comes to turning, the BMC is quick to turn into a corner; not crit bike quick, but quick.  The cornering is different and quicker than either of my prior race bikes, both Madones.  Damning the Madone with faint praise, I would say that the Madones are very good at everything, but neither deficient or excellent at anything.  This makes for a very steady bike, but also one that lacks a distinct personality.  I don't think anyone riding a Madone would ever hate it, because it is a very neutral bike that is a great all-arounder.  In contrast, the BMC will dive if you ask it to.  And this is something that you will either like or not like.  It means that it will dip into a corner in a crit more than adequately, but it can also be a bit twitchy at lower speeds when descending.  It wants to go where you want and too much steering input will result in too much steering.  Operator issue, but one that the Madone wouldn't let you do - it takes more input, so that it mutes the response a bit.

That said, on a long descent, it is very steady and fast.  I have, much to my surprise, a Strava descent KOM in my palmares.  My size and weight makes it natural, but honestly, I don't consider myself a quick descender and I ride with a group of excellent bike handlers who fly downhill, but I think downhill speed is, in part, a function of the confidence/comfort that is transmitted through the bike.  A bike that is steady and predictable (yes, wheels play a big part in this), will allow a rider to go downhill faster because the point of discomfort/terror is just at a higher speed. 

And lastly, the bike has some personality.  It looks different than most bikes with its seat stays hitting the down tube distinctly lower than almost any bike on the market and it feels different.  As a result, it looks like a BMC and it feels like a BMC.  I have ridden this bike for several months, in several races and many training miles and I couldn't be happier.  Just as Katy Perry experienced with girl-kissing, I liked it.

New Post

It is way past time for a new post on this site, so here goes.

I like bikes.  Don't you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour de France Wrap-up

Another Tour de France is behind us, which leaves me with a bit of a TdF hangover.  I get up the first few mornings after the race feeling listless and undirected.  No reason to turn on the TV, no reason to start reviewing Twitter feed, no reason to scan cycling websites - and if I do those things, it is unsatisfying as apparently the cyclists and journalists all think they deserve a couple of days off.

Well here at the Steve's on Cannon blog, we believe in taking most days off, but not today.  Here are some thoughts on the 2012 Tour de France.

Course - Overall, it appears that Christian Prudhomme spend most of his time at Brad Wiggins kitchen table kicking around course ideas for this Tour.  It was almost perfectly suited to Wiggo, but I was unhappy with the lack of mountain top finishes.  I realize there are difficult logistics to finishing outside of a city, but damnit, it's worth it to me, not to mention a bit of race integrity.

Excitement - That said, I don't think it was fair to say that this was a "boring" race.  I hate Thomas Voeckler, so that gave me reason to yell at the screen most days.  I loved David Millar's win.  I thought Sky was great.  I thought Tejay Van Garderen was fun to watch.  How can you not like Peter Sagan?  How about Cavendish and Greipel  both picking up wins in style.  And then you add Tyler Farrar storming another team's bus and then the Tack incident and Schleck getting booted and it adds up to an interesting and animated Tour even if Evans/Hesjedal/Nibili, etc. didn't put up big challenges.

Tack-gate - More surprising than the tacks on the road is that this kind of thing doesn't happen more often.  And more surprising than that is that the TdF and French police said a few hours aftewards that they didn't expect to every know who did it.  How can it be that the cameras catch every idiot in a Borat swimsuit for 100 miles, but no camera and no bystander saw anything, filmed or photographed anything at all?  It's inconceivable, isn't it?  It's like they found out it was the son of a French Billionaire and Tour sponsor and just decided to hush it up.

Bradley Wiggins - Nice job.  A top level athlete who went from winning Gold medals on the track to the TdF in 10,782 easy steps.  Although most of them not that easy.  A worthy winner and team who threw down the gauntlet and delivered.

Chris Froome - Clearly a climbing talent, but it will be interesting to see how Froome-dog flys when left purely on his own.  Expect it soon in the Vuelta or Giro next year.  I think he is a bit more fragile than he thinks, but hopefully not.

Cadel Evans - Mr. Cuddles was just not the same rider this year as last.  Illness, age or just too many demands after winning last year?  Or maybe a tad less motivation after achieving his overarching goal of the last 20+ years?  Don't know, but he didn't look quite on his game at any race in 2012, but I hope he comes back strong for 2013.

George Hincapie - George is a strong rider and regarded by the entire peloton as a great guy.  Sorry to see him go and sorry that his retirement seems likely to be tarnished by the Armstrong/USADA arbitration (if it ever happens).

Ryder Hesjadal - Damn, I was looking forward to Ryder this year.  Sorry he didn't get his shot, but wait for 2013.

And lastly, some comments about the coverage.

Phil & Paul - I hate to say this, but neither of these guys was really on his game this year.  The multiple pronunciations of every name, along with confusion about what was plainly on the screen was much worse this year.  These guys are gods in our tiny part of the world, so let's hope it's just an aberration and they are back on their stuff.

Bob Roll - I understand why Phil and Paul don't mesh well with Bob, but how can you not like this guy?  NBC, increase his drinking budget and turn him loose.

Liam McHugh - Creditable effort and likeable guy.  The first good addition in a number of years.

Scott Moniger - I don't want to say anything bad about this guy because he was a first class US cyclist, but the truth is, I have nothing good to say about him.  When your two modes are boring or off-base, it turns out that TV commentating may not be your thing.

Craig Hummer - In tiny doses, I don't hate him half as much.  Just a thought - how hot is the sun if it is half as hot?

Steve Porino - Great add to this team. Funny, paid attention and never said "talk about . . ." to any cyclist or team director.  Give us more of Steve.

Robbie Ventura - How can they call this guy a Tech Reporter?  He was reading press releases and hawking a product in every single segment he did.  If you lined up his entire contribution, it would turn out that 10 different bikes were the absolutely best.  Robbie was fun as the earnest boy scout coach for Floyd, but then that didn't turn out too well, did it?

Closing Thoughts - I was amazed at how good a source Twitter was for all kinds of insight, drama and silliness.  95% of my "Follows" are Euro cycling related now.  Also, I miss the Tour, but at least we have the Olympics to which to turn our attention.  After that, the Schlick treatment of the Vuelta will be around the corner and we can ease out of cycling for a few months until the Spring Classics will be around the corner again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TdF - Science of Sport

Bikes are fun.  Riding them is fun.  Racing them is fun.  Buying them is fun.  Talking about riding them is fun.  Talking about racing them is fun.  Talking about buying them is fun.  But you know what isn't fun about bikes?  Having pro riders doping and then having endless discussions and speculation about who doped, when they doped, who didn't dope, who is involved in legal proceedings, etc., etc., etc.

While it would be more fun to just be watching bike racing during the Tour de France, we are also obliged to contemplate a couple of other related topics.  For instance, Brad Wiggins ad hominem attack after being asked about doping.  An "ad hominem" argument is one in which you the person, rather than addressing the issue.  Such as this, "Mr. Wiggo, what do you think about comparisons of the dominance of your team versus prior teams that are accused of doping?" and then the reponse, "Anyone asking that question is a wanker." 

Not sure that really gets at the core of the question.  Or actually anywhere near any part of the question. 

Frankly I was surprised 1) by this response from someone I would have thought was smart enough to say something like, " . . . we are and will always be a strong proponent of clean sport and we got to this point by working hard . . ."; 2) that when he didn't give that response or something like it, that he or the team didn't take the time to "clarify" or expand upon the response; and 3) that a bunch of pro riders/managers/etc. all thought that it was perfectly appropriate response. 

Um, no.  It wasn't.  It was a black-eye on the purported efforts of Team Sky to support clean cycling and that has nothing to do with Wiggo's salty language.

Next up, Lance Armstrong and USADA.  First of all, bad timing from USADA.  On the other hand, process is process and they would have opened themselves up to other accusations if they sat on it to wait until after the TdF.  Second, LA's federal court strategy wasn't unexpected, but the mighty slam-down by Judge Sparks was.  Find of the articles about it if you haven't read the judge's response.  Third, skipping over everything else, I will go on record as saying that I think LA will ultimately accept the penalty or some negotiated penalty rather than go to arbitration unless his ego gets the better of him.  By doing so, he gets to keep arguing that USADA was unfair, it was an unfair process and that the "never tested positive" argument should prove his point.  If they hold a hearing, the testimony from a fleet of riders will be damaging beyond repair.  Corporate think will prevail that it is better to have grey than let it get too black and white.  Haters gonna hate; believers gonna believe.  Not much going to change that with the bickering.  On the other hand, 5 or more riders on a witness stand will have a big negative impact.

Lastly, while believers are gonna believe, I think it's worth looking at some thoughtful analysis of the situation.  For that, a good place to check is the Science of Sport website.  They talk a lot about track/running stuff, but occasionally turn their attention to cycling, to wit, this discussion of power outputs during Stage 7 -  Great read.  Also, check out this chart, referenced in the post.  Click on it to make it bigger, but the point is that the performance in some years is above that expected by scientists familiar with the limits of non-PED athletes, while this year's performances are in line with those expectations.

Interesting, yes.  Fun, not as much.

Enjoy your own riding and Tour watching.  Also, look for a transition during July from this blog, to the River City Red blog, where we will expand from bike talk only, to beer and bikes and a whole lot more. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finish Line Video - 4/24/12 & 5/1/12

Last year the Baddlands Cycling Club posted quite a few finish line videos from the Twilight Series.  This year, they have only posted two, but they are poetry in motion.  Actually, it reminds me of the comments from people watching rowing, who say the sport is "beautiful" or "graceful."  I suppose it looks like that from shore, but in the boat it is all blood, sweat and tears.

Watching these guys cross the line looks fluid and smooth, when the real-time experience at that point is mostly the edge of your limit.  The finish line is a magical spot, however, since the moments before are as fast and stressful as can be with your heart rate maxed out and sucking in oxygen as fast as you can, but then literally at that magic moment it all turns off and you are flooded with an instant change - huffing and puffing to catch your breath, your heart rate dropping off quickly, your legs dead and your adrenaline spent.

Hopefully Baddlands will get up some more videos and even include the lesser lights in the C/D packs.

4/24/12 Spokane Raceway Park - A & B pack finishes

5/1/12 Corsa Brutale

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Catch-up Post

First, I would like to point out that a Catch-up Post is very different than a Ketchup Post.  Enough said.

And now, here are some team and shop updates for your reading pleasure.  Steve's on Cannon is going to be stocking Hincapie Sportwear cycling clothing in the upcoming season and so our shop-supported team made the decision to use Hincapie's custom line for our team kit.  To be perfectly honest, there were a couple of glitches in this process, but full credit to Hincapie Sportwear for doing what they could to correct the issues and take care of the team.  The clothing looks great and the technical details on the kit are fantastic.  Dare I say, the nicest team clothing I have ever had.

Our team clothing must have contributed to the team mojo in our first fully kitted race, with team members taking 1st and 5th in the A pack (Mylroie/Coleman), 1st, 8th and 10th in the B Pack (Bronson, Schneider, Lukes) and 1st and 4th in the C pack (yours truly/Johnson).  We also had a couple of other guys who raced well in the A/B pack and helped represent (Kraby, Lobdell).

On the shop side, Steve has recently gotten in a couple of new BMC models, including a wickedly fast looking TT01 TimeMachine bike.  If you want to see what fast looks like, stop by the shop and check it out.  Or, as a teammate (AM) said last night (although about our kit), "look fast, go fast."

On the bike front, BMC is introducing a couple of new bikes in their line-up, including a Gran Fondo bike used by the BMC Team for Paris-Roubaix and for us mortals to use in long-distance riding/racing, and a hot looking 29" hardtail, the TeamElite TE01 29.  For previews, check out these spots - Gran Fondo (Red Kite Prayer review) and the Team Elite TE01 (Bike Rumor preview).  Don't tell my wife, but I will be eyeing that 29er with a certain consumer-oriented focus.

And lastly, keep an eye out for a post on my BMC RaceMachine with Ultegra Di2.  I have had this bike for about a month, raced it twice, changed stems on it three times (reverting to the original), put a third seat on it, and finally got my race wheels shimano-fied for use with it.  I am ready to review it and give my detailed, thoughtful and signature rambling review.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Aero gone too far

I would really like to write a blog about how cool it was that Paris-Roubaix was covered live for the first time ever on American television today, but for anyone sitting in anticipation for the coverage to start and then have it cut live with no video of the roll-out, no video of the sure-to-be-caught-break forming, no video of the Forest of Arenburg, no video of the battle, but just cut to Boonen out front and within 10 minutes with an unassailable lead (since Cancellara is at home recovering from quadruple collar-bone break), I have to say it was a bit disappointing.  Really.

On the other hand, it was covered live and maybe, just maybe, some TV executive will think, "hey, in order to make this worthwhile, maybe we should cover MORE of the race."  Stranger things have happened.

Which is a good segue to this video - sure, stranger things have happened, but this is pretty strange in and of itself.  It does give me some ideas for the Big Wheel in my basement though . . .

Oh, that Big Wheel - I'm going to add a soundtrack to it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Unboxing has become a weird "thing" on the internet, but what the hey.  So here are some unboxing shots of a certain RaceMachine with Ultegra Di2 components, including a surprise.

And then, the most surprising thing in the box - lights and a bell!?  Is that standard issue in the peloton now?  No, it's just part of the EU requirements, along with 10 lbs of reflectors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting it all together

I rode my bike to work today for the first time in 2012.  I know I am behind a few folks, but I am also way ahead of the crowd that will only come out for Bike to Work Week ( I guess those folks are the equivalent of the church on Easter and Christmas eve only types).  It all worked out fine, but what I realized is that I should have done it over the weekend as a trial run.  It would have saved some hassle.

The good news is, however, that I learned a couple of things today.  First, I learned that you can recreate that feeling of swallowing too much ice cream too fast called "brain freeze" with external application of cold air.  Really.  I did it today and did not previously know that was possible.

I also re-learned why we ride our bikes with the traffic instead of against the traffic.  Because riding on the highway shoulder with the traffic isn't too bad, but riding on the highway shoulder against the traffic can freak the sh_t out of you.

I also re-learned that age old adage of "leave in plenty of time."  And also, "be prepared."  And also, "measure twice, cut once."  And a non-drastic version of "check yourself before you wreck yourself."

You see, what I did was to get dressed for riding to work, collected my stuff, forgot some stuff and left others around the house as I wandered around collecting other things.  Then I pumped up my tires and hit the road. 

As I headed out, a couple of items that I had forgotten came to mind.  I thought about the wool hat that I had picked up as I was getting dressed and even had in my jersey pocket at one point, but I checked and it wasn't there.  I thought about the garage door opener to get in at work.  I realized I forgot my heart rate monitor for the "training" ride home.  I also wondered about anything else I had forgotten, although as I picked up speed a couple of miles from my house, I realized that the only thing that I couldn't live without was something on my head.  My head was getting very cold; quite uncomfortably cold. I thought again about the hat I had in my jersey then had also then taken it out and set it down some place.  At first I figured I could tough it out.  Then I got brain freeze.  The first time ever from cold air blowing on my noggin.  Maybe it's the lack of hair, the 34 degree temperature or the 25 mph wind, but in any case, it was enough to hurt.  I regretted leaving without the hat, but realized I had something the pannier with my briefcase that I could use to cover my head so I stopped and dismounted.  And then I realized that I had no pannier.  No pannier meant no briefcase, which meant, no stuff I needed to have at work. 

So back home I went.  I got a hat, and the garage clicker, and the HR strap, and the pannier, and my other glasses for work and a water bottle.  And then I rode back to work.

I'm thinking it will go smoother tomorrow, right? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

18+ Only Today

So, sure, they go to a hackneyed form of entertainment by using naughty words, but it is entertainment.  Don't you think?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One last Wawawai Landing Post

Here are the combined results for those people that competed in both events.  Dang impressive to do both and nice showing from River City Red riders Andy Lukes, Dana Harper and Josh Messinger.  Doing us proud, gentlemen!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Post-Op - Wawawai Landing TT & Hill Climb

Very Short Recap - Great day down by the Snake River for a TT and Hill Climb race.

Short Recap - The TT and Hill Climb races went off without a hitch thanks to organizing by Ted Chauvin, a great officials crew including two Sirotts (Mike and Sara), some volunteers from River City Red Cycling (thanks again Scott, Taylor, Kelly, Bree, Andrei and Frank (yes Frank, donating your generator counts)), and, of course, all of the racers including those from the team - Brad Hamby, Mark Kraby, Andy Lukes, Dana Harper, Josh Messinger, Andrei Mylroie, Brad Hamby and Mark Kraby.

Recap - The Wawawai Landing TT and Hill Climb were held yesterday, Sunday, March 4, 2012.  The day was pleasant, although windy near the Snake River.  The race was primarily organized by Ted Chauvin, his third year, but with an assist from the River City Red cycling team.

The TT started at 11 am, lead by an 11 year-old junior racer in his first ever start.  This was followed up by 39 more competitors (almost all checked in by my wife - thanks, honey!) who faced a very stiff headwind for the very flat 10k out-leg along the Snake River, but were blessed with a stiff tailwind for the 10k back.  The fastest male was Shawn Ungers, with a 27.47 time, and fastest female was Allison Beal with a 31.12.  The River City Red crew was represented by Dana Harper, 2nd in Cat 3; Andrei Mylroie, 3rd in Cat 3; and Josh Messinger, 5th in Cat 3.  We were also represented by Andy Lukes, 2nd in Cat 4/5; Brad Hamby, 10th in Cat 4/5; and Mark Kraby, 12th in Cat 4/5.  River City Red, with 6 riders, was the second best represented club there, following Baddlands.

The Hill Climb went off at 2 pm and is a mass start for all categories.  The hill starts right next to the Snake River and climbs all of the way, and I mean ALL of the way, out of the Wawawai Canyon.  It is a very tough 11k climb, with some of the steepest sections near the top.  Both hill climb records were broken, for the men by Jake MacArthur in 27.34 (30 seconds faster than the 2010 time), and for the women by Jodie Bolt in 32.20 (by a crushing 3 minutes, 9 seconds).  This was probably evidence of some of that tailwind coming up the canyon, but it was impressive nonetheless.  River City Red was represented by Dana and Josh, 3rd and 6th in Cat. 3, and Andy Lukes in 5th in Cat 4/5 (Andy had the fastest team time in the two events, by a decent margin - a great showing, particularly since these were his first bike races ever).  And, just for the record, I didn't ride it, but I have done a Cray super computer analysis of my height, weight, wattage, aerodynamics, hydration drink selection and energy absorption from the sun decreased by the wind loss and measured those things against this particular grade.  This analysis indicates that I would be finishing the hill climb right about now.  Yes, now, whenever you are reading this.

The day's recap cannot be complete without a special thanks to River City Red team members Scott McSpadden and Taylor Pilant, who helped with course set-up for both courses and did road marshalling duties at both; to Frank Johnson who loaned us equipment; to my wife Kelly who did almost all of the registration duties by herself despite never having done anything like this; and Bree, who helped with the TT set-up and then acted as Dana's support crew.  And finally, hat's off to Ted Chauvin, who did a great job organizing this whole rodeo.

This is a great early season race with good weather and a low key atmosphere.  Look for it again about this time next year.  If you want to peruse the results, take a look here - Time Trial and Hill Climb.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wawawai Landing TT & Hill Climb

Sure there is snow on the ground again this morning, but it is still time for bike racing.  Yes, you heard me right. This weekend, and in more places than Belgium, there will be bike racing.  Specifically, about two hours out of Spokane you will find a place that promises to be about 10 degrees warmer than Spokane (this means 60 degrees on Sunday, and won't that be nice?) and which, conveniently for all involved, will be hosting two separate races this weekend - A 20 kilometer, flat TT and a distinctly not flat 11k mass-start Hill Climb race.

There is a great deal of history, discussion and explanation at Ted Chauvin's tumblr account, which you can find here: (Ted is the originator, guardian and promoter of this event).  You can find the specific race information here:  And there you will find a link to register online, or just come down on Sunday and register the old fashioned way (by standing in line).  I will personally be there helping with registration and not just to avoid having to race.

Yes, it's a bit early to feel fit and fast, but that is EXACTLY why you should come do a race.  It will make you fit and fast later and catapult you ahead of your non-racing rivals.  Guaranteed.*

*Terms of Guarantee - This is a completely and wholly bogus guarantee.  There will be no refund of race fees (even as nominal as they are).  There will be no actual way to determine that you are fitter or faster than non-racing rivals.  You may go faster or slower than non-racing rivals on any particular day, but instead of getting your money back under this guarantee, just tell your rivals that you are training by "power" and your coach told you to keep in the ochre basic power zone, which explains why are you are slower.  Don't worry that "ochre basic power zone" means nothing; no one will know that.  I guarantee it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pinterest Style Post - Hour Record Edition

Instead of my own ramblings, follow this ramble I went on.  Just click on the links and see if you don't agree.

Wow.  Cool.

Short blurb.  Still cool.

Some more details.  Funny.  No, it isn't a long way, but then again, think of the octogenarians and older that you know riding a bike 15+ miles in an hour.  Cool.  I wonder how far the Obree/Boardman/Moser/Merckx hour records are?


Wow, this guy holds the current hour record?

Kind of a dick.  And what kind of cyclist gets caught for meth?

Yep, I agree.

You probably do too.  Thanks for playing along.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2+2+2+2 = Tired

On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday I got on my trainer for 2 hours each day.  This thoroughly modest achievement is the biggest training block I have done in more than a year.  I don't think that I managed to do four days of riding in a row in all of 2011.  That's sad really.  Maybe I should go back through the calendar or my Garmin Connect records and see if that is wrong, but I would be even sadder to find out that it really was true instead of just thinking it was true.

Okay, I did just check and there was a single time in 2011 when I rode my bike four days in a row (thanks Garmin Connect!).  In September, I rode my bike to commute four days in a row.  On one of those, I didn't ride home, so the following day I got a ride to work and then rode home.  The total time on the bike those four days was under 4 hours and that included excursions on the way home.  How can I go on calling myself a cyclist?

Well, I guess that hope springs eternal and that in the spring, while a young man's thoughts to turn love, an older guy's thoughts turn to cycling.  Frankly, looking back at the Garmin records could get me off on a whole different tangent, but I will try to steer back to my original thought, as meager as that might have been.

In hopes of actually having a 2012 cycling season, feeling good on the bike and managing to keep up with the members of the River City Red team (on the flats, that is), I have been trying to embrace the chance to ride outside, even when it means my arse is being handed to me by fitter riders (everyone), and trying to get on the trainer.  This three-day weekend afforded me the chance to do so and I headed into it with the 2, 2, 2, 2 plan.  It seemed like enough time to be meaningful, but not so much time that I couldn't manage to do it again the next day (and the day after, etc.).  And, pleasantly, it worked.

The two things that sprang from relating this plan were 1) cyclists who said they can't stand the trainer and couldn't do that; and 2) cyclists who said that wasn't really training.

To the first group, I say, yes, it isn't nearly as interesting or fun as cycling outside, but the trick is to distract yourself and mentally commit before you get on the bike.  I have known people who can listen to music, and those who watch TV (even timing intervals to commercials or whatnot), but for me, the trick is a TV and cycling videos.  I can pay attention or not and the race on TV keeps moving, keeps me interested and provides motivation.  All I can say is that it works for me.

To the second group, I say, bah!  I can watch my heart rates, see the difference from day to day and certainly sense where I am in overall fitness depending on the year, season, or whatever.  There is no doubt that a group ride or race is harder; there is no doubt that you can't really duplicate the effort of a big hill (or the fun of downhill); there is no doubt that if I lived in San Diego I wouldn't put much time on the trainer, but that said, you cannot really doubt the training load if you get on the bike and do it yourself.  If it's too easy, ramp up the resistance, but really, just don't tell me that it isn't really training when my HR is high and there is a big disgusting puddle of sweat on the floor.  You're just not doing it right if it isn't training.

Me, I'm happy that I got in those few days.  If I just do that again for the next several months, I'm sure it will pay off.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teaser - Sock Edition

We have place the order for our new team cycling kit and everyone, and I mean everyone, is excited.  I feel like the kid who has sent in his money and box tops and is now anxiously awaiting the mail delivery each day hoping that his prize will come.  In this case, however, it is a few more weeks.

Imagine my surprise then, when I got a Fed Ex package yesterday with a sample of our socks!  Only one pair, but I had to sign off on them before production of the rest proceeded.  So, without further ado, sock tops!

How cool is that? 

So, why not show the rest of the sock?  Because there is a surprise on them. 

Oh, all right.  You whining cry-baby, here is your damn surprise now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clarification - Plasticizer Edition

Yesterday I said that the plasticizers in Contador's blood samples were important to me and to the arbitrators.  Turns out that was wrong.  It was only important to me, or at least the arbitrators said that it wasn't important to them in reaching their decision. 

Here is my summation of the whole story:
Contador - I unknowingly ate contaminated beef, so you can't blame me for the clenbuterol in my system despite the strict liability of an athlete to know what he or she is ingesting.

WADA - A) Strict liability and B) the plasticizers indicate a blood transfusion that introduced clenbuterol.  Also, there was a .04% chance of getting clenbuterol laced beef in Europe.

Arbitrators - We reject transfusion and contaminated beer and think the most likely scenario is clenbuterol-laced supplements.

I think it's interesting that they decided on a scenario that neither the accused or prosecutors argued.  Anyway, I do think that there have been a lot of lower profile cases where the strict liability policy was enforced against athletes with completely clean and accusation-free histories, so it was fair to uphold that concept in this case.

If you would like to read an actual analysis of this case, written by an attorney and long-time cycling journalist, check out Charles Pelkey's take on this in his Explainer column now found at the always excellent Red Kite Prayer website - The Explainer: Thoughts on the Contador Case

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Contador and Armstrong

Truncated thoughts on a complex topics.

Contador - I'm not happy that it came down this way, but I would have been very unhappy if they excused him with no "proof" of the source.  And why are all of the mainstream sources ignoring the plasticizers.  Seems pretty important to me and it certainly was to the arbitrators.

Armstrong - I wouldn't be happy if he and others had been indicted, but I do think the way this happened basically stinks.  Think there will be some follow-up on that?  Yup, I think so too.

Check out this article from

Concerns over closure of Federal investigation into Armstrong and US Postal

US radio station National Public Radio (NPR) has raised concerns over the decision that saw the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles close down a two-year investigation into allegations of fraud and doping that involved the US Postal Service Team and Lance Armstrong. Armstrong has denied ever taking performance enhancing and welcomed the decision to close the case. He may still face investigation from USADA.

NPR has alleged that sources in the FBI, FDA and US Postal Service were ‘shocked, surprised and angered’ and that federal authorities only had 30 minutes notice before the United States Attorney's Office released a press release to the media on Friday afternoon.

According the NPR, sources indicated that charges were close to being brought against a number of individuals, which included fraud, witness tampering, mail fraud, and drug distribution. One source, NPR says, said there were ‘no weaknesses in the case’.

However, NPR also adds that a person with knowledge of the decision said that US Attorney didn’t agree that there was sufficient evidence of crimes.
Cyclingnews spoke to a source who had co-operated with the federal investigation. The source indicated that the NPR reports held weight.

“I talked to someone within the investigation but the reason why the case was shut down was due to a one-man decision. The evidence against those involved was absolutely overwhelming. They were going to be charged with a slew of crimes but for reasons unexplained he closed the case saying it wasn't open for discussion,” the source said.

A press release from United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. stated his office was "closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong."

Armstrong stated: “I am gratified to learn that the U.S. Attorney's Office is closing its investigation," Lance Armstrong said in a statement. "It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it. I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction."

Cyclingnews attempted to contact federal investigators and Armstrong's attorney for comment.


Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm impressed

Some people have better balance than others. Some are more willing to accept risk than others. This guy is on the other side of both of those scales from me. And yes, he does have a motor on his two wheels, but don't hold it against him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Blog - New Season, New Bikes

Back around the dawn of man's existence on the planet, but sometime after blogger was created, I helped co-found a bike club with two other guys.  We started small and stayed small.  Until this year, that is, when we took a big leap.  In the process, we have switched around a few things, including our bike shop sponsor.  As a result, though, we are just now getting back to contributing together to a bike blog.  And thus, we have the return of Rider One, the primogeniture, if you will, or at least the guy who grabbed the number one spot on the roster and has been sitting comfortably there for many a year now.  And, just to be clear, he deserves it.  He has a long and substantial bike resume, not to mention a few other good qualities. And so, without further ado, I am glad to re-introduce the writings of Rider One.

New Season, New Bikes

I was 16 years old when I got my first team bike. That is, a bike I wasn’t asked to pay for. That Gios Compact, which my father still rides by the way, was soon replaced by a Tomasso when I switched teams the following year. We were sponsored by 10 Speed Drive Imports, and Tomasso was one of the brands, along with Guerciotti and Rossin (I think) that they distributed.

Without going off on too much of a tangent, that Tomasso wasn’t really a Tomasso, it was a Gitane. You see the year before the team was sponsored by the French bike manufacturer. So when Tomasso came on board, the Gitanes were sanded, sprayed red and new decals were applied. That bike was up there with a friend’s Vitus [] I once borrowed for a few days—a bike so flexible that even as a junior weighing in at a whopping 150 pounds, I consider one of the most hair-raising bikes to descend on. That said, it never seemed to hold back this guy. []

After college I worked for a pro road racing team, following up by a few years working for Trek Bicycles, managing its professional MTB teams. Yes, I had access to lots of really cool bikes. Stock bikes. Prototypes slated for testing by the team. One off concepts that never made it to production. Fun stuff! And the whole build cycle for new gear was quite a thing to watch. I remember organizing a delivery from Shimano, with two shipping pallets filled with XTR and Dura-Ace components.

Yet here’s the thing. Getting a new bike never got old for me. I suppose there was a general awareness that it was yet another bike to carry a rider, but I got bit by the bike bug in a big way as a teenager, and while my enthusiasm for riding has indeed waxed and waned over the years, I’ve never gotten tired of beautifully made frames.

So, transition to this year, when some of my teammates will be on new BMC bikes. These should be in within the month, and I can guarantee that the boys are excited. Unfortunately River City Red’s negotiations with Philippe Gilbert fell through so we won’t have the fly Belgian National Champion paint job that’s highlighted in the video below from VeloNews.

It’s going to be a fun year. Enjoy.