Monday, June 29, 2009

A Eulogy

I can't put into words how I really felt about you, but I have to try.

When the accident happened, time seemed to slow. I saw my life (or at least my collarbone) flash before my eyes, yet I escaped unscathed. You, dear friend, didn't fare as well. Nay, instead during yesterday's State Championships 300 pounds (or more) of flying man-flesh--sinew, bone and fluids--came crashing down on your meager 7 kilos.

It's hard to believe, but you are now dead to the world. It's a hard word to say or process, so I'll repeat it again. Dead. Dead. Dead.

You started your life in Wisconsin, born just down the road from the mothership in Waterloo, barely in time for the 2004 Tour de France. But it was in Europe, where you were covered in mud and cow droppings where you really came into your own. Eventually you were adopted by me, but really it was your time with Jurgen Van den Broeck that defined your early life.

To me, you were always special. I think back fondly now on our time together. The 204 miles on a hot day in July two years ago. The field sprint wins. The suffering, me covered in sweat, you in energy drink, dust and tar. And of course, who could forget the time we were caught in that snowstorm. I laugh now, but today it also makes me want to cry.

Yet alas, Sunday completed your circle of life. No more Madone frame. It is now broken beyond repair. No more Aeolus carbon wheels. Today they're broken in half. No more SRAM Red shifter. No more rear derailleur. No more. No more.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Except in your case it's carbon to carbon. You're an element, and can't be broken down any more than you already are. So sad, but also comforting in its own way.

RIP good bicycle. RIP good friend.

From Team Two Wheel

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bike Racing in Cheney. And Spokane.

I pasted an e-mail below that I received earlier today. In case you hadn't heard, the State Master's Criterium Championships are in Spokane this weekend. Actually, they're in Cheney, but if you live in Spokane it's close enough to ride, and the race is being organized by a Spokane-based club, so I'm OK saying that the race is in Spokane. That makes sense, right?

The good people at the Spokane Regional Sports Commission somehow forgot to mention that on Sunday, Spokane is also hosting the State Master's Road Championships. I could be sarcastic and say something like it's hard to keep up with all of eastern Washington's road racing, but I'm sure it was just an oversight. The folks at the SRSC are very cool and are also great boosters of cycling. So instead I'd like to thank them for sending out a news release about bike racing. I think it's probably the first one any news outlet has received this year. Seriously, bike racing here needs more of this kind of attention.

Anyway, if you're interested in watching riders suffer at high speeds, head to Cheney on Saturday. For an added bonus, on Sunday find your way to northwest Spokane and watch a bunch of riders suffer up Four Mounds Road. For a map, click here.

All of this news about racing has me very excited. Kind of like the Tour de France, but with older riders. Except for Lance Armstrong. He's old enough to ride with the Masters here, but then again he's not from Washington state. And he's professional. And he's actually in France right now, getting ready for the Tour de France. Which starts in Monaco. Monaco is really close to France. Kind of like Cheney is really close to Spokane. Except people in Monaco tend to have a lot more money than people in Cheney. Or Spokane. Or France for that matter.

I on the other hand, despite having bike measurements that are almost identical to Lance's do live in Washington. And I'm not a professional, even though I used to work with professional cyclists. Which makes me eligible to race (the first part of the last sentence, not the last part of the last sentence), which I'll do. What's interesting (to me) though is that I've been to both France and Monaco. And Spokane and Cheney. Speaking of which, Monaco is really hilly. So is the race on Sunday. But alas, my time in Monaco won't have helped me for the race this weekend. Neither will the three days I spent in San Francisco earlier this week for work. San Fran is also hilly, but I didn't ride once, so the hills there won't have helped build power for the climbs in Spokane. Neither will the copious amounts of food I ate or alcohol I drank in San Franciso. Although it's also true that Spokane has similar kinds of food and fluids, and I could have masticated and embibed unhealthy food and drink here as well. But I didn't, because I wasn't here. I was in San Francisco.

Anyway, have fun this weekend and good luck if you're racing.
Press Release Header 2
For Immediate Release

Suzanne Boyce


June 26, 2009

WA State Masters Cycling Championships This Weekend In Cheney

200 cyclists, including local riders, compete for championship

(Cheney, WA) While the city of Spokane is hooping-it-up this weekend, Cheney will be spinning with the best master cyclists in the State during the Washington State Masters Criterium Cycling Championships on Saturday, June 27, 2009. A technical 8-corner, 1-mile loop through downtown Cheney will be the course for 200 cyclists vying for "Best in Washington" honors.

Michael Emde, local rider and recent winner of the Davis 24-hour Challenge held in the Sierra foothills near Sacramento, California, will be competing for another gold medal win to add to his growing list of cycling accolades.

This race also features the Washington State Junior Tour Race Series, a chance for local youth racers to compete against the best in the State on a challenging course. Come watch the excitement!

The schedule of events is as follows:

Junior C/D 9:00AM
Junior A/B 9:40 AM
Master Women A 10:30 AM
Master Women B 11:25 AM
Kids Bicycle Races 12:15 PM (free for kids ages 9 & under)
Master Men D 1:00 PM
Master Men C 1:50 PM
Master Men B 2:45 PM
Master Men A 3:45 PM

Click here to view the course map.

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About the Spokane Regional Sports Commission

The Spokane Regional Sports Commission provides leadership in economic and community development through sports. Our vision is to position the Spokane region as the premier site for adult and youth sports events, generating a significant economic impact and improving the quality of life, while bringing prominence and recognition to the Inland Northwest.

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Intense Father's Day Weekend

Regarding the title of this post, thankfully I'm not referring to a stress-filled weekend jam-packed with tasks and obligations I'd rather avoid.

Instead, I'm referring to my riding.

I had two beautiful days this weekend. For a number of reasons I needed to ride solo. First off, I wanted to try and do some harder efforts, and this always works better for me when I'm by myself. With others I end up riding too hard, or not hard enough. Or resting too long between efforts, or not long enough. No, I what I wanted was to ride where and how I wanted to ride. Plus, Riders 2 and 3 had other plans. Solo it was.

For the most part I generally prefer to ride with friends. I like the camaraderie and social aspect of riding in a group--large or small. But sometimes solitary time on the bike is a must. Especially after the past week. Work has been exceptionally busy and stressful (mostly in a good way though) and I was really looking forward to time alone. It's interesting how this ends up being time for reflection, even though I don't always spend time thinking about anything other than the ride, how I'm feeling on the bike, where that creak in my bottom braket is really coming from, etc.

Plus, like I mentioned a couple of times last week I haven't been riding much and intense efforts have been more difficult than usual. I raced last Tuesday, miraculously finishing fourth, but it wasn't a memorable showing, despite a relatively weak field. I could say that I botched the sprint, but it's funny how when you're feeling good and have decent form, sprints don't get botched.

Anyway, after getting a new spoke for my training wheel at Two Wheel Transit (and catching up at the shop with a couple of the Morning Ride guys that had just finished their long ride), Saturday I did repeats on a hill called Greenwood Road. It's not terribly long--say six to seven minutes depending on my fitness--but it's absolutely hard. The climb gets steeper as you ascend, with the most difficult pitch at the very top.

It's also a beautiful road. Smooth asphalt, great views of Indian Canyon and Palisades Park, thick old-growth fir covering the hillsides, and on the way down, one of the best panoramas of downtown Spokane around. It also gets very little traffic.

And riding this, I almost died. For once, not from some self-inflicted hypoxic state, but from some guy in a truck being stupid. Greenwood is a curvy, steep road with a sandy shoulder. So when you're piloting a 3,000 pound, 20 year old pickup it's probably not a good idea to be sending text messages, which is what the wanker driving the car seemed to be up to. You can probably guess that he drove off the road, I heard a screeching of tires on asphalt and came around the corner to see the guy drifting his truck sideways at 45 mph, with his phone still in his hand. Yikes. I'm sure he went home and told his friends about it, leaving out the part about the phone, but referencing his NASCAR-like reflexes. Except it was a right-hand bend, and in NASCAR you only turn left.

Sunday was Father's Day, so I headed out after a tasty breakfast with my family for a series of 15 minute threshold efforts. Or something around threshold anyway. My heart rate monitor hasn't worked for a couple of months now, so I ride by feel, which is probably better anyway. After 25 years of riding I hope I have a decent sense of when I'm working hard.

It was humid, but the upside of the thunderstorms we've been having is that Spokane is greener than I think I've ever seen it in late-June.

I felt surprisingly strong, ticking through the first effort without more trouble than usual, especially on the heels of Saturday's hard ride. Heading up the Fish Lake Trail--a flat rails-to-trail that brings you to the town of Cheney--I had my second near miss of the weekend. I made the rookie mistake of riding with my head down for 10 seconds or so--something I rarely do. When I looked up what was in front of me? Like 20 meters in front of me? An exceptionally large coyote. I still can't think of a single positive outcome from T-boning a wild animal. Luckily I think it was more scared than I was and it scampered up the hillside.

The rest of the ride was perfect. The rolling hills of Salnave Road were beautiful, the fisherpeople on Silver and Clear Lake must have been at home waiting for the next rainstorm, and the temperature was cool. Armwarmers in June are a rarity, but with the humidity I ended up a bit dehydrated by the end.

No racing this week for me. I'm heading to San Fran for a surprise work trip for a few days. Should make for the perfect runup for State Championships.

On another aside, did you catch Fabian Cancellara and his big ol' cottage of wattage in the Swiss Tour final TT? Holy crap--the man can lay it down. How many bikes a year do you think he breaks? Given how many 40-50 year old docs and lawyers I've seen destroy Specialized Tarmacs, I can only imagine that Spartacus is a one-man R&D department for the big red S.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Avoiding raindrops

This is a game I used to have to play in Boulder all the time. You leave on a ride at a time when the weather is looking especially ominous, then spend your time sprinting away from storm clouds. In its own way, it's actually kind of fun.

I came home from work a few nights ago intent on getting out for a ride. It was a long day with perhaps a few extra frustrations thrown in. But it was especially humid, there was occasional thunder and rain was definitely on the way. Yet it was sunny at my house. To add to the excitement I broke two spokes on a long ride over the weekend, (piece of crap three cross traditionally built wheel only lasted 13 years) so I was rolling around on my all-carbon race wheels. Regardless of what some people seem to think, cork pads and carbon do NOT work all that well when it's wet.

Anyway, it looked sunnier to the south, so south I headed into Spokane's Hangman Valley. I ended up keeping my eye on the various rain clouds, heading left or right where I could to avoid them.

Not only was it a great ride, but I stayed completely dry. Good for me. After all, I wouldn't want my fancy wheels to get dappled with road grime. They're much too fancy for that.

I realize my camera phone is lousy, but here's a pic from the Palouse Highway, overlooking Hangman Valley that probably does a better job at what I've been trying to describe. For all of you non-Spokane readers I wish you could see this valley. It's so green and beautiful right now. You're missing out.

From Team Two Wheel

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The best answer

It's a question that everyone gets at one time or another: "So, have you been riding much?"

More often than not this innocent question leads to some diatribe on mileage, volume, and godforbid, a rundown of Training Stress Scores.

I have a much better suggestion. And it's simple.

Roll up the sleeve of your jersey and respond, "this much." How deep is the tanline?

Barnone it's the best indicator of your summer riding.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guest post: An accessory for every occasion

Note: While this could set a dangerous precedent, Wife1, wife of Rider1, has offered to contribute a post today. Enjoy.

The great challenge for cycling spectators and spouses is that once the athletes are festooned in spandex shorts (or maybe my favorite - the sexy singlet!), logo-filled jersey, shorty socks, helmet and glasses, they all look the same. If I could remember what color jersey Rider1 wore that day, or even which bike he rode off on, I could use that as an identifier, but honestly, between the different arm warmers and wheels and other assorted bits and pieces, there are way too many colors of which to keep track.

But now – problem solved!
Thank you, Rapha, for providing a quick and easy solution to my dilemma. Now, with one small purchase, I will be able to tell Rider1 apart from all his friends. Behold: the cycling neckerchief.

So small! So silky! And yet, so sartorially superior! With this swatch of cloth, Rider1 will no longer suffer the chilly neck, and the family support crew will have a new cheer: Daddy, Daddy! He's so natty!

Rapha explains that the silk scarf doubles as a luxury brow wipe. In a pinch, it will doubtless wipe other things luxuriously as well. Cheerio!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Things to make you feel better

No, we haven't given up the ghost on this blog. In fact we're all still very excited about riding, but life in general has been hectic for all three of us lately.

This weekend, for the first time in something like a month, we linked up for a ride together. Quicksilver is flying. Good for him.

I suffered mightily at times, and Rider 3 experienced a bonk so deep that I'm pretty sure he met Allah.

Our State Championships are in a couple of weeks. Like I've written about before this is a race I had initially hoped to prepare for and do well in, until life got in the way. Lots of business travel and a less than fun sinus infection conspired against saddle time, so I'm off to my bag of tricks.

No, not THAT bag of tricks, although I'm sure you could fill one of Rapha's fancy soigneur bags with all kinds of illicit substances. Although if you buy one of Rapha's fancy soigneur bags you probably won't be able to afford many illicit substances. Maybe some No-Doz.

Anyway, this weekend I started stewing on the things that give me motivation and potentially help form come along. Quickly.

I know some people go for retail therapy: Buy, buy, buy your way to better fitness. Good for them. It actually makes me feel worse though. When I'm suffering, I just get angry and feel undeserving of new equipment. What can I say? I have issues.

So, here's my initial list of the things and stuff I do in a pinch. Most are obvious, but hey, it's my blog post, right?

  • New bar tape. Clean, white bar tape always makes me feel better. Put it on two days before your big ride or race. Fresh cork is a good thing.
  • New chain. I guess these first two bullets are sort of retail therapy, but they're pretty minimal. Anyway, a new chain always feels smoother. Plus, it's time. Has anyone else noticed how quickly 10 speed chains wear out?
  • Eat right: Even I can focus my diet for a couple of weeks. It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm strict about what I eat. The low-glycemic trick works every time for me, and I usually lose a few pounds to boot. Brocolli is your friend. Chocolate chip muffins are not.
  • Be consistent: OK, this is a no-brainer for most in the chamios-sniffing set, but life often makes it difficult for me to ride as consistently as I need to. But when I ask, my family tends to be really supportive. 6 days a week for a couple of weeks does wonders.
  • Ride when your competition isn't. There's something about small compromises that go a long way. If you know your friends are at home watching the Dauphine or the Tour, ride then. Watching races when my form is bad just makes me feel worse.
  • Play to your strengths: Are you a sprinter? Go do a sprint workout. Downhill with a tailwind, preferrably.
  • Leave your computer/HRM/SRM at home. Numbers don't help when you're not feeling snappy. If I've been off the bike for a while and know I don't have good form I ride alone. At my own pace. No computer, heartrate or wattage numbers for reference. Even better, ride a course you don't know well. Just focus on riding a pace that works for you and enjoy yourself. After an hour or two of feeling like I'm riding someone else's bike, I almost always find that my legs start coming around and finish the ride feeling mentally refreshed.
Tomorrow night will be the first training race for me in a long time. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Riding Again

I am not nearly as PRO on my bicycle as my teammate, but I am glad to report that I am at least riding a bicycle again after an extended hiatus.

Last weekend I got back on the bike, I think for the first time in May. It was too long of a break and I have had some serious backsliding on my form. Not that it was that great, but believe me when I say that four weeks off is not good for one's race-readiness. So, last weekend I took off my semi-permanent t-shirt that reads "Help, I've fallen off my bike and can't get back on" and pedaled around a bit.

In a classic bit of idiocy, I was getting quite pumped up about getting back to riding, but I pulled a very rookie move. On Friday, after getting home from a bit of time single skull rowing (the second time on the water since my college days of rowing 6 days a week for four years), I watched the Mt. Vesuvius stage of the Giro. It was an impressive display with attack after attack after attack on those steep slopes. I have never, ever been able to accelerate and recover on a mountain slope. My style is pure big diesel: find an RPM I can sustain and then plow along (usually at 4 - 10 mph) until it's over. So, after four weeks off the bike, but knowing that I was going out Saturday with some inexperienced cyclists who I thought wouldn't be testing me too much, I decided to "attack" every steep "ramp" between my house and the starting point. The total elevation gain was significant (Latah Valley to upper South Hill for those of you around here) and I enjoyed gunning up the one block or two block long ramps. I was pretty toasted by the time I made my way up 14th to Bernard, but glad to be back on the bike.

The not glad part came the next day when my thighs were reminding me of what an idiot I can be.

I was also happy that my weekend plans, after eliminating cycling for a number of prior weekends, allowed for riding again on Sunday. At least my brain was happy. My legs were heavy and sore. So what did I do? Sure. I took a trip up to the top of the Valley Chapel hill. Who said "slow and steady wins the race"? How about "all in for idiocy" as a replacement? Or how about, "no pain, no gain, so this much pain must be great for me"?

Anyway, it's nice to be back on the bike.
Rider 3

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am so PRO

Yes, I realize that I've just used that all-cap abomination, but this time I can back it up. No, I haven't "upgraded" to a compact crank. But trolling the internet cycling news pages has proven that, without a doubt, I am totally PRO.

Need proof? Well, of course you do. Because like any good reader of the blogosphere I'm confident that you would never take a blogger or news reporter at face value. Unless you're a fan of Rush Limbaugh, but don't get me started on that one.

Anyway, back to my newfound PROness:

  • Rider 3 alluded to this once before, but one day while reading up on Lance's fancy Trek Madone I realized that we are literally millimeters away from having the same bike position. Seriously, I could probably hop on his bike and be mostly comfortable. Wow, Lance could totally be my gregario. How PRO would that be? And I just used gregario in a sentence. Also very PRO.
  • Today I learned that Alberto Contador hasn't raced since mid-April. Holy crap! Me too! Alberto es mi hermano! Como estas, Alberto? Let's practice our pistol-shooting victory salutes together. Again, totally PRO to have the same-ish race schedule as AC. (Even if I have actually raced since mid-April, it feels like it's been that long.)
  • And then I learned that after doing some TTT training with his Silence Lotto team, Cadel Evans did an extra hour of work on his own. Check this out. Last time I rode with the Morning Ride guys, I felt like I too needed to expend some extra kcals and tacked on an extra 20 mile loop. That's right, more proof of my PROness.
I'm on to something here, and it's something big.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Today's Haiku

Nothing screams high performance bike riding and racing more than a poorly written haiku.

Sitting at my desk:
Summer head colds are no fun
No racing tonight

From Rider 1

Nice work Rider 1. I'll join in that fun.

Too much time off bike;
heavy legs and heavy gut,
no racing tonight.

Joyfully written
by Team Two Wheel Rider Three
to tell his story.

Monday, June 1, 2009


This is a new realm for me, but I want to make a few bold predictions about cycling events that will take place on Sunday. You may know that I am a long-time follower of professional cycling. It is hard not to cynically dismiss the sport when yet another doping scandal emerges, but I continue to find myself drawn to it. The backdrops are beautiful and one can rarely predict what will happen, however, today, I am going to predict what will happen. Also, I am not going to go all namby-pamby on you and give you a list of potential winners, I am going to tell you who is going to win. Feel free to contact your bookie after reading this column.

Giro d'Italia - Dennis Menchov will win. No, this is not a bold prediction as it has been assumed that he would win even if he was behind Danilo DiLuca going into the time trial and he is ahead by 20 seconds. But I am predicting that the projected rain will in fact fall on the tricky, technical and cobbled Rome time trial course which will cause Menchov to switch to his road bike and the safety of better handling and tires with more grip. DiLuca will keep his time trial bike knowing that he has to have every second he can get. Also, DiLuca will go all out for the first time check to try to spook Menchov into taking chances. Unfortunately for DiLuca, he will be overcooked in the first few minutes and lose time to Menchov for the remainder of the course, EXCEPT, when Menchov falls on the course, but he will still manage to keep his advantage over DiLuca and win.

Also, in a surprise win that has more to do with weather and fatigue, Lithuanian newcomer Ignatas Konovalovas will win the time trial, narrowly defeating Brad Wiggins who was the last hope for Garmin-Chipotle redemption.

In other bold predictions, I think that Taylor Phinney will pull away from a group of about a dozen to win the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, a running of this famous race for U223 riders, and that David Millar will post his first win of the year in a race in Scotland called the Edinburgh Nocturne, a race which a Pro Tour team should be embarrassed to attend.

My prognostication abilities are now worn out for the day, so please don't contact me to ask whether Susan Boyle or dance troupe Diversity will win Britain's Got Talent(okay, I say Diversity) or whether Adam Lambert is will announce in Rolling Stone that he is gay (okay, I say no). Now, please, I really am tired and I want to get my rest for checking the news reports in 24 hours to see if I am right.
Rider 3