Monday, October 25, 2010

Everything Brown!

Years ago, there was a Gap advertisement (at least I think it was the Gap) that had a couple of Dieter-like German fashionistas exclaiming, "Everything Brown!"

The idea was that brown was the in color that season. If you were cool, you had to have brown.

Well, my current leg warmers would have fit in nicely with his ad. You see, said leg warmers are seriously old. In fact they're likely the same vintage as that Gap ad--my guess is early-to-mid-90s. Of course they weren't always brown, but the sublimation/fabric has faded in the sun over the years.

Getting dressed for a ride this past weekend I couldn't help but notice how poo-inspired my leg warmers have become. I probably wouldn't even bring this up, but on the ride I also blew out the zipper at the bottom of the leg.

I guess it's time for a new set of leg warmers. I wonder if Two Wheel has anything in pink...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jumping the Shark

Please remember and give me credit, because you have heard it first here: Cycling has Jumped the Shark. It occurred at 9.00 pm on October 21, 2010. At that point, precisely, the ascendancy of cycling peaked and we cyclists can pinpoint that particular moment as the high point of cycling in popular culture, and from that point onwards, we are in decline.

Now I know what Major Taylor thinks when he rolls over in his grave, "We used to be great! We used to be popular and interesting, but now . . . these kids . . . they have no idea."

Maybe you don't know that of which I speak. Maybe you didn't catch the shark jumping, or recognize it as such, or maybe you don't know what it means to jump the shark.

For those of you old enough, you will recall a show named "Happy Days". Happy Days was a rosy look at 50's America that never really existed, but was warm and funny. It was an insanely popular show at a time when we all watched the same four TV stations. The show was on for ten years, from 1974 - 1984, although the last 3-4 years were a weak substitute for the prior years, but the actual jumping of the shark took place in 1977. In that episode, Fonzie was challenged to literally jump a shark on water skis. Actually, Fonzie was on water skis, but you get the point. And it is, in fact, a turning point, the one at which the show went from being good, interesting and maybe relevant and turned into a shadow of itself ("Nuking the fridge" is the same concept applied to the Indiana Jones series).

For us cyclists, the cold opening of The Office last night marked our own jumping of the shark. If you missed it, the gay accountant character, Oscar, is shown in the parking lot wearing cycling gear, with the de rigueur LiveStrong helmet, standing next to his shiny new Trek and spouting about his new found joy and meaning in life now that he is a cyclist. Sure, we've all been there, right? We cyclists have all had those geeky moments when we love cycling SO much that we have to tell non-cyclists, who really don't care. But we have never before turned on Must See TV and watched that scene lived out in on one of the most popular shows on television. No, cycling wasn't the focus of the episode, but it had raised to the level of mainstream consciousness that they felt comfortable making the reference to cycling and to Lance and knew that America would "get" it.

It has been a long period of rising to this level of awareness. Let's not focus on the fact that the Office made a parkour reference a year ago, but let's look at cycling's rise. It started, I think, with Greg LeMond. Greg and a sprinkling of Andy Hampsten spawned a group of young people who wanted to become Tour de France riders. Somewhat unbelievably, it spawned a phenomenal group that included Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and, of course, Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong. Lance has now transcended cycling to become a true national level abd world level fame. All of this inexorably led to Hollywood celebrities riding bikes, legions of professionals purchasing carbon fiber bikes that cost more than their first cars (yes, I did it too, but to be fair my first car was worth around $800), Rouleur Magazine, the success of Rapha and hipsters on fixies, and now, The Office making fun of all of it so that it rings true to the mass of non-cycling humanity.

From here, there is nowhere to go but down.

Looking back, it will be obvious. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it sure as hell didn't fall in a day. We have had an ongoing series of drug investigations, fallen heroes (Tyler, Floyd - we trusted in your boy scout/mennonite goodness!?), and hidden motors in seat tubes. We now are knowledgeable about plasticizers on blood and have to constantly explain to our children to not take too seriously any of the sport we love so dearly. Spain, never a bastion of drug control (Italy - I'm looking at you . . .) just arrested 32 people in a clenbuterol ring and we are awaiting the results of a federal investigation into Lance and a whole era of cyclists. Frankly, I'm not hopeful that one of these days a Federal Prosecutor is going to announce, "All good! Couldn't find any evidence of drug use in professional cycling!" No, I have to think someone is going to be charged, someone is going to spill the beans and all of us will be less happy even though it is better to know the truth.

Cycling, I loved you and am going to stick with you, but like Major Taylor, I'm glad I was here while it was good and I'm looking forward to the next cycle of ascendancy. The good news for us? From Major Taylor to today took 100 years. In this internet age, it will only take 100 weeks. Until then, beware of anyone simultaneously wearing a leather jacket and flotation device.
Rider Three

Friday, October 15, 2010

Out of print?!?

A couple of weeks ago, Rider 3 presented our readers with a multi-part series of posts on cycling-related books that recently visited his night stand.

One book he didn't mention, but that I know he's read, is Tim Krabbe's, The Rider. I daresay this is my favorite book written about cycling. It's also the most literary book I've read about cycling.

I'm not sure whether The Rider is considered a novel or a novella. Either way, it's not long--you can read it in the time that say, a significant other might watch Love, Actually, or Rambo, depending on his or her's cinematic tendencies.

Anyway, today I heard some awful news. Evidently, the publisher and owner to the book's rights will cease publication. This is a shame.

The Rider is of course about cycling. It's an internal monologue of a Dutch rider, as he competes in a race he has spent significant time and effort preparing for. So while it's about riding and racing, generally, and in my estimation you'd need to be a rider or racer to truly relate to much of the book, really the themes and feelings (pros might say "sensations") it considers are broader than just cycling.

Plus, it has one of the all-time cool covers. And that's important, no?

The Rider - Tim Krabbe

While I'm a huge fan of the Kindle store and e-books in general, I appreciate owning The Rider in its physical form. It's really a beautiful little book.

So here's my recommendation. Pop over to your local bookseller, or log onto Amazon, and see if you can still buy a copy. It's worth the read and it's worth owning.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Excited by the Trainer

We have had some surprisingly nice weather in October and my guess is that lots of people are riding and enjoying the hell out of it. I'm not. As discussed previously, I turned a short break into a long break by seriously spraining my ankle and now I can add a sore back after being hit (thankfully while driving my car, not a bike) by an unlicensed driver who fled the scene on foot (but that's a story for another day).

I am hoping, however, that this weekend I can get on my trainer to test out how my ankle is doing and hope that my back is better or improved by the cycling. In any case, for the first time in a long, long time or maybe ever, I am really excited about getting on my trainer. A few weeks from now, when there is slush on the roads, cold temperatures all day and misery in the air, I will be dreading the trainer as a poor substitute for joys of cycling, but today, I am really looking forward to it.

Wish me luck.
Rider Three

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time Off the Bike

Today is the one month anniversary of the last day I turned a pedal. Not, as Phil would say, in anger, just turned a pedal at all.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. After the Leadville 100, it only took a couple of days before I was thinking about cycling and wanting to ride my bike. I was with my family on vacation and after sacrificing time with them for training, I held off riding until I got back home, but that was just over a week from Leadville to my next ride.

On Sept. 11 I rode the Capital Forest 50/100. It was a hard ride as previously described, and I came home banged up, tired and ready for a break. It turns out that what I got was not a break, but instead a bad sprain. Of my ankle. This implies wrongly that these things were related, when they were not.

No, I needed a bit of rest and recuperation and after a lot of riding this summer, it was time. I took the subsequent week and weekend off since it was filled with work and non-profit obligations and a bit of rain. The following weekend I was supposed to spend both Saturday and Sunday helping with a move. That was good until late afternoon on Saturday when I stepped in a bit of grease and rolled my ankle. Hard. I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening having x-rays, having discussions of how old men shouldn't be partaking of some activities, and being warned to take it very easy for the next number of weeks. Fun times, my friends, fun times.

Today, a bit over two weeks later, I am itching to ride my bike, or, for that matter, walk in a straight line without pain. I can't remember the last time I have been off of a bike for one solid month and it doesn't feel normal. I suggested to my wife that I get back some of that feeling by spending money on cycling stuff, but she didn't second the notion. Something about rational behavior that I didn't catch.

Anyway, one month and counting off of the bike. I am planning to sit on the trainer this coming weekend and see how it goes, but I am not confident about the advisability of that even. Is this where the notion of "no pain, no gain" comes in?

Well, at least I have all that interesting news about pro cycling to keep me occupied in the mean time. By the way, anyone have a degree in chemistry analysis who could help me with the bike news?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Injured Cyclist

The Dean of Spokane Cycling has two posts describing the accident and gravely serious injuries to the Spokane rider who crashed at 4th & Lincoln a couple of days ago:


This blog is usually reserved for silliness and discussions of recreational entertainment, but this accident and the vitriolic reaction is a cause for sadness and reflection.

The Spokesman-Review owes this cyclist and his family an apology for creating the impression that the cyclist caused the accident when he had the right-of-way. He may have "hit" the mini-van, but that is because the mini-van pulled in front of him when it had no right to do so.

The Spokane Police Department has problems more grave than this, but regardless of the contributory cause by the cyclist potentially exceeding the speed limit, the driver who pulled out deserves a ticket and it is yet another example of "our" police department not respecting the rights of citizens.

I was in a motorcycle accident many years ago caused completely by a car. The police officer walked up to me while I was attending to my wife (who had been on the motorcycle with me) and said something like, "What did you do?" Not, "What happened?", or even, "Is everyone okay?", but instead led with the conclusion, before he knew anything about it, that the motorcycle had been the cause of whatever had happened. Thankfully the driver of the vehicle behind mine took the time to find and explain to the officer what had happened, gave me his card and then did the same thing to insurance adjuster. I wish I had this gentleman's name to thank him again, but it is a reminder of how some police officers view motorcyclists and cyclists.

And lastly, the idiots and ignoramuses who have no understanding of how roads and maintenance are paid for, no understanding of the laws concerning cyclists and have the arrogance to bluster about in their hatred and ignorance owe every cyclist and sensible person an apology. And they should also shut the hell up.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bikephobes Should Shut the Hell Up

I wrote a draft of this over the weekend, but with another cyclist injured yesterday, which will undoubtedly be taken up by the ignoramus group as vindication that cyclists don't belong on the road, I think it is all the more important to have a say in this "discussion".

My wife feels strongly that I should not have a blog post with the title, "Bikeaphobes Should Shut the Hell Up." And maybe I shouldn't, but I am tired of people offering such stupid "arguments" about whether bikes should be on the roads or whether we should be forced to stay on the sidewalks or maybe rounded up and put in detention centers where the true Americans who pay their taxes can keep a wary eye on us cyclists who would otherwise just be out there using up their precious roads without paying our fair share.


So, as a public service I offer you the following point/counter-point for future cyclist vs. ignoramus discussions.

1. Bikes Should Stay OFF the Roads and Stay ON the Sidewalks where they belong.

According the the laws of our state and every other of which I am aware, bicycles have the legal right to be on the roads with very limited exceptions. Those exceptions include high-speed interstate-type roads where there are appropriate alternatives for bicycles. Other than that, we cyclists have the legal right to be there. If you don't like it, please contact your local political representative to propose changing the law, but leave me out of it until you get some dumb-ass legislator to go along with you.

You should also know that it is illegal for cyclists to use the sidewalks in many areas, specifically in downtown Spokane. In my many years in this area, I can only recall one instance of a cyclist injuring someone else, which was a bike rider on a sidewalk who hit a pedestrian. My recollection, which may not be correct, is that the pedestrian was stepping out of a doorway and was hit and quite seriously injured, and I think disabled permanently in some fashion.

On the other hand, I can think of numerous instances in which car drivers have hurt cyclists, including at least two deaths in Spokane this year.

So, how is that car drivers are getting the worst of this deal? Are there seriously people out there who still can only see cyclists as a 1950's version of Leave it Beaver children riding on the sidewalk to go to Jimmy's house? Anyone who wants to have any credibility in discussing transportation or cycling issues should have left this argument behind about the same time cavemen invented fire.

I read a comment yesterday that cyclists should pay registration fees and the money can be put towards creation of bike paths. This is frankly dumb in so many ways that it is hard to fathom. Let's at least be a little bit realistic in this discussion.

2. Bike Riders Should Be Forced to Obey the Rules of the Road, or alternatively, Bike Riders Shouldn't be Allowed on the Road because the Don't Follow the Same Rules!

Okay, as a starting point on this one, how about if we agree that all cyclists do not obey the rules of the road. Both cyclists and ignoramuses can agree on that, right? But more importantly, can the ignoramuses recognize that not all car drivers obey the rules of the road? Or, as a corollary, would the ignoramuses like to be considered as ALL being rule-breaking, law-flouting idiots because there are, in fact, rule-breaking, law-flouting, car-driving idiots on the road? Would that be the best way to proceed having a thoughtful conversation? I thought not.

So why is that idiot drivers who see a cyclist (or even more than one) run a red light decide that ALL cyclists run red lights and that ALL cyclists must therefore be godless communists who are a menace to our patriotic, apple pie and motherhood way of life? How many times have you seen Letters to the Editor saying that they saw a cyclist almost cause and accident and therefore ______________. Fill in your own blank because there are lots of options, but all of them start with the gross and absurd assumption that seeing one cyclist do something means that all cyclists must do exactly the same thing. Sure, just like all gun owners do the same things with guns. Or all smokers obey or disobey no smoking signs. Or all car drivers behave the same. Or all teachers or students or parents or cops or politicians or christians or muslims or gays or straights. They're all the same right? Each and every single one of THEM. By the way, important note. Please remember that gross generalizations only work for THEM. When it is US, that is really unfair.

3. People Who Ride Bikes are Wholly Different and Completely Separate People Than People Who Drive Cars.

A Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 2nd Spokesman-Review suggests that bike riders are getting a "free ride" on the car drivers expensive roads because bikes themselves are not licensed and/or registered and further that we use the example of car drivers and horse riders learning to get along and not make one side pay for all of the improvements necessary for cars to be on the dirt paths.

The letter writer, by the way, is Kat Fiessinger, who shares a first name with the person who commented at the Inlander and on this blog in a similar vein - and

So, putting aside the compelling argument that horse riders and horseless carriage drivers worked together, harmoniously and hand-in-hand, to pay for roads so that cars could then run down and displace the horses, could we briefly consider Ms. Fiessinger's main point? Which is that cyclists don't pay for roads but use them.

In Ms. Fiessinger's world, people who ride bikes do not own cars and pay taxes, licenses or fees for them; do not buy gas and pay taxes on it; do not own homes and pay property taxes on them; do not buy any goods and pay sales tax on them; and do not have jobs or incomes and pay income taxes. Because a person, no, excuse me, a cyclist, would have to do each and every one of these things to avoid helping to pay for the roads. In other words, every cyclist Ms. Fiessinger sees disobeying traffic laws and damaging her precious roads are also amazingly fiscally-adept anarchists, communists or otherwise dirty hippies. That is simply remarkable!

Also, this revelation that Ms. Fiessinger has brought to my attention makes me feel singularly foolish. You see, I ride bicycles with people who PURPORT to be among other things, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, business owners, consultants, firemen, teachers, construction workers, sales people and a whole variety of other jobs and professions. I CANNOT believe that they have all fooled me for so long, just pretending to be contributing members of society when IN FACT they are using up our ROADS and NOT PAYING FOR THEM! HOW DARE THEY!

And here I am, being fooled like that AND I am still paying all of those damn taxes! Clearly, something has to change.

Oh, wait just a moment, I have an idea. What could change is that ignoramuses could pull their brains out of their henies and recognize that all members of a society contribute to that society and should have a say in how the society resources are allocated.

Oh my god, I just realize I have become a communist! Well, it was a slippery slope and the day I threw my leg over a bike it was just a matter of time. I guess this is the end of this blog as I will be dropping out of society so that I can ride my bike and not pay taxes full time. It looks like that is my only option. Either that, or we could, possibly, maybe, try to have a rational discussion about people having the freedom to choose whether they drive a car or ride a bike and how to allocate the resources that we ALL contribute to supporting that freedom.

No, that wouldn't work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cross is in season.

Ah, cyclocross. The autumn and winter pastime of many-a-Belgian-hardman. And over the past few years, it's become the pastime of many-a-American-average-bike racer.

Cyclocross, in many ways, is a perfect form of bike racing. The barrier to entries are low. Although you start in a group, the courses (and ability level of racers) are such that there's no peloton to speak of. Rather, it's a string of riders cruising around a race course, generally separated by tens of seconds, if not minutes. And while you can absolutely spend a gazillion dollars on a 'cross bike, it's not essential. In fact racing on less than high zoot (low zoot?) equipment is often considered a badge of honor.

But here's, to me, why 'cross is a great sport. It's ideal for weekend warriors. Although many of us hate to admit it, most of us have limited training and travel time. Cross races typically last less than an hour. So it's realistic to have breakfast with your family (or girlfriend/boyfriend/cats), drive to a race, warm up, register, race, cool down, and drive home, and STILL have time to have a relaxing afternoon. Nice. You also get an unbelievably great workout to boot.

So, given this description you might guess that I am cyclocross racer. Sadly, you'd be mistaken. Four knee surgeries have left me with little desire for sports that involve running. And while cyclocross doesn't require a ton of running, there's some, and too much for me.

Also, cross is freaking hard! OK, I'm mostly kidding. I love a great workout as much as most cyclist. But still, the running joke is that cyclocross is the perfect sport for people that like the taste of their own vomit. Of course no one will force you to work so hard that the taste of bile will surround your taste buds, (as opposed to a road race where you either 1) work hard to keep up or 2) get dropped, ride alone and likely drop out(, it really is a hard sport. This is a good thing though. Really.

Seriously though. Commit to a season of cross racing and you will definitely bring some fitness into the holiday fatness season.

OK, so all of this is a long way of saying two things. First, your helpful friends at Two Wheel Transit would be happy to tell you all about cyclocross and cyclocross bikes. And second, Michael and Marla Emde are promoting many of this season's cross races. Want more info? Read below.

Good luck!

Inland NW Cyclocross Series event kicks off season at Valley Mission Park on Sunday
First of nine races in the Inland NW Series with a course favorite in the Spokane Valley.

(Spokane, WA) Valley Mission Park in the Spokane Valley will host the Inland Northwest’s top cyclocross racers this Sunday with the first race of nine in the Inland NW Cyclocross Series on October 3, 2010. The Valley Mission Park venue features a classic ‘cross course with varied terrain such as grass, sand, elevation, and pavement as well as being a very spectator friendly course. “This course has been a favorite of the riders over the years and are excited to be back at Valley Mission after taking a hiatus from this course for a couple of years”, said Marla Emde, co-promoter of the race.

“We are expecting 150-200 cyclocross racers this year and we’ve seen the numbers grow steadily the last couple of years. Cyclocross is the fastest growing discipline of USA Cycling and we are starting to see the excitement here in the Inland Northwest”, says Emde. The series also features the second annual Bike Expo on October 10th at the Riverside State Park venue featuring a “bike car” from Pullman, local area bike shops and industry vendors will be showing their wares from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Cities hosting races within this series include Coeur d’Alene, Walla Walla, Ephrata, Moscow and Liberty Lake. This year marks the 11th year of the Inland NW Cyclocross Series in the Inland Northwest.

Competitors in the Inland NW Cyclocross Series compete for prizes and prize money given at the series final on November 21st. Registration is on race day only and athletes must be members of USA Cycling or may purchase one day licenses at registration for an additional $10.00. For more Inland NW Cyclocross Series information and future results, please visit

Schedule of Events for Sunday October 3rd:

11:30 am – Master Men 40+, Master Men 50+ (all categories)

12:30 pm – Mountain Bike Men and Women, Cat 4 Women, Junior Men and Women (all categories)

1:15 pm – Women Cat 1-2-3 and Cat 4 Men

2:15 pm – Men Cat 1-2-3

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, improving quality of life, and bringing prominence and recognition to the Inland Northwest. For more information, please visit our website