Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Inlander Cheers and Jeers

Before I get started on the real topic in the Inlander, I would like to say that I think they should put a warning label on the cover of the Inlander whenever George Nethercutt's column runs. There are some things I expect from the Inlander but Nethercutt's disingenuous and hollow complaints about a lack of bi-partisanship in politics while taking highly partisan below the belt shots at his opponents is NOT what I expect from the Inlander. I get the idea that we should listen to people with opposing viewpoints, but Nethercutt is a lousy standard bearer for this concept. If you know Ted McGregor, please tell him for me. I will just leave those issues with the Nethercutt Early Warning System Alert on the cover in the stand so someone who hates the lame-stream media can pick it up.

Another thing I don't expect from the Inlander is a Cheers & Jeers section devoted to hating on bikes. Here in all of their glory are the comments in this week's edition:

Bicyclers of Spokane
Posted by Wehaa at 04:48 PM on Sat, Jul. 24, 2010
You are not a damn car. The only things that belong on the road are cars, trucks & motorcycles. You idiots have a sidewalk so how about you use it. I get so pissed when you idiots are weaving in and out of lanes like your a f#$kin car. Your holdin up your stupid hand giving us a little fairy gesture. Ummm we have our own lights & signs to worry about, do you really think were gonna go through the hassle of memorizing your gestures? Hell No!!! you dumbasses don't belong in the middle of the road. Get on the damn sidewalks or the next time I see you I'm gonna get right beside you and open my door so you fall on your ass

Same Rules, Same Rights!
Posted by Wehaa at 04:47 PM on Sat, Jul. 24, 2010
Same Rules, Same Rights! Same Rules, Same Rights! Same Rules, Same Rights! This is the mantra that all the whining bicyclist cry when they feel they aren't being respected on the road. Well, if this is your battle cry, perhaps more of you should live what you are saying. First, there are no taxes that are being paid by bicyclists for bicycling. All the bike paths and "accommodations" on the streets were paid for by motorist with their registration fees & gasoline taxes. Second, when you're riding, why is it that I see more than one or two of you riding abreast of one another and running stop signs & red lights? I see the stop sign/red light running actions every day that I am heading to work! One occasion, the same bicyclist ran a stop sign and almost caused an accident, then ran a red light on down the street and almost caused another accident! So, if we're to "share the road" because of your "same rules, same rights", let's make sure that you're at least following the basic traffic laws & oh, quitcherbitchin!

I previously thought that only Fox News made their coin on inflammatory statements, misrepresentations and inaccuracies, but I guess the Inlander wanted some of that heartfelt anger to get some attention. I think it is interesting that both of these comments came from the same person, which you can see in the online version, but that isn't apparent in the print edition.

As for Wehaa, there is a saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln along these lines, "It is better for someone to suspect you are an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I don't think we can have any doubt about Wehaa at this point, who felt fit to display his (you agree this is a "he", right?) ignorance on numerous topics, from the law to taxes. There isn't really a benefit to listing the inaccuracies here, or the obvious points, but it is still aggravating that people are so damn stupid. Let's just hope he keeps his idiocy to the Inlander and not taking it out on riders on the street.

Be safe out there.
Rider Three

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ride of the Week: Rambo Road (the hard way)

A while back, I posted the first of an anticipated "Ride of the Week" series. This might lead some readers to think that a regular, weekly post was implied. And indeed, that was my intention. Now, what's that expression about good intentions?

Rider Three had a nicely written (as usual) post earlier this week about the many things happening in his life. I too can play at that game, but frankly while I might think my life is interesting, I'd be surprised if our dear readers would agree.

So instead I'll give you the short version. Ready? Work has been insanely busy, in the past month I've sold a house, moved into a rental and am about to break ground on a new place, and then there's the occasional time with family and friends and riding.

OK, the litany of excuses is now complete!

Ride of the Week: Rambo Road

In the Spokane area, there are a number of excellent standard rides: Hangman Valley, variations of rides to and from Cheney, like the Betz Road loop I talked about, the Centennial Trial, Four Mounds and more.

Surprisingly, the Rambo Road loop is rarely ridden solo or with groups, at least with the set I, um, roll with. It's surprising because it's a fantastic set of roads: little traffic, nice climbs, even a bit of gravel/dirt roads if you choose to throw it in.

Here's a link to the Garmin file that has all kinds of groovy features. Note: when I did this ride I linked up with Rider 2. We both felt like llama poo on the day, and it's reflected in our average speed, heart rate, etc.

Click for details...

This ride is also really easy to access if you're downtown--it stems right off of the north end of the Centennial Trail. Nice stuff, and closed to traffic.

From there you hang a left at Seven Mile, and begin a nice gradual climb towards Four Mounds. That is until you take a left on Garfield followed by a right onto Lincoln. Things then quickly get interesting.

You might have noticed that part of this post's title is "the hard way." Why? Because Lincoln is hellahard. Not terribly long--maybe 5 minutes--but it's steep at the beginning and gets steeper as you climb. It's a great climb though, and always a good test, or at least a way to make yourself vomit a little bit if you try to keep up with Rider 2.

First Rider 2 showed up in an illegal jersey. Then he made things worse by refusing to shift out of his 19 on the climb. Thanks!

From the top of the climb there's a brief respite, a fast little descent followed by a couple of short power climbs, then a couple of longer slogs after you turn onto Rambo. This is a beautiful part of Spokane, I think. There are a couple of impressive valleys, green fields, and occasionally shady roads.

Eventually you'll loop around on a series of quiet roads, ending up on Trails Road, which is most definitely not quiet. By the standards of other places I've spent time riding in--NY, Seattle, Orange County, Boulder--it's a road with few cars. But in Spokane, it has traffic.

But there's a secret...check out the map, and make your way to Mission Avenue, avoiding Trails. This is an absolutely beautiful section of hardpack dirt and gravel. And I know, not everyone appreciates "vitamin G," but you'll be fine. Really. And your bike--the one with a "stiff bottom bracket, yet vertically compliant, borne from the cobbles of Belgium," will be fine too. (yes, I'm being sarcastic and a hair judgmental, thanks for noticing.)

Rider 2 was so busy doing a Spartacus impression that he didn't notice I stopped to take a picture.

And now, for a highly unscientific set of ratings:

Ride: Rambo Road
Lumpiness Rating: 4/5
Traffic: 2/5
Things I've seen on this ride: Rider 2's shorts, lots of basalt, green fields, a big-ass climb, a casino.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The New Post is Here! The New Post is Here!

You may have noticed that "we" haven't been blogging much. By "we", I of course mean "me" because my lame-ass partners in this venture have abandoned me on the blogging trail like a dehydrated sprinter on a mountain stage. I thought that after they started X-raying bikes for motorized doping that it would be an important step and Rider Two might break his self-imposed exile recognizing this important step in the War on Doping, but no, it wasn't enough apparently.

Don't worry though, I haven't forgotten about you. I will start blogging again at least for a couple of weeks before an extended vacation that includes the Leadville 100. So, what, you ask, have I been doing instead of blogging the way I should? It breaks down into three major categories: 1) Working - I know, not as good as biking but it does still seem occasionally necessary; 2) Watching the Tour de France - those guys are riding 4-6 hours every day on television - the least WE can do is watch it, right?; and 3) Riding my bike - really.

Shall we touch on each of these blog excuses?

Working - Enough said, right? I mean, really. It happens and, at least so far, I haven't discovered a way to avoid it. And it does, on a really regular basis, take up a lot of my day. In fact, if you throw in a wife and kids, the way I have, some would say that is enough, but not for a guy like me. No, I want more. That leads me to -

Tour de France - Longtime readers know that I was following the TdF when it involved waiting for VeloNews to arrive a month after the race, so the fact that there is live coverage every single day is literally a dream come true for me. By the way, I think that "literally" is one of those words that it should be a misdemeanor to misuse. Don't tell me a ride "literally" killed you or that you would "literally" give your right arm for something, because I don't believe you and I probably won't like you afterward. The point is, I can't believe that they cover this race every day. I know that there are stages where "nothing" happens until the end, but I still become absorbed in the teams riding, the competitions within the race and just watching those guys suffer worse than dogs as the race unfolds. I can't help myself and I end up watching hour after hour after hour of it day after day after day. Hell, I personally need a rest day by the time they come along (please notice I didn't say I "literally" need a rest day). Anyway, I love it and it becomes a major focus for 23 days every July.

Riding - Oh yeah, the real reason for this blog and my fascination with the Tour - I like to ride my bike. Also, right now I am in the last block of training for Leadville and I am spending "literally" 18-20 hours per week on my bike this week and last, and 15-18 hours for a number of weeks prior to that.

So, when you add up going to work, which for the sake of discussion let's say is 50 hours a week, watching the Tour de France for 2-3 hours per day or 20+ hours per week, and riding my bike for 15-20 hours per week, that adds up to 90 hours a week. I feel a bit useless since there are another 78 hours a week unaccounted for in this equation, but my wife will tell you I underestimated both work and Tour watching. Add some sleeping, eating, bathing, and whatnot, it becomes a good thing my kids like Phil and Paul, otherwise we wouldn't have seen each other the last few weeks. And, you can see how blogging time took it in the shorts. Or at least it was shorted. Literally.
Rider Three

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery, right?

Functionally guest blogging yesterday, without his knowledge or agreement, was Ben Cooper with little known facts about Jens. Fun, but obviously made up. Also in the fun, but obviously made up, is the ongoing story / worry about Fabian Cancellara using a motor in his bike to produce his awe-inspiring power.

Here is a blog post respectfully copied from the Cozy Beehive, a blog written by a guy dramatically smarter than I am who happens to be an engineer who loves bikes.

If you recall, my analysis of the Cancellara motor story was something like, "Dude, he has been pounding the pedals just like for years? This story is silly."

Here is the Cozy Beehive analysis of the same story. It's about the same, right? And really, rather than reading it here, where the copying didn't bring over the graphs, calculations and charts, just go to the link below and take a look.

The Anatomy Of A Cancellara Attack

So dear readers, quick recap : there's this idea floating around of Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara using an electric motor at the classics. It seems to have originated at the rumor mills of il Italia and a couple of journalists, an ex-pro cyclist and a little known e-bike maker are in the thick of it. Meanwhile, Fabian tossed out a statement today in the press calling hogwash to these claims. Hey, the truth is out there...

Last evening, I spent some time re-watching 2010 Paris Roubaix clips. My focus was upon the attack from Cancellara with 48k to go. To me, there were three segments to this attack :

"..can we dissect this attack and see its parts to get a perspective of what's happening?"

1) At 55K remaining, there were a lead group of 40 favorites at the front. They included Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto) etc.

2) In the next 2 or 3K, the group splintered. Leif Hoste, Björn Leukemans, Frederic Guesdon and Sébastien Hinault pushed to the front.

3) At 49 K to go, Fabian Cancellara surged ahead from the bunch to join the four leaders. In a few seconds, he took one sideways look behind him, saw that the title defender Boonen had decided not to mark him down. Riis, the team manager, radioed to him. "Go". Yup, it was a bad move from the Belgian champion. Fabian was then gone and the rest is history.

The jump Fabian put forth was strong and decisive. To most of us, watching the surge (see video below) may seem almost like, well, like he had a motor somewhere on the bike. How on earth can he pull away so quick, right? Well the Italians asked that hard question and came up with the answer - 'Oh mio dio, he has a motor on his bike!'

But regardless of whether he used a motor or not, can we dissect this attack and see its parts to get a perspective of what's happening? I think we could.

So I used a physics analysis software and some basic physics to get an idea of the speed and acceleration involved in this attack. This may seem pretty ghetto to some of you but perspective is what ultimately matters.


1) First, I downloaded the above video of the action from Youtube. I cut the video segment only to the points of interest, from 2:07 to 2:22 or so. I eventually a few hundred frames at 25 frames/second. I decided a timestep of about 0.03-0.04 seconds would be more than adequate to the capture the stages of the action.

2) I scaled the segment with a known dimension of some entity. That entity was going to be Cancellara's 58cm Specialized bike. I looked up its specs and found out that the wheelbase of the frame is pretty close to 100 cm or 1m. Good enough.

3) I imagined myself seated inside the TV helicopter, shining a path co-ordinate axis down at the action below, somewhere in the middle of the screen. I reckoned that the zoom and pan from the helicopter camera would create complexities, but luckily for me, there was not much. The cameraman in the helicopter had kept his focus remarkably steady on the racers, without much shaking and distraction. There was a bit, but I knew exactly where it was. Then I positioned the axis angle to be somewhat parallel to the direction of motion on the road.

4) I then stuck point mass trackers on Fabian, spectators and motorcycles. These trackers would give me position vs time information of the object as the cross-hairs of the camera sped past them.

I finally had distance vs time plots from objects to plug into MS Excel. Since velocity depends on the observer, and since the observer is in a moving state in a helicopter, any relative motion between the observer and the cyclists is either a surge or a deceleration.

Let's explore the stages of the attack :

A) At what speed was the peloton with favorites moving initially?

Here, helicopter camera was very focused on the action with little shaking. Hence, a spectator appearing and flying out of view may give an indication of the speed of the riders. The position time graph was a straight line. The data was exported in Excel and a "linest" operation on the data yielded a slope, as shown below.

25 mph is not hard to believe.

B) What was the speed of the lead group that surged away?

Here's another spectator! Let's catch him!! So we place a tracker on his bosom.

This is how fast he flies away from the camera. The slope tells me 29mph. Hence, the leaders broke off with an extra 4 mph relative to the peloton.

C) The attack : How fast can Fabian put a 5 second gap on others?


This pic shows a tracker placed on Fabian, and the graph shows his position changing wrt to the origin due to relative motion. This relative motion is the attack!

Fabian was to the right of camera's origin (purple axis) before he attacked. The camera was focused on the lead group and did not follow Cancellara when he attacked due to the "lag" in reaction time from the cameraman. The downward slope on this graph indicates Cancellara moving towards the negative left side of the origin with his surge. In a little over 4 seconds, the brunt of the attack came, when the slope of the graph dips further, indicating acceleration. The area of interest is limited to 12 seconds because the cameraman suddenly finds out what's happening and shifts his focus to Fabian. This is why the red line begins to curve back up again.

So I exported that graph into Excel, inverted the graph so I would get nice positive numbers. Then I cut the graph to the area of interest.

Presto! This shows us that Fabian puts in a 5" gap very quickly. But how quick is "quickly"?

...this gives us an idea of Fabian's relative speed from the camera focus. So what happens in this 5" gap that Fabian puts relative to peloton? In the first 2 seconds, he manages +1.6 mph. In the next half second or so, he increases that to +3.3 mph, which then bumps up to +6.5 mph until at the second before the camera catches up with Fabian, he's riding at an impressive +7.4mph.

Since I wrote before that camera's focus was traveling at 29mph, this means that the Fabian's respective speeds are 30.6 mph (49.2kph), 32.3 mph (52.3kph), 35.5 mph (57kph) and finally 36.4 mph (58.5kph). This corresponds to an acceleration of around 0.7-0.9 m/sec^2. Ordinary cars have an acceleration of 3-4 m/sec^2. Fabian musters close to 25% of a car's acceleration. Vroom!

D) A reality check :

I stuck a tracker on a passing motorcycle as it sped past Cancellara to "get out of the way". Perhaps it was Graham Watson in the back seat as the flashes of a camera went off. Nevertheless, I found it had a relative speed of +25mph from similar analysis. Adding this to Cancellara's speed of 29mph gives a roundabout motorcycle speed of 60mph (96kph). Its believable.

Also, if I were to plug in the speed I obtained and Cancellara's weight and cadence into Analytic Cycling's "Forces on Rider" calculator (with generic parameters), it gives me about 680 Watts of power. Still believable by STATIC riding standards.

But since I said that he's accelerating with 0.9m/s, given a weight total weight of 87kg (80 kg Fabian and 7 kg bike) and a final speed of 16m/s, we should really calculate his power output and crank torque in a dynamic situation. For the crucial 5 seconds of attack time, I calculate all those below.

I assume Fabian was on his 53-11 gear, which I'm sure he could easily pedal.

Onto the propulsive force required.

Work done then becomes :

So what is his power output to accelerate for those first 5 seconds?

Though not very relevant, also notice that this power output equates to a rough 5 sec power to weight ratio of 1200W /80kg = 15 which is nothing out of the ordinary based on a power to weight ratio chart for male cyclists (See Power to Weight Ratio).

Using a stopwatch, I figured Cancellara increased his RPM from his previous 100 to 110 RPM for his attack. The average torque required for this acceleration at the crank is then :

That value is within the realm of competitive cycling. Since I said this is an average, it would be the average of the "sine-curve" of torque on the y-axis and crank angle on the x axis. The crank torque is scaled down at the rear wheel by a factor of the gear ratio, calculated earlier, since it rotates faster.

For readers on both side of the Atlantic Ocean, I put this all together in one table with units :

My sanity check is over. The numbers are believable by DYNAMIC riding standards. Any doubt? Note that some data from the recent Tour of Flanders indicates that he put in 1450 Watts during the attack on the Muur. That number came after a very long day of riding. If he can manage that, he can surely manage 1200 Watts in the initial moments of his breakaway.
This is my two cents.


It is the first 5-10 seconds of an attack that is most crucial and most tricky. Attackers must be able to speed off from an already high pace, and the objective is to dig in to hell, gather the firepower and deliver the maximum blow without suicide.

It is the rapid rate at which Fabian Cancellara increases his speed that is mind boggling to see in the video, even though such speeds are pretty normal for him.

Don't get hung up on the numbers presented here, which is all approximate. But we know from historical data that Fabian is someone who can out-sprint the best by simply staying seated on his saddle, even after 230K of racing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Texas Tail Wind Post about Jens Voigt

If you followed today's stage, and honestly, everyone did, right?, then you saw the Hard Man of Hard Men suffering like a beast to help his team-mate. There can only be one guy at the top of the list of Hard Men and that guy is Jens Voigt. Now sure, you can make an argument for George Hincapie, and I heartily agree his a Hard Man, but none top the ability to turn himself inside out, the ability to work for the good of the team no matter what the circumstance and the reality of almost always sacrificing his own chances at glory for the good of others the way that Jens does.

A guy named Ben Cooper has a blog at I don't know anything about Ben Cooper or his blog, but I do know that he put together a very funny list of "facts" about Jens Voigt. So, thanks to Ben and next time you think "WWJD?", you will know some of the answers to "What Would Jens Do?"

From Little Known Facts about Jens Voigt: For those of you who might not know Jens Voigt — he is arguably the toughest of strongmen of the peloton, known for his long, often successful solo breakaways, yet another of which, at age 36, attacking with 36 km to go, he pulled off the other day to win a stage of the Giro, dropping the likes of world champ Paolo Bettini and Italian superstar Daniele Bennati. He’s also unfailingly cheerful and friendly off the bike, perhaps the most well-liked member of the peloton.

Jens Voigt doesn’t read books. He simply attacks until the books relent and tell him everything he wants to know.

Waldo can’t be found because Jens dropped him on a hill training ride… on K2.

Jens doesn’t spin or mash the pedals… he kicks them into submission.

Jens Voigt puts the “laughter” in “Manslaughter.”

Jens Voigt climbs so well for a big guy because he doesn’t actually climb hills; the hills slink into the earth in fear as they see him approach.

If you are a UCI ProTour rider and you Google “Jens Voigt,” the only result you get is “it’s not to late to take up kickball, Fred.”

Jens was a math prodigy in elementary school, putting “Attack!” in every blank space on all his tests. It would be the wrong answer for everybody else, but Jens is able to solve any problem by attacking.

Jens’ testicles are bald because hair does not grow on a mixture of titanium, brass, steel, and cold, hard granite.

Eddy Merckx was actually a neo-pro at the same time as Jens, but Jens dropped him so hard that he shot backwards in time to the 1960′s, where he became a great champion.

Jens once had a heart attack on the Tourmalet. Jens counterattacked repeatedly until he kicked its ass.

Jack was nimble, Jack was quick… and Jens still drove him to quit racing bikes and become an ice dancing commentator on Lifetime.

If Jens Voigt was a country, his principle exports would be Pain, Suffering, and Agony.

If Jens Voigt was a planet, he’d be the World of Hurt.

Jens Voigt doesn’t know where you live, but he knows exactly where you will die.

Jens Voigt doesn’t have a shadow because he dropped it repeatedly until it retired, climbing into the CSC team car and claiming a stomach ailment.

Jens Voigt once challenged Lance Armstrong to a “who has more testicles” contest. Jens won… by five.

When you open a can of whoop-ass, Jens Voigt jumps out and attacks.

You are what you eat. Jens Voigt eats spring steel for breakfast, fire for lunch, and a mixture of titanium and carbon fiber for dinner. For between-meal snacks he eats men’s souls, and downs it with a tall cool glass of The Milk of Human Suffering.

Jens Voigt believes it’s not butter.

Jens Voigt can eat just one.

The first time man split the atom was when the atom tried to hold Jens Voigt’s wheel, but cracked.

Jens Voigt doesn’t complain about what suffering does to him… but suffering constantly complains about getting picked on by Jens Voigt.

Jens Voigt can start a fire by rubbing two mud puddles together.

Guns kill a couple dozen people every day. Jens Voigt kills 150.

Jens’s tears are so tough they could be the world heavyweight mixed-martial arts champion. Too bad Jens never cries.

Jens Voigt rides so fast during attacks, that he could circle the globe, hold his own wheel, and ride in his own draft. At least as long as he didn’t try to drop himself.

Jens Voigt nullified the periodic table because he doesn’t believe in any element, other than the element of surprise.

The grass is always greener on the other side. Unless Jens Voigt has been riding on the other side in which case it’s white with the salty, dried tears of all the riders whose souls he has crushed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

R. I. P. Lance Armstrong

We witnessed the death of Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong yesterday at the Tour de France.

Hey, wait. Wow, you Livestrong fanatics need to calm down. I wasn't talking literally. Does cancer kill your sense of humor too?

I have watched literally hundreds of hours of Lance Armstrong riding in the Tour de France. Over the course of his seven victories I don't remember him getting a flat tire; I don't remember more than once or twice he didn't have team-mates ready to do exactly the work he needed at the pace HE wanted; and I only remember one other time he hit the ground - the famous climb where a musette bag snagged on his handle and he then got back up (briefly pausing to fall on his top tube - good thing there was only one in the way - tube I mean, what?) and marched away from Jan Ullrich to win yet another Tour.

Today, a different Lance appeared. One that was human, fallible and subject to the whims of fate. This Lance was not the one at the Prologue. That one was doing the mind-f__k to Contador by being 5 seconds ahead of him when he was scheduled to be behind. After that, however, the same thing that happened to lots of great athletes on great teams happened to Lance - he fell victim to bad luck.

Today's second crash (the first one he didn't hit the ground, just road onto the grass and had to hope back onto the road) may have been telling. He clipped a pedal on a curb. Easy to do, right? Happened to lots of us and it has happened too many times to count in the Tour itself. What hasn't happened, however, is that it happened to Lance. In the past, you had the impression that the curb might know better than to get in his way, or that Johan would remind him of a particularly dangerous curb, or that Lance had scouted and memorized the entire route so that he knew to avoid that specific curb. Today - a different story. Maybe Lance was distracted - which didn't happen much in the past. Maybe Lance was tired - another thing that didn't happen much in the past. And maybe it was just a touch of bad luck - which rarely, rarely happened in the past.

One of the things that you get from watching a million miles of bike racing is that luck plays a role very often. There is a saying in cycling (my kids are yelling right now, "You can't win from the front" - even spindly-legged, never-won-a-sprint-in-his-life Schleck proved that Sunday) which is that the strongest rider rarely wins. The romance of Paris-Roubaix is that the strongest rider who doesn't have bad luck does win, but in most every other race, the winner is the one who has the right combination of strength and luck. You have to be in the right position at the right time and not have poorly timed problems.

I don't care what you think of the pharmacology issues, you have to give Lance credit or at least recognize how extraordinary it is for any rider to put together the right combination of luck or lack of bad luck and strength and team-mates and weather and stages and mountain climbing versus time-trialing and everything else to pull off repeated victories in a race as long, complicated and tough as the Tour de France.

And it is that particular version of Lance Armstrong that was put to rest today. I really thought he was going to be right there on the mountain stages right to the point the group got down to the few contenders, but whether or not he came with that fitness (he certainly came with the determination and mental strength), sometimes you have to bow to the fates. It is the problem with being mortal.

Most champions stay around until after they are champions (Favre, Jordan - I'm looking at you), but some handle themselves with class and aplomb as that happens. I hope that Lance proves to be one of those champions, and then while we say goodbye to Lance Version 7.0, we can see what kind of person Lance Version Post 7.0 proves to be.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, may Henri Desgrange bless and keep you, Brother Armstrong, and may your fans and your ego be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen.
Rev. Rider Three

Friday, July 9, 2010

Random Thoughts

Way behind on posting and behind on the Blogger Rules of Conduct mandated "random" postings, so here goes.

Weekly Shop Ride - Two Wheel Transit is now doing a weekly shop ride, so every Thursday someone at the shop will be leading a group ride starting about 5.30 pm. It looks like the route will vary, so if you want the details, give the shop a call at 509-747-2231.

Last Team Two Wheel Shop Ride - Team Two Wheel will continue hosting a monthly shop ride on the first Thursday of the month. Our last ride was on July 1. The weather was a bit threatening all day, but it held off for us to get a nice ride in around the Seven Mile loop. The group was pretty quick this time, although we did wait at a couple of strategic spots to re-group so that everyone was together and, I hope, had a good time. Geoff's participation or lack there-of will get a free blog pass today. No really.

Tour de France - The first seven days have flown by. I mentioned this a bit ago, but I hate to see crashes in bike races. These guys train literally for years and most of the time they crash it is through no fault of their own. Someone crashes or an idiot dog owner causes it, but then a bunch of people pile into the problem with no exit. The racing should really be about the talent, the heart and the pharmacology. I would rather leave crashing out of it.

Lance "Killing Machine" Armstrong - At lot of times, when everything is going well, more things go well. It is a version of the line, "the harder I work, the luckier I get." On the other hand, when things go sideways, they are hard to get back together. Stage 3 was Killing Machine's sideways stage. Just like George Hincapie thinking that he is going to win Paris-Roubaix every year just because he is a monster cyclist totally suited for it and has a team that should pull it off, but somehow it goes pear-shaped on him, the same thing happened to Lance on the cobbles. For Lance, who has had very remarkably few flats during his years in the Tour (generally attributed to properly aged tubular tires), he had a flat at the worst possible time and his team had been decimated by the cobbles. Contador caught the group and then get pulled off the front just as Lance was changing wheels. If you saw Lance, though, the dude has power and I think was looking very, very good. He had a team-mate with him for a while, but then Lance did a Cancellara-style ride to bridge up the group in front of him on his own. I don't think that Lance can't outclimb Contador, but don't discount him at any moment. I think he is stronger than he is letting on right now.

Cavendish - Wish I could be happy when his wheels go as fast as his mouth always does, but I just am not. Can't he just "pretend" to be slightly humble? Where is that English sensibility that most UK citizens show? The last sprinter who went just as fast and had a mouth that wouldn't quit was Mario Cippolini. Cippo thought that every women in the world was in love with his Italian style and speed, but he had a lovable rascal charm about his smarm. Cavendish is fast like no body else, but there is only cockiness behind his brashness.

Pettachi - Wow, the fastest dinosaur spotted in an epoch. He was "the man" a few years ago, and always a sprinter whose head could defeat him more easily than other sprinters, but I would not have guessed he would pop off two wins even with the crashes and injuries around him. Any chance Zabel will take the line and pull off another win (or second place?)

Schleck Brothers - I feel bad for Frank and, since I am assuming Lance can't win an Improbably Eight, I hope Andy beats Contador through team tactics and strong climbing. I don't, however, approve of the Blues Brother inspired saddles they ride. Those two bone-thin Luxembourgians bear no more relationship to the Blues Brothers than a hummingbird does to a side of beef. Seriously.

Cadel Evans - How can a man who sounds so much like Jiminy Cricket be so good at pretending to be a hard man? Don't know, but don't count him out of the race yet. He is not a feather-weight climber, but good on any mid-mountain and can uncork some great time trials. I don't get the sense, thought, that Hincapie and Cadel are on the same team, since they don't mention each other, ride near each other or seem to ever be in the same place at the same time. I would like to know that story a bit better.

Personal Training - Speaking of dinosaurs, why don't my aging legs recover the way they did 50 years ago? It is irritating. Consistent and steady improvement instead of burying myself intermittently? Something to consider. When I get older.

Niner EMD - I rode a Niner EMD (EMD stands for "Eat My Dust", by the way) for less than two seasons and liked the bike a lot. I couldn't help myself when a chance for a Gary Fisher Superfly came along but I recently sold the Niner as even I couldn't justify two 29'r hardtails. I was going to write an ode to the Niner EMD, but the check cleared before I had to go to such lengths to sell it. In this case, I sent it out with Dr. C to ride for the weekend and let him decide whether to buy it. Showing that he is both a reader of this blog and a funny guy, here is an excerpt from his e-mail letting me know that he wanted to take the bike (if you haven't, you should refer back to "Simulating Race Conditions" before reading):

I took the Niner EMD out on the trails of Farragut park a few times this weekend, figuring that would be the best place to test it under simulated race conditions. I performed well on it, in fact so well that if I had been participating in an actual race I'm sure I would have won. Not bad for a guy who had never ridden a mountain bike before. Am I awesome or what? I plan to simulate race conditions on it again later today when I go out to the grocery store to pick up some milk.

Clearly, my Niner EMD is going to a good home. It brings a tear to my eye. The top tube says it all though. Words to live by.

From Misc Bike Pics

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ba-deep, Ba-deep, Ba-deep, beep, beep, beep

We interrupt your regularly scheduled discussion of the 1989 and 1993 World Championships to bring you something slightly more current: the 2010 Tour de France.

Last year this blog largely ignored the 2009 TdF. Sure, we watched it, but we didn't blog about it much so we are endeavoring to correct this oversight in 2010. Now, live blogging is a cheap trick of bloggers who just sit with their computers in front of a television and type up whatever snarky comments come to mind (okay, I admit I like the idea), but this entry will be more re-hash blogging than live. In other words, I watched the coverage and have a few random comments (yes, some are snarky)(can you believe the outfit that wench was wearing?!).

Prologue - Saturday, July 3

Craig Hummer - Really? Man that guy gives me a rash.

Opening of Versus coverage - The coverage started with a long pre-taped piece hyping the EPIC rivalry between Contador and Armstrong. I realize the point to this is to add the drama that Americans apparently require to be interested in any sporting event, but it is a bit absurd to build it up to a Rumble in Rotterdam story.

Bob Roll - Gotta love Bob Roll but he is looking a lot like Uncle Fester these days.

Lance Armstrong - There is a reason that my personal nickname for Armstrong is "Killing Machine". It will be great to see him and his team riding in the North Sea winds and on the cobblestones. I have a hard time really seeing him as a challenger to win, but a) he is very likely to be on the podium again, and b) this is a 3-week bike race and the right combination of circumstances, weather or crashes or whatever, certainly could have him winning number eight.

Time Trials - I am surprised that there is only one time trial in this year's TdF. Probably good for Armstrong, who hasn't looked strong in the TT's this year, but I will miss a second TT and will miss a TTT (Team Time Trial).

Floyd Landis - I assume that at least some of his new accusations are correct and presumably his personal admissions are accurate. It is disappointing. I really wanted to believe that he was clean and he wasn't lying to us or his Mennonite mother. Oh, I also wanted to believe Tyler Hamilton. I'm tired of talking about it.

Rain in the prologue - In a road race everyone has to endure the same conditions. In a TT that is spread out over literally hours, early and late riders can have very different conditions. It's too bad that this wasn't just a straight out drag race that it was supposed to be and instead the rain caused some to crash horribly and others to slow down and not show their best.

Wiggins - What happened to Wiggins? He was supposed to challenge for the win, not be a full minute off the pace on a 10 minute stage!

Cancellara - What a class act. That dude has legs! I can't believe that they scanned bikes for motors, but at least that accusation was clearly put to bed. I wish that Cancellara had won and then cut his bike in half right over the start line. Way too showy for a Swiss, but it would have been hammy and made a point very clearly.

Contador and Armstrong - Wow, is he being "Ullrich'd"? Being Ullrich'd in this case means getting the full mind tricks treatment from the Killing Machine. Lance was great at playing Ullrich like a piano. He built him up and then crashed him to the ground in just the way Armstrong wanted. What if Lance had a bad TT and then decided to pull his punches on a couple of other TT's? And what if he then started feeding the idea that his old legs just couldn't TT anymore? And what if the reality is that his "old" legs are more like the rest of the old legs in the world and they lose their power very slowly but they lose their punch sooner, so that the whole time he was just planning on challenging Contador in the TT's but he doubled the effectiveness of this by screwing with Contador. If Contador put more time into the TT to pick up time there, it has the effect of taking some punch out of his climbing legs, right? So Lance manages to not only mess with Contador's mind, he manages to make him less effective at the same time. Ever hear the term "mind-f__k". And lastly, even if Lance didn't plan it all, what does it say about him that he is such a competitor that we (okay, I) think that he might have. Gotta hand it to the Killing Machine - 5 seconds never meant as much.

Stage One - Sunday, July 4

What! I was promised wind, rain, echelons, some teams taking other teams to the wood shed as they used brute strength to tear the field apart. I want my damn echelons. Instead, we just got a boring pancake flat bunch sprint day. Sure, a breakaway (love the name "Lars Boom") that is caught, a dog in the field causing a crash and a waste of 200+ kilometers of me sitting in front of the television.

By the way, I typed that sentence with about 4 kilometers to go.

A few things happened after that, like Cavendish crashing just under 3 kilometers to go (it looked like it was his fault). Then a massive pile-up involving most of the leaders (no word yet on injuries) and then one final crash taking out Tyler Farrar. I was hoping that he was going to take the day, but it is hard to win when an AG2R bike is stuck hanging off your own bike.

Check the usual suspects, or, for the details, but no one picked Petacchi as the winner today. Wonder what this will mean for the green jersey hunt for Cavendish when Hushvold got 3rd and Farrar at least picked up points (I think).

Personally, I hate seeing crashes in races. Unlike a NASCAR crash where the car takes the punishment and the bodies usually walk away to fight again at the next race (usually), with a bike crash there are always bruises and road rash, but there are also often broken bones and dashed hopes. Even with no apparent injuries, when you hit the deck, your body has to spend some energy repairing the damage and when the difference between achieving glory or being the goat is 1-3%, that has to have an impact.

More later.
Rider Three

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Post - Whodda Thunk?

Yes, we Team Two Wheel riders have been busy lately and things keep interfering with our blog writing. For Rider One, he got lost in a reverie about old single-track and old girlfriends (of friends, of course) and the potent combination of these that created a trail called Stiffenmy Schwing. Hopefully he will come out his reverie and go back to riding and writing soon. For Rider Two, the problem is of a completely different nature. He has made a firm vow to not write a blog until the scourge of drug use is wiped clean from professional sports. As such, you can expect him to write a blog post simultaneous with a supernova of the sun obliterating the planet.

As for me, Rider Three, my reasons for not posting are much more mundane. Sure work and family cause me the same frustration and pain they do every day, but in this case I made a bad decision that would use the 1,441st minute of every day to start a blog post. That reminds me of a joke: there are three kinds of people in the world - those who are good at math and those are not.

So, there is a shop ride today. You should know that and you should have it on your calendar and you should be riding with us today, right? Great. See you there.

But this post is not about riding outside. It is about the 1989 and 1993 World Championships. Actually, and more specifically, it is about the World Cycling Production DVD of each of these races.

A couple of days ago I was beset with a minor bout of insomnia. I woke up about 2.45 am and at 3.20 am I gave up hope of getting back to sleep without some intervening activity. As it was, my Leadville training schedule required a 2.5 hour ride and I knew that I would have a hard time getting in the ride after work (and damnblammnit, I had to go to work again), so I decided to get up and get on my trainer for the ride. The timing worked well for my family, as I was off the trainer around 6 am, when I would normally be padding around the house, smoking my first pipe of the day, putting the dog out, yelling at the birds to be quiet and generally making ready for the day. So yes, I did all of these things, I just did them in sweat-encrusted, drippy clothes.

This reminds me of another joke: there are two kinds of people in the America - those who think it is a good idea to ride a trainer for 2 1/2 hours at 3.30 am and the other 330 million. Maybe that one isn't so funny, but I know a lot of people who HATE riding on a trainer, ever, not just pre-dawn. They might be able to muster 30-45 minutes in the dead of winter, but that is about it. (On the other hand, I do know people who are capable of 6 hours on a trainer, but there is usually medication that helps them.)

To while away the time on the trainer, I watch videotapes (kids, ask grandpa what a video-tape is while we adults talk) and DVDs of bike racing. I have a collection of at least 80 tapes and DVD titles, which is a bit silly, particularly when you consider that some of these items consist of multi-hour video tapes with multiple races and others consist of up to 6 DVDs of a single race (like the Tour de France or Giro - no, I don't own any Vueltas). I have literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of bike races spanning from the 70's up until 2009.

Yesterday I watched the end of a DVD I had started on a prior trainer session, the 2006 Paris-Roubaix (remember Hincapie's steerer tube breaking, followed by his shoulder doing the same? Also, Cancellara's first BIG win, and yes, I am discounting the TdF prologue win in 2004). After that, having most of two hours left, I then put in the 1989 World Championships, which were won by Greg Lemond and after that, the 1993 World Championships won by a very young Lance Armstrong. If you have seen the coverage of these races, you know exactly what I am going to say, right? I mean, can you believe it?

If you haven't watched them, I would encourage all of you to dip into your library of old races and review them again. Then tomorrow we can discuss them, okay?
Rider Three