Friday, May 27, 2011

A Short Film Worth Watching

Normally I don't prescribe to some what pretentious things. I also realize that this sort of thing is ultimately made to show and advertise their clothing. But I must say that regardless of all those things. It is a lovely film to watch. It wakes the explorer. The inner cyclist in us all. The link is here~

Thanks Matt for showing it to me.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Some Actual Racing This Weekend

I will be heading out to a race over in Bend tomorrow. The Bend Don't Brake road race. A course perfectly suitable for a fella of my *ahem* dimensions. Almost completely flat with a lot of 90 degree corners. And no, it's not a crit (Smart ass.). It's a 50 miler. Which I haven't done in a while so this should be interesting. Not to mention its at 3700 feet. Which I'm hoping won't effect me to much. But only time will tell.

I'll do my level best to actually take some photos this time. I know I've been pretty bad about that lately. I apologize and beg your forgiveness...

I was sort of hoping to stay over there and do the Bend Criterium which was scheduled for Sunday. But a two fold problem has occurred.

First, one of my boy's is doing his first downhill mountain bike race on Sunday. The Black Rock Flow Cup race. Which of course I want to see.  Not only to see him tear down the mountain at break neck speeds. But also to catch his mom when she faints from the stress of seeing her "little boy" flying down the hill at said speeds. I'm sure she will be heavily sedated. But I don't know if that will do much good. Only time will tell...

Second, the Bend Crit appears to have been cancelled within the last week. Perhaps they heard about my scheduling problems and just decided to say, "Screw it." Which I appreciate their sensitivity to my needs. But it's really not necessary. Honest.

 I will have pictures from Sunday. And with a little luck I may even have some kick ass video footage. Where I can use my Orson Wells like cinematic skills...

Don't be jealous. It's not becoming.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hamilton's Confession

Before I get into today's post I just wanted to take a minute to talk about a really bad crash here in Salem that happened last night. It was within the fast group of the Scott's ride. From eye witness accounts  a large portion of the group went down at 28+ mph. There was a lot of broken equipment, bangs, and bruises. Two people went to the hospital. One came out pretty banged up but "okay". The other did not. He is laying unconscious (Induced coma) in the ICU. With a hemorrhage in his brain and Lord only knows what else. The doctor's are optimistic about his recovery thank goodness. But it's still very scary. It makes us all stop and take pause on how much we really rely on each other when we ride in a group. Not only for our own safety but also during an emergency. So thank you to all the people who helped out on the road, the medical staff, and the social networking grape vine that keeps us all informed. I wish for him a speedy and complete recovery. Thanks. Now on to the fun at hand.  

It's taken me a few days to kind of wrap my head around all the doping related news that's been going on lately. As I'm sure most of you know that are interested in cycling Tyler Hamilton had an interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday. You can watch the whole thing here. I'm not going to rehash all that was stated. Most of it is old news to people involved in the sport. But there were several new nuggets of very relevant information put out in the piece that I'd like to discuss. Along with a whole host of other things that have been flying around. So please bare with me while I trudge through all of it.

First, I want to thank and compliment Tyler for coming out and saying what he said. It took a lot of guts. Regardless of his motives for doing so now. I'm sure that he would rather not have come out with anything at all. What on earth did he have to gain by coming out now? Other than appearing to be as transparent as possible. And considering all that he could lose and has lost. It was an impressive display. Having him confess to his own doping practices after all this time must have been extremely difficult. I mean he just told his family several days before the interview. It had to be horrible.

Second, the biggest things I got out of the interview, aside from Tyler's own confession. Is that he corroborates almost verbatim with Floyd Landis's story about Lance's and the team's doping practices. Even though they are coming at it from different angles there are far to many similarities to be ignored. It's either a really great case of matching up each other's stories or the truth.  And considering the amount of smoke that's been around this fire. I tend to believe the latter.

I've often thought that even though both Floyd and Tyler have come out with their versions of the truth. That it was going to take a person(s) who has never been busted for doping to corroborate their stories to help seal the deal. At the minimum in the publics eyes and the maximum to the court's. And that's where both Frankie Andreu and George Hincapie come into play.

Frankie confessed to his own EPO use several years ago and it caused a small ripple in a very big pond. Which is unfortunate.  Because the fact that his story meshes with Tyler and has testified in the past to Armtrong's drug use makes him seem like he is an important piece to this very complex puzzle. He, just like Tyler, and Floyd has nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward. And Lance can't take the same tack with Frankie as  he did with Tyler and Floyd (Even though he's trying.). He's not coming out with a book. He's not trying to get his name in the lime light for any reason. If anything it could hurt him. He was released from his contract with Versus as a commentator 2 months ago. There isn't any direct evidence that his talks with reporters had anything to do with the dismissal. But it does make me take pause and wonder if that wasn't part of the reason. Much like the whole Lemond vs. Trek debacle. Frankie may just be a little to hot to handle by Versus.

George is a different matter. It would be extremely difficult to discredit him. He's neither tested positive or ever come out and said anything negative about Lance or Postal. But just like all the other Americans who have been subpoenaed to testify behind closed doors (And I think there are quite a few more who haven't been talked about.). It's one thing to have your job taken away for a time by the UCI. It's another deal entirely to do jail time in a "do you in the butt" federal prison. So with that motivation in hand I think a lot of guys are choosing to tell the truth and not commit purgery.

A fact I think that we as cyclist get caught up in is the unethical use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). More than likely not one of these cyclist will see jail time because of their use of PEDs. It will be if they lie in a court of law. Much like Marion Jones or what's going on right now with Barry Bonds (Which may be a really good yard stick to see what happens with Lance.). It's not the drug taking. The Feds don't give a shit about that. What they care about is the manufacture, distribution and administering of drugs in an illegal manner. That's what is going to get some peoples tail in a ringer. And it won't be the riders (At least not with the federal government.), it will be the owners, management and doctors that have their head on the chopping block.

That's another bombshell that Tyler Hamilton dropped. Not only did he physically see Lance dope. But he also saw the distribution of doping products to different members of the team. Even before Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel joined Postal. That's going to implicate a lot more people in this investigation. There's not only going to be the owner of Postal, Tom Weisel. But the directors and doctors on staff as well. This rabbit hole could go really deep.

My head is spinning....

And there hasn't really been any mention of any of the "other" people who have had to testify. I think Lance is whistling dixie if he thinks all the Americans don't roll over on him to keep out of jail.

In my head I can see Lance's thinking that he could be open with the guys that are using too. They have dirt on each other. But once the use of government money comes into play it's a whole new ball game.

Even still. I bet it will be quite awhile before this thing finally comes to an end. Take Bond's again as an example. How long ago did all that crap happen!? So everyone might as well get real comfortable. Because I can tell you form experience. That nothing with government goes quickly.

There's a lot more. But my brain is about to fry. And I kind of wonder if anyone has actually made it this far in the post. Kudos to you if you did.  I may jump in and out of this subject in the future. Once something new comes up. Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down (please),

Big E

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Great Win By A Great Guy

Chris Horner (RadioShack) salutes as he crosses the finish line at the top of Sierra Road

Yesterday at the Amgen Tour of California Chris Horner won a stage up Sierra Road in impressive fashion. It was obvious that Team Radio Shack had their eye on the prize the whole day because they had guys at the front pretty much the entire race. And when Chris decided to go initially only Levi could stay with him. But Chris went again to dislodge Ryder Hesjedal (Who was the lone breakaway up the road.) and then even Levi couldn't hang on.

What I think maybe the most impressive part is that I don't think Horner sat down for more than 30 seconds that entire climb. Every time I looked he was stamping out a very purposeful rhythm that no one else could touch. By the time he reached the finish line and gave his signature salute he left a trail of decimated riders in his wake all the way up the mountain.

Horner dances to the top.

 He now leads the Tour of Cali by more than a minute. Which I don't think he'll have a hard time hanging on to. Barring some sort of accident or mechanical (Knock on wood.) I've heard a few people say that they think he will lose big time in the time trial. But I don't think so. At least not to the GC contenders.

I just loved his post race comments. I was so happy to see how quickly he thanked his teammates. And not just in a blanket statement either. He took the time to describe what each one of them did and how it helped. That's got to make those guys feel good. That their efforts were recognized in front of everybody. When push comes to shove. People are always going to try harder for someone they like/respect.

Another thing I have always found so refreshing about Chris is he will tell you how he sees it. Good or bad. And with that comes what some describe as cockiness or arrogance. But I don't think it is. In the past I've heard him say some real self deprecating stuff because it was true at the time. He never pulls punches. Which is probably why he's a favorite amongst the media to get a quote. Because he'll tell it like it is.

But once it was over and the rumblings on social media sights started to erupt. I was surprised to see quite a few people making disparaging remarks about Chris. A few were obvious. 

Things about his age. He's nearly 40 years old. Which in the pro ranks is pretty damn ancient. I think Jens Voigt is the only rider at the AToC that's older.  But the in this day and age I think all athletes are staying competitive longer.

Another was him beating Andy Schleck. But when you consider the time of year it makes more sense. Andy has a little over a month before he wants to be in top form. And Chris has always been a great climber. It's just no one bothered to pay attention to him as he has been toiling away as a domestique in the European peloton for the later half of his career. But I remember a few Tour de France's where he would be the last guy standing next to Cadel Evans when he was on Lotto. Or be working away for Contador or Lance on Astana or Radio Shack in the big mountains. Lets not forget either that for the first portion of his career he was THE dominant domestic pro. He won everything.   Quite often in impressive fashion. So to me that just doesn't hold water.

Giving a fallen cyclist a ride in the Mt Hood stage race a couple of years ago. Class act.

Another remark which I think is just a bunch of bullshit is that he's on the hot sauce. I mean "Uncle Pat" and the UCI told me that Chris is a clean rider when he gave him a zero on his list. So it must be true right!? Seriously though, I would be floored if Horner ever popped for a banned substance. He's been in the game far to long to not have had something come up on him in that amount of time. I mean 16 years as a pro and not one peep or red flag. I just don't see it happening now.

So congrats Chris! Great job. I'm excited to see what happens with the rest of the AToC and for the rest of the season for that matter. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as either the outright leader at the Tour de France. Or at the very least a protested rider. I guess we will see. There's a lot of racing between now and July. But it wouldn't shock me to see 'The Redneck' do it.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Am A Solar Powered Cyclist

Today is a beautiful spring day. I think the first day of the year when I was fully sweating at work.  And with that work all I could think about was not being there. I want to be somewhere else. Some where fun. Some place that I can enjoy this sunshine. Which will most certainly go back to rain the minute I blink my eyes. I need to be on my bicycle!

A place where I can contemplate the world and my place in it. All the things that have happened lately. And all the things that are certainly going to come. To enjoy the moment. Be part of it as it passes through me.

To feel the sun on my neck. The breeze on face. And the whirring sound of my tires on hot tarmac. To notice nature and appreciate what in the here and now.

I always thought of myself as an year around cyclist. And I am. But as long, cool and wet as this winter/spring has been. I have suddenly discovered how badly I need the sunshine. To let that vitamin D soak into my bones and feel its rejuvenating power.

I am a solar powered cyclist...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My New TT Bike

What do you think?

I feel like I need to work on my position. Just seems a little upright....

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Fitting Tribute To a Fallen Comrade

Leopard Trek was allowed to cross the line first in memory of their fallen teammate Wouter Weylandt.
I think that says it all...

Rubber side down,
Big E

Monday, May 9, 2011

We Lost A Cyclist In The Giro Today.

Stage winner Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) on the podium.
Wouter Weylandt on a much happier day. Winning Stage 3 of the Giro last year.

Today I was going to write. A funny (At least I hoped so.) post about Mark Cavendish being a big baby. And the tantrum he pulled after the sprint with Alessandro Petacchi in Stage 2 of the Giro. Afterward Mark went on to talk about how he wasn't mad at Ale Jet but at the organizers. Blah, blah, blah. It doesn't really matter...

What does matter is that cycling lost a young talent today. A good racer who has family and friend's that will miss him dearly.

No one should die because of a sport. Even if it is something we dearly love.

Life is fragile. We all know that. We all also never know when our time is up.

Part of the reason I ride a bike is because it makes me feel alive. It makes me focus on that one moment. And appreciate it for what it is. A concentration in what is happening to mind, body, and soul all at the same time. In real time.  It's one of the greatest gifts of clarity that I have ever experienced. And part of that beauty is that you can re-create it over and over again with every ride.

There is of course a darker side to that feeling, to that process. It's also part of the reason that it happens in the first place. Danger. Once you've clicked into that pedals and hopped on the saddle. You know there is a chance you could get hurt or worse. And in a moment like this the worst is realized.

Thankfully (Amazingly) we don't see to many deaths in professional cycling. Considering all the hair raising descents that these guy's do. And all the horrific crashes that happen. It really is a miracle that it's not common place (I think about that when I'm driving in my car too. It's really impressive there aren't more accidents.). But unfortunately it does happen sometimes.

So please lets take a minute to be thankful for what we have. The road, the trail, the fresh air, the breath in our lungs, the breeze at our backs, the sweat on our brow and the sun on our faces.

May God be with you Wouter, and may he comfort those that you left behind.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Giro d'Italia Is Here! The Giro d'Italia Is Here!

As a Merican I always think about Andy Hampsten during the Giro. The only American to win it. This is him on the Gavia Pass. Sealing the deal for his victory.

The Giro is here! I am so excited I could pee (Yes, I have a bladder like a 5 year old girl. Shut up!). The Giro d'Italia is my favorite race of the year. Even more so than the tour. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there right now saying, "What!? What!? What!?"

But the fact is that the Giro just has more of everything that I love about cycling. Drama, BEAUTIFUL scenery, good ol' fashioned Italian passion, crazy hard stages, a huge handful of the world's best cyclist, hot podium girls (Did I say that out loud?) and history. What else could you possibly ask for?

 I know that a lot of people out there prefer the tour. And for sure there is more prestige and attention thrown it's way. Winning a stage there will make your career. Winning a stage at the Giro will make your next season or two. But if I was a pro and a stage racer. The answer from my heart on which of the two tour's I would rather win? I would say the Giro every time.  And this years race doesn't look like it will disappoint.

Cadel in the world champion stripes and Vino looking like he's about ready to pass out. Beautiful!

They route of the race is one of the craziest of any grand tour that I've seen in a while. From the opening team time trial to stage elevation charts that look like a saw blade. 7 (!) mountain top finishes. As well as 2 individual time trials. This thing is going to be a true sight to behold. They even go back to the 'strada bianchi' dirt roads. Which, in my opinion was the best day of racing all year long last year. Truly epic stuff.

Contador is back this year and says he's hungry for a win. Which I fully believe. Because quite frankly with all this Clenbuterol/UCI crap going on I think he knows his chances of riding the tour this year are a 50/50 shot. Don't you just love how the UCI waits until right before the tour starts to have a verdict? That's just total coincidence right? Pfff... Ass hats.

2009 winner Denis Menchov is back and because of a snub from ASO in the Tour de France team selection he'll get a nice break from racing in July. So you better believe he's coming to play.  He can't answer the hard attacks on the climbs. But he can motor up them pretty damn well and he's a good time trialist. So I would fully expect the "Silent Assassin" to podium. And if someone else screws up he very well could take it.

Vincenzo Nibali is the guy that I think has the potential (At least on paper.) to de-throne Contador from the top spot. He has an exceptionally strong team. Which with the opening team time trial could come into play. He's probably one of the few riders who could answer a hard attack on a steep mountain ascent.  He also is the lone leader of the Liquigas team. With Ivan Basso opting out of defending his title in order to have a better shot at the Tour de France.  And Nibali having won the Vuelta last year, along with a pretty string of showings in the races coming up to the Giro. Makes me think he has a good shot. They only thing that makes me hesitate completely is that Alberto is a much better against the clock. And with two individual time trials in this years race. I'm not sure that he can best the Spaniard.  But we shall see...

This is going to be AWESOME!

More poor wife is going to be a Giro widow for the next three weeks. Thank goodness she's understanding. Because I'm going to be glued to the computer screen (We don't get Universal Sports. Grrr. Stupid directv.) every chance I get!

It's time to kick the tires and light the fires big daddy!


Big E

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monster Cookie Part 2: The Fred's Are Everywhere!

Neon green as far as the eyes could see.
So like I alluded to in yesterday's post I have a few elitist observations about yesterdays Monster Cookie ride.

The first one is the huge variation and uses for neon green/yellow. I had no idea that you could make jackets, jerseys, tights, gloves, booties , wrist and arm bands, helmet covers, and adult diapers out of this truly versatile material. I have never seen so much neon (Outside of a strip joint in Vegas) in my life. It was like waves of it. I felt like I could body surf on the stuff as we floated down the road. Cascading into a sea of frothy neon green. Truly a sight to behold. Please don't get me wrong. I'm all for safety. I just don't subscribe to the "Caution Flagger Ahead" fashion sense. That's all.

That being said I probably couldn't attempted my body surfing because they surely would have seen me with all the rear view mirrors. I shit you not. I saw one guy with one on his helmet, one on each side of his handle bars as well as one on the left bar end. An awe inspiring sight. So long as you weren't blinded by the reflection of the sun beaming square into your eyes. A singed cornea is no joke. And as my Momma always said. It's all fun and games until someone looses and eye. Or a testicle....

But I think the most interesting thing that I noticed was a tremendous resurgence in the use of fanny packs. It seems fanny packs are the new camelbaks

I saw a ton of them out there. I guess everyone else was having the same dilemma as I was yesterday on what to do with all the extra clothing that you peal off as the temperature starts to rise.  Lord knows you can't use your pockets. That's just crazy talk.

The old way was to ride around with a camelbak filled with all your assorted sundries and nick knacks.  But as with all things with in the cycling fashion elite its fallen out of favor this year (They were soooo 2010.). And has been replaced with the ever so much more hip fanny pack. I mean how can you argue with this~

I feel more awesome just looking at it.

I always see other caring devices too. Like people riding with humongous saddle bags. Or a handle bar bag. Or even a set of panniers. Although I don't understand what on earth people would need to carry on a fully supported ride that's 62 mile long. Lets do some math here.  If you were absolutely creeping along at 10 mph it still would only take you 6 hours to complete the whole thing. With three stops evenly distributed along the ride. That would be no more than 2 hours between stops. Unless you have a full change of clothes, a vat of chamois cream, a bottle of wine, (Or beer. Mmmm, beer...) a spare set of rear view mirrors ( You never know when one could accidentally fall off.) and a roasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings. I really don't think any of these cavernous bags are necessary.

But what the hell do I know. People seem to need them. I see them on every event ride I've ever written. I wonder what they know that I don't? Hmmm. This may require more research. Until next time...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a Lovely Day For a Bike Ride: The Monster Cookie

All the photos were taken by Martin or his Daughter. Thanks Martin! They are awesome!

It was a glorious day, with glorious people.

This last Sunday was the Monster Cookie put on by the Salem Bicycle Club. It's a local "event ride" here in the Salem area and most everyone (Cyclist's) comes out to do it.

All pending on the weather of course. It's kind of the inside joke. That they have a ton of people take the wait and see approach with this ride just because of the time of year. It could be awesome. Or it could be miserable. Although I must say that within the last few years anyway it been pretty darn nice. But yesterday I don't think you could have cherry picked a nicer day. Hardly any wind. The sun was out.

The pace was great. We kept it in the 17-20 mph for most of the ride. A few guy's started to get frisky towards the end but I think everyone was just so thrilled that we managed to hold the group together for that long they didn't seem to mind. On top of the fact that we had a little bit of a tailwind on the way back that made it all the better. People drilling the group into the ground on previous editions of this ride has been a problem. A few instigators (Myself included.) use to take these rides as an opportunity to kill it. But then it occurred to me "why?".

These event rides are done (generally) in areas that we don't ride regularly. And if the weather is good. Why try and get it over with as quickly as possible? If I wanted to do that there's a whole bunch of races on the OBRA calender that can scratch that itch. Why not just enjoy the new scenery and the great company and make it last a while?  There are lots of people out there that use these rides as a mileage goal or a timed goal and I totally respect that. It's just that I've done a "metric" century (62 miles) and I've done a regular century (100 miles). I've even done a double century (Yup. You math wizards guest it. 200 miles.) a few times . I know I can do it. So why not enjoy the ride for what it is? A good time.

This year started out a little on the cool side (37 degrees Fahrenheit). But ended up being quite warm (65 degrees) for this time of year anyway (Naughty tan line pictures will be out sometime mid season....). So trying to figure out how to dress was a little tricky. Because you still have to carry whatever you bring. And I don't rock a fanny pack (The subject for tomorrow's post.). So it all needed to be able to be stuffed in my pockets. So I went with long fingered gloves, wool socks, knee/arm warmers, hat, short sleeve base layer, bibs, jersey and a wind vest. That set up seemed to work pretty well. I got rid of the vest at the half way mark and rolled down the arm warmers towards the end. This kept from freezing to death at the beginning. But not over heating to much at the end.

Our group was of descent size. With all the usual suspects in attendance.

These guys~

Not these guys~

Which makes it all the sweeter. Because then you don't have that uppity Kevin Spacey always trying to over act everyone else. Or a Baldwin. Need I say more...

Tomorrow I want to talk about a few observations I made during the ride. A warning: I'm going to get all elitist and stuff again.

God, I wish I had remembered my camera!

P.S.~ This is my 2nd Wedding Anniversary. I love you Hollie!

Rubber side down,

Big E