Friday, August 17, 2012

200th Post!

I was perusing my stats page on the blog and noticed that the Vaughters' post was my official 200th post. Wow! Who knew I could blather on about one subject for so long (Except maybe my SSHW.)!? I know by the big guys like; BikeSnobNYC, Fat Cyclist and the incontrovertible Team Dicky that what I have done is a small drop in the proverbial bucket. But I'm still here and having a good time. So here is to at least 200 more!
Cheers everybody!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jonathan Vaughters' Article

Jonathan Vaughters Director Jonathan Vaughters of the Team Garmin Cervelo looks on at the start of stage one of the 2011 AMGEN Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe is delayed because of snow on May 15, 2011 in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Earlier this week Jonathan Vaughters "came out" to the general public and confessed to having doped during his career as a professional racer. It's taken me a little while to process what he had to say. But I feel like there are definitely some worth while thoughts and ideas to discuss. You can read the article here.

To someone who has had an interest in pro cycling and doping for any length of time this confession isn't terribly surprising. There have been hints by Vaughters throughout the years. As well as the infamous instant message conversation between Jonathan and Frankie Andreu. So the writing was on the wall.

All that being said, and I don't care who you are. To come out and directly confess to the public that you doped shows a lot of moxie, it takes sand. So some deserved kudos to him for that.

But I also wonder why he chose now to confess? What made this the time to proceed? I can understand someones need to clear their conscience, but it seems like an odd time to do it. Since he hasn't been a pro racer in almost a decade. He still has a vital role within cycling as the director for a Pro Tour level team (Garmin). As well as a major voice and an influence of new riders coming up through the ranks. But there still seems to be an air of this being self serving. Weather it's a pro-active strike on some larger news coming down the pike. Perhaps the Armstrong case or maybe even Tyler Hamilton's book coming out in a month. Or maybe it's something else. I don't know. After a while it's hard not to be a little jaded...

I'm always interested in the human condition and our incessant need to rationalized what we do. If we do something wrong. We try and give ourselves a set of reasons why we chose what we chose or did what we did. In my mind its a kind of survival technique... For a lot of us, if we really looked at what we have done or said in an objective way it would be hard to live with ourselves and our choices. Before you start pointing fingers at me please, don't get me wrong. I'm not putting myself on a different plain. I make selfish choices all the time. Just like everyone else. Sometimes I regret them (Most of the time.) other times I don't. But to see Vaughters' own rationalization of being ambitious and destined  or wanting it to be a level playing field doesn't hold much water for me. We all feel like we are the exception to the rule. We all feel like we deserve the special treatment because our circumstances are "different". But the reality is that there is always a choice. Maybe the right choice isn't easy. But the right way is rarely the easy way.

He does touch on some of his moral dilemma when he discusses it eating him up inside with guilt. Predicating his eventual leaving of the professional ranks. Which is a good thing (The guilt, not the leaving). It shows that he has scruples... At least to a certain extent.

I do wish he would have been a little more specific in his details. I know the article was written for a New York Times audience and not the hardened cycling fan. But surely there is a lot more detail in the who's, the how's and whys of his doping. As a fan and a person who really wants to see this sport get it's act together. I think having a seemingly real leader within the sport put his head on the chopping block for everyone to see with no fear would be what a real leader and a truly penitent man would do. At least in my mind. To help the anti-doping efforts that are going on right now. I'm sure there are a lot of those same people and mentalities in the sport today.  Or maybe I've just been watching Braveheart to much...

The part where he talks about his team and taking doping completely out of the equation for them is something that in my mind is just towing the company line. It's something that he has talked about many times before. Again, perhaps its because of the audience. But it certainly isn't anything new since the teams inception.

Also making it okay for his racers not to win seems a touch hypocritical. If that were the case he would have the same guys riding now as when he started. Teams are there because of sponsors. Sponsors are there to have their brand shown not only in front of the crowd as the peloton rolls by. But also in TV coverage, news papers and magazines. You don't get seen in those medias without winning. So I'm not completely buying that portion of his propaganda.

I generally really like Jonathan. He's a very colorful character in our sport. I think he's a very good director and a nice guy. He's made himself very available to the cycling fans via Twitter. He answers questions more openly and honestly than just about anyone else within the sport. Which makes it really hard not to be biased towards him.

I hope that his confession was just a plight of conscience and not a posturing for something yet to come.

I guess we will find out in due time... 

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Sweet Video From Short Track!

I wanted to share this awesome video from the Salem Short Track Race Series here in town. Kenji did a fantastic job! He used an RC helicopter with a GoPro attached to it to get the footage. To cool! Hope you enjoy it!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Aftermath...

Photo credits:Thomas and Adam

When last we left our intrepid hero...

Just kidding. Even though I do have an ego as big as the all outdoors I figured I'd talk about what happened after the win on Monday and what went on during the crit race on Tuesday.

Jarod and Dave going at it.
 I'd love to say it was all riding unicorns and farting rainbows but the fact is that it wasn't. I got peer pressured by Graham and PJ into doing the Cat 2 race right after the Cat 3 race that I won (Did I mention that I won? I did? Oh, okay... Just checking.) Needless to say that didn't go so well. I didn't get lapped by my field. But I was lapped by almost the entire single speed category. Bottom line is that I didn't have anything left in the tank. I actually did pretty well in the hole shot but was quickly passed by just about everyone in the next couple of laps.

Cletus not crashing...

Once the final guy (Or who I thought was the final guy...) passed me I thought I could hold his wheel. But my goose was cooked. I just did my level best to keep pressure on the pedals and take the technical parts of the course as quickly as I could in the hopes that it would be over soon. But the Cat 2 race being 10 minutes longer than my first race made it very long.

Graham-a working it.

My back was screaming at me by the end. Like a lot of off road courses there were sections as bumpy as a Tijuana hookers mattress. I was getting fuzzy around the edges enough the last two laps that I started to take stupid lines and damn near wrecked. But eventually there was the sweet relief that only death (Or the end of the race.) could bring.

B checking out Cletus. For what none of us are sure...

I was completely spent. Still quite euphoric. But spent.

Fast forward to the Tuesday Twilight Crit series down in Eugene.

I had told Thomas "The Train" that I would go down and race with him. It was one of those decisions that had I told just about anyone else that I was going to do it I would have backed out. But since I had bailed on him the week before I figured I  owed it to him and myself to at least give it a swing.

We got down there pretty early so there was plenty of time for a warm up. I was hoping with a full and proper warm up that my legs would get a chance to loosen up some.

When the race began  I could tell I was in trouble right away. The pace went ballistic instantly. 30+ mph in the tailwind section and 25 mph in the headwind section. These numbers in and of themselves I like to think I could have handled. But the accelerations out of the corners were absolute killers. I was getting gapped at everyone.

Thomas looked golden. He was 4-6 guys from the front and looked cool as a cucumber. Mean time I'm gnawing on the stem like a puppy with a new chewy toy.

After the first couple of laps there was already a break away formed (About 10 guys.) that were 50 or so meters up the road when we came around a corner and a fucking duck (Only in Eugene...) was crossing the road! The front two or three guys in our group grenaded their brakes trying not to hit the thing. And that was she all wrote. The break had a solid 100 meters on us by the time we reorganized and I could feel it in the group that there were only a couple of people that were motivated to chase them down. The rest of us had guys up the road in the break. Myself included. And I wasn't going to help them chase down Thomas's chances.

But even with just two or three guys was more than I could handle when they were trying to close the gap down. I kept hoping they would ease off and I might get a little bit of a break. But it wasn't meant to be. After only a few more laps I slid off the back of the group with my head hung low.

I was surprised at how quickly I started to feel better and by the time the group came back around I hopped back in (To what was left of the peloton. Not the break.) and just tried to salvage some type of a workout.

With only a couple laps to go it was very evident that Thomas's group was going to stay away and had there been a few more laps I bet they would have lapped the field. Thomas ended up 4th and I ended up DFL. But that's okay. It was still a lot of fun.

Now for a few days off the bike (Or at least super easy.).

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just Go Hard Out Of The Gate...

"Just go hard out of the gate..."

That was really the only thing that I was telling myself before the race last night.  Feeling like a complete idiot with my start the week before. I wanted to make sure I had learned my lesson. So I figured regardless of what else happened in the race I was going to put it at just sub-puke for the first lap and a half at least and whatever happened after that, happened.

And I won...

I'm still a little surprised by that. I haven't won a sanctioned bike race since I was 13 or 14. And even then it was what they use to call a "citizen's race". One that you didn't have to have a racing licence to participate in. Just a bike and a helmet. There were probably less than 10 people in it. But I got a little ribbon (Which I held onto for a long time.) for it. But that was my only real proof. My parent's weren't there, I'd don't think any of my friend's were there. I just got on it and went as fast as I could for the two laps (I think...)  and no one ever came around me. Unlike the next race I did when J pimped me at the line for a podium spot... The bastard.

Anyway, it felt very surreal. Once I was in the lead (Which took about a lap.) all I could think about was the course and what lines to take. Every time the course turned back on itself I would steal a glimpse to see where the other racers were. They were close. But with the exception of one guy who tried to pass with three laps to go on the toughest corner on the course and wiped out I had clean wheels the whole time.

It's a position I haven't been in many times. It felt good. Great even. But it brought on all kinds of thoughts. Weather I was going fast enough, if I could maintain it to the end. Not fucking up on a tricky part of the course. Just ton's of stuff spinning through my brain.

Next thing I knew I heard the final lap bell ring out and I knew I was going to be able to pull it off. It was almost out of body. Please don't get me wrong. I know it's just a little amateur race in Salem, Or.

But it means a lot.

Thank you to everyone for the cheering and congratulations.

That means a lot too...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, August 2, 2012

National IPA Day!

You may be asking yourself, "Self. Why is there beer reviews on a cycling blog? Has Big E finally gone around the bend!?"  To answer your question (And it was kind mean. Just sayin'...). No.  But to further extrapolate. Beer is to a Northwest cyclist like wine is to a French one. Or perhaps how beer is also to our Scottish, Irish and Belgium brethren.  It's right up there with espresso (One for before and one for after.)  And because India Pale Ale (IPA) happens to be my favorite type of beer and it's my blog and I can do what I want. I figured I would stand upon my rather small apple crate and shout to the world.

I love IPA!!!!

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system I think I'll throw out there a hand full of my favorites. Just for shits and giggles...

Easily my go to IPA. Very bitter (102 IBU) with lovely floral notes and crisp as a cold stream. Ninkasi also does a lot to support cycling in Oregon. So they are near and dear to my heart. And it's really good too...

HUB Hopworks IPA. made in Portland, Or. (Please note the bike chain on the side of the bottle.) has also does a ton for cycling and is one of the few breweries that I can honestly say that I like all of their beers. The taste is very clean and not so many hops as to knock you on your ass. There is also an Imperial version that's really good.

Gilgamesh Brewery here in Salem, Or. has the Ridgeway IPA and it's excellent. Go ahead and try it. I'll wait... See, I told you.

The "bargain" priced IPA of the bunch. Quite bitter and super tasty.

Pelican Brewery's India Pelican Ale (See what they did there? Hahaha! Love a good play on words...). Probably one of the more subtle IPA's on this list (Next to HUB). But very fine in it's own right.

Dogfish Head Imperial IPA is a beer a friend turned me on too. It's an imperial so its a little on the sweet side but with a lovely hoppy bite.
Well that should do for right now...

Do yourself a favor. Go out on a lovely bike ride. Come home or go to your favorite watering hole and have a nice cold (Sorry European brethren. Can't get on board with warm beer.) beer tonight. And while you're sipping your favorite brew give a little thanks for where you are and what you have.


Rubber side down,

Big E