Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pre-Worlds

The 'Ville is being taken over by cyclocross madness this weekend, with Louisville hosting the Masters Worlds and #Louisville2013 Worlds here at our Eva Bandman cyclocross park. It has all crept up a bit, but once I realized that Sven Nys was in town with his Belgian 'cross posse, I knew game was on and mud was to be had! The local crappy paper rag had a pic of "cyclists" yesterday on the front page, not identifying that it was a contingent of the Belgian nat'l team in all their kitted up glory. (I can't find a link; that's why the paper sucks).

Anyway, I had a little time yesterday so I took the westward loop home on the Troll, under balmy 65F conditions here at the end of January. The poor Euros. They experienced 65F yesterday. Then this morning we had a tornado warning at 4.15 with a nasty batch of straight-line winds, and during the next 3 days we'll have lots of rain, then snow, 25F highs and lows in the teens.  Race-day proper is supposed to be around 40F. I pray, pray, pray that today's rain makes the course un-rideable, especially with some snow thrown in. It is 'cross, you know. I took a few pics of goings-on, but I'll save a larger photo dump at the main events Saturday and Sunday.

For what it's worth, it looked to me like they put every "whoopTdoo" they could find on the course; they used all the gradients. So, now with the rain and potential snow it should be spectacular. And Euro big-wigs are starting to say nice things about how balanced the course is. Great stuff.


Finishing straight down River Rd. You can see the metal framing to the left which will be the finish line. Unless I'm mistaken, they'll finish facing east, in the opposite direction of this; it looked like there was a short grass pitch that would potentially separate racers as they took the hard left onto the pavement. I might be wrong. Louisville is nicely framed in the finish as well. Although you can't see them, there are maybe 15 little mobile cabins down this road, I assume, for corporate sponsors. Looks like a great place to store your beer.


By happenstance, as I rolled up, I ran across new U.S. champ Jonathon Page finishing a little roll-through and beginning an interview with Fox41, the local affiliate where my neighbor is sports director. Page seemed pretty game, but as expected, the questions were inane, "We're clueless Americans. You ride bikes in the snow!?". Standard fare. Page seemed nice. I bade him good luck.


A pic across the course with all the barriers. I like the orange, although it might give the Dutch a leg up. It's more serpentine that previous USGP courses, it seems. The "Focus" fencing is along the two sand sections. That area will be a highlight.

And on my roll home along B'town, I spied three Euro-looking gentlemen with bags in their hands as though they had been shopping and taking things in. They eyed me up on my orange Troll- a transpo cyclist! in the 'Ville!- and I waved. I hope the town shows them a good time. The Worlds weekend schedule should be held for another entry. Wow! There will be a lot going on. I failed to realize that, like the Stuporbowl, there is a race hidden somewhere within all the parties.

The 28 miles on the day felt pretty damn good too.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good

Nothing too amazing but just good steady miles. Saturday Asher, Dave and I met for coffee and then a West Loop swing. Asher and I had fun do some pickmeups along the route, but it was mostly casual. We pulled in to Quill's for a second cup and then continued along River Rd. Dave wasn't feeling it so turned towards the barn while Asher and I did a bit of climbing in Indian Hills, but not much more. It was about as nice as 25F can be.

Yesterday I took a turn with Patrick. He had to leave early due to family business. We met at the Indian Hills  Breadworks, I believe, a first for me. We fought a slight headwind down River Rd., one which had me panting a bit, before hitting the Covered Bridge/Sleepy Hollow loop. Slowly but surely the legs woke up and I found myself enjoying the scenery and my general fitness. That ride ended with a tailwind- finally- run down Westport.

In all, 82 miles over two days made for a well-used weekend. Good.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good day

Yes, it was nice to get out for a ride after several days of sloth. 
Yes, it was nice to be manly and prove my worth to the #bicyclecommutercabal and commute both trips in the mid-20s. 
Yes, I saved the planet from global warning with my lessened fossil fuel usage. 
Yes, it was good to exercise my heart, muscles, and mind.


What was really cool was seeing both the Kingfisher and 'Ol Blue, the Great Blue Heron, along the Beargrass Trail on this breezy wintry day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Videos for your pleasure

And to me, yes, that kind of pleasure, of the two-wheel rolling kind. Rivendell Bicycle Works has informed my cycling now for these past 10 years or so, no, make that 17, if you count the Bridgestone RB-1 purchased used in the mid-'90s. My "RBW-ish-ness" ebbs and flows. I sold the Bleriot to fund the Rawland b/c I perceived the Bleriot TT to be a bit short; I'm pleased with the decision. The QB is still the most balanced, centered bicycle I own. At one point recently I considered selling it but then rode it a few times. No, no way. Not selling it. This RBW video comes from their website. After watching- giiven I/Grant's record of  philosophical grousings- I like the organization more, not less. They seem humble, enthusiastic or passionate, and generally interested in doing what they do well. My fancy bike is an awesome ride, but I have a feeling an Atlantis would be the "bike to rule them all".

 


 Bike experiences of a different iteration. This is a great vid- So Far to Go- of two guys doing the Great Divide, I assume, on some kind of Salsa products. No race. No reward. No prizes. Just two guys doing the Divide. I'm not really sure the Divide is on my bucket list; actually I don't camp all that well. This, though, is inspirational.

 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rolling

Slowly and steadily, progress is creeping in. The weight is down 12lbs from Thanksgiving. I've plateaued a bit; that's fine. The mileage is creeping up. That's really fine.

Yesterday Dave and I met for a morning of rolling, adding up to 43 miles by the end of the day. We visited Iroquois, Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park, Smokey Beans Coffee House in Old Louisville and a few hills to climb on the way home. It was great to take a wandering long day after a series of short "training rides".

Updated Rawland Sogn at Iroquois Park lookout, looking NE towards the 'Ville.

Sogn overlook the problematic Worlds Cyclocross course. There are geese back there if you look closely.

They're supposed to use this run up in a couple weeks. I'm a fan of the island.


This afternoon, though, things are busy and there is a family schedule to follow, so a "training" ride was in order, although I didn't push too much. A big teensF cold front is moving in, so I took advantage of the last of the almost warm-ish weather available, if 38F and windy is warm. Off and on I wondered whether I should stretch out for more miles or more tempo or more hills, but instead I told myself, "Heck No!". It was a nice one hour 

I hope you got out too.


Thoughts on Cycling

Somewhere in the deep recesses of our basement sits a small white, yellow and black cycling cap with 'Renault' on the side and the bill. Honestly I don't remember how I acquired it back in those early '80's, but it is a token of the inception of my affinity and sometimes downright fandom of (racing) cycling. Just as I love riding, commuting, and mixed-terraining now, I've loved all sorts of cycling these many years since I found this Renault-Gitane hat from the early '80's. I know Doug knows, but in case you don't, it is from Greg Lemond's first team, on which he won a world championship and finished on the podium in his first Tour de France in I believe '84. That lead to scouring the newspaper for snippets information from the '86 Tour which Lemond won, and then scouring even more in '87 when Lemond was hurt but Andy Hampsten would make an impact after his 4th place; he didn't make too much of an impact. That led to out-and-out enthusiasm in the late '80's during Lemond's reign. Before his dramatic '89 victory, I had the good fortune of my parents living outside Philadelphia at the time. My dad had some business connections and we were able to watch the '89 Core States Classic, hosted by one of the corporate tents. Greg raced in a Coors Light jersey, as his post-shooting/knee contract led him to a two-bit Belgium team in Europe, but under the Coors Light banner around here. He didn't win (teammate Greg Oravetz did) but it was thrilling to see a Tour WINNER in the flesh. Little did I realize that a month later he would win the most dramatic victory of all. I watched his  '90 Tour win while studying in Spain for the summer. I can remember sitting in the lounge TV room of our hostel watching Lemond and Indurain drop Lejarreta and duke it out up Luz Ardidan, the site of an Indurain victory, one earned while wheel-sucking Lemond the entire climb. An elegant rider, he was, though, to his credit. In Spain, too, I remember coming over the Navacerrada climb from Segovia to Madrid , excited at the hundreds of painted names on the route, all from the recent Vuelta a Espana, at that time a Spring race won by Marco Giovanetti, certainly the highlight of his palmares.

Those Tours created a bit of a demand in the States and soon thereafter, the US media began offering a bit more of a glimpse of Tour stages, as well as the yearly 'Hell of the North' with Paris-Roubaix. Lemond faltered in '91, losing time here and there like a mortal cyclist, but soldiering on to 7th. Age does that. 1992 ushered in a new era of my cycling fandom. The (new) wife and I, young and full of pluck and sans children, began making annual sojourns to see the big boys race in the Tour DuPont, conveniently held along the central East Coast, within a day's drive of Louisville. Most excitingly, we saw Lemond take his final yellow jersey at the top of the Wintergreen climb in VA. Photos of that day include those of two-time winner Laurent Fignon, future two-time world champion Gianni Bugno and wife favorite Phil Anderson of Motorolo. My memory fails a bit, but I think we saw three straight editions of the Tour DuPont, with Lemond, Alcala, and a certain Lance Armstrong winning respectively in '92, '93, and '94. Coming home from one of those editions, we lost an oil plug while descending a huge mountain. To our absurd luck, a state trooper was sitting on the exit ramp and called for help- this in the era sans cell phones, or at least sans cellphone for us. Another '93 trip had me and two friends heading north to outside Bloomington, IN for a NORBA moutain bike race, at the time a significant racing series for the sport that had come to prominence in the states. The course was a soupy mess, but to my delight,  the winner was none other than John Tomac, at the time the star of the circuit in both XC and downhill, and a rider too that spent time in Europe riding roads for Motorola. Who else rode for Motorola? One Lance Armstrong. Lance was a star in the making. His world championship in '93 created THE next American cycling star and provided a softening elixir for US fans given the waning of Lemond. They couldn't be more different, Lemond in general the gentleman, calm, steady (of character), Lance the loudmouth from the South (TX, as it were). I have numerous photos (not yet scanned, to my chagrin) of Lance, George, Frankie, Raul, Phil (Anderson) and the many other American riders of the day, in addition to a certain Gianni Bugno in his Rainbow jersey and me, a goofy-looking American with a cheesy grin. He wasn't smiling, but my wife said we were going to get the picture, and we did.

The Tour DuPont ceased being, and at that point my cycling fandom became one of TV viewing, Pay-per-minute cycling results phone lines during the Spring classics, and god-bless them World Cycling Production videos. It became a early tradition to ask for and receive a highlighted race of the season: '94 Flanders with Bugno, '95 San Sebastian with Armstrong, '96 Fleche-Walloone with Armstrong (sandwiched between two wins by Jalabert, the greatest all-rounder of the day), various Paris-Roubaixs because, well, it is P-R, historic videos of Eddy, L'enfer du Nord-ASunday in Hell, still the best cycling video and one to watch every year. And then in '98 the amazing happened. Armstrong post-cancer finished 4th in the Vuelta and had some encouraging results in the Fall. 1999 brought more encouraging results, and by that time- I believe- the Tour was being broadcast daily, and absurd notion back in '87 when I might or might not find out how Hampsten did in the Tour based on whether he finished top-5 for the little results box. Teaching has its benefits, one of which being the opportunity to watch live Tour stages in the mornings in July. 1999 began it all. Lance's run. USPostal's domination of stage racing rarely- if ever- seen in such a dramatic strength of team-riding force (except that, of course, of the '86 La Vie Claire team of Lemond, Hinault and Hampsten finishing 1,2,4. That was a good team). They looked like Cipollini's train in the last 2k of a sprinters' race, except that they did it day-after-day in the mountains.

I sort of watch the Lance interview p.1, but I also slept through part of it (the early part). My takeaway is that Lance is a narcissist, sociopath, megalomaniac, and highly deluded individual. What needs to be said is that occasionally I've found myself  meeting highly successful people, and also working under bosses whom I would describe comparably. My 2 cents is that highly successful people are are often that: tenacious, driven, focused, bloodthirsty, egotistical. Many aren't. Most are. Perhaps I'm jaded by some life experiences. The second night I found more interesting with the discussion of his family because, personally, I found him to be more real, genuine. Many have asked how much he practiced his acting. I found his demeanor more strained, because the strain of lying to your kids in such a way would be incredible. He is flawed. He is bad. He did cheat. And at the same time, he is a winner. At what price I guess we'll see publicly  and he will have to live with privately. He is the financier caught stealing from the retirement funds, the politician caught taking kickbacks or canoodling with men in the bathroom, the priest(s) caught abusing boys. Liars and Rogues, all.

The 1990s generation of cyclists have diminished my fandom. I watch soccer now to get my Euro fix. Lance and his foolishness ruined the Tour for me, Museeuw the classics, much less the litanies of Rebellin, Di Luca, Contador..Hell, just name an Italian or Spanish cyclist from the '90s/'00s and how can you trust their results? Their hard work, yes. Lance did outwork everyone else. He was more focused, more disciplined, more addicted. In general, though, the sport is sort of gross. I didn't watch much of Wiggens' victory this year. Ironically, I found the racing boring, the cast of characters more "character role" than "protagonist". Where is the drama? And how can you get excited for Boonen's domination, Museeuw's spiritual son, his torch-bearer.

That's where my fandom is, etched along the roads of rural western VA, in the grainy creases of Spanish TV sets and in the pages of 'Winning' magazine, by-gone eras. Perhaps Taylor or Tejay can rekindle the spark. Certainly I could get excited for a Taylor Phinney Paris-Roubaix victory. That said, it will be an excitement mixed with regret or apathy. It was a hell of a run, that '99-'05 streak, but at what cost? That is Lance's legacy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pondering

65F in January with the setting sun spinning webs of golden yellow, pink and azure, the blue of Titian. A rhythmic, fluid spin rise and fall of the terrain. A smile, a nod, a "Hey!", and occasionally a "Whoa!" as the darkness melted into the black wool. Red cap. Grunt, breath, rocking rhythmic machine as quiet as a night breeze.

Pondero ponders too. Tonight I understand.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Marengo Mixed-Terrain

After a fitful year in '12, I was determined to start 2013 on a good note, an adventurous note, and was fortunate that some of the crew was equally motivated to do something big on the bike. Barturtle took up the challenge of designing a mixed-terrain route out of Marengo, IN, and boy did he hit the spot. I take pride in finding interesting roads and opportunities, but Timothy's route was as varied and challenging as anything we've done of the mixed-terrain persuasion.

With mid-30Fs and no terrible weather expected, we left pretty confident that we wouldn't be bowled over by the weather (foreshadowing) and quickly hit the first of several acclivities on the day. Using the re-purposed Troll as my gravel whip on the day, I took it relatively easy early on as a test of the legs. What I failed to understand was...

We met our first gravel with the left turn downhill onto S Bogard Hollow (Harry Potter location?), which for me was one of the best gravel runs I've ridden. Five miles of varied texture with animals, a good barn, some dips and turns, a creek crossing, and generally no houses to speak of. Awesome find!

Memorializing First Stop. We make many stops, but the first breaks the tap, right?

Patrick with requisite game face. Homey don't play that!

Ride host looking sassy b/c of the great course.






Off of S.Bogard we turned onto S.Magnolia Rd, which is one Dave and I visited on New Year's Day of '10. It was only 17F on that day, but we faced much less gravel. After the peppery climb up Magnolia we found more gravel on E.Seaton Hill Rd. as we cruised a couple more climbs.




I call this "Bicycle Terrorist". Terrible title, just like the mediocre day of fitness.

After Grantsburg we found ourselves with a steady 1.5m grind of a climb up the paved 37 and then met our next batch of fun with the trepidation of several Private Drive signs on Zahn Rd. Our host barreled, so we did the same and eventually began an intense mountain-bike style downhill along a decrepit "road". It was the Troll's best moment of the day; its 26" wheels and mt geometry was in its element. Too bad the remaining 95% had me trampled by the easier roll of the 29ers in attendance. Zahn turned along a nice creek for a few and exited very near to the Sycamore Spring Park, again a spot Dave and I visited back in '10, but certainly not via the intense Zahn.



Although fuzzy, you can get a feel for Zahn Rd. along the creek here.

Dave along W. Zahn nearer to civilization. It's not often we see double track. 
I won't speak for the others, but for me the next three miles were among the toughest of the day. Tunnel Hill Rd. is a 3mile stairstep grind on gravel, made tougher on this day by a steady headwind that had cropped up. We got rather spread out here, with Timothy and Patrick extending out front (as one will do with more fitness and more legs), me floating in the middle and Dave hauling in the back. It was a desolate, cold spot of bother. Once I reached the top, where Timothy, Patrick and the dog which followed us for those three miles were waiting for us, I headed straight through, as I was cold, tired and pretty piss-poor. Sounds sort of dramatic for only the 20th mile, doesn't it?

After several excellent gravel segments, dove down the next- Longest Rd.- which might have been the best of the bunch: rustic, muddy, wild, rough, creek crossing galore. Again, Timothy and PJ pushed far ahead, as did Dave a bit. I stopped to soak it in and take some pics. Pace is great, but being out in it all is as much the bonus for.





We cruised into English for a snack at the gas station (they had a table without cigarette smoke!) and then left via another 1.5m stair-step climb, one which opened in the double digits just outside town. The horror! After I was officially a horse heading for the barn. I knew there was a bit of a short cut along the route, and I decided that even if I needed to wait for folks at the end, I was done. We first hit English Reservoir Rd., which might have been the wildest bit of "road" I've undertaken since Big South Fork back in '10. It was a muddy, half-frozen logging road which was barely rideable in spots and finished via a short unrideable rocky, frozen climb. I did prove that I can push a bike uphill faster than Dave.




At the top of the climb we hit yet more gravel, this time S.Sennis Rd., which provided yet another form of gravel texture, with more ice and a gushy clay surface. I was only barely hanging on here. The remainders decided to join me via the more direct route and we ended tired but satisfied with a grand 36 miles. Frankly I'm shocked how tired and spent I was after only 36 miles, and I won't mention our average pace.

Suffice, though, that most of roads we encountered were among the best gravel I've ridden around Louisville. However burned, Dave and I immediately discussed returning during a warmer time of the year. Maybe we'll be able to keep up a bit better, but, really, who cares? It was the kind of adventure I need to begin 2013.

 





Saturday, January 05, 2013

Good Day

With all the yuck and sickness, I stand to celebrate a good day on the bike today, not an epic or intense day, but a good day spinning wheels with good company (in this case, Dave). Dressed right for mid-20s. Two great cups of coffee. Easy pace which kept things pleasant, relaxed, non-stressed. Quickbeam was perfect.

 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

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