Saturday, September 11, 2010

S & M

You have to know pain to ride a bike. If you race bikes you have to have an intimate relationship with it. There is no casual about it. It is full on unadulterated agony. You know what I am talking about. Describe how you feel on your fifth interval on the trainer. I'm sure you don't use happy, smiley, sunny, peaceful. We use words with fewer letters and divisible by 2. Count the letters in PAIN, coincidence...I don't think so. FTP, if you know what stands for then you have taken Pain out for drinks and a movie.

Bridging a gap. Last K of a TT. Getting dropped on a climb. This is all voluntary pain that we put ourselves through willingly. 30mph North wind with a wind chill of 25*, spitting rain-sleet-snow-ice. 100* Wednesday Night Ride with Heat Index of 115*. I've seen you there, no one made me one made you go. We do this why? Suicide attacks. Hill repeats.

Road Rash. Not getting un-clipped in time. Things that we have no control over. Broken collarbone. Stitches. Having to watch, unable to participate. We've lost control, but we can still say NO. OR can we? Surgery. Dr.'s orders. We can't control another rider in the group who causes a wreck, or the dog that runs into a front wheel. No control over slippery wet train tracks, wood bridges, streets. Sticking to the sheets.

A man was banging his head against a wall and someone asked why he was doing it? The man replied "because it feels so good...when I stop."

How good does it feel when you are done with a race or hard ride? You can't find that feeling anywhere else. When you attack or push the pace, the little Devil on your shoulder is laughing and telling you how much you are hurting everyone else. Your legs are beyond cooked, molten lead pulses in your veins, you are cross eyed, but you can't help smiling on the inside. You know that someone is hurting worse than you.

Congratulations, you are a Sadomasochist.

Photo: REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vuelta stage 13

Lucky # 13. Cavo makes it back to back wins, and number 66 for his running total. When told his number of wins he was asked how many more? His reply..."I just like winning." How can you hate that. Cavo has Matt Goss to thank for both of his wins, and when interviewed he thanks Matt and the team. After crossing the line he always looks for his lead-out man and gives him the first headlock hug followed by hugs all around for the team.

Yesterday's win put Cav in an elite group of Grand Tour Stage winners. He has won a stage in all three of the Grand Tours. Now all he has to do is survive, and I mean survive the next few days as the air gets thinner and the roads reach up into the heavens to put the riders through hell. Time for the lightweight climbing specialists to pull out all the stops and attack each other until there is nothing left in the tank.

Cav may be mouthy in interviews, he gets misquoted, and taken out of context. Watch a post race interview and you see the base, all the layers taken away, and the "real" Cavendish stands up. He thanks his team for getting him to the line. First. He said today that he hopes Goss gets a stage, because "he is so fast, and he deserves it." He tried to give him a win yesterday, but Matt would not take it, which was a good move on his part. With Cavo winning it helped him secure more points in the race for the green jersey. Which he is holding at the moment.

The one quote that stuck out today, and really hit me:

"it is better to have a star team than a team of stars" -Mark Cavendish

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vuelta stage 11 & 12

Yesterdays stage 11 featured a beyond cat climb at the finish. It was your usual fight to the climb and then the GC separated themselves and the in-fighting began. Anton, who lost the jersey the day before, looked cashed and was slipping back. The other GC were busy attacking each other when Anton motored by everyone and won the stage and took the jersey back. Impressive climbing.

Today's stage was a sprinter's stage, without too many leg breakers. The peloton brought in the break and then the sprinter's teams went to work. Garnin did a lot of work, as did Cervelo...guess they are already starting to work together. What are they going to do with Thor and Tyler next year?

Matt Goss, what is it with these Ausies and lead-outs? Goss took over the race at 300m to go, with Cavo in tow, and lit the afterburners. Watch the highlights Goss took the sprinters to school, Marc is lucky they are on the same team. Matt stopped pedaling at 10m out and finished 3rd. Cavo and Matt had time to decide who was going to take the win.

Seriously check out the highlight on Color me impressed.

Oh yeah like it or not Cav is BACK

Photo: © Fotoreporter Sirotti

Rain, Rain

I'm about to have a tropical depression with all of this rain. New MTB sitting in the garage begging for some singletrack, dry singletrack, and we are under a flood watch/warning. Should have known, I planned a MTB roadtrip to do some riding this weekend and now it looks like it will be all road. Hey, at least I will be on a bike, maybe a kayak would be a wiser choice.

I did however "steal" a good long ride in the rain last night. Normally my rides in the rain are unplanned, got caught in the rain, it started raining, but yesterday I started my ride in the rain. That is a first. It sounds like a big deal, but yesterday the temperature and wind were on my side, it was too easy. I'm really glad that I got out for a ride, it was so worth it. Trails were empty, I had a free all-access pass to Rivertrails. That place is great when there is no one out, it feels like you are all alone even-though there is a major city street just yards away.

Riding in the rain can be a miserable endeavor or it can be a return to a childhood yesterday. I remember riding bikes in the rain and laying down skids into big water puddles, seeing how big a "rooster" you could make. That of course took place in the "city" at friend's houses, out on the farm it was a mudhole and no fun to ride. Getting rain on the farm meant no plowing, no planting, no harvesting, and generally a day off. Needless to say, I have always liked when it rained, but right now I am thinking MTB will be off the table for a few days until it can dry out.

See you on the road, in a boat?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vuelta stage 10/ Rant

Rest day yesterday. Andy and Stuy out of la Vuelta. Riis says "No drinking and biking." They are gone. You think it might be a little kiss off from Riis? No hard feelings there, Right? I don't know but something stinks. So Frank is Andy-less, to be honest Andy has not looked all that great since Paris. Looks like he is looking forward to next year. If I were Frank (let me be frank here) I'd be P-Oed with Andy and Riis.

O'Grady was a little upset with the decision by Riis. The guy has been a stellar rider in the trenches for Riis, he even brought home a Cobble from Roubaix for him. You are going to deny an Aussie a drink? I say how dare you, after everything that Stuy has done, I'd buy him a bar. Rules are like speed limits there is a little wiggle room.

Andy is a younger rider and rules are rules, but the guy just stood on the second step in Paris. Remember that? If he were a water carrier bust him like a water carrier, don't treat talent like a domistique. Riis you of all people should know better. I will say it again, Riis is upset with the Schlecks leaving, and he is exacting a little vengeance. Good show, A-H. Well played, you screwed Frank in the process.

OH yeah some dude won the stage and some guy got the jersey. Just kidding. Imanol Erviti of (Case D Parn- Bob Roll pronunciation) won the stage after an amazing attack on the descent. Wicked crazy golfcart path wide descent. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) took and intermediate sprint to gain a 2 second bonus. He was tied with the leader Anton, so in the end he took the jersey in his home town area.

Adieu Le Professor

I am going to re-post a comment from MartyB65. I could never capture what Fignon's impact was on cycling because I have only been a student of the sport for a short time. Thank you for the comment Marty:

Heart breaking.... my Wife even commented on the loss. I have always found Laurent an inspiration. My first three cycling posters in the early 80's... #1 Eddy Merckx, #2 Francesco Moser, #3 I had two Laurent Fignon posters -- one was a Gitane ad, which currently hangs in the SoundPony... DeeAnn thought we should have a memorial toast at the Pony soon... maybe even hang a black ribbon or put the French flag at half mast.

Fignon's death has truly been a loss to me... maybe just another sign that my youth has gone.

By the way his nickname was not just centered around those intellectual appearing glasses, but due to the fact that he had to choose between going to the school of veterinary medicine and a racing career... Most racers of the time were from the working class, and not college educated... hence the nickname.

Adieu Le Professor

The generation that survived WWII is said to be the Greatest Generation. The Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, Hampsten, and many others are our Greatest Generation. They are from an era of cycling that was gritty, dirty, but Pure.

Monday, September 6, 2010

3X10 Update

My profile: 143lbs soaking wet, Scorpio, like long rides on singletrack. I can put out 1000w+ for short periods of time on the road bike -so saith the PowerTap.

I mention all of that because I had my forth ride on the new bike, with the Shimano 3X10 SLX drive train. I started to experience some ghost shifting and some issues with the rear derailleur, similar to when you have a leaf or some sort of garbage in the cassette. Everything looked fine so I continued to ride and then it happened. Snap. Or should I say OH SNAP. Broken chain. That is a first for me. I've been MTBing for 11 years now and never done that before.

What is the deal? Is it a bad chain? Is a small 10speed chain too small for of-road applications? When 9speed came out they said the same thing -9speed is too small and will never stand up to the rigors of off-road. With so few miles on this system I am a little bummed, but also curious as to what the "real" issue might be. Being that it is Labor Day I cannot go to the LBS and talk to them. I am concerned about other people riding the same system. I am not what you would call a Big Guy. Unless, you were using the opposite nickname deal. Tiny = Big Guy, Big Guy = small dude.

Let's say that a 175lb guy is using the same system, he will tear it a new one.

I'm still having issues with the range of the 24, 32, 42. It is mechanically "goofy" when trying to find a gear that is in the "overlap" range. Very unnatural feel on the bike, and TONS of front chain-vs-derailleur rub. Some of the shifts in the lower range are spaced far apart and are not smooth at all. I need to ride a 26, 39 up front, that just sounds like a better ratio. It would seem that, that combo would almost eliminate the dreaded overlap of the triple. There is also a 28, 42, but that is a little on the big side for me. I don't need that kind of top end.

I am trying to stay positive, and hope that the chain was just a lemon. I do only have 62miles on the bike, not enough to make a qualified review. Well, I do have to say the bike is solid, and there are no complaints. The Maestro Suspension is magical. Hype it is not, it is the real deal, and Giant is no joke. The jury is still out on the 10speed.


My new bike came with Shimano's answer to Sram's 10speed mountain group. I have the SLX version with a 24, 32, 42 up front and an 11, 36 out back. That is a pretty wide range of gearing options. I was pleasantly surprised, thought I did my homework when I was shopping. When I picked up the bike at my LBS I noticed how large the cassette was and saw the 36 sitting outback. Then I was told that it was a 3X10. Wow!

First Ride: Shifting felt cheap, I have Sram X9 on my old bike and a shift is BAM, BAM, BAM all day long. Cheap is a bad word, but that is what came to mind the first few. It is very light and it is predictable, but the feel is fragile compared to X9. I do like that the trigger finger shifter can also be used with the thumb. It is a "two-way" shift, being that I am used to the Sram system this came in handy. I also like how sometimes I will use the index finger and sometimes the thumb. That is a plus.

The middle ring or the 32 is the work horse of the whole system. I find that I ride 95% in the 32 and do a great deal of cross-chaining. When shifting into the small or 24 there are not too many usable gears before you get chain rub on the front derailleur. The same is said for the 42 or the big ring. You can only use about four gears before you get chain rub and have to shift into the 32.

I really like the idea of the 11x36 on the cassette. That is awesome. The triple up front is a waste. A 24, 39 up front would be great or any other combination that would suit the local that you find yourself living near. 2X10 seems more logical to me, 3X10 has way too much overlap on the trail. It probably looks really good on paper, but when put to use it is unnessairy. I would like to test ride a 2X10 system. I am sold on the 10speeds. Shimano or Sram? It's your choice of S-word.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vuelta stage 9

6 categorized climbs, it hurts just typing that. Six, because 5 yesterday was just not enough. Can I get a ...REALLY This has to be one of the days that a pro looks as the profile and thinks that riding a bike for a living IS a job. At what point does the fun leave? Category 3 climb? Category 2 climb? Do they have fun? After all they are riding bikes. Last place has to be thinking "I get paid to do this."

Fifteen guys got into the initial break and did some damage until Barrado was the "virtual leader", Euskaltel needed to do some work to keep Anton in red. With a 15 man break you can do some damage, but there is also a lack of defined leadership and teamwork. The break usually is unorganized and several attacks will form another break. Which it did.

David Lopez one of the Caisse d’Epargne riders who is not a GC favorite was in the break within a break and he attacked at the right time. Sometimes timing is what wins the stage, and David was a Swiss watch with his attack. With 1k to go it was in the bag. Nine stages and 9 different winners.

The GC group came in and there was some racing in there to change the red jersey, but across the line nothing changed.

Petacchi had to abandon the stage after his brush with the pavement yesterday. He said that the legs were coming around and he was disappointed to leave la Vuelta. He is coming off a win in this Vuelta and 20-something total for his career. I will miss him in the future flat stages, if there are any.

Vuelta stage 8

As promised Gilbert lost the GC, but not without a fight. You have to give it to the big man. Five, count 'em 5 categorized climbs on stage 8. Not an easy day in the saddle. Omega did a great job protecting their leader for the days that he was in the jersey. I like Gilbert, and enjoyed seeing him win a stage and wear the leader's jersey.

Team Sky has had a rough go at la Vuelta and Friday evening Txema Gonzalez, a team Sky soigneur died of a blood infection. Sky has had several riders abandon la Vuelta due to a virus not related to Gonzalez's infection. With this news and all of the abandons Sky pulled out of the race.

What's up with Tommy D? So far the dude is looking like he should have three years ago, or is it just a matter of time before he implodes and ends up in the team car headed for the hotel? I've been disappointed by him in the past, but I always end up coming back and rooting for him. Only to be let down. Go Tom!!!

Tejay is still hanging in there, all 22years. The commentators were talking about his chances of lasting the full three weeks. Age does have a great deal to do with the rider, but sometimes, sometimes it makes no difference. I would like to see a product of our USAC kick some ... in his first Grand.

David Moncoutié wants a third KOM of la Vuelta, and he went for it today, not only did he work his way up the standings he also took home the stage win. Not a bad way to start a campaign for the dots. This should be a crazy crazy crazy race for the KOM, seems like every stage has at least one climb.

New Ride

I picked up my new bike Friday. How excited was I? I think I have to use the term "giddy". I felt surreal seeing the bike built-up and waiting to go home with me. It's like being at prom and seeing your date and thinking that they are too good for you. Seriously, that is MY bike?

I got the bike home took all the reflectors, the warning stickers, and pulled the cassette so that I could take the donut off. Spun on some pedals, adjusted the seatpost, and began the scientific test ride (ride around the front yard on and off the curb) to adjust the fork and shock. Done with the set-up I made plans for a morning maiden ride.

Didn't sleep too well, a little excited to get that first ride. Crazy dreams, none about bikes.

When the knobbies hit the dirt for the first time the newness started to wear off. The ease of climbing came with a little confusion. Really? Am I just excited? Adrenalin rush? No, this thing can climb, it can descend, and it rails corners. Does it have any weaknesses? Yes, the rider.