Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tour Down Under stages 4-1

I'm going to do this a little backward, after all the race is held on a continent at the bottom of the world.  Things are backward there...It's Summer there, all nice and hot with green grass shorts and cold drinks.  Stage 5 is already in the bag, but I have not seen the replay so I'm not going to recap until this thing is over.

Stage 4
So far this has been my favorite stage,  five escapees fled the peloton and made a go.  This being a flat sprinters stage the teams let the leash loose.  Cameron Meyer and Matt Wilson of Garmin, Tomas De Gendt and Rob Rujigh of Vacansoleil, Laurens ten Dam representing Rabobank put in a full day at the office trying to stay out of reach of the sprinters teams.  HTC and Lotto went to work to mitigate their losses and get their men to the finish line first.  Rob Rujigh either was not feeling it or just didn't think the break was going to survive and he pulled the plug and went back to the peloton.  Wilson, ten Dam, De Gendt and Meyer put in work to make it stick, and with 4k to go the peloton could see the rogue riders up the road.  The catch was emanate -or was it?  With the peloton breathing down their necks the quartet of riders went for the sprint, Wilson killing it for his teammate Meyer who out-kicked the other two and picked up his first ProTour win and Garmin's first for the year.

Stage 3
This stage was all about the sprinters, and an U23 World Champ that stold the show.  Who is Michael Matthews you ask?  He is a 20 year old neo-pro that is coming off a U23 World Champ win.  His compatriot and team captain Graeme Brown (who is also a sprinter) was caught up in a crash and the team switched plans on the fly and tapped the young fastman for a go.  The youngster took it to Andre Greipel and Matt Goss in a sprint that allowed him time for a little victory cha-cha  across the line.  Impressive, Rabobank is probably licking their chops.

Stage 2
A win is a win is a win.  You've seen the Mayhem Allstate commercials with Dean Winters, well Mayhem was in full effect on stage two.  Cav ended up on the tarmac and required stitches -to his face, he was a bloody mess -no really.  That was the first of the two crashes in the final 3k.  The second one took out several contenders and Ben Swift with some teammates of his Sky team took advantage of the situation and he jumped on a charging Robbie McEwen and took the win.

Stage 1
Classic by the book sprinter's stage: break, catch, bunch sprint.  Matt Goss of HTC sprinted Robbie McEwen, and Andre Greipel for the win with a perfect timed lead-out from Renshaw who is used to having Cav on this wheel.  The amount of horsepower in this race is insane, it is full gas bunch sprinting at it's best.  We will not see this quality of sprinting again until July. 

Everyone is hungry for wins and a good start to the ProTour.  I am happy with the short but sweet VS coverage, there is just enough Lance Love to get the TV spots and advertisers and they do a good job showing how the race unfolds.  They show the start, the breaks being formed, the intermediate sprints, the KOMs, the break going and going until they get caught and then the bunch sprint -all in a tidy 30min package with minimal commercial breaks.  Good Job guys, thank you for the coverage.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No love lost?

I really hate snow.  It is so useless.  It freaks people out and makes them do stupid things, especially while driving.  This is not good.  Tulsa is not in the Snowbelt, so it is senseless to spend money on equipment that will rarely get used.  We have no use for the snow other than the moisture content, and the last time I checked we could use rain.  That's right how about some rain?  Oklahoma is OK with rain, hold the snow give me rain.

I haven't been completely honest with you about snow.  I used to be in a relationship with Snow.  I was young and need the money...Just kidding.  My parents took me skiing for the first time when I was about 4 years old.  I twisted my knee and could barely walk, slept with an ice pack and took the wonder drug Advil.  Next morning still couldn't walk, but I could ski.  I skied whenever I could, and I have my Mom to blame  thank for that.  Snow and I were just in the getting to know you stages, but our relationship was about to take a turn for the serious.

I was a skateboard punk, and in the late '80s early '90s snowboarding exploded.  I was part of the collateral damage.  I took lessons (thanks again Mom) and was instantly hooked.  I had the set-up my Mom loved to ski and I loved to ski/snowboard so let's just say that for a flat-land Texan I spent more time in the mountains than most.  I guess you could say that Snow and I were getting serious and there was probably a promise ring or letter-jacket exchange in there somewhere.

By my senior year in high school I was taking weekend trips to Colorado and New Mexico on a regular basis -seemed like every-other weekend.  After graduation the next season I spent most of my time sleeping on floors and couches in Southern Colorado.  I had the fever and the only cure was more... more snowboarding, and this is when the relationship with Snow became serious and I wanted to spend every waking hour with her.  Summer was punishment, heat was death.  Time away from Snow was painful.  I couldn't stand it any longer, so we got engaged.  I got a call from a friend that said "want to move to Utah?". 

"Yes" is what I said.  We were going to be together, it was a reality -no more just pretend.  I wanted to be with Snow and now I was in the State with the "Greatest Snow on Earth".  I got my picture on a piece of plastic that said I could be with Snow anytime I wanted (Season Pass).  I moved to Utah during a season that they called a Ten-Year Cycle.  Record Snow.  We were in love, it was wonderful, it lasted for 5 years and in my infinite wisdom I left.  I left Snow.

So now when I see her, it is with the knowledge of our past.  It is the sick punched in the gut feeling you get when you see a past relationship, the one that was a big part of your life that is now gone.  You don't want them to see you, or heaven forbid actually make eye contact and have to have an awkward moment.  Snow and I are done, but I still have feelings for her, and I think fondly of the times that we shared.  But Dam-it that was then, this is now.  I've moved on?

All pictures are of me, if you didn't know

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Drop it

I once heard that there are two kinds of liars,  the ones that say they quit, and the ones that say they never did.  What kind of liar are you?

When you start riding bikes it is very foreign, but yet almost second nature, because you did it when you were a kid and like they say... "It's just like...".  If you were anything like me you rode close to your house, then around the block, your area started getting smaller so you needed to go bigger.  You find a bike lane maybe a bike trail, you set a destination or a certain mileage that you want to conquer.  If you stick with it that grows and grows.  The more you ride the smaller your world becomes.

If you are lucky you have someone to ride with and challenge you, but lets be honest -it is for company.  None the less having someone else on a ride is priceless, it is safer, and it adds to the ride.  Because it is so much fun to ride with other people you start so seek out other like minded riders, and then it eventually happens.  The Group ride.  It starts in a mutual parking lot and the sizing-up begins before you even get the bike out of the car or off the rack.  Your level of Fredness is determined by choice of kit and if your bartape matches your saddle.  Don't kid yourself, it happens.

Everyone is real helpful.  They tell you how to pedal in a circle, how to relax on a climb, how to tuck into the person's draft in front of you.  They tell you how great you are doing, when they know you are about to have total and complete heart and lung failure.  You left your legs at the side of the road thirty mins ago, and the feeling in your back and shoulders is gone or did a power line fall on you and you are being electrocuted?

All of your new-found friends are talking, chatting, telling jokes, rubbing shoulders, and doing one quarter the work that you are pouring out of your short existence.  And then, someone flips a switch and all of your new friends become very very very small.  You are all alone and the people who were previously your long lost kin are now shrinking into the horizon and vanish.  You have been dropped, shelled, popped, shot out the back, you are a boat anchor going backwards.

It is a byproduct of group rides, you are either doing the dropping or you are being dropped.  Hang on, it is a bumpy ride.  Getting dropped will only bruise your ego, how you handle it shows your true character.  Group rides are a two-edged sword, they are great fun, but can be devastating.  Remember what "they" tell all Super Heroes.  Use your powers for good not evil.

It happens, it's happened to me (it still happens to me), has it happened to you? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tour Down Under Starts

How about that?  Everyone is watching Cav and Andre and Matt and Mark steal the show.  Those two are pure HP.  Head-to-head I think Cav is "the Man", but still beatable.  The only problem is,  you have to race his whole team, which means you have Renshaw and Goss to deal with before you even get to Cav.  If you think for one min that you can beat Cav, you better ask yourself if you can beat HTC first.

I'm sure you all knew this, but Radio Shack added Robbie Mc to their line up, but did you know they also added the fastman from the RSA Robbie Hunter.  No big deal right?  It is a big deal, this is the first time in Bruyneel's reign that he has not focused strictly on a GC contender team.  This is clearly a team that can go out and stage hunt.

The Shack is not the only team that is bringing a sprint-centered team Down Under.  Omega Pharma Lotto is building its team around Andre Greipel with Gilbert always a threat when the conditions get tough.  We're talking weather, courses, all of the above.  Garmelo has Tyler and Thor that they will be able to throw into the bunch, sprint that is.  Don't forget about Julien Dean in the black white and blue.  Astana is flying the flag with Alan Davis.  Rabo has Graeme Brown and Michael Matthews who will be motivated to win on home soil, plus they are fast.  Mic Rogers is an Ausi on the Sky team fresh from HTC and looking to make a name on his new team, he is accompanied by fellow countrymen Simmon Gerrans, Chris Sutton, and Matt Hayman.

Sorry if I left you off, but there are too many to mention like the Haedo brothers on Saxo, Francesco Chicchi and Ciolek on QuickStep.  Speaking of QuickStep, where it Tom?  All of the horsepower/firepower and no Tom to be found anywhere, or Thor.  I hear they are making their starts in the Middle East.  I'm not a big fan of Boonen, but I would like to see him healthy and in the mix.  He always makes for good bunch sprints when he is in them.  I really like to watch him in the Classics.  A healthy Boonen in the Classics VS Fabian, OH baby give me a pint of something with a kick like a mule and lets watch some cobbled-craziness.

We do have to get through some races before the Classics, but as you can tell...I can't wait.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the shape of things

I've been neglecting my road bike, so I went out with the team on a little 100k route yesterday.  Switching from a fat 5" travel rock-eating plush monster to a skinny-tire big-ring soul crusher is one giant step for mankind.  I have been riding a road bike, but only on the rollers and trainer not on the actual road.  I would have to say that I am in mtb shape and I really thought it would translate to the road.  I do love pulling the bike out of the car with one arm and not having to strain, and every pedal stroke seems to make the bike jump forward.  

Speed is relative.  Relative to the action that is accompanying you at the time.  5mph over a rock-garden can seem like warp speed, 20mph in a peloton can seem like a brisk walk with chatting and jokes.  Climbing a nice long hill at 13mph with the legs burning can take a lifetime, but the downhill reward is gone in an instant.  And like that, it is gone.  Pain.  It comes, it goes, sometimes it packs a bag and stays too long like your un-invited relatives who are on their way to see the world's largest ball of twine.

I'll be honest, I'm a little beat-up from my little foray into the road bike scene yesterday.  I am thankful I took out the full carbon pave blasting machine, instead of the rain/training bike that gets most of the punishment this time of year.  I would probably still be in bed.  Coffee was barely enough to get the life back into this shell.  Thank you for the bountiful caffeine that you have bestowed on this wonderful bean, and the ability to roast, grind, and brew.  Amen.

Who would have thought that being in mtb shape would not carry over onto the somewhat smooth Oklahoma roads?  I would have bet that bouncing around all those miles and hours these months that a little pavement would cause no-harm to my super human off-road shape.  A bike is a bike is a bike?  Yes and No.  Location location location.