Sunday, July 13, 2014


Riding in a group is "herd mentality" we follow the leader and we don't want to be left behind. There is strength in numbers and nobody wants to be left on their own. Plus, misery loves company, and we all know that riding into a punishing headwind is no fun. Especially when you are doing it alone knowing that your "friends" or "that group" is just up the road. Unwilling to wait or stop just for a min or two. Jackasses.

I abhor this. I believe in "no Man left behind". I will double back to help out a rider in trouble, offer a helping hand, water, gels, companionship. I have always,  well since I was strong enough to be a "Shepard", tried to help riders in trouble. I have been in that place before, you know the one where you are getting dropped and you can no longer hang onto the wheel in front of you. Alarm bells going off, legs feeling hollow, lights dimming, we have all been there, it's a lonely place. I know, I lived there for years and when I used to ride with the boys in Tulsa. Those guys are horribly fast, and tough.

Yesterday I committed a cardinal sin. I left a rider behind. Worse yet, I said that I would not do it. Promised. I did the very thing that I can not stand other riders doing. I am the worst kind of hypocrite. I have preached against the very act that I would never condone, but yet became an offender of my own convictions.

The only question I have of myself is Why? Why would I do such a thing? I have no excuse, I have no answer. All I can say is that I was so in the "red" that I did not know what I was doing. Race Brain. That sounds like the best excuse I can come up with. But. And this is a big But. I really think that it was ego. I was afraid to show weakness in the herd. I did not want anyone to "think" that I was not as awesome as I see myself. I did not want to be perceived as "not fast, not good, not awesome, not a racer". It's because I care about what people think about me. Crap.

I don't have anything to prove to anyone but myself, but my ego got the best of me and I felt like I needed to prove something to the herd. I don't need to prove anything to the herd, I needed to be bigger than my ego and help a fellow cyclist. I failed me. I failed my view of what it means to be a cyclist. I failed my fellow man.

I feel shame, and I am sorry. I know better.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stage 2 TdF 2014

Wow, looked like a Classic today, over 200k and hilly or should I say climb(y). Rough day none the less.
Cav is out, suffering at his own hands in a stage 1 sprint, glad everyone else was okay enough to continue on today. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, especially two objects that are moving 60+ kph. The pure sprinters did not get to have a go today due to the nature of the par course and Kittel handed over the Yellow to Nibali. Ah le Tour how we all adore you. I know it is not Spring, but I love seeing Greg Van Avermaet mixing it up in a stage of le Tour that was akin to L-B-L.

I hope to see a lot more of Michal Kwiatkowski "flower man" this Tour, not sure if he has the legs for the whole month, but he looks good and I would love to make him my pick. Can't rule out Wiggins, oops Sky didn't bring Wiggo, so I mean Froome, Contador, after today Nibali looks like a contender. There are others that I am overlooking, but it is a long race. Great to see Horner back on the bike and in the biggest race of the year, just a few months ago no one would have guessed he would be here.

O to the M to the Gosh, did I see Frank Schleck and Andy? And they both finished a race? I would love to see a "healthy" Frank and Andy Tour. And by "healthy" I mean whatever they were on or not on just a few Tours ago. Now that would be a huge darkhorse if Frank or Andy could be a contender this year. Choke artist Joaquim Rodriquez could and should be a threat as should Valverde and Costa. I am a Lotto Belisol fan and love my man Adam Hansen the super domestique and would like to see Van Den Broeck challenge for a top spot.

And now for a little flag waving.  One word. Andrew Talansky. How awesome would it be if Talansky kicked some @s$ this Tour? It's possible. Ted King, not a contender but awesome to see him in his second Tour, hope it lasts longer than last year (stupid UCI not letting him stay after missing the timecut). Always a favorite, and with Cadel Evans out Tejay Van Garderen could actually get the support he needs to make an impact in France. A name that we should hear pronounced wrongly is Busche. Matt Busche. Never heard of him? Well hope to hear a lot more from him in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Same is not the Same

It's World Cup time, I'm not talking about Road World Champs, World Cup as in Futball or as we like to call it Soccer. The US was just eliminated by Belgium, it was a sad day, any other day and I'm OK with getting mopped up by the Belgians (cyclocross), but soccer. We actually had a chance, it's not their game, it's the World's game. They (Belgians) own cyclocross as the Canadians own Hockey, but soccer we were on a somewhat level playing field. Pun intended. I digress. The Dutch are going all the way, or Germany, or maybe even Belgium. Stay tuned.

I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I will watch it and converse about what is going on in the world of futball. It is a fringe sport here in the States as is Cycling. So. Being a cycling fan you should be able to empathize with the soccer hooligan. We are the same, but different. The World US sees us as weird when we ride bikes or kick a ball. I would like to think that this is out of ignorance. Mostly. Maybe I should not use such strong language, but it is a lack of knowledge that makes people fear something. Something beautiful such as cycling or futball. I don't play soccer, but I appreciate what the players can do with the ball. Magic, and all the running.

Yes there is an ugly side to both sports, the diving, the drugs, the biting, and all the lying. That is the human side to any pursuit, that is what we do. Hate it for what it is, not for what it is a part. I choose to see the beauty in my sport, I know there is a fresh body in the closet waiting to become a skeleton, but I still have the love. The positives outweigh the negatives. Le Tour starts this weekend and the World will be watching Futball and The Grand Depart, and a small slice of the globe will be driving their petrol burning over-sized death machines to the lake with no thought to either. Hating something because you don't understand is ignorance. Ignorance is bliss, and there are happy people everywhere.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Future's so bright

I'm not going to wear shades so I will have to squint. That will make me hardcore.

Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, this was a far cry from what the bicycle mechanics flew at Kill Devil Hills. Was it easier for Chuck to pilot the X-1 than the brother's Wright Flyer? Did innovation make Chuck less of a pilot, or any less skillful than his predecessors? Does Chuck have less street cred because he didn't fly a "real" airplane? Can this argument be made for either side of the technology debate?

"It takes more skill to ride a singlespeed steel bike. Riding a full suspension bike is easier and makes you less of a bike rider." These are valid statements, and the Amish drive horse-drawn carriages, build houses and barns the old fashioned way. They are so much cooler than us electricity using, iPhone talking, internet living crowd. They are so core. Is that why the Paleo (caveman) diet is so hot right now? It's hardcore that's what the neanderthals did, that's what we should do. Old is new is old is new again. Hey, I've got a great idea. Runners should run without shoes, because that's what they did back-in-the-day and they were so cool, and it is harder. If you run in shoes you are not as skillful as someone without.

Is it cheating to use innovation to progress? Does it make you "more of a man" if you choose to eschew technology? Aerodynamic bikes make riders faster, is this wrong? Why would you not want a mechanical advantage? Yes, I understand simplicity. KISS. Barebones get the job done no flash. It works, why do you need anything else? There is something beautiful about simple. It is clean. Easy. Reliable.

We have opposable thumbs which allows us (humans) to use tools. Tools allow us to progress, and throughout history that is exactly what we have done. And we are still doing to this day. Progress is almost as inevitable as death and taxes. Yes you have the choice to be a luddite and stick to your convictions, that is your right. You also have the choice to use every means necessary to propel yourself into the future.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's not you, it's me (an open letter to Strava)

Dear Strava,

Let me say that before I met you, I had heard about you from our friends, and I wanted to meet you. You seemed too good to be true and I had to find out for myself. Everything I had heard made me excited to get to know you. When we met it was magical. Love at first sight. You were good for me. You encouraged me to ride my bike. After a ride you would brag to everyone and you made me feel like a king. I was a King I was King of your Mountains. The sex was amazing. My friends and people I didn't know were giving me kudos. I was on top of the world. You put me on top of leaderboards with people I knew and total strangers. We were a team, I was your champion and you my cheerleader.

Then you started to withhold things from me, and wanted me to pay for "it". This should have been a red flag, but I was so into you, and you were great for me. Then you started talking about other guys and how good they were. This was rough at first but it motivated me to do better to be better for you to win for you. Then you started telling me that other guys were your King, and this truly hurt me to the core, but I found motivation out of it and worked harder. This is where it all went wrong. It's not you, I got weird, I started acting different. I would go for a nice ride and I would only think about you and what you would think and all of the other guys in your life. It made me angry it turned me into a Strav-A-hole.

My darkest days were in the saddle riding with the taste of blood in my mouth -just to prove my love to you. I had enslaved myself to your opinion of me and of the others. I no longer rode my bike for me. I had you in the back of my mind telling me that someone was better and they were your King, not me. I was crushed and I rode with a black heart, my passion was no longer pure. Rage flowed through my veins and clouded my peace and serenity. The love was gone. I became a monster, a slave, an idiot to an ideal that I could not achieve.

We had some great times, some crazy times, and I do love you, but I am not me. Not the me that I need to be. I wish I was a stronger person and could handle your lifestyle, but I am not, and I do not like the person I have become when I was with you. I have to leave you so that I can re-find myself.

With love,

P.S. I have all your stuff in a box, just text me when you can come pick it up, and can I have my key back?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Here is what you should think

Now that we are on the subject of opinions, let me give you yours. Seriously, media (especially marketing) is the Devil. He wants your soul, I mean money, he does it with glossy ads in mags, videos on Youtube, and "PROs" who have already sold their soul to the highest bidder (paycheck). He tells you what to think, what to buy, what to ride, and then you become part of the zombie squads with no thought given. Don't get me wrong marketing is a great means for us consumers to gain knowledge in the form of information, but one has to realize that the information that the Devil gives is always great. Nothing is ever Substandard, Partially, or Marginal. It is always Improved, the Best, Better, Newer, Faster, Lighter, Stronger, but most importantly Newer and ready for you to buy.

Sorry but that was my segue into my actual thought about innovation and technology. I am constantly arguing with co-workers and other cyclists about innovation and technology. First, no matter what side of the fence one is on, there will always be progression in the sport of Cycling. Cycling as a sport is race driven, as long as people saddle up and try to go faster than the next guy, this will happen. It is inevitable don't fight it. I am all for the technological progression of Cycling, but in the same sentence I must state that I also love the history and the beauty of the bicycle.

This is the paradox that I live. I am thrilled to see exotic materials and bikes that look like Star Trek props, but I also dig sexy lugged steel frames welded by someone my Dad's age. So where does one draw the line? How can one maintain heritage but embrace the electronic age of robots making gear selections inside my rear derailleur? Oh so torn. When Tullio Campagnolo invented the derailleur did cyclist at the time scoff his newfangled tech, or did they welcome it with open arms and applaud the ability to change gears without removing the rear wheel?

I am not a fan of electronic shifting, but it is technology, it is the future: and it is, to be honest, really cool. So, do I like it? I don't know. Do I need a 2x11? NO. Do I want a 2x11, sure. But, only if I don't have to buy a new freehub body, and well a whole new grouppo. Well, I guess for now I am stuck in the 2x10 world. Poor me. And yes, I know that 9spd is enough just as 8 was enough. We as humans will always want bigger better, faster stronger. As I type this I can't help but think about "gear heads" and how they have their classic cars. We as cyclists are no different, we may ride the fuel injected computer controlled showroom floor beauty but we lust after the fire breathing supercharged classic muscle from years past.

Ignorance and opinions are like

Crazy uncles, everybody has one, but that doesn't mean that you should always talk about him.  He's crazy and he is an @s$.  Seriously, Cycling is full of Crazy Uncles. Everyone has an opinion about everything. If it has a brand name, color, a size, design, materiel then someone/everyone has something to say about it. Right or Wrong, intelligent or otherwise, everyone is their own self-appointed expert and they want to tell everyone what they know. "Don't use product X, it is dumb, because I am the King of products and I deem it as such."

Can of worms each of which opens another can chock full of other worms that have their own can of worms. Wheel size, in the mountain biking world, can illicit long conversations/arguments that will end up with name calling, hair pulling, crying, and a whole lot of duchebaggery. If you are looking for a good fist fight -try it. Just make sure to stick to your guns and don't listen to anything that the other opinionated has to say, 'cause they will not be listening to what you have to say. You want to know what I think about wheel size... Yeah I bet you do. I'm all for wheels having size, I'm all for people having a choice as to which size of wheel, frame, tire, saddle, handlebar, etc... Choice is good, as long as you make it for yourself and it is an educated choice based on knowledge, not on the Crazy Uncle whispering dirty jokes into your ear. Size does matter. You have to be the Goldilocks of wheels when it comes down to "what size?" is right for you. What works for me will not always work for you, and what works for you will not always work for me. This bed is too soft.

I've got a whole musette bag full of opinions, but I also have ears, and I listen. I like to think of myself as a Student of Cycling. I don't know everything, but I am learning, as should everyone. Sometimes one should shut their mouth and open ones ears so that one can hear and possibly learn. An open mind will expand knowledge better than one that is closed.  More to come... I hope.