What would it take for you to ride?

December 31, 2006

Not too long ago, I snuck out of work to attend a school function in the middle of the day. As I was walking into the building, I noticed the bike rack. It was rather large and ornate with two sculpted bicycles on either end. The inscription read “Compliments of the PTO.” It was also virtually empty.

I asked people if they noticed the rack. All commented on the gaudiness of the artwork. None commented on the utility. When I see a bike rack in front of school, I remember the pile of bikes that overflowed the rack to the point that the only place to lock a bike was to another bike. The wonderful daisy chain still occupies a special part of my memory.

I started wondering why there was a significant lack of bikes. Was it the weather? No, it was unseasonably warm. Busy roads? Nope, the school was deep in a residential neighborhood. Then why?

I asked parents. The best I could get was a sheepish admission that the busing and driving was preferable since we are all so busy. I asked the kids. The best I could get from them is an admission that they never really thought of doing that since the bus stop was right there or Mom always drove.

What happened to us? How do we change this destructive pattern? It seems that we have reached the ultimate limit. Bribery. Sad but true. You know the feeling. If you have been around kids, you have been there too. First you ask, then beg, then bribe.

The Guardian is reporting that the UK is considering paying for kids to ride to school. Parents actually are upset. Some say there is a safety issue. I think that is a red herring as they let their kids ride the same roads at other times especially during rush hour. The only possible exception is the parents themselves.  I’ve seen the way they fly into the parking lot to drop off their kids before the opening bell.  Others say paying sends the wrong message. I totally agree! But I think we disagree on which is the wrong message. I think the wrong message is that we had to resort to paying someone to do something they should want to do naturally.


Oh the pain, the pain of it all

December 30, 2006

Straddling my bike, I heard the faint voice of Dr. Smith  and his familiar whine eminating from my saddle.  I also realized that lycra cuts both ways.  When on form, it accentuates the chisled features.  It can also make you look like a used tube of toothpaste.  Lumps and bumps in all the wrong places.

What do you expect when you’ve been partying like the final days of the Roman Empire? 

It’s going to be a long road back.

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Today is the first day of the rest of your life

December 29, 2006

I heard that quite a bit growing up.  Recently, my mantra has been, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”  I know I have been very spotty with my posts recently but I’d like to offer up the following as evidence in my case.  We just completed a three week stage race that rivals any of the grand tours.  Call this one the Tour de Gastronomy.  My role was the dutiful soigner to my wife the Directeur Sportif.

You know my hobby, well my wife’s hobby is cooking.  This spring when we completed a complete renovatioon of the kitchen, little did I know what was in store come holiday season.

Stage 1: Bunco.  A seemingly easy opening stage, Beth had her Bunco crowd over for a holiday version of the “game.”  As soigner, I helped make sure all musettes and bidons were filled for all the team cars that came to the feed zone.  Of course, part of the soigner’s job is quality control.  All food was thoroughly tested prior to being placed in the musette bags.

Stage 2: NYC.  Not a lot of work for the soigner except driving my parents into the city in the team car.  We took them to dinner and a show and stayed the night in order to tour the windows, tree, and other stuff.  While the workload was low we managed to consume quite a bit of calories to store for later use.

Stage 3: The in-laws.  After the easy, the tour headed for the mountains.  There was plenty of prep work for the Directeur and the soigner.  Lots of musette bags and plenty of bidons were used during this stage. 

Stage 4: My side.  I’m one of 5 so there were plenty of siblings and little ones.  The adults required multiple bidons and musette bags prepared by the Directeur and handed out in the feed zone.  The bidons were in great demand.

Stage 5: Rutgers.  I’m a Temple University grad but if you are anywhere in the vicinity, Rutgers is the topic of the year.  It turns out that we have quite a few Rutgers alumni in the neighborhood.  When the local cable company got in a spat with the NFL network over the game, we jumped in.  Many years ago, we switched to DirectTv since they had a fledgling cable channel OLN which showed cycling.  Now, we were the ones with the NFL network and the bowl game.  This turned out to be the queen’s stage.

Today, I decided to begin the ardous process of shedding the extra adipose tissue.  I am in fear of riding in my red shirt since I may be mistaked for another man on vacation this time of year.  I also am afraid of weraing my grey and black gear as a well-meaning member of Green Peace may try to take me to the shoreline to rejoin my pod.

Wish me luck!

Does anyone know if any of the following has been added to the doping list?  If so, I fear for the off season test.

  • trans fat
  • tannins
  • cheese metabolites
  • hops
  • single malt

When will common sense previal?

December 26, 2006

On the heels of the”we know you did it but we have to let you go” ruling, the Court of Arbitration of Sport ruled that the two year ban for Aitor Gonzlaez should stand.  This effectivly ends the Spaniard’s career.

As a recap, Gonzalez tested positive for steroids at the tour of Spain.  It was later found out that the steroid came from a contaminated supplement.

From a CAS statement via the BBC:

“The CAS arbitrators have admitted the facts presented by Aitor Gonzalez.

“But the arbitrators have considered that he did not act without fault or negligence in using a doubtful food supplement, prescribed by an occasional doctor and purchased in a fitness centre.

“The athlete could not ignore the risks related to such an ingestion taking into account the repeated warnings given in this regard by the sports authorities.”

Sorry Aitor but even though we know you didn’t do it, we have something for you for Christmas.  Here is a hint.  It is black, shiny, and made of carbon.

No, not the new Orbea Orca your (former) Euskaltel-Euskadi teammates are riding.

Try coal.


Another good reason for Cycling.tv

December 25, 2006

An interview with Floyd Landis

I really have been enjoying my subscription to Cycling.tv.  Normally at this time of year, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on World Cycling videos.  I play these videos over and over again to try to get me through the winter months on the trainer. 

This year, I am trying to stream videos of most of the spring classics through a subscription of Cycling.tv.  I have to say it is well worth it.  I have yet to repeat a video and the addition to the Phil and Paul show has kept things fresh.

Sometimes, Cycling.tv brings me something new.  This time, I have been watching the recent festivities in San Diego including an interview with Mr. Floyd Landis.  Check it out on the Premium Channel.  You will not be disappointed.

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Merry Christmas.

Jim


Pretty in pink

December 24, 2006

I stand corrected.  I speculated a little while ago on what the new kit will look like as Davitamon-Lotto becomes Predictor-Lotto.  The main sponsor becoming a pregnancy test. 

Well, singer-turned-designer Laura Lynn really has really created an eye catching kit of pink and grey.    Actually, it is salmon and anthracite but my pallate is not that refined. Laura is now the team’s self appointed godmother.  No offense to my Aunt Sue but I wouldn’t mind having Laura as my godmother. 

Take a look, what do you think? Oh yea, the other two riders are Björn Leukemans and Dominique Cornu.

The official Endless Cycle review is:

I give it four positives. “+ + + +”

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Are the three Grand Tours good for cycling in the USA?

December 23, 2006

The three Grand Tours have a big edge in the power game over the ProTour. They have quantity and quality on their side being the organizers of 11 of the 27 ProTour events.  The eleven events contain some of the most prestigious cycling races on the calendar.

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 The Grand Tour planning session

Well, the UCI is looking like they are going to try to remove one advantage, quantity.  Pat McQuaid is making noises of a global ProTour.  One notable stop, the United States.

“I wouldn’t say it is a long way away,” he stated. “The initial idea of the ProTour was to assist in the globalisation of the sport, to bring the sport at the highest level into as many markets as is possible. It was natural at the beginning that it could only be done at a European level, letting things develop there initially. Once that was done, we could then see what interest there is in bringing the ProTour to foreign shores.”

USA cycling wasted no time in helping Pat decide where to put another ProTour event. Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling:

“This forward-looking vision and direction from the UCI is exactly what is required for professional cycling to reach new markets and grow in stature and popularity worldwide. We are very supportive of the vision for the sport expressed by Mr. McQuaid and believe that the U.S. is perfectly positioned and prepared to be a player in the expansion of the ProTour outside of its present structure.”

Obviously the Tour of California will not rival the Giro, Tour de France, and Vuelta any time soon but if you want to dilute someone’s power, dilute thier market share.