Archive for the ‘Bike Stories’ Category

Training with Todd occasionally requires significant patience,  because I am a ‘tard.

This week Julie Haight, who was clearly desperate for a riding partner, convinced me to skip out of work a bit early in exchange for a couple of fabulous hours out on the road.  This turned out to be the perfect Carolina blue day with a slight breeze, sunshine and 72 degree temps.

I show up early and find Julie already getting ready to go.  The bike is retrieved from the back of my Jeep, tires are pumped up, water bottles in.  Check, check, check…

…CRAP, I forgot my cycling shoes and my helmet – I left them in my car at home.  I get the Jersey Girl look as I speed off to retrieve them.

Twenty minutes past the agreed start time, we head off.  Thankfully, my faux pas is laughed about.  The ride was perfect.  It was one of those days where the other person pushed you just a bit when you were tired and vice versa.  2.5 hours pass very quickly and we just make it back as the sun is setting.

I pull up next to the Jeep.  HOLY CRAP, I have the key to my car in my jersey pocket.  I locked my keys in the Jeep.  Julie, can you give me a ride home to retrieve my spare key?  <imagine a somewhat laughing Jersey Girl look here>  Ugh no that won’t work, my apartment key is in the Jeep.  I ring my son to come over and unlock the Jeep.  He needs an hour.

How about a quick Mexican dinner while we wait for the unpaid locksmith? I realize that I don’t have any shoes as we walk in.  We meet Coach and Mrs. Daren and, of course, recap the entire series of doofy moves with a Margarita.  Oh by the way, I also left my wallet in the Jeep – can you pay?


Leave Your Underwear At Home

Posted: February 27, 2011 in Bike Stories

How many times have you wanted to point out to a fellow cyclist that wearing underwear under cycling shorts is just not done?

It doesn’t matter if you are wearing granny pants or something very small, it is easy to tell they are there.  Yes, that’s right, everyone behind you can tell that you have them on and will immediately assign you to the rookie category which will be very difficult to overcome.

Cycling shorts – those with a built in ‘chamois’ – are built to be worn commando. Period. Stretchy shorts without a chamois are not cycling shorts – these are horrible and pointless for riding.

The big issue for me is exactly how do I bring it up to someone who has yet to catch on?  Most often the rider is female and my typical strategy is to speak to an experienced and tactful female cyclist and ask her to quietly break the news to the uninformed.

When I have to give the speech I usually begin with comfort and explain that cycling shorts are built without seams in the wrong places which would cause chafing.  Also, chamois material is smooth and slick, which both reduces friction, hence more comfort and fewer ‘issues’, and is designed to ward away germ warfare.  The rule of thumb is to wash cycling shorts after EACH ride.

Please, for your own sake, leave your underwear at home.

Spanish cycling officials have successfully wrestled every instinct to look the other way and finally proposed a one-year ban for Alberto Contador for failing a Tour de France doping test.

If adopted by the UCI, Contador would lose the 2010 Tour title because of the positive clenbuterol result he blames on contaminated meat.

Clenbuterol is banned because it causes an increase in aerobic capacity, central nervous system stimulation, and an increase in blood pressure and oxygen transportation. It increases the rate at which body fat is metabolized, simultaneously increasing the body’s BMR.

I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like Clenbuterol may help a cyclist improve performance.  Except that, in this case, Alberto says he just happened to be near Spain and asked his team soigneur to get him some of that incredibly good Spanish beef for dinner following a Tour stage.  So the guy dutifully drives to Spain to pick up a steak for Bert – not anyone else on the team, just Bert.  And, this steak just happened to be tainted with Clenbuterol.

Every cyclist has claimed some crazy, far fetched story as to why they failed a test.  But, you have to give a high score for creativity to Bert on this one.

Once again I say, I do not like Bert.  He is a tool.  A one year ban does not seem like enough and I hope the UCI reminds the Spanish Cycling Federation about the need to protect the sport not just individual riders.

It is, however, poetic justice that he is being stripped of his title.  He completely took advantage of Andy Schleck when he dropped his chain on the “Jalabert” climb last year.

I say, Congratulations Andy On Your Tour de France Victory!

Oh, and later Bert..


Previous Post About Our Friend Bert:

Tools Eat Beef

Amoral Victory

Gaining A Great Chance To Win Vs Losing The Chance To Win Greatly

Contador Is A Tool




You Deutsche?: Ciao

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Bike Stories

Laboring to finish the climb from Vinci up to San Baronto Italy, I heard the clear sound of silk tubulars coming up behind me.  Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

I was expecting one of the young svelte Italian pros, with perfect Greco-Roman curls, whom I had seen riding in perfect formation earlier in the day.

Coming ’round the corner I see a 60ish, pot-bellied, signore atop a vintage Italian steed.  He rides up aside me, clearly within himself, while I struggle for the ability to converse.

“You Deutsche?” he asks.  “No, me Americano,” I offer.  For the next three or four minutes we banter back and forth about Agriturismo in Montespertoli, The Empoli soccer club, and Bianchi bicycles.  This was amazing, considering that I speak about 8 Italian words and he about 10 English words.

Suddenly bored of the pace and/or the conversation, he stands and presses a bit on the pedals and shouts, “ciao” as he quickly pulls away.  Unable to just let this go, I vainly attempt a recovery and rally to hold his wheel.  This lasts about 60 seconds before the explosion occurs on this 12% climb.

This guy was likely a cycling pro in the 70’s, racing the Giro d’Italia, who then retired to the serenity of the Tuscan mountainside vineyards.  Regardless, it still hurt that he was old and round and on a vintage machine – when he dusted me.

This day began for me on my rented Bianchi.  I picked this up in Florence and was very frustrated that it was affixed with a triple crank.  Starting out at the Gelato store in Vinci, within minutes, I was glad to have it as I headed up the short route to San Baronto.  Not quite warmed up when the climb began, this hurt.  Struggling, I turned around and headed back down.

For about an hour I enjoyed the roads in and around the vineyards which produce the perfect Da Vinci Chianti.  Working up the courage, I once again attempt the San Baronto climb – this time up the steeper side.

After my Consigliere damaged my manhood, I managed to finish the climb and enjoy the incredible view from atop.  On the other side of town, I realized that, on my first attempt, I had turned around one turn or 50m from the top.  I got the last laugh on this irony as I turned downhill and opened it up for a death-defying descent.

I completed the perfect April day in Tuscany with the perfect Caramel Gelato.

Once again I date myself.  Yes, I am old enough to have followed the Red Zinger, which became the Coor’s Classic bicycle stage race in Colorado.

The really old dudes, like Jack Earley, call it the Zinger (yea, the tea company sponsored it).  I call it the Coor’s.

This race was so much fun to attend.  In the early 80’s my friend Steve Tilford was the national champion at MTB and cyclocross.  He also was a seriously good pro for the Raleigh team.

Many summers I made my way to Colorado to hang out with Steve and his teammates – Andy Hampsten, Thurlow Rogers, Roy Knickman and many others.  I actually bought a Raleigh 753 frame built in Nottingham England from Andy Hampsten.  Yeah, the same Andy who won the Giro d’Italia.  and, yeah, I still have the bike.  Andy needed gas money.

One of my favorite stories is from 1985.  Bernard Hinault had just won the Tour de France with Greg Lemond’s help.  The La Vie Claire team came to Colorado in support of Greg.  Andy Hampsten was the big hope from the Levi’s Raleigh team, having just won a stage in the Giro d’Italia. It was going to be a HUGE show down.  The Levi’s Raleigh team and half of Colorado was pulling for Andy and the rest for LeMond.

Everyone knew where the race would be won or lost on a mountain stage from Golden up to Ward and Nederland and in to Boulder on highway 6.  This was the showdown.

Out in Colorado before the race started, Steve, Roy, Thurlow, Bob Roll, Andy and me all took off from Golden to ride the stage.  The team practiced setting up Andy to launch his attack on Hinault and LeMond. My job in the practice was to act like a big sprinter who would immediately get dropped.  I hung on for dear life, but OMG these guys were sooo damn fast.  I was the first one to pop, but watched as Andy popped everyone else up the road.  Funny, but I remembered Bob Roll as a goof, as opposed to an incredibly funny and brilliant commentator.  I do remember riding into Boulder as my speedometer tipped 65 mph.  Sixty-five feels like a million on one-inch bicycle tires.

The actual stage began in the Coor’s Brewery parking lot in Golden.  Despite my allegiance to Andy and the Levi’s Raleigh team, I couldn’t help but to ask Hinault for an autograph.  He was an ass.  Greg was very excited the morning of the big stage and we had a nice chat about racing le Tour.  Earlier in the year, I had attended a cycling camp with Greg and Steve Bauer.  I think he may sort have remembered me.

The attacks came early.  Tilford’s job was to drive the pace early and very hard.  He was great.  Andy launched his attack.  He was valiant.  Honestly, I do not remember exactly what happened after this, but Andy did not make up enough time on LeMond, who went on to win the overall general classification.

But, I was there man and practically helped to almost help Andy win.  Or something like that.  It surely was fun to be a legitimite hanger-on back in the day.




Wow!  I went downtown for a preview workout on the Real Ryder bikes at the HEAT studio.  These bikes rock (literally).  My core is in serious need of a tuning and these bikes gave me that.


I was honored to be invited to the “instructor” training this morning.  Yikes!  I did an hour on the Real Ryder then 2.5 hours on the road bike.  My legs are shot.

I am not sure what happened, but I was actually pondering a run after my ride today. Perhaps I am becoming an athlete again???  I hope so.

Regardless, I am headed to regular workouts at HEAT.  This concept totally works for me.



OMG!  It was so very close to a near death experience.

Picture this…  The Sunday ride is happening.  Three guys have “broken away” from the main pack and are hauling tail down Big Woods.  (OK, really Max is pulling and I am sucking wheel and a Rich Jones is behind me)

But, regardless, the three of us are alone at about 26 mph.  Coming towards us is an amateurish flat bed pick up truck stacked with about 40 hay bales.

When….yeah, you guessed it, a bale drops off and tumbles right toward us.  It couldn’t have missed me by more than a foot, but it grazes Rich.

My life flashed before my eyes.  (It was more of a comedy than a tragedy)  Truthfully, I was certain that we had all bought it.  One false twist of fate or a millisecond difference in timing and we would have all been toast.

The amateur farmers who stacked this truck stopped behind us and picked up the remnants, while we collected ourselves a bit up the road.  I am serious, this was friggin’ close to a disaster.

I wish I could tell you that I had some cerebral moment of clarity, found the meaning of life, or experienced singularity with karma.  The hay bail just missed me and my buddies – I could have died, but I didn’t.  I didn’t learn anything or feel anything special other than contempt for the buffoons who stacked the hay, so poorly, on that truck.  This was yet another near miss while on my bike.

It sounds like I am getting used to this… How sad is that?

Coach Said Do 50

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Bike Stories

The usual Sunday ride heads out at 9 am and does a nice figure eight around Big Woods and back home.  We have been doing this loop for several months and call it 50ish miles.

This Sunday had the same route, but with a perfect cast of characters.  We had even numbers and a lot of folks who were interested it really burning some fat.  Translation – they wanted to go slow.  This really works for me, as I am in serious need of some fat burning time on the bike.

After all the caveats about pace and distance and such, Lisa W. set off with us for her first 50 miler.  Lisa has really become a cyclist in a short period of time.  She just has that look on the bike like she is going to be great some day.  She also had the coolest matching kit I have ever seen.  We are talking about seriously matching pink and light purple.

Of course, we had to go fast for a bit on Big Woods and then again on 64.  The near death experience will be told tomorrow.  Most of us are either new or were seriously depleted from day after day of training.  So, the last few miles were very slow.  We were all equally trashed.

Pulling back into the shop, of course the OCD mileage managers were looking at their computers.  they saw and called out 47.8 miles…not 50.  Is this a tragedy? Well, apparently to Lisa it was.  Her coach – that would be Stacey Richardson – had scheduled 50 for her this day.

She had to ride the extra 2.2 miles.  Sadly, everyone in the group felt compelled to go with her.  We rode up the steep hill then back down again, and still had to do an extra loop before chucking the bikes at the cars.  All of us discussed how silly it was, yet we all did it.

Funnier still is that three guys got separated from us and finished early.  When we returned we discovered that at least one had ridden loops in the parking lot until he also hit 50 miles.

This is a compulsion.  Is there really a training difference between 47.8 and 50?  I doubt it.  But, it matters.  It matters because the coach said do 50.

Mike and Jane have hosted many epic weekends at Beamanland.  Personally, I may prefer the more tranquil days as they are a bit more special.

Just about everyone reading this will know Mike and will likely recall a few crazy stories.

Mike has over-served me, knocked my eye out of the socket when flung from the tube, totally kicked my ass on the bike, overfed me and talked me in to all kinds of crazy adventures.  Each and every single time, he was smiling and made me smile, too.

For most of us, Mike is THE EXPERT.  He has excelled at dozens of events for decades and still gets it done and he is more than willing to take time to chat and sort out any number of thoughts from the silly to the extraordinary.

Because of this he gave me the greatest compliment I may have ever had on Saturday.  He told me that I was one of the funnest people he has ever ridden with because I am amazingly smooth and steady.  This came following a 50+ mile ride in a near hurricane.  Not exactly ideal conditions in which to be smooth and steady.

Thanks Mike!  Thanks for being such a great host, cycling advocate, expert, morale officer and friend.  I appreciate our friendship a great deal. I love you man.

Au Revoir Professeur Fignon

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Bike Stories

Today is a very sad day for cycling as Laurent Fignon lost his long battle with cancer.

He was known as the Professor, due to both his spectacles and his bookish demeanor.  Laurent was a tough tough guy.  At the same time, he really enjoyed the finer things in life and had his own sense of style and grace that is uncommon in superstar athletes around the world.

I followed his travels and tribulations closely in the early 80’s whilst he was winning his two Tour de France Titles.  Perhaps the demon of losing to LeMond in 1989 by a mere 8 seconds has died with him.

In the 80’s I was a serious, yet mediocre, bike racer.  However, I did have the style part down and Fignon showed us how.  I had to have the Cinelli 1R Stem, and Campione del Mondo bars and yellow cable housing just like his.  I even had these very Mavic wheels.

Actually, I still have all of this stuff and I always will, because I am still trying to be like Laurent Fignon.  Today, the world is missing a graceful, talented, hard-working, fine example of a human.

Au Revoir Professor.