Category Archives: pro cycling

Cycling Podcasts, 2017 Edition

So, Oomloop Het Newsbladt is up this weekend. Is it road season yet?

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve got a long-ish commute, and, while being in New England means that summer days are beautiful and almost endless, winter evenings are cold, damp, and almost endless, too, so I spend a lot of time in the basement on the trainer watching Zwift go by and pretending I’m actually fit.

Being an American, road bike racing isn’t something that was easy to come by when I was a kid in the ’80s. It was on the radar, since Greg “LeMan” LeMonde was wrecking stuff in Europe, and it’s pretty easy to get on the American news cycle by going and doing anything better than Frenchmen. My first real exposure to cycling was during Armstrong’s post-cancer run and the 7 Tours de France which have been stricken from the history.

Podcasts have played a huge part in my appreciation of Pro Cycling – they’ve filled in the appreciation for the non-Grand-Tour races, non-American teams, and the sport in general. Cillian Kelly deserves a special shout for filling the history gap.

Podcasting about pro bike races is pretty darn effective in a way that it’s not for other sports. For other sports, it’s tough to discern between similar plays if you haven’t seen them – a double play can be turned dozens of different ways, but to really capture each one requires hundreds of words. Most sports commentary is best done with video. Pictures of cycling, though, are pretty similar (unless it’s wrecks).

With a bike race, however, much of the action is actually hidden from the video. I gladly watch hours of shots of the peleton flying past countryside around the world; but it’s tough to pick out How The Race Was Won ™ over a multi-hour race. Different people see different things; and there’s 180 different stories – racers with different schedules, different goals, different skills; any one of whom can be the key to a given race.

Which is why cycling podcasts are the absolute bomb-diggity. The ones I’ll list here have a couple of common threads. Generally, the ones I like also come from people whose writing I also really like – good writers and good speakers. I think all of the ones I’m listing here are group podcasts – see previous paragraph about different people seeing different things. And finally, all of the ones I like are produced by cyclists themselves. Cycling is unique in that it’s much easier to relate to – get out and ride a bike. As soon as you see someone else riding, try to catch them, and it’s a race. That’s kind of reductionist, i know, but when was the last time most of the folks watching the NFL pulled together a pickup game?

So, kind of in order, here’s my six (6) recommendations for cycling podcasts to follow.

  • The Cycling Podcast: Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie, Daniel Friebe, and Orla Chennaoui are all fixtures in the British cycling press. Weekly show, monthly show focusing on women’s cycling, and a “Friends of the Podcast” program which gets you 11 extra episodes (in depth reporting) for about $12/year. Daily shows from the Grand Tours. TCP strikes a great balance between on-the-ground reporting, personalities, and direct relationships to the current pro-riders. They’re a little Sky-heavy, but, eh?
  • The Recon Ride: Dane Cash and Cosmo Catalano (Who I’ve plugged twice already this post) have been doing a pre-Pro Tour race podcast for about a year. They got picked up by CyclingNews this spring. Solid format – race review, team review, and predictions; my only gripe is that they don’t do post-race stuff.
  • The Slow Ride Podcast: This one is a new one for me. I picked them up after US Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford this year thanks to their capturing Jeremy Hyde’s deraileur failure. Only a couple episodes in, but they’ve got the chemistry/rider criteria down really well.
  • The Velocast: The first podcast I paid money for, and haven’t regretted a dime. Scott and John are cranky old Scotsmen. Occasionally get on the ground, but fill the time well. Daily Grand Tour shows, weekly shows otherwise, and an amazing “This Week In Cycling History” with Cillian Kelly.
  • Velonews: Velonews is probably the best US magazine covering bike racing; the crew shines in the podcast. Weekly. They’ve also got a good training/racing bit that comes out weekly. I really hope the magazine can hang on.
  • The Paceline: This podcast doesn’t have a whole lot of pro race content, but I mention it because Elden Nelson (now a fixture on RKP) and Patrick Brady have entertained me with their writing for years, and the podcast has an occasional nugget.

And, while it doesn’t count as a podcast, I’ll recommend GCN as a great source of trainer videos, race reports, and bike culture.

Pshew. Blogging is hard. What did I miss?

Tour de Jank, Stage 9* – Burma Road Hill Repeats

The Ride

The * for today represents me kind of giving up. I’m still owing a cobbled stage for stage 3, and I missed yesterday – bad day at work, and just kind of unmotivated when I got home.

Today, though, I’m energized again – good talk with my supervisor, better talk with his boss, and some clarification of what the heck I’m supposed to be doing that’s largely in line with what I want to be doing. So a setback’s not always a setback, often it’s just a re-direction.

The ride today – Finally got out of the office and onto the roads for a lunchtime set of hill repeats. North on Burma Road, four times up the (very meager) hill at the north end of Burma, each time in an smaller cog starting from granny gear, and back down Burma at about 85% of sustainable effort. Legs felt great, I finished all 4 hill repeats, and I had a negative split on the ride back with an average speed over 20. It’s relatively flat on Burma, and I’m pretty sure there’s no elevation change, but I’ll check that when I pull the ride off of my Garmin tonight.

The Race

“Bastille Day, when 800 rebels stormed a guard of 100, lost 98 men, and freed just 7 prisoners, inspires French tactics to this day.” – @cyclocosm

It’s that time of year, again, where we look outside our borders to the second greatest event in sport, the Tour de France. 21~ish days of French countryside, podium girls, and skinny guys in tights with a tolerance for pain beyond anything an offensive lineman could ever comprehend.

This year’s race is already a classic – Lance Armstrong’s packed at least 8 years of bad luck into his last tour, we’ve seen one of the favorites from Luxembourg taken out by cobblestone roads in northern France that pre-date Napoleon, and the God of Thunder duke it out with a Manx man for the title of fastest man alive.

As the race enters its middle week, it’s just come out of the Alps and will be streaking across the middle of France towards the Pyrenees, where, in the 100th anniversary of the race’s first visit to these mountains, a Spaniard riding for a Kazakh team will try to stay ahead of a small guy from a small country.

And 10 days from now, the race will end with champagne on the Champs d’Elysees.

Next year? I think I’m buying a projector and stringing up a sheet between the trees in my backyard – watch the whole thing with a cold beer sitting in the backyard.

Tour de Jank Stage 6, Jamestown Island

The Ride

Lovely, lovely ride Friday Evening – about 23 MPH around Jamestown Island, 16.9 MPH. The ride’s feeling good – the spin is coming back, and I’m digging on it.

Tonight was almost perfect, ‘cept for locking my keys in the car at the end of the ride, and needing to get Missy to come bail me out. But, sitting and watching the day fade into twilight was perfect.

The Race

CAV! Man, another bunch sprint. Beautiful.

2008 Tour de France

Here’s the deal – I’ve got nothing concrete to say about this year’s Tour de France. In a way, it’s a phenomenal race – after two and a half weeks, there’s seconds separating the top riders, and a couple of time trialists within minutes before a 50km trial on Saturday.

But I’m still kind of cold on the whole thing. All of the leaders have been riding the careful, calculating, race that’s all about waiting for other riders to make a mistake instead of riding away with the race.

But if that’s what a clean Tour looks like, I’ll take it.

Other observations:
Podcasts – The best, by far, is the ITV podcast (search for “ITV Cycling” on iTunes). Great British regulars, and a regular dose of Bob Roll. Today’s stage, stage 18 (day late), started with Phil Sherwin and Johann Bruyneel, and the rest of the commentary is the greatest.

My second favorite is the Bicycling.com podcast with James Start. It’s short, and the production value is terrible, but Start’s got a great combination of wide-eyed wonder and akwardness, highlighted by his handling of the sponsor – the Saab 9-3 Turbo, Born. From. Jets.

The last one I’ve found worth listening is the bikeradar.com podcast. The biggest drawback is the intro and outro by Brad Gibson. He just sounds artificial in a way that isn’t amenable like Start’s. But aside from that, it’s usually pretty good.

***Breaking News***
Astana, Johann Bruyneel’s team, and somewhat a continuation of USPS and Discovery Channel, canned Vladimir Gusev today for abnormal blood chemistry in the team’s internal testing program. Sucks for the Goose, and a bold, bold move by Bruyneel, who wasn’t invited to the Tour despite having last year’s winner.

Another one bites the dust

10 AM Eastern Today. The article’s from l’Equipe, and in French (English translation here), but from what I can gather, it means that there’s another 9 riders going home after Astana’s departure yesterday.

Read it in English here. The CyclingNews bit is nice, as it’s got plausible deniability from Vino – maybe someone else’s blood got into his legs in his earlier crash. Not beyond the realm of possibility, but ….

F$ck.

Update: We can name names now. It’s Cristian Moreni from the French Cofidis team.

Update 2: Another 8 innocent riders have left the tour, as Moreni’s team, Cofidis, withdraws. Neca, over at Weighty Words commented yesterday about how no-one was mentioning that Andreas Kloden, who had been sitting at 5th place in the General Classification got screwed when Astana pulled out after Vinokourov popped positive.

Say it ain’t so, Vino…

F$ck Vino busted for blood doping.

I was all set to, tonight, write about how I was hooked on the Tour again; how the race seemed human again, and about how it was amazing to have seen Vinokourov go down in a huge crash, fight back to form, win Saturday’s time trial, take a rest day on Sunday and concede over 30 minutes to the folks fighting for the yellow jersey, and then come back on Monday’s mountainous stage 14 to take a flier off the front and win the stage in great style.

I was ready to believe again, ready to love professional cycling again.

Now, I think I’m back to just loving my bike, and my bike only.

Dopers suck.

Freakin’ Floyd cannot catch a break.

Tests on the samples at a laboratory in Paris concluded on Sunday with French paper L’Equipe reporting they showed traces of synthetic testosterone.

BBC SPORT | Other Sport… | Cycling | Landis anger at ‘malicious’ tests

I wish I could think about this logically, but I just cannot. If he’s a doper, it’s another hit against him. But the timing is questionable, as is the motives of L’Equipe and the lab after legitimate questions on their impartiality.

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Exit the Diesel

Ullrich retires

Jan Ullrich has finally hung up his bibs, saying he never cheated despite pernicious rumors to the contrary, most of them coming from the Operación Puerto inquiry, apparently headed by a Spanish graduate of the Inspector Clouseau Close Cover Before Striking School of Earning Big Pay Through Crime Detection at Home in Your Spare Time.

So. I’m sad to see him go. Granted, he’s been paid to ride his bike pretty much his entire life, so it’s tough to feel too bad for him, but look at the record:

  • Groomed from pretty much birth to be the greatest cyclist in the world, he’s stymied by an American – no, a Texan – with one nut in his quest to win the Tour more than once.
  • He’s stuck with semi-disfunctional teams most of his career
  • Coming of age as the Iron Curtian is finally lifted, he’s stuck in a newly repressive free world – the life of booze and babes he’s been promised as a semi-celebrity is doubly ganked from him. First, changing mores make that sort of thing only OK for hot heiresses. Second, Mario C had the market cornered on that stuff for most of the 90’s and 2Ks.
  • Last year of his career, he’s suspended on crappy, unsubstantiated charges.

So, here’s to Jan – gonna miss him.

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More freakin’ doping

Man, how deep does the rabbit hole go? The worst bit is that Tom “Boom Boom” Boonen is implicated through association with the team.

“I wanted to finish my career in style, which pushed me to not play the game honestly,” said Museeuw.

… An anonymous team rider reportedly told the newspaper of organized doping and recreational drug use, which he said is able to flourish because the team is helped by informant at the UCI who allegedly warned of impending drug tests.

Quick Step fielding more allegations

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El Grande Giro ‘007 – Licensed to Thrill

Wow, can’t believe I missed this: Giro d’Italia to open on island of Caprera

Next year’s 90th Giro d’Italia will open with a 24-kms team time trial on the tiny island of Caprera off the north coast of Sardinia on May 12 and finish in Milan on June 3, organisers said on Saturday.

Being a submariner, Caprera has fond memories. There’s been a US sub tender at La Maddelena since the end of WWII. The collective wardrooms of the Atlantic Submarine Fleet own a villa on La Madd, where I’ve spent several evenings diligently studying reactor plant operations, tactics, and techniques, as a good, upstanding fighting officer of the US Navy line should.

Oh, internet – I cannot lie to you: We got loaded on local wine and went carousing. What wonderful times, even in the dead of winter.

So, I’ve got tasking: How to get orders cut to La Madd at the end of April/Early May…

Basso signed with Discovery, Puerto seems to be ancient history and ruined careers, and I want to believe again….

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