Category Archives: pro cycling

Paolo Bettini

Wow – First stage of the Giro d’Italia yesterday. Incredible course down along the “toe” of Italy. I’ve been through the Strait of Mesinna (n.b. – it’s always a “Strait”, as in the “Strait of Gibraltar”, “Strait of Hormuz”, “Strait of Malacca”, “Strait of Juan de Fuca”, ’cause there’s only one way through. Easy to spot the folks who don’t actually read charts, ’cause you’ll hear them talking about going through the “Straits”. Sorry for the rant) between Sicily and Italy, and it was incredible. There were tiny (about 4′ long) Med dolphins playing in the bow wave on the sonar dome, and more ferries than I could count heading between insanely beautiful villas built into the side of the limestone cliffs rising out of azure waters. The first stage was all that and a decent (1500′) climb, all about twice as fast as I could possibly go.

Bettini took a flier with about 1 KM to go – the course made a couple of really tight turns, and there was a decent uphill of a couple meters that threw off the sprinters’ teams, and he was able to take the stage and the Maliga Rosa. How cool is that – Olympic Gold last year, and his first Giro stage win this year? With the Pro Tour bringing all the big teams (if not all the big names) to Italy this year, the Giro has a whole new level of cool cycling cred – everyone watches le Tour; only the cool kids watch the Giro.

4 miles along Burma Trail today, 32 ish minutes. I’d be happy, ‘cept the two miles back were tough. Yeah, yeah – almost 8 minute mile average. Frankly, I’m ecstatic at the progress I’ve made.

And Dianna – I did register for the Bluff Point run. Signed up for the 7.4 mile “Long Loop”. I’ve done the section on Bluff Point proper pretty frequently, but haven’t extended out to Haley farm. May have to go preview later this week.

Wuss

Is what Houston Bill would be calling New England Bill. (New England Bill would counter “lardass”, but that’s neither here nor there)

Why all the harshing? ‘Cause today was hot. Seems like we jumped straight into summer. Lunchtime run was 5 miles in about 43 minutes in a temp of about 80 degrees. I wanted to do the 5.4 that I did last Tuesday, but the relative heat really did a number on me. Blah. Still it’s a 5 mile run at better than a 9 minute pace, so I’ll keep it. ‘Especially since I’ve only got 4 days left to run 15 miles to hit 20 for the week.

Tuesday was a rest day after Monday’s bike ride. As pumped as I was after the ride, I didn’t realize how much it’d taken out of me until I started waking up Tuesday morning. I wasn’t sore, just really, really tired. I grabbed a decent breakfast (coffee and granola bars), and headed out the door. By 10 I was starving. Like crazy hungry. I was hungry all day – must have really tapped into fat stores by pressing past my typical endurance threshold and going about 90 minutes instead of my regular 40. Again, I wasn’t sore, per se, but I was starved. I did avoid the monster, though.

Five is still the new three – today’s run, while tough, was not a huge stretch. Tough, but just right.

Responses: Jon – I do the shorts and jersey for much the same reason I do running shorts and shoes when I run. Good gear takes away at least one excuse. I do not, however, go whole hog for current team kit. Why? ‘Cause I’m cheap. I’ve got a couple of beer jerseys, a UTexas jersey (family connections, not that I went there), and a couple of jerseys from the team I rode with in Houston. I am, however, thinking of picking up a Kappa/Saeco 2004 jersey
1) It’s got trucker chicks on the sleeves
2) Saeco makes coffee makers. I like coffee
3) I was a Kappa (frat boy) in college
4) Cippolini rode for Saeco. Gilberto Simeoni rode for Saeco. Cunego rode for Saeco.
5) My shiny road bike is a Cannondale
6) Saeco’s not sponsoring the team any more, so it’s like a Houston .45’s or Brooklyn Dodgers jersey.
7) Did I mention they make coffee makers?

Susan rocks. Running to the gym is oh-so-much-cooler than driving. (But driving still beats the snot out of sitting on the couch)

Warren – I’m pretty aggressive about “On your left”-ing as appropriate. And as a rule, I avoid “multi-use” paths when cycling. Multi-use is f’n hazardous, especially when you’re talking orders of magnitude differences in speed such as between bikes and runners/walkers especially. My gripe was about peds randomly wandering off the sidewalk onto an actual street, like in a downtown kind of area. In the case of your running group, a stick to the spokes (of the rear wheel for safety’s sake) would likely be appropriate if there was no warning.

Chris – sucks to be you :). Lance? I’m really not disappointed that he’s retiring. He won the Tour six times. As I see it, he had two choices: retire, or go completely psycho this year and next and try to do a year in the mold of Eddy Merckx, trying to win everything from the spring Classics to the Giro, the Tour, and the Vuelta. While I am completely amazed at his drive and success, and could care two shakes if he’s really a jerk or not, and admire his contributions both to the cancer community and cycling in general, Armstrong’s continued presence in cycling brings the words of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham to mind: “Strikeouts are boring, and besides that they’re facist. Throw some ground balls. They’re more democratic.” What that means, I don’t know, but it seems appropriate.

Tyler – Frankly, this breaks my heart. First, it took the USADA way to long to rule on the case. Second, there’s a decent amount of dissent to his 2 year suspension. BUT on the whole issue of doping, I’m completely in favor of failing really conservative. IMO, it’s better to ban some innocents with freaky blood from sport than to risk letting some cheats through. Yeah. Register all the mutants. In any case, it’s not like sport is something that requires equal access – by definition, almost everyone in the world is excluded from being a professional athlete by some genetic reason. I’d still like to think that Tyler is innocent – I cannot fathom someone making as big a deal out of charitable foundations as he or Lance do, hold himself out as a poster child for youth racing, etc, and risk staining all the people he touches by cheating. Call me naive, but people that evil just do not exist in my America.

Lee – Sorry for leaving you out. Warren’s really got me thinking about the whole ped thing and wondering if I’ve been one of those riders who turn people off from cycling. And I really hope not.

He’s completely right, though, that the responsibility for looking out and avoiding conflict really does fall on the cyclist. I don’t know that you need baseball cards in your spokes, or a bell or horn, but do be vocal early. And I’d even recommend taking some time to learn how to jump curbs, ride on grass/gravel/dirt, and even practice taking a dive off the bike at a decent speed to avoid hitting pedestrians.

TTFN!

Death, Taxes, and

me blowing off another run… Sore from yesterday’s sprint, and busy as a beaver. Whatever. There are good things to discuss – namely:

1) Am I the only one who’s completely frustrated with the US Income Tax Code? A BS in Engineering, an MBA, no real wacky finances, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what a “high deductible insurance plan” is and if it covers me, the entire family, or is just a typo on a W-2. Sheesh.

2) Paris-Roubaix. I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one, but I just got around to watching my OLN tape tonight. And WOW. I guess I’d never really appreciated how fierce, narrow, and nasty the cobblestone sections up there in northern France were. Absolutely amazing. I have no excuses the next time I let weather and conditions keep me indoors.

American George Hincapie finished second to Belgian Tom Boonen (former USPS teammate of Hincapie) in a sprint in the Roubaix velodrome, largely due to Boonen being the latest young Belgian to channel Eddie Merckx better than Axel, and to Boonen growing up in a country where a majority of the population doesn’t look askance when you say “Velodrome”. (heh – OS X’s spell-check function just flagged velodrome. Stupid Americans). Big wrecks, pain, suffering, wailing, gnashing of teeth all taking place at upwards of 25 MPH.

Hincapie’s post-race interview in Velonews is good stuff: I had tunnel vision the whole way to Roubaix, and I thought I rode a perfect race, and in my mind I was going to win. I had a vision of the race in my head the whole winter and it went pretty much the way I had envisioned it… except for the final 150 meters.

3) Tour de Connecticut route is announced: Friday, 20 May – Crit on the New Haven Green, 6 PM. Good chance I’ll drag the boy(s?) down provided I can ditch work kind of early. Saturday – Waterbury Climber’s cup – Sounds fascinating, might be worth a trip, provided I can figure out where the heck Waterbury is. Sunday is 135 miles through Litchfield county, with Torrington hosting the finish. An old jeep I used to drive had issues with the Litchfield hills – I cannot imagine what they’d be like on a bike.

So that’s that – minor setback, but the weight’s staying off, fitness is at least static, and I’ve diverted my mental river to washing out some personal stables. Epic runs should recommence here soon; focus is still on a marathon this fall, so I’m in limbo until the end of June. As long as I don’t relapse, I should be fine.

Random Monday Bits

Weigh in: 169 this morning! First time I’ve seen the light side of 170 since 1998, I believe. Though I may have been 165 during my last attempt at marathon workups, before adding about 30 lbs during a sympathy pregnancy.

Pro Cycling: Bobby Julich won the Criterium International over the weekend. I don’t have much cogent to say, other than to point out that he won Paris-Nice this year, and is having a bang-up year after having a lot of folks say he should have quit after last year. Bobby Julich is rapidly becoming to American cycling fans this year what Tyler Hamilton was last year – the cool, indie alternative to fealty to Lance Armstrong. Plus, he rides a cool Canadian bike.

Haven’t watched the entire tape yet, but the final climb on Sunday (before the time trial – these guys are nuts; a mountain stage and a time trial on the same day) was a thing of beauty. A 4 man break featuring CSC’s Julich and Ivan Basso (a stud in his own right; remember the Pyranees last July?), Jorge Jasche; and Thomas (Don’t call me Eric – stole that from the TDF Blog) Dekker on the final climb. Each rider was at redline, each attempted several escapes, and Dekker finally was able to chase down Jasche and cross the line in first. Huge effort, tactically beautiful, great racing.

I was down on OLN after they essentially dropped cycling from their lineup after the 2004 tour. But I’ll go ahead and say that their hour and a half show every Sunday rocks. Much as I’d like live coverage of everything, Bob Roll and the Brits doing kind of a weekly “CyclingCenter” is working out pretty well. If they’d add live coverage of the Giro and the Vuelta, I’d be completely satiated.

Random Bike Bits: I started stripping the paint off of my old Trek frame this weekend. It doesn’t want to come off easily at all. Part of the problem could be the cold – I was doing it outside with the temps in the 40’s, but I think the biggest contributor is the generally fine paint job that was on the bike. But it’s exciting to watch the steel emerge from under the yellow. The biggest lesson learned, though, is that the chainstay protector should come off before you start the stripping process…

Well Enough Alone

Pool’s closed today, so it looks like I’m running on the way home. But that’s not why I’m here. THis is:

The folks who sponsor Milan – San Remo are a bit disturbed that it ended, again, with a group sprint. So they’re looking to change the route, to add a couple more mountains so the sprinters, most of whom are notoriously bad climbers, can’t drive the race at the end.

They’ve done this before, apparently. The Poggio and the Cipressa are two pretty decent hills near the end that were added in the 60’s to shuffle up the results a bit. And it’s not unheard of to re-route races just to keep them interesting.

But in this case, I’m a bit upset. Petacci yesterday had to make a heck of a ride for a sprinter to be in position to make his final push. Yes, there’s positioning and strategy involved to box out some more pure climbers, but there are classics that they can dominate. Granted, most of them are up in the rain in Belgium, but whaddya want?

Milan – San Remo

I’ve mentioned it before, but I completely dig pro cycling. It’s the combination of history, guts, beauty and bright colors really sucks me in. Today’s Milan-San Remo race had absolutely everything necessary to make one for the history books – a potentially successful breakaway, epic climbs with cool names, breathtaking scenery, and a passing of the guard (kind of).

I’ll leave the real wrap up to folks who know a bunch more than I do, but if you want to see pure, unadulterated expression of determination and power, take a look at the face of Alessandro Petacci, the race winner, as he’s approaching the finish line. He’s leading a group of about 20 of the fastest non-motorized men in the world (and I think that’s not hyperbole – the cyclists are nothing but human powered) and he’s opening a gap as he approaches the end.

The passing of the guard really happened a year or two ago, but today rocked. Mario Cippolini, the coolest man on earth, was in the bunch for the finishing sprint, but didn’t really figure at the end. But the dude’s 38 and still figuring in a race after over 6 hours in the saddle.

Oh, crap

One more, then I swear, it’s to bed:

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Coming to you (not quite) live, it’s

PARIS-NICE!

See:
– Lance Armstrong!
– About 200 men in tights!
– Bicycles that cost more than every car I ever owned in my first dozen years of driving combined!

Hear:
– English guys commentating on cycling sounding much like the Spanish futbol announcers!
– Bob Roll!

Me? My goal for the weekend is to get a bike in working condition, oil up the rollers, and watch and ride. Hopefully there will be no riding off the rollers and into the basement wall this time.