Monday, November 19, 2007

A deeper look into the sport

Being still new to cycling I often forget how little I know about the sport; both current and even more so historically. I never followed professional cycling even remotely up until five years ago when a college girlfriend got me into the Tour. Even then though I only watched the tour and still had no idea about the world of pro riding aside from what Phil or one of the other announcers said about it; I checked my overall standings on Yahoo Sports for pete’s sake! I can’t really say that that has changed too much now either, though I do like to get a peak in on what’s going on in the world of the greats and definitely never pass up an opportunity to watch any cycling event on screen. I can’t really say this bothers me too much though either; I’ve never been a huge stat junky and aside from following up on my college sports teams here and there I don’t stress too much about the world of professional sports in general.

Occasionally though, something is brought to my attention that makes me question my lack of enthusiasm for the inner workings of the sport. While right now things are tainted by the doping scandals and bad publicity I am certain there are still a number of underlying sub-plots and emotional stories to go along with the great riders. Today reading the last two posts from BKW was one of those occasions. The two points of view are starkly different, though in the end they both portray the same sense of awe and inspiration on the inner clock-work of the sport of cycling. In my eyes it’s these kinds of accounts that make all the other shit worth it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My next mountain bike

Will without a doubt be a Gary Fisher! I LOVE this!

Fatty Requests a bike...

Fatty gets a bike...

Travis may be my favorite bike brand manager ever! (Also really the only one I have knowledge of but whose counting?)

In reality I'm a long way off on a new mountain bike, but I can dream can't I?

Peer pressure

Kyle at Pedal’n Around wrote a post recently that caught my attention. He talked about how the other blogger/racers are motivating him to get out training and riding. I really need to start blog reading more cause my motivation and training is pretty much zilch at this point. Over the weekend I thought I’d at least get a ride in but nothing panned out and then Sunday I spent the whole day helping the folks and didn’t end up going to Race Pace Cross after all. On top of that I’ve taken on a little part time seasonal gig to pick up some extra cash for the holidays and such as well so that’ll probably take away from the QT with the bike as well. Well, hopefully I’ll manage to get some motivation going here, though I’m a bit worried that the PT work may keep me out of as many cross races as I’d like to be doing. We’ll see.

For now, Kyle will continue to make me feel bad about myself. Thanks Kyle! Ambassadors Peloton

Well, I’ve really done it now. Breaking with historical Racing Union practices I’ve gone and actively sought out sponsorship as a bicycle racer (I use that term “bicycle racer” lightly of course and really I should say as a blogger who races bikes). Well, ok so not really but I’ve joined the Ambassadors Peloton and can’t wait to see where it takes us. The group is surprisingly large; I’m not sure I realized how many other racers in the area had blogs, currently the group stands at 22 members. Not too shabby if you ask me.

In all reality this is more of a grassroots “sponsorship” idea then what is typical and is actually a really great idea. In creating the group Mike May of is looking to bring the big name cycling companies and sponsors to the local racing community where their products are most often being bought and used. When I questioned my teams acceptance of me joining the group Mike responded with a great explanation of the program as can be seen below.

We're a bunch of racers who make our own media. We ought to be rewarded for it.

There's an altruistic angle to it also. The other part of the program is what sponsors must couple with the offers to the Ambassadors. In addition to the promotion they make available to all of you, they're also required to run a promotion for all readers. So they won't just be running ads, they'll be offering something of value to the entire regional racing community. Maybe it's not a huge value - a free water bottle with purchase of a 60-serving canister of some recovery drink, for example. Or a free bike fit through a regional fit pro with the purchase of a new frame. Or a 10% discount to the masses instead of the 60% or whatever they give you. Something that shows they're supporting racing at the local level, not just sponsoring high-profile riders. I'm not letting them just make an offer to you - they have to make an offer to everyone, blog or no blog.

I'm hoping that this translates what the Ambassadors are doing into value for everyone around, which is very different than the current model for sponsored riders, which benefits the rider and the sponsor, often at the expense of the rest of the market (ie, we pay extra markup to cover marketing and advertising expenses). I'm hoping to create some sort of symbiotic ecosphere here, where the economics of sponsorship actually improve with scale, not diminish.

Maybe if you position it like that to your comrades, they won't razz you so much for supporting a capitalist model.

So, there you have it. The Ambassadors Peloton.

I’ll be updating the blog with links to my fellow Ambassadors as well as some cool banners for Be sure to check back soon for the changes.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Haha, Now I REALLY want to race this weekend!

From The Wrob

"Cross is a really fun way to get a kick in the balls"

No cross for the weekend

Well, it looks like I’m going to bail on the Race Pace Cross race in Sykesville, despite the close proximity to my folks house where I’ll likely be lending a hand (and pick-up truck) this weekend. I missed pre-reg which I figured ended to day but it was last night and on top of it I still haven’t even replaced the tire on the cross rig. I spent the week on the fixed gear and Cannondale and each evening when I got home it was either too late or I was too tired to work on it. I also need to do some serious adjustments on the cross bike including taking the drive train apart and cleaning the gunk out that has already accumulated.

I’m a little disappointed here with myself but at the same time I’ve got a laundry list of things to get done this weekend and with my folks moving over the next few weeks and relying on me and my truck for a large portion of help there I feel like I should really be spending my time more productively. This means no races for two weekends in a row; that’s a suck. On the other hand I’ve got plans to go hike the Old Rag trail out near Luray on Monday so the weekend won’t be a total waste. Can’t wait to get out there finally!

Maybe instead of the race I can get myself out on a long ride out in Columbia early Sunday morning while my folks use my truck and then I can lend a hand afterwards. Didn’t ride in today after my legs are feeling completely burned out from this week, but hopefully if I take things easy tomorrow come Sunday I’ll be feeling good again. Good luck to any and all that might be racing this weekend whether at Race Pace or somewhere else!

Or maybe I'll go back on my word here and show up and race anyway. As I'm posting this I'm regretting this idea more; we'll see.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dear Leader's Valiant Effort

One thing I forgot to mention about Sunday’s race was that it was officially Dear Leader’s 2007 cross coming out party followed by his son Ben’s with the little Belgians. No, they’re not batting for the other team or anything (kidding folks) but they both did their first cross races of the 2007 season at Tacchino. The results couldn’t have been much better for them both. Ben actually spent the 2 hours leading up to his race practicing on the course, proclaiming himself to have much skill in the cycling and more importantly cross arenas. He also was not shy in letting me and anyone else around whose butt he was going to be whopping at any given moment. That kid is going to be one hell of a competitor that is for sure. He’s already got my work ethic beat on the grounds of practicing.

On top of all that he refused to go watch his old man race despite hearing his name over the load speaker countless times.

Too funny;

Ben: "Hey, Gibbons is my last name!"

Me: "I know, they're talking about you're old man! Let's go watch him and cheer him on!"

Ben: "He's not old!"

Me: "Oh, sorry. You're right... We should should go cheer him on and help him win!"

Ben: "No, I need to practice."

Me: "Oh, ok."

Ben: "I told him this morning to get in 3rd place." (at this point Gibbons is in 3rd)

Me: "That's cool."

Ben: "Yeah, I told him something else too."

Me: "Oh yeah? What was that?"

Ben: "I'm really good!"

(Can you tell I'm really good with kids?)

Gibbons on the other hand showed that experience and race smarts can trump all else in his tremendous 2nd place podium (which he missed) finish in the 35 + race (either that or direct orders from your 6 year old are definitely NOT to be taken lightly). Talking to him afterwards I felt like I had been racing in a completely different sport; my mind focused on finishing the race or the pain I was in. Race tactics were the last thing on my mind aside from the tactic of keeping my bike on two wheels. I have so much to learn about bicycle racing in general and I can only hope one day to have half the racing smarts and heart these top riders have in their little pinkies.

One final Huzzah! To Dear Leader bringing Glory to the Cause! HUZZAH!

Tacchino Cicli-Kick-My-Ass-Cross

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and state I M-F’in hate (love) cross! Actually what I meant to say was Tacchino Cicli-Cross was flippin’ hard! I’d say it was quite a bit tougher then the DCCX due to the lack of open road sections and the constant grinding and bumping of the agonizing hill sections. The course felt like it was entirely up hill aside from the super fast section on the back where if you didn’t brake at least a little you risked washing out into the woods at what would likely be 30+ miles an hour. Add to that that many of the hill sections weren't just smooth dirt or grass but were like riding miniature moguls were you didn't know whether to sit or stand for the best traction and it seemed which ever you chose was wrong as you bounced along at a painfully slow (and painful) pace up the hills praying for the life of you for some downhill. Not complaining, just saying, this race totally kicked my butt.

At the start I was bit nervous after not having the chance to pre-ride the course and feeling a bit sluggish but after a lap I felt fine aside from the still chilled fingers. I managed to get a spot somewhere around the fifth row, a substantial improvement from dead last at DCCX, though it really didn’t help me out too much when it came down to it. I ended up racing for somewhere between 20th and 25th again, and going into the last lap I was probably right around 20, but after the tough s-turn followed by the run-up I felt my rear tire going squishy. I’m guessing I just hit too hard after jumping a small ditch on the course, but with no spare parts in my collection as of yet I found myself pulling out, throwing down my bike and helmet in frustration and mumbling obscenities that I’m sure all of the fans with small children gathering around at the finish were very grateful to hear. The thought of shouldering the bike and running the final lap occurred to me, but with almost the entire lap to go and a face full of snot and spit I decided to bitch it. It’d probably have taken me 20 minutes to do so anyway and I wasn’t interested in a sudden DFL.

I’m guessing with the way I was dieing John on his single speed would have caught and passed me for the second race in a row and I would have ended up somewhere closer to 25th, but at least I would have finished. Anyway, now I want to spend more money on this god forsaken sport and get some pit wheels. Actually I really want to get a new bike preferably built by someone other then myself that won’t rattle and bang like it’s going to fall apart at any second; then I’d have a pit bike… I need a second job.

Can’t wait to see any pictures that may surface from the race, though with the amount of snot and spittle covering my face you may not be able to recognize me aside from the RU kit. Yum...

Oh and before I forget, three cheers to Squadra Coppi for a tremendous event on a totally brutal and sweet course!




Friday, November 02, 2007

Three Cheers for Beards

I’ve partaken in and witnessed a number of conversations lately revolving around facial hair, specifically mustachios and mutton chops. A friend and I both went the mustache routes separate of one another for our Halloween costumes and now apparently it appears that November is a big month for growing facial hair. The latest talk on pegs it as No Shave Month where everyone is supposed to shave the night of the 31st of October and then not shave for the entire month of November. Now on top of that some other folks are using their mustachio abilities to help raise money for a good cause this month.

It seems crazy to me to know nothing of these types of things as I’m quite experienced in the world of facial hair growth. Aside from a few misdirected razor accidents

I’ve rocked at least a goatee since I was in 8th grade (I was that kid who rolled with heavy peach fuzz on his chin) and in between the growths have ranged from a bushwhackers birds nest beard

to the John B chin strap

to my buddy Mike’s favorite, the goatee with monster chops. Yeah I rocked that sometime around my junior year of high school for a while, though no good digital pics.

So, now I’m kind of itchin’ to do something else, to change things up for the month of the beard. Only question is, what should I do? I kind of wanted to do the chops and handle bar drops stache for my Halloween costume, but I’d been keeping the beard a little to skinny for that. Now as I’m growing in nearly the full cheeks I could probably go ahead and rock that pretty easily. Not that I haven’t done it before but chops are always a good time.

Any thoughts? I thought about trying out a mustachio with the curly-q ends but that’d take too long to grow out. Maybe Halloween next year…

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Disconnected Crisis

It's weird how disconnected you can feel these days when you're not right next to a television or even more so the internet. Last night as I was biking home I heard dozens of sirens blaring in the near distance, including a number of police vehicles speeding past on a nearby street and noticed a helicopter circling above. Obviously something major was going on, though I must admit this is not completely out of the ordinary for my commutes home. Last night however the sirens did seem a bit heavier then the norm.

A lot of times, especially lately without internet or cable at home, my over active mind starts to wander remembering 9/11 and the feelings and everything from the day. I start to wonder if something similar has happened and if so how would I know. My family would likely call, if they found out, though on my bike I'd likely miss the call if they were even able to get through. More then likely I would ride the remainder of the way home and go about my usual business, making dinner doing some laundry and maybe watching a movie while I ate.

Anyway, last night as it turns out there was something going on, though far from the national crisis of 9/11. A few blocks away from where I was riding a police chase, followed by a hostage situation and then a shot criminal was all going down. I'm thankful I was no where near the situation but even more so, I'm glad I continue to choose to ride the trails as opposed to fighting the traffic on Rhode Island Ave. You never know what you'll have have to deal with out there.

Hopefully when the next national crisis occurs I'll manage to be connected enough to know what's going on. On top of that if I happen to be at work, like the Freewheeling Spirit* sure hope I have my bike with me. Then I can avoid pretty much all of the ensuing panic and gridlock that'll go with it. That of course is assuming that whatever might be meant for the Capital doesn't get us at DOL a few hundred yards away.

(*Sorry, I can't access Freewheel blog outside of bloglines to find the post where he discusses his no bicycle dilemma from 9/11 and plans to be sure to have one if something happens again. I'm guess the office doesn't approve of the beautiful women he posts about on occasion, despite the certain approval of his adoring fans ;-)