Articles from May 2010



Family leaves San Francisco heading south – way south.

I happened to run into a couple of heavily laden bikes with some rather interesting signage while on my commute home.  Signage that claimed these folks were on their way towards South America on bike.  I seized on the opportunity to get a quick interview with them.  The full audio is available here in mp3 format:

[Text transcript of interview]

Ross Del Duca: We’re here at the Caltrain station at 4th & King in San Francisco and we’ve got a couple of heavily laden bikes that just made their way off the train.  What are you names?

Jessica: I’m Jessica.

Antonio: I’m Antonio.

Ross: I see you’ve got a couple of other passengers, who are they?

Jessica: Twins

Antonio: Sophia and Tonio

Ross: And so, what are you guys starting today?

Antonio: Today we’re starting our way down the coast of the United States and the coast of Mexico through Baja and into central America.  And we’re not really sure how far into south America but that general direction.

Ross: Are you doing it entirely on the bikes I see in front of us?

Antonio: Both the same, yea.

Ross: So, have you done long trips like this before?

Jessica: This is our first one.

Ross: This is your first one?  That’s amazing

Antonio: We didn’t know much about bicycles like three months ago.

Ross: Oh really?  That’s incredible.  So what prompted you to take this on?

Antonio: We were running a hostel in Las Vegas.

Jessica: We had a guest named Mark Doherty, and he was cycling around the world.

Ross: Oh interesting…

Antonio: It was interesting to hear his adventures, and follow him on his blog.  We have our own blog now and also we want to start our own hostel.  We didn’t really like Las Vegas, it wasn’t for us.  So we’re kinda hoping that a South American beach somewhere will be our home.   We like that kind of living where we live at home and clean up after people and meet people…

Antonio & Jessica: laughs

Antonio: The cleaning up is just part of the job.

Jessica: It’s like traveling without having to go anywhere.

Ross: Nice.  Anything else that you’d like to let people know before we sign off here?

Antonio and Jessica together: Check us out on FunkyMonkeyFamily.com

Ross: Excellent.  Thank you very much.

Antonio and Jessica together: Thank you.

Don’t let their relative newness to cycling fool you though.  These are definitely not folks who just jumped on their bikes and started pedaling.  In fact, if you check out their list of gear purchased for their trip, you see some very smart purchases.  Their pair of Surly Long Haul Truckers are, to some, the very definition of touring cycling.  They have clearly done their homework.

Another interesting tidbit picked up after the recorder was turned off: they were actually starting their ride in San Francisco following a Critical Mass ride.

So join me in wishing Antonio, Jess and the twins a safe, interesting and enjoyable trip.  I know I’ll be following their blog with interest.

Landis creates another doping scandal – without a single positive test

It is with both frustration and great satisfaction that I watch the madness unleashed by Floyd Landis’s accusations of doping.  Despite my previous post to the contrary, I do in fact have opinions on this issue.

The frustrating/satisfying part for me, however, is the sheer number of investigations that have started as a result of his allegations.  I find it frustrating that the major headlines on cycling are again broadcasting to the mainstream audiences the idea that cycling is a drug-riddled sport.  However, it is satisfying to see the ghusto with which the cycling governing bodies are moving to address the accusations – to either confirm or deny the claims being made.  As stated in a VeloNews.com posting:

For Armstrong the U.S. anti-doping agency (USADA) has been mandated to carry out a probe while McQuaid has also asked the Belgian federation to probe the claims concerning Bruyneel.

The federations of Australia, Canada and France have also been asked to investigate after Landis’ claims respectively implicated professional Matthew White, Michael Barry and John Lelangue, Landis’s former manager at the Phonak team, who now manages the BMC team.

That’s a whole lotta organizations, doing a whole lotta investigation, all without the impetus of a single positive test taken from a rider at this time.  If this doesn’t show that the cycling world is serious about stamping out PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) than I’m not sure what will.

Family takes it “easy” biking along the California Coast

You may not have heard of them before, but you’ve really got to check out The Woodward Family.  I honestly do not recall how I found these folks initially, but their blog details a ride they did together across the United States – from the east coast to the west coast.  Right now (yes – possibly this very minute) they’re at it again – only this time they are traveling the California coast line.  They are posting blog entries, videos and photos along the way.   You can also keep track of their travels via twitter feeds @zachwoodward and @somewhereonabike.

Join me in wishing them the best of luck, no flats, safe roads and tailwinds all the way.

Orgy of cycle racing over. Now what?

Well, we’ve wrapped up both the Amgen Tour of California, and the Giro d’Italia.  Both had some amazing stages, with final results that could easily be thought of as surprises by some.  But now that I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to catching the live Giro footage uber-early, and then following that up with the California events, I can’t help but feel like I just got fired and am now unemployed.  I mean, how will we all spend our days now?

Well, I’m sure we’ll adjust.  For me, it is time to ramp up the training for my wife and I’s Seattle to Portland ride in mid July.  And of course there is my real job.  I’m sure I can put an hour or two a week into that now that I’ve got more free time (Yes, coworkers, that was a sarcastic joke.)

I think more than anything, however, I’m going to begin plotting and scheming about the possibility of traveling to every stage of the Tour of California next year.  I learned a thing or two about following, capturing and writing about a major stage race.  I’ve got big ideas for next year – so we’ll have to see how things pan out.  So to all of those that enjoyed the california sun (and rain) with me this year – good times.  Hope to see you next year if not before then.

Safe riding, and keep those cow bells ringing.

Chechu Rubiera with significant road rash after crash

The evening after the crash that completely disrupted the start of Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California, reports were coming in about some of the other riders.  Of course, news of Lance Armstrong was quick to come to light.  In fact, Bicycling magazine even came out with video of the conversations between Lance Armstrong and Johan Buryneel – filmed from the team car – from the point of the crash to the decision for Lance Armstrong to abandon.

Unfortunately – but not surprising for the Lance-centric American media coverage of cycling – details on the other riders were few and scarce.  Sometime after 9pm, details on another Radio Shack rider that was taken out in the crash – Chechu Rubiera – appeared on twitter from the @TeamRadioShack stream:

Update: Chechu is very banged up & covered with road rash, but he was managing a smile at dinner and looked to have a good appetite!

Not long after that – Viatcheslav Ekimov posted a photo of the very much road rashed Chechu:

Chechu's road rash after Stage 5 crash.

At this point I’ve not been able to find out the status of Stuart O’Grady – another rider that abandoned – or to get a list of all the riders that were unable to complete the stage due to injuries in that crash.  Unfortunately I think the noise created by Floyd Landis and his accusations of pretty much anyone in American pro cycling that he has ever had contact with probably derailed the coverage of thiseven more than the fact that Armstrong involvement normally would have.

Chrissie Wellington to make guest appearance at Tour of California time trial

Triathlete & champion chrissie Wellington

Yup – you read that right.  According to IronMan champion Chrissie Wellington’s blog, she has secured herself a guest slot in the time trial stage of the Amgen Tour of California to be held in LA.  Very cool….

Latest news on Floyd Landis

I dug long and hard and finally came across the most fitting commentary on the entire Floyd Landis debacle:

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Is 40 the new 30 in the pro peloton?

Sure – there’s always been the older guys in the saddle of the grand tours.  But check out Team Radio Shack roster in the Amgen Tour of California.  You’ve got the guy the media as apparently labeled as “legendarily old” – Lance Armstrong (born September 18, 1971) and Levi Leipheimer (born October 24, 1973) – both into the latter-30’s “Do a beer add and start being a commentator” phase.  Oh but wait – there’s more.  Mr. Armstrong himself was nice enough to point this out in his twitter post:

I’d once again like to thank Jens Voigt for being the oldest in a race that I’m also in. Jens (9/17/71). Me (9/18/71). Hahaha!!

That’s right – my favorite rider in the Tour of California is older still.  But these guys seem to be counting off the days until the magic 40th birthday the way others count the centimeters on a Stage 3 sprint finish.

But the sprinters are still all young bucks – right?  Well, let’s look at the extremely exciting Stage 4 finish.  In third there was the 12 year old Mark Cavendish (well, actually born May 21, 1985). JJ Haedo (born January 26, 1981) pulled second wheel, and the stage win went to Francesco Chicchi (born November 27, 1980).  Hmmmm – looks like the older guys were faster to me.

Maybe bike riders are like wine.  I mean – Floyd Landis is an old guy too, and he seems to be pretty good at whining…

Tour of California Stage 3

After some unfortunate logistics I was forced to resort to Vs. television coverage of Stage 2 from Davis to Santa Rosa.  However, I got back on track for Stage 3 – heading out by bus, then train, then another bus from Sacramento to Santa Cruz for the finish.

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Tour of Cali Stage 1

Had a great time hanging out in downtown Sacramento for the finish of Stage 1 of the 2010 mgen Tour of California.  There was the usual lifestyle festival – filled with booths – as well as a men’s and women’s grand prix that took place prior to the arrival of the main pro peloton. I got some video of both the Women and the Men, and of course all 4 passes of the pro peloton as they finished up.

The turn out was great – it felt a just little smaller than last year, but then I realized that last year was a prolog.  So last year all of the spectators were in Sacramento.  This year, some of the spectators were at the start, or along the route, in addition to all the folks hanging out with me at the finish line.  Definitely more folks overall this year I would say.

The final lap of the circuit got pretty dicey.  Some of the exact details are a little sketchy, but best I can tell Boonan was taken out when he crossed wheels with another rider, and then there was another crash – involving more folks near what appeared to be the final turn before the finish.  I watched as JJ Haedo and Cavendish passed me at the 300m line battling it out for the finish – me screaming ‘Saxo’ like a mad man.  Alas Cav pulled it out at the end, with Saxo Bank taking second place.

Unfortunately a nasty combination of logistics and poor planning on my part prevented me from attending any of Stage 2.  I’ll pick this up again at Stage 3.