Articles from July 2010



It is official: Schlecks will be on new team next year

VeloNews.com is reporting that Andy Schleck has officially confirmed that he and his brother Frank will be leaving the team currently known as Saxo Bank at the end of this season.

So, after first reporting that the brothers were leaving, and then reporting that wasn’t certain during the Tour de France, we’ve finally got more concrete, specific information.  Next year we will see a new pro cycling team out of Luxembourg, with Frank and Andy Schleck riding for their home country’s team.

Time for a new cycle computer

Well, it looks like my Polar CS100 cycling computer will need to be replaced soon.  I’ve been using it for 2 years now (or is that 3?) on 3 different bikes.  I’ve used it to monitor my speed, cadence and heart rate.  While it has been a good unit for the most part, there are a couple of issues that have cropped up.

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The world famous Ione crash

Here it is folks – the now world famous (really!) crash out to Ione, CA.  Caught in brilliant detail thanks to the careful placement of a GoPro HD Helmet Hero camera right on the handlebars.

Yup – even your cycling jersey can be “indie”

I grew up in the beautiful Seattle area in the “hey day” of the whole grunge/alternative rock thingy.  There was always an underlying theme in that area:  The mainstream sucked, therefore you could only be cool by liking things that not many other people liked.  That’s right – you as soon as more than a couple people had heard of it, you couldn’t like it any more.

Somewhere along the line this idea got officially labeled “indie” (originally short for independent, if anyone cares).  Indie was everywhere.  Indie films.  Indie bands.  Indie bars featuring indie bands.

So imagine my excitement at being able to relive my youthful sentimentality with my grown-up hobby of cycling.  I found Indie Bike – a source for indie cycling apparel.  And just look at the list of major manufactures they’re selling.  I can get all my stuff right here.

Now wait just a latte-sipping minute.  List of major manufactures?? Um, isn’t the whole idea of “indie” that it isn’t among the major manufactures??

Now, I don’t want to badmouth any companies (especially ones that could potentially try to get a hold of me for an advertising / sponsorship deal.  Just saying…) but the name does throw off the freds of the world that might assume a catalog full of tweed and wool.

Tell a cyclist to “Break an Elbow”

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the tradition in theater of wishing well to actors before a performance by stating “Break a leg.”  Well, now cyclists can have their own silly superstition.  Next time someone is heading out for a ride, yell at them “Break an elbow!”

We can thank Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles for setting us up for this.  He recently found himself involved in a right-hook incident with a taxi cab while he was riding his bike on Venice Blvd, which ultimately resulted in a broken elbow for the mayor.

As a result of this incident, the mayor has declared his desire to put together a bike summit.  According to an LA Weekly post:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently reached out to the bicycle community via YouTube and announced — more than a week after he broke an elbow in a bike accident on Venice Boulevard — that he would help organize a summit about the future of pedal power in L.A..’We’re going to work with the bicycle safety community to put together a bike summit,” he said.

It is unfortunate that someone in a position of power has to be injured to drive the point home about the need for more understanding and protection of cyclists.  However, it is totally understandable why, as a human, the mayor would be more sensitive to cycling issues after an incident such as this.  “Have a good ride mayor!  Break an elbow!”

The time seems ripe in LA for a change in culture.  The LAPD was already making strides to improve bicycle safety.  From the LA Times blog post:

Police Chief Charlie Beck has made overtures to bicyclists, promising to make their safety a bigger priority and sending some of his officers to ride in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride in June. The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

The LAPD involvement in the critical mass ride, while reported as wildly successful by both sides, unfortunately also only arose in response to an unfortunate circumstance.  A previous ride in LA staged to protest the BP oil spill was met with what was perceived by many as unwarranted aggressive behavior towards cyclists.

I fully applaud the actions of both the mayor and LAPD, acknowledge that all folks make mistakes, and give kudos to LAPD for recognizing a poorly handled situation and taking actions to correct the damage. However, I can’t help but find it frustrating that so many times it requires a tragedy in the cycling community to bring about any real, positive change.

Be safe, keep your helmet above your saddle above your pedals, and by all means “Break an Elbow!”

MC SpandeX gets dirty

MC SpandeX has become something of a cult phenomenon among the cycling internet crowd with over 1.3 million views on YouTube.  His video “Performance” is a tongue in cheek humorous rap video simultaneously poking fun at both the roadie and the fixie/urban crowd.

Now, he’s back and taking pot shots at the mountain bike scene in another video “Get Dirty”

I seem to recall reading once that MC SpandeX was actually a Cat 3 racer out of Portland, OR.  However, I have not been able to find a reference to that information again.

Both videos can be found on the YouTube channel of Robin Moore, or at the website of Robin Moore Productions.  Robin Moore is, in his own words:

I grew up in sunny Santa Cruz, CA, and recently moved up to the frigid Northwest.  When I’m not cycling, rock climbing, and traveling around the world, I am producing/directing/editing videos.

You’ve gotta be “nuts”

Treehugger.com recently posted and article about a collaboration between various fashion designers and Peugeot for a charity / fundraiser event.  This event gave 12 designers a Peugeot frame to customize, which would eventually be auctioned off.

Twelve Peugeot fixed-gear bikes and 12 top fashion designers recently came together for one goal: Raise funds for Act-Responsible, a non profit organization that promotes responsible communication on sustainability, equitable development and social responsibility.

I was browsing through the photos of the completed creations.  Most were what one might expect for art bikes – interesting and even beautiful designs, but often at the expense of ridability or practicality.  But then I stumbled across this gem created by “Husband and wife François and Marithé Girbaud” [treehugger.com]:

Treehugger.com describe this bike by saying “Their bike has a custom frame with irregular geometric figures to die for.”  I suspect that may have been an error though, and what they perhaps meant to say was “irregular geometric figures that will make you wish for death should you try to ride it.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got absolutely nothing against art bikes.   However, art bikes are like haiku – there is a specific framework for the form to follow.  It is the expression of creativity within that framework that truly allows the genius of the artist to shine through.

Maybe in the future an additional requirement for these contests would be to require the designer to actually sit on and pedal their creation when they are done.  That might help illustrate pesky details that slipped through the cracks, like not being able to reach the pedals, or the handlebars for that matter.

Jens Voigt: The Bloody Menace, Part II

I unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) missed this when it happened as I was on southbound I5 traveling back from the 2010 Seattle to Portland bicycle classic.  It looks like the mountains in the Tour de France have taken a second swing at Jens Voigt of Team Saxo Bank.  In the 2009 Tour de France Jens was unfortunately taken out of the race in one of the most dramatic crashes in the tour in recent memory.

This year the mountain tried again, but couldn’t knock him out.  Jens hit the tarmac on stage 16 while descending from the Col de Peyresourde.  In Jens own words, his front tire “just exploded” sending him to the ground, his bike rendered unusable.  Unfortunately all of this happened behind both of the Saxo Bank team cars – leaving Jens without a bike.  He was finally able to get a spare from the neutral support teams, but unfortunately the bike didn’t really fit him.  I think this may be one of the most compelling images of this great rider: tattered and bloody, finishing the stage on a borrowed bike that doesn’t actually fit him, refusing to quit.

The post-stage interview shows typical Jens Voigt attitude and humor remained intact after the crash:

There is a saying among cycling fans: “Jens Voigt doesn’t get road rash.  The road gets Jens rash.”  It captures the toughness this rider has shown throughout his career.  I’m sure the Jens mystique will be even further strengthened after this and as he crosses the Champs-Élysées.

2010 Seattle to Portland: To the finish.

We woke up a little more relaxed on the second day – but noticeably more sluggish and a little bit sore from the first day’s effort.  (If you didn’t catch the first day’s details, check them out here.)  We got a 7:45am start out of Centralia – downright sleeping in compared to the 5:30 start of the first day.  We were both quite slow and heavy in the legs though.  It was a relatively flat start through farm lands and into Chehalis under overcast skies and downright chilly conditions.  We slowly – almost grudgingly – made our way onto a rode in Chehalis lined with beautiful older houses with great big lawns.  That is when I saw it – “Free Starbucks Coffee.”  Really?  Sure enough a guy had quite literally ran an extension cord out his front door to the sidewalk to where he had a coffee pot brewing coffee on the sidewalk.  We stopped and chatted for a couple of minutes – the guy actually refused any sort of payment or donations.  Yet another example of the amazing support of folks along the route.  That little stop for coffee completely energized us in a huge way.

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2010 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic: Check!

As hinted at in my uber-short, from the freeway blog post yesterday, Melissa and I successfully completed the 2010 Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic event.

Photo by Brian (@poptopvw)

It is said that over 10,000 folks started the event this year, where the 202 miles (plus or minus, due to some construction detours) is covered in either one or two days.  Given that neither Melissa nor I had ever completed a full century prior to this event, we opted for the two day option.

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