What happened to the pros

I think I’ve watched less pro cycling races this year than in a long time. Actually – I know I have. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. But I do have to admit almost every race I look at, there was some guy that I was suspicious of. And that doesn’t make it any fun to watch. (more…)

If May was bike month, what is June?

National Bike MonthMay is bike month. We all know it, and many of us go on about it. We get bike to school day, bike to work day, and in addition a whole bike to work week! Local coffee shops, bike shops and assorted business get the excuse opportunity to set up tables along popular bike routes and paths giving away free swag and looking very bike-friendly. This should be a month for me to rejoice – to share enthusiasm and passions with the greater cycling community. A time for us to pat ourselves on our collective back and take stock in how far advocacy efforts have come. And May is action packed with a lot more than just advocacy and riding to work. On the racing front, we had not only the grand american race Tour of California, but also the Giro d’Italia.  The Tour of Cali was especially engaging for me this year, as I watched one of my personal favorites – and fellow old guy – Chris Horner appear to struggle through the Time Trial with an anchor on his bike. The setback would have crushed the spirits of other folks. But the drama unfolded in the final significant climbs of the race as Horner, Jens Voigt (another personal favorite and fellow old guy) and others took a flyer off the front. Slowly riders from the break away dropped one by one, until Chris Horner had actually made back all the time lost in the TT and then some.  He climbed his way into first place on paper – as Phil Liggett likes to say – and had me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately the herculean effort was not enough and he was eventually caught. But what a way to highlight what bike month is supposed to be about – enjoying all aspects of bicycles. Rolling the cruiser, commuting to work, or ripping the peloton apart.

Unfortunately, this time around all Bike Month managed to do for me was remind me that the other 11 months are not bike month.  June came this year to punch me in the gut and drive the point home. June has brought us the apparent implosion (again) of what should have been the best team in the peloton – RadioShack Nissan Trek. Andy Schleck has been plagued by … something … all season. There are already rumors of the Schleck boys leaving the squad. When the team announced their Tour de France lineup, Chris Horner was not on the list. This lead to all kinds of speculation and drama as to why that happened. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the presumed Tour de France GC contender Andy Schleck was not going to make it due to injury. Ahh, but poor Bruyneel wasn’t done with bad news yet. Just when we thought it was over, Bruyneel and Mr Armstrong find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Yup – doping allegations again. What is a cycling enthusiast to do.

But hold on a second…

I once again started my commute on a bicycle this morning in beautiful San Francisco. I passed numerous folks doing the same thing. I continue to ride my bike and enjoy it. And despite the fact that folks are predicting a guilty finding for Armstrong would “destroy cycling” my bike will still pedal and roll regardless of a USADA decision regarding Armstrong.

So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll let June suck for Bruyneel and Armstrong. Come July, I’ll be keeping track of the Tour de France and enjoying it. Bike Month is irrelevant to me, honestly. I don’t have a bike month, or even a bike year. I have a bike life, and plan to until I can’t turn my pedals any more.

Christopher Walken, Voigt and Horner

I was sitting in my new favorite greasy spoon – Heidis Pies on El Camino Real in San Mateo – when Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” came on the radio.  As I was half-listen while reading the latest issue of Road Bike Action magazine, I could hear the cowbell in my head.  Only, the cowbell isn’t really there – at not least as much as I heard it.  The cowbell had been engrained in my subconscious so much that I actually thought I was hearing it.

I’m referring, of course, to the Christopher Walken skit done on Saturday Night Live featuring that song.  That particular skit has become so iconic that most folks from my generation will know exactly what you are talking about if you mention “I gotta have more cowbell!”

(Yes – this will eventually have something to do with cycling)

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Chris Horner on diet, cafes and California

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I found it particularly rewarding to watch Chris Horner win the 2011 Amgen Tour of California.  Horner is one of my favorite riders in the peloton.  As anyone that has been reading my posts will have noticed, I’m primarily a Leopard-Trek fan.  Or, more precisely, I’m a Voigt, Schleck, Schleck and Cancellara fan, and they just happen to still be riding on the same team.

While my Leopard Trek fandom comes form watching the guys race, my appreciation of Chris Horner is much more personal.  I had the opportunity to both meet and ride with Chris Horner at last years Clark’s Corner Cycling Challenge.  That’s where I learned that, well, Chris is just a really cool guy.  There are few folks as down to earth, approachable and humble.  Oh – and the guy seems to have a perpetual smile on his face.

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Riding with Chris Horner at Clark’s Corner Cycling Challenge

I talked about it in the previous post titled “Chris Horner to ride the Sacramento Area.”  Well, I was finally able to spend a big part of my weekend at the festivities at Clark’s Corner.  It was a great experience to ride along with Chris Horner of Team Radio Shack, who was out to support the event before heading off to the US Pro National Road Race Championships.

The VIP dinner was fantastic – great food and a small group made for a very friendly evening.  I’ve actually got audio of a question and answer session with Chris Horner after dinner that is both humerus and informative.  Of everything about my experiences with Chris Horner, I walked away first and foremost with the impression of Chris Horner as a kind, friendly and approachable fellow.  Very down to earth and easy to talk to.  He also seems to have a great sense of humor.

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