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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Indications of Voigt joining Schlecks on new team

The Danish website TV2 Sporten is reporting (English translation here) that there are indications Jens Voigt will possibly be leaving the current Team Saxo Bank to join Frank and Andy Schleck on their new Luxembourg team.  Reports are that Kim Anderson – former directeur sportif of Team Saxo Bank now working to help set up the new Luxembourg team – has contacted Jen Voigt about a possible spot.

VeloNews as confirmed the rumors that Alberto Contador will leave Astana to ride with Team Saxo Bank next season.  These moves are potentially setting up a repeat of this years Tour de France next year, with Andy Schleck again facing off against Alberto Contador.  In fact, Andy Schleck as already stated as much on the website andyschleck.com:

Next year I can turn the tables and win the Tour. I did a bad prologue this year and I have to admit that, but Fränk crashing out was a big loss. If there were two of us in the mountains it could have been so different. But now I know that I can beat Alberto and that gives me huge confidence and motivation for next year.

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.