Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winner Winner...

The 2014 cycling season has officially kicked off with this year's edition of the Tour Down Under. Unfortunately, for the Tour Down Under, their winning 'trophy' was sub-par compared to the Tour de San Luis' winning prize.

Don't get me wrong. The Tour Down Under had a nice swirly plate for winner, Simon Gerrans.

But, seriously, the smaller Tour de San Luis prize blew away the Down Under glass plate with a big ass bowl that is so large that Nairo Quintana could nearly take a bath in it.

Watts up

As part of the winter training I have been attending Computrainer classes twice a week. Besides me, there are about six others in the classes. We all do the same basic workout on a particular evening but everybody's workout is different based on their power output.

Without trying to brag, my numbers are higher than the others in the class. I am the only one that races regularly so I guess it would be normal for my numbers to be higher. A few others do participate in triathlons and a few others might do the occasional race and I'm not sure about a couple of the other people. They might just like to ride and want to train.

Regardless of their goals, everyone's power goals are posted on the wall in front of them. When I show up for class I cannot help but look at what others are doing and compare the differences in people. Last night, for instance, we had to do a series of intervals well above our lactate threshold. I looked at one person and, at that point in the workout, they were being asked to do 170 watts and I was expected to do 295 watts. Those 170 watts are probably a pretty tough thing for them to do, so I don't mock them. It's just curious to me how a wattage, which one person can easily cruise at, can be the upper limits of another.

They don't appear to have a gearing that is much different than me. Do they just not use a large number of the gears on their bike, much like I rarely get in a 53x12 or 13? If you push a certain sized gear at any kind of decent cadence you will roughly create a certain wattage, correct? For instance, if both I and a 120 lb. woman used a 53x16 at 90rpm shouldn't our power be somewhat similar?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One week done

One week of official training for 2014 done.

Six straight days of riding. Started with progressive wattage on Tuesday. Then, a lactate test on Wednesday. Thursday included a 20 minute power test. Friday through Sunday was relatively easy but was still an additional 6 1/4 hrs. I am not totally fried but I am tired. Happy for a day off tomorrow.

Six straight days of riding is unusual for me, especially in January. I am trying to push any fatigue I might have into the background. By Tuesday I should be ready to get going again

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cycling nuts

I sometimes really find the vitriol toward the Trek brand to be amazing. You mention the name Trek and there is a 90% chance someone will voluntarily mention what awful bikes they are. As a point of disclosure, I have owned ONE Trek in my life, from about '94 through '97. It was a Trek 2300 with carbon tubes in the main triangle and aluminum everywhere else. I found it to be an average bike. I never had complaints but I also don't look back at that bike with any great affection, either. It did it's job for a not-so-great Cat 4 racer.

The move of Sven Nys from Colnago bikes to Trek is why I mention this topic. Many people seemed distraught and dismayed that Sven would even consider moving from Colnago to Trek. You see, Colnago has earned some level of mythical status in the eyes of Americans. They made nice lugged steel frames with extravagant (often ugly, in my view) paint jobs. And they were Italian so they must be good...right?

But, for several years now, the majority of Colnagos have been built in Asia, just like the majority of other bikes. And those bikes that are still made in that really important? To my knowledge, Italy isn't world renowned for their carbon fiber technology.

Trek, on the other hand, have been doing carbon for 20+ years. They have had many wins, in the pro ranks. More than Colnago in the last 10-15 years. They, too, have many of their bikes made in Asia with some bikes still make in the US. And, frankly, I think the US is probably better known for their use of carbon than Italy.

So, why the hate? From what I can tell, the hate really only comes from self-loathing Americans. It really is quite strange. We have a twisted Euro-inferiority in the bike world. If it is bike related, it must be better if it is from Europe, specifically France, Italy, Belgium and Holland and to a lesser extent Spain, Germany, England, Switzerland, etc.

Take this sample comment that was made about Nys' move to Trek bikes

Being born and raised in Wisconsin, and being an avid cyclist and fan of the sport, I hate trek. Partially because if I'm spending major $$$ I want something unique with euro flair and trek brings none of that. Also what this move does is make a MAJOR HUGE PUSH for disk brakes. Watch, it's probably in Nys contract that he has to or will have to race disk brakes. Just thank god he didn't go to F#*King specialized (puke)

Let's analyze, shall we.
1) This guy lives in the home state of Trek and he hates the company. That's ridiculous for economic reasons a lone. Having a major bike manufacturer in Wisconsion, of all places, should be a source of pride.

2) Part of the reason for his hate is a lack of Euro flair. What the hello is Euro flair anyway? I would wager that it's purely a perceived "flair". A foreign sounding name. Take the decals off of a Colnago and, with the possible exception of their lugged C59, there is nothing that distinguishes a Colnago from most other carbon frames

3) Disc brakes - the writer was correct that Nys rode his first race on a disc brake equipped Trek. This ignores the fact that Nys also occasionally rode disc equipped Colnagos this year. On top of that, Nys used normal cantilever brakes in his second race with Trek. I guess that whole "contract" thing was in the writers fertile imagination, much like Colnago "flair". And, in case the writer has not noticed, there is already a major push toward disc brakes. Nys move won't slow the trend but it is not pushing the trend toward discs either

In conclusion, cyclists need to get over themselves and the perceived "flair" of certain products. Get on the bike and train hard. Do you want to ride with flair or do you want to ride a bike that you think has flair?

I'm back

I'm back

After a few years of having neglected this blog, I have to decided to try and write down my random thoughts and feelings again.

Why? Because I am viewing this year as a new beginning.

For a few years, I have drifted aimlessly in terms of my racing. I suffered from a general lack of motivation and found it too easy to not train. I was not a total sloth. When I did ride, I rode with some purpose but in the big picture it was just enough to hang around in many races and get dropped in quite a few others but I would usually rebound a purpose late in the year and have a decent CX season. This was my first full year in the A race at our local CX series. I had expected to not do terribly well but I wanted to at least, be at a level similar to the 2nd half of 2012, when I moved up to the A's. That did not happen. More often than not I got lapped. Something that only happened once the year before.

On top of my sub-par performances, I also crashed in August at State Crit. And, then, during the last month of the CX season I believe I crashed at every race at least once. By the end of the year, I beat up and broken down physically and mentally.

While I was broken down, I was also pissed off with a new determination to not let this type of season happen again in 2014.

And, lastly, I'm returning to the team I raced with for 18 years. My return seems like as good a reason as to fire up the old blog again

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Generally, I like Mondays to be days off the bike. That is what I tell myself on Monday. Then, I typically find excuses to spend another two or three days off the bike during the week. However, the weather forecast for late in the work week is looking rather grim. That has been the norm for the last month. Temperatures are seemingly always below normal and those days that are average warmth are almost always wet. Yesterday’s temperature was still a little below normal but the skies were sunny. I figured it was best to get some miles in the legs outside while the opportunity presented itself. Going on that ride presented me with one of my simple joys of riding. There are lots of little sounds associated with riding a bike. There is the snap of a cleat engaging a pedal. The spurt of air as the pump hose is removed from a valve stem. The clicking as a chain finds the cogs during a gear change. But, for me, the sweetest sound is almost no sound at all. I was riding a loop through the neighborhood and, at two or three points, there was near silence. No annoying wind noise. The gears were perfectly quiet, which is unusual for me. The only sound was the faint, hollow sound of the tire on the road echoing through the inner tube. Those moments when the legs are comfortably spinning, the bike moving effortlessly at 20+ miles per hour and near silence are bliss to me. They do not happen enough. But, perhaps that is why they are special.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A pleasant end to an evening of training.

Road season this past weekend. Results were mixed. I felt quite good Saturday at Francis Park. I didn't put on any grand display but I never felt terribly stressed and comfortably finished in the pack. Sunday, on The Hill, was ball's out from the gun. That's not a good recipe for this old guy that starts slowly. I pushed and pushed, moving up a little and then drifting back again. More than once I was closing down small gaps. This can only go on for so long before I pop. Especially in this injury-plagued season of limited racing. I simply don't have the fitness for that type of racing. Put a little hill on the course, like the State Crit in Jefferson City or Francis Park, and I seem to do okay. REgardless, I'm putting the road season behind. Nowadays, cyclocross starts immediately after the road ends. Gone are the years of having September to rest a little and mix in some CX training with longer, fun rides. Now you get six days. No rest for the weary Regardless, I figured it was time to do a little training for this weekends CX butt-kicking. It was a balmy 85 degrees and a damp 63% humidity. Ideal CX weather *cough*BS*cough* I have to admit that my efforts were mid-level but I was still sweating like a pig. Do pigs sweat? Doesn't matter, I was sweating a lot and talking about training is boring. While I cooled down, I found the hiking/biking trail that I first heard about a few months ago. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was a pleasant little spin, particularly on this sunny, late afternoon. As the path turned left and ran along the mighty Mississippi, the angle of the sun actually made the river look blue with bright green trees and plants on the opposite shoreline. The scenery itself is nothing spectacular but I found it oddly beautiful. On the big, blue river were hulking barges seemingly abandoned and rusting from a hard life on the water. Other structures were along river as well. Rusting, rotting and falling apart yet attractive in a harsh, industrial way. Yet, if you looked to the other side, was the gleaming new River City Casino. It was a interesting dichotomy and made for a most pleasant way to end the day's ride.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Roubaix picks

This year's Roubaix has been turned upside down by the broken collarbone of Fabian Cancellara. Make no doubt about it, he would have won Flanders last week had he not been injured. Boonen barely made it to the top of the Paterberg with Ballan and Pozzato. Cancellara would have been gone ballistic on the Paterberg, if he had not already shed Boonen by that point.

Instead of everyone marking Cancellara this Sunday, like they did last year at Roubaix, the heavy burden falls on Boonen. Boonen's advantage is that he just has to hold on and wait for the sprint, whereas Cancellara needs to rely more on an escape. One would think that teams will try to isolate Boonen and then work him over with repeated attacks. That is easier said than done considering the way that the QuickStep team is riding this year. But, all it takes at Roubaix is one moment of bad luck and a key time and Boonen's race could be over.

On to the picks...

Roubaix is a hard man's race and, as a result, the same guys often do well year after year. Some unexpected names find their way into the top 10 at times. The question is, are they next group of riders that will have repeated success at Roubaix.

Thirty-one riders have been in the top 10 over the past five years. Twelve of them have been there more than once. Boonen & Flecha four times. Cancellara, Hoste & Hushovd three times. Even Van Summeren who was thought to be a surprise winner has been top 10 for three of the past five years.

Remove the 10 riders that are retired or injured and suddenly there are a select group of only 21 riders that have been top 10 in the past five years.

Interestingly, finding your way into places 11-20 is FAR less routine. This seems to indicate to me what a crapshoot Roubaix is. You are either one of the select group of riders that can do well there (top 10) and will likely do so repeatedly OR you find yourself in the next 10 places through being a top guy that had some bad luck. Either that, or you simply end up there through attrition and refusing to quit the race. Only Jeremy Hunt and Staf Scheirlinckx have placed 11-20 twice and Frederic Guesdon has done so an amazing 4 of the last 5 years. Personally, I'd like to see him crack the top 10 again in his last race as a pro.

So, who are my picks? Lars Boom, John Degenkolb and Sep Vanmarcke. If I could pick a second group of three I would say Guesdon for the reasons mentioned above, Terpstra and Vaitkus

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ronde picks

Tomorrow is THE day for me on the pro calendar. De Ronde, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Tour de Flanders... whatever you call it. This is my favorite. Lots of hills, cobbles and rabid fans. The perfect race.

All the riders seem a little uncertain about how the race will unfold. For the first time in decades the Mur de Geraardsbergen and Bosberg will not be the finale of the race. Instead, three closing that include the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg expect to make for an even tough finish.

With the change in the race's parcours, past results may not mean as much but we'll take a look back and see if anything can be gleaned from the information. Flanders often has new people finishing well. In the past 5 years, 38 different riders have been in the Top 10. Finishing 11-20 is even more wide open. Forty-two different riders have finished 11-20.

Most everybody's favorites for this year are Boonen and Cancellara. Yet, these two have only finished top 5 twice in the past five years. In fact, Cancellara has only finished finished top 20 those same two times (2010 and 2011). Boonen has been top 20 all five years. He's a solid bet for a strong result.

What riders have had the most top 5 in the past five years? Phillipe Gilbert (not of good form), George Hincapie (old), Bjorn Leukemans and Nick Nuyens (broken hip) have three top 5's each.

But, I don't allow myself to pick guys that have been top 10. My choices for Sundays Ronde are. Sagan, Vanmarcke and Degenkolb. I want to put in Marcato but figure he'll be working for Devolder and Leukemans

Friday, March 16, 2012

Milano - Sanremo picks

I'ts that time of year again. Picking the Spring Classics yet again. I've been rather busy this week and have not had a chance to do much analysis. But, I am continuing with my usual picking guidelines. Im not allowed to pick anyone that has finished top 10 within the past five years.

All my data is at work, so I cant provide the usual breakdowns of data. This is going to be a down and dirty listing. Sagan, Hagen and if there was another rider that rider I would choose them. Just kidding. My third pick is Farrar.

Friday, March 09, 2012


The road season technically started a couple weeks ago at Froze Toes, in Columbia. While the race stopped being labeled a "training race" a few years ago, I still don't consider it the REAL start of the season. It is like the Tours Down Under, Qatar and Oman. It is racing and sometimes good racing but in my mind the season doesn't start until whatever the next race after Froze Toes happens to be. Just like I don't consider the pro season as having started until Omloop Het (Volk) Nieuwsblad takes place. This weekend is the first local racing since Froze Toes. Saturday, we race at Carondelet Park and Sunday at Forest Park.

Now, I've been in the racing scene for a long while. This is the start of my twentieth year. Way back then, the internet did not exist for the general public. There was no going online to find race schedules and flyers. Instead, when you joined the USCF, you started to receive, via snail mail, a monthly "magazine" called Midwest Flyers that had race schedules, flyers and results of races.

Yesterday, I ran across my Midwest Flyers from 1995. The February issue happened to contain the 1995 Missouri Race Schedule. I looked at the schedule and realized just how long seventeen years can be. When you are out there on the roads training and battling throughout the spring and summer, things do not seem to change. One week becomes another and turns to the next month which becomes the next and leads to the next year, and on, and on, and on...

Throughout all that time the racing scene gradually changes and becomes something completely different, almost imperceptibly. "How much different?" you may ask. There were exactly four races in 1995 that are still part of the current race schedule. That's right. FOUR races!!! And, technically, there are really only three races.

Froze Toes, the MO State TT Championships, the Tour of KC and the Giro della Montagna are the only races that still exist. The Giro has moved one block east but essentially remains unchanged. The Tour of KC remains but the races that make up the weekend have completely changed.

Here's a list of races from 1995 that have gone to the great parcours in the sky.

VeloForce Two-Man Time Trial in St Charles
Whistling Dixie Road Race in Holts Summit
Tour of Delphi in Delphi, IL
Tour de Girardot in Cape Girardeau (I really liked this stage race)
Apple Cup in Columbia
COMM LINK Crit in So. STL ( I have no memory of this race at all. I wonder if it even took place)
Clayton Criterium (Existed for 3 or 4 years. Changed every year, I think)
Tour de Soulard (A classic)
MO State Road Race in Clarksville
Greentree Crit in Kirkwood (the very first race I ever entered. Raced the long gone Citizens class)
Signal Hill Bicycle Race in Belleville, IL
Jazz Festival Weekend Road Race in Jefferson City
Centennial Road Race in Wentzville
River Bluff Racing in St Joseph

What's most notable from back then is the shift away road races to a more crit heavy schedule. I do not know if that is better or worse. It's just different. Crits just seem easier to put on and that means more racing, which is good... I think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


From approximately the beginning of November through February, I go to a Spinning class every Tuesday evening. While the class is technically a team event for my former team, quite a few Average Joe's seem to show up and take adavantage of the cheaper classes. I can't blame them. And, the more people that show up, the more money for the local company. That is a good thing.

The interesting thing about Spinning classes are the bikes. Particularly among those that do not race. I was looking at the others in class last night and was befuddled. Here, I was, an average sized male with my saddle raised about as close as I could get to my road bike's saddle height and the handlebars about the same height. The setup is not ideal but not bad.

On the other hand, average to smallish women were there with saddles that were MUCH lower than mine but the handlebars were jacked up about a foot higher than the saddle. I was fascinated. Even the bland hybrid type of bikes are not set up in this radical fashion. What would possibly make someone want to ride this way?

Just for the hell of it I did a Google search for "spinning" and it didn't take long to find a photo showing what I am talking about. Who would ride an actual bike like this?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Greipel might cause me to wet my chamois if I saw this chasing me.

Photo: © Mark Gunter

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Life is a terribly confusing thing. You can spend years trying to figure out a situation. Many brain cells are spent thinking, pondering and postulating. Then one day, in a sudden burst, the answers come as a revelation. Or, so you think. Maybe you are not as smart as you thought or you walked down the wrong path to enlightenment and you stand in dark again... wondering. Back on the bike to figure things out.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Giuseppe, Patrice and I met in Columbia for a shortish ride yesterday. We did our frequent Waterloo loop. I was short on time so this worked well since it typically lasts about 1:45. The length of the ride means that we usually keep the pace fairly brisk.

The wind was out of the south which meant much of the first half of the ride was into the wind. Of course, being the procrastinator I am, my bike continues to have shifting problems which leaves me with two gears... big ring... small ring. And, let's face it, when faced with big ring vs small ring I will be in the big ring.

I felt pretty good but not spectacular. You rarely feel great when you are grinding up hills in too big of a gear. Giuseppe was laying on the praise pretty thick and acting like I was Jens Voigt driving the peloton for miles on end at 28mph. The wind and gearing issued left me satisfied with looking at the ride as a solid strength workout.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Greipel and the TDU

Based on his shoe choices, I am thinking that Andre Greipel might be wanting to kick some ass at the Tour Down Under.