Archive for the ‘Bicycle racing’ Category

Here’s mud in your eye (or not)

January 30, 2022

My 1998 Steelman Eurocross didn’t get muddy today, either.
I’da wanted mud, I’da had to pee a damp spot into the dust.

The great thing about being a retired cycling scribe is that if there’s a race going on that you don’t care about, you don’t have to watch.

So instead of finding some way to catch cyclocross worlds over the Innertubes, I went out and rode my own damn cyclocross bike for 90 minutes.

Your Humble Narrator on the job during a rare soft day at the Bear Creek Cyclo-cross. As you can see, I am a veritable blur of activity.

I watched one lap of yesterday’s women’s race on YouTube earlier in the day, and that was enough. The Fayetteville course looks like a lot of fun, and I hope it hosts many years of exciting racing.

But I’m sorry. I gotta have filth.

No knock against the race organization — they couldn’t get a hammerlock on the Arkansas legislature, so you know they can’t control the weather — but I gots to have me some evil weather, mud and/or snow, equipment failures, spectacular crashes, pit strategy, and all the rest of the unpredictability sweepstakes that keeps a ’cross from turning into a dirt crit.

I promoted a few dirt crits in my day, but in my defense I will say that the Dogs at Large Velo races in Bibleburg were always intended to provide a gentle transition from road season to ’cross season. Occasionally we got a bit of weather to make the Bear Creek course interesting, but generally it was pretty predictable.

Me, I lived for the sloppy conditions we’d get at Chatfield, Fort Collins, or the horse park in Franktown. The kind of race where you spend so much time off the bike and running that your cyclocomputer goes to sleep. And you have to clean up in a nearby car wash afterward — bike, spare bike, and kit —  because the wife caught you doing it in the shower once and you’re lucky she still lets you into the house, much less your slime-soaked gear.

Of course, the course and conditions don’t seem to have much effect on the actual finishing order. I notice the strong people mostly win wherever and whenever.

So, congrats to all the freshly minted world champions in Fayetteville. I hope that shiny new kit gets dirty one of these days.

WallyWorlds

January 28, 2022

The Stud, retired from the bike shop, found himself with a little free time and more than a few unpaid bills.

The UCI-Walmart 2022 Cyclocross World Championships kick off today in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I won’t be there, and neither will my old ’cross buddy Brook Watts, whose baby this is.

Or was, before the political climate in Arkansas took a distinct turn for the worse, presenting him with an insurmountable run-up to race day.

Those were not cheering throngs at courseside. Cowbells were out, bullshit was in. Not even shoe spikes would help, unless applied to asses, and maybe not even then. Some days a fella can wear out a couple dozen pair of kneecaps kicking ass and all he gets is practice.

You can read Brook’s take on the whole mess at VeloNews. And for those of you who enjoy such things, here’s a hot GoPro lap of the course.

 

R.I.P., VeloNews

January 12, 2022

The first edition of VeloNews in which a cartoon
by You Know Who appeared.

VeloNews was found dead on Jan. 1. It was just 50 years old.

Was it murder? Suicide? Natural causes? (i.e., a slow-moving form of frontotemporal dementia?)

Nah. Darwinism. Nature red in tooth and claw, baby. Or, if you prefer your poetry in the original Sicilian, “It’s strictly business.”

• Editor’s note: A tip of the VeloNews cycling cap to Steve O. for the sharp eye on the velo-news.

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 8, 2021

Where’s the fabled New Mexico wind when you need it?

The smoke has finally paid us a visit here in the Sandia foothills.

The world sometimes feels like a very small place, and never more so than when a wildfire in Northern California can make your eyes sting in New Mexico.

“Very hazy, hot, and dry,” predicts the National Weather Service. The women must be happy to be first off this morning as the criteriums wrap up masters nats at Balloon Fiesta Park. It was already 63 in the Duke City foothills as racing kicked off down below, where the high temp should be challenging the century mark this afternoon.

A tip of the Mad Dog sombrero goes out to Colorado hardman Wayne Watson, who took the 70-74 road-race title yesterday with a solo break. Wayne was hard to catch Back in the Day® and it seems that this, unlike so many other things, remains unchanged.

Fire on the mountain, lightning in the air

August 7, 2021

Weather Underground ain’t got nothin’ on us.

Hot and windy for the old folks today as the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships continue with more road racing northeast of Sandia Park.

The forecast is for a high of 88° with winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph. And the National Weather Service advises that we might expect some elevated haze since most of the western United States is on fire. Bother, wot?

Still, it beats Colorado, where Boulder meteorologist Russell Danielson advises that Saturday should be one of the worst days of the year in terms of fine particulates in the air.

Adds colleague Paul Schlatter: “We’re expecting very poor air quality throughout the day Saturday.” Cut me off an extra-crispy piece from the end there, Paul old scout. I like my air well done.

Speaking of very poor, after all the chin music about the fat stacks masters nats is expected to bring to our fair city, the homers aren’t covering the actual gold rush as far as I can tell. So you’ll need to keep an eye on social media, particularly Twitter, if you want to know who’s doing what to whom.

USA Cycling posts the bare minimum at the end of the day, basically writing off the results — I expect that other little event in Japan has been distracting the A team — and you can find the actual results at One2Go.

Meanwhile, our informal 15-mile foothills ride yesterday was a huge success. We saw a young Cooper’s hawk working the backyard doves before departure, and en route encountered quail, a bunny rabbit, and a six-pack of antlered bucks strolling through someone’s yard.

In the finale Herself won the driveway sprint when I stopped to check the mail. She’s sneaky that way.

Return of the Bostisaurus

August 5, 2021

Your Humble Narrator, failing to distinguish himself
in a time trial at Alamosa. Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships kick off this morning with time trials on the west side of town, and the prodigal — fabled powerhouse Kent Bostick — has returned to the Greater Duke City Metropolitan Area to see whether he can carve another notch in his top tube.

Back in the Day® I raced in the same age group as Bostick, but not in the same class. Dude was 10 minutes — yes, that’s 10 minutes — faster than me over 40km at the famous Moriarty-Estancia course southeast of here. He still holds a few national records, though John Frey pipped him for the 40km with an astounding 47:35:37 at Moriarty in 1990.

These days Bostick apparently hangs his helmet in Knoxville, Tenn. But back then he was a groundwater hydrologist who lived in Corrales and commuted by bicycle to his gig in Albuquerque because he liked to log a lot of miles. A lot of miles.

Bostick and Frey both raced for Team Shaklee, and the Bostisaurus finally made it to the 1996 Olympics at the ripe old age of 43, if memory serves. He’s been racing national championships since 1977, when I was pedaling a Schwinn Varsity around Greeley in various outlandish and illegal states of consciousness.

There will be a few other fast old dudes out there today. Norm Alvis is one — he raced for 7-Eleven and Saturn, did the team time trial at the 1998 Olympics, set a U.S. hour record that stood for a couple decades, and tackled the Tour and the Giro — and framebuilder Rich Gängl is another. Shannon Fox flogged me more than once in cyclocrosses back in Colorado.

I still have a time-trial bike, but my legs seem to have gone walkabout along with my racing license, so the bike will stay on its hook in the garage. They’d be timing me with a calendar.

• Late update: Boy, if you’re not using the social media, USA Cycling makes it hard to find a basic race report and results. I finally had to back-door the thing through BRAIN’s Twitter feed. Here’s the news from yesterday’s ITT.

Show Low suspect behind bars

July 10, 2021

Shawn Michael Chock.

Finally, a bit of follow-up regarding the vehicular assault on the Bike the Bluff race June 19 in Show Low, Ariz.

According to the White Mountain Independent, suspect Shawn Michael Chock faces 20 felony counts — 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; nine counts of leaving the scene of a collision involving serious injury; and one count of unlawful flight from law enforcement.

Chock was charged in Navajo County Superior Court, but the state Department of Public Safety is handling the inquiry. No trial date has been set.

The suspect was hospitalized after being shot, presumably by police. He was shifted to the Coconino County slammer in Flagstaff on July 2.

Six of the seven cyclists hospitalized remain so, according to the Independent.

Law and ordure

June 30, 2021

She ran, but could not hide.

The gendarmes reportedly have collared the spectator believed to have caused that big pileup on day one of the Tour de France.

The charge — involuntarily causing injury — carries a fine of 1,500 euros. But race organizers and athletes have threatened legal action of their own.

So, yeah, could be an expensive day at the race for this person. Maybe Opi and Omi will chip in so their granddaughter doesn’t have to spend the rest of her life holding a cardboard placard at roadside, and sleeping there, too.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, it’s been a week since I’ve seen any followups on the Show Low incident. Has the driver been charged? Not that I can see from my perch high atop the Duke City Innertubes.

I know Arizona has a couple dozen wildfires raging, plus an ongoing “election audit” by Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey. And Bike the Bluff isn’t exactly Le Tour.

But still, damn. You’d think this dude would’ve been written up for an illegal lane change or littering by now.

The sky ain’t cryin’

June 28, 2021

Big, and bad, and bupkis.

Waiting for rain around here is like waiting for a Republican to grow a pair.

It huffs, and it puffs, aaaaaaaand … that’s about it.

Nevertheless, the clouds have helped keep us delightfully cool. Unlike the Tour de France, which so far seems to be a searing symphony of skidmarks and blood trails, scored for ambulance sirens.

Some pundits have been calling for a return to an “opening prologue” to mellow everyone out in the early going of Le Tour. Which might be smart, if we overlook that “opening” nonsense. A prologue is a preface, an introduction, a preceding event or development.

Have you ever seen a prologue three stages in? You have not.

Anyway, prologues are far from foolproof. Chris Boardman crashed in the 1995 prologue. Stuey O’Grady did likewise in 2007, as did Alejandro Valverde in 2017.

But it’s true that the carnage tends to be retail rather than wholesale in an “opening prologue.” A racer gets taken out by a tight corner, a slick descent, or a roadside eejit, and a writer gets taken out by the copy desk. Le Tour goes on.

It’s (not) alive!

June 26, 2021

Yes, yes, yes, it’s that time of year again, and Charles Pelkey and I are … still not doing our famous Live Update Guy thing.

I always feel a twinge of guilt and sorrow over having turned my back on the one what brung me to the freelancers’ dance — bicycle racing, and specifically Le Tour — but I sure do enjoy having my mornings free for bicycling instead of blathering.

Charles, of course, wouldn’t know what a free morning was if it bit him in his billable hours, which it would. He’s lawyerin’ away like crazy up there in Wyoming, and confesses via email that, like me, he doesn’t have any idea who the top men in the Tour are anymore.

But all that NRRBBB®* sure was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

* That’s Non-Race-Related Blah-Blah-Blah to you, sonny.