Archive for the ‘Bicycle racing’ Category

Rocks ‘n’ rollin’

April 8, 2017

Everybody must get stoned.

My man Charles Pelkey will be kick-starting the Live Update Guy machinery tomorrow for Paris-Roubaix, so all y’all should bounce that way to say, “Allez.”

We gave the software a bit of a test-drive today and all seems well. As for the race, it looks to be a dusty one, and while Tom Boonen seems the sentimental favorite, the cobbles have no sentiment atall atall.

Meanwhile, King Donald the Short-fingered is looking all thumbs after his Feat of Strength in Syria. We warn the Russians, the Russians warn the Syrians, and hey presto! Twenty-four hours later Assad is back to business as usual, albeit with conventional weapons.

It’s like the worst ass-kicking movie, like, ever:

Don: Hey, Vlad, it’s Don.

Vlad: What up, bruh?

Don: I’m headed over to that punk Bashar’s place to teach him a lesson. Just giving you a head’s up, I know you’re tight and all.

Vlad: No worries, bruh, thanks for the call.

(click)

(30 seconds later)

Bashar: Hello?

Vlad: Yo, Bash’, Don’s coming over to kick your ass.

Bashar: Good time for it, I was just stepping out to the Home Depot. Need some more Roundup. He’ll have to settle for pissing on my lawn or something.

Vlad: Ha ha ha, yeah. Spell his name on it or something. Probably wrong, too.

Bashar: Ha, yeah, for sure.

Vlad: OK, see you.

Bashar: Laters.

 

A lens capped

February 1, 2017

Graham Watson has hung up his camera bag to enjoy the good life (which includes not lugging a metric shit-ton of camera gear all over the planet).

He turned 60 last March, and his final outing as a pro shooter was last month’s Tour Down Under.

When I was throwing pixels at the digital wall for that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling GW was a mainstay of our photography, as was (and still is) Casey B. Gibson. Between the two of them we pretty much covered the globe like Sherwin-Williams.

It’s a tough hustle, pro shooting, The travel is unending, and the days run 48 hours apiece. The bag weighs a ton, the pay sucks, and wankers steal your images without so much as a by-your-leave.

But the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words is a cliché because it’s true. One good shot will tell you more about bike racing than anyone’s prose, mine included.

So raise a glass to Graham Watson, who has gone to ground in New Zealand. I’ll honor him by not lifting an image for this post.

 

 

Stars ‘n’ stripes forever

January 8, 2017
Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

I haven’t watched a bike race since the 2016 Tour de France, but today I may just turn my gaze eastward to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Conn.

What can I tell you? It’s an addiction, like whiskey or chocolate. Shucks, I may even break out one of my own cyclocross bikes today and show these Burqueños how the sport of kings is done, har har har.

CyclingTips is carrying streaming video, and you can catch all the action there.

Man at work

September 2, 2016
Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

While cranking out a column and cartoon to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the launching of the good ship Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1992, it struck me that I was approaching a milestone of my own — as of today, I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.

That is not a typo.

After quitting my seventh and final newspaper gig, at The New Mexican up Santa Fe way, I raced the Record Challenge in Moriarty on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1991 (56:43 for 40km, a personal best), and the very next day I was up north in Bibleburg, trying to figure out how a burned-out newspaperman might pay for his bacon and beans.

I had three things going for me. One, I had been freelancing cartoons and light journalism to VeloNews since March 1989, and I began doing more of that, helping cover (now-defunct) races like La Vuelta de Bisbee, the Casper Classic, and the Cactus Cup, and lending a hand with copy-editing and production up in Boulder.

Two, Marc Sani at BRAIN wanted a comic strip for his brand-new industry magazine, and before long I was writing some stuff for him, too.

And three, Herself and I were living rent-free with my mom, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and required oversight. So we’re not exactly talking Hemingway-in-Paris here; we had a roof over our heads, three hots and a cot, and a small allowance for serving as live-in help while my sister managed Mom’s finances from Fort Collins.

At first I could and did work for anyone. But eventually the VeloNews and BRAIN gigs led to other work in the bike biz, and after a while that’s all I did. It’s hard to believe, but a guy could actually earn a semi-OK living scribbling for bicycle magazines, and eventually, bicycle websites. Who knew? Not me. Not until I had 15 years of newspapering under my belt, anyway.

Today I work for BRAIN and Adventure Cyclist, period. It’s not exactly heavy lifting. I get to make shit up for the one and play with other people’s toys for the other. I should be paying them, not the other way around.

You guys, of course, get the dubious benefits of 40 years’ experience for free. You’re welcome.

 

Old race, new race

July 28, 2016
Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

It sure is nice to spend mornings riding the bike rather than writing the bike.

Yesterday I rode out to Bernalillo on NM 313, inspecting the first leg of what would be a fun training ride — basically an extended version of the old Watermelon Mountain Classic that I used to race back in the Eighties.

That race started in Bernalillo and climbed through Placitas on NM 165 to the Sandia Peak Ski Area, then dropped through Sandia Park and Cedar Crest before finishing on NM 333 just east of Albuquerque.

What made it interesting was a stretch of unimproved dirt Forest Service road — about seven miles of switchbacks, if memory serves — that climbed to the Sandia Crest Road just below the ski area, which used to host an occasional mountain-bike race.

After that it was mostly the old zoom-zoom, down, down, down to the Duke City. I was usually pretty aggressive on the climb, but whatever I gained on the uphill I lost on the downhill, suffering as I did from an overactive imagination and a feeble health-insurance plan.

My version of the Watermelon would start at El Rancho Pendejo, which adds 20 miles to the front end of the ride. The backside would be augmented by a half-dozen miles or thereabouts, from the old finish line back to the rancho. Eating the whole ‘melon would involve about 63 miles, many of them uphill. Good times. Maybe not.

Speaking of races and good times, Ronald McDonald McTrump came in for a vigorous thumping last night at the DNC. Even the prez got in on the act, which MoJo’s Kevin Drum summarized in 17 words:

Michael Bloomberg: Trump is a con man.

Tim Kaine: Trump is a liar.

Joe Biden: Trump is a sociopath

Barack Obama: Trump is an asshole.

Drum qualified that last by noting that it was his translation “from the original Obamish.” Pretty accurate translation, I’d say.

 

Champs and chumps

July 24, 2016
We have clouds early, but it looks like another hot one in the Duke City. And in Paris, too? Stay tuned.

We have clouds early, but it looks like another hot one in the Duke City. And in Paris, too? Stay tuned.

The sun rises on the final day of the 2016 Tour de France. Yay, etc.

It wasn’t much of a Tour, from a GC point of view. Sky — for whatever reason — is just too damn strong. And while Zoom-Zoom Froome pulled a few new rabbits out of his hat early on, after a couple of frights he settled down into his usual act, and that, as they say, was that.

A couple of Frenchmen proved fun to watch — Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Julian Alaphillippe (Etixx-QuickStep) — and of course there was Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who is a race unto himself.

But Fabio Aru (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) failed to mount serious challenges. Quintana may have been suffering from allergies, while Aru may have been afflicted with too many Vincenzo Nibalis. Richie Porte (BMC) had that mishap early on, and Tejay van Garderen had the usual meltdown; if he’s gonna keep fading like a cheap paintjob he should really spare us the breezy pre-Tour chatter about how Sky might buckle under pressure and how Froome is beatable. Not by you he ain’t, Sparky.

Sprinters who weren’t named Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) didn’t have much to celebrate this year, either. He won’t be banging bars on the Champs-Élysées this evening, and whoever wins the final stage will go home wondering whether things might have turned out differently if the Manxman had made it all the way to Paris.

Meanwhile, that other race — the one for the U.S. presidency — is a long way from the finish line, and I’m having trouble getting excited about pulling on my pistachio slingshot and fright wig, lighting a flare, and running alongside the field. Y’suppose we could ask the Badger to push ’em both off the stage?

 

Ventouxstep

July 14, 2016
Froomey, this is not cyclocross. This is the Tour. There are rules.

Froomey, this is not cyclocross. This is the Tour. There are rules.

Well, you can’t say this has been a dull Tour de France. Not when the maillot jaune is legging it up Ventoux in road cleats before being awarded a tiny yellow bike by Mavic neutral support.

There should be plenty to talk about (for a change) during tomorrow’s 37.5km individual time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andéol to La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc. I wouldn’t expect a lot of “There goes another rider. And another one. Aaannnnnd another one.”

Unfortunately, at least some of the chatter will be about what at the moment appears to be a terrorist attack in Nice. The evildoers don’t need box cutters and hijacked airliners any more. It seems a truck will do.

Wreck on the highway

July 2, 2016
Say hi to Sam Hillborne.

Say hi to Sam Hillborne.

The first day of what appears to be a very long Tour de France is in the bag. Thanks to everyone who joined us at Live Update Guy. And chapeau to Mark Cavendish, who avoided a last-kilometer pileup — one of several on the day — to win the stage and take his first yellow jersey.

Too, a special “ow, wow, yow, zow” goes out to everyone who hit the deck on Stage 1. The body count would seem to include — well, just about everyone except for Cav’, me and Charles Pelkey (office furniture and road furniture rarely become entangled).

Alberto Contador in particular looked like he’d been attacked by a deranged chef with an assault cheese grater. One wonders whether he’ll have to be strapped onto his bike, El Cid-style, in order to start Sunday’s stage.

I wasn’t strapped to a damn thing when I rolled out for my own ride, aboard a brand-spankin’-new Rivendell Sam Hillborne (see pic above). No clipless pedals on that bad boy, not even toeclips and straps — just flats. So I rode in street shoes, baggies, an emblem-free Pearl Izumi jersey and a Rivendell cap unencumbered by helmet, just to make the Safety Nazis crazy. Took ‘er out on the highway, too.

I wish I could change this sad story that I am now telling you. But there is no way I can change it. For somebody’s ride is now through.

Vuelta a Voodoo

July 1, 2016
No, this isn't deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

No, this isn’t deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

The first ride of July is in the bag — 90 minutes on the trails surrounding the Elena Gallegos Open Space — and now I will shun the singletrack until the Fourth of July weekend is over. From now until Tuesday morning the trails will look like the aisles at Interbike on day one.

I was rocking the old Voodoo Nakisi with slightly overinflated tires to avoid pinch flats and rolls (I really need wider rims) and despite my best efforts managed to (a) keep the rubber side down, and (2) avoid centerpunching a small flock of early-bird weekenders.

Tomorrow Counselor Pelkey and I commence coverage of Le Tour over to Live Update Guy. We struggled mightily with the notion of cranking up the NRRBBB® Machine again — frankly, I was advocating a LUG-free July — but in the end we decided to bite that big yellow bullet and see if it blows our heads off. See you there.

Solo break

May 28, 2016
Can't see the forest for the trees.

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

I was all on my oddy knocky for today’s penultimate stage at the Giro d’Italia. Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey had to dash off to the Wyoming state Democratic convention, which was being held in a Prius in Rock Springs, so Your Humble Narrator was flying solo.

And quite a stage it was, too. If you missed the call you can read back on it here.

Chazbo will be back tomorrow for the big finale, and then we will both be off to other pursuits for a bit. I think he’s committed to doing one final Tour. Me, I think I should be committed.