Sunday, December 26, 2010

Because It's Fun?

I've been told by many people that I'm crazy to think riding my bike every day for more than a few miles even remotely qualifies as fun.

So, you think I'm crazy? What about these guys? Warning: This video is probably not kid-friendly and is extremely humorous.

And, apparently, it's all true!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Money Can't Buy Love

But I guess it can buy you out of trouble.
Driver sentenced after controversial plea deal in Vail hit-and-run

I wonder if he'll be able to pay someone to do his community service and probation for him, too?

I was so hoping for a better result.

What makes me justifiably angry about this case is the fact that the defendant was handled with such kid gloves by the prosecutor. A prosecutor that has a reputation for aggressively prosecuting defendants for incidents that, according to common sense, are a lot less serious. Throw a snowball at someone at Copperhead? Prosecute. Fudge a race entry to Leadville? Prosecute. Nearly kill a cyclist with your Mercedes and you've got a s**t-ton of money? Plead him out. Read The Explainer article in the link below, it'll give you a good perspective on the whole case and the circumstances surrounding it.

This double-standard isn't supposed to exist in our justice system. I know that it does, and our courts would collapse under the sheer number of cases without plea bargains; but the prosecutor was very wrong not to take this case to trial. A trial, win or lose, would have brought attention to the issues of safe driving and how vulnerable cyclists really are out there. No matter how many cyclists ride on the roads, as is our right, a car will still outweigh a cyclist, both literally and otherwise.

Wow, don't I sound cynical.

More on this case:
The Explainer: Thoughts on Erzinger and why I won't boycott Vail
Friday's Foaming Rant: Restitution or retribution?
District attorney seeks to bar Vail victim's testimony in plea hearing

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tipping the Scales of Justice

If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Wait, that's not right.

If you take a supplement with a banned substance and the label doesn't list it, did you intentionally ingest a banned substance?

Why yes, yes you did. And here's a two-year suspension for your unintentional mistake.
Court of Arbitration for Sport reduces Flavia Olivera suspension

Perhaps justice in professional cycling does exist after all?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Evie Stevens Reloaded

I first heard about Evelyn Stevens last autumn while reading through The New York Times SPOKES blog. Then earlier this year, Bicycling Magazine published the story about her rather meteoric rise from amateur to her riding for HTC this past season. Her story sounds like something out of a fairy tale or a Hollywood movie: A young investment banker races her bike a few times, gets hooked, starts training nearly every spare minute, and eventually leaves her job to pursue The Dream.

And pursue, she has. She made some great results this season with her HTC-Columbia team. I can only think that if she continues to work and learn as she has this season, she will have an even better 2010/2011 season.
Evelyn Stevens signs two-year deal to stay with HTC

Evie, you're my hero.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, really?

Landis says clenbuterol is quite common in peloton
Again, I wonder why people keep giving Floyd a soap-box from which to spout. I suppose as an admitted doper, he has certain insights into the dark side of the pro peloton. But, where is his credibility? He lied for years, wrote a book about it, finally came clean (so to speak) earlier this year, and proceeded to implicate other riders. He never apologized, to my knowledge, for lying and misleading so many people.

Floyd, please do us all a favor and hush? Thank you.
You want to be listened to? Stop running your mouth, accept the blame for the choices you made, and commit to riding clean and transparent from now on.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh, for the love of...

UPDATE 11/25/2010:
There is always more to the story...
The Explainer: How do we get from aging dopers to the big names?

amateur: noun; (1) devotee, admirer (2) one who engages in a pursuit, study, or sport as a pastime rather than a profession ( The origins of the word are French, from the Latin and originally refer to love or the love of something.

News has come down the pipe at VeloNews that a masters racer from Michigan has been handed a two-year suspension from USADA for purchase and use of EPO.

I can't help but think there's something seriously wrong when an amateur dopes. Is winning that local crit or Tuesday Night Sprint series really worth the potential health problems and legal problems that will most likely arise? What really makes this case sad is that this guy didn't really have any results to show. Basically, he risked his health for nothing, and now he can't race for two years.

Let's file this one under "You've gotta be kidding me", shall we?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Um, what's the problem?

As a cyclist, I can tell you that few things are more frightening than a car zipping by six-inches from your elbow while you're riding on the shoulder. And many drivers of my acquaintance have told me that passing or even just seeing a cyclist on the road makes them quite nervous behind the wheel.

The number of commuters who ride bicycles to get to work and run errands are increasing and I doubt that will change any time soon, thanks to rising gas prices, etc. However, cars and trucks still outnumber bicycles on the road by a large margin; and some drivers don't like sharing the road. So, a bike lane sounds like the perfect solution, doesn't it? Drivers are able to pass cyclists with relative ease and cyclists have a lane where cars aren't allowed, therefore they can worry a little less about being hit. Great, right? Apparently, not.
New York Times: Bike Lanes' Growth in New York Brings Backlash

"And yet, I am unmoved." Now, I don't live on an island where there's finite space for everything and I've never had the pleasure of visiting New York City. From what I can gather, drivers are angry over losing a driving lane and parking spots. I'm also thinking that they feel threatened that with the growth of bike lanes, cyclists are somehow going to squeeze them out and make it harder for them to drive their cars.

True, there's one less lane for cars, cry me a river. Cars still get the majority of the road and an automobile still outweighs a cyclist by a few tons. Driving is a privilege, not a right; and if you can't deal with a repainting of lanes, perhaps you should consider changing your driving routes. It's hard to have sympathy for angry drivers who seem to think a cyclist don't deserve the same rights and considerations on the road as a car.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I've crashed my bike a couple times out of the thousands of miles I've ridden. Pretty good odds, I'd say. And I got off fairly light injury-wise: Painful road-rash and multi-colored bruises. However, both times I messed up my shoulder something nasty. Shoulder Separations Explained
I think I had a Type I separation that first crash. Ugh, it took forever for that to heal.

When you crash, don't hesitate to go see your doctor if something isn't working the way it should. Better to go get it checked and find out it's nothing than to wait and make it worse by omission.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


not what I was hoping to hear.
Newspaper reports WADA unable to confirm Alberto Contador's tainted beef claim

Man, I don't know what to believe anymore. I really want to let due process take it's time to uncover and analyze the evidence available. But as more time passes, it looks worse and worse for Alberto.

And what's the truth? Is Alberto a doper? Or was this just the worst possible confluence of unfortunate and unintended circumstances?

I think I'll wait until the official report from UCI and WADA is released to pass any sort of judgement.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What do you call it?

I use this little corner of the interwebs to draw attention to people, stories, et cetera that I believe others would benefit from knowing about. In the past two years, I've written my two cents about volunteering at huge bike races, the local cycling scene, play-by-play of races I've attended, doping cases of some of my heroes and former heroes, and a lot of other subjects.

So, since I'm writer and maintainer here at VeloGirl, I'm writing an absolutely shameless plug for a local non-profit organization I deem worthy of such an honor: Twin Cities Robert Emmets Hurling Club.
I suppose this will require some explanation.

Despite what you may have gathered from this blog, I do a lot of stuff that has little to do with cycling. I write (of course), devour Victorian-era mystery novels, enjoy action movies with friends, sing with the music in my car, and run around on a soccer pitch with a three foot piece of Irish ash in my hands chasing a leather ball in all sorts of weather [playing hurling], among other things.

We have a fairly large Irish community in the Twin Cities metro area and one thing that binds a community is their sport. The Gaelic game of hurling is approximately 2,000 years old and has been played in one form or another in Ireland all that time. The way I describe the game to the uninitiated (and they are numerous) is it looks like a combination of field hockey and lacrosse, but quicker and with less padding (helmets are required, cleats are highly recommended, and shin-guards are optional). A lot of American players have backgrounds in lacrosse, soccer, ice hockey, baseball, and golf to name a few.

I fell in love with hurling two summers ago while walking around a park in Saint Paul. A bunch of people were running around a makeshift field with what looked like axe handles, knocking into each other and smacking what looked like a baseball around. I was intrigued and was allowed to "puck around" on the field after the game was finished. Uh oh. I kept the game in mind when I visited Ireland this past spring and even commandeered our house's television to watch an inter-county match between Galway and Cork, over the groans of my family. I was determined to put some serious thought into playing the game when I got back.

The game is gaining popularity outside Ireland in England, Australia, the United States and is primarily, but not exclusively by Irish immigrants and people with a love for and/or connections to their Irish communities. Games are usually played on a soccer pitch with temporary up-rights attached to the goalposts, as true hurling pitches are curiously hard to find in the US.

Our local hurling club, the Robert Emmets (so named for an Irish patriot) is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning they're non-profit. They subsist totally on donations from sponsoring companies and dues and equipment fees paid by playing members. Granted, there isn't a lot of equipment, but playing field fees are expensive and the club does travel out of state in the summer to regional tournaments and Nationals.

Anyway, today is Give to the Max Day through and some companies are matching donations to certain organizations. If you are so inclined, click on this link and give. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will be hoisted onto our shoulders. Come check out a match in the spring once the snow melts and the club is allowed back on the pitch.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Darwin-ism In Action

I find this rather unsettling.
Cat 6, Competitive Commuting Turns Bike Rides into Races
I truly hope this author had nothing else to write about that day, because commuting isn't a race and if you turn it into one, you're being moronic. Bike lanes and multi-use bike paths are meant for efficient, predictable riding; not for shouldering past a riding buddy to win a sprint or pulling a dick-move and not letting a quicker rider pass. Racing while commuting is like high school kids drag-racing: It just isn't a good idea.

Now, if you want to see if you can beat your best previous time commuting to work, knock yourself out, but please don't be a jerk when others try to pass you, okay? I ride my bike for fun, so forgive me if I don't want to spend my ride playing a stupid game of leap-frog/chicken with a guy tucked into his tri-bars (I'm sorry, but it's always tri-bars) who doesn't want me to pass him on my blue bicycle.

BikeSnobNYC: BSNYC Friday... Nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks that this racing while commuting is akin to playground antics and "which one is bigger".
It's Not A Race: The Unspoken Game This is a site dedicated to the ridiculousness that is the Unspoken Game, shhh!

Haters gonna hate, as the saying goes. I say, póg mo thóin! Thank you.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Bad Barrier, Bad!

I get the the feeling that that isn't the way it's supposed to work. Hey, face! This is what the course looks like up really close!

Todd Wells battered, unbroken after botched bunny-hop For the record, I think Todd handled that better than I would have.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fanning the Flames

More reaction from the cycling community, et cetera about the Erzinger case in Vail, Colorado. Yummy!
Vail Daily: Hurlbert stands by plea bargain
Vail Daily: DA explains controversial plea bargain
Good. I hope he gets thousands more e-mails asking him where he put his brain when he made that [now] infamous comment; especially if it doesn't reflect the "real" reason he offered the plea deal. Last time I checked, it was the prosecutor's job to represent the interests of the law and the victim of the crime, not the fact that the defendant "could write a check and his case would be dismissed".

Vail Daily, Editorial: Judge should reject plea bargain
The Explainer: Is having a Mercedes an affirmative defense?
"In what has to be the most boneheaded public comment made by a prosecutor in recent history, Hurlbert noted that 'felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into' his decision."

Read this whole write-up; take note of what happened a woman gave her Leadville 100 race entry to a friend and that friend was entered in the wrong age group. *wince* I'm not sure this prosecutor has his head screwed on correctly. Fudging a bike race entry, getting caught, returning the award, etc. is more serious than a hit-and-run offense? Okay, that's f***ed up.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Is November? Okay!

Yesterday's high was 64 degrees F. Today's high was 66 degrees F. Tomorrow's high is projected to be 63 degrees.

Perfect riding weather for November, don't you think?

I was late getting out of work this afternoon, so I couldn't throw my leg over my bike until four o'clock. Next time, I'm packing all my stuff in the car and leaving right from the office.

Adding to the fun was a road closure on my way home. A water-main broke and crews were finishing patching up the road where they had to dig. No cars allowed; but the worker watching the road block let me through. ^_^ Oh, boy! It was about two miles of two-lane road with absolutely no cars, bliss!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, November 8, 2010


UPDATE 11:42pm
This thing has gone viral. Check out the Huffington Post article, note the explanation within bottom two paragraphs. If the DA's goal was to limit potential impact to this guy's job, he mis-calculated; it's blown up in his face.

This makes me sick.
Vail Daily News: Alleged hit-and-run driver may not face felony
Summit Daily News: DA Hurlbert won't press felony charges...

New York Times: Cyclists Fault Prosecutor's Decision Another black-eye for bikes in Colorado
BikeSnobNYC: Wheelsucking...

Wait, because this guy manages million-dollar accounts and being charged with a felony "could jeopardize his ability to pay restitution", he gets a pass on hit-and-run charges? Mr. Erzinger will be charged with misdemeanor traffic violations, but won't be charged with a felony for leaving someone broken and bleeding at the side of the road!? How is nearly killing someone with your car only a traffic violation? That's attempted manslaughter in some places! WTF!

I like BikeSnob's response to this news. A nearly perfect blend of sarcasm, anger, and his trademark dry wit: "Also, the District Attorney who dropped the charges doesn't want to cost the doughy money manager his job because 'justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.'
In other words, treating him like the criminal he is might make it slightly more difficult for him to buy his way out of this and any other future vehicular assaults, and that would be downright un-American."

I don't care what this guy does for a living; this should be about a driver hitting a cyclist, severely injuring him, fleeing the scene of the accident, and not reporting that accident to the police. Did Mr. Erzinger really think no one would know/find out what happened? What if Dr. Milo had died as a result of the crash? Would the prosecutor decline to press charges then? I rather doubt it.

Ugh, I'm going for a ride. If you hit me while I'm out there, please stop and make sure I'm okay. If I'm not okay, call the paramedics. Thank you.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Bike Paths = Perplexing Conundrum?

As a person who studied recreation and resource management in college, I'm quite interested in the problem(s) voiced in this article:
Grist: We Need Real Bike Paths for Real Bike Transportation

This is a problem that has challenged recreation professionals for as long as the "multi-use path" has been around. How do we accommodate everyone and their respective preferred uses? How do we handle the resource when problems, such as crashes with injuries, occur? It's a hard set of questions to answer and one that planners, lawmakers, and users will have to deal with a lot more as traffic on these paths increases past the trails intended capacity.

And you thought recreation planners and other professionals got to run around outside and play all day. Nope, they make sure you have the spaces you run around on all day.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

She's Back!

HOORAY! Kristin will be back next season!
Kristin Armstrong aims to come back for 2010 Olympics

You can't see it, but my feet are doing their happy dance under the desk. I'm so excited!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 - Water

One of my favorite tops is this
blue t-shirt that I picked up this past spring. It's quite amazing and frightening if you think about it: "All the water that ever has been or ever will be is here..."

Most of the water on this planet is salt water, in the form of oceans, seas, etc. A good portion of the world's rivers, lakes, and springs aren't safe to drink without cleaning, filtering, processing, and even boiling. People in developed nations use a ton more fresh, potable water than those in developing or "third world" nations. Wars have been fought and are still being fought over water rights and access to clean water.

Now, all I'm asking you to do is think about it. And, if you can, look at your own water consumption. How long is your shower each day? Do you turn the water off when you brush your teeth or wash your hands? How often do you water your lawn? Do you buy bottled water, when you could be filling your Nalgene or Camelbak with the same stuff from your tap?|Start Petition

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coffee Primer: Straight from the Barista

A few of you know I work part-time as a barista. For all you non-coffee savvy individuals, that means I'm the one behind the bar at the local coffeehouse making your delicious cuppa. And while I don't make latte art like this I do good work.

Cycling and coffee have gone hand in hand for as long as anyone can remember. After all, it was an Italian who first patented his design for an espresso machine back in 1901 and some of the best manual machines are still Italian-made.

I've been at the game for a while, so I'm going to answer a few common questions (and situations) that I get when I'm behind the counter. I'd better be careful, or I'll start sounding like The Waiter.
~Please read the menu posted above and behind my head. It's an amazing device that spells out most of our drinks, as well as a list of our brewed coffee(s) of the day, hot teas, and iced teas. If you aren't clear on something that's listed, then ask questions.
~A "shot" of flavor syrup (ie. vanilla) isn't the same thing as a "pump". A shot is made up of more than one pump of flavor into your coffee cup, how many pumps depends on the volume of the cup. If you aren't sure how much flavor your usual latte gets, ask.
~I'm sorry, but I see a lot of people come through my shop everyday. I may have to make your drink more than once to remember what it is and exactly how you like it. Ask for your receipt or have the barista write down the drink for you if you can't remember all the adjustments.
~Tips in the jar are love and help us to do all sorts of wonderful things. Also, it isn't a "Take a penny, leave a penny" jar or a jar for you to make change for yourself. Those are our tips and our sock monkey will know if you've abused the jar.
~The shop can be noisy during the day/night with people talking, espresso shots pulling, and steam-wands frothing milk. All that makes it hard to hear when you whisper your order, please speak up a little.
~I would be happy to take your order as soon as you finish your conversation and hang up your cell-phone. Please don't get shirty with me when I ask what you'd like while you're on your phone and there's a line out the door. Thank you in advance.
~Decaffeinated beans require more processing to remove the caffeine. Thus, decaf. is more expensive than regular. Please don't blame me.
~Add-ons and/or substitutions like extra espresso shots, decaf. instead of regular, soy milk, whipped cream on certain drinks, etc. do cost extra money. Sorry, but we have to pay to bring it to you.
~Caffeine Content Of:
One 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic = 35mg
One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew = 54mg
One 12-ounce cup of coffee = approx. 230mg
Two shots of espresso (approx. 3.5 ounces) = 180mg
~Please don't look down your nose at me [because I work at a coffee shop]. Myself and others I work with have advanced degrees in biology, engineering, comparative literature, English and many other disciplines. We're smarter, more observant, and probably have better memory than you might give us credit for. Give respect and have patience, and we'll give it back to you along with a perfect latte.

Okay, that's enough of that! Now, I don't always handle caffeine very well, we're talking climbing the walls, tap-dancing on the ceiling, chasing my tail, twitchy energy that doesn't play well inside. Everyone I work with knows that I'm allowed one small cup of coffee per shift or per day, whichever is longer. But some caffeine is okay when I'm on a ride, it gives me that extra kick I usually need 11 miles into my ride. Two-shot espresso with two Raw Sugars, please! And then I add three creamers, swirl, consume, and I'm off again.

And you, what do you drink when you head to your local coffeehouse and/or on a ride?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Worse and Worse

Things are not looking good for Alberto:
New York Times: Tour Champ Contador Fails Second Doping Test

This is scary. Bernhard Kohl's comments at the end of the article? S**t. He had drugs in his system half the time and was only popped once? Unbelievable.

It seems like professional cycling has really become a Catch-22.
If you dope, you have a better chance of winning against other riders who are probably doping, thus you look good to the peloton, your sponsors, teammates, and fans. But you risk getting caught and having those wins taken away, loosing your livelihood, fans, and public respect and credibility.
If you don't dope, it's harder to win races against those who have an unfair advantage through doping, you risk losing your position on the team because you don't have results and you have a difficult time getting a new team for next season... It shouldn't be like this!

I'm thoroughly disgusted and right now, I'm this close to giving up hope that our beloved sport will ever be clean.

Ugh, I'm going for a ride.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wait, what?!

UPDATE: 9/30/2010 Alberto on doping report...
It looks like Alberto's experts are saying this is food contamination and ingestion was unintentional. I hope that's the case. I'm so sick of this.

I turned on my computer after my ride tonight and what do I find headlined on VeloNews, but this: Contador tests positive for low levels of clenbuterol

I have no idea what to think. Hopefully, a more complete story will unfold tomorrow at the press conference.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kristin Armstrong, Take Two?

This just came through the wire at the New York Times:
Olympian Kristin Armstrong Considers Comback

I, for one, would be ecstatic if she came back. I wonder who would step in to run PB & Co./TWENTY12 if she came back. But whatever she decides, I doubt we've heard the last of Kristin.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enforcing Artificial Speed Limits

I have a few reactions to this story:
City Pages: Greenway cyclists ticketed by phantom cop...
Star Tribune: Not so fast, officer warns bikers
Mpls Bike Love Forum - Police ticketing bikers on Greenway
1) The speed limit isn't 10mph on the Greenway
2) "You'll never catch me!"
3) Who is this phantom police officer, which city do they work for, and why are they radar-ing bikers when they could be out catching bad guys?

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system...
Don't "run" from the police, even on a bike. They will find a way to catch you and it isn't worth it. If an officer waves you over, move over and stop. BE POLITE. Officers are trained to be in control of a situation, so let them do their job and both of you will be easier for it.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cyclist Converses with Motorist, Part II

As promised, here's the second part of the interview with the slightly fictional "Motorist". The disclaimer from the previous entry applies here, too.

The roads are full of cars. Why don't you ride on the sidewalk?
I believe it's called a "sidewalk" for a reason. A sidewalk is meant for pedestrians to walk on, not for wheeled vehicles. In many communities, you will actually see signs posted that bicycles, Rollerblades, and skateboards are prohibited from sidewalk use. The space is often too uneven, narrow, or punctuated with obstacles to safely allow for riding.
I, myself, was on Nicollet Mall once, trying to get back onto the street, when a Minneapolis Police vehicle rolled up and informed me that I wasn't allowed on the sidewalk. I politely said I was attempting to figure out where I was and how to get back onto the street safely. They let me hop the curb onto the street in front of their vehicle and I was off like a shot before they could think of an excuse to detain me.

Okay, what about the bike paths? Couldn't you just stick to those?
The Twin Cities metro area has a wonderful network of bike paths and trails, and I love this area for that. However, wouldn't you get bored if you drove the same roads all the time, every day? How often do you end up at the end of your drive to work or the supermarket, and not remember the drive there? Dangerous for you and for the other drivers around you. To stave off boredom, vary training program needs, hit different landmarks and shops, and to view different scenery, cyclists mix up where they ride. Riders who love to ride the roads will often hit a favorite paved trail, too.

I never know how a cyclist is going to behave or where they're going when I pass them on the road. This makes me really nervous, what can I do?
Be alert. You don't know how the person in the car next to you on the highway is going to behave, or where they're going, do you? Yet you're comfortable driving there. One of the requirements of riding a bike on the road is riding in a safe, predictable manner and using hand turn signals. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen and there are careless cyclists out there, just like there are careless drivers. Again, stay alert and look around for that cyclist that may be in your blind spot(s).

Since they're riding bikes, cyclists don't pay the same taxes I do because I drive a car and buy gasoline. Since my taxes are paying for the roads, I should be able to use the road and cyclists shouldn't.
*snort* I'm curious, do you really believe that?
Nearly every cyclist that I know drives an automobile. We [cyclists] pay gas taxes, property taxes, renter's tax, sales tax, liquor taxes, should I continue? I assure you, we do pay the same taxes.
I will point out the vast conspiracy (shh!) for bikes to take over the world, as reported by the New York Times Spokes Blog on August 5, 2010. First the streets, then the world! As Matt Hill tweeted in response to the SpokesNYT (spokesnyt) August 5 entry, "Phase 1: Collect underpants." Are you laughing yet? I hope no one is taking this Dan Maes seriously, as his statements about the instituting of bike policies are absolutely ludicrous.

Cars and trucks were on the roads first, thus bikes don't belong on the road.
Ah, a history lesson, yummy! Actually, roads were originally paved to better accommodate the huge boom in bicycling in the 1890's (The Golden Age of Bicycles). That, and the bicycle and the horse and wheeled buggy were the two main forms of private transportation just before the invention of the automobile. To make these forms of transport easier, roads began to be graded and smoothed (Wikipedia, Bicycle History). So, bicycles have been around longer than automobiles and you have the bicycle to thank for the idea that roads should be smoothly paved and graded. ^_^

And that's it, for now. I hope you've found this two-part series educational, informative, and humorous. If you have a question that you'd like me address, leave me a comment or shoot me message through this blog.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cyclist Converses with Motorist, Part I

A few nights ago, I had a conversation with my folks about how a huge SUV had honked at me and zoomed past my left elbow way faster and closer than necessary on my afternoon ride. I had reacted by sitting up in the saddle, pounding my chest with a gloved fist and yelling, "Yes, I'm here!"

So, my parents asked, "Well, what should we do when we see a cyclist on the road? They scare us!" Wait, cyclists scare motorists? Really? Okay, then! Here's what I'd absolutely love you to do if you encounter me or any other cyclist on the road.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer or a police officer. This essay is a reflection of my own experiences and Minnesota state laws. Laws vary by state and even locality, be sure to check them out. The bold lettering is the motorist stating a question. The italicized lettering is my answer to that question/statement.

I hate it when I see cyclists on the road. I never know what they're going to do. I just want to get past them as soon as possible. What should I do?
Please don't honk your horn. We hate that, and it's dangerous. Cyclists can hear an approaching automobile very easily, an internal combustion engine is quite noisy compared to a bicycle. You don't need to honk to let us know that you're there, often we already know. Just continue to [safely] drive the way you normally do when there are other vehicles around. Be alert and both you and the cyclist should be okay.

But, you're going so... slow on the road! How am I supposed to pass you!?
Safely and respectfully, please. Bicycles are vehicles, too; and in Minnesota they have the same rights and duties to the road as a motor vehicle. If you wish to pass a cyclist, do so in a predictable and safe manner. Don't rev your engine or lead-foot it just to pass. Give the cyclist at least three feet of space when you pass, remember we're not enclosed in a steel and glass box to protect us. That traffic lane is wider than you think, and you might be able to pass without crossing the center-line. But if you aren't sure, err on the side of more room rather than less room, it's very frightening to have a two-ton vehicle buzz by six inches from your left elbow.

The shoulder is wide. Why do you always ride so close to the white dividing line? Shouldn't you be as close to the right as possible?
Yes and no. Statute 169.222, Subd. 4(3) states that a cyclist must ride as close to the right as is practicable. The thing is, there is often a lot of debris (glass, sand, gravel, branches, trash, etc.) on the shoulder that make operating a bicycle more hazardous than it otherwise is. The only clear path is closer to the traffic lanes, where automobiles have blown the small stuff to the side. Hence, that's where we ride.

What if there's no shoulder, only one lane, and you're in it? I want to pass and you're in my way!
I'm very sorry you feel I'm in your way, but I do have a right to the road. If you wish to pass, do so in the same [controlled and safe] manner that you would pass a slow-moving truck or tractor on the road. Wait for a widening of the road, another lane to open up, or a clear lane across the dashed yellow line. Pass smoothly and without honking your horn. If you honk, you may startle me into veering into your path. And that's not what either of us want to happen.

Cyclists are very rude to me when I pass them, even if I give them plenty of room. They yell, flip me the one-fingered salute... What's up with that?
Every cyclist who's ever ridden on the road has had at least one encounter with an angry driver who's done something to endanger their life. Some cyclists' feel that yelling, etc. is their only means of protecting themselves from something/someone that could squash them like a bug.
Personally, I try not to get angry or pay such a driver back in kind. It is childish and gives cyclists a bad reputation. Just smile and wave and let them stew. Getting angry and attempting to "teach them a lesson" (you know what I mean) could end up with one or both of you in the hospital or worse.

This is turning into a long entry, so I'll be posting a second part to this "interview" within the next couple days.

To read Minnesota's laws regarding the operation of a bicycle, go to Minnesota Legislature and retrieve Statute 169.222.

For more information on sharing the road in Minnesota, head to Share the Road Minnesota

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Product Review: Pearl Izumi Elite LTD Socks

I should first say that I love cycling socks. I mean really, truly love them. So much so that I wear them all four seasons. And for a Midwest resident, that is saying something.

I've worn Pearl Izumi socks before and count them among my favorites. The problem is they're often to rich for my wallet (at $10+ a pair), so I have to be really in love with them to cough up the dough. Enter the Elite LTD Socks. Come on, could you resist these? I couldn't; especially since I've got a new black, white, and red jersey to find matching socks for.

I rode in them for the first time this afternoon and they performed superbly. As you may have noticed, they are right and left specific so they fit like a dream. The compression in the arch keeps them in place and they don't bunch up anywhere. They also breathe really well, I can tell these are going to be my "go to" sock for really warm rides. Anyway, those heels make the sock, don't they? Yep, I'll be heading back to the bike shop to see if there are any more in my size. They shall be mine!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Steady Things in Life

I'm feeling melancholy today. You've been warned.

I've tried to keep my life outside of cycling and athletics out of this blog. But, alas, real life always comes a callin'. They say there are only two certain things in life: Death and taxes. I think I'll add a third: Riding my bicycle.

Let me explain a bit. I've been riding a bike in some form or another for over three quarters of my life. I've always been athletic and have usually been happiest while being active. Hence, my choice of coursework in college and the jobs I've had since I recieved my degree have all revolved around recreation, athletics, and/or bicycling in one form or another. The problem is work has been spotty at best and non-existent at the worst since I finished school. Riding my blue bicycle these past few years has been a way for me to always have something, other than my family and friends, that I can count on.

I could be having the worst day possible (and yesterday was), and be able to throw my leg over the frame and pedal away. If I choose a route I know very well, I don't have to think much, the bike just knows where to go. It's wonderfully freeing and it's a safe place to go.

Ah, well. As Miss O'Hara once said, "Tomorrow's another day".

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Eating Pavement Sucks...Again

Ugh, ouchy. If you have an aversion to descriptions of injuries, skip the third paragraph.

I was finishing a 40+ mile ride yesterday afternoon and zipping through an intersection when my front wheel got sucked into one of the gaps in the railroad tracks set into the pavement. Down I went and over the bars, too.

My right knee and leg are rashed up and swollen. My right elbow has a new hole and plenty of road rash. I wasn't wearing gloves (stupid!), thus the palms of my hands are scuffed and my right pinky knuckle is missing several layers of skin.

Reasons I'm Annoyed:
1.) This could have been avoided. I was in a hurry and cutting though the intersection on a line very close to one I'd done two days previous. Obviously, it didn't go so well this time.
2.) I wasn't wearing gloves; my hands were hot and I was trying to get some color on my "Mickey Mouse" hands. The possiblity of crashes like this are the reason you wear gloves in the first place!
3.) My injuries, while not as bad as my crash two years and 27 days ago, are in the same spots. My elbow was just starting to look a lot better and I was at peace with the nasty scars. Actually, I kinda liked them. Now, I've got to start the process all over again. Thank goodness my shoulder is only stiff and sore, not impinged like last time.
4.) Until my elbow heals a little and my shoulder can support more of my weight, I'm off the bike. It'll be at least a week, phooey.

How's my blue bicycle? Both brake levers are badly scuffed and turned inward, the shifting is carnage, and my back wheel is out of true. Thankfully, a mechanic I know is fixing it right up and it should be good to go in the morning. I'll have to make him cookies or something.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You're A Cyclist When...

If one or more of the following applies, the Matrix has you...
-Water bottles are beginning to outnumber drinking glasses in your house
-Jerseys, shorts, socks, etc. get the washer before your work clothes
-Your house looks like a launda-mat on the weekends (all your jerseys drying on hangers)
-Your idea of fun is riding 25+ miles before work
-Your idea of fun is riding 25+ miles after work
-You spend one hour or more washing, degrease-ing, and re-lubing your bike and wonder where the time went
-You aren't embarrassed by (and perhaps proudly show off) your tan lines
-Sitting in front of Versus for six hours and yelling your head off at the riders during the month of July is as good as it gets
-Gels and energy chews are an essential food group
-Days off are devoted to either racing or long rides
-You keep a pump, patch-kit, tire levers, and a spare tube in your automobile in case you see someone with a flat
-You know how to get somewhere on a bike, but get lost while trying to drive there

Can you think of any other quintessential traits of a slightly obsessed fan of the bicycle?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Watch the kid at 3:25 in this video. It isn't me, but his reaction was pretty much my reaction; except for sliding down the stairs and whipping off the jersey. I was running around the house yelling like a lunatic! Thank goodness no one else was home!


Watch the USA take on Ghana in the quarter finals tomorrow (Saturday the 26th) at 1:30pm CDT on ABC.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Here I Am!

No, I'm not dead, injured, or otherwise maimed. Yes, I'm very busy. This working seven days a week is nuts! Add volunteering into the mix and I'm busier than one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

Today, I was in Saint Paul at eight o'clock in the morning; course marshaling Stage 1 (time trial, Eddy Merckx style) of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. I was actually in the same spot (where the bike path crossed the course) as last year, which was a little boring for watching the action.

But, I was glad I was at that intersection. There were more people trying to cross the course than last year. A dude on a BMX bike blew right through my whistle, my orange flag, my yelling, and waving arms. A rider on the course was only six feet from hitting him! I spoke to some other course marshals and that same BMXer blew through the rest of the crossing points on the course, too. He's lucky he didn't cause a crash and get someone hurt!

I'll post some pictures as soon as I can. I think I got some good ones of the Trek-LiveStrong boys.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Have No Words

I'm sad, disappointed, angry, and heartbroken. I believed in this guy! I met him last summer in Minneapolis while volunteering at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, he autographed my copy of his book. I haven't thrown it in the bin yet, but I'm pissed enough to give it a ceremonial cremation.
Landis admits doping, alleges use by Armstrong, others
The cycling world reacts to Floyd Landis' accusations

So, Floyd's a doper, and has been for years. Yet he had the nerve to fight being stripped of his yellow jersey in 2006 after he tested positive, wrote a book about how innocent he was, and accepted other people's money for his defense (Floyd's Fairness Fund). He's got a lot of nerve showing his face anywhere near the sport right now, if you asked me.

I may write more later, after I've cooled down.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rocky Road from Dublin

I'm back from Ireland! I thought I'd drag my jet-lagged self over to my computer and let you know I'm not dead.

Our flight out of Dublin was delayed three hours because of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano sending up another huge ash cloud and thus we missed our connecting flight to Minneapolis. Being stuck in Newark Airport overnight is no fun, let me tell you. My sister slept on the luggage, I slept sitting up, and Mom didn't sleep at all. Talk about punchy!

I'm going to run through things I noticed in Ireland about bikes, roads, and riding; for your reading pleasure:
-The cars are smaller. The largest non-commercial vehicle I saw was a Land Rover Discovery. Quite nice, considering the price of petrol was 1.33 Euro per liter. That's about $5.00 per gallon, ouch.
-The roads are narrow. Think of a standard lane width and a three-foot shoulder here in the U.S. and that's a two lane national road in Ireland. There aren't shoulders, either, usually an old stone wall or a thick hedge-row.
-You have to pay anywhere from two to eight Euro to park your automobile in town. Thus, a lot of people take the bus, walk, or ride a bicycle to get groceries, run errands, etc. There are a lot of mountain bikes in the country and commuting bikes in town. I did see a bike courier coming out of a business in Dublin, he had a worn but well-kept road bike.
-Road signage is smaller and hard to read if you're used to the signage in the US. Street signs are posted on corner buildings or not at all. Also, streets frequently change names every block, rather than at city limits.
-Round-abouts are used instead of four-way stop intersections, and I think that's a good thing. It's easier and I think safer, because those in the circle are already moving at a fairly low speed, so all you have to do is get up to speed. If you miss your exit, you just go around again.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Out of the Office

I'm dropping y'all a note before the wheels go up.

Yep, I'm leaving on holiday for a couple weeks. I won't be here yammering away about tuning up my bike or the fact that I really need new cleats.

Enjoy the sunshine and warming temperatures in Minnesota, everyone!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We're Number One!

Star Tribune: When it comes to two wheels, we're Number One
Flabergasted, that's a good word to decribe me. My dad sent me the article and I ended up coughing on my morning cup of tea. Bicycling Magazine has ranked Minneapolis, Minnesota as the most bike-friendly city in the United States for 2010.

I know Minneapolis has quite a lot of bike trails and of course, our bike highways The Greenway and the Ceder Lake Trail, but we beat out Portland?

UPDATED 4/12/10:
After reading Steve Friedman's article, I'm still a bit at a loss as to what the big deal is about Minneapolis. Yes, a lot of urban commuters ride through the winter here. We've got some dedicated bike lanes downtown, and a veritable network of bike trails around the city and it's suburbs. Perhaps because I grew up with all of this in my backyard, I find it ordinary, expected even, not remarkable. I'm used to riding on the roads around Lake Minnetonka, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet in the summertime. Quite a few roads around the Twin Cities area have wide shoulders that are kept in good condition and swept clean of sand in the spring, perfect for riding.

Maybe, as Mr. Friedman notes, the remarkable thing about Minneapolis is that those of us who live and work here don't always see how remarkable our bike culture is. To us, this is ordinary. This town takes all types of bikers, most riders are happy to see so many other people on two wheels that the type of bike doesn't matter. (Except for that guy who rides in a Speedo; dude, seriously?) Few people are pretentious about riding here, I've found; and the one's that are don't last too long. Or just they hang around with other pretintious riders, and thus, fall off my radar.

I guess, all in all, we've got a good thing going here in the MiniApple.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nix the Pistol, Alberto

Reconstructive surgery places Contador's season in doubt
Sounds like there's some doubt about whether Alberto Contador will be able to continue to race this season. Why? He's messed up his right hand from doing his signature "finger-bang". You wouldn't think that was particularly strenuous, but apparently, Alberto repeats this gesture 200 to 300 times a day and with such vigor that he's developed a "repetitive motion syndrome" that makes him unable to grip the brake hoods, shift gears, or grab the brakes.

I'd advise you to nix the pistol, Alberto; or at least tone it down. Your hand will thank you for it.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Over Drive" - Road Cycling, Anime Style

It might surprise you that I have interests outside the world of cycling. Shocking, I know. One of them is Japanese animation, or anime.

I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose, that someone created an anime centering on road cycling & racing. There's anime on just about every subject out there: History, martial arts, spaceships, robots, racing cars, tennis... Why not teenage angst + cycling? You see, in Japan, animation is given the same respect and leeway as live action, so there are many different types of anime; just because a show or movie is animated, doesn't mean it's intended for kids.

In the first episode (Boy Meets Bicycle, Part 1) of Over Drive, we meet high school freshman Mikoto Shinozaki during his first week at his new school. He's an artist, a bit of a slob & a klutz, and half in love with Yuki Fukazawa, a very pretty classmate. She encourages him to join the cycling club as a way of changing himself and improving his image.

The problem is Mikoto can't even ride a bicycle, and protests that he has no athletic ability. Still, to impress the girl of his dreams, he's going to learn the sport.

Here's an action sequence, the second part of three, from episode 18:

You can find all 26 episodes on YouTube user dansam39's channel or episodes 15 - 21 on percom132's channel.

Finally! Something that combines two of my obsessions, anime and road cycling.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blessing of the Bicycles, Minneapolis Edition

What: Blessing of the Bicycles
When: Sunday May 2, 2010 @ 1:00pm
Where: Basilica of Saint Mary, the Basilica Plaza
Hennepin Avenue between 16th & 17th Streets
Minneapolis, MN
More Information: It sounds like there's going to be vendors on site and a bike ride/tour afterwards.

If you go, have a good time! Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wearing the Green

Contrary to what you might guess, I'm not nursing a post-Saint Patrick's Day hangover. Nope, I'm talking about the first outdoor ride of the season, which was this afternoon. It was the perfect way to celebrate the coming spring and the saint's day, by enjoying myself outside after a snowy winter.

I waited until around three o'clock to leave, as I wanted it to be as warm as possible for the ride. If there's one thing I hate, it's riding alone when it's cold. Surprisingly, my tires still had some pressure in them, too. I guess those tubes I installed in the last few weeks of last season are doing their job.

Good Things About the Ride:
-The weather was nice, around 60 degrees; and the sun was out.
-Most of the snow and melt water is gone, so I didn't come home wet and smelling like dog-s***.
-I didn't go very far or very fast. It was nice to just enjoy being outside again.
-No malicious incidents or gestures with automobiles; although I think the Squirrel Mafia is still out to get me.
-I wore one of my favorite jerseys: Green with "IRELAND" emblazoned on the front, back, and sleeves.
-I'm not fat, really. I didn't gain too much weight (a few pounds?) over the winter and my sister even commented that I've lost some more weight since Christmas.
-I didn't really sweat, which is a good thing, as I had to leave for a dinner appointment pretty quick after I got home.
-I actually got out there and did it, which is hard in the spring.

Annoying Things About the Ride:
-There's still sand and road debris everywhere. I'm surprised I didn't flat from all that glass.
-I felt like I was coughing up a lung. I hate that! It interferes with breathing.
-While I'm not fat, I am slow. Ah, the annual spring rite of passage: Pounding myself back into shape.
-One bad snot-rocket aim got it all over my jersey, yuck!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Has Sprung?

The weather here has been absolutely phenominal, for Minnesota, anyway. We've had a string of 35-40 degree days that has melted most of the snow that was on the ground. All sorts of things are being revealed by the melting snow: Driveways, mailboxes, bushes, sidewalks, bike paths, brown grass, small dogs...

My boss asked me today how badly I was jonesing to ride my bike outside. I, of course, answered "Really bad." I should probably take it in for the guys to look at and make sure everything is still ship-shape-and-bristol fashion. I've heard a rumor that Monday and Tuesday may be above 50 degrees. If that's the case, I'm going for a ride!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

I love pomp and circumstance before sporting events.

Rituals before and during sporting events are important. As a hockey player in high school and college, I would always go into the locker room a little earlier than my teammates to start putting my gear on. I saved putting my helmet on for right before our coach came in for a final pep-talk before the game. Putting on my helmet meant it was go-time, and I was going to play my heart out. I got the same thrill each and every time I stepped onto the ice.

I was exposed to rugby in college, as one of my club hockey teammates and a fellow recreation major had previously played. It always looked like fun, but my teammate was forever recovering from concussions, so I decided playing might not be the greatest idea. I don't remember how I found out about the New Zealand All Blacks, but I remember being impressed by their black uniforms and the speed that they ran down the field.

Watching/listening to the hakas performed by these teams before tests (matches, games) really pump me up. "Haka" is the Maori word for dance, and each haka tells a different story. They are performed before important matches to show the teams intent and to intimidate the opposing team. I sometimes keep the Kamate Haka on Repeat on my iPod before bike races. I'd love to learn it, but I think I might have to start playing rugby for that.

Adidas "Impossible is Nothing" TV Spot - New Zealand All Blacks

2007 Churchill Cup - New Zealand Maori vs. Ireland A - Timatanga Haka

New Zealand All Blacks vs. France - Kamate Haka

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Casualty in the War on Doping

As the maintainer and author of this blog, I feel it's sort-of my duty to report news of import in the professional cycling world. What my favorite riderrs are up to, major changes in how races are conducted, who's racing where, stuff like that.

One of my favorite domestic pro riders, Tom Zirbel has announced his retirement from professional cycling after being handed a two-year suspension following a positive test for DHEA at the 2009 U.S. Pro Time Trial Championships.

*heavy sigh*

I had the opportunity to watch Tom race with the Bissel squad this summer at the Nature Valley Grand Prix and the thing that struck me about him was his genuineness and his smile. In every interview clip I saw and every interview I read, he was happy to be riding his bike and enjoying being in the leader's jersey. I'm sorry to see the peloton loose such a rider.

Tom seems to be taking it in stride, though, and good for him. Sounds like he'll be searching for a job and getting back to other activities and causes that matter to him. Pretty good for a guy who's had his world turn on it's ear.

Good luck, Tom!

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Are We There Yet?

I think Mother Nature is playing pranks on me. Outside, the sun is shining and snow is melting off the roofs. I hear birds singing. Can it be? Has spring come early to Minnesota?

Alas, no. It's only 24º F and likely to stay there for a while yet.

I often remark to co-workers that my brain doesn't really realize that it isn't summer anymore. Even with the snow on the ground, it takes me a minute to remember I can't come home from work at 5:30 in the afternoon, throw on my jersey and shorts, and go for a ride.

I'm dreaming of endless, smooth, curvy asphalt roads, the sun shining warm overhead, and temperatures in the 70's. Are we there yet?

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Question Answered: Whey Protein vs. Soy Protein

You may think checking the headlines and articles at several times a day is a bit extreme, but it's how I stay updated on pro cycling news and amped up for cycling during the off-season.

Anyway, I've been contemplating what else I can do to up my endurance and strength on the bike, besides adding miles. I'm not a nutritionist or exercise physiologist, but I noticed that my performance, recovery, and muscle tone got better when I was using whey protein after rides in July and August. I figure that since my muscles had more protein to draw from, they were better able to rebuild themselves after me tearing them up (literally) while exercising.

It turns out that what I remember from my high school weightlifting class and my brushes with sports nutrition in college tae kwon do and cycling are correct. Check out this article regarding whey protein versus soy protein. I'm not lactose-intolerant, but this is excellent stuff to know. I can make a more educated decision when I head to GNC for protein powder.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bike Films on the Web

I'd like to thank Bike Snob NYC for calling several cycling related films to my attention, either directly or through exploring links on his blog. Seriously dude, you rock.

Beyond the Peloton - A look at Cervelo TestTeam's journey through the 2009 season. From an explaination of Cervelo's roots, through the spring classics, and all the way through the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. This film is particularly cool because it was filmed by a couple guys who work at Cervelo's warehouse. Cool gig!

Pedaling: NYC - A series of shorts involving people, food, wine, beer, and riding in New York City. Of the two episodes that are up, the first involves a couple bicycle-commuting chefs looking to create the perfect local ingrediant pizza and the second has two professional women racers looking for a sweet Belgian waffle, New York sidewalk-cart style.

Empire Begins - A work-in-progress about messangers riding fixies in often dangerous ways in New York City. Apparently it's been in production for a few years and who knows when it will be finished. You can learn more at

If you know of other films I should be checking out, shoot me a comment. I mean, besdes Quicksilver, Breaking Away, and American Flyers.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Product Review: Chrome Chuey Cycling Cap

I own precisely two cycling caps.

One is a black and yellow affair with "Minnesota Bicycle Festival" embroidered on the front. It was, along with my red "Volunteers only" t-shirt, my souvenir from my week of volunteering with the Nature Valley Grand Prix this past June. I should say that since this cap is rare (I snapped up one of the last ones) I don't wear it very often, especially under a helmet.

The second is my new Chrome Chuey Cycling Cap, made especially for Chrome by Chuey Brand.
This cap is made out of a tough-weave, black cotton; like they make military ACUs out of. There's a checkered, rip-stop pattern to it that I love. I think I could drag it through WWIII (or my next bike crash) and it would still look good and function well.

The fit is excellent, it comes down just enough to grip the base of my skull and around my head. They've put just the right amount of elastic in the back to ensure a snug fit that doesn't cut off all the circulation to my brain. The bill is flexible, rather than stiff like most cycling caps. You won't be able to flip it up or down, as you traditionally would. I like it, actually. The bill is a little shorter than other cycling caps, and fits under the brim of my helmet perfectly.Peek-a-boo!

Does it keep my head warm while riding? I haven't taken the opportunity to ride outside, since we're in the depths of a Minnesota Winter. But I have no doubt that once the mercury rises above 50 degrees that I'll be out there testing it out.

Chuey hand makes every cap they sell. According to their website, Chuey is a three-person operation based in San Francisco, CA. Pretty impressive since these caps are becoming insanely popular, just check out the Flickr Photostream for the evidence.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Specialized Films - Outlaw in Lycra

I found this a few years ago when someone in my college cycling club shot everyone else an e-mail link. It was a huge source of amusement and prompted us to swap many 'bike vs. car' stories over pasta and beer at Noodles & Co. late at night when we were supposed to be conducting club business.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 and Looking Ahead to 2010

I'm not fond of New Year's resolutions. They're either way too lofty or simply ridiculous. At least, that's what happens when I attempt to make them.

The year 2009 was a breakthrough for me on the bike. As I was under-employed for the entire spring/summer/autumn riding season, I made it a point to be on the bike as much as I could reasonably be; meaning I was cranking out roughly 150 miles or more per week. For the first time, I logged over 1,000 miles in one season. That's a really cool milestone to pass.

I made the decision to not race at all this past season. I didn't want the pressure of getting up and performing on command. Instead, I focused on putting on the miles and enjoying myself while I was out there. It was, I think, a good way to approach the summer.

Along with consciously increasing my mileage, I began to notice how my body reacted to this increased amount of riding. I definitely lost some weight, I gained the coveted "calf-notch" and some nice leg-muscle definition, the laser-etched tan lines that cyclists are known for...

Oh, I was (still am) really psyched about this: My balance has improved so much that I can now ride with no hands on the handlebar. My friend Sheryl thought it was quite amusing when I triumphantly showed off this new trick on our Wednesday night ride. "You've never been able to do that? My kids can do that." Thanks very much, you sure know how to boost someone's confidence. ^_^

Other riders also noticed and commented on my love/hate relationship with hills. I like to climb, sometimes. Most of the time I climb the way I do because I want to get to the top as quickly as possible. I love standing out of the seat, the cadence of my feet as I tick over the cranks, and the triumph when I finally come over the crest of a hill. The thing is, I tend to get twitchy and attack too early, regardless of the situation. The joke goes something like, "Look C, it's a hill; Attack!" And off I go. Yep, I'm going to have to work on that.

So, what do I want to shoot for this year? Beating 1,500 miles would be pretty awesome. Here are a couple more ideas for myself:
-Figure out how to time a sprint and execute correctly
-Work on not attacking hills too early & blowing up halfway through
-Write a new weight-lifting program and figure out a cheap way to follow it
-Run on the treadmill when I can't ride outside (I'm so sick of the cold weather)

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.