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.