are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Radioshack (The Next Generation)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Commerical Appeal (Retro Rapha)

OK. I admit it. This isn't a commercial for Rapha. It's not even a commercial.

These are some clips from A Day Out, the Alan Bennet penned, Stephen Frears directed, BBC short, circa 1972.

Black & White, tweed, facial hair, wool caps, cobbled roads, steel bikes ridden at a mind numbing leisurely pace... can you blame me for thinking it was a Rapha ad?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's a Rad World

Thursday, November 5, 2009

T-Shirt Time Capsule

Yesterday I was bored and curious, so I did what everyone with a computer does when they're bored and curious - I started googling. What was I googling, you may ask? The first race I ever did - the Durant's Downtown Danbury Criterium.

This is what I found:
Danbury Bicycle Races

Last year 500 bicyclers participated in the Downtown Danbury Criterium. This year, with nine races scheduled from 8 A.M. and 3 P.M. today, up to 900 participants are expected. No more than 100 cyclers are permitted to race at any one time.

The start and finish lines are on Main Street near the Public Library. Entry fees, due at the starting line, are $5 to $8 depending upon the age of the cyclist and length of the race. The course runs down Main Street onto White Street, Ives Street and Liberty Street, and back to Main Street.

Distances range from 10 to 50 laps; each lap is seven-tenths of a mile. The last race begins at 1 P.M., with awards ceremonies scheduled to begin around 2 P.M. Cash prizes of $10 to $60 will be awarded in numerous categories, including children, novice, United States Cycling Federation members and seniors.

No one will be permitted to race without a helmet. All involved downtown streets will be closed to traffic from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.
Considering that my race lasted about a lap, I don't recall much from it. As a matter of fact, I really only remember two things. The first was that I was the only guy with toeclips. That was far from helpful, and a convenient excuse for the brevity of my race. The second thing was the t-shirt I got for signing up. For some reason (probably the color - florescent pink) I actually wore it for years.

Being a pack rat when it comes to t-shirts, I started to wonder what happened to it. After a recent move, i had access to boxes whose contents hadn't seen the light of day for years. I hoped to find that old t-shirt, if for no better reason than nostalgia. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.

Nope. No hot pink t shirt faded to a dull salmon, but to my surprise I did find a t-shirt from my second race, the Tour of Holland (New Jersey, not the Netherlands).

That one didn't go down much better than the first, but the toeclips were not to blame: the steep climb and a poor choice of gears on the other hand... well, let's just say it was a memorable experience. The teal T-shirt, with its early desktop publishing font of choice - futura - may not have the clumsy caché of the Danbury shirt, but surprisingly it still fits.

What more could I ask for?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hey Lance, where was the love for Kenny Scharf?


I have to admit that Lance Armstrong's custom bike paint jobs have always left me somewhat dubious. If I wanted to be cynical, then I could point out how the whole project isn't very far off of Chicago's Cow parade, and all of the imitations that have come since. The one thing that has kept me being a complete cynic has been Armstrong's palpable pleasure in the creations by the chosen artists and designers.

The report from the Sotheby's auction "It's about the bike" has come in, and with some interesting results.

Unsurprisingly, the butterfly adorned bike by YBA (perhaps MABA is more appropriate these days?) Damien Hirst fetched the highest price of $500,000. For all we know, Hirst and an anonymous investor group bought the bike back. It wouldn't be a first. A distant 2nd to Hirst, was the considerably more understated bike by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, which went for $200,000. In third place comes street artist, turned hipster entrepreneur KAWS, who's surprisingly elegant design brought in $160,000.

Perhaps the biggest surprise - to me - was the fact that the Trek Project 1 bike, created when Armstrong announced his comeback from retirement, hauled in $130,000. Unlike the other bikes, this one was created by a group of anonymous designers, as opposed to a group of anonymous designers working for a famous artist and/or designer. Then again, the bike has a good story.

I had expected the fussy and frilly bike done by street artist turned copyright infringer Shepard Fairey, to bring in a bit more than the $110,000. I guess that's what happens when you let yourself get over exposed? Maybe he should have asked Damien Hirst for some suggestions?

The $110,000, that the shiny black bike created by designer Mark Newson, brought in was also slightly lower than I anticipated. especially considering how high his work soared not so long ago. Then again, I haven't followed his market value for a while.

So, a night of surprises. That is, apart from poor old Kenny Scharf. I've never been a big fan of his bubble gum pop art. Too slick, trick, shiny. All gloss, no glory. That said, this time he came up with a reasonably attractive and - for him - understated design. Perahaps too understated, because his creation only managed to bring in a 'meager' $45,000. Poor guy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Commercial Appeal (Fredelcious Beer)

What did he say? That would be telling.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Commercial Appeal (touring)

Once again the Dutch provide a commercial with a cycling involved. This one, for a mobile phone sim card, is quite simple: a guy, taking a break from his cycling tour, calling back home. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ball Busting Bikers

Some people say bike racing is for losers. Ha. They never heard of Cycle Ball.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Commercial Appeal (Ik ben Leontien)

The latest commercial with cycling and/or a cyclist popping up. Considering that the commercial is for energy company Eneco, who happen to sponsor the Eneco Tour, it shouldn't be a hug surprise that they choose legendary Leontien van Moorsel as their star.

As far as commercials go, this one isn't very interesting, or funny for that matter. The highest marks I can give it is for its nod to Spartacus. Can't win them all.

Then again, it leaves me to wonder if I actually met the real Leontien?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bunnyhopping the Bandwagon

You've been made aware.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


While watching today's coverage of the Vuelta, I spotted a someone standing on te side of the road, holding a sign that read "Siempre Chava", as in José María Jiménez. Considering that the stage was finishing in Ávila, the hometown of Jiménez, as well as his brother-in-law Carlos Sastre.

At risk of getting sentimental about yet another Iberian climber, I thought I found myself digging around youtube to see if there were any videos worth posting. This is probably the best, although I'll never understand why people feel compelled to add cheesy music to cycling footage. I blame Phil Ligget.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hold the Mayo

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It’s difficult to believe that six years have passed since Iban Mayo put his name on the map, so to speak. On the 20th virage of Alpe d’Huez, to be specific. Moments after an early attack by Joseba Beloki was reeled in by Lance Armstrong, Mayo stormed off on his own, with a little over 7 kms to go to the top of Alpe d’Huez, winning by 1’45”. After that he had the hopes and aspirations of Basque cycling fans planted firmly on his narrow shoulders.

I still remember how excited a friend of mine from San Sebastian was, with his talk of the next Basque Tour winner. I can also remember how he made lycra shoe covers, orange kits, and Orbeas seem cool.

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image courtesy Christian Gianti

After shattering the record for ascending the Ventoux the month before, Mayo started the 2004 Tour as a clear threat to Armstrong. That threat never made it past the third stage, where Mayo crashed on the cobbles of northern France, and then proceeded to lose almost 4' to the favorites, and another 1’30” to Armstrong in the Team Time Trial the following day.

What was to be a coronation in the Pyrenees, with thousands upon thousands of Orange clad Basque fans lining the road, turned out to be a wash, with Mayo attempting to abandon on the second day in the mountains, only to be talked out of it. My friend, who was one of those thousands, had to solace himself in watching his compatriots jeer Armstrong and Basso, as he waiting for Mayo to ride by over half an hour later.

After the 2004 Tour, Mayo floundered, riding an anonymous Tour in 2005, to finish 60th overall. The following year, he hinted at a comeback when he won a stage at Dauphiné Libéré, during his build up for the Tour. That brief spark of his past genius failed to materialize at the Tour. Once again, he rode anonymously. The only memorable moment being the footage of his attempt abandon discretely. Thanks to a cameraman, who would ignore Mayo’s pleas to leave him alone, he couldn’t achieve that goal.

By the end of the year, Mayo would end his six year long association with Euskatel Euskadi, opting go to Saunier Duval-Prodir and try yet another comeback. Things seem to improve. Perhaps it was the change of venue. Perhaps it was the fact that his fiend, and mentor, Joxean Fernández Maxtin was part of the organization. In his year at Saunier Duval, Mayo would win a stage at the Giro, then follow it up with a solid, if unspectacular 16th place in the Tour.

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Whatever hopes he had of building on his comeback were put to the wayside by a positive test for EPO. When the B sample resulted in an inconclusive result, the UCI had the B sample re-tested (to get their desired result?). To some (many?) it appeared that the UCI had a vendetta.

Mayo received a two year ban, which ended this summer. On Sunday, Mayo announced in the Spanish paper El Correo that there would be no more comebacks. Pity.

Agur Iban, and Gora, Gora, Gora.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nevermind the Kraftwerk, Here comes the Gasoline

In a land that is rich in cycling talent, but shockingly poor in musical talent, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a band has released a song in honor of a cyclist. Yet it has. At least to me, until I discovered the story behind the song.

It turns out that Koos Morenhout is a big fan of the Dutch band, The Gasoline Brothers. He liked them so much, he plugged them on his twitter account, which lead to the band's popularity spreading in the professional peloton. One thing lead to another, and the band promised to write a song for him if he won the Dutch Championships.

With an incentive like that, how could Koosje not win? By the end of August, a single called There it goes (for Koos), was released, and has since become the thing of tabloids and blogs throughout the lowlands, and has even had its share of viral marketing at the Vuelta.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Do what I say, not what I do

After a month off from racing, I found myself in a breakaway with +/-15 riders yesterday. How I got there, I’m still not sure. I suspect that it had something to do with one particular rider, tearing it up for two laps, and in the process shedding the peloton.

Once the gap was established, our group worked well, eventually lapping the field on the 2.5km course.

I hate when that happens. There’s always some lapped joker trying to jump in, and/or the final sprint gets all screwed up when lapped riders mix in. It drives me insane.

With a lap to go for the Masters (it was a mixed race) I rode off with one of my breakaway companions. We dangled off the front for half of a lap, until we realized it was pointless to continue.

As soon as we were caught the field slowed. Everyone soft pedaled. Lapped riders, marking each other. Pointless. That's when one of the lapped riders jumped.

I watched. There was no rush. I only had to mark my fellow break companions, one of which started to reel him in. The moment that the lapped rider saw a chase, he sat up.

I rode up to him and shouted "you've got to believe in yourself", and smiled. That's when - for some reason – I looked behind, and saw a gap. Everyone was still marking each other. I thought, ever so briefly, about what I had just said. What was the worst that I could finish, 4th?

I shifted into a bigger gear. There was 900, 800, 700 meters to go? Don’t think, do. Believe in your self.

I looked over my shoulders. The gap had grown.

I hit the main obstacle of the course, a viaduct with a short, sharp hill. As I crested it, I turned to look. I thought to myself “you’ve got to believe in yourself.” The gap was still there.

As the road dipped, I shifted again. 500 meters to go. I looked briefly at my speed, not that it mattered. My legs were burning. I tried to believe in myself.

400 meters to go. Believe in yourself.

300 meters to go. Don’t look. Believe in yourself.

250 meters to go.

200 meters to go.

150 meters to go. It doesn’t matter. I look. The gap remains.

100 meters to go, and I get out of the saddle and squeeze out whatever energy I have left.

50 meters to go.

30 meters to go.


I cross the line, and look back. The gap is still there.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hang the DJ

You've just finished the most stressful race of your life, fighting back rivals and supposed teammates. All you want to do is kick back and celebrate, but before that there's a small ceremony, in front of thousands of live witnesses, and millions watching on TV. The culmination of which is towhen your your national anthem plays to the Parsian public.

Only one small problem, someone played the Der er et yndigt land, instead of the Marcha Real.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Podium for You

So say the Badger.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Chance encounters

It was warm, and slightly humid. At least warm and humid for Amsterdam.

I decide to go for a short ride, out to the Ronde Hoep. Nice and easy. No helmet, just sunglasses and cap. Since the sun was out, I put some oil on my legs, hoping to catch some extra tan. In short - i was being a big poseur.

Until two weeks ago, it was only took a hop, skip, and a jump to get out of town. Now I'm in the center, and have to go across town. While it takes more time, and can be a pain with all of the red lights, i prefer it. It reminds me that i'm living in a city (or something like a city).

Anyway, I'm making my way to the Amstel, and I pass a woman, wearing a green dress, and a black shirt. something about the profile that i catch out of the corner of my eye seems familiar.

I turn, and realize who it is.

Hala, I shout.

Who's that?, she asks.

Then she realizes it's me, and tells me that she's just back from seeing our mutual friend - which is how we know each other - in London.

Then I realize that I'm in my bike clothes, and suddenly become too self conscious for my own good. We exchange a few pleasantries, and I say goodbye.

After all of these years, you'd think I'd have gotten over that. Maybe it was the oil on the legs?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rest day = Jury day.

Monday, July 13th. Rest day at the Tour de France.

As it happens, it's also a rest day for yours truly. What's a boy to do on his rest day? Help out wit the sign in and whatnot at his local training race.


Andre, the man who makes it all happen.


Rene and Floris, doing their thing for our thing.


Fashion faux pas.



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Flashback '99


It's a little difficult to believe that this was the issue of Cycle Sport that was on the shelves ten years ago.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The End

Friday, June 26, 2009

Civilization means...

civic service.

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Shot at 2009-06-25

Monday, June 15, 2009

The things you say...

When I'm racing, I'm one of those talkers. I don't mean an 'on your left' type of talker. I don't even mean a 'hold your line' kind of talker, although I've been known to shout that. Nope. I mean a Tourette's, mixed with some attempts at humor thrown in, kind of talker.

Try as I might, I can't hide my frustration with the way certain people ride. I've been known to shout to the peloton, after just being reeled back from a break, that it was some one's turn to counterattack. I've been known to call a badly organized break a group of prutsers. I've also been known to address riders in very direct language. That said, I try and save it only for the appropriate situations, and/or for people who really need it.

If I'm not digging too deep, I'll address my colleagues in Dutch. This usually lasts for the first 10-15 minutes of a race. After that, I'd guess that most of what I say is lost on my fellow racers. Mostly because it's in English, or in heavily accented Dutch, or a mix of the two. Considering some of the things that I say, perhaps it's a good thing that there's a language barrier.

That said, while I generally never remember my stream of conscious rants, sometimes some people do. On Saturday a guy came up to me and asked what I had said at a training race the week before. I had no clue what he meant, and muttered "I said a lot of things", which was true. When he elaborated, and told me when I said it, I knew what he meant.

Apparently it struck a cord, because he was one of 5-6 guys (who were racing in the 50+ category in a mixed cat training race) who asked me about it.

What did I say?

This: "een bidon van viagra voor de winnar", which translates as "a bottle of viagra for the winner." I've never seen a pack of 50 plus racers sprint so fast.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Le Professeur

The recent news of Laurent Fignon's battle with cancer comes as shock. Like many cycling fans from the US, he will always be linked to the 1989 Tour de France. That is a pity, especially when you take into account his career as a whole ( including 2 Tour victories, one Giro de Italia, and twice at Milano - San Remo).

Let's hope that Fignon fights his disease as tenaciously as he did his competition. On that note, I present a short clip of Fignon's last professional victory.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time is on my side

No matter where you go, there you are

Buckaroo Bonzai.

I’ve often been asked what it’s like riding in Europe, and if it was much different than the US. I could go on about the cultural differences, or the differences of type of races, or style of racing... but I don't. Nope. the biggest difference, to me, is that most of the people I ride and race with grew up with the sport.

While I can’t say the same, I have been riding for a while. Long enough to know what racing with toes clips and down tube shifters is like. I once even managed to race in a white patent leather Cinelli hairnet, but that was a one off in Belgium. Done mostly so I could say I did it. Sad I know. Old, but not ancient. That’s me, or so I’d like to think.

One of the benefits of age is experience. Granted, I’m not the ‘wily old vet’ I wish I was, but I’m not a babe in the woods either. At the very least, I can spot a good thing when I see it, which brings me to a race from this past weekend, where I found myself in a breakaway, with something like 14-15 other racers.

To those who don’t race, finding good breakaway companions can make for an easier race. At least that’s the theory. If things go according to plan, all you have to do is take your turn in the rotation, and everyone will be happy. This is what I attempted to do, sometimes more successfully than others. After all, I’m only human, and I’m not exactly a spring chicken.

As you may also know, if you spend enough time with breakaway companions, you tend to notice small things. It’s like being stuck in an elevator, or a sleeper car on a train, with strangers. Normally you check out the bikes they ride, the quirks of their pedaling technique, the fact that the stitching of their chamois has popped, etc.

On Saturday, the one thing about my breakaway companions that left an indelible impression was how young they appeared. It's difficult to keep your morale up when you're groveling on the wheel of a poster boy for clearasil. It's even tougher when you get called squirrely by a someone who's probably young enough to be your kid. It was only later, after the race, when I was able to check the results that I learned that there were a few who were born around the time I first applied for a racing license.

Old, but not ancient? Hmmm… Maybe, one of these days, I might even be able to call myself wily.

Flemish humor

Not one of the four, but one of the one.

If you cab=n understand Dutch/Flemish you might get a laugh. If not, helaas pindakaas.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Return of the Flying Scotsman

I noticed that Graeme Obree is back in the news, with another one of his contraptions. Obree, and his tale of ups and downs, always brings back memories.

Back in the Autumn of 1992, I moved from the East Village of NYC to Edinburgh, Scotland. Culture shock doesn't even begin to describe what I experienced. The one thing that helped me transition from a cosmopolitan, multicultural city with good weather and even better food, to a provincial capital (even if it happens to be a stunning capital) was cycling.

It didn't take long to meet folk who like to wear lycra, shave their legs, and dish out abuse to friends and foes who share the same passion. The one thing that struck me as odd, was the cover boy of Scottish Cycling, namely Graeme Obree.

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Regardless of what he went on to do, the image on the cover of the SCU Handbook was the one of those "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas moments." I still wonder if I should have seen that as a sign, and caught the next flight back to the Big Apple.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Commercial Appeal (Spin the Sidi?)

Lord only knows what Alberto Contador will do to the person the shoes stops at.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Black Cat, up!

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”
Groucho Marx
When it comes to cycling, I'm pretty superstitious. Just last week I shouted at a black cat, trying to scare it, as it attempted to cross the road. The cat ignored me, and scurried across my path. Fortunately nothing happened to me that day. Must have been my lucky charms.

Speaking of luck and superstition, I find myself wondering how superstitious Topsport Vlaanderen rider Ben Hermans is? I hope not very, but seeing as he 's a professional cyclist, my guess is that he is. If so, I hope someone lit some candles for him last night. He's going to need it after what happened in yesterday's first stage of the Ronde van Belgie.

Warning - if you're a cat lover, this may be a little difficult to watch.

This just in!
Sporza is reporting that a family in the village where the cat was run over, reported that they had 9 cats, and one of them didn't come home last night. The cat, whose name was Zorro, was found dead on the side of the road. After reporting the details of the deceased feline, Karl Van Nieuwkerke and Michel Wuyts paused for a minute of silence, in memory of Zorro.

This just in (continued)

"The animal probably didn't survive. I heard the spine cracking. Pity, but I couldn't avoid the cat. Luckily I didn't crash," said Hermans.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SRC (Côtes La Redoute, take 3)

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Shot at 2009-05-26

“There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it” Alfred Hitchcok

The alarm clock wakes me at 4:30AM. Ridiculously early. This is the time I should be coming home, not going out, but less than an hour later, out I go. It’s a twenty-minute journey to my ride to Maastricht. For once I’m not the last to arrive. We pack our bikes into the car, and squeeze into the seats. If all goes according to plan, in a little over five hours I will finish something I started 11 years ago.

As we make our way south, we note that we are not alone. Every other car has a racing bike on the roof, or the trunk, or inside. It’s a procession, the Ascension procession, better known as the Steven Rooks Classic.

We chat idly. As we pass all of the bicycle adorned cars, we critique the various bikes on view. Assessing the set ups, laughing at some paint jobs, wowed by others. The closer we get to Maastricht, the more bikes we spot, until two hours later we hit a small traffic jam, almost a kilometer long line of cars, all taking the same exit, all about to ride. We’ve arrived.

Bikes unpacked and put together; clothes changed; money exchanged, timing chip collected, and we’re off. In eight eighty kilometers I will finally, finally have my chance to climb the climb, that I’ve twice attempted, and twice failed to climb. Côte de la Redoute here I come.

The roads bottleneck with riders making their way south. Direction Liege. A small group passes us, recognizing them I jump on, and chat briefly with one of them. We pass a few groups, and then I realize that my friends are a few hundred meters behind. They’ve chosen for a gentle pace. Gentler than I prefer, but friends are friends, so I slow down and wait.

I see an older woman standing on the side of the road, and say “bon jour.” She replies with a “goedemorgen.” We’re still in the Netherlands.

After twenty plus kilometers of flat roads, and congested bike paths, the peloton parts. A right for the shorter course, cross the road, and swing left up the hill for the longer. A chorus of clicks and clunks accompany the symphony of shifts: the climbing has begun. Easy now.

I take off my vest and arm warmers, and pull a fruit bar out of my pocket.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait.

Thirty-two kilometers into the ride we hit the first feed, fill our bottles and wait for the rest of the group to catch us up. I notice that the rest stop is located at the entrance to a Canadian War cemetery, which I find slightly disconcerting.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait.

I find myself thinking of my first attempt at riding the Redoute, and how I never even made it, waylaid by a broken finger and bad back. Standing on the side of the road, shouting encouragement, and giving a few pushes up hill, and learning the Dutch term for “Ik hoef ‘et niet” from a cyclist with more pride than legs, ended up being my experience of the Redoute that day.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait.

We ride through a small town, where the streets are paved with cobbles. I remember these cobble from two years ago. Back then it was raining, rendering the smooth cobbles slick. So slick, that I almost fell over, as I kept my pace slow, in my vain attempt at getting traction. Today it’s dry, and I notice that it’s a beautiful place, worth coming back for a visit I think to myself.

It’s a dash of the Ronde in Wallonia. Later in the day, I’ll have a dose of the Kemmelberg, when I find myself descending on some more cobbles. The riders in front of me slow down, and pedal gingerly. I grow impatient, and bounce along past them, through the arch, and up the hill.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait.

I see a group of riders up the road. As I approach, it appears that there’s one rider at the front, and about ten behind. Their pace is moderate at best. As I ride past, I see that the rider on the front is a woman, and her bibs are so worn out, that they’re transparent. The men on her wheel seem to be enjoying the show.

Later, on one of the climbs – the Trasenster? – I will see another woman, riding a brisk pace up hill. Something doesn’t look quite right, until I realize that from below the knee she has a prosthetic right leg. I want to say complimenti, or chapeau, or keurig, but don’t. It may come across as patronizing, which is not my intention.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait. Go.

With the ups and downs, and for that matter, the all arounds, our group has split up. We’ll meet again. I know where, I know when. Yes, at the top. The top of the Redoute.

I’m with the climber of our group. He’s been looking forward to today. After all, when you live in a country where a bridge is considered a high point, you don’t get many chances to show off your climbing prowess. I wish that the KM was here, because unlike our climber, he tends to ride an even tempo uphill. I can follow that. With the climber, it’s a classic climber's Yo Yo tempo: in the saddle, then out of saddle, backwards, accelerate, back in the saddle, tempo, repeat.

I’ve lost tack of how many times I’ve blown up trying to follow his rhythm, so today I won’t even bother. I’ll catch him on the descents. He’s not bad at descending, but I’m better. At least I think I am. It’s not that I’m even very good at descending – after all, I don’t get many opportunities to practice.

The thing is, on these kinds of rides, I don’t trust the riders in front of me. Had we left earlier, and gone with the front riders it would have been different. That’s not the case. Due to our slow start, we’re amongst the weekend warriors.

This becomes clear when I find myself descending down a long straight road. I’m passing people, in a conservative tuck, at +/-65kph. I don’t need to go that fast, but then again, I could be going faster. That’s when I notice some riders moving suddenly to the right. As I find myself wondering what’s up, I spot a water bottle rolling in front of me. There’s no time to react. There’s not even enough time for my life to flash in front on me. I loosen my grip on my bars, and hope for the best. I hit the bottle, and bounce. Somehow I keep going. I shout at the riders for not giving a warning. A kilometer, or so later I spot a rider with one bottle, and call him a prutser.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, wait, but not for long.

One of my friends started the day with a little piece of paper, with the length and percentages of each of the eleven climbs of the day. That was clever. I wish I were that clever. I only had one climb on my mind, and it wasn’t the Haute Desnie. I use the momentum of the previous descent to start up the base of the climb. A minute later the climber joins me, along with another one of our party of five. I opt for caution, and let the climber set the pace, sliding in behind his wheel. I’ll never learn.

To my surprise he’s steady. I hold his wheel, and we start passing riders. The road is wide, and I try not to look too far forward. Give me a serpentine climb any day of the week, but when I see long relentless climbs coming up I tend to crack. This time ignorance is bliss. The climber keeps the tempo. Much to my surprise he’s not getting out of his saddle. I focus a few bike lengths ahead of him.

We pass more riders. I note something up the road, is this the end? Must be. Climbs don’t last very long in the Ardennes. This one does. This one goes on, and on, and on. At least that’s how it feels. I briefly lose contact with his wheel, and another rider slips into his draft. I ride along, and place my hand on the Squatter’s hip, gently pushing him away. He doesn’t like it, but I don’t care. We pass more riders.

I look up. Ahead of us, the road is littered with riders, but I don’t see the top. I shout – to myself, to my company, to anyone who’s listening – when the f___ is the climb over? Nobody answers. That’s OK. It was a rhetorical question. The climber maintains a bearable tempo.

We pass more riders. The climber says something to me. It’s in English, but I don’t understand. That’s a bad sign. He never speaks to me in English. The last time I remember him doing that was when he dropped me on the Giau, two years ago. Against better judgment, I look up the road. I see what looks like the crest. We pass more riders. I see a line painted on the road. I ease up. The climber continues. I’ll catch him on the descent.

Up, down, left, right, eat, drink, straight, but I no longer have to wait.

The descent doesn’t last very long. At least I don’t remember much about it. I see a town in a valley. At least, I think I remember seeing as town in a valley. I see a sign – Remouchamps – that means one thing… the Redoute is near. We enter the city, and briefly ride alongside the Ambléve, before taking a right turn, followed by a left. We ride underneath the highway, and I see the graffiti from Liege-Bastogne-Liege’s past. The Redoute has begun. Easy Now.

A few thoughts on Feed Stations

The feed on the top of the Redoute.

After witnessing some of these things first hand, a couple of things to keep in mind when there's a feed station at the top of a climb.

1. A feed station, next to the top of climb does not mean you should stop pedaling when you cross over the official timing strip. Not only is that inconsiderate to those behind you, chances are you'll get rammed from behind, and rightly so. Pedal through.

2. Don't be one of those idiots who takes their bike with them while lining up to collect water/food/etc. It's rude.

3. Make sure to get there early. Otherwise, people like me will drink all of your cans of Aquarius, and eat all of your Onbijtkoek.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Olympia goes Olympic

Last night the Olympia's Tour kicked off with an 8 km long Team Time Trial, starting and ending at the Olympisch Stadion Amsterdam. The race consists of a mix of developmental pro teams (Rabobank, Milram, Garmin), amateur teams from the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and a selection of the Belgian track team.

Seeing as you do't get many chances to see a high level of bike racing in Amsterdam, there was on;y one thing to do: hop on my town bike, and ride on down to watch.

I arrived fifteen minutes before the first team was to start.


Some teams were busy warming up...


... some were making their way to the start...


... and some were getting a feel for the first corner.


The TV motorcycle, poised for action.


Then it was show time.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1...



The Olympia Tour was underway, and the procession of teams commenced.


The wait at the start can have its toll.


A few words of advice, from a more experienced hand.


The Argyle boys arrive.


And depart.


Half of the Olympic track covered, and the teams exit the stadium.


10+ minutes later, the teams arrive.


Some squeezing every ounce of air from a last minute puncture before the...




The fastest man across the line is interviewed, while the crowds wait.


To see the fastest team receive the customary kisses and flowers.


And the jerseys winners to be presented.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creative Design

There's nothing busier than a graphic designer, hard at work, designing the team kit for a small European team. Looks like whomever did the job for Diquigiovanni - Androni missed a chance or two to get some extra product placement in there.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Race Report (don't think, ride)

After spending the previous 90 minutes trying to break free from the field, I give up trying with two laps to go. I find myself a good wheel and sit on. To my knowledge he’s a better sprinter than me, or at the very least he’s as good a sprinter as me. Good enough, not great, but someone I can beat. I think to myself - If things go to plan, I’ll have the perfect leadout.

Through the confusion ahead, I see a teammate just up the road. He’ll be caught, that much is sure. The question is when. The field strings out. It’s not a painful pace, just enough to keep any attacks at bay.

I see my teammate digging deep, trying to get aero. Not easy considering that he’s got to be a foot taller than me. He’s digging. We’re riding. I look behind, wondering where a rider in Green and Black is. I haven’t seen him for the entire race, but that seems to be his style, and judging by his results, it works.

We hit a long stretch of smooth pavement, and the rider on front slowly drags my teammate back. My wheel looks over his shoulder. I smile. My teammate digs, but to no avail. We catch him with a little under a kilometer and a half to go. I shout for him to jump on, but it’s too late.

There’s a small acceleration. I look behind, and see that we have a small gap. Nothing significant, but something. My wheel looks over his shoulder. Again. I smile. Again.

Someone jumps. My wheel? I think so. I can’t remember. Our gap widens, but it’s fools gold, so I remain firmly planted on my wheel. My wheel says something to me. I smile. The pace drops, and a mass of riders pass, I jump to latch on, but it’s over. I think.

Too many riders are in front of me. I won’t even make the top 10. That’s bike racing, better luck next time, next week will be different. As I crest the top of the short sharp ‘hill’ of the course, I see a flash of green and black go past. I dig. I dig deep. He’s gone. But I have momentum. I may as well use it. I shift into my biggest gear.

Meters ahead the field has slowed down. They’re getting cute, pausing before the sprint. Meanwhile Green and Black flies past them. I catch and ride past the main body of the field, on their right. There’s a rider, slightly further to the right, blocking my line.

For once I don’t think, I just ride. I squeeze through the gap, and jump with everything I have. Only 350 meters to go.

I can hear the jeers and yells at me as I focus on the green and black jersey just ahead. He’s getting closer. 300 meters to go.

My legs are burning, I want to sit in the saddle, but I force myself to stay up. 250 meters to go.

I look at my computer, and am surprised that I’m not losing momentum. He’s getting closer. I try to squeeze out whatever power I still have. 200 meters to go.

He’s getting closer. I dig deeper than I have in a sprint, for a long time. 150 meters to go.

He’s getting closer. I’m so focused on Green and Black, that I completely miss the fact that there’s another rider ahead of the both of us. 100 meters to go.

I keep my speed. So does Green and Black. Second place will be his. 50 meters to go.

I smile, and think to myself - wrong wheel, that’s bike racing, better luck next time, next week - and cross the line.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Commercial Appeal (Marco sings)

After suffering a near career ending injury at the end of ther 1995 season, Marco Pantani had no choice but to sit out the 1996 Giro d'Italia. This wasn't just bad news for Pantani, but for the organizers of the Giro, seeing as Il Pirata was the golden boy of Italian cycling, and his absence would surely effect ratings.

Well, those Italians, they showed everyone that when life gives you lemons, you can make some lemonade. Capitalizing on ol' Marco's love of Kareoke, they invited him to sing a song for the bumper to the daily Giro coverage.

Herewith, I present Marco Pantani, singing "E adesso pedala."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

57 words about Cycling

apologies in advance to the ladies who may take offense.

Cycling is like the girlfriend you once had, who you knew was no good for you, yet you couldn't get out of your mind, always treated you like crap, but made up for it once in a blue moon with the ride of your life, leaving you sore in places you're embarrassed to tell your friends about.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Monocle Manga goes to Liege

Thanks to a twitter tip off from a friend, I started listening to the Monocle Weekly podcasts a few months back. In case you’re not acquainted with the Monocle, it’s a magazine that covers 'global affairs, business, culture, fashion, and design.' For some unknown reason, until last week, I hadn’t actually gotten around to buying a copy of it.

When I did, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they include a specially commissioned Manga every month, called Kita Koga, which is written and illustrated by Takanori Yasaka. What was even more surprising was the fact that the installment I had used the cycling world as it’s backdrop.

It shouldn't come as a great shock that the angle of the story is about drugs, or as the sub caption on the cover states "on the trail of a Belgian drug mule." The basic plot is that Kita Koga’s protagonist, Niels Wattanabe, is sent to Belgium by the Japanese government, to investigate an anonymous tip off about a drug ring. A professional cyclist is linked to the drug cartel, and the yarn that unfolds is “an intricate tale of competitive wrong-doing, fading careers, and athletic excellence.” It almost sounds like Astana or Rock Racing.

While the story leaves something to be desired from a cyclists point of view, and a little more research into the physiques of road cyclists would not have gone amiss, it was a welcome treat, with some fine bits of detailed draftsmanship, not to mention a plug for Luis Garneau. I wonder if the Monocle's Canadian editor Tyler Brûlé had something to do with that?


If only Liege looked so good in person.


Apparently the Devil is in the details.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sport and Fashion

Last month, I found myself strolling through the streets of Antwerp, which meant that a visit to w.a.l.t.e.r. had to be made. While I was perusing the latest offerings of Sofie D’Hoore, Dirk Van Saene, Bless, etc... I spotted a rack of suits that caught my eye.

These weren't suits in the conventional sense of the word, they were - for lack of a better description - skinsuits. One, in particular, caught my eye. It was a full length skinsuit, complete with fingers.

this can be yours for a mere €600.

I immediately thought of a certain Italian bike racer, who is no stranger to fashion. In fact, I wondered if Mr. Van Beirendock has been inspired by one of the most memorable garments in the history of cycling, namely the St. Bartholomew inspired skinsuit that Super Mario wore in the prologue of the 2001 Giro de Italia. Who knew?


Well, last night I was flipping channels, and who did I see on a Belgian chat show? None other than Walter Van Beirendonck himself. When they were glossing over his career, with footage from his student days with the Antwerp Six, at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten
to the work that he did for U2 for their Popmart Tour in 1997.


I should have known better. Cycling is always late when it comes to fashion. Just look at all of the tattoos and mullets that have been popping up lately. At least Mario had style.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Bricks and speed bumps make for a less than impressive reintroduction to crit racing.


At least they had a nice finish line set up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Training Weekend (The Ardennes Offensive)

This weekend was that time of year again. Time to hit the Ardennes, and get my first real dose of elevation in far too many months.

Unlike my previous trip, where the weather was amazing, when I arrived on Friday, it was pouring rain.


It was quickly decided to drink beer, and prepare dinner, rather than get soaked and filthy.

As we worked our way through 3 courses, and far too many bottles of wine, it rained, and rained, and rained. Asa matter of fact, it rained until +/- 6AM.


Much to our surprise, things (kind of) cleared up.

So we set out in overcast, misty conditions, on wet and slippy roads, with the plan to do what has become the standard Saturday ride, the Route Buissoniere.


I didn't get many chances to take pics, but did my best to snap one of appeared to be Easter Saturday celebrations in one of the towns we rode through.

After 5.5 hours of riding, it was time to kick back, and get Saturdays dinner ready.

When you have a Sommelier in the group, the bubbles follow.Photobucket

It doesn't hurt when you have a guy who's been in a cooking club for the past 20 years either.

This morning the weather looked better. It was time to break out the bikes, and check out some of the climbs of Liege Bastogne Liege.

With tired legs from the day before, we made our way to some of the more historical climbs of L-B-L, such as the Wanne.

One of us, working his way up the Wanne.

The view from the top.

After the Wanne, it's a +/-5 km descent down some sketchy roads to Stavelot.

Thinking of historical climbs, and modern history of the Ardennes, at the bottom of the descent to Stavelot you cross a bridge, and take a right just after you pass this -

After that, you work your way up the Stockeu.

And see this.


After that it's a descent, back to Stavelot, to grab a coffee and crepe.

Then it's back to the biking through open roads, filled with history.

Like this.

To get back in time to watch the Amstel Gold.

Then pack up, and drive back to Amsterdam, like these guys.