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

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.