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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Commercial Appeal (PSA)

Always a cheery thought, knowing that if you have a heart attack on the road that you have 6 minutes to live.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Commercial Appeal (Insurance)

The latest cycling related commercial.

This one consisting of a businessman, chasing down three pannekoeken on a ride, while he's on his way to work.

If truth be told, this has happened to me on occasion.


Off season has kicked off.

Kind of feels like this:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

WVA Sluitingsrit (2010)

Yet another season comes to a close, and that means one thing: Sluitingsrit. For those that live in around Mokum, a Sluitingsrit involves: a kids race; a 2 man TT; and one last hour + (X) laps around Sloten sports park for the year.

I could bore you with tales of my first 2 man time trial since the early 90s, but I won't.

I could write a detailed report of how I continued my 2 man TT experience in the subsequent road race, but I won't.

What I will do is present a series of snaps, taken after the race, when the fun began.

The race is over, and the crowd patiently waits for the prize giving ceremony.

Some sit.

Some stand.

Some wait quietly.

Some chat.

The trophies wait.

The Flying Doctor, the chairmen of the club, reads the results.

Then hands out the silverware.

Winner of the juniors race.

Santia Tri Kusuma, winner of the women's race.

In case you're wondering, yes - she's on the Indonesian national team.

Winner of the 50+ Master's race.

Just off the podium in the 50+ race, but a very special Rider.

Winner of the 40+ race.

Tonton Susanto
, winner of the Amateurs race.

Yes, another member of the Indonesian national team.

From what I heard from the WegKapitien, he's super strong, and he should know, seeing as he was in the winning two man break.

Speaking of the WK, here he is.

Ryan Ariehaan, another member of the Indonesian national team.

He finished 5th overall , and deserves special praise from yours truly. I spent +/- 45 minutes off the front with him. Let's just say that he never skipped a pull. I, on the other hand...

Once the cups were doled out, it was time to fill them.

WVA'ers chewing the fat.

Banana legs, WK, and Strammer Max strike a pose.

MC Splinter hits the pipes.

While his back up singers kick in.

The crowd soaks it in.

And the season closes.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Hey there.

Been away for awhile. Off to distant lands. Doing things. Seeing things.

Now I'm back.

Back here.

More or less.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A sort of Homecoming (Fall River)

I step out of the car, and stretch. My right hamstring tight from the 2 hour drive. I look around, searching for the registration. The blandness of the location leaves no obvious sign as to its whereabouts.

A racer slowly cycles past. I ask for directions. He points me towards a tent and a port-o-potty, just over the hill. I should have known. Some things never change.

I make my way through the parking lot. Walking past riders in various states of dress and undress. Their only means of privacy are the towels wrapped around their waists. No clubhouse, café, or local community center to change in here. No sir. This is an industrial park crit, which so happens to be set in the outskirts of a post-industrial city. Some things never change.

I’m early, so there’s no rush. I stand on the side of the course, next to family members sitting on lawn chairs, watching their loved ones fly past every other minute. There’s a small break ahead of the field. I doubt it will last, but don’t stick around to see. After a few laps, I grow bored, and head to the tent to collect my number.

When I’m there I ask if two friends, whom I’m expecting, have signed in yet. Nope. I must be early.

I head back to the car, and send an SMS to SoC, one of the friends I’m expecting, and secretly supporting today. He’s on his way. I send another SMS to SdC, the other friend that I’m expecting. No answer.

I pin on my number. I set up my bike. I drink a bottle of water, and casually chew on Fig Newtons. I pump up my tires. I change into my kit. Sans towel.

Eventually I see SoC drive past, but he doesn’t notice my car. As I watch him pull up the hill, I get an SMS from SdC. They’re parked up by the tent. I join them, and their wives. We make idle chi chat while SoC sets up his bike.

Once everyone is ready, we clip in, and ride towards the port-o-pottys. Some things never change. I ask SoC if there’s any specific plan for the day, and he quietly states that he’d like to win. Considering his past history on this course, a podium in a lower cat, and a top ten in the field sprint the year before, this seems like an obtainable goal.

When the three of us finally get around to warming up, I notice that SoC’s demeanor has changed. He’s gone quiet. We let him ride ahead, to channel his “Dark SoC,” and discuss the various scenarios that might play out, and what our respective roles will be. Mine is simple: mark the danger men, and try and keep things together for the sprint.

SdC briefs me about the riders I should keep an eye out for: one I already recognized earlier, thanks to his girth, who SdC and SoC have a history with; a rookie sprinter who’s been tearing it up this year; and a track racer with a strong team. As we’re talking, the rookie rides past with a teammate whose bibs are kept together with what looks to be 30-40 safety pins. When we go back to the cars to dump bottles, SdC motions something to my left, and I discover that I’m parked next to the Track racer.

When the course finally opens, we do a quick lap on the 1 mile circuit. One lap is more than enough to see that technique won’t play a big role today: four corners, a big ring hill, and a finishing straight with a head wind. Easy. The hill will hurt – in the beginning and in the end. The sprint into the headwind, will require a good leadout or, at the very least, patience.

We pull up to the field, waiting to start. To my surprise I can easily line up in the second row. SoC and SdC choose to stay further back. I leave them be. I look around. There’s a small guy in front of me, old and craggy, on a Cannondale with a rear disc wheel. I find myself momentarily perplexed by that, until I notice that the Track rider is standing next to me.

Something is said by the announcer, but I’m not listening. I think it’s about the neutral support. Finally we’re set free.

I clip in, and jump on the wheel ahead of me. We hit the first turn, leading downhill, and the speed picks up. Two hundred and fifty meters later, we hit the second turn leading to the bumpy pavement of the back straight. With the tailwind, and the shallow descent we quickly hit the third turn, to the hill. I take the inside corner, and find myself sitting near the front. My instincts are to push it, but I opt for caution, and spin, following the wheel ahead of me. As we crest the hill, we swing left, on to the long finishing straight.

I settle into somewhere around 10th place. Trying to avoid the front. Keeping an eye out for the danger men, and their teammates. As we power up the hill the second time around, I see the track racer move to the front. He jumps, and I latch on. It’s over as soon as he’s started. He was probing. I settle back in.

We hit the back straight again, and I see a few riders dangling off the front. I don’t think much of it. On the base of the hill I see that they’re opening up a gap. I sit somewhere between 5th and 10th, expecting the racers ahead to react. They don’t.

I don’t know why, but I find myself accelerating. I don’t think I’m pushing it. Really, I don’t.

But I’m closing the gap to the two riders. I look over my shoulder, and see that I have a gap. As I turn on the finish straight, it appears that the break is slowing, waiting for me. Or maybe it’s the headwind that’s slowing them down? I don’t know. I bridge to them, and sit back, leaving them to carry on with the work, while I recover for a few moments.

Over the next lap, I notice a few things about my breakaway partners. I realize that one of them was in the break that I saw in the previous race. He’s wearing a cycling cap under his helmet, and has real glasses on, a local Laurent Fignon. He seems to be riding strong and smooth. My other breakaway partner, on the other hand, apparently has no clue on how to cut a corner. A lap later he either sits up, or we drop him. I’m not sure which.

I dig in, and hope that we get some company. A lap passes and I notice Mrs. SoC and Mrs. SdC standing on the hill. I look back, hoping to see a counter, but the peloton is intact. Another lap passes, and I see that The Mrs.’s have moved to the back straight of the course. I sneak another peak on the hill, and see that we’re not gaining any ground. I take my pulls, but try to keep them short. No use in burning myself out when my real work lays ahead.

A few laps pass, and a prime in announced. We don’t have much more time. Fignon is doing most of the work now. I debate about pipping him for the prime, but he’s earned it, so I sit on his wheel as he crosses the line.

We stay away for another lap, or two. He asks me if I’m cooked. I shrug. He says that I should work, seeing as I won’t have anything left for the sprint. I smile.

Finally we’re caught. I drift back, maybe 20 deep. A lap later I move back up. Time to mark.

The rest of the race is a simple loop. Jumps from the left. Jumps from the right. They’re mostly probes. At least I assume as much.

For some reason, most of them are followed by someone shouting “rider right!” or “rider left!” to warn the peloton.

With each warning, I grow more and more irritated. I don’t know why, but I find it childish and cheap. I stifle the urge to use some… colorful language. When the umpteenth warning is shouted, I scream a plaintiff “Oh. Shut. Up!” It’s ignored.

I keep my eye out for the Rookie. I keep my eye out for the Track Rider. I keep my out for the Chubby Checker, the rider with the history. I also start to keep my eye out for the Oompa Loompa with the disc wheel and a guy wearing a generic black and white kit. The latter two more out of self-preservation, than any real concern about their strengths.

The lap chart whittles down, and apart from watching one of the Track Riders teammates ride off the road and into a barrier, for no reason whatsoever, there’s nothing of note.

With less than five laps to go it’s becoming clear that this will end in a sprint. I stay near the front. Just in case.

With four laps to go, I see Chubby move up to the front for the first time. People start surging before the third turn. I patiently work my way up the hill. Doing what I have to stay near the front, but nothing more.

With three laps to go there’s another surge on the back straight. The Oompa Loompa squeezes past, on my left. I drift to the middle of the pack.

We’re on the penultimate lap, and someone is shouting. “Rider left!” “Rider right!”

There’s someone up the road. We crest the hill, and hit the finish straight, and I notice that the pace has slowed.

I shift gears, and surge forward, shouting to the peloton “Rider left! Rider left! Look, look! I’m attacking!”

To be honest, it's not much of an attack. I dig, and dig deep. Dragging the peloton, hoping that SdC and SoC are where they need to be.

I hit the 1st corner for the last time. I pull off on the downhill, and watch as the field slows. I shout at the rider behind me to attack, or pull through. He does nothing.

We bounce through the 2nd turn for the final time, and I see the Rookie, with his Safety Pin teammate, come past me on my left. I try to grab his wheel, but have to settle for the Oompa Loompa’s. I look over and see the Track Rider on the other side of the road, moving up, sitting behind a few teammates.

As we approach the 3rd turn, to the hill, there’s one more surge. I think I have enough for one last effort on the hill, but the Oompa Loompa takes the corner wide. I try one last time to push it, but get cut off by the B&W squirrel. With that, the peloton blows past me. I watch SoC fly by, somewhere midpack.

I look back and see SdC. We soft pedal up the hill, to the finish.

I catch SoC on the cool down lap. Dark SoC is gone. Smiley guy SoC is back.

I ask him how he did, and he says “Second, or third. I’m not sure.”

He pulls up to the finish, and has his podium picture taken: next to a van, in an empty parking lot, in an industrial park, in a post industrial city, on Sunday afternoon, standing next to a port-o-potty.

Some things never change.

Monday, August 2, 2010

WK Soumagne

A simple email. Sent by the Wegkapitein. Subject "WK." The message, directed to the KMII: "Maybe something for you?" Including a link to the 2010 edition of the ICF World Championship, in Soumagne, Belgium.

As it turns out, the WC isn't so much a World Championship, but a Belgian championship, with cameos by Dutch, German, and English riders, with a few Israelis, and even one American. But that would be quibbling.

As for the race itself, sadly there's not much to report. It can best be summed up with this: I came, I saw, I finished.

Loading the car, in the shadow of the Olympic stadium.

A short ride along part of the Amstel Gold Course in Limburg, where we would stay for the evening,

A rare sight in the Netherlands: hills.

Sunday: Soumagne.

The sublime.

The schematic: What's in store for us (9 laps for me, 13 for my baby faced teammates).

Finish line.


Done and dusted.

What's a teammate do when he's done racing? Hand bottles out, of course!

Post race debriefing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A week amongst the Lucchese (Urban)

Old friends of mine moved to Tuscany a few years ago, and have been raving about it ever since. I'm not quite sure why the stars never aligned, apart from the usual money/time/etc, but I had yet to pay them a visit. A month ago an impromptu invitation was extended. I perused a few budget airline websites, found a good price, and bought a ticket. Three weeks later I landed in Pisa, with a carry on bag containing bike kit, a toothbrush, and some street clothes. Just my luck, there was a spare bike, which happened to be the same make, model, and size as my own, waiting for me. Now that's what I call hospitality.

Herewith, some pics.

While Lucca was where I would be staying, this is (more or less) the terrain that I covered.

Looking down on to Lucca.

The famous city walls of old Lucca, built to keep the Fiorentini out.

In the past they were used for car races. These days, the only racing done on them is cyclo-cross.

Start grid from the last race.

If you want to go for a ride on the 4km circuit, you can pay extortionate rates to rent a bike at this place.

Some of the Lucchese prefer to keep it simple.

The back streets provide some welcome shade from the searing heat.

Some sights.

Torre Guinigi.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.

San Michele in Foro.

Stairway to heaven.

Duomo di Lucca.

While at was inside the Duomo, I thought I heard thunder (the skies were looking ominous).

It turned out to be something completely different.

I left the piazza, and walked towards the sound.

First seeing some immaculately attired motorcycle cops.

Then seeing what was the cause of the commotion: Placebo doing a sound check for their evening concert.

Both tourists and locals enjoyed the 'show.'

A week amongst the Lucchese (Pastoral)

And, of course, one should not forget the Tuscan landscape.

Farm along the Serchio.

Views from and along the Piccolo Mortirolo.

Just one of many road side shrines, this one on a descent.

Tuscan vineyard.

Ascending Passo del Cipollaio. The white peak is marble quarry.

Western view from the top of the Cipollaio.

One day I went out on my own.

My plan was to follow along part of the route of the Via Francigena.

Which happened to also be on the course of the Gran Fondo Michele Bartoli.

Which brought me to some interesting climbs.

And historical sights.

At the end of the ride, when I was back in Lucca, I decided to try a short, sharp climb that Mr. B apparently used to do intervals on.

Right, just off a road, and on to this, followed by a very sharp right, then...

Up this, and swing right.

Then up this.

I rode it a it a few times. Interesting.

Yesterday was my last day, so the plan was to get up early, and squeeze in a 5 hour ride, to and along the sea, before my afternoon flight.

My Host with the Most included a few 'bumps.'

With their views of valleys.

And civilized alternative to a 7-Eleven.

The Mediterranean in sight.

Finally descending down to the coast, and riding on pancake flat roads for the first time in a week.

Alongside various hotels and resorts.

And that's about it.

Some amazing riding in the region. I only have two regrets: one is that I didn't have the chance to get some shots of an amazing bridge, and the other is that...

Instead of imbibing upon the local plonk, I mainly drank this stuff (which isn't so bad, especially considering the fact that it was actually the brand that I learned how to like beer with. Many moons ago).