Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oh dear

I've just been informed that one of my favorite artists, Iron and Wine, has a song that appears in the new teenie-vamp movie Twilight. In a prom scene.

I'm glad I got a chance to see them play the Grog Shop several years ago, because I suspect the days of seeing them at a venue that charges less than $30 to see a show may be over.

I also suspect that Sam Beam (the bearded force behind Iron and Wine) will be having a financially sound 2009 (and beyond) as a result of this movie soundtrack inclusion. It couldn't have happened to a better artist, although he will likely tire of seeing the average age at his shows drop by a good 10-15 years, as well as seeing half (or more) of the crowd clamoring for "that song from Twilight" while talking over the rest of the set. Especially the new songs.

The art vs. commerce debate rages, doesn't it now?

Here is Iron and Wine playing with southwestern-centric band Calexico at an Austin television station:

And here is a live version of the song that would later be included in Twilight:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


From the last five days:

8.5 - total hours on the road bike

2 - dogs that chased me on the road (both were moderate to lame chases...they didn't have a chance)

1 - car that passed me (today) that had a bunch of people in it smoking weed

57 - number of seconds we made it into our ride on Monday from Canal Road before we were honked at and told by a self-righteous motorist to get on the towpath

71 - degrees Fahrenheit during my Saturday ride in southeastern Ohio

Long live unseasonably warm and dry days!! Oh wait, it looks like winter's respite is over. Now I can crawl back into my hole for the next month.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Got a few seconds?

Anyone who complains about the lack of mountain bike trails in Northeast Ohio will hereby be banned from such complaining if they do not take the time to go here and submit comments to the National Park Service regarding the proposed rule changes relating to mountain biking in National Parks. The passage of these new rules will hopefully make it easier to gain access to the CVNP.

If you are feeling especially frisky, you can go to the link from that IMBA page above and submit your comments directly to the government, which is probably more persuasive than simply having IMBA send in your comments for you. I just did that a few minutes ago. You should too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


...are good. Now I have my first one for 2009: Tour of the Battenkill on April 18. Registration has been open for all of a few hours and there are already over 100 people in my field.

It's now time to start worrying about getting back into road racing shape. That will begin promptly, right after the wind chill around here rises above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Bailout

Click here for the Big Three's take.

Along those same lines, this excerpt from a Yahoo news story today needs no comment:

HILO, Hawaii – A Hilo Chevrolet dealer who tried to crush his Asian auto competition found the stunt a little harder to pull off than expected. Island Chevrolet general sales manager James Severtson arranged for a Chevrolet Suburban SUV outfitted with massive tires costing $5,000 apiece to drive over a Honda Accord.

On the first attempt Friday, the monster truck blew a hydraulic hose and leaked vital fluid while the Honda remained intact and ready for more.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yes, it's that good

I finally made it to Bar Cento tonight. Everyone I know who has been there loves it. I now concur.

I have heard the place described before as something like a burgers and beer place for the foodie crowd. That's a pretty accurate description, if you're into using the term "foodie" without irony.

Ben and Sarah have a pretty good writeup of it here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That one house

There is a house on a corner in a semi-rural area that I frequently pass on winter bike rides. The last two times I have ridden past this house, I noticed large amounts of clothes hanging on clotheslines in the yard. I would say that there are at least 20-30 pieces of clothes out there drying, mostly tops and pants, and all of them are either 100% red or 100% white. Is this a holiday decoration? A cult? A Target employee? (No, because I think they sport tan pants). What is the deal?

It kind of creeps me out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

38 races in 2008. 11 Cyclocross, 5 trips to Westlake, 3 time trials, and the rest were road races and crits. At an average of $20 a pop, that's a lot of money in entry fees, but still less than the price of one single high end rear wheel.

I never thought about it that way before.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

1998 wants its music back

I am a music snob.

I used to be a college radio dj. I haven't listened to anything other than NPR and college radio in over 10 years. Yes, that is extremely pretentious.

I have no clue what's going on in area commercial radio. There could be a station that plays transvestite polka 24/7, and I probably wouldn't know about it.

Imagine my surprise when I entered John Carroll's weight room today and was greeted by Bush's Glycerine. Followed by the Beastie Boys' Intergalactic. Then I heard the station jingle talk about playing 90's alternative rock. So now, not only does the weight room look the same at it did 10 years, and not only do the JCU students have the same haircuts and style as they did 10 years ago, but now the same music is played in the weight room as it was 10 years ago. Except tonight I also heard a song by Sonic Youth, which nearly caused me to fall off the weight bench. Also heard: 4 Non Blondes, Foo Fighters, etc. etc.

I suppose the bean counters have decided that people who dug that music back in the day now have a bunch of disposable income to spend on advertisers, so why not have a station with a 90's nostalgia format. Or something like that.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Boughton Farm cx Videos

Start of the Women's race:

Start of the Men's "B" race:

Robert winning the "C" race:

Thanks again to the Team Lake Effect and Bike Authority people for sponsoring and organizing this race series. It pretty much rules.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Old school workout

Truly old school, as in at my old school. This week I broke down and bought a winter membership to the rec center at ye ole' college alma mater. Now I can be one of those creepy old guys who work out alongside all of the youngsters.

Actually, I enjoy weight training there because I feel like a puny little nerd compared to the hulking football players and hardcore weightlifters who frequent the place. At 6'0" and 190-some pounds, I spend the majority of the year looking freakishly large compared to all of the bike racers with whom I ride and race (and try to keep up with). It's pretty funny then to be the smallest guy in the room, searching for the smallest dumbbells on the rack while the other guys are throwing around a couple hundred pounds without batting an eye.

Now I just need to find my racquet and take advantage of those sweet racquetball courts that called my name as I walked by them the other day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


A little over a week ago, Katie and I checked out the band Wilderness at the Beachland Tavern. Having known little about the band, I didn't know what to expect. Well, it would have been pretty hard to anticipate the intensity of the singer and the volume of the show. I may be deaf now by the time I'm 40, but at least I've been to some good concerts.

A friend of mine checked out the merch table and reported back that the band was only selling their music on vinyl. Nice.

Here's a clip of them playing a newish song:

Category Upgrade

For me? Yea, right. No, for Reuben.

Last week we entered another agility trial and he earned another title in the Jumper's class. He is now in the "elite" class, which is analogous to getting a Cat 2 upgrade for all of the bike racers reading this. Not only did he earn the title, but he took first place out of about 6 dogs in the run below, most of which were herding dogs who are supposed to beat big smelly coonhounds. Oh the irony.

Monday, December 01, 2008

That didn't last long

I usually lose the love for road riding right around September. This year was no exception. After returning home from the Vermont stage race and a subsequent vacation, I had no desire to ride the road bike. When I did, a 90 minute solo ride seemed insufferably long. The prospect of a 2+ hour group ride was odious. I was all about cyclocross riding and racing, running, and some mountain biking.

I'm back now. In love with road riding, that is. A 2+ hour group ride in the cold on Friday was a blast. A 2+ hour solo ride on Saturday was equally good.

I'm still completely looking forward to the last cyclocross race of the season this weekend. But, when it's over, I will get back to obsessively checking the weather forecast to find days when it will be tolerable to venture outside on the road in this frozen tundra of a region in which we live.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

But is your dog fit?

This past week, Katie's dog Sylvia had minor surgery to remove a broken tooth. During the surgery, the vet techs began monitoring her heartbeat and got worried because it was so low. The vet, who is a friend of ours, reassured the techs that nothing was wrong....Sylvia just has a crazy low resting heart rate from being so active and fit.

Kind of funny.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last rider on the course!!

That was me today at the state CX championships. After a decent start (for me at least, in such a stacked field), I found myself leading a small group of 4-5 people in the middle of lap two. Included in this group were Thom D. and Ray. Coming around a 180 degree turn, my handlebars caught some caution tape and I went down. Hard. Ray and another guy almost ran me over, then the group flew by me as I lay sprawled on the ground with a bent derailleur and seriously banged up shin.

I spent the rest of the race cruising around in no man's land, and barely missed being lapped by the winners. Since they pulled all of the lapped riders behind me, I was, in fact, the last rider to finish the race. There should be a prime for that distinction.

Congrats to Tony M. for winning the Cat 3/4 race today, and to Robert for winning his junior race.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What a maniac.

That must be what the neighbor thought of me while she was pulling out of her driveway and I was hosing off my muddy bike at 5:15 p.m. today in the middle of a minor snow squall. I knew I should have tended to this situation when I arrived home from the race on Sunday, but just couldn't bear to do it.

Oh yea, did I mention I had to leave the frozen garden hose in the bath tub all day so it could defrost for this chore before sunset?

This bikewash was necessary because I'm busy all day tomorrow and plan on doing the Ohio State Cyclocross Championships on Sunday, or "states," as the cool kids call it. I suppose I'll throw my hat into the 1-2-3 race and see what happens. And by "see what happens," I mean try not to get lapped.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bishop Allen - Kenyon

There is just something fascinating about small liberal arts colleges located in little towns in the middle of nowhere. When arriving in one of these towns, you feel like you were just teleported somewhere far away from the desolate country roads and Wal-Mart you just passed en route to the college.

Last night, Katie and I and a few friends hopped in the car and drove to one of these colleges (Kenyon College) and towns (Gambier, OH) to see the band Bishop Allen play live.

They played a room called the Horn Gallery, which is an on-campus performing arts building. In a nutshell, it was a blast.

We arrived early, then assisted the local Gambier economy by buying a bunch of sandwiches, Christmas Ale, and Bass to enjoy before the show. The show was great, the room had a neat feel, and the crowd was totally into it.

Which brings me to another question: Why are the crowds at these shows so much better than crowds at shows in major cities? Maybe because they are all free spirit college types who have yet to let the troubles of the world beat them down? Maybe because most of them don't have to wake before 10 a.m.....ever? Maybe because they're happy, as I would be, that they come from families who can afford tuition that costs nearly $50K a year? Regardless, they know how to have fun and they have the courtesy to shut the **** up when the band plays quiet songs that are so much more enjoyable without the background idle chatter of disinterested people at the back of the room.

Here's a live clip from the band playing a record store last year:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Boyz on da Hood

Remember that Portland area drunk driver who, in a rage, ran down a cyclist earlier this year and then drove around a bit with the cyclist still on the hood of his car? (The cyclist is ok)

Well, according to this article from today, he was sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years of probation and 160 hours of community service. He has already served 19 days in jail and also faces a mental health evaluation, drug and alcohol abuse evaluation and an $800 fine he must pay the cyclist due to lost work.

45 days.

The motorist intentionally hit the cyclist, then drove at high speeds, went fast around corners, jammed the breaks, and swore at the cyclist, all while he was holding on for dear life (literally) to the hood of this guy's car.

45 days.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Antecdotal Observations

...from today's Broadview Heights cyclocross race, where racers faced temps in the low 30's, considerable wind, a slight bit of snowfall, and lotsa mud from yesterday's inch-plus of rain:

-There seemed to be more participants in the "A" and "A masters" fields than usual. Nice.

-There seemed to be more participants in the women's field than usual. Nice.

-It may not be warm enough all week to use the hose to clean my bike before next week's race, and I was too lazy to do it today. Not nice.

-There was an ungodly number of grown men congregated together and changing clothes in the heated "one-ie" bathroom at the race site before and after the race. Nice/Not nice, depending on how you roll.

-The firepit, cookies, and brownies by the registration area ruled. Nice.

-This sport is insane.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I inadvertently stumbled across this website that is a fan page for Obama's recently announced future Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The website is very odd and has the feel of a teen magazine idolizing the latest boy band. Strange stuff, and yes, very nerdy of me to even find it (don't ask).

It also contains links to a few articles about Emanuel that refer to his exercise habits and hobbies. According to this Mother Jones article from 1993, the dude goes on super fast bike rides on bike paths wearing spandex, a helmet and no shirt. I'm sorry Rahm, but I can't condone that look. Even in 1993. Even on a bike path.

This recent article on says that he races triathlons, and that:

He told Fortune magazine's Nina Easton that he trash-talked President Bush about his mountain biking, trying to goad him into stepping it up to a triathlon and telling Bush he could wear water wings for the swimming segment if he needed them.

That's good stuff. Anything that rips on W. and fans the flames of the (friendly, of course) rivalry between multisport people and other cyclists deserves some props.

But it still does not make up for that whole lycra and shirtless debacle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not a fan...

...of the cold. None of us are, but Reuben is especially pathetic during the cold months.

Last night, after being shamed into exercise when reading the weekend training exploits of Bill and Tony, I decided to go on a run with Reuben. He lasted about 400 meters, took a big poop, then begged me to take him back home. His tail was so far between his legs it was insane. So I obliged, and did the run solo.

He's got very little body fat, and very short fur (if you can call it that). So, he actually needs some winter digs.

squished lips

It may not rival Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe, but it makes life (barely) tolerable for him during the winter.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Waiting Room

By Fugazi, live in 1988.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bike Night

That's right, Thursday night is bike night at Now That's Class on Detroit Rd. on Cleveland's west side. According to their site, "Ride your bicycle to the bar and first beer is free. Any beer."

The place also hosts a lot of punk rock and indie rock bands. We've played there before. It's got a good vibe and an impressive beer selection.

It's places like this that keep this town interesting.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Katie and I rode to the polls this morning and voted.



We did not vote for DRE 700. Many others, however, apparently did. Watch story here.

Jonathan Page, Enemy of the State

According to this article, American cyclocross racer/Euro stud Jonathan Page was placed on a watch list by the Chinese government for the summer Olympics. The list contained nine U.S. athletes and one assistant coach China thought might cause "problems" because of their association with "Team Darfur." I checked Page's website today, and found no references to Darfur. Hmmm.

The funny part, of course, is that Page was not even in the Olympics this year (as far as I know), and the watch list also included a U.S. golfer. Golf is not an Olympic sport. Am I missing something here?

Perhaps China could be more effective at squashing free speech and other human rights if it approached the issue in a more efficient fashion.

That's just my advice, China. You can take it or leave it.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Here is a video of the band Portishead playing the song "Roads." It is taken from their 1997 show in NYC when the New York City Philharmonic backed them.

I knew people who attended this show, and I still envy them to this day.

Within a year or so of this concert, they played in Detroit, their closest U.S. show of the tour. I was in college and all set to go, but had to bail at the last minute to work on some group project for some business management course I was taking at the time. I'm pretty sure our group's job was to organize a mock public relations campaign for Wal-Mart to diffuse public outrage over their employee rights violations and the child labor violations of their suppliers in the developing world. No joke.

Our group probably received a mediocre grade because, like most group projects in which I participated at John Carroll's business school, a member or two of the group would not take these projects seriously. Most of the time, it was because they were too busy kissing ass at some internship to care about their grades (or more importantly, the grades of others in the group).

The band later took a 10 year hiatus, recently got back together, and still have yet to play live anywhere near me.

The moral of the story: Life is too short to miss Portishead shows.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Scene

While hanging out today after the finish of the Chagrin River Cyclocross Challenge and drinking some Honey Brown from the keg Brett so kindly provided, the average conversation went something like this:

"Holy crap, was that hard today." (spoken while caked in mud after shelling out $20 to enter a race at which most of us had no chance in hell in placing in the top 5). Or, "Every pedal stroke was misery. It felt like I was riding through wet concrete." (spoken while shivering wet and hovering over the bonfire to regain some sense of warmth.)

Most conversations, however, ended like this, "So are you doing the Kirtland Park race tomorrow? Yea, me too."

Why? Well, the answer is quite simple.

Those of us who gather for these periodic tests of fitness/power/technical skills/mental toughness/insanity know exactly what I'm talking about. It doesn't really matter where you finish, or what race you do. You come back week after week because you have to. Because it's an obligation, like going to some aunt's house for a dinner with the extended family.

Except this obligation is something you actually want to attend.

As I sit here before my computer with tired legs, I know that I will be there tomorrow. How can I not? Ryan and I have to do battle again for 9th place (or whatever scraps we can manage.) Zak might be there, and maybe I can hang with him this time. Or Thom or Ray. Or maybe I won't get caught by the fast masters this time (or maybe I'll hang with them if I do). Hope always springs eternal.

Regardless, Bill will be there and will always be friendly as hell. And Lynn will be kind enough to run the show (again). And Robert S. will impress us all with his riding. And John E. will likely bring 17 different sets of wheel and tire combinations for different conditions, and will certainly be unhappy with the combo he ultimately chooses.

And fun will be had by all, as it always is.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't let up


Apparently someone was not so keen of our Obama sign in Katie's front yard. When I went to the local campaign office, they were out of signs and said that operatives from the other side were stealing Obama signs in this area.

Well that's pleasant.

Here is how tonight went--

Me: Katie, some asshat stole our sign and they're out of them at the campaign office down the street. That's it, let's make one ourselves.

Katie: Um, ok.

Hours later, a sign emerges from the Room of Craft. A sign to which my contribution was moral support:




Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pay By the Mile Car Insurance

So far MileMeter auto insurance is only available in Texas. Here is a quote from the company's website:

We were frustrated with car insurance, so we started our own company. After years of dealing with insurance companies as frustrated consumers, we decided we should stop our complaining. So we created car insurance that anyone can understand and anyone can afford. We like to think of MileMeter as "the cure for car insurance."

We believe in good stewardship, so we created auto insurance buy the mile. When a society drives less, fewer vehicle tailpipe emissions occur, fewer traffic accidents and injuries happen, and we can use fewer acres for parking lots. We've invested ourselves in creating a socially and environmentally responsible product that could improve our air quality, reduce our land impact, and improve traffic safety through the financial incentive to drive fewer miles.

It's pretty surprising that this concept is new. I hope the idea spreads across the country. I'm not so sure, however, about those patents he spoke of in the video. Actually, I hope he doesn't secure them (and he probably won't) if he is trying to actually patent the idea of "pay by the mile" insurance. More competition is always better for the public.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend at the races

Yesterday's Cross My Heart and Hope to Die cyclocross race in Willoughby, Ohio did not disappoint. The Spin crew had a great course, good music, and even good weather. It seems like everyone showed up for this race. Everyone, except for my game and my desire to race. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Today was Race #1 of the Orrville cx series held at Wayne College. These people always put on some very nice races. I felt much better today and took 6th out of 17 (or so) in the "A" race. One spot out of the money, but I'm not complaining.

Also, I may have mentioned this before, but I'm rather offended that Blogger's spellcheck program does not recognize "cyclocross" as a word. This is nothing short of a travesty.

In case you missed it...

This article from the Plain Dealer does a really good job of discussing the recent setbacks encountered by mountain bikers trying to obtain access to more land for trails within the Metroparks. The building of new trails is apparently at odds with the Metroparks' mission of conservation.

However, several golf courses, miles of horse trails with no restrictions on when they can be used (and they are often used in extremely muddy conditions), and a new building in Parma's West Creek Reservation that requires bulldozing and paving through woods must be consistent with the park's "conservation" mission.

Something smells rotten here.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Ok, not really heroes, but still. It was great fun watching the pros race this weekend at the Cincinnati UCI Cyclocross Festival. We got to see some of the best of the best race, up close and personal. Powers, Compton, Wicks, Gould, Bishop, etc. They arrived in cars and minivans, without entourages and bling. They lacked obnoxious attitudes, and probably make less money than most people reading this blog post right now. Yet I would rather watch one of these races up close than a Lakers game at courtside or a Yankees game from the dugout. Go ahead, call me a snobby Europhile. You are probably right.

In Saturday's race, Georgia Gould flatted, ran to the pits, and received assistance from Katie Compton's (her biggest rival of the day) mechanic. A little different environment from pro baseball coaches intercepting pitch calls from opposing catchers or Bill Bellichick illegally videotaping opponents' defensive signals.

They also tore up the courses that we mortals merely raced upon earlier in the day, all three days. You think that you took a section pretty well when you raced until you see one of them annihilate it without batting an eye. Good stuff.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

CX photos/results

Photos are now up here from last week's Race #1 of the Bike Authority/Team Lake Effect series and the Leroy race held today. Unfortunately, we did not arrive early enough to catch the "C" races at these events.

Thanks again to all of those who volunteered to make these races happen.

Results from today's race are already up here. (Congrats to Robert on his win).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Personally, I like the idea of dogsledding...and bikes.

Kathy Dahlkemper is a Democrat running for U.S. Congress against incumbunt Republican Phil English. Here is an attack ad against her put out by the National Republican Congressional Committee. It is quite impressive, to say the least.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How fun? That fun.

Tomorrow (Sunday) kicks off the Northeastern Ohio weekend cyclocross season with Race #1 of the Bike Authority/Team Lake Effect series at Wendy Park/Whisky Island right outside of downtown Cleveland. Info about the series can be found here.

How much fun is cyclocross racing? Well, you can potentially have as much fun as the attendees at the function below are having:

Completely unrelated to cyclocross, but completely related to the Velvet Underground, check out this video of them playing Femme Fatale live with Nico on vocals. (The embed feature of the video was disabled). Such a rare and neat find.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Southern (Ohio) Discomfort

I think I am in the process of being roped into going to the Cincinnati area in a few weeks for 3 days of cyclocross racing. (If I was truly hard core, now is when I would mention that they are UCI races, which I think means nothing to a middle of the road Cat 3 cyclocross racer like myself, but it sure sounds bad ass.)

Here is a video of one of the elite races from last year. I'm pretty sure those guys are running faster over that first set of barriers (while carrying their bikes) than I could sprint on flat pavement without a bike. Dumb.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Repetitive Noise

Yes, we all know that Portland's bike culture is way ahead of pretty much any town in this country. And we're all pretty sick of hearing about it (mostly because we're jealous).

But, sometimes I'm still amazed at things I read about that town. Take, for instance, this photo. Its link was posted on the comments to this article on From what I can tell, this person threw a party at his house and had to rent a giant bike rack to accommodate all of the people who rode there on bikes.

The photo makes me think about a League of American Bicyclists (LAB) get together I attended at a member's house in Shaker Heights, Ohio about 3 or 4 years ago. It was on a Friday evening in October with clear skies and temps around 60. I can personally attest to the fact that most of the attendees at this meeting lived within 4 miles of the event. One other person and myself were the only two people who rode bikes there.

This post is not meant to judge, condescend, or preach. It simply is me thinking aloud, and wondering how we can change ours and other cities' cultures to be a wee bit more like, well, you know.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I should report that guy to the police... a phrase we often find ourselves saying after being intentionally buzzed, swerved into, or "brake checked" by the occasional aggressive driver. We usually don't, however, because of laziness, it not being worth the hassle, or the perception that the police won't take our complaint seriously.

Well, local cyclist/racer/generally good guy Mehul experienced an incident with an automobile in the Metroparks that caused him to take action and pursue the matter with the proper authorities. His correspondence, and the written responses from the Metroparks, are included below. The only thing edited from these e-mails is Mehul's address. Although some of the e-mails do not have dates, they were all sent within a week or so in late August. After the last e-mail from the Metroparks, Mehul had a telephone conversation with the author of the last letter, and Mehul's summary of that conversation is also included.

Mehul Gala

August 25, 2008

Captain Dan Veloski
Ranger Headquarter
4600 Valley Pkwy
Fairview Park, OH 44126

Dear Captain Veloski:

On Sunday August 24th,between noon and 12:30, I was on a bike ride southbound on Valley Parkway between Mastic Road and Puritas Road by Big Met Golf course, a stretch of road I have ridden on many times before. I was passed very closely by either a Ford Crown Victoria or Mercury Grand Marquis (Ohio plate DCE 8094), after he passed he put his brakes on hard. So hard, I had to make an evasive maneuver to the left of him. The hard braking made me realize this was not an accident. As I passed he rolled his window down, and I asked him what his problem was. I did use a lot of abusive language, but I felt threatened after almost being run off the road. I told the gentleman that I was going to call the police as he smugly offered to do the same but left instead. I continued on my ride in the same direction. I saw the vehicle turn left (eastbound) onto Puritas. Out of curiosity and also a desire to achieve some justice, I went left also, but lost sight of him. Frustrated, I turned left into Rocky River Stables and there was some sort event taking place. I asked one of the volunteers directing traffic if they had seen this beige vehicle, but before she could answer, I spotted it. I rolled over to it, and took a photo of his license plate. Again, I engaged the driver with some pretty angry words (I was charged up on a lot of adrenaline after feeling my life threatened by his actions).

I saw Ranger Tim Garris and explained to him what happened. Another Ranger talked to the driver of the vehicle. I explained to Ranger Garris (who was very polite and professional) what happened and he explained to me that there was nothing that I could do. He passed along your information and I am now writing to you.

Had this guy fired a bullet past my head, he would be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. I wish he could be charged with the same. My other concern is now this guy gets to get away with this thinking it is okay and without punishment or warning of any kind.

The Cleveland Metroparks are one of the greatest assets Northeast Ohio has. As cyclists, we are constantly being harassed and threatened by motorists. What is being done by the rangers to patrol and enforce the traffic laws in the Metroparks. Specifically: speeding, cars passing too close to cyclists, and passing with unsafe conditions (around a curve or oncoming traffic). 'Share the Road' signs alone are not enough, they are vague and do not work.

What can be done? What further actions should I take? What can I do to make sure that this guy doesn't actually succeed in hurting me or one of my fellow cyclists? I would love to help in this process if possible.
Mehul Gala

Good morning Mehul,

Thanks for taking the time to write back to us concerning the incident with the other motorist. I also appreciate the kind words about our Ranger personnel. I am going to hand your complaint off to the Western Division supervisor, Lieutenant Terry Bernath. Lt. Bernath will consult with our traffic unit and others in the building to determine what could be done and he will contact you with his findings. Certainly, there is an opportunity for you to file charges against the operator (and he/she may feel compelled to do the same based on your contact with him that day). I'm certain that on-scene Rangers identified him on the day of your incident. It may be a difficult case as there are many circumstances that could affect prosecution. Nevertheless, it warrants our review.

Generally, Rangers from all divisions are on patrol in marked vehicles, unmarked cars, bicycles and afoot. They are tasked with monitoring traffic concerns like the one you have brought to our attention and do write citations and make arrests for traffic violation, ranging from reckless operation, to speeding, to OVI, etc. Incidents like yours give us the opportunity to remind cyclists and motorists that we have a shared use approach in Ohio, that there is room for both to share the roadway. As you are aware, recent legislation has made it safer for cyclists to share the roadway with motorists, BUT that legislation still requires patience on the part of motorists who drive behind cyclists awaiting an opportunity to safely pass. Cyclists must stay as far to the right as possible and should refrain from passing stopped cars at red lights and stop signs.

Just last week, our staff was asked to add the cyclists/motorists issue to their specific patrol assignments based on a complaint from a motorist who claims that cyclists in Rocky River ride in the center of the lane and do not use the trails as they should. That motorist was reminded of Ohio law that permits cyclists to be on our roadways – but is correct in his report that the riders should stay to the right.
I'll look forward to reading Lt. Bernath's response to you and invite you to write back if you have any follow-up concerns. Stay safe.

Daniel J. Veloski, Captain - Field Operations
Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department
4600 Valley Parkway, Fairview Park, OH 44126
(440) 331-5745 - office
(440) 331-5530 - dispatch
(440) 333-4911 - emergency line

Mr. Gala,

I received your concerns from Capt Veloski concerning an incident on Sunday, August 24th. I have talked to both officers that were approached at the stables. I have read the response that you received from Captain Veloski.

We receive weekly complaints from cyclist about vehicle traffic and vehicle traffic complaints about cyclist. The ranger department actively and aggressively enforces the appropriate laws that govern any given situation concerning traffic issues. While rangers cannot be everywhere, it is incumbent upon the cyclist and motorist to share the roadway, be respectful of each other, and get along. This however does not happen all the time as you have indicated.

In reviewing your incident there is not a reasonable charge that we can prosecute. You both have different accounts as to what happened. There are no witnesses to the incident. Your opinion as to what is a "safe distance" and what another person's opinion on what is a "safe distance" is subjective. The law does not and cannot reasonably address the issue of "Safe Distance" in the context of the law. Is 6 inches enough or is 2 feet enough? The fact is: he did not make contact with you or your bike, and it then becomes your word against his word as to how close he was.

As far as what action should be taken in the future, I would not suggest a confrontation. The use of profanity only escalates an already volatile situation. Remain calm and report the incident to the rangers or local PD if not in the park and let us investigate the incident.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or comments.

Lt Bernath
Terry Bernath, Lieutenant
Western Division
Cleveland Metroparks Rangers
4600 Valley Pkwy
Fairview Park, Ohio 44126
Phone (440) 331-5414
Dispatch (440) 331-5530
Fax (440) 331-5342

Lt. Bernath,
I understand rangers cannot be everywhere. I also understand that the cyclists and motorist must share the roadway.

I am usually very comfortable cycling on the road. I ride my bike to work for transportation, in the park for fitness and recreation, and in races for competitions. Sunday I felt very vulnerable on the road. I was passed at a distance that was unsafe and then intentionally 'brake checked" at least twice. Had I not avoided this action, I certainly would have hit his car and been thrown off my bike.

I am appalled that it seems like motorists can do what ever they want towards cyclists lawfully using the roads unless they actually hit someone.
I do encourage my fellow cyclists to obey the laws of the road: stop at stop signs, obey traffic signals, ride on the correct side of the road, etc. Also, we do go above and beyond to accommodate traffic by riding single file when traffic is heavy.
Sincerely and with all due respect Lieutenant, I think that you are not offering me much confidence in this situation. On one hand I am led to believe that since I was not physically contacted and not physical harm was done, nothing is wrong. This is not the case. Cyclists are yelled at, harassed, 'buzzed' every day, and basically menaced [most of the time without witnesses other than fellow cyclist] for taking part in an activity permitted by law! On the other hand, I am being told to report the situation during future incidents. Why? I have no physical evidence of harm or menacing so isn't it going to be my word against his?

Believe me, I would have loved to remain calm in this situation. I felt threatened.

My profanity does not, provide an after-the-fact excuse for his driving behavior. It helps show the state of fear that I was facing. Your Rangers, however, did a fantastic job of making me feel much safer and calming me down. Your response after the fact disappoints me.

Mehul Gala

Mehul: That was the last letter that I sent to Lt. Bernath. He then called me and we talked for about a half hour.

The conversation led no where then. We discussed how motorists are getting mad at cyclists and vice versa. He stated that motorists complain about riding in the center of the road. I told him that we have to do that occasionally because the road conditions are poor, so if we do have to do that, it is usually only a few hundred feet at the most.

I asked him if the same priority was given to that motorist complaining about cyclists as me complaining about almost getting hit and he said, "that complaint is important to that person".

I was blown away. He wouldn't say that he gives it the same priority, but he wouldn't concede that it was frivolous complaint.

I told him that I want to press charges against that guy. He told me that he would have to charge me with disrupting the peace or disorderly conduct. I told him that I was fine with that, but he didn't seem to want to take me seriously.

I felt like I was not getting anywhere and decided I was wasting my time. He apologized for not being able to offer me 100% satisfaction. I told him he was hovering close to 0%. I told him that it seemed like there was a mild prejudice against cyclists and that it was a shame.

My final impression was that the Cleveland Metroparks' Rangers are hand cuffed and pretty much useless because of poor attitudes.

My brief initial thoughts:

If someone unsuccessfully tried to rob someone at gunpoint in the Metroparks, and the victim was able to positively identify the robber, would the Lieutenant have the same response: no witnesses, no hard evidence, no charges?

What does the fact that some cyclists (in the opinion of some drivers) ride too close to center have to do with the fact that a driver tried to nearly kill Mehul?

Just remember that our tax dollars are paying these people's salary.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things to do in Vermont when not getting your butt kicked by a bunch of thirty-somethings in a bicycle race

Go on a hike up a mountain that is way too technical for flatlanders like us.





Interact with the many, many sled dogs on site.


Stand on rocks.


Participate in a Wii Tennis Tournament.


Friday, September 12, 2008


Today I dusted off my clubs and ventured to the driving range in preparation for a golf date next week with some out of town relatives.

Forgive me father, but it has been about six years since my last game of golf.

In that time, I certainly did not improve, yet my skills also did not deteriorate. They just stayed mediocre at best, the level at which they remain even when I golf on a regular basis.

The funny part about visiting a golf course and/or driving range is my initial inclination to judge these people with their ungodly expensive golf clubs, ridiculous outfits, and way too serious attitude about hitting a little ball in a hole.

Then I think about the fact that I spend hundreds of hours a year riding a bike while wearing a lycra costume with what is supposed to be a menacing looking snake on it. I also more than occasionally race against other like minded individuals and put way too much emphasis on the results of these contests between what is usually a bunch of mid to upper class white guys with way too much time and disposable income on our hands.

Then I decide to stop judging golfers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Road rules

I just came across this well organized summary of Ohio bicycling laws, which was compiled earlier this year by the recently deceased Cal Kirchick, an avid cyclist and attorney. It is a must read for anyone who rides the roads of Ohio. (Scroll down a bit on the page after clicking on the above link.)

It is definitely a must read for the gentleman we encountered today on our ride who insisted that we should ride single file on the four-lane Shaker Blvd. because, according to him, Westlake forces cyclists to ride single file (which is likely an invalid law) and in bike lanes when available (which is even more likely an invalid law). Sorry Dorothy, but you're not in Westlake anymore.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ride for Miles

Here is a link to information relating to a ride to honor the life and work of recently fallen local cyclist Miles Coburn, which will take place on Saturday, September 20th from John Carroll University.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

GMSR crit and final GC

The Monday GMSR crit was 25 laps around a 1k course in downtown Burlington. It was a hilly, tight, and fast course with lots of spectators and some brick roads. The pace of the 30+ race was brutal from the gun, and the fact that we could not pre-ride or warm up on the course didn't help matters. I think we started this last stage with 40 or so riders, many of which were dropped and pulled on the first few laps after the field blew up. My group was pulled at 11 laps...ouch.



The finish


The day improved greatly, however, after we visited the way cool Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington for some samples and a jug of Jinx to take home, straight from the tap.

That officially wraps up the GMSR. My 30+ field started with 45 riders, mostly Cat 1, 2, and 3. I finished 27th overall on the GC. I can't really complain about that, given the studs in this field and their stage race experience.

The race itself was pretty remarkable. That doesn't mean much coming from me, but the fact that people from all over the east and beyond keep coming back every year shows how good it really is.

So now I am here until the weekend, relaxing on a mountaintop property in a rustic cabin on 75 acres with our dogs and the 28 sled dogs that reside here.

I guess it's now time for cyclocross.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

GMSR Prologue, Stage 1, and Stage 2

On Thursday, Katie and I, the dogs, two bikes, and two and a half wheelsets made the trip to Vermont for 10 days of vacation and the Green Mountain Stage Race.

I originally signed up for the Cat 3 race, but made a last minute change to the 30-39 master's field after realizing the start times in that race better suited our travel plans (which included a change of lodging on Saturday). So, instead of racing against 100 other Cat 3's, I am racing against 45 mostly Cat 1's, 2's, and 3's. (I learned this info by cyber stalking the competiton on

The prologue was a 5.7 mile time trial with about 2.5 miles of up (gaining around 500 feet), 2.5 miles of down, a steep little hill, and a false flat to the finish. I rode it as well as I thought I could and came in at 26th place with a 15:56, nearly two mintes off of the leader (who posted a time nearly a minute faster than the winning Cat 3 and who would have been 12th of 126 riders if he had done the Pro-1-2 race with lots of good regional and national teams like Symetrics, TargetTraining, etc.).

The warm up tent (click photos for larger image)

The start




Stage 1
Stage 1 was a two-lap, 65-mile circuit race with about 3000 feet of climbing, two King of the Mountains sprints, and one points sprint. The pace was pretty high throughout, and the afternoon sun made the race hotter than the temperature said it was. I finished 29th with the front group/main field in a mass sprint. We dropped around 15 guys on the KOM's, especially on the second lap. We actually dropped a lot more than 15, but many clawed their way back on the several mile long, winding descent after the hill.

As we approached the finish the moto pulled off at 500m to give us the whole road. I started to come around to contest the sprint at around 300m, and my legs began to seize (literally). After I crossed the line, I coasted alsmost to a standstill and nearly dropped my bike because I could not move my legs. That hurt, but I managed to finish with the leaders.

The field aproaching the line (I don't remember if this is the finish or the first lap points sprint)


Stage 2
Stage 2 was a 75 mile death march with several thousand feet of climbing and two major climbs between 1500 and 2000 feet of elevation gain. It finished at the top of Appalachain Gap, a 10 mile climb with the last 4k averaging 10% and the last 500m being 20%.

I was dropped with 500m to go before the top of the first major climb/KOM (Brandon Gap) at mile 35, caught back on a few miles later, then stayed with the lead group until about 7 miles from the base of the last climb. The goal was to stay with the leaders until the base of the last climb. Oh well. I then lost some serious time on the last climb and finished totally shattered, 25 minutes down from the winner.

The drive to Stage 2

The start

The finish




Me near the finish

At 100m to go

Burlington Criterium
The Burlington Crit is tomorrow. I currently sit in 33rd place out of 45 starters. Despite having it handed to me royally today, this race is serious fun and is run with amazing precision for a race with 800 total participants.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

She's Crafty

Problem: I lost my nifty orange armwarmers, which I will likely need for this week's race.

Solution: Katie makes me new ones, in about 10 minutes.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I am an interloper

And so is Ray and Brett, who were also kindly allowed to take part in the Team Spin/Spin Multisport Team two-person time trial tonight in downtown Cleveland, despite the fact that we are not members of either of those teams.

The night consisted of meeting up with Ray and Thom D., then riding to the race, getting randomly paired up with Brett, and riding pretty darn hard for 10 miles, half of which was into (what felt like) gale force winds coming from the east off of the lake. We then rode home, barely making it home before nightfall.

A fine time was had by all, and it served as good training for the stage 1 (Eddy Mercx style!!) time trial at the GMSR, which begins a week from Friday.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who was it that said crit racers have no brains?

Some people say that life imitates art. It also imitates high school, at least for some pro bike racers at this weekend's USA Cycling Pro Criterium Championship in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Apparently, recent Tour de France podium contender, Olympian, and Chicago-raised Christian Vande Velde showed up for the pro race. He attacked the field in the middle of the race, took a $400 prime lap, and stayed off of the front in a solo breakaway for six laps before being caught by the chasing field.

According to this article on

[Pro racer and former teammate of Vande Velde Antonio] Cruz said the peloton was at first unimpressed with the Olympian in their midst.
"A lot of these [racers] were like, 'Whoo, hoo, Christian Vande Velde, Tour de France, big deal.' And then when he hit it, you hear some guys talking trash. Then two laps later we're strung out and nobody's talking, and Christian is gaining ground.
"It actually really pisses me off. There are a lot of disrespectful guys. They need to go to Europe and see what it's like before they talk."

In other words, a bunch of domestic pro cyclists barely scrapping by on teams with tight budgets (with a few exceptions) took issue with an international cycling star in their midst. One whom in no way was going to contest the crazy finish at this race (absent a successful breakaway), and one whose name alone creates a great deal of publicity and media attention based upon his recent success at the Tour de France and participation in the Beijing Games.

Domestic professional bike racing has been a fringe sport in this country ever since the decline of track racing in the first half of the 20th century. Major domestic races are routinely canceled (Tour of Utah 2007) or downsized (Tour de 'Toona 2008) as a result of lack of sponsorship money. You'd think that domestic racers would welcome the increased attention and free publicity that comes with a racer like Vande Velde at an event like Downer's Grove. Instead, they acted like cliquish high school kids threatened by the presence of the new kid who is going to steal their girlfriends.

There are two sides to every story, and there is always the chance that Vande Velde did something at the race to cause this stir. Until I hear something along those lines, I'm going to have to say that dissing Vande Velde was pretty damn lame and shows a real lack of class. If nothing else, it demonstrates a lack of common sense if you actually want to see this sport grow on this side of the pond.

A plug

This upcoming Saturday, August 23, 2008 is SnakeBiteRacing's annual Valley City Street Fair Road Race in Valley City, Ohio. This year's race includes the Ohio USCF master's championships for men and women, as well as many other category-based races, including a women's 2/3 race and a women's 4/Citizen's race. A detailed race flier is here.

The price is also right, as all men's races are $18 and women's races are $10 for licensed racers!!

Yes, I am involved in this race, so take my opinion with a grain of salt....but, this is great race on a great course.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another tragedy, more ignorance

For those who have yet to hear, John Carroll University biology professor Dr. Miles Coburn was involved in a bicycling accident and killed on Saturday morning. It was at an intersection we east siders regularly ride when going to or from Burton. The tragic story first appeared here, then was updated here. Send your thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc. to his family and friends. Also keep in mind the person driving the automobile involved in the accident, who must be devastated.

To make this story even more disturbing, here are some comments in response to the initial Plain Dealer online article. Yes, I know, pointing out the ignorance of people who comment on internet news articles is akin to shooting large, slow fish in a barrel. The problem is that these people have our lives in their hands every time they encounter us on the roads. That is truly scary.
Posted by Buckeyebobby on 08/17/08 at 12:41PM
As for the cyclist killed on route 44, these people are playing with fire. I see them all the time out in Geauga County cycling the backroads. The trip is scenic and the rural roads more quiet than the urban ones, but these roads are often narrow and hilly, several times I've almost hit cyclists coming around corners in my work truck.

Posted by chaosad948 on 08/17/08 at 10:56PM
I lived in Geauga County for 7 years and I will tell you that it is a diffcult county to DRIVE in, let alone cycle! Everyone goes like 50-60 MPH everywhere bc it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere...I don't think cycling should be allowed on certain roads there...kind of like the "No Truck Route signs...No Cycling Route....seriously...

I'm really glad that some motorists think cyclists should stay off of the rural streets because the motorists are too lazy and selfish to drive at safe speeds on dangerous roads.

Why is banning bikes the solution to dangerous roads, opposed to safer vehicle speeds?

Everyone, please be safe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Well said

"The thing about the masks is they're USOC masks...a doctor from the USOC sent a note saying, 'You should wear these masks in all transportation centers.' The fact that the USOC didn't back that wasn't very cool."

Taylor Phinney's response to the controversy over the use of air pollution masks by some members of the U.S. Olympic track team when they arrived in Beijing, courtesy of an article from the Denver Post.

I'm glad the USOC issued the masks, advised the athletes to wear them, then, according to this NYT article, scolded them for wearing them. Way to make a bunch of first time Olympians diplomatic scapegoats.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An hour in hell

Many people give me weird looks when I try to describe cyclocross to them. From now on, I'll just send them this video.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Orrville Milk Race

38 racers showed up for today's Cat 2/3 Milk Race in Orrville, Ohio. For SBR, it was Tom K., Pete S., and myself. This is yet another fabulously run August race in northern Ohio....five laps of a ten-mile loop of country roads. At the beginning of lap three, I managed to make a five-person breakaway. We stayed away for over 20 miles, but were brought back by the motivated field on the last lap. Then, two of my former breakaway companions (Tris H. and Rudy S.) had enough left in the tank to attack the field with Ray H. with a few miles to go. They held their lead, and Ray won the race in a three person sprint. Nice work Ray. SBR's Tom K. managed to take 8th overall in the field sprint. Good work Tom.

Hanging with and trying to contribute as much as possible to a breakaway group like that on a rolling and windy course is truly a test of willpower. I can't believe I pay money to do this.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Single File

Both Ray and JimmyNick have recently commented on single file cycling laws and their enforcement by local authorities.

Actually, I was on the ride with Ray when the Gates Mills police officer hassled us for riding two abreast. We were riding two across going up a curvy s-hill heading north on River Road, just north of Wilson Mills. At the top of the hill, we singled out. We had no idea a cop was behind us, and he pulled us over at the bottom of the other side of the hill. He specifically said that he pulled us over because we were riding double file going up the hill, which happens to include two totally blind curves. Apparently we were blocking traffic by riding double file. But, any driver who would attempt to pass a cyclist going up this hill has no respect for his/her own life or the passengers in their car, the life of the cyclist(s), or the life of any potential oncoming drivers. Like I said, we singled out at the top of the hill when it would be safe for a driver to pass us, but that wasn't good enough.

As for the arguments in JimmyNick's post, and the comments on Ray's post about the conflict between state law and local laws on this issue, let me just say that I agree with the consensus. For various reasons, I won't go into detail on why.

But, I would ask that if anyone who reads this blog is ever ticketed for riding two abreast in Ohio, or riding too far from the gutter of the road, contact me. We need to challenge the unlawful enforcement of these laws in court, and to the court of appeals if necessary. Honestly, you'll be wasting your time (and potentially be putting your short term liberty in danger) arguing about it with the cop who wants to ticket you.

Monday, August 04, 2008

At least I finished "in the money" on Saturday

So my (lack of) results at the Zoar road race was kind of a drag.

But, at least Reuben (aka "The Brave Sir Reuben") did well on Saturday. We acquired another title in his quest for world dominance in the Black and Tan Coonhound agility scene, a scene that actually doesn't really exist except for him. Aruuuuuuuuuu.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Zoar Road Race

Stark Velo once again put on a first class race today in the hills just south of Canton, Ohio. This race is, without a doubt, one of the premier area races.

In the Cat 3/4 field, we started with 51 racers and the field shrunk considerably as the race progressed. No significant breaks managed to get away (despite many efforts), and the race came down to a field sprint. As we got within a mile of the finish line (which is all downhill), I shot away from the group but got caught well before the 200m sign. Oh well.

An observation from today's race is that more than a few people can use an August bicycle tune up. If I had a dollar for every mis-shift, dropped chain, and general horrible sound coming from people's bikes today, I would have had my gas from the trip covered.

We also watched the end of the men's 1/2/3 field, which saw Thom D. and race winner Brian B. break away from the field and stay away for the duration of the race. Hats off to those two for being just generally beasts on the bike.

Next week is the Orrville Milk Race for me, and I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

"Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day."

This article from the Wall Street Journal Online discusses Barack Obama's weight and his apparent dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle (or, as "healthy" as a lifestyle one can lead while being a Senator and presidential candidate).

Here's an excerpt:

But too much time in the gym can cause problems, as Sen. Obama learned last month after he made three stops to local Chicago gyms in one day, for a total of 188 minutes....Republicans have recently picked up on the senator's fitness regimen. On Wednesday, the McCain campaign launched a new ad titled "Celeb" that compares Sen. Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. In a memo to reporters explaining the ad, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis wrote, "Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day."

So the guy worked out for three hours one day. God forbid. I guess no one from the skinny guy convention, also known as bike racers, will ever pass as a respectable presidential candidate.

I'm certainly glad that things are different in this election cycle, and we are finally focusing on the candidates' stances on the important issues facing our country.

(thanks to Asymetrical Information for the heads up on this article)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Since when was it a crime...

The recent images of Riccardo Riccò being carted away by French authorities following his positive blood test at the Tour de France got me thinking (again) about the existence of "sporting fraud" crimes that exist in some European countries. What I am referring to here are actual crimes for which one can go to jail or be forced to pay fines to the state...not prohibited acts in the eyes of the UCI, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), or any other sporting body.

If a professional cyclist is caught doping in some of these European countries, he/she could face criminal charges of sporting fraud in addition to any criminal charges associated with possessing, distributing, or consuming a banned substance.

In America, the only actual crime associated with doping would be the possession, use, or distribution of the banned substance, assuming the drug at issue is actually illegal to possess.

This article from last year on the Huffington Post, written by J.P. Partland, makes the case for sporting fraud laws in the United States. I have to say that I disagree with it 100%.

I view the criminalization of "sporting fraud" in the U.S. as an expansion of the already over funded and largely unsuccessful war on drugs. I don't want my tax dollars funding cops who bust down the doors of professional athletes looking for EPO or steroids or extra asthma inhalers. I care about doping, but I don't care that much.

Plus, European sporting fraud laws have not stopped the scourge of doping in the European pro peloton. If you do believe that the pro peloton is cleaner now than it was five years ago (which very well may be the case), the recent shift toward clean cycling was not caused by sporting fraud laws. Instead, it was caused by the horrible publicity from several Tour de France scandals, sponsors pulling out millions of dollars from cycling, and a general sense of doom within the sport.

Allow the market to dictate how strictly pro cycling enforces its own doping policies. If people want clean cycling, sponsors will continue to pull out until the sport comes clean. The thought of the FBI, ATF, or local law enforcement involved in this fight seems unnecessary, which is why those Roger Clemens Congressional steroid hearings sat so poorly with many people.

The real shame here is that cycling continues to receive a black eye for all of the doping scandals when it is one of the few sports that actually try to purge the dopers, even at the expense of the credibility of the entire sport. There is nothing more annoying than hearing a U.S. sports commentator decry the illegitimacy of cycling while praising the virtues of baseball and American football.

Let's just say that, if doping did become a crime that was strictly enforced in the U.S., there would likely be a heck of a lot more baseball and football players sporting orange jumpsuits than cyclists.


One of the few universal truths among cyclists is the importance of hydration before, during, and after rides and races. Although we may disagree on the best type of frame material, training methods, or the on the definition of a "sandbagger" in races, most everyone agrees (expert and non-expert alike) that your ability to ride well is directly related to your hydration level. In fact, one of the best ways to let someone else know that you are superior to them in cycling knowledge and training is to tell them, while on a ride, to remember to drink before they get thirsty. That usually does the trick.

All of this knowledge about hydration, however, is completely thrown out of the window when cyclocross season rolls around. For some reason, racers miraculously do not need water for the 60+ minutes of all out riding we do in cyclocross races, despite the fact that we usually finish the race in a pile of sweat, regardless of the weather conditions (with some exceptions).

To place a water bottle cage on a cyclocross bike is akin to wearing a pocket protector to a high school dance. Not cool. Most cyclocross racers say that bottle cages interfere with their ability to shoulder the bike when running up hills. That makes perfect sense...compromise your hydration and performance for the entire race over a few seconds to be gained when running up the hill that half of the races around here do not even have.

Others keep a bottle in their back jersey pocket. This is a fine idea in theory, but even a smaller sized water bottle in your back jersey pocket feels annoying in a race. Plus, it is rather inconvenient to access the bottle from the jersey pocket, at least compared to grabbing a bottle from the way uncool traditional bottle cage.

Actually, it seems as if the only acceptable way of keeping hydrated at a cyclocross race is to rope your family member/spouse/significant other/friend into giving you a bottle handoff about halfway through the race. By giving them a job to do (that is relatively stressful for someone not familiar with racing), you will ensure that they will mysteriously always have some other "plans" on the dates and times of all future cyclocross races.

As for me, I've found my solution. I am a simple man with a giant cheapbone, so simple things for free cause me great excitement. At the Danville road race this weekend, racers were treated to free miniature water bottles:


These are the smallest bottles I've ever seen. As soon as I laid eyes on them, I thought, "The perfect cyclocross bottle!!" So I took three. Small enough to fit in the jersey pocket without being terribly annoying, but large enough to carry enough liquid for a 60 minute race in the fall. Nice.

Hopefully this season's cross results fare a bit better than the results of Saturday's road race.

Friday, July 25, 2008


This deeply disturbing article today on talks about a 19 year-old cyclist named Autumn Grohowski who was killed by an oncoming car. More specifically, she was killed by a drunk driver while she was turning left right before a railroad crossing where the lights on the crossing were blinking and the safety arms were swinging down. The drunk driver was coming the other way, saw that the crossing said "stop," illegally accelerated through the railroad crossing, and killed the 19 year old. Then he fled the scene, was forced back to the scene by shocked bystanders, and then proceeded to call 911. The story is actually much more disturbing than my brief summary.


Accelerating through an active train crossing is the same as running a stop sign or red light. The driver's illegal actions (in addition to being drunk) were the direct cause of this murder. Yes, it was murder, and I suspect that the only reason the DA did not press more serious charges is because the victim was a cyclist.

You'd think that by now, we would be used to being treated as second class citizens in this country. But I'm still not ready to accept this fact.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Odd day at the races

I knew that today's Westlake race would go differently than normal because, of the 30 or so guys at the start line, close to 20 were from three teams: Lake Effect, RGF, and Spin. That, and the fact that some of the big gun regulars were missing, meant that an early break with those three teams represented would stay away...for good.

And guess happened, but fortunately my SBR teammate Tom K. also made the seven person break, which made life for me just dandy. The teams with people in the break were happy with its makeup, and those without teammates were not going to bring back a break with that much horsepower up the road.

So, I hung out in the main field, managed to snag a cash prime, and was very happy to find out that Tom K. took 5th, despite being seriously worked over by the three previously mentioned teams, all of whom had two people each in the break.

Also, Hats off to Tom H. of Spin for riding an excellent race today and taking 2nd place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Identify the author(s) of this quote

"I was before the front group and they were probably going really fast cause my legs got really tired, I was in the front group"

Okay, that is an unfair question unless you've read this article on the KTRV website from Boise, Idaho. The quote is from 9 year-old Mary and 6 year-old Jack Aruskidicius, who participated in a 200-kid criterium with pro cyclist and hometown hero Kristin Armstrong. (The video news clip of the event, titled "Ride with Kristin Armstrong," is also definitely worth watching.)

In a month where reports of bicycle tragedy and hate-filled road rage stateside, along with doping scandals in the Tour, have brought down even the most optimistic cyclists, this story is a breath of fresh air. It is about a pro athlete giving a damn and giving back to kids. It is about kids who have no clue what L’Alpe d’Huez is, don't care, but do know how fun it is to ride a bike. It is about kids doing something other than rotting away at the television or computer consuming messages from the advertising media telling them that they should spend more time rotting away at the television and computer. It is about everything that is good about cycling. And for that, I thank Kristin Armstrong, and wish her the best of luck in Beijing next month.

Given how she is riding lately, however, I doubt she will need luck to bring back some nice hardware.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I guess I should welcome this change...

But I'm not so sure I do.

As I mentioned a few months ago, I am racing the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont over Labor Day weekend. It is a four-day stage race, with a day 1 prologue/TT, a day 2 circuit race where we do the circuit 2.5 times, a day 3 road race, and a day 4 crit in downtown Burlington. (Links are to profiles of the courses. Click on "show elevation" to see the elevation profiles, especially on stage 3.)

In years past, the prologue has been a mass start race up to the top of Appalachian Gap, climbing 1730 feet, and 1267 in the last 2.7 miles at a 10% average grade. They ditched that course this year, though, and instead are including a more conventional 5.7 mile individual time trial. It has some climbing, but nothing like the previous years.

At my size, I should be happy about this change. But, honestly, I was really looking forward to the uphill prologue. Not that I won't have a chance to do this climb from the other side two days later when the stage finishes at the top of the mountain.

Now I just have to decide whether to do the Cat 3 or 30+ race.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ringing Endorsement

I ride and race on a 2007 Cervelo Soloist Team road frame that I bought last year from the good folks at Bike Authority. It is aluminum with a carbon fork, and I absolutely love it.

I was looking around at the Cervelo website today and found this statement which, I guess, is supposed to make people want to buy my bike:

We know that this is sometimes hard to believe – people are so blinded by “carbon” that they prefer a mediocre carbon frame over an Aluminum frame that is lighter, stronger, stiffer, more responsive and even more comfortable. Therefore, we can only recommend that you try out a Soloist Team, and find out why almost half of the Team CSC riders – the best team in the world – have a Soloist Team in their garage for training.

Almost half. In their garage. For training.

It evokes a picture in my mind of the bike sitting there and collecting dust next to the backup lawnmower and the chainsaw borrowed from but never returned to the next door neighbor last year.

I think that my college marketing professor would fall out of his chair reading this.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This story is horrific. I am eager to find out more about what caused this senseless tragedy. From today's Toledo Blade:

Roland Gladieux was awakened yesterday morning by two men arguing outside his house in South Toledo. Still groggy, Mr. Gladieux peered out his bedroom window about 5:40 a.m. and saw one man hovering over a man on a bicycle, threatening to shoot him. Seconds later, there was a gunshot and the victim fell backward. “I saw him pull the trigger,” Mr. Gladieux said. “I seen the gun flash.”The victim, David Babcock, 46, of 908 Kingston Ave., who was riding his bike to work to save money on gas, was shot once in the corner of his mouth in the 800 block of Western Avenue, near Langdon Street. It was the first time he had set out on what was to be an eight-mile ride to work.
Thirteen years ago, Mr. Babcock was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, despite the odds, fully recovered from the surgery to remove it.“Doctors didn’t think he’d walk and talk again, let alone live this long,” his fiancee, Rene Long, said.Toledo police Capt. Ray Carroll said authorities are unsure why the two men were arguing, but according to witnesses, it was a heated exchange. “It was enough to wake people up at that hour,” the captain said.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shreve Cycling Challenge 7-12-08

Another great race held in Shreve, Ohio and sponsored by Shreve Chiropractic. In the Cat 2-3 race, the attacks started from the very beginning and the race was already made about 3/4 into the first of five, nine-mile laps. Unfortunately, Tom and I from SBR did not make the break, which meant a long morning of riding around with the field. Not for me, however, because I lost the will and lost contact with the field on the big hill on the third lap. DNF...Ouch.

Congrats to Matt W. from Team Lake Effect for his impressive win in the 2/3 race.

In the Cat 4 race, SBR's Gary B. took 2nd and Matt O. finished in the field.

In the Cat 5 race, SBR's Mike L. won and Dave T. took 2nd, while Dave K. finished in the field.

The organization and support for this race is crazy good. A bag of free Amish pasta noodles in the promo bag, volunteers handing out water to racers after the race, free lunch for the riders, and an overall excellent vibe.

I do have one beef...with the rider in the main group (after the break was looong gone) who felt the need to chuck his Gu wrapper on the road. Not that this is a serious offense to humanity in the grand scheme of things, but it just shows a real lack of respect for the community that provides dozens of volunteers and offers their scenic country roads for this great event. Not that it would have been any better if the guy was in the breakaway, but c'mon. Is it really that hard to throw the plastic wrapper in your jersey pocket as you cruise along in the grupetto on lap two of five while fighting for the scraps of the race that is already up the road and is never coming back, no matter how much Gu you slurp down?

We can be better than this, people.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So unrealistic

This video attempts to portray a "normal" American adult life as a predetermined journey down the road of unfulfilled dreams and mediocrity. It is, however, so very unrealistic. Everyone knows that a normal adult male doesn't have room in his basement for a rec room with a bar and pool table because all basements are filled with bikes and bike parts, right? Right??

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Le Tour on Le Internet

Today I watched the TdF stage here, for free, with English commentary. It is the live streaming video from Eurosport UK and, with any luck, it will be available all Tour long. The quality isn't superb, but cheap asses can't be choosers.

Here are some other options for trying to watch it online.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Check out this finish of the 2008 Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship in Italy this past weekend:

According to this article on, after nearly 5 hours of racing, Belgian Roel Paulissen (Cannondale-Vredestein) and Christoph Sauser (Specialized) approached the finish together and tangled handlebars about 70m before the line. Sauser then remounted his bike and crossed the line first, but was later relegated by the UCI officials for riding "dangerously" in the sprint. Paulissen was then declared the winner.

I'm not so sure I agree with that call.