Thursday, January 31, 2008

Living Large With George

Has anyone been to the website of the resort community started by American bike racer George Hincapie? The community is called Pla d'Adet, named after the Tour DeFrance stage he won in 2005. An excerpt from the website states that the community is:

Gracefully nestled near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pla d’Adet is a unique, one- of-a-kind resort community for families desiring a lifestyle of health and fitness. Pla d’Adet Village will feature a state-of-the-art fitness center providing highly sophisticated training equipment, many of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced fitness professionals, an exceptionally pleasing climate ideally suited for year-round fitness activities and three-hundred plus acres of graceful mountain wilderness.

Homesites here (just the lot, not the home) range from $400,000 to $1,500,000. I'm sure that corporate lawyers, Wall Street Bankers, and heart surgeons are dancing in their corner offices over the opportunity to work with "many of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced fitness professionals."

If you or anyone you know buys a place here, I'll gladly visit and stay at one of the guest "Chalets" or "Masionettes". As the website states, "Ownership has its privileges."

How to lose a bike race

The Tour of Qatar is a multi-stage bike race held in Qatar, a small country bordering Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

Tom Boonen is a strapping young Belgian lad who wins a good deal of the bike races he enters, especially those that end in a sprint finish.

On yesterday's fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar, Tom Boonen lost the sprint to Italian Alberto Loddo. The video of the finish, however, shows that Boonen (in yellow jersey with blue shorts) stopped pedaling short of the finish line, which allowed Loddo to win. Even a schlub racer like myself knows to keep pedaling until after you cross the line.

Here's the video....the first minute shows the finish several times, but the best view comes at around 51 seconds. (The owner of this video disabled the "embed" feature, so I can only provide the link instead of being able to put up the YouTube player on this site. Jerks.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Escort Service!!

Get your mind out of the gutter man, not that kind of escort service. This recent article on talks about the Portland area "PDX Bike Militia," which is a volunteer based organization that provides a person with a "bike escort" if he/she feels uncomfortable riding home alone from work, riding home from a night out, or riding alone in any other situation where the person would feel safer with a riding companion. There is also a mention on the group's flyer that sometimes the escort brings that's service.

This is a great idea and is another example of how Portland pretty much shows up the rest of the country when it comes to progressive bike culture.

I wonder if something like this could be implemented in the N/E Ohio area?

I was also fascinated by the many reader comments on the BikePortland article that took issue with the "Bike Militia" name. Instead of focusing on the good of this program, they focused on the potential divisiveness of the group's name.

C'mon people, let's have a little sense of humor with life, can we?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Romantic Photo

For those of us not who did not participate in cross country ski races or trail marathons this weekend, the weekend weather kind of stunk.

So, Katie and I got a "couple" photo taken by a professional photographer this weekend. Here's the one we purchased. Aren't we cute:


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Long Live the Knob!!

According to this article on the CAMBA website, Cleveland area mountain bike park Vultures Knob is going "back to its glory days," and will host a six-race series in 2008.

This is great news for the area's bike scene. I must admit that I haven't visited or raced at Vultures Knob for several years, but have very fond memories of many days spent riding and racing there, especially when I was in college. At that time, I was a sorry excuse for a bike racer and weighed 40-50 pounds more than I do now. I crashed about 87 times every time I rode there, and man were my handling skills ugly (they actually still are.) None of these things, however, detracted from the fun of it all.

A resolution for 2008: I must visit the Knob at least once, even if I am too chicken to race there again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

'Tis just a spleen, 'tis just a fleshwound

Interesting story here. In August, a local attorney driving a Cadillac turned in front of and struck a law abiding cyclist at the corner of W 116th and Lake Ave. in Cleveland. The cyclist, who happened to be a state congressman, was thrown from his bike, ruptured his spleen, and broke his collarbone.

According to the police report, the facts of the accident were undisputed, the driver was faulted, and the police report cited "driver inattention" for crossing the yellow line into the oncoming traffic. In the box for possible cyclist error, the police report bears the notation "none."

The driver, however, received no citation for causing this accident. No ticket. No fine. No points on his record. In other words, your $100 ticket from those obnoxious traffic cameras for driving 11 mph over the speed limit at 10:30 p.m. on Carnegie is $100 more than this driver had to pay for hitting a cyclist and rupturing his spleen.

I'm glad that our local law enforcement treats cyclists with such respect. Or am I jumping to conclusions here....because I'm sure that there are many incidents of car on car accidents where fault is undisputed, the victim is seriously injured, but no citation is issued. Yeah Right.

A November article from the Free Times that discusses this incident can be found here after scrolling down a bit.

A recent letter to the editor of the Plain Dealer regarding this incident can be found here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

President ________, friend of cycling??

I spent a little bit of time recently searching for any references to cycling made by or on behalf of the current presidential candidates. Then I came across this fine article on, which had already beaten me to the punch.

Personally, I would like to see the candidates participate in a no holds barred crit race instead of party primaries. It would be much more fun than watching meaningless, watered down speeches about "change." I bet that Hilary would take Obama into a curb in a crit before the end of the first lap. I would also suspect that, in a crit, Huckabee would be quite glad he lost that 100 pounds or so over the past few years. And Kucinich would ride a fixie.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's on

The date for this year's Raccoon Rally Weekend is June 28-29. This bike fest is held in Allegany State Park in Salamanca, NY. Saturday is a beast of a 50 mile, hilly 2 lap road race. Sunday's expert mountain bike race is 30 miles of ups and downs, which mostly feels like ups when you're doing it. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year. This photo was from the 2006 mtb race:

Note the crappy sunglasses, which were frantically purchased from the nearby Family Dollar store the night before the race, five minutes before the store closed. I had broken my good sunglasses the day before when I sat on them after the road race.

Being a coonhound and all, Reuben also enjoys attending the Raccoon Rally, but was quite disappointed last year after encountering zero raccoons all weekend.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trail Running, Mountain Bike Access, and Hypocrisy

On Saturday, I did a very fun trail run with a friend. We parked at Boston Mills Rd. by the Towpath, and ran the Buckeye Trail into Peninsula. We then took the towpath back to our cars at Boston Mills.

I love that section of the Buckeye Trail, but parts of it were in very poor condition because of the people who ride their horses on it when it is soaking wet. Thousands of deep hoof prints rutted the frozen trail, making it very easy for a hiker or runner to turn his or her ankle (or worse).

The real joke here is that mountain bikers have zero access to off-road trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (I believe the recently opened CAMBA trail near Harvard Rd. is part of the Cleveland Metroparks, not the national park.)

Those who say the reason for this is that mountain bikers degrade the trail are full of crap. The horses do so much more damage than mountain bikers. Know that I'm not picking on horses or horse riders here....I'm just noting the hypocrisy of this situation.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Thank you... the nice guy in the BMW suv who stopped to see if I needed help while fixing the flat tire on my bike on the side of the road yesterday.

I was able to sneak out in the late afternoon and only rode in the ungodly cold because the weather is supposed to get worse over the next week. Of course, I flatted about 10 miles from home in Hunting Valley at the corner of Shaker and Chagrin River. My hands nearly froze off, but I successfully changed the tube.

In all of my years of cycling, I don't think any motorist has ever stopped to see if I needed help when I was tending to a mechanical at the side of the road.

Thank you, anonymous dude in BMW suv.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Floyd racing in NE Ohio

According to this article on, "Floyd Landis has accepted an invitation from the National Ultra-Endurance (NUE) MTB Series to compete in their eight-race series in 2008."

According to the 2008 mtb race schedule, the NUE series makes a stop at Mohican on May 31, 2008 for the Mohican 100. Using my powers of deduction, I would assume that means Mr. Landis will be racing in our backyard that day.

I'd be curious to hear what people think about the series allowing Floyd to race.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tax Free Bikes and Helmets!!

In Canada that is. I had not read about this until today, but this press release says that:

Starting on December 1, 2007, the Ontario government will exempt bike helmets and other safety equipment from retail sales tax (RST). Bikes costing $1,000 or less will also be exempted.

Premier Dalton McGuinty was quoted as saying:

We want to encourage more Ontarians - young and young-at-heart - to get outdoors, spend time riding bikes as a family and with friends, or to try
riding to work if possible, leaving the car at home...Together, we're building a culture of health and well-being across Ontario by encouraging more families to embrace active living.

In response to this press release, I was quoted as saying, "That's pretty sweet!!"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A good run


I don't love running, but I don't hate it either. I do it over the winter months once a week. I don't look forward to it, but I feel good when finished. Yesterday was a particularly good run, especially since I almost didn't even have the motivation to make it out the door into the cold night.

I recently talked to a good friend of mine, and he wants to be my running partner for the rest of the winter. He's a good guy, but he's kind of smelly and has really big ears. Kind of like me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oh, the horror!!

The weather around here this week is looking quite vile. I might have to resort to this:


I bought this machine a few years ago because I knew I would use it more than a trainer. I do use it more than I would a trainer, but that just means I use it more than never.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Saturday in the country

Saturday consisted of a 3+ hour group ride to Burton and back, then another trip to southern Ohio for the night.


That is where I partake in yet another fringe sport with an eccentric subculture.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ride, train, neither, both??

Below is an excerpt from an article titled "Three Fitness Resolutions," written by Brad Cooper in the most recent issue of the weekly e-newsletter:

Don't ride, train! Are you riding on your bike, or training on your bike? Big difference. Select a handful of events -- actual races or perhaps century rides -- and get after it. You'll find that a training program makes cycling more interesting as well as more beneficial. And having specific goals gives you the motivation to be consistent in your training -- always a key to success.

I know what he is saying....ride your bike with a purpose, set goals, do specific riding to achieve specific results, etc. etc. I do all of that. But, I still feel uncomfortable saying that "I train," probably because I don't. I ride a lot, race a lot, ride with purpose, but I don't "train." At least I refuse to call it that. George Hincapie trains. I ride my bike. Using the word "training" makes it feel like cycling is a job. I already have one of those, and prefer to spend my free time on an enjoyable hobby, like riding.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Ronde

Recently riding "The Bricks" up to Chagrin Falls made me think about these two YouTube videos from the Tour of Flanders.

This one perfectly captures the insanity of the crowds, especially on the top of The Muur:

This one shows a bunch of riders almost stacking it up while climbing the Koppenberg. Then it shows fans heckling some riders who are too spent to actually ride up this ungodly steep climb:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Congrats to Australia!!

Below is an excerpt from a article dated January 8, 2008:

Bikes continue to outsell cars in Australia
Australian lobby groups are calling for more government funding for cycling infrastructure, after the release of new figures showing the industry sold more bikes than the car industry did vehicles for the eighth consecutive year in 2007. The nation sold a record 1.47 million bicycles in 2007, compared to 1.04 million cars, while the government is believed to spend $7.5 billion on road related expenditure compared to the $100 million spent on cycling infrastructure.

"Soaring petrol prices, concern over climate change, crippling traffic congestion and the desire to lead healthier lifestyles all contributed to the record breaking year" said Elliot Fishman, policy advisor at the Cycling Promotion Fund. "Not only are Australians buying more bicycles, they are using them in increasing numbers. Cycling has become the fourth most popular physical activity with more than 1.6 million Australian adults cycling in 2006, an increase of 17 percent from 2001. (The full article can be found here, after scrolling down a bit.)

Does anybody know what the figures are for the U.S. on bicycle v. car purchases and government money spent on cycling infrastructure? I don't, but it's probably rather embarrassing, especially when President Bush's Secretary of Transportation makes comments like these on the PBS "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" show:

You know, I think Americans would be shocked to learn that only about 60 percent of the gas tax money that they pay today actually goes into highway and bridge construction. Much of it goes in many, many other areas.
Well, there's about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.

Good God!! Transportation money being spent on cycling infrastructure!! Don't these people know that bicycles are toys, not modes of transportation that increase overall health (and thus decrease health care costs) and help the environment. Tell it like it is, Secretary Peters!

A link to a discussion of this (odious) interview can be found here on, as well a link to a transcript of the entire interview.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Arise, Utilitarian Bike!


Today I rode with the regular east side crew and Rick, which meant having to clean 45 miles worth of road crap off of my bike after I got back.

I then turned my attention to the urban assault bike (UAB), which needed a little TLC. The result is shown above. This steed was my first race worthy mountain bike, which I purchased over 10 years ago. I still use it, but it has been "resting" in the War Room for a while.

I also want to thank Don for the hospitality and opportunity to check out the video game Rock Band on Friday Night. It's about as addictive as Guitar Hero, with more instruments. An amusing article about this game on, written by the guitarist from the band Sleater-Kinney, can be found here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

And I thought that my New Year's Eve Ride was fun

From Yahoo Sports: Cyclists ride bikes on the ski slopes in the alpine resort of Villars, Switzerland, during the New Year's eve mountain bike snow race, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. Nearly 100 cyclists rode the 5 km track on snow. (AP Photo/Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)

But don't worry, this type of fun can be had stateside as well. According to an article on than ran on January 3, 2008:

Winter downhilling returns to Pennsylvania

While many riders in Pennsylvania will be busy working up the nerve to head out and ride in the winter cold, a few brave souls will be racing the eighth annual winter downhill race at Blue Mountain Ski Area in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on January 5 at 10:30 am local time. Four racers per heat will compete mountain cross style reaching speeds of up to 50mph.

Soundtrack of the War Room

On occasion, I retreat to the War Room where I (wrongfully) convince myself that I know how to work on a bike. Except for last week when I rather successfully installed a front derailleur* cable (with the help of a telephone call to John E.)

I then started thinking about the best band/artist to listen to while working on a bike. It was a tie:

-Bob Dylan, especially the album Highway 61 Revisited. Eddy Merckx totally listened to this album while tweaking his bike in preparation for his first Roubaix win in '68.

-Anything by Will Oldham, who also goes by the names Palace Music, Palace Brothers, and Bonnie Prince Billy. Some tracks by him can be found here, here, and here. I can't really think of any connection of this guy to biking, except for the fact that a bunch of hipsters showed up to his last show at a record shop on their fixies.

record store show

Is that a sweet 'stache or what?

So what's playing in your War Room?

* For an amusing diatribe about the proper way to spell and pronounce the word "derailleur", read this article.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Once I reached high school, it became taboo to be seen on a bike or walking somewhere. It was a sign of being too young to drive/not having enough money to afford a car/being uncool. I assume this mentally was widespread. Does it still exist?

How screwed up is that?