Monday, April 26, 2010

Joakim Noah would like Cleveland if he raced bicycles

Be sure to add copious amounts of bike racing to the list of things for which Cleveland is under appreciated, especially for a market its size. (in addition to its restaurants, good road biking, lots of independent film, great concert venues, great theater, great parks, and a low cost of living.)

Over the course of six weekends in April/May, there are nine USA Cycling sanctioned races around here, a weekly Tuesday night training race, and no shortage of bad ass people to race against, including a few former national champions. And consistent racing over the summer. And a killer fall cyclocross series that causes great jealousy in some people who live in supposed cycling "hotbeds."

Cycling aside, it's funny how riled up this town gets when some random sports figure insults it. I'm pretty sure other towns have different reactions to such comments. New Yorkers would tell him to f**k off. Portlanders would agree with him, just to keep him out of their nice city. Canadians would apologize and ask him how they could improve their town. (Canada is a town, right?)

We just become defensive.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sea Change

On March 11, 2010, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed a document called United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations. A link to it is here.

Among several others, one of the document's "Recommended Actions" included:

Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design.

A recent AP article discusses reactions to this document, including that of Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette, who:

[s]uggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that the secretary's thinking has been clouded by drugs.

"Is that a typo?" LaTourette asked. "If it's not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?"

I was going to blog about this when it happened last month, but excoriating a politician for an ignorant comment about bikes is so played out on this blog. Even when the Congressman accuses a Presidential Cabinet Member of being "on drugs," which is so lame it is offensive.

But, when I read the AP article from a few days ago, I decided to call LaTourette's office just to let them know how I felt about his comments. (You can too...his contact info is here). The staffer who answered the phone at his Washington office immediately got on the defensive, and re-assured me that the good Congressman is not against bikes, and that his comment was in response to LaHood suggesting that we spend more money on bike paths than on roads. I then pressed the BULLSHIT button and asked for a cite or link to this statement by LaHood (which of course does not exist). I was then put on hold for a while, then was told he couldn't find the quote. The staffer then admitted that LaTourette's "drugs" quote was in response to LaHood's recent policy statement referred to earlier in this post. Then he said something about bike paths around the area of I-271 and I-90 being dangerous. And that freeway projects provide for more jobs.

Isn't that, like, automobile welfare or something?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tour of the Battenkill 2010

We arrived at our hotel in Cambridge, NY late afternoon on Friday and managed to pre-ride some of the early dirt sections of the course. They were hard packed, a tad moist, and mostly free of loose gravel. Nice.

On Saturday, Jason, Scott, Zak, Derek, and myself lined up for Team Spin at the start of the 96 person Cat 3 Green field, which raced for 100k. The weather was sunny and in the 50's with stiff winds. The course looked like this:

The pace was fast, but inconsistent, for much of the race, with lots of fast on the hills. Then, after the last feed zone with about 20 miles to go, it picked up by a lot and hardly relented.

There were about 40 of the 96 riders left at the base of the last climb with 10K to go. Things went nuts, and Jason crested with the leaders, who took their gap into town. He finished second by a half wheel. Really nice.

I allowed some gaps to form at the steep bottom part, because my legs were in shutdown mode. I then picked people off as the grade lessened, and rode like mad into town with a small group, thinking they paid 20 deep. I won our "sprint," took 20th, and then realized they paid 10 deep. Oh well. I'm pretty sure I could not have ridden any harder/better than I did.

Scott, Zak, and Derek rode well and finished in the field.

Matt B. from Team Spin rode excellent and finished 18th in his Cat 4 race.

Results are here.

Other notable events from the weekend include:

-They had two wheel trucks in our race and asked some people giving wheels before the race whether they thought they would finish with the lead group or get dropped. Their response determined which truck their wheels went in. I think that situation is a gift to a graduate psychology student looking for a paper to write.

-The guy staying in the room above Jason and Matt was rudely barking at his wife before the race about not messing up his post-race recovery drink. I'm pretty sure he was a Cat 5 dude. Way to give cyclists a good name.

-Staying at a hotel about a quarter mile from the start/finish is the way to go.

In the meantime, back at the home front.....I disassembled the kitchen sink pipes on Thursday before leaving and failed to properly re-assemble them, leaving that task for Katie, the self proclaimed mistress of plumbing. I told her to send me photos of the finished product. She did:

I am an embarrassment to red blooded men everywhere.

Then, on the way home, this happened to my right front tire on I-90 about 30 miles east of Syracuse:

Now I'm home. And ready for some races that take less than 45 minutes to drive to.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mid-Ohio, aka is this Kansas Dorothy?

When we left Cleveland for the Mid-Ohio race car course, it was around 80 degrees. When we arrived 1:45 later, it was in the mid 50's with Armageddon like winds and threatening to rain.

Luckily, the sun eventually appeared and the winds died down to a level of insufferably difficult on a course that always feels windy.

I felt like quitting after about a half of a lap, and then felt worse from there. After making my way into a few moves that did not work, I missed the one that did (of course), and the main field spent the latter part of the race thinking that we were so close to catching them it was guaranteed to happen. It didn't.

Afterwards, we feasted at Pueblo Grande, a Mexican joint in Lexington with about 56 neon beer signs inside and outside of the restaurant. The irony was, of course, they didn't have their liquor license and served no alcohol.

I guess we were hungry, because we stayed.

Some good photos of the race are here, along with some Malabar Farm photos and photos of some fall and winter races.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


According to this article, some sixty six-year old Colorado guy broke his leg when a loose dog caused him to wreck his bike. This article amuses me for many reasons.
  • Next time you want to glorify the attitudes towards cyclists in other reputedly bike friendly cities, read the comments to this article which were (presumably) submitted mostly by citizens of the Boulder, CO area. They look like commenters.
  • Why do people think that $43K is a lot of money for a broken leg? Putting the issue of medical bills aside...if you were given the choice, would you rather have $43K and a broken leg that requires pins, or no broken leg? I'll take the unbroken leg.
  • I have no sympathy for irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to endanger other people's lives and the lives of the dogs.

I hope this guy prevails and is awarded more than $43K.