Monday, October 29, 2007


This post goes out to all those Roadies who've at one time or 'nother made the pilgrammage to Wisconsin in July. The event is called "Superweek". It's 19 races in 17 days. I touch on it a couple of times in Roadie. It's an easy target when talking about the lifestyle of a Roadie: sleeping in cars, doing laundry in rest areas, etc.
I was the TV "producer" in 1993, and I found a copy of the video. I'm posting it here in YouTube segments (so you can cut and paste the url into your browser).

Watch it. Take notes. And be aware that I'll be inviting one of the riders from this video (and VeloPress author) to provide a "Guest Post" here in the near future. Stay tuned for that.

Note 1: One segment is missing. I have to re-digitize it.
Note 2: Yes, I had more hair in 1993. I had better knees, too.

Segment 1 (the show's intro):
Segment 2:
Segment 3:
Not yet posted. Sorry.
Segment 4:
Segment 5:
Segment 6:
Segment 7:

Watch it when you have time. It's about 40 minutes total.
And the wildest part of this is that it was shot entirely by one guy with ONE camera, written and edited by one guy, and hosted by two guys. Matt Curin was the driver.

Director's Commentary: Eddie and I sat in my Subaru wagon with the windows up on brutally hot day in a quiet Wauwautosa neighborhood and recorded the voice over. He hasn't forgiven me for that yet.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Know THIS feeling?

(Note: This post uses a lot of cycling Jargon. If you have ANY questions about what any of it means, by all means, leave a comment. I'll straighten it out for you!)
OK, so you've somehow found your way into a small breakaway that is quickly motoring away from the field, and you quickly realize that you're doomed. Most riders would consider this a dream come true, but your fitness isn't where it should be, and you KNOW you'll be dropped before you get to the finish.
Meanwhile, your teammates - unaware of your inner turmoil - are blocking like mad men trying to ensure the success of your breakaway. They're pinning ALL their hopes on YOU to win this race as they prohibit anyone from chasing you down. They're sacrificing their own chances of winning so that YOU may succeed.
How's that for pressure? Now you're carrying the torch for your entire team.
So before you get too far along, you try to send a signal to your teammates that will let them know that you're in trouble. "Hey guys! Reel us in! I'm not....gonna....make it!"
But instead, they interpret your wave as either "Good bye, suckuhs!" or maybe "Woohoo! I'm in the breakaway!" So they ramp up their tactics to make sure NOBODY tries to go across the gap.
Seeing this, you start waving more frantically hoping they pick up on your desperation.
(It's almost like that scene from Team America: World Police in which the hero is taken by terrorists as they're being chased by the remaining World Police.
Actually, it's not at all like that. They were shooting rocket launchers at each other. Never mind. But it's a funny movie anyway.)
I guess the point of this post is two-pronged: 1. communicating in a bike race (with or without radios) is challenging. The good teams that enjoy success in this sport also work on communications within a race situation. You should, too. and 2. It really sucks when your ambition outruns your fitness.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Early aspirations

Here's a short video that I produced (shot, wrote, voiced, edited) in the early-1990s when i thought I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker. (Too much work. Forget that noise! This took forever to edit!)
This shows a top regional amateur team struggling against the top professional teams for a piece of the pie. Sponsored by Kinetic Systems, one of Michigan's most respected bike shops, and managed by Jeff Noftz, a guy who knows more about cycling than you'd ever know, this team is a great story of cycling's challenges: how do you compete against the top guns when you can hardly afford to put food on your plate? Even though this video is 15 years old, it's a story that's being played out in various forms throughout the sport still today.

By the way, I don't think more than 40 people have seen this since it was first shown in 1994. But thousands have lived it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Frazz joins the Book

OK, not actually Frazz himself, but check this out: I'm very pleased to announce that Jef Mallett will be providing the illustrations for "Roadie - the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer" published by VeloPress (March 2008).
He's the talented artist who draws the daily comic strip: Frazz.
Check out his work at
Or learn more at:
Jef is a Michigan-based cartoonist and cyclist. Frazz (his most famous character) is an avid cyclist and a school custodian at the fictitious Bryson Elementary. (Parenthetically, for those of you who care, Bill Bryson is one of both Jef and my favorite authors. (Lost Continent, A Walk in the Woods, and more))
While Frazz will be too busy to make an appearance in "Roadie", it's exciting to know that the hand that draws Frazz is currently at work doing the cover art and illustrations for Roadie.
So, one more reason to look forward to Roadie. OK, maybe the only reason. Whatever, man.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lance Wannabe?

Dennis Leary was on one of the late-night talk shows recently, and he went on a short rant about cyclists on the road. It obviously wasn't any sort of praise. It was vitriolic; that's his style. Fine. I like him when he's ranting on something I agree with. I can't get upset when he goes off on cycling.
My one gripe is that he used the phrase "Lance Wannabees".
First of all, aside from a speed boat and his brief time spent dating Sheryl Crow, there's not much in LA's life that I want. Thank you very much.
It's just that fancy bikes and lycra are how we roll. We catch a lot of grief for it. I've heard it all, so it's pretty much white noise by now.
It's pretty obvious why cyclists get more of that crap than others. I mean, soccer players can walk into Rite Aid dressed in their soccer shorts without catching even a glance. Thursday night's softball league can sit at an 8-top at the Texas Roadhouse (I try to use cycling sponsors in these examples. Did ya catch that? A weird sort of product placement, eh?) dressed in their pajamas.
- I'm sorry, but softball uniforms look like sleepwear to me. No one says a word to them about being a Magglio Ordonez wannabe.
Name a sport. Basketball? Hockey?
Let me interupt myself here. A guy can walk into ... (thinking of a sponsor)... Chipolte's wearing a Red Wings' Steve Izerman jersey and get away with it. That's a fashion statement that should be outlawed for anyone over the age of 11.
But here's why cyclists catch it endlessly:
We train on the roads. Not on the sidewalk, not in a field behind the school, not in a gym, not in a lake, not in a bowling alley, but right there on the road where people can see us, and worse: people have to go around us, and even worse: sometimes they have to slow down for us.
There's the conflict. That's what separates silent wonder from verbal scorn. Since we get in their way, we catch it. And since everyone in the world knows of Lance, they can glom onto something that's easily identified.
For the record, I'm not a Lance Wannabe. Heck, there are times when I'm not a Jamie Wannabe.
When they drive past me and call me a Chris Horner Wannabe though, then I'll probably be more accepting.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Have you ever done a Halloween Ride? Usually on the Sunday before the actual holiday? Sometimes costumed? Sometimes not?
Last year's Halloween ride started at 10am on Sunday, October 29th. I remember it clearly.
It was announced as "Costume Optional". I stayed on shore and opted to wear the costume of an "Unattached Rider" (in bike racing parlance, that means 'a rider who is not a member of a USCF-recognized team'. I went crazy and wore a non-descript jersey.) I figured that everyone else would do the same. I mean, who on Earth dresses up for Halloween?
John does.
At age 41, he rolled up to the start dressed in a full-on, albeit homemade, Batman costume including a flowing cape.
Immediately, in my mind, I began plotting a route that would take us on the most desolate roads in the county as far from civilization as possible. Cyclists already get harangued for wearing our normal clothes. Now we have ….(music stinger)…. Batman!
The ride takes us up a rail trail for the first 10 miles. The reaction on the trail was mixed. Most people were positive. Some were snide. Kids loved it.
We chose probably the worst convenience store in Michigan to stop for water. It was full of super macho hunter/farmer/softball league types who, to their credit, held back their true feelings vocally if not visually.
Through it all, John played it well, though I could have shot him when he called me Robin.
During a brief stop on the way back to Gotham City, we encountered a new rider who was severely under-dressed for the weather. He was obviously a new rider, and he was asking us a million questions. No problem. We love to teach.
And then something strange happened. He just went blank. Staring off into space, he just silently fell over like a tree. Low blood sugar combined with the cold, and over he went. Bam! Holy crap! He's going to die!
He didn't die, but he scared the crap out of us. And now we had a dazed and confused black-out victim on our hands. In the old days, we would have given the mandatory eight count and sendt him on his way, but now we know better. We called 9-1-1, for even Batman needs help sometimes.
Well, the ensuing parade of emergency responders that arrived on scene each had something to say about our caped crusader. Here are a few… you can imagine the rest:
"Holy Bike Helmet, Batman!"
"Well, Batman, I don't know how you do it, but you beat us to the scene of the crime again."
"Is Cat Woman going to show up here, too?"
In the end, John had done it well. It took resolve to dress that way, but he actually showed the public that cyclists are real people who have a sense of humor.
I may have to step it up this year and get my costume ready: unattached rider with Elvis sideburns.