Thursday, January 31, 2008

Detroit Velodrome

If you go to YouTube and search: "velodrome-crash-rochester hills", you'll find a hideous crash by a guy who somehow manages to get his right hand caught between the seat-stay and the wheel of the bike in front of him. He then drags the other rider to a halt. Or I should say, he gets dragged mercilessly for about 60 feet because his hand refused to fall off.
OK, so that's the newer velodrome in Detroit. The old one isn't in such great shape.
Here's some video of it in its heyday.

It was in a bad part of town then, and things have declined steadily since. (OK, Detroit has some issues. That's no secret.) It was never a shining example of what Velodromes should be, but it did produce some great riders.
Here is a photo of the once-kinda-glorious Dorais Velodrome taken in 2000.

Notice the tree growing up through the start/finish straight? That wasn't there when we were racing on it. (That was meant to be funny.) You may also notice that someone painted a large gun on the concrete. Nice touch.

In the foreground, Mike Walden's name can be seen etched into the conrete. I can only imagine what he would say today were he alive to see this.
Just thought you might like a glimpse of the old stomping ground.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter is too short: a supporting argument.

I can make a case for it.
Here's when winter becomes too short: when you've put the right wax on your skis, and you have a decent trail, and you've managed to retain some level of fitness through the Holiday eating season. That's when Spring comes too quickly.
If, on the other hand, you've never discovered the sport of skate skiing and instead insist on riding your bike in cold and snowy conditions, then you're probably counting the minutes until the weather turns. Poor sod.
After this past weekend, I'm starting to worry that there won't be enough snowy days left in the ski season. I know that runs counter to the commonly held belief that winter=bad and summer=good. People in southern states think that everyone who lives in the northern states do so against their own will. In response, I offer this short video clip:

No, I'm not going to skip my trip to the Amgen Tour. Let's not go crazy. But I will be anxious to get home afterward to milk the last few ski days out of winter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The 2008 Amgen Tour of California is coming up REAL soon. I'm taking requests.
I'll have my video camera with me, and access to everything having to do with the race.
What do you want to see?
In-car footage? (This won't be as exciting as previous years as I'll be out in FRONT of the caravan in the Mobile P.A. car)
Interviews? (Provide me with rider names and suitable questions. I'll do my best.)
Behind-the-scenes interviews? Oh, have no fear. I'll be all over the place behind-the-scenes. Especially if Sarah is there.
Wait, that didn't come out right.
I mean.... um.... Sarah will be helping me track down the stories. She's a bigger bike race fan than I am - if you can believe it.
(Sarah, please don't kill me!)
I'll be helping her distribute race results to all the teams during dinner. And she'll be helping me capture and tell the untold story of how this race works.
There is an army of volunteers moving in a million different directions so that the race can move in one direction: down the road. The organizers (Medalist Sports) have everything so dialed in, they make Disney jealous. I think you'll enjoy seeing the clock ticking from the inside.
But mostly, we'll have the top cyclists in the world in our viewfinder. What stories do you want to hear?

(This was taken at the finish in Santa Rosa two years ago. Notice the guy on the top floor climbing over to get a better spot. He's smart like a Texas dog.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

OK, here's those Texas dogs.

These dogs were out for blood.
While riding in Texas, I noticed that most dogs were fenced in a yard. But two dogs found their way to this remote stretch of Texas back road We spotted them from a long way away, and had time to think about it before they alerted on us and came after us. We had a choice: turn back or make a run for it.
Neglecting our mid-winter fitness, we decided to make a run for it. It was touch and go for a while. In the midst of it all, I was able to pull out my camera and shoot footage of this event so you could see how vicious these Texas dogs really are. I don't know what you've heard about Texas dogs, but it's all true.

I'm telling you, I feel their pain. When they were younger, they probably terrorized many a cyclist. Now they've given up a step or two.
I'll bet they're still sitting on the porch talking about us. "Well, we almost got 'em. I tell ya, we would've eaten like kings."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Close Call. Closest One Ever

I'm a careful rider. Because of that, I'd say that in the 35 years that I've been riding seriously I've had only a couple of close calls in which I almost got hit by a car. Oh sure, I've had idiot drivers come close to me on the road. I even had one guy nick my elbow with his mirror even though he had two lanes to go around me. ( I caught up to him at a traffic light shortly after he flipped me off behind his wife's head. That's another story altogether.)
Today, I actually braced for impact.
I was riding on a sidewalk along an insanely busy 5-laner. When a big gap in traffic opened, I jumped out onto the road to make better time. I'd hop back on the sidewalk when the next wave came. I was just past an intersection when I saw an empty gap coming; I picked my curb-cut and went back out into the road. There was one car in the left lane giving me the curb lane. No problem.
Just as I turned my head back to my line of travel, I noticed that the driver was changing lanes in the middle of the intersection (illegal) right at me. I turned sharply to stick to the curb and braced for impact.
Now, you obviously know the outcome or else you wouldn't be reading this. (The driver missed me by a narrow margin.) What you don't know is that your life doesn't flash before your eyes in a situation like that. Well, yours might, but mine didn't.
My flash of a thought was ... ready for this?: "Well, at least I'm not riding my good bike. So it won't get destroyed."
Yes folks, that's the best I could come up with at a moment like that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Road Trip

Took the bike (and golf clubs) and headed out on a two week - 15 state - 3800 mile road trip to Orlando and San Antonio. Some observations:
- My arse is sore from spending too much time in a car. Why is it that I can sit on a tiny bike seat for 6 hours with no problem, but 10 hours on a cushy leather car seat kills me bum?
- Florida roads are lined with beer cans, Starbucks cups, and Burger King bags. I've never seen anything like it. Florida, to be fair, also has some of the most amazing rail trails systems I've ever seen. The West Orange Trail winds like a serpent from Clermont to Apopka, while the Van Fleet State Trail runs in a perfectly straight line for 29 miles from Polk City to who-knows-where. (I had to get off before I became hypnotized.

- There's a park in Brookside Texas that I'm certain wasn't named after Kent Bostick, but I told myself that it was. I mean, there SHOULD be a park named after him. He was a multi-time National Champion and an Olympian at the age of 38 (I gotta look that up.) Though it's not much of a park and in a town that doesn't see much cycling activity, we'll still dedicate it to Kent's achievements.

Non-cycling related stuff:
- I tried to be the last person to leave Disney's EPCOT. If you ever go, you really should do what I did and time your visit so that you're in the park after the tourists have left. It's a completely different place when it's quiet.

OK, that's all I've got for now.
When my Mac gets fixed, I'll post up the footage from the Texas Dog Chasing episode.

Monday, January 7, 2008

When Macs Die

No new posts since December 26th. The reason: my Mac died while I was on vacation in Florida and Texas. Full report to come shortly. New video and photos, too!
And a funny story about getting chased by Texas dogs.