Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hip Check

Dan Socie used to race a lot in the late-80s/early-90s. I was with the Flying Rhinos, and he was a Wolverine Sports Club. We bumped elbows as Cat IVs back in the day.

That's him in red, second from left. That's the old me in purple and yellow next one to the right with a turtle shell on my head.
So way back in 1987, he received his first prize money: $15 for 20th place in the Cat IV race in Battle Creek. Happy and proud, he took the check home to show his parents. They were duly impressed. His dad took the check and cashed it for him. Well, that's what he said he was going to do. The next day, he handed $15 to Dan.
20 years later, Dad presented Dan with a souvenir:

Cool memento of a Roadie life, huh?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cookies for the Announcer

If you've read the book, then you'll get this reference:
During each stage of the Tour de Georgia, Brad and i would drive through the Feed Zone and jokingly ask (over our mobile P.A. system) if anyone had chocolate chip cookies for the announcers. Usually, we were met with blank stares.
And then, by the 3rd or 4th day, something happened.

This is the Team Astana soigneur handing over a bag of Pepperidge Farm chocolate chips cookies to Brad.
Later in the week, the Rock Racing Team soigneurs offered up the most expensive gourmet cookies I've ever seen. They were wonderful.
And that, my friends, is why it's possible to gain 30 pounds while at the Tour de Georgia.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mow Better Blues

Yes, this is Cinelli handlebar tape on a lawn mower.
No, I don't see anything weird about this.

Friday, May 16, 2008


In an effort to attain balance in my life, I've taken up a new sport: rowing. Yes, I could ride my bike 6 nights a week, but I am self-diagnosed with ADSD - Attention Deficit Sports ... what was I saying?
It doesn't take long for me to suffer burn-out if I engage in one single sport for too long. Actually, I believe that it's just plain healthier to do more than just one sport. In fact, it's well-documented that a moving body is a healthy body, and that the body wants to move in MANY ways, not just pedaling a bike. So that's how I justify playing many different sports.
There are some similarities between rowing and road cycling, but there are also vast differences.
Some of the differences: more muscle groups involved, no angry drivers to deal with, no road rash if you fall off, and best of all no hills.
Some similarities: It's a pretty sport with a similar expense (the boat costs about that same as a nice bike) and it's comfortably odd/niche/misunderstood, and you control the amount of pain.
And just as people lump all bikes into the same category, people tend to think this boat is a kayak when it is, in fact, n-o-t-h-i-n-g like a kayak. A kayak is to mountain bikes what a rowing scull is to road bikes.
Here's a picture taken on Tuesday. I had to photoshop the sun into this photo because I live in Michigan where the sun only shines for three days in July.
If you have a second sport, what is it? And how is it similar to/different from road cycling?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Only in Bike Racing...

... can you reach out and touch the stars of cycling as they compete.
In the other mainstream sports, don't even try it. You can't get close to the players during the game. Show the usher your ticket. Stay in your assigned seat. Down in front. Behave nicely or we'll evict you from the stadium. Enjoy the game.
Bike racing? No such protocol.
Witness the greatness:

That video was shot on Brasstown Bald (about 800 meters from the finish). The leaders had passed by several minutes earlier. What you see here is The Laughing Group, which sounds like the name of either a small advertising agency or a band you'd find on iTunes but is actually a name given to all the non-climbers who must find a way to get up the hill in order to beat the clock and win the right to compete in tomorrow's stage.
Race officials usually turn a blind eye to the act of pushing riders up the hill. Thankfully so. Bike race fans drive long distances to be "right here right now" and to be a part of the race. And the riders actually count on it. (Watch near the end of the video. You'll see J.J.Haedo readily accept a push from the fans. You also see a Rock Racing rider (Freddie Rodriguez) appear and then disappear then reappear on the right side. That's because he's got my hand pushing on his ass for about 50 feet before falling over in oxygen debt. Me, not him.)
Not all fans get into the act. Some of them lend their support in other ways.
Prepare to watch the coolest cycling fans in the world:

Notice at the end of the video, I tap on the side of Comm 4's car trying to get Carla's attention, but she was busy watching the road. In all honesty, I was hoping to snag a ride to the top. I was worn out from all the yelling and pushing and running.
It was the best day of the Tour.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Shwag, Bad schwag

First the good schwag: A white dress shirt with the USAF Cycling Classic logo embroidered on it.
I was hired to announce at the USAF Cycling Classic in Arlington VA on Sunday (4 May). I was THRILLED at this invite. I'd be working for Arlington Sports who always puts together a great event. It was a natural for me having spent 4 years wearing the blue beret of the USAF Security Police. Here, I'd have the opportunity to meet General Michael Moseley (Air Force Chief of Staff), hear the Air Force band, see some F-16s fly over the Air Force Memorial, and watch a bike race. It was going to be quite a day. I got the shirt. That's as close as I got to the event.
The Bad Schwag: a hospital I.D. bracelet.
During the 9:30pm meeting to discuss tomorrow's event, I started getting a horrible pain in the middle of my chest. It felt like heartburn, which I never get. I had hardly eaten anything all day, so it didn't make much sense.
In a few minutes, I was writhing in pain.
No one had a car to drive. My roommate, motor referee Kirk Leidy, had only a motorcycle, so the only option to get to the hospital was by Nee-Nar. You know, one of those trucks that goes Neee Narrrr Neeee Naarrrrr Nee Narrrr with the flashing lights on it? Yeah, one of those.
And when fellow race announcer Eddie Van Guyse told me that he'd seen a cat die going through something similar to what I was experiencing, I opted for the quick trip to the hospital.
Some history: since I was a little kid, I've always hated being in people's way. I learned this on the golf course. It was always better to speed up my game than to make someone wait behind me. My game suffered, but at least no one waited for me to get out of the way.
So you can imagine how awkward I felt to be in a NeeNar causing Arlington traffic to freeze. Of the whole affair, that might have caused the most discomfort.
At 6am, the Attending physician had her eye on my Gall Bladder and gave me two options: Surgery or... well... surgery. I immediately called my M.D. friend in Denver for a 4am consult. She agreed with both options.
General Moseley would miss my performance.

A quick shout out to the staff of Virgina Hospital Center for doing a great job. They're awesome. And someday, my post-op nurse Tanya and I will be married. (As my luck goes, probably NOT to each other. But let me dream.)
OK, so it wasn't a complete wash. I read about the race on I caught a glimpse of the Air Force Memorial as my flight took off on Monday. (I think our wing nicked the Washington Monument on the way out.) And I have two pieces of schwag from my trip to D.C., one of which I'll wear more than once.
But best of all, I lost a small amount of weight. That should help me when I start riding again.

The Life of a Pro Racer

You may recall a quick soundbite from Frank Pipp during the Amgen Tour of California regarding the climbs out west. Well, I had more questions for him when I found him in Georgia. The first one I asked had to do with Brasstown Bald. Here's what he had to say about that hell-beast of a climb.

And then, after seeing how these guys live during a Tour like this, I asked him what it's like to be a pro rider. I mean, they're sequestered from the rest of us completely. While we're out and about town conquering the local night life, it seems that all they get to do is eat, sleep, and sit. There's not much glamour in it, eh?

Again, he doesn't talk normal because he's from the U.P.
And Julie, again I'm sorry, but he's married! I can't help you!
More to come!
Go ride!

Friday, May 2, 2008

File 13

It's a tradition of sorts.
All team cars are given a number according to the position of their riders on GC. Thus, the first place rider's car is #1. The 13th car in the caravan of team cars always posts its number upside down for good luck.
Now, as someone who was born on a Friday the 13th, I don't see the need for this, but I think it's pretty cool.
I also like the other sticker on the car. "Honk if parts fall off."
Though it's never happened to me, I've heard stories of bikes, wheels, and other things coming off the rack on busy freeways. That sticker is more functional than funny.
OK, that's all for now. I'm still uploading videos to YouTube. They'll be here soon.
Now go ride!