Friday, June 27, 2008

$230 Entry Fees worth every penny.

Summer is golden. Remember that.
When plans changed late in the day, I found myself scrambling to get my bike race stuff packed and ready. Instead of attending a movie premiere in Detroit, I was going racing in Waterford (the towns are irrelevant). Sunny and warm, decent-sized field, decent fitness, I was ready to rumble. I couldn't wait. John picked me up at 5pm for the 30-minute drive. We were dressed and ready by 5:45p.
I forgot my shoes.
Seriously. I know I wrote about it in Roadie, but I still committed the Cardinal Sin of forgetting a critical piece of equipment.
I'm an i-d-i-o-t. Desperate to make the racing scene tonight, I briefly considered riding in tennis shoes. Briefly, I promise.
I have 30 minutes to find a solution.
I drove to Kinetic Systems and .... yes, you're about the hear the truth of a cyclist: we will pay any price to race.... BOUGHT a new pair of cycling shoes for about $220. Jeff guesstimated the proper position for the cleats. Attached them. Melted my credit card. And I was on my way.
I made it back to the race course just as they were lining up at the S/F line.
Riders ready? Go!
OK, so the left cleat was a little too far forward. I managed to ride for two hours at the season's fastest pace. It was the most fun race I've been in in a long time. It was a hammer-fest. I couldn't pass up the chance to race on a gorgeous night with a fast field. And now I have a spare pair of shoes that I will probably forget to pack in my bag sometime.
Summer is golden. It is also fleeting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to...

...put on a bike race: Follow the lead of Marquette, Michigan's Superior Bike Fest. They have it dialed in with a huge crowd, great courses, and fantastic support from a tireless crew of volunteers and staff. They had 7 hours of live radio coverage and internet streaming, and tons of coverage in the print media. While most people in the U.S. will have to Google "Marquette" to find it, there are about 500 Roadies and MTB'ers that will gladly drive you up to Yooperland to go to this event next year. And you'll be welcomed with open arms by a town that has been bike bitten.
... make friends and eat WAY too much. Spend a weekend in Marquette.
... screw up your internal clock: spend the summer solstice in Marquette. The city is located almost due north of Chicago but is in Detroit's time zone. Plus, it's WAY up north. So the sun sets more than an hour later and rises earlier than could ever be necessary. I'm still trying to catch up.
...patiently wait for the world to come full circle: When I was in the USAF in the early-80s, bike racing was not a popular pastime for enlisted folk. When I showed up with funny shoes and black wool shorts, and a bike that cost $500, I became the target of ridicule and insults from everyone in my Squadron. The problem was not that I chose cycling, but that I chose to be different from them. I swear, they hurled everything they could at cycling. Then they'd go to the NCO Club and drink their brains away and think of more ways that they could bash cycling. Well, the base where I was stationed from 1980 to 1982 was abandoned by the USAF in 1995, so all of the buildings are being converted (albeit painfully slowly) into civilian uses. And that old NCO Club has been turned into - fly the Irony Flag now - a bike shop. I hope my old Flight Chief notices the irony of that change. I doubt it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Time Well Spent

First off, I gotta tell ya: I spent a few days surfing in SoCal. Here's a picture of the beach. San Onofre located just south of San Clemente. Great trip. Completely kicked my ass being pummelled by big waves and soaking in brine. I'll cover this topic in more detail in a later post.
OK, so I landed in Detroit at 3am Sunday and didn't arrive at my housing in Ann Arbor 'til 4am. At 9am, I was scheduled to announce a small race on Michigan's campus. It would be an all-day affair involving kids races. I'll be honest, I wasn't looking forward to it at all. I just wanted to sleep/rest/recover from being in a washing machine for the past 4 days. I had committed to it without realizing what shape I'd be in.
To make a long story short, it was the most energizing way to spend a day. The Tour de Kids is like a real bike race event, but the oldest competitor is 12, and the youngest is 3 years old.
The following photos were taken by the very talented Bryan Mitchell - He captured it perfectly. I strongly urge you to go to his site and see the gallery from Ann Arbor. Some are poster-worthy, like this one of Frankie Andreu and one of the day's winners. Look at that face!

Or this one. A single storm cloud passed over and unzipped while the young riders were racing, but only the groan-ups complained. Groan-ups. hahaha. I just made that up.
I'm looking forward to next year (Father's Day). I'm also keeping a copy of the results from this year's event. I want to see which one of those kids rides in the Tour in 2023

Saturday, June 7, 2008

TdF Guide

The VeloNews 2008 Official Tour de France Guide arrived earlier this week. Normally I look through it in a day or two before moving on. But since I'm planning a trip to the final few stages this year, I'm reading every word. (Lordy, that thing must have been a lot of work to put together. I'm sorry I dismissed it so quickly in past years.)
I'm not getting caught up in the discussions about who will win or whether or not it will be a drug-free tour. I see it as a pivotal Tour from the latter perspective, and a free-for-all from the former. Any discussion beyond that is SportsTalk which I hate. (I hate sports radio hosts who spend an entire show talking about - for example - the NBA draft or the new head coach at an obscure Div. III school.)
I'm putting out a call to YOU for ideas of Must See places in France that are off the beaten path. They should be non-cycling related, and not-too-obscure history references. Don't suggest that I trudge out to a small rock in a nondescript field where Catherine The Great or her lesser-known sister Lois The Pretty Good once picnicked.
Someone recommended the Gorges du Verdon ( which remained unexplored until the 20th century. I'm looking into it... hoping not to fall into it.
I'm trusting that a few of the 24 readers of this blog will have been there, gotten lost, and stumbled onto something cool.
Let's hear it.