Devastating. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Lars Boom's catch of J.A. Flecha at the second intermediate sprint of yesterday's stage 1 of the TDF. It was a brutal display of power where Boom simply wiped the floor with Flecha. I seem to remember some bad blood between these two at Paris - Roubaix a couple of years ago...I wonder if this had anything to do with this? Lars not only bridges, but blows by Flecha in the kind of move that we all dream about. The former Veldrijer continues to gain attention as a talented rouleur within the pro peloton. Now he just needs to start pulling it all together and get some wins in bigger races...as top 5's only impress for so long.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Kittel, Kristoff and Van Poppel - Did any one else call that podium on their fantasy cycling team? I guess I'm the only one....right. This podium is one that few could have foreseen, and is a great testament to the irrepressible nature of Le Tour de France. That Marcel Kittel was standing at the top step and not Dish, Greipel or Sagan shows that anything can and will happen in this centenary edition of the tour just as it always has.
Now to be fair, Kittel is no joke as a sprinter, and has the chops to compete with nearly anyone on any given day, but I think it's safe to say that he was fourth or fifth on the list of riders we all thought possible to be wearing the Maillot Jaune at the end of the first stage. A number of the days events however, had different ideas about how things would play out. It was one of the most chaotic stages I have ever witnessed and one that folks will be talking about for years to come... though sadly for Kittel, he is probably not going to be the reason why.
Read after the jump for the good stuff:
Friday, June 28, 2013
I love July. It's the heart of summer. A time for sun and relaxation; family and fun; holidays and happiness - and nothing makes me happier then waking up at 5 a.m. almost everyday day of the month to watch the worlds greatest sporting event unfold live in front of my sleepy eyes.
Le Tour de France is without a doubt the greatest athletic spectacle in the world. I know, I know, it has a checkered past...and maybe a checkered today, but that is something that history will deal with. For now I revel in the beauty of the competition. Where day after day for three weeks the worlds greatest riders push themselves beyond the limits of their abilities on some of the planets most beautiful roads.
Most of these men have absolutely no chance of winning the race. They are there to support their team leaders, To sacrifice their personal gain so that their captain will hopefully end the month standing on the podium stage in the middle of the worlds most famous street. For a select few however, there will be an opportunity to seek the glory of a stage win. It will most likely come in the form of a breakaway with other little known domestiques that for some reason sticks because the leaders of the peloton have decided that there is no value in chasing them down.
This possibility of victory will cause a man to turn himself inside out to get to that line ahead of the others. Should he manage to pull off one single solitary victory in Le Tour, it will validate his entire career in one glorious moment. For some it may even validate their very existence, as most of these men are defined by their time spent on the bike.
This is my favorite part of Le Tour de France - the opportunity for an unknown rider to shock the world; to take their place at the top step of the podium for a day and cement their place in history as one of a select group of individuals who get to taste the fruits of victory and crystallize the memories that will sustain their dreams for decades to come. Vive le Tour!
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
They say you always want what you can't have... Nothing could be more true in this case. I would love to get my grubby little paws on this centenary tribute to Le Tour by the venerable Le Coq Sportif. As the official jersey supplier of the 2013 Tour, they have also created a collection of blacked out versions of the Maillot Jaune as a limited edition tribute to the Grand Boucle.
All that history aside, the jersey just looks great, and would be a smashing sight riding down PCH on the back of a certain Bicycling Life writer's body. Alas, it is most likely not an option, as they are only available in a few select shops in a few select countries. Feel free to take a look at this and their other fine get ups here.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”- Ernest Hemingway
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Saturday, June 15, 2013
|JV riding a junior size bike with clip in pedals in the 2010 tour. Only Jens...|
This is Jens Voigt riding a kids bike that was lent to him on stage 16 of the 2010 TDF. The story is vintage Jens and well worth the minute or two it will take to read. You can find it here.
Great video of Marcello Guiterrez chasing Danny Hart down the course of this weeks UCI Mountaing Bike World Cup race in Val Di Sole, Italy. Watch it here and then get up bright and early this Sunday morning (7:15 a.m. PDT) to watch the race live here.
Friday, June 14, 2013
|Beautifully detailed custom graphics designed to honor Mark Cavendish's brilliant career - in green of course - more photos here.|
Merckx. The name rolls off the tongue quite easily for how interestingly spelled it is. One single solitary syllable that perhaps means more than any other 10 words you could write about professional road racing. When a fan of cycling hears that name he/she instantly knows that you mean business, for there is no other single cyclist in the history of the sport who more truly exemplifies what it means to be a road racing cyclist.
Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx is unquestionably the greatest bicycle racer to ever strap in to a pair of pedals. So much has been written about this man and his exploits that I won't even pretend to be able to add anything to the lexicon of information that is available about him on the web. There are no links that need to be provided, just google his name and click on any of the thousands of URL's that pop up and start reading or watching.
Learning about Le Cannibale will not only be an interesting foray into the history of cycling, it will make you a better rider yourself.
Those who know me know I've been a Rapha nerd since day one. I love simplicity in design but high performance and quality are equally as important and they do each of those quite well. While the latter used to be suspect for the price level early on, in the last 4 years they have elevated their game to truly premium levels.
What I really love about Rapha however, is their strong sense of cycling history and their attention to detail when creating products intended to convey the weight of cycling's most important routes, races and riders (hey, that flowed nicely). Their seasonal product releases in honor of the worlds greatest races have been some of my favorites, and their brand new "La Centieme" collection in honor of the 100th edition of Le Tour de France is absolutely no exception.
The foundation of the collection is this specially commissioned mosaic graphic, composed of icons representing every tour champion since the inaugural race in 1903. This graphic is in some way represented on each piece in the group which includes a jersey, tee, cap, bidon, scarf and musette. I'd suggest you hurry over here and pick one up if interested, as most of these releases tend to sell out pretty quickly... I know because I've missed out on many of them, only to then see them on ebay for astronomical prices that make the msrp look downright affordable.
Absolutely amazing L'Equipe article about some of Le Tours greatest climbers and their stories. Names like Coppi & Bartoli, Gaul, Ocana, Mt Ventoux and of course Pantani. Incredible photos, videos and drawings bring these men and their stories to life. I've read dozens of books about these men and these mountains but still found plenty of new items I had yet to read. Definitely a worthwhile visit, you can find it here.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Nelson Beasley Vails was arguably my first cycling hero. I'm not exactly sure how I became so interested in cycling in the early 80's. I remember as a young kid becoming a fan of Eric Heiden during his record breaking performance in the 1980 olympics and learning about his participation in cycling as well during those broadcasts. Around that same time I stumbled upon the legendary El Dorado Park Tuesday night training races which further peaked my interest. But it wasn't until 1983 when I learned of this African American bike messenger who had a chance to make the U.S. Olympic team that my love for cycling was really born.
It was an amazing story, a poor kid from the streets of Harlem had worked his way to the elite level of cycling partly by working as a bicycle messenger in NYC. He earned a chance to shock the world and become the first ever African American to win an olympic cycling gold medal. Though he came up just short and had to settle for a silver, his position as a hero to millions of fans the world over was cemented. As was his place in my cycling memory as the coolest cat to ever turn a pedal in anger. It mattered not that the field was watered down that Olympic year thanks to the Russian boycott, he was a beast on the bike and as far as I was concerned had nothing further to prove.
He looked more like a linebacker than a cyclist and had huge thighs with shoulders to match. He was like no-one I had ever seen on a bike before, and thanks to the uniqueness of his story and his look; I became further enamored with the sport. I've had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to Mr. Vails on a couple of occasions, each time he was easy going and approachable and spent just enough time to allow me to regale him with the story of how he set me down the path to a cycling obsession that continues to this day. Can't wait to see him again and tell him the story one more time.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
|Danilo Di Luca the day before his positive test was announced. Photo credit: Cycling Inquisition.|
Cycling Inquisition is a fantastic cycling blog that does an amazing job writing about the current happenings in the world of the pro peloton. Though the focus is on the history and experience of the Colombian cycling legends of the past, present and future, the site overall is an amazing collection of extremely well written and researched articles that reach well beyond the Escarabajos who call Colombia their homeland. A great example is the current post covering the happenings at this years Giro d'Italia on Friday, May 24th; the day that Stage 19 was cancelled due to blizzard like conditions on the days climbs and also the day that Danilo Di Luca was announced as having tested positive for EPO in an out of competition test the month before. As always the post is thoroughly enjoyable with more than a few items that nearly made me laugh out loud. This being one of the best:
"Only seconds later, Mario Cipollini walked in. He was wearing a skintight white shirt, matching white Nike hightops, and bedazzled jeans that looked like they were stolen from a flea market in Kansas, and would probably make Michael Ball cringe."
Take a look for yourself here:
These Detto Pietro's were the second pair of real cycling shoes I ever owned. Well, not this exact pair but you get the picture. Mine were size 44 and I purchased them from a shop called 2 wheel transit authority in Huntington Beach, Ca. along with the first edition look clip in pedals that had hit the market in late '84/early '85. I was an early adopter to many of the new technologies back then: SIS indexed shifting, Oakley glasses and Dura Ace components are some other examples (I even paired an early Dura Ace brakeset with a Campy C Record drive train on my first proper race bike - a custom made Medici pro strada.... but I digress).
I loved these shoes. Not that I had any issues with my Vittoria clip in shoes, they were great, and I loved wrapping them with duct tape to look like my hero Sean Kelly, but I was so ready to make the leap to clipless thanks to watching the Badger rock them to first place in the '85 tour. It was incredible racing and over the top drama that year as the battle between he and LeMan played out for all the world to see, with Hinault giving no quarter and having no remorse for taking what was rightfully his as Le Patron of the peloton and the La Vie Claire team. Though Lemond may have had a case to stay out front and win the race, his sometimes whiny lamentations were a turn off to me compared to the "it is what it is" matter of factness that the Badger exuded. He was the epitome of French arrogance but he always exuded such je ne sais quoi that you couldn't help but admire him.
And all the while thousands of miles away in Southern California this skinny bike nerd sat watching the CBS racing coverage I had recorded on our Sony Betamax machine; pausing the tape just long enough to examine every piece of gear that adorned my favorite riders bikes and bodies. The look pedals caught my eye that summer, and these Detto Pietro's were the perfect match for that shiny white Delrin plastic housing. I spent every dollar I had been saving from whatever random jobs I had done all year in one fell swoop, but it was all worth it as I rode mile after mile up and down PCH chasing the ghost of the Badger off in the distance. Those are some of my fondest cycling memories.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Gravel, rocks, grit, sand, mud. What is it about riding on skinny tires over trails covered in these substances that interests me so? It's not a particularly enjoyable exercise to be honest. Even on a cross bike the vibrations created by rolling over these surfaces are translated directly to every tender part of the body that you can imagine, and maybe some that you can't. Additionally - spills, near spills, flats and chain hops are frequent occurrences caused by the unstable nature of unpaved roads.
A recent excursion into the rock laden dirt roads north east of the beautiful Chico/Paradise area of Northern California was a perfect example of the wonderful awfulness of riding such trails. Heading out of the Bidwell park area of Chico I traveled down the paved park bike path until the end of town and then onto the dirt and rock covered Fenced road for over 8 miles to the end of the ridge overlooking Big Chico Creek. At the end of the canyon I couldn't help but notice 3 vultures circling over my head and, thinking they may have known something I didn't, I decided to head back down the hill into town for a final tally of over 18 of the days 38 miles ridden on some of the most bone shattering trails I've had the pleasure of experiencing.
This area offers some of the best cycling I've ever done, and the variation of road types is part of that allure. If you've never tried riding on roads such as these I urge you to do so as soon as possible. It's an experience like no other on a road bike and I truly believe makes you a better rider when back on the smoothly paved modern roads that make up the lions share of our weekly miles. The lure of dirt is a strong one, and if you're not careful you may find yourself scouring google earth for mines of unpaved gold in your neck of the woods.
|Route map of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphiné - Lot's of fun in the Alps, including Stage 8's trip up the world famous Alp D'Huez.|
Tune up? This is the moniker frequently given to the Criterium du Dauphiné, arguably the most prestigious elite level stage race that is not a Grand Tour. The list of former champions reads as a who's who of the greatest cyclists in history including each of the 5 time winners of Le Tour de France, as well as the only former 5 time winner. Additionally, eight Dauphiné champions have gone on to win Le Tour in the same year, with the latest being last years champ - Sir Bradley Wiggins (A.K.A. Beaker). Tune up or not, thanks to it's consistently tough mountain stages, the Dauphiné has showcased some of the best racing on the pro tour, year after year.
With Chris Froome looking like a lock to win the 2013 edition, one would get good odds on the chances of Sky securing another Dauphiné/Tour double come July. A double/double would be a huge accomplishment for the British squad, and if it happens, I will eat one of these in their honor.
Friday, June 7, 2013
As my 5 year old son would say: "Whew - that was a close one!" This is a photo of my friend Tim's helmet after an abrupt encounter with a large bush. Tim is a fast mover on both road and trail and was competing in a local MTB race when he went down at speed. After the race he found this nice little log protruding from his nutcase. You know what they say: "Speed doesn't kill, impact does." Time for a new lid Timmy!