Friday, March 30, 2007

Account Open

Considering that the USA World Track Cycling Team was comprised of only two males (and 4 women), and that our best chance for a rainbow colored jersey rest on the shoulders of Sarah Hammer, it came as a big surprise that Brad Huff (Slipstream-Chipotle) found the podium and opened an account that's been closed for the better part of 11 years. (Photo: Mitch Freidman/www.mitchophoto.com)

Brad Huff became the first American male to medal at the Elite Track Worlds since 1996. He placed third in the inaugural Omnium event, which is the track cycling equivalent to tracks pentathlon. It's comprised of the following events:

200m flying start time trial
5km scratch race
3km individual pursuit
15km points race
The Kilo

Katie's Korner

It looks as if our IronGal has taken over the TC blog. Be careful what you wish for, right?

One of the reasons I asked Katie to be a contributor, on her journey to complete the upcoming Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene triathlon, was because of who she is and not what she could necessarily offer to this blog. As a result, the blog-o-sphere gets to be privy to the ups, downs, and weekly (daily) grind of training. I'm truly grateful that she was willing to be a contributor, but even moreso for being able to call her a friend (you can all rip me later for the following chessy by-line).

So how many of us are headed to Idaho this summer? Katie's Karavan?

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero...
Insanity. Borderline insanity. No chaffing, just insanity.

I'm just lucky I got my butt on the bike in the p.m. Almost didn't....walked in, set my stuff down, and almost put my pj's on. Somehow, someway, I pulled on the lovely and ever so tight spandex and mounted my trusty steed.

Although I didn't get anywhere, I spun the pedals for 3 hours. And now I sit here at 11:30 pm eating some cantaloupe.

I must admit, I do look forward to nights and weekends where I'm not having to think and plan about the next workout and how to fit it all in. I can't fathom how someone who is married with children and a full time job could ever complete these training hours. Dad, You are my hero. And not once, not once, did you ever complain. You are what keeps me going dad. You are what gets me on that damn bike.

I will continue to eat now so I am completely stuffed when I climb into bed. Hmmmmm, let's see....anything good on ebay.....

Katie

On Tap...

Tour de Granny-fornia
Though the weather in the Midwest has turned somewhat balmy, Oude Granny is nonetheless headed to the left coast. I'll be in the Bay Area for business. While I'm out there, I will attempt to tackle some of the climbs used during the Amgen Tour of California, in and around beautiful Santa Rosa. Since it'll be my first riding on an incline this year, I'm already looking forward to the bounties of good wine to numb the senses and take away some of the pain.

The Lounge
If you somehow can't get out to ride this weekend, then here's another review from the ROLL Film database. This week's offering is the documentary about the great Eddy Merckx, La Course en Tete.

What Borzo (the "bike guy") says:
"The beauty of this unusual film, however, is not the celebration of handsome Eddy's many victories. Rather, it is the depiction of European bicycle racing before the likes of Lance Armstrong modernized the Tour by transforming the riding into a science and the event into a commercial enterprise..."

What Strauss (the "movie guy") says:
"One of the most effective moments in La Course en TĂȘte comes as we see a rider break down in tears after losing a race. Because this is a documentary, the moment is raw and honest..." For more...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Almost Famous - Updated Katie's Korner

Gotta love the enthusiasm, as Katie has now fully embraced the techno-geek inside of her and seems to be an electronic updating fool. Has the global internet environment of the blog-o-sphere gone to her straw strewn head? Way to go Katie is RIGHT!!

I Could While Away the Hours...
Wow, way to go Katie. The motivation to get up and ride 3 hours...not so much there today. Awesome! So what does that mean??? I get to go home tonight and ride for 3 hours. Hey, at least there is good TV on Thursday night. I did go for a run this morning so I got my legs moving. All I know, is when I get off work...All I want to do is EAT! I brought food to eat in the car on the way home....I AM A LOSER!

As for my hair....can anyone say STRAW. Thanks to my good friend Jon...I will soon have UltraSwim to try to de-chlorinate this nasty mess. Basically, I can shape it anyway I like and it stays that way....like straw. Oh yes, it is sexy. BLAHHHHH

Thanks for all the tips on taking care of chaffing 101. I'll let you know how it goes tonight. I guess my hopes to be a butt model are out!

Random tidbit: I really like Iced Coffee. I really really like Iced Coffee that I blend in the blender.

Katie

Whattya Got Against Straw?

Katie's Korner

Chaffed Up
12 weeks left...

Ahhhh yes, nothing like some good butt chaffing after a nice long bike ride!! Dang it anyways. Got some new bike shorts (which aren't cheap for those of you not in the cycling trade). Finally got to go outside and it felt great. I was all excited and went on a great ride with Erin on Saturday. Until about mile 30 when I could feel the skin begin to erode. Sure enough, I now have scars where the padding was on the shorts. Guess I can't return them either!

Other than that, still doing well. Did the 20 mile run on Sunday which felt good...but long. Now it is all taper until Boston.

Swims have been going well although, I am lapped quite often by those swimming in lanes next to me. I just don't get it. I must say, I tried that electrolyte drink...and it tastes like crappola. Maybe I will try adding some extract to that.

Carla or Len, do you think I need a new back tire, especially after having been on the trainer for a few long rides?

Okay, that's all for now,
Night

Balm...
Who told you to put on the balm?

What our IronGirl in training is currently experiencing is known as saddle soreness. And for a lot of cyclists, its not that uncommon. However, contrary to popular belief, saddle soreness is caused by friction, not by pressure. Since Katie has been training on the bike for several weeks now and did not experience any chaffing previously, its likewise just as easy to assume that her new bike shorts are responsible, but it may be a combination of things.

Other factors that contribute to saddle soreness or crotch pain could be the saddle, adjustment to a different saddle position, and shorts with insufficient padding, or center seams that irritate that part of the anatomy. If you remember from the last Katie's Korner, she just had her bike re-fitted and adjusted.

So what's the solution? Well, while Katie adjust to her new saddle postion, she should probably use a balm (with all due respect to Cosmo Kramer's attorney, Jackie Chiles). A nice "liberal" application of anti-chafing ointment or “butt balm” to the groin area should help. There are several brands out there, and most can be found at your local bike shop. As an application (and clean up afterwards) can be messy, and since a wet lubricant, such as a balm, can be a breeding ground for germs and possibly cause further infection to the area, women should not use petroleum-based products. For longer rides, Oude Granny suggest that you carry a small tube along in your saddle pack should re-applicaton prove necessary.

Wet v. Dry
This really comes down to personal preference. Most riders opt for a wet lubricant, while other riders choose dry (and less expensive) lubricants such as talc, baby powder, and corn starch. The two most popular wet lubricants, salves, are Chamois Butt'r (yes, there is a pun intended) and Bag Balm (and no guys, there isn't one intended here). Bag Balm, a Vermont original, was created to soften cow udders. For most competitors in RAAM (the annual Race Across America) Bag Balm has proven to be the common choice. Another reason most choose a balm rather than a powder is that they often contain other ingredients such as moisturizers, and healing ingredients such as Vitamin E.

Tires Gone Simple
In a previous Grab Bag feature, I reviewed an alternative to using your actual racing tires on an indoor trainer. Conti's (Continental Tires) UltraSport Hometrainer tire "doesn´t experience the heat buildup of your typical road tire, nor does it suffer the tread separation that the road tire is prone to under the special loads occurring when in cycling and braking on indoor trainer or rollers." But since Katie has been using the same tires for both, getting a new back wheel really depends on the length of time the tire has been on and the amount of wear and tear. Most riders will look to put on a new set of tires every new (racing) season, as even the deflation and dry conditions of winter storage can cause cracking to the tire's rubber.

Without knowing the age of Katie's tires or seeing the wear and tear on them, its hard to say for certain if a new tire is needed. But, with the limited information she's provided, it doesn't sound as if she'll need a new back tire at all, as a couple of long indoor training sessions should not have caused significant damage.

So what should Katie do? I'm a big proponent of William of Ockham, and of Henry David Thoreau for that matter. To paraphrase his principle, Ockham's Razor, when faced with two solutions, the simplest is often the correct choice (and in Thoreau's case, "simplify, simplify..."). The solution: rotate the tires. Unless Katie was on rollers (free standing trainer), where both of her tires might (key word here, as your weight in combination with a rear drivetrain, the back tire usually experiences heavier loads than the front) have gotten equal wear and tear, moving the front tire back, and vice versa, will solve her current worries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fixing for Palma

Track cycling's best will be in attendance on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week as the World Championships take place in the brand new Palma Arena starting Thursday (March 29th to April 1st).

Construction of the 5185 seat (capacity can be expanded for other events) arena, seemed to follow the recent trend of constructing large scale sporting venues in Europe, as it took a flurry of activity to have it complete in a timely fashion (remember the Olympics in Athens?). With 500 men working simultaneously and 50 million Euros later (90% of the bill being picked up by the government), Palma was completed with just a little over a month to spare. Did I mention construction began in November of 2005.

The velodrome, however, has taken on the look of being one of track cycling's gems (notice all the natural lighting). You can follow the action through Fixed Gear Fever's Live Feed.



Wonder What 44 Degree Banking Looks Like?
Photo: Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

America's hope for medals will hinge on the legs of our women, lead by World Champion Sarah Hammer (Photo: Mitch Clinton).

Team USA
Women:
Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif.) - Individual Pursuit, Points Race
Neva Day (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) - Individual Pursuit
Becky Quinn (Quakertown, Pa.) - Scratch Race
Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash) - Sprint, Keirin

Men:
Michael Creed (Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Points Race
Brad Huff (Fair Grove, Mo.) - Points Race, Omnium

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

J'acuse

What goes around comes around.
When Ivan Basso came under suspicion in the Spanish doping scandal, it seemed to me that his team, CSC, and director sportif Bjarne Riis were not very supportive and ultimately cast him aside. Maybe they know something we don't, but I wasn't particularly impressed.
Now, Riis is dismissing an allegation from a former team masseur that he used doping substances en route to his Tour de France title in 1996.
Riis said in a statement that he had never been close to Jef D'hont during his time at Team Telekom. Riis, who is Danish, won the '96 Tour for the German team and is now head of the CSC team.
"I have never had a particularly close relation with Jef D'hont and he has no validation for the allegations he is making," Riis said.
"There will always be someone out there trying to make money by talking about the past and in my opinion that is probably what he is trying to do here."
D'hont said in an interview with Belgium television on Sunday that Riis was under the influence of the forbidden blood doping substance EPO when he won the Tour in 1996. He said he could not produce evidence because he burnt that in 1998 during a police investigation against the Festina team, whose riders named him a key figure in supplying doping substances.
You have to wonder why this is all coming up now.
But then, you always have to wonder.
That's the problem with cycling.

Grand Tour of Mountain Biking?

It's been some time since I've been on the dirt. As such, I've not only been figuratively, but also literally, out of the loop. I have been following mountain bike racing but with only a passing fancy, so I was caught off guard when I read about the 4th edition (where have I been?) of the Cape Epic. (Photo: Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International)

The Cape Epic, held in South Africa, is an 8 day mountain bike stage race traversing over 880km and around 15,000 meters in elevation. Competitors compete in teams of two.

With the Cape Epic, La Ruta, the Trans Rockies, and the brand new Seven stage race, how long will it take for someone to connect the dots and have a Grand Tour of Mountain Bike Racing? Let's just hope that if it does happen, our breathren of the dirt don't face the headaches that are currently plaguing the Pro Tour.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Carlin on OBL

George Carlin played in Peroria over the weekend and had some choice comments about Our Boy Lance.
"(Expletive)
Lance Armstrong," said the 69-year-old comedian. "I'm just tired of being told who to admire in this country. ... I'll pick my own heroes, thanks."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cycling and Golf Don't Mix

Fore?
The Tour de France has forced the Ladies English Open to change its dates this summer because of what it fears would be an "organizational nightmare."
The Tour begins in London this year with the prologue, then takes Stage 1 out to the Kent countryside.
The golf tournament at Biddenden's Chart Hills Golf Club is scheduled for July 5-8, meaning the final day would have conflicted with the cyclists' ride in the country.
The British are expecting an estimated 1.5 million cycling fans -- me included -- to turn out for the stage, and roads in Kent will be closed as a result.
So the ladies have deferred. The will begin their event on Wednesday and finish up on Saturday. That will limit their battle to newshole in the sporting pages.

Bikes On The Side

1: The back cog drives the back wheel chain, which unlike on a normal bike can turn either way when the back handlebar is steered.
2:Back handlebar which steers the back wheel and has a rear light.
3:Front handlebar which steers the front wheel and has a light and rear-view mirror.
4:Pedals are at right angles to the wheels.
5:The seat is shaped like an upside-down crescent.
6:This frame goes over the lap of the cyclist, but can go under if preferred.

Seems to me that just pointing the front wheel straight ahead is the best way to ride a bicycle, but some people have other ideas. But now, here's the Sideways Bike, the bright idea of Michael Killian, a 46-year-old Dubliner and software engineer, who invented the thing. How does it work? The cyclist sits sideways (naturally and operates a wheel with each hand; pedalling makes the bike travel sideways.
Got that?
"You're moving sideways and operating on a different balance system in your head," Killian explains. "It's a front-to-back balance, not a left-to-right like a normal bike. That affords you tremendous grace and motion. It's dance-like. The advantages are in the motion. It's never going to win you the Tour de France. But it's mesmerising and entertaining."

Refund...

If the Unibet.com situation wasn't already a mess, let's just say that it has officially fallen off the ugly tree and has hit every branch on the way down. The most recent news has the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), organizers of the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix among others, denying the team entry into Paris-Roubaix.

Even though the team had taken steps to comply with a squirrely French law that does not allow teams to advertise or be sponsored by gambling sites, by deciding to ride under one of their lesser sponsors, Canyon bikes, they still weren't chosen.

Let's face it, Unibet has become a bigger pawn than Alex Karras' Mongo in Blazing Saddles. At this point, it would only be appropriate for the UCI to give back this Pro Tour team's membership fees (around 32 million Euros). Although Unibet certainly has the talent to compete with the elite of cycling, it doesn't even have the stature of a Continental team in the eyes of the three Grand Tour organizers.

The "Real" Power Brokers of Pro Cycling?
Photo: AFP

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Katie's Korner

Well, this marks the second entry from our IronGirl in training, Katie. Later, Oude Granny will take an in-depth look at the bike issues that Katie mentions below.

Floppy Hair
THIRTEEN WEEKS LEFT!

Hey Carla! Thanks for being so patient with me. This week was actually pretty good. I was able to ride pretty comfortably at 130. 140 was pushing it and kept that pace for about 20 mins. The total ride was only about 70 mins due to getting back to work, but think I could have kept the 140 pace for the whole 30 mins....not sure how much more.

Swims felt great....best yet. However, my swim cap broke so that was a hassle! My hair was flopping all over so I went to my bag to see if I had ANYTHING I could use to tie my hair back. Much to my dismay, I had a single bobby pin...which did nothing. So I ended up using my rubber band to make a buddah like pony tail for my bangs and let the rest of my hair float free. I must have looked like a nut job!!

Then...my goggles decided to leak! Instead of stopping to tighten (as I was pretending this was the race..heee), I just decided to open my eyes when looking down and close my eyes when I took a breath. That is because, when I turned my head...the water sloshed into my eyes! Oh brother!!! hehehe.

As for my run...will wear my monitor this weekend. Hope to get a better read this weekend. Going to try and ride outside tomorrow with a friend. Hope its not too wet.

Sounds good to meet up the weekend after next for the swim! I'm pretty free that weekend.

Got my bike all fixed up and re-measured. Basically, the guy (Chris, I think) and The Bike Shop, said my bike was way too big for my stature but he would do what he could do!

A few measurements, a couple bike part removals, and $200 later...my bike was ready to go. It is amazing how much better it feels now though. I was really overextending my back and need to focus on trying to anteriorly pelvic tilt more. Hopefully this will help me stay in my tri bars more.

Next week's schedule looks good so far. I will look at it more closely on Sunday and be in touch!

Happy Weekend!!!
Katie

Fitting and Physique
Strangely enough, I was recently asked for some advice, by another Katie (from Michigan) on buying a triathlon bike. She is also planning to jump into the world of Ironman racing, but is biding her time until next season, 2008. Here we go again, right?

Anyway, before I even jumped into the world of tubes, material, components, etc. I made sure to suggest that she go for a proper fitting. Now if you're new to the world of cycling, and I know some of our readers are, this point can't be emphasized enough.

Fitting...measurements, why bother? For starters, a proper fitting doesn't simply mean making sure that your bits and pieces (protect those onions) have enough clearance from the top tube, like when we were fitted for our childhood bicycles. A proper fitting can help you avoid those acute pains, as well as the chronic ones which usually manifest themselves in knee, lower back, and neck pain. And like any activity you do, you're more likely to enjoy it if there isn't pain involved (unless you're a masochist, then disregard all the above).

So what does a fitting involve? A good fitting actually takes a bit of time, as a dedicated shop person will take several measurements, more than even your best dress or suit maker. A lot of these measurements are done with some interesting measuring devices, with some shops having fully computerized modules. Click here for a perfect example. With the detail involved in a bike fitting, most shops may charge you a fee for this service, which will often be waived if you purchase your steed from that shop. So make sure you ask beforehand.

Now in Katie's lastest update, she mentions that she felt "overextended" on her bike. There are a couple of possible reasons for that feeling. One is the lack of a proper fitting, and therefore, a bike that is too large for her physical frame. Another may be a result of converting a road bike into a triathlon bike with some clip-on aero bars. Your standard road bike has a "more relaxed" seat tube angle (that's the central and mostly vertical tube of your bike frame). With a triathlon, time trial specific bike, the seat tube is usually at a more aggressive angle (anywhere from 75 to 78 degrees). This angle not only helps to close down the distance between your aero bars and your seat (your aero position), but it also helps the triathlete preserve some of the leg muscles which they will use later on the run.

But there is also one more (often overlooked) reason, and one which more bicycle companies are addressing, for Katie's overextension, physique. More specifically gender differences in the size of the torso (upper body). A lot of women are described as being "all legs" for a reason, as they often have a shorter torso. Most companies have realized this subtle difference and have created Women Specific Designed (WSD) bikes with shorter top tubes.

So what can Katie do to obtain a better fit without having to buy a new bike altogether? I'd suggest a new seat tube, if it hasn't already been taken care of, to help her move forward on the bike, like this one from Profile Design (Fast Forward Seat Post - $70).

Friday, March 23, 2007

On Tap...

La Classicissima
The Northern part of the continent has The Ronde, Roubaix and the Ardennes classics, but for the one-day hardmen it all starts in the boot, Italy, with Milan-San Remo (or Milano-San Remo, depending on how pretentious you want to be). Although MSR lacks the romanticism of the Northern Spring Classics, it definitely has some distinctive features which makes it a true classic, la classicissima.

Of the five cycling classic monuments (Flanders, Roubaix, L-B-L, and Lombardy), MSR is the longest. It is a grueling day in the saddle covering just under 300 kilometers. Like Ghent-Wevelgem, the race usually comes down to the sprint. But the tantalizing run up to the finish line in San Remo is what makes this race special, as the strongest on the day are ususally selected on the Poggio and Cipressa climbs.

But even if a rider makes the selection, another aspect that makes MSR unique is the parked cars. Yuppers, you heard it right, parked cars. You would have thought that being one of the classic giants, the parcours would be devoid of such obstacles, but on more than one occasion in recent history, someone has run into a vehicle. Then again, clearing nearly 300 kms of road would be an excruciating exercise for any group of race organizers.

If you like watching paint dry then find a place to watch the entire race, otherwise be patient and wait for the final hours. Catch it on either Cycling.tv or on Versus.

Sofa-Setter
This weeks selection from the ROLL Film library is none other than Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

What Borzo (the "bike guy") said:
"Well, after sitting through 90 minutes of silly shenanigans, I can now say that the only reason for a bike fan to see this movie is to warn others not to waste their time."

What Strauss (the "film guy") said:
"Pee-wee loves his bike as much as any movie character has ever loved an inanimate object. For all the bicycle films we've reviewed, I believe this is the first bike to have such a distinct look that you could recognize it on the street."

Granny's Take:
C'mon how can you argue with a guy who only wants his bike back? Although maybe not as comical, I've certainly done some strange things for a bike.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Around the World on a Bicycle -- in 1884

Here's a nice piece of audio from NPR's Weekend Editon of Jan 20·

Thomas Stevens was the first person to ride a bicycle around the world. He left San Francisco in 1884 on a high-wheeler. Upon his return in 1887, he wrote a book: Around the World on a Bicycle. Thomas Pauly of the University of Delaware wrote the introduction to a reissue of that book and spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about Stevens' adventure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Race is On in Georgia

The 2007 Tour de Georgia may not have a major sponsor, but the April 16-22 seven-stage race will have some major names: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton

Hincapie, the USA Cycling pro road champ, ordinarily would be targeting the European spring classics. But having broken a wrist in the Tour of California, he switched his priorities and will use the Georgia race as the beginning of his Tour de France preparation.

Leipheimer, winner of February's Amgen Tour of California, last raced Georgia in 2005, finishing second.

For Hamilton, Georgia marks his return to top-level U.S. racing after a two-year doping suspension. He now rides for Tinkoff Credit System.

Fifteen teams have accepted invitations to race in the 667-mile event, including ProTour teams CSC, Discovery Channel, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Quick Step-Innergetic and Predictor-Lotto.

Johan's Happy

OK, so I'll write our 500th post since the Triple started cranking about one year ago.

How about that?!

Also celebrating:
With two victories in arguably the biggest stage races of the season to date -- the Tour of California and Paris-Nice -- the Discovery Channel team may actually find a new sponsor for 2008. Unfortunately, it won't be Triple Crankset.

Director Sportif Johan Bruyneel must be pleased with the post-OBL era. "We have new riders, new goals and new objectives and I could not be happier with the how the guys have performed so far. The Tour of California and Paris-Nice wins were a direct result of our guys riding as a team behind their leader," Bruyneel said of victories for Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador (picture by Graham Watson).

"Alberto pointing at the Discovery Channel on his jersey was his way of thanking his teammates and showing how happy he is on this team," Bruyneel said. "This was a tremendous win for our entire organization. Winning races can only help us as we look to solidify a new title sponsor for 2008."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Katie's Korner

I've been blessed by a great family, as well as having made some excellent friends throughout my life. So when the opportunity to dote on them presents itself, I'm more than willing. The newest feature on this blog is dedicated to my friend, a girl who really kicks ass (are you somewhere out there listening Vanderkitten, let's hook the girl up!), Katie.

What we, and more specifically Katie, intend to do is to chronicle (both in words and in pictures) her journey to complete her first Ironman triathlon, the Ford Coeur d'Alene Ironman in Idaho. For those who have short memories or aren't too familiar with an Ironman, it covers the following respective distances and disciplines, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Are you tired from just reading that? Oude Granny's body just got a little bit more creaky!

To date, Katie is already 10 weeks into a 23 week training schedule. A couple of weeks ago, she started working with a personal trainer, who her boss recommended (and hired!). So without further adieu, here's her latest update.

Stomach and Weather Rule All
Bachelorette party in STL this weekend.....awesome time! Yeah Spurlock....you sure know how to have a great party. Just make sure you leave those pinchers at home on wedding day!

In terms of my training....this weekend was sabotage. Let's just say, if you combine 2 ancient words of wisdom: "You are what you eat" and "you get what you ask for"....that sums up my stomach situation right now. I learned, coffee, alcohol and lack of sleep don't (or shouldn't) play a role in a triathlete's diet!

Needless to say, I had a great time...and still hit all my training landmarks.

I did a 12 mile run (at about 9 min mile pace) on a relatively hilly trail. Last week, I rode 3 1/2 hours on the trainer ( wanted to shoot myself in the face!) followed by a 30 min easy run. My legs felt great on the run...no probs there. I only missed one swim workout and one bike workout last week.

Carla, still haven't gotten my bike in as had errands to run, so plan to get it in this week. Need to talk about future plans for long rides as I will be out of town a lot. Can bring my bike but need to figure out which weekends will be long long rides. Also, I would love to talk to your friend. Any info could help. My stomach is a disaster right now....but the factors are pretty obvious!

This coming week should be tricky but do-able (is that a word???). Brandon is coming in town as he is on spring break. Wanted to switch a few things around to spend as much time with him as possible. definitely can do the 3 hours/45 min run on Saturday but will have to get up at 4am on Tuesday to do the other 3 hour bike.

The long run will be planned for Sunday. Plan to bring the bike in on Thursday.

Will really try to make an electrolyte drink.

Doing OK with HR targets....although still need to work on them on the run. My monitor seems to be all over the place in terms of readings. It is a cheap monitor so that could explain why.

Sometimes I think, if someone was watching me through a window they would think I was crazy. Last week I watched "The Holiday" (Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet) while riding. So there I am, on the bike.....crying like a baby!! hahaha...what a tool!

As for now, off to bed.

Carla: No, I don't eat much on the run. I will try to do so this week. last week, I ate a fruit trekker bar and one fruit leather during the 3 1/2 hour run. I had a 1/2 banana with real Peanut butter before starting the ride. I actually felt pretty good. Probably could have eaten another 1/2 of a bar. Plan to order those salt tabs this week/next week.

When will this weather be ready for outdoors!!

Night all,
Katie

For family and friends who would like to create an RSS feed to follow Katie's progress, please contact me by clicking on my profile, Granny's 30, and sending me an email, and I'll help you out.

Lance's Tastes

TheMediaZone.com continues to have fun at Our Boy Lance's expense.
The seven-time Tour de France champ was married for five years to Kristin Richard (upper left), had a serious relationship with rocker Sheryl Crow (upper right), and has recently been spotted hanging out with fashion designer Tory Burch (lower left), who all just happen to bear a striking resemblence to each other -- and to (and let me quote TMZ) "another highlighted hetero. If Kristin, Sheryl and Tory bulked up, laid in the sun for two weeks, went on a year-long bender and shaved every smidgen of body hair, they'd be a dead ringer for Armstrong's workout buddy, the shirtless wonder himself, Matthew McConaughey (lower right)!"

Sunday, March 18, 2007

From Pucks to Bikes

Having just returned from Detroit, where I watched and reported on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship at Joe Louis Arena, I'm only just getting back to the cycling world.

(And first off, apologies to Granny, who I was supposed to call and didn't to see if he was attendance at the games. That's what I get for not returning to my college hockey roots for 12 years: Too many old friends and old times to catch up on.) I reported on college hockey for almost 30 years during my sports writing days at Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Michigan State, so given ND and MSU's participation in this year's tournament (won by the No. 1 Irish for the first time), it was a great opportunity to see if you really can go home again.

You can.

Getting back to cycling, I see that the Discovery Channel team is building on its Tour of California success with three stage victories by Yaroslav Popovych and ultimate winner Alberto Contador (two stages, including Sunday's finale in stirring fashion) in Paris-Nice. Not Levi. Not George. Not even Ivan, who, like George, was injured in a fall, as did Paolo Bettini (just you don't think Discovery Channel riders are the only ones falling off their bikes).

A scheduling note: In case you missed Sunday's Paris-Nice final stage on Versus, it appears that the network is repeating its weekly Cyclysm telecast on Wednesday afternoons at 3 p.m. ET. I've already set my DVR.

Contador in Full Flight

If you're waiting for the Versus Paris-Nice wrap-up on Cyclysm Sunday, then read no further.

I wasn't attempting to be prophetic when I wrote about Alberto Contador's excellent early season form a couple of days ago, but he certainly confirmed it today. Being only 6 seconds down on the GC to Davide Rebellin, Contador attacked full out on the final climb of the day and made the finale into a man-on-man ITT down the promenade in Nice.

What makes this Discovery Channel victory even more meaningful (and improbable) is the backlash Johan Bruyneel and the team have taken as a result of their hiring of Ivan Basso. Most of the riders in the peloton have been reluctant, if not down right truculent in their assistance of any Discovery team rider or Discovery team tactics.

With Contador's win, Discovery has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet. Once again, they have built up the strongest team, and may also have the strongest group of Grand Tour GC riders.

Photo: AFP

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Scripted

I couldn't have penned it better. There I was writing about Alberto Contador and Luis Leon Sanchez in the weekly "On Tap..." post, and one, Contador, makes today's race, while the other powers home and wins the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice, Sanchez (Photo: Graham Watson).

On the other end of the spectrum was the usual script of abandoment followed by most of the sprinters and Classics hardmen, who will be salivating over other titles in the next few weeks. But honestly, just admit to it.

Daniele Bennati's reason for abandoment...nose bleed.

Do you think he'd pull to the curb and wait for his team car for the same reason if this were Milan-San Remo? Let's hope not otherwise, his first name may take on a whole new pronunciation!

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Tap...

With all the madness, March Madness, occurring around me its easy to forget that Paris-Nice concludes this weekend. The Race to the Sun has always been used to officially kick off the cycling season, and with good reason. Although there are plenty of races on the calendar that precede it, the parcours are indicative of the cycling season's reawakening. From the cold and dreary Winter like conditions of Paris, the riders are ushered into Spring by the milder temperatures and sun drenched beaches of Nice. If you aren't as lucky to watch it live or through Cycling.tv, the recap of the race and its final stage can be seen on Versus.

Flight of the Contador

The surprise of P-N, and the early season, has been the form of Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador. Once a part of the powerful Liberty Seguros cycling team, and the other half of a young and exciting pair of Spanish riders, the other half being former teammate Luis Leon Sanchez, Contador seems to be one of Discovery's men for the future. It will definitely be interesting to see how the rise of Contador affects the development of Tom Danielson as a GC rider. Danielson, who isn't up to form this early in the season, has essentially buried himself for Contador's and Leipheimer's chances in this race. He can however, be buttressed by the fact that he has already been selected to take part of Discovery's Tour de France team.

Boob Tube
For those of you who haven't been infected by cabin fever and decide that it's still too cold to ride outside this weekend, Oude Granny suggest the movie American Flyers. A full review by ROLL Film can be found here.

Borzo Says:
"Tesich's love and knowledge of bicycle racing is embodied in the movie's two main characters, who are over-the-top bicycle aficionados: Marcus (Kevin Costner), a type-A sports doctor with professional racing credentials; and his underachieving younger brother, David (David Marshall Grant), a drifter who likes to bike. They dither between fraternal rivalry and brotherly love as they train for and then ride in the "Hell of the West."

Strauss Says:
" The only thing preventing
American Flyers from becoming a total disaster is the dedicated effort of the cast to make an actual movie out of this jumble."

Granny's Take:
Although I would best describe this film as campy, several things leap out at me. For those too young to remember, the race in the movie provides you a glimpse of what was once the Red Zinger/Coors Classic. It also shows some beautiful scenery of the Colorado Monument in Grand Junction, CO. In addition, although her acting skills aren't as polished as when she would later run around with David Hasselhoff on Baywatch, Alexandra Paul (Stephanie Holden on Baywatch) certainly holds her own in this film. Plus her presence seems to make the premise of the film somewhat more credible (even though she plays the love interest and not the athlete), as she ended up being quite the triathlete, completing Ironman Hawaii in the late 90's.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shop-Boy

In the past couple of months, Oude Granny has turned into quite the mobile blogging fool, a real roving reporter of the blog-o-sphere. So where am I blogging (reporting) from today?

Calvin College. In beautifully, cloudy, Grand Rapids, MI.

Ah, who picked this assignment???

Well, I'm here for some real-life business, you know the job that actually pays the bills. As I was driving in from Ann Arbor, I couldn't help but reminisce about a past life, one in which I found a true love, Ada Bike Shop.

So when I got close to my exit off of I-96, 28th St SE, where I needed to be, it didn't take much of the turn of the wheel, the steering kind, in the opposite direction to get to where I wanted to be, on Thornapple River Dr. headed up to Ada. I genuinely got "bike geeked out," knowing that I was just a few miles from one of my favorite bike shops.

So what you may ask is so special about this shop in particular? Well, I've kind of made it a habit to go into a bike shop in almost every town I've ever visited, even when I was in Sorrento, Italy on vacation, and of all those shops Ada Bike Shop (at least after a lot of the recent renovations) resembles the kind of shop I wouldn't mind opening one day.

Their motto, "making the best bikes better," is just part of Jim Ippel's philosophy of treating the customer as he would want to be treated. It's amazing how that little personal touch can make all the difference. So whether you want to go in and hang out in the lounge area to just talk "shop," bikes in this case, or feel confident that your bike will get fixed to your liking by one of the wrenches (yes, that's correct you Neanderthal, sexist cyclist, that's a female wrench back there putting your bike together, Rachel Ippel) its worth the trip to this small town just east of Grand Rapids.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ain't That a Peach

In what may go down as one of few cycling grassroots (and I use that term facetiously) efforts, the Tour of Georgia Board of Directors (Georgia Partnership of Economic Development), has decided to run this year's race despite their inability to secure a main sponsor. Normally, a race that still lacked significant financial backing, a reported million dollars, weeks and even days before its start would be canceled. But apparently, the American cycling community has spoken (without any real protest, or even a sit down). In one muted voice of spandexed solidarity, we've managed to convince the State of Georgia, or at least their tourism board, that our interest hasn't waned since Lance left, and that we may still possibly be growing as a fan base.

In the end, history will bare out the facts, and we only have to wait until next year when the Tour de Georgia may be just that, history.

Tour of Georgia Schedule:
Stage 1: Monday, April 16 - Peachtree City to Macon
Stage 2: Tuesday, April 17 - Thomaston to Rome
Stage 3: Wednesday, April 18 - Rome to Chattanooga, Tennessee
Stage 4: Thursday, April 19 - Chickamauga/Walker County to Lookout Mountain (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 5: Friday, April 20 - Dalton to Brasstown Bald Mountain/Towns County
Stage 6: Saturday, April 21 - Lake Lanier Islands/Hall County to Stone Mountain Park/Dekalb Country
Stage 7: Sunday, April 22 - Atlanta (circuit race)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Time to Heal?

"What is it in us that seeks the truth?
Is it our minds or is it our hearts?"

- Jake Brigance - A Time to Kill

From my "On Tap" post (a new weekly blog occurence, providing some sort of guide to the weekend), I was in attendance for the March 10th Floyd Fairness Fund fundraiser in Wilmette, IL. (Incidentally, if your directions to Central Ave. involve going north on Green Bay Rd., please be advised that Evanston has a Central St. just a couple of blocks south of Central Ave. in Wilmette). The event was held at the Wilmette Theatre (see inset), a historic theatre with two 200 seat screening rooms, which didn't really strike me as unusual until my friend with whom I share some interesting Chicago coincidentals, Betsy, asked "why's a fundraiser being held at a movie theatre?"

Although I had gone to the Floyd Fairness Fund website numerous times and downloaded Dr. Arnie Baker's presentation and other materials, the barnstorming nature of these fundraisers went completely unnoticed. It wasn't until later, while perusing the internet, that I found out that these events have been held in all sorts of venues, like bars and restaurants, and bike shops (as T-o-03 mentions below), all over the country. When I finally entered the room and saw Dr. Baker's Powerpoint presentation cued up for viewing, it only made sense to hold the fundraiser in a theatre.

There were approximately 140-160 people in attendance. During a question and answer period of the scheduled 3 hour event, I found out that some notables of the blog-o-sphere were present. One such gentleman was James, Steroid Nation, who not only has a complete breakdown of the event, but also has video of it. So rather than belabor a point, I'll pull a George Michaels here and suggest that we all "go to the video tape." (Another great recap of the event can be found on Rant Your Head Off)

Admittedly, I went to the event more as a fan rather than a skeptic. Most of the materials presented, I had already dissected and come to my own conclusions. But as I sat there drinking my Pride & Joy - Three Floyds' Mild Ale (yes, some of these fundraisers have alcohol present), the above quote from John Grisham's novel came to mind. What truth or what type of truth was I searching for that possessed me to drive four and a half hours from Ann Arbor, MI? Was I searching for more than simple validation, like the gentleman sitting next to me, who stood up and prompted his cycling hero to, "tell me that you haven't taken anything, and it'll be good enough for me...then I can look my kids in the face and tell them the same?"

What was my mind telling me and/or what was my heart telling me?

The Mind
For those of you who don't know me, I'm a person that can analyze to the point of paralysis. I like to look at things from a variety of viewpoints. Does that mean that I'm always right? All it says is that if you're so inclined to ask for my opinion, you'll usually receive something back that's been really well thought out. So what does my mind tell me about Floyd's case? From what I've read from the disclosed documents of the case and his Wiki Defense, there is more empirical data suggesting his innocence than there is to the contrary.

But, having spoken to relatives and friends in the legal profession, its also become readily apparent that these tribunal type arbitration hearings aren't in the same vicinity of anything that we, the non-legal types, know of jurisprudence. If those adjudicating his case aren't open to his defense, then it won't make a bit of difference come May 14th (when Landis' public hearing is scheduled).

The Heart
I met Floyd once before, last year in Chicago, while he was helping Robbie Ventura open up a north of downtown location of VisionQuest Coaching services. I don't claim to have any extraordinary insight into the man other than what I've read about him, and from these appearances and the meet-and-greet afterwards. So what makes me believe that Floyd Landis' circumstances, and for that matter, Floyd, are any different from those cyclists accused of doping in the past?

Floyd, in his demeanor, in his words, and in his actions seems genuine, from the heart. He has been unwavering in his denial and has been forthcoming and transparent in his defense strategy, "I've got nothing to hide." It also doesn't hurt that his foil in this matter, WADA Director, Dick Pound, seems more interested in the prosecution than in the truth.

So what is it in you that seeks the truth...your mind or your heart? In this case, both seem to point to the same thing.

Perhaps after the dropping of the Operacion Puerto case and the Landis hearing, cycling may finally get a chance to heal.

Other tidbits from the fundraiser:
- The May 14th hearing is public, so those of you in the area can attend.

- Contrary to popular, and somewhat legendary, belief, Floyd did not talk with Eddy Merckx to strategize the night before the famous Stage 17 (although he did talk to him several times during the Tour).

- Floyd has spoken to former teammates, like LA and Tyler, who offered their assistance, but he hasn't taken them up on their offer.

- He seems healthy after his hip surgery; no limping. He is still training, but doesn't expect to race at all this year.

- Dr. Baker's online presentation is only a small tidbit of information being used for Floyd's defense. Baker suggested that there is a lot more to be brought up.

- Is the Floyd Fairness Fund strategy working? Time and the hearings will bear that out, but as of today, a Google search of the same reveals 232,ooo results. It seems that some people are talking, writing, about it.

- Another great blog that has encapsulated all of the happenings on Floyd since his "positive" finding, is Trust But Verify (by sometime Triple Crankset visitor Dave Brower).




An Interview With Jonathan Vaughters

Having had the opportunity to ride with Jonathan Vaughters during the first week of the 2004 Tour de France in Belgium, I'm always interested to hear what he has to say about the sport. Alicia Hopkins of CyclingNews interviewed Vaughters, Team Slip Stream's Director Sportif, about the goals of Team Slip Stream both before the Tour of California and into the 2007 season.

Worth a read: International Herald Tribune's Samuel Abt on Cycling: Spanish doping investigation crumbles

Millar: I'm a Spokesman

I suppose that if you've admitted to doping, taken your two-year ban like a man, then returned to the pro tour with some success, you get to be a spokesman against the practice.
At least David Millar thinks so.
"Last Thursday and Friday, I was in London for a conference about drugs," said Millar (photo by Graham Watson), who won the prologue to the Paris-Nice race on Sunday. "I feel that I have a new responsibility in the fight against drugs. I want to be a voice in the clean up of the sport for the coming generations. I can't forget the mistakes from the past. I want to be an example every day now.
"The young riders must not believe that there is a need for injections of recovery products. It's useless."
Millar, who is British, has set several goals.
"I have set the year 2012 as the end of my career," he said. "In the five remaining years I want to become the world's best rider. I have come back a long way but I'm stronger than ever. Confidence will be the key for winning the prologue of the Tour de France in London."
I hope to be in London for the start of the 2007 Tour July 7 and in Kent the next day for the conclusion of Stage 1.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Merckx: Riders Aren't Criminals

Make sure you read the previous item before you read this one.
Belgian cycling great Eddy Merckx says riders should not be treated like criminals in the war against doping.
"Doping has to be fought, cheats must be unmasked, abuse should be punished but all this should remain human," Merckx told French sports daily L'Equipe.
The International Cycling Union unveiled an anti-doping program last week that will ask riders to contribute to the development of new tests and sign a document authorising DNA tests to help identify them when banned substances are found.
Merckx, who won the Tour de France five times between 1969 and 1974, said he would not have abided by the new anti-doping program.
"I would not have given my DNA," Merckx said. "It could be done in case of a contractual problem between the rider and his employer. Otherwise, you just debase the rider by asking him for his DNA.
"Riders are not criminals."
Riders aren't innocents, either.

Never Mind

News flash:
The judge leading the investigation into a cycling doping ring (Operation Puerto) has closed the case without making any charges after concluding that no offenses were committed under Spanish law.
How do you like them apples, Jan? Ivan?
In a ruling released on Monday, judge Antonio Serrano said that doping practices had occurred but that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for the offense of endangering public health.
Kinda reminds me of the Black Sox Scandal. They got off, too, but Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis tossed the scoundrels from baseball for life. Wanna bet that Judge Serrano is no Mountain Landis?
Doping itself was not punishable under Spanish law when the charges were brought in May last year and the judge said that the case was not subject to new legislation introduced in February designed to deal with people who supply and administer drugs in sport.
"This case took place because of a lack of fair play to say the least," Serrano said.
"Sport has become a branch of industry where it is judged by profitability and has lost much of its original function in transmitting moral values such as fair play."
How do you like them apples?!
The decision will be seen as a huge blow to the fight against doping in cycling and could open the way for the accused to seek compensation.

Bad Boy Floyd Time

Well, I was right about Bad Boy Floyd.
Steve Lipsher, who writes for the Denver Post, reports that our second-favorite cycling fundraiser was in a Denver suburban bike shop Sunday (while David Millar was winning the prologue to Paris-Nice) to pad his legal defense fund.
"I'm confident if I get a fair hearing, I'll be proven innocent," BBF said at a news conference before a town-hall meeting at Bicycle Village. Floyd has been making these pay-to-be-with-me appearances as part of the Floyd Fairness Foundation, which has raised more than $500,000 toward the $2 million that organizers believe will be required to clear his name.
Just to keep things noble, Landis also hopes to change the international drug-testing system, arguing that results should be completely confidential until an athlete has been granted due process.
"We can't go back and do something again. But I'd like to change the system so that until there's a final outcome, no one is convicted in the press," Landis said.
Wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and striped tie -- he must be dressing better these days -- Landis received a standing ovation from the group of about 125 people, for whom he answered questions.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Millar Time

The only problem I have with Cyclysm Sunday is not the Cyclysm but the Sunday. With an eight-day event like Paris-Nice, which began today, on Sunday, you have a prologue on Sunday and a rather meaningless final stage next Sunday. As the Mamas and Papas used to sing, what about "Monday, Monday"? Or Tuesday through Saturday? Or more highlights from THOSE days?
But lets be nice and get back to Paris ... and David Millar (photo by Graham Watson), 30, who won the prologue in the suburbs of Paris on Sunday Sunday. It was the former prologue specialist's first prologue victory in six years -- including the two he was banned for doping. Millar had won the 14th stage of last year's Spanish Vuelta, a 48-km time trial. But this victory over 4.7kms in Issy-les-Moulineaux was really a new start.
"Last year was very hard after two years without racing. It was tough mentally and physically. But this prologue was my first objective of the season. I'm very impressed with myself," said Millar, who rides for Spanish team Saunier Duval.
Monday's 186-km first stage takes the 160 riders from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir to Buzancais.
Paris-Nice, celebrating its 65th edition, was nearly cancelled because of a row between its organizers and the International Cycling Union over marketing rights last week.
But what cycling be without a little controversy.
Last year's winner, Bad Boy Floyd Landis, probably watched the race from a fundraiser somewhere.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Too Funny...Not to Post

Photo: CyclingWorld.dk

Come up with your best caption, and we'll post it.

In the clubhouse so far:

"When you said long hours in the saddle would cause shrinkage, I was thinking of...oh never mind."

"Leaders jersey for the Tour de Mini-Me"

"Early favorites to wear the Tour of Denmark leaders jersey, Frank Schleck and Michael Rasmussen."

On Tap...

So the race calendar says that Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun, is starting this weekend. The race marks the official start of the 2007 edition of the ProTour. Elsewhere, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Trust House Womens' Tour of New Zealand both come to a conclusion on Sunday.

But since my preference is toward the Classics, I've still got a little time before the giants like The Ronde and Roubaix kick off. So what's Granny gonna do in the interim? Well I'll definitely pay some attention to P-N, but I'm also gonna check out the Floyd Fairness Fund fundraiser in Wilmette, IL. Maybe I'll see some of you there (If you have any questions you want me to ask, drop me a line).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Going With The Gut

I have to say that after the kudos T-o-03 heaped on Oude Granny the day before, I was acutally at a loss for some material. Then I ran across this from Chris Selden at Pezcylingnews.com. Mind you, its only a snippet of the Euro Trash Thursday column regarding the Unibet.com mess (please click on the link provided as he does make some good points about this issue), but the last line in this excerpt invoked a guttural reaction. Search over, mind going...

"The ASO don’t seem to like Unibet because they are promoting an illegal business in France (gambling) – but is that really the issue? What about when they were known as MrBookmaker.com a couple of years ago? I saw that team race in France with my own eyes and not a word was spoken, despite the fact that their sponsor was a gambling organization. So what’s changed? Not much as far as I can tell, besides the fact that the Grand Tour Organizers were sick of the UCI telling them what to do and when. To this I can sympathise with the organizers – why shouldn’t they be able to invite who they want to their races?"

Whether the creation of the ProTour has actually succeeded is all its facets is another matter all together, and one which I won't discuss here because of it dauntingness. But one of the reasons for its inception was to insure that the best competition was at the grandest races. Listen, I'm all for nationalistic pride, but when you begin to exclude teams that have earned the right (by being competitive and winning races throughout the season) to participate in a race, then I think that race (and its fans) lose something greater. Take for instance the insistence of the Tour de France (the Grand Boucle!), pre-ProTour, to take as many French teams possible while excluding many of the top teams. Huh? What? When did that happen? How dare they?

Oude Granny doesn't even have to step into his Wayback Machine to show you why letting organizers invite who they want to their races isn't exactly the best things. Let's go back to the selection of the Tour de France teams in 2001. That year, Jean Marie LeBlanc actually made room for an extra 21st team, but choosing 5 wild card teams. So who did they choose?

Of the 5 chosen, they picked 2 French teams. Well Granny, that doesn't sound like squat!!

Let me break it down a bit. Of the 21 teams invited to the Tour that year, 8 were French teams, 5 of which were Division 2 teams. And of those 5 Division 2 teams, 2 were the wild card selections. Does that sound like a very competitive field??? And how do you select any Division 2 team over a more qualified Division 1 team?

Some of the more qualified teams left out that year were Mercury-Viatel and Team Coast. Mercury-Viatel could have been the second American based team to compete in the Tour, alongside Lance Armstrong's powerful US Postal squad. Instead, Mercury-Viatel, even with all the support Greg Lemond provided, went bankrupt after that season. Perhaps, if they were allowed to participate in that Tour, their sponsors would have bought into cycling and a young man living in San Diego at the time, Floyd Landis, would have ridden his first Tour.

As far as Team Coast, their exclusion meant that a two-time Vuelta winner and World Champion in Alex Zulle wasn't allowed to compete. Now flash forward 2 years from that somber moment, to a happier one, when Team Coast was finally allowed in to the Tour. How did they end up doing after being excluded year after year? Well, Team Coast actually went the way of Mercury-Viatel midseason, pulling their sponsorship. But the team stayed together and kept their Tour spot and re-emerged as Team Bianchi. The same Team Bianchi, with Jan Ullrich. And we all know what an exciting and memorable Tour that ended up being! It was the most competitive in ages, hands down.

Could you imagine what the 2001 Tour would have been like, if teams like Saeco (with Mario Cipollini), Mercury-Viatel, Coast, or Mercatone Uno (with Il Pirata) were chosen instead of Big Mat, Bonjour, Jean Delatour, or Ag2R-Prevoyance (all Division 2 French teams)?

But wait, its their race and they should be able to invite who they want.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Praise for Granny

The London Guardian's Kevin Anderson talks to Tour '03's Online Journalism class at George Mason University.

That's quite a job Oude Granny has done maintaining this blog with some outstanding posts these past several weeks. When Tooth, Granny and I started this blog almost a year and 500 posts ago, I knew this format was made for Granny. He's got the right touch (just like he does on the bike!), and I don't know many so-called experts who demonstrate greater insight about this sport we all love and sometimes hate.
After writing a good number of these posts over the first 10 months or so, I needed a break. The trick to writing a blog (and my good friend, Kevin Anderson, the blogging editor of the London Guardian, just talked about all that to my George Mason Online Journalism class yesterday during a visit to the States) is to combine equal parts passion, knowledge and time. My passion has taken a hit since the summer; my knowledge certainly doesn't compare to Granny's; and a certain lack of time due to my responsibilities at school combined with a computer crash a couple weeks ago all combined and conspired to quiet me down.
But with Spring Break fast approaching and no plans of note, I hope to regain my enthusiasm for the sport through the blog as we head into the Spring Classics.
As I have in the past, here's an article -- a blog entry, in fact -- that updates the ongoing saga of Bad Boy Floyd Landis about as well as anything I've read. It's from Carlton Reid's Bike Biz blog and includes part of a web chat with the LATimes' outstanding investigative reporter, Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist. In the chat, Hiltzik explains BBF's wikipedia defense, in which Landis posts his documents and his defense online.
Says Hiltzik: "I think it is, in its way, brilliant. One of the main problems athletes have had in defending themselves in anti-doping cases is the dearth of independent experts. That's because the most experienced doping scientists tend to be employed by WADA labs, and under WADA rules they can't work for an athlete's defense. The wikipedia defense in effect drafts thousands of qualified experts in cyberspace to revew the case, and I have no doubt that Landis's defense has profited from the analysis done online."
After reading the item, I can see Landis winning his case because he's making a strong case that the testing process is shoddy. The real question, even if the charges are ultimately dropped, will be whether the public buys it. Sadly, BBF is probably forever tainted. But then, so is Our Boy Lance, who has never been found guilty of anything except bad judgment in dropping women.
Cycling does like to eat its heroes ...
Finally, I don't know that I ever said a proper goodbye to cycling's endlessly tragic hero, Jan Ullrich, the Red Klotz (from the Washington Generals) of the sport. Every sport needs its foils, and Jan served OBL well in that regard. Lest we forget, Jan did win the Tour. Once. And that was his great sin, as OBL endlessly told us, setting up Jan for repeated failure during Lance's run of seven Tour de France victories.
And OBL was all the greater for all Jan's failures.

Banner Day...

There's an inside joke in that headline, somewhere. But, Oude Granny thought it would be fun to create some web banners for those of you out there who are fans or readers of this blog and want to share it with others on your own website, blog, or myspace site. The TC has three options. Simply click on Granny's Profile and send an email to request the HTML code for a specific banner. Once you get the code, just paste it into your template, wherever you deem appropriate.

Option 1




Option 2





Option 3





Links Update

On the right navigation bar of the TC blog, you'll find some new and updated links (some were deleted, dead links, so if your favorite was one that is now gone, please find a new link and email it to me and I'll be glad to put it up). Plus, you'll also find a new category of links, TSTWKT. Taken from Dan Coyle's book Lance Armstrong's War, it was the way LA often referred to the new technologies, gadgets, etc. that his sponsors would come up with for his next Tour de France, "the shit that will kill them!" In this category you'll find some of our favorite things (not necessarily wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string), like Independent Fabrication bikes, or a link to where you can find the best bike lubricant, Boeshield T9.

Haven't heard of the latter? Well its about time you did, as some of my friends can attest, its simply the best. The lubricant comes as a liquid or an aerosol, formulated by Boeing for use on small parts for their large airplanes. Oude Granny, and a bunch of wrenches, swear by it!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Was Afraid of This...

I have to keep reminding myself, cycling isn't really a sport...at least to Americans.

Unfortunately, cycling is only as popular as the next great American cyclist. It will remain a fringe sport just like soccer and tennis, or until the next Lance Armstrong or Greg Lemond arises, where it will once again yo-yo to popularity. Does that sound cynical enough for you? Or is Oude Granny just being realistic?

Last week, the news came out that the Tour of Georgia was having difficulties securing a main sponsor. After 5 very successful years, there is the possibility that the race that brought us some memorable one on one battles up Brasstown Bald could go the way of the Red Zinger/Coors Classic. What's even more upsetting is that this news came on the heels of Discovery Channel ending their sponsorship, after this season, of America's only ProTour Cycling team. So even though there seems to be more cyclists and fans of cycling than in recent memory, US corporations still haven't bought into the overall product, only the personalities.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily K

How long will it be when a scene like this, at the final stage of the Tour of California, is just another memory of a race gone by, "hey remember when California had a tour," or "hey why doesn't a state like Colorado have a race? It seems like the perfect place with all the cyclists and the beautiful scenery and the great climbs?" Been there, GONE that!

Jobbed
Where in the world could you pay somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 million Euros in membership fees and still not be allowed into a club? How about when joining the ProTour. Unibet.com and Astana are doing just that after the latest deal between the UCI and the lead organizations of the three Grand Tours. A deal which could only be described as a bandage on a massive hemorrhage. In order to supposedly "save the cycling season," Unibet.com and Astana will be allowed to race as ProTour teams, but will not given automatic berths into the three Grand Tours (or any of the other races under the jurisdiction of the three governing bodies, the ASO, RCS, and Unipublic) like the other 18 ProTour teams. Huh? At least we now know who is really running professional cycling. I hope UCI President, Pat McQuaid, at least asked for a reach around? "L-UCI, You Got Some "Splainin' To Do!"

Friday, March 30, 2007

Account Open

Considering that the USA World Track Cycling Team was comprised of only two males (and 4 women), and that our best chance for a rainbow colored jersey rest on the shoulders of Sarah Hammer, it came as a big surprise that Brad Huff (Slipstream-Chipotle) found the podium and opened an account that's been closed for the better part of 11 years. (Photo: Mitch Freidman/www.mitchophoto.com)

Brad Huff became the first American male to medal at the Elite Track Worlds since 1996. He placed third in the inaugural Omnium event, which is the track cycling equivalent to tracks pentathlon. It's comprised of the following events:

200m flying start time trial
5km scratch race
3km individual pursuit
15km points race
The Kilo

Katie's Korner

It looks as if our IronGal has taken over the TC blog. Be careful what you wish for, right?

One of the reasons I asked Katie to be a contributor, on her journey to complete the upcoming Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene triathlon, was because of who she is and not what she could necessarily offer to this blog. As a result, the blog-o-sphere gets to be privy to the ups, downs, and weekly (daily) grind of training. I'm truly grateful that she was willing to be a contributor, but even moreso for being able to call her a friend (you can all rip me later for the following chessy by-line).

So how many of us are headed to Idaho this summer? Katie's Karavan?

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero...
Insanity. Borderline insanity. No chaffing, just insanity.

I'm just lucky I got my butt on the bike in the p.m. Almost didn't....walked in, set my stuff down, and almost put my pj's on. Somehow, someway, I pulled on the lovely and ever so tight spandex and mounted my trusty steed.

Although I didn't get anywhere, I spun the pedals for 3 hours. And now I sit here at 11:30 pm eating some cantaloupe.

I must admit, I do look forward to nights and weekends where I'm not having to think and plan about the next workout and how to fit it all in. I can't fathom how someone who is married with children and a full time job could ever complete these training hours. Dad, You are my hero. And not once, not once, did you ever complain. You are what keeps me going dad. You are what gets me on that damn bike.

I will continue to eat now so I am completely stuffed when I climb into bed. Hmmmmm, let's see....anything good on ebay.....

Katie

On Tap...

Tour de Granny-fornia
Though the weather in the Midwest has turned somewhat balmy, Oude Granny is nonetheless headed to the left coast. I'll be in the Bay Area for business. While I'm out there, I will attempt to tackle some of the climbs used during the Amgen Tour of California, in and around beautiful Santa Rosa. Since it'll be my first riding on an incline this year, I'm already looking forward to the bounties of good wine to numb the senses and take away some of the pain.

The Lounge
If you somehow can't get out to ride this weekend, then here's another review from the ROLL Film database. This week's offering is the documentary about the great Eddy Merckx, La Course en Tete.

What Borzo (the "bike guy") says:
"The beauty of this unusual film, however, is not the celebration of handsome Eddy's many victories. Rather, it is the depiction of European bicycle racing before the likes of Lance Armstrong modernized the Tour by transforming the riding into a science and the event into a commercial enterprise..."

What Strauss (the "movie guy") says:
"One of the most effective moments in La Course en TĂȘte comes as we see a rider break down in tears after losing a race. Because this is a documentary, the moment is raw and honest..." For more...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Almost Famous - Updated Katie's Korner

Gotta love the enthusiasm, as Katie has now fully embraced the techno-geek inside of her and seems to be an electronic updating fool. Has the global internet environment of the blog-o-sphere gone to her straw strewn head? Way to go Katie is RIGHT!!

I Could While Away the Hours...
Wow, way to go Katie. The motivation to get up and ride 3 hours...not so much there today. Awesome! So what does that mean??? I get to go home tonight and ride for 3 hours. Hey, at least there is good TV on Thursday night. I did go for a run this morning so I got my legs moving. All I know, is when I get off work...All I want to do is EAT! I brought food to eat in the car on the way home....I AM A LOSER!

As for my hair....can anyone say STRAW. Thanks to my good friend Jon...I will soon have UltraSwim to try to de-chlorinate this nasty mess. Basically, I can shape it anyway I like and it stays that way....like straw. Oh yes, it is sexy. BLAHHHHH

Thanks for all the tips on taking care of chaffing 101. I'll let you know how it goes tonight. I guess my hopes to be a butt model are out!

Random tidbit: I really like Iced Coffee. I really really like Iced Coffee that I blend in the blender.

Katie

Whattya Got Against Straw?

Katie's Korner

Chaffed Up
12 weeks left...

Ahhhh yes, nothing like some good butt chaffing after a nice long bike ride!! Dang it anyways. Got some new bike shorts (which aren't cheap for those of you not in the cycling trade). Finally got to go outside and it felt great. I was all excited and went on a great ride with Erin on Saturday. Until about mile 30 when I could feel the skin begin to erode. Sure enough, I now have scars where the padding was on the shorts. Guess I can't return them either!

Other than that, still doing well. Did the 20 mile run on Sunday which felt good...but long. Now it is all taper until Boston.

Swims have been going well although, I am lapped quite often by those swimming in lanes next to me. I just don't get it. I must say, I tried that electrolyte drink...and it tastes like crappola. Maybe I will try adding some extract to that.

Carla or Len, do you think I need a new back tire, especially after having been on the trainer for a few long rides?

Okay, that's all for now,
Night

Balm...
Who told you to put on the balm?

What our IronGirl in training is currently experiencing is known as saddle soreness. And for a lot of cyclists, its not that uncommon. However, contrary to popular belief, saddle soreness is caused by friction, not by pressure. Since Katie has been training on the bike for several weeks now and did not experience any chaffing previously, its likewise just as easy to assume that her new bike shorts are responsible, but it may be a combination of things.

Other factors that contribute to saddle soreness or crotch pain could be the saddle, adjustment to a different saddle position, and shorts with insufficient padding, or center seams that irritate that part of the anatomy. If you remember from the last Katie's Korner, she just had her bike re-fitted and adjusted.

So what's the solution? Well, while Katie adjust to her new saddle postion, she should probably use a balm (with all due respect to Cosmo Kramer's attorney, Jackie Chiles). A nice "liberal" application of anti-chafing ointment or “butt balm” to the groin area should help. There are several brands out there, and most can be found at your local bike shop. As an application (and clean up afterwards) can be messy, and since a wet lubricant, such as a balm, can be a breeding ground for germs and possibly cause further infection to the area, women should not use petroleum-based products. For longer rides, Oude Granny suggest that you carry a small tube along in your saddle pack should re-applicaton prove necessary.

Wet v. Dry
This really comes down to personal preference. Most riders opt for a wet lubricant, while other riders choose dry (and less expensive) lubricants such as talc, baby powder, and corn starch. The two most popular wet lubricants, salves, are Chamois Butt'r (yes, there is a pun intended) and Bag Balm (and no guys, there isn't one intended here). Bag Balm, a Vermont original, was created to soften cow udders. For most competitors in RAAM (the annual Race Across America) Bag Balm has proven to be the common choice. Another reason most choose a balm rather than a powder is that they often contain other ingredients such as moisturizers, and healing ingredients such as Vitamin E.

Tires Gone Simple
In a previous Grab Bag feature, I reviewed an alternative to using your actual racing tires on an indoor trainer. Conti's (Continental Tires) UltraSport Hometrainer tire "doesn´t experience the heat buildup of your typical road tire, nor does it suffer the tread separation that the road tire is prone to under the special loads occurring when in cycling and braking on indoor trainer or rollers." But since Katie has been using the same tires for both, getting a new back wheel really depends on the length of time the tire has been on and the amount of wear and tear. Most riders will look to put on a new set of tires every new (racing) season, as even the deflation and dry conditions of winter storage can cause cracking to the tire's rubber.

Without knowing the age of Katie's tires or seeing the wear and tear on them, its hard to say for certain if a new tire is needed. But, with the limited information she's provided, it doesn't sound as if she'll need a new back tire at all, as a couple of long indoor training sessions should not have caused significant damage.

So what should Katie do? I'm a big proponent of William of Ockham, and of Henry David Thoreau for that matter. To paraphrase his principle, Ockham's Razor, when faced with two solutions, the simplest is often the correct choice (and in Thoreau's case, "simplify, simplify..."). The solution: rotate the tires. Unless Katie was on rollers (free standing trainer), where both of her tires might (key word here, as your weight in combination with a rear drivetrain, the back tire usually experiences heavier loads than the front) have gotten equal wear and tear, moving the front tire back, and vice versa, will solve her current worries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fixing for Palma

Track cycling's best will be in attendance on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week as the World Championships take place in the brand new Palma Arena starting Thursday (March 29th to April 1st).

Construction of the 5185 seat (capacity can be expanded for other events) arena, seemed to follow the recent trend of constructing large scale sporting venues in Europe, as it took a flurry of activity to have it complete in a timely fashion (remember the Olympics in Athens?). With 500 men working simultaneously and 50 million Euros later (90% of the bill being picked up by the government), Palma was completed with just a little over a month to spare. Did I mention construction began in November of 2005.

The velodrome, however, has taken on the look of being one of track cycling's gems (notice all the natural lighting). You can follow the action through Fixed Gear Fever's Live Feed.



Wonder What 44 Degree Banking Looks Like?
Photo: Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

America's hope for medals will hinge on the legs of our women, lead by World Champion Sarah Hammer (Photo: Mitch Clinton).

Team USA
Women:
Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif.) - Individual Pursuit, Points Race
Neva Day (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) - Individual Pursuit
Becky Quinn (Quakertown, Pa.) - Scratch Race
Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash) - Sprint, Keirin

Men:
Michael Creed (Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Points Race
Brad Huff (Fair Grove, Mo.) - Points Race, Omnium

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

J'acuse

What goes around comes around.
When Ivan Basso came under suspicion in the Spanish doping scandal, it seemed to me that his team, CSC, and director sportif Bjarne Riis were not very supportive and ultimately cast him aside. Maybe they know something we don't, but I wasn't particularly impressed.
Now, Riis is dismissing an allegation from a former team masseur that he used doping substances en route to his Tour de France title in 1996.
Riis said in a statement that he had never been close to Jef D'hont during his time at Team Telekom. Riis, who is Danish, won the '96 Tour for the German team and is now head of the CSC team.
"I have never had a particularly close relation with Jef D'hont and he has no validation for the allegations he is making," Riis said.
"There will always be someone out there trying to make money by talking about the past and in my opinion that is probably what he is trying to do here."
D'hont said in an interview with Belgium television on Sunday that Riis was under the influence of the forbidden blood doping substance EPO when he won the Tour in 1996. He said he could not produce evidence because he burnt that in 1998 during a police investigation against the Festina team, whose riders named him a key figure in supplying doping substances.
You have to wonder why this is all coming up now.
But then, you always have to wonder.
That's the problem with cycling.

Grand Tour of Mountain Biking?

It's been some time since I've been on the dirt. As such, I've not only been figuratively, but also literally, out of the loop. I have been following mountain bike racing but with only a passing fancy, so I was caught off guard when I read about the 4th edition (where have I been?) of the Cape Epic. (Photo: Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International)

The Cape Epic, held in South Africa, is an 8 day mountain bike stage race traversing over 880km and around 15,000 meters in elevation. Competitors compete in teams of two.

With the Cape Epic, La Ruta, the Trans Rockies, and the brand new Seven stage race, how long will it take for someone to connect the dots and have a Grand Tour of Mountain Bike Racing? Let's just hope that if it does happen, our breathren of the dirt don't face the headaches that are currently plaguing the Pro Tour.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Carlin on OBL

George Carlin played in Peroria over the weekend and had some choice comments about Our Boy Lance.
"(Expletive)
Lance Armstrong," said the 69-year-old comedian. "I'm just tired of being told who to admire in this country. ... I'll pick my own heroes, thanks."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cycling and Golf Don't Mix

Fore?
The Tour de France has forced the Ladies English Open to change its dates this summer because of what it fears would be an "organizational nightmare."
The Tour begins in London this year with the prologue, then takes Stage 1 out to the Kent countryside.
The golf tournament at Biddenden's Chart Hills Golf Club is scheduled for July 5-8, meaning the final day would have conflicted with the cyclists' ride in the country.
The British are expecting an estimated 1.5 million cycling fans -- me included -- to turn out for the stage, and roads in Kent will be closed as a result.
So the ladies have deferred. The will begin their event on Wednesday and finish up on Saturday. That will limit their battle to newshole in the sporting pages.

Bikes On The Side

1: The back cog drives the back wheel chain, which unlike on a normal bike can turn either way when the back handlebar is steered.
2:Back handlebar which steers the back wheel and has a rear light.
3:Front handlebar which steers the front wheel and has a light and rear-view mirror.
4:Pedals are at right angles to the wheels.
5:The seat is shaped like an upside-down crescent.
6:This frame goes over the lap of the cyclist, but can go under if preferred.

Seems to me that just pointing the front wheel straight ahead is the best way to ride a bicycle, but some people have other ideas. But now, here's the Sideways Bike, the bright idea of Michael Killian, a 46-year-old Dubliner and software engineer, who invented the thing. How does it work? The cyclist sits sideways (naturally and operates a wheel with each hand; pedalling makes the bike travel sideways.
Got that?
"You're moving sideways and operating on a different balance system in your head," Killian explains. "It's a front-to-back balance, not a left-to-right like a normal bike. That affords you tremendous grace and motion. It's dance-like. The advantages are in the motion. It's never going to win you the Tour de France. But it's mesmerising and entertaining."

Refund...

If the Unibet.com situation wasn't already a mess, let's just say that it has officially fallen off the ugly tree and has hit every branch on the way down. The most recent news has the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), organizers of the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix among others, denying the team entry into Paris-Roubaix.

Even though the team had taken steps to comply with a squirrely French law that does not allow teams to advertise or be sponsored by gambling sites, by deciding to ride under one of their lesser sponsors, Canyon bikes, they still weren't chosen.

Let's face it, Unibet has become a bigger pawn than Alex Karras' Mongo in Blazing Saddles. At this point, it would only be appropriate for the UCI to give back this Pro Tour team's membership fees (around 32 million Euros). Although Unibet certainly has the talent to compete with the elite of cycling, it doesn't even have the stature of a Continental team in the eyes of the three Grand Tour organizers.

The "Real" Power Brokers of Pro Cycling?
Photo: AFP

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Katie's Korner

Well, this marks the second entry from our IronGirl in training, Katie. Later, Oude Granny will take an in-depth look at the bike issues that Katie mentions below.

Floppy Hair
THIRTEEN WEEKS LEFT!

Hey Carla! Thanks for being so patient with me. This week was actually pretty good. I was able to ride pretty comfortably at 130. 140 was pushing it and kept that pace for about 20 mins. The total ride was only about 70 mins due to getting back to work, but think I could have kept the 140 pace for the whole 30 mins....not sure how much more.

Swims felt great....best yet. However, my swim cap broke so that was a hassle! My hair was flopping all over so I went to my bag to see if I had ANYTHING I could use to tie my hair back. Much to my dismay, I had a single bobby pin...which did nothing. So I ended up using my rubber band to make a buddah like pony tail for my bangs and let the rest of my hair float free. I must have looked like a nut job!!

Then...my goggles decided to leak! Instead of stopping to tighten (as I was pretending this was the race..heee), I just decided to open my eyes when looking down and close my eyes when I took a breath. That is because, when I turned my head...the water sloshed into my eyes! Oh brother!!! hehehe.

As for my run...will wear my monitor this weekend. Hope to get a better read this weekend. Going to try and ride outside tomorrow with a friend. Hope its not too wet.

Sounds good to meet up the weekend after next for the swim! I'm pretty free that weekend.

Got my bike all fixed up and re-measured. Basically, the guy (Chris, I think) and The Bike Shop, said my bike was way too big for my stature but he would do what he could do!

A few measurements, a couple bike part removals, and $200 later...my bike was ready to go. It is amazing how much better it feels now though. I was really overextending my back and need to focus on trying to anteriorly pelvic tilt more. Hopefully this will help me stay in my tri bars more.

Next week's schedule looks good so far. I will look at it more closely on Sunday and be in touch!

Happy Weekend!!!
Katie

Fitting and Physique
Strangely enough, I was recently asked for some advice, by another Katie (from Michigan) on buying a triathlon bike. She is also planning to jump into the world of Ironman racing, but is biding her time until next season, 2008. Here we go again, right?

Anyway, before I even jumped into the world of tubes, material, components, etc. I made sure to suggest that she go for a proper fitting. Now if you're new to the world of cycling, and I know some of our readers are, this point can't be emphasized enough.

Fitting...measurements, why bother? For starters, a proper fitting doesn't simply mean making sure that your bits and pieces (protect those onions) have enough clearance from the top tube, like when we were fitted for our childhood bicycles. A proper fitting can help you avoid those acute pains, as well as the chronic ones which usually manifest themselves in knee, lower back, and neck pain. And like any activity you do, you're more likely to enjoy it if there isn't pain involved (unless you're a masochist, then disregard all the above).

So what does a fitting involve? A good fitting actually takes a bit of time, as a dedicated shop person will take several measurements, more than even your best dress or suit maker. A lot of these measurements are done with some interesting measuring devices, with some shops having fully computerized modules. Click here for a perfect example. With the detail involved in a bike fitting, most shops may charge you a fee for this service, which will often be waived if you purchase your steed from that shop. So make sure you ask beforehand.

Now in Katie's lastest update, she mentions that she felt "overextended" on her bike. There are a couple of possible reasons for that feeling. One is the lack of a proper fitting, and therefore, a bike that is too large for her physical frame. Another may be a result of converting a road bike into a triathlon bike with some clip-on aero bars. Your standard road bike has a "more relaxed" seat tube angle (that's the central and mostly vertical tube of your bike frame). With a triathlon, time trial specific bike, the seat tube is usually at a more aggressive angle (anywhere from 75 to 78 degrees). This angle not only helps to close down the distance between your aero bars and your seat (your aero position), but it also helps the triathlete preserve some of the leg muscles which they will use later on the run.

But there is also one more (often overlooked) reason, and one which more bicycle companies are addressing, for Katie's overextension, physique. More specifically gender differences in the size of the torso (upper body). A lot of women are described as being "all legs" for a reason, as they often have a shorter torso. Most companies have realized this subtle difference and have created Women Specific Designed (WSD) bikes with shorter top tubes.

So what can Katie do to obtain a better fit without having to buy a new bike altogether? I'd suggest a new seat tube, if it hasn't already been taken care of, to help her move forward on the bike, like this one from Profile Design (Fast Forward Seat Post - $70).

Friday, March 23, 2007

On Tap...

La Classicissima
The Northern part of the continent has The Ronde, Roubaix and the Ardennes classics, but for the one-day hardmen it all starts in the boot, Italy, with Milan-San Remo (or Milano-San Remo, depending on how pretentious you want to be). Although MSR lacks the romanticism of the Northern Spring Classics, it definitely has some distinctive features which makes it a true classic, la classicissima.

Of the five cycling classic monuments (Flanders, Roubaix, L-B-L, and Lombardy), MSR is the longest. It is a grueling day in the saddle covering just under 300 kilometers. Like Ghent-Wevelgem, the race usually comes down to the sprint. But the tantalizing run up to the finish line in San Remo is what makes this race special, as the strongest on the day are ususally selected on the Poggio and Cipressa climbs.

But even if a rider makes the selection, another aspect that makes MSR unique is the parked cars. Yuppers, you heard it right, parked cars. You would have thought that being one of the classic giants, the parcours would be devoid of such obstacles, but on more than one occasion in recent history, someone has run into a vehicle. Then again, clearing nearly 300 kms of road would be an excruciating exercise for any group of race organizers.

If you like watching paint dry then find a place to watch the entire race, otherwise be patient and wait for the final hours. Catch it on either Cycling.tv or on Versus.

Sofa-Setter
This weeks selection from the ROLL Film library is none other than Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

What Borzo (the "bike guy") said:
"Well, after sitting through 90 minutes of silly shenanigans, I can now say that the only reason for a bike fan to see this movie is to warn others not to waste their time."

What Strauss (the "film guy") said:
"Pee-wee loves his bike as much as any movie character has ever loved an inanimate object. For all the bicycle films we've reviewed, I believe this is the first bike to have such a distinct look that you could recognize it on the street."

Granny's Take:
C'mon how can you argue with a guy who only wants his bike back? Although maybe not as comical, I've certainly done some strange things for a bike.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Around the World on a Bicycle -- in 1884

Here's a nice piece of audio from NPR's Weekend Editon of Jan 20·

Thomas Stevens was the first person to ride a bicycle around the world. He left San Francisco in 1884 on a high-wheeler. Upon his return in 1887, he wrote a book: Around the World on a Bicycle. Thomas Pauly of the University of Delaware wrote the introduction to a reissue of that book and spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about Stevens' adventure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Race is On in Georgia

The 2007 Tour de Georgia may not have a major sponsor, but the April 16-22 seven-stage race will have some major names: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton

Hincapie, the USA Cycling pro road champ, ordinarily would be targeting the European spring classics. But having broken a wrist in the Tour of California, he switched his priorities and will use the Georgia race as the beginning of his Tour de France preparation.

Leipheimer, winner of February's Amgen Tour of California, last raced Georgia in 2005, finishing second.

For Hamilton, Georgia marks his return to top-level U.S. racing after a two-year doping suspension. He now rides for Tinkoff Credit System.

Fifteen teams have accepted invitations to race in the 667-mile event, including ProTour teams CSC, Discovery Channel, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Quick Step-Innergetic and Predictor-Lotto.

Johan's Happy

OK, so I'll write our 500th post since the Triple started cranking about one year ago.

How about that?!

Also celebrating:
With two victories in arguably the biggest stage races of the season to date -- the Tour of California and Paris-Nice -- the Discovery Channel team may actually find a new sponsor for 2008. Unfortunately, it won't be Triple Crankset.

Director Sportif Johan Bruyneel must be pleased with the post-OBL era. "We have new riders, new goals and new objectives and I could not be happier with the how the guys have performed so far. The Tour of California and Paris-Nice wins were a direct result of our guys riding as a team behind their leader," Bruyneel said of victories for Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador (picture by Graham Watson).

"Alberto pointing at the Discovery Channel on his jersey was his way of thanking his teammates and showing how happy he is on this team," Bruyneel said. "This was a tremendous win for our entire organization. Winning races can only help us as we look to solidify a new title sponsor for 2008."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Katie's Korner

I've been blessed by a great family, as well as having made some excellent friends throughout my life. So when the opportunity to dote on them presents itself, I'm more than willing. The newest feature on this blog is dedicated to my friend, a girl who really kicks ass (are you somewhere out there listening Vanderkitten, let's hook the girl up!), Katie.

What we, and more specifically Katie, intend to do is to chronicle (both in words and in pictures) her journey to complete her first Ironman triathlon, the Ford Coeur d'Alene Ironman in Idaho. For those who have short memories or aren't too familiar with an Ironman, it covers the following respective distances and disciplines, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Are you tired from just reading that? Oude Granny's body just got a little bit more creaky!

To date, Katie is already 10 weeks into a 23 week training schedule. A couple of weeks ago, she started working with a personal trainer, who her boss recommended (and hired!). So without further adieu, here's her latest update.

Stomach and Weather Rule All
Bachelorette party in STL this weekend.....awesome time! Yeah Spurlock....you sure know how to have a great party. Just make sure you leave those pinchers at home on wedding day!

In terms of my training....this weekend was sabotage. Let's just say, if you combine 2 ancient words of wisdom: "You are what you eat" and "you get what you ask for"....that sums up my stomach situation right now. I learned, coffee, alcohol and lack of sleep don't (or shouldn't) play a role in a triathlete's diet!

Needless to say, I had a great time...and still hit all my training landmarks.

I did a 12 mile run (at about 9 min mile pace) on a relatively hilly trail. Last week, I rode 3 1/2 hours on the trainer ( wanted to shoot myself in the face!) followed by a 30 min easy run. My legs felt great on the run...no probs there. I only missed one swim workout and one bike workout last week.

Carla, still haven't gotten my bike in as had errands to run, so plan to get it in this week. Need to talk about future plans for long rides as I will be out of town a lot. Can bring my bike but need to figure out which weekends will be long long rides. Also, I would love to talk to your friend. Any info could help. My stomach is a disaster right now....but the factors are pretty obvious!

This coming week should be tricky but do-able (is that a word???). Brandon is coming in town as he is on spring break. Wanted to switch a few things around to spend as much time with him as possible. definitely can do the 3 hours/45 min run on Saturday but will have to get up at 4am on Tuesday to do the other 3 hour bike.

The long run will be planned for Sunday. Plan to bring the bike in on Thursday.

Will really try to make an electrolyte drink.

Doing OK with HR targets....although still need to work on them on the run. My monitor seems to be all over the place in terms of readings. It is a cheap monitor so that could explain why.

Sometimes I think, if someone was watching me through a window they would think I was crazy. Last week I watched "The Holiday" (Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet) while riding. So there I am, on the bike.....crying like a baby!! hahaha...what a tool!

As for now, off to bed.

Carla: No, I don't eat much on the run. I will try to do so this week. last week, I ate a fruit trekker bar and one fruit leather during the 3 1/2 hour run. I had a 1/2 banana with real Peanut butter before starting the ride. I actually felt pretty good. Probably could have eaten another 1/2 of a bar. Plan to order those salt tabs this week/next week.

When will this weather be ready for outdoors!!

Night all,
Katie

For family and friends who would like to create an RSS feed to follow Katie's progress, please contact me by clicking on my profile, Granny's 30, and sending me an email, and I'll help you out.

Lance's Tastes

TheMediaZone.com continues to have fun at Our Boy Lance's expense.
The seven-time Tour de France champ was married for five years to Kristin Richard (upper left), had a serious relationship with rocker Sheryl Crow (upper right), and has recently been spotted hanging out with fashion designer Tory Burch (lower left), who all just happen to bear a striking resemblence to each other -- and to (and let me quote TMZ) "another highlighted hetero. If Kristin, Sheryl and Tory bulked up, laid in the sun for two weeks, went on a year-long bender and shaved every smidgen of body hair, they'd be a dead ringer for Armstrong's workout buddy, the shirtless wonder himself, Matthew McConaughey (lower right)!"

Sunday, March 18, 2007

From Pucks to Bikes

Having just returned from Detroit, where I watched and reported on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship at Joe Louis Arena, I'm only just getting back to the cycling world.

(And first off, apologies to Granny, who I was supposed to call and didn't to see if he was attendance at the games. That's what I get for not returning to my college hockey roots for 12 years: Too many old friends and old times to catch up on.) I reported on college hockey for almost 30 years during my sports writing days at Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Michigan State, so given ND and MSU's participation in this year's tournament (won by the No. 1 Irish for the first time), it was a great opportunity to see if you really can go home again.

You can.

Getting back to cycling, I see that the Discovery Channel team is building on its Tour of California success with three stage victories by Yaroslav Popovych and ultimate winner Alberto Contador (two stages, including Sunday's finale in stirring fashion) in Paris-Nice. Not Levi. Not George. Not even Ivan, who, like George, was injured in a fall, as did Paolo Bettini (just you don't think Discovery Channel riders are the only ones falling off their bikes).

A scheduling note: In case you missed Sunday's Paris-Nice final stage on Versus, it appears that the network is repeating its weekly Cyclysm telecast on Wednesday afternoons at 3 p.m. ET. I've already set my DVR.

Contador in Full Flight

If you're waiting for the Versus Paris-Nice wrap-up on Cyclysm Sunday, then read no further.

I wasn't attempting to be prophetic when I wrote about Alberto Contador's excellent early season form a couple of days ago, but he certainly confirmed it today. Being only 6 seconds down on the GC to Davide Rebellin, Contador attacked full out on the final climb of the day and made the finale into a man-on-man ITT down the promenade in Nice.

What makes this Discovery Channel victory even more meaningful (and improbable) is the backlash Johan Bruyneel and the team have taken as a result of their hiring of Ivan Basso. Most of the riders in the peloton have been reluctant, if not down right truculent in their assistance of any Discovery team rider or Discovery team tactics.

With Contador's win, Discovery has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet. Once again, they have built up the strongest team, and may also have the strongest group of Grand Tour GC riders.

Photo: AFP

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Scripted

I couldn't have penned it better. There I was writing about Alberto Contador and Luis Leon Sanchez in the weekly "On Tap..." post, and one, Contador, makes today's race, while the other powers home and wins the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice, Sanchez (Photo: Graham Watson).

On the other end of the spectrum was the usual script of abandoment followed by most of the sprinters and Classics hardmen, who will be salivating over other titles in the next few weeks. But honestly, just admit to it.

Daniele Bennati's reason for abandoment...nose bleed.

Do you think he'd pull to the curb and wait for his team car for the same reason if this were Milan-San Remo? Let's hope not otherwise, his first name may take on a whole new pronunciation!

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Tap...

With all the madness, March Madness, occurring around me its easy to forget that Paris-Nice concludes this weekend. The Race to the Sun has always been used to officially kick off the cycling season, and with good reason. Although there are plenty of races on the calendar that precede it, the parcours are indicative of the cycling season's reawakening. From the cold and dreary Winter like conditions of Paris, the riders are ushered into Spring by the milder temperatures and sun drenched beaches of Nice. If you aren't as lucky to watch it live or through Cycling.tv, the recap of the race and its final stage can be seen on Versus.

Flight of the Contador

The surprise of P-N, and the early season, has been the form of Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador. Once a part of the powerful Liberty Seguros cycling team, and the other half of a young and exciting pair of Spanish riders, the other half being former teammate Luis Leon Sanchez, Contador seems to be one of Discovery's men for the future. It will definitely be interesting to see how the rise of Contador affects the development of Tom Danielson as a GC rider. Danielson, who isn't up to form this early in the season, has essentially buried himself for Contador's and Leipheimer's chances in this race. He can however, be buttressed by the fact that he has already been selected to take part of Discovery's Tour de France team.

Boob Tube
For those of you who haven't been infected by cabin fever and decide that it's still too cold to ride outside this weekend, Oude Granny suggest the movie American Flyers. A full review by ROLL Film can be found here.

Borzo Says:
"Tesich's love and knowledge of bicycle racing is embodied in the movie's two main characters, who are over-the-top bicycle aficionados: Marcus (Kevin Costner), a type-A sports doctor with professional racing credentials; and his underachieving younger brother, David (David Marshall Grant), a drifter who likes to bike. They dither between fraternal rivalry and brotherly love as they train for and then ride in the "Hell of the West."

Strauss Says:
" The only thing preventing
American Flyers from becoming a total disaster is the dedicated effort of the cast to make an actual movie out of this jumble."

Granny's Take:
Although I would best describe this film as campy, several things leap out at me. For those too young to remember, the race in the movie provides you a glimpse of what was once the Red Zinger/Coors Classic. It also shows some beautiful scenery of the Colorado Monument in Grand Junction, CO. In addition, although her acting skills aren't as polished as when she would later run around with David Hasselhoff on Baywatch, Alexandra Paul (Stephanie Holden on Baywatch) certainly holds her own in this film. Plus her presence seems to make the premise of the film somewhat more credible (even though she plays the love interest and not the athlete), as she ended up being quite the triathlete, completing Ironman Hawaii in the late 90's.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shop-Boy

In the past couple of months, Oude Granny has turned into quite the mobile blogging fool, a real roving reporter of the blog-o-sphere. So where am I blogging (reporting) from today?

Calvin College. In beautifully, cloudy, Grand Rapids, MI.

Ah, who picked this assignment???

Well, I'm here for some real-life business, you know the job that actually pays the bills. As I was driving in from Ann Arbor, I couldn't help but reminisce about a past life, one in which I found a true love, Ada Bike Shop.

So when I got close to my exit off of I-96, 28th St SE, where I needed to be, it didn't take much of the turn of the wheel, the steering kind, in the opposite direction to get to where I wanted to be, on Thornapple River Dr. headed up to Ada. I genuinely got "bike geeked out," knowing that I was just a few miles from one of my favorite bike shops.

So what you may ask is so special about this shop in particular? Well, I've kind of made it a habit to go into a bike shop in almost every town I've ever visited, even when I was in Sorrento, Italy on vacation, and of all those shops Ada Bike Shop (at least after a lot of the recent renovations) resembles the kind of shop I wouldn't mind opening one day.

Their motto, "making the best bikes better," is just part of Jim Ippel's philosophy of treating the customer as he would want to be treated. It's amazing how that little personal touch can make all the difference. So whether you want to go in and hang out in the lounge area to just talk "shop," bikes in this case, or feel confident that your bike will get fixed to your liking by one of the wrenches (yes, that's correct you Neanderthal, sexist cyclist, that's a female wrench back there putting your bike together, Rachel Ippel) its worth the trip to this small town just east of Grand Rapids.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ain't That a Peach

In what may go down as one of few cycling grassroots (and I use that term facetiously) efforts, the Tour of Georgia Board of Directors (Georgia Partnership of Economic Development), has decided to run this year's race despite their inability to secure a main sponsor. Normally, a race that still lacked significant financial backing, a reported million dollars, weeks and even days before its start would be canceled. But apparently, the American cycling community has spoken (without any real protest, or even a sit down). In one muted voice of spandexed solidarity, we've managed to convince the State of Georgia, or at least their tourism board, that our interest hasn't waned since Lance left, and that we may still possibly be growing as a fan base.

In the end, history will bare out the facts, and we only have to wait until next year when the Tour de Georgia may be just that, history.

Tour of Georgia Schedule:
Stage 1: Monday, April 16 - Peachtree City to Macon
Stage 2: Tuesday, April 17 - Thomaston to Rome
Stage 3: Wednesday, April 18 - Rome to Chattanooga, Tennessee
Stage 4: Thursday, April 19 - Chickamauga/Walker County to Lookout Mountain (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 5: Friday, April 20 - Dalton to Brasstown Bald Mountain/Towns County
Stage 6: Saturday, April 21 - Lake Lanier Islands/Hall County to Stone Mountain Park/Dekalb Country
Stage 7: Sunday, April 22 - Atlanta (circuit race)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Time to Heal?

"What is it in us that seeks the truth?
Is it our minds or is it our hearts?"

- Jake Brigance - A Time to Kill

From my "On Tap" post (a new weekly blog occurence, providing some sort of guide to the weekend), I was in attendance for the March 10th Floyd Fairness Fund fundraiser in Wilmette, IL. (Incidentally, if your directions to Central Ave. involve going north on Green Bay Rd., please be advised that Evanston has a Central St. just a couple of blocks south of Central Ave. in Wilmette). The event was held at the Wilmette Theatre (see inset), a historic theatre with two 200 seat screening rooms, which didn't really strike me as unusual until my friend with whom I share some interesting Chicago coincidentals, Betsy, asked "why's a fundraiser being held at a movie theatre?"

Although I had gone to the Floyd Fairness Fund website numerous times and downloaded Dr. Arnie Baker's presentation and other materials, the barnstorming nature of these fundraisers went completely unnoticed. It wasn't until later, while perusing the internet, that I found out that these events have been held in all sorts of venues, like bars and restaurants, and bike shops (as T-o-03 mentions below), all over the country. When I finally entered the room and saw Dr. Baker's Powerpoint presentation cued up for viewing, it only made sense to hold the fundraiser in a theatre.

There were approximately 140-160 people in attendance. During a question and answer period of the scheduled 3 hour event, I found out that some notables of the blog-o-sphere were present. One such gentleman was James, Steroid Nation, who not only has a complete breakdown of the event, but also has video of it. So rather than belabor a point, I'll pull a George Michaels here and suggest that we all "go to the video tape." (Another great recap of the event can be found on Rant Your Head Off)

Admittedly, I went to the event more as a fan rather than a skeptic. Most of the materials presented, I had already dissected and come to my own conclusions. But as I sat there drinking my Pride & Joy - Three Floyds' Mild Ale (yes, some of these fundraisers have alcohol present), the above quote from John Grisham's novel came to mind. What truth or what type of truth was I searching for that possessed me to drive four and a half hours from Ann Arbor, MI? Was I searching for more than simple validation, like the gentleman sitting next to me, who stood up and prompted his cycling hero to, "tell me that you haven't taken anything, and it'll be good enough for me...then I can look my kids in the face and tell them the same?"

What was my mind telling me and/or what was my heart telling me?

The Mind
For those of you who don't know me, I'm a person that can analyze to the point of paralysis. I like to look at things from a variety of viewpoints. Does that mean that I'm always right? All it says is that if you're so inclined to ask for my opinion, you'll usually receive something back that's been really well thought out. So what does my mind tell me about Floyd's case? From what I've read from the disclosed documents of the case and his Wiki Defense, there is more empirical data suggesting his innocence than there is to the contrary.

But, having spoken to relatives and friends in the legal profession, its also become readily apparent that these tribunal type arbitration hearings aren't in the same vicinity of anything that we, the non-legal types, know of jurisprudence. If those adjudicating his case aren't open to his defense, then it won't make a bit of difference come May 14th (when Landis' public hearing is scheduled).

The Heart
I met Floyd once before, last year in Chicago, while he was helping Robbie Ventura open up a north of downtown location of VisionQuest Coaching services. I don't claim to have any extraordinary insight into the man other than what I've read about him, and from these appearances and the meet-and-greet afterwards. So what makes me believe that Floyd Landis' circumstances, and for that matter, Floyd, are any different from those cyclists accused of doping in the past?

Floyd, in his demeanor, in his words, and in his actions seems genuine, from the heart. He has been unwavering in his denial and has been forthcoming and transparent in his defense strategy, "I've got nothing to hide." It also doesn't hurt that his foil in this matter, WADA Director, Dick Pound, seems more interested in the prosecution than in the truth.

So what is it in you that seeks the truth...your mind or your heart? In this case, both seem to point to the same thing.

Perhaps after the dropping of the Operacion Puerto case and the Landis hearing, cycling may finally get a chance to heal.

Other tidbits from the fundraiser:
- The May 14th hearing is public, so those of you in the area can attend.

- Contrary to popular, and somewhat legendary, belief, Floyd did not talk with Eddy Merckx to strategize the night before the famous Stage 17 (although he did talk to him several times during the Tour).

- Floyd has spoken to former teammates, like LA and Tyler, who offered their assistance, but he hasn't taken them up on their offer.

- He seems healthy after his hip surgery; no limping. He is still training, but doesn't expect to race at all this year.

- Dr. Baker's online presentation is only a small tidbit of information being used for Floyd's defense. Baker suggested that there is a lot more to be brought up.

- Is the Floyd Fairness Fund strategy working? Time and the hearings will bear that out, but as of today, a Google search of the same reveals 232,ooo results. It seems that some people are talking, writing, about it.

- Another great blog that has encapsulated all of the happenings on Floyd since his "positive" finding, is Trust But Verify (by sometime Triple Crankset visitor Dave Brower).




An Interview With Jonathan Vaughters

Having had the opportunity to ride with Jonathan Vaughters during the first week of the 2004 Tour de France in Belgium, I'm always interested to hear what he has to say about the sport. Alicia Hopkins of CyclingNews interviewed Vaughters, Team Slip Stream's Director Sportif, about the goals of Team Slip Stream both before the Tour of California and into the 2007 season.

Worth a read: International Herald Tribune's Samuel Abt on Cycling: Spanish doping investigation crumbles

Millar: I'm a Spokesman

I suppose that if you've admitted to doping, taken your two-year ban like a man, then returned to the pro tour with some success, you get to be a spokesman against the practice.
At least David Millar thinks so.
"Last Thursday and Friday, I was in London for a conference about drugs," said Millar (photo by Graham Watson), who won the prologue to the Paris-Nice race on Sunday. "I feel that I have a new responsibility in the fight against drugs. I want to be a voice in the clean up of the sport for the coming generations. I can't forget the mistakes from the past. I want to be an example every day now.
"The young riders must not believe that there is a need for injections of recovery products. It's useless."
Millar, who is British, has set several goals.
"I have set the year 2012 as the end of my career," he said. "In the five remaining years I want to become the world's best rider. I have come back a long way but I'm stronger than ever. Confidence will be the key for winning the prologue of the Tour de France in London."
I hope to be in London for the start of the 2007 Tour July 7 and in Kent the next day for the conclusion of Stage 1.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Merckx: Riders Aren't Criminals

Make sure you read the previous item before you read this one.
Belgian cycling great Eddy Merckx says riders should not be treated like criminals in the war against doping.
"Doping has to be fought, cheats must be unmasked, abuse should be punished but all this should remain human," Merckx told French sports daily L'Equipe.
The International Cycling Union unveiled an anti-doping program last week that will ask riders to contribute to the development of new tests and sign a document authorising DNA tests to help identify them when banned substances are found.
Merckx, who won the Tour de France five times between 1969 and 1974, said he would not have abided by the new anti-doping program.
"I would not have given my DNA," Merckx said. "It could be done in case of a contractual problem between the rider and his employer. Otherwise, you just debase the rider by asking him for his DNA.
"Riders are not criminals."
Riders aren't innocents, either.

Never Mind

News flash:
The judge leading the investigation into a cycling doping ring (Operation Puerto) has closed the case without making any charges after concluding that no offenses were committed under Spanish law.
How do you like them apples, Jan? Ivan?
In a ruling released on Monday, judge Antonio Serrano said that doping practices had occurred but that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for the offense of endangering public health.
Kinda reminds me of the Black Sox Scandal. They got off, too, but Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis tossed the scoundrels from baseball for life. Wanna bet that Judge Serrano is no Mountain Landis?
Doping itself was not punishable under Spanish law when the charges were brought in May last year and the judge said that the case was not subject to new legislation introduced in February designed to deal with people who supply and administer drugs in sport.
"This case took place because of a lack of fair play to say the least," Serrano said.
"Sport has become a branch of industry where it is judged by profitability and has lost much of its original function in transmitting moral values such as fair play."
How do you like them apples?!
The decision will be seen as a huge blow to the fight against doping in cycling and could open the way for the accused to seek compensation.

Bad Boy Floyd Time

Well, I was right about Bad Boy Floyd.
Steve Lipsher, who writes for the Denver Post, reports that our second-favorite cycling fundraiser was in a Denver suburban bike shop Sunday (while David Millar was winning the prologue to Paris-Nice) to pad his legal defense fund.
"I'm confident if I get a fair hearing, I'll be proven innocent," BBF said at a news conference before a town-hall meeting at Bicycle Village. Floyd has been making these pay-to-be-with-me appearances as part of the Floyd Fairness Foundation, which has raised more than $500,000 toward the $2 million that organizers believe will be required to clear his name.
Just to keep things noble, Landis also hopes to change the international drug-testing system, arguing that results should be completely confidential until an athlete has been granted due process.
"We can't go back and do something again. But I'd like to change the system so that until there's a final outcome, no one is convicted in the press," Landis said.
Wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and striped tie -- he must be dressing better these days -- Landis received a standing ovation from the group of about 125 people, for whom he answered questions.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Millar Time

The only problem I have with Cyclysm Sunday is not the Cyclysm but the Sunday. With an eight-day event like Paris-Nice, which began today, on Sunday, you have a prologue on Sunday and a rather meaningless final stage next Sunday. As the Mamas and Papas used to sing, what about "Monday, Monday"? Or Tuesday through Saturday? Or more highlights from THOSE days?
But lets be nice and get back to Paris ... and David Millar (photo by Graham Watson), 30, who won the prologue in the suburbs of Paris on Sunday Sunday. It was the former prologue specialist's first prologue victory in six years -- including the two he was banned for doping. Millar had won the 14th stage of last year's Spanish Vuelta, a 48-km time trial. But this victory over 4.7kms in Issy-les-Moulineaux was really a new start.
"Last year was very hard after two years without racing. It was tough mentally and physically. But this prologue was my first objective of the season. I'm very impressed with myself," said Millar, who rides for Spanish team Saunier Duval.
Monday's 186-km first stage takes the 160 riders from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir to Buzancais.
Paris-Nice, celebrating its 65th edition, was nearly cancelled because of a row between its organizers and the International Cycling Union over marketing rights last week.
But what cycling be without a little controversy.
Last year's winner, Bad Boy Floyd Landis, probably watched the race from a fundraiser somewhere.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Too Funny...Not to Post

Photo: CyclingWorld.dk

Come up with your best caption, and we'll post it.

In the clubhouse so far:

"When you said long hours in the saddle would cause shrinkage, I was thinking of...oh never mind."

"Leaders jersey for the Tour de Mini-Me"

"Early favorites to wear the Tour of Denmark leaders jersey, Frank Schleck and Michael Rasmussen."

On Tap...

So the race calendar says that Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun, is starting this weekend. The race marks the official start of the 2007 edition of the ProTour. Elsewhere, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Trust House Womens' Tour of New Zealand both come to a conclusion on Sunday.

But since my preference is toward the Classics, I've still got a little time before the giants like The Ronde and Roubaix kick off. So what's Granny gonna do in the interim? Well I'll definitely pay some attention to P-N, but I'm also gonna check out the Floyd Fairness Fund fundraiser in Wilmette, IL. Maybe I'll see some of you there (If you have any questions you want me to ask, drop me a line).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Going With The Gut

I have to say that after the kudos T-o-03 heaped on Oude Granny the day before, I was acutally at a loss for some material. Then I ran across this from Chris Selden at Pezcylingnews.com. Mind you, its only a snippet of the Euro Trash Thursday column regarding the Unibet.com mess (please click on the link provided as he does make some good points about this issue), but the last line in this excerpt invoked a guttural reaction. Search over, mind going...

"The ASO don’t seem to like Unibet because they are promoting an illegal business in France (gambling) – but is that really the issue? What about when they were known as MrBookmaker.com a couple of years ago? I saw that team race in France with my own eyes and not a word was spoken, despite the fact that their sponsor was a gambling organization. So what’s changed? Not much as far as I can tell, besides the fact that the Grand Tour Organizers were sick of the UCI telling them what to do and when. To this I can sympathise with the organizers – why shouldn’t they be able to invite who they want to their races?"

Whether the creation of the ProTour has actually succeeded is all its facets is another matter all together, and one which I won't discuss here because of it dauntingness. But one of the reasons for its inception was to insure that the best competition was at the grandest races. Listen, I'm all for nationalistic pride, but when you begin to exclude teams that have earned the right (by being competitive and winning races throughout the season) to participate in a race, then I think that race (and its fans) lose something greater. Take for instance the insistence of the Tour de France (the Grand Boucle!), pre-ProTour, to take as many French teams possible while excluding many of the top teams. Huh? What? When did that happen? How dare they?

Oude Granny doesn't even have to step into his Wayback Machine to show you why letting organizers invite who they want to their races isn't exactly the best things. Let's go back to the selection of the Tour de France teams in 2001. That year, Jean Marie LeBlanc actually made room for an extra 21st team, but choosing 5 wild card teams. So who did they choose?

Of the 5 chosen, they picked 2 French teams. Well Granny, that doesn't sound like squat!!

Let me break it down a bit. Of the 21 teams invited to the Tour that year, 8 were French teams, 5 of which were Division 2 teams. And of those 5 Division 2 teams, 2 were the wild card selections. Does that sound like a very competitive field??? And how do you select any Division 2 team over a more qualified Division 1 team?

Some of the more qualified teams left out that year were Mercury-Viatel and Team Coast. Mercury-Viatel could have been the second American based team to compete in the Tour, alongside Lance Armstrong's powerful US Postal squad. Instead, Mercury-Viatel, even with all the support Greg Lemond provided, went bankrupt after that season. Perhaps, if they were allowed to participate in that Tour, their sponsors would have bought into cycling and a young man living in San Diego at the time, Floyd Landis, would have ridden his first Tour.

As far as Team Coast, their exclusion meant that a two-time Vuelta winner and World Champion in Alex Zulle wasn't allowed to compete. Now flash forward 2 years from that somber moment, to a happier one, when Team Coast was finally allowed in to the Tour. How did they end up doing after being excluded year after year? Well, Team Coast actually went the way of Mercury-Viatel midseason, pulling their sponsorship. But the team stayed together and kept their Tour spot and re-emerged as Team Bianchi. The same Team Bianchi, with Jan Ullrich. And we all know what an exciting and memorable Tour that ended up being! It was the most competitive in ages, hands down.

Could you imagine what the 2001 Tour would have been like, if teams like Saeco (with Mario Cipollini), Mercury-Viatel, Coast, or Mercatone Uno (with Il Pirata) were chosen instead of Big Mat, Bonjour, Jean Delatour, or Ag2R-Prevoyance (all Division 2 French teams)?

But wait, its their race and they should be able to invite who they want.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Praise for Granny

The London Guardian's Kevin Anderson talks to Tour '03's Online Journalism class at George Mason University.

That's quite a job Oude Granny has done maintaining this blog with some outstanding posts these past several weeks. When Tooth, Granny and I started this blog almost a year and 500 posts ago, I knew this format was made for Granny. He's got the right touch (just like he does on the bike!), and I don't know many so-called experts who demonstrate greater insight about this sport we all love and sometimes hate.
After writing a good number of these posts over the first 10 months or so, I needed a break. The trick to writing a blog (and my good friend, Kevin Anderson, the blogging editor of the London Guardian, just talked about all that to my George Mason Online Journalism class yesterday during a visit to the States) is to combine equal parts passion, knowledge and time. My passion has taken a hit since the summer; my knowledge certainly doesn't compare to Granny's; and a certain lack of time due to my responsibilities at school combined with a computer crash a couple weeks ago all combined and conspired to quiet me down.
But with Spring Break fast approaching and no plans of note, I hope to regain my enthusiasm for the sport through the blog as we head into the Spring Classics.
As I have in the past, here's an article -- a blog entry, in fact -- that updates the ongoing saga of Bad Boy Floyd Landis about as well as anything I've read. It's from Carlton Reid's Bike Biz blog and includes part of a web chat with the LATimes' outstanding investigative reporter, Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist. In the chat, Hiltzik explains BBF's wikipedia defense, in which Landis posts his documents and his defense online.
Says Hiltzik: "I think it is, in its way, brilliant. One of the main problems athletes have had in defending themselves in anti-doping cases is the dearth of independent experts. That's because the most experienced doping scientists tend to be employed by WADA labs, and under WADA rules they can't work for an athlete's defense. The wikipedia defense in effect drafts thousands of qualified experts in cyberspace to revew the case, and I have no doubt that Landis's defense has profited from the analysis done online."
After reading the item, I can see Landis winning his case because he's making a strong case that the testing process is shoddy. The real question, even if the charges are ultimately dropped, will be whether the public buys it. Sadly, BBF is probably forever tainted. But then, so is Our Boy Lance, who has never been found guilty of anything except bad judgment in dropping women.
Cycling does like to eat its heroes ...
Finally, I don't know that I ever said a proper goodbye to cycling's endlessly tragic hero, Jan Ullrich, the Red Klotz (from the Washington Generals) of the sport. Every sport needs its foils, and Jan served OBL well in that regard. Lest we forget, Jan did win the Tour. Once. And that was his great sin, as OBL endlessly told us, setting up Jan for repeated failure during Lance's run of seven Tour de France victories.
And OBL was all the greater for all Jan's failures.

Banner Day...

There's an inside joke in that headline, somewhere. But, Oude Granny thought it would be fun to create some web banners for those of you out there who are fans or readers of this blog and want to share it with others on your own website, blog, or myspace site. The TC has three options. Simply click on Granny's Profile and send an email to request the HTML code for a specific banner. Once you get the code, just paste it into your template, wherever you deem appropriate.

Option 1




Option 2





Option 3





Links Update

On the right navigation bar of the TC blog, you'll find some new and updated links (some were deleted, dead links, so if your favorite was one that is now gone, please find a new link and email it to me and I'll be glad to put it up). Plus, you'll also find a new category of links, TSTWKT. Taken from Dan Coyle's book Lance Armstrong's War, it was the way LA often referred to the new technologies, gadgets, etc. that his sponsors would come up with for his next Tour de France, "the shit that will kill them!" In this category you'll find some of our favorite things (not necessarily wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string), like Independent Fabrication bikes, or a link to where you can find the best bike lubricant, Boeshield T9.

Haven't heard of the latter? Well its about time you did, as some of my friends can attest, its simply the best. The lubricant comes as a liquid or an aerosol, formulated by Boeing for use on small parts for their large airplanes. Oude Granny, and a bunch of wrenches, swear by it!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Was Afraid of This...

I have to keep reminding myself, cycling isn't really a sport...at least to Americans.

Unfortunately, cycling is only as popular as the next great American cyclist. It will remain a fringe sport just like soccer and tennis, or until the next Lance Armstrong or Greg Lemond arises, where it will once again yo-yo to popularity. Does that sound cynical enough for you? Or is Oude Granny just being realistic?

Last week, the news came out that the Tour of Georgia was having difficulties securing a main sponsor. After 5 very successful years, there is the possibility that the race that brought us some memorable one on one battles up Brasstown Bald could go the way of the Red Zinger/Coors Classic. What's even more upsetting is that this news came on the heels of Discovery Channel ending their sponsorship, after this season, of America's only ProTour Cycling team. So even though there seems to be more cyclists and fans of cycling than in recent memory, US corporations still haven't bought into the overall product, only the personalities.

Photo: Courtesy of Emily K

How long will it be when a scene like this, at the final stage of the Tour of California, is just another memory of a race gone by, "hey remember when California had a tour," or "hey why doesn't a state like Colorado have a race? It seems like the perfect place with all the cyclists and the beautiful scenery and the great climbs?" Been there, GONE that!

Jobbed
Where in the world could you pay somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 million Euros in membership fees and still not be allowed into a club? How about when joining the ProTour. Unibet.com and Astana are doing just that after the latest deal between the UCI and the lead organizations of the three Grand Tours. A deal which could only be described as a bandage on a massive hemorrhage. In order to supposedly "save the cycling season," Unibet.com and Astana will be allowed to race as ProTour teams, but will not given automatic berths into the three Grand Tours (or any of the other races under the jurisdiction of the three governing bodies, the ASO, RCS, and Unipublic) like the other 18 ProTour teams. Huh? At least we now know who is really running professional cycling. I hope UCI President, Pat McQuaid, at least asked for a reach around? "L-UCI, You Got Some "Splainin' To Do!"