Monday, April 30, 2007

"He Gone!"

As part of my cable "Extra Inning" In Demand baseball package, I get just about every Major League Baseball game. I'm a lifetime Detroit Tigers fan (I can finally admit as much proudly again), and they've already played several games against the Chicago White Sox, who have a very homer-istic, annoying annoucing team.

When someone on the other team strikes out, they're favorite call is, "He Gone!" I don't like it much, but after today, all you can say about FORMER Discovery Channel team rider Ivan Basso is, "He Gone!"

Discovery Channel cast Basso aside Monday, and professional cycling is a sadder place. Of course, it professional cycling has been a sad place since Basso and dozens of other riders were implicated in the Operation Puerto doping affair.

I won't even get into the Bad Boy Floyd business with the Tour de France, doping agencies, L'Equipe (the French sports newspaper that also runs the Tour) ... Well, you get the idea. Did the French invent the term "conflict of interest"?

Discovery says they continue to stand by the 29-year-old Tour of Italy champion, who was supposed to lead their Tour bid in a couple month. But with support like that, you don't even need enemies like L'Equipe.

Basso supposedly asked to be released from his contract. "This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do," said Basso.

I'm glad somebody thinks they're doing the right thing.

"The team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals," Basso added. "It is important that everyone knows this was 100 percent my decision. Nobody asked me to leave."

Well, maybe just the French.

Cycling is such a mess now. I want to watch and enjoy the races, but since the summer, it just hasn't been possible. Normally, I love the classics. I look forward to my cycling magazines arriving in the mail. I keep thinking I will get over it, but all these months later, nothing has changed.

Granny has taken the right approach, enjoying the bike for the sake of the bike. We probably don't need Ivan Basso, but somehow, great riders are inspirations when they perform gloriously on their machines.

Perhaps the glory will return. But right now, Basso is gone. Ulrich is gone. Bad Boy Floyd is gone. Our Boy Lance is long gone. And professional cycling ... well, it's gone.

Katie's Korner

HELLLO KATIE!
You can call me toaster strudel! It sounds much cuter than burnt toast, but both apply equally as well. I am burnt! But I did cross another landmark today...92 miles on the bike in 5 hours and 20 minutes. I then followed that up with a 20 minute transition run.

The run felt much better this week after the bike than last week. I also think I got a good feeling for the foods (how much I need to carry). The worst part was how sore my neck got. My legs were pretty tired at the end.

So far, 3 hours post (ride & run), and no headache. Tried salt pills (1 at mile 80, 1 at mile 90) and they seemed to help. Still not sure about the honey goo's, as they may aggravate my stomach. The weather was beautiful, and although I sunscreened up this morning.....I forgot to put it on the back of my hands!! Oops! I guess I was caught red handed! (Oh Boy!).

I just tried to nap but my brain is racing....I dont' know why? I am really tired but couldn't fall asleep. I think I'll go get some food.

Stace, it was so much fun riding with/seeing you yesterday. Let's pick another date now to get together...even if only for a bit!

Len, thanks for coming "salsa dancing" with us last night. You are so much fun! Wish you lived closer!

B, Good Luck on Finals! You'll do AWESOME! I Love You!

HAPPPPPYYYY BIRTHDAY TO MICHELLE AND STACIE!!!

And now off to aloe my hands....
Katie

Update: I had intended to join our IronGal on her latest long training ride, but a partial tear to the gastrocnemius muscle prevented me from saving Katie from the sheer boredom of riding alone. Oude Granny is getting old (quite literally as I also celebrated a birthday last week). For those in the Barrington/Lake Zurich area, we'll try to schedule some group rides once I'm up and going.

From this Friday's On Tap..., the original limited opening date for the movie, The Flying Scotsman, was pushed back to May 4th. My apologies to any and all of you who have wanted to see the film, and were thrown off by the misinformation from this blog.

Monday Morning Advocate

Welcome the second installment of the Morning Advocate. In this feature we'll share with you articles we've read, stories we've heard, or groups we know of that advocate cycling or use cycling to advocate their chosen cause. Think of it as saving the world, someone else, and/or yourself, one pedal stroke at a time. Today, we'll look at the Lance Armstrong Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

No doubt that you've seen the April 9th Newsweek by now. But 10 years after the Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded, where do we really stand in the fight against the second leading killer?

A couple of years ago, the battle had a prominent face in Lance Armstrong and although he hasn't shyed away from the fight, he's certainly been less visible to the general population with his retirement. That's not a criticism against LA, but more of a warning to all; the lack of a crystallizing point person doesn't mean that the various forms of cancer have also retired or gone away.

Last year, T-o-03 brought up the following point and its appropriate to do so again.

Did you consider your LIVESTRONG wristband as just another "fad" like the Pet Rock (you do have to take a wayback machine for that reference)? Did you just want to be en vogue and feel a part of the US Postal/Discovery Channel army? Did you wear the band because it held a deeper meaning? Now look around, are the same people who were never without the band a couple of years ago still wearing it?

Hopefully it just means that more people have become personally involved, and become real advocates for the cause.

As far as LA goes, he's recently approached Capitol Hill with the same zeal as when he held a stranglehold on the peloton stating "We Have to Be Ruthless!"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turning a Pedal In Anger...

Have you ever wondered what Phil Liggett or Paul Sherwen mean when they throw out the above expression? The image below (Photo: AFP) says it all.


After a few near misses this year, and barely missing out on a feat (the Ardennes treble) accomplished by his countryman, Davide Rebellin, Danilo Di Luca, has captured his first significant win of the season and claimed the one that got away, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, from him in 2005.

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Tap...

Water, Water, Everywhere...
Its been well chronicled that 75% of the earth is covered by water, with 3% of that water being fresh water.

Our cycling analogy; the boys over at Gerolsteiner currently own 66.7% of the Ardennes Classics and are looking to add the remaining 33.3% come Sunday.

In 2004, Davide Rebellin completed the unprecedented Ardennes triple; winning the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This year, Rebellin and his Gerolsteiner team are poised for the hat trick, as Stefan Schumacher claimed Amstel and Rebellin, La Fleche Wallonne.

Gerolsteiner's main competition should come in the form of two riders, the Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and the Italian, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas). Interestingly enough, both were able to win two-thirds of the Ardennes Classics in 2006 and 2005, respectively.

So what's On Tap...possibly Gerolsteiner water at this Sunday's running of Liege-Bastogne-Liege; the mother (quite literally, as its nickname of La Doyenne means "old woman" in French) of cycling's monuments (it first running was in 1892).

Again, watch it LIVE on Cycling.tv, or see the re-cap on Versus. To follow it on the internet, tune into Cyclingnews.com.

Traveling Blogger
Oude Granny is on the move again, as I will be in Barrington, IL, for a group ride (where I'll also be checking in on our IronGal in training, Katie). During my short stay in the Land of Lincoln, I also hope to take in The Flying Scotsman. Look for a review next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Katie's Korner

Yada, Yada, Yada...
Blah, Blah, and Blah weather. Fog and drizzle, 51 degrees. Blah!

But that's okay....I have finally come out of my slight depression from not running Boston (Marathon) and I am ready to rock and roll.

A great new finding are these honey packets that are intended to work like the goo packets! I hope they work for fueling on the bike/run because that would help a lot.

Today, I did a longer run off of the bike and it felt pretty good. Carla has been such a help in instructing me in what to do. My problem, I always default to running because it is the easiest thing, just walk out the door. However, I can't just do that.

Also, I started back going to see the Chinese doctor. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Guo is amazing! He has helped out so many people in my family...and it is all natural. Don't ask me how it works...but it does and it's much better that loading up on drugs. Granted, I am taking about 50 herb pills each day, but that's different!

I did go to him a while back but wasn't patient enough...You see, herbs don't work like pharmaceuticals, they take time. So I have told myself that I will be patient and maybe this will be the solution to my stomach issues.

Back to my training...I have noticed a smidgeon of an ache at my medial right calcaneus...and I am always fearful that it is indicative of plantar fascitis. I have been icing, rolling out my ITB and working it good...so hopefully it does not come to fruition (For those readers not fully acquainted with our IronGal in training, Katie is a Physical Therapist, so the lingo just kinda flows).

Last week did a 2 hour run on Saturday and a 4.5 hour bike ride with a transition run on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and they both felt great...except for the transition run. My stomach got all cramped up and my legs felt like they were stuck in mud.

Okay Enough!
Katie

Katie is the Triple Crankset's resident IronGirl in training. We have been following her progress as she trains for the the Ford Ironman Coeur d' Alene triathlon on June 24th.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One Down...99 to Go

In the March 2007 edition of Bicycling magazine, the "100 Best Climbs in America" were featured. Whether I totally agree with some of their selections is another matter, but I was fortunate enough to be in the southern Illinois area to ride one of them, Makanda Road Hills.

The description of the climb was as followed:
Makanda Road Hills
Makanda, Illinois
1.75 M, 9% AG, 800 FVG (Miles, Average Grade, and Feet of Vertical Gain)

Locals Say: A dose of brutual reality in an arty town. Find It: South of Carbondale on Rt. 51, running east to west. Don't Miss: The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale cycling team churns over this pair of hils on its training rides - look way toward the back and you might see frequent Bicycling contributor Mike Magnuson. Info: siu.edu/~cycling/index.htm.

As I was down in the area for the annual relay foot race, River to River (80 miles splits among 8 runners), I wasn't in the mood to seriously tax myself. On the SIU cycling website, I found exactly what I needed and printed out the directions for "The Quick Spin - Makanda and Back," approximately 17 miles.

The route was easy enough to follow and the traffic was minimal (which was great considering the lack of any shoulder). After a few small rollers on Old Rt. 51, I crossed over Rt. 51, into Makanda. From the tower across 51, it was fairly easy to see why some locals call these the Happy Face Hills (see inset).

Traveling west to east, the hill actually starts out on a small descent that brings you to the base of the climb. It kicks upward immediately and continues going upward around a small turn (not a switchback). Once you crest the hill, there is a small flat and then a nice long descent into the town of Makanda.

Rather than complete the loop back to Carbondale, I thought I'd test the climbing legs going in the opposite direction (and according to Bicycling's description, going east to west is the best way to get the full effect of the pair of hills). The long descent in the other direction was now a long winding ascent, and the initial descent a nice short and steep climb before you hit Rt. 51. This pair of climbs was well worth it even though I had to turn around and tackle the climb back into town.

After a brief respite in what could best be described as downtown Makanda (see inset), I headed down Springer Ridge Road and back to Carbondale.

If you're in and around the area and in need of shop assistance, surprisingly, there are plenty to choose from; all in less than a 100 yard radius (Phoenix Cycles, Carbondale Cycles, and The Bike Surgeon).

Friday, April 20, 2007

On Tap...

I know this is premature, looking at the date, but Oude Granny is going to be incommunicado for a little stretch.

Bald Is Beautiful
You don't have to go far to find out what's On Tap...for this weekend, as you only have to go to either Velonews or Cyclingnews.com to follow the action up Brasstown Bald later today. The climb has fast become the signature of the Tour of Georgia and produced some memorable mano-y-mano battles:

Grajales v. Armstrong (2004)
Danielson v. Leipheimer (2005)
Danielson v. Landis (2006)

The stage is set for another battle, but not by the contestants I mentioned yesterday. After a more than respectable ride in the ITT, Janez Brajkovic has taken command of this race. Meanwhile, David Canada Gracia lost a little over 2 minutes to Brajkovic. Canada Gracia, a strong climber, will find it extremely difficult, however, to pull back that much time. Instead the American, Christian Vande Velde (CSC) will (and should) have a go at Brajkovic being only 12 seconds in arrears. The easy money is on the Slovenian and Discovery, which pretty much has a stranglehold on this race (the exception being Landis' win last year).

Ardennes On Tap...Quite Literally
The first of the three Ardennes Classics kicks off this weekend with the Amstel Gold Race. Unlike the early Spring Classics, these races are more suited to the all-around cyclists and Grand Tour contenders.

Look for Alejandro Valverde to make a serious effort this weekend as the Amstel is the only one of the Ardennes that he hasn't yet won.

Break in the Weather
It looks like the wintry weather has finally broken in the Northern climates, so go out and test your indoor trained legs this weekend. For those in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, and Seattle areas, at least take a walk to the local theatre to see the opening of the Graeme Obree film, The Flying Scotsman. Click HERE for the Trailer (700K). As for Oude Granny, I'm off to test my legs down in southern Illinois and won't be back till Tuesday. Have a great weekend, and as a friend says, "No Head Winds."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Three Strange Days

The last three days of the Tour of Georgia have been, well, interesting.

Daniele Contrini's Stage 1 win reminded me of a Points or Scratch race in track cycling where there's a prime (pronounced "preem," a prize within a race) involved on certain laps. Usually some of the lesser (less experienced or lacking in form) riders will go hard to collect the primes because they know they can't win the race. In Contrini's case, his team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, is extremely short handed at the moment, not only in this race but overall as their management has had to scramble for riders (they recently signed Jorg Jaksche). If you know you don't have the team to challenge for the overall, what better time to go for a win but on the first stage?

Next, Day 2 saw Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) dupe the sprinters and come up with a big win. In essence, Stevic (like Popovych last year) stole the show from an anticipated mass sprint.

Then yesterday, Stage 3 saw some of the big favorites go almost 30 minutes down in the overall, with Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel) claiming the title of strongest breakaway rider.

Foregone Conclusion
After three stages and with the upcoming climb up Brasstown Bald, the contender list for the overall in the Tour of Georgia has seemingly been pared down to two individuals, and to two ProTour teams: David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval - Prodir) and Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel).

It'll be strangely interesting to see the climbing support both Canada and Brajkovic get from their all-star cast of domestiques:

Saunier Duval - Prodir
Gilberto Simoni
David Millar
Ruebens Bertogliati

Discovery Channel
Levi Leipheimer
Tom Danielson
George Hincapie (see inset; already handling the bidon chores)
(Photo: Photo Sport International)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Katie's Korner

For those who have been following Katie's progression from triathlete to IronGirl on this blog, and tired to track her online during this Monday's Boston Marathon, you probably already know that she chose not to run it. The massive Noreaster that even affected us back in the Midwest was the deciding factor. Given that the Ironman Coeur d'Alene is a couple of months away, our gal Katie really does have "bigger fish to fry."

Boston Gone Bad
For those of you who don't know, I did not run Boston. The weather was terrible which led to decreased motivation. I had to decide to run or not, and as long as I did not cross the start line, I could defer my qualification to next year....

So looks like I will be back in Boston next year.

Yes, I'm bitter. To put that training in and have the weather be shitty, it sucks. It sucks even more sitting in the airport listening to everyone's horror stories. I guess the only good thing...is that they were HORROR stories because the weather was so bad. In the long run, I think I made a good decision. I think I will get more out of it next year. There weren't even any fans out there cheering!! Not even on Heartbreak Hill!

Carla, I don't know what this means in terms of training for this week. Don't take it easy on me...I didn't run 26 miles yesterday! I did run today though....the weather still sucked.

Len: Thanks so much for the coupons....I plan to order something but not sure what. Didn't get the official jacket seeing as I didn't run it. Plan to get that next year. Also, are you still coming in town in 2 weeks? Would love to go for a ride! Or grab a bite with you and Stace.

Just want to say thanks to you all though. It meant so much to get so many encouraging words. I can't tell you how awesome that was. And, despite the weather and the hefty costs of the trip, it meant the world to be able to spend time with my parents and Brandon. That's Priceless!

Finally, Congrats Ame, on qualifying for Boston. We can go together next year!

Love to All,
Let the Ironman training resume....
Katie

Argyle Armada

As reported by Andrew Hood in Velonews, Team Slipstream/Chipotle has earned a wild card entry into the 87th Volta a Cataluyna in Spain (its second European wild card invite this year; Criterium International from the ASO, no less).

Why is this important?

For starters, Cataluyna is on the ProTour racing calendar, and therefore, the 20 ProTour teams will be lining up for it. Its also extremely rare that a wild card spot goes to an American based team. If Oude Granny's memory serves him correctly, the last time a prestigious European race had two US based cycling teams in it was back in the day when Mercury-Viatel lined up with US Postal Service.

Regardless of the possible reason for their inclusion (Slipstream's European base being in Spain), its certainly something for the boys in argyle (and DS Jonathan Vaughters) to raise their arms about. Afterall, it matters more what you do with the opportunity rather than how you got there.

A Wee Bit-O-Fun

Perhaps its due to the lack of sleep from insomnia, but for a moment I thought Tom Boonen was on an ALIAS rerun (at 2am in the morning). Actually, one of the recurring characters, Sark (actor David Anders) on the now defunct show could have been Boonen's twin (a la separated at birth). You decide...

Boonen Brothers?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In the Clear?

If you've read Velonews the past couple of days, you've probably run across a couple of features about Tyler Hamiton (Tinkoff Credit Systems; Photo - Casey Gibson).

Are you happy that he's back in the peloton? Did you think he's served his time (after a two year suspension)?

Or better yet, do you think he should have been suspended to begin with? What!?

Athough Tyler Hamilton's appeal to the Court of Abitration for Sports was denied, many questions (gray areas) linger from a verdict that for most was decided in black and white.

Two years later, Hamilton is "still pretty pissed off," but seems to be looking up the road rather than behind him, "I do try to use it as motivation. I'm certainly still angry which helps me to ride my bike faster."

Tour of Redemption?
The start list for the Tour of Georgia looks more like a tour of redemption as several other formerly suspended riders are in the field:

David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir)
Adam Bergman (Colavita/Sutter Home - Cooking Light)
Kirk O'Bee (Health Net - Maxxis)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Hangover

We're a cycling blog. We write about cycling and cycling related things, but none of us lives in a vacuum.

I had every intent of posting something about bicycle advocacy, my reaction to the recent email plea to write my local Congress person sent by the Floyd Fairness Fund, or even the start of the 5th Tour of Georgia, but the tragedy in Blacksburg, VA has made it all seemingly trivial.

The homepage of the Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) website which was once adorned by the peaceful scene (leave it to me to find a photo with a bicycle in it) above is now a message board with updates, alerts, and podcasts of previous pressers.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good Onya

Break out the vegemite and crack open a Foster's cause its time to get stonkered, an Australian has conquered a giant. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) has become the first Australian ever to win one of the monuments of cycling, Paris-Roubaix.

Photo: AFP

A dust covered O'Grady entered the Roubaix velodrome solo after a long day of being in an early break. He and teammate, Lars Michaelson, who raced his last professional race today, were well postioned upfront to help team leader and last year's Roubaix champion, Fabian Cancellara, should he need it.

However, with about 30km left to race, Cancellara was no longer able to keep pace with a chase group that included Tom Boonen. Stuey was then given the green light by Scott Sunderland, CSC's Director Sportif, to pursue the victory. He made the most of his opportunity as he simply powered away from the lead group and was never seriously challenged.

O'Grady has been on form since he began his season. Whether he was in the role of being the consummate teammate or just wasn't fortunate enough, today's victory came at a much needed time for this true professional.

So, good onya, Stuey!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Flying Scotsman

Can you believe it? Hollywood has finally thrown its weight behind a cycling movie, and its not even the story of Lance Armstrong. On Friday, April 20th, The Flying Scotsman will open in select cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle) around the US, with a limited nationwide release in May.

Directly from the movie's website:
"Based on a remarkable true story, The Flying Scotsman is a heart-warming and compelling film which follows the turbulent life of cyclist Graeme Obree, who, as an unemployed amateur, broke the World One Hour record on a bike of his own revolutionary design, constructed out of scrap metal and old washing machine parts...The Flying Scotsman is Chariots of Fire meets Rocky meets Shine – on wheels!"

The movie stars Jonny Lee Miller (Hackers, Trainspotting) as Obree; Laura Fraser (A Knight's Tale) as Obree's wife, Anne; Billy Boyd (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) as Obree's friend and manager Malky; and Brian Cox (Braveheart, Troy, The Bourne Supremacy) as Obree's minister Douglas Baxter.

Since all, but Miller (England), are originally from Scotland there won't be any bad renditions of a Scottish accent.

So what's On Tap... for next Friday, The Flying Scotsman, unless you were present for the LA premiere in December.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Railroaded

Remember the cartoon Dudley Do-Right?

Remember when his adversary, Snidely Whiplash, would tie up a young maiden and place her across railroad tracks and leave her to her demise?

Can’t remember that far back, huh?

Alright, how about when Owen Wilson’s character, Jedediah, tied up Ben Stiller (Larry Daley) and tried to run him over with a train in the movie, Night at the Museum?

Replace Ben Stiller, or the young maiden, with Floyd Landis these days and you’ll finally understand the saying about “being railroaded.”

The latest news regarding inapproriate document request and the remaining Tour B-samples has simply validated my point regarding these athletic governing body arbitration tribunals. There isn’t a semblance of jurisprudence in the arbitration process.

USADA, WADA, or any governing body isn’t concerned with Floyd’s case, only their own. Meaning they aren’t concerned with weighing evidence, which may reveal “truths” in this or any other matter, but only in winning the case and justifying their reasoning.

In the matter of the remaining B-samples, USADA has essentially given the Chatenay Malabry lab the answer key to the final exam. Part of Landis’ defense hinges on the inadequacies and inappropriate behavior of the lab’s methodology, equipment, and personnel. By allowing the lab to test the remaining samples, USADA is allowing them to clean up their processes. So when the allegations of mislabeling, misinterpretation, and unethical conduct arise from Landis’ lawyers, USADA can now say, “Well we had them run numerous other samples and saw no fault with their processes, equipment, or personnel.”

To all those who are supporters of Floyd, that light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train.

And unfortunately, there’s no Dudley Do-Right to come and save the day on May 14th.

On Tap...

Roubaix, Roubaix, Roubaix...
This weekend its all about the Queen of the Classics, Paris - Roubaix. Missing is American George Hincapie, whose annual run at the podium is compelling enough reason to watch the race. But with all the recent carnage in the past week coupled with injuries to some of the pre-race favorites, this year's Roubaix could be anyone's to win. Gent-Wevelgem winner and E3 podium placer, Marcus Burkhardt, will be riding a wave of confidence that could possibly vault him past the likes of Boonen and Cancellara. While the shadow of Ronde winner, Alessandro Ballan, looms even larger having skipped Gent. Can Tom Boonen bounce back from his header during Flanders? Can Fabian Cancellara repeat his dominant ride from last year? Is this the year a Spaniard, Juan Antonio Flecha, snatches the crown jewel?

Translation: "One Day In Hell"

The route has been updated but remains relatively the same, tortuous. A new cobbled section has been added. Named after a past Roubaix winner and current Française de Jeux Director Sportif, Marc Madiot, it will mark the 13th cobbled section of 28 on the day. Strangely, I can feel both my teeth clattering and my bones vibrating just sitting here thinking about the pave. Fortunately for the riders, it looks as if the pave may be bone dry, which means choking on dust rather than riding in cyclocross conditions.

Watch it LIVE on Cycling.tv or catch the Versus coverage that begins at 5pm EST. For internet coverage, follow it on Cyclingnews.com.

Misery Loves Company
Having a crisis and feel as if you need to be a part of what your watching, but don't really want to ride outside in the cold, then delve into A Sunday in Hell. This documentary of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix follows the battle between Merckx, Maartens, De Vlaeminck, and Moser.

From Holly Ordway (DVDTalk.com):
"The cover copy on the case of A Sunday in Hell describes it as 'arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling,' and it's no exaggeration. A Sunday in Hell is that rare and delightful creature, a documentary that offers a perceptive and interesting introduction to cycling for viewers who are new to the sport, while at the same time providing a great viewing experience for those who are already fans."

Happy, Funny, Bike Film
Is all the above a little too much right now? In dire need of a pick me up rather than being reminded about one of Dante's layers of Hell by the weather. Then what better bike related film to choose from the ROLL Film library than The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Granny's equivalent to a bowl of chicken soup, and the perfect remedy to winter cycling malaise.

What Borzo ("the bike guy") says:
One of the finest touches of the film, at least from a bicyclist's perspective, is how the bike (and his lack of a car) helps to establish who Andy is: frugal, sensible, gentle and unassuming. Notice how he handles his bike, obeys traffic signs, wears his helmet, and even signals his turns. More...

What Strauss ("the movie guy") says:
After a little over a year of reviewing bicycle films, the one constant I've observed is that Hollywood believes that normal people do not ride bikes. There are only four types of characters allowed to ride on the big screen (1) an athlete trying to win the big race, (2) someone who is poverty stricken and whose bicycle allows him or her to work, (3) a kid around the age of eleven, and (4) a nerd, geek, dweeb, etc. More...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Left My Heart In...

Santa Rosa?

Actually it was more like my legs.

Eleven days. I have to keep reminding myself it was only 11 days ago. But right now, 11 days seems like a lifetime ago.

As I write this, looking out on yet another cold, gray and cloudy Michigan day, my spirits are at least buttressed by the memory of riding around in short sleeves and shorts, making new riding buddies, and drinking up barrels of amazing scenery (as well as a lot of good wine).

The Bike
It seemed as if I wasn't going to be as fortunate with obtaining a bike as the last time I had cycling wanderlust, but things aren't often what they seem. After a good lead and some calling around, I ended up renting a bike from Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg, CA (see the latest Shop-Boy). The rental was a replica of the old reliable steed that had served the Triple Crankset so well in France, Trek's 5200. John, the owner of the shop, set me up with some old LOOK pedals and replaced my cleats, as I forgot my Keo pedals back home. Aside from that, the setup was standard Trek; Bontrager wheels and parts throughout coupled with Shimano's Ultegra gruppo (including yes, a triple crankset).

The Ride - The Land of Levi
Besides being the current hometown of my good friend, Mundi (short for Edmundo), Santa Rosa is better known in cycling circles for being the land of Levi Leipheimer. During the off season, Levi can be seen traversing the local roadways, often testing himself up Mt. Tamalpais or motor-training behind his wife's, Odessa, scooter.

For the past two years, Santa Rosa has even been used as a finishing/starting town for stages of the Amgen Tour of California. As such, I was more than eager to venture out. With bike in tow, we headed out to meet my riding buddies for the day. The expectation of having a 6 to 8 rider group quickly changed as we were pared down to 4 by the time we set off.

Brad, Anne Marie (aka n-ANNE-y), and Fiona, decided to take me on one of their local loops, which would include Sonoma Mountain Road. With few training miles in my legs (none of which were specifically set up for climbing), I had my trepidations about my form as I had definitely been following the Jan Ullrich school of off-season training (perpetually in need of losing 7-8 kilos). However, I had my ace in the hole, the triple, in case I really struggled.

Fan(s) Lined The Street On Our Departure

After cycling through some neighborhoods (like the retirement community of Oakmont), the road began to turn upward. We were met at the base of the first part of the climb by several participants of an April Fool's Day foot race; most of whom looked fresher at the end of their run (up and down a mountain) than I had earlier in the day (hhmm, was the joke on me, and why wasn't anyone letting me in on it?).

Sonoma Mountain Road had its share of tough inclines, but overall it was balanced out by some great descents and flat sections. On some of the steeper portions, the screaming of my legs and lungs was similarly balanced out by the serenity of the scenery. Surprisingly, I never even thought about using my granny gears (perhaps my form was actually better than what my namesake implies). Midway through the ride, I found out why motorists weren't much of a issue, as the road was partially closed due to what's described as a "geotechnical" road closure (see below).

Not Much To Look At...

Geotechnical Road Closure...Was That A 5.8? Just Ground Shifting

After looping back on Bennett Valley Rd. we ended up in Spring Lake Park (see below) before completing our ride. I couldn't have asked for a better ride, nicer weather, or better company to see me through the day. For Fiona, the day ended on our return as she had to work. The rest of us made our way back to Healdsburg to return the bike and to grab a late lunch. The afternoon was capped off by burritos and a trip to the Alderbrook vineyard for good wine, conversation, and some running around their picnic area. What a great day! Perhaps 2Pac said it best, California Love (mp3, contains explicit lyrics)

Brad, Fiona, Anne Marie, Granny


Future Wrench? Brand New Cyclist?

Shop-Boy

Vintage
As it pertains to wine, “vintage,” is used to describe a wine’s excellence and its origins (year and vineyard or district). It’s also the perfect word to describe Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg, CA.

As most bike shops go, its hard to qualify it as such. There are no bikes for sales, merely rentals, and there’s no wrenching done (besides the occasional maintenance done on the rentals). So how does Wine Country Bikes find its way into a shop review?

Although it doesn’t have the services you’d expect from your daily shop, WCB certainly fulfills a niche for those visiting the area. The shop accommodates those who want to participate in their wine country experience, offering not only bikes and necessary equipment (like helmets), but also a variety of guided tours. It has rentals for the ambitious, Trek’s 5200 and Pilot, and for the recreational, Trek’s 7300 Hybrid and tandems (the latter might actually fall under the ambitious category for some). The shop also carries both men’s and women’s apparel, select equipment, and a line of functional cycling furniture (made from bike parts). Perhaps a more poignant moniker for this shop would be “bike station;” it gives you what you “need” (a bike, a changing area, showers, maps, and the discretion to purchase a souvenir of your trip) while leaving the “wanting” not to material things but to the experiences.

As such, it definitely passes Oude Granny’s “smell test” for a shop. As far as its owners, John and Heather Mastrianni, they are more than qualified (even more so than some who own traditional shops) to meet any of your biking needs. Their bios are directly from their website.

John spent 25 years in the bike business and held every job imaginable; from bike assembler to mechanic and service manager to shop owner. "When I wasn't selling and servicing bikes I was riding them: racing on the pro circuit, touring in Europe - I even spent a year working as a bike messenger in NYC."

Heather is the driving creative force behind Wine Country Bikes and "she's not afraid of color!" Since retiring from a professional cycling career, that included completing the Women's Tour de France three times and victories in major European and American races, her irrepressible energy has poured into her artwork and Wine Country Bikes. Step into our Touring Center and you'll be entering a 2500 sq. foot piece of art in the making.

Heather Between Her Totems

Is This Heaven?

Its San Francisco.
San Francisco? I could've sworn it was heaven.

Having lived in Chicago for the past 13 years, I felt like Ray Liotta's Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams coming out of the cornfield for the first time as I walked in and around the streets of San Francisco. With the well demarcated bike lanes, the accessibility of rapid transport (like the BART) for bike commuters, and the well established messenger community (inset), all juxtaposed next to the surrounding scenery of Bay and bridges, it seemed like Bike Heaven to me. I didn't need to read the San Francisco Bike Coalition's annual report card proclaiming the city as one of the friendliest for cyclists (in the large city category). I was sold.

But, as in the movie, heaven turns out to be a cornfield in Iowa, and Bike Heaven ends up being just like any large city, not completely devoid of its ugly incidents (video) .

Is there a heaven?
Oh yeah, its the place where dreams come true.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mystery Meat

If the semi-Classic, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, is known as "the revenge" (for those that missed out on winning Het Volk) then Gent-Wevelgem has to be the mystery meat in between two great pieces of rye, sourdough, dill rye, or whatever bread you've chosen for your favorite sandwich.

No disrespect to this year's champion, T-Mobile's young Marcus Burghardt, or to those champions past (George Hincapie included), but Gent falls somewhere in between being "the revenge" for The Ronde and a tune up for Paris-Roubaix, two Classics monuments. Are the parcours tremendous, the tradition rich, the contestants of caliber? Yes, yes and yes! But, I can't help but feel that Gent-Wevelgem's notoriety is a by-product of falling midweek between such giants. If the race fell anywhere else on the racing calendar, would anyone care about it?

Cranky? Yes. Surly? Possibly.

Photo: Reuters

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Katie's Korner

Snakes in the Pool!?
It's sounds like the perfect title for a sequel to Samuel L. Jackson's campy and badly titled movie, "Snakes on the Plane." But its acutally, what our IronGirl, Katie, experienced, so to speak, in her latest pool training session.

So there I was, swimming away, when "serpent man" decides to get in the lane next to me. He is wearing a skin tight, neon blue speedo and traveling at warp speed. I casually roll my eyes in my goggles and continue on. He did about....4 laps, and then was gone. Goodbye serpent man.

I guess I shouldn't talk about other's swimsuits when mine is holding in by a thread. I really need to get a new suit. Anyone with recommendations? I like the 2 piece combo for training purposes.

I had a practice run at changing my bike tire yesterday.....it only took me 4 hours. I have some work to do (no really, it took 4 hours).

Boston Marathon is next weekend. Please don't expect great things from this race. I look forward to experiencing the party and enjoying the "ride"...not all about the destination. My confidence isn't that great right now as I did a run this morning and my stomach was terrible. Oh well.

Sue: Did you get that email I sent you from the Boston Marathon. It will be giving you web updates on where I'm at in the run...if you are around to check it. Just thought you would be interested.

If mother nature would get her act together, I could ride outside. Something about 15 degree wind chill isn't screaming 3 hour bike ride. Maybe it's just me.

Update Over,
Katie

The Purveyor of Useless Info
If Oude Granny were to have a byline, a super hero moniker, or a epitaph, it would be the above. Thankfully, some of my useless knowledge actually comes in handy every so often.

So let's start out with suits? Oh, jes! Pleese do a-bue-lit-a. (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

I can't speak to the specifics, or the value of a one piece versus a two piece, as that's often a personal preference, much like choosing say whether to go with compact cranks or a triple (alright I'll have to admit it, Granny actually uses FSA's compact cranks and not a triple). But, what I can do is drop some of my personal knowledge about some brands that make triathlon apparel.

If our IronGal is simply looking for training swimwear, then she can't go wrong with TYR's aptly named Luau Dimaxback Workout Bikini. TYR (pronounced tier) has been in existence since 1985 and is named after the norse god of warriors. The company was founded by an Olympic swimmer, and as such has catered specifically to swimmer's needs for much of its existence. But with the advent of multisport, it has also diversified its product lines.

However, given that the Ironman Coeur d'Alene is a little over 2 months away, it might be beneficial for Katie to look at some triathlon specific clothing (not that she hasn't already), or some two piece suits that might fit under her wetsuit and double as her running and cycling apparel. Two companies that make some excellent triathlon gear are Zoot Sports and Orca (the latter also makes some of the best wetsuits around, but has often been a tough brand for some women's psyche to handle; its a harsh judgemental world out there).

From TYR to Tire
Honestly, 4 hours?? No worries, we've got your back. In the next couple of days, we'll be creating and uploading an instructional video on the seemingly ubiquitous YouTube for Katie. But in the interim, below are some abbreviated instuctions.

1. For side pull brakes, find the lever and release your brakes (on center pull or cantilever brakes, you may have to loosen the anchor bolt to release your brakes, but you can often loosen the brake enough by simply turning the adjusting barrel).

2. Unlock your quick release skewer. Loosen the skewer by turning the skewer's nut, not the skewer's quick release lever, as is popular with most people.

3. Take out your tire lever to help remove the wheel. If you don't have a tire lever, removal of the tire can be accomplished by completely deflating the it (if it isn't already) and using both thumbs to press laterally and vertically to get the beaded side of the tire up and over the rim. Use the lever, or insert your fingers under the tire, and work it or them around the wheel's circumference completely taking one side of the tire off the rim.

4. Given that you are in a race, its easiest not to take the tire off the rim completely. Having just one side of the tire off is sufficient. Reach inside and pull the deflated tube out and insert your spare. Remember to insert the valve through the rim's valve hole first. Once again, use your fingers to work (tuck) the tube in and around the tire.

5. Now its just a matter of replacing the one side of the tire back onto the rim. Most of this step can be done with your hands. Make sure that no part of the tube is caught between the rim and the outer part of the tire, or you'll get what is known as a "pinch flat" when you go to inflate the tire.

6. Replace the wheel, tighten the quick release skewer, lock the skewer, inflate the tire, and then close the brake's release lever.

Done!
Estimated elapsed time: Just a little under 4 hours! Just kidding!

A Classic
Since I'm a huge Red Sox fan, it doesn't take a twist of my arm to wax poetic about Beantown, the Boston Marathon, or Patriot's Day. If you haven't been to Boston on this day of days, its well worth the spectacle.

For me, its usually gone a little something like this:
See marathon start - check
Jump on T, go to Fenway - check
Game ends, see the marathon finish - check

For those of you new to the Triple Crankset, Katie has been contributing to the site as she prepares for the upcoming Ironman Coeur d'Alene. For those of you who have been following Katie, especially those of you who can't make it to Boston and root her on, you can track her progress on the internet on Monday April 16th, her Boston Marathon bib number is 7844.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday Morning Advocate

Advocacy: active support of an idea or cause etc.

Let's face it, there's not too many people out there that say they're happy when their weekend ends and readily welcome the return to work on Monday.

So on Mondays, the TC is going to try and challenge you. We'll bring you articles we've read, stories we've heard, or groups we know of that advocate cycling or use cycling to advocate their chosen cause. Think of it as saving the world, someone else, and/or yourself, one pedal stroke at a time.

As a TC reader, here's your opportunity to contribute. If you know of anyone, any group, or have some story you'd like to share, drop us a line (click "email me" under Granny's profile).

Ride A Bike/Make the Streets Safer for Cycling
In the March 26th-April 2nd special issue of US News and World Report (yes, we're a diverse group here at the TC, we do read more than cycling rags), Making America Better, Andrew Curry portrays two countries, Germany and the Netherlands, that have made cycling a priority. It's amazing that a country like Germany, which produces some of the nicest cars on the planet, has made cycling popular with commuters. For instance, in the city of Berlin, every 10th trip is made by bicycle. The city also boast more than 500 miles of bike lanes! America's equivalent is Tucson with 325 miles of bike lanes (compare that with a larger metropolitan city, Chicago, which hopes to have 315 miles of bike lanes by 2015).

In the Netherlands, cycling is even more popular with commuters, where city planners have the problem of creating space to accomodate over 20,000 bicycles left at the Utrecht train station on a daily basis.

It'd be easy for me right here to say, "Now go ride your bike to work." But with Americans its never that simple. We still need to learn to share the road with cyclist. Granny's first post, Urban Cyclist, examined the almost warfare like attitudes that pervade cyclists and motorists alike. The latest hot button on this issue revolves around a recent Critical Mass ride in San Francisco, where cyclists attacked a mini-van driver who had earlier knocked a cyclist off his bike and continued to drive onward.

Can't we all just get along!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

World Track Wrap

Twice As Nice...
It has been said that its easier to get to the top than to stay there. Regardless, Sarah Hammer, now knows the feeling from both sides of the fence as she was able to repeat in the 3km Individual Pursuit.

For those who don't have a velodrome nearby or have never ventured onto the pine, the pursuit is considered one of track cycling's endurance events. But that can even be a misnomer as the speeds can be very fast. The event I liken it most to is the 800m in track, where you need the speed of a sprinter, but the endurance of a 1-2 miler.

The individual pursuit is held in the men's (4km) and women's (3km) category. The team pursuit is held only in the men's category, at the same distance. A rider, or team of four, starts at opposite ends of the track and attempts to cover the distance as quickly as possible. If there's a huge disparity between the competitors the race looks almost like greyhounds chasing a mechanical rabbit around the dog track. If an individual or team catches and passes the other before the covered distance, the race is over.

Other Champions include:
Men's:
Chris Hoy (GBR) - Kilo & Keirin; Theo Bos (NED) - Sprints; Alois Kankovsky (CZE) - Omnium; Bradley Wiggins (GBR)- Indiviual Pursuit; Kam Po Wong (CHN) - Scratch; Joan Llaneras (ESP) - Points; Mickaël Bourgain and Arnaud Tournant (FRA) - Team Sprints; Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli (SWI) - Madison; Great Britain - Team Pursuit.

Women's:
Victoria Pendelton (GBR) - Sprints & Keirin; Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso (CUB) - Scratch; Katherine Bates (AUS) - Points; Victoria Pendelton and Shanaze Reade (GBR) - Team Sprints.

Ballan-rina

Alessandro Ballan will never be accused of being Lance Armstrong, dancing on the pedals. But the strong man from Veneto, Italy looked nimble enough on the bergs today, winning the 91st edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen with a decisive attack on the Kapelmuur.

You may be wondering, what the heck is a guy from southern Europe doing winning a northern Spring Classic? What's next, dogs and cats living together? Would it make much difference if you knew he came from northern Italy?

Its what these one day races, these Classics, are all about. It doesn't matter what country you come from or where you train. It only matters who is the strongest on the day, and who doesn't run into any bad luck (as these two things usually go hand-in-hand in separating who wins or loses). Plus, its not that dramatic when you think about it, as another Italian, Andrea Tafi, made his living on the cobbles, winning the Ronde in 2002 and Roubaix in 1999.

The Rebirth of The Eternal Second
From the early 60's to the mid-70s, Raymond Poulidor, became known as l'eternel second; never wearing the Malliot Jaune, finishing second 3 times and third 4 times at the Tour de France (mainly to 5 time winner Jacques Anquetil).

Enter Leif Hoste.

Hoste is quickly becoming Poulidor's Spring Classics equivalent, finishing 2nd in the Ronde in 2007, 2006, & 2004. His biggest win to date has been the 2006 Three Days of De Panne (strangely enough, an honor Ballan acheived this year). The comparison may not be fair, as Hoste still has a lot of races ahead of him. But one thing is for certain, Hoste at least has assured himself a place on next year's Ronde poster, just like this year.

Photo:
Lampre/Fondital

Friday, April 06, 2007

On Tap...

The Ronde
There are just some things in life on which you don't have to expound. In cycling, the giants are recognized by an acronym or a single mention, like L-B-L, MSR, Roubaix, and the Tour (although there are always two other Grand Tours on the calendar, the Tour de France is "The Tour"). The Tour of Flanders, Ronde van Vlaanderen, or simply The Ronde is such a giant.

For those of you who have never paid much attention to The Ronde, or the other Northern Spring Classics for that matter, the 91st edition of the race is the perfect introduction to single day racing, cobbled roads, and the hardmen of cycling.

The start list is shaping up as a who's who of cycling, led by Quick-Step's Tom Boonen. Some of the other favorites are:

Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati - Lampre-Fondital
Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady - CSC
Stijn Devolder - Discovery Channel
Leif Hoste - Predictor-Lotto
Peter Van Petegem, Paolo Bettini - Quick Step
Steffen Wesemann - Weisehof-Felt
Filippo Pozatto - Liquigas
Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire - Rabobank
Roger Hammond, Servais Knaven- T-Mobile
Nick Nuyens - Confidis
Baden Cooke - Unibet.com
Philippe Gilbert - Francaise des Jeux

Oude Granny can't remember when or if this race has ever come down to a bunch sprint, as the strongest are usually separated out after 259km and 18 climbs. It can be seen Sunday April 8th, on Cycling.tv LIVE or on Versus at 7pm EST.

Snow Day
How thoroughly depressing. I come back from sunny California, having ridden around in Santa Rosa (more on that later), to 30 degree weather and snow. So my pick from the ROLL Film archive is the 1948 classic, The Bicycle Thief.

What Borzo ("the bike guy") said:
The Bicycle Thief demonstrates that in some countries and at certain times, bikes were a serious matter. They could mean the difference between a job and no job; bread and no bread. More...

What Strauss ("the movie guy") said:
There was a time when critics considered The Bicycle Thief one of the greatest, if not the greatest film ever made. More...

Granny's Take:
This is one of those films that you should go out and buy. If you can't find the original DVD or don't have a multi-zone DVD player, the Criterium Collection just came out with an NTSC version.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Floyd Fairness Fund on YouTube

The Nike Cycling Psyche

If you wear Nike when you cycle, don't wear out what you already have too fast.
Helen Jung of the Oregonian newspaper in Portland writes that Nike plans to drop most of its cycling apparel and footwear line for consumers as the company narrows its focus to outfitting cycling teams and Nike-endorser athletes.
And if your cycling equation includes Trek, well ... Nike's seven-year relationship with Trek Bicycle Corp., which produces clothing and shoes for cyclists under the shoe company's brand, will not be renewed after it ends this year.
Nike will continue to distribute its Discovery Channel line, Lance Armstrong 10//2 collection, and specialty jerseys.
The pullback was first reported on a local Portland blog bikeportland.org (no, you can't believe everything you read in a blog -- that doesn't apply to this one! -- but blogs are a good place to get a hint of what may be about to happen; mainstream media isn't the only source of information in a 24/4 world in which everyone can be a publisher).
The blog concluded that pullback reflects the difficulty Nike has had making a name for itself among established cycling brands such as Sidi, Shimano and Castelli.
And, Jung reports, the move also highlights Nike's corporate soul-searching of late as it reorganizes to focus on its core consumer businesses of running, basketball, soccer, men's training, women's fitness and sport culture.
Nike has developed cycling footwear and apparel for years, but it launched its most aggressive effort after cancer survivor Lance Armstrong's first Tour de France win in 1999. At that time, Nike and Trek began discussions about jointly producing cycling apparel and footwear.
The deal was signed in 2000 and the first Swoosh-branded products from Trek began appearing in 2001.
Nike benefited greatly from its endorsement by Our Boy Lance and from Trek's expertise. But Armstrong retired from racing in 2006 and, in the end, even his celebrity wasn't enough.
Maybe that's something that people in the sport should be thinking about rather than the usual doping sideshow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rest in Peace?

I suppose we ought to allow Jan Ullrich to rest in peace, right? After all, the guy has retired.
However ...
A DNA sample taken from 1997 Tour de France champion has been matched to blood bags seized in the Spanish doping scandal, German prosecutors said Tuesday.
"We found nine blood samples that we were able to compare with the blood samples," Friedrich Apostel, a spokesman for prosecutors in Bonn, said during a television interview. "We were able to establish the identity of Ullrich."
Ullrich retired from cycling on Feb. 26 after his name surfaced in Operation Puerto, which led to him being excluded from last Tour. He has denied using any banned substances.
Apostel said the comparison established the link "without a doubt."
In a brief statement posted on Ullrich's website, the cyclist's lawyer said he did not rule out manipulation.
I think Bad Boy Floyd has already used that one, Jan.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Le Grand Depart

As I've mentioned, I plan to be in London on July 7-8 for the prologue and first stage of the Tour de France.
But how about this for an option?
The London organizers are seeking volunteers for the Tour's first visit to the United Kingdom since 1994.
Transport for London (TfL) is looking for thousands of volunteers to help marshal the race. For their efforts, the volunteers will enjoy prime viewing locations of the peloton.
"Volunteer marshals will be stationed in prime viewing positions along the route, and will get a rare chance to get up close and personal with all the action," according to a TfL press release. "There are almost 1,000 junctions to marshal and more than two million people expected to line the streets. Volunteers are needed along the route to assist with managing crossing points, controlling and assisting the crowds of spectators, and ensuring that cars don't try to use the closed roads."
The Tour de France begins in London with an opening ceremony on Friday July 6 in Trafalgar Square.
The prologue takes place on Saturday July 7 at Whitehall before racing eight miles through London and ending on The Mall.
Stage 1 begins at The Mall and runs through London to Greenwich, then to Dartford and Gravesend before finishing in Canterbury.
For more information, check out the London site.

A New Challenge For OLB?

This blog debuted on March 29, 2006, so our first anniversary passed rather quietly about 500-plus entries later. Maybe we're just getting used to ourselves!

Starting it was easy. Maintaining it, and building a small but faithful audience, has been a challenge. And speaking of new challenges, how about this one from Our Boy Lance:
“I have done some speed skating lately with my friend Chad Hedrick (pictured), and I really love it. I don’t know how far I can go, but this new challenge is really driving me.”

Hedrick says Armstong can have great success if he starts training.
“Lance could win the world all-round championships in 2-3 years. He has an enormous potential as an athlete. Of course, he would need hard work, but anything is possible.”

Monday, April 30, 2007

"He Gone!"

As part of my cable "Extra Inning" In Demand baseball package, I get just about every Major League Baseball game. I'm a lifetime Detroit Tigers fan (I can finally admit as much proudly again), and they've already played several games against the Chicago White Sox, who have a very homer-istic, annoying annoucing team.

When someone on the other team strikes out, they're favorite call is, "He Gone!" I don't like it much, but after today, all you can say about FORMER Discovery Channel team rider Ivan Basso is, "He Gone!"

Discovery Channel cast Basso aside Monday, and professional cycling is a sadder place. Of course, it professional cycling has been a sad place since Basso and dozens of other riders were implicated in the Operation Puerto doping affair.

I won't even get into the Bad Boy Floyd business with the Tour de France, doping agencies, L'Equipe (the French sports newspaper that also runs the Tour) ... Well, you get the idea. Did the French invent the term "conflict of interest"?

Discovery says they continue to stand by the 29-year-old Tour of Italy champion, who was supposed to lead their Tour bid in a couple month. But with support like that, you don't even need enemies like L'Equipe.

Basso supposedly asked to be released from his contract. "This was a very difficult decision, for me and my family, but I think it is the right thing to do," said Basso.

I'm glad somebody thinks they're doing the right thing.

"The team is trying to find a new sponsor and win bike races, and my situation is a distraction to both of those goals," Basso added. "It is important that everyone knows this was 100 percent my decision. Nobody asked me to leave."

Well, maybe just the French.

Cycling is such a mess now. I want to watch and enjoy the races, but since the summer, it just hasn't been possible. Normally, I love the classics. I look forward to my cycling magazines arriving in the mail. I keep thinking I will get over it, but all these months later, nothing has changed.

Granny has taken the right approach, enjoying the bike for the sake of the bike. We probably don't need Ivan Basso, but somehow, great riders are inspirations when they perform gloriously on their machines.

Perhaps the glory will return. But right now, Basso is gone. Ulrich is gone. Bad Boy Floyd is gone. Our Boy Lance is long gone. And professional cycling ... well, it's gone.

Katie's Korner

HELLLO KATIE!
You can call me toaster strudel! It sounds much cuter than burnt toast, but both apply equally as well. I am burnt! But I did cross another landmark today...92 miles on the bike in 5 hours and 20 minutes. I then followed that up with a 20 minute transition run.

The run felt much better this week after the bike than last week. I also think I got a good feeling for the foods (how much I need to carry). The worst part was how sore my neck got. My legs were pretty tired at the end.

So far, 3 hours post (ride & run), and no headache. Tried salt pills (1 at mile 80, 1 at mile 90) and they seemed to help. Still not sure about the honey goo's, as they may aggravate my stomach. The weather was beautiful, and although I sunscreened up this morning.....I forgot to put it on the back of my hands!! Oops! I guess I was caught red handed! (Oh Boy!).

I just tried to nap but my brain is racing....I dont' know why? I am really tired but couldn't fall asleep. I think I'll go get some food.

Stace, it was so much fun riding with/seeing you yesterday. Let's pick another date now to get together...even if only for a bit!

Len, thanks for coming "salsa dancing" with us last night. You are so much fun! Wish you lived closer!

B, Good Luck on Finals! You'll do AWESOME! I Love You!

HAPPPPPYYYY BIRTHDAY TO MICHELLE AND STACIE!!!

And now off to aloe my hands....
Katie

Update: I had intended to join our IronGal on her latest long training ride, but a partial tear to the gastrocnemius muscle prevented me from saving Katie from the sheer boredom of riding alone. Oude Granny is getting old (quite literally as I also celebrated a birthday last week). For those in the Barrington/Lake Zurich area, we'll try to schedule some group rides once I'm up and going.

From this Friday's On Tap..., the original limited opening date for the movie, The Flying Scotsman, was pushed back to May 4th. My apologies to any and all of you who have wanted to see the film, and were thrown off by the misinformation from this blog.

Monday Morning Advocate

Welcome the second installment of the Morning Advocate. In this feature we'll share with you articles we've read, stories we've heard, or groups we know of that advocate cycling or use cycling to advocate their chosen cause. Think of it as saving the world, someone else, and/or yourself, one pedal stroke at a time. Today, we'll look at the Lance Armstrong Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

No doubt that you've seen the April 9th Newsweek by now. But 10 years after the Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded, where do we really stand in the fight against the second leading killer?

A couple of years ago, the battle had a prominent face in Lance Armstrong and although he hasn't shyed away from the fight, he's certainly been less visible to the general population with his retirement. That's not a criticism against LA, but more of a warning to all; the lack of a crystallizing point person doesn't mean that the various forms of cancer have also retired or gone away.

Last year, T-o-03 brought up the following point and its appropriate to do so again.

Did you consider your LIVESTRONG wristband as just another "fad" like the Pet Rock (you do have to take a wayback machine for that reference)? Did you just want to be en vogue and feel a part of the US Postal/Discovery Channel army? Did you wear the band because it held a deeper meaning? Now look around, are the same people who were never without the band a couple of years ago still wearing it?

Hopefully it just means that more people have become personally involved, and become real advocates for the cause.

As far as LA goes, he's recently approached Capitol Hill with the same zeal as when he held a stranglehold on the peloton stating "We Have to Be Ruthless!"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turning a Pedal In Anger...

Have you ever wondered what Phil Liggett or Paul Sherwen mean when they throw out the above expression? The image below (Photo: AFP) says it all.


After a few near misses this year, and barely missing out on a feat (the Ardennes treble) accomplished by his countryman, Davide Rebellin, Danilo Di Luca, has captured his first significant win of the season and claimed the one that got away, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, from him in 2005.

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Tap...

Water, Water, Everywhere...
Its been well chronicled that 75% of the earth is covered by water, with 3% of that water being fresh water.

Our cycling analogy; the boys over at Gerolsteiner currently own 66.7% of the Ardennes Classics and are looking to add the remaining 33.3% come Sunday.

In 2004, Davide Rebellin completed the unprecedented Ardennes triple; winning the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This year, Rebellin and his Gerolsteiner team are poised for the hat trick, as Stefan Schumacher claimed Amstel and Rebellin, La Fleche Wallonne.

Gerolsteiner's main competition should come in the form of two riders, the Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and the Italian, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas). Interestingly enough, both were able to win two-thirds of the Ardennes Classics in 2006 and 2005, respectively.

So what's On Tap...possibly Gerolsteiner water at this Sunday's running of Liege-Bastogne-Liege; the mother (quite literally, as its nickname of La Doyenne means "old woman" in French) of cycling's monuments (it first running was in 1892).

Again, watch it LIVE on Cycling.tv, or see the re-cap on Versus. To follow it on the internet, tune into Cyclingnews.com.

Traveling Blogger
Oude Granny is on the move again, as I will be in Barrington, IL, for a group ride (where I'll also be checking in on our IronGal in training, Katie). During my short stay in the Land of Lincoln, I also hope to take in The Flying Scotsman. Look for a review next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Katie's Korner

Yada, Yada, Yada...
Blah, Blah, and Blah weather. Fog and drizzle, 51 degrees. Blah!

But that's okay....I have finally come out of my slight depression from not running Boston (Marathon) and I am ready to rock and roll.

A great new finding are these honey packets that are intended to work like the goo packets! I hope they work for fueling on the bike/run because that would help a lot.

Today, I did a longer run off of the bike and it felt pretty good. Carla has been such a help in instructing me in what to do. My problem, I always default to running because it is the easiest thing, just walk out the door. However, I can't just do that.

Also, I started back going to see the Chinese doctor. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Guo is amazing! He has helped out so many people in my family...and it is all natural. Don't ask me how it works...but it does and it's much better that loading up on drugs. Granted, I am taking about 50 herb pills each day, but that's different!

I did go to him a while back but wasn't patient enough...You see, herbs don't work like pharmaceuticals, they take time. So I have told myself that I will be patient and maybe this will be the solution to my stomach issues.

Back to my training...I have noticed a smidgeon of an ache at my medial right calcaneus...and I am always fearful that it is indicative of plantar fascitis. I have been icing, rolling out my ITB and working it good...so hopefully it does not come to fruition (For those readers not fully acquainted with our IronGal in training, Katie is a Physical Therapist, so the lingo just kinda flows).

Last week did a 2 hour run on Saturday and a 4.5 hour bike ride with a transition run on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and they both felt great...except for the transition run. My stomach got all cramped up and my legs felt like they were stuck in mud.

Okay Enough!
Katie

Katie is the Triple Crankset's resident IronGirl in training. We have been following her progress as she trains for the the Ford Ironman Coeur d' Alene triathlon on June 24th.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One Down...99 to Go

In the March 2007 edition of Bicycling magazine, the "100 Best Climbs in America" were featured. Whether I totally agree with some of their selections is another matter, but I was fortunate enough to be in the southern Illinois area to ride one of them, Makanda Road Hills.

The description of the climb was as followed:
Makanda Road Hills
Makanda, Illinois
1.75 M, 9% AG, 800 FVG (Miles, Average Grade, and Feet of Vertical Gain)

Locals Say: A dose of brutual reality in an arty town. Find It: South of Carbondale on Rt. 51, running east to west. Don't Miss: The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale cycling team churns over this pair of hils on its training rides - look way toward the back and you might see frequent Bicycling contributor Mike Magnuson. Info: siu.edu/~cycling/index.htm.

As I was down in the area for the annual relay foot race, River to River (80 miles splits among 8 runners), I wasn't in the mood to seriously tax myself. On the SIU cycling website, I found exactly what I needed and printed out the directions for "The Quick Spin - Makanda and Back," approximately 17 miles.

The route was easy enough to follow and the traffic was minimal (which was great considering the lack of any shoulder). After a few small rollers on Old Rt. 51, I crossed over Rt. 51, into Makanda. From the tower across 51, it was fairly easy to see why some locals call these the Happy Face Hills (see inset).

Traveling west to east, the hill actually starts out on a small descent that brings you to the base of the climb. It kicks upward immediately and continues going upward around a small turn (not a switchback). Once you crest the hill, there is a small flat and then a nice long descent into the town of Makanda.

Rather than complete the loop back to Carbondale, I thought I'd test the climbing legs going in the opposite direction (and according to Bicycling's description, going east to west is the best way to get the full effect of the pair of hills). The long descent in the other direction was now a long winding ascent, and the initial descent a nice short and steep climb before you hit Rt. 51. This pair of climbs was well worth it even though I had to turn around and tackle the climb back into town.

After a brief respite in what could best be described as downtown Makanda (see inset), I headed down Springer Ridge Road and back to Carbondale.

If you're in and around the area and in need of shop assistance, surprisingly, there are plenty to choose from; all in less than a 100 yard radius (Phoenix Cycles, Carbondale Cycles, and The Bike Surgeon).

Friday, April 20, 2007

On Tap...

I know this is premature, looking at the date, but Oude Granny is going to be incommunicado for a little stretch.

Bald Is Beautiful
You don't have to go far to find out what's On Tap...for this weekend, as you only have to go to either Velonews or Cyclingnews.com to follow the action up Brasstown Bald later today. The climb has fast become the signature of the Tour of Georgia and produced some memorable mano-y-mano battles:

Grajales v. Armstrong (2004)
Danielson v. Leipheimer (2005)
Danielson v. Landis (2006)

The stage is set for another battle, but not by the contestants I mentioned yesterday. After a more than respectable ride in the ITT, Janez Brajkovic has taken command of this race. Meanwhile, David Canada Gracia lost a little over 2 minutes to Brajkovic. Canada Gracia, a strong climber, will find it extremely difficult, however, to pull back that much time. Instead the American, Christian Vande Velde (CSC) will (and should) have a go at Brajkovic being only 12 seconds in arrears. The easy money is on the Slovenian and Discovery, which pretty much has a stranglehold on this race (the exception being Landis' win last year).

Ardennes On Tap...Quite Literally
The first of the three Ardennes Classics kicks off this weekend with the Amstel Gold Race. Unlike the early Spring Classics, these races are more suited to the all-around cyclists and Grand Tour contenders.

Look for Alejandro Valverde to make a serious effort this weekend as the Amstel is the only one of the Ardennes that he hasn't yet won.

Break in the Weather
It looks like the wintry weather has finally broken in the Northern climates, so go out and test your indoor trained legs this weekend. For those in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, and Seattle areas, at least take a walk to the local theatre to see the opening of the Graeme Obree film, The Flying Scotsman. Click HERE for the Trailer (700K). As for Oude Granny, I'm off to test my legs down in southern Illinois and won't be back till Tuesday. Have a great weekend, and as a friend says, "No Head Winds."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Three Strange Days

The last three days of the Tour of Georgia have been, well, interesting.

Daniele Contrini's Stage 1 win reminded me of a Points or Scratch race in track cycling where there's a prime (pronounced "preem," a prize within a race) involved on certain laps. Usually some of the lesser (less experienced or lacking in form) riders will go hard to collect the primes because they know they can't win the race. In Contrini's case, his team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, is extremely short handed at the moment, not only in this race but overall as their management has had to scramble for riders (they recently signed Jorg Jaksche). If you know you don't have the team to challenge for the overall, what better time to go for a win but on the first stage?

Next, Day 2 saw Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) dupe the sprinters and come up with a big win. In essence, Stevic (like Popovych last year) stole the show from an anticipated mass sprint.

Then yesterday, Stage 3 saw some of the big favorites go almost 30 minutes down in the overall, with Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel) claiming the title of strongest breakaway rider.

Foregone Conclusion
After three stages and with the upcoming climb up Brasstown Bald, the contender list for the overall in the Tour of Georgia has seemingly been pared down to two individuals, and to two ProTour teams: David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval - Prodir) and Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel).

It'll be strangely interesting to see the climbing support both Canada and Brajkovic get from their all-star cast of domestiques:

Saunier Duval - Prodir
Gilberto Simoni
David Millar
Ruebens Bertogliati

Discovery Channel
Levi Leipheimer
Tom Danielson
George Hincapie (see inset; already handling the bidon chores)
(Photo: Photo Sport International)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Katie's Korner

For those who have been following Katie's progression from triathlete to IronGirl on this blog, and tired to track her online during this Monday's Boston Marathon, you probably already know that she chose not to run it. The massive Noreaster that even affected us back in the Midwest was the deciding factor. Given that the Ironman Coeur d'Alene is a couple of months away, our gal Katie really does have "bigger fish to fry."

Boston Gone Bad
For those of you who don't know, I did not run Boston. The weather was terrible which led to decreased motivation. I had to decide to run or not, and as long as I did not cross the start line, I could defer my qualification to next year....

So looks like I will be back in Boston next year.

Yes, I'm bitter. To put that training in and have the weather be shitty, it sucks. It sucks even more sitting in the airport listening to everyone's horror stories. I guess the only good thing...is that they were HORROR stories because the weather was so bad. In the long run, I think I made a good decision. I think I will get more out of it next year. There weren't even any fans out there cheering!! Not even on Heartbreak Hill!

Carla, I don't know what this means in terms of training for this week. Don't take it easy on me...I didn't run 26 miles yesterday! I did run today though....the weather still sucked.

Len: Thanks so much for the coupons....I plan to order something but not sure what. Didn't get the official jacket seeing as I didn't run it. Plan to get that next year. Also, are you still coming in town in 2 weeks? Would love to go for a ride! Or grab a bite with you and Stace.

Just want to say thanks to you all though. It meant so much to get so many encouraging words. I can't tell you how awesome that was. And, despite the weather and the hefty costs of the trip, it meant the world to be able to spend time with my parents and Brandon. That's Priceless!

Finally, Congrats Ame, on qualifying for Boston. We can go together next year!

Love to All,
Let the Ironman training resume....
Katie

Argyle Armada

As reported by Andrew Hood in Velonews, Team Slipstream/Chipotle has earned a wild card entry into the 87th Volta a Cataluyna in Spain (its second European wild card invite this year; Criterium International from the ASO, no less).

Why is this important?

For starters, Cataluyna is on the ProTour racing calendar, and therefore, the 20 ProTour teams will be lining up for it. Its also extremely rare that a wild card spot goes to an American based team. If Oude Granny's memory serves him correctly, the last time a prestigious European race had two US based cycling teams in it was back in the day when Mercury-Viatel lined up with US Postal Service.

Regardless of the possible reason for their inclusion (Slipstream's European base being in Spain), its certainly something for the boys in argyle (and DS Jonathan Vaughters) to raise their arms about. Afterall, it matters more what you do with the opportunity rather than how you got there.

A Wee Bit-O-Fun

Perhaps its due to the lack of sleep from insomnia, but for a moment I thought Tom Boonen was on an ALIAS rerun (at 2am in the morning). Actually, one of the recurring characters, Sark (actor David Anders) on the now defunct show could have been Boonen's twin (a la separated at birth). You decide...

Boonen Brothers?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In the Clear?

If you've read Velonews the past couple of days, you've probably run across a couple of features about Tyler Hamiton (Tinkoff Credit Systems; Photo - Casey Gibson).

Are you happy that he's back in the peloton? Did you think he's served his time (after a two year suspension)?

Or better yet, do you think he should have been suspended to begin with? What!?

Athough Tyler Hamilton's appeal to the Court of Abitration for Sports was denied, many questions (gray areas) linger from a verdict that for most was decided in black and white.

Two years later, Hamilton is "still pretty pissed off," but seems to be looking up the road rather than behind him, "I do try to use it as motivation. I'm certainly still angry which helps me to ride my bike faster."

Tour of Redemption?
The start list for the Tour of Georgia looks more like a tour of redemption as several other formerly suspended riders are in the field:

David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir)
Adam Bergman (Colavita/Sutter Home - Cooking Light)
Kirk O'Bee (Health Net - Maxxis)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Hangover

We're a cycling blog. We write about cycling and cycling related things, but none of us lives in a vacuum.

I had every intent of posting something about bicycle advocacy, my reaction to the recent email plea to write my local Congress person sent by the Floyd Fairness Fund, or even the start of the 5th Tour of Georgia, but the tragedy in Blacksburg, VA has made it all seemingly trivial.

The homepage of the Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) website which was once adorned by the peaceful scene (leave it to me to find a photo with a bicycle in it) above is now a message board with updates, alerts, and podcasts of previous pressers.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good Onya

Break out the vegemite and crack open a Foster's cause its time to get stonkered, an Australian has conquered a giant. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) has become the first Australian ever to win one of the monuments of cycling, Paris-Roubaix.

Photo: AFP

A dust covered O'Grady entered the Roubaix velodrome solo after a long day of being in an early break. He and teammate, Lars Michaelson, who raced his last professional race today, were well postioned upfront to help team leader and last year's Roubaix champion, Fabian Cancellara, should he need it.

However, with about 30km left to race, Cancellara was no longer able to keep pace with a chase group that included Tom Boonen. Stuey was then given the green light by Scott Sunderland, CSC's Director Sportif, to pursue the victory. He made the most of his opportunity as he simply powered away from the lead group and was never seriously challenged.

O'Grady has been on form since he began his season. Whether he was in the role of being the consummate teammate or just wasn't fortunate enough, today's victory came at a much needed time for this true professional.

So, good onya, Stuey!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Flying Scotsman

Can you believe it? Hollywood has finally thrown its weight behind a cycling movie, and its not even the story of Lance Armstrong. On Friday, April 20th, The Flying Scotsman will open in select cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle) around the US, with a limited nationwide release in May.

Directly from the movie's website:
"Based on a remarkable true story, The Flying Scotsman is a heart-warming and compelling film which follows the turbulent life of cyclist Graeme Obree, who, as an unemployed amateur, broke the World One Hour record on a bike of his own revolutionary design, constructed out of scrap metal and old washing machine parts...The Flying Scotsman is Chariots of Fire meets Rocky meets Shine – on wheels!"

The movie stars Jonny Lee Miller (Hackers, Trainspotting) as Obree; Laura Fraser (A Knight's Tale) as Obree's wife, Anne; Billy Boyd (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) as Obree's friend and manager Malky; and Brian Cox (Braveheart, Troy, The Bourne Supremacy) as Obree's minister Douglas Baxter.

Since all, but Miller (England), are originally from Scotland there won't be any bad renditions of a Scottish accent.

So what's On Tap... for next Friday, The Flying Scotsman, unless you were present for the LA premiere in December.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Railroaded

Remember the cartoon Dudley Do-Right?

Remember when his adversary, Snidely Whiplash, would tie up a young maiden and place her across railroad tracks and leave her to her demise?

Can’t remember that far back, huh?

Alright, how about when Owen Wilson’s character, Jedediah, tied up Ben Stiller (Larry Daley) and tried to run him over with a train in the movie, Night at the Museum?

Replace Ben Stiller, or the young maiden, with Floyd Landis these days and you’ll finally understand the saying about “being railroaded.”

The latest news regarding inapproriate document request and the remaining Tour B-samples has simply validated my point regarding these athletic governing body arbitration tribunals. There isn’t a semblance of jurisprudence in the arbitration process.

USADA, WADA, or any governing body isn’t concerned with Floyd’s case, only their own. Meaning they aren’t concerned with weighing evidence, which may reveal “truths” in this or any other matter, but only in winning the case and justifying their reasoning.

In the matter of the remaining B-samples, USADA has essentially given the Chatenay Malabry lab the answer key to the final exam. Part of Landis’ defense hinges on the inadequacies and inappropriate behavior of the lab’s methodology, equipment, and personnel. By allowing the lab to test the remaining samples, USADA is allowing them to clean up their processes. So when the allegations of mislabeling, misinterpretation, and unethical conduct arise from Landis’ lawyers, USADA can now say, “Well we had them run numerous other samples and saw no fault with their processes, equipment, or personnel.”

To all those who are supporters of Floyd, that light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train.

And unfortunately, there’s no Dudley Do-Right to come and save the day on May 14th.

On Tap...

Roubaix, Roubaix, Roubaix...
This weekend its all about the Queen of the Classics, Paris - Roubaix. Missing is American George Hincapie, whose annual run at the podium is compelling enough reason to watch the race. But with all the recent carnage in the past week coupled with injuries to some of the pre-race favorites, this year's Roubaix could be anyone's to win. Gent-Wevelgem winner and E3 podium placer, Marcus Burkhardt, will be riding a wave of confidence that could possibly vault him past the likes of Boonen and Cancellara. While the shadow of Ronde winner, Alessandro Ballan, looms even larger having skipped Gent. Can Tom Boonen bounce back from his header during Flanders? Can Fabian Cancellara repeat his dominant ride from last year? Is this the year a Spaniard, Juan Antonio Flecha, snatches the crown jewel?

Translation: "One Day In Hell"

The route has been updated but remains relatively the same, tortuous. A new cobbled section has been added. Named after a past Roubaix winner and current Française de Jeux Director Sportif, Marc Madiot, it will mark the 13th cobbled section of 28 on the day. Strangely, I can feel both my teeth clattering and my bones vibrating just sitting here thinking about the pave. Fortunately for the riders, it looks as if the pave may be bone dry, which means choking on dust rather than riding in cyclocross conditions.

Watch it LIVE on Cycling.tv or catch the Versus coverage that begins at 5pm EST. For internet coverage, follow it on Cyclingnews.com.

Misery Loves Company
Having a crisis and feel as if you need to be a part of what your watching, but don't really want to ride outside in the cold, then delve into A Sunday in Hell. This documentary of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix follows the battle between Merckx, Maartens, De Vlaeminck, and Moser.

From Holly Ordway (DVDTalk.com):
"The cover copy on the case of A Sunday in Hell describes it as 'arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling,' and it's no exaggeration. A Sunday in Hell is that rare and delightful creature, a documentary that offers a perceptive and interesting introduction to cycling for viewers who are new to the sport, while at the same time providing a great viewing experience for those who are already fans."

Happy, Funny, Bike Film
Is all the above a little too much right now? In dire need of a pick me up rather than being reminded about one of Dante's layers of Hell by the weather. Then what better bike related film to choose from the ROLL Film library than The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Granny's equivalent to a bowl of chicken soup, and the perfect remedy to winter cycling malaise.

What Borzo ("the bike guy") says:
One of the finest touches of the film, at least from a bicyclist's perspective, is how the bike (and his lack of a car) helps to establish who Andy is: frugal, sensible, gentle and unassuming. Notice how he handles his bike, obeys traffic signs, wears his helmet, and even signals his turns. More...

What Strauss ("the movie guy") says:
After a little over a year of reviewing bicycle films, the one constant I've observed is that Hollywood believes that normal people do not ride bikes. There are only four types of characters allowed to ride on the big screen (1) an athlete trying to win the big race, (2) someone who is poverty stricken and whose bicycle allows him or her to work, (3) a kid around the age of eleven, and (4) a nerd, geek, dweeb, etc. More...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Left My Heart In...

Santa Rosa?

Actually it was more like my legs.

Eleven days. I have to keep reminding myself it was only 11 days ago. But right now, 11 days seems like a lifetime ago.

As I write this, looking out on yet another cold, gray and cloudy Michigan day, my spirits are at least buttressed by the memory of riding around in short sleeves and shorts, making new riding buddies, and drinking up barrels of amazing scenery (as well as a lot of good wine).

The Bike
It seemed as if I wasn't going to be as fortunate with obtaining a bike as the last time I had cycling wanderlust, but things aren't often what they seem. After a good lead and some calling around, I ended up renting a bike from Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg, CA (see the latest Shop-Boy). The rental was a replica of the old reliable steed that had served the Triple Crankset so well in France, Trek's 5200. John, the owner of the shop, set me up with some old LOOK pedals and replaced my cleats, as I forgot my Keo pedals back home. Aside from that, the setup was standard Trek; Bontrager wheels and parts throughout coupled with Shimano's Ultegra gruppo (including yes, a triple crankset).

The Ride - The Land of Levi
Besides being the current hometown of my good friend, Mundi (short for Edmundo), Santa Rosa is better known in cycling circles for being the land of Levi Leipheimer. During the off season, Levi can be seen traversing the local roadways, often testing himself up Mt. Tamalpais or motor-training behind his wife's, Odessa, scooter.

For the past two years, Santa Rosa has even been used as a finishing/starting town for stages of the Amgen Tour of California. As such, I was more than eager to venture out. With bike in tow, we headed out to meet my riding buddies for the day. The expectation of having a 6 to 8 rider group quickly changed as we were pared down to 4 by the time we set off.

Brad, Anne Marie (aka n-ANNE-y), and Fiona, decided to take me on one of their local loops, which would include Sonoma Mountain Road. With few training miles in my legs (none of which were specifically set up for climbing), I had my trepidations about my form as I had definitely been following the Jan Ullrich school of off-season training (perpetually in need of losing 7-8 kilos). However, I had my ace in the hole, the triple, in case I really struggled.

Fan(s) Lined The Street On Our Departure

After cycling through some neighborhoods (like the retirement community of Oakmont), the road began to turn upward. We were met at the base of the first part of the climb by several participants of an April Fool's Day foot race; most of whom looked fresher at the end of their run (up and down a mountain) than I had earlier in the day (hhmm, was the joke on me, and why wasn't anyone letting me in on it?).

Sonoma Mountain Road had its share of tough inclines, but overall it was balanced out by some great descents and flat sections. On some of the steeper portions, the screaming of my legs and lungs was similarly balanced out by the serenity of the scenery. Surprisingly, I never even thought about using my granny gears (perhaps my form was actually better than what my namesake implies). Midway through the ride, I found out why motorists weren't much of a issue, as the road was partially closed due to what's described as a "geotechnical" road closure (see below).

Not Much To Look At...

Geotechnical Road Closure...Was That A 5.8? Just Ground Shifting

After looping back on Bennett Valley Rd. we ended up in Spring Lake Park (see below) before completing our ride. I couldn't have asked for a better ride, nicer weather, or better company to see me through the day. For Fiona, the day ended on our return as she had to work. The rest of us made our way back to Healdsburg to return the bike and to grab a late lunch. The afternoon was capped off by burritos and a trip to the Alderbrook vineyard for good wine, conversation, and some running around their picnic area. What a great day! Perhaps 2Pac said it best, California Love (mp3, contains explicit lyrics)

Brad, Fiona, Anne Marie, Granny


Future Wrench? Brand New Cyclist?

Shop-Boy

Vintage
As it pertains to wine, “vintage,” is used to describe a wine’s excellence and its origins (year and vineyard or district). It’s also the perfect word to describe Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg, CA.

As most bike shops go, its hard to qualify it as such. There are no bikes for sales, merely rentals, and there’s no wrenching done (besides the occasional maintenance done on the rentals). So how does Wine Country Bikes find its way into a shop review?

Although it doesn’t have the services you’d expect from your daily shop, WCB certainly fulfills a niche for those visiting the area. The shop accommodates those who want to participate in their wine country experience, offering not only bikes and necessary equipment (like helmets), but also a variety of guided tours. It has rentals for the ambitious, Trek’s 5200 and Pilot, and for the recreational, Trek’s 7300 Hybrid and tandems (the latter might actually fall under the ambitious category for some). The shop also carries both men’s and women’s apparel, select equipment, and a line of functional cycling furniture (made from bike parts). Perhaps a more poignant moniker for this shop would be “bike station;” it gives you what you “need” (a bike, a changing area, showers, maps, and the discretion to purchase a souvenir of your trip) while leaving the “wanting” not to material things but to the experiences.

As such, it definitely passes Oude Granny’s “smell test” for a shop. As far as its owners, John and Heather Mastrianni, they are more than qualified (even more so than some who own traditional shops) to meet any of your biking needs. Their bios are directly from their website.

John spent 25 years in the bike business and held every job imaginable; from bike assembler to mechanic and service manager to shop owner. "When I wasn't selling and servicing bikes I was riding them: racing on the pro circuit, touring in Europe - I even spent a year working as a bike messenger in NYC."

Heather is the driving creative force behind Wine Country Bikes and "she's not afraid of color!" Since retiring from a professional cycling career, that included completing the Women's Tour de France three times and victories in major European and American races, her irrepressible energy has poured into her artwork and Wine Country Bikes. Step into our Touring Center and you'll be entering a 2500 sq. foot piece of art in the making.

Heather Between Her Totems

Is This Heaven?

Its San Francisco.
San Francisco? I could've sworn it was heaven.

Having lived in Chicago for the past 13 years, I felt like Ray Liotta's Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams coming out of the cornfield for the first time as I walked in and around the streets of San Francisco. With the well demarcated bike lanes, the accessibility of rapid transport (like the BART) for bike commuters, and the well established messenger community (inset), all juxtaposed next to the surrounding scenery of Bay and bridges, it seemed like Bike Heaven to me. I didn't need to read the San Francisco Bike Coalition's annual report card proclaiming the city as one of the friendliest for cyclists (in the large city category). I was sold.

But, as in the movie, heaven turns out to be a cornfield in Iowa, and Bike Heaven ends up being just like any large city, not completely devoid of its ugly incidents (video) .

Is there a heaven?
Oh yeah, its the place where dreams come true.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mystery Meat

If the semi-Classic, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, is known as "the revenge" (for those that missed out on winning Het Volk) then Gent-Wevelgem has to be the mystery meat in between two great pieces of rye, sourdough, dill rye, or whatever bread you've chosen for your favorite sandwich.

No disrespect to this year's champion, T-Mobile's young Marcus Burghardt, or to those champions past (George Hincapie included), but Gent falls somewhere in between being "the revenge" for The Ronde and a tune up for Paris-Roubaix, two Classics monuments. Are the parcours tremendous, the tradition rich, the contestants of caliber? Yes, yes and yes! But, I can't help but feel that Gent-Wevelgem's notoriety is a by-product of falling midweek between such giants. If the race fell anywhere else on the racing calendar, would anyone care about it?

Cranky? Yes. Surly? Possibly.

Photo: Reuters

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Katie's Korner

Snakes in the Pool!?
It's sounds like the perfect title for a sequel to Samuel L. Jackson's campy and badly titled movie, "Snakes on the Plane." But its acutally, what our IronGirl, Katie, experienced, so to speak, in her latest pool training session.

So there I was, swimming away, when "serpent man" decides to get in the lane next to me. He is wearing a skin tight, neon blue speedo and traveling at warp speed. I casually roll my eyes in my goggles and continue on. He did about....4 laps, and then was gone. Goodbye serpent man.

I guess I shouldn't talk about other's swimsuits when mine is holding in by a thread. I really need to get a new suit. Anyone with recommendations? I like the 2 piece combo for training purposes.

I had a practice run at changing my bike tire yesterday.....it only took me 4 hours. I have some work to do (no really, it took 4 hours).

Boston Marathon is next weekend. Please don't expect great things from this race. I look forward to experiencing the party and enjoying the "ride"...not all about the destination. My confidence isn't that great right now as I did a run this morning and my stomach was terrible. Oh well.

Sue: Did you get that email I sent you from the Boston Marathon. It will be giving you web updates on where I'm at in the run...if you are around to check it. Just thought you would be interested.

If mother nature would get her act together, I could ride outside. Something about 15 degree wind chill isn't screaming 3 hour bike ride. Maybe it's just me.

Update Over,
Katie

The Purveyor of Useless Info
If Oude Granny were to have a byline, a super hero moniker, or a epitaph, it would be the above. Thankfully, some of my useless knowledge actually comes in handy every so often.

So let's start out with suits? Oh, jes! Pleese do a-bue-lit-a. (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

I can't speak to the specifics, or the value of a one piece versus a two piece, as that's often a personal preference, much like choosing say whether to go with compact cranks or a triple (alright I'll have to admit it, Granny actually uses FSA's compact cranks and not a triple). But, what I can do is drop some of my personal knowledge about some brands that make triathlon apparel.

If our IronGal is simply looking for training swimwear, then she can't go wrong with TYR's aptly named Luau Dimaxback Workout Bikini. TYR (pronounced tier) has been in existence since 1985 and is named after the norse god of warriors. The company was founded by an Olympic swimmer, and as such has catered specifically to swimmer's needs for much of its existence. But with the advent of multisport, it has also diversified its product lines.

However, given that the Ironman Coeur d'Alene is a little over 2 months away, it might be beneficial for Katie to look at some triathlon specific clothing (not that she hasn't already), or some two piece suits that might fit under her wetsuit and double as her running and cycling apparel. Two companies that make some excellent triathlon gear are Zoot Sports and Orca (the latter also makes some of the best wetsuits around, but has often been a tough brand for some women's psyche to handle; its a harsh judgemental world out there).

From TYR to Tire
Honestly, 4 hours?? No worries, we've got your back. In the next couple of days, we'll be creating and uploading an instructional video on the seemingly ubiquitous YouTube for Katie. But in the interim, below are some abbreviated instuctions.

1. For side pull brakes, find the lever and release your brakes (on center pull or cantilever brakes, you may have to loosen the anchor bolt to release your brakes, but you can often loosen the brake enough by simply turning the adjusting barrel).

2. Unlock your quick release skewer. Loosen the skewer by turning the skewer's nut, not the skewer's quick release lever, as is popular with most people.

3. Take out your tire lever to help remove the wheel. If you don't have a tire lever, removal of the tire can be accomplished by completely deflating the it (if it isn't already) and using both thumbs to press laterally and vertically to get the beaded side of the tire up and over the rim. Use the lever, or insert your fingers under the tire, and work it or them around the wheel's circumference completely taking one side of the tire off the rim.

4. Given that you are in a race, its easiest not to take the tire off the rim completely. Having just one side of the tire off is sufficient. Reach inside and pull the deflated tube out and insert your spare. Remember to insert the valve through the rim's valve hole first. Once again, use your fingers to work (tuck) the tube in and around the tire.

5. Now its just a matter of replacing the one side of the tire back onto the rim. Most of this step can be done with your hands. Make sure that no part of the tube is caught between the rim and the outer part of the tire, or you'll get what is known as a "pinch flat" when you go to inflate the tire.

6. Replace the wheel, tighten the quick release skewer, lock the skewer, inflate the tire, and then close the brake's release lever.

Done!
Estimated elapsed time: Just a little under 4 hours! Just kidding!

A Classic
Since I'm a huge Red Sox fan, it doesn't take a twist of my arm to wax poetic about Beantown, the Boston Marathon, or Patriot's Day. If you haven't been to Boston on this day of days, its well worth the spectacle.

For me, its usually gone a little something like this:
See marathon start - check
Jump on T, go to Fenway - check
Game ends, see the marathon finish - check

For those of you new to the Triple Crankset, Katie has been contributing to the site as she prepares for the upcoming Ironman Coeur d'Alene. For those of you who have been following Katie, especially those of you who can't make it to Boston and root her on, you can track her progress on the internet on Monday April 16th, her Boston Marathon bib number is 7844.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday Morning Advocate

Advocacy: active support of an idea or cause etc.

Let's face it, there's not too many people out there that say they're happy when their weekend ends and readily welcome the return to work on Monday.

So on Mondays, the TC is going to try and challenge you. We'll bring you articles we've read, stories we've heard, or groups we know of that advocate cycling or use cycling to advocate their chosen cause. Think of it as saving the world, someone else, and/or yourself, one pedal stroke at a time.

As a TC reader, here's your opportunity to contribute. If you know of anyone, any group, or have some story you'd like to share, drop us a line (click "email me" under Granny's profile).

Ride A Bike/Make the Streets Safer for Cycling
In the March 26th-April 2nd special issue of US News and World Report (yes, we're a diverse group here at the TC, we do read more than cycling rags), Making America Better, Andrew Curry portrays two countries, Germany and the Netherlands, that have made cycling a priority. It's amazing that a country like Germany, which produces some of the nicest cars on the planet, has made cycling popular with commuters. For instance, in the city of Berlin, every 10th trip is made by bicycle. The city also boast more than 500 miles of bike lanes! America's equivalent is Tucson with 325 miles of bike lanes (compare that with a larger metropolitan city, Chicago, which hopes to have 315 miles of bike lanes by 2015).

In the Netherlands, cycling is even more popular with commuters, where city planners have the problem of creating space to accomodate over 20,000 bicycles left at the Utrecht train station on a daily basis.

It'd be easy for me right here to say, "Now go ride your bike to work." But with Americans its never that simple. We still need to learn to share the road with cyclist. Granny's first post, Urban Cyclist, examined the almost warfare like attitudes that pervade cyclists and motorists alike. The latest hot button on this issue revolves around a recent Critical Mass ride in San Francisco, where cyclists attacked a mini-van driver who had earlier knocked a cyclist off his bike and continued to drive onward.

Can't we all just get along!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

World Track Wrap

Twice As Nice...
It has been said that its easier to get to the top than to stay there. Regardless, Sarah Hammer, now knows the feeling from both sides of the fence as she was able to repeat in the 3km Individual Pursuit.

For those who don't have a velodrome nearby or have never ventured onto the pine, the pursuit is considered one of track cycling's endurance events. But that can even be a misnomer as the speeds can be very fast. The event I liken it most to is the 800m in track, where you need the speed of a sprinter, but the endurance of a 1-2 miler.

The individual pursuit is held in the men's (4km) and women's (3km) category. The team pursuit is held only in the men's category, at the same distance. A rider, or team of four, starts at opposite ends of the track and attempts to cover the distance as quickly as possible. If there's a huge disparity between the competitors the race looks almost like greyhounds chasing a mechanical rabbit around the dog track. If an individual or team catches and passes the other before the covered distance, the race is over.

Other Champions include:
Men's:
Chris Hoy (GBR) - Kilo & Keirin; Theo Bos (NED) - Sprints; Alois Kankovsky (CZE) - Omnium; Bradley Wiggins (GBR)- Indiviual Pursuit; Kam Po Wong (CHN) - Scratch; Joan Llaneras (ESP) - Points; Mickaël Bourgain and Arnaud Tournant (FRA) - Team Sprints; Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli (SWI) - Madison; Great Britain - Team Pursuit.

Women's:
Victoria Pendelton (GBR) - Sprints & Keirin; Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso (CUB) - Scratch; Katherine Bates (AUS) - Points; Victoria Pendelton and Shanaze Reade (GBR) - Team Sprints.

Ballan-rina

Alessandro Ballan will never be accused of being Lance Armstrong, dancing on the pedals. But the strong man from Veneto, Italy looked nimble enough on the bergs today, winning the 91st edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen with a decisive attack on the Kapelmuur.

You may be wondering, what the heck is a guy from southern Europe doing winning a northern Spring Classic? What's next, dogs and cats living together? Would it make much difference if you knew he came from northern Italy?

Its what these one day races, these Classics, are all about. It doesn't matter what country you come from or where you train. It only matters who is the strongest on the day, and who doesn't run into any bad luck (as these two things usually go hand-in-hand in separating who wins or loses). Plus, its not that dramatic when you think about it, as another Italian, Andrea Tafi, made his living on the cobbles, winning the Ronde in 2002 and Roubaix in 1999.

The Rebirth of The Eternal Second
From the early 60's to the mid-70s, Raymond Poulidor, became known as l'eternel second; never wearing the Malliot Jaune, finishing second 3 times and third 4 times at the Tour de France (mainly to 5 time winner Jacques Anquetil).

Enter Leif Hoste.

Hoste is quickly becoming Poulidor's Spring Classics equivalent, finishing 2nd in the Ronde in 2007, 2006, & 2004. His biggest win to date has been the 2006 Three Days of De Panne (strangely enough, an honor Ballan acheived this year). The comparison may not be fair, as Hoste still has a lot of races ahead of him. But one thing is for certain, Hoste at least has assured himself a place on next year's Ronde poster, just like this year.

Photo:
Lampre/Fondital

Friday, April 06, 2007

On Tap...

The Ronde
There are just some things in life on which you don't have to expound. In cycling, the giants are recognized by an acronym or a single mention, like L-B-L, MSR, Roubaix, and the Tour (although there are always two other Grand Tours on the calendar, the Tour de France is "The Tour"). The Tour of Flanders, Ronde van Vlaanderen, or simply The Ronde is such a giant.

For those of you who have never paid much attention to The Ronde, or the other Northern Spring Classics for that matter, the 91st edition of the race is the perfect introduction to single day racing, cobbled roads, and the hardmen of cycling.

The start list is shaping up as a who's who of cycling, led by Quick-Step's Tom Boonen. Some of the other favorites are:

Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati - Lampre-Fondital
Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady - CSC
Stijn Devolder - Discovery Channel
Leif Hoste - Predictor-Lotto
Peter Van Petegem, Paolo Bettini - Quick Step
Steffen Wesemann - Weisehof-Felt
Filippo Pozatto - Liquigas
Juan Antonio Flecha, Oscar Freire - Rabobank
Roger Hammond, Servais Knaven- T-Mobile
Nick Nuyens - Confidis
Baden Cooke - Unibet.com
Philippe Gilbert - Francaise des Jeux

Oude Granny can't remember when or if this race has ever come down to a bunch sprint, as the strongest are usually separated out after 259km and 18 climbs. It can be seen Sunday April 8th, on Cycling.tv LIVE or on Versus at 7pm EST.

Snow Day
How thoroughly depressing. I come back from sunny California, having ridden around in Santa Rosa (more on that later), to 30 degree weather and snow. So my pick from the ROLL Film archive is the 1948 classic, The Bicycle Thief.

What Borzo ("the bike guy") said:
The Bicycle Thief demonstrates that in some countries and at certain times, bikes were a serious matter. They could mean the difference between a job and no job; bread and no bread. More...

What Strauss ("the movie guy") said:
There was a time when critics considered The Bicycle Thief one of the greatest, if not the greatest film ever made. More...

Granny's Take:
This is one of those films that you should go out and buy. If you can't find the original DVD or don't have a multi-zone DVD player, the Criterium Collection just came out with an NTSC version.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Floyd Fairness Fund on YouTube

The Nike Cycling Psyche

If you wear Nike when you cycle, don't wear out what you already have too fast.
Helen Jung of the Oregonian newspaper in Portland writes that Nike plans to drop most of its cycling apparel and footwear line for consumers as the company narrows its focus to outfitting cycling teams and Nike-endorser athletes.
And if your cycling equation includes Trek, well ... Nike's seven-year relationship with Trek Bicycle Corp., which produces clothing and shoes for cyclists under the shoe company's brand, will not be renewed after it ends this year.
Nike will continue to distribute its Discovery Channel line, Lance Armstrong 10//2 collection, and specialty jerseys.
The pullback was first reported on a local Portland blog bikeportland.org (no, you can't believe everything you read in a blog -- that doesn't apply to this one! -- but blogs are a good place to get a hint of what may be about to happen; mainstream media isn't the only source of information in a 24/4 world in which everyone can be a publisher).
The blog concluded that pullback reflects the difficulty Nike has had making a name for itself among established cycling brands such as Sidi, Shimano and Castelli.
And, Jung reports, the move also highlights Nike's corporate soul-searching of late as it reorganizes to focus on its core consumer businesses of running, basketball, soccer, men's training, women's fitness and sport culture.
Nike has developed cycling footwear and apparel for years, but it launched its most aggressive effort after cancer survivor Lance Armstrong's first Tour de France win in 1999. At that time, Nike and Trek began discussions about jointly producing cycling apparel and footwear.
The deal was signed in 2000 and the first Swoosh-branded products from Trek began appearing in 2001.
Nike benefited greatly from its endorsement by Our Boy Lance and from Trek's expertise. But Armstrong retired from racing in 2006 and, in the end, even his celebrity wasn't enough.
Maybe that's something that people in the sport should be thinking about rather than the usual doping sideshow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rest in Peace?

I suppose we ought to allow Jan Ullrich to rest in peace, right? After all, the guy has retired.
However ...
A DNA sample taken from 1997 Tour de France champion has been matched to blood bags seized in the Spanish doping scandal, German prosecutors said Tuesday.
"We found nine blood samples that we were able to compare with the blood samples," Friedrich Apostel, a spokesman for prosecutors in Bonn, said during a television interview. "We were able to establish the identity of Ullrich."
Ullrich retired from cycling on Feb. 26 after his name surfaced in Operation Puerto, which led to him being excluded from last Tour. He has denied using any banned substances.
Apostel said the comparison established the link "without a doubt."
In a brief statement posted on Ullrich's website, the cyclist's lawyer said he did not rule out manipulation.
I think Bad Boy Floyd has already used that one, Jan.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Le Grand Depart

As I've mentioned, I plan to be in London on July 7-8 for the prologue and first stage of the Tour de France.
But how about this for an option?
The London organizers are seeking volunteers for the Tour's first visit to the United Kingdom since 1994.
Transport for London (TfL) is looking for thousands of volunteers to help marshal the race. For their efforts, the volunteers will enjoy prime viewing locations of the peloton.
"Volunteer marshals will be stationed in prime viewing positions along the route, and will get a rare chance to get up close and personal with all the action," according to a TfL press release. "There are almost 1,000 junctions to marshal and more than two million people expected to line the streets. Volunteers are needed along the route to assist with managing crossing points, controlling and assisting the crowds of spectators, and ensuring that cars don't try to use the closed roads."
The Tour de France begins in London with an opening ceremony on Friday July 6 in Trafalgar Square.
The prologue takes place on Saturday July 7 at Whitehall before racing eight miles through London and ending on The Mall.
Stage 1 begins at The Mall and runs through London to Greenwich, then to Dartford and Gravesend before finishing in Canterbury.
For more information, check out the London site.

A New Challenge For OLB?

This blog debuted on March 29, 2006, so our first anniversary passed rather quietly about 500-plus entries later. Maybe we're just getting used to ourselves!

Starting it was easy. Maintaining it, and building a small but faithful audience, has been a challenge. And speaking of new challenges, how about this one from Our Boy Lance:
“I have done some speed skating lately with my friend Chad Hedrick (pictured), and I really love it. I don’t know how far I can go, but this new challenge is really driving me.”

Hedrick says Armstong can have great success if he starts training.
“Lance could win the world all-round championships in 2-3 years. He has an enormous potential as an athlete. Of course, he would need hard work, but anything is possible.”