Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You're My Boy...

OK, Maybe Not.

This type of news is usually handled by T-o-03, but our friend of the blog in Ohio alerted me to this tidbit.

According to Us Magazine, Our Boy Lance and Ashley Olsen “were spotted cuddling at NYC’s Rose Bar, where they reportedly kissed and the twin sat on the cyclist's lap.”


Whereas one of the NY Post’s Page Six barflies (-spies) reported that "…they came together with a group of friends. Ashley drank red wine, sat on his lap and they were making out all night. They left together around 2 a.m."

Say it ain’t so…

OBL’s love life has descended and careened off course faster than Joseba Beloki at the 2003 TdF [and we all know how that one turned out]. From Kristin, to Sheryl Crow, to Tory Burch, and now straight down to an Olsen twin [without even a Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan stop in-between].

Where’s the shirtless wonder, Matthew McConaughey, when OBL really needed him?

Perhaps OBL was just missing his in-competition wafer-like looks and decided to cuddle up next to someone that reminded him of those glory days? [oh right, that's Mary-Kate's deal isn't it?]

Does an Olsen twin even count as what (former Chicago Cub first baseman) Mark Grace refers to as a “slump buster,” after OBL’s break up with Tory Burch?

Who might be next on OBL's fall down lover's lane...I think the former Mrs. Federline's ears just perked up.

And yes, the Olsens are now of drinking age…

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hooligans - Not Just for Soccer Anymore

One of my worst fears was realized when I read today’s first edition of Cyclingnews, Cyclists Seriously Injured by Auto Passenger.

Being raised in an environment where people, juveniles, found joy in vandalizing everything from mailboxes to lawns, one of my greatest fears while cycling [not the most popular youth sport in that type of environment] was to have someone “in good fun” run me off the road or try to push me off my bike.

As reported in Cyclingnews:
A 59 year-old cyclist in Bromley, Kent, England, was seriously injured when a rider in a passing car reached out and pushed him off his bike, cyclingweekly.co.uk reported. Tony Barrett suffered serious neck and back injuries and at first was thought to be paralyzed.

Barrett was able to tell police that a car went by him and that he felt two hands push him. He lost consciousness when he hit his head in falling...MORE

The Off-Season?

Baseball? Now football?
Well, you just gotta see this play! Fourteen laterals and a 69-yard touchdown in Division III.
Enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wicked Pissah!

Boston Globe Staff Photo/Barry Chin

You'll have to forgive this momentary lapse from cycling blogdom as my fandom has taken over.

From a historical context, the 2007 World Series Championship by the Boston Red Sox will never compare to the 2004 Championship [although the method by which each team arrived at a championship was eerily familiar; each faced elimination in the League Championship before sweeping through the World Series]. However, the feeling is just as sweet!

I know fans from our biggest rival, "the evil empire," will probably be quick to remind me and the rest of Red Sox Nation that we still have 19 more championships to capture before we pull even. But, for the second time in four years we at least have the opportunity to say...

How do you like them apples?!

Until Next Year:

An 8th Inning Tradition - Sweet Caroline (mp3)
Standells - Dirty Water (mp3)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Next Great American Cyclist

Greg Lemond...Lance Armstrong...Mara Abbott?

That's correct, the next great American cyclist could very well be a female. For those of you who have been following the development and cycling career of Mara Abbott (formerly of Webcor Builders) the idea of her carrying the "next" label, though lofty, is certainly within the realm of possibility for the precocious talent who recently completed her second year at the elite level [and her first with a professional team].

Image: Don Karle

A former collegiate swimmer at Division II Whitman College in Washington, Abbott didn't pick up competitive cycling until her freshman year. Amazingly, she won the US National Collegiate Road Race in that same season. Since then, the 21 year old senior is the proud owner of a closet full of stars & stripes jerseys.

This year Abbott finished on the podium at
the Redlands Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and at the Montreal World Cup [her very first race against a world class peloton]. She followed up on those podium placings by besting USWCDF mentors Kristin Armstrong and Amber Neben to claim the Elite Women's National Championship Road Race.

For all her accomplishments to date, she has been featured in Sports Illustrated's [August 27th edition] Faces in the Crowd [remember when that was a rare and prestigious honor, then came the internet], featured in Cyclingnews, and recently graced the cover of Velonews [as "The Next American World Champion?"].

Now comes the news that Abbott (image: PhotoSport International) has just inked a contract with the venerable T-Mobile Women's squad. She joins new additions German Road Champion Luise Keller and young talent Madeleine Sandig on a team that had 31 victories in 2007 and finished as the UCI #1 ranked women's professional team in the world.

How's that for a graduation present?

For the young woman whose stated goals [from the Webcor Builders website] this year were,
To learn…to become a complete cyclist, to understand what I am doing, and why I am doing it. And I want to climb up every mountain that I have ever climbed faster than I have climbed it before. I want to win a race that I get flowers for! And in the future? I want to return to the races I sampled last year, and I want to win them. I want to be one of the people I now look up to. I wish to attend the Olympics someday. I want to look at the view from various tops of podiums all across the world. I don’t know the specific goals yet. But they will come out. And while doing this, I want to learn about the world… I want to speak languages. I want to work with governments and activist groups. I want to be involved in the WORLD.
Mara Abbott is certainly more than on her way.

Although you'll probably have less of an opportunity to catch Abbott in person because of T-Mobile's heavily ladened European schedule, don't let that deter you from following the arch of America's latest rising star.

[I, for one, can't wait to see how she'll match up against Nicole Cooke [among others] in the Women's peloton].

Independent Thought
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall

Images: Leonard Basobas

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Published in 1923, Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay is perhaps his most famous work. It captures the transitory and fleeting nature of not only the autumnal season, but of an idyllic vision of life.

The fall is unquestionably my favorite of the four seasons [or for some, three seasons, wedged right in between "construction" and winter].


I cannot say for certain whether my love of the autumn stems more from the briskness of air that alerts my senses or the vibrancy of color that emblazons my mind. Perhaps, it is both accompanied by all that the fall engenders.

The rustling of fallen leaves beneath your feet or against your body as you dive into a pile, the blaze of color that brightens the surroundings even on the most overcast of days, the smell of burning leaf piles...

Harvesting, apple picking, pumpkin picking...

The tinge of cold on your nose and cheeks as you pick up speed on your ride, the indecisiveness of using a gillet, arm and leg warmers or breaking out a full jacket and knickers, the weekly mud dance we know as cyclocross...

This weekend most likely marks the peak of color change for those in the most southern parts of the northern climes, so make sure you take it all in before fall of leaf gives way to fall of snowflake.

Cranking up the Triple for le Tour '08

Atop the Tourmalet in 2003 (photos by Steve Klein)

Blogs need to be fed (both by the bloggers and, hopefully, by our readers), and the Crankset has been a little creeky lately.

Sorry about that. The Crankset is not going away; far from it. Granny, along with the assistance of Sean Weide, our wonderful Sprocket, friend and the Communications Director of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, have provided the Crankset with new directions that have resulted in a growing audience. That wasn't our goal when we started the blog with 53rd Tooth going on two years ago, but it is where we are more than 900 posts and many of your comments later.

Life gets busy and things slide. That's called priorities, I suppose. I maintain two other school-related (I teach) blogs, and they have been taking up a lot of my time lately. School, too.

But enough about mechanics ... time to turn the old crankset.

Here's an interesting story from the Sydney Morning Herald about doping and drug whistleblowers and the price they sometimes pay. I've never been to Australia (it's on the list), but it's obvious that the Aussies don't just love their tennis players. Cyclists and swimmers get their fair share of attention, and when swimmer Elka Graham wrote in a column in the paper that she had been offered performance enhanding drugs before the 2004 Athens Olympics, she came under such attack that no other than WADA boss Dick Pound came to her rescue.

Keep an eye on the Australian sporting press -- and on the planned Australian national team entry in the Tour de France for 2009.


Speaking of the Tour de France ...

The Crankset should not let the announcement of the 2008 Tour route July 5-27 pass without comment.

There is no prologue.

No team time trial
.

Two times trials
, including July 26, the penultimate day of the Tour (as usual).

In the Pyrénées
, the Crankset fondly remembers the Col de Tourmalet (17.7km at 7.5 percent and 2,115 m) and the Col d'Aspin (12.1km at 6.6 percent and 1,489 m) from our 2003 Trek Travel trip. Stages 8 and 9 finish and start, respectively, in Toulouse, where the Crankset first met.

In the Alps
, Stage 16 includes the remarkable Col de la Bonette-Restefond (26.7km at 6.2 percent and 2,802m). The 9,193-foot Col de la Bonette-Restefond was last part of the Tour in 1993.

Stage 17
includes both the Col due Galibier (20.9 km at 5.6 percent and 2,645m) AND a finishing climb to Alpe d'Huez (1.3 km at 8.6 percent and 1,869m).

"It's definitely a climbers' Tour," said Aussie Cadel Evans.

Much more to say about the route, but we'll leave additional comment to Granny and, as always, you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wildfire

Near Del Dios Highway in the Rancho Santa Fe Area
(Image:
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

For many, the California wildfires are as distant as, well, the Iraq war [not that the comparison of lives lost is even analogous]. Call it a case of human nature, "out of sight, out of mind," or "if its not in my backyard, then it doesn't affect me," but people could sooner come up with the lyrics to Michael Murphey's song, Wildfire, than describe one.

[Yes, your neighbor just heard you belt out the refrain]

So to "put a face" on what's happening on the left coast, I asked my friend and fellow cyclist, Kathleen King (inset), to share her experiences. As you'll read, she is one of the fortunate ones, but for so many others their ordeals are just beginning.

San Diego, CA - In San Diego's North County the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 101) runs right along the beach past world famous surf breaks. The bike paths on either side are precious ground to thousands of cyclists who enjoy its gentle cliff climbs and unhindered straightaways every day. You can see a pro cyclist burn up the pavement while watching a pro surfer take the drop on a perfect wave morning, noon and evening. From the PCH bike paths head east like tributaries leading through rolling hills and canyons, down riverbeds and along lagoons.

Just after noon on Sunday 10/21, I was suited up and ready for my 25 miles on a glorious SoCal day. As I put on my gloves I glanced out the window and saw that strange orange light on the ground, an all too familiar sight. It meant something somewhere was on fire. A moment later, the smell of smoke. Then an enormous gust of wind shook the house. I ran down the stairs and out to the driveway to scan the sky. To my surprise, many of my neighbors were out in the street too. It was hard to look up for all the stuff flying through the air. Already the ashes of what turned out to be Witch Creek had begun to fall. Within minutes the neighborhood had filled with smoke that darkened the sky. My bike ride plans were done. One last cyclist - backpack, T-shirt, rode past eastward battling a 35 mph headwind choking on the dirty air, desperate to get home.

An eerie stillness settled on North County as we sat inside, glued to the TV for each update. Somehow we knew this one was different. Then the Fire Chief said it: with near hurricane force winds and humidity at -2 "...this one could roll to the sea..."

When you grow up in a place, even the size of San Diego, every community name has a face connected to it, folks with elderly parents, small children, horses, pets, gardens, art... You watch the maps and wonder if they are packing up, if they got their animals out OK. You hope your phone doesn't ring with a reverse 911 call to tell you to be ready. But you pack anyway. You all call each other and wait. No one sleeps.

Ironically, my "Harden the F--- Up" wristband arrived in the mail (the postman wore a particle mask) the day I got that call to evacuate. There were rumors all night about house fires a mile over the hill but they never materialized and we were allowed to go back home. For so many others, people I know personally, the nightmare is only beginning. I count among my blessings this morning that I awoke in my own bed and that my house has not been burned to the ground. I have hot and cold running water for my shower and electricity to make my breakfast. The markets and restaurants down the road are open and ready to provide whatever I need. Many, not ten miles away can't say these things.

But help has been arriving from all directions since the ordeal began and continues to be lavished on this region. We are all grateful for their boundless generosity. The fires are going out one by one. The lessons of Katrina, thankfully, have been learned. The recovery from this disaster will be swift in comparison.

Torrey Pines State Beach in Del Mar
(Image: Kathleen King)


For now the sky is still brown. The beloved bike lanes remain empty. The "particulate matter" in the air is not just unpleasant, it’s toxic. So the devotees of two wheels wait to add bike rides back to their list of blessings. It won't be long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Astana's New Discovery: Alberto Contador

Team Astana has come a long way in a short time since the Tour de France shame of Alexandre Vinokourov.

It's come such a long way that it would be nice if its website caught up with it.

The latest news:
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has signed a two-year contract to ride with Astana and rejoin the team's new general manager, Johan Bruyneel, and sporting director Sean Yates.

"After considering the different offers that I have had, I have opted for Astana because it is a completely new project," Contador said.

New for Astana, but the team looks like the disbanded Discovery Channel team. Contador follows former Discovery teammate Levi Leipheimer (will Levi EVER get to be a team leader?) to the Kazakh-sponsored but Swiss-based, formerly scandal-ridden team.

"The project of new Astana is magnificent and I am very happy of being able to have Alberto Contador to lead this team, because he is the rider of the future," Bruyneel said (sounding like a bad Kazakh translation).

Contador said Astana's new team (how many times can an old team say new, new, new?) would include Alain Gallopin of France and -- are you sitting? -- former Russian cyclist Viatcheslav Ekimov. Andreas Kloeden remains.

"Of course Astana has had some bad press," said Yates. "But Johan Bruyneel has never had a positive test with a team he has been involved with. And I am confident that we will not have any problems in the future."

Now, who hasn't had a positive test? Bruyneel? Or the team's riders?

Former Astana leader Vinokourov was dismissed by the team after he tested positive for blood doping in this year's Tour de France, as you no doubt remember.

And two other riders from the team, Andrej Kashechkin and Matthias Kessler, have also failed doping tests this year.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All About Cycling Sportives

Guys like you? (photo/London Times)

Here's a terrific read in today's Times of London on the Etape du Tour.

Never heard of it?

Our Boy Lance
never won it? Well it's not for Lance. And it may not be for you.

The Etape
is one of a series of increasingly popular challenge events known as cycling sportives [a list of the more popular ones are on the right navigation bar]. These events are serious and fun – in this case, IF you enjoy climbing. You get to meet hundreds of other cyclists while getting a taste of what it’s like to be a cycling professional (sans drugs, of course!).

The Etape du Tour course is a one-day section of the Tour de France that winds through the Pyrenees or Alps. But I'll let Richard Caseby tell you more.

Independent Thought
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Team Hoyt

I'm sure you're quite familiar with this highly publicized story by now. It's the incredible story of a father and his unwavering love and dedication to his son with cerebal palsy. If last count serves me correctly, they have completed 27 Ironmans and something like 70 marathons.

It's been nearly a year since viewing the video and it has the same impact on me as it did the first time I watched it.

Sometimes we seek inspiration and come up short and yet other times its right there before us.

If you haven't yet watched the video, enjoy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wake-Up Call

I don't post unrelated material often, but if you have a cat (my wife and I do), you will definitely appreciate this:

The Appeal


Last Thursday, Floyd Landis and his advisers filed for a state of execution of his cycling career to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Make no mistake about it, this appeal is more than an attempt to re-claim the yellow jersey that was officially handed over to Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) earlier this week, it is an attempt to save his livelihood. In the end, that's all that may be salvaged from this seemingly never ending saga.

The Appeal.

It sounds like a title befitting Franz Kafka. Since that memorable and now infamous Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, Landis' story has some parallels to that of the character Josef K in Kafka's novel The Trial.

In The Trial, Josef K, or simply K, awakens one morning and for reasons never revealed, is arrested and subjected to the judicial process for an unspecified crime.

As Landis awoke the Monday after winning the 2006 Tour, he was informed of a possible non-negative result. Through a winding unspecified judicial process, arbitrators decided that those initial condemning results were obtained by shoddy and unethical means. Yet, like K, Landis is now faced with an existential crisis [Landis’ related to his cycling mortality].

Although a set of backup tests revealed the presence of exogenous testosterone, I cannot shake the feeling of injustice. [Landis’ verdict and K's plight in The Trial having been sadistically fashioned by the same hand [of fate].

Should Landis, or K, have ever been brought to the point of choosing how their respective existence concludes?

That answer is perhaps central to the upcoming Landis appeal. But unfortunately for Landis and his backers, this judicial process is not about who is right or wrong, or what is logical. This process is about authority and winning. And in that arena, Landis cannot win.

When I first heard of his decision to appeal to the CAS, I struggled to find a reason why Landis would subject himself and his family to what amounts to a quest for something unattainable [the Holy Grail of reversing a doping charge]. By undergoing the appeal process, Landis has essentially positioned himself to receive that "definitive" NO that a child who pushes an agenda too far often receives from their parents.

Why didn't Floyd merely accept his fate and move on with life, as his mother suggested?

If you were faced with a complete loss of your livelihood, a death of sorts, to what extremes would you go to prevent it?

Again, in Landis’ case he may only be in search of a reprieve and not a complete over-turning of his verdict. His two-year band from cycling will be complete as of January 2009. The appeal to CAS may just get him back to racing next year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Are You an Ass Kicker?

Vanderkitten - Press Release

Berkeley, Calif.Vanderkitten announces the establishment of Vanderkitten Racing, an experienced and talented team of Elite Women cyclists contesting the NRC Road circuit in 2008.

Growing on the success of the one-woman team of Liz Hatch in 2007, Vanderkitten will be fielding a 6-woman elite team as well as developmental and regional support riders.

"Our success in sponsoring Liz Hatch in 2007 has convinced us that Vanderkitten and cycling go hand in hand. Our focus next year will be the majority of the NRC calendar, and to that effect we have signed 4 immensely talented girls with another 2 athletes to be announced shortly" says Vanderkitten's Mark Zefeldt.

The current roster includes Leigh Valletti of Atlanta, GA, Mandy Lozano of Charlottesville, VA, Christine Vardaros of Mill Valley, CA, with Liz Hatch of Delray Beach, FL returning for another season. The team is accepting resumes and is in serious talks with several bike companies and corporate sponsors.

"Vanderkitten is thrilled to support these hard working, vibrant athletes and the sport of Women's Cycling. We're all looking forward to the upcoming season with great anticipation. Vanderkitten's mission since its inception is to create a long-term relationship with cycling and raise the bar of sponsorships for women athletes. High profile athletes provide a tremendous marketing value to all parties associated with their image. Women influence both female AND male purchasing decisions. Why, then, have women typically earned less than 10% of most pro male athletes salaries?" asks Vanderkitten's founder David Verrecchia of Berkeley.

Vanderkitten introduced a line of clothing and cycling apparel at Interbike whose proceeds go directly to build and support the cycling program. For more information please visit: Vanderkitten Racing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Winner and Now Champion

"It is essentially a kind of release," said Oscar Pereiro (AP photo/Daniel Sastre)

On the occasion of the 900th post since the Triple Crankset debuted on March 29, 2006, we bring your the 2006 Tour de France champion, Oscar Pereiro.

"Finally, we have a winner and it's Oscar," Tour director Christian Prudhomme with characteristic abplomb at the handover ceremony in Madrid. "Oscar, you have won the Tour out on the road."

Pereiro was gracious in the way he handled the controversy involving the displaced (disgraced?) winner, Bad Boy Floyd:

“I feel sorry for him (Landis). He was disqualified after the biggest triumph in his life and won’t be able to enjoy it, but as a sportsman you have to abide by the rules.

“I now realise the Tour organisers had to wait for a resolution and I was wrong about them even though Landis has appealed again against the decision. This is a very important day for me and I’m not going to ruin it by thinking about any appeal.”

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Season Winds Down

Somewhere, they are still racing.
But the 2007 professional racing season is winding down.

Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of the Milram team won the 101st Paris-Tours classic over 256km from Paris to Tours Sunday. Petacchi was led out by his German teammate, Eric Zabel, to edge out Francesco Chicchi in the final sprint. Oscar Freire of Spain was third after being impeded in the sprint. Dutchman Steven De Jongh and Australians Allan Davis and Robbie McEwen followed.

Petacchi reflected on a difficult season in which he was cleared of doping despite returning a non-negative result for the asthma drug Salbutamol. He was later cleared of doping by the Italian Cycling Federation, who put the result down to human error. However, the Italian Olympic Committee has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"This season has been the most difficult of my career," said Petacchi. "It began badly with my broken knee last year. After the Giro (in June), other problems started. I went through every stage of suffering, even though I won two stages at (September's) Vuelta. "Finally, without a doubt, it's today that I've had my best day of the year."

This was the penultimate race of the Pro Tour season. Former Pro Tour winner Danilo Di Luca still leads the Tour standings over Australia's Cadel Evans and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

There's two more chances to watch cycling on Versus this season:
-- Paris-Tours will be repeated Thursday from 4-6 p.m. ET.
-- And Saturday from 5-7 p.m. ET, the Giro di Lombardia concludes the Pro Tour season.

Independent Thought
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Pereiro Finally Gets His Due

Fifteen months after the fact, Oscar Pereiro will win the 2006 Tour de France -- or at least be rewarded with the yellow jersey that Bad Boy Floyd has clung to so tenaciously.

Say what you will about BBF and what you believe or want to believe.

Pereiro will have his moment Monday, and Samuel Abt of the International Herald Tribune gives Pereiro his due:

Oscar Pereiro's long wait ends Monday, when dismal autumn will turn to radiant summer and the sparse crowd in the office of the Spanish sports minister in Madrid will grow into hundreds of thousands cheering on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Not really, Pereiro knows. Still, better than nothing, which is all the reward the 30-year-old Spaniard has enjoyed since July 24, 2006, when he finished second in the Tour de France by 57 seconds, and July 27 of the same year, when he learned that he might have finished first.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What The...



I'm guessing this bike was created for:

1) The one guy who likes to sit in trains or planes backward.
2) The guy who never got over the sensation of riding the backwards roller coaster at Six Flags.
3) The ambiguously "straight" duo; as the lead rider could feel the heat of the other guy staring at his arse for 161kms [but doesn't realize that his buddy hasn't taken off his "rear view" mirror since flipping the bike frame].
4) Two guys who really love to ride but are saddled with an indescribable flatulence problem.

The Number One


Everyone has one (whether they realize it or not). Its that person that believes in you completely...the president of your would-be fan club...your number one.

For me, its my lil' buddy, my nephew.

In his eyes, his Uncle Lenny is "too strong," and can do no wrong. [Of course he's also come up with the conclusion that he'd like to vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election].

Although his dad and mom seem to be fashioning him into the next Ronaldinho (which would be amazing in its own right), I've already got him itching to participate in the children's races next year at the Tour de Grandview.


Of course that comes with a caveat, "only if my uncle races with the big guys." So it looks as if I'll be targeting at least one race next year. And "my number one" will likely be ready to capture the moment [some of his early work (L to R: the women's race and his dad), from last year's race, is below].

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Now You See Them ... Now You Don't!

Granny has been so on on top of Interbike (and over the top of a mountain bike at Interbike) that there just hasn't been any trash on the Crankset lately.

Yeah, yeah ... it's a dirty job (kinda like cleaning an old triple crankset), but somebody's gotta do it!

So ...
Our Boy Lance
and New York fashion designer Tory Burch are no longer an item, according to People magazine.

WHAT! You didn't know that OBL and Tory Burch were an item?
That's because you've been busy reading all about Interbike!

"The story is true," says a source in the cycling champion's camp, referring to a Wednesday report in the New York Post's Page Six column on their split.

(Now there's two reliable sources for you!)

According to the story -- OK, item -- Burch's spokesperson called the breakup "amicable," saying that "geography" was to blame (OBL lives in Austin).

OBL and Burch were first seen together in March -- though by then, the seven-time Tour de France champion had been quietly dating Burch for months.

Again: according to sources, so it must be true.
And, if you don't think it is, check out the picture and tell me who Burch looks like ...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Interbike - In Search of...29ers

I've been a little slow to come around to the latest cycling phenomena of riding 29ers, but I'm not the only one. It really depends on who you talk to as some retailers think that 29ers are just a passing fad, while those that ride them can't seem to remember why they ever rode 26" wheels in the first place.

Karen Lundgren of the adventure racing team Teamsole.com swears by her Intense 29er telling me at OutDoor Demo Days that, "there are some things I know I couldn't ride over if I wasn't on one."

Nearly every manufacturer has a version of a 29er, so I went on a mini exposition floor scavenger hunt to see if I could find something comparable to my friend, Krissy's, Lenz Leviathan.

Carver's 99er

Jamis

Bianchi's SoK

Seven's Sola 29er

Salsa's Mamacita
"Oooh, Mama Like...?"

Photos: Leonard Basobas

Bootilicious

I've been trying to get my friend, Pip Gregson, [who was featured in an earlier post about an LAF fundraiser, the 24 Hours of Booty], to write a piece for the blog for some time now. Well, she somewhat relented, letting me use some copy from her own blog. I hope you enjoy her writing and "stream of consciousness" as much as I do.

Below is Pip's follow-up to her 24 Hours of Booty experience, where she completed 250 miles on a fixed gear bicycle.

24 Hours of Booty - We Are What We Are

It is always harder to do something the second time because you know how it plays out. Last year I rode 210 mile on my fixie. This year...we'll get to that in a bit.

The event started and it was a total traffic/track stand fest. As the riders thinned out, I was worried. I knew I was feeling lazy and if only it would rain I could leave. Well it rained...it stormed...6 of us were standing (couldn't sit because the camp ground flooded) in our pink kits holding on to the tent so it wouldn't blow away. We saw tents blow away, bikes fall and we thought (to be honest) it was pretty cool with the element of danger. Then I realized I am standing in water with metal on the bottom of my shoes and wire in my pigtails (Pip style) and lightning is everywhere. After a while, we figured the storm was not going to end soon so we rode back to the shop.

Now let's think this through, "hey it is lightning and they closed the loop because it is unsafe..." what to do…"hey let's ride our bikes back to the shop."

We get to the shop and hang for a bit. Around 1am I decide if I am going to ride I better get back. I had no takers so I had to ride solo through a shady part of town...usually no big deal [but] I am wearing a pink kit, a skirt made from duct tape, and pigtails sticking straight out. Yep, a picture of "Ya wanna piece of me!" I sent fear down the streets of Charlotte.


Got to the loop and people were riding again...I was only on 75 miles and I wanted to do at least 210. I kept riding and riding and riding (you get the picture). When I reached 180 I wanted off my bike. I was done. But 2 people who I will forever call my friends motivated me:

1) Was a guy I have known from the shop. He said all he wants to do is beat my miles from last year (he was also on a fixie ). I said I would ride the rest with him, then I realized I was 10 miles short of 250. So I was forced to finish, [the] longest and slowest 10 mile ever. 2) A person who I thought was similar to me but at the moment we were at odds with each other. As we rode together I realized that "damn we are similar," not only that, we talked out our differences and kept riding. She is an amazing person who is smart as hell and a smart ass to boot.

I felt like the ride was truly honoring my Dad. My Dad was a big believer of looking past the BS and seeing where you stand. Well, with all BS aside the Booty gave me the ability to help where I once felt powerless, a sore ass, and being cool with where I am. I am on a bike. I am helping the fight. I am happy that we looked past the BS. When it is all said and done.."we are what we are" and not what everyone else thinks.

Rob and Jen, thanks for the ride (wish ya'll knew how much you helped)

Pip is co-owner of one of the finest bike shops around, Black Sheep Cycles. She also teaches yoga in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friday, October 05, 2007

On Tap...

Its not so much the events of INTERBIKE week that affect people, but rather the after effects of those events. Some are left in a state of sensory overload, with images that come flashing into and out of our memory through random cues [think NBC's new comedy, CHUCK]. Yes, I think I've just proclaimed myself a HUGE NERD [at least a huge BIKE NERD]. While others are still in a haze from, well, other means.

Over the course of the next few days, more post will be coming out regarding INTERBIKE, including several product reviews, more photos, and a general wrap up. In total, the lil' blog that could will have produced close to 25 post about the expo. YIKES!

"X" Marks the Spot
Its officially cross season, so below are a few races in select regions. For those in the Los Angeles area, this weekend wraps up the Elite National Track Championships. One of the great stories out of Carson, CA so far is Taylor Phinney (Team 5280). If the name sounds familiar, and it should, Taylor is the son of American cycling legends Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter.

Competing in his first-ever track race, the 17-year-old captured a national title in the elite men’s individual pursuit. The new Stars & Stripes jersey will be the perfect compliment to the rainbow jersey Taylor brought home from the UCI Junior World Road and Track Championships held in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where he won in the time trial discipline.

10/03/2007- 10/07/2007
USA Cycling Elite National Track Championships
Carson, CA

10/06/2007
Stony Run Cyclocross Race (TM)
Denver, PA

10/07/2007
John Bryan Cyclocross Classic
Yellow Springs, OH
Whirlybird 'Cross @ Bryn Athyn College
Bryn Athyn, PA
SCPS #2-Redline Cup of Cross
Suylmar, CA
Bay Area Super Prestige Series #1-Sierra Point CX
Brisbane, CA
Stony Creek CX
Shelby Township, MI
Mars Hill Mack Daddy CX Training Race
Mars Hill, NC

For results and photos, click through to Truesport.com.


Injury Update
From the latest doctor's appointment, the broken clavicle I sustained while out at INTERBIKE Demo Days looks to be broken in two places rather than simply at the distal end [where it looks somewhat fragmented]. And if you ever wondered how blood pools from a back-to-front impact injury, take a gander at the front of my shoulder [the back is merely scraped up a bit].

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Viva Crit Vegas - USA Crit Finals

LAS VEGAS - After an eventful opening act the day before with the Excel Sports Cross Vegas, racing continued during INTERBIKE week with the USA Crits Finals.

The backdrop for last Thursday's twilight/night criterium was the beautiful Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, with the races held in the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The course, nicely swept and of even surface, made for a fast and technical 1-kilometer.

Sponsored by Rock Racing, the event featured Men and Women Professional races, and an Industry Cup Challenge for Interbike exhibitors. The latter, which I wished I had paid more attention to as it featured a few riders that formerly graced the professional peloton, turned out to be a mixed bag of differing levels of experience. It was headlined by The Lion King, Mario Cipollini (inset), but also included the likes of Steve Bauer, Mark McCormack [now a representative for Fuji] and Bicycling Magazine's Joao Correia.

Cipo was prevented from roaring one last time as he went down in a heap of people in turn one of the final lap. Kenny Williams (Full Speed Ahead) was the beneficiary of the crash, as he was already well ahead of the field and cruised home to claim the victory. Correia finished in second and Clayton Goldsmith (Hayes Bicycle Group) third.

The Pros
Admittedly, I had some built-in biases [or rather rooting interests] going into both pro races. The Vegas Criterium allowed me the opportunity to watch my friend, Vanderkitten Liz Hatch, race in person, and to meet the staff and riders of Toyota-United.

Women:
Forget about the notion that the Women's race is merely an appetizer to the main course, the Men's race, because these ladies can fly. The field contained its share of heavy hitters despite the exclusion of some prominent names due to their participation in the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Both Cheerwine [with Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin] and Aaron's Corporate Furnishings [Kat Carroll and Sarah Caravella] fielded strong teams. But the race also served as the debut of Team Vanderkitten, with Liz and freshly inked Leigh Valletti.

Image: Leonard Basobas

Despite being off the front early, Liz packed it in after 45 minutes of racing; not having the legs that evening. In the meantime, Leigh had a mechanical (kink in the chain) and pulled out as a result of having to start a lap down. Officially, Leigh was still listed as finishing in 54th [thanks for the edits Liz].

Image: Leonard Basobas

Although several riders attempted to solo, the race was ultimately brought together by the Cheerwine train. They successfully delivered the package [Van Gilder] with the lovely Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini) and Shontelle Gauthier (Bicycle Sport Shop) contesting the final sprint.

Photo: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

During the Women's race I ended up making a new friend, Chris, of XPlane/Team Revolution. The elite team, based out of St. Louis, is comprised of several women from around the Midwest. Chris was there to root on her lone teammate, Carrie Cash. Carrie rode strongly all evening but definitely tired at the end, finishing in 11th.

After the race, I caught up with Liz for a few, and also ran into Shannon Hutchison-Krupat (Aaron's Corporate Furnishings). I met Shannon earlier this summer in Columbus, OH where she raced in the Tour of Grandview. To my surprise, the lady with one of the most infectious and effervescent smiles around, actually remembered me from "the hill," [if you've raced Grandview then you know of what I speak] where I was cheering on the riders that day. She raced mainly in support of her teammates in Vegas, and came in 31st.

Men:
The late start, the mixture of hip-hop and house music, and the "call-up" girls dressed in red and black (below) all seemed strangely appropriate for a cycling event sponsored by Rock Racing and held just off the strip of the city of "Lost Wages."

Image: Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net

Since I didn't have the appropriate camera gear for night action photos and with the VIP area of Rock Racing [where I took in most of the Women's race given that its right at the start/finish line] being nearly inaccessible at this point, I headed over to the Toyota-United tent. And given the outcome of the race, it turned out to be the perfect place.

Thanks to all the support from Sean Weide [Communications Director] of our blogging venture, Amy Walker [General Manager] and United's team owner, Sean Tucker, already knew of me and had a working knowledge of the Triple Crankset. Amy was gracious enough to lend me a hand [quite literally, as I suffered a broken clavicle during Demo days] while she took care of the business end of marketing the team and its products.

Image: Leonard Basobas

On Mr. Tucker's arrival, I was able to speak to him briefly about the new staff additions of Len Pettyjohn and the recently retired Scott Moninger as Director and Assistant Director, respectively. Mr. Tucker's reply, "well, you really can't go wrong with either guy." [We hope to bring you an expanded interview with United's owner sometime in the near future].

The race ended up being hard, fast, and crash filled. For several moments, I thought it wouldn't be Toyota's night as one rider after another ended up beside me and the team car as the race progressed. First it was Chris Wherry, and then as Mr. Tucker and the rest of the staff began to pin their hopes on others, both Jose Manuel Garcia and Ivan Stevic pulled up behind me.

With the race nearing its conclusion, the boys of Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast organized up front to put the screws to the remaining field. In the final lap, it looked as if the tactic would reap its benefit [inadvertent pun] as a large crash in turn one took out or slowed down most of the field. Martin Gilbert, Kelly Benefit's crit specialist, looked every bit like the winner as he had a substantial gap on everyone.

Then, big Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) began to slowly reel him in. The atmosphere around the team's tent at that moment reminded me of something out of March Madness, where your team's best player has just rebounded the ball but needs to drive full court to make the winning shot in the waning seconds.

At each sweeping turn on the course's back stretch, you could see the gap shortening, but you weren't quite sure if Dominguez would have enough road to catch him before the line. In the background, the level of chatter and cheering began to reach fever pitch with Stevic's distinctive voice yelling out, "C'mon Papi!"

When Gilbert and Dominguez reached the final turn, they were even. As Dominguez crossed the line, in typical fashion, the crowd around me erupted and seemed locked in one large group embrace. Gilbert finished second, with teammate David McCook rounding out the podium.

Image: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Dominguez's final comment to closing out the crit season on the highest of notes, "Normally I wouldn't say this...but who's the F---in' Man?!"

No one told me there would be a quiz...

Interbike - Catching Up With...

LAS VEGAS - As I was walking around the infield of the USA Crits Finals' course before the Men's Pro race, I ran into Jonathan Page (Sunweb/Pro Job). For those who aren't familiar with the sport of cyclocross, the 31 year old American is one of the World's best in the discipline.

Athough the history of cyclocross can be traced back to the early 1900's, it didn't become popular in the United States until the 1970's [the first National Championship in the discpline occurred in Berkeley, CA in 1975]. Since that time, the sport hasn't grown as quickly as road racing or mountain biking. But during the 90's, the sport experienced a large growth spurt in the States, and seems to be growing in popularity yearly.

At last year's World Championships, Page became America's highest ever finisher, taking the Silver. Before competing in the Excel Sports Cross Vegas, where he finished 5th, Page won both races of the KTR Double Cross in Michigan. When I asked him if he was ready for the crit, Page just smiled and said "just ready to go around in circles." He left for Belgium yesterday [currently residing in Oudenaarde] to truly begin his racing season.

Photo: Leonard Basobas

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2008 UCI World Calendar

ProTour 2008
Jan. 22-27 -- Tour Down Under (Australia)
April 6 -- Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour des Flandres (Belgium)
April 7-12 -- Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Spain)
April 9 -- Gent-Wevelgem (Belgium)
April 20 -- Amstel Gold Race (The Netherlands)
April 29-May 4 -- Tour de Romandie (Switzerland)
May 19-25 -- Volta a Catalunya (Spain)
June 8-15 -- Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (France)
June 14-22 -- Tour de Suisse (Switzerland)
June 22 -- Team Time Trial (The Netherlands)
Aug. 2 -- Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian-San Sebastian (Spain)
Aug. 20-27 -- Eneco Tour (Bel, Ned, Luxembourg)
Aug. 25 -- GP Ouest France - Plouay (France)
Aug. 29-Sept. 6 -- Deutschland Tour (Germany)
Sept. 7 -- Vattenfall Cyclassics (Germany)
Sept. 15-21 -- Tour de Pologne (Poland)
Oct. 5 -- Finale (TBD)

UCI World calendar (non ProTour)
July 5-27 -- Tour de France (France) *
Aug. 13 -- Olympic Games Road Race (China)
Aug. 9 -- Olympic Games Time Trial (China)
Sept. 25 -- World Championships Time Trial (Italy)
Sept. 28 -- World Championships Road Race (Italy)

UCI Europe Tour
March 9-16 -- Paris-Nice (Fra) HC
March 12-18 -- Tirreno-Adriatico (Ita) HC
March 22 -- Milano-Sanremo (Italy)*
April 13 -- Paris-Roubaix (France) *
April 23 -- La Flèche Wallonne (Belgium) HC
April 27 -- Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium)*
May 10-June 1 -- Giro d'Italia (Italy) *
Aug. 30-Sept. 21 -- Vuelta a España (Spain) *
Oct. 12 -- Paris-Tours (Fra) HC
Oct. 18 -- Giro di Lombardia (Italy) *

* New class at the top of the calendar's hierarchy

Monday, October 01, 2007

Off The Map?

As I sat in the INTERBIKE media center last Thursday, a gentleman sitting across the table smiled at me, and with a bit of an astonished look on his face said, "Its crazy, we are at INTERBIKE and the Worlds are going on right now, but no one is talking about it. The papers in my hometown of Stuttgart [Germany] didn't even have a write up or announcement about the World Championships!"

Although many fans had forgotten about the Worlds, the riders certainly didn't as several defending champions really peaked in time to show their form.

Squadra Azzurra
The tifosi are smiling on both sides of the aisle today as Italy swept both the Women's and Men's road races.

Marta Bastianelli claimed the rainbow jersey on Saturday, but it could have easily gone to any of her teammates as the Squadra Azzurra Donne controlled the race, placing three riders in the top five. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) took silver and Giorgia Bronzini the bronze.

Il Grillo, Paolo Bettini (Image: Roberto Bettini), defended his title making easy work of the field. The highest placed American was the T-Mobile bound George Hincapie. Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation) and Stefan Schumacher (Germany) finished in second and third, respectively.

The time trial events went to Germany's Hanka Kupfernagel and Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara. Women's defending champion, America's Kristin Armstrong finish second to the surprising Kupfernagel, with Austria's Christiane Soeder coming in third. The American women were exceptionally strong in this year's event with Amber Neben and Christine Thorburn placing just off the podium in 4th and 5th, respectively.

Image: Roberto Bettini

Cancellara (Image: Robert Bettini), like Bettini, defended his rainbow jersey. David Zabriskie was America's highest placer, coming in 12th. Hungary's Lazio Bodrogi and the Netherland's Stef Clement rounded out the podium.

Image: PhotoSport International

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You're My Boy...

OK, Maybe Not.

This type of news is usually handled by T-o-03, but our friend of the blog in Ohio alerted me to this tidbit.

According to Us Magazine, Our Boy Lance and Ashley Olsen “were spotted cuddling at NYC’s Rose Bar, where they reportedly kissed and the twin sat on the cyclist's lap.”


Whereas one of the NY Post’s Page Six barflies (-spies) reported that "…they came together with a group of friends. Ashley drank red wine, sat on his lap and they were making out all night. They left together around 2 a.m."

Say it ain’t so…

OBL’s love life has descended and careened off course faster than Joseba Beloki at the 2003 TdF [and we all know how that one turned out]. From Kristin, to Sheryl Crow, to Tory Burch, and now straight down to an Olsen twin [without even a Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan stop in-between].

Where’s the shirtless wonder, Matthew McConaughey, when OBL really needed him?

Perhaps OBL was just missing his in-competition wafer-like looks and decided to cuddle up next to someone that reminded him of those glory days? [oh right, that's Mary-Kate's deal isn't it?]

Does an Olsen twin even count as what (former Chicago Cub first baseman) Mark Grace refers to as a “slump buster,” after OBL’s break up with Tory Burch?

Who might be next on OBL's fall down lover's lane...I think the former Mrs. Federline's ears just perked up.

And yes, the Olsens are now of drinking age…

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hooligans - Not Just for Soccer Anymore

One of my worst fears was realized when I read today’s first edition of Cyclingnews, Cyclists Seriously Injured by Auto Passenger.

Being raised in an environment where people, juveniles, found joy in vandalizing everything from mailboxes to lawns, one of my greatest fears while cycling [not the most popular youth sport in that type of environment] was to have someone “in good fun” run me off the road or try to push me off my bike.

As reported in Cyclingnews:
A 59 year-old cyclist in Bromley, Kent, England, was seriously injured when a rider in a passing car reached out and pushed him off his bike, cyclingweekly.co.uk reported. Tony Barrett suffered serious neck and back injuries and at first was thought to be paralyzed.

Barrett was able to tell police that a car went by him and that he felt two hands push him. He lost consciousness when he hit his head in falling...MORE

The Off-Season?

Baseball? Now football?
Well, you just gotta see this play! Fourteen laterals and a 69-yard touchdown in Division III.
Enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wicked Pissah!

Boston Globe Staff Photo/Barry Chin

You'll have to forgive this momentary lapse from cycling blogdom as my fandom has taken over.

From a historical context, the 2007 World Series Championship by the Boston Red Sox will never compare to the 2004 Championship [although the method by which each team arrived at a championship was eerily familiar; each faced elimination in the League Championship before sweeping through the World Series]. However, the feeling is just as sweet!

I know fans from our biggest rival, "the evil empire," will probably be quick to remind me and the rest of Red Sox Nation that we still have 19 more championships to capture before we pull even. But, for the second time in four years we at least have the opportunity to say...

How do you like them apples?!

Until Next Year:

An 8th Inning Tradition - Sweet Caroline (mp3)
Standells - Dirty Water (mp3)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Next Great American Cyclist

Greg Lemond...Lance Armstrong...Mara Abbott?

That's correct, the next great American cyclist could very well be a female. For those of you who have been following the development and cycling career of Mara Abbott (formerly of Webcor Builders) the idea of her carrying the "next" label, though lofty, is certainly within the realm of possibility for the precocious talent who recently completed her second year at the elite level [and her first with a professional team].

Image: Don Karle

A former collegiate swimmer at Division II Whitman College in Washington, Abbott didn't pick up competitive cycling until her freshman year. Amazingly, she won the US National Collegiate Road Race in that same season. Since then, the 21 year old senior is the proud owner of a closet full of stars & stripes jerseys.

This year Abbott finished on the podium at
the Redlands Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and at the Montreal World Cup [her very first race against a world class peloton]. She followed up on those podium placings by besting USWCDF mentors Kristin Armstrong and Amber Neben to claim the Elite Women's National Championship Road Race.

For all her accomplishments to date, she has been featured in Sports Illustrated's [August 27th edition] Faces in the Crowd [remember when that was a rare and prestigious honor, then came the internet], featured in Cyclingnews, and recently graced the cover of Velonews [as "The Next American World Champion?"].

Now comes the news that Abbott (image: PhotoSport International) has just inked a contract with the venerable T-Mobile Women's squad. She joins new additions German Road Champion Luise Keller and young talent Madeleine Sandig on a team that had 31 victories in 2007 and finished as the UCI #1 ranked women's professional team in the world.

How's that for a graduation present?

For the young woman whose stated goals [from the Webcor Builders website] this year were,
To learn…to become a complete cyclist, to understand what I am doing, and why I am doing it. And I want to climb up every mountain that I have ever climbed faster than I have climbed it before. I want to win a race that I get flowers for! And in the future? I want to return to the races I sampled last year, and I want to win them. I want to be one of the people I now look up to. I wish to attend the Olympics someday. I want to look at the view from various tops of podiums all across the world. I don’t know the specific goals yet. But they will come out. And while doing this, I want to learn about the world… I want to speak languages. I want to work with governments and activist groups. I want to be involved in the WORLD.
Mara Abbott is certainly more than on her way.

Although you'll probably have less of an opportunity to catch Abbott in person because of T-Mobile's heavily ladened European schedule, don't let that deter you from following the arch of America's latest rising star.

[I, for one, can't wait to see how she'll match up against Nicole Cooke [among others] in the Women's peloton].

Independent Thought
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall

Images: Leonard Basobas

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Published in 1923, Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay is perhaps his most famous work. It captures the transitory and fleeting nature of not only the autumnal season, but of an idyllic vision of life.

The fall is unquestionably my favorite of the four seasons [or for some, three seasons, wedged right in between "construction" and winter].


I cannot say for certain whether my love of the autumn stems more from the briskness of air that alerts my senses or the vibrancy of color that emblazons my mind. Perhaps, it is both accompanied by all that the fall engenders.

The rustling of fallen leaves beneath your feet or against your body as you dive into a pile, the blaze of color that brightens the surroundings even on the most overcast of days, the smell of burning leaf piles...

Harvesting, apple picking, pumpkin picking...

The tinge of cold on your nose and cheeks as you pick up speed on your ride, the indecisiveness of using a gillet, arm and leg warmers or breaking out a full jacket and knickers, the weekly mud dance we know as cyclocross...

This weekend most likely marks the peak of color change for those in the most southern parts of the northern climes, so make sure you take it all in before fall of leaf gives way to fall of snowflake.

Cranking up the Triple for le Tour '08

Atop the Tourmalet in 2003 (photos by Steve Klein)

Blogs need to be fed (both by the bloggers and, hopefully, by our readers), and the Crankset has been a little creeky lately.

Sorry about that. The Crankset is not going away; far from it. Granny, along with the assistance of Sean Weide, our wonderful Sprocket, friend and the Communications Director of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, have provided the Crankset with new directions that have resulted in a growing audience. That wasn't our goal when we started the blog with 53rd Tooth going on two years ago, but it is where we are more than 900 posts and many of your comments later.

Life gets busy and things slide. That's called priorities, I suppose. I maintain two other school-related (I teach) blogs, and they have been taking up a lot of my time lately. School, too.

But enough about mechanics ... time to turn the old crankset.

Here's an interesting story from the Sydney Morning Herald about doping and drug whistleblowers and the price they sometimes pay. I've never been to Australia (it's on the list), but it's obvious that the Aussies don't just love their tennis players. Cyclists and swimmers get their fair share of attention, and when swimmer Elka Graham wrote in a column in the paper that she had been offered performance enhanding drugs before the 2004 Athens Olympics, she came under such attack that no other than WADA boss Dick Pound came to her rescue.

Keep an eye on the Australian sporting press -- and on the planned Australian national team entry in the Tour de France for 2009.


Speaking of the Tour de France ...

The Crankset should not let the announcement of the 2008 Tour route July 5-27 pass without comment.

There is no prologue.

No team time trial
.

Two times trials
, including July 26, the penultimate day of the Tour (as usual).

In the Pyrénées
, the Crankset fondly remembers the Col de Tourmalet (17.7km at 7.5 percent and 2,115 m) and the Col d'Aspin (12.1km at 6.6 percent and 1,489 m) from our 2003 Trek Travel trip. Stages 8 and 9 finish and start, respectively, in Toulouse, where the Crankset first met.

In the Alps
, Stage 16 includes the remarkable Col de la Bonette-Restefond (26.7km at 6.2 percent and 2,802m). The 9,193-foot Col de la Bonette-Restefond was last part of the Tour in 1993.

Stage 17
includes both the Col due Galibier (20.9 km at 5.6 percent and 2,645m) AND a finishing climb to Alpe d'Huez (1.3 km at 8.6 percent and 1,869m).

"It's definitely a climbers' Tour," said Aussie Cadel Evans.

Much more to say about the route, but we'll leave additional comment to Granny and, as always, you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wildfire

Near Del Dios Highway in the Rancho Santa Fe Area
(Image:
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

For many, the California wildfires are as distant as, well, the Iraq war [not that the comparison of lives lost is even analogous]. Call it a case of human nature, "out of sight, out of mind," or "if its not in my backyard, then it doesn't affect me," but people could sooner come up with the lyrics to Michael Murphey's song, Wildfire, than describe one.

[Yes, your neighbor just heard you belt out the refrain]

So to "put a face" on what's happening on the left coast, I asked my friend and fellow cyclist, Kathleen King (inset), to share her experiences. As you'll read, she is one of the fortunate ones, but for so many others their ordeals are just beginning.

San Diego, CA - In San Diego's North County the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 101) runs right along the beach past world famous surf breaks. The bike paths on either side are precious ground to thousands of cyclists who enjoy its gentle cliff climbs and unhindered straightaways every day. You can see a pro cyclist burn up the pavement while watching a pro surfer take the drop on a perfect wave morning, noon and evening. From the PCH bike paths head east like tributaries leading through rolling hills and canyons, down riverbeds and along lagoons.

Just after noon on Sunday 10/21, I was suited up and ready for my 25 miles on a glorious SoCal day. As I put on my gloves I glanced out the window and saw that strange orange light on the ground, an all too familiar sight. It meant something somewhere was on fire. A moment later, the smell of smoke. Then an enormous gust of wind shook the house. I ran down the stairs and out to the driveway to scan the sky. To my surprise, many of my neighbors were out in the street too. It was hard to look up for all the stuff flying through the air. Already the ashes of what turned out to be Witch Creek had begun to fall. Within minutes the neighborhood had filled with smoke that darkened the sky. My bike ride plans were done. One last cyclist - backpack, T-shirt, rode past eastward battling a 35 mph headwind choking on the dirty air, desperate to get home.

An eerie stillness settled on North County as we sat inside, glued to the TV for each update. Somehow we knew this one was different. Then the Fire Chief said it: with near hurricane force winds and humidity at -2 "...this one could roll to the sea..."

When you grow up in a place, even the size of San Diego, every community name has a face connected to it, folks with elderly parents, small children, horses, pets, gardens, art... You watch the maps and wonder if they are packing up, if they got their animals out OK. You hope your phone doesn't ring with a reverse 911 call to tell you to be ready. But you pack anyway. You all call each other and wait. No one sleeps.

Ironically, my "Harden the F--- Up" wristband arrived in the mail (the postman wore a particle mask) the day I got that call to evacuate. There were rumors all night about house fires a mile over the hill but they never materialized and we were allowed to go back home. For so many others, people I know personally, the nightmare is only beginning. I count among my blessings this morning that I awoke in my own bed and that my house has not been burned to the ground. I have hot and cold running water for my shower and electricity to make my breakfast. The markets and restaurants down the road are open and ready to provide whatever I need. Many, not ten miles away can't say these things.

But help has been arriving from all directions since the ordeal began and continues to be lavished on this region. We are all grateful for their boundless generosity. The fires are going out one by one. The lessons of Katrina, thankfully, have been learned. The recovery from this disaster will be swift in comparison.

Torrey Pines State Beach in Del Mar
(Image: Kathleen King)


For now the sky is still brown. The beloved bike lanes remain empty. The "particulate matter" in the air is not just unpleasant, it’s toxic. So the devotees of two wheels wait to add bike rides back to their list of blessings. It won't be long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Astana's New Discovery: Alberto Contador

Team Astana has come a long way in a short time since the Tour de France shame of Alexandre Vinokourov.

It's come such a long way that it would be nice if its website caught up with it.

The latest news:
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has signed a two-year contract to ride with Astana and rejoin the team's new general manager, Johan Bruyneel, and sporting director Sean Yates.

"After considering the different offers that I have had, I have opted for Astana because it is a completely new project," Contador said.

New for Astana, but the team looks like the disbanded Discovery Channel team. Contador follows former Discovery teammate Levi Leipheimer (will Levi EVER get to be a team leader?) to the Kazakh-sponsored but Swiss-based, formerly scandal-ridden team.

"The project of new Astana is magnificent and I am very happy of being able to have Alberto Contador to lead this team, because he is the rider of the future," Bruyneel said (sounding like a bad Kazakh translation).

Contador said Astana's new team (how many times can an old team say new, new, new?) would include Alain Gallopin of France and -- are you sitting? -- former Russian cyclist Viatcheslav Ekimov. Andreas Kloeden remains.

"Of course Astana has had some bad press," said Yates. "But Johan Bruyneel has never had a positive test with a team he has been involved with. And I am confident that we will not have any problems in the future."

Now, who hasn't had a positive test? Bruyneel? Or the team's riders?

Former Astana leader Vinokourov was dismissed by the team after he tested positive for blood doping in this year's Tour de France, as you no doubt remember.

And two other riders from the team, Andrej Kashechkin and Matthias Kessler, have also failed doping tests this year.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All About Cycling Sportives

Guys like you? (photo/London Times)

Here's a terrific read in today's Times of London on the Etape du Tour.

Never heard of it?

Our Boy Lance
never won it? Well it's not for Lance. And it may not be for you.

The Etape
is one of a series of increasingly popular challenge events known as cycling sportives [a list of the more popular ones are on the right navigation bar]. These events are serious and fun – in this case, IF you enjoy climbing. You get to meet hundreds of other cyclists while getting a taste of what it’s like to be a cycling professional (sans drugs, of course!).

The Etape du Tour course is a one-day section of the Tour de France that winds through the Pyrenees or Alps. But I'll let Richard Caseby tell you more.

Independent Thought
The flights of various destinations are managed by the airlines companies of different countries for the domestic as well as international services. The vacation packages of various destinations are offered by the travel managers in the different rates. The cheap flights towards different regions are arranged by the travel agencies which are associated with different airlines. Browse different traveling packages of the different travel agents if you want to get discount car rental as the extra option. The cheap cruises are available by the different organizers of cruise vacations in the affordable rates. The resorts of the different countries are selected by the travelers and vacationers according to their own personal preferences. The vacation deals include all necessary options like accommodating facilities, car rental services and travel guide etc.

Team Hoyt

I'm sure you're quite familiar with this highly publicized story by now. It's the incredible story of a father and his unwavering love and dedication to his son with cerebal palsy. If last count serves me correctly, they have completed 27 Ironmans and something like 70 marathons.

It's been nearly a year since viewing the video and it has the same impact on me as it did the first time I watched it.

Sometimes we seek inspiration and come up short and yet other times its right there before us.

If you haven't yet watched the video, enjoy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wake-Up Call

I don't post unrelated material often, but if you have a cat (my wife and I do), you will definitely appreciate this:

The Appeal


Last Thursday, Floyd Landis and his advisers filed for a state of execution of his cycling career to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Make no mistake about it, this appeal is more than an attempt to re-claim the yellow jersey that was officially handed over to Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) earlier this week, it is an attempt to save his livelihood. In the end, that's all that may be salvaged from this seemingly never ending saga.

The Appeal.

It sounds like a title befitting Franz Kafka. Since that memorable and now infamous Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, Landis' story has some parallels to that of the character Josef K in Kafka's novel The Trial.

In The Trial, Josef K, or simply K, awakens one morning and for reasons never revealed, is arrested and subjected to the judicial process for an unspecified crime.

As Landis awoke the Monday after winning the 2006 Tour, he was informed of a possible non-negative result. Through a winding unspecified judicial process, arbitrators decided that those initial condemning results were obtained by shoddy and unethical means. Yet, like K, Landis is now faced with an existential crisis [Landis’ related to his cycling mortality].

Although a set of backup tests revealed the presence of exogenous testosterone, I cannot shake the feeling of injustice. [Landis’ verdict and K's plight in The Trial having been sadistically fashioned by the same hand [of fate].

Should Landis, or K, have ever been brought to the point of choosing how their respective existence concludes?

That answer is perhaps central to the upcoming Landis appeal. But unfortunately for Landis and his backers, this judicial process is not about who is right or wrong, or what is logical. This process is about authority and winning. And in that arena, Landis cannot win.

When I first heard of his decision to appeal to the CAS, I struggled to find a reason why Landis would subject himself and his family to what amounts to a quest for something unattainable [the Holy Grail of reversing a doping charge]. By undergoing the appeal process, Landis has essentially positioned himself to receive that "definitive" NO that a child who pushes an agenda too far often receives from their parents.

Why didn't Floyd merely accept his fate and move on with life, as his mother suggested?

If you were faced with a complete loss of your livelihood, a death of sorts, to what extremes would you go to prevent it?

Again, in Landis’ case he may only be in search of a reprieve and not a complete over-turning of his verdict. His two-year band from cycling will be complete as of January 2009. The appeal to CAS may just get him back to racing next year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Are You an Ass Kicker?

Vanderkitten - Press Release

Berkeley, Calif.Vanderkitten announces the establishment of Vanderkitten Racing, an experienced and talented team of Elite Women cyclists contesting the NRC Road circuit in 2008.

Growing on the success of the one-woman team of Liz Hatch in 2007, Vanderkitten will be fielding a 6-woman elite team as well as developmental and regional support riders.

"Our success in sponsoring Liz Hatch in 2007 has convinced us that Vanderkitten and cycling go hand in hand. Our focus next year will be the majority of the NRC calendar, and to that effect we have signed 4 immensely talented girls with another 2 athletes to be announced shortly" says Vanderkitten's Mark Zefeldt.

The current roster includes Leigh Valletti of Atlanta, GA, Mandy Lozano of Charlottesville, VA, Christine Vardaros of Mill Valley, CA, with Liz Hatch of Delray Beach, FL returning for another season. The team is accepting resumes and is in serious talks with several bike companies and corporate sponsors.

"Vanderkitten is thrilled to support these hard working, vibrant athletes and the sport of Women's Cycling. We're all looking forward to the upcoming season with great anticipation. Vanderkitten's mission since its inception is to create a long-term relationship with cycling and raise the bar of sponsorships for women athletes. High profile athletes provide a tremendous marketing value to all parties associated with their image. Women influence both female AND male purchasing decisions. Why, then, have women typically earned less than 10% of most pro male athletes salaries?" asks Vanderkitten's founder David Verrecchia of Berkeley.

Vanderkitten introduced a line of clothing and cycling apparel at Interbike whose proceeds go directly to build and support the cycling program. For more information please visit: Vanderkitten Racing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Winner and Now Champion

"It is essentially a kind of release," said Oscar Pereiro (AP photo/Daniel Sastre)

On the occasion of the 900th post since the Triple Crankset debuted on March 29, 2006, we bring your the 2006 Tour de France champion, Oscar Pereiro.

"Finally, we have a winner and it's Oscar," Tour director Christian Prudhomme with characteristic abplomb at the handover ceremony in Madrid. "Oscar, you have won the Tour out on the road."

Pereiro was gracious in the way he handled the controversy involving the displaced (disgraced?) winner, Bad Boy Floyd:

“I feel sorry for him (Landis). He was disqualified after the biggest triumph in his life and won’t be able to enjoy it, but as a sportsman you have to abide by the rules.

“I now realise the Tour organisers had to wait for a resolution and I was wrong about them even though Landis has appealed again against the decision. This is a very important day for me and I’m not going to ruin it by thinking about any appeal.”

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Season Winds Down

Somewhere, they are still racing.
But the 2007 professional racing season is winding down.

Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of the Milram team won the 101st Paris-Tours classic over 256km from Paris to Tours Sunday. Petacchi was led out by his German teammate, Eric Zabel, to edge out Francesco Chicchi in the final sprint. Oscar Freire of Spain was third after being impeded in the sprint. Dutchman Steven De Jongh and Australians Allan Davis and Robbie McEwen followed.

Petacchi reflected on a difficult season in which he was cleared of doping despite returning a non-negative result for the asthma drug Salbutamol. He was later cleared of doping by the Italian Cycling Federation, who put the result down to human error. However, the Italian Olympic Committee has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"This season has been the most difficult of my career," said Petacchi. "It began badly with my broken knee last year. After the Giro (in June), other problems started. I went through every stage of suffering, even though I won two stages at (September's) Vuelta. "Finally, without a doubt, it's today that I've had my best day of the year."

This was the penultimate race of the Pro Tour season. Former Pro Tour winner Danilo Di Luca still leads the Tour standings over Australia's Cadel Evans and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

There's two more chances to watch cycling on Versus this season:
-- Paris-Tours will be repeated Thursday from 4-6 p.m. ET.
-- And Saturday from 5-7 p.m. ET, the Giro di Lombardia concludes the Pro Tour season.

Independent Thought
The vacation is a way of enjoying the spare time with full zest of life in the well-managed way. The airline tickets are presented in the main office of Airline Corporation in the cheap rates. The cheap airline tickets are a good option for the travelers due to affordable prices. The airline tickets of different airlines are available in the headquarters of the airlines. If you want to reserve your flight to go Hawaii, you should contact the customer service center of hawaiian airlines. The travelers of Orlando are desirous to get services of the local airlines for booking orlando flights in the feasible rates. If you want to buy airline ticket of the international airlines companies, you may have access to their customer service center via internet too.

Pereiro Finally Gets His Due

Fifteen months after the fact, Oscar Pereiro will win the 2006 Tour de France -- or at least be rewarded with the yellow jersey that Bad Boy Floyd has clung to so tenaciously.

Say what you will about BBF and what you believe or want to believe.

Pereiro will have his moment Monday, and Samuel Abt of the International Herald Tribune gives Pereiro his due:

Oscar Pereiro's long wait ends Monday, when dismal autumn will turn to radiant summer and the sparse crowd in the office of the Spanish sports minister in Madrid will grow into hundreds of thousands cheering on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Not really, Pereiro knows. Still, better than nothing, which is all the reward the 30-year-old Spaniard has enjoyed since July 24, 2006, when he finished second in the Tour de France by 57 seconds, and July 27 of the same year, when he learned that he might have finished first.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What The...



I'm guessing this bike was created for:

1) The one guy who likes to sit in trains or planes backward.
2) The guy who never got over the sensation of riding the backwards roller coaster at Six Flags.
3) The ambiguously "straight" duo; as the lead rider could feel the heat of the other guy staring at his arse for 161kms [but doesn't realize that his buddy hasn't taken off his "rear view" mirror since flipping the bike frame].
4) Two guys who really love to ride but are saddled with an indescribable flatulence problem.

The Number One


Everyone has one (whether they realize it or not). Its that person that believes in you completely...the president of your would-be fan club...your number one.

For me, its my lil' buddy, my nephew.

In his eyes, his Uncle Lenny is "too strong," and can do no wrong. [Of course he's also come up with the conclusion that he'd like to vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election].

Although his dad and mom seem to be fashioning him into the next Ronaldinho (which would be amazing in its own right), I've already got him itching to participate in the children's races next year at the Tour de Grandview.


Of course that comes with a caveat, "only if my uncle races with the big guys." So it looks as if I'll be targeting at least one race next year. And "my number one" will likely be ready to capture the moment [some of his early work (L to R: the women's race and his dad), from last year's race, is below].

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Now You See Them ... Now You Don't!

Granny has been so on on top of Interbike (and over the top of a mountain bike at Interbike) that there just hasn't been any trash on the Crankset lately.

Yeah, yeah ... it's a dirty job (kinda like cleaning an old triple crankset), but somebody's gotta do it!

So ...
Our Boy Lance
and New York fashion designer Tory Burch are no longer an item, according to People magazine.

WHAT! You didn't know that OBL and Tory Burch were an item?
That's because you've been busy reading all about Interbike!

"The story is true," says a source in the cycling champion's camp, referring to a Wednesday report in the New York Post's Page Six column on their split.

(Now there's two reliable sources for you!)

According to the story -- OK, item -- Burch's spokesperson called the breakup "amicable," saying that "geography" was to blame (OBL lives in Austin).

OBL and Burch were first seen together in March -- though by then, the seven-time Tour de France champion had been quietly dating Burch for months.

Again: according to sources, so it must be true.
And, if you don't think it is, check out the picture and tell me who Burch looks like ...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Interbike - In Search of...29ers

I've been a little slow to come around to the latest cycling phenomena of riding 29ers, but I'm not the only one. It really depends on who you talk to as some retailers think that 29ers are just a passing fad, while those that ride them can't seem to remember why they ever rode 26" wheels in the first place.

Karen Lundgren of the adventure racing team Teamsole.com swears by her Intense 29er telling me at OutDoor Demo Days that, "there are some things I know I couldn't ride over if I wasn't on one."

Nearly every manufacturer has a version of a 29er, so I went on a mini exposition floor scavenger hunt to see if I could find something comparable to my friend, Krissy's, Lenz Leviathan.

Carver's 99er

Jamis

Bianchi's SoK

Seven's Sola 29er

Salsa's Mamacita
"Oooh, Mama Like...?"

Photos: Leonard Basobas

Bootilicious

I've been trying to get my friend, Pip Gregson, [who was featured in an earlier post about an LAF fundraiser, the 24 Hours of Booty], to write a piece for the blog for some time now. Well, she somewhat relented, letting me use some copy from her own blog. I hope you enjoy her writing and "stream of consciousness" as much as I do.

Below is Pip's follow-up to her 24 Hours of Booty experience, where she completed 250 miles on a fixed gear bicycle.

24 Hours of Booty - We Are What We Are

It is always harder to do something the second time because you know how it plays out. Last year I rode 210 mile on my fixie. This year...we'll get to that in a bit.

The event started and it was a total traffic/track stand fest. As the riders thinned out, I was worried. I knew I was feeling lazy and if only it would rain I could leave. Well it rained...it stormed...6 of us were standing (couldn't sit because the camp ground flooded) in our pink kits holding on to the tent so it wouldn't blow away. We saw tents blow away, bikes fall and we thought (to be honest) it was pretty cool with the element of danger. Then I realized I am standing in water with metal on the bottom of my shoes and wire in my pigtails (Pip style) and lightning is everywhere. After a while, we figured the storm was not going to end soon so we rode back to the shop.

Now let's think this through, "hey it is lightning and they closed the loop because it is unsafe..." what to do…"hey let's ride our bikes back to the shop."

We get to the shop and hang for a bit. Around 1am I decide if I am going to ride I better get back. I had no takers so I had to ride solo through a shady part of town...usually no big deal [but] I am wearing a pink kit, a skirt made from duct tape, and pigtails sticking straight out. Yep, a picture of "Ya wanna piece of me!" I sent fear down the streets of Charlotte.


Got to the loop and people were riding again...I was only on 75 miles and I wanted to do at least 210. I kept riding and riding and riding (you get the picture). When I reached 180 I wanted off my bike. I was done. But 2 people who I will forever call my friends motivated me:

1) Was a guy I have known from the shop. He said all he wants to do is beat my miles from last year (he was also on a fixie ). I said I would ride the rest with him, then I realized I was 10 miles short of 250. So I was forced to finish, [the] longest and slowest 10 mile ever. 2) A person who I thought was similar to me but at the moment we were at odds with each other. As we rode together I realized that "damn we are similar," not only that, we talked out our differences and kept riding. She is an amazing person who is smart as hell and a smart ass to boot.

I felt like the ride was truly honoring my Dad. My Dad was a big believer of looking past the BS and seeing where you stand. Well, with all BS aside the Booty gave me the ability to help where I once felt powerless, a sore ass, and being cool with where I am. I am on a bike. I am helping the fight. I am happy that we looked past the BS. When it is all said and done.."we are what we are" and not what everyone else thinks.

Rob and Jen, thanks for the ride (wish ya'll knew how much you helped)

Pip is co-owner of one of the finest bike shops around, Black Sheep Cycles. She also teaches yoga in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Friday, October 05, 2007

On Tap...

Its not so much the events of INTERBIKE week that affect people, but rather the after effects of those events. Some are left in a state of sensory overload, with images that come flashing into and out of our memory through random cues [think NBC's new comedy, CHUCK]. Yes, I think I've just proclaimed myself a HUGE NERD [at least a huge BIKE NERD]. While others are still in a haze from, well, other means.

Over the course of the next few days, more post will be coming out regarding INTERBIKE, including several product reviews, more photos, and a general wrap up. In total, the lil' blog that could will have produced close to 25 post about the expo. YIKES!

"X" Marks the Spot
Its officially cross season, so below are a few races in select regions. For those in the Los Angeles area, this weekend wraps up the Elite National Track Championships. One of the great stories out of Carson, CA so far is Taylor Phinney (Team 5280). If the name sounds familiar, and it should, Taylor is the son of American cycling legends Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter.

Competing in his first-ever track race, the 17-year-old captured a national title in the elite men’s individual pursuit. The new Stars & Stripes jersey will be the perfect compliment to the rainbow jersey Taylor brought home from the UCI Junior World Road and Track Championships held in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where he won in the time trial discipline.

10/03/2007- 10/07/2007
USA Cycling Elite National Track Championships
Carson, CA

10/06/2007
Stony Run Cyclocross Race (TM)
Denver, PA

10/07/2007
John Bryan Cyclocross Classic
Yellow Springs, OH
Whirlybird 'Cross @ Bryn Athyn College
Bryn Athyn, PA
SCPS #2-Redline Cup of Cross
Suylmar, CA
Bay Area Super Prestige Series #1-Sierra Point CX
Brisbane, CA
Stony Creek CX
Shelby Township, MI
Mars Hill Mack Daddy CX Training Race
Mars Hill, NC

For results and photos, click through to Truesport.com.


Injury Update
From the latest doctor's appointment, the broken clavicle I sustained while out at INTERBIKE Demo Days looks to be broken in two places rather than simply at the distal end [where it looks somewhat fragmented]. And if you ever wondered how blood pools from a back-to-front impact injury, take a gander at the front of my shoulder [the back is merely scraped up a bit].

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Viva Crit Vegas - USA Crit Finals

LAS VEGAS - After an eventful opening act the day before with the Excel Sports Cross Vegas, racing continued during INTERBIKE week with the USA Crits Finals.

The backdrop for last Thursday's twilight/night criterium was the beautiful Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, with the races held in the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The course, nicely swept and of even surface, made for a fast and technical 1-kilometer.

Sponsored by Rock Racing, the event featured Men and Women Professional races, and an Industry Cup Challenge for Interbike exhibitors. The latter, which I wished I had paid more attention to as it featured a few riders that formerly graced the professional peloton, turned out to be a mixed bag of differing levels of experience. It was headlined by The Lion King, Mario Cipollini (inset), but also included the likes of Steve Bauer, Mark McCormack [now a representative for Fuji] and Bicycling Magazine's Joao Correia.

Cipo was prevented from roaring one last time as he went down in a heap of people in turn one of the final lap. Kenny Williams (Full Speed Ahead) was the beneficiary of the crash, as he was already well ahead of the field and cruised home to claim the victory. Correia finished in second and Clayton Goldsmith (Hayes Bicycle Group) third.

The Pros
Admittedly, I had some built-in biases [or rather rooting interests] going into both pro races. The Vegas Criterium allowed me the opportunity to watch my friend, Vanderkitten Liz Hatch, race in person, and to meet the staff and riders of Toyota-United.

Women:
Forget about the notion that the Women's race is merely an appetizer to the main course, the Men's race, because these ladies can fly. The field contained its share of heavy hitters despite the exclusion of some prominent names due to their participation in the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Both Cheerwine [with Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin] and Aaron's Corporate Furnishings [Kat Carroll and Sarah Caravella] fielded strong teams. But the race also served as the debut of Team Vanderkitten, with Liz and freshly inked Leigh Valletti.

Image: Leonard Basobas

Despite being off the front early, Liz packed it in after 45 minutes of racing; not having the legs that evening. In the meantime, Leigh had a mechanical (kink in the chain) and pulled out as a result of having to start a lap down. Officially, Leigh was still listed as finishing in 54th [thanks for the edits Liz].

Image: Leonard Basobas

Although several riders attempted to solo, the race was ultimately brought together by the Cheerwine train. They successfully delivered the package [Van Gilder] with the lovely Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini) and Shontelle Gauthier (Bicycle Sport Shop) contesting the final sprint.

Photo: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

During the Women's race I ended up making a new friend, Chris, of XPlane/Team Revolution. The elite team, based out of St. Louis, is comprised of several women from around the Midwest. Chris was there to root on her lone teammate, Carrie Cash. Carrie rode strongly all evening but definitely tired at the end, finishing in 11th.

After the race, I caught up with Liz for a few, and also ran into Shannon Hutchison-Krupat (Aaron's Corporate Furnishings). I met Shannon earlier this summer in Columbus, OH where she raced in the Tour of Grandview. To my surprise, the lady with one of the most infectious and effervescent smiles around, actually remembered me from "the hill," [if you've raced Grandview then you know of what I speak] where I was cheering on the riders that day. She raced mainly in support of her teammates in Vegas, and came in 31st.

Men:
The late start, the mixture of hip-hop and house music, and the "call-up" girls dressed in red and black (below) all seemed strangely appropriate for a cycling event sponsored by Rock Racing and held just off the strip of the city of "Lost Wages."

Image: Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net

Since I didn't have the appropriate camera gear for night action photos and with the VIP area of Rock Racing [where I took in most of the Women's race given that its right at the start/finish line] being nearly inaccessible at this point, I headed over to the Toyota-United tent. And given the outcome of the race, it turned out to be the perfect place.

Thanks to all the support from Sean Weide [Communications Director] of our blogging venture, Amy Walker [General Manager] and United's team owner, Sean Tucker, already knew of me and had a working knowledge of the Triple Crankset. Amy was gracious enough to lend me a hand [quite literally, as I suffered a broken clavicle during Demo days] while she took care of the business end of marketing the team and its products.

Image: Leonard Basobas

On Mr. Tucker's arrival, I was able to speak to him briefly about the new staff additions of Len Pettyjohn and the recently retired Scott Moninger as Director and Assistant Director, respectively. Mr. Tucker's reply, "well, you really can't go wrong with either guy." [We hope to bring you an expanded interview with United's owner sometime in the near future].

The race ended up being hard, fast, and crash filled. For several moments, I thought it wouldn't be Toyota's night as one rider after another ended up beside me and the team car as the race progressed. First it was Chris Wherry, and then as Mr. Tucker and the rest of the staff began to pin their hopes on others, both Jose Manuel Garcia and Ivan Stevic pulled up behind me.

With the race nearing its conclusion, the boys of Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast organized up front to put the screws to the remaining field. In the final lap, it looked as if the tactic would reap its benefit [inadvertent pun] as a large crash in turn one took out or slowed down most of the field. Martin Gilbert, Kelly Benefit's crit specialist, looked every bit like the winner as he had a substantial gap on everyone.

Then, big Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) began to slowly reel him in. The atmosphere around the team's tent at that moment reminded me of something out of March Madness, where your team's best player has just rebounded the ball but needs to drive full court to make the winning shot in the waning seconds.

At each sweeping turn on the course's back stretch, you could see the gap shortening, but you weren't quite sure if Dominguez would have enough road to catch him before the line. In the background, the level of chatter and cheering began to reach fever pitch with Stevic's distinctive voice yelling out, "C'mon Papi!"

When Gilbert and Dominguez reached the final turn, they were even. As Dominguez crossed the line, in typical fashion, the crowd around me erupted and seemed locked in one large group embrace. Gilbert finished second, with teammate David McCook rounding out the podium.

Image: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Dominguez's final comment to closing out the crit season on the highest of notes, "Normally I wouldn't say this...but who's the F---in' Man?!"

No one told me there would be a quiz...

Interbike - Catching Up With...

LAS VEGAS - As I was walking around the infield of the USA Crits Finals' course before the Men's Pro race, I ran into Jonathan Page (Sunweb/Pro Job). For those who aren't familiar with the sport of cyclocross, the 31 year old American is one of the World's best in the discipline.

Athough the history of cyclocross can be traced back to the early 1900's, it didn't become popular in the United States until the 1970's [the first National Championship in the discpline occurred in Berkeley, CA in 1975]. Since that time, the sport hasn't grown as quickly as road racing or mountain biking. But during the 90's, the sport experienced a large growth spurt in the States, and seems to be growing in popularity yearly.

At last year's World Championships, Page became America's highest ever finisher, taking the Silver. Before competing in the Excel Sports Cross Vegas, where he finished 5th, Page won both races of the KTR Double Cross in Michigan. When I asked him if he was ready for the crit, Page just smiled and said "just ready to go around in circles." He left for Belgium yesterday [currently residing in Oudenaarde] to truly begin his racing season.

Photo: Leonard Basobas

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2008 UCI World Calendar

ProTour 2008
Jan. 22-27 -- Tour Down Under (Australia)
April 6 -- Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour des Flandres (Belgium)
April 7-12 -- Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Spain)
April 9 -- Gent-Wevelgem (Belgium)
April 20 -- Amstel Gold Race (The Netherlands)
April 29-May 4 -- Tour de Romandie (Switzerland)
May 19-25 -- Volta a Catalunya (Spain)
June 8-15 -- Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (France)
June 14-22 -- Tour de Suisse (Switzerland)
June 22 -- Team Time Trial (The Netherlands)
Aug. 2 -- Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian-San Sebastian (Spain)
Aug. 20-27 -- Eneco Tour (Bel, Ned, Luxembourg)
Aug. 25 -- GP Ouest France - Plouay (France)
Aug. 29-Sept. 6 -- Deutschland Tour (Germany)
Sept. 7 -- Vattenfall Cyclassics (Germany)
Sept. 15-21 -- Tour de Pologne (Poland)
Oct. 5 -- Finale (TBD)

UCI World calendar (non ProTour)
July 5-27 -- Tour de France (France) *
Aug. 13 -- Olympic Games Road Race (China)
Aug. 9 -- Olympic Games Time Trial (China)
Sept. 25 -- World Championships Time Trial (Italy)
Sept. 28 -- World Championships Road Race (Italy)

UCI Europe Tour
March 9-16 -- Paris-Nice (Fra) HC
March 12-18 -- Tirreno-Adriatico (Ita) HC
March 22 -- Milano-Sanremo (Italy)*
April 13 -- Paris-Roubaix (France) *
April 23 -- La Flèche Wallonne (Belgium) HC
April 27 -- Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium)*
May 10-June 1 -- Giro d'Italia (Italy) *
Aug. 30-Sept. 21 -- Vuelta a España (Spain) *
Oct. 12 -- Paris-Tours (Fra) HC
Oct. 18 -- Giro di Lombardia (Italy) *

* New class at the top of the calendar's hierarchy

Monday, October 01, 2007

Off The Map?

As I sat in the INTERBIKE media center last Thursday, a gentleman sitting across the table smiled at me, and with a bit of an astonished look on his face said, "Its crazy, we are at INTERBIKE and the Worlds are going on right now, but no one is talking about it. The papers in my hometown of Stuttgart [Germany] didn't even have a write up or announcement about the World Championships!"

Although many fans had forgotten about the Worlds, the riders certainly didn't as several defending champions really peaked in time to show their form.

Squadra Azzurra
The tifosi are smiling on both sides of the aisle today as Italy swept both the Women's and Men's road races.

Marta Bastianelli claimed the rainbow jersey on Saturday, but it could have easily gone to any of her teammates as the Squadra Azzurra Donne controlled the race, placing three riders in the top five. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) took silver and Giorgia Bronzini the bronze.

Il Grillo, Paolo Bettini (Image: Roberto Bettini), defended his title making easy work of the field. The highest placed American was the T-Mobile bound George Hincapie. Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation) and Stefan Schumacher (Germany) finished in second and third, respectively.

The time trial events went to Germany's Hanka Kupfernagel and Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara. Women's defending champion, America's Kristin Armstrong finish second to the surprising Kupfernagel, with Austria's Christiane Soeder coming in third. The American women were exceptionally strong in this year's event with Amber Neben and Christine Thorburn placing just off the podium in 4th and 5th, respectively.

Image: Roberto Bettini

Cancellara (Image: Robert Bettini), like Bettini, defended his rainbow jersey. David Zabriskie was America's highest placer, coming in 12th. Hungary's Lazio Bodrogi and the Netherland's Stef Clement rounded out the podium.

Image: PhotoSport International