Friday, November 30, 2007

Healing Thoughts...

Two months after my Vegas escapade, and this is what I [at least my inside] look like today...


Not so dramatic from the top image, but check out the one below (CLICK on the image to enlarge). Yes, that image is supposed to be encouraging.

On Tap...

Tis the season for cyclocross, and the weather in the Midwest is cooperating quite nicely...cold, blustery, in some areas snowy and rainy. Below are some races for which you can particpate. If you aren't participating, break out that cowbell and a nice warm jacket and support your local racers.


From the KCCX Press Release,
Kansas City, Kan. (Nov. 30, 2007) - The deadline to register for this year's USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships is less than two weeks away and organizers remind competitors that registration for the event is online only. Registration deadline for the Dec. 13-16 event at Kansas City's Wyandotte County Park is Saturday, Dec. 8 at midnight CST. To register, go to http://www.kccrossnationals.com/.

No on-site registrations are allowed and all entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. No exceptions will be made."We are closing in on last year's record turnout for nationals," said Race Director Bill Marshall of KLM Marketing Solutions. "With the price of airfare to and from Kansas City at a reasonable rate and plenty of hotel rooms still available, we hope racers who were undecided now decide to make the trip."

Riders who have previewed the course say it is a smooth, fast course that any type of rider can shine on. At close to two miles a lap, it includes grass, tight technical turns, natural run-ups and a few sections that will really spread out the competition."I think the course flows pretty good," said four-time U.S. national cyclocross champion Steve Tilford. "Most people would think Kansas would be flat, but this course has more elevation gain than many races I've done."

As for those reasonable travel rates, a check of round trip airfares from major cities for travel the week of the championships (weekday arrival and Monday departure) reveals the following prices:

Dallas-Fort Worth International ($129)
Denver International ($159)
Logan (Boston) International ($199)
Los Angeles International ($209)
Miami International ($221)
Minneapolis-St. Paul International ($217)
O'Hare International ($119)
Philadelphia International Airport ($211)
San Francisco International ($209)
Seattle/Tacoma International ($231)

Nearly 40 races will take place over four days of competition. Non-championship and beginner-level races are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13. The elite men's and women's races are Sunday, Dec. 16.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stories on Vaughters and Contador

Here are two stories you'll want to read:
-- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy on Jonathan Vaughters: A crusader emerges amid a troubled sport
-- Cycling News: Dealing with success -- An interview with Alberto Contador

Dropped Call

The only reasons you may not have heard the bombshell of Deutsche Telekom pulling its sponsorship from the T-Mobile cycling team go off is because you have either been hiding underneath a rock [and judging by the number of posts this week, you may have thought it was us] or that you are already deaf from the various doping scandal mortars.

In any event, Hamid Akhavan, CEO of T-Mobile International and a member of the Deutsche Telekom board of directors, stated the communication giant's position as such,
"We arrived at this decision to separate our brand from further exposure from doping in sport and cycling specifically. This was a difficult decision given our long history of support for professional cycling and the efforts of Bob Stapleton in managing the team in 2007. We have an obligation to our employees, customers and shareholders to focus our attention and resources on our core businesses. We have worked very hard with the current team management to promote clean cycling sport, but we reached the decision to continue our efforts to rid all sports of doping by applying our resources in other directions."

Many news outlets and blogs point to the recent and prolonged ordeal of Patrik Sinkewitz as the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." And that may be but, I liken the Sinkewitz drama to a drop in the Deutsche Telekom dope-filled ocean; rather insignificant in comparison.


John Wilcockson of Velonews recently took a look back at the 20 year cycling dynasty. Although the photos and the stories bring me back to a time when I truly fell in love with the sport of cycling, the compilation of past doping offenses and recent admissions by the likes of [Bjarne] Riis and [Erik] Zabel, and the continued non-admission by [Jan] Ullrich detract from my holding that team with any regard. But I am also not that naive.

The cycling "playing field" during that time span was never truly slanted in any one team's favor; Telekom could not have been the "exclusive" users of performance enhancers. To suggest the contrary is to stick your head in the sand, as Major League Baseball has chosen to do in the past decade, and what Deutsche Telekom is attempting to do presently.

To have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars into a sport [with a systemic problem of doping] over a 20 year span, only to abort because of recent bad press is, well, rather cavalier on their part. Rather than taking responsibility for their past actions [or inaction as it were] one of cycling's biggest and long standing sponsors has chosen instead to leave the sport at a time when it needs a stabilizing force to buttress its wavering doped up legs.

Some have applauded Deutsche Telekom's move because it sends a message to the doping culture that once tightened the noose of our beloved sport. But in this instance, there's a reason T-Mobile cannot make the claim of "having the fewest dropped calls," as this is certainly their biggest.

Friday, November 23, 2007

On the Move

If this one doesn't make you just damn glad to be a cyclist, nothing will.

Sorry I can't
embed the original, but this link takes you to a very cool video filmed in Portland, Ore. It shows a herd of bicyclists helping a woman move her household goods from one house to another. The riders can be seen hauling items as large as couches and a boat (well ... maybe). Thanks to Adventure Cycling for this.

And here's the YouTube version:

Counting Those Thanksgiving Calories

I'm a Bill Strickland (author of "Ten Points") fan.

He writes:

The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon.

Jim Fox responded
on Adventure Cycling:
A gallon of gasoline contains about 31,000 kilocalories (C). A 150-pound rider, averaging about 12 mph, burns about 560 C/hour [we are fully aware that the calorie and kilocalorie are mathematically distinct, but the two are used interchangeably in the world of medical science]. Dividing (31,000/560)*12 miles = 700 miles. If the kilocalories burned were exactly proportional to the weight of the rider (which it isn't), a 31-pound rider could get that 3,000 miles! Got all that? If not, you can check out the calories for yourself.

I'll Take a Triple, Thank You!

I wonder how Henri Desgrange felt about triple cranksets?

"I still feel that variable gears are only for people over 45. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft … As for me, give me a fixed gear!"
-- Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange

On Tap...

There are still plenty of races out there to feed your cyclocross addiction. But if you still need some motivation to get out there, how about the lovely and diehard cross fans.

Photo: Jeff B via PezCycling News (Daily Distractions)


11/24/2007
2007 Bike Authority Cyclocross Race #4
Broadview Heights, OH

11/25/2007
OVX Cross/Bryn Du Cross
Granville, OH
Gene Galindo Memorial Turkey Trot Cross
Glendale, CA
Bay Area Super Prestige Series #4-Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
RoundRock Ramble
Germantown, NC
A Day of Cross - Collegiate Open (Pro-am)
Blacksburg, VA

For results or photos from any of the races above, click through to TrueSport.com

Pip-addiction

Pip Gregson drops by the Crankset again with another entry. With my arm in a sling for most of the fall season, I've been living vicariously through the actions of others. Our such person is my friend Pip, whose introductory season into cyclocross has made me feel as if I haven't missed a beat [kind of like riding without all the pain].

Addiction is a Good Thing
This past weekend I solidified a new addiction. I knew if I took the step it would happen. I knew if I took all that I learned from 1 event it would happen. I am addicted to cyclocross.

Friday night Spencer, Ethan and I were on the rollers at the shop. I sometimes, ok most of the time I hate rollers. I get bored and then I look down and make sure my bike is shifting ok (in my head I hope there is a problem so I can stop. Out of nowhere I turned to Ethan and said, “ I am going to drive to Hendersonville tonight.”

Hendersonville is about 2.5 hours away from Charlotte and the NC Grand Prix was this weekend. Ethan talked me out of leaving that night. I woke up at 4 a.m. got all of my gear together and was on the road by 4:30. It was actually pretty fun driving by myself I listened to loud music and sang even louder (I swear my car has great acoustics). Then the usual road camaraderie took place. You know what I mean, when you let a car in and by doing this when they switch lanes you follow. I befriended a white truck from Texas and 2 band tour buses. It is so odd how these faceless people become a traveling partner. It is always kind of sad when they turn off, they give the light flash and they vanish into the darkness. They break up with you, “what do you mean you're leaving, I thought we had something?” No note, no call, no final driving side by side... just a blinker.

As I began to get closer to the foothills I watched the temp go from 34 to 28. Thank god I was distracted by the sunrise. It is kinda cool how the sun gives a grand entrance. It lets you know what’s about to happen, as the sky turns all sorts of amazing reds, pinks and purples. Then the sun shows itself; a big ole’ ball of orange. At night as it fades the big orange ball sinks back to the ground but the glow remains. It reminds me of certain people, we all have friends who bring an energy to the table that remains even when they are gone.

As the sun finished rising I took the exit for the Grand Prix and stopped to get dressed in an Exxon. While I was changing I had the thought of, "what in the hell am I doing, I have only tried this once, what if I get hurt I am by myself, what if it is too over my head and what if I come in last.” Then I thought of the following, after a few years of letting others decide when and how I do things it was my turn to decide. I am here because I needed to remind myself that people can attempt to take away all that brings you joy, all your confidence and belief in other, but they can not take away our “inner bad ass-ness." We all have it! The little voice that tells us to fight, destroy and then create. My inner bad ass needed to be brought out- the bad ass would arise by minutes (on my bike) of busting my ass and only caring about finishing.


When I drove up all I could see was a vast sea of grass and a maze of yellow tape. The two main things I noticed, 1) the temp is now 25 and there is frost on the ground, and 2) I am the first one there. Being the first one there is like sitting in the eye of a hurricane. There is a silence that is settling but it is tarnished by the eeriness that seems to follow. Another car rolls up. We sit side by side, both beanies, jackets and anything warm on. Both have the heat cranked in the car. Both turn to look at each other and...it was Alan (he is from Charlotte).

Now I know one person at the event. We chat and start to get our bikes put together, more cars arrive and the trainers come out (note to self bring trainer next race). As I rode the course I felt pretty good. As I kept riding I realized I couldn't’t feel my hands or feet and have no clue how to shift if my hands are numb. As I kept riding I came up to the sand pit I made it through. I felt like I should try it again. This time I made it through but as I came up to the wood beam to get out-my front wheel was drawn to it like some sort of tractor beam. I know guys get racked often in wrecks and I don’t know what you call it when a girl hits the top tube…but it hurt like mofo and of course people rode up as it happened. I hopped back on my bike (not too smart after the top tube) and finished riding.

I noticed some faces from the last race and at the moment it happened. At that moment I felt like I fit in. I felt like the “lobster hands family” who discovered they could live a carny lifestyle. I grabbed my phone had 4 different pep talks from around the country and then it was time to ride. At the start I was in the back and I was cool with it. I just wanted to finish my 30 minutes of physical hell. As we all took off in a pack, the loud "I can’t get enough O2" breathing started and it wasn’t me. The attempts of air began to grow the more we began to ride. I LOVE THIS SPORT! I love that no matter what level you are there is a shortage of air.

The pack thinned out and I was in the far back and I had zero thoughts..no second-guessing myself, no being ashamed because I am behind and no feeling bad for myself. Just the song, Damn it feels good to be a Gangsta kept playing in the background. As the run up grew closer and the cowbells louder, I realized I have to get this bike up to the top with people yelling and watching. But, the odd cross phenom happened, you know when everyone is cheering and loud and then you hit the run up and you get nothing but crickets. It is like you were running up the hill naked and they just can’t believe it. This happened the next lap and on the third lap I needed some love so as I dragged myself up I yelled,” a little cowbell please.” Life is good when you have the guts to ask for a little love.

As I was starting my 4th lap there were 3 girls standing at the first turn and they said we could stop “we think?” So, I stopped. Then we all worried that we really were going to see DNF next to our names. After we checked, I learned I was not last but 26/28. I will take it, and I was not lapped! The rest of the day I shot photos and enjoyed being around people who were really cool and excited for those of us who were new to the sport. After watching the pro race I had to decide whether to drive back to Charlotte and leave again @ 4 a.m. or stay. I stayed. It was nice to have a little solo downtime and bask in the fact that I did something that made feel proud of myself.

The next morning it was warmer and the course was muddier. I was a different rider; I trusted myself and knew my limits a bit better. I started at the front (the start was on a track) as the whistle blew I did a TT start and motored past people. "Oh my god I am up front...I am up front!” As we made our way through the downhill I was still doing well. As we hit the road portion, something felt off. I look down and my tubular had rolled off the rim. Are you kidding me!!!! So I had a moment of doubt, sucked it up, rolled it back on and finished the race. I am pretty sure I was last, but I finished. I would like to mention [that] this time on the run up there was cowbell fest and yelling of my name. I chatted with folks for a bit and climbed back into my car and drove home. I felt awesome! I felt like I had found my calling. I felt like…like I was really tired. I arrived in Charlotte put my kit back on and took an easy spin.

My name is Pip and I am a cross-aholic.

Originally published on the Pip Files, November 20th.

Pip Gregson is co-owner of Black Sheep Cycles, as well as a yoga teacher in Charlotte, NC. You can read all about Pip's cycling exploits and adventures and so much more on her blog, the Pip Files.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tour to Start from Monaco in '09

Grace Kelly would have loved it!

The 2009 Tour de France will start from Monaco with an individual time trial in the principality covering a section of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix circuit.

The 2008 Tour will start from Brest, Brittany. This year's Tour started from London.

Thankful...

On the 4th Thursday of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. The national holiday has its history in the first European settlers of our country taking part in the Native American harvest festival, which is also celebrated to different extents all over the world.

Among the annual American traditions of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie is taking the time to reflect on the people [and the situations], both past and present, for whom we are most thankful.

This year has certainly been filled with a lot of highs and lows for the Triple Crankset, but we are certainly thankful for:

- 53rd not being seriously injured in his run in with two Jerseys girls; the classic bike v. car affair. Although plenty of good early season training went by the wayside, he's well and riding a new Cervelo.

- All the friends and professional contacts we've made in the past year. You've certainly contributed mightily to our growth.

And although I could continue for quite sometime, I wanted to say that I'm especially thankful for all our friends and families in Chicago, Columbus, Reston, and Harrisburg. But I'd also be remiss for not expressing our thanks to our new friends and readers in the United States and from around the World, thank you for bringing our words and images into your homes and/or offices.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interbike - Delta 7's Arantix

The "buzz" around the media room during Interbike week was Delta 7's Arantix mountain bike. The hoopla stemmed not so much from the components it was spec'd out with or the amount of travel it possessed, but rather from what it is, or isn't, as the case may be.

If you're thinking that the idea of an iso-truss frame may sound familiar, you would be correct. In fact, it isn't the first time its been seen, or not seen, at Interbike. Cyclingnews got the behind the scene story and photos back at Interbike 2004 when the Arantix was merely a prototype. Three years later, its now been made available to us through Delta 7 Sports.

From SOAR Communications Press Release:
PAYSON, Utah - November 14, 2007 - Delta 7 Sports, LLC today unveiled its Arantix™ Mountain Bike, the first bicycle to feature the patented IsoTruss® carbon fiber and Kevlar spider web-like open lattice tube design.


With the IsoTruss technology and design, Delta 7 Sports has created one of the strongest and lightest mountain bikes in the world, with a "hard-tail" (no shock absorbers) frame that weighs approximately 2.7 pounds and sports the unique and extremely strong see-through IsoTruss design.

Advanced Composite Solutions, LLC (parent company of Delta 7 Sports), has been granted an exclusive, worldwide license by Brigham Young University to develop, produce and market products utilizing the IsoTruss technology and design. The Arantix is the first ACS product to utilize IsoTruss technology.

"It was imperative that we prove we could design and produce a reasonably priced marketable product using the IsoTruss technology and design, and that's what we've done with the Arantix Mountain Bike," said Jon Adams, president and CEO of Advanced Composite Solutions. "Not only is it one of the coolest and most unique looking bikes you'll ever see, but the IsoTruss structure of the tubing gives the Arantix frame an unparalleled strength to weight ratio. For that cycling enthusiast or weekend rider who wants the most unique, coolest-looking mountain bike on the planet - whether that's a complete bike or a frame that they can build out themselves - this is the right bike."

Arantix Information and Specifications

Each Arantix Mountain Bike frame takes approximately 300 hours to build, as Delta 7 Sports workers weave single carbon fiber strands in a precise manner and order to create the open lattice IsoTruss structure of each frame tube. Each bundle of carbon fiber strands is then constrained within a helical wrapping of Kevlar string designed to tightly bind the carbon fibers together before the tubes are baked at 255 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. The ends of the baked tubes are then machined to specific measurements and diameters before being joined with molded carbon fiber lugs into a completed frame.

"In total, each completed Arantix frame is built with 1,672 linear feet of carbon fiber," said Tyler Evans, program manager of Delta 7 Sports. "That's longer than five and a half football fields, or by comparison, a single strand that long would reach to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan."

Delta 7 Sports is now taking orders for its custom, hand-built Arantix Mountain Bike, at prices starting at $11,995 (USD) in small, medium and large sizes. The company only plans to build/deliver 200 bikes in 2008.

Each complete Arantix Mountain Bike includes:
· An Arantix IsoTruss carbon composite frame,
· Fox F100 RLC front suspension,
· Complete Shimano XTR drivetrain ( i.e. shifters, brakes, crankset, cassette, chain, etc.),
· Shimano XTR wheels with Kenda Karma DTC tires,
· Crank Brothers Four Ti Egg Beaters pedals,
· RaceFace Next SL carbon fiber handlebar with two LizardSkins Lock-On grips,
· L.H. Thomson Masterpiece handlebar stem and seatpost,
· Chris King NoThreadSet headset,
· Selle ItaliĆ” Kit Carbonio saddle, and
· Complete LizardSkins Arantix frame skinset.

Individuals interested in custom-building their own mountain bike, can also order an Arantix Mountain Bike frame by itself from Delta 7 Sports for $6,995 (USD).

IsoTruss Technology and Design Overview
IsoTruss was developed at BYU under the direction of Civil Engineering Professor David W. Jensen (Director of the Center for Advanced Structural Composites).

IsoTruss open lattice structures are made up of three-dimensional (3-D) pyramid-shaped trusses formed by combining two-dimensional (2-D) trusses, such as the kind commonly used in architectural design. The pyramid-like structure of an IsoTruss lattice utilizes the well-known geometry of a triangle with two equal sides (an Isosceles Triangle) to create a form with a superior weight-to-strength ratio. Hence, the name IsoTruss comes from the "iso" in isosceles, while "truss" comes from the architectural design known as trusses.

The fusion of 2-D trusses into the 3-D pyramid-shaped forms found within an IsoTruss structure enables Delta 7 Sports to build bicycle frames that bend less, twist less (torsion) and flex less (axial stiffness) than metal bike frames of comparable weight. For additional information about IsoTruss, please visit http://www.isotruss.org/.

About Delta 7 Sports
Delta 7 Sports creates cutting-edge sports and athletics products by utilizing IsoTruss technology and designs. A division of Advanced Composite Solutions, Delta 7 Sports was formed in 2007. For more information, visit http://www.delta7sports.com/.

Arantix and Delta 7 Sports are trademarks of Delta 7 Sports, LLC. IsoTruss is a registered trademark of Brigham Young University. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Believe It or Not
When the folks at SOAR Communications first showed me the media kit for the Arantix [thanks Poppa P], and even after I had the opportunity to speak with Delta 7 Sports' Marketing Director, Lester Muranaka, I knew I was going to need to see and feel it for myself.

Delta 7's booth was located at the far reaches of the exposition floor. Those that stopped by were treated to not only a fully outfitted bike, but also to extra tubing and a spare frame. Although it looked as fragile as a sugary spun confectionery, the tubing easily held up to an individual's body weight [how many manufacturers would feel secure enough to let you step and stand on their tubing?]. The spare frame was also so ridiculously light that I was able to manage taking pictures of it even with a bum wing.

Like anything new and unconventional looking, the iso-truss design will take some getting used to, but its application to the world of cycling seems like a perfect fit. The strength and durability of the iso-truss makes it stronger and more durable than any continuous carbon tubing out there. In a bad mishap where a small crack could potentially propagate through continuous tubing, essentially weakening it, the iso-truss is able to withstand such defects because of its architecture [a crack or break in one triangular section of the truss does not necessarily affect the integrity of the adjoining sections].

The price point effectively takes out most of us, but if you could have a super light, extremely durable, and nearly indestructible frame, how much would you be willing to pay?

Photos: Leonard Basobas

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cycle-Sexualist

When I lived in the Windy City, I always looked forward to the weekly newspaper, The Reader. One of my favorite sections was "The News of the Weird," where absolutely bizarre news stories were printed.

The following from the BBC certainly qualifies...
"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

Both cleaners, who were "extremely shocked", told the hostel manager who called police.

Sheriff Colin Miller told Stewart: "In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'." [MORE]
I feel dirty for just having typed that.

Act Globally

Photos: Leonard Basobas

I wrote about one of my favorite cycling cities, Chicago, a few months back. During the summer, the innovative public art project, Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, graced it's lakefront. Well those globes that represented simple solutions to global warming [many of which were cycling based] are now for sale.

From our friend Kelly at coolglobes.org:
Starting Monday, November 26 for one week only, select large and mini-globes from the Cool Globes exhibit in Chicago will be auctioned to raise funds for the Chicago Conservation Corp Clubs, which provide environmental education opportunities for Chicago’s youth.

Among the globes to be auctioned are mini-globes from:

* Bill Clinton
* Robert Redford
* David Schwimmer
* Tobey Maguire
* Eva Mendes
* Rob Corddry
* Jenny Lennon and the cast of “Reno 911”
* Magic Johnson
* Dave Winfield
* Chicago Bear Tommie Harris
* Tony Bennett
* BB King
* Heather Headley
* The Gypsy Kings


The auction will take place online, hosted by eBay, so that even those who don't live in or around Chicago can make an offer. You can view globes or place a bid in the online auction at www.coolglobes.org.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Still Waiting for the Pictures

You may have noticed that the paparazzi haven't quite caught up with Our Boy Lance and gal pal Ashley Olsen. That's why I found this mock Sports Illustrated cover so funny. Like Lance says, bring it on!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Racers


"The Racers" is part of German photographer, Jan von Holleben's, collection "Dreams of Flying." I recently ran across the postcard version of it at a local book store. Upon closer examination of some of the kids' faces, a sense of nostaglia wafted over me and brought me back to simpler times when I didn't have to "think" about riding, I just did. So if you're having trouble getting back to training, or for some of us, getting back to shape, just dream of flying.

From Jan's website [some of the copy is definitely lost in translation]:
"Crossing the desert on the back of a dog, or searching for lost treasures on the bottom of the ocean. Jan von Holleben’s photographs allow children to make their dreams come true.

Jan brings the influences of his parents – a cinematographer and child therapist – to his work. His focus on the visual representation of childhood, 'Child-History' and concepts of 'Playing', come from his teacher training course and he combines these theories with his personal experience and childhood memories. Inspired by classic childhood books as well as modern superheroes, he produces ‘Dreams of Flying’ since 2002 with children from his local neighbourhood in South West Germany – ongoing!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Because You Wanted to Know (Didn't You?)

Lance Armstrong sets the record straight for the New York Post's Page Six. (Where else would you go to set momentous world issues straight?)

"Ashley Olsen and I are strictly friends," Our Boy Lance tells the Post. "We have hung out amongst other friends, and she strikes me as a nice, smart lady."

Hung out?
Isn't that what teenagers do?

And how does ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow feel about Lance and Ashley?

Crow writes on her blog:
"Lance and I are friends. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does in the world of cancer. What he does in his personal life is none of my business. Nor would I ever comment on it."

Okay.

The Answer...These Days, Astana

First it was to be Slipstream/Chipotle, or maybe Rock Racing.

But definitely not Predictor-Lotto. Predictor-Lotto? No.

Then Slipstream's roster filled. Now its gotta be Rock Racing, right? Nope.

Today came news that American Chris Horner (formerly of Predictor-Lotto) has signed with Astana. Astana? Yes, Astana. The Kazakhstan sponsored Pro Tour team that shot itself in the proverbially foot [or arm in this case] during this year's Tour de France has done more than a simple "nip & tuck" job in revamping their team. Since the team slid out the Tour's back door in disgrace, Astana's management has essentially bought themselves a whole new team [and image].

The 36 year old from Bend, Oregon was originally thought to be headed to Slipstream to bolster an already strong Tour wildcard bid, and then to Rock Racing to lend credibility to the "rock star" upstarts. Instead, Horner joins American Levi Leipheimer and the rest of Discovery sans George Hincapie (T-Mobile) and Jason McCartney (who recently signed with CSC), among others.

In the same breath [and Velonews story], Astana has also signed long time Postal/Discovery stalwart Chechu Rubiera and recent Discovery sensation Vladimir Gusev. Oh, and on a side note, Astana might also be on Trek bicycles next year.

In July, when Johan Bruyneel diffidently stated that the signing of a new sponsor for his Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team was imminent, we probably should not have so quickly dismissed him. Bruyneel's Discovery makeover of Astana by piecemeal may be his best managing job yet. If the team's Pro Tour licensing issues are abated, then Discovery East...er, Astana will be one of the most formidable teams in 2008.

If you want to know the answer to where the greatest Director Sportif resides? These days, that answer should come easily, Astana.

On Tap...

Today is special, if for no other reason than it is the eve of arguably the greatest rivalry in sports. The Ohio State University Buckeyes renew their annual gridiron battle with the University of Michigan Wolverines tomorrow. Although not as highly anticipated nationally as last year, it will mark the 104th edition of “The Game” [and the second time without either Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes].


I have the unusual perspective of being a Buckeye living in Ann Arbor, MI and working for what former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes could only verbalize as “that school up north.” In cycling terms, it would be analogous to being an American Floyd Landis fan living in Paris and working for the LNDD; the contestants analogous to the historic cycling rivalries of Anquetil v. Polidour, Lemond v. Hinault, and Armstrong v. Ullrich.

In any event the weather for the game will be blustery and cold; perfect football weather. And perfect Belgian-esque cycling weather for the following cyclocross races.


As usual, if you've stopped by looking for results or photos of any of the races listed above, click through to TrueSport.com.

Cycling's Mecca

Is there such a thing?

In the US, it most likely depends on who you speak to and from what geographical location you hail. For the mountain biker, it might be Moab, Marin, or Fruita. For the trackie, T-town.

But no matter what discipline might be your passion, one town seems to support it all.

Portland, Oregon.

Annually in Bicycling magazine's list of best cycling cities, Portland has fully embraced all facets of the cycling culture. And according to this recent NY Times article, people aren't merely making a pilgrimage to the US version of cycling's mecca, they are moving there.

Halloween Cross in Portland
Photos: Kim Rueter via PezCycling News

Smart Cycle

Apparently, I didn't win the Pezcycling News CompuTrainer giveaway again. That lucky honor went to Karey Thatcher of Windsor Ontario.

I guess I'll have to settle for setting up my trainer in front of the television this winter. Your little one, however, can experience their own version of the CompuTrainer with Fisher-Price's Smart Cycle [no this isn't a commercial fashioned by SNL, although a parody may be forthcoming].


For just the new low, low price of $89.00 [yes, Black Friday is right around the corner] the touted "physical learning arcade system" can not only keep your child amused for hours, let alone days [with all the additional learning and arcade style games available for purchase], but it can also keep your child active.

After seeing the actual on-air commercial [click on the picture to be taken to the Amazon site for full video playback], my intial thoughts were varied [and quite frankly all over the map]. Some are below:

- its the perfect toy for your little "mini-me" to emulate mom or dad during their winter training sessions.

- how long will any kid enjoy this toy once they find out its "good" for them as well?

- good for Fisher-Price, not only have they created something fun and functional, but they are actually addressing social issues [childhood obesity in this case]. Not sure that was their intent, but with US statistics being what they are [as of 2002, 15% of children were considered overweight] it might as well be [would hate to be involved in that marketing plan though].

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Creepy

That is how the folks over at Deadspin framed the latest news tidbit about Our Boy Lance and new gal pal Ashley Olsen found on Radar magazine online.

"Radar
has learned that one of the part-eunuch biker's young daughters (he has twins) had the honor of taking a more realistic (though slightly less boobtastic) Barbie to her class for observation. Yes, daddy's lady love Ashley Olsen was recently shown and told about at the young girl's Texas school."

Creepy? You bet, but that is only a part of it...[MORE]

But before this latest tabloid fodder makes us all forget just how large of a shadow OBL once casted, some of his more iconic images are found below.





Friday, November 09, 2007

Kit and Re-doodle

During Interbike week, we caught up with the winner, Joe Yule, of the “Get in the Slipstream” contest, sponsored by Slipstream Sports LLC and its chief venture, the Slipstream/ Chipotle Professional Cycling Team.


With the minor alteration of the addition of a new sponsor, H30, at the center of the jersey, the design looked ready to grace the 2008 peloton. But one of our resident sprockets, Sean Weide (Communications Director for Toytoa-United) pulled a Lee Corso with a "Not So Fast My Friend," and quickly reminded me that Slipstream's 2008 kit would be "based" on the winning design.

Recently, Sean sent us this preview of the final design, which at first glance seems "loosely" based on Joe's winning entry. So we caught up with Joe to find out what happened.


According to Joe, "they wanted to combine two of my designs, which after a process (and me letting them know) that it wasn't going to work. I did a design from a clean slate, and they loved it. So when Jonathan [Vaughters] said they were going to work with the winning designer on the jersey design. He was right. In the end though, I have to admit, I'm pleased! It should look great out there on the road."

So before anyone will see the complete kit on the road, here's the complete and final design [click on the image to enlarge] for all our Crankset readers. Thanks and congratulations again Joe, founder of the graphic design company, Yule Design.

On Tap...

Cross season continues, but the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships will be upon us before you know.

From the press release:
The best racers in American cyclocross will fight for the right to wear this year's stars and stripes jersey at the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships December 13 - 16, 2007 in Kansas City, Kan.

Four days of epic racing will take place on a technical, challenging and fast course for junior, collegiate, master and elite athletes from all over the country. The nearly two-mile-long course winds through Wyandotte County Park.

Race Director Bill Marshall of KLM Marketing Solutions had a solid blueprint for the national championship course design, having staged several UCI races in the 360-acre park, which features rolling terrain in the scenic setting of hillside oak and lakeside sycamore trees.

"We wanted to make the course very hard," Marshall said. "Cyclocross is tough, no matter what. Our intention was to make this course both technical and fast."

The signature element is a pair of back-to-back stair sections, each 40-feet in length, that come about a quarter-mile from the finish line.

"You'll run up the first set of stairs, get back on your bike for a brief time, then dismount and run up the second set," Marshall said. "This is going to be crucial as we found out in Providence last year at nationals. They had two run-ups close to the finish and it makes it very interesting if it is a tight race."

Another crucial element of the course design was to make it as spectator-friendly as possible, Marshall said. Nearly the entire course is viewable from several vantage points. A barrier section, positioned between a pair of heated spectator tents, will also be a prime viewing spot.

Special attention was given to the start area to ensure that competitors who do not have the most prime starting positions have the opportunity to move up quickly before the course narrows.

"That first grass section is extremely wide open and slightly uphill as it leads into the first sweeping right-hand turn," Marshall said. "We tried to make it as close as possible to the start you would see on a UCI course. Eventually, though, there are a few turns to slow it up and create opportunities to get away."

Where the course doubles back on itself in several places could also prove particularly tricky, he said.

"This course has some decent hills - not the steep ones like you saw in Providence for nationals last year - but ones that are going to be tough in all conditions," Marshall said. "They're long uphills so if it's icy, they'll be particularly treacherous. If it's dry, the course will be rippin' fast."

Racers will also have to negotiate a section of the course that passes close to a pond - one that was covered in ice when four-time national cyclocross champion Steve Tilford crashed into it during a race last year. Incredibly, Tilford recovered from the frigid plunge to come back and win.

"We're officially labeling that pond as the 'No Tilly Zone' this year to recognize that feat," Marshall said.

Racers will have the unique opportunity to preview the national championship course on Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Boulevard Cup.

Online registration for the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships continues through Dec. 8 on the race's official website.

The event venue will offer spectators multiple vantage points on the action, an Expo area, kids activities and beer garden. The event is sanctioned by USA Cycling and hosted by KLM Marketing Solutions.

There is no admission fee for the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships. Parking is also free, but only in designated areas. There is no fee for pit access. Official race apparel is on sale through the event's official website.

If you plan on attending, air fare is still relatively within reason. But be sure to book soon.

USA Cycling members can save 15 percent on car rental through Hertz, up to 15 percent on flights through United and 10 percent on stays at Hilton and Hampton properties. Just follow the links on the USA Cycling website member section.

Hotel rooms are plentiful at this point, with many in the $70-$100 range.

Finally, the nearby Legends at Village West is an extensive shopping, dining and entertainment zone within walking distance of many of the hotels.

For those of us not of National Championship caliber or who just want to learn what Cross is all about, there's still plenty of racing to go. A list of races, in select regions of the country, for which you can participate is below.

11/10/2007
Mid Ohio Cross/Granville Cross
Granville, OH
Capcity Cross #4 Lobdell Park
Alexandria, OH
Cross My Heart And Hope To Die - Willoughby CX
Willoughby, OH

11/11/2007
Brookside Cyclocross Cup
Indianapolis, IN
Old Towne Vande-Cross
Moline, IL
North Carolina CX Race #4
Southern Pines, NC
Wisconsin Benefit /Flying Viking Cross
Stoughton, WI
Eco Cross
Sylmar, CA

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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Listening to Levi

Speaking of good interviews (see Granny's interview below), VeloNews has a one-on-one with Levi Leipheimer:

Following Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel to the new-look Astana team will keep Leipheimer in the familiar - and winning - team ambiance, where he'll join defending Tour champ Alberto Contador with a two-year contract.

Leipheimer hopes to hit the repeat button in 2008, with the Tour of California, the Tour de France and a chance at Olympic gold in Beijing top his list of goals for the upcoming season.

TRIPLE Exclusive: An Interview with Shannon Hutchison-Krupat

Through a bit of happenstance and creativity, the Crankset landed its first interview this summer. We were fortunate enough to speak with CSC’s Kurt Asle Arvesen following the Tour de France and his second victory at the Post Danmark Rundt.

In our second installment we bring you a conversation with one of the “classiest” ladies of the US elite peloton and a great ambassador of the sport of cycling, Shannon Hutchison-Krupat. She has ridden for a number of teams throughout her career, [mostly in the Atlanta area], and had a stint with Colavita Olive Oil, during which she was ranked the #1 Criterium racer in the country.

Photo: Emory Ball/Cyclingnews.com

I first met Shannon at this year’s Tour de Grandview, where she finished in 1st and 2nd, respectively, over the weekend. I ran into her again at the USA Crits Finals in Las Vegas during Interbike week. Unbeknownst to me, the race would be one of her final with Aaron’s Corporate Furnishings. Shannon’s talents, however, have always extended well beyond the barricades. And for the lady with one of the most contagious smiles around, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her rubbing shoulders or trading elbows.

Granny’s 30: Shannon, how many years have you been riding professionally?

Shannon Hutchison-Krupat (SHK): I started in 1997 for a local bike shop in South Carolina called Outspokin'. The next year I was with Cox Atlanta Velo on the track. My first year as pro was 1999 on the Cox Atlanta Velo women's team that eventually morphed into AutoTrader.com.

G: As your bio states, you're the perfect blend of being one of the country's best sprinters and a domestique. Not to make you choose, but are both equally fulfilling [especially when a teammate wins the day] in your mind? Is that competitive side of you hard to temper in a race like Vegas where you were a worker? Does the team give you enough freedom...say if you really have the legs on that given race day?

SHK: I do have favorite races that I just worked for others and I felt really good about it. As a team rider you do what the director says, whether you agree with it or not. I do think that there were races or tactics that we all might have disagreed with, but you have to remember that you have a job to do, like it or not. There is freedom to a point. If you feel like going on the offensive and trying to get into a break you can work it, that is if the right people are there.

G: Its also been well documented that you are an orchestra teacher, what was your instrument? And why?

SHK: Actually, I started in the 5th grade on the violin. My mother had always wanted to play the violin, so that kind of helped to lean that way. My top instruments were violin, oboe, and viola. I picked violin. If I had it to do over again I would pick viola.

G: Did [do] you have aspirations of playing professionally? Or has it been the case, as with some of my friends, that once you step behind the podium there is no going back?

SHK: I have played in several orchestras and substituted in several others. I played for the Two Rivers Philharmonic in Illinois. I don't think that they are still going. I also played for Orchestra Atlanta, which has now changed their name. I am not sure what it is called now. But honestly, it is so difficult to get into a good orchestra! I have a good friend that has flown all over the place and still has yet to get that good gig. Plus, I love teaching and working with students. My competitive side comes out especially at Festival time! We have to win! I always make this bet with the kids. If we get all Superior ratings from every judge, in every sub-category (that is 26 Superior or 1 ratings) then I usually dye my hair something crazy for the day. I have ended up dyeing my hair every year! Last year it was blue.

When I postured for a digital image of the blue-haired Shannon, she replied, “hopefully it is long gone!”

G: What is your favorite [not particularly the easiest] piece to teach...favorite to play...favorite for listening?

SHK: I have tons of favorites! My favorite piece for my students is called Scenes from the Emerald Isles. My students last year loved it. It is pretty tricky at the end with an Irish Jig. They called the piece “Super Scenes,” and would play it at Mach 1. It was so fun to watch! Plus they all had it memorized and would whip through it like crazy! I also love Brahms and Debussy and the Mendelsohn Violin concerto in e minor.

G: What drew you to middle school as opposed to other levels of education?

SHK: This year I did move up to the high school level. I am having a great time! High school has been my passion, but there aren't a lot of positions available. It is great to come in where the students already know how to play. I am not starting from scratch. The only bad part about that, [is that] they come with bad habits that we have to fix. Technique and Intonation.

G: Any comparisons to "Mr. Holland" ever?

SHK: No. But I try to be creative like him.

G: Having been privy to workings of the University of Michigan bands, I was amazed at how tightly knit the world of music is, where each professor and student alike had knowledge of other bands and band directors around the country, of potential job openings, etc. Is that a comparable analogy to the world of women's cycling, as you certainly seem to race with or against some of the same women over the course of a season and a career?

SHK: Yes, it is very similar. Probably more so, because it is a smaller group.

G: There is a tremendous amount of technology that goes into teaching orchestra on the collegiate level [ie. use of filming/recording performances, practice, etc], has it had an influence on how you teach adolescents/young adults?

SHK: There is a ton of great technology out there. I am still trying to get a handle on it all. I really need to take more classes to totally understand everything. I wish that I could do more with my students. Unfortunately, I don't have resources for a piano lab or music lab. That would be awesome!

G: Have you noticed a big influence of technology in your cycling, or are you still on that same Schwinn you learned on in Indianola [IA]? What are you riding on now...what was your favorite ride?

SHK: Funny, my first real road bike was a Specialized Allez. This year, I was back on Specialized, the S-Works Ruby. It definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite bikes; right next to my Litespeed Ultimate that I still have!

G: Shimano or Campy?

SHK: I have always loved Shimano, but this year we road SRAM. It was a great change. I still have to work on that shift with the wrist during the sprint.

G: I know that you love to race Grandview, but would you call it your favorite race? If not, what is your favorite race?

Photo: Leonard Basobas

SHK:
Ohio is great because I have two host families. One I have stayed with for the past 5 years or so. I have watched their family grow over the years. I helped teach their oldest son to ride his bike. There is also a family that I see every year that I stayed with my very first year on Cox. Two of their kids are now in college! It is so amazing to go back and visit and see everyone and catch up!

Athens Twilight is also a great race. The energy is amazing!

G: Given the current climate of cycling, I just have to ask. With Genevieve Jeanson's admission of doping do you think its an issue in women's cycling? Have you ever heard things said throughout the domestic peloton to suggest it could be an issue? Do you think the women's peloton is somewhat sheltered [from doping], because it’s not as much of a big business industry as the men's?

SHK: I have heard of women doping, but mostly it is women in the European peloton. You always wonder when someone comes out of nowhere and is flying. Honestly, the money isn't really there in the women's peloton like the men's. When the top women are getting a small fraction of what men get it doesn't make sense.

G: I am a big proponent of women's cycling. I really like what the USWCDP is doing. Have you adopted that type of mentoring role with some of your less experienced teammates and/or is that a role you'd like to embrace down-the-line [in say, a director role]?

SHK: Well, truthfully, this is where I am going next season. I knew from the beginning [of this season]. I knew that this was going to be my last season. I wasn't happy with my year on Aaron's. It had a rocky start and I never really meshed. So I knew that the decision to retire was the right one. With my new job and cycling not making me happy I needed a change. A friend of mine asked me about joining up with his bike shop and putting together a women's team. One of my good friends was already on board and they wanted a couple more women. I thought, “wouldn't it be great to have a couple of U-23 riders and mentor them.” So right now that is how it is looking. We are waiting for the final go ahead from the title sponsor and then we are set.

G: You finished in the top 10 in the US Crits final rankings, and 13th in the US Cycling Criterium rankings. Do you see yourself riding competitively for as long as your body allows?

SHK: I am definitely taking a step back. Retirement…if I want to sleep in I am going to! I don't know how many races I am going to do this year, but it will be great to do what I want to do and help a couple of girls get to the races that they can get noticed and hopefully get on a pro team.

G: No one likes to crash. I saw some images of you caught up in one in Charlotte [Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium]. Plus when I spoke to you about my broken collarbone, you definitely had an intimate knowledge of what I was experiencing. What was your worst moment on a bicycle? Did your worse moment even involve a crash?

SHK: Charlotte was one of my worst races this year. I felt great that whole week. [I] raced great at the track on Wednesday, but then felt like crap during that race. The crash didn't help. When I got back in, I was on a bike that was too small and my helmet was broken. I couldn't get comfortable. Crit Nats [USPRO Criterium Nationals in Downers Grove, IL] was also bad. So many crashes, and crazy girls. It didn't help matters that it was raining. I slid so far in the rain I wondered if I was ever going to stop!

G: What's your best moment on a bicycle?

SHK:
Definitely winning Athens Twilight in 2005 (inset, Photo - Robert Laybourn 2005).

Best wishes to Shannon in her future endeavors as an orchestra teacher and a cycling mentor. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of her on the racing circuit.

The New Phone Books Are In!

You know that feeling when you see that new phone book sitting on your stoop or in your hallway?

The excitement, the anticipation...



Well, the new kit that I'll be riding in next season finally arrived in the mail and those same feelings of excitement and anticipation washed over me like "dipping your head under cool running water."

The new kit is in...the new kit is in!

From the brain of former xXx Racing - Athletico teammate, Carlos Cabalu, a new fashion statement for the fashion misanthrope we all know as the rider without a team, Unattached Rider has finally been actualized with the shipment of its first order.

Still having issues with my shoulder, I couldn't physically don the kit, so I asked Carlos to take some shots of it on an actual person. His first offering was good, but then he reached down deep into his creative soul to pull out...

Photos & Model: Carlos Cabalu

Emroidery details on the cap...


So if you still haven't been snatched up by your local team or are finally willing to give up the "Our Boy Lance addiction" and stop wearing your US Postal/Discovery jersey at the races, then give Unattached Rider more than a passing glance.

[If you seriously have the feeling of anticipatory excitement from the arrival of the new phone book, then seek out professional help. I actually know a really good psychiatrist]

Monday, November 05, 2007

A New Personal Best for OBL

So, you were wondering how Our Boy Lance did in the New York City Marathon Sunday. Last year, as you certainly remember (since we remember all things Lance), Armstrong achieved his goal of breaking three hours with 24 seconds to spare.

Sunday, he improved by almost 13 minutes, posting a time of 2:46.43 (AFP photo).

He credited four factors for the difference: last year's shin problems were gone, he knew what to expect, he trained harder, and he lost seven pounds, dropping his weight to 173.

"I came in better prepared," Lance said. "I enjoyed it much more this year. "I feel better than I did last year leaving here. Last year it took me about four or five months to actually be able to run again because of my shins. "Last year I had no idea what to expect with 26.2 miles (42.16 km), and I paid for it."

OBL -- he's now 36, by the way -- was unofficially the 698th to cross the finish line among the 39,085 runners who started the race. Jan Ullrich finished 699th (just kidding!).

Will he be back next year?
"I'd like to say that I'd come back here every year, but I don't know,"Armstrong said. "It is a beautiful race, and I think if I'm going to continue to do a marathon every year. This is definitely the best one to do, just based on the level of support and the motivation out there to run. But I don't know. Next year could be another sports challenge, so give me a few months."

Hmmm. How about the Tour de France?
And, there was no Olsen twin in sight.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Tour of America?

Brian Grenier has begun a series on DailyPeloton.com about the proposed Tour of America. The concept was announced at Interbike (did I miss something, Granny?). There's a proposed stage not far from where I live (beginning in Frederick, Md.).

What do you think of a month-long tour across the United States?

Pound-ing Away to the Last

Outgoing (well, that's good news!) World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound is warning (isn't the sanctimonious jerk usually warning someone or other?) sport's governing bodies to toughen up in the fight on drugs cheats.

"Doping is a 20th century problem being dealt with by 19th century organizations," Pound said last week in London. "It's a big, complicated problem and many of them don't have the stomach for the fight."

What will the world do without Dick Pound?

"The science is a constant game of cat and mouse and that will continue," he said. "But we are making progress. Seventy-five percent of our budget goes on scientific research."

Pound, who leaves his position at the end of November, took a parting shot at cycling's world governing body (UCI) for its failure to get its house in order after another Tour de France blighted by doping.

"They let it get out of control," he said. "Maybe they thought that the Tour de France was bigger than the sport. This year was a disaster and when television, written press and commercial backers start bailing out they must have known they were looking into the abyss. Letting doping into a sport is much easier than getting it out. They are reaping what they sowed."

The Tour Before the Tour

We all know about the Tour de France, right?
Well, maybe not.

According to a new history, "The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War," by Graham Robb, there was a Tour de France before the one we know:

The original Tour de France was an itinerary followed by apprentices for centuries, a four- or five-year trek, organized by the trade guilds, that sent young masons and bakers and carpenters on a 1,400-mile journey to more than a hundred towns, where they served under local artisans, learning local techniques and working with local materials.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Role Model? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Role Model!

I can't let Granny do everything, right?
I have a que full of cycling news that demands attention, as do some of you (thank you for that), but like Granny, the day job (when you teach, it's a 24/7 job) sometimes really kicks your ass, like Granny says.
But I just can't resist the low-hanging fruit (I trust there isn't something dirty in that reference).
And Our Boy Lance is an orchard these days.
I mean, like, y'know ... three nights in a row now!

Ashley Olsen
and OBL were spotted partying at The Box in New York City Wednesday night.
The only box I know is the penalty box, and I sure hope Lance isn't headed there for a misconduct penalty.
But as the always reliable Film.com reports, "Three nights in a row is a big deal among the Hollywood set, people!"
I mean, like, y'know ... Hollywood set?
Isn't there something deeper OBL is supposed to challenge us to think about than Ashley Olsen's ... oh, whatever.
And, doesn't anybody have a cellphone camera?
Aside to Anonymous: Yeah, yeah, I know ...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Healing Thoughts...

Two months after my Vegas escapade, and this is what I [at least my inside] look like today...


Not so dramatic from the top image, but check out the one below (CLICK on the image to enlarge). Yes, that image is supposed to be encouraging.

On Tap...

Tis the season for cyclocross, and the weather in the Midwest is cooperating quite nicely...cold, blustery, in some areas snowy and rainy. Below are some races for which you can particpate. If you aren't participating, break out that cowbell and a nice warm jacket and support your local racers.


From the KCCX Press Release,
Kansas City, Kan. (Nov. 30, 2007) - The deadline to register for this year's USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships is less than two weeks away and organizers remind competitors that registration for the event is online only. Registration deadline for the Dec. 13-16 event at Kansas City's Wyandotte County Park is Saturday, Dec. 8 at midnight CST. To register, go to http://www.kccrossnationals.com/.

No on-site registrations are allowed and all entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. No exceptions will be made."We are closing in on last year's record turnout for nationals," said Race Director Bill Marshall of KLM Marketing Solutions. "With the price of airfare to and from Kansas City at a reasonable rate and plenty of hotel rooms still available, we hope racers who were undecided now decide to make the trip."

Riders who have previewed the course say it is a smooth, fast course that any type of rider can shine on. At close to two miles a lap, it includes grass, tight technical turns, natural run-ups and a few sections that will really spread out the competition."I think the course flows pretty good," said four-time U.S. national cyclocross champion Steve Tilford. "Most people would think Kansas would be flat, but this course has more elevation gain than many races I've done."

As for those reasonable travel rates, a check of round trip airfares from major cities for travel the week of the championships (weekday arrival and Monday departure) reveals the following prices:

Dallas-Fort Worth International ($129)
Denver International ($159)
Logan (Boston) International ($199)
Los Angeles International ($209)
Miami International ($221)
Minneapolis-St. Paul International ($217)
O'Hare International ($119)
Philadelphia International Airport ($211)
San Francisco International ($209)
Seattle/Tacoma International ($231)

Nearly 40 races will take place over four days of competition. Non-championship and beginner-level races are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13. The elite men's and women's races are Sunday, Dec. 16.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stories on Vaughters and Contador

Here are two stories you'll want to read:
-- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy on Jonathan Vaughters: A crusader emerges amid a troubled sport
-- Cycling News: Dealing with success -- An interview with Alberto Contador

Dropped Call

The only reasons you may not have heard the bombshell of Deutsche Telekom pulling its sponsorship from the T-Mobile cycling team go off is because you have either been hiding underneath a rock [and judging by the number of posts this week, you may have thought it was us] or that you are already deaf from the various doping scandal mortars.

In any event, Hamid Akhavan, CEO of T-Mobile International and a member of the Deutsche Telekom board of directors, stated the communication giant's position as such,
"We arrived at this decision to separate our brand from further exposure from doping in sport and cycling specifically. This was a difficult decision given our long history of support for professional cycling and the efforts of Bob Stapleton in managing the team in 2007. We have an obligation to our employees, customers and shareholders to focus our attention and resources on our core businesses. We have worked very hard with the current team management to promote clean cycling sport, but we reached the decision to continue our efforts to rid all sports of doping by applying our resources in other directions."

Many news outlets and blogs point to the recent and prolonged ordeal of Patrik Sinkewitz as the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." And that may be but, I liken the Sinkewitz drama to a drop in the Deutsche Telekom dope-filled ocean; rather insignificant in comparison.


John Wilcockson of Velonews recently took a look back at the 20 year cycling dynasty. Although the photos and the stories bring me back to a time when I truly fell in love with the sport of cycling, the compilation of past doping offenses and recent admissions by the likes of [Bjarne] Riis and [Erik] Zabel, and the continued non-admission by [Jan] Ullrich detract from my holding that team with any regard. But I am also not that naive.

The cycling "playing field" during that time span was never truly slanted in any one team's favor; Telekom could not have been the "exclusive" users of performance enhancers. To suggest the contrary is to stick your head in the sand, as Major League Baseball has chosen to do in the past decade, and what Deutsche Telekom is attempting to do presently.

To have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars into a sport [with a systemic problem of doping] over a 20 year span, only to abort because of recent bad press is, well, rather cavalier on their part. Rather than taking responsibility for their past actions [or inaction as it were] one of cycling's biggest and long standing sponsors has chosen instead to leave the sport at a time when it needs a stabilizing force to buttress its wavering doped up legs.

Some have applauded Deutsche Telekom's move because it sends a message to the doping culture that once tightened the noose of our beloved sport. But in this instance, there's a reason T-Mobile cannot make the claim of "having the fewest dropped calls," as this is certainly their biggest.

Friday, November 23, 2007

On the Move

If this one doesn't make you just damn glad to be a cyclist, nothing will.

Sorry I can't
embed the original, but this link takes you to a very cool video filmed in Portland, Ore. It shows a herd of bicyclists helping a woman move her household goods from one house to another. The riders can be seen hauling items as large as couches and a boat (well ... maybe). Thanks to Adventure Cycling for this.

And here's the YouTube version:

Counting Those Thanksgiving Calories

I'm a Bill Strickland (author of "Ten Points") fan.

He writes:

The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon.

Jim Fox responded
on Adventure Cycling:
A gallon of gasoline contains about 31,000 kilocalories (C). A 150-pound rider, averaging about 12 mph, burns about 560 C/hour [we are fully aware that the calorie and kilocalorie are mathematically distinct, but the two are used interchangeably in the world of medical science]. Dividing (31,000/560)*12 miles = 700 miles. If the kilocalories burned were exactly proportional to the weight of the rider (which it isn't), a 31-pound rider could get that 3,000 miles! Got all that? If not, you can check out the calories for yourself.

I'll Take a Triple, Thank You!

I wonder how Henri Desgrange felt about triple cranksets?

"I still feel that variable gears are only for people over 45. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft … As for me, give me a fixed gear!"
-- Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange

On Tap...

There are still plenty of races out there to feed your cyclocross addiction. But if you still need some motivation to get out there, how about the lovely and diehard cross fans.

Photo: Jeff B via PezCycling News (Daily Distractions)


11/24/2007
2007 Bike Authority Cyclocross Race #4
Broadview Heights, OH

11/25/2007
OVX Cross/Bryn Du Cross
Granville, OH
Gene Galindo Memorial Turkey Trot Cross
Glendale, CA
Bay Area Super Prestige Series #4-Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
RoundRock Ramble
Germantown, NC
A Day of Cross - Collegiate Open (Pro-am)
Blacksburg, VA

For results or photos from any of the races above, click through to TrueSport.com

Pip-addiction

Pip Gregson drops by the Crankset again with another entry. With my arm in a sling for most of the fall season, I've been living vicariously through the actions of others. Our such person is my friend Pip, whose introductory season into cyclocross has made me feel as if I haven't missed a beat [kind of like riding without all the pain].

Addiction is a Good Thing
This past weekend I solidified a new addiction. I knew if I took the step it would happen. I knew if I took all that I learned from 1 event it would happen. I am addicted to cyclocross.

Friday night Spencer, Ethan and I were on the rollers at the shop. I sometimes, ok most of the time I hate rollers. I get bored and then I look down and make sure my bike is shifting ok (in my head I hope there is a problem so I can stop. Out of nowhere I turned to Ethan and said, “ I am going to drive to Hendersonville tonight.”

Hendersonville is about 2.5 hours away from Charlotte and the NC Grand Prix was this weekend. Ethan talked me out of leaving that night. I woke up at 4 a.m. got all of my gear together and was on the road by 4:30. It was actually pretty fun driving by myself I listened to loud music and sang even louder (I swear my car has great acoustics). Then the usual road camaraderie took place. You know what I mean, when you let a car in and by doing this when they switch lanes you follow. I befriended a white truck from Texas and 2 band tour buses. It is so odd how these faceless people become a traveling partner. It is always kind of sad when they turn off, they give the light flash and they vanish into the darkness. They break up with you, “what do you mean you're leaving, I thought we had something?” No note, no call, no final driving side by side... just a blinker.

As I began to get closer to the foothills I watched the temp go from 34 to 28. Thank god I was distracted by the sunrise. It is kinda cool how the sun gives a grand entrance. It lets you know what’s about to happen, as the sky turns all sorts of amazing reds, pinks and purples. Then the sun shows itself; a big ole’ ball of orange. At night as it fades the big orange ball sinks back to the ground but the glow remains. It reminds me of certain people, we all have friends who bring an energy to the table that remains even when they are gone.

As the sun finished rising I took the exit for the Grand Prix and stopped to get dressed in an Exxon. While I was changing I had the thought of, "what in the hell am I doing, I have only tried this once, what if I get hurt I am by myself, what if it is too over my head and what if I come in last.” Then I thought of the following, after a few years of letting others decide when and how I do things it was my turn to decide. I am here because I needed to remind myself that people can attempt to take away all that brings you joy, all your confidence and belief in other, but they can not take away our “inner bad ass-ness." We all have it! The little voice that tells us to fight, destroy and then create. My inner bad ass needed to be brought out- the bad ass would arise by minutes (on my bike) of busting my ass and only caring about finishing.


When I drove up all I could see was a vast sea of grass and a maze of yellow tape. The two main things I noticed, 1) the temp is now 25 and there is frost on the ground, and 2) I am the first one there. Being the first one there is like sitting in the eye of a hurricane. There is a silence that is settling but it is tarnished by the eeriness that seems to follow. Another car rolls up. We sit side by side, both beanies, jackets and anything warm on. Both have the heat cranked in the car. Both turn to look at each other and...it was Alan (he is from Charlotte).

Now I know one person at the event. We chat and start to get our bikes put together, more cars arrive and the trainers come out (note to self bring trainer next race). As I rode the course I felt pretty good. As I kept riding I realized I couldn't’t feel my hands or feet and have no clue how to shift if my hands are numb. As I kept riding I came up to the sand pit I made it through. I felt like I should try it again. This time I made it through but as I came up to the wood beam to get out-my front wheel was drawn to it like some sort of tractor beam. I know guys get racked often in wrecks and I don’t know what you call it when a girl hits the top tube…but it hurt like mofo and of course people rode up as it happened. I hopped back on my bike (not too smart after the top tube) and finished riding.

I noticed some faces from the last race and at the moment it happened. At that moment I felt like I fit in. I felt like the “lobster hands family” who discovered they could live a carny lifestyle. I grabbed my phone had 4 different pep talks from around the country and then it was time to ride. At the start I was in the back and I was cool with it. I just wanted to finish my 30 minutes of physical hell. As we all took off in a pack, the loud "I can’t get enough O2" breathing started and it wasn’t me. The attempts of air began to grow the more we began to ride. I LOVE THIS SPORT! I love that no matter what level you are there is a shortage of air.

The pack thinned out and I was in the far back and I had zero thoughts..no second-guessing myself, no being ashamed because I am behind and no feeling bad for myself. Just the song, Damn it feels good to be a Gangsta kept playing in the background. As the run up grew closer and the cowbells louder, I realized I have to get this bike up to the top with people yelling and watching. But, the odd cross phenom happened, you know when everyone is cheering and loud and then you hit the run up and you get nothing but crickets. It is like you were running up the hill naked and they just can’t believe it. This happened the next lap and on the third lap I needed some love so as I dragged myself up I yelled,” a little cowbell please.” Life is good when you have the guts to ask for a little love.

As I was starting my 4th lap there were 3 girls standing at the first turn and they said we could stop “we think?” So, I stopped. Then we all worried that we really were going to see DNF next to our names. After we checked, I learned I was not last but 26/28. I will take it, and I was not lapped! The rest of the day I shot photos and enjoyed being around people who were really cool and excited for those of us who were new to the sport. After watching the pro race I had to decide whether to drive back to Charlotte and leave again @ 4 a.m. or stay. I stayed. It was nice to have a little solo downtime and bask in the fact that I did something that made feel proud of myself.

The next morning it was warmer and the course was muddier. I was a different rider; I trusted myself and knew my limits a bit better. I started at the front (the start was on a track) as the whistle blew I did a TT start and motored past people. "Oh my god I am up front...I am up front!” As we made our way through the downhill I was still doing well. As we hit the road portion, something felt off. I look down and my tubular had rolled off the rim. Are you kidding me!!!! So I had a moment of doubt, sucked it up, rolled it back on and finished the race. I am pretty sure I was last, but I finished. I would like to mention [that] this time on the run up there was cowbell fest and yelling of my name. I chatted with folks for a bit and climbed back into my car and drove home. I felt awesome! I felt like I had found my calling. I felt like…like I was really tired. I arrived in Charlotte put my kit back on and took an easy spin.

My name is Pip and I am a cross-aholic.

Originally published on the Pip Files, November 20th.

Pip Gregson is co-owner of Black Sheep Cycles, as well as a yoga teacher in Charlotte, NC. You can read all about Pip's cycling exploits and adventures and so much more on her blog, the Pip Files.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tour to Start from Monaco in '09

Grace Kelly would have loved it!

The 2009 Tour de France will start from Monaco with an individual time trial in the principality covering a section of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix circuit.

The 2008 Tour will start from Brest, Brittany. This year's Tour started from London.

Thankful...

On the 4th Thursday of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. The national holiday has its history in the first European settlers of our country taking part in the Native American harvest festival, which is also celebrated to different extents all over the world.

Among the annual American traditions of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie is taking the time to reflect on the people [and the situations], both past and present, for whom we are most thankful.

This year has certainly been filled with a lot of highs and lows for the Triple Crankset, but we are certainly thankful for:

- 53rd not being seriously injured in his run in with two Jerseys girls; the classic bike v. car affair. Although plenty of good early season training went by the wayside, he's well and riding a new Cervelo.

- All the friends and professional contacts we've made in the past year. You've certainly contributed mightily to our growth.

And although I could continue for quite sometime, I wanted to say that I'm especially thankful for all our friends and families in Chicago, Columbus, Reston, and Harrisburg. But I'd also be remiss for not expressing our thanks to our new friends and readers in the United States and from around the World, thank you for bringing our words and images into your homes and/or offices.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interbike - Delta 7's Arantix

The "buzz" around the media room during Interbike week was Delta 7's Arantix mountain bike. The hoopla stemmed not so much from the components it was spec'd out with or the amount of travel it possessed, but rather from what it is, or isn't, as the case may be.

If you're thinking that the idea of an iso-truss frame may sound familiar, you would be correct. In fact, it isn't the first time its been seen, or not seen, at Interbike. Cyclingnews got the behind the scene story and photos back at Interbike 2004 when the Arantix was merely a prototype. Three years later, its now been made available to us through Delta 7 Sports.

From SOAR Communications Press Release:
PAYSON, Utah - November 14, 2007 - Delta 7 Sports, LLC today unveiled its Arantix™ Mountain Bike, the first bicycle to feature the patented IsoTruss® carbon fiber and Kevlar spider web-like open lattice tube design.


With the IsoTruss technology and design, Delta 7 Sports has created one of the strongest and lightest mountain bikes in the world, with a "hard-tail" (no shock absorbers) frame that weighs approximately 2.7 pounds and sports the unique and extremely strong see-through IsoTruss design.

Advanced Composite Solutions, LLC (parent company of Delta 7 Sports), has been granted an exclusive, worldwide license by Brigham Young University to develop, produce and market products utilizing the IsoTruss technology and design. The Arantix is the first ACS product to utilize IsoTruss technology.

"It was imperative that we prove we could design and produce a reasonably priced marketable product using the IsoTruss technology and design, and that's what we've done with the Arantix Mountain Bike," said Jon Adams, president and CEO of Advanced Composite Solutions. "Not only is it one of the coolest and most unique looking bikes you'll ever see, but the IsoTruss structure of the tubing gives the Arantix frame an unparalleled strength to weight ratio. For that cycling enthusiast or weekend rider who wants the most unique, coolest-looking mountain bike on the planet - whether that's a complete bike or a frame that they can build out themselves - this is the right bike."

Arantix Information and Specifications

Each Arantix Mountain Bike frame takes approximately 300 hours to build, as Delta 7 Sports workers weave single carbon fiber strands in a precise manner and order to create the open lattice IsoTruss structure of each frame tube. Each bundle of carbon fiber strands is then constrained within a helical wrapping of Kevlar string designed to tightly bind the carbon fibers together before the tubes are baked at 255 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. The ends of the baked tubes are then machined to specific measurements and diameters before being joined with molded carbon fiber lugs into a completed frame.

"In total, each completed Arantix frame is built with 1,672 linear feet of carbon fiber," said Tyler Evans, program manager of Delta 7 Sports. "That's longer than five and a half football fields, or by comparison, a single strand that long would reach to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan."

Delta 7 Sports is now taking orders for its custom, hand-built Arantix Mountain Bike, at prices starting at $11,995 (USD) in small, medium and large sizes. The company only plans to build/deliver 200 bikes in 2008.

Each complete Arantix Mountain Bike includes:
· An Arantix IsoTruss carbon composite frame,
· Fox F100 RLC front suspension,
· Complete Shimano XTR drivetrain ( i.e. shifters, brakes, crankset, cassette, chain, etc.),
· Shimano XTR wheels with Kenda Karma DTC tires,
· Crank Brothers Four Ti Egg Beaters pedals,
· RaceFace Next SL carbon fiber handlebar with two LizardSkins Lock-On grips,
· L.H. Thomson Masterpiece handlebar stem and seatpost,
· Chris King NoThreadSet headset,
· Selle ItaliĆ” Kit Carbonio saddle, and
· Complete LizardSkins Arantix frame skinset.

Individuals interested in custom-building their own mountain bike, can also order an Arantix Mountain Bike frame by itself from Delta 7 Sports for $6,995 (USD).

IsoTruss Technology and Design Overview
IsoTruss was developed at BYU under the direction of Civil Engineering Professor David W. Jensen (Director of the Center for Advanced Structural Composites).

IsoTruss open lattice structures are made up of three-dimensional (3-D) pyramid-shaped trusses formed by combining two-dimensional (2-D) trusses, such as the kind commonly used in architectural design. The pyramid-like structure of an IsoTruss lattice utilizes the well-known geometry of a triangle with two equal sides (an Isosceles Triangle) to create a form with a superior weight-to-strength ratio. Hence, the name IsoTruss comes from the "iso" in isosceles, while "truss" comes from the architectural design known as trusses.

The fusion of 2-D trusses into the 3-D pyramid-shaped forms found within an IsoTruss structure enables Delta 7 Sports to build bicycle frames that bend less, twist less (torsion) and flex less (axial stiffness) than metal bike frames of comparable weight. For additional information about IsoTruss, please visit http://www.isotruss.org/.

About Delta 7 Sports
Delta 7 Sports creates cutting-edge sports and athletics products by utilizing IsoTruss technology and designs. A division of Advanced Composite Solutions, Delta 7 Sports was formed in 2007. For more information, visit http://www.delta7sports.com/.

Arantix and Delta 7 Sports are trademarks of Delta 7 Sports, LLC. IsoTruss is a registered trademark of Brigham Young University. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Believe It or Not
When the folks at SOAR Communications first showed me the media kit for the Arantix [thanks Poppa P], and even after I had the opportunity to speak with Delta 7 Sports' Marketing Director, Lester Muranaka, I knew I was going to need to see and feel it for myself.

Delta 7's booth was located at the far reaches of the exposition floor. Those that stopped by were treated to not only a fully outfitted bike, but also to extra tubing and a spare frame. Although it looked as fragile as a sugary spun confectionery, the tubing easily held up to an individual's body weight [how many manufacturers would feel secure enough to let you step and stand on their tubing?]. The spare frame was also so ridiculously light that I was able to manage taking pictures of it even with a bum wing.

Like anything new and unconventional looking, the iso-truss design will take some getting used to, but its application to the world of cycling seems like a perfect fit. The strength and durability of the iso-truss makes it stronger and more durable than any continuous carbon tubing out there. In a bad mishap where a small crack could potentially propagate through continuous tubing, essentially weakening it, the iso-truss is able to withstand such defects because of its architecture [a crack or break in one triangular section of the truss does not necessarily affect the integrity of the adjoining sections].

The price point effectively takes out most of us, but if you could have a super light, extremely durable, and nearly indestructible frame, how much would you be willing to pay?

Photos: Leonard Basobas

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cycle-Sexualist

When I lived in the Windy City, I always looked forward to the weekly newspaper, The Reader. One of my favorite sections was "The News of the Weird," where absolutely bizarre news stories were printed.

The following from the BBC certainly qualifies...
"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

Both cleaners, who were "extremely shocked", told the hostel manager who called police.

Sheriff Colin Miller told Stewart: "In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'." [MORE]
I feel dirty for just having typed that.

Act Globally

Photos: Leonard Basobas

I wrote about one of my favorite cycling cities, Chicago, a few months back. During the summer, the innovative public art project, Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, graced it's lakefront. Well those globes that represented simple solutions to global warming [many of which were cycling based] are now for sale.

From our friend Kelly at coolglobes.org:
Starting Monday, November 26 for one week only, select large and mini-globes from the Cool Globes exhibit in Chicago will be auctioned to raise funds for the Chicago Conservation Corp Clubs, which provide environmental education opportunities for Chicago’s youth.

Among the globes to be auctioned are mini-globes from:

* Bill Clinton
* Robert Redford
* David Schwimmer
* Tobey Maguire
* Eva Mendes
* Rob Corddry
* Jenny Lennon and the cast of “Reno 911”
* Magic Johnson
* Dave Winfield
* Chicago Bear Tommie Harris
* Tony Bennett
* BB King
* Heather Headley
* The Gypsy Kings


The auction will take place online, hosted by eBay, so that even those who don't live in or around Chicago can make an offer. You can view globes or place a bid in the online auction at www.coolglobes.org.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Still Waiting for the Pictures

You may have noticed that the paparazzi haven't quite caught up with Our Boy Lance and gal pal Ashley Olsen. That's why I found this mock Sports Illustrated cover so funny. Like Lance says, bring it on!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Racers


"The Racers" is part of German photographer, Jan von Holleben's, collection "Dreams of Flying." I recently ran across the postcard version of it at a local book store. Upon closer examination of some of the kids' faces, a sense of nostaglia wafted over me and brought me back to simpler times when I didn't have to "think" about riding, I just did. So if you're having trouble getting back to training, or for some of us, getting back to shape, just dream of flying.

From Jan's website [some of the copy is definitely lost in translation]:
"Crossing the desert on the back of a dog, or searching for lost treasures on the bottom of the ocean. Jan von Holleben’s photographs allow children to make their dreams come true.

Jan brings the influences of his parents – a cinematographer and child therapist – to his work. His focus on the visual representation of childhood, 'Child-History' and concepts of 'Playing', come from his teacher training course and he combines these theories with his personal experience and childhood memories. Inspired by classic childhood books as well as modern superheroes, he produces ‘Dreams of Flying’ since 2002 with children from his local neighbourhood in South West Germany – ongoing!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Because You Wanted to Know (Didn't You?)

Lance Armstrong sets the record straight for the New York Post's Page Six. (Where else would you go to set momentous world issues straight?)

"Ashley Olsen and I are strictly friends," Our Boy Lance tells the Post. "We have hung out amongst other friends, and she strikes me as a nice, smart lady."

Hung out?
Isn't that what teenagers do?

And how does ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow feel about Lance and Ashley?

Crow writes on her blog:
"Lance and I are friends. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does in the world of cancer. What he does in his personal life is none of my business. Nor would I ever comment on it."

Okay.

The Answer...These Days, Astana

First it was to be Slipstream/Chipotle, or maybe Rock Racing.

But definitely not Predictor-Lotto. Predictor-Lotto? No.

Then Slipstream's roster filled. Now its gotta be Rock Racing, right? Nope.

Today came news that American Chris Horner (formerly of Predictor-Lotto) has signed with Astana. Astana? Yes, Astana. The Kazakhstan sponsored Pro Tour team that shot itself in the proverbially foot [or arm in this case] during this year's Tour de France has done more than a simple "nip & tuck" job in revamping their team. Since the team slid out the Tour's back door in disgrace, Astana's management has essentially bought themselves a whole new team [and image].

The 36 year old from Bend, Oregon was originally thought to be headed to Slipstream to bolster an already strong Tour wildcard bid, and then to Rock Racing to lend credibility to the "rock star" upstarts. Instead, Horner joins American Levi Leipheimer and the rest of Discovery sans George Hincapie (T-Mobile) and Jason McCartney (who recently signed with CSC), among others.

In the same breath [and Velonews story], Astana has also signed long time Postal/Discovery stalwart Chechu Rubiera and recent Discovery sensation Vladimir Gusev. Oh, and on a side note, Astana might also be on Trek bicycles next year.

In July, when Johan Bruyneel diffidently stated that the signing of a new sponsor for his Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team was imminent, we probably should not have so quickly dismissed him. Bruyneel's Discovery makeover of Astana by piecemeal may be his best managing job yet. If the team's Pro Tour licensing issues are abated, then Discovery East...er, Astana will be one of the most formidable teams in 2008.

If you want to know the answer to where the greatest Director Sportif resides? These days, that answer should come easily, Astana.

On Tap...

Today is special, if for no other reason than it is the eve of arguably the greatest rivalry in sports. The Ohio State University Buckeyes renew their annual gridiron battle with the University of Michigan Wolverines tomorrow. Although not as highly anticipated nationally as last year, it will mark the 104th edition of “The Game” [and the second time without either Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes].


I have the unusual perspective of being a Buckeye living in Ann Arbor, MI and working for what former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes could only verbalize as “that school up north.” In cycling terms, it would be analogous to being an American Floyd Landis fan living in Paris and working for the LNDD; the contestants analogous to the historic cycling rivalries of Anquetil v. Polidour, Lemond v. Hinault, and Armstrong v. Ullrich.

In any event the weather for the game will be blustery and cold; perfect football weather. And perfect Belgian-esque cycling weather for the following cyclocross races.


As usual, if you've stopped by looking for results or photos of any of the races listed above, click through to TrueSport.com.

Cycling's Mecca

Is there such a thing?

In the US, it most likely depends on who you speak to and from what geographical location you hail. For the mountain biker, it might be Moab, Marin, or Fruita. For the trackie, T-town.

But no matter what discipline might be your passion, one town seems to support it all.

Portland, Oregon.

Annually in Bicycling magazine's list of best cycling cities, Portland has fully embraced all facets of the cycling culture. And according to this recent NY Times article, people aren't merely making a pilgrimage to the US version of cycling's mecca, they are moving there.

Halloween Cross in Portland
Photos: Kim Rueter via PezCycling News

Smart Cycle

Apparently, I didn't win the Pezcycling News CompuTrainer giveaway again. That lucky honor went to Karey Thatcher of Windsor Ontario.

I guess I'll have to settle for setting up my trainer in front of the television this winter. Your little one, however, can experience their own version of the CompuTrainer with Fisher-Price's Smart Cycle [no this isn't a commercial fashioned by SNL, although a parody may be forthcoming].


For just the new low, low price of $89.00 [yes, Black Friday is right around the corner] the touted "physical learning arcade system" can not only keep your child amused for hours, let alone days [with all the additional learning and arcade style games available for purchase], but it can also keep your child active.

After seeing the actual on-air commercial [click on the picture to be taken to the Amazon site for full video playback], my intial thoughts were varied [and quite frankly all over the map]. Some are below:

- its the perfect toy for your little "mini-me" to emulate mom or dad during their winter training sessions.

- how long will any kid enjoy this toy once they find out its "good" for them as well?

- good for Fisher-Price, not only have they created something fun and functional, but they are actually addressing social issues [childhood obesity in this case]. Not sure that was their intent, but with US statistics being what they are [as of 2002, 15% of children were considered overweight] it might as well be [would hate to be involved in that marketing plan though].

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Creepy

That is how the folks over at Deadspin framed the latest news tidbit about Our Boy Lance and new gal pal Ashley Olsen found on Radar magazine online.

"Radar
has learned that one of the part-eunuch biker's young daughters (he has twins) had the honor of taking a more realistic (though slightly less boobtastic) Barbie to her class for observation. Yes, daddy's lady love Ashley Olsen was recently shown and told about at the young girl's Texas school."

Creepy? You bet, but that is only a part of it...[MORE]

But before this latest tabloid fodder makes us all forget just how large of a shadow OBL once casted, some of his more iconic images are found below.





Friday, November 09, 2007

Kit and Re-doodle

During Interbike week, we caught up with the winner, Joe Yule, of the “Get in the Slipstream” contest, sponsored by Slipstream Sports LLC and its chief venture, the Slipstream/ Chipotle Professional Cycling Team.


With the minor alteration of the addition of a new sponsor, H30, at the center of the jersey, the design looked ready to grace the 2008 peloton. But one of our resident sprockets, Sean Weide (Communications Director for Toytoa-United) pulled a Lee Corso with a "Not So Fast My Friend," and quickly reminded me that Slipstream's 2008 kit would be "based" on the winning design.

Recently, Sean sent us this preview of the final design, which at first glance seems "loosely" based on Joe's winning entry. So we caught up with Joe to find out what happened.


According to Joe, "they wanted to combine two of my designs, which after a process (and me letting them know) that it wasn't going to work. I did a design from a clean slate, and they loved it. So when Jonathan [Vaughters] said they were going to work with the winning designer on the jersey design. He was right. In the end though, I have to admit, I'm pleased! It should look great out there on the road."

So before anyone will see the complete kit on the road, here's the complete and final design [click on the image to enlarge] for all our Crankset readers. Thanks and congratulations again Joe, founder of the graphic design company, Yule Design.

On Tap...

Cross season continues, but the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships will be upon us before you know.

From the press release:
The best racers in American cyclocross will fight for the right to wear this year's stars and stripes jersey at the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships December 13 - 16, 2007 in Kansas City, Kan.

Four days of epic racing will take place on a technical, challenging and fast course for junior, collegiate, master and elite athletes from all over the country. The nearly two-mile-long course winds through Wyandotte County Park.

Race Director Bill Marshall of KLM Marketing Solutions had a solid blueprint for the national championship course design, having staged several UCI races in the 360-acre park, which features rolling terrain in the scenic setting of hillside oak and lakeside sycamore trees.

"We wanted to make the course very hard," Marshall said. "Cyclocross is tough, no matter what. Our intention was to make this course both technical and fast."

The signature element is a pair of back-to-back stair sections, each 40-feet in length, that come about a quarter-mile from the finish line.

"You'll run up the first set of stairs, get back on your bike for a brief time, then dismount and run up the second set," Marshall said. "This is going to be crucial as we found out in Providence last year at nationals. They had two run-ups close to the finish and it makes it very interesting if it is a tight race."

Another crucial element of the course design was to make it as spectator-friendly as possible, Marshall said. Nearly the entire course is viewable from several vantage points. A barrier section, positioned between a pair of heated spectator tents, will also be a prime viewing spot.

Special attention was given to the start area to ensure that competitors who do not have the most prime starting positions have the opportunity to move up quickly before the course narrows.

"That first grass section is extremely wide open and slightly uphill as it leads into the first sweeping right-hand turn," Marshall said. "We tried to make it as close as possible to the start you would see on a UCI course. Eventually, though, there are a few turns to slow it up and create opportunities to get away."

Where the course doubles back on itself in several places could also prove particularly tricky, he said.

"This course has some decent hills - not the steep ones like you saw in Providence for nationals last year - but ones that are going to be tough in all conditions," Marshall said. "They're long uphills so if it's icy, they'll be particularly treacherous. If it's dry, the course will be rippin' fast."

Racers will also have to negotiate a section of the course that passes close to a pond - one that was covered in ice when four-time national cyclocross champion Steve Tilford crashed into it during a race last year. Incredibly, Tilford recovered from the frigid plunge to come back and win.

"We're officially labeling that pond as the 'No Tilly Zone' this year to recognize that feat," Marshall said.

Racers will have the unique opportunity to preview the national championship course on Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Boulevard Cup.

Online registration for the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships continues through Dec. 8 on the race's official website.

The event venue will offer spectators multiple vantage points on the action, an Expo area, kids activities and beer garden. The event is sanctioned by USA Cycling and hosted by KLM Marketing Solutions.

There is no admission fee for the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships. Parking is also free, but only in designated areas. There is no fee for pit access. Official race apparel is on sale through the event's official website.

If you plan on attending, air fare is still relatively within reason. But be sure to book soon.

USA Cycling members can save 15 percent on car rental through Hertz, up to 15 percent on flights through United and 10 percent on stays at Hilton and Hampton properties. Just follow the links on the USA Cycling website member section.

Hotel rooms are plentiful at this point, with many in the $70-$100 range.

Finally, the nearby Legends at Village West is an extensive shopping, dining and entertainment zone within walking distance of many of the hotels.

For those of us not of National Championship caliber or who just want to learn what Cross is all about, there's still plenty of racing to go. A list of races, in select regions of the country, for which you can participate is below.

11/10/2007
Mid Ohio Cross/Granville Cross
Granville, OH
Capcity Cross #4 Lobdell Park
Alexandria, OH
Cross My Heart And Hope To Die - Willoughby CX
Willoughby, OH

11/11/2007
Brookside Cyclocross Cup
Indianapolis, IN
Old Towne Vande-Cross
Moline, IL
North Carolina CX Race #4
Southern Pines, NC
Wisconsin Benefit /Flying Viking Cross
Stoughton, WI
Eco Cross
Sylmar, CA

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

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Listening to Levi

Speaking of good interviews (see Granny's interview below), VeloNews has a one-on-one with Levi Leipheimer:

Following Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel to the new-look Astana team will keep Leipheimer in the familiar - and winning - team ambiance, where he'll join defending Tour champ Alberto Contador with a two-year contract.

Leipheimer hopes to hit the repeat button in 2008, with the Tour of California, the Tour de France and a chance at Olympic gold in Beijing top his list of goals for the upcoming season.

TRIPLE Exclusive: An Interview with Shannon Hutchison-Krupat

Through a bit of happenstance and creativity, the Crankset landed its first interview this summer. We were fortunate enough to speak with CSC’s Kurt Asle Arvesen following the Tour de France and his second victory at the Post Danmark Rundt.

In our second installment we bring you a conversation with one of the “classiest” ladies of the US elite peloton and a great ambassador of the sport of cycling, Shannon Hutchison-Krupat. She has ridden for a number of teams throughout her career, [mostly in the Atlanta area], and had a stint with Colavita Olive Oil, during which she was ranked the #1 Criterium racer in the country.

Photo: Emory Ball/Cyclingnews.com

I first met Shannon at this year’s Tour de Grandview, where she finished in 1st and 2nd, respectively, over the weekend. I ran into her again at the USA Crits Finals in Las Vegas during Interbike week. Unbeknownst to me, the race would be one of her final with Aaron’s Corporate Furnishings. Shannon’s talents, however, have always extended well beyond the barricades. And for the lady with one of the most contagious smiles around, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her rubbing shoulders or trading elbows.

Granny’s 30: Shannon, how many years have you been riding professionally?

Shannon Hutchison-Krupat (SHK): I started in 1997 for a local bike shop in South Carolina called Outspokin'. The next year I was with Cox Atlanta Velo on the track. My first year as pro was 1999 on the Cox Atlanta Velo women's team that eventually morphed into AutoTrader.com.

G: As your bio states, you're the perfect blend of being one of the country's best sprinters and a domestique. Not to make you choose, but are both equally fulfilling [especially when a teammate wins the day] in your mind? Is that competitive side of you hard to temper in a race like Vegas where you were a worker? Does the team give you enough freedom...say if you really have the legs on that given race day?

SHK: I do have favorite races that I just worked for others and I felt really good about it. As a team rider you do what the director says, whether you agree with it or not. I do think that there were races or tactics that we all might have disagreed with, but you have to remember that you have a job to do, like it or not. There is freedom to a point. If you feel like going on the offensive and trying to get into a break you can work it, that is if the right people are there.

G: Its also been well documented that you are an orchestra teacher, what was your instrument? And why?

SHK: Actually, I started in the 5th grade on the violin. My mother had always wanted to play the violin, so that kind of helped to lean that way. My top instruments were violin, oboe, and viola. I picked violin. If I had it to do over again I would pick viola.

G: Did [do] you have aspirations of playing professionally? Or has it been the case, as with some of my friends, that once you step behind the podium there is no going back?

SHK: I have played in several orchestras and substituted in several others. I played for the Two Rivers Philharmonic in Illinois. I don't think that they are still going. I also played for Orchestra Atlanta, which has now changed their name. I am not sure what it is called now. But honestly, it is so difficult to get into a good orchestra! I have a good friend that has flown all over the place and still has yet to get that good gig. Plus, I love teaching and working with students. My competitive side comes out especially at Festival time! We have to win! I always make this bet with the kids. If we get all Superior ratings from every judge, in every sub-category (that is 26 Superior or 1 ratings) then I usually dye my hair something crazy for the day. I have ended up dyeing my hair every year! Last year it was blue.

When I postured for a digital image of the blue-haired Shannon, she replied, “hopefully it is long gone!”

G: What is your favorite [not particularly the easiest] piece to teach...favorite to play...favorite for listening?

SHK: I have tons of favorites! My favorite piece for my students is called Scenes from the Emerald Isles. My students last year loved it. It is pretty tricky at the end with an Irish Jig. They called the piece “Super Scenes,” and would play it at Mach 1. It was so fun to watch! Plus they all had it memorized and would whip through it like crazy! I also love Brahms and Debussy and the Mendelsohn Violin concerto in e minor.

G: What drew you to middle school as opposed to other levels of education?

SHK: This year I did move up to the high school level. I am having a great time! High school has been my passion, but there aren't a lot of positions available. It is great to come in where the students already know how to play. I am not starting from scratch. The only bad part about that, [is that] they come with bad habits that we have to fix. Technique and Intonation.

G: Any comparisons to "Mr. Holland" ever?

SHK: No. But I try to be creative like him.

G: Having been privy to workings of the University of Michigan bands, I was amazed at how tightly knit the world of music is, where each professor and student alike had knowledge of other bands and band directors around the country, of potential job openings, etc. Is that a comparable analogy to the world of women's cycling, as you certainly seem to race with or against some of the same women over the course of a season and a career?

SHK: Yes, it is very similar. Probably more so, because it is a smaller group.

G: There is a tremendous amount of technology that goes into teaching orchestra on the collegiate level [ie. use of filming/recording performances, practice, etc], has it had an influence on how you teach adolescents/young adults?

SHK: There is a ton of great technology out there. I am still trying to get a handle on it all. I really need to take more classes to totally understand everything. I wish that I could do more with my students. Unfortunately, I don't have resources for a piano lab or music lab. That would be awesome!

G: Have you noticed a big influence of technology in your cycling, or are you still on that same Schwinn you learned on in Indianola [IA]? What are you riding on now...what was your favorite ride?

SHK: Funny, my first real road bike was a Specialized Allez. This year, I was back on Specialized, the S-Works Ruby. It definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite bikes; right next to my Litespeed Ultimate that I still have!

G: Shimano or Campy?

SHK: I have always loved Shimano, but this year we road SRAM. It was a great change. I still have to work on that shift with the wrist during the sprint.

G: I know that you love to race Grandview, but would you call it your favorite race? If not, what is your favorite race?

Photo: Leonard Basobas

SHK:
Ohio is great because I have two host families. One I have stayed with for the past 5 years or so. I have watched their family grow over the years. I helped teach their oldest son to ride his bike. There is also a family that I see every year that I stayed with my very first year on Cox. Two of their kids are now in college! It is so amazing to go back and visit and see everyone and catch up!

Athens Twilight is also a great race. The energy is amazing!

G: Given the current climate of cycling, I just have to ask. With Genevieve Jeanson's admission of doping do you think its an issue in women's cycling? Have you ever heard things said throughout the domestic peloton to suggest it could be an issue? Do you think the women's peloton is somewhat sheltered [from doping], because it’s not as much of a big business industry as the men's?

SHK: I have heard of women doping, but mostly it is women in the European peloton. You always wonder when someone comes out of nowhere and is flying. Honestly, the money isn't really there in the women's peloton like the men's. When the top women are getting a small fraction of what men get it doesn't make sense.

G: I am a big proponent of women's cycling. I really like what the USWCDP is doing. Have you adopted that type of mentoring role with some of your less experienced teammates and/or is that a role you'd like to embrace down-the-line [in say, a director role]?

SHK: Well, truthfully, this is where I am going next season. I knew from the beginning [of this season]. I knew that this was going to be my last season. I wasn't happy with my year on Aaron's. It had a rocky start and I never really meshed. So I knew that the decision to retire was the right one. With my new job and cycling not making me happy I needed a change. A friend of mine asked me about joining up with his bike shop and putting together a women's team. One of my good friends was already on board and they wanted a couple more women. I thought, “wouldn't it be great to have a couple of U-23 riders and mentor them.” So right now that is how it is looking. We are waiting for the final go ahead from the title sponsor and then we are set.

G: You finished in the top 10 in the US Crits final rankings, and 13th in the US Cycling Criterium rankings. Do you see yourself riding competitively for as long as your body allows?

SHK: I am definitely taking a step back. Retirement…if I want to sleep in I am going to! I don't know how many races I am going to do this year, but it will be great to do what I want to do and help a couple of girls get to the races that they can get noticed and hopefully get on a pro team.

G: No one likes to crash. I saw some images of you caught up in one in Charlotte [Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium]. Plus when I spoke to you about my broken collarbone, you definitely had an intimate knowledge of what I was experiencing. What was your worst moment on a bicycle? Did your worse moment even involve a crash?

SHK: Charlotte was one of my worst races this year. I felt great that whole week. [I] raced great at the track on Wednesday, but then felt like crap during that race. The crash didn't help. When I got back in, I was on a bike that was too small and my helmet was broken. I couldn't get comfortable. Crit Nats [USPRO Criterium Nationals in Downers Grove, IL] was also bad. So many crashes, and crazy girls. It didn't help matters that it was raining. I slid so far in the rain I wondered if I was ever going to stop!

G: What's your best moment on a bicycle?

SHK:
Definitely winning Athens Twilight in 2005 (inset, Photo - Robert Laybourn 2005).

Best wishes to Shannon in her future endeavors as an orchestra teacher and a cycling mentor. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of her on the racing circuit.

The New Phone Books Are In!

You know that feeling when you see that new phone book sitting on your stoop or in your hallway?

The excitement, the anticipation...



Well, the new kit that I'll be riding in next season finally arrived in the mail and those same feelings of excitement and anticipation washed over me like "dipping your head under cool running water."

The new kit is in...the new kit is in!

From the brain of former xXx Racing - Athletico teammate, Carlos Cabalu, a new fashion statement for the fashion misanthrope we all know as the rider without a team, Unattached Rider has finally been actualized with the shipment of its first order.

Still having issues with my shoulder, I couldn't physically don the kit, so I asked Carlos to take some shots of it on an actual person. His first offering was good, but then he reached down deep into his creative soul to pull out...

Photos & Model: Carlos Cabalu

Emroidery details on the cap...


So if you still haven't been snatched up by your local team or are finally willing to give up the "Our Boy Lance addiction" and stop wearing your US Postal/Discovery jersey at the races, then give Unattached Rider more than a passing glance.

[If you seriously have the feeling of anticipatory excitement from the arrival of the new phone book, then seek out professional help. I actually know a really good psychiatrist]

Monday, November 05, 2007

A New Personal Best for OBL

So, you were wondering how Our Boy Lance did in the New York City Marathon Sunday. Last year, as you certainly remember (since we remember all things Lance), Armstrong achieved his goal of breaking three hours with 24 seconds to spare.

Sunday, he improved by almost 13 minutes, posting a time of 2:46.43 (AFP photo).

He credited four factors for the difference: last year's shin problems were gone, he knew what to expect, he trained harder, and he lost seven pounds, dropping his weight to 173.

"I came in better prepared," Lance said. "I enjoyed it much more this year. "I feel better than I did last year leaving here. Last year it took me about four or five months to actually be able to run again because of my shins. "Last year I had no idea what to expect with 26.2 miles (42.16 km), and I paid for it."

OBL -- he's now 36, by the way -- was unofficially the 698th to cross the finish line among the 39,085 runners who started the race. Jan Ullrich finished 699th (just kidding!).

Will he be back next year?
"I'd like to say that I'd come back here every year, but I don't know,"Armstrong said. "It is a beautiful race, and I think if I'm going to continue to do a marathon every year. This is definitely the best one to do, just based on the level of support and the motivation out there to run. But I don't know. Next year could be another sports challenge, so give me a few months."

Hmmm. How about the Tour de France?
And, there was no Olsen twin in sight.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Tour of America?

Brian Grenier has begun a series on DailyPeloton.com about the proposed Tour of America. The concept was announced at Interbike (did I miss something, Granny?). There's a proposed stage not far from where I live (beginning in Frederick, Md.).

What do you think of a month-long tour across the United States?

Pound-ing Away to the Last

Outgoing (well, that's good news!) World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound is warning (isn't the sanctimonious jerk usually warning someone or other?) sport's governing bodies to toughen up in the fight on drugs cheats.

"Doping is a 20th century problem being dealt with by 19th century organizations," Pound said last week in London. "It's a big, complicated problem and many of them don't have the stomach for the fight."

What will the world do without Dick Pound?

"The science is a constant game of cat and mouse and that will continue," he said. "But we are making progress. Seventy-five percent of our budget goes on scientific research."

Pound, who leaves his position at the end of November, took a parting shot at cycling's world governing body (UCI) for its failure to get its house in order after another Tour de France blighted by doping.

"They let it get out of control," he said. "Maybe they thought that the Tour de France was bigger than the sport. This year was a disaster and when television, written press and commercial backers start bailing out they must have known they were looking into the abyss. Letting doping into a sport is much easier than getting it out. They are reaping what they sowed."

The Tour Before the Tour

We all know about the Tour de France, right?
Well, maybe not.

According to a new history, "The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War," by Graham Robb, there was a Tour de France before the one we know:

The original Tour de France was an itinerary followed by apprentices for centuries, a four- or five-year trek, organized by the trade guilds, that sent young masons and bakers and carpenters on a 1,400-mile journey to more than a hundred towns, where they served under local artisans, learning local techniques and working with local materials.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Role Model? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Role Model!

I can't let Granny do everything, right?
I have a que full of cycling news that demands attention, as do some of you (thank you for that), but like Granny, the day job (when you teach, it's a 24/7 job) sometimes really kicks your ass, like Granny says.
But I just can't resist the low-hanging fruit (I trust there isn't something dirty in that reference).
And Our Boy Lance is an orchard these days.
I mean, like, y'know ... three nights in a row now!

Ashley Olsen
and OBL were spotted partying at The Box in New York City Wednesday night.
The only box I know is the penalty box, and I sure hope Lance isn't headed there for a misconduct penalty.
But as the always reliable Film.com reports, "Three nights in a row is a big deal among the Hollywood set, people!"
I mean, like, y'know ... Hollywood set?
Isn't there something deeper OBL is supposed to challenge us to think about than Ashley Olsen's ... oh, whatever.
And, doesn't anybody have a cellphone camera?
Aside to Anonymous: Yeah, yeah, I know ...