Sunday, January 27, 2008

They Call Him Andre the Giant

I haven't paid much attention to the Tour Down Under this week, and now it's over. The lack of any Versus coverage until the Amgen Tour of California doesn't help.
With the first week of the new semester (I teach journalism at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.), I've been busy with that.
Heck, I've paid more attention to the tennis down under -- the Australian Open in Melbourne, won by Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic (to the dismay or Roger Federer fans).

Germany's Andre Greipel won his fourth stage out of six on Sunday to secure the title by 15 seconds over Australian Allan Davis, according to a BBC story. Greipel led by four seconds going into the 88km final stage around Adelaide, but Davis won the first sprint to reduce the margin to one second. However, Team High Road's Greipel pulled away to win the first race outside of Europe to be granted ProTour status.

ALSO:
-- HeraldSun.au:
Andre Greipel sprints to Tour Down Under glory
-- AP: Lance Armstrong cleans up clouded swimming hole
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Slipstream bolsters Tour bid with runner-up finish in Qatar kickoff
-- BikeRadar.com: Credit Agricole ending 10-year run
-- The Age.au: Cyclist Boonen cleared in drugs probe
-- Daily Peleton: Team CSC review
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Press reports hint Tour may snub Astana
-- Bicycling: Phinney finishes first, Cipo in with Rock
-- Cycling Weekly: Millar confirms Giro debut


Friday, January 25, 2008

We're Going to Disneyland


Anaheim seems to be the prevailing sentiment as to which city may end up hosting Interbike in the not too distant [and temporary] future.

Interbike Breakfast Presentation at the 2008 Bicycle Leadership Conference Provides New Research Results on Potential Host Cites for Interbike 2010

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - January 24, 2008 - As a part of the eleventh annual Bicycle Leadership Conference (BLC), Interbike hosted a breakfast presentation on Saturday, January 19 at the Holiday on the Bay in San Diego, California. During the presentation, Interbike Industry Consultant Lance Camisasca reviewed Interbike's host city requirements, gave an update to the Sands Convention Center situation and shared new options for future event locations.

"This year's BLC was an ideal place to continue our discussions about potential host cities for the Interbike show," Camisasca said. "The audience included some of the bike industry's best leaders and for them to show up ready to go as they did at 7:30 a.m. was impressive."

During Interbike's breakfast presentation, Camisasca reviewed with BLC attendees key market criteria it considers when selecting a show venue. Interbike's top venue requirements include:
  • Contiguous exhibit space of at least 700,000 gross square-feet and ample meeting room space,
  • An event location where retailer and manufacturer attendance can be maximized,
  • A large and diverse selection of hotels, restaurants and entertainment options conveniently located to the events,
  • An international airport located within close proximity to the event with many flight options, numerous carriers and low airfare rates,
  • Relaxed labor union regulations and high quality services,
  • An OutDoor Demo site with great weather, extensive cross country/downhill trails and a closed road loop, and
  • An event market that is recognized as a cycling culture destination.
Camisasca explained during the breakfast presentation that Interbike's long-term contract with the Sands Convention Center runs through the 2009 show, and Interbike is considering whether to renew the contract or move the show to another location.

Denver and Anaheim are two cities that come closest to meeting all the requirements to host Interbike. Both cities have the contiguous space needed, would provide a diverse selection of restaurants, hotels and entertainment options, are located in areas that would maximize attendance and are recognized as cycling culture destinations.

Comments during the question and answer portion of the presentation showed support for a move, but no clear consensus on either city.

"Denver is a much more bicycle-friendly city than Las Vegas, Salt Lake City or Anaheim, and the Outdoor Demo options near Denver are excellent," said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of the Bikes Belong Coalition. "From a Denver standpoint, however, I'm concerned about the hotels and transportation as Denver has not handled a show of Interbike's size before. So at this point I would say yes to Anaheim for the next three or four years, with a plan to move to Denver after that."

"I have to admit a personal bias that the Anaheim shows of previous years were not all that great," said Tim Jackson, brand manager for Masi Bikes. "But given the needs of the show and the industry, Anaheim is looking a lot better. With a newly remodeled and really gorgeous convention center and an eagerness from the city to lure the industry back, Anaheim is rapidly becoming a contender for me. When you add in the already existing infrastructure - they're harder to beat all the time."

According to Camisasca, Interbike has not made a decision about moving the show, but a decision will need to be made by mid-2008. As part of its ongoing research, Interbike will continue to reach out to retailers, industry advocacy groups and other industry members before making a decision about a the future venue for the Interbike show.

"I was quite happy with the attendees' understanding of the situation," Camisasca concluded. "The feedback I received regarding the potential host cities and the very engaging question and answer period following the presentation exceeded my expectations. We have now completed the first of several rounds of research in order to make the best decision possible."

Those interested in receiving a copy of Interbike's BLC presentation, please contact Chip Smith at csmith@soarcomm.com or Maura Lansford at mlansford@soarcomm.com. The presentation will also be available on Interbike's Media Center download page at http://www.interbike.com/ib/press/downloads.jsp.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pedal Power

Delta 7 Sports Arantix Mountain Bike Provides "Bicycle Power" for Miōn Footwear's Human-Powered Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Booth

Show attendees invited to test ride the Arantix mountain bike by Delta 7 Sports while generating power for the 20'x20' booth

PAYSON, Utah - January 22, 2008 - Delta 7 Sports, LLC today announced its Arantix mountain bike will provide the pedal power for Miōn Footwear's human-powered booth at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008 taking place January 23-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Show attendees and members of the media are invited to test ride the Arantix mountain bike while creating a portion of the electricity needed for the eco-friendly booth.

"The Delta 7 Sports Arantix mountain bike will be connected to generators so that every pedaled rotation provides electricity for the Miōn Footwear booth." said Lester Muranaka, vice president of marketing for Delta 7 Sports. "Beyond supporting Miōn as they explore new ways to become better stewards of natural resources, this is a great opportunity for show attendees who haven't seen the Arantix bike up close or had a chance to be in the saddle of this high-end and limited production bike."

With the help of employees and attendees, the 20' x 20' Miōn Footwear booth (#32224) will need to generate more than 3,000 watts of electricity per day. In addition, anyone who rides the Arantix for a minimum of five minutes will be eligible for prizes including a kayak, roundtrip airline flights to anywhere in the continental U.S., helmet camera, bags and sunglasses, among others.

For more information about Delta 7 Sports and its involvement in the Miōn Footwear human-powered Outdoor Demo Winter Market booth, please contact Maura Lansford at mlansford@soarcomm.com or 801.523.3730.

TRIPLE Exclusive - An Interview with Michael Engleman

Most, if not all, not-for-profit organizations begin with a single individual’s passion for a specific issue or a cause. Such is the case with the US Women's Cycling Development Program and Michael Engleman.

A former elite runner and cyclist [riding for Coors and US Postal], Mr. Engleman founded the USWCDP with the simple belief that “an elite athlete should never be held back in their sport because they do not know the right people, they can’t afford to participate, or they cannot get a question answered.” As the organization’s Director, he has created a program whereby “promising elite women cyclists” have the “access to the most advanced technologies and training with guidance from experienced and dedicated professionals and premier women cyclist mentors.”

With a growing number of like minded individuals and sponsors, Mr. Engleman and the USWCDP “hope to propel the best U.S. cyclists to the very top in women’s cycling, create excitement and enthusiasm, and to firmly establish U.S. Women’s Cycling both in the field and with the public.”


In my conversation with Michael Engleman we discuss distance running, how he developed a passion for cycling and became a proponent for women’s cycling, and where he sees the USWCDP’s place in the sport.

Granny’s 30 (G): It states in your bio that you started out as a distance runner. What were your events…what were your aspirations [Worlds, Olympics]?

Michael Engleman (ME): I ran a 9:00 two mile, a 30:41 10K and a 2:20 something marathon so I was OK at most distances and not really good at anything. I had lived to run and I thought it was my purpose in life so I keep at it even when I started falling apart. I realized later that those times helped me define the difference between determination and stubbornness.

G: Who were your athletic, running, role models?

ME: I mostly looked up to Frank Shorter as did just about every distance runner in those days but I was a member of the Dallas Cross Country Club so I got to train with Jeff Wells and John Ludwig who were 2:10 and 2:12 marathoners and also pretty good guys. I remember being impressed that World Class athletes are really as normal as most people, that is OK to keep your powers to yourself if you chose, that the shrapnel of ego and determination only flew when its time to compete.

G: Your bio also states that you turned to the bicycle after a series of running injuries. Did you use the bicycle for cross training before the injuries, or were you like most distance runners focused on your miles, fartlek splits, etc.?

ME: I never did any cross training when I ran. I just ran tons of miles and got a little one dimensional. I did train hard and well but I think I might have gone further if I had mellowed a little, gone for a hike or rode a town bike around. All my training was very regimented and I think that has something with how I chose to coach now. Smell the roses sort of thing.

G: Have you ever read Parker's "Once a Runner"? If so, have you picked up a copy of "Again to Carthage" yet?

ME: Read it many times! Haven't gotten to the sequel yet.

G: As a distance runner did you like to sit-in or were you a front runner? Did you have a great finishing kick?

ME: I think I always tried to hang with runners who were better then me. Not much sprint left in the end.

G: When did you first realize you were a cyclists…what is it about the sport that you love?

ME: The sport really found me. After I stopped running I just missed having a goal so I got an old bike and started riding and it turned out I could ride with most anyone. My local bike shop talked me into racing and that was that with all the rest being old history. I found that I liked the "thinking" part of the sport, that good day or bad day you could try and find a way to make something of it.

G: You stated that you liked the thinking aspect of the sport. A lot has been made about the use of technology [radios, etc] in the way riders communicate to their directors these days, do you think it's beneficial or does it "dull" a racer's instincts?

ME: I think radios can be a good teaching tool but I prefer to use them as info mostly...who is in the break, the time gaps, things like that. I find that some people spend way to much time talking into them just to talk. The point is that the athletes learn to race, not wait to hear what to do. Really the best way to learn racing is to race with smart teammates! Not all tools have to be weapons where you just fire away constantly; mostly you just need a rack or a bucket so you can gather what you learn.

G: Coors Light, US Postal…what were some of your most memorable moments…favorite memories…career highlights [Downers Grove?]?

ME: Mt. Evans, Nevada City, Corestates, Downers Grove in the rain, Coors Classic, Davis Phinney, Dave Mann, Kristin Armstrong, Alison Dunlap, Mara Abbott getting second at the Montreal World Cup and then winning Nationals, helping to get a pro contract for Amy Dombroski (inset) and Kristin McGrath, having Rebecca Much come back into the sport. I really don't look back at my career much; I don't put much on what I did but rather what I learned. I think the one great gift of my athletic career is that it has lead me to this point where I get to see athletes work toward their own highlights. I think the line goes that while life is very short but it is also very wide, that the journey may be short but it is also vast so I feel that my most memorable moment is in front of me and I don't want to miss it because I'm looking backwards.

G: What do you think about that final turn at Downers, do you think the course should be changed, or keep with tradition?

ME: Well, its bike racing and you race the course they give you. I am against any course that is unsafe no matter the tradition but I'm not totally sure that Downers is unsafe. Really the depth of talent has increased so much that there are more great riders going for any corner on every course. As it’s been said, the answer is an acorn; the question is a giant oak.

G: Crits or Road Races?

ME: I hated flat four corner crits and I loved climbs. Basically I liked a race where some tactics could play into it.

G: When you were racing, did you pay attention to the women's races?

ME: One of my oldest friends is Ruthie Matthes and I saw all that she went through trying to make a living in cycling while also trying to be the type of athlete she was born to be. I think that made me notice more and I remember watching Dede Demet (Barry) and admiring the way she always gave EVERYTHING she had. We were all in the same sport and I took it serious and I never saw that the women did not do the same.

G: You were the Asst. Director with T-Mobile for two years…what is it about women's cycling that drew you to the sport?

ME: On T-Mobile I found incredible athletes who were also remarkable people. I got to work with and be around athletes such as Kristin Armstrong, Sarah Hammer, Dede Barry, Amber Neben, Kimberly Baldwin, Kim Anderson, Stacey Peters, Mari Holden and you could not help but be inspired by what the capabilities were. What really drew me in is that this is the story all across the sport! Look at what Christine Thorburn has accomplished while being a Doctor or the lofty agenda that Amber Rais is working on. Mara Abbott is so concerned with how she can make a difference in the world as she is also starting the next big step in her cycling career.

G: Why are you a proponent of women's cycling? What is appealing about it, objectively? What is appealing about women's cycling relative to men's cycling? Why do you think men's cycling still takes center stage over women's? What do you think should change in women's cycling to get people more interested and excited about it?

ME: The quick categorical answers are that were are not enough real proponents of women's cycling and I felt I would be remiss if I didn't step up to help in some way. I see people who not only want to perform in a sport at a World Class level I also see them as wanting to change the World in positive ways and how could I not want to be involved with that!

I think these women will lead their own way...those that mean the most will notice...

I have heard it told that if a rider is talented they will get noticed, that the National Team or a pro team will see them, but I think that takes a chance that someone will get missed. You can do a camp and tell a rider they are good but if you just send them home to no coaching or support it becomes just a roll of the dice on when they might get a break though. I first saw Mara Abbott at a camp and I just kept in touch with her for a few years while she lived her life as a student and a swimmer. Who knows where she would have ended otherwise? Maybe the same place but maybe not? Alison Powers and Katharine Carroll are two more where a few small things have made an enormous difference. They are both so very talented that they most likely would succeed anyway, but why not seek to give them a hand at the beginning. I think if you just watch the top 3 finishers all the time you might miss the athlete that finishes 12th but is also the one that makes you say "Damn! She's really good". I saw Carmen McNellis (now with Aaron's and also a US National team member) race once and then talked to her and I knew she had real talent and also the mind of an athlete.

Bad news reads as good or better then good news...the racing is exciting but so is the women's...look at l'Aude the past few years...why isn't Amber Neben anywhere as known as she should be?

I would have liked one of those companies who have pulled out of sponsoring men's teams to have looked to the women athletes and seen that while they are world class athletes, they are also educated and well spoken and very loyal to what they believe in. Seems to me one of those sponsors that really did believe in the sport of cycling would have made a stand on the women's side...

G: For our readers, what is the USWCDP?

ME: We work at building a network of people who want to offer support to women cyclists. On one hand we are like a lobby and we abdicate for the sport not just the riders. We do lean toward the side of the athlete because everything is on their back. At camps I had done the one thing that always came up was who would an athlete call if they had a question? There may be a hundred different places to call to get some answers but there was no one good place to start so we try to be that place. Teams call and ask about good riders and riders call about teams so we put them together. Basically we always make an effort to help or find someone who can. I see the USWCDP as just the foundation of a building, I think the upper floors are just being built and they consist of the athletes and their goals and wishes and beliefs.

From your introduction above, while we do try to find the proper "technologies" and guidance, all we are really doing is to use the things that are already out there. To try and put people of like minds together so really the most valuable thing we have is an open line of communication. While we work to help athletes, and that involves training and being a professional athlete over time, what I have found is that the capabilities of these women are outside of sports. I think we are starting to become more impressed by what they will do for the world and not just how fast they can ride a bike. These athletes are very impressive citizens of the world and cycling is just a piece of their goals in life.

G: I read that you started the USWCDP with a lot of your own money. I know that other sponsors have since stepped up and invested in your goals and missions, how has the program been received on a whole…have there been people reluctant to "buy-into" it or even downright against it?

ME: I have put a lot into this and the cost has been high in many ways. I just felt it is a cause that I have to support, that I can not walk away from.

The difficulty in pitching what we are doing is that it is largely different from what is usually done. We are not putting together a team with a jersey on 7 different riders, what we are doing is trying to create an extensive network of support for all women cyclists. Sponsors have to believe in the cause and the good intentions not just the media impression or the podium appearance. It has been difficult to get out the stories of these athletes but some are starting to notice. There are, I think, people who understand why a woman would get her degree or her Masters or her Doctorate or pass the Bar but then set it all aside to race a bike for little or no money. Most of the athletes look at their athletic career as something that makes them what they are, part of the life education, and they will use that to succeed at other things later in life. Seems like a dream cause for a sponsor to want to be involved with to me.

I want to get back to scouting talent more. I think that is the most important thing because you have to always be out there looking but also so riders can see there is, in our own small way, support.

I haven't found that anyone is outwardly against us though I think some don't get what we are trying to do. We don't charge athletes so its not like our business plan is really good but that does allow us to be mostly neutral and always be on the side of the sport . I also think there are some that are a little condescending toward any women's sports and, unfortunately, I sometimes find it within the sport.

I think I deal with athletes like I preferred to be dealt with which is don't push me up a road, just show me which road to take.

G: You stated that you want to get back into scouting talent. What are your responsibilities currently in the USWCDP? And how is talent "scouted" currently? Is there a scouting network similar to what you see in other sports? Would you like to see that kind of scouting network built?

ME: I do everything! (laugh) I just work to build the network of people who care about women's cycling and that means a lot of phone and email time. I do hope to be back at many of the races in 2008 to be able to watch and see what talent is out there. I look forward to being amazed at some new talent! I think there is a good group of people out there now who know talent when they see it. Teams are always looking for talent and some of the directors will call me now and then to let me know of someone they saw. If the USWCDP can help that athlete in some way then that helps the team when they look to add that rider to the team later. It's always been easy to see that we all have to work together but what we need to do is figure how to do that work best.

I want to make the point that I don't think the USWCDP is doing something "bigger" in the sport than others are, I think we are just trying to link and rally all the people who are doing great things. I'm talking bike shops and clubs and coaches and all those small teams that want to help their riders and directors of big teams that want to see young riders develop so that they can add them to their teams. The Program is everyone who is trying to help these athletes! People like Linda Jackson from TIBCO and Carmen D'Aluisio from Aaron's and Laura Weislo or Lisa Hunt from the Value Act team, they are all doing something positive for athletes. I have such an enormous amount of respect for Kristy Scrymgeour from Team High Road because she cares about the sport and the athletes and doing it all the right way.

G: For the rider out there who feels they are qualified for the USWCDP, what is the process to get into the program…what type(s) of qualifications are required…is there an age limit (low or high) for participation?

ME: On the one hand we never turn away a question and we try to help anyone who asks for help but it has become easy to get overloaded. I do think our network of people willing to help is growing. Our Mentors, current and former Pro riders, have great advice to offer and there are bike shops and coaches and doctors and other athletes who will step in offer advice or some sort of care. My frustration has been that we have not been able to help financially as much as I wish. There have been a couple athletes we work with where one plane ticket to a race that they would not otherwise have gone to changed their career in a positive way. There are some great opportunities out there such as the new US National Team format but you had better be ready to do it for no pay and I hate to see that be a reason for an athlete to not go forward.

All the USWCDP riders have heard my pitch on what efforts need to be done to be an athlete and that you can't look to blame or complain about not getting a break. An athlete has to feel that her fate is in her own hands so ask questions, seek some answers and ride your bike. The USWCDP will try to be there to answer a question or give advice but there is only so much we can do but we do though I hope the athlete gets some kind of power through that advice.

G: What did you think of Georgia Gould's recent petition for "Equal Pay?"

ME: Georgia's aunt lives close to Dolores and while I only know her a little I would say that standing up for what you believe in strongly is a trait that runs in the family. I've seen these women race; they deserve just as much prize money as anyone else in the sport.

G: I read that Webcor is the only UCI listed women's team currently. Do you see the growth of US Women's cycling into the international landscape as being integral to the growth of women's cycling in general?

ME: I do think it is important. Cycling is a world wide sport and there is world class talent in the US so they need to be on the world stage. I think that working toward the highest athletic level is a given in sport. For the women athletes, the International level is already the direction they are going. The idea and drive of "let’s perform" also covers much of the need of "let’s promote".

G: Along those same lines, do you think it's essential to have some of Europe's biggest names participate in North American, specifically US, events to grow the sport?

ME: It is normal to want to see the talent from all over the world. The worlds talent racing against each other gets world wide press and that is important. I would also say that some of the biggest names in the world are from the US so the international athlete is already here and I would hope fans would want to see them race. Look at what Amber Neben has done each year! She has won the Route de France and the Tour de l'Aude twice. Check out what Kristin Armstrong and Sarah Hammer have done internationally. The crowds should come out to see them anytime they can.

G: I wrote a post offering up Mara Abbott as the "Next Great American Cyclist" do you think that is too heady of title right now in her career, or given her talent is her career arc on that type of plane?

ME: As a coach or mentor I really don't do an athlete much of a favor by telling them how great they are. Mara has an amazing amount of talent but she will be the first to tell you that its what she proves to herself that counts. I think the press has every right to make those predictions and Mara has every right to make the sort of goals she has made but it comes down to gaining experience and lots of work. I certainly have seen things that give me a great idea on what she is capable of but for me I would rather she show you then have me tell you about it.

I hope the press will look toward the "Next Group" of American Cyclists. Riders like Katharine Carroll, Alison Powers and Amber Rais are ready now. Andrea Dvorak, Kristin McGrath, Amy Dombroski, Rebecca Much, ...these are riders on the way. There are others I haven't named and more we haven't even heard of yet.

Photos: Michael Engleman with Mara Abbott (Courtesy of Whitman College); Michael and Amy Dombroski (Courtesy of Karen Webster); and Pan Am Games (L to R: Kristin Armstrong, Michael, and Kimberly Baldwin)

Monday, January 21, 2008

To Dream

I have been called a “dreamer.” But that often carried a negative connotation by the people that label me as such. I preferred to view myself in the context of what Harriet Tubman said about the dreamer, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

On the third Monday in January the United States celebrates and commemorates the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.; a man who dreamed one of the biggest [and some may say audacious] dreams of all, an integrated and unified America.

For those who have never seen or read Dr. King’s 1963 speech, the entirety is below.



For those in the cycling community, two years ago, NPR’s Tony Cox spoke with pro cycling writer Patrick Sharp about why there are so few blacks in professional cycling.

The issue seems to perpetuate today, and primarily for the same reasons that Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing; shown winning the 2007 CSC Invitational) and former US Cycling President, Mike Fraysse, stated in a 2005 interview (excerpt below) with the LA Times, J. Michael Kennedy. To my recollection, Bahati is the only African-American currently in the professional peloton.

"It's the money, and we're not exposed to it," he [Bahati] said. "If it were a household sport, it would be different."

"It's hugely expensive," he said. "If you join a basketball league in the inner city, you pay $50 and you might even get shoes."

Mike Fraysse, past president of the U.S. Cycling Federation, said there is a large number of black cyclists but that most of them come from countries where the sport is more popular.

"But if you go to the weekend races in [New York's] Central Park, maybe 20% of the riders will be black," he said. "That's because there's lots of immigrants."
Photo: Steve Klein

'You Can't Control Everybody'

Here's a scary thought, not that it's a new one.
Ray Godkin, vice president of the International Cycling Union, says drug use in the the sport isn't going to disappear.
"We like to think we're getting ahead of this. It costs a fortune every year," said Godkin in Adelaide, where the Tour Down Under has begun. "I think it's a real shame that we've got this attached to the sport and I'm the first one to say we'll never stamp it out completely because how can you? You can't control everybody but we're certainly headed in the right direction."
Time will tell about that.

Don't miss this story and interview:
Neal Rogers of the VeloNews: Landis lashes out

ALSO (it's fun to read the Aussie media):
-- FoxSports.au: Gerrans has desire to relive glory
-- The Age.au: City going crazy about 'the race'
-- The Australian.au: Gerrans fired by legend next door
-- CyclingWeekly.uk: French TV signs crucial new deal with Tour

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tour Down Under is Rolling

The Tour Down Under is underway, although AdelaideNow puts it this way:

ADELAIDE'S annual party season kicked off with the first race of the Tour Down Under last night, beginning a frenetic two months of major events.

The Down Under Classic drew a crowd of 75,000, with thousands cramming vantage points at the Bay for the 25-lap curtain-raiser to tomorrow's historic Stage One of the first ProTour event outside Europe.

Germany's Andre Greipel (pictured) from Team High Road won the opening-day event, outsprinting Australians Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), who finished second and third over 25 laps on a 2km circuit.
You can read more on the Tour Down Under site.

ALSO:
-- The Age.au:
German wins Down Under cycling race
-- BikeRadar: New UK Cycling Maps and Guides released
-- BikeRadar: Floyd Landis to race US Mountain Bike series

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lance for Vice President?

Today's news is definitely NOT about the bike.
It is about the new sports: politics.
From this morning's Washington Post: "Earlier in the day, [New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg appeared at an Austin hospital to talk health care with Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion cyclist. Armstrong is an emerging political power in Texas, and any hint that he's supporting Bloomberg would lend credence to the mayor's prospective campaign and signature-gathering efforts."
In a story in the Dallas Morning News, Bloomberg called for a new national push to prevent and cure cancer.
Right up Our Boy Lance's ally.

"In my opinion, whoever wants to be president of the United States of America ought to address the number one killer in this country," Armstrong said at a news conference at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.

Remember Lance's attempted Democratic and Republican presidential candidate debates on health care and cancer funding? Dennis Kucinich showed up (Mike Huckabee, too, as I remember), but the major candidates were somewhat lukewarm about participating.
As we cycling fans all know, Lance NEVER forgets.

"I'm sure there's a lot of questions about whether he's in or not in, but at the end of the day, he's representing an independent agenda and the best interests of the people," Armstrong said.
The mayor then reciprocated. "This state could do a lot worse," Bloomberg said. "He's exactly the kind of person that we need."
Stay tuned. This one could get interesting.

ALSO:
-- Austin Statesman:
Armstrong, Bloomberg Join Forces in cancer fight
-- Reuters: Crow takes Detours on road to renewal
-- TheAge.au: Sponsors vie for Aussie cycling team
-- HeraldSun.au: Simon Gerrans is the man to beat at Tour Down Under
-- VeloNews: Thunder Down Under as Pro Tour debuts outside Europe
-- Official site for The Tour Down Under
-- Official site for Amgen Tour of California
--
Official site for Tour of Georgia
--
Official site for the Tour de France


Friday, January 18, 2008

Batting 1.000

Oh my gosh!
I am writing the 1,000th post on Triple Crankset!
Whoda thunk it almost two years ago when Granny, Tooth and I started a blog to basically blog about what we wanted to talk about in the cycling world.
And we've made SO many friends along the way, not the least of which has been Sean Weide, who has contributed SO much to the blog.
I have always marveled at Granny's depth of knowledge and Tooth's pure love of cycling. And they're pretty good guys, too!
Granny has been the real driving force of the blog, from localizing the content to redesigning our template over the past month or so.
Heck -- we even have T-shirts and mugs!
But enough self-congratulations (there will be cake somewhere, sometime!).

Speaking of congratulations, take a look at the beta site for the redesign of VeloNews online. Much much cleaner. Granny recently has pointed me to BikeRadar. And we all are anxiously awaiting a redesign of Cyclingnews (you ARE planning a redesign, I hope!).

ALSO:
-- Guardian: Green jersey winner Boonen to skip Olympics
-- MyFox Austin: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Meets with Lance Armstrong in Austin

The New Black...

The teams for the 2008 Amgen Tour of California were announced yesterday. Of the 17 teams participating in the 8 day race that runs from February 17-24th, 9 are Pro Tour teams, while the other 8 are well known domestic teams.

The race will be our first look at the newly sponsored High Road Sports, formerly T-Mobile, and Bissell Pro Cycling, formerly Priority Health (both of the latter being based in Grand Rapids, MI). In addition, Scott takes over for Swiss pen manufacturer, Prodir, as a primary sponsor for Saunier Duval.

Several teams will also be sporting a new look this year as Quick-Step-Innergetic, CSC, BMC, and Jelly Belly have chosen white as their predominant color for their 2008 kits.


Teams for the 2008 TOC: Astana, Bissell Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing Team, Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Health Net Presented by Maxxis, High Road Sports, Jelly Belly Cycling Team, Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast, Quick Step, Rabobank Cycling Team, Rock Racing, Saunier Duval-Scott, Team CSC, and Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle, Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team.

Photo: Tim de Waele

Utah on Our Minds

Who knew the “Beehive State” would be dominating the cycling headlines today?

Bikes for Kids Utah Announces New Dates for Bike Giveaway and Fundraising Rides

SALT LAKE CITY - January 18, 2008 - Bikes for Kids Utah, a non-profit 501(C)3 organization, today announced its bike giveaway and fundraising bike rides will take place May 31.

Previously, the Bikes for Kids Utah dinner/silent auction, 5K, 50K and 100K fundraising bicycle rides, bike giveaway and the Dave Zabriskie Yield to Life Time Trial were held all in one weekend. The May 31 date was chosen to give the bike recipients time to ride their new bikes during the summer months following the giveaway, as well to guarantee as warmer weather for the fundraising bike rides.

"We have had two extremely successful events and each year we learn something new about making the next event better than the last." said Debbie Reid, founder and director of Bikes for Kids Utah. "It didn't seem right to give a child a brand new bike in the fall when he or she may only have a few weeks left to enjoy it. The new dates give these kids at least 3-4 warm months to really get a feel for and enjoy their bikes."

This event marks the third year Bikes for Kids Utah will give 1,000 new bicycles to pre-qualified, underprivileged students from Salt Lake Valley elementary schools. Along with the 1,000 bicycles, the children of first grade age will also receive helmets, t-shirts and bike locks through proceeds accrued from sponsorships, donations and the 5K, 50K or 100K fundraising bicycle rides.

With the new date, unfortunately Dave Zabriskie, Salt Lake City native and the third American ever to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, won't be able to attend this year's event due to his busy race schedule.

For members of the community who are interested in participating in the Bikes for Kids 5K, 50K or 100K fundraising rides, they will take place on the same day as the bike giveaway, May 31.

For those interested in donating time as a volunteer or for more information regarding the events, please visit www.bikesforkidsutah.org or call 801-523-3730.

Tour of Utah

Last year the inaugural Tour of Utah was postponed due to financial considerations, now the promoters are calling for men's professional and category one team applications. More than 120 cyclists are due to compete in the 2008 edition of the race from August 13 to 17.

To register, www.tourofutah.com/register

Interbike in Utah?

Interbike to Host Breakfast Presentation at the 2008 Bicycle Leadership Conference, Jan. 18-20 in San Diego

With the Sands Convention Center exhibiting contract up for renewal after the 2009 show, Lance Camisasca to share and discuss pros and cons of current and potential venue host cities

From SOAR Communications:
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - January 17, 2007 - As a part of the 11th Annual Bicycle Leadership Conference, Interbike will host a 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. breakfast presentation followed by an open microphone question and answer session on Saturday, January 19 at the Holiday Inn on the Bay in San Diego, California.

Interbike's long-term contract with the Sands Convention Center runs through the 2009 show and Interbike is considering whether to renew the contract or move the show to another location. During Saturday's BLC presentation, Interbike industry consultant Lance Camisasca will discuss alternative locations for the show and the pros and cons of each prospective location.

"At last year's BLC roundtable we shared the results of our post show survey which covered show performance and Salt Lake City specifically as an alternative venue." Camisasca said. "With the recent redevelopment of the Anaheim area and its newly renovated Anaheim Convention Center, as well as evolving trade show opportunities in the Denver area, we are now considering those locations as possible venues."

Attending manufacturers and presentation attendees are encouraged to attend the breakfast and participate in the open microphone question and answer session directly following the Interbike presentation.

"We want to be prepared to provide the best shows possible." Camisasca said. "At last year's conference, we gained valuable insight from the manufacturers and retailers who attended and I think that everyone left with a better understanding of the multiple factors we consider when entertaining the idea of possibly moving a major show. We hope this year will be equally beneficial as we discuss our recommendations for the show in the coming years."

The Bicycle Leadership Conference is presented by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) and runs January 18-20, 2008. The event focuses on the facts and figures of the bicycle industry while building on the important networking opportunities and exciting special events.

For more information about Interbike, please visit www.interbike.com. For more information about eleventh annual Bicycle Leadership Conference please visit www.bicycleconference.org.

People or Places
Interbike has its history is rooted in Las Vegas, where the show was first held in 1982. Although the trade show has visited other locales [Reno, Anaheim, and Philly before returning to Vegas in the mid-90s], perhaps no other city complements the spectacle that is Interbike better than Sin City.

But, I have always held on to the contention that it’s the people that make the place and not vice versa. Circuses, even ones as big as Interbike, have been known to travel. No matter what the venue, retailers and exhibitors will still attend, spokesmodels will still be scantily clothed, and cyclo-philes of all types will still make the pilgrimage.

Will it still be as fun? That depends on whether you believe the cycling community is full of fun and engaging people, and if your idea of fun needs to be tied to a specific place.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ey, We've Got a Blogger Down

We were one of the many unfortunate blogs hit when Blogger went down this evening. To Blogger/Google's credit, they were very responsive to the issue as the outage occurred during peak blogging/reading hours.

They have since fixed the issue, but our newly designed template took a beating, as did many others who had a customized template ... interesting?

Since we have been working [fighting] through HTML and CSS issues in regard to IE compatibility, we've decided to leave the template somewhat bare until all issues have been resolved.

Below is a browser update:
  • Safari - Template looks as it was created
  • Firefox - Banner image is missing
  • IE - Well, we won't go there...
Please bear with us during this process.

Getting Down Under

So, are we excited about the Tour Down Under, which gets the professional road season off and spinning Jan. 20-27 in South Australia?

There will be 133 riders, 21 more than in 2007; 29 of the 133 riders started the 2007 Tour de France.

Among the teams participating: Silence Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, High Road, CSC, Caisse D'Epargne and America's favorite Kazakh team, Astana.

Wondering where to find information on Team Astana? You have to go to Johan Bruyneel's website for the time being.

There are 22 nationalities participating. The 2008 Tour Down Under will be the first ever ProTour race to be staged outside of Europe.

It's a little late to plan a trip to Adelaide for a little cycling along with the TdU, but our friends at Trek Travel can take you there next year. Trek Travel is the official travel partner -- surprise surprise -- of Team Astana, and you can even ride a Madone like Alberto and Levi. Trek Travel puts out a pretty nice Trip Planner you can order through the mail. My picture appeared in the 2004 planner with Kevin Livingston, who the Crankset got to ride with in 03.
Anything else we can do for you, friends at Trek Travel?

Other little tidbits:
-- VeloNews:
Landis appeal set for March
-- Boston Herald: Lance Armstrong to Run Boston Marathon
-- San Luis Obispo: Top cycling teams to compete in Amgen Tour of California
-- ESPN: Can An American Team That Aims to Compete Clean Help Put Cycling on the Right Road?
Austin Statesman: Upscale housing planned for former Armstrong property

TRIPLE Exclusive - An Interview with Liz Hatch


“Off the front” is a term we use in cycling for someone who goes in a break, either with a group or solo. For some, the term not only describes a tactical strategy but also a riding style. While for others, it expresses a personality. In French, these types of riders are referred to as “baroudeur-rouleur,” literally a “fighter” who goes over rolling terrain well, or more descriptively, a rider who is brave enough to go on a suicidal solo effort. Enter Elizabeth Hatch.

The 27 year old who rides for Team Vanderkitten has been “off the front” in the two years she has been in the women’s professional peloton, and on the internet where she formerly went by the username “Roubaix Girl.”

It would be a mistake; however, to simply label her for what you see on race day or on the internet. Liz, while strikingly beautiful, is as multi-dimensional and dichotomous a personality as I have gotten to know. She is considered "green" in the world of professional cycling, but has enough experience and talent to win the races that she enters; she transmits a "rock star" persona, but is amazingly approachable and down to earth; she is graceful on the bike, but at times trips over air off of it; she is tough and gritty when diving for a line, but vulnerable enough to emote when seeing her father after a rough race. At times, it’s as if Liz challenges your perceptions of her.

In this interview with Vanderkitten Liz Hatch, we discuss her beginnings, Europe, feeling “sexy,” and where she would take women’s cycling.

Granny’s 30 (G): In your interview with Brett of The Sporting Life, you stated that your 24th birthday was a seminal point in your cycling career. What was your motivation for getting up off that couch to cycle, let alone race, as many cycling fans cycle but don't necessarily race?

Liz Hatch (LH): 2004 was a turning point in my personal life. I had the feeling that I was standing on the edge of a cliff, the point of no return. Looking back I can see that buying my first bike was manifestation of the realization of this; taking a step in the direction of freedom, taking control of my own life. I certainly had no inkling then that it would take me this far in such a short time however...

The racing came after a year and half of crazy group rides in South Florida. Anyone who's done rides down there can probably relate. There are no hills to separate “the men from the boys" so almost every ride turns into a full out "speed fest". I just got the urge to go farther with it, to see how I compared to girls out there racing already.

G: You've raced in Belgium and in the United States, could you compare the racing done in Europe as compared to the States...the fans? Which do you prefer? Do you think you'll go back and race in Europe?

LH: The racing here is certainly tough, crits are really hard in the sense that you have to be smart and know when to take your chance and when to be patient. There are a couple really strong teams right now that control the race for their sprinters who can sit back and pounce when the time is right.

Racing in Belgium was different for the most part because they don't really do crits. I did a few of the "after Tour" crits but the majority of races I did were circuit or road races over 2 to 3 hours. You get more of a chance to stretch your legs. Also there were generally more girls racing. The breaks there stick; it's not like here where a break normally comes back. It's very windy there and the roads aren't always "ideal" so sometimes you'll end up with a few groups all fighting it out. The fans there have such a passion for the sport. They don't mind the road closures and the rain doesn't stop them from standing on the side of the road for hours either. It was cool to meet such nice people there that come to all the races and follow your progress throughout the season. I showered in more strangers’ homes after races than I care to remember! Belgian people are very hospitable.

I very much enjoyed my time in Europe, and while I have grown to love the racing here in the States over the past year, my heart is in Europe. The history of cycling there moves me greatly. I hope to be a part of making Vanderkitten a UCI team at some point in the very near future so that we can do a European program. Our director, Scott Gross, backs my feelings on this 100%. In fact, he canceled his yearly pilgrimage to Belgium for the Classics to be at Sea Otter with us.

G: I found it interesting that your first two real cycling experiences were in Florida, where if you're not heading into a head wind you're certainly getting hit by a cross wind, and in Belgium, another wind swept area. Do you feel that made you tougher as a cyclist...and how has the move to an area where cyclists abound helped your development?

LH: Being in Florida and Belgium gave me speed on the flats for sure. The wind there can get downright ridiculous but I've really grown to "enjoy" it. I feel at home in windy conditions, it forces you to be mentally strong which comes in handy in many aspects of life. This past year out in California has added depth to my ability, I've become a much better climber but I have a ways to go to be the best I can be at it. I'll never be 115lbs, let alone a Buck Five, like so many of these girls that are in many ways my role models. I have to work with the body type that I have, which is,luckily for me, built for races that I have a passion for.

G: One-day Classics or Grand Tours?

LH: Ha. Need I say it? Classics.

G: Crits or Road Races?

LH: Both. I want to win both. I want to win everything I enter.

G: You've stated that you'd like to win The Ronde someday, what about Worlds?

LH: I think every racing cyclist has, on a quiet back road with no one around, pretended to raise his or her arms envisioning themselves crossing the line first and pulling that gorgeous jersey on... Yes, I've done it too. :) Visualizing that sort of thing is what I translate into the motivation to make it happen in real life.

G: What's the best moment you've had on a bike…the worst?

LH: Best- The Col d'Agnel in France, it's like being in heaven at the top.

Worst- Bonking so bad on the Izoard that I began losing peripheral vision. Or maybe that digger I took in April on my face... Both are cool memories now though.

G: What is one thing that most people don't know about you?

LH: I still sleep with my baby blanket... Jesus, I used to own over 200 tubes of lipstick... I had to part with some of them, too much to carry around.

G: 200 tubes of lipstick? Are we talking every Juicy Tube flavor? And did you carry them all at one time? What did your bag...er, backpack look like?

LH: I had a huge hard sided luggage that had all of my lipstick in it. I have a huge weakness for MAC cosmetics. I race in makeup. Maybe I'll grow up one day and stop being so vain but till then...

G: Racing as a one-woman team last year, was there any race where you wished you had some teammates around you? Do you think you learned more by going it alone?

LH: All of them! The reason women like Van Gilder, Vos, or Nicole Cooke are able to win so much is because of their team! I'm sure they would tell you the same. You are at a huge disadvantage without teammates. On the other side of the coin it forced me to be proactive. I'm not the sort of racer to sit in and go along for the ride. Racing on my own gave me a lot of freedom to make my own moves. I would always think "WWLD", What Would Ludo Do? Haha, maybe that's odd but I totally dig Ludo Dierckxsens style of racing. Or Jacky Durand. They had cajones! They were interesting to watch, they involved you; you were forced to sit in front of your TV to see if they would make it to the end. Guys like that always made me FEEL the race. Like them, I want to take a race in my teeth and shake it by the neck!

G: If guys like Ludo and Jacky make you FEEL the race...what do you FEEL when you're racing?

LH: I feel so alive that I'm almost close to death. It's the best high I've ever had, I feel invincible and vulnerable all at once. I know that I could race "safer" and sit in more but I don't know that I'd get the satisfaction from that style of racing. I enjoy the risk. It's a "sexy" feeling. Ha, really...It’s a weird thing to say, but true. All that adrenaline and the goose bumps... It's like the best kiss ever! Makes me want to scream like a banshee (if I weren't so out of breath)! I cannot explain it better than that.

G: What are your personal expectations for the upcoming 2008 season? Which races are you targeting? What are your expectations for the team?

LH: I'm not going to be shy and say I just want to have fun and enjoy myself. No, I want to win. I want Vanderkitten to win. I will work my ass off for this team and these girls. We really are a different sort of team, in my opinion, just based on how we came to be. I'm so close to Mark, Dave and Jennie, they have done so much for me that I will put myself in my grave for the team if that's what it takes. We have some really talented girls this year that are going to teach me so much. Watch out for us! I'm tellin' ya! So far, Vanderkitten has been really lucky to meet like minded people out there, such as yourself, who are behind us. I want them to be proud of their involvement with us.

G: Are you really as clumsy as you say? Don't answer that, my shoulder is still broken isn't it? [laugh]

LH: I really am. I hide it well though. And again, I'M SOOOO SORRY!!! :)

G: I just recently watched the Morgan Freeman movie, "10 Items or Less." So Liz, 10 items or less, things that you can't live without ("keepers")?

LH:
  • Westmalle Trippel
  • Chapstick
  • Nutella
  • Electricity
  • Toilet paper
  • My blanket
  • Bike
  • My Robert Redford T-shirt
  • A kazoo (love those things)
  • And baked beans with weenies
G: Did you ever think of reaching out to the monks and ask Westmalle for sponsorship as you've probably subsidized their business over the years?

LH: Oh man, that would probably be the end of my racing career...

G: What would you say to the statement, "Pain is Temporary, Quitting is Forever." Have you ever quit?

LH: I have quit. It's the reason I know how much I hate the feeling of losing or giving less than my best. Quitting and losing teach you far greater lessons than winning.

G: What is appealing about women's cycling, objectively? What is appealing about women's cycling relative to men's cycling? Why do you think men's cycling still takes center stage over women's? What do you think should change in women's cycling to get people more interested and excited about it?

LH: My feelings on this subject run deep. Women's cycling is stuck in a vicious circle of poor promotion which causes a lack of interest. Cycling is at its most basic, entertainment.

In order to draw people in, to make them care, to make them to pay attention, they must have a connection to the athletes. They have to feel compelled to watch. With men's racing we learn so much about the individual cyclists, their personalities shine through, you get to know them and feel a connection. Ask yourself why you are a fan of one particular cyclist over another and normally it's because something about their persona interests you and excites you. The women I race with/against and admire are just as vibrant and interesting but we're always treated as a footnote and no one remembers the footnote. It's a shame because there is some really good clean fun going on and it's being missed out on. Vanderkitten aims to change that.

G: What do you have to say to people who think you're all "flash" and no substance?

LH: You know, I can't really answer for other people, nor will I try. You can't please everyone. As long as I have the respect and love of the people who've helped me live my dream it's something I just have to ignore.

I admit that I can be a little "over the top" and I have a bit of a mouth sometimes but that's just me, on the bike or off. Why should I change who I am?

G: Have you ever raced on the pines? What do you think about the whole fixie craze?

LH: I haven't yet but Vanderkitten will be working on a women's pursuit team which I will be a part of. I'm really looking forward to it. I admire the grace, skill, and power it takes to be a good track racer.

G: A recent Bicycling article spoke about traffic laws and specifically focused on the Bay area and the risk cyclists take and the repercussions [or lack thereof] that motorists face when riding around. What are your thoughts about the issue? What would you offer up as a solution(s)? What have been your experiences in and around the Bay area?

LH: The short answer? Bikes are the past, present and future. Americans need to wake up and smell the Ozone! Coming from South Florida, I can tell you that we are very fortunate here in NorCal to live in such a cycling friendly area, but it can always be improved. Again, look at countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. Bike highways abound!

G: Your Pops shared with me that story [that you brought up in your interview on The Sporting Life] about you sneaking out on his Gitane, or as I recollect he told me it was a Peugeot. Anyway, was that necessarily because of the freedom cycling afforded you or partly because you wanted to be like your Pops?


LH: Peugeot, man, I knew I was wrong... should have called dear old dad. My bike is still my freedom. It's been the catalyst for many life changing events and I'm sure it will continue to be for the rest of my life. I just can't wait to see where it will take me!

[ASIDE: It being every parent's right to embarass their children, Mr. Hatch shared this anecdote of Liz's first official ride on a bike]
At around 5 years old while living on a cul de sac in suburban Austin she announced that she was going to ride a 2 wheeler without aid of training wheels. I don't recall ever having put them on anyway. Her Mom asked if she needed any help to which she replied she didn't, " I know how to do it". Well, she did ride it, and fast. However, as the pavement ended and she didn't know how to steer or stop, she went through a hedge and into the neighbors garage door. So ended her first solo ride. Maybe that was a precursor to her friend Vinnie calling her " Crash "
G: This year you really discovered a talent for the sprints...did you consider yourself to be a sprinter beforehand? What type of sprint suits you best, large field sprint...two or three up...catching some wheels from another team's leadout...or leading it all out to see if someone can come around you?

LH: Before this year I never really considered myself anything but pretty strong and really stubborn on a bike. My abilities continue to grow and now that I have a great coach, I feel like I keep finding new gears! It's really amazing how cycling is such a "layered sport" as my teammate Leigh tells me.

As far as what kind of sprint suits me best, I'm going to be cagey and say they all do! Can't give too much away, yeah? I don't have a preference, I like to go fast!

G: What are your strengths...areas you might need to work on, on the bike...racing?

LH: Strengths - Obviously sprinting, but I'm finding that I may be more of an all-rounder than I previously thought. People tell me to stop saying I'm not a climber because I'm really not bad at it. It's all still to be determined, I'd rather not put labels and limit myself, ya know?

Race tactics are things I'm still learning. Patience. I've never been on a team so next year will offer a huge amount of opportunities to learn the art of racing a bike.

Photos: Kurt Harvey (top); Leonard Basobas (bottom)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wheat Ridge Cyclery Pro Night

Over the past year we have been fortunate to connect with many new people, and even have a few contribute to the Triple Crankset. But, its always nice to have an old friend drop by and lend a hand.

Dan McCormack was by our sides as we traversed over the Pyrenees and rode into Paris in 2003. Over the weekend, Dan attended Pro Night at Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and provided us with a recap of the evening.

January 12, 2008 - Denver CO
- When I moved to Denver last summer I immediately checked out all the bike shops, as I always prefer to use & support a local shop (instead of the web). I visited a few that were ok , but they didn't really have the relaxed atmosphere I'd enjoyed in Austin, TX ... until I walked into Wheat Ridge Cyclery!

WRC is the best shop in the Denver area, started by Eugene Kiefel (Ron's dad) back in the early 1970s with very little knowledge of cycling (a better choice than a go-kart shop or Dairy Queen though!!). Ron and his two sisters worked the tiny shop with Dad for years and that's what led Ron into cycling. Fans like me who began following cycling in the 1980s with Greg Lemond, remember Ron as one of the early Americans in Europe riding for the 7-Eleven team (7 TdFs, Giro stage winner, and Bronze medalist in '84 Olympics).

The WRC shop has grown incredibly over the years and now hosts and annual Pro Night fund raiser for cycling initiatives. The event was very relaxed with free pizza (I swear they had 80 large pies!!), beer, wine & soft drinks. Many vendors were there including Trek which had the latest version of the 2008 Astana team bike (it's HOT! Update: Initially Dan wasn't able to supply us with a photo of the team bike. But after Dan sent this post to the WRC, Matt Boyer sent him the photo below, and a complimentary WRC t-shirt for his great write-up.)


The evening was kicked off by Ron, Eugene and the Kiefel family and then hosted by Michael Aisner (Coors Classic director) & Bob Roll (with full beard) - and included a bunch of cycling stars talking about current projects and telling some great stories.

A few brief reflections & highlights:
  • Tommy Danielson is an absolutely great guy (really down to earth), but he looked more like a casual skateboarder than a top of world road cyclists!
  • Nelson Vails in contrast, still looks like a cycling machine with huge powerful muscles (a track guy for sure)
  • Alison Dunlap was a real sweetie and we visited briefly before the event while just milling around
  • Ned Overend is freak of nature - the guy is my age (52) and still totally fit and competing when he wants (2nd in 2006 Washington Hill & Mt Evans Hill Climbs!)
  • Steve Johnson (CEO USA Cycling) gave a great presentation on the upcoming China '08 Olympics in which they had to build a mt bike course (we'll see?) ... but the road course should be very challenging with a circuit in the mts/hills north of Beijing


The highlight of the night though was Tom Ritchey and Jock Boyer talking about Project Rwanda. A friend of these cycling legends talked them into visiting Rwanda a few years ago and it seems to have changed both of their lives. They marveled at the beauty of the country and people (apparently the Hotel Rwanda movie doesn't do the country justice). More importantly, they got connected with people there related to transporting items (like water, coffee crop, etc.) long distances on home-made wooden bikes (because other bikes aren't strong enough).

The Mission Statement from the web site says it very well:

Mission Statement: Project Rwanda is committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely.

http://www.projectrwanda.org/

And now the exciting ending to this post ... I was feeling really lucky all night about my raffle ticket, but didn't win anything until the last item - new Specialized Tarmac Road bike - and they started to call the numbers 749 (yes) 006 ... and I had 007! (but I just got my Lemond Maillot Jaune fully tuned so I'm ready for another great season) ... Ride On!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A New Look


Its not uncommon for a new year to usher in a new look, but 2008 is shaping up to be a complete makeover for cycling. Gone are a bevy of names that have become synonymous with the sport, both individuals and sponsors, but as in life cycling continues to roll along. New teams and riders will rise up to be embraced by a new generation of fans, and by more intelligent [and skeptical] established ones as well.

Bill Stapleton's Team High Road Sports, the former T-Mobile, unveiled their new look and claimed their first victory of the year with Roger Hammond's win at the British Cyclocross Nationals (January 5-6th).

In regard to our new look, it was a bit delayed due to server issues. The look is also a complete departure from templates used previously, and as such there are some bugs and kinks to be worked out. It was created and vetted using both Mozilla Firefox [available for Windows] and Apple's Safari web browsers. If you use either, then you have seen the mostly complete makeover. For those using Internet Explorer, you're more likely to think that we've just gotten into web design, as the site doesn't look remotely as it was intended.

Regardless, we hope you enjoy the new look and the new features.

Photo: Chris Lees (with written permission)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interbike Lite

One of the great things about Interbike has to be making the trip out to Las Vegas. But if you are one who is not too keen on the Vegas nightlife or is unconcerned about all the glitz and glam, then the following Interbike news from our friends at SOAR Communications is bound to make your day.

Interbike to Host Inaugural Outdoor Demo East

Interbike Outdoor Demo East to include product demos, NBDA seminars and industry networking, October 21 & 22, 2008 in Providence, Rhode Island

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - Jan. 10, 2007- In an effort to better support retailers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, Interbike announced it will host its first annual Interbike Outdoor Demo East Tuesday, October 21 to Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Roger Williams Park in Providence, R.I.

The Interbike Outdoor Demo East event is based on the Interbike Outdoor Demo held in conjunction with the Interbike International Bicycle Expo in Las Vegas and will include product testing, National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) seminars and networking events. The new event is aimed at servicing retailers who do not attend and/or additional staff members who are not able to participate in the Interbike International Expo and Outdoor Demo.

"We recognize there are members of the industry that have difficulties attending the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas," said Lance Camisasca, Interbike's industry consultant. "Interbike Outdoor Demo East is a hands-on, no-hassle, inexpensive regional style event that allows retailers to not only test new products but also educate staff members on the latest trends and network with industry members in a historic and event friendly location."

Manufacturers who have already committed to exhibit at the event include Advanced Sports (Fuji, SE Racing, Kestrel), Fox Racing Shox, Giant Bicycles, Kenda USA, Pacific Cycle (GT, Schwinn, Mongoose), Pedro's Total Bicycle Care and Santa Cruz Bicycles, with more expected to follow in the coming weeks.

"Interbike always produces a great trade event," said Pat Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports "We're confident OutDoor Demo East will be a great event as well and we are looking forward to giving our East Coast retailers another opportunity to learn about and test ride our products."

"The genesis of an opportunity to reach out to the other half of cycling is perfect," said Chris Zigmont, general manager of Pedro's Total Bicycle Care. "We will now be able to meet with the guys and gals who work the shop floor and who can't attend Interbike's Las Vegas trade show because of time and money constraints."

The OutDoor Demo East is not intended to replace Interbike's September trade event, but will include additional events to benefit retailers unable to attend the Las Vegas show. For example, the partnership with the NBDA will bring its popular Super Seminars to the event.

"We've had great feedback on our Super Seminars around the country and attendance has exceeded expectations," said Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association. "By partnering with Interbike at Outdoor Demo East, we feel we'll be able to offer high quality sessions in a convenient setting that will allow us to reach an even larger audience in a region that deserves the support."

Roger Williams Park is located just south of downtown Providence and has been the host city for the 2006 and 2007 National Cyclocross Championships. In addition to being a great place for cycling, Providence is a central location for Northeast and Mid Atlantic retails and is easily accessible by most forms of transportation.

Post Interbike/Outdoor Demo East Coast Retailer Survey
While developing the outline for Interbike Outdoor Demo East event, much of the planning was guided by responses to a post Interbike/Outdoor Demo survey Interbike distributed to retailers in the North East and Mid Atlantic regions (Two areas that typically have the weakest representation at the Interbike Expo). The more than 300 survey participants were primarily owners and managers of retail shops.

Key findings from the survey include:
  • Retailer responses showed a majority support for a regional, demo style, east coast event
  • More than 65 percent of retailers indicated they would bring three or more employees
  • Respondents ranked industry networking, manufacturer/distributor new sales programs and product testing as their most important trade show activities
  • More than 85 participants indicated they would drive to the event 45 percent of retailers marked that they would bring employees to Interbike Outdoor Demo East that would not normally attend the Interbike Expo and Outdoor Demo in Las Vegas
As part of the survey, Interbike posed several questions about hosting a consumer day on the last day of the industry demo event. While there was some support from the industry for a consumer day, there was not a clear consensus on the issue. As a result, OutDoor Demo East will focus on best serving the needs of the industry in its inaugural year.

For questions about exhibiting at OutDoor Demo East, please email Interbike Sales Manager, Andria Klinger at andria.klinger@nielsen.com. Retailer attendees, please stay tuned for more information.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

They Call Him Andre the Giant

I haven't paid much attention to the Tour Down Under this week, and now it's over. The lack of any Versus coverage until the Amgen Tour of California doesn't help.
With the first week of the new semester (I teach journalism at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.), I've been busy with that.
Heck, I've paid more attention to the tennis down under -- the Australian Open in Melbourne, won by Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic (to the dismay or Roger Federer fans).

Germany's Andre Greipel won his fourth stage out of six on Sunday to secure the title by 15 seconds over Australian Allan Davis, according to a BBC story. Greipel led by four seconds going into the 88km final stage around Adelaide, but Davis won the first sprint to reduce the margin to one second. However, Team High Road's Greipel pulled away to win the first race outside of Europe to be granted ProTour status.

ALSO:
-- HeraldSun.au:
Andre Greipel sprints to Tour Down Under glory
-- AP: Lance Armstrong cleans up clouded swimming hole
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Slipstream bolsters Tour bid with runner-up finish in Qatar kickoff
-- BikeRadar.com: Credit Agricole ending 10-year run
-- The Age.au: Cyclist Boonen cleared in drugs probe
-- Daily Peleton: Team CSC review
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Press reports hint Tour may snub Astana
-- Bicycling: Phinney finishes first, Cipo in with Rock
-- Cycling Weekly: Millar confirms Giro debut


Friday, January 25, 2008

We're Going to Disneyland


Anaheim seems to be the prevailing sentiment as to which city may end up hosting Interbike in the not too distant [and temporary] future.

Interbike Breakfast Presentation at the 2008 Bicycle Leadership Conference Provides New Research Results on Potential Host Cites for Interbike 2010

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - January 24, 2008 - As a part of the eleventh annual Bicycle Leadership Conference (BLC), Interbike hosted a breakfast presentation on Saturday, January 19 at the Holiday on the Bay in San Diego, California. During the presentation, Interbike Industry Consultant Lance Camisasca reviewed Interbike's host city requirements, gave an update to the Sands Convention Center situation and shared new options for future event locations.

"This year's BLC was an ideal place to continue our discussions about potential host cities for the Interbike show," Camisasca said. "The audience included some of the bike industry's best leaders and for them to show up ready to go as they did at 7:30 a.m. was impressive."

During Interbike's breakfast presentation, Camisasca reviewed with BLC attendees key market criteria it considers when selecting a show venue. Interbike's top venue requirements include:
  • Contiguous exhibit space of at least 700,000 gross square-feet and ample meeting room space,
  • An event location where retailer and manufacturer attendance can be maximized,
  • A large and diverse selection of hotels, restaurants and entertainment options conveniently located to the events,
  • An international airport located within close proximity to the event with many flight options, numerous carriers and low airfare rates,
  • Relaxed labor union regulations and high quality services,
  • An OutDoor Demo site with great weather, extensive cross country/downhill trails and a closed road loop, and
  • An event market that is recognized as a cycling culture destination.
Camisasca explained during the breakfast presentation that Interbike's long-term contract with the Sands Convention Center runs through the 2009 show, and Interbike is considering whether to renew the contract or move the show to another location.

Denver and Anaheim are two cities that come closest to meeting all the requirements to host Interbike. Both cities have the contiguous space needed, would provide a diverse selection of restaurants, hotels and entertainment options, are located in areas that would maximize attendance and are recognized as cycling culture destinations.

Comments during the question and answer portion of the presentation showed support for a move, but no clear consensus on either city.

"Denver is a much more bicycle-friendly city than Las Vegas, Salt Lake City or Anaheim, and the Outdoor Demo options near Denver are excellent," said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of the Bikes Belong Coalition. "From a Denver standpoint, however, I'm concerned about the hotels and transportation as Denver has not handled a show of Interbike's size before. So at this point I would say yes to Anaheim for the next three or four years, with a plan to move to Denver after that."

"I have to admit a personal bias that the Anaheim shows of previous years were not all that great," said Tim Jackson, brand manager for Masi Bikes. "But given the needs of the show and the industry, Anaheim is looking a lot better. With a newly remodeled and really gorgeous convention center and an eagerness from the city to lure the industry back, Anaheim is rapidly becoming a contender for me. When you add in the already existing infrastructure - they're harder to beat all the time."

According to Camisasca, Interbike has not made a decision about moving the show, but a decision will need to be made by mid-2008. As part of its ongoing research, Interbike will continue to reach out to retailers, industry advocacy groups and other industry members before making a decision about a the future venue for the Interbike show.

"I was quite happy with the attendees' understanding of the situation," Camisasca concluded. "The feedback I received regarding the potential host cities and the very engaging question and answer period following the presentation exceeded my expectations. We have now completed the first of several rounds of research in order to make the best decision possible."

Those interested in receiving a copy of Interbike's BLC presentation, please contact Chip Smith at csmith@soarcomm.com or Maura Lansford at mlansford@soarcomm.com. The presentation will also be available on Interbike's Media Center download page at http://www.interbike.com/ib/press/downloads.jsp.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pedal Power

Delta 7 Sports Arantix Mountain Bike Provides "Bicycle Power" for Miōn Footwear's Human-Powered Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Booth

Show attendees invited to test ride the Arantix mountain bike by Delta 7 Sports while generating power for the 20'x20' booth

PAYSON, Utah - January 22, 2008 - Delta 7 Sports, LLC today announced its Arantix mountain bike will provide the pedal power for Miōn Footwear's human-powered booth at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008 taking place January 23-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Show attendees and members of the media are invited to test ride the Arantix mountain bike while creating a portion of the electricity needed for the eco-friendly booth.

"The Delta 7 Sports Arantix mountain bike will be connected to generators so that every pedaled rotation provides electricity for the Miōn Footwear booth." said Lester Muranaka, vice president of marketing for Delta 7 Sports. "Beyond supporting Miōn as they explore new ways to become better stewards of natural resources, this is a great opportunity for show attendees who haven't seen the Arantix bike up close or had a chance to be in the saddle of this high-end and limited production bike."

With the help of employees and attendees, the 20' x 20' Miōn Footwear booth (#32224) will need to generate more than 3,000 watts of electricity per day. In addition, anyone who rides the Arantix for a minimum of five minutes will be eligible for prizes including a kayak, roundtrip airline flights to anywhere in the continental U.S., helmet camera, bags and sunglasses, among others.

For more information about Delta 7 Sports and its involvement in the Miōn Footwear human-powered Outdoor Demo Winter Market booth, please contact Maura Lansford at mlansford@soarcomm.com or 801.523.3730.

TRIPLE Exclusive - An Interview with Michael Engleman

Most, if not all, not-for-profit organizations begin with a single individual’s passion for a specific issue or a cause. Such is the case with the US Women's Cycling Development Program and Michael Engleman.

A former elite runner and cyclist [riding for Coors and US Postal], Mr. Engleman founded the USWCDP with the simple belief that “an elite athlete should never be held back in their sport because they do not know the right people, they can’t afford to participate, or they cannot get a question answered.” As the organization’s Director, he has created a program whereby “promising elite women cyclists” have the “access to the most advanced technologies and training with guidance from experienced and dedicated professionals and premier women cyclist mentors.”

With a growing number of like minded individuals and sponsors, Mr. Engleman and the USWCDP “hope to propel the best U.S. cyclists to the very top in women’s cycling, create excitement and enthusiasm, and to firmly establish U.S. Women’s Cycling both in the field and with the public.”


In my conversation with Michael Engleman we discuss distance running, how he developed a passion for cycling and became a proponent for women’s cycling, and where he sees the USWCDP’s place in the sport.

Granny’s 30 (G): It states in your bio that you started out as a distance runner. What were your events…what were your aspirations [Worlds, Olympics]?

Michael Engleman (ME): I ran a 9:00 two mile, a 30:41 10K and a 2:20 something marathon so I was OK at most distances and not really good at anything. I had lived to run and I thought it was my purpose in life so I keep at it even when I started falling apart. I realized later that those times helped me define the difference between determination and stubbornness.

G: Who were your athletic, running, role models?

ME: I mostly looked up to Frank Shorter as did just about every distance runner in those days but I was a member of the Dallas Cross Country Club so I got to train with Jeff Wells and John Ludwig who were 2:10 and 2:12 marathoners and also pretty good guys. I remember being impressed that World Class athletes are really as normal as most people, that is OK to keep your powers to yourself if you chose, that the shrapnel of ego and determination only flew when its time to compete.

G: Your bio also states that you turned to the bicycle after a series of running injuries. Did you use the bicycle for cross training before the injuries, or were you like most distance runners focused on your miles, fartlek splits, etc.?

ME: I never did any cross training when I ran. I just ran tons of miles and got a little one dimensional. I did train hard and well but I think I might have gone further if I had mellowed a little, gone for a hike or rode a town bike around. All my training was very regimented and I think that has something with how I chose to coach now. Smell the roses sort of thing.

G: Have you ever read Parker's "Once a Runner"? If so, have you picked up a copy of "Again to Carthage" yet?

ME: Read it many times! Haven't gotten to the sequel yet.

G: As a distance runner did you like to sit-in or were you a front runner? Did you have a great finishing kick?

ME: I think I always tried to hang with runners who were better then me. Not much sprint left in the end.

G: When did you first realize you were a cyclists…what is it about the sport that you love?

ME: The sport really found me. After I stopped running I just missed having a goal so I got an old bike and started riding and it turned out I could ride with most anyone. My local bike shop talked me into racing and that was that with all the rest being old history. I found that I liked the "thinking" part of the sport, that good day or bad day you could try and find a way to make something of it.

G: You stated that you liked the thinking aspect of the sport. A lot has been made about the use of technology [radios, etc] in the way riders communicate to their directors these days, do you think it's beneficial or does it "dull" a racer's instincts?

ME: I think radios can be a good teaching tool but I prefer to use them as info mostly...who is in the break, the time gaps, things like that. I find that some people spend way to much time talking into them just to talk. The point is that the athletes learn to race, not wait to hear what to do. Really the best way to learn racing is to race with smart teammates! Not all tools have to be weapons where you just fire away constantly; mostly you just need a rack or a bucket so you can gather what you learn.

G: Coors Light, US Postal…what were some of your most memorable moments…favorite memories…career highlights [Downers Grove?]?

ME: Mt. Evans, Nevada City, Corestates, Downers Grove in the rain, Coors Classic, Davis Phinney, Dave Mann, Kristin Armstrong, Alison Dunlap, Mara Abbott getting second at the Montreal World Cup and then winning Nationals, helping to get a pro contract for Amy Dombroski (inset) and Kristin McGrath, having Rebecca Much come back into the sport. I really don't look back at my career much; I don't put much on what I did but rather what I learned. I think the one great gift of my athletic career is that it has lead me to this point where I get to see athletes work toward their own highlights. I think the line goes that while life is very short but it is also very wide, that the journey may be short but it is also vast so I feel that my most memorable moment is in front of me and I don't want to miss it because I'm looking backwards.

G: What do you think about that final turn at Downers, do you think the course should be changed, or keep with tradition?

ME: Well, its bike racing and you race the course they give you. I am against any course that is unsafe no matter the tradition but I'm not totally sure that Downers is unsafe. Really the depth of talent has increased so much that there are more great riders going for any corner on every course. As it’s been said, the answer is an acorn; the question is a giant oak.

G: Crits or Road Races?

ME: I hated flat four corner crits and I loved climbs. Basically I liked a race where some tactics could play into it.

G: When you were racing, did you pay attention to the women's races?

ME: One of my oldest friends is Ruthie Matthes and I saw all that she went through trying to make a living in cycling while also trying to be the type of athlete she was born to be. I think that made me notice more and I remember watching Dede Demet (Barry) and admiring the way she always gave EVERYTHING she had. We were all in the same sport and I took it serious and I never saw that the women did not do the same.

G: You were the Asst. Director with T-Mobile for two years…what is it about women's cycling that drew you to the sport?

ME: On T-Mobile I found incredible athletes who were also remarkable people. I got to work with and be around athletes such as Kristin Armstrong, Sarah Hammer, Dede Barry, Amber Neben, Kimberly Baldwin, Kim Anderson, Stacey Peters, Mari Holden and you could not help but be inspired by what the capabilities were. What really drew me in is that this is the story all across the sport! Look at what Christine Thorburn has accomplished while being a Doctor or the lofty agenda that Amber Rais is working on. Mara Abbott is so concerned with how she can make a difference in the world as she is also starting the next big step in her cycling career.

G: Why are you a proponent of women's cycling? What is appealing about it, objectively? What is appealing about women's cycling relative to men's cycling? Why do you think men's cycling still takes center stage over women's? What do you think should change in women's cycling to get people more interested and excited about it?

ME: The quick categorical answers are that were are not enough real proponents of women's cycling and I felt I would be remiss if I didn't step up to help in some way. I see people who not only want to perform in a sport at a World Class level I also see them as wanting to change the World in positive ways and how could I not want to be involved with that!

I think these women will lead their own way...those that mean the most will notice...

I have heard it told that if a rider is talented they will get noticed, that the National Team or a pro team will see them, but I think that takes a chance that someone will get missed. You can do a camp and tell a rider they are good but if you just send them home to no coaching or support it becomes just a roll of the dice on when they might get a break though. I first saw Mara Abbott at a camp and I just kept in touch with her for a few years while she lived her life as a student and a swimmer. Who knows where she would have ended otherwise? Maybe the same place but maybe not? Alison Powers and Katharine Carroll are two more where a few small things have made an enormous difference. They are both so very talented that they most likely would succeed anyway, but why not seek to give them a hand at the beginning. I think if you just watch the top 3 finishers all the time you might miss the athlete that finishes 12th but is also the one that makes you say "Damn! She's really good". I saw Carmen McNellis (now with Aaron's and also a US National team member) race once and then talked to her and I knew she had real talent and also the mind of an athlete.

Bad news reads as good or better then good news...the racing is exciting but so is the women's...look at l'Aude the past few years...why isn't Amber Neben anywhere as known as she should be?

I would have liked one of those companies who have pulled out of sponsoring men's teams to have looked to the women athletes and seen that while they are world class athletes, they are also educated and well spoken and very loyal to what they believe in. Seems to me one of those sponsors that really did believe in the sport of cycling would have made a stand on the women's side...

G: For our readers, what is the USWCDP?

ME: We work at building a network of people who want to offer support to women cyclists. On one hand we are like a lobby and we abdicate for the sport not just the riders. We do lean toward the side of the athlete because everything is on their back. At camps I had done the one thing that always came up was who would an athlete call if they had a question? There may be a hundred different places to call to get some answers but there was no one good place to start so we try to be that place. Teams call and ask about good riders and riders call about teams so we put them together. Basically we always make an effort to help or find someone who can. I see the USWCDP as just the foundation of a building, I think the upper floors are just being built and they consist of the athletes and their goals and wishes and beliefs.

From your introduction above, while we do try to find the proper "technologies" and guidance, all we are really doing is to use the things that are already out there. To try and put people of like minds together so really the most valuable thing we have is an open line of communication. While we work to help athletes, and that involves training and being a professional athlete over time, what I have found is that the capabilities of these women are outside of sports. I think we are starting to become more impressed by what they will do for the world and not just how fast they can ride a bike. These athletes are very impressive citizens of the world and cycling is just a piece of their goals in life.

G: I read that you started the USWCDP with a lot of your own money. I know that other sponsors have since stepped up and invested in your goals and missions, how has the program been received on a whole…have there been people reluctant to "buy-into" it or even downright against it?

ME: I have put a lot into this and the cost has been high in many ways. I just felt it is a cause that I have to support, that I can not walk away from.

The difficulty in pitching what we are doing is that it is largely different from what is usually done. We are not putting together a team with a jersey on 7 different riders, what we are doing is trying to create an extensive network of support for all women cyclists. Sponsors have to believe in the cause and the good intentions not just the media impression or the podium appearance. It has been difficult to get out the stories of these athletes but some are starting to notice. There are, I think, people who understand why a woman would get her degree or her Masters or her Doctorate or pass the Bar but then set it all aside to race a bike for little or no money. Most of the athletes look at their athletic career as something that makes them what they are, part of the life education, and they will use that to succeed at other things later in life. Seems like a dream cause for a sponsor to want to be involved with to me.

I want to get back to scouting talent more. I think that is the most important thing because you have to always be out there looking but also so riders can see there is, in our own small way, support.

I haven't found that anyone is outwardly against us though I think some don't get what we are trying to do. We don't charge athletes so its not like our business plan is really good but that does allow us to be mostly neutral and always be on the side of the sport . I also think there are some that are a little condescending toward any women's sports and, unfortunately, I sometimes find it within the sport.

I think I deal with athletes like I preferred to be dealt with which is don't push me up a road, just show me which road to take.

G: You stated that you want to get back into scouting talent. What are your responsibilities currently in the USWCDP? And how is talent "scouted" currently? Is there a scouting network similar to what you see in other sports? Would you like to see that kind of scouting network built?

ME: I do everything! (laugh) I just work to build the network of people who care about women's cycling and that means a lot of phone and email time. I do hope to be back at many of the races in 2008 to be able to watch and see what talent is out there. I look forward to being amazed at some new talent! I think there is a good group of people out there now who know talent when they see it. Teams are always looking for talent and some of the directors will call me now and then to let me know of someone they saw. If the USWCDP can help that athlete in some way then that helps the team when they look to add that rider to the team later. It's always been easy to see that we all have to work together but what we need to do is figure how to do that work best.

I want to make the point that I don't think the USWCDP is doing something "bigger" in the sport than others are, I think we are just trying to link and rally all the people who are doing great things. I'm talking bike shops and clubs and coaches and all those small teams that want to help their riders and directors of big teams that want to see young riders develop so that they can add them to their teams. The Program is everyone who is trying to help these athletes! People like Linda Jackson from TIBCO and Carmen D'Aluisio from Aaron's and Laura Weislo or Lisa Hunt from the Value Act team, they are all doing something positive for athletes. I have such an enormous amount of respect for Kristy Scrymgeour from Team High Road because she cares about the sport and the athletes and doing it all the right way.

G: For the rider out there who feels they are qualified for the USWCDP, what is the process to get into the program…what type(s) of qualifications are required…is there an age limit (low or high) for participation?

ME: On the one hand we never turn away a question and we try to help anyone who asks for help but it has become easy to get overloaded. I do think our network of people willing to help is growing. Our Mentors, current and former Pro riders, have great advice to offer and there are bike shops and coaches and doctors and other athletes who will step in offer advice or some sort of care. My frustration has been that we have not been able to help financially as much as I wish. There have been a couple athletes we work with where one plane ticket to a race that they would not otherwise have gone to changed their career in a positive way. There are some great opportunities out there such as the new US National Team format but you had better be ready to do it for no pay and I hate to see that be a reason for an athlete to not go forward.

All the USWCDP riders have heard my pitch on what efforts need to be done to be an athlete and that you can't look to blame or complain about not getting a break. An athlete has to feel that her fate is in her own hands so ask questions, seek some answers and ride your bike. The USWCDP will try to be there to answer a question or give advice but there is only so much we can do but we do though I hope the athlete gets some kind of power through that advice.

G: What did you think of Georgia Gould's recent petition for "Equal Pay?"

ME: Georgia's aunt lives close to Dolores and while I only know her a little I would say that standing up for what you believe in strongly is a trait that runs in the family. I've seen these women race; they deserve just as much prize money as anyone else in the sport.

G: I read that Webcor is the only UCI listed women's team currently. Do you see the growth of US Women's cycling into the international landscape as being integral to the growth of women's cycling in general?

ME: I do think it is important. Cycling is a world wide sport and there is world class talent in the US so they need to be on the world stage. I think that working toward the highest athletic level is a given in sport. For the women athletes, the International level is already the direction they are going. The idea and drive of "let’s perform" also covers much of the need of "let’s promote".

G: Along those same lines, do you think it's essential to have some of Europe's biggest names participate in North American, specifically US, events to grow the sport?

ME: It is normal to want to see the talent from all over the world. The worlds talent racing against each other gets world wide press and that is important. I would also say that some of the biggest names in the world are from the US so the international athlete is already here and I would hope fans would want to see them race. Look at what Amber Neben has done each year! She has won the Route de France and the Tour de l'Aude twice. Check out what Kristin Armstrong and Sarah Hammer have done internationally. The crowds should come out to see them anytime they can.

G: I wrote a post offering up Mara Abbott as the "Next Great American Cyclist" do you think that is too heady of title right now in her career, or given her talent is her career arc on that type of plane?

ME: As a coach or mentor I really don't do an athlete much of a favor by telling them how great they are. Mara has an amazing amount of talent but she will be the first to tell you that its what she proves to herself that counts. I think the press has every right to make those predictions and Mara has every right to make the sort of goals she has made but it comes down to gaining experience and lots of work. I certainly have seen things that give me a great idea on what she is capable of but for me I would rather she show you then have me tell you about it.

I hope the press will look toward the "Next Group" of American Cyclists. Riders like Katharine Carroll, Alison Powers and Amber Rais are ready now. Andrea Dvorak, Kristin McGrath, Amy Dombroski, Rebecca Much, ...these are riders on the way. There are others I haven't named and more we haven't even heard of yet.

Photos: Michael Engleman with Mara Abbott (Courtesy of Whitman College); Michael and Amy Dombroski (Courtesy of Karen Webster); and Pan Am Games (L to R: Kristin Armstrong, Michael, and Kimberly Baldwin)

Monday, January 21, 2008

To Dream

I have been called a “dreamer.” But that often carried a negative connotation by the people that label me as such. I preferred to view myself in the context of what Harriet Tubman said about the dreamer, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

On the third Monday in January the United States celebrates and commemorates the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.; a man who dreamed one of the biggest [and some may say audacious] dreams of all, an integrated and unified America.

For those who have never seen or read Dr. King’s 1963 speech, the entirety is below.



For those in the cycling community, two years ago, NPR’s Tony Cox spoke with pro cycling writer Patrick Sharp about why there are so few blacks in professional cycling.

The issue seems to perpetuate today, and primarily for the same reasons that Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing; shown winning the 2007 CSC Invitational) and former US Cycling President, Mike Fraysse, stated in a 2005 interview (excerpt below) with the LA Times, J. Michael Kennedy. To my recollection, Bahati is the only African-American currently in the professional peloton.

"It's the money, and we're not exposed to it," he [Bahati] said. "If it were a household sport, it would be different."

"It's hugely expensive," he said. "If you join a basketball league in the inner city, you pay $50 and you might even get shoes."

Mike Fraysse, past president of the U.S. Cycling Federation, said there is a large number of black cyclists but that most of them come from countries where the sport is more popular.

"But if you go to the weekend races in [New York's] Central Park, maybe 20% of the riders will be black," he said. "That's because there's lots of immigrants."
Photo: Steve Klein

'You Can't Control Everybody'

Here's a scary thought, not that it's a new one.
Ray Godkin, vice president of the International Cycling Union, says drug use in the the sport isn't going to disappear.
"We like to think we're getting ahead of this. It costs a fortune every year," said Godkin in Adelaide, where the Tour Down Under has begun. "I think it's a real shame that we've got this attached to the sport and I'm the first one to say we'll never stamp it out completely because how can you? You can't control everybody but we're certainly headed in the right direction."
Time will tell about that.

Don't miss this story and interview:
Neal Rogers of the VeloNews: Landis lashes out

ALSO (it's fun to read the Aussie media):
-- FoxSports.au: Gerrans has desire to relive glory
-- The Age.au: City going crazy about 'the race'
-- The Australian.au: Gerrans fired by legend next door
-- CyclingWeekly.uk: French TV signs crucial new deal with Tour

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tour Down Under is Rolling

The Tour Down Under is underway, although AdelaideNow puts it this way:

ADELAIDE'S annual party season kicked off with the first race of the Tour Down Under last night, beginning a frenetic two months of major events.

The Down Under Classic drew a crowd of 75,000, with thousands cramming vantage points at the Bay for the 25-lap curtain-raiser to tomorrow's historic Stage One of the first ProTour event outside Europe.

Germany's Andre Greipel (pictured) from Team High Road won the opening-day event, outsprinting Australians Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), who finished second and third over 25 laps on a 2km circuit.
You can read more on the Tour Down Under site.

ALSO:
-- The Age.au:
German wins Down Under cycling race
-- BikeRadar: New UK Cycling Maps and Guides released
-- BikeRadar: Floyd Landis to race US Mountain Bike series

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lance for Vice President?

Today's news is definitely NOT about the bike.
It is about the new sports: politics.
From this morning's Washington Post: "Earlier in the day, [New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg appeared at an Austin hospital to talk health care with Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion cyclist. Armstrong is an emerging political power in Texas, and any hint that he's supporting Bloomberg would lend credence to the mayor's prospective campaign and signature-gathering efforts."
In a story in the Dallas Morning News, Bloomberg called for a new national push to prevent and cure cancer.
Right up Our Boy Lance's ally.

"In my opinion, whoever wants to be president of the United States of America ought to address the number one killer in this country," Armstrong said at a news conference at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.

Remember Lance's attempted Democratic and Republican presidential candidate debates on health care and cancer funding? Dennis Kucinich showed up (Mike Huckabee, too, as I remember), but the major candidates were somewhat lukewarm about participating.
As we cycling fans all know, Lance NEVER forgets.

"I'm sure there's a lot of questions about whether he's in or not in, but at the end of the day, he's representing an independent agenda and the best interests of the people," Armstrong said.
The mayor then reciprocated. "This state could do a lot worse," Bloomberg said. "He's exactly the kind of person that we need."
Stay tuned. This one could get interesting.

ALSO:
-- Austin Statesman:
Armstrong, Bloomberg Join Forces in cancer fight
-- Reuters: Crow takes Detours on road to renewal
-- TheAge.au: Sponsors vie for Aussie cycling team
-- HeraldSun.au: Simon Gerrans is the man to beat at Tour Down Under
-- VeloNews: Thunder Down Under as Pro Tour debuts outside Europe
-- Official site for The Tour Down Under
-- Official site for Amgen Tour of California
--
Official site for Tour of Georgia
--
Official site for the Tour de France


Friday, January 18, 2008

Batting 1.000

Oh my gosh!
I am writing the 1,000th post on Triple Crankset!
Whoda thunk it almost two years ago when Granny, Tooth and I started a blog to basically blog about what we wanted to talk about in the cycling world.
And we've made SO many friends along the way, not the least of which has been Sean Weide, who has contributed SO much to the blog.
I have always marveled at Granny's depth of knowledge and Tooth's pure love of cycling. And they're pretty good guys, too!
Granny has been the real driving force of the blog, from localizing the content to redesigning our template over the past month or so.
Heck -- we even have T-shirts and mugs!
But enough self-congratulations (there will be cake somewhere, sometime!).

Speaking of congratulations, take a look at the beta site for the redesign of VeloNews online. Much much cleaner. Granny recently has pointed me to BikeRadar. And we all are anxiously awaiting a redesign of Cyclingnews (you ARE planning a redesign, I hope!).

ALSO:
-- Guardian: Green jersey winner Boonen to skip Olympics
-- MyFox Austin: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Meets with Lance Armstrong in Austin

The New Black...

The teams for the 2008 Amgen Tour of California were announced yesterday. Of the 17 teams participating in the 8 day race that runs from February 17-24th, 9 are Pro Tour teams, while the other 8 are well known domestic teams.

The race will be our first look at the newly sponsored High Road Sports, formerly T-Mobile, and Bissell Pro Cycling, formerly Priority Health (both of the latter being based in Grand Rapids, MI). In addition, Scott takes over for Swiss pen manufacturer, Prodir, as a primary sponsor for Saunier Duval.

Several teams will also be sporting a new look this year as Quick-Step-Innergetic, CSC, BMC, and Jelly Belly have chosen white as their predominant color for their 2008 kits.


Teams for the 2008 TOC: Astana, Bissell Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing Team, Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Health Net Presented by Maxxis, High Road Sports, Jelly Belly Cycling Team, Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast, Quick Step, Rabobank Cycling Team, Rock Racing, Saunier Duval-Scott, Team CSC, and Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle, Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team.

Photo: Tim de Waele

Utah on Our Minds

Who knew the “Beehive State” would be dominating the cycling headlines today?

Bikes for Kids Utah Announces New Dates for Bike Giveaway and Fundraising Rides

SALT LAKE CITY - January 18, 2008 - Bikes for Kids Utah, a non-profit 501(C)3 organization, today announced its bike giveaway and fundraising bike rides will take place May 31.

Previously, the Bikes for Kids Utah dinner/silent auction, 5K, 50K and 100K fundraising bicycle rides, bike giveaway and the Dave Zabriskie Yield to Life Time Trial were held all in one weekend. The May 31 date was chosen to give the bike recipients time to ride their new bikes during the summer months following the giveaway, as well to guarantee as warmer weather for the fundraising bike rides.

"We have had two extremely successful events and each year we learn something new about making the next event better than the last." said Debbie Reid, founder and director of Bikes for Kids Utah. "It didn't seem right to give a child a brand new bike in the fall when he or she may only have a few weeks left to enjoy it. The new dates give these kids at least 3-4 warm months to really get a feel for and enjoy their bikes."

This event marks the third year Bikes for Kids Utah will give 1,000 new bicycles to pre-qualified, underprivileged students from Salt Lake Valley elementary schools. Along with the 1,000 bicycles, the children of first grade age will also receive helmets, t-shirts and bike locks through proceeds accrued from sponsorships, donations and the 5K, 50K or 100K fundraising bicycle rides.

With the new date, unfortunately Dave Zabriskie, Salt Lake City native and the third American ever to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, won't be able to attend this year's event due to his busy race schedule.

For members of the community who are interested in participating in the Bikes for Kids 5K, 50K or 100K fundraising rides, they will take place on the same day as the bike giveaway, May 31.

For those interested in donating time as a volunteer or for more information regarding the events, please visit www.bikesforkidsutah.org or call 801-523-3730.

Tour of Utah

Last year the inaugural Tour of Utah was postponed due to financial considerations, now the promoters are calling for men's professional and category one team applications. More than 120 cyclists are due to compete in the 2008 edition of the race from August 13 to 17.

To register, www.tourofutah.com/register

Interbike in Utah?

Interbike to Host Breakfast Presentation at the 2008 Bicycle Leadership Conference, Jan. 18-20 in San Diego

With the Sands Convention Center exhibiting contract up for renewal after the 2009 show, Lance Camisasca to share and discuss pros and cons of current and potential venue host cities

From SOAR Communications:
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - January 17, 2007 - As a part of the 11th Annual Bicycle Leadership Conference, Interbike will host a 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. breakfast presentation followed by an open microphone question and answer session on Saturday, January 19 at the Holiday Inn on the Bay in San Diego, California.

Interbike's long-term contract with the Sands Convention Center runs through the 2009 show and Interbike is considering whether to renew the contract or move the show to another location. During Saturday's BLC presentation, Interbike industry consultant Lance Camisasca will discuss alternative locations for the show and the pros and cons of each prospective location.

"At last year's BLC roundtable we shared the results of our post show survey which covered show performance and Salt Lake City specifically as an alternative venue." Camisasca said. "With the recent redevelopment of the Anaheim area and its newly renovated Anaheim Convention Center, as well as evolving trade show opportunities in the Denver area, we are now considering those locations as possible venues."

Attending manufacturers and presentation attendees are encouraged to attend the breakfast and participate in the open microphone question and answer session directly following the Interbike presentation.

"We want to be prepared to provide the best shows possible." Camisasca said. "At last year's conference, we gained valuable insight from the manufacturers and retailers who attended and I think that everyone left with a better understanding of the multiple factors we consider when entertaining the idea of possibly moving a major show. We hope this year will be equally beneficial as we discuss our recommendations for the show in the coming years."

The Bicycle Leadership Conference is presented by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) and runs January 18-20, 2008. The event focuses on the facts and figures of the bicycle industry while building on the important networking opportunities and exciting special events.

For more information about Interbike, please visit www.interbike.com. For more information about eleventh annual Bicycle Leadership Conference please visit www.bicycleconference.org.

People or Places
Interbike has its history is rooted in Las Vegas, where the show was first held in 1982. Although the trade show has visited other locales [Reno, Anaheim, and Philly before returning to Vegas in the mid-90s], perhaps no other city complements the spectacle that is Interbike better than Sin City.

But, I have always held on to the contention that it’s the people that make the place and not vice versa. Circuses, even ones as big as Interbike, have been known to travel. No matter what the venue, retailers and exhibitors will still attend, spokesmodels will still be scantily clothed, and cyclo-philes of all types will still make the pilgrimage.

Will it still be as fun? That depends on whether you believe the cycling community is full of fun and engaging people, and if your idea of fun needs to be tied to a specific place.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ey, We've Got a Blogger Down

We were one of the many unfortunate blogs hit when Blogger went down this evening. To Blogger/Google's credit, they were very responsive to the issue as the outage occurred during peak blogging/reading hours.

They have since fixed the issue, but our newly designed template took a beating, as did many others who had a customized template ... interesting?

Since we have been working [fighting] through HTML and CSS issues in regard to IE compatibility, we've decided to leave the template somewhat bare until all issues have been resolved.

Below is a browser update:
  • Safari - Template looks as it was created
  • Firefox - Banner image is missing
  • IE - Well, we won't go there...
Please bear with us during this process.

Getting Down Under

So, are we excited about the Tour Down Under, which gets the professional road season off and spinning Jan. 20-27 in South Australia?

There will be 133 riders, 21 more than in 2007; 29 of the 133 riders started the 2007 Tour de France.

Among the teams participating: Silence Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, High Road, CSC, Caisse D'Epargne and America's favorite Kazakh team, Astana.

Wondering where to find information on Team Astana? You have to go to Johan Bruyneel's website for the time being.

There are 22 nationalities participating. The 2008 Tour Down Under will be the first ever ProTour race to be staged outside of Europe.

It's a little late to plan a trip to Adelaide for a little cycling along with the TdU, but our friends at Trek Travel can take you there next year. Trek Travel is the official travel partner -- surprise surprise -- of Team Astana, and you can even ride a Madone like Alberto and Levi. Trek Travel puts out a pretty nice Trip Planner you can order through the mail. My picture appeared in the 2004 planner with Kevin Livingston, who the Crankset got to ride with in 03.
Anything else we can do for you, friends at Trek Travel?

Other little tidbits:
-- VeloNews:
Landis appeal set for March
-- Boston Herald: Lance Armstrong to Run Boston Marathon
-- San Luis Obispo: Top cycling teams to compete in Amgen Tour of California
-- ESPN: Can An American Team That Aims to Compete Clean Help Put Cycling on the Right Road?
Austin Statesman: Upscale housing planned for former Armstrong property

TRIPLE Exclusive - An Interview with Liz Hatch


“Off the front” is a term we use in cycling for someone who goes in a break, either with a group or solo. For some, the term not only describes a tactical strategy but also a riding style. While for others, it expresses a personality. In French, these types of riders are referred to as “baroudeur-rouleur,” literally a “fighter” who goes over rolling terrain well, or more descriptively, a rider who is brave enough to go on a suicidal solo effort. Enter Elizabeth Hatch.

The 27 year old who rides for Team Vanderkitten has been “off the front” in the two years she has been in the women’s professional peloton, and on the internet where she formerly went by the username “Roubaix Girl.”

It would be a mistake; however, to simply label her for what you see on race day or on the internet. Liz, while strikingly beautiful, is as multi-dimensional and dichotomous a personality as I have gotten to know. She is considered "green" in the world of professional cycling, but has enough experience and talent to win the races that she enters; she transmits a "rock star" persona, but is amazingly approachable and down to earth; she is graceful on the bike, but at times trips over air off of it; she is tough and gritty when diving for a line, but vulnerable enough to emote when seeing her father after a rough race. At times, it’s as if Liz challenges your perceptions of her.

In this interview with Vanderkitten Liz Hatch, we discuss her beginnings, Europe, feeling “sexy,” and where she would take women’s cycling.

Granny’s 30 (G): In your interview with Brett of The Sporting Life, you stated that your 24th birthday was a seminal point in your cycling career. What was your motivation for getting up off that couch to cycle, let alone race, as many cycling fans cycle but don't necessarily race?

Liz Hatch (LH): 2004 was a turning point in my personal life. I had the feeling that I was standing on the edge of a cliff, the point of no return. Looking back I can see that buying my first bike was manifestation of the realization of this; taking a step in the direction of freedom, taking control of my own life. I certainly had no inkling then that it would take me this far in such a short time however...

The racing came after a year and half of crazy group rides in South Florida. Anyone who's done rides down there can probably relate. There are no hills to separate “the men from the boys" so almost every ride turns into a full out "speed fest". I just got the urge to go farther with it, to see how I compared to girls out there racing already.

G: You've raced in Belgium and in the United States, could you compare the racing done in Europe as compared to the States...the fans? Which do you prefer? Do you think you'll go back and race in Europe?

LH: The racing here is certainly tough, crits are really hard in the sense that you have to be smart and know when to take your chance and when to be patient. There are a couple really strong teams right now that control the race for their sprinters who can sit back and pounce when the time is right.

Racing in Belgium was different for the most part because they don't really do crits. I did a few of the "after Tour" crits but the majority of races I did were circuit or road races over 2 to 3 hours. You get more of a chance to stretch your legs. Also there were generally more girls racing. The breaks there stick; it's not like here where a break normally comes back. It's very windy there and the roads aren't always "ideal" so sometimes you'll end up with a few groups all fighting it out. The fans there have such a passion for the sport. They don't mind the road closures and the rain doesn't stop them from standing on the side of the road for hours either. It was cool to meet such nice people there that come to all the races and follow your progress throughout the season. I showered in more strangers’ homes after races than I care to remember! Belgian people are very hospitable.

I very much enjoyed my time in Europe, and while I have grown to love the racing here in the States over the past year, my heart is in Europe. The history of cycling there moves me greatly. I hope to be a part of making Vanderkitten a UCI team at some point in the very near future so that we can do a European program. Our director, Scott Gross, backs my feelings on this 100%. In fact, he canceled his yearly pilgrimage to Belgium for the Classics to be at Sea Otter with us.

G: I found it interesting that your first two real cycling experiences were in Florida, where if you're not heading into a head wind you're certainly getting hit by a cross wind, and in Belgium, another wind swept area. Do you feel that made you tougher as a cyclist...and how has the move to an area where cyclists abound helped your development?

LH: Being in Florida and Belgium gave me speed on the flats for sure. The wind there can get downright ridiculous but I've really grown to "enjoy" it. I feel at home in windy conditions, it forces you to be mentally strong which comes in handy in many aspects of life. This past year out in California has added depth to my ability, I've become a much better climber but I have a ways to go to be the best I can be at it. I'll never be 115lbs, let alone a Buck Five, like so many of these girls that are in many ways my role models. I have to work with the body type that I have, which is,luckily for me, built for races that I have a passion for.

G: One-day Classics or Grand Tours?

LH: Ha. Need I say it? Classics.

G: Crits or Road Races?

LH: Both. I want to win both. I want to win everything I enter.

G: You've stated that you'd like to win The Ronde someday, what about Worlds?

LH: I think every racing cyclist has, on a quiet back road with no one around, pretended to raise his or her arms envisioning themselves crossing the line first and pulling that gorgeous jersey on... Yes, I've done it too. :) Visualizing that sort of thing is what I translate into the motivation to make it happen in real life.

G: What's the best moment you've had on a bike…the worst?

LH: Best- The Col d'Agnel in France, it's like being in heaven at the top.

Worst- Bonking so bad on the Izoard that I began losing peripheral vision. Or maybe that digger I took in April on my face... Both are cool memories now though.

G: What is one thing that most people don't know about you?

LH: I still sleep with my baby blanket... Jesus, I used to own over 200 tubes of lipstick... I had to part with some of them, too much to carry around.

G: 200 tubes of lipstick? Are we talking every Juicy Tube flavor? And did you carry them all at one time? What did your bag...er, backpack look like?

LH: I had a huge hard sided luggage that had all of my lipstick in it. I have a huge weakness for MAC cosmetics. I race in makeup. Maybe I'll grow up one day and stop being so vain but till then...

G: Racing as a one-woman team last year, was there any race where you wished you had some teammates around you? Do you think you learned more by going it alone?

LH: All of them! The reason women like Van Gilder, Vos, or Nicole Cooke are able to win so much is because of their team! I'm sure they would tell you the same. You are at a huge disadvantage without teammates. On the other side of the coin it forced me to be proactive. I'm not the sort of racer to sit in and go along for the ride. Racing on my own gave me a lot of freedom to make my own moves. I would always think "WWLD", What Would Ludo Do? Haha, maybe that's odd but I totally dig Ludo Dierckxsens style of racing. Or Jacky Durand. They had cajones! They were interesting to watch, they involved you; you were forced to sit in front of your TV to see if they would make it to the end. Guys like that always made me FEEL the race. Like them, I want to take a race in my teeth and shake it by the neck!

G: If guys like Ludo and Jacky make you FEEL the race...what do you FEEL when you're racing?

LH: I feel so alive that I'm almost close to death. It's the best high I've ever had, I feel invincible and vulnerable all at once. I know that I could race "safer" and sit in more but I don't know that I'd get the satisfaction from that style of racing. I enjoy the risk. It's a "sexy" feeling. Ha, really...It’s a weird thing to say, but true. All that adrenaline and the goose bumps... It's like the best kiss ever! Makes me want to scream like a banshee (if I weren't so out of breath)! I cannot explain it better than that.

G: What are your personal expectations for the upcoming 2008 season? Which races are you targeting? What are your expectations for the team?

LH: I'm not going to be shy and say I just want to have fun and enjoy myself. No, I want to win. I want Vanderkitten to win. I will work my ass off for this team and these girls. We really are a different sort of team, in my opinion, just based on how we came to be. I'm so close to Mark, Dave and Jennie, they have done so much for me that I will put myself in my grave for the team if that's what it takes. We have some really talented girls this year that are going to teach me so much. Watch out for us! I'm tellin' ya! So far, Vanderkitten has been really lucky to meet like minded people out there, such as yourself, who are behind us. I want them to be proud of their involvement with us.

G: Are you really as clumsy as you say? Don't answer that, my shoulder is still broken isn't it? [laugh]

LH: I really am. I hide it well though. And again, I'M SOOOO SORRY!!! :)

G: I just recently watched the Morgan Freeman movie, "10 Items or Less." So Liz, 10 items or less, things that you can't live without ("keepers")?

LH:
  • Westmalle Trippel
  • Chapstick
  • Nutella
  • Electricity
  • Toilet paper
  • My blanket
  • Bike
  • My Robert Redford T-shirt
  • A kazoo (love those things)
  • And baked beans with weenies
G: Did you ever think of reaching out to the monks and ask Westmalle for sponsorship as you've probably subsidized their business over the years?

LH: Oh man, that would probably be the end of my racing career...

G: What would you say to the statement, "Pain is Temporary, Quitting is Forever." Have you ever quit?

LH: I have quit. It's the reason I know how much I hate the feeling of losing or giving less than my best. Quitting and losing teach you far greater lessons than winning.

G: What is appealing about women's cycling, objectively? What is appealing about women's cycling relative to men's cycling? Why do you think men's cycling still takes center stage over women's? What do you think should change in women's cycling to get people more interested and excited about it?

LH: My feelings on this subject run deep. Women's cycling is stuck in a vicious circle of poor promotion which causes a lack of interest. Cycling is at its most basic, entertainment.

In order to draw people in, to make them care, to make them to pay attention, they must have a connection to the athletes. They have to feel compelled to watch. With men's racing we learn so much about the individual cyclists, their personalities shine through, you get to know them and feel a connection. Ask yourself why you are a fan of one particular cyclist over another and normally it's because something about their persona interests you and excites you. The women I race with/against and admire are just as vibrant and interesting but we're always treated as a footnote and no one remembers the footnote. It's a shame because there is some really good clean fun going on and it's being missed out on. Vanderkitten aims to change that.

G: What do you have to say to people who think you're all "flash" and no substance?

LH: You know, I can't really answer for other people, nor will I try. You can't please everyone. As long as I have the respect and love of the people who've helped me live my dream it's something I just have to ignore.

I admit that I can be a little "over the top" and I have a bit of a mouth sometimes but that's just me, on the bike or off. Why should I change who I am?

G: Have you ever raced on the pines? What do you think about the whole fixie craze?

LH: I haven't yet but Vanderkitten will be working on a women's pursuit team which I will be a part of. I'm really looking forward to it. I admire the grace, skill, and power it takes to be a good track racer.

G: A recent Bicycling article spoke about traffic laws and specifically focused on the Bay area and the risk cyclists take and the repercussions [or lack thereof] that motorists face when riding around. What are your thoughts about the issue? What would you offer up as a solution(s)? What have been your experiences in and around the Bay area?

LH: The short answer? Bikes are the past, present and future. Americans need to wake up and smell the Ozone! Coming from South Florida, I can tell you that we are very fortunate here in NorCal to live in such a cycling friendly area, but it can always be improved. Again, look at countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. Bike highways abound!

G: Your Pops shared with me that story [that you brought up in your interview on The Sporting Life] about you sneaking out on his Gitane, or as I recollect he told me it was a Peugeot. Anyway, was that necessarily because of the freedom cycling afforded you or partly because you wanted to be like your Pops?


LH: Peugeot, man, I knew I was wrong... should have called dear old dad. My bike is still my freedom. It's been the catalyst for many life changing events and I'm sure it will continue to be for the rest of my life. I just can't wait to see where it will take me!

[ASIDE: It being every parent's right to embarass their children, Mr. Hatch shared this anecdote of Liz's first official ride on a bike]
At around 5 years old while living on a cul de sac in suburban Austin she announced that she was going to ride a 2 wheeler without aid of training wheels. I don't recall ever having put them on anyway. Her Mom asked if she needed any help to which she replied she didn't, " I know how to do it". Well, she did ride it, and fast. However, as the pavement ended and she didn't know how to steer or stop, she went through a hedge and into the neighbors garage door. So ended her first solo ride. Maybe that was a precursor to her friend Vinnie calling her " Crash "
G: This year you really discovered a talent for the sprints...did you consider yourself to be a sprinter beforehand? What type of sprint suits you best, large field sprint...two or three up...catching some wheels from another team's leadout...or leading it all out to see if someone can come around you?

LH: Before this year I never really considered myself anything but pretty strong and really stubborn on a bike. My abilities continue to grow and now that I have a great coach, I feel like I keep finding new gears! It's really amazing how cycling is such a "layered sport" as my teammate Leigh tells me.

As far as what kind of sprint suits me best, I'm going to be cagey and say they all do! Can't give too much away, yeah? I don't have a preference, I like to go fast!

G: What are your strengths...areas you might need to work on, on the bike...racing?

LH: Strengths - Obviously sprinting, but I'm finding that I may be more of an all-rounder than I previously thought. People tell me to stop saying I'm not a climber because I'm really not bad at it. It's all still to be determined, I'd rather not put labels and limit myself, ya know?

Race tactics are things I'm still learning. Patience. I've never been on a team so next year will offer a huge amount of opportunities to learn the art of racing a bike.

Photos: Kurt Harvey (top); Leonard Basobas (bottom)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wheat Ridge Cyclery Pro Night

Over the past year we have been fortunate to connect with many new people, and even have a few contribute to the Triple Crankset. But, its always nice to have an old friend drop by and lend a hand.

Dan McCormack was by our sides as we traversed over the Pyrenees and rode into Paris in 2003. Over the weekend, Dan attended Pro Night at Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and provided us with a recap of the evening.

January 12, 2008 - Denver CO
- When I moved to Denver last summer I immediately checked out all the bike shops, as I always prefer to use & support a local shop (instead of the web). I visited a few that were ok , but they didn't really have the relaxed atmosphere I'd enjoyed in Austin, TX ... until I walked into Wheat Ridge Cyclery!

WRC is the best shop in the Denver area, started by Eugene Kiefel (Ron's dad) back in the early 1970s with very little knowledge of cycling (a better choice than a go-kart shop or Dairy Queen though!!). Ron and his two sisters worked the tiny shop with Dad for years and that's what led Ron into cycling. Fans like me who began following cycling in the 1980s with Greg Lemond, remember Ron as one of the early Americans in Europe riding for the 7-Eleven team (7 TdFs, Giro stage winner, and Bronze medalist in '84 Olympics).

The WRC shop has grown incredibly over the years and now hosts and annual Pro Night fund raiser for cycling initiatives. The event was very relaxed with free pizza (I swear they had 80 large pies!!), beer, wine & soft drinks. Many vendors were there including Trek which had the latest version of the 2008 Astana team bike (it's HOT! Update: Initially Dan wasn't able to supply us with a photo of the team bike. But after Dan sent this post to the WRC, Matt Boyer sent him the photo below, and a complimentary WRC t-shirt for his great write-up.)


The evening was kicked off by Ron, Eugene and the Kiefel family and then hosted by Michael Aisner (Coors Classic director) & Bob Roll (with full beard) - and included a bunch of cycling stars talking about current projects and telling some great stories.

A few brief reflections & highlights:
  • Tommy Danielson is an absolutely great guy (really down to earth), but he looked more like a casual skateboarder than a top of world road cyclists!
  • Nelson Vails in contrast, still looks like a cycling machine with huge powerful muscles (a track guy for sure)
  • Alison Dunlap was a real sweetie and we visited briefly before the event while just milling around
  • Ned Overend is freak of nature - the guy is my age (52) and still totally fit and competing when he wants (2nd in 2006 Washington Hill & Mt Evans Hill Climbs!)
  • Steve Johnson (CEO USA Cycling) gave a great presentation on the upcoming China '08 Olympics in which they had to build a mt bike course (we'll see?) ... but the road course should be very challenging with a circuit in the mts/hills north of Beijing


The highlight of the night though was Tom Ritchey and Jock Boyer talking about Project Rwanda. A friend of these cycling legends talked them into visiting Rwanda a few years ago and it seems to have changed both of their lives. They marveled at the beauty of the country and people (apparently the Hotel Rwanda movie doesn't do the country justice). More importantly, they got connected with people there related to transporting items (like water, coffee crop, etc.) long distances on home-made wooden bikes (because other bikes aren't strong enough).

The Mission Statement from the web site says it very well:

Mission Statement: Project Rwanda is committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely.

http://www.projectrwanda.org/

And now the exciting ending to this post ... I was feeling really lucky all night about my raffle ticket, but didn't win anything until the last item - new Specialized Tarmac Road bike - and they started to call the numbers 749 (yes) 006 ... and I had 007! (but I just got my Lemond Maillot Jaune fully tuned so I'm ready for another great season) ... Ride On!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A New Look


Its not uncommon for a new year to usher in a new look, but 2008 is shaping up to be a complete makeover for cycling. Gone are a bevy of names that have become synonymous with the sport, both individuals and sponsors, but as in life cycling continues to roll along. New teams and riders will rise up to be embraced by a new generation of fans, and by more intelligent [and skeptical] established ones as well.

Bill Stapleton's Team High Road Sports, the former T-Mobile, unveiled their new look and claimed their first victory of the year with Roger Hammond's win at the British Cyclocross Nationals (January 5-6th).

In regard to our new look, it was a bit delayed due to server issues. The look is also a complete departure from templates used previously, and as such there are some bugs and kinks to be worked out. It was created and vetted using both Mozilla Firefox [available for Windows] and Apple's Safari web browsers. If you use either, then you have seen the mostly complete makeover. For those using Internet Explorer, you're more likely to think that we've just gotten into web design, as the site doesn't look remotely as it was intended.

Regardless, we hope you enjoy the new look and the new features.

Photo: Chris Lees (with written permission)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interbike Lite

One of the great things about Interbike has to be making the trip out to Las Vegas. But if you are one who is not too keen on the Vegas nightlife or is unconcerned about all the glitz and glam, then the following Interbike news from our friends at SOAR Communications is bound to make your day.

Interbike to Host Inaugural Outdoor Demo East

Interbike Outdoor Demo East to include product demos, NBDA seminars and industry networking, October 21 & 22, 2008 in Providence, Rhode Island

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. - Jan. 10, 2007- In an effort to better support retailers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, Interbike announced it will host its first annual Interbike Outdoor Demo East Tuesday, October 21 to Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Roger Williams Park in Providence, R.I.

The Interbike Outdoor Demo East event is based on the Interbike Outdoor Demo held in conjunction with the Interbike International Bicycle Expo in Las Vegas and will include product testing, National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) seminars and networking events. The new event is aimed at servicing retailers who do not attend and/or additional staff members who are not able to participate in the Interbike International Expo and Outdoor Demo.

"We recognize there are members of the industry that have difficulties attending the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas," said Lance Camisasca, Interbike's industry consultant. "Interbike Outdoor Demo East is a hands-on, no-hassle, inexpensive regional style event that allows retailers to not only test new products but also educate staff members on the latest trends and network with industry members in a historic and event friendly location."

Manufacturers who have already committed to exhibit at the event include Advanced Sports (Fuji, SE Racing, Kestrel), Fox Racing Shox, Giant Bicycles, Kenda USA, Pacific Cycle (GT, Schwinn, Mongoose), Pedro's Total Bicycle Care and Santa Cruz Bicycles, with more expected to follow in the coming weeks.

"Interbike always produces a great trade event," said Pat Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports "We're confident OutDoor Demo East will be a great event as well and we are looking forward to giving our East Coast retailers another opportunity to learn about and test ride our products."

"The genesis of an opportunity to reach out to the other half of cycling is perfect," said Chris Zigmont, general manager of Pedro's Total Bicycle Care. "We will now be able to meet with the guys and gals who work the shop floor and who can't attend Interbike's Las Vegas trade show because of time and money constraints."

The OutDoor Demo East is not intended to replace Interbike's September trade event, but will include additional events to benefit retailers unable to attend the Las Vegas show. For example, the partnership with the NBDA will bring its popular Super Seminars to the event.

"We've had great feedback on our Super Seminars around the country and attendance has exceeded expectations," said Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association. "By partnering with Interbike at Outdoor Demo East, we feel we'll be able to offer high quality sessions in a convenient setting that will allow us to reach an even larger audience in a region that deserves the support."

Roger Williams Park is located just south of downtown Providence and has been the host city for the 2006 and 2007 National Cyclocross Championships. In addition to being a great place for cycling, Providence is a central location for Northeast and Mid Atlantic retails and is easily accessible by most forms of transportation.

Post Interbike/Outdoor Demo East Coast Retailer Survey
While developing the outline for Interbike Outdoor Demo East event, much of the planning was guided by responses to a post Interbike/Outdoor Demo survey Interbike distributed to retailers in the North East and Mid Atlantic regions (Two areas that typically have the weakest representation at the Interbike Expo). The more than 300 survey participants were primarily owners and managers of retail shops.

Key findings from the survey include:
  • Retailer responses showed a majority support for a regional, demo style, east coast event
  • More than 65 percent of retailers indicated they would bring three or more employees
  • Respondents ranked industry networking, manufacturer/distributor new sales programs and product testing as their most important trade show activities
  • More than 85 participants indicated they would drive to the event 45 percent of retailers marked that they would bring employees to Interbike Outdoor Demo East that would not normally attend the Interbike Expo and Outdoor Demo in Las Vegas
As part of the survey, Interbike posed several questions about hosting a consumer day on the last day of the industry demo event. While there was some support from the industry for a consumer day, there was not a clear consensus on the issue. As a result, OutDoor Demo East will focus on best serving the needs of the industry in its inaugural year.

For questions about exhibiting at OutDoor Demo East, please email Interbike Sales Manager, Andria Klinger at andria.klinger@nielsen.com. Retailer attendees, please stay tuned for more information.