Here’s how I see what is currently happening in cycling; drugs have always been here. I was flipping through a TDF picture book and came across a picture of Eddy merckx, Freddy maertens, Roger devlamink, all walking their bikes in protest of random drug testing in the TDF.. in 1968!! So drugs have always been a part of the sport.. in fact all sports. But why the attack on cycling? Here’s my theory; pro cycling contracts are getting bigger than the sport and its sponsors can support. So someone high up the ranks decided it was time to thin the herd. Armstrong was a one man show in cycling for a healthy chunk of time. No one was going to touch him and no one, while he was around, was going to make that amount of money.. not even close. Then he retired. The sponsorship bar was raised extremely high. The almighty American dollar entered the sport.. then contracts opened up.. doors were wide open for Lance’s replacement. But too many new names came in making demands of sponsors and team management to build teams with strong rider to support key guys. Let’s remind ourselves that everyone at this point is doing drugs. Now, have a closer look at cycling compared to a stadium sport like football. Where is the sponsorship return? Is there a return? There are no ticket sales to bike racing, at least not enough to quantify the sport’s existence. Football, however, banks on it.. we build massive stadiums, sell tons of logowear, tickets and consession on top of it. The marketing monster behind the American stadium sport is an economy in itself. Cycling isn’t, nor are a number of other “euro-alternative” sports. Do football players use drugs? Of course! But why would you slow down that money making machine? I was just watching Ken Burns “10th Enning” on PBS.. this show was an epiphony for me. A decade ago now, baseball struggled with the drug issue.. there’s was a little different. A battle for new records by players, again, making millions.. way more than they deserved. Not just one player (ala Lance) but three!! McGuire, Sosa and Bonds. Super stars.. all busted in time using performance enhancers. Did it impact ticket sales and viewership? Nope. Back to cycling. What now? Cycling will right itself. In time anyway. Just like it did after the Festina affair of 96/97. The contract/sponsor dollar will correct itself and we’ll get back to good old fashioned doped up bike racing!
I’m inspired finally.. Been a while since my last post.. lots going on and lots to post. But i was recently made aware that my 4k team pursuit team of Casper, Tainter, Cullen and myself scortched a new local track record of 4:38.44. I think I may have posted a record for my age group as well in the 3k pursuit (40-44). Awesome work gents.. even faster in 2010!
The first time I ever rode the track was with Joe parkin and Scott Flanders. Tom Lee was the Velodrome manager at the time. He got the moto out and motorpassed us.. well, them as it was too much for the 3rd guy in line. But after reading his article on the IOC I realized Joe has done it all; WC Cross in Europe, Pro road, Domestic Road, Pro Mountain, bar rides, BMX and the track. I wish more pros, active or not, would be more vocal on the subjects that effect the future of our sport. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqSI7w2D4MQ
Cancellara’s rig.. Michael Hutchinson’s rig.. that earned most of these.. Tony Martin’s rig.. Boardman’s record setting pursuit bike.. circa 1992 3-speed fixed gear Big cookie
The season finally wrapped up for me at the Tour De Gruene in Texas last weekend. A great time and a great event. Saturday was a 16 mile time trial with a 27 mile 2 person team time trial on Sunday. The race has been made famous by Lance Armstrong’s presense but he was busy auctioning his bikes in NYC. It didn’t detract from the event though as it’s been around since ’84. The tt course was one of my all time favorites; 8 mile, sinuous out and back course along the Guadaloup River and made for the fixed gear. I turned a 50-14 to a 37:16 for the 16 mile race (26.6mph ave). Some of Texas’ fastest were in attendance so it was good for 7th in my category but considering my fitness I was exstatic. I stayed on a nice rythm, passed 3 racers and was never passed myself. I undergeared to accomodate my lack of fitness and it was perfect. There were numerous photographers and small pockets of cheering crowds along the course really adding to the excitement of the race.
Early the next day it was 2 person time and HED Mafia boss Vince Rosetta and myself attacked the course for second in our division. It was a variation of the tt course but add a climb and a stint on a roughly chip sealed highway which limited us to a 25mph average speed.
HED is making a huge dent in the bike wheel scene in Texas thanks in part to Vince, Mellow Johnnies and a hoste of great shops in and around Austin and San Antonio. Probably second to our very own Twin Cities.
There was a healthy chunk of time before this event without much riding and no racing. Chequamegon was the last race where I pinned on a number. One of the fsatest on record and I felt it. I got a little over-concerned with weight loss and ran the tank to empty a little too early in the race but as always a great event to participate in. The start is about as stressfull as a race can get.. I just have to figure out how to conquer the Birkie Trail rollers.
A work trip to London and Cycle Show UK provided for a great experience. Quite a bit smaller than Las Vegas’ Interbike but a better invironment; more time triallers, good conversations and a more efficient booth space; 1964 VW bus.
Kelly, Merckx, Backstedt, Malcom Elliot and Barry Hoban (missed phot opp) autographed the VW.
So, a super long season is behind me. A great season despite some of my results. Racing and training on a fixed gear has been a revelation and I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself on it in 2010.
The two man ttt is a unique event. The pros have and have had a number of events on their calendar for years. First there was the Baracchi Trophy in Italy that goes way back and the Duo Normand that still exists today.
As they say about team time trialling; you are only as fast as your weakest member. So in a 2-up ttt compatability is key. Who better to match my ability than Dan Casper. We’ve battled out all season long at nearly 25 events including Grudge match pursuits and worked together in a team pursuit with Jim Cullen and James Tainter. So i’m no stranger to his wheel. We decided on fixed gear bikes. Knowing we could both ride faster given the right conditions and course profile. We had both on this day; calm conditions with high humidity and a rippin fast course profile that tempted me with an individual effort. However, this was a welcomed challenge. Unlike road racing you don’t need a full field to have a good race. Attendance was low but the competition strong from Flanders duo Mark Skarpohl and Mike Woehl. Last year Aric Hareland and myself lost by a wheel length to Gordy Paulson and Lance Niles.. less than a seond seperated us in the 30 minute event. Our goal was to simply go faster. We did rolling a 30:18. It was hard. I felt good going out and Casper said after that he struggled but he never missed a pull. That effort caught up with me on the way back and Dan had to take longer pulls so I could recover. I can smell a sub 30 minute effort and I hope we get the chance again next year. It’s a great venue.
Next up is Chequamegon Fat Tire 40
Just finish 5 days of racing in 6 with a Friday off. It started with the Ride & Glide TT finale. A perfect evening provided for a fast time on the fixed gear breaking my own course record by a handful of seconds. Next year I suspect the time will attract some attention and it’ll come down, if not by me anyway. Thanks to the Ride & Gliders for the series and if the weather cooperates this winter I may make part 2; the R & G XC Ski tt.
Photo: Robbie Halvorson
Wednesday was the Black Dog tt finale. Gear choice may have cost me the race but a PR would be a stretch after the previous night’s efforts so a 2nd place by 4 seconds was all I could muster and a 3rd overall in the series. But my 14:07 will stand as the fastest fixed gear time.. until it gets broke next year, if not my me anyway.
Thursday was the State Points race championships at the NSC Velodrome. 80 laps under the lights on a perfect night. Fall is in the air and I was first across the line but 4th on points behind Crosby, Bergman and Tainter. Taking a lap from those guys was a tall order.
Saturday was the Big Ring Fliers TT. 19-ish miles on great roads. The weather was harsh with a north wind and cool temps. Bjorn Selander and Ian Stanford were in the hood raising the bar and dropping the winning time. I was 4th with tired legs but still love the event and hope it continues to attract racers of all levels.
Sunday closed out my series of races with the State Road Race on the Sibley County Road course.. a course I’ve been riding since 1992 and one of my favorites. A great team effort had me feeling fresh on the last lap but I wasn’t alone. Five of us seperated ourselves from the field on the last climb to battle out the uphill sprint finish taken by Doug Swanson. It was a disappointent to not finish off the great team effort with a win but i’m no sprinter and 5th was all my tired legs could muster.
The Fuji Team RC will be traded in for Fuji C10 Mountain bike. The RC is a great bike. It was everything I could ask for from a road bike. If you are interested in it contact NOW Bikes in Arden Hills. It will be in near perfect condition, race ready and pre-installed with good karma.
Next up; more Thursday night track racing, The Henderson Two Person TTT, Chequamegon Fat Tire Fest and closing out the year at the Tour de Gruene
Congrats to James Tainter on a silver medal at Masters Track Natz in Colorado Springs.. he was beat by one of the fastest around regardless of age.. Kenny Williams. Hoping to see more hardware from our boyz out there.
I started to feel the positive effects of my FH50 form with a couple good rides on the fixed gear and even pulled off a surprise win at the NSC Velodrome Thursday Night Lights last week. I rolled a season PR falling 2 seconds shy of my overall PR of 14:05 on the perfect night on Black Dog Road. I finally took a win with a 14:07. The next evening I edged out Dan Casper, who was doing some final prep for Master Natz, in a 3k Grudge Match pursuit. It was a surprise to me to beat him but we were both a little disappointed with our times. A little later I felt recovered enough to do the 80 lap points race. It was fast from the gun with Adam Bergman setting a fast pace. I sat in the back nervously as it was my first pack event this season. As racers tired I moved up and timed an attack perfectly and grabbed a lap on the field and a 5 point prime in the process earning 25 points which held all the way to the finish. I had no idea until Jim Cullen said “nice win timmer!” and Bob Williams made the announcemet shortly thereafter. The legs were puffy and tired at Saturday’s Birchwood road race but it was a great race and even better course and I took a lazy 3rd to Tony Olson and Dewey Dickey. Stick and Adam Big Blonde Hanson both rode impressively making the decisive break on a hot day. Sunday the legs were even more puffy and tired just in time for the State Track timed Events (pursuits). I had a sluggish Kilo for 4th then rolled a decent time to third (4:58) behind a blazing Brian Crosby (4:50) and Dan Casper (4:55) who were matched up for the fastest pairing on a windy day. I put the front brake back on the fixi for the TNT finale on Tuesday night and a last chance at a season PR on this rolling and demanding course. I felt better than ever and rolled an ok time (23:28) but lost 30 seconds to new course record holder Jonathan Toftoy.
So, yes, a lot of racing and I ain’t done yet. Saturday is the ROY finale road race up in Avon, MN. A great course and hoping the field is decent. Then the Withrow finale tt. I highly recommend this event to anyone who hasn’t ridden this great tt course. Deetz HERE. This followed by the Wednesday night Black Dog TT finale. No season would be complete without it. Another Thursday Night Lights then another weekend of racing starting with the Big Ring Fliers TT. Another great TT course and the MN State Road Race on Sunday. I’m hoping to make the Thursday Night Lights events for the remainder of the season and I hope mother nature obliges.
I’m light on current pics so i’ll simply post this one since this is how my legs feel:
I was able to hit a nice ‘peak’ in what has been a roller coaster season and win my 6th Firehouse 50 time trial in as many years. This was a tough one. Leading up to the event I knew I was hitting a peak but the mental toughness had eluded me, motivation was low. Not sure why. I was able to post a fast Black Dog time on the previous Wednesday which gave me a glimmer of hope that I may be able to ride a fast 50 miler if I got all my ducks in a row. I was, and still am, shocked how fast the race crept up on me. WTF happened to July? My times were consistent and improving in the shorter events and the fixed gear helped dial up the cadence some. But the late season State TT was a disappointment. So, going into the last week of prep I simply stayed on my pre-FH50 schedule and hoped for the best from my legs and lungs on race day. Larry Foss at the Fix put the finishing touch on my legs while my buddy Randy and the Gibbs’ family put my mind at ease with true Wisconsin hospitality. Everything fell into place except the weather. I heard the wind blowing at 3 am when pre-race anxiety kept me from sleeping, as it always does, for fear of over sleeping the 5:20 am alarm. Squals of rain were blasting through the region and it looked to be an epic event but a course record was out of question further sinking my motivation. Stick and Elise had my VIP spot reserved near the start and all ducks were lining up for an 8:12 am start time. I made the perfect pre-race wheel choice rolling Conti attack tires on my HED3 front, Jet Disc rear. I opted for the HED3 front, a better choice when wind is part of the aerodynamic equation. I wan’t too concerned with the start order but saw an old familiar name 30 seconds behind me, Nick Robertson, former Black Dog record holder (13:49) and member of a previous 4-person winning team. So he knows the roads and has tt savy, but lacked the fitness and rode for fun and I suspect he’ll return to form soon. So, I had the race and roads to myself and stayed in ‘control of the panic’. Former Postal rider and National TT champ, Dylan Casey, referred to time trailling as a ‘controlled panic’ and it has always stuck with me.. when you lose control of the panic you’ve lost your best tt performance. Early on I was passing my 30 second men Stick LaVick and Dave Ludwigson when a moderate sized black bear crossed right in front of us. It sobered me up some and kept me alert for the rest of the race. Animals were on the move. I got into a nice rythm and the wind didn’t affect me until about the Telemark Lodge entrance about 22 miles in. It was like a wall but once at Cable the push was welcomed. I jammed through Lake Owen drive a little better than in years past and a new stretch of black top was a welcome relief from this rustic road. The home stretch on hwy 62 was all tailwind, 54×11 and all gas Left in the tank was vaporized rolling a 1:52:40 for my second fastest time in 6 attempts. The race itself was a mental roller coaster for me. I was dealing with some saddle sore pain and heart breaking weather conditions. I thought about what I would be doing in 24 hours and walking my dog seemed so far away. I would start to hate it. Then I would get a sense of my speed and how physiologically I was on my game and I would fall in love with it again. When you are really ripping you are always on the verge of giving up on yourself.. unfortunately that’s when you ride your best.
After numerous defeats I finally took time out of Casper. It was another bluster time trial this time at the Ride n Glide TT in Withrow. Dan’s has had a brilliant season and has figured out one key element; think less. It’s somethin I’ve been harping for years.. well two or three anyway when I decided to ‘unplug’ and race on feel. Not only have we both unplugged but we both have taken the next step in ‘feeling’ a time trial by riding fixed gear tt bikes. My best performances this year have come on the fixi.. in shorter events though; Black Dog, TNT and Withrow. Last night Dan may have been undergeared opting to use his pursuit gear (51-14) for pursuit training and perhaps to battle the nasty headwind when riding south on the 3rd leg on Manning Blvd. However, the tailwind was overwhelming for even my 50-13.. But i do feel like I’m coming around. Age may have something to do with the late start. I also rode my coveted HED3 wheelset and no control issues. Dan opting for conventional front, disc rear. The battle continues tonight at Black Dog then it’s time to start preppin’ for FH50 where I won’t be riding the fixi btw.