Mark — SkiBikeJunkie in the comments here and in his own blog — is one of the people I met on the blog before I met him in real life. And when I met him for the first time in real life, I was not exactly lucid — I had in fact just finished riding my bike for 20 hours and was on the well-charred side of cooked.
But still, I appreciated the fact that he had waited around in the parking lot all that time, and had brought me some ice cream. And I appreciated even more the fact that he somehow knew how much I love ice cream after an epic ride. Soft-serve is the best recovery food ever. Or an ice cream sandwich. Or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Or a chocolate milkshake.
I think you get my drift.
Anyway, a few days later, Mark was visiting the area, looking for a job and a house, and I took him on a ride. He was slow — even beat from a huge ride, I still had to take it easy for him to stay close.
But things have changed a bit since then.
For one thing, he’s moved to Utah, buying a house in the cyclist commune known as Suncrest. And for another thing, he’s gone from being a slowpoke to being able to drop me at will.
Which means, naturally, that whenever I see Mark, I see nothing but a giant target (which is not to imply that Mark suffers from gigantism. He does not.). A guy who used to be much slower than me who is now faster than me? Man, that’s a slap in the face.
And then there’s the fact that while Mark’s faster than me, he’s not radically faster than me. See, Brad is now so much faster than I am that if he’s riding with me, I know it’s because he’s taking a rest day. If Brad decides to ride away at speed, the gap between us expands so quickly that there’s an observable Doppler redshift.
That redshift gag was awesome, by the way. Trust me on that. Try it on your friends. They’ll think it’s hilarious.
Anyway, my point was that while Mark’s faster than I am, he’s not so much faster that I just give up hope. He’s attainable.
Mark is, in short, now a human rabbit, as far as I am concerned.
Last Friday, a good-sized group of us rode to the summit of the Alpine Loop and back. I wore the helmetcam — I love seeing how people wince as I join a ride and they see me wearing this big ol’ skate helmet with a lens and cable hanging off the side.
Oh, and I remembered to make sure the lens cap was off, the batteries were fresh, and to lock the keypad once I had started recording. I’m learning.
And so now I have video of the group ride, and of me trying desperately to catch — or simply keep in sight — Mark. As a word of warning, the soundtrack is “Gypsy Road,” performed by the Hair Metal band “Cinderella.” This is due to the fact that Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) was talking about what a great riding song it was, shortly before he rode away off the front, never to be seen again (at least, not until the summit).
Well, what do you know. “Gypsy Road” is a great song for that video. And I apparently look straight down when I’m sprinting, which does not necessarily make great video.
PS: Seven more pounds, and I will catch that wabbit.
PPS: There seems to be an ongoing debate on whether the road on this ride was “wet” or merely “damp.” Please feel free to weigh in with your assessment, based on what you see here.
Suppose your house is on fire. Everyone’s out safe and you’ve got time to run inside and grab one or two things (yeah, I know, in a real fire it’s a bad idea to go back inside for anything, but this is hypothetical, so cut me some slack). What do you go get?
For me, the answer’s both easy and obvious: I grab the two originals my sister Lori has painted for my family (the half-dozen or so prints we have of her work can be replaced).
First, there’s the painting Lori gave to Susan and me when the twins were born:
And next would be the painting she made especially for Susan upon finding Susan has cancer:
These (cameraphone) pictures don’t even come close to doing Lori’s work justice, but I wanted to show them off anyway. These are — absolutely literally — our two most-prized family possessions.
Lori painted these years and years ago, and her style has evolved quite a bit since then. Take a moment and check out the gallery on her site. Here’s one of my favorites of hers, titled “Fun Mom:”
Lori lives in Brooklyn right now, but occasionally she’ll still come to Salt Lake and do a show. When she does, all of her art sells out. Immediately.
Yeah, you can tell I’m kind of a proud brother, huh?
Lori’s paintings routinely sell for $5000 – $15,000, so — when combined with the fact that this prize will be intensely personal for whoever wins it — I don’t think I’m at all going out on a limb when I say this is definitely the best prize that’s ever been part of the Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge. Go to Jodi’s blog right now to learn how to win.
Tickets to theColbert Report?. These are otherwise impossible to get without spending some serious quality time with a scalper.
Tickets to the New York Red Carpet premier of Martin Scorsese-directed movie“Shutter Island“, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Williams. Watch this preview video and get freaked out a little bit.
Tickets to Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows atAll Points West, featuring Beastie Boys, Tool, Coldplay, My Bloody Valentine and about 80 other bands?.
Well. It’ nice to see that Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel evidently read my blog, from which they have learned that they are bringing four toppity-top GC guys to the Tour de France (which I choose to abbreviate as TdF).
“It’s hard to find a better stage race rider than Alberto,” said team manager Johan Bruyneel of the 2007 Tour winner.
“He has worked very hard, earning the right to represent our team as the leader in July.”
So. There you have it. Everything’s settled. Thanks to me. I am so glad there are people like me in the world to identify and solve the world’s problems
Which means it’s time for us to start obsessing over something else TdF-related. Specifically, it’s time for us to start making predictions of what’s going to happen at this year.
I’ll go first.
There will be an (attempted) official baton passing. During the first regular (non TT) stage, Armstrong will pull a wooden dowel, wrapped in yellow electrical tape, out of his jersey pocket and offer it to Contador. It will be a highly symbolic gesture, and Phil will swoon as Paul tries to do the moment justice. Meanwhile, Contador will have no idea whatsoever Armstrong is trying to convey and will wave away the baton. Armstrong will shrug and put the baton back in his pocket. Misreading this combination of actions, Phil and Paul will endlessly discuss whether Contador refused the talisman out of humility or contempt. Versus will show the attempted handoff ten thousand times.
Versus will completely ignore that Armstrong is riding in a support role. They will make each and every single one of their promos about him, heavily featuring a count from 1 through 7, then ending with an explosive 8. Casual viewers will not be aware that there is anyone else riding in this Tour de France, and will have the impression that Armstrong is doing it solo.
The Team Time Trial will be one of the very best stages. I say this without irony or (attempted) comedy. I love watching Team Time Trials on their own, and I think that Astana is set for a very fast time. I think, however, that Garmin-Slipstream will beat them, and there will be pandemonium in my family room. And possibly elsewhere.
Exactly two people will be caught doping. I do not know which two. They will not, however, be from the same team.
Two people from Astana will end up on the podium in Paris. Those two people will be Contador and Armstrong. Contador will win, Armstrong will take third. I do not know who will take second, but have a hunch it will be Cadel Evans. I have to say, though, it would be pretty extraordinary if Astana swept the podium. Has a team ever done that before? Would you or would you not flip your wig if it happened this year?
I’ll get all nostalgic. The moment Armstrong drops back to get water bottles for Contador, I’ll get all misty and will suddenly and deeply feel deep in my heart that we are all mortal. Except Cipollini, of course.
I will not watch any of the flat stages live. I intend to liveblog some of the stages, but I will Tivo the flat stages, and will spend on average half an hour fast forwarding through the whole stage, scanning just slowly enough that I’ll be able to recognize when there’s been a crash. I will probably not even mention these stages in my blog, because really, what’s to say?
My fitness will falter. The TdF happens at the same time of day I have carved out for riding my bike. If, during this time, I am instead sitting on the couch eating bowl after bowl of cereal, do you think I’ll gain weight? No, that’s just silly!
My children will ask if they can watch something else,please. And I will say “no.”
Feel free to agree with me and provide supporting evidence in the comments section. Thank you.
PS: More importantly than all of the above, I have browbeaten Joe Lindsey into adding me to his blogroll. Now all I need to do is get Bike Snob NYC to add me to his blogroll (yes, he has a blogroll, but it’s very well hidden; this renders its usefulness questionable at best), and my quest for world domination will be complete
The Tour de France (TdF) is approaching, more and more rapidly. Seriously, it’s approaching increasingly rapidly. The Doppler effect is as undeniable as it is distressing. And as the TdF approaches (at a very alarming rate), I am resuming my annual tradition of getting wound up about the Tour.
And I would like you to now get wound up with me.
Today’s topic for wound-uppedness is General Classification riders (GC), the guys in the race who hope to stand on the podium at the end of the Tour. GC racers are protected by their teammates, given assistance at critical stages of the race so that they can finish the Tour in the least time possible. In order for a GC racer to do well, the rest of the team must often be willing to sacrifice personal glory — the winning of a stage or improving their time by joining a breakaway, for example.
A cohesive team is crucial to the success of a GC rider in the Tour. With that in mind, here are some GC racers you’ll want to keep your eye on this year:
There is, alas, something very peculiar about this list I would like to point out to you: all four of these riders are on the same team!
Yes, I know. It made me do a double-take too. Frankly, I was so freaked out yesterday when I noticed this for the first time that I quickly Twittered a note to Johan Bruyneel, the full text of which I hereby relay to you:
Hey, just noticed you have four top GC guys in your TdF lineup. D’oh!!!1ONE!!
I’m expecting his tweeted reply, but wouldn’t be surprised if it takes him a while, because now that he knows, I’ll bet anything that he is scrambling for a solution.
Disharmony On the Postal Discovery Astana Bus
Thinking I’d better take my discovery all the way to the top, I started composing a tweet to Lance himself, the thrust of which was the fact that there were three other guys on the same team as him, each likely with TdF aspirations of his own.
But then, after finishing the third draft of my tweet to Lance (when you tweet Lance, you want to make darn sure you get it just right), I took a break and did a little reading at one of my favorite blogs — Joe Lindsey’s Boulder Report on Bicycling.com. And yes, it really is one of my favorte blogs, and it does not bother me even a little bit that Lindsey blogrolls Bike Snob NYC, but not me. After all, they’re coworkers. And it also does not bother me that Lindsey blogrolls Trust but Verifybut not me, even though Trust But Verify has been inactive for half a year. Why would that bother me?
I’m sorry, I seem to have lost the thread of my post. Give me a moment. OK, there we are.
In his very excellent blog (in spite of the absence of certain very popular and award-winning cycling blogs in his blogroll, as if Bicycling.com were perhaps too good to link to aforementioned very popular and award winning cycling blog), Lindsey dishes a scoop that is as earth-shattering as it is stunning:
Astana is far from a cohesive unit. Although the strongest team in the race on paper, with Armstrong, Contador, Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden all confirmed to start, their internal divisions could fracture the team and cost them the Tour de France.
Internal divisions? Internal divisions?! This must end. Now. Team Astana needs to be functioning like a well-oiled machine (but not too much oil, or the rear derailleur will get all gummed up), not like a bunch of squabbling children. Or — perhaps more accurately — like squabbling professional athletes, one of which is the most accomplished grand tour racer in a generation, another of which is a 3x grand tour winner at the very top of his game, and the other two of which are TdF podium alumni with aspirations of their own.
Not only is it impossible for all four of these guys from the same team win the TdF, these four guys from the same team can’t all even get on the podium.
Gee, why can’t they simply get along?
Well, they’re going to have to. And I’m just the right person to help.
In other words, I am finally getting to the bullet list that was the point of this post in the first place. Given the opportunity, it turns out that I can be incredibly long-winded.
Techniques for Resolving Inter-Team Strife
The two methods currently being entertained by the Astana GC racers to determine who will be The Chosen One during the Tour de France are as follows:
The Sullen Transfer: Lindsey’s (tragically misblogrolled) article notes that Contador was considering making the jump to Garmin-Slipstream. Which I have to admit would be totally awesome, but only if he makes the jump right in the middle of the race. Picture it: he’s riding along as if he’s in support of Lance. Contador’s leading Armstrong up a steep mountain pass. All’s well with the world. And then suddenly — BAM! — Contador rips off his Astana jersey (which has been pre-perforated for easy tearing) to reveal a Garmin-Slipstream jersey! Suddenly, Armstrong’s domestique is his rival! The pandemonium is so complete that Phil Liggett makes up a new quirky metaphor featuring a chameleon and carry-on luggage on the spot.
The Slug It Out At Game Time Method: The racers can simply attack each other over and over during the race itself, letting attrition choose the ultimate winner. While this would make potentially the most awesome television ever, it’s also theoretically possible that some other team might take advantage of the wasted energy from Astana infighting. Naaah.
The problem with both these coping mechanisms is that they both suck.
Instead, to resolve their team conflicts, I would like to suggest using any — or better yet, some combination — of the following:
Jenga Tournament: First guy to knock down the tower’s the bottle carrier. Second guy to knock down the tower gets to wear the yellow jersey, but only for the first half of the Tour. Third guy gets to be the Jenga champ’s lead-out guy (lots of TV time). The Jenga champ gets to be the champ. Unless someone else on a different team is better at Jenga. Or is faster, somehow.
Take it to Court: Do it the American way: put it before a judge. I’m going to have to institute a couple of unorthodox rules, though. First, everyone has to represent themselves. This is to keep those who might happen to be very very very very wealthy from bringing in a whole bevy of lawyers. Second, three-day trial limit, and no appeals. Otherwise, there’s no way this thing will be over before the Tour de France begins. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be over before the 2010 Tour begins.
Ultimate Fighting Deathmatch. Four GCs enter. One GC leaves (and suddenly there are three new spots open in the Astana TdF roster). Let’s find out which of these guys really has the most fight in him.
Pageant: Consisting of eveningwear, bathing suit, congeniality and talent competitions, this pageant will prove once and for all which of these four are just good at riding bikes, and which is truly a contender.
Take it to the Limit: Instead of a team consisting of four GC alpha dogs, how about a team featuring nothing but GC riders? Bring in Vande Velde. Sastre and Evans, too. Ask Ulrich and Landis if they’d like another shot at the title. They’ve got time to train. And then try to tell me this wouldn’t be the most awesomely wacky Tour ever.
It took some time, but I managed to condense all these suggestions into 140 characters, which — just to be safe — I sent as a direct tweet to both Johan and Lance.
One of the things that impresses me most about the Lance Armstrong Foundation is the people there. Every single one of them cares. Deeply. I haven’t talked with a single person there who doesn’t convey a sense of mission about what they do.
So I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when AnneMarie, who had ultimate responsibility for the Seattle LiveStrong Challenge, still took the time to make this video from the starting line:
But I am surprised, and touched. Thanks, AnneMarie, and thanks Team Fatty for keeping Susan and me in your thoughts even from the starting line. That means a lot.
And now, Steve Peterson’s — you know him as ClydeSteve, and as the Co-Captain of Team Fattty-Seattle — ride report.
ClydeSteve’s LiveSTRONG Seattle Ride Report
News flash – The Devil lies! In this picture he was all high fives and encouraging.
But he later proved himself to be the father of lies. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
The Petersons and Tiscornias had seven participants in the 2009 Seattle LiveSTRONG Challenge, and I feared we would find it a challenge just to get there. Not so. All participants were lined up with Team Fatty on time, and the Team Fatty banner even got to the starting gate in time for official event photos. Daniel & I parked our bike against the announcer’s booth and headed for the Starbucks tent. We were shocked, SHOCKED, to be served instant coffee by Starbucks in Seattle. Irony upon irony. But I love irony.
I had met a number of team members for the first time the day prior, at the team BBQ and presentation dinner. Here we are accepting one of our Top Team awards:
This was a chance to meet a few more. It would be good to be as gregarious as my son Daniel, and remember the names with the faces, but it wouldn’t be me. I won’t try to tell something special about every team member I met, because there were a lot of special stories and great people. I would mix things up.
David Lazar provided a treat for the Chippendales set by, apparently getting his entire kit on in the front of the starting line. That is only a rumor, but when I glanced over to the left, he was adjusting bib straps and had not yet donned his jersey.
Nick Abbott, I believe, wisecracked that he didn’t realize it was THAT kind of show. I am not certain whether there was any public spalming, I averted my eyes.
At the starting gun we were off. Scott Peterson and Tim Tiscornia thought it a great idea to keep up with the shiny yellow pace car with flashing rear lights, and Team Fatty all agreed as we madly careened down 2nd. It was a bit disappointing that the pace car seemed so unsure of itself. It was just going too slow. In fact, we were pretty sure he was lost so we headed down 2nd and the fake pace car, now clearly a Team Microsoft Resources plot, suddenly veered uphill. We ignored this until we looked up various cross streets ranging from Pike to Columbia and saw the rest of the riders streaming along 5th street, which, in Seattle, is about 1900 feet above 2nd street.
The tunnels on the I-90 expressway were a blast, but I did not need my dark glasses. A good portion of the I-90 floating bridge was downhill.
Well the part from the top, down to the water was downhill. The other parts were flat or uphill. But it all seemed downhill to me, and fast.
Mercer Island was a complete blast. Rolling hills and tight curves, it was better than the Mad Mouse roller coaster. If illicit substances could even come close, I would be in trouble. Jane Tiscornia had an unauthorized Power Stop set up for us with all the kids cheering all the bikes, so we skipped Rest stop #1. I wisely dropped my arm & leg warmers off, having already shed my rain/wind shell because it was nice right then. This is the kind of forward thinking that brings me into important leadership positions.
Scott had a flat just prior to the place on East Mercer where we entered the bike path to cross over the east bridge, and I had the opportunity to do my patented 92-second-bare-hands-and-CO2 tube swap. We even remembered to find the glass shard in the tire casing. I’m glad it was shiny.
We rolled our eyes at the thought of giving up elevation to go down to rest stop #2 at Newcastle Beach Park, and parted ways at the intersection where the 45-mile and 100-mile intersections split. I said goodbye to Scott, Daniel and Tim. I can’t tell you how much it meant to roll with Scott. He is living, riding and having fun. When I rode in the 2003 Tour of Hope metric century, I cried about half the way, riding for my brother I thought might not live long enough for me to see again. This was better.
The next section was May Valley Road, which was pretty and really seemed to pass quickly. I think I stopped at rest stop #3 to refill my water bottles and eat M&Ms and some other candy bar disguised as an expensive and healthy energy packed necessity. The Tiger Mountain loop was really not too hard. It was only a 9-mile loop, and not that long or steep, but I got a nice burn going and got warmed up. I worked with a Microsoft guy for a while going up and he set a high cadence at a pace just a little faster than comfortable. That is what I need when I have a set of low gears on and the road isn’t smack you in the face steep, or else I will get lazy.
Next the road headed for a trip around Lake Sammamish. It’s funny, I grew up hearing all of these weird sounding NA place names, and I can pronounce them like a local, but I left the Seattle area before I started to drive. I never really figured out where a lot of these mysterious sounding places were. It’s fun riding them. Well, actually there was a hill in there before we got to the lake that wasn’t that much fun. It was pretty steep, and long enough to get me soaked from sweat.
No problem, the descent and the flat trip around the Lake was wet and chilly enough to cool me right down. Man, those T-6 arm warmers would really not have taken up much room in my pockets. The rain shell would have, but I would not have complained.
I saw Team Fatty guys every so often and tried to interview some of them about important questions of their riding career. I would have liked to work together with someone in this section for the company, but frankly, the road grit in my face and yes, my mouth was not worth it. I think a few people; one guy in particular, liked drafting behind me with full Planet Bike Freddy Fenders and mud flaps. He can thank Kent Peterson, on whose advice I relied for that. Those fenders were my best decision of gear not to remove during the ride.
I got to rest stop 5 at Marymoor Park and ate a chocolate bar that was overpriced for tasteless wax, and a Luna Lemon Zest flavor woman-specific energy/health/candy bar. They are delicious. I worry some about the natural soy-based estrogen content, and whether it causes moob growth. But I try not to think about that.
I had a decision to make at rest stop 5. #1 or #3? I made the right decision, but bib shorts are a hindrance at times. And the restrooms at the park were a clear advantage over portapottys. A place to hang your jersey right side up so all the stuff does not fall out. Well there was one problem with the auto-flush toilet, but that belongs in Dugs blog, and he wasn’t there for the review. You will have to write for more details.
I met up with Matt (Ibis Silk) Kreger , Jeremy Everitt, and Jon Schwartz in Marymoor, and we rode out together. We caught up with Kent Peterson coming south on the flip side of Sammamish. Kent & I agree that Elden’s inability to properly clear his nose has caused some lifetime volume underperformance on his part. I am intrigued by single speeds, so it was fun to talk to Kent who has been riding them for about 10 years. But he has to climb faster or die. There was a hill somewhere, and I turned around and Kent was gone. But Montreaux was still there.
I had an inauspicious start to dreaded big climb. There is kind of a sharp turn coming in, and I like to carve turns and accelerate out of them so I sped up, carved, spazzed out by upshifting too much and hit a wall disguised as a hill on a normal road in some creepy gear like 52×16. And stopped. I had to wait for traffic so I could go sideways to start up. Which I deserved.
I like spinning low gears up really steep hills. Because a) I can’t spin high gears up them, and b) I despise walking up steep hills pushing a bike, especially in cycling shoes. But there is a limit. I think it was somewhere close to this limit when Jon or Matt yelled – “NOW is when you could use some of that high volume Green Day for climbing!” I tried to sing “Do You Know Your Enemy? DoYouKnowYourEnemy? Yes I Know My Enemy ThisHillIsMyEnemy Oh Yeah!” in time to my cadence, but something else came out and the medical people did a quick triage assessment and dropped a bleeding man with a compound fracture to come help the old guy (me) having a seizure. Maybe not. I couldn’t actually see past the spots swimming in front of my eyes at the time. If you are listening to the music video I linked right now, imagine me climbing in cadence to that song! My breathing cadence, not my pedaling cadence. It was like that.
I go up a hill on my commute where I have to hold the front of the brake hoods to prevent a wheelie. But it is shorter than Montreaux. And it does not have the Devil taunting me, lying to me. He was about halfway up Montreaux encouraging all the cyclists:
“See those yellow flags just 25 feet higher? That’s your summit – go for it!”
Well it wasn’t. As we discussed whether it would be worthwhile to go mug the Devil and send him to a bad place he would not like, Jeremy reminded us of a profound truth:
“The Devil always lies – You learned that in Sunday School.” Word.
And another thing – It was hot and sunny out during the Montreaux climb. What’s up with that? This whole big lake and only the steep hill is hot and sunny?
I weigh 207 and have a big 63cm bike with stuff on it. Fenders, handlebar bag full of inner tubes and CO2s and candy, pump, a curling iron, and a boat anchor. I descend like a bowling ball. I pass people on the next rise still in a tuck while they are all out of momentum and pedaling hard on the ascent. It’s a Clydesdale thing. And eventually I kept going on ahead when the other guys stopped to smile about how much fun the descent was, I guess. I just got bugs in my teeth all the way down to Lake Washington.
I kept descending past rest stops 6 and 7 all the way to Renton. Know what? There is a difference in attentiveness between the cops in Renton and the cops in Mercer Island. You know they had your safety in mind at every intersection in Mercer Island. I’m thinking it was doughnuts and coffee inside the squad car on the minds of Renton cops.
Someplace on Rainier Avenue, There was a sudden outburst of precipitation. I am a northwest boy, born in Seattle, raised in Oregon. These are the places where rain is made and shipped out to the world in limited quantities, because we like to keep it for ourselves. But I found it remarkable for volume, size of hail and raindrops and, thankfully short duration. I rode through it, glad for my fenders, but the vents on my helmet were filling with hail! It’s like having a personal refrigerator on your balding top, when you are looking for one of those propane salamanders they put on the field when teams play Buffalo in a snowstorm.
Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard were very beautiful. Everyone was out in the sun, strolling along the lake as if there had never been this weird hail and fat rain storm. I was all alone just poking along dodging little kids with training wheels. I eventually realized that none of the other cyclists had race number bibs on, especially the ones going the wrong way. I had that feeling, so I pulled out my wet slimy map for the first time, and verified I was still on the track.
Blew by rest stop 8. Phhttt! Who needs a rest stop 7 miles from the end of the course? Someone about to wheelie up those freestyle launching pads they put in the course, that’s who! I had just called my family a mile ago and told them I was 8 miles out and would be there in about 20-30 minutes. A couple of ramps later I was doing 4mph, 4 miles out, and wondered if I was an hour from the finish.
Dodged a double bus on 3rd, which almost pulled over a guy on a ‘bent – Hope it wasn’t Leif Zimmerman – and just about had my front wheel modified by cars careening down Bell Street.
At the finish, my whole family was there to cheer me. As if I had done something.
Team Fat Cyclist, on the other hand, did something big, and I was privileged to be a part of it. If any of you are ever in the mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon and want to ride my gauntlet, or just cruise the Valley flats along the river, let me know. I did not meet one of you I wouldn’t ride with.
PS:email me if you only have one of your Team Fatty 2009 socks. I have the other one, and it is clean now.