Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Shut Up Hour"

It sure did. It was super exciting to watch Jens Voigt challenge and take the Hour Record today. They were reporting his hear rate at 170 at about a half hour in, and I have to admit mine was probably higher with excitement!

The timing was perfect, 12:00pm Central Time meant I could watch the whole thing live and guilt free during my lunch break.

The whole event was a delight. I appreciated the Twittersphere exploding with enthusiasm, seeing the live reactions, and the photos posted by people who were there, especially those of Voigt interacting with family and loved ones afterwards. I grabbed a few screenshots from the comfort of my office chair. 

He scored a coup. No matter how long or short this record stands, he has made it relevant to the riders and special to the fans - partly just because it was Jens.














Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hour Record


Contre la Montre

One of the things that I have been anticipating this year is someone making an attempt at the hour record. With the UCI recently reviewing (and updating) the rules for the hour record, there was a lot of speculation about who would be the first to take it on. Chief among the candidates were Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins. Cancellara seemed to be in if the rules stayed with the Merckx standard, Wiggo if the rules went to current UCI time trial equipment standards – which they did.

But once the new rules were announced, everyone seemed to balk and I thought we would have to wait a while. Until Jens Voigt announced on September 3 that he would be the first to attempt it under the new rules. So on September 18, 2014, tomorrow, he will make an attempt. I remember seeing his tweet and wondering if someone had hacked his account. They have probably been working on this for a while, but the beauty in the timing is that we would not have to wait long – and no one will jump in ahead of him.


And the one currently on Trek's site: 
http://www.trekfactoryracing.com/news/jens-voigt-targets-hour-record-september-18

Cycling Weekly did a nice piece earlier in the week which I recommend discussing why the attempt matters. I think it is just the thing to get folks excited about it, and he is just the right type to do it. Without controversy, everyone will be able to cheer him on. Even the Wall Street Journal, which I never would have thought to publish a soft ball article on cycling, put out a nice tribute to the Jensie on what will be his final professional bike riding feat.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Jesse James 2014


I did the Jesse James Bike Tour this past weekend for the second year in a row. My friend Geoff and I had a little late start getting on the road because the night prior I had the damndest time trying to mount my slicks. Looking back, I should have been okay with my Rubino Pros on this century ride, but I have recently been running ThickSlick Sports for a little added puncture protection. The only problem is that the bead on the ThickSlick is so tight that I have found it near impossible to put on, and just I couldn’t get the rear one mounted. It was late, I was too tired, and so I gave up - cleaned and lubed the rest of the bike and figured I would wait until I could get an extra hand in the morning. 

5 a.m. came too early – and when Geoff arrived I was still a zombie and not nearly ready to go. He found a trick to getting the tire on, though. Mounted the tire “backwards”… putting the section by the stem on last.  I would not have thought of that, but it worked. We finally hit the road at around 6:30, a half hour later than planned, then proceeded to get lost trying to follow the many detours for getting on to 35E (every exit from every direction seems to be closed).  So we arrived in Northfield late, but were able to meet my other friends McKay and Natania and get underway at the 8:00 cutoff time. 

A little chilly at the start, it ended up being a beautiful sunny 70° throughout the day. Northfield is a nice little town. The course starts and ends at the high school and goes briefly through a suburban feeling part of Northfield and then into vast farm country for about 35 miles southeast to Wanamingo (don’t ask me to pronounce it), turning west and going through Kenyon to Faribault, then back north through Dundas to Northfield. The highways are remote and well cared for, with very little traffic – which made for nice riding. 



McKay and Natania recently moved to Minnesota from the Intermountain West and they commented on how different the farm country felt – corn and soybeans as far as the eye could see – even the barns are built differently. McKay grew up in Idaho where he is probably more accustomed root cellars, and I have no idea what sorts of structures pepper the Arizona desert where Natania grew up. They did not say it, but I am sure they were also wondering at the lack of mountains on the landscape after recently living in Utah. 
 


One of the things I enjoy most about long group rides is the random chatter. Avoiding politics and religion (somewhat) we always end up talking about bikes and bike racing – at least I do. This time it was about sunglasses and what we’ve seen the pros do with them during races (after I nearly dropped my own on the pavement). I have seen Alberto Contador ride with them tucked into the collar of his jersey on occasion; Peter Sagan carried them in his mouth on while riding on muddy cobblestones during this year’s TDF Stage 5; but many have them tucked into their helmets, often with special clips to keep them in place. 




Random conversation that morphs into talk of Contador’s unexpected dominance at the Tour of Spain after breaking his leg during the Tour de France six weeks prior, and invariably lands on PEDs and what Lance Armstrong is up to these days. We talked about lots of other day to day things that have become a blur summed up in the emotion of a fun group ride.


The chatter was broken up by the wind, and we went long stretches in a quiet pace line as we tried to cut through it. We took turns leading, but Geoff definitely did the lion’s share and I didn’t complain as I skulked behind. The sound of the wind was so strong that the leader would have to check regularly to make sure the group was together. 






At about 50 miles I was worried that Natania was on the verge of bonking. I was bringing up the rear with her in front of me when a gap opened up and we lost contact with McKay and Geoff. They hadn’t realized that we had been dropped; I tried pacing Natania back a couple of times but she was slipping. Fortunately it was just before the point when the course took a turn north and we shifted relative to the wind so that the going was easier again. McKay then saw what was happening and he dropped back to support his wife. We were now riding easier and she was able to recover and was strong for the rest of the ride.



My own troubles started at about mile 85, when my knee started screaming. In Jens Voigt fashion I told it “Shut up knee!” and pedaled on.

“In Garmin We Trust”
As we neared the finish, it became clear to us that the ride organizers had miscalculated the distance at 94 miles. We decided to put our faith in our own GPS devices and turned a few heads as we rode past the finish line. I noticed others doing the 100 mile “Getaway” ride following us as we circled the neighborhood for another 6 miles so that we could put on miles to reach our goal. Geoff’s Garmin rolled to 100 just as he hit the curb after we circled back to the finish line – so we called it good at 6 hours and 33 minutes.











Sunday, August 31, 2014

August

I keep hearing the "end of summer" marketing rumblings... Apparently summer is ending early this year with. Labor Day falling on September 1. A sad thought. August hasn't exactly been the best month for me to soak it up though: closed on a house and moved a few weeks ago. When not unpacking boxes, shopping for new appliances, and doing all the chores and administrative odds and ends that come with homeownership, I have really enjoyed exploring on my bike, especially pulling the twins around.


We stopped to watch a train; the sound was a bit much for Anders.

The commute has been great too. Landed in a northern suburb, and mornings by the quiet lake feel like north woods territory. I miss a lot about  Minneapolis, but I am getting used to the nice sliver of wilderness here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Epic of Epic

The TDF is epic, and this year was particularly epic from start to finish. When other great riders faltered with bad luck, Vincenzo Nibali was flawless and fun to watch. 


























Monday, July 21, 2014

TDF Rest Day Catch Up

Between my day job and my dad job, plus wanting to spend my own time in the saddle, it is had to keep up with the daily awesomeness that is the Tour de France. So I relish the rest days almost as much as the riders... Well probably not close, but it is a good time to catch up because I am usually a stage behind - and avoiding the internet spoilers like the plague. So if you don't mind my sharing, I am going to list some memorable moments (to me at least) - as soon as I have the time. 



Andrew Talansky holding on just inside the elimination time after  a massive crash - and being plagued with crashes this Tour - was one of those heroic feats of drama that makes the Tour so much fun to watch.


I had a feeling that it was the Bulldog's pride that kept him from climbing into that Broom Wagon behind him. I would have been surprised by the look of things if he had continued the next day. Chapeau all the same!