Monday, April 30, 2007


Guys used to come into the bike shop in Fayetteville. It was always the same story: the time was early August; in walked a late-twenties/early thirties GI; fit looking and he would say, "I'd like to get a road bike. I just watched the Tour de France and I'm thinking about racing that next year." That crap never ceased to kill at the shop. I mean how ridiculous?

Well, fast forward fifteen years and now, that seems like an almost reasonable proposition given the huge swath that Operacion Puerto II: Electric Boogaloo is cutting through the peloton. Poor, alien Ivan Basso: we hardly knew ye. Yep, ol' Ivan has "voluntarily" left his contract with Disco'. Tyler and Jorg Jaksche are being further besmirched. Who will be left to actually start the Grand Tours?

I'm gonna start researching all of the domestiques to make my picks for the overall! Could this be Thomas Voeckler's year? Jimmy Caspar? Sebastien Hinault? Suddenly, the french riders are starting to look positively resurgent in their chances to win their home tour for the first time in 22 years! Maybe the peloton will become so decimated that riders will have to come out of retirement in a sort of glory days Tour! Imagine if Merckx, Lemond, Fignon, Hampsten, Poulidor, and every other hero of the past pulled on his kit or squeezed into in the case of some (yes, I'm calling you out Lemond, you puffy bastard...) and belly up to the line! This could be the most exciting Tour ever!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Killer strikes

Danilo "the killer" DiLuca won Liege-Bastogne-Liege today. He pipped a huge field with a late surge to catch, and subsequently drop, Frank Schleck like a bad habit. This rounds out the true spring classics and now all eyes will turn to il Giro.

One guy who probably won't be toeing the line will be defending champ, Ivan Basso. I'm thinking that the poo poo is about to hit the fan since he is now going to have to submit a blood sample to satisfy the CONI investigation into the operacion puerto debacle. Remember the little spat between Basso and Simoni last year? Simoni described Basso as an "extra-terrestrial" with his riding...

I'm frankly getting fed up with the whole mess. Floyd is now in the process of being screwed by USADA as they barred his representative from witnessing the retest of his B samples from last years Tour. This is in direct violation of their own rules and procedures! That coupled with the fact that the lab that tested everything at the Tour is the same one doing the retests! So the scenario is this: "did the Amaury lab make a mistake? I don't know... Why don't we let the Amaury lab retest the B samples and see if they screwed up." Wow, that is some logic (not). Why don't we just skip all of the formalities and directly ask the Amaury lab if they made a mistake with Landis' sample testing. Then, they can tell us no, we can take their word on it and then we can get down to the business of disqualifying the first Tour de France winner since 1904. That seems much more practical and civilized.

The silver lining to this whole black cloud is that now Levi won't have to play second fiddle to Basso. Leipheimer could be the first american Giro winner since Andy Hampsten. Not that I'm down with Disco' or anything, but I would love to see Levi get a little vindication out of this whole mess. They signed him as a captain for the grand tours and then shanked him by signing Basso when CSC let him go for his puerto implication.

Enough ranting. Went for a hike to Lower Harper Creek Falls with Owen and Golden, today. It was nice getting out into the woods. It feels a little strange trying to make good impressions on a baby; trying to share the things you love in an effort to (hopefully) get them to love them, too. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2007

time to catch up

It's been a week since I last posted. Overwhelmingly busy would be one way of describing my week. The shop has picked up given the emergence of what will hopefully be more permanent good weather.

I'm managing to ride my bike about twice a week. I miss it and don't at the same time. Owen has definitely proven to be a greater pull on how I want to spend my time. Thankfully, he's getting big enough to start incorporating into the adventures we used to have. There is definitely a bike trailer in his near future!

Wednesday I gave a presentation to my future students at the Early College High School. I really can't wait to teach them. They are curious and not afraid to be intellectual or inquisitive. The best part is that they are excited about me coming to teach them! It is going to be a real challenge to keep up with them, but that is the kind of challenge I will relish...

There is just a couple of weeks left before the Cycle to Serve ride. It should prove to be a fantastic route with excellent support. I can't wait to watch "American Flyers" on the big screen, the night before! I know that the Rotary club is working very hard to make an excellent first impression, so join us for this inaugural event.

I'll try to be more diligent about my posting, but now to the end of school is going to truly be a whirlwind!

Friday, April 20, 2007


This has been a helluva week. Monday: get new job for next year, then lose power at school, teach in the dark for a couple of hours, go home early. Tuesday and wednesday: blurry fog of classes and meetings. Thursday and Friday: lockdown! We had "soft lockdowns" yesterday and today. I can't help but feel like there is just a little bit of "hopeful paranoia" when these sort of things take place. I cannot begin to comprehend the awful events at Va. Tech, but too often we seem to launch into an irrational exuberant fear mode that really needs to be examined. Our entire county was locked down today. There are all kinds of rumors circulating, but I'm not endorsing or even repeating any of them. I often consider a fact that I heard a few years ago: people have become so blase to "drills" (like fire drills) that when there is an actual emergency, not only do they not panic, they don't take it seriously! I don't know what I'm getting at...

Jeff and Chuck took off to watch the Brasstown Bald stage of the Tour of Georgia today. I haven't heard anything, but the story about how they and a whole lot of other people got lost due to bunk directions from Mapquest. Suffice to say that a dirt road and a Forest Service Ranger were involved. I'll give the lowdown when I get it!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh my, O'Grady!

I could not be happier to be wrong about my pick for winner of Paris-Roubaix! The man lovingly referred to as "The Freckle" by his Aussie compatriots in the peloton, was certainly due. And what a heroic performance he put in, placing a authoritative stamp on the race with a powerful solo effort that left the elites (and himself) gasping. The utter pain written on his face told a tale of just how much suffering it takes to win the Queen of the Classics.

I was utterly enthralled with the action and knew that it was going to take something epic to not have the race come down to a bunch sprint. So many riders threw the dice, notably Wessemann and Flecha, who really looked like they had made a dangerous move. Ultimately, Stewie made the effort that stuck!

Sorry to be psoting so late on this. If you are in our neck of the woods, you know that we have had some pretty high winds the past two days. Well, as fate would have it, right as I was settling down to an evening of internet work last night, we lost power. We got power back sometime today, while I was at work. Conversely, we lost power at school today at about 15 minutes into the first period and it never came back on. We released early (noon), but I had to entertain a classroom fool of teenagers for 4 hours, in the dark. That would be fun spelled with a capitol F and various other letters... It didn't matter, though. I found out first thing this morning that I got a great new teaching job teaching physical science at the Caldwell Early College High School! It was a huge relief to finally know where I will be landing next year.

Winds will hopefully die down enough to allow for a group ride tomorrow. See ya there.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

and the winner will be...

Call it foolish or foolhardy. Call it a long limb of spindly proportions, but I am going all in for my man Leif Hoste to win L'Enfer du Nord in true, epic style. The weather isn't supposed to be a factor, so grit, toughness and sheer determination are the watchwords for the day. My feeling is that the bitter, acrid taste of defeat for the second year in a row at the Ronde is still in Hoste's mouth. I can't wait...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It approaches

My next door neighbor died tuesday. He was 84 and had developed Parkinson's. I remember when we first moved in he ambled over with the aid of his cane, turned up his hearing aid and asked me how I was doing. I said fine and returned the greeting by asking how he was doing. He said, "Fine, but if you know any different, don't tell me." He gave me a round tuit and walked off. We haven't been the best of neighbors, but I endeavor to watch out for his wife now that he is gone.

Well Gent was more than a little exciting. Tyler Farrar broke his knee cap on the Kimmell along with numerous other injured riders on that nasty cobbled descent. Petaachi ate it, along with the other hopeful for Milram, prompting the whole team to head for the cars and call it a day. I've seen a few articles about whether or not the Kimmel belongs in a "modern" bike race. My feeling is: hell, yeah. Where will the sport be if it does not test itself against the gold standard of time. The 5 monuments represent a continuum for cycling. Training may change, technology may change, but the cobbles will always hold that card of fate close to it's chest, waiting to deal it out at the right (or wrong) time.

So Roubaix approaches. Boonen has to win in order to consider this season successful. I mean, sure he could win the green jersey at the tour, but come on, he's Belgian. A Belgian sprinter, on a Belgian team not winning one of the beloved cobbled classics that make flauhutes into legends; that would be unthinkable. With that being said, you know Boonen will have more than his share of angry when he bellies up to the line, but can he seal the deal? There are a lot of guys chomping at the bit. Too many to make anything, but an educated guess. Here's the odds:
Cancellara, F 3.50
Boonen, T 3.50
Hoste, L 8.50
Van Petegem, P 11.00
Ballan, A 15.00
Gusev, V 15.00
Pozzato, F 17.00
Wesemann, S 20.00
Burghardt, M 20.00
Flecha Giannoni, J-A 22.00
Klier, A 22.00
Hushovd, T 25.00
Backstedt, M 25.00
Van Bon, L 30.00
Guesdon, F 30.00
Kroon, K 30.00
Gilbert, P 30.00
Devolder, S 30.00
O'Grady, Stuart 35.00
Steegmans, G 35.00
Nuyens, N 35.00
Hammond, R 35.00
Vaitkus, T 35.00
Eisel, B 35.00
Brard, F 250.00
Mengin, C 250.00
Meirhaeghe, F 250.0
Could Ballan double up? I'm waitin' to make my call...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crap shoot

Tomorrow is Gent-Wevelgem, the cool down race from the Tour of Flanders and warm up race for Paris-Roubaix. Here's the odds:
Boonen, T 4.50
Bennati, D 5.00
Petacchi, A 10.00
McEwen, R 11.00
Pozzato, F 14.00
Hushovd, T 15.00
Steegmans, G 15.00
Haedo, J 16.00
Cancellara, F 18.00
Paolini, L 20.00
Vaitkus, T 22.00
O'Grady, Stuart 22.00
Kopp, D 25.00
Flecha Giannoni, J-A 30.00
Burghardt, M 30.00
Eisel, B 30.00
Van Heeswijk, M 35.00
Mattan, N 35.00
Gilbert, P 35.00
Nuyens, N 35.00
Davis, A 35.00
Sentjens, R 35.00
Eeckhout, N 40.00
Clerc, A 40.00
Devolder, S 40.00
Roesems, B 50.00
Bonnet, W 75.00
Muravyev, D 75.00
Chavanel, Sebastien 75.00
Steels, T 75.00
Caethoven, S 150.00
Hinault, S 200.00
Flickinger, A 300.00
Renier, F 300.00
Franzoi, E 300.00

I'm going with Cancellara. I don't have anything to base that on other than he was fuh-lying in Flanders.

Golden got me a really nice Belgian Beer called La Chouffe. It's brewed by gnomes in the Arenberg Forest. You'll be seeing that little locale on Sunday; you know the nasty cobbles with the iron gate above the entrance that reads: Abandon all hope ye who enter here. You know that looks encouraging from the middle of the pack...

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I've gotta say I felt like the man for calling Leif Hoste as the winner for today's Ronde de van Vlaandren. Right up until the 10 meters to go mark. That's when Allessandro Ballan up and discovered he had enough real estate left to pip Hoste for a huge win. Oh well...

Quickstep put on an impressive display of how to put all of your eggs in one basket (aka How to lose a big bike race). Tom Boonen looked less than invincible (with the exception of an impressive turn of speed up the first half of the Muur). Unfortunately for Tom, you had to do better than just the first half of the Muur and that little tutorial was put on by none other than today's eventual winner Ballan. Allessandro made Boonen look like he weighed anchor and pulled into port he went backwards so fast. The only man able to bridge and stick was Hoste. It wasn't so bad that Quickstep was trying to get Boonen a 3rd in a row victory at De Ronde, but they made the impudent mistake of not seeing the forest for their big sprinting tree. With the ammunition they had (Bettini, van Petegem, and the on form Steegmans), they could have been playing cards left and right to insure a QUICKSTEP win, instead of a Boonen win.

And for those who still cling to the blue and black of Team Discovery, FrankenStijn Devolder had chances, but you've gotta have more than just Matt White to work for you in a classic. True, he's a belgian hardman, but Disco' seems to be the kiss of death for any rider that has an ambition for the classics. Bruyneel just has too much invested in big name stars to think beyond the Tour de France. Every other racers ambition seems to be an afterthought.

As for other notables, I want some of whatever Fabian Cancellara is on 'cause that guy looked like he was on a motorcycle he was flying so fast. It was unfortunate to see him having to pull 9 guys as he attempted to make a long break. Again, if Quickstep didn't have it's head firmly implanted up it's butt, they could have let Steegmans work with Cancellara and the two most likely would have been gone 'til the end. Instead they get caught right before the Muur and Cancellara was too blown to do anything else of significance.

Big props to all the racers who managed to stay upright. There were more crashes for stupid reasons than I've seen in a long time. Eric Zabel looked pretty rough after crashing on a descent with about 94km to go. He looked both dazed AND confused. Big props also to my man Jason D for picking Ballan as his man for the win. congrats on the call (and give me a call, I lost your #).

And now we've got Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday and Paris-Roubaix next Sunday!

Friday, April 06, 2007

come and get it

"Sunday, sunday, sunday!!!!!!!!!!!! Come see the world's top cyclists hurtle over the cobbled bergs of Flanders in an attempt to win the infamous Ronde de van Vlaandren!!!!! There will be thrills. There will be spills. Who will claim the ultimate prize? Will it be Tornado Tom Boonen taking his third in a row? Will "Franken"Stijn Devolder fill the shoes of fading American classics hopeful, George Hincapie, who will sit this one out with a fractured wrist? Will the team-who-must-not-be-named ( pull out the angry? Can the upstart eastern bloc goombahs of Tinkoff Credit Systems throw down iron curtain style? Only the cobbles know for sure..."

Okay boys and girls the week of racing that makes you yearn for cold weather, rain, sleet and mud is finally upon us. Belgium and northern France are squarely in the center of the pro cycling world with the Tour of Flanders this Sunday and Paris-Roubaix next. If you have never watched any bike race, but the Tour de Lance, you better find a way to see these races. You are in for a treat; a true look at how bike racing should be: a test of man, machine, and good fortune.

What else could inspire Phil Liggett to such lofty poetics like this from the 1986 Paris-Roubaix:
"And now a train.... Is it the train of good fortune or an emissary of the devil? Only time will tell..." It's enough to make a man weep.

Here are the odds (courtesy of
Boonen, T 3.50
Bettini, P 6.00
Cancellara, F 10.00
Pozzato, F 15.00 dangerous
Ballan, A 20.00
Van Petegem, P 22.00
Freire, O 25.00
O'Grady, Stuart 25.00 yeah, right
Hoste, L 25.00
Boogerd, M 25.00
Burghardt, M 25.00
Paolini, L 30.00
Gilbert, P 35.00
Steegmans, G 35.00
Nuyens, N 35.00
Devolder, S 45.00
Gusev, V 45.00
Bennati, D 45.00
Ivanov, S 50.00
Hincapie, G 50.00 amazing given that he isn't starting
Flecha Giannoni, J-A 60.00
Hushovd, T 60.00
Sentjens, R 60.00
Zabel, E 60.00
Klier, A 60.00
Wesemann, S 60.00
Petito, R 60.00
Eisel, B 75.00
Kroon, K 75.00
Ventoso Alberdi, F J 100.00
Eeckhout, N 100.00 Rambo. 'nuff said
Kirchen, K 100.00
Kopp, D 100.00
Van Bon, L 100.00
Van Heeswijk, M 100.00
Hammond, R 100.00
Guesdon, F 100.00
Ignatiev, M 100.00 could do something really bold (or stupid) and pull it out

This one is tough to predict, especially with Quick Step holding so many cards (Boonen, Bettini, Van Petegem). If you're that DS, you've gotta use Bettini as the rabbit. He's powerful over the types of climbs that feature prominently in the race and he's dangerous enough to make other teams wet themselves if he gets too much time. Van Petegem is like having John Wayne for backup in a gunfight; he knows what your going to do before you do. But then again, having won the last two years, Boonen has a target on his back so big he won't be able to fart without every team car picking up on it. My pick is someone who's going strong, but not showing all their cards yet this season. Someone like Leif Hoste, maybe. Or someone with something to prove, like Stefan Wesseman. We'll just have to wait and see...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring cleaning

I've been doing a SERIOUS basement cleaning for the past few days. For those of you that haven't seen my basement lately, it is a true haunted house of severest clutter. I've got to come clean with you guys. Hi, my name is Shawn and I'm a packrat... Man, that feels good to get off my chest.

It really started to dawn on me when I uncovered a pile of small, irregularly cut blocks of wood. You know, the sort of odds and ends that you get when you cut big boards to size. Whelp, I guess I've been saving those suckers for a rainy day, or something to that effect. It's like the 2 or 3 inches of carbon fiber steerer tube that is left over when you install a new road fork on a bike. I save those bits, too. I swear I'm gonna glue 'em all together one day and have the most awesome carbon fiber town bike ever.

So, I'm going through everything, getting stuff organized, throwing things away. And then, I decide in a sort of fevered madness of organization, that I'll tackle my "bike" room. Now, before we opened the shop, I did all my wrenching down in the basement. Working on our stuff, doing stuff for friends, that sort of thing. But mind you, I've been a bike mechanic for most of my life. I started wrenching twenty-two years ago, at the age of 14. Through those years, I have managed to squirrel away parts and pieces of bikes too numerous to mention and too weird to share. Until now.

So, I start sorting, doing a kinda catalog run-through sorta thing. Suntour Sprint braze-on ft. d'ler? Check. Suntour Accu=shift downtube shift levers? Check (I swear those things shift great!). 6 pairs of cheap, rat-trap mtn. bike pedals? Yep, you bet. I go on and on, trying to come to grips with the fact that, I don't need to hold on to all of this stuff. Things get tense and I start to compromise: cheap rat-traps get pitched, but beloved XT rat-trap mtn. bike pedals are definite keepers. So, i whittle it down to 1) trash, 2) keep, 3) ebay. I know that some of the things I have are useless to everybody, some precious to me and other just need a good home...

I gazed longingly at my Bontrager Race Lite that Joe Murray brazed extra braces onto to make it into a Bontrager Race Heavy touring frame. I've got Golden's first mtn. bike frameset, a Ritchey Outback. Her last pro race frame, a custom Klein painted in her last team colors. I've got 3 bent frames that I've had for a couple of years, swearing up and down I was going to turn them into shop stools. Now, I've got to do it, just to justify their continued presence. It's like I've gone spelunking inside my own head...

So here's to spring cleaning and the mental realignment that inevitably comes with it!