Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Bike



We have sent more bikes out the door that are destined to be christmas presents this year than ever before.  That kind of thing is great in our eyes.  Many of my christmas memories center around bikes.  Bikes are a perfect christmas gift: they are enjoyed for seriously long periods of time (rather than the 5 to 10 minutes it takes to exhaust the fun of some battery operated thing), they can actually improve your life (lose weight, get in shape, meet a bunch of new friends who are into bikes, set you on life-long trajectories of seeking dodgy employment opportunities in bike shops where you make vain, half-hearted attempts to not spend you ENTIRE pay check on bike stuff, etc...), and they seem to spark that glisteny-eyed wonderment upon the first recognition of the gift bicycle beside the tree that few other gifts can give.

(OK, my grandfather gave my grandmother a new car for christmas one year.  Big surprise and a total bitch to get under the christmas tree, but a big christmas surprise nonetheless.  Bikes make that kind of mark and are far easier to hide)

The disturbing trend though is that the vast majority of christmas bikes we have sold this year are for adults.  One kid's christmas bike has been purchased.  Unfortunately, I think that many people are getting the Wal-Marget/Dick'smart bikes for their children.  I understand that kids outgrow stuff.  Owen needs a new pair of pants or shoes like every week right now.  But I also place a premium on getting the most for my money.  Pay good money, get good product, get good return on investment.  We buy good quality stuff a little big, Owen wears it until we can't stuff him into it without drawing the attention of DSS and then we have a perfectly good item that we can resell on consignment or pass on to a friend with kids.

The same goes for bikes.  Last christmas, Owen got a Specialized Hot Rock 12" wheeled bike.  He's ridden the hell out of it and I haven't done a thing to it since I built it, except air up the tires and raise the seatpost.  The bike is in great shape and would last for a couple of more kids if we were so inclined (which we are NOT).  But the great thing about buying a quality bike for a kid is that they will outgrow it rather than destroy it.  When the kid outgrows it, you have options.  You can sell it or trade it in at the bike shop for the next size up.  It's win-win!

The most infuriating thing is people waxing nostalgically about their childhood bikes from the 50's and 60's and then complaining about how expensive bike shop bikes are.  Those childhood bikes were high-quality and expensive in their day!  We hear people talking about years and years of use that they got out of these bikes, but then they want to buy a dept. store bike that is designed to last for 50 miles of use (since the average dept. store bike only sees 10 miles of use in its lifetime).  Sad. Why not buy something you'll enjoy riding?

In the future, if you really want to make a christmas gift of a bicycle, visit your local bike shop, spend your hard-earned cash on something of true value, and then watch the recipient enjoy their gift for years to come!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He's a big pig. You could be a big pig, too!

A steady stream of holiday cheer in the form of homemade foodstuffs has made its way into the shop.  Shortly upon arrival, said foodstuffs make their way into our bellies with little time spared.  Couple this with a serious lack of riding and you have the makings of a significant bloating event.  I feel like a balloon; ready to burst.  Like everyone at this time of year, I may easily add mass and volume to myself with little difficulty.  But resistance is not futile!

There may be a break in the weather this weekend with Saturday's forecast featuring temperatures in the 50's.  This may be our one shot at doing some mtn. biking this break.  Anyone up for some riding at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte?  Charlotte may be the best bet since they didn't get any snow.

In shop news, we are going to be open Christmas Eve from noon to 3pm for any last minute holiday shopping.  We will also have an informal holiday get together starting at 2-ish that day.  We will be closed Friday and Saturday.  Happy Holidays if we don't see you this week!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Right back at it

Before the jet lag had fully left, I was right back into the everyday life that I had escaped in Bend.  It isn't horrible or even bad, really, but that post-trip hangover makes everything about normal life look a little sadder.  But now that has all faded.  The little touch of homesickness that I had (really missing my wife and son) was quickly eradicated when I was greeted at the door by Owen dressed in a triceratops costume, running around like a little whirlwind.  The biggest shock was realizing that he had changed pretty noticeably in the 5 days I had been gone. Wow.

Now, as school winds down for the winter break, the ability to focus on all of the things that the shop needs is a welcome relief.  We have some big things to accomplish prior to beginning the new year and having some days off from school will allow me to help make those things happen.

The one thing that absolutely can't change is the core principle that we are a bike shop and not a bike store. The differences are subtle in writing but dramatic in reality.  A bike shop, our bike shop, is a place to come and be a part of a community.  That idea of community built out of a love of bikes was stoked hotter and brighter by our visit to Bend. As a bike shop, we want to see you, want you to come by to talk or hang out.  Regardless of whether you buy something or not, the bike shop is there to be the hub of our small bike community here in Lenoir.

Since the last 'cross race of the season is in the books, my thoughts are turning to mountain biking.  I have been swept up in the "Big Revolution" of 29er mountain bikes and it has really stoked me on getting out and riding more than ever before.  To say that I am a convert to the 29er would be an understatement.  I freakin' love 'em! Come out join us for a mountain bike ride, the more the merrier!

Even though the weather is chilly, the season starts now for training and getting ready for the coming season.  Saturday road rides will be heading out from the shop at 10 am, weather permitting (i.e. rain or snow, don't show!). Our highly refined, high tea, dirt road rides will begin soon, so keep an eye out for notifications here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Final day

I raced yesterday at 9:30 am. It was a little weird to wake up, see the temperature at 28 degrees and actually think, "Awesome! It's warm!" Did all the warm up stuff at the house and then rolled down to the course. We are staying less than a mile from the race, so we haven't needed to drive much at all.

The officials started putting everybody in pre-staging; all 180+ of us. I got to stand around for quite a bit waiting for my call up: #130. I lined up, Jeff took all my extra clothes and we began that nervous down time that hits just prior to the start of a race. The gun fired and off we went for about 10 seconds and then a huge crash swept across the field in front of me from left to right. Everybody crashed around me and into me, but I managed to stay upright and unscathed. I got off the bike, ran around everybody rolling around on the pavement and took off after the race. At the first turn, I caught another crash, made it around and then hammered onto the tail end of a long train of riders.

Due to the warmer conditions, the course was totally different from the last race I did. Traction was abundant. The little off camber that you fell trying to walk up was now completely rideable. I fell on the long grass off camber section when two guys crashed in front of me and I had to touch the brakes, a guaranteed fall inducer. Back up and on to the run up, which I now was able to ride up with relative ease, back on to the pavement and the beginning of lap 2.

Slowly but surely, I crept up through the field. Jeff put me in the seventies with 2 laps to go. And then, just after passing the pits, I fell hard on my right side bending the derailleur hanger and putting the derailleur into the rear wheel. Thus ended my 2009 US National Cyclocross Championships.

This has been a great trip. I've had an incredible time and can't wait to come back next year. If you've never been to Bend, this place is beautiful, the people are unbelievably friendly and everyone is into outdoor sports. It was a great choice for the host of this race.

Some sights and sounds of the day:


video
U23 race - opening lap


Danny Summerhill (Garmin) leads the U23 race



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pre-race

It's 6:30 and the temperature is 27 degrees. It is still pitch black and I am starting the whole pre-race ritual of getting ready. By my estimation, I will line up somewhere around the 16th row given that I have a 131 call up. If I break the top 100 I'll be doing decent; break the top 50 I'll be doing spectacularly. One paramount goal is to just not get to abused by the course and conditions.

Thanks to Jim Brown for the mantra of the day:

Remember, you are supposed to be in front of that guy ahead of you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The flavor of the Bend course

The video that I shot just doesn't want to upload right.  Didn't think anyone would want to watch an upside down video of Juniors crashing on a seemingly innocuous off camber bump.  The point was to show just how dicey this course is.  By midday it is pretty rideable, but on either end of that day light spectrum it is a game of chance as to how you make any of the more technical aspects of the course.

Fortunately for us, we have stocked up on a little magical elixir that should prove most beneficial during the race:



Not sure how much Bawls would be required for the remaining race efforts that we have, but we will try to carry at least a ton into each race!

The temps are dropping, which means that the few spots that got to thaw will now refreeze with a nice layer of glaze ice.  It is anybody's race until the finish line.

Jeff's flat ultimately cost him a top 20 finish today.  Our bikes and bodies are beat up as multiple crashes do damage to both.  I race tomorrow morning at 9:30, so tonight I am planning on flooding my system with as much antiseptic as possible, i.e. alcohol.

I will do better in video and photo coverage after my race. Promise.

The cards have yet to be dealt

Today is Jeff's big day. Having rocked out with his you-know-what out all season, and with Steve Tilford not coming this year, the national title is up for grabs. In his typical low key style, Jeff is trying to play down any attempts at hype, but I think he has a good shot at the podium this year. Conditions will definitely be a factor as his race is set for the same start time as mine yesterday. The course changes rapidly and dramatically as the sun goes down.

Two other NC contenders for National titles race today as well. Beth Frye has a great shot at the women's 40-44 national championships and Evie Boswell-Vilt is poised to improve on her 2nd place performance from last year's race. We'll be cheering like crazy for both of them!

Congratulations to Janet Trubey for braving the frigid 7 degree temps at 8:30 in the morning to complete the first race of these National Championships!

Our host, Sherry, had a little dinner party last night. Her friends came over, became our friends, we ate, talked, laughed. A nice end to the day. Plus she taught me how to make a new drink that is lime juice, grape vodka and sierra mist. Tastes exactly like a Grape Nehi and is fabulously enjoyable. It will be the perfect summer drink when the temps rise again!

Stay tuned for as many pictures and videos as I get a chance to shoot today.

Newton -6, Shawn-0

Amazing what a few hours can do to a race course. After pre-riding at noon, the assessment I had of the course was that it was grippier than it looked and surprisingly unslick given the amount of snow on the ground. Fast forward to 3:30, the sun is low in the sky, the mercury is dropping and there is a slight delay to the start. Things change.

I line up deep in the field, somewhere around the 15th row. I get caught behind weird traffic at the start, but move up and around. My willingness to jump off and run when things bottleneck (thanks, Todd!) means I can move up - a lot. I find myself in the top 50 and moving up steadily, constantly pushing, always trying to catch the next rider. Then I crash. Hard.

Up, remount and off. Pushing, pushing. Catch, pass, catch, pass. Trip at the barriers, falling, break wooden course post with collar bone. Up, remount and off. Another crash. By this time the course is freezing solid. The descent after the run up is rideable for just a few and becomes a harrowing ice slick run down for the vast majority of us. Two guys rode home in an ambulance as the conditions continued to deteriorate. Turns were slow dances with the devil, never knowing if you were going to go down until you hit the deck.

I crashed more in this race than the entire season combined. I finished the race with my knee warmers around my ankles, blood coming through my skinsuit and spit/snot-cicles gathered in my beard. Now to recover, and get ready for Saturday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paying it forward, backward and sideways

We arrived at our host housing last night.  The temperature outside was 6 degrees.  6.  Degrees.  Fahrenheit.

No humans were home at our host house, but we were greeted by this:


A sheep in wolf-dog clothing for sure.  Mattsie wagged her entire body before dropping to the floor and rolling over for a belly scratch.  Sherry, our host, turned out to be just as friendly.

It's always refreshing to come out to the west coast, meet somebody for the first time and be immediately accepted in the truest "mi casa es su casa" sense possible.  Sherry quickly established that people have always helped her out in her travels and she is just trying to pay that back to help keep the wheel of good karma spinning.

We're adjusting to the time difference, but the big shocker is the temperature.  In the upper 20's isn't bad, but as the mercury drops it gets progressively uncool.  Poor Janet Trubey and the rest of the Master's Women field who have to race at 8:30 this morning.  The sun is barely up, the temp is still hovering in the single digits and there isn't much prospect for improvement in the near term.

Bend has taken this opportunity to have a big 5 day party with everybody participating.  Every business imaginable is offering racers some incentive for coming in.  The town recognizes that outdoor recreation in general, and cycling in particular are huge money makers for the area.  With no recognizable industry, this town is capitalizing on their natural resources.  Lenoir could easily do the same.

On the road


All good adventures deserve to be chronicled.  Sometimes, the chronicler knows that there words will serve as a record of important events.  Other times, one simply chronicles the day to day activities of life and history sheaths those words with the mantle of importance.

This is neither.

Jeff and I are heading to Bend, OR for the US Cyclocross National Championships. This will be my first time at an event of such magnitude but I plan on handling it with my usual steely aplomb.  Jeff is typically reserved, but his inner schoolgirl is decidedly giddy.


We headed out this morning from Lenoir at the ungodly hour of 4 am in order to make our 6:40 am flight in Charlotte.  Rain varied from cats and dogs to gigantic buckets of water being poured across the car as we drove down 321, but we made it safe and sound to the airport and began our cattle drive trip through the labyrinth of American air travel.

I will be posting here as time and internet access permits, but will also do photo tweets and video uploads through our Ustream account to maximize your participation in this particular little adventure.

But for now, I’d like to just reflect on everything that has happened since I last wrote a blog entry (which has been far too long for anyone to even be expected to still be visiting this site, but I am posting nonetheless).

This ‘cross season has been, or at least felt, long.  For the first time, I have been able to race as a family since Golden has decided to race ‘cross this season as well.  Owen has logged many miles in his command module in the Element without complaint.  We have raced in two states other than North Carolina this season and Oregon will make another for me.

I have made the incremental improvements that I had set as goals this season, but haven’t set the world on fire with anything stellar.  I have long ago determined that bike racing is something I do for fun, plain and simple.   Enjoyment is in the doing.  Meeting new people, seeing new places and overcoming the personal challenges are what makes it enjoyable.

For me, racing is a conversation with myself.  Sometimes I yell, sometimes I whine, but I am always honest and it is learning to talk yourself through the immediate stress of the situation that personal change emerges.

I recently finalized a project that I had been working on for years.  My very first race bike, a 1986 Trek 760, has been through the wringer over the past 23 years.  Nothing but the frame remained, and I had been lugging it around the country with every move with the intent of building it up again.
Justin Pogge, of Old Field Cycles in Tallahassee, was the first piece to fall into place.  I had Justin build up a nice steel fork with similar lugs to the frame as a step towards building the bike back up.  The fork was so nice, I decided that I should get Justin to build a custom steel stem for me as well.  The two looked perfect together and made the reality of riding the bike again a bit closer.

All of this languished again.  On hold for lack of paint.  I finally sat myself down and started calling local paint and body shops asking if they would paint a bike frame.  The guys at American Paint and Body were the first ones to say, “Sure.  I don’t see why we couldn’t.”  I went down with the frame, fork and stem, handing them over with reluctance.  This bike frame was an important artifact of my childhood and adulthood all rolled into one.  This was Bike Zero for me.  The starting point that launched me on this trajectory that I still find myself on.

I went back in a few days and was immensely pleased with the job that American had done.  The frame was a deep, sparkling grey; nondescript, yet classic.  I took it to the shop and started building it up with the SRAM Force group that I’ve been riding for the past few years, slapped some fenders on it and started commuting on it to school.


The first ride brought sheer amazement.  I floated along the road, buoyed by a flood of memories the bike brought forth.  I was that 16 year-old kid finding his dream bike by the tree on Christmas Day again.  That joyful floating feeling of freedom and possibility that I got every time I rode as a kid came back in spades. It was beautiful.

My mom tells a story about me that I have no memory of.  After my first serious MS attack, I couldn’t stand up without assistance and walking without a cane was out of the question.  When my parents took me home from the hospital, my mom stayed home with me for a while.  I somehow convinced her to let me go for a bike ride.

She helped me to the drive way, helped me onto the bike and then held the bike for me while I clipped into the pedals.  The deal we struck was that I would ride for five minutes.  She watched me wobble out of the driveway, head down the road and disappear out of sight, doubting the sanity of her decision to help me get on the bike.  Five minutes later, I came riding by and yelled, “five more minutes” before disappearing out of sight again.

I rolled up the driveway and mom helped me off the bike and up to my room.  Mom says that I slept the rest of the day, lying in bed with my clothes and bike shoes still on.

I am incredibly thankful everyday to be able to ride a bike. Now I am able to ride THAT bike once again, and that is special beyond words.  Thanks mom, for helping me ride that day.  And thanks mom and dad for that Christmas 23 years ago (the best Christmas I ever had before Owen) when you made my dreams come true with the gift of that teal and violet road bike that people always told me was ugly, but was beautiful to me.  That bike launched a thousand others and I love you with all of my heart for putting me on this path.

For everyone wishing for the latest and greatest technology and for all of the endless debates over the minutiae of cycling, I hope that you learn that sometimes the bike is so much more than the sum of its parts.  Sometimes, a bike can be a part of life itself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Upping the ante

Cyclocross season will officially be underway this weekend.  Tough to think that all year long I've been thinking about 'cross season, training for 'cross season, not worrying about the now but always looking forward to 'cross season and now it is here. 

I've decided to expand my horizons this season; to make things harder on myself.  This weekend I (plus Jeff, Shelli, Todd, Charles, Golden and Owen) will head to Louisville, KY for the Derby City Cup, a USGP race, instead of heading to Raleigh for the opening two races of the NC Cyclocross Series.  We're upping the ante, expanding our little bike racing horizons in the hopes that we break through to a new level of racing. 

I'm just hoping to survive and not embarass myself.  This season for me is all about learning more about myself.  For me, pushing the limits of what I think I can physically accomplish is the essence of bike racing.  The beauty of turning yourself inside out seems masochistic to someone who doesn't know better, but finding the edge, going over it, and surviving is such an essential part of bike racing.  What saddens me are the cyclists who don't push themselves to the brink.  I once asked someone on a ride, "How do you know how far is too far until you go there?" 

I know that the bike as life metaphor is hackneyed, but it is also totally appropriate in the context of my life.  For me, the bike is a lifelong pursuit, an inescapable aspect of life.  I find my calmest and most meditative moments in the saddle.  This morning as I pedaled down the frost covered greenway, spooking rabbits out of the underbrush and trying not to slip out on leaves slicked flat with moisture and conveniently arranged just so in the turns, my thoughts unhinged from the stress and pressure of the day to come and my mind was free.  My legs pumped up and down, my heart pumped blood, my lungs took in cold air, my skin was alive with the cold air that struck it.  I inventoried everything within and without in rapid, subconscious fashion.  I was free.  For all of the time that I have ridden bikes, that feeling has never waned and it keeps me coming back for more.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Odyssey


The bike industry calls with the voice of a thousand sirens. Tempting. Luring. I feel myself succumbing to her. Yearning. It's the same old pull that I've felt since I was 15. The heady aroma of rubber and grease, the gleam of bike frames lined up row upon row. The complete immersion in the two-wheeled world is a heady experience. I love it, embrace it, and come back for more. I am forever a hopeless bike geek, shop rat. What that says about me, I don't know. The path I tread is caught between two worlds. One world is rigid with expectation and responsibility. The other world still serious, but with a gleam in its eye, a smirk on its face and a beer in its outstretched hand.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

'Cross season has now officially started!

Today was a great day at Domtar Park in Kingsport, TN. The course was mostly grass with a long paved straightaway and some interesting up and down, twisty-turny sections that made me feel like I couldn't handle my bike to save my life. The flyover was great and provided a very cool addition to the already stellar racing that MSG Cross puts on in E. TN.

Golden and Shelli rode away from the women's CX4 field early and never looked back. They finished 1-2 in their first outing in the Fiets Maan Racing/Luna Cycles colors. Jeff finished a very strong second to an always dangerous Andy Applegate in the Master's race. And I, unfortunately, suffered a DNF due to a pedal falling off while running in 7th place in the CX3 race. The group of 3 that comprised 4th through 6th place were clearly in my sights, but it was not meant to be today. I'm just surprised I wasn't shot off the back from the gun as I didn't know where my fitness was at this point. Apparently, in addition to catching a cold recently, I also caught some fitness...

Tomorrow we head back for more and will hopefully have good results to post again.

Friday, October 02, 2009

No, I'm not dead, but thanks for thinking of me.

B-U-S-Y is the word of my life right now.  Sad that I haven't even had a spare moment to write here, but such is life right now.  I have been squeezing riding in around teaching and the shop, mostly through interval laden commutes to and from school with a dramatically overstuffed messenger bag slung over my shoulder.  What's really weird is riding a bike without it - I feel like I drop 50 lbs.

Tomorrow is the first big test of the 'cross season with the first race of the MSG Cross series in Kingsport, TN.  In an ongoing effort to pursue all new technologies in an effort to bring our adventures home, I am going to try a little iPhone video show.  Hopefully, the window below will broadcast what we need, if not, we'll try again!

Video clips at Ustream

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The monster wins again

We found out several months ago that a good friend of ours in Arizona had been diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer.  Jeff and I last saw Doug at Interbike last year and it was shocking to think of the rapid changes we were hearing about in contrast to our last meeting with him.

Doug was hands-down, one of the nicest people I have ever been privileged to know.  Every time you saw him he would give you this crooked smile that was a true and genuine sign that he was happy to see you.  Doug had a remarkable way of making you feel like you were his best friend, even if you just barely knew him. 

Doug passed away earlier this week.  It was sudden and shocking.  To be honest, it hurts like hell knowing that Doug is no longer with us.  I do not ever espouse any religious or spiritual viewpoints, but I do sincerely and whole-heartedly hope that Doug is in a place that deserves him.

Every morning when I ride to work, I think about Doug.  I know that lots of others are doing the same and Doug will live on in our hearts and thoughts.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A few moments to spare

A month is a  long time to go without writing.  In the past month, school has started and since the beginning I have been hanging on for dear life.  I have felt inexplicably flat-footed so far; my sense of creativity has been massively blocked, but I think I might be peeking around it.

As for cycling, the past month has been pedal to the metal at the shop.  Floods of repairs and lots of business have made my absence from the trenches difficult for all of us.  An extra set of hands is always useful!  We have done lots of events, too, in an attempt to gauge where we are at in terms of the early cyclocross season.  I did my first mtn. bike race in I don't know how many years and felt like I would like to do some more of them in the near future.  Golden and Lara Cassady did the 50 mile Mountain Bike Marathon race at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte as a relay team and came in 2nd place.  A great result that they both agreed could be improved upon.



The Lenoir Triathlon was Saturday.  Jeff and I provided tech support (which primarily consisted of installing handlebar plugs).  Chris the Fish, Shelly and Golden competed as a relay team and won both the coed and overall relay race, besting Team Manly Men by some 4 minutes.



Yesterday, I had to get out in the woods.  After working hard to get both Golden's and my 'cross bikes ready, a dirt road ride won out over a mountain bike ride.  Jeff called up Sunday morning and asked if we were down for a Maple Sally Rd. ride and thus we set out from Hard and Flossie Clark Park in Collettsville.  I must admit that Maple Sally Rd. has never really been my strong suit, so I always approach it with a tiny sense of trepidation.  However, yesterday I felt good - strong even, owing probably to the fact that for the first time I was riding Maple Sally in temperatures above 40 degrees and without bulky winter clothing.  It was a blast!  Golden enjoyed her new 'cross bike and Jeff had a good shake down ride on his new bike, as well.



Thursday, August 06, 2009

What are you thinking about?

I went down in the basement yesterday and found a dirty, forlorn thing hanging from a hook and felt a huge wave of guilt wash over me.  While my wife would hope that it was the mountain of storage containers that have overtaken most of the basement floorspace during our months of basement wall repairs and are awaiting me putting the finishing touches on the new shelves I have built to hold them, the thing that made my heart shudder was my 'cross bike.  Covered in a thick layer of dust from having one of our foundation walls replaced, missing the saddle and devoid of pedals, my much loved 'cross bike hung neglected and nearly forgotten.

But the end of the Tour and the beginning of a new school year signal the giddy weeks that lead up to the start of cyclocross season.  Around our shop, 'cross is pretty much the best thing you can do on two wheels.  If you know 'cross, you know what I'm talking about, but if you have never tried it - be forewarned, 'cross will break you and remake you in short order - and you will be a better cyclist for it.

With 'cross, everything is a nit to be carefully picked.  A big box arrived with brown Santa at the shop yesterday.  Upon opening it, Jeff started pulling out 'cross equipment for new bikes being built up by Beerman and the Guru.  The first item out of the box were Grifo Fango tubular 'cross tires.  Heck, tires alone ended up being a topic of careful conversation between Jeff and I for at least an hour - and we still haven't figured out what we are going to run this season!  But that is one of my favorite parts.  Every aspect of the 'cross bike must be carefully chosen, evaluated and tweaked in order to tune the bike to the rider, the course and the conditions.  Miss the right set up and you will have an excellent view of the leaders of the race as they lap you.

But the bike is just the start.  'Cross is such a beautiful blend of all the aspects of cycling that it favors the rider who is not just fit, but smart and adroit as well.  Handling a bike, reading a course, finding the fastest lines, having solid dismount/remount technique, all of these things are key.  Where criteriums favor the big engined horses of cycling, 'cross can make mincemeat of cyclists who are "all horsepower and no steering wheel".  The beautiful thing is that you can always improve, always learn something new and do better because of it.

Our 'cross season starts Oct. 3rd and 4th with the first two races of the TN series.  The NC series begins Oct. 23rd and 24th.  As always, we will do cyclocross training clinics to help with all of the ins and outs for what is to most people a new sport.  If you have never tried 'cross, come let us usher you into a whole new two-wheeled world.

And so begins my epic poem of this 'cross season. A dirty, neglected bike is walked from my house to the shop, beginning its process of rebirth and renewal.  And hopefully, I will follow the same path.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What now?

Now the Tour is over, and I have this big empty space in the day.  No more watching the stages and no more poring over the results to calculate the Fantasy Tour.  The worst part is that the end of the Tour signals the coming close of summer vacation and the return to the teacher's life.  I aim to wring as much enjoyment out of the remaining bits of summer vacation that I can as a way of fighting back against the dying of summer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Provisional Results

The provisional results of the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France -

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    13271
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    12267
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    12177
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    12035
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    11751
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    11490
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    11422
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    11192
Grom     Team CrashWagon    11093
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    10985
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    10966
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    10890
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    10648
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    10508
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    10499
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    10271
Steven Boike    RPM    10141
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    10052
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    9991
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    9962
Player barrett    team player    9217
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    8702
Charles Bennett, our yellow jersey winner, needs to come on down and pick out his Specialized glasses.  Ron Swenson can come down and pick up his Pedro's pit kit cleaning supplies.  Nicole Thomas can come down and pick up her 3rd place prize.  Scott Staley, you will be getting your prize at the first 'cross race of the season!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

She's singing

Neither Jeff nor I was able to watch today's stage since we were busy at the Day on the Greenway.  Sounded like an interesting, yet ultimately unfruitful stage.  Like him or not, Armstrong's 3rd place finish is pretty impressive given his age and coming out of retirement. 

Our own Fantasy Tour de France is shaping up to be a bit of a nail biter as 2nd and 3rd place are still up for grabs.  Charles Bennett has locked up the top spot of the podium and Scott Staley has locked up last place as well.  A message to Scott: a) manpri's are a statement of confidence in one's manhood, and b) it isn't the pain train you really need to watch out for, it's the Night Train!

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France GC -

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    12783
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    11782
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    11514
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    11460
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    11398
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    10941
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    10884
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    10697
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    10680
Grom     Team CrashWagon    10585
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    10504
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    10426
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    10133
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    10077
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    10018
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    9841
Steven Boike    RPM    9739
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    9708
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    9701
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    9654
Player barrett    team player    9012
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    8370

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mont Ventoux looms

Big day tomorrow with the Luna Cycles Day on the Greenway. See you at the Lower Creek greenway from 8 to 2!

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France General Classification -

Charles Bennett Bernanke's Bumblers 12330
Nicole Thomas Espresso Train 11100
Peter Purcell Team Heal With Steel 11083
Ron Swenson Team Theoretical 11078
Mellie Black Team Limp Along 10897
Shane Norris Team Inizio 10524
Eddy Winkler Team Not Caught Yet 10459
Grom Team CrashWagon 10249
John Hansen Lumpy skates 10240
Grant Dunstan Lone Beer Ranger 10226
Charles Hicks Team Buuurrnn! 10166
Chris Thomas Dessel Engine 10092
Trey Barnes Steam Donkey 9664
Mary Ann Brown Hope & A Prayer 9601
jim brown stylin' and profilin' 9555
Jeff Welch Pigs in Zen 9512
Steven Boike RPM 9434
Lara Cassidy Lara's team 9382
Chris Harris Equipe Poisson 9227
Jenna King Le Chiffre 9216
Player barrett team player 8607
Scott Staley JRB Racing 8198

Thursday, July 23, 2009

TT travails and triumphs

A skinny spanish climber beats the world time trial champion, Lance is human after all, Andy figures out how to make a bike go fast in a time trial, and Wiggins just misses the mark.  Funny that Cancellara is kicking back with a beer trying to figure out how Contador beat him today.  The man that both Phil and Paul gush over and describe with that fay British accent as "a beast", was beaten by Contador in his specialty.  The questions now arise about the legitimacy of Contador's performance and rightly so.  Andy Schleck locked up his podium spot, but Armstrong's 3rd place is looking to be the target for both Wiggins and the elder Schleck brother.  My feeling is that the Schleck are going to be lloking to shred the GC contenders on Saturday's Ventoux climb.

Don't forget that this Saturday is the Luna Cycles "Day on the Greenway" to be held at the Lower Creek Greenway parking lot on Powell Ave. from 8 am to 2 pm.  We will have lots of different greenway bikes from Specialized and Fuji for test rides.  You will get 1 free raffle ticket to win a Specialized Carmel 2 bike with your test ride.  Additional tickets will be for sale with all proceeds going to Caldwell County Pathways, the folks who bring you our awesome greenway system.  Tell everybody you know to come take a spin and see what a difference a good quality bicycle makes!

Your Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France sponsored by OMGWTF Energy drink GC:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    11752
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    10562
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    10481
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    10456
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    10274
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    9919
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    9913
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    9798
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    9693
Grom     Team CrashWagon    9647
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    9600
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    9596
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    9180
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    9154
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    9077
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    9063
Steven Boike    RPM    8938
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    8928
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    8761
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    8553
Player barrett    team player    8141
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    7758

Scott, I hate to say it, but looks like you are really solid in the lanterne rouge.  There is a prize that awaits you at the end of this arduous journey.  I won't tell you what it is, but just know, the pain train's a-comin'...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow

Sooooo glad I watched today's stage.  The Astana stranglehold on the tour has loosened somewhat going in to tomorrow's time trial.  What I saw today, however, wasn't exactly what was reported in the cycling press.  Cyclingnews talked about how "unflappable" Contador was, but I disagree.  Unflappable riders don't make a move that drops their own teammate, then gets easily nullified by two guys who are teammates on your rival squad and then look over their shoulder for their drop compatriot for the better part of 10 minutes.  The Schleck brothers have figured out the chink in Contador's armor, it just remains to be seen if they have the strength to exploit it.  The weakness that I think they see is that Contador doesnt have much beyond an explosive acceleration.  Sure, he jumps like nobody's business and gets a huge gap with breathtaking rapidity, but how fast is he really climbing?  What I saw today was two guys who weren't blown away by the acceleration.  Two guys that saw that maybe Contador is more show than go.  Ventoux is going to be very interesting indeed...

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France sponsored by Oops! General Classification after Stage 17:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    11291
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    10181
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    10108
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    9974
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    9810
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    9656
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    9420
Grom     Team CrashWagon    9334
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    9321
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    9240
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    9238
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    9235
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    8877
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    8747
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    8721
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    8670
Steven Boike    RPM    8605
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    8484
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    8394
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    8243
Player barrett    team player    7839
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    7583

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The gloves are off

A day of attacking and I missed it.  Damn.  Hopefully, tomorrow holds the fireworks that I have been predicting.

Your Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France GC - 

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    10672
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    9724
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    9583
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    9304
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    9297
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    9261
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    9001
Grom     Team CrashWagon    8858
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    8840
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    8782
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    8742
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    8633
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    8535
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    8204
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    8190
Steven Boike    RPM    8114
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    8092
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    8049
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    7886
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    7812
Player barrett    team player    7450
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    7285

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The war begins, or the war's not over

I have to confess that I didn't watch the actual part of today's stage that meant anything.  What I do know is that Astana's script is just like Discovery's - put in a big attack in the mountains, take the yellow, and then grind everybody down to the point that there are no attacks.  Hopefully, somebody, anybody, will not follow the script and will do something cheeky.

Charles Bennett is pulling out a big lead in the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France powered by Ambien.  Current standings after stage 15:

GC

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    10133
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    9343
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    9193
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    8896
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    8734
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    8680
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    8651
Grom     Team CrashWagon    8461
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    8454
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    8379
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    8262
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    8212
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    7923
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    7764
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    7711
Steven Boike    RPM    7674
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    7478
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    7452
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    7372
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    7309
Player barrett    team player    7132
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    7043

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why we need Vinokourov

Today's stage gave the first thrilling rush of excitement that this tour has had to give.  On the edge of my seat, I played that age old mental math game of counting down the seconds to see if George Hincapie was going to wear the first maillot jaune of his long pro career.  Sadly, he came up just 5 seconds shy of the mark.  Regardless of what side you fall on with regard to the Columbia/Garmin polemics, it would have been great to see George wearing yellow after such a cheeky move from the 12 km mark.  If only we could see some audacious riding from others.

It is this point that we need to discuss the imminent return of Alexandre Vinokourov.  Vino's return could be the breath of fresh air that the stagnant peloton needs.  Vino is the wild card, the joker and the ace in the hole all rolled up into one.  He is a time bomb full of hand grenades with a hair trigger and a mean streak.  Vinokourov can be counted on to do the unexpected, the unconventional.  The easiest way to predict the unpredictable nature of Vino is to think when would be the dumbest time to attack and that is the moment when Vino will throw it down, launch the reckless attack and ride with a wild-eyed abandon.

While everyone seems to have resigned themselves to the script that Astana has put forth for this tour, the peloton lacks a rider willing to go for broke.  To my way of thinking, Cadel Evans is the man with nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing the audacious, unexpected, and foolhardy move.  It can't be just one attack and "oh well, that didn't work".  Evans needs to go again and again and again until he either explodes or gains something.  But that's the gambler in me talking.  Lance Armstrong has once again turned the Tour into a poker game of grim-faced players who aren't willing to go all in, lest someone else make the lower step of the podium.  Vino is the embodiement of the slots player run amok in the poker game, pulling the lever over and over again on the off chance that three bars or three cherries will line up and the coins will come dumping out.  Who cares that the odds are against such behavior; he certainly doesn't.

The calculating tactician in me looks toward Wednesday's stage as a game changer.  Four Cat. 1 climbs, 2 of which are in the final 30 km with the last being a scant 15 km from the finish and one Cat. 2 climb, all on the day before the ITT has the makings of a day of attacking and counter-attacking.  At this point I would think that a 1-2 punch combination from Garmin's Wiggins and Vande Velde is the only serious move that can crack Astana and their slow grinding tempo train.  Do something, no matter how stupid or ill-advised or else face the inevitability of racing for scraps and allowing Astana to make the race all about them.

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France powered by Ambien GC standings after stage 14:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    9557
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    8825
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    8799
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    8493
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    8261
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    8231
Grom     Team CrashWagon    8119
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    8031
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    8018
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    7912
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    7876
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    7677
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    7308
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    7219
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    7205
Steven Boike    RPM    7175
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    7022
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    6862
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    6853
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    6790
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    6701
Player barrett    team player    6680

Shake up in the GC!

No, not in the TdF, but there has been a change in the lead of the LCFTdF!

Complete standings after stage 13:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    8878
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    8479
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    8121
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    7988
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    7933
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    7771
Grom     Team CrashWagon    7659
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    7593
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    7566
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    7380
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    7339
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    7104
Steven Boike    RPM    6918
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    6875
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    6873
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    6691
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    6613
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    6584
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    6503
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    6489
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    6410
Player barrett    team player    6267

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TdF update

Tour de France 2009: does the fun ever start?  Another predictable day of no hopers going off the front early, the peloton decided not ot have a bunch sprint finish and Sorensen won.  Yeah. 

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France standings after stage 12:

Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    8062
Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    8009
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    7521
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    7462
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    7435
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    7379
Grom     Team CrashWagon    7159
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    7051
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    7020
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    6826
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    6682
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    6579
Steven Boike    RPM    6519
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    6421
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    6359
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    6335
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    6275
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    6069
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    6061
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    6004
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    5908
Player barrett    team player    5775







Complete results are here.

Complete team rosters are here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour de wake me up in 5 days...

Every morning I swear I'm not going to waste time watching what has got to be the most stultifyingly boring Tour de France of my life.  I feel like the intention was good: to make a close race that would end in a last day show down in the Alps, but the reality is a non-race.  All the favorites have no way of distancing themselves from each other and no reason to attack, either.  But like a crackhead, I keep turning that video on and watching, hoping to get a small hit of that sweet feeling that comes from watching a truly riveting bike race.  Today's hit of ecstasy came when it looked like Tyler Farrar was going to best the Manx Missile, but it wasn't meant to be.  Another 30-40 meters and maybe, but Cav' is just crazy fast when he sees that line sway into view.  All I know is that the end of this Tour better have enough fireworks to make up for all of the non-action we have seen so far...

Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France standings:

Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    7481
Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    7307
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    6918
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    6833
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    6831
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    6651
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    6557
Grom     Team CrashWagon    6539
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    6410
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    6320
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    6152
Steven Boike    RPM    6136
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    6059
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    5981
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    5883
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    5882
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    5774
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    5680
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    5611
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    5574
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    5524
Player barrett    team player    5450

We are on the verge of having 2 women on the podium! 

Full results are here.

Current standings through Stage 10

Full results are here.

Current standings:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    6756
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    6711
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    6323
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    6217
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    6208
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    6088
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    6039
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    5874
Grom     Team CrashWagon    5868
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    5710
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    5678
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    5655
Steven Boike    RPM    5617
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    5502
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    5438
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    5368
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    5245
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    5222
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    5218
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    5082
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    4992
Player barrett    team player    4991

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another stage, another yellow for Nocentini

The most exciting thing in the Tour right now is the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France.  While the real race plays out with awful predictability this week, the LCFTdF is a topsy turvy world of upset and rising fortunes.  The ladies have stepped up mightily this year as we have Nicole Thomas in 2nd place on GC and fast rising Melanie Black moving into 4th place.  Player Barrett has extricated himself from the last place position, but just as in the real Tour, there is a reward for the trick of finishing in last place in the LCFTdF, too!

current standings and results:

Charles Bennett    Bernanke's Bumblers    5956
Nicole Thomas    Espresso Train    5885
Ron Swenson    Team Theoretical    5762
Mellie Black    Team Limp Along    5679
Peter Purcell    Team Heal With Steel    5564
Shane Norris    Team Inizio    5344
Charles Hicks    Team Buuurrnn!    5314
jim brown    stylin' and profilin'    5271
Grom     Team CrashWagon    5211
Grant Dunstan    Lone Beer Ranger    5105
Steven Boike    RPM    5103
Eddy Winkler    Team Not Caught Yet    5087
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer    4997
John Hansen    Lumpy skates    4983
Chris Thomas    Dessel Engine    4982
Chris Harris    Equipe Poisson    4862
Jenna King    Le Chiffre    4760
Trey Barnes    Steam Donkey    4743
Jeff Welch    Pigs in Zen    4727
Lara Cassidy    Lara's team    4606
Player barrett    team player    4568
Scott Staley    JRB Racing    4455

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another stage

The next week of the Tour will pretty much go as follows: Nocentini will keep the yellow courtesy of Astana.  The real race will start with the ITT and the Alps.  This could all come down to Mont Ventoux on the second to last day.  It is going to take all the other teams working together to have any hope of breaking Astana's apparent stranglehold on the race.  Cadel's move today showed a bit of brashness, but there is no way anyone on Astana is going to let him go and with only one tt left in the race, he is pretty much sunk.  Wiggins and Vande Velde could make things interesting, but I don't think that will happen until the Alps.  I think Armstrong will try to gain time on Contador in the time trial and then shadow him in the mountains.  Contador will have to attack hard on the steeps to dislodge people, but he will also have to count on Armstrong riding the team "plan" and not chasing his own teammate.  Still up in the air as to how this rivalry is going to play out.

Fantasy Tour results are here.

current GC

Nicole Thomas                Espresso Train                    5344
Charles Bennett              Bernanke's Bumblers           5302
Ron Swenson                 Team Theoretical                  5166
Peter Purcell                   Team Heal With Steel          5086
Mellie Black                   Team Limp Along              5082
Charles Hicks                 Team Buuurrnn!                 4955
Shane Norris                   Team Inizio                        4942
Grom                               Team CrashWagon            4766
jim brown                        stylin' and profilin'            4764
Eddy Winkler                 Team Not Caught Yet         4581
Chris Thomas                 Dessel Engine                    4540
John Hansen                   Lumpy skates                     4400
Steven Boike                  RPM                                   4398
Grant Dunstan                Lone Beer Ranger              4381
Mary Ann Brown          Hope & A Prayer                 4371
Jeff Welch                      Pigs in Zen                          4333
Chris Harris                   Equipe Poisson                   4289
Trey Barnes                   Steam Donkey                     4191
Jenna King                     Le Chiffre                          4178
Scott Staley                   JRB Racing                         4099
Lara Cassidy                 Lara's team                          4097
Player barrett                team player                          3898

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tour de Fraaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhnce

In what looked to have the makings of an epic stage full of sound and fury, today's jaunt to Andorra was remarkably unspectacular.  Sure Contador threw down an accelleration at the end, but realistically this was the Cat. 5 city limit sprint blindside moment of the Tour.  Armstrong stated that it wasn't part of the plan but he didn't expect Contador to follow the plan, while Bruyneel said there was no plan.  That kind of muddle doesn't bode well.  But Kloden sure did stay up there and could still pull the you-guys-have-the-measuring-contest-while-I-go-win-this-thing attack up his sleeve.  Sad to say, but Armstrong has brought both drama and dullness to this Tour.  Astana pulled it out the tried and true playbook and set tempo at the front, daring anybody to try and attack.  Poor Evans hasn't figured out he's already dead.  One small light shines in the Garmin bunch as both Wiggins and Vande Velde held up on the stage with Zabriskie doing decent climbing duty for a good part of the day. 

Fantasy Tour de France standings are here.

Nicole Thomas         Espresso Train                4754
Ron Swenson           Team Theoretical            4542
Charles Bennett       Bernanke's Bumblers      4530
Peter Purcell            Team Heal With Steel     4509
Charles Hicks          Team Buuurrnn!              4496
Shane Norris            Team Inizio                     4416
Mellie Black            Team Limp Along           4310
jim brown                stylin' and profilin'          4207
Grom                       Team CrashWagon          4198
Eddy Winkler          Team Not Caught Yet      4114
Jeff Welch               Pigs in Zen                       3958
Chris Thomas         Dessel Engine                  3935
Steven Boike          RPM                                 3847
John Hansen           Lumpy skates                   3796
Grant Dunstan        Lone Beer Ranger            3789
Scott Staley            JRB Racing                       3765
Mary Ann Brown    Hope & A Prayer             3751
Trey Barnes           Steam Donkey                   3677
Jenna King             Le Chiffre                        3618
Chris Harris           Equipe Poisson                3567
Lara Cassidy          Lara's team                      3505
Player barrett         team player                      3305

Thursday, July 09, 2009

History is made

Today is an historic day in the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France.  For today is the day that the gender barrier has been broken and a female directeur sportif has ascended the top step in the GC.  Nicole Thomas has become the first female GC leader by ousting Peter Purcell from what appeared to be a pretty commanding lead.  Chapeau, Nicole!

Latest standings:

1. Espresso Train (N. Thomas) - 4219 pts.
2. Team Heal with Steel (P. Purcell) - 4082 pts.
3. Team Buuuuuuuuurn! (C. Hicks) - 3981 pts.

Complete standings here.

Complete list of teams and their riders here.

Tomorrow is the day that could reveal all.  With a final 10.6 km that looks like a graphic from a math SAT question requiring knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem,  a first kilometer with an average gradient of 8.7%, and an overall nasty disposition that travels skyward, the finish will definitely seperate the contenders from the pretenders.  The big question on everybody's mind is what will Armstrong reveal on this climb?  Is it all just smoke and mirrors?  Will Contador send a message? or will Lance lay down some horrific smackdown after a brutal softening up of the bunch courtesy of his faithful domestiques?  Will Levi take advantage and for once lay down an attack?  Will Kloden ride for himself and be the big spoiler?  This is going to be an interesting day...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

LCFTdF update

The sentimental favorite, Thomas Voeckler, guts out a crazy win after a looooooooooooooong break in swirling crosswinds 5 years to the day of taking the yellow jersey in 2004.  The darling of France is back!

Your Fantasy Standings:

1. Team Heal with Steel (P. Purcell) - 3554 pts
2. Team Buuuuuuuurn! (C. Hicks)   - 3391 pts
3. Espresso Train (N. Thomas)         - 3390 pts   (first female to crack the top 3 in GC!)

lanterne rouge Team Player  (P. Barrett) - 2144 pts

Complete standings here.

Friday will seperate the contenders from the pretenders so stay tuned! 

LCFTdF update

After Stage 4, the top 3 are as follows:

1. Team Heal With Steal (P. Purcell)  - 2854 pts
2. Team Buuuuuuurn! (C. Hicks)       - 2683 pts
3. Team Not Caught Yet (E. Winkler)- 2524 pts

lanterne rouge Team Player (P. Barrett) - 1748 pts

 Complete results here

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The ghost of Tours Past

In 1985, while on a break with Stephen Roche of Ireland, Greg LeMond was ordered by his directeur sportif to wait for his ailing team captain, Bernard Hinault.  LeMond had become the yellow jersey on the road, but the internal politics of a french team with a great french champion trying to win his record tying 5th Tour de France proved too much of an impediment to LeMond taking what looked like his first Tour victory.  At the end of that stage, a completely wasted Hinault appeared gracious for LeMond's sacrifice and vowed to aid LeMond in his bid for the Tour the next year.

In 1986, Hinault clashed with LeMond early in the Tour.  An epic duel between two teammates was put forth upon the roads of France, and there have been few Tours de France as gripping and exciting.  The two riders split their team with French riders siding with Hinault and LeMond having the lithe neo-pro Andy Hampsten and the Canadian workhorse, Steve Bauer, solidly in his camp.  LeMond and Hinault ripped the Tour apart and remade it as a personal race.  LeMond contended that Hinault was going back on his pledge to help him win his first Tour.  Hinault countered that he was helping, but that he never pledged to just give the race to Lemond, either.  Ultimately, LeMond prevailed, but the biggest winners were all of us who got to witness that epic race.  I will never forget those two men, resplendent in their Mondrian-inspired La Vie Claire team kits, hurtling down the Alps helmetless on fragile looking steel framed bicycles, alone except for each other.

Yesterday's stage may be a peek at a potentially brewing epic battle such as that witnessed in 1986.  Questions still linger, though.  There are several scenarios that could play out and various reasons that they are not what is truly going on, but I will give it my best to try and lay them out.

1. There is no rivalry
Could it be that all of this Armstrong-Contador infighting is just a big made up issue put forth by Bruyneel, et al in order to distract the competition and keep them slightly off balance?  This could be another mind game like the ailing Armstrong that was played up to the cameras as a successful bid to get Jan Ullrich to whip his Telekom team to overextend itself prior to the attack that has forever been dubbed, "The look". 
I don't put a lot of faith in this scenario simply because it is too convoluted and the results would be minimal if even apparent.

2. Armstrong is trying to win the Tour
Yesterday's move was pretty heads up racing on the part of Armstrong.  More suspicious is the question of radio communication: did Bruyneel communicate the wind situation to both Contador and Armstrong or did he just communicate with Armstrong?  Since Astana has made it clear that they want to build a team around Contador (and Vinokourov) with or without Bruyneel and Armstrong, could these two be throwing a big monkey wrench into the works by concocting a huge win for Armstrong?
I'm a little more curious about this scenario, but an unproven Armstrong will have to fight for every scrap for the next three weeks to pull this off and that may prove to be to tall of a task for him to pull off.

3. Armstrong is helping Leipheimer win
I suspected this up until yesterday.  It makes since that if Armstrong wants to work against Contador, his best bet is to assist Leipheimer. Levi isn't all that far off the mark when it comes to Contador and could legitimately compete against the guy. 
This scenario lost some plausibility due to the absence of Leipheimer in yesterday's break, but then again it could still be in the running...

4. Armstrong is helping Contador like Hinault helped LeMond
"I said I would help, but I didn't say I'd give it to him."  Maybe this is what's going on, but at this point I have no clue.

5. Team Telekom redux
Maybe there are too many big guns on this team just as there were on Team Telekom.  Ullrich, Vinokourov and Kloden were all super strong, but they seemed to fight more with each other than against the common enemy of Armstrong.  I would think Bruyneel too smart to let this happen, but maybe the lions are out of the cage and there's no getting them back in...  What would be curious in this scenario is how Kloden will react since he has been there/done that with this situtation. 

Fantasy Tour Standings

1. Team Heal with Steel (P. Purcell) - 2148 pts.
2. Team Inizio (S. Norris)                 - 1856 pts.
3  Team Buuuuuuuurn! (C. Hicks)   - 1845 pts.

lanterne rouge Team Player (P. Barrett) - 1355 pts.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cav' kicks it, Farrar feels it, and Boonen blow(s) it

Having spent the day in Asheville, checking out the WNC Nature Center with Owen and Golden, downing some vegetarian grub at The Laughing Seed, and getting Owen out on his first rock climbing experience at the climbing gym, I had very little time to spend on the scoring of today's Fantasy Tour de France.  But never fear, a BIG, BIG thanks to neopro directeur sportif Jenna King for her awesome and amazing excel spreadsheet skills, I have a much easier job for scoring.  There are still a few kinks to be worked out, but bear with us while we address them.  The main issue to realize is that results are not in order according to who is leading, so you will have to do a bit of figurin' to find out what place you are in (for now).  I will tell you the current podium positions.

 Results after stage 2:

1st place - Team Heal with Steel (P. Purcell)
2nd place - Team Not Caught Yet (E. Winkler)
3rd place - Bernanke's Bumblers (C. Bennett)

lanterne rouge - Team Player (P. Barrett)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

And they're off!

Both the real and fantasy tour have started, in case you were wondering.  The Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France has a record 23 teams entered!  Suffice it to say, scoring was a bit time consuming so I will refrain from being too verbose and get right to the point.

With an early lead (as usual), Eddie Winkler's Team Not Caught Yet won the stage.  Don't worry too much because his team always gets caught and members will be removed from the race due to various pharmaceutical infractions.

Full Results

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let the Fantasy stress begin!

Many of you have already begun crunching the numbers and making provisional selections for your Fantasy TdF team.  A clarification about doping violators after receiving the first question: if your rider somehow manages to get themselves in trouble prior to the start of the TdF, then like any good DS you are allowed to substitute another rider prior to the start.  If however, your rider gets caught with their hand in the EPO jar during the TdF, then you are down a rider, just as if they had crashed out.  The question of whether the rider's results stand will be handled as follows: a loss of points for the stage they tested positive for and any subsequent results after that stage, but all prior results will stand.

Here is your official entry form: 

The 2009 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France!

The Fantasy TdF starts this Saturday! This post will serve as the official rules. I am the final arbiter of all rules disputes. I reserve the right to modify or add rules as needed, but I will not do so in an arbitrary or spiteful manner, but only out of a need for clarity.


The Team


You have a budget of $2500. Rider values for all riders listed with bettable odds at Unibet and their values (as determined by their odds for winning each jersey competition and their odds of winning Stage 1) can be found here. Any rider not listed has an assumed value of $100. You must have a team of 5 riders and you may not go over your $2500 budget.


Scoring


Stage finish - every rider will be given points for their placing each stage. If 200 riders start a stage, 1st place will receive 200 pts. while 200th place receives 1 point.


Stage win - stage wins will be determined by the aggregate score for your five man team's points on that days stage. There will be 50 pts. for 1st, 30 pts. for 2nd, and 10 pts. for 3rd.


Jersey competition - you will receive points for each day that one of your riders leads a jersey competition. Yellow jersey - 100 pts. , Green jersey - 75 pts., White Jersey - 75 points, Polka Dot Jersey - 75 points.


I will now steel myself for a flood of questions for clarification. This evening, I will post an entry form for you to fill out. Entries are due by 8 am, July 4th. Good luck! Bon chance!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clear and Sunny

The rain has finally eased up and with the sunshine, riders have appeared for both the monday and tuesday night rides.  The monday night ride saw 11 riders with most of them coming on one of their first group rides ever!  Big thanks to Joan Boike for pounding the electronic pavement and emailing everyone she could think of to come out and ride!  The tuesday night ride had 22 riders and looked to be a great setup for the race simulation ride that it is advertised as!  Thanks to everyone for coming out and making the rides what they are.

The Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France (LCFTdF) gets cranking this weekend!  With a scheduled start of July 4th, you will be able to submit a team through midnight of July 5th.  There are much different rules for this year's race and I will be posting them in the near future.  The broad strokes of the competition are: you will have a team budget and riders will have a value based on their odds as listed on Unibet.com as of July 1st.  Your team must consist of 5 riders.  All finishers of a stage will be awarded points (if 150 riders start, 1st place will receive 150 points and last place will receive 1 point), bonus points will be awarded for stage wins and leaders of jersey competitions.  Start studying!

A reminder that the Saturday group ride will be at 7am instead of 8am due to the increasing temperatures and feedback from members of our cycling community.