Tuesday, July 23, 2013


photo by fdecomite
The Tour is over and I'm emerging from the grips of a twenty day Eurosport live race coverage binge. As dull as I find the Skybot in their US Postal-esque approach to dominance and control of the tour, it was great to see Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff probing the chinks in their armor. But that was to be too little too late as Froome's initial gap from the first climbing day proved to be insurmountable.

I found myself rooting for Alberto Contador, his alter ego Albuterol Clintador seemingly a thing of the past. Notice the distinct lack of very punchy climbing acceleration attacks by him? Remember how that was the thing he was most known and feared for? It looks like we saw a post-doping Contador in this year's Tour, a man who used tactical nuance to orchestrate the single best flat stage of racing I've ever seen in the Tour. Watching Saxo, Quickstep, and Belkin eviscerate the field in the crosswinds was unbelievably exciting.

Nairo Quintana quickly became our favorite rider here at Casa Moore. His closed mouth, Aztec visage, and legs spinning light, tight circles of death made him the climber to watch. All the better that he was finally able to drop Chris "Big Worm" Froome on the final HC climb of the Tour to ride himself into the maillot a pois (polka dot jersey) and 2nd place overall, after already securing the maillot blanc (white jersey). Chapeau, too, to JJ "Purito" Rodriguez for climbing his way past the duo of Contador and Kreuzinger to take the final podium position on the second to last day.

And finally, a begrudging congratulations to Quint Ervin for winning the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France for the second year in a row. Much like doping in sport, we're not sure what he's doing to win, but we know something ain't right.... As for my fantasy team, well let's just say building a team around Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen was not the most brilliant idea I've ever had. In looking at the worldwide winner of the Velogames.com Fantasy Tour de France, it appears that you have to exhibit some kind of combination of Rainman-like statistical knowledge with the prognostication powers of The Amazing Kreskin to reach the top. Here's the winning team:

I think next year is going to be my year. But, then again, I think that every year. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What was I thinking?

With the foolishness of picking Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen as my GC contenders for this year's Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France now being readily apparent, I have been able to watch the Tour with a disconnected enthusiasm. To my own surprise, I have been rooting for Alberto Contador (now, clearly, no longer Albuterol Clentador) and Alejandro Valverde (of Operacion Puerto taint) to topple the predetermined destiny of Chris Froome. I don't have anything against Froome, but the dispassionate application of force by a drilled-to-roboticism team that simply rides the best riders into dust is too reminiscent of the USPS team tactics of the Armstrong era.

I am absolutely loving the emergence of Nairo Quintana as a climbing phenom. His closed mouth and smooth spin obscure the speed and power with which he climbs, but the catching and subsequent dropping of other pure climbers vividly tells the tale. He will have to add quick accelerations to his arsenal to cover the burst attacks of Froome and others to be an even bigger threat in the mountains, but that will come with training. He will need to work on time trialing to be a GC threat, but Froome has certainly shown that you can go from an unremarkable time trialist to a phenomenal one in the space of a year*.

Kudos to the fantasy cycling acumen of Quint Ervin who looks poised to take the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France for the second year in a row. The podium boys are getting all warmed up for the photo op, Quint!

I'm not taking things lying down though. Owen and I are working on some top secret hidden engine technology that we think Cadel, Tejay and BMC may be interested in. It may be a very different Tour next year. Very different.

*Fun Fact: prior to 2011, Chris Froome had never cracked the top 10 in any World Tour individual time trial. In the first ITT of this Tour de France he finished only 12 seconds behind former World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin and distanced formidable GC contenders with time trialing chops by over a minute in 25km.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Kaibab was never going to be an adventure dog voluntarily. While we lived in Flagstaff, it seemed like everyone around us had an adventure dog. We had Luna (our shop namesake) who despite being congenitally deaf and blind in one eye was always up for hours of mountain biking, trail running, hiking and hanging out in coffee shops and bars. There were dogs that loved going skiing and skijoring, there were river dogs that went for rafting trips down the Colorado River and other rivers in the Southwest and Rocky Mountains. There were all around adventure dogs that went everywhere with their owners forming a kind of unit, one never seen without the other. But that was not the life for Kaibab.

Kai and his litter mates were abandoned on the Navajo Reservation and made their way to a Humane Society display cage in a local pet shop. A typical mix of the herding dog breeds prevalent on the rez, they all appeared to be mixtures of border collie and heeler. I was smitten, Golden not so much. Kai was the last of his litter mates to get adopted, his odd mix of barrel shaped heeler body, skinny border collie legs and completely incongruous bat ears made our destinies hopelessly intertwined as I am a sucker for misfit animals (see: aforementioned deaf, half-blind dog, also see: crippled cat named Koshka, etc...).

We named him Kaibab, the Paiute indian name for the Grand Canyon, which translates to "mountain lying down". He did, in fact, resemble a mountain lying down as his physique tended toward bulbous and he was a layabout when it came to most things except food.  The tales of Kaibab's eating are legion and legendary. If you knew Kai, you had a story about him eating something usually something that you would have thought to be inedible.

Kai worked on the guideline that all things are edible until proven fatal. He ate half of a coke can, the leather piping from the driver's seat of our Land Cruiser FJ-60 (we saw the car jerking side to side and found him with the piping in his mouth like a spaghetti noodle, swallowing a bit then jerking more free from the seat...), he ate a quarter pound of fresh roasted coffee beans, he ate fabric, he ate rags, he slurped the grease laden sand that accumulated around the drain in the back of the Mexican restaurant we lived above. We found him in a 40 pound bag of dog food that was in our neighbor's mud room, his rear legs the only thing visible as they stuck straight out from the top of the open bag (it is estimated that he consumed at least 10 lbs. of the food before we got him out of the bag). He wandered into the 6 lanes of Route 66, his snout firmly buried in a Baskin-Robbins sundae cup, his eyes obstructed by it's rim as he lifted his snout upward and walked forward in an attempt to get his tongue just a little closer to the specks of hot fudge clinging to the bottom. He ate poop from every animal known to man, including man. His palate was as wide open as the world itself.

He ate until his stomach was distended and the only position of comfort he could possibly find was to be on his back, his spindly legs spread wide in all directions and a mixed moan of utter discomfort and sheer bliss whistled out of his nose. The vet explained to us that puppies deprived of food at a young age lost their ability to recognize fullness and reset their appetites to eat everything they possibly could whenever they had the chance. For Kai, every meal was potentially his last as far as he was concerned. We honestly thought that he would some day die due to something he ate, but that was not the case.

Kaibab was a reluctant mountain bike dog and an indifferent trail running companion. He went his pace regardless of what you were doing and had utterly no qualms about laying down in the middle of the trail and forcing you to sling him over your shoulders and carry him back to the car. He swam with the most graceless, stiff-legged Frankenstein like posture and only managed to survive being in the water due to his incredible buoyancy. He loved sleeping in the driving rain and dumping snow, his astonishingly thick fur impervious to water in any form. And yet, this runty mutt from the rez walked and ran through the beautiful mountains of the desert southwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the mountains of Montana, the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest, the Red Rocks of Oregon, Yosemite and countless other places that we dragged him to.

I'll miss his breath that smelled like fresh turned soil after a rain. I'll miss watching him on his back wiggling around in a patch of grass where earthworms have risen to the surface, a satisfied tongue lolling out of his mouth and little grunty noises coming from his mouth. I'll miss "that damn dog" who always seemed to get into something he shouldn't in the pursuit of just one more morsel of food. I'll miss our reluctant adventure dog.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Lance Armstrong would always label performances by his rivals as "not normal" if they were outside of the expected. The performance of directeur sportif Grant Dunstan's Pedaling for Pints team in this year's Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France is decidedly "not normal". I mean, who picks Simon Gerrans for their team? But that pick has put him up at that top of the leaderboard for several days. True, he's finished outside the top 5 the past few days and will surely topple from the lead once the mountains start, but for now, Not Normal is definitely applicable.

Today, the Pyrenees start and we'll see who is on form or on the juice. I predict a Cadel Evans - Tejay van Garderen 1-2 for the next few stages, putting them in yellow and white solidly through Paris. Then Team Dirtboy Cycling will take their rightful place at the top of the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France.

I flew back to the states to celebrate Independence Day and to ride in the Luna Cycles July 4th Gravel Grind. We got lucky and road from Lenoir all the way to Blowing Rock without any rain. I was joined by Dennis Lockhart and John Hogan (on his new Specialized Crux 'cross bike). All agreed that the conditions were perfect, the sights beautiful, the waterfall the highlight of the ride and that all who bailed on doing the ride missed out big time.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Nail biter

Kudos to Jan Bakelants for sticking a gutsy move to the line as the pack nipped at his heels all the way. Winless as a professional and dogged by injury, he went all in with great success. Chapeau!

The 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France leader board looks like this:

Jeff Welch and Grant Dunstan are no strangers to the podium in the early stages of the race. Kudos to Eric Johnson who normally sits much further back.

I'm busy preparing for the transfer back to France as we leave Corsica today. I'm looking forward to the much more laid back reporting of covering a Team Time Trial and being in Nice will be a nice bonus. I promise to stay out of trouble.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I thought it would fit...

Right off the bat, let me say to Peter Sagan, Tony Martin, Albuterol Clintador and the other riders caught up in today's large crash in the closing kilometers of today's stage - my bad. I woke up late (the Corsican wine is incredible) and didn't catch my ride to the race start. I scrambled and then sweet talked my way onto the Orica-GreenEdge team bus with my new best friend and fellow oenophile Gary Atxa, team driver for Orica-GreenEdge.

The set up was perfect as I got to follow the race via the on bus video system, listening to the official Tour radio for the inside scoop, while traveling in air-conditioned comfort with all you can drink espresso. We cruised along, Gary and I making small talk as best we could with his 20 or so English word vocabulary. Then we reached the finish line and that stupid arch. Anyway, there's some uptight French dude in a suit yelling at him to stop and I'm like, "Gary. Dude. You got this. It'll totally fit." Really, all I'm thinking about is how I'm going to be at the finish line with perfect timing to write down all the action and maybe grab some photos.

There's this super load screeching metal-on-metal noise. Gary slams on the brakes and just glares at me with the international "why did I listen to you?" look on his face. He opens the door to inspect the problem and I take the opportunity to quickly absent myself from the situation figuring that I would just add to the problem without being able to contribute anything meaningful to correcting the situation.  The two Corsican police officers who tackled me as I bolted for the anonymity of the crowd must have thought I looked suspicious or something.

A few hours of them yelling at me and me discovering that the American Embassy isn't really concerned about minor situations like mine, finally resolved itself. I tipped the officers a handful of Euros for their trouble and made my way back to the hotel, the after race parties long since over.

So the leader board of the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France came down to the impossible to predict third place finish of Danny van Poppel (son of TdF sprint legend and current DS for Vacansoleil, Jean-Paul van Poppel). Our current top 3 after the first stage of this year's Fantasy Tour de France looks like this:

Friday, June 28, 2013

It was just a matter of time...

349 2011 04 31 Off Modern
Alberto Contador at the pre-Tour party
photo by Simon Archer Hurlstone
Inevitably, when you get a bunch of press people together in a sultry Mediterranean playground like Corsica, you are going to have to attend some press conferences and the Tour de France is no exception. I am world weary and the race hasn't even begun, but my firm sense of professionalism won out over any selfish inclinations I had toward staying deeply ensconced in the downy goodness of my hotel bed, working my way through a healthy sampling of Corsican red and white wines in the hopes of gaining background material.

So off I went to the stuffy confines of some warehouse district dive to stand around with a bunch of other awkward and burned out members of the cycling press. Sure, there were lots of really skinny guys with ridiculous accents talking tough about their chances for winning the Tour, but there are a lot of days left between here and Paris. What I really needed was a local who would be willing to help me out on this island and allow me to get the inside line on the best way to cover this historic first stage.

Ice cream party before departing Corsica 20110811
My Corsican guides
Luckily, I found some super nice people (who spoke English!) and said they would love to help me out. They are going to help me get dialed in on the local culture, hip me to the night life and let me experience the "flavor" of Corsica. I'm in a pretty sweet position now to really cover this race with depth!

Ten teams have joined the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour this year and there is still time to join if you haven't already done so. Head to velogames.com, create your free team, and then join the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France mini-league with league code 24114540. Deadline to enter is this Saturday!