30 March 2011

Recommended Reading: Tejay Van Garderen

Nothing I love more than a rider who writes 
Move over Michael Barry, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) is here. My thoughts on Contador and race radios By: Tejay Van Garderen Published: March 30, 21:57
" ... You want my answer to more exciting bike racing? More exciting courses. Plain and simple. The night time TTT in the Vuelta; cobbled stage at the Tour de France and Thousand Oaks in Tour of California. These races were awesome, exciting, and raced WITH radios"
"... what the hell is clenbuterol'? I've never heard if it before now, and the tainted meat thing scares me. I will admit, when I first heard about it my reaction was to tell Alberto to turn that pistol around at himself. However, that night at dinner I found myself opting for the fish rather than the steak."

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011 route

Route announced today
Running from Sunday June 5th to 12th 2011, the 63rd "Critérium du Dauphiné" will be made up of 1 prologue and 7 stages and will cover a total distance of 1,053 kilometres. This race used to be called the Dauphine Libere (before 2010), but is now officially titled Critérium du Dauphiné. This is the official website for the Critérium du Dauphiné http://www.letour.fr/2011/CDD/COURSE/us/le_parcours.html .

It is a bit difficult to locate information on this race online. The website looks just like the Tour de France website (but with a green color theme), because the race is organized by the same company - Amaury Sport Organisation. A.S.O. also organizes the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Dakar, Paris Marathon and French Golf Open. Riders have yet to be announced for the week-long race which begins June 5, 2011.  
Route map of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine
2011 Critérium du Dauphiné stages
Stage Type Date Start and Finish Distance Details
P Prologue Sunday 5 June Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne 5.5 km
1 En ligne Monday 6 June Albertville - Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse 144 km
2 En ligne Tuesday 7 June Voiron - Lyon 179 km
3 Individual time-trial Wednesday 8 June Grenoble - Grenoble 42.5 km
4 En ligne Thursday 9 June La Motte - Servolex - Mâcon 172 km
5 En ligne Friday 10 June Parc des Oiseaux - Villars-les-Dombes - Les Gets 207.5 km
6 En ligne Saturday 11 June Les Gets - Le Collet d’Allevard 185 km
7 En ligne Sunday 12 June Pontcharra - La Toussuire 117.5 km

Update: post Saturday, June 4, 2011 Dauphine begins tomorrow

The Critérium du Dauphiné is run by A.S.O., and since I admit I would like to support A.S.O these days a little more than the UCI, I am a fan of this race. I was also lucky enough to see the race come over the Col du Telegraphe in France in 2007. The Tour de France is such a huge event, to be a fan at the Dauphine is a completely different experience. The atmosphere is very laid-back with easy access and small crowds. The weather can be quite cold in June in France, and not everything might be open (shops and restaurants), and snow may edge the roads of many of the high mountain passes in the Alpes, but hotels are not problem, nor is the typical heat of summer.

In 2007 when we were in the area to climb a number of the more popular cols (on the map below), we stayed in Valloire. Valloire is the ski village that lies on the road between the climbs of the Col du Telegraphe and the Col du Galibier. It is a very picturesque town, although quiet in June. However let me say that the Critérium du Dauphiné finishes in La Toussuire this year in the valley north of Valloire. Although the climb might seem impressive, in June, the ski village of La Toussuire is one of the ugliest scariest looking places on this earth that I have ever seen. The climbs of Col de la Croix de Fer and Col du Glandon are nearby however, and are both cool climbs! Seeing a stage of the Dauphine race took about 10% the effort of attending a stage of the Tour de France. 
Map of bike climbs in the French Alps (click to enlarge)
Some images from the 2007 Dauphine Libere - Stage 6 on the Col du Télégraphe and the stage finish in Valloire:  

All Photos by PedalDancer.com

29 March 2011

National Champion Jerseys for 2010 / 2011

Update on who is wearing what in 2010/2011 - National Championship jerseys by country

There were quite a number of riders changing professional cycling teams and changing jerseys this past year, especially National Championship jerseys. As I try to keep track of who is on what team, and wearing what jersey this year, here is a cheat sheet for some of the National Champions we will see in the Spring Classics and Grand Tours for 2011. These men won their championship titles at the end of the 2010 cycling season and will be seen wearing their countries national championship jersey during most of the 2011 professional cycling season.While last year's winners are relegated to the armband.

American 2010 Road National Champion - Ben King (Team Radioshack) 
                2011 Road National Champion - Matthew Busche (Radioshack) [blog]
American 2010 TT National Champion - Taylor Phinney (BMC)
                2011 TT National Champion - David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) [website]
Matthew Busche US National Road Champion 2011
Australian 2011 Road National Champion - Travis Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo) 
Australian 2011 TT National Champion - Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo)

Belgian 2010 Road National Champion - Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil)
             2011 Road National Champion - Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
Belgian 2010 TT National Champion - Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil)
             2011 Time Trial National Championships (will be held in August 2011)
Geraint Thomas
British 2010 Road National Champion - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 
            2011 Road National Champion - Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
British 2010 TT National Champion - Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
            2011 Time Trial National Championships (will be held September 4, 2011)

Denmark 2010 Road National Champion - Nicki Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Sungard) 
                2011 Road National Champion - Nicki Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Sungard) 
Denmark 2010 TT National Champion - Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek)
                2011 TT National Champion - Rasmus Quaade (Team Concordia Forsikring)
French 2010 Road National Champion - Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar) 
            2011 Road National Champion - Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep)
French 2010 TT National Champion - Nicolas Vogondy (Cofidis)
            2011 TT National Champion - Christophe Kern (Europecar)
Christian Knees, German Road National Champion
German 2010 Road National Champion - Christian Knees (Team Sky) 
              2011 Road National Champion - Robert Wagner (Leopard Trek)
German 2010 TT National Champion - Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)
              2011 TT National Champion - Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad)
Irish 2010 Road National Champion - Matthew Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) 
        2011 Road National Champion - Matthew Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) 
Irish 2010 TT National Champion - David McCann (Giant Kenda Cycling Team) 
        2011 TT National Champion - Matthew Brammeier (HTC-Highroad)  

Italian 2010 Road National Champion - Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) 
           2011 Road National Champion - Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) 
Italian 2010 TT National Champion - Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad)
           2011 TT National Champion - Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD)

Luxembourg 2010 Road National Champion - Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) 
                      2011 Road National Champion - Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) 
Luxembourg 2010 TT National Champion - Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) 
                     2011 TT National Champion - Christian Poos (Team Differdange-Magic-Sportfood.de)

Netherlands 2010 Road National Champion - Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) 
                    2011 Road National Champion - Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM)
Netherlands 2010 TT National Champion - Jos Van Emden (Rabobank)
                    2011 TT National Champion - Stef Clement (Rabobank)
Thor Hushovd wears the World Champion jersey
Norway 2010 Road National Champion - Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) 
              2011 Road National Champion - Alexander Kristoff (BMC)
Norway 2010 TT National Champion - Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
              2011 TT National Champion - Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)

Spanish 2010 Road National Champion - José Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar Team) 
             2011 Road National Champion - José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar)
Spanish 2010 TT National Champion - Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank)
              2011 TT National Champion - Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank)

Swiss 2010 Road National Champion - Martin Elmiger (Ag2-r-La Mondiale) 
           2011 Road National Champion - Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)
Swiss 2010 TT National Champion - Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1)
           2011 TT National Champion - Martin Kohler (BMC)

World Champion Road - Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo)
World Champion Time Trial - Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)

(The next Cycling World Championships will be held on September 19 - 25 in Copenhagen in 2011, Limburg in 2012, Florence, Italy in 2013, and Ponferrada, Spain in 2014)

Other National Champions of cycling are listed at this link: 2010 National Road Cycling Championships

Do not fear, the UCI is on top of this as well, more UCI rules (links below).  I wonder if they charge the riders a fee to be a champion? According to UCI rule 1.3.071, they trump all other jerseys except for the Race Leader's jersey. The order of priority of jersey is as follows:
Rule 1.3.060 through 1.3.067  World Champion's jersey (PDF 1.62 Mb) 
Rule 1.3.068 and 1.3.069  National Champion's jersey (PDF 113 kb) 
Should various provisions requiring the wearing of different jerseys apply to the same rider, the order of priority shall be as follows:
1. the leader’s jersey of the stage races 
2. the leader’s jersey of the UCI world cup, UCI continental circuit, UCI series and classification 
3. the world champion’s jersey 
4. the national champion’s jersey 
5. the continental champion’s jersey 
6. the national jersey 

This explains why Thor Hushovd wears the rainbow jersey this year on the road and not his Norwegian national jersey although he remains Norway's National Road Champion into 2011. It also explains why Hushovd is not going for the UCI World Cup leader title. He would have to give up that fancy rainbow jersey of his, and that is just crazy talk.

Who the heck is the UCI World Cup leader? 

Well that would be Matthew Harley Goss of Australia (HTC-Highroad), who is currently one vital point ahead of Michele Scarponi of Italy (Lampre-ISD). Now I need to notice if an UCI emblem appears on Matt Goss's jersey sleeve since Goss is the current UCI World Cup Leader. Thomas Voeckler of France (Team Europcar) is the current UCI Europe Tour Leader.
Of course, who knows how long the UCI will be around, but a National and World Champion lives on forever!

28 March 2011

Nicknames of the Classic Races

Spring Classics quiz - match the race to it's nickname

1. Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)
2. Gent-Wevelgem
3. Paris-Roubaix
4. Amstel Gold
5. Fleche-Wallonne
6. Liege-Bastogne-Liege
7. Milan-San Remo

a. La Doyenne
b. Vlaanderens mooiste (Flanders's finest)  
c. Sprinters' Classic
d. La Primavera
e. [no nickname]
f. Queen of the Classics or The Hell of the North or La Pascale
g. Walloon Arrow
1. b
2. e
3. f
4. e
5. g
6. a
7. d, c

Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) =  Vlaanderens mooiste (Flanders's finest)
Gent-Wevelgem = [no nickname] 

Paris-Roubaix  = Queen of the Classics or The Hell of the North or La Pascale
Amstel Gold  = [no nickname]  
Fleche-Wallonne = Walloon Arrow 
Liege-Bastogne-Liege = La Doyenne
Milan-San Remo = La Primavera and Sprinters' Classic

Oh to be there in person! Someday, soon. 

    Recommended Reading: The Koppenberg

    Legendary cobble climb #9 
    A Closer Look At Flanders: The Koppenberg by PezCyclingNews.com
    This article will give you all the facts and the feeling of being on the infamous climb.

    27 March 2011

    Flags of the cobbles

    Pride of the Classics 
    Belgium Flag, Wallonie Flag, Flanders Flag
    French Flag, Dutch Flag, Luxembourg Flag
    When I think of the spring classics I think of Belgium. I invision the cobbles, the weather, the beer, the hardy fans, and the flags. But the one day spring classic races attract fans from all over western Europe - Dutch, Flemish, French, British, and many others. When I think of Paris-Roubaix, I almost forget that Paris-Roubaix is a French race, on French terrain, run to the doorstep of Belgium, but not over it's border, mostly because the flags I always see flying high at Paris-Roubaix are Flemish.
    Belgium is crazy about cycling. Belgium is 58% Dutch, the northern more prosperous area is called Flanders where they speak Dutch (Flemish). The Flag of Flanders is the very recognizable bright yellow flag with the black lion. The south of Belgium is called Wallonie where they speak French. The flag of Wallonie is the bright yellow flag with the red rooster. I have learned not to get these two flags mixed up! I've also learned to remember who is running which race, and to never forget the life-changing importance to any rider lucky enough to win one of the Classics.
    (I love that this map is titled as a beer guide map)
    Spring one-day races
    The Belgian classic races are: Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), Gent–Wevelgem, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège
    The French classic race is: Paris-Roubaix
    The Italian classic race is: Milano-Sanremo
    The Dutch classic race is: Amstel Gold Race
    This is my kind of March Madness (the traditional schedule changed this year)
    • Sunday, March 16, 2011:  Milan-San Remo
    • Sunday, March 27, 2011:  Gent-Wevelgem 
    • Sunday, April 3, 2011:  Tour of Flanders
    • Sunday, April 10, 2011:  Paris-Roubaix
    • Sunday, April 17, 2011:  Amstel-Gold
    • Wednesday, April 20, 2011:  Fleche-Wallonne
    • Sunday, April 24, 2011:  Liege-Bastogne-Liege

    Gent - Wevelgem

    Back in Belgium this morning
    Last weekend those of us who are online fans (as in armchair travelers) were watching the live race in Italy, this Sunday morning the race is in Belgium. Back to the COBBLES!

    Watching Live Video at: http://sports-livez.com/channel/ch-5.php
    Reading live ticker-tape at: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/gent-wevelgem-upt
    Rosters and who is riding (in the right column) at: http://www.steephill.tv/classics/gent-wevelgem/
    Photos from CyclingNews.com at: Gent-Wevelgem: start line gallery
    PezCycling crew rode the race route before: A Closer Look: Gent-Wevelgem Pre-Ride
    Great weather in Belgium today: Current Time, Weather and Wind Direction in Wevelgem, Belgium
    Other interesting articles: Relocation of Gent-Wevelgem may be the death of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen 
     Approximate Finish: 16:27 CEST (8:27:00 AM MST)  I think it will be sooner than that!

    That was an amazing and surprising finish! An incredible leadout, fast speeds by Gert Steegmans (Quick step). Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) was second, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) was third and Andrei Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was fourth.

    Watch all the race highlight videos located on this link: Boonen viert een tweede keer in Gent-Wevelgem. This was Tom Boonen's second win at Gent-Wevelgem, his first win was in 2004 at age 23.

    I hope that Yoann Offredo (FDJ) and then Leonard Ducque (Cofidis), are both okay after colliding with the cameraman/photographer at the finish line (why were they allowed to be in the road?)
    Next Classic on the schedule is Tour of Flanders next Sunday: Tour of Flanders on Steephill.TV or Flanders Classics website Ronde van Vlaanderen. And since I came pretty close to hopping a plane last minute to Belgium to see the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this week, I will certainly be watching these races online, but wishing I was there (I instead settled for next year, maybe with a trip back to Italy as well).

    25 March 2011

    Recovery from an Injury

    "We fall, we get up, and we persist" - Michael Barry 
    Chances are we have all been there at some point in our history of being an athlete - the Sports Injury.  Watching the numerous falls during the cold wet stages of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico made an impression on me. Fall after fall was occurring in the peloton, yet the riders pressed on to the finish line trying to maintain their concentration, sometimes falling repeatedly, only to get back on their bikes to ride on that day, and the next day.

    A handful of riders chose not to get back on their bikes but to instead abandon the race, perhaps not willing to risk the remainder of their season, or perhaps too wiped-out from the day's experience. These are professionals who have dealt with falls repeatedly. How do they bounce back after terrible accidents? I couldn't imagine the pressure if my income depended on a full recovery, as it does for a professional cyclist.

    Going from a body in free motion, to a not so freely moving body is just plain hard. There are the first few slow motion moments of "oh no", then there is the wish of "can I please do that over with a different outcome," and then reality sets in as we accept the long period of changed mobility, struggle, and loss of our usual self. The first two weeks might be the hardest, then a new purpose is found in the recovery process. The same determination that gets us out doing our sport can be redirected toward healing our body.

    Just as our physical training when healthy is not a steady line to improvement, hanging in there mentally after a fall or crash may require the same attention and reassurance that things will be alright. There are ups and there are downs. I am recovering from an injury. Five months ago I had four fractures to my pelvis from a fall mountain biking in Utah. I often hear, "you are so in-tuned to your body". I imagine most athletes must be just like me. Overly, uncomfortably, overwhelmingly aware of our bodies.

    When our bodies don't work as usual we are even more aware. Most of Sports Psychology seems to focus on training our minds to imagine success, to push ourselves to our limits, to have faith in our desired outcome. An accident can change the balance of mind over body, to body over mind. We can no longer do what we want. Even though we are not professionals, the trauma of the accident, the sudden change in mobility, and the unknown of recovery can become overwhelming.

    I recently read an interesting article about a man named Michael Ferrara who was a wilderness first responder. For over 30 years he devoted himself to responding to mountain rescue, paramedic service, and ski patrol in Aspen, Colorado. Then one day he could no longer respond. He was a victim of mental injury (not mental illness). Similar to physical injury, mental injury occurs when the mind is left unattended after trauma. If powerlessness and helplessness are two of the worst feelings any human being can experience then there is certainly more than meets the eye to a sports injury.

    When I read Jens Voigt's emotional letter about the ban on race radios a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but think, has he gotten over that fall of his last year? It was thought that Joseba Beloki never fully recovered mentally from his terrible accident in the 2003 Tour de France, even though he attempted a comeback. I think there may be a difference in recovering from an over-use injury or miss-use injury (improper fit), compared to a crash or fall in cycling.

    "Oh, now that was a crazy fall, that was a crazy fall." ~ Phil Ligget [1993 World's - somebody crashed on yellow line].
    Recently I have appreciated the links and visits to my blog from other cyclists, but have noticed when visiting their own blogs, a number of them mentioning "coming back from a recent injury" - a far too common occurrence in this sport. So for those of you interested, as I am myself, in the total package of recovery, I have compiled a number of links to articles written on this topic of injury recovery and Sports Psychology. These articles speak of PTSD and over-vigilance to another fall occurring.

    One of my previous Recommended Reading blog posts was this well written article by Michael Barry:  Michael Barry’s Diary: Bite the dust, then reach for the stars 
    Toolbox: Recovering from Injury, Part 2
    Mind and Body (I) – Psychological Factors for Sports Injury Rehabilitation
    Toolbox: Recovering from Injury PezCycling.com
    Toolbox: Recovering From Crashes, Part 2 PezCycling.com
    How to Keep a Physical Injury from Becoming an Emotional Problem
    Lots of great articles on Sports Psychology at Whole Athlete 
    Sports Psychology - Tips for Faster Sports Injury Recovery 

    A summary of tips for recovering from an injury in cycling:
    • learn about your injury
    • seek out the best practitioners to treat you
    • form a team around you of people interested in your healing 
    • talk about your experiences with people who really know you
    • listen to your body
    • sleep well, eat well, 
    • avoid added stress such as travel or intense exercise
    • mange your stress (find another outlet beside your usual exercise)
    • learn how to describe your pain to others (and ask for what you need)
    • set goals, ask questions, and direct your own care (this is part of regaining your power)
    • create a feeling and environment of safety for yourself 
    • accept that it happened and the accident is in the past 
    • not only meds, but heat, cold, and touch are affective in controlling pain
    • focus on what you can do, and stay present in the now
    • worrying and fear are almost worse than reality   
    • rest and be kind to yourself, healing takes lots of energy
    • don't expect healing to be a straight line up
    • slowly take on only what you can handle, and then a bit more 
    • find other ways to hang out with your usual training partners
    • expect that your mental and physical healing might not progress together
    • don't talk about your injury while riding your bike, save it for off the bike
    • be positive but honest
    • accept that healing takes time and what you are experiencing is normal
    • don't get discouraged when others say "let's go for a ride soon", what they are really saying is that they miss riding with you and wish you a speedy recovery. You'll know when you are ready to return to the group or team ride. 
    • use this opportunity to develop all aspects of your performance, mind and body. 
    Follow-up: An intersting post by CyclingTips, a blog that I follow: Crash Prevention March 29, 2011

    24 March 2011

    Images of the Day: Directeur Sportifs

    Directeur Sportifs and their Riders

    I realized I have a collection of Directeur Sportif pictures from over the years. I thought I would share a few. Now that I am becoming more familiar with the "management" of the pro teams, I'll have to intentionally capture more of these coach and player moments in the future. (All photos by PedalDancer.com/SyS)

    Some of these men are in a current battle for power with the UCI (boo hiss to the UCI). A history of the battle: Six years of the battle for cycling power CyclingNews.com By: Pierre Carrey Published: March 23, 2011
    Bob Stapleton and George Hincapie together at the Tour of California 2009
    Bob Stapleton at the 2010 Tour de France in Salies-de-Bearn
    Bobby Julich at the 2010 Tour of California in Los Angeles
    Bobby Julich and Andy Schleck at the Tour of California 2009 in Solvang
    Johan Bruyneel in Palmdale at the Tour of Califoria in 2010
    Johan Bruyneel with his RadioShack team on the Champs Elysees, Tour de France 2010
    Johan Bruyneel and Levi Leipheimer at the Tour of California 2010 in Westlake Village
    Dirk Demol and Philippe Gilbert at the 2008 Tour de France
    Jonathan Vaughters with his team at the Tour of California 2010 Westlake Village
    Read more: Johan Bruyneel speaks out about his opinion of recent UCI actions on his blog: Het Laatste Nieuws Interview (in English and Flemish). 
    And can I just say I really like Johan Bruyneel's line of cycling tshirts, especially the long sleeve black women's shirt. (Although I am not so certain I would be open to a line of clothing by Jonathan Vaughters): the Johan Bruyneel collection.

    23 March 2011

    A nod, wave, and a wink

    The Cyclist's Greeting
    It is again that time of year in Colorado when people in mass appear out on their bikes anytime the weather rises above 48 degrees. This is the time of year when I remember how to say hi to people 20 feet away from me. You know, the people across the road riding in the opposite direction from me on a bike. If they say hi, so do I. And if I am wearing my team kit, I feel I am obligated to be an upstanding citizen and say hi a lot.
    I go into the market and never think of giving a shout out to every stranger in the vegetable section. I walk to the local ice cream parlor and although the other patrons are enjoying their ice cream as much as I am, I do not need to bond with them by offering a nod of approval for their choice of ice cream flavor. But heaven forbid I miss delivering the customary hello to every person I see on two wheels (and forgive me, I do miss my delivery at times). The cyclist's greeting is part of our cycling culture.
    There is a certain amount of stress that accompanies this cycling tradition. I gotta get it right, and it differs depending on which county or country I am presently riding in. It is hard to take back a casually given wave, when I should have offered a nod. Or too late realize I just smiled, smiled? Oh no, "I meant to nod," I shout over my shoulder to the rider now passing me by. What was I thinking?

    Here in Denver, Colorado, we give a nod. A straight lipped, never show signs of breathing heavily, nod DOWN of the head. Occasionally I will receive a hand down from the bar Jesus kind of wave. It throws me off a bit - is he a real racer I think? When I ride in Boulder County, I must give a wave (never a nod). The Boulder greeting is a slight lift the hand off the handlebars kind of wave. There are so many cyclists in Boulder, this sort of greeting can be timed perfectly with your pedal stroke. In fact, I had an old friend from Norway who was a professional mountain biker who stayed with us in Boulder and threatened to tape a waving hand to her left shoulder because she found this custom so ridiculously repetitive. 
    In France they have the friendliest greeting of all - a nod UP of the head with a bright crisp Bonjour! Bonjour climbing, bonjour ripping past you on the descent, bonjour sitting at a cafe. Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour. The French are so happy to be out riding their bikes, they share their happiness by speaking out loud. People in Denver rarely speak while on their bikes (unless we are trying to make the other person feel better about themselves as we pass them climbing in the same direction). If we do speak to say hi, a cyclist sits up slightly as if to say - "what am I supposed to do with that?". We forget we can actually hear someone 20 feet away from us and respond with a perky "Hello".
    As part of my travel planning and spring training for the year ahead, I have researched the new cyclist's greetings that I will need to learn for my 2011 riding season. In Santa Rosa, California, where I will be riding Levi's GrandFondo, the friendly folks at NorCal bikesport bike shop tell me that they are open to either the wave or the nod, "but never both, that would look silly". In Solvang, California, Dr J's Bicycle Shop happily tells me I may use my customary nod as a greeting. But here is the kicker, since I plan to ride the course of the Amgen Tour of California ITT early on the morning of the actual race in Solvang, chances are I will see a number of cyclists from other states and countries; what greeting should I offer? I am thinking I should choreograph my own original combination of wave, smile, pedal, nod, pedal, wave. I don't know, do you think that would look silly?
    Maybe keep it simple - Bonjour!
    If it is a wave, I must be in Boulder

    Recommended Viewing: Dutch are tough!

    Watch the video on CyclingTips blog today
    I don't think I can complain about our 45mph winds lately in Denver after watching this video.

    22 March 2011

    Cycling is interesting!

    There is a pause when my answer is "Cycling"
    I don't openly admit that I write a blog. I wait until I know someone pretty well before sheepishly opening up about my personal life by saying, "... I write a blog". Then the pause comes as I wait for the inevitable, "you do, what do you write about?". "Cycling," I answer, as I await the second even longer pause. "Really," they say, "do you write every day?" "Nearly," I reply, "I write whatever I think about, whatever captures my interest on that day". 
    Next in an attempt to unwrinkle the look on their face, with great enthusiasm I begin to sell the concept that cycling is incredibly interesting. There is so much to be interested in: the bikes, the riders, the teams, where you ride a bike, the culture, the races, the history, the suffering, the dreams, the drama. From my view of the world, cycling has it all.

    The other day I read an interview with Jonathan Vaughters on his 10-point plan to take over the world of cycling, in which he stated that cycling should be on the level of "Premier Football".  He dreams big. Most Americans don't follow Premier Football, and they don't follow cycling, although they do recognize Lance Armstrong, because Sports Illustrated has paraded his image across their pages for years.
    I on the other hand am simply trying to tread the uncomfortable waters between the pauses after admitting, "My name is Karen, and I write a cycling blog". The questions that then follow this admission are usually, "Do you get many comments?" "No," I tenderly explain, "I mostly offer information and an appreciation for the sport. How can someone make a comment, "you really should try to enjoy riding a bike a little less," or "that is just one too many pictures of Fabian Cancellara"".
    I do however realize the Life Lessons in writing a blog, including: Time is fleeting, so respond now. Creativity flows when it flows, but it is guaranteed to flow. You can learn how to do anything with the right resources and determination. Being around other people who have the same interests makes us feel like we belong (no matter what the interest). Don't talk down to people. Give credit (to others) when credit is due. And lastly blogging allows me to easily correct my mistakes! Where else in life can I do that?
    In writing this blog I am proud to say I have a niche of a niche market in a niche sport that may interest a select group of Americans, but I think it is cool that I have a worldwide audience. Cycling makes me go global (82% of the world's top cyclists are from Europe). Sure there may only be 200 riders in any given race, but there could be upwards of millions of fans watching that race, and over 1 billion people worldwide that ride a bike. Most of whom likely share the same feeling I do when at a race or on a bike - Joie de vivre. 
    I am a cyclist, and I write a cycling blog.

    This is what we do for fun
    At the TDF in the Pyrenees in 2005
    My brother being a fan on Palomar Mountain ATOC 2009
    If you have any doubt about how fantastic cycling is, watch the last kilometers of the recent Milan-San Remo race (which was incredible racing at its best):  Last 10 Km (17:36 Italian) — gazzetta.it