30 September 2013

Recommended Viewing: One Wet Worlds

Shimano Video - on the road at Worlds

Shimano has created this video to capture the conditions at the World Championships yesterday:

1. n. extensive slaughter, esp of human beings in battle
2. slang in cycling for what happened at Worlds Elite Mens Race

Related posts by Pedal Dancer®: Only 61 Riders Completed Worlds (out of 208!) and Let's go to Italy!

27 September 2013

Let's go to Italy!

UCI Road World Championships

That's the long name, the short punchy name is Toscana 2013. We'd  better get on the plane now because the ship has already left port and docked for the time trial races. At this point I won't feel bad for reporting who won those races because that is old (although good) news:

Results - 2013 World Championships  

World Champion Time Trial Elite Men: Tony Martin (GER)

World Champion Time Trial Elite Women: Ellen Van Dijk (NED)

World Champion Time Trial U23 Mens: Damien Howson (AUS)

World Champion Time Trial Junior Mens: Igor Decraene (BEL)

World Champion Time Trial Junior Womens: Eraud Severine (FRA)

World Champions Team Time Trial Mens: Omega Pharma-Quickstep (BEL)
World Champions Team Time Trial Women: Specialized - Lululemon (USA)

World Champion Road Junior Women: Amalie Diderikson (DEN)

World Champion Road U23: Matej Mohoric (SLO)

TOMORROW Saturday 28 September, we will get to watch:


FINAL DAY Sunday 29 September, we will get to watch:

ROAD RACE ELITE MEN (results) (report)

Now where is all this happening? - in Tuscany, Italy!

Racing from Lucca to Florence in magnificent Tuscany, Italy.
The elite mens road race on Sunday will race just over 100km from the charming town of Luca to the major historical city of Florence (Firenze), where the riders will complete 10 circuit laps, totaling 272.2km by the time it is all over. Route maps.

There are two climbs on route before reaching the circuit course in Florence which has two climbs. The first climb is Montecarlo averaging 3.5% with a maximum grade of 9%. The second climb is San Baronto averaging 7.1% with a maximum grade of 11%. The repetitive circuits should make or break the race. And the rain, rain, rain.

Race from Luca to Florence and add 10 circuit laps
2013 World Road Championships route map
About the race

The Mens Elite Road Race will begin at 10:00:00 on Sunday, September 29th in Lucca, Italy. Lap #1 begins at kilometer 106,56 inside the city of Florence at approximately 12:30pm. 10 laps will be completed with an estimated finish time (after 272,26 km total) estimated to be between 16:45-17:28pm. Coverage online in the USA should begin at approximately 12:40h CEST (4:40:00 AM MDT).

Full rider startlists by country for the remaining races at the World Championships may be found here. Race timetable here.

#1 on the startlist is Philippe Gilbert - defending World Champion and a favorite of mine (although a long-shot for Sunday, but you never know). I am also a huge fan of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Greg Van Avermaet and Mark Cavendish, but this might be a Vincenzo Nibali or Richie Porte kind of course. And then there is Peter Sagan - the perfect climber / sprinter package, but his season started a long time ago and I am not sure he still has full gas in the tank. 

I pick an all-rounder/ climber who can spike his heart-rate and power repeatedly, recover rapidly in order to hang in the lead group out of trouble, reserve enough for when the pace really goes up on the last two circuit laps when the riders who are tired from recent races will be spit out the back, and then sprint past all the others for the finish line. Mostly he has to have an all out desire to win.
Philippe Gilbert  Photo © by Mike Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Representing the United States at Worlds will be:
BUSCHE Matthew #70
HORNER Christopher #71
HOWES Alex #72
PHINNEY Taylor #73
STETINA Peter #74
TALANSKY Andrew #75

Great Britain has a very strong team:
CUMMINGS Stephen #36
EDMONDSON Joshua #37
FROOME Christopher #38
ROWE Luke #39
THOMAS Geraint #41
WIGGINS Bradley #42

And of course we must look at the Italians in Italy:
NIBALI Vincenzo #17
NOCENTINI Rinaldo #18
PAOLINI Luca #19
POZZATO Filippo #20
SCARPONI Michele #22
ULISSI Diego #23
VANOTTI Alessandro #24
VISCONTI Giovanni #25

Who will win?

You have to understand the course very well to predict who will win Worlds. Plus factor in recent races and results for each of the riders. Lots of good previews and guesses are out there, but I am going to go solely with Cycling Tips because he has an outstanding record in predicting the winner, and laying out an excellent preview:

Read: 2013 UCI World Championship Road Race preview, by Cycling Tips

The most exciting thing for me about Worlds is that the riders get to ride for country and not team (except for the team time trial). Maybe it is time at this point, to look back at this post I wrote in 2012 about World Champion Jerseys which shows the jerseys, medals and emblems awarded to the winners of the various disciplines.
The small Team Time Trial emblem on team OPQS jersey will be worm throughout the year by all team members.
I noticed that 9 out of the last 12 men who stood on the podium at the World Road Race in the past four years will again be competing against each other this Sunday (Davis, Goss and Greipel are not on this year's startlist). 42 of the top 50 ranked cyclists in the world will compete, the competition will be tough and unpredictable.

Recent Results: 
• 2009 - Location: Switzerland - Mendrisio - 262km
1. EVANS Cadel (AUS)
2. KOLOBNEV Alexandr (RUS)
3. RODRIGUEZ Joaquin (ESP)
• 2010 - Location: Australia - Melbourne - 257km
3. DAVIS Allan (AUS)
• 2011 - Location: Denmark - Copenaghen - 266km
2. GOSS Matthew (AUS)
3. GREIPEL Andre (GER)
• 2012 - Location: Netherlands - Valkenburg - 267Km
1. GILBERT Philippe (BEL)
3. VALVERDE Alejandro (ESP)

Full historical results since 1927, for the World Championships, may be found here. 
Worlds in 2014

The UCI World Championships in 2014 will be held in Ponferrada, Spain (13-21 September. 2014).

Watch the Race

To watch the action of the final days of World Championships LIVE online or on TV, check out the list of options at this link at Steephill.TV, which also offers this link: Men's Road Race Flythrough (01:47 English)gcn

Circuits in the city of Florence
circuit profile and map (cut off at the edges)
Location of circuit route area after traveling through downtown Florence and the major tourist area.
Italy - a wonderful place to travel!

Now let's look at some photos from my trip to Florence last year (and other years), and oh how I wish I traveled to Italy this year to see Worlds! All photos by Karen Rakestraw at Pedal Dancer®

Florence (Firenze)
The Italian light is breathtaking
A magnificent city
Florence is a city of art
The landmark Ponte Vecchio at night
Duomo at night
Duomo at day
Santa Croce at night under a full moon
i due Fratellini - a delicious sandwich and wine "dispensary" in Florence
A visit to the local enoteca for some wine
Grom gelato, so delicious
A 10 foot squared space packed full of goodness
Spectacular views across the city of Florence
Ponte Vecchio in the day
 A copy of David outside the Uffizi gallery in the Piazza della Signoria
A nice place to sit outside at a cafe and have an espresso on the Palazzo Vecchio

It just looks so Italian
Visiting my niece Kristina, who studied Architecture in Florence for a year.
I also went cycling in Tuscany a number of years ago with a tour group led by a friend, it was wonderful! In between visits to Florence and Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, and so many other big and small towns, we pedaled our bikes for miles, drank wine, cooked and ate delicious food and generally enjoyed each others company and the magnificent Italian scenery.

Bike Tour Companies in Italy
Velo Classic Tours, Thomson Bike Tours, Marty Jemison Tours, Cinghiale Tours, Ciclismo Classico, Trek Travel, Saddle Skedaddle, Womens Quest, VBT, Duvine, Adventure Travel Group, and many small local operators who are sometimes wonderful.

Cycling in Tuscany
Here we are cycling to yet another hilltop village in Tuscany
We took cooking lessons as well on this cycling trip - it was a blast.
Took a ferry out to cycle on the Island of Albi
And drank a lot of wine and laughed a lot while enjoying the views and perfect weather
I love Tuscany, Italy!
Villages, cities or regions definitely worth visiting in Tuscany:
  • Florence (shopping and museums)
  • Sienna (with its Piazza del Campo)
  • Pisa (the Leaning Tower of Pisa)
  • Lucca (Mario Cipollini's home town)
  • Cortona (take a walk)
  • San Gimignano (interesting towers)
  • Chianti Classico Wine Region
  • Montepulciano
  • Pienza and Val d'Orcia
  • Montencatini Terme
  • Volterra (ride your bike up the steep hill to the piazza)
  • Val di Chiana
  • Montalcino (with its Enoteca la Fortezza)
Popular tourist sites in Florence
  • Galleria degli Uffizi
  • Museo Nazionale del Bargello 
  • Gallerie Dell'Accademia (Michelangelo's David)
  • Museo Galileo 
  • Il Duomo
  • The Baptistery
  • Campanile Bell Tower
  • Ponte Vecchio 
  • Giardino di Boboli and Pitti Palace
  • Santa Croce
  • Piazza della Signoria
  • Palazzo Vecchio 
Related reading by Pedal Dancer®:
Only 61 Riders Completed Worlds
Recommended Viewing: One Wet Worlds

26 September 2013

Writing - where creativity and passion merge

Or Cycling - where hard work and passion merge

I wasn't quite sure which title applied best to the topic in my mind today, but I wanted to discuss cycling journalism. Mostly because I read an honest to the point post by Twisted Spoke (love Twisted Spoke!) titled Reaction to Velocast opinion piece on cycling journalism, a response to VeloCast's Stop The Press piece on - you guessed it - cycling journalism.

Now I have my opinions on this topic as well. My experience stemming from years of writing and photographing cycling. Would I call myself a journalist - no. I would call myself a storyteller, who aims to educate or impassion my fellow cyclists or fans. And that is my point - what we all share is a passion for the sport of cycling. That is why we are here doing what we do. It certainly is not for the money or the fame.

I greatly value the journalists, the bloggers, the storytellers, the tweeters, the facebookers, the photographers, the promoters, the organizers, the sponsors, the racers, the riders, our local bicycling associations, and USA Cycling (and maybe UCI in the future). This is a community effort from individuals trying to make the community of cycling run smoothly, prosper and grow.

My piece of that big picture is to contribute as a writer. To be a writer is almost an uncontrollable creative need to put life's experiences to word. Any good writer will tell you they get lost in the words, time disappears, we reread our words (to check for typos) hardly remembering that space existing between thought and hard copy. Did I write that? Words flow for a writer, and nothing is better than when we get to write about that which interests us.

I can write about anything. That I know. My job for years had me writing about forklifts and backhoes, about demographics of a southern California town, or about party rentals. I can also write up a multidisciplinary plan of action to insure a medical facility retains Medicare funding. But for me, writing about cycling must come from a place of joy because it is a hobby. A hobby I am truly passionate about.

Even when I dislike what I see, a positive spirit shines through when I write about cycling. Thank God because sometimes I truly do not like what I see. We don't get paid well, okay, I don't get paid at all, and yet I find myself sometimes playing along with the game, following those weird rules required of cycling journalists, when I am not a reporter. Why do I do this?

Who are we writing for: The readers, the advertisers, ourselves or the real story? 

Did you know that to be accepted as media for a big tour in the USA, the PR people read through your stuff to make sure you are writing about their race in a favorable light? Did you know that teams will grant access to a rider if you say and do good things for them? If not, they have their own media people - they don't need you, they can spin it their way. Did you know that riders hold grudges and have favorites? You probably did, but this means we are somewhat required to write propaganda if we want access. Is access worth having to display a warped reality?

If you think the old days of journalist intimidation are over and done with, you are wrong.

Add to this old tradition, the new tradition of readers lambasting journalists and bloggers in comments sections following every piece and you will understand why Velo News, and others, have removed their comments sections. It was serving no good and fracturing this "cycling community" we are trying so hard to recreate. What happened to the days when we could sit through a college lecture and take from it what we could, knowing it would broaden our thoughts later? What happened to good conversation that left us richer and having learned something rather than just proving our own point in anger?

Writings should be taken into the mind, mulled over, learned from or discarded according to our own developing beliefs. Not everything needs a knee-jerk public "like" or dislike on display. Meeting someone's writings is like meeting a person, some you like, some you don't - just move on. But I say, always try to leave a person feeling better about themselves, even if you disagree with their reasoning.

If we do not allow intelligent polite freedom of speech, the cycling Media cannot (or will be too afraid to) break out of the era of Armstrong and the sports continued medial control.

I recently witnessed a situation with a local writer who regularly spends his time developing a community site to inform cyclists of safety issues, bike advocacy, training and events. He takes his time to post local race results and gather all the local photographer sites together in one place so that local racers can feel special. Those same cyclists he tried to help, recently attacked him mercilessly online after a brief opinion piece he dared to write to start a conversation. Well that was one bad conversation where I too was attacked.

Do you think I want to volunteer my time to support local weekend racers with such behavior - no, I don't. Those cyclists stripped the passion right out of me. I am not a journalist who gets paid to write proper approved content to maintain advertisement revenue. Today I am thinking I was brilliant to have basically turned off my comments section (now with full moderation only) on this blog months ago, welcoming comments through facebook instead; a place where a face and name is behind every written comment.

It was curious timing this week when Twisted Spoke wrote his post on cycling journalism, because I have had such strong feelings recently that I want to sell a product because "people can vote with their money." I wouldn't have to worry about being popular and cool, or in the norm by pleasing every opinion, or waste time populating the pages of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to promote my own persona. I could just produce quality and sell, anonymously. Sounds wonderful, and peaceful.

I remain more than grateful for my loyal readers and for those who come looking for, and find, answers to their questions on my site. Welcome and please come back again, I'll be writing about topics unapproved and uncensored. And unpaid. With little access.

Here I am recently interviewing Lachlan David Morton (team Garmin). He is offering me body language indicating I am a pain in the neck, that is because I ask the hard-hitting journalistic questions - this one happened to be, "Which was your favorite town in Colorado?" His answer - Aspen! "That's not usually the kind of place a bike racer finds himself hanging around," Lachlan explained. Oh I "Liked" his answer.

Now I hope no one writes a nasty comment about Aspen (e.g., "I hate Aspen!"), because I really stuck my neck out to bring you the true story of this interview.

Photo taken in Denver, Colorado, by Ryan Wallace, an unpaid photographic journalist for Pedal Dancer®, with strong opinions of his own.
More reading from today: Too Many Local Journalists Are Missing The Big Story: Revenue, or video: The Funding of Journalism: Practice, research and future.

18 September 2013

Interbike, Cross Vegas tonight

Watching Cross Vegas ain't free

Cross Vegas takes place tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada. To many of us Cross Vegas shares equal (or greater) attraction to attending Interbike itself. Cross Vegas originated from the idea of having a bike race while so many in the bike industry were gathered together for an equipment convention. Now that the race attracts such big names, it stands on it's own as a main attraction. One thing is for certain, Cross Vegas + Interbike makes for a great two days of bike entertainment.

If only it weren't in Vegas. In know, I know, some people love Las Vegas, I love the bikes and the people. This year I am not there, but I have memories of my numerous visits. Many thousands of cycling enthusiasts are in Las Vegas, and most likely they are at Cross Vegas tonight. For those of us at home, we can watch Cross Vegas online, for a fee (info below).

We can also read the fantastic bike equipment reviews online, and catch up on the latest and greatest equipment that we may have missed at Eurobike last month, by reading the reports from Interbike by:
I have been to Interbike a number of times, so I know what we cannot get online are the typical sights and scenes of Interbike

Meeting Miguel Indurain (omg) in person (Tom Boonen and Sven Nys were at the show this year).
Miguel Indurain at Interbike 2012  Photo by Karen Rakestraw at Pedal Dancer®
Basically stalking Mario Cipollini
Mario Cipollini at Interbike 2012   Photo by Karen Rakestraw at Pedal Dancer®
Getting to meet Steve Hill of Steephill.TV and Michele Acquarone, Race Organizer of the Giro d'Italia (and hold that awesome trophy!). 
Steve Hill and Michele Acquarone at Interbike 2012  Photo by Karen Rakestraw at Pedal Dancer®
Looking at the BMC Team Machine SLR01
Or seeing a super fast McLaren Venge
Look over there it's a Scott Plasma Premium time trail bike
A Fuji Track Elite bike
Isle after isle of bikes at Interbike, and people!
People making business deals for apparel and equipment
Standing and staring at bikes
And drooling over disc brakes
Or fancy road shoes
And some Pinarello bikes
But there is more than just road bikes at Interbike
You will also see rows and rows of Zipp wheels
Plus they have really cool winning bikes on display like Tom Boonen's Paris Roubaix bike below (also Sagan's Cannondale, the Tour de France yellow winning Pinarello, and many other team bikes are on display)
It was cool to see this bike again since I had seen Tom Boonen race and win the Paris-Roubaix in that same year.
Lots of book signings go on as well - here is Louis Garneau
Sometimes the old classics are the best
And then I usually go up and down the same isle again just to make sure Mario Cipollini is still hanging around in his tailored white Italian shirt.
Say a quick hello to Elvis as he checks out the gear on the floor at Interbike
And finally after breathing air-conditioned convention air for seven hours, I walk outside where I realize - Las Vegas is one weird place. And hot!

Cross Vegas is fun, but it aint' free !

It is one of a kind, and while watching online is possible, it costs - and I am CHEAP.

I understand that ads and ads alone cannot cover the costs of broadcasting a race like Cross Vegas for free to us viewers, but I fear the viewership will drop drastically with this paid scheme. Race Organizers should increase visitor tickets by $2-4 and subsidize Cycling Dirt's coverage to promote their race around the world. They have the international riders, they should be delivering race viewing to international (and national) fans.

And/or Cycling Dirt should make viewing the race, the same as renting a video, a one-time renting deal for $6.99. No confusing strings of a magazine membership attached.

Cycling Dirt is charging to watch Cross Vegas online this year

Cycling Dirt is LIVE streaming Cross Vegas 2013, (more info) you'll have to pay $14.95. You have to become a PROdirt member, for a month, then cancel your subscription if you are no longer interested, or continue to be billed $19.95 a month. If you’re not already a member, sign up now (pay now).

Cross Vegas - at night under the lights, every view is a good view of the race
Tons of fun for fans. I have no photos of the mens race because I was drinking beer and handing up dollar bills!
Being there far surpasses watching it online, because try as you may to stuff your dollars bills into your screen, only the stragglers at the back of the real pack of cyclocross racers in Vegas will gladly collect your dollars and stuff them into parts you don't want to know about. (Cross Vegas - Vegas style)

For this much fun, you must go to Cross Vegas. A ticket to Cross Vegas costs $10.00. Hotels (for 1 night) are about the same price as your flight to and from the city of glitz, taxis are ungodly expensive (and you will still walk miles and miles), but free shuttle buses are provided from Interbike to the park where the cyclocross race is held north of the Vegas stripe.

As always riding the bus (and also any plane to and from Interbike) is guaranteed fun as you will be surrounded by bike geeks on par with yourself. A scary but comforting notion.

Also this year Cross Vegas race organizers are offering a Special Interbike entrance for Cross Vegas Fans: CrossVegas fans are invited to attend Interbike for only $25.00 on Friday September, 20th, from 11am-6pm. Register here.

Cross Vegas Information and Schedule

Location: Desert Breeze Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada
Transportation Maps
Course Map
Men's Elite startlist
Women's Elite startlist
Wheelers & Dealers startlist
6:30 – Wheelers & Dealers to Start Grid
6:50 – Wheelers & Dealers Intros
7:00 – Wheelers & Dealers race Starts
7:40 – Wheelers & Dealers race Ends
7:45 – Course Open for warm-up
7:45 – Wheelers & Dealers Award Ceremony
8:00 – Course Closed for warm-up
8:00 – Elite Women to Start Grid
8:05 – Elite Women Intros
8:20 – Elite Women Start
9:00 – Elite Women Finish
9:10 – Elite Women Award Ceremony
9:10 – Elite Men to Start Grid
9:20 – Elite Men Intros
9:30 – Elite Men Start
10:30 – Elite Men Finish
10:50 – Elite Men Award Ceremony
11:00 – Curtains

World Champion CX Sven Nys is competing tonight!
Gambling men
An interesting photo Cross Vegas 2013, this is what it feels like to watch CX under the lights at night in Las Vegas.:
Results Cross Vegas 2013 

Elite Mens Race
1. Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony)
2. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus)
3. Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing)

Elite Womens Race
1. Katerina Nash (Luna)
2. Lea Davison (Specialized)
3. Catharine Pendrel (Luna) 

Wheelers and Dealers Race
1. Christian Heule
2. Johnny Sunndt 
3. Edwin Bull (Van Dessel)

Cross Vegas is sponsored by Cliff Bar!! Thank you.
All photos in this post taken by Karen Rakestraw at Pedal Dancer®

Tom Boonen signing autographs at the Specialized booth for a "thrilled fan" at Interbike 2013 in Las Vegas.