Archive for category 2011

Sacramento Tweed to host Seersucker Ride

Local sartorialists Sacramento Tweed will stage an informal group ride on Sunday, June 26th at 11am in downtown Sacramento. The event will incorporate a picnic in Land Park, a tour of the Crocker Art Museum, and a post-ride tipple at DeVeere’s Irish Pub.

Originally scheduled for the weekend of the 3rd June, the ride was postponed due to the filthy weather. Forecasts are much more favorable for the coming weeks, promising a warm and dry day of cycling-related revelry and Edwardian fashion.

Fans of classic European fabrics will rejoice at the event, which will offer riders the opportunity to showcase their finest seersucker suits. The organization’s blog briefly outlines a suggested dress-code, emphasising a “spirit of inclusiveness and conviviality, which means we don’t care about what you wear (although please wear something appropriate for warm weather–no heavy tweed, please!), or what you ride. All we want is that you wear a smile, and ride what you’re happiest riding.”

The ride begins at 11am in front of Revolution Wines. The shop, located at 29 & S St, will be open an hour early to service the congregated houndstooth enthusiasts in the form of handmade sandwiches for the picnic. Riders will depart and observe a leisurely pace south towards Land Park, where several hours have been set aside for communal luncheon. Cupcakes and iced popsicles will be made available by local retailers for those riders with a sweet tooth.

Post-picnic, aesthetes will again mount their cycles and head to the Crocker, where a special group rate for admission has been offered by the gallery. The thirsty may adjourn to the cafe for a glass of pinot gris, or wait until the group reaches its final destination, DeVeere’s Irish Pub on 15th & L Street. Live music has been promised, the genre of which is yet to be announced. At least one accordion would be appropriate, and no doubt greatly appreciated by the cyclists.

Sacramento Tweed encourages all participants to observe contemporary highway bylaws, while maintaining a certain historic perspective. Cellphones have not been banned, but would probably impinge upon the authenticity of the event.

For more information, visit Sacramento Tweed.

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Successful Bike Month despite poor weather

Sacramento is not the only US city to organize cycling promotions during the month of May, but the local May Is Bike Month initiative has become one of the most successful and widely-observed city programs in the nation since its inception. Thousands of cyclists participate and attend cycling-themed celebrations and events throughout the month, often logging their accumulated mileage on the website.

This year, May Is Bike Month coincided with the return of Bicycle Film Festival to Sacramento, as well as two local stages of the Amgen Tour of California. On the 12th May, the cycling art and culture showcase came to downtown, bringing a selection of films and events. Then, on the 16th, the second official stage (but the first actual race) of the tour finished in Sacramento after a last-minute change to the start. The following day, the peloton rode through Folsom on its way to Modesto.

The success of this year’s May Is Bike Month can be measured in terms of distance traveled. The website – which encourages riders to sign up and log their accumulated miles for the month – this year set a target of 1,000,000 miles before pledges came in which took the total target to 1,474,970. As of 10am Tuesday morning, with fourteen hours to go, the total accumulated miles for May stood at 1,245,229. Many riders may not have visited the website in order to input their personal mileage, so despite the shortfall, the target could easily still be reached. Logging remains open until Friday, June 3rd.

6,717 cyclists from the Sacramento area participated in the website mile-log, with several individuals racking up over 2,000 miles each – around 65 miles everyday – an impressive achievement when you consider the weather, which has brought some of the wettest and coolest conditions on record for the month.

The biggest upset caused by the inclement weather was the last-minute cancellation of the first stage of the Tour of California due to snowfall and freezing temperatures in Lake Tahoe. The poor weather followed the pro cyclists for several days before a brief period of high pressure brought back the usual California conditions. Since then, the Sacramento area has suffered further storms, heavy rain and wind. Forecasts predict clouds and rain showers well into June, before the long-awaited return of sunny, 80F days.

This year’s May Is Bike Month appears to continue the happy trend for more cycling-related events in Sacramento over the previous year. As greater numbers of locals reach for their bike instead of their car-keys, the region grows more healthy and more bike-friendly: a win-win situation.

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British Cycling launches Breeze to get more women on bikes

British Cycling has today launched Breeze, the biggest ever programme focused on getting more women into riding bikes. Breeze is a National Lottery funded nationwide network of fun, local and flexible bike rides designed to close the gap between the number of men and women cycling regularly, and introduce over 80,000 new women to bike riding.

Led by women for women, Breeze bike rides are local, friendly and informal. The short, traffic-free rides are ideal for busy mums and anyone who hasn’t been on a bike for a while and would like to go for a casual bike ride with a small group of women from their area.

Breeze is British Cycling’s response to the growing gap between the number of men and women riding their bikes. Currently three times as many men take part in cycling regularly and the gap is growing, yet research suggests that nearly one million British women would like to ride a bike more often.

In 2011 British Cycling surveyed over 1,000 women to find out what was discouraging them from riding. Results showed that safety concerns, lack of knowledge of routes and having no-one to cycle with were the key barriers to getting involved.

Breeze addresses these concerns and offers women flexible, safe, accessible and fun opportunities to ride a bike as well training and support. The rides are organised by British Cycling trained local Breeze champions and fit around busy work and family lives. Breeze bike rides are free, friendly and open to women of all ages and abilities.

Natalie Justice, Network Manager at British Cycling, said: “Currently only two per cent of women cycle regularly compared to six per cent of men yet we know that nearly one million women would like the opportunity to get out on their bikes and socialise with other women.

The first Breeze bike rides will start in June and roll out in towns and cities across England over the coming months. As part of the programme, British Cycling will train and support 1,000 local Breeze champions, female volunteers who will add their riders to the Breeze network at times to suit them and their groups.

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “Breeze is responding to what women want by offering them a fun and flexible way to get involved in cycling. Our investment of almost one million pounds of Lottery funding in Breeze will help us to tackle the gender gap in sport and deliver a mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Breeze is funded by the National Lottery via Sport England’s Active Women’s Fund and designed to get over 80,000 women back on a bike or riding for the first time. It also aims to convert 20,000 of them into regular cyclists over the next three years, reversing a trend that has seen 35,000 women drop out of bike riding in recent years.

To find a Breeze bike ride in your local area or to find out how to become a Local Breeze Champion, go to www.breezebikerides.com.

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at my desk, trying not to cry

From some of the best writing about Wouter Weylandt I’ve seen:

But this was something very special. It seemed like the entire route was lined with spectators respectfully clapping. No other noise, no cheering. Just the patter of applause. This was particularly marked in the towns and there were signs of support everywhere; municipal flags at half mast, church bells slowly ringing, Belgian flags and at one stage a rash of what looked like pieces of A4 paper replicating Wouters’ race number reading “ 108 is present “. Meanwhile in Wouter’s home town of Gent, after weeks of sunshine, it was pouring with rain.

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By Bike | Weeks 16 & 17, “Cru, remember the lumber yard…go balls out”

I’m not really sure where it came from or how it started, but there was a time in my life when my sisters and I would watch Rad 3 or 4 times a week, then we’d go outside on our bikes (mine was something between a mountain bike and a BMX bike) and ride down the two steps in front of the house, over the grass, off the curbs. We’d dive from our moving bikes onto our front lawn and roll. We pretended to run from Sargent Smith and race Bart Taylor. We had a “special love” for the movie.

Until my first road bike, playing Rad was the most fun I’d ever had on a bike.

But I grew up. Pretending to be chased by Sargent Smith became childish. The bike became utilitarian – a way to get to a summer job at the pool or something to avoid because your mom makes you wear a helmet. My sister started driving and I preferred to ride with her. Then I started driving and preferred it over biking (I’d never have called it cycling back then). The bike was a toy. Toys are for kids.

And we stopped watching Rad too.

Now, if you know anything about me, you probably know I have no interest in racing my bike. It’s not that I don’t like going fast or value getting faster. It’s not even that I’m afraid of riding in a group or bunch sprints or losing. Mostly it’s about fun.

I ran cross-country and track in high school, on a competitive team. I know about training. And, it’s true, some people enjoy that. The daily grind and going out in the rain because you owe yourself X miles. For me, It’s too much like work.

Most days, I’m on my bike. It’s fun. And I can, if I want (and I often do) pretend to train. Hill repeats on Beatty? Why not? Intervals on the Canal Trail? Ok. I can also take a day off without feeling guilty. I can spin home, into a headwind, and chat with another commuter. I could, if I wanted to (not that I would), turn around halfway up a steep climb and call it a day.

Yesterday, on the Canal Trail, I passed a group of seven guys and pretended I was in a break. I was Oscar Friere, they were the peloton. In the drops, I hammered home. Phil Ligget was in my ear announcing the gap. When I looked over my shoulder I expected them to be in an organized chase, bearing down on me. They were not. They were all sitting up, chatting, completely unaware of my presence. I put my head back down and went back to it. They didn’t have to play if they didn’t want.

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On ATOC, weather, old friends we met for the first time and beer before noon

The story of the Amgen Tour of California is, if you were to listen to real sports writers paid to cover things like the Amgen Tour of California, a story about weather. By now, anyone reading this blog knows about the cancelled Stage 1 and truncated Stage 2. You’ve read stories about snow and rain – perhaps you’ve even stood outside in the rain just to catch the glimpse of the pro-peloton rolling through your neighborhood.

But since I’m a cycling fan first and a member of the press second (or third or fourth, even), I’ll say something a bit different about this race that I’ve heard several people called cursed – by now you, no doubt, know all about the weather woes of previous editions of this race. Because I’m a cycling fan first, I’m going to talk about cycling fans.

I’ve been at the finishing circuit every year they ATOC has circled the Capitol. I’ve sat in the rain drinking beers outside Crepeville, sipped Fat Tire from a can at the Amgen VIP booth, shot photos from the corner of 18th and L – opposite Crepeville – and I’ve leaned over orange barricades 75 meters from the finish. I’m not the only one.

The crowds do fluctuate. Rain tends to keep those who work downtown from running outside to watch the finish before they clock out for the day. Lance Armstrong tends to attract casual fans more interested in cycling’s pop star than anything else. Even as I walked around I heard more than a few people coming out of their offices to find the roads closed and musing about what it is that must be happening.

But then there’s the rest of us. With our tablets, smart-phones and laptops streaming the race at is approaches. Walking around the Lifestyle Fair just so we can drool over the latest bicycles from the big manufacturers. We care about the results – even if we have no idea what’s going on until the Peloton roars by at 40 miles per hour. We care about the excitement of the roar of 150 or so of the fastest cyclists in the world blowing past in an all out sprint. We don’t care about the rain, mostly.

Fewer people showed up to the finish this year, I’m sure. But it was still crowded. People still lined up at the barricades three or four deep. Because we love cycling. We love the bike. We love it February. We love it in May. We love it in the snow. We love it in the rain.

So yes, on Monday, with rain threatening, I took my press pass downtown and drooled over bikes and ran up and took a couple of photos of Ben Swift after his victory and went to the press conference and had a beer with Sam, all because I love cycling. Not so much because I love professional cycling but because I just like cycling.

And then, on Tuesday, I did it again. Only this time with on my bike, with guaranteed rain, to the sprint point in Folsom. Kurt and I rode out early, scoped out the route and more or less just milled around and grabbed a good spot near the sprint point. We stood around in the rain. We took pictures. We met friends. And we weren’t the only ones.

But why?

At Monday’s press conference Andrew Messick, President of AEG Sports, talked about the timeline around moving the Stage 2 start from Squaw Valley USA to Nevada City. It was sometime after midnight, he said, that he first contacted the Nevada City race committee and told them about the change. By 6:30 that morning Nevada City was ready to host the start of Stage 2. With almost no notice, cycling fans turned up at the start and saw the riders off, kicking off the Tour of California in style.

Several years ago now, I accompanied my wife to her company holiday party and I met Sam. The British spouse of my wife’s co-worker who had a funny last name and, like me, was just starting to ride his bike. Eventually, we started riding together and now I count Sam as one of my best friends; because of the relationship we built on the bike.

A co-worker and I started talking about cycling one day. He was a mountain biker. I was a roadie. We conjured up an idea for a blog about cycling and just ran with it.

A handful of cyclists interact with me or this blog on Twitter. Yesterday, I met one of those people, in person, for the first time. It was a blast and, at least I think, we hit it off as fast friends. I was even there when she drank a beer before noon for the first time, ever. And while that was happening, thousands of people lined up on the side of the road to catch a glimpse of elite professional cyclists ride past, in a matter of seconds.

But do we love cycling because of the people? Or do we love the people because they love cycling?

Does it even matter?

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Peloton

This is pretty much exactly how it felt when the riders came down L street as they circled the Capitol.

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Ben Swift after ATOC Stage 2 Victory

Completely unedited video of Ben Swift at the press conference after his Stage 2 (or is it 1?) victory at the Amgen Tour of California (you really have to crank up the audio to hear, sorry).

I’ll post a couple of photos tonight or tomorrow with a full write-up of my ATOC adventures after Stage 3 (or is it 2?), tomorrow.

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Dear ATOC…


I snapped this after the awards ceremony. Didn’t have time to chat, but I think it’s pretty self explanatory.

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By Bike | Weeks 14 & 15 (miles 1149 – 1263)

Ok, so week 15 isn’t quite over yet. I’ll be riding into work in the next 30 minutes or so.

This week I’ve been working a later schedule. Arriving at around 8:15 and heading home at 5:30. At almost 4 months of commuting, I’m pretty comfortable wondering around the office in my cycling kit and was caught off guard the last couple of days when co-workers looked me up and down and said, “you riding your bike home?”

Decked out in my Lycra shorts, carrying a helmet & water bottle, I have to wonder what else these people suspect I might be doing. Perhaps they’re familiar with the OED’s definition of cycling shorts:

But I’m not sure anyone has worn cycling shorts as a “fashion item” since the early 1990s.

So I find myself explaining my commute to people who haven’t yet noticed that I’m that weird guy who dresses up in skin-tight clothes and actually pedals into work each day. “Do you ride everyday?” “How far is it?” “How long does it take?” How long would it take me to ride 25 miles? An hour?” I’m happy to talk about it, but mostly, I just want to get on with the ride.

Next week I’ll be back to my normal shift and the same people who are already familiar, if still not comfortable, with my morning and afternoon costume change.

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