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As some of you might know I was recently banned by the International Blogging Committee for use of performance enhancing substances. For years I have denied use of said substances. Some of you may have seen me last week give an interview where I admitted to the charges and, more or less, begged to be reinstated as a blogger. Many of you, however, missed my interview because it aired opposite some old guy talking to Oprah about things we all already knew.
I’ll be the first to admit that this confession should have come sooner (let’s say sometime last week) but what they say is true, I have not only used caffeine and alcohol to fuel the content of this blog, but I was also part of a larger conspiracy to cover up the use of these substances by others on the internet. Today, I’m here to say what you already know but I’m here to say it out loud and with the cache of someone on the inside: If it weren’t for coffee and booze the internet would basically be a common room on campus at Brigham Young University.
That’s not what you people want.
They say that people vote with their wallets and it’s the same with the internet and, as long as videos by Hannah Hart remain popular, the International Blogging Community will never be cleaned up:
What I’m saying is that yes, I did cheat. Yes, I did use substance to unnaturally improve the quality of content on this site. Yes, I did deserve a lifetime ban. But you guys will not be rid of me that easily. I’m sorry I didn’t come clean sooner, but you guys forced me into it and, no matter what I say now, It’s not going to stop.
So, we were pedaling along just fine. Some might even say we were just coming into form. We had readers and followers and twitters (there’s a chance we still have a few of those things) and posts. There were even a few of us that could be expected to post something a couple of times a week, at the very least, then something happened. There was a slight touch of wheels in the group and, it seems, most of us hit the tarmac, hard.
It’s true. Crashes are a part of the sport. Even if you’re not competing you can expect that, at least once, you’ll topple to the ground. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic and, in many cases, it’s more embarrassing than painful. Maybe you went into a slick turn too fast, touched wheels with the guy in front of you, forgot to clip-out at the stoplight, hit a rock at slow speeds and pitched over the handlebars, or one of the things that happened to people other than me…after the crash the first thing we do is take stock. Broken bones? No. Excessive bleeding? No. Is the bike operable? Yes. Can I still ride it? Yes. Should I still ride it? Probably not. Will I still ride it? Yes.
Then we limp home hoping that no one we know saw the crash and that those who didn’t will think us tough and manly instead of clumsy and foolish.
It’s just slightly different if you leave your brand new bike on the roof of your car as you pull into the garage. The difference is in the shame and anger and feeling of stupidity that comes with crunching noise of house on bike violence.
When that happens, you don’t want to take stock. Opening the door and getting out to find that the force of the accident as used your carbon fork as a lever to rip the roof mounted rack from the top of the car and left it hanging, impotent, from the 2 remaining mounts is the last thing you want to do. When it happened to me I wasn’t even able to pretend to assess the damage before I dropped the mangled bike in the grass and tried to put my fist through the rear window of the car (a task I was, luckily, unsuccessful at).
Even now, a few weeks, a new fork, and a new brake caliper later, I’m angry at myself for letting something so dumb happen. Despite my wife’s claim that the whole incident was her fault (because we were shopping for a new bike for her and she was talking to me when it happened) there’s no one to blame but the man behind the wheel.
So, maybe it wasn’t a touch of wheels that derailed this site. Maybe it was something more controllable. Maybe someone left the damn thing on top of the car and drove it into the garage. Maybe it was me.
There isn’t a picture. I didn’t think to take one. It never occured to me that this would be the end. You can imagine my surprise when I got the call.
“I’m calling from REI about your Novara.”
“Novara is not authorizing the repair.”
The end result is (going to be) a new bike. Which is good for me, right? I was going to need a new crankset and a new cassette pretty soon anyway. And now I don’t need to install that cable and housing I have in the garage. And, I’m going to have a brand new bike.
But, Eva is gone. That cable stop snapped off clean. The frame was undamaged. Even the mechanics at REI thought it would be a simple repair, a couple of new rivets and I could be on my way. Instead, it was a flesh wound that festered and killed my bike. Now she’s off to some junk yard (or some clever REI mechanic is making her into a carbon singles speed – that’s what I’d do).
Earlier tonight I drove over to REI to finalize the return and order my new bike. Standing at the counter waiting for the mechanics to sort out my return I caught a glimpse of my bike through the open doors. They rolled it by, took of the pedals and that was it. She was gone.
We cyclists often talk about our bikes like they’re people. The bikes we ride get names and genders and have personalities. We feel guilty when they’re neglected and baby them whenever we can. It’s a special relationship. It’s probably not healthy but it’s the way we are.
I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
We turned 2 today.
Since our first post I’ve become a regular bike commuter and Kurt has ridden in his first bike race. What I said originally is still true: we’re not experts at anything, really.
Now, go ride your bike.
Sacramento-area cyclists seeking long group rides should note that the city of Davis will host a new event on May 6th, the Legends Gran Fondo, which is organized by the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. The charity ride, which is open to the public, will raise money to support the USBHoF, a non-profit which recognizes the achievements of American cyclists.
The Legends Gran Fondo will start and finish in downtown Davis, at Central Park on 3rd and C Street. Participants will be given the option of riding the full gran fondo, a 90-mile round trip, or the Medio, a 65-mile route equivalent to a metric century.
Riders on the two routes will have access to high-quality rest-stop nourishment, SAG support and the opportunity to ride alongside some notable names in American cycling, says Blair Robertson in the Sacramento Bee. The most recognizable name, perhaps, is that of Greg LeMond, who won the Tour de France three times before creating his own line of road bikes.
‘Gran fondo’-style events have grown in popularity over the past decade, perhaps because they offer amateur riders the illusion of a pro-tour atmosphere, a contrast to the low-key club rides usually available to them. The bigger gran fondos – most notably Levi’s King Ridge Gran Fondo in Sonoma are spectacular events, featuring very large entry pools, lavish rest-stops, celebrity-participation and a festival atmosphere. In comparison, many charity century rides are dour, poorly organized and exclude riders who are unable to raise sufficient funds.
The Legends Gran Fondo features attractions like starting line call-ups, escorted rolling-enclosure starts, police and medical support, technical assistance, and an official timing-system which gives participants the chance to log their overall speed and progress. The routes are limited to 1,000 riders for this inaugural year, and they take riders out towards Winters, then south for a wide loop. Gran-route riders will do a second loop to make up the additional miles.
Registration fees are $95 for either route, which entitles participants to all the benefits of a fully-supported ride, plus a commemorative t-shirt, or $135, which includes a limited-edition USBHoF jersey. For more information, visit the USBHoF website.
After a week of rain we’re getting a break from the late winter this week (rumor has it that it might rain again tomorrow but, it’s going to be almost 70°). It’s about time y’all start thinking about commuting.
Lucky for you, between now and Sunday you can go to Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery and trade in that SUV for a bike.
Customers can pick out a new bike at the cyclery — which features a giant flat-screen TV, leather club chairs and an espresso maker, not to mention some sweet two-wheeled rides — then head over the Ford dealership. They’ll trade in their cars, get a check and head back to the bike shop. Any leftover money goes back to the customer.
If I only had an extra car.
Friday, March 2nd is the first day of the annual North American Handmade Bike Show, which is being held in Sacramento for the first time this year. The exhibition brings cycling manufacturers and enthusiasts together for three days of events showcasing the finest handmade bicycles in the world.
Every year since 2005, NAHBS has assembled industry pioneers and innovators in a succession of cycling-friendly cities for the event, which has grown in attendance by 10% each year. This year, 172 individual exhibitors will spread out across the Convention Center in anticipation of several thousand attendees. Last year, the show attracted more than 7,300 industry enthusiasts.
In addition to the vendors’ booths, the show features seminars on a range of topics from framebuilding and engineering, innovation in bike frame materials, custom design and the business of marketing small-production high-end frames.
NAHBS predicts new trends in bike building for 2012, including a surge in the use of modern stainless steel, which is gaining popularity as a lightweight and strong alternative to traditional steel frames. Also, after several years of high-profile road-bikes dominating the national consciousness, mountain-bikes and city-bikes will this year form the majority of the total bike categories represented.
Running concurrently with NAHBS is the local ArtBike! community arts initiative, which will be promoting cycling-related film and culture in Sacramento. Hosts include the ever-reliable midtown restaurant Hot Italian (creators of the Savage Sprints), and a tie-in with Sacramento Beer Week, which is currently in progress.
NAHBS kicks-off on Friday with an industry-exclusive morning, followed by regular admission until 6pm. Awards take place on Sunday at 3pm at the stage area of Hall B & C. Pre-registration is available from the website, and tickets will also be available onsite.
For the few of us that commute on the Folsom South Canal trail between Hazel Blvd and Sunrise Blvd, there are two distinct cycling seasons each year. Unicyclist season and winter*.
The unicyclist appears between 6 and 7 am on mornings there’s enough light to navigate the unlit path without a headlamp. He wears Lycra shorts (never pants) and an unmarked blue jersey. Sometimes he wears a coat. No helmet. I’ve seen him as early as 6 and as late as 7:45. It seems that at some point in the morning he scrambles down the steep embankment and onto the trail, unicycle in hand, then mounts the one wheeled machine and pedals toward Tributary Point. When he arrives at Tributary Point he turns around and rides the other direction. Sometimes he can be seen stretching at the mouth of the tunnel the passes under Highway 50.
Every bike commuter I have talked to on that stretch of the trail knows about the unicyclist. He waves at everyone who passes.
There’s something about the ridiculousness of a fully kitted middle-aged man getting up every morning to workout on a unicycle that makes me extremely happy.
*There’s a reasonable chance he unicycles the same route during the winter but later in the day when we don’t cross paths.
Guys, Rad, the entire film, is available on YouTube – at least right now it is.
This makes the 10 year-old in me very happy. It’s totally rad.
A couple of months have passed since my last post and I’ll be the first to admit those months haven’t really gone to plan.
I managed 3 or 4 short flat rides in December before succumbing to a huge increase in back pain, which I’ve been unable to get under control, even enough to spin my bike into work each day (it’s a 7 minute ride).
It knocked the wind out of me somewhat, and suddenly the idea of being fit by summertime felt rather depressingly unrealistic. I think I underestimated the problem a little bit.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as in January two metaphorical busses arrived at once, and I’ve jumped on one of them whole heartedly. The first was a chance to have a 1/2 hour chat with world leading sports physio Rob Harris, who after hearing the exact nature of my symtoms was fairly certain I had Spondylolisthesis (try saying that a few times, or at all). I can’t deny It was a massive relief to hear that there could be a tangible, nameable cause for 15 years of intermittent back pain, but on requesting copies of my low back X-Rays from 2009, it became clear that it’s not ‘Spondy’ after all. Square one. Sort of…
Then I had a chance encounter with an ex-England Rugby player Tim Stimpson, who was in our offices waiting for a meeting with the MD. We got chatting about chiropractors (I don’t like them very much based on the amount I’ve spent on them for no benefit) and he ended up contacting his friend and spinal physician who had helped him a great deal. Next thing I know, this guy is calling me up, very interested in my case, specifically because the length of time I’ve had the problem, and the amount of specialists I’ve seen who did no good. He prides himself on finding what other people missed, and fixing the issues. In fact his clinics are the only ones in the country to offer an insurance-backed money back guarantee on his treatment. i.e. at least 70% improvement in your condition or your money back.
Not that money matters, he gave me a free assessment and on the back of it, he offered to give me a full round of treatment at no cost. Apparently I’m the kind of case he likes to take on pro bono, can’t complain about that.
Now I’m awaiting my next appointment in 10 days time, and the onslaught of 3-4 weeks with 2 appointments per week, plus plenty of ‘homework’ exercises. After that it’ll be 1 appointment per week for a while, gradually seeing him less & less over the coming months. Stefaan is confident that I will be fully able to ride and train again by the summer time, which is the best I could have hoped for.
There is a hint of a big ride coming up in September, as part of a team with the guys I work with. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but it’s not working.
Bring on the healing.