Archive for category professional cycling
Growing up a good friend’s dad had a hairy back and chest. I don’t mean normal hairy. I mean, every summer when we all went to the lake he’d get ready to go for a swim and you’d want to shout, “don’t forget to take off your sweater!” My legs aren’t quite that hairy.
[photo omitted for your sake]
For a brief stint of my cycling career I started to shave my legs. It’s what you do. I was told. It’s better, they said, to be hairless in the event of a crash. It looks cool.
And it’s true, cyclists and swimmers are among the only male athletes that can claim leg shaving looks cool.
So, that was pretty much it. If you’re the kind of cyclist that wears lycra shorts, then you should shave your legs. It’s a rule, in fact.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t like shaving my legs. It took too long and any razor I used would be dull before I finished my first calve. Also, it turns out, when you have stick thin climbers legs, it doesn’t look as cool. On top of that, I didn’t race and the idea of planning my life around the rare crash – I’ve had one where shaved legs might have helped – just seemed silly.So I stopped with leg shaving.
Every now and again I get a little grief. Our friend Kurt has called me out for breaking rule #33 (last time I rode with him, I was able to put the hurt on Kurt, so he couldn’t talk too much, I’m not sure if that’s true anymore). And more than once a pedestrian has commented on my built-in leg warmers. Yes, even pedestrians know to make fun of my legs.
But I’m not worried because you’re doing something wrong too.
That’s right, you probably have the wrong shoes. Or wear a helmet. Don’t wear a helmet. Drops on your commuter. Flat bars. Platform pedals. Clipless. Freewheel. Foldie. Saddlebag. Camelbak. Bar tape is wrapped the wrong way. Wrong glasses. And so on.
The list of things you’re probably doing wrong is never ending. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Or, maybe you shouldn’t. At least you got the most important thing right:
You’re riding a bike.
Photo from here.
Downtown Sacramento will host a new major criterium on September 10, bringing hundreds of top US cyclists back to the city for the final weekend of the national racing season. The Sacramento Grand Prix adopts the model set in 2010, a street-race that ushered in the prologue of the Amgen Tour of California.
The reborn Grand Prix criterium has been moved to a new slot in the racing calendar, occupying the weekend before the cycling industry’s biggest convention, Interbike, in Las Vegas, NV. Race organizers Project Sport hope the Grand Prix will come to be regarded as a memorable and important closing competition on the US racing schedule each year. Sacramento’s proximity to Las Vegas will make the race attractive to riders committed to attending Interbike.
The projected course will take 500 riders in six fields around a tight one-mile route around the capitol. The riders will complete 50 laps in total, creating a major visual attraction for the estimated 10,000 assembled spectators. Competitors are expected to range in ability from recognizable pro-tour household names down to first-time amateur racers. There will also be an over-35 field, and a law-enforcement category.
Grand Prix organizers conceived the event in response to the huge public support and turnout for the Amgen Tour of California over the last few years. Sacramento is frequently selected as a host for one of the stages of the ToC, but in the event that the city is passed-over in future years, the Grand Prix will provide local cycling fans with a major, all-day event which organizers and city officials hope will replace revenues normally filled by the Tour of California.
The criterium course begins and ends on L Street, opposite the Capitol. From there, riders travel west, then turn down 10th St, onto N St, then up 15th St before turning back onto L Street. The route encapsulates the whole of Capitol Park, providing plenty of opportunity for spectators and vendors to find a space on the inside or the outside of the course. A $10,000 prize is on offer, making the Sacramento Grand Prix one of the richest purses on the US Cycling schedule.
David Zabriskie plans on riding the Tour de France on a vegan diet. Well, sort of:
Earlier this season, Zabriskie said his energy levels were down and he felt weak. He wasn’t sure if it was a result of the diet or a recent bug he was getting over. He got in touch with Brazier, who advised him to take vegan protein shakes made from hemp seeds, flax seeds and brown rice protein, among other ingredients. (Brazier invented the shake and markets them under the “Vega” brand). Zabriskie says he now drinks three or four of the shakes throughout the day.
Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a vegan, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of fish a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. “He told me, don’t get too hung up on the word ‘vegan’,” says Zabriskie. The fish, Zabriskie says, helps his body absorb certain vitamins and iron.
During the Tour of California in May, Zabriskie won the time trial. Last month, he blew away the competition at the U.S. national time trial championships in Greenville, S.C. That victory, he says, reinforced his decision to change his diet. “I knew I had done everything right,” he says.
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.
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.
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?