This is possibly the greatest invention since penicillin or human flight.
This is possibly the greatest invention since penicillin or human flight.
Take a fixed-gear bike, mount it on a roller with zero resistance, and get fools to pay you $5 to sprint their hardest for 20 seconds to qualify (or not in my case). Add crowd and liberal alcohol, and a jeering MC an you’ve got my fairly badass evening.
Cars used to be relatively simple – the VW bug is a great example, you can take the entire engine out with three bolts. As we stared into the guts of Germ’s Subaru in Junction, Texas looking at the smoking viscous mass that had spewed onto one of the catalytic converters (yes there’s two – twice pipes, dude), I realize that things are a bit more complicated these days.
Driving in West Texas is always an adventure. I-10 starts to look like a deserted (albeit big) county road, and the distances between towns get bigger the farther out you go. You have to do fun things like the cracker game to keep from passing out. So events like running out of gas, or breakdowns get a little nerve-racking, especially after you make that left turn down into the Big Bend. Hence our little Ft. Stockton layover. Ft. Stockton pretty much defines the pimple on ass end of no where. The mechanics at the shop we rolled up to were cool – turns out our viscous mass was just grease from a blown out CV boot – nothing to worry about. They’d have us out of here in no time, cause holy shit you wouldn’t want to get stuck in this town. “Come on, there’s got to be something fun to do,” I said. You’re looking at it they told me, as they rolled the car into the bay.
Man, that is bleak.
The purpose for our little jaunt west, was of course the Mas o Menos Marathon mountain bike race in Terlingua – 30 miles (or 60 depending on your stupidity level) of serious suffering through the Chihuahuan desert. Sand pits, Gravel pits, and a small hill at the end. It’s kind of like a bike tour of Tatooine. By about mile 20, it’s common to puncture your own tires, just so you can catch a breath. Really it’s quite fun.
Actually, what makes it fun is the crowd and festival atmosphere of the thing, what makes it worth 8 hours each way in the car. You can tell folks are hurting because attendance was down, and the vibe was much more subdued. Hopefully it picked up on Saturday night – it’d be a shame if an event that cool went the way of the the McRib.
At the end of the day, we actually had good races, Germ shaved 30 minutes of his time, I shaved 20, placing just above the halfway marker. Respectable and well worth the drive. And nothing can really compare to topping out that last hill, and staring out across the desert for fifty miles into mexcio.
I met this guy, Clayton a few years ago as we were starting to get involved with the Dirt Derby. He was a name-dropping-douche-bag-womanizer, so we didn’t really hang out to much – I declined or dodged his offers to go on longer rides and training sessions. Turns out that was a good thing.
Yesterday (February 3rd) detectives with the Austin police department executed 2 search warrants on James Clayton’s residence as well as a storage unit that he was renting. At both locations they recovered a large amount of property, some of which has already been linked to crimes committed locally. Yesterday he was arrested on 4 counts, 1 of which was burglary of a residence in Travis County, and the other 3 counts were for larceny theft of bikes in Maricopa County, AZ. This morning a felony theft charge was filed on Mr. Clayton with regards to some of the recovered property.
Apparently this guys gimmick was to plan a meetup, pull a no-show, and then break into your house while you were out wondering where the hell he was and steal all your bikes. It also makes a lot more sense why his bikes were always covered in stickers – because they were stolen. Anyway, stealing bikes is, you know illegal, but there’s in Texas, well, we tend to take justice into our own hands pretty quickly…
This guy better not get away from the cops anytime soon, they will find him impaled on a bike frame, hanging from a tree somewhere down on the greenbelt.
USA Cycling is the national (non-profit) entity whose purpose is, according to their official Articles of Incorporation, “the preservation, development, and administration of the sport of bicycle racing within the United States of America.”
Well, sort of. Keep in mind that we, as cyclists, pay anywhere from $60-100 a year for a racing licenses, to help facilitate this agencies $13 million budget, their $2.9 million payroll, international racers (like the Olympics) and ostensibly the organization of a grassroots cycling movement in this country.
…finally I was transferred to an entirely helpful gentleman in the “Athletics Department” named Gregory Cross. Mr. Cross confirmed for me that of the 5 Under-23 riders representing the United States at this weekend’s Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands, only 1 of them was “funded”, i.e. getting their travel and expenses paid for by USA Cycling. The other 4 not only must pay for their own airfare & luggage fees, but they then must pay an $800 “team travel fee” to USA Cycling for hotel, food, and ground transportation during their stay in The Netherlands. And this is how we cultivate the next generation of champions?
I’ve always wondered why Americans riders, with a couple notable exceptions, suckitup when it comes to international cycling competition. This might go a ways to explaining it.
As we know I have a certain fondness for bikes, video games, computers, and gadgets in general. So when Jeremy presented me with opportunity to try all those things at once my head metaphorically exploded and sprayed thinking-organs all over the keyboard. After I collected myself, I made my way to Mellow Johnny’s – Lance Armstrong’s fancy fancy bike shop downtown. It’s a cool shop, but as a general rule, I don’t like paying for real-estate (their downtown location) when I buy bike parts.
That said, the place is sexy. The merchandise is top-notch and there’s tour paraphernalia every where you look. Want to see a Time Trial bike from the 2004 Discovery team? Yeah it’s over there by the bathrooms. Wild.
So we meet at this paragon of sport after work to try out the newest gimmick – The uninspiringly named Pedal Hard Computrainers, a wild, previously mentioned combination of video game and bicycle with so much data getting spit out it’ll make your head spin. You start out, your bike in a trainer facing a 40″ television. As you move through the course on the screen the resistance increases or decreases according to the inclines that the computerized version of you is traversing. At the same time you have a coach, who’s finished the Tour de France six times (about 13,000 miles worth of riding) telling you where your heart-rate, cadence, power output and speed should be. Essentially they take something a simple as a trainer ride (which I usually use as a good time to catch up o the Daily Show) and make it into the cycling equivalent of the Normandy invasions.
But it’s damned effective. I’ve never had a ride that whooped my ass in quite that bold a fashion. It’s $30 a session, but in education alone, it’s definitely worth it. Now I just need to knock off a 7/11 to afford my own.
Thursday evening finds me screaming down the Hill of Life at speeds unsafe in the day time, and terminally unwise as the sun begins to set on the opposite side of the canyon. By the time we hit the bottom, it’s completely dark, the temperature has dropped another ten degrees with the incoming cold-front and the wind is whipping a steady stream of dust though the beams of our headlamps. You can hear the gusts tearing down the canyon, before they actually hit you and the constantly fluctuating roar has drowned out the normally normally omni-present (albeit distant) highway noise. You could be on any darkened wood trail in the world, but you’re actually in the middle of Austin, Texas.
Yes, tis the season for night riding, the absolutely horrifying practice that we engage in during this time of year when the keeping-food-on-the-table part of the day overlaps with the daylight/ridealbe-hours part of the day. It’s absurd really – depending on your lights and the angle of approach, a 2 inch drop can look like 4 feet, or, even more alarmingly, vice versa. Batteries die mid-ride, leaving you stranded in the dark and of course in the lower Greenbelt, there’s the bums who like to jump out and scare people, which although mostly harmless, can lead to a soiled chamois. Other fun party tricks include coming around the corner, shining your light off into the woods and seeing 10 or 20 pairs of eyes staring back at you (usually deer, but you never know, could be zombies). There’s also parts of the trail that just look damn spooky at night – like the tree with the rope swing that Germ has dubiously christened the’hangin’ tree.’
All that aside, next to my desk tangle of cords, cables and batteries are aglow with LED indicators, greedily sucking down juice for next week’s post-work shenanigans. Always an adventure.
Apparently, the hardest part for me about the Livestrong ride is getting up so damn early. 4:30am is not prime-time-wade-time. But just the same, Sunday morning at 5am I find myself hanging out at the intersection of 5th and Red River, with a couple of meth-heads and one dude who swears he just needs a couple bucks for gas. Good and interesting times, particularly given my lack of coffee. I figure if i stay on my bike, even really fast cracked-out bums will have a hard time catching me. I meet up with the Ridges (the whole point of being down there in the first place), and we load the bikes and take off for Dripping Springs.
The Livestrong ride unleashes about 3,000 riders onto the hills near Dripping Springs. Everybody from pro cyclists like Lance to folks who’ve never touched a bike before, so it’s worth a lot of misery, including being chased around downtown by homeless people. This is the second year I’ve done this ride – last year’s was more about facing down a big challenge like a 100 miles on a bike, than about the actual cause. This years was different, as previously mentioned. Does pushing a bike around central Texas for 5 hours, bring anybody back, or make you empathize with their suffering. Not at all. But it’s one of those primal acts of effort and endurance that just might make you come to terms with grief a little bit more. A cathartic act of physical exertion the ends with some acceptance and some hope.
Grander philosophies aside, the ride is awesome. We’re old, so we checked in for the 65-miler as opposed to 100 this year. It’s an interesting mix of beautiful sweeping roads, and incredibly bad pavement. TxDOT, in their desire to pave every last scrap of Texas, neglected to take into account the size of the state and so has only been able to slap a thin smear of asphalt on some of these roads since the were cut through in the late 40’s.
Nerve damage in my wrist aside, we survived. Towards the end, Brian and I got separated from Jeremy and Steph and inexplicably tried to sprint the last five miles or so, I guess to catch up with them (or maybe just to be done). While it was fun passing everybody, it has also led to me taking the elevator at work, and having to stop about halfway up the steps to my apartment for a quick breather. Maybe not the best plan on our part.
Most importantly the ride raised $3.6 million for LAF’s efforts. Not a bad use of a sunday afternoon. Thank you so much to all of you that contributed to my fundraising effort. It was greatly appreciated and exceeded my expectations.
She’s only been at the shop two days, but of course those two days have had some of the nicest weather in months. Damn you brown santa! Bring me my replacement braze-on-to-clamp-on-derailleur-adapter!
Four Cyclists who were wearing smog masks when they arrived in Beijing, have been forced to apologize…I guess for not wanting to breathe the stew of airborne-shit that is the city’s air?
Four US Olympic cyclists who caused an outcry when they arrived at Beijing airport wearing smog masks have today apologised to Games organisers.
The four – Mike Friedman, Bobby Lee, Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed – said that they were wearing the masks because of pollution fears, a touchy subject for the Chinese authorities.
Not to be a downer, but letsee, the tibet-crackdown thing, the earthquake, yesterday’s terrorist-dumptruck attack, the polution, the torch protests…I think four american cyclists, who might be needing their full oxygenation abilities in the next few days, wearing smog-masks might be the least of this round of the game’s problems.