“In August 2007, more than 4 000 randonneurs will gather in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines to enter into the legend of the PARIS-BREST-PARIS (P.B.P.) Randonneur. Since 1931, thousands of randonneurs have tried their hand at the most famous brevet at â€œallure libreâ€ (self paced rides), the 1200 km PBP, which must be completed in 90 hours, the present maximum time limit.”
This is what I am dreaming of doing — buying a replacement bike, riding the Boston Brevet Series, then the Boston-Montreal-Boston — and cap my cycling career with the Paris-Brest-Paris, the world’s longest and most venerated cycling event. It’s run every four years and is going on now.
“Lance Armstrong’s former team Discovery is to disband at the end of the season after failing to find a new sponsor.”
$45 million over three years is a steep price in sports marketing to be associated with the most tainted sports of all. Sad, the legacy of Discovery — formerly US Postal — as the team that drove Armstrong to seven Tour de France palmares should have been as one of the preeminent franchises in any sport. Now it sputters out without a whimper like my subscription to VeloNews which expires with the current issue.
Let’s see if pro cycling’s slide in irrelevancy does two things:
1. Kill off the big surge in yuppie cyclists (self included) riding $10,000 bikes
2. Cause other sports to crack down preemptively on doping to keep their ranks clean (except pro wrestling which needs freaks as part of the draw).
Guess my new Giro Discovery helmet is destined to become a collector’s item someday.
So I turned to my wife around 5:30 today and said, “Let’s go for a bike ride.”
She of course, being the person who rode in the ambulance with me on Memorial Day, 2006, said “NO F$%^&(G WAY!”
So I persisted, pointing out her sad bicycle, gathering dust in the garage. I got her helmet out. Told her she would lead, I would follow. No EPO mind-blowing sprinting, no deathwish maneuvers — she would be on her fat-tired cruiser, and I would be on my Bianchi fixed gear, the Legendary SnotRocket.
I made a wistful face.
She said yes. And off we went, one mile down to the sound, then back, poking into the side streets and down to the harbor at a torrid 6 mph pace. On the last hill, when I saw she was going to dismount and walk it up, I mashed on the pedals, stood in the saddle and cranked to the top like I had last been on a bike yesterday.
The camel’s nose is under the tent. A few more of these and before I know it I’ll be riding a Cervelo Team Soloist.
Interesting tool i saw advertised in this week’s VeloNews. I’ve been a fan of the
GMAP Pedometer — a Google Maps mashup. But this one is more social for ride sharing and appears to have more bells, if not whistles. Useless to me, as it is close to a year since the Memorial Day Bike Crash when I stopped cycling, but that hasn’t prevented me from being a fan — albeit a sad fan given today’s New York Times obituary of pro cycling amidst a massive defection of fans in the face of the doping scandals. The news that the Championship of Zurich has been cancelled for lack of sponsorship after 100 years … well, something had to happen and it has. Now, as the Times points out, take a look at baseball, for that is where the fans are likely to say “enough is enough” next.
Sheldon Brown is the authority on cycling. He works out of a cycling shop in Newton, Massachusetts (Harris Cyclery) and is cited by every bike geek as the authority on everything from Sturmey-Archer hubs to fixed-gear cycling set ups. In fact, there is an acronym devoted to Sheldon: AASHTA (As Always, Sheldon Has The Answer).
The man seems to live and breathe cycling and his site, Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Technical Info is literally an encyclopedia of cycling. He also seems like a really great man gauging from his personal observations and approach to life.
Now it appears he has multiple sclerosis and has to give up cycling. This is tragic. Having made the decision to voluntarily give up cycling as a pastime after my accident in May, I know what it feels like to miss it, but can’t imagine the pain of having it taken away the way it has for Sheldon.
I watched a Tivo’d copy of the Giro di Lombardia last night, the last of the one day classics in cyclings ProTour. This is the traditional end of the professional cycling season, a 240 km circuit through the Lakes region of Northern Italy starting in Switzeland’s Ticino canton before circling the shores of Lake Como.
I know Ticino and the Lago Lugano region from my days working with a Swiss entrepreneur who had a weekend estate just over the Swiss-Italian border in Porto Ceresio. I used to envy the pelotons of cyclists who rode the lake roads, and always wished I had a bike with me when I was over there.
This year’s Tour of Lombardy was extra-cool because of the performance of Paolo Bettini — “The Cricket” — the current world champion of pro cycling and the winner of the gold medal in the Athens Olympics. He’s a little guy who personifies the traditions of Italian road cycling, a superb tactician with amazing heart. Two weeks ago his brother died in a car accident and as the commentator, Phil Liggett said, two people were pushing the pedals on Bettini’s bike.
His descent into the finish was insane. After attacking on the climb Bettini went for broke, nearly wiping out at 60 mph as he dove into the hairpins. I was literally on the edge of my seat as he held off the attacks of the German rider and crossed the line, tears on his face, looking upwards to heaven and his brother.
Doping scandals aside, cycling is still my passion.
I’ve been in denial since last Saturday’s release of the second test of Floyd Landis’ sample which confirmed elevated testosterone levels after his epic ride on stage 17 of the Tour de France when he put himself back into contention after bonking the day before.
I had the same reaction in 2004 when Tyler Hamilton was banned from cycling following the results of his Athens Olympic blood test that showed someone else’s blood in his body. It’s a naive reaction on my part, a childish tendency to want to believe in heroes and give the benefit of the doubt, the old innocent-until-proven-guilty high sentiments that cynically seem to get dashed time and time again. Being the resident cycling fanatic, everyone aware of the Landis affair has asked me my thoughts, given my bipolar sadness and exultation during the Tour. At first I wanted to give Floyd the benefit of the doubt, now …
I love cycling, I think it is a magnificent sport, one that is incredibly dramatic in its alliances between rivals, its subtle strategy, and its superhuman demands on the riders. But …. there’s no denying the sport is rotten with doping, and while I wouldn’t begrude a rider an Advil to assuage an ache, I can’t condone EPO, testoterone, blood packing, and the other sophisticated techniques that are outright cheats and shortcuts around hardwork and training.
Will I continue to follow the sport? Yes. I believe there are clean cyclists in the sport. Perhaps the Landis debacle will persuade the remaining cyclists that there is no way to get away with doping, no way to dodge the labs, and the sport will return to some form of purity that it perhaps — as historians of the sport will point out — never existed.
We all want heroes, but in Floyd’s case, the story was too good to be true. I hope he exonerates himself, but I fear he’s going the way of Tyler Hamilton, proposing outlandish excuses while he name remains tarnished to the end.
Post Memorial Day crash my wife has posited this equation: a new bike = divorce court. She’s serious, no more cycling for me. Even as my best biking buddies try to work her over, she’s holding firm.
So what do I do? I drop $189 on a top of the line helmet (having lost my last one to the crash). Can’t cycle without a helmet, so, I have snuck in the first piece of new equipment, a Discovery Channel themed Giro Atmos, the top, top-of-the-line skid lid. Here’s to hoping I never have to use it again.
On Sunday morning my buddy is swinging through town on the second leg of the annual Pan-Mass Challenge ride across the state to Provincetown. Last year I accompanied him on the second leg, and may ride with him from Cotuit to the route on my faithful fixed gear, the SnotRocket. This will happen at 6 in the morning, when my wife will hopefully still be asleep.
Faithful readers know about my love for fixed-gear cycling — these are super-simple bikes that have no gears and don’t coast. When the wheel turns the pedals turn. sort of like a big Big Wheel. Well, Uncle Fester was kind enough to send in this link to a recent court decision that fixies must have brakes. I do have a front brake, but the real hardcore riders like urban messengers, use their leg muscles to slow down or lock up their rear wheels into a controlled skid. Now the judge is saying a brake is a brake and locking the rear wheel does not a brake make. This will spawn some serious protests among the fixie crowd who are among the most militant in the burgeoning urban bike kulture.
“Yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse the law came down against fixed gear bicycles.On June 1, 2006 Portland bike messenger Ayla Holland was given a ticket for allegedly violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 815.280(2)(a) which states,
A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid tire.”