Friday, January 30, 2009

Cycling Catalogs, Magazines and Brochures

In this digital age, I have spent quite a bit of time on cycling websites; building “virtual” dream bikes, scouring for closeout deals, or just seeing what’s new. But I have to admit; I love the old school cycling catalog or magazine. It keeps me in touch with my inner child, reminiscent of pouring over the Sears Christmas Wish Book and dog-earring the pages of dreams unfulfilled. Then there’s the tangibility, that dream of a new custom titanium ‘cross frame seems a little more attainable when it’s tactile (even if it’s only an image).

I remember the first bike catalog that I poured over, drooled on and dog-eared. It was an early 90's Colnago catalog. It accompanied me to the breakfast table. I brought it to work and ogled it on my lunch break. I dined with it in my lap at the dinner table. Any spare time I had to re-read it, I did. Other cycling related catalogs and brochures followed suit. Not quite to the degree as the Colnago catalog but I definitely showed them some love. Even now, I still get excited every time an Excel Sports or Colorado Cyclist catalog shows up in my mailbox.

And then there are cycling magazines. I have a nice stack of Cycle Sport in my basement. Each new issue I get seems to be on my person at all times. My new favorite is Cyclocross Magazine. I got my first issue (which was their fourth) at my LBS and right after reading it I signed up for a subscription. Then I proceeded to order all the back issues. I can’t get enough.

Maybe I'm a bit antiquated or retro, but as nice as the Internet is for finding and consuming information, I hope the hard copy catalog or magazine never goes away. It would be a shame to deprive my inner child his wish book.

Jonathan Page added to Roster

This just in, saw it on VeloNews. Jonathan Page has officially been added to the U.S. Cyclocross World Championship Team. This is great news, especially after all the crap he went through recently.

Allez, Jonathan! Allez!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ghosts of my Past – Estes Park Challenge- Stage 2 Time Trial

A quick shower, get some food in my belly, and then catch an hour or two of sleep before the afternoon time trial.

I wake up feeling a little groggy, legs feeling like sacks of sand from the climbing and attacking of the road stage this morning. I change the flat on my race wheel and swap it out with my spare. I do a quick check of my front tire and make sure it’s topped off with air. No special TT bike for me. Time to warm up.

Start times are determined based on a reverse finishing order from this morning. My start time is set at 2:10 PM. The time trial course is flat and pretty short (10K) so it’s going to be all out from the gun. To warm up, I do a series of short sprints to get my heart rate up and awaken the legs. It’s almost go time so I get in the racer queue and wait my turn. The starter is sending racers out every minute. My goal: catch the guy in front of me.

The starter counts down the guy in front of me. Off he goes. My carrot. I feel like Bugs Bunny. What’s up doc?

Getting nervous… Why? I’m not sure, maybe because I know I can do well here. If there’s a chance to succeed there’s also a chance to fail. Fear of failure makes me nervous.

I roll up to the line, at 20 seconds, I clip in and one of the attendants holds my saddle. My legs are shaking. The attendant has his work cut out for him since I’m having a hard time keeping my balance. 5 seconds, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!

I give a mighty push on my left pedal and start moving. Nerves subside with forward motion. I’ve got something else to think about. My carrot.

I’m in way too easy of a gear so I shift 3 or 4 times. The wind is brutal, a warmish head/crosswind that insists on pushing me to the left. I keep drifting over and continually correcting my line. My legs are tiring and I desperately want to shift but I can see my guy up the road. Can’t ease up now, I’m gaining and I need to pass him before the finish.

I’m breathing so hard that if I stop pedaling, I bet I would pass out. I’m still gaining and I’m almost in his slipstream. About 12 inches from his rear wheel, I pull to the left and begin to overtake him. He glances over at me, I can only imagine the sight he sees. Eyes bugged out, mouth agape, head down and shoulders slouched, every bit of energy I have is going into the pedals.

I’m suffocating myself. I could slow down and let the oxygen flow back into my brain but not with the finish line so close. A slight uphill rise to the finish. About 50 meters to go, I stand on the pedals and give one last push over the line. It’s done. I can stop killing myself. I shift to my 39 and alternate coasting and soft pedaling. Gradually the world around me comes back and I turn around and head back to the hotel.

Results: 10th place!

Last Stage to come....

Monday, January 26, 2009


I'm a fanatic about my bikes. I'm always taking them apart to clean them, adjusting the shifting, the braking, or just fussing with my position. If my derailleur skips, my wheel is slightly out of true, my rim isn't perfectly centered between my brakes, or if there's the slightest click or squeak I need to fix it or it drives me crazy... So, needless to say, I spend a good deal of time on bike maintenance.

The problem is, I'm what you might call an overtightner. I have a bad habit of overtightening EVERYTHING. I've snapped quill stem bolts, crushed carbon seat posts, cracked titanium bolts, broken seat post binder bolts, etc. For all my intent to keep my bikes well maintained and therefore save money, I spend a good deal of it replacing things I've broken by overtightening.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now, with over a decade of doing my own repairs. But no... Last night, as I was futsing with my road bike, I snapped a titanium steerer tube bolt on my Cinelli Solido stem. I tried to drill out the remaining piece of bolt left in the stem, but only succeeded in ruining the threads. Time to get a new stem. Maybe a torque wrench while I'm at it...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jonathan Page Cleared

Jonathan Page has been cleared of any charges linked to a missed doping test back in November. There's also one open spot on the U.S. team going to worlds. Jonathan, I think that fifth spot is calling your name!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bart Wellens - Stop Motion Photography of Dismount

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. It's almost a frame by frame photo sequence of Bart Wellens coming into a set of barriers at the Roubaix World Cup last Sunday. Look at how high his bike goes over the barriers... He must have been really moving! Here's the link to the article on Cyclocross Magazine. Bart Wellens dismount.

Photos courtesy of Joe Sales.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ghosts of My Past - Estes Park Challenge: Part 3

"I could win." The thought alone weighs 50 tons, with all the extra pressure that it carries. More pressure, that's the last thing I need, as I approach the first turn on the final descent of this stage. The peloton has split and a gap has opened between the lead group of 10 to 15 riders and the rest. I'm sitting in 5th position and I'm holding my spot. The adrenaline is really flowing and it seems to have calmed my nerves a bit, allowing me to hang with these more skilled descenders.

I could win.

Last couple of nasty turns coming up, my back tire nearly washes out as I negotiate the first part of a "S" turn
and a couple riders pass me on the left. Damn, was that some gravel? No. Something's wrong. I bounce my butt on the saddle slightly and feel that terrible harshness of metal rim bottoming out and striking the pavement. I've got a flat. Judging by the lack of firmness in my rear tire, the air is almost completely gone. I have to make a decision. The neutral support car (actually, it's an old pickup with everyone's wheels in the flat bed) isn't too far back but it will cost me about 20 places to wait for it or I could risk riding on the flat to the finish. I decide to wait, the last part of this descent is just too scary to ride with a flat. I feather my brakes and take the last part of the "S" turn, making my way over to the shoulder. As I coast to a stop, 8-10 more riders go by giving me a wide berth. My hand goes up to signal for support. Now to wait. I see the truck coming, but it's behind a group of 10-15 racers. They pass me in a whir of cadence and freewheel and the truck pulls up behind me. I remove my back wheel. The driver puts the truck in park, grabs a random wheel and jogs up to me. He practically throws the wheel into my frame and it slides right into the drop outs (he's obviously done this before...) As he closes the quick release, I throw my leg over the top tube and click in. A quick push and I'm off again.

That's me in front in the blue/black/yellow kit. Notice the different color rear rim and tire...

The majority of the peloton is strung out ahead of me and I have a good chance of catching them before the finish. I make that my new goal since the group I was with pre-flat are probably within spitting distance of the finish. I pedal as hard as I can, lungs and legs protesting, but I bridge the gap. As we round the final right hand bend, and begin the gradual climb to the finish, I stand up and start to sprint. I pass two more riders before the line and I am totally spent. I coast across the finish, it's all I can muster. Stage one is over.

I find my wife among the spectators and she listens to me cuss and complain for a good 5 minutes. OK, good to get that out of my system. We find the support truck and I exchange my rear wheel for my wheel with the flat and grab my spare wheelset. Back to the hotel to check results and get a quick nap and bite to eat. I've got a 10K time trial this afternoon...

My finish: 33rd on Stage 1 of the Estes Park Challenge

That's the first stage, the other two to come later

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ghosts of My Past - Estes Park Challenge: Part 2

...Continuation from yesterday's post

Actual photos of the race courtesy of my wife - The start

The Peloton, with John and I tucked nicely in the middle, rolls out from the start. As soon as we reach cruising speed, I start making my way closer to the front. Ideally I want to be among the first 10-15 guys. John is content to stay mid-pack so I bid him farewell.

I pick my way through the pack by waiting for small gaps to open and very subtly, but deliberately, moving my front wheel into those gaps with the rest of my bike gradually following. If there's one thing I've learned about riding in a pack, it's no sudden movements. Even when moving quickly, it's done with a gradual merging so as not to upset the flow of the peloton. I get to where I want to be nearly without incident. Nearly, because at one point, I
get forced onto the gravel shoulder, but work my way back onto the tarmac with an outstretched elbow (and some slight contact), encouraging the rider to my left to give me my strip of road back.

The first climb begins, some racers accelerate and some seem to move slightly quicker than standing still. the peloton no longer exists as one cohesive unit. The rider in front of me feels like he is going backwards, so I stand on the pedals and go around him. I do the same to the next couple of guys and all of a sudden, I'm up front. Just me and a rider in a blue Polo Sport jersey. He puts the hammer down and I grab his wheel, we manage a small gap, but as we summit and begin the descent, I look back to see the peloton already gaining.

I put my hands into the drops, and shift to the big chain ring as the Polo Sport rider and I increase our speed. Just behind me, I hear the familiar cacophony of multiple shifts being made, the peloton is back with us. The descent continues, pretty much straight down with a couple of sweeping bends, not too bad even for a nervous descender like me. We are going really fast now and a couple of racers begin to pass me. My nerves start to protest the speed. I look down at my computer... 54 miles per hour. What would happen if my front tire were to flat at this speed? I try not to think about it, but fear insists that the vivid imagery stay front and center in my brain. A sweeping right-hand bend sneaks up on me and I feel the overwhelming urge to grab the brakes, but I know all too well what happens with forceful braking mid-turn. I take comfort in the riders in front of me taking the corner faster than I am. If they can do it, so can I. I don't really believe it but that's what I keep telling myself so I can relax.
That, and there's this little trick I play on my brain...

The trick plays off nothing more than classical conditioning. The brain is conditioned so that when the brakes are applied, the bike slows. Therefore, the squeezing of the brake levers is associated with the decrease in speed. What I do when a descent makes me nervous is rather than grabbing the brake lever, I grab the shift lever that sits right behind the brake and squeeze that. For those of you with Campagnolo Ergo shifters this will make sense. The brakes don't engage and the bike doesn't slow, but my brain associates that squeezing with slowing down. It helps calm the nerves. Any other bad descenders out there with Campy shifters should give it a try, it works pretty well.

We arrive at the bottom and I'm still with the group. The peloton chills out on the long flat section leading up to the next climb. Gotta conserve... Then what in the hell am I doing up front again? I move back a few riders to get some draft. This is where I want to be.

Next climb, not much to this one, not steep, no turns, not that long. Everyone stays together as we top the hill and begin the next descent that leads to the start/finish. I know from my course reconnaissance that this descent SUCKS. It's steep and twisty with a couple of off-camber 90 degree turns and a couple of switchbacks. Just the type of thing you want to negotiate with 100 other cyclists at 40 mph.

gain speed and I'm already feathering the brakes in anticipation of that first turn. Riders pass me and I join in with a group of 5 or 6 guys going roughly my speed. We get to the first turn, it's an off-camber 90 degree asphalt monster waiting to shear the flesh off some poor racer's hindquarters. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of red on my right side, this guy is going to try and pass on the outside! He's got way too much speed going into the turn and he just continues in a straight line. I see him shoot off the side of the road, bike and rider totally airborne, and, out of my periphery, I see the cloud of dust and debris that marks his eventual landing. I imagine he's badly injured, there was an old post and wire fence running along the road and he may have hit it. Best not to think about it now, my nerves can't handle it.

After witnessing the crash, the peloton negotiates the rest of the descent with more caution. Great, now I can keep up... We round the last 90 degree, right hand turn (again, off-camber - which will be fun on the final lap when everyone is jockeying for position for the inevitable sprint) and begin the slight uphill straight to the start/finish line. I cross the line in about 10th position, right where I want to be at this point in the race. 5 more laps to go.

Lap 1, descent just before Start/Finish

Laps 2 through 5 go by with out event. I chase down a few more breaks and eat a gel packet on lap 4 and the Polo Sport rider and I launch a flimsy attack on the first climb of lap 5. The peloton catches us with minimal effort and I fall back into place in the group. The group descends and climbs as one and I'm right where I want to be coming into that final, tricky descent. If I can hold position, make it around that final off-camber right-hander... My uphill sprint is pretty good... I could win.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ghosts of My Past: Part 1

During the winter months, as the temperature plummets, thoughts often turn to warmer times and of races gone by. Today, I find myself in just such a retrospective mood, where thoughts have turned to races in my past.

I've never won a race. Placed top 10 lots of times. Placed top 20 even more. Even stood on the podium once. But I've never been first across the finish line. Not sure whether it's a physical or mental thing, but my suspicion lies with the latter. My point is, the races I recount are the ones that stand out in my mind. Maybe they stand out because they were epic, or very difficult, or maybe I did something really well or made a dumb mistake. Either way, this won't be a brag-fest or a bloated recount of my palmares.

The Race:
Estes Park Challenge Stage Race
Date: June 23 and 24, 2001

My first (and only) stage race. It was also my first race involving an overnight stay at a hotel. I was just coming off of a nice top 10 finish at the Andy Finch Memorial race so I knew my form was coming around, besides, I had been training like it was my job (much to the chagrin of my wife and my actual employer).

Being nestled in the Rocky Mountains, this race promised some REAL climbing. My climbing was above average so I thought good results were in my future. The goal I set for myself was a top 20 overall, my secret goal: top 10 with a podium spot on one stage.

Checking into the hotel was a very cool experience. Racers everywhere, multi-thousand dollar bikes laying against the front desk, lining the halls, it was crazy. I felt like a PRO, even though I was racing Cat 4. The "PRO" experience continued in a large conference hall where registration took place. We all gathered to receive a pre-race briefing, complete with course maps and racer schwag bags then it was dinner and off to bed. Tomorrow bright and early, the first stage awaits...

Slept like crap. Got up early, made some crappy coffee in the hotel coffee pot, then made some crappy oatmeal in the same pot. Did a quick check of the bike and my wheels, pinned on my numbers and suited up. The morning was cool and foggy, calling for arm warmers and knee warmers. I wanted to get in a practice lap and scope out the course before the race start.

The course was an 8 mile loop with a couple of decent climbs, unfortunately for me, both climbs were followed by blistering descents. The first one, I topped out at 49 mph, according to my computer. I'm a terrible descender, there wouldn't be any lasting breakaways for me. I will get ahead on the climbs and just try and stick with the group on the the way down. Back to the Start/Finish and it's almost starting time. Racers are out warming up, doing quick little bursts to and fro, like spandex clad hummingbirds. I find my buddy John amid all the chaos and exchange some nervous pleasantries. We talk strategy for a bit. He's talking about how we can get in a break and he'll work for me, but I know that once we start, I won't see him until the finish. John can climb and descend like crazy, but his starts are horrible and it takes his engine a long time to warm up.

Loudspeaker crackles on - "Cat 4 men - 5 minutes to start." Quick trip to the Porta-John and it's line up time. WOW... There must be over 100 racers lining up (actually it was 93). John and I nestle into the middle of the group. Loudspeaker again, telling us about the rolling enclosure, the yellow line rule, neutral support, etc.

"Racers get ready..."
Crack! The pistol fires and the peloton slowly rolls forward. I clip my foot in and the race has begun.

To be continued....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today, Marco Pantani would have turned 39 years old. Happy Birthday, Il Pirata.

Monday, January 12, 2009

European National Cyclocross Championships

Last weekend were the European National Championships. Sven Nys won the Belgian National Championship beating out Niels Albert. As for the Netherlands, Lars Boom took the title finishing 10 seconds over second place rider, Thijs Al. Check out this video - while all the other riders are sporting tights or leg warmers, Lars Boom is bare legged! He's a monster...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Icons of Cycling

There are things that are capable of conjuring powerful mental images and even eliciting an emotional response by their mere presence. I would consider these things Icons. They are commonplace in both religion and government and they even are prevalent in sports.

Nowhere is this more apparent t
han in the world of cycling. Cycling with all it's suffering and passion, has spawned it's own Icons. These things embody the spirit of the sport. Now, this list isn't all inclusive, and it's just one guy's opinion, but I think most would agree that these things have a place in the annals of cycling.

The Campagnolo Cycling Cap

Worn alone or under a helmet, always a classic. I personally prefer it in yellow or white but I've also seen them in black or blue. Hell, I like mine so much I've even worn it solely as a fashion accessory...

The Sidi shoe

The shoe that launched a thousand bicycles. Fine craftsmanship, well fitting, repairable and beautiful, what more could a cyclist ask for?

The Silca Pump

Every tire inflation with a Silca pump is like channeling the spirits of Bartali and Coppi. It's a classic, and it's also fully serviceable.

Castelli clothing

This was the brand of the first cycling jersey I ever purchased, it was blue and about 2 sizes too big (I didn't know that cycling clothing was supposed to be form fitting...) I think it was the logo that drew me to their brand initially. But it was their quality and decent price that kept me coming back.


Do I even need to explain myself with this one? Even knowing that a bike shop carries Colnago is enough to give it immediate street cred in my book. The logo alone evokes a carnal response. The Master-X-Light is a masterpiece.

Park Tools

They are ubiquitous. Can you even think of a time when you went into a bike shop and they didn't have a work bench strewn with Park Tools?

Velox (Fond de Jante) Rim Tape

Has an old school charm and still the best thing to protect your tube from spoke ends. A classic.

As I mentioned, this list is by no means all inclusive, they were things that were top of mind. As more come to mind, maybe I will do a part 2. Meanwhile, if you haven't tried some of these things, I can assure you they will more than just meet a need, they will enhance your cycling experience!
Add Image

Mavic R-SYS Recall

Not sure how many folks really got into the whole carbon spoked wheel that Mavic's been selling but there's been a recall on the front wheel. Here's the link with recall info: R-SYS Recall. This is actually one of the wheels I was considering for cyclocross...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


You gotta love the reunion. I'm not talking about some crappy high school get together where you laugh at all the football players who put on 100 lbs over the past 10 years... The reunion I'm talking about is that first ride on the road racing bike after an extended hiatus. For me the hiatus was a little over 4 months. This was mainly due to an overwhelming, all encompassing obsession with cyclocross and getting acquainted with my newest addition.

Last Saturday, the weather was chilly but the sun was out, it was long sleeve winter jersey, tights and a vest type of weather. I was feeling antsy and desperately needed to get outside. The roads were relatively dry... time to get out the road bike!! I filled up the tires, squirted a bit of lube on the chain and I was off.

Damn... It's amazing the efficiencies of a road bike, even with the first couple pedal revolutions, it's purpose is clear: pedal stroke = forward motion. No grass, mud, dirt, or sand sapping my momentum. Finally, the restraints of physics have been loosened!

As speed and cadence increase, my new found freedom manifests into burning quads and gasping lungs. In the end, my physical limitations keep me from total release. That will always be the case, but even a couple pedal turns closer to total freedom is motivation enough to keep training.

My ride lasts for about an hour. Just enough to mentally recharge, soak in some winter afternoon sun and to slightly frostbite my toes. It was a sweet reunion nonetheless. I have to say, as fun as the other cycling disciplines are, that feeling alone will never keep my road bike hanging up for long.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Bike Shop - Ambassadors of Cycling

I love bike shops. Over the years, I've frequented quite a few, developed some favorites and some not-so-favorites. What separates the two? Why am I compelled I to go back to one shop time and again and others I fear like the plague? I was giving this some thought after a recent trip to my favorite shop here in Michigan, Kinetic Systems Bicycles. Thinking about what keeps me coming back to Kinetic, I've come up with a few tangible and intangible attributes that, in my mind, make a bike shop great.
  • Knowledgeable staff - This is a HUGE one. When I go to a shop, I want to feel like they have a greater knowledge of cycling than I do. This goes doubly for the mechanics. If I have a repair question on a Campagnolo drivetrain, the last thing I want is the person who is getting intimate with one of my bikes to answer my inquiry with a blank stare. I do 95% of the wrenching on my bikes, but there's still that 5% that I need some assistance on. Inevitably, that 5% will be something beyond the run of the mill repair, that's when I need the expertise of a shop. If a shop has good mechanics, they already have a head start to greatness.
  • Good bicycle selection - The shop has to have a good representation of bikes from several disciplines. I like to see a run of bikes, from entry level to break-the-bank, wipe the drool off your chin, dreams bikes. The entry/mid level bikes are most likely the bread and butter, but you need those dream bikes too. Cycling fanatics such as myself need to have something to aspire too.
  • Good accessory/component selection - This goes hand in hand with the bike selection. I may need a cheap handlebar for my commuter bike, but tomorrow I may want a $2,000 carbon wheeset for my CX bike. Plus, who doesn't love looking into the glass cabinets and ogling the carbon and Ti bike jewelry?
  • Clothing selection - This is where most shops fall flat. I have been to shops where I could get a multi-thousand dollar bike frame and outfit it with the lightest and brightest carbon and Ti goodies. But if I were to get my cycling clothing from the same shop, I would be riding around in a pair of sun-bleached Descente shorts from the Reagan era and an ancient Team Banesto jersey with some weird stain on it. Maybe there's an issue with clothing distribution and that's why this seems to be a reoccurring theme. I think a shop should carry at least one low priced line and a higher end line, and keep it somewhat up to date and in line with the seasons.
  • Spare parts - I love the shop that has "The Drawer". The place where they keep all those odd spare parts that people need once in a blue moon. Nothing comforts me more than knowing I can walk into a shop after a session of over-zealous wrenching and know that the bolt I just snapped/stripped can be replaced on the spot.
  • Atmosphere - I saved this for last since it's kind of an intangible. This is also very important. A shop could do all the above perfectly but if they are elitist, snobby, standoff-ish, etc. I won't be back. There was this one shop that I went to when I lived in St. Paul. I was just getting started in the road cycling scene and like anyone in a new sport, I was trying to find my way. They had great bikes, very knowledgable staff, good clothing, and they were really close to my house. Seemed perfect. Until I started talking to the sales associates. I was treated with indifference, almost like I wasn't welcome in this magnificent sport. I never went back. A good shop should want to share their passion for the sport, to spread it, to do otherwise seems almost counter-intuitive.
Good bike shops are enormously important to our sport. They serve as cycling ambassadors, welcoming the neophyte to our world. These shops need our support - I encourage everyone to give them your patronage whenever possible, and kudos to Kinetic Systems for getting it right!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My First Time

It finally happened. It's been 13 years, 7 months and 3 days since my first road bike purchase and yesterday, I finally lost my roller-riding virginity. It was lost the way I envision most roller-riding virgins are deflowered; the rollers are generously lent to the virgin by a friend (in my case, Steve). Steve's rollers are a set Performance polly-drum rollers, that, well, let's just say they've aged pretty good considering. Here's a pic if any one is longing for some good old 80's nostalgia. Dig that logo!!

So I bring them down to my basement and set them up in front of the TV. I know, everyone says to put them between a doorway, but, come on! I've been riding on the road for over a decade, I'm as steady as can be and some experts in the field would even describe my pedal stroke as supple. It can't be that hard... I set my bike on the rollers and realize the first challenge: gosh, my bike sure is high up, how the hell do I get up there?? Luckily, I had a small aerobics step nearby which worked out great. Time to saddle up!

I carefully get one foot clipped in and start pedaling to get some balance. Whoosh, whoosh go the rollers, two pedal strokes later and I'm still not clipped in and my back tire is off the drum resting on the roller frame. I set the bike back on and try again. Still no success. This happens about twice more and I realize that I've either underestimated the difficulty of roller riding or overestimated my cycling prowess (probably both).

I move the rollers to the doorway (I see now why this is the recommended starting point for newbies). I get set up and get on the bike. Bracing myself with one hand on the door frame and the other on the handlebars, I get clipped in. Success! I pedal. About 10 revolutions in, I gingerly remove my hand from the door frame and place it on the bar tops. I'll be damned, I'm actually doing this!

The sensation I get within the first five minutes of unsupported roller riding feels something like I imagine the premier performance of Road Bikes on Ice would feel like as performed from the deck of a large fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. Eventually the sea sickness subsides but I still can't shake the riding on ice sensation. Perhaps that's because any little movement on rollers has big consequences.

After about 10 minutes, I start moving my hands to the hoods and drops. Not too bad. One thing that is quickly apparent to me, this takes a lot of concentration. Any lapse and it's welcome to Swerve City. I also make a note that balancing on the bike is totally independent of my legs turning the pedals. It's all subtle shifts in my body. And I do mean subtle.

20 minutes in - things are going quite well and I'm actually working up a sweat. I thirst. My water bottle is in it's cage. Hell, muscle memory alone knows exactly where it is. Shouldn't be too much trouble to just reach down to retrieve it... Squueeal, thud, thud. Faster than you can say "Ciussi" my attempt to retrieve my bottle has landed both my wheels on the edge of the roller frame. the only thing that saved me was my shoulder hitting the door frame. I right myself and take a couple drinks while holding on to the door frame. That's definitely something I will need to work on.

With no other incidents to report, I cap my first session at 30 minutes. I coast to a stop and unclip, careful to make sure I don't slip and break my neck as I place my cleated foot on the plastic aerobics step.

That was more difficult than I imagined but the challenge makes it fun. Next session I'm going for 40 minutes and try a shift to the big ring, look out! My big goal will be to progress out of the doorway and to be able to drink some water... Is that asking too much?

Any other good roller tales out there? How about your first time, was it good for you? Let's hear it!