Saturday, April 25, 2009

Overuse Injury

Damn. My right hamstring. It's been my weak link as far back as I can remember and it's coming back to haunt me again. This isn't just a sore muscle issue, it's a body mechanics, ligament/tendon issue. One of those things that creeps up on you and BAM! the next thing you know, you have to take several weeks off just to relieve the pain. Right now it's just a tightness in the tendons behind the knee, running up my hamstring, but there's also a rotational component to it, like my right leg wants to rotate to the outside. In the past, I've had my position evaluated, went to physical therapy, tried massage and chiropractic care - they all helped (some more that others) but the only thing that could really fix it, was backing off my cycling.

What a perfect time to hit me. Just as some of my more important races are coming into sights. I know that the rest time won't hurt my fitness that much. I'm more worried about the mental aspect of not being on my bike. I think that will be harder to deal with then the rehabilitation.

What a cruel mistress, life.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road Cycling Etiquette

Went out for a nice two hour-plus ride with my buddy Steve this past Saturday morning. With temps nearing the 70s, it was exhilarating! I actually shed the knee-warmers on the way home. This was the first time I've bared the gams since 'cross season!!

This is also the first time this year that I've seen other cyclists on the road en masse. Which brings me to my topic: Road cycling etiquette. Or, rather, proper behavior when happening upon another cyclist on the road.

Let's look at several common occurrences and how they are handled.
  • Cyclist In Pursuit: If there is a cyclist pursuing you. They must not pass you. If you can't maintain a pace that keeps the pursuer away, then by all means, turn off at the next cross-road you come to.
  • Being Passed: When being passed by another cyclist hold your line until they are in front of you. You may hear a call out of "on your left" or "on your right" as the passer overtakes you. Whatever you do, do not acknowledge the passing cyclist. No friendly greeting, nothing. You've been shamed. Once the cyclist has passed, you should just about kill yourself to try and stay with him. As you pull up behind him at the next red light explain, amid gasps, that you're just out for a recovery ride.
  • Cyclist Up the Road: If there's another rider up the road, it's on. It's like the Individual Pursuit but on the road instead of the track. You must catch them and pass them. Especially if you've been spotted, because, chances are, they are trying their damnedest to keep you at distance.
  • Passing: Always pass on the left. You are welcome to give a call out to the cyclist you are about to overtake, just make it terse. No need to cause any further embarrassment or shame. Make sure after you pass that you give it a few hard kicks before settling back down to pace. You've just become a carrot for the passee (see above).
  • Greeting Another Cyclist: Never greet another cyclist on the road. Greeting fellow cyclists is seen as a sign that you are not serious about your training or that you're weak. If you feel that a greeting absolutely must be extended, a slight nod of the head is all that's permitted. Also, pay attention to the cyclist's kit. The amount of team attire they are sporting is inversely proportional to the likelihood of a greeting.
Well, to you newcomers to the sport - now you know how to handle these potentially uncomfortable situations like a seasoned roadie. And if I see you out on the road, I'll be the guy on the black and white Look 285, maybe you'll get a nod...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Premium Denim and Cycling

Why, George, why??

George Hincapie has brought these worlds together with his line of designer denim jeans. This is no joke, the hyperlink goes to the site and a screen grab of the website is below.

I'm speechless... More than anything though, I'm a bit disappointed and embarrassed for Big George.

I have always cheered for George when he was taking on the Spring Classics. I've mourned his defeats like in the 2001 Paris-Roubaix when he was severely outnumbered in the final break and Domo Farm Frites wore him down with their relentless attacks. I've also rejoiced his triumphs, like at Ghent-Wevelgem that same year. I think one of the things that makes George so easy to support is that he's the eternal underdog. Everybody loves the underdog.

George has that unassuming lack of arrogance that, even if he's favored to win, he never acts like it's in the bag. Maybe it's quiet confidence (or a total lack of it), who knows. Being more of the quiet sort myself, I always felt I could relate to him.

This jeans thing seems so out of character... I could see someone like Mario Cipollini (hell, maybe he already has a denim line) or even the mulleted Laurent Brochard. But George? I justify it in my mind that some cheesy California PR-type pushed him into it and he was too nice to say no.

Sorry George. Classics Hardman to Designer denim?? It's just too much.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Training Race

Here we go again! The third and final installment of the Flying Rhino's Spring Training series at the track. So far, I've noticed that this race is always fast and it always involves wind. Yesterday was no different as I lined up for the B race, the winds were blowing at about 20 mph and right from the gun the racing was fast. The field was almost 70 strong which is a pretty damn good turn out for a spring race. Could this be a bicycle racing resurgence similar to the 70's and 80's? Maybe it will prompt an American Flyers sequel??

Back to the race - here's the highlights:
  • Big field = lots of squirrely riders
  • Squirrely riders = big crash about 15 minutes into the race (I avoided it)
  • I got into one break, it didn't last
  • My team mate Matt won the prime and the race - he's a monster
  • I need to be a smarter racer, spent way too much energy early in the race (out in wind, losing position in corners, getting involved in stupid breaks, etc.)
  • Finished in the pack (30th - 40th place, does it matter...?)
My bike is nearing the end of it's life cycle... 8 years old and her time has almost come - when the race was over, I noticed my stem was about 3-5 degrees off from straight - it still has a 1" steerer and I'm having difficulties getting the stem tight. I ordered a new stem - hopefully that will help. Otherwise, I may be having a chat with the missus about a new bike. Having just bought a new 'cross bike, I can assure you, it won't go too well.

I'm really fired up to watch Paris- Roubaix today. Allez George, this is your year!! Here's a little video to wet your appetite.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


My little girl is going to be a year and 1/2 on April 12. I've got the day off today and it's just her and I. As I write this, she's napping after a good hour-long play fest outside. As she sleeps, I can't help thinking about the profound changes I have gone through now that she's in my life. There have been sacrifices, for sure, but it's also come with a new found maturity that I don't think time could ever have taught me.

As cyclists, the time we spend riding and training can approach monstrous proportions. I'm gonna be honest here when I say I was freaked out about having a child because it would cut into my already precious cycling time. Having a child, I thought, was going to essentially destroy the "three part teeter totter" (as Greg from Mud and Cowbells calls it). And for those childless cyclists out there considering parenthood - it has cut into my cycling time.


What's crazy in all this is, even though I've decreased my riding volume (pretty substantially from my more competitive years) I'm in the best shape of my life and feeling stronger than ever.
I'm staying motivated, I'm eating better, I'm still able to get out for some 4-5 hour rides here and there and race most weekends. I attribute it to being more focused on my workouts (focused on quality not quantity) and allowing ample rest time so I don't get burned out.

Having a child forces you to prioritize. You cut out all the bullshit and noise and are left with the important stuff. To me, cycling is a huge priority. If I had to rate it, I'd say it comes in second to my family (yes, it even beats out work...) not that it always trumps my job, but if I had to give up cycling to keep my job, let's just say I'd be on right now instead of writing this blog entry.

I feel I'm as close to balancing that "tri-ter totter" (Greg, what do you think?) as I've ever been and I think it's all because of my daughter. So, as I solo to victory in some local circuit race this summer, my victory salute will look something like this:

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 Ronde van Vlaanderen

Stijn Devolder attacking on the Muur

While many folks in the good ol' U.S. of A. (and especially around these parts) were eagerly awaiting "The Big Dance" this weekend, I was awaiting a dance of another kind. The Forbidden Dance, De Ronde van Vlaanderen. OK, so it's not really called "The Forbidden Dance" but the Tour of Flanders to a cyclist is a much bigger deal than the Final Four. And if you happen to be Belgian, it might as well be the Tour de France, Super Bowl and World Cup all wrapped up into one.

What a race! This has always been one of my favorite Spring Classics. It's a well portioned mixture of cobbles, steep, leg busting climbs and relentless winds with a dash of the typical Belgian spring weather to help keep things interesting. The hard men of the sport that typically compete for the place of honor in "de Ronde" also make this race a must see classic.

Sunday's race did not disappoint. the only thing that was a bit off was the uncharacteristically warm and sunny weather but this just made for faster racing. I'll leave the play by play to the pros and sum up with this quick re-cap:
  • The entire race seemed to be dominated by Team Quick Step - Boonen showed himself a few times but in the end it came down to Chavanel and Devolder. Chavanel had good legs but it was a repeat performance by Stijn Devolder. His final attack even came on the Muur, the same place he launched his 2008 victory-clinching attack.
  • Horrible crash in the final straight-away - the sprint for podium spots saw a rider forced into the barriers and went down so hard... Ugly.
As for me, due to a family scheduling conflict, I didn't participate in Saturday's spring race series. Instead I went out on my own on Saturday for about an 1.5 hours and with my buddy, Jan for 4 hours on Sunday. Good times!

The culmination of my spring race series is this Saturday. I'll be there for sure!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Nice Change of Pace

Today, I decided to do a fairly easy 20 miles in lieu of my club's spring training series. In part due to a scheduling conflict with my wife and partly because I felt like I pushed it too damn hard last week. It's going to be a long season and I gotta remember not to kill myself the first race I get into. So, I went out early this AM and set about to do my usual route. This time though, I took a chance on a new route just to check it out. Wow, did that make a big difference! I didn't even realize how stale my "usual" was getting until I took a chance on something new. This new route led me past a quaint cider mill (good to remember come fall) as well as a lovely lake. Scenic, low traffic and fairly decent roads, what else could a guy ask for? Well, since the thermometer indicated a balmy 34 degrees with 20 mph winds, I could ask for some freaking warmer weather!! But other than that, it was an excellent ride - there was even a hill or two thrown in there (folks that live in a vertically challenged area like Michigan know what I'm talking about).

Tomorrow I'm planning on a good 3-4 hours with some friends so I'm looking forward to that.

Oh, that and De Ronde van Vlaanderen is on Versus at 5 PM eastern time so I'll be watching that for sure! Go Boonen!