Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Charity Event

On August 26, if you're not racing (or volunteering) in the Glencoe Grand Prix, there is a bike ride through Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff to raise money for Hedge Fund Cares which gives grants to organizations to combat child abuse and neglect. More info here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Future of the Tour de France

While Fritz at Cyclelicious is optimistic about the future of the Tour de France, Pete Geyer of Cycling Fans is not. In his July 26 editorial, he writes at length of the political problems of the Tour and of the importance of a strong riders union that is "capable of getting [Franck] Bouyer back on a bike, capable of protecting riders from their own teams, from unethical team doctors, from their own sponsors, from the collateral damage done by all the political battles. A rider union capable of getting the riders a better base salary and longer contracts, like in other sports, so that they don't have near-constant pressure to perform, 'or else'. A strong rider union capable of helping young cyclists avoid the pressure to dope to begin with."

Hear Hear.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Music on the Web

There are a number of interesting music sites on the web. Here's one with cool visuals that allow you to stream music selected by various characteristics (mood, genre, decade, etc.) Within this chart, you can select a song to listen to and let the player continue on to similar music or you can keep clicking to sample and move on to other songs. I've only just started to play with it. Check out Musicovery.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

North Branch Trail Reconstruction

Looks like all 20 miles of the North Branch Bike Trail will undergo reconstruction in sections July 9 through October 9, 2007. (h/t to Chicago Bike Racing).

Why So Much Doping This Year?

A thought occurred to me this morning. Aside from the weirdness of how and why Michael Rasmussen was pulled from the Tour, what if there is another reason why so many cyclists are testing positive this year? Why is this year different than last year? After all, riders signed the pledge not to dope this year, penalties are stronger and riders were prohibited from starting the race if even suspected of doping. So why is it worse this year?

If there is one thing we learned from the Floyd Landis arbitration hearing it is that LNDD has lax chain of custody controls and problems with their equipment and testing procedures. Can it be that riders thought they would be able to get away with more this year because LNDD won't risk additional embarrassment to their now-damaged reputation?

I don't know if this is the case, I just know that as much as the UCI, ASO, WADA, and AFLD say they want to clean up the sport, it's not just the athletes that they should be looking at. And let's face it. The athletes want the sport to be clean as well. Let's hope this year is a turning point.

Let's hope, I don't accidentally write that last line again next year, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Win This Bike

I need something to cleanse my cycling palate. Something to take my mind off the Tour de France and, perhaps, do some good while I'm at it. Looking around, I found this raffle to win a custom-built Serotta Coeur d’Acier like the one you see above. Proceeds will benefit To Life! a breast cancer education and support organization. I must have been fated somehow to find this story since I ride a Coeur d'Acier (that's it in the photo at the top of the blog) and breast cancer has touched someone very close to me. The winner will be announced on Friday October 5, 2007. Details here. Now go buy some tickets.

It Just Gets Worse

Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen of Denmark has been sacked by his team.

Words fail me.

UPDATE: More info here and here.

More Bad For Cycling

Italian rider Cristian Moreni of the Cofidis team tested positive for testosterone after the Tour's 11th stage. Race organizers announced his name, L'Equipe broke the news of a positive test earlier in the day by quoting an anonymous official who said he did not know the identity of the rider and was not authorized to discuss the case with reporters.

Rasmussen wins stage 16. I understand that this is bad for Pat McQuaid.

Vinokourov insists he did not dope. This isn't good for anyone.

Finally. It rained this morning. At just the right time. And just long enough for me to go back to sleep. Turns out it was a localized shower and, had I waited 10 minutes, it would have been a nice morning to ride. So pretty much a bad day all around.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bad For Cycling?

The head of cycling's world governing body, Pat McQuaid, says it would be bad for the sport if current Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen goes on to win the race. McQuaid added, however, that the Danish rider has "broken no rules, so from that point of view ... you have to give him the benefit of the doubt."

Let me ask you something. What's worse for cycling: A rider winning the tour without breaking any rules or the head of the UCI telling us that it would be bad if a particular rider wins the tour? Was this a veiled message to Rasmussen?

Rasmussen currently holds the yellow jersey. The holder of said coveted piece of apparel has to pee in a cup and trust the powers that be that it will be handled appropriately (can you say chain of custody?) and tested accurately and fairly (LNDD anyone?) for various performance enhancing drugs. Does the lab (LNDD) know it's Rasmussen's sample? If there is an AAF, will it be leaked to L'Equipe before a confirming 'b' sample? And why hasn't Dick Pound weighed in on this?

And now I read that Pat McQuaid wants an apology from Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme for a late-night telephone call in which Prudhomme supposedly asked him if he was trying to "kill the Tour de France." This because of an inconveniently timed announcement that Rasmussen had been kicked off the Danish national team apparently for missing two out-of-competition doping tests. Or maybe he was kicked off the team because of the report that a former cyclist accused Rasmussen of trying to trick him into carrying illicit doping materials into Italy five years ago.

He hasn't won yet and there hasn't been any evidence of wrongdoing (unless you count a better than expected performance in the stage 13 TT) so what's the point of all this?

One other thing stuck out for me in the McQuaid-wants-an-apology article. The fact that McQuaid called from Dublin, Ireland where he was on vacation with his family. The president of UCI is not at the Tour de France, the world's most famous and, arguably, most important race. I don't know if this means anything, but it sure seems to me like he doesn't care much about cycling.

Maybe none of them do.

Keeping Cool

One way to keep cool in a heatwave.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Morning Ride

Great ride this morning. Perfect weather and a nice even pace. The route passed the pyramid house in Gurnee (here's a cool shot of it from Google satellite). I took along my camera this time and got about 25 shots. I thought that this was the best one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nosferatu Ale

The mind reels with puns (you can use the comments section for this). I hope the beer reels with flavor (can a beer reel with flavor?). I'm a fan of craft brews and I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a fun label. Rats, I guess I couldn't avoid the pull of the pun. From your friends at Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wet Commute

I had a new experience today. I got caught in the rain on my commute home. I was keeping track of the coming storm on weather dot com and I knew it was coming, but I just had to get that one last thing done and, well, I got caught. It wasn't raining hard, but it was hard enough to soak my shoes and the front of my pants and shirt. It could have been worse. I had just repaired my front fender so I didn't have mud kicked up in my face. I did make it home fast. Amazing what a little motivation will do. I think the only time I got home faster was when I got in with a paceline and rode their draft home. Getting caught in the rain wasn't so bad. I wouldn't want to do it everyday, but having a short commute was the difference between funny and miserable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Shocking

From the department of duh! Of course, since the research is based on interviews, perhaps an alternate conclusion is that muscular men were twice as likely to lie about their sexual conquests. Yup. I'm going with that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pricey Bikes

Cool. My Local Bike Shop just happened to have the most expensive bike on the floor in a recent survey of local shops by the Lake County News-Sun. That earned them an article and photos in the paper.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Glencoe Grand Prix

The new web site for the Glencoe Grand Prix bike race is fully operational. Lots of useful goodies there, like information about the race, parking, directions, sponsors, pictures of the course and a link to register online.

Cool Blog With Videos

This is just too cool. One of the riders for xXx Racing-AthletiCo has a blog with videos he has taken with a helmet mounted video camera. He's not Lucas Brunelle (yet) but the videos are a hoot (and it's nice seeing Sheridan Road and University Avenue from the perspective of a helmet in a group ride.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Commuting

Last week I used my bike to commute to work every day. I'm finding that using the bike is more a state of mind that anything else. I'm lucky enough to live within a mile and a quarter of my work so the commute is easy and takes about the same amount of time as driving. The Commute by Bike web site has a variety of resources to get your started or keep you motivated. There is a calculator on the home page to help you calculate how much money you save on gas by using your bike instead of your car. I saved $2.19 last week. This does not include my errands to the bank, library, post office and City Hall (probably another $2.00 or so). There is also the wear and tear on the car (figure about 15-20 times starting it up and the fact that using a car for short drives is driving at its least efficient. I also save $60 by not having to purchase a parking sticker.

But that's not entirely why I do it.

I do it because it's fun.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Chicago Bike Racing

Chicago Bike Racing is a growing resource for prospective and beginning bike racers in the Chicago area. There's a blog, race schedule and a list of group rides. Check them out.

Andy Singer

I'm always up for a cartoon or comic (I know there's a difference, just don't ask me to explain it) or artwork that relates to cycling. I found the cartoon to the left via this blog, a commenter on my blog. Andy Singer's site is here.

The Appearance of Guilt

I've been thinking about the decision to not have any rider wear bib number 1 this year. This makes sense since it is not yet resolved if Floyd Landis will be stripped of his win. Without a confirmed winner from 2006, no one should wear bib number 1. This sends a message and is true to the process. For the same reason, no team will be wearing the numbers 1-10, the tradition for the team of the winning rider. What I disagree with is that bib numbers 11-20 will be worn by the Caisse d'Epargne team, the team of the rider, Oscar Pereiro, who came in second in 2006. This is flat out wrong. It sends the message that Floyd is guilty, and Pereiro is the winner from 2006. The only possible solution that would be fair to the process would be either to let Discovery I'm not sure who should wear 11-20 since Floyd is still the winner of the 2006 Tour (and will be unless he loses all appeals) and Phonak has disbanded (thanks, Bob for pointing out my cognitive lapse). Who wears #1 when the previous tour winner does not compete? What team wears #1-10 when the team of the previous winner is not in the tour? What if it is both? Has this happened before? Maybe the solution is to select team bib numbers randomly. Search for the truth Mr. McQuaid, indeed. I thought I had a clever post. Now I just have questions...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Best New Training Aid Ever

With the Tour just days away, I need to alert my reader (or is it readers?) to the Greatest New Training Aid Ever.

A Sad Sight

This is a sad sight. The gas station widely known by local cyclists as the Velodrome Amoco (even after BP bought Amoco and changed the sign) is closed and it does not appear likely to be reopened. The station got its name due to its popularity with cyclists as a place to buy drinks, snacks and energy bars and to take care of other needs. It was in a great location with no competition. I think we knew something was up when they turned off the outside water tap. Maybe that was a last ditch effort to increase revenues.

It will be missed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bring That Camera

I always promise myself that I will bring my camera along on all my rides. I'm always missing what I think are great pictures. Heck I miss pictures even when I bring the camera (more on that on a future post), but at least I'd like to take the shot. Sometimes it's just being lazy, not wanting to carry it in my jersey pocket. Other times I just forget.

Today, while commuting to work, I lost an opportunity for a shot that would have made a nice blog post. It was a father on a Cannondale with a Trail-a-bike (or something similar-not sure what the generic name is) attached to it. Attached to the Trail-a-bike was, not one, but two bike trailers in a row forming a train that would probably have voided three warranties. He said the ride was surprisingly stable and it was a great way to get in a workout with his kids.

Maybe I'll meet up with them again. If I do, you can be sure I will have my camera.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Cyclelicious GoogleMaps StreetView Contest

Cyclelicious reports that he is sorry for the delay in coming up with a winner in the GoogleMaps SteetView contest and will get to it soon. I think he has been wasting his time waiting in line for an iPhone.

Interesting Quotes

I was skimming though my copy of The Quotable Cyclist: Great Moments of Bicycling Wisdom, Inspiration and Humor, Edited by Bill Strickland, and stumbled across the following which appeared one after the other (pg 219). I have them here in the reverse order from the book for reasons I can't explain.

"The problem with being a Tour de France winner is you always have that feeling of disappointment if you don't win again. That's the curse of the Tour de France"
--Greg LeMond

"I'm proud of what I've done in the Tour, but you have to keep your perspective. It's just a bicycle race after all."
--Miguel Indurain, after his 4th TdF win