Friday, February 19, 2010

A Short Message From the Bike Snob

"Personally, I believe the best way to promote the cause of cycling is to not be an idiot when you're riding your bike."
--Bike Snob NYC

In my next life I'd like to write as clearly, concisely, and hit interesting points as often as the Bike Snob NYC, who writes about cycling and social issues (no not serious ones, more like mass hysteria or lunacy) in a tone which sounds like Woody Allen is talking to you. His above quote leapt off the computer screen--it's spot on.

Rest stop at the Los Vaquaros Watershed (pumpkincycle photo)

Talking about idiots, wonder how many sheep will be on Century rides who have given their Postal kit to the Goodwill store, and now will be decked out in the uniform of the day, the butt ugly TeamShack kits with the overpriced yellow Lance Giro helmet. (Loved in 2004 when someone would proudly brag that they had the $120 Lance Giro helmet and I'd retort well I have the helmet of the worlds greatest cyclist and I paid half that. It was an orange & black version of Johan's 2002 Paris Roubaix helmet, obtained on clearance--i should have bought a half dozen.) Just please ride in a straight line and single file--even you Team in Training folks.

postscript-A few days after this post the following letter appeared in Velonews: The Journal of Competitive Cycling.

Feb 17, 2010


Dear Velo,

I watched the Tour de France, Tour Down Under, and would watch more if they were televised.

I have followed Lance Armstrong's career for many years. I read all the books by or about him. I want to see, hear and read ALL I can about him!

He is the idol of many people, especially those fighting cancer. I enjoy hearing about other teams in the race but Lance is the one I want to know all the details, about what he is doing in the races or in every day life. I can say, I believe I am not alone. I could go on and on about reasons I follow him closely and others not so much, but I'll stop here.


C.H.; Karnak, Illinois

Noam Chomsky once said

" And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in (discussions of) sports (as opposed to political and social issues). I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. " (from Manufacturing Consent)

Chomsky is definitely wrong. Maybe he's right when it comes to baseball, football, golf fans that have esoteric information and understand arcane issues. Most cycling fans have no clue there are any other races than what Lance does and that he has continually ducked or done poorly in other important races.

Fans of other sports are not be as myopic as cycling fans. Some hypothetical examples if stars in other sports acted like Lance.


How can anyone consider Tiger Woods the greatest golfer ever—even if he has won 7 US Opens in a row. He must be nervous about pot bunkers, as he has always skipped the British Open, usually dominating the Greater Kalamazoo Open instead-saying that that course will help in him better prepare for the US Open. And the few times he's entered the Masters he's never contended for the victory—again indicating he's working on kinks in his swing for the US Open. His whole season seems to revolve around winning the US Open, and everything else is just practice.


Barry Bonds may have won the home run title, but he isn't the greatest ever as he's mighty selective. No, not selective regarding the pitches he swings at. Ever notice that whenever a lefty with a great fastball is pitching, Barry has to rest that night. In the last 5 games the Giants had against Randy Johnson Barry has been out of the lineup. And at huge Petco Park , Barry has played—0 times—when Jake Peavy starts. Such selectivity of when he plays hurts his team.


Kobe Bryant is the bestest, greatest basketball player ever. The newspaper should write more about Kobe. TV should only show Laker Games.

Jim, Long Beach, Age 8

Saturday, February 13, 2010


(2/13/2010)-Opening Day, Sierra Road Century, w/ Dave, Ward, Jack, Christine and the International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers, oh, I mean, Rusty

102.5 miles, 5875' ft. (w/ bonus Calaveras Wall), 15.8 avg, 7:30-@4:00 (217 course rating)

'The bonus mile group' (or as Jack would say, 'the extra credit group') did this a week back on a Sunday, minus the Sierra Road part. I ride with Donna on Sunday’ so I didn’t go so I was psyched all week to get my first century of the year in. Our club was going out to Calaveras—a beautiful, gentle climb so I suggested early in the week that the bonus mile group add the pernicious Sierra loop—Jack responded with tepid support and no one else acknowledged, so I thought Sierra Road was dead. I left on my training wheels (Mavic Open Pro’s with Ultegra hub and x25 cassette as opposed to Open Pro’s with Hugi hub, butted spokes, and x27 cassette or even lighter American Classic medium deep rims with x27. ) The extra rim grams no big deal, but Sierra Road is not something you want to do with a x 25 cassette.

All week I was sky high that weather was finally promising and we’d do a century. But waking up extra early with a damp 42 degrees brought me back to reality—reminded me of the extra early morning part that sucks about any ride. Didn’t help that it was so foggy that water was dripping off our helmets, and my odometer went our and lens popped out of glasses at the same time. Luckily when Ward got a flat close to where we’d meet up with the Club, the sun had broken out.

Dr. Dave (the Doubles' Doctor) and I in our Official Triple Crown Jerseys on the top of Sierra Road, with a younger Rusty moving in the podium platforms. (Ward-o-photo with special Pumpkincycle enhancement)

Ride was high paced, as someone usually upping the pace at some section, with ever Shifting alliances. Some highlights:

On run into Sunol Brother Vic does most of the pulling, so when we get to the fast three tier climb and he starts to stall I pass tell him I’ll just ride tempo. Ward comes alongside and together we block the road to cut off any attacks.

On Calaveras, a long climb but not steep with multi hairpin, Dave and I slow down the pace to keep the group together, while dodging the Team needs Training obstacle course at the beginning. Brother Vic attacks a number of times, I counterattack too much and am hurting after the last one so I vow that if we get rid of Vic we stay away for good. Dave and I finally broke clear and then work together—though at the end Ward and Christine were pulling Vic back very fast so we’re lucky the course ended when it did. I think we were slowed when Dave had to slow and say hello to the recumbent riders we passed near the end.

On Sierra Road-a 4 mile climb (550 meters) I never do well, (steep with no recovery sections) I had pulled my back on it every time we had done it last year, and had to stop 1-2x on it to stretch every time—so I was a bit wary. Dave and Christine had never done Sierra. Dave stayed with me on the real steep beginning, and then spun away from me on the middle section, opening a 30 second gap. I kept chasing hard, and closed it down to about 15 seconds, which Dave started to nudge back up near the end. I finished at 35:16 and I was happy; with stretching time I was never under 40:00 last year.

Earlier, I never thought we were doing Sierra Road—even 5 minutes before we made the decision to do it. When we finished the race up Calaveras—Brother Vic yelled “aren’t we doing the wall” which is a steep but short climb beyond our rest stop. (Mentioned by the folks at the Primavera Century as the famous Calaveras “Wall”, one site pegs it at 15%. I thought he was joking but Vic went on ahead so I figured what the hell and followed. (.4 mile and 56 meters) Of course later, after we come back from Sierra Road we have to do it again, so I wound up doing the “feared” wall 2x. Funny comment heard when I crested the wall the first time, one rider telling his buddy “I was even passed by a guy on a single speed.” (Don!)

When at the end of Calaveras I thought we were going to turn around with the main group, ride back to Sunol. and then the bonus milers would do the Palamaras Climb. But while I was playing around on “the Wall,” Jack said he’d only hand out extra credit if we did Sierra Road (or maybe he was handing out Lincolns’) and I was surprised when told that Sierra Road it is. We were also joined by Rusty—who had not read the ride description as to where we were starting, and rode out to join us—and he was game for Sierra also. Rusty one of the strongest riders on the flats, and a beast on technical downhills, but he’s not a climber—so if he wasn’t complaining about Sierra Road, I certainly wasn’t going to though I had the wrong fn wheel for it.

The bonus mile group on top of Sierra Road. I was NOT doing the Sierra Road climb unless Ward had his camera. (Ward-o-photo)

Nice thing about Sierra Road. It was a vest/ tee shirt/ knee warmers type of day—even in the sun there was a slight chill, and it was cold on the downhill ramp from Calaveras to Milpitas But Sierra Road is so “out in the open”*** it was hot—beginning of climb was spent trying to roll knee warmers around ankles w/ tucking the chain sides ones into the sock so they don’t get caught. (Reflection/ glare off of all the white legs even made it warmer)

After chasing Dave, and our regroup on top of Sierra, our group stayed together the rest of the day, bs'ing about how fast the Wine Country Century closed out (May event, closed out February 4th!!), or that you can’t get a motel room in Davis for the Davis Double weekend. Yep, it was just Festivus, the cycling season was quickly upon us.

Last rest stop on the porch at the Sunol General Store, Ward still can't sit on the padded chairs that have been investigated by the CDC. It seems we were just there (well we were, a few hours ago)--winter has gone by quickly. Nice paceline down the long stretch on Foothill without many traffic controls, Rusty turns off to go home, and we continue cooperatively down San Ramon-Danville Blvd with all too many traffic controls that mean frequent stops and starts. At the end no other club is coming up "the Blvd," Dave does a lead out and we all are content letting Dave pass through the finish line first while he is waiting for someone to come around.

Great ride, with more climbing than most regular century rides, but shows that I have alot of work to do. Usually if I start to fade it's energy related. Energy level was good yesterday, but damn, were my muscles fatigued whereas I'd have trouble going another 40 miles at speed.

Footnote-self supported Century so didn't want to blow the food prep. Took 1 bar with me for every 20 miles, and a 2 scoop solution of HEED & Perpetuem--Hammergel fortified, plus and extra portion of Hammergel. Had an extra scoop of HEED I was supposed to take with me, but left in the car (note to self: don't forget extra bags of HEED and to defog glasses) and later picked up a banana and didn't eat one of the 5 bars I took. So, for the 6 1/2 hour ride ride:

1625 calories. 25 grams fat, 332 grams carbs, 32 grams protein

Only mistake was at mile 75 only had drunk 1 1/2 bottles, which was way too little, and something was the color of brown mustard. Paid for that after the ride-couldn't drink enough the rest of the day (even with hemp protein-Cliff Recovery-pumpkin butter shake right after the ride)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Preseason Baseball 2010--St. Tony's Skewed Take On Mark McGwire

La Russa was McGwire's manager for nearly all of his 16-year career in both Oakland and St. Louis. He was also his fiercest defender, especially after The Associated Press reported McGwire used androstenedione during his record-breaking season in '98. Andro, as it was known, was made a controlled substance until 2004, when it also was banned by baseball.The manager said he didn't know until Monday that McGwire used steroids."

That's a blatant lie," Canseco said. "There are some things here that are so ridiculous, and so disrespectful for the public and the media to believe. I just can't believe it. I'm in total shock. These guys remind me of politicians that go up and just lie to the public and expect to get elected."
Baltimore Sun 1/13/2010

Mark McGwire playing thirdbase for the Modesto A's circa 1985. (Pumpkincycle Photo)

Mark McGwire finally admitting to steroid use should have created a tiny ripple—as almost everyone already knew this. But there were two huge reactions to McGwire’s steroid revelation caused by his and Manager La R ussa's comments not passing "the smell test."

1) McGwire was almost uniformly condemned (except by Tony La Russa) for still not being forthright when indicating he took steroids for injury only and it didn’t help his god given performance one bit.

2) The reaction to Tony La Russa’s “I believe Mark and didn’t know until yesterday” performance also seems disingenuous, but Tony is given the benefit of the doubt as he saves animals, is a great family man, and is a patron of the ballet. (Oh, never mind that drunk driving conviction…)

But why does Tony La Russa get a special pass? Why is it constantly reported what a great and honorable guy (though bit of a control freak) Tony is?, thus this has becomes the general public perception of him. I don't know much else about him except for his propensity to make dozens of pitching changes and extend games. But I recall reading years ago about his abandoning his first family. When I mention this to people who readily give St. Tony the benefit of the doubt about his claim of ignorance re McGwire steroids, most people don’t believe it—as it is almost never reported. I tried to find it for a friend and could’t find any reference to it on the ‘net. Ain’t on Wikipedia’s bio of Tony. So it can’t be true..

Had to do some research the old fashioned way—from a book. And there it is on pages 145-146 of the book “Lady in the Locker Room (1993),” by Susan Fornoff, who was the beat reporter of the A’s. An early A’s bio of Manager Tony La Russa said he just had two children; when an old time reporter asked him about his other two children Tony La Russa said ‘ that was another life that no longer existed.'(145) Around the time of the Bay Bridge World Series La Russa’s ex wife and children tried to get newspapers interested in writing about them, while writers were gushing over what a great family man La Russa is. (145-146) "I was covering his first press conference, when he was named manager, and I said to him, 'It says here (on the press release) that you have two children. But you have four children,'....And Tony said, 'That was a previous life.'" from Lady In the Locker Room, p. 145

Look, people wind up in unique personal situations and no one is a saint. But as newspapers have gone to town to portray Tony La Russa as St. Tony, which then give his fishy statements certain veracity, it isn’t far fetched to imagine that as he conveniently changed the facts of his personal/ family history for public consumption he'd readily change the details of his managing team steriods to protect his legacy. In fact it seems likely..

(Postscript) The Fornoff book reminds up how disingenuous Commissioner Bud & Tony are when they said they knew nothing about steroids. At the end of September 1988 Washington post reporter Tom Boswell appeared on CBS alleging that Canseco used steroids. At Fenway Park, in the October 1988 playoffs, Boston fans readily sang "steroids..steroids" to the A's. (p. 159) And Bud/ Tony didn't notice any of this?