Pro Cycling Is Not My Cycling

The news of the Spanish Cycling Federation not banning Contador for his positive drug test has spread all across the world. I tweeted yesterday that I had considered writing a blog post about the ruling but decided I wouldn’t because it would be a complete waste of time. My opinion hasn’t changed and I’m not going to write about Contador. Instead, I’ve decided that he and pro cycling deserve each other and that pro cycling isn’t my cycling. As a kid I remember watching the Tour de France on Wide World of Sports. They would devote a few minutes to the race summarizing the stages of the prior week. It wasn’t much but I loved it. Many years later, as the sports popularity grew and Americans started winning, other networks picked it up culminating in the current stage-by-stage cover on Versus. With this increased popularity and coverage came more scrutiny and the drug talk started. I’ll admit, I was blind to the rampant use of drugs in the sport until the past 7 or 8 years when it started to get a lot of news. Riders, and entire teams, getting banned were commonplace. Meausures were put in place to monitor riders more with increased testing, better tests, zero-tolerance contracts, and stiffer penalties. Even after all that the sport of professional cycling still remains a cesspool of drugs, lies, and miscreants. It sounds like a reality show. And I guess it is. After this latest fiasco with Pistolero, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that pro cycling isn’t my cycling. The pro riders can have their contracts, money, recognition, trophies,...

Ruts, Importance and Relevance

Before I get into today’s blog post, I wanted to tell you about my ride this morning. I knew it was going to be cold (in the twenties) but I knew I wanted to ride. I needed to ride. My body needed to be forced to work. The alarm went off at 5 AM and a quick look at my phone confirmed that the temp was 28F with windchill down to 19F. I hopped out of bed and went about the task of getting kitted up. Tights. Long sleeve thermal baselayer. Bibs. Long sleeve jersey. Socks. Shoes with shoe covers. Balaclava. Full-fingered gloves. Helmet. Jacket. I was ready to roll. I can’t describe to you how crisp the air is on these cold, clear winter mornings. Venus looked like somebody from the heavens was shining a flashlight at me. The stars looked like they were held in suspended animation between the earth and the sky. Just awesome. Rolling out of our condo complex the temp didn’t feel too bad. As I made my way over towards the University of North Florida I began to catch a headwind and I started to feel the effects of the cold. My fingers began to ache some, my legs and feet (even with shoe covers) began to get cold. I dealt with it and when I was able to get the wind on my back everything went back to normal. If you can call riding in 28F weather normal. I opted to forgo my second loop of the campus and head back home. I was pretty slow on this ride and am pretty...

Pistolero Isn’t Shooting Blanks After All

By now you’ve probably heard that Alberto Contador (a.k.a. Pistolero) has apparently tested positive for both Clenbuterol and Plasticizers. Did he? Who knows. As is usual with the UCI and WADA, the handling of Contador’s positive test results has been sketchy at best. He produces a sample for the Golden Flow test on the second rest day of the tour. He’s notified a month later (i.e. he’s already drank the champagne) that he tested positive. Then it’s not made public for another month after that. That’s all followed by stories of Pistolero’s beef getting tainted (where’s he been putting his beef?), conspiracy theories, you name it. In other words, another cycling and drugs soap opera. Not good for the sport. Because of lots of testing protocols and legal mumbo-jumbo the whole situation is a mess and we’ll probably never know the truth of it. Pistolero testing positive does bring back memories of the analysis done on his 2009 climb of Verbier and speculation that he may have been doping then. What will happen? My prediction is that Contador loses the 2010 Tour title and gets a two year ban. Regardless of what happens, I wanted to point out that Pistolero’s beef is tainted and he’s not shooting blanks. Maybe he should have listened to the bovine during those Chic-Fil-A commercials. What do you think? Does he get the Ban Hammer or do you buy the tainted beef...

Seven Reasons Why The Morning Is Best Time For Road Cycling

Last week I asked you to vote in a poll about when you prefer to ride. 18 of you responded and Early Morning beat out Mid-Morning by a vote of 7-6. Evening came in with 3 while Afternoon got 1. There was 1 other. I asked the same question on Twitter and got the following replies: From eqtmgr: “I prefer morning.” From Eric_McWhirter:”Right in the morning, but the temps get to a point that I like 60/70 range anytime would work.” From daveydave999: “I prefer to cycling at night. Sometimes after dark. I never was a morning person.” From mx4789: “ride time: usually anything except *early* AM.. hate getting up to alarm clock on weekend just to ride.. I’ll sweat instead.” Just looking at the results, it appears that most of my readers prefer to ride in the morning. I couldn’t agree more and believe the morning is the best time for road cycling. Seven Reasons Why The Morning Is Best Time For Cycling Before I headed off to Dallas for 18 months I had gotten into a routine of getting up at 5 AM to ride. Getting up wasn’t that big a deal to me as long as I got plenty of sleep the night before. Getting enough sleep is a big problem for me though (a bad habit left over from my military days). Anyway, a long time spent in the military got me conditioned to getting up early so doing so to ride wasn’t a big deal. Now that I’ve returned from Dallas I have pushed my wake-up time to 6 AM. Here’s why I think...

Local Bike Shops and Social Media

The age old question of supporting your local bike shop or ordering online has raged for a while and is still a very hot topic. I don’t want to banter the pros and cons of doing so but would rather discuss why local bike shops aren’t taking advantage of social media and trying to draw local riders into their shops. As most of you know, I’m in the hunt for a new bike. As I sat here at the kitchen table this morning drinking a cup of coffee, wishing I was riding instead, I wrote a tweet saying that I was considering going to a local bike shop to look at what they had to offer. Then I tacked a question onto the end of it: Why aren’t they (the local bike shops) on here (Twitter) trying to get me into their shop? I think that’s a valid question. So many people are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) and using it to connect to one another. Cyclists in particular are using Twitter like nobody’s business after seeing professionals like Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Christian Vande Velde (to name a few) create accounts and begin interacting with their fans. Local Bike shops are missing out on this by not using the tools to connect to cyclists in their area. I could see local bike shops offering special discounts or coupons via Twitter, group discussions on Facebook, or posting pictures from the local evening ride on Flickr. Lance Armstrong did this the other day when he invited Twitter followers to a group ride that departed from his...

The Fleecing of Cyclists

This post has been brewing for a while and I’ve talked myself into writing it and not writing it several times. Am I bitter? Probably. Frustrated? Certainly. If you’re one of those cyclists that has bottomless pockets or an unlimited cycling budget you may want to skip this one. Any hobby has its expenses. If you like to knit then you have to pay for yarn and needles. If you enjoy scrapbooking then you have to pay for paper, stamps and stickers. Cycling is no different. If you want to enjoy the sport of cycling you have to maintain you bike which costs money. Cycling clothes cost money. Bicycles cost money. And so on. Cycling is just like any other hobby we have. It costs money. But does it cost too much? Road Bikes Let’s talk about bicycles first. Are there affordable bicycles out there? Sure, if you start with the low-end beginner road bikes, you can find a bike or two for right around $1000 that may suit your needs. On the other end of the spectrum you have the new Madone 6.9 that’ll set you back $8600 for the basic version. Throw in upgrades and custom paint and you can get it up to $14000 ($8600 sounds like a real bargain now). Custom road bikes can be even more. I don’t know about you but the planet I live on would call $1000 for a road bike expensive. Am I out of touch? Maybe but in my book $1000 is a lot of money. I couldn’t fathom paying $8600 for a bike. Who would actually go out...
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