Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cat Toys & Bike Rags

On New Years Eve, like every other American, I frantically rip through my closet, garage and crannies to pull out the weird hats, funky party-boy shirts, bedazzled shoes and donate the fashionable lot Goodwill.  Today’s the last day to donate to charity in order to get the deduction on your taxes for this calendar year.  Then, like every other American on New Years Eve, we take our pink receipts home, cheer that we made the deadline at midnight and party till we puke.

I got a head start yesterday.  As the pile of fashion cast off’s overtook my bed, I realized that I had at least eight t-shirts in the pile.  While I had found enough flaws with them to remove them from my ’09 wardrobe, I realized I still had use for them…as bike rags and cat toys.  With my patented Best Bike Rags and Pet Toys Ever technique, I could get eight bike rags out of every shirt and make one giant super-fun cat or dog toy with the scraps.  Here’s how to turn your ugly closet fodder freebee bike race t-shirts into something green like bike rags and pet toys.

Start with the tool of the trade: a Fiskars fabric scissors.  These are like the Campy Record of the scissors world.  Even the most man-handed of us all can nearly cut a straight line in one of these.  Nearly.  Granted you won’t win any bonus points for your technique from Grandma, you’re guaranteed to get relatively uniform sized straight edged bike rags with one of these babies.

Step 1: Starting at the shoulder, cut off both of the collar bone seams and neck in one piece.  (see photo at left for reference)  You’ll need this neck/shoulder part later to make your supa-fun cat/dog toy.

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves.  Then make a cut so each sleeve is no longer an arm-tube, but instead a nice little rag perfect for those hard to reach places on your bike.

Step 3: Cut the shirt horizontally about 3 inches south of the armpits. 

Step 4: On the top half, cut the little piece of 3 inch fabric between the armpit and the horizontal cut.

Step 5: Cut the top and bottom halves vertically.          

Congratulations!  You now have eight bike rags: two small from the arms, 4 medium from the upper torso, 2 large from the tummy.

Make your pet toy now.

For cats, tie all the shoulder-neck parts together in a big long multi colored “cat dancer.”  Drag it on the floor and your cat will follow you around forever.  Whip it up in the air and see kitty do bitchin’ Olympic style aerial moves.  Or, tie it to the banister of the stairs and watch kitty fruitlessly try to grab and run away with it only for the toy to win the tug-of-war every time. 

For dogs, make a tug-of-war toy.  Use the strongest t-shirt neck as the center and then tie the other pieces into big ball knots at either end.  However, like with most dogs, your toy will likely become the eventual looser.  And, like most dog-toys, it’ll be fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carbon Fiber Chopsticks

The weathered looking woman next to me worried about the incoming snow storm.  As I sat waiting for my tires to be rotated and oil changed at Tire Discounters, a conversation struck among strangers.  Her husband is a school teacher.  If school was delayed, he’d have to be in early.  Consequently, with one car in the shop, she’d have to drive him in.  The man to my right, I’m guessing was a bus driver.  He offered up a bit of knowledge that the woman-next-to-me’s husband could get a discount bus pass since he was involved with the school system.  As any Wisconsin native would do, I kept my trap mostly shut and offered few personal details.  Since only bike shops offer bike magazines in the waiting room, I picked up a glossy car magazine with a photo of a racy BMW M1 prototype on the cover.

As they gabbed and fretted about the storm while my four wheel drive Toyota 4 Runner was up on the stand, I relaxed, nodded now and then and flipped through the pages.  Then I saw this:  

A carbon fiber suitcase?  What the?!  The woman next to me glanced over my shoulder to see what brought the slight gasp out of my mouth.  Why would anyone need a carbon suitcase?  I thought.  I texted myself a blog reminder and read on.  As it turns out, you need a carbon fiber suitcase for all the same reasons you need a carbon bicycle frame: it’s light, durable, it looks better than the other suitcases at the airport and you’ll be faster in the race from the gate to the car.  While I haven’t checked, I bet 

you can get ceramic bearings for those wheels and have the “pro” version of the suitcase.  What’s it cost?  What do ya think?  This little gem from Zero Halliburton is about the same price as a carbon fiber bike frame, $2250.  Probably the same amount of cash you have in your carbon fiber money clip.  Which begs the question, what else might make sense to make out of carbon fiber?

A letter opener perhaps?  Why not?  Like all things carbon, it’s light, so you can open up letters for hours and win the letter opening Olympics without getting a bunion on your palm.  Plus, it matches the carbon fiber briefcase in your office and looks sharp with your letter opening team kit. 

 Wonder what else can be made out of carbon fiber?  I thought to myself.  Chopsticks?  I googled but no dice.  So, I searched the phrase “ridiculous carbon fiber.”  The following two items were returned in the search results.

The Carbon Fiber X-Box Controller

While just a pet project of a die-hard gamer.  I have to admit, it would be sweet to play a little Tokyo drift with a controller like this. 

Lastly, this Carbon Fiber Snare Drum turned up.  While it puzzled me at first, it did start to make sense.  It’s lightweight for traveling or musicians that perform while moving.  It’s durable, so I’m sure it 

can be tuned to be able to bang out anything from a death metal beat to something tight and funky.  No doubt it’ll probably stay in tune longer than materials that might flex with temperature and humidity.  And, like all things carbon, it would match any University of Whatever marching band team kit.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I wish I was there to see Morgan Webb’s face when his daughter Eden stood on the podium with a Silver Medal. (Photo: The little medalist herself with daddy pictured left from Velonews-how sweet is that!) What happened to Anna Jean from Louisville? Seems like a tough break for one of the fastest women in the OVCX. I hope Karen got the “look I’m in front of Ned” photo when her husband BioWheel’s Doug Hamilton was lapped by cycling hero Ned Overend. So many stories. But I have to admit, sleeping in on Sunday morning might have been worth missing Nat's.

I guarantee this list of OVCX racers at CX Nationals is not complete, mainly because I swear I saw Ryan Lindsey from Zepher/Cycledots yesterday but even upon a double check he remains buried in a list of bib numbers. Sorry bud. I was pretty CX-eyed by the time I got to the day 4 results. It was especially tough to figure out who is actually from the Ohio Valley area in the Collegiate Results. If you don’t see somebody you know, send an email or view full results from the 2008 Cyclocross Nationals in Kansas City on the USA Cycling Website here or at the KC Cross Nationals website.

PHOTO: a familiar mullet-#2237 and a familiar Texas Roadhouse jersey #355 in the U23 race from VeloNews.

B Women
1 2276 BOREM, Nicole Warsaw, IN DRT Racing 00:44:40.00
DNS 2265 LEWIS SROKA, Julie N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling

B Men 30-39
2 2088 MESSER, Andy Columbus, IN DRT Racing 00:42:54.00
17 2015 MYERS, Ryan fort Wayne, IN NA 00:45:51.00

B Men 40+
14 1749 SROKA, Rudy N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team + ST
26 1741 HEPPNER, Blaine Louisville, KY Bike Clicks/Team Louisville

35 1745 COLLINS, Joe Louisville, KY Team Louisville + ST
38 1723 CRAFT, Jeffrey Madison, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team + ST

Junior Girls 10-12
2 1637 WEBB, Eden Louisville, KY Red Zone Cycling 00:38:53.00
8 1638 HALEY, Frances-Jane Louisville, KY Red Zone Cycling 00:48:02.00

Junior Girls 13-14
4 1290 MOSSMAN, Hannah Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:31:58.00

Junior Girls 15-16
7 934 MORRIS, Colleen Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:32:11.00

Junior Girls 17-18
5 940 MORRIS, Michelle Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:30:28.00

Masters Women 45-49
12 1602 LEWIS SROKA, Julie N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:46:27.00

Masters Women 30-34
DNF 1577 DALLAIRE, AnnaJean Louisvile, KY SoBe-Cannondale

Masters Men 35-39
29 1140 MESSER, Andy Columbus, IN DRT Racing 00:48:51.00
44 1039 MYERS, Ryan fort Wayne, IN NA 00:50:28.00

Masters Men 40-44
26 1257 WEBB, Morgan Louisville, KY Barbisol 00:48:36.00
35 1235 HEPPNER, Blaine Louisville, KY Bike Clicks/Team Louisville 00:49:52.00

Masters Men 45-49
7 1302 SHOGREN, gunnar Morgantown, WV SoBe Cannondale 00:47:43.00
25 1411 FAGERBERG, Erik LOUISVILLE, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:51:07.00
45 1332 MANDROLA, john louisville, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:53:51.00
59 1377 COLLINS, Joe Louisville, KY Team Louisville + 1 Lap Down
70 1388 OTTING, mike cincinnati, OH Mercyhealthplex/7hills Racing + 1 Lap Down

Masters Men 50-54
14 829 CRAFT, Jeffrey Madison, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:50:10.00
28 851 SROKA, Rudy N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:52:44.00
44 835 TOLER, Richard Dayton, OH Team Kreitler Rollers + 1 Lap Down
56 861 HAMILTON, Doug Fairborn, OH BioWheels Racing/Reese-Campbel + 2 Laps

Under 23 Women
8 408 BENSON, Emily Medina, OH DRT Racing + 1 Lap Down

Under 23 Men (may be some discrpency between KC results & USA Cycling)
19 Clayton Omer 53:28.0 344 Calistoga Racing Team
26 322 LLEWELLYN, Andrew Louisville, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:55:02.00

DI Collegiate Men
5 Mike Sherer IU
7 Kip Spaude Lindsey Wilson
8 Issac Neff IU
12 Clayton Omer Lindsey Wilson

Elite Men
51 Ryan Knapp

Elite Women
35 Betsy Shogren Sobe Cannondale

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Four Christmases and Four Bikes

As I see it, at the heart of the movie Four Christmases, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon weren’t evil to want to do their own thang instead of dealing, uh, I mean spending loving time with family over the holidays. See below for the Four Christmases holiday survival guide. One year I brought both the mountain bike, the road bike and, what the “f” was I thinking, a trainer…for both of us. Add luggage for a 4-5 day trip and a bunch of wrapped gifts and I start to think about telling relatives that I’m spending the holiday inoculating babies in Namibia. Since then, I’ve narrowed it to just a cross bike. This year I might just plan on a snowy hike or trail run. Then again, how much is that flight to Tahiti?

The real issue is eeking in the ride or run while running between her Dad’s on the west side, my Mom’s on the north side, her Aunt’s out in the boonies, our friends on the south side and my brothers back on the west side again. It’s $2226.80pp round trip to Tahiti on Delta. This of course all gets complicated with sharing the shower with your step Dad’s kids, running last minute gift errands, finding time to wrap presents without anyone catching a glimpse early and picking up muffins at the bakery for your mom. Hmm Cancun is only $535.80pp nonstop. This year is the 8th time I go home for my Four Christmases and I’ve learned a few tricks on how to get in some outdoor fun amidst a full house of relatively unfit relatives:

1 Don’t make plans for the morning; even brunch is cutting it too close. This is your time to get up and get out the door before anyone creeps downstairs and throws you a curveball like Mom asking you to go pick up creepy Uncle Harold who lives out in the sticks and see’s his golden years as his opportunity to fill your car with farts. If you do run into mom prepping food in the kitchen at 6:30am, you’re not totally screwed. Just get dressed for your run or ride before you walk into the kitchen, chat over a quick breakfast and then make a break for it.

2 Think of where all your relatives and friends live in relation to the best places in town to ride and pick the best one to stay at for the holiday. You’ll make brownie points for visiting. My mom’s is perfect: a few blocks from the bike trail and close to some bushwackable neighborhood trails.

3 KISS Keep It Short Silly. Bang out a quick hour, especially if you’re headed someplace cold. When you add up the time getting dressed and undressed you’re looking at least an hour and a half anyway. Plan it right and the last of your in-laws will be tweezing the last of their monobrow in the bathroom when you roll in the door.

4 Don’t bring a trainer. This is your chance to have fun in your old haunts. If it’s really too cold to ride, go for a run, walk or hike. Besides, do you really want creepy Uncle Harold to see you in your bike shorts or your in-laws to think your wife couldn’t have picked a bigger doof to marry.

5 Bring the cyclocross or mountain bike. Unless you’re traveling to So Cal, Phoenix, or Florida, it’s pretty dang chilly out on the roads. Secondly, bring the cheapest one you own. Your relatives won’t cry when they accidently knock it over getting a Miller High Life out of the garage refrigerator, but you might. If you don’t have trails near where you’re staying, ride the knobbies on the road or go rip up a neighborhood park.

6 Check the map for good places to ride before you get to your destination or on you’re way back. Play it right and it’s almost like going on a cycling vacation and just running into your relatives…almost.

7 Check the web for local club rides. Every city has a local club ride during the week, even in winter. Tell your mom you’re staying through Sunday because you love her so much, and then go rip it up with the locals.

8 Make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. Again, make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. As much as the holidays may pain you, you still want to make it to Grammy’s on time to unwrap those new mukluks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever Contest

It’s time to celebrate. I owe ya…big time. Half a CX season has gone by since I moved to Blogger from the former Joe Biker Blog on AOL. A month ago I was literally taken aback with the readership statistics. That’s you. I was floored when I checked the numbers yesterday. It’s doubled. Even more impressive is that half of the people who have visited once have come back to read again. This past Monday, December 8th, was the 2nd biggest readership day ever next to the Monday after the Cincinnati UCI 3-day CX weekend. Thank you. I’m glad I’ve been able to give you a little bike soup when you can’t get out and ride. While I don’t have 1199 pieces of swag for all the first time visitors or 612 trinkets for the die hard returning visitors over the past two months, I do have one little thing that I’m willing to part with. Since it’s officially the “off season” for most of us, it’s time to have fun on the bike.

Don’t get any ideas about those Zipp wheels I wrote about Monday. I paid in mud and blood for those. However, I wrote a piece a while back about Bottle Cap Helmet Mirrors. Completely unsolicited, the creator sent me one as thanks for writing about ‘em. I know. I know. Helmet Mirrors are the cycling world equivalent of taped nosepiece black rimmed geek glasses. But, when you hand craft them from a genuine black spoke complete with nipple and add a “Fat Tire Ale” bottle cap as the mirror’s frame (on right in photo), suddenly the geek is cool. Pure genius. That’s half the battle of being a cyclist anyway. The non-cycling world thinks we’re all a bunch of tools anyway. The Bottle Cap Helmet mirror makes you a little less toolish in the eyes of Joe Sixpack.

So, here’s the contest: The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever. Email a photo of you being a complete tool on your bike to The Best Bike Blog Ever*
with the subject line: “The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever.” Throughout the contest, I’ll post the better photos on the blog. To avoid being judgmental, the winner of the Fat Tire Ale Helmet Mirror will be drawn randomly from all entries. Deadline will be the three month anniversary of The Best Bike Blog Ever*, January 8th at 11:59pm Eastern Time. Winner will be contacted via return email.

Good luck and thanks for reading The Best Bike Blog Ever*.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Know Someone Who's Lucky

I passed up entering the holiday Mercedes raffle at Kenwood Mall the other day. Besides smelling like a sulfurous telemarketing junk mail scam, I’m not a very lucky man. While I may disagree when I feel the leather driver’s seat hug my buns, nature knows that I’d be a tool in a convertible Mercedes. My wife, on the other cleat, has been blessed with beauty, a knack for numbers and the ability to attract unexpected fortunes to herself…nearly a luck savant.

While she has yet to be on TV accepting an oversized check with an overabundance of zeros or answering the Publishers Clearing House knock on the door with her hair in curlers while wearing fuzzy slippers, she matched 4 of 6 numbers in the lottery once and scratched her way to numerous tiny fortunes. She always brings home the bacon at race raffles. She’s cleaned house at the Six Hours of Power and Dirty Divas women’s mountain biking clinic raffles by purchasing 25 dollars worth of tickets and winning on nearly every single one. I think the only thing I’ve won in the past ten years has been an IF water bottle and a fat measuring scale that I have yet to figure out how to operate, which I blame for having 2 pack abs. The only luck I’ve had was her saying “yes” when I asked her to marry me.

This is precisely why I asked her to send me good karma for yesterday’s end of season raffle for the OVCX. If you don’t have good luck yourself, it’s completely okay in the world of luck to know someone who’s lucky. If it’s your spouse, that brings even more luck. That’s why James Bond has his babe du jour kiss the dice at the craps table. It works.

After the last race yesterday, the racers gathered in the park building for season awards and the raffle. This is no ordinary sock and water bottle raffle. There was big stuff up for grabs: a custom Shamrock CX frame, a Jamis Supernova frameset, two Redline frames, Chris King goodies and a set of drool worthy all-carbon cyclocross specific Zipp 404 wheels. Only the people who entered at least ten of the 13 races qualified. While I didn’t see the list of the names, I estimate there was only 50-60 people vying for the goods, pretty good odds to win something sweet. However, I totally expected to go home cold, smelly, dirty, sore and lighter in the wallet and parts department than I arrived.

On race day mornings, my wife usually sends me off with a kiss, the phrase “kick some ass,” and a wink. I told you I was lucky to have married her. Yesterday, we skipped the “kick some ass” and she said "good luck winning the wheels." I had been talking about them all season. While I had some success on the bike this season, the raffle stewed in the back of my head and made the missteps of bad days on the bike seem worth while. At the race yesterday I had a wheel/tire issue, ended up grabbing the pit bike on lap 2 and did not kick any ass. Oh well, there was still the raffle. I smiled. It was just fun to race on snow in 15 degree weather. Besides, at a party the night before, I had jokingly told people who thought I was a buffoon for racing in cold snowy weather that I was just going for the raffle.

With the Elite races over and the car packed, I grabbed a snack, my cell phone and went inside for the raffle. When I sat down with my teammates, I saw I had a text message waiting. Here’s what it said:

From: My Wife
“Here’s a good luck wish for the raffle! How was your race”

My reply:
Thanks for the vibes finished 12 had an issue with rear wheel on lap 1 had 2 switch 2 pit bike phil took 2nd raffle is starting now xoxo

And here’s the message I sent just minutes later with the photo above:
“I won the zipps omg!”

PS: Welcome new follower Joel. Thanks for reading. If you'd like to become a follower, see link on top right of page below the cycling news.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dear St. Nick

Just a few of the items on my Christmas list:

A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium

Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest

Bell Volt Helmet

Giro Semi Glasses

Mont-Bell U.L.Down Inner Jacket

Monday, December 1, 2008

Can't Even Beat L-Ville in Fantasy CX

Fantasy CX standings are out, and while it's tough to figure out who's the local competition in the 238 deep world-wide field based on the mostly goofy and sometimes hillarious usernames, Bike Clicks/Team Louisville not only smokes me on the regular CX Course, but in make believe CX-land as well. They're ranked 62nd with 1723 points. The Best Bike Blog Ever* is ranked 84th with 1644. The leader has 2258. Like usual I'll have to be happy with the top 3rd of the field! Dammit! If you're participating in Fantasy CX, leave a comment below and let the rest of us know who you are and what your user name is in the standings. Be fun for a little "Best Smack Talk Ever." However, I can barely remember which riders are on my fantasy team anymore.

Standings as of 12/1/08 here.

So This Is What It's Like

Hoogerheide Cyclo Cross World Cup 2008

You ever wonder what it’s like to be in the chase group when you watch those cyclocross World Cup videos, maybe from a race in the Netherlands, where the riders eyes are bugging out through the mud painted on their face, mouths are wide open breathing fog as the riders freight train through the course trying to catch one or two leaders off the front?

On the second lap of the Masters 1/2/3 race yesterday at Storm the Greens in Louisville I distinctly remember thinking, “So this is what it’s like.” I can’t believe I had time for a thought like that. In a chase group gunning for 2nd with 3 guys in front of me and two behind coursing through muddy corners, misty rain, over surprise tree roots and through bottom bracket deep sand, there wasn’t room in my brain for errant thoughts. Apparently, elation takes up less brain space than errant thoughts.

Aside from a Dutch or Flemish speaking announcer, everything that’s great about cyclocross was there at that moment: slippery mud, speed, fierce competition, rain, cowbells, cold, spectators waiting for carnage, puddles, pre-shifting before obstacles, being from Ohio and every guy I was with was from Kentucky and gunning for a State Championship podium spot, someone mistaking me for a teammate and shouting “Go Mitch” instead of “Go Joe,” snot, ankle deep mud between railroad tie stairs, grass and goo hanging from the brake cables, getting in the drops in the headwind, the guy in front doing a header in the sand, split second decisions, wondering if I’d have to make a bike change for a clean rig, cutting the inside line as the guy in front of me fishtails through a corner…on and on. Somewhere in all of that the phrase, “so this is what it’s like” crept into my head.

A race you wish would never end, that’s what it’s like.

Details & Results at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Velo Gobbler

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend and beware the wild turkeys on your ride. Talk to you next week.
Gobble Gobble

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This Article Contains Caffeine

Shoes, helmet, coffee. That’s my new pre-race checklist. That’s all I really need to race my bike. I would’ve listed a bike, but if you forget your bike you’re a doof. I prefer to think that I’m one step higher than doofs on the evolution ladder, which after Sunday, may not be the case. Since this is a pre-RACE checklist, I’ve added the helmet. Previously, my pre-RIDE checklist only consisted of one thing…shoes (for more on that initial list read Flip Flops are Not Shoes.) So, I’ve added coffee, since I discovered State Championship Sunday that without coffee I’m about as functional as a hundred-year-old in a convalescent home.

Against the advice of my wife who knows I can work myself into a nervous gagging twit before a race, I did think about this race all week long. I made sure I got my hard workouts in and gave myself time to recoup in between. I checked out the pre-reg list just after the deadline passed. I cleaned and lubed both bikes. The day before I got in an easy spin, packed my bag, made up a cooler bag with water bottles, GU’s and snacks. My tool box, bikes, work stand, pit kit and foldable chairs waited alongside my truck in the garage. I ate a good breakfast and was buttoned up top to bottom. However, I wasn’t nervous at all. Like an assembly line worker, I had a job to do. Unfortunately, I neglected to screw on one little nut that held the whole thing together: caffeine.

In the last three races only one guy from Ohio had finished in front of me, and just by maybe ten seconds. Aside from him, the always fast Garth Prosser who was listed on the pre-reg list, and the fact that the Kentucky guys would still win the race, I thought I had a reasonable shot at winning the Ohio State Cyclocross Masters Championships (being the first Masters 35+ rider who lives in Ohio to cross the finish line.) Yeah, I’m such a dork that I googled the riders on the pre-reg list to see who was from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky. Shut up. You do it too. At least I admit it. I only had to worry about masters aged Ohioans. I just had to hope that I was ten seconds faster than the Lake Effect guy who beat me in Yellow Springs and that maybe Garth would either get his dreadlocks caught in his derailleur or forget to drink coffee in the morning, come down with a debilitating headache which would be compounded by the bumpy frozen course, a case of the wishy- washies and be forced to withdraw from the race prior to the start and drive home a quivering wreck. Or, actually ride faster than him. I was hoping for the former.

Garth’s hair did not get caught in his derailleur. I forgot to drink coffee in the morning. Yada, yada, yada…with my entry refunded ten minutes before the start of the race, my teammates stood with a look of “where the f*** are you going" on their faces as I drove away body shivering, bones aching, head throbbing and swimming in dizzyness. It was so nasty I didn’t even give my buddies the courtesy stop to let them know what was going on. I just wanted to crawl under a warm blanket and sleep the day away with our warm and fuzzy kitties.

A few blocks from the Columbus venue, I pulled into Walgreens and snatched up a bottle of generic Advil and a rather colossal bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. When I swung into the driveway, two hours later in Cincinnati, the head and other aches were gone. For the most part the wishy-washyness had subsided and I thought about riding my bike for the first time since warming up for the race, before the headache set in. Then I got a case of the “you sucks” and “you blew its.” So, in an effort to cure my bruised ego, I set out on a road ride to find my wife who was out riding with friends.

I’ve got great friends. After stewing by myself for 45 minutes, I found ‘em riding along the river on Kentucky’s Route 8. Aside from the initial ribbing, they gave me what I came looking for: sympathy and reassurances that in-fact I don’t suck. Then, I added coffee and/or caffiene to my pre-race checklist.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crossgazi Scale of Demoralization

Getting passed by some putz you beat last week

And being forced to take the nearly hub-deep line through the ice-crusted mud puddle soaking your left foot to the bone on the first lap

Then, as you drive it hard to make up lost ground you over cook a corner and someone else who you beat last week pips you on the inside and gaps you as you struggle to remain upright while removing the caution tape from your right-hand shift lever

Now gassed with your head hung low and trying to get feeling back into your frozen foot and the ice out of your cleat by banging it against the pedal, you accidentally remain in the saddle through the section where the moles have turned the course into speed bumps causing you to appear as if you are riding a bull in front of the spectators and there are no rodeo clowns to save you.

Then the uncontrollable drooling sets in: from your mouth, your nose and what’s this? “Oh my god,” you think, “how are my eyes drooling.”

Suddenly blinded with frozen snot that the wind whipped into your eye, an ice-pack for a left foot and an angel hair pasta spine you totally case-it on the barriers, flatting your rear wheel about as far away from the pit as you possible can be as that guy who’s always last and rides as fast as your mama on the bike path asks if you’re okay as he passes you for good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday Mornings

The sun is doing it’s best to burn the frost off my windshield and the fog from the Ohio River Valley. Like a human coco bean radiator, I take another sip off coffee and unzip my jacket. There’s always an interesting story Sunday morning’s on NPR. Today, I think it’s an interview with a producer from a TV cop drama, but I missed the beginning where they mentioned the show. He’s actually been to real murder scenes and I laugh when he reiterates the fact that saying “c’mon, shoot me” is about the dumbest thing you can say if someone in real life points a gun at you. I’m halfway through an Odwalla Bar and about a half hour from today’s cyclocross race venue.

Just this past Saturday, my wife and I were spinning and watching the “Pure Sweet Hell” video. Some CX nut from Portland was saying how cross is sort of masochistic. My wife quipped with a smart-assed raised eyebrow, “is that why you like it?!” Caught off guard by her subtle humor, I spurted out something like, “no, I like it because it’s short and really hard.” I chucked inside and we kept spinning. As the yuk wore off, I started to think of why I like cyclocross.

I do like it because it’s short and hard. While I do like racing bikes in general, I’ve never been completely fond of the all-day long endurance mountain bike races. I don’t get excited for the Mohican 100 and Pisgah Death March like I do for cyclocross. Every form of racing is hard in its own right, but for some reason I prefer the red-line racing over the “oh god I hope I can endure this beating for another 4 hours” variety.

But, cyclocross is more than that. It’s the little intricacies, most of the time nothing to do with the actual bike riding, all rolled up into one package that keeps me coming back every weekend. It’s trying to quietly stuff a cowbell in the pocket of my backpack without waking up my wife. It’s loading up the bikes on a chilly November morning and seeing my neighbor tip-toe out to grab his newspaper in his underwear and suddenly realize that someone spotted him in his boxers. It’s feeling compelled to make a sign of the cross midway through evening hill repeats in Mount Adams as I rest and take in the vista overlooking the Ohio River Valley from the gate of the Holy Cross-Immaculata Church.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Are you racing in a category where there really isn’t a higher category?
Yes (you can’t be a sandbagger)
No (you could be a sandbagger)

Did you pack a podium jersey in your bag the morning before the race?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger)

Can you easily recall your user names and passwords for all the cycling forums and websites, but have trouble recalling the name of your local USA Cycling Rep, their email address and exactly how many points are required to an upgrade to the next category?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, but we’re starting to doubt it)

Have you won the last 4 or 5 races without wiping a single string cheese noodle of snot on your glove?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (if you still won, albeit a little booger-ish, or don't wear gloves because it wouldn't look pro at the finish line…you still could be a sandbagger)

When you won your last of those races, was there complete silence at the finish line, but roaring cheers for a slobbering soul who finished behind you?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, if the person cheering was someone who promised they’d buy lunch or kick in for gas on the way home)

When you won the last time, did you have time to change into your “podium jersey” before the person behind you crossed the finish line?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, and so could the person who finished behind you or if you eased up mid-race so you wouldn’t lap someone who might call you out as a sandbagger)

After you won the 4th or 5th race this season, did your car develop a flat tire before you left the race venue again?
Yes (you might be getting a subtle message that you could be a sandbagger)
No (you might have run-flat tires, and could still be a sandbagger)

Do you have a pit bike, pit wheels, pit wash kit, pit tools, pit mechanic, pit picnic basket and change bikes every lap because you have such a lead on the 2nd place rider that you thought you should get some practice on your other bike?
Yes (cough) Sandbagger. What?
No You still could be a sandbagger if the thought has crossed your mind

When you won, did you sort-of, you know, dial back the extension of the fist pump?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger and might also enjoy stealing candy from children at Christmas too)

While leading the last lap and you went through the particularly tough sand section of the course, could you have sworn you heard the word “sand” and thought for a second that spectators might not be discussing how deep the sand was?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger and your $300 helmet might be on too tight causing constriction of the ear canal)

When you won your races this year, have you pointed at your jersey, pumped your fist in the air, raised your hands, pulled out and kissed a picture of a family member, but the last time you won you realized you were fresh out of animated finish line celebrations?
Yes (you might consider getting an upgrade before your tires are flat again this weekend)
No You still could be a sandbagger, just not a creative one

Now that you’ve won four or five races this season, are you considering racing the next race say on platform pedals, without a saddle and with three cameras mounted on your bike to catch all the action of the extra challenge?
Yes (you might be a sandbagger and not even realize that it takes less time to email you results for an upgrade than it does to find the platform pedals in the bin on your home shop shelf)
No (you still could be a sandbagger with only two vanity cameras to record yourself riding your bike)

Did you feel that the above list of questions was not funny at all and hit a little too close to home?
Yes Get your upgrade
No Keep racing till you get enough good finishes to get the upgrade points. You don’t have to be winning races to be a sandbagger, because sandbaggers who take more than their share of wins breed sandbaggers who take more than their fair share of the lower steps of the podium. Seriously enjoy your few weeks at the front end of the lower category race. Feel pimp in your collection of free socks and swag. Then, get your upgrade, report to the next higher category for your beating and let someone else enjoy elation when they cross the finish line. Repeat until the answer to the first question is yes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

158 Yo!

Out of frustration for weighing 170, I wrote a blog entry titled “Don’t Stop Riding The Elevator” on Friday, January 25th of this year. We had spent the previous fall moving from KY to OH and the cycling had definitely suffered. That day, I set a goal to be 158, the lightest weight I can remember as a competitive cyclist, the weight where my Grandma says “Joseph, you’re too thin,” the weight where my wife says, “ooh baby you feel skinny,” by the Mohican 100 MTB race in May. Things didn’t go as planned.

Shortly after that entry, I tweaked my knee in a freak push broom incident and went in for meniscus surgery on my knee. As quick as my recovery went, the goal shifted to the beginning of CX training season in August. Again, a setback. I nearly bent my thumb back to my elbow when I clipped a tree in a mountain bike race in late June/early July, which made gripping a handlebar quite painful for 4-6 weeks. So, I started running and doing more old school core stuff including jumping jacks.

I recently had a birthday, got some good stuff like this adventure book "Roads To Quoz" and two new Yakima rails for the roof top bike rack. As it turns out, the best birthday gift, I gave to myself. Today, after my Monday morning ritual, I set down the copy of Outside Magazine, looked at my another-year-older carcass in the mirror and thought, “Huh, I look kind of skinny.” My bod had sort of a “V” shape, sort of, as if the bottom of the “V” was slightly melted. Setting myself up for disappointment, I told myself, “Uh, you look about 160-161.” I stepped on the scale and there it was…158.

If I had any left in me, I would’ve crapped my shorts.

There’s some entertaining, marginally motivational and possibly useful cycling oriented weight loss stuff in the previous articles from the old blog on AOL, “161st Street,” “Snackin’ With The Biggest Loser” and “Don’t Stop Riding The Elevator.” One thing is for sure, you won’t lose any weight sitting on your arse and reading it. Put down those Cheetos, go do something that makes you feel good about yourself, and come back to read ‘em later.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wezembeek-oppem Belgium Hello!

personalized greetings

It’s slightly 12-year-oldish to celebrate a one month anniversary, but after the switch from Joe Biker on AOL on October 8th, this blog has been up and running on blogger for just about a month and I am absolutely blown away over the numbers of new readers and returning readers. Moreover, it's pretty cool to have an insight into who and where you are. From the one person in Wezembeek-oppem Belgium to a handful in Dayton, Ohio USA, thanks for reading and thanks for moving with me. Happy Anniversary, I hope you enjoy your cake! (Video above) Cycling and writing certainly makes me a happy person and I hope reading this blog makes you happy to be a cyclist too. Thank you.

When I first set up this blog, I signed up for a service that tracks readership. It’s that little counter at the bottom. No, I can’t tell your name or if you lube your chamois, but I do know the country/state/city where you have your computer hooked up. I can tell if you came over from the link on Two Johns Podcast, a cycling forum, Google, or in a round about way just have it bookmarked as a favorite. I know what you're wondering. This may seem unbelievable, but no click thrus have come from or went to naked websites. Bike porn on the other hand, well that's what you're all about. Since the internet is usually a very personal thing, I thought you might like to know who else is reading The Best Bike Blog Ever with you. Below are some stats and trends I’ve pulled from the data for roughly the first month of this blog, from October 8th through November 5th, 2008.

The Basics:
Page Views (number of times viewed by anybody or anything): 1481
Unique Views (actual people page views, including returns) 971
First Time Visitors (Real people) 685
Returning Visitors (People that actually came back for more) 286

What's the Big Deal?
Monday’s are the biggest days, followed by the days with new posts. Thanks for subscribing, becoming a “follower,” and making it a favorite in your browser. Like coming back to work from a weekend of “Fight Club,” you obviously have an appetite for race news, stories, pictures and videos the Monday after race weekends. October 13th was the day after the big Cincinnati UCI3 weekend and there were 162 page views and 97 unique views. Pretty cool!

Where Did You Come From?
Big thanks to the websites and blogs who have added a link. The Two Johns Podcast has provided the most click-thrus. I have it on my I-tunes and you should too. Thanks to those involved in the OVCX series. The biggest days have been the two Monday’s after the UCI race weekends where the race reports lived on The Best Bike Blog Ever with a click through from Cycling News, Daily Peloton, Velo News, Cyclocross World, CX Magazine, the OVCX main site and the Cincinnati UCI 3 blog.

Where Did You Go?
Most readers checked out the race photos at Jeff Jakucyk’s site. After that it’s the Two John’s Podcast, CX Magazine, Steve Tilford and Molly Cameron’s Blog, BioWheels website, Belgium Knee Warmers, and of course one of my favorites, Fat Cyclist. Links on the right.

Where Are You?
72% of readers are from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, which I reckon, means 28% of readers, roughly 300ish, ain’t from these parts.

From These Parts:
Cincinnati leads the pack, followed by Florence KY, Louisville KY, Newport KY, Mainville OH, Lawrenceburg IN, and Dayton OH

Readers Abroad:
Canada, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece

Larger Cities:
Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Montreal, Portland, Nashville, Pittsburg, Lexington, Madrid, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Austin, Kansas City, Athens, Oakland, St. Paul

Places That Sound Like I Should Visit With A Bike:
Mountain Lake MN, Sandy UT, Grand Junction CO, Wezembeek-oppem Belgium

I Know Where Some of You Work:
I can tell if you used your work computer based on the IP address. Don’t sweat it. Your secret’s safe with me. Thanks for taking your coffee break with The Best Bike Blog Ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Harry Met the Throttle Blaster

We have a saying when we go for rides in Kentucky. Usually my buddy Tony shouts out, “You know what’s wrong with this ride?!” The response is always a resounding, “Not a G-D thing!” Aside from the errant dog (our other saying is that it’s not a ride in Kentucky, till you get chased by a dog…and sometimes a 3-legger that can chase like he’s got six legs) and pickup truck with three polite young men who shout words of encouragement out the window, rides in Northern Kentucky are some of my all time favorites.

As profiling as it may seem, usually a ride down route 10 in Kentucky goes like this: pickup truck full of nice young men shouting positive messages out the window, dog, tobacco, “man this road just flows on forever,” tobacco, dog, “ooh look at the pretty view from the top of this ridge,” Baptist Church, bar, “ooh you can see the Ohio River from up here.” Also, it’s a very rare day to see a local riding a $3000+ bike instead of being inside a $300 pickup truck. There are two that I know personally, one of whom is Harry Wicks (pictured left in photo). He’s Appalachian born and bred. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a good ride in Northern Kentucky this past Saturday, so bad he didn’t come to a party at my house because he thought the black cloud hanging over his head would fall on my house. Thanks for looking out for me Harry!

In his own words (with some of mine tossed in like this), this is the story of Harry’s bad day. It helps if you read the story with an Eastern Kentucky drawl.

Hey Gang, (He writes gang, but really mean’s Y’all)

I suppose (fancy Ohio talk for “I reckon”) we all have days where things just don't go as planned, but Saturday, it seemed as if the gremlins were after me. Saturday, being a beautiful fall day and perfect riding weather, I thought that I would ride one of my "easier" routes so not to be dead for the race Sunday. (Easier in Harry’s neighborhood simply means the hilly route with only one mean foaming at the mouth chasing dog)

Things started off badly as I crashed on a corner within sight of my house that I have ridden thousands of times. I guess that I hit a rock and didn't have my brain tuned on yet. Anyway, the slide was for about 20 feet down hill on the blacktop and into the neighbor’s yard. (I told ya. You can’t make stuff like this up. Howdy neighbor!) I went back home and doctored on the road rash and set out again. Pain and bleeding are not going to ruin my day. (Okay if that doesn’t prove he’s a tough-ass Appalachian, I don’t know what will)

The following things happened to me over a 2 1/2 hour ride:

Almost was ran into head on by someone rounding a curve in a car, on the wrong side of the road. (Note to non-locals: sometimes they do drive on the left side of the road in the hills of Kentucky)

Almost ran over by someone on a motorcycle passing me in a corner to hot. I could have elbowed him in the face. It was that close. (For those that are into it, the hills of Northern Kentucky are a killer place to ride your Kawasaki Ninja 3000x Supa Bike)

Some redneck in a diesel truck drove next to me, slowed down and romped on the throttle- blasting me with diesel exhaust. (This may sound bizarre to some of you, but this throttle-blasting has happened to me on occasion, like a redneck farting in your face)

I had a flat.

Then my pump fell apart. (And, this is where I feel he should’ve went home and counted his blessings) I had to reassemble it on the side of the road.

Was chased by 3 dogs. (Remember, this was supposed to be the easy ride)

A lady going to her mailbox and looking directly at me, walked into the road right in front of me. I managed to whop (combination of whip and whoop) around her while out-sprinting her dog chasing me. (That would make dog #4 I believe, the quota for a weeks worth of rides in Kentucky in just one day)

A car passed around me as I was climbing up a blind hill and almost went head on into an oncoming car. I figured that I was to be the expendable "thing" in the way during a quick lane change, but everyone was safe and I continued on watching for the next misfortune.

By this time I was beginning to watch the sky for meteors heading my way.

I did servive. (That is precisely how you write the word "survive" with a southern drawl, and one of the reason's Harry is so endearing) Tomorrow will be a better day. See y'all at the race.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coo Coo For Cyclocross

About 30 seconds into this video of the OVCX Masters 1/2/3 Cyclocross Race at the Gunclub in Cincinnati, Blaine from Louisville eats crap, my teammate Mark becomes the meat in the sandwich, Morgan from Barbasol takes a swan dive trying to avoid the mayhem becoming the 2nd piece of bread, and I do a tippy toes ballet dance near the caution tape, gracefully avoiding stepping on my teammate with the one inch spikes screwed in the toes of my shoes. Note to self: not good to play follow the leader going 25mph into a sandpit.

Mark, my teammate got his bell rung pretty good. He's okay, which means it's okay to laugh now. You'll see the Louisville rider get up, dust himself off, check his bike and start running while Mark is standing in the middle of the sand making it look like he's checking his bike but really seeing pretty chirping Disney birdies fly in circles around his helmet.

Later in the video Morgan Webb puts on a barrier bunnyhopping clinic.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Okay, I give. Click on the picture for the real Best Bike Blog Ever, Carpet Machine. I cannot compete with jumping bikes through fire. I am truely humbled.

Oh yeah...Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mangotmedown and other new CX Cats

USA cycling has done a great job with the new cyclocross categories divided by expertise level and age. However, cross is growing. I heard they’re getting fields of 100 in the Portland area. Already there are single speed CX categories and Clydesdale categories for the big girls and boys. Still, a one time podium level rider can all of a sudden find themselves struggling not to get lapped because of changes with work, family or a new found love of Cheetos. Maybe some adjustment is necessary. To help spread out the ever growing fields and make competition fairer, I’ve come up with a few ideas for new CX sub-categories based rider lifestyle. For example there could be a Cat 3 Ringers race, a Masters 1/2/3 35+ Junkies race or maybe a Cat 3/4 45+ Single Speed Clydesdale Mangotmedown Race.

People with no responsibilities beyond racing bicycles. I don’t know how you managed to make the rest of your life a mere formality, but congratulations to you, (and your left hand) for getting it done. You’re in a class by yourself.

People with athletic careers. Gym teachers, fitness instructors, pole dancers, I’m on to you. You can call it “work” all you want, but I know it’s all a diabolical secret evil training camp that you actually get paid for.

People with barely supervised day jobs. Like George Costanza from Seinfeld you sleep under your desk, waltz out everyday at 11a for a two hour “lunch” ride, roll into work whenever you need to pick up your check, and have the cowbells to send out emails suggesting that others meet you for a five o’clock ride on a weekday. You got it pretty good so just shut up.

Loafers with relationships. You’ve got the time to train, you just have to be strategic about it and divide your time wisely between your significant other and your true love…your bike.

Gu, Cytomax and Gatorade? What’s wrong with McNuggets tucked in the elastic of your shorts, Coca-cola in the water bottles and ham gravy recovery drinks? Not a damn thing, but you definitely have no business lining up behind someone with Stars and Stripes on their sleeves.

Babymama or Babydaddy:
Lovahs who took it to a whole nutha level and whose training time in minutes is far surpassed by the number of diapers changed this week. Besides, you only got 3 hours of sleep this week; it’s just too dangerous to ride with other people. That’s why we’ll take down the caution tape and get rid of the barriers for your one lap race. We’ll start the race by dropping a bomb, because even a starter’s pistol may not get you to lift your big sleepy head off your handlebars.

You got the lettuce to support your bike fetish, now only if you had the time to eek in your only thirty minute ride this week before your boss calls on your PDA again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

CX Dismount Epiphany-The Answer You've Been Looking For

As a rule, I pooh-pooh blogging about other blogs. It gives me the media heebie jeebies. I equate blogging about blogs to TV shows about radio shows, movies about newspapers or any combination you can think of. There’s just something not right about it. However, after reading the comments on Belgian pro Christine Vardaros’ blog about an entry titled “Just an average CX training day in Belgium,” (great article about running into Mario De Clercq on a CX practice loop) I noticed a nugget of supreme importance. This tiny little piece of information is at the root of a debate between me and nearly ever single crosser I know. It’s something that you may discover on your own. However, you would never know it with 100 percent of your soul unless you had a Belgian cyclocross coach, had complete disregard for sounding too naïve to ask a pro…or had to execute a perfect dismount in front of cyclocross god Mario De Clercq. Luckily, Christine (pictured left: photo from her blog) had to do just that and one such reader, at the risk of sounding naïve, had the cowbells to toss the question out there for the world to see. GCDavid was the first to comment on the post. Of all the things that could be said or asked about running into Mario DeClercq while practicing CX in Belgium, his question was simple. “Dismount: right leg behind left or in front of left??”

I whacked my computer hoping it would make a sound on Christine’s end and get her attention to answer. “Peanut? Are you there? GCDavid has a question of utmost importance. Whack!” Seven hours passed before she answered. With her blog minimized on my computer, I nearly had an aneurism waiting. Then, the epiphany posted.

In the comments of this entry on her blog, Christine Vardaros says the following regarding how you should step when dismounting your cyclocross bike, especially when you’re doing it in front of CX hero Mario De Clercq. I hope you are sitting down, because the ceiling is about to open with pretty white Belgian angels and cherubs flying around playing harp music:

“Right foot in front of left when you are doing a high speed flat dismount. Your right foot serves as the first step of the run. And the right food steps behind left when you are getting off at slower speed or on an uphill. Hope that helps.”

Hope that helps??!! Oh my god woman! You are a saint! (A little peanut shaped fast cyclocrossing saint) And, thank you GCDavid, wherever you are, for having a big set of jangly cowbells to ask.

My buddy and BioWheels/Reece-Campbell teammate Tony and I have been debating this as if should be one way or the other. He watches so many cross videos on Belgium Knee Warmers blog and that his girlfriend probably wishes it was porn. He insists the “right foot behind” is the faster way. However, “right foot in front” is second nature to me and therefore faster for me. So our rule has been whatever is faster for you…until now.

Alas, Christine has pointed out that both ways have their place and are faster given the situation and an ungodly amount of practice in front of cyclocross gods like Mario De Clercq. And, my guess (as a person with a degree in broadcasting) is that most CX dismount videos are shot at a slower portion of the course where it’s easier to film the riders for a longer period of time and consequently the “right foot behind” dismount is the one that is most prevalent on the videos.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Springtime In The Rockies

“Put a jacket on! What do think this is? Springtime in the Rockies! You’re gonna catch a cold!” My mother engrained that phrase in my head during my youth. To her I would always be underdressed when there was a nip in the air, but I felt fine. Really mom, I wasn’t being a brat. I think that’s one of the reasons I love cyclocross. My engine runs a little hot and I’m a little more adept at operating when it’s chilly. Consequently I wither like a nervous bride in humidity and heat. This past week, sixty degree days slipped down from Canada and into Cincinnati. Ahhh. It feels good, except for the extra goobers that seem to find their way out of your nose when the weather turns chilly. A day ago we covered the backyard basil for our first overnight freeze warning. Leaves litter my yard. The forecast is calling for a soggy cyclocross course at the USGP in Louisville this weekend. It’ll probably be a little crusty when the first racers warm up on the course. It’s warm enough for shorts, but chilly enough for long fingered gloves and long sleeves on the bike. It’s springtime in the Rockies weather.

Maybe my helmet’s on too tight. I could be wrong to romanticize about weather that feels like springtime in the Rockies. With the recent UCI stories posted here, we may have some readers from Colorado. Post a comment. Let the world know if my mom was right and it’s too cold to go out without a jacket when it’s springtime in the Rockies. The closest I’ve come is Breckenridge in June. (photo above is Breckenridge in May) Sure springtime in Ohio is usually around mid-April, but at nearly ten thousand feet, spring doesn’t start popping for a few more weeks in Breck. At that time, snow stubbornly stuck to the tips Ten Mile range, the trail that crossed the ridgeline into the back bowls of Vail was closed to bikes and frost sparkled on the porch when I stepped out with a morning coffee. Then, the sun rose over mountains warming the air just enough to where you couldn’t see your breath, cool enough for arm warmers but toasty enough for riding in shorts. It’s perfect. My mom was totally insane. Love her. Think the world of her. But she’s totally whacked on this one. Myth: Busted.