Friday, January 30, 2009

Goodbye Spin Class, Hello Real Bike Rider...the latest in indoor cycling training

For as low as $19.95 per month (not including optional cranks, chain and flywheel) you can get the latest in winter cycling indoor core training technology. Presenting, “The Real Bike Rider,” as unseen on TV, or You Tube for that matter. That’s right! Improve your balance, core strength, criterium and mountain bike handling skills and train for the vertigo of cycling’s most challenging descents in the off season all in the privacy of your own home and at half the cost of a Real Ryder spin bike that's being shamelessly marketed to cyclists everywhere. It’s part spin bike, part abdominizer, part cute little horsey. The amazing Real Bike Rider bolts easily to your workout room floor with a hammer drill and four six inch galvanized steel bolts with lock washers. Get a portable base and use it in the living room or in the break room over lunch at work. Perfect and safe for all ages. Although, a helmet is highly recommended.

Use it outside. Its wrought iron construction is completely impervious to the elements and guaranteed to last through a nuclear winter. Execute turns, uphills and downhills just like you were riding an actual Real Ryder spin bike for a fraction of the cost all while remaining warm and indoors. Use it in front of the TV and make believe you’re in the pro peloton as you swing out wide and launch a blistering attack on your adversaries.

Act now and we wont even give you your very own Sham Wow and Snuggie! You following me camera guy? As seen on TV, the Sham Wow chamois soaks up something like 40 times its weight in sweat and the Snuggie will keep you warm and comfy in the basement. So now you can grunt it out for hours without worrying about damaging your fine hardwood floors with sweat or getting the post-ride chills.

But wait! There’s more! How ‘bout we throw in the optional cranks, chain, flywheel and a set of ergonomic handlebar grips for free? An unbelieveable value. Still not satisfied? Well act now and we’ll double your order for free. That’s right; you’ll get two Real Bike Riders for the price of one. Now, you can ride side by side with your spouse, teammates and friends all for the low low price of just $19.95 per month till you realize what a buffoon you’d be if you actually trained on one of these. Here’s how to order. Call 800-555-Ride. That’s 800-555-r-i-d-e. Once again, 800-555-ride. Some assembly and tools required. Offer not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or anywhere for that matter. The Real Bike Rider is not really for sale. Any resemblance to an actual exercise related product like the one on the video link here is purely coincidental. Restrictions apply. See comments of previous blog article for details.

100 Reasons to Register Now for the Mohican 100 Starting With Floyd Landis

I shared a beer with Floyd Landis last year at the Mohican 100 in Loudonville Ohio. There’s the picture to prove it. Still kick myself for not putting on a team jersey, mainly because my baggy shirt makes me look like a fat ass next to him. I zip tied devil horns from a Viking helmet I bought at a rummage sale to my helmet and the photo at the header of this blog appeared in Cycling News because of it. I peed on trees. Hundreds of tricked out bikes surrounded me all weekend. A buddy spent at least an hour and a half debating his tire choice while Trek’s Jeremiah Bishop and his teammates rode past our cabin for a pre-ride. My team, friends from all around Cincinnati, Louisville and Columbus shared tools, tweaked bikes and drank dark beers till well past sundown. We piled 4 guys into the truck at dawn and drove to the start. A black cat crossed the road in front of us entering Loudonville. I made the road rollout lead group split with the pros. I got a pint glass filled with Sierra Nevada at the finish line. Despite the trough of free food in the lodge, someone had a deep dish Chicago style pizza delivered to the venue. As for the race, like everyone else I spent the day covered in mud in what turned out to be the first sticky hot and humid day of the summer. I overheated between rest stops, slogged up shoe stealing mucky hills, cleaned my bike, took water cooler paper towel baths, nearly dropped out, got encouragement to continue from teammates, felt good for 5 miles, only to repeat the process over and over again for the next eight and a half hours. You’ll certainly save a coupla Jefferson’s by registering for the Mohican 100 before the early deadline on February 1st. However, the main reason to sign up now before the price goes up is that there’s really nothing that can happen between now and race day that’ll make the Mohican 100 more or less fun.

Link to confirmed riders of Mohican 100 here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Midwest Winter Ice Storm Cycling Stud

A layer cake of death is what the morning DJ’s on Cincinnati’s Q102 radio station called it. Cincinnati is in the midst of getting pounded with 4-6 inches of snow, a half to three quarters inches of ice and then another 4-6 inches of snow on top of that. Combined with Cincinnati’s small snow fighting force, hillbillies with bald tires on their pickup trucks and steep Ohio River Valley streets, “Layer Cake of Death” says it all. With the ice, I thought riding would be either impossible or miserable. Yada, yada, yada. I woosed out and considered shoveling three times to be my workout. A buddy of mine, did not woos out. He sent an email after his mountain bike commute Tuesday morning. The following is not the email. It is completely fictional, any resemblance to actual people, events or mountain bike studs is purely coincidental…kind of.

To: The Best Bike Blog Ever
Fr: Cincinnati Storm Stud

I thought I was in trouble when I spun my mountain bike out my driveway and into the automobile tread-troughs heading down my street. It was soooooper-slippery on the hardpack. I quickly discovered that traction was best when making fresh tracks in the powder, which did not offer much resistance. So I rode sidewalk the entire way to work and really only had to torque the cranks hard in sections where the snowplows had thrown the crusty granola chunks across the sidewalk. It was a fun and peaceful spin through the gently falling snow in the pre-dawn darkness, with cars creeping by on Riverside Drive not all that much faster than I was moving.

I got three "You must be crazy!" shouts from motorists and one woman in a Suburban with outdoorsy good looks shouted "You're a stud!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Goldsprints Cincinnati

The fixies were chained high on the parking lot fence. As techno music thumped from the Goldsprints party upstairs, a thin Italian looking bartender in a Campy cap was quick on the draw with two cans of PBR. I grabbed an IPA and made my way through the bar, nearly tripping over a wasted girl who was lying on the stairs. A guy with a forehead tattoo politely made his way past the DJ setup. A big guy in a kilt with a handlebar moustache spun 140rpm on his Redline single speed on rollers to the “go go go” cheers of the crowd and the groans of the historic bar’s old floorboards. Normally, I’d be hard pressed to cross paths with even one of these fellows, a fixie or PBR in a can on a night out. I haven’t seen a man in a kilt since a visit to Scotland. This was the first night of Goldsprints at Grammer’s Tavern in downtown Cincinnati, put on by Team Hungry.  And a source close to the mustached man, said in fact he was a true Scot under that kilt.

Racing bikes at a bar? Count me in. It doesn’t take much. From what I can gather from the Goldsprints MySpace page, these bar room races seem to be popping up in cities across the country and seem to be part of the growing fixie culture. It was sort of a weird scene, a little punk, a little fight club, but very cool and not serious in the least.  It was like something that you’d run into in the basement of a college house party.  The room was a salad spinner of people: students, hipsters, punkers, young professionals, tattooed dudes, computer geeks.  No doubt, the ages spanned from 21 to 40 something.  Everyone had a common thread, bicycles…beer and music. 

When my name popped up in the “on deck” list, I rolled my right pant leg up below the knee, put on my cycling cap, handed the stuff in my pockets to a friend and took another swig of my beer.  “3-2-1 Go!”  The crowd shouted for the racers ahead of me.  From a dead stop they spun up the single speed Redlines till their legs blurred in the dim light.  13.4 seconds was the winner’s time.  Most races seemed to last anywhere between 12 and 19 seconds.  Top speeds touched higher than 40mph for some.  No doubt the RPM’s were north of 140.  At least one person clocked a sub 12.

 I swung a leg over and my dreadlocked teammate, John Wood, pulled the toe straps tight on my Tsubo leather loafers.  That's me pictured left-rider on the right.  (Click on the photos to see a larger better quality image) Bikes were single speed Redlines with the rear wheel on rollers and the fork clamped down.  I nabbed the red bike.  It seemed to be faster for some reason.  Although both bikes had identical set up, the previous racers on the blue bike were coming up short.  It could have been something as simple as chain tension.  The margin of victory in these races was in the 10ths of seconds.  One race came down to one one-hundredth of a second.  I took two warm up bursts and me and my adversary gave the guy behind the computer the ready thumbs up. 

The display on the big screen counted down.  “3-2-1-Go!”  The crowd erupted.  The gear spun up so quickly, the resistance was gone instantly.  Wildly spinning, it was like running out of gears on a downhill only you had to keep pedaling.  It was all about pedal speed.  The key was to anticipate the clock, spin up as quickly as possible and hold the rpm’s until the line on the big computer screen reached the finish.  It was all over in 12.71 seconds (my winning time pictured left).  I won my first race.

Racers raced three times during the night.  I was feeling a little buzzed when I hopped on for the last time.  The first race determined who you’d race against next in order to keep the side by side action as competitive as possible.  At the end of the night the computer guys averaged your three times together to determine the overall finishing order.  I lost my 2nd race (blue bike) and won the third.  I came out 5th in the night, out of about thirty.  Results are posted here.

It’s Monday now, nearly three days later.  I’m still sore.  Yeah, one minute total of physical activity on Friday night put the hurt on me.  The hamstrings nearest the backs of my knees are still torked from uncorking more rpm’s than an electric toothbrush.  I got a little hitch in my lower back.  I can’t imagine how some of the others feel.  I’m in pretty good shape and have been pretty diligent about working in base training the last four weeks.  Was it worth it?  Hell yeah.  Goldsprints brought Cincinnati’s fixie crowd, racers, club riders and commuters a little bit closer.  That’s always good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ask A Pro: Georgia Gould on Podium Guys

She had a good point. While watching another male pro cyclist get kissed by a pair of Austrailian hotties on the Tour Down Under podium, my wife asked, “I wonder if there are podium guys for the pro women?” “Hmmpf well,” I said with a pause, “I don’t see why not.” There HAS to be podium guys for women. Why should the men get all the love? Or, would podium guys be kind of, you know, creepy? She didn’t seem to think so.

In all the pro women’s races I’ve seen, which really isn’t that many, I haven’t seen podium guys kiss the female race winner. So, like any curious PC equipped person, I googled images of “women’s pro cycling podium kiss.” Nothing came up. So, just to make sure I had my search terms correct, I googled “men’s pro cycling podium kiss.” Whadaya know! A whole bunch popped up. Lance, Floyd, Freddie Rodriguez. You name ‘em. They got smootched.

Striking out, I decided to take this to an expert. I decided to ask a professional women’s cyclist. I sent the following email to Luna Pro Georgia Gould :

Hey Georgia,

It was my buddies who scrawled your name across their collective chests for the UCI CX races in Cincinnati. Anyhoo, I race for BioWheels Cinti and write The Best Bike Blog Ever*.

Last night, when my wife, who races road bikes, and I were watching the Tour Down Under podium girls kiss the winner of the stage, she wondered if they have hunky podium guys for women’s pro races. I thought it was a fair question and I haven’t seen a women’s pro road race podium in person. Are there hot podium guys in cute outfits for the women?

Lemme know and if you don’t mind answering, I’d love to make it a post on my blog.

Wha da ya know, she answered on her blog here. Thanks Georgia!

Anyhoo, I’ve taken the liberty to find some potential podium guys. While I’m not a pro in finding a 100% pure piece of man candy, I think I did pretty good. Since the next big race is the Women’s Tour of California crit, I tried to muster up a pair of Hollywood Hunks that might fit the bill. What do you ladies think of these two potential candidates? (Mathew McConaughey-left, Ryan Reynolds-right) Should there be Podium Guys in women's cycling? Take the poll on the right.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Celebrities On My Bike: Taylor Hicks

“I gotta get on one of these” is what American Idol Taylor Hicks said while getting his picture snapped with my bike and I at a radio station tour stop to promote his appearance as Teen Angel in the musical Grease at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati through February 1st and his concert at the Century Theater in Oakley, Saturday January 24th.

Mildly admitting he may have had one too many Memphis BBQ sandwiches, Taylor Hicks whirlwind hasn’t stopped since he got off the plane in Hollywood. He actually had to have his dad pick up his car at the airport where months before he had left it to fly out for Idol auditions. The call to accept the role in Grease came during a five minute lunch while recording the new CD due out this spring. Think we all can relate to careers encroaching on exercise time and the pooch encroaching on the beltline.

I know what you may be thinking. Truthfully, I wasn’t a big fan of the big grey haired guy when he was on Idol either. I too thought the Soul Patrol was kind of corny. However, that was Idol. Now he’s doing his own thing, his own niche of music. Being a fan of the blues, I’m warmly impressed. I listened to a few cuts on
his myspace page. Good stuff if you’re into heartfelt soulful blues-ish music. You can feel the emotion in the songs. He said his band is full of seasoned players, some who’ve played with Clapton, another a virtuoso on the big Hammond B3 Organ. Bands don’t lug one of those things around the country unless they mean business. His new single “What’s Right Is Right” is due out in the coming weeks.

Hey, he was cool enough to take a goofy picture with me and my bike. If he can see a Les Paul in my Jamis Xenith, I can at least appreciate his passion for blues and soul music.

For more celebrities on my bike, click here to see the band The Bravery.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cling Wrap Pants

You know you’re a forty year old athlete when…you forget your pants.  This is the third time for me in as many weeks.  Maybe it’s an early sign.  Three out of the last five times I’ve brought clothes to go running from work, I’ve forgot my running tights.  I know there’s a difference between tights and pants but, the word “pants” seems to fit better and it’s funnier.  Pants.  See?  It’s been less than 25 degrees out each of those days I planned on running over lunch at work.  Needless to say, some sort of leg covering is sort of necessary.  I’m not a card carrying member of the Polar Bear Club.  I don’t garner any sadistic tough guy feeling from cold franks and beans (There’s Something About Mary).  While it’s only temporary and personally embarrassing, there’s still shrinkage to consider.

“Son of a!” is my usual exclamation.  This phrase is usually uttered after three complete inventories of the contents of my backpack while bending over berries in the breeze in the employee restroom.  That is then followed by the horrific thought that if I forgot my tights, I might have forgot to lock the door.  I turn to check.  Fhew!  Then I laugh wondering what if someone outside the bathroom door heard me say “son of a!”  Then I chuckle inside wondering what if someone outside heard me laughing in the bathroom.  Then there’s a brief thought of actually going outside in 17 degree weather with only shorts to protect Johnson and the Nuggets.  So far, I’ve had better sense.  I guess if you’re driving through Cincinnati’s Eden Park when it’s sub 25 degrees outside and see me running bare legged that I have taken the step into senility and you’re welcome to shout “hey dufus, put on some pants” from your car window.    

With this track record, I know that it will be cold again in the coming weeks; I will want to go for a run over lunch; I will forget my pants again.  So, like a kid with idiot straps on his mittens, I need to prepare for my own stupidity.  Since I obviously don’t have the brain power at seven o’clock in the morning to remember seven items of clothing, I could write a list: socks, shoes, tights, shorts, long sleeve shirt, hat, and jacket.  I could bring a spare set of winter running clothes and leave them in a cabinet.  Or, there’s always the Glad Cling Wrap in the employee kitchen, if I could trust myself to remember to put my work pants back on before I walk down the hallway. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

iPod iKnot

This is the reason I blow out blood vessels on my forehead.  This is the iKnot.  If someone could figure out how to tie one, they’d make ka-jillions. The iKnot is so powerful it could be used to tether the space shuttle to the launch pad in hurricanes or at least keep cowboys on their bulls for 8.1 seconds.  Unfortunately, I can barely figure out to untie one in fewer than ten minutes.  So, I remain penniless with needless frustration slowly taking months off my lifespan.

I used to think the iKnot was caused by carelessly tossing my iPod back into my backpack willy-nilly.  I now believe it’s caused by my cats.  I think they pull my iPod out while I’m sleeping, bat it around the house for a few hours and when the first sliver of dawn slices through the blinds, one of them quickly tucks it back into my pack and diabolically meows, “Good morning Joe.”  You always wondered why cats like to sneak up next to your head when you’re sleeping.  It’s because they are making sure you are completely unconscious before they evoke chaos in your house, like taking one of your socks out of the dryer and hiding it.  It’s either that or iPod headphone cords are an undiscovered alien life form that cunningly consumes the Earth’s inhabitants with needless busy work while they secretly take over the world.  As much as that is plausible (Myth Busters), I’m sticking with the cats.

So, over the weekend, I set out devising a way to avoid the iKnot.  Here’s how to keep your iPod from developing tangles and becoming an iKnot:

First, when you put them away, coil the cord loosely around your hand, making sure the ear buds and iPod don’t get caught in the cord. 

Then tuck them in your bag or wherever you keep them.  To be safe, put them inside something that requires thumbs.  Unlike doors, like on your dryer, cats cannot operate zippers.

Now, when it’s time to use your iPod for a bike ride or a run, pull them out in one big bunch and set them on a flat surface.  Here’s the secret.  Grab the iPod either by the ear buds or by the iPod itself and lift straight up.  Wah-lah!  iPod headphone cords miraculously untangle themselves.  I tried this at least 4-5 times, and it worked every time. 

If this doesn’t work, and you don’t have cats…you might want to keep an eye out for spacecraft decorated with the Apple logo.

Kill some more time: take the iKnot poll on the right.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Minus 6

I planned on writing a post today about my daily wrestling match with my baby iPod headphone cord that seems to come alive at night and slithers and twists itself into confusing knots which take me 5 minutes to untangle everytime I want to use them spinning/riding.  But, that'll have to wait til next week.  Till then, take the poll on the right.

On the way to work this morning, my dashboard thermometer set a record.  No, I wasn't riding my Specialized super-cruizer.  I had an early meeting which I couldn't be remotely stinky for.  Besides it's artic and would take an hour to get dressed and undressed for the 25 minute bike ride.  I draw the line when the act of dressing for the ride takes longer than the actual ride.

Granted, I've lived in Wisconsin and Illinois and been in more booger & tear freezing weather, but I bought the truck in '06 in Madison, IN.  Super Romper's never seen real cold.  As I drove in near the landmark of Saint Rose Church, I watched the guage drop from the 37 degree temp in my garage and wondered if it'd go past below zero.  It did.  Minus six.  The vista of the sunlit steam rising off the Ohio River from behind the church was breath taking.  Even if you're not on a bike, sometimes you just have to enjoy the scenery.  Minus six can be beautiful.  For the record, I didn't see a soul on two wheels.  The entire length of the river from Lunken Airport to Downtown Cincinnati looked like this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Steven G Prepare For Doom

Dear Two Johns Podcast,

It’s Joe, the author of The Best Bike Blog Ever* and the proud owner of a new set of
Two John’s Podcast socks. 

I’d like to throw one of my readers into the snarling pit of Two Johns Podcast Fans. Yesterday I wrote an entry titled “Versus Gets Down With Down Under” about how I was excited to see that The Tour Down Under has been picked up by Versus, which will kick off the 2009 TV cycling season here in the states. 

Here is the first comment I received:

StevenG said...
Somebody needs to tell Versus to put some real bike racing on! Perhaps Cross Worlds and then maybe I'll watch. I did see the Tour of Flanders last year that was pretty cool(if I was a road racer that would be my race), and I enjoy the mountain stages, but other than that
road racing = boring.

It’s like he called my children ugly. I want to berate him and cleverly set him straight, but I can’t even muster a coherent thought. Since I am incapacitated, I’m hoping that someone else can set this fellow straight. Please help. 

I invite you to use this as fodder for
your podcast/blog and/or invite your readers to post comments to my blog. 

See ya on the roads,

The Best Bike Blog Ever*

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Versus Gets Down With Down Under

While watching the Dakar Rally highlights on my DVR (what can I say...I love wheels on dirt), a tease rolled at the bottom of the screen. The Tour Down Under and a year’s worth of bike racing goodness is on Versus starting this weekend (complete Cyclysm schedule as of 1/14/09 below.) With the deep freeze on its way, bikes on TV couldn’t have come sooner for us in the upper Midwest.

For the first time in a while, I went on the
Versus website and cycling is more prominent than ever. A few months ago you had to dig deep into the pain cave to find the schedules and pages, now Cycling is listed at the top of the page right along with Indy, NHL and WEC. You can even sign up for email and text reminders so you don’t forget to set your DVR. While you’re there enter a poll to tell Versus why you plan on watching the Tour Down Under.

A: Because You Love Australia
B: Because Lance is Back
C. Because it’s on Versus

I chose C. While I am interested in seeing how Lance plays into the mix, I think most of us are truly fans of the sport and Versus needs to know that we’ll want to watch bike racing long after Lance has clipped out for the last time.

(Times Subject To Change)
Jan 18, 20-23 @ 4PM ET, Jan 24 @ 3:30PM ET andJan 25 @ 5PM ET

The Tour Down Under is the first stop in World Cycling after being granted UCI ProTour status - the first race outside of Europe to be given this ranking. Elite international athletes race around South Australia over a week in January in a bid to win the right to wear the Ochre Leaders Jersey.

Feb 14 @ 5PM ET, Feb 15 @ 6PM ETFeb 16 LIVE @ 12:30PM ET, Feb 17 LIVE @ 5PM ETFeb 18-20 LIVE @ 4PM ET and Feb 21-22 @ 5PM ET
The AMGEN Tour of California will bring the drama and excitement of a professional bicycle stage race to the California coast. The world's top professional teams will compete over an eight-day, 650-mile race on a route that includes the California redwoods, wine country and the Pacific Coast.

Mar 8 and Mar 15 @ 5PM ET
Also known as "The Race to the Sun", the Paris Nice is the first big stage competition of the season. This eight-stage cycling race kicks off the UCI Pro Tour, and covers over 1000km of road from Paris to the finish on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

Mar 29 @ 5PM ET
Created in 1932, le Critérium International in France will welcome the cycling elite from around the world for a traditional three part race, a flat stage, a mountain stage and an individual time trial, taking place over two days.

Apr 5 @ 5PM ET
The Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) is the biggest race in Belgium and a true cycling classic that highlights the spectacular and often dramatic nature of professional cycling. The twisting route through the lanes of the Flemish countryside, the steep cobbled climbs that often decide the winner, and the millions of spectators along the route, makes every edition of the Tour of Flanders a race to remember.

Apr 12 @ 4PM ET
Created in 1896, Paris-Roubaix is a reference event, marked by its rigorous criteria and its personality. It tests both man and machine to the bounds of resistance, over a course which is tailored to legendary exploits. Known as the "Hell of The North" this is the most rugged of the spring classics as the race makes its way over the muddy cobbled roads in France.

Apr 26 @ 3PM ET
Created in 1892, Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the oldest of cycling races. It is one of the most prestigious and exacting events of the season. It not only covers the hilliest part of Belgium, but the end of this race includes a succession of high-gradient climbs.

Apr 26 @ 3:30PM ET
La Fleche Wallonne is the first of the Ardennes classics, and is often quite a good predictor for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, although it is rare that the two races are won by the same rider. The two races are less cobbled and hillier than the previous three rounds of the World Cup.

May 3 @ 4PM ET
The Tour de Romandie is a short stage that tests rider's all round ability. The six-day race always includes two flat stages for the sprinters, a time trial, rolling stages in the hills and a tough mountain finish in the breathtaking Alps. It is the final race leading to the Giro d'Italia and is an early indication of who will be where for the Tour de France.

Jun 7, 9, 14 and 15 @ 5PM ET
The Dauphine Libere, a week-long race comes at a strategic moment in the season as the leading stage race riders begin to fine tune their fitness and always indicates who will be a contender in the summer stage races. The route of the Dauphiné Libéré always includes some of the legendary Alpine climbs, as well mountain stages, time trials and flat stages to create a thrilling race.

Jun 14 and 15 @ 6PM ET and Jun 21 @ 5PM ET
The Tour de Suisse is one of the biggest and most prestigious stage races in the UCI ProTour and will be held for the 71st time this year. The nine days of racing are held across the whole of Switzerland, with this year's race starting in Olten in the north of the country with a 3.8 km prologue and finishes in Bern with a 34.2 km time trial for a total of 1225 km of racing.

July 4-26
The Tour de France is the most prestigious bicycle race in the world. First held in 1903, the race takes a three-week route through France. Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres. The Tour de France is considered the most difficult race on the calendar due to the extreme terrain and the top level of competition. The winner of the race is generally regarded as the top cyclist that year regardless of other race results.

Oct 11 @ 5PM ET
The third biggest cycling event in the world is The Vuelta A Espana, or the Tour of Spain. This year's edition covers 21 stages including three time trials and seven mountain stages. It is often the most difficult race on many riders' calendars, and the battle for the overall win usually comes down to the last few days. This year's field is very strong. Favorites who will battle for the Golden Fleece include Spaniards Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde, American Tom Danielson of Team Discovery, Russian Denis Menchov and Alexander Vinokourov of the newly formed Team Astana.

Oct 11 @ 6PM ET
Paris-Tours is the last presitgous race on the cycling calendar, covers over 250 k in one day. Sprinters thrive here with a three kilometer finish straight on the Avenue Du Grammont.

Nov 8 @ 6PM ET
The Tour du Faso was created in 1987, and in less than 20 years, it has become the greatest professional race in Africa, reflecting the vitality of its creators. There are 11race stages, one rest day, 1305.5 km and six riders per team.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gaisma: Light Out Longer

Cincinnatians are lucky. Along with Columbus, Lexington, Knoxville and other cities in a nice little row near southbound I-75, we live on the more western side of the Eastern Time Zone. Its light out longer here, at least longer than Chicago or Milwaukee who are on the eastern side of the Central Time Zone. I’ll pause now so you stop the aneurysm from exploding in your brain. (Jeopardy Music Interlude)

Being a creative minded person, from the homo sapien dufus mathematicalus branch of the evolutionary tree, I nearly exhausted the treadmill running hamster in my skull thinking thoughts like “if it’s 5:30 and the sun is setting here means it’s 4:30 and soon to be dark there.” Where’s my bottle of Advil.

According to
GAISMA website, which posts sunset/sunrise times for anywhere in the world, you can see that in just two weeks it’ll be light out in Cincinnati till 5:53pm. Nanny nanny boo boo Windy City. Clear your desk at P&G by 5:30pm and you might be able to commute home from work while it’s light out. In a month, it’ll be light out till 6:13pm and we just might be able to eek in an hour ride after work. In two weeks, it’ll still be dark at 5:30 in Milwaukee and Chicago. See for yourself. Cincinnati has the gaisma.

For those who don’t speak Latvian, "Gaisma" is a Latvian word, meaning "light". And, now you know the rest of the story.

Monday, January 12, 2009

American Idle Workout

You got a suspected doper, a loudmouth who calls out all your faults, a skinny guy who tries to hold the group together and a guy who’s uses worn out phrases in every vocalization….pothole dawg.  It’s a typical breakaway group.  Tuesday night I’m riding with Paula, Randy, Simon and Ryan.  It’s the American Idol 2009 premiere and your chance to be more active than the billion or so real American idles who’ll watch the show growing a root in the sofa under a trough full of raspberry chocolate chip delight.  Below is a spinning trainer workout I’ve painstakingly created in 14.2 seconds that you can do on a bicycle trainer, a treadmill, elliptical or any other fitness apparatus you can stick in front of the TV.  It’s a two hour show, so mix it up if the thought of two hours on a bike trainer makes you urk up a puke.  Do an hour and fifteen minutes on the bike and a 45 minute run.  Print it off, take it to the gym, give it to your spinning instructor or bring it to your home torture chamber Tuesday night.  I tried to make it winter/spring friendly, meaning its more strength and endurance based.


No doubt the first 5-10 minutes of the American Idol Season 8 Premiere before the first commercial break will relive past Idol shows, total train wreck performances and setting up where they are filming now blah-blah-blah.  Start spinning or walking and ramp yourself into a nice endurance type effort.  Take this pace into the first commercial break.


During commercials drop the tempo down to recovery mode, but get ready.  When the Fox promos come on (commercials that tease upcoming FOX shows and the local nightly newscast) up the tempo to 80 percent.  Chances are you’ll get nice little 3 minute recovery followed by a 20-60 second hard effort tempo intervals in every break, kind of like coming to the front of the paceline.  Be aware and pay attention, sometimes they’ll run commercials, a promo, another commercial and more promos. 


When the show comes back on, endure the show in endurance mode, a 75% effort, with the below exceptions.   


During the show, whenever Randy says “dawg,” Paula says something stupid that sounds Vicadin induced, or Simon slams someone; you’re down for a 30 second hard tempo effort.  Just like during the commercial break promos, think of a turn at the front of the paceline or running over a little riser on your neighborhood run.  These are most likely to occur during judging.  If that’s the case, they could add up, so start your hard effort after the last judge is done speaking.  You could be down for up to a one and a half minute effort.  For example, when the singer really does actually sing well and Randy says, “yo dawg that was so money and you don’t even know it,” you’re in for 30 seconds.  Then Paula might say sniffling “you make me weep…you…are what this competition is all about.”  Now you’re in for a full minute, as long as Simon agrees.


No doubt some time during Idol they’ll play cuts of some numb nut with something barely identifiable as a song spewing from their word hole.  When they play, you pay.  For the duration of the dufus, you’re up and out of the saddle in a big hill climbing gear or, if you’re on a treadmill, change the angle to “death march” mode.  Be aware that a Token Dufus might be followed by a quip from one of the judges.  If that’s the case, you might be cranking up the effort during the last part of that death march.


Probably with about 10 minutes left in the show, they’ll take a look back, replay the highlights, and tease the next episode.  You’re day is done at the 1:50 mark, cool down.