Rumors of Shclecks, Radio Shack and fallback plans

Rumors abound.  I know it.  You know it.  And when the Tour de France ends, all cycling fans suddenly know it.  Yea – even here at JustAnotherCyclist it is easy to fall prey to a rumor (or two.)

But on the other hand – who can pass on a good rumor.

And what better way to feed a rumor than with a plausible failure scenario.  That is exactly what Frank and Andy Schleck are facing with their new Luxembourg team.  There are no guarantees that a new team will receive a UCI pro license and actually be able to race in major event.  Hell, even if you do get a pro license these days there are no gaurantees that you’ll be able to race – as Bruyneel learned when Team Radio Shack was denied entry into the forthcoming Veulta a Espana.

So the possibility that the new Schleck team won’t get a pro license is very real.  So what will the second place finisher in this year’s Tour de France do if that happens?  Apparently he and his brother will invoke their fall-back contracts and ride for Team Radio Shack, potentially filling the shoes of the now retired (again) Lance Armstrong.

Well, that’s the rumor at least.

Local Cycling Group: Cycle Folsom

For the second in my ongoing series of profiles of Sacramento area cycling groups and clubs, I’ll take a look at Cycle Folsom.  Before we get started, however, I want to point out that I ride with Cycle Folsom regularly myself, and in fact help lead some of the rides.  So clearly I’ve got a little bit of direct personal knowledge regarding this group!

I took the opportunity to do an email interview with Stan Schultz – who describes himself as Cycle Folsom’s “Chief Evangelist” on the groups Meetup site.  Here is what Stan had to say in response to my questions:

JustAnotherCyclist (JAC): What is the focus of Cycle Folsom?

Stan: Short Answer: Cycle Folsom exists to provide an environment where cyclists can improve their cycling skills, strength and endurance through intelligent training and nutrition.

Long Answer: Our slogan “Great Cycling Starts Here” serves as the guiding principal of Cycle Folsom’s efforts in three distinct, but complementary ways:

1. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the City of Folsom: Downtown Folsom provides direct access to the American River Trail and the more than 100 miles of interconnected paved bike trails stretched throughout the town, and all the way to Discovery Park in Sacramento. Newer riders will find both solace and a moderate challenge along the trail that surrounds Lake Natoma and continues to Discovery Park. Seasoned cyclists seeking hills can string together short, but very challenging hill rides within Folsom, or venture through adjoining towns for additional spectacular scenery and rural roads. Folsom has held the distinction of being a “Bike-Friendly City” for years, and continues to invest in bike paths and commuting conveniences.

2. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the Cycle Folsom Group: Cycle Folsom is structured with three distinct riding levels.  As such, there is typically a group for any cyclist to join and to progress to as they improve their ability. Ride Leaders and Members are usually welcoming and full of encouragement, but their also pretty serious about improving their own fitness as they work to inspire themselves and others on rides.

3. Great Cycling Starts Here—within yourself: Just about anyone who makes a commitment to ride on a regular basis with Cycle Folsom—in addition to doing some regular training on their own—can become a better cyclist. As part of the Group, individuals benefit from the encouragement, inspiration, and challenges that others in the group share. Conversely, individuals benefit when they help others by giving encouragement, inspiration, and sharing the tips they’ve learned while on the trail. All of it helps with motivation and camaraderie—which helps to make it feel more like fun than a workout.

JAC: How many people are involved with Cycle Folsom?

Stan: Cycling Folsom currently has 11 active Ride Leaders, as well as 4 or 5 highly experienced and trained emeritus leaders who join rides on occasion and provide guidance and training to active ride leaders.

This year alone, Cycle Folsom’s E-Mail List has grown from about 60 members to over 230, with about 8 to 15 being added each week (and the growth seems to be accelerating). We’ve recently started using http://www.Meetup.com/cyclefolsom to manage our ride/event calendar, messaging, ratings, and social aspects of the group. In just over a week of going live publicly, our Meetup site Membership has grown to more than 50 Members. Based on the membership numbers of other groups in the area, I anticipate that our Meetup Membership will grow to more than 500 by this time next year.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have a place for riders of all levels?

Stan: First, I should clarify that Cycle Folsom is dedicated to Road Bikes for now, and for the foreseeable future. We have detailed descriptions of our various groups on our Web site [link mine], but I think it’s important to note that Cycle Folsom’s “official” minimum requirement would be cyclists who are reasonably fit and comfortable on their road bikes, but who may not have ever ridden with a Group.

Our Grupetto Group (for intro or re-entry riders) is dedicated to cyclists who are new to Group rides. These cyclists are typically interested in increasing their mileage and, ultimately, buidling a base that will help them tackle hills with greater ease. The Grupetto Group has a 12-week cycle of weekly rides that starts at around 25 miles and progresses to a distance of 60 miles. This is followed by an initiation to hill training. The Grupetto Group officially rides until Fall, but many Grupetto riders would then be prepared to join the slower-paced Fall and Winter training rides of the Peloton Group.

Our Peloton Group (advanced-beginner or intermediate) is geared toward cyclists who already have a reasonable level of experience riding in groups, and who are confident in their ability to ride on rural roads—sometimes with tight shoulders and traffic. The Peloton Group starts their season with base training in the Fall and Winter months, which typically includes long, steady distance rides, followed by hill training during the Spring months, followed by more training and various goal events and rides throughout the summer.

Our Performance Group (advanced-intermediate or advanced) is filled with cyclist who are usually very fit and committed to cycling as their primary form of exercise. Performance Group cyclists relish just about any flat or hill challenge they can find. Some Group members are part of racing teams and use Cycle Folsom to augment their training efforts. The Performance Group also trains year-round.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have regularly scheduled rides?

Stan: Ride Leaders from all three groups collectively post 3 to 4 weekend rides, and 3 regular weekday rides. The rides, complete with details, descriptions and links to route maps, are posted at Meetup.com.

JAC: What major events have Cycle Folsom riders ridden in this past year?

Stan: Cycle Folsom Members proudly participated in a variety of events this year, and many individuals achieved major cycling milestones such as the distinguished California Triple Crown. Members joined together as teams to ride in several charity events, including the Tour de Cure, the Livestrong Challenge, Ride for a Reason, and more. Other events included the Death Ride, Davis Double Century, and the Auburn Century. Many members in the group plan to cap off the season with Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa.

JAC: So Cycle Folsom continues its riding activities during the winter months / off season?

Stan: Yes. Members of the Peloton Group continue training in Fall and Winter, doing mostly long, steady distance rides of 50 to 75 miles. The Groups often ride in rain and or reasonably high wind, but weather does sometime cancel or postpone rides. As a result of winter training, many of our members come into the Spring stronger than ever, having built a cumulative base on top of their previous year’s training and experience.

JAC: Does Cycle Folsom charge a Membership fee?

Stan: To this point, Cycle Folsom has been free and is completely volunteer-driven. Because we are expanding our outreach and services to members, I expect that we will soon create a mechanism that will allow CF to accept donations and sponsorships. While my goal for Cycle Folsom is to keep it free, we may ultimately begin charging a small Membership fee, or perhaps charge a Membership fee for access to certain premium information or services.

Coffee, Ride, Coffee, Ride, Beer, Repeat

There is an undeniable connection between cycling, drinking coffee, and drinking beer.  But why?

Cycling Inquisition delves into this subject in some detail.  But I’ve got a slightly different take on it.

There was an article sometime ago in Bicycling magazine that first alerted me to this idea, and I’ve seen references a couple of times since then.  Basically, the idea is that endurance sports – like cycling and marathon running – release certain chemicals in the brain.  This will come as no surprise to many, as frequently cyclists will cite occasions of becoming grumpy, lethargic or downright hostile if they are not able to get out and ride regularly.  Sound like the same things that happen to regular beef aficionados when they don’t get a night at the pub?  Not a coincidence, says some research.  Some of the same chemicals released by endurance athletics are also released into the brain by alcohol consumption.  Of course, the cyclists and runners get it without fear of hangovers and DUIs!

So maybe there is good science behind the beer drinking connection.  But what about coffee?  My answer – logistics.

First off, caffeine has some very obvious and noticeable effects on athletic performance.  Enough so that it was once banned and tested for as an illegal substance when used during athletic competitions.  In fact, WADA, or the World Anti-Doping Agency, are considering adding it back onto the banned substances list.  And who doesn’t want a little extra kick that is both social acceptable and doesn’t involve a blood bag?

That doesn’t feel like the whole story, though.  I believe the crux of the caffeine connection comes from the dynamics of group rides.  Groups need places to meet and the two most common meeting places for random groups of folks: pubs and cafes.  While drunken and hung over cyclists may explain Mr. Attack-at-weird-places-and-blow-up, or Mrs. Don’t-talk-to-me-when-I’m-pedaling that sometimes show up for the group rides, alcohol consumption is generally frowned upon by the serious group ride leaders.  That leaves coffee shops as the next most reasonable alternative as meeting places for group rides.

Get enough cyclists with their lycra kits showing up at your cafe repeatedly, and eventually sponsorship deals will be discusses.  And – given that cyclists are often compelled to talk about the amazing products and services of their sponsors, it stands to reason that sipping the java would become an integral part of cycling as a whole.

Stories of great cycling in unexpected places

http://www.guardian.co.uk

The story is – at least to my mind – unexpected.  It is unexpected in what the story tells, and it is an unexpected website where I first found the story.

I’m referring to the article “Cycling lessons from Mexico City” by Tom Wainwright, and I found the article not on the Guardian where it originated, but rather copied to a publication called Online Stock TradingWho’d have guessed?

But what makes the content of the story unexpected as well?  Perhaps it is my Americanized perspective, but to me Mexico City as always been a crowded, polluted city full of crazy drivers darting around honking horns like mad.  Admittedly I’ve never been to Mexico City, cut clearly the worlds most populous metropolis must be a terrible place to ride a bike.

Not so according to Tom Wainwright.  In fact, he claims that London should learn from Mexico City:

Well, Mexico City is nearly twice as big and faces social problems graver than anything Tower Hamlets has seen in a few decades. But its inhabitants are much, much more easygoing. Last week I saw a cyclist almost taken out by a thoughtlessly opened car door – he and the driver ended up having a joke about it. Would that happen in London or Leeds?

Like I said before, who’d have guessed?

The article really is an interesting read, and provides a perspective on what can be accomplished.  Check it out.

Random Tips for the Cyclist

This collection of tips came as a result of a tweet that I sent recommending using cycling equipment in a non-cycling way.  A couple of folks asked me to throw together a list of tips.

While there are 101 different tips lists for cycling – training tips, racing tips, whole lists of tire changing tips – I decided on a slightly different focus.  All of the tips on this list are cycling related but not specific to any particular cycling endeavor.  That is why I’ve called them “Random Tips for the Cyclist” instead of, say “Cycling Tips” or “Racing Tips.”

See and be seen

If you ever find yourself caught without a flashlight but needing one – say, when camping, or in your house during a power outage – the headlight of your bike will make a damn fine flashlight in a pinch.  Just unclip if from your bars and carry it around with you illuminating what you need, when you need.

Paper, or plastic?

Need to pick up a couple of items at the grocery store on your way home, but don’t have a backpack or panniers to carry them in?  No worries.  First, choose a plastic bag instead of paper (although some areas are starting to outlaw these!)  After your bag is full, ask them for two extra plastic bags.  These extra plastic bags can be tied together and form a strap that you can then tie directly to the handles of the bag with your groceries.  Tie them nice and tight, and you’ve basically crafted a temporary messenger bag for yourself that you can throw over your head and allow your groceries to hang on your back.

Is it hot in here?

Unless you are someone that likes to do the wrenching on your own bike, it is better to store your bike outside, but protected from the elements – than inside.  A shed, garage, or even locked to a fire escape – somewhere protected from the rain and moisture – are all great options. When you store your bike indoors, you are storing it at indoor temperatures.  Then, when you take it outside you are moving it to an environment that could potentially be significantly colder in the winter, or hotter in the summer.  While not particularly harmful to the materials used to make your bike, it can cause the different parts to expand or contract at different rates – as all things do when they heat and cool.  This will ultimately result in your fasteners (nuts and bolts) loosening up faster than normal.  If you like to take your bike in to the shop for a tuneup once or twice a year and that’s it, you can find your self with critical equipment failures if your bike goes through frequent hot/cold transitions.

Machine Wash Separately

Don’t wash your cycling gloves – or anything else with velcro – along with your jerseys, shorts and bibs.  Those little hooks are terrible when rubbed up against the sometimes delicate lycra, resulting in snags, pulls and wear.  Throw the gloves in with a load of denim jeans where they can do no harm.  While you’re at it – turn your jerseys and shorts inside out when you wash them.  Let’s face it – it is the inside that really needs to be clean to prevent bacteria and other saddle-sore-inducing badness.

Too much junk in the trunk

Bike panniers can often have very tight clearance with your heel as you are pedaling – especially if they’ve been fitted to a non-touring specific frame.  If you have a rear rack with two bars – one above the other – you can sometimes get away with dropping the front hook of the bag down to the lower railing.  This will result in the bag rotating and providing slightly more heel clearance.  If you have the means, you may be able to permanently modify your panniers to accomplish the same goal.

That’s all for now.  I’ll keep adding them to the site as people pass them on to me.  Until then, the final tip:  Keep your helmet above your saddle above the tires.  Cheers!

Local Cycling Group: Team Pain Train Cycling

As the first in a series of profiles of Sacramento area cycling groups and clubs, I’d like to introduce Team Pain Train Cycling.  From their own website:

Team Pain Train is a cycling team from Orangevale/Sacramento, California.  Our team was formed around the motto: “Never Give Up” after our good friend Lenny who was taken by A.L.S. but never let it slow him down shouting “all aboard the pain train” as he pulled away up a monster climb.  We ride in support of A.L.S., good friends, and good beer.

http://teampaintrain.com/

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Is the torch passing to Phinney?

News from the front lines of the Tour of Utah may be a signal of things to come next year:

Currently Leipheimer is riding – not for Team Radio Shack – but for Mellow Johnny’s, while Phinney is riding for Trek-LIVESTRONG.  Phinney’s team is a U23 development team – but Phinney has already ridden with Team Radio Shack in pro races this year.

Shall we look to Phinney to take the leadership position at Team Radio Shack in the years to come?  Only time will tell.  However, while besting Levi in the TT is indeed an impressive accomplishment, the GC landscape in the Tour of Utah shows the larger disparity between the riders.  Leipheimer was sitting in first place at the start of the day of the TT, which Phinney back in 101st place, 34’46” behind.

However, Phinney is sitting in second place in the sprinter’s competition, behind Fly V Australia’s David Tanner.  A strong track background such as Phinney’s is a huge advantage in sprints and TTs – but the mountains are where stage races are won.

While the final results from Stage 3 have not yet been published, Leipheimer would appear to still be comfortably in first place after his second place TT performance.

Its OK Andy – I won’t shop at Mike’s Bikes any more

Hopefully Andy Schleck doesn’t shop at Mike’s Bikes.

I’ve actually shopped at this chain of bike shops quite a few times – the one here in Sacramento is actually quite nice with a great, friendly staff.  So I decided to check out the merchandise that they had on their website trying to show my daughter some of the options available for her Single Speed project.

Unfortunately, my window browsing excursion was shortened when I ran across this monstrosity of an ad on the Mike’s Bikes website:

OK.  So I guess this is supposed to be somehow funny?  I just don’t get the joke myself.  So, what – if Andy had gotten a proper tuneup from Mike’s Bikes then he wouldn’t have dropped his chain and may have won the Tour de France?  Is that the implication?

Sorry, Mr. Mike (if that is your real name) but think what you want about the chain incident in the Tour de France, no one but you is implying that it was due to a faulty tune up.

I’m looking for my daughter’s wheels somewhere else now!

Disclaimer:  This post is only partially tongue-in-cheek, partially humorous, and partially thought out.

2010 Vuelta a Espana Lineup

The first rounds of the riders set to participate in this years Veulta a Espana are being published.  These are not yet the final (read: official) startlists, but…

Since this is still just a preliminary list, JustAnotherCyclist has decided to take a decidedly biased, non-objective stab at illustrating the most noteworthy riders on (and not on) the list.  Here goes:

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Seattle to Portland set for July 9, 2011

Cascade Bicycle Club has set the dates for the 2011 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic at July 9th and 10th.  Registration for the event – which does sell out – will start on January 4th for club members, and sometime in February for non-members.  While not required to ride in the event, club membership can be purchased at various levels starting at $35 per person.

After the amazing time that I had riding the 2010 event, I will definitely plan on being in Seattle for the 2011 start.

Note: Also see the updated date information here.