The Saxodus continues

The Saxodus continues as more and more people confirm that they are leaving Saxo Bank for other teams.  Here’s a quick rundown of current migrations:

  • Frank Schleck – “I’ll go where Andy goes!”
  • Andy Schleck – “I’ll go where Frank goes!”
  • Frank-n-Andy Schleck – New Luxembourg team.  Sponsor still TBD.
  • Jens Voigt – Confirmed to be leaving Saxo Bank.  Most indications are that he is going to join the Frank-n-Andy endeavor, but that has not been confirmed at the time of this writing.
  • Jakob Fuglsang – Moving with Frank-n-Andy
  • Steuart O’Grady- Moving with Frank-n-Andy
  • Matti Breschel – Transfering his accounts from one bank to another, Matti is moving from Saxo Bank to Rabobank.

That makes six out of the nine Saxo Bank riders in the 2010 Tour de France that are heading for other teams – 5 of them apparently to the same new team.  Fabian Cencellara still has one year remaining on his contract with Saxo Bank, and of course Alberto Contador has signed on to the newly names Saxo Bank-Sungard team for two years.

Diabetics get an advantage in the pro peloton … maybe

Cyclicious (www.cyclelicio.us) has a knack for finding cycling stories outside of the mainstream.  Well, that and being Johnny-on-the-spot for photos of celebs on bikes.  So it is no surprise that he would find a story about the US Military (DARPA) working to fund research into drugs to dilate blood vessels.

The body produces nitric oxide and releases it into the bloodstream to dilate the blood vessels when increased blood flow is needed. Dr. Stamler plans to research ways to deliver nitric oxide to the blood through inhalers.

The Case Western Reserve School of Medicine notes potential non-military applications to enhance blood delivery such as with “heart failure, ischemic heart disease, stroke, sickle cell disease and diabetes,” though I can think of a certain other class of users *cough*enduranceathletes* who might see a use for an inhaler that can increase blood flow and improve their athletic performance.

http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/military-funds-blood-doping-research/

This could, however, create something of a moral delimea for me.  It may put into contention my desire to remain healthy as a diabetic (something I deal with now) with my desire to race competitively (something I hope to deal with shortly.)  It may present a real situation where medications that may help diabetics could also be banned for use by athletes due to performance enhancing characteristics.

Tip: Keep your bike parts attached!

It was a normal commute home. I’d gotten off the train, was making my way home, warm night, light traffic. There were an unusually large number of folks riding their bikes too. It was sometime around 9:00 or so.

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That’s when I found myself at the intersection of W and 11th, heading towards Riverside Blvd.  I go through this intersection a lot, so I know the timing of the lights on this particular stretch of road.  If I hit the pedal really hard and sprint all the way to Broadway, I can just make it through the light at Broadway and Riverside Blvd.  I’m feeling kinda spry tonight – so I’m gonna shoot for it.  I’ve got a perfect track stand going – no need to be delayed by clipping into the pedals.  I’m totally gonna make this light.

As soon as the light turns green, I’m hard on the pedals.  One revolution – I’m in a fairly high gear, so sorta slow launch.  Push harder.  Two revolutions…  Three revolutions…  Bike is leaning hard to the left.  Wait… What?  I’m on the ground! I’m on the ground!  How the hell did that happen?

I’m in the middle of the intersection, laying on my elbow. A car slowly moves around me through the intersection, so my immediate thought is to get out of the road. I start to stand up and realize that I’ve still got the “sprint grip” (not to be confused with the “death grip”) on my bars. And that is when it hits me. I’m standing up with the bars in my hands, but the bike is still laying on the ground. The freaking bars are no longer attached to the stem.

At intersection, immediately after incident

Apparently I apply a fair amount of force to the bars when I attempt to sprint. I’d snapped the quill stem completely apart right at the weld point. Seriously something of a predicament. I had about 5 miles or so to go to get home. Walkable maybe, but not an easy walk. Especially difficult with a broken bike. Clearly I’ve got to call the SAG wagon for help. Or, as the rest of you may know her, my wife. Only problem is – no answer. Ummm… what do I do now?

D’uh! You take pictures and post them to twitter!

Well crap. Now how do I get home??? http://twitpic.com/2bpr49

Ok – then I try and call SAG… er, I mean my wife… again.

I get an answer this time, and she is already getting ready to come and get me when she asks, almost as an afterthought, “What happened?  Are you OK?”

“I kinda ripped my handle bars right off my bike.”  I reply, trying to make the situation sound all the more dramatic.

“Oh.”  That’s pretty much the full response.

Well, a few minutes later the car, complete with all three kids, arrives at the gas station just past the intersection where “the incident” took place.  The kids seem pretty excited about the fact that my handlebars are all the way down by the hub of the front wheel – hanging by the cables and swinging around aimlessly like a broken limb.  I manage to get the bike on the roof of the car and, after making a couple of half-hearted attempts to somehow contain the swinging handlebars, decide that we’re not going that far or fast so it’ll be just fine.

It's just a scratch...

We get home and Melissa helps dress my elbow.  There was a small patch of abraded skin that was bleeding all over the place but not especially painful.  The fact that the whole thing happened after just a couple of pedal strokes was nothing short of amazing luck.  Things could have been a whole lot uglier if I’d crashed after I’d gotten up to speed.  Road rash is not something to look forward to.  However, the bar had been set pretty high in the “crashes won’t stop me” category, so I scrubbed out my elbow abrasion extra hard – just because.

On the ride home in the SAG wagon the Prius, I actually realized that just a couple of days earlier I’d heard a creak coming from the bars when I took off from a light.  At the time I didn’t give it much thought as it is not entirely uncommon for the bars or stem to creak as bolts slowly loosen up over time.  In retrospect, though, it was likely a harbinger of the eventual failure.  If only I’d recognized it as such.

One somewhat coincidental part of the whole thing is that I’d already been planning to get rid of that stem for different reasons.  Might have to expedite that project now.

Oh man have I got a commute for you!

I’ve yammered on a bunch about my 125+ mile, 3 day a week Sacramento to Palo Alto commute.  In a couple of Follow Ross to Work Day posts, I’ve detailed my use of my bike, trains and busses to make the commute – keeping me out of the car and out of I80 / I680 traffic.

But now I’m going to mix it up a bit.  August 22 I’ll be doing my Sacramento to Palo Alto commute entirely by bike! Some of the more observant among you will notice that Aug 22 is actually a Sunday.  Well, I’m not quite ready to do a 134 mile bike ride prior to a full work day, so I’ll stay Sunday night in Palo Alto or somewhere near there.

This will also be a rather big test of the bike functionality of Google Maps, which has laid out a supposedly safe bike route for me.  Of course you can expect tweets and posts here about the conditions, cursing the delta breeze, and probably some video from the Benicia-Martinez bridge.

Stay tuned!

Indications of Voigt joining Schlecks on new team

The Danish website TV2 Sporten is reporting (English translation here) that there are indications Jens Voigt will possibly be leaving the current Team Saxo Bank to join Frank and Andy Schleck on their new Luxembourg team.  Reports are that Kim Anderson – former directeur sportif of Team Saxo Bank now working to help set up the new Luxembourg team – has contacted Jen Voigt about a possible spot.

VeloNews as confirmed the rumors that Alberto Contador will leave Astana to ride with Team Saxo Bank next season.  These moves are potentially setting up a repeat of this years Tour de France next year, with Andy Schleck again facing off against Alberto Contador.  In fact, Andy Schleck as already stated as much on the website andyschleck.com:

Next year I can turn the tables and win the Tour. I did a bad prologue this year and I have to admit that, but Fränk crashing out was a big loss. If there were two of us in the mountains it could have been so different. But now I know that I can beat Alberto and that gives me huge confidence and motivation for next year.

It is official: Schlecks will be on new team next year

VeloNews.com is reporting that Andy Schleck has officially confirmed that he and his brother Frank will be leaving the team currently known as Saxo Bank at the end of this season.

So, after first reporting that the brothers were leaving, and then reporting that wasn’t certain during the Tour de France, we’ve finally got more concrete, specific information.  Next year we will see a new pro cycling team out of Luxembourg, with Frank and Andy Schleck riding for their home country’s team.

Time for a new cycle computer

Well, it looks like my Polar CS100 cycling computer will need to be replaced soon.  I’ve been using it for 2 years now (or is that 3?) on 3 different bikes.  I’ve used it to monitor my speed, cadence and heart rate.  While it has been a good unit for the most part, there are a couple of issues that have cropped up.

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The world famous Ione crash

Here it is folks – the now world famous (really!) crash out to Ione, CA.  Caught in brilliant detail thanks to the careful placement of a GoPro HD Helmet Hero camera right on the handlebars.

Yup – even your cycling jersey can be “indie”

I grew up in the beautiful Seattle area in the “hey day” of the whole grunge/alternative rock thingy.  There was always an underlying theme in that area:  The mainstream sucked, therefore you could only be cool by liking things that not many other people liked.  That’s right – you as soon as more than a couple people had heard of it, you couldn’t like it any more.

Somewhere along the line this idea got officially labeled “indie” (originally short for independent, if anyone cares).  Indie was everywhere.  Indie films.  Indie bands.  Indie bars featuring indie bands.

So imagine my excitement at being able to relive my youthful sentimentality with my grown-up hobby of cycling.  I found Indie Bike – a source for indie cycling apparel.  And just look at the list of major manufactures they’re selling.  I can get all my stuff right here.

Now wait just a latte-sipping minute.  List of major manufactures?? Um, isn’t the whole idea of “indie” that it isn’t among the major manufactures??

Now, I don’t want to badmouth any companies (especially ones that could potentially try to get a hold of me for an advertising / sponsorship deal.  Just saying…) but the name does throw off the freds of the world that might assume a catalog full of tweed and wool.

Tell a cyclist to “Break an Elbow”

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the tradition in theater of wishing well to actors before a performance by stating “Break a leg.”  Well, now cyclists can have their own silly superstition.  Next time someone is heading out for a ride, yell at them “Break an elbow!”

We can thank Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles for setting us up for this.  He recently found himself involved in a right-hook incident with a taxi cab while he was riding his bike on Venice Blvd, which ultimately resulted in a broken elbow for the mayor.

As a result of this incident, the mayor has declared his desire to put together a bike summit.  According to an LA Weekly post:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently reached out to the bicycle community via YouTube and announced — more than a week after he broke an elbow in a bike accident on Venice Boulevard — that he would help organize a summit about the future of pedal power in L.A..’We’re going to work with the bicycle safety community to put together a bike summit,” he said.

It is unfortunate that someone in a position of power has to be injured to drive the point home about the need for more understanding and protection of cyclists.  However, it is totally understandable why, as a human, the mayor would be more sensitive to cycling issues after an incident such as this.  “Have a good ride mayor!  Break an elbow!”

The time seems ripe in LA for a change in culture.  The LAPD was already making strides to improve bicycle safety.  From the LA Times blog post:

Police Chief Charlie Beck has made overtures to bicyclists, promising to make their safety a bigger priority and sending some of his officers to ride in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride in June. The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

The LAPD involvement in the critical mass ride, while reported as wildly successful by both sides, unfortunately also only arose in response to an unfortunate circumstance.  A previous ride in LA staged to protest the BP oil spill was met with what was perceived by many as unwarranted aggressive behavior towards cyclists.

I fully applaud the actions of both the mayor and LAPD, acknowledge that all folks make mistakes, and give kudos to LAPD for recognizing a poorly handled situation and taking actions to correct the damage. However, I can’t help but find it frustrating that so many times it requires a tragedy in the cycling community to bring about any real, positive change.

Be safe, keep your helmet above your saddle above your pedals, and by all means “Break an Elbow!”