Hey, I’m new here. Wanted to introduce myself, as I’ll be doing some write ups and reviews on Bike198.com during the coming up race season. In 2009, I was 250lbs, and racing cars with the SCCA. I bought a bike for myself for my birthday as I was always interested in mountain biking. I had a few friends that were “recovering car racers” that raced mountain bikes and I thought I’d give it a try. I picked it up pretty damn fast, fell in love, and created my next obsession.
3 years later, I’m 170lbs, been riding better and better and got into racing. I’ve done a handful of 6 hour races, a couple of 50-60 mile races here in the SE, and was ready to take it to the next level last year. I ended up hurting myself with a muscle imbalance in my quads/legs (write up about that and how I fixed it to come) and took a while off racing to get fit and recovered. Just riding for fun has been awesome, but I’m in the best shape of my life, ready to really kill it in 2013 and be more of a serious wanna be racer. I’ve got 4, 100 mile NUE races planned, along with a number of 6/9 hours.
I’ve done a bunch of research on training methodology, programs, and coaches and settled on a series of 12-week training programs structured around my 2013 racing season. Look forward to articles about cross training, racing preparation, how my training is working (or not), and nutrition. Along with racing, I also do plenty of riding for fun, and am a technical nerd and mechanical guy, so I’ll also be do some writing about my equipment: The race bike (Trek SuperFly 100) and also the fun bike (Trek Remedy 9.9). Have fun out there and enjoy the awesome fall riding weather (at least it is that way here in the SE)!
Martyn Ashton made a big splash in the cycling world of YouTube this week with this insane video showcasing his ability to manhandle a very expensive Pinarello Dogma 2 from the Team Sky team in a series of amazing trials maneuvers. While I have seen my fair share of crazy road bike trials videos, backflips on golf courses has to take the cake with this one. What are they going to come up with next?
I received an email yesterday that is a pretty cool story. It involves two guys who are taking the bike ride of a lifetime in honor of Fremont, California-based HERS Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF) and to bring awareness to breast cancer. One of the great things about cycling in all forms is the ability to bring people together for a cause. Over recent years, bringing awareness to different forms of cancers has been at the forefront of raising awareness and funding in cycling.
This latest pair is doing a really cool ride that will help bring that awareness even farther.
From Andria at Gutenberg PR:
It is my pleasure to tell you about two courageous young men who have decided to bike from Alaska to South America. After experiencing the challenges and triumph of breast cancer with his mother, Neil Walsky is leading this endeavor. After watching his mother struggle to get the essential products that insurance doesn’t cover, such as lymphedema and post-mastectomy garments, Walsky was immediately attracted to HBCF and its mission to help women with or without insurance receive these necessities. HBCF is an organization dedicated to supporting all women who are battling breast cancer or are breast cancer survivors, regardless of their financial or insurance situation.
Walsky, a recent Civil Engineer graduate and ex-pro Switzerland hockey player, will be joined by best friend Jesse Frechione. Between the two, they have racked up less than 1,000 miles on a bike in their lifetimes. However, both believe this challenging adventure only adds more inspiration to their mission and increases their determination and passion to raise money for HBCF.
Walsky and Frechione’s will ride through Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and will complete their journey in Colombia. From new bicycle equipment, camping gear and navigation equipment – these guys have planned for it all, using some of the most advanced gear available.
The two will be departing today, August 23rd, for this extraordinary biking expedition.
Over the past couple of weeks, my back has been feeling great. I am not getting any pain at home and I am able to hit the road and trail when I have time. Life is good on the road back to the bike during my recovery.
However, I find myself in a place in my riding that I have not been in for a long while (almost since I started riding seriously back in the 90′s) – working back up my mileage endurance to handle multi hour rides on weekends.
Last weekend, we headed up to a southeast US favorite – Raccoon Mountain. This 18 mile or so loop is atop a ridge in the Tennessee canyons outside of Chattanooga and they hold some of the best single track the area has to offer. Additionally, there are built in tech sections that are great for sessioning and tuning in your technical riding ability. About 12 miles in, my legs decided they were done and I bonked. It was almost as if you could hear them go BOOM through the woods and it was the first time I have bonked in 12 miles in longer than I can remember.
Working Up To Longer Miles
New riders and riders coming back from injury run into an interesting predicament. You love riding, you want to more of it, but you do not have the endurance for several hour long hammers in on the road or trail. For riders coming back off of injury, you have memories of those days but no ability to make it happen at this time.
So what do we have to do?
We need to start conditioning our bodies to get to handle longer times in the saddle. It is an incremental change that is fueled by two key ingredients.
The Will To Not Get Frustrated
The only thing that will get you riding longer miles is stretching what you consider normal and doing that consistently. Whether it is hitting shorter rides harder or slowly extending your mileage when you can, you (talking to myself here as well) need to start extending your riding to push your threshold farther. While I wish there was a magic bullet or some super secret underground method for doing it quickly, the reality is that you have to work to get your body to create a new “normal”.
For most riders, this is not an easy thing to accomplish given other life obligations. Some of us have families, jobs and other outside factors that make getting in more longer rides difficult. But – as I mentioned earlier – the key is to stretch yourself. You need to hit that climb harder, bring your average speed up on the road and keep pushing your fitness to be better (within reason…don’t push to explosion). Even shorter distances with higher efforts will help your milage on the weekend.
For me, I have found that weekly rides that are on a certain day greatly help my endurance while being able to balance life’s obligations. If you have one or two rides after work that you can depend on, that will bring the consistency to your riding that is required to push the limit of your time wall.
But most importantly…
You have to remember not to get frustrated through the process…because it is a process. It is almost as if I am going through a mental battle on the trail. My mind remembers being able to push harder but my legs and body can’t get the job done. I want to be able to jump right back on an attack trails and road rides like I did at the injury point, but my endurance and strength is not even close. Somehow, I have to keep reminding myself on the trail that it is ok and it is better to be on the bike or off…this is just another stage in the process.
Some days it is easier said than done, but – for the most part – it is easy to get stoked when I get out of self loathing enough to turn my eyes up and see what is front of me. Single track ready to be ripped and fresh asphalt ready to be carved is the best therapy no matter my riding ability is at the time. When you keep that in focus, the rest comes with time.
Awhile back, we hit up our Facebook fan page and asked everyone if they would like to see “Live the Ride” wristbands from Bike198. The response was so positive that we decided to move forward with the project and now they are officially for sale in the Bike198 store!
For most of us, riding is not just a hobby. It is a set of values and beliefs that we carry with us everywhere we go. It is our release, our passion and our way of escaping the rat race of the real world. We live the ride…not just go on rides. This wristband seeks to extend that into a wearable form In the color of black like our tires and red for what we bleed true, the Live the Ride wristband shows your passion for all things cycling.
This past weekend was the SE Bike Expo, so I headed up on Saturday to take a look at this first annual event (that also happens to be an hour from where I live).
The SE has needed something like this for a long time. There is a very strong riding community here that never gets to really have hands on experience with what the industry has to offer like the west coast crew gets with Outerbike. So it was great to see this get together and have a successful first year outing with some strong showing from the industry. Several of the big contenders were there with sizable demo fleets including Trek, Specialized, Felt, Niner and others. Components manufactures also showed their support thanks to companies like SRAM, Shimano and Notubes.com bringing in product and techs.
Events like this are a great chance to see products and bikes that may not be carried by your local dealer so you can get a hands on look at new gear and parts. If you have the chance next year, stop by as it satisfies the inner obsession we all seem to carry if you love to get out and ride.
I headed up with a group of my regular riding buddies, so here is the general consensus from the group and myself. Unfortunately, my back was acting up a bit so I didn’t get to ride as many demo’s as I wanted. However, the notable standouts from the crew seemed to be the Niner Jet 9 RDO, Specialized Stumpjumper EVO carbon, Trek Remedy, Yeti ASR5 and the Felt Virtue. Those that seemed to fall short were the Jamis Dakar Sixfty B and the Trek Rumblefish.
The overall showing of component manufacturers were pretty good with some interesting trends and some disturbing ones. The good news is that private, small shop carbon wheel and light manufacturers is on the rise. While I figured these would be purely import companies rebranding what is available from China, this was not the case. There are some great products coming out of Boyd, Belgium, Lumintrek and others that are manufactured here in the US and specifically in the southeast US. They all looked like quality products that we will try to get our hands on really soon.
The disturbing? Origin bikes. I will do a full article on why this week, but the re-branded China idea is going to cause some issues in the bike industry. I really don’t like how China handles manufacturing and presenting it to US based companies (I have personal experience with this one).
Was it worth attending? Absolutely. I really hope this event continues to gain traction and starts to bring in even more riders and industry companies. Be on the lookout for some quick reviews and articles this week on some of our hands on experience from the SE Bike Expo.
On October 2, 2011, some friends of mine and I headed up to Pisgah National Forest for a special ride. My wife was scheduled to have our first baby that coming Tuesday, so this was a chance to get out for one last weekend before our son came.
The weather was perfect, the trails were in incredible condition and everything was primed for a really good weekend out on the trails.
Except for one thing.
My back was starting to act up and in a serious way. This had been a long time in the making. What started off as a dull pain was starting to get worse. I shrugged it off as typical cycling pains for weeks and by the time we got to the top of the first climb of the weekend, I was seriously wondering if I was going to make it down.
At that point my back was in so much pain that even any simple sitting hurt. I couldn’t bend forward and pain was shooting down the back of my legs. I rode as softly as I could to the bottom and started my trip home for the weekend. My riding was done.
Over the next couple of weeks, we acclimated to our new lives as parents and I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to see what the hell was going on with my back. An x-ray pointed out that I had Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower two vertebra in my back. While this sounds more serious than it really is, the long story short is that the discs in my back are deteriorating. As they get smaller, they are pushing out of my spine and causing pressure against my sciatic nerve (the source of the shooting pain down my legs).
The treatment at this point…physical therapy.
The idea here is to do compression stretching to push what is left of my discs back into my spine, get them to set, and then strengthen my core to the point it acts like a back brace to support my back. The bad news…basically zero activity during this time.
The 141 Days of Inactivity
I wrote earlier this week what cycling was to me. It is more than just an activity. It is my source of health both physically and mentally. I would imagine that most of you reading this can agree with that statement. This 141 days was the longest period I have ever had off a bike since 1993 and I started to go a little crazy.
Luckily, I did have a new son that was keeping us pretty occupied and I was able to get away in the car for mountain passes to keep a little bit of adrenaline flowing through the body, but it wasn’t the same.
When you are off the bike for long periods, there is a disconnect with a life you once knew. What started with sharing experiences with friends turned into vicariously living them through pictures and posts on Facebook. While you say you are going to still hang out and keep in touch through times like this, the reality is that much of my activities with my friends were centered around weekday and weekend rides. I don’t blame them for not wanting to just hang out somewhere when the weather this winter has been insanely warm. I’d be out riding too.
The next couple of months consisted of going to the physical therapist twice a week. With a series of compression stretches, core workouts and electrical muscle stimulation therapy, we were able to get my back feeling better. But…I was starting to notice that the complete lack of physical activity was not only starting to make me gain weight, but that it could actually be making matters worse.
This week, I made the decision to break the 141 day off the bike streak and get out with two friends on the road bikes. This non-impact riding would allow me to not only test my back, but do so in a way that we were always close to a way to get home.
Out on the ride, my back felt surprisingly well. There were only two instances where I felt a twinge and it was on starts from stops. While on the bike and standing climbing, everything just seemed to work out ok outside of the fact that my legs felt like they had zero power. A little over 20 miles later, I was back at the car and had completed my first ride in months. It felt incredible and I slept better that night than I have in a long time.
The next day, everything seemed to flow as normal and I didn’t notice any increased pain. The plan now is to continue road riding and continue building core strength to get my body back into shape. The reality is that big drops to flat and other freeride maneuvers on the mountain bike are probably no longer in my riding due to back issues that are not going to just disappear and go away, but it is looking like my favorite style (big mountain AM) is within the realm of possibilities this year.
It was a long stint, but now I can see the light on the end of the horizon…and I can finally pedal towards it.
I have seen a lot of different things over the years, but this has to be the most extreme trials maneuvers I have ever seen done on carbon road bikes. Last year, a video was released by Martyn Ashton about his road bike commute where he did some trails and dirt moves, but this one takes that to a whole different level.
Over the weekend, two conclusions to arguably two of the biggest stories in professional cycling doping scandals finally came to an end. Alberto Contador received a 2 year ban from cycling for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong’s two year long investigation into doping was closed with no files charged.
Alberto Contador is No Longer 2010 Tour Champ
CAS announced on today that it had upheld the UCI and WADA’s joint appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision not to suspend Contador. One, to try to blame the clenbuterol on meat with Contador was a joke at best. As much as the teams watch what these guys are taking into their bodies, I highly doubt they do not know the exact weight of every single scrap of food and where it came from. He got caught. He tried to weasel his way out of it and now it is over.
Contador will lose all results dating back to the 2010 Tour de France including his Giro d’Italia win. This means Andy Schleck is crowned winner of the 2010 Tour, but I highly doubt this is the way he wanted to grab that title.
Armstrong Federal Case Officially Closed
With Lance, the man behind the legend has been under investigation for 2 years pending fellow cyclists allegations of doping primarily started by everyone’s favorite cyclist, Floyd Landis. Although he was never positively tested, part of me looks back at those races and thinks that there is no possible way that he was dominating like he was without it. Everyone else was as we know now, so he was killing the pack free of any help? I would like to think that is true, but even if he was…he still beat everyone else that was too. The playing field was either level or extremely weighted to the competition and he won either way.
Lance might still not be out of the woods as this was the USADA might be looking to file doping charges of their own pending evidence found in the federal case. They are probably not going to find much there as the case was closed for a reason.
But…Why do I not care?
My thoughts? I don’t care. I am just glad it is over (although it could far from be actually over). The stain that these two cases have left on the sport of professional cycling is going to be difficult to recover from. In an age where the UCI is starting to look for outside funding for their complete lack of solid funding sources, big advertisers pulling support and the recent decrease of supported teams, the last thing the sport of professional cycling needs is more drama and bad press.
Some would argue that the recent issues outside of doping allegations is a direct effect of the scandals, but the reality is that cycling is getting more expensive and there is less money coming in. I also think people are sick and tired of hearing about it. While it may have caused a wave of increased viewers in the beginning, those same viewers are off to the next drama in some other professional arena.
It is time to get back to what the sport really is…bike racing around the world. The sport needs to get back to having hero’s and not “win at all cost” racers who cut corners and lie to get ahead. What happened to true spirit of bike racing? Was it never really there to begin with and the general public just didn’t know about it?
The big issue arises when these types of scandals make cyclists actually not want to watch…which is my feeling now. What good is it to watch the Grand Tours if the winner is just going to be stripped of the title years down the road because they cheated? Do you really think that doping is stopping just because they are watching it closer? It is just going further underground and they are finding new ways to get that artificial edge. The court cases didn’t change a thing. It just made them be even more careful.
As a viewer and cyclist, I just want exciting, competitive bike racing. I want riders that lead by example instead of ones that are looking to just not get caught. Is that too much to ask? It is looking that way lately, but I hold out hope. All the sport really needs is a clean rider with a successful track record to stand up and be the new face of professional cycling.
Who is that going to be? I am not sure…but it needs to happen soon.
Outside Magazine recently ran an article titled, “Who pinched my ride” where Patrick Symmes talks about stolen bicycles and his experience (with multiple rides stolen) in New York City. While Symmes is probably in the worst place in the US for bicycle theft, it is something that happens every where to every group of cyclists.
I am not sure if I have a couple weeks that go by where I don’t see someone talking about their stolen bike on Facebook. A friend of mine even had one stolen off the top of his SUV in his company parking lot.
It may not surprise you that the FBI statistics claim that 204,000 bicycles were stolen nationwide in 2010, but those are only the documented thefts. The actual number, I would imagine, is much higher.
So the big question of the day is “what can we do to protect ourselves?” This is obviously a problem that is not going away. With the price of equipment going up, the street value is as well. And…let’s face it…even if that were not the case, bicycles are a highly sought after item for the people low enough to steal.
We can bitch, moan and complain, but the reality is that petty theft is a real problem and bicycles are a big ticket item in that category. We need to protect our two wheeled treasure as best we can given the conditions. However, even when it seems like we have done everything, bad people will still try and succeed. Our hope is that what goes around comes around and they pay for it eventually.
6 Tips To Secure Your Ride
So what can we do to decrease the odds and keep our bikes…well…ours.
Forget the cable…go steel or chain – While cable locks look like they protect you from theft, all they really do is keep someone who doesn’t know how to steal bikes from performing a grab and go (think kids). By using a chain like the Kyrponite I personally use or a heavy duty u-lock made out of hardened steel, you greatly increase your chances of the thief going to the next bike to save the trouble.
Bike rack locks are worthless – Yes, that lock on your Thule T2 arm looks like it does something, but even I can un-rack your bike from the bike rack in under a minute with those things. All you have to do is take the front wheel off the bike. Any cable lock or locking system on bike racks only prevents the thieves mentioned in the tip above. Anyone who knows how to steal a bike will have yours quickly if that is all you rely on.
Never leave your bike outside overnight – It’s dark, they have almost unlimited uninterrupted time and you can’t do anything about it. Even the best locking systems fail in these conditions. Take your bike inside or put it in the trunk of a car if you can.
Avoid really flashy looking parts – If you are going to be in situations where your bike is going to be in danger a lot, try not to lust after the matching ano and carbon bits are you are just creating more attention to your bike.
Ride a beater – Sounds funny…but think of this as a different horse for different courses. If you have certain situations where you know you are more at risk for theft, have a cheaper bike for then and your staple, high end bike for when you know it isn’t going to get taken. That way, you aren’t quite as upset when your cheap bike gets stripped down or taken. You can get anything off of Craigslist and eBay that it is great condition on the cheap.
Get Insured – Auto insurance doesn’t normally cover stolen bikes. If you really want replacement cost taken care of if your bike is stolen, get a renters insurance policy or an adder to your homeowner’s insurance to cover the bikes while you are out driving around with them or riding them. You also need to be sure to accurately document all parts with pictures so they can be provided for the claim. These insurance policies are crazy cheap and can save you thousands.
Nothing is truly ever safe and at the end of the day…it is still just stuff. It is never worth dying over a bike trying to save it from getting stolen, but at least we can increase our chances of it not happening to begin with.
I came across this info graphic about cars and bikes this morning that I thought was really valuable.
It is…by far…one of the best illustrations I have seen to date on driver/road biker relations. I can not begin to tell you how many rides I have been on where a road biker will yell, scream, cuss and throw things at drivers that come too close.
Yes…the driver was in the wrong…but so was the reaction.
For some reason, some road bikers believe they are doing some sort of good by flying off the handle at drivers of cars and trucks. In reality, all they are doing is further making the relationship between drivers and road bikers even worse. Do you really think you are making a difference by acting like a lunatic? All you are really doing is proving the wrongful thinking of the driver that road bikers are crazy and wreckless.
Furthermore, the road biker seems to conveniently forget that by acting this way, they are also fueling the stereotype that road bikers are angry assholes on the road and that makes it harder for the rest of us (and more unsafe) that just want to get out and enjoy the open road.
Just like the illustration says, we need to not fight fire with fire. We need to give the reaction that is unexpected. Have you ever tried talking to a driver nicely about what happened?
“Hey man, I know you probably didn’t mean to, but you go really close to us back there. Can you please leave just a little bit more room next time? I would hate to see something go wrong.”
If they still get mad at that point, then it is their own issues but you didn’t make the situation worse by being a jackass which would further justify their anger. Let’s lose the angry roadie attitude once and for all. Let’s finally do our part in driver/road biker relations by leading by example and not through hate.
We can raise awareness and try to get legislation passed, but until we step up and act how we would like to be treated…nothing will change.
So we posted up the version from NSMB.com that depicted typical comments made by mountain bikers…and more specifically…those in the North Shore.
People for Bikes thought it was a pretty cool idea, so they put together this clip of “Shit Cyclists Say” for the roadie crowd. It’s amazing how even though riding groups are spread out all over the place…we all still say the same things. We got some great response to it on the Bike198 Facebook page so we thought we would go ahead and post it here as well. Check it out below.