Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nuggets about Radioshack + Leopard

Radioshack + Leopard = Reotard?

Shack + Trek = Shrek?

Radioshack + Nissan = Raiden?

Too tired to actually write much about the merger... other than the observation that a team with the Schlecks, Cancellara, Horner, Kloden, Brajkovic, Busche, Fugalsang is going to be a force next year. Still don't see that much support for Cancellara in the Classics though.

One thing is becoming apparent... the UCI World Tour teams are quickly being divided into the Haves and Have-Nots. Garmin, BMC, and now Radioshacktreknissanleopardtreknissanradioshackluxembourgschleckbruyneel are the Haves. The rest are the Have-Nots.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Angliru and other thoughts

The Angliru!
Though I had mentioned that the Vuelta is the "ugly sister" of the grand tours, it has some climbs that really are spectacular. The most iconic of the climbs is the Angliru... a beast of a climb in northern Spain that marked the summit finish of Stage 15 yesterday. The overall climb is 12.5km with an average of 10.1%. Think that sounds bad? Well, the final 6km of the climb average over 13% with ramps of 23%. Even the pros use mountain bike gearing to get up climbs like this. There are many climbs in Europe that I want to tackle... this is not one of them. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be able to ride up the entire climb and would certainly have to walk parts of it.

I won't dwell on the results of the stage from yesterday. I'll just say that Cobo's climb was impressive. Impressive enough that some people are questioning him and his authenticity. I can't say that I agree with them... their doubts are simply based on the fact that Cobo hasn't lead a grand tour in the past. Unless some evidence comes up that suggests that something is suspicious, I'd prefer to think that Cobo actually earned the right to wear the leader's jersey

Friday, August 26, 2011

No riding this weekend... Survival mode.

This past Sunday, I was trying to plan out my rides for the week (since I've not been getting on the bike much at all recently) and I was hoping to go for a ride out to Cold Spring this weekend. But it appears that I've been foiled. Stupid Irene. Now, I'm all for riding in the rain... but riding in this weather would be a little insane.

Let's see:
- Worst hurricane/storm system to hit NYC in decades.
- First MANDATORY evacuations of areas of NYC in... well, ever. Like EVER.
- Current forecast is calling for almost 7 inches of rain. 7 inches!!
- Hospitals and nursing homes are being evacuated. This includes my hospital, where hundreds of patients are being moved or discharged. Interestingly, the magnet for the MRI has been powered down and (I didn't know this) it takes a week for it to power back up again. What?
- The NYC MTA has said it will be canceling all public transportation starting on Saturday at noon. That means no buses, subways, or trains. The bridges may be closed as well if the winds get very strong.

So what does the intrepid cyclist do in weather like this? Well, head out to my parents' place this afternoon to make sure they're ready and well-supplied. Then come back home and batten the hatches for the next 48 hours. Maybe all my cycling gear with get the once-over and I'll spend Sunday tuning up my bike. Again.

For those on the Eastern seaboard, please be safe. No need to be a hero against Mother Nature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review - Pika Packworks EEP travel case

My biggest concern travelling to France for the Etape last month was figuring out a way to travel with my bike. I wanted a case that would, most importantly, protect my bike. But I didn't want to bring along a huge, heavy, hard case that would be a pain to lug around. I wanted something that I could move easily and that I could take onto a train or put into a taxi with minimal fuss. Essentially, like everything in cycling, I wanted something light and strong. I had heard about the Pika Packworks EEP case for a while through some other cyclists and some of the online reviews of the case were very favorable. So I decided to give it a try. And I'm glad I did.

Pika Packworks is a small company. Actually, I believe it's really just a one-man operation. I had a chance to talk to Mark Smedley over the phone before ordering the case and he sounds like one of the nicest guys out there. Mark makes all the bags... by hand... in his basement. He learned how to sew when he was young and, as a graduate student, gained experience sewing heavy fabrics because he was constantly repairing his rock-climbing bags. Using his experience as a mountain bike racer, he developed the EEP (Exercise Equipment Pack), which is the bag I used for my trip. His bags have been used by pro-level racing teams for years and has gained quite a following in the cycling community, despite the fact that he does no advertising. All his business is from word-of-mouth recommendations or user reviews.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Forgotten Grand Tour

I always feel a little bad about the Vuelta.... it's like the ugly sister of the grand tours. In my mind, the Tour is the pretty, smart sister who all the guys (advertisers) chase after. The Giro is like the really hot sister (think Angelina Jolie) who may not be as sharp as the Tour but is damned sexy. The Vuelta... well, it's the Vuelta. Still an amazing race but it pales a little in comparison to the other two tours.

That said, I think the Vuelta will be an interesting race this year. I'm looking forward to some of the climbs that they're going to do, especially the terrifying AnglirĂș where the final 6.5km averages over 13%. I think the overall will likely be won by a pure climber, though the moderate length TT in the middle gives people like Menchov a chance to damage the field.

A final quick thought of the morning... I need to get out more if I'm making analogies between grand tours and hot sisters.