Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brief review: Shutt VR Signature Buff

As some of you already know, it takes quite a bit to keep me from going out for a ride. But after a head-fake last week with temperatures in the 60's, cold wet weather that has yet again come to plague NYC. So I continue to rely on a piece of kit that I recently purchased that is so simple and yet so effective.

For the earlier part of the winter, I was using a balaclava made by a very good apparel company. There was actually nothing wrong with the balaclava and a lot of people use them quite happily in cold weather. But I get somewhat uncomfortable when I can't freely mouth-breathe when I'm working out. I apparently pant like a horse once the road starts hitting some serious 1.5% gradients.  And the balaclava I was using was difficult to pull down under my chin to let me breathe. So I started looking for alternatives.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Copy edit please...

Is it only me or is that a confusing headline? How do you confirm an almost certainty? I definitely would possibly know if English weren't my second language.

I should leave the office.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Gothamist plug

Yesterday, after posting my entry with the video of the traffic lights in Central Park, I went off and enjoyed the rest of my day... only to come back and discover that my post had been picked up by the Gothamist and my blog entry had been read by a large group of people who don't usually read "bike blogs". It was a pleasant surprise and kind of awesome that someone at the Gothamist thought to post about my page.

With the additional traffic, I received a couple of notes/emails from some readers and I wanted to clarify a couple of things:

Monday, February 21, 2011

The 46 lights of Central Park

There are 46 traffic lights on the 6.1 mile loop in Central Park. And the NYPD continues to dole out tickets for cyclists at the red lights. I had written an entry about this before but I wanted to revisit the issue a little bit. Mainly because I had a close call recently where I almost crashed after riding through a yellow light and had a police car pull up behind me and blast me with the siren... to tell me that I came close to getting a $270 ticket.

According to the NYPD, there were 127 accidents in Central Park last year that involved a cyclist. We've never been provided the specifics of what happened in these accidents... so for all I know, all 127 could have been from a cyclist running over a pedestrian full bore while the pedestrian had the right-of-way at a traffic light. Or all 127 could have been from a cyclist falling off a bike all by himself. But I'm assuming that neither of these are true. If I go through the various scenarios where a cyclist might get into an accident in the park, I end up with 7 possibilities:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Armstrong has given us

As the whole sporting world knows, Lance Armstrong retired from professional cycling this week at the age of 39. He leaves as one of its most decorated cyclists, winning a record 7 Tour de France titles as well as countless other palmarès over his long career.

As he leaves, he continues to be shadowed by rumors and suspicions that he may have doped during his career. He is currently the subject of a federal investigation in the United States after allegations of doping leveled by former teammate Floyd Landis.

Whether he doped or not is beyond the scope of what I wanted to write about today and, in my opinion, what most people know or think they know. What I wanted to do today is  reflect on what Armstrong's presence in the sport has done beyond his individual achievements. Regardless of what happens (or doesn't happen) with any doping investigation, his contributions to the cycling world and the world at large are worth appreciating.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Asking us to believe....

I feel like the cycling community has been inundated over the past several weeks with news briefs and editorials about doping. Everywhere I look, there's an article about who's doing wrong or what the problems are with professional cycling today. Driven largely in the last couple of weeks by the Riccardo Ricco fiasco and the buildup to Alberto Contador's acquittal by RFEC, the "bad" of cycling has overshadowed much of the "good".

Nobody denies that these stories are important and deserve to be covered. But at the same time, they can sometimes distract us from the reasons why so many of us fell in love with this sport, not only as cyclists, but also as fans. Specifically as a fan, I think it's important to remember why we're inspired and entranced by this sport. We all marveled at Fabian Cancellara's power as he destroyed the field at Paris-Roubaix, sat at the edge of our seats watching Mark Cavendish surge ahead in the sprints at unimaginable speeds, and applauded as Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador battled each other up the foggy Col du Tourmalet. Most of us appreciated how Cancellara sacrificed the yellow jersey and neutralized the finish during last year's Tour after numerous GC contendors fell on a treacherous stage to Spa.

There are countless reasons why cycling is a beautiful sport to its fans. And the professionals who ride in the peleton implore us not to forget those reasons.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Send him to the Moon!" and the Most Improved Kit

Some people are blessed with the tools needed to become a top level cyclist. They have the physical gifts that separate them as cyclists from the masses. Unfortunately, some of these people have had the misfortune of also being cursed with the intelligence of a gnat.

Such is the case of Riccardo Riccò.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My morning inspiration...

Several of my friends asked me where I find the time to write in this blog because they know I spend too much time at work (or at home doing work).

This is where I do a lot of my writing. On the M15 bus between my little cubbyhole of an apartment and my place of gainful employment. 30 minutes of uninterrupted tapping away at my iPhone on either Evernote or Blogpress. Granted, I do additional editing when I'm at home on a "real" computer, but this is where a lot of my posts are born.

Not exactly Walden Pond...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rewind the Cassette - February 6, 2011

Rewind the Cassette is a short weekly feature covering some of the more interesting bits of news from the cycling world. It is not meant to be a definitive feed of all thats happened in the prior week... just some of the bits that caught my eye.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Garmin Vector - Expect it this year!

Powermeters have become an essential part of many cyclists' training armamentariums over the past several years and, as mentioned in a previous blog entry, I've been thinking about buying one for quite some time now. Especially since, as my previous blog entry notes, I am weak. But there are several reasons why I've hesitated on investing in one. Luckily, there's a new product that's coming to market in 2011 that I am extremely excited about. Metrigears (now a subsidiary of Garmin) is expecting to launch Vector, their pedal-based powermeter, in 2011.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I am not a sprinter. (Read: I have no power.)

Nightstand reading. February 2011.

Training is important.

It seems all too obvious that training intelligently is an integral part of succeeding when you're trying to tackle a particular goal on the bike. Whether it's your first century, a hill climb TT, or a local road race, not being adequately prepared will invariably lead to disappointment. (It's never a good feeling to get dropped in a race... but that's a story for another time.)

But a lot of people make mistakes when training. This is true in many sports, but probably most obvious in sports that require cardiovascular endurance where many people think that training hard all the time is the right way to train. This might be true early on, when you're new to the sport. But it doesn't hold true once you've established a baseline of fitness. In fact, cycling or running hard constantly is probably detrimental in the long run and can lead to both overtraining, fatigue (both mental and physical), and even injury.