Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Battle of Central Park

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Taken July 2009.

I have a confession to make. I have no freaking clue what is going on in Central Park anymore. Maybe I'm just dumb and don't understand the complex decisions that go into allocating resources in a police precinct in Central Park. Maybe someone out there in the ether can explain to me why cyclists are now being abused by the NYPD. Maybe I'll have a "Eureka!" moment and will realize that cyclists are evil people and should be physically removed from Gotham. Permanently.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ride... fail.

Failed attempt at the summit of Bear Mountain. Ice/snow on Perkins Drive.

This morning I decided to tackle my first long ride of the season. In my opinion, one of the best "self-supported" centuries one could do in the NYC area is a ride from Central Park to the summit of Bear Mountain. It's a rolling century with approximately 7000 feet of climbing, the bulk of it at Bear Mountain which is a 1300 foot climb over 4.5 miles (400m over 7.2km, for you metric speaking folk).

What I thought was going to be a great day turned into a rather difficult ride.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What wind?

My workout last night was cold and windy. But nothing compared to the conditions these kids ride in. Kids! This is how the hard men of cycling are made.

I will never again complain about a headwind. Props for the awesome echelon... they drift to the back on the verge of getting blown right off the road!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Countdown begins!

100 days until the Étape du Tour!

Training is coming along slowly but steadily... still working on base mileage for now before I start a build cycle in the upcoming weeks.

For inspiration, I turn to Spartacus:
You go deep. You go max. You go full gas. You go over your limit. But to reach something high, you have to be ready for this pain.

Yes, Cancellara would be considered a hard man.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Start of the Classics season! - Milan-San Remo

Photo by Graham Watson.

Yes! The Classics season has begun! I am about as far from a "Classics-type rider" as you can get but I've always enjoyed watching these tremendous one-day races.

If you're reading this blog, you likely already know that Matthew Goss won the first Monument of the season, the 298km race that starts in Milan and finishes in San Remo. It's traditionally been labelled the "Sprinters' Classic" since the parcours isn't hard enough to break the field up and it ends up in a bunch sprint.

This year's race was a very good one, though I found the finish somewhat entertaining. There was a lead group of 8 that broke away from the peloton and made it to the end. This was a highly select group that included several types of specialists, including sprinters (Matt Goss), "classics" riders (Philippe Gilbert), and time trialists (Fabian Cancellara). As they came to the finish line, nobody was initially sprinting. They were all just looking around, trying to see who would make the first move. I actually thought they were going so slow that they'd fall off the bike.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heroes, part 2

As a follow-up to yesterday's post regarding heroes who fail, I wanted to write down my thoughts about real-life heroes who rise in times of disaster and tragedy.

The workers at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima are truly heroes. Nicknamed the "Fukushima Fifty" by the media, these workers have been exposing themselves to radiation and all its associated risks to try to prevent a nuclear disaster. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen. How their health will be affected also remains to be seen. But they are truly heroic.

I've read a few posts and comments around the internet from people who say "Oh, if I were them, I'd ask for XXX [money, fame, women, etc] after this is all over." What some people don't understand is that the Fukushima Fifty aren't doing it for any of those things and aren't expecting any reward afterwards. They know that it's their duty to do this work even while under unimaginable stress and risk. Their reward is in knowing that they are doing what is right and in the honor of serving their community over themselves.

I would also suggest that instead of buying tickets to useless shows like Charlie Sheen's disaster tour, you donate that money to organizations like the Red Cross or the International Medical Corps that are trying to help on the ground in Japan. They need help. Charlie Sheen needs to be ignored.

Monday, March 14, 2011

When heroes fail us....

I wrote this blog post on my flight back from Vancouver after having a discussion/debate with one of the other passengers sitting next to me on my flight. I usually try not to wax philosophical... it makes my head hurt.

What is the concept of a hero? I took a course in college that was entitled "The Concept of the Hero in Greek Civilization" and in that course the professor talked about the ancient Greek ideals of a hero, including the requirement that heroes were mortals who had to suffer before achieving their glory. (They also had to die, but that's a minor minor point.)

Obviously, the concept of a hero in our current world is much more flexible. We have heroes in every aspect of society now… ranging from social justice to sports, from the political arena to theatre. But what happens when our heroes don't act heroic? What happens when they fail? Why do we care so much? Why do I often hear things like "I can't believe that XXXX (insert sports figure or celebrity) did that! He seems like such a nice (or loyal or clean) person! They should know better. I'm so disappointed. They are role models... etc etc."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I envy Vancouverites

Greetings from Vancouver. I'm here for work but this is what it looks like outside.

I regret not having brought my bike. I look at the mountains in the distance and want to go climb them. We don't have climbs like that back in the New York City area.

I should pay attention to my meeting....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remembering my first race....

Taking photos of the first race of the Spring Racing Series this past Sunday had me reminiscing about my first race... à la The Rider by Tim Krabbé (but not written as well).

What are you doing? It's 5:30 on a Saturday morning!

I stepped out of my apartment, greeted by the chilly breeze that insists that winter won't go away quietly. It's early March and I'm headed to Central Park for my first ever road race. It's a short 10 minute ride before I entered the park and started a short warm-up lap, coaxing my legs to wake up.

Really? You're going to try a race?

Prior to this, the only racing experience I had was when I was 10 years old and my friends and I would race our BMX bikes around the parking lot of the housing complex that we all lived in. Those were carefree days… and days long in the past. But after picking up cycling again (after a 10 year hiatus), the temptation to try my hand at a road race began to tickle the back of my brain.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Strade Bianche

I wish I were there... riding the backroads of Tuscany. Despite the obvious suffering that comes with riding unpaved roads, it looks beautiful. Also reminds me that I'm riding the Cycle for Health's event at the Tour of the Battenkill in a few weeks. Spring cycling is here!

Photos by Bettini via Cyclingnews.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Jens has spoken - the UCI radio ban

As many of you may know, the UCI has been decided to ban race radios at all professional-level racing events. This has led to much debate amongst the cyclists, press, and fans. The UCI's position is that race radios have diminished the excitement and spontaneity of the sport. Riders follow the commands of their directeur sportifs and rarely dare to make decisions on their own. Race radios have made cycling boring. Those who support the continued use of race radios say that the radios are important for conveying information to the team manager and the mechanics and that the riders can be warned in advance of upcoming hazards or accidents. Radio advocates say that, regardless of what the team car orders, it is still ultimately the rider who has to race. A radio won't make him go any faster.

Most of the riders and teams have expressed their displeasure with the proposed ban. At the Challenge Mallorca, the riders rode in protest of the ban and the UCI disqualified all their results for that stage. And as of yesterday, the AIGCP (representing the teams) demanded that the UCI rescind the ban or face "drastic action". (What the drastic action would be was not stated... I would guess something more than making faces at Pat McQuaid.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I spoke too soon

After writing yesterday about how winter is almost over, this is what I was greeted with this morning.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Playing with others - Group riding etiquette

After a rather crazy week, I've finally had the chance to sit down and write a decent blog entry. It's always a little irritating when that thing called LIFE gets in the way of CYCLING. I'd focus on CYCLING exclusively if it weren't for the fact that Con Edison gets upset when I don't pay my bills on time.

Yes, I do need electricity and hot water.

It finally appears that winter is beginning to loosen its grip on NYC. Today was a beautiful day... crystal clear skies, temperatures in the mid-50's, not a drop of rain. (Of course, when I went for my ride this evening, the temperatures plummeted to 34 degrees. Awesome.) And with the advent of spring, the cycling masses begin to come to life. I will no longer be sharing 9 West with the other solitary (and crazy) cyclists in 26 degree weather but with large group rides (including the NYCC SIG groups).