Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coming tomorrow: the 5 Boro Bike Tour

Start of the 2010 Five Boro Bike Tour
Every May, I ride with 31,999 other riders in the Five Boro Bike tour. It's a 42 mile leisurely jaunt through the five boroughs of New York City. Though it's not a competitive ride or even very challenging at this point, it's something that I have a soft spot for. When I first participated in this ride 3 years ago, it was my first "long" ride that I did on a road bike... and was one of the reasons I fell in love with cycling. People who ride this come in every shape and size. They ride on mountain bikes, tandems, recumbents and road bikes. Families ride this together, sometimes even on a single bike. (I once saw a bike that had 5 people on it!) It's really a wonderful display of all the various types of people who love riding a bike. I'll post pictures from the ride tomorrow.

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eye on the prize

After doing some hill repeats tonight, my legs are weak and rubbery and I am fighting the very strong urge to go eat some ice cream. Straight up chocolate Haagen Daz sounds really good right now. I'm fairly sure that when I finish the Etape, I will be stuffing myself with all sorts of sweets and candies that I'm currently trying to avoid.

As long as I don't end up looking like this:

Gross... but the clip makes me laugh every time I see it. Yes, I have the maturity of a 12 year old.

Anyways, back to the topic of this post.

I've been following the Cyclist's Training Bible pretty religiously (pun intended) for the past 11 weeks and am now at the tail end of my base training. Though I was on the bike pretty consistently through much of the winter, my structured base mileage training began in February. I scheduled my training plan so that I could put in some decent base miles before going through two build phases and peaking for the Etape.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Work sucks

Hey guys,

Sorry about the lack of posting... I've been rather swamped with things at work so far this week. I'll have a post up tomorrow but in the meantime, I just wanted to share a video that I've probably watched a dozen times in the past few weeks.

Best line: A defect in the gentleman's mind confuses pain with joy.

Reminds me of a quote by Plato: The first and best victory is to conquer self.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Glory.... hmmm. (Updated with LBL quick picks)

A short video worth watching on a rainy day in NYC. I don't ride a Trek bike but it's more about Cancellara and the Classics than about Trek. There are two parts of the video I particularly like... in the beginning when Cancellara says "Glory... hmm" and when he talks about how he was going through the Forest of Arenberg at 5kph. The latter made him sound almost mortal.

Enjoy Liege Bastogne Liege tomorrow!

Updated: Okay, since I was asked why I don't have any picks for today's LBL....

  • Vinokourov will try to make a late breakaway again to try to defend his title... but won't get much of a leash this year.
  • The Schleck brothers will work together, with the emphasis on Frank being the primary protected rider.
  • As strong as Gilbert is, I think the climbs are just a bit too long for him and start to favor the pure climbers. I'll pick Joaquím Rodríguez to win LBL today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are you man enough... to use a compact?

"You ride a compact? Why aren't you using a standard crank?"

We've all heard this comment. Many of us have made it. The subtext of that statement is clear.

"You are weak. HTFU and ride a real big ring, you wheel sucking little man."

It's the cycling version of a pissing contest. The "standard vs compact" argument. Many egos out there think that a "real cyclist" should be riding a 53/39 crankset and that a 50/34 is only for "weak" cyclists. Except that's not really true. In fact, a standard crank probably doesn't make sense for most cyclists, except for those who are fairly advanced amateurs and/or racers. And even then.... Garzelli rode a 34x28 when he won the mountain time trial stage up Plan de Corones in last year's Giro. And I vaguely remember reading somewhere that some of the riders even used mountain bike cassettes with 32 teeth on that stage!

When it comes to the standard vs compact debate, most of the machismo-fest focuses on the higher gears (because nobody really brags about how low their gears go). So let's take a look at some of the numbers from a straight-up gearing perspective.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pain in Cycling

To be a cyclist is to be a student of cycling's core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn't matter if you're sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks.

Scott Martin

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
Lance Armstrong

Thursday, April 14, 2011

10,000 and counting!

A rather notable milestone for me... but in the past 24 hours, this blog surpassed 10,000 hits. When I started writing this blog at the end of December, I had imagined that it would be a good way to share some of my thoughts about cycling and to keep my friends informed about my progress towards the Etape du Tour. I never imagined that I would get visitors from all corners of the world... and for that I'm grateful (and amazed)!

For those who may not know, I will be riding in the Etape du Tour this coming summer. (78 days left!!) But beyond just the challenge of riding a stage of the Tour de France (and hopefully making it to the summit of Alpe d'Huez), I'm also riding in support of two charities, the World Bicycle Relief and the Central Asia Institute. You can read about this in a previous blog entry. If you're able to, any contribution would be awesome.

Thank you again for reading my blog and I'll try my best to keep you guys entertained. Have a great ride!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paris Roubaix 2011 - Brief thoughts

I would be remiss if I didn't make a couple of observations about this week's Paris Roubaix. So here we go... brief thoughts!

  • Johan Van Summeren is a stud. He's a nice guy who always puts himself out there for his team leaders... and never really gets any recognition for it. In fact, he's probably better known as one of the tallest men of the peloton at 6' 5.5" (1.97m). But he gutted it out and won the biggest race of his career.
  • To add to his studliness, he proposed to his girlfriend immediately after he won. Maybe I have a skewed sense of romantic... but I thought that was pretty damned cool.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Battenkill - What happened to the tarmac??

This past weekend, I went upstate to ride the route for the Tour of the Battenkill. I had considered entering the race but decided that it would be more enjoyable to experience the route with some friends and enjoy the company of a good group ride as part of the Cycle for Health Bike Marathon.

The Tour of the Battenkill is one of the premier races in the United States and is special for a very particular reason. Unlike most other road races (and similar to Paris-Roubaix) the Battenkill route covers some incredibly challenging and brutal terrain. Specifically, it covers 10 sections of dirt and gravel and several climbs where the gradient soars above 18%.

I had ridden this last year but there had been some changes to this year's route and I was curious to see what they were.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Here we go. Paris Roubaix 2011!

Eddy Merckx leading Roger de Vlaminck in the 1973 Paris Roubaix

Ask most cycling fans what the most brutal race of the year is and I would bet that the most popular answer will be Paris-Roubaix.

For those who aren't as familiar with Paris-Roubaix, also known as "l'enfer du Nord" (Hell of the North), it is unlike any other on the professional cycling circuit. It is one of the oldest races on the calendar, having started in 1896. But that isn't what makes it special. Unlike most races that speed over smooth stretches of tarmac, this races is characterized by brutal stretches of cobbled roads that the riders must battle. Some of these cobbled stretches are so difficult on machinery that even automobiles don't use them... the only regular traffic they see are the tractors that tend to the surrounding fields. Chris Horner described it thus:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Being "Not Pro"

I enjoy following Ted King, one of the riders for the Liquigas team. Not only does he keep an awesome blog which gives an inside peek into the life of a professional cyclist (complete with pictures of really great food!) but he also posts a lot of his rides on Strava. For those who don't know, Strava is an awesome website that lets you upload and compare your rides with other cyclists.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are you ready! Ronde van Vlaanderen 2011!! (Updated)

So excited... the Tour of Flanders is today!

Just to remind all of us of what happened last year when Cancellara decided to destroy the entire peloton. I suspect that it'll be much harder for him to win this year as he will be marked by every single team. But then again, he is Spartacus.

  • Cancellara will win again. But this time he will attack after the Muur and ride away from the peloton (rather than on the climb itself).
  • Hushovd and Gilbert will come in second and third, respectively.
  • Boonen will not finish in the top 10.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Forget it. I give up cycling.

As of today, I have decided to retire my road bike and pursue other interests. I have decided that trying to complete a stage of the Tour de France is not challenging enough. So I will be spending some time on the rally circuit with the goal of participating in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 26th. The above video was taken by Travis Pastrana on a practice run up Mount Washington. His Subaru was outfitted with cameras because he's well-known... but my time was actually faster. He lost a bit of time on some of the early turns when he didn't take the corners as aggressively as he could've.

Okay, maybe I won't be doing that. I had a strong urge to pee while watching the video. It's pretty freaking awesome but certainly makes one pucker up when they hit the fog at the top of Mount Washington. Happy April Fool's Day.