Monday, February 28, 2011

Critical Team Component - Shop Owners

We wouldn't have a Team Two Wheel without the existence of Two Wheel Transit, which we wouldn't have in its current iteration without the two guys who own the shop - Geoff and Bruce. They are both good guys, both love cycling and both have added a lot to what Two Wheel Transit is today. After all of the team introductions, I thought it was fair to add a bit of personal information about them, so I posed the same questions to them to find out about them personally, their cycling proclivities and favorite local rides.

Up first, Geoff Forshag (pronounced "Jeff") who is a CPA and business consultant, but who is also in the shop most days:
I am an Air Force brat that moved every 2 years growing-up. Once we settled in Spovegas I stayed put. I am married with 3 boys who are currently 22, 18, and 14. I just love to ride for fitness and stress relief. I raced in college with not much success. Most notable ride was completing the 2009 STP in one day with a broken kneecap.

Favorite rides depend on the day or time of year. One would have to be from Hangman Golf Course to 9 mile dam and back. Another is the north loop of the Loreen Miller route up and over Green Bluff.

Next up, Bruce Abbott, who is in the shop part-time and maintains a medical practice on the side, I guess just to have enough money to play the ponies (I'm not absolutely sure about that last part):
Personal Bio: Born in NJ, School Vermont, Edmonton Alberta, Colorado, Utah. Came to Spokane to join Valley Young People's Clinic in 1991. Married, two children; 20 and 16. I have been friends with Geoff and Teresa Forshag for a bunch of years and it is his fault I am in this business.

Cycling Bio. Touring/commuting, not a racer at all. Trained at Trek level 1 and level 2 bike fit seminars and most recently attended the BikeFit Systems training in Seattle.

Favorite local ride: I am a valley guy. Leave my house, up over the hill to Newman Lake, around Newman Lake over and around Hauser Lake, then down the Rathdrum Prairie to the Centennial Trail and home.

Bottom line - Bruce and Geoff approach owning the shop in just the way you would hope that shop owners would. They treat it like a serious business with a fun focus. They have a great and knowledgeable crew, great products (I do love my Madone bike), take care of their customers and they contribute to the cycling community and to the community at-large. If you take seriously the power of your dollars to have a positive impact on our community, you will make the effort to patronize this shop.

Geoff and Bruce - Thanks for supporting the team. We are happy to fly the Two Wheel flag and appreciate the opportunity.
Rider Three

Friday, February 25, 2011

Last Team Mate - ME

I'm not sure how much of an introduction that I need to or should offer. I have been regularly blathering on for the last two years so you probably know as much about me as you need to, or want to, or even more than that, but because one of my team mates will make stuff up about me if I don't offer this up myself, I am going to fess up to a few things in a similar format as the others.

Personal bio - I was a Navy brat as a kid; born in Salt Lake City, Utah, with subsequent short stops in New York City, New York; Waukegan, Illinois (near Chicago); Bremerton, Washington; Boise, Idaho; Moscow, Idaho; Spokane, Washington (where I moved right before my senior year of high school (at G. Prep)); Seattle, Washington (UW for four years); and then back to Spokane (GU law school and beyond). I have been happily married for almost 22 years (to the same, very understanding woman - a teacher at North Central High School) and have two boys, currently 15 and 13, each going on 22 or 7 depending on when you check. I describe myself as a recovering lawyer, having practiced law, but also with excursions into managing construction crews, real estate development, restaurant and brewery ownership, and having finally settled on a pension consulting business where we do the administrative and compliance work for 401k plans and various kinds of retirement plans. I am proud to have also participated in a number of civic groups, including helping to start both Mobius (Fun Fact - Rider One came up with the name "Mobius" for the group, which is how we met) and SpokeFest.

Cycling bio - My only claim to athletic prowess was my participation in UW crew for four years. Starting with some exhibition races post-season as a sophomore, I was the stroke oar for the varsity boat for most of the rest of my tenure. My experience including winning a lot of races and, as is the tradition of the sport, collecting the jerseys of teams we beat, which eventually included every rowing university in the West and a few in the Mid-West and East, along with some Canadian and British schools. I don't think my teams achieved what they could have, which is a story long enough for a book, so it's better to not ask. My defining moment as a rower was my freshman year at the first big rowing test. I finished 3rd overall and was 2nd of the Port oars. Afterwards my coach came up to me and said, "S______, when this year started, I didn't give you a pencil leads worth of pigeon shit of a chance of making this team, but you certainly have." I didn't know whether to be happy or insulted, but I think I was an over-achiever for the rest of my career, which I don't think is a compliment. To me, it meant that I achieved over my lack of ability. Maybe it's a good thing to get out of your DNA given talent what you can, but that's what it was.

What's this got to do with cycling? I started cycling in the summer to be fit for the crew season and started a lifelong love affair. If I lived next to a river or lake, I might row again, but I would ride my bike no matter where I lived.

Bike racing - The best I have achieved is "being the tallest midget in the circus". I mean this as no disrespect to the people I ride with, but I have been an occasional C-pack winner and B-pack contender, but not ever more since I didn't turn to racing until I was aged and overweight. In theory I can do something about one of those, but haven't in order to be an over-achiever in cycling yet. Other than that, my primary claim is to thriving at endurance events - the longer the better. I have done a few 200+ mile/1 day rides (including one 10 hour/206 mile ride with Rider One) and finished the Leadville 100 in under 12 hours (barely).

Which leads to the "favorite ride" question. I am going to cheat on this question because I don't have a ride that is my "favorite" except that I love getting on my bike and going for a ride with friends and my kids and certainly with my team mates. I love the BS'ing, exertion and talking about everything under the sun (or rain). It is just a great sport and a lot of fun, whether I am on the road or dirt and where ever I am going.

I feel privileged to be a part of Team Two Wheel, because I am the lone C-Pack rider in a group of A-Pack folks. Thanks for letting me come out and play.
Rider Three

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More "already" team mates - Mr. Millimeter

As a Spokane Cycling Team, we have an unusual amount of high-level racing experience, including European experience. Bringing a healthy dose of it is the person usually described as the President of our Club, sometimes called Rider One, and intermittently known as Mr. Millimeter. He is also known by his stripper name, Andrei Mylroie.

In yesterday's post, we had a bit of a love letter to Rider Two, so I will try to keep things reasonable today, but the truth is that Rider One is also an exemplary rider and team mate. I have probably spent more time riding with Rider One than anyone else. We have taken a lot of long rides together, many of them just the two of us, and he flat out is a good guy to spin the pedals with.

One thing that I respect a lot as a rider is that Rider One is very strong, but on some rides, he is not the single strongest rider, but most people would not know that. He is an extremely savvy rider who has the best understanding of riding tactics, pack skills and racing smarts of any rider I know. If you think you have a better understanding of race dynamics, think again. He isn't boastful of his knowledge and frankly will rarely offer advice or critique unless you specifically ask, but trust me on this, if he offers some advice, give it serious thought because it is likely to be well considered and based on thousands and thousands of miles of bike experience as a racer and team manager. Have I gone on enough? Maybe, maybe not, but let's let Rider One weigh in with his own comments.

A brief personal bio:
In addition to a not-so-storied career as a bike racer, and a semi-storied career in bike racing, I've been known to spend my time at Desautel Hege Communications where I'm consistently surrounded by strong women that are much smarter than me. I also have a lovely family, and when I'm home I'm consistently surrounded by women that are much smarter than me. Originally from New York, I spent about 10 years living in Boulder, Colorado, where I also went to college. Somehow I survived a decade in the Gore-Tex Vortex without becoming too disillusioned about the rest of the world.

Cycling bio:
I started racing way before bike racing was cool to anyone but bike racers. As a junior racer I seemed to be able to get almost great results at just about every level. I almost won a bunch of races locally, regionally and occasionally nationally. At the time I was racing against this 13 year old that was already three years past hitting puberty that won everything. His name was George Hincapie, and he ended up making a pretty decent name for himself. Excuses aside (I blame my parents and their mediocre genetics for everything), after college I worked for professional road and mountain bike teams for a number of years. Fun stuff. It gave me a chance to fill a passport with stamps, get a ton of free gear and hire a bunch of athletes you might have heard of.

Favorite rides. Local and otherwise.
Spokane is hands down one of my favorite places in the world to ride a bike. No exaggeration. Pick a direction and I'll tell you about a ride I love. If I have to pick though, there's a big loop that goes past Long Lake, through the Spokane Indian Reservation and back to Spokane via Tum Tum. Amazing. Oh, and if you can work it into your schedule I highly recommend a trip to the Dolomites. The coffee is outstanding.

Rider One didn't give much clarity to his professional team manager days, but a couple of names I can throw out that I know he managed were the Shaklee Cycling Team and the Trek-VW Mountain Bike Team, which included riders like Travis Brown, Paulo Pezzo (World Champion) and Michael Rasmussen (yes, THAT Michael Rasmussen).

Suffice to say he knows his stuff, and that is one of the things that makes it fun to ride with Mr. Millimeter. And frankly, when your knowledge of cycling is that deep, it explains the millimeter by millimeter approach to equipment adjustment. He got over the large-scale adjustments 20 years ago so it's reasonable he is fine-tuning these days.

I'm just glad to get to tag along. Thanks for being another great team mate.
Rider Three

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Old Team Mates. No, not "old", but "already" team mates . . .

Anyone reading along for the last couple of years knows about Rider Two. He is well known to the cycling community and racing community, although he is also known by other monikers, like Quicksilver and sometimes, Paul Main.

I am tempted to say that it is always a pleasure to ride alongside Rider Two, but that isn't wholly accurate. Sometimes it is intensely painful, lung-busting and hard, but whenever he is letting you keep up, then it is always a pleasure. PM has lots of ready stories, some old, some new, some repeated favorites, but I can never, ever recall a time when he didn't have a story to tell. Aggravatingly, he also ALWAYS has the lung capacity to be riding along at a pace that he can tell a story, whether you are blasting into a killer headwind or climbing Four Mounds. He is always willing to start up a story and as long as I can stay near him, he will keep it up. The other "always" about PM is that he is jovial, or gregarious, or friendly or something. I seriously cannot remember PM being owly or unpleasant on a bike, whether the weather is miserable, he doesn't like the route or even at the conclusion of a race that didn't go his way. There must be times when he isn't smiling, but I just haven't seen any of them.

And just to wrap up this lovefest quickly, I will also point out that PM is a leader on the bike by being strong and self-less. He is willing to pull stragglers back to the group, wait for almost anyone and is sympathetic to the idea that not everyone can ride in the big gear up every hill in Spokane (Paul - Top Gear Top Tip - YOU DO HAVE A SMALL CHAIN RING - FEEL FREE TO USE IT OCCASIONALLY).

So, without further ado, here is the biographical information that Quicksilver passed along.

Personal bio- Born from the loins of a fighter pilot and a nurse. I started my early years in the beautiful city of Spokane until my parents ripped me from a place of smooth tarmac to the dusty gravelly roads of Reardan at the age of 6. There I participated in school and sports at the grade school and high school level. Then I attended the all-mighty EWU and expended my knowledge of the world and beer. I ran out of money and soon had to take on full employment where I stumbled in to my current vocation.

Cycling bio- After viewing my physique from the damage I had done by consumption of beer(copious amounts I must say) I decided to take up a childhood dream of racing bikes. I purchased my first road bike in 1985 and have been hooked ever since. I have been a licensed racer for 25 years. I have never been a prolific winner but have enjoyed every second of it. From the bitter cold rides in the winter to the dehydratingly hot days of summer races, I would not trade them in for a chateau in France.

Favorite local ride- 7 Hills course. I have had many days of great suffering on that coarse. I have raced it, and all most got puked on from a guy who came from San Diego in the '87 addition of the Washington Trust Classic, and trained on it in pissing freezing rain and not said a word to my companions for most of the 3 hour ride. When you are on and riding well you feel like a bicycle god but if you are just a little bit off, it will beat you like a baby seal in the hands of a salty Eskimo.

PM was modest about some of his cycling glory, but you will just have to ask him on the road about some of victories and hard man rides. You might also ask him about the now famous Mother's Day Massacre, which is a cautionary tale for all adult cyclists.

Now, lastly, nicknames. My guess is that PM was the kind of kid that attracted nicknames, so I should ask around, but here he is known as Rider Two or Quicksilver. The origins of Quicksilver as a nickname is now shrouded in the murky past, but suffice to say that I heard from a reliable source that his favorite movie of all time was that Kevin Bacon/Jami Gertz homage to bicycle messengers. I would have thought that he would have a greater appreciation for Breaking Away, or Le Course En Tete or even A Sunday in Hell, but I guess it is proof that the heart wants what the heart wants.

One way or another, PM is a great guy and a great team mate. I'm happy to have the chance to ride with him and be his team mate.
Rider Three

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One More New Team Mate - Vortex, no - Capt. Defense, no - Taylor

The last new team mate to get introduced is Taylor Pilant, which is only fair since he was the last to join the team, but that is another story.

I don't know Taylor well, but we have ridden together a few times in the past and, interestingly, he the brother of another team mate, Scott. I saw Taylor about a month before we rode together for the first time as team mates and he had productively spent that month growing a mustache. It is quite large and stylish, the kind that every male who grows a 'stache hopes it will look like. He reminded me of Dave Zabriske and ______________ of the Garmin team who showed up with big 'staches at the beginning of last season. Don't know if it will last or not, but it goes well with his silk pipe-smoking jacket.

As I did with everyone else, I asked for personal and cycling biographical information. Here is what Taylor provided to me:

Name: Taylor Pilant
D.O.B. 10/09/1972
Height: 6'1
Weight: 175
Road Category: 3
Hometown: Spokane, WA.
Years Racing: 1987-1990 2007-present
Favorite Local Race: Downtown Crit. (R.I.P.)
Racing Skills: Hard to take down or crash. Corners as if on rails.

Best Race: 2009 Masters B State Crit Championships, 1st

Worst Race: 1987? Tree Top Classic Circuit Race. Still had one lap to go and they were already taking down the finish line.

Favorite Race:2008 Oregon State Crit Championships. First race with higher categories. Fast pace, fun cornering and a good solo flyer one lap too soon. No result to write home about, but satisfying race.

Worst Crash: 2009 Portland Twilight Crit. Crashed twice and separated my shoulder on the 2nd crash.

Favorite Ride: 5-mile loop. It is one I made up when I was 14 and lived at the bottom of N. 5 Mile hill. It goes up the hill, across the prairie, back down behind 5 mile shopping center, down Country Homes Blvd. and Waikiki to the hill again. It's about a 7 mile loop and I usually like to do 4 laps, when I'm in shape. Plenty of climbing up 5 Mile and plenty of fast flat riding along country homes and Waikiki. Great for workout and nostalgia factor.

Does anyone else think it's funny that Taylor's favorite ride is called 5 Mile loop and it is a 7 mile loop?

Nicknames. I also asked Taylor about nicknames and to his everlasting credit, the first comment he made was to cite the well-known rule that "you can't give yourself a nickname." I knew then that we had another solid team mate on our hands.

Taylor did tell me that he earned the nickname "Captain Defense" from a jujitsu partner once. Any nickname that comes from jujitsu has a cool factor, but in cycling being primarily known for defense is not usually a positive thing, so we may wait to see if another rises to the top before officially accepting it.

Why did I include "Vortex" in the title? This weekend while we were riding together, I was struggling to keep up to the pace being set by stronger riders. I was just not on my game and the headwind and my legs kept me hovering at or off the back of the pack the whole way. At one point Taylor rode up next to me and helpfully pointed out that the best place to ride in the headwind was just off his right side because his aforementioned mustache was creating a large vortex where I could comfortably escape the wind.

Yes, I can see that this is going to work out well. Welcome to the team, Taylor.
Rider Three

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Riding

Cycling over the President's Day weekend was not perfect. In fact, it was barely tolerable. Which was too bad, because my expectations were running high.

Saturday's ride should have been good. A group of about 15 people showed up on a cold and windy, albeit sunny day. The plan was to go through Riverside State Park, up Coulee Hite Road and then come back, with the total distance a bit unknown. As we rode along Government Way towards the Aubrey L. White Parkway, there was discussion about the condition of the trail. As suspected, the steep downhill just past the gates was still shady and covered in snow and ice. The group spread waaaaaay out as people picked their way through the ice and snow to find bare spots of asphalt to maneuver bikes. Just after the road cleared and it looked like it was smooth sailing from that point on, a rider fell. Hard.

The best guess is that CY got some gunk in his cleat and it allowed his foot to pull out easily on an upstroke. From there, he got a wiggle in the handlebar (may have even hit the bar with his leg) and it was a short painful trip to the ground. He ended up with broken facial bones; road rash on his cheek, nose, lip and chin; and broken ribs. Before he could verify all of that out with the help of medical technology, however, he had to walk back out of Riverside State Park, right back up the steep, icy hill, to get past the gates where a car could pick him up. He toughed out the walk, which looked painful, but kept a good attitude the whole way.

Some of the group went on, since there wasn't much for the other ten guys to do, and a few, most particularly Rider One, but also RL and JD, helped out. Rider One lived the closest and got home to get a car, getting CY to the emergency room. It's hard in those situations to know whether to call 911 immediately, or reduce the cost and hassle by making it to care on his own, but CY seemed adamant that walking out was the right thing to do.

After RL's significant other picked up CY's bike, JD headed home, RL rode to the Seven Mile Bridge and then headed home, while Scooter and I headed up the hill to catch the group on the way back. It had split up more, with some doing a big loop and others a small loop. In any case, the accident took the wind out of the sails for me. CY won't be out for a while, but hopefully has a speedy recovery.

Sunday was less windy and there were no accidents, but it still wasn't fun. At least not for me. The pace was high and I was struggling from early on. Early on I felt like I couldn't get a good lung full of air. Not sure what that was about, but it didn't help me keep up as we climbed our way up towards the West Plains. After that, it turned into a face-paced ride and I was struggling literally the entire ride.

Those days aren't fun, but I guess they are necessary to get fitter and faster. I had been looking forward to a slower ride, some BS'ing on the bike and to enjoy the increasingly hospitable weather, but instead it was two hours of "sweet mary and joseph please help me hold on for just a bit longer!"

It is worth noting that during the ride I had two team mates who paced me back to the ride a few times each and one who, as previously mentioned, offered to let me protect myself from the wind in the ample vortex of wind supplied by his wicked 70's style mustache. With friends like those, I guess I can't complain too much, but after two days of riding, I was more tired than trained.
Rider Three

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Team Mates Continue - Scooter

A year and a half or so ago, the Dean of Spokane Cycle Blogging told me about a guy he knew that he thought I should meet. He told me he was a great guy and used to be a really serious racer with Euro experience. As chance would have it, said Dean shortly thereafter had a keg of beer in his backyard and I was pleased to have the opportunity to not only share some of the liquid goodness, but I also got to meet this guy and his wife. You know how sometimes you meet people and you just immediately get along with them? That was the experience I had with Scott McSpadden and his wife, Ashley. One quick note, if you are following along closely, we now have a McFadden AND a McSpadden on our team. Just wait until we add a Bomberg.

Anywho, I asked Scott to give me his personal and cycling background. I got two different kinds of answers: short and long. Here are his answers.

Personal Bio-
Spokane Native
Lived in Seattle for five years
Lived in SF Bay Area for seven years
Part time Aikido and Iaido instructor
Part time Bike racer
Full time General Contractor, husband and dog owner

I'm glad that Scott was willing to expand on this answer by adding a bit more detail on his cycling life.

I Began racing in 1988 in Spokane, WA, spending the first two seasons with Arrivee Cycling Club in the junior program coached by Eric Calmand, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada competing in stage races and single day events. In 1990 I moved to Sandpoint Sports Club based in Coeur d'Alene, and continued traveling and competing in Junior as well as senior events.

In 1991, under the continued guidance of Eric Calmand, I moved to north-eastern France, riding for U.C. Montataire. I had the fortunate experience of competing with Castorama
(Ed. Note - Team of Laurent Fignon at one time), ACBB, other pro and amateur teams from Europe, as well as foreigners from all over the world. During my season there I scored one win, three second places, three thirds, but the highlight by far was seeing Jim Morrison's grave in Paris.

After returning home, I joined Newman/Stress tabs for half a season switching to the local based Great Harvest Bread Company team, which changed to Empire Velo for the 1993 season. 1992 during the Cascade Cycling Classic, I was recruited by Craig Undem to ride the Tour of El Salvador for a U.S. composite squad of four riders. In 1994 I joined the legendary Olympic Sports team, which changed names a few times during my 1994-1996 stint, but the old name is still what is remembered as the spring board to professional contracts and future Olympians or General Contractors. My fondest memories during this time were the races I did with the BelChi team based out of Chicago and Belize, Central America. I was first brought to Belize at the request of Roquez Matus to his then sponsor Bruce Vergo. After my first showing in the Cross County Classic, I was made a permanent team member of the BelChi squad. I was required to help Belizeans from the team win, and beat or drop riders from other teams depending on the particular bets that took place during races. I was sent through out Belize, Mexico, and finally the Dominican Republic for the Vuelta de Hispanola. But it was the season finale in Belize City, the Santinos Classic, a circuit race through town that became one of my proudest moments in cycling. I was given the go ahead to win the race since the competition was the greatest to date being an Olympic year with Americans present who had Olympic qualifier points amassed and all of whom had something to prove, including me.

I ended my cycling career on a high note, but have spent the last fifteen or so years trying to find a way back into the life. I think I am almost there.

I think this is a pretty impressive cycling resume. I don't know of anyone who has done a lot more international racing from the Spokane area. I'm looking forward to a few war stories as we ride along this season.

I also asked about Scott's favorite local ride. He has a loop that takes him along Glenrose, 57th, down Hatch, along the Hangman loop to Valley chapel, around to Palouse highway again, back to Glenrose and home. This is a long loop for most, but not for a guy used to the roads of France and Central America.

Lastly, nicknames. I heard Rider Two call him Scooter a couple of times while we were riding. Scott allowed that his nickname was Scooter, but he wasn't really sure why, particularly since it had been an older brother's nickname at one time but had transferred to him. Even though it doesn't have a great story with it, since it is a childhood nickname, we will accept it.

Welcome to the team, Scooter. Glad to have you aboard.
Rider Three

Quote of the Day

Last week I actually got onto my bike. No, please, your applause isn't necessary. is wont to happen, the ride was filled with the the usual chatter and story telling that earmarks most of Team Two Wheel's training rides. And Rider 2, a.k.a Quicksilver, passed along one of the funnier things I've heard him say in a while.

Rider 2 was recently at dinner with a couple of other riding friends. The topic of a new 10-speed cassette that was recently launched came up. (and they wonder why their wives/girlfriends never want to join...)

Evidently the conversation went something like this.

Friend #1 "So, I heard Shimano is coming out with a new cassette ratio."

Friend #2 "Oh yeah, what's the story?"

Friend #1 "They're going to have an 11-29. So it should be good for us." (Evidently they were poking fun at themselves, and an alleged need for smaller gears.)

MR #2 "Hey Quicksilver, what do you think about that, will you ride a 29 this year?"

Now, at this point in the story you have to understand this made us chuckle. QS is known to push monster gears uphill. It's not pretty, but is pretty impressive. I've never seen him ride with a cog bigger than a 23, and have rarely seen him actually use it.

Anyway, Quicksilver's response:
"I think that if you need a 29, you don't need an 11."

Truth. And funny!
Rider One

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We interupt the regularly scheduled Blog

I thought that mechBgon/Tom McFadden's write up of his Washington State Road Race Championship race warranted its own space on this blog, so here it is repeated from its original home:

I was in the Masters C group, since I'm a 39-year-old Cat5. We started at 10:30AM and the temperature wasn't peaking yet. The wind was also not as strong as it would become later. I hadn't gotten much warmup time (other than sweeping the corner with a push broom ;)), so I was glad of the neutral hill climb.

When we got to the top and the racing began, I was "riding the bus" somewhere near the middle of the pack, which is a little frustrating because if someone went off the front, it'd take a long time to get free if I wanted to go. Thankfully, the pack stayed together. We passed the Finish line, turned left onto Wood Road, and the change of wind direction made my right-flank position a bad one.

After hitting the high point on Wood Road, we began descending towards the next left turn when Ron Belfis (SRV) had a sudden flat rear tire. He managed to get stopped safely despite being right at the core of the pack, but I felt bad for Ron :(

Then we turned left onto Coulee Hite Road and caught the tailwind, went flying down the grade into the valley, and after a couple minutes there's a tap on my hip. Ron was back! :) The neutral-support car swapped him a wheel and motorpaced him back to us (still not an easy task, especially with his high gear now consisting of a 50x12 thanks to the wheel change!). So that was cool :)

But at this point, I was still stuck near the back of the "bus," we were coming up to the big hill again, and it seemed likely that some of the racers would make their key move on the hill. So I was all, ??? how am I going to get unboxed in time-- Ahhh, I know!

I remembered that at the place marked with the red arrow, Coulee Hite Road suddenly develops a shoulder. I was on the right side of the pack, so as soon as the shoulder presented itself, I accelerated and passed probably 20 people on the outside, putting me close enough to the front for my purposes. We hit the climb, but no one threw down any heroic moves yet. At this point, I should've guzzled a waterbottle so I could swap for a full one when we reached the feed zone, but I didn't.

Once up top, it appeared we'd lost about 1/3 of the pack, but it still wasn't going to be simple to cover breaks. Joel tried to get one going, but his wheelman wouldn't pull through. The other one that I specifically recall is when Royce made a break and some riders bridged up to him; I thought that one might stick, but the pack followed the next bridger up and reabsorbed them after a few minutes. We were still a few miles from the Finish line, with one more lap to go after we passed it.

After his break, Royce filtered back and asked how I was feeling. I felt all right, having been pretty passive up 'til then. We discussed strategy; I'd been thinking to conserve energy until the final trip up the big climb, then try to make a decisive move, but Royce pointed out that everyone else would probably be doing the same, and hinted that a break might be worth a try.

So I was thinking about that, when I got towards the left edge of the pack and oh look, Paul Main (Team Two Wheel) was maybe 100 meters out front, solo. I saw Royce spooling up to go join him, and I went too. Coming up on Paul, I yelled "hey Paul! Grab on!" and he dropped onto our wheel. We were probably 5k from the Finish area. The pack didn't seem to be responding, maybe judging this to be another short-lived feint.

By the time we came through the Finish area, I was in bad shape. Heart rate mid-180s, breathing raggedly, barely hanging onto Paul's wheel and temporarily unable to pull. So when we came to Wood Road, I was attempting to not blow sky-high on my pull, when Royce cracked the whip ;D "FULL GAS, TOM! Give it everything you've got!" And he was right, because with Baddlands, Emde and a group of State Championship contenders bent on catching us, it was going to take some real work to stay clear. And there was still 20 miles to go.

Coming up to the left turn onto Coulee Hite Road, I lost Royce's wheel and couldn't get back on. We made the left, the tailwind kicked in, and Royce dropped speed a little so I could get back. Then we hauled downwind, down the grade at 45mph+, and were pulling at ~30-33mph down the valley. Turning the corner from Coulee Hite back onto Four Mound, for the final trip up the big climb, I knew I had a problem: my calves were knotting up :o Looking across the fields, we saw the pack coming through the S-bend. *JAWS music*

Up the climb we went. Paul was head-down on the hoods, pulling ahead slightly. Royce was sounding pretty hammered, alternating in & out of the saddle. I was grinding along in the saddle (hmm, maybe the 39-23 is a tad tall after all...). We reached the feed zone and people were still handing out bottles. I thought we weren't supposed to feed on the last climb, but I guess they didn't know. Royce handed one over to me, and I got a gulp before going to stow it, but then the Official's Car came up and they said "sorry guys" so I handed over the bottle, feeling sheepish (although slightly annoyed that just when we finally could use a feed zone, it's not supposed to be used).

So at the top of the climb, Royce and I regrouped with Paul. On the long straight-stretch of the climb, I'd seen the pack in my helmet mirror, and knew that we were probably a minute ahead, so my plan was ok, I'll try to give good pulls to keep us clear of the chase, then Royce and Paul can settle the sprint. Meanwhile, my calves were getting worse cramps, the kind where you feel like a lockup is imminent.

However, at around the 3k mark, I looked around and Royce wasn't there, just Paul. Unbeknownst to me, Royce had cramped up and had to stop to deal with the cramp. My own cramps were subsiding, however. We reached the point where I knew it was all downhill to the Finish area, and I pulled for the rest of the way, appreciating that our break wouldn't have made it without Paul's dogged work :) Coming into the Finish line, the road began to go uphill, and Paul was echeloned on my right. I picked up speed in the saddle a bit and then sprinted from maybe 150m. Paul was edging up on my right, and given another 50m he might've taken it, but I didn't give up and I think I was ahead by a wheel. Maybe less...

Then it was time to guzzle some water and head back to the Start area to marshal the corner of Four Mound & Coulee Hite until about 5PM. I discovered that there are limits to even SPF 50 sunscreen, especially in light of my receding hairline! >:( Ok, next year I'm bringing a hat :P

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Team Mates - Meet mechBgon

The 2nd of our Ambassador team mates, meaning that this rider will fly the flag of another team for road racing, but will mountain bike race (mostly) for Team Two Wheel, is Two Wheel Transit employee Tom McFadden. You can be a customer of Two Wheel Transit for years and not necessarily know for sure that "Tom" exists, because he is referred to in the shop with great regularity, but he is in the basement working away on bikes from morning to nigh, with only a rare daylight appearance to grab a part upstairs to prove that he really exists. But trust me, Tom does exist. I know because I have not only entered the underground lair, but I have been on rides with Tom; most memorably, a daylight tour of the Midnight Century Course duly memorialized here: Midnight-Century-Daylight-Version.

So, as promised, I asked Tom the same questions I asked everyone on the team. Here are his answers.

Personal Biographical Information - I grew up in Alaska, came to Spokane as a kid, attended high school at Gonzaga Prep with an affinity for sciences, then went on to WSU to study Chemical Engineering and worked at Al's Schwinn in the summers. In 2001 I made a 5-year career change to being an all-purpose Information Technology guy, earned three Microsoft MVP awards for my efforts in helping others in the online community at a large computer forum, then went back to being a bike mechanic. So far I've worked at Al's Schwinn (out of biz), Two Wheel Transit (fired on my first trip through), Garland Cycle (out of biz), Columbia Cycle (out of biz, am I the kiss of death or what?), Wheelsport South, and now back to Two Wheel Transit. Oh, and I'm a 41-year-old hermit antisocial type :)

Personal preferences:
Cats --x----------------------------- Dogs
Road --------------------x---------- XC mountain
Dowhhill --------------------------x XC
Beer -------------------------------x Chocolate milk
Mac --------------------------------x Windows
TV ----------------------------------x Internet
Car ---------------------------------x Car-free
Wal-mart -------------------------x Fred Meyer

Cycling bio: I liked to ride as a kid, and commuted to grade school and usually to high school by bike. Since G-Prep was across the city from us, I also got very accustomed to riding in traffic on arterials, and dealing with issues like visibility. When I was at WSU, I sometimes would ride home for the weekend, then ride back Sunday night, and got very comfortable riding on the highway with big trucks. By this point I was already an irreversible fan of helmet mirrors too (Editor's note - Rumor is that he won a State Road Race Championship with a helmet mirror affixed).

In the '90s I began to ride mountain bikes, mostly on the South Hill bluff, and entered my first bike race at 49° North as a Beginner-class racer on a full-rigid bike. I was intimidated by the nicer bikes the other guys had, but easily got the holeshot at the first bottleneck and went on to win by nearly 7 minutes. Encouraged by that, I raced Sport class at a NORBA National at Mt. Spokane, but a confused course marshal mistakenly told me I'd gone off-course (I hadn't), so I ended up 3rd of the riders who'd actually gone the right way, instead of the Beginner-class route. I did a few more XC races but then had a hiatus of many years.

In 2009, I did some of the Twilight Series road races, which were my first road races. I moved to the B pack after the first race, then the A's after a few more. Tactically I had no savvy at all, and never felt that competitive in the A's... this is what I like about XC mountain-bike racing, there's no need for savvy, it's just one big VO2-max test :) Anyway, I was talked into racing in the 2009 Masters state RR championship by my SRV comrades, and we fielded five riders just in my pack, so when Royce and I joined Paul (aka Rider Two) for this epic 3-man 25-mile breakaway, we had three teammates to block for us, and you know how that all went down, but here's my writeup:

Also in 2009, I did four of the Wednesday-night XC races in Riverside, which was super-fun. I was pretty upset when it sounded like they weren't going to do them for 2010, but they did, and I went to all six including two back-to-back days in the mud. I raced the non-Masters age group to make it more challenging, and only took one 1st place on a day when Kevin Bradford-Parish, Mike Gaertner and Eric Anderson all didn't show up, but ended up winning the series just by high places every week.

Oh, and in 2009 I did the Midnight Century and it was a huge adrenaline rush. I trained for it in 2010 and was gunning for low 5-hour range, but as you know, I ended up piloting a group of three and had to hold the pace down a bit in the "middle 50" of the route.

For 2011, I'm looking forward to the Wednesday-night series again, where I plan to fly the Two Wheel Transit colors. I'm also going to do the Midnight Century again, as the unofficial Distributor Of The Smiley-Faces, and will be going solo this time, although anyone's welcome to as much draft as they want :)

Favorite Rides, etc. - In terms of a ride I could do routinely, I like the Hangman Loop (road) and the 24-hour course (off-road). For more "epic-rated" rides I'd say round-trip to the top of Mt. Spokane (road) and the Midnight Century route (mixed).

Other favorites - Doing the 24-hour race with the North Division Bike Shop team, who three-peated in the 10-person corporate division last year.

-I like night mountain riding as much as daytime.

-I tentatively plan to instigate a weekly XC ride oriented towards training

And lastly, on nicknames, here is the word from TM - As for a name/alias, I've used the online nickname mechBgon for nearly everything, so that should suffice for this too. No one calls me that in real life, although we do sometimes critique visibility equipment (lights, reflectors) in terms of whether they're "mechBgon-approved".

We will have to find out another time just what mechBgon means, because it sounds suspiciously like a Transformers name to me, which would explain a few things about Tom. In any case, we are glad to have him aboard the team and look forward to seeing him at the start and finish lines of a few mountain bike races (no, I'm not close enough to see him anywhere else).
Rider Three

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Team Mates - LC - Miss Clairol

As previously previewed, Team Two Wheel is picking up some additional riders. We have a total of 5 guys who will be riding and racing exclusively as Team Two Wheel, and we have 2 more that are un-officially official team mates, but only in a limited capacity. More simply, they will race some disciplines for another team, but will be representing Two Wheel Transit and the team in other race formats or at local cycling events.

One of those people is Lynn Creager. You will notice immediately a few things about the prior sentence. One is that it is a short, declarative sentence. Those are rare around here. (See what I did - I made another short, declarative sentence to note the absence of them. LOL!). The next is that it is a real name and not a silly pseudonym. Third is that it could be a girl's name. All of these are noteworthy in their differences from prior practices. Let's just say it is a new world out there, and not in the One World Government/Black Helicopter way.

In order to provide a brief introduction to everyone, I asked each teammate three brief questions. Please provide some personal bio information. Please provide some cycling bio information. And tell me your favorite local ride. Lastly, I also asked them about nicknames. I was intending to amalgamate or mutilate the responses, but I thought that each said something about the rider, so here are the responses, largely unedited.

On nicknames, however, Lynn had a funny story. Her nickname among at least a few fellow female riders is Wella Clairol, which she was dubbed after a spectacular flameout of a sprint in which she started a bit too soon and faded way too soon. In other words, as only a group familiar with the properties of such things, she faded like a bad hair dye job. Great story, great nickname, so Lynn, were hereby officially grant you your Team Two Wheel nickname - Miss Clairol.

Here are Lynn's responses to my other questions.

Personal bio information - Lynn grew up in a suburb of New York City. After college and 6 years working in Manhattan, she moved to Spokane in 1994 in search of a saner lifestyle. She works as a sales manager at KAYU FOX 28 TV and lives in South Spokane with her husband and 3 Labradors.

Cycling bio information - Lynn discovered cycling through triathlon. A runner and swimmer when she moved to Spokane, she decided to take on road cycling so she could participate in triathlons. After several years of racing tris from sprint up to Ironman distance, she realized she was enjoying the hours on the bike much more than those spent in the pool or pounding the pavement. She has since pedaled thousands of miles around the northwest on her custom titanium Hampsten road bike (Ed. Note - Made famous in The Slice). Last summer, she started road racing as a member of the local Zuster team. This fall, after falling in love with a Pinarello cyclocross bike at Two Wheel Transit, Lynn raced the Inland NW Cyclocross series. In addition to cycling, Lynn cross country skis and practices ashtanga yoga.

Favorite local ride? Hard to pick just one. Any route south that takes you out Valley Chapel Rd. and onto the rural roads that loop around Rockford, Spangle, Rosalia and Cheney.

Well, Lynn, there are worse things than admitting you were a triathlete before becoming a cyclist. I can't think of one right now, but I know there are. In any case, thanks for joining the team for community events and non-race applications. We are looking forward to riding together.
Rider Three

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shifting - Back to the Future - Part 2

In our last installment of Shifting - Back to the Future we described the unique requirements for shifting and braking for local racer Rick Matthew's bicycle.  Here is the project that resulted from a brief conversation and the way in which the requirements were met using Shimano Di2 technology.

After gathering more details, we approached Rick this fall with a proposal for a collaborative R&D project using Di2 to further customize his bike for his specific needs.   He graciously agreed to be our test subject and the project was born.  Over the next few weeks, we discussed what would be his ideal setup, took measurements, observed him on his bike and an overall design began to take shape.

Remote switches control front and rear shifting

His left prosthesis grasps the left side of the bars and helps support his weight.  It does not give him a lot of control for steering so it is important to minimize the amount his right hand has to be moved or taken off of the bars for control and stability.  It appeared that 2 sets of shift switches mounted on top of the bars next to the stem would put the shifting within a compact area easily reached by his thumb and reducing the need to move his hand. 

It took a couple of months to get the design finalized, the parts from Shimano and the bike set-up. Rick saw it for the first time this week and was pretty happy to say the least. Now he can shift front and rear derailleurs with just his thumb and within a range of motion of 4.25 centimeters or less with the same amount of pressure as it takes to depress a key on a computer keyboard.

Rear shifting is also controlled from the rt lever/switches
Both brakes are operated simultaneously with a splitter off of the right brake lever and the lever also has outboard switches to provide up and down shifting on the rear derailleur.

The initial tests indicate that system can be adapted to a very diverse set of rider needs. An obvious application is to use a similar setup for riders suffering from arthritis or other causes of joint pain and stiffness - Di2 would provide welcome assistance in those instances.
Here is a short clip of Rick in action - he seems to be enjoying the new setup.

We view the use of Di2 in an adaptive technology role as a very natural extension of Two Wheel Transit's fit services so we will continue to explore the limits and capabilities of the system. The current pricing for a Dura Ace Di2 system is about $4,500 thus beyond what many can afford or wish to invest.  Shimano has not yet confirmed an Ultegra version that will do the same thing, but there are some very credible sources indicating that it will be available for 2012 for about $2,600 for the entire Ultegra Di2 groupo.  This should make it less of a stretch for people who need this type of assistance to ride longer, more comfortably and safely.

We want to thank Rick Matthews for his willingness to partner with us on this project and wish him well this riding and racing season.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Case in Point

In Some Trainer Magic - Part 2 a couple of weeks ago, I stated "What speed does not tell you relates to what your body is doing to get to that point.  Just riding at 20 mph for an hour each session does not give you feedback about your fitness level."  I was reminded of that statement early in a session on my trainer this week.

In sessions early in the month I could maintain an average speed of 20 mph for 1 hour at an average heart rate of 146 beats per minute.  That translates to an estimated 250 Watts of continuous power.  By itself this data is not particularly meaningful, but it does provide a baseline of effectiveness of my training efforts.  With the exception of adding Yoga to my weekly regimen and an outdoor ride or two, I have not changed much.  

This morning, my body was trying to tell me something as I spun.  I was having trouble even maintaining 19.5 mph and my heart rate was about 144 on average at that speed.  This is on the same bike, with the same gearing, on the same trainer in the same basement that I have been riding all winter, yet my power output was only 244.8 Watts on average.  This obviously translated to a lower average speed for the session.  I can't tell exactly what my body was saying, but it got my attention.  This is why it is important to have some objective measure (like heart rate) to get a glimpse of what is happening in your body.

  • Was it nutrition - sitting on the couch eating BBQ meatballs and Goldfish during the Super Bowl?
  • Emotional - being subjected to the deplorable performance of the Black Eyed Peas during the half-time show?
  • Over training - not likely.
  • Sinusitis?
  • Result of a lot of climbing on ride Saturday?

It could have been any or all of the above - the important thing is to pay attention and look for trends.  If it is an anomaly then you should see speed go back up again without a corresponding increase in heart rate.  If it continues, then start looking at different factors to see if you can isolate variables.  Take 2 or 3 days off and try the workout again - if it is better then you may not be devoting enough time to rest and recovery. This observation will help you train better, by finding the factors that either hinder or boost your performance.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Team Two Wheel Team Update

Team Two Wheel blog (Editor's Note-Team blog, not Shop blog) - Not timely, but always accurate. Local TV news weather - Always timely, but never accurate. Which would you rather have? I thought so. Bill Kelly - hit the bricks!

Team composition - 5 racers + 2 riders. Or 5 full-timers + 2 part-timers. Or 5 people only on 1 team + 2 people on 2 teams. Or something like that.

We have five guys who will be riding and racing this year as Team Two Wheel. You have been introduced to Rider One, Rider 2 and Rider Three, but you haven't met Scooter and you haven't met the other guy who just joined yesterday and doesn't have a nickname yet.

In addition, we will have two more people that are committed to racing on the road for other teams but that will be riding as part of Team Two Wheel for mountain bike racing and as cycling ambassadors at community events, shop rides and so on and so forth. By the way, I don't have nicknames for them yet either. But don't worry. That will come in time.

On to sponsors. This year we have an extraordinary six sponsors. Our main sponsor, Two Wheel Transit, you know and love. It turns out that you will also know and love another one or two of our sponsors, but we aren't ready to unveil them quite yet. Hopefully we will be able to do so with the design of the jersey and a few words about them. So, stay tuned for another blog post that will not be timely, but will be accurate. When we get around to letting you in on our secrets. Soon.
Rider Three

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Taking Bike Fit to the Next Level

Last weekend I attended another bike fitting seminar to further expand my knowledge of bike fitting. This one was held by BikeFit Systems and taught by Kit Vogel and Paul Swift who developed the program. It was an intense weekend, going non stop basically from 8-5 on Saturday and Sunday with a half hour off for lunch. 

This was a seminar designed specifically for health professionals and all but one other attendee was a physical therapist. I was pretty much the class dummy when it came to knowing which muscle is effected by what movement. In terms of riders, we had a great variety from a pro mountain bike racer to a touring cyclist with a trans America tour under her belt to a triathlete who has completed over 10 triathlons.

The basics of the BikeFit training was very similar to what I have already learned. Starting with saddle height and saddle fore/aft position and then on to stem adjustments to get the rider in a good riding position. BikeFit goes from there to work more with the foot/pedal interface. They focus in detail on the alignment of foot and knee. 

By using inside the shoe wedges and/or cleat wedges to create a straighter up and down motion for the knee. The idea being that this is a more efficient transfer of power from the rider to the bike. This is done by looking at each foot and leg separately and making adjustments to the pedals, cleats and shoes. After each adjustment, the pedal cycle is reassessed and the feel to the rider. The goal is to get a smooth up and down pedal stroke with the pressure of the power stroke distributed evenly across the forefoot. In the top left picture, I am placing a marker on the riders knee so that we can judge using a laser how his knee moves as he pedals. 

On the right, I am presenting a fit to the class. Even though each group got to do 4 fits, by presenting our process, we each effectively doubled our experience. A great learning weekend for me and I am digesting the information and deciding how to integrate it into our fit process.


Monday, February 7, 2011

A Brave New World

You will notice a change next time you roll into Two Wheel Transit - more computers.  Yup, the old cash register is gone and has been replaced by a point-of-sale terminal with a wireless scanner.  This helps us provide better customer service with more accurate information on items in-stock or on order as well as getting purchases wrung-up faster.  Work orders are now electronic as well and tied to purchase orders so we can track the status of customer repairs without running all over the shop.  We also will be doing regular cycle counts to identify any errors that have crept into the quantity on-hand detail and should not have to close for an annual inventory again next year.

As with any new system, there is a steep leaning curve for all of us so please be patient if it seems we are a little hesitant when working with the screens.  We are also asking for name, phone number and email address of our regular customers.  This is not to be snoopy or intrusive, it just helps find things for customers faster and provides a means of notifying when work is done or in rare cases delayed.

What will not change is our appreciation of our customers, outstanding service, attention to detail, excellent repair work and turn-around, fun and fair place with which to do business.  Thank you again for your support.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shifting - Back to the Future - Part 1

We are pretty fortunate to work in a bike shop.  Each day people come in with a need or a dream and we work with them in various ways to meet one or both.  Sometimes it is correcting a bike fit issue, meeting a goal of weight loss, improved health, nutrition, the joy of recreation or reducing a carbon footprint - all through cycling.  Regardless of the reason, we enjoy helping people with something we all love.  Once in a while, a particular customer or project becomes personal.  One such project started as a pretty simple conversation of an uncompleted ride under deplorable conditions and turned into a fulfilling project.

Rick Matthews is a local racer who rides for Baddlands Cycling Club.  He is a very strong rider with an exemplary work ethic who has blown by me as if I was standing still out on the road.  Rick has always been an outdoor stud and was in an accident back in 1981 where the mast on a Catamaran he was moving contacted a high voltage electrical line. In the resulting electrocution he lost most of his left arm and his right hand damaged with limited feeling, flexibility and range of motion.  In the years since, he made a remarkable recovery and returned to his lifestyle of an outdoor stud.  He wears a prosthetic limb (a very sharp carbon fiber 2x2 weave) on his left arm that terminates in a split hook and has about 5% of what is considered normal function in his right hand.

The past few years he has been training and racing on a slightly modified Cervelo Soloist with all the braking and shifting on the right side of the handle bars.  We are fortunate in that he frequents our shop and trusts us to repair and maintain his bike.  Last summer, he stopped in to pick up a repair and started the conversation that led to this unique project.

Rick was describing riding the 2010 STOKR in western Montana and how day-long freezing rain and snow forced him to abandon the ride before the finish.  Not because it was miserable (which is why I would have abandoned) but because the cold was affecting his right hand for gripping, shifting and braking to the point of it becoming a safety issue.  He was not whining or complaining, just describing the effect on his riding.

For days after I kept thinking about our conversation and whether we could find a shifting system that would improve the safety and function of Rick's bike with his unique needs of having everything accessible on the right side of the handle bars. We had already developed the fit services for Two Wheel Transit around the concept that bicycles should be adapted to their rider rather that making the rider adapt to the bike.  Why couldn't we extend that philosophy to shifting as well? One day I slipped and hit my head in the bathroom while hanging a clock and it finally dawned on me that the capabilities of Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting System would allow Rick to shift both derailleurs by pressing switches rather than moving levers - all with no more pressure than it takes to click a computer mouse.  Adapting this shifting system for Rick would merely be an extension of the shop's bike fitting services.

The more I researched, the more I was convinced Di2 would be the ticket.  My view of the value of technology is always through the lens of whether it improves safety, accessibility or quality of life - otherwise who cares?  In this case Di2 would achieve all 3 (a technological trifecta) by putting the shifting exactly where easiest to reach and remove the mechanical aspect with the use of electric switches. 

At first glance, Di2 equipment looks very much like regular Dura Ace with the exception of a battery, and wires in place of shifting cables.  Shifting is accomplished by moving a paddle behind either brake lever or moving either of the brake levers inward depending whether shifting front/rear, or up/ down.  

On closer inspection there are now switches which require far less pressure and movement to accomplish the same shifts.  On a regular system the movement or throw required to shift was measured in centimeters.  With Di2 the throw is no more than a couple of millimeters and at far lower forces. Shifts are accomplished with powerful electric motors located in each derailleur.  Think of it in terms of the effort of manually opening a garage door versus pressing the button and having an electric garage door opener raise the door. This would give Rick the ability to shift the rear derailleur quickly and accurately despite compromised strength, flexibility and feeling in his right hand.

The stock configuration would be a benefit for his rear shifting but the issue of front shifting still remained.  Shimano provided a possible solution with its design of the remote shifting switch.  This switch can be placed almost anywhere on the handlebars and controls either the front or rear derailluer based on which brake lever it is plugged into.

The next step was to find a way to make it happen.  Stay tuned for Part 2 for the rest of the story.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

GU Cycling Club Hang Last Night

I had the good fortune of getting to hang-out at David's Pizza last night with several members of the 2011 Gonzaga University Cycling Club.  Two Wheel Transit is proud to be a major sponsor of the club this year and we look forward to having team members on shop rides and other events throughout the year.  Not only for their racing and riding abilities, but for the joy of hanging with some truly outstanding individuals.  They have some great stories from recent races and they tell them with enthusiasm punctuated by very realistic sound effects.

The reason for the gathering (if one was needed) was that the new team kits had arrived this week and this was a chance to show them off and distribute them to team members.  Two of the team members caused quite a stir at the shop yesterday when they came in with a box of the Club jerseys we had ordered for the shop.  In addition to customers coveting the new jerseys, the employees were quite smitten with them as well.

If you have not seen the design, it is quite sharp with a somewhat classic look.  The color combinations and layout are fetching as well and will really make the team members stand-out visually in the peloton, on the podium, break-aways and just milling about.  Tomas has already mannequinized one of the jerseys and has it on display in the shop.  We also have about a dozen for sale in various sizes for men and women.  

Speaking of clean looks - the iron bars over the windows have been removed (Mr. Gobachev, Tear Down This Wall!) and the visual effect on the shop is remarkable.  We can't wait for the first sunny day for all of that light to come streaming-in and illuminate all the hard work they guys have been doing in terms of cleaning and organizing.

Thank you to all of the great sponsors of this team - it wouldn't be possible without them.  We wish the Club the best this riding season and are proud to be associated with a great group of riders.  Makes you optimistic for the future just hanging around with them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Above All - Be Flexible

So it is raining and snowing like crazy back east and Punxsutwney Phil stuck his furry head out this morning.  As a result, he did not see his shadow, and has predicted that it will be an early spring.  Now everyone will be champing at the bit to get back out on the road.  While it is really cold here, most people are happily spinning indoors and occasionally sneaking outside when the roads are ice-free.  

I did the latter last Saturday and found that I did not feel as comfortable and fluid off-road as I remembered being this summer - in short, I was stiff and lacked balance.  It got me thinking of how best to restore flexibility and balance and I remembered my Yoga for Athletes DVD by Rodney Yee.  After digging around the house for 30 minutes, I found the DVD and headed downstairs for a session.  The only DVD capable machine we have down there is the Xbox 360, so I spent 10 minutes with the game controller pressing A, B, X, Y and Fire trying to figure out how to make it play.  All the while the screen was inviting me to try a new game or chat online with iRule_Xbox (don't these people have a job?)

Finally, I got it going and confirmed my worst fears regarding my lost flexibility and balance for the next hour.  I like this routine because it involves a lot of twisting and stretching poses -up/down, front/back and left/right.   It also includes lunges and back back bends to open-up the hips, groin and front of your torso where in addition to hamstrings, cyclists are notoriously tight.  Other poses strengthen the core which helps you pedal more efficiently while maintaining the health of your low back.  All of which will help to avoid imbalances that can lead to injury later in the season when you really start cranking-up the miles.  There are also bonus poses for cyclists that you can do after long rides.

Finally, the workout has 3 people on screen demonstrating modifications to the pose if you can't do the complete pose.  So you try and follow one of the 3 instructors based on your level.  I am not sure what this says about me, but in my case it was the guy named Chris with a Mohawk and nipple rings - I am hoping to graduate to following Rodney in the near future.

In addition to staying shape over the winter with spinning and weights, consider adding yoga 2 - 3 times per week to keep you flexible and balanced - it will pay dividends later in the season.

David Byrne Journal

Those of you in the world who are the right age or who have had proper educations, know who David Byrne is. To synopsize, he was Scot turned American, art student turned alt rocker (before there was a thing called alt rock when it was called college radio rock), and lead singer of the Talking Heads which was the last band that was really "cool" in a very purposeful way (not like Arcade Fire's lazy-talented Canadian way or Kings of Leon southern we're-all-related in the hill country way). Anyway, since breaking up the Talking Heads, David Byrne has become an idiosyncratic bon vivant, world beat promoter and bicycle advocate. It is a strange transition, but if you put aside the smugness, it seems to work.

The whole point to this? David Byrne does a periodic blog journal that last week included some cool information about "Barclay bikes" in London. Click on the link for the pictures, but here are the words.

David Byrne Journal

1.21.11 - London
Posted: 25 Jan 2011 03:37 PM PST

I went to London this week to do a couple of days of press and promotion for Ride, Rise, Roar—the concert doc on my last tour that Hillman Curtis directed. One piece I did before I got there, for the Sunday Times Magazine, will come out this weekend, and they have a headline that apparently quotes me saying, “Simon Cowell is the Antichrist.” Ah, the British press, always taking the high road. The Times, lest one forget, is owned by a Mr. Murdoch, and was once a venerable, though incredibly stodgy, paper (WSJ—your days are numbered). They were so reserved, in a British sort of way, that they didn’t run news on the front page—ugh, too garish and unbecoming! How Times have changed. I was sent an advance copy and had a jolt—Did I really say that? It doesn’t sound like something I’d say! Then, hours later, I seemed to remember saying something like “The Sex Pistols are not the antichrist [a reference to one of their lyrics]; Simon Cowell is the antichrist.” By which I meant to convey that the devil will not arrive in an obvious way—as a snarling beast or as an anarchist rebel, that would be too easy—but as a smooth corporate dealmaker. I didn’t read any more of the article, so I have no idea what other mischief they may have stirred up.

After two days of almost non-stop talking, I had a full day off (though in the evening there would be a screening and I would do a Q&A afterwards). I decided to try what are referred to here as Boris Bikes—a bike hire system (the mayor of London’s name is Boris) that was recently installed. It is modeled after the French Velib system. Barclays Bank is a sponsor (Boris sold naming rights of the program for £25 million, officially naming the system Barclays Cycle Hire) so they get prominently placed ads on the mudguards and bag holder. Would a US bank do the same? One Goldman Sachs exec’s bonus would probably cover a whole city’s worth of these things.

Anyway, here’s how they do—and sometimes don’t—work.

They have hundreds of these stations in central London, with most stations only a few blocks from one another. There is an online map, a print map and a downloadable PDF that shows where they all are.

There was a station behind my hotel, so that’s where I went first. If you are a subscriber you have an electronic key, which is sent to you, and you insert it into a docking point and a bike is released. If you are a foreigner or “casual user,” as I am, you go to the touch screen, agree to terms—as you would on any online purchase—swipe your debit or credit card, and you’re given a simple number code, which will unlock the bike from the holder.

£1 for 24 hours, no charge for the first half hour and then charges that ramp up after that. This is to encourage fairly short trips—all of mine were, it turned out, under 30 minutes, so I wasn’t charged for time. Hundreds of pounds if a bike is not returned.

Of course, if you’re riding out of the current coverage area in the central city you’re screwed. But presumably the system will expand to Hackney and Shepherd’s Bush. You soon get the concept—that you are meant to drop your bike near your destination, and then pick up a new one at that station when you make your return trip. If both trips are under 30 minutes there are no charges. That afternoon I made 5 trips—hopping from gallery to museum to lunch joint, and it worked with only a few hitches. All legs of my trip were under 30 minutes.
The bikes themselves are sturdy (as you’d expect), with only 3 gears—London has few hills, so it turns out 3 gears is plenty. There are fenders and mudguards, a bell, and front and rear lights that work automatically—powered by a turbine on the wheel hub. They’re heavy beasts—so carrying them up some stairs to a bridge, as I did, was a thing, but on the roads I kept up with the folks on their own bikes, so didn’t feel at a disadvantage.

Problems—yes, there are some. The first time I tried to rent a bike at the station near my hotel it couldn’t read my card. A local arrived, and it didn’t read his stick either. I called the help line to alert them, and the next day it was working (I walked a few blocks to the next station the first day). Usage patterns generate their own set of problems. One station near an art gallery I went to in the Mayfair district was full—there was nowhere to leave my bike, and the clock was ticking! This happened again at another station (Barbican) and I had to once more seek a station a few blocks further away. Likewise, I’ve heard that some stations are more popular than others, and all the bikes are quickly taken. In Paris and Montreal there are trucks that ferry bikes too and fro to remedy this situation. I heard that in Paris no one rides up to the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, but once there everyone grabs a bike and rides down the hill, so the station at the top is continually running out of bikes. The bikes have fat tires, so street bumps are cushioned a bit. One bike I had needed some gear adjustment—though it still worked. None had flats and all were clean and in good shape.

I saw lots of locals riding them—it’s becoming an accepted way of getting around here. While I was there the weather stayed dry, so I was spared dealing with the British rain. I have a feeling the locals are always prepared with collapsible nylon rain ponchos always ready in their bags. It was incredibly efficient—London traffic, despite congestion pricing, is still painfully slow at some times of day. The streets wind and meander, so a bike is often as fast as a cab, and way faster than the tube or a bus on shorter trips.