Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pro Vino' - one of the better race analysis I've seen

From a blog that I'm going to start following more regularly, here is a great post that really captures how I wish Versus covered bike racing. Of course, post-race analysis gets the time to re-watch and piece together all the parts that made (or didn't) make the race work. But Cosmo Catalano knows his bike racing and knows what makes a race.

This video on Cyclocosm is a good rebuttal for those more interested in Vino's doping than his riding. He's not David Millar and thank god, because we already have one of those.

Now for something completely different. I just starting using Cadmus to helping organize my Twitter feeds. Drawing from your Twitter followers, Cadmus groups together trending topics so that you can see what your friends are conversing about. It's a great social media tool that makes Twitter a lot more focused and useful, especially for smaller businesses and organizations looking to get the most out of their social media presence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When can/should we believe cyclists?

After winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège last weekend for the second time, Vino called his victory "revenge."

Revenge for what? Revenge against whom?  And why is Vinokourov - who was pretty quiet during his two year suspension - so vocal now? Is this guilt speaking? Another cover-up?

All the news outlets have been all over his victory with headlines like "Vino's victory overshadowed by questions about his past" (Cycling News), "Vinokourov's Liege win leaves mixed emotions" (Cycling Weekly UK) and even the truly classy The New York Times published an article more about the doping controversy than Vino's race.

He's riding the same as a he did two years ago, aggressive, unforgiving and really f-ing hard. So how can we tell the difference between the clean Vino and the doped-up cyclist?

I get that both Bjarne Riis and David Millar have launched effective counters to their doping pasts that don't (completely) overshadow them every time they show up for a race. But Millar's never reached the individual success he had when he was doped to the gills. And like Vino, both men only admitted to doping/"mistakes of the past" AFTER it was clear that they had. 

So is that the price you pay for risking everything to end up with an asterisk next to your name in the history books?  I'd like to hear Vino respond to that. Because that asterisk seems like the best revenge against a doper. A little star saying that weren't strong enough to do it alone. You paid for your strength. You didn't have what it took.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep buying decorations like these cool Far and Near Housing Covers for my bike that aren't really necessary and don't make me fast but look really cool anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Come and Gone"

I saw a friend had gotten a copy of Joe Parkin's follow-up to "Dog in a Hat," and I borrowed/stole the book for the weekend. She's going to write a review of "Come and Gone" for a cycling magazine and has to get all articulate and prose-y to talk about it. I do not.

I wish I could tell you it was good. At best, it's ok. And ok is the best word to describe Parkin's book. Parkin sticks so closely to the story line of only talking about bike racing and his career, that it gets kinda boring at times. And that's too bad because Joe Parkin sounds like an interesting guy. Every other page is a failure or letdown in cycling. The book could be called "Bummer Life" for all the bummed-outness. Yeah, cycling is a lot of work and sacrifice and dedication... but I still don't get why Parkin decide to commit so many years of his life to the sport. Where was the reward or whatever sustained him throughout all the crap?

After finishing the book, I thought about one of my favorite books about sports "The Amateurs" by David Halberstam, and how it's also a story about disappointment, failed potential and sacrifice. But the books are so different: at the end of "Come and Gone," I felt like I knew very little about Joe Parkin as a person while at the end of Halberstam's book I was blown away. You knew each rower, their family, their personal life (what little there was) outside of their sport, and it made their own struggles that much more compelling.  I already know cycling is hard. But I really want to see how hard.

It's not a bad book. Hopefully more racers will start writing this type of honest, unromantic stuff about bike racing. But I just wanted more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'd Livestrong for that: 24 Hours of Booty

Was out on a ride with some friends last weekend and saw a dude wearing a cycling jersey with "24 Hours of Booty" across the back. You have to stop and ask about that, right? So we flagged him down and got the story. As it turns out, "24 Hours of Booty" is not a euphemism for weekend with Tiger Woods but a 24 hour bike ride to benefit the Livestrong Foundation that takes place in North Carolina.

                                                                This is not how to ride a bike
Ok, so they've got a good (ok, great) cause in raising money for cancer research for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and like Relay for Life 24 hour events are a good time. But booty? Is there a campaign to "drop cancer like it's hot?" Or to include thongs along with those scratchy paper hospital gowns?

The dude filled us in. In Charlotte, North Carolina there is an infamous running circuit for runners and cyclists that circles a local college. College campus = college girls, and college girls usually equally girls in tight clothing for exercising. Hence "Booty Loop." A couple years ago, a local dude (NASCAR attorney Spencer Lueders) got inspired by Armstrong and decided to spend 24 hours riding on the booty loop to see if he could do it. Oddly this guy is married. Oddly spending 24 hours of which at least half is being surrounded by college girls can qualify as "charity." Nearly ten years later, the event is still going strong.

That man is a genius.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pins and Needles: Acupuncture and cycling, Tucson-style

A friend of mine recently returned (very tan) from Tucson, and the lucky bastard had spent a couple weeks riding around Arizona. Of course he did the famous Tucson Shoot-Out ride and ran into the infamous "Grey Wolf" a couple of times.
From Missing Saddle - and check out their hilarious interviews with the Grey Wolf
Though he returned with stories about how he'd held his own on the Shoot Out, he also had gotten some acupuncture done to treat a nagging back injury from cyclocross at Acupuncture del Sol run by Claudia "Nanie" Carrillo. A few days ago, I had coffee with a friend and mentioned how my tan friend had gone "under the needle," and she said that she regularly sees an acupuncturist to deal with everything from fatigue and stress to muscle and joint pain.

When acupuncture goes wrong

I'm sold on the benefits of massage but I've never seen a professional cyclist post-race on a table with needles stuck all over. Cyclocross and sitting at a desk for long periods of time aren't great for my back. But my two friends (both avid and excellent racers) swore by acupuncture's effectiveness. I decided to try it out, called a recommended place and made an appointment.

Not knowing what to expect, the acupuncturist began by asking me about my bowl movements - had I done the emunctory testing I posted a couple days ago, I might have had more detail to give him. "Why does my poop have anything to do with my back?" And he kind of shook his head. Western medicine, the pill-popping Walgreens version that I so often use, focuses on localized treatment. Have a headache? Pop a pill. In contrast Chinese/Oriental medicine is holistic. In other words, he wanted to know all about my body before addressing my back. We then chatted a bit about how acupuncture can be beneficial for athletes: reducing spasms, swelling and inflammation. He inserted needles not only in my back but all over my body - hands, legs, forhead - and I relaxed for a half hour.

Afterward he gave me some green tea and explained a little more about acupuncture. Each internal organ relates to a different aspect of the body:  heart to blood, the spleen to muscles, kidney to bones, and the liver to tendons. Treating the organ meant was an attempt to fix the my aches and pains before they expand across my body. He also said that another concept of acupuncture is balancing the body which was especially important for athletes. Imbalance led to ineffectiveness. Balance led to better performance. Leaving the clinic, my body felt light, tingly and relaxed. I made a follow-up appointment.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exit Strategies: Emunctories

I woke up to another odd email yesterday morning. I have a friend who left his job in the corporate suit-and-tie world to become a nutritionist. While I'm not sure how he generates an income, every so often I get little tidbits on health, nutrition and other things that sound hard to do in my inbox. Yesterday's email was about something I had never heard of until Google helped me out: emunctories which my friend defined as "a new word that refers to all the ways stuff exits our bodies." So basically it's a lab report on how well your body's "exit strategy" works. To give a bit detail:
When one’s diet is poor, the ph-balance is off and the system cannot excrete bacteria and viruses and toxins. The environment is ripe for overgrowth of organisms and the inability of the lymph to do its work. A diet of fruit, vegetables, good quality of protein, and low carbohydrates are important. Sugar or coffee or alcohol will create a disease-producing environment. It is said that one teaspoon of sugar will decrease the immune system efficiency by fifty percent.
(from "Detoxification and Homotoxicology")
Ok. The arguement of diet affecting health is sound; however, I wanted to know what would happen after a lab tech poked through my poop. Naturopath clinics recommended tha "drainage" follow the analysis. Though this drainage is described as "gentle," I can't help but question the delight of a high colonic.

Do I want to have this done? Or was this part of some weird detox diet/liquid cleanse where I would have to miserably drink some magic potion that tasted like cat's urine and be within ten feet of a bathroom for two weeks? Purging diets sounds fairly extreme and a life without red wine is not a with worth living, in my opinion. So I went back to see who (or what company) were behind emunctories.

The term was generated by a Germen doctor Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, who moved to New Mexico with his naturopathic company HEEL after WWII. Most of the articles about Reckeweg and HEEL-BHI are written by fellow alternative medicine sites so I went to Wikipedia for some (hopefully) basic information on the good doctor and his company. Though the entry glazed over Dr. Reckeweg's years in Germany from the mid-1930s until post-WWII, his company HEEL-BHI took off after the war and he moved to New Mexico a few decades later. Though the company labels itself as bridge between homeopathy and conventional medicine, a few articles I found mention issuess that HEEL has had with the FDA and IRS.

While regulartory issues don't mean that emunctories aren't effective, I think I'll hold off between I let my inner content be expelled. Like going through Goodwill, there might still be some gems in there among the all that crap.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lost in translation

Oh, Internet. You know me so well. This link was the highest recommended on Stumble Upon based "on my personal interests."

I was more interested in this article from the Italian pink newspaper la Gazetta dello Sport (the Giro d'Italia's organizer - hence the pink). There's another doping scandal, blah blah blah. But even more delightful than learning that Denis Menchov might have been doped to the gills during the 2009 Giro, is the creative translation from Italian to English. Now the following sentence is a bit spotty but makes basic sense:
Austrian investigators say all'Humanplasma we would go some riders from Rabobank, including the Russian Denis Menchov, pink jersey, 2009, championship competitors and more skiers from Austria and Germany.
Clearly Rabobank expanded their recruiting criteria not only to tall, nearly translucent and blond cyclists (see: Michael Rasmussen, Menchov, etc.) but also those willing to periodically swap out their blood. But the plot thickens as la Gazetta reveals some little known facts about former world champion Alessandro Ballan.

Pharmacist degree (obtained in Bologna) and preparation of fact (he often worked with teams Saronni) in recent years coupled with Stephen's Ice Cream, American, among others, Alessandro Ballan, the 2008 champion, breeder of horses more for hobby (the binomial breeder-trainer, and animal-athlete, frequently used in doping cases); doctor.
Holy shit!!! Ballan was using horse blood for his doping?!?! And there's an American cycling team called Stephen's Ice Cream? Is this a new Stephen Colbert sporting project?

                                                     Alessandro Ballan loves his ponies

This is a rare instance where I hope *hope* that references about Ballan's being a breeder of horses for more than a hobby is a reference only to Ballan making a little stallion transfusion. Otherwise my mind has gone down the path of a love that dare not speak its name... and there are some things I'm not willing to do to become a cat 3 racer.
Sorry, Silver.  Not tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Whacked out sports

I watched the Ronde on Versus last weekend. Do you think as Cancellara glided away from Boonen on the Muur, he muttered "who's specialized now, bitch?" Probably not. His English is kind of Euro-speak funny. The race wasn't really a head scratcher other than wondering if David Millar was going to make the bridge up to the leaders or blow up (he bonked). But after the race finished, Versus segued right into "Whacked Out Sports," a program that is kind of like "America's Funniest Home Vidoes" meets "America's Best Crashes (that almost kill you but not quite)." I knew I wasn't in my white, urban-suburban West Coast blue state anymore after watching clips of a young man wearing a helmet and pants that must've formerly belonged to the world's fattest man try to do wheelies on a motorcycle - and gloriously fail in a shower of sparks and minor explosions. Moving on to the next collection of crashes or athletic feats, three very tan women with bleach blonde hair and all wearing six inch lucite heels tottered across the screen and the announcer drawled as the "hotties" that had come to inspire the men to drive trucks into the backs of old trailer homes on a raceway. That's when I decided I had lost interest and was turning the TV off.

So this is Versus's audience: cyclists and transplanted Europeans alongside hunters and people who like to crash four-wheelers into hovercrafts. People who are comfortable in spandex and those who equate pant looseness as an ascertain of heterosexuality. Those who ride their bikes on the road and those who drive fast and yell at cyclists to "get off the f-king road" A few weeks ago at on a ride, we got an earful of expletives from an irate driver - big truck, an "I'd rather be hunting" sticker and camo vest. My group had been riding two abreast and could have been closer to the shoulder but we weren't, for a variety of other reasons. What happened was an angry exchange that ended with the truck speeding away and us pissed off and riding hard. And the interaction undoubtedly soured attitudes and stereotypes even further. Ironically we might both be heading home to watch the same channel but very different programs.

Of course there's hyperbole; not every fisherman and hunter hate cyclists, and some cyclists I know participate in those activities But perhaps there's a great opportunity in this disparate space for a dialogue and interaction especially about road safety. Versus seems to occupy an unique position of holding the attention and fan base of two very different groups. This might offer another type of discussion -  not one based on telling the other how to behave, but one that acknowledges the need for cognizant and respectful behavior on each side.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The mysterious world of Twitter solved - in graph form

I use Twitter and for some reason, people follow me. I guess uploading blurry photos of some kind of pavement-sky-shaved leg-bike content means people are willing to invest a few seconds to see where "great ride in the West Hills" leads to. To each their own, I guess.

Found this hilarious set of graphs this morning explaining the truth behind Twittter/Twatter/I'm with Coco. Snorted coffee up my nose, which is an absolute kick-start to one's day.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat this, not that

I recently watched Jamie Oliver's new TV show on ABC, "Food Revolution" - or I should say that I tried  to watch it. It was horrendous. Oliver, who made his name in the U.K. as the Naked Chef, is trying to help tackle the obesity problem in the U.S., starting with a a re-vamp of the school lunch program at an elementary school in Huntington, West Virginia. After winning the title of the fattest city in the U.S., you'd think Huntington's residents would at least be mildly concerned with their health, their children's health and the fact that the people of Huntington look like they're slowly being consumed by giant marshmallow bodies. I saw only one or two people in the first episode that actually had necks. The rest were - to put it bluntly - overweight and fat.

But the great people of Huntington showed Oliver that he'd have to pry their frozen pizzas, chicken fingers and chocolate milk from their cold, dead and fat hands before they'd covert to a diet of only "lettuce." They were rude, close-minded, and resistant with anything to do with changing their diet. The school lunch workers were more interested in doing their job than actually thinking about the ramifications of what they were doing to the kids.  Apparently diabetes, heart disease and seeing your children balloon into slobs aren't enough to convince people to put down the fries. If the we really wanted to get people to care about obesity, the connection between being overweight and having erectile dysfunction should be at the top of the list. Want to have a good sex life? Lose some weight.

Poor Jamie Oliver. He's up against the worst of the worst. And things are so dire that a man who wrote a book titled "How to lose friends and alienate people," is giving Oliver advice on dealing with Huntington.

Some of Huntington's kids may never taste real chicken as what they're being served in the school cafeteria might list the first ingredient as "chicken" but then has a novel's worth of chemicals on the ingredients list. These kids probably consume more high fructose corn syrup than corn.

I work in a public school in a low-income neighborhood and see what the kids eat: fried chicken patties served along side ranch dressing, chocolate milk, burritos, deep-fried egg rolls and maybe an apple or pear (which as Jamie notes, always end up in the garbage). And the school uses Styrofoam plates. It's depressing.

But some places are doing it right. There's group in Berkeley, California doing the exact same thing as Jamie Oliver. The Berkeley School Lunch Initiative is teaching kids about nutrition, cooking and healthy eating. And the contrast between Berkeley and Huntington is vast. But before the old argument of Berkeley having its leftist hippie-now-wealthy parents take care of their food program, watch the video. Nearly 40% of school kids in Berkeley are living below the poverty level. And they still get feed fresh, healthy and delicious food.

This is proof that change can happen. Food doesn't have to be fake and kids can be healthy. Adults should have necks and not need to request the special fat chair without arms at the Olive Garden. Hopefully Huntington, West Virgina figures that out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pour your self a cup of strong coffee

I'm starting off the day with some Enter-the-Dragon bad ass-ness:

If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. (from this rad website for quotes).
Time get things done!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Domo - Arigato, Mr. Merckx-aboto

It was probably only inevitable that my bike's purity would become comprised. I started out with Shimano as the gateway components but over the years Sram has worked its dirty (and cheaper) little parts into my gruppo. Campy bikes won't even lean against mine, and when I told my mechanic that I was into parts-swapping, he said he wouldn't judge me. But he raised his eyebrows, and spent a lot of time washing his hands after working on my bike.

But with all things kinky and bike-related, I like to know what I'm getting into. Sure, "Sram" sounds like an Eastern European pastry while "Shimano" is more like how the Japanese might describe a natural break as in "excuse me, I must shimano before we get to the feed zone." And "Campagnolo" is Italian for "I've got a  shiner legs than you and wear as much white as possible."  Campie also infers that you prefer wool jerseys, sometimes fashion your hair into a mullet as to get a better wind blown look, and might still have toe straps and leather shoes.

Eddy would never use anything that wasn't made by a Giovanni or a Leonardo.

Getting down to the gritty details of my gruppo, Sram wins in the sense that  its marketing departing chose real words to describe its products. Sure "Force" and "Rival" are simplistic but they're creative strong images like this of Jan Ullrich's gut-busting face. Now that is a picture of FORCE.

Don't use the bathroom after Jan. He doesn't light a candle.

But what about Ultegra? Dura-Ace? Tiagra? Sora? I did some research and all Shimano tells me is that Ultegra is "a solid performer," which also sounds like an Ullrich bowel movement.  Dura-Ace gets all the quality marketing attention with this campaign of Shimano-Yumeya. According to the website, "yumeya" means "dream workshop," which may be another phrase that is lost in translation. Or maybe Shimano HQ pipes in some Gary Wright songs to inspire creativity. However, looking up Dura-Ace in an online Kanji dictionary I got "hairpiece or wig."

I think I'll stick with what I can understand. Unless I decide to pervert my new Sram gruppo with these colorful KCNC brakes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Thumb of Death

What's the opposite of a green thumb? Death thumb? Black thumb? Anti-life thumb?

As with children, I've never been good with plants. I don't understand them and they seem to despise me. Outside of the water and sunshine requirements, my plants seem to be exceptionally needy and always on a hunger strike. Or maybe they have eating disorders from being around too many cyclists? I should give the Cytomax and sprinkle their soil with some Probar crumbles, since Molly Cameron seems to be all over that stuff. And she's pretty fast.

I planted a small back porch garden last summer. Living in the city, I have minimal access to sunlight and I learned that my north-facing balcony doesn't get enough sun for tomatoes, broccoli and other leafy plants. The plastic pot my spinach was in overheated and fried that crop, so I'll have to switch to clay if I try those again. But root vegetables did very well and I even shifted my onion and garlic plants indoor for the winter. Currently, they are setting a streak for "most days living."

But what I'm really growing this spring are drugs. A couple of weeks ago I heard a radio interview with James Wong, an ethnobotanist. Wong has both put out a short BBC TV series and now a book about turning your garden into a medicine cabinet. But the best part?
''Most herb species live in poor environments with low water and low fertiliser..."
It's the perfect garden for a person like me if the herbs thrive under an ill-educated and harsh gardening regime!

Other links that have been helpful:

Life on the Balcony - a perfect starting point and reference

Inhabitant has a good starter's guide to urban gardening as well (with lots of pictures!)

And of course, before you even get started check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map and USDA Plant Hardiness Indicators. This will give you an idea of what you can plant.

This rosemary plant tried to die but I've coaxed it back from the edge

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This aggression will not stand

Like most people, I went out on the town last night. And like most people, I woke up with the taste of bacon in my mouth and the Scorpions on repeat in my head. But nothing sets your head straight like seeing the shit storm that's blowing up on Twitter (pre-NCAA tournament) about the comments ESPN radio host Tony Kornheiser made about cyclists. Apparently the fact that Kornheiser was slowed or just unamused by cyclists in the bike lanes was enough to set off a fire storm of ignorant commentary.
"Let them use the right, I'm OK with that. I don't take my car and ride on the sidewalk because I understand that's not for my car … Why do these people think that these roads were built for bicycles? ... They dare you to run them down."
My first question was - where were Kornheiser's fact checkers? There's got to be some young college kid dying to break into the sports radio industry that would at least make sure Kornheiser wasn't going on the air, spouting totally inaccurate statements, right? Right??  Otherwise, he would have had to craft a much more sophisticated argument of hatred about cyclists. But instead he went the old route, resorting to: why do these people think that these roads were built for cyclists? Well, Tony, if there are bike lanes or bike markings on that road then yes, they were built for cyclists. Those white lines and that white figure on a bicycles? That was explicitly designed for cyclists so that you don't drive your car there. Maybe it would help if the car lanes had pictures of cars added to reduce the confusion that Kornheiser seems to be suffering from.

I'm a cyclist and a driver. I vote (and pay!) for taxes, levies, etc.,  that improve the quality of our streets because I use them for a variety of types of transportation. I'm sick of this mindset of "I should only pay taxes for the things that I use." We live in a civil society which means that some of your tax dollars go towards funding programs that benefit other populations and the greater good.

There are a lot of people that think like Kornheiser. And while I can't compensate for the bad experiences he may have had with bicycles or bicyclists (learning to ride a two-wheeler can be scary Tony, we know), I can put forth a positive image every time I get on my bike wearing "the little water bottle in the back and the stupid hats and their shiny shorts." 'Cause nothings lamer or more disgusting that athletes that wear body-hugging clothing or hats (which eliminates football, baseball and a couple more popular sports).

And last but not least, Kornheiser pissed off Lance Armstrong. Really Tony? You want to tick off a dude who's won seven Tour de Frances, is one of Nike's premium athletes and has nearly 2.5 million Twitter followers?

If you want to leave a comment for Kornheiser, here's the link to ESPN's page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What exactly is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

I was watching tv awhile ago when I saw this commercial with two mildly attractive (if you're into the "mom with the tucked in pants"-type) women talking about high fructose corn syrup. The ad looked to be a well-financed commercial endeavor unlike most political ads, but the bitch factor was high. One mom accused the other of not caring about her kids by letting them drink colored juice-like product that had high fructose corn syrup which was met by a retort of "do you know what high fructose corn syrup even is?"

Oh, snap!

But the sassy momma's comeback stung. In truth, I didn't know what high fructose corn syrup was and had just assumed like anti-matter or New Coke, I didn't to really understand it to know that it wasn't good. And I also wanted to know why the Corn Refiners Association was spending nearly $30 million to convince me that I shouldn't abandon their product  Unfortunately the ad didn't reach an important demographic - executives of huge corporations - as companies like Pepsi and Snapple in the past  year have moved to distance their product from HFCS.

Here's that industry-paid-for commercial on You Tube

What the heck exactly is HFCS?
My journey began on the internet. And it turns out that tons of smart people - some with "doctor" in front of their names! - had already researched and written on HFCS! Specifically one Dr. Will, whose delicious bars I have sampled at many cyclocross events, had a good article breaking down the difference between corn syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup. High fructose corn sweeter is both a sweetener and a preservative for foods making them cheaper to produce and easier to transport. The process of creating HFCS sounds as simple as creating cold fusion in your bathtub, a complex chemical breakdown that starts with basic corn syrup and ends with product about as "corn" as Heidi Montag's new plastic body. Quoting from a 2006 article in the New York Times, Michael F. Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest,"says that unlike sugar molecules, which reside in the stalks of sugar cane or the beets that are used to make sugar, high-fructose corn syrup is artificial because it is not found anywhere in corn." Dr. Will's blog noted that they use corn syrup in their product as opposed to high fructose corn syrup to provide a "health risk free sweetener."

What the heck does HFCS do?
More specifically, what does HFCS do to me? Michael Pollan called out sweeteners like HFCS back in 2002 for links to diabetes and obesity among other health issues. Since then, research has proven some of Pollan's claims to be true, like this 2008 study linking a diet high in HFCS to obesity in rats. While the Corn Refiners Association has toted the  "all things in moderation" tagline for HFCS, a $30 million ad campaign coupled with somewhere between $40 to $200 billion in government subsidies over the past twenty years seems to suggest otherwise.

After all I've read, HFCS sounds about as appealing as a Heidi Montag album. While it might be good for some huge food corporations, I'd think I'll go through my refrigerator and make some edits.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Frank and Andy Schleck should not play poker

March 10, 2010: Andy Schleck tries to reinforce his and brother Frank's faith in Bjarne Riis finding them a sponsor after Saxo-Bank pulls out.

March 13, 2010: Marc Biver announces he's trying to put together a cycling team that would be made up by the entire population of Luxembourg, i.e. the Schleck brothers.

Any day now: Bjarne Riis attempts to sell kidney/first born child in exchange for money to keep the Schlecks with him.

Take notes from the Brad Wiggins-Sky-Garmin debacle; professional cyclists are bad at acting.


The real secret to winning Olympic gold? Bill Demong and teammates put in lots of practice on the bike, like racing Gila and Tour of Utah. Before winning a gold medal in Vancouver, Demong was also known as "the dude Chris Horner hauled to the top of Mt. Bachelor at the Cascade Cycling Classic in 2008."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Finally! Google gets on the bike!

Though I always thought Google was ahead of the trend, it took a long time for them to roll out their bike map feature on maps.

I decided to take the maps for a little test drive versus some of the other mapping websites, like Map My Ride and see how they compare. I picked a short route that I ride very often from my house to the Nike campus using bike paths, bike lanes and busy roads. Here's what I got from both.

Map My Ride
  • Total ride distance:8.53 miles
  • Auto-routed to bike paths? Yes
  • Shows elevation: Yes
  • Pros: Picking own route
  • Cons: Having to plot every point.
Google Maps
  • Total ride distance: 8.6 miles (estimates that it'll take me a little over an hour to get there. A nice feature but not very accurate)
  • Auto-routed to bike paths? Yes, and shows paths on "bicycling" filter
  • Shows elevation? Well, shows terrain and I guess I could use that to see how hilly it is.
  • Pros: easy, like all other Google maps.
  • Cons: probably best for commuting and getting around town.
I'm going to keep playing with routes but according to the feedback on, Google seems to have gotten in right.

Glad to see that cycling is being supported on this level especially in light of all the public transportation cuts that are happening/planned.

Monday, March 8, 2010

To Paris-Nice via Twitter

Favorite Twitter feeds for cycling stuff (non-Lance Armstrong).

@Steephill for non-Versus coverage of cycling events. This guy has the best live feeds.

@allencolim, Garmin's former docter headed to Radio Shack is usually in the follow car giving some good play-by-play (or pedal-by-pedal).

@andy_schleck and @schleckfrank are the best for Euro semi-English tweets. Even better is when Jens Voigt takes over their feeds and goes renegade.

@bradwiggins. Subtle f-bomb usage.

@pro_cycling. Neither Cycling New or Velonews.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rim to the road

Someone in the rubber industry hates me. This is the only logical way to explain the rash of flat tires I've had recently. And like all kind of rashes, this one is driving me a  bit crazy. I spend more time on the side of the road using a pump the size of a tampon and looking like I'm giving a handjob to someone than I do actually on my bike.All this pumping action is going to give me biceps like one of those dudes on "Jersey Shore."
Here's the part where most people say things like, "you should try new tubes/tires/not riding through fields of glass," but in truth I've been a rubber-whore. I've tried out Continental, Schwalbe, Vittoria, Specialized, Panaracer, Michelin, chewing gum, etc. I've booted, patched, replaced what at last count I estimated to be about 423 tubes over the past couple years.

Coincidentally some one at this PDX company must have had me in mind when designing the Magic Flute, a stylish bike pump made for those down on on their tire luck. If only they needed someone to product test...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Life on the cheap

Is there anything more satisfying that saving yourself some money? Unless you're the Canadian hockey team and just waking up from your Molson Ice-gold medal hangover, probably not. And I just saved myself some money this weekend. Here's how:

Cheap Car Repair 101:  I live in a place with a lot of rain. I only like to be wet when I'm outside and/or racing cyclocross. I do not like to be wet in my car. So when my car rack started to wear through my weatherstripping (which kind of sounds like the name for a hippy stripper), I was not happy. No one likes to be wet in their car. No one should be wet in their car. And so with a swiftness and decisiveness that would make the Obama administration jealous, I found a quick and cheap fix as opposed to buying and installing new weatherstripping.

Solution: old bike tubes. I might not have created cold fusion but I found a use for my old bike tubes and reinforced/repaired my weatherstripping.

Cheap Coffee 101: I'm new to drinking coffee. It was only in the past couple of years that I discovered the manic wonderfulness of being caffeinated. But there's a recession going on and creamy lattes are only for those getting Goldman Sachs-type of bonuses. A barista filled me in on how to enjoy frothy coffee on the cheap.

Solution: French press lattes. With instant coffee or French press coffee, some flavor (if that's what your into) and milk, you can make a decent latte. Heat up the milk, add it to the French press and froth. So easy. So cheap. Other people might have figured this stuff all about before me but I am pretty darn pleased.
Not bad, matey?

Friday, February 26, 2010

NABHS 2010: I wish I was where?

I guess this started today, and I have to guess because the 2010 coverage of the North America Handmade Bike show has been quiet. If I light my pipe, pop in my monocle and put on my thinking cap, this minimal coverage might be because NAHBS is going on during in the midst of the Winter Olympics. But lack of news might also be due to the show being in Richmond, VA which means absolutely nothing to me in terms of bike culture (hey, I'm from Portland so you know the snob-factor is high). 

Even though NAHBS ticket sales on track to beat PDX's 2008 show, I have to wonder if the show and the industry in general have reached their zenith. Most of this wondering is due to the fact that I blew up my brain reading Niall Ferguson's piece in the latest Foreign Affairs (I get it just for the cartoons) on the cyclical nature of empire. The US might have sold more bikes than cars in 2009, but overall sales were still down. What does that mean for an industry that emphasizes handmade and craft, which usually translate into higher costs? If we want more people to own and ride bikes which type of bikes should the industry be growing? But maybe our economy needs to re-emphasize jobs that produce tangible goods, like these beautiful bikes. I don't know any big economics words to discuss this topic further so I'll end with my last conundrum of the day: since I'm not in Richmond, I won't get to purchase this wonderfully unnecessary espresso tamper from Chris King. So I'll have to figure which Chris King part (the bottom bracket, a hub or headset) I can substitute so I can comfortably drink my Stumptown espresso in a really tiny cup while wearing really tight jeans and then ride my fixie that has a really hard gear ratio.

Riding around Reykavik

What better way to start off a blog than one of those "look-at-what-cool-thing-I-just-did?" Well, hell. I did do something cool and since I've only had one cup of coffee today, I don't have the creativity to think of something else.

I should have probably known better than to try cycling in a country that recommends fur parkas (like the ones this stylish Icelandic company make) over lycra for its preferred riding clothing. But taking a bike tour seemed like a great way to see Reykavik. Our guide's outfit was a hint about what the weather would be like.

Though we were told Iceland was in the midst of a "warm spell," the Arctic translation of "warm spell" was still bitter cold but with rain instead of snow. My inner Viking was not meant for biking. But we still held out for two hours we rode some cushy Trek Navigators around the city stopping at the requisite touristy places (churches, parliament) and then going to some off-the-beaten-path stops, like the University of Iceland and Bjork's small, black house.

And what do you do after you're done riding around Europe's most northern capital city? You can either go native and enjoy some grilled puffin or whale sushi, or keep your remember your home land with some junk food. We kept true to our roots.