Friday, September 5, 2008

The call of the motherland

Riding in Europe should be a goal for any US based cyclist. If after watching a euro-race on TV, you aren't drooling over the scenery, history, or epic nature of the terrain-you are most likely a recumbent rider. Belgium, Italy, France,Spain,Holland, Alps, Pyrenees-these are all places you want to go. One country that gets minimal love is Scotland. There are many reasons to visit Scotland-single malt and Roslyn Chapel are two that spring to mind, but it wasn't until I got this pamphlet in the mail that I realized what I was truly missing. "Cycling on Islay and Jura" is a pretty epic piece of enticing travel journalism which I encourage you to read or obtain it. Here is a typically humorous section.....
"Concomitant with the agricultural nature of both islands is a preponderance of both sheep and cattle, either at the side of some roads or, in one or two cases, actually on the road itself. Cows are larger and heavier than you are, and can cause quite serious damage to you and/or your bicycle if they become alarmed. Though it may seem silly, the best way of dealing with cows, either on or at the side of the road, is to start talking
to them well in advance. Cows apparently have things on their minds other than cyclists, (like grass) and your sudden appearance in close proximity can startle them. Talking alerts them to your presence, and should see you past without further
incident. Do not attempt to herd cows off the road, they can be more dangerous than you’d think.
Sheep, on the other hand are the most predictably unpredictable
animals you are likely to meet, and the best we can advise is to keep your wits about you - watch both sides of the road, particularly during lambing season. Pay particular attention
if there are oncoming vehicles."

Classic. The islands do not possess especially long routes, but how far do you really think you can ride after 4-8 distillery tours in less than 20-40K?
The land of Robert Millar,David Millar, and Chris Hoy has a lot more to offer than Haggis and Trainspotting and is now in my top ten. A can imagine an epic week in England and Scotland starting with the Three Peaks race and ending here in a cannonball into a a vat of Lagavulian. Maybe get tanked enought to reenact the Wickerman.

This is the true home of the argyle so Garmin fans should pay homage here.

Fire Sale at the Service Course

So Lotto goes with Canyon leaving Colnago ass out except for Landbouwkrediet-Tonissteiner. Hope they don't jump ship. With all these huge teams dumping bike sponsors, where is the mega-yard sale? Shouldn't Ebay be flooded with bikes, frames, kit, etc? Where is the bike swap? There are at least 5 teams with 20 plus riders who have at least 2 bikes each and a TT bike too. They are all obsolete in a couple months. I am willing to pay pennies on the dollar, where do I sign up?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sixto Rodriguez Cold Fact LP

"Sugarman" is the hit on this one.
Light in the Attic drops another reissue classic. Thankfully this has nothing to do with the skinny shredder dude from Mars Volta. This cd is worth it for Sixto's story alone(which is also covered in the new Wax Poetics. WP also has "sugarman" track for free).
The music is well produced and clean. Real tight.A lot of lost classics lack in the production, but this is so pro it could be a Glen Campbell record.
He seems to alternate between Dylan("crucify your mind") and Donovan("sugarman") as far as the lyrics and grooves. Mix in a little protest era Marvin Gaye and you should have an angle on the lyrical content. Funky folk? Urban folk? Ghetto Protest? I haven't hear the new catch phrase for this record, but it stands up pretty well without any fanfare. Song titles are totally over the top.
Stand out tracks for me are the prog-funk "Only good conversation"(Dennis Coffey produced this and his hand seems pretty clear on this one) and the Nashville Skyline worthy "I wonder". "Jane S.Piddy" is another Dylan-esaque classic. Electric Dylan with all the tenous metaphors, young man angst, and hyperbole. The know it all freshman who always has a comeback. The street wise nine year old. etc. Another bonus is that none of the 12 songs clocks in over 4 minutes. Most are 2.5 which is just right when my ADD is acting up.
I listened to this twice and haven't read the liner notes(fairly extensive) yet, but I have a feeling this will be in the rotation for summer jams driving music if I ever finish the audio book of the new Thomas Franks. But the story of how audio books saved my summer is grist for another post. There is also a totally coincidental South Africa connection between Frank's book and Sixto. Do your homework, you can figure it out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Long Distance-a WWDIS book report

Bill McKibben is most famous as an environmental author(End of Nature), but back in 97/98, he decided to try and become a top level cross country skier. The book Long Distance is subtitled "testing the limits of body and spirit in a year of living strenuously".
This book shows that all endurance sports have more in common than not, and it was cool to see training principles filtered through a sport other than cycling. All the same principles apply -massive lsd base miles, intervals, shedding weight, suffering, and, of course, funny clothes and lusting after tech gear.
A book about a regular dude struggling in racing hits close to home and a lot of his points rang true.
For instance most endurance sports are as much about "enduring" the mental pain and self doubt and pushing past your limits as just suffering through the physical pain.
Second, to train for anything is to be pretty selfish-you focus on you and your performance. Train and recover. Repeat. Everything else gets shoved to the side, but the flipside is when you compete-you get humbled. So it is an odd combo of self-absorption and getting constantly dope slapped with reality. Anyone who has trained hard and got the DNF can relate to that.
The stories about racing in Norway are pretty amusing. Especially the cool historical angle. Learn about Birkebeiners and why people wear weighted back packs.(nint-google "infant king Haakon") XC skiing in Norway is like cycling in Belgium. Cool parallel world.

Key quote #1 "Everyone likes chips.... but..Fat has no propulsive capability"-coach Rob. No propulsive capapbility-like my fat ass.
XC skiers obsess over wax the way cyclocross nerds obsess over tire pressure-again a parallel world.
Good book. There are some non athletic aspects of this book that make it an above average read.(kind of like Ten Points, but no unhinged parents)Better than getting bummed out reading about global warming and maybe good enough to make you want to try cross country skiing.... I think I will stick to snow shoes though.
If you can't find it at a bookstore or library, there is a place called amazon that will probably have it for cheap.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gold Medal in Nerd Olympics

I spent about half and hour last night staring at TDF photos in Velonews looking for what riders were on the new DuraAce vs the Old. Sadly for Shimano Sastre and Cavendish stuck to the old stuff.
Friere went with the new, so at least they can get some love from the green jeresy

Was also suprised that Boonen was caught in the small ring in the two page Specialezed ad hyping is riding a Roubaix to victory in Roubaix. Granted the small ring at Roubaix is probably a 44, but look at that chain jumping.

Next seasons shake ups start today!

Go away for a few days and it seems like all the cycling news breaks.
McEwen signs what will probably be his Beckham farewell contract with
Katusha. Did Riis get misqouted a la Daniels in Wire season 5 or is he
putting Sastre out to Pasture (that is a headline for when he retires!).

Bike Sponsors play musical chairs. CSC on Specialized? Rabo on Giant?
Columbia on Scott? Cervelo on Cervelo? Scott-Americn Beef on
unemployment?? Breaking news..... Katusha on Ridleys? Another loss for Colnago. What will Lotto-Silence ride?

And it a total bizzaro world victory, Tyler Hamilton wins the US Road
Championship???? Maybe he can retire
with his head held high, or will he hang on in hopes of a final year in
europe? That must give Flandis hope.....

Dave Z might not have had a lot of victories this year, but he sure know's
marketing.. Check out this new product of his. Can mustache wax be far behind?

I am a fan of the marketing-hypes use of FPS aka "fragile perineal skin" as a term.

As far as the Vuelta. Boonen and Bennati are on a tear after not so great seasons. Valverde, Sastre, or Contador. Hopefully the mountains will provide some fireworks!