Little segment from the pre-history days of mountain biking. I’ve never seen this bit of journalism before, but there are a number of recognizable characters in the footage -
Gorgeous footage of Sean Walling building one up in Petaluma.
Viva La Soulcraft!
This put the biggest smile on my face* -
*For some reason, this video is a little wonky in Firefox, so if you don’t see anything, try this link -
A lot of little threads and thoughts today. Some of which will probably be edited out in the interests of coherency.
Got a decent ride in yesterday, after weeks and weeks of too-short, too-fast commute rides. Rolled out on a gorgeous, sunny Saturday - the kind of mid-November SF Bay Area weather which we who live here get very quiet about as our cycling brothers and sisters are discussing winter gloves and studded tires. First ride in memory where I didn’t have my bag strapped to my back, and things felt light and smooth. Steered the Quickbeam over road and trail, enjoyed a freshly paved section of Paradise Drive, felt cosmically blessed when the surface turned back to bumpy and cracked and ripply, and all the race-folks fell behind on their high pressure 23C tires.
As a general rule, it seems to cause some consternation when a single-geared bicycle with tweed fender flaps goes past them over a rough and broken surface. Perhaps it’s the head-slap enlightenment. Just one of the many services we offer.
Just realized that I didn’t make a mileage post for the meager October tally. (tap, tap, tappity, tap) There.
Or rather here.
Finally upgraded my phone (the Razr that wouldn’t die), which means that I spent a couple evenings dinking around at the app store, up too late distracted by mostly less-than-useful technology. Was reasonably impressed by Pandora radio, which immediately knew about a couple of less-than-popular bands that I thought of. Only downside with them is the commercials. But, hey, nothing is “free”… Other than that there have been a few things, but I think I’m going to keep things reasonably austere for a while. (Maybe some folks will make some suggestions - so far the Photoshop, Sketchbook, Hipstamatic, StarWalk, Dragon Dictation and Evernote apps are all aboard and being used. Oh, and RedLaser, which is pretty much the end of retail as we know it. The one time waster I’ve allowed myself is Labyrinth.) None of which has to do with cycling.
For the past 30 days or so, rides have been of a different flavor. Busy times at the day job, more auditions now that I’ve got representation for voiceover work, and a few gigs have had me trying to compress more stuff into less time, and I often end up blasting home on the commute - curiously enough, often in time to get to yoga. Which must be some sort of a zen koan.
The whole practice of screaming homeward on a tallish, non-coastable gear seems to be paying off. On yesterday’s loop, there was a little lapse at about an hour, I suspect as that’s been the upper end of most of my rides of late, but then things started to notch into place. My legs and hips decided that they weren’t going anywhere, and decided to help out for a bit longer, and the back and arms started to relax and act like springs rather than shock absorbers. And when I felt like ratcheting up the pressure a bit, it actually felt like there was some latent speed in there. I don’t think I’m ready for the BASPS this year, but at least things aren’t feeling entirely monovelocic.
It’s also the time of year when everything suddenly gets darker an hour earlier. Which isn’t all that bad, as it takes my home commute out of the time of dusk, when people don’t seem to see anything and places it squarely in the night, when bright LED’s and USCG-approved reflective tape seems to catch their eyes. Indeed - the worst event riding recently was coming back from a noontime sandwich run, in broad, bright daylight, when someone entering from a side street decided they didn’t need to stop at the sign and tried to slide through it. Luckily my “HEY” horn seems to have appropriate volume and “cut through”…
Speaking of unaware drivers, I finally got a check from the insurance company to settle up property damage and expenses from the accident last June. It was a lesson in polite and helpful responses leading to no actual results, and a steadily stream of “oh, you know, we don’t have a copy of …. ” which had me re-faxing, re-emailing, and re-requesting medical clearances. For those of you keeping score at home, that was 15 months from the day of the accident. Just to clarify, this was the driver’s insurance company who redefined methodical slowness - my auto insurance was spot on, helpful, going to bat for me and quick to point out what I should do (get copies of police report, photograph damages, etc.). CSAA really rocked, and this year was one of the few times that I re-upped with them that I was actually happy about it. Of course, I’ve been with for freakin’ ever. But, in this day of online comparative pricing, and racing to the cheapest possible solution, I do wonder what the response would have been if I’d changed companies annually.
And, I am still of the opinion that it’s not a good idea to arrest the forward motion of a bicycle by sticking your index finger between your brake lever and a truck door. Just in case there’s any question about that.
Finally, I’m looking forward to today’s ride - we’re getting together with some friends who have a very energetic son who has been itching to go bike riding with us. Certainly, H.G. Wells observed
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
…but it’s always great to remind the next generation.
A few videos crossed my path this last week, and I wanted to put ‘em where I could quickly find ‘em again…
I do love Paris-Roubaix. It’s been run 100-plus times over the nastiest excuse of “roads” that can be imagined. While there is a sense of this heritage in the other spring cycling classics, most of the others use topography and routes which have some concessions to aesthetics - picturesque towns, cobbled climbs which lead past ancient churches, winding country roads.
Paris-Roubaix is just hard. It runs through the fields over stone paths. In the rainy years, the muck and goo running across the pave creates some of the most enduring spring classic imagery.
That is not to say it is without beauty. I do find it beautiful. You have the Arenberg forest, and the classic finish at the Roubaix velodrome. It’s just that it is also a hard, brutal and simple race. Not “simplistic”. Simple. A long flat course that zigs and zags and lies open to the winds. A huge component of the race is chance. Ill-timed flats and inexplicable crashes on the pave have taken down more than one leader on the course.
But rarely do you get to see a better example of how a moment’s inattention can cost the race than in this year’s edition. Fabian Cancellara, a Swiss rider on the Saxo team, was coming off a big victory in the Tour of Flanders (have I mentioned I love the Spring Classics?) from the previous weekend. The Flanders/P-R double is a tempting prize.
Tom Boonen was aiming for his fourth Paris-Roubaix win, trying to equal the record of Roger De Vlaeminck, another Belgian who used to dominate the spring races. Boonen had been summarily dropped by Cancellara the week before, after the two of them broke away at Flanders.
In this video feed (including a few angles which the Versus broadcast didn’t provide), the first action is a breakaway of three other riders. Boonen had been attacking repeatedly, but hadn’t managed to get a gap and Cancellara and the rest would just smoothly roll back up to him. After the three breakaway, you can see how Boonen (wearing the black, yellow and red Belgian national champions jersey) takes a moment to recover and refuel and doesn’t react to an acceleration by three or four other riders. (Arguably, Boonen’s choice of tactics were problematic - he had been the only one to be making the charges, and the group was big enough that it was hard to shake anyone out. All of which had to have taken a toll on him.)
Cancellara, who had astutely rolled forward, sees or senses that Boonen isn’t there and just freakin’ guns it. It’s a jaw-dropping example of power. Cancellara is suddenly up the road with a gap, manages to catch the break before the next set of cobbles and then drops them sequentially as he ramps up the power on the dry and dusty cobbles.
If your Flemish isn’t spot-on, you should note that he does this with 47 kilometers to go in the race.
Forty. Seven. Kilometers.
Of course, the last thing you want to do is let the World Time Trial champion get a gap on a flat, windy course. Boonen, who had looked confident and strong in the 15 minutes before this happened, doesn’t react quickly, can’t bridge the gap and loses the race in the space of one or two minutes.
I found it to be nicely thought-provoking and inspiring. Makes me want to support Tim. It’s encouraging to find the kind of quiet commitment that he demonstrates.
He also demonstrates a beautiful spin in a couple of side view shots. You don’t just hop on a bike one morning and move like that. It comes from years and miles of honing, gaining efficiency, finding the right balance. Just beautiful.
To know where you are, you need to know where you came from.
Mountain Biking in the days of yore. Crested Butte - Pearl Pass ride from 1980.
And Part 2:
Never saw either of these videos before, but recognize a few folks here and there. Pretty cool bit of history.
No brevet report yet, but in the meantime, here’s my State of the Union Report, filed 1/27/10:
This has very, very little to do with cycling, but I really enjoyed this slightly slo-mo’d version of a cable car ride down Market Street in San Francisco. I’ve always been drawn to historical footage, but this one is really clean (Thanks to voice actor David J for posting a link to it!).
I’m not sure what part I like the best - the kid on the bike at around 30 seconds in is pretty good, especially as you can see a cable-car-awaiting pedestrian get totally freaked out as he approaches while looking back at the camera.
But, then the pedestrians in general get a big vote - the sauntering, let’s-see-how-close-the-car-can-get-to-me, pace of those crossing in front; the sheer joy of the kid at running at a perfect pace to stay ahead of the street car.
The cross traffic is stunning as well. Reminds me of being out on the bay in a boat, caught near a turn in a sailing race, where folks are cutting right in front of you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
As Lou Reed once said, “..those were different times.”
Decided to put a heavier layer of protection on my new Nigel Smythe & Sons Keven’s bag from Rivendell. The vid cam was lying around, so here ya go…
Oh, heck. I’ve been writing a short blog post about cranks which seems to be expanding like the blob. Since it’s still not done, here’s something someone else did that made me spit coffee on my screen -
Since I’ve been unable to finish my writeup on the Marin Century (coming soon…really!), here’s something that the interwebs brought to my door today -
JimG took the vid-cam in hand and logged some impressive footage of the Men’s B Race in Doyle Park up in Santa Rosa.
Many of which were referenced in the writeup.
This bit of the story continues from here.
After peeling my muddy, soaked gear off and slipping into something at least dry, I wandered out to find the gang. JimG had brought brownies, and between those and a quick slug of strong and hot coffee from the thermos, I continued to feel pretty warm and upbeat. The folks up in Santa Rosa put on a right fine and homey show. At one tent, bags of free pretzels were in attendance. Others had food, beer and coffee offerings. Fundraising raffles and the BikeMonkey magazine folks. An exuberant marching band (the Hubbub Club) arrived to regale us with tunes. A couple of beautiful weimaraners and a puppy or two hung out, wondering both about all the complex smells about and the sanity of their owners for bringing them along on a sloppy day.
It felt like I was surfing a bit of the post-race elation, but as the capillaries began to constrict again, the cold and damp seeped in a little bit. After a quick facilities check, it seemed to make sense to sit for a spell and see if there was any reason to think that racing again was a good idea. I regained the motor vehicle, wrapped some jackets over myself and sipped my way through the Clif electrolyte beverage. When mixing it that morning, I realized that I had bought a “Hot Apple Cider” which the instructions specifically said was to be made hot - the implication of a glowingly warm drink being a friendly recharge. Ignoring those instructions, I had made it with cold water - it isn’t like I had a large enough thermos to maintain another hot beverage anyway. Still, it was pretty good, and the chemical compounds seemed to do their thing.
Somewhere out on the other side of the front windshield, the women’s wave went off. A few of the fast folks I recognized from the BASP races moved out to the front, the thickening mud making progress iffy and soiling the pink-and-flowereed Sheila Moon racing kits that were in attendance. Singlespeeds, A’s and B’s were all out in a 45 minute race. Whoever was off the front moved through the conditions with an amazing momentum and fluidity. But, her dark jersey quickly became mud-sodden, so by the time she went by, I couldn’t pick out any logos (and as of right now, they still haven’t posted results on the Bikemonkey.net site).
By this point, I had maybe an hour and half until the Old Guy Geared race at 2:30. I had two thoughts on the subject. One, I didn’t feel totally torched by the first race, and in fact had felt a little better towards the end of it. Two, I have a pathological dislike for racing/riding for less time than it takes to get to the race/ride. At this point, I’d gone for about 15 minutes less than it took to get there (well, if you discount the warm-up riding).
Stepping back out into the day, I made my way down to the signup tent, and inquired what one had to do if one was so idiotic as to want to take the organizers up on the offer to engage in the free second race. Unfortunately, the Human Services Officer was down at the beer tent, heckling the women’s racers, so there was no one to engage in an intervention. Thus, the sign-up folks were all too happy to give me a second number, and transfer my information to the next start sheet. At the same time, I met a fellow who was also older and multi-geared. We chatted a bit, and I mentioned that I’d done the singlespeed race earlier. He said, “Oh man, I did that earlier this season. It was a great workout, but it hurt! “
Somewhere behind me, there was the of sound a large and heavy door swing shut on rusted ancient hinges, closing with a resonant echo that dissolved into eerie silence.
Since commitment to a stupid idea is often key, I decided to change back into a more cycling-oriented attire before completely losing my nerve. Luckily, I had a backup set of dry clothes, so there was not the chilling sensation of damp and muddy chamois contact. About this time, it struck me that the C. Xavier Hilsen was shod with my older, much more worn set of tires. If any course conditions cried for every bit of tire surface area and knibbly bite-ability, this was it. Conditions continued to degrade visibly as the other race laps continued.
This was during the women’s race -
Hemming and hawing a bit, time suddenly seemed much shorter, and the reappearance of JimG was highly fortuitous. He dove into the task of swapping my muddy front tire from the Quickbeam over to the Hilsen. Quicker than I could hand him levers and a pump, the newer tread was in place, and there was pretty much nothing left to do but race.
I pedaled around a little bit, found a Honey Stinger Gu-analog in my pocket and fired that down for whatever good it might do. Then lined up in the wave of guys who were old enough to know better. Putting my foot down as we waited for instructions, it seemed to set very deeply into the mud. There was no longer any grass left to speak of. When I picked my foot up for a second, the attached mud made it appreciably heavier. Of course, once you are out there with a number pinned to your side, you have pretty much traded away any opportunity to slink unnoticed back to the car.
An electric guitar version of the star-spangled banner played, and then the young pup B’s headed out. A minute or so later, we dug in and saddled up. Things felt a little clunky at the start, and it seemed as though my swapped-in-from-the-MB1 WTB saddle was a trifle too high. Beginner’s error, but no time to mess with it.
Actually. Honestly. The “beginner’s error” in this race was bothering to bring a bike with gears. For the next 45 minutes or so, there was no chance of spinning out the Quickbeam, and although the C. X. Hilsen would’ve gotten jealous, I think it secretly would have been very happy to stay in the back of the dry vehicle. Plus, there would have been a few less surfaces to pile on mud.
I suppose for the first 15 minutes or so, things didn’t really feel that bad. Slipped, slid and slogged a bit, to be sure, but nothing really horrible. Then I noticed that the mud seemed to be packing up a bit. Then a bit more. The bike began to get noticeably heavy. Then my body began to get noticeably heavy. The bicycle had an excuse, as it was adding mud that I couldn’t manage to shed through momentum, the odd bunny hop or simply dropping the bike hard after shouldering it. The race became a bit of a slog.
They say when you’re head is down, you’re in a bit of trouble. In the above photo, you’ll notice that if my head were any further down, it would start going up. I must point out though, in this small sized image of Gino’s photo, it appears as though my eyes are closed too. They weren’t. I mean, it wasn’t that bad.
The course continued to dish out its challenges. The intended directional input seemed to matter less and less with each lap. Each time down the creek dip brought with it new and interesting explorations of geometry. I think I manged to stay upright most of the times, but it wasn’t pretty and the tangential angle began earlier each time. The runups were, well…runups. In the singlespeed race, I’d managed to pedal up some of the time, but now the power had seeped out of my legs and it became a game of trying to ride the momentum to the moment of inertial loss, then hop off and try to find some angle of toe entry or foot splaying that would generate something resembling grip.
I think I cursed once. Well, I know I did. But, I did apologize.
However low optimism set in the west, somewhere through the mud-soaked haze I could hear Gino and JimG yelling. At some point, Gino ran alongside for a while (well, let’s be honest here - he trotted… Ok…he at least walked briskly…) barking encouragement and snapping a few photos. I don’t think I thanked him enough afterwards - it was actually quite helpful.
The short stair runup became a weird thing to fear each lap, but the tactile sensation became quite loathesome. As it was the one place to be shouldering the bike, I would grab the downtube. Each time, there was a thick, cold hunk of mud which would form into my glove, creating one of those weird, finger imprint shapes that was popular on golf club handles for a while.
The announcer took up some of the heckling as well, as I would generally go by with few, if any competitors around. At one point, I guess he figured out this was my second race, and offered the observation that it must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time. Only, he again mined that for all the humor it was worth.
Yep. Like I didn’t think of that, myself.
That, my friends, is one muddy bike. I guess it kinda gives away the fact that I didn’t use the big ring too much during the race. But, it was over.
We hung for a while watching the A’s go past. The rain which I’d prayed for during my race finally came. I used up 8 or 10 water bottles to try to knock off enough mud to load it onto the roof rack. JimG was kind enough to offer the use of the shower at his hotel room. Gino was resourceful enough to notice a stray hose outside the same hotel and I got to play euro-trash bike racer and hose everything off near the front entrance.
We rested a bit, and then headed up to Healdsburg, where aside from a tippy table dropping a pint or so of someone elsee’s beer onto my lap, it continued to be a great evening. Bear Republic serves a great root beer and ale, some darned fine polenta and one of the zippiest concoctions of garlic fries you are likely to come across.
The company was off-the-charts great, and it was wonderful to cross the streams - introducing the Bay Areans and Chico Hooligans forged friendships which should continue to grow in future rides and outings.
Rumor has it that we may all head to the next CX Nats up in Bend, Oregon in December. Word. (Um… do the kids still say that?)
Update 3/4 - Now links to site rather than playing. Click above to see the video.
Nothing like the possibility of tetanus and ingesting motor oil while on the course. Urban decay never looked so beautiful. Another reason why Bilenky rocks.
Bilenky Cycle Works Junkyard Cross Race
First off, in between classes and projects last weekend, I finally cobbled together a finished video from the Golden Gate Park cyclocross race which took place on November 30th. This is the footage from the Men’s A and Singlespeed race, which ran at the same time. Runs about 4:25 and has some music and folks yelling, so don’t get caught if you are checking it from work.
Now - once the racing is over, I’m sure someone such as yourself must be asking the following question:
“Ok, Jim. I’ve duked it out on the course and had a grand old time, but now I’ve changed out of my racing kit and just don’t know what to wear. I feel a little badly because all I have is my “One Cog - Zero Excuses” T-shirt, but - forgive me for I have lapsed - I raced a multi-gear rig in my division. Is there anything you know that might be soft and comfy, yet have the graphic trendiness I so highly desire?”
In fact, I do -
The brand-new-from-my-surfin’-screenprinter Cyclocross “More Cowbell” T-shirt.
The color is slightly off in these first photos - the ink is definitely black on both images, and the shirt color is a deep burnt brownish-orange. If you are interested, I’ve got size mediums through 2XL available right now. There’s more detailed images to be found here.
$20 plus $5.25 for Priority Mail Shipping. These can be combined with a calendar for the same shipping price.
(The combined shipping will be calculated/corrected manually until I get these things integrated.)
You can order your shirt by clicking this button, or pop me an email if you want to pay by check or money order.
Here’s the footage from the Men’s B 35+/45+ race. Managed to stay on the winner’s lap this time, which was a moral, if not specific victory. Also bumped into Morgan in real life, which was fun. Especially since I recognized him after he’d made an unsolicited complimentary comment on the C. Xavier Hilsen.
Music is by the Stairwell Sisters and then Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban. More video to follow - there’s footage from the Men’s A and Singlespeed race which I’m going through now. Photos are already posted at flickr, though there will be some more added once they are sliced out of the video.
This one was fun to put together. My wife shot the footage (as she did in the previous one as well) during the Men’s B race at Sierra Point. This was the first race “under the lights”. Music is from a Calexico song called “Close Behind”, which has an overtly Morricone feel to it and the title seemed to fit. It runs a little less than 3 minutes. Enjoy!
Fast and dusty. Well, I ended up dusty and most of the other folks were fast. Short write-up to follow, though it’ll read something like, “and then it got dusty and kinda confusing…”
I’ve also got a video together for the Men’s B race, which took place under the lights. My wife got some gret footage there. I’ll get that uploaded this evening. Gotta run (to work) this AM…