grand tour season

… is upon us with the imminent start of the centenary giro d’italia. saw this clip on belgium knee warmers, and thought it was worth sharing.


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may is bike month

and may is here. you can check out a lot of the bike month events over at queen city bike. a number of local retailers (cycling and non) are offering discounts to folks who shop on their bikes.

two other quick highlights (after all, there’s a whole month of events ahead of us, and then we need to commit to the next month, and the month after that, and then the year, and and and …):

may 11-15 is bike to work week, with thursday may 14 as cincinnati bike to work day, and …

on may 16 the mobo bicycle coop is having its third annual fundraising bash: it’s a “celebration of mobo’s presence in our community and a rockin’ good time.  come for the live music and dj, food and drink, great raffle and auction items, and more!” sounds like a plan.

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i’m taking a much-needed sunday with the family this weekend, and skipping a race i even pre-registered for.

i’m good with this.

but i do find myself looking at the clock, thinking about what i’d be doing right now if i were at the race.

(11:50: downing a prerace gel, rolling around the staging area, already warmed up, stretching a little, getting ready to position myself for the start.)

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[shaking head] man, what was he thinking (if anything)?

i remember cheering him on, deeply moved if i’m totally honest, during his solo effort with a broken collarbone in the ’03 tdf. now this. not even floyd landis has fallen this far.

[edited to add: hamilton retired today after the announcement of his positive. the twist? he acknowledges taking the substance (a steroid) but says that it was an ingredient in something he took to alleviate his depression. even i’m not cynical enough to beat that horse. sorry it’s come to this, tyler, and best of luck in your postracing life. and now that you’re not regulated by UCI and WADA, i hope you can get the help you need and the medicine to go with it.]

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pre race tunes

i was driving to a race this past weekend — usually this means carpooling with a teammate and chatting, or caravaning the whole family up for a day at the races, but for this particular drive i was alone. with my thoughts. and my nerves. before a race.

i needed some music, and i needed it fast.

so i slipped a CD in the player (i know, so old-school), and lo and behold, it turned out to be the perfect pre-race music for me: pretty mellow, good rolling rhythm that reminds of a nice steady 85 rpm cadence, doesn’t require too much focus. it was perfect atmosphere for thinking calmly about the upcoming few hours, getting my mind right so i wouldn’t be tempted to try a solo break from the gun and blow up and end up dnf’ing.

see, i tend to get kinda geeked up before races — the last thing i need is the ramones, or nirvana, or public enemy, or rage against the machine, or any other in-your-face band (and yes, i know i’m aging myself with these references). as much as i like all of these (well, i never quite got the rage thing, but they are loud and urgent), their music just jangles my already jangled nerves.

what i need is the mellow groove as i control my breathing and focus on relaxing, sharpening my reflexes, calming the nerves that leave me unfocused and unprepared. i’m not talking about downright sleepy stuff, as much as i like that music in other parts of my life (no iron & wine or nick drake).

but i know that some riders really like the musical equivalent of smelling salts to get them pumped up (the robert duvall and flight of the valkyries school), while others find any music at all a distraction from focusing on the task at hand.

what (if any) music gets you ready? do you have a lucky song? and what’s your feeling about riders blaring music from their cars before a race for everyone to hear? i mean, the last thing i want is ‘sweet home alabama’ worming its way through my brain because some joker had his car stereo up to 11 as he warmed up on the trainer. on the other hand, i totally get the prerace atmosphere of idle chatter, nervously waiting in line for the toilet, and a kind of aural battle of the bands in the parking lot.

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for planning your summer racing schedule

Click below for a peek at the flyer for what looks like a great weekend of racing at the end of June. Cincinnati’s Hyde Park Blast and Columbus’ Tour de Grandview are teaming up to improve two already-great events.


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in praise of the yellow line

yellowlineoh yellow line, snaking, slick, constant companion on my left, marking an invisible wall, keeping me safe. solid or dashed, double or single, it matters not: you are there, the boundary between right and wrong, between foul and fair, between onrushing burger-munching latte-sippers encased in steel at 45 mph and comparatively benign carbon and flesh at 22.7 mph.

others flout your presence, scoff at your warning, scoot up on your left, ignore your silent reproach to gain a few postions in the pack, to cut a corner, even to launch an attack.

not i! i give you as wide berth as possible, avoiding the chasm on your left, the pit of despair, the meaningless risk. when i find myself too close, even touching your battlements, i lean right into the shoulder of my competitor rather than breach your invisible wall.

just this past sunday, yellow line, i felt the rubber of my tires hit your paint, felt the swell of the pack as it drifted left, nudging me further, seductively inviting me to slide into into the oncoming lane, move around this oh-so-sketchy guy in front of me and find a safer, more strategic spot in the pack. as i wavered under the pack’s spell, i heard a rumbling noise ahead, and snapped out of it just in time to heed your warning, lean right, and feel on my face the breeze of that hurtling f-250 trailing a pleasure craft.

thank you, yellow line — for the rest of the day i steered very clear of you, not because i don’t like you, but because i respect you. and when the crash came, as crashes do, a mile from the finish, it began on the left, near you. did you see what happened? i was far away, crunching gravel up the right side.

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