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Friday, October 31, 2008

Psycho-Cross!


Okay, I give. Click on the picture for the real Best Bike Blog Ever, Carpet Machine. I cannot compete with jumping bikes through fire. I am truely humbled.

Oh yeah...Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mangotmedown and other new CX Cats


USA cycling has done a great job with the new cyclocross categories divided by expertise level and age. However, cross is growing. I heard they’re getting fields of 100 in the Portland area. Already there are single speed CX categories and Clydesdale categories for the big girls and boys. Still, a one time podium level rider can all of a sudden find themselves struggling not to get lapped because of changes with work, family or a new found love of Cheetos. Maybe some adjustment is necessary. To help spread out the ever growing fields and make competition fairer, I’ve come up with a few ideas for new CX sub-categories based rider lifestyle. For example there could be a Cat 3 Ringers race, a Masters 1/2/3 35+ Junkies race or maybe a Cat 3/4 45+ Single Speed Clydesdale Mangotmedown Race.

Junkies:
People with no responsibilities beyond racing bicycles. I don’t know how you managed to make the rest of your life a mere formality, but congratulations to you, (and your left hand) for getting it done. You’re in a class by yourself.

Ringers:
People with athletic careers. Gym teachers, fitness instructors, pole dancers, I’m on to you. You can call it “work” all you want, but I know it’s all a diabolical secret evil training camp that you actually get paid for.

Loafers:
People with barely supervised day jobs. Like George Costanza from Seinfeld you sleep under your desk, waltz out everyday at 11a for a two hour “lunch” ride, roll into work whenever you need to pick up your check, and have the cowbells to send out emails suggesting that others meet you for a five o’clock ride on a weekday. You got it pretty good so just shut up.

Lovahs:
Loafers with relationships. You’ve got the time to train, you just have to be strategic about it and divide your time wisely between your significant other and your true love…your bike.

Snackers:
Gu, Cytomax and Gatorade? What’s wrong with McNuggets tucked in the elastic of your shorts, Coca-cola in the water bottles and ham gravy recovery drinks? Not a damn thing, but you definitely have no business lining up behind someone with Stars and Stripes on their sleeves.

Babymama or Babydaddy:
Lovahs who took it to a whole nutha level and whose training time in minutes is far surpassed by the number of diapers changed this week. Besides, you only got 3 hours of sleep this week; it’s just too dangerous to ride with other people. That’s why we’ll take down the caution tape and get rid of the barriers for your one lap race. We’ll start the race by dropping a bomb, because even a starter’s pistol may not get you to lift your big sleepy head off your handlebars.

Mangotmedown:
You got the lettuce to support your bike fetish, now only if you had the time to eek in your only thirty minute ride this week before your boss calls on your PDA again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

CX Dismount Epiphany-The Answer You've Been Looking For

As a rule, I pooh-pooh blogging about other blogs. It gives me the media heebie jeebies. I equate blogging about blogs to TV shows about radio shows, movies about newspapers or any combination you can think of. There’s just something not right about it. However, after reading the comments on Belgian pro Christine Vardaros’ blog about an entry titled “Just an average CX training day in Belgium,” (great article about running into Mario De Clercq on a CX practice loop) I noticed a nugget of supreme importance. This tiny little piece of information is at the root of a debate between me and nearly ever single crosser I know. It’s something that you may discover on your own. However, you would never know it with 100 percent of your soul unless you had a Belgian cyclocross coach, had complete disregard for sounding too naïve to ask a pro…or had to execute a perfect dismount in front of cyclocross god Mario De Clercq. Luckily, Christine (pictured left: photo from her blog) had to do just that and one such reader, at the risk of sounding naïve, had the cowbells to toss the question out there for the world to see. GCDavid was the first to comment on the post. Of all the things that could be said or asked about running into Mario DeClercq while practicing CX in Belgium, his question was simple. “Dismount: right leg behind left or in front of left??”

I whacked my computer hoping it would make a sound on Christine’s end and get her attention to answer. “Peanut? Are you there? GCDavid has a question of utmost importance. Whack!” Seven hours passed before she answered. With her blog minimized on my computer, I nearly had an aneurism waiting. Then, the epiphany posted.

In the comments of this entry on her blog, Christine Vardaros says the following regarding how you should step when dismounting your cyclocross bike, especially when you’re doing it in front of CX hero Mario De Clercq. I hope you are sitting down, because the ceiling is about to open with pretty white Belgian angels and cherubs flying around playing harp music:

“Right foot in front of left when you are doing a high speed flat dismount. Your right foot serves as the first step of the run. And the right food steps behind left when you are getting off at slower speed or on an uphill. Hope that helps.”

Hope that helps??!! Oh my god woman! You are a saint! (A little peanut shaped fast cyclocrossing saint) And, thank you GCDavid, wherever you are, for having a big set of jangly cowbells to ask.

My buddy and BioWheels/Reece-Campbell teammate Tony and I have been debating this as if should be one way or the other. He watches so many cross videos on Belgium Knee Warmers blog and Crosstube.net that his girlfriend probably wishes it was porn. He insists the “right foot behind” is the faster way. However, “right foot in front” is second nature to me and therefore faster for me. So our rule has been whatever is faster for you…until now.

Alas, Christine has pointed out that both ways have their place and are faster given the situation and an ungodly amount of practice in front of cyclocross gods like Mario De Clercq. And, my guess (as a person with a degree in broadcasting) is that most CX dismount videos are shot at a slower portion of the course where it’s easier to film the riders for a longer period of time and consequently the “right foot behind” dismount is the one that is most prevalent on the videos.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Springtime In The Rockies

“Put a jacket on! What do think this is? Springtime in the Rockies! You’re gonna catch a cold!” My mother engrained that phrase in my head during my youth. To her I would always be underdressed when there was a nip in the air, but I felt fine. Really mom, I wasn’t being a brat. I think that’s one of the reasons I love cyclocross. My engine runs a little hot and I’m a little more adept at operating when it’s chilly. Consequently I wither like a nervous bride in humidity and heat. This past week, sixty degree days slipped down from Canada and into Cincinnati. Ahhh. It feels good, except for the extra goobers that seem to find their way out of your nose when the weather turns chilly. A day ago we covered the backyard basil for our first overnight freeze warning. Leaves litter my yard. The forecast is calling for a soggy cyclocross course at the USGP in Louisville this weekend. It’ll probably be a little crusty when the first racers warm up on the course. It’s warm enough for shorts, but chilly enough for long fingered gloves and long sleeves on the bike. It’s springtime in the Rockies weather.

Maybe my helmet’s on too tight. I could be wrong to romanticize about weather that feels like springtime in the Rockies. With the recent UCI stories posted here, we may have some readers from Colorado. Post a comment. Let the world know if my mom was right and it’s too cold to go out without a jacket when it’s springtime in the Rockies. The closest I’ve come is Breckenridge in June. (photo above is Breckenridge in May) Sure springtime in Ohio is usually around mid-April, but at nearly ten thousand feet, spring doesn’t start popping for a few more weeks in Breck. At that time, snow stubbornly stuck to the tips Ten Mile range, the trail that crossed the ridgeline into the back bowls of Vail was closed to bikes and frost sparkled on the porch when I stepped out with a morning coffee. Then, the sun rose over mountains warming the air just enough to where you couldn’t see your breath, cool enough for arm warmers but toasty enough for riding in shorts. It’s perfect. My mom was totally insane. Love her. Think the world of her. But she’s totally whacked on this one. Myth: Busted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Huckin' With Huck: So Long Delta Queen

Unless you seek out the things that make your town unique, you might as well live in Anytown, USA. Cincinnati is definitely not Anytown to me, so when I can, I like to get out and do Cincinnati things, be a tourist in my own hometown. One of the things that make the Queen City the Queen City is its rich history as a rivertown. The historic wooden paddleboat, the Delta Queen, built in 1926, made its last stop in it’s homeport of Cincinnati today. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1989 but unable to continue operating due to fire regulations, at five o’clock today the Delta Queen will steam off to it’s final resting spot down river, possibly in New Orleans. Maybe it’ll make day trips in the future, maybe there’s a tiny chance she’ll come back for the next Tall Stacks festival, but its days as an overnight passenger ship are numbered. As a transplanted Cincinnatian, it was my chance to see a bit of the history in the making. To get as close as possible, I rode my bike down to the public landing on the Ohio River to see her off and take a few photos with my crappy phone camera.

The mood was sort of somber. The 100 or so journalists and people taking pictures were pretty quiet. Alone or in groups of two or three they snapped photos of the big red stern wheel (pictured left), pointed out details of the ornamental wood work to each other, and one couple nearly went for a swim while posing for a the perfect photo with the smoke stack wafting in the background. From what I’ve read, the bell on the Delta Queen is the same bell from the boat that Mark Twain rode on in his travels. The boat is enormous, standing on shore it towered over 4 stories above my head and stretched 176 feet from bow to stern. I couldn’t get it all in one picture, especially with my crappy phone camera.

So, today’s blog isn’t so much about cycling, as it is the things you witness on your bike. Today it was history, Huck Finn type history. So long Delta Queen.

To learn more, here’s the Delta Queen’s Website

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dear: Waders, Cage Fighters, Hunters, Bull Riders and Hockey Fans

We got ‘er done! Versus is on Time Warner Cable in Cincinnati (Channel 162.) I watched the Giro Di Lombardia around Italy’s Lake Como yesterday, or as Bobke calls it “Lumbar-dee-ah.” I don’t remember getting a letter announcing the “new channel.” I had all but given up, but on one of my errant remote control expeditions through the channels this past Wednesday, I discovered Versus on TWC. I’ve been calling customer service and asking TWC marketing people about it since we moved to Ohio last fall. However, not once did it cross my mind to band together with people who enjoy fishing, extreme cage fighting, guns, bull riding and hockey to get ‘er done.

We’re the Village People of sports. Maybe that’s what it took. The cyclist, the hunter, the fishing enthusiast, the octagon fighter, the bull rider and the hockey fan singing “V-E-R-S-U-S” in unison like “Y-M-C-A.” We macho macho people have to stick together. If you let our woosie Lycra slide, we’ll look the other way at the five minute sweaty shirtless face-in-the-crotch hombre on hombre submission holds. All kidding aside, when you see cycling’s best battle at freeway speeds on the cobblestones of Belgium when there’s still snow on the ground, you’ll see that cycling takes the patience of a fisherman, the balance of a bull rider, the tactfulness and grit of a hunter, the teamwork of the Red Wings, and the brutal quickness and endurance of cage fighting. Now I’m starting to figure out why all these different sports share the same channel. So, thanks for threatening to high stick, hook and pump lead into the behind of TWC Cincinnati for eight seconds until they finally tapped out, bonked and gave us our Versus.

TWC Cincinnati Channel Lineup with Versus (Channel 162)
Link to post a “Thank You” to TWC Cincinnati

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Best Bike Shops Ever...to stir emotion

From Key West to Kaanapali, I’ve been lucky to ride raging roads and trick trails. Along the way, I’ve been to a few bike shops…okay quite a few. On vacation, I frequent bike shops like an old lady visits candle shops. Out off all these bike shops, only a select few strike an emotional chord with me. It’s tough to describe, but when I think of A Racers Edge (now Colorado Freeride) in Breckenridge I can almost hear the shop dog panting as I throw a stick into the parking lot bushes and he dutifully retrieves it for the umteenth time. There are some places I’ve been to where I haven’t felt an affinity for a shop, Park City Utah for example. I could stare off into space and recall the vistas from the Mid Mountain trail for hours, but none of the shops there stir my emotions. There are unique places like Poison Spider in Moab that are unbelievable cool shops and have been listed as a best bike shops, but not for me. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time there to get “the feeling.” On the other side of the handlebar, there are shops on this list that aren’t in anyone’s top ten cycling vacation locations, like The Pony Shop in the northern suburbs of Chicago. That’s where my wife bought her first boutique mountain bike, a Breezer Thunder.

I really didn’t have any criteria when this article came to mind. I literally scribbled out this list in less two minutes on a Post-It-Note. It was not agonizing in the least, all top of mind. More often than not, it had nothing to do with brands, funky logos, cool names, bike types, prices or selection, even though I purchased something at every one of them. For some, the reason they are on my list is due to their incredibly personal enthusiastic warm friendly and genuine customer service. That goes a long way with me. I bet if I walked back into Bike Barn in Phoenix, Mary the manager would remember us. Atmosphere seemed to be a close second. Even if you’re not a cyclist, just sitting on the porch at Colorado Freeride in Breckenridge after a ride along the Ten Mile Range’s Peaks trail would be a leave a long lasting almost mystic memory, like a golfer in the Augusta clubhouse looking out at the 18th green after a great round. For lack of a better term, an edge of uniqueness nostalgia and/or history seemed to take third. Durango Cyclery has all three.

Wiliamson Bicycle Works: Madison WI
With a sign like that you think it was a bar. It is Madison, Wisconsin after all, home of the Badgers, where I first dated my wife. Named after Williamson Street, Willy Street defines downtown Madison and, like an isthmus in itself, divides the city from lake Monona. Just a long block or two away from the West Washington location, on Saturdays there’s a farmers market around the state capitol square with the capitol building as a majestic centerpiece. This shop is a destination. It’s right off the lakefront bike path and has a beautiful view from the back lot, even in winter when the lake is frozen over and speckled with ice fishing shanties. It’s boutiquey, lodgey, warehouse-ish. I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s something artistic about the multiple levels and old world Wisconsin hand crafted wood interior that just feels good, like a bike humidor. Lean your bike against the building, crack open a Coke and a Snickers and enjoy a Wisconsin summer day on the lake.

Durango Cyclery Durango, CO
When I first visited Durango, we stayed with former mechanic Greg Jadrych. I think he works for a survey company now. We became friends after buying a Breezer Thunder from him when he worked at The Pony Shop outside of Chicago. He acted on his cycling dream and moved to Durango. We still exchange Christmas cards. While Greg turned us on to the shop, it wasn’t only his hospitality and generosity that leaves a warm spot in my heart for Durango Cyclery. Look at the photo, just like Colorado Freeride in Breckenridge, you wonder what or who resided there before being a bike shop. Another part of it was their bumper sticker that read “Friends Don’t Let Friends Ride Junk.” It’s been well over ten years since I’ve been there. I don’t remember any memorabilia on the walls, but you could just feel the presence of the talent that has walked through the door race-day morning. Lastly, it’s in Durango. You know what’s wrong with mountain biking in Durango? Not a G-D thing! To this day, I can vividly remember a fireroad descent Greg and I raced down in the mid 90’s. At the bottom, Greg and I spit on our rims. It sizzled with the heat built up from the hairy downhill. Yeah, rim brakes. Later that day, I’d discover that the braking surface had actually worn thin and cracked under braking heat. I was only days into a 3 week trip which would take us through Moab and wrap up with the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival back in Wisconsin. Greg opened up the shop after-hours and sold me a new wheel for the rest of the trip. I still have the hub from that fried wheel. All those memories rest on the dusty rafters at Durango Cyclery.

Bike Barn Phoenix, AZ
Mary, the shop manager pictured left, is an angel. Maybe it’s because she, like myself, is originally from Wisconsin that I will always remember her. She is by far the best bike shop manager/employee ever. I’m not kidding. If you own a shop, work at one or aspire to, it’d be worth the plane ticket to Phoenix to visit her and take notes. To steal a line from Mad TV, she takes customer service to a “ho-nutha-level.” I’ve only met the woman once. She oozes enthusiasm, kindness and generosity. After being completely turned off by a complete a-hole running an office park outfitter operation on the northwest side of town, I set out to find another shop. Sorry. Vacation time is too short to deal with a-holes. Bike Barn is kind of in the hood of Phoenix. The building looks like a little red barn, albeit urban. It’s worth the extra few stoplights and traffic jams to seek it out. In my search for a shop to rent from, I popped in a great little triathlon shop a few miles away from Bike Barn. Since they didn’t rent mountain bikes, the clerk knew right away to call Mary. Thinking ahead, Mary asked the guy at the Tri shop for our sizes over the phone. When we got to Bike Barn, maybe 20 minutes later, our bikes were all set up except for the pedals. That’s trust. That’s how you make customers for life, before you’ve ever even met them. Her level of energy and interest in her customers still confounds me.

The Pony Shop Evanston IL
I’ve probably only heard the bell on the door of the Pony Shop ring a handful of times when we lived in the northern suburbs of Chicago, near Northwestern University. Up until this point, I’d owned exactly two heavy-ass mountain bikes, a yellow splash painted Trek 830 and a used Proflex 853 with a Girvin flexstem. I distinctively remember oogling an Independent Fabrications in the window of a shop in Highland Park, but it would be another ten years til I would own one. The Pony Shop is where my wife bought her first boutique bike, a blue and white Breezer Thunder with XT and no suspension. It cost over $1200, still a lot now, a fortune then. Greg (mentioned above in the Durango Cyclery segment), was the person we bought it from. One day when we brought it back in for service to fix noisy brakes, Greg gave us a tool he had created. It was a spoke. One end was bent into a “U-shaped” handle. The other was sharpened and tweaked at a 90 degree angle. It was a brilliant tool to clean the tiny rocks and rim debris out of the brake pads. It’s still in my tool box and I recently used it on my cyclocross canti’s. Like the Breezer, and my fond memories of the Pony Shop, I will keep that freaky homemade tool forever.

BioWheels Asheville, NC
Nothing against the Cincinnati BioWheels which I race for, BioWheels-Asheville feels like home base whenever we travel to Pisgah, ride the Blue Ridge Parkway or venture into Brevard and the trails at Dupont. Their first shop resided at an old service station complete with the bay holes in the floor where car mechanics used to change oil. To have a bike shop there, it was almost a bizarre way of recycling or flipping the bird to the automobile. Recently, owner Matt Johnson, acted on his quirky dream of recycling, decided to move the shop and renovate a delapatated downtown Asheville building into a green bike shop. Solar panels, recycled materials, the works went into the new shop. It’s beautiful and would make Al Gore proud. Green and healthy, the name BioWheels just fits. And BioWheels fits perfectly into the grassroots (dare I say hippy dippy?) nature of Asheville. There’s that feeling again. One fourth of July, after an afternoon ride at Bent Creek we returned to the shop, climbed up a ladder, and sat on the roof to watch the fireworks. When was the last time you did that at a bike shop?

A Racers Edge Breckenridge, CO
When I sought out a photo online, I realized that “A Racer’s Edge” in Breckenridge must have changed hands or names to Colorado Freeride. I might have to return. But, from the looks of the picture, the buildings and the parking lot are pretty much the same. It’s made up of what seems like three or four buildings put together over the history of the town. I wonder if the shop dog is still there? That thing would chase sticks forever. While the service, employees and merchandise at the shop were good, the business itself isn’t why I feel an affinity for this place. It’s something about that dog, changing in the gravel parking lot, the annual end-of-summer tent sale, the downtown location and the fact that nearly every ride I did from that shop ends with a seemingly eternal downhill. After a ride up Bankers Tank, I distinctly remember taking off my helmet, resting my rental against the building, sitting on that little porch and gazing at the mountains that encircle the town while sipping a dusty water bottle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Cat Peed On Me...and other excuses for missing a race

We are dangerously close to the first original post on The Best Bike Blog Ever. Granted the stories about Cincinnati's UCI 3-day cyclocross weekend were original, however they weren't written specifically for this blog. If you didn't know, AOL is closing it's Journals. As of October 31st my former blog, "Joe Biker" on AOL, will be gone forever, update your bookmarks & favorites. While just about everything has been moved and I'm pretty happy with the layout and appearance, I regretfully haven't had time to write new content for The Best Bike Blog Ever. In the works is an article about the handful of bike shops scattered across the nation from Key West to Kaanapali that live in the happy dusty corners of my travel memories. Stay tuned and thanks for reading. Til then, here's a classic from the former Joe Biker Blog on AOL dated Thursday, July 5, 2007.

The Cat Peed On Me...and other excuses for missing a race

The cat peed on me. That’s why I didn’t race DINO AMBC at Muskawhatevertuck. Now, I know what you’re saying, “but you’re Joe Biker and nothing stops you from racing!” Well I’m sorry teammates and friends. Apparently, this Bio Wheels racer has found his Kryptonite.

I’ve raced with a leg brace just months after ACL reconstruction. Carson Palmer ain’t got jack on me. Losing my tire a quarter of a lap into the 6 Hours of John Bryan last year didn’t stop me. I rode the rim, still kept the 2nd place team behind us. But cat piss on my backside at 5am the morning of an AMBC race spelled immediate disaster.

I got to bed late for a race, maybe around midnight. But, the DINO start time was noon, so I thought I could sleep till 8ish, and still make the 2 hour drive with plenty of time to get lost and/or get in a good warm up. It was a nice two Grolsh induced slumber.

We normally put our two cats, 14 year old Hanna and 2 year old Tsali (pretty cool name huh?) in the basement before we go to bed. Cats have a weird fascination with sleeping humans. And, that whole standing on your chest and sucking your breath out thing, myth or not, still freaks me out. So, in the basement they go. Except for last Saturday night. Remember I had two beers. For a cyclist, that’s pretty much hammered pass out drunk. So, we left the cats out and hit the hay.

I’m not sure if I noticed the time on the clock or the wetness on my butt first, both were shocking. It was 5:05am. I reached back with my right hand above the covers and they were soaked. “Did I? No. It’s not my front side! What the!? (sniffing my hand) Omigod!! Hanna!!!!”

The wetness went through the blanket, sheet, my boxers, the sheet with the elastic corners and down into the mattress pad. Luckily it stopped there. I’ve never stripped the bed so quick. At 5:06 the washer was going with the first load, while I sprayed Pet Out™ on the rest of the bedding.

After shoeing the bad cat in the basement, I sat in a huff on the sofa, turned on the replay of the Busch Series Nascar race on ESPN and realized that by the time I got two loads of wash through the dryer, it would be 7am. I wouldn’t be able to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a crack before I’d have to switch loads.

I was doomed. I was pissed off. I looked at the clock again and realized that I’d have to face some of the fastest mountain bike racers in the Midwest in a matter of hours on less than 5 hours sleep. Then my little back ache from doing the Hyde Park Blast the day before crept in.

In all reality I was considering a 2 hour drive to get my ass handed to me by those Indiana boys. No thanks. I opened my book, Bobke 2, and Bob Roll and I suffered together.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Powers & Compton Enjoy Cincinnati UCI 3-Way Wins

(Photo: Elite Men's Podium courtesy of Jeffry Jakucyk)
Note: Photos from UCI weekend are up at above link.

On day 3, the UCI C-1 race of the Cincinnati International Cyclocross Festival, Katie Compton (Spike Professional/Primus Mootry) and Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com) completed their hat-tricks of the first ever 3-day UCI weekend. Thanks to a broken chain on Jeremiah Bishop’s Trek just 250 meters to the line, Powers took the win in the Men’s race over Bishop (Trek Factory) at the BioWheels/United Dairy Farmers Harbin Park International sponsored by Reece-Campbell. Katie Compton held off a determined Georgia Gould (Luna) for a third day in a row to collect maximum UCI points on the weekend.

In the Men’s race, Jeremy Powers had his hands fuller than a plate of Cincinnati’s famous chili piled high with 3-way toppings. From the gun, it was 30mph+ into the hole-shot with no-one giving up ground early. By lap 2, Powers and six others made the selection: Troy Wells and teammate Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar), Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage), Bjorn Selander (Ridley Factory), Jeremiah Bishop (Trek Factory), and Barry Wicks (Kona). Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) dangled in 8th where he would finish the day.

On lap 4, knowing his teammate was back to defend, Wells made the first effort to whittle the group down and attacked the sand pit. Wicks was in trouble. The group freight-trained to the top of the water tower climb. On the backside of the course, through a tough down/up section, the group split with Bishop, Powers and Wells in the driver’s seat. Off the pace, Wicks made a bike change. However, by lap 5, Baker, Selander, and Summerhill managed to claw back on to Powers, Bishop and Wells. Through the deep sand on lap six, Wells went again, this time putting Bishop and Powers on the defensive and gapping Summerhill and Selander. Bishop and Powers weren’t done yet and made it back to the front. Within the lap, Summerhill and Selander did too. It would be decided on the last lap, high drama at Cincinnati’s Harbin Park.

The bell rang for lap 9, and this time Powers attacked near the finish line shaking Sumerhill and Selander for good. Seconds later, Wells countered before the sand, but it wasn’t enough to go solo. The trio of Powers, Wells and Bishop remained. Summerhill wasn’t about to drag Selander up to Clif Bar teammate Troy Wells. The tactics guaranteed Wells 3rd place. However, 1st or 2nd went out the window on the back side of the course when Wells paid the price for his multiple digs and was dropped by Powers and Bishop.

As they skated through the sand for the last time, it looked like a 2-up sprint between Powers and Bishop coming off an off-camber section 250 meters from the line, but disaster struck Bishop. His chain snapped as he put his short-track strength to the pedals for a last corner attack. The crowd gasped, tough break. Powers was away solo for the win. With a big gap to Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar) in third, Bishop ran across the finish line, collapsed on the ground, and was overheard saying he had it. He may have. The split chain was quickly snatched up by a young fan.

Unofficial Results:
1-Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com)
2-Jeremiah Bishop (Trek Factory)
3-Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)
4-Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar)
5-Bjorn Selander (Ridley Factory)


(Photo: Elite Women's Podium courtesy Jeffry Jakucyk)
In the Women’s race it was Compton and Gould “part-three” as the duo quickly broke free to an early lead with the familiar braids of Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) in 3rd and Sue Butler (MonavieCannondale.com), Laura Van Guilder (C3-Solay), Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella/Kona) and Devon Haskell (The Pony Shop) in tow. Gould worked hard to stay in contact with Compton on lap 2, but Compton was just a little more buttery smooth through the sand and Gould found herself fighting to keep Compton in sight through the corners. Compton and Gould consistently rode the deep uphill sandpit, while others, like Lloyd settled for dismounting and running. By the 3rd lap, with Compton off to the races, Gould digging deep to hang on to 2nd, and Lloyd in a relatively comfortable 3rd, all eyes now turned to the battle for 4th and 5th between Van Guilder, Winfield, Butler and Haskell.

Winfield went first, dropping Haskell from the group with an attack into the downhill sand pit as a drummer with a complete kit kick-drummed the the cowbell crazed crowd into a frenzy. It was now up to Winfield, Butler and Van Guilder to sort out the 4th and 5th spots. As they trio made their way through traffic on lap 5, Butler came out the victor, securing 4th with a gap to Winfield and Van Guilder. The bell rang and Winfield and Van Guilder were still together through the sand, over the barriers, past the pits and up the paved climb to the water tower. The crowd went silent waiting for their figures to appear at the Gazebo on the hill. “They’re still together,” someone shouted! With Compton raising her hand at the finish line, Winfield and Van Guilder cat-and-moused for position before the off camber section which lead into the last turn. Van Guilder attacked the off-camber and was gone.

Unofficial Results:
1-Katie Compton (Spike Professional/Primus Mootry)
2-Georgia Gould (Luna)
3-Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
4-Sue Butler (MonavieCannondale.com)
5-Laura Van Guilder (C3-Solay)


For more insight to the weekend read the blogs of Georgia Gould and Steve Tilford. Links to other pro's blogs are in the right hand column of main page.

This story appeared on Velonews.com and CXmagazine.com. I'm still holding my breath for free socks. :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

J-Pow & Compton Stampede to Wins at Cincinnati Cyclocross Festival Day 1



(photo: Katie Compton coutesy of Jeffery Jakucyk)

The course at England-Idlewild park rattled bones and turned wheels to tacos at the Darkhorse Cyclo-Stampede UCI C-2 in Burlington, KY on Friday, October 12th. The Cincinnati area hasn’t seen a soaking in weeks and the victims of the pounding course lined up for post-race massages at the Wellington Orthopedic tent throughout the day. The 80 degree heat compounded the hurt. In the Men’s race, after a lap-3 bike change which sent Barry Wicks (Kona) on the defensive, Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com) took advantage for the win. For the women, it wasn’t until lap 5 where National Champion Katie Compton (Spike Professional/Primus Mootry) put in a dig near the “horseshoe” chicane and shook Olympian Georgia Gould (Luna) off her wheel and escape to the finish.

In the Men’s Elite race, Powers and Danish National Champion Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) put the pedal to the metal at the gun and led to the holeshot with Barry Wicks in tow and Vitamin Cottage’s Jonathan Baker not too far off the pace. When Wicks met Powers, it was game-on and Parbo paid the price. That was just the beginning of Powers show of cross-power. On the same lap, Powers punched it opening a gap on Wicks around a tight off camber around a tree, but it was a little too early. Wicks closed it quickly with a “nasty” effort through the start finish which had a domino drop effect on Baker and Trek’s Jeremiah Bishop.

Wicks well of good fortune dried up on lap 3 when he took a bike change. J-Pow smelled blood and drilled it. Now away solo, he extended the lead by hopping a big log barrier to the cheers of the crowd. That move left Bishop, Baker and Wicks struggling to close it down and Powers in the lead for good. With Wicks dangling, it was Bishop who showed his short-track strength with a hard move that boosted him solidly into 2nd.

Powers lead increased to nearly a minute through laps 4-6. At this point, the battle was for 3rd between Wicks and a sweaty faced Baker. Before the barriers on lap 4, Baker got rattled on a bumpy off camper uphill u-turn and Wicks blasted by to claim 3rd. Parbo was still back and now closing on Baker. Parbo made contact and the duo worked together till the last lap where Parbo punched the pedals of his new carbon Leopard Cycles rig just before the barriers. Baker couldn’t answer. In the end it was all Powers with nearly a minute lead. He and Bishop both celebrated early by hopping the last lap barriers to the hoots of the Cincinnati spectators.

Unofficial Results:
1-Jeremy Powers Cyclocrossworld.com
2-Jeremiah Bishop Trek Factory
3-Barry Wicks Kona
4-Joachim Parbo CCV Leopard Cycles
5-Jonathan Baker Vitamin College
6-Troy Wells Team Clif Bar

As she watched the start of the 1/2/3 Masters Race, the always cheerful Katie Compton told her new hubby Mark Legg to have fun before his race, but it wasn’t all fun and games in the Women’s elite race. From the gun, Sue Butler (MonavieCannondale.com), Compton and Georgia Gould set a blazing pace through the chicane which put a big gap into a trio of Velo Bella women. With Gould leading the first lap, Compton went down in a wheel eating dip just past the barriers. Wasting no time, Gould upshifted and dug hard. With a show of the strength to come Compton made the bridge before the end of the lap. The two were away for good. With Sue Butler on her own in 3rd, that left Devon Haskell of Chicagoland bike shop “The Pony Shop” in a Velo Bella sandwich between Barbara Howe and Deidre Winfield. Howe fell off the pace on lap 4 leaving Winfield and Haskell to duel for 4th and 5th.

Back at the front, Gould and Compton traded barbs. Gould went first on lap 2, attacking at the same awkward off-camber tree that gave Jeremy Powers the win in the Men’s race. Compton, however, had other plans and quickly shut that down. The two stayed together until Compton showed her technical prowess in the downhill chicane. Gould tried to make up the ground but slightly bobbled on the same off camber u-turn that rattled Jonathan Baker in the Men’s race. Compton was gone. Behind, face flushed and sweat dripping from under her helmet, Sue Butler finished for a solid 3rd. Winfield turned on the gas on the last lap dropping Haskell to take 4th.

Unofficial Results:
1-Katie Compton (Spike Professional/Primus Mootry)
2-Georgia Gould (Luna)
3-Sue Butler (MonavieCannondale.com)
4-Deidre Winfield (VeloBella/Kona)
5-Devon Haskell (The Pony Shop)


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Joe's Meet The Pros

personalized greetings

Joachim Parbo nice guy, fast in the mud. Guessing he didn’t operate a toilet brush Monday night. Katie Compton, national champ, newlywed. However, something tells me she didn’t vacuum two floors of cat litter littered carpet this morning. Barry Wicks, too tall, too fast. He probably doesn’t know that the green bottle is the kitchen cleaner and the purple bottle is the polish for the counter tops.

It’s at these times, when I should be grateful to have the opportunity to polish my very own stainless steel kitchen appliances before I rush off to my career job in hopes of punching out in time to eek in an hour and a half of intervals at night, I get a little bitter. Sometimes you think the pro’s got it soo easy. All they have to do is ride their fancy new Sram Red equipped carbon bike day in and day out, travel to cool places every week and sing along with happy Disney songs on thier Ipods.

Then again, with sweat dripping into fresh road rash after the 15th 10 minute lactate threshold interval in the pouring rain on Monday’s four hour ride while wondering how lumpy this weekend's host housing stow-a-bed is going to be, I’m sure Joachim Parbo would probably rather be discovering a cat turd under the dryer or practically losing consciousness from the fumes of Lime-Away while scrubbing the mildew out of a steam shower.

This weekend the Joe’s meet the Pro’s at the big UCI 3-Day International Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati. Details here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mr. Negative and Ms.Yappity Yap


As we continue to make "Out of True" The Best Bike Blog Ever and move content from the Joe Biker Blog on AOL (AOL is closing it's Journals) here's another classic from the Joe Biker Blog dated November 15, 2006.

(Pictured-Tony & Mark...some of the best people to ride with)

It’s not coincidence that the people you ride with most are your best friends. More than most sports, cycling is built on strong relationships, from the Monday night club ride to the Tour De France.

Cycling’s certainly not the only sport that’s built on strong relationships. But, it’s definitely one of a few. Try having a 3 hour conversation while swimming, playing football or soccer. Cycling is a very social sport. Yet it can be brutal at the same time.


You see with cycling, even while racing, you can pretty much have a conversation with whoever you’re riding with most of the way. Rides and races sometimes last for hours. So, you’re gonna make damn sure you’re riding with someone you enjoy being with. I’m sure we’ve all been on a ride with Mr. Negative or Miss Yappity-Yap once…once. And, you probably know more about the personal lives of your riding partners than you do about your mother.

Golf is pretty social sport, bowling too, even baseball, if you count the dugout. But all lack the component of trust. In cycling you need to absolutely trust the skill, talent and concentration of the people your riding with for your own safety. One false move from the person(s) around you can cause catastrophe. Cross a wheel and you could be picking teeth out of the tarmac. There’s really no room for yelling “fore” or “heads up” in cycling.

It’s not really that calculated, but I think cyclists choose their cycling buddies and group rides carefully. It’s not like a pick up game of basketball at the park. Really, when was the last time you rode with complete strangers? And when you did, did you try to get a read on them, check out their calves, and make sure their bike didn’t have down tube shifters? You’re guilty of cycling profiling. Me too.

You need to trust the people you ride with have the skill to ride 3 inches off your wheel without touching it for hours at a time, still have the concentration to point out every single wheel-swallowing pothole and engage you in a great conversation. Dare I call it a relationship? You want to ride and race with people that will graciously give up their last Gu or lend you their spare water bottle. Yes, that’s a relationship. And, somehow out of all this trust, friendliness and companionship is an underlying fight to sprint for the town sign, be the first to clean the log obstacle, attack on the climb, make a bushwack pass in the single track and bring your riding buddies to the brink of the pukes.

No wonder people don’t get it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Deal With The Devil: An Open Letter To Frito Lay


As we continute to make "Out Of True" The Best Bike Blog Ever, enjoy this classic from AOL's Joe Biker Blog dated November 13th, 2006.


Dear Frito Lay,

This is pure evil…or, pure marketing genius. You must know how impossibly hard it is for cyclists to turn their back on an empty calorie laden powdered cheese covered crunchy snack, let alone one endorsed by the fastest animal in the world. But, alas, the cyclist is a hard nut to crack. We can resist. We can see past the initial yumminess of chowin’ on a Cheeto and envision ourselves being dropped by a pack of cyclists who were able to resist. It may not be easy being cheesy, but it’s even harder to be a weight conscious cyclist.

Congratulations. You have cracked the nut. You bastards. You’ll make ka-jillions!

By dressing up Chester Cheetah as a cyclist and taking a photo of him doing trick stunts on a mountain bike, my ability to resist what’s in the bag was overtook by what’s on the outside of the bag. You must know that cyclists by nature will buy anything with a picture of a bike on it. Damn you Cheetos. Personally I think the green "Smart Choice" label was a bit over the top, but it probably sealed the deal.

You dirty snakes! How did you find out? Did you pay off someone at the Fat Tire or Flying Dog beer companies? If you haven’t noticed both feature bikes on labels of their beer and I don’t know anyone who rides a bike who would choose a Bud Light over a beer with a bike on the label.

What’s your next evil plan for Chester Cheetah? Are you going to pin a Boston Marathon number to his fur in hopes of hoodwinking the finest runners in the world? Are you going to put him in some Speedos, mirrored goggles and take a picture of him in Honolulu in the hopes that Iron Man athletes wont see eating Cheetos as the equivalent of tying a cinder block around their bellies while jumping in the ocean?

Regardless of all this finger pointing, I think we can come to an agreement. I think this can be a win-win for the both of us. I’ve figured a way for you to make ka-jillions off selling Cheetos to salt hungry athletes while still keeping the cyclists happy. It’s called a team sponsorship. Hell Winston did it with NASCAR and you can do it with USCF.

Why not? Let’s takethis Cycling Chester Cheetah endorsement one step further. Why go fishing for cyclists at the supermarket, when you can entice them right on their bikes? Enclosed is a sponsorship agreement for the Joe Biker racing team. Just send a big fat check and we’ll be happy to sport Chester Cheetah jersey’s and bibs at all the races. Heck we’ll even slip coupons for free Cheetos under all the windshield wipers in the race parking lot.

Your fool for cycling marketing...and you know it...you rotten scoundrels.

Joe Biker

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ghost Dog: a Joe Biker Blog Classic

As we continue to make "Out Of True" The Best Bike Blog Ever, and make the transition from the Joe Biker Blog on AOL which is closing it's Journals, here's an updated version of a classic from the archive dated Thursday, October 10th, 2006.

The Myth: It’s not a ride in Northern Kentucky till a dog chases you

The Truth: It’s not a ride in Northern Kentucky till a dog chases you.

I’m sure no matter where you live you can substitute a different area where you live for Northern Kentucky, even if you live in LA or wherever. In that case, the slogan may go like this: it’s not a ride in Beverly Hills till the paparazzi chase you. Same difference. I’m sure they’re just as vicious.

There’s one dog in Northern Kentucky that is particularly stealthy and wicked fast. We call him Ghost Dog. We know the general area where he lives. The problem is where Ghost Dog lives and what he calls his territory are two entirely different things.

For those of you who live around Cincinnati, Ghost Dog’s territory is along Route 8 (the road that runs along the Ohio River) somewhere between Mentor and Silver Grove, KY. There’s only one dog that chases in that stretch…and that my friend is Ghost Dog.

I have no idea what breed or mix Ghost Dog is. I’m guessing’ he’s a mix of Usain Bolt, the Stealth Bomber and German Sheppard. He’s black with some gray mixed in, has a boxy build, doesn’t show up on radar and I’m sure has a few Olympic Gold medals hanging in his doghouse.

Not only does Ghost Dog have a kick like Lotto’s Robbie McEwen, he also knows how to hide and break out his sprint at just the right moment just like Lotto’s Robbie McEwen.

The stretch of road where Ghost Dog lives is protected by a steep little hill lined with tall scraggly bushes. So, Ghost Dog has the element of surprise on his side. Also, the fact that the other side of the road has no shoulder and a steep deep ditch along the Ohio River leaves the wayward cyclist no escape.

This is how ghost dog appears to a cyclist. You’re tooling along Route 8 at maybe 21mph. The sky is blue. The hills are a lush green. The river is peaceful. You’re likely watching a barge push it’s way up river. (Insert innocent happy whistle here) ALL OF A SUDDEN! There’s a beastly black dog 10 feet from you traveling at 35mph. Within .008 seconds he’s nipping’ at your Sidi’s and putting steak sauce on your sculptured calves. Your heart rates jacks to 102% asyou realize you are now the star of Scary Movie 5. He bounds in front, behind, to the left, to right…now dip baby dip. The hip-hop dance of death. And, you soon find yourself off your bike fending him off by trying to put your bike between your clean shaved legs and his drooling jowls.

Ghost Dog doesn’t want to eat you. He just wants to taste the fear in your sweat.

However, there are positive sides to Ghost Dog.

Number One: you get an accurate reading of your maximum heart rate.

Number Two: if you ever get strong enough to out-sprint Ghost Dog…it’s an automatic upgrade to a Category 2 USCF road-racing license.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flip Flops ARE NOT Shoes!


As we continue to make "Out Of True" The Best Bike Blog Ever, and make the transition from the Joe Biker Blog on AOL which is closing it's Journals, here's a classic from the archive dated Monday, July 1st, 2006.

Flip Flops ARE NOT Shoes!
My New Pre-Ride Checklist:

1) Shoes
2) Something to cover your nether region.

That’s it. Shoes and some sort of interface between your saddle and your under carriage is all you need to have a fun bike ride. But since, you’re usually not running around naked, chances are you’ll arrive at the trailhead with some sort of pants or shorts on. So, all you really need is shoes.

We’ve all seen those pre-ride checklists in the cycling magazines. What a bunch of BS. Everything from helmets to chain tools is on those things. This just in…breaking news…the only thing you REALLY REALLY need is shoes. You can forget everything but a decent pair of shoes and still have a good ride. Think about it. Aside from the basics of just having a bike (regardless of condition). What’s really necessary for a fun bike ride?

I forgot my shoes yesterday. We drove about 40 minutes to get to the trailhead. So, going home to get them really wasn’t an option. Oh yeah, I was wearing flip-flops. Flip flops are not shoes. Flip flops are foot coverings at best.

I’m sure there are a few of you out there that’ve ridden with Tevas or something like that. Tevas are nearly shoes. I rode with rubbery slippery Speedo flip-flops…AND IT SUCKED. Tevas may have worked better, simply because they’d probably stay on your feet. A pair of sneakers and I would’ve rode all friggin’ day.

I’m usually up for a challenge. But, riding in flip-flops wasn’t even a challenging type of fun. It was an exercise in how short of a ride can you have and still call it a ride. For the record, about a 45-minute ride.

The person I was riding with was very supportive. When I cleaned a hill, or a particularly nasty creek crossing she said “good job” and “you’re doin’ great.” Granted that made it fun…but it only lasted about two seconds before the suck settled back in.

No matter how I tried to position the pedal under the flip (or maybe it was the flop) it was just incredibly uncomfortable. One of those pains you just can’t ignore. Maybe that’s why so many torture type devices are based around the feet. Take hot coals for example. Feet are sensitive little bastards.

So, back to the checklist. A pair of shoes is all you need. By shoes I mean something that has a solid sole and covers the entire foot. That could be cowboy boots or a pair of Chuck Taylors. Had I had either of those, I would’ve had a fun ride.

For the record, you can forget the following and still have a fun bike ride:
1) Helmet (you may die, but you’ll have fun til you do)
2) Shorts & Jersey (as long as you got something down there you’re golden)
3) Tools, patch kit, tube, pump (completely unnecessary for fun)
4) Water & Food (see #1)

Shoes is it.

You got shoes…you got yourself a fun ride.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Out Of True Video: Louisville CX Carnage

While "Out Of True" is under construction becoming The Best Bike Blog Ever, enjoy this silly Cyclocross Video from the Tour of Louisville this past Sunday.

Perma Funkadelic


While "Out Of True" is under construction becoming the Best Bike Blog ever, here's a timeless classic: PERMA FUNKADELIC

Your friends won’t tell you, but I will, you stink. My high school gym teacher bestowed that wisdom upon me when he reminded us after class to take our stinking school issued shorts and shirts home for mom to wash over the weekend. Apparently some of your gym teachers and mothers let you down. If you’re a cyclist, who I assume you are, for Pete’s sake, wash your stinking kit after you ride. Every time! Damn man, woman, you’re killing us back here on your wheel. You stink. And, while you’re at it, just in case, wipe down that leather saddle too. There, I said it. Either your clothes or your saddle has the perma funk. Both need to be washed today.

I’ve heard reports out there, and I’ve been behind a foul behind a time or two myself this year. I’m not naming names, and the timeliness of this blog has nothing to do with it. The people I rode with over the last week are off the hook. However, there’s a few of you cyclists in Cincinnati that think they can wear their shorts and jersey for more than one ride on a washing. You can’t. You smell. Bad. This must stop. Don’t think because you’re a girl that you’re off the hook. Not so quick missy. Pretty flowers on a jersey don’t mask the stank. The time to wash is neigh. People are starting to talk. There’s a reason why people keep leaving gaps behind your wheel.

Cyclists come from all kinds of backgrounds and financial situations. I understand that I’m blessed to have a washing machine and a laundry room at the ready when I roll back home after a ride. I understand that not everyone can afford to have two or more cycling outfits. Here’s a secret that I’ve used on many a vacation, where I could only pack one kit and had no hotel laundry. Soap and water! It’s brilliant. Use it on your fine leather saddle and your chamois. Any cave dweller can do it.

Locate a nearby sink. If you can’t find one, locate a bucket, bowl, or pothole. Camping? Put a plastic bag in your helmet for a makeshift sink. Fill the reservoir with water. Put some soap in there. Any soap will do, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, bar soap, allthesame. Don’t be stingy. Swash it around a bit and mix the soap with the water. Toss your tainted taint protectors in there. Swash it around a bit more. Get the soapy water all mixed in real good. Drain the soapy water. Fill the bowl or bucket with water again. Rinse the soap out of your clothes. Wring them out. Hang them to dry on a shower rod, clothes hanger, luggage hook in your car or nearby tree. A jersey, short and two socks takes 4 minutes tops. Consider it a good core workout.

Now if your clothes have the super mega mega ultra death funk on them…yeah, you know what I’m taking about, it’s called perma funk. It’s not the latest slap-bass boogie album from Bootsy Collins. It’s the funk that doesn’t go away no matter how much you wash your clothes. Not sure? Do yourself and friends a favor go through ALL your cycling clothes and smell them. If they are what you call “clean,” but still have an odor to them, they got the funk. This usually happens to the jersey you love but refuse to part with because it’s still in good shape. You have two choices. Toss them or try this last resort. If the fabric on the butt is worn out, where riders behind you can see the Grand Canyon and surrounding shrubbery, for goodness sake throw them away. They are done. Even this lastresort cannot save them. Congratulations, you rode hard and long enough to actually wear out a pair of shorts. It happens. If the threads are in good shape, the fabric isn’t worn so thin that your junk is playing peek-a-boo, the chamois is still holding up to the beating from your big smelly ass, and there isn’t a picture of a giant googly eyed tree frog on them, then, and only then, there might be a chance you can save them with
Sport Wash. Otherwise, throw away your sweat stained stanky skinsuit.

Sport Wash? What is this? Ah ha. Let me enlighten you o’stinky one. Sport Wash is made by Penguin. It is specifically designed to get the most heinous stench out of workout clothes. Buy yourself a bottle. You’ll find it at your local bike shop, running store, or outdoor store. It's a little pricey, but costs far less than a new pair of shorts or the humiliation of someone actually telling you face-to-face in front of all your riding buddies that you stink. I am not getting any kickbacks for this advertising. I am not doing this for your sake. I am doing this because I can’t stand to ride behind stinky people. Here’s a link, buy some of this crap, wash your soiled chamois in it or be destined to a life of solo riding. Your choice.