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Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting Shlecked A Letter To The Best Bike Blog Ever About The Shleck Brothers

To: The Best Bike Blog Ever

Fr: Adam (a die hard fan of The Best Bike Blog Ever*)

Re: Getting Shlecked

02/27/09

I'm giving this question to you because of your abilities as a wordsmith. If some said, "That rider just got Schlecked," what would that mean to you? It sounds kind of slanderous and humiliating. I like the sound of it.

For real,

Adam

(Frank & Andy Shleck on Alpe d'Huez)

Dearest Adam,

For real and fo shizzle, getting Shlecked is a real adverb and/or verb and it is humiliating.  There are two Shleck brothers in the pro peloton that ride for Saxo Bank, Frank and Andy.  Getting Shlecked actually dates back to the mid 1960’s.  It's a little know fact that Frank and Andy Shleck’s father, Johnny Schleck rode the Tour de France and Vuelta a España between 1965 and 1974.  While I’m not too sure on father Johnny, Frank and Andy are skinny mean climbing beasts with the ability to turn the screws on a climb till you're crying for mama between bouts of the pukes.  To get Schlecked would be to get left a quivering humiliated jello legged mess feeling like you're rolling backwards on a climb while a noodle armed Schleck rides out of sight around the next switchback without even looking back to see if you're still there.  Getting Shlecked could only be considered slanderous if one of the Shleck brothers would happen to drop the other.

The phrase "Getting Shlecked" can apply outside of the Schleck brothers as long it involves someone getting dropped by a skinny mean climbing beast that's so confident in thier climbing abilities that they wouldn't even worry if someone's on their wheel.  However, there arent many riders like the Shleck brothers that I know, especially since most riders in the US are of the beefy sort.  But, say for example I lost a ton of weight and suddenly had pasta arms, weighed 130 in a wet skinsuit, and dropped you like a stone on a long unforgiving climb.  I could say I totally Shlecked you and you could say you totally got Shlecked by that guy who writes The Best Bike Blog Ever.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UFO or Unidentified Flying Calistoga Cyclocross Bike Racer

A teammate emailed this photo of me at the 2nd day of the Cincinnati UCI-3 day Weekend in Mddletown.  At first I thought, cool that's a nice photo of me, at least something good came out of my crappy showing in the Masters race.  Then, like most bike racers do, I wonderered how buff my legs look close up, so I zoomed in the photo and it revealed a Calistoga rider with his bike upside down and his arm halfway into the sand pit.  
I zoomed in again, last photo in series, and still don't know who that is.  
Since Calistoga riders are usually at the front of the pack, I'm guessing this sand wreck happened early in the race, because I later flatted and had a near death experience with overheating late in the race.  Leave a comment and let me know who that is and what the heck happened.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don’t Hate On The Run Homie: Three Running Rules For Cyclists

I used to be a hater of the run, quite frankly because the echoes of my Full Metal Jacket wannabe 7th grade gym teacher screaming “pull hard, finish strong” still tortures me to this day.  Running a mile and militant Phy-Ed teachers rank right up there with your parent’s choice in music on the suck-o-meter when you’re 12.  Now, a couple of decades later, I’ve realized running can live in harmony with my bike, maybe Mister Keller wasn’t a complete tool and maybe the 70’s band Bread wasn’t totally lame.  As a cyclist, running can be great training and just as great an escape, if you choose your routes carefully.  You could only snap the photo above of the Dorado, Puerto Rico coastline on foot.  In that way, running makes me appreciate my rides more.

Rule number one: I only run where I can’t ride a bike.  That can be the first challenge.  Goat path trails and/or stairs mark every running route I do.  Last week on vacation in Puerto Rico coral cliffs, deepish sand and the steep cuts of stream inlets marked my ocean front run.  At home in Cincinnati, I always choose a route that incorporates a couple flights of the cities famous public steps or a detour through the downed branch strewn hiking trails in a local park.  Choosing a route I couldn’t tackle on two wheels helps me explain the running to the evil cyclist in my head.  Being slower, running can reveal details of scenery a bike can’t deliver, like those in these photos of my runs in Dorado, Puerto Rico last week. 

Rule number two: while I usually run 2-3 times a week, I only run when I can’t ride.  Lunch hour is a perfect time to eek in a 40-45 minute run and still have time for a sink shower and wolf down a sandwich in the same time your coworkers drive to McDonalds and make a stop at the mall.  Plus, you can double up on the day with bike ride after work.  At home I run at night, or when weekend trips to Target, fixing this old house, or weather get in the way of a respectable length ride. 

Rule number three: while I usually run anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, I never usually run the entire time.  It makes running more exciting.  I break up my runs with 3-4 sets of crunches, pushups and other core/plyometric exercises.  On my work run, I split the run up at the tops of three big lookout hills.  I did the same in Puerto Rico, stopping at incredible vistas.  At each stop, I hit the dirt and give my 7th grade drill sergeant 25 crunches, 15 pushups, 25 jumping jacks and 15 star jumps.  As I continue on toward the next hill, I hear “pull hard, finish strong” in my head. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do You See A Cyclocross Rider In This Picture, Or Am I Crazy?

On vacation in Dorado, Puerto Rico, this picture/painting/print hung over the bed in the hotel room.  Four to five days went by when I realized it looks like there's a cyclocross rider in it, seemingly swinging his/her leg out as if about to dismount.  Do you see it, or have I lost my marbles in the off season?  Take the poll on the right of the page and/or leave a comment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

No El Ciclismo en San Juan Puerto Rico

"Have you ever driven in big city,” asked the rent a car clerk at the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport.  "Chicago," my wife replied.  "How 'bout Mexico City," he questioned.  “We’ll take the insurance,” said my wife.  That and the drive from San Juan to our seaside condo in Dorado was all it took for me to realize there would be no road cycling in San Juan, Dorado, or any Pueto Rican wonderland in between.  (Photo: El Yunque Nat'l Forest, Puerto Rico)

Presumably there are traffic laws in Puerto Rico, presumably the same ones that apply to all of the US and its territories; however the traffic etiquette is quite different.  Puerto Rico puts the free in freeway, or maybe free-for-all.  Unless you’re wearing a full face helmet with a Hans device, downhill body armor and have no deductable on your health insurance, you’d be wise to not ride a bike on the roads within an hour of San Juan. 

In the continental US, if you were pulling out of a driveway into the main road or out of a parking spot, you’d wait for a gap in traffic.  In Puerto Rico, you just stick the front of your car into the road (or rear if you’re backing up), make traffic stop for you and proceed with your turn.  This applies to left hand turns from a driveway as well.  If you don’t have the cajoles to execute this maneuver, the person in the car behind you will kindly come around from behind you and show you how it’s done.  “He just came out of nowhere,” was common-speak during our driving.  If you spaced out for a second, a different colored car would appear in front of you.

In the continental US, you usually allow a safe distance to the car in front of you based on one car length for every ten miles per hour.  In Puerto Rico, I’m guessing because of the metric system, a safe distance is measured in centimeters, one centimeter for every 10mph.

In the continental US, you’d only use the shoulder of the road to pull over for an emergency.  In Puerto Rico the shoulder of the road is at the very least a passing lane.  As you get closer to San Juan the shoulder becomes just another lane, the only drawback being the lack of smooth pavement, or in many cases, any pavement whatsoever.

In the continental US, motorcycles ride in the same lanes as cars.  In Puerto Rico the lines between lanes mark the path that motorcycles should take.  Even the motorcycle cops use them.

In the continental US, if an exit ramp has one lane, traffic travels on the ramp single file.  In Puerto Rico, if three cars can fit abreast in the single exit ramp lane, three cars exit or enter the freeway at the same time.

In the continental US, there are lines painted to separate the lanes on the road.  In San Juan there are some long sections of freeway, up to 8 lanes wide in one direction (9 if you count the shoulder), with no lines painted.  Think of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer painted the lane lines black to create an extra wide luxury lane.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that even the speedway in Daytona has lane markers.

All of this was disconcerting at first, but there was very little if any horn honking, middle fingers, cursing or road rage.  Traffic seemed to move quite well.  While this driving etiquette put the nix on road cycling, it did open up the doors for non-cycling activities like climbing/hiking El Yunque Mountain and running oceanside on coral cliffs that only Hans Rey might be able to ride.

There are some nice mountain bike trails in Puerto Rico, however staying in Dorado, it was unpractical to rent a decent bike, stuff them into a Toyota Yaris and drive to Cerro Gordo or another trail system.  Maybe next time we’ll stay further away from San Juan.  The south side of the island around Ponce seemed less busy and closer to the real mountains.  I think a road ride through El Yunque National Forest would be fun too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stella Artois Bike Race Commercial

Flipping through the channels last night I landed on this commercial and it was so cool and funny I had to see it again and again, just to make sure that they are in fact racing tandems, they only have one inner tube and that the "incident" happens after attacking their rivals and getting away on a solo, or in this case maybe a duo, breakaway.  It's beautifully shot and has so many little things that make it so great, like the nun's watching the race on the hillside.  I'm 99% sure it aired exactly like the video below, not in English and a minute and a half long.  You'll see, however, that the language is universal.  Plus, I like a good Stella Artois from time to time too.  Cheers!  Prost!  Salud!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Police Say Local Bike Rider Was Drunk…Really?

My chamois is in a bundle.  I’m offended.  As a local bike rider, I’m offended…well as much as I can be without laughing at the ridiculousness of my feelings.  This story threw the chain in my spokes last night.  I’m talking about the AP copyright story that popped out of Cincinnati Monday titled “Police Say Local Bike Rider Was Drunk” (click here to read it.)  To steal a line from Seth and Amy on Saturday night live…really?  I’m sorry, but I think it takes more than a bike to be a called a bike rider.  I’m not sure what that is, but I’m going to get to the bottom of it.

To say the least, in my opinion, the man who is the subject of the story could be called a lot of things, the least being a “bike rider.”  I’m thinking the headline should’ve been something like, “Police Say Local Man Was Drunk While Riding Bike.”  After all, he is a local man first, who just happened to be operating a bicycle.  I’m not arguing semantics.  There’s a principal involved somewhere.  I’m not angry.  I’m more bemused at myself.  I’m in a slight tiff.  This guy shouldn’t be in the same boat as the people I would call bike riders.  I’m not exactly sure what the minimum credentials are, but I’m 100% sure that this guy isn’t a bike rider.  I think it takes more than being on the pedals of a moving bicycle in Cincinnati to be called a bike rider. 

Forget about the law and the alleged alcohol for a minute and concentrate on the real issue.  What really does it take to be called a bike rider?   According to this story it seems like all you need is a bike and at least the ability to sort of balance it and pedal it for a minimal amount of time.  But you wouldn’t call a five year old riding herky-jerky around their cul-de-sac a bike rider.  I think they’d be called a child riding a bike.  So, maybe there’s a level of expertise and/or intention involved.   You can swing from a monkey bar, but you’re no gymnast.  You can dog paddle 15 feet from your inner tube to the dock, but you wouldn’t be identified as a swimmer.   You can shoot a gun, but you’re not marksman.

Then I brought up the story to some people in the office and told them how I was offended as a bike rider about this story.  After they rolled their eyes and my half joking explanation of why I was offended, one brought up an interesting point.  Respect.  A coworker said, “I don’t think this man respects the bicycle.”  She’s right.  So, I think that’s the difference.  A person riding a bike doesn’t necessarily respect the bicycle. 

A bike rider respects the bicycle.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bom Chicka Wow Wow: The Best Bike Blog Ever Endorses Axe Body Spray

It’s better than dirty stinky funk ass and lasts for hours, that’s why The Best Bike Blog Ever* can finally say it endorses Axe deodorant body spray.  However, it has nothing to do with sex appeal or that it remotely smells good.  I’m not too humble to say that I’m a relatively handsome man and never has a peloton of pink spandex clad hotties asked to ride on my handlebars while I was wearing Axe.  My wife, who is very hot, thinks it smells nasty and she has never sung “Bom Chicka Wow Wow” in my ear while I’m wearing it.  That’s being kind.  She would not allow me to wear this stuff on a night out.  But, after a 3 hour beat down ride through Rabbit Hash and Big Bone Lick State Park in northern Kentucky, this stuff is bonafide 100 percent pure funk hider.  Yesterday Axe deodorant body spray reached iconic status in my bag of cycling tricks.

Combined with the wet roads and hills I worked up a good musty funk when we made it back to the cars after three hours of Northern Kentucky hilly goodness, the kind of funk that makes you turn your head and wince when you take off your jersey.  I stunk, not quite as bad as Rusty, the horse on Seinfeld when Kramer was a handsome cab driver, but close.  While I changed, I hit my pits and chest with the Axe and went about my day.  It was no ordinary day.

It was over 50 degrees yesterday in February.  When I got home, my wife wanted to spend some more time outside, so we went for a walk, a two hour walk through the neighborhood hills of Mt. Lookout and Hyde Park.  The 3 hour bike ride and two hour walk was then followed by an hour and a half of lumberjacking.  I lopped and hacked a big fallen tree branch in our backyard to bits and carted off the carnage to the woods behind our house. 

All told, I had 6 and a half hours of sweaty monkey lumberjack funk all over my body when I finally hit the shower at dusk.  When I took my shirt off, the same shirt I’ve been wearing since after my morning ride, I did not wince or cringe.  Instead I smiled; I could still smell the Axe deodorant spray.  Granted, it’s not even close to being a deodorant of choice in my book, but it certainly is powerful enough to mask some serious cycling, hiking, yardworking sweaty stinky skunk ass.  Thereby, I give Axe deodorant body spray The Best Bike Blog Ever* endorsement.

If you have no idea what “Bom Chicka Wow Wow” is, see video below.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Being The Office Bike Bitch Ain't Bad

I’m the token bike bitch.  Wherever you work, I’m sure you’re the go-to person for bike related advice and services.  I’ve adjusted more Huffy headsets and Diamond Back flats than I can count.  Every spring there’s no shortage of coworkers who ask me to give their kids’ bikes a little once over.  I’ve earned stripes at BioWheels Bike Shop for extra referral business which now and then add up to wink-wink nod-nod privileges with shop supplies.  Once, I even dispelled cycling dating advice.  A colleague wanted to go for a short bike ride with his athletic date, so I sent him up to Loveland where you can ride the path along the Little Miami River and finish it off with a good sandwich and coffee.  Never heard how that turned out, but I’m glad I can help.    Not only does it build good rapport with coworkers, it’s the fringe benefits that I like best.  There’s a handy guy in our building that’s into riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.  We struck up a conversation about “bikes” and I ended up trading him a leather anniversary edition Harley jacket I had won in a raffle for a bench top vice.  Best trade I ever made.  Free lunch is always a favorite, and I take advantage of these situations to get yummy goodies from some of my favorite Cincinnati haunts like Giminetti’s and Izzy’s.  Some coworkers even swag me with gift cards for Speedway, Target and Kroger.  Being the office bike bitch also bestows little treasures upon me, like this broken 400 pound Suntour 7 speed cassette, which makes for great office décor and a nifty pen holder.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snowicane: Winter Bike Repairs

Over the past few winters, I’ve discovered there’s always a few snowicane days where the degree of winter nastiness overrides my motivation to go outside over even stay inside and do something active.  I reserve certain bike related repair and maintenance projects, listed below, for those days.  There are a few hard core riders I know that have the clothes and equipment to ride or run in even a Hors Category Snowicane.  For the rest of us there’s some combination of cold, wet, and snow that steals our motivation to even exercise indoors.  These are the days where we shrug our shoulders and gaze out the window remembering when the trees across the street were blooming and we rolled out of the driveway bare handed.  Today, I find it hard to picture a day when my short fingered gloves were hanging from the drying rack and I had no idea where in the hell my shoe covers were.  It’s mindboggling fuzzy.  We’ve had too many snowicane days over the past week.  Last night, after getting let out of work early, I stood and gazed out the window as the thick snow rushed sideways under the streetlight.  No thoughts of wedding ring sunburns came to mind.  Instead, I remembered what snowicane days like this are for.  I headed downstairs to the Best Bike Man Cave Workshop and got crackin’ on some winter bike repairs.  Based on the category of snowicane, here’s what I do.

They Let Us Out Of Work Early

Patch Inner Tubes

Reorganize and clean up workshop

Check air pressure on suspension & tires

Pull out, clean and relube seat tube

Clean and lube drive train while it’s on the bike

Check and adjust wheel bearings

Check tires for wear and inflate to proper pressure

Snow Emergency

Put new sealant in tubeless tires

Pull apart and clean and lube rear derailleur pulleys

Take off, clean and lube cassette

True Wheels

Take the good stuff off your cross bike and put it back on your road/mtn bike

Check for chain stretch and replace if necessary

Put on new bar tape (with patience, care, karma and style) 

The National Guard Should Be Here Anytime

Pull out, clean, check, and lube bottom bracket and headset

Remove, clean & lube bolts on brakes, saddle, derailleur’s, seat post clamp, and stem

Replace oil and fluid in hydraulic brakes and suspension

Check and replace slow performing cables & housing

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Sees Shadow Now “Must Die!”

(Not Reel News: 2-2-09 Goobers Knob, KY)

“I haven’t rode my freaking bike outside since November and this stinking Groundhog must die,” exclaimed an irate cyclist with pent up frustration from the unusually cold and snowy Midwest winter. Immediately after the groundhog, appropriately named Sucksalottie Bill saw his shadow, signaling six more weeks of indoor cycling, the maniacal caped handlebar-moustache wearing Grand Poobah of Midwest Cyclists ritually raised the sacrificial hog over the heads of the 13 thousand cyclists gathered on Goobers Knob in Northern Kentucky and flung the cute and fuzzy poor defenseless creature into a burning pyre of old inner tubes, carbon fiber bike frames and tires. The crowd with their heads hung low then dispersed, reluctantly returning to the tobacco barn for another six weeks on the trainer.

This story is completely fictional. Duh. No cute and fuzzy ground hogs were flung into a pyre. But, cyclists are frustrated over the weather.