I’ve recently gone from underemployment to overemployment, and my schedule fits together like tetris pieces. That’s part of the reason why a wide-open morning for a lovely ride – fast and hard in parts, but sans-computer and without a hard end time – is such a welcome rarity.
One of my jobs is working in the laboratories of Laek House, run by Ethan Benton, a local cyclist and all-around great guy. Laek House specializes in semi-technical cycling clothing, and Ethan’s niche is printing patterns with retroreflective ink: the Enhanced Light Visibility System. Shine a light, see the bright.
The rims are a great choice for bikes with hub- or disc-braking systems (rim brakes will ruin the treatment). They are incredibly bright, and given the dangers inherent in riding in and around the city, extra visibility is always safer.
I’ve been working with Ethan, treating Velocity rims with the retroreflective application, so to be clear, this post is obviously a plug for the Laek House/Velocity ELVS rims. They are a smart product and deserve exposure. Check them out! You can order them through your local bike shop, which can place an order from Velocity or from Quality Bicycle Products.
A local bike buddy has apparently met the builder, and shared the following story:
Pettenella is an amazing guy. I spent some time at his shop in Milano and he was kind enough to send me home with an old cycling cap bearing his name. Famously, he once help a track stand for 65 minutes in a match spring under oppressive Milano summer sun. His opponent, exhausted and dehydrated, fainted and collapsed on his bike, sliding down the banks of the famed Velodromo Vigorelli. Vanni waited for the officials/medical staff to check out the unconscious rider (while still holding his track stand)…then took a lap to validate his victory and take the 1968 Italian National Championship.
A great story. The fact that Pettenella’s competitor was willing to trackstand to the point of fainting rather than cede control of the early part of the sprint speaks volumes – about what, however, I am not sure.
Filed under: Hour Record
It is incredibly cool that Graeme Obree is going after the Hour Record again. The Beatles performing on a rooftop. That’s the kind of level we’re talking about
I’ve written about the Hour Record a few times, but have never gone into depth about Graemme Obree. In the 1990s, he was perhaps the quintessential outsider athlete: an undersponsored, penny-pinching where-are-you-from who launched a feverish assault on one of the most demanding records in the sport by challenging conventions and breaking paradigms – first with an unusual tuck on the bike, and then with the “superman” position.
His story is worth taking a look into. Click for Part 1 of an 8-part documentary on his effort, and don’t miss the corresponding piece on Chris Boardman, Obree’s insider friend/rival. Highly sponsored, Boardman used state-of-the-art technological analysis of his athletic performance. Compare this to Obree, pushing huge gears up hills, brazing his own bicycle frames.
And, coming back after quietly publishing his autobiography (adapted into a film starring a hobbit!), he’s jumping back into the fray, challenging the Hour Record’s classic category – the Athlete’s Hour, which requires the use of traditionally spoked wheels, a diamond-framed bicycle, and drop bars.
And, like last time, he’s built his own bike. His position looks good, too – very long, mimicing a conventional TT position. I wouldn’t like to feel my wrists after spending an hour like that, but then again, I wouldn’t like to time trial for an hour, either.
Good luck, Graeme!
Filed under: no one line
Every cyclist should know that when riding starts to feel like a chore, before you start to hate your bik, you should put new tires on and clean and re-lube the drivetrain. I just did that to my workbike/everyday bike, which had been sitting with doubleflats since the last time I worked on it, back in late March. It feels nice to have a comfortable bike that I don’t mind locking up again.
Yesterday was the right day for the overhaul. We came back from a few very long, relaxing days spend at the beach in Rhode Island. Damp air, thorny beach roses, the smell of low tide.
Riding around the city yesterday, even the New York City couldn’t get me worked up, and I felt like somebody had cleaned and lubed my drivetrain, too. The weather is amazing and I’m looking forward to some good work, good free time, hard training, and fun races.
My past two races have been unfamiliar territory – a feature race with the 1/2/3 men at the velodrome (a 20 lap scratch race), and the 3/4 race out at Floyd Bennet Field. Last night was my first time racing at Floyd Bennet Field, and it was unlike any other race territory I’ve seen. It was like a gigantic, four-corner crit, almost 2.5 miles around – which obviously eliminates the tighter way that even featureless crit courses shake up a field. In its place it adds other obstacles: rough turns that are difficult to navigate (tree branches on the inside, rutted pavement throughout), sandy inside corners, long strips of grass poking up through concrete slabs, and its most defining feature, the straight, hard, unidirectional, relentless wind that drags down the long straights and leaves everybody fighting for one position on one side and then flying along the other, flipping the pace from crawling along at 18mph to flying along at 33. An Amerikermis, I called it; the field echeloned, some people put others in the gutter for no discernable reason, and gaps were hard to close.
When I’m racing an unfamiliar race, one for which I have no experience that helps me decipher what is unfolding, one in which I don’t know the racers or the course or how the caliber of racing informs the race, I race like a rookie. I stay at the front (which is good) and I try to cover moves (which is good), but I’m pretty unselective (which is bad), and even though I probably put myself into a few groupings that could have been the right ones (which is good, but I didn’t know, which is bad), I probably don’t have the motor to hold off the pack (which is bad). And furthermore, not knowing the relative strength of the field and the individuals on the front or off the front means that I sit up there, burning matches. And in Floyd Bennet Field, you burn matches fast, gaps easily open, and people can be quickly shed off the back if you’re not smart.
Simply put, I race like a rookie because I don’t know what works and what doesn’t, who works and who doesn’t, but more importantly, I don’t know how I’ll fare and want to be available for a race condition that I feel would suit me. The irony of this is that, by making myself available and being an opportunist at any available opportunity, I probably limit my options, both by wearing myself out, and by only taking options presented by other people, rather than making my own (of course… figuring out my strengths is a challenge unto itself, and I have yet to win a race).
I’d like to be able to read races easily, analyzing the webs at work, the connections, the causes and effects of moves, the alliances at play. But that’s the kind of analytical ability that doesn’t come with a packing a season full of races – more like, it comes with packing a decade full of racing seasons.
I guess I’ve got a lot to look forward to.
The internet world is abuzz with talk over the peloton’s neutralization of Stage 9 of the Giro D’Italia. Pedro Horrilo’s crash into a 150 foot ravine during Stage 8 prompted them to organize their concerns about the safety of the course. Apparently, Stage 9’s kermis-like circuit race had parked cars still on the course, among other hazards. I can’t blame them. Yeah, they’re the best in the world riding one of the most competitive stage races in the world. They don’t need to harden the fuck up. They’ve already done that. Probably while you were arguing on the internet. Okay, okay. Probably while we were arguing on the internet.
What they’re doing now is refusing to let their having hardened the fuck up be turned into an unnecessarily dangerous game of puppetry, a sport of profit that places the alleged kings in danger for heightened entertainment value that strips them of honor should they opt out. Basically they’re refusing to be rodeo clowns, NASCAR drivers, or prizefighters, and can you blame them?
Riding without a computer at the Bear Mountain Classic may have given me the confidence to bomb that descent a bit more aggressively than I would otherwise. Unlike at Battenkill, I know that I wasn’t eyeing the speedometer every few seconds, watching it climb higher and higher. We were over 50mph – of this I’m confident – but I had few of the wide-eyed high-speed what-if jitters that I sometimes get when I know how fast I’m going. Ignorance is bliss.
It’s important to ride, to just ride. Not for work, or to get to work, or to race and feel good about winning or bad about losing, so I’m starting to get very excited about tomorrow morning. I need some fast/casual fun/hard no-demands hours in the saddle. Housatonic Hills is coming up, and I can’t let track racing, with its fast scratch races and endless sprints, make me forget how to ride for longer than a few minutes or slower than 27mph (when necessary).
I have no interest in hitting a mid-season physical or emotional wall, which means that here on out it’s going to be important to monitor how I’m riding and racing so that I can keep feeling good and avoid burn-out. And that means opening up time for fun rides over the river and through the woods, for the dual purpose of fulfilling the sacred duty of going somewhere aimlessly, and getting strong(er, still), so that I don’t get caught out in the sprint (that’s my face peering out from behind the rider in red).