no one line


Recycled Content #3
September 27, 2009, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Recycled Content

“Race well, race with dignity, race with a conscience:” Sprinter Della Casa proposes USAC policies to punish intentionally dangerous riders, and reminds us that there are some people who take our down-home amateur sport far too seriously – to the detriment and danger of those around them.

I twitter. I apologize.

Everybody’s favorite racer, Fabian Cancellara (he’s up there with Hincapie and Jens Voigt on everybody’s Awesome list, partly due to this stage win), recently won the World Time Trial Championship. He completed the the 49.8 kilometre course in 57:54. That gives him an average speed of 51.5kph, or 32mph, for a whole damn hour. What will it take to get this man on a velodrome to go after the Hour Record?

Yesterday, I rode a friend’s custom Johnny Coast (this one, in fact), and was delighted at how soft and comfortable it rode.

Cycling Art reflects on descending, and one of my favorite scenes from this year’s Giro d’Italia.

VeloGogo has the best picture of Reynolds’ carbon clincher that doesn’t use a traditional hook to hold the bead. Hmm. Go figure.

And finally, Hipster Nascar gives a pretty good look at what fixed gear bikes companies are showing at Interbike. I offer a cringe at the decision to display the Bianchi Super Pista with Aerospokes and a thumb’s up to Fuji’s line, which offers some nice options on the performance end of the spectrum.



Aero Wheels
September 21, 2009, 2:52 pm
Filed under: pro crap, products

Recently, some good reading on the subject of aerodynamic wheels came up. I didn’t really understand aerodynamic wheels until I read this post and this post by sprinterdellacasa a while back.

A few months ago, NYVelocity posted an equipment review of rental deep carbon wheels from Revolution Wheels. Using Zipps as a familiar point of reference, NYVelocity concluded, “These wheels are maybe 95% as good as Zipps, for 42% of the price. Unless you’re lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills these babies are hard to beat.”

A few months later, Zipp’s lead engineer gave a very open interview to NYVelocity in response. It offers some interesting insight into Zipp’s R&D as well as the industry’s copycat process. Plus you get to learn some juicy details about ceramic bearings.

Now, another response comes from Steve Hed, who apparently wants to clarify some of the Zipp-v-Hed issues brought up in the interview with Zipp’s engineer. Hed picks apart some of the claims and illustrates a chicken-or-the-egg rivalry going on between the two companies: The fact is that since Zipp acquired our patent (sometime in the late 90s) their wheels have changed shape to more closely mirror the wheels we started selling 18 years ago. We have continually improved them since then, but the underlying aero shapes are still similar. As Zipp’s wheel shapes have changed to more closely resemble ours, it only follows that their wind tunnel data is more like ours too.

It’s a good read for the nerds who enjoy not only technical data but industry sparring as well.



Revenge of Bear Mountain
September 17, 2009, 8:03 pm
Filed under: no one line, road race

I don’t think that Bear Mountain will forgive me. When I first saw the profile of the race course through Harriman State Park (not actually all that close to Bear Mountain), I thought, “It looks pleasant, but wouldn’t it be nicer if it actually had a hill or two?” When I raced it, that long, slow drag up the Tiorati climb – never particularly steep, but long enough to hurt – was kind enough to point out the error of my ways. If it wasn’t clear the first time, it was more than obvious the fourth time, and I finished the race cramping badly, albeit with a decent result. It was good enough to give me some confidence for the fall incarnation of the race, and I figured that the uphill finish this time around would suit me.

The race’s formal name is the Nancy Morgenstern Memorial Race, named for a local racer who died on 9/11, but I had been referring to it as Revenge of Bear Mountain. Foreshadowing? I guess that race wasn’t done surprising me. Unlike the spring’s social pace for the first half (or more) of the race, this weekend’s race was hard from the gun and we climbed Tiorati Book Road really fast. It felt really fast, anyway. Maybe I’m not in top form. I don’t care. It was fast and hard. Struggling to close gaps only ten miles into a 56 mile race? That’s not good.

The second time up it we caught the Masters’ field, which should be an indication that we were moving pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the overtake was a complete mess, and I wound up getting stuck behind Masters and follow vehicles as the fronts of the fields mixed and ten or so 4 riders went up the road with who-knows-how-many Masters riders. Trying to find another match to light to jump up the rest of the hill, I was nearly run off the road by a support vehicle (not to mention the two SUVs behind it, crawling up the hill), and had to settle for settling into a rotation with four or five other riders who were highly motivated by the extent to which they were pissed off at the mess that knocked them away from the front of the race.

We were almost back on when, flying through a roundabout, we all had to grab brakes and adjust our arcs to avoid a towncar that marshalls hadn’t bothered to stop. There are only so many times you can be demoralized, and if they all come in the span of a few miles of very hard riding, well, their effect is exponential. When we got to the feed zone, I was frustrated, and I threw in the towel shortly thereafter (but not before grimacing, or growling, or something, for the photographer…). If I had a more thoroughly competitive spirit, I’d even have been thoroughly pissed off.

Imagine how I feel when I see the results and realize that one of my companions in the chase managed 10th place. And me thinking that half the field was still up the road. I shouldn’t have dropped out. Live and learn.

It’s an interesting welcome to the tail end of the season.



Trackshots
September 11, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Kissena, track bikes, track racing, velodromes

I took my camera to Kissena far more times than I actually used it to take some photographs this year, but since I was pulling some photos off my camera in order to add some flair to my previous post (Goodbye IRO), I figured I’d share a few that I snapped at some point this summer. May shots of a carefree summer evening to bring you warmth on a rainy September morning.

Here’s my oft-mentioned buddy-teammate Al messing with Dan C.’s bike. Dan wins the award for being the least sentimental about the nicest bikes. That’s the Nagasawa that he messengers on.

Gui setting up his bike. He and I are the same size, but somehow all of his bikes are much larger than mine. He rides 53-54cm bikes, and I ride 50-52cm bikes. His legs must have some extra hidden length – we both ride long but his saddles are a lot higher than mine. His Felt is a 54, mine is a 52.

I’ve ridden a bunch with Gui over the past year or so, and he’s given lots of good advice throughout my learning process.

Shooting the breeze with Gui and Kissena’s Delroy Walters, a 70+ World Champion and total track star who’s always around to offer a smile, kind words, and timely advice.



Goodbye IRO
September 10, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: bikes, fixed gears, no one line

My faithful everyday bike, which hasn’t really seen a whole lot of use in the past year, is going to a new home.

I got this bike in 2005. Prior to that, I had a junky fixed gear conversion, and wanted something a bit more held-together. It was the first time I had bought myself something nice – other than my guitar amp. I used it to go on my first “long ride,” from NYC’s Chinatown to my parents’ house in Bergen County, NJ. Almost twenty miles, stopping every now and then on the West Side Bike Path to tug the toestraps tighter. That ride made me decide that I wanted to be a little bit healthier, to get better at riding this bike.

Then I took it with me to live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where it was a valuable companion in that lonely city. I used it to explore the seaside, the factories, the quiet and ramshackle neighborhoods. When my time there was up, I took it to the Bronx and discovered the fun and odd world of urban cycling. I got hit by a livery cab making a capricious u-turn underneath the elevated 2/5 on Westchester Avenue, which led me to get chewed out by a rookie cop posing tough for his partner, and hugged by the tearful, fearful, and carelss driver who was so relieved I was okay (and I was relieved that the bike was fine). I rode the Tour de Bronx and hoped that I’d be introduced to the person riding the yellow KHS. I rode Critical Mass and met the rider of the KHS. She doesn’t have the KHS anymore, but a few other really nice bikes are filling up our bike room.

Soon I was swinging my leg over its handlebars for alleycat races. Some respectable finishes made me catch a racing bug that led me to get a track bike, a road bike, and a cyclocross bike – after racing the IRO on the Kissena Velodrome, taking it up and down 9W, and throwing some knobbies on it and racing it at StatenCX. Anywhere I went it took me there first.

It’s gone through saddle swaps, a myriad handlebar configurations, and more wheel swaps than I can count. I think I even had matching wheels on it for a month or two. Once, in a pinch, I attached a threadless stem to its seatpost, put some bullhorns in it, and taped a bunch of cargo to this impromptu rack. I slowly and haphazardly added stickers. Spending two winters working food delivery shifts helped transform it from the pretty (if simple) thing I adored to a rugged tool that got thrown against poles, covered in snow, and rattled senseless over cobblestones. Other bikes got babied – the Pogliaghi, the Felt, the Co-Motion. And then, they too went through a similar transformation. At Fawn Grove I winced as gravel bounced all over the race course, flying off tires, not because they were slamming into my shins (though they were), but because they were slamming into my road bike’s downtube. And halfway, as my body was well in the red, my head changed, and the bike had become what the IRO had become – a tool.

But with a new bike on the way, built for more specific uses, the IRO has got to go. A bike stable should keep sentimentality to a minimum, I think, and even when living space isn’t at the same premium at which it used to be, the inclination toward maximum-bike ought to be curbed.

It’s not the bike – it’s the memories.



Head to Head with a National Champ?
September 8, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Kissena, Natty Champs, sprints, track racing


One of the things that JP said earlier in the year in his shoes as the club’s development director was, “You might be a sprinter with your friends but that’s a lot different than being a sprinter in a race.” The lesson is that you might have a sprint but in a race there’s bound to be somebody bigger and stronger who can apply that pure power better than you can. Most people’s best bet is to try to force a selection from which they can try to place, rather than to sprint against the whole field. The difference between a honest-to-goodness sprinter and someone who can occasionally sprint became obvious to me this weekend at the track, my first time out as a Cat 3. Unfortunately, only two other 1/2/3 riders had registered. One of them threw down the track’s fastest Kilo time at Opening Weekend in April and a few weeks ago at the State Championships. The other is a Master’s National Champion in the match sprint.

Oh well.

I had been hoping that a small field would be combined with others so that we could race some mass-start races, but it was only to be a handful of match sprints.

Oh well.

What played out “sprinting against” Andrew Lacorte reminded me of a scene from The Wire, when McNulty, roughly handled by bosses, and his partner Bunk are working their way toward getting belly-up at a bar. “You know why I respect you, Bunk? Because when it came time for you to screw me, you were very gentle.” Bunk – as drunk or drunker than McNulty – replies, “I knew it was your first time. I wanted it to be special.” Lacorte wouldn’t let me slip away when I hammered from the whistle, so we danced around a little bit, kept the pace high, and when I started sprinting, he just held me on his rear wheel, increasing the pace deftly. He didn’t ride away from me, which was either gentlemanly, or kid-glove treatment. Maybe both.

Later, in a 3-up sprint, I drilled it from the line as Colin tucked behind Lacorte, hoping that he would tire. Interested in an even playing field, I was trying to give Colin a fighting chance, which he had, though Lacorte held him off when they started sprinting in earnest (at this point, well ahead of me).

Afterward, Colin paid me a nice compliment. “When I was trying to come around him his arms were shaking. He looked tired at that point.” Lacorte, overhearing this, responded, “That’s a tactic.” Maybe, but leading your competition to believe that fatigue is not fatigue, but a tactic – that’s a tactic, too.

I made third place look easy yesterday, and besides, I got a chance to top off the tan line on my thighs.

And even though it was probably a stretch to say that I raced against Lacorte, it’s still pretty cool to go head-to-head against a National Champion.

Photos linked from Mike Mahesh’s blog.