no one line

Time Off
April 26, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: no one line

Loyal readers – I have a few of those, you know – will notice my decreasing frequency in posts. It’s spring – I’m out racing bikes, working two jobs, and working on the intricacies of life.

So I’ve decided to formalize some time off from writing No One Line, lest I leave anybody wondering.

I’ll leave you all with some parting thoughts.

  • I think it’s pretty funny to be yelled at for not pulling through when my teammate is off the front. Of course I’m not going to work.
  • Not everybody who wins a race is a sandbagger. Therefor, it’s stupid to call everyone who wins a race a sandbagger who should upgrade. But people persist on the illogical notion that the only winners are undeserving ones.
  • On a recovery day a few weeks ago, I felt like I had something to prove, so I went and I rode up “my climb” over a minute faster than I had ever done before. This satisfies me that I’m making some progress. Pyramid intervals reinforce that. I”ve been trying to shock my legs to life.
  • It’s been a really cool Spring Classics season.
  • Something happened, and, I, uh, I think I’m a Cadel Evans fan. It feels strange to admit it, but lately I’ve been rooting for the guy!
  • In amateur races, what’s the point of wheel support if they won’t pace you back to the field?
  • In response to the search term that apparently brought one Internet User to this blog (“Was Marco Pantani a good sprinter?”): Marco Pantani was a climber.

I’ll be back – when I’m ready. In the meantime, make sure you balance miles per hour with smiles per hour.


Thank You Mr Brown
February 3, 2010, 4:00 pm
Filed under: bikes, fixed gears, fun, no one line, the cycling world

Today is the second anniversary of the death of Sheldon Brown.

It seems strange that a bicycle mechanic from Boston would gain international attention to the point that “Sheldon Brown” would become a verb in internet lingo. Its meaning is simple: look it up on Sheldon Brown’s website, because he has the complete information and concise instructions.

What length bottom bracket spindle do I need? Sheldon Brown it. I want to build my first wheel – how? Sheldon Brown. How do I measure chainline or BCD? Sheldon Brown. Always.

His popularity grew in part because of his article Fixed Gear Bicycles For The Road, which was a portal into fixed-gear cycling for many novices. His article had it all: explanations of fixed gears from soup to nuts that managed to be both basic and thorough. No better portal to cycling could be found: the combination of a knowledgeable wrench with a flair for archival and arcane memory, skilled at clear communication; and the fixed gear bicycle, which in its simplicity and unique, unusual ride experience got countless people back into the saddle after long absences, reigniting passion for the bike the world over. Forget rants about hipsters. When I started riding one, I knew that riding a fixed gear was fun and unusual and it was the start of an ongoing love affair with cycling. The gateway to much more.

For that, I have Mr. Brown to thank.

I’ve always tried to approach death and grieving in combination with thanksgiving, and while Mr Brown died before we met (though after several email exchanges, during which he was friendly, open to persistent questions, and informative), I regretted never meeting him and appraising his eccentricity in person. But I’m thankful that when my curiousity was roused and I googled “fixed gear” lo these many years ago, his website was there to greet me and to provide both enthusiasm and a rich volume of information.

What an introduction to the cycling world.

Thank you, Sheldon Brown.

January Wrap-Up
January 31, 2010, 11:07 pm
Filed under: General, no one line

With the Tour Down Under providing fodder for early-season speculation (not to mention fashion criticism), us warmsick Northerners (under home arrest due to 12F temperatures) are starting to have enough reason to get excited for the coming race season. Personal, professional – it doesn’t matter. Whether you like your racing on the television (and internet) or in a colorful peloton all around you, knowing that it’s just a month and a half until Things Start Happening is bound to get your heart rate up.

Podium Cafe‘s interview with George Hincapie managed to get me excited for spring classics a full two and a half months before they roll around. On the sobering end of things, Tom Zirbel announced that his B sample tested positive for DHEA. Those with too much time on their hands scrambled to their preferred message board, trotting out either brickheaded condemnations or tenuous scientific claims. Things don’t quite add up for an out-and-out condemnation, and to Zirbel’s credit, he is forthcoming and doesn’t limit his media exposure to PR-friendly soundbites swearing his innocence.

While we’re forced to make do by bundling up and braving the temperatures – or just sitting at our computers – those lucky dogs actually got to ride and race bikes in Australia, where Andre Greipel (who looks like a skeleton robot when he wins) proved dominant despite the fizzling of HTC-Columbia’s leadout train. Early season speculation in full effect, I wonder if Hincapie’s departure from HTC-Columbia will ruin their train (and Cavendish’s dominance of Tour de France sprint stages). I wonder if Greipel will take a run at Cav’s job, or leave HTC altogether for a shot at the Tour de France.

It’s too early for such things, though – though a glance at the calendar is a reminder that fitness must be deep and the racing season is approaching.  The cold weather must be braved. And truth to tell, even at this time of the year, I’d rather brave the cold weather than the toxic menace of messageboards populated by shiftless idiots, babbling incoherent vehemence in their cabin fever.

Winter Hibernation
January 5, 2010, 10:49 pm
Filed under: no one line

Happy New Year, everybody.

Here in chilly New England, it’s time to sit back, take a good luck at late autumn training, and tweak my plans for the next few months. It’s also time to troll through BikeReg for the dates of major races, and as I look at my new frame, I imagine sprinting and climbing on it in these major races, and my heartrate goes up a few notches.

It’s winter.

This blog has been quiet for a bit, but with the New Year comes new gear, new plans, and a whole lot of new excitement. Deciduous trees, though they look dead and dormant in the winter, are actually using their stored energy to grow their roots deeper and stronger underground, laying the foundation for further spring and summertime growth in their branches and leaves.

That’s just what cyclists do: we lay the base of subtle strength in anticipiation for greater heights and higher reaches of the warmer months.

The Consensus Line
November 18, 2009, 4:42 pm
Filed under: no one line

A recent post by Joe Parkin reminds me of something that I recently learned in a handful of cyclocross races: the consensus line is not always the fastest line. There may be a faster way through a turn than the line worn into the muck and matted grass.

Parkin wasn’t talking about cyclocross, just amateur racing, when he said that there’s a lot of bullshit that passes for conventional knowledge, bandied about by people with little experience. Edward Abbey quips that folk wisdom is nothing more than expedient stupidity; like the line in the ‘cross course, conventional knowledge can be flat-out wrong.

Some people yell “Hold your line” like it’s a Tourette’s tic without ever knowing what it means. Some people buy Zipps before they buy Friel. Some people scoff at racing in the lower categories in an attempt to distance themselves from newbie-status, but nothing says mediocre more than a Cat 3 asserting superiority over a cat 4. And to me, the best part about racing is that it can be incredibly fun and fulfilling at any level, and while I look forward to moving up in the ranks of this sport, I have no intention of deriding where I started from.

What do you think: what gets bandied around as conventional wisdom that you would readily discard?

November 6, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: no one line, training

Despite an injury to a major typing finger, I’ve returned from spending many chilly autumn days restoring an old farmhouse in Duchess County, New York to update No One Line. No, I haven’t been too busy to post because of being best friends with Joe Parkin; rather, work and the necessities of setting up life in a new place have kept me away from idle hours at the keyboard.

Instead, I’ve spent my leisure time absorbing Joel Friel‘s The Cyclist’s Training Bible. Its audacious title is accurate; any rider new to serious training is bound to hear “Want to get faster? Read Friel.” I train with neither a heart rate monitor nor a power meter, as he recommends, but the book still offers a lot of potentially useful information. It took a bit of time wading through the chapters before getting to the bits that made all those pages sort of crystalize, but once I felt I absorbed it, I realized that the book contains information on what exercises will develop what areas, where to locate which developments within a larger training structure, and how to plan a season. It takes work, but it’s valuable.

And with that absorbed, I’ve been sliding back into the waters of serious riding, starting with the all-important Fun Riding. Friel calls it a Preparation Period, before the building of the base. Some off the bike workouts, combined with, for me, the re-experiencing of the joy that comes with throwing a leg over the saddle and discovering new places. There are farm roads here that lead out to nowhere, to climbs with thousand-foot elevation gains, to roads along ridgetops. There are flat river valley dirt roads perfect for stomping around on my cyclocross bike, fording muddy puddles and sliding around wet silt while orange-vested hunters call their dogs back from their run through endless cornfields. I could explore forever.

Yesterday morning, a buddy and I woke up early at the worksite. I slammed back a cup of steaming coffee and we launched our cross bikes at the equestrian trails running through the woods, bunnyhopping up to plank-bridges over small streams, picking our way through rocks and roots, and taking arcing lines through patches of mud. We were just out playing bikes, and it was excellent.

Leaving New York City…
October 16, 2009, 8:09 pm
Filed under: no one line

The rumors are true.

Updates have been slim lately because of the transitional mess I’ve been inhabiting. To wit: four sets of apartment keys, zero bicycles, and too many nights spent in too many different places.

All that’s about to change, finally. Northampton, Mass, here I come.

Wish me luck.

I’ll be back – to visit.