Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From Wired: You don't have to be a geek to love the Tour de France

Ostensibly a geek's guide to the Tour, this Wired piece is a doggone good thumbnail of the big race and why we enjoy it so....year after year after year.

James Raia on Graham Watson's new Tour de France Travel Guide

Raia thinks, as you'll read, that this is the best book about the Tour EVER....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Valentino Rossi wins his 100th GP - Fans celebrate...

Yesterday, at the Assen Circuit in Holland, the greatest motorcycle roadracer who ever lived won his 100th elite event. Only his countryman, retired racer Giacomo Agostini, has won more - but from weaker competition, some experts say. How famous and popular is Valentino Rossi?

Brad Pitt is a Rossi fan.... Daniel Day-Lewis is a Rossi fan. Even guys Rossi beats time after time admire him. He always appears to having a good time, doing what he's supposed to be doing, remaining in the moment - grateful to fans and family and friends, grateful to sponsors, never losing his perspective or sense of humor. He's an exemplary 30-year old star athlete.

SuperbikePlanet.com photo by The Driver and the Mechanic: TLB (whatever that means).

Shunning Lycra in Northwest Arkansas.... Who'd believe it?

From the online Arkansas Democrat Gazette, infrequently referenced on my blog site, here's a piece about people who wear just what they normally wear when they ride their '80s and '90s bicycles. Remarkably, it's the same stuff our local urban cyclists wear and ride - wherever we live.

Curious, huh?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why Horner didn't make the Astana Tour team:

Here're James Raia's comments and a link to Horner's own explanation from Horner's blog at Oregonlive.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ever wonder how strong you have to be to make a Tour de France team?

Well.... Superhuman, self-sacrificing, easy-to-be-around Chris Horner didn't make it...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From James Raia: Sam Abt on the long-lasting French mediocrity at their own national tour

Here's the link. Read what Raia has to say, then click on the link to Sam Abt's piece. Nice of Raia, by the way, to tip his hat to John Wilcockson and Sam Abt. Credit well earned. Nice guys too.

'nuff said?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What constitutes rudeness today? Does anything go?

Here's entertainer Patti LuPone's response to what she calls a "snide" NY Times description of her attempts to stop audience members from texting during shows and photographing the performers.

Ask me, we'd be safer in this great nation if we passed a sweeping phone control bill. Guns schmuns. Keep phones out of the hands of the obnoxious and self-obsessed. Gun abuse is a problem; phone abuse is epidemic, a plague.

Post m'friend Phil's comment: Everyone you know bitches about cell phone overuse, texting and rudeness. Everyone knows that talking on one's cell phone while driving creates the same level of danger for everyone as driving drunk. No one refrains. Let the other guy refrain. I gotta make a call.

Everyone knows about "being in the moment, " but everyone you see strolling in the park or walking on a quiet bike path or striding along a city street has a phone to his/her ear. As soon as they're done meditating, they're texting.

Legislation about driving while phoning has been ineffective. Something about easy 24/7 contact is seductive beyond the wildest imaginations of the pioneers of mobile personal communication.

Calling this phenomenon profoundly disturbing doesn't nearly do it justice.

Why DO so many cyclists ride on the sidewalks?

From the Guelph (Ontario, I believe) Mercury.com, here's a piece by a runner who is sympathetic, certainly more than I am, to cyclists who for good reasons, maybe, have elected to ride illegally on the sidewalks. They ride there because they feel safer there.

They've become the scourge of pedestrian sidewalks, apparently all over North America.

Read the piece and decide for yourself: Are cyclists who want to feel safer (on the sidewalks) making urban life safer only for themselves? Or for nobody at all?

I vote the straight Nobody ticket.

Remember when Lance's bike was stolen?

During this year's Tour of California in February, a couple of lowlives stole a few one-of-a-kind racing bikes from the Astana team truck. The bikes reappeared in short order but the thieves are going away for more...extended...periods.

Want some good advice? Don't steal Lance Armstrong's bike. Subscribe to James Raia's emails.

Here's Raia's report.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This is good!

Here, drawn/written by Kenny Be, is Westword's (our alternative newspaper here in Denver) guide to "surviving the invasion of the (two-wheeled) summer road warriors." I was concerned that the cartoons would not show well on your computers, but I took a look; they may be more readable on your screen than in the June 18-24 copy of Westword on my desk.

This is big fun. Someone should send a copy to Missy Giove, wherever she is. I'll bet she could use a laugh at this point....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Motorist Unrest in the People's Republic....

Rural Boulder CO locals are fed up with cyclists on their roads. An anonymous circular, found in many mail boxes, suggests....

Added later: Don't forget to read my old friend Earle's comment. It's not just Boulder or Woodside.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm not going to tell you - just watch the video....

I love watching him/her get on the bike, don't you? Thanks, Tena!

James Raia's farewell to Tyler Hamilton

This is one of those "I couldn't have said it as well" posts. My old friend James Raia has been writing about cycling for years and years. Based in Sacramento, he works for newspapers and has segued effortlessly into online journalism - in this post for the Examiner.

In almost every other instance when a cyclist has gotten into trouble for doping, I've sighed for the sport more than the rider. Tyler Hamilton is class clear through. James Raia and I are sorry as hell for his troubles.

If you'd like insider letters, sometimes a few a day, during the Tour and in the weeks previous to it, subscribe to James Raia's Examiner posts. Great guy, great savvy information.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scrap the Hummer! Can I get an Amen?

By "the Ethicist" Randy Cohen, from today's NYT: Let's not sell the Hummer, let's scrap the sumbitch! All in favor.... Oh! I'd read the update too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The last lap and 1/2 of the Catalunya MotoGP

Here is the You Tube video of the incredible last miles of the Spanish MotoGP near Barcelona yesterday. Yamaha factory teammates Jorge Lorenzo (a local boy) and #46, Italian Valentino Rossi, arguably the greatest motorcycle road racer ever, duke it out. Yes they do.

Many fans consider this race to have been an excitement all-timer. Evidently the Italian TV commentators thought so. See (and hear) for yourself....

SORRY - I believe DORNA, the organization that owns MotoGP, has pulled this video from You Tube. I hope you got to see it before the suits leapt into action to prevent you from doing so.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

VeloNews interview with the team mechanic who saved Denis Menchov's Giro

So seldom are the men and women behind the scenes given the opportunity to shine while "just doing their jobs...."

Here's the VN interview with Vincent Hendricks, the Robobank team mechanic who leapt from the follow car to give a spare bike to eventual Tour of Italy winner Denis Menchov - almost before Menchov had stopped falling! A slower bike change would have cost Menchov his victory!

Is this story inspiring or what?

Two motorcycle stories with humbling conclusions

In '96, I bought a Triumph Sprint, a fine three-cylinder sport-touring bike that I rode for four years, almost the longest I've ever kept a motorcycle. After a few months of riding, I took the bike into the shop for its second or third oil change, and asked the mechanic to use Triumph brand full-synthetic oil, made if memory serves by the Mobil-1 folks.

After he did the oil change, aware of the benefits trumpeted by the makers of synthetic oil, I noted that my Triumph shifted better, more smoothly and with less effort. The gearbox felt slicker inside, more expensively constructed, perhaps hand-fitted - day and night, I thought, day and night.

So I went to the mechanic and told him I'd noticed the improvement immediately. Day and night, I told him, just as I just told you.

"I used that Triumph stuff the last time I changed your oil, " he said.

And I realized that marketing, like the Lord, works in mysterious ways.

Now I have a Kawasaki motorcycle that I have learned is made in Thailand. It's an okay bike but not a great one. I have tended to blame the Thai folks who assemble the bikes - not the Japanese engineers who designed it. If Japanese people make cars like Toyotas, motorcycles like Hondas and TVs like Sony, they must make very few mistakes. Has to be the damn Thais, I told myself.

And I compared my Thai-made 2008 Kawasaki to the 2006, two-cylinder Triumph I owned just previously. The British Triumph had a fault or two, but none related to quality of construction. It was flawlessly made; it didn't hold much fuel and used lots of it - those were the only problems.

Just yesterday, I read that the two-cylinder Triumphs made since 2005 have been built in....you guessed....Thailand.

I've been writing about bicycling since 1983 and about motorcycling since maybe '85. Who knows how many people have read my stuff and thought - this guy seems to know things. Sometimes I get to thinking that I do know things, that I'm smarter than the average bear.

It's good that I'm occasionally (and dramatically) reminded that I'm frequently (and dramatically) fulla s--t.

Greg and Lance...it never ends

Unlikely as it seems that I'd be citing the WSJ, here is another Wall Street Journal piece. It's a sad one about the ongoing feud between this country's greatest cycling heroes. Well written by Reed Albergotti. Thanks, Tena!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A simpler life...in Japan as it happens

Here, from the NY Times, is a link to a short piece that is not about cycling or motorcycling, the usual fodder for my blog. It's a bit too far-reaching intellectually for my taste, but its truth is inescapable. If you like "a small room more than a large one," click on the link.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Tour through the lenses of Magnum photographers

This slide show focuses on the Tour de France but not entirely on it. It's unlike the usual bike magazine shots of the race.... I think you'll really enjoy it. At least one of the shots was taken by acclaimed photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson!

Thanks, Schnitz!

Yes, this is amazing....

I'd tell you about this piece but I'd just ruin it. My buddy Schnitz says that at first he thought it was an Onion sorta piece and not factual. But it's the real thing....

NY Times: Ride the Freedom Trail

Adventure Cycling's new bike trail follows the old route that took escaped slaves to freedom in the north.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Again from the NY Times, a contest among young designers for sylish, functional cycling gear

We want more people riding, right? And some people will resist riding until riding seems to them to be hip 'n' happening, done in style by style-conscious folks. Here's a short piece about a contest among clothing designers to come up with cool clothes and bags. The video is fun. Worth watching.

Tamar and I do read the NY Times, and I've always posted pieces from that paper. But there were never so many cycling-related items in the Times in the past. Hooray for the NY Times! 

Monday, June 1, 2009

David Byrnes' review (from the NY Times Review of Books) of a cool new book about cycling for transportation

Here's the link.

The book? Jeff Mapes' Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities. The brand new book is already in bookstores near you - as verified by your blogger in Moab, Utah, yesterday morning. 

I'm home after today's chilly, wet ride from Durango. Tamar and I visited Silverton and Ouray in Colorado, and Moab and Arches National Park in Utah. Lovely trip....