Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Manastash Metric is coming up quickly

The annual Manastash Metric/Half Metric Century ride is coming up on Saturday, October 6th.  Early registration ends on September 21st and then the registration cost goes up by $10.  Check out my earlier posts on the route changes.

You can go directly to the Manastash Metric website here.

Bucket list - meeting one cycling legend

I have a lot of things on my cycling bucket list including touring cross country (diagonally from Washington to Florida), going to the Tour de France and riding STP in 2015 in one day - the 30th anniversary of when I rode it the first time.

 But, tops on my bucket list would be an opportunity to meet, and ride with, Greg Lemond.  The primary road bikes in my stable are from the 1980's.  This was the time period I fell in love with cycling as a teenager and couldn't get enough of it.  It's also the time period that ABC and CBS sports started paying some attention to the Tour de France.  Broadcasts didn't include the entire stage as they do today but, rather, just snippets of them.

I'll never forget the sheer pride I had when Lemond won the 1986 Tour de France becoming the first American to do so.  It was a huge day for American cycling.   And who can forget 1989 and the miracle 8 second win on the last time trial over Laurent Fignon.  That race saw the introduction of clip-on aerodynamic bars and aerodynamic helmets to shave time off the stage performance for the first time and it was extremely controversial.

The drama of that race was unbelievable.  I remember sitting in my father-in-law's living room, eyes fixed on the tv, unable to move because of the suspense.  Afterward, pride again swelled up within me knowing that Lemond had come back from a hunting accident and got that second victory - a victory that would give some legitimacy to his 1986 win.

The 1980's were the last decade of the great, lugged steel racing bikes.  Of time trials that relied more on brute force and power from the rider than aerodynamics.  Of downtube, non-indexed shifters that required more skill in handling a bike versus today's option of having the shifters and brake levers integrated.  Heck, even the sight of non-aero exposed cables above the brake levers prior to the mid-80's gives me such a rich appreciation for the sport of cycling and the skill of the riders from those days.  The rider and the machine had to be so tuned to each other. 

Greg Lemond is a true American cycling hero and should be remembered for that.  I loved watching Lance Armstrong race but if there's one cycling legend in American history that I want to meet it's Greg Lemond.  Sorry, Lance, it's been that way since 1985 and it will never change.

Pondering Lance Armstrong

I know, what in the world is the Ellensburg Cycling blog doing discussing Lance Armstrong?  As my riding mileage has finally been able to increase since the middle of July I've had time to ponder a lot of things and one of those is Lance Armstrong.  More specifically my thoughts have revolved around his recent decision to not seek an arbitration hearing with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation against his alleged doping while riding in the peloton.  And, the subsequent announcement by the USADA that Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles.

I should say I was, and still am, a huge Lance Armstrong fan.  He is an amazing athlete with an ability on the bike that goes beyond anything I could ever hope to do.   Will the USADA decision change my feelings about him.  Probably not.  He won the 1993 World Championships before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and none of these doping accuations are from that time period.  He was always a strong and gifted rider but he was also a different rider after the cancer treatments.

Did Lance Armstrong dope?  I'm pretty sure he did.  Does it matter in my mind?  Nope, not one bit.  Most of the peloton was doing it.  It doesn't make it right but it's also just the way things were.  The riders take a lot of risks and doping is one of those that they know could, ultimately, take their life.  But, it doesn't seem to matter.  Doping in the 1970's and earlier consisted of cocaine, amphetamines and other substances to dull the pain the body was feeling.  It wasn't performance enhancing it was mental "dulling".  Let's face it - a three week stage race can be one of the most brutal on the body especially the mountain stages on multiple days.  Granted the peloton may "relax" for 100 out of 175 km of a race but those last 75 km can be all out.  To do this day after day tears a body apart.

I was never a fan of Laurent Fignon but reading his autobiography a couple of years ago after he died I came to a new acceptance of what these riders do to themselves.  Riding with broken bones, severe tendonitis, saddle sores so bad that they bleed the entire time they're on the bike and on and on.  Yet, they climb back on the bike day after day and push themselves beyond limits we will never really comprehend.

Doping will always be in the peloton.  I remember watching with utter amazement during the 2009 Giro d'Italia as Danilo Di Luca raced up mountains day after day with no apparent ill effects from the prior days hard climbing.  Explosive accelerations.  Covering break aways.  Bridging gaps.  It was incredible.  Then a couple of months later announcements are made that he tested postive for CERA and was banned for two years and his second place finish vacated.  That explained the explosiveness in the mountains.  I wasn't surprised.  And, again, I didn't really care because the racing had been phenomenal the finishing time trial having suspense like I hadn't remembered since 1989.

Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles.  Jan Ullrich, who could potentially be awarded the win in three of those events, was reported to have said he wasn't interested and he knew who had won those three races.   Lance Armstrong was a great rider and doping wasn't going to make him that much greater.  In the end, I don't really see what the USADA gains by all of this.  There's absolutely no physical evidence - just testimony by former teammates and other members of the cycling community.  By most appearances it looks like a vendetta by one man at the helm of the USADA and that smells about as bad as doping itself does.