Wednesday, December 23, 2009

who decides what a friend is?

This cracks me up:

It's from this blog I read on occasion. I'm not sure whether I'd say we're blog friends, but we're friends.

And I sleep with her.


I don't think dudes develop blog friendships quite like the ladies. My wife has all sorts of blog friendships--folks that monitor and comment on her blog regularly that she's never met, and she brings up intel from blogs at the dinner table like it's something she learned from a conversation earlier in the day. But I guess it was a conversation. Just a different sort of conversation.

Well, that's the extent of my profundity for today.

I'll end with this:

Bike racing is awesome.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

cooling my hands on the steel

There's something oddly wonderful about coming back from a long, cold ride and wrapping my bare hands around the cold aluminum tubing of my bike. It's odd, but I really like how that feels.

Similarly, I really like the patterns of ice that form on my top tube from dripped sweat. There wasn't any of that today (it was a pretty chill ride), but that happens a lot mountain biking in the winter. I like it a lot.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

warming my feet by the fire

I love owning a fireplace. So. Much.

I also love little girls that swipe their daddy's iPhone to snap a surprise candid (a surprise when I looked through the camera roll days afterward...I wasn't aware of the picture as it was happening).

I'm confident that there is something evolutionarily hard-wired in us to behave with reverence--and perhaps even with adoration, as in worship--towards fire. With its invitation indoors the quality of my life has increased meaningfully.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

a couple of race reports (I guess)

What's more boring than reading a race report? Reading two.


Made it down to the Howard County Double Cross a couple of weekends ago (actually, I just did Saturday's Schooley Mill, but the "Double Cross" bit is so clever I like to say it that way) and enjoyed my best finish of the year.

To tell the truth, I was en fuego that day. Having registered about four minutes before the deadline, I started with a number in the 60s, all the way back in the second to last row. I mean, I was w a y back there. But I chose the right gear and had the outside line so was able to sprint around probably half the field before hitting the narrows.

And it really was a great day. Pleasant weather, friendly company, warm, clean bathrooms, and a course that was a little muddy in places, but mostly just fast, and I felt invincible as I picked my way forward, taking riders in ones and twos through the turns and in larger numbers up the long power section on the front side.

Early on, there was one rider leading and a group of three chasing, about 15 seconds back. It was probably on the third lap that I caught the chasing group of three. I was feeling so good when I caught them that I choose not to hang out long, sprinting around them on the flats before the long descent in a wild frenzy that scared the lead rider and nearly landed me in a tree. They caught me again before the run-up, but I was able to distance them for good on the next lap.

From there, only one of the three posed any threat, and the lone leader proved to have too much of a gap to overcome. But finishing second, and prancing up one place further on the podium than I've previously been felt mighty fine. (Though I can't help but wonder how it would have turned out had I enjoyed a first or second row start...)

(The requisite barrier shot. A total of three
dismounts per lap in this race. Seemed
a lot. ... It may have been the SU shorts that
gave me new power.)

(A crappy iPhone pic of an awkward podium
moment. Photo courtesy of Micha.)


With the nice result in MABRAland I was all excited for the PA State Championships this last weekend in Allentown. All excited for the pole position start (was leading the 3/4 series going into Saturday). All excited for what looked to be a dry, fast course under sunny skies. I wasn't near as excited afterwards.

Despite my pole position start, I really sucked it up. Perhaps sucked it up all the worse because of my nice position. Anyway, going into the narrows I was probably 20 riders back. Absurd. But I picked my way through and after a couple of laps a rather odd situation developed--10 riders off the front, riding in a group, and then a long stretch afterward to the next rider. And that's pretty much how things stayed. There was a little bit of jockeying for position, I tried to come around to the front twice, for instance, but everyone continued to regroup and we held in a line of 10 until the last lap.

Then things got faster. I couldn't hold the pace. Finished an embarrassing ninth. Easily my worst result of the year (besides the Mercer Cup, but I'm not sure that agrees).

Such a strange race. Dry, fast conditions with a strong, strong wind blowing across the course. And I just felt terrible. Didn't have that extra gear, that extra top-end power that I had the week before. I'd like to blame it on the Turkey Trot 5k I ran a couple of days earlier (finished in 18:20, though I'm a little suspicious that the course may have been short), but whatever... Just one of those days.

And I lost my lead in the series standings.

We'll see if Bergey shows up at Marysville. Saturday, and then we're done for '09.

Monday, November 23, 2009

mercer cup (cont.)

A couple of great shots from an otherwise bad day:

I like that first one a lot. (Click on it to make it big.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

apparently I now post in response to comments

An anonymous "Chuck" commented last night on my competition post. It's difficult to tell if his question is serious or if I'm being goaded. Here's the comment:

Hey Goat--

As a amateur cyclist I heard from my competitors that it may help to shave your legs. I know this may sound stupid, but my hair gets tangled at times when I am riding.

Looking at your legs they seem shaven in the pictures, just wondering if this increases your speed or what the purpose is?



It's a little suspicious... I'm thinking "Chuck" isn't really a cyclist at all (probably one of my students, actually, in which case he--or more likely they--will probably be disappointed with what follows), but I'll peck out a quick response anyway. It's good to have these sorts of things on the record.


There are about a bazillion discussions on leg-shaving available through the pipes (here's one, two), but from my perspective there are four main reasons, one of which is the most critical (I'll let you guess which one).

(1) You shave because you wreck...and you don't want to deal with hair on your legs when you're dealing with wound care.

(2) The stuff you put on your legs--like sunscreen, anti-itch cream (a big deal for me during pollen season), and, especially critical during the cx season, embrocation--all goes on and comes off much easier with shaved legs. And a massage, even if it's a simple self-massage, is easier and more pleasant (no hair-pulling) without the shrubbery.

(3) You feel like a cyclist with smooth legs. They just look better...and there's something to say for that tiny bit of vanity-induced motivation to push just a little harder in that ITT or climbing that hill that you get when you look down at your ripped pedal mashers.

(4) Finally, the social consequences (in the pelaton) of not shaving your legs. Leg-shaving signals commitment and competence. Well, I suppose it's the opposite that is more true: hairy legs signal incompetence and a lack of commitment. Let me explain.

Riding with a big group of cyclists on the road is a potentially dangerous activity. It certainly doesn't have to be, if folks are properly instructed and have some experience, but it also can be. And you learn, when riding with others, the nuances of your compatriots' riding styles. You learn who knows to soft-pedal through braking, who can hold a line through a turn, who is conscious of others' proximity...and those who ride seemingly oblivious to the fact that others' safety is dependent on their behavior. After riding with folks for a while you can predict their movements, almost subconsciously, in a way that makes riding with them safe and safe and natural as a stroll through the park, even if bumping handlebars during a spirited conversation.

However, when riding with people you don't know, you have to make judgments regarding skill and competence, judgments your personal safety depends on, and you have to do this with very little information. You rely on tells--subtle signals like the angle of a stem, the quality of socks, and a host of other hard-to-articulate signs that telegraph skill and experience.

If we model pack-riding as a multi-round, multi-party prisoner's dilemma, the Nash equilibrium is either everybody stays up (a feat that often seems nothing short of miraculous, yet, empirically is undeniable) or everybody goes down (the perception of mountain bikers and tri-geeks who are afraid to do group road rides). And as any of my students should know, in order to maximize utility in a prisoner's dilemma it is critical to signal (early and often) not only your cooperative intentions, but your capacity to engage in relevant cooperative behavior (in this case, pack-riding skill).

Leg-shaving is one way to do so. Or, more properly stated, not shaving one's legs is a powerful signal of an inability to cooperate.

I couldn't always articulate it as I have above, but I remember learning very early on (I started riding competitively at 14) that if a newcomer shows up to a group ride with hairy legs (or tri-bars) to give them w i d e birth, and whenever possible to stay in front of them (which, generally, wasn't difficult, because these same folks usually didn't know what they were getting into on a fast group ride, and were often quickly left on their own).

And so there you have it. The social functionality of leg-shaving: The real reason amateur cyclists shave their legs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a thought or two on competition

In response to my brother's comment on a past post...

Well, who's to say what society values, but I can say with some confidence that I place value on competition...or I wouldn't be going to the races...

I've gone round and round on the 'why I compete' question. Is it about being better than others? Is it just a way of gauging personal growth? Maybe both. But clearly I also just enjoy it.

What can I say, I'm just a big kid... Bike racing is a game. Games are fun. And while simply playing the game is a good time, winning the game is better.


My disappointment at Fair Hill has to do with losing, of course, but also with losing by so little a margin. Having victory right there and not quite being able to pull it off.

There are financial and vanity issues associated with the loss as well. Had I finished in the top three I would have taken home a bag full of goodies. And had my picture taken on the podium. I admit, albeit sheepishly, that I value these things.

And there are other considerations. There are upgrade points (forth place w/ 25-49 competitors earns me two upgrade points, whereas first would have garnered five). There are series points (which would affect my call-up position if I were to race any more MAC races this year or the first of the series next year). And there's the ribbing I suffered from Moats for getting beat by someone he handily dispatched the week before.



There's a more serious response to this question as well. Thanks to Eric Liddell, I think I can come close to articulating it.

Eric, whose story is dramatized in Chariots of Fire, misses a church service because of his training. His sister gets upset about it, but Eric explains to her, "I believe that God made me for a purpose ... [the missionary work he'll later do in China, which his sister thinks very important], but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

I'm not sure that there's a better justification for sport than that.

Sport is the acknowledgment of human potential. It's the recognition that our bodies are good for more than carrying our heads around. I feel good when I ride. I feel good when I ride fast. And though there is an emptiness to competing just to prove yourself better than others, there's an unexplainable but undeniably righteous joy in being best. It's as if all creation rejoices with you in achieving that end for which you came to be.

You don't have to believe in God to find that religiously poignant. You just have to believe in sport.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

my (bike's) 10 seconds of fame: Mercer Cup

The day belonged to this dude...

...and this gal...

...while I didn't make it two complete laps before this:

Consolation prize? My bike featured in a VeloNews photo gallery:


It was a tough day to be an amateur cyclocross racer without a pit bike or crew. Most of the pros were making bike changes every half lap. I made it nearly two laps (yes...only! two laps) and then this--one cleanly sheared derailleur hanger. (I wasn't the only one, btw. Kabush had to run half a lap and consequently lost any chance at the podium due to an identical problem. And there were others...)

The crew from Specialized was there with their team and demo bikes, which was cool, but they didn't have any hangers. The SRAM support dudes were there, but they didn't have a hanger that fit (but, to their credit, they tried for a good 15 minutes to find something that would work), and Knapp's (sp?) Cycling was there (one of the title sponsors)...well, they were supposed to be there, but it turns out they weren't anywhere to be found--at least in a capacity to do anything about my mechanical.

So that was that.


Reuben had an MRI in Philly on Friday so we decided to head to the coast and make a weekend of it. Coincidentally, the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross was making a stop in Jersey the same weekend. How lucky. But less than two laps around the stickiest, muddiest course I've ever ridden and that was it for the racing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

fair hill

A couple of pics from Fair Hill last Saturday:

(I'm kind of hiding back there to the left, between the heads
of the dude in yellow and the Guy's Racing dude in green.)

(Another barrier shot... Why do photographers think barrier shots are so cool?)


A really nice day at the races last Saturday. It was a beautiful morning, a great course, and I was in a sunny mood to match the weather.

But the race could have gone better than it did. (I suppose it also could have gone much worse.)

After a season of really pretty good starts I really blew this one. I overestimated the size of the gear I'd want to be in and lost a lot of ground, from an already mid-pack start position, right from the gun. Forty-four riders started, and into the first turn I was sitting 30th or worse. Arrgh.

But the course suited me--lots of power sections, plenty of room to pass--and I rode the long sand pit section surprisingly well, generally gaining ground on those around me through it. So halfway through the race I had made my way up and was riding somewhere around 5th or 6th place.

I also had the first set of barriers pinned. Most rode the final 180 prior to the barriers. I dismounted before the final turn and came out of the barriers about 10 feet up on whomever I was riding with at the time.

Well, somewhere in there I got passed by a few folks (one had the audacity to ask if I was a lapped rider...yes, I was insulted) and I was sitting seventh going into the final lap. But I found my second wind and on a longish uphill section I put in a beautiful effort, coming around three riders (including the jerk who thought I'd been lapped) even though they were each spaced about 20 feet apart from one another.

That last lap I really felt great--shifting up and out of the saddle on all the straightaways--and by the second barriers I was just seconds behind the second and third place riders. But I couldn't catch them. I crossed the line fist-pumping in frustration at having been so close, but not being able to close the deal. (One spot off the podium...again!) I finished two seconds down on third, four seconds down on second, and only 18 seconds down on first.

The moral of this story (as it almost always is): ya gotta nail the start. Had I hit that first corner in the top 10 I'm confident I would have won the race. Eighteen seconds? That's next to nothing given the time and effort it takes to pass 3/4 the field during a 45 minute event.

Oh well. Disappointment may be why I keep racing...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

cell phone companies: the new corporate evil

I can't remember if I've blogged on this before, but cell phone companies are really starting to chap my hide. And it's all David Pogue's fault (well, not all his fault...I've also way too much experience arguing with impotent customer service reps over billing errors and other service problems).

And now this.

People tell me all the time that they're waiting for the iPhone to be offered through Verizon before making the leap. Think again. At least AT&T has agreed to do something about the 15-second voice mail scam. At least. (Though I've had my share of negative experiences with AT&T billing and customer service.)

I really hate these companies. And I hate that I hate them, because all that negative energy...well, it takes a toll. But you know that there are real people behind all these decisions, people with kids and dogs who are sitting around a conference table discussing these scams. And they likely have convinced themselves that they aren't bastards for running them. But they're wrong. They are bastards. Unethical, disingenuous, and unkind.

And the thing that probably drives me the craziest about these folks is that I have no access. I know they're there, but I don't know where there is. I can call and complain until my voice is horse and I wear out the phone line, but there are miles of bureaucratic morass between the people who I can access and the people making decisions. And that really bothers me. It's a reminder of my own impotent role in this play, and there's no feeling quite like that of being so poignantly aware of your own powerlessness.

I imagine that this is the kind of thing that practicing yoga would be good for...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

health care (overdrive)

About a year ago I wrote about this woman, who I at the time described as mildly insane. She's in the news again...

...stirring up others who, at worst, may also be delusional, but, more charitably, are probably better described as naive or uninformed. You can read about it in The Times here.

My favorite bit:

"Ms. Garloch, like many in the crowd who while visibly angry, could not articulate the main problems in the health care system or how they should be solved."

And that really about sums it up, doesn't it? A lot of people mad about...well, mad, but they can't say really what about.


"Mr. Hershberger, like many of the demonstrators, repeated some of the most common conservative and Republican talking points heard repeatedly on Fox News. 'It’s not bipartisan,' he said, standing outside the Capitol wearing a Texas Longhorns baseball cap. 'They are doing it behind closed doors.' He added: 'It’s going to drive us into a super-deficit.'"

Ah... Now I understand a little better. They're mad because someone else was mad. Or mad because they were told they should be mad.

"Asked what he thought about the three-month effort by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, work with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee to draft a bipartisan bill, Mr. Hershberger dismissed it, saying the resulting legislation proved the process had failed. 'It doesn’t reflect what we want,' he said."


With a crowd like that (angry, active, committed, non-thinking folks), there's no wonder Michele Bachmann's at the podium. These are her people!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ted Robinson on TED... a talk on the importance of nurturing creativity in education, and the failure of most education systems to do so.

After discussing the prevalent hierarchy of subjects in all public education systems the world over--mathematics and language first, humanities second, and the arts third--he leaves us with this:

"Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we've strip mined the earth, for a particular commodity..."

That which makes us employable and economically productive.


I think he's right.

You can watch the 20-minute video here. If you're in education, or care about it, you'll likely find the time spent worthwhile.


I enjoy Mr. Robinson's critique of our educational systems, though I certainly don't have the answer as to how it should be done, if how we are doing it is wrong. All the same, I know how I feel in the classrooms of children.

I have empathy for the authoritarian when I "supervise" indoor recess with 20 seven year-olds playing wild dogs and cats and I'm scared half to death, scenes from a real-life enactment of Lord of the Flies at my feet. Children, with all their energy and wild creativity, can be terrifying. They're so much easier to control with strict, rigid discipline.

But I also know this: I see kindergartners neatly lined up, waiting to go to lunch--"Arms to your side. No talking. Walk, don't run. Stay in line."--and I'm overwhelmed with a deep desire to set them free. I hate to sound too dramatic, but when I see that, I feel a little ill. Like I'm witnessing a crime. And it tugs at my heart, like the claws of moral responsibility, and I'm left with the sense that my job in education, my holy calling, is to do my best to get these poor, obedient little bastards to unlearn all the fear, powerlessness, servility, and acquiescence to authority that they're being taught there and to learn to love and trust themselves again.

the year's first mudder

After the fact that was Murrysville Cross:

Next up: Fair Hill.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

airline bike box fees

The research is all the work of someone else. Reproduced here without permission, primarily for my own reference:

Air Canada: $50, plus checked baggage fees.

AirTran: $79.

Alaska / Horizon: $50.

Allegiant Air: $50.

American: $100 in addition to the applicable checked baggage fee.

Continental: $100.

Delta Airlines: $175.

Frontier Airlines: This document says $50, while this page says $75.

Hawaiian Airlines: $100, unless you're doing intra-island travel in which case the fee is only $25.

Jet Blue: $75.

Northwest Airlines: $100.

Southwest Airlines: $50.00.

United Airlines: $85.

US Airways: $100.

Virgin American: $50.

Monday, October 26, 2009

iron cross lite & the podiums in our lives

Audrey had a nice Iron Cross Lite. The pictures, I think, adequately tell the story.


I love to see Audrey riding her bike. And I love to see her on the podium.

I love to see me on the podium too, but I feel a little cheesy up there, like I'm play-acting. I mean, it's a part I love to play, don't get me wrong, but look at those kids. Their expressions of joy are so genuine. Magnificent.

Anyway...the parts I've played in the past few weeks:

2009 Iron Cross Lite, Men's 3/4

2009 Murrysville Cross, Men's 3/4

As cheesy as all that is, I'd rather be on the podium than off! And third place feels nice after having finished one spot out of the money in Hagerstown and at Iron Cross VII.

Hats off to the folks who put on Murrysville for their deep payout (eight places in a field of 38). Promoters on this side of the mountains (MABRA series races, PA series races, and the MAC) who also enjoy the benefit of deeper fields could take a lesson.


Murrysville Cross on Saturday was a wonderful muddy mess. My first mud of the '09 cx season. And a tough race. I had notions of doubling up--the 3/4 at noon and the 1/2/3 at 2 pm--but I was toast after that first race. Rather surprised at how beat I felt, frankly. The seems to drain a little from your body's every muscle. My abs ached. Plus, no hose = dirty, dirty bike.

I suppose you'd have to ask the spectators, but I think we gave them a race worth watching.

I had a prime starting position (thanks to presently holding the series lead), pretty much blew it right off, and had a delightful time slowly picking off riders over the next several laps. I was passed a few times too. Some by guys who started off with a pace they couldn't maintain, and some when I got caught up in some tape and had to stop briefly to untangle. And that's what I think made the race exciting. A bit of back and forth. The race wasn't really decided until the end. By midway through the last lap I was only 20 feet down on the dude in second place. Unfortunately, he caught sight of me, found my breathing down his backside all too motivating, and rode the last half lap with a fire under his saddle. He earned his spot.


In other news, yesterday, a new (almost) half world champion was crowned. Wish I could have been there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

mean, mean gunner

Gunner Shogren, bully:

(Iron Cross Lite, 2009)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jessica's Web

I was just quickly reading through the introduction of a book, to figure out what the book is about, and came upon a peculiar statement:

Jessica's Web [the name of the book] was written for people who endorse the following four statements:

* In my career, I intend to make a positive difference for others.
* I know that I don't know all that my career demands.
* I plan to work both smart and hard in my career.
* I want to advance to positions of greater influence and opportunities to better please a higher power.

I read through the first three points, absorbing them without difficulty (not many would have difficulty endorsing the first three points), then read the fourth. And I stopped. Stunned.

I read it again. And again. At first I thought it the author's intention was to say that his book is for people who want to please their boss. But after a second reading, I'm pretty sure the author is referring to a higher power, as in a Higher Power.

Unfortunately, there is no further explanation, no further clues as to the author's intention, an omission that I find both troubling and baffling. But I don't like it. Not at all. It reads conspiratorially, a wink to people in the know, people who will know they're in the know when they read that. It hints at a very particular worldview that the author shares with a certain group of people, people for whom this book is apparently written. It also indicates that this book is not for me, that it is intentionally exclusionary. Sure, I can read it, there's no harm there, but without the background ideology embedded in the author's worldview I won't really understand the book. Because it's written in code, a moral code, and I don't have the Rosetta Stone.

I'm not sure I want to. The conspiracy feels vaguely nefarious. But I do want to know to whom the author is speaking. I want to keep an eye on these folks. Exercise caution around them. They make me suspicious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

kids kross

My new thing. Mondays, when the weather is nice, around 4:00 pm behind James Burd Elementary.

Most of the ponytail posse was out this last Monday. And Jack. It was pretty sweet.

Kids love bikes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

get looow

I like this picture of Cadel's new ride (thanks Graham):

I like it because of the stem. Specifically, the stem angle. I like it because the stem is angled downward, which means that Mr. Evans likes to get low. Really low. The way it seems a bike racer should be riding his (or her) bike.

That's how I set up my bikes, anyway. Though I admit that this is due in part to what seems to be a manufactures' trend toward increasing the length of head tubes. My 58 cm Tarmac SL2, for instance, has what I would consider to be a ridiculously tall head tube (205 mm; compare that to the 170 mm head tube on a 56 cm frame). This requires an awkward compromise in my riding position--having to stretch out more horizontally, with a longer stem, to get my shoulders as low as they would be on my other bike, a Giant TCR, which has a shorter stem and a less aggressive stem angle. (I'd actually really like to try a size 56 Tarmac. My thinking is the front end would fit much better, but I'd be showing so much seat post that it might look a bit ridiculous.)

I say "awkward compromise," because I think I do prefer the TCR's geometry. It feels more...natural. Though my position on the Tarmac isn't exactly awkward. It feels good enough. Even after four or five hours in the saddle. (The relationship between bottom bracket and saddle position is the same on both bikes--I measure this stuff rather obsessively. The difference in position really comes down to where my hands are, which effects elbow and shoulder angle, but (hopefully) not my back.)

Anyway, I like to see Cadel dealing with a similar problem, even if on his bike if the head tube was much smaller it would nearly disappear.


In other (completely unrelated) news, I think this is interesting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

bca (hagerstown) cross

BCA Cross in Hagerstown will always hold a special place in my heart (but not because of my breast cancer, which I don't have). Because. Saturday, I commemorated the occassion by doubling up--the masters 3/4 at 10:00 am and the the masters 1/2/3 at 12:15. My first time in a masters cyclocross event.

The first race went well enough, I suppose.

Early in the first lap my chain bounced off during an exceptionally bumpy section. What follows is an approximation of my thoughts during those few seconds:

(1) Crap.

(1, cont.) I go to the single-ring crank to decrease complexity and now here I am--without a means (front deraileur) for getting my chain back on the ring.

(2) Maybe I should just drop out and save it all for the 1/2/3 event.

(3) That's lame. If someone else threw that on me as rationale for dropping out I'd think it was exceptionally lame.

(4) I don't have to tell them that's why I dropped out. I could mumble something about a puncture...

(5) Still lame.

(6) How am I going to stop here where it's all congested without getting ran over or cursed?

(7) Actually, this is a pretty good place to stop. There's no tape on the outside of this turn.

(8) Why is there no tape on the outside of this turn? Actually, there were sections of no tape earlier too. Did the promoters just run out of tape?

(9) How expensive can tape be?

(10) Where do you buy this tape, anyway? I can think of a few uses for it.

(11) But I wonder if you can reuse it. I wouldn't want to set up a practice course with tape if I couldn't easily reuse it.

** I turn to the guy next to me and mutter something about needing off the course.

(12) Wow, that guy was nice. He actually slowed down so I could get over.

(13) Would I do that if in his place? I probably don't want to answer that.

(14) Was it rude of me not to acknowledge his courtesy?

(15) Too late.

(16) Hmm... Would have a rider have been as courteous in the senior men's 3/4 field?

(17) Less likely.

** Now off my bike, I notice that the chain is only mostly dropped--it's still on the ring at the top, cradled gently between the outside and inside chainguards.

(18) Well, that sucks.

(19) It turns out I'm an idiot (now), because I was smart (then). Redemption for my design (I should have just soft-pedaled a bit and the chain would have come right back on), but boo for panicking and thinking I needed to stop.

(20) So why did I panic?

** On the bike again...

(21) Is it because I'm just a bad bike racer? Was I looking for an excuse to lose?

(22) You ask yourself that a lot, goat--whether you reacted a certain way because you're looking for an excuse not to win--is there something to that or do these things just really happen?

(23) I really ought to look into that. I've read so little sports psychology.

(24) But when. I'm so behind on everything already.

(25) And I'm always so tired. Whenever I have a free minute I just want to sleep.

(26) That better not be from a recurrence of Lyme disease.

(27) Nah, I likely would have had a fever or something.

(28) Well, that's what I tell myself, anyway. Better not to worry about it. There's enough to worry about.

(29) Time. Not only have I lost--how long was I stopped? fifteen seconds? it felt more like 30. probably just ten. maybe less. felt like more, though--now I'll have to waste time and energy getting around all these people that just passed me.

(30) But I love passing people, so there's that.

(31) These poor shleps. They should have just waited for me to get going again. Couldn't they tell when they passed me that I'm faster than them?

(32) Starting at the back of the pack might be more satisfying than starting at the front, because of all the passing.

(33) Hmm... Interesting question, would I rather start at the front and do little passing or start towards the back and do a lot?

(34) That's a dumb question. I just want to win.

(35) Or do I (see thought #22).

And that's bike racing.


I finished sixth (50+ starters). About a minute down on the winner, and just four seconds off the five-place podium (and four seconds out of the money). So close, but so far.

(My only photo from the
event. Oddly, I can't find
anything through the pipes.
There's usually so much.)

In the second race I was gassed. I was tired from the start, coming around the first corner dead last. Things improved after I got warmed up, for a while, but the last two laps I slowed down considerably. By the end, toast. The one steep hill...every time it struck me as increasingly improbable that I'd be able to get my sorry fat sack of bones over again. I finished 20th out of some 34 or 35 starters.


Audrey was my buddy for the day. She hung out during both races, spending time (1) riding her bike all over, (2) playing on the playground equipment, and (3) sitting on a park bench reading. The park bench time was during my second race, and the park bench was just off the I got to see her cute little blond self sitting there each time around. I enjoyed that. A lot.

Love that little girl.

After my two events, Audrey lined up in the junior men's/women's 10-16 event. If you'd like to know, you'll have to ask her how it went.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


It's a post-race tradition amongst cyclists to scour the pipes in the days following the races and find pictures of their studly selves. What can I say, I'm a traditionalist.

(I'm also WAY too serious looking in these. You see other people smiling or making faces for the camera. Me? It's as if the whole world depends on the important work I'm doing here.)

This shot in particular really gets to me. You'd think I was staring down Satan himself...or that death lies at the bottom of whatever I'm dropping into.


I mean, looking at that picture, right now, I'm a little scared of that dude. Somebody needs to lighten up and enjoy the ride. Either that or flash my murderous stare at the other riders to yield some sort of advantage...

Monday, September 28, 2009

not a whirlybird cross race report - update

I finished 9th.

Apparently an error in the original results posting. Probably some lapped riders got caught in there somewhere.

I like single-digit finishes WAY better than not.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

not a whirlybird cross race report

Well, not really a race report. I lost. Eleventh of I think 68 (senior B). I expected a top 10. Hoped for better. So, a bit disappointing. That's the extent of my report.

Oh, one more thing. It was my first event with my new single-ring crank setup. Though I think it will be most advantageous in muddy conditions, after one (really dry) race I'm already digging it. Also digging the Dura-Ace crank (previously running the FSA SLK that came stock). Who knows if these things are psychological or whatever, but I swear that crank is faster. On my first ride with the setup last week it felt SO much better than the SLK. Really.

Sean Davies came to play for the weekend. He took this picture.

I'm not usually a fan of the barrier-running shots, but I like this one. Also a nice shot of the crank. Thanks, Sean.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


From the back of my Patak's Original microwave lunch package:

(1) Puncture plastic film in several spots on top of the bowl.
(2) Place bowl in microwave. Heat on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes.
(3) Let stand for 1 minute.
(4) Carefully remove film by pealing it back around bowl. Stir, serve and enjoy!

Or else? What if I don't enjoy? Am I then guilty of not following the directions? And if I don't follow the preperation directions, have I then forfeited my right to be dissatisfied with the product? I mean, I can't really complain about a product's performance if I don't use it properly, right?

I ask this because, even though I haven't even peeled the cardboard packaging off yet, I think I can safely say that I won't "enjoy" it that much. I may get full, but enjoy? That's a tough bill to fill for a tv dinner style lunch. So it's likely that I won't be able to complete the instructions. And I hate forfeiting rights.

The problem is making my head spin.

The solution? Well, the only safe solution in this case would seem to be avoidance. No more Patak's Original for me.

And the worst of that is that I haven't even tasted the stuff yet so I don't know whether to be sad about the prospect of never getting intimate with Patak again.

Crazy. Completely crazy...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

we're #37

(Another, Facebook users, click "view original post.")

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

oh this is too much

But I can't help but wish it would happen to me. Just lovely.

(Facebook users, click on "see original post," or whatever it says, to see the video.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

crappy decisions

So the bearings in my powertap hub are shot. Finally time to send it back to Saris for a rebuild. Now, the dilemma.

Option #1. $300. Saris rebuilds the current hub, sends it back to me, but I live without heart rate. My heart rate strap stopped working two years ago and Saris no longer makes a model compatible with my older powertap SL. So, this option essentially gets me back to where I was before, with all moving parts and seals replaced. Still wired.

Option #2. $460. Same deal with the wheel, but Saris also sells me a new CPU (2.4 version) and a compatible heart rate moniter. I'd like a heart rate monitor again. Still wired.

Option #3. $1000. Saris guts my hub body and besides bearings and seals, replaces the old 12mm axle with a supposedly much stiffer 15mm axel. Also updates the innerards to the new SL+ wireless version. New CPU. New heart rate monitor. New everything. Except the hub body.

I can't hardly believe how stinking expensive this power crap is. Nuts. The worst of it is (probably) that you spend all this money and then you don't really have anything new to look at. The bike still looks the same (except without that unsightly wire).

I'm half tempted to go the $1000 option and then just turn around and sell the wheelset (Bontrager Race X Lite Aero), but I'm not quite sure I'm ready to give up on power. I'm also not sure that I could sell the wheelset, even with the upgrades, for much more than $1000. If I was really lucky I might be able to get $1500. But then what?

What a pain...

explaining cyclocross

When I have to explain cyclocross, which includes fall semester classes (how will I report the results of major races if the students don't know what cx is?), I usually use this great video.

However, today I found this one, which I also love.

All my years in cycling and I still really had no idea what to expect until I showed up to my first race. And I only lost that race by two places. (I've since learned to lose them by many more.) But cross really is that great. At least for this shaggy dirtbagging goat.

Getting excited...

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Knee and arm warmers on my 7:00 am ride today. It's much warmer now, but the times...they are a-changin'.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the Fish, writing, and classroom regulation

Stanley Fish starts a rant on something else with a rant on college students' writing proficiency.

I like Fish's columns. A pleasure to read. (And sometimes expensive; this column prompted me to buy two books. They both proved worthwhile reads, though the thoughtful "Shop Class as Soulcraft" will be kept on my shelf, whereas the disappointingly lightweight "Big Sid's Vincati" I'm sending to my brother...for him to pass on once he's done with it.)

Anyway, from today's column, two highlights:

I became alarmed at the inability of my students to write a clean English sentence.

Yeah, me too. Every time I sit down to read students' papers. And often when reading email. And though I can't quite articulate and diagram the problems as well as Fish (perhaps a failing of my undergraduate institution's writing curriculum), I can do well enough. And do well enough to know that either my students' prior training in writing has failed them, or that the bar is set exceptionally low, or perhaps both.

I am...against external regulation of classroom practices if only because the impulse animating the effort to regulate is always political rather than intellectual.


I am especially against external regulation of classroom practices by those on the other side of the classroom from me. It strikes me that a student is in a particularly bad place to evaluate the usefulness of a course's content or the relevance of a degree's curriculum. Having thus concluded, it becomes preposterous that search committees and college administrators place so much weight on student course evaluations. But sometimes it's all we have. So we make do. Though I'm sure there's a better way. I'm afraid, however, that we're too lazy, entrenched, and (perhaps) fearful (of students, in part) to implement it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the Chicago six

Six pounds. Five days off the bike, three of them in Chicago eating cheesecake and a bunch of other really wonderful stuff, the two days prior sitting around depressed eating a lot of ice cream. Six pounds...

Yesterday I hardly ate a thing and wasn't hungry at all. Weird.


After round three of the YBR/SMVC/SUCC Summer Smackdown yesterday--a 6.5 mile hill climb up Big Flat--I rolled over and scouted out The (Almost) Half World Championship course. You won't want to miss it. It's going to be great. (Date still pending...due to a thousand other conflicts, it's looking like we might shoot for Labor Day.)


I'm thinking I'm on the tail end of discovering this, but I have to say I enjoyed it tremendously. For my hipster Philly friends, you may be happy to know that while the hipster fixie culture in Chicago is alive and well, it's not nearly as evolved and natural as it is in Philly. You still win.

Monday, August 10, 2009

some people's (would be) president

Sarah Palin, that stalwart of reason and sense, wrote this on her Facebook page the other day:

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society’ whether they are worthy of health care."

Oh. My. Word.

Notice how tricky she is, though. She hasn't said that Obama has actually proposed this "death panel" (whatever that is), which would be a lie, of course. But the language leads the reader to believe that Obama wants this weird thing (a thing so weird I don't even know where it's coming from).

Look, I can play this game too:

The America I know and love is not one in which small children are forced to watch the torture, maiming, and eventual slow and painful murder of soft, cuddly white bunnies at the hand of Sarah Palin and her 'death professors' in order to teach them the 'biology of pain economics.'

You like that? I didn't lie either.

Palin, you are the lunatic fringe. Well, a lunatic for sure. I'm merely hopeful that you stay on the fringe.

Friday, August 7, 2009

so many things...

I compose blog posts during the day, in my head. But I rarely write them.

Last Saturday, I whipped up a beauty about the ride Joel and I had on the Iron Cross course. It was a great ride (70+ mtb miles, 5+ hours), great weather, great company... And I remember having some terrific insights I thought worth writing down. But now I've forgotten.

Tuesday, I was going to write about the Tuesday Night Races, being tired, the art of the solo break, and a number of other things. But after the races I was so tired. The next day, busy.

Wednesday, I was going to write about this. And I was going to write about the trouble with using war metaphors when talking about cancer--words like "battle" and "fight." Because, in war, only death wins. And where does that leave the dead in the thoughts of the living?

Yesterday, I was going to write about my little miracle girl. Eight years-old yesterday. On her seventh birthday her oncologist told us it had better be some party. I liked that. Physicians are so obnoxiously dishonest when it comes to talking about how near death your children are. Until afterward. Then they seem to be more forthcoming, if not completely forthright. (Where do they learn this stuff, anyway? ...this inhuman distance from the painful emotional reality of life. Is it a symptom of having developed the medical gaze...the dishonesty their way shielding themselves from the pain? I guess we all have to cope.)

So this eighth birthday is something special too. Maybe more so. Her hair has grown back, wild and thick. She's grown fleshy (still an outlier as far as height and weight for her age, but proportional with a BMI in the 70th percentile). And, most significantly, has grown seven inches since transplant. Her endocrinologist, who hadn't seen her for 21 months, was in awe. (Again, an after-the-crisis display of honesty...admitting that when he saw her last he didn't expect her to grow again at all.)

Now, today, the post I wrote in my mind... Something about the ironies, paradoxes, and contradictions of parenthood. Something about the nature of joy/pain, which is to say the nature of life.

Yesterday's celebration ended abruptly around nine pm. Reuben was standing up, holding Audrey's hands. Then he dropped one hand and fell abruptly, awkwardly, twisting to the floor. It was a weird fall, but not that weird, for a baby. Babies fall all the time. But somehow this fall dislodged or jarred or otherwise upset his tumor (behind and under his right shoulder). It moved position. Bruised. Hardened.

And then there was screaming. For the next three hours. At least. Intermittent inconsolable screaming. Then some sleep. Then more screaming.

On and off again until four am, at which point I was supposed to drive to the airport to catch a flight to Chicago. Valerie didn't want me to go. She didn't want to tell me not to, but she didn't want me to go. I wasn't sure I'd be able to stay awake even for the drive to Harrisburg.

So now I'm laying on the couch, as tired as ever. The girls are playing a new computer game (Oregon Trail, a birthday present from someone who knows how much Marian loves all things pioneer). Valerie and Reuben are off to Hershey for X-rays and who knows what else. (It says something about the course of our lives that Val asked me to load a suitcase, still packed from the last hospital stay, "because who knows?") And I'm left to decide if it's worth it to try to get the airline to rebook my outgoing flight to Chicago.

And there's a cute little dog (stuffed toy) with a homemade leash tied to one leg of our piano.

And Audrey couldn't sleep last night blaming herself for Reuben's injury.

And she let me hold her as she cried herself to sleep.

And we've yet to figure out what happened to Reuben's shoulder.

And the sound of a screaming baby is the sound of my slowing going insane. It's quiet now, but the echos of insanity linger, softly reverberating inside my skull. It'll be a wonder if Val and I make it to 40.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

those darn college professors

A bunch of liberal, elite know-it-alls... Can't trust a one of 'em.

This coming fall semester, on the second day of classes, a whole bunch of upperclassmen at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania are going to walk into class, all bright-eyed and eager, only to find they're going to have to sit through 75 minutes, twice a week, of this:

I'd feel sorry for them if I were you.


The department secretary showed me this afternoon that my mug had been reduced to stock art. Here. (You may have to refresh the page a few times.) An occupational hazard, I suppose.

I'm flattered, self-conscious, and mildly disturbed.


Here it is August and I finally got around to reading my spring semester course evaluations. Under "Please describe what aspects of this course you would change," a few of my favorites:

"cancel class more often, take a break"


"The way he teaches"

I especially appreciate the last one. Very helpful.

One of the problems with course evaluation comments is, of course, their anonymity. About some students' opinions I couldn't care less. But other students--students I've come to respect for one reason or another--I really want to know what they think. If I get a complaint that assignments aren't well explained, for example, that's much more meaningful feedback coming from a a student I know to be attentive and engaged than if it comes from someone who rarely comes to class. As the saying goes, context is everything.

Two other observations from course evaluations. First, there are a lot of college students who don't like to read (one wonders what these students' expectations for college were, and why). Second, I consistently get better evaluations in my earlier classes than I do in my later classes.

I'm not sure how to explain this second observation. It may be that I simply get tired through the day, and don't conduct class with as much energy the second or third time as I do the first. But I always feel better about the presentation the second time around--where I stumbled in the first hour, I'm clean and rehearsed in the second. Maybe too rehearsed?

I wonder if others' evaluations show the same thing. If so, it would seem that students are better off the fewer classes their professors teach. The professors, no doubt, would be better off too. Win-win.

Friday, July 31, 2009

the blood chronicles

Bradley Wiggins, as promised, released his blood values. Lance Armstrong, despite all his lofty talk a year ago, did not.

Remember all that stuff about independent testing and transparency? Then he (LA) said it would be too complicated and no one would understand (it was in February of '09, but, sorry, no reference). Well, I might not understand it, but someone will, and they'll discuss it with others that will, and that's what transparency is all about.

While I'm anti-Lancing it up, I better link this as well. Very funny.

I owe The Onion link to the MABRA listserv. Predictably, after the link was posted, a chorus of self-righteous fury arose. "Jokes about cancer aren't funny," they say. Hogwash. When the burden of living has you down as under a ton of bricks, all you have left is humor. Even if dark. Perhaps, espcially, if dark.

Or, there's this posible explaination from another MABRA listserv contributor:

"I suspect that there's a correlation between not finding this amusing and thinking that Armstrong actually returned in the interest of raising awareness about cancer."

Maybe that's it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


An interesting distinction made between the schedules of the "manager" versus the "maker."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

scout camp

Back from a week of scout camp. And not a day too soon. By day five my patience was wearing thin, which had me just as upset with myself for being impatient as with the boys for being, well, boys.


* Scouting is dumb. In my eagle board of review years ago I was asked why I wanted to get my eagle. I responded that I didn't, but that everyone around me told me I'd regret it if I didn't, so I was doing it on faith. I can't speak to the regret, but the only place having it gives me any traction is in scouting circles, and those aren't circles where I'm aching for legitimacy. Anyway, watching boys (and leaders) march around all week in matching brown shirts with badges sewn on all over left me nauseous. "Timeless values?" Sure...if conformity and hierarchy are values you think praiseworthy.

* The woods are awesome. And so here's the irony: scouting, for all it's pomp and Mary Kay motivation is banal and damaging, but w/o scouting I would have spent a lot less time in the woods as a kid, and a lot less time with rope, axes, knives, tents, trees, canoes, and a whole lot of other things that I think are worthwhile. So what we need is a non-paramilitary alternative to scouting. Ideas?

* Scouts are distinctly more nerdy in Pennsyltucky than in western Idaho. I'm confident of this. The difference? PA's low Mormon quotient. Mormons are scouts because they're Mormon (which provides a broader cross section of types and dispositions). PA scouts are scouts because they want to be scouts. I've learned to be wary of scouters (both youth and *especially* leaders) who want to be scouters.

* Speaking of timeless values, how about physical fitness? The current crew on staff at Hidden Valley are about the most doughy bunch I've ever seen. Yikes. And the scoutmasters? It got me wondering if there was some sort of BSA award for high BMI. These boys need to shed the tan polyester, lace up a sturdy pair of shoes, and get to...something...anything! Unbefreakinglievable. (The camp diet didn't help much either. All very high fat, high calorie crap. Another "timeless value?")

* I can't go as long without a shower as I once could. I can't tell you what a tremendous disappointment this is. Forty-eight hours is about the limit. Then finding a shower becomes my number one priority. This is really more for me than out of consideration of others. But if my neighbors find the stench undesirable, perhaps I could make a deal with some of my overweight scouting friends: I'll shower as often as they go for a jog.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

saturday riding

Tried to make it to the Chambersburg Y by 7:30 to meet up with a couple of guys, but woke up to a refrigerator with no milk (how can I get started in the morning without a bowl of cereal?) and after a quick spin to Sheets for that, and eating, and swapping wheels, and kissing sleeping wife, and mixing bottles, and all the rest...I didn't start rolling until a few minutes after seven...and when I got to the Y at 7:45 no one was there.

So, I rode by myself.

The big climb is Route 30 out of Chambersburg, the descent is from that point down to Burnt Cabins past Cowan's Gap State Park.

The climb on 30 was a first for me. I'd shied away from it because Route 30 is such an awful road elsewhere I was afraid to climb it with trucks and boats and campers and all that sort of traffic wizzing past at highway speeds. But I was wrong--there was plenty of traffic, but the road has a shoulder the width of a small house, is relatively free of debris, and for half the climb the ascending traffic has two lanes as well. So no worries. And it was a great climb. Looks like 1700 feet total, which I think is a touch more than Big Flat, with a much steeper and more steady pitch--the later a benefit of climbing on a highway made to US Department of Transportation specs.


Riding 76 miles alone takes a lot more out of you than riding the same distance with others. Obviously being able to sit on a wheel once in a while makes a huge difference, but I think just having company does too. I'm pretty confident that just having someone sit on my wheel would have increased the trip average speed by .5 to 1 mph.

I like riding alone too, of course. But today I had a pretty depressing book loaded on the iPod and it took a bit of the joy out of the ride.


Another thought: I love to race, but I'm not sure if I look forward more to race day Saturdays or long ride Saturdays like today. Without the car travel and all that, the later sure leaves a lot more of the day for other stuff.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the pine grove tt

Rode my third Mark Laser hosted pine grove tt of the year (actually, I think Mark likes to call these the Ironmasters). Having a front derailleur to keep my chain on prevented my having to stop twice like last time, and I posted my fastest time on the course: 23:39.

I feel like it's totally possible to get that time down another 20 or 30 seconds. I need something a little bigger than a 53x12 on the downhill sections. That would buy me several seconds. And of course I could easily buy some time with a deep-dish front wheel. But the biggest thing I think is just to spend a little more time on the tt bike. I only ride it at the races, so I've done little fiddling with my position (I think I can drop the front end another centimeter or two) and I often get weird side aches and pain between my ribs in my back. Eliminate that pain and I think I could go 30 seconds faster. Ride my tt bike more and I'd eliminate that pain.

I don't like to time trial much (the three Ironmasters I've done are the only three tts I've done this year), but I would like to try another 40k. Last year, doing my first, on a bike with an awkward setup, I posted a 57:13. I feel like I should be able to take 2-3 minutes off that easy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

tour of mt. nebo

A photo from last Saturday's race...

...about the only good thing to come from my participation.

For reasons I don't understand (and not given), the promoter didn't offer a 3/4 field at the race, just a 1/2/3 field (thankfully no pros), a decision which I'm sure kept most of the cat 3s far, far away. For me, had the climbs been not quite so extreme (in pitch if not in length), I'm sure I would have been fine to hang on, but it's hard for this old sack of bones to compete with lithe 140 pounders 10 years my junior on 18 percent grades. Or at least that's my excuse.

No. Scratch that. I've no excuse. I just suck more than everyone else that finished in front of me. Also more than those that finished, because I bailed after four laps. (The course was held over an undulating nine miles of Lancaster County rollers for something like 1100 feet of climbing per lap. The 1/2/3s were to do six laps.)

My favorite moment of the day: After being dropped on the big climb midway through the first circuit I chased down the field on my own, with three or four riders in tow. When safe at the back of the field, one of the riders I towed along thanked me for my work, noting that he was too taxed to have been able to take a pull. "No need to thank me. We're all going to be gone on the next climb," I said. We were.


A (non) defense of dropping out after four...

I hate dropping out of races. I feel like such a smuck afterwards. For days. Weeks even. And there was no real reason to drop out anyway. There was no "field" to speak of, just groups of 1-4 riders scattered over the course. I was 18 miles and 2200 ft from finishing and riding nicely with a group of two others. But I hadn't come to Lancaster alone, and I knew Jon, Chop, and Mike had already (or were just about to) finish, and since I wasn't having any fun, I figured it'd be better to pack it in and get a jump on getting home.

But then we had to wait for the cat 4 results to be posted before we could leave (Jon took home $40), and that took way too long. I think we waited two hours. Absurd. And now, six days later, I'm still regretting the decision not to finish. Based on the finishing positions of other riders I was riding with at the time, I think I would have finished around 15th or 16th--that many riders were dropped and/or dropping out--and I believe I may have taken home a little cash. Oh well.


Do you ever find yourself running...just because walking will. just. take. too. long?

Earlier, I was heading to the basement to get a soda. About a 100 ft to the stairwell, down two flights of stairs, then about another 100 ft to the soda machine. I simply couldn't bear to walk. Soooo boooring... So I ran.

I believe I'm becoming increasing eccentric. And my self-consciousness about it is likewise decreasing. I shudder to imagine my grizzled 60 year-old self.


Monday, July 13, 2009

race radios

Since everyone else is (like how I said that like those dudes are my peers?), I thought I'd also weigh in on the race radio issue:

Lance Armstrong:

"I don't agree with it. I think that technology evolves, the bike evolves, the training, the diet, everything evolves… the fabrics that we wear. Look at the cameras, the microphones, the transponders on the bike… all of it has evolved."

Logic inconsistent with the reality of the sport. Like it or not, Lance, you play at a sport where tradition rules the day. And the UCI has a rulebook full of strange rules to protect it. So, while technology does change things, there are countless examples of technological advances that have been rejected to maintain a something of the traditionalism of the sport (wheel size, bike shape, handlebar configuration, etc.). Just because something can be done doesn't make it worth doing.

Bjarne Riis:

"The way I see it, it puts a big risk on to the teams. Our sponsors put a lot of money into this team, and to win the Tour de France."

Uh, sure. But if the radio ban generates interest, and makes the racing more exciting (it may not, but that's the hypothesis, and the reason for the test), then the sponsors are going to be better off, not worse. Even if your guy loses.

Michael Rodgers:

"It’s not such an issue for the more experienced guys in the race, but there are a lot of guys who grew up with radios as juniors, under-23s and professionals, for their entire careers, and they are just robots. If there’s not someone making a decision for them, they don’t know what to do. So I think it’s a good way to stimulate the younger riders."

Yeah, I think so too. Let's make the sport about decision-making as well as fitness. Every rider a tactician. As a fan, I like it.

Matt White:

"I’d rather we banned radios. I don’t mind if we lost radios altogether. We go through the stage everyday in the morning, and what I am telling them on the radio is only what I’ve told them in the morning, just reminding them."

Hmm... Matt sheds some light on the issue. Makes it sound like those that oppose the radio ban are motivated by sheer laziness...not being willing to study out the stage in detail in the morning. Interesting.

Stjin Devolder:

"Nobody has the experience to ride without the radios.... It’s something they did 10 or 15 years ago. Now it’s two stages here at the Tour, and the stages are pretty difficult. I think it will be a different kind of racing. Different results, also. For everybody, and for safety, I think it’s better with the radios. Now it’s pretty easy to know everything from the car and what position the breakaway is and if you have to do it yourself you have no information you will react on situations later than you would react with radio."

Devolder, oddly, has made a powerful argument for banning radios, even while opposing the ban.

Dave Z.:

"For all those people that say it’s a safety issue, I think it creates more of a frenzy in the peloton than anything. If a right-hand turn is coming up, the directors tell 150 guys to get to the front at the same moment. Otherwise we’d just take the right-hand turn and be done with it. I think it will be something to try out."

Open-minded Dave Z. Let's try it out. See how it goes. Re-evaluate. Sounds perfectly reasonable.

Dave Z. also said:

"It would be cool if they eliminated all the cars and spare bikes and we raced with tubes and things like that, but that’s probably another kind of racing."

Perhaps after he retires he'll be taking up mountain bike marathoning? But I like where this is going. Dave seems to understand the irony of bicycle racing being disturbingly consumptive of fuel. And perhaps a bit troubled by it. But, it's how he makes a living... Whaddya gonna do?

Marc Sargeant:

"In my opinion it’s going backwards. We have to go with our (era), and in every sport it’s a habit of coaching to give information to your athletes constantly. If you are taking that away it can even be dangerous. Certainly it’s a new way of thinking and riding for this generation. (Some say radios have made racing less dynamic), but if you are managing a team you want to be active in it."

I find this comment particularly revealing. Marc's opposed because without a radio he doesn't get to play, he doesn't have as active a part. Marc doesn't want to give up power.

My guess is Marc manages several fantasy Tour teams.

Tom Boonen:

"I don’t really have an opinion. I think it’s pretty stupid to even think about it."

Tom, that word you used. "Opinion." It doesn't mean what you think it means.

Johan Bruyneel:

"I don’t think any argument justifies this. We have a lot of arguments to say we want to use the radios every single day, and against that I don’t see any arguments that make any sense."

As I read this I pictured Johan running around in circles with his hands over his ears yelling, "La, la, la, la... I can't hear you. I can't hear you. There are no arguments for the race radio ban. I can't hear you. La, la, la, la..."

Johan is obviously also concerned about giving up power. It seems obvious that radios benefit the favorites, the strong teams. That should be reason enough to give them up.

Alberto Contador:

"I am against taking away the radios, because without them, a fall or a puncture could cause the strongest rider to lose the race."

I was cheering for this dude to win the Astana feud...until now. But this is pure douchebaggery. Want to be assured the strongest athlete wins? Do triathlon. Cycling is a sport, and in sports you've got to be able to win ugly. The underdog always has a chance. And that's what makes it interesting (and occasionally exciting).