Wednesday, March 31, 2010

from an interview with neo-pro Peter Stetina

VN: Everything is ahead of your now – what’s been the biggest surprise so far?

PS: The descents. The other day in training, I was just surfing this descent, leaning into the curves, just cruising along. Christian (Vande Velde) just comes blowing by me like a cannonball. I hopped on his wheel and I was half-chattering my wheel around some corners and was gritting my teeth to get down it.

At the bottom, I said, “dude, you flew down that thing!”

He said, “no man, I am not a good descender. I am one of the bad ones in the Tour.”

I said, whoa, I am screwed! It’s the downhills. I just have to get so good in the climbing that I don’t have to worry about the downhills (laughs). I thought I was pretty good on the descents. I hear stories, that Cancellara is unbelievable. Hopefully, I will get to witness that. You have to put that fear out of your mind, get on their wheel and maybe you will learn something.

From VeloNews. Read the whole interview here.

For me, I let my mind wander to the what-ifs. What if I break a spoke? What if I puncture? What if my tire comes unglued? What if a car, coming up, is passing around a corner?

"You have to put that fear out of your mind..." Yup.

Friday, March 26, 2010

a comment or two on health care (I can't resist)

Perhaps you, like me, have been hearing for the past several weeks (months?) the loudest Republican talking-point--American's don't want Obamacare; how can Democrats pass a law that the majority of Americans don't want--and wondering what data there is to support that claim.

There are a lot of polls--a lot of polls--but I came across some data from certainly one of the most respected polling outlets, and thought I'd share.

Here's the numbers. First, prior to last weekend's vote:

Ok, certainly more would advise their congressman to vote against the bill. However, one notices two things, (1) it's not a majority and (2) amongst those that would advise against there are no doubt a good many that didn't think what was on the table (something like what was signed into law a few days ago) didn't go far enough, they want something more comprehensive, perhaps something more like universal health care, or a system that doesn't rely on the private sector to control the means of providing health insurance to all but those who qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Those folks would also advise their congressman to vote against the bill. Without that teased out, it's impossible to know how many actually oppose a progressive health care reform bill, but it's safe to say, based on this poll, that it's something below 48 percent of Americans. Probably way below.

So, it would seem, the Republican claim that most Americans don't want Obamacare seems to have been just plain wrong, at least prior to the vote.

But how do Americans feel about change now that a bill has been passed?

Perhaps a more telling story.

Split by party affiliation, for sure, but among the totality of adults, the 49 percent thinking it's a good thing is an awful lot more than the 40 percent thinking its a bad thing.

And then there's this...

...which is, I think, a little more difficult to interpret. Forty percent of adults are "enthusiastic" or "pleased" with the bill. Forty-two percent "disappointed" or "angry."

At first blush it would appear that American's aren't overwhelmingly excited about the bill. And that's a reasonable conclusion. However, it's harder to conclude why they aren't excited.

For instance, I'm pleased that something finally made it through, and I think where we will be once everything shakes out is better than where we are right now, but I can't help but be disappointed too. Disappointed that a large majority of Americans don't think universal health care, or something close to it, a just and obvious good. That's exceptionally disappointing. I'm also disappointed it took so long. And I'm disappointed that it's caused such anger and partisan division. Frankly, I can hardly believe it's such a hot-button issue. I'm also disappointed with the limitations of the bill. As with Dennis Kucinich and others, I don't think the current bill goes near far enough. It may be that the current bill will serve as a stepping stone to more sweeping, more paradigmatic change in the American health care system sometime in the future, but it may also be that the initiative is lost, inertia towards change evaporated. Time will tell, of course, but I fear the later. So, in that sense I'm also disappointed.


Broke a chain today. On the mtb. Riding up the steep stuff. Snap! I wasn't even shifting.

It actually broke in two places, which is weird. Oh well...

tomorrow's ride

The ride tomorrow:

Looks like a group of four committed so far. Everyone is welcome.

Around 70 miles. Four significant climbs. Meet at the goat farm at 9:00 am, Saturday. (Email me if you need directions.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I rode in the rain yesterday. I hadn't done that for a while.

When I woke up, and noticed the soggy weather, I wasn't going to. But later, thinking things had cleared up, I headed out on the TT bike for a quick hour's workout. It started raining. Hard.

But there's a special pleasure to riding in the rain that I'm only reminded of when I'm actually doing it. Like most cyclists, I think, I'll go well out of my way to avoid it. But why? You put on an extra layer, just deal with being wet, and it's really not that big a thing. (So long as it's not too cold...and you're not out too long.)

I think it worthwhile to re-post this passage from The Rider*:

In 1919, Brussels-Amiens was won by a rider who rode the last forty kilometers with a flat tire. Talk about suffering! He arrived at 11:30 at night, with a ninety-minute lead on the only other two riders who finished the race. That day had been like night, trees had whipped back and forth, farmers were blown back into their barns, there were hailstones, bomb craters from the war, crossroads where the gendarmes had run away and riders had to climb onto one another's shoulders to wipe clean the muddied road signs.

Oh, to have been a rider then. Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature's payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses: people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. 'Good for you.' Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms she rewards passionately.

That's why there are riders.

Suffering you need: literature is baloney.

Woolly mice indeed!

Speaking of suffering, there hasn't been near enough in my riding lately. Probably Iron Cross is the last of something approaching anything worthy of that moniker. I've been considering the six-hour at French Creek, though. Saturday, May 8. If it turns out anything like the last six-hour I did, that should cure me of the want for suffering for a while. Plus Audrey turns 12 the day before. I'll need a good long hard ride to come to terms with that reality. Hopefully it rains.

* I read this a little over a year ago and still think about it all the time. A short book. Brilliantly written. I can't believe it took me so long to discover it. I can't believe no one told me about. Every cyclist should read it. It should come with your first bicycle, or when you buy your first racing license. It's prose should be quoted naturally and without effort on every weekend group ride the world over. It's that important. And besides The Yellow Jersey, the only meaningful cycling-related fiction of which I'm aware.


I listed two items on eBay last week. I think of myself as a veteran eBayer, but this is the first time I've listed anything for sale. The first auction ended last night. I got more than I hoped (for a lightly used SRAM Force front derailleur). The second ends tomorrow (for a lightly used SRAM Red PowerDome cassette, 11-23). Let's hope I get the same result.

I've lots of other stuff to list:

-- A pair of SRAM Force brake calipers.
-- A set of SRAM TT bar-end shifters.
-- A set of TT brake levers. (Though I can't decide if I want to keep the old, scared, perfectly functional aluminum numbers I'm currently using, or the fancy-pants SRAM carbon numbers I picked up together with a bundle of other stuff I bought a while ago. I clearly don't need both.)
-- A new, completely unused Specialized S-Works crankset, 170mm crankarms, compact gearing (50-34T) with BB30 bearing cups. (I don't even want to explain how I came to own this.)
-- A one year-old, red, 3T Funda fork (this is the fork that comes on all the Cervelos) with its steerer tube cut short--it would fit a 48 or 51 cm Cervelo, or any other smaller frame that takes a 1 1/8" steerer. (This is a nice fork. Strong, light, super aero. They retail for almost $400.)
-- And then I have a really nice frame to sell too. But I don't want to advertise that just yet.

Wow. Written out like that it seems like a lot of shmiz. I've become a regular broker. How did that happen?


Raced on Saturday. The Philly Phlyer. As I wrote last year, I love that course. Well suited for my strengths. Great weather (70s) and a really large field (maybe 70-80 riders).

This year, at the end of the third lap, there was a small group (2-3?) off the front and a small, three-rider chase group ten seconds or so in front of the pack. On the lap-finishing hill I bridged to the chase group, tried to motivate them, but by the time we made it back to River Drive we were altogether again, except for the two or three riders still off the front.

Fast forward to the end of the fourth and final lap. I dumped out all that I had on the incline prior to the round-a-bout and finishing straight, but four riders pulled around me just before the turn, and another few made it around me in the sprint. I finished ninth.

I knew my chances at a top five finish were dependent on making it to the round-a-bout first. I just didn't have quite enough.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A TV commercial. I can't even remember the product. A phone, maybe? Anyway...there's a TV anchorman sitting at his table, with an open phone. He says something like this...

This just in on Twitter and Facebook. A local bachelor, aged forty-one, has just enrolled in karate.

...or something like that.

So funny. Because, one, Twitter is lame. Two, knowing that Twitter is lame I still have an account. (Don't we all?) Three, the sort of narcissistic self-focused non-messages that dominate Twitter are no different than the narcissistic self-focused non-updates on Facebook and, for that matter, this and a bazillion other personal blogs.

So it's making fun of the thing it's advertising--the means of publishing and reading inane, unimportant, personal goings-on. It's sort of how I feel about professional football. Can't find anything worthy, moral, uplifting, or otherwise praiseworthy in it. At all. Yet I can't stop watching it.

And so in that spirit I offer the following:

I was just at my favorite Shippensburg eatery enjoying a Belgian waffle and homefries. On the radio, an 80s set which included Styx's "Mr. Robato" and Bananarama's "Cruel Summer."

I'll admit, I did a little swaying in my seat to "Cruel Summer."

It was a delightful meal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Back from a long conference weekend in NYC. A few thoughts from my fourth trip trekking around the city.

(1) Why are all the advertisements with stock art on the subways of white men and women of northern European descent when only a small percentage of the folks riding the subway are white men and women of northern European descent?

(2) To walk around in south Central Park you need either (a) a baby in a stroller, (b) a dog, on or off a leash, preferably with some cutesy collar or something or other (you can tell the schleps are just waiting for you to stop and complement their canine--dumb), or (c) to be holding someone's hand. To hang out in north Central Park you have to be running. And if you're running around the reservoir, watch out--it's like a stock car track for folks with runners on.

(3) Midtown smells bad and I don't like it there. Times Square is just creepy. The Upper East Side, however, is a place I could live.

(4) Finally, I'm struck by the contrast of the mega-diversity of the city with the utter lack of diversity just an hour west on I-78. Why don't all the folks melting in the pot of Gotham ooze out into the surrounding...wherever?


Having to spend the weekend in NYC allowed for another shot at the Central Park early morning race. I love it. The city is just barely coming to life and we're throwing punches on the six-mile loop round the park. And the view is just fabulous. I love looking up over the trees and seeing the varied and excellent architecture of all the (I'm sure) high rent residences surrounding the park. Fun, fun.

The last time I raced the park (which was also the first time) was three years ago. On that day I pulled off a lap-long solo-break (chase) to finish fourth, a couple of minutes behind a three-man break and just seconds in front of the closing horde.

This time I wasn't so fortunate. Us non-sprinters have the race-long burden of trying to get something going. It takes a lot of energy. So the day was full of initiating and bridging to ill-fated breakaways. The best shot came with about two miles to go. A lone wolf blasted off the front. I bridged. He gave up. I stayed off the front until about 0.75 miles to go. But then I got swarmed. And then it was over.

But it was a good time.

I love racing bicycles.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ok go

So, am I the last to encounter this bit of awesomeness?

(Facebookers, yer gonna have to visit the blog to see the vid.)

And then there's this too (embedding disabled, for reasons that are not clear).


Ok Go is cool.


This might sound all elitist or hateful, but I promise that's not my intention. It's just that when your belly sags to your top tube, all your bragging about the "hard-core ripping" you do on your mountain bike just doesn't really work. I mean, I love that you love to ride. Nothing makes my heart sing like seeing people who most need a little exercise doing it, but come on, who do you think you're fooling? You're not beating my 11 year-old daughter to the end of the block, much less "ripping" the singletrack around here. Except down. (I'll give the benefit of the doubt when you're traveling the same direction as gravity's pulling.)


Spring break training camp next week. Shippensburg style. I've four days of 3-5 hour rides planned. Who's in?