Archive for March, 2008

I know just about every one of you has been there, done that. I think that’s why I get such a chuckle out of it.

James Newman is a local racer. He’s been pretty fast in past years but ran into a spot of bad luck a couple of years ago. He broke his hip in a cycling accident and spent over a year in rehabilitation. He raced cross this past season and soldiered through pain that lingered from the broken hip. This spring he sounded excited to get back on the bike and ride fast. I just found out that James got caught up in a pileup on a team ride yesterday and broke his femur and elbow. Now he’s going to be in for another long road of rehabilitation. I’m wishing him a fast recovery and hope that he can keep his spirits.

Get well soon Newmie.

sven3852036992.jpgThere’s a piece on cyclingnews.com that says Sven Nys is looking at options beyond Rabobank for next season. The other two teams his manager is in negotiations with are Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner and Sunweb ProJob. I’m not too familiar with Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner but see that they are associated with Credit Agricole. I don’t recall seeing any of their guys at the head of races I watched this year so obviously picking up Nys would be a big deal. On Friday there were reports that Nys had signed with them — reports that were quickly quashed by both sides.

I do know something about Subweb ProJob. They are Jonathan Page’s former team with the whacko manager, Jurgen Mettepenningen. He’s the guy that berated Page for the less than stellar early season results and then tried to micromanage Page’s season. Finally, they negotiated a shortened contract and even then Mettepenningen couldn’t keep his part of the bargain and keep his mouth shut. Oh, and add to that the Vanoppen sacking and I wonder why anyone would want to be a part of that team.

Sven Nys is clearly a step above Page or any of the other guys on the Sunweb team and he’s going to bring home lots of great results. Maybe Sven is big enough that Mettepenningen will just kiss his ass and be happy doing it. There was some talk about Sven competing in some of the spring classics on the road in the future. It seems reasonable that Nys might want to sign with a team with a road squad that could support him in road races or at least leave him free to pursue an off-season contract with a road team.

I have a hard time believing that this is all about money. Sven makes a lot and he gets even more from outside sources like other endorsements and his clothing line. Maybe Rabo is trying to make room for the future? Maybe there’s not enough room in Rabo with Lars Boom coming on?

Okay, it’s not really broken, just dented. I managed to put a big nasty dent in the down tube of my Waterford R-14 road bike. There’s also a smaller dent in the top tube from handlebar strike. I really like that bike. It fits me well, rides nice, and is as responsive as I could want it to be. I’ve had it out on the road once since I put the dent in the tube and I think the handling is different. I didn’t whack it hard enough to change the alignment but I think the dent has affected the stiffness and responsiveness of the front end.
Or maybe I’m just imaginging things since I’m so bummed about the honkin’ big dent.

Waterford has a crash replacement program so I could get a new frame for $850. I investigated just getting the tubes replaced and having it repainted. Richard Schwinn said that the crash replacement would be cheaper. So now I have to figure out what to do. $850 can buy a lot of frame on the market. I’ve ridden a few road bikes in my time and so far the Waterford has been my favorite.

I know where I can get a good deal on a Trek 5500 in my size.

I just don’t know what to do about this right now. But I know I want a road bike for the coming summer months.

I’ve owned a few cars in my life and each one of them has hauled a bicycle. I used an inexpensive trunk rack on my first car. My next car was a truck with a cap on the back so I eschewed a rack altogether. My next car was an Outback. I sprang for the full Yakima rack with a fairing and steelheads. I eventually sold the Subi and my wife and I used her Saturn. I got some Q towers for the Saturn and used the Yak rack on that car until our family grew and we sold the Saturn and bought an Odyssey. With the minivan, I didn’t need to use a rack anymore. There was plenty of room in the back for bikes and it would have been inconvenient to get the bikes off the taller roof anyway. I sold the Q towers I had used on the Saturn.

For the past four years, I’ve been commuting by bike and when I’ve needed to travel to races with my bikes, I’d just throw them into the back of the minivan. My daughter has just started school (long story as to why it’s now, late in the school year) and my wife and I have to trade off carting her to and from school. Her school is too far to make it reasonable for me to use a bike for any leg of the trip so I bought a car. It’s a ’97 Accord with a lot of miles and it needed a bike rack.

I already had cross bars and one fully functional steelhead from my previous rack configurations. I checked out the prices on Q towers and clips but balked at the $250 price tag. Instead, I sent out a message on the OBRA email list asking if anyone had some towers taking up space in their garage. Mark in Eugene hooked me up with a set of old, well used towers for $10 plus shipping — lock cores and key included! He also threw in the clips even though they wouldn’t work on my car.

Next, I headed down to Rack Attack in Portland. I traded in the clips for a used pair of clips for the rear and a used set of feet (I needed different foot pads). They didn’t have a used set of clips for the front so I bought a new pair. The guy who helped me warned me that on older Hondas, it was really important to set up the rack to the exact recommended measurements.

At home, I only had a bit of a glitch when, on one of the towers, the hex receptacle used to firmly affix the tower to the cross bar was completely stripped. With some finagling, I was able to tighten it enough to grip firmly when the rack was locked in place. So my total cost? $18 for the towers plus $30 for the clips. Actually, I paid Mark $25 since I was so pleased with everything and felt like I ought to throw in a few extra bucks so he could buy some coffee drinks. So for $55, I have a fully functional Yakima rack.

Pretty sweet.

I got my ’08 Worlds DVD from ProCyclocross.com last week and I managed to watch the men’s race over the weekend. Before I talk about the race itself, I want to say something about the DVDs. I got all three — 1) full men’s race with Dutch commentary, 2) the abbreviated men’s race with English commentary along with the women’s race, and 3) the juniors and U23 races. I’m particular about what I watch. I want to see the whole race so I have to get the Dutch version since the English version cuts out a couple of laps. I also want to see the women’s race so I have to get the English version. And the U23 and juniors races can be entertaining too. The U23s showcase the up and coming talent (though this year’s winner, Niels Albert, has already up and come) and the juniors are a good indicator what mere mortals might expect to do on the course.

A web version of ’08 Worlds has been out on Nathan Spear’s site since the Monday following the race. I loved watching that video but I find the DVD indispensable. The larger picture allows me to see more detail of the racers and the course. I also have a hard time watching web video while I’m riding the rollers — one of the prime uses of my cross DVDs.

So what about the race? I really enjoyed watching it. I’ve heard the complaints that the course was too easy and that it would have been much better had there been some weather. It’s undeniable that some riders improve (or aren’t intimidated) when the weather turns rough. Still, the strongest racer won. And the first four riders who crossed the line were certainly worthy of their placings (though I have a bone to pick with Stybar). Some people have griped that they might just as well have been watching a crit. Sure, there were 20 to 25 riders near the front for much of the race. Perhaps that criticism comes from watching the race on the small screen. The front was a changing cast of characters as many individuals tried to shatter the pack. Many times it looked like some individual or small bunch might get away but each time they were thwarted — primarily by their own lack of will.

There were a number of interesting stories that made up the whole of the race but I’ll only touch on a coupe of them:

Lars Boom: Lars was the man. He set the pace early then waited patiently near the front until he sprang free on the final lap. Prior to his attack, he waited out several credible challenges. His patience payed off on the final lap when Groenendaal set him up with a classic attack/counter move. Richard stuck with the lead bunch all race, sometimes back with the caboose when the attacks strung out the bunch. But when that loose group came together at the beginning of the final lap, he sprang his attack. As soon as he got brought back, Lars was off on the winning move. It’s was great to see the old man as a factor in the race.

Erwin Vervecken: Once Boom went on the bell lap, Vervecken was the only one with the will to chase. He gave it his all to defend the Rainbow jersey, chasing as well as he could. Stybar and Nys sat on for the ride, racing for second. I was greatly disappointed to see Erwin cross in fourth, just outside a medal. He deserved much better.

Zdenek Stybar:  Dude sat on all race. Dude raced for second riding Vervecken’s coat tails. Dude needed to show a little panache. At least Simunek tried with his escape on the penultimate lap.

Tim Johnson: Timmy didn’t get a lot of camera time since he was just off the back of the big lead group. He rode much of the race with a much smaller group ten or so seconds behind the strung out lead bunch. However, with a couple to go, you see Timmy all by himself only a few seconds shy of joining the back of the leaders. He kept racing until the end and I know he’s one of the guys that would have moved up quite a bit if the weather had turned crappy.

Sven Nys: One of the main stories leading up to the big race was Nys’ fitness. He was off his game and everyone was writing him off. It turned out that Sven showed up to race. He animated the race with some attacks throughout and still had enough in the tank to go with Vervecken at the end. I feel certain that Sven wasn’t on his A game and that if he were, the final lap might have shaped up to be a little more exciting than it already was.

There’s lots more to the race that I haven’t touched on. The fact that so many of the top guys hung on until the end meant that it was much easier to follow a bunch of stories through the race. Typically, on a televised race, you get to see a lot of the leader(s) and a fair amount of the chasers. With ’08 worlds, you got to see the little races between 25 of the top guys. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.