Sunday, February 24, 2013

I need a hero

The other day I read an article from an old Bicycling magazine.The article's author wrote of testing with a physiologist, Dr.Inigo San Millan,  who has worked with several pro teams and a few private clients. As the difficulty of the workout increased the subject's blood was tested through small pricks in the ear. And a mask over the nose and mouth broke down oxygen use. With a heart monitor the test was able to give a rider an idea of where he was, physically,  when he thought he couldn't go any further. The author wrote that one rider stood out in all the riders the doctor had worked with.

When the test got really hard, this rider stood up on the pedals, desperate. "Most of the time, that means the guy's done, like in a minute or two," San Millan says. This kid kept going out of the saddle for a full 25 minutes longer. His name was Alberto Contador, and his signature is on a yellow jersey in a frame behind San Millan's desk.
                                                                                                                            Bicycling, August 2012

I've long admired Contador's talent. Watching him dance on the pedals is watching an artist at work. But I've never liked him, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because when I was cheering for a successful comeback for Lance, he stood in the way. Or, when I was pulling for Andy Schleck to fulfill his promise and finally wear yellow in Paris, Alberto seemed to take advantage of a dropped chain to attack Andy on the climb.

But I need a hero, someone to cheer for. I don't know if Andy will threaten to win the Tour de France again. Cadel Evans' run was fun while it lasted. Bradley Wiggins and Sky was a good story, but I don't know if I can get excited about cheering for him. I do know that I'm disappointed with Lance, but I still loved watching him do what he did. Watching him give Jan Ullrich "the look" and take off up the mountain was awesome! Watching Floyd Landis break away on his own in the mountains, epic! Tyler Hamilton breaking his collarbone, and finishing the race, amazing!

I need a hero to cheer for. I don't condone cheating, but I think as flawed human beings, we also need to be able to forgive. Maybe Lance doesn't deserve that, because it didn't seem like he ever apologized. But I need to move on. The near decade of cheering for Lance was important to me. Now I'm hooked, and I want to have someone to cheer for in France, in Italy and Spain. I want to have a favorite in California and Colorado.

Maybe Jonathan Vaughters and his Garmin-Sharp team, trying to prove that you can win clean, deserve my support. Maybe Levi, Davie Z, or Tejay will give me something to cheer about. Or maybe I'll come around to cheering for Alberto Contador, who sure is fun to watch. But whatever way I go, I know this: I need a hero.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

you can't see the wind

This time of the year for cyclists who love summer tours is one of training. Indoors for many of us where the weather makes road riding conditions less than ideal. Accompanying the training is remembering past rides and longing for future adventures.
On the CRMBT forum some of the chatter has been about an already epic day 3 featuring Lookout Mountain, Squaw Pass, and Berthoud Pass, 10,000 feet of climbing over 85 miles. Some think that passing so close to Mt Evans Road is too tempting to not add another 28 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing to the day. Others have done the math and realize that this side trip would mean 100 miles and 14,000 feet of climbing just to get to the top of Berthoud Pass. Assuming I would want to be off of Berthoud by 2:00pm at the latest in hopes of beating the afternoon rains, I would have to leave by...
On Facebook Ride The Rockies is celebrating the 28 days of February by asking riders to share their favorite memories from past tours.  Biking Across Kansas has announced that they've reached their 800    rider limit and have opened their waiting list to fill cancellations. And I've been remembering all the tours I've done, including the Tour de Kota, which is no more. 

This picture was taken on the first day of TdK 2012. The last 20 miles were STRAIGHT south into Beresford. It had been a pleasant morning, and the shot shows a sunny day, on a flat, straight road. What you can't see in the picture is the wind that had come up. It was blowing so hard that it was difficult to take a hand off the bars to get a drink. I had tried to talk my brother-in-law, Paul into joining me for this ride. On this first day, I was glad he had declined. The wind sapped the energy out of you. When I made it to Beresford I dragged my bags to a shady spot, lied down and slept for almost an hour. When I awoke, I set up my tent, drank some Gatorade, showered and shuffled over to the spaghetti dinner before feeling normal again. For a flat, straight road on a sunny day, it was brutal. And it was awesome!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

i'm gonna miss you

I read something a couple weeks ago about the Argus Leader Tour de Kota. It mentioned a two-day cycling event in Sioux Falls, but didn't say anything about a route for a week-long tour. I didn't think a lot about it until I read this on the Biking Bis blog. After 8 years the TdK is no more. Having made the drive up I-29 three times to ride the TdK, and having been my very first week-long, supported bike tour, I feel kind of sad.

I met some neat folks, and experienced the hospitality and pride of a bunch of small towns in South Dakota. Standing in one of those towns on the first day of my first tour, drinking a Gatorade and eating a sweet roll, I watched my brother-in-law walk up to a guy wearing a Ride The Rockies jersey and ask him what that was like. The next August I found myself driving with him to Gunnison, CO to ride the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour.

Over the years I've ridden across Kansas with BAK, ridden a BTC, one of the "big" Colorado tours, and returned to the CRMBT four more times, with another scheduled for 2013. And twice more I rode the Tour de Kota around the eastern half of South Dakota. Colorado is my absolute favorite place to ride, but I have a real affection for the rolling hills of South Dakota.

I don't know if I would have ever gone back to do another TdK. I can't pull myself away from the CRMBT, and I would like to do tours in other states; RAGBRAI, BRAN, OK Freewheel, and another BAK someday. But there's a melancholy in knowing that, for the foreseeable future, the Tour de Kota is a thing of the past.