Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Motors

In 2004 I had a condo in Boulder county, and my downstairs neighbor was some kind of pro roadie, or retired pro roadie, or ex semi pro, or whatever retired-ex-half-neo-pro status half of the cyclists in Boulder claim, but he was pretty unique in that he was combative and accusational about the status of doping in pro cycling.  At the time, it came across as just jealousy - that he was the odd man out and hadn't quite made it.  But over time, much of what he said then has turned out to be true.  In particular, he swore up and down that Armstrong, Hincapie, Hesjedal, and others were doped.  None of that was public at the time.  But as it turned out, he was right.

What in the name of fuck is that on your face?
Poignantly, he also said he knew for a fact that racers were using motors on their bikes.  Again, this was in like 2004.  and at that time this sounded like crazy talk - just a jaded ex-pro that didn't quite make the cut.  The reality, it would seem, is anything but.

The UCI's recent report and crackdown on doping, and in particular motorized doping, takes me back to 2004 when this guy was ranting and raving on the sidewalk in front of our condos about the whole fraud of the thing.  Funny that in the same conversation, he named Hesjedal as a doper.  Which, of course, he was.

In September of last year, that's just 8 months ago, the whole Hesjedal motorized doping thing came to light at the Vuelta (or half light I guess you might say) - and, once again, it looked like Hesjedal was going to finally go down in flames as a cheater.  For whatever reason, that didn't pan out.  And I'm not going to use this blog as a place to debate the conspiracy theory or the physics of motorized doping, nor do I wish to beat the mostly dead horse that is Ryder Hesjedal, but I will link you to the footage and the discussion on the matter and - you know - make your own conclusions.

I'm only about half-interested in whether Hesjedal was using a motor in his bike that day.  I mean, if it's true then I'd like to know that he did it and see him booted for good.  Again, the UCI's recent report is pretty telling, and I don't think they'd be memorializing their policy for banning riders and fining teams for motorized doping unless it was actually a problem.  What I'm more interested in is that, in September 2014, people were really surprised and sort of in disbelief that motors might exist in the pro peloton; but no one was surprised in the least that Hesjedal might be cheating.  No, indeed, if there was one guy who would be doing it - it was Hesjedal.

And yet, here we are 8 months later, the Giro D'Italia is kicking off, Hesjedal's integrity is now only more questionable with the recent legitimization of motorized doping, and Hesjedal is not only in the race - but he's the stated and protected team leader for our U.S. team, Cannondale.  I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and justice will have been served, but no, there he is.  Again, I have no idea if there was actually a motor in his bike or not - but given his dubious history and complete disconnect from reality, it's just hard to wrap ones mind around continuing to let this guy be the face of your team.  Velonews runs about an article per week on Ryder, his commentary on the Giro and the status of the race, etc.  That's normal - he's the team leader - if media coverage is what you provide, then talk to him you must.  But, Jesus, it's just not that plausible.  Why does anyone care what the fuck Ryder has to say?  Give me Joe D. or Ben King or any of the up and comers on the team that are grinding it out, every day, trying to make it clean - and I'll read, and support, and watch the race, and root my ass off - and more important to the future of the sport, I'll buy it.  But Hesjedal, motorized doping or not, is a part of the past that pro cycling would be better off forgetting, because no one is buying that shit any more.

And for certain, no one is buying those sunglasses.
I think an interesting nuance of motorized doping vs normal blood doping is what the effect will be when a rider is finally caught doing it.  With blood doping, the team - and certainly the team sponsors - can cry foul right alongside the rest of the public, and say they had nothing to do with it, and admonish the rider as the sole perpetrator in the destruction of the sport and blah blah blah.  Fuck that guy.  It's HIS blood, after all.  But in motorized doping - where that motor will be seen as a cheating component of the bike itself - the brand name on the bike will suffer.  Not that Cannonade will have actually had anything to do with it - no indeed, I imagine you can install your own motor in the same sort of way you might install a dropper post (though with better cable routing, I presume.)  But impressions will be impressions, and most people won't want to buy a road bike that - when they show up at their local group ride - their buddies give them shit about the motor.  And in a sport that is now largely supported by the major bike brands themselves (Trek Factory Racing, Cannondale-Garmin, Specialized's enormous investment in multiple teams, etc) - it will be the death knell of the sport as a professional endeavor when even the bike brands most invested in the success of it can't save face.

In a timely way, the iniquities of the Patriots and Tom Brady make for a great parallel to all of this.  4 games and $1million, plus they lose some draft picks.  That's a pretty stern punishment, as far as the NFL goes, and it's worth noting I suppose that the Pats are repeat offenders in a very familiar marginal-gains kind of way.  I mean, shit, it's just a little air in the football, right?  How much difference could that really make?  They BLEW OUT the Colts, 45 - 7.  Similarly, that's part of the argument against the existence of motors in cycling's pro ranks - that it would be tough to hide something that really only produces a tiny gain in performance, so why do it?  But, as we've seen in Team Sky's gigantic, motorized, marginal gains Richie Porte Mobile, every little bit counts.  I don't think a motor in a hub that could produce an extra 5 watts for 30 seconds when it counts is insignificant, and if you think pros aren't willing to cheat to get it then review the history of sports in general.

It's like watching a UFO sighting captured on shaky home video.  It's hard to tell, right?  Science and experts discredit the thing outright.


But you know what you saw.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The W's


Qwadsworth: winning races faster than I can create hastily photoshopped memes of him winning races.  So, too, it might be said for local roadie superstar turned calf model, Will Leet.  And let me tell you - I put minimal time and effort into those memes - so this is really saying something about the speed with which these dudes are racking up the W's.


Tertiary side note: I hereby copyright the band name "The W's."
Can I do that?  As a frame of reference for your legal guidance, I have no musical talent whatsoever.  So maybe I can just buy it, sit on it like I'm some kind of domain name investor, and wait until a great band comes along and says, "hey, we'd like to buy that name from you because, fuck you, that's our name."

www.thews.com

You'll have to talk to Thews sheet metal in Pendleton, Oregon, whoever you are.

Do I actually have any bike-relevant content to share this week?  I'm sort of losing track.  I've been riding a lot, so that's worth mention I guess.  In an effort to, once per year, take Keenan on a night ride through the fringe where he would have been better served with a snorkel than a bike, I did that again.  It's amazing what 1 inch of rain from a thunderstorm looks like when it's actually on the ground.  I'm talking, like, 5 feet of water or whatever, trees floating down the river and what not.  Full moon socked away behind the cumulonimbus, nowhere to be found.  Maybe next time.

Also, I've been training.  Some of that is just via our local standard of physical fitness assessment and self-loathing, Tuesday Night Worlds.  Other parts or my elite training regimen require more weighted resistance, some of which I acquired as a birthday present that I couldn't be more excited about unless it had rocket propulsion (which it sort of does.)

But generally speaking, I've been riding, and on the tedious pendulum of streaky dad fitness, I'm as far in the fit direction as I have been in quite some time.  Plus, I've got a posse of thugs to back me up.
The nature of mutability, entropy, and dad fitness being what they are, it's all downhill from here.  And not the good kind downhill.

At any moment, I'll have the flu, or a work travel road show, or a blown back, or baseball to coach, or (insert dad responsibility here) and I'll go back to zero, just like we all do, because that's the very nature of our come-and-go inadequacy: The W's don't just stick around.

To always resume the process from the ground up up up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tennessteep

"I don't know where I can go
to let these ghosts out of my skull."  
- Speech

Friday, April 24, 2015

Plus Sized

The whole 29+ thing is officially off the ground, and very quickly, almost without warning (except for those of you that have been reading my shit and hearing me predict that this is the next big thing for years now) it's the big thing, way up in the sky.  Good for us.

The front window of BRC right now has no fewer than 4 of these things.  Trek Stache.  Surly Krampus.  Others.  Not fat bikes, mind you, no indeed.  These are 29+ bikes, the primary physical difference being 3 inch tires, not 4 or 5 inch tires, and a geometry more aligned for the jibber kids to get rowdy with vs. the old, crusty fatbike crowd that seems content to ride on icebergs or whatever.

I'm all for this.  There are a lot of reasons that this is happening, most of them have a lot to do with the simple reality that 29plussers (I just made that up.  Copyright pending) can outperform your average 2.3 inch tire in very much the same way that your 29er tire can outperform a 26er, or a 2.3 inch 26er tire was better than a 2.0 inch tire, and so on and so forth.  It's a simple process of growth, in a lot of ways, and with the advent boost bottom bracket and hub systems, the overall acceptance of 1X drivetrains, the mold-ability of carbon, etc, have all swung into motion at the same time and in the same way that puberty changes a young man quickly, drastically, and for the bigger.  And yeah, things are just bigger now.  Good for us.

You can read more about all of the reasons this is happening from official media outlets:
http://www.bikemag.com/gear/mean-27-plus-29-plus-bikes/
http://www.bikerumor.com/2015/03/08/nahbs-2015-quiring-boosts-29-mountain-bikes-beyond-148-w-clever-parts-use/
http://www.bikerumor.com/2015/03/19/nahbs-2015-cycle-monkeys-29-black-sheep-gates-belt-drive-kish-cysco-cycles/

Here's my prediction, even if you didn't ask for it: In 5 years, everyone but XC racers will be riding at least 3 inch tires.
It will actually be a really divisive thing, sort of the same way that roadies and mountain bikers differ today. Racers will still have their own technology built for speed, but 85% of the rest of the mtb market will be just 29plus riders - and with very little overlap.  Today, you can sort of go out and race your average trailbike and not be terribly disadvantaged.  But 29plussers, though enormously fun on trail, won't be fast in the way a race bike needs to be, and the idea of racing one will be pretty much laughable.  So people won't do it, and people with one bike will have a 29plus, and they'll face a pretty enormous barrier to entry when it comes to racing which doesn't really exist today, and they won't overcome it, and they won't care, and good for them.

Roll over your average rootball wedge in a section of single track on a 26er with a 1.9.  Then try it on a 2.3.  Then try it on a 29er.  Then try it on a 29plus.  The evolution is actually pretty obvious.

There's also something to be said for those of us who will make this jump in order to go rigid, leaving suspension behind for good, and probably gears as well.  Nothing before now has really been so conducive to rigid single speeding as a 3.0 which has just enough cush and loads of traction not the steep stuff.  That Trek Stache can be set up single.  So can the original 29plus, the Krampus.  So I think you'll see more of that - people taking advantage of the opportunity to abandon those shifty and movey bits that never seem to work right since the ramifications of that are now not so bonejarring and difficult.  And again, good for them.

But also, and here's my only actual unique point that you couldn't read elsewhere sooner and better:
It's also about your penis.

Don't act like it's not.
This is a simple, male-dominated sport and the rationale of size matters is not unique or missing for us any more than it doesn't apply to monster trucks, or burritos, or the NFL.
And again, good for us.

Keep growing.
Up, up, up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

AJ Linnell

AJ Linnell, gone far too soon.

I still can't figure out what it is I want to say about AJ.  I didn't know him personally.  What I did know about him came from snippets of conversation with Qwadsworth, online interviews, and reading his blog.  So it's a little difficult to know what to write about a person who - though you share a community of like-minded, unique, awesome people - you've never actually met.

I went back this morning and read some more of his blog, and watched his interviews on dirtwire, and generally felt terrible about the loss of a guy who, though I never got the chance to meet, I have some sense of his person that is, admittedly, impossible for me to actually have.  So there it is:  despite having no actual bond with the guy, I feel one anyway.

I believe today in a generation of relentless, connected people that this is one measure of a great person: that you will be remembered and cherished by people who you didn't even know long after you're gone.

Words can do that.  And AJ is more than capable of speaking for himself, so I guess I'll trail off now, go ride my singlespeed for a couple of hours, and let him:

http://ajplayingwithgravity.blogspot.com/2015/03/each-day-new-adventure.html

Up, up, up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No Peace, Los Angeles


For fear of beginning to sound like a Mike Doughty fanblogger (which I am) I'll allow that one to speak for itself and instead just dive into the heart of the matter:

I'm in  L.A. for a stretch this week, THE COAST, brah, consuming water, wearing organic sandals, sneering, yelling into my bluetooth earpiece, and generally contributing my fair share to the greatest drought of water and reality that the modern generation has ever encountered.

But I'll be back, Thursday eve, likely quite parched, and ready for a fast, loose tour of the northside fringe in the pouring rain, departing from the Rancho Relaxo no earlier than 9 PM (because I'm west coast, brah.)

Up, up, and out.