Friday, September 27, 2013

Knee Warmers, Belgian Style

It's that time of year when I again break out the glasses of enforced sunny optimism.  The mercury is dropping, yet the sun is even more mercurial in making its appearances.  On days like today, I need to keep the legs warmer than I would have to on a summer day, but still want to go sans knickers.  I've found Bag Balm to be an inexpensive and indispensable tool in the box for such occasions.  Yes, that which was originally designed to prevent cows' udders from chapping also makes a fine wind and moisture barrier for the thighs and knees on coolish spring and fall days.

The lanolin based product doesn't really warm the legs from the outside the way more specifically designed embrocations do, but it does form an effective barrier against rain and wind.  This lack of warming, pays dividends; however, as the stuff can also be used as a chamois cream.  It's also very inexpensive compared with some of the artisanal embrocations and creams out there.  The stuff is thick and gooey and stays where it's put, whether that be the legs or undercarriage.  And last but not least, extending the time of year into which I can go on rides bare legged helps keep the tan lines sharp.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Not Cool

Sometimes, even in the relative cycling mecca that is the Pacific Northwest, I still have run ins with folks who don't like to share the road.  Frequently, these people express their dissatisfaction with me being in their way by buzzing me, that is, passing me at a distance that is way too close for comfort.  Most of the time, I'm able to just let this sort of behavior roll off my back like water off the proverbial duck. Last night; however, on NW 65th St, some guy who still thought that it was cool to: 1.) buzz me not once, but twice, by passing by me within a foot and 2.) drive a Hummer, received the gift of my spittle/loogie on his passenger side window.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Seattle Meet the Teams Rides

Here's the link for the Meet the Teams of Seattle rides this year.  I always find out about this halfway through the schedule, and although I may or may not be interested in joining a team, it's a good opportunity to get in a free group ride.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


When the mind is free of worries, the legs can do their best work.

One of the best strategies for removing worry from my rides is preparation.  Over the years, going for ride after ride, one develops a rhythm and cadence not only while on the bike, but to the other activities that support riding frequently.  The Brita filter is refilled every couple days; laundry is washed on days bounded by a ratio between the number of bibs owned and the frequency of rides; the steed is cleaned and lubed.

In the words of legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Prior to each ride, the bike is gone over, ensuring tyres are at the desired pressure, brakes are operational and don't rub, and bidons are filled.  If I'm going on a longer ride, one bidon will often be supplemented with a protein/carb mix, and this will always be placed in the seat tube cage.  I won't have to concern myself during the ride with where my calories are - when I reach for them, they will be there.

Occasionally, despite the best preparations, a flat or other mechanical will be suffered, but if one brings the right stuff, one needn't worry about anything other than having to change a tyre for 5 minutes.  I've distilled what I carry down to:  a pair of tyre levers, spare tube, patch kit, pump, multitool, and a ziplock bag into which I put my cell phone, a spare, expired ID (that still shows who I am and the correct address to bring my lifeless body home to, should it come to that), and one single key to get me back into my garage.  I used to add my wallet and full set of keys, but that extra weight just slows me down.

Similarly, when weather conditions may be inclement, it's good to pack arm and leg warmers and a rain shell into the jersey pockets.  These are always to be rolled up starting at the bottom, so when I grab them out of a back pocket during a ride, I can hold onto the end, unroll them, and know that the part I'm grabbing is the top of the arm warmer or the collar of the jacket.  I don't have to worry about sorting out how to put it on mid ride.

Together, these details evolve into a ritual series of preparation that function to remove doubt and worry from the ride.  They are, over the years, distilled down to cover only what is needed, leaving everything superfluous behind.

Friday, September 20, 2013


LeMond cycles has announced it's relaunching the brand, with Time providing the manufacturing.  I found this picture of the frame at InterBike on LeMond's FaceBook page.

The paint on the '86 recalls the yellow and combined jerseys in a way that, like LeMond himself, is classy.

Each of the three frames is numbered according to the year Greg won the Tour de France.  This one is the '86, commemorating both his GC win as well as his triumph in the now defunct Combined Category.

LeMond's place in cycling history has been up and down over the years, with many in the cycling community thinking he was a bit of a whiner while Lance was winning his tours having been subsequently forced to eat crow as his revelations have come out.  The mid to late eighties happened to coincide with my mid to late teens, a time when I was discovering myself and bike racing.  The epic battles between LeMond, Hinault, and Fignon on the mythic cols and Parisian avenues of France inspired me, a skinny climber kid, to suffer in the humid Florida heat on roads without hills.  

That LeMond is now regarded in most circles as the only American winner of the Tour will hopefully be mirrored by the resurrection of this brand as a going concern.  It was unfortunate that his relationship with Trek was sullied by the Armstrong camp to the point that the LeMond brand was basically run into the ground.

And perhaps we'll even see an updated Poprad.  One of the ways LeMond's Americanness affected bike racing was that he didn't limit himself to traditional ways of doing things, equipment and training wise.