Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page
Cascade is compiling a list of Bike Month events, here‘s the early release. Bike to Work Day on May 15th should be a barnburner this year!
Bicycle Retailer: If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, then Bike Magazine may have a second wind after all. Here’s the optimistic outlook. The potential darker truth: Print publishing is getting hammered, and magazines are downsizing to almost nothing or going out of business altogether. Let’s hope for the best with the Bike Mag folks!
Lance is pleased with his comeback from surgery so far and still on track to “appear at the starting line” at next week’s Giro d’Italia. How far beyond the starting line he gets is anyone’s guess, but a ceremonial appearance is better than none! The main goal is to keep from reinjuring his shoulder so he can point to the Tour.
Daily Roundup: Bike Mag co. files bankruptcy, Cycling workaround for Hood Canal Bridge, Parkinson’s rideIn Bicycling, Daily Roundup on April 29, 2009 at 11:04 am
Bicycle Retailer: Bike Magazine is the best-written bike mag extant, so it’s discouraging that the parent company is filing for bankruptcy. The promise is to keep publishing, but no one except cave dwellers is in the dark about print publishing’s woes these days. One of the great things about Bike Magazine has been its sponsorships and advocacy work, beyond just the mag itself. They were at the Sea Otter premiere of “Freedom Riders” I reviewed, both as co-sponsor of the event and of the film too. Good folks, we wish them the best of luck.
Biking Bis has the skinny for road cyclists wanting to take advantage of car-deprived Olympic Peninsula during the Hood Canal Bridge shutdown, beginning Friday. Thanks Gene!
Velocity has details on Glenn Erickson leading a ride for Parkinson’s Disease out at Marymoor Park in Redmond on May 24. Glenn, a longtime icon in cycling circles (originally the “E” in R+E Cycles), was unfortunately diagnosed with the disease last August and is working to raise awareness with the Davis Phinney Foundation (former world-class racer Phinney also has Parkinson’s).
A bevy of new Evil Revolts came in yesterday at Fluidride’s shop on south Lake Union. The shop is putting in a white-on-black showroom to highlight the new frames with the revolutionary pivot design from Dave Weagle of DW-link fame. Here’s a closeup (note the logo detail at the bottom bracket).
There’s tons of buzz about the Seattle-based company’s new bike, which Jerry Knight predicts will “just kill on the circuit this year.” The big kickoff is this weekend in Port Angeles — reminder that the Hood Canal Bridge will close on Friday. Lots of folks going over Thursday to beat the closure. Otherwise the plan is to drive around through Gig Harbor.
Evil pro Steve Smith is expected to ride at Port Angeles, joining 50-plus other pros from around the world. This is the biggest race in years in Washington, head on over and cheer ‘em on!
Traveling back from the hugely successful Sea Otter Classic and brought back to Seattle some digitally compressed California sunshine, 1,000/1 ratio enabling an entire afternoon of sunlight to be transported in a container the size of a bike water bottle. US Patent No. A3587468bbT It’s all in the algorithm. I have enough in store to last thru the week and the big Fluidride Cup race this weekend in Port Angeles.
Am sorry to hear from David Hiller at Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club that the 3-feet-please law died in the Senate transportation committee earlier this month. Colorado fared better and things are going down to the wire in Oregon. More wins than losses these days, though, and that means progress.
Wishing Lance all the best at Gila, but is it a warmup for Giro or…? Nothing much has been said recently about Lance competing in Italy and the Giro starts a week from Saturday. My best wild guess: Teammate Levi was sent out to consult with Lance, get a read on Lance’s conditioning, mindset, etc., and report back to Team Astana director Johan Bruyneel. Lance is probably all systems go but it may not be his decision to make. A ceremonial appearance may be the best compromise. I must say it’s remarkable that Lance is back racing already, albeit a bit risky if he’s truly counting on doing the Giro. Best of luck!
Good to be back!
“Freedom Riders,” a new film from KGB Productions and Gravnetic unveiled Saturday evening at Sea Otter courtesy of IMBA, represents a real step forward in mountain biking’s effort to gain the legitimacy it richly deserves. The film looks at compromise efforts in the Bridger Teton National Forest near Jackson WY to open hugely popular but unauthorized downhill trails constructed by a renegade gang of five mountain bikers.
What’s striking about the film is its wisdom (which appropriately reflects the wisdom of the effort itself). It doesn’t get defensive about our sport. It doesn’t point fingers at anyone, including the trail builders. Instead, it explores and explicates the many subtle and thorny aspects of trail-making. You come away with a good feeling about mountain biking and high hopes that ignorant and confrontational attitudes are a thing of the past.
In a nutshell, three trails — Ritalin, Lithium and Skullfuck — were constructed over a period of years by a local surgeon (hence their names) and his recruits. They were kept fairly secret at first, but word eventually got out and their popularity grew. They were challenging, steep, gnarly and jump-laden, but were not built to strict standards, and people began getting hurt. When people get seriously injured on unmarked trails, things start to unravel fast.
The Forest Service at first took the usual path, felling aspens across the trails at numerous points. The blockages were soon cleared. Then more felling, and more clearing. The tit-for-tat wasn’t working.
Finally an enlightened Forest Service manager, Linda Merigliano, issued a call: We need to resolve this impasse for the safety of the community. “But we’ll need the help of mountain bikers to do so,” she said.
As a result, negotiations ensued and mountain bikers agreed to give up access to Ritalin and Skullfuck in favor of preserving Lithium. Then work began to rebuild and maintain Lithium according to proper specifications from IMBA and others. Now the trail is still challenging, the fun factor is still high, but when someone needs help the Search & Rescue folks wind up doing far more of the latter than the former.
Partly because of the success of the Teton project, there is movement in this direction throughout the country. For the first time, officialdom is looking at increasing mountain biking access rather than shutting down unsanctioned trails. We have IMBA to thank for much of this, of course, but it can only succeed with grassroots support from the likes of local clubs and groups, including our own Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
It would be foolish to think that Forest Service accommodations will deter or end rogue trail-building. Life is too short, and bureaucracies move too slowly. But in sensitive and highly populated areas, the Teton model provides a great example of how to move mountain biking forward.
Beyond its lessons, “Freedom Riders” is great entertainment, with plenty of action shots from everyday riders like you ‘n me and lots of humor and goodwill. Five stars, five flamin’ red chilis, five bars — by whatever measure, this is a must-see. It’ll make you want to get out and ride as soon as the closing credits are over.
Video trailer from PinkBike here.
One of the toughest mountain bikers in the world is not a guy. Last year she gave up a dominating career in mountain biking to train for the BMX event in the Olympics, tore out her knee, put off surgery and gutted it out to a bronze medal. She’s Jill Kintner, born in Seattle, 1999 Juanita High grad.
Kintner is back on the mountain bike for 2009 and was on the slate for the Sea Otter Classic this weekend in Monterey. Curious how her comeback from ACL reconstruction and a separate meniscus scope was doing, and wanting to root her on, I went out to the dual slalom competition on Saturday.
Dual slalom is for my money the best of all cycling competition to watch. Road and cross-country races stretch out too far and too long. Downhill races run against the clock, an unflinching but faceless foe. Dual slalom offers a brutally fast and quick snaky course full of berms, twists and turns, jumps and pedaling. And it pits riders mano-a-mano, or in this case, femi-a-femi.
Sea Otter’s layout is compact and accessible. During the early afternoon the dual slalom track was empty, so I took a couple test runs down it. You think, as an experienced cyclist, you can at least ride pretty much everything the pros can ride, just not as well. Then you go out on the real ticket and find how woefully overmatched you really are.
The course was not just steep and lumpy, with off-camber troughs, wicked hairpins and thumping rollers, it was fast deteriorating in the baking sun. Normally the concern at Sea Otter is soaking rains that turn the course into a water slide. This time around the temps were into the 80s, it hadn’t rained a drop and the course was caked like a dry lake bed. It was a challenge just to stay upright through the top sections. To think about pedaling a tall gear as fast as one is capable through this stuff boggles the imagination.
The slightest miscue on the upper run was putting the world’s best riders into the dirt like school kids. Braking on the sketchy surface was highly problematic. If you misjudged a jump or got too far into the middle of the track, you were out of luck for any correctional maneuvers. As you gained speed down the turns, you had to hit the berms really high or you stood to wash out in the loose powder in the mid-section. The slightest bobble could cost you the race. After dozens of runs, no rider who had emerged from the zigzags behind his or her rival had managed to make up the difference in the downhill section, which featured two tabletops but was far too short to bridge a gap.
The dry conditions help explain why champions like Eric Carter, Nathan Rennie and Cedric Gracia bit the big one, handing their runs to lesser rivals.
The only rider who really mastered the course was Sam Hill, lunging into and ripping the corners as only a pro on top of their game can do. Even then, it was only on the final couple of runs where Hill clearly had things in command. He got better with each run, which is another great thing about the slalom. If you stick around long enough, you can grow into the course like a virtuoso. By the finals he was hitting the turns in a rooster tail of dust like a hydroplane spouting water on Lake Washington.
For most of the race, Kintner looked to be Hill’s counterpart on the female side. Clear through to the finals, her only encounter with dirt was to watch the competition go down. As foe after foe overreached, trying to make up lost ground, they spun out or took a flyer or just plain crashed. More often than not Jill was just coasting by the time she reached the finish line. It was looking easy. Maybe too easy.
On the other draw, 2008 national downhill and dual slalom champion Melissa Buhl was similarly cleaning up. But unlike Jill, Buhl was being pushed. It was coming down to a question whether Buhl would have the gas to motor in the final against a daisy-fresh Kintner.
Then things fell apart.
On the first run, Kintner had trouble on the top washboard, looking hesitant and unsure through the first berm. She re-righted and managed to keep it a race, but not in time to close the gap Buhl managed to open up at the top.
It was never clear exactly what happened, whether a mechanical, or slipped pedal, or just bad luck threw her off (she wasn’t quoted on anything specific in post-race interviews). But one thing undoubtedly contributed: Not having been pressed all day, she may have been playing it too cautious, counting as much on something going wrong for Buhl as seizing the opportunity to put down the hammer from the start.
I say this because the second run was nearly a reversal of the first. From the outset Kintner was the stronger rider, leading through all the turns and smoking Buhl across the tabletops. In her defense, Buhl may have been playing it safe this time, figuring all she had to do was stay upright and her first run would carry the day (one report also mentioned a mech up high for Buhl). The way slalom scoring works is that you have to make up the difference of the first run in the second. It doesn’t matter if you win the second, you have to do so by that crucial time differential.
And this time, Kintner fell short. An otherwise perfect day was ruined by a bumpy penultimate run.
Still, there’s no doubt that Kintner is back, and 2009 looks to be a great season. An early season disappointment might be just the motivation Jill needs to put her over the top through the rest of the year. Hopefully there will be more epic matchups with Buhl to come.
Some great video from PinkBike.
Bike sharing in Denver? From Bicycle Retailer: “Will 65 kiosks housing 1,000 bikes alter this sprawling Western city’s attitude toward bicycles and commuting?” Bike sharing clearly is a popular idea, the main challenge being “shrinkage” (theft). Even when the bikes are painted yellow, as in Portland, or used in densely urban areas, as in Paris, they tend to just go away. Trek is putting up the bikes for this experiment, and at 35 to 40 pounds they’re clearly not sexy items. It will be interesting to see how they fare.
One thing that could aid in promoting bike sharing, which basically involves paying a fee to take a bike from a rack, then returning the bike to a rack at the rider’s destination, is transponder technology. Transponders are satellite or other wireless-enabled devices that provide tracking capability for their hosts. The tech may not be quite there for bikes (in terms of power source, robustness and protection against disabling or removal), but is improving all the time. If there were a way to monitor independently the movements of shared bikes, the shrinkage rate might diminish. At the very least, abandoned bikes could be recovered.
Some good sources for Sea Otter coverage. MTBR.com has its own queue, Cyclelicious has the wonderfully named Yokota Fritz on the case (altho she was a bit, ahem, on the fritz last night), Velo News is out and about and of course the site’s own news team is all over. And there’s this from the Monterey County Herald.
Don’t forget the Sea Otter hash at Twitter, #seaotter. I’m twittering as well from @BikeIntel.
Why ride? Robb at Mountain Biking by 109 says it all. Wish you were here at Sea Otter bro!
Back to Santa Cruz for a tour of Forest of Nisene Marks, billed as the leading host of lyme-disease carrying ticks in the state (1 in 5)! Well, that one won’t make the tourist promos, but anyone with their share of run-ins with ticks knows that proper precautions avert a lot of trouble. Stay on the trails, don’t lie down in the grass, and keep an eye out for the little devils and you’ll be fine. (Also read up on the latest regarding how to handle ticks and avoid Lyme Disease.)
Nisene has lots of lower-level trails with berms, a few structures and lots of rollers. But you can also ride up the long fire road to access the Soquel Demo Forest, a great technical area. And if you go over to the Aptos Post Office, you’ll find one of the leading jump parks in the country, where homie Cam McCaul plays host to some of the world’s leading mountain bikers, guys like Andreu Lecondeguy, Jamie Goldman, Greg Watts and others.
The other thing about hanging with the locals is finding out about new undocumented trails. There’s lots to choose from in Santa Cruz!