Paul Andrews

Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Giro Wrap: Lance’s chances looking ahead

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling on May 31, 2009 at 10:58 am

The 2009 Giro d’Italia is history, with Lance Armstrong finishing in a solid and respectable 12th place, 16 minutes off the pace after a middle-of-the-pack showing on the final rainy stage. Now all eyes, and maybe even the traveling soap opera that has become Team Astana, shift to the Tour de France, starting July 4 in Monaco.

I have to hand it to Lance: Although he fell short of general expectations, he did better than I expected. Considering he was basically riding to draw media attention to the Giro (and, as always, himself), and in protect-mode for the Tour (no more crashes!), twelfth is a commendable showing.

Yes, he said he was aiming to win. Then he said he would “be happy” with a stage win. All things considered, he’s undoubtedly pleased with a non-DNF. (Side note: Lance being Lance, he’s already engaged in revisionism re his Giro showing — see link below.)

One might assume that Lance is now primed to pounce on the Tour and bring home a record 8th, having honed his conditioning with the Giro warmup. Expect the media buzz to say just that, with a lot of speculation about Lance’s chances for a triumphant return to Paris.

In our continuing role as hype degreaser, we have just three words: Ain’t gonna happen. But that doesn’t mean Lance won’t have had a successful summer campaign. He’s gotten cycling back onto the TV and the pages of daily newspapers, all of which means big money and success for racing and his cancer foundation. For that, he is to be congratulated.

Of more concern is Lance’s crashes — one each in his past three races. Only the collarbone mishap was major, but crashes like this were things the Lance of old had no trouble avoiding. They’ve been crashes of fatigue, where the brain is too tired and reflexes too trashed to stay on point. His latest, touching a wheel and going down, could have been far worse. He landed on the side opposite his repaired shoulder and reported just some soreness and stiffness.

The crashes, combined with Lance’s instigation of the “Slow Ride” protest of a “dangerous” criterium stage in the Giro (all criteriums are dangerous, that’s what brakes are for), suggest his challenges are not entirely physical. Accidents inevitably make a rider more cautious, and the Tour will have its own “dangerous” stages.

Our best guess is that Lance will again ride for ceremony’s sake, sucking up the adulation of fandom, promoting his foundation and doing what he can for the squad, which won’t be all that much. Astana’s A team, including last year’s Giro winner and 2007 Tour victor Alberto Contador (he had to sit out last year’s Tour due to no fault of his own), stayed out of the Giro this year to “focus on” (rest up for) the Tour. The Giro is a great race, but it’s still just a warmup to the Tour. Among the big boys, Lance’s glory will be PR more than stage results.

If anything, Lance’s return has shown that what cycling really needs is another Lance Armstrong. An American No. 1 who can galvanize support for the sport in the U.S. while boosting media and commercial interest in the Tour, Giro and Olympics. You have to have icons in this day and age to ensure ongoing youth and junior development. Greg Lemond got the ball rolling back in the 1980s, Lance picked it up in the latter ’90s.

There are promising signs that “legacy Lances,” young American riders, are in the food chain — in particular Taylor Phinney, the son of another world-class American cyclist, Davis Phinney (Taylor is nicknamed “mini Phinney”). Taylor is recording some head-turning results, just today having won Paris-Roubaix in the under 23 class.

Lost in all the current ruckus is Lance’s original motivation for returning to racing. Last summer he got his hind end handed to him by a local hero, Dave Wiens, at the annual mountain bike enduro race, the Leadville 100. Lance vowed a return engagement for 2009 following his European tour, and is registered for the race.

It may be his best chance for a victory this year. He’ll have the conditioning of the tour under his belt, and his shoulder should be a non-factor by race day, Aug. 15.

But mountain biking, as Lance himself knows (having one year competed with mediocre results), is a different beast from road racing. There’s very little successful cross-over, and where there is, as in the case of Cadel Evans, Michael Rasmussen and Floyd Landis (a 2007 Dave Wiens victim who may also race Leadville this year), the transition goes the opposite direction: From top mountain biker to road racer.

Hopefully Lance will avoid another crash or other injury jeopardizing the Leadville event, because ultimately, that may be the Lance Armstrong race to watch in 2009.

New York Times Giro wrap

Team Astana faces deadline

Final Giro results from Velo News

Taylor Phinney wins Paris-Roubaix

Lance in Leadville

Bike Radar: Lance feeling “strong” for Tour, engaged in active revisionism re his Giro placement

Another Tiger closure, time for action

In Mountain Biking, Trail Access on May 31, 2009 at 7:05 am

An increasingly familiar sight on Tiger Mountain

An increasingly familiar sight on Tiger Mountain

The Northwest Timber Trail on Tiger Mountain is closed again, this time for logging prep work near the upper trail.

The good news is that the damage involves (so far) just one section, a yarding line just above where the trail starts to drop for good, and that a mid-June reopening is “expected.” I put the word in quotes because past experience is that closures last longer, a LOT longer, than originally promised.

The bad news is the continuing pattern of Tiger trail closures during the height of mountain biking season. Next year’s plans include another closure at NWTT, making it three out of four years. And Iverson was closed one summer as well.

We’ve been clear in the past but it bears repeating: DNR should open other Tiger trails to mountain bikes when one of the only two loops open now (Preston-NWTT and Iverson) are closed. The prime candidate should be Tiger Middle Trail, which could be linked to Iverson for a southern version of the Preston loop.

The solution: Open Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT)!

The solution: Open Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT)!

TMT is scantily used by hikers because, basically, it’s a big commitment. An east summit connection would be in the range of an 8–mile hike, with a lot of steep climbing and uninspiring road thrown in. Mountain bikes are far better suited to this loop than hikers.

The other argument for mountain bikes is that TMT’s southern exposure means better trail conditions, especially drier. And a temporary opening would give the MTB community an opportunity to show its trail manners and maintenance commitment.

There’s enough sentiment, broadly distributed through the mountain biking community, for additional access on Tiger that the time is right to pursue an outreach campaign. It will take a coordinated effort. We’d love to be able to do what we can.

Daily Roundup: PUMP is now NTA, Hilarious pentagonal bike, Bike recession downer, Fully rigid ride up Tiger, Hilary ‘n Kate

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on May 29, 2009 at 6:28 am

Portland’s great mountain biking club, PUMP (Portland United Mountain Pedalers), has joined the “Alliance” movement among mountain biking organizations, changing its name to Northwest Trail Alliance and following in the footsteps of Seattle-based Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club’s changeover to Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance last year.

The idea here is to emphasize mountain biking’s outreach to other trail users, as well as other cycling organizations, to further access and improve image. Mountain biking is expanding, but trail access is not keeping pace. Yes there’s a lot of rogue activity by groms and others, building and extending trails in an unauthorized capacity. But to make the movement stick, mtbers will have to work with resource agencies, local governing bodies and the community at large. This takes a lot of trench work, for which we can be eternally thankful. Ally, ally! We can only win together.

More from BikePortland.org.

Copycat Update!: Scott Marlow noticed a certain similarity as well…in the logos (hat tip to Ross Cattelan for images):

Former BBTC logo

Former BBTC logo

NTA logo

NTA logo

Literally re-inventing the wheel:

I'll wait for the motocross version, thanks...

I'll wait for the motocross version, thanks...

The bike business continues to get hammered by the recession/Depression, but the good news (I think) is that bikes are outselling cars! As the Monty Python troup might put it, Always ride in the bright lane of life!

Over at BikingBis, Gene Bisbee rode up Tiger Mountain yesterday to admire the view of Mt. Rainier from the East Summit…on a fully rigid Rockhopper! That’s a “classic MTB” in the mountain biking world. Congrats Gene, and hope the ride down went, er, smoothly.

Have a great weekend! Not to extend the fully rigid metaphor, we depart with images of bike enthusiasts Kate Hudson and Hilary Duff (hat tips to Cyclelicious and Riding Pretty). Now get out and ride!

Kate on a Schwinn...

Kate on a Schwinn...

Hilary on a roll...

Hilary on a roll...

Daily Roundup: Breakthru in Marin access, Bikewise.org in Seattle Times, new SanFran bike park, Snarky Giro, WWJST

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Trail Access on May 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Bill’s Trail in Samuel Taylor Park is a 4-mile, switchbacky joy ride through the redwoods. In what is being called a “historic opportunity,” mountain bikers have a chance to gain access to the trail, one of the first expansions in decades to riding in Marin, mountain biking’s renowned birthplace but also host to its bitterest battles over trail access. Here’s more from Mtbr.com. Along with the planned multi-use redesign of Diaz Ridge above Muir Beach, the efforts indicate that agencies and trail groups are taking a more collaborative approach to access issues. You can help! Click here. Congrats to IMBA and NorCal mtb groups for helping to open the doors to progress.

Seattle Times: “…a cluster of injuries reported at an intersection could get the transportation department to investigate further…” Article on Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club’s new online tool, Bikewise.org, previously reviewed on Bike Intelligencer.

Proposed Mountain Bike Park in San Francisco

Proposed Mountain Bike Park in San Francisco

In San Francisco’s McLaren Park, there’s serious discussion about installing a mountain bike park with tabletops, chutes ‘n ladders, dirt jumps and even a pump track! A bit like our own Colonnade, only on steroids…er, make that energy drinks. Anyway, you know what I mean. For all the cycling glory of the Bay Area, it doesn’t have much in the way of Skillz sites, and this would be a great enhancement to its mountain biking resume. Congrats to SF Urban Riders for a great idea, hope they can get the stim funding to make it happen.

Great snarky commentary on this year’s Giro — and the ongoing bicycle soap opera called Team Astana — from Bicycle.net: “While the aforementioned guys who were supposed to have weak moments didn’t particularly seem to, it wasn’t lost on anybody that Levi got dropped off Lance’s wheel today when Lance tried to bridge the gap to those aforementioned individuals. Nor was it lost on anybody that Lance managed to get precisely halfway across the bridge before running out of steam and dropping back to give shade to Levi. The two of them limped home licking their wounds and perhaps rethinking strategies for that little bike race in France a few weeks from now.”

The Cycling Dude: WWJST? (What Would Joseph Smith Think?) Bicycles in SLC? How dare they!

Along with weather, bike calendar is heating up!

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, Mountain Biking on May 28, 2009 at 6:38 am

As we exit Bike Month with a big party this afternoon and an Alki Beach “Spectacular” on Sunday, the cycling events calendar is really starting to heat up. How nice of the weather to cooperate! Another 5-star weekend is forecast as we roll into June.

Some events worth noting:

From 4 to 7 today at the Burke-Gilman Trail between University Ave. and Brooklyn (there’s a big grassy open area there), Cascade Bicycle Club will host its 5th annual “UW Hubbub” with free drinks from Honest Tea, music from Better World and, in my kind of race, a “How Slow Can You Go?” biking contest. Also bike fittings from GHC and registration from the UW police department. Head on down, it’ll be fun!

From 9 to 5 on Sunday, Cascade will offer its “Summer Bike Spectacular,” along Alki Way between California and 63rd S.W. There’s lots of stuff for kids, including mini-bike races and parades, but the highlight promises to be trials expert Ryan Leech, doing things on a bike you wouldn’t want to try on your own two feet. Leech puts on a great aerial act, well worth the trip. Catch him either at 12:30 or 2:30 p.m.

The annual Bavarian Bike & Brews Fest will race again on Saturday, June 6, in Leavenworth. This is No. 4 in the Northwest Indie race series and always a memorable occasion on the race calendar. This is also National Trails Day with IMBA, coordinated locally by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, which has made Duthie Hill this year’s focus.

Fluidride’s downhill series, so far having a spectacular run this year, will continue with No. 3 from June 12 through 14 at the Silver Mountain resort in Kellogg, ID.

On the road side, the 22nd annual gorgeous Apple Century Ride will run from Wenatchee on June 6 along the scenic Columbia and Entiat Rivers.

For complete calendar listings, pick up a copy of The Bicycle Paper at a local bike shop or recreational outlet, or check out the online version.

Now get out ‘n ride!!

Daily Roundup: Bike Business Forum, 22 percent bike funding? Shimano sales tank, Bike beats subway in NYC, Rider Down update

In Daily Roundup, Rider Down on May 27, 2009 at 5:49 am

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club will hold a “Bike Business Forum” hosted by Costco, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Starbucks, Group Health, Vulcan and Seattle Children’s Hospital at 11:30 a.m. next Wednesday (June 3rd) at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute downtown. John Mauro, the club’s commute director, will give a brief presentation, followed by discussion centered on shaping a regional bicycling agenda. Should be interesting…

Smartgrowth.org: Survey shows public support for increasing bike transportation funding from 1 percent to 22 percent, along with increases for other transit options. (Thanks to Republican John Bailo on the Cascade bike forum.)

Bicycle Retailer: Shimano sales down 18 percent last year, 19 percent for Q1. Oof!

Lost in the Ozone: Bike beats subway, taxi, in New York City rush-hour race. This reminds me of a similar event I participated in as a reporter for The Seattle Times back in the early 1980s. In a race from the U District to City Hall during the morning commute, the van pool won, but cyclists (including me) beat the Metro bus. Not sure if a single occupancy vehicle was in the mix back then (I don’t recall one), but today I bet a bike would beat a car.

InjuryBoard.com: Watch out for bikes. Apparently police, not having issued a citation at the time, are investigating the death of a cyclist run over by a semi in Minneapolis last week. “A semitrailer driver had began to make a wide left turn at the intersection of Park Avenue and E. 14th Street and hit a long time cyclist with its back tires. A witness said that the bike had been stopped at the light and like the semi began to go forward when the light changed. The semi then turned and unexpectedly drove over the rider.” My wife was involved in a fender bender recently where a car making a right turn hit her as she was going forward in the inside lane. The investigating officer told the driver, who claimed that my wife was not driving in a “real” lane, that any vehicle colliding with another while making a turn is at fault (barring extremely unusual circumstances). Let’s hope justice is done in this case.

You can’t win at pro level without drugs

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, This Day In Doping on May 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

That’s the lament offered by Bernhard Kohl, an Austrian cycling star and last year’s Tour de France king of the mountains winner, as he departs the sport after being banned for doping:

“I doped voluntarily in a system in which you cannot win without doping. The weeks after [being caught] were tough for me. But after discussions with friends and family, I realised that a return to professional cycling was a return to a life of doping and lies… Somewhere along the way, talent, training and tough discipline just aren’t enough anymore.”

All this, at age 27.

What it suggests is even more depressing: That the pro tour is still driven by drugs, that enforcement is a sham, that Big Money from sponsorships and residuals promotes and perpetuates a system of deception, fraud and illegality.

In other words, the whole sport is gamed beyond redemption.

The situation calls out for an independent investigation, or at least investigative journalism along the lines of a cycling Seymour Hersh. Otherwise we’ll never know whether to believe Kohl or just pass it off as sour grapes. Certainly he has an axe to grind. But there’s abundant evidence, including a growing number of cyclists stepping forward with painful but cathartic admissions, that what he says is true. It’s obvious that cycling cannot police itself. It’s been trying for more than a decade, with nothing but scandal after scandal to show for its efforts.

Daily Roundup: Portland buffered bike lanes, bike boom hits London, Crankworx invitees, Iron Horse bailout proceeds

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Daily Roundup, Rider Down on May 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm

BikePortland.org: Portland to add “buffered” bike lanes aimed at increasing cyclist elbow room in traffic. Interesting stuff. I’d like to ride one to get a feel, but it does look like this helps address (besides what’s mentioned in the article) the “dooring” problem of having to ride out into a lane of traffic to avoid the possibility that a parked car door will open in your path. It also creates a comfort zone, which imho is a preferable term to “shy” (experienced riders aren’t shy, they friggin’ scared!) designated by the project. In any case, this looks like a step forward.

In Philly, bike advocates take matters into their own hands against speeding drivers.

BikeBiz: The bike commuting boom hits London! A 9 percent increase year-to-year.

Crankworx invitees posted. I’d love to see Cam McCaul get a title but this may be Semenuk’s year. Usually someone comes out of the blue, though. The day to mark your calendars is Aug. 15 at Whistler. If you can’t be there, someone’s usually liveblogging or streaming the thing.

Struck and killed… Of note is the driver’s excuse for not staying at the scene and maybe helping out someone who may have been dying: He did not have his cell phone. Police are investigating, so that’s good.

Good piece on Moab, not the usual fluff, from Pasadena Star-News.

Bicycle Retailer: “An attorney for Iron Horse Bicycle Company filed a motion last week initiating the process for the sale of the bankrupt bicycle business to Outdoor Cycle Group, a company owned in part by the Randall Scott, son of Iron Horse president Cliff Weidberg.”

Another great idea from Portland: Custom clothing with bike riding in mind. You’re seeing more of this in off-the-shelf clothing as well, as well as more bike clothing (shorts, jerseys) being made with apres-cycle wear in mind.

Memorial Day Roundup: Peaty unbeatable, Slow Bicycle movement, Ski to Sea redesign gets thumbs up

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on May 25, 2009 at 7:20 am

Steve Peat has been out of his mind lately, winning consecutive World Cup titles to surpass Nicholas Vuilloz’s “unbeatable” record and now tacking on the Lisbon Downtown race over unbelievable cobblestones for the 8th (yes, that’s an eight) year in a row. Yes he’s the “old guy” on the circuit, but that just makes him sneaky, wily and craftier than the rest of the field. And to think he can step off the podium, hit the pub for a dozen pints and then go out and do the same thing the next day! What an inspiration!

Can't do THAT with an iPhone!

Can't do THAT with an iPhone!

In Copenhagen there is a “Slow Bike” movement that my wife Cecile, author of Slow Is Beautiful, can appreciate. As the motto puts it, “It’s style over speed.” Why not a 20-foot-long race where the one who finishes last wins? The “Slow World Cup” championships!

Bellingham Herald: Mountain bikers like Ski to Sea redesign, except for railroad ties(!). “Paul Wood, riding for NW Yogis Running Wild, joked that part of the race was so bumpy that cavities would fall out of your mouth.” Full results.

Jill Kintner wins US Open Giant Slalom!

In Bicycle Racing, Mountain Biking on May 24, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Seattle native Jill Kintner smoked the field, including arch-rival Melissa Buhl, in the giant slalom competition at the US Open this weekend in Vernon, NJ. When boyfriend Bryn Atkinson finished first in the downhill qualifying rounds, there were dreams of a Domestic Double. Alas, the amazing Sam Hill rose to the occasion in the downhill, although Bryn’s 6th place finish was nothing to sneeze at. Steve Smith, riding for Seattle’s Evil Bikes, was 8th, and on the women’s side Kirkland’s Katie Holden (profiled recently on Freeride Foundation) finished a respectable 12th.

More on Jill’s blogFull race results on Live-Timing.

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