Paul Andrews

Archive for the ‘Bicycle Racing’ Category

Waiting for LeMond…

In Bicycle Racing on February 5, 2010 at 1:51 am

Nice folo from VeloNews on the Trek-LeMond settlement. You have to read between the lines here. From the judge’s questions, it looked virtually certain that Lance’s doping suspicions would be raised in the trial (Lance’s ex was barred by her attorney from answering questions during deposition about his doping).

That would have put Trek under enormous pressure from Lance to keep him out of all this at a time when the Comeback Kid least wants negative publicity.

It’s probably an overstatement to suggest that Trek caved, but put it this way: Had Trek held the upper hand, there probably would be a gag on Greg against discussing any Armstrong connection.

As the VeloNews piece makes clear, there is not.

So we’ll continue to wait for word from LeMond re Lance (memo to @greglemond: Whatever you feel about Lance, the guy knows how to use Twitter!). As we stated earlier, our preference would be a burying of the hatchet so these kings of the road could work together to promote cycling’s future in America.

A Wide Open Tour de France 2010?

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances, This Day In Doping on January 25, 2010 at 3:46 am

Yes it’s early, but we continue to see signs that this year’s Tour de France is shaping up as a real bike race (as opposed to a single team of prima donnas controlling a docile peloton). We think it’s good for the sport, especially because we may be spared endless Clash of Titans bloviating re Lance and Alberto. With a slew of contenders in the mix, maybe this year’s Tour will have actual, true, real, what’s the expression … suspense?

Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez says he’s gonna try to win.

Aussie “Tour Down Under” champion Andre Greipel wants a go, mate.

His coach says Lance is ahead of last year’s training (when he eventually took third in the Tour). Or is this just something to say every year to juice the buzz?

Last year’s winner Alberto Contador looks to put an early hurt on the peloton in Paris-Nice.

Don’t forget our personal favorite, Andy Schleck (and brother Frank).

And we’ve already talked about the Doper Reunion aspect. Whatever else you can say about these cheats, they can still ride.

We’ll be watching Vegas odds on this one with intense interest.

News Cycle: ___spiring, Sam Hill’s narrow miss, Longest wheelie & more

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking, News Cycle on January 18, 2010 at 1:41 am

Inspiring: Thousands join Lance’s Twitter ride Down Under. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen 5,000 cyclists in a peloton. It must have been quite a sight.

Perspiring: British dude wheelies for 8 miles, claims world record.

Aspiring: The Schleck brothers take aim on this year’s Tour. We’re big fans of Andy Schleck and brother Frank and think they hold the key to this year’s Tour de France. With no obviously dominating team like Astana in 2009, the Tour should be a ripper in 2010. Let’s hope the Schleck’s stay healthy and mix it up!

Re my consternation at Bogota beating out Portland in the world’s Top 10 bike-friendly cities, Tim over at CarFreeDays has a thoughtful response.

Top 10 things you don’t wanna hear after a bicycle accident… and Top 10 things you should do.

LA Streetsblog has argument against bike paths. All well and good, but one note: Crappy LA bike paths don’t mean all bike paths are crappy like LA. Many of the deficiencies raised have been addressed in more bike-friendly places, and in general bike paths are a huge plus for getting the new and timid out on two wheels.

What in Sam Hill?
Aussie downhill king and former World Champion Sam Hill had the Australian Mountain Bike Championship within his grasp but slid out just meters from the finish line. Chris Kovarik claimed the win, epitomizing the expression about better to be lucky…

BikingBis: Mudslide blocks Burke-Gilman Trail.

Some days you think you’ve got problems. Then you read about Mark Weir’s loss

Never too early to Talk Tour

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on January 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The Tour de France is just only a mere six months away! Time to start ramping up the Clash of Titans trash talk between Lance and Bert! We’re glad to see Lance’s comments about beating Contador in the Tour this year. This kind of stuff is great for building commercial sponsorship, media attention and the Big Bucks.

Last year we scoffed at any notion Lance might win the Tour — or any other major for that matter. And despite all the overblown yammering about the Great Comeback, we were right. This year things are a bit different, largely because the two are riding for different teams. Lance says he’s being underestimated because of his age. We agree age isn’t the issue. Nor is conditioning, although we feel Lance will take a hit by not doing the Giro this year. The Tour of California, much as we love it, is not in the same class as the Giro. But Lance has the 2009 season still in his legs.

It’s strategy. And because Lance is a master strategist, and he’ll be riding for a team that’s All Lance All the Time, he has a number of weapons that possibly could maybe might undercut Contador’s obvious physical superiority.

Another factor: People love Lance, even the French who at one time despised him as a suspected drug cheat. People don’t particularly care for Contador, who has the charisma of a tethered cobra. Some riders can play off that to their advantage — Bernard Hinault comes to mind. But it’s not a given in Contador’s case. In fact, psychologically Contador is still somewhat of a black box. He’s a climbing God, but no one knows what’s going on behind his grim visage at any given moment.

Our best guess how it will work out: Lance will continue to chat up the rivalry, drawing lots of attention and generating huge interest. Contador will lay low and play his cards close to his vest. And in the race, they’ll jockey through the first week or two, riveting the cycling and sports world. Eventually, Contador will crush Lance in the mountains. But that will come late enough in this 180-day Kabuki dance that we’ll all have a delicious time enjoying the suspense.

Bicycle Net: Rivalry to intensify.

How it used to be, ye youthful brethren of the spoken wheel…

In Bicycle Racing on January 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

The recent passing of Bernie Hoffacker, founder of Palo Alto Bicycles, rekindled a lot of memories from our roadie days back in the ’70s.

When the Euro revolution was just starting to sink in, Hoffacker’s Palo Alto Bicycles and Ric and Jon Hjertberg’s Wheelsmith a couple blocks away made Palo Alto one of the coolest places on earth. Palo Alto Bicycles had the classiest mail order catalog anywhere, helping to fuel the bike boom of the ’70s, and its posters of Tour legends and local wheel-building icon Jobst Brandt riding the Swiss Alps still hang in my basement.

Where PA Bikes and Wheelsmith really rocked was during the Tour de France. You have to remember, there was no TV coverage or even mention of the Tour on newscasts. Local newspapers ran nothing, not even results.

The only way to track Tour progress was to swing by Palo Alto Bicycles or Wheelsmith for results, usually posted on a small piece of paper tacked to a bulletin board or wall. And then we’d debate about who was going to win and fantasize what it would be like to be following the peloton through the mountains.

We asked Ric, who runs Wheel Fanatyk in Seattle these days, to refresh our memory on how Wheelsmith got the results.

“Tour results, in the early days, came from the Manchester Guardian we copped at Mac’s Smoke Shop,” Ric noted. “You needed to wait until opening because they only got 3 copies. We rushed it to our store, clipped the results, and posted them. Dozens of riders would come by over the day, or call, to learn the standings.”

By today’s standards, it sounds positively Stone Age.

“Whew,” Ric acknowledged. “Was it really that primitive? Well, actually, it was!”

We never thought we’d get live coverage of the Tour each day, or be able to chatter on our keyboards via blogs and the Internet. (Thank you, Jacques, Greg and Lance!) We were happy just for the names of the stage winners and Top 10 overalls, with respective times. Thanks to Palo Alto Bicycles for feeding the mind, inspiring the soul and supplying the kit over the years. And yes Ric, we miss those days hanging out at Wheelsmith. Computers weren’t the only great things that sprang from garage shops in Silicon Valley!

Great Expectations: Top 10 Bicycling Issues for 2010

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on January 1, 2010 at 3:42 am

Here are our Top 10 things to watch for in the world of cycling for the coming year. Yes we thought about a Top 2,010 list for numerical compliance, but hey, that’d be way too much work.

1. In the Washington State legislature, a “Vulnerable User” bill. Similar legislation failed last year but the Cascade Bicycle Club and its relentless advocacy director, David Hiller, will be trying again. A Traffic Justice Summit in October set the agenda for why legislation is needed: Too many cyclists are being injured or killed with at max a traffic ticket being issued. Growing cycling awareness among elected leaders, particularly in Seattle and King County, should help Cascade’s efforts.

Nationally, watch for additional 3-feet-please laws stipulating wider berth for bikes v. cars.

2. Seattle native Jill Kintner gets her world championship. Kintner narrowly missed the 2009 rainbow jersey in Australia, and the 2009 season that was supposed to be a gradual comeback after winter knee surgery turned into a breakout year. Barring injury, 2010 should belong to Jill. She’s featured btw in a new DVD, “Women of Dirt,” that will premiere in Seattle Feb. 5th.

3. On the road side, how high can Tyler Farrar go? The Wenatchee lad put his stamp on pro sprint competition with a number of impressive showings in 2009, and only a bullet named Mark Cavendish stood in his way for a Tour stage win or two. It’ll be a tall order to beat the Manx Missile, but if anyone has the tools and moxy, it’s a one-year-wiser Farrar.

Flyboys will like it

Stevens Pass Mountain Bike Park: Great things in store

4. Stevens Pass mountain bike park. This has been on the books for what seems like forever, but with release of a sweeping Environmental Impact Statement in December looks ready to finally roll. During the mountain bike season thousands of Seattle-area riders go to Whistler B.C.’s MTB park; it’s time that money and those resources stayed in Washington. Stevens won’t be another Whistler out of the gate of course, but its closer proximity and potential for expansion hold huge promise for the locals.

5. Mayor Mike McGinn’s cycling agenda.
We have big hopes for Seattle’s new cycling mayor and the city’s cycling blueprint. Not that everything will change overnight, but McGinn truly appreciates the bicycle’s role in urban transportation networks, and from his insights and leadership we believe Seattle could emerge as the leading bike municipality in America (currently held by Portland). If nothing else, the mayoral gas bill is sure to shrink from his predecessor’s SUV-hoggin’ totals.

6. Helmet cams rock on. We’re seeing these things everywhere, on freeriders, XC epics, roadie rides. The technology has finally improved to the point where wireless and HD are de facto in new models, plus battery advances mean lighter, less bulky units. The downside is a lot of trail video showing the backside of a guy in front. But for a personal record of your big adventures with virtually no fiddle factor, you can’t beat a helmet cam.

7. More comeback from Lance Armstrong.
The “Lance factor” played a big role in cycling’s expansion through the 2000s and it looks like at least through the coming year Lance will continue to draw headlines. We don’t expect Lance to win, say, the Tour de France, but somehow just being in the race makes him the winner, at least in the American public’s mind. A host of other pro cyclists have more power and ability than Lance at this point in his career, but until someone with enough charm and charisma emerges to take his place, Lance will remain King.

8. Cross-country mountain biking,
too, makes a comeback. This may sound weird, but the signals we’re getting from shops, riders and tour agencies is that the mountain-bike-park thing is starting to flip. (This despite all the excitement over Stevens’ opening.) A new generation of riders whose longest climbs involved a chairlift are going for lighter, longer-distance frames and equipment as a whole new matrix of high-country riding awaits their discovery. Old-timers like us just nod in amusement. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s work on South Snoqualmie Fork trails will pay off in 2010.

9. The economy continues to hammer the bike biz. 2009 totals aren’t available yet, but data through the third quarter suggest a 10 to 20 percent pullback on sales and profit. While much of that is in high-end equipment, and isn’t catastrophic on an annual basis, it nonetheless threatens the sustainability of numerous smaller shops and businesses. Our gut sense is that things will continue — using a bike suspension term — to wallow through 2010, neither much worse nor much better. Only a turnaround in the jobs picture, which will put more people on bikes for transportation and give them discretionary spending for bling and trips, will signal any upside for cycling.

10. Northwest freeride expansion continues. In addition to whatever Stevens Pass comes up with, Galbraith Mountain will undoubtedly continue its march to world-classdom with its ever-expanding, more challenging trails network. Kudos to all the gang up in Bellingham who do such a great job on Galby. Closer to Seattle, Evergreen’s work on Duthie Hill outside of Issaquah is getting all kinds of props. And Evergreen’s Colonnade mini-park under I-5 will remain the best place to sharpen skillz — watch for it in forthcoming DVD format as well.

Duthie Hill from Walter Yi on Vimeo.

Daily Roundup: New bike legislation! Ellipti-wha? Logan Owen can ride! Fuita reg open, LA bike plan where?

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Obama Bikes on December 30, 2009 at 9:37 am

Anyone who has worked for bicycle advocacy knows how hard it is to get any legislation passed whatsoever involving freakin’ bicycles. So it was with drop-jaw wonderment that we noticed a new law expanding bicyclist rights in 2010. That’s right. In Big Bear, it is now perfectly legal to ride a bike without a bicycle seat, as long as the bicycle was designed to be ridden that way. As the article notes, the California State Highway Patrol is ready to enforce this law, starting now!

And they say progress is hard…

A common mistake we can all relate to: Guy tries to ride a bike across a frozen river, falls in, nearly drowns. “I thought I could bunny hop the soft spots,” he told rescuers. (Nah I made that last part up.) One lucky dude…

OK, I admit it: This kid can ride a bike. You take one look and you know, this kid can ride a bike!

Eliiptiquoi? Here’s a bike that enables you to run while you pedal. Why would you want to do that, you ask? Why not just run when you wanna run and bike when you wanna bike? We admit to being stumped. When we were triathloning back in the day, the whole idea was that running was good for your cycling and cycling was good for your running and swimming was good for … absolutely nothing at all. Swimming was useless. But “tri” means “three” so there had to be something.

There’s no seat on these things. And although the marketing copy says they can climb, I’d like to take one up, say, Bolinas Road before I believe it. As for passing racing bikes on the flats … well, good for a laugh anyway.

The one thing about the Elliptigo that does make sense is keeping the running muscles in shape without the pounding on pavement. I gave up running when my back and knees started feeling it … so who knows? Fruita Fat Tire Festival registration is O-P-E-N! If Los Angeles is going to all the trouble to have a Bicycle Plan, why can’t it at least get copies to its libraries?

Mountain Bike Action: Eric Carter’s plea to Los Angeles to consider bikes in its park plan. “This simple machine I believe saved my life.”

Lance’s Chances: Not the team leader, you say??

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on December 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Whatever else you can say about Lance Armstrong, and we do a lot and often, he’s a master of public relations. He is helped along by the fact the bike press seems to have no institutional memory, but Lance spins as well off the cranks as on.

The latest: “Lance says he will not be Team RadioShack’s main rider,” from the widely watched, respected, and linked Guardian. Now the Guardian, to be fair, is not the bike press and perhaps can be forgiven. But really, Lance not “the main rider” of ANY team Lance is on? Puhleez.

It should be noted off the top that nowhere does Lance actually say what the headline says. What Lance did say is that it would be “irresponsible” to build TRS (techie aside: Remember those initials? As in the TRS-80, or Trash 80 as we unaffectionately nicknamed it?) around him. OK, fair enough: Parse the statement out and it’s more or less true. You want other potential winners on the team, which was not the case back when Lance was riding for Discovery Channel and U.S. Postal.

But parse it any way you want: It doesn’t mean he won’t be the “main rider.” I suppose you could split hairs about what “main rider” means, so let’s put it in simplest terms. Main rider means the focal point of the team, the team leader, the chief strategist, the guy everyone looks to for direction. No disrespect to Levi or Andreas or whomever, those guys are not going to be TRS’s “main rider” as long as Lance is in town.

What you have to keep in mind here is that Lance, at this point in the 2010 season (yeah it’s early, as in 2009), wants to get everyone on his side and on the same page. He also wants to deflect attention away from himself for the sake of team building. Kudos on those fronts.

We went through this same poor-mouthing a year ago, when there was no way Lance was going for a Tour victory, and there was no way Alberto Contador was not going to be Astana’s “main rider.” The next thing we knew there was the famous breakaway in Stage 3 and all hell broke loose.

We don’t blame Lance for gullible news reports. It’s up to the press to reality-check his truth massaging. But we’re not going to spend too much time between now and July 2010 trying to figure out who, if not Lance, will be Team Radio Shack’s main rider.

As the VeloNews version noted, after taking the same bait as the Guardian, team director Johann Bruyneel admitted, “Lance is definitely the leader of the team.” Lance says he’ll race for two more years.

Why Lance is always Da Leadah!!

Daily Roundup: Video detection for cyclists, Lemond-Trek update, Lance trains on mtb, Million Car Challenge, Happy Birthday Jacquie!

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on December 9, 2009 at 3:16 am

Innovative use of signal-mounted cameras to automatically change light to green when cyclists are at intersection. Santa Clarita CA, named in 2007 a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, has requested $390,564 to fund a “Bicycle Video Detection Project.”

VeloNews: More on the LeMond—Trek legal spat, this time with backstory of Greg dissing Lance.

The secret is out! Lance and his new Team Radio Shack are training on mountain bikes!
: The Million Car Challenge to allow bikes to use the full right lane.

Happy birthday Jacquie Phelan!

This Day in Doping: Seattle’s Kenny Williams banned for 2 years

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on December 5, 2009 at 5:18 pm

As we wrote earlier, longtime Seattle cycling figure Kenny Williams confessed to using DHEA, pretty much indicating he’d have to face the music. It’s a shame, and we trust in Kenny’s case it will serve as a lesson. He’ll lose his 3000 metre individual pursuit and kilometre time trial titles from August. His victory in the 40-44 3000 metre individual pursuit was an unofficial world record.

Younger amateurs hopefully will think twice. But doping is so ingrained, financially and politically as well as athletically, it also seems a shame that, coincidentally or not (we think the latter), the lesser names get the lion’s share of penalization.

That said, we still think there’s more to the Williams situation than has been disclosed so far. Another part of the hypocrisy of the system is to brush over details even as penalties are meted out. “Unnamed anabolic agent”? Really? Why the obfuscation?

Drunk cyclist has more. See comments queue.