Category Archives: cycling

George Hincapie is breaking my heart

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The Tour de France, so far, has been just a heartbreak for those of us who wanted Discovery to prove that they were really a team of genius and that George Hincapie could go from being a strong presence in the classics to being the great man of the tour, at least for a year. I ride around town in a Phonak jersey (dating back to when Tyler Hamilton was still innocent), but I really liked Discovery and was rooting for them. But after yesterday’s second mountain stage, which blew George out the back, it’s clear that Discovery isn’t going to be the team this year.

Phonak, however, may be another story. Floyd Landis has had an incredible spring – particularly for someone who has just revealed that his hip will be traded in after this race. Floyd’s the prototypical bike racer – teen rebel (against Mennonite parents; note to Al Trautwig: Mennonites and Amish ain’t the same thing. Duh.), crazy obsessed with riding, strong supporter of a legendary leader (Lance) who has now fallen out with him, went off to play support on Phonak only to find himself suddenly team leader when Hamilton was suspended for doping. (In cycling, suspensions last for at least two years, and under new rules, four – unlike the several games that baseball players are obliged to sit out.) I like Floyd’s story, and I think he truly is going to prove himself one of the great riders of our time – but there’s a certain sourness to his disposition that can be off-putting to a fan, whereas George is right out of central casting, cut right from the Lou Gehrig mold. And while Floyd’s American, Phonak isn’t an American team (they’re Swiss), and we really need Discovery to be successful to prove to other sponsors that there is room for another major American-based team on the UCI circuit.

Aside: sponsors in pro bike racing are an motley collection. Here in the States, we expect our sports sponsors to be the big national and multinational companies with all kinds of dollars to spare and spread across the sport. They’re cigarettes and beer and maybe some food – stuff that they could be trying to sell to anyone watching the event. In bike racing, teams are sponsored by a hearing aid company (Phonak), the Basque telephone system (Euskaltel), HVAC makers (Lampre and Saunier Duval), flooring (QuickStep) and, in the past, a concrete maker (Fassa Bortolo). T-Mobile is about the only sponsor other than Discovery Channel that would be recognizable to Americans. For a while, the Balearic Islands government sponsored their own team (they’re now a sub-sponsor). Given that, it doesn’t seem like it would be that much of a stretch for another American outfit to sponsor a UCI team. I mean, don’t we have any vain metal foundries that want their names plastered across Europe for nothing more than the glory of the sport, the hope that some young crazy rider will break away from the pack for 100 km and the sponsor’s name will be beamed across the globe for as long as that rider can stay away from the peloton? Apparently not.

End of aside. I wait all year for this event, surely the greatest sporting event on the planet, three weeks of grueling competition – crazy stages where riders go for five or six hours and then battle it out at the finish line for gaps of less than inches, mountain stages where you can watch the strongest man suddenly crack, where you can see the lights go out and the engine die as what looked like the best man in the pack suddenly slide off the back and find himself half an hour behind in a race that will likely be decided by minutes or even seconds. Points competitions, wild breakaways, bad crashes, and that silly Credit Lyonnais stuffed lion being thrust out from behind the scrim into the waiting hands of a podium girl. There’s nothing like it on earth.

River Street

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Troy lofts 1

I’ve been putting much more effort into my photos than my writing lately. But you knew that.

Had to fill up my tank tonight, the first time since Labor Day. Riding my bike to work, even though it’s only a few miles, has made a huge difference. Plus, we’re not just shooting out to the malls or anything like that. I don’t even shoot out to the Stewart’s unless it’s absolutely necessary. But we’re going away this weekend, and I thought it might be wise to gas up before the prices start getting jacked up tomorrow because of Lovely Rita Meter Maid.

Biking to work is not without excitement. The initial part of the ride is easy, a couple quick uphills and then a long downhill sweep to the river. I go a little bit out of my way to take advantage of some extremely sweet new pavement, then swing around the train station to catch a left so I don’t have to cross traffic to get onto the Dunn Memorial Bridge. Dodge some glass on the way across (DOT does a great job cleaning it, but man do people break a lot of bottles on that thing), slide on down the other side, and then things get interesting. I have to either bounce in on Broadway, rough pavement and lumbering buses, or I go up the bike path and swing back around on Water Street, with some very rough patches and no one expecting to find a bicycle. Good for the heart rate. The ride back home is particularly challenging, because there’s a lot of traffic getting out of the city, and there just is no right way to get to the bridge — no matter what I do, I have to hang out in a left-turning traffic lane, which pisses drivers off no end. But it’s either that or get cut off forever and never be able to get across. Pick your poison. Then, all uphill, all the way home. I arrive quite sweaty. But it has just been a beautiful September for this, and, as I mentioned, I ain’t bought no gasoline in quite a spell.

No telling what caused that slip into dialect. I can only try to prevent its recurrence.

Yesterday morning’s ride was more exciting than usual, unfortunately, as I flatted out just 2km from the house. It was the rear wheel, and there were some sizeable cuts in the tire, and I was on a bit of a deadline, so rather than fight with a tube I might or might not be able to repair on the fly, I called for the sag wagon. And called, and called. My cell was acting flaky in the extreme, and no one was picking up when it would work. But I finally got through and got rescued. Had to come home, change, get in the truck and race to work. When I got there, I had two crises going on at once and some passive-aggressive crap from my staff that didn’t sit too well as I tried to get things aligned for a critical meeting that I had to race up the Northway to get to. I actually exploded, which doesn’t happen too often. Good to put the fear of leadership in people every now and then, anyway. But the whole day went that way. Today was much improved (and I fixed the flat no problem), but I was listening to some Weakerthans tonight and heard the opening line from “Leash””Had one of those daysWhen you wanna try heroin,Drunk driving, Some form of soft suicideSitting in silence andStaring at ceilings Or peeling the paint off Of things to confide” And thought, that was so yesterday.