Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike (Like A Donkey) To Work Day

In an attempt to avoid offending any readers, I would like to begin this post by stating my long-standing support of commuting to work by bicycle and sincere wish that more people would ride every day.

With that said, I would also like to state that I pretty much hate National Bike To Work Day. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the entire thing actually makes me kind of angry on a number of levels.

Primarily, I get frustrated that this is the only day of the year during which I will see 99% of these people. But after some thought (as well as nearly getting taken out by a gaggle of ignorant and dangerous “commuters” on both morning and lunch rides), I have realized that this may not be a bad thing.

Note to all of those unfamiliar with cycling lingo: “On Your Left” means that I am going to pass you “on your left.” This dictates that you should move to your right – where you should have been to begin with. Apparently there are a lot of people who do not know their right from left out there.

Unfortunately, I have unwittingly stumbled upon Bike To Work Day over the last few years while on my near-daily ride to the Lab and may actually plan on driving to work next year instead. It will probably be safer than attempting to navigate the bike routes and numerous helmet-less donkeys populating them on this one day of the year. Seriously, I saw more people almost crash or get hit by cars this morning than I have in the other 364 days of the year combined. This can’t be a good thing can it?

Here is my Hypothesis:

Bike To Work Day may actually harm the overall image of bicycle commuters.


On a normal day, there are a handful of bicycle commuters who are accustomed to riding safely in traffic and generally respect the rules of the road or bike path. For the most part, these cyclists portray a positive, healthy and environmentally conscious image. I, for one, am proud to consider myself a member of this group.

The reason I mention this is because it is critical to differentiate the people that actually commute on a regular basis from those individuals who take this one day of the year to dust off their potentially un-roadworthy bikes and cause mayhem on the roads and paths of our country.

Does anyone else think that it may be slightly problematic to have a single day in which the number of bicycle commuters increases by a factor of 10? And the overwhelming majority of the increase consists of dangerously unsafe people who rarely, if ever, ride their bikes? Call me crazy but this just seems like a recipe for disaster and frustration – for both drivers and other cyclists alike.

If my feelings and those which I inferred from the faces of the many annoyed drivers I encountered this morning are any indication, National Bike To Work Day may as well be called “A Year of Responsible Commuting and Road Sharing Efforts Diminished by a Bunch of People Who Don’t Represent the Cause or Have to Deal with the Consequences Day.”

I truly hope that some people actually convert into “real” commuters because of Bike To Work Day. And I really hope that the image of bicycle commuters as a whole is not degraded by the actions of the many people who treat this as a holiday and not a way of life.

I would like to conclude by extending my apologies to anyone who may feel insulted by some of these comments. I’m sorry that you don’t have a helmet, a safe bike or a basic understanding of traffic and bike path safety. Trust me, I do feel bad about that. But in the words of Snoop Dogg, “Don’t get mad. I’m only being real.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reading Between The Headlines

Understanding that I have been out of the Current Events loop for a while, this seems like a good opportunity to go back over a few recent headlines, courtesy of more reputable sources than myself. So here we go, in no particular order...seriously:

"Time's Eric Barlevav wins the 35th annual Harlem Classic in a photo finish - then crashes."

To use someone else’s phrase, that was so NOT Pro. What did Saunders have to say after the poor guy finished his “victory” lap? The ultimate “Yes, Yes, Yes! No!” moment. Awesome. I hope Barlevav does big things and we can re-live this moment over and over again.

"Phinney posts world pursuit mark"

Genetics + Environment + Motivation/Urgency = An Olympic Medal?

"Valverde claims Dauphine crown"

I could have sworn someone said that Valverde won the TT over Levi and Cadel Evans. They were kidding right? Guess not. Then I heard that Balaverde (hereby nominated for the Stupid Nickname Hall of Fame/Shame) won a sprint over Thor Hushovd on the first stage in addition to crushing everyone in the TT and then held every wheel he needed to in the mountains. Again, that can’t be true can it?

Everyone else better hope he’s peaking too soon or else July could see the latest of a growing list of Spanish Tour de France champions. Pereiro still doesn’t count though.

Levi Leipheimer: "I just had a bad moment”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just say that at work when something bad happens?

“Sorry the deal fell through Boss. I just had a bad moment.”

"High Road to become Team Columbia"

I may just have to dust off my old Whirlibird parka from High School in honor of the new sponsorship. That jacket was rad.

Now the pressure is on Slipstream to get a major sponsor. Perhaps Vans or Bugle Boy to complete my retro-closet collection?

"Armstrong, Sutherland wrap up NVGP titles"

What’s the over/under on how many granola bars the average Nature Valley racer eats throughout this race? 20? 50? 200? I love those things.

"TdF, Amgen Tour partner on promotions"

Random Fact: The co-founder of Amgen was a professor at the University of Colorado and has a home near Chataqua Park that may sell for $22 million. Reports that Pat McQuaid is the current high-bidder have not been confirmed.

All I have to say is that there would be riots in the streets of Santa Rosa if they don’t invite Levi to the Tour of California next year.

"Day earns Olympic BMX slot"

And if anyone see my green Schwinn Predator that got stolen in front of the Der Wienerschnitzel on East Blithedale and Camino Alto in Mill Valley in 1987…please let me know. I’m still mad about it.

"Sorensen conquers La Toussuire"

I hope everyone has a chance to see Soensen’s victory salute on this stage. First he does one of the coolest things ever and makes a fly fishing gesture, like he’s reeling in the finish. But then he almost loses the catch and nearly decks it across the line.

Not even close to the Harlem finish in the “Yes, Yes, Yes! No!” contest though.

"U.S. Olympic road hopefuls awaiting selection to Beijing"

It’s like USA Cycling is giving riders the Astana/Giro Treatment. Oh wait, I guess that worked out okay. So…whatever. They should narrow it down a bit more at this point don’t you think?

"Cyclists and Dodge City"

Essential reading for those in the evil “Boulder Cycling Community” from the Sheriff of Larimer County’s blog.

The fact that the Sheriff of Larimer County has a blog kind of makes me want to throw my computer away. Sadly, I think he speaks for much of his constituency.

"UCI suspends French federation - Riders and events remain unaffected"

Way to make a statement UCI. That’ll teach those Frenchies to behave.

"ProTour adds Russian tour"

So now we have a Tour of Qatar and a Tour of Russia. Sweet. I am really looking forward to the Tour of Bangladesh next year.

"Boonen's apology over cocaine positive won't get him into the Tour"

It would have been embarrassing for Astana if they found out that an apology was all it took to get back in the ASO’s good graces.

Tornado Tom is saying that he got spiked at a club though which is pretty sketchy. I think the prospect of an elite athlete getting sabotaged is quite real. Can you say “Big Brown?”

Regardless, no defending Yellow or Green Jersey winners at the Tour this year. Thank goodness we have Mauricio Soler to fill the void left by Contador and Boonen. Oh…

"Plans uncertain as former world champ takes a break"

“Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.” – Brian Fantana, Anhorman.

"Hincapie takes Dauphine stage"

But couldn’t get the jersey zipped up in time. I’m thinking Melanie’s husband gets another stage win at the Tour. And he’ll have time to post up for the new sponsor – Team Columbia Green and Purple Whirlibird Parka circa 1990.

"Saxo Bank signs on with Team CSC"

I cannot wait for the first time Phil Liggett or Bob Roll calls them “Team Sexy Back.” I hear that Bob is a massive Justin Timberlake fan. Ever since he did “D*** In A Box” on SNL.

"CSC's Breschel wins Philly"

Yeah, yeah Euro guy won but who was the first American? Oh, I guess that doesn’t mean quite as much anymore.

I’m just happy that no one from the Amore & Vita-McDonalds team won so we wouldn’t have to bear the sight of that kit again. Metlushenko is legit though.

"Leipheimer wins Dauphiné prologue"

Do you think Levi almost resents having good form leading into July? It’s going to be murder on the Sonoma County group rides when Levi shows up after watching Robert Gesink and Haimar Zubeldia fight for a possible podium spot on the morning VS coverage.

"Johan Bruyneel releases book, launches Web site re-design"

Is Johan a web designer too? I think the book is called “How To Win Bike Races: Hire the Best Bike Racers In The World.” It’s one page long and the forward is written by Phil Jackson.

"Contador eyes grand tour sweep with Vuelta"

I still stand by my description of his style as being similar to a “crazed spider monkey on a bicycle.” But I now stand significantly more impressed. This kid is for real.

"Bouygues Telecom ends Boonen negotiations"

Yeah, they’re probably better off with Voeckler and all the other charismatic stars on Boogie Telecom. Maybe one of Tom’s supporters did him a favor by dosing his drink after they got an image of their hero in that baby blue French kit.

"WADA Gene Doping Symposium calls for greater awareness"

Okay, good meeting folks. Glad you got that cleared up for us. Isn’t the fact that there is a Symposium on the topic an indication of at least some awareness?

"McEwen mouths off in Switzerland"

Leave it to The Rocket to actually fire F-Bombs at not only the race and the organization, but the entire country of Switzerland as well. Awesome.

But really, who has a problem with Switzerland? Maybe Robbie is lactose intolerant and can’t tell time or something. If that were the case, I could see how it would be a frustrating country.

I am all about chocolate, cheese and watches though so I have nothing but love for Switzerland. Although I still don’t think we should have to pay full price for Swiss cheese. But that’s another topic.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Thousand Words

Through the magical powers of the Interweb, I have recently been in e-contact with a number of people whom I have not spoken to in many years. Now, most of these people knew me in high school and college, during a period of my life when I was rarely, if ever, seen more than a few feet from my bike. As such, one of the first questions often asked is “Are you still cycling?”

The short verbal answer to this question is “Yes.” Longer verbal answers usually follow but I thought this might be a good opportunity to let a few choice pictures respond to some similar questions with a bit less clarity and a little more humor.

Q: "Are you still cycling?"
A: "Yes, I'm still cycling. But I'm carrying a few more pounds these days."
Q: "Are you still racing?"
A: "Not much anymore, but I still train and commute as much as possible."
Q: "Do you ever do any spin classes?"
A: "No."

Q: "Are you still a biker?"
A: "I suppose it depends on your definition."
Q: "Have you been in any more bike accidents?"
A: "A few."

Q: "Are you still wearing your helmet?"
A: "Always. You never know what could happen out there."

Q: "Do you ever go for rides with your cat, Cosmo?"

A: "No, not with Cosmo."

In addition to the standard questions seen above, I have also gotten some strange ones recently as well. It's funny what people can come up with after a decade or so without contact.

Q: "Was Jan Ullrich guilty or not?"

A: "If you mean guilty of wearing full-length matching velvet jackets with his girlfriend, then yes. Yes, he most certainly was."

Q: "Where you on the winning Japanese World Series team?"
A: "Yes, in fact I was. How did you recognize me?"

Q: "Do you still like karate movies?"

A: "Yes, but only if the action is authentic. As well as the hairstyles."

Okay, I hope that get's everyone updated on the important things. As we know, a picture is worth a thousand words. They might all be wrong, but there's at least a thousand of them in each of these shots.

More on the Giro, Philly and the Dauphine coming soon...I promise.