Bike Doctor Frederick’s Grand Fondue 2012

The Bike Doctor Frederick’s Grand Fondue will take in some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in Frederick County.

Hey, if you are reading this in 2013, head over to our 2013 fondue page.  This article is about last year’s Fondue.  So go here, now: https://bikedoctorfrederick.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/grand-fondue-part-deux/

When we heard the Grand Fondo ‘National Championship’ was coming to Frederick, we were pretty excited.  A Grand Fondo, those big semi-race group rides with opulent eats, cheering crowds, celeb cameos, and a go fast attitude, could bring national exposure to how good our riding really is.  We have heard numerous friends say they are signed up to go test themselves against hundreds of other riders.  The spirit of the ride is friendly competition, and I am sure the day will bring plenty of game faces.  But at the shop we had a thought.  What about a ride that is just about riding good roads, and not about killing someone on a climb?  We already do these on a regular basis, but how about trying to get more people out on a like minded ride?  Incentives were needed.  Food.  Drink.  Scenery.  Maybe a band.  Also, a really cheap entry fee.  A no-profit venture.  Races are pricey.  100-150 bucks for a day of riding.  What about a big ride that costs riders 15 bucks?  That’s what we’re talking about!

Our Grand Fondue is about eating and riding.  Ride a huge ride, come back to a scenic winery in Middletown for a communal fondue cookup, and wash it all back with some Merlot and Mead.  Andre, who works at our shop, is also part owner of theOrchid Cellar, a family owned Winery that specializes in traditional and contemporary meads.  The Orchid Cellar will be hosting the after party, where riders can grab some food, sample some wine, and enjoy a beautiful valley overlook.  The Orchid Cellar will be unveiling its 2011 Merlot at the after party.

The Grand Fondue Frederick is going to be a beautiful but hard ride.  There will be gobs of climbing, dirt roads, and then more climbing.  Nothing will be timed, there will be no winners.  It’s going to be a challenging but relaxed ride, an easy pace to ease the legs through the terrain.  We’ll take in some of the finest and smallest roads in Frederick County.  Even the short ride is going to be challenging, even with 1/3 of the miles and 1/3 of the elevation.  Don’t worry though, even the short ride has some fantastic scenery and barely travelled roads.

Here’s some details:

What: Two rides: a 30ish mile ride, hard but not super long, and a 99.9 miler, really hard, and really long.

When: October 28th, the last Sunday in October.
Big ride starts from the Orchid Cellar at 7am, so get there earlier to sign a waver and give us money, if you didn’t in advance.  At the latest, get there at 6.30.  Why the early start time?  So no one has to bring headlights…
The shorter ride will leave from the Orchid Cellar at 12.  Again, get there earlier.  There will be a mechanic on hand if you have minor issues with your bike.  He won’t have cables, housing, chains, tires or cassettes.  We are talking basic stuff: tighten this, loosen that.  This is a cheap event, and we wanna keep it that way.  If you have doubts as to whether your bike can handle the ride, get it into the shop at least a week prior to the event.
It’s hilly, and the pace will be decidedly relaxed, so it’s not like we are gunna knock this out in 2 hours.

Who:  The Bike Doctor Frederick and The Orchid Cellar are hosting this event.  Because this is a winery, you need to bring an ID with you if you want to partake.  This isn’t a 21+ event, and we have to card because of that.

How Much:  The entry fee is really reasonable.  The support on the ride therefor is minimal.  We’ll go into what to bring in a minute here but first the cost…
$15 and some cheese.  Yeah, some cheese.  The fondue is going to be communal, and everyone has to pitch in some good cheese to melt up.  Bring some Swiss or Gruyer, about a half pound per person.  We’ll cook it up so it’s ready to eat when you get back.

What does my 15 bucks get me?  
Two glasses of either Merlot or Mead, a cool commemorative glass to take home, access to the fondue pot, and fondue based desert.  We’re also talking to a few local bands about coming out to play.  There will be a few sag wagons, but KNOW YOUR LIMITS.  If 11,000 feet of climbing sounds like a lot, it is.  The riding will be hard, even if the pace is not.  There will be gravel and dirt roads.  Challenges galore.  Please sign up for the appropriate ride for your abilities.  Remember, even the short ride will be rad!  We’ll have a mechanic who is roving around, but he will be minimally equipped.

What to bring:  This part is going to sound preachy, but it contains the important nuggets, so bear with me. A bike with low enough gears to get you through a big HILLY ride.  Water.  Lots of food, including something to get you through if you start to bonk.  That means Gu or some other sort of energy Gel.  Appropriate clothing.  We’ll be huffing up huge hills and coming down them pretty fast.  Sweat+steep roads=wind chill.  We won’t have spare clothing, so figure out what works and bring it.  There will be very few places to stop for additional food.  There will be only a few designated rest stops, and they will have minimal provisions: extra water, Gatorade, basic snacks.  This is not a supported century ride.  This is a big ride in the country with like minded folks.  Please bring a blinkie light, if it is overcast, starts to rain, or you just get caught out in the dark, we want you to be safe.  Spare tubes (2 per person), a patch kit and a enough C02 or a hand pump to fix at least 2 flats.  We will be on some dirt roads, so please bring a bike you will be comfortable riding on such surfaces.  If it is a road bike, get some durable 25mm tires or 28’s if they fit.  Ask in the shop if you are unclear on any of this.

How to sign up: Stop by the shop or email us.  We’ll set you up with a paypal address to pay on-line.  We need to get registration moving, so think about it this week then let us know ASAP.  bikedrfrederick(at)gmail(dot)com

We hope to see you out there!

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This week will mark one of the last Wednesday night shop rides with Brian.  The evening riding season is winding down, but he’ll be back in the spring, making you suffer on the big climbs!  Join us for the season closers this week and maybe maybe next week.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop.

Thursday evenings, while the light lasts, join the Flying Dog team for the Watershed shop ride.  Call the shop for details.  Wheels down, 5.30.

This Sunday, join us for the evening shop ride.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop.  Last week was epic.  If you missed the story, head over to our facebook page to bear witness.  This week we’ll be heading to Middletown for some dirt and a big fat climb back over the mountain.  Less miles than last week, but no less ouch!  You need to bring a really good headlight and a bright tail light.  We will be out after dark!  40ish miles.  Casual pace but lots o’ pain.

Tuesday Morning, join Andre and James at the 7th street Starbucks.  We drink some coffee, starting at 8, then go hurt ourselves on some big climbs until the early afternoon.  Casual pace, but big rides.

Picnics, Rides, and Going Custom

First things first: the Frederick Bicycle Coalition is having its annual pot luck picnic this Sunday.  If you are free, come on out.  Rides will be leaving in the morning, and then a lunch with burgers, veggie dogs, and adult beverages, all served up at the Gambrill State Park Tea Room.  There will be rides lead by local singlespeed legend Joe Whitehair, a gravel road ride lead by me, James, a normal non-painful road ride lead by our friend Mike Wali, and a downhill thing lead by Hillary Elgert. Details at FrederickBicycleCoalition.com   Here’s the flier, in case you are more of a visual learner.

It’s been a while since we’ve had time to write to you, and we’re sorry about that.  We’re going through a transition at the shop, with John Harrison leaving to make loads more money, and John S. leaving Sundays to go race ‘cross for the season.  We wish them both loads of luck with those things!  John H’s wife made us a cake for his last day at the shop.  She works at Charm City Cakes, which is the place to go if you want a delicious and really good looking custom cake.  They are like the Bike Doctor of the cake world.  Here’s a pic, in case you missed it on facebook.

Erica’s cake magic. We ate maybe 50% of on day one, and we think Zach maybe ate the other 50% on day two…

John has a custom Waterford 650b bike frame we are going to build up for him hanging in the shop.  It just has a headset on it so far, but stay tuned while we build it up.  It’s going to be pretty sharp. Here’s a sneak peek:

John H’s 650b lugged Waterford. He had a special fork crown brazed on. The frame can clear huge 44mm tires and fenders, so it’s made for some hard riding!

Speaking of custom, we’ve had a few custom builds roll through the shop recently.  We need to get way better at documenting them, because they all look great.  Here’s a few shots, apologies for quality of image, some are better than others!

Dan’s CAAD 10

Dan the Elder build up this custom Cannondale CAAD 10 w/ Bike Doctor’s 2012 paint scheme.  A super light alloy frame mated to a full carbon fork.  He went with SRAM Rival bits for the drivetrain, and some rad 3T cockpit parts.  Fizik saddle and Ultegra pedals round out the package.  He already had a few touringish bikes, and this guy satisfies his need for speed.

Mike P’s Karate Monkey punk rock action

Mike P was sick of beating the snot out of his Dual Suspension bike.  So he got all punk rock minimalist and had us put this Karate Monkey together for him.  One gear.  No suspension.  Fat tires at a low pressure, and big old bars to muscle up the hills.  24 lbs of tough steel love.  We handbuilt the wheels and spec’d only tough stuff through out.  He’s trying tubeless for the first time, and we think he’ll dig it!

Dico’s Gucci singlespeed project.

Dico wanted light, unique and tough.  Brian spec’d out this ode to minimalist excess in the form of a Custom Seven Singlespeed Frame with a Whiskey full carbon fork.  I9 wheels round out the package.  This thing is a one gear rocket.  Seven, for the record, offers a variety of Ti frame options, and does a good tig welded steel frame as well.

Gregg S’s Salsa Casseroll. Gregg wanted a good gravel road bike for some light touring.

Gregg’s Casseroll, not quite finished.  He wanted a solid all rounder with a minimum of future maintenance.  A lifer bike, in short.  We spec’d only the best: Nitto stem and seat post, White Industries rear hub, Mavic rims, Paul Brakes, and a Schmidt Light and Generator Hub.  He already reported back from the first ride: “Picked up the bike this morning and took it straight to Church & Market where I began the three covered bridge ride from the FBC (web)site. It was 45
miles of very happy cycling.”  That’s what we like to hear, Gregg!

Gunnar demo set up

Here is a blurry pic of our not yet complete Gunnar Sport.  This guy will clear 26mm tires and fenders or 32 mm tires w/o fenders.  We built it up using handbuilt by Zach wheels, 105 shifters and mechs, and a pretty retro styled front crank.  Brooks saddle of course…  This gravel monster will be ready to demo really soon, so come sign up.

There are at least 3 more of these guys, including Mark S’s heavily modified Madone pass hunting bike, that will have to wait for the next post, because I am outta time!

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Upcoming group rides: Frederick Bicycle Coalition Picnic rides on Sunday mean there are no group rides Sunday, besides that one.

Wednesday:  Hill ride with Brian.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

Thursday meet the Team Flying Dog guys and Brian for a spin through the Frederick Watershed.  The ride is hard, but the pace is taylored to attendees, and they won’t cook you unless you want it.  Meet at the Maintenance shed at the foot of the dirt part of Mountaindale Road.  Wheels down at 5.30.

Additional notes… are you even still reading this?

We will be resuming our clinics soonish, but right now we are still way too busy.  What are you looking for in clinics? let us know via comments!

Do you have a story you want to submit to the blog?  Send it to us at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com.  We’d love to see it.  Pictures with stories help!

Bike Racing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

big crowds in downtown Frederick

This past Saturday saw downtown Frederick packed with people.  They were mushed together on the sidewalk, shoulder to shoulder.  Jammed together as if some great spectacle were about to unfold.  And indeed, 25 cyclists were about to race around downtown Frederick, in a criterium style race.  For those not in the know, a criterium, or crit for short, is a timed, hour long race.  The racing takes place on a small closed course, often in an urban environment.  There are plenty of hard corners, sprint points, little hills, and usually, a few crashes.  It is, in short, a great spectator sport.  You can see the racers go by a number of times, and if you stand in the right location, one can usually see a fair amount of the course.

These 25 brave cyclists lined up at the start line sporting unique outfits and unique mounts.  The look was 1880, and the bikes were vintage and reproduction high wheelers, also known as penny farthings.  Big bikes with huge front wheels and tiny rear wheels.  At best a rudimentary front brake.  Solid rubber tires.  Hard to handle, harder to race.  A bike made for history buffs who live on the edge.

1886 in LA. Obviously they are on their way for a No Whip Soy Latte with extra vanilla.

The crowds were huge.  The weather was perfect.  There was cheering, clapping and laughing.  The tone race was fun.  Riders catered to the crowd, with tricks, outrageous outfits and big smiles.  Each lap went by quickly, and there was always something to see.  I am sure downtown Frederick pulled in a bunch of money, as the race ended dinner time.  I was watching with a knot of cyclists, and all of us were saying how this boded really well for future races in Frederick City, something that has only ever been tried out, on a much smaller scale in Baker Park.  We knew that we could point to this event with pride, a prime example of how a race should and could be run.  It was ammo for our future arguments!

Eric Rhodes, on the left there, organized the event.

Then tragedy struck.  Final lap, racers exhausted but pushing it.  Two wheels touched, and Alison Tropey, a racer sporting a flashy green jockey outfit was on the ground, having fallen from her high perch onto the curb in a high speed corner.  Assistance was immediate, but the injury severe.  She was flown out to a shock trauma center in Baltimore.  Condition Critical.  I heard today that she was going to be released with the next few days, after a few tests, but the general outlook is positive.  Seeing Alison on the ground made my heart wrench.  I watched from 20 feet away as she was loaded onto a stretcher.  She was perfectly still, to the point where we assumed she had been knocked cold by the impact.  She was, for the record, wearing a contemporary helmet.

Alison is an experienced rider.  Her antique bike is a hard beast to handle, but we watched her ride it with aplomb for a solid hour.  Her accident was just that, an accident.  In any race situation there is the possibility for such an incident to occur.  Racers have to sign wavers to that end.  They know what they are getting into, 100%.  But none of this allays the pain we feel on a human level.  And none of it will matter when we bring up all of the good things about the race to the city in the future.  The crash is a moral black spot on a grand day, and an otherwise highly successful race.  When future races are proposed, anyone could shut it down, just by bringing up that crash.  It doesn’t matter that people are killed on route 15 or I-270 on a semi routine basis.  It doesn’t matter that you can trip on the sidewalk and get a very similar injury as Alison.

Every time someone gets creamed on a bicycle by a car, it scares 20 people off of the roads.  A week doesn’t go by when we hear about someone who is afraid of the road because they saw X or Y article about a bike fatality.  Bicycle crash stories are blown way out of proportion.  They are different than car crashes, and it’s easy for people who don’t ride to get riled up about them.  Statistical context is everything however, and bicycling is statistically way safer than walking, running, boating, hiking or driving.  In Maryland, 1.3 people out of every million are killed on a bike each year.  In 2010, nationwide, 32,885 people died in cars.  618 died on bikes.   The majority of those injuries happened at rush hour, in urban environments.  The riders typically were in their early 40’s.  Commuters, in other words.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not tell you whose fault the accident was, just that it happened, leaving you to make your own guesses as to who was on their cell phone when the accident went down.

I hope city and county officials are going to be able to look behind Alison’s unfortunate wreck.  We wish her the best, and we have our fingers crossed for the future of cycling events in Frederick as well.

Who you jivin’ with that Cosmik Debris?

Zappa clears the room of Cosmik Debris

If you were going to get a friend who only listens old time country into rock and roll, you would not make them a Frank Zappa mixtape.  It would be hard to listen to, confusing, annoying, and cheezy, often all at once.  You would not lend them your stack of Lou Reed’s wandering 70’s output, nor would you let them borrow your treasured tarnished copy of King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon.  You don’t convert people to your cause by giving them the most outrageous, over the top intro you possibly can.  You slowly indoctrinate them, and when they are hooked, well into the indoctrination process, that’s when its ok to pull out all the stops.

I’m talking about lyrca.  Flashy helmets.  Carbon bikes, click in shoes.  Long horrible climbs in the heat of summer.  Heart Rate monitors.  When you want someone to get into cycling, get them into the fun part first, so they get to know how enjoyable a bike can be.  Here’s how:

-Dress down.  Looking like a cyclist might make you feel fast, but it also makes the ride seem like it’s all business, and will be conducted at a fast uncomfortable pace.  Dress like you are going to a barbeque.  Wear normal shoes and use normal pedals.  Tell them to do the same, the tight pants can come later, if ever.

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Sander rocks the BBQ picnic look on an old, decrepit Trek single speed with horrible brakes.

-Pick a low traffic, super scenic route, without a ton of hills.  People seem to love covered bridges, so that’s an idea.  The ride, traffic wise, has to be as non-threatening as possible.  And if it just goes by a bunch of boring stuff, it will be blah.

-Rest at the top of hills.  Look at the sky, the cows, the flowers.  Don’t stare at your slow friend as they suffer up the hill.  When they get to the top, don’t shove off immediately, give them a few minutes to get their heart rate into the low 200’s.  Offer them a snack, not magic food like a gu, but a snack.  A cookie, or half a banana.  Magic food comes later.

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takin’ a break by the river. who doesn’t like an abandoned building?

-Have a cool destination that is cheap and fun, ie Ice Cream, or an overlook, or a picnic table by a river.  Take 20 minutes and eat a sandwich, let your friend cool down.

-Let them borrow your better bike, and you ride the old crappy hybrid covered in cobwebs.  If you are riding say, a Cervelo R3, and they are riding a crappy steel French 10 speed with a mattress saddle, they are going to suffer horribly, and you are going to be riding with no effort.  Reverse that, so they can see the value of a good bike, and how easy a good bike is to ride.  If you have a bike with a basket, and one gear, perfect, that’s your bike for this ride.

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Jay rocks a handlebar bag presumably filled with cookies and heavy cameras. Andre sports huge work out shorts that he stole from the 1990’s, a cotton t shirt, and a huge custom wooden box that brings the total weight of his UNLOADED bike to 35 lbs. But the pace was casual, and everyone did well.

-Tell them it’s ok to walk, and when they get off to walk, walk with them.

-Don’t talk about training, puking, sweat, chamois butter, lactate thresholds, hill intervals or cadence.  These are applied to cycling when people get serious.  People don’t start with race ambitions, and talking about it just makes people nervous.

Not an inviting look.

-Teach them how to shift, with patience.

-Don’t watch them descend, just lead by example.  Don’t constantly look over you shoulder at how slow they are.

-Tell them how good they are doing.  Take pictures and brag about how well they did on Facebook or whatever it is you use.

-Invite them back, repeat.

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Bike Doctor Shop Rides:

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Cory, Brian is on Vacation!.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

hittin’ the trails

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

Slammed bars, sad bulldogs and the suitcase of painful paychecks.

The tour rolls around once a year and makes everyone who isn’t a pro Euro racer look like a slouch. The rolling soap opera that is the Tour speeds around France, with super fit riders riding tiny bikes in impossible aero positions.  John S., who works here, told me that Cadel Evans’ saddle to bars drop on his time trial bike was 23 centimeters.

Cadel’s position is crafted in a wind tunnel. How does it feel? See below.

That’s 9 inches, or 7.5 inches more than we would recommend to anyone in our fitting process.  He wears a skin suit so tight that riders often complain of difficulty breathing, like Victorian ladies on warm summer days.  He uses a water bottle that just has enough liquid in it so that it can be counted as a water bottle, not a liquid aero faring.  Read that again.  It’s not for drinking, its just there to make him go faster.  The man is paid to suffer.  That’s why he looks like a sad bulldog all the time.

Sad Bulldog Cadel Evans

Pros are not paid to look at the view, or to talk with their friends, or really to do anything that makes cycling enjoyable.  Often, to get more aero, they look at their front hubs, not even the road in front of them!  They are paid to go as fast as they can, no matter what.  If they go numb, or suffer tendonitus or have horrible hand pain at the end of a tour, but they won, that is what matters.  Saddle sores and foot pain are nothing compared to a paycheck and glory.

Don’t discount peer pressure.  When racing, even stateside, there is a desire to copy the fastest guys, and if they have an ultra agressive position, everyone else wants it too.  The fastest guy might do 300% more yoga, and have a lower back that is ‘strong like bear’, but there is also a copy cat environment in the peloton.  If rider A is riding a really aggressive bike, and wins, other riders will copy the position, even if it isn’t right for them.  They want to look the part, even if it means being less biomechanically efficient.  This of course makes no sense, except from a psychology standpoint. It’s all about feeling fast, apparently, not actually going fast.  There is a good amount of solid data showing that fatter tires are faster than skinnies, but loads of people still reach for the narrow tires, citing personal weight concerns, or just saying ‘it’s what i am used to’, which is like saying I am used to riding bricks around, and wish to continue, even if its less comfortable, less safe, not as fast, and harder on my race wheels.  Skinnies look fast.

So do slammed bars, and stiff aero wheels, and tons of exposed seatpost.  There are tons of blog posts and articles and comments in forums on how bad *** it looks.  Case in point, SLAM THAT STEM, a blog devoted to destroying your Ulnar Nerve.

Tom Boonen’s Spring Classics rig, taken from SLAM THAT STEM*. Do you think he won because of the position or the huge 30mm custom tires at 60psi? I’m guessing the latter. *caps lock from the blog’s title, repeated to illustrate the mentality of the author of said blog.

The sad thing with this phenomenon is how it shuts down a great place to ride: in the handlebar drops.  The vast majority of pro riders spend most of their time on the ramps and top of the bar, or hanging over the front, in a fake time trial position (needed because their bikes are too small).  When bikes are sized correctly, a few things happen.  One: you can breath better.  If you are in a horrible, crunched up position, with your diaphram completely compressed, breathing becomes a chore.  Two: the bike handles better.  Bikes are designed around certain stem lengths, and 140mm-150mm stems are outside of the projected range of what the manufacturer designed the bike around.  Wanna know why there are so many crashes in the tour?  They are going really fast and their bikes handle like a scared rabbit on crystal meth.  This does not make the bike faster, in fact, fighting the bike to keep it stable saps critical energy.

Eddy lays it out in Mexico with some long chainstays, aero Brylcreem and hand knit white socks. Gloves? Not Aero!

Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike had long, touring bike length chain stays, so he could go as fast as possible without fighting the bike, thereby putting all his energy in to going fast.  Three: you have less pressure on your soft bits. If you are crunched over, you hips are rotated and you are barely sitting on your sit bones.  We need to sit on our sit bones, not soft tissue, so that we can use our bone structure to put power to the pedals.  Soft bits are soft, and they squirm around, hardly a solid foundation to lay down some speed.  Lastly, Four: Little bikes and big riders make riders look like they are on clown bikes.  Like their parents couldn’t afford to get them the next size up.  Do we really want our heros riding circus bikes?

All of this of course relates to fitting, and if you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I don’t often plug stuff here at the shop, mainly because I am bad at it.  We do fits at the shop, we’re pretty good at it, Brian and I having done literally hundreds of them.  If you think your bike fits well, but could be a little more comfortable, or more aero, or you have an injury you are working through and want to adapt the fit, we can help you with that.  Check out our article on fitting, which is 87% complete, basically lacking in pictures and scientific looking diagrams.

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Shop rides:

It’s a huge summer o’ shop rides!

Riding thru the Wtfacolfsville valley, often visited by the Wednesday nite crew, and the Sunday nite crew.

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way. 

Tuesdays:  8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street.  45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish.  This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow.  Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.

Wednesdays:  Hill ride with Brian.  Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening.  Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again.  Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.  These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.

The women’s ride is geared toward most ages and most abilities.  It’s still a road ride, not a casual family saunter though, so bring a road bike, please!

The Tour de France vs Everything Else

The Tour is in its 99th year.  The summer race around France, with pastoral country side and towering mountains, through pouring rain and tire melting heat, draws 15 million viewers every July.  It spawns the sales of thousands of road bikes to people who would otherwise never even consider a bicycle at all.  It makes lycra ok.  Well.  Sort of.

Cipollini takes it to the limit, one more time.

Since the first edition of the Tour, raced on steel fixed gear bikes from sun up until long past dusk, riders have racked up mileage in excess of 220,000 miles, greater than the distance from the earth to the moon.  The tour has changed shape over the years, from the early days of zero support, where riders rode exclusively for themselves with no outside help allowed, to today’s team cars, radios, and group tactics.  The daily speeds have gone up while the distances have gone down.  Road surfaces have drastically improved, from goat tracks and cobbles to smooth, fresh tarmac.  The 1970’s saw a decreasing popularity in the tour amongst the municipalities the Tour went though.  Towns, embarrassed at the rustic state of their roads, saw fit to pave the country byways before the tour came through, gutting budgets and causing resentment.  It was not until recent times that Tour organizers were able to convince towns that the rustic roads were the raison d’etre, and that fans loved to see the riders suffering on historic roads.

Eddy Merckx and a founding member of The Specials wonder what’s around the bend.

Technology and science have changed the face of the tour.  Mandatory helmets, the move away from traditional clothing and frame materials, the increased, overbearing presence of science and power monitoring have all taken some of the guts from the sport and replaced it with logic, forgone conclusions, and a seeming inability to just ‘go for it’.  But there is still romance, pain, suffering, and victory against overwhelming odds in the Tour.  There are still surprises, breakaways that actually work, huge solo efforts against mountains that harken to the days before we knew what a Lactic Threshold was.  There are still bad guys and good guys, scandals and stories of redemption, winners and the ones you wish would win…

I don’t follow sports.  I fail to see the appeal of soccer, or football, or baseball, or car racing.  I don’t understand how poker is sport, or pool.  I love swimming, but only in a lake, with the possibility of ice cream afterward.  I don’t understand huge paychecks for tossing a ball around, or wacking one with a stick.  When I was a kid playing soccer, I never could remember which goal was ours, because I was so bored that I was constantly day dreaming.  My main concern was sliding through the grass and missing the ball, mainly so I could collect impressive grass stains and or scabs.  Our team always got some sort of pitiful trophy that looked like it had been microwaved, the fake gold soccer player sagging and possibly crying atop his faux marble stand.  It seemed to me like these were activities you partook in when there was literally nothing else better you could be doing.  Poking a mud puddle with a stick for instance, or filling model airplanes with firecrackers and tossing them out the bedroom window.  Important things, things with meaning.

“We’ll put the firecracker right here…”

My first real bike was a beautiful grey mountain bike with matching grey tires.  It was steel, and rode like a dream.  Every summer I spent hours climbing the mountain at the end of my street, a long, grueling dirt climb that ended in beautiful meadows, followed by a harrowing descent down the otherside, and a slow cruise back home next to a glacial lake.  This suffering was fun!  It had meaning! Views! Adventure!  Possible ice cream endings!  I was hooked, for life.  But I didn’t know about bike racing.  I wasn’t ready for the soap opera drama of it, the weird euro names, the impossible to memorize team monikers, the tactics, the length and depth.  I collected baseball cards for the stale gum, not the players, whom I knew nothing about.  Stats were something akin to IRS tax code, irrelevant, confusing, and pointless. Then I went to college.  Had free cable TV.  My future wife and I fell into the Tour De France because of the Controversial Texan.  He was a symbol, a story, a reason to watch.

Lance shows his math skills

Everyone has their own reasons to watch the tour, or not.  It takes time, lots of it.  The tour lasts for hours everyday.  If you were to actually watch the whole thing, you would have no life.  If you just watch the highlights, you might as well not watch.  It is within the daily struggle that the story unravels like a spider spinning a long lycra thread.  The commentary on the background of each rider, the suffering on the faces of the breakaway group and their inevitable demise, the riders who die small deaths off the back of the peloton, the disorientation of those who crash, the anger of those who suffer mechanicals, the passion of the sprint and the heroism of the climbers.  The nuance of the sport is lost in the highlight reel.  There is no history in the reel, no peeks into psychology, no lessons on the country side, stories about this Chateau or the upcoming climb.  There is just racing, at its most distilled.  Sometimes, as with good bourbon, you have to add a bit of water, so it can breathe.

Subscribe to the tour online at NBC.  It’s 30 bucks for a month of racing, and there is excellent, highly biased commentary that is occasionally really funny.  It’s like a book on tape.  Think of it as summer reading for cyclists.  Think of me as Oprah, and this is my book club assignment to you.  I don’t make any money off it, unless you come in and buy a road bike from me!

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Shop Rides:

Tuesday and Wednesday’s rides are cancelled. Look for them next week though!

Sunday evenings:  If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm.  We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace.  We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise.  The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air.  We even take breaks.  Bring these things with you:  Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way.

Thursdays:  Mountain ride with Brian and Team Flying Dog.  Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed.  Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.

Sunday Mornings:   Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center.  8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads.  Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff.