Walls, Weddings, and Riders: Philly Race 2012

I guess it’s about time for me to write up my trip to Philadelphia to see the TD International Cycling Classic. Two weekends ago, I caught a rdie up to Philly with a Twitter friend, Steph (@StephBDC), who lives in the area. This was my only my second pro race (3rd, if you count Cross Championships, like I surely do) and it was definitely the biggest one I’ve been to. The only other races I’ve been to are the Air Force Cycling Classic races in Virgina. While those are exciting, they are of a bit smaller scale. ANYWAY, this time, not only was I going to watch the race, but I was also going to volunteer. I was “roped into” volunteering by a Twitter friend, so I was going to help with one of the VIP tents. I was a bit nervous about that, but it sounded like fun!

We got to Philly on Saturday afternoon and had some time to walk around Philly before the volunteer meeting. During this sightseeing trip, we saw advertisements to visit the local penitentiary, people standing in an orderly line to take pictures with the Rocky statue, dueling wedding party pictures (okay, not dueling, but would’ve added spice if they were),  and an Army transport vehicle rolling up in front of the museum steps to have their picture taken.

Orderly line for the Rocky statue

Race day was beautiful- sunny but not too hot. The main part of my volunteering job was arranging rides around the course for VIPs. They had a bunch of vans, cars and motos for the VIPs to ride in around the course, at the end of the caravan. A big perk of this job was that I got to ride in those vehicles as well! So I got to pre-ride the course before the race, ride around the course twice while the race was going on AND ride the course on a moto!! It was amazing. It really helped me get a feel for the whole race that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.

Riding up Manayunk Wall

The first time we drove of Manayunk Wall, I just about died. it just keeps going and going and going and parts of it are wicked steep. I couldn’t imagine riding up it more than once! The crowds on the wall and on Lemon Hill were fantastic. They were a little weaker downtown, but I think it was because it was easier to drink and picnic at the other places.

To be honest, I didn’t pay super close attention to the races, mainly because the majority of our work took place right after the peloton went by- that’s when the cars came in and they switched passengers. I didn’t get any photos of the women’s race because it started about 10 minutes after the men and we were too busy with cars when they came around! However, by the last few laps of the men’s race, our job was done and we got the watch the end of the race inside the VIP tent. Perks!

Alexander Serebryakov takes the win

Those guys are so fucking fast and I love it. I love the pain and suffering and the way the pour all of themselves into their racing. I could just watch those guys ride all day. Although I’m sure they would prefer to not ride all day. It was a really great trip and a great race and a great experience. I was excited to meet Steph and Heidi (@heidimo6)! I’ll definitely be back next year!

Check out more photos here! Also follow me on Twitter.

Podcast: All Hail the Classics

Excited by the Classics, we couldn’t help but record a podcast.

Races:

  • Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, of course. Won with style by Sep VanMarcke, despite all the hard work of Tom Boonen.
    • But we must know- why all the hatin’ on Thor??
  • Andalucia: won by Dan’s boy, Valverde!
  • Tour of Langkawi: Zabriski killed the TT and is still in the leader’s jersey after the 2nd stage.

News:


Download here!

Subscribe via iTunes here.

Anna and Dan Have Pelotonitis

Another successful podcast in the can! Thank you, thank you for all the nice things you said

I got a new microphone, so hopefully the sound quality is better on my end. We still have some issues with extraneous noise, but are working on that!

Things discussed:

  • We reveal our new name (thanks, @jaowen!)
  • Pozzato’s return to racing 9 days after breaking his collarbone (article)- hardman or foolish man?
  • Charging spectators to watch racing (article)
  • Dan gets his ranty pants on to talk about the UCI not following the rules while expecting everyone else to follow those same rules (article)
  • The Tour of Oman and how much we love Sagan and, of course, Nibbles
  • The race-name-we-don’t-know-how-to-pronounce-so-it-is-awkward, Volta Ao Agarve
  • riders who had shitty seasons last year but are already starting their year off right

Listen directly here: (The closing got cut off for some reason, but the rest is there and I don’t want to upload another copy)


Download here.

I’m working to get the cast up on iTunes, and will let you know when that happens.

Follow me @bloomingcyclist and Dan @DanKalbacher on Twitter and feel free to offer advice and suggestions.

Podcast Liftoff

I love podcasts and have been playing with the idea of creating my own podcast for awhile. I also love cycling podcasts, but have yet to find a cycling podcast I love that publishes consistently. I really liked Flammecast, but that imploded and the revamped VeloCast is not really to my liking, as it too much music and not enough cycling talk (although, now that I go back and listen to the recent episodes, it seems they’ve gone away from the music bit. So it looks like I’ll be listening again!). I also listened to Velo Club Don Logan, but I lost interest as they talk a lot about the local scene in Scotland and many things that I consider peripheral. I LOVE Real Peloton, as they are funny, knowledgeable and have a great rapport, but they publish so infrequently it’s hard to stay excited about them. The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable podcast has good content, but the format makes it hard to listen to- there are too many people trying to get a their opinion in and that results in a lot of overtalking. In addition, there are quite a few podcasts out there that have a pro and local focus as well as ones that are skills focused.

Now, all of those podcasts are great and maybe they suit your taste. But I wanted a podcast that was exclusively about pro cycling and which paid special attention to American riders and teams. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own. Plus, I love the sound of my own voice. I found a casting partner, Dan Kalbacher (@DanKalbacher), and after extensive research (podcasting is a lot harder than it looks. So hat to those who make it look easy), was able to put voice to the ether.

This is our first attempt. I know the audio quality is not great, but the content is awesome! (if I’m allowed to have an opinion) We also do not have a name yet. Coming up with clever names is hard. If you have suggestions, drop them in the comments. I’m working on making it RSS readable, so if you use an RSS reader to read the blog, you might have to click through to get to the actual file. You can subscribe to the blog in a reader! And eventually I’ll be putting it up on iTunes. When I can figure out how to do that.

Enjoy!

The Cast

In this first episode we talk about the dropping of the Armstrong case by federal investigators (Dan’s article here), how much I love Tom Boonen and how he might be bike doping, the Tour of Oman, and the effects of the breakup of HTC.

Listen directly here:


Download here! (to save to your computer so you can transfer it to an mp3 player, right lick and choose Save Target As… or Save Link As… you Mac users are on your own.)

Let me know if you have any problems or comments/suggestions, either here or on Twitter. I’m @bloomingcyclist and Dan is @DanKalbacher

Happy Results, Unhappy Process

To be honest, the Contador verdict today given by CAS was the best case scenario that I thought would never play out. From my perspective, it couldn’t have been a better outcome. CAS upheld the rules created by WADA, and Contador’s 2 year ban is retroactively applied so he gets to start racing again in August (right in time for the Vuelta even though he has to miss the Tour and the Olympics). But there is so much that doesn’t sit right with me.

First, CAS was the only one to do anything right, in my opinion. To start, the UCI waited ages to release the positive and apparently only did so when German media threatened to out them. And they apparently told Contador to keep quiet about the positive when they told him about it. The Spanish federation sanctioned him, then backtracked, said “just kidding!” and reversed the sanction. The UCI did appeal the Spanish federation’s no-sanction decision to CAS, but they waited until the very last minute to do it! I know it is not up to the UCI to decide how a rider is sanctioned, but you would think that they would do everything in their power to make sure the rules were upheld. Even though the CAS took its sweet time releasing a decision, its decision was in line with the WADA no-threshold drug rules, concluding that Contador’s contaminated beef defense wasn’t strong enough to prove that the ingested Clenbuteral came from outside sources.

Second, Bert only has 6 months left on his 2 year ban to serve! This is not CAS’ fault. It’s the fault of the UCI/WADA for not moving quickly enough to appeal the Spanish federation’s decision not to sanction Bert and the two sides playing cat and mouse for a year, drawing the trial out. Now, I don’t want Bert to have a 2 year ban from today, but to count all that time he was racing in 2011 as time served on his ban is bull doody. I’m not sure who to blame for that- the UCI, the rules themselves, everyone who farted around and delayed the trial, who knows. But in the end, he will have to spend 11 months not racing out of a two year ban. That’s a lot of race results to strip.

Lastly, and most grievously, is the apparent lack of consistency in treated failed drug tests. Now, I haven’t been around cycling long enough to have sat through any other positive results trials. But the example that sticks out to me the most is the Landis positive. From what I understand about that, they practically yanked him off the podium to serve him his positive. There was no hiding it. There was no delaying. The UCI basically called him guilty from day one, who cares what anyone says. That’s a marked difference from the UCI doing what it can to cover up and delay Contador’s positive and only pressing the case to the CAS after it was clear the Spanish federation wasn’t going to do anything- I believe the UCI hoped Spain would do the actual dirty work of sanctioning Bert so they wouldn’t have to. And I think if the public and WADA would’ve let them get away with not appealing the Spanish federation’s decision, they would’ve just let it ride. And we haven’t even talked about the Spanish federation’s handling of the whole situation! Not only did they do everything in their power to make sure Bert wasn’t sanctioned, the way they handled the positive of Bert’s countryman, Ezequiel Mosquera, was remarkably different.  In my mind, it doesn’t matter that Mosquera’s positive was a more “traditional” positive- a positive is a positive and Bert should’ve been sanctioned just like Mosquera, especially with the rules as they are. On all levels there seems to be favoritism and inconsistencies in enforcing rules which, in my mind, is cycling’s biggest problem. The only way cycling can truly be clean is if the rules are clear, the process simple, and the punishments consistently applied.

I’m relatively happy with how it all turned out, but the whole ordeal makes me realize that cycling can only be as clean and efficient as its processes.

Sources:

Confession

I have a confession to make: I want Alberto cleared of doping charges. He won me over so thoroughly during last year’s Giro and seems so dedicated to cycling, that the thought of not seeing him in the peloton makes me sad. Moreover, I’ve come to like him and want him to be innocent. I don’t want his past podium wins to be nullified. I don’t want him shamed. I don’t want him pulled from the peloton. But this side of me that has come to love Bert wars with the side of me that says justice must be done- for no matter how that clenbuteral got in his system, it was there. And according to the rules (no matter how right or wrong they might be), if the drug is there, a ban must be served. The eternal optimist and Bertie lover in me wants to believe he is not a doper. And maybe it’s naive of me, but I do think he’s clean. But the fact of the matter is that clen was found in his system and unless he can prove how it got there, he should serve a punishment. But. That doesn’t stop me from wanting him to be cleared.

Mud, Beer, and Cross

I came home with muddy boots, muddy pants, and an achy body. But above all, I came home with great memories, new friends, and a happy heart. I spent the first weekend of the new year in Madison, Wisconsin, soaking up all that the Cyclocross National Championships had to offer.

I really had no idea what to expect, as this was definitely the biggest cross race I’d ever been to. I figured there would be big crowds, beer, and lots of cute cyclists. I was right on all accounts!

Beer

To be honest, I can’t say I was overwhelmed or in awe of anything- except maybe seeing in the flesh the cross stars I’d been posting on Tumblr all season. I’m not a good fan girl- I get shy, reserved and bit awkward around those I consider celebrities. I feel super awkward asking for autographs or pictures, as much as I want them. So, when I went to breakfast the morning I got in, and realized halfway through that Ryan Trebon was sitting at a table across the way and then saw Jeremy Powers walk in, I first went crazy inside with giddy excitement, then ignored them and pretended they’re ordinary people. Which is my normal MO. I actually really dislike this part of my personality, but I’m not sure how to change it. Because, let’s be honest, I don’t see a lot of famous people on a day to day basis. ANYWAY. Regardless of my awkward fan girl nature, it was amazing to see all the people I’d only seen on the Internet. Friday there was a roundtable discussion with some of the female racers to talk about women in the sport, so I got to meet Sue Butler, Mo Bruno Roy, and Meredith Miller. Then, there was a meet and greet with some of the big names- Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Zach McDonald, Cody Kaiser, Jonathon Page…

I did work up the nerve, with the help of my twitter friend Roxanne, to get Jeremy Powers to sign the hat she had gotten from Zach McDonald. 

 

#CXNats takeaways:

  • Ryan seems more uncomfortable with his “star” status. Between that and his maybe more introverted nature, he’s a bit more awkward around fans. Jeremy’s more extroverted nature, his hyperness, and his comfort with the spotlight have made him a bit more comfortable with fan interaction.
  • It was tempting to run around the course to try and watch it develop, but I found it was more enjoyable to find a spot and stay there for the whole race. Running around so you can see your favorite riders again is good fun, but I found it to be less stressful to hang out in one spot and watch the laps go by- you could stake a prime spot and not have to worry about missing them as they came around. It was almost more fun to cheer on the rider in last place than the guys in the front- they may be last, but they’re still way more awesome than I am just for being there.

Tim & the cupcake

  • The course was BEAUTIFUL. I’m a midwest girl and I appreciate prairie and rolling hills and open sky, so this course was perfect for me.

  • Next year, I’ll just come out for the weekend. While it was great to be there for 3 days, it wasn’t really necessary. I didn’t know anyone racing on the first day, and only 1 or 2 on the second day. It’s not quite as much fun to watch when you don’t know anyone racing and the crowds aren’t really big yet. So basically it was two days of checking out the course, doing recon, taking pictures, and taking in the atmosphere. While that’s awesome, it doesn’t need two days! AND next year I’ll leave on Monday. Leaving Sunday evening meant I had to miss the big after party after the races! Arguably the most important event of the weekend. Seriously bad planning on my part.

Best part of the weekend? I’m pretty sure I made my family into cross converts. My sister, brother, and dad all drove up from Iowa to watch the race with me and I think they were suitably impressed. I know I impressed them with my heckling- I’m a tame heckler by most standards, but yelling insulting encouragement at the riders was not something they expected. But they yelled as loud as I did at the riders going by at the stairs, barriers, and finish line. They knew no one, but it’s so easy to get sucked into the amazing atmosphere, with all the great fans that come out. And to top off a great weekend, we got our picture in VeloNews.

Photo credit: Wil Matthews/VeloNews

Molly did a good job matching my enthusiasm. John was a little more restrained. It’s not a golf game, John!

I also have to give a shout out to my twitter pals Roxanne and Melissa who drove me around and let me hang out with them. Thanks, girls!

It was a fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Check out the rest of my photos here!

New Kits! RadioShack-Nissan

To be honest, there really isn’t anything new or exciting about the RadioShack-Nissan kits. It’s basically the same kit with added red Radioshack stripe. Even so, I might like this kit a bit better than last year’s kit. I like the added color the red brings- it spices the kit up a little!

http://www.radioshacknissantrek.com/team/riders/jakob-fuglsang

However, I am not impressed with what they did with the US National Champs kit. The stars and bars just looks smooshed and it looks odd against the solid red!

Overall, it’s a very simple kit. While I enjoy simple, it seems a bit too uninspired. And that’s really all the commentary I have about that kit.

New Kit! Garmin-Barracuda

Well, well, well. Color me impressed. Garmin-Barracuda (formerly Garmin-Cervelo) (side note: how AWESOME is that name??)  has managed to take a ho-hum kit and make it great again.

Garmin-Barracuda 2012 kit

While there was nothing terribly offensive about 2011 kit, there was nothing terribly exciting about it either. Most people complained the color choice was too similar to Sky and Leopard and that the kit lacked the signature argyle.

Garmin-Cervelo 2011 kit

I was mostly sad that they didn’t keep the blue and orange color scheme. However, I liked that they kept the Cervelo “e,” even if I felt the color scheme and design was a little unimaginative.

Garmin-Transitions 2010 kit

For their newest version, I applaud the reintroduction of the argyle, even if it is just the blue argyle (I, for one, loved the orange and blue combo of previous versions). In addition, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I don’t care for black kits. I’m not sure why, I just find kits that are majority black to be uninteresting (the only exception is Sky). The white and blue is much more pleasing to the eye. I’m also very happy to see that kits are becoming a little less homogenous this year!

New kit! 1t4i

For 2012, Skil Shimano has become 1t4i. I can’t say that I know what that stands for, but I’m a bit sad to see the Skil kit leave the peloton. For some reason, I became quite fond of it. Normally, I say “no” to white shorts- they’re often a bit too revealing and rain can make things *really interesting! But this kit makes the white work. The white set off nicely the blue and green and I think the red of the Skil logo really makes it stand out.

The new 1t4i kit, while being  a step down from the old Skil kit, is really not too bad. They kept the white and green of the old Skil kit, but I think the black a nice addition- certainly the black crotch panel helps reduce the risk of embarrassment! It’s a bit more bland that the Skil kit, but overall, I like the simplicity and the colors.

In theory, they’re supposed to announce a new sponsor in the spring. If that actually happens, the kit could change!

EDIT:  1t4i has also fallen victim to the horribly embarrassing team photo. It’s a disease we will never be able to eradicate, I’m afraid. (thanks @KimTMcCall, for reminding me of this!)

2012 Team Roster (more…)

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