New Kit! GreenEdge

Leigh Howard- easy on the eyes

The newest cycling darling this year is GreenEdge. They’re the first team based in Australia to actually make it all the way to  WorldTour level status. And I quite like their kit. Some have derided the big “G” on the front, but I like it! I really like the greens they’ve chosen and I enjoy the simple design. Once again, it’s very reminiscent of the Leopard kit trend of last year- white torso, black shoulders and arms with accent of color. But I’m okay with that, as I like that simple design. And, again, simple shorts FTW.

It’s a great kit and hopefully the team will great as well…!

Update: GreenEdge has unveiled an updated kit at the start of the Tour Down Under.

I like the unofficial version more. The swoopy “G” gets lost in the vaguely tie-dyed green/yellow that now covers the bottom half of the jersey. The yellow/green doesn’t really bother me on the shorts, but in combination with the jersey, it’s a bit much. But, it still isn’t a bad kit!

2012 Team Roster

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New kit! Omega Pharma – Quick-Step

Okay. This kit is not great BUT it’s not horrible either. It seems to have borrowed from the color scheme that was so popular last year (light blue/black/white) and present on a certain Leopard kit, but that can be forgiven to a certain degree, because it reflects the colors of the Omega Pharma logo. However, that’s were the problem is- it makes the Quick Step logo look so out of place, because the dark blue of its logo is really jarring against all the light blue. It was like they designed this lovely kit, then at the last minute were like, “Shit, we forgot about QuickStep! What do we do?! Screw it, let’s just throw the logo on.”

At least they did the shorts right- unlike Lotto-Belisol team, these shorts are actually integrated into the overall look of the kit. Even though they look a little too much like a certain leopard’s shorts.

If it wasn’t for the QuickStep logo, it wouldn’t be a bad kit- albeit an unimaginative kit. The lines on the back of the jersey are quite slimming (because that’s such a concern for those fattie cyclists) and the lines on the back of the shorts frame the bum well. However, they should’ve made a kit that blended the two colors and logos together.

I put this review up first on Tumblr.

2012 Team Roster Read the full post »

New Kit! Saxo Bank

Ladies and gents, I think we have an early contender for my favorite kit of the season. Saxo Bank has really stepped up this season and took their kit from one of the ugliest to one of the best.

Last year saw the introduction of the “crotch eagle.” No one who came up with the idea of the crotch eagle or why they thought it would be a good idea to make it look like said eagle was coming out of the shorts for a look-around, but it made for some great joke fodder:

Crotch eagle!

I didn’t have a problem with the feather sleeves but the color…! It was as if the soigneur threw the jerseys in with some new blue jeans and the color bleed all over their nice white jerseys. Since Saxo Bank’s budget was decimated by taking on Contador, they had no choice but to wear the slightly blue jerseys. With the crotch eagle.

This year, the crotch eagle is still there, but the color…! It’s fabulous! This year’s bright blue is the total opposite of last year’s washed out blue. The  bold blue is sure to stand out in a peloton sure to be full of minimalist kits. I also approve of the bold branding on the back.

And you know what? The crotch eagle is growing on me. It’s silly and inexplicable but it’s unique and I admire how they’ve stuck by it!

So you go Saxo Crotch Eagle! Kick some butt this season (and for your sake, I hope Bert isn’t suspended…)

EDIT: I’ve since learned that the eagle comes from “Eagle from Herning”- Bjarne Riis’ nickname.

2012 Team Roster: Read the full post »

The Daily Bike: New Year

The first ride of the new year. 

I don’t go crazy over new years. I don’t see how the calendar turning over to a new month, a new year is the magic potion to make people a better version of themselves. I speak from experience- you’ll only make those changes if you’re ready and willing to make them.

I took a ride because it was my first day back after being home for holidays. And let me tell you about my new favorite website: Most of you will probably be thinking, have you been living under a rock?? Yeah, yeah. I’ve been on it awhile, but just realized how it can help me.I’m not very good at just going out and riding- I need a plan or general route. And MapMyRide is perfect for helping me find rides in the area that other cyclists have done. All you have to do is type in an address or town and it will find all the routes people have logged. It’s great for inspiration and ideas. Today I went somewhere totally new, but other days, I’ve used it to help link up rides I often do with new areas and routes. This helps keep me excited about riding. I get bored if I’m riding the same routes all the time. So while it isn’t perfect (I haven’t figured out how to get those routes I bookmark to show up on my phone), it’s making me excited about riding again!

New Kit! Lotto-Belisol

January 1st means lots of things: hangovers, resolutions to break, a crowded gym, etc. January 1st also means new team kits! The first of the year is when everyone can finally wear their new team kit. Before this date, riders are contractually obligated to wear their kit and ride the bikes from their previous team. Now, as the racing season starts with the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Australia this week and the Tour Down Under on the 17th (the first official UCI race), all the teams are officially revealing their new kits. And all the armchair sports fans, like myself, are officially critiquing them! So, first up: Lotto-Belisol. This is one of the teams to come out of the break up of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

Not Jedward

Separately, I like the parts. I like the colors and the design of the jersey and shorts on their own. However, the two design teams clearly didn’t consult each other, as there no continuity between the two! There is no flow from the shorts to the jersey and it just looks mismatched. The shorts are all vertical and the jersey is all horizontal. I wish they had done a better job integrating the two, because this coulda been a contender for a standout kit of 2012- based on what I’ve seen so far, the Leopard-Trek theme is holding strong. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s relatively unimaginative.

Anyway, here’s a comparison picture of the Omega Pharma-Lotto kit from last year. I like that one better. Takeaway lesson- keep the shorts simple.

EDIT: Here’s a roster of the team, so you know who will be wearing this kit!

  • Greg Henderson (from Sky)
  • Lars Bak (from HTC-Highroad)
  • Jurgen van den Broeck
  • Jelle Vanendert
  • Adam Hansen
  • Andre Greipel
  • Jurgen Roelandts
  • Bart De Clercq
  • Joost Leijen
  • Brian Bulgac
  • Frederique Robert
  • Dennis Vanendert
  • Jonas Vangenechten
  • Mehdi Sohrabi
  • Sander Cordeel
  • Gaetan Bille
  • Tosh Van der Sande
  • Kenny Dehaes
  • Marcel Sieberg
  • Olivier Kaisen
  • Frederik Willems
  • Jens Debusschere
  • Jurgen Van De Walle
  • Vicente Reynes Mimo
  • Francis de Greef
  • Maarten Neyens
  • Jurgen Roelandts
  • Gert Dockx

Dress for success

On Thanksgiving, I went on a ride around DC. It was suggested by someone who is part of one of my meet up cycling groups. I love riding around the city when there isn’t any traffic and Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time for that. While it wasn’t as empty as I thought it was going to be, we were definitely able to ride on roads that are normally car choked! The weather was amazing- it started off pretty cold, but warmed up pretty quickly. Cyclists are obsessed with the “right” gear for the right weather. Summer is easy- you just wear as little as possible, while maintaining some decency! But all the other seasons require finding that delicate balance between being warm enough and not overheating. Winter is complicated, requiring, at a minimum, a base layer and a wind breaking layer on the top and some sort of fleece lined tights on the bottom. Various other layers can be added depending on the conditions and your susceptibility to cold. Then for your extremities you need covers for those well ventilated shoes and have sufficiently windproof gloves, so neither your toes or fingers fall off. For the top of your body, you need a gaiter or scarf for your neck and a hat or a headband for your ears. Even though it’s a lot, during the winter, you pretty much know what you’re getting when you go out, so the weather is not a surprise. Fall and spring, on the other hand, are much more of a guessing game. There are any number of garments which can be worn in these seasons- arm warmers, long sleeved jerseys, vests, light jackets, leg warmers, knee warmers, knickers, light gloves, heavy gloves, hats, headbands. It’s a game of mix-and-match to find exactly the right combination to suit your body temp and the outside weather.

We cyclists will not stop until we find that perfect combination of clothes for any weather. We will endless debate at exactly what temperature one should wear knee warmers versus legs warmers or arm warmers versus a jacket. We will spend a significant portion of our bike budget on finding the right clothes for the right weather. We will do all of this because we love to ride our bikes. Most of us cannot stomach the thought of putting away our bikes for the winter, not to ride again until the snow melts and temperature rises. Some will brave the nastiest and coldest of weather if only to avoid using the dreaded trainer. I love riding in the winter. I like bundling up, I like how the cold invigorates me, I love coming home and warming up with a hot shower and a hot drink. But best of all, I love having the trails to myself.

Another way to get the streets to yourself? Ride on Thanksgiving morning.

For the Love of Twitter

When I say I use Twitter, the usual reaction is “Oh geez, one of those people, thinking every minutiae of their life should be disseminated in 140 characters.” As is the case with most things, getting people to change how they stereotype things isn’t easy. So, sometimes I just let it ride and say, “Yep, I know my 600 followers hang onto my every ‘going to the bathroom now’ tweet!” Other times, I try and take the time to explain to them what Twitter means to me.

I’ve explored this topic before, but from a “how to use Twitter to watch pro racing” angle. Twitter is an invaluable tool to helping one enjoy pro cycling to the fullest. Now that’s it’s been a little over a year since I started using Twitter seriously, I’ve discovered how it’s so much more than just a way to enjoy pro cycling. It’s also a place to make friends and find motivation.

Not only is Twitter a place to participate in pro cycling, it’s also a place to discuss the many facets of cycling. You can use Twitter to follow along while races are happening.  You can dissect race results and tactics when they’re happening and when they’re over. You can follow breaking news and developing rumors. You can discover cyclists to obsess over. You can dish over all the hot cyclists!

Twitter isn’t all good, all the time. It’s easy to get lost in the minutia- any event, race, rumor, comment, is discussed and argued and picked apart down to the smallest detail. It’s often easy to get caught up in the negative sides of the sport (the doping, the cynicism, the corruption). And as anyone who’s spent any time on Twitter knows, it’s impossible to win an argument in 140 characters, so it often devolves into name calling and insults. As a person who doesn’t deal well with lots of negativity, I have to be careful to not let myself get sucked into that part of Twitter.

But, Twitter is more than just racing and tactics and rumors. I have, dare I say, made friends on Twitter! Some scoff at this idea, saying you can’t be friends with people you only know as a Twitter personality, or asking how do I even know that these people are real. In truth, I have no way of knowing if these are real people. They could all be robots, or impostors, or scam artists. But my trusting nature and the length of time I’ve known many of these people leads me to believe they are real. And the fact that I’ve meet a few of them in the flesh (@cyclebordom, @iowakathy, @theepicride) helps reinforce this idea. But the main reason I think they’re real? They care about me. They care about the ups and downs of my life. When I tweet that I’m having a shitty day, they reply and want to know what’s wrong and hope I feel better. When I tweet that I had an awesome ride and feel great, they reply to say congrats or ask about the ride. When I tweet sometime discussion worthy, they’ll engage me in conversation and debate. Those are the things that convince me they’re real people.

However, the best thing I get from Twitter? Motivation. I don’t have many people to share my cycling obsession with in the real world and on Twitter I can be as cycling nerdy as I want and my Twitter friends will share that with me. They want to know about my rides, my progress, and my adventures, so I want to ride to have something to share. When I started following cycling, I didn’t have a bike. The more I got into Twitter and saw how much those I followed loved their bikes and riding, the more I wanted to be part of that. Once I got my bike, I wanted to share how I felt and my Twitter friends were there for that. If I’m ever feeling sick of my bike, or I don’t feel in the mood for riding, I just hang out on Twitter for awhile, and I remember why I love it.

To be riveted by all my bathroom journeys, follow me @bloomingcyclist.


The Daily Bike: Fall

What a lovely fall day for a ride! However, what with the truly winter day we had on Saturday, I was anticipating cold temperatures and cold wind on Sunday. I didn’t actually bother to stick my head outside, though, to check and instead of a cold winter day, it was a mild fall day. Therefore, I was way overdressed! Regardless, it was a wonderful, leisurely ride. I’ve been eating like crap lately, and have been feeling guilty about not riding, so the two hour ride I took today helped alleviate some of that guilt.

I’d been feeling nostalgic for my old riding haunts, now that the weather has turned, and decided to ride back to my old neighborhood. A great choice, as the leaves are turning and the trail riding was beautiful. Since I was in the area, I decided to go back to my old bike shop to have them look at my rear derailleur, as it’s been acting wonky for awhile. I was glad I went. Twenty minutes later, I had a derailleur which shifted nice and smooth again, new brake pads, tightened brake cables, and a straightened brake hood. Thanks Arrow!

It was just a great ride. I was in no hurry and just rode along as I felt like it. I don’t even know how far I went or how long I rode- I just went until I needed to turn around and then went back again! The trails were lovely and now that it’s a bit colder, there are fewer people out, so I had the trails all to myself. I’m comfortable riding on the road, but it’s not very relaxing in the city- there’s too much traffic to be aware of. On the trails, with no one around, it’s much easier to let your mind wander and enjoy the scenery. I welcome the return of the colder weather, as I find cold rides invigorating and the roads empty.

So, let us not lament the end of summer, but embrace the empty trails and hardcore status that winter riding gives us.

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Book review: Ten Points by Bill Strickland

Reading this book felt like an invasion of privacy. I don’t know Bill Strickland- I’ve never met him and I don’t even know anyone who has. But I read his articles and blogs, I’ve read his books and I’ve heard him interviewed, so I feel like so know him. This meant reading his memoir Ten Points didn’t feel just like reading any other book- it felt like reading his diary. After finishing his book, I feel like I’ve been shown all the life changing events of a person I’ve only just met. I felt like a peeping Tom reading this book, but it was absolutely worth it, as it was an amazing read.

Strickland was consumed by demons left over from an abusive father. For the most part, through his life, he was able to keep the demons in check. But once he became a husband and a father, he became fearful that his demons will ruin everything he helped build. He feels sure the curse of his childhood will cause him to turn into his father. Even when he discovered that cycling helped keep the demons in check, he was still afraid that they signified a curse which doomed him to failure. Which is why when his daughter innocently asks if he can score 10 points in his crit season, he says yes, hoping it will help banish the demons and break the curse. So we follow Strickland as he turns himself inside out to score 10 points and save himself from the curse.

I love reading, but I prefer simple fare- I’m not interested in flowery writing or pages of descriptions or in deciphering clues hidden in words. There are a few exceptions and Strickland is one of them. His writing seems effortless and the beauty with which he describes even the simplest of actions amazes me. He finds ways to put words to emotions and feelings and internal experiences that can’t be put into words. I wanted to put an example here, but I realized that each sentence and paragraph is part of the whole. You know how they say the whole is the sum of its parts? To take a part out of context would, first, lessen the impact it would would have as part of the whole, and second, deny a new reader the joy of discovery how it all fit together.

Strickland also has a way of weaving a story together that makes me envious. Whenever I write, I obsess over organization and flow. Strickland’s stories of his past and present are woven together seamlessly, with the introduction of each past event flowing into the present event  it mirrors and influenced. In this way, we are allowed to discover alongside Strickland how what he experienced in the past shaped who he becomes in the present.

As someone who loves cycling, I thoroughly enjoyed how he described the racing. I’ve never raced, and probably never will, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the middle of the pack. It is in these sections where his descriptive abilities really come out. The jostling, the shouts, the fighting for position, the reading of the pack, the way breaks get away, the recovery after sprints- the narration of the races made me feel like I had actually been in a race. It is during these races where Strickland discovers new things about himself and using his skill with words, his self realizations are put onto paper.

I will admit that the parts I enjoyed most were not the racing bits- it was his interactions with his daughter and wife that drew me in the most. The presence of his family around him as he fights his demons and as he looks back into his past made his journey into himself all that more moving.

While this is a book about bike racing, it isn’t just about bike racing. In fact, it’s mostly about how a family needs all its members to survive. It’s about how the weakness of one can destroy it and the strength of another can save it. The bike just happens to be where discoveries himself and tries to rid himself of the curse of his childhood. Through his book we are allowed a glimpse into his life. We get to see how he is a good father, even though he thinks he’s not. We see how the childhood events of his wife’s life shape her family decisions. We are allowed a brief look into a marriage that has gone through fire and emerged even stronger. We see how the wisdom and innocence of a child can inspire and motivate the adults that surround them.

This is not an easy book to read- books that deal with child abuse never are. There were many times I had to put the book down and compose myself. But I had to finish it. I had to know how (if) he conquers his demons. This book is a moving look into how what doesn’t kill you really can make you stronger, but only if you’re willing to face it head on.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 9 | A Hill

Okay. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m this far behind on #30daysofbiking. My motivation to bike is waaaay down. I barely ride during the week anymore. Going on a ride after work just seems like sooo much work. I’m bored of all my usual routes and I hate riding in after work traffic. So most of my riding is on the weekends. But I enjoy taking pictures and writing about my rides, so I’m going to keep it up, even when it’s not longer fashionable to do so.

On the weekend of this ride, I went with Melissa (my 50 states buddy) out to MacArthur Blvd. My first trip on MacArthur was my ill fated trip with Shannon that resulted in 3 flats, 45 minutes of walking, and a bike fairy. My second trip on MacArthur was out to Great Falls. This time I was finally going to tackle the epic hill of MacArthur. I don’t know much about this hill, except that lots of people ride it because it is hard. Does it have a name? Probably. But I don’t know it. I was dreading it and looking forward to it, as it would be an interesting test of my fitness. The hill was hard…but not that hard. There was suffering, but it was not epic. Whenever I thought it might be too hard, I said to myself, “You did RAGBRAI and 30 miles on that [bleep] Skyline. This hill ain’t nothing but a mole hill compared to that.” So I made it to the top. And I could even hold a conversation with Melissa when I got to the top! Progress, what?!

We took a break about half way through and the second half was pretty brutal. We were riding on more heavily trafficked roads (which is not relaxing), there were a lot of stoplights, it was a lot hillier than I expected, and I was more wiped than I thought I was from the big hill. Melissa is significantly faster on the climbs than I am, so I would get dropped and only catch back up with her when she would stop and wait. It was exhausting. Plus, I was so unprepared food-wise, I had almost no food to eat and was starving. This mean that once I got home, I ate a big ass burger, a milkshake, and drank a beer. Well deserved.


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