Monday, December 7, 2009

Montrose CX

In a way, my Montrose was a replay of previous performances: deep pain and utter suckitude in the Masters 30 race, followed by deep pain and ok performance with the killer bees. Well, actually, my performance in the 4b's was my best this season! Five spots better than in Woodstock, and top 20!! Considering my lack of skills and nerve, and that the Montrose course was somewhat technical, a 20th was an awesome surprise! What gives?

Well, a bit of everything I guess: Practice makes less imperfect and, c'mon..., this is my twelfth-ish week of practice; I concentrated on not getting caught in the inevitable bottlenecks during the first half lap; I lost 4 or 5 pounds over the last three weeks; the 38t chainring, instead of the excessive 42t I've been using for 70% of the season. Whatever.

I'm sure I could do better next season. Who knows, maybe even break the top 20 in the 4A's. If there were a next season for me. I certainly hope there will.

Montrose marked the end of four wonderful months of a new thingy called cyclocross--a new thingy that made me genuinely happy. I don't think I'll ever shine in this sport, even among the 4b's, but that is not the point.

Thanks a million to every one of the race promoters, to Jason Knauff, to my teammates at TATI and to "friends of TATI," to the hecklers/cheerleaders, to Pip at Half Acre, and to Loren and Lew at Rhythm Racing.

* * *

And now what? That's the paralyzing question that crossed my mind (no pun intended) as soon as I got in the car back home last night. Any rehab clinics for endorphine junkies you know about? Trainer and rollers sound about as appealing as a bowl of raw broccoli.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good news from the collegiate front

First, the 2010 Nationals will be held on the roads of Madison, WI. Good news for all cash-strapped collegiate teams around the mid-west!

Second, they won't allow TT equipment at collegiate races any more! More specifically:

Wheels: there is a minimum spoke count that automatically allows a wheel (in the 20s?) The UCI also has a list of allowable wheels with fewer spokes including many deep-section wheels meeting certain durability requirements (this list includes some very deep rims.) For the most part, this rule eliminates discs, three and four-spoke wheels, and wheels from companies that have not gone through the UCI approval process.

Bicycles: Must use regular drop handlebars. There might be some frame designs allowed in TTs that are not mass-start legal, in which case these will not be allowed.

Helmets: most TT-legal helmets would be legal in mass-start events.

Full text. The changes will be effective for the 2010 season for categories B through D, and will affect category A too starting in 2011.

* * *

I remember when I did my first time trial. Weeks before the event I started obsessing over the aero bar thing, even though I was just a cat C racer. Everyone seemed to be using it! So I spent a fair amount of time researching the best and lightest aero bars that I could afford, and a fair amount of money buying a snazzy pair of carbon thingies. I used them, and I did fairly well at my races (an ITT and a TTT), but that was in spite of the aero bars, which probably made my position on the bike less aero than if I had just simply ridden on the drops. Very soon I came to hate my aero bars, because I had much less control over my bike when I was on them, so they just gathered dust in a corner of my closet. I eventually sold them on eBay for a fraction of their original price. Sigh.

(Morale: Before you buy a pair of aero bars, practice riding on the drops until it feels natural, even preferrable. Then lower your regular handlebars, one cm at a time. Practice again. Repeat this process until you reach a nice, "flat back" position while riding on the drops and feel comfortable riding like that for at least half an hour. Win a TT. Then you can buy your aero bars.)

The technological escalation taking place even at the lowest levels of competition is absurd. It doesn't make any sense for a cat D rider to spend any money on aero bars, or aero helmet, or aero wheels, ... Or even for a cat C or B rider. I would even argue that it doesn't make sense for most cat A riders, i.e. those who won't move on to do some serious racing for serious teams. The same comment goes for regular (non-collegiate) races and other types of ultra-expensive, "performance-enhancing" equipment: deep-section carbon wheels, ceramic bearings, carbon bottle cages, ultra-light helmets, and, yes, skinsuits, just to name a few.

The proliferation of expensive equipment keeps some new riders away, i.e. those who can't spend four grand, but believe they need to do so just to get started in the sport, just because they saw the "fast guys" do it. So sad.

Full disclosure: yes, this is coming from someone who has already spent too much money on equipment given my level of fitness and skills. But at least I own neither aero bars nor aero helmet nor carbon wheels.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Awesomeness took the shape of a hat

I just received my custom winter cap. Now I need a hipster fixie to match. The cap was made to order by Caroline (aka Little Package).

Full specs

Crown: Woven wool recycled from a pair of knickers.

Lining: Delicate, soft silk, recycled from a weightless Indian dress printed in checks and lovely orange paisley flowers.

Earflap: Black merino wool.

Brim: 5cm deep fiber-filled brim which is crushable, washable, and shapeable.

Sweatband: 3/4" black cotton twill tape

It's not cold enough in Chicago yet, so for the time being I'm wearing this beauty with the earflap folded in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Disconnected notes from Carpentersville CX (and photos)

A LOT of photos. Many of them of Team TATI guys, but many others of other teams. (Thanks to El, Mr. K's daughter, for her contribution.)

-This was my first Masters 30+ race, and the first time I've ridden a 'cross bike for 45 minutes, and the first time I've doubled up (the second race was the 4b). Needless to say, I am exhausted.

-The "pump" section didn't make any difference. It didn't benefit riders with mad skills, or good runners. It just broke your pace. Nonetheless, thanks a lot to the race organizers for going to such lengths to introduce a new obstacle in a CCC race.

-The Masters 30+ field was larger than ever (52 starters in a race that usually fields 20 to 30 riders). I got lapped, and I got passed by quite a few Masters 50+, who started their race two or three minutes behind me.

-I taught myself a new technique for getting rid of my opponents. It's called: Lead them into a big tree. I was doing the 4b race and I could feel somebody's breadth down my neck. I was able to hold him off for a while, but I was sure he would pass me during one of the zig-zag sections. So coming out of a corner, I took the turn way too wide, deliberately. If you did that, you were headed straight for a frontal crash into a huge tree. I corrected my line in the very last instant, avoiding the tree by an inch. The next thing I hear is a "No!!! Shit!" from my follower, who had unknowingly followed my wheel through the corner, plus screeching brakes. No more breadth down my neck--at least for a few minutes. Yessssss. I feel so evil.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Roberto is back!

The dude with the flowery helmet in the picture is no other than Roberto Heras, three-time Vuelta a España winner and found guilty of doping in 2005. The picture corresponds to the 2008 Brompton World Championships, where he placed 2nd. This year he took top honors, winning a Brompton S6L steed.

The BWC is a race held on a 13-km course around picturesque Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Participants are required to wear a jacket, tie, and shorts, and ride a Brompton folding bike.

Unlike Lance, who returned to pro racing to promote the fight against cancer, Heras' only motivation seems to be to wear ridiculous outfits and ride even more ridiculous bicycles, in a high-profile setting.

I'm not sure whether Roberto will get a rainbow jersey for his efforts, but I'm glad to see him back at the top. Go, killer, go!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New PR!

at the Coll d'Estenalles climb: 35' 50'' (previous PR: 36' 34'', on June 9, 2007).

Considering that now there is an additional roundabout and roadwork on the course, I'm pretty satisfied with the improvement.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quiet glory

If you're the kind of person who gets jealous, stop reading now. What I am going to describe is a day of quiet glory, a day that makes me feel thankful for being where I am and being who I am. And it happened last Saturday.

Around 7am I rolled out of the garage, on a relatively cool and crisp morning. On the way to the selected climb, this time about 22km from my house, I bumped into one of my very old teammates and his posse at Penya Nicky's, and we were both very pleased to see each other. We chatted, remembered together the good ol' moments and exchanged e-mail addresses. We parted ways though, as he was headed for a different route.

Just before the beginning of the climb, I crossed the old town of Caldes de Montbui. Notice the very European pavé

and the 16th century Church of Santa Maria:

Don't fill your bottles here in the summer! It's a thermal fountain and water comes out at 65 Celsius. Caldes de Montbui used to be a spa resort in Roman times.

After leaving the town behind, it was time to get down to business. The day's climb, El Farell, looks like this:

Click on the picture to enlarge

This is probably my favorite "coll" around here, not because it's the hardest or longest or highest, but because of its ever-present tree shade, very twisty road, and relatively forgiving gradients, which makes you feel fast, but at the same time gives you the impression that you're climbing something serious.

I climbed it all-out the first time, to beat my previous PR (which I did, but only by 10 seconds!). But I decided that this wasn't a hard enough workout for a "hard day," so I descended and then climbed El Farell again. This time I did it on a smaller gear, at a moderate tempo, and watching my climbing form. (And relishing the aromas of pine, rosemary and thyme that inundate the air in these parts.) Once at the top again, I descended along the other side of the mountain, to the tiny village of Sant Sebastià de Montmajor (population: 6). On the way down, by the way, I almost overshot a hairpin turn Ullrich-style (TdF 2001, stage 13, Peyresourde).

The hamlet boasts an 11th century church:

Luckily for me I have a Campagnolo drivetrain, so I am allowed to lean my bike on this church.

Next to the church there was this delightful little cafe with outdoor seating, which a few mountain bikers had already occupied. Sitting on the stones, sweaty and thirsty, but with a cool breeze on my face and birds chirping in the background, I had the best can of Coca-Cola ever. (Do you understand now why I say that bike riding in Chicago sucks?)

I climbed back to the top of El Farell and descended to the valley, and then rode home at a brisk pace, waving at (and zooming by) the numerous cyclists on the road.

Total route: about 87km.

I followed the cycling activities with a home-made seafood paella, then an evening visit to Gaudí's breathtaking Parc Güell in wonderful company. After that, dinner and catching-up with my very best friend, whom I had not seen in two years, in a posh restaurant. The conversation went into the wee hours of the morning, and I would be riding again on Sunday morning, but who cares?


I got around my technological issues, so get ready for a deluge of pics from my riding forays around here. For starters, pictures from the "no-coffee" coffee ride on Friday...

The thing you see in the background is my mountain, seen from the north end of my hometown. I grew up seeing that hill (altitude 1,095m or 3,593ft), called Sant Llorenç del Munt. That's not where I rode on Friday, though--there is no road that goes up there.

Another view of Sant Llorenç del Munt, a bit closer.

Road on the way to Coll d'Estenalles. Typical riding landscape around here: kind of steep roads, good pavement, and pines and oak trees and spiky bushes everywhere.

"Porcs senglars" means wild boars in Catalan. I didn't see any though.

One of the steepest sections of the climb, around km. 10. I didn't even bother chasing those guys--no chasing during coffee rides.

Textbook switchback.

The summit!

Friday, August 28, 2009

No-coffee coffee ride

Yesterday (Thursday) I spent the best part of the day in Madrid, taking care of some bureaucratic stuff--and paying a little visit to doctor F. for an "oil change"... hehehe. So no riding.
With all this traveling and what not I haven't slept much lately, so this morning (Friday) I rested and I did what in Chicago we would call "a coffee ride." Only that there are no coffee shops in the right places, or teammates to share the coffee with. (Yes, I miss that.)
Since I don't have any pancake-flat routes around here, I did the Coll d'Estenalles climb, but spinning the small gears and stopping along the way to take pictures. By the way, my dumb self forgot to take the USB cables for the camera, so I can't show you the photos (grrrrr...).

Click on the picture to enlarge


Nothing really to write home about, I guess: 14.7km, average gradient of 3.9%, and max gradient of about 9%. The start of the "coll", though, is just about 1 mile from my house! Three quarters of the route goes through forest, and half of it is within a nature preserve. Most of the route is on a narrow road, with barely enough space for two cars side to side. All in all, a very pleasant easy ride.

By the way, these twisty descents are pretty fun on my Ti steed--this is the first time I'm riding it here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Riding in Spain!

I'm spending a coupl' weeks with my folks, somewhere near Barcelona (sorry I can't be more specific about my whereabouts--the UCI vampires are after me).

Got home last night, put together the bike (the road bike) and went on my first ride this morning. I did what I call the "Volta a Gallifa" (i.e. Tour of Gallifa), a 63km loop with a few longish hills and constant changes in gradient. No categorized climbs today.

Sorry, no pictures. I was 100% on hammer mode. By the way, I discovered that my max HR is 1bpm higher than I thought. I didn't beat my PR on this course though, by 8 minutes. (My best time is 2h 1', from 7-8-2007.)

A few observations:

1. It's darn hot and humid here. I had to get up three times in the middle of the night, all sweaty, to drink water. The weather is what it is, though. I'd better change my attitude about this; otherwise I'm gonna be really miserable.

2. The hills look as steep as I remembered them, but they don't feel as tough. Good!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dairyland Dare: report and results

First of all, sorry if you visited Morning Roll last Sunday expecting updates from the DD. Half the time I didn’t have phone service; the other half I was too tired to think of anything entertaining to say.

For those who still don’t know, the Dairyland Dare is this brevet-style ride in southwest Wisconsin, starting a few miles west of Madison. Three things make DD different from your run-of-the-mill brevet: 1) The word ‘brevet’ is not in its name; 2) participants receive a timing chip; 3) it is advertised to “ironpeople” and similar endurance nuts. All of the above make the DD, I think, a relatively competitive event. The course is murderously hilly. Really. I climbed walls that exceeded a 20% gradient. Several times. Many others were between 10 and 20%. And I remember few stretches of flats. In fact, I switched so many times from small to big ring and vice versa that I was afraid I was gonna stretch the cables into some sort of bungee rope.

What follows is an exceedingly long and horrible report, which seems appropriate for that ride.

How it unfolded

About 5.30am: I get into my wool kit, which would keep me dry for the first 500 meters of the ride. But I looked classy. Well, at least for the first 500 meters. For the remaining 299.5km I looked like I had just come out of a tub of brine.

Joe and I are in the first wave of starters. There are about 50-60 riders. The others (up to 1,100 in total!) would start at different times during the morning. Riders in my group are attempting different distances, from 100 to 300km, but there’s no way to tell who is doing what.

Km. 0: Off we go! Ahead of me: the goal of 300km and the promise of a swimming pool, a shower, a massage, and a huge dinner in the evening, all provided by the Dairyland Dare organization.

Km. 2: A group of Castelli-clad overachievers quickly forms. I join them.

Km. 8: We hit some rollers and the Fast Guys keep pushing it. “Is it wise to push it now? What distance are these guys doing anyway? What if they’re doing just 100km? Is it wise to kill myself now, with more than 250km to go?” And as I think this I let them go, and any pretense of being in a race disappears. It is 6.20am. I would spend most of the rest of the ride by myself. Until 7.20pm it would be just me, my bike, and the Little Voice in my head.

Km. 35: It seems like the most energy-efficient thing to do is to climb piano piano, on the saddle, and descend as fast as I can.

Km. 38: First food stop. I stuff my face with trail mix and electrolyte capsules, refill the water bottles, drink a cup of electrolyte drink, and off we go!

Km. 47: I look down at my speedometer: 74 km/h. “If a deer crosses the road now, or a tire blows out, they’re gonna have to pick me up from the asphalt with a vacuum cleaner.”

Km. 132: “Hello, Mr. Aero Bars. Are you expecting to get the full aerodynamic benefit of those bars on the 15%-gradient hills? Or is it perhaps that you wish to have as little control as possible over your steering in the steep descents? Please, Mr. Bars, explain to this dumb roadie.”

Km. 167: Somehow I end up on a gravelly, unpaved road with a 10% downhill grade. “The person who designed this course is evil, but not a murderer. I must have taken a wrong turn.” I turn around. Yes, I missed a turn.

Km. 169: A long section of rollers. “Descents are so futile. For every descent, there’s one other hill staring at you and laughing at the pathetic excuse of a moving object that you are.”

Km. 170: Not feeling so fresh any more. In fact, this is not fun any more. “Why am I doing this? I could be doing a nice, stupid ride to Schererville instead. Who cares if I finish? Should I finish? I want ice cream.”

Km. 204: “Why doesn’t my chain break? Or a cable? Or something... Just some excuse to stop and go home…”

Km. 205: “Where is that damned food station? Where did they mark the distances to the food stations in miles? Did I miss a turn? I wanna be home…”

Km. 206: “Can I crash into that oncoming car? Just a little. Enough to get out of this with some dignity.”

Km. 211: Me: “My right foot hurts. A lot. That’s a good reason for quitting, right?”
Little Voice: “Nah, you never read ‘Rider X quits Tour de France because his foot hurt.’”
Me: “Maybe in The Onion?”

Km. 215: Blood-sugar self test: "How many units are there in a dozen?" "...err... Where is the next stop?"

Km. 219: I ride in a haze. My brain has swollen to fill all the space available in my skull. “Hereford cows are so pretty. I wish I could have a Hereford cow as a pet.”

Km. 225: “The nice thing about the sun is that it moves across the sky.”

Km. 227: Finally, the rest stop! I sit, dejected. I don't care what Joe thinks, what the Tati guys think, what anyone thinks. I'm done. I'm not moving. I'm done...

A guy in a kit from “VeloViet” on a Pinarello speaks to me. He and a guy in a Trek kit have been near me, in front or behind, the whole morning. I tell him that I feel like shit and that I’m quitting. He doesn’t look very good either though. I ask: “Are you gonna keep going?” “Oh yeah,” he says. “I drove five hours to do this.” He adds: “Just keep riding till Harris Park. That’s 266km!” “Nah, I don’t think so” I reply. The guy in the Trek kit sneers at me.

I walk towards the volunteer in charge of the food station. I’m gonna ask her what I have to do to get the sag car to take me back to the start zone. In the last second I steer away from her and walk towards my bike. “Just ride to the timing line for this rest station, 50 meters up the road, so that at least you get credit for this distance.” I ride to the timing line, then inertia keeps me going. I pedal very slowly. “OK, keep going till the Trek guy and the VeloViet guy catch you. Then you can quit.”

Km. 242: Trek catches me.
“OK, keep going till the VeloViet guy catches you. Then you can quit.”

Km. 244: I stop at a tiny water station on top of a hill to take a breather. Then VeloViet guy passes by me and invites me to follow him. I hop on my bike and join him.

Km. 250: I feel better and better. I pedal with renewed strength. My foot doesn’t hurt any more. I ride with the VeloViet guy.

Km. 252: I feel pretty strong, considering the mileage covered already. I drop VeloViet. I’m moving a decent gear and can even pay attention to my form. Now I have the certainty that I’m going to finish the 300km. Yay!

Km. 254: VeloViet and I regroup at a rest stop. We encourage each other. I can tell he’s cooked, even more than I am. “Let’s take it easy” he says. “OK” I reply. I drop him 200 meters later.

Km. 266: I arrive at the finish point. Now just one more 33km loop. I see Alison, who takes a picture of me I think. “Do you need anything” she asks. I shake my head. I don’t need to stop know. I cross the timing point and turn around. This is the home stretch!

Km. 280: I’m lost. Less than 20km to finish and I get lost!!! I take out my iPhone to find my location. No service! Wait… I get a weak signal. I start fumbling with the mapping application, but in my state of tiredness and confusion I can’t make it work. Shit, shit, shit!!!! I don’t wanna do this any more. I wanna curl up in fetal position, roll on the grass, and sob. “No, you can’t do that.” “Of course not.” I decide to backtrack to the parking lot, even though that’s not the designated route. Nobody will know. “That’s cheating!!” “SHUT UP!”

Km. 284: I stand at the intersection I missed, and precisely at that moment Joe, who had been slower during most of the ride, takes the turn, all smiles. “Hey!” he salutes. “Damn it, now I can’t cheat.”

Km. 285: Joe and I started at the same time, so if we finish together we’ll get the same finishing time. I can’t let that happen. I CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN. “Dude, time for the performance-enhancing tricks! Let’s see… what do we have? Paris-Roubaix 1972. You’re Roger De Vlaeminck. With 20km to go, you ride away from the selected pack of favorites to glory in the velodrome! Yes, that should do it! I can be De Vlaeminck!” And as I think this De Vlaeminck/me stands on his bike and powers away from Joe. 15 km of feverish gear-grinding, corner-carving ensues.

Km. 299.8: “The finish line! I can see it! OK, you made it. You can relax now. No, wait, Alison is taking pictures!! Gotta look good!” And as I think this I clench my teeth and sprint, storming towards the camera. And then bliss falls upon me.

Joe rolls in 3’15’’ later, as fresh as a cucumber. How does he do it?

7.45pm: The parking lot is half empty. Half the volunteers are gone. Half the food is gone. No massages any more. No showers. No swimming pool. I clean myself as well as I can with a wet towel in a toilet booth.

It almost doesn’t matter. I came so close to quitting but I didn’t. I feel an immense sense of achievement. And Alison, Steve and Angela were awesome. They had stashed away a bunch of food for Joe and myself, so we were taken care of.

Epilogue: The following day

Back in Hyde Park. I bump into my friend K., a non-cyclist.

K: Hey, how’s your weekend? You were riding your bike, right?

Me: Oh yeah, I rode almost 190 miles in the hills. My longest and most challenging ride eve…

K: Ah… that’s cool. Well, my Saturday was really exciting, you know? I found these shoes… OMG! They’re like awesome, ‘cause they match that turquoise handbag I told you about, and the scarf from Bloomingdale’s for the fall season. I drove around for like 12 hours looking for them, and then at the last one they had them and I was like so excited… I saw the shoes there and it looked like that was the only pair, and they were my size! How about that as a culmination to a long day? I felt soo complete. I went to get some ice cream to celebrate.

Me: Yeah…awesome…


I finished 18th. My official time is 13h 17’, which includes stops, and my riding time is 12h 2’. The best time was 11.5 hours. Two women beat me. Check out the provisional results here. (Scroll down aaaaall the way to the bottom to the see the results for the 300km ride.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finished the 300! Riding time: 12h 2'; total time: 13h 20' Hardest thing ever.
Km91 climbing piano, descending all out
Km0 About to roll to the start line. Shute! Forgot the rollers to warm up!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I have ADD*

*Anxiousness about the Dairyland Dare

Tomorrow (Saturday), I'm doing this Dairyland Dare ride: 300km of hills in Wisconsin. This is the longest ride I have ever attempted, by far--my previous max is about 230km.

Given the hills (about 28,000 feet of climbing in total, more than the entire Mount Everest), and that participants in this ride take it pretty seriously (we are timed with a timing chip), this will be probably the most challenging thing I have ever attempted on a bike.

Hopefully I will be able to post updates on how it's going in real time! (That's why I set up the mobile update feature, hehehe.) Look forward to mini-posts like: "OMG, I think I'm blind" or "I can see death."


Testing... Now I can post to morningroll via e-mail!
Testing... Now I can post to morningroll via SMS!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dolan cyclocross bike

Now available at Tati Cycles (not necessarily with this build kit).

Essentially, it's a Dolan frameset with Shimano 105 components. The goal was to produce an affordable and reliable bicycle, at the same price as the entry-level 'cross bikes they sell in big stores, but with a higher quality. It turned out to be pretty good looking too. (I still need to work on the colors of the cockpit.) Total weight, sans pedals, is 20.6 lbs.


-Frameset: Dolan multicross, 54cm (comes with headset, aluminium seatpost and carbon fork)
-Cranks: Sugino RD single speed, 175mm, black
-Chainring: Spot, 42T, 130mm, black
-Bottom bracket: Shimano BB UN54, 110mm
-Rear derailleur: Shimano 105 RD-5600, 10-speed, short cage
-Shifter: Shimano 105 ST-5600, 10-speed
-Chain: Shimano 105 CN-5600, 10-speed
-Cassette: Shimano 105 CS-5600, 12T-25T
-Brakes: Tektro CR720 (not Oryx!), black, with Kool Stop salmon brake pads (bought separately, these brake pads don't come with the Tektro brakes).
-Handlebars: aluminium, mystery brand (from another bike), anatomic bend, 26.0mm, 42cm
-Stem: aluminium, mystery brand, from another bike, Kalloy, 90mm
-Pedals: Shimano SPD M520, black
-Saddle: WTB Devo (CrMo rails)
-Rims: Mavic Open Pro, black (radial lacing on the front, 3-cross on the rear)
-Front hub: Shimano Ultegra 6500, 28h
-Rear hub: Shimano Ultegra 6600, 32h
-Chain keeper: Paul Components

Monday, August 3, 2009

CX videos: That´s all well and good in practice...

but how does it work in theory?

Don't deny it. The C-word is already in your mind. In fact all you can think about is mud, dismounts and cowbells. For newbies like myself, here's a compilation of aaaaaall the CX tutorials I posted last year.

I know that they don't cover every aspect of the sport. And some of you CXperts out there may have cringed at the advice provided by Mickey Denoncourt. But if a few of you learned something by watching these videos, as I have, I I have accomplished something.

Dismounting I

1) Dismounting I. Part I . Introduction to dismounting and remounting.

2) Dismounting I. Part II. How to dismount a cyclocross bike.

3) Dismounting I. Part III. Doing a step-through technique.

Dismounting II

1) Dismounting II. Part I. Dismounting a bike at speed in CX racing.

2) Dismounting II. Part II. How to dismount in sand from a CX bike.

3) How to dismount your 'cross bike. (Scroll down about two thirds down the list of videos.)


1) How to remount your 'cross bike. (Click on the "how to" section and then scroll down to near the bottom of the list of videos.)

2) How to remount a cyclocross bike at a run

3) How to dismount and remount in cyclocross racing

Off-the-bike skills I

1) How to carry and shoulder your 'cross bike. (Again, click on the "how-to" tab and scroll down to the end of the list of videos.)

2) How to carry a cyclocross bike on a shallow run.

3) How to shoulder a cyclocross bike for a steep run.

Off-the-bike skills II

1) How to go through barriers in a CX race
( has its own video on going through barriers, but as of the time of writing this post, I couldn't play it. Maybe you'll have better luck: How to get through barriers. Click on the "how-to" tab. You'll find this video near the end of the list.)

2) How to run in sand in CX racing

On-the-bike skills I

1) How to pedal when cyclocross racing

2) Tips for riding light

3) How to work with obstacles

4) How to descend a hill

5) Body positioning tips for hill descents

On-the-bike skills II

1) How to brake in a turn on CX bikes

2) How to make sharp turns on a CX bike

3) How to go through closed corners

4) How to go through open corners

On-the-bike skills III

1) Tips for riding steep climbs

2) Riding off-cambers

3) How to race in mud

4) How to race in sand

Training techniques

1) Sprinting drill

2) Doing double sets

3) How to practice starting

Racing tips I

1) Overall advice about racing

2) How to prepare for a cyclocross race (warm-up)

3) How to start a race

4) How to pace yourself

5) How to pace yourself on a run

6) How to pass people (better on straight sections)

7) How to use the pit

8) How to finish a race (raising your arms, right?)

Racing tips II

1) How to analyze the course

2) Pre-race strategies (eat, drink, warm-up. Mickey is a big fan of coffee too.)

3) Terrain considerations

4) Race tactics

CX bicycles

1) What kind of bike is used in CX?

2) Road bike vs CX bike

3) CX gearing

4) Chainrings and chain retention tips

5) CX handlebar width

6) Seat height

7) Handlebar controls

8) Setting up the brakes

9) Tweaking the brakes

10) Tweaking the cable routing


1) How to adjust cyclocross clincher tire pressure

2) How to adjust cyclocross tubular tire pressure

3) How to select a cyclocross bike tire tread

4) Why you should have a spare set of tires


1) What head gear and shirt to wear in cyclocross biking

2) What to gear for the elements in cyclocross biking

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Rider

Thanks a lot to Joe K., who first insisted that I read this book. Even though the English translation was published in 2002, I didn't learn about The Rider till now, so I thought others might not know either.

The Rider. By Tim Krabbé. Bloombsbury, 2002; 148 pages; about $6.

“Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.” Every cyclist who has raced more than handful of times must read this book. Non-cyclists, on the other hand, will not even begin to understand it.

This is the first fiction book I have ever read about bicycle racing. And I think I shall never dare reading anything else—“The Rider” has set the bar so high that I fear any other book will let me down.

Set in 1977, The Rider describes a 137km amateur race in southern France, from the point of view of one of its protagonists. The narrator is a 30-something year-old Dutchman who started racing at the ripe age of 29, rising to notable success in the amateur racing scene of Belgium/Netherlands. The novel begins and ends with the race, but it takes you through numerous detours through the narrator’s infancy, his cycling career, local racing lore, and even stories from professional racing. (No prior knowledge of cycling history is needed, but you’ll enjoy the book the most if you know who De Vlaeminck was, for example.)

The Rider fills your head with faded images of dangerous descents on rain-soaked roads, weary legs attacking a climb, toe clips, forty-three nineteen, figs and half an orange in a jersey pocket, exhausted riders sitting on a curb after the effort of their lives. This book articulates all the epic of road racing, without any of the podium glamour, team radios, or soigneurs waiting for you at the finish line.

Two ingredients make this book stand out, in my opinion. The first is Mr. Krabbé’s candidness. The protagonist of this odyssey, a modest amateur racer at best, does not hesitate to share his fantasies about riding with Merckx and Coppi, and even calls himself “a hero.” But he also lets us see his humanity, and even his mean side.

The second ingredient is passion for cycling. The opening quote in this review says it all. This is a human being who lives to race. Somebody would be tempted to say that Tim Krabbé the rider would not exist without bicycle racing. I would say that if racing didn’t exist, it would have to be invented, just because of this man.

Now click here and then push the little button that says “Add to shopping cart.” You won’t regret it.

Other blurbs about this book:

-by Belgium Knee Warmers

-by Rapha