Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DiLuca- Doper

Anyone who doubted whether DiLuca was clean or up

That stupid SOB - its been clear for a while that he was riding outside his ability. His performance at the Giro was confirmation in my mind that he was on the juice. I think the days of totally heroic performances maybe gone...and I think thats good.  As amazing as these professionals are, they are still human, still have limits and still have to face when they cannot compete, cannot deliver, and cannot win. These are the weaknesses that make them interesting and compelling...not total dominance, and infallibility. When we watched Ivan Basso climb away from the competition in the Giro just prior to the Operacion Puerto bust, my heart sank. I knew then that he was juiced. I knew at that moment that someone I found compelling and likable was infected, like so many other riders.  Watching DiLuca do the same thing this year was just another example.  I hope there is some learning going on in the peloton

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gettin' a little love

So last weekend, I got a little love sort of mysteriously flow my way through the interwebs. As an industrial designer, I 'maintain' an online portfolio on a industrial design site called Coroflot. They featured a design of mine in 'featured designers' which is a rotating set of images that last a few days and then gets a new set of designers to feature. Other designers see the featured work and can 'likey' it, adding it to their personal set of designers/art/design that they like. Well, I guess my design broke a 'likey' record and got noticed by the Core folks- and an article was written. While the article is not 'about' me, it does mention me. Which in my little world is like having an article written about me. Sweet.

It was a good weekend all around. I also recieved a patent letter in the mail on Saturday. So now, officially, there is a US patent with my name on it. First one. Several more in the works.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A True Champion

Back in 1984 I had one cycling hero.. maybe the last hero I had, and that was Bernard Hinault. Here in the states, he got a rap for being the guy who betrayed Opie, I mean Greg Lemond, during the '86 tour. As far as I'm concerned it was Greg who betrayed himself with his naivete and lack of acumen in discerning the nature of the relationship.

Hinault is a champion. From his youth he was a champion. You cannot take a champion like him to the vet and nueter him. He will be a pitbull no matter what. His allegence is to himself, to cycling, even to the attack itself. To pure blood of the kill. Look at the way he raced. He charged the towers when he raced. Screaming at the parapets. He lunged for the jugular when the jugular was just out of reach, daring his competitors to walk the line with him. Flame out or quench his thirst with the blood of glory. A cyclist. A hero in the greekest sense.

Since the 'Armstrong era' began I've had this feeling that something about cycling had changed since I'd left it. The brash, confident and reckless attacks of the likes of Sean Kelly or Bernard Hinault were missing in my mind. The calculated, controlled and overbearing control of the race that Postal, or Discovery exerted stifled the race, stifled the spirit of cycling. Proof that control will win races, the directors began plotting conservative strategies on race control and dominance. The individual personalities, the passion and suffering of the individual was placed in service to this control. Where was the brash attack? The suicide break? 'killing is not enough, you must win the fight' keeps running through my head. Hinault always rode without fear- Fear of others, or his own limitations. He flew from the pack when it served his interest, his desire, his intention. He did not fear his director, his teammates, the peloton, the fans, or even his sponsors. He road for himself. In his interview posted this evening on VeloNews crystallizes all of this.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our sacred cows

I find this article interesting- and a little annoying. I don't know the author so I don't know how much to trust him, and he plays fast and loose with some of it. But overall, provocative. It's a long read, but a good one. It does touch on the issue of heroes in American culture, whether we're talking Jesus, or Baseball. We are likely to look beyond faults or contradictions in an effort to preserve our icons as infallible and without contradiction. We tell stories about George Washington, John McCain, and whoever else, as heroes. Self sacrificing, Gawd and country before self and others..its a lie. It's a myth. We are weaker for these myths, not stronger.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome to the Velodrome Pt.2

One of the reasons I quit racing when I was a junior- the real reason- was pressure. I put so much pressure on myself to succeed that all I could do was fail. Even moderate success was a failure. Its a bit like the '2nd is the first looser' thing. I get the point, but on the other hand, unless you're a pro, and you need to win in order to keep getting paid, the notion that winning is the only measure of success is absurd in my opinion. Now, I'm not a kids soccer coach - I think wining is awesome and I really, really like to win. But that cant be the only reason.

So the lead up to this Saturday's race I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. It was keeping me up. It was making me nervous. In fact, it still is. With good form comes expectations, and expectations create pressure. I am not immune. I don't like it. I'd rather just race, do well- what ever that means, and have fun...and not have expectations. How can I make that happen?

Part of what I really love about bike racing is tactics. I love studying opponents. I love formulating hypotheses about their behavior and testing it, confirming it, and creating a plan of attack based on that information. Its the closest I come to feeling like a arouses the same deep seated emotions. Its a blood lust. The more I study the riders, the more I feel the predatory instinct and the more I want to tear the other rider's heads off- metaphorically speaking of course. Saturday was a great study in predatory nature. It was like being in the alligator pit where natural law plays out at every level of the pecking order. Giant adult alligators pick on the adolescent ones, they on the immature ones, and they, in turn, on the little baby ones. In this alligator pit, I'm really just a little baby, but of the little babies, I'm fucking awesome.

Starting with the flying 200m for seeding each rider does three laps around the track. By the beginning of the last lap you should be just about flying. When you hit turn two, your bike hits the timing strip, activating the clock. By now, you should be full-tilt-boogey for the finish line. The faster you get there the higher in the seeding you are, and the easier your route to the final. I didn't hit turn two fast enough, I wasn't really cooking. But I wound it up and blasted home: 14:23. second best among the 5's. I was beaten by :03 seconds. Had I just hit it a bit harder...

I haven't really done much track racing here in Portland, or anywhere else for that matter. But the first person I was matched up with I already knew a little. I had raced against him in the Fast Twitch Friday that I went out for with my teammates. In the points race, he had gone hard off the front from the gun in an attempt to shell everyone, I guess. He ended up burning himself out and finishing back. I knew that he lacked experience, tactics, and maybe even a sense of how strong he thought he was. I was lucky enough to draw second wheel in the sprint - an advantage.

On the bell lap he dropped down to the sprinter's lane at turn two going full gas. I caught his wheel, followed him through turn three, pulled around by turn four and went clean wheels for the win.

My second match was nearly the same. I had seen him in his previous heat and hadn't displayed a lightning quick jump. All I felt I needed was to make sure to catch his wheel. I would have enough to get by on the third or fourth turn.

In the final, I was matched up against a Half Fast Velo rider. He too had not shown a big jump. Instead, he had jumped and preceded to burn the other rider off his wheel. He had done that twice. Its a good tactic, if you have the motor. I drew first wheel for the final, after two second wheels I was due, I guess. But I was unhappy about it. My lack of experience had me worried. Would I make a stupid error and let the win slip away? I knew that if I dialed it up and kept the pace high that I would neutralize what jump he did have, and make chasing him down easier. I stayed high along the top of the track, keeping an eye on him over my left shoulder. That way he couldn't disappear and surprise me. We burned through the first two laps at about twenty mph or so. Right at the apex between turn one and two on the bell lap he attacked below me, taking the sprinters lane. I attacked down the banking, grabbed his wheel and pulled around him on turn three. By turn four I was clear, in the sprinters lane, and coming home clean wheels. I'd won. Best baby alligator of the bunch- Catagory 5 state sprint champion.

all photos courtesy of Jose brujo Sandoval- Thanks, Jose.