Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From The Bicycle Retailer: Little Rock Orbea Store Update

This story is old news to many close to the Little Rock retail bike market, but it's the freshest information that I've heard in awhile.

Orbea Plans Company-Owned Concept Store

06/24/2010 5:00 PM MST

DEER VALLEY, UTAH (BRAIN)—Orbea plans to open a company-owned concept store this fall in Little Rock, Arkansas, home of the Spanish brand’s U.S. headquarters.

The store will replace the outlet store Orbea opened in late 2008 to sell its dated and blemished stock. The new shop is scheduled to open around Sept. 1.

The idea is to develop a forward-thinking retail model where the store acts as a hub of the cycling community, said Tony Karklins, managing director of Orbea USA.

“This project is trying to think what bicycle retailing is going to be like in 10 years,” Karklins said during an interview Thursday at PressCamp, where Orbea is launching its top-of-the-line 2011 Orbea Orca road bike.

Karklins envisions the store with an art gallery like vibe where local bike clubs gather to watch the Tour de France or cyclists attend clinics on fitting or women’s-specific instructional courses.

In researching the concept, Karklins traveled the country visiting shops rich with bike culture that were built around trails, bike paths or coffee shops. He cited Salt Lake City’s Contender Bicycles as a success story in creating a reason for consumers to visit beyond just the product it sells.

“I look at computer stores and record stores and they’re gone, but they didn’t have a reason to exist,” Karklins said.

Another purpose of the store is to act as a controlled test market for other models, categories and pricepoints in the European brand’s range.

It will not compete with other Orbea retailers as there are none in Little Rock or the surrounding area, and there are no plans to expand the concept to other U.S. markets, Karklins said.
A second Orbea-owned store is planned for Seville Spain, about 500 miles south of the company’s home in Mallabia.

—Nicole Formosa

Gentlemen (and Ladies, of course), Place Your Bets....

Sports betting is big business all over the world and the Tour de France is a big play. Way back on April Foll's Day, I posted some early betting lines for the 2010 Tour.

The bets were few, but things have firmed up as the horses near the gate.

...and the odds are:

To win:
Alberto Contador  4/7
Andy Schleck       19/2
Lance Armstrong  64/5
Ivan Basso           25/1
Bradley Wiggins   25/1

Green Jersey points winner:
Mark Cavendish   9/4
Thor Hushovd     6/1
Tyler Farrar       13/2

That's the line as of today at one site. I'm not much of a betting man, but I believe that the smart money is usually a fair predictor of results. Of course, the smartest money stays home and there's always some just plain crazy money out there!

"Most Items In Window For Sale...."

....but not all!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tour Buzz

The Tour starts this week and the buzz is growing! I'm pumped about the racing but fear it will be overshadowed by a series of Lance/doping bombs as the New York Times prepares to release another Floyd-based article while reporters and prosecutors salivate at the prospect of world-wide notoriety.

That aside, I'm ready to start looking at stage schedules and setting my DVR and computer to "record series". Having Contador, the Schlecks, Vinokourov, Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso all in the same Tour de France allows us to see two generations of the best. I hope that the Tour is an epic battle on the bikes and that racing doesn't take a back seat to scandal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

High Altitude Road Ride: The Return of The Asthmatic Snorkler

Diane is still smiling, as usual, after a few miles of climbing at Mt. Shavano. Knickers and arm warmers were the order of the day!

Last year I reported my struggles in riding at Salida's 7000' altitude. First note, it's hard to realize that I've kept at this blog for that long! Anyway, I've come back from Colorado in each of the last couple of years with my tail tucked between my seat stays, first due to injury, then due to a seeming total inability to ride at altitude. I suffered and gasped and was taken aback as to the limiting affect of the thin air, which I don't really notice at that level while boating or while engaged in other nonaerobic activities. Anyway, this year went a little better. First, Diane and I did a mountain bike road ride that climbed moderately for about 4 miles and we both fared better than we had previously. I guess it's just the result of another year of fitness, but I felt a little bit redeemed. I had not become a monster on the bike, but at least I felt that I could hang at a moderate cruising pace. With that in mind, I let Kent Davidson lead me on a ride in the river valley that culminated with a 7 mile climb up Poncha Pass. Poncha is a "baby" pass in comparison to the longer Independence Pass and the longer and much steeper Cottonwood Pass, both of which are in the 12,000' range. Poncha climbs a little over 2000' at an average of 6% grade, topping out at 9000'.

Kent showed me around some of the valley county roads, which are fairly flat and carry little traffic, but you just have to put up with the scenery.

When I saw the sign that said "Poncha Pass 7 Miles", I knew that I was going to be at work for awhile and encouraged Kent to ride on while I settled in at my own pace. I resolved several things as I climbed, one of which is that I'd have to break down and buy a compact crank if I rode out here often. The altitude wasn't really slowing me much, but as my lower back tightened, I had the impulse to step off the bike for just a moment to stretch, but I bullshitted myself up the mountain..." Ok, I'll stretch after that guardrail...OK, after this steeper stretch..." and soon enough, I spotted Kent announcing that I was at the top.

Inevitably, we had to start climbing. It was my longest sustained climb ever, I'll readily admit. The gradient was fairly moderate, only complicated by a few steep pitches and incessant headwinds.

I love to fly down hills, but on the long descent I was a little intimidated by the buffeting winds and the amount of sand on the side of the road we'd just climbed (Kent assured me that the downhill side was clean. I trusted him, but he'd ridden it recently to access trails in training for the Leadville 100 and I had not!), so I seldom got over 40 MPH. Higher speeds were easily attainable. The 7 mile ride down took something over 12 minutes, while my ride up had taken closer to 55 minutes. We headed back into Salida, having ridden about 45 miles, and called it done. I still aspire to climb the higher passes, but I have a way to go and that will have to wait until next year. For now, I'm just glad to know that I can get around out there.

We finished up the ride by meeting Diane at the Boathouse Cantina for a lunch of tacos and a cold local I.P.A. Note the view of the whitewater play park, the site of the Hooligan Race. This town is just very cool!

Back at our cabin, Diane led us on a little hike and some chilling with the pups.

The core of FIBArk is boating on the Arkansas, with the country's best rodeo boaters showing their stuff in one of the more popular spectator events.

Here's a view from the "F" Street Bridge of the Boathouse Cantina overlooking the play park.

Rodeo riders and play boats are lined up at the launch ramp

Jackson Kayaks are hot with the hole riding crowd, as founder Eric "EJ" Jackson has been a champion of one whitewater discipline or another as long as I can remember. The whole family goes on the road promoting the business as pro boaters and competing in events. Above, 16 year-old Dane Jackson throws a dynamic aerial loop as his sister Emily looks on between rounds of the Hooligan Race. The Jackson clan is legendary in the whitewater world.

But it's also a bike town, with the valley being mostly flat and everything you need a short pedal away for most folks. Cruisers rule on "F" Street, the main drag.

Life is good in Salida, but be prepared to breath a little harder!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Here's a description from the FIBArk site: This year marks the 62nd anniversary of FIBArk, the nation's oldest whitewater festival and Salida's signature event. Since 1949, every June during the Spring snow runoff, Salida has hosted FIBArk, "First in Boating on the Arkansas." Located in Salida's historic downtown, Riverside Park is the center of FIBArk activity and entertainment. Food, arts and crafts, and industry vendors are available, as well as a beer tent, a carnival, and a state-of-the art amphitheater for this year's extraordinary musical line-up. ..and a link to the schedule of events: Among the frantic no-trail hill climb race up and down Tenderfoot Mountain, 5k and 10 K races, a parade in which Diane, Willie, and Zuli marched proudly with a whole pack of comical canines, carnival food, New Belgium beers, whitewater rodeos, mountain bike races, downriver kayak races, and a BoaterX event on the Class V Pine Creek section of the Arkansas River ( a place where someone seems to get killed almost every year, as was the case for a rafter last Sunday), several nights of very good live music, etc, etc, THE BIG EVENT is the Hooligan Race. The rules are that you are to make a watercraft from anything that was never intended to be a boat and run it down through some big wave holes that make up the Salida Whitewater Park. This year's entries ranged from the best-of-show "bike guy" to the Mobile Dispensary, built in the shape of a smoking bong in a tip of the lid to Colorado's medical marijuana laws, to a simple block of foam. A covered wagon pulled by unicorns competed with a Roman chariot being towed by a pair of leaping dolphins, and they all then had to slip under the arches of the "F" Street Bridge downstream. Needless to say, it is hilarious carnage by design, hosted on the loudspeaker by the wise-cracking 2010 New Belgium FIBArk Commodore: Mr. P.T. Wood. The best surviving entrants returned for finals. The bike guy got "Best Of Show" and was also the only raft to could be ridden back to the owner's truck!

Bike Guy's machine had a second chain from his cassette which then attached to a gearbox which in turn drove a propeller shaft. He could move around with surprising power in the water and rolled just fine on the road, too.

Here's a shot of the drive train.

Commodore P.T. Wood was a great supporter of New Belgium Beer, FIBArk's key sponsor. He challenged participants in the next day's mountain bike races to stick around until closing time, drinking at a local hot spot. Riders who made the 2:00AM closing time AND won their race the next morning received the Commodore Cup, whatever the hell that was!

The next morning featured the mountain bike race over 3 laps over courses of various difficulty depending on your category. I rode up to a gnarly section of the expert course before the race started and was a bit embarrassed at having to walk up a portion of the way on an old county road that was also part of the course. I was somewhat redeemed to see many of the experts walking the same stretch as I rode back to town. Granted, some of them were on single speeds!

I'll give it to the Commodore. He was out on the expert mountain bike race course come Sunday morning....and on a rigid steel-frame 29er from a local builder. I think he made two laps and DNF'd, but his official duties were many.

The guys who rode this made it look easy for the most part.

It was steep, stepped and ragged rock. Not a good place to go down.

This switchback may have been an even worse place to go down, as it's a tad exposed! The trail surface is mostly very loose sand and loose rocks on a hard rock base. Makes for touchy traction.

 Hope you enjoyed a peek at FIBArk. There's a whole lot more to it, but that's it for tonight!  If you plan to go to Colorado in the summer months, the festival is the third weekend in June. The Salida area offers good riding, good boating, great weather and a vibrant small-town culture tied closely to the outdoor recreation the area offers. Monarch ski area is close by, so the locals play outside all year long.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Death In The Family

I can't overlook the tragic death of Little Rock cyclist, Marilyn Fulper, aged 56. The accident on Cantrell Road and Rodney Parham has been widely reported within the local cycling community and well-covered by the local media. It gives us a pause to be reminded of what vulnerable being we are any time we take to the road on the bike, even when we ride by all of the rules. The incident reported here a few months ago involving Tom Ezell being rear-ended at a downtown traffic signal made for some good stories,  but the result could have been equally tragic.
How do these things happen? It's easy to see in this case. The red light for crossing Cantrell from Rodney Parham is painfully long and yet the green is so short that it is easily missed if you are behind a couple of cars. The road is six lanes wide and it's difficult to see all of the lanes on westbound Cantrell if there are cars lined up in the left turn lane. Cyclists, myself included, tend to scamper across quickly. In Marilyn's case, what should have been a safe, protected crossing of a busy road coincided with a moment of inattention on the part of a driver. On the phone, late for church, just daydreaming? We've all had lapses behind the wheel but, luckily for most of us, they pass without incident. I didn't know Marilyn Fulper, but she was a cyclist and I wish her spirit well. She was memorialized by friends tonight and "ghost bikes" placed at the intersection as a reminder to all who pass, an event that was very well-covered on Fox 16 news and probably other media as well. It is no solace to her family and friends, but perhaps her loss will help to raise the level of awareness of cyclists on the road among people in our community.
 Ride carefully. Drive safely. Let's watch out for each other.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Local Cycling Blog

 with a mountain bike slant....

My friend Bryan Shipman has started a blog on the Arkansas Cycling and Fitness site. Bryan is a mountain biker who will occasionally hit the road, he's an active CARP ride leader, trail builder at Camp Robinson and a good writer. Check him out and I'll get a permanent link up as soon as I'm awake enough to manage it.

Catching Up: Gone to Colorado

Well, we're home after a long week of riding, boating, visiting, snoozing, cruising, eating, drinking and festival-going along the Arkansas River in Colorado.
Any way you cut it, it's a long damn drive to Colorado, about 1000 miles to our specific destination near Salida.

I mentioned in my most recent post the cool little motel that we found in Raton, N.M.. Here are a few photos of the Melody Lane Budget Host Raton:

The freeway passed the Melody Lane Motel by, but it is in good hands and provided a very pleasant break in a long drive.

The bathroom had a steam shower that appeared to be from an age gone by, but it worked great and I want one! It had none of today's wimpy safety limits and was hot enough to cook veggies, I believe.

Willie and  Zuli took the "Pets Welcome" policy to heart

We got to our rental cabin early Saturday afternoon and were delighted with our choice. We were renting the guest house of folks named Chip and Peggy Barton, so how could we go wrong? The South Fork of the Arkansas runs as a clear cold stream behind the tree line in the image above.

The teepee added to the view from the hot tub.

Diane especially enjoyed the pond and small beach. She took a swim one warm afternoon, but I passed. There's a fine line between refreshing and just damned cold. The Barton's house was nice enough from the outside, but I was blown away by the interior. Peggy was the designer and Chip is a master builder. They had incorporated carved panels and columns from Bali, tropical hardwoods salvaged in Honduras from Hurricane Felix, native stone and more. I could have spent a day just being shown the various elements of construction and design. Chip is currently considering an offer to build an ecotourism lodge in the north of India.

We could ride mountain bikes from the house on a combination of dirt and paved roads. There's an access to the highly touted Rainbow Trail a couple of miles away, but we didn't make it very far in that direction.

On Monday, Kent Davidson and I hooked up with friends Mike and Ben to run the Numbers section of the Arkansas
The water was cold, big and pretty pushy. This is one of my favorite stretches of whitewater anywhere. It's fast, continuous and just plain fun!

I'll be trying to catch up for awhile, but the week was full of good stuff!  Tomorrow, it's back to work, but I'll be rolling out new stuff as soon as I can put it together and write it up.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pack Up The Pick-Up

Almost every June, Diane and I pack up the truck, load up the dogs and head west to the Arkansas River Valley of the Colorado Front Range. I started making the trip in around 1980 when Don "L.A." Brookings and I tied our kayaks onto the 2x4 roof racks of my Toyota Corolla hatchback and drove out in search of the legendary whitewater of the Rockies. We found what we were looking for and I've made the trip almost every year since, so it was only natural that Diane and I honeymooned here and I've celebrated most of my birthdays here for decades. The towns of Buena Vista and Salida have served as our bases of operation. While we were attracted to the area by the boating and the usually fantastic summer weather, since I've been riding I've aspired to hit the roads and ride the high passes but this was easier said than done. The altitude severely limited our abilities and, though we did a little riding, it seemed that we never really got into a good groove on the bikes. Our hope was that this year would be a little different.
Back in my early boating days, we'd make the 1000 mile drive straight through, but Diane and I break up the drive with an overnight stay along the way. This year, we decided to take a full day driving on Friday in order to arrive in Salida mid-day on  Saturday. Our Friday night destination was Raton, N.M., just south of the Colorado border. Lodging choices are sparse in Raton, especially if you are travelling with a couple of dogs, so the Motel 6 had been our landing spot on a couple of earlier trips. Hoping to find an option, I got on line and came up with a small motel that got great write-ups from travelers, the Melody Lane Budget Host. It is likely 50's vintage and looks the part, a single-story motel left stranded by on the old highway by the construction of nearby I-25 in a row of similar motels. What differentiated the Budget Host was that fact that it was immaculate, with a lush little lawn and freshly painted buildings. The metal cut-out musical notes welded to the decorative fence in a tip to Melody Lane reminded me a little of Graceland. The owner was friendly and the rooms were, if a little dated, quiet, freshly painted, newly carpeted and absolutely spotless and the bathroom had a steam shower that made me want one at home.. Due to my geezer status, the rate was discounted from 75.00 to 58.00, plus a 5.00 per pup pet fee. I've paid three times the price for a room that had none of the comfort and charm of the Budget Host Raton. This was a good start!
We have friends in Salida who have  graciously been our hosts for the last couple of week-long trips out, but for fear of wearing out our welcome, we decided to try to find a place to rent for the front end of our vacation. Diane located a place owned by a couple named Chip and Peggy Barton. The name had to be a good sign, so we booked it. The Colorado Bartons live on 80 acres a few miles outside of Salida and use their guest house as a vacation rental.  Once again, we hit the jackpot. As write, I'm looking up-valley at snow-capped peaks, Diane is sunning out by the cool, clear pond beside the South Arkansas River, which borders the property, and Willie and Zuli are carefully ignoring Matilda, the Aussie-border collie mix who is the home-dog and really wants them to play!
I'll have tall tales and some photos soon,  but I left my camera's USB cable at home and Diane's notebook won't accept my memory card, so I'm media-challenged at the moment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday Night At The Crits

Once again, the Tuesday Fast Girl ride was a smaller than average group and over an abbreviated route so that we could go up and check out the Ronde van Burns Crits, hosted by Competitive Cyclist. Once again, Team Panther took top honors, but the 'A' race was very different from last week. Last week, the pack stayed mostly intact for the entire race. This week, the field was shattered and down to only 15 of 30 starters with 29 minutes left on the 55 minute race clock. Tough crowd. I think Team Panther came in with a plan, as the attacks were frequent and had the desired effect of softening up the bunch. Noah Singer put on the pressure late with a solo attack which set up a pair of his teammates for a winning two man escape containing Kris French and Zach Spinhirne-Martin. Kris took the win and Noah rolled in third at the front of the small remaining pack.

USA Cycling official Steve Shepherd calling the roll.

Who's making fart noises?

And, they're off. The hard pace and the heat would soon take it's toll on half the starters.

I've had a couple of folks ask me if it is OK just to come down and watch the crits. The answer, of course, is "Hell, yeah!!" The races take place in the soccer complex area. You'll want to approach from direction of the river, as the entry from the north (covered bridge area) is blocked for the race. This is good, hard racing and the boys would enjoy a bigger audience.

Monday, June 7, 2010


From what I hear through less-than-reliable-but-not-necessarily-wrong sources, the Two Rivers Bridge is ahead of schedule.

Hmm...I was surprised to see that the commemorative brass plaque is already in place.

I either rode up the ramp or used my special telephoto lens to get this picture. If trespassing charges are pending, I'm sticking to the telephoto lens story. I noticed that the date is stated as 2009. I assume they cast the plaque as soon as the money was in hand rather than for the start of construction or the dedication. In politics, I guess you want to get your name on legacy projects before any upcoming elections and the possibility of exclusion by the will of the people.

The problem with geese: they multiply like rabbits and poop like poodles.

Turtles have been on the move, including this guy (or gal??). I don't think he's been doing much basking in the sun. Perhaps he thinks the green shag carpet look is sexy.

The practical rider: I rode from home with Diane last Saturday morning as she headed to Argenta for her weekly assault on the locally grown farmers market and the Argenta Market. While I was out rolling up some recreational miles, she was loading up on peaches, greens, tomatoes, blueberries, and some absolutely fantastic filets. While I love fresh fruit and vegetables, Diane's inability to pass up anything seasonal keeps the pressure on. I've had to be diligent to consume my share of all of the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, lettuce and tomatoes that have rolled up the hill in those panniers. Fortunately, most of those things go well with ice cream and the rest are good with bacon and 8-grain bread.

The Lawyer Formerly Known As Fat

About 16 months ago, I met an unlikely winter rider. He was fat, had a new Trek and new kit and I was as likely to see him sitting on a bench regaining his composure and sunning as I was to see him huffing along on his bike. One day, as he sat on a favored bench, I struck up a conversation, "You're not going to get it done sitting there". I'm very good at breaking the ice with lines like that, so many of my initial conversations with sensitive folks are quite short. Well, the fat man wasn't real sensitive and it turned out that we had been slightly acquainted over many years, both being Dogtown Boys and having shared the friendship of long time gal pal. As I am wont to do, I sized the guy up and thought to myself, "No way is this guy going to make it as a rider." The fact that he was getting started in the middle of the winter could have been a giveaway, but, surprisingly to me, I kept seeing him. And by then I was seldom seeing him parked on a bench, but I was seeing him on the bike. A lot. He rode all winter. He got his adult sons involved and started riding with faster friends. As I ride the trail more days than not, I identify many of the regulars and I can tell you if they're going well or if they put on weight over the winter, if they got a new road bike or a particularly charming tattoo. I must have been out of synch with my friend's schedule over the last winter, but when I saw him this spring, I wasn't sure I was seeing the same guy. In sixteen months of riding, he'd logged about 5000 miles, had lost 67 pounds and had traded in his 40" waist pants for 34's. As a rider, he knows he still has some excess pounds, but his friends now call him skinny. He bounds up three stories of stairs to his office where he used to take the elevator rather than attack a single flight of stairs. He said, "If I drop something, I can pick it up. I used to have to give that a lot of thought. Putting on my socks used to be a daily challenge." I didn't think he'd make it and he's just getting started. In his mid-fifties he decided that he wasn't ready to be disabled by his lifestyle. Now, he's a cyclist and is looking forward to more, not less.
I know of many more folks whose positive life changes can be attributed directly to the resource that is the River Trail, my own included. The creation and support of hundreds or thousands of healthier lives in our community is great return on the investment.

In Context: Riverfest Follow-up and Getting More Stuff

First, I'd like to once again thank David Fike of River Trail Station for providing the opportunity for bike parking at Riverfest and to apologize for getting his name wrong in the article below (since corrected).

Prior to Riverfest, there was fairly harsh criticism of the event organizers in some circles for not being "bike friendly" in that bikes were prohibited from entering the festival. That prohibition made sense to me, as we attended Friday night and it was often difficult to find a place to put a foot to the ground, much less maneuver a bike. Bike parking was provided by David on the north side of the river and I heard that BACA was providing parking on the Little Rock side. I'm not sure if the BACA facility was used, but David reports that no riders took advantage of parking at his place.
As crowded as it was generally, the Earth, Wind and Fire show on Friday was absolutely packed. We had enjoyed Cross Canadian Ragweed and stopped in to catch a little of EWF. We were near the back, but still had a hell of a time just getting out of the crowd to leave, so I was surprised to meet a couple of riders, astraddle their road bikes and in full kit, enjoying the show from the edge of the packed venue. I asked them if they'd had any hassle getting in with their bikes and the response was "no problem".
I was even more surprised as I attempted to ride through the NLR Riverfront Park on my way out west at 7:30 Saturday morning and was told ,"no bikes allowed", at a time when the only people in the park were sleepy-eyed volunteers getting geared up for the day.
As we work toward the acceptance of bikes as mainstream transportation, I feel that we should pick our battles carefully and, in my opinion, fighting for bike access to events like Riverfest should likely be low on the list. The Central Arkansas bike community is growing in size and breadth. The Big Dam Bridge and much of the NLR trail system work has come as the result of visionary leadership that saw the possibilities of the long term projects and had the political capital to make them happen; however, most improvement projects come about as the result of the inadequacy of existing structure. As more of us ride, the work of providing more bike infrastructure for everyday use can be demanded and politically justified. Projects cost money, so, support businesses who are bike friendly, thank the folks if they let you bring your bike in and chat with them if you visit while off the bike.  Whenever I go to Cregeen's or the Argenta Market, I always take my bike inside and have never been told I couldn't take my bike in anywhere except the River Market. I'm recognized as a customer whether I'm in business clothes or sweaty kit and they gladly accept my money either way. Nonriders are less likely to voice opposition to bike projects if they know their friends and neighbors ride. Having watched some things move through the NLR ciy council, I have been surprised at how influential a few vocal "aginners" can be. Let folks know that you ride a bike, and it helps if your alderman or council member knows that there are cyclists in their ward or district. We're making progress and there are more good things coming, and nothing moves politicians to spend money like the voices of voters. I'm looking forward to having facilities to support cyclists, whether they are riding to Riverfest or riding to work or to the local grocery. As the hash hounds say, "On, On"

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Commuter Dreams

Trade in 7 minutes of your time for a good chuckle here:

Enjoy your day on the bike!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Too many topics, not enough time

Last winter, I often struggled to find topics of interest to write about. The pro race scene was off-season and local ride activities were limited by weather and short days. Now, the days are long, I'm getting off the bike late and tired, things are hopping on every front and the challenge is to cover at least some the things that catch my attention.

Here are a few things that come to mind as worthy of mention:

Pro race scene:

The Tour of California was exciting and the move of the race from February to May was a good one. Lance Armstrong suffered two set-backs in as many days with Floyd Landis' detailed confessions and accusations of doping followed by a crash that caused Armstrong to withdraw from the race and get stitches to a large gash on his face. Some days, you're better off just staying in bed, Lance!

The Giro d'Italia was nothing short of spectacular! Ivan Basso is back at the top of the game with a roar and now must be considered a contender for the Tour de France. Vinkourov and Cadel Evans both seriously challenged and there were dramatic moments like Vino dropping his team in the TTT and Evans slapping another rider in a fit of frustration after a break was allowed to escape. I regret that the Giro didn't get more TV coverage. I was able to watch parts of some stages on . Cycling fans is a great resource, but sometimes requires some imagination as, on at least one occasion, I had three screens up to follow the race: video with Italian commentators muted, an English language sound feed that was delayed by a minute or two, and the VeloNews "live update" text feed.

Lance hasn't shown much form and two of his top rivals from the good ol' days are back from doping suspensions and getting big results. The top Tour contenders looked to be Contador, Andy Schleck and Armstrong but right now if I had to bet the farm on a trifecta, I'd have to pick Contador, Basso and Vinokourov. If Contador felt threatened by a teammate last year in the form of Armstrong, he'd better be alert to Vino's intentions. I can't see Vinokourov passing on any opportunity to take a tour win should that opportunity arise. Lance was held in check not just by his form, but by his whole legacy picture. Vino is a warrior and already a hero at home, so dropping the Spaniard would not have quite the same PR repercussions for him. Astana is, after all, Vino's team and Contador has made it pretty clear that he will be gone after this season.

The UCI and WADA finally caught up to Alejandro Valverde and imposed a worldwide ban almost a year after he was excluded from the 2009 Tour due to his ban by Italian authorities from racing on Italian soil (a Tour stage passed into Italy). Valverde had several significant victories while the fight over his punishment raged on, including last year's Vuelta.
He is being allowed to keep some of those victories.

I just knew there had to be a reason for the large diameter tubing prevalent in modern bike design. I mean, the real reason, the claimed increases in stiffness aside. It's so they had a place to put the little secret motor! Yep, and a video has been widely circulating in the media suggesting that Fabian Cancellara did have a motor when he powered to big wins in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Here's the video that started the tempest:

While I thought Cancellara dropped Boonen as if he had a rocket up his ass, I dismiss the charges of motor doping. He's simply a monster on the bike. The UCI, of course, has taken up the business of looking into the allegations.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday Night Crit Series: New Night , Same Action

Liz Cazer and JD McCay in the heart of the "A" Race pack during the Competitive Cyclist Burns Park Tuesday Night Crit

The Ronde van Burns Crit Series got off to a great start last night, and we dropped by before and after an abbreviated Tuesday night Fast Girl ride. The early evening "C" race was won by our own JohnEEE! Elmore. I missed the "B" group, but made it back to catch most of the "A" race which was won by the talented Noah Singer, who bolted from a three-man break and managed to lap the pack for the win. After the remnants of the break took second and third, Kris French took the field sprint out of the pack.

The action was fast and the talent was showing. Competitive Cyclist put their "B" Team in SRAM Red kit against the store-sponsored Team Panther. There was a little trash talk,  but Panther's Noah took the win.

The crits have traditionally been held on Wednesdays, but Tuesday is the night this year! Come on out and watch the action. Feel free to yell support for the riders, 'cause they're not paying attention to you, anyway!

It's unfortunate that there is not more road racing in Arkansas these days, so the crits may be your best bet for watching some road bike competition in the area.

Here's a link to Noah's blog on the subject of the race:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Crit Series: Starts NOW!

From our friends at Competitive Cyclist:

Competitive Cyclist proudly presents the 8th Annual

Ronde van Burns

Summer Criterium Training Series

USA Cycling Permit applied for/Race held rain or shine

Date: Tuesdays, June 1, 8, 15, & 22, 2010

Location: Burns Park Soccer Complex, North Little Rock, AR

Entry Fee: $5 ($0 payout)

Registration: Begins at 4:30pm

“C” race: Begins at 5:00pm – 20 minutes + 3 Laps

Category 5 Men & Category 4 Women only

“B” race: Begins at 5:40pm – 40 minutes + 3 Laps

Category 4 & 5

“A” race: Begins at 6:45pm – 55 minutes + 3 Laps

Category 1, 2, 3, & 4

Prizes: As per USA Cycling reg. 1L(c) we will be offering prizes and primes for the A and B races only. There will be no cash prizes. The joy of racing and making others suffer should be reward enough!