Category: "Misc"

Why do cycling and coffee go together?

by Jack  

So what's the facination with coffee for the millions of cyclists out there? You hear talk about it in the pro peloton, on Sunday group rides and at the bike shops. Why are coffee and cycling so intertwined? Well, I thought I'd find out.

Could it be the caffeine? Some of us drink coffee for the taste without regard to its caffeine content while others drink it especially for the high they may get from the stimulant. This could make sense if you drink coffee during the last part of your ride but it wouldn't make any sense if you drink it before your ride like most people do. So I'm ruling out coffee being used as a jolt of energy.

Coffee even sponsors a cycling team! Credit: Jittery Joe's Cycling

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Help Save The Tour of Missouri!

by Jack  

Link: http://www.tourofmissouri.com/save-the-tour-of-missouri.html

Because of the current state of the economy, the Governor of Missouri is threatening to revoke the money already slotted for this year's Tour of Missouri. As a cycling fan, I think the $1.5 million committment to the sport is a great investment for the state. It not only gives the state national and, more importantly, international notoriety related to tourism but it helps promote a healthy lifestyle that should help the state spend less on health care costs.

Let's do our part as fans of the sport and lobby the Governor to spare this great race. Please click here to read a statement by the state's Lt. Governor (a supporter of the race) and here to directly email the Governor's office.

Update: Just found out the race is a go! Read an article here.

Happy Father's Day to Me!

by Jack  

So it's been almost 4 months since my last post. Four months!? Well...There's good reason for it. No, I haven't lost my love for cycling. In fact, I have gained even more love. On May 14th, my wife and I welcomed a new baby girl into this world. Her name is Siena, loosely named after the beautiful Tuscan hill town that ends the one day race, Monte Paschi Eroica. My heart just had to make room for the extra love and as those who have had children will know, your whole life routine changes. But today is Father's Day and we are celebrating my first as a father to Siena!

Soon after the Tour of California ended, it was time to get ready for the baby and for helping my wife around the house as she was getting increasingly immobile. Then once Siena came, the world stopped (though I was catching Universal Sports' coverage of the Giro thanks to DVR). Now that we've started to come into more of a routine, I'll be back at it just in time for the Tour!

Can you feel the excitement already? This will be one of the most watched Tours thanks to you-know-who and all of the expected infighting between his Astana teammates will make for a Tour just as dramatic as LeMond's 1986 win over Hinault.

...On to July 4th when the Tour starts in Monaco.

Happy Holidays!

by Jack  

Boy! What a year this has been for the pro peloton! One thing is for sure, all of the excitement that was generated in 2008 will be carried through into 2009 and more so. Is anyone else excited about next year!!?? The 2009 season could not be packed with more drama and anticipation. We have the return of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong (Team Astana) as well as his former rival, Italian Ivan Basso (Team Liquigas) as well as the return of the entire Astana team into ASO races (knock on wood) including the Tour de France. Spain's Alberto Contador will finally get a chance to back up his 2007 yellow jersey, or will he? The return of Armstrong does complicate things which makes it all the better for us fans. I'm not complaining.

And what about the Giro? Will the centennial edition of this race be THE race of the year? Race director Angelo Zomegnan's quest to globalize the Giro and compete against the Tour de France's popularity will finally come to fruition thanks to an all-star cast of cyclists. All of the big names, save for Alberto Contador, will ride the Giro, making it the most greatly anticipated Grand Tour of the season.

Besides the two obvious races, Le Tour and the Giro, to keep tabs on, the other big event I can't wait for is the 2009 Paris Roubaix. Will big George Hincapie (Team Columbia) finally win his elusive cobblestone trophy? We in the states are always on pins and needles every year we watch this race and hope that all of the stars do align for the South Carolinian. He's definitely not getting any younger and his current crop of rivals are just as strong, if not stronger.

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My Daily Dose

by Jack  

Like most cycling fans, your day is not complete until you have had your daily dose of what's what and who's who in the world of cycling. In my case, it deals mostly with the world of professional cycling. Therefore, I always make sure I am caught up with the latest news and rumors floating across the pond or Stateside as opposed to catching up on the latest writings about the sport in general (like other blog posts). Though, I do do that quite often as well. Since this is the off season, not too much news gets generated and I don't want to bore you with another Lance Armstrong post, I will give you the lowdown on how I receive my daily dose of cycling news.

This process is actually quite simplistic. I have a set of bookmarks in my web browser (Firefox) under the folder labeled "cycling". Within that folder lists my top websites in alphabetical order. My daily dose revolves around clicking on most of these sites multiple times throughout the day. The list is as follows:

Amgen Tour of California, Astana Cycling Team, Bike Radar, Cycle To, Cyclingnews.com, Cycling TV, Daily Peloton, Eurosport, Graham Watson, High Road Sports, LanceArmstrong.com, On Tour With Lance, PezCycling News, Podium Cafe, Team CSC, and Velonews.

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Swim, Bike, Run For a Cause

by Jack  

Link: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/txtri09/lhughes

Recently, one of my very close friends embarked on a crusade to help a very worthy cause. About 138,530 people in the United States will find out they have leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma this year and a child or adult is expected to lose their fight against these diseases every ten minutes. Lamar Hughes has chosen to be proactive in his endeavor to help the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fight for a cure for these diseases while bettering himself in a search for a healthier lifestyle.

Lamar has joined more than 380,000 former volunteers of Team in Training to help raise awareness and money for research in exchange for training and resources for competing in an endurance event. On May 25, 2009, Lamar will compete in his very first triathlon. But this is not just any triathlon, it is an Olympic distance event that includes a 0.9 mile swim, a 24 mile bike ride and a 6 mile run. To make matters even more daunting, Lamar is 6'3" and 245 lbs of limited aerobic ability. Of course, he's going to kill me for saying that but this fact makes his effort all the more challenging and would be a personal triumph once completed.

Lamar's fundraising goal is to reach $4500 in donations. The concept is pretty simple. His friends and family agree to donate towards a positive cause while he endures months of hard work that culminates into a few hours of pain and suffering. But when the pain ends and the suffering subsides, he will have accomplished two goals. He would be comforted to know that he took a hands-on approach in helping to find a cure for these blood cancers while obtaining a healthier lifestyle for himself and his family.

I have to say that as a friend I am very proud of Lamar. If anyone can set a goal and accomplish it, it would be him. To be able to have the discipline needed to help not only yourself, but hundreds of thousands of strangers who are counting on you is a lot of pressure. But with the help of you and I, Lamar has nothing to worry about.

Would you help Lamar and I raise cancer awareness and donate to a good cause? Please follow this link to learn more about Lamar Hughes and his goals, updates on his training as well as to contribute your tax-deductible donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society today.

Thanks for reading.

To help, please follow the link below:

Lamar Hughes Team in Training Page

Cycling in Manhattan

by Jack  

Again, I apologize for the lack of posts as work has been super busy. But in the meantime, enjoy this clip I found today. It will give you an idea of how exciting it is to ride your bike in the biggest city in America. There's a brief intro and then the fun begins. Enjoy!


Updates from the Peloton

by Jack  

A lot has made the news since my last post. I apologize for the infrequency of these stories as I have been busy with other things. The latest news in the pro peloton is all not good news. Actually, that depends on your own outlook with the sport. There were further confirmations of EPO CERA use, which is a big negative, but if you consider the fight with doping, it's good news...the cheats are being caught and punished.

Now, unlike ever before, the testing and research capabilities involved with potential performance enhancing drugs have followed pace, or even surpassed, that of the dopers. We hope this creates a deterrent that will make some cyclists think twice before they consider using these substances.

It's unfortunate that Team Gerolsteiner has to suffer the bad press involving their 2 riders' positives. Already leaving the sport at the end of this year, the last thing Hans Michael Holzer needed was bad press related to this. German Stefan Schumacher's positive was no big surprise to anyone but nonetheless sad. We desperately wanted to believe Schumacher just stepped up his game and had the form of his life to win both Tour de France time trials. Sure, it was a huge shock to everyone when he easily beat Fabian Cancellara and other known time trial specialists but we all gave him the benefit of the doubt. We were mistaken. Our trust was abused.

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Return of Lance

by Jack  

Lance Armstrong formally announced his plans for returning to the pro peloton today. In a news conference given while he was attending the Clinton Global Initiative, Armstrong filled in some of the blanks that were left after he shocked the world in announcing his comeback on September 9th.

Lance confirmed that he will ride with the Astana team of his former director and friend Johan Bruyneel and that his 2009 campaign will begin in the southern hemisphere at the Tour Down Under. The only other confirmation of a race he will ride is the Tour de France. Lance mentioned nothing about the Tour of California nor the Tour de Georgia. Armstrong did mention that his number one goal is to help the cancer community and that mission will probably take him to many places he may not have raced in the past. Lance left open a question about riding the Giro, saying that it would be interesting to race there because it will be the 100th anniversary of the Giro, a race he's never ridden, and that it will give him an opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Berlusconi about cancer awareness in Italy.

Lance did address the issue about Alberto Contador. He acknowledged reading about Contador's recent remarks, saying it would be difficult having Armstrong on the same team, by answering he would like to see Contador stay but that if he decided to leave, it is his right. The Armstrong/Contador issue is the next big drama to come out of this and there is surely more gossip to be produced. Besides Contador, Levi Leipheimer is in a tough situation too. Before Armstrong's return, Leipheimer was second fiddle. Now he will be third fiddle. Will Levi look for a new team now too?

Armstrong did a good job answering some tough questions about the foundation, his comeback and the formation of an under-23 "Livestrong" team to be lead by Axel Merkx (of which the first big signing is young Taylor Phinney). If anyone does question his ability to return to the top of the sport while campaigning for cancer awareness, please listen to what he has to say. He gives a very compelling reason to follow the 2009 season.

Click here for the entire news conference. It's about 40 minutes long so grab a cold one.

Poor Levi Leipheimer

by Jack  

Levi Leipheimer is currently the top American cyclist in the pro peloton. He's been that way ever since Lance Armstrong retired in 2005. Sure, there's been Floyd Landis for a quick moment, but that's another story. Throughout Levi's career, he's always shown the potential to do great things. His first real breakout party came at the Vuelta (where he is currently racing right now) in 2001 when he placed 3rd while riding for the United States Postal Service team of Armstrong. From then on, Levi switched teams, hoping to challenge for bigger and better races such as the Tour de France.

First he was with Rabobank, where he made the top 10 a few times and then to Gerolsteiner where he almost won a mountain stage in 2006. At the end of the 2006 season, Levi decided to return to Johan Bruyneel and race for the Discovery Channel team. This seemed to be the perfect fit. Discovery Channel just lost the retiring Armstrong and was looking for a new leader to replace him and it ended up being a bonus that it was another American. For Levi, this was a dream scenario. He now has the means and the support needed to win the Tour de France. All seemed good leading into the 2007 season.

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Yes! Armstrong Returns!

by Jack  

Just as everyone has speculated in the last few days, Lance Armstrong confirmed today that he WILL return to professional cycling for the 2009 season. In the much talked about Vanity Fair article, Armstrong sites cancer awareness as one of his main reasons for returning. Of course, there's also that "itch" that is factored into the decision as well.

This is decidedly good news for the world of cycling. A world that has been reeling from a series of doping scandals and a general drop in attention since his retirement. It is extremely important for American cycling as well. He has done more for this sport than any other cyclist and his name will no doubt bring even more attention in 2009. This means more fans, a rise in sponsorship money and hopefully a resurgence for the Tour de Georgia. Once the biggest race in the States, it has now been threatened by the lack of funds and may not return next year. With Armstrong's verbal commitment to participate in 2009, the race organizers have found the fuel needed to find a major sponsor for at least one more year.

It remains to be seen what ASO thinks since it's still no guarantee his team (assuming it's Astana) will be able to ride the Tour. If not, Armstrong has a plan. In published statements, Armstrong has stated that he has already talked to French President Nicolas Sarkozy about this, clearly bringing the same fire that he exhibited while winning 7 straight Tours.

Click here for the Vanity Fair article.

And click here for a personal message from Lance himself.

Lance Armstrong Returns?

by Jack  

Could Lance Armstrong be coming out of retirement? The answer is "yes", if you ask Velonews. Their report states that Armstrong has already taken steps needed to return to the pro peloton. Nothing has been confirmed yet but stay tuned. This is surely to be a huge story for cycling (even if a lot of die hard cycling fans roll their eyes). Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, read the Velonews article here or the cyclingnews article here.

Save The Legs!!! Store Now Open!

by Jack  

Link: http://www.cafepress.com/savethelegs

The Save The Legs!!! Store is now open! Thanks to Cafepress, show your support for Save The Legs and the sport of cycling by wearing or displaying your Save The Legs!!! apparel or product. There, you will find T-shirts as well as other apparel, stickers, housewares, hats, bags and pet products with the STL banner tastefully displayed.

Any profits earned through the Save The Legs!!! store will go towards maintaining and improving this website as well as the promotion of the sport of cycling. If you have any requests, please feel free to contact me. Thanks in advance for your patronage, you may click here to go to the store.

2008 Olympics Men's Time Trial II

by Jack  

I have to admit that I was way off on my predictions for the men's time trial this past Wednesday. Only one of my top 3 made it on the podium while the other two, including my gold medal prediction, didn't even contend.

Levi Leipheimer came through with a much deserved bronze medal for the States while Swiss Fabian Cancellara proved again that he IS the best time trialist in the world. A surprising ride from Swedan's Gustav Larsson helped secure silver for him. My pick for gold, Kim Kirchen came in 23rd, over 4 minutes back while Cadel Evans put in a strong 5th place considering the injury he suffered at the end of the Tour.

For those of you that missed Levi (and the American gold medal winner in the women's time trial, Kristen Armstrong) on the Today Show this morning, here's the link to the clip on MSN. Don't mind the 30 second commercial at the beginning.

Cyclists cruise to medal stand
Cyclists cruise to medal stand

2008 Olympics Men's Time Trial

by Jack  

It's been a few days since Spain's Samuel Sanchez won the men's road race over silver medalist, Italy's Davide Rebellin and Bronze medalist, the surprising climber, Fabian Cancellara. Much of the same field will now contest the time trial on Wednesday over the same hilly circuit course that caused trouble for many riders. The men will tackle the circuit twice for a total of 47km.

Many of the contenders for the time trial will be the same as the road race. But as we saw there, the race will probably be a bit more unpredictable than we'd like. The two most obvious gold medal favorites are German Stefan Schumacher and the big Swiss, Fabian Cancellara. Typically, I wouldn't put Cancellara as one of the favorites because this course is much too hilly but he showed great form during the road race and beat many of the other climbers to take 3rd place. For Schumacher, he must show that he can be successful in the smog of Beijing. If the road race was any indication, he may not perform up to par.

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2008 Olympics Men's Road Race

by Jack  

Link: http://www.nbcolympics.com

For those of you willing to give up an evening of rest, don't forget to catch the live coverage (I think) of the Olympic Men's Road Race tonight at 11:00pm EST here. Of course, this is NBC and a major network so let's hope they don't cover equestrian for 3 hrs and show 30 minutes of highlights at the end. I can't guarantee I will be up watching it and if I (or you) don't catch the live broadcast, make sure to catch the tape delay coverage on TV starting at 10:00am EST on Saturday. From the looks of the schedule, they will run bits and piecies throughout the afternoon so crack open a beer or two and bring your patience.

In terms of the favorites, it looks good for Spain's Alejandro Valverde but since one day races are such a luck of the draw, the race is probably wide open. I am, of course, rooting for the Americans. Since Levi Leipheimer did not compete in the Tour, he has had his eyes set on the Olympics. Let's hope he can come through for the red, white and blue! Enjoy the show!

PS. Sorry for the late post and the time between posts as "work" has been getting in the way. I'll be posting more regularly soon.

Post Tour Withdrawal

by Jack  

About a week after the end of this year's Tour de France, I have developed post Tour withdrawal. I'm left wondering what the rest of the cycling season will bring. The spring classics have come and gone, the Giro cemented Alberto Contador (Astana) as the best cyclists living and the Tour has finally confirmed Carlos Sastre (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) a winner that we had always felt he could be.

Every July brings a culmination to the cycling season. It is the cima coppi, if you will, of the entire sport. Too bad it is right smack in the middle of the season and not at the end. For potential Tour winners, their year effectively ends once they cross the finish line in Paris and any event they may ride in between then and the end of the season may be token. But this year may be different. Carlos Sastre has confirmed that he will ride the Vuelta a España, setting up a potential showdown with last year's Tour winner Contador. Will there even be a match up? Contador has trained exclusively for the Vuelta while it remains to be seen if Sastre can muster the motivation needed to get through another 3 week race. Throw in the defending champ, Denis Menchov (Rabobank), whose participation is not yet confirmed, and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) and you have a race!

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Who is Bikesnob NYC?

by Jack  

Just who is this Bikesnob NYC person? Does anyone know? He (or she) is supposed to be anonymous but I'm sure most people have wondered who exactly this person is. What does he/she look like? What is his/her day job? Does he/she have a job? Why exactly is this person so entertaining to so many fans on the internet?

I have to admit, I enjoy the occasional Bikesnob NYC (BSNYC from now on) post and have even made comments to a few of the posts (though I'm pretty sure no one reads them). Because I'm pretty new to the cycling blog world and have only recently made the rounds to all of the blogs including BSNYC, I still do not fully understanding what BSNYC, the website, is all about. I'm perplexed by the ubiquitous first few comments which include such single words like "Podium", "2" or some other, what seems like, random words. Of course, I understand they are all trying to be the first "commenter" of the post, but why? And why be anonymous? It's just turbid. But regardless, I do enjoy the posts and it is one of the sites I visit on a regular basis.

Now, with that said, I thought it would be cool to poke fun at the supposed anonymity of BSNYC. Apparently, we were both at the Harlem Crits a few weeks ago and after looking at some of BSNYC's photo's I realized he was within my line of site as I was taking photos. So could I have possibly caught BSNYC on camera? I, of course, don't know the answer but maybe someone else might be able to offer some insight. Follow me to my exhibits...

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Doping in Sports

by Jack  

So we found out from football God Terry Bradshaw today that the Steel Curtain of the 4-time super bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70’s were all ‘roided up. I’m certainly not one that likes to bring up the subject of doping because of what it’s done to cycling but when similar news erupts pertaining to our mainstream sports, it should be noted. We all know that cycling has gotten a bad wrap because of doping. A lot of the press should be attributed to the strict standards and frequent tests that have been instituted over the years. Unfortunately, when you test more, you’ll inevitably flush out the cheats more which then lead to negative press. But when you don’t test, all is quiet. Take baseball for example, testing didn’t exist until recently. Now what do we know? Football is the same way and today’s news just confirmed it. Yes, it wasn’t illegal back then. Yes, a lot of its side effects weren’t known but a performance enhancement is a performance enhancement. If you take drugs to help your sore muscles, it’s a performance enhancement. Similarly, if a cyclist takes EPO to help his endurance, it’s a performance enhancement. The double standard of negative coverage for cycling is finally sharing the “spotlight” with sports most American’s can relate too. Hopefully, this will help educate the public as well.

The next step is for the public and press to acknowledge all of the positive’s that have come from the strict drug policy of cycling and hope that we’ve reached a point where we can only go up without looking back. Now onto to July please.

New Versus Commercial

by Jack  

Link: http://www.takebackthetour.com/

A new "Take Back The Tour" Versus commercial aired this past Sunday during both the Philadelphia Championships and the Tour de Suisse coverage. The first commercial with Thomas Voeckler was somewhat inspiring and clearly showed that we are moving forward while this one is a bit controversial. It shows some of the great moments in the Tour in rewind including Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis as well as images of David Millar. What do you think?

I personally disapprove of this commercial because it starts to get into assumptions of not only the guilt or innocence of a cyclist but also what the fans personally think. Yes, there are clearly individuals who have proven to have done something wrong but there are also some riders that have not been proven guilty or are still going through the judicial process. I think Versus, and us as fans, should give some of these people the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, Versus should let us make the judgment. I can keep watching the first commercial but watching this new one makes me sad more than anything.

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