Sunday, May 26, 2019

Getting Only A Glimpse When I Want To Stare

The first 80° day of 2019—the first 80° day since October 9—didn’t come soon enough for me. For more than 6 months I needed not just a day like yesterday, but an unbroken series of them. Warm weather inspires and motivates me and I probably will always wonder what kind of athlete I could be if I had more days like Saturday and fewer like the typically cold, dark days that make Wisconsin only the latest stop on my journey through life, not the last. Days like, say, tomorrow and Tuesday:

There’s another couple of rest days I don’t need.

But I did good work on the road yesterday and I was doing good work on the Eisenbahn State Trail this afternoon until a front tire puncture stopped me halfway between Kewaskum and Campbellsport. I swapped in the only spare tube I had and then headed back to West Bend. I finished the week with 8.5 hours in the saddle and a total of 141 miles. That’s my best week since April 22-28, which doesn’t speak too well for our May weather. With only 13 more weeks until the cyclocross season opens, I continue to struggle with consistency in my training and it’s all weather-related. I haven’t had a 5-day week on the bike since December 10-16, and at this time of year I should be shooting for 6 days on, 1 day off.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

That Pesky 3-Kilometer Rule, Again

The Amgen Tour of California concluded yesterday, crowning Tadej Pogačar as its overall champion after seven stages and no small of amount of controversy. Fortunately, none of the controversy will diminish Pogačar’s achievement; the 20-year-old UCI WorldTour newcomer was outstanding all week and proved himself a worthy winner by distancing all rivals Friday on Mt. Baldy.

But the story that dominated the tour was the decision of the race referees to keep Tejay van Garderen in the leader’s jersey at the end of Stage 4 on Wednesday. Van Garderen crashed with less than 10 kilometers to go and was attempting to rejoin the peloton when another crash—one in which he was not involved—impeded his progress. That second crash occurred with 3.4 kilometers remaining. There’s a UCI rule that protects a rider’s position on general classification if he is involved in or delayed by a crash in the last 3 kilometers, giving him the same finishing time as the others with whom he was riding when the crash occurred.

That’s 3.0 kilometers. And 3.4 is more than 3.0, isn’t it? The difference appeared not to matter to the race referees, whose very liberal interpretation of the rule allowed van Garderen to retain the top spot on GC when otherwise he would have fallen hopelessly far behind. Van Garderen’s collapse Friday on Mt. Baldy ensured that he wouldn’t be the overall winner, Pogačar or no Pogačar, so it all worked out in the end, right? Well, not really. What consolation is there for Kasper Asgreen, who would have become the race leader if not for the referees’ intercession? How would the race have changed with Asgreen in the yellow jersey on Thursday?

From race directors to fans airing their grievances on social media, a fair number of observers thought Wednesday’s ruling smacked of favoritism for an American rider in an American race. VeloNews captured much of that sentiment and it cannot simply be dismissed. Remember that plenty of American fans accused European commissaires and journalists of anti-American bias during the Lance Armstrong days. Creating an environment where these kinds of accusations take root will lead only to an even looser interpretation of the rules as local judges protect their favorites or get revenge for some earlier slight.

The VeloNews article also questions whether the 3-kilometer rule should exist at all. Fine: by all means, question that. But for now the rule does exist. And don’t confuse a rule with a guideline. We’re not talking about give-or-take 3 kilometers; we’re talking about exactly 3 kilometers. Only the strictest interpretation, applied every time the rule is invoked, can ensure fairness and impartiality. Make the rules apply the same way to all riders at all times and there’s nothing more to discuss, no matter how harsh that may seem. On Wednesday, van Garderen wouldn’t have lost the jersey because of the judges’ decision; he would have lost the jersey because he crashed and later went off course. Things like that happen in bike races and we can’t administer them away. We can’t give greater precedence to what should have happened—or, perhaps, to what we wish had happened—than we give to what actually happened.

Writing about the 3-kilometer rule back in 2015, I predicted a change that would allow GC contenders to stay out of the way of the sprinters without costing themselves any time. That change hasn’t happened yet, and maybe it never will, but I’m not the only one thinking about it. Speaking to VeloNews after Wednesday’s stage, CCC team director Jackson Stewart said, “If the rules are going to be subjective, then we should look at every sprint stage, pick a safe point, get the GC guys there and then stop the watch.” As I noted in my blog post, there still would be a point on the road that every rider is willing to break his neck to reach, so maybe we’re only moving that point. But something’s got to change, and the first step is to enforce the existing rule, every time.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

2019’s First Thousand Miles

Not much, but as much as I could do with the time available to me.
With the humble 20-miler shown on the map above, today I finally topped the 1,000-mile mark for the year. Family commitments, home projects, and (most of all) crappy Wisconsin weather are conspiring to keep me off the bike. This is the latest into the new year that I have reached 1,000 miles in more than a decade:
2019 May 18
2018 May 7
2017 April 28
2016 April 24
2015 April 11
2014 May 8
2013 May 13
2012 April 14
2011 May 16
2010 April 29
2009 May 12
2008 May 22
2007 May 28
2006 June 14
2005 June 22
2004 September 4
I’d like to tell you things are going to get better, but I’m not sure that’s true.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

You Know, Like NASCAR

With all this bike stuff I do or watch or think about, it’s a little strange that I never have made time to check out Washington Park Velodrome in Kenosha. Sure, I saw it on a day when there were no races in progress and when I wasn’t yet a cyclist. But that was the 1980s! I’ve missed a lot of opportunities since then.

And I’ll miss tonight’s season opener, but you don’t have to. Visit the velodrome’s website or Facebook page for more details.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

For Sale: 2011 Diamondback Steilacoom RCX


  • Versatile, well-maintained bike with upgrades from its original configuration
  • Use it for cyclocross racing, recreation trail rides, or as your daily commuter for work or school


MSRP: $1,400
Color: Black
Size: 56 cm
Frame: DBR CX fully-butted 7005 alloy
Fork: Easton EC70X carbon with alloy steerer
Headset: FSA integrated 1 1/8"
Stem: DBR 3D forged, +/-7 degree rise, 110 mm long, 31.8 mm clamp
Handlebar: DBR drop bar road, 44 cm wide, 31.8 clamp, new bar tape
Shifters / Brake Levers: Shimano 105 dual-control 10-speed
Brakes: Avid Shorty 4 cantilevers, new front pads
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra (upgrade from stock Shimano 105)
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105 10-speed
Cassette: Shimano 105 (CS-5700) 10-speed, 12-27T
Chain: Shimano 105 10-speed
Cranks: FSA Gossamer PRO Cross 36/46T
Bottom Bracket: BB30
Pedals: Platform (yours if you need them)
Seatpost: DBR Performance Post, alloy Micro Adjust, 27.2 mm clamp
Saddle: WTB Valcon Pro
Wheels: Mavic Aksium Race (big upgrade from stock wheelset!)
Tires: Front WTB Cross Wolf | Rear Clement LAS
Extras: Owner’s manual, 2 alloy water bottle cages


Seat Tube Length**: 560 mm
Standover Height: 807 mm
Top Tube Length*: 560 mm
Head Tube Length: 155 mm
Head Angle: 72.3°
Seat Angle: 73°
Wheelbase: 1011 mm
Chainstay Length: 425 mm
Fork Offset: 45 mm
Bottom Bracket Height: 265 mm
Stem Length: 100 mm
Handlebar Width: 440 mm
Crank Length: 172.5 mm
Seatpost Length: 300 mm

* Measured horizontally
** Measured from center

Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 WCA Cyclocross Schedule

Today the Wisconsin Cycling Association announced its 2019 cyclocross schedule. It looks pretty good to me, but it differs in several ways from the 2018 schedule.

These races are out:

  • Cross of the North @ Wausau
  • UW-Whitewater CamRock CX @ Cambridge (scheduled, then canceled in 2018)
  • Diablo River Cross @ Appleton (scheduled, then canceled in 2018)
  • Sunnyview Cross @ Oshkosh

With the demise of 3 of its 5 original races, the Hinterlands sub-series will no longer exist. That’s too bad, as it was a nice way to reward people for racing outside of the I-94 corridor between Milwaukee and Madison.

This race has moved:

  • 2018 USA Cycling Midwest Regionals @ Sun Prairie
  • 2019 USA Cycling Midwest Regionals @ Chicago IL

And this new race is in:

  • Kenosha Kutters Kross @ Kenosha on August 24

That’s right, folks, the new season will begin on August 24! I am loving that, and I hope it’s as hot as hell. Cold weather holds no charms for me, no matter how “Belgian” it supposedly is. And further to that point, I might even survive long enough to see the state championships this season, pushed back to November for the first time since 2011.

The Chicago folks get the Midwest Regionals and they’re welcome to it. I’ll bet they get it next year too, as a prelude to the 2020 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in suburban DuPage County.

So, I’m excited! But I’m also cautious. It’s very common for races to disappear between the springtime release of the schedule and the actual dates. Have fun thinking about the season ahead, but don’t overthink it!