Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Trip Up THE WALL - 2005

There I am in the starting gate for the Manayunk hill climb time trial, I’m watching the clock tick, tick, tick as the USCF official is counting down the seconds, “cinq, quatra, trois, deux, un...” Wait a minute, he’s counting down in French, or is it the 2 double espresso (with double sugars) I drank as my warm up for this 1 kilometer time trial up the famed Manayunk wall? I was in Philadelphia to watch the most famous one-day bike race in America and figured I’d take my turn up the infamous 17% grade.

My problems were two-fold. One, I am a contemporary of Greg Lemond, and while he retired nearly 15 years ago, I have only been racing for three years now. As a Cat. 4 rider I get in line with some polite teenagers and twenty-somethings who have the nasty habit of calling me “sir,” as if I was one of their father’s friends. Even my cycling coach, an ex-pro is younger than me! Second, I’m from central Ohio where the terrain is so flat that I’ve recently pitched a coffee table book idea to a local publisher entitled “The Cols of Columbus” with fine art photography of freeway overpasses complete with the locals riders names painted on the roadways by the rabid fans.

But I just could not pass up a chance to race up this cycling landmark. I remember the decisive moves made here last year by Danny Pate, Chris Horner, and the eventual winner Chris Wherry and another year, my cycling hero Ernie Lechuga, former Mexican national champion, leading the break up the wall lap after lap to win the KOM prize.
Sunday there will be thousands of mostly intoxicated fans screaming at the cyclists each time up the wall, tonight there’s only a few locals come out to see the amateurs.

The offical chimes “go” in 30 seconds interval. The rider who started in front of me turns left instead of right under the train tracks, and by the time he gets back on the course I was rolling onto the climb and chasing him down. A few spectators thought for a second that I must be a really fast climber having bridged this gap in such a quick manner. What the hell, let them think I was Lance passing Jan in the prologue. The climb felt like it was over before it started. I heard a few “allez, allez, allez” while my oxygen debt eventually turned into that head spinning buzz. It was offical, 01:59.75, about twenty seconds behind the eventual winner. My fellow competitors waited at the top each granting me their personal ‘chapeau,’ as I to them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

as requested, best reads of the last year...

You sure find quite a bit of time when recovering from knee surgery.

Talk Talk - TC Boyle
The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
Remainder - Tom McCarthy
The Echo Maker - Richard Powers
The Last Town On Earth - Thomas Mullen
The Island Of Lost Maps - Miles Harvey
Off To The Races - Samuel Abt
Saturday - Ian McEwan
Terrorist - John Updike
The Omnivors Dilemma - Michael Pollan
Coal Black Horse - Robert Olmstead
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwen
Positively False - Floyd Landis

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Reprint of my TDF rant: I've met my heroes on the road and killed them

When did we replace scientists and statesmen with sports stars? When did you decide to put your faith in Lyle Alzado, Michael Vick, or Barry Bonds instead of Linus Pauling, Jimmy Carter, and John Coltrane? But then again, maybe it wasn't us, it is not a modern phenomena, I think the Greeks and the Romans also exalted the athlete and warrior. So don't blame modern society.
As a fan of 'other' sports, I tire of defending the Michael Claretts, the Albert Belles, the Robby Alomars and have pretty much ceased my attendance at the 'other' professional sports. No more NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, PGA - and don't get me started on the piggish behavior of the entire OSU athletic department -from football to field hockey.
Besides, cycling was/is my sport. Pure beauty. We have all learned that the strongest riders in June were the athletes suffering on some trainer way back in December. It is indeed a noble sport, but like any other human activity subject to cheating, and in the pro peloton GREED. Vinokourov wanted to repeat his successes to fund his team - millions were at stake. I'm sure he thought "if I don't get caught, it isn't cheating." We want to believe Tyler, and Floyd (I really want to believe Landis), and Ullrich - but the culture of cycling tells us differently.
Will pro cycling survive? Yes, but not in the form it is now. I think the pros in Europe have to downsize to the level of the US racing system. When the top riders make $130,000  instead of $1.3 million the cheating factor will be reduced (but not eliminated). We know there will be no more Discovery team next year, and no Astana, no more Cofidis, and no more Gerolsteiner. The big dollars will dry up as the corporations run away from cycling.
I have not lost my faith in cycling, but I have killed my heroes.
I continue to be inspired by a long list of riders that probably will never be written up in CycleSport or interviewed on Versus, they include; Jeff Braumberger, Pascale Lercangee, Fred Parks, Mark Bell, and Ernie Lechuga.
Anyone else out there have names of cyclists that inspire you?

Desert Island picks

My most recent desert island picks as posted on

John Coltrane - Love Supreme
Albert Ayler - Live In Greenwich Village
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
Clusone 3 - An Hour With
Bill Frisell - Music for the Films of Buster Keaton
Cassandra Wilson - Blue Skies
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Bright Moments
David Murray - Spirituals
Evan Parker - Lines Burnt In Light
Horace Tapscott - The Dark Tree

upcoming: recent CDs from my listening rotation

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Training

Hello, and welcome to RyLo - the inconvienient and uncorruptable postings of a broken cyclist. More about that later. Just finished a 2.5 hour training ride with a caffeinated crew of eight. Like my dog Fat Louie aka fish-hook Louie the yellow one, I prefer to run with a pack - This blog will detail trainng, racing, food, coffee, free improvisation (music and cycling), and maybe a bit of talking about Albert Ayler and Marco Pantani's ghosts...