There is a battle raging in New York. Cyclists have become the enemy of all law-abiding citizens, and their “out-of-control behavior” (as quoted in the New York Post) needs to be stamped out! We are the scorn of the neighborhoods. What is it with this city and their hate of cyclists? Is it like this anywhere else? If you cut through the ridiculous over-the-top headlines, there is a level of discrimination going on that really doesn’t make sense, or seem fair. This is best illustrated by the following.
During the week there are basically two places to train, Central Park and Prospect Park. Due to the insanity of the traffic (yes, in the Park, when they are surrounded by two lane roads) means most riders train in their respective park “after hours” when they are closed to traffic. Please focus on the CLOSED TO TRAFFIC part. That means riding at 6am or after 7pm when the park is mostly riders, runners and roller bladers all basically going in the same direction, clockwise (ok, some roller bladers get carried away and do counter clockwise twirls, but they look pretty). Pretty much everyone is just getting on with it and getting some exercise in. In these “closed” times no one is stopping at the lights. Now what is happening is, the NYPD are standing by those lights and giving tickets to cyclists that don’t stop when the light is red (If memory serves me right, maybe eight sets of lights in Central Park? Try getting 5 laps in and some intervals before breakfast with that amount of stops). The current count is up to over 1000 tickets issued and that is in the winter when most of us are on indoor trainers!
The letter of the law says tickets should be given when a red light is broken. When the park is open to traffic and I am riding in there, I would expect to have to stop at a red light, same as on the streets, just the same as any car. But when the park is closed to cars? Does that really make sense? In the 10 years I have been riding in those parks during closed hours I have never endangered a life by riding through those lights. In fact, the only time harm was caused was me going through the back window of a car and getting 202 stitches in my face for my trouble….let’s move on. Would it not be a better strategy to show some understanding and encourage riders to use the parks during these closed hours? and keep us off the streets and out of the way where you really don’t want us anyway? And for those riders that insist on flaunting the law everywhere else, you ticket them? In the 10 years that I have lived here riding in the Park like this has never been a problem, so why now? This type of riding is just not the same as the idiot that rides up a one way street the wrong way.
Again from the New York Post, a high-ranking police official said “Bicyclists should travel like vehicles and must obey the same laws. I think the moral of the story is it’s not just obey the rules of the road, but to utilize the bike lanes and safety first.” But come on. How many cars do we see parked in bike lanes? I could walk this neighborhood (Borem Hill, Cobble Hill) on any given morning or night and give out 20 tickets to cars parked in bike lanes. Is that happening? Of course not. Cars in bike lanes don’t matter. In fact, check out the picture below, how do you deal with that? When the people telling me to get in the bike lane and off the road (after telling me I should behave like a vehicle) is full of vehicles with flashing lights on top. It is absurd. And as for the idiots that drive vehicles in the park after hours with their hazard lights on (because that somehow makes it ok), when are we going to crack down on their “out-of-control behavior”? Yes I know I am a hazard, but my lights make it ok.
Not really sure where this one is going to go. Racing starts in those parks in a few months, and I wouldn’t want to be the cop that has to stand out in front of a charging Cat2/3 field on a Saturday morning, and try to get them to stop. I absolutely support stopping at red lights out on the open traffic-infested roads. I may even shout at cyclists who break them, and hope they get a ticket. It pisses me off when I see riders riding down the street the wrong way, when there is a right way street and a bike lane one block over. Get your lazy ass over there, you need the exercise. But these instances are not the same as riding on a closed park loop in a controlled manner. Enforce where it is needed and let the rest of us get on with it. It also means ALL laws should be enforced equally, and they aren’t (see bike lane above). If you close a park to traffic, then you don’t need traffic controlling-devices, traffic lights. If you say the closed park is for recreation, I love to recreation on my bike. Sometimes a little faster than others, but more often not.
There are riders that you just love to watch. That on their day can light up a race and help us remember that all the politics and nonsense that goes on between the UCI and the teams is….well, just bullshit. These are the guys that make us scream at the TV. Two of those riders are Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre. The sight of Menchov running screaming back down the home straight after remounting in the final TT of the GIRO and then going on to win the overall is still one of my favorite moments in the sport. That, alongside “Carlito” attacking on Alpe D’Huez, probably one of my more emotional moments in the sport. Perfect tactics matched with sublime climbing, man did I scream at the TV that day.
So any team built around these two great riders you would think would be a shoe-in for the top league of our sport (The Pro-Tour), but alas no. They will be made to fight to justify their place in the biggest races in the 2011 season. I am sure they and their teammates will find motivation in this, and prove they deserve the chance to compete. There is too much class there not to. So as the Tour Down Under kicks off with new teams, kits and sponsors, the Geox-TMC team went quietly about their business and kicked off their season in Tarragona, Spain. Perhaps appropriately dressed all in black (they are still waiting for their new kit design to arrive) and in danger of looking like a Rapha Ad, two Grand Tour winners and a winner of San Sebastian rolled out on a training ride. I am looking forward to seeing this group of riders proving their status wrong. We all love an underdog, although with a line-up of this quality they may not qualify for that status.
Last year one of the more unique and memorable paint jobs in the peleton was the “Golden” Fuji that the team used. For anyone that saw that frame in the flesh, you will understand the show-stopping look that paint had. The paint was actually ground-down aluminum combined with paint to get the finish. This year the Philly based-ASI company will again be supplying the team, with the new Fuji Altamira, which debuted at the Vuelta last year. Looking at the pictures below, the paint design and the gloves look like we are going to get something a little more colorful than the black kits at the training camp.
The shots in the post were captured by Michael Crook, who spent time with the team at their training camp in Spain. When I asked her how it was all going, and what was up with the black kits she explained the reason and said, “Menchov knocked me dead when I first saw him in it”. She is going to be spending the first part of the year over in Europe living the dream and following teams and races.
Nélson Oliveirawas recruited by Team RadioShack from Xacobeo Galicia for the 2011 season, off the back of two years of impressive results. In July he took the silver medal at the U23 European Road Championships in Ankara, as well as the bronze medal at the European TT Championships. He also finished 4th in the U23 TT World Championship in Melbourne this year. We were lucky enough to get some time with him as he headed to his first Team RadioShack training camp (Thanks to Dan Silva). We will be following him with interest this season as he steps up with RadioShack and rides alongside our fellow country man Philip Deignan (Ed: Go Phil!).
Thanks for taking the time Nelson, we really appreciate it It is a pleasure.
Nelson tell us about your first ever race back in Portugal, and how you got introduced to cycling?
I got introduced to cycling through my father, who was also a professional cyclist and raced in several of the Volta a Portugal. I did my first race in 2003 in the youth category at the age of 14 and I won my first race in 2004, and it was then that I started to dream of becoming a Pro. It is hard to achieve this in Portugal, as the Pro scene is pretty small. It consists of only four professional teams.I stuck with it and for the 2009 season I got a spot on the Cidade de Lugo/Artesania Galicia team. I stayed with them for one season and then moved on to Xacobeo Galicia for the 2010 season.
Growing up in Portugal which riders did you admire?
My two favorite riders to watch were José Azevedo and Lance Armstrong. It is funny how these things work out, but ironically next year José will be my coach, and Lance will be my teammate. If you had told me that back then growing up, I would have said that would be unthinkable.
The 2010 season was a great year for you, with great results in the European Championships and at the Worlds. Is this what we should expect from Nelson going forward? Do you see the TT as your specialty?
I wouldn’t call it my specialty, but for now it is without doubt the discipline where I feel more at ease, and feel the strongest. My goal for the future is to improve my performance in the mountains, and try to not loose continued improvements against the clock. I want to be a better all round rider.
Like father like son, Nelson’s father back in the day, and Nelson on the podium at the European Championships
In that World U23 TT can you remember what your numbers were? We watch these races on TV and often wonder what it takes.It gives us something to think about racing around the park.
I didn’t ride with a power meter during the TT, but my average speed for the coarse (9.81miles/15.8Km) was 27.9mph (45km/h).
What was the atmosphere like down there? We have a lot of Aussies that follow the blog, and they can be a pretty passionate group about their cycling?
The atmosphere was amazing. The sport has had a great expansion in Australia and the fans have grown with it. So despite the distance of getting down there, it was still a great place to hold the worlds and one of the main reasons why it was chosen.
Watching the grand Tours on TV I can’t imagine what it is like to ride through a wall of fans going up an Alpine or Pyrenean climb, How does it feel?
It is a pretty great feeling at any time, but especially while climbing. It is always good to have support from the side of the road when you travel, but it especially helps when your legs start to give on the bigger climbs. You definitely get an extra burst of energy that helps push you on.
What is your favorite race you have done so far as a pro?
Without doubt it was the Road Race at the World Championships at Mendrisio, where I also won the silver medal in the Time Trial. It’s where the best of the best are, and everyone wants to win a medal.
If I could give you a win right here and now, of any of the one day races, what would you choose?
Paris-Roubaix without question.
Do you have a favorite climb?
It has to be the Serra da Estrela, the highest climb in Portugal at 6,539 ft. I have a couple of favorite training rides close to where I live, but nothing in particular. I like to train on a terrain of good medium hills.
You are part of the next generation of young and clean talent in the peleton, what do you think could be done better to keep our sport clean and competitive?
I think if we continue to work the same way we are now in Portugal, we will be ok. The training set-up for young riders is fundamental, it allows you to create the right values from the start, along with the right attitude. From this we will have new riders that will turn into the right sort of idols. We need this for the fans and to bring new sponsors in to the sport.
Tell us about getting the ride with Radioshack? How did it happen? What is your program going to look like next year?
Signing for Radioshack’s is a dream come true. There has been a lot of hard work over the previous years on my part, and that has given Johan a lot of confidence in my abilities. It is still too early to define my program for next year, but I will know more as we go through the training camps and we define the team goals.
Where do you base yourself for the European calendar? I’ll continue to live where I’ve always been, in Portugal living with my parent’s
What is it like sitting on Cancellara’s wheel at full gas?
I have not had that opportunity yet
Johan continues to have an eye for great young talent, out of all the the new riders at RadioShack who impresses you the most?
Ben King. He has achieved great results already last season and is the current US Champion.
I know you will feel you have to answer Trek for this question, but when you sit on the start line and you look at all the team bikes, which one do you want to steel most (after Trek)?
After Trek, I would have to say the Pinarello. With the Pinarello FM1 I achieved the best result of my career, and was able to become the “Vice Champion” of the world for the Time Trial.
(Thanks to Dan Silva for the Portuguese translation)
Coming out of winter hibernation and more or less 6 weeks off training is probably not the best way to introduce yourself to a Specialized lunchtime ride. I knew the previous week they had all been riding with HTC or competing at the Cross Nationals in Bend so it was definitely going to blow the cobwebs away, if not a lung. I was spending the day with what could be best described as my dream client, and as Sean said, “everything from noon to 1.30pm can go on the blog, everything else stays in the building”. So that is what I will limit my account to, and based on that, the “dream client” tag was a little tarnished post ride.
Now you know that a bunch of guys that work for a bike company and live and breathe the sport of cycling, coupled with a ride like this 5 days a week, is going to be a “spirited” outing, so you are kind of hoping for a little help. Mine came in the way of my ride for the day, a beautiful SL3 built up with SRAM Red. That has to be the best “loaner” I have ever thrown my leg over. They are blessed with some pretty beautiful riding right out of the headquarters’ doors, and after a few car park pleasantries and traffic lights, a pace line soon developed. I was feeling surprisingly good until Ben rolled up next to me and pointed out that the approaching kickers is where it would “heat up” – I was already pretty hot. And just as I was coming off the front in a very short period in the wind, it got hotter.
For those of you who usually ride Shimano (me) and have not used SRAM before (me), beware of what I call the “brake and change“. In those moments when you are a little cooked and changing down a gear, that same brake lever shift on a Shimano actually more or less pulls the brake on SRAM. Not what you need when your elastic is stretching. I would like to have said I saw the town line sprint at the end, but they were small colorful dots in the distance by that point. So now I know what to expect and I can only get better from here. I also picked up some very special kit. A Prevail helmet, which if the weather gets above freezing your feet off I might actually get out to try, and a pair of the very cool Miura team issue optics. We will get a review up as soon we actually get out to test them.
Look at the picture above, then look again. The rider on the right is Sir Chris Hoy of Scotland, undoubtedly one of the best track riders ever to grace the boards, and a four times Olympic Sprint Champion. On the right is Felix English of Ireland (the irony of that name), not even a sprinter by trade who usually wins KOM prizes. The picture above is Felix English eliminating Chris Hoy from the European championships in Poland. How can that be (look at the thigh size alone)? It is truly a lesson in racing to the line. Hoy eased up to save energy and not humiliate his younger rival. Felix had nothing to loose, and gave it full gas to the line. The result? Probably the biggest scalp of his career. You have to love a surprise like this. Come on Sir Chris get your ass out on the road and shock a few spindly little climbers. You don’t have to get over the climbs, you will scare them just standing next to them on the start line.
Our friend and artist Riccardo Guasco just sent us some samples of his latest work titled, “The Dream Team” of cyclists. Beautifully captured characters, and you have to love that mustache. See more of the illustrations here in Riccardo’ s gallery, and you can contact Riccardo at email@example.com
Who wants Jonathan Vaughters job in June? Picking your Tour De France team from this group is going to be pretty tough. Lets start with are you going to put your faith in Christian for GC and build a strong team around him? Are you going to go for a team that is going to deliver stage wins galore, two of the best sprinters in he world and one of the best one day riders. Who is in the lead out train? Who are your climbers? Do you give the rising stars Dan Martin or Jack Bobridge their first Tours? Or maybe Tommy D finds the form we all want him to. Who are the engines for the flats in the first week and will drive the bunch to chase down breaks? The Team Time Trial! What a team just for that.
Your Garmin Tour 9 from this selection?:
Christian Vande Velde
Johan Van Summeren
On a trip to Switzerland this year I found this beautiful book in a flea market. The book was commissioned by Editions Palais in Paris to commemorate the last days of the great Six Day races at the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Winter Velodrome). It was France’s first indoor track, and the name stuck for all covered velodromes built since that first six-day race took place on the 13th January 1913. The track was designed by Gaston Lambert, and was 253.16m round at the base. Their were two tiers of seats which towered above bankings so steep for their day that they were considered cliff-like and the space was lit with 1,253 hanging lamps. That first race set a very high bar. Included in it were the Tour de France winners Louis Trousselier and Émile Georget. Racing began at 6pm and by 9pm all 20,000 seats were sold. Among those who watched was the millionaire Henri de Rothschild who offered a prize of 600 francs. A tradition also started of electing a Queen of the Six, whose job included starting the race and giving out the prizes, the most famous being Édith Piaf.
The last six-day race at the Vel’ d’Hiv’ started on 7 November 1958. The stars of the series were Roger Rivière, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, and André Darrigade and the race was run in teams of three. Rivière had to drop out after a crash with Anquetil in the first hours on 5th night, and Darrigade won the biggest prime ever offered at the track of one million francs. The overall winners were Anquetil and his partners, Darrigade and Terruzzi. The final night at the Vel’ d’Hiv was on the 12th May 1959. The illustrations captured in this book by French illustrator Jacques Lem are some of the most beautiful drawings I have ever seen of riders. They have captured a mood that no photographs of the period could ever convey and the personalities not just of the riders but of the spectators and workers around the track.
Photographer Michael Crook has spent most of the year traveling with the best US domestic teams, to the biggest races this side of the Atlantic. What she captures isn’t the usual photographer on the road shots, that chase the action at the front of the pack. She captures a side of the race that you or I wouldn’t normally get to see. There is an honesty to the shots that show a slice of life at the less glamorous end of our sport.