Category Archives: professional cycling
The time trial. To some, the most significant stage of any race, to others, it’s a prison of pain and suffering. Grown men tear themselves inside out for around an hour for the world to watch. The prison metaphor is very fitting for Folsom, which houses the state prison. Founded in 1880, this penitentiary was made famous by Johnny Cash’s two performances, which still resonate today.
Speaking of performance, the time trail bikes of the second stage of the Amgen Tour of California epitomize technology. From the newest wheels, groups and even the helmets, the PRO racers looked like high-tech spacemen.
Team SKY’s Wiggo took the crown today, with a finishing time 44 seconds faster than anyone else…
If you watched the first stage of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, then hopefully you watched the women’s circuit race. Zipping through the corners, tight in the front group there were a grouping of red and white jerseys: the girls of Stan’s NoTubes p/b enduranceWERX.
One of these ladies, I’ve known for years and watched her grow in the sport. BrittLee Bowman races road for Stan’s and crushes cross for Richard Sachs. She’s a total babe and is one of the most humble, friendly people you’ll meet on a bike.
Right after the women finished their race, I shot some quick photos of BrittLee and her Rosko steel road bike… I love the “muscle” photo!
Sacramento’s projected high temperature was supposed to be 84 on Sunday, yet it felt like the 90′s. I also made the mistake of wearing all-black (again). It was cooking hot, but how could I complain when the PRO racers were out in the real heat, cranking away calories and watts. Luckily for them, the Skratch Labs team was out with Neutral Human Support.
Us on the otherhand, not so much but we did get to drink fresh espresso at the über-new Rapha Mobile Cycle Club and watch the PRO women race for an hour in a fast-paced circuit race around the State Capitol, which became the highlight of the day for me. Not just watching them cook corners well-done, but to see how engaged the audience was and a majority of the passionate fans were women AND it was mother’s day.
There was a lot of love for the women going around, so I reciprocated that by turning my lens to them.
Stage 01 ended with a phenomenal sprint by Cavendish and everyone’s appetite was whet for Stage 02′s time trail in Folsom…
Parking lot yoga, hydration, swimming pools, shopping malls and yes, more hydration. Manual for Speed tackles it all with the ladies of Team Stan’s NoTubes!
Yesterday (in California), I arrived at the host town for the first stage of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. Most of the teams had been pouring into the parking lots for the days prior. Their mobile mechanics areas were glistening with overspray from bike washing, their rags hanging in the sun to dry and all the bikes were being prepped for the first stage.
Part of the reason I’m here is to check out what the guys at Skratch Labs are doing for the tour, which I’ll elaborate on this week. Their task yesterday – Saturday afternoon – was to fill 150 water bottles – bidons – for the first stage.
Skratch is doing a “Neutral Human Support” car. A vehicle that will offer up free bottles, moral support and other forms of encouragement to the racers, regardless of their livery. 150 bottles, stuffed into coolers, covered with ice and ready to be handed off to racers… it was going to be a warm day on Sunday – which it was!
Dogriver Super D
Words and photos by Kyle Von Hoetzendorff
I have my rituals you see, and they must be respected. Coffee, breakfast burritos, a Porta-John in that order, my body demands it, directs me. As long as I have been racing in the Pacific NW it has always been the same. I expect it, settles the nerves. Forget about going to bed early, having a protein shake, or sitting in a bath of ice cubes while there is perfectly good hot water pulsing just beyond the walls. Take the shower, have some pizza, stay up all night. I know who I want to beat and we were out drinking last night.
This is amateur racing in your 30s, this is beer at the starting line, long-range intimidation practices, strategic heckles, head games. Fitness at this stage isn’t just about VO2 Max or lactic thresholds, its about the rest of it, throwing life’s little chosen challenges into the mix, try whiskey soaked sleep deprivation giving you the shakes in the starting gate. Not that everything requires a debauched approach; it’s just that it also doesn’t, so why not?
Super D racing, like all types of racing, fits this program perfectly. In this particular case, the Mountain Man Challenge Dogriver Super D, the extended descent is punctuated mid race with a ball buster climb. This would be the decisive section, whoever could make it through the climb the fastest with a modicum of energy in reserve would rule the day. Alex “KrunkShox” McGuiness would take first place in just over 22 minutes, followed closely by all-pro Matt Slaven and Team Robots very own “Chaz” Sponsel. I would finish in just over 25 minutes, mid-pack, I would be tired, I would want sleep.
Take a survey and the vast majority of cyclists who haven’t spent a day descending don’t have any idea who strenuous it can be. It’s “cheating” they say as if descending is the unfortunate outcome of so many arduous minutes spent slowly suffering on the cranks while climbing the nearest crucible. In fact, as our frozen water cousins found out years ago, the descent presents its own unique challenge that once appreciated can be developed and refined. Time passes differently here, we don’t chat, life, outside life, must be put on hold, clear your schedule, erase the board, we are talking undivided attention. Your nerves not to mention your legs, butt, back, arms, neck, chest, and abs are constantly on high alert, think Gorbachev and Regan white knuckling their red phones. This race is after all an act that is antithetical to our biological imperative, you are challenging gravity, and gravity has, and will, ALWAYS win.
Why do it then? Take away the wolves, the lions, the tribal warfare and your left with an egregious surplus of need-to-survive. Chemicals man, chemicals bend reason, chemicals create their own logic, and this is how I find myself hurtling down the side of a mountain, oxygen deprived, on the edge of control, in a race for no money and no fame. Chemicals.
I am not saying that this is better than that, than something, anything else. If you are reading this lovely site then you probably like bikes, and if you like bikes, have the time to like bikes, then your life is pretty good. Sometimes it’s nice to know that it’s good for someone else too. Its chemical man.
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I’m counting down the days!
Manual for Speed is unmatched when it comes to documenting behind the scenes randomness within professional cycling. Their latest in the American Criteriums series is on Housing. Head to MFS for more!
This is the video Brian Vernor made, documenting both the Argonaut disc gravel racer and the Rouge Roubaix. We were in St. Francisville for three days, where Brian and I did our best to document the bikes in action, before and during the race. His interviews offer insight into what makes the Rouge Roubaix tick, while opening up the personalities of the race officials and local vernacular.
Let’s just say he captured it all perfectly and it was an honor to work next to him that weekend!