Monday, October 27, 2008

The sweet escape...a weekend in Paris

Once again, I'm very sorry my post have been a little far and few between over the last couple of weeks. Things have gotten a little crazy at my real job. Yes, I actually have a "real" job. Surprisingly, it's very hard to make ends meet by writing a free blog.

In addition to having to actually "work" for a living, this was the big weekend of our annual two day Pedal-2-Paris bike ride. That's right, I actually spent a romantic weekend in Paris. Now, I don't suppose it would take any of the luster off of it if I mentioned that it was Paris Texas, not Paris France. I suppose it would, but we had a good time anyway.

Once again, I know I'm opening myself up to ridicule from those readers who live in parts of the country were it really does get cold, but here in Texas, it was cold when we left for Paris Saturday morning. By cold, I mean it was 39 degrees at our 8:00am start. You know how at the start of long rides, or multi-day rides, everyone's excited, and talking, and laughing. Well, there wasn't a lot of that going on at the start of this ride. We were all too busy trying to keep our snot from freezing to our upper lips. As the day went on, it warmed right on up, and we were quickly shedding knee warmers, and jackets, and gloves. By noon, we were all generally in our usual shorts and jerseys.

The ride itself was very peaceful. We were mostly on those back country Texas roads, were you'll see about 1 car every fifteen minutes or so. We actually spent more time counting the wildlife we saw, than the cars we saw. And I'm using the term "wildlife" in it's broadest definition. For the purposes of this discussion, cows are wildlife. Horses are wildlife. In addition to the herds of the wild North Texas cows and horses, we also saw buffalo, and a coyote, several deer, and more buzzards than I really felt comfortable with. When you're 5 hours into a bike ride and you're just really tired, the last thing you want to see is some buzzard staring at you, with that "so how you feeling" look in his eyes.

Once we got to Paris, we loaded up the bikes in our support vans, and drove straight to downtown Paris, for the Pumpkin Festival, or as it's pronounced here in Texas, the Punkin Festival. Doesn't the phrase "downtown Paris" sound exotic and romantic? Well, when you actually get there, it's not quite as exotic as you imagine. Anyway, we figured it was better to go ahead and go to the festival before we checked into the hotel, because if we went to the hotel first, we probably wouldn't leave again until it was time to head back to McKinney on Sunday morning.

After a quick lap around the Paris town square, we went to the local Italian restaurant for dinner. The phrase "the local Italian restaurant" can probably be taken literally. After that, it was off to the hotel. After icing down everything that hurt, (it would probably be easier to list everything that didn't hurt, so I won't actually list the things that hurt), it was bed time.

The second day of the ride was a little more exciting than the first. I try not to complain about the weather, but I feel better when I do, so I complain quite often. I should probably feel guilty about complaining about the weather this past weekend, because on the whole, the weather was absolutely great. Both days started out cold, but warmed up to the mid 70's quickly. Blue skies were the order of both days. The winds on Saturday, were out of the Northeast, but only at 4 or 5 mph, so you hardly noticed it. However, unfortunately for us, on Sunday, the wind switched around to the South, which just happened to be the direction we were riding in.

Like I said, I try not to complain about the weather, but this is the second year in a row, were we've had a headwind both days. You'd think that, by shear luck, we'd have a tail wind just one day out of four. But no, the cycling gods didn't see fit to provide us with anything but a headwind. After about 50 miles on Sunday of riding directly into a 15 to 20 mph headwind, we had stopped for lunch and were just about ready to call it a day, when Bikin Mike Keel had an epiphany. As he stood looking at our two support vans that were going to drive us home, he had a stroke of genius. If we just wanted to get our miles in, what difference does it make what direction we're riding in. We all stood there looking at each other for a minute or two, and we suddenly realized what this meant. No more killing ourselves riding into the wind. We could just turn around, ride back towards Paris, with the wind, for the last 25 miles, finish up, and go home. This was brilliant. With the utterance of that one phrase, Mike had saved the day. That last 25 miles was like a dream, a 25 mile team time trial.

With the completion of the Pedal-2-Paris, our outdoor cycling season pretty much comes to an end. We'll get out for an occasional ride when the weather permits, but for the most part, we'll be in Bikin' Mike's spin studio four or five days a week. We'll talk about that a little more in the weeks to come.

On a completely different matter, this past week, the Nearly Famous Fred Cycling blog had a milestone event. We had our first confirmed reader from outside my immediate circle of friends. A very nice lady from Carlsbad CA left a very nice comment on my post about cyclist vs runners vs triathletes, confirming my suspicion that all triathletes were indeed crazy. That's one.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Lazy Man's Guide to Hill Climbing

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Things have been a little busy around here.

Still trying to get ready for the upcoming Pedal-2-Paris bike ride, coming up this weekend. Towards that end, I made the drive over to Mineral Wells, TX this weekend for the Kiwanis Crazy Kicker Bike ride. This was a really good ride, with a lot of very scenic countryside to ride through. For those of you from Montana or Colorado, you probably wouldn't think that it was that scenic, but for these parts, it was very pretty. And also, very hilly. Again, for those from different areas of the country, you would probably laugh at what we Texans thought was hilly. Kind of the same way we laugh at you when we here you complaining about the heat, when it's 90 degrees outside. Come talk to us about the heat when you break triple digits. But, since everything is relative, this was a very "mountainous" bike ride.

I did the 100k ride, which by my computer, turned out to be 67 miles instead of 62 miles. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but when those extra 5 miles come at the end of the ride, after you've been climbing hills all day long, believe me when I say they matter. If they could somehow slip those extra five miles into the middle of the ride, they'd be a lot less bothersome. But it never fails, the extra 5 miles always come at the end of the ride.

Anyway, while climbing what had to the the 25th hill of the day, I made a surprising discover. That after you climb that many hills, there comes a point where you really don't seem to notice the hills anymore. During the first part of the ride, as you approach the hill, that sense of dread starts creeping in. As you start the actual climb, you begin to feel the burning in your legs, and the closer you get to the top, the more and more it burns. But after a couple of hours of this, a rather pleasant thing starts to happen. The sense of dread doesn't seem as strong anymore. The burning in your legs doesn't seem as intense anymore either. This is either due to hypoxia, (not enough oxygen getting to the brain), or something else.

I think it is due to something else, and not surprisingly, I have a theory as to what that something else might be. Actually, it probably is due, at least in part, to hypoxia. But also something else. It goes to what I have dubbed my "standing in the rain" theory. If you go outside and stand in a driving rain for 10 minutes, you might as well just stand out there for another hour. You're not going to get any wetter. After ten minutes, you're as wet as you're going to be after an hour. I think the same is true to cycling, and particularly, hill climbing. There comes a point of saturation, when you're as tired as you're going to get. From that point on, it's just a matter of replacing fuel and water. As long as you don't just run out of fuel and bonk, according to my theory, you should be able to just keep riding.

I've always enjoyed climbing hills. Maybe that's because I'm such a lousy sprinter. That's not to say that I'm a great hill climber. I just said I enjoy it, not that I'm good at it. Not to toot my own horn, (oh hell, I'll just toot away), I've only ever had to walk 1 hill in my life. And I've climbed hills in Northern California and Montana. Let me let you in on my 3 secrets to getting up a hill. Now notice that I didn't say get up a hill quickly. If you're looking to get up Alpe d'Huez in 37 minutes, you are REALLY talking to the wrong guy. But if you aren't late for anything, I can get you to the top.

First rule is to be careful where you look. Don't look at your cycle computer. It's only going to show you how slow you are going. Don't look at your heart rate monitor. It's only going to show you how tired you are. And whatever you do, for the love of God, don't look up the hill. That's only going to show you how far you still have to go, and how steep it is. You should look at the road, about 6 feet in front of your bike. From where you are to there, it really doesn't seem that steep. Just keep pedaling, and when it starts to get easier, you're getting close to the top.

Speaking of just keep pedaling, that's the second rule. No matter what happens, just keep pedaling. I know that sounds simple, but if you've spent any time at all reading this blog, you'll understand that "simple" is right in my wheelhouse. As simple as it may sound, "just keep pedaling" actually works. Left foot over the right, right foot over the left, repeat as necessary. As long as you don't stop pedaling, the laws of physics say that you will eventually reach the top of the hill.

The third and final secret is also quite simple. Climb every hill you can find. This summer I was out on a ride, and the group I was riding with came to a point in the ride where you could turn left, and ride the hilly part of the ride to the finish. Or you could go straight, and do the flatter part of the ride to the finish. One of the guys I was riding with said that he wasn't a very good hill climber, so he was going to take the flatter option. I thought to myself, "now that's an interesting training strategy". Get stronger at climbing hills, by avoiding climbing hills. If you want to become a better hill climber, there's only one way to do it. Climb more hills.

Now, on a more serious note. If any of you are readers of The Fat Cyclist blog, you are probably aware that his wife Susan, has been battling a recurrence of cancer. Well, according to Fatty's blog posting today, it seems that things took a turn for the worse over the weekend. Susan was having problems breathing Sunday night, and required an ambulance trip to the hospital. That's all we know for now, but Fatty said that he'd post more info as soon as it was available. I know from reading Fatty's blog that he always reads the comments left by his readers. I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you left a good word for him and Susan. You can click here to go to The Fat Cyclist. Please keep a good thought for Susan, Fatty, and their kids. Win Susan!

Peace out....Nearly Famous Fred

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vive, le diff'erance! Except for those damn triathletes

When it comes to getting to know new people, I will be the first to admit that I tend to be a little standoffish. To really tell the truth, I generally avoid new people like the plague. I don't know if I'm just getting more and more cranky as I get older, or if I'm just lazy. I really don't want to put forth the effort it takes to get to know someone new. For those people that I've gotten to know in the recent few years, you should feel pretty good about yourself, in that you seemed interesting enough that I chose to put in the work. As I said, I'm raising laziness to never before seen heights.

I mention the above, because in today's post, I will attempt to compare and contrast the differences between cyclist, runners, and that most unusual of enthusiast, the triathlete. And since I don't meet a whole lot of new people, most of the opinions that I will express here today, are derived more from observation, than actual face-to-face interaction. Matter of fact, most of the runners and triathletes that I do know, are actual cyclist who also run and swim. So we're talking about a very shallow pool that these opinions have been developed from. I freely admit that the opinions expressed here might be completely unfair generalizations, quite possibly wrong, and even actually mean.
But that's all I have to go on, so get over it.

From what I can see, cyclist tend to be a very social group. At least the cyclist that I hang out with are. Actually, if we didn't "hang out" together, I probably wouldn't think they were very social. It's kind of a catch-22 thing. We're social because we hang out, and we hang out because we're social. But anyway, this seems to be true amongst a large percentage of the cyclist that I see. At local bike rallies, the after-ride activities are almost as important as the ride itself. If you read some of the bike rally reviews on, there seems to be as many comments about the food and festivities after the ride, as there are about the ride itself.

Bicyclist seem to be generally happier than their running counterparts. From time to time, I'll go out and ride around White Rock Lake here in Dallas. This is an area also frequented by a lot of runners. While the cyclist seemed to be really enjoying themselves, the runners typically look like someone just shot their dogs. I see them going by, their foreheads all furrowed, running like their late for a funeral. On the other hand, the cyclist are riding along, usually chatting with the other cyclist around them, without a care in the world, except for trying not to run into the runners who seem to be in the clutches of a oxygen debt induced fog.

Another difference that I've noticed, is that for the most part, runners seem to be a lot more intense about running, than cyclist are about cycling. You see runners out running in their little tank tops and running shorts, constantly checking their stop watch/wrist watches, to see if their pace has fallen off by a tenth of a mph. When I'm out on a bike ride, I usually don't check my average speed until after the ride is over. But like I said, laziness is an art form for me.

A perfect example of this intensity comes from the wife of a friend of mine. Due to knee problems, she switched from running to cycling. So she's at her first bike rally ever, and she arrives at the first break point. Now for those of us who have been cycling for a while, when we get to a rest stop, we coast in and come to a stop, gently lay our bikes down, and casually walk over to the food tables. We get something to eat and drink, and after 5 minutes or so of making small talk with the other cyclist, we'll casually walk back to our bikes, get back on, and ride off. But that's not how the converted runner does it. She flies into the break point, jumps off her still rolling bike, runs over to the food table, slams a couple of glasses of gator-aid, shoves a couple of cookies in her mouth, sprints back to her bike, the wheels still spinning as it lays on the ground, jumps back on and flies back onto the road, possibly running over cats and small children as she goes, but never slowing down. She said it took several bike rallies for her to realize that the person who finishes first, gets the same crap*y t-shirt as the person who finishes last.

I haven't talked about triathletes yet because, quite frankly, I really don't understand them. In a prior post, I mentioned that triathletes should hereto after be referred to as "crazy people". If you think I'm going to apologize for saying that, you've got another think coming. While I certainly admire the dedication that it takes to complete a full triathlon, actually doing so has to be one of the dumbest things that I've ever heard of. And I've heard all the arguments about pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do, and the joy of accomplishing something that seemed impossible, and blah blah blah. To quote the great Gene Wilder in the movie Young Frankenstein, (quite possibly the funniest movie ever made), "your listening to the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind". I personally think that breaking all of my knuckles with a hammer is something beyond what I thought I could ever due, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to start training myself to do it. Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean that you should.

I'm hardly a unbiased judge on this, but it just seems to me that cyclist are the happier and more relaxed group of the three we've discussed here today. I'm sure that runners think their happy, but they sure don't look like it. And triathletes, who knows what the hell their thinking.

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, October 13, 2008

Next year will be different, probably

As we get into mid-October now, the outdoor cycling season is starting to wind down. Generally, when the temperature dips below 60, we Texans will consider that too cold for cycling outdoors. At least on a regular basis. Really, I'm not kidding. Around the end of October, first of November, most of us head indoors and start riding spin classes for the next 5 months. We occasionally will venture back outside for a ride once in a while, but that only serves to remind us why we headed indoors to begin with. After a quickly shortened ride, we usually wind up at the nearest restaurant, and/or bar, eating and drinking something to warm us, swearing that we now realize just how bad an idea that was, and that we'll never do it again.

Those of you who live in areas were the temperature generally doesn't get above 50 degrees for those 5 months, probably find that very funny. For you people, you just bundle up and pedal through the ice, and the snow, and the frostbite, and the hypothermia. Now read that last sentence again.....when you say it out loud like that, it's sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it. So while your laughing at us for heading indoors, trust me when I say, we're laughing just as hard at you for staying outdoors.

For me, the ride that symbolizes the end of the outdoor season, is our annual Pedal-2-Paris bike ride. I say annual, as this is the second year in a row that we've done this ride. Like I said, annual. We start on a Saturday, in a small town just north of McKinney called Blue Ridge, TX, and we ride about 75 miles to Paris, TX. I was sure to add the "TX" to that, just to be sure that you didn't confuse it with the Paris in France. Because you know, people are always getting those two confused. Then on Sunday, we turn around and ride back.

It should be said that our Pedal-2-Paris ride, (or the P2P as we like to call it because we think it sounds cool and somehow chicks will dig us), does not hit the bright lights of the big cities. If the entire membership of Team Bikin' shows up in Blue Ridge for the start of the ride, we have just about increased the population by 25%. Once we leave Blue Ridge, we won't see a town that "large" until we get to Paris. Along the way, we'll hit the thriving metropolis' of Frognot, Celeste, Ladonia, and Pecan Gap, just to name a few. This year we're in for a special treat as when we get to Paris, we'll be arriving just in time for the annual Pumpkin Festival. After the debauchery of that, I don't know if we'll be in any sort of shape to ride back on Sunday.

As with the end of every cycling season, I'll make my usual promises to myself. Those would be that I'm going to ride more, ride harder, ride more consistently next year. That next year, I'm going to find a bike rally to ride every weekend from the first of April, thru the end of October, and I'm not going to let trivial things like work, family, health, or anything else keep me from riding.

Yea, right. I'll be sure to let you know how that works out.

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So how do you like me so far

Well, how do you think it's going? We're about 4 weeks into this blog now, and I've discovered a few thing about myself already. Some of these things, I'm really not surprised by, and some of them, I'm just shocked by.

The first surprising thing I've figured out; this isn't as easy as you might think it is. It only took me about a week to discover that sitting down in front of a keyboard and coming up with something to write about EVERY NIGHT can sometimes be a daunting task. If you're a regular reader of this blog, and how could you not be, then you probably noticed that the frequency of my postings has slowed down a little since that first week. For the first week, I think I posted just about every night. But after that, it started getting harder and harder to think of something to write about. Or to be more precise, something interesting to write about. So it was at that point that I figured that I might want to post every other night, (Mon, Wed, & Fri). Don't get me wrong, if I wanted to write every night, I could write something, but not anything that you would really want to read.

While it might be difficult to find something interesting to write about sometimes, the actual writing doesn't seem that hard. If I find something that I'm really interested in, it just seems to flow, and the next thing you know, it's done. I was reading some of The Fat Cyclist old blogs, and he said that when he writes, he writes like he's writing for his six best friends. I was actually insanely jealous when I read this, since I'm not sure I have six friends to write to. So more out of necessity than anything else, I take the opposite path. I write like I'm talking to a complete stranger, who's never met me, or anyone I ride with, and has never spent any significant time in the D/FW area. This actually helps me, as most of my friends have heard a lot of these thoughts and opinions already. By writing to strangers, I get to express my unsolicited opinions to a whole new crop of unsuspecting, innocent bystanders.

What hasn't come as a surprise to me, is that I don't seem to have any problem expressing myself. In reading over some of my old postings, I seem to "express" a lot. Feel free to substitute "complain" for "express" in that last sentence. That's something I'll try not to do too much of. By the way, for our purposes here, the term "old", when referring to my old postings, is actually about 21 days. Old is a relative term.

I'm a little disappointed that I haven't received any products to review yet. If you recall, in one of my first postings, I requested, if not begged for, any products that you would like reviewed. Well so far I haven't received anything. What's the point of doing something like this, if I don't receive any sort of free swag for my efforts. Oh sure, some will say that the joy of doing this should come from the pleasure I get in passing along any nuggets of wisdom that I might have to my readers. Well, that's a good idea, but there's more than just a few fundamental problems with that theory. The first, and most glaring problem, is that it assumes that I have any sort of "wisdom" to be passed along. My writings can be described in a lot of ways, but I don't think they've ever been described as just chocked full of wisdom. The second problem with that theory is that even if I did have any sort of wisdom, the desire to get some sort of freebie would supersede any desire to pass that wisdom along. I'm really just not that deep. But you probably already knew that.

So anyway, I think things are going just great. The blog seems to be growing a little bit of a following. I actually seem to enjoy writing it. I haven't gotten sued yet. And, quite surprisingly, I haven't seemed to have attracted any sort of "groupies", if you know what I mean. But there's always hope. Now if you people would just get with it and send me some free stuff, this would be perfect.

Peace out......Nearly Famous Fred

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dopers s*ck

It seems that every day, another story breaks about another pro cyclist who gets caught doping. In just the last week it has been announced that Stephan Schumacher and Leonardo Piepoli both tested positive at this years Tour de France. That's in addition to Ricardo Ricco, who was booted during the tour. Given all of the testing that goes on in cycling, in particular at the Tour de France, and the likelihood that they'll get caught, one has to wonder why they do it. I've developed a couple of theories.

Just so you are aware of what kind of testing goes on, a professional cyclist is subject to a random drug test, anytime and anywhere. I mean that literally. During competition or out of competition, they have to let the drug testing people know where they are going to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In his first book, Lance Armstrong tells how his wife was in labor, and as they were headed out the door for the hospital, who do they run into but the doping control people, wanting a urine sample. They didn't make Lance give a sample before they left, but they did follow them to the hospital and collected a sample once they got checked in.

So, given that kind of scrutiny, the first theory that I have developed seems somewhat obvious. Cyclist just can't be that smart. Now as a cyclist myself, this is somewhat troubling. While there's always been some doubt that I'd ever split the atom, I always considered myself to be a somewhat intelligent person. On the other hand, if I were a moron, I probably wouldn't be smart enough to know it.

Anyway, a significant lack of intelligence would certainly explain some of the behavior that we have seen in pro cycling the last few years. At this years Tour, before he tested positive and got kicked out, when Ricardo Ricco saw the drug control people waiting for him, he actually just ran away and hid. Yea, that ought to do it. I'm sure they just wouldn't come back later and test him then. Not surprisingly, they eventually found him, tested him, and kicked him out of the tour. Not the actions of a mental giant.

Frank Schleck is currently under investigation for sending $10,000.00 to the bank account of a doctor who has been barred from having any association with pro cyclist, because of his past history of providing them with performance enhancing drugs. Under questioning about this, Mr Schleck's well thought out and plausible explanation was that he didn't know who he was sending the money too. Now we've all done that haven't we? Just sent $10,000.00 to a bank account, without knowing who it was for. Again, doesn't sound like a smart man.

Since theory #1 is so depressing, I've come up with a second theory. Instead of being incredibly stupid, cyclist are actually incredibly sensitive to what other people think about them. They just want people to think that they're great cyclist. When Ricardo Ricco was winning those stages of the Tour de France last year, he knew he was a cheater, and that the performance enhancing drugs were the primary reason that he was able to ride like he did. He knew he wasn't as good a rider as he was riding. But it was important to him that everyone thought he was that good.

In a weird, twisted kind of way, that's actually kind of sweet. In a strange way, I'm actually kind of flattered that Ricardo was that concerned about what I thought about him. My opinion matter so much to him, that he was willing to risk his whole career, just so I would think that he was a great cyclist.

So, to the Ricardo's, and the Stephan's, and Frank's, and anyone else out there who's thinking of taking performance enhancing drugs just to impress me, let me state for the record that I won't think any less of you if you don't win. You're allowed to be human. It may come as a surprise to you, but most of my cycling friends couldn't climb Alpe d'Huez in 37 minutes either. But I like them anyway. Most of the cyclist I know, couldn't maintain a 33 mph average for a 45k time trial, but I still like to ride with them. If those big bad meanies in the pro peloton won't like you because you're not as fast as they are, you're welcome to ride with us. We'll love you anyway.

Here's a wild thought. If it's not stupidity or sensitivity to the opinions of others, then it's probably just the money.

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred

Friday, October 3, 2008

Team Bikin': All dynasties have to begin somewhere

Since the beginning of time, man has searched out others of his kind. Those who share the same interest, and have a common bond. Some say this is because there is comfort in a large group of people similar to you. In other words, no matter how insane something is, you never feel quite as dumb if your surrounded by others doing the same insane thing.

This has never been more true than when it comes to a bicycling club or team. I mean think about it. Riding a bicycle on the same roads that are used by 2,000 lbs cars, is not what most people would describe as a terribly smart way to spend one's time. There is strength in numbers. Even though we're not really any safer, I know I always feel safer riding in a group than by myself. So, for the most part, we as cyclist generally search out a group or team to ride with.

In my case, that group would be Team Bikin'. Now right from the start, you need to understand that Team Bikin' isn't what most people think of when they think of a cycling team. First of all, the word "team" implies some sort of disposition to ride "fast' and "race". Neither of these terms could ever be truthfully applied to Team Bikin'. And guess what, we like it that way.

Below is a picture of a good percentage of the team, taken at a recent group ride:

Now, I know what your thinking, how could the Tour De France ignore us yet again this year? Well, I'll tell you why the Tour De France is ignoring us, they're afraid of us. That's the only explanation that makes any sense. They're afraid that our little cycling club will dominate their race around France the same way that the Germans dominated France in 1943. The same way that mustard dominates a hot dog. The same way that sauerkraut dominates a Reuben sandwich. But I digress.

To say that Team Bikin has a bit of a relaxed attitude towards cycling, would be a gross understatement. While most cycling teams are dealing with topics like how to increase their average speed by .5 mph, or how to properly setup a left echelon, Team Bikin' is typically more occupied with figuring out where to eat lunch after the ride. "Eat to ride, ride to eat". That's sage advise and words to live by.

This is not to say that we're not serious about our cycling. Actually, that's exactly what it's saying. No, I'm wrong again. We are serious about our cycling, but not in the same way that most cycling teams are. Where most teams are obsessed with riding faster, we're more concerned with how we ride. We're deadly serious about riding legally and safely. We actually stop at stop signs and red lights. Yes, this tends to slow us down, but so what. We'll eventually get where we're going. I know, weird, huh? We also have a standing rule that no one rides alone. No matter how slow someone is, they always have someone to ride in with. No one gets dropped. The slowest rider in a group sets the pace for that group. Now, if one rider is slowing the whole group down, then we'll find another group for him/her to ride with. But as long as they are with a group, they don't get dropped.

If our little version of Team CSC has a leader, it would be Mike Keel, or Bikin' Mike, as he is known in these parts. (For those of you not from Texas, "in these parts" roughly translates to "around here".) Mike has been a cycling coach in the Dallas/Ft Worth area for about 30 years now. He runs a spin studio, does personal coaching and training, and produces three or four bike rides a year in the area. He is the driving force behind Team Bikin's philosophy of riding legally and safely. If you won't ride legally and safely, then you won't be riding with us for long. You will politely be told by Mike, that your presence is no longer required at our group rides. Or not so politely told, as the situation may warrant. Mike's just painfully shy that way.

Now, I want to be sure that I say this correctly. I don't want to offend anyone, so I'm going to choose my words very carefully. As a writer, I have a keen sense of how to say something, and a gift for tact. I have a wordsmith's grasp of the English language. I talk very goodly. OK, so here I go.

Mike Keel is short.

There, I've said it. I don't think I'm letting any great secret out of the bag here. Anyone who has ever met Mike, is aware that he is not a tall man, and I'm pretty sure that Mike is aware that he is what can be referred to as "vertically challenged". He is not of great physical size. But what he lacks in physical size, he more than makes up for in presence, stature, and heart. He spends a great deal of his time volunteering with charitable groups in the area. Just about any bike ride that Mike produces, is going to have a charitable beneficiary. And once Mike considers you his friend, there's nothing that he won't do for you. Oh, by the way, he's one of the strongest cyclist that I've ever ridden with.

So, is there reason to believe that Team Bikin' will not receive a wild card invitation to next years Tour de France? Probably. And we'll probably never be confused with the Garmin/Chipotle Team out on the road. But that's OK with us. We'll continue to ride at our own pace, finishing closer to the end of the peloton than the beginning. Again, that's OK with us. But we will finish, safely and together.

Now, where's lunch?

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm just trying to understand

In the last couple of post, we have discussed the proper etiquette for bicyclist, in relation to other cyclist, and in relation to cars. It is with great trepidation that tonight, we attempt to discuss what we can and should expect in the way of manners from cars and their drivers, in relation to bicycles.

I should qualify the remarks that follow by saying that they are based solely on my own experiences out on the road. But statistically speaking, I believe that people who drive their cars around cyclist must have a better sense of humor than the average person driving down the road. I say this because they seem to always have some sort of prank or game that they just have to play on any cyclist they happen to encounter. My particular favorite is the "lets scream as loud as we can as we go by the cyclist" game. Another good one is the "even though we've got two other lanes to use, let's go by the cyclist just a little closer than we have to" game. I can't really explain what motivates otherwise normal, friendly, and law abiding people to act the way they do in their cars when they get near bicyclist. My best guess would be, unless they screw up and actually run over a cyclist, their really isn't any chance that they will suffer any sort of consequences for their actions. As cyclist, we all hope that by some miracle, we catch up with them at the next red light, but they always seem to disappear.

From a cyclist point of view, my wish, ney call it a dream if you will, is simply this; I wish car drivers would treat me and my bicycle like any other vehicle on the road. All be it, a somewhat slower vehicle, but just another vehicle. I have modest dreams, so that's really all I want. Give me the same room that you would give another car. If you're going to pass me, (and given that I'm usually going a quarter of the speed that you are, you probably will), then wait until the traffic has cleared before you try and pass me. Don't try and slide by in the same lane that I'm in. Wait until it clears and pull out into the next lane and pass. Just like you would pass any car on the road. You certainly wouldn't try to pass a car without using the the next lane. So why would you try and pass me like that.

There's something that I've been needing to say to automobile drivers out there. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I sometimes hold you up out on the road. I know it doesn't look like it, but I actually am going as fast as I can. I'm sorry that you aren't able to get to where your going, as fast as you would have if me and my bicycle weren't out on the road. If I hadn't been out there, you probably would have gotten to your destination 20, maybe even 30 seconds quicker than if you hadn't been held up by me. Quite frankly, I don't think there's a jury in the world who would hold it against you for just running me over. At least not a jury in Dallas, TX. Shoot, I don't even think you can get a ticket for that any more in Dallas.

To you car drivers out there, the next time you get held up behind a bicyclist, really think about how long you are actually being delayed. If you really stop and notice, I bet it's not more than 30 seconds, max. Unless you're carrying an igloo cooler, and your late for a transplant operation, where could you possibly be going, that that 30 seconds is going to make any difference in your, or anyone else's life.

One day I was riding my bike on a two lane road, (two lanes in both directions). A car came by with a older gentleman, and I use the term "gentleman" liberally, and his wife. As he went by, a LOT closer than he needed to, he shouted out the window "Get out of the f**king road". As he went on by, I noticed that he had a bumper sticker on his car that said "My son proudly serves in Iraq". As I continued my ride, I wondered if he ever considered that I'm some one's son too. I wondered if he considered that I'm some one's husband. And most important of all, I wondered, as he was moving his car over so he could get as close to me as he possibly could, if he considered the fact that I might be some one's father. And while it would be a tragedy if something happened to his son in Iraq, it would be equally tragic if something happened to me, and my wife had to raise our son without me. It would be just as tragic if my son had to grow up without his father.

I think that's the real reason that some people in cars treat bicyclist the way they do. They don't think of the bicyclist as a person. They think of him as an object, an extension of the bicycle. They don't think about the fact that if they get too close to me and cause an accident, they aren't just effecting me. They're effecting my wife, and my son, and my parents, and my sisters.

So to all of you automobile drivers out there, who get such a laugh out of buzzing a bicyclist, or yelling something at a bicyclist, or even throwing something at the bicyclist, before you do it, stop for a second and try to imagine the person on that bicycle. Try and imagine the human turning those pedals. Better yet, try and imagine how you would feel if it was your father on that bike. Makes it a little harder to throw that coke bottle at him, doesn't it?

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred