Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giddy with anticipation

Now that we're through the Tour of California, a quiver of anticipation is beginning to grow in me. I've been in the spin studio for 4 month's now, and as nice a place as it is, I pretty much have all the posters memorized. I really need to get outside and ride my bike.

Aside from the fact that I'm starting to go stir crazy from spinning in place for 4 months, I know it's getting close to the beginning of the outdoor season, because preparations for Tour Dallas are beginning to ramp up. For those of you who aren't from the D/FW area, and aren't familiar with Tour Dallas, allow me to elaborate.

For the last 5 years, (at least I think it's been five years, maybe six), Bikin Mike has produced the Tour Dallas, an "Urban Cycling Adventure" as he likes to call it. I'm sure there are many New York City cyclist who would laugh at this being called an "urban" bike ride, but for around here, it's an urban ride. The ride starts at the Dallas City Hall Plaza, makes it's way through downtown Dallas, out around White Rock Lake, and back to City Hall. If you're interested, you can get the details at the Tour Dallas website.

There are several striking differences between Tour Dallas and your typical bike ride. First, the longest route is only 30 miles. For a lot of us, 30 miles is a warm up ride. (Notice how I subtly include myself in that group.) So this is not a ride where you're going to give you're endurance a real test. To make up for the shortness of the ride, many of the more hardcore cyclist try to make up for it with speed. Which brings me to my next difference.

This is not a ride where you're going to be able to attempt a personal best time for 30 miles, for a couple of reasons. Given that we're on urban Dallas streets, there are lots of twist and turns. Definitely not the kind of course where you're going to be able to go flat out for miles at a time. The other reason this ride doesn't lend itself to individual time trials, is the police presence. As route coordinator, I usually ride in the lead police car, leading the riders out on the route. The officer that I have ridden with the last several years, usually keeps his speed to about 17 or 18 mph, and he's not shy at all about getting on his P/A, and making sure the riders stay behind his car.

On a personal note, let me just say this; riding in the front seat of a police car is a much more enjoyable experience than riding in the back seat. The front seat hardly smells like urine and vomit at all. It's also a lot more fun in a police car when the handcuffs aren't cutting off your circulation, and the pepper spray isn't causing your eyes to burn. But that's a story for another post.

Next. How do I politely say this? The road surfaces within the Dallas city limits aren't quite up to the same high standard that you're probably used to riding on. OK, truth be told, the roads suck. Now I'm sure that they don't suck any more than the roads in any other major city, but the fact remains, compared to the roads that we're used to riding through the countryside on, they do suck. After last year's ride, a cyclist came up to me, obviously upset, to complain about the roads. This makes perfect sense, since as the route coordinator, all of the potholes on Dallas city streets are my fault. He actually said that we should mark every pothole on the route with paint. Once I stopped laughing in his face, I explained to him that there isn't enough paint in Dallas County to mark every pothole on the route. Then, letting the smart @ss in me get the best of me, I asked him if his Mommy goes out and marks the potholes for him when he goes out on training ride. He didn't see the humor in that, but I though it was pretty funny.

So, given all of the issues and problems that I've so carefully documented here, (Mike, you can thank me later), why would I, the hard core hammer-head cyclist, want to ride in Tour Dallas. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that you would. And I think that's probably OK with Bikin Mike.

For you see, Tour Dallas was not designed for the hard core hammer- head cyclist like yourself. This ride was designed for the casual cyclist. The family of cyclist. This is a ride designed to get those people who are new to cycling to come out and ride. Every year, I have cyclist come up to me after the ride, and tell me how they were always too intimidated to come out and ride in a rally. But that they had an absolutely fantastic time at Tour Dallas. Those are the exact type of cyclist that this ride was designed to attract.

So am I saying that you, the hard core hammer-head cyclist is not wanted or welcome at Tour Dallas. No, of course your welcome! Provided that you can behave yourself. Provided that you can accept the ride for what it is. Or better yet, what it is not. It is not a race. For all of the reasons that I outlined above, be prepared to ride at a nice casual pace. You are not going to be able to fly around this course at 25 mph. You are also not going to find the nice, glassy smooth asphalt that you'll find out in the countryside. You're going to have to pay attention to the road. Your also going to have to pay attention to the other cyclist. Last year, we had over 3,000 cyclist on the ride. You won't be able to just put you're head down and pedal. As disappointing as it might be, you're going to actually have to pay attention to the others around you. You might even have to be considerate of the other riders and motorist. It's a bummer I know, but deal with it.

If you, the hard core hammer-head cyclist can ride under these unforgiving conditions, then please, by all means, come out and join us on April 4th, in downtown Dallas. If you can't, no offense, but it would probably be just as well if you stayed away.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

P.S...I have mentioned before that I am the Route Coordinator for Tour Dallas, (Route Coordinator is capitalised to add importance). Over the next few weeks, I'm going to take all of you through the process of getting a route ready for a bike ride. Hopefully, when you attend your next bike rally, you'll have a new appreciation for what goes into producing a bike ride. And maybe, just maybe, you'll get off my back. It's not my fault you got lost. NFF.

Monday, February 23, 2009

An exercise in a forgone conclusion

I must admit that despite my previous statements that most of the cycling you see on TV is somewhat boring, the last few stages of this year's Tour of California were a little more exciting than I thought they would be. But just a little more. Wrapping up my series, what follows are my observations and musings of Stages 6, 7, and 8 of the ToC. Brace yourself.

Stage 6, The Race of Truth
* Both Tyler Hamilton and Fast Freddie Rodriguez have mechanical issues with their bikes during the time trail. Rock Racing immediately issues their "Our TT bikes suck, not like those kick @ss TT bikes that Astana rides" Special Edition team kits. Now available for the low, low cost of your first born child, or your immortal soul.

* Speaking of technical issues, did there seem to be a lot of technical problems with the Tour itself? It seemed that the team directors were constantly gripping about the inaccurate info on race radio. And this might have slipped by a lot of you, but they seemed to have problems getting pictures of the actual racing if it even thought about raining. My favorite moment came during the time trial when they posted a split time for Michael Rodgers, a full 2 minutes before he reached the split.

* If you're an opposing cyclist, and you're whole strategy depends on making up time on Levi in a time trial, you might as well pack up and head home. It ain't gonna happen.

Stage 7
* While it's nice to see another mountain, with a 9 mile descent and 5 finishing circuits in town before the finish, it would appear that we're in store for another bunch sprint. Would it just kill them to finish on a mountain top just once? Heaven help us if they held a mountain stage that might actually impact the overall GC ranking.

* Is there anybody who knows even just a little about pro cycling, who doesn't think that George Hincapie is a really nice guy. Love his cycling clothing line too. Team Bikin' jerseys are Hincapie. Plus, he married a hot podium girl. So he's got that going for him.....which is nice. (That would be a line from the funniest movie of all time, Caddyshack.)

* There seems to be a greater variety of knuckleheads dressed up in costumes on the side of the road at the Tour of California, than you traditionally see in a European stage race. Once again, USA #1. No offense to my European readers. (Don't laugh, I actually do have European readers.)

* It would seem that George Hincapie was awarded the Most Courageous Rider jersey by the media, after yesterday's time trail. How exactly does one determine a "Most Courageous" rider after a time trail? Did the media have some sort of inside info that George was the only one really trying yesterday? Did he have to fight off some road bandits during the stage?

* Versus just did a story about Team Type 1, the team made up of diabetic riders. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the team's founders, and riders, Phil Southerland, at a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation bike ride in Whitefish Montana a couple of years ago. He's a very impressive young man. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, I strongly recommend you do. I'm not diabetic, but despite my longstanding policy against buying and wearing pro jerseys, I might just have to suspend that rule and buy a Team Type 1 jersey.

* Well, just to show how much I know about pro cycling, apparently hell froze over today, because the breakaway survived to the end. (Just so you know, I could have erased that first observation from my Stage 7 comments before I published this post, and no one would have been the wiser. I should get some points for publishing my own dumb assertions.)

Stage 8
* I wonder if Phil and Paul find Craig as annoying as the rest of us do. They just have to.

* Apparently, I'm losing my mind. I could have sworn I just heard Craig Hummer say that he rode the climb up Palomar Mtn a month ago. I'm afraid I'm going to have to call B*ll Sh*t on that. Assuming that Craig Hummer could complete that climb, there's still snow on the ground now. How much snow must there have been on that mountain a month ago?

* Bob Roll interviews Lance again. Lance seems very relaxed these days. I would seem that cutting Cheryl Crow loose has lifted the weight of the world off of his shoulders.

* Just saw a couple of streakers on the side of the road. This, among so many other things, reconfirms the widely held belief that California is truly the land of fruits and nuts.

* Oscar "Baby Face" Selvilla was on a solo breakaway today. He might have survived if race officials hadn't made him stop, to see if he had a note from his mother excusing him from school today.

* I particularly enjoy watching fat guys, who normally couldn't run across my living room without having a heart attack, attempt to run along side the riders. These guys are cardiac incidents looking for a place to happen.

* Another certified nut sighting on the side of the road. This guy was wearing a pair of black bikini briefs, a black mask, a red cape, and a heart rate monitor. Why was he wearing a heart rate monitor??? I'm guessing that he's trying to pace himself for a long day of looking like an idiot. Don't want to expend all of your energy making an idiot of yourself in the morning, and not have any energy left to make an idiot of yourself that afternoon.

* Rock Racing finished 7th out of 16 teams in the Overall Team classification. They immediately issued their "We suck less than over half the teams in the Tour of California" Special Edition team kit. Price to you, one pound of uncut diamonds.

One final thought
Coming into this year's ToC, I didn't think much of Levi Leipheimer. Yes, I know he had won the two previous ToC's, but to me, he did it in a very boring, unglamorous manner. It seemed that he was content to just get whatever time he could out of the other GC contenders in the prologue and the time trial, then just hold on to their wheels during the regular stages. I don't ever remember seeing him go on the attack.

But after this year's Tour, I have a new found respect for Levi. Not only did he gain his time in the TT's as usual, but he actually went on the attack in stage 2. He actually rode off the front, and dared anyone to go with him. None of the GC contenders could. That's the mark of a true champion. Not only winning, but taking it to your opponents.

Given that Team Astana is probably going to ride for Lance during the Giro, and there probably going to ride for Alberto in the TdF, I for one, would love to see the entire team get behind Levi for the Vuelta. I'd love to see Levi on the top step of the podium at the end of a Grand Tour. Call me a bandwagon jumper if you must, but I'm officially a Levi fan now.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Friday, February 20, 2009

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Continuing my series of post with my observations from the Tour of California, today we look at Stages 4 & 5. These two stages represent the best, and worst, in watching cycling on TV. We finally get to some real mountains, and we have to sit through a flat, boring stage.

Stage 4
* Holy Cow! It stopped raining!

* What is the stuff lining the sides of the roads that Phil and Paul keep referring to? Snow? Being from Texas, I'm somewhat unfamiliar with it.

* Phil just referred to the Rabobank team as "The Men of Orange". Oooooh, scary. That's a nickname sure to strike fear in the hearts of the other teams.

* Looking at the team kits, I have to say that when I first saw the new Team Highroad colors, I wasn't too impressed with them. But the longer I see them on the road, the more I like them. I think the fake 6-pack abs are a bit over the top, but other than that, there one of the best kits on the tour. Team BMC has to have the most boring kit ever. Black and white, with black and white lettering. They must have spent all of 10 minutes designing those.

* There's just something extremely odd about a bald cyclist. See Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner as examples. It's very disturbing to look through the vents on their helmets, and see a bald head staring back at you. I could be looking into the future, given my own follicle challenges. But when it happens to me, it will no longer be weird. It'll be hip, and if I say so myself, a tad dashing.

* Floyd Landis gave another interview. Surprisingly, he was downright pleasant. Almost made me feel sorry for him. I don't know if he doped or not. All things being equal, he probably did. But think about this, what if he didn't do it? Given that he spent every cent he had trying to clear his name, and all of the endorsements that he didn't get, how can you begin to measure what he has lost.

* Lance's TT bike has been recovered by police. On a completely unrelated topic, the time trial bike that I had for sale is now off the market. They can't prove anything.

* Major crash today. Apparently, having forgotten how to ride on dry pavement, Floyd Landis, Kim Kirchen, and Oscar Friere got tangled up. Their team directors have all filed official protest, saying that their teams may not be able to continue if these sunny and dry conditions continue.

* Is there anything cooler than dressing up in a cheap, idiotic costume, and running along the side of the road when the cyclist come by. I think not.

* That comedian that Versus has running around, Rasika Mathur, just sucks the lifeforce out of me. Every time she's on the TV, it takes 3 months off my life. She needs to go away, soon.

* Does anyone else find that "Flo" woman from the Progressive Insurance commercial, strangely hot. Me neither, I was just checking.

Stage 5
* Why is it that the cameras, without fail, never seem to miss the riders taking a "nature break" on the side of the road. It's always funny when they suddenly realize what they were broadcasting, and they quickly cut away to another shot.

* With today being a boring flat stage, I think Paul nodded of at one point. Craig Hummer asked him to explain, for the 10th time in 5 stages, what the cyclist in a paceline were doing. Paul's response was "They're just doing a bit of Bid & Bit.....", and just sort of trailed off. He either actually nodded off, or that explanation actually makes sense in Europe. In America, it seems to be utter gibberish.

* Bob Roll gets his head shaved on TV today! Excellent. We can all give The Fat Cyclist credit for this one. If you've been following his coverage of the ToC, and if you haven't, I strongly recommend that you do, you are no doubt aware that Fatty got Bob to agree to get his head shaved if they could raise $5,000.00 in donations to LiveStrong before the end of the Tour. Not only did they get it done before the end of the Tour, they got it done in 24 hours.

* To commemorate Bob shaving his head, Rock Racing has issued their "Bob Roll Rocks" Special Edition team kit. Cost to you, the Gross National Product of an average size Central American country.

* With about 40 miles to go in the stage, Phil just asked "Whats going on in the breakaway?" Given the excitement level of today's stage, "not a d*mn thing" would be the correct answer.

* Zzzzzzzzzz.....


*Zzzzzzzzzzz....Huh? What? Sorry about that, I nodded of there for a few minutes, (really, I did). Well, lets see what I missed. Interesting, with 30 miles to go, a group of 6 is off the front by about 4 minutes. Gee, I wonder if they'll make it?

* Bob Roll seems to be getting better at doing these interviews. He should have shaved his head days ago.

* Mark Cavendish is a sprinting God! In the future, I would recommend that he crosses the finish line before he starts celebrating.

Tomorrow, the Solvang time trail, and the race of truth. Should be fun.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Horror continues...

More inane observations from watching the Tour of California.

Stage 2
* What a shock, it's still raining.

* The peloton just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. Rock Racing has issued their "Golden Gate Bridge Rocks" Special Edition kit. Yours for the low low cost of $85,000.00.

* Not only can you attract women with Enzyte, but apparently you can impress a bunch of old men at your local barber shop.

* OUCH is a really bad name for a cycling team. They might as well call in Broken Collar Bone Cycling.

* Someone may want to let the Cervelo Test Team know that there's a bicycle race going on here. Does "Test Team" mean that this is the team their trying out, to see if they want to sponsor a real team.

* I thought that only women hyphenated their last name. Ben Jacques-Maines??? I can only guess that he wanted to keep his maiden name.

* It just seems strange to see baby-faced Oscar Sevilla wearing the Rock Racing skull. Kind of like seeing the Johnas Brothers wearing Hell's Angel's jackets. I hear Oscar might have to start shaving any day now.

* Why do the motorcycle camera men, only seem to clean their lens when their camera is actually on.

* Lance has refused to take a musset bag in the feeding zones. Fearing a second attack, similar to the one he suffered in his last Tour de France, he has instead order delivery from Pizza Hut.

* Is it just me, or do a lot of these riders seem to be foreigners. Aren't there any Americans who want to race their bikes?

* As far as I'm concerned, there is no greater feat of coordination and dexterity, than watching a pro cyclist put on a cycling vest, or "cape" as Phil and Paul call them, while pedaling down the road. Most of us would either crash or strangle ourselves if we tried to do that.

* Levi attacks off the front of the peloton, and takes the overall race lead. Undeterred by the fact that he rides for Astana, Rock Racing issues their "Levi Rocks" Special Edition kit. Cost is 1 lbs of flesh, or all the equity that you have in your home, whichever is worth more.

* Towards the end of the stage, the sun actually comes out and shines on the race. The local fans, unfamiliar with this phenomenon, and fearing that it is a sign of the Apocalypse, immediately abandon their positions on the route and flee to their local churches. A state of emergency has been declared in California.

Stage 3
* Annnd, still raining.

* I never thought I'd say this, but Craig Hummer makes me miss Al Trautwig.

* While I'm sure that they cost several hundred dollars, Mark Cavendish's cycling glasses are the dorkiest things I've every seen. I work in the IT department at Southwest Airlines, surrounded by computer nerds wearing those exact same frames.

* It appears that a group of cyclist have come up with a new strategy for stage racing. This cutting edge strategy involves attacking right from the start of the stage, riding out front for the better part of 100 miles, and then getting caught within sight of the finish line. Team director's are scrambling to come up with a way to combat this never before seem style of racing.

* Levi crashes! While it first appeared that this was a failed attempt by Lance to kill Levi, after watching the reply, it now appears that Levi tried to kill himself. I theorize that Levi sucummed to the pressure of wearing the yellow jersey.

* I notice that Lance is still wearing his helmet visor. Given the weather, a scuba mask might be more helpful.

* Bob Roll should really consider thinking about the questions that he is going to ask during an interview ahead of time, instead of his present strategy of just coming up with something on the fly.

* Maybe it's my Junior High sense of humor, but I start giggling every time Phil says that the riders up front are "breaking the wind" for the riders behind them. (snicker, snicker).

* Tom Boonen has very odd looking ears. It appears that he was trying to turn them inside-out, and they got stuck.

* Paul Sherwin had the neatest way of describing Levi's crash, a crash that Levi just jumped up from and got back on his bike. He described it as "a crash without too much gravity". Very cool.

* This Enzyte really appears to be amazing stuff. Aside from the "male enhancement" benefits that it promises, if you take this stuff, apparently you'll also be able to:
Drive a race car.
Hit a golf ball 400 yards.
Compel women you barely know at the office Christmas party, to sit on your lap for an uncomfortably long time.

* Fransico Mancebo leads the KOM competition. Rock Racing issues their "Fransico Rocks" Special Edition kit. Yours free with the purchase of 1 pair of Rock Republic jeans, or trade for 1 solid gold bar, whichever is more.

* Cervelo Test Team must have been reading this blog. They finally made their way up to the front of the peleton. Just in time. They almost missed the entire race.

I'm off to watch stage 4. Finally, real mountains!

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh, the horror

Hallelujah, there's finally cycling to watch on TV. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't love the 19 hours a day of bull riding coverage that Versus seems to carry, it's just that a change would be nice every once in a while. So today, I'd like to throw out a few observations that I made whilst watching coverage of the Tour of California.

* A few more commercials would really be nice.

* I'm really glad that I tuned in early to catch the 2 full hours of "coverage". If you watched the preview show last weekend, you pretty much saw the first hour of the "live coverage".

* After an hour and fifteen minutes of "coverage", we actually get to see some cycling.

* My excitement over getting to watch actual cycling, is quickly tempered by the fact that it's a time trial. When I posted a few weeks ago that there was nothing more boring than watching a flat stage of a pro cycling race, I might have been mistaken. I had forgotten how mind numbingly boring an individual time trial can be to watch.

* I'm guessing that while Lance was spending the last couple of years training and riding is bike, Floyd Landis was busy spending every penny he had every earned trying to appeal his suspension and not riding his bike. Ivan Basso must have just spent the last couple of years eating pasta. While Lance came in at 10th, Basso and Landis came in 66th & 90th respectively.

* The more I watch Levi Leipheimer race, the more I like him. Did anyone else notice him in the start house? He was so geek'd up for the prologue, his eyes were about the size of silver dollars, and his arms were literally trembling.

* If you didn't stick around to watch the awards presentation, it seemed to be complete chaos up there on the podium. Govanator Schwarzenegger seemed to be just wandering around aimlessly, with no one telling him were to go or what to do. Finally, a podium girl grabbed him by the arm, and told him were to stand. Then, when the prologue winner Fabian Cancellara came out, he first went right up on the podium. The same podium girl, who had just finished manhandling the Governor, told him to get the hell down from there and stand in front of the podium. They then had some guy come out to put the yellow jersey on Cancellara, and he acted like his mother has been dressing him for the last 50 years. He seemed completely befuddled by how a zipper is supposed to work. Cancellara wound up putting the jersey on himself. I think Arnold was ready to declare the podium a state disaster area, and apply for federal funds.

Stage 1
* Apparently, Fabian Cancellara was so put off by having to put on his own yellow jersey the day before, that he decided to take his toys and go home.

* Can someone please explain to me how California got the reputation for having great weather. Apparently, it's 78 degrees and blue skies every day of the year, except for the week that they decide to have the ToC. The only thing missing was a plague of locust. And another thing. We can get pictures of Jupiter, millions of miles away in space, but we can't get pictures from California if it's raining. Ain't technology great.

* As much as I enjoy watching Bob Roll in the studio, he's absolutely a train wreck out with a microphone doing actual interviews. It's almost as if English wasn't his mother tongue. But as painful as Roll has been, he's still easier to listen too than trying to listen to Frankie Andreu ramble on with his coverage on the Tour of California live website. I though my ears were going to start bleeding today.

* I noticed during the interview that they did with Lance that he was wearing a visor on his helmet. Even the great Lance Armstrong can't pull this look off without looking like he just got off of the "short bus". Just say no to visors.

* That reminds me. I recently came into possession of some very nice Trek bicycles, complete with the Astana paint scheme, that I'm looking to sell. One is actually a tricked out time trial bike. Any interested parties should post a comment on this blog.

* Is it just me, or do those Enzyte commercials make anyone else uncomfortable. Apparently, by taking these "natural male enhancements", you'll be able to attract women by the truck load. But, based on the women they have in the commercials, no one that you'd actually want to sleep with.

* Landis speaks!!! Floyd Landis actually gave an interview. Unfortunately, he looked as uncomfortable answering the questions, as Bob Roll looked asking them.

* Just like last night, after watching an hour of commercials, we finally get live pictures of today's race. After watching Mancebo ride off the front by himself for 45 seconds, of course, we have to break for some more commercials.

* HD TV is the greatest invention of our time. I never noticed how many sun spots Phil Liggett has on his head.

* I almost want to tune into the bull riding that Versus has coming on after the stage is over, just to see if they pack in as many commercial there as they do into cycling. Almost.

* Fransesco Mancebo wins the stage. I think we can all look forward to a new kit from Rock Racing to commemorate the occasion. I'll need to check and see if I have $2500.00 laying around for a new jersey and bib.

As I write this, stage 2 is being recorded via the miracle of Tivo. You can look forward to more inane remarks like these in post to come.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When all else fails, lower the standard.....Part 2

As promised, today I'd like to have all of you take a little test on cycling and the rules of the road. As I stated in my previous post, I kind of felt like I had been a little rough on cyclist, just assuming that they were choosing to ride illegally. It could be that they just don't know that they are breaking the law. (Yea, right.) So the test below is not only designed to see how much cyclist do or do not know about the law and riding on the open roads, but it is designed to educate as well. Not only does this blog hopefully entertain, but it also provides a public service. (I just keep giving and giving.)

The following test is based on the laws here in Texas, but for the most part, they should apply to were ever you live as well.

Legal Disclaimer
I am not a lawyer. The following should not be taken as legal advise. If you get stopped by a police officer while out on your bike, I can almost guarantee that the excuse of "Nearly Famous Fred said it was OK", is going to be extremely legally ineffective. Frankly, I'd appreciate it if you kept my name out of it all together. I would strongly encourage you to follow this link, and read the laws as they are written.

Here we go.

1) How close must a bicyclist ride to the curb?
a) As close as humanly possible.
b) As close as the motorist tell them to. Normally that would mean riding in the ditch.
c) as close as is practical.

The correct answer is c), as close as is practical. Now "as practical" leaves a lot up for interpretation. Typically, if you ride in right tire path that has been worn into the pavement by the cars, you're probably OK.

2) True or False? Bicyclist are required to ride single file.
That would be false. You can ride two abreast. On any road. At any time. To a point. Before you get all excited, keep reading.

3) When is it legal to ride more than two abreast?
a) when I feel like it
b) when it's convenient for me to do so

c) always
d) never
e) none of the above
f) all of the above
g) some of the above
h) most of the above
i) almost most of the above
j) entirely nearly none of the above, either

The correct answer is: d) never. On an open road, it is never legal to ride more than 2 abreast. Ever. While it may be a lot of fun to go out and ride in a fake Tour de France peloton, and Lord knows that nobody appreciates more than I do how much it impresses the girls, understand that when you do so, you are breaking the law.

4) You are on a single lane road, (meaning only one lane in each direction), in a double pace line with a few of your cycling friends, when several cars come up behind you. What do you do?
a) pretend you don't see them
b) absolutely nothing. Sucks being a motorist today, doesn't it?
c) Start throwing your water bottles at them
d) single up, move to the right, and allow the cars to pass

If you answered anything but d), you should probably find another hobby. The law requires that you single up, move to the right, and allow the motorist to pass. Requires would be the critical word in that sentence.

5) You are on a multi lane road, (meaning more than one lane in each direction), in a double pace line with a few of your cycling friends, when several cars come up behind you. What do you do?
a) pretend you don't see them
b) absolutely nothing. Sucks being a motorist today, doesn't it?
c) Start throwing your water bottles at them
d) single up, move to the right, and allow the cars to pass

In this case, a), b), or d), would legally be correct. If you are on a multi lane road, the law says that bicycles are entitled to a lane, meaning that you do not have to single up and allow cars to pass. The law simply states that cyclist may "not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway". I cannot see any circumstance where c) would ever be a good idea, much less legal.

6) When can you legally run a stop sign?
a) when you're absolutely sure that you can get away with it
b) last night's Mexican food has staged an open revolt in your lower intestinal track and you're five miles from the nearest convenience store. (I have personal experienced with this one. Actually, it was Korean food, but you get the idea)

c) always
d) never

Once again, the correct answer is: d) never. Yes, I know that it is a complete bummer to actually have to come to a stop when there is obviously no traffic coming. But guess what, unless you come to a complete stop, you are breaking the law.

So, how did you do? If you got 6 out of 6, then you probably are not one of the cyclist I was talking about in Wednesday's post. If you got 6 out of 6, and you are one of the cyclist that I was talking about on Wednesday, then shame on you. You're going to screw it up for all of us if you don't change your ways.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

If anyone needs me tomorrow, here's my agenda for the day. All times are CST:

6:30am - Out of bed and off to spin class
8:00am - Bikin' Mike's spin studio for spin class
9:30am - 2nd spin class at Bikin' Mike's
11:00am - home and shower
11:30am to 4:00pm - a bunch of boring stuff that you're really not interested in
4:00pm to 6:00pm - Firmly planted in The Big Leather Man Chair, watching Tour of California coverage on Versus. Yea!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When all else fails, lower the standard.....Part 1

Regarding how bicyclist ride on the road, I think I have made my stance very clear. I am one of the minority of cyclist who feel that, by the way they ride, most cyclist bring a majority of their problems on themselves. They talk about how dangerous motorist are out on the road, and how motorist just don't want cyclist out on the same roads that they drive on. Well, I've seen how a lot of these cyclist ride out on the road, and quite frankly, I don't want them riding on the same roads I ride on either.

So, coming from the state of mind that certain cyclist are making us all look bad, and are, in fact, either stupid, crazy, or both, I was quite disturbed by a recent column that I read by Bob Mionske. For those of you who aren't familiar with Bob's work, Bob wrote a bicycling and the law column for He is in fact, a lawyer and a cyclist. He recently gave up that column to pursue other interest.

A quick aside here. As we are speaking of the law and lawyers, I'd like to take a moment to pass along my two favorite lawyer jokes.

Joke #1 - What do you do if you're trapped in a room with Adolph Hitler, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and a lawyer, you have a gun, but only two bullets? Answer, you shoot the lawyer twice.

Joke #2 - Did you hear that medical researchers are going to stop performing experiments on rats, and instead are going to start using lawyers? Turns out, there are just some things that a rat won't do.

Anyway, the article, (click here to read the article), said that a law has been proposed in Oregon that would allow cyclist to treat stop signs as yield signs. Basically, cyclist in Oregon would no longer be required to stop at stops signs, unless they needed to do so to yield the right of way to an approaching vehicle.

Apparently, there's already a law on the books in Idaho that allows for this. The Idaho law even goes one step further. In addition to the "red as yield" provision of the law that has been proposed in Oregon, Idaho also allows
for “red as stop,” meaning that cyclists may treat red lights as stop signs. A cyclist in Idaho only has to stop for the red light, then they can go. They do not have to wait for the light to turn green.

I'm about to give my unabashed opinion of this law. To make it easier for my readers to tell when I am up on my soap box, or when I am just complaining, look for the following symbol:

Whenever you see this symbol, you can rest assured that I'm no longer just complaining, I'm now preaching. Can't help it, it's the Texan in me coming out.

I see some basic problems with these laws. Both in Oregon and Idaho.

First an foremost, it gives cyclist a different set of rules to follow than the motorist on the road are required to follow. Do the lawmakers in Oregon really think that this is going to make the motorist there feel any better about cyclist? When the motorist see the cyclist blowing through stop signs, it will only lead to resentment. I thought the whole idea was to share the road. One road, one set of rules.

Secondly, the lawmakers seem to be of the mind that if this law is passed, all of these cyclist who have been riding illegally, will all of a sudden become law abiding citizens. Does anyone actually believes that? The law in Oregon currently says that cyclist, like all motorist, have to stop at stops signs. A certain percentage of cyclist ignore that law, and blow through the stop signs. So if this law is passed, I guess the thinking is that these cyclist, who were perfectly OK with breaking the law before, will now start obeying the law. I think we all know that if these cyclist are no longer required to stop at the sign, they'll fly though it without even touching their brakes.

Laws like these are the equivalent of legislative "give up". Cyclist seem hell bent on riding illegally. It would seem that lawmakers, instead of making cyclist obey the law, have decided that it's just easier to make the illegal behavior of cyclist, legal.

I can't see where lowering the standard of acceptable behavior is ever a good idea.

In reading back over this post, I realized that I might have been a little harsh on cyclist. I just assumed that the cyclist I'm talking about here are arrogant, and just don't want to obey the law. When in fact, they might just be stupid, unaware that they are even breaking the law. In part 2 of this post, I'm going to issue a little test. I want to see just how much you know about the law and cycling, and how much you know about your responsibilities on the road. So hit those books.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, February 9, 2009

You're all just jealous

In the "new super power" post that I wrote last week, I mentioned that one of the super powers that I would like to have, would be to be a fashion trend setter. To be that person who sets the standard for what others want to wear, is something that I think would be extremely cool. Those who know me may find this unusual, in that I am a person who has never been particularly interested in being on the fashion leading edge.

That lack of interest is reflected daily in what I wear to work. Working for Southwest Airlines as I do, we have an extreeemely casual dress code, even in our headquarters building were I work. During the warm months of the year, I wear a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops to work every day. During the cool months, I wear a t-shirt, blue jeans, and Skeechers to work everyday. Aside from picking a t-shirt to wear on a given day, I typically don't invest hours putting together an outfit in the morning.

So, it's not that I want to wear anything different than what I do now, I just think everyone else should admire what I'm already wearing, and want to dress just like me. However,
recent events have led me to believe that this goal, while admirable, may be just out of my reach.

During this time of the year, on Saturday mornings, I can be found getting up early and going to a 8:00am spin class at Bikin Mike's Spin Studio. As a spin class is not the sort of event that I feel a great need to get all dressed up for, I usually roll out of bed, put on a pair of cycling bib shorts and a t-shirt. As what little hair I have remaining is completely out of control
this time of the morning, a hat is usually selected as well. In the past, my Skeechers or flip-flops are usually the last to go on. At 6:30am on a Saturday morning, I don't care what I look like. As I roll into spin class, that attitude shows.

Regarding footwear, I recently purchased my first pair of Crocs. For those who don't know what Crocs are, first of all crawl out from under whatever rock you've been hiding under. Crocs are basically a molded, soft plastic, slipper. They are extremely comfortable, and these days, extremely popular. As I were to find out, they're extremely popular everywhere but Bikin' Mike's Spin Studio.

For the past two Saturdays, I have been the subject of teasing and ridicule in the spin studio that would have brought a lesser man to tears, simply for wearing my very comfortable, and very fashionable Crocs. Below is a picture of my new red Crocs:

I included the tape measure in the photograph to give you a sense of the scale of these shoes. That's exactly twelve inches of measuring tape in the picture. At 6'3", 190 lbs, I am a big guy. Consequently, I wear a size 12 shoe. Not being completely blind to fashion coordination, I chose red to go with the black and red jerseys worn by Team Bikin.

Below is just a small sampling of the comments I heard at this past Saturday's spin class:

"When did the Circus get to town?"

"Wear did you park your little car, and were are the 14 friends that rode with you?"

"How often do you have to replace the batteries in those?"

"Was Trish with you when you bought those?"

Even Bikin Mike chimed in with his comment, "This is a serious spin class. No clowning around!"

I probably would have had to put up with a little less cr@p, if I had just worn swim fins to class.

To be completely honest, the entire outfit that I wore two Saturday's ago, probably didn't do anything to lessen the huge amount of ridicule that I was forced to endure.


When she saw this outfit, my own wife offered up the comment, "What insane asylum did you wander off from?"

Now keep in mind, I'm not going to a wedding dressed like this. Personally, I think this is just a magnificent coordination. You of course have the striking red of the Crocs, set off by the contrast of the burnt orange University of Texas Longhorn sleep pants. You then throw in the blue and gray polyester hoodie. Completing the outfit, is the red knit cap, complete with the striking logo of the greatest soccer team in the history of the world, FC Bayern Munchen. This outfit just screams, "I like what I like, but I really don't know what I'm doing."

So, to those in spin class who felt the need to make fun of this outfit, and my snazzy new Crocs, I say cast not the first stone. This summer, we're all going to be riding outdoors again. Some of those same people are going to be looking for a wheel to draft off of. At 6'3", 190 lbs, I cut a nice hole through the wind. You're all going to sound extremely silly swearing an oath of admiration and loyalty to my red Crocs.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's official. I am a big Doofus.

In keeping with my stated policy of preemptive self deprication, I have a true story that I've been meaning to write about. This story confirms the long held public and personal opinion that I am, indeed, a big Doofus. Please keep in mind that I am willingly telling this story about myself. I only hope that my story can help others.

Last fall, specifically, October 18th, I made the long drive from McKinney to Mineral Wells, TX, for a ride called the Kiwanas Crazy Kicker. I knew this was probably going to be the last outdoor rally of the year for me, before we moved indoors into the spin studio. As all of my cycling friends are bigger Weather Weenies than I am, I made the two hour drive and did the ride, all by myself.

Before I go any further into this, in order to truly appreciate the story, there's a couple of things that you need to understand. This July, I will be celebrating 20 years of happy marriage to Trish. Trish will be celebrating 14 years of happy marriage to me. As far as I'm concerned, 14 out of 20 is not a bad batting average.

To quote an old joke, "the day I got married, I lost all interest in women". That is to say, that Trish has been pretty firm in her "no dating" policy ever since we got married. Frankly, in my opinion, she's been downright unreasonable about it. There's just no talking to her about it. It's just one of those things that we've just agreed to disagree on. So, with Trish's heels firmly dug in on this, I've pretty much let my skills at getting girls to agree to go out with me diminish. Just seemed kind of unnecessary.

Please keep all of this in mind as I continue with my story. It will help explain some of my Doofusness.

The ride starts at 8:00am, and I'm doing the 100k course, again, by myself. I ride into the break point at about mile 40. This would be the 2nd to last break point before the finish. As I'm standing there by myself, eating a cookie and drinking my Gatorade, an attractive lady in her mid 30's ends up standing next to me, and she strikes up a conversation. As a middle aged cycling dork, happily married for the last 20 years, I really don't pay this too much mind. I'm polite, making the usual bike ride conversation. After I finish my cookie, I wish her good luck with the rest of the ride, and I hop back on my bike and head down the road.

Now that right there ought to tell you just how much my girl attracting skills have faded over the years. Twenty years ago, if an attractive woman would have paid any attention to me at all, she would have probably needed to get a restraining order taken out to get me to leave her alone. But here we are, twenty years later, and I don't give her a second thought.

I ride another 12 to 15 miles down the road and I come to the last break point. Again, I'm standing there, minding my own business, eating another cookie or a power bar, and who should ride into the break point a few minutes later, but the same girl who was talking to me at the previous break point. She gets off of her bike, gets herself something to eat, and walks straight over to me.

Now I start to think that there just might be something going on here. Exactly what is going on here, I have no idea. I do recall this sort of flirtatious ritual from somewhere in my past, but as to what I'm supposed to do or say next, I haven't got a clue. We again make the usual bike ride polite small talk.

"Good ride, isn't it?"

"Yea. Lots of hills."



As you can tell, without even trying, I was just sweeping her off her feet. This continues for a few minutes, and I nervously start inching my way towards my bike. All I want to do is get the hell out of there, finish the ride, drive home, and confess the whole tawdry thing to my wife. As I'm just about ready to get back on my bike, with my virtue still intact, she hands me a slip of paper with her phone number on it, and says, "you should call me sometime".

OK, now I know something is up. At this point, I'm nervous and pathetically scared. As I have my cycling gloves on, she can't see my wedding ring, which contains some sort of magical power that normally protects me from these types of situations. Confused and bewildered at this turn of events, I smoothly and suavely blurt out the only thing that comes to mind.

"You mean, like, for a date?"

You really had to be there to understand just how pathetic I looked when I said it. I had this confused look on my face, my head did the Cockier Spaniel tilt, and if I'm not mistaken, for some reason my voice actually cracked when I said it. I truly was the walking, talking, living example of doofusness.

To her credit, instead of just laughing in my face, which would have been a perfectly normal response to my question, she just smiled and said, "Yea, just like for a date." Now, I'm just literally seconds away from a full on panic attack. I'm actually giving serious consideration to just running off into the woods crying. To my credit, I don't.

Somehow, I manage to gather myself, and I calmly explained to her Trish's "no dating" policy. I even manage to sound gracious, telling her that it's not that I don't find her attractive, but if I were to pursue this, the last thing I would ever see would be Trish standing over me asking, "How do you reload this thing?".

She's obviously embarrassed and apologizes. I tell her not to worry about it, jump back on my bike, and finish the last 10 miles of the ride in record time. As promised, I race back to McKinney and confess the whole thing to Trish. She thought it was probably the funniest thing, if not the saddest thing, that she had ever heard.

So doofi of the world, (doofi being the plural of doofus), behold, for I am your leader.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Behold, my new super power...

Sometimes, life surprises you in the most unexpected ways.

As a big time, famous writer of a free Internet cycling blog, I knew there would be certain benefits. The parties with rock stars. The world travel. Hanging out with professional athletes. Dating super models. And don't even get me started on the money. All of these were benefits that I certainly anticipated. But the other day, I discovered a bonus "super power" benefit of writing this blog.

As a writer of a cycling blog, I read a lot of other cycling blogs. When you sign up to write a blog, I believe that you are required to read as many other cycling blogs as you can squeeze into your day.
I actually think it's a rule. So, during my hours and hours of reading other blogs, I have made an amazing discovery.

Apparently, without any sort of formal training or education in writing or literature, I am now qualified, ney obligated, to offer my opinions and critique of the work of other, actual real writers. I say this because I have noticed several other cycling blogs offering book reviews of real books, written by real writers.

This is amazing. I have taken no classes in writing. I have never published any sort of written work. I have never been paid to write a single word. The only thing that even remotely qualifies me to review an actual book, is that I know how to read. That puts me in the same category as approximately 200 million other people on the face of the earth. And yet, by signing up for a free blog site through Blogger, I apparently have been endowed with the super power to legitimately criticize the work of real, published writers. Since I write a free blog, it appears that my opinion now matters. I could sign my cat up for a free blog, have him walk on the keyboard for a few minutes, and his review would be just about as legitimate as mine.

While I don't understand why I now have this power, don't think for a second that I'm not going to take advantage of it. I do read just about every book on cycling that gets published. If you're now telling me that people are going to actually listen to what I have to say about those books, you're darn right I'm going to offer an opinion.

I bet all of those people who spent 4 years and thousands of dollars getting literary degrees, really feel like chumps now.

So while I was contemplating my new super power, and how I might abuse it for my own personal gain, I couldn't help but think about what other super powers I might now have. Here's my wish list:

1) Ninja powers. Besides offering a huge upside for personal gain, I happen to look great in black.

2) The power to be a fashion trend setter. If I have it my way, we'll all be wearing shorts and flip flops to work next week.

3) The ability to speak like the late, great, soul singer, Barry White. I'm not particularly interested in singing like Barry White, just talking like him. Think about it. How many times in a normal day do you get the opportunity to sing. If you just start signing during a normal conversation, people tend to think you're nuts.

4) Really good posture. I've always had really bad posture. But I can't see how I could use this to my advantage. It's kind of hard to get rich, based solely on good posture.

5) X-Ray vision. This goes back to my teenage years. All you men out there know what I'm talking about. Guys never really grow up.

I'm sure there are a lot of other super powers that I could wish for, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind. I'm a man of simple needs.

I'm currently about halfway through a cycling book right now. So you can look forward to a review in the near future.

Now, were do I pickup my mask and cape?

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

Monday, February 2, 2009

I didn't die, which only added to my enjoyment of the ride

Today I'd like to talk about the Super Bowl Sunday Ride that we did yesterday.

As I mentioned in my last post, every year on Super Bowl Sunday, cycling groups from all over the Dallas/Ft Worth area, ride to the area of downtown Dallas called the West End, have lunch, then ride home. For Team Bikin, this was about a 50 mile round trip ride. Now usually, a 50 mile ride isn't a lot to get excited about. But since this was the first time I've ridden outdoors in over 3 months, I was extremely excited about it. Some might say, I was down right giddy about it. Given to my Lutheran heritage and upbringing, I smiled myself downright silly.

For those of you who didn't get the humor in that last line, allow me to explain. If you aren't of Germanic heritage, or of Lutheran upbringing, the German people are typically very restrained, and not prone to outburst of emotion. So you wouldn't be bursting out in laughter. Therefore a big smile would be the most outward show of emotion that you would allow yourself. So when I say, "I smiled myself silly", I'm making fun of the reserved nature of the German people. While making fun of a particular ethnic heritage is somewhat frowned upon, as someone of German heritage, I feel that I get a free pass on this. So, now you get it don't you? When I explain it, it's extremely funny. It does tend to lose something if I have to explain it, but trust me, it's very funny.

As for the ride itself, it went pretty much as expected. As we started out from Plano, it was quite chilly, relatively speaking for Texas. I believe we were in the low 40's at our 9:30am start. For we Texans, that meant having on every piece of winter weather gear we had. We went straight into about a 15 mph headwind the entire trip to downtown Dallas. Traffic levels were quite low, given that it was 9:30am on Sunday morning. That would change on our return trip home.

Lunch was at Landry's downtown. It never ceases to amaze me how oddly people will look at you when you walk into a rather nice restaurant in full winter cycling gear. The way people stopped and gawked, you'd have thought I was from Mars. The looks only got more intense as one by one, the seven of us started stripping off the layers of clothing that we were wearing. There was a palpable excitement in the air as the patrons of the restaurant were trying to gauge just how far this impromptu striptease was going to go. And if I do say so myself, a bit of disappointment, when we all stopped just short of getting arrested.

Given the southerly winds, the ride home should have been much quicker than the the ride downtown. But, as these things always seem to do, the wind died down significantly for the return trip. It wasn't in our face, but I'm sorry, we had earned a much better tailwind than what we got. The other concern for the ride home was the fact that the amount of traffic had basically tripled from the morning ride. So, even though we didn't have nearly the tailwind that we were expecting, the added adrenaline that we had pumping through our veins probably made up for it. Never underestimate the fear of imminent death as a motivating factor.

As for me, I rode much better than I expected. Given my recent illness and brush with death, I was very pleased with my form. (My wife will tell you that I was never really in any danger of dying, but she always minimizes these sort of things. Again, trust me, I was gravely ill). I wasn't in middle of the summer, riding in the Hotter-n-Hell, type of form, but I did alright. I didn't get dropped, and I don't think I had any sort of cardiac incident, so it was a good ride.

You'll want to check back late Wednesday night or Thursday morning for my next post. In that post, I promise to reveal my newly discovered super power.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred