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City Of Lakes Loppet Early Bird Registration Due TODAY!

Here we are in late July and we have two posts two days in a row about the coming XC Ski season. For some, cycling & running are merely necessary training so they can hit the xc ski season fit. Well, I certainly don't fit under that umbrella, as I love all three sports. In any case, it's rare that a day passes where I don't dream of skiing down a perfectly groomed trail! So all of you hard core cyclists and runners will have to forgive us for this double header of ski posts in July - come back tomorrow for a bicycle wheel building extravaganza!

Click on the above image to go to the City of Lakes Loppet Website. Come on back to CyclovaXC.com now, hear?

In any case, it's time to pay up for the City of Lakes Loppet! In fact, today is the deadline for the early bird entry. You can go HERE to take advantage of the early bird discount. Being a veteran of this race as a racer, spectator, and providing neutral waxing service for Toko; I can vouch for the event. It is simply world class! John Munger and his crew have put together the premier urban Nordic event in the Western Hemisphere right here in Minneapolis and all of the details are taken care of!

What other XC Ski event will you see Northwoods looking guys wearing plaid flannel shirts, lovely ladies about to go out to a night club, and THIS GUY?

You can probably tell, but we're excited about our sports: XC Skiing, Cycling, and Running! Come on out, join us, and have fun!

Saturday Last Day for Birkie Early Bird Discount!

Many of you probably know already that Saturday, July 31st is the last day for the Early Bird Birkie discount, however I thought I'd mention it here just in case you needed that one final reminder.

In order to take advantage, just go to www.birkie.com and fill out the form (be advised that there is an additional $5 fee for registering online...although it's worth it). 

Entry fees are one of the big problems of the XC ski season.  In addition to gas costs, hotel costs, restaurant costs, and waxing costs, it's getting to the point where you're looking at a several thousand dollar investment just to do 10 races.  But if you can get the entries in for half-price (with these early bird discounts), you'll find yourself freeing up a lot of cash.  Of course, you run the risk that there will be no snow and the event will be cancelled (and then you'll be out the fee)...but if you think about it, not all that many races are canceled on a yearly basis.  If you take advantage of Early Bird discounts over the course of a 20 year (Birchleggings) skiing career...you'll save a LOT of money.  So REGISTER NOW!

Introducing CyclovaXC Member: Sofia!

Yes, that's my little girl! She was born on Sunday after 18 hours of labor. Zulma and I figure we'll put her on the fast track to represent Peru in two or three Olympics (Cross-Country skiing of course). Maybe we can even sneak in a CyclovaXC logo on her ski suit!

By the way, that labor was something else.  Talk about a good workout!  For all of you CyclovaXC members who are women, if you want to do do something that will really get your stomach muscles burning, I suggest delivering a baby!  Although I have to admit that immediately after the event I was the one who was shot (Zulma went from exhausted to extremely perky to extremely hungry!...I went to the chair and sat down).

So, there she is!  She kept us waiting but it was worth it!

Event Feature: 2010 Salomon Autumn Trail Series

The 2010 Salomon Autumn Trail Series will be back for 2010, bigger and better than ever, while still maintaining the fun/grassroots feeling that is so appealing about this series. This great event is held in the Hyland Park Reserve, in Bloomington, MN.

For 2010, this will be a four event series with races happening every other Wednesday beginning September 1.

The course for this year will be slightly different using the Hill, Lake, and Oak Know Trails in one big clockwise loop - a total of about 5.2k.

A snapshot from a Spring 2010 Thursday night training run in Hyland Park Reserve, near the start of the event start.

While much about this fun series will be unchanged from last year, a few positive changes include:
  • A new start & finish venue in the QBP parking lot, on the south east corner of the park
  • Start times are a bit later, now at 6:30PM
  • More sponsors means more goodies at the events
  • Various shoe donation options will be available, so you can rid your closet of your old running shoes and get shoes on to the feet of someone in need.
There's still got time to get in shape for this fall series, so join us on Thursday nights for our training runs in Hyland Park Reserve and check out the course!

Click HERE for the official event website.

BIKE TECH: Wheel Building Tools

Bicycle wheel building is truly an art. Typically, you have a hub and rim, both of which are as light weight as possible. This rim and hub are then built into a wheel, most commonly by 32 stainless steel spokes. These spokes must all be tensioned to the identical tension (usually about 120 kg worth of tension force).

If any spoke has tension that is off, it will throw the wheel way out of true (create a wobble) and compromise the integrity of the entire wheel. Yes, there is nothing quite like a well built hand built wheel!

Truthfully, wheel building is something likely best left to an experienced bicycle wheel builder, but it is possible for an aspiring home mechanic to build a solid wheel. Afterall, there is nothing quite like going out on a ride on a wheel that you just built with your own hands! Starting out with the right tools is key.

In today's post, we will review the necessary wheel building tools and tomorrow, we will go through the wheel building process step by step.

The most critical tool in any wheel builder's tool kit is a quality truing stand. The Park Tool TS-4 is the industry gold standard.

A good spoke tension gauge is also critical to ensure even and proper spoke tension. The new Park Tool TM-1 is a great tool at a great value.

A wheel dish gauge ensures that your wheel is symmetrical, that the rim is centered between the axle lock nuts and in your bike frame/fork.

Perhaps the most commonly known wheel tool, the Park Tool Spoke Wrench has become an iconic piece amongst cyclists.

Perhaps not as glamorous as other tools, the spoke ruler is still critical for measuring spoke length or anything else that needs to be measured.

The Spoke Nipple Driver by Bicycle Research will save you a ton of time in starting the spoke nipples, during the first part of the wheel building process.

Not exactly a tool, but a critical thing for any home wheel builder to have on hand, Wheelsmith Spoke prep will ensure that spoke tension stays where you set it and that spoke nipples don't unthread.

UCI a Disgrace (Blame THEM for Dirty Cycling)

Every day I turn on my computer and there's some other former ex-mediocre cyclist claiming that he has inside information about "this one time" that he either saw Lance Armstrong do some drugs, or talked about it or whever.  These people never have any RECORDINGS or VIDEOS, yet the stupid media continues to print the stories of these washed-up attention whores, and it's getting a little disgusting.

Look, as I've said before, if Armstrong doped, then I'll be the first to condemn him...but before I condemn him, I want to see some PROOF!

Lost in all this unfounded accusaiton is the INDESPUTABLE FACT that the UCI, the main governing body in cycling, has apparently overseen more than a decade of sport in which it has been PROOVEN that a good number of their athletes were dirty.  In fact, doping has been so prevalent that I, for one, believe it would have been impossible for this cheating to be so wide-spread unless the UCI was involved.

What am I saying in plain words?

I'm saying that the rich assholes in suits who were obviously getting paid huge amounts of money to look the other way...and while they did so they created an atmosphere in which young, impressionable athletes were put under intense pressure to do irrepairable harm to their bodies just to make a living.  Whether it was through incompetence or complicity, UCI officials are GUILTY and I'd like to see them get roased in the media for a change.  I'd like to see their reputations get dragged through the mud like Floyd Landis's, I'd like to see them get swarmed by a hundred reporters accusing them of being cheats every time they walked out of their house like Lance Armstrong.

How did they do such a bad job?

Why were they not able to keep drugs out of cycling?

Read between the lines people.  The doctors that the UCI are competent people, but you have to wonder if they were being told to be incompetent because that's what kept the bribe money flowing in.

Or heck, even if it's not that sinister, isn't it OBVIOUS that the UCI did a terrible job?  I quit watching the Tour briefly when Rasumussen was called home while wearing the yellow jersey.  I mean...UCI officials aren't WEATHER MEN...they can't get away with being wrong every DAY!

Over the past decade or so a doper culture has been cultivated and if you are part of the media and all you're doing is pointing fingers at the hordes of young, impressionable athletes who were trying to make a name for themselves, then you're an absolute failure as a journalist.  Now, obviously, if Armstrong or anyone else eventually turns out to be guilty, he will be tried and convicted as a man.  But let's face it, do 20 year old kids really know how to take Testosterone, EPO, HGH, etc., in a systematically designed way to improve their performance as athletes?

Friends, it takes a frickin' DOCTOR to tell you how to dope right, and then it takes the officials who are supposed to be REGULATING to look the other way.

We need to go after THOSE people!  Quit crucifying the athlete.  Find the rich old millionaire and let's drag HIS or HER name through the mud for a while.

The 9th level of hell is reserved for false councilors.  I'm really sick of the people who are truly responsible for wrongdoing getting away scott free. 

Down with the worthless UCI!  Everybody agrees doping happened.  Why didn't they stop it?

Event Feature: The New Belgium Brewing Urban Assualt Ride

Tis the season where there are a plethora of fun cycling and running events every weekend. While it is easy to become totally fixated on racing, sometimes it's important to just have fun!

It's been really exciting to see The New Belgium Brewery get behind the sport of cycling and actually promoting cycling events. Here in Minneapolis alone, they've sponsored a number of events this summer.

Click on the above screen shot of the event website for the full scoop!

Coming up on August 8, is another such event: The New Belgium Brewing Urban Assault Ride. The goal of the ride is to ride around the city with your buddies, finding checkpoints along the way. When you're done, you'll be treated to "a massive celebration of food and beer". What could be better really?

Check it out and enjoy!

Doping: Tainting Our Sports!

Just last night I was having a conversation with my dear friends Scott and Kami (Scott was mentioned in the latest edition of The Cyclops, but is yet to be sporting a team kit) and talking with them about how Performance Enhancing Drugs have tainted endurance sports. After explaining this to Kami, she came up with a great slogan: "Doping, just don't do it!" I like it!

Sadly, the sports of cycling and xc skiing have been especially tainted by these people who made bad decisions. Think about it, following are just a few folks who have been accused of doping: Alexander Vinokourov, Richard Virenque, Ivan Basso, Johann Mühlegg, Bjarne Riis, the entire Finish XC Ski team in 2002, and countless others.

French cycling superstar Richard Virenque and his entire Festina team were kicked out of the 1998 Tour de France for doping.

However, it's easy to simply point the finger and not understand the how's and why that go into these people making their decisions.

For most of us, there is much room for fitness to improve & race results to get better, neither of which effect our ability to feed our families. However, for a professional athlete at the top of thieir game, the difference between winning and loosing is a small fraction of a percentage point. Consider the Tour de France being won by a few seconds over the course of 2,000 plus miles!

Obviously for these world class athletes, the slightest advantage is the difference between winning and loosing - and often millions of dollars for them, their sponsors, and their team. With this said, they will do anything to get results; better equipment, training harder, scouting out race courses, and yes doping!

I believe that most modern day doping starts out with a doctor finding a drug that isn't yet on the WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) banned substance list, yet still provides an athlete some advantage (such as Amgen's EPO, a drug designed to help Cancer patients, increasing blood's ability to deliver oxygen to muscles). Well, most teams and athletes don't mess around with drugs that are on the banned substance list these days as the rules are enforced very strictly. However, imagine if you could stay one step ahead of WADA or USADA...

I believe this happens frequently at the top of endurance sports. The people with the most money are able to have the best doctors, whom find the latest drugs that aren't on the banned substance list. Therefore when their athlete takes the drug which increases their performance, and they fly under the radar of WADA because they don't know about it yet.

Heck, let's even take a step back to the late eighties with Paul Kimmage's book titles Rough Ride. In this classic book, he clearly outlines how just in order to complete Europe's pro races, many riders were forced into doping, as everyone else was. It's sad to come to the realization that back then, most of the pro cycling peloton was doping in some way.

Sadly, this is the ugly side of cycling and of XC Skiing (and many other sports), yet it's reality.

Johann Mühlegg was clearly in a class of his own at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, until he later tested postiive for doping and had numerous medals stripped from him.

Bring Back Time Bonuses for Tour Stage Wins!!!!

Apparently Schleck and Contador battled it out on stage 17, with Schleck taking the stage and (what looks like) Contador taking the Tour.  I didn't see the stage, but I talked to my mom about it and she said Contador kind of winked at Schleck when he met him at the end as if to say, "I gave you that stage...as is required by the TDF's 'gentleman' rules."

First off...this whole concept of "I gave that guy the stage" is utter nonsense.  I HATE it when people say that and I think it's disrespectful.  When you sit and think about it, the concept disintegrates under its own weight.  You CAN'T "give" somebody a tour stage win.  The most you can do is "not contest" a tour win.  That's the ONLY claim you can make.  If somebody else wins a stage and you didn't try, there's no way of knowing if that person STILL would have won even if you DID try!  The best example is the so called "gift" stage of Marco Pantani (I believe it was on Mont Ventoux...which Armstrong notoriously doesn't like...I believe that's the cimb that Tom Simpson died on as well...Tour trivia).  Maybe Armstrong "could" have beaten Pantani on that day...but the cold hard fact is that he didn't, and to say the stage was a "gift" is a little ridiculous.  Put it this way, if it IS a gift, then you can't SAY it's a gift or you take the gift away (because everybody starts to deny the victory and it taints it for the winner).

So it was that Contador was apparently trying to suggest that he was gift wrapping stage 17 for Schleck...which gives Schleck even MORE of a right to be irritated with Contador (I think we're going to be seeing Schleck on the top platform of the winner's podium before his career is over).

But once I started thinking about it, I realized that there IS a way to stop all this nonsense "gentlemen" talk that nobody seems to conform to anyway...and that is to bring back the time bonuses for winning a stage.

I seem to remember that they used to give you a 10 or 15 second bonus for being a stage winner.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  Were that the case, Schleck would now be in the lead by 2 seconds based on the bonus (and there'd be no talk about ANYONE "giving" the stage away).  Obviously in a race as close as the 2010 Tour has been, people couldn't afford to make gifts of the stage, and the contention riders wouldn't be able to just sit back and mark their rivals the way they do it now.

Imagine how much you could mix up the standings of the tour by giving out Time bonuses.  Imagine if the bonuses were 1 minute?  What if the prize for winning the stage was a half hour time bonus?  You'd have sprinters in contention for the overall jersey!  In fact, at the peak of the anti-Armstrong sentiment, I'm kind of surprised they didn't employ this kind of tactic.  All they had to do to prevent Armstrong from winning was implement a 2 hour time bonus for every flat stage victory, and no time bonus for winning mountain stages or time trials...wow...imagine the scandal that would have caused!

Or maybe the Tour could do some really fun stuff like give riders a time bonus for every shot of Jack Daniels they take while out on the ride.  I wonder how many minutes they'd have to give per shot to make me a contender for the Tour de France (I'm pretty sure I can out drink Lance Armstrong...although you never know...I usually enter drinking contests to lose).

Broken Spoke

The other day I was out on a happy little bike ride and for the first time in my life I broke a spoke!  I was just riding along and I stood up briefly to gain a little momentum on an uphill when "Boing!" and the poor spoke was no more.  It's kind of amazing when you think about it that I've never broken a spoke until now...I've been riding bicycle for a long time.  I did my first RAGBRAI at 12 or 13 or something (of course, back then I was probably about 100 lbs., and you don't break a lot of spokes at that size).

Fortunately, a broken spoke is not to be feared.  My wheel is a bit of an old battle horse (it's the original wheel of my 1995 or 1996 TREK 5000), and the broken spoke hardly even put it out of true.  I just trotted on back home, keeping the speed down on the downhills and going really wide on the turns.

In addition to the spoke, my wheel's got a little lateral play in it.  What that means is that you can wiggle it side to side so that it oscillates between the brake calipers...that's got to indicate a problem.


Why is it that you can't buy this stuff and have it be good to use forever?  Fortunately the front wheel on my Schwinn Circuit from 1989 still had a functional font wheel.  So now I'm riding around with a 21 year old wheel with a Suntour sprint 9000 hub (I like bike gear numbered in the thousands).

It rolls...it's all good.

Armstrong Stage Win...So Close and Yet So Far...

Well, if you were watching the Tour de France yesterday, it was a whirlwind of emotion.  Personally, I woke up to the exciting news that Lance Armstrong was in a breakaway with about a 10 minute lead on the main group with only 30 or so KM to go.  Excited, I ran over to my computer in the hopes of finding some free service to watch the end of stage 16.  I eventually found one at cyclingfans.com and managed to grab a couple screen shots to talk about the action (They're not great quality...but I don't happen to be in France right now on the back of a media motorcycle with a foot long camera lens...although I'd like to be).

In the above shot, you'll see that "Groupe Armstrong" has about 15km to go.  I'm not sure if Carlos Barredo had broken away at this point yet, but it was right around here.  That guy gets the Thierry Marie award of the day (that award goes to the guy who breaks away for the longest amount of time without eventually winning the stage).  It was ridiculous, Barredo sat there about 20 seconds ahead of the group until the last kilometer or two.  I was starting to think they weren't going to pull him in...but apparently they were just playing games because when they really wanted to, they shut Barredo down relatively quickly.  Still, it looked a little reckless with the stage on the line, etc.  However, I guess those guys know what they're doing.
In this image you see Lance (21).  He's just kind of biding his time while Chris Horner works like a beaten mule to keep things under control so Lance has a chance to win.  Seriously, I bet Horner was as lathered as a hard-worked horse by the end of the event.  He was HAMMERING it, keeping the race under control, doing everything so that Lance could get the stage at the end.  Excellent work Chris!However, at the end of the day, Lance just didn't have the legs.  He made a bit of a sprint, but it wasn't going anywhere.  He seemed to be on the wrong guys wheel and he also seemed to figure it out pretty quickly.  He sat up before he even got to the line, and even Chris Horner passed him.  I don't know, after the effort that Horner gave earlier in the day, it would have been nice for Lance to push through all the way to the end.  But I suppose when you're used to winning 7 consecutive TDFs, one little stage isn't enough for you to really get all that worked up over.  More than ever, it is pretty apparent how much of a swan song this is.  Lance's heart just doesn't seem to be in this event like it has been in recent years.  Hats off to him for continuing along and making moves like the one we saw on Stage 16.  The spirit is willing but the body just doesn't seem to be there.
That's how it turned out.  It almost would have been nice to have Armstrong working for Horner (remember the Tour DuPont bike spike that brought Horner to fame all those years ago?).  Somehow I think a stage win has more value for a guy like Chris Horner than it does for Lance at this point.  Still, when those last few kilometers were ticking off, I felt my heart rate go up significantly and I started to reminisce about all those great Armstrong stage wins from the Motorola days.  It's a rare thing to be able to watch a guy like Lance Armstrong race the TDF, and sadly, those days are numbered now.  We'll see what's yet to come, but I'm thinking that stage 16 is as good as it's going to get for Lance in 2010.

Tour De France "Fair Play" and "Etiquette" rules

Beyond all the "official" rules that cyclist have to worry about when participating in a grueling event like the Tour De France (like not putting cortisone cream on a cold sore, or having a bike that's too light)...rules that, if broken, could cost them their jobs and, in worst case scenarios, their professional careers...racers have to worry about all these "Fair Play" or "Etiquette" rules that the peloton has "adopted" without...you know...writing down the parameters, talking about the issue, etc., etc., etc.  Now, although I like the concept of these rules, I think in many ways their inherent nature sets the riders up to fail since the actual rules that are being cited AREN'T WRITTEN DOWN ANYWHERE!!!!

The most recent example is that Alberto Contador just took the leader's jersey (by an eerily familiar 8 second margin no less) over Andy Schleck (who has the best name in pro sports) due to the fact that Schleck's chain fell off and he lost time putting it back on.

Now, all I did was read the recaps and of course none of them mentioned at what point in the stage it was that Schleck's chain fell off (great journalism people...you guys are brilliant...always leaving out VITAL pieces of information like a pack of idiots).  My assumption is that it must have been close to the end of the stage because Schleck didn't eventually catch up with Contador, and really they were only dealing with less than a minute of total time.  But this begs the question, at what KM marker are you allowed to just continue at full speed even if your rival has a technical problem?  1 km out?  10 km out?  If people are going to make a big stink about this, there should be some ESTABLISHED rules with some NUMBERS!

I guess for me, I don't think it's good to set the precedent that a guy can't attack when somebody else is having an issue.  I mean, if you're trying to win the TDF, you've got enough problems without worrying about how everybody else is doing.  The other reason for this is that hypothetically, if you're having a bad day, you could fake some kind of mechanical issue so that your chief rivals had to stop and wait for you.  Now, that'd be absolutely classless...but so is doping...and so is flopping in the world cup...so in the end I think it's FAIRER to just RECOGNIZE that if your bike falls apart, nobody is obligated to wait for you (if they do...great...but if not you should just concentrate on your own business).  I mean, you didn't hear Tony Rominger crying when he had like 50 flat tires in (what year...1996 or so?) to lose to Indurain...then again, he'd have probably lost if everything had gone perfectly for him.

So really, although the media is making a big deal about this, I think it's more or less a non-issue.  In the interview I saw with Schleck (on yahoo) I got the impression that here was a man who was upset that he had lost the yellow jersey, but he wasn't necessarily "furious" with Contador.  And all this nonsense about Contador's actions "tainting" the yellow jersey are a bunch of baloney.  Contador had to work like a beast to even be in a position where a dropped chain was even a factor (Schleck would have needed to drop a chain, break spokes on both his wheels, and pop a couple tires to bring Armstrong back into relevance).

All that said, I'd like for Schleck to win now more than ever...but we'll see.

Lemond and Armstrong on a Collision Course!

Seriously folks, the stuff that comes out of professional cyclists now is getting utterly ridiculous.  I mean, even if it all turns out to be TRUE, it won't be any less ridiculous.  The latest thing is an accusation by Greg LeMond that Lance Armstrong paid some dude $300,000 to say LeMond used a banned substance (read about it here among other places).

First of all...is LeMond even on the radar enough for Armstrong to even Benefit from a falsified report that he was on drugs?  I mean, the only time we hear about LeMond, is when he's telling us that Floyd Landis's lawyer is calling him up and saying he's LeMond's sexually abusive uncle (that seriously happened).  And really, it's a shame because Greg LeMond is a fantastic and interesting person.  His achievements on a bicycle are legendary, and if it weren't for Lance, we'd STILL be marveling that his story was almost beyond human.

However, it must be kind of annoying to be in LeMond's position and have a guy like Lance Armstrong come along and solidly trump you on every single level.  Heck, if Armstrong had just won seven tours...that would have been at least acceptable...but Armstrong too had to come back from a near fatal ailment...heck, Armstrong's recovery from cancer was even greater than LeMond's recovery from his gunshot wound (in my mind, the trigger man on that incident is always Bernard Hinault...although I know that's not the case...is it?).
(actually watch this video, it's pretty interesting):

Anyway, the end result is that today, we're not talking about Greg LeMond in terms of his stellar Tour wins or his amazing comback...but instead because of these ridiculous associations with various cycling scandals.  Seriously, that's the tragedy of pro cycling today...no matter who turns out to be "dirty" or "clean."

Nintendo Wii making fitness fun???

Video games are addicting, heck, even the Biathlon game for the Nintendo Wii does suck you in. While for some, the fact that the sport of xc skiing is reduced to hitting the "X button" really fast may be alluring, I'm not convinced.

Video games are addicting and distracting as this triathlon enthusiast displays.

What ever happened to humans having real experiences out in the real world? Our bodies are designed to move and be active, this is why we become stronger and healthier with exercise. Exercise isn't torture. Exercise rarely is going to the gym and running on a treadmill. Exercise is getting outside and exploring your surroundings, breathing fresh air, seeing sun rises and sun sets, experiencing a rain storm, and seeing all of the critters. Real experiences!

Well, last week, I went to go check out a world class endurance event, the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, a Triathlon here in Minneapolis that literally features some of the worlds best athletes. There was much exciting racing going on; swimmers sprinting into the water, pulling off wetsuits and transitioning on to the bike, time trial bikes with disc wheels roaring down closed road ways, and some serious suffering going on in the run. All exciting to somehow be a part of!

The Nintendo Wii booth at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon: Does the Wii really make fitness fun?

Well, as I was walking through the vendor expo area of the triathlon where industry companies and sponsors get to show off their wear, I noticed a booth that seemed out of place: a Nintendo Wii booth. I also noticed that it had quite a consistent crowd around it, so I went to go check it out. I was surprised to see a range of folks trying out a Wii game, from fit looking triathletes to Grannies.

I thought to myself, do these people really need this game consel to excercise? Do they really get more enjoyment out of staring at a TV screen than the real world? Can't they go do something real and authentic on their own and not living through a game character?

It's true, we live in a world full of addictive stuff that isn't necessarily good for you. I personally believe that the Wii is not a key to becoming fit. Rather the solution is to develop a passion for a life sport that you genuinely enjoy. A sport that introduces you to lifelong friends, takes you around the world or allows you to rediscover your own back yard.

Bike. Ski. Run... Dig it!

Do you Shower with your Jersey on?

This is an old trick I picked up on RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa...for those of you who don't know) years ago.  When you get done with your ride, you don't strip off and jump in the shower...NOPE...instead you pull all the junk out of your pockets, take off your cleats, and THEN jump into the shower with all your bike stuff ON!

On RAGBRAI this was a necessity because you just didn't have the luggage space to bring along fifty cycling jerseys...but for the rest of you it's a necessity because you want to wear your CYCLOVAXC jersey EVERY time you go out for a bike ride.

Although the shower treatment isn't quite the same as the washing machine/detergent treatment, you can get your jersey pretty clean just soaking it immediately after a ride before all your nasty sweat and road goo has had a chance to solidify and become a part of the fabric on a molecular level.  Sure, you still have to wash your jersey EVENTUALLY, but by doing that immediate rinse I think you can get a couple rides out of your clothing between each riding and not get noticeably nasty.

Something to think about it.

But I guess the bigger question is...yes, we know you shower with your jersey on...but do you sleep with your cleats on?  Just another mystery that nobody's in a hurry to find out.

St. Croix Falls Anyone?--Cyclops 2.14

Hey everyone! Man, I'm totally exhausted today, and I'll tell you why...on Tuesday I decided to go on an innocent little bike ride. You know what I mean, I just wanted to toodle along and smell the flowers and avoid any kind of gradient besides level and slightly downwards. So I was making my way out towards the bike trail (old railroad grade...you can pretty much coast for two hours), when I came across Greg and Kathie from our team! Well, they convinced me that I should go ahead and do the group ride that leaves Spring Street Sports every Tuesday (I didn't even know it was Tuesday), and before I knew it, I was right in the center of a blazing pack of mad dogs (including another CyclovaXC guy, Aaron...I'm leaving out last names just in case people want to disassociate themselves with the internet...or more probably...me!). Well, it was fun actually, and it was fortunate that last Tuesday was the first day that I've felt more or less decent on a bike this whole summer (your form always comes when the season's halfway gone...or more). However, it'll be a while before I engage in any shoulder to shoulder riding on any kind of a regular basis. I was happy to have gone along, but I was also happy to peel off and trot on back home to my still expectant (of a baby) wife.

That's right, a lot's happened since the last CyclovaXC update...but still no baby Jonjak (I'm sure we'll post the minute s/he arrives...although I expect the arrival will also be announced by a heavenly choir...kings from distant lands bearing myrrh, that kind of thing).

The big news is the Tour I suppose. Armstrong took a hit the other day, but my suspicion is that we'll see him start using some Laurent Jalabert tactics and end his final major race wearing a white jersey speckled with red polka-dots. We'll see...it's just that I don't expect Lance to go quietly into the night.

The other news is that Frank is planning some sort of ride in St. Croix Falls this weekend. Get out there if you get a chance, you can call Frank for details or write him at cyclovaxcfrank@gmail.com (he mentioned this ride in a comment at the end of the St. Croix Falls article here.

We'll try to organize a ride or two for August...I just started to dream that maybe next summer we should do a mini tour from MSP to Rochester to Eau Claire to St. Croix Falls (stop and spend a day at the water slides) and then return to MSP. The thing is, I know people at all these towns, so we'd have houses to stay at (or at least yards to camp on). The wheels are still spinning on this concept however...and it won't be put into play until next year at the earliest...so stay tuned.

Oh...and congratulations to Frank's neighbor Scott "don't call me Steve" who is taking to cycling like a CEO takes to tax evasion. Scott's a heck of a beer manufacturer, and if all goes well, we'll be filling our bottles and our bellies with CyclovaXC bubbly VERY soon! (Seriously, the dude is like a beer artist...like frickin' Rembrant only with more talent...the only guy I've ever approached while using beer as an art implement is Pollock...and that's only the negative after effect of when I've had too much :).

Ok, that said...here are the great articles (the 4th of July one is good...but nobody read it since you were all out being Patriotic...can't say shame on you...but read it now):

That's it! See you where the rubber meets the road!

Summer Road Riding At Its Best!

Summer is absolutely here now, so don't miss it! While in some areas the mountain bike trails are a bit muddy from all of the rain, the road riding simply doesn't get any better. We have beautiful Midwest roads, great summer weather, and a daily dose of the Tour de France to motivate us as we pedal!

Inspiration can easily be found by passing through the beautiful areas that we are fortunate enough to ride through. This past weekend, I did a fantastic road ride through the St. Croix River Valley and saw a huge variety of breath taking views, which inspired me to ride more (and take pictures). The St. Croix River Valley truly is a road riders playground, with some of the best road riding in the country tucked away on it's back roads. Check it out and enjoy these images!

Right in St. Croix Falls is a "pinch me, am I dreaming" section of bike trail overlooking the St. Croix River. This trail hooks up with Interstate Park to the south and country roads to the north.

East of Osceola on Cty Rd M, I came across the beautiful field full of Sunflowers. It stopped me in my tracks!

In Interstate Park on the Wisconsin side, majestic views are commonplace. This is the view of the St. Croix River gorges along the guard rail and also happens to be one of the best climbs in the Midwest.