Arlobike.com

Home FAQ Timeline Equipment Ride diary Links

Ride diary

I've taken hundreds of bike rides, and had some fantastic moments; but my chances of remembering any of them are pretty slim. So, from the launch of this site on, I'll be jotting down a few notes about each ride right here. Some will be uneventful, but others will surely be really special -- and I'll have something to remember them by!

Return to my current diary

Monday, December 30, 2002 at 1:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: 16 miles

Sixty degrees in December -- yeah! Unfortunately, the roads were filthy -- a gross, oily slime that stained my new long-sleeved jersey and took a long time to clean off my bike. But I rode the 1400 -- my "rainy day" bike -- so I wasn't too worried. And I 'm certainly not going to let a little dirt spoil my fun. I did the Halsted/Elston/Lawrence triangle, and left the computer at home, so the distance and duration figures are estimates.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Sixty minutes on the windtrainer, while watching stages 12-14 of the 2002 Tour de France. Why didn't Armstrong and Heras attack Beloki together on stage 12? They could have shared the work and put minutes on the ONCE rider. Oh well. The smile on Jalabert 's face as he received his "rolling salute" at the finish was pretty neat. Happy new year!

Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 7:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

This year started with a bang and I haven't had time to ride since then. But I had to get back on the windtrainer eventually and see how the 2002 Tour ended up. No matter how many times I watch that tape, Lance always wins. Amazing!

Thursday, January 17, 2003 at 7:45 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

It was a tiring day, but a vigorous ride on the windtrainer was just what I needed to pep up again. I watched the Road to Paris video and was digging Tyler's solo break in Circuit de la Sarthe and Lance's attack on Dekker in Amstel Gold. Great footage! I strapped on the heart rate monitor and pegged it in the 160's for the middle 35 minutes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Fairly low-energy today, but rode the windtrainer and finished up the Road to Paris video. HRM showed the low end of the aerobic range.

Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Decent windtrainer ride while watching the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. I was feeling good and rested and pegged the heartrate at around 175 for 45 minutes. It's 30 and snowing outside!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 8:15 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes

Not much energy, but rode at around 165 for over 30 minutes. Watched more of the Tour de Suisse and skipped my after-ride situps/pushups/chinups routine. I'll two twice as many next time, eh?

Saturday, February 1, 2003 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Quite a bit of energy; did a few 5 minute intervals at 180 bpm while watching the Tour de Suisse. This is the race that made me a fan of Tyler Hamilton; watching him drag the pack up the climb to Nufenendel was impressive indeed. He didn't seem to even break a sweat! No wonder CSC snatched him up the following year.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Sort of lackadaisical tonight, barely in the target zone with the heart rate, but no matter. Finished the Tour de Suisse tape, where Zabel was -much- faster than McEwen (those were the days), then finished the ride with the last bit of the 1995 Milan San Remo. The cycling videos have gotten much better in recent years -- cheesy music obscured the action in this tape, but Jalabert was stellar. Before the ride I unpacked a new carbon fork, headset, and stem that arrived today. It will be quite a project installing that!

Thursday, February 6, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, the Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday routine might be a good one. Tonight I had a nice windtrainer ride, digging into my video archives for the 1996 Tour de France. Unfortunately, it was one of those bad ESPN recordings where the VCR clock was five minutes off; so each stage starts with 5 minutes of baseball recaps, then cuts off just before the final sprint. Argh! But I have to admit, after several years of perspective, Adrian Karstens is harmless and even a tiny bit amusing.

Saturday, February 8, 2003 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I took my green bike into the shop today so they could install the new fork (a job best left to professionals, I decided), so I had to put the red bike on the windtrainer and give that a spin. Unfortunately, it took a worse beating than I thought during my last rainy ride, and started squeaking horribly after about ten minutes. I had to keep stopping and lubing the drivetrain, until I finally ran out of lube! But the squeaking for the most part stopped. Poor thing ... I fixed it up pretty well after it was stolen and recovered back in 1995 ... but one of these days I should take it to the next level. Anyway, I couldn't bear another evening of poorly recorded race videos, so I put the latest issue of CycleSport on a music stand and read that instead.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Ahhh, rollers. I got the rollers out tonight and gave them a go for the first time this year. And I have to say, they're much less scary in the carpeted apartment I have now than the hardwood floored apartment I had last winter. Quieter, too! But 25 minutes on rollers is still about as much concentration as I can manage. Maybe I'll go for 30 next time.

Sunday, February 16, 2003 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: NA miles

A long ride on the windtrainer, and I'm happy to say that I was able to replace my old TV recordings with professionally recorded tapes of the '96 through '98 Tours de France. I'll watch them in order; today I learned to appreciate the unconventional Bjarne Riis as he took time out of Indurain on two consecutive stages.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003 at 8:45 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Ten minutes on the rollers followed by 40 on the windtrainer. I was practicing one-handed and then no-handed riding on the rollers -- not bad! Then watched Erik Zabel dominate the points competition for a few stages of the '96 Tour. Not bad.

Thursday, February 27, 2003 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Wow! I watched the second half of the '96 Tour, and it was amazing to see Bjarne Riis play with the competition. It was also amazing that poor Indurain didn't even make an appearance in the final days. Kudos to Phil Liggett, though, for predicting repeatedly that Ullrich would be a future Tour winner.

Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 8:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, on to the '97 Tour, and I got through all the flat stages today. Cipollini was fun in red, white, and blue, but what was up with Telekom using its two overall contenders to lead out Zabel day after day? Well, as for my own riding, I pegged the heart rate at 165-170 and watched the show.

Thursday, March 6, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I was going to start out on rollers and move to the windtrainer, but ended up so comfortable on the rollers that I stayed there. Nothing like a carpeted floor and some successful no-hands practice to make that seem a lot easier! And while I rode I listened to one of my favorite old biking albums, the Clash's London Calling. That was one of my most frequently played albums the first year I got into bike racing, and it still makes me pedal faster when I hear it.

Saturday, March 8, 2003 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Back on the windtrainer for a few more stages of the '97 Tour. I've never been impressed by Virenque ... he never seems to even try to win a stage, let alone the overall classification ... and he can't even match the top climbers when the chips are down. But he wins polka-dots every year, nevertheless.

Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Good solid ride on the windtrainer. Spring, teeny tiny bits of it, are in the air!

Saturday, March 15, 2003 at 2:15 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: ? miles

Aha, the first outdoor ride of the year! I rode on the lakefront down to Promontory Point, then all the way up to Berwyn Ave., then back to where I started -- about 25 miles I suppose. Rode hard for a little while, but mostly just enjoyed the day.

I saw more yuppies than ever on the path south of McCormick place. Either the south side has become more gentrified over the winter, or lots of people are working on their new year's resolutions with longer workouts.

I also got my first collision of the year out of the way already. It was with a guy on rollerblades and a hyperactive dog down by Oak Street beach. I slowed, and as I came around, said, "On your left," but of course he didn't hear me because he was wearing headphones. Then, just as I pulled even, he started jumping or dancing or something, jumping up in the air and from side to side on his rollerblades ... and give me a pretty solid body check in the process. I don't know what that was all about, but I didn't lose my balance and I think I have the rollers to thank for that.

The lakefront path sucks! Long live the lakefront path!

Sunday, March 16, 2003 at 2:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, it was nearly 70 today, so I got to ride without tights! Best of all, the streets were dry, so the only mud on my bike is the mud from yesterday.

I did my little "golden triangle" ride, Eltson to Lawrence to the lakefront and back home. On Elston, I overtook a guy wearing a full Motorola team kit and matching Caloi bike. He said he wished he were riding for the team. Whew ... I like riding, but I'm glad I'm not!

It never ceases to amaze me how many people will walk across a street or a bike path without looking up to see if anyone is coming. My theory is that cars are so noisy that people rely on hearing more than they realize when crossing the street. So when a finely tuned racing bike comes whispering along, it doesn't even occur to them to look. In any case, I'm constantly hitting the breaks to avoid hitting people who walk right out in front of me, looking down or looking in the other direction.

Anyway ... I've got to put a cyclocomputer back on my bike so I can start logging my mileage! Today must have been about 18 miles.

Thursday, March 20, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, just an uneventful ride on the windtrainer. Tried to read CycleSport magazine rather than watching a video, but the print is so small and the magazine stand was rocking back and forth, so my workout wasn't as good as it could have been!

Sunday, March 23, 2003 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 32 minutes
Distance: 24.6 miles

All right, I got outside again today, and I have a new cyclocomputer so I can log my mileage. It turns out my last computer was calibrated for a 26" mountain bike wheel, so I've actually been riding faster and longer than I thought for the last few years. Hmm! This new computer also has a temperature function, which is pretty cool. The temperature on today's ride varied between 46 and 55 degrees depending on my relation to the sun, wind, and water at any given point. It must have been closer to 46 when I got home, though, because my fingers were tingling from the chill.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Quick spin on the rollers, felt winded right away, not sure why. Then did two sets of my upper-body workout, and off to dinner (portobello sandwiches!).

Tuesday, March 30, 2003 at 5:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I was feeling lethargic and skipped last Thursday's ride, but today was fun. I started the 1998 Tour, the last new tape I have this year, and kept a pretty good tempo on the windtrainer. One more week until daylight savings time begins!

Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Ten minute warmup on rollers, then 35 on the windtrainer. TdF 1998 continues.

Saturday, April 5, 2003 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Continued with the '98 Tour on the windtrainer; felt pretty good and would have ridden longer, but didn't have time. Hard to believe Ullrich lost 9 minutes in one day to Pantani! But Il Elephantino was sure flying.

Sunday, April 12, 2003 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

An hour on the windtrainer and finished the '98 Tour tape. I hadn't really followed that race at the time, so I missed Bobby Julich's excellent podium finish. Wow! But I still don't understand why riders will hammer all the way to the line with the race leader on their wheel, as Ullrich did on the Col de la Madeleine, dragging Pantani with him. That doesn't make sense ... unless he was simply racing for second place.

Sunday, April 13, 2003 at 3:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 14 minutes
Distance: 18.8 miles

All right, outside again! It was a bit chilly, but at least it wasn't snowing like last weekend. I guess the last few years, I didn't start riding until summer was well underway, so I'm not used to this whole warm-with-a-cold-breeze period. The temperature on my computer ranged from 54 to 74 during the ride. But I was comfortable, and thoroughly enjoying a smooth, silent ride after scrubbing my derailleurs clean and installing a new chain this morning.

Saturday, April 18, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 22 minutes
Distance: NA miles

It's been a while, so I just took a spin on the rollers. That's even quieter, now that I've scrubbed my drivetrain clean.

Saturday, April 19, 2003 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 41 minutes
Distance: 26.1 miles

Woo-ha! I didn't expect to ride this weekend, because the forecast called for lots of thunderstorms. But by noon today it was still partly sunny and quite warm, so I took a break from my spring cleaning and got out there. It was my first ride of the year with short sleeves! My arms are sure pale, but my ONCE jersey was glowing. The bike was running perfectly, and it seemed as if my no-handed practice on the rollers has paid off -- I kept wanting to ride no-handed today, which I've never been very good at. Now it seems that putting my hands on the handlebars is irrelevant. Anyway, I'll by home for the rest of the day, so -now- we can have thunderstorms.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 13.3 miles

I decided to ride outside today rather than use the rollers, but I wished I'd taken my jacket. It was pretty cold!

I was wearing long-fingered gloves and clip-on sunglasses, and before long, I needed to remove the clip-ons. But I couldn't do that with the gloves. Fortunately, I was able to use my new no-handed riding skills to take off the gloves, take off the clip-ons, stow them in my zippered back pocket, then put the gloves on again -- all without stopping.

I'm going to bite the bullet and replace my shift levers. The ratcheting mechanism in the right lever has worn out, and of course you can't buy just one, you have to buy the pair. Fortunately, I just received a 20% off coupon from Bike Nashbar, so a new pair is on its way, along with a new chain and cassette required by the 9-speed system. If UPS comes through, I'll be installing all of that this weekend.

Saturday, April 26, 2003 at 9:30 am

Duration: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 40.8 miles

Hey! This must be the first time I've ridden more than 40 miles this early in the year since my racing days. I picked up Josh in Rogers Park and then we headed northeast through the Skokie sculpture garden, picked up Green Bay Road at the end of that, and took the Green Bay Trail until that turned to gravel. Then we headed back to the city on Sheridan Road. We didn't ride very hard, just enjoyed the sun and got some miles in our legs.

Wednesday, May 3, 2003 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 6 miles

Just a quick spin, after replacing my shift/brake levers, rear cassette, and chain, to make sure everything was working properly. I didn't bother to put on as many clothes as the weather required -- brrr!

Wednesday, May 7, 2003 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 8 minutes
Distance: 48 miles

Hey! Today is my birthday, so I took the day off and went for a long ride this afternoon. Actually, I wanted to ride longer, but it was too cold -- 50 degrees give or take a few throughout the afternoon -- and I couldn't bear to wear tights for that long. As it was, my legs weren't too cold, but my fingers and toes were pretty numb and I was just feeling generally stiff. But it was still a great way to spend the day.

I'm generally very hesitant to change anything about my bike, but one thing I like about these new shift levers is that the brake hoods are a slightly different shape and they seem to fit my hand better. With the old levers, my hands would constantly creep up to the bar tops, and I had to remind myself to stay in a good position. But today I was planted pretty firmly on the hoods for three hours. So that's an improvement!

Oh, and I saw five deer in the forest preserve ... and two rabbits. Cute.

Saturday, May 17, 2003 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 21.9 miles

Ah ... a nice day, and it's been too long since I've ridden. I fought the wind north to the sculpture garden with visions of Stefano Garzelli in the Tour of Italy to inspire me, then cruised back by the same route picking my way through traffic to Lincoln Park. I'm not sure I chose the right gearing with this new 9-speed system, but the brake hoods are indeed comfortable.

Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 8:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I've been neglecting my bike for the guitar lately, but tonight I at least took a break to spin on the rollers for a while. Actually, I downloaded a new album from the iTunes Music Store and cranked that up while I rode -- it's the little details that make my rides so special!

Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 19 miles

Today I tuned up my business partner, Anna's, Cannondale and then we took a ride down to Promontory Point. The sun was warm, but the wind was chilly ... but it was nice to get outside and get a few more miles in my legs. It was also nice to hear Anna's constant praise about how smoothly her bike was running!

Thursday, May 29, 2003 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 32 minutes
Distance: 21.8 miles

Well, I guess the riding season is really here, because I was able to work until 5, leave for a ride at 6, and still get two hours in before it was excessively dark or cold to continue. The ride felt great, and my bike handling skills continue to improve. Waiting for a red light at Lincoln and Belmont, I found myself doing a lengthy trackstand -- I didn't plan it and wasn't even thinking about it, I was just doing it. But the highlight of my ride was looking down at one point and seeing that my speed and distance were both 17.2. That was a weird coincidence. Oh, and I had superb luck with stoplights on the way home. Anyway, it looks like it's going to be cold -- and I'm going to be busy -- this weekend, so I'm glad I got out tonight.

Thursday, June 5, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 36 minutes
Distance: 24.1 miles

All right! After my last ride, I said that winter was over; after this ride I can say that summer is here. The air felt summery for the first time this year. I rode hard, worked up a sweat, and the gnats and cottonwood fluff stuck to my sweaty arms. It felt good!

Saturday, June 7, 2003 at 9:30 am

Duration: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 44.3 miles

Oh, man. You couldn't ask for a nicer riding day. Seventy-five degrees, sunny, a nice breeze off the lake ... whew. Good thing Josh invited me for a long ride, otherwise I might have wasted the day on something else! We rode all the way down to Calumet Park, just shy of the Indiana border, with some fast spots and some relaxing spots and some spots just picking our way between rollerbladers on the lakefront. I wore my ONCE jersey and -- hey, what's this? -- got a little tan on my arms!

Thursday, June 12, 2003 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 51.9 miles

Whew! Now I remember what cycling is really like. I'm in Iowa this weekend for a family reunion, and thought I'd go out and do a nice 50 miles this afternoon. Ouch! The hills were steep, the wind was ferocious, and I was pretty much out of energy by mile 40. Riding home with a tailwind, I was occasionally going uphill at 20 miles an hour and down at 30 ... but by then I was too tired to make the most of it.

Sunday, June 15, 2003 at 9:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 34.9 miles

Mmm, I'm still feeling my last ride in my legs, but today wasn't quite so windy and I rode strongly all the way to the end. Some of the hills were pretty intimidating, but memories of past races helped me push to the top with some respectability. I'm definitely feeling, though, that 50 miles in Iowa is like 70 or more in Chicago. With the flat terrain, the frequent stops, (I didn't put my foot down once during this ride, and only once during the 52 mile ride), and being generally sheilded from the wind, you just can't wear yourself out like you do here. Oh well, it's been fun! I'm heading home this afternoon.

Saturday, June 21, 2003 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 24.5 miles

I didn't have much time today, between a guitar class at noon and a music film at 6, but I did get a nice ride down to Promontory Point. On the way down I ended up chatting with a guy on a Litespeed, named Nick (the guy, not the Litespeed), who turned out to have just opened a health food store in Bucktown. As we headed back into the Navy Pier area, we were riding slower and talking faster until he turned off a mile from my street. It was a suitable way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon ride. Tomorrow I should have more time, and will probably head to the forest preserve!

Sunday, June 22, 2003 at 3:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: 27 miles

Oh, man ... I did ride to the forest preserve today, but I was so tired and malnourished (my mealtimes have been all messed up the last few days) that I turned around at Dempster. Blech. It was nice to be out, but feeling this drained was a bummer. I'll rest up and hope for more fun next weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 36 minutes
Distance: 22.8 miles

I used to prefer the hottest of the hot summer days for riding. Maybe I'm getting old, or I've just been working in an air-conditioned office for too long, but I think now I like the 70's the best. This evening was 74 degrees, with the sun playing behind the clouds and a strong wind whistling through the neighborhoods. That wind probably would have been miserable in the open fields of Iowa, but here in Chicago it just made things interesting. At one point I was riding a zig-zag path that changed directions every 30 or 40 yards, and it was like, "Headwind, tailwind, headwind, tailwind...." That was fun.

In the Skokie sculpture garden I ran into a former coworker, Steve, and his wife Becki out on their bikes. Then, waiting to turn left at Diversey, a guy stuck his head out of his car window and said, "It's nice to see a cyclist who follows traffic signals. I'm not scared of you!" Nice. If he'd seen me shooting through the intersection of Lincoln and Belmont at 25 mph a few minutes earlier, he might have been. But I did have the right of way!

Well, the new Mexican restaurant across the street opened today. I've got an appetite, and I'm going to check it out. Cheers...

Saturday, June 28, 2003 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 03 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

I had planned to take a long ride this afternoon, but the forecast started calling for "strong thunderstorms" all day. Indeed, it was dark all morning and rained for a few minutes at one point, so I started making other plans for my day. Then I looked outside and it was suddenly warm and sunny! By that time I was no longer in the mood for a long ride or a hard workout, so I ended up taking an exploration ride instead. I took Diversey west to Logan Square, then Kedzie south to Humboldt Park and explored the park for a while. Wow, who needs the lakefront? Then I took Grand back to Halsted and back home. Now it's time to chill the sun tea I set out before my ride, and continue with my day!

Thursday, July 3, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: 13 miles

What a lousy ride! I headed south on the lakefront with an eye toward Promontory Point, but by the time I reached Navy Pier, it had become painfully clear that this was the night of Chicago's fireworks. Blech! The path south of the Pier was fairly covered by a mob of people. I turned around and made a quick escape west across the Loop, but by then my left foot, which I injured in a bizarre jumping accident a few days ago, started bothering me. I was planning on spending my holiday tomorrow on a long ride north, but I'm not sure how that's going to work; I'll have to see how I feel in the morning. Until then, it's ice packs and Advil!

Friday, July 4, 2003 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 34.9 miles

Happy 4th of July! Today I met up with Melissa, another OTS devotee who happens to be training for a triathlon. We rode a sort of epic loop around the north suburbs: from the North Branch Trail to the Green Bay Trail to the Skokie sculpture garden. I wasn't able to put much pressure on my foot, but it was fine for most of this ride and I think the circulation might have been good for it. Oh, and it was hot! I'm not sure how accurate this is, but my cyclocomputer read 114 at one point.

The Tour starts tomorrow! We'll soon get to see Ullrich, Beloki, Simoni, and Hamilton in the event they've prepared for all year. Oh, and that guy from Texas, what's his name...

Sunday, July 6, 2003 at 8:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 28 minutes
Distance: 24.4 miles

Well, a morning ride is always nice. No matter what else happens today, I'll know that I had my fun time! I rode down to Promontory Point, going pretty hard and basically ignoring my foot. At one point there was some sort of charity walk taking up the whole path, so I went "cross country" in the grass beside the bike path for about a quarter of a mile. C'est la vie.

At last, the Tour de France started yesterday! Tyler beat Lance by a second, at sixth and seventh place respectively, but what about Victor Hugo Pena in fifth? Postal also placed Ekimov and Hincapie (!) in the top 15. Meanwhile, Ullrich, Beloki, and Botero were all within ten seconds of the winner, and Simoni clocked in at only 13 seconds down. It's going to be a great race!

Thursday, July 10, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 23 minutes
Distance: 20 miles

Well, this was not one of my better rides. I encountered lots of traffic, stiff knees, rain for about half of the ride, and every possible red light as I raced back into town to make a dinner meeting. I guess the nice parts were seeing a cute rabbit in the sculpture garden, and riding past a family picking mulberries from a tree near the North Shore Channel. That doesn't quite balance out the dirty bike and gritty chain that I know have to clean up.

Saturday, July 19, 2003 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 42 minutes
Distance: 27.4 miles

I've never been too excited by Jan Ullrich, but I admit that the 1997 Tour de France winner inspired my ride today. He's had a fantastic weekend, with a win in the Tour's first individual time trial on Friday, and a surprising second place in the Pyrenees today. He's now down on Lance by only 15 seconds and, as the VeloNews commentators pointed out, he'd be in the yellow jersey if it weren't for the team time trial. Whew! Meanwhile, I cranked down to Promontory Point at a good tempo, then turned off at Grand and took Elston up to Diversey. I was feeling pretty low on energy, but my foot is almost back to normal, and overall it was fairly easy to fantasize about being a Euro-pro hammering into some small Belgian town on the way to a stage victory.

Thursday, July 24, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 22 minutes
Distance: 21.6 miles

All right! I took a nap rather than a ride last night after work, so I was full of energy tonight. A tailwind riding north to the sculpture garden further improved my mood, so I was riding as hard and fast as I have in a while. Then, thanks to a couple well-placed hints about my itinerary, my sweetie intercepted me near Howard Avenue with a warm smile and some cold water. I took a little break there, but had to keep rolling pretty soon to get home by dusk.

One of the nice things about this ride is that I had great luck with stoplights both up and back. The best I can hope for, though, is the rare opportunity to sail through the massive, three-way intersection at Lincoln, Ashland, and Belmont. Tonight I saw the light turn green from two blocks away and started hammering -- but then a car pulled out in front of me and I had to slow down. It was still green, so I accelerated again -- moved up a gear and thought I had it -- then a cop on Ashland turned on his siren and tooled across the intersection just as the light changed. I had to brake so hard my back wheel was sliding, and I came to a stop just at the crosswalk. Rats! I did get to buzz through a green -- okay, yellow -- turning left onto Diversey a few blocks later, so that was a good consolation prize.

Okay, time for dinner and a big smoothie....

Wednesday, July 30, 2003 at 5:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 28 minutes
Distance: 24 miles

Today I took a somewhat unusual route: north on Elston, east on Lawrence, south on the Lakefront, then across the Loop and back on Elston again. For most of the Lawrence segment, I was leapfrogging the same large, white SUV. It was carrying a Middle Eastern family with three little boys in the back seat who were delighted to see me every time they passed me or I passed them. It was a great workout -- they'd drive on ahead and I'd write them off; then I'd see them at a stoplight in the distance and pick up the pace, whizzing past as the light turned green, with big smiles all around when they caught up to me again. Sometimes I'd even hear them in the back seat: "Here he comes!" For the record, I reached LSD first, where they turned off and I entered the park for the next segment of a hot, windy, fun ride.

Sunday, August 3, 2003 at 8:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 24 minutes
Distance: 24.5 miles

Above average ride, beautiful day -- 82 degrees, very little wind, no clouds. I rode to Promontory Point and the lakefront path wasn't too congested at this time of day. Mostly uneventful, but I did see a rollerblading team ... at least 20 people in matching jerseys and shorts, all riding very quickly. They were going the same direction I was, so I passed a few lone stragglers first, and actually thought it was the same guy who kept somehow getting ahead of me; then I figured out it was a team. When I finally came to the head of the group, there were nine or ten riding together in a pack, just like a cycling team. They were going about 15 mph, with quite a rattle of wheels, shouting, and arms and legs flying everywhere. It makes sense, but I've never seen anything quite like it!

Thursday, August 14, 2003 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 23.5 miles

Yikes, I haven't ridden for a while! So I left work a bit early so I'd have time to go all the way north to Green Bay Road through the sculpture garden. I was feeling pretty good, and got a great workout on the second half, repeatedly chasing down a mountain biker who kept leapfrogging me by running every stoplight. There were two odd things about this ride: 1) some big clouds came up and obscured the sun, which made it to dark for sunglasses already at 7:00, and 2) I was recently prescribed a retainer to wear to help with a TMJ condition, and I tried wearing that during the ride. It was no more distracting than any other time of the day, and fortunately "on your left" doesn't contain an S, so my lisp wasn't too apparent.

Friday, August 15, 2003 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 48 miles

The good: one of the longer rides I've had in a while. The bad: the wind changed direction on me; I had a headwind both ways! The ugly: the guy in the huge pickup who pushed me out of the bike lane on Elston while using it as a passing lane. The funny: the young Hispanic woman in the Honda who rolled down her window and chewed him out on my behalf. The impressive: after realizing I might be late for an evening class, I rode the second half nearly 15 minutes faster than the first half. The unfortunate: although now I'll make it to the class on time, I'd really prefer to lie flat on my back for a while!

Friday, August 20, 2003 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 44 minutes
Distance: 24.5 miles

Tonight Melissa brought her bike over and I took her on a ride to Promontory Point, which has become my favorite weeknight ride this summer. She told me she had been secretly swearing at me during the first part of the ride, but we had fun cranking up the hills on the way back. The path was relatively uncrowded and it was nice to be outside. She's riding in the Chicago Triathalon this weekend, so I'll be down there again soon as a spectator.

Saturday, August 23, 2003 at 9:15 am

Duration: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 71.6 miles

"I don't believe in miracles, I RELY on them."

That was the bumper sticker of a huge, rattling pickup truck that came flying through an intersection at one point during today's ride and nearly knocked me over. Yikes!

Anyway, Josh and I finally got together today to ride out to the Great Western Trail as part of his ongoing triathlon training. He's preparing for a 56 mile bike segment in a few weeks, and I had suggested this ride a while ago thinking it was the same distance. It didn't quite go according to plan.

The first problem is that Josh needed to borrow a wheel, so he rode to my place first, which added 7 miles each way to his ride. But we started off and felt good after 30 miles or so. Then, however, my loaner wheel went flat on him, so we repaired that ... got back into our rhythm again, but then noticed that Josh had lost two of the bolts holding his cleats on. We stopped at a bike shop: "Do you have cleats for Look pedals?" "Nope." "Uh ... do you have bolts for cleats for Look pedals?" "No, we don't carry any of that stuff." We did, however, hear 20 minutes of "When I was a kid" stories while the mechanic ate a huge hamburger and our legs stiffened up.

Finally we got out the door and headed to another bike shop two miles down the road, where we got some cleats and cold drinks and topped off the air in the repaired tire ... but by the time everything was straightened out, we'd been stopped for an hour and Josh was starting to feel the effects of his previous night's drinking. Oops! We still had about 20 miles to go, but he was at 56 miles for the day -- exactly his target distance -- so we decided that he'd call home for a ride and I'd continue on.

I hated to leave him, but I wanted to get home and work on a project, and he had a nice park to chill in while waiting for his wife. As it turned out, I had a great last hour of riding (despite a varied headwind) -- I even had the energy to race a bus on Lincoln and dive for the stoplight at Belmont (which I narrowly missed) -- and when I got home, I called Josh's cell phone to make sure he'd been picked up okay, and he had.

So, a good, long ride for a good summer day. Josh and I might try again before his race, and he says he's contemplating a beer boycott until that's over!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 08 minutes
Distance: 16.7 miles

If last weekend's ride was all about the open trail, today was the ultimate city ride. I altered my triangle route a bit and took Halsted to North (instead of Grand), Milwaukee (instead of Elston) to Lawrence, and Lincoln (instead of the lakefront) back home. It was a pretty nice evening, but the cars were crazy all the way, and for one stretch on Milwaukee around Montrose, the road was abominable.

That part was a little funny, actually. There was one narrow strip of pavement, with a big, dug-out pit of gravel on either side, and as long as I was on the pavement the cars couldn't very easily squeeze past. Finally the guy right behind me started honking, and after pointing out the alternatives, I finally conceded and pulled off into the pit so he could pass. However, when we came to a stoplight not 50 yards later, I couldn't help pulling ahead of him again! Oh well, he turned left at that point, so we didn't get to do it all again.

My, but it is getting dark earlier. I had to take off my sunglasses for the last half of the ride, and fortunately didn't encounter any bugs or other airborne objects. I was having fun, though, feeling a summer's worth of fitness in my legs, and am looking forward to another long ride or two this weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 29 minutes
Distance: 24.7 miles

Aw yeah ... I started out after a rough day at work today with the goal of just enjoying being outdoors, with no thought of speed or distance. But then I ended up heading all the way down to Promontory Point, where I was rewarded with a spectacular view of the city as the sun was starting to set. Then on the way back, I noticed a guy keeping pace a few dozen yards behind me, so my competitive spirit kicked in and I ended up picking up the speed until Navy Pier. By that time I was feeling just plain good, so I kept cruising up the lakefront path, enjoying the cool lake breeze. And the ride ended with two perfect green lights -- climbing up the hill at Clark and Diversey and sailing through on the tail of a VW Beetle convertible, then passing a right-turning Toyota a half block from Halsted and sailing through that one, as well. Whee!

Monday, September 1, 2003 at 9:15 am

Duration: 3 hours, 28 minutes
Distance: 55.6 miles

It's not very often that I'll head out for a ride when it's raining steadily and expected to continue doing so all day. But Josh's big triathlon is in just two weeks, and we had planned on doing another long ride today, so we talked last night and decided to go for it. Good thing, too -- he rode really strongly, especially toward the end. I had to really grit my teeth to keep up for the last 10 miles. Hopefully the strong finish will be a great mental boost for his race preparation.

It was a nice ride in other ways, too. The rain fell for all but 45 minutes or so in the middle, and was the heaviest in the last hour; but once you get used to the idea of getting wet, that's kind of fun. I counted 11 deer in the forest preserve that we rode through. And the worst part, cleaning up afterwards, went pretty quickly, I think because the workstand I picked up last winter just makes it easier to get into all the small parts.

I need to stop by a running store and ask about this: lately I've been noticing that runners like to run right down the middle of a bike path, right on the centerline. It's as if someone told them that was the right way to do it, just like some people ride their bikes on the left side of the road because they were taught (incorrectly) that way. Anyway, just as we began our ride, at the famous totem pole on the lakefront path, a quite old woman came walking our way, exactly down the middle. We hesitated for a moment, then I went around her on one side and Josh on the other. As we came around, she screwed up her face and said, "Watch where you're going." Josh and I both, defensively, called back, "But you're walking right down the middle of the path." As we rode around the corner we heard her yell, "That's where I belong!!!" So, I don't know what's up with that, but I hope to find out soon.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 5, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

If I had a ranking system for my rides, this one would be at the bottom. Blech! Yes, my Tyler Hamilton-inspired CSC jersey finally arrived today, but it was really too cold for short sleeves so that was the first problem. Next, Diversey was torn up for road construction, so I had to take a weird detour to get where I was going. Worst of all, I decided to take the red bike out today, since it matched my jersey so nicely ... but its cleats and my shoes weren't copasetic and I had to deal with an awful squeaking sound throughout the ride. Finally, the cyclocomputer cut out for a while in the middle, so the time and distance shown here are estimates.

The other reason for taking the red bike is that I had recently installed my old Scott aero bars onto that, thinking I was going to try my first triathlon this month. That didn't work out because of a schedule conflict, but I wanted to spend a little time getting reacquainted with the aero position anyway. Whew! I was pretty shaky at first, but each time I got down there I immediately picked up about 1 1/2 miles an hour. I think that had as much to do with the shifted pedaling position and the general excitement of the situation, but the speed increase was undeniable. That was interesting, then, because as a pure road cyclist who hasn't raced in years, I've taken aerodynamics for granted and tend to measure my performance by the bursts of power I'm capable of rather than the sustained effort I can withstand. Getting into that crouch and trying to keep a steady effort for an hour would be a different matter indeed. But I can imagine that being fun; tonight I was able to hold 28 mph on a straightaway with a tailwind; I've rarely seen that riding on the brake hoods.

Anyway, I'll try to get out again this weekend and it will definitely be back to the green bike for now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003 at 5:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 32.8 miles

I was wrapped up in some computer programming this afternoon and almost didn't ride, but whew, I'm glad I did. It was a perfect late summer evening, right down to the veggie dogs and Too Much Joy for dinner. And I felt wayyy cool in my CSC jersey, back on the green bike.

I've been noticing this summer that my fast efforts are usually limited not by shortness of breath but by pain in my legs, and that has been a little odd. Tonight, though, I only felt leg pain at the normal times, and was able to ride up to a very fast-breathing level of intensity. I wonder what I did right this week to make that difference. Am I better fed (Thai noodles for the last two nights)? Better rested (haven't ridden for five days)? What causes leg pain, anyway? Lactic acid, but I've rarely ridden above my anaerobic threshold this summer. Maybe this was just a shorter ride than the ones where I've noticed the leg pains. Hmm. Oh well, I rode fast and had fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2003 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 19.8 miles

Whoa ... I rode to the sculpture garden tonight ... left at the usual time, and rode the usual distance (a bit less, actually) but it was completely dark by the time I got back. It's so warm that it's easy to forget, summer is winding down!

Anyway, I'm really relishing these late summer rides. The temperature is perfect and I'm in my best shape of the year. Tonight, however, I couldn't pay attention to much but getting home safely for the second half of the ride. Oh well ... I have Friday off, so if the weather stays nice, I'll get a longer ride in then.

Friday, September 21, 2003 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 5 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 85.2 miles

Hey, this was an epic ride! I think this is the longest I've ever ridden without stopping (e.g. no snack breaks), and the longest I've ever ridden without a group or a partner. And it didn't feel half bad! Actually, I was anxious for much of the ride because I left later than usual and knew I'd get back after dark; but that actually motivated me to keep the pace relatively high for the entire distance, and I ended up with an average speed that compares favorably to some of my shorter rides.

Anyway, I rode to the top of the forest preserve, then kept going north to find the Skokie Valley Bikeway. From there I found the North Shore path, and took that west to the Des Plains River path, and then headed back. So, three new bike paths in one day! Unfortunately, the first had terrible pavement and the second and third were limestone -- the third was also extremely curvy, so I had to ride the breaks a lot and almost laid it down in one corner. I think it's mainly a mountain bike trail, so I was freaking out the mountain bikers on my carbon fiber road bike! At one point, the forest preserve path was closed, too, with a detour onto an adjacent mountain bike trail, so I think my wheels need a good truing after this.

I'm a little surprised that my energy lasted, since I didn't eat particularly well yesterday. I brought along some prunes, some graham crackers, and a Clif bar, and that was all the fuel I needed. The weather was cool, so I only brought one water bottle, but I did wish I had a bit more than that. Otherwise, everything was fine. If it hadn't been so dark when I got back, I would have kept going and made it a hundred! Well, this might have been my swan song for this fall, but now I have that to look forward to for next year!

Sunday, September 28, 2003 at 9:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 13 miles

Oh, man, how far I've fallen since my big ride last weekend. A combination of poor weather and some unexpected personal problems this week meant my good intentions of riding went unfulfilled, and this is my first time on the bike in nine days. And it wasn't the best ride, either. I can't explain it, but I also can't deny it -- riding in the cold just isn't as fun. I don't have the motivation to push myself, either in speed or distance -- I just put in a decent short ride and come home. Oh well ... I'm afraid I will have to rearrange my priorities for the winter pretty soon anyway. But it is a shame to have good fitness and not maintain it.

Since it's so hard to select the right clothing for cold weather, I'm going to start logging my choices here for future reference:

Conditions: 48, wind chill 43; cloudy; I think it was really higher, though Clothes: cotton undershirt, long underwear top and bottom, insulated jersey, wind jacket, long gloves, hat, booties Corrections: I could have done without the long underwear and possibly the booties; I was comfy from the start and quickly heated up; I took my jacket off after a few miles and that was closer

Monday, October 6, 2003 at 9:15 am

Duration: 0 hours, 47 minutes
Distance: 11.9

Greetings from Hamilton, Ontario! I arrived last night with my bike, camera, and a week-long grandstand pass.

This morning we had a magic window between 9:00, when the race course was closed to traffic, and 10:00, when it was opened to the racers for warm-ups, so I headed out despite the 40-degree weather to give it a go. The only thing better than riding alone on an eight-lane expressway that's completely closed to traffic is riding alone on an eight-lane expressway that will be a part of cycling history in a few days' time.

Two things became immediately apparent when I entered the course: 1) the local police and volunteers had no idea I was just a fan and not an elite, international racer, and 2) they were immensely proud of their town and their work in creating the course. With that in mind, I took every opportunity to smile, nod, or tell them I'd been looking forward to this race, hoping that they'd all go home and tell their families, "Those cyclists are so nice!"

The course has a few tough hills that I might have gone up more slowly if I hadn't been afraid of blowing my cover with the volunteers. They clapped and smiled and occasionally said, "Welcome," or "Good luck," and had I been a bit more mischevious I would have replied with "Gracias" or "Merci beaucoup." Ah, but I'm too honest. I think the photographers knew better, but many of them practiced their shots on me as I went by. Right at 10:00, however, the real racers started appearing -- I climbed St. James hill behind a dozen riders in Banesto trade uniforms and in front of two Aussies who were groaning and shouting about the steep incline. As the number of racers -- and team cars -- increased, and finally when an entire squadron of motorbikes went by (with one Irish rider sprinting like a madman for their draft), I figured I'd better get off the course.

I had planned to keep riding on some of Hamilton's bike trails after my preview, but the huge pasta dinner I ate last night in anticipation is actually working against me. Blech. I guess I'll take a warm shower and then walk down to the course to watch the warm-ups for a while.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003 at 6:00 pm

Duration: NA
Distance: NA

This wasn't actually a ride, but since I was around bikes all day (and walked about ten miles), I figured I'd go ahead and log it. Racing at the 2003 World Cycling Championships started today, with Junior Women's and Under-23 Men's Time Trials. Those weren't the most exciting races (I hadn't heard of a single rider), but it was a great opportunity to try everything out and get to know the course better.

I started with a long walk past the team tents, where not much exciting was happening, then grabbed a perfect spot across from the start house to watch the first few riders take off. From there, I got to see how team cars are recycled (when they return from following one rider around the course, they pull into the back of the line where organizers stick a different rider's name onto the hood). After a while, I headed down the course in the direction of travel, with the thought of eventually cutting across to the other side and heading back to the bleachers. However, the Beckett Street climb beckoned, so I headed halfway up that and watched the women, and eventually the men, cruise up that hill for a while. After listening to a marshall and her friend, both women, engage in serious bike-geek talk for some time, I couldn't resist joining the conversation. I learned that the effort to bring the World's to Hamilton was five years old, that Zabel was considered a favorite after winning Paris-Tours last weekend, and that George Hincapie was in town and had hit on at least one Junior Women's rider.

Rather than heading down the way I came, the marshall pointed me to a path through the woods that would come out at the top of the descent on the other side. Cool! It was a longer trail than I expected, but quite beautiful, and gave me time to contemplate the difference in attitudes toward the outdoors between Americans and Canadians. The trail ended at the very top of the big Claremont Access climb, which will surely play a decisive role in the road race, but a side trip down a mysterious staircase led me to the middle of the descent on Upper James Street. After being conditioned to seek spots on difficult climbs for prime race viewing, I was surprised to find that watching riders swoop down this curved decent and make a wide left turn toward the finish line was surely more exciting, especially for the spectators who might not appreciate gear ratios but can sure appreciate sheer speed. While sitting in the grass to enjoy that experience for a while, an old man who lived near by sat down to chat, asked me all about my trip, and told me about his work to help create the Bruce Trail, a 500-mile hiking trail from Hamilton to the Hudson Bay area.

Eventually I said goodbye to this friendly fellow and headed back down the hill to the start/finish area, where I figured out the wristband rules and took my seat among a group of noisy Italian fans. When the last rider crossed the line, the announcer read off the names of the top three, and the fans immediately filed down the stairs to watch the awards ceremony on the podium directly across from our seats. As three traditionally-dressed Mounties raised the flags of the medalists, and school children in First Nations and other costumes presented the awards, I noticed a tough-looking group of Belgians standing just on the other side of the crowd barrier in front of me. I recognized the white-haired director of the QuickStep team, and read "Wilfred Peters" from the name tag of the other, which made it fairly clear that the closest one, with his back to me, was none other than Classics star Johann Museeuw. Although the Italians were unimpressed, an official photographer clung to Johann for dear life and even took one head-on portrait that probably had me in the background. Hmm, pretty cool. But I wouldn't want to race against them -- those dudes looked tough!

Wednesday, October 8 at 10:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 34.1

All right, I'm starting to settle into the local routine here, and decided to skip the Junior Men's Time Trial this morning to take another ride. From a Hamilton bike map, I transcribed a ridiculously convoluted series of twists and turns that would take me on a decent tour of the city. Thanks to some well-placed bike route signs along the way, I actually managed to follow it, through a forested park, past waterfalls along the Niagra escarpment, along the Lake Ontario shore, then across the north side of town to Dundun Castle. At that point, I had planned to turn west out of town and try my luck with some long climbs up and down the escarpment, but the day was already getting away from me, and a couple short climbs in the city suggested that, although I felt quite good on the flats, I wasn't ready for a series of two-mile climbs.

So, I truncated my ride and headed back towards my B&B, aiming toward the time trial course and planning to watch for as long as it took to eat a banana before continuing. When I reached the course, however, it was an irresistably charming scene. A volunteer marshall and two bike-mounted police officers guarded one corner while, across the street, a teenage girl called out the name and nationality of every rider to pass by ("with apologies for pronunciation"). She was also logging all the split times in a notebook, "maybe for a school project," and planned to continue performing that duty all week. Beside the girl was a small contingent of Italians, who attempted to shout "Go!" in the native language of each rider, resisted the marshall's idea that a Canadian rider was gaining serious time on an Italian who preceded him, and assured me that the Squadra Italia would work faithfully for Bettini in the road race. Behind us, the neighborhood kids played in a wide, normally busy street that was closed at both ends for the race. The atmosphere was so nice that I stayed until the end of the men's race, then rode back, cutting across the course once more and receiving cheers from some old ladies who thought I was the last rider coming through.

After a shower and Clif bar, I headed downtown to watch the Elite Women's Time Trial from the bleachers. Starting the riders approximately in order from slowest to fastest is a cruel but effective technique, since many riders are able to set "the best time so far" and hold it for five minutes or so before a bigger star knocks them down in the results. A Canadian, and then an American, held the lead for a few tantalizing moments each, only to be pushed out of the medals by a Spaniard, a German, and a Czech. Or was it a Swiss? Actually, I can't remember, because at the awards ceremony the buzz among some Italian fans drew my attention to the presence of Felice Gimondi, standing three feet in front of us. The 1965 Tour de France winner looked exactly like he did in the portrait included in an article I had read about him the night before! Nobody asked for autographics, nor did I, but after bantering for a few moments about who knows what, one Italian fan sheepishly pulled out a camera and the champion obliged with a calm gaze into the lens.

Tomorrow we get our first fireworks: the Elite Men's Time Trial. I don't actually know who the favorites are, but I'm sure the energy level will go up several notches when the pros come on the scene. Open practice on the road course in the morning should give us some good looks at the road race contenders, too.

Thursday, October 9 at 6:45 pm

Duration: NA
Distance: NA

This is another non-riding day, but I'm still at the World's, so I'm still writing daily reports. Today was the first pro race, the Elite Men's Time Trial. I'll cut to the chase and say that David Millar won, making it look quite easy, in fact. In the excitement, I didn't even notice the second and third places, but Uwe Peschel and Michael Rogers were up there. Ekimov finished around sixth and Julich and Leipheimer finished right next to each other around tenth place. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was flying toward a fifth place finish until he crashed out, stunning the grandstand crowd into silence for a few long moments.

Perhaps more interesting than the race, however, was hanging out near the team tents during the training period in the morning. Most of the big stars had arrived, and I got to watch riders such as these hanging out with their coaches and pals: Oscar Sevilla, Oscar Friere, Victor Hugo Peľa, Manuel Beltran, Ivan Basso, Fransesco Casegrande, Dario Frigo, Giovanni Lombardi, Paolo Bettini, Johann Museeuw, Erik Zabel, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer, and Christian van de Velde. And I was as much or more fascinated by the team directors and staff: Manolo Saiz, Bjarne Riis, Neil Stephens. Although I snapped lots of photos, I didn't call out for any autographs; that privilege seemed best reserved for those who could pronounce the names correctly, then banter casually with the riders in their native tongues. I did wish, though, that I had taken the advice of a small boy who was proudly carrying Bjarne Riis's autograph and told me where the CSC team director was hanging out, once I got home and realized that the CSC cap I had been wearing would have provided the perfect place for an autograph. But when I saw the Devil of Tour de France fame wandering through a parking lot after the race, all shyness immediately left me and I chased him down for a photo. (He seemed crabby and out of sorts but flashed that mischievous Devil smile for the camera.)

The day started out with a little bit of a fright when I disembarked from my typical one-hour bus ride downtown and then realized I had left my grandstand ticket at the B&B. Would I watch the race without it? Or when would be the best time to spend two more hours in transit? Finally I decided to withdraw a handful of cash and head to the nearest hotel, where I found a taxicab that had me right back to the start/finish area, with ticket in hand, in under 45 minutes. Whew!

And the day ended on a note of dry humor when the new World Time Trial Champion David Millar explained his victory this way in a post-race interview: "I'm happy with the result because I deserved to win today. I'm certainly the most consistent time trialist in the world." The race fan next to me added, "I'm certainly the most consistent -dick-."

Friday, October 10 at 11:00 pm

Duration: NA
Distance: NA

All right, today I finally achieved my long-standing goal of visiting Toronto! I took the day off from the races and drove over, which was really a snap. Fort York was on my short list of things to see, so I first parked there and spent about an hour dodging school groups and exploring the buildings. Then I drove over by Union Station, left my car at the first all-day lot I could find, and started walking. (Ooh, and did I ever walk ... I owe my feet a big apology right now.) I had been advised to explore Queen, King, and Yonge streets, so I started at Queen and Yonge, then walked east on Queen, past City Hall, the Hudson Bay Company, and down a long row of cool restaurants. Following a tip from an online vegetarian directory, I had a great little lunch at Fresh Juice for Life, then kept walking. At Bathurst I turned south to King and then headed back to Yonge.

At that point I gave the subway a try and rode northwest to Dupont and visited Casa Loma. That seemed delightfully weird from my guidebook, and it didn't disappoint. After an hour there (that's all I had before closing time), I took the subway again to Bloor/Yonge and started my long walk south on Yonge street. Indian restaurants! Thai restaurants! Record stores! Used clothing stores! This part of Toronto felt more like Madison's State Street than Chicago to me, until I reached College or so, where it started to feel like a cross between Madison and Times Square in New York. Anyway, feeling somewhat ashamed of my relatively boring attire, I picked out a few shirts at the snazzy Dumo, then headed into Eaton Centre and picked up a sweater at Roots. At that point I decided it was finally time to eat, and planned to stop at the next Indian restaurant I saw. Of course, that's when all the Indian restaurants disappeared, and I made it all the way back to Queen street without seeing any. Sigh ... so I headed back, and walked all the way back to College where I finally stopped at a Himalayan place called Kathmandu. (Sorry, feet!)

After dinner I thought I would walk until my feet gave up, then catch a cab back to my car, but I ended up walking all the way back. I took Bay rather than Yonge for a fantastic nighttime view of City Hall and Nicholas Square, where, interestingly enough, a film crew was shooting scenes involving a helicopter crashing on top of City Hall, and a man falling from the 20-something storey roof. I sat, along with other curious onlookers, and watched the stuntman fall from the roof (through the aid of cables and pulleys) in slow motion, doing an odd sort of front crawl motion, four or five times. Then I snapped a few nighttime photos and returned to my car.

I've often written here about people who cross the street without looking up, and today I unfortunately saw the worst outcome of that. On King Street I noticed a young woman walking toward me, with her head down, doing something with her cell phone. As she came past me, she veered off the curb and started crossing the street -- head still down -- right into the path of a speeding taxicab. He didn't hit her head-on, but there was a pretty loud BANG and she went sprawling to the ground. She was able to stand up and wasn't bleeding, and the cab driver stopped immediately to help ... but within moments, a couple businessmen had taken over the care of the woman, had decided the cab driver was at fault, and had begun admonishing him with clenched fists and insults as they fondled the woman to make sure she was okay. As an eye witness, I would have to say that both parties were at fault -- the woman for stepping suddenly into the street, the cabbie for driving too fast -- so I ended up feeling pretty sick, not from the proximity to what could have been a much more serious accident, but from the automatic response from the other bystanders of placing all the blame on the hapless, immigrant cab driver and giving all the help and sympathy to the attractive, white woman. The cab driver tried meekly at one point to explain the situation, but neither his English nor his conscience was up to the task. And I sure wasn't going to walk over and accuse the poor woman of carelessness as she stood there sobbing and in shock. I figured I'd better let the locals do it their way and walk away. On two other occasions after that, though, I noticed pedestrians going out of their way to yell at cab drivers, so I wonder what kind of immigration pressures and/or series of accidents has caused this level of tension.

Anyway, I guess there's nothing at all about bikes in this report, sorry! I'll be back on track tomorrow with the Junior Men's and Elite Women's road races!

Saturday, October 11 at 9:00 pm

Duration: NA
Distance: NA

I got back to racing today with my first World Championship road races. I arrived downtown with the junior men's race underway, and watched the remainder of that race from the grandstand. Whew, what a perfect display of textbook team tactics! A group of five went clear with a few laps to go, including one Dutch rider. Before long, however, a second Dutch rider made a powerful effort and bridged to the breakaway, making two Dutch riders in a group of six. The advantage of that situation became immediately apparent, because the two teammates wasted no time in launching alternating attacks against the group -- and not only that, but as soon as the attacking Dutch rider was caught, he went right onto the wheel of the rider who caught him. They spared no effort, but wasted none, either. Anyway, the first attack dropped two riders (including an American), leaving the odds at 2 for 4, guaranteeing one Dutch medal no matter what. But those guys weren't going to settle for third -- they kept attacking until one got away for good, and soloed across the line. The other three were caught by the pack and Denmark and the Czech Republic rounded out the podium. Bravo!

Tactics in the women's race were a bit more subtle -- and risky. It was a fairly quiet race with a couple short-lived breaks in the first half. I believe it was lap five where I saw Jeannie Longo, the 45-year old multiple world and Olympic champion and possibly the greatest female cyclist of all time, come to the front and majestically lead the entire pack of the Claremont Access. That's when I scooted down the mountain to watch the finale from the grandstand. Whew! Before long, Longo was off alone, and had as much as 20 or 30 seconds on the pack. Nobody seemed to be leading the chase, but the pack wasn't slouching, either; although she took back time on each climb, Longo's lead eventually fell to ten seconds. On the last climb, she seemed to slow -- was she giving up? No, a close-up from a motorbike camera showed her continuing the climb powerfully. But cresting the Claremont Access for the last time, the Jumbotron showed the difficult truth for this courageous rider: a four-second lead over a group of six that had separated from the front of the pack. As the road turned downhill and the chasers came within striking distance, she rose from her tuck and seemed to flick her elbow in resignation, then shifted gears ... and the crowd groaned. The chasers slowed ... and Longo cranked it. In what was possibly the highlight of my week, a fan a few seats down yelled, "She shifted UP!" Indeed, the chase was on down the roller coaster descent of Upper James Road.

The next few moments were something of a blur. Longo was caught by the chase group, but before anyone had a chance to think through the implications for a bunch sprint, the riders were around the final bend with the first three locked into a head-to-head charge for the line. In a somewhat bumpy finish, defending champion Susanne Ljungskog from Sweden took it by a wheel, and Longo crossed a few seconds after the chase group and a few seconds before the pack. The winner diffused the lingering tension from this exciting finale when she recounted the last kilometer in her post-race interview: "We didn't think we could catch Longo, but when my group took the lead I thought, 'Oh shit, how is this going to work?'" Beautiful.

I've taken a lot of photos this week, but I've often wished I could capture some of the memorable sounds around me just as easily. Walking through the crowds around the race course has led to some keepers, although I'm sorry to say that I haven't kept most of them. But here's one -- a mother explaining race mechanics to her young daughter: "You see, over here are the team tents. If a rider has a problem with his bike, he just rides back here, and then his teammates help him fix it."

Sunday, October 12 at 6:00 pm

Duration: NA
Distance: NA

Hello! I'm sorry to say that my week at the World's is nearly over. Today was the big one, the elite men's road race. I'll just be relaxing and packing tonight, and driving home in the morning.

But what about the race?! Well, I made an early start today, rising at 5:00 to catch an early bus, and was downtown before the sun came up. But sure enough, there were plenty of interesting things to see, and since the course wasn't secured yet, I could get up close and personal. I and a few other early birds got to wander through the team area, watching grim-faced mechanics prepare the bikes, walk across the finish line and read some clever messages that appeared in chalk on the road overnight, and watch the relatively quiet arrivals of the first riders. One charming part here is that the local elementary students created posters for their favorite countries, and those posters were hanging from the entrances of each team tent. (Poor Beylarus had no supporters among the Hamilton elementary school population, but Italy and the USA had quite a few contributions.)

After getting caught up in the enthusiasm of David Millar's and the US team's arrivals, I headed over to the grandstand to watch the start, but that was my only spectatorial mistake of the week -- at ten minutes to lift-off, there was a line a block long at the grandstand entrance. Rats! I went back over the pedestrian bridge and pushed my face against a fence to watch the riders roll out.

After the race was underway, I headed up the hill at Beckett Avenue, to a spot I had visited a couple times earlier in the week, and had some great views of the peloton climbing slowly and calmly (and taking "nature breaks") for the first few laps. Then I used Bruce Trail to cross over to the top of Claremont Access (which most people quickly Europeanized to "the Claremont") and watched a few more laps on the Jumbotron. At the halfway point, I walked back down on the back side of the course and stopped to buy a veggie dog and a t-shirt before taking my seat in the grandstand.

Up until this point, the main action was a three-man break with Columbia's (and U.S. Postal's) Victor Hugo Peľa and two others, which stayed away for several laps and had as much as a three-minute gap. That break was over when I took my seat, but a couple other small breaks followed, including a pretty good solo effort by the USA's Chris Horner with a few laps to go. Some folks in the stands were calling him a favorite at that point, but I figured he was a decoy for George Hincapie, who had been sitting in a good position in the main group, along with a few teammates, for the whole race. But when Bettini tested the group with a quick jump with three laps to go, the atmosphere suddenly turned electric.

The next time up the Claremont, a group of six somehow moved off the front. I'm not sure who instigated it, and it never seemed to function well together, but it was an all-star break and moved as much as 25 seconds clear on the penultimate lap. The break included: Bettini (Italy), van Petegem (Belgium), Astarloa (Spain), Hamburger (Denmark), Boogerd (Holland), and Oscar Camenzind (Switzerland). That's six countries that presumably wouldn't chase, so it looked good for the group! It didn't look very good for the USA, however, because despite having at least three team members in the first part of the main group, I don't believe they ever led the chase. Doh! Germany did, and reeled in the haphazard lead group while climbing the Claremont for the last time.

As the pack nipped the heels of the break, Astarloa made a perfectly timed solo attack out of the lead group, and sped away just as the pack slowed down to digest the rest of the break. He opened up a 100 meter gap, then 120, and kept widening the lead over the crest of the climb. I was sure he'd be caught, though -- after all, Jeannie Longo was reeled in from a similar lead on the final descent yesterday. But the Spanish rider pulled it off! He descended expertly and cruised across the line for a solo victory several seconds ahead of the pack. And the sprint for second? Another Spaniard, Valverde, stole that honor from van Petegem and Bettini. The Italians, who had been at the front for most of the race, were understandably perturbed for finishing outside of the medals.

It will be interesting to read what the riders have to say about this race. On the one hand, the peloton remained remarkably intact over the 21 laps of the course (the attrition rate is usually quite high at the World's), but on the other hand, there were very few attacks from the race favorites, and the most significant break of the day seemed to be treated casually by both the break's members and the chasing pack. Astarloa surely rode the best race today, but I think a lot of people are wondering tonight, what happened to the Italians, the Americans, the Germans? Ah well, there will be no such worries for the Spanish fans!

Saturday, October 18, 2003 at 2:30 pm

Distance: 21.5 miles
Duration: 1 hours, 34 minutes

Today I went for a ride with Melissa, who was still recovering from the Chicago Marathon last week, so the word was "slow." No matter, I wasn't feeling quite myself, either. But the autumn leaves were piling up along the path in the forest preserve, and does and fawns were easy to spot down around the river, so it was a nice day to be out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003 at 4:30 pm

Distance: 24.4 miles
Duration: 1 hours, 31 minutes

Well, this is it -- my last Daylight Saving Time ride of 2003! I left work an hour early and took a quick spin to Promontory Point, turning my blinkers on for the dusky ride back.

Thursday, October 30, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Distance: 24.4 miles
Duration: 1 hours, 26 minutes

Hot damn! Just when I thought I was consigned to the windtrainer until spring, I had one of the most amazing rides of the year. Yes, it's dark at 5:00 now, but we had a freakishly warm 70 degree day today, and it was still over 65 when I left work at 6:00. Could it be ... a nighttime ride? I came home, ate some supper, waited for traffic to settle down, then donned my Euro-gear, turned on the blinkers, and gave it a go. Wow! I rode from Fullerton Beach to Navy Pier without touching the brakes, cruising at 20 mph into the wind. So far so good, so I just kept going, crunching into the wind all the way to Promontory Point, and only seeing maybe a half dozen other people on the path. When I got down there and turned around, the familiar/unfamiliar view of the city reminded me instantly of my younger days as an astronomy buff -- seeing the Loop from down there was like focusing on a star cluster through a telescope. But that wasn't as breathtaking as the ride home -- with the wind, no obstructions, big ring all the way. I was able to ride at 20-22 steadily without trying, and just a little extra pressure on the pedals would boost me to 24-26. It was especially sweet to sail through the normally congested areas near the beaches and bathrooms, where I always have to stop for kids with big wheels during the daytime. I was seriously digging this! I'm going to have to remember how fun it is to ride at night, and do some more of that next summer. Wowsers.

P.S. Halloween is tomorrow, but there must have been a lot of parties tonight because I saw a lot of people out in their costumes. I could have blended in, riding down Diversey as the bars started filling up -- I'm sure I could have gotten into any masquerade with my bike pro costume. Well, i guess I would have had to have shaved my legs to complete the picture.

Sunday, November 2, 2003 at 4:15 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes

Oh, man ... I was feeling optimistic about riding the windtrainer this winter, and that optimism seems to have been unfounded. I just took my first ride, and it was a drag. I just felt slow and couldn't wait for it to end. I actually started out with the expectation of a 1 1/2 or 2 hour ride, but I guess those expectations aren't realistic when you're talking about sitting stationary. Yuck!

At least I finally allowed myself to start watching the 2003 Tour DVD. I got through a historical segment at the beginning, and then stages P-2. Gary Imlach is an entertaining commentator, but I laughed the loudest when one of the riders, in describing the huge crash on stage 1, said, "That's what bike racing is all about. We're not little girls." Nobody ever accused the French of being too politically correct.

Saturday, November 15, 2003 at 7:30 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes

There's a big gap here because I was sick all week, but I finally got back on for an indoor ride today. Actually, the noise of my old windtrainer was making me worried, for my neighbor's sake, so I picked up a new, fluid trainer this afternoon. Wow! The ride isn't any smoother, but it's quieter than the bike itself, and since I can stand up on it without disengaging the resistance unit, I don't get as uncomfortable while riding. I continued with the 2003 TdF DVD, watching Postal win the TTT and Victor Hugo Pena take the "jello jersey," as he called it in his Columbian accent.

Sunday, November 23, 2003 at 3:25 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 5 minutes

I almost thought I'd get outside today, because it was in the 50's and partly sunny this morning. But by the time I got back from teaching my guitar class, it was cold and raining, so I hopped back on the trainer. While I tried to roll in a fairly large gear, Richard Virenque won a mountain stage to Morzine and Simoni was dropped on the first part of the stage to Alpe d'Huez. I'll have the rest of that to look forward to on my next ride.

Saturday, December 6, 2003 at 5:00 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes

Another day on the trainer, but this time I pushed myself a little more than last time with three hard intervals of 10 minutes each. The entertainment was good, anyway -- lots of attacks up Alpe d'Huez, including several from Tyler Hamilton, which I had been anticipating since hearing about them last summer. But I have to say the most impressive moment was Roberto Heras's savage acceleration at the base of the climb. Whoa! Lance is going to miss that guy next year.

Monday, December 22, 2003 at 7:50 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes

Man, it's been hard to get regular rides in these last few weeks, with a couple trips out of town and lots of holiday events. But this was a good day to get the legs turning again. I did basically the same ride as last time, although my intervals weren't quite as hard. Next time I'll get out the heart rate monitor and tune that in a bit better.

Wednesday, December 30, 2003 at 10:20 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes

The weather has been in the 40's all week, but I still opted for another spin on the trainer and another installment of the 2003 Tour. Tonight I watched Ullrich win the first long time trial while varying my own tempo in a few long but gentle intervals.

Hey, I guess this is my last ride of 2003. Happy new year!

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.