Monday, April 25, 2011

on track

Easter Sunday evening I was treated to a couple hours of World Championship track cycling on TV. Thanks Universal Sports TV. It is such a spectacle of performance, skill and drama. You gotta see it, it is easy to follow, a great spectator sport even. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, track cycling was immensely popular and lucrative for the racers and promoters. The USA's first worlds were in track cycling. The popularity of the sport and it's various disciplines rivaled the big sports of today. That is probably because the bike enjoyed such explosive growth as recreation as well. Paved roads were developed for bikes, the auto hadn't even been a factor. The step through frame so called ladies frame as we still see it, was to allow women in long skirts to ride!
Road racing was sort of the freak show. The road events were two or even three times the distance of the modern events we see now.
The social upheaval of WW1 paired with the acceptance of the automobile spelled doom to the bike as we well know in the US.
Anyway, track cycling is so cool, I don't understand why it can't come back here. Americans love measured observable sports. Standard fields of play and timing. Predictable conditions except for the athletes themselves. I think the lack of that predictability is a major reason more Americans can't embrace cycling personally or as a spectator. Track racing is still big
in Europe, where the auto is of much less importance. I know, shorter distances, more expensive gasoline ya, ya ,ya. But on so many levels, media friendliness not the least, track
racing ought to come back.
My parents lived in Southern CA for a while. A world class velodrome (track for cycling) was built for the 86(?) Olympics in LA. It was near their home and open for a invitational event to be a sort of test run for olympic athletes the year before. I wa sable to see several events that summer. It was amazing to experience these athletes so up close, it was the size of a small town football stadium, every seat is great. Watch some if you get the chance.
I hope your spring riding is going well, thanks for reading

Monday, April 11, 2011

another monument

Sunday, instead of watching a fantastic Paris-Roubaix, I joined a group doing a ride called The Geysers. this is a ridge climb to 2700' above the 120' valley floor. it is one of the classic climbs in Sonoma County that I have not done. It was a good set of climbs, but as is often the case here, the descent is an equal challenge. we climbed 2200' in about three miles descend some and then climb another 1000+. good pavement as it was installed in the modern era to provide access to a geothermal site. Waste water is pumped up and converted to steam to generate electricity. Some mysterious gravel sections but generally good, wide open road. the long descent down the other side could not be more different. Much is only a lane and a half (or less) wide and a quilt of potholes, patched surface and loose debris. The upper steeps are good, but there were several miles of rolling descent that required skill and courage, kind of like Paris-Roubaix. The final 25 miles into a headwind finished me off. but it was a fine day on the bike. Sorry no pics, I left the camera on the counter
I got home just in time to watch the rebroadcast of the mornings race. Excellent! I like Cancellara and all, he is a great and worthy champion, but it seems to me that favorites are going to have to come up with some fresh strategy to win, especially these "crap-shoot" spring classics. the second tier is now so talented that they can pull off a win while the Demi-gods mark each other.
molto bene, Johann