Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring...


Today was my first day out in the rain in a while. It came after a long and warm summer so I was content to ride in it. That and it didn't start until I was already out riding.

The most common crash I see in rainy, PRO races is when a rider slips on the raod paint. I've seen it so many times I wonder how they keep doing it. Today I found out.

Ten minutes after leaving the house I hit the deck. I was on the bike path turning and my front wheel slipped on the paint. I wasn't going very fast so I didn't slide far. I also didn't get too scraped because the asphalt was wet. I did, however, put a good hole in my new DeFeet Slipstreams as well as a smaller one in my DeFeet DuraGloves.

I faired pretty well so I hopped back on my stead and kept riding. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. The rain started to come down harder but it didn't bother me much. On the way back I was reminded of Mancebo's all day breakaway in Stage 1 of this year's Tour of California. It was pouring that day, and at least 10 degrees colder. Apparently, Sastre called Mancebo a "junior" for attacking so early. Mancebo went on to win the stage; Sastre went on to abandon the race. Jim and I bared the cold to see the finish...

Being out in the rain also got me thinking about good rain gear and other tips I've learned for wet riding. I came up with a list of stuff.

Wear old gear - one of the biggest loses in most crashes, besides skin which is cheaply replaceable, is gear. That's why when I go out in the rain I tend
to wear my old gear. Then, if I wreck it's no big deal because the Voler bibs I'm wearing are on their last leg anyways.

Clear glasses - these are especially helpful when it's super cloudy out and you need all the light you can get.

Bags - this is something I do when I go skiing and I've heard it works on the
bike as well. Put a bag over your foot. Not like a grocery store bag but something thicker. Then, put a sock over it. This helps keep in the heat.

Gloves - I've yet to find a really good pair of gloves for riding in the rain. For a while I had some Specialized Neoprene ones that looked like they would really cut it but my hands still got cold. During the Tour of California I saw a pic of one of the riders wearing those yellow cleaning gloves. If anyone has a good pair for riding in the rain let me know.

Tire pressure - do about 5-10 psi less than you normally do. If you're already out on a ride and it starts raining just tap the valve a couple times and that will release enough to make a difference.

Cars can't see you! - it's basically like night out for drivers. After not being seen multiple times today I just started assuming they don't see me.

Layering - I realized that it's best to wear one layer more than you think you need. Although it makes things a bit warm during the first hour, it pays off in the hours after that.

Watch the paint!! - this is crucial, especially in areas with lots of fresh road paint. It's super slick and traction on it is nil.

Ride flats - most of the crashes I've had or seen in the rain have been while descending.

Dry off your bike - I've forgot to do this before after riding in the rain and it left my chain and cassette rusty. It's important to give it a good drying after a wet ride.

Hydration – not a tip for riding in the rain per se but a tip for this time of year. Be sure to hydrate more than usual because winter has a way of drying you out. I’ve noticed more headaches recently due to dehydration so I’m definitely losing more water than usual.

Now for things that really matter...

Looks like Landis is leaving OUCH. Not sure where he’ll go now though. He says he’s seeking some longer, more difficult Euro races despite his lack of results this season. I don’t think the problem will be his doping conviction (Basso and Vino have come back), I think it will be an issue of whether or not he can perform. Here’s a great interview with Allen Lim, Landis’s old coach, which talks about the 2006 Tour. Here’s another link that’s pretty interesting in reference to what Landis may or may not have done.

Speaking of, Lim is one of the best minds in cycling. Working with Garmin he has introduced gluten-free diets. This can be beneficial because of gluten’s inflammatory response to those who allergic. He also was the one, I believe, to start putting ice packs in Garmin riders’ skinsuits for TTs. He goes into this in the first interview I linked. He does all these little things to increase performance but in the end they add up to a substantial increase. Here’s another interview with him where he addresses supposed gains from doping.

I was really bummed to see Rebellin come up positive for CERA earlier this year. Looks like now the UCI is attempting to pull his silver Olympic medal. Rebellin, however, intends to fight back. The most indicative piece of evidence isn’t the two samples but his gratuitous use of 3rd person! “I am going to return to competition and demonstrate who Davide Rebellin is.”

I was stoked to see him win Fleche Wallone this year. Especially after he outsmarted Evans and Schleck.

This brings up another topic: if convicted of doping, should all placings from that season be revoked? It seems like this is what is implied by the UCI attempting to take his silver medal because they don’t mention him actually failing doping controls at the Olympics.

If so, Schleck won two classics this season! Also, what happens to all that prize money? As far as I can tell there’s been no mention of having to return it.

Quick Step is going to be riding Merckx! It will be a bit weird to see Boonen on anything but a Tarmac. Specialized doesn’t appear to be losing market share though because they’re rumored to be sponsoring Contador [Astana].

Speaking of, the man from Pinto found a team! I really would have liked to see him go somewhere else, at least for his own sake. I’m sure there are unreported details but it doesn’t seem as though Contador can see past the dollar signs. Hopefully he doesn’t lose next year’s Tour by sticking with Astana.

What’s wrong with Astana? Well last year the poor Kazakh PR and marketing was bearable because they were basically the Yankees of cycling. This year they won’t have that dominance, at least on a team-wide basis, so they’ll just be obnoxious. That and I’m not sure if I can take another story about the team’s financial woes.

The Trek-LeMond lawsuit is well under way. This is something that has been brewing for years. Thankfully, Velocity Nation has been reporting in detail on the case. In Part 2 the judge poses a hypothetical saying “If LeMond, being outspoken on doping, had been asked about Lance and doping and had said ‘No comment’ then it also would have been assumed LeMond believed Lance doped.” This is in response to claims that LeMond was tarnishing the brand by his defamatory statements against Lance.

My take on this? Regardless of if Lance doped or not, it’s pretty sticky business accusing someone of doping without them having been convicted. That’s essentially libel and not something any thinking man would want to do. One could point to the findings of this doctor and say LeMond was right about Lance and doping. However, if I’m a past Tour winner and have achieved legend status in cycling I’d rather NOT tarnish my name by making such bold accusations about America’s current bike hero. After all, it’s better to be happy than right. Some might call this apathetic but I believe it’s completely pragmatic. LeMond’s voice has changed nothing about the realities of drugs in cycling. Thus, we’re left with him standing on a soap box that’s rapidly crumbling (in addition to more than a million dollars in legal fees and God knows how much sleep lost). Come on Greg, just be like Merckx and keep your mouth shut unless paying homage to America’s superhero.

Here’s a cool tech piece to lighten the mood. The guys at Velocity Nation took a P4 and put Di2 on it. The interesting part is the P4 wasn’t designed for Di2 so they have to use a dremel…

Oh and if you’re big into Tweets, here’s a site that tracks a lot of PROs

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