Do We Let Lance Armstrong Back?

I’ve noticed Lance showing back up on my radar lately.  Whether it be reports of his lawsuit on google news, stories about training with American pros showing up on my facebook feed, whatever the hell WEDU is, and “The Forward Podcast” which I’ve listened to a few episodes of.  Besides all that Lance showed up on my porch the other day, well a giant cardboard cutout of Lance.  My old friend Snake was cleaning out his building and thought I might want this cardboard cutout, so in typical Snake fashion he left it on my porch.  Along with piles of bike parts.  Anyway….


So Lance has calculated that his punishment in “Timeout” which are his words, is nearing its end and he wants to be back in the cancer fight.  It also seems to me he is trying to creep back into the cycling world now.  During his time in “timeout” Lance appeared to become an ultra runner and competed in some races and events, but now he seems to be focused on riding again and as far as I can tell WEDU is going to be a platform for endurance events.

I think the the first time Lance made a reappearance for me was when he showed up at Kalamazoo Michigan to support the cycling community after 9 riders were ran over by a murderer in a pickup truck.  7000 people turned out to ride with the club in support of the community and in honor of the slain riders.  This to me is the power of Lance, it doesn’t matter if he doped, obviously he’s still a hero to cyclists and he can still leverage his star power to help people.

Lance has been put through the ringer like no other doping cyclist with the idea being that today’s cyclists will see how even if they can get away with breaking the rules now eventually it will catch up with them. This sounds good, but I don’t really believe it.  Consequences need to be fair, consistent and timely to really make a difference in people’s behavior.  I feel like Lance’s treatment has not been fair consistent or  timely.  A lifetime ban when everyone else in the investigation was seemingly given a slap on the wrist, along with being stripped of his results?

Still as Lance creeps out of timeout he is facing one last huge hurdle, the Floyd Landis whistle blower case that is about to go to trial.  The US government wants 33 million, its entire 2001-2004 US Postal sponsorship money, back and in fact it wants 3 times what it paid to the entire team, and if that wasn’t enough it wants it ALL FROM ARMSTRONG?  Oh and hey good ol’ Floyd Landis is entitled to 25% of of it as the whistle blower who brought the case forward.  How does that seem fair?

I think it’s fair to say that I have rose colored glasses when it comes to Armstrong, he did a lot of bad things, treated a lot of people horribly, and did a lot of damage to cycling.  Still he did a lot that was good, and in my estimation did far more good for cycling in America then bad.  I want to see Lance let back in.

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Double Down Saturday

Imagine being out on February 11th in short sleeves and shorts.  In fact it’s 8 PM and I’m still comfortable in short sleeves and shorts.  I started off this morning on my road bike as the sun came up enjoying the 50 degree weather.  I looked to my left at the hills Southeast of town and saw the sun coming up, it made for a nice shot, or at least would have if I’d had a real camera instead of the horrible camera on my cellphone.


With a steady and by steady I mean slow, 20 miles in I was home and had a couple hours to help out around the house and try to make things a bit more presentable when some family arrived tonight for my birthday.  Yeah I turned 38.

So at 10 I met up with Joe and Drew, and went out for round two, in the woods.  When I mentioned to Drew I needed to be home by 2 PM, he said he could do better and drop me off right now.  What a guy.  No of course Drew and Joe are always ready to accommodate the needs of their riding companions, considering their are so few of us.


We went to the Henry Hicks entry to One Horse Gap and rode the new benchcut to the Gap, which is rocky and rough but being a new benchcut trail it is very rideable and doesn’t have super steep sections.  Also Drew and Joe have been working hard to cut out branches and logs so the trail keeps rolling.    Once we arrived at the Gap I requested something other then the typical out and back so we did some of the 001 to Bill Hill and rode the 6 sisters.  This old trail is rough and has lots of leg breaking short steep climbs, compounded with the soft trail conditions it was a challenge.


The Six Sisters is a smooth and wide gravel trail that features six short but crazy steep climbs.  Its always impressive to see guys ride these on single speeds.  Joe pulled off one of his signature moves on the Six Sisters, he stuck his front wheel on a downed tree limb and went over the bars.  Joe uses flat pedals and the few occasions I’ve seen him endo he simply just steps off the front of bike and lands on his feet.  In this case the bike came to a rest behind him and I was like, don’t move until I get a picture.


Four hours of ride time Saturday has left me a beat, but Sunday the temps are looking to be in the 50s so it’s hard to say no to more riding.


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Layering Up For Winter Riding

A while back on a group ride my buddy Justin said I should write a piece about how to dress for cold winter riding.  I thought this was funny because I have been spending all my time riding inside.  In the past I rode more throughout the winter, but lately I’ve been a Zwift junkie.  Last weekend several of us got together for a cold mountain bike ride and while I was getting ready it occurred to me I should attempt a post on layering up for winter the Barndoor Way, which is to say extremely cheaply.

There is a local rider who, as the story goes, has a chart from a magazine that instructs him on exactly what to wear for any given temperature.  This is something to avoid as every person is different and what works for me may not work for you.  Instead I will just explain what I wore this last weekend which kept me warm on a day where the temperature started off around 30 and peaked in the mid 30s by the end of the ride and mention what some of the other guys did.

So before I get into specifics lets just go over the general cold weather gear FACTS.  Avoid cotton at all costs, cotton kills.  Zippers everywhere, can’t have enough zippers.  You should be cold before you’ve started, if you’re warm before you’ve started you’re going to be CRAZY HOT in 15 minutes.  Thin layers are the bomb.


First off there is the base layer.  I have in the past made fun of prestige brands like Under Armor, and I honestly I’m still to cheap to buy their stuff, but I got this shirt second hand exceptionally cheap.  I’ve found that I really like a tight compression layer next to my skin as it pulls away moisture and seems to hold warmth.   When I got home my outer layers were damp but this shirt was totally dry.  Dry is warm.


The next layer was this thick long sleeve shirt, which is I believe military issue and very warm.  It has several features that make it work great for cycling.  One is a long zipper that is easy to manipulate.  Zippers are a must for every layer past the baselayer.  The zipper goes up a long collar that functions as a neck gator and holds alot of heat in.  Of course I found this shirt at a thrift store for 3 bucks.


Next I’ve got a regular summer jersey which I’m really only wearing for the pockets though the extra warmth on the core was nice too.  I have a few different long sleeve jerseys and if I was road bike riding I would have went with one of them. While mountain biking I generally build up so much heat that I can wear much less than I would on the road.


My final layer was a waterproof shell jacket like this North Face model that was given to me by famous adventurer Greg Elam.  This jacket has pit zippers which I find do wonders to keep the moisture and heat from building up inside.  Jackets like these are great because they can easily be folded up and stashed if it gets too warm yet fully zipped up they provide a great deal of protection against cold, wind and rain.


On my legs I went with a pair of thermal tights, actually sadly they are thermal “fashion” tights that belong to my wife.  Before you laugh you should know that they are very warm, much warmer then cycling specific tights I’ve worn in the past and they are very cheap.  I don’t like to wear my Pearl Izumi bib tights when I’m mountain biking since I’ve torn up so much nice stuff in the woods. These have the inner “brushed” texture which seems to be much warmer than tights with a smooth texture.  I wore some generic bib shorts over these which do wonders to hold them in place.

My feet stayed very warm in thick wool hunting socks from Rural King.  My hands were another story though.  When it’s seriously cold I’ve got these waterproof ski gloves that came from bike Nashbar about ten years ago.  They are seriously worn out and just don’t insulate like they used to besides being thick and bulky.  The only part of me that was cold were my hands early in the ride.  Eventually they warmed up.

So with this outfit I was warm right from the start, about 30 minutes I had to zip down the jacket and about an hour later I had to zip down the mid layer shirt.  Now just looking around the group most of the faster guys were wearing less  than me, but they were going so fast the cold didn’t have to to settle on them.  It seems the faster guys tend to wear less and are generally working harder throughout the ride so maybe they don’t need as much.  I know a few guys stashed their jackets early in the ride and another rider went with a baselayer, long sleeve jersey and a thin jacket.

Ultimately figuring out what to wear in the cold is trial and error and personal preference.   Some guys wear jackets seemingly on every ride while I know guys who wouldn’t wear a jacket in a rain storm.  It’s always best to wear a bit to much and peel layers then to be cold on the entire ride.  Of course if you just ride the trainer you don’t any of this junk.  Back to Zwift I go!


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32564355775_d32b724730_zAs a rule I’m not a night person, I’m generally asleep by 10:30 but its 12:33 AM on a Saturday morning and I’m so wide awake that I’m not even blinking.  Roughly 24 hours ago I woke up with an intense sore throat followed by the general feeling that something foreign had completely taken over my head.  20 hours ago I gave up trying to sleep and got ready to go to work.  To make it through work I went a bit heavy on the caffeine, taking in somewhere near a gallon of caffeinated beverages during the day, much of it in the Mt. Dew variety.   Sudafed, and I mean the real stuff that you’ve got to sign over your life to get, has compounded the stimulate effect.  In short I’m wired.

This is such a weird feeling to be incredibly tired and at the same time incredibly wide awake.  Maybe a bit of writing will help me fall asleep.  Lets see where to start…

Cycling this week has been weak, only a couple of trainer rides and 26 miles.  Earlier in the week I was dealing with very sore neck and shoulder muscles which baffled me until I realized it came from switching my trainer bike from an upright position to an aggressive road bike position.

I am the proud owner of a Samyang 14mm 2.8 lens for my Canon cameras.  On the full frame 5D it’s a monster ultra wide.  I bought this lens for wide angle video and long exposure starscape photography.  I got a chance to go out and use the lens Wednesday night and am super psyched about what it can do.  Not much of a portrait lens though.

night matt shadow


Well lets see, still wide awake.  I’ve been reading Elden Nelson’s AKA The Fat Cyclist, book entitled Comedy Mastermind.  In getting the url to post I noticed that The Fat Cyclist blog is now closed.  See I have a confession.  While I enjoy writing my bike blog, I never ready anyone one else’s bike blog even the real big time famous ones like fat cyclist or bike snob or whatever.  I guess I’m just self obsessed.  I did read some fat cyclist years ago, on and off and while it was high quality I never really got into it.

Elden goes by the name “Fatty” which really kind of ticks me off since his “fat” weight is 190 something, though claims that’s nearly 50 pounds overweight for him.  I mean comeon dude, I weighed 190 when I was in the sixth grade.  Anyway his book is pretty much just the highlights of his blog and there is some really funny stuff in there, but there’s alot of filler.  He spends a few pages covering how his blog goes from a few readers daily to a few thousand and how he became nearly a household name in cycling, but then it’s just reprints of his blog posts.

Well its 1AM now and I’m starting to feel a bit sleepy.  Umm… I took a vow on facebook to never post about politics or comment on political posts again.  I’m holding strong so far but I’ve had to sit on my hands a few times.  You know I’m jsfj]dppppph]geeeee.

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Zwift Setup and Warm Winter Hike

Here’s a picture of the Zwift setup I’ve been using since last winter.  It’s Eli’s 62cm Klein on my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.  I use a ANT stick for connectivity.  This is a great old bike but it needs an overhaul.  The front derailuer has seized up and no amount of oil seems to loosen it.  I think it needs a solvent soak.  The entire drive train is really noisy and the rough feeling and needs to be cleaned up.  Besides that the bike is two sizes to big and no where close to my road bike position.  I wanted to save wear and tear on my road bike and get some use out of this old bike.


Last night switched bikes and here’s a picture  set up last night.  Back to the CAAD 9.   Wow I was riding this thing with a low position last summer.  It’s way, way quieter on the trainer and feels way smoother too.  The CAAD 9 didn’t have a seatpost in it so I grabbed one with a Brooks B-17 already attached.  The B-17 turned out to be very awkward on a bike with 4 inches of handlebar drop. It seems like the more aggressive the position the larger your saddle feels and the B-17 is a large saddle to begin with.


Yesterday was a very warm day for late January.  I sat off in the morning for 18 miles on my cross bike.   I’d rather have taken the road bike but the roads were wet and had cinders from the recent ice almost guarantee a flat on my road bike tires.  The Cross bike with 32 Gatorskins is ideal for those conditions.

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Later Shauna and I went to the Lusk Creek Trailhead and walked the Circle B trail.  I started to leave the house with a long sleave shirt and jacket, Shauna was like, you’re going to get hot.  I changed to a T-shirt and flannel.  Halfway through the hike I took off the flannel and was wishing I’d worn shorts.  The temps got up to 70.

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Trail featureAt one point on the trail I went to search for a Geocache I knew was in the area, it wasn’t in the place where it was suppose to be but I found the ink pen in the hiding spot.  Scanning the area I came across the Geocache just laying out on the ground with a hole in it.  I guess an animal tried to get in it.  Several people had found the cache and left a few new little treasures.

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Cell Phone Cameras vs. Real Cameras

After a photography post the other day where I compared my DSLR cameras some one said I should have compared cell phones too.  I was photographing a lens to sell recently and thought, here’s my chance.  I set up a piece of white poster board and use two light bulbs, both warmer “soft white” bulbs that were mostly white to the eye just slightly warm.

droid 4

The first camera was my ancient DROID 4.  Nut much to say, it sucks.  White balance is way, way off.  The black of the lens is super noisy and it lacked any way to control depth of field so you can see the noisy background cardboard.

samsung galaxy

The next camera was Shauna’s upscale Galaxy S4, upscale for 2012.  It’s a much better camera but still sucks.  The white is dirty warm grey, and black lens has much less noise and is way sharper.  Again, no ability to control depth of field and it’s wide angle so I ended up getting background in the shot.


Now my newest camera the Rebel T4i, well its better but still not actually white.  The lights were warm but not yellow.  The lens is free of noise and the background is mostly blurred.


Now how about big ol Pro Canon 1D that’s 16 years old.  Wow.  Check that out, it’s white.  The 1D has an external white balance sensor and does a much better job of balancing color.  The 50mm prime lens has far better contrast and excellent sharpness too plus it gave me the best depth of field control to blur out the background.

So there’s this old saying the best camera is the one you have, but if you want to take better photos it’d help if it’s actually a real camera and not part of your cell phone.  Of course the newest high end phones have far better cameras.

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Mississippi Valley Bike Expo and Gravel Ride

Last year the Midwest Bike Expo was cancelled, it returned this year sort of, the name changed to Mississippi Valley Bike and Outdoor Expo, and the date moved up, but it’s essentially the same.  In years past this was a vintage bike show, and we’re not talking about awesome vintage race bikes, we’re talking balloon tire paperboy bikes that looked like they had just been found in some old barn.  There were people into it, but not me.  Luckily the local bike shops would have booths and clearance sales, also lots of individuals would also be there peddling their wares.


The new format was a little different.  The vintage bike show was gone, as well as the bike “swap meet” where people could bring in bikes and sell them.  These were replaced by more local businesses and organizations.   Also many more area bike shops were there with big time clearance sales.  The number of individuals with gear for sale seemed to be down a bit.

I had no idea the Expo was back, I hadn’t seen a thing about it, then BOOM, I get an email from Moe, hey lets go to this thing.  SO I took my camera with the intent of making a cool video blog, but couldn’t really do it.  I just couldn’t walk around with a camera pointed at my face while I talked.  I took a few minutes of footage, but was really more interested in checking out the booths and looking for good deals.


We talked to Tom Welge who I’ve known from the internet but never met in real life.  He was there promoting “Trips for Kids”  a non profit organization which takes undeserved youth on cycling trips.  We talked Southern Illinois cycling and it was great to meet a guy doing great things for the community.


We also talked to the crew from “Touch of Nature” an SIU outdoor environmental center that does outdoorsy stuff like hikes, camping, you know like, nature stuff.  Well they are raising money to put in a mountain bike trail which we whole heartily support.


Besides all the outdoorsy booths and bike stuff there were a few oddballs, like a guy selling rain gutters, and my personal least favorite RICO’S BIO ENERGY POWER BANDS.  For giggles I listened to their 30 second sales pitch would turned into several minutes and ended with an offer I couldn’t refuse, a 175 dollar rubber bracelet that through the power of EARTHS BIO ENERGY give me vastly improved strength, greater balance, better blood flow, and heal pretty much every ailment.  Believe it or not I passed on the miracle bracelet.


So we only had two hours, and really I could have spent all day, well I could have if I’d had more money.  I ended up buying a very lightly used Brooks C13 saddle for 75% off retail and a Marmot rain jacket for 60% off retail with a gift for Shauna thrown in, thanks Bike Surgeon.

wooden bridgeIn other news I got out for a killer hard 34 mile gravel ride with Moe today.  34 miles may not sound like much but when its 50 degrees and raining gravel roads get smooshy, not to mention this 34 mile ride has nearly 3000 feet of climbing.  It’s a killer route and nearly killed me.   It was a wake up call reminding me I need to work on my core and real endurance.  Riding 45 minutes on the trainer isn’t going to cut it.








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