Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday Ride Report "30 Minutes to Know All Intellectual History"

Pondering the difficulties of collegiate cycling, one has to wonder if cycling suffers at a school where the students are spread across the country, versus a commuter school. The summer (May to late August) has the highest concentration of events and venues, but the students are spread across the globe. The Chronicle of Higher Ed had a recent article wondering if the semester model is outmoded in the current economic climate students find themselves in.

The day was so pretty with a light cool breeze and mild temperatures that it even brought out Hillsman. Now that school is over and the school has no ceremonies for the official university photographer to chronicle, we were ready to rumble. Only it was Michael, Caryn and myself that left the flagpole to meet up with Greg and Hillsman at TP Hill. Sam was waiting with Hillsman, so we did have a student! Sam has no philosophy tutoring this summer so he had time for a cardio ride (HR range limit.) We asked about tutoring, and Sam said he could tell you everything you need to know in 30 minutes or less! If only someone could do the same for me with critical theory and lit crit (de Saussure, Lacan, Kristeva, Derrida, Foucault, Habermas et al, ad nauseum!)

We did what were are now referring to as the "Horseshoe" (up to Flagpole Hill, into Lake Highlands, back to White Rock at the Bath House, then spillway, and Loving.) Sam made it a point to hide behind Caryn as we descended, then climbed the rollers away from Flagpole Hill, spinning past me near the crest of the last hill, pointing out he was in a very small gear, almost taunting, but a common ritual from our rides. Cycling as a ritualized activity would benefit from a hermenuetical analysis of the various behaviours (30 minutes, right...)

As we ride toward the spillway, Hillsman (who hasn't shown his usual facial polychromic display on this day i.e. shades of red with a little green thrown in) decided to take off and win that imaginary sprint. Since he lives in the neighborhood, he called it a day. He explained this action to me this morning, knowing that Loving was not in the cards for him. We joked about Paul Sherwin's matches all day, he had not heard the expression before. Hillsman asked how many matches were in a box, some people seem to have thousands, others only three. The key is to use what you have at the right time!

The rest of us went over to Loving, and an awkward turn from Winsted to Loving and we immediately saw the brand new and flashy jersey of the Texas State Criterium Champion flash by (I have typed those words so many times tha last few days she should hire me as a publicist!) Caryn and I decide to chase Jen Purcell so that we could congratulate her in person. She is doing intervals and following a lithe, waif like GS Tensing rider who is gliding up the Muur de Loving (but inexplicably misses the middle of the three!) Caryn went into the red zone but was close behind, I chase hard so that I could say something to her, but when I reached her at the top, my breathing was so labored I don't even know that she understood what I said, so a pat on the back was all I could manage.

A safe ride back and my moratorium on the city limit sign was ignored, but I was undergeared and Michael dedicated it to Noah, whose was celebrating his birthday today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ride of Silence, Wednesday the 20th of May

This Wednesday is the annual rite of memory, the "Ride of Silence" that started in Dallas at White Rock Lake and has spread around the world as an observance and a celebration of those who have lost their lives while riding their bicycles. Please join us at 7pm and see the web page at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A couple of weeks back, Greg and I had noticed a fully tricked out Pinarello Prince casually locked to the handicap entrance to the Maguire building. We thought two things quite odd, (1) that someone would be stupid enough to lock an $8,000 rig to a railing with a cheap lock, and (2) who on God's green earth would put a $49 set of pedals on an $8,000 rig? It intrigued us so much, that Greg took a camera phone picture of it and posted it to the blog.

Well the universe now makes sense because according to the Competitive cyclist, they had a Pinarello Prince stolen in May and posted this item on their blog...
"If you are the bitchface who stole our 53cm Neon Yellow Pinarello Prince demo bike via an admittedly clever bit of identity theft in early April, a few things to consider: Do you know how many 53cm Neon Princes exist in the US? Of those, do you know how many are built with SRAM? Do you know that we know that your IP address is at SMU in Dallas? We're closing in..."

Apparently the crime has been solved as they have posted this on their latest blog...
"Loyal readers of our What's New section will recall that last week we were hot on the trail of the scumbag who stole one of our Pinarello Prince demo bikes. In our investigation we learned that the fraudulent order was placed from SMU; we learned that the delivery address was a "for sale" (and likely vacant) house in a dodgy Dallas suburb; and we learned that the thief went apeshit with UPS trying to re-route the delivery or pick up the bike at the Mesquite, TX UPS depot.

We filed police reports galore and scoured Ebay, Craig's List, and sites like the TXBRA to see if someone was trying to fence the bike and we found nothing. And then, in a funny twist, we got a phone call from Sarah at fellow retailer Chicagoland Bicycle. She told us she was reading our What's New piece about the theft, then did some poking around on websites we're not familiar with, namely Facebook. She came across the SMU Cycling Club's Facebook website, which led her to the SMU Cycling Club's blog, which led her to this blog posting.

One thing led to another and the SMU police soon tracked down (editor: name removed for privacy) (an SMU student, no less) and secured the bike from him. So huge props to Sarah at Chicagoland and to the SMU PD. The situation we find ourselves in now is whether to file charges or not. The student in question is either the thief (felony) or was in possession of stolen goods (felony) and while the detective who helped us was doubtful that the student was indeed the thief, it's interesting that the kid got amnesia about the details of buying the bike off Craig's List. And suddenly the rationale of waterboarding became obvious to us.

The crossroads we find ourselves in is this: If we file charges, the investigation and the legal process could take a year, during which our Prince would be held as evidence. Or, conversely, we have the option to forget about charges and just pick up the bike. A tough call, since vengeance is sweet. But we want our demo back, so we're trending towards just saying nevermind….

We are psyched that the Competitive Cyclist have found their bike and are glad to have played a part in it's recovery. It's a testament to the connected world we live in and the love we have for bicycles (though at no time did The Competitive Cyclist contact the admins of this blog - that I know of - to inquire about the bike. Greg has even met the student - he is not a member of our club).

While I understand the Competitive Cyclist's desire to get their property returned, I lean towards filing the charges. If there is a thief at SMU (especially a thief of bicycles) I believe that they should be held accountable for their actions and removed from our campus. This is a serous crime (a felony) and reflects badly against SMU's reputation. However, we have had projectors stolen and understand the desire to retrieve your items. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that at least a pawn shop didn't have it, because you'd have to pay them what they shelled out for it to get the item returned in a timely fashion.

In any event, I will follow up with the SMU PD and the Dean of Student Life.

So hopefully, the bike will be returned in a timely fashion, the perpetrator will be held accountable and we can all get back on our bikes instead of sitting at keyboards writing about them!

As for the anonymous bloggers who thought WE stole the bike and then posted pictures of it, I would suggest reserving your comments until you know what's going on. Dumbasses.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Horse Country TT Jen Finishing

Horse Country TT Finish Unhappy....

Horse Country TT Start Happy....

Digital Cameras and Masochistic Torture Devices

In an eerie replay of the last Horse Country time trial, we brought out the trusty Nikon with it's irrefutable time stamp to help determine Jen Purcell's finish time. Only this time, it was to resolve her confusion over being declared the winner. Having raced a lot recently and with a good Redlands behind her, Jen was still a bit unnerved at the start, shaken at Paula Felix's unfortunate crash at the velodrome on Friday night (our thought and best wishes for recovery are with Paula.)

Jen arrived with what...5 minutes to get her shoe covers on and pump up her tires! Mina Pizzini was in the start blocks directly in front of Jen and at the finish, the marshals declared Jen the winner even though she did not think she closed the time gap on Mina. When Jen rode up to look at the results, she was confused, since her high tech cyclocomputer had her with a 30 ish minute finish rather than the 28 they posted. The Swatch analog wristwatch tells no lies! Caryn and I looked at the time stamps and my math was very hazy since I had just finished a few minutes before. Jen would not believe the time even though everyone was in awe at the "no warm up, road bike with aero bar new course record strategy"

After we got the abacus out and Caryn wrapped her uncanny "bend radius, sheet metal skilled" accuracy around the numbers, it was only obvious that it was Mina who won, and she set a new course record (first woman under 30 minutes!) Mina did not arrive to look at the results until a few minutes later so she did not have to question the officials. Mina is also wired with every bit of telemetrics you would ever want, so we scrolled through her time, which verified the sub 30 minute scorching of the course (25+MPH).

Jen showed she is a superlative sportman as she wasn't wanting to be given a result that would have taken away from Mina's remarkable effort. Jen was also close to being the first to go sub 30, but stayed out of her lactic threshold due to the problems she faced on this day, still unnerved at the previous night's events.

Now on to a more prosaic item, my ride.

I bought this specific mass of aluminum, leather, rubber and carbon fiber thinking it was a time trial bike. I was mistaken. This particular item is a torture device roughly in the shape of a bicycle. Time trial bikes are fetish items, used by masochists. The last Horse Country Time trial looked enjoyable, but my work of art, the Klimt Y-Foil is a non UCI allowed item. Now these events are not obligated to follow the rules established by the contrarians who are the UCI, but I wanted to be within the spirit of these rules. What a mistake. 5cm setback from the BB, 75 CM from the bb to the end of the extensions, your body has to be tortuously manipulated to fall within these capricious rules.

To make the effort today even more ludicrous, the bike developed a personality of it's own on the last Wednesday ride I rode it. It complained loudly, developing a horrendous squeaking, and decided to try to pitch me off of it. I think the bike has a shetland's personality. Braying and biting, wanting me to get off of it. It was one part fetish object, one part annoying little animal.

I start with David Pearson's words in my mind "I'm expecting the SMU Cycling Club founder to do the TT in under 30 minutes" Since I like to chase rabbits, and don't do a lot of these events, I ran out of carrots about 4 miles into the ride. I caught the two guys in front of me and with the wind at my back, I was feeling OK. At the turnaround, I wish I could have switched to my regular bike. The Time trial bike must have multiple personality disorder, as it became all the things I complained about previously. It now hurt to sit on it and the noise from the bottom bracket was loudly proclaiming that I sucked. I was being tortured so much that at about the 15 K mark, and then at 18k I was passed by two cyclists who had started 30 seconds and a minute behind. The bike was pleased I was so ignomiously passed.

Pro riders and TT specific bikes spend hours in the wind tunnel, investigating everything to shave a few milliseconds off the possible elapsed time. Caryn was concerned that I let an extra inch of zip tie flap into the wind. If only that was all I had to worry about. Try to avoid pedaling squares would be a more legitimate concern. Or how about avoiding the slowdown after these carrots are consumed. Or better yet, actually spend some quality time on this infernal bike and get it dialed in so my upper glutes don't hurt so much. When did I get these muscles that hurt so much tonight!

At the finish, up the hill, Caryn said I was swaying like Stevie Wonder trying to stay on the extensions. 11th out of 18 starters in the Masters Division, but I'm still waiting to see where I finished in the 50 + (31 min 45 seconds, 23+ mph)

I can't wait to hear David's post mortem (Hmm, you sucked) on this excruciating excuse of a sinister branch of the sport of cycling!

Kudos to our Mina Pizzini, she is a great time trialer, and I would bet she would beat anyone on campus. Willing to take the challenge?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The old Olympic training ground returns!

Ginny King once referred to White Rock (in a mocking tone) as the "Olympic training ground" as afternoons would see large groups dicing it up for no apparent reason, short of fleeting and dubious glory in simulated race mode. Caryn just calls it excessive testosterone on display. After weeks of rain, the storms stayed north of I-635 and large groups of cyclists came out of hiding to test their race strategies. Of course I was more guilty than most in succumbing to the urge, even chasing Nicky and his team mate Lee down whenever they would escape the not so friendly confines of the group.

We met at the flagpole with Michael Vangeli choosing to celebrate his birthday with us. Also Noah, Kevin, Caryn and Damiano (who is going to provide race reports from the Giro) joined me as we met up with Nicky at the lake.

Nicky had a "chute" on Tuesday that by all accounts was spectacular! Tuesday night crit Cat 4 race, perfectly positioned (4th wheel, and fresh) going into the final corner and he had a casing failure on his Vredstein's, which immediately went flat, rolled off the rim of his Kysiriums and caused him to have a high speed skid, 6 series aluminum on concrete. He controlled it long enough to get out of the train and dived into the grass, sliding on his back. No long term effects save for the disappointment of seeing a perfectly planned victory go awry.

Noah was resplendant in his Livestrong kit, and the miles he put in for the MS150 showed immediate results. I have never seen him this strong. Just a few weeks ago he was getting shelled on the ups, and now he was making many of those out on course crack.

Michael was continually chasing every rabbit that escaped and Caryn was spinning away in her soon to be discarded SRAM Rival compact crank. She likes to grind ala Jan Ullrich, rather than fast twitch it. Noah has discovered he is a fast twitcher and loves to spin away in the small ring. Crazy how everyone's physiognomy is so different. Michael is just a bit taller than Odessa's husband Levi, but he pushes 175cranks.

Speaking of Odessa, I am promoting two groups that are advocates of Mustang preservation. To ensure that these two groups are the proper advocates for the preservation of our true mascot, I e-mailed a well known animal rights advocate, Odessa Gunn, (who also happens to be the wife of one of the favorites for the Giro d'Italia, Levi Leipheimer.) She sent a very kind response and gave me the thumbs up for this effort.

Kevin and Greg Pulte are in favor of doing the "Horseshoe" loop as our Wednesday ride path, but when there are this many cyclists at the lake, it is way too tempting to sit in the pack.

With many leaving for the summer, we want everyone to know that we will still be riding and planning events for the fall, so keep in touch and keep riding.

By the way, Michael celebrated his 43rd with the winning sprint at the city limit sign!