Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pro Cycling Starts to Look Better and Better

So after just one week of perusing the USA Today, which I really only do while traveling abroad, I see headlines about Meta World Cheap Shot, NFL suicides after years of on-the-job injuries being ignored, and today even police-escorted Cannonball Runs to Atlantic City. Don't get me wrong, cycling has its elephant in the room, yet I'm inclined and hopeful to say that the sport is cleaning itself up.

I'll still remember when my no-longer creamsickle Bucs won the Super Bowl after years of suffering. It was a sporting moment that I'll never forget. 

But I also won't forget the anticipation I had standing on a billboard in Liege watching Nibali gain 42 seconds on the chasing bunch. It was 2007 when Cannondale last won LBL (by Di Luca, who ended up with his own sanction later on) and I could think of no better outcome than Niblet's winning the only classic that I showed my face at this year. He represents the future of Italian cycling like no other in recent times. The heartbreak when he was caught and passed with just over a km to go was unbearable. The tears in the eyes of usually-macho Italian team staffers said it all after the race.

We all have our sporting heroes, I'm just lucky enough to work with mine and support their endeavors. I just finished reading Team 7-Eleven on this trip, and seemingly found myself surrounded by the characters that made US cycling history and set me off on this journey. First, I bump into Ron Keifel at Sea Otter, followed by an encounter with Jim Ochowicz at the team presentation in Liege. I had to thank both of them for their pioneering efforts. Following that, I had a quick conversation with Steve Bauer and for some reason am drawn to a small restaurant near Bergamo to relive those post-Giro celebrations of the first US team to inspire my Italian-centric love of racing.

This week, I may have the chance to meet my first cycling hero. Those following closely on Twitter know who he is. I'll be sure to report back. It is not the equivalent of meeting Lee Roy Selmon. No, it goes far beyond that. For all the Bassos, Nibalis, Sagans and Kings that I am lucky to call friends, it's the cycling superstars of my youth that leave me starstruck. Back when we didn't know what our heroes ate for breakfast or what time they got a massage... or when their convoy made it to Atlantic City?!? Yeah, pro cycling is looking better and better every day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sea Otter to Liege-Bastogne-Liege!

Having just flown from San Fran to Brussels, it's time to look back as to why my legs are a little sore still. I wrapped up my single day at Sea Otter (I know, great scheduling) with a ride on the 17-mile course with none other than Tinker Juarez. "Tinker, it took about twenty years for us to ride together, and now it's getting to be a regular occurrence." We had just ridden off road in Italy together at the CFR team camp, and now we were time trialling along the California coast with Billy R.

I say time trialling because for some reason, with a constant headwind, we were pushing the pace for absolutely no apparent reason other than to get back to the hotel and to other tasks at hand. At one point Bill asked if we had even taken the time to notice the scenery around us at Pebble Beach... we hadn't!

From there, it was off to San Fran and my 4:00 am wakeup call to get on another plane headed to Belgium. Planes, trains and automobiles took me to my current location... the famous Hove Malpertuus in Riemst just outside of Maastricht. This is Liquigas' preferred hotel just before Liege-Bastogne-Liege and where many champions stay just before winning the big one... fingers crossed - I'm off to the race!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

One Last (Long) Look Back At Roubaix

The home office is getting reorganized this weekend, giving me the chance to go through some of the old magazines that now weigh down my shelves! I stumbled across this one. Remember Winning, Bicycle Racing Illustrated? Check out this issue covering the '85 Paris-Roubaix. One for the ages. Continuing the CBS Sports theme I started with a John Tesh twitter post this week, check out the video here.

In the famous Saronni / Moser battle, I side heavily with the latter. Find me after a couple of beers and I'll tell you why. The story is not so obvious!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rare Pedals For My Post-Roubaix ride...

I'm told by my good friend from Speedplay that I'm only the second mortal to own a pair of these pedals. Nice Roubaix today, by the way, don't you think? I would have preferred to watch from the side of a road with wheels and bottle in hand, but I now can enjoy my post-Roubaix ride at least!