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Monday, February 23, 2004

[us] Getting started

So I went for my first actual ride. Seattle has cycling nailed down, for a decent-sized, car-oriented place. I rode out on the path that goes to my office (decent warmup w/o cars), and at one point there is a sign on the path which directs "faster cyclists use alternate route". That alternate route is a bike lane on this larger but reasonably mellow road that winds around Lake Washington, which links into various loops offering anything from 30-100+ miles, it appears. And the Lake Washington loop itself is pretty hilly, or at least the stretch I tested out. there are also routes along the shore of the Sound, which I haven't checked out yet but no doubt resemble Pete's rides in Cohasset and hingham -- short, sharp hills and plenty o' wind. So, thus far although we live in a busy area, it's not far from plenty of serious roadie options.

There are club rides headed out from the university of Washington to the Lake Wash loop. Didn't have time for one this weekend, as we went eagle viewing, so I had to squeeze in 25 earlier on. We only saw 3 bald eagles; apparently there were a hundred or so a couple weeks ago, but wintering is winding down and most of them are headed back north.

So the roads are fine... but the bigger problem will be the competition. There isn't any real need for an offseason here, it's warm enough to ride throughout if you can handle a little rain. And people look pretty fit so far. Of course, I have no way of knowing til I make it to the start line, but there is a pretty serious culture of fitness here. As opposed to DC, where the emphasis is on drinking.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Early Arrivals

Posties show they have no intention of repeating one of their 2003 errors -- limited racing days. And to make matters more interesting, they blew away the competition in Portugal. Did Lance gift the GC to his teammates, or is he in miserable shape? Methinks the former; it's not like the opposition wasn't trying when Lance won Saturday's time trial...

Meanwhile, Tyler is cooling his heels for Paris-Nice, March 7-14.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

R.I.P. Marco

The mystery around Pantani's death will probably take a while to unravel, being conducted by Italians and therefore subject to unnecessary delay, speculation and hyperventilating. Was he just unhealthy, or did he pay the ultimate price for altering his body chemistry once too often?

Pantani the doper will go down as one of the great questions of our cycling time. Everybody seems to think he took something, and his positive EPO at the 1998 Giro speaks volumes. The question, though, in fairness to Il Pirato, is whether he did anything beyond what the others did, or did he do just enough to level the playing field? If the latter, this is a cycling tragedy, a situation where one guy thought he needed to dope up just to keep his rightful place, and paid with his life. I am inclined to believe he was more of a victim than perpetrator, that he did what he felt he had to do, as opposed to being one of the doping pioneers.

Pantani the cyclist was something to see, right? He attacked a lot, even when it was blatantly obvious what his "strategy" was. The guy could climb, period. I don't think Lance ever worried about him for the GC, but he was one of those guys you have to keep an eye on. Not in the class of Armstrong or Ullrich, guys who also are pretty clean. But he was a constant force on every significant climb.

Add the cyclist to the controversial figure and you arrive at the miserable place Pantani occupied much of this past year. He had the hopes of all of Italy riding on them, and he delivered, only to tarnish his achievements with the positive EPO test a year later. He apparently was emotional and depressed by nature, so the pressure and the inquiries wore him out, no doubt. The great ones are scrutinized; had Marco been mediocre, he would have remained out of the public eye, and may still be alive and riding today...

Monday, February 16, 2004

[Us] Baby Steps

First impressions of Seattle by bike:

1. The hills are brutal. Seriously, there are pitches I'm scared to go down. I checked out my bike commute -- only 8 miles one way on a flat if otherwise pleasant trail. It pissed rain the entire time, of course. Punishment for two months off the bike. But I almost lost it going to the trail from my house, nosediving down these cliffs they call city streets in the rain. There are more gradual routes, and apparently the city has thought this out, since the gradual ones have bike lanes. Live and learn.

2. There is definitely a serious bike community here, even if it will take time to tie in. I went to the Seattle Bike Expo Sunday, where mostly people are swapping used or overstock gear. Some cool stuff, including a custom frame titanium track bike I was drooling over -- but I promised Stacey I would do some real track riding before investing in a bike. I did come away with a new Giro Pneumo for half price.

3. There are a lot of races. Check the calendar. Something tells me I won't be ready for the training series in, um, two weeks.

4. It rains a lot here. I'm gonna need more layers, and about five pairs of those waterproof socks. And I'm riding my beater as often as I can stand to work. Still, those fresh pacific rains are less acidic than the tap water in DC, let alone the rains.

How's everyone else's training coming? We definitely should do Tucson next year.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Seattle Calendar

Chock full... check it out

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