Who are we? We are our stories.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fascism in the Heartland: Busting a Vegan Potluck

During the Republican Convention in Minneapolis my daughter was involved in protests. Although she is now 12 time zones away, she keeps us up to date on events. As Americans we must be ever vigilant or we will lose our freedoms. This was posted in on an activist site a couple of days ago:

"28 March 2009
Dear Chief Dolan,
I am writing to you as a resident of the Steven's Square neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Today, the so-called "RNC 8"—charged with organizing direct action during the 2008 RNC—held a bike tour of the sites of the pre-RNC house raids in Minneapolis, before planning to cycle on to the sites of similar raids in St. Paul. The two parts of the day were organized to be split with a community lunch at the Walker Church. The participants were a wide range of people including local quakers, community activists, journalists, lawyers, educators, etc.—basically a cross-section of the city.
At 3:00pm today (Saturday March 28th), there were 6 bike police, a police van, a squad car, and a creepy-looking dark sedan stationed outside the Walker Church during the lunch.
The planned ride to St. Paul was cancelled because of this climate of intimidation. Nonetheless, the police continued to deploy in great numbers on the Marshall St. Bridge, where the ride had been scheduled to cross. And in St. Paul, several patrol cars were observed at the RNC raid sites that the ride had planned to visit, including 3 cars blocking the intersection at Iglehart and Chatsworth, next to Mike Whalen's house which was raided.
You may recall that Mr. Whalen's house was raided as the FBI believed that he was "collecting weapons" for the RNC. It turned out to be boxes of vegan literature for his room mate that had in fact been arriving at the house for a year and a half prior to the event. A video crew from New York was raided at gunpoint and handcuffed. Haven't you all already done enough to Mr. Whalen? This is blatant police thuggery.
It is estimated that 20-30 police officers and federal law enforcement officials took part in this apparently joint powers operation to harass a few dozen people on bicycles eating a community lunch in a church. Is the City's budget not already in trouble enough without this wanton waste of public funds?
Despite all road rules being obeyed and respected, there was one arrest for "disorderly conduct" of someone attempting to leave the event earlier. From what I understand, he was picked off as he left the main group, which continued on the Greenway. The Greenway, for heaven's sakes, an official city bike route with only pedestrian and bike traffic! Is there no sense of proportion left in in the Cities?
My question to you is very simple: What exactly is going on in the Twin Cities these days, when the police feel that it is acceptable to harass people peacefully gathering for political/community events and taking a casual bike ride around the cities—a group of no more than a few dozen people?
Enough is enough. We are supposed to be living in a free society. It is the job of government officials to guard those freedoms jealously. It is therefore totally unacceptable that police deploy in such large numbers for small events or—frankly—even at all if no crime is being committed.
The job of the police is not to intimidate citizens, yet this is exactly what is going on these days. It is completely disgusting to see this in America. Something needs to be done. A clear message needs to be sent to end—for once and all—such intimidation of the community.
The RNC has left the Cities, apparently the Cities cannot let go of the RNC overkill mentality of policing. I urge you to take immediate, unambiguous action.
You are making the Cities a scary place to live. We should be able to go about our Constitutionally-guaranteed business, our political associations, and our vegan potlucks without this kind of—frankly—pervasive and fascist intervention.

Nigel Parry

Minneapolis, MN"

Maps and John P.

My great-grandfather, John P. Nelson was a very intelligent, self educated man. He had wanderlust in his soul, but because he had cows to milk every day, he did his traveling with books and maps. Dora was his anchor... in more ways than one. He kept a very formal daily journal, always referring to himself in the second person, Mr. John P. Nelson. Only once did he deviate from this formality, when Grandma died. A simple underlined entry, "Ma died today", summed it all up. After after she died and Marshall took over the farming operations, he ventured more from Shelby County, Iowa to visit relatives and see wondrous places... like Minnesota! After one such sojourn to spend time in Clarks Grove, Minnesota, where two of his children had moved and spawned a passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, my father had the taxi duties to ferry old John P 250 miles back to his home in Iowa. As I mentioned in an earlier post, during my childhood my father owned a series of light airplanes. As he had upgraded from a two-place J-3 Cub to a plusher four-place Aeronca Sedan, he thought it would be easier on the octogenarian to fly down. As we flew down over the villages and farmland, navigating by highway, the old cartographile called out the names of the small towns before we could read the names painted on the sides of the watertowers. He kept repeating, "My goodness! If I were a younger man, I would have one of these wonderful machines!"
...but I digress, what I meant to say is, the crushed-rock country lane runs south from Whalan and follows a little trout stream, Gribbon Creek, twisting, turning, gently climbing through the woods for about five miles. Then I can take the road east to the once village of Highland, ride north to pick up the east branch of the creek, and roll downhill back to Whalan, population 64...just big enough for a coffee shop with homemade pie and ice cream. Cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Sometimes good things happen unexpectedly. Little things. Lorna's sister, Linda and Larry were in the Caribbean for a couple of weeks. Yesterday they dropped off a couple of really good cigars from the old country for me. :-)

As Easy As Falling Off a Bike

From "The Onion":
Lance Armstrong: 'Riding A Bike Isn't Something You Just Remember How To Do'

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts on the Flood

"The main event is right now, while we have this higher water. And it ain't over till it's over," said U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., comparing the need for vigilance until the very end to the University of North Dakota's stunning, last-second loss in the hockey playoffs the night before. "And it ain't gonna be over until several days from now", said Pomeroy, finally running out of sports metaphors.

And: "We can sit back and know that we've done what we can do. Now God's going to do what he can do," said church member Tami Crist. (Apparently overlooking the fact that it was her God that rained destruction down on her head in first place.) Oh well, forgive and forget.

It's Spring!

Shot from the back deck. So? There's no ice on the lake! The ice is OUT. We have survived one more winter. This means I can temporarily drop my fascination with bicycles and start fixating on the perennial garden, migratory birds, and actually riding the bicycles.

Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, a Spanish 5 stage early season race was this past week. It proved most remarkable for being the race that took Lance Armstrong down with an injury, a temporary setback in his quest to return to the top of professional racing. Without Lance, the Astana boys still proved to be strong. My pick to win the Tour de France, Alberto Contador, placed a nice second behind Levi Leipheimer. Levi is a strong rider, but I fear a little long in the tooth to win the Tour. We shall see.
This season could be an interesting one for Astana. Levi is in good form, I believe Contador is the best of the lot, and of course there is always the looming specter of Mr. Armstrong. Keep in mind, Lance is a close friend of team manager, Johan Bruyneel, as well as a part owner of the team. Who will the team support, the big name, or the best rider? Maybe it will prove to be one and the same...but not likely.

1. Levi Leipheimer (Astana) 15hr 33min 26sec. 659.3 km raced at an average speed of 42.38 km/hr
2. Alberto Contador (Astana) @ 16sec
3. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) @ 22sec
4. Stef Clement (Rabobank) @ 49sec
5. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 1min 7sec

Friday, March 27, 2009

Michele Bachman

Disclaimer: I live in Minnesota. Michele Bachman is the U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 6th District. The 6th isn't really in Minnesota; it's in some parallel universe - like in Bizarro Minnesota, where everything is reversed. It's like our version of Orange County. And Michele Bachman isn't a real Representative. She's...she's... Bizarro Representative Bachman!

Professional L'Eroica

Mansini, our "Italian" correspondent, lives just across the Italian border in Switzerland. As he mentioned in his comment to the previous posting, there is also a professional version of L'Eroica, which I suspect was originally set up as an Italian answer to Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, the mother of all races. Like P-R it has it's own road issues, rather than the cobbles, it has the white choking road dust of le strade bianche and 15% grades. If you don't have a frame of reference to a 15% grade, it'll turn a good cyclist into a pedestrian pushing a bicycle. Kvale has ridden these hills on his vacation. I said that it really sounded like fun. Chris, who would never directly call me a lard ass, said simply and directly, "You can't do it." As an indication of the backbreaking difficulty of this race, in 2007 only 42 of 113 professional starters completed the race, a much higher drop out rate than the supposedly difficult Tour de France (an easy ride through the countryside). The Italian people seem to appreciate the suffering of cyclists, but for some reason never have adopted the professional L'Eroica, preferring instead to cheer on the amateurs, the everyman, those that Mansini referred to as "the duffers". Careful Rory, you're hitting pretty close to home there. I am rather proud of my dufferhood.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Some of my favorite roads are the narrow twisting crushed rock back roads that wynd through the wooded valley, up and down the hillsides surrounding Lanesboro, Minnesota. Viewed from Google Earth they are a maze of spider webs laid on the green moss ridges. They have names like the Ox Trail Road, the Hogback Road, or are named for the streams they cross, or for the long dead farmers who worked the abandoned farms. My Peter Mooney bicycle with it's fenders, wide tires and big gears was built up specifically for these roads, roads where you can ride for two hours and never meet a car or truck. I think of them when I see photos of these wonderful lads riding L'Eroica in northern Italy.

Every Fall approximately 600 mostly older men gather in Tuscany for L'Eroica, a ride over over the white crushed rock backroads of Tuscany. It is a ride, a 200km race, for "big old men on big old bikes". As it winds it's way through the villages the locals line the streets cheering, offering wine, fruit, bread and cheeses to the riders...the heroes. A great country Italy.Add Image I have to pack a lunch.

(Photos from the Italian Cycling Journel)

Margaret "Dolly" Beaucage

It's Springtime up North. This means it's Flooding Time on the banks of the Red River... again this year. What people sometimes fail to grasp is that the terrain is dead flat, and the Red flows north to the Hudson Bay. The water is flowing in a river that is still frozen downstream and the water has no place to go except out across the flat farmland and towns of North Dakota and Minnesota. This cannot be a good thing.. again this year.

"...official briefings lost the jokes and quips that had broken the tension earlier in the week. Instead, Thursday's meeting opened with a prayer.
"We need all the help we can get," Mayor Dennis Walaker said.
The city of 92,000 unveiled a contingency evacuation plan Thursday afternoon, but at least four nursing homes already had begun moving residents by then.
"A few of them said they didn't want to go. I said I'm going where the crowd goes," said 98-year-old Margaret "Dolly" Beaucage, who clasped rosary beads as she waited to leave Elim Care Center.
"I'm a swimmer," she said, smiling, "but not that good a swimmer."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Armstrong Falls!

Today, March 23rd, Lance Armstrong crashed in the final kilometers of the first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, breaking his right collarbone. Age has finally caught up with the wily veteran and he no longer seems to be the competitive rider he once was. Insiders state he is clearly the number two rider behind Alberto Contador on Team Astana. Some in the know have postulated that Mr. Armstrong, a consummate bike handler, took a face saving dive as a convenient way out of an awkward situation. (Okay, I made this all up - except for the part about the broken collarbone.)

Moulton's Ten Commandments

1. Pray as you cycle, but not with your hands together and your eyes closed.

2. Thou shall not run red lights, except when there is no one else around; it shall be as the tree falling silently in the forest.

3. When a motorist cuts you off, offer up the sign of the cross. One finger pointed towards Heaven will not suffice.

4. Thou shalt wave to thy fellow cyclist. If he should ignore you, offer your blessing, and not “Fuck you, moron.”

5. If three consecutive cyclists ignore your wave, you are exempt from the forth commandment.

6. If passed while climbing a steep hill by a Fred with a 30 inch granny gear, resist the urge to wish that his chain will jump over his plastic dork disc and rip every spoke from his rear wheel.

7. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass, nor his six-pack abs, or any other part of his body.

8. Before the sun sets on the Sabbath, thou shalt shave your legs.

9. The meek shall inherit the earth. Blingy equipment that is lighter than an anorexic butterfly, will not substitute for miles in your legs.

10. Thou shalt not lie. Thou shalt not go on Internet forums under a pseudonym and boast how you blew all your friends away on an 8,000-foot climb, when the biggest hill in your area is a bridge over the freeway.

John Cheever

“The most wonderful thing about life seems to be that we hardly tap our potential for self-destruction.”

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dave Moulton

Dave Moulton built some beautiful, fast bicycles. They were ridden in the Tour de France, World Championships and Olympic Games. His bikes would certainly be on my shortlist if I were to ever buy another bicycle. He quit building and moved on to become an author, musician and songwriter. In the process of living, he neglected to keep a bicycle for himself. The link is to a short piece on his blog about the Tribute Bike.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Simpson's Ride Into the Abyss

Okay Rev, you want suffering, we'll show you how much a man can suffer with a pocket full of uppers. Note the quote in New Testament Red - a nice touch, eh?

"The temperature on the road that afternoon in sun-blistered Provence was a roasting 54C and his body had long stopped sweating in rebellion and his heartbeat climbed to well over 200. He had gone way beyond the red zone that cyclists talk about and slipped into the twilight zone, next stop oblivion.
Just over two kilometres from the top, where the white shale of the summit reflects the sun and turns up the wick further, Simpson fell to earth. Did he actually whisper: "Put me back on the bike." Words subsequently attributed to him? Who knows, but they have gone down in legend and they sound authentic enough.
Simpson was the GB team-leader and far and away the biggest fish in a smallish British pool. He was the totem-pole around which British cycling gathered. Team managers and mechanics did exactly what he said.
Another 500 agonizing yards up the mountain he fell again and was very probably dead before he hit the ground - heart failure brought on by heat exhaustion. The Tour doctor, Pierre Dumas, could have been anywhere along the course but he was close by, and on arrival immediately began resuscitation procedures, although he feared the worse. He also called in a helicopter which eventually transferred Simpson to Avignon Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:40pm."

A memorial to a drug aided career. Bizarre. Baseball anyone?

100th Milan-San Remo

(clipped from somewhere and someone who was actually there)

Cavendish beat Haussler by about 10 centimetres. Hushovd came in third at two seconds. Heinrich Haussler really made the gap when he launched his sprint. But Cavendish's comeback in the last 50-100 metres was just sensational.
100th Milan - Sanremo Results
1. Mark Cavendish
2. Heinrich Haussler
3. Thor Hushovd
4. Allan Davis
5. Alessandro Petacchi
6. Daniele Bennati
7. Aitor Galdos
8. Enrico Rossi
9. Luca Paolini
10. Peter Velits

Mario Cipollini himself is now singing the praise of Cavendish and the Brit's "Extraordinary Talent" (two words the Lion King just said over and over again half a dozen times).
You really can't blame Cipo. It's not that common to win a difficult (perhaps not because of its hills, but certainly due to its lenght) race like this at your first ever attempt, but guys like Mark Cavendish ... yes, they can!! Just call it "Generation change" if you want. Cavendish was born in 1986, Haussler is pure class of 1984. And the boys of the 1970s couldn't do much to stop them.
Petacchi didn't even make the podium, Rebellin made a new addition to his "I tried, but couldn't" collection. And Lance Armstrong was never really a factor in today's race - media coverage aside of course. Mark Cavendish gained about 20 metres on Haussler in the last 200m.
Mark Cavendish talks as fast as he rides, so it was quite hard to catch everything he said in his first talk with Italian TV's "serial interviewer" Alessandra Stefano. But we clearly hard him say "this is the biggest day in my life" adding that "I'm happy, I'm very happy" and praising George Hincapie in particular
He even admitted that he had a hard time when he saw Haussler go away like that in the final straight. But he didn't lose hope and won. Mark Cavendish sprints as fast as he speaks English, you know ...

1984 Chris Kvale

Dan Lestrud dropped over on Tuesday evening for smart talk and Akavit shots. He also brought over the new wheelset. They are built of Mavic rims laced to vintage Phil Wood hubs with 4-cross DT Revolution spokes - not strictly period correct, but smooth, light, and absolutely round and true.
This was the builder's personal bike for a number of years, as indicated by his name stamp on the bottom bracket. I built this bicycle up close to what it would have been in 1984. Chris' choice of saddles would have been a Cinelli Unicantor. The Selle Concor Superleggeri I put on is very light with it's aluminum rails and was state of the art. I think it is a prettier saddle than the Unicantor. Chris disagrees...but it was my money being spent. Maybe I'll put on a Cinelli after I hit the railroad tracks hard with my fat ass securely planted and I break the Supperleggeri rails. In general it's a typical Campagnolo build-up except for the hubs, Simplex Retrofriction shifters and the salmon brake pads, upgrades over soft spots in the Campy lineup. I have a set of Modolo Pro brakes...I'm considering it. It's 58cm seat tube x 56cm top tube, which gives it a short wheelbase and no doubt it's little twitchy, fast steering like a highstrung sports car. I compensated a little for the short top tube with a long Cinelli stem.
Dunno what it weighs, but it's a light bike for it's day. For those people who have seen other handbuilt bicycles that are fine, just look hard at the seat cluster on this little jewel. Just look.

Friday, March 20, 2009

June 5,1988 - The Day the Strong Men Cried

Rev Dick, paster of the Church of the Sweet Ride (many attend - few understand), has expressed an interest in epic rides, to help guide his flock to true enlightment.
Rydjor Bike, my LBS, has a beatup Raleigh frame that was race ridden by Andy Hampsten, the pride of Grand Forks, North Dakota (this becomes important later in the story). Also tucked away in a drawer is Andy's rider's license for the years 1985 through 1988, the year he became a man - no, the year he became The Man.
(Please pardon the funky spacing. The html was converted from a harvested Adobe document and it doesn't wrap well.)
Andy Hampsten:
"From the start of the Giro, I knew the Gavia Pass was
going to be the key stage. The 1966 winner of the Giro, Italian Gianni Motta had
befriended our team and throughout the early stages of the Giro he kept telling
me "Andy, the Gavia is your stage to take the pink jersey". It was really cool
that an Italian was so supportive of an American and an American team trying to
win his national race. We knew that the conditions were going to be pretty bad
on the Gavia Pass. The morning of the stage, the race director held a meeting
with all the team managers and he told them that it was snowing on top of the
pass but the road was clear. Armed with that information, our support personnel
scoured the shops in Sondrio, where we were staying and bought all the warm
gloves and wool hats they could find. Each rider was then asked to pack a
special mussette bag which was to be handed to the rider ½ mile before the summit
of the pass. All our warmest clothes including the hats and gloves went into the
bag. The stage had two climbs, the relatively minor Passo Aprica, a 2000 foot
climb followed by a 1500 foot descent then a long, gradual 2000 foot ascent up a
valley to the 4500 foot, 10 mile climb over the Gavia followed bya 15 mile, 4500
foot descent into Bormio and the stage finish. Things started to look grim on the descent of the Aprica. I was wearing tons of clothes, but the rain had been coming down in buckets from the start of the stage and I was shaking badly from the wet and cold. In the valley going up to the base of the Gavia I was upset because this was going to be my big day and it appeared that it was not going to happen. Slowly, I began to accept that it was going to be bad and that it was going to be bad for everyone else. I convinced myself that I should just stick to the plan that we had hatched weeks before. I had a good relationship with my coach, Mike Neel, and I trusted him. In 1985, my first Giro, he and I had driven the route of my first stage win in the morning
before the stage started. Mike had shown me the exact spot to make my attack and
I went on to win the stage. I realized that I had to go 100% on the attack and
hold nothing back. I had about 10 kilos of wet clothing from the weather, but I
had to get rid of everything. I dumped my leg warmers and 2 extra jerseys. I was
down to shoes and socks, shorts, 1 undershirt, a thin long-sleeve polypro top
and clear Oakleys. I was wearing the "performance" jersey which is the rider with
the best combined point totals in sprints, climbing and overall classification
made of pretty thick wool, which was nice! My biggest asset was that I kept my
neoprene gloves. I realized that I had to keep my hands warm or I couldn't
function. Going up the valley, the "boys" (i.e. my teammates) were doing
everything they possibly could for me; bringing me hot tea every 5 minutes;
taking my clothes, etc. I was not sure how much I would have to suffer, but I
felt that we were all going to have to go to a new limit to get over the pass. I
knew I could suffer, but I also knew it would be very hard for my teammates so I
was trying to psyche them up as well. I remember telling Bob Roll that this would
probably be the hardest day on the bike in our lives. At the bottom of the
climb, the Del Tongo team was at the front riding tempo for their race leader,
Chioccioli, but, everybody knew I was going to attack. When the road steepened,
I went to the front and all the climbers marked my wheel. I could hear them
muttering "Hampsten is going to attack" and trying to discourage me. At this
point the road was still paved, but when I came around a left-hand switchback
and saw the road turn to dirt and the 16% sign, I punched it. I was definitely
playing head games. I wanted the other riders to be afraid of both my strength
and of the height of the climb. The other riders knew I was strong, I had won
the mountain stage to Selvino two days before. I was putting my cards on the
table now, so early on the climb, because on the valley approaching the Gavia, I
had re-affirmed my commitment to attack on this day. I was prepared to attack
multiple times, but I was relieved to see it break up so quickly into little groups. Zimmermann, Breukink, Chioccioli and Delgado were all chasing, but it was definitely breaking up. There was a small breakaway of minor riders up the road that was coming apartso I concentrated on picking off those riders. I was glad to finally be going hard again because I was still cold from the descent off the Aprica some 10 miles back. Because of all the rain, the dirt was really shaky. It was pretty soft, each tire left a groove mark. I had to use my 39x25 to make progress. I think I was more
comfortable on the dirt than everyone else; I trained a lot on dirt in Colorado
and I had ridden a lot in the snow in Colorado and in winters in North Dakota, I
had ridden my bike 3 miles each way to school in the snow. As I climbed higher
and higher, my mind started wandering and the psychological aspects of what was
happening started to creep into my mind. I felt that I had achieved my results,
to date, without taking any shortcuts, but when it started getting bad, I
thought about what I could do to make things better. I gave up on asking God for
any help, I was blessed already having the privilege of racing, instead I
speculated on what I would bargain for if the devil showed up. Demoralized by
this chain of thought, I realized that at the beginning of the day, I had relied
only on myself to get me through the stage. On the Gavia, as always, there where
no shortcuts and I had never looked for help from pills or other aids, although
I was in such a mental state that I doubt I would have resisted any temptation
that delivered me to Bormio. I must rely on myself to see me through. At 4mi to
go to the summit, my mind started going into a fog. I was going hard, but it was
not like I was murdering anyone, Breukink was the closest behind at about 1
minute back. I started thinking about how cold I was now and the 15mi descent
from the summit and the doubts started creeping in..... Were the team cars going
to get through? Would the soigneur be there at 2.5 mi to go with hot tea? Would
Och be there at 1km to go with my bag? What would I do when I got my bag? I
realized that if I stopped to put something on, I probably wouldn't keep going,
so I decided to just take the bag and keep riding. About 3mi from the top, I
went to put on a wool hat but decided first to brush the water out of my hair,
but my hand went 'thunk' on a huge snowball that fell onto my back. I got a
bottle of hot tea from our soigneur ET at the point of the climb that was carved
out of the mountain-side, which is about 2.5 miles below the summit. I tried to
hug the mountainside and get a moment of shelter but the spectators where more
determined to shelter themselves than move. At 1mi to go, the wind picked up and
the snow was blowing hard into my face .I was creating tracks in the snow from my
tires, but the traction was OK.

Now I really started thinking about the 15mi of descending and how cold I was
and how much colder I could get. At 1/2mi to go, I took my special bag with a
jacket and gloves from Och. The wind was blowing so hard that I could barely
keep the bike going and put my jacket on, no-hands. In retrospect, I should have
just stopped and put the jacket on since I lost 40-50 seconds to Breukink and he
eventually caught me at the top, but if I had stopped, I may never have started
again! When I saw the buildings I thought that was the top of the climb (it
was!) and if I was going to stop, I should do so here. But I really wanted to
race at that point. It wasn't survival yet. By the way it was snowing and the
way the flakes were coming down, I figured the storm was coming from the north
so I reckoned that the conditions would be much worse on the descent. Because of
this, I didn't fly over the top but held back to save some energy for the
descent. When Breukink caught me at the top, at first, I thought I would follow
him on the descent but he was going so slowly when the descent started that I
figured I should go in front and make my own mistakes. I learned later that
Breukink never put on a jacket. Instead, his team manager, Peter Post followed
him down the descent and kept him alert by yelling and cursing at him. I only
had one gear for the descent, all the others had iced up and I kept thinking that
I must keep pedaling to keep that one gear free of ice. The road at the top of
the descent was gravel. It was better for descending than asphalt as it did not
ice up. I tested it a couple of times to see if it was solid and it was. The
spectators on the descent did not know if the race had been cancelled so they
were wandering all over the road. On one turn, I almost hit a Carerra team
mechanic holding a spare pair of wheels and walking down the middle of the road.
I remember he was wearing this beautiful gore-tex full body suit and I really
wanted to have it on me! As I descended, I got colder and colder. I tried to
shut out the cold and concentrate on the road ahead. It was asphalt now, but
luckily it was not icy. I tried not to brake too hard. When I used the brakes,
first I had to break the ice from the rims, then scrape the water off before I
got any stopping power. I was concerned about hypothermia and just how much
colder I could get before I was no longer able to pedal the bike. My arms were
basically locked up from the start of the descent, I just tried to keep pedaling
to keep my legs moving. At one point, I looked down at my legs and through a
layer of ice and lanolin grease, I could see that they were bright red. After
that, I didn't look at my legs again. About 10km into the descent, Mike Neel in the team car caught up with me. There wasn't much he could do, the snow had turned to a cold rain, all I cared about was getting down to a place which was warm and I could stop. At about 6km to go, Breukink caught me, but I was totally blocked and could not respond. Breukink had no rain jacket on, just a jersey, so he could descend faster on the long straight drop into Bormio. There was no bloody way I was going to take my jacket off. After I crossed the finish line, I headed straight for our our soigneur, Julie. I was in such a rage trying to get down the mountain in one piece that
when our team doctor, Max Testa, came up behind me and tried to put his jacket
around me, I didn't realize who it was and since he was keeping me from Julie
and my warm clothes, I started punching him. Mike Neel came over and
straightened me out and got me in the team car, which was running it's heater
full blast! When I started to warm up the pain started to come back. Mike then
told me I had the jersey and the pain and the euphoria swept over me and I just
started crying, laughing and shaking. A whole wave of emotions covering the
range of finishing the stage to the realization that I would survive gave me a
brief and refreshing emotional meltdown . Within 10 minutes of the finish, I was
up on the podium. The pink jersey felt good. I slipped it on and all my doubts
went away. The TV interviews began and I remember saying 'Incredible, I have
never seen conditions like this, even in Colorado. Today it was not sport, it
was something beyond sport." Everyone who made it over the Gavia that day was a
winner. Even to this day, there is a clique of riders whose bond is that they
rode over the Gavia that day. One reason I think the Italian fans liked the
stage was that it epitomized their lives, especially post-war. All the suffering they had to endure to survive was similar to what I was going through."

And in Sports News Today:

North Dakota State lost to Kansas today in the first round of the NCAA. This is only of note because one of my daughter's high school classmates, Ben Woodside, scored 37 points in a losing effort. He can shoot. Earlier this year he racked up 60 points in one game. I contributed to his upbringing; when he was in middle school I told him if he couldn't act like a gentleman he could leave my house. I understand he grew up to be decent young man...but I don't think he ever came back to our house. If he did he kept a low profile. And the lesson is? Don't cross old man Berg - he's a cranky old a**hole.

Fiornzo Magni "...but the descent was hard"

VP: There is the famous picture of your riding holding a piece of inner tube in your mouth during the 13th stage, the individual time trail of San Luca. Can you explain?
FM: Just before the stage started I tried to ride my bike on a climb and I noticed I couldn't use the muscles of my left arm to pull on the handle bar very hard. So my mechanic, Faliero Masi, the best mechanic of all time, cut a piece of inner tube and suggested I pull it with my mouth. That was a great idea!
VP: Then, during stage 16, from Bologna to Rapallo, through the Apennines, you crashed again and broke your humerus.
FM: Yes, I didnt have enough strength in my left arm and I crashed after hitting a ditch by the road. I fell on my already broken bone and fainted from the pain. The ambulance came to bring me to the hospital. In the ambulance they gave me water and I got back on my feet. When I realized that I was being taken to the hospital I screamed and told the driver to stop. I didn't want to abandon the Giro!
I mounted my bike again and restarted pedaling. The peloton had waited for me, so I arrived in Rapallo in a relatively good position. I had no idea of how serious my condition was, I just knew that I was in a lot of pain but I didn't want to have X-rays that evening. During the days that followed I could hold my own.
VP: You were even able to ride the Stelvio Pass (Stage 19)!
FM: Yes, there I didn't have problems on the climb, but the descent was hard. On the climb I could go up at my own speed. At that point my aim was just to finish the Giro, not to win it of course. I didn't want to abandon the Giro in the year of my retirement.
VP: Why did you have problems on the descent?
FM: Because I could not brake with my left hand and I skidded. That was tough!
(GB: Also note the name of the mechanic.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Charly Gaul - The Angel of the Mountains

The following was clipped from somewhere and probably rewritten and edited - I don't recall. I do know I wasn't there at the time. Charly Gaul was arguably the greatest climber in the history of cycling. He won a number of major races including the Giro and the Tour de France. He climbed toward the heavens like a homesick angel.

The first of these stupendous exploits was his race-winning move on the stage to Monte Bondone at the 1956 Giro. Starting what was that year’s final mountain stage, Gaul wasn’t even in the top 10 after he had flatted three times the previous day. He was lying in 24th place, a distant 16 minutes behind race leader Pasquale Fornara of Italy.
The 242km stage started from Merano in the Dolomites in cold, wet weather. Gaul made his first attack with Bahamontes on the day’s first climb, the Costalunga. They were reeled in on the descent, but Gaul attacked again on the second climb, the Passo Rolle. This time, the Angel of the Mountains really took flight and by the top of the pass race leader Fornara, suffering in the awful conditions, was four minutes behind. But Gaul then had more bad luck. Two punctures cost him six minutes and he was well behind the leaders when he reached the foot of the day’s third giant climb, the Brocon, as the rain redoubled in ferocity.
Over this third climb in a stage that would take the leaders nine hours to complete, Gaul again turned on his climbing power. He passed Fornara and set about chasing the other top Italians, Fiorenzo Magni and Nino De Filippis. The Luxembourger continued his relentless progress into a violent head wind. With about 40km to go, he had passed Magni, caught De Filippis and was only two minutes behind the leader on the road, Bruno Monti.
At this point, with Fornara almost five minutes behind, De Filippis was the virtual race leader. But once Gaul passed him, De Filippis suddenly lost all his willpower in the horrendous weather. He could barely turn the pedals and was soon re-caught by the Fornara group. De Filippis could go no further. He stopped, collapsed and was then carried into his Bianchi team car.
By the time Gaul reached the wet streets of Trento, at that foot of the 14km ascent to the ridge-like summit of Monte Bondone, the frail-looking 23-year-old climber was looking strong enough to win the stage and perhaps take over the pink jersey.
On the early slopes of the climb, where the grade was at 10 percent, the rain began turning to snow and later to a full blizzard, blown by gusting winds. The maglia rosa, Fornara, was overcome by the freezing temperatures and took refuge in a farmhouse. Others rode to a standstill, while some riders stopped to dip their freezing hands in bowls of hot water offered by spectators. Only 43 of the day’s 89 starters would reach the Bondone’s 5413-foot summit, and some of those arrived in cars (and were allowed to start the next day).
Gaul arrived at the summit finish almost eight minutes ahead of the second man, Alessandro Fantini, and 12:15 ahead of defending champion Magni. His face a wrinkled mess, his hands and feet turned blue, Gaul had won the stage and taken the Giro lead by 3:27 over Magni. Never in the history of the Italian race had one man come from so far back to win the overall title in a single day. Gaul had to have his clothes cut from his frigid body before he was immersed in a hot bath at his hotel. Two days later he was crowned the champion of the 1956 Giro d’Italia.
From Aldo Ross. I'd embed it if I wanted to figure out how. Someday. For now a link:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1976 Milan-San Remo

This coming Saturday the 21st, the bicycle racing season kicks off with the first of the one-day Spring Classics, the 100th edition of Milan-San Remo. I enjoy the one-day races more than the longer tours because there are less team tactics, less holding back. Because there is no tomorrow, there is less parsing of strength; they are mano-a-mano. There are those who maintain I am an opinionated S.O.B. (duh), but I offer the following, not as an opinion, but as a fact:

Eddy Merckx was the greatest rider to ever turn a pedal, and anyone who thinks otherwise is either a fool, or has absolutely no knowledge of cycling history.

The following is an edited down piece from the Milan-San Remo site:

Friday 19 March 1976. The 67th Milan-San Remo was won for a record seventh time by Eddy Merckx.
For once the man who had made Molteni sausages a dish royalty knew about, was not the pre-race favorite. His inconsistent form in Tirreno-Adriatico, which had finished three days earlier, saw him finish second overall to Roger De Vlaeminck. Merckx however had not fully recovered from an earlier bout of bronchitis.
Eddy Merckx was part of a leading group of fifteen riders that formed on the descent of the Capo Berta, which came after the 240 km mark. Along the rolling coast road Merckx attacked three times. Each time he caught the rest of the group by surprise with bursts of effort that took him up to 100 meters clear. Each time his rivals fought back up to him, but having to dig deep into their reserves of strength. Then suddenly the race route turned right off the wide coastal road and onto the narrower road of the Poggio climb. Here came the fourth and vital attack. Again it was a surprise move, but this time there was hesitation. De Vlaeminck and Maertens looked at each other, each hoping the other would bridge the gap. Instead it was a young Vandenbroucke who crossed and joined Merckx.
The two Belgians climbed side by side, and at the top it was clear the victory would be between these two. "Eddy asked me to do my share, but I had to confess that I was virtually at the end of my strength." Vandenbroucke said later. At the top, the nearest, Paris-Nice winner Laurent, was 15 seconds behind followed by Panizza, with the rest not far back. Merckx had out-witted his rivals once again, for most had been expecting an attack over the top of the Poggio, scene of several of his winning moves in the past.
Into San Remo itself, Vandenbroucke took over the lead from Merckx, who motioned him through. With 300 metres remaining Merckx erupted from Vandenbroucke's back wheel and the race was over.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Outside Mooney Shots

Some outdoor shots of the Peter Mooney which do not distort the proportions so much - and a couple of Luxor light shots, for those who are obsessed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've spent my adult life listening to Billy Joe Shaver, first on LPs, then tape and now CDs - I haven't quite made the hyperjumper to downloads yet. I share him with friends and they kind of wince and try to leave the room - you people know who you are. I slowly came to the conclusion that there were probably only seven people in the world that appreciated his work, that got it. I was wrong. From Bob Dyan's as-yet-untitled CD which will be out in April:

"I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver
And I'm reading James Joyce
Some people tell me
I got the blood of land in my voice"

Turns out there are eight of us. Maybe it's a smalltown Minnesota thing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

L.P. at the E.R.

Every Saturday morning at 9:00 I go to the Elbow Room Cafe and meet L.P. for breakfast. We talk, eat, drink coffee, talk some more. Sometimes after we eat we go on a short adventure, maybe to check out his brother's cabin up at the lake or just run a few errands around town. You know, exciting stuff. This hour or two is one of the high points of my week.
I have known L.P. literally all my life. Our parents were friends when we were children, then later we worked together. When I say "worked together'', that is exactly what I mean. For a number of years, before computers, we had adjacent drafting tables and even shared a telephone. Eventually we moved up and were were separated by office walls, but he was still there. Most of the other office conversation seem to revolve around sports. While I could dip my toes into that conversation for a while, it wasn't anything I cared about. L.P. was the person with whom I could discuss politics, philosophy, or the latest NOVA program. We exchanged books and articles. We shared an interest in obscure things like heritage roses, antique fly rods, native orchids and tallgrass prairie restoration. Over the years, who was influencing who, became obscured.
Then in a dark time, he left our company. Of course he found a better job almost immediately, but I was left isolated, alone...with no one but jockstraps to talk to. It was a dark time indeed. Our one hour a week helps keep me centered and focused again. Thanks.

Refurbished Peter Mooney

Here's a couple of shots of my Peter Mooney. It was originally a fully chrome bike, but over 25 years or so, the chrome was a little scraped up. The color is a charcoal blue green, which is a color match for 1938 Ford green. The main tubes are painted and also the pump and some inpainting on the crank, seatpost and fender ribs. The fork, rear triangle, and all lugs and braze-ons are still chrome.
Chris Kvale did the painting with paint furnished by Curt Goodrich (thanks, Curt). Yours truly masked the fenders ' cause Kvale thought it would be a pain - it was.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Global Warming

This information is from FSM and is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. It will be revisted on this blog from time to time. It's time I took off the gloves, pilgrims. Intelligent designers be warned - "My Grandfather was a pirate!" As is Al Dahl, a true believe, and a pirate of a man.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How your brain creates God

My religion tends toward Deism. If you are a traditional, conservative Christian , be warned that the link may not reinforce your beliefs; but it's always good to get outside our box and a stretch a little.

(If the link doesn't take you to an article, just hit it again and it should work)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hey, West Coast Cyclocross Nuts!

Friend and all round good person, Curt Goodrich, attended his first North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show in Indianapolis this past weekend and came away with an award for "Best Off-Road Bicycle". Nice job, Curt. (Oh yeah...a 16 pound steel bike.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Old Shifters

The bicycle derailleurs that shift the chain from one gear cog to another are springloaded, continually pressuring the derailleur toward the smaller cogs. The shifters can counter this by friction, detents, ratchets or internal springs. Most shifters back in the day used friction, which tended to unexpectedly upshift halfway up a hill, just when you really needed the big gears. Suntour developed a ratcheting systen that resisted the upshift, and Simplex used springloaded shifters. For the Kvale I'm building up, I've chosen the Simplex option, although in my case they were manufactured by Simplex and marketed as Mavic.