Slaying the Badger – Now on Video!

 

Back in 2011 the wonderful folks at VeloPress furnished me with a copy of Richard Moore’s “Slaying the Badger – Greg Lemond, Bernard Hinault and the Greatest Tour de France”. 

The book is an in-depth examination of the 1986 Tour de France where French cycling hero Bernard Hinault seemingly goes back on his promise of helping American upstart Greg Lemond win his first Tour de France after Lemond sacrificed himself to help an ailing Hinault win his record tieing 5th Tour the year before.

The book is an excellent look at a tipping point in the sport of cycling. 1986 introduces a cyclist from outside of the European establishment with a bone fide chance of winning cycling’s greatest prize. It marks a break from traditional training and tactics that had remained vastly unchanged since the 1920’s and 1930’s and along with an American capable of winning le Tour, the North American onslaught begins with Hinault and Lemond’s La Vie Claire team mates Canada’s Steve Bauer and fellow American Andy Hampsten. Also included in the 1986 tour is the first American team to compete in the event, the 7-Eleven team with Canada’s Alex Stieda who would be the first North American to wesr the Yellow Jersey (albiet for a fleeting moment).

Three years after the book, ESPN have released a fine documentary based on Slaying the Badger destined to go down as one of the better sporting documentaries of all time.

The ESPN doc takes time to give us the background leading up to the 1986 Tour. That race and subsequent dirty dealings needs some context and they do a fine job of establishing Lemond as the outsider, illustrating the mentorship Hinault provided and then the dramatic events of the 1985 climb to Luz Ardiden where Lemond was instructed to slow his pace to allow an injured Hinault the opportunity to limit his losses and eventually win his record breaking fifth Tour de France.

After that race Hinault publicly vowed to work for Lemond in return his sacrifice at next year’s Tour.

Money in the bank for Lemond, right? Not exactly.

When the 1986 Tour de France rolls around Hinault decides he’s got the legs to go for a record breaking 6th win and the backstabbing and double dealings that follow are Shakespearean in nature. Teammate Andy Hampsten labels it “fraternicide”, killing your brother. A pretty accurate assesment.

I’m a fan of documentaries, sports docs in particular. The cast of characters that include champions, villains, a tactical mastermind and an entrepeneur/puppet master/gigolo engaging in such dirty dealings reminds the viewer of Paul Jay’s excellent 1996 WWF doc “Hitman Hart – Wrestling With Shadows”. There are heros, villains and double dealings that are operatic in scope.

Perhaps the most striking segment of the film is when after Lemond and Hinault’s famous tandem ascension of l’Alpe d’Huez, crossing the finish line arm in arm and Lemond’s lead solidifed, Hinault mentions on live television that the Tour is not over and anything can happen. A flippant Frenchman bragging to television hosts. Seated next to an obviously incredulous American who thought his win was guaranteed on that day. His facial expression is the embodiement of “WTF?”.

In the end we all know what happened. Lemond remains the only American to have won the Tour de France, 3 times in fact. 

What’s most striking perhaps is the dynamic between Greg Lemond and his wife Kathy. The two had weathered this attack as well as an unbelievably vicious campaign from Lance Armstrong who destroyed the Lemond Bicycles company and attempted to do the same to Lemond’s personal reputation after Lemond was one of the first to cast doubts on Armstrong’s fraudelent career as Tour de france champion. After all of this we see a couple who are truly in love and seem to have grown strength from weathering these storms.

The ESPN documentary is a must see for any cycling fan and plays out like an opera. For newcomers to the sport, your love of cycling began here. If not for Lemond, if not for CBS, if not for John Tesh and if not for this rivalary of unparalelled proportions cycling in North America would not look like it does today.

You can see the entire Slaying the Badger documentary on YouTube.

The original book is available from VeloPress.

 

 

 

Go Christian Go!

 

I’ve been waiting a few years to write this post because somehow I knew it would be happening.

A New Brunswick cyclist will be starting in the Tour de France tomorrow.

Just let that sink in.

Our province has produced its’ share of world class business people, hockey players, academics and so forth but for NB to produce a world class cyclist who will be competing in the biggest bicycle race in the world is something truly special.

Christian Meier got the nod at the last minute after Orica GreenEdge team mate Michael Matthews had a hard crash during training that left him unable to start.

To appreciate the magnitude of a plucky little guy from Sussex lining up to take the start in the Tour de France consider this: New Brunswick has produced world class baseball and hockey players and to see them “go to the show” is something worthy of our excitement and pride.

Stick and ball sports like hockey and baseball however have infastructures in place and if talent is recognized at an early age, it can be nurtured and developed and brought up through the ranks until ready for a shot at the big time.

There is no such infastructure to speak of for a Canadian cyclist to break in to the top tier of international bicycle racing. This feat then, speaks volumes about Christian Meier’s talent and work ethic.

Having spoken with the Orica GreenEdge rider a few times for articles I have written on him I had learned that he is a guy not afraid of putting in the work. Cycling is about suffering and Meier has been reaping the rewards of being able to pedal through the pain. Last weekend he put in a tremendous effort to finish 3rd at the Canadian national championships. He won the climbers jersey at the Tour of Bavaria last month and earlier this year he was able to make it into the break at key races like Critereum du Dauphine. In 2013 he won 2 jerseys at la Vuelta a Catalunya. Not bad for a guy who’s role on the team is that of a domestique.

Meier is no stranger to the Grand Tours, he’s raced the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana but this is his first time in le Grand Boucle.

I’ve been following the Tour de France for 30 years and cheered on Canadian pioneers like Steve Bauer and Alex Stieda as they were the first Canadians to take to the roads of France, each of them Yellow Jersey wearers. I would never dream that someone who pedalled the same roads as me would be participating in the biggest bike race in the world.

I’ll be following each stage of the Tour hoping to see if he can get into a break, something he has been able to acomplish at other big races this year.

He’s not there to win. But he’s there, and that is pretty freaking awesome.

If you can’t catch the Tour de France on television http://www.cyclingfans.com is an excellent resource for live feeds  in multiple languages.

A New Brunswicker at the Tour de France. Imagine that.

 

Roubaix Belongs To All Of Us

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As cyclist the word “Roubaix” conjures up something very special.

Roubaix means toughness. Roubaix means the cold crosswinds of Northern France in April. Roubaix means cobbles, suffering and greatness.

When Cochrane, Alberta resident Dan Richter named is tiny bike shop above an ice cream parlour one would assume that he had the imagery of the hard men of the peloton doing battle across the cobbles of Northern France in mind when he named his shop Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio.

Coffee and cobbles, what cyclist doesn’t like those wonderful things?

Local Bike Shop owners are a special breed. They sponsor events, offer wisdom and their shops serve as the hubs for any local cycling scene. An Afghanistan war veteran, Dan Richter poured everything he had into Café Roubaix. He left the service after suffering PTSD and put his life savings and his settlement from the military into his shop to get it off the ground.

Now it seems that after fighting in Afghanistan Dan Richter has another battle on his hands, this time with a corporate giant of the cycling world.

As cyclists we know that Roubaix is the finish town for the greatest one-day bike race in the world, Paris-Roubaix. Year after year we have watched cyclists enter the Roubaix Velodrome to finish their epic battles through l’enfer du nord. Roubaix holds a special place in a cyclist’s heart.

But apparently, we can’t claim ownership to that.

No, that honour goes to Specialized Bicycle Corporation who trademarked the word Roubaix for the Specialized Roubaix road bike.

Apparently you can trademark a towns’ name. Who knew?

It would be rare that anyone would want to name their business after an existing brand. In this case, Dan Richter named his shop because of the romance cyclists have with that region of France.

The name Roubaix also exists on other bike related products and nonetheless, Richter has been receiving threats of legal action from Specialized. According to legal analysts, this is a battle Richter can easily win but unlike Specialized, he does not have the estimated $150,000 to take this to court and Richter may be in the position where he must change the name of his business. This by the way will cost him far more than simply putting a new sign in the window.

Yesterday something pretty incredible happened. The Calgary Herald reported Richter’s’ plight and it spread across social media like wildfire.

I tweeted the Calgary Herald article and then watched it go viral across my social networks. People were seeing this as corporate bullying at its’ worst. We all understand that companies trademark their product to protect their brand as they have the right to. But I don’t think anybody who walks into Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio would do so thinking of the Specialized Roubaix.

A trip to Café Roubaix would be where we would meet people with the same fascination for this beautiful, unique event that we all wait for each spring. It would be where we could talk about bikes and bike racing and spend money on the stuff we love.

On Twitter and Facebook and Instagram others with a love of Roubaix weighed in on the situation and sentiment was unanimous. This was a big corporation bullying the little guy and that was simply not acceptable. And in the process of these thousands and thousands of posts something amazing started to happen: people started taking Roubaix back.

The Specialized Roubaix is a bicycle. Roubaix, however is something much larger and the cycling community is taking Roubaix back.

Roubaix belongs to everyone who’s ever dreamed of riding across the cobbles of the North. Roubaix belongs to those of us who go to work on a Monday morning in April still filled with the excitement of yesterdays’ race but unable to share it with coworkers because they simply wouldn’t “get it”.

Since yesterday there has been no response from Specialized. Perhaps they are a company that sees social media engagement as a Monday to Friday option. If so, this weekend they will have learned that this is not the case. The Specialized social media team is going to have quite a Monday morning on their hands.

A tactic meant to protect the Specialized brand has failed miserably. But Specialized aren’t the only losers in this mess.

There’s Dan Richter who is in the position of changing his shops’ name if Specialized hold their line. There are also the thousands of local bike shop owners who carry the Specialized brand who are in the position of having their livelihood depend on a brand that is now perceived as a bully.

It will be interesting to see what Mike Sinyard and his team at Specialized do on Monday morning. There are a lot of variables in play right now but one thing is for certain.

Roubaix belongs to all of us.

See the original Calgary Herald article here:

http://blogs.calgaryherald.com/2013/12/07/war-veteran-forced-to-change-bike-shops-name-after-threat-from-u-s-bike-giant-specialized/

The BaldBiker’s Book Review: Feed Zone Portables. Delicious energy on the go.

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Do you remember when the original PowerBar came out?

Aside from struggling with the Mylar wrapper in the late stages of a mountain bike race, I recall my first experience with so called “Sports Nutrition” as a pretty unpleasant experience. They were hard to get at, hard to chew and tasted horrible. But they did work. To a point.

Sports Nutrition has come a long way sice those early days. Bars and gels are easier to digest and deliver performance. The problem is, “Sports Nutrition” has very little to do with actual food. A quick glimpse at a wrapper will confirm my claim.

Biju Thomas and Alan Lim started a food revolution in the professional peloton when they began fueling up pro cyclists like the Garmin team with real food recipes that allowed cyclists to fuel their bodies with food and not food based products.

Thomas and Lim took their recipes to the masses with the Feed Zone Cookbook, a hugely popular collection of recipes for atheletes that focused on fueling up with a delicious and healthy menu.

Their new book Feed Zone Portables available from VeloPress takes that concept on the go with a collection of recipes meant to boost performance while on the bike.

A few years ago I had fallen into the same trap that millions of North Americans have found themselves in: I was eating more food based products that actual food. I was riding and racing but had gained weight and never really felt all that well.

After reading books such as Gina Mallet’s brilliant “Last Chance to Eat” and Michael Pollan’s “In Defence of Food” I had made a concious decision to change how I fueled my body. Since then I not only lost 20lbs, I feel better. At work, at rest and of course on the bike.

It was once explained to me that “performance is 20% training and 80% nutrition”. Feed Zone Portables gives you the opportunity to make the best of that 80%.

I love three things: riding my bike, cooking and eating. Feed Zone Portables offered an opportunity for all three so I was pretty stoked when my copy was delivered. 

Before we get to the 75 excellent portable recipes, the book explains it’s philosophy and how nutrition affects performance and why their recipes work. It’s detailed but not so much that you’d have to be a doctor to understand the concepts.

I got a lot from the chapters on nutrition and performance but what I really wanted was to get to the recipes!

Having a wife with a cookbook fetish, I’ve read more than my fair share of recipes and the recipes in Feed Zone Portables are easy to understand and the results are delicious and worth an extra couple watts at the pedals I’m sure. Each recipe also comes with detailed nutritional information for those who pay attention to that.

A week before getting my copy of Feed Zone Portables a friend gifted me a rice cooker. Good timing, if you’re cooking with Feed Zone Portables you’ll be using that bad boy a lot!

Rice balls are one of my favourite recipes in the book and there are lots of options. Two Bite Pies also offer some savoury nutrition that is easy to bring along on a ride. (My daughters bake so I get them to help with the crusts.)

ImageSweet Potato and Bacon Rice Balls have become a regular staple in my on the bike diet now. They are very easy to make, travel well and offer lots of energy. And bacon.

I’ve been using the recipes from Feed Zone Portables for a couple of weeks now and find them very easy to make, absolutely delicious and love the fact that I’m being fueled by real food. 

Here’s the best thing: my kids have been robbing my stash of pre-cooked goodies and I’ve found myself bringing rice balls, baked eggs and two bite pies for lunch at my Glamorous Day Job.

The best way to improve cycling performance is to improve what you put into your body. Feed Zone Portables is your guidebook to easy to prepare high performance fuel.

Feed Zone Portables is available from http://www.velopress.com and at better bookstores everywhere.

 

 

 

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Energy Bits – Little Green Balls of Awesome

ImageOnce every so often I get product to review here. Today I got to try something that could be the future of sports nutrition.

I’ve been paying better attention to what I put into my body. Focusing on food, not “food based products”. And it’s been paying off. But when it comes to fueling my body for rides I had been opting for the convenience of so called Sports Nutrition while keeping a blind eye to the list of ingredients.

Let’s face it, do we really know what’s in those bars, gels and sport drinks? If we did, would we continue to use them?

Recently I came across something that intrigued me during a conversation on Twitter. A product called Energy Bits joined in a Twit Chat I was engaged in and offered me a sample. Who doesn’t love free stuff?

I did some research and Energy Bits brings something new to the table. They are not a sports supliment, they are not “sports nutrition”. Energy Bits are food. Perhaps, a superfood.

Energy Bits are small green tablets or “bits” made from Spirulina a freshwater algae dubbed by the United Nations and World Bank as the “healthiest food in the world”.

Elite atheletes have been extoling the virtues of Spirulina lately and the nutritional fact check is pretty impressive.

Having been out on a hard effort on the bike the previous evening and coming home from a long day at my Glamorous Day Job I was ready to pass on a ride or give myself the excuse of heading out on a “recovery ride”.

Instead I thought this would be a great opportunity to see if Energy Bits could breathe some life into a lethagic old dude. So I popped about 30 bits into my mouth and washed them down with water. (The best way to take them, the company says they are “an acquired taste”, marketing speak for “nasty”.)

Bits in I hopped on my bike and headed out into a stiff headwind.

After an initial warm up I started dropping the hammer and giving some big efforts. For a guy that didn’t want to ride, I was flying! Best of all, I didn’t have the “gut rot” I typically experience with gels or some bars. I felt better than I had expected and percieved a boost in performance.

These little, odd tasting things semed to work quite well.

With an ever increasing interest on understanding what goes into our bodies, Energy Bits may have a solid future in powering athletes bodies.

You can check them out and order product at http://www.energybits.com and follow them on Twitter at @ENERGYbits and #poweredbybits .

The BaldBiker’s Product Review: Muc-Off Bike Cleaner

Sometimes you get the urge to simply spend some money on your bike and this week I had one of those urges.

Sometimes the mistress deserves a little special treatment.

Springtime on the east coast of Canada is pretty hard on bicycles. The road hasn’t been cleared of a winters’ worth of grime and road salt and old nasty roadside snow banks leech a particularly nasty fluid on the road. Eventually that mess finds its’ way to your bike.

I’ve always been a bucket of car wash kind of guy when it comes to cleaning my bike but this week my trip to the local bike shop this week was then to pamper my road bike with a little spa treatment. Some proper bicycle specific clean and shine product. I’m familiar with the larger players in this market segment but the shop owner pointed me to something new. He indicated that he had just taken on a new line and suggested I give it a try.

He handed me the Muc-Off (like the name) Wash & Lube kit. Pricing in at around $35 Cdn the kit looks to be a good bargain. It includes a 500ml spray bottle of biodegradable bike cleaner, a 50ml tube of wet lube, a large microcell sponge, a detailing brush (quite handy) and the bag it comes in is durable enough to serve duty as a storage bag.Image

Having always washed my bike with car wash soap I was curious to see if a bike specific product would make any difference so in preparation for lots of weekend riding I put my bike on the back deck and started away.Image

Application is simple, wet the bike, spray on the product and wait 3 to 5 minutes for it to start working. Dirtier areas such as the drive side chainstay may require some extra coaxing with the detailing brush but I was impressed at how the road grime, dirt and sweat effortlessly seemed to fall off the bike.

A quick rinse revealed the product actually worked better than any car soap I’d used and brought a nice shine back to my ride.Image

Would I recommend it? Yes, it’s a time saver and does a fantastic job of cleaning the bike of the grime, sweat and other nasties that can cling to your frame.Image

Please note: the BaldBiker is always open to product for review. Take note Castelli, Cervelo etc.

Ion Designs: Keeping You Safe in the Dark

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Claire Driscoll wants to make sure your first impression is a bright reflection.

Driscoll owns and operates Ion Designs, a small business focused on making sure runners, cyclists and pedestrians are safe in low light conditions. After realizing that if she wanted better visibility while running in the evening she would have to purchase all new running gear, not exactly the most financially attractive proposition.

“I run and cycle and when I was looking for reflective materials I wasn’t finding any.” Driscoll explains over a coffee. “I already had lots of gear and I surely wasn’t going to go out and buy all new gear so I started looking for what’s available and quickly found that there’s nobody doing this in Canada, there’s a few in the States but they don’t seem to be too big or too active. This has a lot of potential!”

What makes Ion Designs unique is that her reflective products can be applied at home with an everyday iron and not a professional grade heat press. She poured over sample after sample until she found a supplier that had a product that worked easily for both her die-cutting process and the end user at home.

Doing anything on the road in the evening exponentially increases the risk of a collision with a vehicle. Statistics indicate that the number of pedestrians killed between 6pm and 9pm is higher than any other 3 hour time frame and that nearly 65% of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6pm and 6am.

Claire Driscoll believes that visibility is the key to reducing your risk of being struck by a vehicle and her products make it easy for you to safeguard yourself and your children from potential risk.

Presently her website features about 50 designs that appeal to runners, cyclists, triathletes and pretty much anyone who would want to be safe outdoors.

While she started marketing to fellow runners her product has also proven to be a popular fundraiser for schools and community groups. Because her process is relatively streamlined she can create school and team logos etc. that can be transferred to gym bags, backpacks and jackets.

Driscoll tells me that she hears a lot of praise for her products and only hears one concern which she can easily overcome. “Some people worry if it may affect their garment, they shell out a lot for that LuLu Lemon hoodie and they wouldn’t want to harm it. It`s quite simple actually, if you follow the garment instructions on the tag of your garment you’ll be fine.

You can find Ion Designs in fitness shops across Atlantic Canada and of course on line at www.iondesigns.ca Driscoll is also excited that soon she’ll see her first ad in Runners World magazine and hopes that this year is the year her business really takes off.

Neil Symington vs. the Worlds

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17 year old Sussex, New Brunswick resident Neil Symington has only been racing bicycles for 5 years and this weekend he’s off to Kentucky to represent Canada at the World Cyclocross Championships. This qualifies as “off to a quick start”.

 

I’ve had the opportunity to be lapped by Symington several times at local cyclocross races and recently chatted with him about his love for cycling and what it means to represent his country on the international stage.

 

Symington hails from Sussex, a typical Canadian small town known for being a top dairy producer. It’s a place where you’d expect to see a local farm boy make it to the NHL. For some reason, Sussex has been producing quality cyclists. Sussex is also home to Christian Meier who currently rides at the top tier for Orica Green Edge.

 

Neil Symington leads the typical high school life, hanging out with buddies and engaging with epic ping pong battles with his friends on weekends. But outside of school and his social network, Symington has committed himself to the life of a cyclist. In five short years he has gone from an introduction to the sport to representing his country at the top tier. His life in cycling started at the age of 12 dirt jumping his mountain bike with local buddies.

 

“I started hitting jumps like all of the local kids and then was encouraged to participate in local group rides put on by Outdoor Elements our local shop.” Symington explains that once he experienced the camaraderie of riding in a group, he was hooked. “John McNair from Outdoor Elements led group rides up to the Bluff (a tough local trail) and I was having my ass handed to me. For some crazy reason, I started to fall in love with it.”

 

Symington races every discipline of cycling that is available to him. He’s had success on the road, on the track and as a mountain biker. Cyclocross is something that he has found combines elements from every corner of the cycling world. “I was racing mountain bikes at the Mike’s Bike Shop (Moncton) series and everyone was talking about ‘cross in the fall. I had no idea what they were talking about but I went and tried it on my mountain bike. I thought it was a really cool. It combined everything. It had the feel of road racing, some of the skills of mountain biking and it’s a short and intense event. It feels like a lot of stuff but it’s completely unique. From the get go I thought it was pretty cool.”

 

This year Neil Symington was invited to compete at the Canadian Cyclocross Championships as a junior where the field for the Worlds team would be assessed. He entered the competition with high hopes and good form but says he may have made a costly mistake in his preparation. “Oh man, I wanted to win. I really wanted the jersey but I underestimated the weather, a total rookie mistake. It was cold and wet and I wasn’t prepared for that. I led the first part of the race but I was in a bad way because I had the wrong gear. I slipped back and finished 5th because I was suffering. The next day they had a ‘revenge’ race against the same field and I was prepared for the conditions and won against the guys that beat me the day before.”

 

His performance on that weekend earned him a spot on the Canadian National Cycling Team to represent Canada as a junior at the World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky this weekend. Symington is looking for a good placing but training for the Worlds in the middle of a Canadian cold snap has meant he’s had to make adjustments in his preparation. “I’m pretty lucky to have a 2 acre backyard and my Dad and I built a cyclocross course for me to practice on. It’s got run-ups and barriers so I get to work on my technique. Once the snow flew I hit the trainer and the rollers hard. It’s tough but it has to be done.”

 

Neil Symington says he’s anxious to make a good showing in Kentucky and makes note that he wouldn’t be there without the support of his family, his sponsor Oakley Atlantic and National Cycling Centre Atlantic Canada.

 

Symington’s’ Coach Luc Arseneau feels the 17 year old is putting in the necessary work for a good ride. “I’ve rarely seen Neil so focused on a specific goal as he has been for this World Cyclocross Championship. He’s put some very good hours and has shown a constant progression throughout his preparation.”

 

Reflecting on his first opportunity to don the Canadian colors Symington is committing to putting in his best effort on the day and has set a personal goal for the event. “I’m taking it in as my first experience on the national team. Personally I want to be the best Canadian. It’s a truly great feeling to represent Canada and I’m going to be very proud to wear that jersey.”

 

At only 17 Neil Symington is committing to the life of a cyclist and may very well be the next rider to put New Brunswick, a seemingly unlikely place to find cycling talent on the map. He notes the success of fellow NB’ers Peter Wedge and Christian Meier as example of riders who, like him committed to the effort and saw results. He says he’s ready to follow in those wheel tracks to see where his two wheeled journey will take him. “Cycling is my life now. I don’t know where my spare time would be like without cycling. It’s going to be quite a ride.”

 

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The Bald Biker’s Book Review: The Time Crunched Cyclist

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Almost thirty years ago when I started in the sport of cycling training meant riding. Just ride your bike lots and you should get better. Eventually talk of interval training, heart rate monitors and power meters began to enter into the conversation and it became evident that if you were going to improve as a cyclist simply riding the bike wouldn’t be enough. You were going to need a plan.

This year after nearly 20 years away from the local peloton I decided that I wanted to return to racing. At first the goal was simply “don’t crash, don’t finish last”. As the season progressed my goals changed and I wanted to be competitive.

I needed a plan. But I needed one that was workable within my reality. I’m a 48 year old father of 3 with a glamorous day job and bike time is at a premium. 

Recently Velo Press released a new edition of Chris Carmichael’s The Time Crunched Cyclist. This new edition comes with new plans for commuters, mountain bikers and cyclocross. This year was to be my first season trying my hand at cyclocross so I would use the Time Crunched Cyclist as my plan of attack.

If you’ve been following cycling as long as I have the name Chris Carmichael should be familiar to you. He was part of the ground breaking Team 7-Eleven that revolutionized cycling and brought it to a global audience.

Carmichael’s Time Crunched Training Program (TCTP) focuses on intensity in absence of time. If you’ve only got 6 hours a week to ride, you should maximize every minute and the TCTP gets you there with very intense interval training that balances effort and recovery.

Carmichael calls cyclocross “a perfect application of the TCTP”. Cross races are short and intense, exactly like the workouts in his book. What I liked about the Cyclocross training in the book was the fact that it mixed things up. A combination of intervals and basic cyclocross skills practice kept things fresh.

A word on the intervals: they are hard Very hard. But you have to be honest with yourself and give the effort prescribed in the book. For someone who hasn’t done intervals in ages Power Intervals and Power Intervals with Run Ups make you dig deep and hurt like hell. Eventually, you learn to love the pain. Fifty Shades of Mud.

I entered ‘cross season in week 4 of the plan, as allowed in the book. My first cross race was an eye opener. I had never encountered that kind of intensity in cycling. And it didn’t stop. After 50 minutes at maximum effort my goal was to simply survive. I was begging for the bell. It didn’t go well.

As the weeks progressed, I noticed a change in my power and a little snap coming back to my legs. I did the work and in tandem with eating on the Simply for Life plan I was on my way to losing twenty pounds.

My goal was the provincial cyclocross championships and I arrived ready to race instead of dreading it as I had been earlier in the season. Despite being over-geared for a crucial section the race went very well. I was battling for the top three, a placing I was nowhere near earlier the season. The TCTP also helped me save some bullets for the 10 minute warning and I was able to commit to a final charge.

In the end, I placed 3rd in my category, a nice end to my season. What’s more important is that with the intense, structured training in The Time Crunched Cyclist I was able to boost my fitness, drop twenty pounds and fall back in love with racing my bike.

Next year I`ll have goals focused on road racing and the Time Crunched Cyclist will play a major role in achieving those goals.

The Time Crunched Cyclist is available from Velo Pres. It`s easy to understand despite the fact that there is a lot of science behind the plan. Whether your goals include road racing, mountain biking or a fondo the TCTP could play a huge role in achieving them.

The Bald Biker’s Book Review: THE SECRET RACE Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs

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Tyler Hamilton doped and he lied about it.

Now he’s one of the most honest men in cycling.

Hamilton’s new book THE SECRET RACE Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs lays bare the systematic doping programs that have existed at cycling’s top level for years.

If you are looking to the book as a “tell all”, yes it’s all there. He details the shadowy world of team owners, soigeurs, doctors and athletes and he names names. Michele Ferrari, Bjarne Riis and yes, Lance Armstrong. They’re all there.

But there’s more to the book than his allegations toward Armstrong, of which there are many. The Secret Race gives insight into the mind of a doper. Why athletes choose to cheat, how they justify that decision and the burden of guilt they carry until they decide to come clean should they ever choose or be forced to.

In his book (co-written by Daniel Coyle who wrote “Lance Armstrong’s War”), Hamilton explains the feeling of helplessness his US Postal Service team felt arriving on European shores only to learn that without doping there would be no hope in being competitive. Without results, riders don’t get contracts and teams don’t attract sponsors. Hamilton explains that racing clean you felt cheated and doping was the only way to level the playing field.

After justifying the decision to start using performance enhancing drugs and manipulating his hematocrit levels Hamilton begins to participate in a doping program that was originally administered by his US Postal team with the responsibility eventually shifting to the rider after the Festina affair. Hamilton explains the methods and code words used to carry out the practice. EPO is named “Poe” or “Edgar”, blood bags are “BBs”, syringes and needles are hidden in coke cans and doping products are transported by a shadowy man on a motorcycle known only as “Motoman”. Very cloak and dagger.

Hamilton also illustrates in great detail how cyclists manage to keep a step ahead of the sports officials and drug testers and how certain cyclists if caught were able to make deals with the UCI to have positive tests quashed.

In the book Hamilton claims that “everybody gets popped” and that includes himself. When a blood transfusion goes awry, Hamilton ends up with someone else’s blood in his system, gets ill and tests positive. Like others before and after him he denies the charges, lies to the public and tries to carry on as a professional cyclist.

Eventually as we all know, Hamilton has to come clean under oath in a federal investigation.

He’s also had to come clean to his family and friends. Now in his book, he’s coming clean to the world and in doing so he may be doing the sport of professional cycling a great favour. Like David Millar, like Floyd Landis and like Jonathan Vaughters he’s admitting what we’ve all known deep down. Doping was rampant and accepted. If the sport cannot admit to its’ past, perhaps it can never move forward as a clean sport.

It’s a fascinating read into the mind of someone faced with serious choices and consequences.

THE SECRET RACE is published by Random House.

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