Ride Domestique

Celebrating the spirit of cycling
It isn’t often that I get to write about someone that I knew in the pages of this blog. Of course it isn’t often that you get to chat with, race around, and interact with a person like Chase Pinkham.
His tragic passing marks the departure from the pro peloton, and the Utah cycling community, of one of the nicest guys to ride a bike. But more of that in a minute.
I first met Chase while attending a post-wedding dinner for a roommate at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Salt Lake, where by chance he was our waiter. One of my roommates pointed him out as a pro cyclist and we chatted with him for a few minutes about cycling and racing.
After that I ran into him at various races, and chatted with him here and there. He never dodged us mere-mortals, readily sharing tips with us. After all, we were all seeking the infinite beauty that is cycling at its purest.
The last conversation I had with him was about a week before I heard he had passed to the eternal climbs above. We were both signing in for the Utah Crit series, and it was his return to the bike and racing after an extended period away. He said he was doing well, and made a comment about it being a good day to get dropped, that he was there for fun and to get back into things. He was upbeat and glad to back on a bike.
I admired the beautiful blacked out Specialized Allez he was riding and we chatted about it for a bit. Then it was race time. He in his group, me in mine. We discussed for a few quick minutes after, and we were off on our separate ways.
I didn’t know Chase in the way that many who have been in the local community far longer then I did. But, as I stood with friends and fellow competitors at a memorial service I listened to the stories being told and realized that my experiences were typical. He was a cyclist who epitomized the spirit of the domestique.
Stories were told of him passed out on climbs in competition because he didn’t want to let his teammates down. Of his sacrifices to support one of the budding elite women’s cycling teams here in Utah. Of his kindness, and desire to help others improve. Of his fearless return after devastating accidents. All the things that epitomize what this sport is about.
This week we as a sport lost one of the greats. Perhaps not in palmares, but certainly in heart and spirit.
Farewell Chase. Keep dancing on the pedals up the climbs into eternal mountains. Someday perhaps we’ll ride there together.
Image courtesy of Cycling Utah

It isn’t often that I get to write about someone that I knew in the pages of this blog. Of course it isn’t often that you get to chat with, race around, and interact with a person like Chase Pinkham.

His tragic passing marks the departure from the pro peloton, and the Utah cycling community, of one of the nicest guys to ride a bike. But more of that in a minute.

I first met Chase while attending a post-wedding dinner for a roommate at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Salt Lake, where by chance he was our waiter. One of my roommates pointed him out as a pro cyclist and we chatted with him for a few minutes about cycling and racing.

After that I ran into him at various races, and chatted with him here and there. He never dodged us mere-mortals, readily sharing tips with us. After all, we were all seeking the infinite beauty that is cycling at its purest.

The last conversation I had with him was about a week before I heard he had passed to the eternal climbs above. We were both signing in for the Utah Crit series, and it was his return to the bike and racing after an extended period away. He said he was doing well, and made a comment about it being a good day to get dropped, that he was there for fun and to get back into things. He was upbeat and glad to back on a bike.

I admired the beautiful blacked out Specialized Allez he was riding and we chatted about it for a bit. Then it was race time. He in his group, me in mine. We discussed for a few quick minutes after, and we were off on our separate ways.

I didn’t know Chase in the way that many who have been in the local community far longer then I did. But, as I stood with friends and fellow competitors at a memorial service I listened to the stories being told and realized that my experiences were typical. He was a cyclist who epitomized the spirit of the domestique.

Stories were told of him passed out on climbs in competition because he didn’t want to let his teammates down. Of his sacrifices to support one of the budding elite women’s cycling teams here in Utah. Of his kindness, and desire to help others improve. Of his fearless return after devastating accidents. All the things that epitomize what this sport is about.

This week we as a sport lost one of the greats. Perhaps not in palmares, but certainly in heart and spirit.

Farewell Chase. Keep dancing on the pedals up the climbs into eternal mountains. Someday perhaps we’ll ride there together.

Image courtesy of Cycling Utah

It’s 12:30 am. I just got off my bike, after a tough ride on the trainer. I also just finished watching The Cyclist. Not the best movie ever… but it was fun seeing friends and fellow riders, and routes that I ride regularly on film. But hey, when was the last time that a good movie about cycling was made? Never. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching, and that I didn’t get a little teared up towards the end. The truth is that it did get one thing right. Hint: it wasn’t the sprinting, climbing, or really the racing in general. That was all… well… bad.What it got right was why cycling is great. Why I am riding in my basement at 12:30 am,  when I have a day job to be at in  the morning. Why we wake early for races, and why we ride hard in inclement weather to earn our rule #9 badges.Cycling is great because unlike any other sport when we as weekend warriors go out there and suffer we do it in the pedal strokes of the legends of the sport. We push ourselves. We suffer. We struggle for each other, for our teammates, and for the honor and glory of victory or defeat.Like no other sport in the world, when we compete, when we battle with ourselves and with each other, we are riding in the tire tracks of Coppi, of Merckx, of Jens. Because whether we are pushing 150 watts or 400 watts we are still riding bikes. We are feeling the same pain, we are fighting the same battles in our heads. And when it’s all said and done, when the race is over, or the ride has ended, we fall from our bikes, collapsing, gasping, finished, done. And knowing that we, like they before us, have conquered. Have overcome. Have for a few beautiful moments suffered beautifully. That is what makes cycling great.

It’s 12:30 am. I just got off my bike, after a tough ride on the trainer. I also just finished watching The Cyclist. Not the best movie ever… but it was fun seeing friends and fellow riders, and routes that I ride regularly on film. 

But hey, when was the last time that a good movie about cycling was made? Never. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching, and that I didn’t get a little teared up towards the end. The truth is that it did get one thing right. Hint: it wasn’t the sprinting, climbing, or really the racing in general. That was all… well… bad.

What it got right was why cycling is great. Why I am riding in my basement at 12:30 am,  when I have a day job to be at in  the morning. Why we wake early for races, and why we ride hard in inclement weather to earn our rule #9 badges.

Cycling is great because unlike any other sport when we as weekend warriors go out there and suffer we do it in the pedal strokes of the legends of the sport. We push ourselves. We suffer. We struggle for each other, for our teammates, and for the honor and glory of victory or defeat.

Like no other sport in the world, when we compete, when we battle with ourselves and with each other, we are riding in the tire tracks of Coppi, of Merckx, of Jens. Because whether we are pushing 150 watts or 400 watts we are still riding bikes. We are feeling the same pain, we are fighting the same battles in our heads. And when it’s all said and done, when the race is over, or the ride has ended, we fall from our bikes, collapsing, gasping, finished, done. And knowing that we, like they before us, have conquered. Have overcome. Have for a few beautiful moments suffered beautifully. That is what makes cycling great.

"The guys did a fantastic job, not just a pretty good job." Simon Gerrans correcting Paul Sherwen after the last stage of the Tour Down Under.

This is how you thank your team for helping you win. This is why you help your leaders win.

After it was all said and done, and she gave me back my jacket, she said that if not for having it she surely would have quit. What she likely does not realize, and what I hope to make clear, is that keeping her from quitting is what got me through. If I had not given her the jacket I might have quit too.

—Truth. This is why we ride in teams, train in teams, and race in teams. Because in the defining moment of every race, it’s our teammates, not ourselves, that get us through. They are what pushes us through a few more seconds of pain, to suffer enough to do something truly amazing. We ride for each other, we race for each other, and we win only with each other.

Source: http://patrickrhone.com/2013/04/04/the-challenge/

Beauty observed from the seat of a bicycle

We have all heard of the “golden hour.” The period of time at sunrise and sunset when the soft light of a still obscured Sun lends itself to painting, photography, and other visual arts. It washes away flaws and bathes us in beauty.

Doing a bit of bicycle commuting through the golden hour is one of the great prizes awarded the cyclist who is fighting against the cold, and the long indoor roller rides that fall and winter bring in Utah. These rides expose the fortitude and strength of character needed to engage in bicycle mounted combat the next spring. They wash away the flaws that a year of hard sprints and pushing ourselves to the edge have created. And they open us to the beauty of the world that surrounds us.

As we pedal south through the Salt Lake Valley, it becomes clear that there is another moment of great beauty that exceeds even the golden hour that contains it. There is a moment before the Sun crests the mountains, where it’s golden light floods the canyons. Dark mountains stretch before our vision with golden canyons punctuating their rhythm. Much like the supreme hope that drives us forward in a breakaway,  the moment is fleeting, but it’s beauty is exquisite.

Cars rush past, never looking to their left to see it. But we who ride, look to the East, and watch as the Sun explodes through the barricade of the mountains. In that sublime moment our stroke smooths, our heart leaps with joy, and our soul drives us forward seeking to express through the perfection of our form the beauty of the world around us.

No words survive here, only echoes. Echoes of our hopes, of our plans, of our failures. What we thought we might do when we came here is little more than a shadow; it flickers on the walls for a moment and when we turn to look, it is gone. Doubts swell up and bounce off the walls until they become so loud they can no longer be heard.

—The Cave - Velominati

This is once again some of the best writing on cycling. Period. If you don’t read Velominati you should. Welcome to the Cave.

La Flamme Rouge. The universal symbol in cycling that the end is near. It is met with both love and horror, as each rider knows that what has been hard up until now is about to become even harder. Every fiber of muscle  will be called on to help them remain in contact as the pace increases and the sprinters begin their explosive approaches to the line.
The season here in Utah is about to wrap up, and it has been a fantastic season for what began a year ago as a ragtag team of newbies. We are ranked 3rd overall in the UCA Premier Points standings, have the #2 racer in the State Championship series, are #2 as a team in the Utah Crit series (over 1000pts ahead of the next team) and have added some really solid talent to our squad.
We had our season end awards ceremony a few days ago and I was given the award that means more to me than winning and upgrading! I was nominated for the Domestique award, and was given it. Honestly I love working for my team, I love working for other riders. I ride better when I am. For me that is what cycling is about, working to help your teammates succeed. I will never be a pro. I will probably never upgrade beyond a Cat 3 racer. Those aren’t my goals. But, helping my teammates take their cycling to whatever level they can, that is my goal. And I love working for them.
So to my teammates who nominated me, Thank You. I am honored. I hope that I can live up to the spirit of the Domestique, and guide you to many many victories. You guys rock!

La Flamme Rouge. The universal symbol in cycling that the end is near. It is met with both love and horror, as each rider knows that what has been hard up until now is about to become even harder. Every fiber of muscle  will be called on to help them remain in contact as the pace increases and the sprinters begin their explosive approaches to the line.

The season here in Utah is about to wrap up, and it has been a fantastic season for what began a year ago as a ragtag team of newbies. We are ranked 3rd overall in the UCA Premier Points standings, have the #2 racer in the State Championship series, are #2 as a team in the Utah Crit series (over 1000pts ahead of the next team) and have added some really solid talent to our squad.

We had our season end awards ceremony a few days ago and I was given the award that means more to me than winning and upgrading! I was nominated for the Domestique award, and was given it. Honestly I love working for my team, I love working for other riders. I ride better when I am. For me that is what cycling is about, working to help your teammates succeed. I will never be a pro. I will probably never upgrade beyond a Cat 3 racer. Those aren’t my goals. But, helping my teammates take their cycling to whatever level they can, that is my goal. And I love working for them.

So to my teammates who nominated me, Thank You. I am honored. I hope that I can live up to the spirit of the Domestique, and guide you to many many victories. You guys rock!

N+1 just happened again… 
Can you ever have enough bikes? I have no idea… The photo contains my entire racing stable. Kona Jake, Specialized Tarmac SL2 and the new kid on the block the Felt B2 Pro. They all make me fast in their own area and way!

N+1 just happened again… 

Can you ever have enough bikes? I have no idea… The photo contains my entire racing stable. Kona Jake, Specialized Tarmac SL2 and the new kid on the block the Felt B2 Pro. They all make me fast in their own area and way!

Why do we breakaway? Is it to run for victory? to outrun others? to push ourselves to the limit? to run from our demons? No. Breakaways are expressions of eternal optimism. They require that we push ourselves to the limit, and hold it. Enduring pain that riders inside the bunch never experience, all for the hope, the dream, of winning. Of carrying the move to the finish line.
Because when it comes down to it breakaways are more a mental game then anything. As soon as the thought of being caught appears in our minds we shove it away. We bury it under the pain in our legs, the burning in our lungs, the desire in our hearts. Because otherwise it will drag us slowly back into the bunch, leaving us more exhausted than any headwind. More hollow than any defeat.
Breakaways are how we show the world that we believe. That we dream!
And when they fail, the true breakaway rider slowly drags himself back through the bunch to the front. Waiting, patiently, for the next moment when an attack will go up the road. Because he believes. Because he knows, the next move will be the winning move, and he wants to be in it.
Because we, the riders of the breakaway, are the eternal optimists of the cycling world. And in those moments when we are off the front, we know we can win.
(Photo above is Christophe Riblon winner of the Super Combativity award at the 2013 Tour de France. And an eternal optimist. Taken by VirtKitty on flickr)

Why do we breakaway? Is it to run for victory? to outrun others? to push ourselves to the limit? to run from our demons? No. Breakaways are expressions of eternal optimism. They require that we push ourselves to the limit, and hold it. Enduring pain that riders inside the bunch never experience, all for the hope, the dream, of winning. Of carrying the move to the finish line.

Because when it comes down to it breakaways are more a mental game then anything. As soon as the thought of being caught appears in our minds we shove it away. We bury it under the pain in our legs, the burning in our lungs, the desire in our hearts. Because otherwise it will drag us slowly back into the bunch, leaving us more exhausted than any headwind. More hollow than any defeat.

Breakaways are how we show the world that we believe. That we dream!

And when they fail, the true breakaway rider slowly drags himself back through the bunch to the front. Waiting, patiently, for the next moment when an attack will go up the road. Because he believes. Because he knows, the next move will be the winning move, and he wants to be in it.

Because we, the riders of the breakaway, are the eternal optimists of the cycling world. And in those moments when we are off the front, we know we can win.

(Photo above is Christophe Riblon winner of the Super Combativity award at the 2013 Tour de France. And an eternal optimist. Taken by VirtKitty on flickr)

What’s my cadence? How hard am I going? Can I go harder without blowing up? When is the next hill? What’s my average speed? Is this a Strava segment?
All those things flash through my mind when I am on my road bike. It’s steady handling and raw speed bring a rapidity and sharpness of thought that is exhilarating. My heart rate races up and down as I sprint and recover, climb and descend, pushing myself and my bike.
But that is my race bike. This bike is my fixed gear, my fixie. My commuter. It is heavy, geared relatively low and is not intended to be fast. In a former life it was a Panasonic DX-5000 but now it has only one gear, and that gear does not coast.
So when I am on this bike, particularly at night, my mind begins to wander. To empty. This is not a bike, it is a meditation machine. The constant spin of my legs, the feeling of being on edge, the calm, the silence. The relaxed riding position. The fact I usually don’t have any particular time or place to be. It all turns these times in the saddle into transcendent moments of peace.
That is the power of the fixie. Hipsters can claim it’s the simple maintenance, the reliability, the aesthetic. But, let’s face it. That’s like racers claiming they shave their legs for the aero advantage.
The power of fixies is that as your legs breathe life into them, they merge your soul with the pavement, and the world.

What’s my cadence? How hard am I going? Can I go harder without blowing up? When is the next hill? What’s my average speed? Is this a Strava segment?

All those things flash through my mind when I am on my road bike. It’s steady handling and raw speed bring a rapidity and sharpness of thought that is exhilarating. My heart rate races up and down as I sprint and recover, climb and descend, pushing myself and my bike.

But that is my race bike. This bike is my fixed gear, my fixie. My commuter. It is heavy, geared relatively low and is not intended to be fast. In a former life it was a Panasonic DX-5000 but now it has only one gear, and that gear does not coast.

So when I am on this bike, particularly at night, my mind begins to wander. To empty. This is not a bike, it is a meditation machine. The constant spin of my legs, the feeling of being on edge, the calm, the silence. The relaxed riding position. The fact I usually don’t have any particular time or place to be. It all turns these times in the saddle into transcendent moments of peace.

That is the power of the fixie. Hipsters can claim it’s the simple maintenance, the reliability, the aesthetic. But, let’s face it. That’s like racers claiming they shave their legs for the aero advantage.

The power of fixies is that as your legs breathe life into them, they merge your soul with the pavement, and the world.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

So said William Henley in his poem Invictus. Tonight was a bloody, but unbowed kind of night on the bike. Some nights, some races, some rides are like that. Your lungs are bursting, your legs are screaming, but you just can’t move forward, you just can’t hang on.

But, you don’t feel frustrated. You know that when you get off the bike, even though you would normally consider that level of performance unacceptably slow, you gave it your all. And when it comes down to it that is what riding bikes is all about. Being able to hang your helmet up at the end of the day having ridden the hardest you could ride that day.

Epic rides & Death marches

You know immediately it is going to be a good day. Your legs tick over the miles with smooth graceful form. Their quick spinning is transferred to the humming rubber of your tires, and from there they spin the world with ever increasing speed. Fatigue seems a distant memory from other rides, rather than the real eventuality that it always is.

You, the world, and your bike are one. The world makes sense, and you feel on top of it. It is a good day.

Alas this wonderful transient state cannot last. Every mile our legs spin out is a mile closer to the fatigue that transforms the easy spin into a slower one, and then gradually into a choppy squared off stroke. Arms grow weary. Legs begin to ache and cramp. Gaps begin to form in the pace line. Suddenly you realize that you are in survival mode. You just want to be done. Your fun easy spin has turned into a death march, with only one way to exit. Finish.

The venerable wikipedia explains that a death march is: “a forced march of prisoners of war or other captives or deportees with the intent to kill, brutalize, weaken and/or demoralize as many of the captives as possible along the way. It is distinguished in this way from simple prisoner transport via foot march. Death marches usually consist of harsh physical labor and abuse, neglect of prisoner injury and illness, deliberate starvation and dehydration…” which sounds oddly similar to all the races and long rides I have ever done. If it hasn’t already been used as text to advertise the Crusher in the Tushar, a race I will someday be destroyed by, it really could be. And people would still ride it.

Because, it is in those moments that the spirit of the domestique is imparted to us. Giving up is never an option, as nice as it would be to give up. In the end every Death March is just another epic ride, whose legend will grow with each retelling.

Riding centuries is how we judge our fitness. It’s how we reach our limits. It’s how we make the world make sense as cyclists. Good days and you legs gobble the miles. Bad days and they whine the whole way.
Memorial Day here in the USA provided the opportunity to do a mid-season leg check. And to do it alone.
I had never tackled the solo century before and I decided it was high time to do it. So I grabbed my trusty bike, suited up and went on an epic ride. The ride would include nearly 7000 feet of climbing and 100 miles of riding. This was going to be awesome!
And… it was rough. My legs were not there at all, I had breathing issues as I reached nearly 11,000 ft in elevation, I wanted to stop, I wanted to crawl in someone’s car and ride back to my waiting car. I wanted a nap. It was bad.
But I didn’t. This is the magic of the solo century. There is no eject button. There is no sag wagon to pluck you from the road. It’s just you and the bike. And so it becomes an epic struggle between your desire to complete the ride, and your desire to crawl back into your car.
These are the moments where cycling reveals our character. Where it forges our resolve. And somewhere between the sky and the valley, I realized that giving up isn’t an option. Giving up is death. So I rode on, toiling up ever steepening climbs, praying for a tailwind to ease my legs, dreaming of sitting in my car drinking chocolate milk.
On and on I rode, until I took the picture above at the very top, the midway point of the ride. Then came the descent, the car, and the chocolate milk. Then came the final victory.

Riding centuries is how we judge our fitness. It’s how we reach our limits. It’s how we make the world make sense as cyclists. Good days and you legs gobble the miles. Bad days and they whine the whole way.

Memorial Day here in the USA provided the opportunity to do a mid-season leg check. And to do it alone.

I had never tackled the solo century before and I decided it was high time to do it. So I grabbed my trusty bike, suited up and went on an epic ride. The ride would include nearly 7000 feet of climbing and 100 miles of riding. This was going to be awesome!

And… it was rough. My legs were not there at all, I had breathing issues as I reached nearly 11,000 ft in elevation, I wanted to stop, I wanted to crawl in someone’s car and ride back to my waiting car. I wanted a nap. It was bad.

But I didn’t. This is the magic of the solo century. There is no eject button. There is no sag wagon to pluck you from the road. It’s just you and the bike. And so it becomes an epic struggle between your desire to complete the ride, and your desire to crawl back into your car.

These are the moments where cycling reveals our character. Where it forges our resolve. And somewhere between the sky and the valley, I realized that giving up isn’t an option. Giving up is death. So I rode on, toiling up ever steepening climbs, praying for a tailwind to ease my legs, dreaming of sitting in my car drinking chocolate milk.

On and on I rode, until I took the picture above at the very top, the midway point of the ride. Then came the descent, the car, and the chocolate milk. Then came the final victory.

I thought, ‘I’m a little bit stronger than the other guys in the break, but of course, less fast,’” said Voigt. “I said, ‘now or never, now or never. Everybody’s hurting now.’ And it worked. It worked once again.

—Originally posted here

Not a race report… but my new desktop for my computer. I tend to race this way, though not with the success that Hinault did.
Keep attacking!

Not a race report… but my new desktop for my computer. I tend to race this way, though not with the success that Hinault did.

Keep attacking!