Archive for September, 2009

Life Before the Fall (Autumn, that is)

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Bolinas Ridge Trail, CA

Have you noticed Mondays are the only thing with the power to overcome the Sunday Blues? (We’re in a drug-free zone here.) What say we just relax and enjoy ourselves, then?

If that doesn’t do the trick, check this out (your life is not complete until you do).

CURRENT EVENTS: The Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) is underway with the noted absence of defending champ Alberto Contador. Guess his top spot on the podium at the Tour de France was enough. That, and he’s busy scoping out new team options for 2010.

Versus isn’t covering the Vuelta much at all, but Universal Sports is. Unfortunately, Chris Horner was forced to drop out after a massive crash decimated the peloton.

On August 15, Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 (miles, that is) mountain bike race in Colorado, shattering 6-time winner Dave Wiens’ opportunity to win a whopping seven times. I’m thinking Lance just wants to own the whole “I won seven” thing. He’s mighty big into numbers. Wiens beat Lance by about two minutes in 2008 but this time, Lance had Tour training under his belt.

Right! Those guys finished the race in under seven hours so for the fun of it, i thought i’d calculate how long it’d take me. Having done so, I’m gonna guess about 15 hours – well over the 12-hour cutoff time that shuts down literally a third of the participants before they finish (or succumb to delirium).

Training for Leadville? They say the race has some technical patches (and 14,000 feet of elevation change) but i can do technical and elevation, even if it means i have to walk. Still, considering the distance of the race and how i’m affected by fatigue, i’ll admit that realistically, i’d finish in about 20 hours and no less than six hissy fits.

NATURE BREAK: Just after Lance left Leadville, i busied myself along the Bolinas Ridge Trail, on the San Andreas Fault not far from the coast of California. A 1,000-foot elevation gain is what faced me there, with next-to-no technical challenges other than a rental bike two sizes too big and no clipless pedals. Perfect weather. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Vino is keeno!And how cool is this concept? Longboard Vineyards combines the best of two worlds in Healdsburg, CA.

TOUR OF IRELAND: International Pro Cycling is absolutely one of those sports with a decided absence of Black athletes. So you could say this guy is a ground-breaking cyclist (with a heavy history). Adrien Niyonshuti of Rwanda raced his first European race in the Tour of Ireland late August, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Lance Armstrong and sprinting phenom Mark Cavendish. Not a bad way to spend your rookie race. Here’s his team profile.

The ToI was Lance’s final race of his (unpaid) season on Astana. In an interview, he said he’d enjoy a beer with Niyonshuti, whose mentor is Jock Boyer, the first American ever to ride in the Tour de France. Wonder if that beer came to be….

Part of the fun of watching the ToI on Versus was the snarky commentating of Gary Imlach, who says things like how this season ends the “shotgun menage a trois” between Lance, Team Astana and teammate Alberto Contador. Imlach also praised Cavendish for “earning his team some alcohol” after winning a stage. Cavendish had said the team might have a glass of wine to celebrate the stage win.

Incidentally, Lance and Cavendish (as well as Niyonshuti and literally half the peloton) abandoned the race in the third and final stage, in pouring rain, just before St. Patrick’s Hill with its 25-percent gradient. Imlach’s comment about the climb was it “separated the men from the visiting superstars.”

TIMBITS: I’m getting the sense from my Entourage that what the ladies want to know about the wide world of sports this week is, what ever happened with Michael Vick? As of August 14, he’s back on the field with the Philadelphia Eagles.

One such Entourage member brought to my attention the story of Michael’s younger brother, Marcus, who apparently had the talent of Michael but couldn’t handle the pressure that accompanies it. Instead, Marcus has spent the past few years in a variety of legal struggles. Considering all that, Michael is handling his fame surprisingly (cough) well.

Into participatory sports but not so keen on roller derby? Check out the Albuquerque Hoopers.

Happy Fall Folks. Enjoy the weather.