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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Basso Takes Pink: News Cycles

In cycling news today: Ivan Basso ascended the podium at the Giro d'Italia decked in pink after claiming one of the most memorable and epic Giros to date. The Giro, along with its twin sister, the Tour de France, make up two of the three classic stage races. Stage racing is a long game with strategies and tactics thought out well in advance that may be slow to materialize over the course of a three week race. Each stage can take several hours to complete and for the casual sports fan, that is just too long to tune in to follow. For those who feel nine innings of baseball is too slow, watching cycling is torture. Lots of armchair sports fans tune in to the final stage and that is about it. This year's Giro had me captivated day in and day out and here is why:

The Giro At A Glance:
  • The opening flat stages in Holland threw some nasty winds at the riders, causing some pile-ups that threw the entire race into disarray. Early favorites like Sastre were virtually eliminated from the start. Other teams were crippled to the point of losing some of their more talented support riders and making the distribution of the workload more concentrated on a few.
  • Again, the weather created chaos for the Strada Bianchi Stage 7 and a little bad luck and a few forced mistakes threw the contest back up in the air.
  • Stage 12 saw the GC contenders hammer on each other to gain the upper hand in a stage that had originally been a bone thrown to the big sprinters in the group.
  • Nibali's stupidly amazing descent on the slick roads of Stage 14 to give the Italians a taste of home filed advantage.
  • The duel between Cadel Evans' thumping power and Ivan Basso's featherlight tip-toe styles of climbing up the Zoncolan on Stage 15.
  • The Plan de Corones ITT mtn TT saw riders opt for amateurishly looking compact cranks with 26-28 cassettes to lamely struggle up the pukingly steep ascents.
  • The insanely heroic descent made by Arroyo on Stage 19 on the wet roads that made the mighty, mighty Basso flinch.
  • Stage 20 was amazingly beautiful. I caught some of it on an internet feed and it looked like a string of postcards. with a descent on the other side that crackled with crisp technical feats and the electricity of speed.

News Cycles:

Taylor Phinney of Trek-Livestrong won his second U23 Paris-Roubaix here. This is pretty significant as Phinney, son of the former Team 7-11 star and US National Champion Davis Phinney, and is actualizing all the expectations heaped upon him as America's next great cyclist.

Taiwan's Super Athlete, Craig Johns, covers the Hualien Triathlon and sadly announces his retirement from triathlons here. The local triathlete community can now breathe a sigh of relief that his reign of terror has come to an end. This does not mean the cyclists can have a reprieve as Johns will continue to pursue cycling which isn't so hard on the joints.

Nathan reports on our Sunday ride here. This is why a Garmin is great.

Michael C. loses a street brawl with a pothole here.

Sabinna schools us on component sourcing here.

Joe Friel tells us everything science really knows about muscle cramps here. The short answer is "nothing", but don't tell the sport drink and supplement companies. I always find discussions of cramping interesting as I suffer from cramping on occasion. I found the best solution is the kitchen sink approach. I take 3 Tums before a ride for the magnesium, a couple bananas before a ride for potassium, try to stretch my calves (usual culprit), adjust my fit, drink enough liquids with a mix of water and sport drink on hot days... basically everything short of voodoo magic.

Darryl has launched his awesome directory for bike blogs here. I have to hand it to him for putting out the effort to consolidate the bike-blog universe into an easy to use directory that is easily classified into category and location. Check the Taiwan blogs ;)

Virginia Xing blogs on her preparations for a weekend of racing (even if it was complicated by rain) here. I was happy to have chatted with her a bit on the phone the other day to officially make her acquaintance. I hope to ride with her in the future to learn a thing or two. If you visit her blog you can see how much effort she puts into her training... and with a fistful of little boys to herd. Truly heroic.

Anyone else have something to report?

Beyond Lukang

Dog Watching

I hadn't planned on doing any riding today and was feeling good from yesterday's ride, so I thought a little stretching the legs might be about it for a lazy Sunday. I work hard all week and ride hard when I can. I figured I deserved a day to laze around.

Then I got the call that Nathan M. would be on his way down to sell one of the bikes in his stable and intended to do a little riding before meeting the buyer. The biking addiction turned on and I was ready to fly out the door for another ride. Michael T. was also on his way down to my area and the weather wasn't rainy. Yes!

Nathan is a really strong and dedicated rider who brings his big-city Taipei style of cycling down to quaint little Taichung every so often. Nathan is fast and powerful, so I was eager to stretch my legs out a bit.

Old Power Line

We passed through Lukang and headed into the tangle of roads that cut through the mud flats and fish ponds along the coast.

Following the Freeway

I really wish I could fully describe where we went so that any interested readers could check it out for themselves, but the roads out there are just a scramble of little lanes and alleys that follow along the Number 61 Freeway. That's about all I can say to describe our route. I highly recommend just getting out there and if you have the time, try to get a little lost.

Nathan Opens A Can Of Whup-Ass!

I had a great time exchanging pulls with Nathan. We pushed the speeds up into the mid 40's and made use of the flat terrain to open it up... to run the carbon out... er whatever.

Navigating The Landscape

As we headed North, the headwind really picked up. I like to call it doing "flat hills." Both hills and wind involve a force pushing you backward that you must resist.


We passed through all sorts of concrete bridgeworks and coastal construction projects. At one point Nathan and I exchanged pulls on a long, open bridge with a nasty headwind. We each managed to sustain a paltry 28kph the entire way and were both pretty much ready to turn the wind off by the end.

We wound our way back to the HSR station in time to meet the buyer and make a successful sale. It was a really nice day of riding. I felt great to be in good company with Michael and Nathan, and we had enough challenges along the way to give me the satisfaction of getting a good ride in. I love days like this.

Michael and Nathan Pose On A Dike

Nathan's Report with maps here